How to chill the f*ck out when you’re bad at chilling the f*ck out

Confession: I’m really bad at chilling the fuck out. When I’m not worried about work, school, guys, money, my chronic illness or how my body looks in the mirror, I find something else to worry about.

I can’t remember exactly when my anxiety started, but I can’t remember a time where I didn’t have anxiety.

My childhood was difficult at times,. I had two very loving parents who have raised me to be strong, kind and fearless–and for that I will be forever grateful.

That being said, I didn’t live in a happy home. My parents had a toxic marriage, my sister and I could barely stand in the same room together for more than 5 minutes, and I honestly can’t remember a streak of days where there wasn’t some argument going on of sorts.

On the outside, my family was well-known in my hometown. My dad was super involved in the youth basketball program–he coached me from 4th grade until 8th. My mom was supportive of all my ventures, driving me back and forth from soccer practices, welcoming my 20+ group high school friends over to my house every weekend when we needed a place to hang and never complaining about the noise (bless her heart), amongst countless of other things that would take forever to list.

From the outside looking in, we were just the Cormacks. We lived on the bottom of the hill of a dead end street with a nice house and a basketball court in our driveway. We had a dog that slobbered too much and threw neighborhood parties in the summer on our back porch.

“Normal.”

I don’t blame my parents for the anxiety and depression that I developed. At the time, I “hated” them and blamed them for the countless nights I’d fall asleep crying and times I cut myself. We all were living in a toxic environment and my parents did they best they could to keep my sister and I happy, but it was exhausting for all of us.

Depression hit me like a brick my senior year of high school. I guess I finally started to understand what “anxiety” and “depression” meant–as I grew up, those were just two medical conditions that only “crazy” people had.

When I was 18, about 7 years ago, mental health wasn’t really talked about. I’m certain I wasn’t the only one in my senior class who was suffering, in fact I know I wasn’t. There was a young woman who committed suicide in my class–she wasn’t very “popular,” for lack of a better term, but I remember when they announced it, they offered grief support from the guidance counselors, but that was it. There wasn’t a conversation around it.

At first, I really didn’t understand my mental illness. Who was I to feel anxious and depressed? I was upper-middle class, my parents were supportive and good people, I had an amazing group of friends, I had just been nominated to be captain of my high school soccer team, an active member on my student council, and editor-in-chief of my yearbook. Things were supposed to be good. I was supposed to feel good.

But I didn’t. And feeling like I was supposed to feel good and feeling the complete opposite made everything so much worse.

I grew angry with myself, I alienated the people that I love and couldn’t find any sort of peace of mind. Ever.

Then college came and I started to feel better. Not great, but better.

Then I moved to Cape Town for the semester. I was able to escape both physically and mentally from my life back in Boston. Nobody knew me, nobody knew my story. I met wonderful friends and fell for a man that made me actually fall in love with myself all over again. It was beautiful.

Then DC happened. I knew I didn’t want to stay in Boston. I mentally couldn’t. I needed to move. I was ready for a new adventure.

It took about two months in my new city before I started feeling physically weak. I was in amazing mental place but the physical deterioration of my body started to make me feel mentally weak again. I was unexplainably losing weight, always thirsty, couldn’t sleep, and eventually could hardly get out of bed in the morning.

I felt like shit, but I was also skinny, something that I had NEVER been able to say about myself. I was THIN AF. This shouldn’t have put me on a high (because I literally felt SO sick and fatigued always) but it did.

The come down was much more when I was suddenly diagnosed with a chronic illness that would forever change my world. I gained twenty pounds overnight in the hospital and any lick of positive self-confidence I had of myself vanished.

I have a hard time talking about this because I should feel grateful that Type 1 is manageable, but I don’t necessarily hate the disease because of the needles and carb counting.

I hate it because catalyzed the pre-existing body image issues and obsession with weight loss that I already had. I fucking hate it for that reason. It feels like I can NEVER have a healthy relationship with food because I always have to know carbs, fats, proteins and calories in order to literally survive.

Ohh, but that’s good! It forces you to be healthy! No, it sucks actually. Not because of the “healthy” stuff but can you imagine never being able to see a plate of fries as simple a PLATE OF DAMN FRIES?!

Let’s talk about men for sec. Y’all have read the stories. I don’t have a great track record. While there was lots of gas lighting and manipulation involved, I can’t help but blame myself a little bit–blaming myself for getting involved with people when I wasn’t complete on my own. Not loving myself enough to wait for the love I actually deserve. It’s no bueno.

ANYWAYS–now that you know a bit about my journey with mental health, I’ve been trying HARD AS FUCK to live more mindfully. What I’ve realized throughout the course of my struggle with mental health is that I’ve NEVER been good at connecting my mind with the present moment. An emotion can last seconds, hours or even DAYS if you let it.

Who controls that? You do.

***

“Mindfulness” is a buzzword that I’m sure you’ve read about 9000 times on the interwebs–whether it’s through an Instagram caption or a Well+Good article. The wellness industry is all about ~mindfulness~ these days. But, like, what if I don’t want to take a damn epsom salt bath or can’t afford Moon Powder in my coffee?

I think the importance of incorporating mindfulness into your routine is truly finding what works for you. It doesn’t have to be all ~zen~ and pretty. It can literally mean dancing in your room for 10 minutes to some old school LFO bop. It’s just about being present with yourself.

I’ve partnered up with The Glow Club–a new meditation studio designed for people who “don’t meditate, but should” (LOL ME) to incorporate more mindfulness into my routine. It’s been a lovely experience this far–more of mentally hard experience than I ever imagined, but that’s their thing.

Mental exercise is just as important than physical exercise!!!!

I’ve talked more in depth about my journey with mental illness–but even several years later, I still feel the repercussions. I’m no longer cutting myself or bringing myself to a dark place that doesn’t allow me to get out of bed, but every day is still a struggle.

It’s a warped, fucked up, beautiful struggle, but it’s a struggle. Such is life.

Below you’ll find some mindfulness practices that I’ve been incorporating into my routine. Some may work for you, some may not. But I encourage everyone to find their own way to be present.

***

Writing down my intentions for the day first thing in morning

This is sort of a cliche “mindful” practice, but it’s great and literally takes five-ten minutes to do. I think there’s a stereotype about journaling that it’s too “time consuming.” Or people make the excuse “I’m not a good writer.” Who gives a F?! Nobody is reading your journal if you don’t want them to. I write down five things that I’m grateful for (sometimes they are just single words, some days I get more in depth), followed by five intentions for the day (what I want to accomplish, how I want to feel, etc.). There are no rules to this! If you want to ~show gratitude~ towards the fat breakfast bagel you’re about to devour, DO IT!

A 10 minute dance session, by myself (and Kevin)

Cristina and Meredith were good for much more than a bomb-ass drama series (any Grey’s fans reading?), they had this thing that they would do, drunk or sober, to escape their dude or work drama–for Grey’s fans, you know that this was like all of the time lolz–they had a random dance sesh. Mine certainly doesn’t look as eloquent as theirs, and I’m usually listening to some overplayed bop–The Middle by Zedd, most likely–but I’m ~dancing like nobody’s watching~ because there is quite literally, nobody watching. Well, besides Kevin.

Breathing more

Wut, Beth, I breathe all day? Yeah, but do you ACTUALLY take time to enjoy breathing? Like, it’s the singular thing that is keeping you alive. We are obviously trained to breathe until our bodies no longer allow us to, but I think we should all give a special shoutout to breathing AT LEAST once day. Not telling you to stand from the rooftop and confess your love for it, but separate yourself from work for thirty seconds and just…breathe.

Cory and I had a huge event last Saturday. It was our first project as a team (more on this later), and STRESSED is an understatement. I had to close the bar the night before, Cory was out celebrating his birthday, we were both just tired and anxious. The event was about to start and we were high strung AF, frantically strategizing and preparing.

I stopped and looked at him…”Hey, can we just breathe for a second?

“Beth, I freaking love you.Yes. Let’s breathe.”

We sat in silence with our eyes shut and just…breathed. We then took an extra few minutes to talk about things we were thankful for and hype ourselves up. This was a TOTAL game changer. Highly recommend.

Hitting up The Glow Club multiple times a week

Yeah, this has been a game changer. Truly. They are 30 minute meditation classes that aren’t your typical meditation classes. As I mentioned above, it’s literally an exercise for your brain. I’ve cried during class a couple of times as I addressed things in my brain I’ve been suppressing for days, months, even years. Some days I leave feeling mentally exhausted, but also refreshed. Why would I wish this kind of mental treatment only myself? It’s DAMN important! Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, and we shouldn’t pretend it is. In a short few weeks, I’ve been able to incorporate these practices even outside of the studio.

I’m angry, but why am I angry? Where is this stemming from? I hate my body today, but why? When you start to develop a deeper understanding for your emotions rather than remaining stagnant in how you feel is when you’re able to start healing.

***

Thanks for stopping by and reading. I’ve been fairly quiet about mental health this month (ironically, since its Mental Health Awareness month), but as we enter into the last week fo it, I want to remind you that it’s so important to OWN your emotions and struggles and not let them own you. Take time for yourself every day and just…be. Find the “secret sauce” to get you to this very moment. Here. Right now.

If you wanna know what you’re in for at The Glow Club, check out these pics below. The studio is BEAUTIFUL and the owner and instructors are all amazing people. First class is free and LMK when you sign up so we can go together! Pic credit: Cory Lawrence.

 

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