Conquering Anxiety And Achieving Well-Being, Overall

In “Sex and the City: the movie” Charlotte mentions to Carrie she hasn’t been running because her anxieties about life are stopping her. I remember when I wrote Fitness, Fashion, and Time Management, I was in a terrific state both physically and mentally, ultimately providing myself with a healthy lifestyle by working out (almost) every day and getting a salad and drinking plenty of water. Come to the end of that semester, I found myself falling off the rail and into some (very) unhealthy habits. This was due to the stress of finding a job and taking a whopping SIX CLASSES two semesters in a row. This only led me down the rabbit hole of doubt. It wasn’t until the end of the Spring 2019 semester, that I learned the importance of balance (which may seem like a course on repeat.)

Balance is essential. Mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand and balance each other out. Your education, relationships (with yourself and other people), work, and overall well-being need equal attention, which can prove itself to be difficult. No one is 100% “on top of their sh*t” 24/7. Nobody’s perfect. Life happens. But it’s important, like I said in Empower Not Tower: It’s Okay To Fall Sometimes, As Long As You Can Pick Yourself Back Up Again — the title speaks for itself! And can I just say that drinking a lot of coffee and/or alcohol does NOT help? It doesn’t. In fact, it’s actually self-medicating.

The best kind of medication without making yourself sick is 1) tea and 2) therapy. Tonight I saw a tweet by a fellow writer who was struggling with health anxiety and (for ladies, only) period stuff with accompanying physical ailments. That accurately described what I was feeling this afternoon (and prompted me to write this post.)

On the topic of therapy, I see my therapist every two weeks, just to check-in. I’ve been going to therapy since I was a freshman in high school. I’ll be honest, there were extended periods of time when I ignored therapy and didn’t make appointments. Let’s be real, a diabetic doesn’t not take their insulin because they “don’t have time.” With mental health, it’s the same concept. I remember when I used to always keep saying “I don’t have time,” and “I don’t have time to ‘make time!'” For this, this, and that, I kept using that same excuse. In fact, when people told me I needed to make time, I got pretty annoyed it hit a nerve. Now, I’m understanding the importance of it.

This brings me to my next point: you can as they say in the movie, “Tammy,” “bitch and moan” about something, or, you can do something about it. As I used to preach all the time in my Insta-stories, if you want something to happen, YOU 👏 HAVE 👏 TO 👏 MAKE 👏 IT 👏 HAPPEN.

NO EXCEPTIONS!!!!!!!!!!

Nothing is impossible, remember that. And as to paraphrase what it says in the Bible: “The LORD helps those who help themselves.” Life is truly a blessing. So live it to the fullest and in the healthiest possible way.

This is an example of what I like to call a ROUTINE:

unnamed (12)

No, you do not have to get up at 5:30 AM unless you’re really feeling ambitious. But a routine helps to ease the anxiousness.

In fact, by the time this goes up, I will be in bed getting my beauty sleep and getting up at a good hour for a jog.

Thank you for listening to my “Ted Talk.”  😊

xoxoxo,

April 😘💕

Self-Care and Spirituality Tips

During this time of year, you’ll notice that everything and possibly everyone around you has been acting “funky–” and not the good kind of funky. That is because the planet Mercury is currently in retrograde and that can affect all astrological signs, but especially Air Signs (like mine.)

You’re reading this thinking, “April, I think you’re being ‘funky’ because you don’t usually get into things like this.” Since transferring schools, I’ve gotten a lot into astrology and even gotten in touch with my spiritual-psychic side (I’m not Raven Baxter, I’m not actually psychic.) You can fight me all you want on this, but even when I went to Catholic School, we learned how others practiced believing.

This time of year actually happens to hit me right in the heart these past two years because we are actually approaching the 2-year-anniversary in which I was hospitalized. If you’re new to the Diaries, check out ‘Cause I Still Got A Lotta Fight Left In Me | My Hospital Stay | My Mental Illness(es) for the whole story.

So, how will I cope? Or how do I cope with something so heavy and tumultuous to remember? I have luckily learned how to achieve this hard-to-grasp aspect that is self-care.

Since practicing my spirituality, I have learned to replace “I want this…” with “I have this…” or “I am this…” PRESENT TENSE!!! It’s essentially a mantra! Another part of it is living in the present, which may sound like a cliche, but I promise you that’s it’s just common practice that a lot of people do struggle with. It’s just a habit that you have to get yourself into. It also helps if you write to your guides. Guides? Really, April? You’re insane. Eh, just a little😉 Learn more about them here. Listen, I’m not trying to “convert” anyone here. I’m just here to give advice and share what has worked for me these past three months of 2019. I have also learned how to treat myself (responsibly, of course) and immerse myself into things that I love to do, or have always wanted to do.

Hey, April, I’m friends with you on Facebook and I noticed you have a camera in your profile picture? What’s up with that? 

Writing may be one of my passions, but I can’t do it full-time, and I’ve been known to drive myself crazy with it. I desperately needed a hobby, not a hobby-turned-full-time-job-that-drains-the-sh*t-out-of-you. So, I branched out into the arts (which I’ve always loved), and I’m in the process of making a documentary for my Arts Administration Capstone and… wait for it…

A YOUTUBE CHANNEL!

Taking time for yourself to do what you love is an important part of self-care, even if it’s just doodling in your notebook. And who knows? You could make a living out of it! Taking time for yourself, in general, is imperative to your overall being. So, you could go for a run, go get yourself a cup of coffee and avocado toast (like I did yesterday!) at your local coffee shop. The other day, I gave myself a facial and I also bought jade rollers, which you will see in another blog post to come.

Right now, I hope you’re in a nice pair of leggings or sweat pants because you deserve some serious comfort from your 9-5 job and/or studying! Happy Friday!

xoxoxo April 💕✌😘

 

 

 

Burnt Out

I know, you’re thinking “it’s only week four (five now) of classes. How could you be burnt out?”

As I was typing the words, “burnt out” in the title, I looked at it and said, “has it really gotten to this point?”

As I sit in the atrium next to the Starbucks on campus, I am busy submitting poems to potential magazines and thinking about what to do next. Do I get lunch? No, not quite yet. Do I submit more poems for consideration? No, wait till you generate some more. Do I do work? Yes, April, you should OR you could write another blog post.

I wrote a blog post a while ago called Fitness, Fashion, and Time Management. Maybe this is just me, but I think that my time management is more up-to-par in the second semester. I’m sitting here yawning my like no other (mostly because I woke up at 6:30 to get ready for my 8 a.m. Management class.) I want to yawn some more just saying, “I have an 8 a.m. class Monday, Wednesday, Friday.” Yup, there I go again.

giphy

Anyway, I’m not here to talk about how tired I am (constantly), I’m here to talk more about time management so your head can stay clear.

My morning routines (particularly Monday, Wednesday, Friday), I wake up at an ungodly hour, get dressed, get my usual venti-iced-white-mocha at the campus Starbucks and go to class. Since I commute to campus, I usually go home a half hour after my class. But today, I’ve decided to stay the entire day to catch up on work.

While I don’t have a set to-do list, I do have a consistent plan to get sh*t done. That means having a killer attitude even when you’re absolutely cranky. A constant theme I’ve noticed in the podcasts I listen to is the idea of “faking it till you make it.” To me, what that means, is faking it until it becomes reality. Last Thursday, I was so cranky and burnt out that I refused to take a joke or even smile. But then my mom, oddly enough, made me laugh about a Nacho Mama’s delivery car or something. (Nacho Mama’s is a Mexican place in Bristol). And I actually smiled!

But as I write this portion two weeks later, I have my sh*t together, and I even completed my first exam of the semester! (Pray for me, it was Management). Another thing: I started dancing again, and I completely forgot how much I loved it. Being a part of a team/club (or two, or three) really gives you balance, plus you discover what you’re truly passionate about. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing. But dance has been my first love since I was three years old. (Thanks KD for persuading me to come to dance last Wednesday.)

That goes back to my theory about balance. Balance is a necessity of life, and even if you think you’re so busy, you actually can make time for your friends and the things you love. My friends and my mom keep telling me, “you need a hobby outside of writing.” I think I found it ☻

 

What’s Wrong With Being Confident? Absolutely Nothing

Someone once told me that “happiness doesn’t get you anywhere.” Well, they were so wrong. I recently shared a video on Facebook that talked about the idea of cheating and hurting other people based on your own insecurities. All I could say is, they nailed it right on the head.

In today’s society, there are so many outside factors that deteriorate our confidence. Confidence is such a broad term, and it took me a while to grasp it. I first heard the term and tried to apply it to myself in seventh grade. I’ve read plenty of Seventeen magazines prior to that year, but I was too young to fully understand it.

In seventh grade, I tried to “up” my confidence by dressing, well, not like a seventh grader, let’s put it that way. I did this because I was actually trying to hide my own insecurities, especially since I was being bullied. In reality, I was only hurting myself.

The year before, sixth grade, a.k.a one of the worst years of my life, I look back at it now and say I was completely confident, despite the people trying to bring me down and talking about me behind my back and, worse, to my face (like, b*tch, I can hear you *eye roll*).

I really had fashion to lie back on during the tumultuous years of middle school and the first half of my freshman year. When I transferred high schools, I loved the idea of being able to speak my mind and share my stories. I didn’t let anyone bring me down until I was starting to rely on what people of authority thought of me. So then, I was basing my confidence on my smarts and the fact that I was trying to be a redheaded Barbie doll.

It’s easy to say that now I look nothing like the Barbie doll I tried to be. But I read an essay in my Literary Philosophy class this past semester by Jane Hamill that was appropriately titled, “A Grown-Up Barbie.” Needless to say, I related to that story on all levels. I wanted to be in the fashion world and go to meetings in Paris and New York. Now, I’m going to meetings in Providence and I’m never going to stop chasing my dreams, even when I’m in New York one day.

980x

My point in that last paragraph? I feel confident when I’m pursuing my own dreams, and not what people want me to be/do. If anyone is trying to tear you down, that only means they’re being insecure, and newsflash, you don’t have to worry about them whatsoever. There will obviously be people who just want the best for you, so do take their advice because who knows? It could be valuable one day.

I got the inspiration to write this blog post yesterday when I ran/walked over a mile at personal training for the first time in 2+ years, and I can honestly say I felt 10x more confident.

What is confidence? Confidence is:

1.)  Believing in yourself.

2.)  Not listening to others when they try to put you down.

3.)  Staying away from the toxicity of others.

4.)  KNOWING YOUR WORTH.

5.)  Knowing what makes YOU happy.

One last piece of advice, if you’re not pissing people off with your confidence, you’re not doing it right. But really, there’s no “right way” to be confident. Do your own thang!

tumblr_m1ltlg5S5Q1qezqfno1_500

To pump yourself up, even if it’s just on your way to your internship, listen to these tunes:

  • “One Girl Revolution,” SuperChick
  • “Confident,” Demi Lovato
  • Any Destiny’s Child song
  • “Girl On Fire,” Alicia Keys
  • “All Of The Lights,” Kanye West
  • “Sorry Not Sorry,” Demi Lovato
  • “Miss Independent,” Kelly Clarkson
  • “Comin’ Up,” Sammy Adams

 

Regretting Regret

In life, there are going to be things we regret. I regret not taking a certain class in my senior year of high school, not choosing the right major until about a year later, the list goes on. While meditating yesterday, the little voice coming from my phone was talking about regret. Though I wanted to achieve the concept of zen — unbothered and untouched, I couldn’t help but feel irritated, if not infuriated at the thought of past relationships.

I don’t know why (blame it on biology), I just develop feelings for guys who are interested in me at first but then end up dumping me for whatever reason. Two breakups made me think, “were they ever really attracted to me? Or did they just go with it?”

Talking about relationships trigger me in a sense because I’m realizing now that I’ve always been the one to say “I like you” first. No guy has ever asked me to be their girlfriend. In a way, that has made me feel “ugly.” As a result, it tries to take everything out of me and makes me feel unworthy.

There’s this one poem by Rupi Kaur from Milk and Honey:

“he only whispers i love you 

as he slips his hands

down the waistband 

of your pants

this is where you must

understand the difference 

between want and need

you may want that boy

but you certainly 

don’t need him.”

That’s right, honey, you have to be the one to say they’re unworthy of your time and attention. You are not a weak cup of coffee, you are a strong Colombian coffee. Last night I saw this post on Facebook shared by one of my friends:

“You can’t own a human being. You can’t lose what you don’t own. Suppose you did own him. Could you really love somebody who was absolutely nobody without you? You really want somebody like that? Somebody who falls apart when you walk out the door? You don’t, do you? And neither does he. You’re turning your whole life to him. Your whole life, girl. And if it means so little to you that you can just give it away, hand it to him, then why should it mean any more to him? He can’t have value more than you value yourself.” – Toni Morrison, Sound of Solomon

You’ve probably heard this a thousand times over the course of your life, but God really does come in mysterious ways. This morning during my meditation, I’ve come across the theme of forgiveness. The little voice coming from my phone told me to think of a time when I experienced hurt — naturally, I thought of my previous relationships, and I bet anyone listening to that meditation would think the same.

“What did you feel?”

“Where did you feel it?”

“Was it a sinking feeling?”

“Did your heart tighten?”

“Did your shoulders fold inwards?”

But most importantly, how can you forgive yourself in addition to forgiving others? What would you say to yourself? In that moment, I thought of the great philosopher, HelloKaty saying, “You are not watered-down tequila, you are Patrón!”

Additionally, I learned from The Bachelorette (a show I’d never thought I’d watch), that you have to be selfish sometimes and with that, I’ve learned to forgive myself for feeling hurt, upset, etc. even my regrets. It’s all part of our humanity. Those of us who have those feelings, recognize them, own them, and move on are in a lot healthier state than those who pretend not to have any feelings, at all.

‘Cause I Still Got A Lotta Fight Left In Me | My Hospital Stay | My Mental Illness(es)

*NAMES HAVE BEEN CHANGED TO PROTECT & RESPECT PEOPLE’S PRIVACY & IDENTITIES*

So, in case you were wondering where I’ve been for the past ten days and where I am right now, I’m currently in the process of treating my mental illnesses. Like any writer should (as stated above), I’m altering names of where I stayed and respecting other patients’ privacy and identities while telling my story at what I’ll call “Radley” (like in PLL, but much more comforting).

To start the story, I might as well mention that I was scared sh*tless. Naturally, I cried after my mom left. It was like the first-day kindergarten, but this time, I was going to be a resident at “Radley” Hospital, unable to see my family until 12:00 noon or 5:00 p.m. — both for 1.5-hour intervals, and I’d be staying overnight.

*DISCLAIMER: I checked in to get a diagnosis for an illness that was interfering with my everyday life and the overall quality of my life.*

All I had in my room to entertain myself were various poetry books, my trusty journal, and my poetry notebook (not that I’m complaining, lol). They had group activities for us to participate in, like games, how to stay healthy, crafts, and my two favorites: open discussion and meditation. I’ve taken to meditating every night since I’ve been there and since I’ve been at home.

There’s one piece of advice I’d give to my younger self, and that would be to say, “you’re not damaged, you’re on a journey.” My mom said this to me as I expressed my anxieties about my diagnoses, returning to social media after being off-the-grid for 5-10 days, and finding out who my next roommate was going to be. After stress-crying, I was shortly introduced to my new (Spanish-speaking) roommate. So I had one weight to take off my shoulders. Just like all of us, she just wanted to go home.

There are many things I learned while staying at “Radley;” one of them is that talking about what was going on with me does NOT make me sound crazy person. But after going to an open discussion, I’ve learned a few more things: 1) I chose to be there, to seek help, and to get better and 2) it’s perfectly okay to say “I’m anxious,” “I’m depressed,” etc. I have a new one to add:

“I have PTSD.” There. I said it.

Go ahead, judge. I know most people will. But in the end, I’m not going to let my mental illnesses define who I am. Correction: they don’t define who I am.

All in all, there’s no shame in getting the help you need. Before I came to Radley, I didn’t like the idea of being a “mental patient.” But really, I’m getting the help I need to move forward in life — the type of treatment I can’t get at home or at school. I felt resentment towards myself for feeling what I feel, and for putting my life on hold in order to be there.

My roommate kept telling me, “you’re so beautiful and you’re so young, you don’t need to be here.” What I have to say to that is that you don’t know what a person is going through. You don’t know a person’s story until you hear it firsthand. One thing I challenge you all to do something: (and I know, this is beyond cliché) but I challenge you all to not judge a book by it’s cover. Another thing, don’t assume people have some sort of disorder based on the way they act or the things they do.

And, in terms of treatment, you can’t just pray your illness away. Treatment and recovery are like a fine wine, they take time. In order to make something happen, you have to be the one to make it happen. I put myself, or my demons, rather, in Radley, and I need to dig myself out of this hole that I’m in — that I’ve been in, I should say. That’s why I keep saying, “there’s gotta be more to life,” because I’ve been stuck in a rut and I couldn’t seem to pull myself out of it. For the longest time, I’ve been ashamed of my depression because it prevented me from performing even the simplest tasks, like going to school, getting out of bed, concentrating, and just going out in general. What’s worse is that whenever something bad happens to me, I take it to my heart and let it stab me to let myself bleed. I once came to the conclusion that there’s no shame in being vulnerable. So again, I have no shame in my depression, but I’m so ashamed of how I would let the smallest thing cut me so deep. Even worse, I’m ashamed of letting unimportant things and/or people get to me. It’s like something I learned in my current outpatient program, “If you don’t know them personally, don’t take it personally.”

Looking at what I wrote in my journal, I’ve decided not to go into depth about what my mental illnesses have done to me while I was in the hospital or what affect they have in my daily life. But I will share a poem by my literary husband, Ralph Waldo Emerson:

What Is Success?

To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people

and the affection of children; 

To earn the appreciation of honest critics

and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty;

To find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better,

whether by a healthy child, a garden patch

or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed 

easier because you have lived;

This is to have succeeded.

Kyoko Escamilla once said, “your twenties are your selfish years.” One of my fellow inpatients told me that I have to be “selfish” sometimes. Not in the sense that you only care about yourself, but doing the things that will benefit you and your well-being. Right now, what’s important to myself and my well-being is that I treat these new diagnoses and to continue living a normal life. But, let’s be real, is anyone really “normal?” The term is overused and might as well be nonexistent. It’s just one of those words you wish you could ban.

I’m just going to add a conversation I had with my dad:

DAD: “What happened to me seven years ago?”

ME: “You were diagnosed with cancer at a late stage.”

DAD: “And the people at Tufts told me there was nothing they could do, because it was so late. And what happened to me?

ME: You’re still here.

DAD: That’s right. I beat it. Never give up.

I preached this to my group discussion one night, and I can honestly say that I’m seeing the world in a whole new light — a way I’ve never seen the world before. It’s as though I became a completely different person with an actually positive attitude instead of seeing things through “depression lenses.” For a long time, I thought to myself, “If I am giving, I’m giving up.” But not anymore. That group’s discussion was called “getting out of your own way.” I’m not going to get in the way of myself, anymore, nor am I going to let my anxiety, depression, and/or my PTSD get in the way of me living my life. Again, you have to be selfish at times and put yourself, especially your health, first. Just like my dad took all the necessary steps to beat cancer, I’m taking the necessary steps to create a new life for myself, like exercising more, eating healthier, reading more, and being on social media less. In fact, I’m giving up social media for 30+ days and giving myself a good cleanse.

So yeah. There’s my story about being an inpatient at a mental hospital. Now I’m just going to leave this here: My Fight Song “because I still got a lot of fight left in me.”☺☺☺

Keep fighting.

xoxoxo April ♥