DUST OFF YOUR LUST
Mental Health & Sex are directly correlated!
“I think and think and think, I‘ve thought myself out of happiness one million times, but never once into it.”
Jonathan Safran Foer
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults. Source: MindBodyGreen (ACT Therapy)
Let’s all take a moment and address the elephant in the room.
Stress, anxiety and fatigue are the least sexy emotions that exist.
So no; I’m not in the mood if I have spent all day running on little to no energy (fueled by coffee), have had no time for me and suppress PTSD and other mental health issues that have been there for over a decade.
No matter how expensive that lacy bra is, I’m not going to get in the mood.
What’s worrying is if this is my permanent state of mental health. And so, this is one the areas I am exploring most thoroughly.
Anxiety and arousal may both begin with A but have nothing in common. One releases happy hormones and the other nothing but stress. And this can make any form of love-making extremely difficult.
As one of the most important areas of my experiment, I am excited and terrified to share with you my deepest and darkest moments.
Mental Health Therapy
It’s not new, that I have always said I’ll need therapy one day. I reckon it would do us all some good.
We pour our worries, problems, past issues on those we love and each time I do, it feels like a burden I am sharing but not working on. And so I can’t help but think I am just pushing some of my burden on someone else.
I had tried a therapist in the past, when I was in the midst of a massive burnout (advertising agency induced), but the therapist and I were not working well with another. Perhaps a sign, that I wasn’t ready.
When I visited my GP (doctor) to discuss my thoughts he was quick to acknowledge it would do me the world of good. So, off I went on a therapist search (turns out it’s like finding a needle in a haystack).
And so, after non-stop phone calls amidst a pandemic where everyone it appears was looking for help, my husband and I decided this was something worth spending some money on and I called a private therapist. One week later, I had my first appointment.
Specifically, I have decided to venture into the realm of positive cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Less interested into digging around in my childhood, I am looking for pragmatic ways to instantly change my life. I joked with my therapist that when I’m a pensioner, I can delve into my childhood trauma but for now time is short and I need help immediately. This is exactly what she offered me.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. It’s most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, but can be useful for other mental and physical health problems. Source: NHS UK
These are my areas I want to work on:
Anxieties & fears
Meanwhile, it had started when I was assistant manager in a boutique that sells high end BDSM and fetish clothing and paraphernalia. The pressure was high. Or perhaps I was putting the pressure on myself?
It culminated in sleepless nights, worrying whether I’d locked the door or not.
Ridiculous as it may sound, the OCD crept in with me calling my mum to lock the door with me as I was convinced I would somehow physically not manage. After the birth of our oldest, it got better. Whether it was the distraction of a baby that needed me or the exhaustion that didn’t permit it, I wasn’t sure. But I welcomed the change and not having to call my husband during work to ask him to listen to me locking the door.
Current situation: the anxieties present themselves differently. They are more a fear. A fear something could happen to my kids at nursery and I wouldn’t hear my phone or get there quickly enough. Certain health anxieties. Or just things like my kids climbing a climbing frame and flashes of them falling and hurting themselves making my heart jolt unnecessarily.
PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder)
Absolutely, I still carry a lot of trauma with me from diverse situations: the first pregnancy and my son’s operations, the death of my mother and father-in-law, my mum moving to another country and a few niggly ones from my past (particularly a few relationships).
So on and off for the past five years (since having children) our relationship has been rocky.
Naturally, every relationship has its ups and downs but with thirteen years below our belts, we thought we were pretty unbreakable.
To sum up, it appears that not only do kids bring out the worst in us, the exhaustion, the pandemic, differing parenting approaches and absolute lack of intimacy (due to an amalgamation of reasons such as pregnancy, breastfeeding, constant childcare) have all pushed us into a dark hole that we are having difficulties maneuvering out of (hence my quest).
It is unquestionable, particularly in this pandemic, that parents are exhausted.
We used to have a tribe, a village, a multitude of people that not only helped do some laundry, take care of the kids, but also gave us a mental break from the already hectic life with kids.
Following one and a half years with the kids at home through the pandemic, I am frazzled to say the least. I get emotional (in every and all ways) at the drop of a hat. And it’s not healthy anymore. My relationship to my kids and husband suffers. Sure, we’re all a little burnt out and hopefully our kids will have a steady routine again soon but a little help and some tips on how to manage those hyper emotional moments would go a long way!
This is a tricky one for me. Whilst my husband meditated on a daily basis for almost ten years (then stopped and regretted it a little), it’s never really been for me. I joke, that when I take the kids to bed in the evening and empty my brain it’s like meditation but I’m only kidding myself. Just like therapy, it’s another way for me to give me brain a new stimulus. And so, I will download one of those apps and give it a go. What’s the worst that can happen?
In particular, I’m looking at mindfulness meditation.
Mindfulness meditation is a mental training practice that teaches you to slow down racing thoughts, let go of negativity, and calm both your mind and body. … Techniques can vary, but in general, mindfulness meditation involves deep breathing and awareness of body and mind. Source: verywellmind
My husband had been using the Calm App but it ended up being monotonous for him. I’ve decided to ease myself in slowly and use the Balance App on their free basis and see how it goes! The Balance App is about personalizing your experience so it feels like it could take me in the right direction.
The Balance App has a one-year free trial at the moment. Check them out here.
Firstly, I wouldn’t say I have low self-esteem or self-worth. However, I believe a few more affirmations can’t go amiss. For example, I am terrible at taking compliments. My husband overflows with praise and compliments and I fob them off although I am secretly chuffed.
A lot of this stems from my childhood (child of divorced parents) and it’s something I will touch on with my therapist. But as one not to rummage in the past too much, I will also look at the following morsels:
Ways to improve low self-esteem:
- Recognize what you’re good at. We’re all good at something, whether it’s cooking, singing, doing puzzles or being a friend. …
- Build positive relationships. …
- Be kind to yourself. …
- Learn to be assertive. …
- Start saying “no” …
- Give yourself a challenge.
Source: NHS UK
Reduce device time
I try to stare at my phone as little as possible but sometimes (and especially during the pandemic) I’ve needed the digital voices in my phone as an escape, a different person I can reach out to.
So where I do plan on using my phone to scroll social media or talk to my besties and family, I want to leave my phone untouched one hour after getting up and one hour before going to bed.
Research shows it’s not good for you either:
- It keeps your mind psychologically engaged
- The blue light from the screen suppresses melatonin
- The alerting properties delay REM sleep
Source: Cleveland Clinic
Our bedroom has always been a device-free zone and we have no bright lights either. An hour of reading before bed has always done me the world of good so that will be my bedtime routine with a warm cup of tea. Preceded by a meditation I feel this would put me in the right mindset to collapse into bed after the incredibly long days I have emotionally and mentally!
Untangle Your Anxiety: A Guide To Overcoming An Anxiety Disorder By Two People Who Have Been Through It by Joshua Fletcher and Sean Stott (link here)
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