Photo by Dominika Roseclay on Pexels.com

It’s no secret I’ve been very open about my struggles with insomnia and restful sleep here on the blog. There are a lot of factors behind my sleep issues: anxiety, periods, and stress from work, but sometimes, you’re just going to have a rough night of sleep for no reason. If any of these struggles resonate with you as well, or if you also deal with insomnia from time to time, I hope this article gives you some insight or inspiration! Obviously I am not a doctor or a professional, but I do feel like I have built up some helpful tricks and coping mechanisms over time.

Create associations with sleep. Have you heard of the theory of Pavlov’s dog? Basically, he trained his dogs to associate hearing a bell ring with getting food, so that eventually every time they heard the bell, they would automatically salivate with anticipation for food. You can train your own mind to do the same thing with getting sleepy! For example, every evening when I’m getting ready for bed, I warm up a heating pad and light an apple candle. Because my brain has learned to associate those things with sleep, I now naturally start to get very tired when I smell my candle and feel the heat of the pad on my chest. You can find your own little rituals and habits to associate with sleep- maybe for you that’s listening to specific music, spraying a certain room spray, or drinking herbal tea.

Find a vitamin/medicine combo that works for you. I try to look at prescription sleep medication as a last resort because taking it for too long can become habit-forming, and that won’t be good for your health in the long run. However, if you are looking for something over-the-counter to take that won’t be habit-forming, I have a couple of recommendations. First of all, melatonin is always a safe bet. It’s safe, reliable, and highly recommended from every doctor I’ve ever spoken to. That being said, you may have to give it a few nights to work. I’ve been taking melatonin every night for the past six months, and it’s been working wonders for me. If I’m having a really rough night, or if it’s imperative that I get a good night’s sleep, I will take a unisom tablet as well. You don’t need a prescription to buy unisom, and it’s also non-habit-forming. 

Maintain a consistent nighttime routine. Because I usually get up at the same time every morning, it just makes sense that I should go to bed at the same time, too. Even on the weekends, when I don’t have to be up early, I still try to get up and moving around 8 o’clock or so. Doing so can help train your mind to have a more consistent sleeping schedule, and thus, make falling asleep easier. As I mentioned earlier as well, I also tend to go through the same motions every night to instill a sense of routine in my body, such as with the candle and the heating pad. Of course, make sure you blow out your candle before you fall asleep if you choose to do that! 

Don’t force yourself to sleep if you’re restless. Honestly, forcing yourself to try to sleep when you’re not sleepy is one of the worst things you can do. In most scenarios, all that’s going to happen is that you’re just going to get frustrated and have even more trouble dozing off. If you’re having trouble sleeping, change your goal from falling asleep to simply relaxing so you can take some of that stress off of yourself. Read a book, listen to a podcast, or even watch some tv to take your mind off things. Eventually, you’ll just get sleepy again and you should have an easier time going back to bed. 

Listen to audio. This sort of ties into the “don’t force yourself to sleep thing,” but listening to audio when you’re falling asleep can be a great way to distract your mind. My personal favorite thing to listen to before bed is Vsauce videos, because they’re interesting but not too stimulating that I can’t fall asleep. Nathaniel, on the other hand, does not like listening to Vsauce before bed because he “gets too interested in the videos.” When we’re together, we like to compromise by listening to the podcast 36 From the Vault, which is a podcast about the Grateful Dead. Regardless of what audio I have going in the background, it’s just helpful for me to hear anything to keep my mind occupied.

Anyway, those are my tips for falling *and staying* asleep. Like I said, I’m not a doctor or anything, but these are tips that have worked for me and I hope you find some solace in them as well! Sleep tight.

Monday, July 27

I’ve always striven to be really transparent about how I’m doing, so I’m not gonna lie, the past couple of days have been tough. It would make a lot of sense if I was entering some sort of PMDD-related episode, but I’m also trying to avoid getting into the habit of blaming every bad mood on my period. I felt fine for most of the day yesterday, but around the evening is when I began to struggle with feeling irritable, agitated, angry, depressed, anxious, paranoid, fatigued, and crying inconsolably…so, sounds like some pretty severe PMDD to me! Poor Nathaniel, he’s such a saint staying on the phone with me and being kind and encouraging when I’m really struggling and crying and putting myself down. I know it hurts him to see me go through hard times, especially since he can’t be here in person, but I really appreciate how lovely and understanding he is. He stayed on the line with me for over an hour while my scream-crying slowly evolved to silent crying, which then evolved to sniffling, which then evolved to snoring. Someone give this man an award ASAP. 

I didn’t get a ton of sleep last night, as you could have probably assumed. I fell asleep around midnight and had to be up at 4am for work. I wasn’t crying or feeling angry like I had been the night before, but I still felt sort of cloudy and fatigued, like my brain was still swimming in tears inside of my head. And then at work, even though my trainer and my manager said I did a great job, I did not feel on my A-game. I was forgetful, I was slow, and I was really blanking on how to do basic things I had learned the week before. I managed to hold it together without bursting into tears, but there were a few moments where I thought, “Am I good enough to do this? Am I too stupid to learn? Should I quit so I stop wasting everyone’s time?”

The first thing I did when I got home was conk out for about two and a half hours (a bit longer than I wanted to sleep, admittedly,) and now it’s after 4pm and eating a late lunch while I chug water. I definitely feel like my head has cleared up a lot, and I promised Nathaniel I wouldn’t be “a weepy mess” on the phone tonight. I feel like I can hold myself together again. However, I am really stressed about my work performance and I wish I was learning things faster. I know if I had all the time in the world to practice, or a way to keep learning everything at home, I would be fine. But it’s because all my practice comes from a fast-paced, stressful environment, I feel easily flustered and I forget what I’m doing. That being said, I remembered something today while I was making my lunch that I haven’t actually had a discussion with my work: I have learning disabilities which affect my memory and my processing skills, and the reality is, my brain is probably working twice as hard as it should be to get by. (By the way, I haven’t really told any of the jobs I applied to because I was afraid I wouldn’t get hired for being neuroatypical.) Reminding myself of that made me feel a bit better about myself and my progress. Like, no, I’m not a wimp or a moron or a “bad person” for feeling the way I feel. I am a person who is honestly just trying her best to hold everything together, and even though I’m also a weepy, tired mess, I think I’m doing pretty okay. 

So yeah, that’s been my Monday. Nathaniel’s work schedule is a bit tough this week but I really, really hope I can see him because it’s been more than two weeks and the thing I need more than anything else in the world right now is a hug. I’m really hoping the rest of the week is not as dramatic and emotional as these past few days, so I’ll do my best to take care of myself. I am also going to try to practice everything I need to know at Starbucks as well as I can at home without having any equipment, aka I’m going to rely on memory to write out tasks. Thank you all so much for reading today and I’ll be sure to update you on how the rest of my week goes. 


Monday, August 3

Hey everybody! Hope you’re all having a great Monday. I’ve been really behind on posting here on my blog, but honestly, I didn’t have time to sit down in front of my computer at all this week! I really don’t like getting behind on my goals, so today and tomorrow are going to be all about playing catch-up.

The past week was rough with PMDD, but things are starting to look up a bit now that my emotions are getting back on track. I spent most of last week feeling irritated and sad, and to be totally honest, the weekend didn’t make me feel much better. But like I said, things are on the right track now and I’m trying to stay as positive as possible. I’ve also been feeling like I can’t tell the people I love how I feel and what I’m going through, because it seems like everyone else is going through their own mess right now and I don’t want to stress anyone out even further with my problems. So that’s been really frustrating, but I definitely think having a therapist and paying someone to listen to my problems will help. I’ve been trying to find one via Psychology Today, but so far nobody has returned my emails. I’ll be sure to let you guys know how the rest of my week goes and if skipping my sugar pill week does any good for my PMDD down the line! Sorry I was a bit of a downer and unproductive this week, I’m going to try to keep my mind busier and more positive in the next few days.

 

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Photo by Jaymantri on Pexels.com

Sometimes I look back and I’m amazed at some of the things I was able to accomplish through absolute exhaustion. I believe that, particularly as a student, it’s easy to assume constant fatigue is just a way of life. I know I sure was used to it by high school- getting up at 5:45am every day? I really don’t know how I did it.

But other times, particularly this past semester, I noticed I was alarmingly tired after getting up at 7am or even later. Even if I went to bed early and got up with 8 hours of sleep behind me, I would still find myself hit with a wave of exhaustion around an hour after waking up. It wouldn’t hit immediately in the morning- it would happen while I was waiting for the shuttle, sitting on the subway, or even at my internship itself. One time, I got so abruptly sleepy while riding the T, I missed my stop altogether. I would drag myself into the building and struggle to keep my eyes open until around noon or 1pm, when the sleepiness would finally start to subdue. It was annoying, but also concerning for me as it began to interfere with my life. 

When I realized that most of these sleepy spells lined up with my menstrual cycle, everything began to click together. Oh yeah, I reminded myself. You have PMDD. This is your reality. In fact, “severe fatigue” is listed as one of the top symptoms for PMDD on hopkinsmedicine.org

The thing is, my menstrual-related sleepiness had NEVER been as severe as it was this past spring semester. And now that I’m out of college, I almost never get hit with fatigue. So why did that happen?

Through doing a lot of thinking and researching, I’ve decided it probably had a lot to do with stress. Spring 2020 was an amazing semester, but it was also absolutely wild. For one thing, knowing this was my last semester of college and I had to do well to graduate was always pushing me in the back of my mind. And then, when the global health crisis emerged and my entire future went up in the air, well, I became exhausted. For me, numbing myself out rather than getting hysterical is just a normal coping mechanism. And so, I’m not surprised I spent a majority of January/February/March feeling absolutely fatigued. Especially when coupled with my hormonal disorder, which is notorious for causing sleepiness, it makes a lot of sense. I think I was truly just burnt out. Additionally, PMDD is associated with “non restorative sleep,” so even if I get my tight eight hours in, that doesn’t mean I’m getting good sleep.

There wasn’t really a cure for me during that time besides just trying to keep my mind busy, and through physically holding my eyelids open in the morning. I would also text my boyfriend during the early mornings, since he was an early riser as well and he could keep my mind occupied. Overall, however, it was a very bizarre experience. I tend to be a very energized, go-go-go kind of person, so not being able to feel alert or constructive for half the day really bothered me. However, like I said, my early-morning sleepiness has improved tremendously. For one, I’ve felt very in control of my life lately, and that definitely makes me feel motivated. Secondly, my physical PMDD symptoms have slightly subdued in the last couple of months. I’m pretty sure this is due to having better sleep hours, a healthier diet, and exercising more frequently, but it’s hard to know for sure. Nonetheless, I’m feeling great now! I do notice I do occasionally become fatigued while on my period, but it doesn’t drag on for hours and hours like it used to. 

For anyone else who struggles with PMDD, I’d love to know your experiences. Has fatigue ever interfered with the quality of your life? Do you notice that stress tends to exacerbate your symptoms as well? Let me know in the comments below! Feel free to drop your tips for preventing sleepiness in the comments as well, so that we can share tips and advice with other folks who may need it.

Wednesday, July 15

Now that I have an AC, being stuck at home for most of my days is starting to feel quite more enjoyable! However, I think things will perk up even more next week, when I start my new job at Starbucks. I am so excited to meet new people and become a barista, and I’m even excited to get up early for my shifts! I definitely feel more productive and generally better about myself when I get up early.

I’m not sure if I’ve already mentioned this, but lately I’ve been trying to focus on making more positive lifestyle changes. For example, I’ve been trying to keep dibs on how much water I drink daily, and my current goal is to drink at least 60ml per day. I’ve also been working out a lot more, which was strenuous at first, but now it’s getting easier. I know it’s such a cliche when people say this, but I genuinely do feel great after a good workout! I feel energized and strong, and physically, my body feels amazing. 

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Peep my beautiful salad.

So those two things have been making me feel a lot better lately, and I’m really happy to be taking steps towards improving my wellness. Once I move in with Nathaniel some day, we’ll be able to motivate each other to stay healthy as well. He enjoys exercising as well, so I’m sure we’ll be hitting the gym together after it is safe to do so. 


Friday, July 17

I accidentally slept too much today, and as a result, my brain is feeling foggy. Does that ever happen to you? 

Anyway, it’s mid-afternoon now, I’m trying to combat my drowsiness by drinking lots of water and keeping my brain occupied. I’m looking for a new Netflix show to devour, so if you guys have any suggestions, let me know!

Anyway, I’m starting work on Monday, and I’m super excited to get out of the house and have something new to do. I’ve wanted to work at Starbucks for months now, and even though it may not sound like the most exciting goal to have, I genuinely am really looking forward to it. I think it sounds like an amazing opportunity to meet new people and keep my mind busy, as well as a much-needed income. 


Saturday, July 18

Hi everyone, I hope you’re all doing well. I’m doing pretty well, but I did have another rough night of sleep and I’m hoping this doesn’t become habitual for me. I’m also dealing with a bit of brain fogginess/dissociation, but unlike past experiences, I’m trying not to panic or overthink. I’m just doing my best to take care of myself and upkeep some sort of routine to comfort myself, so today’s agenda included laundry, mopping, vacuuming, and running errands. I was able to squeeze in a little baby nap after that (which I don’t normally do,) and now I’m burning my favorite candle in the living room and getting some writing done. There’s a chance I might see Buck at some point over the couple of days, so that would really brighten me up a lot. I’m planning a tie-dye/pizza date night for us, so I’ll be sure to let you guys know if that ends up happening! Stay safe, and continue to take care of yourselves.

 

As many of you know, I’ve struggled with anxiety for my entire life, and I am very open and vocal about my struggle with it on this platform. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that there are so many misconceptions people have about anxiety, and I’d like to take this opportunity to set the record straight on what it’s really like to live with generalized anxiety disorder. That being said, everybody who struggles with anxiety will have a different approach and journey, so please know that anxiety can be vastly different on a case-to-case basis. What I personally feel about this issue could be completely different than the thoughts and feelings of another person with anxiety.

Self-Care Quotes - Because You Deserve Them | Hallmark Ideas ...


Misconception 1: “If you have anxiety, you must have depression, too.”

While it is true that anxiety and depression can go hand in hand, that doesn’t necessarily mean it always does. Even though I struggle with anxiety and it plays a large role in my life, I have actually never really struggled with severe depression or been diagnosed with it. Of course I have gone through rough periods in my life, in general, I am able to naturally uphold a positive, cheerful, self-loving attitude. I genuinely love life and view it through an optimistic lens- I just also happen to deal with anxiety along the way. 


Misconception 2: “If you eat healthy foods and meditate, your anxiety will go away.”

Improving your diet and your routines can help with anxiety, but if you have a real anxiety disorder, it’s not very likely that you can cure it just by eating more vegetables and practicing yoga. I’m not saying it’s a worthless practice, but if you suffer from severe anxiety such as myself, it takes years of therapy and even medication to maintain my health and help my anxiety become less severe. When people tell me to try exercising or drinking more water to “cure” my anxiety, I recognize the positive intent, but it is still frustrating to hear these things.


Misconception 3: “Oh, I have anxiety, too!” or something along those lines

Everybody struggles with anxiety from time to time, and it’s completely normal to do so. However, not everybody has an anxiety disorder. What differentiates normal anxiety from a serious medical condition depends on how severely it impacts the quality of your life. For example, it’s normal and expected to have anxiety before a big test or a presentation. But if your anxiety prevents you from enjoying your everyday life or if it interferes with your daily tasks and productivity, then it could qualify for an anxiety disorder. It’s important to understand that difference, because as with any mental disorder or condition, it’s common for those who really suffer to feel invalidated or one-upped. 


Misconception 4: “Taking medication for anxiety can make you become addicted to it.”

There is no evidence to support the claim that SSRIs or other antidepressants can cause dependent tendencies in those who use them, so the idea that anxiety medication can become “addicting” is a huge misconception. With that being said, it is possible to become dependent on benzodiazepines- or tranquilizers, such as Ativan or Xanax. However, just because you have a prescription for either of these medications does NOT automatically mean you will become addicted to benzos. I have a prescription for Ativan which I use very responsibly, and I only take my benzos if I am having an absolute anxiety emergency and I am afraid of passing out or having a panic attack (which only happens a handful of times per year.)


And finally, Misconception 5: “Anxiety is not a real medical condition.”

Even though anxiety is an invisible illness, that does not make it any less valid or severe than any other condition. 

Anxiety disorders are serious medical conditions- and should be treated just as seriously as any other condition, physical or not. Additionally, anxiety disorders are the most common and pervasive of disorders in the United States. If you also struggle with having an anxiety disorder, your feelings are valid, and most importantly, you are NOT alone!

I hope you found this article helpful and informative. In the midst of the political climate and the pandemic surrounding us right now, it is totally normal and valid to be feeling anxiety. Remember that it is good to feel your feelings, even if they are not always sunshiney, and there are always people out there who want to listen to you and support you.

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In step with last year, I’m going to be recording my New Year’s resolutions here on the blog so I can keep track of my progress. I’m going to divide this into physical, mental, social, and career goals, because I think it’s a good idea to have a well-rounded group of all four. I am pretty happy with where I am now, but there’s always room for improvement! 


Physical

-Improve my sleep health and *try* to combat my insomnia

-Get my driver’s license. Does that count as physical?

-Try to go to the gym more often

-Watch every single Bill Murray movie this year


Mental

-Give myself more credit and appreciation for the hard work I do

-Take more days off when I need them for my health

-Completely forgive myself for my traumas


Social

-Have 300 followers on WordPress

-Have 100 followers on my Analog instagram

-Have 50 followers on Analog itself


Career

-Complete my spring internship

-Find a full-time job

-Find my first apartment!


I feel like 2020 is really going to be the year of adulting. I’m graduating college, which is a huge milestone, I’m preparing for my internship, and I’m going to have to start looking for my first apartment. It’s definitely a scary change, but I’m looking forward to what I can achieve! Let’s tackle this year together.

I’m not sure how exciting a room tour is to you guys, but for me personally, I love seeing how other people set up their living spaces and let their creativity show. I love my room because it feels so true to me- peaceful, clean, organized, and full of life. It feels in a lot of ways like my studio- my creativity flourishes here when I’m left alone to tackle artistic tasks.

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My mom and I moved into our apartment three years ago, and since then, it really does feel like home. My favorite part of my room is definitely my desk, because it’s where I get to let most of my creativity flow. I keep the majority of my makeup up here on this spinning storage thing, and the rest of it in this silver kitchen organizer. (By the way, putting my palettes in a kitchen organizer is probably the best idea I’ve ever had). I’m hoping to update my desk in the future, because my makeup collecting habit is slowly but surely growing. This little flimsy desk doesn’t even have draws, so it’s not even really doing its one job. 

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Like many other young people, I’m also very fond of my bed. I really wanted to keep my room relaxed and minimalist, and I love the a e s t h e t i c of having a mattress on the floor. It also makes it super easy for Duke to get in and out of my bed, which is very important to me. My dog loves to sleep in my bed every night, and it absolutely warms my heart. I also have all my plants above my bed, facing the direct sunlight where the sun rises. I don’t actually harvest any of the plants and herbs I am growing, especially since they are all young. Actually, the only reason I have plants is because I love to watch them sprout and grow. I love to take care of living things- animals and plants alike. From left to right, I have Tyrone the aloe, Keisha the basil, Giga the succulent, Malone the sunflower, PeePee the other succulent, and Pancake the silver daisies. I also have a tomato plant named Miss Jenna and a sage plant named Charles, but unfortunately they are not pictured.

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I keep all of my clothes in a walk-in closet, and as you can see, it’s mostly filled with black with (a few) pops of bright color. I still have all of my vintage dresses, and though I don’t wear them very much, I like to keep them around. During the summertime, I’m mostly wearing band t-shirts, shorts, and some new Stranger Things sweatpants I bought at Newbury Comics. Score! I also keep all of my shoes in here, and most days, I rotate between my black sneakers and red slip-ons. 

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SO much floral. And black.

The final stop of my room is this large white shelving-type thing, where I keep my crystals, essential oil blends, and balls of yarn. I love knitting while I watch Netflix- it keeps my hands busy, and helps the knitting process go by much faster. I would prefer to keep my crystals directly in the sunlight, but as you can see, I definitely don’t have enough room to fit them all on my windowsill! Nonetheless, I love turning on my oil diffuser and letting the mist spread over my crystals- in a way, it feels like they are being cleansed when I do this. 

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That, in a nutshell, is a little tour of my bedroom. I like to think of myself as an artistic, creative-focused person, and the layout of my bedroom really allows me to express that creativity. If you’d like a closer peak at anything else in my room, let me know in the comments! I am planning on doing a complete makeup show-and-tell in the future.

Coming up next: I Bought the Alyssa Edwards Palette, and….Oh.

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Look at him. LOOK. AT. HIM.

This article could very easily turn into an existential crisis, or, at the very least, criticism of modern corporate America, but I’ll try to keep it on the topic of psychology first and foremost before I derail into philosophy. I actually planned on writing this article months ago, but ironically, the posting schedule is lining up VERY well with my real-life stress. I’ve been absolutely drowning in it lately, and the more I stress, the guiltier I feel about letting myself relax. So why am I like that?

The year is 2019, and with the chaotic advancement of data and technology, I think we’re all feeling slightly overloaded. At the age of barely twenty, I’m already feeling completely overloaded with tasks and information. I can’t imagine what it’s like to add a family, a full-time job, bills, healthcare, and a house into the mix- and I sure don’t get excited thinking about it.

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It’s kind of sad, isn’t it? We as millennials are constantly being bombarded with criticism from the older generations, who constantly remind us that we are lazy, entitled robots who don’t know what hard work is. This sentiment really pisses me off, because it’s so lacking in perspective and a sense of reality. Each generation will be vastly different from the generation before it, mine included. We are the pioneers of the social media age, and while it’s a ton of fun, the constant change in technology places a lot of stress on my shoulders. Add in the fact that just being alive is becoming more and more expensive each day, college has been proven to increase the blood pressure of young people, and a buffoon is currently running our country, and boom! You have a recipe for stress in 2019.

It’s no one’s individual fault that these are the plights of a modern college student. If anything, I think it is collectively the fault of everyone in power- the government, the education system, and corporate America. Mental health has only recently been recognized as a valid universal topic, and up until recently we’ve been living in a very “suck-it-up-and-get-the-work-done” world.

I think that type of conditioning is part of the reason we have such a hard time relaxing. We are constantly set up to always be ready for the next task in life, one after another, like an assembly line of life. We are an assembly line, and the only way to survive is to keep chugging out labor for corporate America. Sometimes a lucky one sneaks out, but the key word there is “luck”. That, and unwavering hard work and self-assurance.

Even when the work is done, we still can’t escape the thought that there is something left to do. It’s all very relevant to the theme that society teaches us to never stop working hard, if you take any time for yourself to focus on what makes you happy, or anything that’s not work-related you’re “selfish”.

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The concept of selfishness has been really interesting to me lately. I’m in the middle of reading The Satanic Bible by Anton Szandor LaVey (great book, by the way), and one of my favorite notions he discusses is the celebration of the seven deadly sins. “Satan represents, indulgence, instead of abstinence” plants the seed to this idea, barely a quarter into the book. Also, here’s a quote from page 85 that more or less sums up my point:

“Satanists are encouraged to indulge in the seven deadly sins, as they hurt no one; they were only invented by the Christian Church to ensure guilt on the part of its followers. The Christian Church knows that it is impossible for anyone to avoid committing these sins, as they are all things which we, being human, most naturally do.”

I’m not saying I hate Christians, but I do agree that guilt is instilled in us for giving into our most human desires. That could be an entire article in itself, so I’ll try to keep it solely on “sloth.” Satanism isn’t the only religion that highlights the importance of self-care; I’ve also noticed a lot of positive mental health themes in Buddhism. I’ll link one of my favorite Buddhist talks by Ajahn Brahm at the bottom: it’s very relevant to this subject, and overall, just a really fantastic video.

Since a young age, we are instilled with the thought that any time we take out for ourselves is selfish, wrong, and unimportant. Basically, if we enjoy something that’s not related to work/income, we are led to believe that it’s less important. Obviously I believe that work is an essential part of life, whether we like it or not, but why can’t work be fun? Why can’t we be a little more silly, a little looser, a little less serious? Why, even after the work is finished, do we have such a hard time letting ourselves be selfish and relax?

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I think it’s possible to have a job you love and still be successful- it just takes a lot of hard work. I’ve been thinking a lot about my future- student loan debt, bills, rent, internships, jobs, everything. And I’m also thinking about the universe- how insignificant humanity is, how our entire history, in regards to the rest of the history of time, is absolutely minuscule. We have hardly even made a dent, and the truth is, after we die, we’re not really important anymore. The only thing that matters is right now- being alive in this moment, and enjoying life to the fullest before our timer runs out and we become infinitely meaningless.

It sounds cliche, but do what makes you happy and gives you the most joy. Optimize your life with as much fun as you want, because once you realize you’re dying, it’s going to be too late.

“Relax- Everything is out of control!” By Ajahn Brahm: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zY6Q-OnMTEE

Coming up next: Fashion Journal: 1970-1979

Photos: https://phys.org/news/2019-02-theory-universe-thought.html

http://www.rgbstock.com/photo/q0J6sos/Cookie+Cutter+People+2

https://thesatanictemple.com/

 

I’ve heard a lot of people say that “ADHD isn’t real,” and actually, I think that’s a really interesting point. Coming from a person who has ADHD, I can understand that point, and agree with it to some extent. I do believe that there are different learning styles, but to label ADHD as a “learning disability” just seems fundamentally wrong to me. I mean, 6.1 million American children have been diagnosed with the disorder, so at that point…is it even a disorder? Or just a vastly versatile and large demographic of people who all learn in a particular way which is different than the norm?

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

There isn’t a right answer to that question- at least, not one that I’ve come across so far. For all practical purposes, I do tell people I have ADHD when needed, but in the back of my mind, I can’t help but feel silly for even needing to label myself. After all, we all experience ADHD symptoms to some extent, and the numbers are continuing to grow. Why should we, the people diagnosed with this “disorder,” have to medicate ourselves and change ourselves to fit the mainstream society? Why is society not changing to be all-encompassing and open-minded to different learning styles?

That was a little bit of a tangent (and it’s mostly aimed at the American educational system), so let’s get back to the main point here: ADHD and anxiety disorders. Do they really go hand in hand? More or less, yeah.

In fact, ADHD is one of the most common disorders that usually go hand in hand with other conditions. ADHD and OCD tend to go together (I have both), and of course, depression and anxiety can correlate with ADHD as well. Generally, I would say my OCD, ADHD, and anxiety all feed off of each other, almost in a cycle. When I can’t focus, or I can’t interpret what’s going on around me, my fight-or-flight instinct kicks in, and I get anxious. When I’m anxious, I have a debilitating desire to control my environment. When I’m constantly trying to control everything around me, my world is out of focus. And so on, and so forth.

It is definitely an unfair cycle, but luckily, I have medications like Lexapro and Lorazepam to alleviate my symptoms. Medication obviously isn’t for everyone, but for me, I’ve found it to be extremely helpful and even critical to my mental health. Medications won’t banish all your problems and symptoms, but they do make an extremely positive impact, in most cases. I still struggle with anxiety, and occasional OCD symptoms, but they’re manageable and nowhere near as extreme as they once were.

Interestingly, even though I do have ADHD, I’m a generally high-performing student with decent grades. I’ve figured out a way to do well in classes without the help of anyone else, so taking Adderall  or something similar has never felt like something I needed. Sure, doctors and neuropsych doctors have recommended it to me, but it’s never something I’ve wanted to pursue (and probably never will). It kind of ties back into ADHD not being a “real thing”- why should I have to change, and literally alter my brain chemistry, just because society doesn’t want to change the educational structure to fit all learning styles?

On the flip side, I do believe in treating my anxiety with medication, because that is something I haven’t found an alternative way to work around. Therapy doesn’t really work treating my anxiety, and neither does deep-breathing, meditation, exercising, etc. No, the only way I have been able to reduce my anxiety long-term is through medication, and I’m totally okay with that. The changes I’ve seen in my attitude and energy levels are undeniable, and my self-esteem has also greatly improved in the two years I’ve been on Lexapro.

white and blue health pill and tablet letter cutout on yellow surface
Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán on Pexels.com

In a nutshell, what I’m really trying to say is, just do what’s best for your individual case. If you’re struggling with a tangle of emotional issues, you might not want to completely rule out the correlation between anxiety and ADHD. Especially if you’ve been diagnosed with one or the other, it increases the chances that there is something else going on there, too. I’m generally not a big fan of labels, but if a label is going to be useful to me and actually make my life easier, yeah, I’ll accept all these medical terms as a part of my mental health identity. I have ADHD, GAD, specific phobia, and OCD, and I’m completely, utterly happy with myself. No matter what you’re struggling with, I hope you can remember to love yourself, too.

If you’re interested in me doing more of these personal-mental health stories, let me know! I love to be completely open about my health history, because I’ve come to accept it and love it as a part of who I am. I also feel like mental health is still not talked about enough, so if I have the opportunity to make a difference, I will. Thank you for reading!

Coming up next: Switching Majors, My 20th Birthday, and Other Life Updates