Charlottesville & how I manage my mental health when life gets heavy

*If you're curious about making changes to how you support your mental health after reading this post, check in with your GP or your pharmacist who can support you in making informed mental health decisions. When our third eye gets stronger, and we start to see into the limitations of Western medicine, we can become fearful of "conventional" medical advice - being informed is good, but we can't forget doctors, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals have wisdom and have spent YEARS learning how to best support you and your mental health needs. If the advice of a medical professional (or ANY professional) doesn't feel right you can always seek a second opinion.*


Though my body is here writing this, my heart is in Charlottesville - and because I know this community is made up of deep feelers feeling their way through this messy world I know most of you reading this have your heart in Charlottesville too.
 

CHARLOTTESVILLE
 

News about Charlottesville nearly took me out. When tragedies like Charlottesville occur all I want to do is show up, hold space and educate my fellow white *man* on the role we play in the changes our world needs to see, but I struggle because when I witness injustice (especially around issues of race) my body goes numb and I get bulldozed by the disappointment I feel for our world. Until I understood why I felt the way I felt about injustice I would hide away until I felt I could resurface and not be affected. But now that I'm awake and aware I know hiding away (even though it's because of how much I feel for the oppressed) is a decision in favour of the oppressor. And since I'm not about that, I've had to learn to nurture my mental health like it's my job. Because it IS my job. When injustice happens I can't just hide away. I have to show up to write in this space, I have to show up to my mentorship calls.  I have to be awake and aware and still be able to function in my day-to-day, a skill set that has taken me years to master. A skill set I'm still mastering

If you're sad, I don't want you to beat yourself up for feeling that way.

Sad is a bodyguard for anger and anger is a side effect of being aware of what's going on, and being awake and aware is what makes you capable of showing up to make a difference. "If you aren't angry you aren't paying attention" and if you aren't paying attention then you don't know what needs to be brought to the light to be healed.
 

Choosing to look after my mental health in a holistic way allows me to show up to do the work I do. Below are 5 ways I choose to maintain my mental health through life's ups and downs without the use of pharmaceuticals.

Choosing to look after my mental health in a holistic way allows me to show up to do the work I do. Below are 5 ways I choose to maintain my mental health through life's ups and downs without the use of pharmaceuticals.


Us humans like to push our negative feelings aside but anger has purpose so long as it's channeled in a constructive way. Punch a pillow, take yourself to the middle of the forest and scream, and remember we have a choice to leave this world better than we found it by being intentional about how we respond when terrible things happen. 


Charlottesville isn't an isolated event, we know that.


Now how do we show up to shift the thinking that made this happen? How do we dismantle power dynamics? How do we better support misguided youth? How do we have these conversations in a real and raw way without fear of saying something wrong? How do we start to realize that systemic divides, whether based on race or sex or gender, or anything else, were created to keep the masses small? 'Divide and conquer' is strategy and when we hate each other based on differences we've been socially conditioned to notice, the powerful get more powerful and nothing changes. Resist the urge to play into it and make the intentional decision to LOVE this world and the potential it has by owning your inner world so you can show up to do your part to shift what's happening externally.


None of us are racist, sexist, homophobic, classist, ableist at our core; we are light bodies sourced from the same light. We are racist, sexist, homophobic, classist, ableist in these human bodies, though. And no one can say they aren't because that's what this Earth School is all about. We are here to transcend duality and that involves the ego (our egos!) that has carried our world for centuries and created structures that systematically taught us to hate one another.


Be wiser than that.


Realize the hate you feel for another is the hate you feel for yourself. 


Realize that most of your thoughts aren't your thoughts at all; they are the thoughts of a society and system that wanted to divide its people to conquer them. Open that third eye. Educate yourself. Get REAL and instead of criticizing someone else ask yourself where you judge another. Allow the discrimination sitting inside your bones to surface to be healed. If you aren't outwardly racist, sexist, classist, homophobic, ableist learn about micro-aggressions, be honest with yourself about where you fear difference, and know it's safe to confront your darkness because we all have a dark side, especially us empaths. We just don't like to admit it.


This post by Jessie Susannah and shared by one of my idols @sarahpetruno is important:
 

To my fellow white healers, white empaths, white highly sensitive creatures:

Now is the time to aggressively step our game up in terms of spiritual discipline. Self-care, energy clearing, grounding, centering, energetic boundaries, and protection are ESSENTIAL tools for counteracting overwhelm and fragility. Overwhelm leads to shut down. Which leads to inaction. Which is not an option. Being assigned the spiritual job of sensitivity means being assigned the spiritual job of learning the discipline to manage your gift in order to channel the information you are gifted in a responsible and effective manner. Get real with yourself about how truly you are doing the second part of the job. One of the most important things you can do as a person with privilege is Take Responsibility For Yourself. This means learning how to take responsibility for your sensitivity without using it as a reason to “tap out”. Having effective boundaries and consistent spiritual hygiene practices builds resilience, and counteracts our fragility. Protect yourself when you leave the house [jewellrey, affirmations, prayers.] Clear your head, your home, your front door, your timeline, clear other people’s energies from you, clear your hands, clear your feet, ground to the center of the earth, ask for guidance from mentors, guides, and spirits. Eat enough food, drink a lot of water and juice, make soup. Brew your herbs. And then get clear on what you need to do to take next steps in dismantling white supremacy in your home, your business, your family, your kids school, your relationships, your attitudes. There is no such thing as a not racist white person. Every single day I untangle a thread in my mind I didn’t realize was there before. Stay committed to the life long work of liberation by not expecting a pass on the basis of your (very real) hyper sensitivity. Your gifts are essential to the world or you would not have them. Find a way to make them work for you and for everyone.

I am praying for us and I know we can do better.

Amein.
— c/o Jessie Susannah / Sarah Petruno


When hatred happens we can't hide away because it hurts (though hiding away for a few days while you get your barrings is completely okay!) and we can't use being an empath or being 'sensitive' as an excuse to look away. Being informed and leaning in when the world gets messy doesn't feel good and it does impact you, your energy and your mental health, and it's supposed to. It's hurt hearts that make a difference. It's hurt hearts that make change. It's hurt hearts that notice gaps, relate with those who need most be related to, empower, bring peace, hold space, heal. Not just in healing professions, but through music, art, creating. Being strategic about what we allow into our energy field is important but energy maintenance and self-care isn't an end goal, looking after ourselves and having a plan for our mental health is a simply a tool to enable us to do our light work better. 

Here's how I do it.
 


 

How I approach my mental health when life gets hard:

 


HOLISTIC OR CONVENTIONAL CARE?

To be sensitive and still show up requires we be intentional about nurturing our mental health, whether that be by taking pharmaceuticals or by incorporating more of a holistic lifestyle plan. I personally choose to approach my mental health holistically - but that doesn't mean that's the right choice for you. There is a reason I call this space the diary of an empath - every single person on this planet has a unique set of needs and what I share in this space is commentary on mine to inspire you to take your life into your hands in a way that suits you. I don't write to tell you what to do, I write to inspire critical thought and to empower you to make decisions for yourself. The decision to be on antidepressants for low mood is a choice, and no one can make that choice but you. Only YOU know what you need. 
 

I took antidepressants 4-5 years ago and hated the way they made me feel. They took away the lows but they also took away the highs and my spirit resisted the feeling of not feeling knowing to feel is why I'm here. To not feel was not an option.


So I went off my meds (slowly and with the guidance of my GP) and dove into a holistic understanding of my mental health.


I took note of the foods I ate, the amount of exercise I did, the thoughts I had, the supports I relied on, the people I surrounded myself with and the way I viewed my personality and gifts. I found a therapist who got me and I got to work on eliminating anything and everything that didn't align with who I was and what I wanted for myself. I got better and better and better and though there are times when my heart still hurts and I get numb in a way that's all too familiar, I don't plan to rely on medication for my mental health in the future. Because I figured out what works for ME and I'm proactive in making sure the things that work for me are part of my every - day.


That's not to say I'm anti-antidepressants. Pharmaceuticals serve a purpose for so many. They served a purpose for me! And I'm grateful for it because taking antidepressants a) showed me how I didn't want to feel and b) gave me a bit of space to decide to live my life differently. Antidepressants were a buffer that pulled me out of the darkness enough to make informed decisions about my health.


Though I prefer to be more holistically based, my best friend is a pharmacist and I know the value of conventional medicine. I also know the value of naturopathics and other lifestyle based healing modalities. Us humans are funny in that we like to see health as either / or. We can either believe in 'conventional' medicine or we can believe in 'more alternative routes' (just a note: I use quotations because there is power in language and the only reason we call holistic healing 'alternative' is because in our current world, conventional medicine (like pharmaceuticals) have the power. Holistic healing isn't alternative, though, it's been a part of our world since the first Indigenous people walked this planet) but it doesn't have to be that way, we can believe in choice. We can believe in mixing the two. We can believe in believing in neither. We have a choice.


One of my favourite parts of being a Nutrition student (prior to social work) was learning about epigenetics and how the same food (say, coffee) can heal some people and be harmful to others. It was intriguing because our world is realizing there is no right or wrong, there is just what works for us and what doesn't.

 

Health is a personal journey and there isn't one thing that will work for everyone because we are diverse beings who require diverse things. So while I prefer to not be on medications, that may not be what works for you. YOU have to inform yourself on the options and then follow your hunches and the medical advice that feels right for you. 


That said, as a sensitive person, it's really important you DO find what works for you. Because when the world is heavy, that's when you get to work. It's the heavy times you're here for, be it in sense of worldly pain or pain in the lives near to you. Healers don't heal when things are easy. Healers show up when things are hard. And the only way to show up when things are hard is to take control of your mental health by finding what works for you.

 

HOW I'M CARING FOR MY MENTAL HEALTH HOLISTICALLY
 

I could write a book on the things I've tried in pursuit of mental health - so so so many things! But for now you can check out my post: Why My Lows Aren't As Low Anymore that outlines 11 things that have made the biggest difference. If you're in a space of feeling low, I encourage you to give it a peak.

 

Now that I'm in a stable space I no longer rely on all 11 things, and instead choose to focus on just 5. Though I am mindful of these things every single day, when events like Charlottesville happen, checking each off my day-to-day list is what gets me through the day. Self-care becomes spiritual survival because I'm sensitive and tough things can through me off my game if I'm not prepared.


Here are the 5 things I do every day to maintain my mental health holistically: 


 

1 /

 

I pay very close attention to my chakras.

 

The chakras are energy bodies within the body that govern how we feel and what shows up in our outer world. When they are off balance, we are off balance and as a sensitive being I feel it. I didn't always have a language for what I was feeling but now that I've learned about the chakras and how imbalances in each show up physically (and emotionally!) I am more mindful of correcting them when I feel they're off.

This is especially true for my solar plexus. Our solar plexus is where we first feel emotion, it enters our energy system through the chakra at the centre of our gut, which is why most empaths feel anxiety in their stomachs just above the belly button. We pull emotions in through the solar plexus and only recognize them as emotions as they move themselves up into our higher chakras. If there is a blockage in one of the upper chakras - say the heart or throat - then we feel uneasy without knowing why. The solar plexus is also where we know our worth and a strong solar plexus makes me feel worthy for having my emotions rather than unworthy for experiencing them. A shift that is life changing when it comes to mental health.

I'm leading a free 7-day e-mail course on the chakras and how they relate to empaths specifically. If you are interested in learning more, you can sign up below. It will be up in a few days, just working on final details!
 


2 /

 

I force myself out for walks. 

 

Before I was a social worker I did four years in a BSc in Human Kinetics and Human Nutrition and spent 2 years working in a gym. Physical health is important to me but these days I've swapped gym workouts with walks in nature. Especially walks in nature at night when the world is quiet and it's just me and my thoughts. Or me, my thoughts and a foster pup ; ). Most folks coming across my work have just started down a spiritual path and that path involves us spending a lot of time in our higher chakras (more on this in the e-mail course) connecting to our higher selves and viewing the world in a humanitarian way. This is great but it also pulls our energy from our lower chakras, the chakras that keep us grounded here on Earth and doing so can bring up all sorts of mental health issues. Especially issues around "existinal" thinking that often lead to anxiety and depression.

Daily walks not only produce feel good endorphins but also bring my energy down into real-life. I'm a heady person. I spend a looooot of time in my intellect. Getting back into my body is critical for feeling well.
 

3 /

I eat 3 meals. 


I'm notorious for forgetting to eat. Even with knowledge on why foods are important for fuelling our hearts, bodies and minds. When I was going through a difficult time this past winter I sometimes went days without eating a real meal. My energy was so low and I was anxious and stressed all the time. A friend (heeey Thomas!) reminded me that my low energy (disguised as 'depression' and 'anxiety') was most likely from not eating at regular intervals. I decided then and there to make eating a priority and it now comes before anything else - it has to! I can't be who I need to be if I am not fuelling this physical body allowing me to do be it! That doesn't mean I always get it right though, even today I didn't eat as well as I should have and that's okay so long as I stay mindful of it and get back on track when I can.

Get honest with yourself about whether or not you're eating enough. Calorie wise, but also in terms of nutrients. It's very, very likely feeling low energy throughout the day is because you aren't getting enough of what your body needs. Schedule in meals. Embrace the process of packing lunches and making them colourful and hardy. And if any of this food conversation makes you uncomfortable, or if you've struggled with body issues (most empaths do, we hate our bodies because we much prefer to be in our higher chakras and subconsciously know our bodies don't compare to our true essence) then I encourage you to seek professional health or at least start to own what's going on by learning more about disordered eating and what's available for recovery. My friend Laura does great work around this. You can start by getting to know her.

*Also, it's so so so important empaths understand the karmic ties to food. Informed veganism changed my life (and mental health!) but veganism isn't right for everyone. Not yet anyway. I wrote an article on how I went vegan that has tips incase you aren't able to adopt the lifestyle in totality. Feeling energy isn't reserved to the energies of other people; you can feel the fear and pain of tortured animals too.*


4 /

Like. Minded. People.


I can't stress how important it is to be around people who get you! Or people who want to hold space to get to know you. A lot of you who read this are INFJ, and INFJs need to have their thoughts reflected back at them to understand what's going on in their heads. If not, their thoughts circle their brain and make things difficult. Having a like-minded friend to talk openly with is imperative to mental health! We need to be reminded we aren't alone. If we don't we are really good at convincing ourselves that who we are and want we need / desire is wrong, weird or in need of fixing. It's not : ) You are so wonderful the way you are and there are people out there who get you! Ask to find them.

You can also book a coffee chat with me! The importance of being around like-minded people is why I started offering the calls in the first place. Let's talk energy and empath ability and all the things that make you YOU that happen to make me ME too. : )

 

5 /

 

I constantly clear my energy.

 

I have a weird habit of putting water on my face. I thought I was OCD and then realized nope, it's just how I clear off the energy I accumulate.  For real though, if you saw me go about my day-to-day in person, you'd probably wonder what was up. ;) Water is incredibly healing, it's sacred and putting it on my face is a way of intuitively tapping into its healing frequencies. I also use affirmations: "I am cleared of anything that is not mine" and do a daily clear, ground and protect ritual. I have naps, I take deep cleansing breaths, I'm always aware of who and what I'm surrounded by and who and what I might be picking up on. 

I hold crystals, I drink water, I declutter my living space, I buy new fresh bedding, I roll out the bottom of my feet with a tennis ball and streeeetch out on the grass. I take myself out for a detoxing green juice and replace heavy words in my vocabulary with words that feel lighter. I do all this because all of this affects the clarity of my physical body which affects the clarity of my energetic body and a clear energetic body is what I need to stay focused and on task with the work I'm here to do.

*When life gets really heavy I take this practice even further and go get professional Reiki to clear out anything that's no longer serving me. I hope to have a post on Reiki soon!*


TAKE AWAY

The world is chaotic, yes. Hiding away is an option, true. But you are here to be more than that. So take your mental health and your self-care seriously. If pills don't work for you, or if you're feeling like I did and curious if there is another way, lean into your intuition. Try a Reiki session, ask your doctor to switch things up, learn about nutrition. Read my post on clearing your energy, be honest with yourself about what you FEEL. Put the call out for people who get you. EXERCISE, if even for 15 minutes a day. Learn about both sides of the argument; about why antidepressants are pushed and about why they effective. And if you decide something more holistic works for you, understand #pillshaming and why a holistic approach to mental health doesn't work for everyone. 

We are never victims. We always have a choice. And you aren't doomed to a life of feeling weighed down. Your sensitivity is important and what works for you is out there. If you haven't found it, keep looking. If you have, get to work

x
 

Robin




A list of leaders and healers who have helped me along my journey:

1. Organic Olivia -  SO MUCH wisdom about foods and how they affect healing.

2. Kimberly Snyder - Nutritionist who taught me to love Green Smoothies.

3. Rebecca  Campbell - Her book Light is the New Black will change everything for you!

4. Cornelia Grimcorn - Made it OK to be vegan. : )

5. My dad who taught me to trust myself and be okay with approaching my health a different way.

 


how to treat anxiety and depression naturally, thediaryofanempath.com

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