Don’t Obsess

This spot! It was driving me out my mind! What a spot—what a spot for a fellow to find! My troubles were growing. The way it kept going! Where would it go next? There was no way of Knowing.

–The Strange Shirt Spot

The above passage comes from a Dr. Seuss book called Seuss-isms. In the story of The Strange Shirt Spot, the little boy was obsessing all day with a spot on his shirt. He would clean the spot off his shirt, for only the spot to jump on something else. That strange spot was all he could think about, and I am sure I am not the only one that has been where this little boy has been with this spot. Let’s talk about obsessions and how we can combat them.

Our minds love to jump on one thing and will not let it go until it figures out the issue, or it tires itself out. The one big obsession I have is trying to figure out why people think and act the way they do. I will ramble on and on to anyone that would listen about how I cannot figure out why a person could respond or react the way they do. I would obsess so much; I would catch myself spending hours on Google trying to find counterpoints to a person’s actions or statements. Did my obsession solve anything? No. Did it help me sleep at night to obsess over it? No, it did the exact opposite. But I just had to know why. With therapy, I have learned that I cannot control everything that is going on around me. I also learned that my way of thinking is not made for anyone else. When I started understanding these two points, I was able to stop my fixation on what other people did or say.

We will all have moments where we will fix our mind on things we cannot control. But if we can remember that the only thing we can have true control over is ourselves, the less likely we are to obsess over things. As my therapist would say, “If it is not on fire, it is safe to say you do not need to give it all of your energy.”  

Low Battery

I had no idea what slow down means. I felt that if I sat down longer than a minute, I would get worried that I would not get things done. I have been this way since I was 11, and this “get up and go” mindset has only gotten worse.

“Ariel, when do you ever just stop moving and relax?” My therapist asked during our last session. “What does that mean?” I said, laughing so hard that I begin to cry. My therapist just shook her head and responded to my silly question by saying, “You cannot keep going without stopping and taking some time for you.” I thought to myself, “what if I do need to slow down?”, “What if I am not getting enough rest?” “Well, I have a lot to do.”

Friday, I had a 12-hour workday. I thought I was going to pass out as soon as I came through the door of my house. I didn’t even say hello to my husband before I fell asleep on the bed. When I woke up the next day, I told myself that I was going to take a day to pamper myself. I went to get a beautiful mani and pedi, and I must say it was amazing! I guess my therapist was right; if I do not slow myself down, my body will make me do it.

I know that it is easy to forget that rest is needed to help your body recharge from the work that you do. We are not robots. We cannot put ourselves on a charger for 20 minutes, and we are back at a full battery. If your situation is not on fire, it is safe to say that it can wait until you get your rest. Understand that you only get one body, so treat it with the utmost care.

The Rainbow

Today there was a rainstorm that lasted about an hour where I work. I looked out of my office window at the rain and began to think of the most harmful and negative things I could come up with. I left work feeling so sad and defeated. As I was driving home, I saw the biggest rainbow I have ever laid eyes on, and I began to smile from ear to ear. The weight of my sadness and defeat from the day lifted. I could finally breathe.

I have always been told that rainbows symbolize promise. I think we can all need a little promise to get us through these rough times we are facing. We are dealing with so much pain and anger; it feels as if we will never see the light again. But what I would like us to do is think about a rainbow. Better yet, find a picture of a rainbow and make it your lock screen. Once you do that, make a promise to yourself. Your promise can be as big or as small as you want it. When you come up with that promise, write in your notebook on your phone; that way, if you start feeling down, you can look at your rainbow and that promise you made to yourself.

It may seem like a lot right now, but trust me, it will come in handy when you need it.  

A Childless Woman on Mother’s Day

I’ve always wanted to be a mother. Ever since I’ve received my first stroller and doll, I knew that I was going to be a mother. Well, as of right now, I am not a mother, and I am becoming very defeated. I have cried every Mother’s Day since I’ve been married. I cry because although I am happy for my friends and family that are mothers, I wish that I could experience the same joy.

Since November, my husband and I have been actively trying to have a baby. I went to my Gynecologist, and he gave me so much hope. He ran tests and checked my eggs. He told me when to try and what medications will increase my chance. But every month, nothing. My mind keeps telling me that I am less than a woman because I cannot get pregnant. I cry every time I see a pregnancy announcement or new birth. When will it be me? I must have done something in my past that has caused me not to be able to become pregnant. But what is it? I want to be able to right this wrong. I look at a baby or a child and immediately wish I had a child to love. My friends tell me that my time is coming, but I do not see it. Maybe it was not meant to be. Everyone cannot be mothers, I guess.

I am trying to remain positive, but it gets harder every day to find that spirit. I know I should not beat myself up, but I cannot help it. The only thing I can do is continue to pray that one day I am blessed to have a little one call me mama. For right now, I can be happy that I am someone’s Aunt and godmother. Hopefully, my dream will come true. It has to come true.

Until You Use Me Up

Have you ever given too much of yourself? I mean, you gave so much that it drained you mentally, emotionally, and physically? Well, welcome to the club! I used to think that the only way to show that I cared about someone was to give too much of myself. You may be wondering, if I do not give my all to a person, how will they know I care?

I have been in two major relationships before I dated and married my husband. The first one was puppy love. I met him when we were 18, and I just knew I was in love with him. Every time he would call, I would do everything in my power to answer. I was so focused on loving him; I did not notice he was taking advantage of me. One time we were sitting in his car, and he kept sighing. “What’s wrong, Babe?” I asked. “Man, I’m broke,” He said, holding his head. “I have no gas, but I wanted to see you.” I started thinking to myself that I had to help him, but I only had $40 to my name. Then I thought to myself, “But he came all this way to see you.”

“What do you need?” I said, taking his hand from his head. “I need like $20 bae.” He said, looking at me like a sad puppy. “Well, I have $20 I can give you,” I said, reaching into my bag to grab my wallet. “Naw, I cannot take money from you, baby.” He said. The look on his face, however, was saying something different. He was looking like, “Come on and show me the money.” “Here,” I said, holding out the money, “Take it, babe.” His eyes perked up, and he took the money from my hand so fast that it felt like a vacuum sucking up dust. “I’ll pay you back.” He said as he leaned over and kissed me on my cheek. Let’s just say that he still owes me $220.

My second one was emotionally draining. I thought he was the one, but every time something would come up in his life, I was the first person he would get rid of. I had to fight to keep him around. “Stop calling my phone Ariel,” He shouted. “I told you when I am ready to talk to you; I will!” “Why won’t you talk to me,” I cried. “I want to help you; I love you.” My phone beeped to let me know he ended the call. I would cry myself to sleep because I wanted him to let me in. He went as far as blocking my number and blocking me on social media. When he was ready to be bothered with me… I mean ready to be loved by me, he would unblock me and asked me to forgive him. It took me a while, but I decided to let him go. He was very upset about that.

I told these stories to make this point; if you are giving more than you are receiving, it is safe to say it is not a relationship you need. We cannot continue to fill everyone’s cup while you sit around being thirsty. Again, how do you care about someone without emptying yourself? You set parameters in your relationships. You let them know what you will and will not do. A relationship is all about give and take. If you are giving more than you are receiving, you are cheating yourself out of the love and respect that you deserve. Also, do not let anyone make you feel bad for saying no. That is your right to say no. You have to know when enough is enough. You can love someone without draining your pitcher, and if they do not like it, so be it.

Dealing With Bipolar

Dealing with a mental illness like Bipolar Disorder is like flipping a coin, you never know what you will land on until the coin hits the ground. One week you are on cloud nine talking a 100 miles per second, and the next week you do not want to get out of the bed to take a shower. It has been about 6 months since I found out that I have Bipolar Disorder. Here is my story.

“Justin, I do not know what is wrong with me,” I cried to my Psych Nurse. “I have had these weird mood changes.” Justin looked at me with concern in his eyes. See, we thought that my agitation was coming from my anxiety, but from the look he was giving me, I could tell it was much deeper than that. “Well, tell me about them, Ariel,” Said Justin.

I began to tell him about a time that I was watching a video on Facebook that was something political. I stood in the middle of the living room, ranting for about an hour while my husband Donta set back with surprise. I did not even know how long it had been until Donta told me. I told him that it was important and that he needed to listen to it. I yelled, “Our freedom is not something we can sweep under the rug.” So, my husband, being the supportive man he is, continue to listen until I tired myself out. This was not even the first time I have held my husband captive by my many rant sessions. Then I told Justin of a time where Donta and I disagreed about something little. When Donta said to me that he did not want to fuss about something so minor, I ran to our room and cried for three hours. It was nothing I could do to stop it. Even when Donta came into the room to hug me and tell me everything will be fine, I still kept crying. That crying spell lasts for a week. I was like a weeklong rainstorm; nothing could get my tears to dry up.

“Well, I know what the problem is,” Justin said reassuringly. “You are Bipolar.” “Bipolar?” I questioned Justin as if he was not the one with years of experience in treating mental illness. “I am so damaged.” “No, you aren’t,” Said Justin. “Your mind just handles things differently from others.” After we talked about the medicine that I would be taking, I walked out of his office with a little clarity. I was afraid, but I knew that I would be okay if I kept myself knowledgeable about my disorder and set my appointments with my Therapist.

If you feel like your world is spinning out of control, do not deal with it alone. Seek help from someone that can provide you with the tools and treatment to get you on track to handling your mental health. Do not think because you have a mental illness that you are broken; you are not. You are strong and built to handle your mental illness. Keep your head up and continue to live in the moment.

#Bipolardisorderawareness

Facts Over Feelings

My session this week in therapy started like this. “I cannot do this anymore! I want to be away from anyone and anything!” The reason why I said this comment to my therapist was that I had an incident during a work Zoom meeting.

Here’s the story: We have been working from home for six weeks. Each Tuesday, we have a group meeting to discuss how we were handling working from home and how our clients are doing. I have been so anxious since we started these meetings, so it is safe to say I am over this conversation. As my co-workers were going around saying positive words and tips, they are giving their clients, I set with this look of agitation. Yes, I forgot that people could see my face. I did not care. I am at the point of screaming. So, after an awkward exchanged I had with one of my co-workers about how children can in fact sit longer than 5 minutes, it was time to wrap up our meeting. One of the managers asked this question that really got under my skin. The question was, “what is one word could use to describe what kind of support you need right now?” Why this question? Can you actually support me? With the mess I have going on in my head, you really think you can SUPPORT ME? Everyone went around stating their word that would describe the support they need, as I sat there with the same look of agitation.

When my manager asked me about my word, I said, “I do not have a word.” Everyone began to look at the camera like I was on trial. My manager softly asked, “There is nothing we can do to support you, Ari?” “No,” I said with remorse. Now I feel like a B-word. I feel worse now, because everyone is probably wondering what is wrong with me, and why I am so dismissive. When the video called ended, I closed my laptop down and began to weep. “Ariel, why would you say that?” “Everyone was looking at you.” But it was too late to think about that; the damage was done.

When I told my therapist the story, she asked me a question that I would never think of asking myself. She asked, “With all the things that you mention in this song, what were facts and what was just your feelings?’ I instantly drew a blank. “Did you answer the question?” My therapist asked. “Yes,” I said, wiping tears off my face. “Well, that is a fact.” She said smiling at me. “You cannot let your feelings get in the way of the facts, Ariel.” She is right. I could dwell on how my co-workers were looking at me or worry about them talking about me to each other, but what is the fact? I do not know if anyone will have something to say about me, but what I do know is that I answered the question in the best way I could do.

We all have been in a situation where we focus on what others could be feeling about us. We lose sight of what is going on at that moment. We cannot control anyone’s feelings, but we can control how we manage our emotions during a stressful situation. We should try to think about the facts before jumping into our feelings. With sticking to the facts, we know how to proceed on our journey through life.

#AriSpeaksOut

Worst battle. What I know vs. What I feel.

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