T – Therapy for your troubled soul. #AtoZChallenge

T – Therapy for your troubled soul. #AtoZChallenge

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary badge

Stress was a huge part of my life for quite a long period. Dealing with mental illness patients wasn’t easy. It took its toll on me, but I had no one to talk to. I did attend a few therapy sessions after learning about hubby’s bi polar disorder, but then, Life got in the way and there was no time to think about myself.

It was last year that I decided, on the spur of the moment at our psychiatrist’s, that I needed to deal with my stress and anxiety. I was exhausted holding it all in for almost 19 long years and I just wanted to get rid of that fear that hampered my growth.

The therapy sessions helped me share things I had pushed to some dark corner of my mind and find a much-needed release. I also discovered that i suffered from Generalised Anxiety disorder–the most common of anxiety disorders in today’s world.

Today, after more than five months of my first therapy session, and with the help of medication, here’s how I find myself in a better space:

HOW THERAPY HAS BENEFITTED ME:

I am in a much better mental health than before.

I have learned to deal with the fear and the anxiety that would torture me earlier.

I have realised that my anxiety was a result of my imagination going wild.

I have become aware of how my mind works and how the negative thoughts disturb me so.

I have learned to change my thought process and look for positivity in even the most trying situations.

I have learned a few facts about my panic and how to deal with the uncertainties with a calm mind.

And, most important of all, I have learned to live in the moment and take Life as it comes.

It is such a relief, being able to live life without fear or anxiety interrupting every step of the way!

YOU NEED THERAPY IF:

1. If your loneliness gets frightening and leaves you feeling crippled.

2. If your anxiety comes in your way and controls your everyday functioning.

3. If you have sleep issues: have trouble falling asleep/have a disturbed sleep/feel fatigued at the beginning of your day.

4. If you have thoughts that control you and leave you distressed on a daily basis.

5. If you have difficulty dealing with issues arising in your relationships.

6. If you have anger issues.

7. If you suffer from uncontrollable mood swings.

8. If fear/jealousy/sadness et al are the emotions that rule your world.

9. If you feel depressed all the time.

10. If you find yourself unable to deal with difficult situations with confidence and courage.

There is really no shame in visiting a counsellor or going in for therapy. Your mind and your soul deserve to be cared for the same way you care for your physical health and appearance.

All it needs is a phone call to make an appointment, and complete faith in your therapist. Oh, and complete honesty on your part, too!

Cheers!

Love,

SHILPA…

Therapy is a necessity for a troubled soul

I am participating in the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, and my theme this year is, ‘SELF-CARE’. You will find all the A to Z posts here.

A letter to my anxiety.

A letter to my anxiety.

My dear Anxiety,

So weird that I call you “dear”, considering you have caused nothing but distress for years together. But, since you have been an old companion, I’ll be polite with you.

I did think that it would be easy getting rid of you, you know? With the help of therapy and my meds, I had started to feel so much better, as if a load had been lifted off my chest. But, as a dear friend pointed out, it isn’t easy getting rid of you, completely.

You still exist in my system. You hide in the shadows, like a bandit, waiting for the perfect chance to pounce on my mind and destroy all the peace. You are very very wicked…oh yes, you are!

Haven’t you had your fill feeding on my mind all these years? Why can’t you just let me be? Why do you have to rear your ugly head every now and then and tease and taunt me so? Is it your mode of entertainment?

I know you so well now. I can instinctively sense you approaching when my heart starts to beat in that peculiar manner and my breath gets shallow. The restlessness and the panic and all those horrid thoughts that suddenly appear and crowd my mind speak loud about your vile intentions.

But, I have had enough.

I have decided to work harder at getting over you and not cower in fear.

I know, you will always be loitering around, somewhere on the periphery. But, I am working on getting stronger by the day, and learn how to deal with you, rather, make good use of you to face the fears you scare me with.

Yes, I am working on using you to my advantage; making use of my anxiety to get over my anxiety!

Like, the other day, when hubby disclosed his plans for the next month. My instant reaction was PANIC, followed by fearful thoughts of every kind.

But, then, something clicked, and I thought to myself how I didn’t need to think about the moment that’s still to come. How, we can take precautions and be prepared for any untoward events that might take place. How, those untoward events I fear, might not even take place, after all, and, it’s all just YOU trying to put those fearful thoughts in my mind!

What a relief it was, I tell you! Not because of what I had realised about you and your evil ways, but about being able to find solutions to eventualities that might happen.

it was our Scouts and Guides motto, back in school:

“BE PREPARED”.

So, that’s what I am going to work on.

On being prepared for anything and everything that comes my way.

And, making good use of you in looking for a way out of a difficult situation I might find myself in.

All I need to do is, BE PREPARED and BE ALERT.

Ah… That does feel so good now!

Try as you might, dear Anxiety, but I am NOT going to allow you to win.

I am going to fight you till my last breath.

So, YOU be prepared, too!

Love ‘n’ luck

SHILPA…

 

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Happily Puzzled!

Happily Puzzled!

You might be wondering what I am “happily puzzled” about, isn’t it? Well, do you know, today is Puzzle day? Yeah! I really never knew there was any such day that celebrated solving puzzles. But, there is and it has a good reason behind it, too.

We all have solved puzzles right since childhood. Those simple jigsaw puzzles that we tried to put together as little kids, and then, those 1000 pieces puzzles that took a lot more time and effort to put together. Then, the crossword puzzles and the Sudoku puzzles, the Rubik’s Cube, the Scrabble Game…ah, there are puzzles aplenty!

But, do you remember how deeply engrossed you would get when you were in the midst of solving a puzzle? As kids, we would forget about the homework that needed to be completed; all we were interested in was solving that puzzle. And, the same goes for today, too. For those who regularly solve puzzles will know what I mean.

Solving a crossword puzzle on your way to work, or on a leisurely Sunday, or before going to bed, is such an interesting activity, we forget where the time goes. And, when we complete a puzzle, we are jubilant! It gives such a high solving a crossword or a Sudoku, however easy or cryptic these might be.

Do you know what exactly that puzzle does for you, for your mind, for your brain?

PUZZLES ARE THE BEST WORKOUT FOR OUR BRAIN

The way we give our body a workout through Yoga or a walk/jog/dance, so do we need to give a good workout to our brain. And, solving a puzzle does just that. It’s akin to sharpening a pencil! When you solve a puzzle, you are sharpening your brain, nudging it awake and making it think, work, make some extra efforts. And, you know, this exercise of solving a puzzle revitalises your brain, sharpens it thoroughly and helps it stay young, ‘wrinkle-free’. In short, solving puzzles is like giving our brain not only a workout, but also a thorough ‘body-massage’! And, who doesn’t love a body massage?

PUZZLES ARE THE BEST STRESS-BUSTERS

Last year, when hubby was admitted to the hospital after a Bi-Polar manic episode, I knew my stress levels would definitely drive me over the edge. So, as I sat by his bedside, I busied myself solving puzzles. It took my mind off the present situation and made me focus completely on the puzzle, giving my mind a much-needed break. This respite refreshed me because I hadn’t been wasting all my time worrying about the situation, or dreading about the future. And, we all know how, an idle mind is a devil’s workshop. So, why let the mind sit idle? If you have no work to do, no chores to complete, just sit down with a newspaper and solve all the puzzles printed in there. It will be the best thing you will be doing for yourself.

PUZZLES REDUCE ANXIETY

Because you are concentrating on getting the answer to that puzzle, you are not allowing any thoughts that cause anxiety to enter your mind. And, this, in turn, makes space in your mind for better thoughts. Be it a crossword puzzle or a game of Scrabble, your mind is busy coming up with words that will help you win the game or complete a puzzle that has been testing your vocabulary skills. Your anxiety is well handled and you are much at peace.

PUZZLES HELP IMPROVE OUR VOCABULARY

Teach your child to play Scrabble or the crossword puzzle and you will help him build a solid vocabulary. It will do the same for you, too. We aren’t familiar with so many words, and often, as we age, are at a loss for words. The right words elude us, leaving us feeling embarrassed or helpless. Word puzzles are not just entertaining but educative, too.

PUZZLES PROVIDE THE BEST COGNITIVE STIMULATION

Especially to the senior citizens, who are at a greater risk of age-related illnesses of the mind. A puzzle will help them stimulate their mind, give a workout to their brain and keep them occupied in something positive. Puzzles are considered perfect in preventing the brain from deteriorating. This particular information is something I always come across in articles by medical practitioners.

So, these are quite a lot of reasons why you need to begin solving puzzles, if you aren’t already, isn’t it? I love solving the crossword and Sudoku puzzle before I go to sleep. My bedside table holds a few newspapers everyday, folded in such a way, the puzzles’ page is always on the top, ready to be picked up and worked on before I begin yawning! It really helps me fall asleep soon, you know?

And, that’s the reason behind that title, “Happily Puzzled”! Solving puzzles makes me happy!

How about you? Which one’s your favourite? Do share.

 

LOVE,

SHILPA…

 

Improve your mental agility with the help of puzzles.

 

 

 

Generalised Anxiety Disorder – Care and management.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder – Care and management.

I discovered last month that after battling chronic stress and anxiety over a period of 19 years, I had developed Generalised Anxiety Disorder, which went unnoticed for a long time. There was Life to deal with. Earlier, it was MIL’s illness and her passing away, followed by my pet dog’s illness and his passing away, and then, last year, hubby’s illness and many other unimagined, unexpected events that turned my world upside down.

It is only so much that a person can handle without getting intensely affected by the events that take place in his or her life. But, when the stress, the fear and the exhaustion gets unbearable, it is sure to affect a person’s mental health.

I am glad I sought professional help when I realised I couldn’t take it any longer.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder can be managed provided you work on yourself and your thoughts that cause you the anxiety. And, yes, also seek medical help.

So, after a few sessions of counselling and medicines that help in controlling the anxiety and its thought process and get an 8 hour uninterrupted sleep (ah, sheer bliss!), I have been handling my anxiety much better. I have learned to distract my mind from thoughts that cause the anxiety to escalate; I have made a few changes in my daily life to help me loosen up a bit, relieve the stress and learn to live in the moment that makes things a lot easier for the mind.

Today, I would like to share the ways in which I manage my anxiety and am in a much calmer space despite the chaos around. Well, chaos is omnipresent, isn’t it? It’s always going to be your companion in Life!

ANXIETY:

Anxiety is a feeling we all experience in our life. Some anxiety is even necessary for us to be able to face and deal with any situation that comes in our life at every turn. However, when this anxiety takes over our mind to such an extent that it becomes difficult to deal with everyday life, we ought to seek professional help. There is no need for any embarrassment, really. Our body will function to its optimum only if we are in a healthy frame of mind.

So, if you do feel your anxiety and fear making life difficult for you, then:

  • Consult a mental health expert,

  • Seek counselling, and

  • Take the prescribed medications.

  • And sharing a doctor’s advice :

    Try and understand the thoughts that cause you the anxiety and look for solutions. Journaling helps. Write down the thoughts that cause you anxiety and find ways to tackle those issues if and when they do arise.

Most of the times, people with GAD imagine the worst case scenario which causes extreme anxiety. Know, that whatever happens, you will be able to face it, cope with it. Diverting your attention won’t help in the long run. But, assuring yourself that you can and will deal with the uncertainties in Life will arm you with the strength you need.

EASY AND EFFECTIVE WAYS TO MANAGE ANXIETY:

PRACTICE MINDFULNESS:

An easy way to practice mindfulness is to make it a goal to be followed for a particular number of days. Say, for a week or so. Every task you do, make sure your mind is in that very moment a 100%. Grab your mind by its collar when you feel it wandering and bring it back to the present. it isn’t easy, mind you, but you need to do it for yourself. Just do it a few times, while cooking/working/walking, and you will notice how it relieves the mind.

BREATHE:

Breathe. The one process our life depends on and the one process we often neglect. We aren’t even aware whether we are breathing correctly.

Sit cross-legged on the floor, or a chair; be comfortable and then inhale slowly and deeply, for as long as you can. Then, exhale the same way. Focus on your nostrils as you take in the air and let it out, or focus on your stomach as it inflates and deflates as it takes in the air and lets it out. Do it just for 10 counts, initially. And, then, do it whenever you are sitting idle, lost in thoughts. Bring your mind to the moment and begin to breathe. And, FOCUS on your breath. DO NOT let your mind wander.

SLEEP:

An uninterrupted sleep is so necessary for our body and mind to recover from the day’s exhaustion, to repair itself and to rejuvenate.

Switch off your gadgets–phones, laptops and TV–an hour or half an hour before bedtime. Carry a book or the newspaper to bed and read or solve puzzles. Within ten minutes of doing this, you are sure to feel drowsy. This is because there isn’t the blue light emitting from the book/newspapers, neither is there any movement on a screen in front of your eyes to keep your mind alert. Sudoku and crossword puzzles work for me. Find out what works for you.

DIVERT YOUR MIND:

Each time I used to travel in the car with hubby at the wheel, I would panic. So much so, that I used to beg for divine intervention to come and save me. I am mortally scared of speed. I feel at ease only when the vehicle runs at a speed of 60 Kmph. Slower than that is also welcome!

Now, thankfully, since hubby learned about my GAD, he drives real slow. And, if by chance, there is a nutcase driving like a maniac and hubby tries to veer away from his path, I hold on tight to my bag in my arms and go away to some far away fantasy land. This works like a charm. Although, what I do need to work on, is to tell myself that I can cope with the speed and assure myself that whatever happens, I will take care of it.

TAKE A WALK/PRACTICE YOGA:

Any form of exercise, when done with complete concentration, helps distract your anxious mind.

I practice yoga for 30 – 35 minutes in the morning and go for a 40 minutes walk in the evening, without fail. And, while doing these activities, I do not have any app guiding me or recording/calculating the number of steps or calories burned. I just stay in the moment. I breathe, take in the scenery, or concentrate on the asanas. That’s THE way to enjoy your workout!

LISTEN TO MUSIC:

Music is therapy for the mind and the soul. Agree?

Just put on some music of your choice while working or doing chores and feel your mind relax. It is, indeed, therapeutic. I have made a habit of listening to music at least once a day–morning or evening–and it leaves me feeling so fresh!

COMMUNICATE:

Talking things out with your close ones helps tremendously.

I have marked days of the week when I call up my close friends and cousins and have a heart to heart talk with them. I have set alarms in my phone that remind me of which day and at what time I am to talk to which person. Amusing, I know, but this helps me stay connected with my close ones and have my support system when I am in need.

INDULGE IN FRIVOLOUS ACTIVITIES:

Absolutely insignificant stuff like looking for matching accessories for your clothes, deciding what clothes you will wear for which occasion (even if there isn’t one anytime soon), pampering your body with a spa treatment at home, preparing face masks or body scrubs from stuff in your kitchen cabinets–it is super fun, I tell you! These things, though frivolous, push out the anxious thoughts that often find a snug spot in our mind. Try it. It’s silly, I know, but it helps.

READ:

Fiction, especially suspense-thrillers are my go-to books when I need to divert my mind. Self-help books seldom help me at such times, coz I don’t want any gyaan; all I want is some adventure to read about or some murder mystery that grips my attention like nothing else can.

PURSUE A HOBBY:

My favourite is art, and especially, the Zentangle. And, these days, I am bitten by the Mandala bug. I can forget the world and its hundred worries when I sit down to make a mandala.

Anxiety is a feeling that will always be lurking somewhere in your mind. Life is such. But, you need to show your anxiety who’s the boss!

Take care…

Love,

SHILPA…

P. S.

Do read my friend Sanch’s comment below. She is a psychologist and has shared some much-needed advice for us.

Thank you so much, Sanch! 💟

Love,

Shilpa.

ANXIETY (1)

 

 

 

 

 

Generalised Anxiety Disorder – Symptoms.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder – Symptoms.

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It’s midnight. The world around you is fast asleep. But, you aren’t. You are tossing and turning in bed, anxiously awaiting sleep that seems to be playing a game of hide-n-seek with you. Eventually, after what seem like hours, your eyelids begin to droop. But, just when you feel a sense of calm come over you, a thought creeps into your mind, unannounced, and at once you are awake. The sleep that was at the threshold, has turned around and left.

The thought has now taken over your mind. A thought that is scary, terrifying and only increasing in its enormity by the moment. You begin to breathe heavily, taking in lungful of air, but suddenly feel suffocated and feel a horrid kind of fear taking shape in the pit of your stomach. You start panting and the restlessness increases to such an extent, you just wish to get out of the room, which feels like it’s caving in on you.

The fear now feels like a claw that surges upwards towards your chest, grips your heart and squeezes the life out of it and the world comes crashing down on you. You beg the thought to leave your mind; you pray for the anxiety and the fear to leave you in peace, but it takes more than prayers for it to happen. Finally, after what seems like an eternity, the thought leaves you. Exhausted, you fall asleep.

Have you experienced this, ever?

For me, anxiety and fear have been my constant companions for years. Being a caregiver for two patients of mental illness took its toll. Not a day went by when I wasn’t nervous, scared and anxious about something untoward happening and things going wrong. Try as I might, I couldn’t control Life and all that She brought with Her.

It is exhausting, this living with anxiety, day in day out. You put up a brave face for your family, for the world; you put on a mask of serenity so that others around you stay happy. But, after some time, it feels like a burden that keeps getting heavier. A burden that threatens to crush you under its weight.

After fighting this battle with anxiety all these years, I decided it was time to seek help. I couldn’t go on with it anymore. Moreover, with all that happened few months ago, the situation had only worsened. Sharing my fears with others is not something that comes naturally to me. Each one of us is fighting a battle, and to burden others with my worries is not something I can imagine doing, ever.

Close ones chid me for being so guarded, so “closed”, but the fear that, what if I share my worries precisely when they are going through rough times, themselves? stops me from doing so. And, so, I sought the help of my psychiatrist.

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders with 1 out of every 14 people being likely affected.

I never knew I would be one of those 14 suffering from Anxiety Disorder until my psychiatrist broke the news to me last month. Was I glad I sought his help? I was, of course, but I wished I had sought this help long ago. I would have dealt with Life much better.

Lack of sleep, panic and fear, breathlessness, heart palpitations, dizziness are all symptoms of Anxiety Disorder. Your rational thinking gets affected and the anxiety that you suffer from, becomes overwhelming–an everyday affair.

Sharing problems with your close family and friends does help to an extent. But, the best course is to seek professional help. Anxiety can interfere with your everyday life, and can lead to depression, and also an increased risk of suicide.

Before things get completely out of control, approach a psychiatrist who will counsel you in the best possible way, prescribe drugs that will not only help you sleep well, but also help you learn to control the thought processes that lead to anxiety. It could take some time, but it’s all worth it. YOU are worth it!

How I manage my anxieties today:

The meds prescribed by my doctor help me enjoy an uninterrupted sleep and keep me alert to the thoughts that take form in my mind.

Blogging, writing, reading and art have helped me stay afloat. My work helps me keep my mind occupied. It’s when I am busy in these activities that my anxieties are at bay.

My pets take care of me at other times. Earlier, when Chikoo was around, he provided the buffer against the stress and the fear. And, now, I have Cookie. She may be a bird, but she is very well attuned to me and my moods. She is the first one to sense my discomfort and perches on my shoulder when she sees me upset. And, for these babies, I will be ever so grateful!

Since the past some months, I have developed a habit of trying to live in the moment; of not thinking about the future or the past, but only the present. Practising mindfulness helps, but It’s not easy, really. It’s an everyday habit one needs to work on, consistently.

Gratitude helps, too. Ending the day by thanking all that the Universe brings for me; for all the things that work out, as well as all that don’t and the lessons that I learn from them all, further helps calm the mind.

Living every day as if it were my last and doing my best in everything I do also helps me reduce the amount of anxiety that still lurks around the corner, threatening to takeover my mind.

Listening to music, yoga, walking and chatting with my nephew helps me keep my mind busy. Focusing on my breath while doing my asanas helps me learn to concentrate, as does drawing complicated mandalas.

It’s so necessary that we find the activity that not only keeps us busy and our mind occupied, but also one that enriches us, refreshes us and calms our nerves. Something that acts like the lighthouse that guides you to safety.

Anxiety disorders, if left untreated, can take a toll on our entire system, so it’s better to seek help. Sooner, the better. Our mental health is at stake, and if our mind isn’t healthy, how can we live a healthy, happy life?

Dear reader, if you, or a loved one, suffers from extreme anxiety, or has been suffering from anxiety since some time now, please, seek help. Remember, there is no health without mental health.

Love,

SHILPA…

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Anxiety, if ignored, can ruin our mental health in the long run. Seek help, today!