My boyfriend just bought me a weighted stuffed animal to help with my anxiety. I sometimes feel fearful, restless, worried, hopeless, and/or sad. Throughout my life, I have experienced a roller coaster of good times and bad times. It’s great when the good times last for a while. Last year I was laid off from a really good job as a therapist/social worker, and later wrongfully fired from serving at a small but successful restaurant. I was pressured by the manager (whom I was friends with) to come and work under the table while on disability from a recent surgery. I had about one week left of benefits and I wanted to wait to come back into work. I was told I was badly needed. The manager reassured me that everything would be okay and he would take care of everything. When the owner of the restaurant found out I came in to work a few shifts he sat down and talked to the manager. The manager lied and said I persuaded him to help me commit fraud. The owner called me and asked me about the situation. I told him I was asked to come into work. He accused me of lying and refused to show me the “incriminating texts messages” he said he had showing I asked to work under the table. Then I was fired. He wasn’t interested in hearing my side, or even talking to me face to face. The restaurant reported me and the EDD sent me a notice saying I owed a few bucks short of $1000. I appealed it and won. I showed up to the hearing with my own text messages showing proof that I was asked to come in and that I was not comfortable with the manager’s decisions. After that whole fiasco, I got back on my feet procuring a job as a brand ambassador while also doing background acting on a regular basis. I was having a great time (despite experiencing some anxiety about new jobs) and transitioning towards a future in the entertainment industry. Then COVID hit and I was laid off again and unable to continue acting.
The weight of the COVID pandemic, being unemployed, having no income, the continued struggles of the Black Community, the corrupt government, and the challenges of a new relationship (which was filled with drama in it’s beginning stages due to third party member who is now an ex-friend) have taken their toll. Though times are tough, I refuse to move back in with my parents, which would entail pretending to be someone I’m not for their comfort. I have no intention of leaving LA, which is the place I want to pursue a career in entertainment. Also, I now have people I would hate to be apart from, including my new boyfriend, and the small wolf pack I now belong to (my roommates).
Due to the events mentioned above, a few months ago, I was in really bad shape. I experienced hives, shortness of breath, bouts of crying, episodes of nausea, intrusive and ruminating negative thoughts, and discomfort (which can lead to panic) when my heart rate is high. A little over a month ago I started seeing a therapist. My therapist is my life line right now. I am so grateful and reliant on the opportunity to vent, process, self-reflect, and work towards a healthier state of mind and being. In addition to therapy, I am journaling daily, writing this blog (which is so helpful to not only release and heal from past trauma, but to also help me reflect and become a better person), roller skating, going on walks, using incense, carrying crystals, practicing deep breathing, and meditating. I have had an interest in meditation and its benefits for a while but I was having trouble finding a guided meditation that I could connect to. Now I am using Sam Harris’s app and I really like it. I feel hopeful that over time the practice will seep into my daily life and positively affect how I react and interact with the world around me.
The newest addition to my mental health tool kit is a stuffed giraffe with a 3lb. removal pouch of beads. In my limited research, these stuffed animals are made for and marketed for children with anxiety and other challenges like ADD, ADHD, etc. However, they are effective for adults. There seems to be a stigma around adults having stuffed animals, but for me, they have always been an effective coping tool and a source of comfort. I currently have around six, the giraffe included. The weather is so hot right now and we (my roommates and I) have no AC at the moment, so I decided to put the removable hot/cold pouch of weighted beads in the freezer before I use it. I would also like to add essential oils for an added calming effect, but I ran out of Lavender! Included with the giraffe is a card that lists “The Physiological and Emotional Benefits of Weighted Sensory:
- Assists in Self-Calming
- Eases Depression
- Lowers Blood Pressure
- Reduces Stress
- Enhances Proprioceptive Feedback
- Decreases Hyper-Responsiveness
- Improves Focus and Concentration
- Maximizes Therapy Sessions
- Boosts Immune System
- Tactile Sensory Bliss
- Promotes Sense of Security
- Stimulates Healthy Neurological Pathways”
I’m really excited to use it once I get it out of the freezer. The recommended “chill time” is 3-6 hours. I’m happy to say that I am in much better shape than a few months ago and every day I am consciously working on taking care of myself and working towards a healthier mindset and state of being. I have had so many setbacks they’re impossible to count, but I have consistently picked myself back up (albeit with psychological and emotional bruises) and kept going. I can confidently say that time does heal wounds, some just take longer than others. I don’t know what the future looks like, especially because of the Pandemic, and that’s really difficult for me, but I have to take it one day at a time. Or as my grandfather used to say, “Poco a poco” (little by little).