Preparate: long read alert

Hola mi gente chismosa! Welcome back or bienvenidos if it’s your first visit. It won’t be your last, te lo prometo jeje. Que padre weekend we had! So much fun in the sun, we really made the most of the first weekend of Summer. Viva el verano!! Pero como siempre, we play hard and we work hard. Entonces, ahora I’m catching up on several things en la casa: laundry, cooking and prepping for the week ahead. It’s our ultima semana de la escuela and we couldn’t be more thrilled and ready for some time off. Yuppi!!

Hoy vamos a chismear about something I’ve been hesitant about fully sharing with you, pero it’s about time. It’s a big reason and driving force behind even starting this Blog and investing into my writing. It has made me doubt myself, broken me until I crumbled to pieces and abandoned me in an unknown world of darkness and despair. Pero, ultimately has shown me beauty, taught me patience and self worth, and proven my strength and determination countless times over. Te presento: Anxiety. With a side of Sabritas Limon <– all the way from Mexico!! Love mi Amaaaa! You the real MVP.

La confianza is an integral part of your being and self worth. It will be your driving force when facing new experiences and challenges. Para mi, mi confianza didn’t really come into play until highschool. Antes de eso, I would have never used the word “confident” to describe myself. I was quiet, shy and never wanted to look silly or wrong. High school was a new experience, new beginnings, new friends and a new lifestyle. Cuando I made the cheerleading team, my confianza grew tremendously. I felt accepted, valued, encouraged by my peers (same age and older). Empece meeting new amigos who thought I was so interesting because of my background and cultura. Cosas that I truly valued, but had kept somewhat hidden growing up. Esto made mi confianza sky rocket. Ademas, travelling back and forth a Toronto (to visit mi hermano) and vacationing in Mexico every year, made me feel even more secure with being different. Finalmente!

Cuando termine el High school, I knew I wanted to go away for mi educacion. Mi confianza with knowing myself, knowing what I was capable of and knowing what I wanted to achieve was what fueled my goals to become my reality. Hasta my dad would tell me, “I don’t know how you will do it”, without his financial support. Pero, I was determined and confident that I would. No sabia como, pero I know I would find a way to make it work. The amount of confianza I had back then is just SO Kanye level jajaja. Like como que a 17 year old girl, fresh out of High school was going to move to Ottawa sola, to start University and live independently?! It sounds absolutely outrageous now, especially que soy mama – I cannot even imagine mi chamaca doing that. Me muero jajaja. Pero con confianza y ganas, si se puede.

Hasta hoy, mi confianza is a huge driving force for me. Even with this whole Blog adventure, which I hesitated 2 whole years to do, I’m constatamente second guessing myself. Pero, mi confianza and passion for this to become something bigger is what keeps me going.

Having confianza doesn’t mean that you’re the best, or that everything is perfect for you, or that you don’t have struggles. Solamente significa that despite having bad days, experiencing challenges and even failing at things, you’re still positive and know that you did your best and will continue to do so la proxima vez. I can admit when I’m wrong, when I messed something up, when there was a better way of doing something, when I’ve made the worst decisions – pero mi confianza didn’t change. I’m still me, y tener confianza doesn’t mean I’m perfect or the best. I just know that I love who I am, and that I will do MY best en cualquier situacion. Y no todos need to agree with it and that’s okay.

Let’s flashback to fall of 2017. Mi primer Anxiety Attack…

Cuando I experienced mi primera anxiety attack I was left feeling lost and unknown. La primera vez, I was eating chocolate chip cookies y leche (jaja ya tu sabes, los esnacks!!) and I started “feeling funny” as I always describe it. I couldn’t get a hold of myself, I began hyperventilating while pacing mi casa and asking que pasa que pasa? Pues, I hyperventilated so bad that my limbs went numb and I couldn’t even stand. De seguro this was what dying felt like, y pues, here I was about to die. Eso pense, en verdad. Mi esposo called an ambulance and when they arrived all they did was accuse me of smoking marijuana and having a bad trip. UHHH QUE?! Perdon, pero I haven’t smoked that in YEARS and I just breastfed mi bebe who is 5 months old sleeping in her crib upstairs, I am not high. Taken into the hospital, I was put into a cuarto which looked, felt and smelled like a jail cell (I don’t know from experience pero I watch TV). Y de ahi, I was questioned again by a social worker, who still was adamant that I was high. Okaaaaaaay. I felt like such a victim, like someone with no rights, no value – quickly to be judged for something I did not do, and needed help for something I was legit experiencing. Entiendo that there are ways to these things, regulations and procedures to follow, pero they can be done in more respectful and caring way.

Cuando empece having Postpartum Anxiety symptoms, and later be diagnosed with severe Anxiety, mi confianza had pretty much disappeared. Ya estaba en a downward spiral de todos modos, pero actually being diagnosed was scary and embarrassing. Pense como si everyone would know about it, y que I would be judged or pitied because of it.

Durante my early stages of anxiety, I totally felt self conscious all the time y por todo. Esto fue completamente new for me, since I had never experienced such levels of self consciousness as I did ahora. I would second guess myself with every decision, every reaction, every conversation and replay casi todo over and over again, analyzing myself and if I did it “right”. The worst and most painful part of experiencing being so self conscious fue that I hated how I looked physically. I hated looking in the mirror, I hated hearing the comments from todos (and I got them often, creeame!), I hated how clothes fit – or wouldn’t fit, y I hated being me as a new mom of two.

Pero mujer, porque? Porque this diagnosis of Anxiety was just so overwhelmingly challenging. I have always been a skinny, tall girl – desde los chamaca days. During my pregnancies I only put on about 25-28 lbs both times and quickly lost the few extra pounds afterwards. Pero, after having Mireya and developing Anxiety, I had the HARDEST time maintaining my weight, never mind gaining weight. Y se notaba.

Experiencing Anxiety, severe Anxiety at that, I was constatamente in fight or flight mode y mi cuerpo was burning through calories like nothing. The uneasy feelings and knots in mi estomago suppressed much of my appetite. Entonces even cuando queria comer, it was difficult to do so. Evidamente I lost more and more weight. To put this all into perspective, since I don’t have before/after pics to show you – pre pregnancy I weighed 125 lbs at 5’9 in height. That was my normal. Between pregnancies I was 128 lbs. Still, my normal. Post pregnancies, I dropped as low as 105 lbs. So scary. So annoying. So frustrating. So ugly. Para mi, anyways.

I didn’t like how I looked. It wasn’t me. Y todo el mundo knew it and would siempre make comments. Esto didn’t help much with my self esteem issues that were quickly growing. I remember countless times coming home from events or familia fiestas and would just cry to mi esposo about how sad I am and ask him if he even still finds me attractive. Claro, he would always say yes, y que ibamos a get through this together. It felt impossible.

Como si everyone and everything in the universe was just out to get me and todos were working against me to make me feel worse and worse. I would take comentarios very personally, I was always second guess la gente, I was thinking there were always other motives y que ultimately, I should just be alone to protect myself. Loca verdad?! It sounds crazy now, pero that’s how it would feel sometimes.

Mi doctora explained that my diagnosis was like being diagnosed with a sprained ankle. It was treatable y con terapia, medicina and time – this too shall pass.  Pero for whatever reason, tal vez my paranoia, I didn’t believe her. Porque this wasn’t a sprained ankle, this is a MENTAL ILLNESS – like WHYYYY do I even have to have this?! Where did this even come from!? Y lo mas importante, WHY ME?!

Cuando te lastimas, like having a sprained ankle, you have to take care of it a certain way – more specific than the average person without a sprained ankle. Pero unlike with sprained ankles, where todo el mundo is supportive, understanding and accommodating – con mental illness, la gente can sometimes make it worse by questioning, probing and pushing. Supongo because mental illness is not something visible, and is algo que mucha gente disguise, hide, and don’t share as easily as “oh I just sprained my ankle, I’ll be better in a couple of weeks,” mental illness is so hard to share, to talk about, to accept – porque we don’t always know why, or how, and we never know if there’s an “end” to it.  

Empece terapia. Yup, I started going to therapy once a week. Al principio, I was sceptical, unsure, and somewhat closed off. Pero I wouldn’t give up on myself and I did not want to have to take medication either. No por nada, I just prefer trying all natural remedies primero and really giving myself a good opportunity with those options first before turning to pharmaceuticals. Te digo, I don’t even take Tylenol or Advil, I didn’t take medication for either of my chamacos’ births – I was determined to try and make this work with alternative methods.

Terapia was the best thing I could have done for myself y mi familia. I grew to enjoy my sessions to the point that I would feel free and light upon leaving. It was a safe space. I found comfort in the conversations, feedback and suggestions my therapist shared with me. She made me aware of so many other things going on around me that I would not have been able to even notice porque I was so deep in my rut.

I slowly began to space out my sessions as I felt mas y mas confident in acknowledging my anxiety, managing my triggers y tambien being able to apply the strategies and coach myself through my attacks independently. Fue como a gradual release technique that we use in the maestra life jaja. Pues it works! My sessions got down to once a month. Fue un processo, pero it was worth every minute (and dollar jajaja) invested in my health and well-being. Ahora, I check in with her when I feel I need to. There isn’t so much a schedule or time frame, solo cuando I feel like I could use some support and guidance.

Aparte, I also started reading. Reading helped me so much in between sessions. Reading about Anxiety, people’s experiencias con Anxiety, even self-help books como el de 10 Habits of a Happy Mother written by Meg Meeker. Esto me ayudo with not feeling so alone. Aunque I knew I wasn’t the first ni la ultima to experience Anxiety or be diagnosed with it, I felt like I was alone. Como si I was the outcast, the one who couldn’t handle la vida, the one who wasn’t a good enough to do it all.

Mucho habia cambiado. Demasiado. I was so different, with such different preferences and habits. I had to get to know myself all over again as “Anxiety Julie” y la verdad, so did mi esposo. Aunque I know that seems a bit extreme, como obviamente I was still me, pero I was dealing with so much at the time, I had no idea where “me” really was, where had she gone and when would she be back?! All I wanted was to just be me again. Sin el Anxiety.

Things I once loved, I couldn’t fathom anymore. Not like when you’re pregnant and all of a sudden you can’t stand even the thought of chicken, pero toda tu vida you loved chicken. Jajaja, it was more extreme and with things I didn’t know would even bother me so much. Como lights, sounds and colours. These external stimuli really had an effect on me y mi Anxiety.

La luz. Light can be altered in various ways to create moods and feelings that in turn provoke thoughts. The lighting in a room, outside or even at events can affect and alter how you feel and go about your dia. Sabes, especially here in Canada we talk about the winter blues, porque winter is sooooo long y no hay tanta sol – without sunlight, we lack VitaminD and all those nice warm feelings that being out in the sun gives us! Cuando it rains for 5 days straight, you may get that lazy, time to cozy up and watch Netflix all day kind of feels. O cuando it’s nice and sunny, you wake up feeling energized and ready to go, vamonos! Andale! Pues, having a mental illness – these factors play and even bigger role.

I hadn’t gone clubbing in a long while. Jajaja, obviamente, I had been pregnant and breastfeeding two little humans one after another, as que it wasn’t my type of scene at the time. Pero, con tiempo – I ventured out for certain events y me acuerdo how the lights would start to trigger feelings in my vision and balance. At the club, not only is the music banging, la gente all sweaty and squished up against each other – las luces are going OFF. We got strobe lights flashing like paparazzi, neon colorful lights shooting across the room in all directions y el smoke machine making things blurry and extra sticky. GAH-ROOOSSSS jajajaja. Pero que me pasa?! I used to love this!! Y ahora, I’m going to yak from the nausea these lights are causing me, or ultimately have a seizure, fall on the floor, get trampled and be left to die (porque my anxious mind always goes to the extreme). Jajaja. Asi que I would always face outwards, away from all these hectic lights causing me more anxiety than I had already felt by leaving mis chamacos and being all the way downtown. Uuuufff, exhausted? Yo tambien! Jaja.

El sonido. Sounds have similar effects as light. Sounds will hit different chakras of your body and stimulate mood, feelings and sexual drive. Dealing with my Anxiety while being a big music lover, has become trickier at times depending on my anxiety levels. He encontrado that if I’m stressed and my anxiety is high, musica and loud noises will wear my patience thin fast and possibly trigger an anxiety attack. Ahora, most beats are hard and deep, hitting certain chakras that have effects on our aggressiveness and sexual drive. Ademas, they’re accompanied by violent and gruesome lyrics that can be toxic for alguna gente to hear while enduring difficult stages in their vidas. Como yo.

Sounds have been a big component to managing my anxiety levels. Cuando I was on Mat Leave with both mis chamacos, you can just imagine the sound levels in mi casa: toddler yelling and talking non-stop, bebe crying or babbling, toys being played with or thrown, TV on in the background, windows open with traffic and outside noise coming in, Chica randomly barking at gente walking by, y eso doesn’t even include my own voice and constant mumbling to myself of things I have to do or remember to do. Jajaja Una locura verdad? Ya se. Entonces, I noticed how irritated I would become when all the noises just became too much. Necesitaba un break. Quiet. Alone. My ears would be ringing from all the commotion and I needed to come back down before my head popped off. Jajaja.

I experienced esto tambien with musica. There were times I couldn’t even listen to my love of Reggaeton por los beats that would just permeate in my head. I would have la radio on while driving and would have to switch the station various times hasta que I would end up on the country station (si, si, I even listen to country jejeje), just to get through the drive. Algo mas calmado and realistic. Otra cosa that would affect me or even trigger me, seria el trafico!! Ugh. Ya se, Toronto is one of the worst in Canada por el trafico. Simple outings would turn into almost road trips con el tiempo that we would spend in the car, grid locked, surrounded by carros upon carros. So. Suffocating. I felt trapped, unable to even SEE an escape, y eso was traumatizing as well as annoying. Ahora soy much more conscious about my outings and the time and places I go, based on how I’m feeling that day. Si puedo, I’ll avoid it or choose something else just to save myself y mi familia the anxiety driven feelings and possible attack.

Colors, al mismo que light and sounds, have an effect on our mood and feelings. Mi ropa and sense of style has always been pretty basic. I’m not always rocking that new-new ish, pero I’m up to date with what’s poppin and I make it fit to ME. Me di cuenta of my sensitivity to color as well, cuando I would go get my nails done. I used to always choose something different cada vez, pero ahora I was sticking to pretty neutral, calm colors: lavenders, nudes, pastel like colors. Un dia, I wanted to get out of my “boring” comfort zone, y be “out there” again. Tu sabes, in with the in crowd – be loud, be seen. Pues orale, por pende… jajaja porque a los 3 dias I had to go back and take it off porque cada vez I would see my nails (which was todo el tiempo, let’s be honest), I was like WHOA, no no no, no quiero ver eso. It was a fluorescent pink – some coral color on summertime levels of fly, jajaja. Pues it had to go. Mucho para mi at that time.

Lastly, la comida y sleep time. Obviamente things I had recently eaten and experienced an Anxiety attack soon after were completamente write offs for me. Como chocolate, milk and high sugary treats. I don’t eat chocolate anymore. I was never a coffee drinker, pero I would have a cup here or there – ahora, ni madres. I’ve never been big on any kind of dairy, como queso, milk, yogurt, etc – asi que that was an easy one to let go of. Super sugary treats, I quickly dropped porque I didn’t want to risk having an Anxiety attack during my sugar high. Claro, these were small changes, pero changes nonetheless.

I once was a dormilona jaja, pero then I had mis chamacos. My sleep patterns were so off when I began experiencing Anxiety. Still waking up a few times during the night, randomly falling asleep while tucking in los chamacos and waking up to terminar chores en la casa until midnight, y pushing snooze as much as I could in the mornings to try and squeeze in any extra sleep time. The worst was falling asleep with mis chamacos and then waking up frantic to finish things around la casa. Creo por eso my Anxiety attacks would always happen late at night. Mi cuerpo was evidamente demanding and needing rest and I would push it into overdrive, running on fumes to get more things done. Claro when I would try and actually go to bed, mi cabeza was still rapidly working to ensure I had done everything, planning el siguiente dia, or thinking about just about ANY thought that would prevent me from falling asleep quickly. UGH. Lo peor.

Learning about and accepting my Anxiety has been quite the journey. Lots has changed, pero lo que no ha cambiado is my determination and strength. “God won’t give you something you cannot handle.” I’m glad to say that it’s a work in progress, pero I have reached a good stage where it is quite manageable and I feel in control again. Anxiety has invited itself into mi vida, pero it doesn’t define me as it once did. It is a part of me. I have learned to accept that. Estoy orgullosa of how far I’ve come with learning to live mi vida with this mental illness. Espero que by courageously sharing “my story, to make HIStory”<- Si sabes that’s Drake, you are mi gente!! Jejeje. I can help someone else with their experience of Anxiety and know that you are not alone. You are not weak. You are not incompetent. You are not struggling (maybe aveces jeje), pero that you can and will get through this. If I can, you can. Don’t give up, be patient and be kind and loving to yourself. Si se puede!

*Pic from IG @hijadetumadre   

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