It’s been a few months since I’ve written about the state of my mental health. A lot of instances of my reporting were the high points returning. I have seen a lot more highs lately versus lows but I have also come to terms with the normalcy of the lows that sometimes come my way. I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder last year around this time and I am proud to say that I am feeling a ton better since then. This time last year I was desperate to find a way to be cured from my anxiety and never have to deal with it again. There had to be a way to completely shake this debilitating disorder and I was hellbent on finding on it. I hated feeling like I was a constant burden to myself and to my family and friends. Thankfully, I found a therapist that I could be comfortable with and began the bulk of the healing work that needed to be done. I use the term healing because I am a lot better off than I was last year. It is a blanket term to describe the progress I’ve made from my lowest to date to the empowerment I feel through therapy and the acceptance of my emotions that come and go.
Will I ever be fully healed? No, I will not. However, the acceptance that anxiety is a part of the human condition has been an incredible relief. I’ve had too many days and nights thinking I was somehow broken because I couldn’t walk two feet without feeling dizzy or feeling like I would die at any moment. The physical symptoms and intrusive thoughts were terrifying at first encounter but now I am able to name these things and realize that they are something I can handle when they come up, rather than fear the unknown. I am able to use the tools I’ve learned in therapy, the tools I’ve learned in the Dare Program and meditation with headspace and find ways to become grounded at my baseline again.
It’s been a tremendous road of ups and downs and I still have downs some days. Rejoining a world in a pandemic sometimes leaves me terrified but I now have a strength that I never had before. I have the strength that moods and feelings all pass like the metaphorically storm that they are and whatever comes my way will be handled. I am eternally grateful.
My first experience with social media began on MySpace in 2003. I was able to keep up with my friends, display my favorite colors and style at the time on my homepage, rate all of my friends and shove the besties into a top 8 and follow all the celebrities and musicians I loved at that age. It was a very similiar set up to the social media’s we all have now. Everyone was connected and was able to post anything that crossed their minds all in the click of a button. MySpace felt very innocent compared to the present day version of social media content we know today. Social Media is no longer just about connection with others; it’s a source of income, a lot of people’s news sources, and a place where opinions are rampant and often portrayed as fact.
With all that being said, I still have accounts. I’m on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter; all for a variety of different reasons but the main reason is for connection. As you age, you tend to be apart from loved ones or just people you generally want to keep up with. Everyone gets their own lives and gets busy so I find social media useful to be able to keep in contact with family, friends, and people in my community I wish to as well. I also like to use it as a form of self-expression through photographs, statuses, etc. It’s my way of leaving my mark on the world and being able to let others know how I am and what I’m up to. However, my relationship with social media isn’t completely benign.
Obviously, it is at the discretion of the user to filter the intake of information that they see on social media. It is our responsibility to fact check our sources, mute the crazy, and unfollow the nonsense. However, I think some of this should also be placed on the creators. The idea that anyone can get an account and usually post or advertise whatever they want with little to no consequence is concerning. We live in a world where people want information and products at the click of a button and their main resource is social media. I think the people and companies utilizing this popular outlet should be held accountable. Our world is left vulnerable by this ability and it allows too many people to buy into falsehoods and harmful rheortic that can be hurtful to a lot of people in our world.
My relationship with social media stands as a love-hate relationship. Most of the time I’m grateful for the ability of connection. A lot of the time I’m frustrated with the misinformation and the little no accountability for it. I think if accontability played a bigger role on these platforms, we can all continue to maintain connection while benefitting from the removal misinformation and hateful comments.
I found the Dare Book in 2019 when I saw excerpts from chapters on a high school friend’s Instagram page. The pages I saw were detailed ways to get passed your anxiety and different ways to do it. I was instantly curious after seeing his page and purchased the book to get the full experience of what was written. Within a few chapters of reading the book, I became very intrigued by what was written. My anxiety had begun to peak during planning my wedding and then just stayed at a level 11 after getting fired from a job I was at for four years and having to look for another job while planning my wedding. I needed something to take the edge off of my anxiety and the book became the perfect way to do that without having to partake in therapy at the time. I wrote a full review about the book, I’ll link it here.
The book was just the start of my DARE journey. The book later was accompanied by an app where I was granted access after paying a yearly fee of $59.99 to a full library of different audios to help soothe my anxiety in real time. The author of DARE, Barry McDonagh narrated all the audios and used his soothing voice to assist the users in calming down, help them remember that they are not alone, and explain all the different types of anxieties that people go through to further educate you about each kind. In my case, hearing Barry explain the types of anxieties almost verbatim to what I was experiencing was cathartic. I have always been labeled a hypochondraic so having someone explain how common it was to be feeling what I was feeling felt amazing. It was proof that I wasn’t crazy and could continue to work the steps of DARE and eventually find a stable mental place.
The app resources began to expand over time as more people began to use it. Eventually, Daily Dares were incorporated which spoke about different parts of mental health and how to help combined with a daily guided visualization to help assist in calming your nerves throughout the day. I used these a lot at the height of Covid in NYC. I was very disregulated and having this resource to utilize daily was helpful in attempting to maintain a baseline level of anxiety. The evening winddown was added in months and new master classes around mental health. The app membership also offers monthly calls with licensed therapists where you can ask questions about how to use the resources but also general questions as well.
I think the price of the app is well worth the cost because it provides multiple resources within the apps but also access to group calls with therapists at your discretion. I would personally recommend this app for people who suffer from anxiety. It has aided mine and allowed me to realize that the more resistance you give anxiety, the worst it gets. Let it go and let it flow!
For a long time, I was very much against the idea of meditation. I didn’t see a purpose for it. I thought that I would immediately fall asleep having someone speak in a calm soft voice to me and be instantly bored. However, when I was in the height of my mental health struggles, I was desperate to try anything to find some sort of relief. I tried a few different apps on my phone as a means to relax and get away from social media. I finally found Headspace and was able to get exactly what I needed to help quell my anxiety and assist with the sleeping issues that comes with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
Headspace has a detailed meditation library that offers meditation courses, single, live and SOS meditations for your in the moment needs or daily use. Headspace also provides focus/sleep music playlists, focus/sleep soundscapes, sleepcasts, and short videos that are labeled as advice of all kinds to help assist your needs and better your mental health. In my experience, I found the guided meditations the most helpful. I used a variety of meditations centered around calming my body down and breathwork to help my racing mind throughout the day. Some of my favorite guided mediations are Alone Time, the WFH series, Taking a Break, and the Self-Love meditation. Each of these were able to be applied to my exact needs and help me gather my thoughts and feel more grounded throughout the day instead of fixated on worries and the constant need for the control of every thought and sensation that would feel like it would race through my body. All of these meditations are offered by different meditation coaches each providing their own calming cadence and structure to the meditation. I also used sleep mediations to help me fall asleep faster at night. The relaxing voice of the founder Andy Puddicome was able to calm my nerves nightly and get me into a comfortable sleep cycle.
As someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder, I would reccommend this app to anyone who’s looking for a way to calm their bodies and mind. I’ve learned that once both are connected and quieted, it makes life’s daily functions a lot easier and your ability to sleep a lot better.
I am born and raised in New York City, I’ve seen I love NY plastered on cups, plastic bags, postcards, just about anything you can put print on. New Yorkers wear our city like a badge of pride. Most of us are very proud to be from here and truly mean it when we say we love NY.
This weekend has me experiencing reflective and grateful emotions. Emotions about 9/12/2001, the day after the towers were hit and how affected I was by what I saw as a child and how proud I was to see the entire world rally behind our state. In our hour of need, I saw so many people do whatever it took to help others and foster very much needed compassion for the horrid moment. I remember how inspired I was by this and took it upon myself to use my confirmation service hours to collect supplies for first responders at the World Trade Center who needed them. New York proved that in the face of tragedy we can come together when it really counts.
I also have a lot of gratitude for my city for the events from this year as well. We all collectively went through hell and are doing our best daily to bounce back. There are so many things I never thought I’d get to do or see again. The NY Pause gave me a lot of perspective for just how much I love NY and all it has to offer. It’s so easy to get caught up in the daily grind of it all and only fixate on all the inconveniences that come with day-to-day life in a city. The saying “You never know what you have until it’s gone” applies here. I found myself missing the commute, the ability to be in the mix of all different types of people, the subway, and the coffee on the go. I was surprisingly sad about all of the loss of all of these things. I was devastated to see Broadway go dark and see Times Square appear abandoned.
A lot of these dramatic retroactively but it’s the perspective I needed and the restart to falling back in love with my beautiful city. We are a place of diversity of all kinds, silent acceptance where it’s not always seen, and a haven for anyone who’s willing to put the work into their dreams. Every activity I get to resume, I resume with gratitude beyond anything I’ve imagined. I am thankful for the little things again and so proud to be a New Yorker.
I’m including an old post explaining some of the things I love about New York. It’s an old unjaded post but I feel like it’s so fun to look back on because it explains some of my favorite reasons why I am so in love with this city. Feel free to check out if you’d like. New York, New York, it’s a helluva town! (No, it really is!)