Tag Archives: relationships

Travel Soothes My Anxiety – Connie Ferris

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Travel Soothes My Anxiety

Since I was a child I always knew that my mind worked in a more detrimental way than others. I would overthink even the smallest of situations. Forgetting my P.E. kit or not completing my homework would result in panic and on the rare occasion, tears. Not many people can understand anxiety unless they suffer from it themselves. However, when you finally understand your anxiety, certain events in your life begin to make sense. You understand why you acted that way and what may have triggered the anxiety. One good thing about educating yourself on your mental health is you begin to learn what is a trigger for your anxiety and what is good for your self care. For example, exams and judgement from people are big triggers for my anxiety, however travelling and seeing the world soothes my anxiety.

Like a lot of people who suffer from a bad mental health, I was diagnosed with anxiety and panic disorder when I was experiencing a big life event. I was in my second year at university and balancing university, work and a relationship all became too much for myself. However, when I started to learn about my condition and when I read online about other peoples experiences, I discovered that every individual is different and everyone finds different things triggering. For me, I have never experienced anxiety at an airport, train station, hostel, hotel or in a new city. However, for some people travel can be very stressful and just because I do not find travelling stressful this does not mean that someone else with anxiety who does is abnormal.

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Freedom

My anxiety for the most part stems from what other people think about me. When I’m travelling I feel like there are no expectations of me from anyone and therefore I cannot fail at anything. I can visit whichever attractions I like and/or I can spend a day just lounging at the beach. Everything I do is down to my discretion and so if I don’t feel up to doing something one day, then I don’t have to. This may not make sense to a lot of people as my anxiety is such a personal experience. Only I know what goes through my mind, after all.

Although I feel at home when I’m travelling, I can understand why travel can bring about anxieties in other people, especially when backpacking or long-term travelling. There’s the uncertainty of money running out and things becoming too expensive. There’s also the concern of running late for flights, trains, buses etc. Although these are perfectly valid reasons to feel uneasy or anxious, they do not faze me in the slightest. I know that I will be okay because the world is not as big as people think. Having some perspective on just how big the universe is, you’ll soon realise that you’re not that far away from home.

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Returning Home

Another reason as to why I do not feel anxious when travelling is because I always have in the back of my mind that if everything goes wrong then I can simply return home. My rule of thumb whenever I travel anywhere is that I always have emergency funds in a separate bank account that I do not touch unless I need to. The funds need to be sufficient enough to get a flight back home from wherever I may be. For example, if I were in the United States of America then I know a flight back to London will cost roughly between £500 – £1000 and so that is the amount I need to keep in my emergency fund.

It is also good to have an emergency fund in case you desperately are not ready to go home, you are running out of money but you have some work lined up, you just need a little to get you by until your first paycheck. This isn’t an ideal situation to be in as your emergency fund should only be for emergencies but as long as you remember to pay your emergency fund back then no harm no foul.

I Love to Travel

I could write about travel all day if I wanted to however the reason for writing this post was to explain why travel does not cause me anxiety. Primarily, I think the reason for this is because I love it so much. I think I would stop loving to travel if it did start to cause me anxiety simply through association. I hate anxiety and if it was connected to travelling in any way then I would also begin to dislike travelling. Fortunately for myself, I can continue to travel anxiety free for now and just enjoy every moment of my adventures.

Connie

Author Bio: Connie is a travel and lifestyle blogger over at www.earthtoconnie.com. She began her blog in 2018 and ever since she has slowly been making her way around the world. Discussing advice and tips for long term travel whilst sharing her own adventures, there is something on her blog for everyone.  You can also keep up to date with all her new content through her twitter, facebook and instagram.

Blogmas – Last Minute Stocking Stuffers

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Hello everyone and welcome to one of the last Unsanity #Blogmas posts for the 2019 season! I didn’t have the patience or time to write one blog per day, so I opted for 10-12 over the course of the month to give myself time to get them uploaded and scheduled.

I hope you’ve been enjoying them like I have been while writing them for you. There’s alot of good stuff in here, and it’s going to be hard not to want to duplicate some next year (yes, I plan to do it again! We’ll see how the year goes leading up to December haha.)

This post is all about Stocking Stuffers for you last minute shoppers who need small gifts for your co-workers or family/friends. All of these are under $10 USD too no less! (This is in no way an ad and I do not get any compensation for featuring these item’s on my blog whatsoever. These are items I have selected from personal interest.)

mad libs

Christmas Mad Libs to play with your family during the gathering.

sugar cookie

This caffeine free sugar cookie tea for the tea lovers to try during the cold winter months.

cherry bath bomb

Everybody loves surprises – give the gift of cherries and a surprise inside with this bath fizzer.

makers mark

Have a friend who loves Maker’s Mark? Get them this awesome sweater for their bottle you bought them for Christmas.

cake decorating

This Cake Decorating tip set from Baker’s Dozen should do the trick for the baking enthusiest in your friends group.

cremo

For the man in your life who shaves every day for work – this cream fights razor burn and nicks to keep him smooth.

salt scrub

Infused with Dead Sea Salts to give you younger smoother skin. Maybe stick with giving this to a friend vs a co-worker. They might get the wrong impression, lol.

unicorn slime

For the child on your list, or for a co-worker who needs something to occupy them on lunch.. this is the perfect fun gift to give!

Blogmas – Unique Gift Ideas for Anyone

BLOGMAS 2019

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With Christmas being less than 2 week away now, there’s still time to get unique gifts for everyone on your list from Amazon with two or one day delivery to most states. I’ve curated a list of a few, erm, strange yet useful gadgets and items that anyone on your list would appreciate this year. (This is in no way an ad and I do not get any compensation for featuring these item’s on my blog whatsoever. These are items I have selected from personal interest.)

910aPPf8uXL._AC_SL1500_Of course we need to start off with this shower/bathroom/anywhere wine holder for while you’re getting ready or relaxing. Made for those wine-os who just need a place to store their glass so they don’t spill it and lose their precious wine. “Finally… a little “you” time. Pull out that silky robe. Crack open a great book. Light a few candles to set the mood for the pièce de ré·sis·tance: a truly luxurious soak.” I’m just going to come out and say it: everyone on your list can use this even if they don’t put wine in it.

 

81ZP5qBBb-L._AC_SL1500_Even if you don’t like nature (which, I don’t know why you wouldn’t) this bird feeder can entertain you and anyone else in your household for hours including pets. Are you a photographer? This is the perfect gift to get some wildlife/bird portraits you normally wouldn’t be able to get. And guess what! It includes the suction cups that they guarantee are weather resistant and will not slide down on the window. Enjoy seeing wild birds up-close like never before.

 

81+gDVjidxLNeed a solid yet funny and comical planner/to do list to keep yourself organized during the day… Look no further. There’s a lot to be said for sloth philosophy, and this notepad says it all. And honestly, I added this little guy to my cart as I was writing this because maybe it will help me get my sh*t together a little… after my little naps. Get your to-do list out of the way so you can focus on what’s really important: relaxing. Take it slow and have fun without worrying that you’ve forgotten some obligation. Maybe indulge in a nap full of slothlike, stress-free dreams.”

 

 

61iz-7+DEUL._AC_SL1000_Now, you might not be into camping, but if you love the outdoors and have 2 poles or trees in your back yard, this portable hammock is definitely for someone on your list. With that price of only $25 or under, and a complete 5-star review of over 2,000 people, something tells me you can’t go wrong with this. This is a double hammock, and can hold up to (get this) 1,000 pounds! Something tells me I’m going to be adding this to my wish list today…

 

 

8130lg1zKQL._AC_SL1500_Trying to drink that water your doctor keeps telling you to drink daily to stay hydrated? Do you hate the taste of plain water though? Check out this leak-proof water bottle infuser to add your favorite fruits to. It is 100% BPA Free, comes with a carrying handle and it’s easy to clean for when you need a refill. “Water is plain, water is boring, and water is tasteless – and since we live in a sea of flavor packed alternatives (usually swimming in sugar and potential dangerous chemical additives), it’s easy to see why we skip the healthy option altogether.”

 

61r1l3Mg+WL._AC_SL1001_Picture it: you come in to your office in the morning and it’s warm because they had the heat on all night. This little fan will give you just the right amount of comfort at your desk to help cool you off for a bit. Did I mention that it plugs into your computer or laptop in order to work? How cool is that? It’s got 3 speeds, it rotates to fit your needs and is available in a few colors.

 

81LTiTxKdUL._AC_SL1500_Give the gift of cold to that beer lover in your family or friends list. “The HOPSULATOR TRíO keeps your drinks 20x colder than a standard neoprene can-cooler, so that your last sip has the same refreshing kick as the first.” Don’t have a beer lover in the family – fear not. This can also be used to keep your coffee and tea warm wherever you are with the lid attachment.

 

 

910ZdSN33oL._AC_SL1500_This cutting board is the perfect gift for the chef in your life. My husband and I actually have a cut out of Pennsylvania and we LOVE it, even if it’s just for decor half of the time. Just selcet the drop down menu and pick your state or your friends state and ta-dah! This fun, whimsical laser-engraved artwork calls out all the wonderful sights and places in the state of your choice. I mean, of course I had to choose NJ to feature, because I will always be a #JerseyGirl. Did I mention that this is bamboo? Bamboo is much gentler on knives than most cutting boards and won’t ruin them when you cut on this.

 

Blogmas – DIY Gift Guide

IT’S BLOGMAS TIME!

Happy Blogmas everyone! It’s that time where we all get into the gift giving spirit, and go hunting for the perfect item for your loved ones. Personally, I love making gifts and DIY-ing alot of stuff. For my entire family last year (aunt uncles etc) I made them a simmering potpourri kit with directions using cinnamon, dehydrated fruits and spices. It was super easy to make and I found everything in bulk in my local Winco (out in WA – we don’t have one here in PA, so I’m going to have to find something different to do..)

I’ve spent some time researching and using my past experiences and DIY things I’ve made to curate this special list of easy DIY gifts for holidays that you can create. While I didn’t have time to create them all myself and take photos of them all like I wanted to, I have linked every single one I’ve used to give proper credit for creating wonderful tutorials to be shared. I hope you enjoy!

  1. Stove Top Potpourri I found this adorable set up of something I similarly did last year for my family, as mentioned above. While this tutorial is a bit simpler than what I used, that’s okay because it’s meaningful and easy to use for the receiver! (And can be used whenever you just miss that Christmas feeling.) Photos from post by Delia Creates.                                                                               stove-top-potpourri-69-of-711124
  2. Sweater Wine Totes  I came across this online because a few members in my family like to have wine at every party… including my mom and I haha. This tutorial is simple and easy to complete if you have left over or thrifted sweaters that are stretched out that you don’t wear anymore. The only thing you need to know how to do is sew! Photos from post.                                                                           DIY-Sweater-Sleeve-Gift-Bag-for-wine-at-thatswhatchesaid.net_thumb
  3. Christmas Tea Tree This is an awesome idea! Both my husband and I love tea and so does my best friend and mom, so I was thinking of maybe making one of these for them this year as well as little added piece for them to enjoy some holiday blends. This DIY tutorial shows just what you need to make these festive little trees. Photos obtained from tutorial page linked above. christmas-tea-trees-14-1024x1024
  4. Homemade Soaps Do you know anyone who loves soaps and is always constantly buying new smells, textures and kinds? How about you make them some this year instead! It’s very easy to do and the thought of personal soaps will strike their fancy. In this tutorial, we see how to make a Grapefruit Lavender soap and a Coconut Mint soap for the soap and bath lover in your life.Photos obtained from tutorial page linked above.                                                                                     grapefruit_lavendar_soap_DIY_a_house_in_the_hills
  5. Rose Hibiscus Whipped Body Butter Now this is something that I have also tried to do for family and friends for holidays and birthdays once or twice. It was a big hit (I tried different smells than this one though) and they always wanted more. This is a non-edible gift that will make someone feel like they need a pampering night or a home-spa day. Photos obtained from tutorial page linked above.                    021015_HB_PT_BodyButter-Step5

  6. Flavored Salts Do you have a food lover in your life? Someone that is always cooking no matter what? Here’s an easy tutorial from PopSugar that shows you how to make flavored salts to use in cooking! I’ve made some of these before myself, and let me tell you – it’s such a satisfying gift to give someone. Photos obtained from tutorial page linked above.6c0c478e6716d201_salts2EG.preview.jpg

  7. Compound Butters Another treat for the chef in the house or family, are these adorable recipes for simple compound butters. Instead of giving something sugary for Christmas this year, give them something they can use to cook their steaks or spread on bread to enjoy with dinner. This tutorial also comes with a free printable! Photos obtained from tutorial page linked above.                                                 Sweet-and-Savory-Butter2
  8. Peppermint Candy Cane Sugar Scrub This is actually one of my FAVORITE things to make for the holidays! I made this two years ago for friends and they absolutely loved it. It’s great for softening up winter dry skin and it helps moisturize as you use it. It should last up to three months in a sealed jar, perfect for the length of the holidays for you to enjoy! Photos obtained from tutorial page linked above.  candy-cane-sugar-scrub-theidearoom-10-1024x683
  9. Hot Chocolate Mix Ornaments This one is great for kids! I actually did this one about 3-4 years ago while working at a small company in PA and they were a huge hit, I actually ran out with people asking me for one. Best part is, you can add any type of powdered hot cocoa, sprinkles and marshmallows or peppermint bits for a great winter decoration and drink. Photos obtained from tutorial page linked above.  hot cocoa2

40 Blogmas Ideas for This Holiday Season

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It’s that time of year again! Most would say it’s the most wonderful time of the year… Personally, I love the holiday season (minus the snow.) making people smile, festive recipes to test on the family and learning how to deal with new holiday stress.

I’ve never participated in Blogmas before, and I thought I would give it a try this year and do my own 12 days of Blogmas. I can’t really commit to 25 or 31 days of December at the moment, but I know I can at least do 12 of them and spread them out throughout the month of December!

If you don’t know what Blogmas is, it is a blogging challenge which consists in publishing a blog post either 12, 25 or all of the month of December. As its name suggests, Blogmas is the conjunction of the words ‘blog’ and ‘Christmas’ and anyone who has a blog can take part in the activity. This can give you consistent content, and help with daily views and publishing; not to mention to help you become a better writer than you already are. It’s good to have challanges in life, and a simple one like this can make the whole world of difference in your online presence.

Remember to have fun with this! It’s not meant to be stressful and if you find yourself not being able to keep up, you can always change the way you go about it like I am, and only committing to 12 days vs more than I know I can handle. Afterall, it’s YOUR blog and you can do what you want!

So on that note, I’ve decided to make a list of 40 Blogmas ideas that you may want to write about this holiday season. I’ve done a bit of research, and have curated this list based on what I personally would write about. 12 of these listed will be featured on my blog this season, you’ll just have to wait and see which ones! (These are in no particular order, I just wrote down whatever came to mind at the time.)

  1. Holiday Sales
  2. Home Decor
  3. New Years Resolutions
  4. Winter Self Care
  5. Gifts for Husbands
  6. Gifts for Wives
  7. Your Holiday Wish List
  8. Favorite Holiday Drinks
  9. Favorite Holiday Treats
  10. Favorite Holiday Dinner Components
  11. Winter Date Night Ideas
  12. 12 Days of _________ (gifts, giving, cookies etc.)
  13. Journal Prompts for Winter
  14. Gratitude Journal Prompts for Winter
  15. Gift Guide for Gifts Under $20
  16. Gift Guide for Gifts Under $40
  17. Winter Bucket List
  18. Christmas Day Routine
  19. Best Holiday Memory
  20. DIY Christmas Gifts
  21. New Years Blogging Goals
  22. Favorite Holiday Scents
  23. Gift Tag Printables
  24. Christmas Journal Printables
  25. Christmas Recipe Cards
  26. Stocking Stuffer Ideas
  27. How to Handle Holiday Stress
  28. Write Your Own Letter to Santa!
  29. A Guide to Christmas Events in Your City
  30. Top 10 Christmas Songs
  31. Holiday/Christmas Quotes
  32. Christmas Giveaway
  33. New Years Giveaway
  34. Unique Gift Ideas for Anyone
  35. December Goals/Blogging Goals
  36. Color Scheme Ideas for the Holidays
  37. Books to Read This Winter
  38. Top 5 Things You Love About Christmas
  39. Christmas Finances (with printable!)
  40. Top Unique Cookie Recipes for Christmas

I Am A Warrior – Dannii

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I’m a warrior against anxiety and depression. This is my story.

I was twenty-six when I had my daughter Mia. I lived with my boyfriend at the time in a one-bed house and we’d only been together about a year. We hadn’t necessarily planned to have a baby. I was scared but believed everything would be ok. My pregnancy was good with no problems and very easy. I had to be induced because I was twelve days overdue but I had a fairly straightforward labour. I fell in love with Mia the second I saw her. She was perfect. But I was terrified.  All of a sudden I was a mother. I was responsible for every decision, every choice for my little girl. Everything I did would shape and mould who she’d become. Very quickly I learnt how scary, beautiful, frightening, wonderful, terrifying, emotional, nerve racking, blissful, stressful, rewarding and amazing motherhood was. You go on this emotional, mental and physical, rollercoaster ride and it blows you away. Some days are tough; other days are tougher. Some days are testing, emotional and stressful. Other days are perfect and you feel more joy, love, contentment and happiness than you’d ever known was possible.

I didn’t know until much later that I had post-natal depression and anxiety. I’d previously suffered with depression as a teenager and young adult but had counselling for that and I never associated it with this. I felt different. So I didn’t believe I had post-natal depression until later. I had terrifying thoughts, dreams, and my mind played tricks on me all the time. Most days I’d cry for no reason and couldn’t understand what was wrong. My boyfriend asked all the time if I was okay, and I’d just say there was nothing wrong and that I was fine. I’d get angry with him asking me all the time because I thought I was fine but secretly knew something had to be wrong—I just couldn’t explain it or pinpoint it.  Also, I just didn’t want to admit that I was struggling in case he thought I was a useless mother. I wanted to control everything and do everything myself, even though deep down I did want help with things, but I wanted things done a certain way. I just wanted to be able to manage everything on my own because other mothers seemed to do fine and my boyfriend worked so hard; I just wanted to cope with it all. I dreaded going out and leaving the house but at the same time, I was desperate to get out, although I was just too scared. Breastfeeding didn’t come easily to me and after six or seven weeks I admitted defeat, switched to bottle feeding and felt like I’d failed. Mia wasn’t a great sleeper and I was exhausted. Her dad worked long hours on his feet all day so I wanted to do as much of the night feeds as possible, but sometimes I just needed rest. It really took its toll. I turned into someone else; I’d lost who I was. I had no self-esteem, I hated how I looked and how I felt, I lost my self-worth and self-belief and doubted everything, doubted myself. I was a nervous wreck but did everything to hide it. In hindsight, I should have got help but I didn’t because I was terrified that people would think I was an unfit mother and take my daughter away from me. I hid my feelings; I never spoke to anyone about anything that I thought or felt. I was trapped in the madness of my own mind.Inside it was eating me up and I was screaming from within.

On top of all of this, my dad was diagnosed with cancer and undergoing chemotherapy when Mia was still a baby,. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, my Gran and Grandad (Dad’s parents) both passed away within months. Although Dad made an amazing recovery from the cancer, it had all been too much and he turned to excessive alcohol consumption. Sadly he began to deteriorate drastically so I had to deal with that and trying to help keep his business going whilst he was so unwell and unfit to cope. I’d get calls at all times of the day and night from the staff or people who knew my dad at the pub, telling me he had fallen down the cellar or down the stairs. Times when they couldn’t wake him—the list goes on. I had time off work to keep rushing over to check on him. Eventually he ended up in hospital and I was backwards and forwards visiting him. I was at breaking point and I just crumbled. I couldn’t cope. I remember several times just getting in my car and driving somewhere, parking up and just sitting there and crying. I cried so much my eyes burned with the tears, my heart pounded so hard in my chest, I felt like I literally couldn’t breathe quick enough. I felt so sick and so empty.  I used to think what if I just disappeared, what if I could just fly away from it all, like a bird. How could I possibly be a good mother to Mia like this? I’d failed her. I felt useless. I used to imagine just floating, drifting away, almost like imagining an out-of-body experience. Sometimes I’d lie down in a field or on the bonnet of my car and just look up at the sky, the clouds, the stars and just wish to be up there. It sounds ridiculous now, but I felt so defeated.  I did this on several occasions, just sat there by myself.

Nobody knew.

The emotional pain and torment I was facing and tried so hard to hide just completely overpowered me. It was unbearable. My relationship broke down and I knew we couldn’t carry on for Mia’s sake. I didn’t want to risk our friendship and I knew we both deserved more than what our situation had become.

To this day, even writing this, I cannot begin to explain all the emotions and feelings that were searing though me for all that time. I was angry, desperate, frustrated, frightened, lonely, scared, deflated and just totally drained with everything.  Above all, I was so bitterly sad and upset. Something had to change. I couldn’t live like this. I still had to be a mummy. I had to rise above it all and get my inner strength back. I had to find myself again. I had to get ME back. I just wished I had addressed my anxiety and depression sooner. I was so tormented by my inner demons for so long. I want to stress that if anyone reading this feels the same or has been in a similar situation that you are not alone.

It shouldn’t be something to be ashamed about or be hidden or brushed under the carpet. For years I’ve had it and didn’t realise. I thought I was going mad and thought there was something wrong with me. I couldn’t love myself, let alone anyone else. Anxiety can strike at any time. You’re never really free of it but it’s about how you re-wire your mind and your way of thinking. Mind-set is key. It’s about keeping active but also taking time for you, to relax and rest when you need it. Although my anxiety has been so much better lately, I’ll always feel like ‘it’s in the mail’—on its way to me. Anyone who has anxiety and/or depression will know exactly what I mean by that. Anyone who has this, or thinks they do, are not alone. You don’t need to suffer in silence or feel alone.

Every day I try to be the best I can be, always worry and always just want to be all I can for Mia and my family. But sometimes I can’t be super-woman; sometimes I do feel weak. Sometimes I do question everything. It’s the not wanting to face the day or let anyone see, to just want to hide away, but then it’s the million-and-one things that my mind does going through all the consequences if I didn’t. It’s the constant over-thinking and over-analysing everything. It’s the stupid thoughts that you don’t want that frighten you but you can’t stop them in your head. It’s a constant battle. It’s the wanting to still go out and have fun to see friends but not wanting to leave the house. It’s the wanting to be alone but not wanting to be on my own. It’s the not being able to explain it or make anyone understand. It’s sometimes not being able to say a word but wanting to say so much. It’s feeling so utterly alone even though you’re surrounded by loving, supporting people. It’s about just needing a hug. No words.

Sometimes I do break down and it does take over me. But it won’t beat me. I know I’m stronger, now more than ever. I know a bad day is just one bad day in amongst a million good ones. I know my strength is within me and I’m a fighter. There are so many people in my life who inspire me in so many ways and help me with positivity and motivation every day. The key for me is having a routine, staying focused on the good things, doing things you love, keeping your mind filled with positivity and mind-set activities. Eat healthy, exercise and try to get out as much as you can to just breathe, take in your surroundings—even if it’s just for ten minutes, even if it’s the last thing you want to do sometimes—it really does help.

I know I’m probably not easy to live with or be around sometimes, but I still like to think I’m outgoing and fun a lot of the time. Again, just the many issues of having an active personality but an anxious mind. The people I love—Gary, my husband, my amazing family and friends, but most importantly my gorgeous little girl whom everything I do is for—are more precious than I could ever say. I wouldn’t be anything without them; they are my medicine and they fix me when I feel broken. But there are so many people and organisations like Mind who can help.

The fight continues. It’s okay not to be okay.

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About the Author: I’m Dannii, I’m a full time working mum to my daughter Mia, wife to Gary and we live in Bucks with our little sausage dog Ralph. I’m on a mission to use my passion for writing to reach out, help and support other mums, women, parents and anyone in general really, who reads my blogs and can get something valuable from it. My life and motherhood experiences in their real, open and honest form. This is me, the good, the bad, the ugly, but more importantly keeping it real and from the heart. You can find me on Facebook and Instagram.

Lost Relationships -Amanda Robins

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Growing up in a Narcissistic Family

The mornings were the worst. My sisters would be fighting, screaming, throwing the odd hairbrush or lipstick, pulling hair or ripping fabric. Blaming one another for missing makeup or the state of the bathroom.

There was no mediation in these epic before-work duels.

Growing up in a narcissistic family wasn’t peaceful.

Our parents were far more interested in themselves and their own problems than in their children’s ability to get along with one another or their emotional needs.

Their intense self-absorption left little room for empathy and validation or, well, parenting.

Our mother was highly anxious, obsessed with her children’s ability to reflect well on her. Any mistakes or imperfections attracted her immeadiate attention. Like a heat seeking missile, she would then become intrusive and controlling, her anxiety around appearances and social acceptance motivating intense criticism and judgement towards us.

The sibling rivalry that is a normal part of family life was exacerbated and exploited by my mother to prop up her fragile sense of self. She pitted us against one another in competition for her approval and affection, so that she could somehow feel better about herself. There was always a battle between us for the crumbs of affection she distributed sparingly.

Because of this, we never got the opportunity to repair our relationships.

We grew up in a household where there was no room for vulnerability, empathy or collaboration. Our early template for relationships was based on competition rather than caring. Even today as adults with our own lives, we are wary and distant, not able to grieve what was lost to us in childhood, or to make amends.

For myself and others who have been raised in narcissistic families, it’s an arduous pathway towards healing.

In their book on narcissistic families, Stephanie and Donald Pressman argue that children of narcissists might manage workplace relationships and setting boundaries at work, but at home it’s a different story.

According to the authors, those who have grown up in narcissistic families are often “people pleasers” trained to ignore their own boundaries so well that they don’t actually know where they are.

“Comfort in setting boundaries develops in children who have their feelings respected by their parents.”

Narcissistic parents do not respect other’s feelings, and children growing up in an atmosphere of repression, shaming and tangential communication never learn to ask for their needs to be met. In families like these, withdrawal of affection and approval will be used to control children. Parents will threaten children with rejection and anger when they don’t behave in ways that meet the parent’s needs. For young children, this is terribly destructive and teaches them to ignore their own needs.

As adults, children of narcissists are usually out of touch with their own needs.

Decision-making for those who have had their feelings invalidated as children is fraught.

Friendships and intimacy require us to make decisions about what we want to do, when and how, and this requires us to understand our feelings. Without this ability, relationships are either all-consuming (and exhausting) or cold and distant.

The Pressmans argue that children of narcissists often have an “all or nothing” approach to relationships. If survivors of narcissistic families cannot have a perfect relationship, they would rather end the relationship than negotiate or compromise. “They genuinely cannot fathom the possibility of sitting down with a spouse, friend or colleague and having a reasonable discussion to set boundaries so that those feelings and needs can be accommodated.” Having been consistently invalidated as children, they hold little hope for getting their needs met in relationships.

They often seem to expect that others will be able to read their minds. When they discover that their friend or spouse can’t do this, they are likely to become angry, disappointed or sullen, sometimes ending the relationship in disgust. And leaving their partner or friend puzzled and hurt.

The healthy give and take of normal relationships is not something that comes naturally to survivors of the narcissistic cauldron.

Attracting the right people into our lives and having healthy relationships is a challenge for those who have grown up with abusive parents.

As children of narcissists, we have been trained not to value or even acknowledge our own boundaries, because boundaries were not convenient for our narcissistic parents. We have also been trained to view relationships as mutually exploitative rather than opportunities for intimacy and connection.

Our friendships and intimate partnerships are often difficult and unfulfilling, fraught with danger and frustration.

Healing for the children of narcissists can take a long time. Self-awareness through therapy and reflection can help us change. Repairing our relationships and creating better ones is part of the journey towards growth and fulfillment.

Quotes are from The Narcissistic Family: Diagnosis and Treatment by Stephanie and Robert Pressman Jossey-Bass 1994

Amanda Robins, M.S.W, PhD.

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I am a writer and psychotherapist based in Melbourne, Australia. After a successful career as an artist and academic, I decided to retrain in order to work therapeutically with young people and studied Social Work at the University of Melbourne.

I now specialize in working with people with a history of trauma, especially those who have grown up in narcissistic families. I love writing about mental health and relationships from my own experiences and from my work with clients. I currently have a blog where I write about mental health and well-being, attachment, parenting, relationships and creativity.

My articles have been published on The Mighty, Therapy Route, PsychCentral and This Woman Can.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

https://www.amandarobinspsychotherapy.com.au/articles

https://twitter.com/amandarobins7

https://www.pinterest.com.au/amandartherapy/pins/

https://www.facebook.com/amandarobinspsychotherapy.com.au/

https://www.instagram.com/amandarobinstherapy/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/amanda-robins-a861a782/

Six Tips to Relieve School Stress – Just Call Me Jess

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The new school year is right around the corner and almost everyone is excited! Yes summer break is coming to an end, but the year will be filled with new opportunities to learn and make new friends…for most. For some, the new school year can be stressful! There is school supplies, new environment, new teachers/professors, stress if there is difficulty learning or reading and the list goes on!

Luckily, I have been there done that, when it comes to the stress associated with school. My anxiety would increase as the time got closer and would skyrocket the day before, “is my outfit right”, “what if I didn’t prepare enough”, “what if no one talks to me and I don’t make any friends”, and etc. As I would sit to take a test, I would begin to panic and often have to go outside of the classroom to catch my breath. Eventually, I began taking my classes outside and away from other classmates.

Stress is your body’s response to a challenge or demand. When you do not address the stress, it can begin to affect many aspects of your life, body and mind. Stress can often cause bodily effects such as headaches, insomnia, muscle tension, over eating or loss of appetite, and body aches. It can emotional cause you to have anxiety, lose focus, lack motivation, be easily frustrated or irritated, or even become depressed. When you are stressed you are more likely to use substances to cope, have angry outbursts, isolate yourself and have a decrease in participation in activities you once found pleasurable.

Throughout my experiences with stress, I learned many tips and tricks to decrease stress and rationalize my thoughts.

  1. Identify Your Stressor. If you walk into school/class and you begin to tense or you begin to have negative emotions identify where that comes from. Stressors can be anything and frankly that’s what makes them hard to identify. This is why it is important to have an effective self care and mindfulness routine so that you can identify your body’s responses to outside stimuli. Your body and mind will tell you that “this is not a safe place” or a “this is not comforting”.  Is it the subject, teacher or assignment you forgot to do? Once you identify the stressor it is easier to…
  2. Eliminate the Stressor. School can be a stressor in and of itself. The pressure to do well and achieve adequate grades will stress you out! Now add, family pressures, obligations, work, friends, relationships, bills, assignments, deadlines, extracurriculars…have I caused your heart rate to increase yet? Unfortunately some stressors we cannot eliminate but for the things we can impact, find alternatives.
  3. Breathing Techniques. I know, how cliche’! But seriously, taking slow breaths in and out will allow oxygen to get to the brain, your heart rate to slow and relaxes your body. Breathing in for 10 seconds, holding, and releasing for 10 seconds will allow you to make better decisions and become in tune with your body and what it needs.
  4. Exercise.The benefits of exercise are endless! Exercising is a mindfulness technique used to reduce stress, develop a healthy lifestyle and allow excess energy to be released. A simple 30 minute workout could reduce your stress and allow you to think clearly about decisions and what you need to do to have a successful day (this is why it is normally recommended in the mornings).
  5. Take A Mental Health Day. The brain is the most important organ in the body and yet we care for it the least. Stress can lead to many physical symptoms but also mental symptoms. I often see patients that have developed Anxiety Disorder or Major Depressive Disorder due to stress. How? If you continuously stress about your grades in school to the extent that you sacrifice your sleep or rarely eat you will get physically sick. You will also (eventually) burn out, lash out, fall out due to stress, lack of sleep and poor diet. Now there are no social supports, because you have isolated or pushed them away due to your emotional response to stress and you are not succeeding in school because you have burned out and fell out due to exhaustion. What is not advertised in school is taking time to care for your mental health. You will not give your best self if you are not caring for yourself.
  6. Seek Help. Speak to your teachers, counselor, family and friends about what is going on and how they can support you. I often suggest  individuals disclose their stressors to their support system in hopes that they can help combat them. If the stressor is one you cannot avoid, develop a plan with your support system so that they know how to be there for you during that time. If you need to be told to rest, eat, sleep, bathe, meditate, journal, listen to music, etc. let them know that. They cannot help you unless you tell them.

Good luck on your new school year! I know it will be everything you wish for and then some. Remember to implement these tips and stay positive!

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Hi I am Jessica, founder of Just Call Me Jess, a mental health blog that seeks to reduce stigma by normalizing the conversation surrounding it. I am a Licensed Master Level Social Worker with experience working with adults with severe, persistent mental illnesses and substance use.

Check out my blog for a FREE Weekly Self Care Calendar!

Follow me at www.twitter.com/just_jess_18 or www.pinterest.com/callmejess7

Taking Action Against our Negative Thoughts – Auburn Roe

 

Author Bio: As a born and bred London blogger, Lois is passionate about spreading positivity, talking about mental health and empowering other millennial to push boundaries in order to live their best lives.

Social Links:

www.auburnroe.com

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There’s so much pressure in today’s society to be happy (thanks social media!) and it’s so normal for us to compare ourselves to others, whether we’re aware we’re doing so or not. When I first started university 3 years ago, I realized I wasn’t having as good a time as all my friends seemed to be having… fast forward 2 months and I was at the lowest point I’d ever been.

Now I’m not totally putting all the blame on social media – I should probably give some credit to the combination of a nasty relationship break up and moving to a completely different city 200 miles from home. I love social media (it’s part of what I do for a living so I kind of have to), but there’s no denying that it’s put a strain on how today’s younger generations view themselves and others.

After eventually realizing how something so innocent as seeing my friends having a good time on Instagram could be so damaging, I didn’t know what to do. There was no way I was just going to give it up (as addictive as it is, I wasn’t going to just throw away my way of connecting with the world), but I knew something needed to change.

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I decided to try to transform it into something slightly more positive by following people that would supposedly bring more value to my news feed. You know, the typical motivational speakers; the likes of Gary Vee etc. etc.

Eventually I found someone that changed the game for me.

Mel Robbins has a very ‘no bullsh*t’ attitude when it comes to self-development and loving yourself. She delves into the science behind why we feel the way we feel, and what we can do to counteract negative thoughts.

No ‘imagining a cheque for a million dollars’ or anything like that, just good old-fashioned FACTS.

Through Mel’s (completely free) online content, I started to understand why I was having such negative thoughts and that it was no wonder I was feeling as low as I was.

Once I’d got to the root of what Mel calls my ‘limiting beliefs’, I was able to use her golden nuggets of mental health wisdom to tackle my cynical thoughts, which included (but were by no means limited to):

  • Everyone secretly hates me
  • I’m not good enough to do the things I aspire to do
  • I’m going to look back on my life full of regret
  • I’m a selfish person

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s important to note that if you’re going through a seriously low patch to the point where you have no energy to do anything (I know I’ve been there), then all you can do is pretty much just ride it out. Wait for the storm to blow over.

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And when you notice the clouds slightly starting to dissipate, that is when you’ve got to take action on those toxic inner commentaries.

Somewhere along the timeline of our lives, we develop a DEFAULT way of thinking (usually from our childhood) and this default way of thinking takes the PHYSICAL FORM of neurons in our brain called the ‘Default Mode Network’. This forms our automatic thinking patterns, so by identifying when we think these thoughts, we can counteract them with something positive like “I am good enough”. This can help us to live and think deliberately (even if we don’t believe it at first), and eventually believe in ourselves enough to achieve our goals. Even just knowing that the only problem was what I believed, I knew that I could at least try to work to change that.

The next thing I learnt was this crazy thing I had never heard of called the RETICULAR ACTIVATING SYSTEM. Like, it even SOUNDS scientific. And that’s because it is. (Why do they not teach this sh*t in high school?!)

It’s the part of our brain that filters what you focus on.

Ever heard a song for the first time in ages and then suddenly you notice it playing on the radio every time you go to the supermarket?

Ever felt kind of low and then suddenly feel that everything in your life is an absolute disaster?

That’s because your Reticular Activating System is filtering in what you’re already thinking about. If our brain consciously registered everything we experienced, our heads would be so overloaded with information that we would probably spontaneously combust. So when we feel low, the fact that that person cut you off earlier whilst you were driving home from work can feel like the end of the world.

Taking action against our negative thoughts is the only way to achieve a calmer state of mind and in turn have a happier outlook on life in general. Yes, it takes a lot of discipline and you’ll realize how hard it is to force yourself out of your auto-pilot mode.

But if you’re serious about taking control, why not use social media as a useful resource to help you get to that place?

Since my low point 2 years ago, and even only really in the last 6 months I have:

  • started my own freelance business
  • won an award at university for my academic achievements
  • seen my goals manifest literally before my eyes

It’s crazy how far a little bit of education, self-belief and hard work can get you.

Knowledge is, for sure, power. And although platforms like Instagram and Twitter are full of toxic, useless garbage, the information that can help you change your life is out there. You’ve just got to find it.

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How Mindfulness Can Make Parenting Easier – Mother of All That is Perry

Welcome! My name is Erin! I like to think of myself as agony aunt, funny mum and wordsmith of all things parenting from icky tums and dirty bums to baby blues and the terrible two’s.

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My social links are as follows:

How Mindfulness Can Make Parenting Easier

For a lot of people, becoming a parent is one of the best things in life. It’s enriching, rewarding and above all challenging! However, if you are a parent you will also know how stressful it can actually be.

Children have copious amounts of energy and need to be on the go all day. Their little minds work much faster than ours and so with everything else us adults have going on it can be pretty hard keeping up with the kids.

By the end of the day we can be worn out with very little energy to do anything else that needs done. Some parents turn to comfort food, others turn to wine but at the end of the day nothing has really changed and tomorrow will be the same. This is where mindfulness can help.

What Is Mindfulness

What Is Mindfulness?

The formal definition of mindfulness is:

“A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”

In my words, mindfulness is living in the moment. You must clear your head of every other thought about the past or the future. You also have to focus solely on what is around you.

Try it now. Take a deep breath and look at what is around you. Focus on something specific, maybe a candle… What does it feel like? How does it smell? What does it sound like? That… is Mindfulness.

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Mindfulness In Parenting

So, how can mindfulness be used in parenting to make it less stressful?

Most people get mindfulness confused with meditation. Obviously, they both require your full attention however, mindfulness does not have to be quiet and it doesn’t have to be alone. You could even practice mindfulness at a festival. And so, practicing mindfulness while parenting is easier than you think.

The first thing you need to do in order for this to work is turn off your phone (or at least out it on silent in another room). We live in an age where having your phone in your hand 80% of the day is normal, sadly. But, you have no idea how much more you will relax just by putting that phone down for an hour.

Secondly, turn off any other electronics that are likely to cause a distraction. You want your kids to practice Mindfulness too rather than sitting watching a mind numbing program that they’ve probably seen 3 times before.

Then pick an activity that is going to use all your senses. For babies you could get a “touchy feely” book, for toddlers you could do some arts and crafts, for children you could bake and for something for the whole family: go for a walk. You might be surprised by how much there is to focus on outside. By choosing an activity with a lot of texture or dynamics you can spend more time on it.

Finally, break convention! You have to think like a child, smell the puddles, taste a twig, listen to a leaf. I know I might sound like a raving loony but take it from somebody who practices mindfulness with her kids: spending an hour, taking the time to become aware of your surroundings is going ton help you unwind and tire the kids out.

How Do Children Benefit From Mindfulness?

As I said before, practicing mindfulness takes a lot of brain power which can tire your children out and keep them from getting bored. By taking time in the activity you do, you’ll find your child learns much more than what they would at a standard pace. These are great benefits for your child but teaching our children about mindfulness will also help future generations. Hopefully our children will make a habit of practicing mindfulness and teach their children to take time away from distractions. It may not seem like a big deal but I almost guarantee that if everybody practiced mindfulness daily, the world would be a little more positive.

Minfulness In Parenting