Controlling Emotions

As someone who suffers from Major Depression and General Anxiety, I know well how difficult controlling emotions are. Emotions are powerful. You feel them but they’re hard to control because they’re inside of you. Here’s a question I ask myself regularly: Why do you want to control your emotions?

Emotions exist inside of you for a reason. Even the ones that feel over dramatic. Those ones are typically a trauma response. For example, if you’re in love with someone and they take a bit too long to text you back. The normal response would be to be patient and not over think it. However, for someone who’d been cheated on in the past, or someone who has abandonment issues, this can feel like the end of the world. I’m someone with abandonment issues and I have to regularly remind myself that their life doesn’t revolve around me. I need to be patient. I need to stop trying so hard to read between the lines when there’s nothing there and I need to take things as they are.

That doesn’t mean those emotions need to be bottled up and pushed away. If you have trauma in your past and are susceptible to these over reactive emotions in response to little things, I recommend discussing this with the important people in your life so that they know where your emotions are coming from. Instead of acting on emotions, just feel them. Don’t make them stronger, but don’t push them away. Just sit with them. Meditate on them. Meditation is a difficult practice to get in to, especially for someone who’s thoughts are constantly racing, but it really is an incredible tool to utilize. There are many guided meditations on YouTube as well as tons of apps for guided meditation. If you don’t want a voice in your ear while you meditate, Google meditation frequencies and things to help you stay focused.

Why sit with your emotions? It’s important to remember that emotions are temporary. They come and go. Allow them to exist. Pushing them back only makes them come back stronger. What is the worst thing that can happen if you sit with your intense sadness or anxiety or anger? Don’t act on these emotions, or you’ll typically dig yourself into a hole. Sit and don’t question the emotions. Don’t ruminate on them. Just feel them. Describe to yourself what it feels like in your chest. Is your anger red hot like a fire? Is your sadness dark and cold? Does your anxiety make you feel like there are bees buzzing in your chest? Notice them. Imagine the emotion spreading from your chest to all parts of your body. The emotion will spread over you and it will become more and more intense and eventually peak. As you come down from the emotion, you might learn something about yourself.

This is something that’ll take practice. It’s not something that will be easy to master but when you do, you will be in control of your emotions, rather than allowing them to control you. There are no good or bad emotions. They are simply emotions. Just as happiness comes and goes, so does sadness or anger.

Don’t allow your ego to get in the way of relationships. Assuming everything is a slight towards you will only ruin things. I’ve been guilty of doing this. Many times, actually. But it’s something to work out of.

I’m thinking about doing spooky Friday blogs. Let me know if that’s something of interest.

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Why I still have hope

Hope can be a dangerous thing. Being hopeful can lead to heartbreaks and disappointments. However, not having any hope at all can throw away your chances at something great.

I have hope because every day, I get up and I get to see my baby girl and her sweet smile. I have hope because she calls “mommy” when she needs me. I have hope because after a month of being away from her, she still ran and hugged me the second she saw me. I have hope because, even though she’s not even two years old yet, I can tell she loves me.

Being hopeful can be an extremely difficult thing to do. I’m currently unemployed. A ton of my bills and my rent are late. My phone bill is on a payment arrangement and I’m worried I won’t be able to pay it because I don’t have any income. However, during this time I’ve been unemployed, I got set up with a therapist. It was hard saying goodbye to my last therapist. She was really great. My new therapist specializes in trauma and separation, depression and anxiety. She’s a good fit for me and I’m looking forward to the work we will do together. I also got set up with WIC, and an EBT card. I wasn’t able to get unemployment insurance due to not living in this state long enough, but I may be able to apply for Minnesota. I have hope because when I ask for help, there are people and resources out there for me.

Despite being unemployed, my daughter and I haven’t lost any weight and we don’t have to go hungry. It’s a blessing. I apply for tons of jobs and the only ones who reach out to me are either scams or door-to-door sales, which lord knows I can’t handle. It’s so easy for me to become depressed. It’s so easy for me to put my daughter to bed at night and then spend my time crying until I go to sleep. It’s so easy for me to hit up random guys and invite them over to keep me company, and it’s so easy for me to get high so I can sleep without crying. It’s easy to fall into these bad habits.

It’s a lot harder to stay sober. It’s harder to let myself cry and experience these painful feelings. Even though it’s harder, in the end, I don’t have that feeling of regret and disgust with myself. I don’t feel like a shitty mom after I spend the night crying. I wake up to my baby’s smiling face and it gets me through another long day.

So every day, I find odd jobs here and there to make a little bit of extra money. I ask for help from family. I apply to dozens of jobs every day. And it’s still hard, but I’m still trying. I want my daughter to grow up and be strong. I want her to have a good role model to look up to. I know I didn’t have that growing up. I know that even if I have no reason to live besides for my daughter, that’s the only reason I really need.

I’m doing everything I can right now. I need to remind myself of that, and that my daughter is clean and fed and has a bed to sleep in. I need to remind myself that we are safe and comfortable and that we will be okay. It’s been hard for me to post a blog because I don’t know what to say. How do I talk about mental health when I can’t even practice what I preach? But you know what? A mentally stable person can sit here and preach all day long about how great meds, therapy, and a changed mindset are and it can go in one ear and out the other. I’m a mess and if you are too, I’m here in solidarity with you.

I want to post more frequently. I will do my best to do so. It’s good for me and I would really love it if I helped anyone else even a little bit.

Thank you for reading.

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My life is either falling apart or coming together

A lot has happened to me in the past couple weeks. Quarantine has been immeasurably difficult. I have been living with and coparenting with my ex husband, the father of my daughter. He continued to emotionally abuse and manipulate me. Us being home together all the time gave me no reprieve from him.

Here’s the thing. While I’m working so hard to work through my traumas and to learn ways to manage my depression and anxiety, it’s really hard to make progress stuck in a situation where I feel small when I go home. I described trauma work like being dragged across cement and at the end you feel stripped bare of your skin, feeling completely raw. That means you’re beginning to process things. Trauma work isn’t easy or comfortable. I’ve been going through that regularly with my therapist and in group but I come home to an unhealthy environment and it isn’t helping me get better. I’ve made a lot of progress. I can recognize when I’m in a crisis and I can evaluate what I need in the situation. But sometimes I can’t connect the dots. For example, I had a mental breakdown because I wanted to wax and I heated it up too much so it was too hot and it took too long to cool down. The truth behind that is that I wasn’t upset about the wax. I was upset about something my ex had said to me earlier that day.

I came to the conclusion that I needed to leave him. I couldn’t wait any longer, I needed to get out of that situation. I moved out of state to stay with my best friend until I can get on my feet. I had to leave my daughter back home with him, which was quite possibly the hardest part. Outside the airport, I hugged and kissed her and she cried when I put her back in her car seat. I’ll never forget the look on her face when I stood outside the car door window and she looked at me, pouting with tears in her eyes. It was heartbreaking. On the way to the airport, my ex was giving me a speech about how much he “loves” me. He also ended it by letting me know that he had cheated on me (for the second time) just a couple months ago. When that happened, it was right before I went in to inpatient because I was working so much, paying most of the bills, taking care of our daughter more than he did, while also juggling school. He would give me crap about dishes in the sink or my daughters snacks strewn all over the floor. He would tell me I wasn’t taking good care of her because I can watch her and look at my phone at the same time. I wasn’t allowed to have my own personality. All I was to him was basically a robot there to meet all his needs and disregarding my own.

That landed me in the hospital. I slowly started to realize, through all of the therapy and groups and medications, that I was being abused. I’d convinced myself it was normal. It’s a running joke that everyone hates their husbands, right? Everyone gets stressed out at the thought of him coming home from work? Everyone has panic attacks at the thought of him having a day off? Well, I was wrong. Being irritated at your husband for leaving stinky socks on the ground is not the same thing as being treated like an object.

So while I was going through a very, very difficult time in my life, he was having sex with his coworker in his car at two in the morning to celebrate her birthday. That’s cute, huh? I was basically living my life just to make him happy and he still went behind my back and betrayed me. He never was interested in me for who I am. He just wanted someone to help him with everything.

I left my daughter with him until I get on my feet because I want her to be in a stable environment, not sleeping on the couch at a friend’s place. It was very, very hard to make that decision and I miss her more than I’ve ever missed anyone in the world. After dropping that bomb on me, he made sure to call my toxic, abusive family and let them know I’d be in town. They know exactly where I am. They know who I’d stay with when I needed a place to stay. And they are possessive and narcissistic and believe I should be a good little girl and stay with them, where they know I won’t be able to “embarrass the family”. They also would love to get their grimy claws on my toddler so they can wrap her up in their toxicity and fill her up with the same traumas I grew up in. Not on my watch. My daughter is far too precious to me to leave her with them.

Last night, I was just so drained and heartbroken. I’d left my daughter, my cat, the man I spent four years with. I came to this place, so close to my toxic family. I was afraid to vent to my best friend because I convinced myself she had enough problems of her own and I didn’t want to burden her. I couldn’t control my crying and I told her that I was thinking about going to the hospital. I wanted to cook for her family as a thank you for letting me stay with them. While I made dinner, I talked to her and was honest with her. For the rest of the night, I didn’t want to be alone so I asked her to even sit in the bathroom with me while I took a shower because I was afraid to spiral on my own. That night, I felt that I need to disconnect and focus on myself. I disconnected from social media (though I’ll likely share this just to let everyone know what’s going on).

I need to prioritize getting myself together and getting on my feet. I don’t want outside influences, such as my ex and his friends or my family, to remind me of the past when I want to live in the present. I’m tired of being in a constant disassociative state where I feel like I’m not really experiencing my life, I’m watching someone else do it for me. I want to be stronger and healthier, for myself and for my daughter. I don’t want to instill in her the same traumas I had growing up with mentally unhealthy people who refused to acknowledge there was an issue. I want her to grow up with a mentally healthy mother who can teach her how to be mentally healthy herself. It seems like the bare minimum, but in this day and age it can require more effort than anything else.

So I may or may not vanish for a bit. Not like I have loyal followers on this blog I started earlier this month. Just thought I’d update. Thanks for reading.

The Deep Trenches of Depressive Episodes

A large portion of the world is in quarantine with covid-19 wreaking havoc on the human population. Quarantine can be difficult in a lot of ways. For people experiencing a depressive episode, being stuck at home can feel awful. There isn’t any distractions and sometimes the people you live with are your stressors. So what do you do in a crisis? What do you do when you’re having a panic attack?

It’s important to learn your personal signs that you’re in the warning zone. In one of my therapy groups, we talked about the “window of tolerance”, where we identified how we feel when we are in our comfort zone, how we feel when we are in the warning zone, or the “shutters”, and how we feel when we hit the wall. For me, personally, in my comfort zone I am calm, not tense or on edge, and my body is a normal temperature. When I get into my warning zone, which you also may have heard it as fight or flight, I feel hotter and I might sweat. My heart beats really fast and I’m easily startled. I might tremble and feel restless. When I hit the wall, I tend to shut down, dissociate, cry, ruminate, isolate. I feel cold. This is my own window of tolerance signs and everyone is different.

These different phases of a crisis that we go through are activated in different parts of the brain. The only was humans can control their nervous system is through breathing. When you get into that warning zone and you know you’re nearing the wall, that’s when you can most easily stop it. It’s important to know that the advice I’m going to give you isn’t going to take the pain away. The road to recovery requires you to feel your pain. There are ways to make it easier as I will describe, however they won’t completely take it away.

When you’re in the warning zone, this is when you should take action. You can use a weighted blanket or a weighted ball (cheaper than a weighted blanket, I got mine for 5 dollars at 5 below). The pressure gives your brain something to focus on and it can actually feel good. Weight can keep you grounded. Distracting is a great way to bring you back down to your comfort zone. Playing a game, watching TV, browsing the internet are all useful ways to bring you from your warning zone back to your comfort zone. Mindfulness is great! There are guided meditations everywhere online, including on YouTube. Doing a puzzle or coloring, or anything else you enjoy doing that you can stay present while doing it are good ways to distract.

When you’ve already hit the wall, there are still ways to bring you back. Something I was unaware of until I learned about it in group is that daydreaming and getting lost in your thoughts is dissociation. Dissociation is the brain’s way of protecting itself in dangerous situations and can happen when you hit the wall. If you’re someone whose experienced a lot of trauma, especially as a young child, the pathway between comfortable and hitting the wall will be well paved and much smaller. For as long as I can remember, daydreaming has been almost euphoric. It’s been my go-to in any uncomfortable situation. I didn’t even realize I was hitting the wall. I never felt fight or flight because that path was so well paved. So why do you want to stop daydreaming if it keeps you from your situation and it makes your body release endorphins? Because it keeps you from recovery. When you daydream, you fly high off the curve and when you come back from it, you drop steeply back down to comfort. Doing this, you don’t process at all what you’re going through.

Connecting with people is an incredibly powerful tool. If you have hit the wall, connecting is a very good way to bring you back. By connection, I mean genuine vulnerability. Don’t be embarrassed to be vulnerable with others. People respect you more. Everyone is vulnerable inside, and it’s easy to relate to someone who expresses vulnerability. Be honest about what you’re going through.

Intense exercise is another way to bring you back to your comfort zone, or at least the warning zone. Sometimes when you’re having a panic attack and can’t sit still, all you need to do is stand and do jumping jacks or run in place. Another way is temperature. Using ice or a cold pack on your hands, wrists, face, or back of your neck can calm you down.

There is no way to cure the pain. The only way to recover from a trauma is the hard way; feeling it. It’s so hard to feel the pain and accept it. I repressed the pain of my childhood traumas because I convinced myself it was normal. In my brain, I was somehow less than all my classmates. They were better than me and that’s why they didn’t have to experience those things. I know now that I was wrong and that no child in the world deserves what I went through. I was my beautiful daughter’s age when my mother started physically abusing me. I could never imagine hurting my baby girl. Sometimes I cry when she and I bond just because I feel robbed of a mother. I wish that my mother could have loved me the way I love my baby.

But I can’t change the past. That’s why I’m doing trauma work. I’m struggling to accept that it happened and I’m grieving for my child self. When you feel sad or angry or anything in regards to your trauma, just sit with it. Don’t question it or judge it. There are no bad feelings. All feelings are valid and don’t deserve to be pushed away. You feel those things for a reason. You don’t need to wonder why or how or when, or try to make it worse, or try to make it better. Just accept that it is. Focus on the feeling. You might be able to uncover some truth behind it and why it’s there.

Healthy Relationships

Everyone knows the importance of healthy relationships. But how do you distinguish a healthy relationship from an unhealthy one? And how do you know whether it’s an unhealthy person or an unhealthy situation?

Loneliness begins in oneself. It feels like you have no one around you who cares about you, like the world is spinning so fast but you can’t keep up. This kind of loneliness actually stems from a lack of satisfaction in your own body, rather than from others. Of course, humans are social creatures and we need to interact with others in order to survive. However, feeling lonely even in the presence of friends or family often comes from depression. Depression is ugly that way; it forces you to feel so alone even surrounded by people who love you. In your head, they don’t. In your head, you believe that every little thing has a meaning. If someone doesn’t return a phone call or respond to a text message, it feels like they don’t love you anymore. I get into this habit of ruminating, remembering all the times they did return the call or respond to every text. It’s an unhealthy thought process to be in.

A person who has self-compassion and is comfortable in their own skin is able to connect with people when they can, so that they don’t feel alone. Allowing yourself to open up to people who love you is a form of self-compassion. When you choose to phone a loved one to vent and cry and tell them all of your feelings rather than sitting and ruminating on your own, you’re choosing self-compassion. When I say choice, I know it’s very, very difficult to choose self-compassion to the point where you might not even feel like you have that choice. Old habits can be hard to break. It’s even harder when your brain is convincing you no one wants to hear it. In a healthy relationship, people won’t be angry or upset with you for venting. If they are, then they have their own problems to sort out and wasting time on them is pointless while you recover. If you genuinely feel like you have no one to talk to, there are crisis hotlines, walk-in therapy offices, free venting services online. My email is available in my contact page and I’m here as well.

When you come from a traumatic environment, you can feel drawn to unhealthy relationships. When your background is full of people who manipulated and abused you, you’re drawn to it because that’s what you’re used to. I came from a toxic family and was drawn to my ex because, while he wasn’t as bad as my family, he was still familiar. He was manipulative and he gaslighted me frequently. Very early on in our relationship, he convinced me I’m a liar, even though I hadn’t lied about anything and I didn’t even know why he said that. But I believed him.

Another form of unhealthy relationship is the gambling relationship. This person is so kind and sweet to you, exactly what you need from a partner, and then the next second they are completely cold. You feel desperate to get that feeling back. You stick around because the highs are so, so good, like winning the jackpot at a casino. You think if you keep putting in your money, you’ll win again. The truth is, you lose more in the end.

When toxicity is all you know, all you’ve ever been surrounded by, it’s so hard to develop healthy relationships. When I find people that make me happy, I tend to become clingy and smothering because I’m so afraid to be abandoned again. That can actually drive people away. Unhealthy people are often hurting themselves, whether or not they realize it. Unhealthy people are attracted to unhealthy people. Someone afraid of abandonment can become clingy and possessive, or it could be the other extreme, where they will push people away. Either way is unhealthy and stems from past trauma.

So how do you know when you’re developing a healthy relationship with someone? The best advice I can give you is go with your gut. If you’re with someone who doesn’t constantly hurt you, that you feel like you can be yourself around, that is a healthy relationship. In all relationships, there are disagreements. However, there is a huge difference between shouting and berating each other and calmly talking it over. If your friend or partner shouts when they’re upset, that’s a red flag. A response to shouting could be “We can talk about this when we’ve calmed down.” Or, “Why don’t you step outside for a bit and we can talk about it when you come back?” Proceed with caution. If an angry person is prone to violence, I highly recommend ending that relationship. They are an unhealthy person and they need to seek out help. That’s not safe for someone with mental illness to be around.

The opposite side of the spectrum is for you to be conscientious of how you impact the relationship. It certainly isn’t a one-way street and no one is perfect. My unhealthy behaviors I’ve stated above; becoming clingy, possessive, smothering. I also struggle to trust people. I can be clingy and stuck on them and they could tell me they love me and I won’t believe it. Unhealthy behaviors are hard to get out of, especially when they stem from past traumas. If you become angry and shout and insult the other person, take a step back and reevaluate. These are things you can unpack in therapy. Where does your anger come from? Can you get your point across in a calm manner? If you say things you don’t mean while you’re angry, think about how much you love the person. When you aren’t angry, will you regret what you’ve said? How will it impact the other person? I’m not a therapist, nor did I study psychology for longer than a semester in college. However, this kind of anger isn’t healthy in a relationship.

Sometimes you might have a healthy relationship with someone, but they exhibit unhealthy behavior at one point. It’s important to distinguish the difference between an unhealthy person and an unhealthy situation. Like I said, people aren’t perfect and everyone has things they need to heal from or past traumas. People can slip up and exhibit unhealthy behavior. A healthy person will calmly and sincerely apologize, acknowledge their mistake, and make an effort not to make that mistake again. An unhealthy person won’t acknowledge their mistake, or they might feel like they don’t need to apologize.

There is so much more to talk about in terms of unhealthy relationships versus healthy relationships so I will likely make more posts on the topic. Feel free to email me if there’s anything you’re interested in me talking about as well.

Welcome to my blog!

I’m Ghadeer and this is my first official blog post. I’m someone who loves writing and has been doing it since I was a child, so I’d love to be successful in this endeavor.

Motherhood has been a huge change for me, as it is for all first time moms. Going from no children to one child is your life flipping completely upside down. I’m someone who has struggled a lot with mental health issues. Me being a first time mom, married to someone who was mentally and emotionally abusive, and spreading myself way too thin, things ended up coming to a head.

I fell into a deep depressive state but I put on a nice little show for everyone so no one knew but me. At work, they just thought I was lazy. At home, I forced myself to give my daughter what she needs and do what I could around the house. It was never enough for my husband. All that and going to school part time took it’s toll and I ended up in the hospital. I was admitted in-patient to a psych ward. I was lucky and ended up in a good hospital. Minnesota apparently has the best mental health facilities in the USA.

I wasn’t going to work, I wasn’t doing schoolwork, and I wasn’t responsible for meeting my daughter’s needs. My husband came around every day during visiting hours and only told me how hard it was on him for me to be in the hospital. As if it was all my fault. As if I should have just sucked it up and moved on.

Being in that place, I realized how bad he was for me. I wanted to repair it, though. I wanted to change his mind. When I was discharged, I went through two partial hospitalization programs. The first one was a regular one out of the same hospital. I was the only new mom in the group. Everyone else either didn’t have kids or their kids were already grown up. The second one was a lovely mother-baby program. My daughter was too old to bring into the group (<12 months), but I was surrounded by new moms. That was where the real healing happened for me.

I decided to end my relationship with my husband. I needed, and still need, to work on myself. I’m doing a lot of trauma work currently. I wanted to start this blog to talk about mental health and parenting. Being a person who struggles with their own emotions can cause you to struggle with your child’s emotions, which will create a cycle. Let’s break the cycle together.