Sometimes You Just Have to Unplug

We live in a world where information is nothing more than a simple click away; within seconds we have the technology at our fingertips to acquire a vast supply of knowledge. Even as I sit here and type this, the thought still blows my mind. I love the Internet. I love it when my daughter asks me about Monarch butterflies and their journey from Canada to Mexico; we Google it and find out about their internal compass and their mountain pass adventures. (In case you're wondering about the butterflies, here it is.)
Today I'd like to address the other issues that come up when we are easily inundated with massive amounts of information that aren't always pleasant or positive, and the harmful effects that this overload can leave us with.


It’s Ok to Ask for Help

Sometimes I prepare the topics of my blog posts a week before I write them. Other times the topic comes to me the day of publication and the ideas flow as I write. The only rule that I have for myself is to stick to writing about the tools that I believe help promote living well with mental illness. Today while the topic I'm choosing to blog about does touch on that, it also focuses on something that I believe needs to be said, and I do hope you take it to heart.
Yesterday while I scrolled Psych Central's Facebook Page, I noticed that a photo with a quote that I have been known to say on my own Facebook page had been posted. My fellow Psych Central blogger, mental health activist, and dear friend, Gabe Howard had made it for me. The quote states, "Never be afraid to ask for help; it's one of the bravest and strongest things that you can ever do. You are never alone."


It’s Ok to Say No

For so many of us the word "No" is one of the hardest words to say, but I believe that it is also one of the most important. Let me tell you why I think we have a hard time saying it, following through when we do, and why it's so important to our wellness to say it, mean it, and practice it.


Me Time Is Not Selfish Time

Photo taken by Stephanie Ortez during her Me Time
My last blog post focused on something that a lot of us constantly think about, worries. This one focuses on something that I believe not enough of us think about, the importance of taking a little time for ourselves. Oh yes I'm using the words, Me Time.
I'm well aware that there are only 24 hours in a day, and during those 24 hours there are heaps of responsibilities placed on you, I get that. But, I'm also well aware of the damaging effects on your physical and mental health when you do not carve some time out for yourself. I understand that having fun and taking some time to relax, doesn't pay the rent or put food on the table, but neither do stress related illnesses, broken relationships, and triggered anxiety and depression, all of which can be eased a little by choosing to find some time for yourself.


The Worry List

I've started taking mindfulness classes again. I've chosen to arm myself with a few more tools to help when that dreaded anxiety decides to rear it's head. When I'm down I seem to worry, a lot. I worry about my children, and whether or not I'm a good mother. I worry about my health, and the health of the people that I love. I worry about my finances, and whether or not I'll manage to save enough for my golden years. I worry about some of the things I did when I was a kid, and whether or not they've had an impact on what I'm doing now. Oh it may seem silly, but when you can't sleep at 3am, worry is sure to step up and snuggle in with you. And, what does worry bring along to the party? That's right: Anxiety.
What has sometimes helped me when my mind was running on that loop of continuous worry, was to write down exactly what was spinning through my head. If it was the middle of the night, I would just grab a sheet of paper and make a quick list of points of what was bothering me and that seemed to help, for a bit. Yesterday the instructor of the course told me about The Worry List, and my goodness, it's brilliant!


How to Help Yourself Live Well

It's May and Spring is in the air. It's the time of year when Mother Nature's work is on her finest display. Buds are popping on trees, tulips are blooming, and everything that has laid dormant over the winter months is waking back up. If you live in a Northern climate, as I do, I know how much you can appreciate this time of year. The winter blahs are gone. It's time to get out and soak up that Vitamin D

I think it's a beautiful case of serendipity that May is also the month that we "officially" recognize Mental Health Awareness Month. But recognizing mental health awareness and being mentally healthy and aware are completely different things. I know how difficult it is to live with mental illness; I would never claim that it is an easy road. But, there are things that you can do to make that road a lot less bumpy for yourself, the question is, are you prepared to do the work?


Wellness Plans: You Need One

I absolutely love everything about Wellness Plans. WAIT! Before you keep scrolling by, just take a minute to read me out here. I too was once skeptical of the wellness plan, until my psychiatrist and I sat down and talked it out. It can be whatever you want it to be. Let me tell you why I think that you should think about creating one for yourself.


Having an Advocate and Knowing your Triggers

One of the most important things I have learned while on this journey of living with bipolar disorder is that it is imperative that I have someone to advocate for me. For the most part I have my illness under control, however, bipolar disorder is a tricky illness. It can lie dormant for quite some time with the help of medications and therapy, yet the things we call "triggers" can wake that beast back up rather quickly.
Triggers are a very real thing and are very specific to individuals. What triggers me, or sets my moods cycling, may have little or no effect on someone else. A perfect example of this is the grocery store on a weekend for me. I know how busy my neighbourhood grocery store is on the weekend, which has the potential to set me off into a bit of a panic attack. I have learned through trial and error that I must do my grocery shopping on a Tuesday or Thursday morning, when it's the quietest. This may seem silly to some people, but after numerous panic attacks, shopping cart abandonments, and coming home empty handed and in tears, which has required the use of anti-anxiety medications, I have learned that I must plan ahead and make certain arrangements to avoid situations such as these. It's an easy fix for me and it requires absolutely no added medications to function. But, it took a lot of discomfort for me to get to this point.


Welcome to Embracing Balance

The world needs more people like Nicole Lyons. She's been a tireless mental health advocate and volunteer to help in the battle to educate the public about mental illness. She lives with bipolar disorder and speaks regularly on the topic of how to help better fund mental health care and suicide prevention.

As she says: "A diagnosis of mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but an opportunity to live better, healthier and happier,...