Dog x OTP Series

To lower the anxiety level I had back in March, I worked on a mini art project depicting my favorite fictional pairings as dogs. I did this with Adobe Photoshop as I am still a noob at Illustrator. I once thought of printing these works as postcards but I was not able to check if there is a market for something like this.

Anyway, here are my favorite OTPs and how I figured out which dog represented them:

1.  Dmitri & Anastasia from Anastasia (1997)

Dmitri-Anastasia - Type

For this pairing, I chose Russian dogs to represent both characters. Dmitri is a Siberian Husky because both are easy going, funny, friendly, and mischievous. Anastasia is a Royal Spaniel to pay tribute to the royal dog of the Romanovs, Joy.

2. Draco & Hermione from the Harry Potter series

Hermione - Draco w type

Dramione has always been my main ship since time immemorial. There’s a spark between the two characters that was unexplored by the books.  (Thank you, fanfics!) Anyway, Hermione is a Border Collie because this English dog is the smartest and one of the most hardworking out there. Plus, look at that fluffy but tamed fur! Draco is a Papillon primarily to pay tribute to his French heritage and distinct hair. Papillons are among the smartest and is known to be a slow-to-warm up dog.

3. Belle & Prince Adam from Beauty and the Beast (1991, 2017)

Beauty and The Beast Type

Belle and Prince Adam are French dog breeds, Poodle and Briard. I choose a Poodle to represent Belle because both are mislabelled as only beautiful not knowing that they are also smart, sophisticated, and loyal. Beast is a Briard because both can be aloof with strangers. Once you get to know them, they will show you their friendly and fiercely loyal nature hidden under all that fur.

Thinking of continuing this art series in the future. Which pairing would you like to see next? 🙂

My Anxiety Self-Care Practices (Part 2)

Thank you for the lovely messages, everyone. I deeply appreciate the concerns and your sharing of your stories. I am glad that my experiences and coping strategies are helping. Your comments aid me too in deciding which topics I can write about in the near future. 🙂

Anyway, here is part two of my self-care practices on anxiety.  (Read part one here) If you have any clarifications or you want to share some of your own, you are more than welcome to drop a comment or an email. Wahuuuu!

During and after panic attack

  • Before I reach full escalation, I muster the strength to call one of my primary care. As soon as I am in contact/ I am with him/her, I release my emotions.
  • My primary care helps me gain focus on the reality by:
    • doing breathing techniques with them
    • letting me hold their hands / hug them
    • soothing me by NOT saying “Calm down.” ; she/he knows the command just does the opposite
    • listening to my concerns and responding gently, always aiming to ground me back to the present moment
    • by my request, assisting in taking my attack medication
  • “This too shall pass.” I repeat these words in my head until the attack dissipates.
  • After the attack, I acknowledge and process the experience by not blaming anyone especially myself. I rest.

General Self-Care Practices

  • Practicing mindfulness. This therapy has helped me cope with a lot of stressful situations by meditation, walking, and journaling. I’m perusing Dr. Bob Stahl and Dr. Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook.
  • Exercise! In my case, my exercises are carefully reviewed and prescribed by my physiatrist due to my Fibromyalgia. Doing my sets (especially cycling!) everyday helps me manage my mood and keep myself in touch.
  • Overcoming triggers one by one. HA! This is a work-in-progress since I have a LOT of anxiety triggers. I’ll write a separate post for this.
  • Listening to soft, classical music. Cliche as this sounds, Yo-Yo Ma’s playing of Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major relaxes me when I write or review for my academics.
  • Painting. I just started this two years ago and I found it as one of my effective outlets.

Recommended Resources:

  • If you are curious about mindfulness, click this free, online MBSR site that offers an eight-week course! Swearing by this because I get some of my meditation recordings here.
  • If you find yourself having the urge/are experimenting with drugs as a way to cope with anxiety, please visit DrugRehab.com. I found the site insightful and reassuring.
  • AnxietyBC has a lot of downloadable resources on anxiety disorders. It also has a self-help section that you may find useful.
  • If you are dating someone with anxiety disorder, check out this list of advice.
  • If you want to help someone cope with anxiety, this site explains the do’s and dont’s.

I will constantly write about self-care practices and experiences on anxiety here. 🙂 If you are experiencing anxiety, please please please remember:

Image result for you will be okay gif

Suffering and Faith

(Full disclosure: I am a liberal Roman Catholic who believes that science and faith complement each other. I love Jesuits. My God does not discriminate.)

“How can you still believe in Him when you’re in pain all the time? After all that you’ve been through? Did you ever question God?”

I did. In fact, I had a period when I almost believed He abandoned me. Why did He let me be as sick as this? Why wasn’t He “healing” me? Why wasn’t He here when I am most in pain?

Subscribing to the principle of a faith seeking justice, I asked three priests on why God allows people to suffer. First was my confessor from sixth grade to senior year of high school, who knew a lot of my troubles including my first heartbreak. He replied that God is not a God of bad things.

Second was my college sophomore year confessor. I asked Him if God makes people suffer. He reminded me of what I learned from my Theology 103 class. God is not a God of vengeance. God is a God of mercy and compassion.

Lastly, I asked my recent confessor who I saw was slightly taken aback when I posted my question. He told me that God does not favor pain nor does He leave people who are in pain.

For awhile, I was lost. No book nor explanation comforted me.  It made me rethink of the reasons why I believed in a higher being and why I chose to believe in my God.

Then I remembered that in order to have faith, one needs to leap from reason. Scrambling my reasons for leaping, I remembered the picture showing the interaction between a beggar and a well-clothed man along a pedestrian bridge. In the beggar’s eyes, He saw Jesus approaching him. In the man’s point of view, he saw Jesus sitting and staring at him.

It was this memory of the picture that resurfaced my realization years ago: I leapt because I see Him in every person I meet and in every beauty. Whenever I see people choosing their humanity in every situation, I see Him.

Thus, when I looked back and reflected, I saw that I failed to recognize Him in my nurses, my doctors, my loved ones, my learners, my colleagues, and strangers who had been with me since the beginning. He never left me alone, not for a second. He healed me through the nights my boyfriend answered my midnight calls of anguish, every moment my parents held me as I battle an attack, and everytime someone makes an effort to be with me and make me happy. He had loved me in ways I needed to be loved.

I still don’t know why sufferings exist. I hope I’ll have an answer someday. But now, my conclusion is this: my God loves perfectly and the love that I know is nowhere near close.

On Bullying and Depression

Note: I wrote this weeks ago and planned to publish this on my site at the end of the month. But I’m having terrible nightmares and post-traumatic flashbacks since last week. I have a feeling I’ve been triggered by the posts about Thirteen Reasons Why. Thus, I’ll be detoxifying from any social media save for FB messenger, email, and my blog for…I don’t know. My health is my priority. Have a safe holy week and vacation, guys.


 

Bullying was the one topic I actively avoided. If I were to refer to it, I would use euphemisms and just brush past it. However, I learned in my history classes that dark periods must be acknowledged so they may never be repeated. (#NeverForget!) Plus, I got questions on how I discovered I have bipolar disorder, general anxiety disorder, and panic disorder.

Before you read my story, understand that my bullying experience was a HUGE RISK factor, and NOT the DIRECT CAUSE of my disorders. I do not blame anyone for what happened to me. I accept the fact that I am physiologically vulnerable to having them in the first place. My illnesses have biological causes.

Trigger warning as well. This may not be easy to swallow. Here we go:

I was bullied from fifth grade to second year high school. There were no words that can explain how I hated being called smart, intelligent, or a nerd. I hated that I love learning and studying. I hated that I like anime and books. I hated that my tastes in music are not mainstream. I hated that I am curvy. I hated a lot of things that I used to love.

I hated myself and no one knew. At age 11, I had my first attempt. I remember being a walking emotional wreck who hid inside the comfort room cubicles during lunch.

At age 12, I cried every after school dismissal. I remember congratulating myself for surviving another day. No one knew.

At age 13, I stayed in the corners of the class with my three close friends. Social outcasts stayed together. I had my second attempt; no one knew.

At age 14, I almost had my third attempt. My sister, bless her heart, stopped me.

At age 15 and 16, I filled my schedule with lots of extra curricular activities and advance classes. The busier, the better. The more I did, the more I was not forced to admit that I was having panic attacks and recurring nightmares. I thought they were normal. I thought I moved on.

Invalidating my pain for a long time, I realized, had difficult consequences. 2015, the tenth anniversary of my first attempt, saw me attempting three more times. Coupled with the stress from work and meeting a person I allowed to bully me, I…just drowned.

I felt hollow. I was empty. I thought there was nothing to look forward to. I didn’t move from my bed most days. I didn’t sleep. I didn’t eat right. I cried a lot. I cancelled plans with my friends. I isolated myself from my co-workers. I was disconnected with the world. I had no energy to keep up with life anymore.

My mom and my sister urged me to seek help before it was too late. Two days after my 21st birthday, I was confined for severe depression and severe suicidal tendencies/ideations. Months later, my psychiatrist formally diagnosed me with bipolar type 2 disorder and two anxiety disorders.

But I want to end this post in a positive note so these I can tell you:

It’s been seven months since my last suicide ideation.

It’s been eight months since deep depression hit me.

It’s been nine months since my last attempt.

There is no hatred or anger in me that is directed towards anyone anymore. I understand that there must be something they were going through too at that time. Bullying is a cycle and I want our cycle to end it with me. No more hurting.

I wish my school supported me more throughout my stay because I can’t seem to go back and visit. No matter how wonderful my senior year was, every bathroom stall and space under the stairs remind me of the girl who wished to die. I hope the system has changed and now have the capacity to help students who are facing bullying, depression, and suicidal thoughts among other mental illnesses.

Suffice to say, I am in a better place. I came to accept that I will always carry my experiences with me. It has taken me more than a decade and I am proud to be a work-in-progress. I am not a victim; I am surviving and thriving.

Depression Fast Facts + My Self-Care Practices!

Today is World Health Day and this year’s focus is on depression. I find it fitting because I know people who have this illness who are afraid to share their experience due to the current stigma and misconceptions. Plus, Netflix’s show, Thirteen Reasons Why, delves into this disorder BUT does not do anything to show viewers how to handle/manage it. If anything, the show can trigger sufferers because of the graphic nature (Pleeeeease, if you think you can relate to Hannah, I encourage you to stop watching it. )

Fast Facts

Depression has different forms with major depression, persistent depressive disorder, other specified depressive disorder and unspecified depressive disorder among them. There are specific criteria required for each as stated by Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5). Psychiatrists determine the severity and duration of the depressed mood to be formally diagnosed as it is a common misconception that sadness equals to this disorder. (ICSI,2017)

Dr. Carey Gross of Massachusetts General Hospital developed SIGECAPS,  an acronym for the symptoms of major depression and persistent depressive disorder. It stands for:

  • Sleep disorder (increased or decreased)
  • Interest deficit (anhedonia)
  • Guilt (worthlessness, hopelessness, regret)
  • Energy deficit
  • Concentration deficit
  • Appetite disorder (increased or decreased)
  • Psychomotor retardation or agitation
  • Suicidality

Five or more of its symptoms have been present in a two-week or more period. Please remember NOT to self-diagnose; seek a healthcare professional.

Depression prevention is rare even in other countries. The prevalence rate worldwide ranges from 2.6% to 29.5%. (Oro-Josef, 2014) In the Philippines, every three hours and a half, a person commits suicide. (Butuyan, 2016)

Do not lose hope! There are treatments available such as medications and therapies. 🙂

My Self-Care Practices

My depression is co-morbid (aka related!) with my other illnesses: it is part of my bipolar type 2 mood disorder, affects anxiety disorders, and intensified by fibromyalgia. As such, my treatment plan is coordinated across all my illnesses; I have a team of doctors who help me manage them. Besides therapy and medications, I developed my own self-care practices. Here are some:

  • Alert my primary care (my family, my boyfriend, and my doctors) when I notice that my depressed mood is severe. It is hard to open up at first but I know I have more chances of overcoming the episode with them around.
  • Follow a daily-routine even on days I do not want to move. Small victories such as not overeating/undereating and taking a bath do wonders.
  • Do meditation/mindful breathing. I am a convert of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Therapy because it helps me change my mindset to something less negative. Plus, the stability I reach = priceless.
  • Respect my body’s limits aka I rest. A lot. I used to conform to the world’s obsession with being busy but I found out that such toxic lifestyle only worsens my conditions. Eeeek.
  • On days I feel a lot of despair, I eat ice cream. I watch my favorite movies. I let silence hug me until I am ready to be hugged by a loved one.
  • Keep a list of loved ones I am comfortable with. This is so I know who I can invite to hang-out when something is troubling me or when I just want to have fun.
  • Lessen social media use / social media detox every now and then.
  • Write and make art.

I hope this post *enlightens* you, even just a little, about depression. If you have any questions/comments/reactions, please do not hesitate to reach out. You have my ears. 🙂


Sources cited:

Bantuyan, J. R. (2016, July 25). Seven Filipinos commit suicide every day. Retrieved April 7, 2017, from http://opinion.inquirer.net/95929/seven-filipinos-commit-suicide-every-day
Oro-Josef, C. P., MD, FPAFP, FPCGM . (2014, October 12). Prevalence of depression in the Philippines. Retrieved April 07, 2017, from http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/prevalence-of-depression-in-the-philippines/

My Anxiety Self-care Practices (Part 1)

For my IG friends, I’ve been talking about my anxiety disorders and how they affect my day-to-day activities since I started opening up about my conditions. I realized that I haven’t shared what tools I use to battle them. Thus, I thought that maybe the habits and things I do to alleviate my attacks and to change my mindset ~might~help people too. As such, this two-part post.

Disclaimer: I am not a professional psychiatrist and the information I’m sharing here are based on two factors: a.) my experiences, and b.) the available resources my psychiatrist provides.  Most of my practices are rooted from Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Therapy. In no way I am forcing anyone to follow them or saying this is the solution to anxiety! It is still BEST to consult a healthcare professional. Also, the anxiety disorders I refer here are generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder. 🙂 

Situation 1: I am feeling too anxious and too stressed out. What to do?! 

  • Whatever I’m doing, I stop doing. I go to a corner devoid of any noise or I plug my earphones on
  • I close my eyes and focus on my breathing.
  • I remind myself that I am HERE, and NOT in the past nor the future.
  • I count slowly while taking deep breaths.
  • Then I do a five-minute mindful sitting meditation. (https://palousemindfulness.com/docs/sittingmeditation.pdf)
  • Or, if I’m feeling too jumpy for a sitting meditation, I do the walking meditation. (http://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/walking_meditation)
  • After that, I acknowledge that I needed that me time. There is no need to feel guilty or judgmental. Everybody needs rest and breaks.
  • If my meditations or breathing techniques do not work, I take my prescribed meds and/or tell a family member/friend to stay with me.

**It took me a while to get used to mindful meditation – my mind is often buzzing with worries, fears, and plans (especially when I’m manic!!!) – BUT, I kept on practicing. I recently reached a phase where it became automatic for me to do it whenever I can feel my anxiety levels are high.

Situation 2: I’m going to a crowded place. CROWD. Lots of people. How to navigate without launching into a panic attack? 

  • Days before the event/outing/trip, I make a ladder of situations. (https://www.anxietybc.com/sites/default/files/FacingFears_Exposure.pdf)
  • Then, I familiarize myself with the place. I identify areas where I can stay if ever my anxiety overwhelms me. I do this cautiously because I still have the tendency to catastrophize and to focus on what I should be. I remind myself that my goal is to push my boundaries but to respect my limits.
  • Right now, I’m still in the stage where I cannot go to a crowded place alone. As such, I call/invite someone who understands my conditions to go with me. Being with a familiar face grounds me to reality.
  • On the day of the event/trip, I pump myself. I acknowledge negative thoughts but do not dwell on them.
  • Just in case, I have my emergency medications with me. I remind myself that if ever the need arises, I will take my medications w/ little-to-no self-criticisms. I’m a work-in-progress.

**My boyfriend helped me adjust to crowds a lot by inviting me to Ateneo’s basketball games last year. We went to five. By the last game, I lasted the whole four quarters.

Situation 3: I’m having a fibro flare/asthma and allergy attack!!!!

  • For these attacks, I immediately alert my primary care (my immediate family or my boyfriend, whichever is nearby. They are trained by my doctors how to respond.) I know I cannot alleviate my situation alone.
  • On fibro flares: I identify which parts of my body are in pain, and rate them. If I rate the most intense pain 6 and below, I lie down and do a five-minute mindful breathing. (http://www.mindful.org/a-five-minute-breathing-meditation/) Then I allow myself to rest. If the most intense pain is a 7 and above, I ask for my meds, do the meditation, and rest.
  • On asthma and allergy attack: My goal here is for the attack not to escalate into a full-blown anaphylaxis shock. After taking my prescribed medications, I close my eyes and remind myself that I am still here in the present moment. I may not be able to breathe properly and I maybe itching all over, but I will be alright. My primary care is here, ready to help me gain control over this situation.

For part 2, I will discuss how I manage my panic attacks, my general anxiety self-care, and what I teach my loved ones on how to help me handle these situations. Anxiety disorders are not only affecting the suffer but also the people around him/her.

Tell me what you guys think! 🙂