10 Things I Will Do To Improve My Own Mental Health

By Laura Bzowy

shutterstock_97047332I have had a tumultuous year, and because of this I have let my own mental health slide quite a bit while I adjust to new surroundings. Since its World Mental Health Day, I have decided to sit up and take notice of what I have and haven’t been doing, and make some changes. Some big changes and some not so big ones. Mental Health is such an important topic, and I am always discussing it, and yet I am really guilty of neglecting my own.  This changes today.

Here is a list of things that I am going to start doing immediately:

  • Put myself on a sleep schedule – I don’t sleep. And I am always exhausted, and because of that I tend to misinterpret things that are said to me.
  • Make a greater effort to meet people, and make some friends in my new city. Loneliness does not help one’s own mental health issues.
  • I am going to work on not cringing when someone hugs me. I can’t stand to be hugged, or touched. Really the only type of affection I can handle is a soft touch high-five! – This is going to change.
  • Introduce the word “yet” into my every day vernacular. As in “I am not able to do this yet”, instead of giving up – Im going to keep on trying until said task is mastered.
  • Start thinking of myself as a whole person, and not shards of broken glass.
  • Breathe – inhale and exhale, slowly and evenly. I’m going to work on this during moments of anxiety.
  • I will start saying yes to invites and events, instead of backing out at the last minute due to illness or anxiety.
  • Practice better judgement with people – I am slowly learning to trust people, and I would like to explore this more. But cautious practice is needed here.
  • Distance myself from media and social triggers that cause me pain.
  • I will smile more.

It is no longer acceptable for me to be depressed, when there isn’t really a whole lot of reason to be. And so I will commit myself to making these changes.

Like everything else, it is easier to make changes in your life – when there are other people doing the same kind of thing. So if anyone is interested in joining me in a kind of “let’s support each other” group (not a support group) – leave a comment, and list some of the things you would like to work on.  And we can make a promise to ourselves, and each other to stay on track.

What do you say –  are you with me?
I blog for World Mental Health Day

Women hugging image available from Shutterstock.



Actor Stephen Collins Accused of Sexual Assault

By Laura Bzowy

 

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Stephen Collins, film and TV actor confesses on tape in a therapy session, to sexually abusing at least three girls over a period of several years (let me clarify here, that by abusing I am referring to exposing himself and touching the children-or having them touch him). His confession was taped by his wife, unknowingly to him or his therapist. It has now become a topic about extortion.

He admitted to sexually assaulting children, and now the topic has turned into how his soon to be ex-wife was extorting money from him so she wouldn’t make his admission public. Is anyone thinking about the children (now adult women) that he has hurt? Because these girls are the victims, not Stephen Collins and not Faye Grant.

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I Should Have Seen This Coming

By Laura Bzowy

I got blindsided. And I should have seen this coming. But I missed all the warning signs. And there have been plenty. I am depressed.
I’ve been depressed before, but this time it snuck up on me. And bit me while I was sleeping.

At the beginning of this year, I moved to a new city. I left all of my friends behind, and a scene that wasn’t really working for me – and packed a couple of boxes and gave away everything else, and started over. I thought it would be exciting. A fresh start. Except I didn’t think about what it would be like to live in a city, where the only person I knew, would be the person I would be working for. And I have had the hardest time meeting people.

So now, it’s 10 months later. And other than the people I work with, I don’t have any friends here. I work way too much. Seriously between a full time job, a part time gig teaching lessons and making up stories, and writing the occasional blog post, I work about 72-80 hours a week.

This morning, I woke up late-ish (for me), reheated a cup of yesterday’s coffee, sat on the sofa and binge watched a whole lot of tv programs that wouldn’t normally interest me. And have been unable to eat anything except for tootsie rolls, which were being saved for Halloween.

It’s occurred to me that I could just be tired. Surely exhaustion would make someone feel like this. But I have no drive. No desire to get some fresh air. I have no one to call and go out for coffee with. And all of these thoughts make me feel worse. I work a lot, but for what? To go on a fabulous vacation? No. I work to pay off credit cards and other bills. I love teaching. Really Im crazy about it. But lately, it hasn’t been making a whole lot of sense to me. It’s losing the colour. Everything is turning into various shades of grey.

I am tired. Very very tired. The fact that I am able to go to work and show up at my appointments is from a sense of duty – and not anything else. Anxiety has plagued me for months, and while I attributed it to not knowing anyone in a strange city, it doesn’t ever leave. I am anxious always, at work, while teaching, when I am in my apartment, and when I am outside walking. Its a presence that I would like to do without.

I wish I could tell you this is a once in awhile kind of feeling. But honestly, its been like this for a really long time, I just wasn’t really aware of how bad its become until today.

I left my home, because I desperately wanted to find some happiness. But I am finding that happiness is elusive. And I am right at the point where I have been thinking that I don’t deserve to be happy. That I have caused a whole lot of bad stuff to happen to me. And the more these thoughts come at me – the harder it is to crawl out from under the safety of my blankets.

** There is no photo to accompany this blog post today  -because I couldn’t find one that didn’t make me feel like I was being smothered.



The Proof Is In The Pudding – Er Baked Goods

By Laura Bzowy

 

 

 

Photo Source - Chris O' Sullivan via Flicrt

Photo Source – Chris O’ Sullivan via Flickr

 

Thanks to a short but fantastic blurb by Lindsay Lowe on the Parade website, I discovered a remarkable pop-up bakery called Depressed Cake Shop. A place where you can buy dozens of grey and gloomy sweet treats. This bakery, through their deliciousness, raise awareness (and monies) for mental health organizations. Each pop up bakery donates their proceeds to a charity of their choice.

It makes perfect sense really, when I am depressed I reach for the chocolate (or anything sweet to get the bitter taste out of my mouth). So I am thrilled to know that a place like the Depressed Cake Shop exists, even on a semi temporary basis. My one complaint? They haven’t come to Western Canada yet.

I think this proves that cake will make us happy.

Thanks for helping to change the stigma of mental health. Keep up the great (and delicious) work!

 



Domestic Violence and Celebrities -It Affects All of Us

By Laura Bzowy
We Aren't Always Able to Leave

We Aren’t Always Able to Leave

 

Ray Rice, the NFL, and CBS has gotten me so angry, that I have not been able to write. I have been trying to write this post for weeks. In actual fact, I haven’t been able to write a word of any kind, because I have been so angry. So this post is to serve the purpose of me releasing my anger (and if you have pent up anger on this as well, please comment), and then move on to other topics that are happening in the world of celebrities and mental health.

In order to process what has been happening – a friend of mine gave me a little cheat sheet to help me unscramble my thoughts. And rather than write a long essay on domestic abuse, I will stick to the questions he posed.

Why would someone defend and minimize abuse?

Minimize abuse – do they think it doesn’t happen? Someone once tried to tell me that the holocaust didn’t happen. I know that the holocaust happened, its not some kind of myth. Neither is abuse. Abuse is real. I understand why victims would minimize it or even defend it. But that’s another topic. Bystanders should never say, “well they deserved it – look what she was wearing”, or “he caught her talking to another man”. or anything else to defend the abuser. There is no excuse for it. None. I don’t care what the reason is.

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Hacking – Are We Asking For It?

By Laura Bzowy

 

Hanging up the phone is not the answer

Hanging up the phone is not the answer

In this era of social networks and over-sharing, on any given day, I know what my friends are reading, watching, shopping, thinking, feeling, and wanting. Is it any wonder that people are getting hacked and that their most intimate thoughts are being published for all the world to see. The answer is no, it isn’t surprising. But it doesn’t make it right. When the latest celebrity hacking came to light last week, I was one of the many people who felt that if celebs didn’t want their private photos to be leaked, then they shouldn’t be taking them in the first place. But a wise friend prompted me to explore the situation further, and see that this situation in not as black and white as I originally thought, but that there are many shades of grey. Maybe as many as fifty.

Have you ever been the victim of a rumour or gossip? Some mean girl in the 10th grade likes your boyfriend, and spreads a lie about the kind of girl you are. An hour later the entire school is talking about your reputation. Life as you know it has changed forever. I don’t know about you, but I would have an extremely hard time trusting anyone. In fact, something like that might stop me from ever letting someone get too close. Your life for the next couple of years has changed. You may not have done anything to cause this to happen, except date a boy that someone else was lusting over – and now you are going to pay.

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World Suicide Prevention Day

By Laura Bzowy

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September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. This day exists to raise awareness and to eliminate the stigma that surrounds suicide. I want to talk about the importance of this day a bit early, because 1) its a most important conversation to have, and 2) I have a personal connection to this cause this year.

Last night I lost a friend to suicide. A man that I liked a great deal. He was smart, and fun, and told wickedly funny stories. He was good. He had a family, and had family problems. He was struggling. I wish I had known that. I should have slowed down, and looked about me -and  realized that he needed help. But I didn’t see it. And he didn’t ask. And now its too late. Had I known how bad things were for him, I would have told him that I adored him. That he was loved and valued. That he brought a smile to my face every time we talked. I would have held his hand and looked into his eyes and asked  him how he was really doing. I would have hugged him. I would have listened.  And I would not have allowed him to be alone. And all of this is too late.  His friends (me included) let him down. My world will never be the same. And the sorrow and regret that has come with this man’s death is almost more than I can bear.

And so I urge everyone to talk about how you are feeling, let people know what is going on with you. If you are having dark thoughts, please share them. Talk to your doctor, or your friends, anyone who will listen, or a help line (1-800-273-TALK). Please, I urge you. And trust me when I say, there is someone out there that will miss you. You are adored.

And I encourage everyone to regularly tell the important people in your life just how important they are. That you love them, and that things are going to get better (if they need to hear that). Don’t assume that they know.Because there is a good chance that they don’t know.

Just remember -You Are Loved.

 

 

**Photo Source- Flickr – MGN

 



Yoga: If It’s Good Enough For the A-Listers

By Laura Bzowy

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Let me tell you something about me, in about 8 days time, my life is about to explode and I will become an over-scheduled, sometimes cranky, workaholic for the next 10 months. Along with my regular 40 hour a week full time job, I also have a part time teaching practice (that is just a few hours shy of full time). Add in a bit of volunteer work, I will be working 75+ hours a week. Now don’t get me wrong. I am at my best when I am busy. I am more creative, I feel smarter, and I smile a lot more. But one thing I am not is present. Which is why I am making a commitment to yoga. Here is where I take a moment to shout out to Alicia’s blog – Your Body, Your Mind, because this is what has pushed me over the edge to make the decision to try out this lifestyle. Through her writings, Alicia has convinced me to do something more.

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Celebrities are Humans Too

By Laura Bzowy
Robots are perfect, humans not so much

Robots are perfect, humans not so much

I have been spending the afternoon glancing at celebrity gossip sites, and reading the many comments those kinds of sites bring. And I have to ask, have we forgotten that celebrities are human too?

As members of the human race, we are allowed to make mistakes. Even entitled to make mistakes. This is what helps us grow. Wrong choices bring experience to our lives, and eventually we learn from these mistakes.

So why is it that celebrities are not allowed the same graces? Why do we expect them to be perfect. Sure they have public relations people, and hair and makeup teams, stylists, personal trainers, and therapists on speed dial. But they are not robots. They have problems just like the rest of us. So when they do screw up (and we all do) why is it to be such a big deal?

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Laughter in the Face of Mental Illness

By Laura Bzowy

5783575155_33f7a63b8b_m-3This weekend, I had the opportunity to see the comedy/spoken word one man show Fruitcake: Ten Commandments of the Psych Ward, by Rob Gee. It was a wonderful production. The performance was witty, energetic, engaging, and wickedly funny. This show was about the lessons Rob has learned from his time of working as a nurse in a psychiatric hospital (with the help of the voice of God, who happens to be a Jamaican woman). It’s not easy to laugh in the face of mental illness, especially when the play revolves around the stories of his patients.

At the beginning of the play, you are introduced to Rob, the voice of God that he hears in his head, some of his coworkers and the residents of the hospital. Because of the delicate nature of the subject, the audience doesn’t exactly know how to react at first. We aren’t sure if we should be laughing -and so our response is tentative at best.

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