terrorist attack survivor

Surviving the Holidays with PTSD

My husband and I filled out our family calendar for December and we have so many commitments as many of you do too I am sure. We took some time evaluating what we would attend taking into consideration what we can do as a family and what might be too much for us.  I think this sets us up for success during the holiday season.

I promised you some techniques I use to survive the holidays and I hope that by implementing some of these techniques into your own life you will be able to maintain peace and mental stability during this wonderful time of year!

#1. Say No.

You know your limits and what you can mentally and physically take. This season has a way of testing those limits! I want to empower you to say no this time of year. It’s okay to say no to hosting people and attending every party. And I know we have so many traditions this time of year but sometimes that added pressure makes things worse. Don’t let that pressure derail you. Stick to your guns with family and friends and honor yourself by saying no to what doesn’t serve you. Remember, these are your holidays too!

#2. Don’t over-do it with sweets, caffeine, and alcohol.

Over-indulging is what the holidays are all about! I know for me though that when I do this it affects my sleep, my stomach, and takes a mental toll on me. It confirms to me that there really is a gut health and mental health connection. Also caffeine is a stimulant that leaves me jittery and anxious and alcohol is a downer. Adding these to my system affects me quickly especially if I haven’t been drinking enough water. So this time of year I try and maintain my plant based diet, drink all my water, and limit the rest.

#3. Take a time out

I get very overstimulated. Loud parties and a lot of people can leaving me reeling. When I start to feel like this, no matter where I am, I give myself permission to leave the space that is bothering me. I either excuse myself to the restroom and run cold water through my hands (it’s a great coping skill) or I step outside and take a short walk. I can also use my Anxiety Release app or essential oils during these moments. Whatever tools you choose to use I think it is important to give yourself the space you need to breathe, refocus on your safety, and set an intention to get you through the rest of the party. Also, sharing your feelings with a friend or loved one before you take your time out is important as well. Find someone who will have your back and who can help support you through these moments.

#4. Continue taking medications and supplements

This is so important and so easy to stop doing! With all your extra commitments it’s easy to forget your medication or supplements. I’ve done it before too and I always kick myself when I’m feeling sick days or weeks later. I dedicate 20 minutes every Sunday night to divide my supplements into easy-to-go containers that I can grab for each day and throw in my purse. This step makes it easy for me to take everything I need so I can feel my best. My favorite supplement to take these days are my CBD pills. They help me sleep and keep me calm – two things I need in my life during the holidays!

#5. Speak up for yourself.

Honoring yourself through your voice is so important and when there are so many people and opinions to consider this time of year. It can be hard to do.  Sharing your feelings, frustrations, and stress with a trusted friend or loved one can help. I know for me I sometimes need someone to just listen to my feelings and somehow I start to feel better.

One more thing I want to add because it is so important to consider when discussing PTSD and trauma is that many of us are traveling this time of year and some of us may be visiting places where our traumas occurred. If this is the situation you find yourself in I hope you prepare in advance with your therapist and discuss coping skills that you can lean on if you start to struggle. I also recommend you line up all the tools that have worked for you in the past and pack them with you because traveling and trying new things don’t always mix…stick with what you know works and take it along for the ride. And – be gentle with yourself as you navigate the stress of traveling this time of year on top of the mental baggage you are carrying. You can do it!

I hope these tips will help you get through the holiday season and enjoy it your own way!

I’d love to hear what tips and tricks help you too – leave me comments below!

Grateful

Life has been busy lately and I have been working on a few passion projects that I pray will come to fruition in 2019. And as my energy has shifted towards the birth of these projects I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude. I am so grateful to be here, to be doing well, sharing a beautiful life with my family, and for the growth and clarity I have been granted this year. God is so good!

I wanted to reflect on gratitude this week with Thanksgiving upon us for a few reasons.

The first being that we, our country and world, are facing such turmoil lately. Fires, mass shootings, terrorism, political unrest, trauma, and pain. Where many see an endless mess, I try and focus my energy on the countless opportunities we have to turn it around. I think an easy way to start this positive ball rolling in our own lives is to focus on what we are grateful for and reflect that for others. I know for me when I was sickest there were people close to me that encouraged me just by expressing how thankful they were for me, for my friendship, and love and that appreciation saw me through times when I couldn’t see my own value, worth, or purpose. Imagine how we could change the world by expressing our love and gratitude to those around us who are struggling? I see a positive domino effect of difference being made!

My second reason for my reflection on gratitude is that it’s free. With the holidays upon us I feel like many people, myself included, get wrapped up in the sales, gift buying and giving, parties, and extra expenses that aren’t really what this season is about. I know for me all these extra commitments can leave me feeling frazzled. So I am committed to investing some of this energy I have wasted before towards the gratitude I want to express and share with everyone around me. I think it’s the most beautiful gift to give and receive.

Third, did you know that expressing gratitude is scientifically proven to improve your health, well-being and relationships? In this article, published by Harvard Medical School, the process of expressing gratitude results in people connecting to something larger then themselves and ultimately leads to greater happiness, positive emotions, improves health and builds stronger relationships.

The article details some easy ways you can cultivate gratitude in your own life and here they are;

Write a thank you note — I love writing thank you notes and receiving them too!

Thank someone mentally — this takes no time and little effort but can make a difference.

Keep a gratitude journal — I personally do this and believe it to be a great practice!

Count your blessings every day — Amen!

Pray and Meditate — two of my favorite things to do!

My gratitude journal starts with these people and moments we’ve shared together recently!

Two Years Ago Today

Two years ago today I asked for help.

It was the most difficult thing I have ever done.

That night I found myself in the fetal position in my closet seeing my death before my eyes. I was terrified but I had had enough.

My life had gotten so out of control in the months leading up to August 3rd 2016. I had stopped eating and sleeping. Anxiety had consumed every second of my days and nights. I was so uncomfortable that being in my own skin was nearly unbearable.

Luckily, I knew all the blessings in my life were worth fighting for. I knew who I could lean on to get me safely to the hospital and I didn’t waste any time getting there.

Most importantly I had faith. Not much, but just enough to trust that God would be right there with me and He was.

Asking for help took great strength and surrender. It took courage and submission. It took every fiber of my being, whatever was left of it anyway, to walk through those hospital doors.

I wanted to write that down to remind myself of that day and how far I’ve come but also to paint a picture for you of just how hard asking for help can be. 

I want you to remember this when you hear about someone taking their life. I want you to remember this when you hear about someone not being able to get out of bed in the morning. I want you to remember this so that if one day you find yourself in the fetal position and in need of help that you will know that it is okay to speak up.

Asking for help the first time might be hard but I promise you it gets easier.

In honor of the two year anniversary of my hospitalization I want to recognize those who helped me when I needed it most.

My husband. My Aunt Laura. My sisters Val and Marisa and brother Sam. My dad. My best friends Mary and Adriana.  My therapists and psychiatric nurse. My naturopath, Dr. Kris Wallace. My extended family, friends, and those in my community who prayed for me.  You all believed in me when I couldn’t believe in myself and that encouragement is more valuable to me than you could ever know.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. Call 1-800-273-8255

 

Survivors Sharing Part 1

In November of last year Jeff and I traveled to NYC to join other terrorist attack survivors for a Strength to Strength retreat. I wrote about it here Thankful.Grateful.Blessed.

We had the opportunity to meet and bond with so many wonderful people. It was emotional, life-changing, and powerful hearing everyone's stories. I remember getting back to my room after hearing Elaine's story and I knew that her words had changed me - I could feel her pain. She and I became fast friends. We bonded over therapy experiences, post-traumatic growth, and our strides to find healing. She is a treasure in my life.

Elaine survived the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya on September 21, 2013. Ironically, September 21st is the International Day of Peace. That day 67 precious lives were lost and I know Elaine carries their memory with her.  You can hear her story in an interview the gave to Anderson Cooper here. I have no doubt that what she shares in this article will touch you too.

Elaine and I have been talking for some time about how we could share our experiences with other survivors and those suffering from PTSD. We taped our last conversation and each shared how we live now as survivors with PTSD. This is the first part and I wanted to share it with you as June is National PTSD Awareness month.

Recovered

We are home from Boston and finally recovered from jet lag! 

I want to thank all of you; my family and friends, and followers for the prayers and love you sent my way during our trip. I felt it all in the form of the most beautiful peace during our trip and I believe they also helped Jeff push through the most difficult marathon in over 40 years.  The weather was terrible!

In the month leading up to the anniversary of the bombings I found myself overcome with symptoms of my ptsd. I shared this with my trauma therapist as she worked to help me prepare for the moment when I would confront the finish line with my kids in tow. My head was full of self-doubt; how could I keep myself together in those crowds, with all those triggers, and take care of my kids too? I realized I was trying to fit all of my plans for that day into a box.  A place I felt I could control. As I went through the motions of the EMDR session I was reminded of a time when I was a girl. My family and I were in line for a roller coaster at an amusement park and I was dreadfully nervous.  The roar of the cars of the track, the screams coming from the riders before me, and the uncertainty of what I would face on the ride were too much for me to take. However, those memories became muffled with the feeling I had once I stepped off that thrilling ride. I felt light and free, I was happy, and I felt confident because I had not let my nerves keep me from conquering my fear. This ah-ha moment became my motivation for the finish line. I decided I was going to embrace the experience for what it was and let is shape me instead of trying to fit it all into a space in my mind that I could control. 

I wanted to share that with you because I think much of life is a roller coaster ride. Full of ups and downs. Twists and turns. Moments you dread and those which take your breath away.

I sure hope that my life is full of more ups. More exciting moments that take my breath away.  Less of those that leave me lying in my bed trying to escape the world.  Either way I know my life will be lived fully and beautifully. I owe that to those who lost their lives on April 15, 2013 at the finish line, I owe it to Officer Sean Collier who was murdered by the bombers, and I owe it to all the survivors – those physically and invisibly injured. I owe it to my family and all of you.

I wrote a reflection for Maria Shriver’s website and it will be live soon. I will share it as soon as it’s published. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy some pictures of my family from our time at the marathon.

 

I Think I Have This...

I’ve been struggling lately.  I know why too. With the marathon coming up and my family getting ready to travel to Boston coupled with the five year anniversary of the bombing, I have been feeling a lot of stuff.  Sadness, anxiety, stress, grief, and fear – all just hanging out under the surface of my skin having an unwelcome kumbaya moment.  It was getting uncomfortable to say the least and came to a head last week during the Easter holiday. I could barely get out of bed that day and I found myself clinging to some of the words my dear friend and fellow survivor, Sarri, had shared with me recently.

Sarri has years of “anniversary” experience and her expertise on such a topic far outweighs the advice any therapist could ever give, unless they too have walked in our shoes.  I think my biggest take away from our long conversation was that April 15th is a big day for me (and many others) and it always will be and I have to accept and embrace it.  I also realized that I want others around me, those I love and lean on, to embrace its importance to me as well.  I don’t want my loved ones to tip toe around the subject or avoid me that day. I want to hear from them, I want to know what they were doing on that day five years ago, and how it all made them feel too. We all shared this experience together. Even though I was the one there that day – they are the reason I am still here today.  

I have been in a lot of therapy lately too. I am not sure if the EMDR therapy will ultimately cure me and that is a whole other subject for me to write about, but I am relying on it now to hopefully get me through the next week.  I recently went into a session and asked my therapist if I needed any other tools to get me though the finish line experience. Her response was that no tool will get me through it. I am either going to be okay or not. The whole conversation wasn't very reassuring for the planner in me especially since my kids will be with me.  I have been stewing over this. I want to be there. I really want to see Jeff’s big finish but I can’t prepare for it.  My biggest fear is that my bestie, PTSD, will grab hold of me while I am trying to be a mom and navigate the crowds and excitement that comes with standing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. 

In the meantime, I am relying on the tools I have that do work for me.

Focusing on the day before me and nothing else.

Being gentle with myself.

Acupuncture, writing, meditation, and other self-care.

Living with gratitude whenever I can.

Prayer.

I think I have this...

 

Propelled Forward

Last week my dad and I had the opportunity to meet Maria Shriver at a book signing for her new book, I’ve Been Thinking…Reflections, Prayers, and Meditations for a Meaningful Life.  Ever since I wrote for her last year I had hoped I would get the chance to thank her in person for giving me the opportunity to share my story with her readers and when I found out should would be in Phoenix I jumped at the chance to meet her.  My dad, also a fan, was excited too! So as we waited I began to wonder if she would remember me and my story. I know she has many people writing for her and I also knew she wouldn’t have much time to speak with us so my thoughts started to churn about what I would say.  I had told my dad that I had worked closely with her communications director and he overheard her name somehow in the crowd and called her over to us. She remembered me and greeted me so warmly.  As we approached Maria and I introduced myself, Elena - the Boston Marathon survivor who had written for her, I was completely touched and surprised that she too remembered me!  I told her about Jeff’s goal to finally finish the marathon this year and that the kids and I were going to be there to cheer him on and she insisted I write for her again! We hugged, she took a photo with us, she personalized my book, and took the time to make me feel special. Maria is a true genuine treasure and her newest book is filled with insight and life lessons that have filled my soul. I hope to be contributing to her website soon after the marathon...I'll keep you all posted on that project!

Two nights ago I had the chance to meet up with one of my survivor sisters who was in town visiting friends.  We had met last November at the Strength to Strength retreat in NYC but didn’t get to have much one-on-one time because there were so many people there.  I had been looking forward to spending time with her because we share something unique in our stories – we both were hospitalized for our PTSD symptoms.   

We had so much to talk about and though I must admit I was exhausted from being out way past my bedtime – my heart and soul are so happy from the few hours we spent together.  She is about five years ahead of me in her healing journey and the experiences, therapy ideas, and support she offered me gave me a renewed sense of hope that only she could give.  She would start sharing a detail of her growth or a painful part of her journey and I felt as if I was speaking to myself in the mirror.  I had many tears of course – the healing kind that feel good to release. 

As I work hard these last few weeks leading up to the marathon, I am so grateful that I’ve had these two experiences to fill my soul and inspire me to keep moving, fighting, and blooming. Sometimes we all need a push and these two ladies, unknowingly, have propelled me forward.

Sleep'n

My husband has been traveling for work this week so I have been very busy trying to get everyone to school on time, making every meal, transporting my treasures to all their after school activities, and trying to be productive myself at work. My house is a mess but everyone is seemingly happy and alive so that is good.  My only struggle this week has been my sleep.  The first night Jeff was gone one of our dogs kept me up all night as she was on and off the bed several times (yes…our dogs sleep with us…it’s not my choice) looking for him.  The second night both kids snuggled in to bed with me at different times trying to escape nightmares and so I shared my bed with two dogs and two kids and didn’t sleep well again. Last night, I collapsed into bed early and found myself awake a few times on my own. I don’t recall having nightmares but each time I was awoken suddenly with unsettled feelings that kept me from dozing back to sleep easily.

Sleep is important. It is a natural phenomenon that takes over our bodies and minds at night. It’s a mysterious part of our life, especially for how much we do it. I like to think of it almost as a journey we embark on every night and magically we have no memory of where we go, what we think, or what we’ve seen once we wake up. It’s also something most of us never see ourselves doing either. After all, you can’t exactly take a selfie while you sleep.

When I used to hear about people being tortured by using sleep deprivation methods I never considered the affect that could have on someone until I myself was tortured by my inability to sleep. At one point my nightmares were so awful and consistent that I even found myself afraid of sleeping…fast forward not very far and I was hospitalized. Sleep is so important and for someone like me, living with PTSD, it can be very illusive.

So let’s talk about sleep hygiene today and in particular my sleep hygiene routine.  Over the last two years I have tried so many different sleep supplements and tools and I think I have a great method down. So for all of you insomniacs out there – this one is for you!

First off, knowing I haven’t slept well the last few nights would usually create a lot of anxiety for me today but I am at a point in my healing journey that I am able to recognize that just because I haven’t slept well lately doesn’t mean my day will be bad today or that I won’t sleep tonight either. It is past. I can now reassure myself that I am okay and tonight I will sleep great. This is a mental hoop to jump through but I found that once I got through it my anxiety over sleep loss went away.

I am linking all the products I use here for you and I am not sponsored (yet) by any of these companies so I am not being paid to preach the effectiveness of their goods, in fact I pay good money for all of these tools because I believe in them!

I usually start winding down at 7:00 with a cup of caffeine-free hot tea. I have two favorite herbal teas that I reach for; Yogi Kava Stress Relief Tea and Yogi Bedtime Tea

As I sip my spicy and soothing tea I reach for my Jigsaw Magnesium tablets. I am a huge supporter of taking magnesium but be careful with other supplements on the market. This particular supplement was created with a slow release technology that your body can absorb without creating stomach upset. Don’t run to the grocery store right now and buy a cheaper magnesium supplement because you will pay for it dearly tomorrow!

If I have had a stressful day I hop in an Epsom salt bath and I apply some essential oils down my spine, on the bottoms of my feet, and my ears. I usually have a conversation with myself about how I am feeling and then I am able to decide on which oils to grab. I use Doterra oils. For sleep I love the Serenity Blend and Vetiver mixed together. I diffuse them in my room too. I often use frankincense for sleep as well. There are many different oils you can use for sleep and these aren’t the ones I started with but over time I’ve tried so many and have found these work best for me.

Sometimes I use CBD oil before bed as well and it was especially helpful when I was suffering withdrawals from Klonopin. I obtain my CBD oil from my naturopath and recommend you see a naturopath before buying something like this online. CBD oil is derived from the cannabis plant which has amazing healing properties. Unlike THC (the mind-altering ingredient in cannabis), CBD doesn’t affect your state of mind and offers many health benefits. Medical News Today - Everything You Need to Know About CBD Oil

This is getting long I know but I promise it doesn’t take too much time to do.

Once I am in bed and if it’s been a long day I love to snuggle in to my Recovr Blanket. My husband harassed me for weeks leading up to Christmas about what I wanted and I had been eyeballing similar blankets online but none of them looked as soft and pretty as these!  There is scientific evidence that weighted blankets help those with sensory issues, insomnia, anxiety and depression. Let me tell you how wonderful this 20 pound blanket feels when you curl up underneath it – it is like a warm hug and it sends me right off to restful sleep. I can’t sing enough praises about this blanket I am just sad it’s too heavy to drag around all day like I did with my baby blanket!

About this time I dive into my sleep drawer right next to my bed and grab my Insomnitol and chew down two tablets. This supplement contains 5-HTP (which I used to take on its own), melatonin, L-theanine, and other calming herbs. Obviously I am not a doctor so I would recommend you speaking to your trusted physician before taking this but considering the side effects I had with sleeping pills and other medications that I was taking for sleep and that I have had none with Insomnitol I think proves that this will be my go to sleep supplement for life.

In my sleep drawer I also have head phones.  I do try and limit my phone time at night because of the blue light and how it can affect my circadian rhythm (Scary Ways Technology Affects Your Sleep) but sometimes I need to meditate so I grab my phone. There are many meditation apps out there and I have tried several but none is better than the Insight Timer app and it’s free. I also use these in the middle of the night when I’m struggling to get back to sleep and my kids love them too! Here are a few meditations that send me right off to dream land.

Yoga Nidra for Sleep

Peaceful Sleep Meditation

Deep Sleep Guided Mediation

 Now that I have talked your ear off about sleep I bet you are ready to nod off yourself! Anyway, if you are struggling with sleep try some of these tips and let me know what you think and if you want to share a new tool with me I would love to hear from you!

This next link is a guide for those of you with PTSD who are suffering from sleep issues. You are not alone. 

A Guide to PTSD and Sleep

On that note – I am off to catch some z’s myself! Good Night!!

365 Days

365 days we’ve each had in 2017 but how many of us really lived them all?

365 chances to make each day before us great. 365 opportunities to improve ourselves. 365 days that added up to one more trip around the sun – one more year to count our blessings, learn from our mistakes, to grow, and bloom.

It wasn’t my resolution for 2017 to live each day as it came and it was far from easy but it’s what I’ve done and I attribute most of the progress I’ve made to living this way. In doing this stopped dwelling on the past and never considered the future. I planted my feet firmly in the present and grew from there.

When I started out on my healing journey last year I quickly learned that if my focus wasn’t on the day, mere moments, and sometimes each breath before me, that healing was going to be very hard. My sleep was so bad. I would spend days and sometimes up to a week living with severe anxiety and insomnia – praying that peace would somehow find me. When those days seemed never ending and would bleed into the next I was often left wondering if I would ever be better. If I would ever live a beautiful life again. I was scared I would be left to carry this heavy burden forever. The only comfort I found during the most trying times was knowing that soon the sun would go down on that day and what was done was done and I was one step closer to the peace I craved.

Living for each day is easier said than done. It takes practice. It takes faith. It takes great mental will power. And if I can sit here today and tell you that is how I honestly live then I know for certain anyone can do it. 

When I look back on all I accomplished this year I am amazed at myself. Just a year ago I was consumed by this project. I was working so hard to create this space so I could finally tell my story. I didn’t know if anyone would read it or care but I kept working on it anyway because it set my heart on fire. I felt that if I helped just one other person who was suffering like me then my pain would have purpose. That purpose motivates me each day as I write, search for new holistic treatments for PTSD, as I listen to other people who are living with PTSD too, and as I face each new opportunity that comes to me as a result of this resource I have built. This is just the beginning of this journey. I still have so much to share and I thank you for joining me here.

I have heard from so many people who I’ve touched through Still Blooming Me. You’ve reached out to me, to my husband and friends. I am so happy my words have helped you. That is why I do this.

Of all the opportunities I have had this year through Still Blooming Me the very best has been the connections I’ve made with other survivors. I hoped I would find them. In God’s timing I did and what an immense blessing it has been for my family and I to be embraced by them. They are not just my friends. They are my family.

When I consider 2018 and all the exciting things coming my way I know one thing is for certain – I will continue to bloom each day planted in the present.

Happy New Year! I hope you really live each day of 2018 realizing your blessings and gifts.

Thankful. Grateful. Blessed.

As I sit down to write this I feel at a loss for words to describe all the emotions I have today about the wonderful weekend retreat that Jeff and I just had with other terrorist attack survivors from all over the world. The title of this entry really sums up my feelings perfectly.

The retreat was planned by Strength to Strength, an organization that supports terrorist attack survivors, bereaved family members, and spouses. Strength to Strength, the baby and passion of the most amazing woman and survivor in the world, Sarri Singer, is nothing but the ultimate gift anyone who’s been in my shoes could ever receive. The entire weekend made me feel welcomed, treasured, loved, and all of this was wrapped in the warmth of each person there. As it was said many times by other survivors throughout the weekend; Strength to Strength is a club you never wanted to be a part of but now that you are, you can’t imagine your life without it. That sentiment resonates so deeply with me today as I feel sad to not be sitting in that room on the 10th floor of the Belleclaire Hotel with my new family. 

I also feel joyful and happy to know that this is just the beginning of another beautiful journey before me that is punctuated by the relationships Jeff and I made. Each and every person there touched my heart, filled my soul, and tore off a piece of me and took it with them yesterday as they ventured home.  These people are treasures. They are my inspiration. I can’t wait to hug each of them again and I hope it’s soon.

Our experience was powerful, raw, emotional, moving, full of laughter and tears, and I loved every minute. It was mentally and physically exhausting in the very best way. We each had the opportunity to share our stories and it was the first time in a while that I was completely overcome by emotions while sharing my story. I was uncomfortable initially by how my tears took over but it was so therapeutic and freeing that I knew those tears had to come out. Everyone there could relate – I wasn’t alone.

I was nervous last week before we left and I had tried to write about the emotions I was having and just couldn’t. It was making me so anxious. I am glad I didn’t publish what I wrote and just waited to write till I was home because my nervous feelings were completely unnecessary. From the moment Jeff and I boarded the plane to New York City till the time we came home it was as if God was showering me with His peace. I almost felt like He was saying, “I’ve got your back and so do all these people who are waiting to meet you.” Thank you for all those prayers you sent my way because they were felt by me and my kids are alive and happy and so I think they helped my dad get through the weekend as well.

There are too many takeaways from the weekend to share in just one blog entry and so I plan on writing a lot about what I learned over the next month, but one thing I can share with you now is that I learned that I can still live a beautiful and fulfilling life despite having PTSD. On Saturday night we went to Lucky Strike for some down time and seeing each of my new friends enjoying drinks, the loud music, and the overstimulating environment encouraged me in ways only they can understand.  Each survivor there was living proof that I too will go on and be able to have a social life again. I needed to see that.

Jeff and I both learned that we need to take extra care of our marriage too as we navigate this world with my PTSD.  We both felt our relationship was strengthened by this time we spent with other people who share our struggles.

I left New York with renewed hope and peace in my heart.

The souvenirs I brought home with me are stories that would bring any person to their knees and I will carry them gently with the utmost respect and love for those who shared them – and for those who didn’t make it to tell the stories as well.

I am so thankful, grateful to feel grateful again, and blessed beyond measure.

Strength to Strength

This has been a tragic week in our world and it's only Tuesday. I will make this a quick post about a new resource I have added to the PTSD Resource page and add a longer one later this week that details my feelings about the attack in Vegas. 

Strength to Strength is an organization that is very dear to me because they work to bring together victims of terrorism and their families from all over the world. Founded by Sarri Singer, a terrorist attack survivor herself and one of the strongest people I have ever met, this foundation has given me and countless others a way to connect with other people who understand the affects of terrorism.  I realize that what happened in Las Vegas was a mass shooting but for those of us who've experienced a terrorist attack it can still be a trigger. I was in touch with Sarri yesterday and other survivor friends from Boston who were checking in on me and I can't tell you how loved I felt knowing that these people clear across the country from me care.  Sometimes just knowing that they are there if I need them brings me peace and now that I have found them, I'll never let them go! They are my family! 

Of course trauma is different for everyone and some people will process it right away and for others it may take years. In any case, it's important to remember that trauma may lead to physical and mental challenges that are difficult to communicate, even to our loved ones. The most important thing you can do is to remind them that they aren't alone. Strength to Strength took me years too many painful years to find and having Sarri and the survivors I have connected with through the organization in my life has made a world of difference.

Who Am I?

This has been a question I keep coming back to over the past several months as I realize I am a far different person then I was before the bombing and even more different since my hospitalization.  I feel like there is an enormous canyon between the old Elena and the new one and it scares me, leaves me mourning my former self, and trying to accept what is new. Most importantly, it motivates me to keep pushing forward in this new me I find myself in.

I think it is true for anyone who experiences a life-changing event, illness, or trauma, like I have, that suddenly we look at ourselves and wonder what the purpose is of all of this. Things that I once saw value in no longer make me happy. Relationships that I once found joy in now have less meaning.  I don’t engage with as many people socially because I can’t lie anymore about how I really feel and I’m not sure who wants to hear it. I also don’t drink so I often hear my inner voice telling me that no one wants to invite the sober girl with PTSD to the party because how much fun is that?  I am also not willing to spin my wheels for things that exhaust me and leave me reeling for days.  And all of these things makes me sad because before PTSD had a grip on me I loved these things, people, events, and places.  The old Elena could do so much and make it look easy and effortless.

The new Elena does things differently. She likes to talk about her pain because it makes her feel better. She likes to pray and meditate. She likes quieter nights with one or two friends. She wants to spend more quality time with her husband and treasures. The new Elena can really hear other’s stories of pain and trauma and wants to. She wants to help. And just as much as she wants to listen; she wants to be heard.  The new Elena has more compassion for others than she ever knew possible. And still the new Elena misses the old Elena and I think it will take time for me to grasp all these new things for me because the people who liked the old Elena might not like the new one and that is what’s hard about a journey like this. Not everyone comes along for the ride. Hopefully, those who really love me will because in many ways I think this new Elena is better. 

I recently stumbled upon a resource for PTSD that has helped me finally identify some of these feelings and I have found it so helpful. Heal My PTSD, a site built by Michele Rosenthal, an award winning author, speaker, and trauma coach; is a must read for anyone struggling with PTSD.  She understands the PTSD struggle because she suffered from PTSD herself.  I know for me, sometimes listening to someone who has been in my shoes and has made it out on the other side, is the only thing that brings me peace from my daily struggles.  And today has been one hell of a struggle!  I listened to this podcast A Question of Identity: Who Are You After Trauma and it really highlighted some ways anyone with PTSD can begin to accept their new self. It helped me recognize how I am still the same today and what traits and values I still have and how each of these things can influence the new me that I am becoming. 

After listening to Michele I remembered that blooming and changing is a good thing and I needed to be reminded of that today.

 

 

Reflection

One year ago today I began my healing journey.

One year ago today I sat in the waiting room of a psych hospital with my husband and sisters knowing I needed to be there.

One year ago today I surrendered to the symptoms I could no longer ignore and I asked for help. 

None of these were easy things to do.  It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made for myself and with the knowledge I have now, I am not sure it was the right facility for me, but the decision to go there sent me on a journey that has made me grow and change in ways I never considered possible and for that reason, I am grateful for the experience.  I met people I wouldn’t necessarily run into in my daily life and the lessons they taught me opened my eyes – they helped me see all of the blessings I have and why I needed to keep living to enjoy each of them.

As I took in my surroundings there; the people, the experience of having someone watch me while I ate and slept, having my belongings gone through, the staples being removed from the magazines that my best friend brought me, the terrible side effects from over-medication, the five sets of locked doors I had to get through to see my family for the 30 minutes that was allowed each day, the shared phone that I would wait hours for to hear the tiny voices of my scared treasures on the other end – as I lived through each of these moments for five days I realized I would never be the same once I left there. I was changed for good.

This week has been full of reflection for me and I want to share with you the most profound lessons I have learned this year.

The first lesson I learned very early on in my healing journey still is the most important. If you want to get better. Better mentally, physically, or if you want a better life – you have to be your own strongest advocate. No one else will do it for you and no one else can do it the way it needs to be done. You have to be willing to work when you are the most exhausted, you have to fight for the answers you are searching for, you have to question the doctors who are caring for you, you need to educate yourself on the medications they are giving you, you have to refuse anything but the very best – for you!  It’s very hard. It’s not for wimps. The best part of learning this lesson though is that you learn what you are made of.

The second thing I’ve learned the past 365 days is that healing is not linear. There is no right way or wrong way.  There isn’t a straight path and sometimes you feel like you are getting better and then a PTSD wave will hit and knock you off track and you have to make adjustments and keep pushing forward. Healing usually doesn’t feel good either. In fact, most of the time it hurt.  It was uncomfortable and trying.  In those hard times, especially at the beginning I had to focus on the moments and seconds before me. Sometimes minutes seemed like hours and I had to remind myself to breathe through them.  This lesson bleeds into the next. I learned that I have to take each day as it comes. As hard as this is, today is really all we have and once I could do this my anxiety significantly lifted.  I’ve heard it said that focusing on the past creates depression and thinking about the future causes anxiety and I really believe this to be true. 

Compassion is my third takeaway from this experience. I think this is really a byproduct of the many people I met in the hospital, many of which didn’t have homes or supportive family and friends to receive them on the outside. I remember telling my husband that I could write a book about the things I heard and witnessed.  I took notes after each group therapy session and described each person so that I could remember them.  Mostly so that I could pray for them. I think that focusing on having compassion for others has given me the chance to really see other people around me, the issues they might be struggling with, and have a better sense of understanding.  It reminds me of something my husband always says when we are breaking up a fight between our kids which is, “seek first to understand.” It’s a different lens to view the world through but I believe if more of us did this, with compassion in our hearts, then the world would be a more peaceful place.

My final takeaway from this year has been to trust. To trust God entirely. Trust that He would carry me through the hard times and grant me peace and grace.  This lesson will never be wasted on me.  I will never forget how much He loves me and how faithful He is to me.  There were weeks I would cry on my Dad’s shoulder throughout mass. I was overwhelmed by all the people, the loud music, the sounds I couldn’t control, and yet I knew that was the very place I needed to be. My advice to anyone going through PTSD – find a place where you can connect to the Creator and allow Him to heal you with His love. 

When I think about the past year I have to remember key people who have stuck by my side. My Dad who laid in bed with me and held me when I thought I was dying.  My sisters who sat with me a year ago in that waiting room and believed I would get better when I didn’t think I could.  My caregivers who continue to show me love through the guidance they give me every day. My friends who answered my calls and listened when all I could do was cry. My treasured children who perhaps have given me the best therapy of all through their love for me. My husband, who was there with me the day the bombs went off, who has held me through panic attacks and worse, and who continues to be right by my side – loving me and believing in me.  Without all this support I wouldn’t have grown this much, I wouldn’t have healed this much – I wouldn’t have bloomed this much.

If you are just starting to read about my journey or have just found me, then welcome! I am just getting started and still have so much to share.  For those of you who have been reading, thank you.  All the love and support I receive from you about this little project of mine is wonderful and helps me stay focused on my mission to help other terrorist attack survivors who are living with PTSD. 

I would be honored to have you subscribe to my blog. I would be so grateful if you feel called to share it via social media or through conversation with your family and friends. 

Finally, if you are suffering from PTSD symptoms or living with anxiety, insomnia, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts or loneliness, please know you are not alone. I was in your shoes.  Ask for help and surrender to your own healing journey – it will take you to beautiful places.  I am proof that only one year can truly make a difference.

 

Gratitude

How do you find gratitude during difficult times? As I write this I am going on my seventh night in a row of very little sleep. My heart has been racing for just as long. I am exhausted, anxious, restless, and hopeful. Hopeful that this is the last day I will spend feeling this way and grateful for God’s promise to grant me peace.  

A few months back when I was going through a similar transition with my medication and supplements I met with my hypnotherapist.  It was a powerful session. One she had to eventually shake me out of.  Not remembering it I asked her to remind me about where my subconscious mind had just taken me.  She said that she led me to a place where I met Jesus and He told me that when I am having a hard time that He will lift me up and carry me in His arms and that when I look back on my life’s path, I will see times where my footsteps are there, and others were His footsteps are only visible.  

I know that when I look back on this past year one day I will mostly see His footsteps. What I will also see are the faces of the amazing people who have given me their love, friendship, care, faith and prayers.  

As I drove home from my therapy session that day I had a moment of revelation. I suddenly felt that God is using these difficult moments on my path to lead me closer to Him and that I should be grateful for the chance to trust in His embrace.  Immediately I was flooded with a feeling of peace and understanding. 

I hope for that peace and understanding today.

On the heels of the terrorist attack in Manchester, I think it is important to remember that God is with us in those moments of terror and trauma. That He is with us while we grieve those who were lost.  He is with us while we search for understanding and closure.  He is with those of us who are re-triggered when we hear of another senseless act.  He is with us even when we can’t see him though the darkness.  He is so faithful to us through it all — and we can jump into His arms anytime we need for Him to carry us for awhile.  

I Have Confidence In Me

My trip back to Boston was filled with tremendous blessings and something I had hoped for most; peace.  Boston is where I experienced my trauma, our Cape house was where I was triggered last summer, and it became the place where I endured the most paralyzing anxiety that led to my hospitalization. I hadn’t been back there since and so this trip wasn’t just about meeting the other survivors, it was about me going back to the place I was most uncomfortable. I wondered if it would still be my “happy” place. Would I feel the peace there that I had always had before?

In order to prepare for the trip I spent the week leading up to leaving seeing my therapist, going for acupuncture, and floating.  All of this extra work really set me up for success. Even as our red-eye approached I found myself calmly packing, moving through security, and getting through the flight. I stepped off the plane in Massachusetts proud of myself.  Once we made it to the house and I opened the door I was met with the cheerful energy that had always filled that space for me. I told Jeff that night how relived I was that I was happy there again.

On Friday morning we drove into Boston for a meeting with Dr. Crawford at the Massachusetts Resiliency Center.  The kids, Jeff and I sat with him for over an hour. This man is one of the many angels I have met on my journey towards healing. He has dedicated his life to helping survivors of terrorist attacks and understood everything I was describing to him.  As I proceeded to go through a box of tissue in his office, he comforted me with his tender words, his belief that I would pull through this, and the reassurance that I was not alone. I left there wishing I would have known about him sooner and the services the center offers. Last summer could have been so different had I found that comfort an hour drive away from me.  I know I can’t look back on my journey now with regrets and so I am grateful to have found him now. 

From there we spent some time in the city with the kids and stayed at our best friend’s apartment that night. Ironically it’s the same place Jeff and I had stayed the night before and after the bombing.  I had a difficult time sleeping that night which my therapist had prepared me for.  The city sounds and thoughts about the next morning left me hanging in between sleep and rest and yet when my alarm went off I hopped right out of bed and into the shower. 

As I walked the three blocks to the finish line, a certain song came out of nowhere and got stuck in my head.  It’s a funny song but it made total sense. I was subconsciously giving myself an internal pep talk.  Any Sound of Music fan will probably start singing it as they read this. “I have confidence in sunshine, I have confidence in rain, I have confidence that spring will come again, besides which you see I have confidence in me.”

Retracing the same steps I had made that day 4 years ago, all by myself, was a huge stride for me.   When I got to Marathon Sports, the site of the first bomb, I scanned the crowd to find Manya. Her warm hug is just what I needed and we stood together and watched the father and brother of Krystle Campbell, one of the victims who lost her life that day, hang a beautiful wreath of white roses in her honor – bagpipes played in the background. It was very emotional for me and soon I felt the arms and hands of other survivors around me consoling me. Without even knowing me they were extending their love and it filled me with peace and comfort. Soon we were all making our way down the steps of the Boston Public Library to the survivor’s breakfast and as we walked Manya began introducing me to amazing people who were all so happy that I was there and that I had found them.  Wow! I felt so blessed. Most conversations started with, “Tell me where you were?” and somewhere in the middle I would start crying and they would hug me and offer their support and reassurance.  I cried the whole morning really and they weren’t sad tears -- they were healing tears. Tears that I have needed to cry. Tears that only these wonderful survivors before me could understand. Tears that felt good to release.  I left that breakfast with a whole new family who understands me and who chooses to share in the journey I’ve been on. 

As I made my way back to the apartment I found a skip in my step and a sense of confidence that I’d lost somewhere during the past year. I felt physically lighter as years of loneliness seemed to melt away.  Soon I was met with the cheers of my family from the apartment balcony. I danced across the crosswalk as they yelled, “Go Mommy! Go Mommy!”  It felt good to have them cheering me on, just as they’ve always done, as I made this huge leap forward in my journey to find healing. 

 

Fighting

Have you ever fought for something? Truly and with all your might fought so hard for something, for someone, for yourself?  You would know if you have or not because the fighting takes on a life of it’s own.  You can’t hide it from your loved ones. You can’t hide it from strangers because it’s written all over your face and body language.  The worst part is you can’t hide from the reason you are fighting to begin with.

I have learned something very valuable from this fight I have taken on recently – that fighting teaches you not only what you are made of but what those around you are made of too. It highlights the people who are on your team. The one's who will climb in bed with you and tell you it is going to be okay, even if they themselves don't know if it will.

I never considered myself a fighter before my life was threatened by ptsd.  The funny thing is I was taught at a very formative age not to fight.  My freshman year of high school a very charismatic and lovable nun proclaimed during our first week of physical education class that, “Xavier girls don’t fight, they run.” We all laughed then but it was a mantra that was en-grained in us for the remainder of our high school days.  I wouldn’t say it was a bad thing either because there is plenty of drama to be had when you are in an all-girls school. Perhaps that mantra served me well many years later when I ran in the aftermath of the two bombs, or maybe it was just the sheer terror I witnessed.  Either way this funny little lesson that Sister taught me so many years ago inspires me again today – as I fight.

I have decided I am not running anymore. I won’t sit back and let the actions of other’s have power over me. I won’t let fear in my house as a welcomed guest. I will not say yes to things that don’t serve the best interest of my family, myself or our health. These are non-negotiables.

I choose to wear my ptsd proudly on my sleeve like a badge because it has given me strength I never knew I had.  

I will say yes to those who loyally stood by my side and fought for me when I couldn’t. I will say yes gratefully to God’s faithfulness and love. I will take on this fight and be a voice for others like me who survived something terrible and are trying to grow despite the pain.  This is my new reality and it feels good and comfy like a worn in pair of black yoga pants… a closet staple for any 30-ish mom like myself.

This Xavier girl is a fighter.

 

Hard Work

I am sorry I have been absent for a couple of weeks. I have been working hard on healing and learning.

A few weeks ago there was a festival in our town. I have been going to it since I was a kid and I have always had fun, hopped on a ride or two, bumped into friends, and indulged in the fair food. This year was different. Out of nowhere, while watching my kids ride the caterpillar roller-coaster; I felt my arms start to go numb, felt faint and the sudden race of my pulse, and soon realized I was beginning to have a panic attack.  My vision tunneled and every loud noise, bright color, and crowd around me became amplified in a horrifying way. The worst part was I had left the house without my anxiety arsenal (huge fail) and we had just arrived there.  My kids were having fun, my husband was enjoying himself too, and there I was dying inside and searching for a way out.

I was able to get through the next two hours using coping tools from EMDR. Identifying sounds, picking a color and finding as many things as I could that color, holding ice cubes in my hands until they melted, and praying – not for me, but for each person that was passed me.

This panic attack, though not as serious as my others, took several days to recover from. My anxiety was crippling the rest of that day, I was up multiple times through the night, and I had to chaperon ballet rehearsals and didn’t want to break breakfast plans with my best friend who was in town for a few hours – so life had to go on. I had to navigate through it. All of that junk under the surface that no one around me can see. A silent illness that makes me feel nuts on the inside as I put on my lipstick and try and move forward.

My husband was traveling this week so I was on my own to manage the kids and their activities and my therapy schedule. I floated, had EMDR, went to hypnotherapy, worked, packed lunches, shuttled kids between baseball and ballet; all while fighting through my PTSD wave.  It takes an incredible amount of energy and faith for me to get through days when I feel this way.

Finally, I felt a break-through during a moment when I found myself alone in my car.  It was sent straight from heaven.  I found myself wondering if all of this; the bombing, last year’s hospitalization, my on-going battle with PTSD, is all God’s way of bringing me closer to Him. I felt myself thanking God for giving this all to me because I now truly know that He is by my side every moment, guiding me with His love.

It might seem crazy to the average person that I be thankful for all of these struggles but I think if it leads me closer to God or inspires me to help others, then my life will be full of purpose and grace.  As I continue my hard work to recover and heal, I know that God is right beside me and carrying me when I need Him to.

 

Trying Something New

After a couple of weeks of unending insomnia and anxiety I’ve decided to try some new things.  I recognized after a week had passed that this wasn’t just one of my PTSD waves.  After a visit with my Naturopath it seems that my liver and spleen have been taxed with my stress hormones and were not processing them properly which was making me feel awful. So now I am sporting some lovely acupressure ear buds, detoxing when I can, and I’m back in therapy.

I have a new therapist. I like her. I have nothing against her at all. I am just frustrated with the process of having to get to know someone again, trust someone new with my feelings, and resume my EMDR process.  I had been making great progress and feeling like I was “good to go” when my previous therapist informed me she was leaving the practice and wouldn’t be seeing client’s anymore in her new role.  I tested the waters of life on my own for a bit but it seems my brain isn’t there yet.  All of this work, everything I do to stay balanced and well, is wearing on me.  I told my husband a few weeks ago that I am so ready to be able to go out again and not have to consider 101 things before I walk into my destination.  Will it be too loud? Do I have enough of my anxiety arsenal items to get me through it? Will I be home in time to take my medication? If I am not home in time, what will my next few days feel like? Will I sleep okay? You get the idea…it’s a rabbit hole I go down each time a social event gets placed on our calendar.  I am missing some of the “old” me.

I say “some” because I don’t miss all of her and that’s for sure.  I was a mess! Constant debilitating anxiety, depression, insomnia, trying to cope with unhealthy tools, my skin was wrecked, my issues affected relationships I might never get back and miss, I was tired all the time, I had forgotten my faith, and most importantly, I was too sick to use my real gifts. Having realized all of that now, I still want to be able to enjoy an adult beverage again with a girlfriend or spend time in social settings with people I love and feel safe.  And of course, I miss my Skinnygirl margaritas!!

So, as I add some new modalities to my line-up; like acupuncture, dry-brushing, new supplements, and the aforementioned new therapist, I am asking you for prayers.  Prayers for peace and guidance from God.  I believe in His plan now more than ever and trust that He will be faithful to me as I navigate this hiccup in my healing process. 

 

“I love the person I’ve become, because I fought to become her.”

-Kaci Diane

My Personal Anxiety Arsenal

I was so focused on getting out of town last week that I missed sharing my personal anxiety remedies with you. Here is my follow-up on last week’s post and tools I use on a daily basis to combat my anxiety and ultimately to help me move through my life better.

First, I start every day with meditation and prayer.

Insight Timer is the best meditation app.  I have tried them all and I keep going back to this one so I said goodbye to several others.  There are meditations from practitioners from all over the world, meditations for every ailment under the sun (including one’s for kids that I use daily with my treasures), and meditations for even the busiest of people. If you only have five minutes to give yourself then Insight Timer can help you. If you have an hour or anything in between, Insight Timer can help you.  I have had people tell me that they don’t feel meditation is their “thing” before and I can’t imagine how getting comfy, popping some ear buds in, and focusing on your breath wouldn’t be your thing.  These are guided meditations that help you redirect your focus and train of thought. It’s very simple!  You can meditate with me and look through the sessions I use most by searching for Still Blooming Me. Don’t be shy and send me a friend request! This is a snapshot of my profile.

IMG_5518.PNG

You Version Bible is a new app for me that a dear friend recommended.  What I love most about this app are the guided devotional plans you can use.  I just finished a seven day plan about overcoming anxiety and each devotional was spot on with what I needed to hear that day and gave me scripture to apply to my journey too.  If you have been following me then you know that I read Jesus Calling each day as well. It’s funny because last week I noticed that in both resources the same words were being spoken to me and that was to call on Jesus when I need his help and just say “Help me Jesus” out loud.  I believe that whatever faith you come from, God is not far away and hears your call. Invite Him on this journey with you. You will be relieved by the peace you will find in His presence.

As I move through my day I use other remedies. Some require you see a Naturopath and Psychiatrist so I won’t mention those tools by name. What I will say is that anxiety is created and perpetuated by an imbalance in your neurotransmitters. My personal naturopath is working on a piece that will explain this further in a blog that is coming up.  In the meantime, I can suggest a supplement I lean on quite a bit. L-Theanine tablets help get me through sleepless nights and anxious moments.  I have taken many different forms of it but I like these the best.

 

Part of my anxiety is really fueled by my sleep patterns and so I have noticed that I really need to quiet myself down at night and this includes some rituals I have developed over the past six months as I have learned what helps me and what doesn’t.  So here is my sleep prep routine; I eat an earlier dinner because I notice when I eat too late that my digestion keeps me up longer, I take my supplements and medication by 7pm, I drink Bedtime tea, I read a book instead of looking at my phone because the blue light our phones and televisions emit disrupt our circadian rhythms, and remember that Insight Timer app I mentioned up above?  I love to snooze away to the Yoga Nidra for Sleep meditation.

I hope some of these tools help you get to feeling better soon! I’d love to hear what you have in your own anxiety arsenal! Comment below or contact me.

 

Be Gentle With Yourself

This week I want to focus on some coping mechanisms I use that have brought me tremendous healing since August and tools I use on a day-to day basis depending on how I am feeling.  The reason why I felt compelled to write about this is because last week I was approached by two dear friends who are struggling with anxiety in their daily lives. Each described their fears, whether it is driving on a busy highway, sitting in a movie theater, enjoying a kid’s soccer game, or just social anxiety in general.  The common thread for me between the conversations was compelling.  These are two healthy women who have wonderful lives, people who love them and support them, and who have nothing to be afraid of; yet they are living in fear. 

What I have learned in my healing process is that anxiety is created when there is an imbalance with our neurotransmitters, which is something we can correct over time with the proper guidance and doctor.  It can be perpetuated by the things we consume, whether dietary or environmental. And furthermore, anxiety exists in our lives because we give it energy and permission to do so through our actions and inaction.  Now that I know this it’s easier for me to get through my anxious times but if you don’t have these tools, anxiety can cripple you to the point where you can’t find hope in anything.

I think the greatest piece of advice that I have received from each of my therapists and doctors has been to be gentle with myself.  Whether I was trying to find the cure to my sleepless nights, appetite loss, anxiety, or depression – I was to be gentle with myself.  This isn’t an easy thing to do and I had to make some difficult decisions in order to claim some peace.

Over the past 6 months, my focus shifted to the things I could control in my world and less about what was happening outside of that and slowly my mindset changed. For example, the world news was responsible for my trigger in July. So I don’t watch the news anymore and haven’t since, I don’t scroll the Facebook news feed, and I don’t watch violent shows or movies that could re-trigger me. Wow did this bring me peace! During a time in our history when the world has been so chaotic, I have been focused 100% on what happens within the walls of my own home.

Being gentle with myself has included eliminating alcohol, caffeine, most social media, and toxic relationships; and on the flip-side it has included doing more of the things I love like sewing with my aunts, taking baths, really playing with my treasures, focusing on the health of the relationships that matter to me, praying and meditating, and building this positive resource for others.  Staying grounded has become my priority, not my social calendar.

I am not advising you make all of these changes overnight but I am encouraging you to examine what changes you can make that will create a small impact on your life right now. How can you honor yourself better? How can you show yourself true love? How can you be gentler with yourself?

Below is a link to a guide my therapist shared with me that includes some great tools for coping with anxiety.  I hope you find it useful and share it with your loved ones who need it today.

Self Help Tips for Coping with Anxiety