Hello mental health champions, how are you doing?
I have been hanging in there. A quick update for anyone that may be a religious reader of this blog, (I hope there are some of you out there! LOL) I have actually switched my mental health medication. I actually have shared a bit about my journey to find a medication that works for me. As I have mentioned in my other posts, I have been fighting going on mental health medication since I was in seventh grade. I started Lexapro in July. It changed my life. I was pretty much always happy and in a good mood. I had literally ZERO anxiety. However, it did trigger a big issue with binging. This issue went on for a couple weeks in the beginning of me taking the medication. It finally went away in August. However, I continued to gain a LOT of weight with no diet change- meaning that I was eating the same that I did prior to starting the medication. I continued to gain weight insanely fast and now in December, I am now 35 pounds heavier than I was in July. I have struggled with this decision for a while, but I have decided to switch my medication to Wellbutrin. I have literally just started it, so I will keep you all updated! However, when you switch medication, it can be very difficult to cope. I did ween off of the Lexapro for about a month. But, as many of you probably know, these medications alter your literal brain chemistry, which can make you feel super weird. So with that being said, my mental health hasn’t been top notch this past week. And as I have mentioned before, I want you all to know that even though I am a mental health advocate, I still struggle with my own health from time to time and that is OKAY. So there is just my little update and reminder that it is okay to not always have a great mental health week.
With that being said, I wanted to take today to talk about creating safe spaces for yourself. This can be really really tough when we are in something like this quarantine. Over the years, I have tried to create safe spaces for myself both figuratively and literally. I wanted to talk first about figuratively. Sometimes, we don't feel safe in the atmosphere we’re in. For me, I generally can get anxiety in a classroom. I sometimes get this feeling of being trapped and it makes it very hard for me to relax and feel safe. When I feel like I need a safe space for my brain to go to, there are a couple different things I think of. One is admittedly a little off-colored but actually has helped me in times of distress. My old counselor actually told me this and I found it funny, which would ease my anxiety and a good way to make me feel protected. Want to take a guess? Well we are talking about CONDOMS- yes condoms. It’s weird, I know. But this was how she explained it to me. She said when you feel scared, imagine yourself in a giant condom. You are protected and safe from anything the outside world can throw at you. It is similar to your own little cocoon. But condoms are just funnier to think about. Another thing you can picture is some peaceful scene like as if you are on the beach, in a forest, near beautiful mountains, or in a rustic cabin. I also try to picture times when I felt happiest and safe. That can also be in the arms of your lover or hugging a family member. This immediately helps to ease me. If you are struggling with panic attacks, please check out my blog post about panic that I did a couple weeks ago!
Now I want to chat about an actual physical safe space. I personally think that you should have a couple. I think it is very important to have one safe space in your home. I personally think that a room can be a safe space, but the more specific you are, the better. I personally used to love my closet. I would love to just sit in there even for 5 mins to just collect my thoughts and feel safe. You can even create a safe space in one small corner of your home. Your brain will remember how you felt in that space before and eventually, your body will recognize that as a safe space and somewhere where you are able to calm down and relax. A safe space can also be on a certain item of furniture that brings you comfort. I recommend having at least one safe space in your home. I also think a garage could be a really safe space too. Usually the garage is also a different temperature from your house which can actually help you relax during a panic attack. A change of scenery is sometimes all it takes to help minimize your anxiety and panic.
Now with Covid, finding a safe space away from home may seem like it is challenging, but it is actually easier than you would think. I personally feel like nature calms me down. When I am really struggling and want a safe space, I tend to always choose something nature related. I also find driving as a safe space personally. Many times throughout my life when I struggled, I would go for a ride and clear my mind. I would listen to music or scream by myself. It was a great release for me. During this winter quarantine, I recommend driving (if you have a car) to a scenic place. For me, I love the city and if it is safe, I would drive to the Shedd Aquarium downtown. There is a small road that I would park on and you can see the entire city. It is absolutely beautiful and so relaxing. You can see the beautiful Lake Michigan and it truly is incredible. Another idea is driving to the top of a parking garage in an area with a view. Look over the beautiful sky and you can feel a sense of calmness roll over you. I also love the forest. Sometimes, I may just drive through the forest or park in a spot and just look at the beautiful trees.
I actually mentioned this last week too but another thing that is kind of fun just for a change of scenery is changing where you sleep. I used to love this when I was younger because it always felt like such a party and vacation for some reason. Maybe try blowing up a mattress in your living room, sleeping on the couch, or making a fun fort. Sometimes the change of scenery can seriously help change your mood. If you’re living in a smaller home with not much actual “living room”, it can feel very overwhelming feeling trapped in your room. This way, you can get a change of scenery and kind of fool your mind into thinking you're somewhere else. I used to do this and have a movie night. I would make popcorn and candy and absolutely loved it. It was honestly so fun and nice for a change!
Listen here folks- times are hard, there is no lie there. We all know that this whole year has been so unprecedented. BUT- we do have some control. We do have some ways to safely get out of the house. We do have some ways to switch up our scenery and try to change your day so that not everyday is the exact same, which for me is how this whole quarantine has felt! Anyone else? LOL!
Talk to you soon brain battlers, Gracie <3
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