RX to Self: Please Slow Down

RX to Self: Please Slow Down

It’s been 12 years since I started this path. Mental illness wasn’t the problem. The struggle was how to regain my confidence and self-esteem after the first onset of symptoms. 

In retrospect, I felt like an observer. I was aware of my surroundings and the people around me. The constant struggle to try to belong to the scene that was right in front of me. Family reunions, going out with friends, going to a concert. Anything social was uncomfortable to me. 

More importantly, I felt I wasn’t my true self.

When I’ve moved to the US 10 years ago, the idea of being an observer started to fade. I became careless about it. I was happy to start a new chapter in life where I could be more independent. I’ve lost school years during my time in Mexico, and I was determined to never let that happen again. Until my symptoms started to take a slow and tender grip on me.

And there I was, going to school with the best intentions to not breakdown. I had the will to not surrender. I had to prove myself that I could do it, that I could belong to the group. Instead of being an observer, I’ve became a witness of my own thoughts. I’ve started to become anxious about others being witness of my symptoms. 

The daily inner battle lasted for several years. I’ve started to evolve with it. Faking that nothing was happening with me. I became desensitized of my needs, and it took a toll  on me from time to time. By this I mean going to the hospital several times because I couldn’t take it anymore. 

Stigma is real and I believe that mental illness is a topic that not many of us like to discuss. Perhaps is lack of understanding, or simply lack of sensibility. 

What if instead of talking about mental illness, we reframe the context to mental wellness? The emotions and ideas portrayed by the word ‘illness’ and ‘wellness’ are diametrically opposed. However, these two terms are interwoven, they are connected. You cannot have one without the other. 

I’m a human being that’s working towards that balance. I tend to overextend myself when I’m doing something that I love. It may be when I’m working or studying, being with friends, being in a relationship, or making music. These are things that I tend to have trouble to keep in harmony.

I’ve got the opportunity to recover my path after a recent hospitalization. I’ve moved the start of my graduate program for the spring, and I’m working on getting more experience on the field of psychology and mental wellness. What I’ve noticed about this, is the way I’m experiencing it.

I’m becoming more aware and attuned to my body through meditation. I’ve been doing it more often, and now I’ve got the opportunity to join a group of guided meditation. I’m learning to regain my attention and focus on what’s around me. Sometimes is hard to practice it, but I try my best on every chance.

I haven’t played much music, nor composed anything. I just don’t feel ready for now. I’ve been writing on my journal, and talking with family and friends. Trying to pick up my pieces together after my resent episode. I’ve been applying to different jobs and trying to reconnect with myself, once again. 

Taking stock on how I’ve dealt with my relationships with people I love is something I’m working on this morning. In order to that, I need to slow down.

Thank you for reading.

On Wellness,

-Ernesto  

It’s Not Your Time

It’s Not Your Time

It’s a way that sadness manifests itself. A depressive period where you’re trying to make yourself feel anything else other than you. Coping skills are what define you during this moment.

Please know that it won’t last forever. What you do during this period might do, however.

Continue reading “It’s Not Your Time”

Checking-In

Checking-In

Next week is finals week. I’ll earn a bachelor’s degree in applied psychology. Last Thursday was my last lecture as an undergrad. I felt nostalgia. 

A chapter ends and another begins.

Many years and sacrifices happened to get to this point. Below are some questions that I’m exploring tonight. I would love to read your thoughts on them, too. 

1. Would you do it again?

2. What would you tell now to somebody who’s starting out?

3. What would your healthiest and smartest self would advice you?

4. What did you had to give up for to accomplish this?

5. What did you discover about yourself?

 Allow yourself to learn something outside from school or your trade. That activity could become an outlet to decompress from school or related stressors. Learning about music and reading non-academic books were instrumental for me. This semester was one of the busiest I had.

Somehow, I wasn’t as stressed as I thought. It felt as if I chose to not get stressed this time around. Peers and coworkers told me many times that I looked calm and zen. 

I believe that Morita Therapy helped me with that. I haven’t had anxiety symptoms since October. Reading the book gave me a mental frame to work with my emotions differently. Also, I read and almost finished Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. I’ve been a fan of his works for some time now. 

Taking a break from social media a few months ago helped with my work and school output. I must say that I eventually returned, but my usage is minimum. I reached a point that I don’t mind not using it; at best I use it to share my blog posts and music, no more than that.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I’ve been working on some beats that I plan to release soon. Music has been an outlet to explore my emotions, creativity, and learning skills. I’ve been getting into producing sample-based music. You’ll notice a different flavor under Phantasiis in comparison with my usual style. 

Summer is around the corner, and with it more time to dedicate to the craft. I haven’t written here in a while, but I’m still around.

What’ve you been up to?

Hasta pronto,

— Ernesto

Thank You (Letter) | New Single

Thank You (Letter) | New Single

This song was written as a reminder to myself. To be thankful for people that I welcome to my life. To be aware of who I let to hear my story.

It turned out to be a lesson for me.

Thank you for listening. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments or the contact form.

Mondai nai,

-Ernesto

Falling Gently

Falling Gently

This post is about self-awareness. I was on a funk for some time. Now, things are different because I think about them differently.

Its perspective.

As I’ve discussed on my last post update, I took a break from digital distractions. I realized in a few days how much time I had to do things that brought me joy. I’m working on song ideas after challenging the assumption that I’m too busy for music.

In reality, I wasn’t focused. 

Distraction took a toll on me.

The funk I experienced was a byproduct of how I was spending my time. I was feeling unproductive, without energy. I felt that I was heading towards a period of depression. I knew I wasn’t my usual self.

My mind and body were giving me the signals that I wasn’t living, but surviving. I wasn’t sleeping well. I was eating poorly. I was reactive instead of proactive.

I was falling gently into the vice grip of depression.

I had this feeling that I was sabotaging myself. I made the choice to be alone for some time to think. Taking stock on what I was doing, the story I was telling others and to myself. 

I parted ways with my now ex-partner. That turned out to be the catalyst for inner growth and self-improvement. It was a moment that gave me clarity. 

I learned that I can’t save others from themselves. I had to lose my self in the process to understand it. I had to take the fall. I just wished it wasn’t that gently, but I had to live the process, too.

It has been several weeks since then. What’s interesting is that my schedules got more demanding. I’m doing two positions at my job, plus my weekend internship, and my classes. I’m doing twice as more before the pre-onset of depression.

And you know what? I actually feel better. There’s power on time constrictions. Its making me get my act together, and start doing instead of focusing too much on my story. 

What I mean by the above is that I’m realizing how much our inner voice and what we say to others matters

If I keep thinking how miserable I am, and keep telling my story in that way, well, my perspective and belief system starts following that idea, too. I started to change my perspective and be mindful of how I tell my story. 

I started to be more aware with whom I was spending my time with. More importantly, to whom and to what I was giving my attention to. I started to break free from those self-imposed burdens.

I feel different since then. I feel that I’m reaching a different level of consciousness and awareness. I’m calmer, less reactive. My friends and colleagues tell me that I look different, happier, and at peace. 

I’m changing my story. I’m changing my environment and relationships. I’m not surviving for now, I’m living a different story. I’m confident that more challenges and set backs will come.

I won’t let them take me down gently when it happens.

Thank you for reading.

Mondai nai,

-Ernesto

Rx to Self: Part Four

Rx to Self: Part Four

This post is part of a series of experiences on healthcare. From realizations, patient navigation, and the implications of being divided by a border.

Symptom: Trying to do beyond of what I’m capable of, without proper rest

At the beginning, I was having between two to three hours of sleep at best. Specially the night when I took grandpa to the Emergency Department.

I’ve done this before for others in the US, but not in Mexico. While he didn’t need an ambulance, I took him because he was showing signs of a hearth attack.

I asked him to gather all his paperwork. I packed the medicines and lab work. I drove him to the hospital. 

Then I started thinking when he drove me to the doctor 11 years ago.

Things changed a lot for me since then.

Now things were going to change for him.

I felt that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing.

We both knew that I was scared of not making it on time. Hell, we were both scared.

And there we where, driving at night. Sharing small talk and lots of silence. We didn’t had a proper meal during the day, nor the night. We weren’t hungry, or tired. We were unusually calmed and worried at the same time.

Call it being fine with chaos.

Rx to Self: Have your meals and rest in order to get things done

Rx to Self: Part Three

Rx to Self: Part Three

This post is part of a series of experiences on healthcare. From realizations, patient navigation, and the implications of being divided by a border.

Symptom: Misinformation and poor communication 

I tend to do things on my own for most of the time. The idea of self-sufficiency is something that I look up to. When my family and I were figuring out the logistics for my grandpa’s treatment, things got complicated. 

Communication was key during these times. Specially for my father and myself because we were taking action at the early stages.

However, due to the nature of the situation, I didn’t realize that my father and I had to do plenty of crowd control within the family. 

We had to be rational, assertive, and sometimes rude to some of our family members and friends. The reason for this was that there were plenty of individuals that had the best intentions to help, but in fact were causing unnecessary drama, distraction, and stress.

It sounds harsh at first, but imagine this situation: suppose that you were waiting for a doctor’s call at a given time, a matter of life and death. Suddenly, your phone gets blasted with phone calls and text messages from numbers that you don’t even know. 

How would you feel and what would you do?

Keeping in mind that you might be sleep derived, hungry, possibly anxious, and on edge. Would you like to answer to all of these messages, unknown callers and tell them the whole story? What if you miss the phone call that you actually need?

Rx to self: Focus and be in the moment, for who needs it, and for your own peace of mind

This is when I had to minimize distractions. Prioritizing and basically ignoring a lot of attention requests. I needed my whole cognitive, rational, and emotional stability in order to perform on what mattered at the moment. 

What I was experiencing with my phone was, in a way, what in the social sciences is known as mass hysteria. At a given point, there was a rumor within my own family that my grandpa was basically dead, and that we had prepare for the funeral.

While it’s understandable that we worry about this life and death situations, it’s important to realize that it’s dangerous to assume the worst and treat it as a fact. It’s as if you already lost the fight without even trying, and actually feeling depressed already.

However, once that digital communication issue was minimized, we had a system going on. The right people was helping us out, and I’m forever thankful for their time and care. We were finally getting things on track and the unknown was less intimidating.

We were living the present and being proactive, instead of reactive. Less worrying and more doing.

In short: even on this type of situations, you still have the right to choose to who you give your time and attention. Most importantly, you don’t owe anybody any explanations. That night I was reassured about that.

All of these unnecessary attention requests and explanatory demands happened when I took my grandpa to the emergency department. 

That moment I felt an aversion to distraction.

But goddamn, I was focused.

No time for emotions or worries. 

It was time to act and listen.

Rx to Self: Part Two

Rx to Self: Part Two

This post is part of a series of experiences on healthcare. From realizations, patient navigation, and the implications of being divided by a border.

Symptom: Not having health insurance

I didn’t really had an idea how to find, and be able to qualify for health insurance for my grandpa in Mexico. My intention at this stage was to get him on the healthcare system. I looked for options online to find possibilities on the private insurance sector. 

It turned out unsuccessful. 

My grandpa didn’t qualify for those insurances because of his advanced age and his now pre-existing heart condition. Also, for the couple of insurances that didn’t have an age cap, there was just not enough information to make a decision on them. Mainly because there were new.

I looked at binational health insurances that were tailored for individuals that cross the border on either side to get healthcare. Again, while they provided great services, prices, and co-pay options, my grandpa couldn’t qualify for them either.

By this point it was believed that he needed a pacemaker, therefore, surgery was necessary. Without proper health insurance, this procedure was too expensive given our socioeconomic status. 

I had a feeling of emptiness and few options. 

I managed to get both of my grandparents government insurance as a last resort. However, I was lost on how things worked.

Thankfully, there were people giving us their wisdom, time, and expertise. 

I was clueless, but not alone anymore. 

Rx to self: Think about your longterm health, and the health of your loved ones, too

Rx to Self: Part One

Rx to Self: Part One

This post is part of a series of experiences on healthcare. From realizations, patient navigation, and the implications of being divided by a border.

Symptom: I was taking the health of my loved one for granted

This idea applies to myself and to my loved one, my grandpa. For instance, just because I’ve never seen my loved one ill, it doesn’t mean that nothing is going on inside. Its like a great looking car, and assuming that runs fine. 

Until the car starts giving you signals that something is wrong.

 Along the way, you realize that the car its a classic, and that it has been on the road for quite sometime. And because it never really had any problems, you rarely gave it service other than gasoline and oil change.

You realize that taking anything or anyone for granted is in itself wishful thinking, to the point of believing that things shouldn’t change too much in life. 

Rx to Self: Question your assumptions

I’m talking about the impermanence of life. The first time you experience your own memento mori. The moment of awareness of your own mortality and its almost unpredictable end.  

After my own first attempt, I realized that it didn’t take much for me to do it, and with no hesitation. However, when someone you love and care about deeply is showing signs that life is compromised, the story is different. 

I felt the necessity of being present in the moment. I wanted share and experience life with my grandpa before it was too late. After all, he was the one who raised me and took care of me during dark times. 

It hit me hard when I got notified that something was wrong with him, and that there wasn’t a clear answer at the time. The uncertainty was nerve-racking.

Also, I felt guilt because at the time I wasn’t visiting him as much. 

My excuses were many. For instance, that I’m over-scheduled, that I have to cross the border back and forth in order to see him, and that in itself made me anxious and could trigger symptoms.

All of that bullshit vanished after knowing that he was ill. It was time to take action and prepare for the unknown. I wanted to be part of the process and provide help. It was my way of giving back.

This happened during the winter break. 

I never felt so focused, motivated, and with a courage that I didn’t even know I had.

It was time to get my act together and help my grandpa have a better quality of life. I wanted to do it, and that’s all I cared at the time. 

The problem was that I had no clue on how to navigate a healthcare system that wasn’t the USA. 

I had a lot of unanswered questions.

Time was running out.

Angry With A Choice

Angry With A Choice

Choosing how to react when something happens to you is a skill. I’ve been practicing it during the winter break. It’s knowing that you are in control of your reaction, regardless of the emotion being present.

This practice comes handy during times when your only option is to be strong.

Continue reading “Angry With A Choice”

New Year’s Evening

New Year’s Evening

It was a cold, rainy evening. I had a cold, and I didn’t really wanted to go out. That was my comfort zone claiming its place. I’m glad that I didn’t let it take over.

This New Year’s Evening was one to remember. My partner and I made some home made pizza. The pizza base was made of cauliflower (?). I didn’t knew it existed, and it tasted like the real thing.

I was recovering from a week of poor sleep, and I passed out on the couch. We were watching a podcast on YouTube. By the time I woke up, I believe two hour episodes passed by. 

To my surprise, my partner made home made chocolate chip cookies. I’m not a fan of sweets, but these cookies were good. No bias. 

We decided to go to Balboa Park. The park was close to empty, and it was gorgeous. We started taking lots of photos. It was an awesome experience.

What’ve I learned was to not let my comfort zone take over without asking myself the reason why. Of course, it seemed natural to stay home because I was ill and sleep deprived. I stopped for a second to think why it seemed logical.

It turned out that my reasoning was not enough to justify that decision. I decided to go out and have a good time with my partner. Worst case scenario, if I started feeling worse, we could just drive home.

In short, when you make a decision based on your comfort zone, ask yourself why, and see if you can justify it. 

I’ve been able to sleep well for a couple of days. I’m slowly returning to baseline. I’m excited for the future.

Wish you health, success, and strength for this New Year.

Thank you for reading,

-Ernesto