Don’t “Should” Yourself in the Foot

Hi friends! *Big inhale* What a time it is to be alive! Only 7 months into 2020, and what a crazy, chaotic, whirlwind it’s been!

As we head into our fourth month of self-quarantine, I can’t say that it has gotten any easier. Aside from the obvious restrictions, just like the rest of the world, I have struggled with what exactly my new “normal” is looking like, both mentally and emotionally.

Just one of the many consequences of this global pandemic is that we are now all being urged to hustle harder than ever. We are given examples of Frida Kahlo, Shakespeare, Isaac Newton (just to name a few) who all thrived while under lockdown. I’ve received newsletters and read countless articles from my fave magazine subscriptions urging me to use the presumed “downtime” I now have to learn a new skill, take on a high intensity workout routine, or “simply” declutter my life.

It’s as if, every second that I am not building towards these ”shoulds,” is a second wasted.

A should is an expectation IMPOSED by us or onto us. While they might seem like motivators, “shoulding” ourselves is actually a major energy drain as it forces us to split focus. We’re forcing our minds to be in two places at once and is often wrapped in guilt and even shame. The pressure of it all is convincing AF.

Put your finger down if you ever feel like vegging out on the couch, eat everything in sight, and just do a whole lot of nothing, but then that little voice in your head tells you, “you should be more productive while you’re at home, sis…never waste a day on the couch,” so now you feel guilty mid-laze and shame yourself for not being as disciplined as others and bam…it’s no longer a day of R&R but rather anxiety just waiting to creep in … (*slowly puts finger down*)

HALOTOP2

There’s this common misconception that if we lounge around the house, we must also simultaneously take on a new hobby, like reading, for instance.

This imposed guilt is toxic imo, so that’s why, a few weeks back, I made a commit to cleanse from this “should” with the help of @halotopcreamery and actually celebrate that feel-good feeling from setting goals and taking action on my own terms, OKURRR!

Side note: Halo Top is ya girl’s fave ice cream, so big s/o to them for working with my sweet-toothed self!

But for real, Halo Top’s formula in itself has helped chip away at this “shoulding” culture, because all of our lives, we are told that: “we shouldn’t eat the whole pint,” or that, “ice cream should be a special treat.” But hallelujah that Halo Top is known for their fewer cal/less sugar because, under the latter imposed notion, every night must be a special occasion in my house, because I go through several pints a week, and I’m not mad bout’ it, LOL!

Anyway, as the month has gone on, life has only become even more hectic with the recent global social justice movement, we’ve been experiencing.

Days seem to move a bit slower for me and now more than ever, it has been imperative that I take extra care of little ol’ me.

I realized that up until this point, I have only robbed myself of the satisfaction of real, uninterrupted, rest. Listening to all the “shoulds” of this new era, has only left me never truly in the moment, but rather caught up in a story of another choice that could have been made.

So in efforts of a healthier cycle of self-love and self-care, I have been eliminating the “shoulds” that imply obligation and expectation. On the days, I decide to veg out, I’m going to commit to just that, with an extra pint of Halo Top, while I’m at it!

HALO3

After reflecting on the heaviness of the past couple weeks, I’ve realized that now is the time to take up space and be loud! We are all worthy of navigating on our own terms, especially as the world around us, is seemingly falling apart.

So to circle back to the daunting question many of us have been asked:

“Are you going to learn any new skills during the pandemic?

MY ANSWER:

…I already am. How to cope with the pandemic, how to get through the day knowing everyone I love is sad and scared, and how to read the news and still go on.

And all that is enough. I don’t have to come out of this with new skills, new projects, new expectations, or new accomplishments. What matters is that I come out of this”  –

So the next time I hear that little voice convincing me that, “I should never waste a day on the couch,” I will reply, “or maybe, there’s never been a better day than today, to be on that dang couch, mkay!!! (BIG CLAP)

HALO4

Indulge or hustle at your own accord, sis! Because, hennieee, you deserve that right.

Our Almost NYC Move During COVID-19 Outbreak

“GOD WILL WRECK YOUR PLANS WHEN HE SEES THAT YOUR PLANS ARE ABOUT TO WRECK YOU”

Less than 4 weeks ago, we were wrapping up our “Goodbye LA” YouTube Video and shipping our final boxes to our new home, in NYC. In fact, this exact blog post announcing our soon departure, read a hell of a lot different, too! Our landlord performed her final inspection to our apartment and the move out cleaning service we hired was set in motion for that weekend, as well. So crazy! We were doing the damn thing, ahhh! What a dream come true.

Ever since I was little, I’ve dreamt of starting off my mornings w/ a hearty bagel & cream cheese, rushing to my subway stop, and riding into the city. A city that encapsulated everything I’ve ever wanted. And I just knew one day, I had to be a part of it. (Thanks Sex and the City)

Growing up in California, you just don’t get that hustle and bustle type of energy. Life moves slower… there’s this gentler approach to getting stuff done. Meanwhile, that East Coast mentality is aggressive, it’s in your face: its that: give no bullshit, take no bullshit, every single f*kn day matters in this expensive ass city, vibe (v much more on brand for my Aries personality). 

And for some reason, during these past few years visiting NYC, there was this gravitational pull into this new way of life.

I’d been in LA for almost 5 years and quite frankly, I was ready for a change. LA is a city that I’d fallen in love with many years ago and though, it’s put me through some heavy shit, it loved me right back. LA made me a mommy (to my bbyboy Shih-Tzu, Troy), it reconnected me with bae, it encouraged me to begin this very blog and soon after gave me the opportunity to quit my corporate job and begin the life of my dreams (doing what I love every single day…(THIS!) My walks around the neighborhood consisted of palm trees lining the streets, blue sunny skies, and the prettiest view of LA, imo! So you are probs asking why tf was I wanting to leave.

Among the other reasons, simply put: I WAS JUST GETTING TOO DAMN COMFORTABLE. This life felt cozy, it felt safe, and over time, (forgive me for sounding ungrateful) it became boring. I did not feel challenged in any way and high-key was feeling complacent and that was beginning to mess with my mental health. The plush routine of it all was repetitive and was no longer serving me joy. In fact, I felt happier almost anywhere else I visited. And I don’t even think it was particular to this city, but more of a ME thing. I’ve moved around all my life. I’ve lived in SF, The Valley, Santa Barbara, Rome, then LA. I def fall into that cliché category of not being able to stay in one place for too long. I need new scenery, new cultures, and new perspectives to stimulate me. And being that my mission is to encourage girls to live thy best life and try new sh*t, I just wasn’t doing that. I needed to feel ALIVE again and the East Coast life, gave me that.

We decided this was it. This was where God wanted us & though it wasn’t easy, it all worked out. We made all necessary arrangements: sold our furniture, managed to fit all of our remaining belongings into boxes, and signed the lease to our dream apt.

(I’ll be working on a blog post – on something around the lines of: “What You Need to Know Before Moving to NYC/Cross-Country – so stay tuned for that at a later time)

But, within days, our seemingly indestructible dream, was disrupted by COVID-19.

For reference, we signed our lease literally HOURS before COVID-19 was declared a national emergency (fml).

W/ every new mandate, new statistic, we tried to work around it. In our minds, “God wouldn’t allow us to make this move, just to place us in danger.” WE HAD TO MAKE THIS WORK! The more we told ourselves this, the more there were signs that indicated otherwise. NYC, the city that never sleeps, soon entered into panic hibernation. I saw the toughest city I knew, now plagued with devastation. But amidst the chaos, we loaded our boxes…we were doing the damn thing! Until moments later, we received a call. I was reminded that my medical history now puts me at risk. But that never crossed my mind, NYC was it for us. Soon after, just as beautifully as our plans came together, was as quickly as they fell apart. God is always working, but man did he really go outta his way to change our hearts. This sudden shift felt like a twisted joke.

So we sat and cried and cried some more. We questioned God, “why now? What are you trying to teach us? If we go, we promise we will act with caution!” But the more we asked these naive questions, the more we couldn’t avoid the signs any longer. Within days, this “dream come true” literally became a fucking nightmare!

Through our loss of control, we believe, God was trying to speak through humility and introspection. So, w/ heavy hearts, we decided to not go forward w/ the move.

(Damn, weeks later and this still makes me tear up, saying aloud)

It came down to moving forward with our dream no matter the costs (and we are talking our lives here) or literally give up everything we had been working towards for months…oh, not to mention: lose out on $6k-8k on already paid rent, deposits, moving costs, etc., risk temporary homelessness here in LA (as we’d already put notice), and SO MUCH MORE, oooo girl, there was just so much more on the line, but that’s for another time!

But at the end of the day, what we were experiencing, was just a sliver in comparison to those truly affected, and my heart just aches for the world. Especially, because, for the first time in our lifetimes do we see the world come together in this collective experience of trauma, grief, and anxiety.

Now, that we are on…what…day 1 million??? into the stay-at-home order, we have felt ALL the emotions. Initially, all we felt was sadness. I mean, that don’t want to eat, don’t feel like showering, not replying to anybody… sadness. Not to be dramatic, but it’s like we were mourning a death. This new life: full of adventure, full of possibilities, one that was literally just HOURS away from coming alive. We sat in a now, unfurnished apartment forced to stare at the 10 boxes that held our entire lives within them. If it were not for a neighbor of ours who flaked the day before our initial move-out, we wouldn’t have the only piece of furniture that did not sell: our bed. (See, I’m telling y’all! God works in mysterious ways) but I mean, this literally gave us more of an excuse to be in bed all day, entirely in our feels because we literally had no where else to go. Meanwhile, we were now fighting against this bull of a leasing company to get our money back.

It just all felt like doomsday all around. As an empath, I feeeel so very deeply. And seeing the death toll rise astronomically within the city just broke my heart. But as days turned into weeks, the sadness soon turned into fear. Because of my high-risk status, our weekly grocery runs (even with proper PPE) would result in massive panic attacks. As the numbers increased, my desire to even go on short walks, decreased. I was and still am scared to death by this virus. To avoid the chaos of the stores, we began ordering via delivery. But then the anxieties of properly handling/disinfecting the goods and produce came into play. I saw those anxieties almost turn into like OCD tendencies when it came to disinfecting. It all just became triggering AF. Poor bae knows to follow the many cleaning procedures I have put in place just to make me feel semi-protected during our outings or even just at home. We have the throwing out the trash procedure, the walking the dog procedure, the receiving PR packages procedure, the delivered groceries procedure, it’s a damn PROCESS but that is our new normal.

I no longer felt like myself anymore. It became harder to articulate all that I was feeling. We went from mourning a life of “what would have been” to now a general grieving of the loss of life as we knew it. So wild. I don’t think anyone in my life would have ever considered me a home-body prior to this experience but I truly, honestly, and genuinely feel like an agoraphobic. I don’t want to leave the house, I don’t want to get some “fresh” air, I don’t want to be anywhere where my life is now put in danger. I love love love life itself but I just am so afraid of risking that all for a simple outing. IMMA STAY MY ASS AT HOME, OKURR. And considering that social media is my job, you’d think, (since I had more down time), I’d take advantage of it and use this time to be productive AF…I mean, it seems like everyone else has. But I just simply don’t feel inspired to create as I did. I’m not finding this pandemic as a window of fun or a time to film: 2 YouTube vids, 3 Tik-Toks, a blog post, or try-on haul. Hell, it took me almost a month to write this damn piece. I feel among the lines of “lazy,” “undisciplined” and “unmotivated,” but I know those are not the words to use. Though, I see so many cute trends circulating, I just feel so damn distant to it all.

Does that make sense? I’ve been stuck in this weird middle ground of acknowledging my privilege of staying home and the blessing of good health but also mourning my ability to be one, care-free with the outside world.

I remember on week 2, I finally had the urge to finally feel some sun and join bae on his walks with our pup. But unfortunately, because of where we live, there is still much foot traffic in the streets so it was NOT a pleasant experience, to say the v least.

And it was on this day, when I had an epiphany.

That night I saw this quote that said, “sometimes God holds you back until the road is safe and clear to continue. Be thankful for the stall! What is meant for you won’t pass you by.

LIKE DAMNN! Is this not so specific to life rn?!?

We were over here initially mourning a life that “would have been” but were looking at it, in a very romanticized frame of thinking. Had we went through with the move, our live’s would be even MORE limiting. We wouldn’t have the luxury of driving anywhere we wanted but instead would be forced to walk, which is like something (as I mentioned) that is a HUGE trigger for me. Hell, not to mention, NYC being THE epicenter of the virus, CAN WE JUST TAKE A MOMENT TO ACKNOWLEDGE HOW MUCH MORE OF A MESS I WOULD BE THERE. I truly don’t know how my mental health would stay afloat in this current state. Additionally, I think it would feel like a very restricting life. To know we risked it all, to travel during the shut down, get to NYC to start this “new, exciting life,” just to be stuck in this 500 square foot apartment…BIG YIKES. That would be such a terrible way to begin this new chapter in our lives, OOOO and HELLLLO, how much more at risk I would be every single day! I’ve heard my own New Yorker friends say they miss New York. That right there just puts this whole thing into perspective.

As the weeks now have turned into months, I’ve learned so many things. 1) I’m one strong ass bish for working through all the crazy emotions of this experience so far. For more days than I’d like to admit, I couldn’t help but compare my productivity to others. I felt soooo inadequate seeing so many people “thrive” in this time vs me struggling to do the damn bare minimum. But, again what took me some time to understand is 2) grief looks different on everyone. Some people over function, busy themselves, and complete tasks head-on when facing trauma, grief, anxiety, powerlessness. Some people (MEEEE!!!) under function, slow down, internalize, & need rest. Both are valid and respectable ways to cope. Neither is right or wrong. And 3) though this is a collective experience, this is also a very unique experience. It all comes in waves. No day will feel like the next. Some good days, and some very confusing ones too. And that’s okay! In fact, 4) the most productive days are the ones where I find the peace of “just being”. Not mourning “what could have been,” not mourning “what was,” but actually just being, in the here and now. 5) The inability to follow through with the move was indeed a blessing in disguise. God kept us safe in LA.

To this day, this was the hardest decision I’ve ever made… and then the hardest to accept too, because this was years in the making. We were so careful in our planning of this, never in a million years did I expect our dream to take such a turn. I’d be lying, if I said we haven’t tortured ourselves by watching old vids of us in the city, replaying our NYC playlist, and asking ourselves a million times if this was the best decision for us, (especially now, as states are beginning to re-open). But ultimately, this just wasn’t our time. I find solace in knowing God has a plan and even though it didn’t work out (BIG F*CKING CRY) does not mean it won’t happen…just not right now.

I’m thankful that we’ve been documenting on the backend the “Goodbye LA, Tribute”,  for the past couple months (b roll of LA, our experience with prepping for the move, finding an apartment, etc) but we also recorded when shit hit the fan, so to speak, as it was raw and happening in real time! So stay tuned for a very interesting video!

I am also thankful God spoke to us before it was too late. God didn’t want our new lives to be filled with fear, anxieties, and chaos, if even for just a while. He wanted us to live freely, in his bounty. So if anything, this time has only strengthened our calling to the city. We just can’t wait.

It most certainly could be worse, but it’s hard when you feel so much for the world and then bam, it also hits you close to home too! I just want to say that although, the cases are decreasing, it is still okay to be angry, it is still okay to be sad, it’s still okay to feel all the range of emotions.

Many of our stories are being rewritten right now and it’s scary as hell. But please remember: “NOTHING CAN DESTROY THE PLAN GOD HAS FOR YOU, NOT EVEN A PANDEMIC.”

I can’t wait for the day where we can freely live again. And I most certainly can’t wait for the day where we will, “wake up in the city that doesn’t sleep.” But until then: LA, I am embracing you w/ open arms.

Thank you angels for all the support during this time! Love you all! We are in this mess, together 😭

How to Stay Positive During an Injury

As many of y’all know, I sprained my ankle this week 😦 The sprain is considered a grade III sprain, so ya girl has not been able to walk in like a week! The injury stemmed from bad form at the gym and it has been such a struggleee! Watching your time and weekly goals slip through your fingers can cause even the most resilient of us to spiral into frustration.

Today is day 6 in bed but its felt like an ETERNITY, FAM!! The first word that came to mind, (aside from all the curse words) was, “inconvenience.” Not only am I sidelined from the gym and my 9-5, but most importantly I am disabled from going out and shooting some new content!

On the onset of the injury, I still forced myself to go out and shoot, but joke was on me, because I woke up the next day extremely swollen and in agonizing pain! Panic & anger overcame me! As a creative, not being able to do what you identify the most with is always frustrating! As much as the physical pain hurts, the inability to create, feels even that much more painful! I had so many scheduled shoots, location ideas and collabs that needed to be executed. UGHH!

And even though, I am not even half way healed, heck, I still can’t even walk on the damn foot, I’ve come to finally accept what cards I’ve been dealt.

So as everything does happen for a reason, what is the light of the end of this tunnel?

This is the question, I had been asking myself for the past couple of days.

So here are my 5 reasons, an injury can actually be beneficial to your life and well-being.

  1. Grow a new appreciation for your body 
    • I mean why did I ever complain before? Haha! In all seriousness, the human body is so magical and now more than ever, I see how ungrateful I was for all that I could do with it.  I miss my normally functioning legs, y’all!! These crutches have not been kind to me 😦
  2. Mastering your perspective on shitty situations 
    • As much as I’d like to sulk around all day, I’ve tried my best to shake off all of the negative energies and focus on the progress I’ve been making!
      • Day 6 and I am now able to wiggle my toes!! YAS!
    • Instead of wondering, “what if I get worse?” I am saying positive affirmations aloud! E.g: “I will get better everyday!”
  3. Plot your comeback
    • THIS! THIS! THIS! As bummed out as I was, I have planned out the exact content I will be creating! Scratch what I had in mind before, I will be pushing the boundaries on my new stuff & let me tell you, it’ll be f*cking dope!
    • Part of me sees this as a blessing because before, yes, I had a vision in mind but now I’m yearning for something even greater.
  4. Trust the process
    • UGH, this can be so hard! I am one of the most impatient people I know! I hate when things don’t go as planned so trusting in the chaos is for sure easier said than done! And to be honest, all I want to do to get back out there and shoot if even for 20 mins a day! But as I learned, that’ll only bite me in the ass!
    • So in order for me to embrace what is happening, I have to trust in the unknown. Of course it’s scary, but hey, the unknown has it’s own way of working, and most of the time, for the best!
    • I know this may sound crazy, but I try to think what could have happened to me, if this injury did not occur. How about if I was shooting on a street, and a car missed the stopped sign and hit me? Or how about if I was biting off more than I could chew and had a breakdown? I know these are extreme, but maybe just maybe this injury prevented those situations from occurring!!

 

*I hope this read is helpful for anyone who is in the same predicament! My biggest take from all of this is to be kind to yourself, hard I know, but we will get through this! Xo 

 

How to Combat Bloating…Or Try To

Last week on Instagram, I shared a very personal and honest struggle I deal with behind closed doors. I touched on my main symptom in the videos I shared, but chose not to go into detail, until now. For as far back as I can remember, I have suffered from IBS. IBS is a painful gastrointestinal condition. The main symptom I suffer with specifically is severe bloating. There has not been one full day in the past, let say, 10 years that I have not suffered from sharp pains or intense stomach pressure. My bloating is very predictable. The only time I feel comfortable throughout the day, is early in the morning before I eat anything. From breakfast to bed time, my stomach gradually bloats. With the intent to share my story with my followers, last week I decided to take before and after videos to compare the drastic difference of my pre-bloat/bloated tummy. By doing so, I  gained some insight into what others who are also suffering do, to alleviate their pain.  Below, I will share a little bit more about my story and what has/hasn’t worked for me as well as list the recommendations I received.

There is little research surrounding IBS and hence, no cure. In fact, I had been suffering for years before I was even diagnosed with the condition. I have been prescribed countless medications, undergone numerous invasive procedures, and tried several diets,  but the severe bloating still persists.

In all honesty, the side effects caused by IBS are a constant disruption to my quality of life. There are afternoons/evenings that the pain is so bad, I have no other choice, but to lay in bed in fetal position until the pain passes, and often times it doesn’t. Even if I am stressed out from something completely unrelated, I see a simultaneous reaction in my stomach. Turns out, stress can affect your nerves, making your digestive system overactive. My diet is so restrictive that planning meals or eating out can seem like a chore. Finding restaurants that cater to such delicate stomachs are not easy to come by, y’all! Although I have a general idea of the specific foods that heighten my bloating, there are times when it can be completely unpredictable.

What frustrates me the most about the condition is that IBS tends to be a paradox. We are told that increasing our fiber intake can treat symptoms of IBS but yet one of the biggest causes of bloating is dietary fiber -____-  Due to necessity/desire to stick to a healthy diet, I ate a lot of fiber so tons of oatmeal and quinoa/brown rice. Turns out, I had been consuming way too much fiber, and after cutting the fiber sources out completely in this past week, my bloating has gone down significantly. But again, this is a catch 22.

Okay well enough about me..

Foods I stray away from:

  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Tomato
  • Spices
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Oatmeal
  • Dark Meats
  • Fried Foods
  • Cow Milk
  • Beans

Remedies I find helpful w bloating: 

  • Green tea w Honey & Lemon
  • Fresh pressed juice: Carrot, OJ, Ginger
  • Alka-seltzer
  • Pho (believe it or not, the ginger in the broth helps settle down my stomach)
  • Hot compress/water placed directly on my tummy
  • Reduce fiber intake

Recommendations my followers have believed to have helped them:

  • Rx Select- Turmeric Capsules
  • A shot of Apple Cider Vinegar in the AM
  • Warm water w honey
  • Digestive Enzyme
  • Ginger Pills
  • High fat/protein / low carb diet
  • No gluten
  • Salt water

 

Now, I’m obviously not a doctor, but I hope to have shed some light on this incredibly frustrating condition. Remember ya’ll, if life gives you lemons, add some to a warm cup of water, ha! Xo

How to Cope with Anxiety

In recent days, I’ve seen fellow bloggers and friends share their stories and it has inspired me to share a little bit more about myself…

Now before I give my take on the issue, I would like to just preface with that I am obviously not a doctor nor am I speaking on behalf of everyone who has suffered from anxiety, I am simply sharing my story and what has worked for me (:

Ever since I was young, I’ve favored structure and set plans, very, very much. I’ve been known to overthink many situations in my life but figured I was just more of a worrier than others. But the thought of labeling that worry as a “disorder,” never crossed my mind.

5 years ago, I was beginning my first week as a college sophomore. The work load was light and all was well! I grabbed my first coffee of the school year and headed to the library. About half way through my cup, I noticed my heart rate was accelerating by the second. A few moments later, my throat felt like it was closing in, and my chest tightened. I thought, “whoa, okay maybe I’m just getting jittery because I drank too much, too fast.” Unfortunately, for the next 12 hours, I experienced this same ugly feeling. Throughout each class, I could barely hold my pen up to take notes, I had to step outside several times to get some fresh air, and my stomach was in knots! By 8PM, I was legit scared. What the hell was going on? It couldn’t have been the coffee, because coffee was my lifeline freshman year! I wasn’t stressed about school or really anything in particular so it couldn’t of been a panic attack, right? I was left so confused as I never experienced something like this.

The next day, I figured I would try a new Green Tea the café offered. And within the hour, BOOM! The same sh*t happened for hours on end! At this point I couldn’t help but to feel frustrated and wonder what this was?

For the next three days, the symptoms came in waves…3 hours here, 5 hours there. It was pure misery. I literally could not take it anymore.

I went to see a doctor and explained my symptoms and past history. Since caffeine was a common denominator in the past week, she explained that caffeine has the ability to exacerbate anxiety and other stress-related signs. The symptoms I was experiencing was in fact panic attacks but she was surprised I had never experienced one prior to this week. Since she was unsure herself why this was, she suggested I try this antidepressant medication (one, I can’t remember the name of) which, “would alleviate all of the symptoms”. If I continued to have the symptoms after two weeks of use, she suggested that I continue with it. Now I did zero research prior to going in but was so desperate to feel “normal” again, I agreed on taking it. I was so ignorant on mental health and pharmaceutical drugs I had no idea what I was in for. Those following weeks were some of the darkest days I’ve ever experienced.

I believe it was around day 3 when my entire mood shifted. Naturally, I am a social extrovert. Especially in school, I loved being outdoors near our beach and meeting up with friends in between classes. I remember as each day passed on this medication, I found it harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning. I was becoming sad and found little to no energy to go to class or work. Since mental health or antidepressants were such an unfamiliar topic to me and to be honest, taboo, (especially 5 or so years ago) I did not share what was going on with me to my friends or even my roommate. I would hide my medication and take it only while she was not home. I remember cancelling on friends with a BS excuse, all because I simply did not have the energy to get out my apartment. I had difficulty in explaining how I felt to my mom and told her I just did not feel myself. But I kept with it for a number of days after because I legit feared of having another attack.

It was day 12/14 when I woke up in the AM, to dark thoughts. I could not take it anymore. This was not me. I rushed myself to urgent care and told the doctor what I was thinking and how terribly awful I felt while on the medication. I demanded I was taken off of it and at this point did not care if an attack came on. These thoughts were not worth it to me.

She then explained how medication may not work for everyone and then suggested I try alternative methods like meditation, counseling, outdoor physical exercise, journaling, and of course, ditching caffeine altogether.

Just the very next day, I felt back to myself again. As happy as I was because of this, I was also just as upset that this mental health professional immediately prescribed me medication. As I did further research and educated myself on the matter, I found that the alternative methods the Psychiatrist suggested to me after the fact, should have been the first line of treatment.

All this to say, since then I have not experienced panic attacks to that capacity. Every few months or so, however; I do still feel an attack coming on so I will now share what I’ve learned from those few counseling sessions and what has worked for me with dealing with the constant “worry” or anxiety of the day to day.

  1. Cut out all caffeine: coffee, decaff coffee, green tea, iced tea, Matcha, etc.
    • This one has been so hard for me, lol! I miss coffee sooo soo much but an 8 hour attack is not worth one cup of goodness.
  2. Meditate: In your own space, group classes, outdoors, etc.
  3. Briefly talk yourself out of it: May seem easier said than done, but I just talk to myself in third-person in attempts of centering myself again.
    • For example: “Jasmin! You will be okay, just breathe. Relax, take a walk, you’ll be fine.”
  4. Spend more time outside: Going outdoors, especially in the midst of an attack, def distracts me in the moment and without realizing, the attack often goes away.
  5. Distract yourself: I found that by focusing all my energy and efforts into an attack, often times makes it worse. Acknowledge it but still try to move on with your day and plans.
  6. Realize that worrying will not change a situation: This one, of course is a work in progress for me but it is pertinent to remind yourself this.

 

The list can go on and on, but I wanted to highlight those that have helped me the most. I’m aware treatment is by no means, a one size fits all solution, and that I do not suffer from crippling anxiety or have even faced severe mental health issues, but my hopes are by sharing my experience, I can at least start a conversation. On a general basis, I think our society focuses so much on physical health yet the topic of mental heath still remains in the shadows. Let’s all be proactive in looking after our own mental health as well as educating ourselves on such a sensitive topic. Xo

How to Deal with Loss

January 4, 2017.
It was as if time had froze.

Losing a parent is only the natural order of things and in my case was even something I was supposed to be prepared for, but I wasn’t.

For 7 years, 7 long years, I watched my dad slowly slip away. It’s really odd to mourn for someone while they are still alive. After every good-bye, I would internalize if that was the last. I would grow angry and anxious all at the same time, to the point where I would just suppress the thought and simply hoped for a miracle, in other words, I was in denial to what I was witnessing.

I feared so very badly of losing him for good. Even though my dad was no longer as I knew him, I could still hug him and hear his voice. But the thought of no longer having that was something I couldn’t accept. I was in anticipatory grief.

Come January 4th, 2017, I watched him take his last breath. It was a very confusing time. It was somehow the most ugliest sight I have witnessed yet there was so much beauty and peace surrounding that moment.

He was free. No longer chained to the chambers of his body.

Today, exactly one year later, I have found solace in knowing this. I’ve grown to realize that it never truly gets better, the void is never filled, and nothing said or done can bring that sunshine back. But rather, the loss is something you learn to live with.

Within the past year, I have tried to call his phone twice. The first time in hopes of him somehow picking up, and each time I called, the more I cried my eyes out. Sounds silly but grief is one hell of an emotion.

The second time was recently, actually. My roommate and I were experiencing maintenance issues in our apartment and I said aloud, “here, let me just call my dad, he’ll know what to do.” And without thinking I proceeded to call. In that moment, I felt a heaviness in my heart, because those moments will continue to happen for the rest of my life. But I believe that was a testament to how much his presence is still felt on Earth.

I may not physically have him here but his spirit is strong as hell. I can’t even count the  amount of times of when I’m deciding on doing one thing as opposed to another and I hear his fatherly tone as if he were standing right in front of me.

If you’ve experienced loss in your life, whether it be a friend, partner, or relative, I would suggest trying three things in times of grief.

  1. Continue their legacy
    • Share their stories and practices.
  2.  Talk to others  
    • In my network of friends, not too many people have experienced the loss of a parent (or so I assumed), so I’d found myself holding back because a part of me felt like others wouldn’t understand such grief, but that was not completely true. Throughout this past year, I’ve discovered a number of friends who’ve lost a parent, grandparent, sibling, etc. and had I not shared my experience, I probably would have never known that we had that commonality.
    • I’ve also connected with people whose parent(s) are ill and are not sure how to cope with their reality, so being able to share experiences with one another can be extremely cathartic.
  3. Talk to your angel/ watch for the signs of them communicating with you
    • Just because their physical being is no longer here does not mean their spirit is not among us. Dreams, people, scents, and even sightings of certain animals can all be ways your loved one is trying to communicate with you.
    • A few days after the funeral, I had to fly back to work. The man sitting next to me on the plane happened to look exactly like my dad! He wore the same cologne, the same style of Levi’s, and was bald just as my dad was. I was shook because it felt all too coincidental. I truly think it was my dad’s way of letting me know he would be with me on my journey back home.

So how to deal with loss? I really don’t have a straight answer. The only thing I can say is although it’ll never feel better, it will get easier. The void associated with losing a loved one, in my opinion, is both a heartache and a blessing. Although we can no longer share these moments with them, they are no longer hurting, and are simply at peace, which I’m sure, is something they’d hope for us to find.