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  

From My Journal

From My Journal

The following line is from my journal:

I’m scared of how much damage I can do. 

The reason for that is due to the damage I’ve caused to people I love.

The problem is that I tend to realize it once I’ve done it. I feel that my intention is never to cause distress to others. Still, I manage to say things that do just that. 

These situations don’t happen often. When they do, however, I feel puzzled and with inner conflict. I’m glad that most of them end up being resolved after talking things out. 

But the damage was there.

I feel that the reason it happens is because I stop being present. I get into a negative thinking trap. That’s when I see this pattern happening.  

What I’m going to do is to take one-second of awareness. I was reminded of this recently. 

Realizing where I am, with whom, and in what setting. Attune myself with my environment and with the people around me because I tend to be day dreaming a lot. That makes me detached from the present moment a lot, making me unaware with what’s going on.

Meanwhile, I got the opportunity to share a moment of meditation with someone important to me. It was a great experience to share that mindful moment.

This time it felt different. I felt that I lost myself and became one with the environment. I had my eyes open when this was happening. 

I’m hoping to reach that state of awareness and interconnectedness again. 

And to close this post, I would like to end with this:

I’m happy of how much calmness I can share.

Mondai nai,

-Ernesto

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.

Morita Therapy

Morita Therapy

Recently, while having a moment of anxiety, I discovered that I was doing a version of Morita therapy as a way of dealing with my symptoms. This type of therapy comes from Japanese psychology. Today, I am sharing with you what I am learning about it, and how it is helping me.

Continue reading “Morita Therapy”