The really tough stuff that’s affecting us as a nation and especially our youth.

world suicide prevention day
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Today is World Suicide Prevention Day

world suicide prevention day

Created by Clark County Student for the Signs of Suicide Poster Contest

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.

First, I’d like to share a new procedure with you. It’s from Matthew Dovel, president of International Suicide Prevention. He has recently released this procedure called (4 Phase) which can be self-administered in as little as 5 minutes.

It was designed to bypass stigma and allow those that are suffering from depression, anxiety, and/or suicidal thoughts.

LEARN ABOUT THE PROCEDURE HERE

Second, I wanted to let you know about the 8th Annual “Walk in Memory Walk for Hope” which is put on by the Nevada Coalition for Suicide Prevention (of which I am proud to be a member of).

“This community suicide prevention awareness walk will be taking place on Saturday, September 13, 2014, in eleven different communities across the State of Nevada. Walk participants are asked to donate $20 per individual. All donations will be used to help fund various NCSP programs in communities throughout the state.”

Las Vegas/Henderson Location = Bob Miller Middle School, 2400 Cozy Circle, Henderson, NV 89052. Registration begins at 8:00 am

I’ll be volunteering at the registration table and hope to see you there.

It takes all of us working together to make changes. Your presence DOES MATTER.

self-compassion
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[Day 27] Self-Compassion + Mental Health

self-compassion

Today is day 27 of the blog challenge.

Let me just say, before I get into the topic, I bought a new hair dryer today and I am incredibly grateful. I’ve been using a dryer that’s cracked and only blows cold air for over a year. So. Happy.

Point is, if there is something you’ve been tolerating, stop it. Go get what you really want/need. Ask for help. Take that step. Make it happen.

Anyway, my topic is simply to post a video I like.

Here’s one of my favorite TED talks:

We all have different voices or sub personalities in our head, each of which want to be heard and loved. This approach to healing schizophrenia is not only compassionate, but extremely effective. And I love how personal it is.

What did you think/feel? Leave me a comment below.

mental illness becomes mental wellness
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[Day 21] Understanding Mental Illness

mental illness becomes mental wellness

It’s Day 21 of the 30 Day Blog Challenge. My topics to choose from are:

1) How does Invisible Illness affect your life and your business, whether it’s yours or someone in your family’s?

OR

2) How do you balance acknowledging Invisible Illness while still staying positive and not making your whole entire life about your disability?

As you know, I’ve been diagnosed with several mental illnesses. My chart would tell you I have:

  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Bi-polar disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)
  • ADD (attention deficit disorder)

So I very intimately understand what life is like with an invisible illness. Undoubtedly the lack of understanding is what led me to self-harm (how else could someone know how much I was suffering?), which is why I’ve dedicated my life and this site to helping teens and their families understand, cope and thrive with mental illness.

Through journaling and the other alternative practices shared on this site, I am positive that you too can learn to appreciate these “illnesses” and the people afflicted with them (even if it’s you).

In everything I do I emphasize that those experiencing mental health challenges (or any challenge for that matter) are not their problems, but the person experiencing the challenge.

These are people who are just a little more sensitive, whose minds work a little different, but most of all who really need our help and understanding.

To me, saying I have borderline personality disorder sets me free. Not so I can use it as an excuse, but as a reminder that I process things differently, I react more strongly and must be gentler with myself.

We must learn to love and accept all parts of ourselves – especially those most difficult to love.

That’s when the healing happens.
That’s when you understand what the situation has taught you.
That’s when you won’t need the “disease” anymore.

It’s a process. And we are all works in progress.

Here are some images I found from mollysfund.org, a site dedicated to breaking down the stigma of invisible illnesses such as lupus, digestive disorders, mental illness, etc.

They act as a reminder to be compassionate not just towards others, but to ourselves as well.

10-Things-NOT-TO-SAY-Invisible-ilness-revised-4.14-400x72dpi-web

10-Things-TO-SAY-Invisible-Illness-revised-400-72dpio-web

You might also enjoy a very similar post I made here.

What are your thoughts on this? How has invisible illness affected you or someone you love? Leave me a comment below.

Also: For those who love journaling, sign up for my friend’s 30 Day Digital Journaling Challenge here.

Redefining family
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[Day 20] Redefining Family

Redefining family

It’s Day 20 of the 30 Day Blog Challenge. Here are my two topic choices:

1) Family of Origin vs Family of Choice. How has this affected your life? Do you still speak to your family of origin, or do you just “put up with them” when you have to?” How does this fit on your Spiritual Path? Who do you consider to be your family?

OR

2) Forgiveness and Reconciliation. How has this affected your choices about the people you surround yourself with, especially your family of origin?

Redefining family

Sometimes I forget it’s possible to be in a healthy, happy and fulfilling family.

There’s this part of me that wants to fight it.

Sometimes out of fear. Sometimes for the sake of familiarity. And sometimes I’m so stressed out I simply forget.

“Family” when I was growing up, meant constant screaming battles, fighting over who was right, possessiveness, control, manipulation, fear, blame, shame and judgment.

I literally cannot recall one moment of peace from my entire childhood. I was frozen in fear. I hoped and prayed I wouldn’t screw up or displease anyone. Everyone’s happiness depended on it. On me.

So I suppressed my emotions, my thoughts, my opinions. I believed what others needed me to believe. I spoke how others needed me to speak. I lost myself. Or more accurately was never given a safe space to find myself.

My time and energy were consumed by being forced to side with one parent or the other. It was “your mother this” or “your father did that.”

I felt invisible.

I grew to despise my family. I pushed everyone away to survive. In my mind, family wasn’t a source of joy, laughter and good times described in books and movies, it was the origin of my pain and deepest wounds.

And yet I longed for family, for connection, for belonging. It is, after all, a basic human need. So I spent years seeking out approval, validation and wholeness from outside sources.

I call it “looking for love in all the wrong places.”

Looking for someone to rescue me, love me. Someone who could save me from myself. My relationships were short-lived. And the ones that weren’t, I sabotaged.

I’ll spare you the horrific details of these lost years of my life because they don’t matter all that much. I simply wanted to paint a picture of my starting point and give you an idea about the way I was programmed to interpret family.

But most importantly, I wanted to let you know…

It’s never too late to forgive.

It’s never too late for a fresh start.

You are not your wounds.

You can:

  • Create a new family dynamic
  • Have healthy communication
  • Be respected and heard
  • Have your needs met without sacrificing who you are
  • Have supportive relationships

These shitty situations showed me all the things I didn’t want, which gave me the gift of knowing exactly what I did want instead.

I do slip back into default. I do get reactive sometimes. But I don’t  beat myself up about it. I just have to look to see where I’m not taking care of me. Or acknowledge I’m not coping.

That’s when I know it’s time to reach out to my other family: my friends, coaches, mentors, books, my journal.

family

This is a post-it note pasted to one of our kitchen cabinets. I do need reminders to act consciously and from love. Because like I said, sometimes I forget. And it’s okay. The concept is still relatively new and I have to recommit to what I want consistently.

Clarity, commitment and compassion (for yourself and others) are the three most important factors.

  1. Know what you want.
  2. Commit to doing whatever it takes to make it happen (don’t be afraid to ask for support).
  3. Be compassionate and forgiving if and when you get off track.

Repeat. Come back. Make it a habit.

Families love each other no matter what.
They take responsibility for their own feelings.
They support each other’s decisions.
They honor each other’s personalities.
They don’t try to change the other person.
They listen.

When I started digging deep into my healing and the work I do, my dad moved away. It wasn’t a conscious choice to not talk to him. He just wasn’t in alignment with my new picture of family. I still love him with all my heart, but I believe everything that happens is for the highest good of all.

I have a great relationship with my mom – she’s made so many positive changes over the years.

My relationship with my new little family changes and grows more beautiful every day. Just yesterday my son said with all of his heart “You’re a nice parent.” And I received it.

When you start doing the work, people will either change with you or the relationship will fall away. I’m now surrounded by people who love and accept me for who I am. Just as I love and accept them for who they are. If something isn’t working, we talk about it. We don’t stay upset. We sort it out.

Your concept of family has its roots in the past, but starting today it can be whatever you want and need it to be.

Family to me is connection, acceptance, appreciation and of course love. It’s not limited to blood relatives, or even the human race (my kitty is family). It’s the idea that we’re all connected and we all play a role in each other’s lives and on this planet.

Journaling prompts
  1. How has my idea of family changed over the years?
  2. Who do I need to forgive to move forward?
  3. What are my top 5 favorite moments with my family? Why?
  4. What are my 5 least favorite moments? How have they helped me grow?

What does family mean to you? Leave me a comment down below.

Would you like to improve your relationship with yourself and your family? If you’ve  been looking for this kind of support and know you don’t want to go at it alone, I’d love to help you. Go here to sign up to chat with me for free.

My story
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[Day 14] My Story

My story

Before I share a bit about how I came to do what I do and more importantly be who I am, I want to say this (it’s something I have to remind myself of often).

Your story matters.

And it is of equal importance to share your story in a way that feels good to you. If your intention in sharing your experiences is to get others to feel sorry for you, to make yourself sound better than other people or to sustain being a victim, look at that. Be honest with yourself and get crystal clear about your intentions.

I say this because the stories we tell ourselves become our reality. And if we continue to repeat the ones that make us feel negative emotion, we will continue to repeat the same things. Maybe not in the same way, but they will manifest in some form.

So, if you feel good when you’re telling it and if you know in your heart it will help other people, then share it.

End preach.

My intention in sharing my story is to help teens and parents alike know first and foremost, they are not alone. Secondly, that it doesn’t last forever. And third, because I know the route I went could have been a lot shorter had I known what I know now.

Legal disclaimer: The information provided below is not intended to replace the medical advice of a qualified health care professional or to be used as therapy. Carrie Leigh Sandoval assumes no responsibility for the results generated.

So when I was a teenager, I was a total mess. I was having panic attacks multiple times a day, using drugs, not eating and would hurt myself in any way I could – namely cutting myself with whatever I could find.

Why? Because it was the only thing that brought me relief, the only coping technique I had.

I felt alone, afraid and responsible for all the crap going on in my house. In a place where I felt so much and didn’t have a voice or a place to express my pain, cutting was the only way I could communicate how bad I was hurting and what the constant fighting and being put in the middle of it was doing to me.

I was hospitalized, medicated, saw numerous doctors, psychiatrists, therapists, you name it. And while I am grateful these things exist and they did temporarily stabilize me, I continued to repeat the same unhealthy habits and patterns – never fully healing or learning positive coping strategies.

Everywhere I went, these labels defined me. I felt insane. Broken. Like I needed to be fixed. But all I truly wanted was to feel like a human being.

To be seen. Heard. Loved and respected for being myself, not just when I was being who everyone else needed me to be.

There was a whole lot of pressure on me to be the perfect daughter so everyone else would be okay. But it wasn’t until I started to accept myself and take my healing into my own hands that everything began to change.

It took me years and years of struggle and self-study to understand that I wasn’t broken or insane. I was just a young girl having a normal response to really insane circumstances.

Committing to showing up for myself is something I have to practice every day, but I’ve now been sober for over 5 years, haven’t cut myself in close to 6 and am no longer taking prescription medications.

I have a beautiful family, a job I love, but most importantly I no longer feel like there is something inherently wrong with who I am.

Having a mentor who got me and didn’t try to fix me inspired me to do this work.

I can’t tell you how badly I wanted someone to just say, “Hey, you’re not crazy. You’re alright. Everything is going to be alright.”

I love that I now get to share this experience and understanding with other young people, especially the girls, who feel the same way I felt.

And I love being able to help parents stop blaming themselves because really it’s not their fault.

Knowing these experiences can help others unlock their courage, strength and power of choice, gives me hope (and puts a smile on my face).

We are all here for a reason and you never know who you might help or the impact you’ll have by sharing your story.

There’s a lot more to mine, but this is all I’m going to share today. Now I want to hear from you.

What story do you share that reminds you of how amazing you are? Or what story keeps you going when you’re feeling low and need to be inspired? Leave me a comment below.

Life lessons for teenagers
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[Day 12] 10 Things I Wish I’d Known as a Teenager

Life lessons for teenagers

I’ve had to learn a lot of things the hard way. Partly because I didn’t have any support and partly because I was too stubborn to ask for that support.

But had I known the following ten things then, I would have most certainly been happier, had more self-respect and felt confident enough to say no to the things that were hurting me.

These ten things are exactly what I teach and encourage the teens I work with to embrace through my coaching programs, so if at any time you’re feeling like you (teen or parent) are ready to take it a step further and get the support you need, you can go here to fill out the form for a free discovery session with me.

Now, the ten things.

#1 Getting other people to like me will never be a substitute for liking myself.

My primary motivating factor in my younger years was to get people to like me. I was able to feed off others’ love or infatuation for me, but the moment I was alone I would lose my mind. Had I known how to accept myself first rather than looking outside for validation, I would have been able to help myself. Instead, I gave other people the power to determine how I felt.

#2 My body is beautiful and sacred.

I did a lot of stupid things to my body because I didn’t really care about it. I thought I was fat and ugly and tried to numb myself in any way I could. Sex, drugs, cutting and starving myself were my (very ineffective) ways of dealing with pain. Had I known my body was sacred, I would have cared more about how I treated it and how others did too.

#3 It’s okay to be angry, just make sure I know what I’m really angry about.

I was incredibly bitter and pissed off as a teen. It was my normal state. And while I had every right to be, I also took it out on myself and other people who crossed my path. I thought I was mad because of what other people did, but I was mad that I didn’t know who I was or how to express what I was feeling. I was mad because I was disconnected from my true self. Had I known how to connect with the real me, I’d have been able to process my emotions instead of adding another layer of “I shouldn’t feel this way” on top of the challenging emotions I was already experiencing.

#4 I have the right to feel everything I feel.

I thought I was just supposed to be happy. I thought I had to be happy so everyone else would be happy. No one validated my feelings so I learned to invalidate my own (classic borderline personality disorder). I was sad and pissed off, but because no one else thought I should feel that way I denied it and my behaviors became the only means of expressing my pain. Had I known I had the right to feel what I felt, I would have made better choices because they would have come from me and not my unexpressed pain.

#5 I’m not responsible for how other people feel.

Manipulation and guilt trips were used frequently in my home. I felt like because of me my parents were fighting, because of me my mom had to work her butt off after the divorce, I thought because of me everything was screwed up. With no one to tell me otherwise, I truly believed that I had to change to fit everyone else’s needs. Had I known I wasn’t responsible for how other people felt, I would have stopped carrying all the burden of other peoples feelings and been free to be more of who I was.

#6 I’m not the only one with problems.

With all this burden and thinking everything was my fault, I had convinced myself that I was the only crazy person. I would isolate myself from other people because I felt like a disease. I felt as if somehow being around me would ruin someone’s life. Had I known I wasn’t the only person with problems, I would have stopped trying so hard to fit in and embraced (and therefor accepted) myself and others more.

#7 The world does not revolve around me.

Because I was so isolated I started to become self-obsessed. My ego, in an effort to protect me, convinced me I was better than everyone else. I walked around like I was so cool, but felt like I was dying on the inside. I didn’t realize or understand how much others around me were struggling too. Instead, I made sure everyone knew how bad I was feeling. Had I known the world didn’t revolve around me I would have been much nicer to the people around me.

#8 My worth does not depend on anything outside of me.

With my inflated ego running the show, and no connection to my true self, everything became about what I wore, the kinds of cigarettes I smoked, the bands I listened to. I was constantly trying to prove my worth to other people – especially my peers. Had I known my worth didn’t depend on anything outside of me I would have never given up on the things that mattered to me. I would have been able to hear what my soul really wanted.

#9 Friends don’t make friends do drugs.

As you may know, I struggled with addiction. I thought doing drugs with people made them my friends. Not true. We were never friends. We were just lost teenagers trying to feel like we weren’t so alone. Had I known friends don’t make friends do drugs, I would have chosen better friends and not taken such a long time to overcome my addictions.

#10 I deserve to be happy.

During my teen years it never occurred to me that happiness was an option. Real happiness. I could chase the next guy, have adventures and be reckless to simulate happy feelings, but I was never really satisfied. Had I known I deserved to be happy, I would have stopped waiting for something to change to be happy. I would have set myself free.

As you can see, what we believe impacts how we show up in the world, the choices we make, the actions we take. All the things we have ever done are because of what we were believing about ourselves and the nature of the world. The good news is, with practice and support we can rewire our brains, change our beliefs and begin to have a say about what we will and won’t allow into our experience.

We have a choice in every moment.

What will you choose?

If you’re an adult, what are some things you wish you’d have known as a teenager? And kids, if a future version of yourself came to visit you today, what would he or she say? Leave me a comment below.

Perfectionism and self-harm
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[Day 10] Perfectionism and Self-Harm

Perfectionism and self-harm

It’s day 10 of the blog challenge. Have a blog and want to join? Go here.

Today’s topics could not have arrived at a better time. They are:

1) What goal have you failed to reach, and what did you learn from it?

OR

2) How does perfectionism affect your life (now or in the past)?

I’ve chosen to add my own spin to this by writing about the link between perfectionism and self-harm.

First, let’s take a look at what self-harm is. Here is a blurb from Rader Programs:

Self harm is defined as the act of causing self injury to one’s own body. Self harm is also referred to as self injury, self abuse, self inflicted violence, self mutilation and para suicide. Similar to eating disordered behavior, the self harming behavior is participated in to help the individual cope with, take control of, block out and release unwanted feelings and emotions. The most common act of self harm is cutting.

If you’re interested in learning more or know someone who has been affected by self-harm, please go here to view all my articles on this topic.

Legal disclaimer: The information provided below is not intended to replace the medical advice of a qualified health care professional or to be used as therapy. Carrie Leigh Sandoval assumes no responsibility for the results generated. If you are feeling triggered, please stop reading and call 1-800-DONTCUT immediately.

Perfectionism – it stands over you, watching, judging, waiting to critique. It stalks your every word, every facial expression, every action and reaction.

It reminds you of one thing all the time:

“You will never ever be good enough.”

Perfectionism is the comparison queen, the never ending stream of “how can I be better?” which really just means…

When will I be good enough for someone to love me?

I used to associate love with not being criticized. “If I just do everything right and make everyone happy then maybe I can be happy too.”

Wrong.

Perfectionism itself becomes an additive cycle of self-abuse – whether or not there is physical harm involved. Self-harm just happens to be the extreme version.

Perfectionism + the inability to cope + the inability to express the pain =  self-harming to find relief.

It takes over your life if you let it. It becomes your reason, your motivation for doing things.

But it doesn’t have to.

7 Important Truths Every Perfectionist Must Learn to Accept
  • Not everyone is going to like you – and no one is going to like you if you don’t like yourself.
  • You are not your mistakes.
  • Tweet: Making mistakes does not make you a failure.
  • Mistakes = opportunities to grow.
  • You don’t have to get it right the first time.
  • Your worth does not depend on anything outside of you.
  • You are enough. Right now. And always.
3 Things You Must Master to Stop Being a Slave to Perfectionism
1. Question the validity of your brain’s claims

Be aware of the lies your mind tells you. Is the world going to end if you don’t do xyz at the exact time you said you would? Probably not. Will someone be upset? Possibly. Are you responsible for their reaction? Nope.

If you notice your thoughts hijacking your emotions, stop, breathe and ask yourself, “is this really worth freaking out about right now?” It’s okay to have the thoughts and emotions you have, but often “freaking out” becomes a natural response because we think we have to. But freaking out doesn’t change anything.

2. Have outlets for perfectionism

If perfectionism is infiltrating every area of your life, find some places where you can get it all out. A hobby, if you will. A place where you can obsess about the details without it controlling your life. Because the more you try to suppress it, the more it’ll show up in different areas.

I find great peace and satisfaction building with Legos. The way the pieces fit perfectly and everything is symmetrical is very pleasing to my noggin.

Some other things that comes to mind are:

  • Crafts – woodworking maybe?
  • Cleaning – not really a hobby, but I know I feel better after I clean
  • Making music
  • Puzzles

The key is: the minute it stops being fun, just walk away.

3. Celebrate mistakes + thank your perfectionism for trying to help you in the best way it knows how

Here at the Sandoval residence when someone makes a mistake we say, “Yay, I made a mistake!” We’re not robots and I’m pretty sure even robots aren’t perfect. It’s what makes us beautiful. It’s how we learn. And it’s all good.

Find the gift in every “mistake” you think you’ve made.

And thank your perfectionism for all the ways it does help you. Because really this part of you is just looking for a little love and you’re the only person who can give it to yourself.

How has perfectionism affected you? What practices help you keep it in check? Leave me a comment below.

Healthy eating for teens
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[Day 3] Food

Healthy eating for teens

It’s day 3 of the 30 day blog challenge. Do you have a blog? If so, you can join the challenge with me and a ton of amazing women here.

The topic today is food. In the past I didn’t have the greatest relationship with food or the body into which I was putting it.

This was especially true during my teen years when I struggled with anorexia and started snorting speed to curb my appetite. As a former gymnast I was judged and critiqued constantly about my body so I was convinced I was fat and needed to be skinny to be acceptable.

(If you haven’t seen the video on my five tips to quit drugs, you can do that here).

The skinny to be acceptable belief was a bunch of bs, by the way.

When I quit drugs the first time (including prescription meds for my “mental illnesses”) I did so by utilizing diet and nutrition. I had been a vegetarian since the age of ten, but not a very healthy one. Boca burgers on wheaty, gluten-filled buns were on the menu at least 3 times a week. And I’m positive all the soy was screwing with my hormones.

I was 18 when my friend staged an intervention for me. She called my boyfriend at the time (the one who was supportive of me, not the one referenced in this post) and had him come pick me up.

We sat at a park in his 280zx talking for hours. I was so out of it I don’t recall the exact conversation, but I do remember how I felt and the decision to stop. I always knew I could stop, but didn’t see the point. It was self-sabotage at its best.

I told him to buy me one last “sack,” so I could ween myself off slowly instead of quitting cold turkey. And I’m happy to say I did.

From there, I read everything I could about getting off drugs. The common thread?

  1. Change what you eat.
  2. Change what you think.
  3. Change who you hang out with.

My biggest life-saving book?

The Body Ecology Diet: Recovering Your Health and Rebuilding Your Immunity

As I wasn’t a fan of “real” doctors, I was committed to finding a way to do everything naturally. This book helped me do just that. Not only did it help my body, but I found a new hobby I really loved – cooking.

Now, thanks to the beloved internet and the food blogging revolution, I find most of my recipes for myself and 3 (almost 4!) year old online.

He eats meat. I don’t.

We both steer clear from:

  • Cow’s milk (goat please)
  • Soy (too much estrogen is no bueno)
  • Corn (almost all the corn in the world is genetically modified so no thank you)
  • Gluten (my body just doesn’t like it)
  • Strawberries (deathly allergic to the mold)
  • Peanuts (even more deathly allergic)

And I buy organic wherever possible.

I’ve been accused of being picky, but I choose to see it as knowing what my body wants and needs and acting accordingly.

Our bodies are talking to us constantly. Are you listening to yours?

How has food impacted your life? Do you have a favorite recipe or type of food (I love curry). Share it below!

Oh and here’s a non-curry recipe I love making: Baked Red Lentil Falafel

quit smoking meth
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[Video] How I Quit Smoking Meth, Drinking and Doing Other Stupid Things

quit smoking meth

From about the age of 12 until I was 22 I was either on a substance or desperately seeking something to numb my pain. Alcohol, pills, meth, coke – you name it, I did it.

I had periods of time where I would stop – the longest of which was from 18 to about 20. But my will wasn’t quite strong enough to say no when my boyfriend at the time bought us alcohol. After that day, I traveled slowly downward and hit rock bottom the day I nearly killed myself by smoking too much speed.

That was the day my body went numb and from the heavens a goddess (yes goddess) appeared telling me, “You have to stay.”

Great. So now what?

This week’s video will give you a glimpse into how I got sober and have stayed sober for over 5 years. 

Please enjoy the video, like it and share it with someone who needs it.

Below the video you’ll find the 5 keys covered in the vid so you can look at them while you watch and have them as a reference later.

#1 Decide to Stop
#2 STOP Hanging Out with People Who Don’t Want You to Get Better
#3 Find What Makes YOU Happy
#4 STOP Talking Badly About Yourself
#5 No Means No + Yes Means YES!

 

Leave me your questions or comments below. Or, if you’re interested in a free discovery session with me, go here.

Note: The book referenced in this video Behind the Mask: The Many Faces of Bullying was released today and will be on Amazon soon! I will update this post as soon as I have the correct link.

Panic attack help
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How to successfully release worry, anxiety and other sucktastic emotions (includes 3 journaling prompts)

Your thoughts are happening non-stop. And if you think something long enough you’ll start to believe its true. This is how beliefs are formed.

Those of us prone to depression and anxiety tend to dwell and obsess about anything and everything – especially the negative. It’s not usually a conscious choice, but something that became default when we were small children.

Negative thoughts and beliefs are therefor louder and more burdensome because:

1. We are acutely aware of them
2. We think we shouldn’t have them (perfectionism and unreasonable expectations)
3. We think too much in general

For those diagnosed with anxiety disorders and a plethora of other mental illnesses, the mind chatter is incessant, overwhelming and really really annoying. And we make the mistake of believing this is all there is.

Because it blinds us if we let it.

Folks who experience a lot of anxiety are incredibly intelligent, usually perfectionists and almost always highly sensitive people. They feel things (everything) down to the core of their being. So it’s easier to stay in a head space because it feels safer.

But it’s a trap.

Self-created.

Sometimes intentionally, usually unconsciously.

There is, however, always a choice.

Even when something better seems unobtainable, exhausting, impossible. You do have options.

You know how to make yourself feel better, but you forget how when you’re trapped in the infinite thought loop of impending doom.

And I’m not kidding. It can get that bad. Very quickly. You know this.

But if you can remember and demonstrate your power of choice the moment you notice what is happening, you can (lovingly) hijack your thought process and start a new one.

For example, start telling yourself, either in your head or out loud, things that bring you even the slightest bit of relief. Nothing is going to get resolved by you freaking out about it. And the longer you hold yourself in that place, the worse it’s going to get. So try saying something like:

“It’s just an illusion. It’s not going to last forever. I’m just freaking out about nothing. I made a mistake. It’s just my mind. Even though my thoughts feel very real, very scary and true, I love myself anyway. They might be true. Even if they were true, I’d be okay. I always land on my feet. I always get through this…”

And keep going until breathing becomes easier and you start to feel lighter.

Always keep a list on you, that has at least ten things you can do instead of freaking out, or being depressed or whatever it is you struggle with the most.

For me it’s anxiety. So much like the list here, you can create one that says:

“My go-to list of things to do when I’m ______________ (insert poison here).”

Here’s mine:

Panic attack help

And here’s a blank one for you to fill out and keep on you:

image

Don’t be afraid to question the accuracy of your thoughts and fears. Your fear thinks it knows everything, but there is a part of you that knows better. Listen to that part, no matter how faint it is.

And the more you do, the better you’ll feel.

You deserve that.

You deserve to feel good. For absolutely no reason. Even when you make mistakes. Even when everything seems wrong.

Here are some journaling prompts for you to explore. These are also questions that can stop negative thoughts in their tracks, so keep them nearby.

1. My fear – is it a legitimate fear? If yes, why? If no, why?

2. What can I do to accept myself even if the worry stays?

3. What am a believing about myself? Is it true?

Let me know how it goes in the comments section below.