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Stress Awareness Month

Hey guys! April is stress awareness month.
Stress is something we all cope with, some of us cope more effectively than others, and some us us have more manageable amounts of stress than others.
So, lets check in!
On a scale of 1-5 (1 being not stressed and 5 being losing it stressed) how stressed are you?? What’s going on?
And on a scale of 1-5 (1 being coping really badly, and 5 being coping super well) how well are you coping?? What are you doing?

I’ll go first.
On a scale of 1-5, I am teetering between a 4 and a 5. I have a lot of days that feel unmanageable.
My stress levels make sense to me in the context of my life right now. I just moved a few months ago (still not unpacked), I am full time at school (almost done for the summer!!), working 2 part time jobs, and of course, motherhood- which doesn’t stress me out itself, it’s feeling like I am missing out on my child’s life that is stressful. But, then I have amazing days, like yesterday, I took a mental health day and stayed home from school after staying up until 4 am doing homework. Why? Because I needed to. And I didn’t feel bad.
How well am I coping? I would say between a 2 & 3. More days I’m a 2. I’m not falling back into all my old coping skills, but I’m not on top of myself and using coping skills or self care the way I know I should. But, then I have better days and remember it’s not the worst thing I’ve lived through and it’s not forever!

So, after all that, how about you guys?? This is your chance to check in with yourself and let a little steam out if you’re feeling stressed!
Also, I found this really cool site. So, if you are feeling really stressed and are having a hard time, check this out.


Best Young Adult Books of 2018

We all have different ways of coping with the stressors in our lives. Some of us bake, play sports, or even read. Reading allows us to escape into a different reality even if only for a little while. So if you’re a young adult that’s into reading, check out this cool article that lists all the best young adult books to read in 2018!

Here’s the link:

20 of the Most Exciting YA Books of 2018

21 day anxiety challenge

anxiety

Check out this 21 day anxiety challenge from popsugar! What better time to practice new ways to cope? With school starting, lets commit to our self care! Whos going to take the challenge with me?

Managing irritability

So lately I’ve been noticing myself getting mad and frustrated really easily. I really don’t like it. I get flustered or overwhelmed at the drop of a hat- then I snap. Then I feel SO guilty. I find it puts me in a really sensitive place too. Then I feel bad about myself and my mood drops.
How do you guys manage irritability? Or when it comes, as it inevitably does with us all, how do you turn it around?
I’ve been trying to catch myself and take deep breaths. And when I do “lose it” I always try to recognize it and apologize- especially with Willow.
Tips anyone?

Overthinking and How to Deal with it!

One of the things I tend to struggle with the most is the amount of time I spend overthinking. If someone doesn’t answer my message, I immediately assume something’s wrong. If something seems off within my family, I automatically feel like another tragic incident has occurred. I feel like this definitely stems from the amount of trauma I’ve had throughout my life, but I also think that although it helps to know where it is coming from, it is still hard to deal with the fact that I always worry about EVERYTHING! Some things that help me stay focused on the present moment include blasting music, binge watching TV shows (as long as I’m not isolating and not keeping up with commitments), cooking, coloring, getting a pedicure, watching funny videos, talking to friends, and playing board games. This may not be a part of my life that I can control, but I can definitely control how I react to these VERY intense feelings.

Have any of you guys ever struggles with the anxiety that comes from overthinking or worrying too much? If so, what kinds of things help you out during these times?

My New Project: "Ellis Peace 2.0"

So I have been talking to a few people about starting a poetry group [with an LGBT focus]. It’s finally the time to get back to my roots and I am super excited. I am hoping that people get a chance to bring their stories together and in a collective effort we can inspire each other. Because that’s what poetry is about.

But before I go any further about the group, I want to share a little about my background doing poetry because this is meaningful to me.

Writing has always been my outlet to let out what’s going inside when I had no one to talk to. From writing, I developed this tremendous interest in poetry. The ability to express deep emotions in very conservative language was very fascinating. I used poetry to express thoughts that at times, only I could understand. If I wrote it, I can go back and read it and understand very clearly what I meant. In a sense, it was code writing. It was my privacy.

But the therapeutical aspect of poetry for me has transitioned from the damning relationship I had with my father to discovering my sexuality and dealing with it in school and finally, just finding a place in this world, in writing about topics on religion, politics, you name it. I just used poetry to open my eyes to the things that I am thinking about. Sometimes, it’s only after I write something that I really realize what I am thinking about.

I became a part of a poetry group called Ellis Peace when I was 12 years, just after starting high school… about 10 years ago. Everyone in the group was much older than me. Most of them were retired and they found this amazing group where everyone wrote poems for personal reasons, for books they were publishing, the local newspaper and so forth. I was learning but I found a place where I got to do what I love. I was never judged. These people were mature and experienced. They had seen the ins and outs of life. I remember how this helped me to cope. Writing poetry helped me out of depression and reading my poems, helped me to fight my anxiety. Sadly, the group slowed down after many years after the host had a stroke. She was in stable condition for some time but she managed to host a final group a few months before I migrated here.

I still have a lot of those poems that I wrote when I was 13 or 14 years old, I shared some below.

The virtue of discomfort

Life has worn happiness
It has worn greatness
It has worn delicacy
It has worn joviality

It has worn Charm,
It has been calm
It has been unpredictable
And yes it has been incredible.

But most of all, in all its lust,
It has worn disgust,
It has worn fright
It has been a seemingly an unending fight

Life had been the quintessence of dispassion,
It carries a heavy bag of decision
It weighs heavily on disappointments
And falls short on privileges

But when the day ends,
I ponder on sunrise,
When Sadness appears,
I ponder upon Happiness

For I know the reason why,
Why sometimes laughter and sometimes whimper travels by,
We were given birth
To face what life is worth,

It is not a Cosmo of just merriment
But also of experiment,
For life would be nonsense
If it was simple in all its essence.

Amazingly, this was one of my very first poems, re-reading it brings back so many memories. I remember reading this poem and being asked why I wrote it. I didn’t have a full answer. But now I know exactly what it meant. It’s pretty self-explanatory. Life was a mess, LOL. It’s sort of still is, LOL but this was around the time that I began to learn about my sexuality. I was still dealing my father’s abuse but I was beginning to realize that I was in even bigger trouble. I felt terrible.

I remember how scared I was about writing poems about my father. Back to the ‘code’ idea. But I did write a few and the poem below was a reminder to myself that I was worth something. I have struggled with my self-esteem, but it’s amazing this is how I was able to use poetry to bring so many things to meaning. Today, these poems mean more to me than they did back then.

You are…

Here today and gone tomorrow…
There is an end to everyday

But you are not bound to seas and lakes
But you are bound to the abundance of existence

You are not fingers or toes
Or eyes or nose
But you are an infinite powerful soul

You are a sailor,
Who travels deep seas
You are a soul
That faces a great unknown

You are powerful
You are an everlasting conscious being
You are an answer without a question asked
You are a story with no end

But back to the whole idea of this post, I am really hoping to do what I have been doing for so many years. I want to get back to writing serious poems while working with others. Poetry can be a private thing but it can also be a community effort. I think that we become ourselves once we share who we really are with the world. While we may not only focus on poetry but writing and other expressions, I hope to make this a family thing. That is how successful poetry become life, we bring our stories into it.

So, I am super excited about this. I have been working really hard on getting it started and I can’t wait for it to be.

New feature: Ugly Sweater Open House at the Family Wellness Center

CTSTRONG hosted an amazing ugly sweater (or festive sock) party open house at the Family & Wellness Center in Middletown this past week. TurningPointCT had the pleasure of joining families and young adults in celebrating the holiday, sharing community resources and connecting with one another. Check out the feature on our page and be on the look out for more updates on events: https://turningpointct.org/resources/featured-events/

Creative Coping Skills to Get Grounded in Change

It’s hard to keep up hope on a detour.  Maintaining an empowered approach to Mental Health all the time can be difficult, and I often personally struggle with symptoms of PTSD.  These are some reminders I give myself that often help me:

 1.) Try to see the good in circumstances

It wasn’t easy, but when stuck in hospitals throughout 27 traumatic surgeries, I kept a gratitude list so I could remember that there was still good in my life.  It helped me see things differently.  What is the opportunity in your obstacle?

“The greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.” 
― Martha Washington

So how do you find the positive when your pain – physical or emotional – screams louder than an 1980’s stereo?

2.) Practice self-care.

“Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let’s start with a grateful list form A to Z.   You don’t have to start with A.  Find any letter you can think of.  Breakfast! (My favorite B-word!) Just make sure to take the list along and fill it out before the day is through!

3.) Ground yourself. When negative thoughts or painful emotions are speaking louder than anything else around you, it’s hard to be present.  Instantly, I go right into my head – I’m worrying, self-consious and slipping slowly into pity-party mode.  Help!  I’m sucked into my mind!

Learn how to stay present.  Here are some more tips:

4.) Say an affirmation. Gooogle “affirmations” yourself “I choose to live in the present.”

5.) Breathe. It sounds easy, I know.  But you’d be surprised how often you stop breathe when you start overthinking.  Breathe deeply – it’s calming and healthy!  You can read more about the amazing benefits of deep breathing here.  Need some practice?  Breathe along (sounds crazy, I know)with this Youtube guided meditation by Eckhart Tolle TV, and when you’re ready to lie down, learn how opening up your back can open the pathway to breathing…and presence!

5.) Awareness Without Judgement. Notice every physical sensation in your body.  Have a chat with what I like to call my Five Superheros:  Taste, Touch, Sight, Sound, Smell.  Think I’m crazy?  I call them my superheros because they save me in the nick of time when I’m about to get lost in anxious thoughts.  When I start worrying or pitying myself, I call on these rockstars before I can think one more thought.

6.) Quick!  At this very second, name the first thing you…

Smell_______

See_______

Touch_______

Taste (it can be air!)_______

Hear_______

 

Your five senses help you stay grounded, no matter what. I’d love to hear some of your  tips on how to get grounded in change.

Don’t get stressed – get grounded.  Even when life takes a detour, you can always stay grounded in YOU.

Amy Oestreicher is a PTSD peer-to-peer specialist, artist, author, writer for Huffington Post, speaker for TEDx and RAINN, health advocate, survivor, award-winning actress, and playwright, sharing the lessons learned from trauma through her writing, mixed media art, performance and inspirational speaking.
As the creator of the Gutless & Grateful, her one-woman autobiographical musical, she’s toured theatres nationwide, along with a program combining mental health advocacy, sexual assault awareness  and Broadway Theatre for college campuses. To celebrate her own “beautiful detour”, Amy created the #LoveMyDetour campaign, to help others thrive through difficulties.  Learn more: amyoes.com.

If there was a cure for depression

a figure with a head that is shaded out
For months I struggled with depression hardly knowing what I was going through…

For the most part I knew that I was often anxious and I had this empty feeling that I just wanted to go away.

I am a very pessimistic person, which means that I still am… I worry about the simplest things – sometimes within my subconscious.
Maybe I have always been this way. I remember being in high school… I couldn’t go through a weekend having not looked over what I had done in class all week without feeling worried that something could go wrong. For one, I cared deeply about my school work but I was a little on the extreme. I studied, it may not have always been the best approach but I had a weird attachment to books. It was very natural for me to run though my notebook or I would just end up starting another week feeling some struggle or disappointment. Too bad, I’m now in my adult years and I’m beginning to realize that it’s not just the books; I really have an overbearing fear of failure which gives way to occasional panic attacks.

It’s that feeling you get when you think that you have not done enough or there has got to be something else to do… that restless feeling.
Every day I have been in the habit of reading a chapter or so from a book, running through a Spanish lesson or doing some form of workout. If I have something planned, I immediately get to it but if I procrastinate, I begin to develop anxiety.

But there are those days when I feel so down that I can’t get to anything and quite frankly, it makes matters worse.

I develop a feeling of guilt, worthlessness and helplessness. I have difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions.
When I was 20 years old I was diagnosed with major depression. It was really hard for me to sleep at nights – it still is. If you knock at my door at 3am in the morning I’ll probably answer it immediately. I started medication and for some time it helped but the true antidote were the things that I do when I am feeling down or when I begin to have negative thoughts. I write poems, I paint and I take photographs.

But that doesn’t mean that life eventually became perfect and my depression went away. These things don’t really cure ‘losing my family’, ‘being jobless’ or ‘homophobia’ so the only thing that has really changed is that I have developed better coping skills. I don’t have as many suicidal thoughts as before and I feel a bit more interested in my hobbies and life altogether.

Now and then I have a rough day and I sleep it out; I try not to get into the negative thinking. But I have to admit, it can be hard at times… if that doesn’t work I turn to my music, if that doesn’t work, I take a walk… I just keep trying.

Check out these uplifting stories:
http://www.adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/personal-stories/all-stories/7