The Physical Side of Anxiety

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            While the world still has a strong stigma against mental health, there are more efforts today being made to understand many of the different mental health disorders. Much of the younger generation has worked to help the older generation understand how things like depression and anxiety effect the lives of people who have these disorders. More and more people are beginning to understand the effects of these things on the mind, but what about their effects on the body? How does something that is entirely brain related effect your physical being? These are the things we often don’t think about, unless of course, they are things that affect us personally. Mind aside, what are the physical effects of anxiety?

            When you have an extended period of time where your mind is riddled with anxiety, it can begin to take its toll on your body. I’m not talking about the migraines and digestive issues that are extremely common side effects of chronic anxiety (both of which I experience on a regular), I’m talking about common things people feel all the time… from physical activity. Anxiety is exhausting. All you want to do is lay in bed, because even the simplest of tasks completely wear you out. Your arms and legs feel like you did an intense work out, your feet ache with every step, your neck is sore, your shoulders throb, your back is stiff, and that’s the stuff easiest to manage. Soon after, your heart is racing, your head is throbbing, your whole body shakes and twitches, and you can hear your blood pounding in your ears. Your throat and mouth are dry and your body can’t seem to decide if it’s hot or cold. It leaves you feeling drained, and it seems like there is a fog surrounding you, dulling your senses. All you want to do is sleep, but you’re far too anxious for that. So, there you sit, trapped in your own mind, feeling your own body slowly turn against you.

            Anxiety is far more than a simple disease of the mind; it effects every single part of you. So, don’t say that anxiety is an excuse to lay around all day. Don’t say that anxiety is easily overcome. Don’t say that anxiety is all in your head. It’s draining and exhausting. It’s unbelievably difficult to manage. It goes much further than just the brain. Instead of belittling us for falling down, applaud us for having the strength to get up.

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To the People who Voted for Donald Trump

Let me start by saying that I try not to judge people based on their political views. As long as you respect mine, I will respect yours, no matter how different. We are all allowed to have our differing opinions when it comes to politics, however in the case of Donald Trump- to me- it is not a political issue- it’s a moral issue. A moral issue that I can’t seem to understand. Before I launch into this post, usual disclaimer: I will not tolerate hate on my page so put it elsewhere. I will not have an online argument with you and I will not put up with bullying from anybody. If you can’t respect that, you may find yourself banned from my page. Everything I say in this post is not meant to be hateful. I am simply trying to understand how people can continue to support him, because I cannot wrap my head around it no matter how hard I try. So this post is for those of you who continue to defend him.

Trump’s campaign ran on the slogan “Make America Great Again.” Please explain to me how straining many of our foreign relations making America great again? How is becoming the laughing stock of the world making America great again? How is cutting funding to education making America great again? How is increasing the cost of college education making America great again? How is taking rights away from rape victims making America great again? How is giving rapists more rights than their victims making America great again? How is banning people from war torn countries from entering making America great again? How is calling Muslims terrorists making America great again? How is defunding the National Park Forests making America great again? How is destroying the EPA making America great again? How is ignoring climate change making America great again? How is taking away the Clean Water Act making America great again? How is the increase in hate crimes since his inauguration making America great again?

You blame people on Government assistance programs for the increasing debt in America, but you don’t seem to have a problem with millions of dollars of our taxes going towards Trump’s golf games. You said ensuring everyone in this country had healthcare would ruin this country, but you seem to be fine with Trump giving huge tax cuts to the top 1% while the middle class picks up the slack. We have a president who hides behind a Twitter page, degrades women and mental disabled, and pushes another world leader back so he can stand in the front, but you still have the audacity to say he is what’s best for this country. He was the first president since Nixon (who was the first) to fire the Director of the FBI, but you still want to offer him your support. Flint has lead in their water, schizophrenics can buy assault weapons again, the Secretary of Education has never attended a public school, and the head of the EPA is against environmental protection, but you still have the nerve to tell me that I’m “just being a snowflake?”

You can call me a snowflake or a libtard or weak or whiney; whatever you would like. To me, those words mean I care. I care about others. I have compassion and empathy, especially to those who need it the most. I care about people without healthcare. I care about people who can’t afford food. I care about people who can’t afford to seek a higher education. I care about people who are working at minimum wage, and are barely able to live off their wages. I would much rather be a snowflake than a selfish block of ice.

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The Line

When you are the type of person who consistently puts other people before yourself, the strain of keeping everyone happy can wear on you. It makes you terrified to make a decision at the risk of making someone unhappy, which causes you to avoid making them if you can. In those instances that making choices is unavoidable, you triple question yourself before you make one on even the simplest of things. But where do you draw the line? At what point do you put your own sanity first? The problem is, for those of us who rarely put ourselves first, people become used to this, causing them to be surprised when we finally do something for ourselves. But like everything unfamiliar, there are consequences to this. Putting ourselves first comes with a price. Sometimes that price is someone is in a bad mood, sometimes it’s a fight, and sometimes it’s losing people all together.

At what point does your own sanity no longer come before your friends? Is keeping your mind healthy worth the consequence of losing those you care about most? Where is the line, and on what side do you go on? Do you remain on the one side; constantly giving pieces of yourself to others until there’s nothing less, or do you cross the line to save your own mind? Once you cross, how hard is it to cross back? Can you ever go back? Is the consequence of losing your friends worth not losing yourself? Is it worth being happy if the people you care about the most aren’t there to share it with you? Is feeling safe worth feeling lonely? I don’t know. I wish I did, but I’m lost.

Here’s what I do know: I know that my mind is finally at ease. I know that I don’t feel afraid to walk alone. I know that I sleep better at night. I know that I feel safe again. I also know that I am terrified now for a whole new reason. I know that I have lost two of the most important friends in my life. I know that I don’t have as good of relationships with people as I thought. I know that remaining on the other side of the line would have been easier in some ways and impossible in others. I know that I feel more alone now than ever. I know that this is ripping me apart from the inside. I know that losing my friends hurts so much more than I thought.

How dare I put myself first? How dare I want to feel safe? How dare I do something inside of just enduring? How dare I not think of how this would affect everyone else? How dare I cross that line? How dare I think for one second that anyone would attempt to look at things from my point of view? How dare I forget who I am supposed to be.

Small Great Things

“If I cannot do great things, let me do small things in a great way.” That statement is one of Dr. King’s best known quotes; it is also where Jodi Picoult got the title for her book, which in my opinion is a modern day Native Son. Told from the perspective of a black nurse unfairly accused of the murder of a newborn, a white supremacist who is the father of said newborn, and a white public defender who “doesn’t see color,” this book charges head on at a topic that has been brushed over far too much: racism.

Ruth Jefferson, a black nurse who has been working at the same hospital for 20 years, finds herself caring for a baby who had been born the night before to a white supremacist couple. Shaken by the black nurse touching their newborn, the couple demands that she not be allowed to touch their son. Two days later, Ruth finds herself being left in charge of the baby during an emergency situation. Noticing that the baby has stopped breathing, Ruth is faced with a choice; risk her job to try and save the baby or follow the orders she had been given by her superior. In the chain of events that follow, Ruth finds herself at the end of a murder charge and represented by a white public defender named Kennedy. Kennedy tells Ruth time and time again that race has no place in the courtroom, despite the fact this case would not exist if Ruth had been white. Told from three strikingly different perspectives, Small Great Things encourages us all to see the world around for what is truly is: biased.

The book raises the question, what if everyone who had been born on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday were given more opportunities than those born later in the week. They were given better access to jobs and education among many other privileges. It seems silly; you can’t control the day of the week you’re born on. But when you replace “Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday” with “white” and “later in the week” with “black,” it suddenly doesn’t seem so silly. Now some of you may thinking I have no place to be talking about racism because I am a white person, and you’re not wrong. I don’t know what it’s like to be discriminated simply because I have darker skin. I don’t know what it’s like to have people stare when I walk into a restaurant because of my skin color. I don’t know what’s it’s like to watch people pull their belongings closer to them or to have people inch away from me because I am not a white person. I don’t know how it feels to be a person of color. But I do know how it feels to see my black friends be genuinely afraid of the police. I know how it feels to see my Latino friends worry about the safety of themselves and their families. I know how it feels to worry when my black friend is walking home alone at night. I know how it feels when the police drive by extra slow when they see me, a white girl, walking at night with my friends, who happen to be black guys, but never bother to slow down when those friends are white. It makes me feel angry. It makes feel afraid. It makes me feel ashamed.

Now you can claim that you aren’t a racist, but you don’t have to be a white supremacist to be a racist. You are being racist when you are surprised that the person in charge is a black man. You are being racist when you become hyper aware of your behavior around people of color, because god forbid they view you as prejudice. You are being racist when you complain about there being more scholarship opportunities for people of color, never minding the fact that they system has worked in your favor your whole life. You are being racist when you ignore the problem that is so clearly in front of you. Just because you don’t realize it, doesn’t mean it’s not hurting people of color. You can keep denying it, but that doesn’t make it go away. All it does is add to the problem. Racism is very much alive in the United States, and it’s time we stopped pretending it isn’t. It’s time to stop seeing the world in black and white, and start seeing it in color.

We all have biases, and we all make judgements about people, whether we know them or not. The key is to stop pretending they don’t exist and start owning them. That is the only way they will ever change. Change starts with an individual; it may seem small. How can one person make a difference? But small things turn in to great things.

This book is must read for people of all race, gender, religion: everyone. It’s a captivating story that forces you to learn more about the world you live in as well as about yourself. As the book mentions, we all shave ourselves down to fit into the puzzle, but no one ever bothers to just change the puzzle all together. It’s not someone else’s job to fix the world we live in; it’s ours.

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