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depression

Meet Erin: From Anxiety, to the Psychiatric Ward, to Self-Acceptance.

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Meet Erin: From Anxiety, to the Psychiatric Ward, to Self-Acceptance.

From Anxiety, to the Psychiatric Ward, to Self-Acceptance. This is her Story.


By Erin of @thekeepitrealproject


Imagine wearing a full body costume, that covers every inch of you.

From your toes, up your legs, around your torso and chest, down your arms to your fingertips, and over your head and face. Imagine this costume looks like a person when you look at it in the mirror; it looks like you. It has the same skin, hair, and facial features as you. It has curves, dimples, contours. Now, imagine coming to realize you cannot remove the costume. There are no seams. No zippers. No buttons. You’re trapped. Locked beneath the surface of this body that doesn’t belong to you. You look the same, but every part of you, every sensation feels foreign.

This was my reality for a very long time. It has a name: Anxiety.

My diagnoses? Panic disorder, Phobic Anxiety, and ARFID (Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder).

I grew up with a health-related phobia of germs, illness, and contamination. Some of my earliest memories involve serious panic attacks, obsessive thoughts and behaviours, and avoidance techniques. I had become fixated on the idea that something bad was going to happen to me. All of my bodily sensations were heightened and I experienced constant stomach pain, nausea, and cold-sweats. Normal everyday activities like going to school would send me into full-fledged meltdowns. It became so serious that my parents were forced to pull me out of the mainstream school system and homeschool me for a number of years.

I spent my days obsessively showering and washing my hands until they cracked and bled. I spent hours on end by the toilet, convinced I was going to throw-up (I never did). I ate a very small number of simple foods that I deemed “safe”, and my weight stayed dangerously low for most of my childhood.

Things improved slightly as I aged with the help of a number of therapists, psychologists, and a nutritionist. I was looking forward to going to a public high school and getting a fresh start. But…

At the beginning of my grade 9 year, my Mom passed away suddenly.

I was 13, dealing with the typical freshman problems of making friends and fitting in, I was predisposed to mental health issues, and now here I was dealing with an extremely monumental loss, the worst pain I would likely ever endure. My Dad remarried within a year. So, in a way, I kind of felt as though I had lost both my parents.

I felt so alone.

I was so desperate for attention that I became very rebellious. I felt betrayed by my Dad (and by the world quite frankly) so I disobeyed everything he said. We fought so much; I felt like it was impossible to see eye to eye. I skipped school, and when I did show up I acted out in class and got in trouble a lot. I left for days on end without telling anyone where I was. I lied to anyone and everyone and dug my “lie holes” deeper and deeper. I started hanging out with other people who were participating in the same destructive behaviours in an attempt to feel a sense of belonging. I was “popular”, surrounded by people, but still felt alone and misunderstood.

I managed to graduate high school on time and off I went to college a couple of hours away. As soon as I arrived and moved into my dorm room, I started having night terrors, panic attacks, and major depressive episodes. I had no appetite and barely ate anything. I would stay in bed for days, so overcome with anxiety and sadness that I was unable to attend my classes or participate in social activities. My dream of the true college experience was completely squashed. I only made it until thanksgiving before dropping out and moving back home. I felt totally defeated. I was ashamed and disappointed in myself. I felt as though I would never get the “fresh start” I had always wanted, and I wallowed in this sadness.

My world got smaller and smaller; first I didn’t want to leave my neighbourhood, then, my house, then, my room. The simplest of tasks felt monstrous. I stopped taking care of myself. I felt like a zombie who couldn’t shower, get outside, or eat. I just laid in my bed in a constant state of panic that was never ending.

I remember thinking to myself how horrific it felt to even be alive; to feel things. To need to eat. To need to breathe. I didn’t want a body. I didn’t want a life.

My family witnessed all of this and were at a loss for what to do. They tried to help me in so many different ways, but eventually their only option was to take me to the hospital. I was admitted to the psychiatric ward against my will. This was one of the scariest moments of my entire life, but it’s when I had a revelation of sorts:

I had to start taking my mental health seriously.

I was given my diagnoses, my medication was adjusted (which made a massive difference) and I was put in an intensive outpatient treatment program, which was 4 days a week for 4 hours. My world had become so small that this seemed like the most massive commitment, and in a way it was. I was overwhelmed and ashamed of the idea of sitting in a room surrounded by “crazy” people. But when I got there on the first day, I was surprised to find myself surrounded by a diverse group of people who I would never expect to be there. There was a successful lawyer, a mother of 3, a fashionable girl around my age. I realized that seeking help wasn’t a shameful act, and that more people experienced issues with anxiety and depression than I ever could have imagined. It made me feel less alone. Every day I got up and made my way to the hospital. We talked about our struggles and experiences, we learned a bunch of skills and tools to help us cope, we even did different activities like arts and crafts and sports. I found the program, at least, gave me a purpose and a reason to get out of the house and, at most, changed my life. I was actually kind of sad when the program ended and definitely scared to be thrown back into the “real world”. But I used the skills I had learned to slowly get back to a normal life.

Things got better. Not immediately, but gradually and steadily.

I reintroduced my body to food and gained my appetite back. I started seeing my friends, driving my car again. The times where I felt relaxed and not preoccupied by my own symptoms and what they meant became longer and more frequent. I was finally beginning to live.

I owe who I am today to self acceptance. Accepting that I need a little bit more discipline and care than the average person might, and that’s totally okay. I owe it to taking my wellness seriously, investing in myself, and putting in consistent work to stay healthy and happy.
I owe it to all the incredible people who love and support me. I owe it to asking for help, and actually accepting it (I’ve had countless therapists over the years but it wasn’t until I truly accepted help that I started to see changes). But most of all, I owe it to me.

I have saved me.

I still feel trapped in the costume sometimes. But now, I realize something drastically important: it’s not a costume at all. It’s me. It’s MY skin, MY hair, MY facial features. MY curves, MY dimples, MY contours. This process of reclaiming my body as my own has been wildly liberating, and I have never been happier or healthier. I can’t wait to see what the rest of this beautiful life, the same one I once resented, holds for me.

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Yoga for Anxiety- Breath Work

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Yoga for Anxiety- Breath Work

Hi All!

It has been awhile since we posted- we have been working hard behind the scenes to make our website a little more functional.

Also- Big news- we are now on YOUTUBE! All of our videos will focus on how to move your body to help your mind (we would LOVE if you could view and hit SUBSCRIBE!)

Todays video is a simple video that focuses on a little grounding + breathwork. It also prompts the question- how are you breathing day to day? Are your breaths fast and shallow or long and deep?

Sometimes just shifting how we breathe can have a huge effect on how we feel anxiety in the body.

Do you have any tips or tricks for navigating your anxiety? We’d love to hear from you!

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Meet Ariella. This is her Story of Dysthymia,  Suicide and Anxiety + How She Continues to Find Comfort in Exercise

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Meet Ariella. This is her Story of Dysthymia, Suicide and Anxiety + How She Continues to Find Comfort in Exercise

Lesson no. 1: never judge a book by its cover.

 

I was born and raised in Buffalo, New York and am the eldest of three children.  My father is a physician, mother a nurse, brother a 22 year old division 1 hockey player “life of the party”, and sister the full package of beauty and brains at 20.  Then there’s me, Ariella- 25 years old with a mind comparable to a watch that continues to tell time even when the battery dies.  But that’s not all; there is more, so much more.

 

Since before I can remember, I have always felt different.

Not different in the way I looked or acted, but different in the way my mind worked.  Let’s be real – what kid doesn’t feel like an outcast at one point or another?  I convinced myself I was just like everybody else and kept on keeping on with my life because at the end of the day, the mind is an inanimate object that couldn’t be operated on to change it’s makeup.  And physical medicine was all I had known being raised by two parents in the medical field.  

 

As the years passed and I moved through milestone stages in my life, this feeling of being different seemed to become more prevalent on a day to day basis and the struggle became very real.  But-nobody would know, because from the outside, my life was perfect.  I was a goody two-shoes- a sociable, intelligent pretty girl, with a dream wardrobe, a cookie cutter family, and a smile on my face.  Always.

What could possibly be wrong with someone who is always happy and has it all, am I right? 

 

Let’s jump to the part of the story where Ariella is in her third year of high school (sorry for the weird third person interjection – sometimes I like talking about myself as if I’m someone else doing it).  The word “therapist” was one that I began to learn more about and thought maybe I should see one.  Speaking to someone about this weird feeling that wouldn’t go away, but kept getting worse, sounded like a good idea.  

 

At my first session, I was diagnosed with Dysthymia, persistent mild depression.  Keep in mind – nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors and there were many things other than my genetic makeup that were affecting my feelings.  Well, okay, I guess that made sense considering staying in my bedroom watching TV was always the better alternative to doing pretty much anything else.  I continued going to therapy as needed and felt little improvement.  It was a bonus to have an unbiased ear to listen to your problems that nobody knows about-

But this did not fix me. 

 

Off to college I went; my first semester was spent in London, England.  That’s when I really began understanding depression because I felt different in more than just my own mind; my physical self was beginning to have a tough time as well.  It was a very long and dragged out slippery slope, but it was only the beginning of what hell I was about to go through.  When I returned from London, I FINALLY had a word for my overall feeling of being different: Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

 

My third semester of college was in the fall of 2012.  I was going through the motions of being a college student.  Going to class, doing my homework, partying, breaking rules, and “living it up”.  That is far from what I felt like I was doing though, I felt more down and out than ever before.  I began Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with a private therapist near my school.  Then the straw broke the camel’s back. I lost all sense of myself and felt like more of a black sheep in a world of white sheep than I ever had before.

I had a full on mental breakdown my spring semester of 2013.  

 

The crying spells were endless, my appetite nonexistent, and here comes that S word- Suicide was all I could think about.  I didn’t want to be here anymore.  I found the idea of being somewhere other than in my physical body much more beautiful.  I had no plan and did not want to die, but I just wanted to be gone.  I wanted to be in a place where my mind didn’t make things so fucking complicated for me at every second of every day.  

 

I spent 24 hours in a Psychiatric hospital after insisting on going to the ER.  It led to my decision to take the semester off of school and get my feet back on the ground again.  What the actual fuck was I doing?  Here I am about to embarrass my parents for having a kid with a mental illness.  My friends are going to cut me off because who wants to be friends with a crazy girl?  Everyone is going to think that either I have been living a lie or am lying about what I am going through.  I’ll never be able to live my “normal” life again.

 

Oh to have the brain of someone with GAD … Meanwhile, back on the ranch (in Buffalo, not at school), I began to see a Psychiatrist and spent months testing and disputing different medications because I concluded after being in years of therapy, I needed a bit of extra help.

 And so began my road to recovery, a recovery that is lifelong.

 

That was 5 years ago. I was younger then and new to the mental illness club.  (I hate to call it that, a mental illness.  It’s such a degrading and ugly phrase.  You will often hear me refer to it as being different and mental health issues because in my eyes, it’s just like any other illness, but with a not so nice title.)  Every day brings about new obstacles, but every day I am learning what helps me be able to function.

Writing is my love.  I began writing during my semester off from school about my experience and have been writing ever since.  It’s scary as shit talking about something that is not accepted by most of society, but it’s opened up my eyes to how many people I can help by simply sharing my story.  Being consistent with it is not my strong suit, but getting my body moving serves as an instant mood boost.  Some days getting out of bed is what I consider to be exercise, but on other days I go on long walks, do a SoulCycle class, or a virtual workout.

Exercise has never failed to comfort me.

 

There are so many things I can and want to say about my experience living with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression, but I can’t give away every detail that I want to include in my (one day) book.  So I will leave you with an easy to read bulleted list for those struggling with their mental health and those who know someone who is.

 

If it’s YOU:

• You are not alone.  I know first hand that more often than not it feels like you are in isolation, but I promise you are not alone.

• You are allowed to talk about it.  People will always hear what they want to hear and refute what they disagree with.  Guess what – this is your life and not for them to decide how you are supposed to live it.

• Not everyone will understand what you go through day in and day out, and some may not even accept it.  Don’t be discouraged by it.

• You are just as much a human as everybody else.  If others are going to treat you differently for opening up, change your surroundings.

 

If it’s a LOVED ONE:

• Don’t take anything personally.  When you are not wanted around, it has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with how your loved one is feeling.

• Don’t tell without being asked.  Suggesting ways to deal with their mental health to loved ones may seem to be in their best interest, but it’s not the case.  Chances are they have tried everything in the book at one point or another, especially if their diagnosis is nothing new.

• Just be there.  When I am not in a good place, sometimes all I need is someone to physically be there, even if it means sitting on the couch with me in silence. 

• Educate yourself.  It’s hard to relate to something you don’t experience first hand, but there are so many resources available for you to learn more about mental ailments. 

 

Being you is the best you can be.

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I'm Cayla. This is My Story. Chapter 2

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I'm Cayla. This is My Story. Chapter 2

 

When I was little, my Mom told me I was what the doctors called "flop-jointed"- which essentially means that I moved like I had no bones. I could easily put my leg behind my head, do the splits, distort my body in whatever way I wanted and I didn’t feel a thing.

I used to move like I had no bones.

Now, Twenty-two years later all I am is bone.

Life can feel so sadistic.

 

Chapter 2

 

I am lying in a heated room in the middle of Montreal, drenched in sweat.

I’ve been here for 22 days. Not 'here' in this room- but here in this training where I am learning how to teach hot yoga.

I know we left off around the time I was sitting in the car, staring at the windshield.
The story may eventually loop back here- it may not.

But for now all you need to know is that the intense pain that was plaguing me in the car is still present . On top of that, I'm starting to become aware of more pain in my body, and how I have learned to live with it; sit inside it. Sometimes the pain is systemic- sometimes it shifts into certain parts of my body. Today it has shifted from my stomach and into my wrists.

This pain is deep and stiff and lingering so bad I can barely wrap my fingers around the yoga block that is strewn on the floor next to my mat.

When I was young and learning how to Rollerblade, I never learned how to brake properly. Instead, I’d hold my hands out in front of me and my wrists would snap back whenever they caught the wall in order for me to fully stop.

Up until now, this is the narrative I have been telling myself as to why I live with pain in my wrists.

Isn’t it funny, the stories we tell ourselves, in order to avoid facing the truth?

The air is foggy and thick and the longer I am lying here the more my mind drifts off and for one full minute I am mentally pulled out of the yoga room and flashback into my old bedroom where I am lying directly on my wrists.

It’s 530am and I can hear her in the kitchen. She is rustling around looking for a spoon- presumably to stir her coffee, which she takes with her every morning she works in the OR.
I am definitely not sleeping.
I’m not even half asleep.
My body is flexed the way one might hold themselves as they prepare to walk down a back alley in the middle of an unknown city.
My jaw is clenched. My right cheek is pushed into the pillow and my eyes are fixed on a streetlamp that is still lit in the dark light of the morning, just beyond our house, just beyond my window, just beyond the blinds.

All of a sudden the clink clink clink of the spoon in the coffee stops, the rustling stops, and I hear that swishing noise paper makes when it lifts off a surface and I know now she is reading the note I have written her, the bomb I am dropping on her, the family tree I am uprooting in this exact moment.

My eyes are fixed on the street lamp and, although the entire weight of my body is on my hands right now I can feel my fingers instinctively curl around the sheets beneath me.

She’s coming.

My friend that is a dancer told me you can always tell how someone is feeling by the weight in their footsteps, and the weight that is drawing nearer to my bedroom door is heavy, thumping, filled with rage.

What little feeling I have left in my arms drains out of my body.

The colour drains out of my skin.

I hear the door fly open.

I pretend to be asleep. Which is funny in hindsight, because the adrenaline rushing through my veins is so strong I wouldn’t be able to close my eyes even if I wanted to.

So maybe a better way of putting it is:

I am immobile and praying she won’t ask questions.

“What the f*ck is this?”.

Her voice is stern, loud, hot water about to boil over.

I can’t see her in my peripheral but I know she is fisting the paper with one hand, holding her coffee spoon in the other, a dark shadow in scrubs standing in the light of the hallway, in the small glowing slivers of streetlamp.

I don’t respond, which pushes her over the edge.

She screams my name and when I remain unresponsive she grabs the corner of my duvet and yanks it completely off my bed exposing my body- rigid, frozen, distorted.

“ANSWER ME”.

She orders me to follow her into the kitchen, she turns to exit the room, she is a dark outline in the doorway just like he was- and for one moment she is Him, and He is here and I am small and clenching the sheets and curled into a ball pretending to sleep while his 6 foot frame engulfs me.

Everyone knows he is here, but no one knows what he's doing except for me.

I am both the witness and the victim.

His arms are long, clenched, immobile, and they are stretched over the top of my head like a bear trap. I feel his breath slink across the back of my neck and into my ear. I crank my head to the right, I cross my arms into an X, I roll onto my wrists to try and keep him out. I search the room for something to land my eyes on so I don't have to look at him.

There is a stationary bike in the corner. It's white and blue. I focus on that.


There are cut-outs in the white wall, they are filled with Grandmas jewelry. It's ornate, elaborate costume jewelry and I imagine myself wearing it. I focus on that.


I climb out of my body, and all of a sudden the next few moments aren't moments, they're polaroid's.


Bike. Jewelry. Him. Window. Door. Darkness.


I focus on that.


He has evil rushing like water underneath his skin. When he touches me my skin crawls and hours later when it's still crawling I question whether his evil has become a part of me.


I easily detach from my body now.


Some nights I just stand in the shower until the hot water runs cold. I stare at the droplets of water running down the white tile. I lose track of time, of feeling, of space. I learn to avoid mirrors because I see the grooves of his face in my jawline and it reminds me I will never fully be free, because blood is thicker than water.


In a small moment of email confrontation he denies everything, his girlfriend speaks up, says he was only acting in love.


"Do you have children?" I type, my blood boiling.


"Allow me to demonstrate on your children, exactly how he was being loving" I reply. There is sarcasm rushing off my tongue, vengeance running through my veins.


I press send. I dry heave into a garbage can.

 

I feel small, I am still. The air is foggy and thick. I have grown used to seeing the shadow of Him exiting the door.
My Moms voice, panicked, angry, prying, calls to me from the kitchen.
I grab my duvet off the floor. I wrap it around me, walk out the door and down the flight of stairs.


I'll probably need therapy for this, I quip

 

I am lying on my yoga mat. The air is foggy and thick.

I take my left hand and use it to bend my right wrist back and forth, back and forth. It's thin; frail. Exactly as I would expect it to be after sleeping on it for 15 years. The pain is pointed, raw, inscribed. I keep bending.

It's slow and methodical at first but then it builds into hysterical flapping because maybe if I bend it enough the stories will release from the fascia, pour out of my bones, I'll be free.

My teacher Dina- her footsteps are soft and kind and she comes over to me as I'm lying in Savasana the way a Mother moves to protect her cub. She places her hand on my knee, I deflate, I begin to cry. Tears spill out of me the way my sweat is pouring off my skin- quickly and without permission. 

This is the first time I have allowed myself to cry. In my entire life.

"Do you want to talk about it?" she mouths.

 



 

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How Hygge is Saving My Life

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How Hygge is Saving My Life

By Kirsten Rosenkrantz

 

I had my first panic attack almost a year-and-a-half ago, but I remember it so vividly: the rapid pounding of my heart, the hot and cold sweats, the light-headedness, the invisible weight on my chest.

 

I literally thought I was dying.

 

I didn’t figure out what was happening until the third one in the span of two weeks. Finally being able to label what was going on was equally comforting and overwhelming.

 

Now that I knew what it was I felt, I could find a solution, or at the very least a coping mechanism, but I knew that would be so much easier said than done.

 

I’d been in therapy fairly regularly for most of my adult life and had been deeply aware of my anxiety and depression since I was a teenager, so this new manifestation of my anxiety wasn’t exactly a surprise to me.

 

But what was next?

 

Traditional therapy obviously wasn’t working well enough for me and I knew that I had to make changes in order to find myself some type of calm; a sense of peace.

 

A few weeks later my aunt gave me a copy of The Little Book of Hygge as a Christmas gift. My dad grew up in Denmark, so I imagine she thought of this gift as a nice little gesture, perhaps a bit silly and trendy, but generally something I might enjoy.

 

I don’t think she realized how perfect her timing was in giving me this book.

 

When I got home I began flipping through its pages and realized I already knew most of what was in the book. It did not teach me much but it served as a vital reminder; I had the key to finding my peace inside my head all along. I had to find my hygge again.

 

Hygge is hard to define exactly because it’s not something you can purchase or a class you can attend, and it means something slightly different to each individual. Generally speaking, hygge is rooted in being present and pausing to feel a deep appreciation for the simple, cozy, warm moments spent with loved ones.

 

Growing up with a Danish dad, we lived hygge every day. My fondest childhood memories are both hot and cold, surrounded by a warm yellow glow or the frigid navy blue of a night sky. They smell of fire and crisp snow, they feel like knit socks and warm blankets.

 

Summers were spent camping in Algonquin Park learning about nature and how to build a fire. My dad taught me which plants I could eat, which bark would burn even while wet from the rain (it’s birch, FYI), how to make the perfect morning oatmeal and cup of instant coffee. Our time together in the wild showed me how profound simplicity could be; that being quiet without constant distraction or entertainment opened you up to imagination, creativity, and ultimately, freedom.

 

But the winters were by far my favourite. Sitting in front of the fire after hours of skiing while my dad read to me, curled up on a sheepskin with my knit booties on. My dad built a sauna in our basement when I was young, and we would spend hours running back and forth from the freezing snow into the hot sauna. Christmas smelled like clementines and cloves, pine needles and the crackling fireplace. My dad would drink mulled wine (or glogg as we called it), while we listened to Bruce Cockburn, as my parents each read, my brother and I likely ruining the quiet night.

 

The happiest memories of my life are these ones, the ones that sit precariously on the fence between hot and cold. And while everything changed (as it always does) and most of the magic that surrounded my childhood faded away, it was always something I craved deep down inside of me but had ultimately forgotten.

 

Now as an adult struggling with what I can only describe as a deep unrest within myself, my sense of hygge had to evolve. I had to learn to feel that profound sense of appreciation when I was alone. I had to redefine what hygge meant to me, what it felt like living alone in a big city, how I could find those small moments of presence and comfort and genuinely be thankful for myself and the life I had created.

 

Even as I sit here now writing this I have a candle lit on top of my bookshelf, the glow of a hundred Christmas lights casting warm shadows all over my walls. The old sheepskin from my childhood home cushions my back, a glass of wine on my desk, a pair of knit slippers keeping my feet warm, and a hot bath just minutes away.

 

It’s the return to simplicity that is bringing me back to life, calming the part inside of me that has manifested itself as panic over a dozen times this past year.

 

Some people joke that I’ve embraced my inner grandma (they’re not entirely wrong), but what it really is is the craving for comfort that I’ve allowed myself to satiate. It turns out that I really am my father’s daughter, and returning to the way of life that created me is proving to be the way back to calm; to peace.

 

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Meet Nolan. This is his Story

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Meet Nolan. This is his Story

I’ve always felt a bit sad; Not the 'breaking up with your first love'/ 'not receiving the mark you thought you deserved' kind of sadness, but a sadness that I can only describe as a rotting feeling that plagued my entire perception of happiness.
 
                  When I was in high school, the words 'depression' and 'anxiety' were terms most definitely not universally used to describe the mental agony people could feel. Instead, they were used as placeholders for when students were feeling a sense of nerve or disappointment.
 
“Ugh. I’m so depressed. This gives me anxiety,” became a sentence I became far too familiar with.
 
During this time, the best example actually came from my parents when I told them that I was sad but couldn’t explain why:
 
“Son. You’re just in a rut. You’re fine and you’ll get out of it. Depression isn’t real,”
 
With stigmas surrounding these words, where did it leave the small margin of people who actually identified with these forms of mental health?
 
I carried this feeling of deep uncertainty inside me for years. It wasn’t until I moved out of my parents’ house and fled to Toronto when I accepted that I was living with both depression and anxiety. Over the years I had spent countless moments buried in self-loathing, emptiness, exhaustion, frustration, and pain. There was once a point when I wouldn’t even allow myself to feel happiness because I was convinced that it was temporary and unrealistic. As I'm writing this, my mind is running 1000KM/h and my fingers are flying across my keyboard; even I’m in disbelief that I have felt this way too many times over.
 
Although my mental health latches on like weights on my shoulders every single day, today I am a stronger person.
 
The key to a resilient and fit mind is treating your body in the same respect. Although I have been boxing on-and-off since I was 11, I dove heavily back into the art when I began to feel myself slipping away like sand through my fingers—contained yet falling beyond control. For the first six months getting back into it, I vividly remember mentally projecting myself at the end of each jab; each hook; each over-hand right; hoping to beat my demons out from within. I was frustrated. Mad. Hurting. I wanted change so badly.
 
Through boxing I restored my body with discipline, a hard-work ethic, drive, passion, and purpose. Today I am reminded of all these things: I AM FUCKING STRONG. I AM A WARRIOR. AND NOT A GOD DAMN PERSON WILL EVER TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME. To my friends who seek change mentally and physically, TOMORROW IS TODAY. Get after it. Move your body. Every day is your chance to make things count.
 
-n

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Waking up During the Night? This can mean different things depending on the time!

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Waking up During the Night? This can mean different things depending on the time!

So- I am a frequent night-waker. It's rare that I get through the night without waking up multiple times. This has been something that has been happening with me for years- and also something I've never really given much thought to. I've always chalked it up to not being able to shut my brain off before bed.

I've had so many conversations about so many things with my amazing and intelligent friend, Dr. Camille Krause- and this came up in one of our chats awhile back. I had NO idea waking up at different times in the night could mean different things.

In regards to the Move to Heal Project- a big learning component for me over the years has been looking at how to love and care for myself. Getting a good nights sleep definitely falls into this category, which is why I wanted to share it here.

If you're wanting more info on Dr. Camille Krause, you can find her info under our FEEL TO HEAL page, as well as through the link at the bottom of this article.

Happy Sleeping :)

**********************************************************

Dr. Camille Krause, ND

So, you're waking up in the night?
 
Different times of waking can actually mean different problems. Sorting these problems out is the type of thing I do daily with my patients to get them sleeping through the night. 

(I'd love to share some of this information with you below!)
 
2am Wake Time

If you start waking up at 2am, the likely culprit is blood sugar.

When blood sugar gets too low the body thinks it’s a matter of survival and will send out alarm signals.
The alarm signals are sent out as adrenaline, which may feel like different things depending on the person:
Some people may feel this as being wired and wide awake in the middle of the night without knowing why, without anxiety or hunger signals.
Some people may also feel ravenous in the middle of the night.
Other people may experience this as sweating, jitteriness, heart palpitations - ie, anxiety!

START NOW:
Try a snack before bed. Something that includes fat, fibre, and protein. The easiest example would be a small handful of nuts.
Balancing your blood sugar through the whole day is also important!


Alcohol

This pattern of 2am waking is also seen in some people when they have had alcohol in the evening. Alcohol causes blood sugar to rise and then drop off suddenly within a 1-3 hour span.
The type of alcohol doesn’t necessarily matter – so even though wine actually has very little carbohydrates, it’s not the sugar that is causing a blood sugar spike, it’s the body’s response to alcohol.
 
START NOW:
See if you notice a pattern of whether your sleep is affected by alcohol. 

 

5am Wake Time (or, 1-2 hours before your alarm)

the likely culprit here is cortisol.

This means you're feeling wired (as if it's time to start the day) even though your alarm hasn't gone off yet.
Cortisol is known as a stress hormone, but it’s also an integral part of our circadian rhythm.  It’s our "get-up-and-go hormone", and helps us feel awake and alert throughout the course of the day.
You may notice that if you sleep in past this early morning wakeup, you actually feel more drained and groggy – because the cortisol is no longer as high and helping with alertness.


The goal is to calm down the cortisol overnight, so that it isn't overactive in the early mornings, and lets the person get those restful last few hours of sleep – then have cortisol be available to them during the day, when they need it to focus!
 
START NOW:
Many things calm down cortisol before bed, including exercise (earlier in the day), mindfulness, no screens or stimulating content before bed, and a bedtime routine that shakes off the thoughts of a busy day.   

If you are waking throughout the night, and the times aren't constant, there is more complexity to the issue - but of course it is still solvable!

Nighttime waking may be related to hot flashes, progesterone deficiency, or serotonin deficiency, as a few examples.
 
Lastly, if someone is waking multiple times in the night to use the washroom, this could mean they are not sleeping DEEPLY enough.


The body should be able ignore signals of a full bladder (within reason), while still maintaining sphincter function, and allow you to sleep.
If those bladder signals are making it to your conscious mind, you are sleeping too lightly!  I use the number of nighttime trips to the bathroom as a marker for how deeply someone is sleeping. We cannot always increase how long you sleep for, but we can certainly improve sleep quality.


START NOW:
Track your sleep and your wake times. Note how many times you’re using the washroom in the night, and whether you’re able to fall back asleep easily when you do wake.  
Do you notice what wakes you up in the first place?


With regard to the root cause of your different wake-up times, both the

1) 2 am pattern of blood sugar dysregulation AND
2) 5 am cortisol dysregulation

can also be rooted in burnout.  Burnout can be treated!  Sleep is a foundation for all the other hormones and biochemistry of the body to work properly. When someone is able to sleep deeply through the night, their body can function better on many different levels.

Often tracking the pattern is a helpful place to start, and a healthcare practitioner can better guide what those patterns mean, and what to do about it.


You’ll find more information on burnout atwww.FatigueFixWaterloo.com

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