personal

Therapy

Health,personal,17 January 2019

I remember the release of emotions like it was yesterday. The hallway was narrow, and I was nervous when I left my shoes outside the door. I wore skinny jeans, which I regretted as soon I sat down in the very corner of the big couch. I felt so small when she looked at me with motherly eyes and asked: “What brings you here today?”. I couldn’t hold them back anymore, so I cried, I cried all the tears I had kept from coming for years.

I promised to tell you about my experiences in therapy. It’s a bit difficult. Not because it’s personal, but because it’s difficult to remember all the facts. So, I called my mother. She remembers more and she is the reason why it has always felt so natural and easy to reach for help, talk and look at therapy as the most natural part of life. My mother brought us up in a way where asking for help and talking things out is as natural as following the vaccine program. Whenever someone felt or feels a bit low or struggles in life, my mother always suggested to go somewhere to sort out our own thoughts and head. She would always offer her support but respected our privacy enough to provide us with other options as well, and taught us to independently search for help.

My mother talks about therapy like it’s a luxury we all deserve to have. It’s self-care, repair and self-love. Like a massage for the soul. Having ups and downs are part of life and feeling weak is ok too. We all handle them differently and for me, sorting my thoughts with the help of somebody has been life changing and makes me feel safe.

“Always remember, that you’re just as good as everyone else, but never think you’re any better than anyone else” is also a message I’ve been brought up with. Therefore, I’m not afraid to be open and transparent and say, that I’ve had my struggles.

So, having an upbringing that encourages self-searching, self-development and working on oneself by talking, it was easy for me to reach out when I felt I needed someone outside the family to turn to.  I think it’s very important to encourage children to be open minded towards therapy. I know I will.

Already in high school, I went to see the curator at school. My parents got a divorce, and although I didn’t necessarily suffer from it, I thought it would be good to have someone to talk to about it. It felt good to have the time and space to juggle my own thoughts and feelings. That’s when I realized, that talking to someone, doesn’t have to be scary or serious. It was developing, refreshing and helped me keep my focus on other things. It was good for my organized self to have a specific lot just for my own thoughts once a week. I did it in a precautionary way, which has served me later.

During my life, I’ve been through goods and bads like most of us.  I don’t feel the need or interest to go into depth about each of  these specifically, but I’m grateful for those first sessions at the curator. It has helped me react faster, both in crises and when I’ve felt lost. What I’ve learned, is not to be afraid to share even the heaviest feelings and thoughts. It’s just who I am and although not everyone struggles with similar thoughts, I’ve learned to accept that I sometimes do and that’s ok. We have the freedom to think limitlessly. Some of us analyze, think and question more than others. Don’t be afraid to let your thoughts come to you.

Since I have visited curators, psychotherapists and psychologists, I have to say, that finding the right person can’t be stressed enough. One of my best experiences was during the time I lived abroad. I only saw her for a couple of months, but she has had a huge impact on my life. I needed her right there and then. The psychologist was casual, easy going but very straight forward.  She is the one I’m referring to in the beginning of this text. She gave me great advice I still use in my everyday life. But some people you click with and some you don’t. My intuition tells me right away if someone gets me or not and that’s of course crucial when it comes to therapy. My advice to you is to be critical. Don’ waste your time trying to be polite. If you don’t feel a connection- change. Search for your person you feel comfortable with to get the most out of your time, money and yourself.

I’ve also done group therapy, which I highly recommend. I was more of an observer and listener, but even that helped me a lot and I found a friend for life from that group. We still have a very special bound and a closeness I don’t have with anyone else. I highly recommend group therapy. It offers peer support and very strong and unique connections.

Many of you wrote that you recently started some form of therapy. I’m so happy to hear that and you inspired me to do the same. I promise myself to take better care of myself this year, mentally. The least I can do is to be more open and honest. Honesty is brave, but it’s also the first step for change to happen. I’m also going to search for a format that would help me with my anxiety. Because I promised my mum.

 

Pictures by Juuli Rönkä

The anxiety guide. What calms and triggers anxiety.

Health,personal,6 January 2019

I’m amazed, grateful but of course sad at the same time. It saddens me, that so many of you also struggle with anxiety, but to stick to my new year’s resolution to always look at the bright side, I’m happy to see that most of you work on yourself and recognize these tough feelings. I’m also happy that you feel comfortable sharing your stories and feelings with me. It’s not always easy to bring out your darkness and weaknesses for everyone to see and take part of. At least it isn’t for me, because I feel like it sometimes makes it tougher when I know people will have opinions about things that are so personal to me. Feelings are normal but scary, because they are out of our control and we don’t know where they will take us. It’s much easier to handle opinions and criticism, if someone doesn’t like a pair of shoes I’m wearing.

I try to look at mental illness just like physical illness. It’s just as normal to feel down, dark, anxiety and ill mentally as it is to get a flu, fever, stomach pain or cancer even. Some are more serious, life threatening and long lasting than others, but it’s as much out of our control. We can visit a doctor or therapist and take care of ourselves the best we can, but the rest is a lottery.

Since you have countless of good advice, I think they deserve to be shared for everyone to take part of. In this post, I’ve gathered yours, and my tips and tools on how to handle, decrease and calm anxiety. I also decided to add triggers I try to stay away from.

Here is your list:

Spend time in nature. Take a walk in a calming surrounding and let your thoughts come as they are.

Running.

Walking.

Yoga. So happy to see that many of you have found yoga!

Meditation.

Traveling to calm and slow destinations.

Breathing. Concentrating on exhaling calmly helps to calm anxiety.

Practice acceptance.  Accept your anxiety and let the feelings come and stay. Blocking feelings won’t make them go away, so let them come and understand that painful feelings won’t kill you.

Therapy. Many of you have reached out to therapy in one way or another. I am a big believer in therapy, self-searching and personal understanding and construction work.

Do neutral things like scroll through Instagram, watch a feel- good movie or episode, online shopping.

Stay away from reading/ consuming the news.

Be creative. Paint or create art.

Write. Keep a diary.

Talk to your friends. Many of you mentioned your mothers <3.

Chocolate.

Spending time with animals.

Find comfort in spirituality or religion.

Music.

The ocean. Someone said that the fact that the ocean always keeps doing its thing, no matter what’s going on inside our heads and in the world, feels comforting.

Physical closeness. A hug is so much more calming and healing than we give it credit for.

The forest.

Peace and quiet. Calmness. This really works for me too, but not loneliness. There is a huge difference. Summer cabin and living in a bubble keeps my anxiety away. The more I do the more I experience anxiety.

Tell yourself it will be ok over and over again.

Do everyday chores.

Knitting.

Read a book. Tools I use and find helpful:

Talk. Speak up. Write. If something bothers me so much that it gives me anxiety, I can’t pretend that everything is normal even though I decide I will. During these past weeks, I’ve talked to everyone I’ve met and, in the past, as well. I’ve opened up to my hairdresser, at work, at meetings, with friends and family over and over again, day care teachers etc. Not to even mention my husband. I need to get it out of my system. But, I always put a timeframe on it. It’s ok to talk and dwell, but not forever. I give myself a couple of weeks, months or a year even, but when the time expires, I seek for professional help, so my near and dear ones don’t have to put up with my negative and heavy energies anymore. I find it important to surround myself with positivity, therefore I try to be that for others as well.

I stay away from consuming news completely.

Podcasts. If I’m alone, I get anxious more easily. I try to escape from my own head right before going to bed by listening to a happy podcast and scroll through Pinterest, online shops, fashion blogs or positive Instagram accounts.

Spirituality. Whether its yoga, inspirational quotes, a prayer or rocks, I find comfort in believing in something.  For me it changes, but most often I believe in everything at once. I’m open minded. I just find it easier to accept life as it is, and I feel more grounded and like I’m just part of a big puzzle.

Yoga helps me to calm down, find peace, understanding and kindness towards myself and others. It releases worry and stress and it helps me feel stronger.

Physical activity. Doing bodily activities and exhausting myself physically calms me down and makes me less restless mentally.

Neat and clean surroundings. A messy home stresses me out and puts me in a bad mood easily.

Fresh air, preferably away from home.My anxiety triggers:

Music.

Stressful environments.

Stress.

Ocean. For me however, the ocean often increases my anxiety, but it’s very individual of course.

Alcohol.

Staying up too late.

Darkness is probably my worst. Anxiety comes sneaking up on me just like the darkness. I can sleep during the day, but not during the night.

News are second to worst.

Negative energy.

Poor diet.

Being alone.

Hope these tips and tricks can help someone in some way. At least you helped me a lot in many ways. I felt less alone instantly and I’m going to try many of your tips. I just want to say, that my anxiety very much comes and goes. This terrible happening just touches me so much and triggered the anxiety in an unusually heavy way. I’ve been crying every day and although I’m sensitive, I rarely cry. My sensitivity usually bursts out in heavy thoughts, but not so much in strong emotions like this. Usually it’s very much bearable and just a part of who I am. I would more describe me as a highly sensitive person. I think a lot and analyze myself, my thoughts and life. And I worry. I’ve always been this way and I’m thankful for that. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes a bit tricky, but that’s how it is with everything.