Mental Health: Saying No in the Spirit of Self-Care

I have a hard time saying no to people.

I don’t know if my trouble saying no stems from a fear of being disliked or seen as cold (often socialized in women, like our nauseating habit of over-apologizing*), or from PTSD of other people not being there for me or showing me mercy when I needed it most. I am still learning that I cannot be everything to everyone, or even something to everyone. Sometimes, for the sake of my mental health, I have to simply say no. It’s hard!

Rick started telling me that I emotionally give myself to everyone else and then, when I get home, I have nothing left for him, which breaks my heart. My allocation of energy is wrong if my MVP, my husband, feels shorted. It’s unfair that a friend or even acquaintance gets top shelf Bailey, and Rick is served up the dregs. Rick doesn’t deserve Everclear-in-a-plastic-bottle-Bailey, he deserves Belvedere-Bailey.

As a person who battles severe depression and anxiety, my energy is truly finite. I liken it to a gas tank, especially in regards to social situations: I only have so much to give before I need to go home, be alone, and refill my tank. There are very few people in the world I can be on empty around, which, for me, means I can be blue without questions or expectations to be acting otherwise. These people are mostly just Rick, my parents, and my brothers and sisters. And, that’s okay! One time my brother-in-law found me crying the bed in the dark while clinging to (and probably scaring) Apollo, the family golden retriever. He offered to make me a cocktail and then proceeded to sit in silence with me and watch Shrek. Just sitting there was all I needed. What a guy.

My psychiatrist and I joke that if me and Rick have a kid I can just be like “GOTTA-GO-CHASE-MY-KID BYEEEEE!” to anyone hogging my energy resources. (Don’t worry – no babies will be harmed in the making of my sanity.)

Overextending and overcommitting myself has become a nasty habit of mine. After feeling the muscle rocks that have formed under my skin on my shoulders and back last week, my horrified GP told me that I had three responsibilities: Rick, school, and yoga. Everything and everyone else must take a backseat. She then offered me muscle relaxers, to which I despondently replied, “all the world needs is another white woman on a bunch of pills”. My doctor, a WOC, laughed and didn’t deny my claim, but she didn’t not deny my claim. She gave me a topical ointment instead. Lol. She then reached out to me one week later with my blood lab results which indicated that I’d just had mono. MONO! I hold the world record for the oldest person to have ever had mono.

My call to action is to say no when you need to, and to be unapologetic when it comes to prioritizing your well being (or “well bean” as I like to say) over someone else’s perhaps insatiable desire to take, take, take with minimal or no return. It also doesn’t have to be that dramatic. Sometimes you’ve got to say no to going to that party, committing to that dinner, or doing unpaid work for a friend. If someone is a true friend, they’ll understand. Take stock of the people in your life, and then cultivate and invest in true blue relationships. Simply, protect yourself before you wreck yourself.

*The other day I apologized to a backpack. A BACKPACK!


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Recipe: Borscht Topped With Sour Cream

Normalizing psychiatric care is vital and there are some things everyone should know.

Stigma

Look, not all of us with mental health issues are blatant, eating other people’s faces on the side of a highway in Florida. Most people who seek or are in need of psychiatric care are average folks you interact with regularly: your colleague, your grandchild, your mail person, your stepdad, the person two people behind you in line at the grocery store, yourself.

Unfortunately it’s common for a lot of people to suffer in silence and confusion. Not only do they need care, but they also often have no idea where to begin in terms of finding the right doctor, are overwhelmed by the expense and, most unnecessary of all, have to deal with the crippling stigma attached to mental health issues.

I think a lot of de-stigmatizing begins with open, judgement-free discussion. There is no shame in seeking mental health care you need, just like there is no shame in having to use a crutch, getting braces, having LASIK, etc. There is no shame in getting help with or correcting something in order to have better quality of life. Empathy and understanding surrounding mental health are paramount. Let’s start today.

Now… borscht!


Borscht is a fabulous, flavorful soup (stew?) that is a staple to the good people of frickin’ freezin’ Russia. So, if you’re weathering frightful weather this February this is a good option. If it’s not cold where you are this soup is A) red and therefore on brand for the month of February and B) a good excuse to pair a meal with vodka. * shrug *

Ingredients

Borscht:
1 T coconut oil
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 t caraway seeds
4 carrots, thinly sliced
3 beets, peeled and diced
3 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
4 c red cabbage, shredded
6 c vegetable broth
1 T apple cider vinegar
sea salt to taste
black pepper to taste
cashew sour cream
fresh dill, chopped
fresh parsley, chopped

Sour Cream:
1 c cashews
1/2 c water
1 T lemon juice
1 t apple cider vinegar
1/4 t sea salt
1/4 t Dijon mustard

Instructions

Borscht:

  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add onions and sauté until translucent, about five minutes.
  2. Stir in caraway seeds, cooking for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add carrots, beets, potatoes, and cabbage to pot, stirring to combine.
  4. Pour in vegetable broth and bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to a simmer for 30 minutes until vegetables are tender. (I found beets to be the last to cook and the best veggie to test for doneness.)
  5. Stir in apple cider vinegar, sea salt, and pepper.
  6. To serve, top with cashew sour cream, fresh dill, and parsley.

Sour Cream:

  1. Cover cashews in boiling water and let sit for an hour. Then, drain and rinse.
  2. Combine cashews, water, lemon juice, vinegar, sea salt, and mustard in a blender and blend until mixture is smooth and creamy.
  3. Top each bowl of borscht with a generous dollop. Store leftover sour cream in an airtight container in fridge.

Serves 6-8.

Adapted from Vegan Borscht and Vegan Sour Cream.


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