Power of Music

Music has surrounded me in every aspect of life ever since I was a baby. To my mother’s singing, to our car radio tuned into trans-am Radio, to my music players over the years plugged into my ears. I could go on, but you get the point. I always listened for fun, but when my dark days came around, I started to use it to help with the various emotions I would feel: rage, loneliness, love, etc. I love the power that music has to aid my stress and anxiety, but it’s also a great portal to relieve any other loud or angry feelings that can come to us. Personally, it makes me feel less alone when I connect to the lyrics that the band was trying to convey.

When I get too anxious/stressed, there are a couple of things that I like to listen to,

  • The App “Calm” has helped with guided meditations and deep breathing exercises, but what I love most about this app is the background noises that you can choose from in the main screen: Serene Lakes (two) and Rainforest. I love being surrounded by nature sounds.
  • Matching my symptoms to the rhythm/tempo of songs almost validates what I feel, for example:

    Feeling anxious because no one understands me:
    Alice Merton – No Roots

    Feeling angry over things that happen in our society/culture
    Marilyn Manson – Beautiful People

    Feeling lost when someone leaves your life
    Fleetwood Mac – The Chain

  • Classical Movie Scores/Soundtracks when I find the time for a relaxation bath. Sometimes I need something without lyrics to melt all the nonsense that’s floating through my brain.

    Check out “Epic Film Scores” through Google Play

Music is magical to me; not only is it universal, and it helps us cope when we need it the most – it activates our entire brain, creating the potential to improve our feelings.

I love listening to music as a stress reliever, and I always recommend to do it when you’re doing things in the background, like driving (especially when you’re alone and can BELT out the lyrics!) and cleaning house. Dancing around my kitchen is the only exercise I can do nowadays! Whether you decide to listen or create, make sure that music is a part of your life so you can start seeing the benefits it has towards your physical and emotional health.

Pregnancy and Anxiety: Second Trimester

I can’t believe I’m at the end of my second trimester. These months seem to have flown by compared to my first trimester even though I was still going through some significant symptoms. The biggest being my mood swings – oh boy, they have come full frontal in these months. Trying to calm myself down during these swings has been nothing but challenging, but the worst was when my husband went out of town to work for several days. I was utterly overwhelmed by everything in general; housekeeping, cooking, etc. I didn’t realize how much I relied on secondary help until it was no longer available for me – I cried, panicked and did something I usually didn’t do. I reached out to numerous friends, telling them “I’m not OK.” I didn’t bother going into more detail than that because I couldn’t even put into words what was going through my head. I’m lucky that a friend who lives close by decided to drop in to check up on me – even though it was a short visit, I was able to put into words how anxious I was and immediately felt a weight lift off of me.

A sense of community during pregnancy is KEY to surviving any turmoil

Healthwise, I’ve been gaining weight appropriately and eating everything in sight. I still get some morning sickness (once or twice a month), but this is considered normal even though I could happily do without it. My cravings have been interesting, nothing out of the blue per se but I have noticed the types of food I’m craving all come from my childhood: PB&J, Kraft Dinner, Cinnamon Rolls (Just to name a few!) I am loading up on everything carb and not regretting a single bite. Curious to know if there’s any correlation or connection with childhood foods and pregnancy!

Unfortunately, the bigger I get, the more uncomfortable I am. Aside from the daily ligament & back pains, little Spawn is moving at a gargantuan rate, and my sleeplessness has come back. Even though I know it’s due to the pregnancy my anxious mind likes to set up camp during these times. I’m overthinking everything and lucky if I get 6 hours during a work week. Kudos to all women who still work full-time while pregnant! I feel as if I’m struggling most days to be present. My exhaustion has improved vastly from my last post but it’s still here, and I still hate it. I try to push through it the majority of the time, but there are certain days when I just sit on my couch for hours, watching terrible Hallmark movies and hoping a fairy will come by to do my dishes.

I finally had my first OB appointment this month; I was so nervous on meeting my new Doctor since I haven’t had the best track record with them in the past, but I was pleasantly surprised! She’s down to earth and offered me a lot of mental health support pamphlets once I told her about my G.A.D. – she was just as concerned as I was about delivery and post-partum which made me feel relieved that it’s just not in my mind. I honestly feel as if I’m in good hands, even though my mind will be racing for the next three months regardless.

I’ll try to give another update before little Spawn arrives but who knows when this one will want to make a grand entrance – expected due date is August 14th!

How to love yourself again

One of the hardest things that I’ve ever done was loving myself again after many narcissist relationships. It wasn’t an easy feat either; I had no memo, no guidelines, no one to ask where to start. There was one thing that I did know, that I couldn’t move forward in life without starting somewhere.

My first step was getting a new apartment, all by myself. I never lived on my own before, and I was petrified. I was fresh out of a failed relationship which I should have left years ago, and every night I succumbed to crying nightly, feeling sorry for myself. I knew if I continued on this path that I would go back to the same old Andrea, and to completely heal myself from this I had to start fresh and become the person that I so longed to be.

I spent many nights trying to figure out what I wanted, and it was gut-wrenching & hard but precisely what I needed. I came face to face with my failures over again and the heartaches that crept in deep within. I was starting to be honest with myself for the first time in years, and there were truths that I had buried that finally came forth. I had no idea that healing myself meant going through every emotion that I tried to hide because I wasn’t comfortable with it. Once I started to accept everything that happened to me – every decision that I ever made – I began to live my life finally.

I know how hard it is to work on yourself, I’ve been there, and I’m still learning.

What I would love to give to you is at least some guidelines on how to start down this path so you can try your hardest to be the person you WANT to be.

  1. Stop worrying so much what others think or say about you. Remember, this is YOUR life – you are not living for others. Also, fuck Gossip: a negative mind will never give you a positive life.
  2. No matter how hard you try – you can’t be right all the time. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you can move forward.
  3. There is no such thing as “Perfect,” especially when it comes to our bodies. Accept your flaws and try to learn how to love your body – Do not accept the marketing lies as your standard.
  4. Whatever happened in the past is where it will stay, you cannot change it and wasting your time thinking/stressing over it will not help in the slightest. Also don’t stress over the “What-ifs,” just because it could have been different doesn’t mean it would have been better.
  5. Don’t regret what has happened. Learn to accept that what you did was YOUR decision and take accountability for it.
  6. Set boundaries with those who surround you, you’ll quickly find those toxic people that you need to remove from your life and PLEASE do so.
  7. Don’t be afraid to fail, this is all apart of your learning process, and everyone goes through this at some point or another. Pick yourself up and “just keep swimming!”.
  8. There will always be people who will have “more” than what you do. A better job, house, etc. Don’t let this be intimidating to you – appreciate and take care of what you DO have. Don’t care about material possessions so much; it doesn’t guarantee happiness – building a memorable life does.
  9. No matter how hard you try, you will never be able to satisfy everyone out there so stop putting all of your energy into those who don’t understand you.
  10. OWN it. Embrace your weird & flaws, show the world that you’re not afraid to be yourself. You will find your tribe and support system when you start to glow

Anxiety and Medication

Ever since I’ve been a kid, I’ve always tried to solve my medical issues holistically. Even though I grew up in a household where medication wasn’t taboo, we still relied on natural remedies to take care of colds and other ailments that could easily be treated without drugs.

When I started to discuss strategies to cope with my anxiety with my doctor, he first brought up pills, and I was so hesitant. I reluctantly agreed, hoping that I could get some fast relief from my symptoms. Although I do have to admit, a nagging in the back of mind kept surfacing saying “you don’t need medication” which seemed to echo throughout society.

I remember how sluggish I felt for the first two weeks trying to adapt to my new body. I did not feel myself and couldn’t grasp the necessary information that was being thrown at me. I got frustrated that the pills weren’t helping me immediately and went back to my doctor a month later telling him this was not the right plan for me. I was then given some Ativan for the time being and was told to take it when needed. Not having a daily pill to pop made me feel a little better and I started to slowly to feel like myself again as the other medication left my body.

Since Ativan was only a go-between, I started to research other remedies and came across several articles outlining the gains of CBD. This avenue seemed to be more realistic for me but there was still some stigma on medical marijuana in Canada, so it took me a while to bring this up with my Doctor. Luckily, my Doctor was very understanding and agreed with CBD usage for my anxiety – He wrote me a recommendation, and within the week I was in another Doctor’s office going over Paranoia and Anxiety.  I was worried that I wouldn’t be eligible to get that prescription, but those worries were short-lived as I walked away with a monthly dosage and membership to a local medical shop.

My new medication stopped a lot of things for me that I didn’t want. The busy maze that was my mind seemed to dissipate, my anger and frustrations mellowed out, and the thought that I was worthless seemed non-existent. I couldn’t believe that a little plant that had such a stigma around it was HELPING me. My immediate impressions of shame and weakness slowly were thrown out the window, and I felt as if I was my true self once again. It was a great feeling, and those who would try to put me down for going this route didn’t last too long in my life.

I am a firm believer in CBD, but that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone – just like a pill. If you tell me that you would never take medication or medical marijuana, then I’m happy that you feel that way. If you tell me that snake oil had worked wonders for you, then kudos!
What you do need to realize is that my brain does not function the same way as yours and I do need medication, so kindly be okay with just knowing that and don’t tell me that you’re offended with my choices.

 

For more information on CBD, Anxiety and Paranoia check out Sunday Scaries

How Stress Affects Your Body & Mind

Have you ever been so stressed that your body has just given up on you?

There are times when I try to push through discomfort and stress, but sometimes that ends up making me sicker in the end. Trying to pinpoint why I’ve been overly stressed is a little hard, but I think I’m angry at myself for not recovering fully from my last car accident. Due to this, I’ve been battling the flu/cold for a little over a week now, and I’m just thankful that I didn’t end up missing more work than I needed to (sometimes, I’m not that lucky!)

I forget that taking care of yourself means that you also need to look after your physical health, too.
When I went back into Physiotherapy, I was initially told that my lower back pains weren’t as bad as I thought. I was a little concerned as the pain was consistent and didn’t seem related to my pregnancy in the slightest. When I went to their Massage Therapist for a consultation weeks later, I found out that my ribs were out of place and since I was pregnant, we would have to split the treatments in two. He worked on my left-hand side first and not only did my lower back pain almost dissipate, but I was able to take deep breaths again.

I couldn’t believe it. A month of worrying and overthinking that my back pains would never subside, I was on the right track. My anxiety did not help my physical health – I need to remember how highly intertwined both our physical and mental health is.
I was feeling inadequate over not being able to do basic activities, and this caused my stress levels to skyrocket, not to mention interrupt my sleep patterns. I wish I had a button that I could switch off during these times.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, Canadians who report mental health symptoms can experience three times as many chronic physical conditions compared to the general population

signs-of-stress-on-the-body

People tend to brush stress aside, but we need to look at it more seriously. Think of it like a see-saw; if we don’t have a handle on our physical health, our mental health will suffer and vice versa.
We aren’t always aware of what we’re going through or even open up to others about our struggles. It takes a lot of strength to be open and honest that you need help or support (and arguably the most difficult step) but the sooner help can be provided, the more likely you will experience benefits of treatment (whether it be physiotherapy or therapy!)

Check out my friend's blog "Work Out, Feel Good" 

Not sure if you want kids?

I’m a firm believer that if you have already decided if you want kids (or not), you’ve already made up your mind, and it will not change in the future.

I had a recent conversation with my sister about this because years ago I was under the impression that I could not have kids naturally. Even though the weight of that news was crushing for me to hear at the age of 22, I tried to go on with my life the best way that I knew how. For years I acted selfishly without a thought of alternatives, I was with my ex-boyfriend at the time and convinced myself that if I could not have them naturally, then I did not want them at all. I already knew that I was lying to myself, but this was how I coped.
The thought of a family has always been in the back of mind, ever since I was a kid. I remember during my childhood playing “house” with my friend and talking about our futures; always with marriage and kids. Poking at my adopted family for another sibling so I could help take care of him/her. Leaving my toxic atmosphere at 18 with a repeat to myself “When you have kids, you’ll show them what love is.”
It wasn’t until I broke it off with my ex at 25 that I started to think more deeply into my need for a family.

Luckily for me, the majority of my issues stemmed from my ex-boyfriend so when I changed doctors and had a proper physical a year later, my concerns were nearly half gone. I reiterated what was told to me from my previous doctor and relayed medical history – He said that I could go through testing, but since I wasn’t planning on starting a family just yet they could wait. During these years I met my now husband, and I remember having lunch with a close friend of mine explaining how I was back in therapy and maybe starting a family wasn’t really for me. I wasn’t well mentally, and the thought of bringing a little one into this world started to frighten me. I will never forget her question; “Well, do you WANT to want kids?” Without a pause, I immediately said yes. I’ve always known that I wanted kids; I just kept telling myself I should not due to the obstacles that I was facing.

Working on myself was the best thing that I did, and I’m not ashamed that I was selfish for the latter years of my twenties. I needed those years to get better and confirm that I did want to be a mother. When I turned 30 and married my husband, we started the process of discussing (& testing) what our options would be. These years were gruelling and hard on the both of us, we had many discussions that almost tore us apart, but we stuck it through. When I got pregnant in November of 2018, a huge smile formed across my face. I’ve been pregnant before; this wasn’t the first test that I’ve done – the only difference was my reaction. I didn’t tell anyone immediately in fear of miscarrying again but once those weeks past, all I wanted to do was shout it from my rooftop. Even though I was still scared as I was back then, I was also hopeful, happy and excited.

So, when my sister asked how my mind has changed over the years, I tell her that it honestly didn’t; it just went on a crazy path. If you know deep down that children aren’t for you – if you’ve never fantasized about being a mother, chances are your thoughts won’t change and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Becoming a mother is going to be one of the most challenging things that I will ever go through, and I’m welcoming this crazy with open arms. Motherhood is not for everyone so don’t let others guilt you into thinking that you’re selfish for not wanting them. Stand firm in your opinion and choice.

Advice Column

I’ve been toying with the idea to start up an advice column for those that would like to reach out anonymously. I understand that there is still a huge stigma around mental health, and there are some people who are uncomfortable to reach out directly for any advice.

I would love to start this monthly, but I would love to hear from YOU!

If you’re at all interested, please don’t hesitate to contact me via my website