I will just start by throwing myself straight under the bus. I have not released a blog post since July 2020… (yikes). I literally have just been filling up my drafts with tons of unfinished thoughts for months. I started Solflower with blogging, so it is a major staple of my brand identity. Therefore, I just have to share what’s been on my mind and get the ball back rolling. Information could arguably be one of the most powerful tools our generation has today, but it is the application (or maybe non-application) of said information that keeps our humanity at the forefront of our battles.
The majority of my posts are more so informative than personal, but this is my attempt at writing straight from the heart. I have been struggling with mental health battles since I was in middle school. I have always been pretty open and upfront about it. I’ve shared my story on all types of platforms from YouTube to podcasts to even my own mental awareness event, PAINTFLIX. I always swallow my fear and let the words of my pain reach anyone willing to listen. I never speak on my experience with mental illness because it is comfortable for me, but because I feel an obligated duty. Sometimes I can’t help but question why? Why was I chosen to be attacked by these demons? The only answer that makes sense to me is that I have to help someone else with their own… (besides the obvious answer of society’s misconstrued priorities relating to diet, pharmaceuticals, education, etc.).
In short, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder in high school. My diagnosis changed in 2018 to bipolar II depressive disorder. Although I have not technically been told I have seasonal affective disorder, I have had a doctor explain to me my depression is light sensitive (meaning it typically worsens during the nighttime and fall/winter seasons). Welp, the fall and winter of 2020 were no exception to this unfortunate truth. My daughter was a fresh two, and there is no such thing as mastering single motherhood. Yet, I still decided to tackle nineteen credit hours in one semester. I worked an odd work schedule and started a podcast. I had a handful of people pressed for me to help them attain their dreams, while still having to fight for my own. Someone close to me in my family was in and out of the hospital and needed my help throughout the week. My social life was in shambles. Some of my strongest relationships were deteriorating when I needed them most. Fun times, right?
The list of overwhelming stress factors went on and on. It was almost like an open invitation for my depression and panic attacks to waltz back in after an amazing summer. I spent more time than ever on my school work, and even though the work was not hard itself, I often found myself hyperventilating at just the touch of my keyboard. (Is my vacation from blogging starting to make more sense now?) I had the absolute worst panic attack in the history of my struggle with anxiety. My gasps for oxygen started off what seemed to be manageable. This was not my first rodeo, and I had accumulated plenty of coping skills (which I believe often save my life). Soon, the gasps started to get out of control and my knees hit the floor. I used one of my favorite mindfulness techniques. I identified five things I was able to see, four things I was able to touch, three things I was able to hear, two things I was able to smell, and one thing I was able to taste. I found myself back in the present moment; I thought I was fine. I returned to my computer just to feel my chest start pumping up and down again. Once I started hyperventilating again, I literally thought I was going to die. I just kept searching for oxygen, fighting for my next breath. I tried the sensory exercise again, but I couldn’t focus. My mom was in the backyard, and I couldn’t even make it to her for help. I called my dad barely able to get the words out of my mouth. As he helped calmed me down, my mom ended up rushing in and helped as well.
Once I got my breath under control, I was fortunate enough to be able to go for a walk while my daughter was still sleeping. I was still shaken up with tears rolling my face, but I walked until I felt better. I called off work to get rest, because I knew I would not perform well. This was just one day, but that panic attack was not the only incident. I got so overwhelmed that eventually I just started shutting down. Cleveland weather reached the typical spectrum of light grey to dark grey, and I could not escape its lugubrious peril. Eventually, my body started feeling heavier and heavier in my bed. If you have struggled with depression, then you know this usually leads to just not even wanting to live. Even with the thought, I knew it was absolutely not an option, especially with a daughter to raise. However, I was not practicing yoga or meditating as much. I wasn’t diffusing essential oils like I normally would.
All of the things that would typically help me were put on hold. I had to dig deep and start addressing the trauma that was never dealt with. I flowed like water from chakra to charka. I knew when I was ready, I would get back into my routine. It was this very faith that kept me at peace last winter. I had so much control and power as I just patiently waited for it to pass. I obviously wish I could avoid it altogether, but I am making steps in the right direction. This is what Solflower Studio is all about. There is no little pill that I can swallow to completely erase mental illness. There is no plant that I can harvest from the ground to immediately save me. This is a journey, and I continue to invite everyone with me as we all fight our demons. Now that sunshine, blue skies, green grass, and flowers have returned I have been feeling much better. I do not have all the answers to prepare me for next fall and winter, but I won’t stop searching for them and keeping you all updated.
Love and Light,