Daily Self-Care Ideas [Mental Health Monday]

Everyone needs a break. We all need downtime. This isn’t just on the weekends, either. This is something we should be doing every day, even if it’s only one thing for an hour or so.

Mental Health Monday: Daily Self Care Ideas | Self-Care | Mental Health | Mental Health Matters | RachelPoli.com

Call a friend

I have to admit, I’m not the most social person there is. I’ve been more social in the past year or so than I’ve ever been, ironically enough. This is a good thing, of course, but there are times when we don’t want to socialize. We love our friends and family but we’d rather stay home in our pajamas, shutting out the rest of the world. This is okay too, once in a while.

However, something to do on a daily basis is to call a friend or family member, even if the conversation is only ten minutes. Check-in with them, let them check in with you. Let them know you’re thinking about them and you miss them.

Do not text them, either. Call them on the phone or FaceTime them. I personally hate talking on the phone, but you’ll feel better after hearing their voice or seeing their face.

Read a book

As a book reviewer, I’m always needing to read books. I’m always getting review requests from authors. I enjoy this and I love reading, so there’s no complaining about it over here.

However, sometimes you need to sit down and read a book you want to read. Don’t read something because you’re aiming to write a review on it for the blog. Don’t do it because an author is waiting for you to get through it. Read something that’s been on your TBR list for a while.

Of course, I try to review every book I read whether an author inquired about it or not, but when you’re reading something you picked up for yourself, try not to think about it. Just sit back and enjoy it.

Make a list

I don’t know about you, but I love making lists. It helps me feel organized and that calms me down. I make a list for everything – I have daily to-do lists, weekly to-do lists, and monthly to-do lists. I create a list of tasks for my jobs, a list of events I need to remember for the month and so on.

What I don’t make lists of often enough are positive ones. This is especially good to do when you’re having a rough day. Sit down and make a list of things you’re happy about. List the things you’re grateful for. List the things you love. List positive traits about yourself. List goals or make a bucket list.

Journal

This is a great place to store those positive affirmation lists you create. On the other hand, a journal is a great way to keep track of your good days as well as the bad ones.

Write down something that upset you and turn your thinking around to put a positive spin on it or things you can do to let it go.

Write down something good that happened to you to preserve the memory. Allow it to be something positive for you to look back on when you’re having a rough day.

Listen to music

Sometimes we just need to sit down and listen to some music. I personally love classical and instrumental songs. Those can be, for the most part, calming in themselves. However, if you prefer something more upbeat and hardcore, that’s fine too.

Take the time to put on some headphones, lay down, and listen to a couple of your favorite songs. This will allow you some alone time, decompress from the day, and meditate for a bit.

Color

I don’t know what it is about coloring, but it is so relaxing. Take a coloring book and work on a page or two. Alternatively, you can break out all the arts and crafts supplies you have and create something from scratch.

Whether you do it alone or you have a friend beside you, it’s a lot of fun, relaxing, and carries your worries away.

Take a bath

Throw in a bath bomb or bubble bath, light a candle, and soak in some warm water. Put on some light music or read a book, but soaking in a warm tub is one of the more glorious things ever. At least, in my opinion, it is.

I’ll admit, I don’t take baths in the summer (because who wants to sit in a cold tub regardless of the temperature outside)? Still, it’s a great thing to do when you have the winter blues or you just need some time alone.

Alternatively, you can sit in the shower for a long period of time as well. But the hot water will run out and that’s a sad thing, indeed.

Take a walk

If it’s a nice day outside, you might as well go for a walk and soak up some sunshine. A little exercise does everyone good. The vitamin D will help as well. You’ll feel better after getting up and moving for a bit.

On the flip side if the weather is lousy or it’s too cold, get up a move a bit in your house. You don’t need to have an in-home gym or exercise equipment. Just do some stretches or yoga. Not only does it keep your body in shape but it also takes your mind off some things.

Watch a movie

Put a movie you haven’t seen in a while. Watch one of your favorites. Watch something that makes you laugh. Or, put on something that will make you cry (sometimes you just get in that mood to have a good cry).

For me? I normally put on the Harry Potter movies. I always cry in movies six, seven, and eight. I laugh during every single one. It’s great storytelling with wonderful characters and actors. Plus, it’s just something familiar and makes me feel at home and at peace, despite them preparing for war.

Unplug

This is the most important one. Turn off your phone. Don’t watch the news. Stop checking your email. Don’t refresh any of your social media accounts. If you need to talk to someone, don’t text – call. If you’re going to read a book, pick up a paperback or hardcover. Give your eyes a break from the screen. If you’re home with family, get out a deck of cards or play a board game.

The possibilities of not having a screen in front of you are endless. Your brain and eyes will thank you for it later.

Take care of yourselves.

Blog Signature | RachelPoli.com

Podcast | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double Jump

What Is Dysthymia? [Mental Health Monday]

In January 2010, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Ten years later, in January 2020, another diagnosis was added to my list: Dysthymia.

Mental Health Monday: What is Dysthymia? | Mental Health Matters | Mental Health | Depression | Dysthymia | Self-Care | RachelPoli.com

When I left my doctor’s appointment last January, I checked my updated chart and noticed a new diagnosis. My appointment was a routine check-up but I also wanted to touch upon my mental health.

Since being diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder in 2010, I never understood it. I didn’t take the time to learn about it, to learn about myself. I thought a diagnosis meant something was wrong with me. There’s no “cure” for such a thing, but I wondered how I could “fix” myself. It was until 2018 or so that I started to dive into researching this mental illness. I started to understand the way I think and why I think that way. I read stories from other people with similar problems and it was nice to see I’m not the only person who would react in such a way during a certain situation.

2019 was rough

This is no secret. I probably complained about 2019 as a whole, countless times – to friends and family, on the internet in live streams, social media or blog posts, and more. It was a weird year where a lot of things happened and my mental health wasn’t great on top of it. What bothered me the most was that I didn’t know what was causing my dip in mental health.

Was it because of all the hardships that 2019 brought with it? Was it my anxiety finding a new way to present itself? I wasn’t sure, but I was sad. All the time.

I still worked (for the most part – some things fell to the wayside, like this blog), I still went out with friends and family. Deep down, I was sad and moody though. Some days there was a reason for feeling like this and other times, there wasn’t. On most days it didn’t matter how I felt, I was tired. I was beyond drained all the time.

Anxiety does this to you but I had never felt like this before. I wasn’t sure if it was my anxiety getting worse for some reason so I tried all I could to keep it at bay, dong things I learned from my therapy sessions years ago. I wondered if I needed to go back on medication for my anxiety. I toyed with the idea of going back to therapy. I hoped I could figure it out on my own though.

In the end, I waited for my physical to arrive and I would get my doctor’s opinion.

From April 2019 to January 2020

The end of April was when it started. Each day, I kept thinking it would get better. A lot of real-life things were happening and I figured I was stressed out and my anxiety was having a field day because of it. Some days were better than others, of course. On those better days, I thought I was good and there was a light at the end of the tunnel, but it never lasted too long.

My grandmother was in and out of the hospital from November 2018 to February 2019. My sister had a baby in March 2019, which was great. Then my grandfather was in and out of the hospital from April 2019 all the way until December 2019. As you can tell, 2019 was filled with a lot of hospital visits, a place that already gives me anxiety regardless. So, as you can probably tell, this is why I thought I felt sad and stressed all the time. Things were weird.

I want to take a quick minute to apologize to 2019

I’m going to interrupt myself for a second.

2019 sucked, but I have to admit that I’m grateful now for all those things happening when they did. My grandparents are both home and well (as well as they can be, at least).

I can’t imagine my grandparents and my sister having a baby in 2020 in the middle of the Coronavirus. 2019 took one for the team, I have to say. If my grandparents didn’t have their problems in 2019, they would have had them in 2020.

Due to the virus, I wouldn’t have been able to visit them. My grandfather’s immune system is shot and my grandmother’s fragile. Both of them probably would have caught the virus and not been here with us today.

So, despite my complaining and nasty words to 2019, I’m changing my perspective and apologizing for being rude to 2019. It was rough, but my family got through it, and I’m thanking my lucky stars that it happened then and not now.

I’m lucky enough to save my thoughts and prayers for all those who are being truly effected by the virus right now.

I suspected I had depression

Anyway, I knew anxiety and depression can go hand-in-hand. I wondered if I was depressed (it was a question when I was diagnosed with anxiety ten years ago) but some part of me didn’t think that was the case. 2019 had a lot going on. (There’s more to it than what just happened with my family, but I’m not going into the other details.)

When I talked to my doctor, he mentioned Seasonal Affective Disorder – which is something else I’ve noticed about myself. I tend to get down more so in the winter months than any other time. However, since this was going on for nearly a year and it started in spring, he was hesitant about it.

Dysthymia was the conclusion

We had a good discussion and, honestly, I’ve felt better since talking to him. I still have my days, of course, but the sadness wasn’t as prominent once I officially was diagnosed.

Of course, I looked at my chart and noticed “Dysthymia” was listed. I didn’t even know how to pronounce it – my doctor never mentioned it. I Googled it when I got home and, according to Google, Dysthymia is “persistent mild depression.”

So, there we have it. After ten years, ironically to the month, I have a type of depression. After ten years, my suspicions about myself were right.

I knew there were different types of anxiety but when I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, I hadn’t heard that specific type before. Dysthymia is the same way. I know there are different types of depression but dysthymia is not something I’ve ever heard of.

What a decade

While so many people were looking back at their decades from 2009 through 2019, during the month of January 2020, I looked back at my mental health from the last decade. I feel like I was just beginning to make strides and truly understand generalized anxiety disorder and myself. Now I feel like I’m going back to the drawing board.

This isn’t a bad thing – it’s who I am, it’s the cards I was dealt. I’m older and have a clearer head on my shoulders now at the age of 26 rather than when I was 16. I won’t shove my diagnosis aside and try to be “better.” I won’t wait eight or nine years to learn more about my mental illness and myself. Yet, while I feel a little better having an official diagnosis, I feel sort of bad at the same time. I thought I was doing great and, while I suspected this for a while, it seemed to have come out of nowhere.

But I’m okay and I’ll figure it out.

Mental Health Monday

This is another reason why I decided to turn Mental Health Monday into a weekly feature instead of monthly. I want to learn more about my mental illnesses. I want to learn more about myself.

I know I’m not the only person dealing with mental illness. I know I’m not the only person who’s trying to figure things out. I know I’m not the only person who is confused by their diagnosis. I know I’m not the only person who hates their mental illness one day and then is at peace with it and accepts it the next day.

I know I’m not the only person who sometimes feels I’m the only one in the entire world with generalized anxiety disorder and dysthymia.

Let’s learn about it together.

Let’s cope together.

Let’s talk about it.

Take care of yourself.

Blog Signature | RachelPoli.com

Podcast | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double Jump

Pace Yourself [Mental Health Monday]

Something that has always been hard for me is pacing myself when it comes to work, family, friends, and life in general. I’ve always had a hard time relaxing and this particular situation with COVID-19 has ironically helped me to slow down a bit.

Mental Health Monday: Pace Yourself | Self-Care | Mental Health Matters | Mental Health | RachelPoli.com

My old routine

It took me a long time to get into a routine with running a blog. Between creating content, adding images, social media marketing, engaging on social media and the comments, and everything in between, finding that right routine for it all was hard. There are only so many hours in each day.

I used to work on one project each day. For example, Sundays are for my Double Jump blog while Mondays were for this blog. The other days of the week had a specific project assigned to them as well. This worked for a little bit but it slowly tapered off. Once I checked something off my to-do list, it seemed I had added another three tasks to it.

Before I knew it, I was stressed and overwhelmed trying to get so many things done in one day. On top of that, I had to nanny in the afternoon, I’d get emails from my church of things to do there as well, plus other last-minute tasks that would worm their way onto my daily list.

How this lockdown has helped

I’ve fortunate I’m not sick and I don’t know anyone who is sick. I know people whose immune system is compromised (such as myself) and I have grandparents whose immune systems are shot. I know what it feels like to be scared that something may happen and we’re all doing the best we can to stay home and distance ourselves from friends and family. It’s hard, but it’s for the best.

I thank my lucky stars each day that I’m healthy and everyone I know is healthy. I pray for the people who have been affected by this virus physically and mentally and for those who know others who have been affected by this virus. It’s a terrible thing and we all need to do our best to stick together, do the right thing, and be kind to one another.

In a weird way, I feel as though this stay-at-home order is forcing me to slow down. The circumstances are weird and not good, but it’s allowed me to take some time to really look at my daily routines and figure out that I need some changes.

My workdays before quarantine 

I normally wake up early and jump into work right away (after grabbing a cup of coffee, of course). This work is blogging, writing, freelancing, business, book reviews, church stuff, anything and everything. Because I nanny in the afternoon, I cram it all in within five to six hours before leaving to get the kids from school. Then by the time I get home, it’s dinner, shower, and just about bedtime because I’m exhausted from the day.

Now that everything has been canceled and closed, I don’t need to nanny in the afternoons. Both parents are home so the kids and I FaceTime once in a while to keep in touch but that’s about it until this is over. I miss them and I miss the routine of going out every afternoon, but I now have four to five hours added back to my weekdays. For the time being, I no longer need to compress all my work into a few hours. I can stretch it the whole day.

The first week was rough

I didn’t know how the handle everything the first week. I buried myself in video games and ignored the outside world all the while constantly refreshing the news and getting mad at myself for it getting more and more stressed and scared. I got no work done so, on the second week, I knew I needed to do something. I needed to ease myself back into my routine, even though it was going to be a different routine.

I no longer needed to nanny in the afternoon. I no longer had to worry about church. (I’m still working for church, but I don’t need to worry about my Sunday school lessons at least). I work from home anyway, but now my mother was home. My sister was home every other day. My dad, unfortunately, still needs to go into work every day. My family is fine and they don’t bother me while I work, but it’s still odd to have them home anyway, especially when I’m on video calls or live streaming.

I needed to ease back into it

In between the news and getting used to being stuck inside the house all day with my family who are supposed to be at work, I realized I needed to ease myself back into working and also to find a new routine, even if it’s a temporary one. Well, this “temporary” routine seems to be working great for me.

Not only am I feeling productive throughout the day but I’m also finishing with enough time left over at the end of the night to play games with my family, watch a movie, have some “me” time, or chill with a video game or a book. The way I’ve changed my routine is the simplest thing too.

Pacing myself

I work on a lot of different things. I run two blogs, started a podcast, I live stream, I work at my church, I have my creative writing, do freelance work, and so much more. This is why I originally decided to dedicate one day to each thing, but that’s obviously didn’t work. The to-do list for each project is miles long and it’s so hard to get it all done within one day or even just a week or month.

I started looking at all the tasks I needed to do for each project and prioritized them. I started doing one task from each list every day. For example, I write one blog post for here a day. I write one blog post for Double Jump. Soon, I create a backlog of posts so if I ever need to skip a blog post for a day, that’s okay.

There are some projects that I don’t work on every day. There are some projects I do multiple tasks for each day depending on when they’re due and/or how time-consuming the are.

I don’t know why I haven’t done this before. Doing one task for each category has, somehow, allowed me to get so much more done during the day. I’m even back into my routine of working on my novels daily. (That’s also a huge thanks to Camp NaNoWriMo but it’ll keep going through May and beyond… I assume it will, anyway.)

Pacing yourself is so important

I rambled a bit in this post and I didn’t mean to. I mostly meant to discuss the importance of pacing yourself and what I’m doing. I threw so much backstory in there, but… this isn’t a novel. I’m not editing it out. If you read it, good for you. Thanks. If you skimmed and skipped to this part, good for you too.

We all need to work so we can make money and survive in this weird world. However, in order to work smart we need to take care of ourselves. That includes getting a good night’s sleep, eating healthy, getting a decent amount of exercise… but it also means taking care of your brain. You can’t expect yourself to work on everything at once and do it all in one day.

I don’t know why I always thought I could. I’ve been finishing my day around dinner time if not before. It’s been a normal work day for people with day jobs. I start between six and seven in the morning and I’m done around three or four in the afternoon. It’s a great feeling. I’m less stressed about my work because I feel like I’m making progress on everything throughout the day. Not to mention I’m able to spend more time with my family and have some downtime to relax, something I rarely do.

My sleep schedule is still off (it always is) but I feel somewhat refreshed each day. There have been days where I’ve worked so much that the next morning, my brain doesn’t want to do anything. It doesn’t matter if I slept well or not, I overworked it the day before and it still wasn’t ready to get back into it. Now I’m able to wake up and keep that timely routine of getting my work done in a good time.

Take this time to take care of yourself

Some of us are stuck at home. Some of us are still working. Some are taking care of others, some are worried about their family and friends. The best thing we can do right now is to adjust to this new (but temporary) “normal.” A great way to do that is to find a good routine to keep things as normal as possible but pace yourself in doing so. Take the time to hang out with your family and enjoy the nicer weather.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go practice what I preach.

Take care of yourselves.

Blog Signature | RachelPoli.com

Podcast | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double Jump

Checking In [Mental Health Monday]

It’s been a hot minute since we’ve had a Mental Health Monday. A lot of things have changed within the past couple of months and, instead of writing an article about mental health, I figured we can use this time as a check-in.

Mental Health Monday: Checking In | Mental Health | Mental Health Matters | Self-Care | RachelPoli.com

What’s going on with me

It’s no secret I’ve been in hiding the past year or so. I felt awful putting my blog on hiatus but there was no sense in me continuing to write blog posts when I had no ideas, no motivation, and no means to interact in the comments. Everything felt like a chore. I’ve missed you guys and I mean no offense to anyone who reads and supports my work, but it was hard to keep up with it all for a while.

I tried to come back a couple of times, but those times only resulted in me writing a, “I’m Back!” post and then disappearing for another month or two. I eventually decided to save it for January – new month, new year, a new decade. Makes sense, right?

Except life doesn’t exactly take into account the date. If you’re having a rough time, it’s not all going to go away simply because a month or the year has come to an end. What you put off today will still be there tomorrow. Bottled up feelings and energy will be there when you wake up the next morning.

It’s easy to say, “There are three days left of the month and it’s been a wash. Let me make plans for the following month and I’ll start fresh on the first.”

Honestly, this works sometimes. But a lot can happen in those three days whether you decide to start early or wait to begin that list. If you wait, something else might come up and you’ll find yourself saying the same thing a month from now.

I worked on stuff. I did things behind the scenes to prep the blog and my other creative projects for 2020. When 2020 came, I wasn’t ready to get back into it. There was still behind-the-scenes work to be done and I continued that instead.

Back to blogging

They always say it’s hard to get back into the swing of things after a long hiatus. For example, if you’re sick and need to miss school for a week. It’s so hard to go back the following Monday morning. Your classmates bombard you with questions, you have a ton of make-up work to do, and you need to get back into your routine of waking up early and doing homework in the afternoons.

I think that was partly my feeling when I thought of blogging again. I wasn’t ready to commit to a daily schedule again. Between brainstorming content, writing the content, creating graphics, social media scheduling, reading and replying to comments, and everything in between on top of all my other projects.

Needless to say, I changed that. I may still be creating daily content but most of it isn’t something I need to do daily. My social media schedule has lessened. If I skip a day here or there of publishing a blog post, then so be it. I won’t beat myself up over it.

Weekly Mental Health Monday

With all that said, Mental Health Monday is now a weekly feature on the blog instead of monthly. It sounds backward considering I said I was going to lessen my content and I’m moving a monthly feature to weekly, but I think this is needed.

Not just for me, but for you guys as well.

What’s happening with the world

Aside from it being hard to get back into the swing of things in January, something else happened that month (which I’ll speak about in a separate Mental Health Monday post soon – nothing too alarming, everything is okay) and also COVID-19 took over the world.

By the time the virus got to where I live, it was late February/early March. (I think. I’ve lost track of all days at this point.) The news constantly updates. Something is changing every moment of every day. It’s hard to keep track of it all and yet, there are days when I try not to keep track of it all. When this all started I found myself constantly refreshing Twitter. Every time the governor was on TV, I sat down and watched or asked my mom for an update.

I never watch the news. The news is depressing and it freaks me out.

Everything has been turned upside. I lost my nannying job since the kids aren’t in school and both parents are now working from home for the time being. I miss the kids, of course, and it is nice to have those extra hours added to my day so I can work on my business and creative projects. However, I’m a freelance writer, I’m in business for myself. I still nanny because it’s a steady stream of income for me and I’ve lost that.

My two closest friends got laid off from their jobs. My mom is home but my sister and dad are considered “essential” workers. Who knows what they’re coming in contact with or what they’re bringing home. Our routines are totally up in the air right now.

We’re lucky enough that no one is sick and we don’t know anyone who is sick, but we’re still staying away from each other as much as possible. My cousins can no longer come over for dinner. My uncle gave my mom flowers the other day but he didn’t come inside the house.

We’re living in weird times. It’s unnerving and it’s sad.

I don’t know how long this is going to last. I do know that even when the virus has had enough, the effects from it will linger on for a while. I hope we’ll be much better, kinder people when this is all over.

Welcome back, Mental Health Monday

With that said, this feature needed to come back. We need to stick together, be kind to one another, and check in on our friends (real-life and internet), family, and neighbors.

I’m thinking the first Mental Health Monday of each month will be a short and sweet check-in post. Similar to this one, but much shorter and less of a rant. (I felt the need to explain myself about where I’ve been and what I want to do with this feature.)

I’d like for everyone to keep in touch and keep each other’s spirits up. I want this all the time too, not just because a virus has been spreading through the world. Hopefully, this will help someone out there.

How are you guys?

So, let’s check in with one another. How are you guys doing? What have you been up to? I hope you’re all safe and healthy. Let me know in the comments below and we’ll catch up. If you need to talk, I’m here.

Take care of yourselves.

Blog Signature | RachelPoli.com

Podcast | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double Jump

Going To The Movies [Mental Health Mondays]

When it comes to anxiety, some triggers for myself are known and some aren’t. Going to the movies is one of those known triggers for me. In fact, movies, in general, can be a trigger for me. However, I finally went to the movie theater for the first time in forever a few months ago.

Mental Health Monday: Going To The Movies | Anxiety | Generalized Anxiety Disorder | Mental Health Matters | RachelPoli.com

Why Movies?

Honestly, I have no idea why movies are a trigger for me. I’m not one for blood and gore and, I think, with the more serious kinds of movies, not knowing what to expect or what will happen throws me off. I used to be able to watch superhero movies like Iron Man with ease and now that kind of stuff bothers me. I still watch them though because I love those movies, but I can only take one or two movies at a time.

I can watch PG-13 movies to a certain point, but I’ve never watched a rated R movie before (not willingly, at least). Needless to say, I can’t and will never do horror. There are exceptions, of course, though when watching a movie for the first time, it can be rough for me.

Why they’re a trigger for me, I don’t know. I think a lot of it stems from school. We’d watch movies that, I personally believe, were not age-appropriate. In ninth grade, my biology teacher gave the substitute a movie for us to watch and it was similar to America’s Funniest Home Videos but it was called That’s Gotta Hurt and was totally bloody and people were getting hurt and screaming. It was not entertaining in the least bit. The sub happened to be the most infamous one among all the students and he refused to let me go to the nurse thinking I was trying to get out of class… because we were totally busy, right?

Long story short, I had an anxiety attack and passed out in front of the class.

More Examples

In eighth grade, we watched a rated R movie about some war and I have certain bloody scenes embedded in my mind.

In fifth grade, we watched Pirates of the Carribean. I love that movie now, but at the time, I was deathly afraid of the pirates and skeletons. I spent that whole time with my eyes closed.

In third grade, that was when 9/11 tragically happened. My teachers were in a panic and, rightfully so, couldn’t focus on work. They brought in the TVs to the classrooms and we watched it all happen on live TV. Their reasoning was that it was “history in the making.” Of course, they didn’t mean that in a good way. I can’t begin to imagine what people went through who were actually present and had loved ones pass away. However, for an eight-year-old watching that live on TV… it was pretty scarring.

Needless to say, whenever I saw a TV in the classroom, I immediately felt anxiety to the point where I would fake being sick or lie to my teachers and tell them my parents didn’t allow me to watch whatever it was we were watching.

I Shied Away From Movies

Throughout the years, I became more and more distant to movies. Cartoon movies and such are totally fine but rated R and some rated PG-13 movies along with live-action or even CGI are tough for me to watch. Despite all that I just said, I still don’t entirely understand why. Again, I think it may be the unknown of what’s going to happen in the movie but I haven’t pinpointed the exact reasoning.

This grew to affect the movie theater as well. I was never one for loud noises, crowds, or the dark – all of which can describe a movie theater. I stopped going to the theater when Fantastic Four came out in 2015. I went with Kris and our friend and I ended up leaving in the middle of the previews. I never went back to the theater after that. Only on the occasion when a new Disney movie came out or something. Then I might go, but I usually waited for the DVD. That way, I could pause and walk away if I needed a break.

Aside from the occasionally Disney movie exception, there was one movie in particular that I was determined to see.

Detective Pikachu

Detective Pikachu came out in May 2019 and I couldn’t resist not seeing it. It’s Pokemon, which I adore, and I’ve been waiting for this movie for so long. CGI and live-action have been daunting to me because there can be some scary or trippy scenes. (And there was.) But, I made it work.

I’ve never forced myself to work on going to the movie theater. One thing I learned from therapy was to pick and choose my battles. School gave me anxiety, but I needed to work through that as it was stopping me from doing something important in my life. Going to the movies is just a fun activity that I could live without. Plus, there are DVDs and streaming. In fact, it saves me money in the long run.

I didn’t want my anxiety to stop me from seeing a Pokemon movie though. It was something I looked forward to for so long. Being in the gaming community, I would have sorely missed out on Twitter conversations talking about the movie. It’s not the same watching it on a DVD for the first time months after everyone has stopped talking about it.

I Was Prepared

We got our tickets early and went opening weekend so we could get the special Detective Pikachu Pokemon cards (another incentive for me to go). So, I knew it was coming for a few weeks. I was mentally preparing myself.

When I go to the movies, I have my worry stone and bring a cold drink and a snack. The food helps me focus on something else if I need a distraction from the big screen in front of me. For Detective Pikachu, I hid an entire bag of cheese pretzels in my backpack – they were so good!

I sat in between Kris and our friend Nickie and we were also in the back, which I prefer if I need to step outside for some air. I also had two other friends with me to cuddle with – Detective Pikachu himself and Psyduck.

Kris and I went to Barnes and Noble a couple of weeks before the movie and I found plush toys from the movie. Psyduck talks and Detective Pikachu, oddly enough, doesn’t. I got both of them though because Psyduck is one of my favorite Pokemon and Detective Pikachu is the title character. ($40 later…)

I had both plushes in my lap throughout the movie (I even brought them into the restaurant with us for dinner before the movie). I had anxiety, yes. That was to be expected. However, when the movie actually started, all of that seemed to go away.

I’m Still Anti-Movie Theaters

After that, I’ve gone back to the theater to see Toy Story 4 and that’s it. I had a good time at Detective Pikachu, but I’m still not thrilled of the idea of going to a movie theater. As fun as seeing Detective Pikachu was, it took a lot out of me. I’m going to continue picking and choosing my battles.

But at least I can say I won that one.

Mental Health Monday: Going To The Movies | Anxiety | Generalized Anxiety Disorder | Mental Health Matters | RachelPoli.com

Can you relate to any of this? What was the last movie you saw at the theater? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around!

Blog Signature | RachelPoli.com

Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double Jump

My Diagnosis Story [Mental Health Monday]

Welcome to another Mental Health Monday. Today, I’m going to talking about when I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Mental Health Monday: My GAD Diagnosis Story | Mental Health | Mental Health Matters | Anxiety | Generalized Anxiety Disorder | Creative Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

Heading To High School

I was never a social butterfly, especially in school. High school was hard. I just wanted to get through each day and make it to the end of the year which would eventually lead to graduation. I felt like I was in a rut – wake up, go to school, do homework, go to bed. I also had a job and babysat in the afternoons as well so there wasn’t a whole lot of room for downtime. But, I much preferred to go to work and babysit than go to school.

I don’t remember middle school being like this. I didn’t really like middle school either, but I had a good group of friends. That group was lost by the time I headed into high school. One friend moved towns so she went to a different high school. Another friend had decided to go to a trade school. One friend stopped talking to me because he deemed himself a “cool high school” kid as he tried to fit in. Another friend did the same – except she didn’t have many other friends. So, as she tried to find her place, she remained “friends” with me. But she wasn’t happy about it.

(There was another friend in the group and she and I are still friends to this day. So something good came out of this.)

Anyway, when I was a freshman my sister was a senior. I often hung out with her and her friends because they were better than hanging out with than people in my class. This particular friend did the same because she thought hanging with seniors made her cool. However, she was going through some difficult times so when my sister and her friends graduated, she was completely lost. So was I, to be honest.

But instead of sticking together, she wanted nothing to do with me… but she still hung around me anyway.

Junior Year

Halfway through my high school career, it was the first day back from winter break (if I remember correctly… it was January, I remember that much). My alarm woke me up and something flipped a switch. I turned off the alarm, rolled over, and went back to sleep. My mom came up to wake me a while later. I told her I wasn’t going to school. She assumed I needed a mental health day and let me skip.

But each morning was the same. I woke up just to go back to sleep. Eventually, I didn’t even set my alarm anymore. I would only get out of bed until it was “safe.” Meaning, I’d be so late for school and everyone else was at school or work so I’d have no way of getting to school anyway.

My poor mother was at a loss. Even I was at a loss. I knew it was wrong, but I couldn’t bring myself to go to school. Even when my mom said, “Your job is to go to school,” “You need to go to school,” or, “Why don’t you want to go to school?” I responded logically in my head. “I know my job is to go to school,” “I know I need my high school diploma,” and, “I have no idea why I don’t want to go.” But out loud I simply replied, “I don’t want to.”

Doctor Appointments

My mom took me to go see my primary care doctor. She too was at a loss and was kind of harsh about the situation. She asked what I did all day. I told her I’d clean the house, I’d get my writing done, sometimes I would just chill and get the chance to sit and watch TV. I was still going to my job and still babysitting. I just didn’t want to go to school. That was totally not okay in my doctor’s book. She told my mother that if I wasn’t going to go to school, then I wasn’t allowed to do anything else.

Needless to say, we got a second opinion. When we went back to the doctor’s, we saw someone different. She was more sympathetic and in tune to what we all had to say. That fact that I had no idea why I didn’t want to go to school was totally okay with her.

They wondered if I had depression, but because going to school was the only thing I refused to do, it was confusing to them. If I had depression, I most likely wouldn’t want to write or go to work. So, the doctor referred us to a therapist.

Going To Therapy

Our neighbor was in therapy for anxiety and she recommended her therapist to us. I saw her for a few years and it was the best thing that I ever did. But still, it took a while to figure things out.

A lot of things came to light. I explained to her about my “friend” – who thought I was lying to her about why I wasn’t coming to school, thus spread rumors about me that I had died, and so on. I explained to her how most of my teachers weren’t on my side. My high school classes were split into two levels – academic and honors (honors being a higher level than academic). I was in all academic my freshman year and even though I had As and Bs, I had to argue to get into honors classes. My teachers all thought honors would be too hard for me.

So, when all this happened, they dropped me down to academic classes because they assumed I was too overwhelmed with the work, despite my grades. I had trouble with oral presentations, but I still got good grades in all my classes (except math. Math is awful, but I was never in honors for math and I knew that was the right choice). My point is, if my teachers didn’t believe in me, then why was going to going to spend six hours a day with them?

One of my teachers even spoke about my grades to this “friend” of mine. My friend called me saying, “You had better get your work in because she doesn’t know what grade to give you for your report card.” This was the friend who told my classmates I had died. This was my friend who I was there for when she went through her own mental health issues in eighth grade and was now thinking I was lying to her. This was the friend who saw my issues as a gossip-fest. This was the friend who never once called me this entire time to see how I was feeling – expect to “scold” me about my schoolwork.

Now, mind you, at this point, I was going after school for an hour to be tutored and get my work done. This particular teacher, my English teacher ironically, was the only teacher who had not given me work. How can I pass in non-existent work? And then she was talking to my classmates about my grades.

It was shortly after this that we all mutually – my mom, therapist, and I – agreed that I would not be going back to high school. A lot of things came to light and everyone realized that my high school simply wasn’t the best place for me. My therapist also thought that I was just the type of person to know what I wanted and high school couldn’t give that to me.

Some Good Things Did Come From This

I was ready to drop out. I didn’t think I had any other choice. My therapist actually found a Dual Enrollment program at my local community college. I would be able to go to that college and take classes for a year to fill up the rest of my high school requirements. Yet, the credits will also go towards a college degree. So, my first year of college killed two birds with one stone. I still graduated high school and got my diploma and I was already halfway done with my Associate’s degree.

I was able to stop being friends with that particular person. Which is kind of sad in a way because we were friends since third grade. But, looking back, she was even like that in elementary school. It was just something I never noticed.

I’ve learned a lot too. Everything I do now – the blogging, the writing, business, and marketing – it’s all stuff I taught myself through research and hands-on experience with trial and error. Maybe I should have gone to college for business or something of the like, but I’ve come so far myself. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished despite all I went through to get to this point.

It’s Still There

I still struggle with my anxiety on a day to day basis. Some days are definitely harder than others. It still affects my relationships. I have a hard time running errands sometimes. It actually took me a really long time to understand the anxiety myself. This post came out a lot different than I intended it to, but it still felt good to write.

Let me know your thoughts on this post in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

Blog Signature | RachelPoli.comPatreon | FiverrTwitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double JumpSign up for Rachel Poli's Newsletter and get a FREE 14-page Writing Tracker! | Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

What Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder? [Mental Health Monday]

Here we are, already into February for 2019. This year is going to fly by just like the past few previous years. If you’ve been staying up to date with me, you’ll know that I have added a new feature onto the blog for this year – Mental Health Monday. This is the second post in the series, the first talking about why I’m opening up about it.

In that post I talked about how I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). So many people believe “anxiety” is a loose term, but it’s actually an umbrella for multiple types of anxiety. For a long time, I thought anxiety was just one category as well. I mean, we all have a little anxiety inside of us – whether we’re about to take a big test in school or we need to stand up on stage and do a public speaking event.

In the end though, some of us get it worse than others.

Mental Health Monday: What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder? | Mental Health | Anxiety | Anxiety Disorders | GAD | Blogging | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

Types of Anxiety Disorders

As I stated before, anxiety occurs in all of us in some form of another. Most of the time it’s passed over as just being nervous for a certain test but we all get the sensation once in a while. In that sense, anxiety can be used loosely, but there are anxiety disorders such as:

  • Social Anxiety – when a person has intense fear of social situations. This can be eating in public, being among a crowd of people, or making small talk with as little as one or two people. Social anxiety makes you feel like people are criticizing whatever you’re doing or saying. You might say something wrong or stupid and end up embarrassed going home at the end of the night lying wide awake thinking, “Why did I have to say that…?”
  • Panic Disorder – when a person has panic attacks that are intense and uncontrollable combined with physical symptoms.
  • Specific Phobias – we all have something we’re afraid of though, for some, it can be pretty intense and bring on anxiety attacks and throw your whole day off.
  • OCD & PTSD – while these aren’t considered anxiety disorders, anxiety may be present in both of these.

And finally, there’s…

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

This anxiety disorder is when someone feels excessive worry and is anxious about many different things. We overthink and plan out every simple thing and plan ahead even more in case something goes right or something goes wrong. Most often than not, we assume something will go wrong and worry, worry, worry about it 24/7. We believe it will go wrong so much that we tend to end up making things go wrong. Because, in our heads, it already went wrong before it even started.

This has effected many aspects of my life throughout the years – school, work, relationships – you know, everything that’s important in life. However, before I was diagnosed, I thought I was just weird and simply overthinking things. I couldn’t understand how to get my mind to stop. Then, when I was diagnosed… I still didn’t get it.

It Took Me a Long Time to Understand GAD

It wasn’t until fairly recently that I’ve come to terms with GAD and truly figured out what it meant for me to have it. I’ve had GAD since I was 16 – about nine years now – and it wasn’t until last year, 2018, that I realized what goes on in my head.

I mean, truth be told, I may never fully understand it, but I know more now than I used to. Even after I was diagnosed with GAD, I thought it was just the “official” term for “anxiety.” You know, professionals sounding fancy. Apparently, I have more than that.

I’ve always been a worrier and never showed it too much when I was younger because, even though I was truly freaking out, deep down I knew there was nothing to be worried about. Then something flipped a switch inside my brain in high school and all of the sudden I had GAD. I’ll get into that story in the next Mental Health Monday post, but it’s interesting to me how I’ve gone my whole life like this and didn’t have a clue that there was something more going on in my mind.

What Do You Mean “Worry?”

I worry over stupid stuff. I mean, I guess it’s not necessarily “stupid,” but in hindsight it doesn’t seem like it matters.

Anything I do or say, I worry is “wrong.”

For example, if I text someone and they don’t reply for a while, I don’t immediately think they’re at work and can’t reply. I don’t think they’re hanging out with friends and just haven’t checked their phone. I don’t think they’re phone is on silent and they just didn’t notice the text ping through. I don’t even think they’re busy in any way, shape, or form.

My immediate thought is that I said something wrong, stupid, selfish, embarrassing, what have you. My immediate thought is that they’re not replying because they saw my text, gave it a weird face, and put their phone down because they don’t know how to answer me.

Or worse, they’re ignoring me because they suddenly hate me despite us hanging out the night before.

This is sometimes why it takes me a while to reply back. I’m afraid to say something stupid and I need to craft the perfect response – or sometimes I’m just having a really bad day and can’t talk to people. By me doing that, I’m doing the exact same thing I’m afraid you’ll do to me… see the vicious cycle?

It Makes Me Feel Self-Centered

Now, I know people get busy. I know the world doesn’t revolve around me. I know people have other friends and family than just me. So, when I get upset or worried that someone doesn’t reply, I immediately feel guilty for thinking like that in the first place. Or I’ll text them again and again after a little while. I’ll panic wondering if my text messages are even going through. When they do reply, I’ll apologize and feel upset for bothering them.

Which is another thing. If I text someone first, I feel like I’m bothering that person even though I know they don’t have to respond. If they don’t respond, then I assume they hate me. So, I rarely text people first. But if someone doesn’t text me first, I assume they hate me and don’t want to talk to me.

See the whole self-centered thing? I’m getting a headache just writing this.

Texting Isn’t The Only Example

Texting is just one way my mind goes in circles. I think that’s a good enough example for now though.

My original point of this post was to explain what exactly GAD is and how it effects my way of thinking. A lot of my real life friends know I have “anxiety” but don’t understand that I have GAD and when I tell them, they get confused and don’t know what it is. I’ve been diagnosed with this for nine years and, like I said, I just fully understood it myself just last year. So, it’s hard when no one else seems to have a clue what’s going on inside your head.

Not that I expect them all to understand. They can’t put themselves in my shoes and I wouldn’t want them to. But now, at this point in my life, I think it’s time I start sharing and explaining things more. Maybe it will help in the long run.

Let me know your thoughts on this post in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

Blog Signature | RachelPoli.comPatreon | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double JumpSign up for Rachel Poli's Newsletter and get a FREE 14-page Writing Tracker! | Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com