Mental Health, CBD, Oils, Coping Tools & Grace {this is me. this is us.}

It’s Mental Health Awareness month.

And I wish I could sing over so many of my fellow #mentalhealth sufferers the song of Keala Settle “This is Me” with the same bold bravery:

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me…

If you have ever made apologies for who you are, what you look like, your grades, your accomplishments (or lack thereof), your past, your scars, your friendships (or lack thereof), your babes (or lack thereof), your boobs (or lack thereof), your fears, your trauma, or any aspect of your story…then this blog post is for you.

It is for us.

For the weary. The depressed. The anxious. The one just finding her place. The one afraid to claim her place. The brash one hiding her fears behind false bravado. The one trapped in the cage of her mind. The adult who is wrapped up in climbing a corporate ladder with no thought to her own needs. The child in need of calm and safe and a voice. The one with scars on her heart. The one with scars on her body.

This is for us.

I wish I could sing over your heart. Coo over you and hold you tight. “Amazing grace how sweet the sound…

But sometimes the best I can do is tell you my story. Share with you the tidbits of research and coping techniques that I’m picking up along the way for myself and for my children. I grew up in a culture that shamed mental health struggles and deemed you less spiritual if your battleground was with depression and anxiety. Let me throw that concept into the trash where it belongs.

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The heart is a delicate thing. The mind is powerful and full of light and dark and shadows. Let’s guard the delicate things. Glory in the light. Fight valiantly against the dark. And pause in the shadows.

Perhaps you relate with my shadows.

I believe in casting my cares upon Christ, but I also live in a world of tragedy, loss, pain, and death. Shadows. I believe we were made in the image of Perfection, but my own body was judged with all the ferocity of cutting remarks from others. More shadows. I was told I was beautiful, but told to cover up my curves lest they cause sin. Shadows still. I was told that children were gifts, and yet I watched my body bleed out several pregnancies. The shadows grew. I was told the Church was sacred and yet communities turned their back on me when our beliefs didn’t quite align. Deep shadows. My nature is to nurture and grow and tend and empathize, and yet I was constantly walking a road no one would nurture for me. The shadows weighed heavy. Early motherhood sat uneasy on my shoulders that also bore the weight of financial needs, a budding career, entrepreneurial life, and the unfounded belief that I should love every moment. Darkness.

So pardon me when I say I will always be a voice for those walking in darkness. Who have found the shadows too pressing. Who haven’t seen the light in weeks…months…years…decades. Your shadows may look and feel nothing like mine, but you know them by name.

I stand bruised with you.

I also have danced in the light and found ways on a daily basis to experience light. To remember delight. To pause and to notice. To love motherhood. To abhor motherhood. To be an entrepreneur. To have seasons where my businesses move backward. To experience deep friendship. To lose friends. To advocate for community and grieve when it fails. To find faith and to honor my own questions.To long and to crave. To taste. And smell. And see. And touch.

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To be human. Novel concept.

An earthen vessel, will you.

That the excellence of the Light is not of me or from me, but abiding deep inside my soul despite the shadows.  I have made a place for Light, and I guard that place closely. I nurture it. I tend it inside my own children. I encourage it in friends.

{If you know me, then you know that part of who I am – my Light – is a relationship I’ve made over years with Christ. But I’m also not one to shy away from hard topics. I’m not a judge – of your beliefs, story, reasons, or past. I hold my own beliefs dearly and my story is interwoven with the ever presence of Christ in my path. It simply is. I love deeply from the love that was poured into my heart. No matter your beliefs or how you read my words, I pray that you make space in a world that needs us all to advocate for beauty and transparency and grace.}

So that said, what are some of the practical ways that I cope when darkness pushes in heavy? What are some of the practical ways that I teach my children to cope?

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First, let’s address our environment, and how we engage with it. Our space. The physical walls around us. The outdoors we can see through our windows.

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Everyone has different style preferences, so my love of white walls and decor may seem stark and cold to you. But I find my mind unable to slow down with a bevvy of colors around me. I would challenge you to figure out what makes you able to exhale in your own space and cultivate that “exhale.” I make my children’s room free of clutter, calm colors, cool and dark, organized so their brains know that their is a place for everything: including, most importantly, a place for them. They have space. They are seen.

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Create a haven, and see if it doesn’t change the tone of your days. Turn on music. A diffuser with an emotionally supportive blend (click HERE to read all about the science between emotions and essential oils). Open the windows and let the natural light flood in. Dress in something cozy and comfortable. Let your hair down. Tie it up. Put on mascara. Wash your face. Whatever it takes to allow you to explore and to find the rhythm that you crave. You’ll know you have created your space when you walk in and feel safe – beckoned – to simply be and feel.

If your child’s brain is disregulated and they are emotional, I would recommend oils for them as well such as Gentle Baby, Valor, White Angelica, Orange, and Cedarwood (my kids both have their own favorites), a metronome app set to around 60 bpm (there is lots of science to metronome therapy and brain support if you want to research it) and then sensory play plus coping techniques (I’ll get to those.)

Also, pay attention to how much outdoor time you have. If you are struggling with depression or anxiety, make sure you see the sun as much as possible. It’s magic.

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Second, I highly recommend essential oils. I began building my own essential oil business not long after I experienced the powerful affects of Frankincense Vitality taken internally during my postpartum journey with my second child. There are lots of options for topical application, diffusing, and internal use, and I address my favorites in this blog post HERE about all the feels.

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Third, I’m in the process of researching and experimenting with non-THC CBD oil for adults, but have experienced enough positive results that I’m willing to wholeheartedly share with all of you. I don’t have all the science for you today, but I can say that one dose (somewhere between 10 mg – 25 mg for me) taken in the morning settles my anxiety. The best way I can describe the affect is that it helps me to feel “present.” My brain is not spinning around and around with my to-dos, and I feel more able to focus on ” the here and the now.”

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RE Botanicals sent me a bottle last month to try, and I’ve been very impressed with their 100% organic botanical distillation (the first company to receive the organic certification). I’ve been using the pure liquid 25 mg tincture bottle that is pure, full-spectrum hemp and bioavailable MCT coconut oil with no hemp isolates (a cheaper and less beneficial version). Benefits of CBD for many include deeper sleep, calmer minds, relieved depression/anxiety, and pain relief. Non-THC CBD is non-psychoactive and is the opposite of it’s sister product marijuana. But let’s be clear. CBD is NOT marijuana. CBD is a hemp plant distillation. Similar to an essential oil. Similar to elderberry syrup. I realize that CBD can be controversial, but I don’t understand why. I believe in the ability of plants to heal. And to support. And to help our bodies deal with anxiety and stress and sickness. (In my mind, the argument against using CBD is similar to the argument against eating potatoes just because some people distill vodka from potatoes and abuse the alcoholic product.  I don’t see many of us giving up potatoes any time soon based on that faulty logic.)

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Now that being said, I don’t know if everyone would benefit from CBD. I simply don’t know. I DO know that I’m writing a post about ways to support mental health and CBD plays a role in my days. There are only a handful of companies that I have found for CBD that I would personally recommend, and RE Botanicals is definitely on that short list. I highly recommend you checking out their website and reading more in-depth on their site about the their company and product options.

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Fourth (and finally for this post), I want to focus on a few children-specific coping techniques. The age of your child dictates exactly how they will best calm down, but many techniques apply to all ages. First, while I already mentioned essential oils, I would like to point out that each child will have his or her own preferences, so I let my children choose. Abby gravitates toward Joy (a floral blend), while Micah gravitates toward Valor (a woodsier blend). Empower your children to inhale and choose. Teach them how to smell carefully and then apply to feet and spines (with a carrier oil). And similar to adults, make sure they play outside, play in the dirt, play in the sunshine, and play creatively as much as possible. Music, metronomes, and calming spaces are always helpful to have in place. But more than that, having “sensory boxes” in a special cabinet and specific “calming/wind down” toys and tools scattered about your house can make the different for some children.

Google “sensory activities/toys” and lots of options will pop up, but our current favorite is a box of kinetic sand (click HERE for a non toxic version) with little animals buried and kitchen spoons for safe digging and building. Another favorite are Lil-Gen water beads with small bowls to sort, spoon, and categorize (click HERE to purchase an eco-friendly version). Both of these were recommended by a dear friend and my children will spend HOURS playing, touching, sorting, categorizing, and building. These activities work wonders for their brain.

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And, finally, the last resource that I would like to highlight is a company called Tantrum Fix with a tagline that all parents can get behind: “Got tantrums? We’ve got a fix!” Their mission is to “help toddlers learn to self-regulate with our kind and and gentle fix kit.” We were sent a box from them to try, and Abby especially has been enchanted. The kit includes a set of flashcards with calming activities pictured to help queue children to choose regulating activities, a calming bottle, bubbles, a magnetic puzzle, a soft blanket/lovie, and drawing materials. If you want to try a Tantrum Fix box, they were kind enough to send me 15% off discount with code “LAUREN” through May 30th.

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So, whether you are an adult or child and struggling with mental health, please know you are not alone, and you don’t always have to jump straight to medications (though sometimes though are also needed). The darkness doesn’t have to win. The tantrums don’t have to win.

Another round of bullets hits my skin
Well, fire away ’cause today, I won’t let the shame sink in
We are bursting through the barricades and
Reaching for the sun (we are warriors)
Yeah, that’s what we’ve become (yeah, that’s what we’ve become)

~This is Me, “The Greatest Showman”

As always, I am more than happy to answer questions, help you get started on your oil journey, or simply be a listening ear. We are brave together.

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