I usually have a hard time falling asleep. Even when I’m exhausted, my anxiety seems to thrive during the night, and it can take me hours to just doze off.

I’ve started to become more conscious of my body while I’m lying down. A lot of my limbs are stiff, clenched hands, crooked neck, etc.
I started to do a big stretch while I’m in bed to help loosen me up, but the real culprit here is my hands/wrists.
When my anxiety washes over, my hands can be found in awkward positions, so I’ve started to lay them flat by my side (or on my stomach) while controlling my breathing.
This act alone has been making me fall asleep almost instantly; I couldn’t believe it.

However, when the anxiety is a little too much some nights, I rely on “Sleep Stories.”

I listen to these through the Calm app, but you can easily find some free ones online.
I find some can be hit or miss, especially the voices of the actors, but with the few that DO help (and are saved in my favourite) they are AH-mazing

Here’s a link to a free one from one of my favourites, Erik Braa – I could seriously listen to him all night

If you do suffer from sleeping disorders, unfortunately, I don’t think my suggestions would help, but it doesn’t hurt to try! When worst comes to worst, I rely on Zzzquil, which is medicinal. There is no shame in needing medication to help you fall asleep

Why is sleep so important?
It helps with your optimal health: concentration, productivity, emotions and social interactions.
Having a poor sleep can affect your weight, immune system and overall mental health.
It might be hard to practice in the middle of a pandemic, but I urge you to try and get in a better routine. Remember, our mental health during this phase is extremely important and we’re all in this together

How to make sure your Therapist or Psychiatrist is a right fit for you

I recently went to see a new psychiatrist. I’m not always keen on seeing someone new, as it usually takes a lot out of me going over what has happened in my past. Even though I don’t feel those emotions today, reliving them bubbles up how I used to feel, and I generally become overwhelmed with emotion and completely drained. I initially put in a referral for this psychiatrist when I was 6 months pregnant and feeling incredibly low. Unfortunately, the earliest appointment that I could get was the last week of October, almost three months postpartum.

Why haven’t you seen me sooner?” was her first question, and I scoffed. I reiterated that I have been trying to nail down an appointment every time I saw my general practitioner and my OB, but no one from her office contacted me. She apologized and said referrals get lost, but I brought along a note from her office, dated in June. I knew it wasn’t lost, but I was waiting for my turn, getting a free service in Canada has its downfalls.

After 40 minutes of talking to her and putting my heart out on the line, she was quick to judge that I was misdiagnosed years ago, and I may be bipolar. She rushed through different dates to come back, what type of things I should expect from the next appointments and briefly touched on medications. I left the office feeling deflated and cried my way to McDonald’s, where I ate my feelings.
After discussing it with my husband and some family, I figured out the reason I was crying was not due to a misdiagnosis but due to her lack of empathy and arrogance over knowing me after 40 minutes. When I talked to my friend (who I know was diagnosed bipolar years ago), she mentioned I should go to CAMH  – Center for Addiction and Mental Health – for a second opinion. After my appointments in November, I will. I don’t agree entirely with her on this quick diagnosis, and if I am genuinely bipolar, I would preferably someone there give it to me straight.

I’ve been festering with this information for a week now, and it made me think of all the times that I went to seek out professional help and how upset I was at not finding the right person for me. It took me over 5 years to find my last therapist!

After talking with some friends and going through my own history, I’ve made a list of reasons why we stopped or changed our therapists/psychiatrists:

  1. They try to push their values onto you or sell things, like herbal remedies.
  2. They get upset when you don’t take their advice as if you’re personally attacking them.
  3. They keep agreeing with every word your saying and not giving you constructive criticism or being objective. Good ones will call you out and hold you accountable for your actions
  4. They call you by the wrong name. (This has happened to me, and I lost all faith in her)
  5. They’re barely attentive and/or keep yawning during your sessions (or even attempt to fall asleep!)
  6. They believe that all of your struggles are due to your sexual orientation
  7. They’re affectionate and want to end sessions with a hug. This is a HUGE red flag. I don’t even shake hands with any practitioners – this is just my general rule and should be there’s too.
  8. They’re too cold/impersonal. A good doctor will provide an empathetic environment
  9. You feel like you’re not progressing. It’s important to establish measurable goals!
  10. They disclose private information to others, including people you know who see the same therapist (IE Family Members or other Doctors)

Even though I’m unsure if she’s the right fit for me, I will still go to those appointments in November. I have no problem revisiting my old trauma and going over my behavioural patterns; I would just rather fully immerse myself in a doctor I know I can see for an extended period. If I am not fully satisfied by the end, I will definitely put in a call to CAMH and get a second opinion.

If you happen to go through any of those issues listed above, I do recommend seeing a new therapist. Just remember, if you do feel stuck in divulging your past or present, changing a doctor will not likely help. Reliving things are uncomfortable and can hurt in many ways, but it’s the only way you can potentially move forward and heal yourself.

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