My journey with bipolar started in November 2018 during my first therapy session i’ve ever attended. Along the way I’ve learned about my bipolar disorder, and other health conditions that I have such as panic disorder. More importantly, how celebrating the small wins along the way is worth acknowledging. I learned how to manage and cope with my bipolar episodes of depression and mania. More importantly, how to live – not just exist with them. Needless to say – it has been quite the ride and there have been some crashes along the way. Just ask Logan, it’s never a dull moment. Which I’m sure some of my fellow mental health warriors can relate to. Despite how difficult living with a disability and all that it comes with it is not everything has been terrible. Even though my brain tries to trick me into thinking so.
My therapist taught me to celebrate my “wins” each day, no matter how small or how big they are. In the beginning of my mental health journey, some days I would celebrate small victories like showering or cleaning my apartment. Now almost two years later (WOW time has flown). I wanted to share some of my recent wins I am celebrating this month.
Learning how to balance the light & darkness that comes while struggling with a depressive episode can be extremely difficult. I’ve started opening up more to my readers about my mental health history as time goes on. I battle several mental health illnesses, depression being one of them. I want to help educate the healthy brains, and comfort those others battling depression like me.
How to Balance the Light & Darkness of Depression
Traveling, and photographyhave given me a healthy, creative outlet to help express my pain during a depressive episode. My hope is that this article will provide anyone struggling comfort, and inspiration on how to balance your light & darkness.
25 million Americans suffer from depression each year.
Everyone has had an experience to some degree with depression; perhaps it was the loss of someone close to you, losing your job, or being unhappy with a current living situation. However, with the several different types the term “depression” has caused incorrect assumptions and continues to be invalidated when laypersons talk about their experiences with depression. This is a huge social, medical, and recovery problem.
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is not the same as the depression you felt when your loved one passed. The difference being, there was a reason you became depressed – you suffered a loss. It’s painful, and you probably remember your experience with the darkness you felt during that time. Thankfully, your depression will disappear as time passes and you begin to heal.
MDD is a mental health illness characterized by a persistently depressed mood with loss of interest in activities, eating, working, socializing, and sometimes life. This debilitating illness can cause significant impairment in ones daily life.
Mental health warriors suffering from MDD become depressed for no apparent reason, and will continue to battle the light and dark times of the illness the rest of their lives.
What is the cause of MDD?
There are several possible causes to clinical depression, however these usually include a combination of biological, psychological, and social sources of distress. As more continue struggling with depression, more research on the illness is being done. Scientists have discovered that these factors can cause changes in a person’s brain function, altering the natural state of neural circuits in the brain.
Symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder
The persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest that characterizes major depression can lead to a range of behavioral and physical symptoms. These may include:
Excessive sleep changes
Significantly low energy level
Absence of joy and happiness
Inability to care for oneself
Joint & muscle pain
Depression is largely associated with thoughts of suicide. The risk increases by 25% for alcoholics who are depressed, rising to over 75 percent.
There is no cure for MDD. Treatment is typically an anti depressant medication, cognitive therapy, or a combination of the two. Research increasingly suggests treatments may normalize brain changes associated with depression. The battle to maintain the balance of light and darkness, is always just around the corner. Waiting.
How to Use Creative Outlets for Healing
When I travel, my depression doesn’t just stay at home, waiting for me to return. It comes with me, like a dark cloud trailing behind me. During my winter adventure to Big Sky, Montana last year – the light and dark contrasts from the snow inspired this post. The photographs tell my story, expressing my feelings during a depressive episode. I hope this article has enlightened you in some way, thank you for listening.
Over 50 percent of all people who die by suicide suffer from major depression disorder.
Life is a continuous balancing act between the light and dark that lives within us. The contrasts vary depending on the amount of light surrounding the individual. The amount of light can alter life between pure bliss and despair. For most people, maintaining the balance causes little disturbances in life, as easy as breathing.
Some days you lose the battle- and the darkness is all consuming. It pulls you deeper and deeper trying to drown you in its depths of despair to claim you for its own. The darkness will do everything in its power to take you from the people and the things that you love.
Depression affects nearly 5-8 percent of Americans ages 18 and over in a given year.
I know it’s hard, this battle you’re fighting, and I understand that you’re exhausted from fighting off the darkness. I’ve experienced that lack of understanding most people in your life will never understand. The severity of your illness, and the internal battles you’re facing each and every day, I get it.
What you must remember, is that you are not alone in your struggle. The light and with it those feelings of joy & happiness will return. You remember the light, right?
Do you see it? Keep looking… It comes back slowly, creating shadows in the darkness, gently letting you know it’s returned. The arrival of that light signals that this battles end is near, bringing with it hope. Hold onto that small shadow of hope until the darkness fades and the battle ends. Watch as that light shines brighter each day.
Before you know it, the battle is won and you return home. The light is warm, and comforting after so much time in the dark. It’s time to breathe now. Inhale slowly. Hold the breath. Exhale slowly. Again.
I’m so proud of you for finding that balance between the light and darkness. I’m filled with joy that you are here to live another day after your excruciating battle. We all knew you could do it. xx
If you or someone you know is struggling with their battle against depression, get help at https://depression.org
write about what a panic attack feels like, to help people understand the severity of the mental illness and how it affects my life. Including the travel limitations it can inflict. Read more What a Panic Attack Feels Like
Inspirational photos from the beautiful Canadian Rockies. The journey will take you through Alberta into Jasper National Park, Banff National Park, & Yoho National Park of British Colombia. Read more Canadian Rockies National Parks
Virtual travel is the newest way to vacation while we’re all staying home to flatten the curve during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are learning new innovative ways to navigate our world virtually to stay connected with each other. To some that may mean using FaceTime, Facebook, or WhatsApp to video chat with friends, or family. Employees are using Zoom, Skype, or Telegram to conduct virtual meetings and do business online instead of traveling. Then there’s some that are visiting Las Vegas.
Next time you’re logging on, take a virtual vacation to Las Vegas. Take a break and watch the calming fountains of the Bellagio. Get up and dance to music on Fremont Street, take a ride up in the High Roller or watch some comedy with the family! This virtual vacation to Las Vegas is yours to explore from the couch!
Now, put your comfy clothes on, pour a glass of wine, light up a joint, whatever your pleasure… and enjoy the best virtual vacation to Las Vegas!
Plan Your Las Vegas Adventure
Grab your snacks, get your charger ready, and get ready to visit Las Vegas virtually. Below is the highlights of Las Vegas for your virtual visit to the city where anything can happen. You’re encouraged to keep exploring even more of Las Vegas along your journey. Recommended suggestions will guide you. Have a great vacation!
We are going to tour the city and see the most famous sites. We will cook French food from home, listen to music, and even speak the language. You don’t have to leave home to have a great French experience.
Virtual Las Vegas Music & Shows
Cirque du Soleil Arm Chair Performances
Inspired by the desire to stay connected during this time of social distancing, Cirque du Soleil invites its fans to a weekly 60-minute online rendezvous to enjoy some of the most awe-inspiring moments from its world-famous shows on the new digital content hub, CirqueConnect.
Shania Twain Virtual Concert
Quarantine Mixx by DJ Pauly D
Old Vegas Fremont Street Nightlife
Vegas Virtual Nightclub
Bellagio Fountain Show
Venetian Palazzo Gondola Ride
Las Vegas Virtual Comedy
The show must go on….line! Get a front row seat to Mat Franco’s online livestream show, featuring new magic, fun surprises, interactive Q&A’s, and maybe you’ll even learn a trick you can do at home! It’s free and it’s right on Facebook LIVE!
Virtual Las Vegas Museum Tours
Mob Museum Virtual Tours
The Mob Museum has begun a three-part virtual tour series of all four floors of the Museum’s highlighted exhibitions and artifacts for you to enjoy from the comfort of your home.
The Neon Museum Virtual Tour
The Neon Museum now has a free app that you can access from your computer (no smartphone required). The virtual tour explores the history of certain iconic signs from the Las Vegas Strip, which are now held in the museum’s outdoor exhibition space, The Boneyard.
Virtual Las Vegas Health & Wellbeing
Vegas Golden Knights Workout Challenge
Fitness GOALS! The NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights are “Together At Home” with us sharing daily fitness challenge videos. #VGKFitChallenge
Chippendales Sexy In-Home Workout
Las Vegas Virtual Cooking Shows
The D Las Vegas Facebook – Ivan
A Taste of Wynn at Home with David Walzog
Virtual Vegas for Kids
Study Break with Jeff Civillico
Las Vegas’ family friendly comedian Jeff Civillico is now offering FREE Livestream Juggling Workshops every Tuesday 11am Pacific (2pm Eastern) now through April 28th on Instagram.
Welcome to the Smithsonian. You’ve been anxiously awaiting this field trip for months and the day is finally here. You burst in the museum and head to the first exhibit. You are so captivated by the exhibits that you’ve lost the group. If you don’t find your classmates soon, the bus will leave you behind. Your mission is to find your class before the museum closes and the bus leaves. Navigate through the Smithsonian using the virtual tour and follow clues to find your class!
#VegasGoes Blue is a collaboration between Clark County, the cities of Las Vegas, Henderson, North Las Vegas, Boulder City and Mesquite, the Southern Nevada Health District and a number of other local agencies and hospitals. This local effort will coincide with World Health Organization’s World Healthcare Day, which this year honors nurses and midwives.
The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is located in the northwest corner of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore encompasses 65 miles of sandy shoreline along Lake Michigan. The area also includes several lakes and streams, making this National Lakeshore a great summer destination.
Before booking your trip, make sure you protect yourself and your money andpurchase travel insurance! You will need to rent a car to get to Sleeping Bear Dunes. It is a 4.5 hour drive from the Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) and a 3.5 hour drive from the Flint Bishop International airport.
Where to Stay by Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
The sleeping bear dunes are 25 miles west of Traverse City, making this a great city for accommodations, night life, restaurants and wineries. Try an AirBnB and see how the locals live. If you’re looking for a closer city outside the park you can find hotels in Empire or Glen Arbor. There are several state parks, and private campgrounds in the area. Rent an RV and spend a weekend exploring. Bring a tent, or you can rent rustic cabins in some state parks as well.
“Tug on anything at all and you’ll find it connected to everything else in the universe.”
How are the dunes created?
The sand from the steep bluffs along the lakeshore fall or slide into Lake Michigan. This provides massive amounts of sand and gravel to the National Lakeshore. Some individual landslides have dumped a million cubic yards of sand into the great lake in just one single event.
Waves cut away the bases of the bluffs, providing a continuous supply of sand and gravel to the winds blowing against them. The sand continues to get whisked up and deposited on top.
The Lake Michigan coastline along Sleeping Bear Dunes and the offshore Islands are a very large component of the National Lakeshore environment. Small patches of ancient forests buried by sand eons ago continue to be exposed, as sand moves inland and attempts to bury the forests there today.
The Dune Climb
Climb the dunes or enjoy the sand. The Dune Climb offers plenty of fresh, wind-blown sand for your climbing pleasure. While the climb can be strenuous, the run back down to the picnic area is a blast!
The climb up the dunes provides you a view of Glen Lake. The Dune Climb is located just about 5 miles north of Empire on M-109. You will need an annual National Park Pass or $25 for parking at this dune climb. For those who have extra time and a lot of energy, take a hike through the dunes all the way to Lake Michigan.
Lake Michigan Overlook
Safety Tips: Take lots of water and remember you’ll be walking up and down the dunes of loose sand the entire way. Hiking through the dunes can be disorienting, so be sure to keep children within sight. If hiking with a group, agree on a time and place to meet up before leaving.
Avoid getting stuck at the bottom of the dune at the Lake Michigan Overlook!
Michigan Lakeshore Beaches
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has miles of pristine beach! Cool off in the beautiful clear water of Lake Michigan with beach activities like sunbathing, reading, or making sand castles. The whole Lake Michigan lakeshore is open to swimming, but there are no lifeguards on duty, and be aware of possible Rip Currents.
Visitors are advised not to go down the dune at the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive Lake Michigan Overlook. Lake levels are high – the only way out is up. Keep yourself and rescuers out of danger.
Play in the waves, swim, or just take a stroll along the beach. Lake Michigan is beautiful, but it’s more refreshing than the inland lakes, so be prepared!
Safe popular access points to the Lake Michigan Lakeshore can be found here.
You can hike over 100 miles of designated trails along the Lakeshore. There are thirteen hiking trails on the mainland, most of which are maintained during the winter for cross country skiing, and snowshoeing. Each trailhead has a parking area, and the trails will be marked with blue tipped posts.
Tip: There is limited or no service throughout the park. To keep your phone fully charged and ready to catch those amazing shots, you’ll need an extra battery charger. I take my Mophie everywhere I travel, just in case!
Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive
Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is a must-do when visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This 7.4 mile drive loops through the Beech-Maple forest and sand dunes. You’ll gain insight to the history of the area, learn about the different ecosystems found within the park and, best of all, spectacular overlooks along the way.
Do a Lazy River Float
Cool off with a relaxing float down the Platte River on a hot summer day. This is one of the most popular summer recreational activities in the area. The river is shallow and clear, moving at a good pace, with no rapids making it perfect for all ages. You can either bring your own tube, raft, air mattress, etc. or you can rent them from local outfitters. If you need to rent during the height of the summer season, you will want to plan ahead and get reservations.
Lake Michigan Sunsets
Lake Michigan sunsets will take your breath away. Find a good dune to hike along the shoreline and watch the sun slowly set along the horizon. We were able to find our own private viewing area along one of the dune trails. Taking in the glow of the sunset in peace, with sounds of waves washing below. Glen Lake pictured below is another great sunset viewing spot.
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The magical mountains of rainbow are located in Cusco, Peru high up in the Andes. The peak of rainbow mountains has an altitude of 17,060 ft / 5,200 m above sea level. The city of Cusco sits at an altitude of (11,152 ft / 3,399 m). The rainbow mountains are called Vinicunca, Winikunka, or Montaña de Siete Colores by Peruvians. If you’re asking yourself “is it worth going to Peru rainbow mountains?” the answer is YES.
Rainbows and mountains are both beautiful. And I’m obsessed with anything colorful/shiny/that sparkles. So when I heard you could hike to a RAINBOW MOUNTAINS in Peru (rainbows + mountains = Chelsea’s favorite things) I knew I had to go.
Visiting Peru’s Rainbow Colored Mountains
I was nervous for the ascent up the mountain- Instead of acclimating like most people I had been sick for a good majority of the trip from the altitude in Cusco (for whatever reason my body absolutely HATES altitude, and anything over 9,000 ft makes me nauseous and uncomfortable). This trek would be pushing my body to limits i’d never pushed it to before- and I worried these beautiful mountains could very well be the death of me.
How do I get to the rainbow mountains?
The morning of the hike starts EARLY, or late if you want to look at it that way- the van picked us up from our Airbnb in Cusco at 2:30 a.m. We all instantly regretted not bringing a pillow for the 3 hour ride ahead of us. Blankets were provided for us, so we attempted to sleep on each other and catch up on some zzz’s (we didn’t get to sleep till 10 p.m after the Machu Picchu trip ). The rough ride made that difficult, and nobody got much sleep. I’m pretty sure there are more speed bumps in Peru than the entire continent of South America…
We arrived at a village 15 minutes from the trailhead where we were fed a light breakfast by the locals. Breakfast consisted of breads, jams/butter, a plate of scrambled eggs, and some tea (it’s highly recommended you drink the coca tea- it will help with the altitude sickness). I was nauseous from the van ride and/or altitude so I skipped breakfast.
When we arrived at the trail head around 6:30 a.m. we were at 14,000 ft and it was cold! Layers on layers was key to this trek. There were locals selling wool gloves, hats, scarves, parkas and other souvenirs- a couple people from the group bought some hats and gloves. We still had 2000 ft in elevation to gain and it was already cold…
You Can Ride Horses to Rainbow Mountains Peak
There were horses for rent that you could ride up the mountain for 60 soles (about $18 USD). SOLD. And that was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Half our group decided to rent horses, while the other half decided to brave the mountain on foot.
The horse came with a local guide who led the horse up the mountain for you- these guides were the real heros. They were wearing sandals on their feet- and made the trip up and down the mountain MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY, sometimes running past other hikers on the way down.
It was impressive and made me feel like a whimp on my horse- but then I’d try to take a deep breath, and considering I was having a hard time breathing just sitting there, I knew the horse was a wise decision.
Wildlife Along the Vinicunca Trail
Riding the horse up the mountain allowed me to relax, and enjoy all the incredible views along the way. These views included cuteness overload, with thousands of alpaca, llama, and farm animals.
Reaching the Peak
The horses do not go up the last quarter mile of the hike- the mountain is too steep, and the air is too thin- so you know what that meant? It was up to us to make it through the hardest part of the hike. Since we had left at 2:30 in the morning- we were the first tour group to arrive to the mountain.
There was only 4 people in sight, and we had the opportunity to be some of the first people up the mountain that day. So I moved as fast as I could before the other tour groups started arriving to summit. The key was slow and steady, I would take 5 steps and be panting and out of breath.
Is hiking up Peru’s rainbow mountains difficult?
The photo above doesn’t make it look very daunting, does it? I remember being so frustrated I couldn’t breathe, my stomach was rolling with nausea, and I was in tears just 10 feet away from reaching the top. I didn’t think I was going to make it, I thought for sure I was going to die by asphyxiation right there on that mountain in Peru.
When I finally took my last step to the top- I collapsed to the ground, gasping for air, trying to catch my breath for a couple minutes. I felt like a fish out of water. Finally my breathing slowed- and as I lifted my head to look up at what I had just worked for- a smile of pure joy spread across my face, and I knew instantly it was all worth it.
**This hike is extremely difficult for all levels of fitness, due to the high altitude and low oxygen levels. Please consult with your physician if you have any questions. It is recommended that hikers do not spend more than 30 minutes at the peak (the air is too thin)**
Arriving at the Peak
Making it to the top of the peak was a huge accomplishment for me. I fought through physical and mental exhaustion not allowing myself to give up (believe me, I wanted to) Everyone cheers each other on at the top, those that’ve reached it, know that it’s those last few steps where people hit their wall and almost give up, and they NEED that encouragement.
We were offered the horses again on the way down. I was confident enough that I could make it down on my own, so I declined the assistance. The trip down as always- was easier than the trip up.
Homemade Peruvian Lunch
When we got to the bottom we were served a homemade authentic Peruvian lunch, and I had no issues stuffing my face this time around. It was after all, Thanksgiving 🦃
My Peru Crew!
Helpful Hints for Visiting Rainbow Mountains
Our group of 6 did a tour package with Flashpacker Connect- they were awesome, and our guide Johnathon was extremely knowledgeable. Our package was for the 2 day inca trail hike, 1 day Machu Picchu, and 1 day in the rainbow mountains. They provided transportation to and from each expedition, an over night stay after the inca trail in the town aquas calientes, and a good majority of our meals.
**If you are concerned with the altitude, please consult with your doctor before your trek**
The mountain trek takes place above 4000 meters; the terrain is challenging, and weather is unpredictable ranging from hot and humid to rain and wind. Hikers should be in reasonable shape, and healthy. Ensure you have proper gear and be prepared for variable weather conditions throughout the day.
Wondering what to bring on your rainbow mountains hike?