Journal Prompts to Get You Writing About Your Depression

Hey everyone! It’s been a rough few weeks and writing has been kind of hard for me. As I mentioned on my Instagram the other day, I went to the doctor for a routine check up and my PAP test came back with abnormal cells. Needless to say, that was scary! It got scarier when it was confirmed that I had pre-cancerous cells that I would have to go under the knife to remove. Um no! I was not expecting that! My anxiety and depression kicked in and I’ve been trying to write down my thoughts to help cope, which is why I really wanted to chat about journaling to help with depression!

journal prompts for anxiety

It can be really hard to even figure out where to begin when it comes to talking about depression. There’s a lot going on in your mind that you may not even understand and writing it all down can be a daunting idea. So I came up with ten journal prompts to get you writing about your depression.

For my journaling, I like to list out what’s upsetting me and then by process of elimination, I can pinpoint what’s causing my depression (assuming its an event and not a chemical imbalance in my brain, which sometimes it really is!)

How to Get Started

Sometimes just getting started is hard. But it gets easier when you get into your groove. I like to create the right environment to write in. Dim the lights a bit, light a candle, get a warm cup of something, put on comfy clothes, and grab a good pen. Thoughts and feelings just seem to flow after that!

Choose one or even several of the prompts above and just write until you have nothing left to say. Sometimes I write every single day and other times it’ll be once a week. Some days I have the weight of the world on my shoulders and I need to write about it to understand why I feel the way I do.

Please reach out if you’re having a hard time getting started! I’m always happy to help! Journaling may not dissolve your depression, but it can make it a lot easier to understand.

 

 

 

Using Hygge to Calm Your Anxiety

hygge for anxiety

Hygge is one of those things no one knows how to pronounce or understands what it is. I know this because at work, we all had a good time trying to design a marketing campaign around it. Turns out, that’s pretty difficult when no one can even pronounce it! We all came to the conclusion that it was pronounced “Hue-guh” and not “Higg-ey” like we originally thought. So with that in mind, let’s talk about using Hygge to calm anxiety when it acts up.

What is Hygge?

Before you can live it, you have to understand it. Hygge, according to Wikipedia, is a Danish and Norwegian word for a mood of coziness with feelings of wellness and contentment. Basically, it means you’re happy and you feel at ease.

Infusing Hygge into Your Life

Cozy blankets, candles lit everywhere, a good meal, a cup of coffee, journaling, a relaxing hobby. All of these and more can contribute to a hygge lifestyle. But an important aspect of hygge is having a space that contributes to serenity and contentment. I think the best place to start isn’t at Bath & Body Works buying a bunch of candles, but at a packing store buying boxes. Decluttering your home and getting rid of things you no longer use or cause anxiety is really important when it comes to perpetuating a relaxing atmosphere.

When I come home from work, I spend about 15 minutes decluttering my space from the night before (or from what my cats and dog have managed to get into during the day). I pick up shoes, bags, cups, and other clutter. After I’ve done this, I go about lighting candles, changing into comfy clothes, and putting on a favorite tv show. Usually I sit down with a comforting meal and settle in for the night.

Hygge extends beyond your home though! I love to keep my desk at work hygge-friendly and even my car! At my desk, I keep it as decluttered as possible and hang postcards from family and friends everywhere. I also keep a blanket at my chair so I can wrap up when I need something soft to help reduce my anxiety.

In my car, I try to keep it clean and smelling fresh with air fresheners and if the weather is nice enough, the moon roof stays open for fresh air!

Hygge Throughout the Year

Hygge is most commonly associated with the winter months but I think it extends throughout the year. Afterall, our anxiety certainly isn’t limited to one season! Use hygge concepts to help your anxiety during spring, summer, and fall too!

Spring hygge ideas: Fresh flowers on the table, lavender lemonade to sip on, open window next to an arm chair with a light blanket draped over it.

Summer hygge ideas: Strawberry salad to munch on, twinkle lights on your porch, basket full of fresh fruit and veggies sitting on the counter, soothing aloe vera for your skin.

Fall hygge ideas: Pumpkin soup on the stove, warm cinnamon latte in a cup, wicker basket filled with soft blankets, slow jazz music playing.

Any moment you can take to slow down and just be content in your space, is hygge driving out feelings of anxiety. Being content and happy is so hard in the world we live in. Happiness is often hard to find, but I’m learning that you can find it in the small things- and that can make all of the difference.

Loving Someone with Mental Health Issues: A Letter to My Husband

loving someone with mental health issues

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about love. More specifically, loving someone that has mental health issues. I was going to write a whole post on how to love someone that has anxiety and depression but then I realized I had already written something similar (which you can read here.)  So instead, I’m going to write a blog post, or rather a letter, to my husband. He’s been learning to navigate my mental health issues just as much as I have and acknowledging that your loved ones are often impacted by your issues is pretty important I think!

It can be hard to really show your significant other how you appreciate them for all that they do when it comes to your mental health. So maybe, they’ll appreciate this letter. Without further ado, David, this letter is for you:

Dear David,

Thanks so much for sticking by my side through all the ups and downs of my depression and anxiety. I know it can be frustrating and scary at times. Please know that I appreciate all that you put up with. It’s overwhelming for both of us and very confusing for you. I see the pained expression on your face trying to figure out if it was something you did that caused my anxiety to act up. I watch you trying to come up with a way to fix it for me.

It’s sometimes really difficult to explain how I’m feeling to you knowing that you really can’t understand it. It can be really lonely and isolating. But the times when you just sit next to me and hold my hand, reminding me that although I’m fighting a battle you can’t see, you’re there to fight too. That’s really the best feeling ever!

I know sometimes you may feel angry or sad that I’m not acting like my “normal” self. I know you’ve watched my entire face drain of emotion and go blank when the depression sets in. I’m sure it can be really upsetting. I’m sure I’ve ruined a few dates and even entire weekends thanks to this and for that I’m really sorry. But still you love me and plan another amazing date for us knowing that it could happen again.

You’ve probably secretly Googled “what causes depression and anxiety” hoping to find some answers that may help you understand. Everything you find is probably not all that helpful to you and doesn’t get you any closer to understanding what’s going on inside my mind and body. That’s got to be frustrating for you! When you love someone, you want to do everything you can to make their life better. But for me, sweetheart, you can’t make my mental health issues go away. They’ll probably always be there. But as long as you’re there too, it makes living with it so much easier!

Having said all of that, I want you to know that your support and the time you spend listening to me explain how I feel makes everything so much easier. I feel like no matter what comes of my depression or anxiety that I’ll be able to live! And maybe even thrive! You and I are a good pair. And even though my mental health isn’t top notch, our world together is.

All my love,

Liz

How to Make Amends With Your Hometown

hometown at sunset

Hey guys! I really wanted to chat with you about a part of you that can both positively and negatively affect your mental health-  and that is going home. Back to your roots. Where it all began. For some of us it brings nothing but sweet memories, and for others- memories you’d rather forget. Our upbringing really determines so much of our adulthood and the things we struggle with. 

Two weekends ago I went home for my Mom’s birthday, and wow, it was such a wonderful time! I loved seeing my family, friends, and all the familiar spots I went to growing up in Southern Maryland. Places that will always be a part of me and places I’ll tell my grandkids about. But anyone’s hometown can drudge up things they’d rather now reconcile with and that’s what this blog is about.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or mental health expert. I love my hometown and appreciate the place my parents decided to raise me and my sister in. I recognize that not everyone had the great childhood I did and that’s who I’m talking to in this blog. 

Going Home for the First Time

Everyone has a place they call home. And everyone has a place they’d rather not visit again. For me, that place is Leonardtown High School. I’m totally okay with never walking those halls again. I was an outcast, awkward freshman, and a big nobody. No one was ever mean to me per se, but I prefer not to go back. I just felt out of my element. 

I visit my hometown a few times a year because my parents and sister still live there. And I’ll be honest and say I had a great childhood full of love and memories I’ll have until the day I die. But for some people, going home, especially for the first time, can be scary. If this is you, wanting to reconcile with your past, take a deep breath, this next step isn’t easy. 

Admit Your Feelings

This is so hard. ADMITTING what you’re feeling and being willing to accept it can be the hardest thing you’ll do on your visit home. It’s okay to feel scared, intimidated, worried, and a million other emotions. Admit to yourself how you feel and most importantly, why you have those feelings. Say it out loud. Let it sink in. Don’t hide it. Honesty with yourself is one of the most important parts of healing.

Reconcile with the Places that Hurt You

Obviously “places” can’t hurt you, but the people they house can. I remember being a kid in our church feeling absolutely hurt by people I thought were my friends. The church didn’t hurt me but the people did. Of course every time I drive by that church I turn away knowing that I had been hurt there.

Wherever that place is for you, sometimes reconciling with the structure in which the hurt occurred can be enough. I’m a believer that you leave your energy (whether positive or negative) everywhere you go. So go back to the place where the hurt occurred and replace the negative energy you left with your positive energy, knowing that you have grown so much as a person and won’t let a bad memory control your happiness!

Sometimes it feels impossible to forgive the people that hurt you. But let the tears flow and the energy release. When you’re ready, you’ll find the ability to forgive in your heart and spirit. Most importantly, you’ll move on.

You Don’t Have to Love It

Really though. You don’t have to love your hometown. Not everyone does and that’s okay. You don’t have to have fond memories of Christmases and Fourth of July’s. We don’t all have those happy memories. I have delightful memories of holidays spent at home but I’m one of the lucky few! 

It’s ok to say “yes, this is the place that I grew up, but it is not my home.” I love that Miranda Lambert song called “The House that Built Me.” I dread the day my parents sell my childhood home, it literally is the house that built me! But for some people they rather not revere the places that shaped them as people and that’s completely okay no matter what their reason. Their feelings are valid. Acknowledge the places that shaped you as a person, but don’t feel pressure to revere them.

Talk to Your Counselor

I hate going to the Internet for help so I always say talk to your counselor. Be honest about the things that have formed you as person. We all have a history. Talk with your counselor about the places and people that make up your earliest memories. A licensed professional will be able to create a personalized strategy that allows you to reconcile with your formative years and find a way to move on or feel better about the place you came from.

 

 

Photo by Monica Bourgeau on Unsplash

What’s the Difference Between Anxiety Attacks and Panic Attacks?

anxiety vs panic

This blog is a long time coming! I’ve used the terms “anxiety attack” and “panic attack” interchangeably for way too long and I imagine I’m not the only one!  They’re actually very different from one another and I thought it was time to shed some light on both of these very unique experiences so we can all be aware of what we’re actually saying.

I’ve definitely experienced anxiety attacks before but I was surprised to learn that I’ve likely never experience a panic attack. After doing a little research, I’ve learned about the differences and how to know what I’m actually experiencing. You can check my sources here and here.

Anxiety Attack Vs. Panic Attack

anxiety vs panic attack

I found the emotional differences absolutely fascinating! A lot of the physical symptoms like shortness of breath and dizziness made total sense. But the differences were significant when it came to the emotional experiences of both kinds of attacks. People that have panic attacks sometimes feel a detachment from their body, which kind of reminds me of what some people have reported when they have “died” and then came back to life.

This by no means is an extensive list of every single symptom you can experience, but this is a good comprehensive list of more common symptoms. Personally, when I have anxiety attacks, I get the desire to get up and run away. And keep running. I often cry and my mind races with thoughts I can’t control. I’ve had anxiety attacks while running on the treadmill, which has been incredibly interesting because for about 30 seconds I’ll be able to run at a much higher speed than I normally can. It’s insane what our minds and bodies can do!

What Causes a Panic Attack or Anxiety Attack?

Panic attacks that are expected often have identifiable causes, whereas unexpected attacks have no apparent causes. They just sort of happen.

Anxiety attacks often have identifiable causes as well. Causes for each of these attacks are usually:

  • Work or social stress
  • Driving (I experience this stress in Dallas every day!)
  • Caffeine
  • Withdrawal from alcohol or drugs
  • Experiencing trauma or witnessing trauma
  • Chronic health conditions
  • Anxious personality
  • Other mental health disorders
  • Various phobias
  • Medication

How Can We Cope?

I’m not sure if there’s any one way to cope with an attack. I think therapy can be a big help (it has been for me!) I’ve also found that accepting what is happening makes a huge difference. Fighting off an attack is exhausting! Deep breathing is also a big help as well as meditation. Journaling how you feel on a day-to-day basis may also help you stay in touch with how you feel and allow you to recognize thoughts that might be triggering to your attacks.

Bottom line: everyone is different with what they experience and how they cope. It may take some time to find the right combination of coping mechanisms. But know this: you are not alone in what you experience and your feelings are VALID.