Faking it

hummingbirdIt’s been a while since I have posted as my anxiety, work, and life kept me from writing. I have also been healing, learning, drinking a lot of coffee, and focusing on Leo. I’ve tried to sit and write a blog post many times, yet couldn’t get myself to write anything down. A lot has happened and changed in my life since I started blogging.

I was brought into an Instagram world I never knew existed when I unexpectedly got new followers on Instagram.

(2,000 might not be a lot in the real insta-world, but for someone that could count the number of people she talks to in one hand, this was a little overwhelming.)

I began to feel afraid and pressure to somehow do better. To post better pictures, be more interesting, talk to other talented and creative women. I began to feel inspired, but also intimidated to the point that I couldn’t write about my anxiety.

 

I had to stop myself from feeling this way about something I really enjoy doing, as these projects I make for Instagram are a creative escape for me. There are so many feelings that come with anxiety, and cause me to feel stuck in writing, creativity, doing laundry, and pretty much a lot of other things; and I still haven’t figured out how to stop myself from feeling this way until my anxiety gets bad.

This makes me feel so guilty at times, and the last thing I want is for Leo to see his mom on pause in a world that is always running.

So I Fake it.

I fake it like the strong woman I am.

I fake that I have this whole mom thing figured out.

I fake that I know how to act like an adult.

I fake that somehow my life is nothing but beautiful.

Don’t we all fake it??

I think that it’s so important to remember that life isn’t as perfect as these squares on Instagram, and many of us are just faking it.

Which is something I keep telling myself; whenever I begin to feel bad because I want what someone else has.

To be honest my Instagram isn’t a reflection of my life; It’s my perfect dream where everything is magic, butterflies are always present and we could jump to a different world through a window.

I show you the magic I see in between my messy life as I make our pretend playtime come to life in a picture, so that Leo could remember the places we went to through creativity, maybe a little bit of magic (photoshop) and imagination. It’s so important to me, for Leo to know how beautiful art, life, and his mind could be; more importantly the everyday magic that God has let us see in life.

I’m honestly thankful for all my new followers, and friends. Especially the beautiful, inspiring mamas I get to chat with everyday. I’m happy to say that I am feeling better after having many long hikes with a good soundtrack, lots of cuddles and family jam sessions; and hope to be back to blogging more often.

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Crazy V

 

I have always been an unusual girl. I grew up writing everything down as my mind thought of and created a whole world. Creating collages, stories, and music is what has kept me sane all my  life.

 

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Its hard to explain everything that is in my mind. If someone would pick at my brain I’m sure they would get lost.

I see my brain as being someone beautiful. I wish I was the Vanessa that I am in my mind, because in my mind, I’m fearless, I’m secure about who I am and the way I look, and totally badass when I talk to others. But then someone actually says hi and I respond “good” in the least attractive voice possible. So I think about that all day and feel stupid, a little sad, and really ugly.

Damn anxiety.

 

Anxiety has always been there in my life and as beautiful as my mind can make life seem, in reality, growing up I felt alone. I became terrified of people seeing me as crazy to the point that I wasn’t able to talk about it with anyone.

 

Symptoms

Feels tired a lot.

Has backaches.

Shaky all the time.

Sweats a lot.

Curls up a lot.

Takes many breathing breaks in bathrooms.

Has trouble breathing in many situations.

Forgets how to talk sometimes.

Nervously laughs a lot.

Responds to general questions with an answer that has nothing to do with the question.

Forgets the answer to questions so just laughs and walks away.

Forgets how to speak Spanish.

Forgets how to speak English.

Has a hard time replying to text or messages.

Refuses to answer phone calls.

Has a shaky voice when talking to a group of people.

At times overly shares about a certain situation.

Has been referred to as weird, shy, awkward, and quiet.

Is in their mind A lot.

But is also Cool AF in their mind.

 

Diagnosis: Crazy

 

1. cra·zy

[ˈkrāzē]

 The definition of crazy is someone or something that is insane or not mentally sound. An example of crazy is an idea that makes absolutely no sense. An example of crazy is a person who is in a mental hospital and who is yelling, hallucinating and otherwise acting like they are insane.

 

To many. I am Crazy because I live with anxiety everyday. There are times that I believe them as I feel my mind going insane when I imagine what people think.

But then I remember, “oh yeah.. I’m really not crazy.” I don’t even fall anywhere under the definition of crazy.

Having a mental illness does not make anybody crazy! If anything it makes us very nice and cool human beings who see the world differently and are sympathetic towards everyone.  

One thing that I hope people who read my blog get from this is that many people suffer from anxiety. Since it’s becoming more common for young adults and children to suffer from a mental illness, it should be something that parents should be more educated about.

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I want my son to grow up in a place where if he ever had anxiety he does not feel crazy, and he will be comfortable enough to speak up and talk about it.

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Hello 2018

 

The first week of 2018 is over, and for most of the week I was still relaxing in my house with Christmas decorations all around me as I held on to this beautiful holiday feeling. My whole day consisted of drinking coffee and getting lost with Leo in the world for a little, not knowing the time or day. I haven’t really began to think about what starting a new year really means, as my mind has still been partially stuck in 2017.

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You see, a lot changed in 2017,

 

We went through many stages with Leo as most of it consisted of Leo going through his terrible twos—It was the year of tantrums and potty training. It was also the year that consisted of developmental tests and therapies for Leo, as we struggle with a toddler who refuses to eat most foods except pancakes, eggs, and fruit and who struggles with speech. As stressful as it all can be, I have been able to see our Leo grow so much, and his personality has never shined more.

 

Also, My Husband graduated from architecture school and began his career. Two moments that will resonate in my heart and mind forever.

Mentally—this year was a rollercoaster. There were many beautiful moments, but in the midst of those moments, there was a war in my mind. It didn’t matter how beautiful life was, because I was mentally not able to be in school, be a good mom and deal with life at the same time. As a result I chose to focus on work and Leo and was out of school for most of the year.

 

Physically—I felt broken and tired for most of the year. This was partly because anxiety has always made me feel weak and stuck, but mostly because I have to chase around a 34-pound toddler who is half my size.

 

Honestly, I don’t think I have ever really made an actual hand written (typed) list of resolutions or goals that I have for myself. In the previous years they were nothing but thoughts of hope that the New Year would be a happy year and I could somehow become a better version of myself.

 

For once I will make a list and sign my name in the end making it the most official resolution list I have ever written.

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I have many resolutions for myself, starting with taking better care of my skin/face, trying to grow thicker eyebrows, whitening my teeth, getting a tan, and working on my confidence. However, my biggest resolution for the year is to be more in control and aware of my mind, body and life and here is the list I hope will help me accomplish this.

 

 

  • Exercise and create a healthier lifestyle
    • Make a workout routine with my husband
    • Do yoga and more breathing exercises
    • Keep up with my Psychiatrist appointments

 

 

  • Write/journal more in order to get all the hindering thoughts out of my mind and on paper.
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    • Most importantly keep up with this blog.

 

  • Go back to being my creative-self.
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    • Utilize art and collages as a therapeutic method.
    • Compose Music again/play the guitar more. (Is anyone down to jam with me?)

 

  • Eat Healthier
    • Focus on Leo’s eating habits
    • Drink Water EVERY DAY
    • Make a list of Healthier choices.

 

  • Live life outside of the places I’m used to.
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    • Go out more with friends
    • Take Leo to explore the city more
    • Drive on the Freeway

 

  • MOST IMPORTANTLY be present in every moment, be the best parents for Leo, prioritize Family Time, and put God before anything.

 

 

This year I will live and not be confined to the restrictions of my mind. Instead I’ll wander the creative corners of my mind and express my artistic findings through art, writing, photography and exploration. I’m hoping that this list is only the beginning of many other goals I will continue to set for myself.

 

I wish everyone nothing but the best blessings for the rest of the year.

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It’s the little things you do—Easy Solutions to relieve Anxiety

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Everything is going amazing, and my life has been feeling better, things at work are amazing, things at school are manageable and I couldn’t be more in love with my husband and my son. Yet, there are times when my mind takes over my life and millions of thoughts begin to spin uncontrollably in my head. I begin to overthink every little step, and begin to worry about everyone around me including everyone’s thoughts of me.

This is when I begin to feel my anxiety coming in slowly like a storm, as it starts out with a little fog, then some rain and it somehow escalates into a hurricane.

I have been here many times—where I feel like I’m about to freak out and I just have to run into the bathroom where I feel like I could breath a little better.

 

When I’m feeling myself getting bad, I have two choices:

Get Worse

Or

Do something about it.

 

While the choice seems apparent, for anyone that has anxiety, lets be honest, sometimes pausing in life and not doing anything is the easiest option. That’s only because in our mind, to do anything else is like trying to swim to the top of the water to catch a breath and once you are about to reach the top, something keeps pulling you down and as you gasp for air, your lungs overflow with water, making it impossible to breathe.

 

Trying is hard—at least that’s what your anxiety makes you believe!

But if you actually begin to question that little feeling inside that keeps telling you that you can’t, things begin to seem possible.

 

Even though your body and mind keep telling you to lie back down and do nothing, DON’T. When you are feeling like you are about to Freak out or get bad again, here are a few things you can do to slap yourself out of it and beat your anxiety!

 

Easy Solutions for Anxiety that have worked for me:

 

Take control of your mind

First of all, you have to find the strength in yourself to tell yourself that you are not going to sit around and do nothing, and make a plan to consistently follow every week. Don’t over think it, just sit down and write down a few things that you have to do every single day. Make copies of it and have it in places you look everyday. This way you have a set routine that will make your day run smoothly.

 

Drink Water

Let me tell you guys that Water is the Best! I had many moms recommend drinking more water and it has worked so much for me.

Two glasses of water every morning has given me energy, which is huge because anxiety is so draining. It’s the best thing to get you up and moving in the morning. Drinking water during the day has also helped me feel more focused and relaxed, which means that I’m not shaking during the day as much, which is amazing,

 

 

Exercise/Stretch

When I workout I focus more on the stretch that each exercise makes me feel, over anything else. Exercising really clears my mind, and it always has, but there are times when there is no time for exercising and it becomes something that is rare. I have come to learn that it is better to prioritize things that are good for your mind and body so that it becomes easier to do every other responsibility.

Stretching is the first thing I do every morning, so that my body doesn’t feel so stiff and tight.

 

Here are a few easy yoga stretches to get your day going:

 

Shoulder stretches

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Standing Forward Bend

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Child’s Pose

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Cat Cow Pose

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Corpse pose

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And basically just doing any yoga stretch. The point of these exercises is to become more aware of your body and to release tension in your muscles.

 

Breath

As breathing begins to feel a little harder, the first thing you should do is a breathing exercise. Really, even doing breathing exercises from time to time helps you clear your mind. When you exercise or stretch you should be focusing on your breathing. Everything should always be focused on your breathing, and it will be a lot easier to do just that. Trust me.

 

Here is the Breathing Exercises that gets me through the day:

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Square breathing:

  1.  Breath in through your nose for four seconds.
  2. Hold your breath for four seconds
  3. Breathe out for four seconds
  4. Hold your breath for four seconds

Repeat until you feel better.

 

Be around people who make you the happiest

There are an infinite amount of other options that are easier to do everyday; for example, it’s easier to stare out into space for hours and get lost in your mind, it is easier to binge on Netflix for 24 hours. It’s easier to close yourself off from the world, but why would you want to be so stuck?

Make yourself talk to someone, or text someone. Don’t talk about your Anxiety the whole time, but go out and actually have a normal conversation with someone you could relax with. Go have some delicious food that will make you feel happy and go to the places that boost your energy. Explore the City you live in.

 

Or stay home, but invite someone over that could somehow make you feel more human, Just be around people you LOVE because that is the best you can do for yourself.

 

Lastly, maintaining a healthy diet, having a routine, setting a good environment around your house that make you feel a good energy, having plants in your house, and taking vitamins are also good options!

 

Just remember, taking it one step at a time is the best thing to do.

 

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My Love, My Remedy

Growing up I didn’t feel like I could relate to anyone or anything. I was afraid to get close to someone or to show my real thoughts, my real emotions, the real me. I went through life trying to not be noticed and somehow for a reason that I have never understood, one person walked into my life and changed everything. God this is so cheesy and I think the people who are closest to me know that I am a person that does not show any kind of emotion, but I’m telling you, if there is anything out there that can save you it’s LOVE.

I consider myself blessed to have found my husband. It’s been 8 years this week since we first got together. We didn’t know anything back then, for we were so young and naïve. Not knowing what life is really about, all we knew is that things—life—felt better together. I was weird, and he was awkward, I was shy and he was quiet. And everything was perfect.

He always knew that I was a little quiet, afraid of some things, insecure, and anti-social. It was all okay because for the most part, he was too.

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Everyone called us quiet but we didn’t care because we were quiet together. When we were alone, we talked about everything we thought about—life, family, fears—we talked about the world, we acted completely crazy and laughed like kids and everything was beautiful.

Of course like any other couple we fought A LOT; primarily because of my insecurities. I knew that something about me would end up pushing him away, but it never did. HE was always there no matter how many times I pushed away, or closed myself off. As much as I told him I couldn’t meet his family because I wasn’t good enough. As much I told him that I was too messed up for him, he never gave up. He would do anything and everything to somehow make me smile, and he showed me what it was like to be loved unconditionally, without regret, remorse or anything to hold back—just pure, unique love.

 

San Francisco

 

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When we moved to San Francisco, our love was tested completely. We ended up both moving up there for art school. He was studying architecture and I was studying creative writing.

Our lives completely changed in a total unexpected way. School took up most of our time. He was in the SF campus while I commuted every morning to Oakland. All I can say is that life was beautiful in SF, but my mind, and the anxiety that I felt, was very dark.

It caused me to completely shut down, my body was hurting, my health was weak, and my mind was sick…. I remember all the time going into the bathroom and curling up into a fetal position, attempting to hold my tears back in between classes, and not being able to produce a single writing assignment for my classes. The critiques were killing me; my whole body would shake uncontrollably and I would throw up from how nervous and scared I was. I’d spend 50 minutes in my head trying not to freak out in front of other students, contemplating whether everyone was profusely staring at me or if it was all in my mind. I’d count each minute waiting for what seemed to be never ending classes to come to an end. During critiques my voice would literally tremble and my heart would race at 100 beats per minute. It’s as if my mind and my body weren’t connected and I couldn’t even read out loud without my voice cracking or my mind turning blanks. I began to miss school, and he began to get angry. He saw it as spending thousands of dollars for school, and me missing—to him—was me not getting my money’s worth. From a literal perspective, that’s exactly what it was, but to me, it was my debilitating and somehow paralyzing anxiety that would set me back, rendering me useless. I shut down completely and wouldn’t tell him about my anxiety attacks, about missing school, about needing help. I found myself riding on Bart for hours; I was afraid to get off on the stop to go to school or to go home as I imagined him leaving me for the crazy person my mind made me up to be. It wasn’t until things got so bad between us that I just broke down in front of him. And all he did was hold me and told me everything was going to be okay, and just with those words, I felt as if he had lifted some of the heavy weight that merely collapsed my lungs and I was able to breath a little better. He had no idea what was happening, just that I needed help, and that’s exactly what he gave me.

 

But he offered me more than help; from then on he has been my biggest support, my best remedy, my best therapist, my best friend, and the best husband. He was what held me through all my breakdowns. He takes over when my mind can’t handle life and guides me through my treacherous anxiety filled experiences. He helps me in housework, in getting Leo ready and keeping him distracted; he helps me by doing everything I love so that my mind can feel a little safer. And everything he does works for me.

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Anyone who knows my husband knows that he might be a little angrier than most people, a little more stubborn and sarcastic. But if they knew him like I do they would see that his heart, much like his mind is beautiful. He has been patient, kind loving and what has helped me the most with my anxiety…and honestly I couldn’t ask for anything more than that.

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Love, a Shy Mama

Even though I have only known to call the thing that has always set me apart from this world as ANXIETY for about three years now, I remember feeling the overcasting shadow of fear creeping over my life, easing its way into my mind. Anxiety planted its seeds deep in my mind only to find it setting its roots deeper and deeper, and soon those mortifying thoughts instilled in my head began to evolve into physical weight pressed upon my neck as if I were forced to carry the weight of the world upon my shoulders. It left me trembling at times, sending paralyzing shockwaves throughout my body with exceeding pressure on my chest and throat. I felt as though my lungs were utterly constricted by the invisible lingering pressure of the fear that anxiety instilled on my life. I just never knew what to call it or what it was.

I felt like an alien trying to figure out how to act human, as I always second guessed every step I took, every word I would say, the way I would breath or sat in a room as if everyone’s eyes were always on me. I remember writing about it in my journals and researching of ways to act more normal as if there was some sort of Special formula or recipe.

 

Eat…

Drink…

Breathe (Most of the time?)…✓

Communicate…NO CLUE!?!    

 

img_0171 copyImg. By Vanessa Casas

The Symptoms

 

The more I remember the more I realize how far back in my life my anxiety began.

The first day of Kindergarten was the first day of many years of little V crying every morning before school for many years. I remember my mom crying with me out of frustration because she didn’t understand why I cried so much. I didn’t understand either; all I knew was that I always felt this massive weight pulling me down, and I could only unwind and felt at ease next to my mom.

 

I remember sleepless nights from stomachaches. Many breakfasts, lunches, and dinners uneaten, out of the fear or pressure asserted by others to eat. This resulted in me eating in separate rooms, or at a different time than everyone else.

 

I remember not knowing how to begin a conversation with other kids my age, which alienated me and made it that much harder to make friends.

 

To be honest, I remember my parents having many hardships with me, but they just always thought I was just a shy/nervous girl. And yet to the day, for those who don’t comprehend my anxiety, it is what everyone still thinks of me—Vanessa is a SHY GIRL.

 

That’s who I became—I’m a shy girl became my excuse for the way I was, and my shyness became my diagnosis for most of my life.

 

 

My Diagnosis

 

Shy:

(adjective)

1. Nervous or timid in the company of other people.

‘I was pretty shy at school.’

1.1. Shy of/about Slow or reluctant to do (something)

‘the wealthy have become less shy of displaying their privilege’

 

1.2. in combination Having a dislike of or aversion to a specified thing.

‘he was very car shy when he came here’

 

1.3. (of a wi

ld mammal or bird) reluctant to remain in sight of humans.

‘otters are very shy animals’

Sourced from: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/shy

 

Of the latter, I coincided the most with the last definition: (of a wild mammal or bird) reluctant to remain in sight of humans.

And I’m not a mammal or a bird, so what was wrong with me? Why was I reluctant to hide from others?

I fell into every category of the definition of Shy, yet I still didn’t understand it. Why was I shy even if I didn’t want to? What was this fear holding me back?

 

Even though my way of being was under Shy in the definition, one thing that I still couldn’t figure out was the feeling of feeling intimidated, pressured, judged, but most of all, the fear of what EVERYONE thought of me.

I felt incomplete and dismantled, yet I somehow managed to live an acting role in my own life as the shy girl, smiling as much as I could, answering questions with the upmost respect and professionalism as to not give anyone suspicion that I am in anyway weird or different. To be honest I believed myself to be the best Shy girl out there, and that kept me content (mostly).

 

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To My son Leo,

 

You are already braver than your mama

for you jump from higher places

and run at faster paces.

Your are already stronger than your mama

for you lift things higher,

and get up faster,

You are already better than your mama

for you are everything your mama wants to be.

 

 

Love,

A Shy mama

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Source:

Shy | Definition of shy in English by Oxford Dictionaries. (n.d.). Retrieved December 04, 2017, from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/shy

 

(Shitty First Blog)—by an anxious mama

 

As I sat down for the millionth time to write my first blog post, I began to feel my chest caving in from the unimaginable yet invisible weight of my anxiety. My anxiety disorder began to act up—again. As I found myself about to close my computer and remiss back into a fetal position and begin my breathing exercises, I decided to act out of character and just go for what I considered my: Shitty First Blog. It was all I could muster at the moment, but I knew that after a lengthy year of fantasizing myself writing my first blog, there was no perfect or ideal way to start it.

I titled it “What I’m All About” with aspirations that I would be able to, for the least part, write about what I knew best about myself. I was able to write that I myself am a young mother and wife, but most importantly I was able to publicly admit that I have an Anxiety Disorder. Those five words were the hardest for my trembling fingers to type, and for my eyes to read, but there was no turning back. For the first time in my life I acknowledged my anxiety disorder and decided to come out and let more than just my husband know about it. Now my anxiety is published in a small part of the Internet where I secretly hope that maybe no one I know will read.

At this moment, my mind flusters with imaginary thoughts of the people that read this blog post for the first time…“This poor Girl can’t even write”… “This is so embarrassing for her”… “Her blog is pointless.” “I feel sorry for her”…

My mind could be a bit excessively dramatic at times.

One thing that I won’t let my anxiety do anymore is stop me from getting better, and I’m writing this blog to be a better friend, a better wife, but most importantly a better mom to my sweet boy Leo.

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I refuse to let my son grow up seeing his mom being scared of the world.

 

How can I teach Leo to be a better version of myself? How can I teach Leo to not be scared of making friends? How can I teach Leo to not be scared of trying new things?

How can I when all my life I haven’t been able to teach myself these things?

I know that in order to teach him these things, I have to be able to demonstrate them myself. That should be easy…said no one ever with anxiety!

 

First off, I have to admit to you many truths about myself:

Driving scares me.

Writing scares me.

People scare me.

Family scares me.

Talking to anyone other than my husband and mom scares me.

Okay I think you get the point. I’m practically scared of the world. Most of my anxiety is Social, yet hear I am trying to overcome these fears.

Okay so now the Plan…………. Make a plan.

Can anyone help me?….

On a more serious note, I will begin by pushing myself to do things out of my comfort zone. Which is doing anything other than letting my anxiety take over my life; I want to be more comfortable stepping out of the house, trying to hang out with friends and planning play dates for my son.

Secondly, because study shows that certain foods cause or worsen anxiety, I will start out by limiting my sugar intake. Basically I’m addicted to sugar and I hate to admit that I probably go days without drinking a full glass of water. As a result, I have decided that I will drink water instead of juice and Soda. I asked my Husband to get rid of all the juices and soda already.

Lastly, I will research ways to control my anxiety. I’m hoping to receive advice from you guys with more ideas of what to do or to tell me what works best for all of the mamas with anxiety.

Wish me luck!

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