The Person Living In My Head

For as long as I can remember, I have always looked for aspects of myself that I should hate. These aspects are including physical and internal/emotional aspects. However, because I have been conditioned by my parents to criticize every detail about myself, I am just now learning how to validate these emotions.

Almost everyday of my life, I have changed my outfit multiple times a day. This was mostly because I had so much anxiety about what was appropriate to wear for certain occasions and what people would think of me. I have always found something about myself to be dissatisfying, in regards to the way I physically appear. This was an aspect my own mother made fun of me for. She knew the difficulties I had with my self-esteem and used it as a means to make me feel even worse about myself. She intentionally encouraged me to wear more revealing clothing. Along with this, she continuously tried to discourage me over the idea that I didn’t have a boyfriend. This recurring toxic shame caused a feeling of being unworthy of anyone’s attention, including my parents.

Furthermore, I also very clearly remember holding a smile back that showed my teeth when I was younger. My teeth were extremely crooked and I had always been self-conscious of it until I got braces in 5th grade. My piano teacher, at the time, had even asked me to smile for recital pictures. He also asked my mom about why I wouldn’t smile and in response, she would essentially tease me over it. I was self-conscious because of her.

As I continue to validate my feelings, I realize more and more about my self-critic. This critic in my head is always the voice of my mother. Until I recently removed her from my life, she deliberately tried to make me unhappy. For example, every year for Christmas/my birthday, she would give me something she knew I would hate. One time, she had gone to the beach and had come back with gifts for everyone. My gift from her was a razor with shaving cream because, at the time, I was in 5th grade and had expressed that I wanted to start shaving my legs. All of my other siblings received an actual gift and I received a necessity as a “gift.”

Recently, I’ve found it even more difficult to fall asleep. I’ve always had issues sleeping because of insomnia, but recently it’s because I am genuinely afraid of falling asleep. Typically, when I do fall asleep, I will have a nightmare with someone from my past who happens to make me uncomfortable. Most of the time this person being my mother. Although, she has been in my nightmares for years, my past few nightmares have included eye contact with her.

Due to the fact that I am still living at home and I am surrounded by past/current negative energy, it is particularly difficult to receive any kind of mental recovery. The past couple of weeks have revealed to me how serious depression is. I used to invalidate those feelings of emptiness and hopelessness. I’m finally learning to validate the feelings of my inner critic and my inner child. As a way to help cope with this, I like to place myself back into the mind of my younger self. I give myself feedback like, “You weren’t safe before, but now I will keep you safe,” or “you’re not alone.” Although, it has been particularly difficult recently, I know I can learn to protect and love myself more than what my parents have ever been capable of.

The Benefits Of A Sensory Deprivation Tank

While being in Colorado during the month of February, I not only had the opportunity to experience beautiful exhibits of nature, but I had the privilege to try out a sensory deprivation tank. For anyone unfamiliar with this kind of therapy, a sensory deprivation tank is in the form of a pod/tube with water and an abundance of epsom salt. The epsom salt that is within the water, allows the body to float effortlessly, while also providing proper support and a sense of relaxation.

My first experience with a sensory deprivation tank, was a bit unsettling at first. I was placed in a room that provided a shower with shampoo/conditioner/body wash, a toilet, a couple towels, and the floatation tank. The tank was in the form of a tube and looked rather intimidating at first glance. However, after the process of removing clothes, putting in ear plugs, showering with shampoo/body wash, I climbed into the tank and prepared for one of the most relaxing experiences of my life.

This experience included a complete cutoff from any external stimuli and with the ability to float, the body is in an effortless mode of relaxation. As I had been practicing meditation for months leading up to this, I found it easy to ascend into a peaceful mindset. I focused only on my being in the isolation tank and found myself in a state of complete relaxation. With this being said, it did take a little bit to adjust and find the most comfortable position to float in. Another thing that was difficult, was the idea of being in a small space. But I was able to ease my mind by thinking only of the breath and the relief I would feel afterwards.

After a ninety minute session, stepping out of the isolation tank I had felt almost magical. I felt a sense of weight and pressure completely lifted from my chest. I could feel myself glowing and felt a sense of peace and contentment. After this session, I made it a priority to look into this kind of therapy in York, Pennsylvania. Seeing that I prefer natural remedies over any kind of medication, I found it best to invest in a monthly membership with an organization providing sensory deprivation tanks.

Furthermore, the benefits that the isolation tank had on my anxiety and C-PTSD, are unmatched compared to anything else I have tried. The sensory deprivation tank, after three total sessions, has improved the following: focus, insomnia, creativity, intuition, stress/anxiety/depression relief, and clarity. These are just examples of how it has improved my health, but it benefits people in many different ways. I highly recommend this to anyone struggling with anything similar to what I’ve struggled with. Seeing as medication is always a gamble, the sensory deprivation tank provides one with a sense of clarity in many aspects. But the most important being that medications are only crutches and true relief comes through natural remedies and realization.

Flashbacks: Remembering the Pain and Overcoming It

I am creating this post for two reasons, one being the idea that I am able to create a detailed image of what exactly happened during my childhood. The second reasoning, being the idea that I am still working through these memories and it is important that I understand how certain situations made me feel. The more I think about my childhood, the more dramatic & insane it looks to me. I want to make it clear that I am not creating this as a bashing against any family members, but simply as an outlet for myself.

As I continue working through C-PTSD and the flashbacks that come with it, there is a specific memory that keeps sticking out to me. It is certainly not the most violent and dramatic, but, this memory is one that includes my mom following me around the house while yelling hostile and hurtful words. This specific conflict arose over summer, when I began defending myself and siblings more often and confidently. My mother and I were already having several issues and I had communicated with her that I wasn’t going to stay silent about them but that I also needed space. Seeing as she is incapable of civil, intellectual conversation, she never understood these needs. What I write below is every detail that I have been able to pick out from the situation fully from my perception…

I remember earlier in the day I had communicated with my mother about something in regards to the well-being of my siblings, & she used this as a means to verbally abuse me. I went to work shortly after our argument and my mother texted me a long message, expressing how I needed to start being a better influence and that my negativity was affecting everyone in the house. At the time, I was working at Wyndridge Farm and when I received this text, I had to drop what I was doing then go to the bathroom so I could pull myself together. I cannot begin to explain how suffocating it is to have the urge to cry because of your own mother, while also being at work.

During the shift, I texted my best friend Sara and told her that I would be staying with her that night. I drove home from work in tears and I was only focused on going to my house, packing a few days worth of clothes and then leaving. However, this is not what happened. When I got home, my mom immediately followed me up the stairs and badgered me with questions, as to why I was so ‘unhappy,’ why I was so ‘cruel,’ why I wasn’t a better ‘influence,’ why I wasn’t more ‘put together,’ and why I wasn’t being more ‘helpful.’ Keep in mind, I was already practically parenting her kids at this point. As I continued moving to my room, I told my mom that I just needed space and that I wasn’t ready to talk.

Furthermore, it was at this point in the scenario in which she followed me into my room and continued to scream at me for starting so much drama and being so unhappy living there. I began hyperventilating and in between breaths, telling her to give me space. She stayed in front of me continuing to yell at me. I collapsed and my entire body was numb/tingling, while I kept my face in my hands. She told me I needed to get myself together and then left my room. I finished gathering my clothes and went over to Sara’s in a very distressed state of mind.

This situation is only an example of the kind of treatment I endured from my mother. There were many cases in which she was physically violent. Looking into her unremorseful face is what made this so damaging. My mother is the reason for the majority of my mental issues today and though I feel I have moved through a lot of it, I still have much more to work through. There are memories still to go through that cause me distress to think of. However, I find relief in sharing my experience and validating it. For the longest times, my emotions and personality type were seen as irrelevant and invalid.

When these flashbacks occur, I cannot predict how it will make me feel or for how long but it is typically unpleasant. It is mentally exhausting at times, seeing as I have no control over when it happens but I know that this is the single most important part of my healing process: remembering the pain & overcoming it.

The Mind of an Empath

The past several months, have consisted of a lot of self-growth and realization. For me, this brought up a lot of negative memories and emotions. But, it has also allowed me to notice the things that I may not have made connections for in the past. These thoughts and ideas that I experience on a daily basis, are ones that others typically do not understand. This is not to say that I am always misunderstood, however, it is to say that I have always felt that way.

In these realizations that I have been experiencing, is the idea that I am an empath. For those unfamiliar with this concept, an empath is one who has the ability to absorb energy from any setting and any person. The idea of empathy is experienced by many people, discluding narcissists and sociopaths. Empathizing is the act of putting oneself in another’s position, to better understand what they may be going through. However, an empath is able to involuntarily understand another’s emotions and state of mind, as they are literally absorbing that energy.

For as long as I can remember, my anxiety has consisted of the fact that I am unable to help people all the time. Through this, I have neglected to take care of myself and when I do, I often take my needs for granted and use them in trying to better someone else. What is difficult to understand about an empath is that they are not choosing to feel these things, it just happens. Because of this, empaths experience anxiety, depression, and helplessness on a completely different level.

Through learning more about myself, I have come to understand that whenever I would focus my energy on myself, I would be doing mentally well. However, this could all easily change once I was put in a negative space or confronted by a vampire (narcissist/sociopath). Empaths are known for the idea that they attract vampires because we are considered easy targets. Empaths strive to help others consistently and will always give people the benefit of the doubt. However, giving someone the benefit of the doubt is not always healthy in relationships. For example, the relationship with my narcissistic mother was incredibly unhealthy as she used all of my abilities in her own scheme to tear apart my self-esteem, just so she could build her own.

I have experienced anxiety on a level that is difficult for almost anyone to comprehend. While also dealing with C-PTSD, it has been incredibly difficult to only focus on myself. My siblings have always been my main concern and when they feel at a loss, so do I. When they feel to be in a better mood, so do I. This concept goes for anyone I care about and can include any kind of physical issue they may be dealing with. I am slowly learning how to take care of myself on a level that allows me to decipher my own emotions, from the emotions of others.

Although, I will never be able to have a choice in feeling the emotions of others, I do have the choice in how I identify and cope with them. In this knowledge, I am able to grow as a person and also show support towards those I care about. As I continue to learn how to identify what is healthiest for me going forward, I am also learning that I cannot control the emotions of others and how they cope with them. I have begun to accept the idea that every individual must fight their own battles whether it be mental or physical, and I can only be there as a guide.

When it comes to protecting myself, I have separated myself from larger social gatherings, as this is a trigger for my anxiety. Reason being, is the constant search for different energies whether I am fully aware of it or not. I can absorb any kind of vibe in a setting that is typically grown from the individual interaction in the room. It is also extremely necessary for me to spend time on myself and use tools, such as meditating, to work through difficult periods. I will never be exempt from feeling this much, but I can learn to use it to my own advantage, as well as an advantage for others. A constant cycle of self-loathing is not a way in which I will thrive.

The Effect Nature Has on Mental Health

The past several months, have consisted of one cold day after another. Personally, I love winter for the idea of snow and wrapping myself in layers. However, I find myself feeling down because the colors in nature have faded and I am constricted to being indoors. My mental health becomes an obstacle course through winter months as I struggle to find the best source of release. Seeing as my source of relief is being outside, I become distressed over having no control upon the weather.

For as long as I can remember, I have always had a great appreciation for nature and what it presents to us. It leaves me in awe, that our planet is capable of such beauty. I feel refreshed and free when I’m exposed to this environment. I am in my best state of mind and feel as if I could live in the trees forever. Along with these aspects, I am able to set myself apart from the daily distress of society.

As it is difficult to experience this feeling when enclosed during winter months, I expose myself to different sources of relief. Specifically, I enjoy going on car rides, as this brings me closer to the idea of being outdoors. I cannot begin to describe how it feels when the sun hits my skin. It feels as though I am being completely consumed with warmth and in that moment, there is nothing else to do other than smile and thank the universe for keeping you alive. To experience such moments as those, are an absolute privilege.

It is incredibly important to find a source of the nutrients that the sun supplies for us. Especially, on the days that we are unable to be physically, exposed to it. Our mental health depends on us to take care of it so we can grow as a person. When we take care of ourselves, it improves our state of mind and our self-esteem. Seeing the things our body and mind are capable of, make it all the more worth it to nurture it continuously.

Sibling Dynamic with a Narcissistic Parent

When an individual is brought up in a family in which the parent is narcissistic, there tends to be an incredibly different relationship dynamic between siblings. It is inevitable in this kind of setting, that a child will experience mental and physical health issues later in their life due to this abnormal dynamic.

Whenever there is a narcissistic parent involved, there is always the scapegoat of the family and the golden child of the family. Although the scapegoat and the golden child experience a more intense level of abuse, the other siblings involved experience some extent of abuse as well as neglect. These roles between siblings may change throughout the rest of their time living in that house. However, in my house, the roles never changed until my older sister moved out.

For as long as I can remember, I have been the scapegoat of the family. The scapegoat is essentially what holds the family together. The idea is that the scapegoat is willing to defend themselves in unjust situations, even if this means they will get in trouble. I was always incredibly worried for my siblings and when a problem arose, I would not hesitate to defend them. As I continued to stand up for myself and my siblings, I received a higher level of abuse. My mother saw me as the “troubled” child and believed I was capable of nothing other than being a “bad influence.”

My mother began feeding information to my siblings and outside family members that there was a point in which, all of my siblings turned against me at some point or simply bullied me. I specifically remember turmoil becoming more intense between my mom and I when my younger sister, Ali, was hospitalized due to anorexia. My older sister, Nina, and I had both urged our parents months before that they needed to get Ali medical attention. It was not until she was near death that they brought her to the hospital.

At the time of this occurrence, I was in eighth grade and Ali was in sixth grade. It was the start of a couple years, in which, Ali was constantly in the hospital or a rehabilitation center. There was a cycle of coming in and out of programs. Her recovery was made immensely difficult as my parents did not give her the support she needed. Anorexia is a mental illness which they refused to grasp and it was a devastating few years as my siblings and I could not do much other than focusing on being there for her.

It was particularly difficult for me because Ali and I began to draw apart. I was struggling immensely with depression and anxiety at this time and it became difficult to grow a relationship between her and I as we both felt helpless in aiding our personal needs. It was two years later when I realized that my mother had neglected the needs of Nina when she was near the age, in which Ali was struggling the most.

My older sister shed light on the fact that my mother neglected to give her the help she needed when she struggled with bulimia. Nina even asked her for help and my mother refused to support her. When I discovered this, I felt the need to speak up to my mother and confront her for the way she had treated Nina but also how she was currently treating Ali. This act of defense ended with my mother screaming at me while on the phone with Nina. She continued to tell me I was wrong and that none of it happened. It was the first time I had a panic attack to the point I was hyperventilating.

After this extremely scarring event, I grew more and more anger towards my mother but also pain. I would get into screaming battles with her but ones that always ended in her telling me how disappointed she was that I was like this. My panic/anxiety attacks became even worse, in which I would shake uncontrollably, hyperventilate, cry, black out, and nearly my entire body would go numb- which was absolutely terrifying.

As for my other siblings, I began to notice a decrease in their energy level and mood. I knew they were struggling and would try to be there for them as much as possible but I didn’t even know how to help myself. There were times when they would get incredibly angry with me in my mother’s defense which made matters even more complicated.

As far as the golden child is concerned, for a while it was my older sister. This made sibling dynamic in our household very tense because all of us were experiencing a different level of abuse but we weren’t able to get closure about it because we simply didn’t understand it ourselves. However, as I begin to learn more about this toxic way of living, it becomes more and more obvious how dire it is to work through this trauma.

Recently, I have been struggling with C-PTSD and anxiety on a level that I have never experienced before. The realization of the treatment I experienced throughout my entire life, has brought back a ton of flashbacks and put me in a mindset that feels suffocating. I have made it a priority for myself to work through this trauma and know that I will find peace.

Healthy Relationships

Throughout my entire experience being in public school, I became friends with several different kinds of people. I can say honestly and proudly, that the majority of these people are no longer in my life. As I strived to fit into the public school environment while also struggling with anxiety and depression, I became friends with people who were seemingly good for my self-growth. However, that was not at all the case when I became more educated about my self-worth.

The majority of my relationships, consisted in them telling me absolutely anything and everything about themselves. Throughout my life, people have always been extremely vulnerable towards opening up with me, seeing as I was encouraging and positively willing to listen to any of what they may be going through. Because of this, I began to notice a change in the attitude of my friends towards me. It became blatantly obvious that they were totally consumed with themselves and overall, they were not helping my self-growth.

I specifically recall a time period in tenth grade in which I became friends with an array of people and we had our own “friend group.” This was the first, only, and most toxic friend group I have ever been a part of. I have always been an introvert so being introduced to this kind of relationship dynamic showed me how valuable my own being was and that I was obviously taken for granted. Most of these individuals were so consumed with themselves that they simply neglected to understand the kind of person I was. All of these people, other than one, were extremely immature and uneducated.

In the following years of my high school career, I began slowly removing people from my life that were obviously toxic. I became much more independent and self-motivated as I began to realize, I am the only one to fully understand the extent of my mental battles as well as my self-worth. I started using social media as a means to express myself, rather than a means to impress other people. I began to love myself.

Although, I had few friends, I have made long lasting and nurturing relationships with people whom I am incredibly grateful for. My siblings, for example, are my best friends and I have so much love that should not be taken for granted and I was able to spread my love with them. Along with this, my best friend Sara, has been my best friend since we were about five years old. I cannot express enough how thankful I am for this girl, she is the most encouraging and wonderful human being I know.

As I also began to start working, my career at Wyndridge Farm was one in which I was incredibly undermined and taken for granted. However, during this time, I built a relationship with someone I truly cherish. Ellen Manning had consistently built me up and encouraged me, even though I was constantly undermined by the immature owners of this business. She was my manager and also one of the major influences in my life. I had never seen so much strength in one person until meeting her. She truly changed my perspective of myself and my potential. She showed me compassion and love through an extremely toxic environment. She was also incredibly undermined in her position as manager, making our relationship grow even stronger. I have an endless amount of thankfulness and love for this relationship.

As far as dating was concerned, I have never been one to dwell on the idea of being single. In fact, I took advantage of it and began to see myself through the eyes of love. Seeing as I have so much love, it is very rarely reciprocated back in the same manner and I am fully aware of what I deserve so I am absolutely not willing to accept less than my worth. I am incredibly grateful for the people in my life and though, I do wish to be in a relationship at times, I know I do not need one. I only need myself and my confidence goes far beyond the treatment I have been given in past relationships. I am dedicated and loyal. This quality has been used beyond compare, making my attitude incredibly steadfast towards the idea of finding someone who appreciates me for all that I am.

All in all, I have so much love and compassion that is utterly unmatched. This will always be taken for granted by some individuals, but this does not have the strength to deteriorate my self-respect and self-love.

Featuring my beautiful sister, Autumn 

Meditation

Meditation is a practice that takes time, it is a true test of your patience and self-discipline. I have been meditating, twenty to thirty minutes everyday for the past few months. In this practice, it has been the most influential few months of my life. I have devoted time each day to simply let go of whatever I am holding onto and allow myself to be in the moment. I will admit, I struggled when I initially began practicing meditation, as it was hard to see thoughts as just that, and nothing more.

There are many forms of practicing meditation, in regards to how it is observed and learned. Personally, I began meditating through the app, Calm. I highly recommend this app, as it is a incredibly, thorough start for beginners. When I began using this app, I began going through a couple weeks worth of different series, focusing on different aspects of myself through meditation. Each session, incorporated a different theme than the last, specifically to narrow in on a certain aspect of an individual’s’ life, in which, they may be struggling. However, some sessions were less guided for those who have been practicing self-discipline, either through meditation or other factors in their life.

As I began practicing more regularly, I observed several aspects of myself that had matured or softened. I noticed a positive change in my mood and invited an energetic state of mind to my life. Meditating, has become one of my only sources of relief when I am mentally/physically exhausted, or when I feel emotionally distraught. It has become an outlet for all of my emotions. This is an aspect of my life that had been much needed, as I had consistently struggled with anxiety and expressing myself, specifically towards my parents. The practice of meditation, tested my ability to tune in to the moment I was currently in. Though it was challenging at first, I shortly found aspects of my life that had been extremely, benefited from this practice.