College, Mental Illness, OCD, Rogers Memorial Hospital Blogs, Tourette Syndrome

Why I Journal and Helpful Tips

Why I Journal and Helpful Tips.jpg

Keeping a journal is a great way to organize your thoughts and evaluate what you are feeling. It is advice that doctors and therapists always give. In the past, when that advice was given I would brush it off. It seemed pointless and like a waste of time. I started writing quite a bit last January and continued it during my time in residential treatment in the summer. It was a perfect coping method. I would write just before bed and summarize my thoughts and feelings for the day. There were many nights I just wanted to skip, but I tried to push through. For a while I seemed to have pretty negative entries. That’s when I decided to create this blog. I would share my thoughts and experiences which I wrote in my journal and try to turn my thoughts into more positive ones. Not only did it help me, but I found that there were others that could relate to what I was going through and who found my blog inspirational. It helped me become a little more chipper during a hard time in my life.

When I was in residential treatment at Rogers Memorial Hospital, my therapist unsurprisingly had me write each night. But instead of using it as a way to vent and summarize my day, whenever I mentioned something bad that I did or that had happened, I had to talk about something I learned from that experience and something positive that could come out of it. I had a fear of failure. I used my OCD as a shield to protect me from taking responsibility for my actions.  If I was sick, I didn’t have responsibilities, therefore I had no chance of failing. So each night I would use my journal to remind myself that each day is a learning experience. Every mistake is a chance to learn and grow. Let me tell you, when I remind myself that, it feels good. Same goes for writing positives that happened during the day. Some days when I’m really struggling, my entry for the day is lists of good things that happened. The sun was out, the wind blew against my skin, I saw a dog today, I know one day it will be easier. Isn’t that the perfect mood to fall asleep to? As much as you may just want to brush journaling off, I say give it a try. Below are some tips and topics I use when journaling.

Tips

  • If and when you miss a day journaling, don’t apologize. Don’t think of journaling as an obligation or a chore that needs to get done. Think of it as a way to unwind.
  • Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, or writing quality. This is only for your eyes and for getting your thoughts on paper. Don’t be embarrassed.
  • Decide if you want to journal in the morning or night and be consistent. Many people say it is more beneficial to journal in the morning because you are more positive, but I like to summarize my day and list the positives. (I am also not a morning person and like my sleep!)
  • Set a reminder each day to journal on your designated time. Mine is every night at 8:00 pm!
  • Don’t just write about the good things that happened. Like I mentioned before, write about the bad things and how it made you feel, but at the end of that thought remind yourself that life is a learning experience, it will help you grow, and for me, I believe everything happens for a reason.
  • Decide if you want to journal in a notebook or an application. I’ve tried both but tend to stick to a physical notebook. If you want an application, DayOne was really nice. That’s on Mac and iPhone (Update, DayOne got expensive!! When I downloaded it, it was free!) Many people also use Evernote which is on all platforms. I’ve never tried that for journaling though.
  • If you’re artistic try an art journal!! I love looking at the different art journals on Pinterest but I’m not one bit artistic.
  • As suggested by Dr.Mike There is no right or wrong way to journal! These tips are based on how I write mine and some things I’ve learned. If you write differently leave a comment and share your tips! Have fun and use journaling as a time to relax. Write freely. It’s a no judgement zone.

 

~ Happy Writing and Stay Chipper ~


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College, Mental Illness, OCD, Rogers Memorial Hospital Blogs, Tourette Syndrome

How to Overcome Anxiety and Panic Attacks

How to Overcome Anxiety AndPanic Attacks

Struggling with anxiety and panic attacks is hard. It has the power to overwhelm you and take over. Everyone experiences different symptoms, but these are some tricks that I’ve learned throughout my years of treatment and experience with anxiety and panic attacks. I hope they help!

  1. Awareness and Acceptance (Mindfulness)This is the newest treatment technique that is being practiced for anxiety and OCD. You need to first acknowledge the anxiety, accept that it’s there, and let it go away on it’s own. Remember that this anxiety will pass, that you are safe, and that there is nothing wrong with being anxious. Don’t force the anxiety to go away, just use the tools listed below to help the natural process of it subsiding occur.
  2. Breathing Breathing is the best technique for myself and was the go-to advise for many of my doctors. When I feel myself starting to hyperventilate, I know that’s the time to start counting my breaths. I breath in on a four count, and exhale on a four count.

    breath..1…2…3…4..exhale..1…2…3…4..

    This helps relax the body and slow the heart rate. An optional addition to breathing is visualizing. I imagine golden sunlight entering my mouth and spreading through my body and then when I exhale a black smoke comes out of my fingertips and mouth (or nose depending on how you are comfortable breathing….I’m a mouth breather).

    The black smoke is all the negative energy inside me and the golden sunlight is everything good in the world.

  3. Relax the bodyMany people (including myself) tend to tense their body or tap when anxious. I often shake my leg and tighten up. I thought it was the only way to get rid of my anxiety. I felt I needed to release that energy inside me, but I learned that the action of tightening and shaking increases the heart rate and tricks my body into thinking there is a reason to panic. This was a hard habit to stop. This is when I would concentrate on my breathing and visualization that I talked about in step two. It took my mind off the need to move my body. I found that my anxiety passed much faster when I didn’t shake because my mind wasn’t focused on getting rid of the anxiety, it was just allowing it to slowly go away on it’s own.
  4. Play relaxing music I personally tend to play Zen or yoga music when I feel my anxiety coming on. I have a playlist on Spotify for free that I put on shuffle. I let the relaxing sounds fill the room and concentrate on the music. The goal is to keep your mind away from racing thoughts and focus on relaxing the body and mind.
  5. The Body Scan This is a type of meditation that focuses on the sensations of your body. There are many CD’s with body scans, but I tend to use YouTube or Google. This is a type of mindfulness. Like I mentioned in step 4, the goal is to keep the mind away from racing thoughts. To slow down the brain and relax the body the body scan has you focus deeply on what your body is feeling. Many have, you start at your feet and slowly move your way up to your head. It’s a great way to step out of your mind for a while and relax. On those days where you just seem to be extra anxious, it’s a great technique to calm the body and soul. Another way to use the body scan is by doing it every morning for a few minutes to start the day relaxed, or if you tend to have trouble falling asleep at night doing the body scan before bed.

    This link is a great link to a body scan on youtube. The channel also has other meditations that I’ve enjoyed and worked well.

    And for a little fun…

  6. Coloring! (Or any arts and craft)

    This is a great way to have a little fun while trying to get your mind off your anxiety. When I was in residential treatment at Rogers Memorial Hospital we all loved coloring! I personally type in google images “Adult coloring pages” and print away! It’s nice to have a folder filled with pages you like so when anxious it’s easy to grab and go. Coloring books can be fun as well. I’ve kept some of my favorite coloring pages from Rogers and have them hanging in my room.Honestly, any craft is great for the mind. If you want to get more in depth than just coloring making collages are very fun and easy. Below is my favorite collage I’ve made which says “Fly High”

    Fly high.JPG

This list is the main set of tools I use, if you have others that work for you, share them in the comments! Remember, these emotions of panic, fear, and anxiety will pass…even if it takes a while. You’re safe and will be okay.
~Stay Chipper~


I love emails! Send me one here chipperchelseakay@gmail.com

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Mental Illness, OCD, Rogers Memorial Hospital Blogs, Tourette Syndrome

Reviews and Inspiration

 

You Have Control

A few days ago during one of my groups at Partial, we watched this incredible video of a guy named Ethan. It’s full of inspiration, determination, strength, and a whole lot of jokes. I wanted to share this because it spoke a lot to me and has helped me quite a bit the last few days. He shares his story and some personal videos that will inspire and amaze you.  My favorite quote that he says is towards the end. He says, “Emotions don’t matter, thoughts don’t matter; it’s focus and behavior and what we do with that stuff.”

The morning after we had watched the video I had these strong feelings that were trying to prevent me from going into partial. I was fighting internally and crying externally. All of a sudden a thought jumped towards the front of my brain. It said, “Thoughts don’t matter, it’s what I do with it that makes the difference” Ethan’s words got me out of my bed and into my clothing. It reminded me that I am in control. I control my behaviors.

This speech not only brings a greater awareness to the mental health world, it is a video that I can watch to gain my strength. I believe that anyone who is struggling-with or without a mental illness- can look at this and relate to the struggles we all face as human beings.

~Stay Chipper!~


Don’t forget, you can always email me at chipperchelseakay@gmail.com

I also want to give a big thank you for all the support I’ve gotten from my fellow bloggers! I want to apologize that I haven’t been keeping up on your blogs or commenting as much as I should. Once I am out of treatment I will definitely catch up with all of you!

Mental Illness, OCD, Rogers Memorial Hospital Blogs

Sneak Another Peek

Sneak Another Peek

I’ve always been passionate about understanding others; stepping into their shoes and seeing, thinking, and appreciating the lives they live. I think it is important to take that extra step and see things from a different point of view. It is the only way to achieve a true understanding. I believe in this philosophy so much so, that it’s one of the main reasons I have this blog; to give others a glimpse of a life with mental illness. I’ve been in treatment for 2 months and 26 days and I think it’s time for another peek into my brain.

I have discharged from the Cedar Ridge residential program and am now in the partial program. In short, that means I am living in a hotel and drive to the main hospital Monday-Friday from 8:00-2:30. I am given exposures to work on while I am there, and then some to work on when I return back to the hotel. This is where the problem comes in. My OCD is more Anxiety than it is obsessive thoughts and compulsions. Mine is almost like a severe case of procrastination. I have these urges that are so big and so strong that tell me, “I can’t do this and I don’t want to.” It feels like a thunderstorm inside my head. My body feels heavy and my mind is racing, finding distractions that my mind can grasp onto, desperately trying to prevent me from doing a specific task.

These urges are so violent that I’m unable to get daily tasks done on my own. Just making my bed this morning was a challenge. My brain switches into distraction mode and is begging me to do something else besides make that bed. Feelings of dread weigh my body down and my legs tense as if trying to walk away without my permission. I’ve learned a few skills that I’ve been trying to use. My main one is taking small steps. My first small step was to stop crying and get my breathing even. I took a second and tried moving my hand up to my face to wipe away my tears, while at the same time making a loud even exhale of breath. I laced my hands in front of my stomach and looked down at my feet. I decided I was going to take a small step in the direction of my bed. A few seconds pass. Inhale. I take a small step forward. Exhale. I take another step. Inhale. I allow myself to feel all the panic and anxiety that’s exploding throughout my body, almost like a firework show inside my stomach and chest. I acknowledge that this is anxiety and it will go away on its own as I take my last step. After a few more breaths I pick up the blankets and start making my bed. Now I have to do this all over again for my next task.

I know I’m able to do these tasks, even if it is hard, but my problem is getting myself to get up and take the first step. This dread that overwhelms my body is just so hard to get past. I’ve never felt something so strong. I’ve just given into it for so long that my body has come accustomed to it and automatically avoids. I know I can get past it, but it’s going to be my hardest fight yet. I’ve fallen backwards and I’m trying to pick up all the pieces, I really am, it’s just going to take a little bit of time and a whole lot of strength.

~ Stay Chipper! ~


Remember you can always email me at Chipperchelseakay@gmail.com I’m always excited when I see emails!

Mental Illness, OCD, Rogers Memorial Hospital Blogs, Tourette Syndrome

I’m Almost There

almost-there

For the last few days I’ve been trying to get myself to sit down and write a post. I knew what I wanted to write about, but just moments ago at 8:03 pm I had a small realization. Before I get ahead of myself, let me start at the beginning.

I’ve struggled with mental illnesses most of my life, I’ve been sheltered from the real world and lived life hour by hour. I would do what I could in life and it was always more than enough for myself and my parents. One day I finally realize I’ve grown up, I’m pretty healthy and I have some responsibilities to take on. I feel this dread and stress when I think about picking up my own plate and washing it in the sink, or being asked to dust a table. Not too long after college comes along and the responsibilities are unbearable. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was my OCD creeping up on me. Finally OCD comes in like a bomb and takes me out. I’m forced to leave and put my life on hold….and deep down inside me I didn’t mind. The scary and stressful responsibilities are taken away. Somehow there is a part of me that doesn’t want to give up my OCD. As much as I hate it and want to laugh again, I am scared to get rid of it.

When I came to Rogers there was about 50% of me that didn’t want to get rid of the OCD. It slowly made its way down to 20% a few weeks ago. After a perfect weekend with my parents who visited (Which will be in a later post…I PROMISE!) My number went down to 10%. I was reminded how it felt to be healthy. Now on to today. I’ve been grumpy all day, there are people who are bothering me and giving me anxiety that is unbearable….and I realize that it’s not the people that are making me restless, it’s being here at Rogers that is making me restless. I’m tired of being in treatment and being sick. I feel a little more ready to face the world and its scary responsibilities. It has been 9 weeks away from home, 8 weeks in the OCD center and I’m ready to be free. I would say that right this second, which is now 8:28 pm that 95% of me is ready to give up my OCD. It makes me very anxious, but in a way it is liberating. I want to be healthy, I want to be healthy, I WANT TO BE HEALTHY! Just typing this makes me smile. I’m ready to move on with my life. I’m ready to learn how to handle responsibility, and I’m ready to become the girl I’ve always been meant to be.

~ I’m staying chipper, are you? ~


Don’t forget, you can always email me at chipperchelseakay@gmail.com I love getting the emails!

Mental Illness, OCD, Rogers Memorial Hospital Blogs, Tourette Syndrome

Scarier Than Horror Movies

Scary-backgrounds-HD-wallpapers-02192015-30

The people I have met here at Rogers have such mind blowing stories. They have lived with these internal struggles for most of their lives, some even believing that their actions and thoughts were actually normal. What each person has lived with is a true horror story. Scary movies don’t compare to what these people have faced because eventually a movie ends. For everyone here, the story continues playing every single day. One girl panics every time a she sees skin because she can’t help but see bugs crawling on the arms and legs of people. Wherever she walks, she feels as if someone is behind her trying to catch her. She has run in fear so many times and her cries can be heard at night. Suddenly this same girl feels as if her head is being ripped off and tears streak her face. Another girl spent her teen year doing drugs and drinking alcohol to subside her thoughts that constantly play on repeat in her head, pounding the inside of her skull. And another is afraid to contact her family, fearing that if she does, someone will come to kill them.

These stories really scare me. But what’s even more frightening is the fact that to get rid of the thoughts and fears, they must force the fears and images upon themselves and sit with it for hours at a time. What is very surprising is the fact that when I said to someone “It must be hard” they said back to me without hesitation, “No, it’s just as hard as what everyone else here at Rogers is facing” There was no pity, just an acceptance that this is what they were given to deal with in life, and Rogers is the place to fix it. They welcome the fears and emotions, and then tackle them, no matter how hard it may be. Although I do the same thing, I can’t help but feel that I’m not trying as hard as the others. That may be OCD talking, but I can’t get rid of this constant feeling of “I’m not doing well enough” So, I guess I’ll try harder until I can come to terms with it another day.

~ Stay Chipper Friends ~


Remember you can always email me at Chipperchelseakay@gmail.com I love getting them!

I have gotten a few emails asking where to send mail, here is the address! (I LOVE mail)

Cedar Ridge
Attention: Chelsea Dimond
3011 N Cedar Ridge Road
Oconomowoc, WI 53066

Mental Illness, OCD, Rogers Memorial Hospital Blogs

It’s The Little Things

little-things

Sometimes in life, it is the little things that get me through the day. Things such as a bird’s tiny chirp or the sound of water hitting the rocks in a lake. Last Friday I took a mindfulness walk with my Experiential Therapy group. We enjoyed an entire hour just walking on a path by the lake. I felt nature’s presence and it invited me to take a look at the many little things that have the power to make me smile. As I walked I couldn’t help but write and describe everything I was experiencing; it was almost magical. This is what I wrote:

As I walk down a soft dirt path towards the lake I notice the sweet songs of the birds that are high up in the air. I can’t help but smile as they flutter up above me. I can admire the strength in their weightless wings that have the ability to carry them anywhere they please. Dandelions are scattered white and yellow while other flowers show off their bright pink and orange colors. The lake is just ahead and the water is extraordinarily clear. I can see the rocks and pebbles that lie under the water. I even noticed a single penny gleaming in the sunlight.  The trail takes me into the woods where the trees seemed to bow down around us, protecting us from the sun’s rays. The canopy created a tunnel and provided the birds a safe place curiously watch us. The plant life is thriving in these woods. New buds and new life are everywhere. This trail makes me feel fearless, and even if it’s for only a few minutes, this freedom will not be forgotten.

~ Stay Chipper ~


Quick update for all of you following my story. So I’m finally at Rogers Memorial Hospital, Cedar Ridge, and it’s been a very busy week. The view is gorgeous, and my room overlooks the beautiful lake.  Almost every morning outside my window I see a Mama, Papa, and baby crane. The baby is just a fuzzy ball of cuteness. It is a great way to wake up after the hard fight I faced the day before. Everyday I am facing my OCD and doing Exposures. Exposures are exactly what they sound like. I am “Exposed” to my irrational thoughts and fears. We purposely trigger my OCD and I sit with my anxiety until it goes down 2 points. So if I was at a 4 I have to wait until it is at a 2. It’s exhausting work and many times nearly impossible to sit with. I’m literally fighting my brain and rewiring it. So all in all, it really is important to have the little things like Baby Crane to keep me happy and smiling. I’ve meet so many amazing people and have seen some very scary sides of OCD. It’s a hard fight but we all are here to fight it together.


Remember you can always email me at chipperchelseakay@gmail.com I would love to hear from you!