throat singer

About two years ago I was surfing Facebook and ran across a video of a Mongolian man performing on a mountain top.

His singing technique is used by people in Central Asia, particularly in Mongolia and Tuva. It is called Khoomei. A more common name for it is “throat singing.” An advanced throat singer can simultaneously sing two to four notes and/or musical sounds at one time. To put it simply, throat singers are Central Asian beat-boxers. And they are awesome ones at that!

As you may be aware, lots of creative people are diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I am one of them, and I love music, history and art. So, new and different things spark my fancy and turn my anxiety into healthy, happy energy. Well, after throat singing caught my interest, I become outright infatuated with it.

After a few months of listening to this type of music, I followed a few tutorials on YouTube in attempts to learn it. Learning this music style allows me to depart from the anxiety that has hindered my musical progress for many years. Being a high-strung perfectionist with a learning disability, there is a tendency to criticize myself for not doing things correctly. It is difficult to memorize fast songs and complex music scores. Plus, not being able to follow instructions very well is frustrating for all involved in the music group. So, I can’t keep up. Then I mess up. Then I give up. All of this negativity triggers anxiety attacks and ruins something that was meant to be fun.

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And after a few frustrating attempts to learn throat singing I decided it was too difficult and no fun at all. But, rather than give up, I decided to change my learning style. It had to be more informal, relaxed and childlike. Take toddlers for example. They sit on the floor and play with toys that capture their interest and they are full of joy. They also make funny sound effects when they play. And most admirably, they are not self conscious. There is no way the toddler can perfect any of this. There is no reason to. They are learning in the most natural way: by having fun!

Practicing this learning technique has been of great benefit to my mental health. As we get older we are taught to do things right and to be conscious of our behavior. Taken to the extreme, we can lose are joy of learning and damage our self esteem. Knowing this, it is good to learn something fun that is impossible to perfect, like throat singing. Below are some links to resources about throat singing.

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As I was finishing my workout today, I noticed a storm rolling in. I could see the lightning striking frequently only a few miles away, and I went outside to watch it for a bit. It made me forget why I was so worried and why I came to the gym in the first place. The gym had always been my sanctuary — a place to forget and let go of everything. But today, it wasn’t working. Today, I couldn’t shake it. I couldn’t rid my mind of the plaguing doubts and fears. But for some reason, this storm did it. The rolling of the thunder calmed me, made me forget of my anxieties of the day.

There was peace within the powerful forces from the storm. There was peace within the raging winds and pouring rain. There was peace in the couplings of lightning and thunder. It was a peace I couldn’t explain as I watched after-work commuters race home, hoping to beat the incoming storm. I shook my head at their impatience and their lack of appreciation for the sheer beauty God created. I wondered what they were rushing for, who they had waiting on them, and why they were so eager to dismiss this
beautiful thing that had consumed me.

I couldn’t comprehend their rush, but I was suddenly overwhelmed again with the day’s pressures, problems, and anxieties. It made my heart pound harder and my throat get tighter. So I turned my
attention back to the storm and embraced it. I let it take over. I felt the thunder in my chest and the lightning in my veins. I let the storm empower me and calm me all at once.

And that’s when it hit me. My anxiety is like a storm. Sometimes you can see it coming from a mile away, and sometimes it comes out of nowhere. Sometimes it’s just a light rain, and other times it’s raging winds and hail. It can happen all day or strike only in the dark of night. My anxiety is like a storm.

Sometimes you embrace the storm; sometimes the storm embraces you.


Shopping with anxiety is like playing a game of Pac-Man. You’re trying to catch all of the dots before the ghosts get you!

Get Ready!

You prepare yourself for the shopping trip way before it’s time to actually go, even if it’s just to Walmart or Target. You’ve already ordered what can be ordered online, so you don’t have to go to the store at all but have come to the realization there are a few things you need to get so you get mentally prepared.

You have to decide if what you are wearing is appropriate to wear in the store but not too flashy as to draw unnecessary attention to yourself. Once you have your list of things you want to get (which will be very few to avoid unnecessary time in the store), you do a mental check in your head to see if there’s anything you may be forgetting. You look at the time to make sure it’s not a “peak” shopping period, so the possibility of running into someone you know is minimal.

OK, so you have your clothes, money, shopping list (paper or phone because either can be used as a barrier or excuse not to talk to someone). Now we can drive to the store, listening to whatever theme song of the day to pump you up or calm you down to get in and out of the store at record time.

Starting the Game

So, you have arrived at the store and are now racing to get all of the dots before the “ghosts” see you. Your feet might as well be roller skates because you’re walking so fast. Even if you see someone in the parking lot, they’ll see how fast you’re walking so they should know you don’t have time for chitchat. You quickly grab a shopping cart, even if you won’t need it because it can be used as a barrier later.

You walk into the store and scan from right to left to make sure you don’t see anyone you know, and if you do, you’ll go in the opposite direction. And if you make eye contact, you’ll look at your list or look around as if you’re in another world and keeping walking away from them. Whew! They didn’t see you!

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You slow down to catch your breath because your heart is beating a mile a minute, but you can’t stop walking because someone might accidentally bump into you and then you may have to talk to them! So, you pick back up the pace to continue on, ever watching for anybody that may pop up, racing through the store to pick up everything on your list as if your life depended on it.

You Spot a Ghost

You see someone you know. Ahhhhhh! Inside your head you are screaming and your palms are starting to sweat and you are quickly running possibilities through your mind on what the best course of action is because they cannot see you. The person is far off from you so you have time to run. You duck into another aisle and pretend to look at something and watch from the corner of your eye to make sure they have passed. Whew! You see them pass and you go another way to continue shopping just in case they forget something and may turn around and see you.

Almost Finished

You’ve done all of your shopping and are headed to check out. You avoid those “death traps” if at all possible — you know, the registers that have people there. You quickly scan the self check-out line to make sure there aren’t too many people over there and that there is no one you know.

When the coast is clear, you dash in and ring everything up as quickly as you can without looking up because someone may see you and you’ll have to talk. If you don’t have cash to pay, you’ll have to use your card, so you make sure your total amount due comes under $50 — anything over will require a signature and that’s more time in the store. 

If by chance you go over, you’ll quickly scribble something on the signature line so you can get out. You’ve already bagged up the items and have them loaded in the cart by the time the receipt comes out. You grab it out of the machine as quickly as you can and walk quickly, almost running as if someone was chasing you, out of the store to your vehicle, which you purposely parked as closely to the door as possible for a quick getaway.

Whew! Mission accomplished!

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images


I filled up the gas tank of my car this morning, and the electronic display kindly informed me that I had “210 miles to empty.”

When I first filled the gas tank of the car a couple of years ago, I glanced at the display and read the word “empty” as “enjoy.” I thought to myself, “Oh, how nice, the car is basically telling me to have a good day.” Then I glanced at the display again and realized my error — empty, not enjoy.

To this day, every single time I fill up the tank, I think about that little error and laugh at myself. Today when I filled up the gas tank, I thought about the shift in perspective just one little word can bring about.

Empty versus enjoy.

“210 miles to empty” means how far I can drive or how many days I can make the tank of gas last. The full tank will slowly trickle toward empty as I drive the kids to day camp, therapy appointments, ninjutsu classes, aerial classes and coding classes.

It will also take me to and from work and to a variety of errands. My son’s anxiety levels are usually pretty high when we are in the car, so while we are using up the gas in the tank this week, I’ll also probably be diffusing his anxiety levels.

The car is also where my daughter has been hitting me with her most burning tween questions, so I will likely find myself having to answer a question I’m not necessarily prepared to be hearing. As the week progresses, the gas tank will slowly become empty as we live the day-to-day of our lives.

“210 miles to enjoy” means making memories when the miles are shared with my kids and savoring the rare moments of solitude when the miles are solo. The tank is full at the beginning of the last week of summer break. It’s a week where my kids get a final chance to pack in fun and friends without the added responsibilities of school and homework.

That tank of gas will take my son to a coding class we recently discovered and that he adores. It will also take my daughter to and from the aerial studio where she finds absolute joy. As the gas gauge gets lower, I will travel to and from a job I love and find a few minutes each day of rare time alone.

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The car will get us safely to my son’s therapy appointments, so he can continue to figure out how to exist in a world that he often finds overwhelming. It will also provide a safe haven for my daughter to ask her most burning questions when we are the only occupants of the vehicle. There’s something about the combination of not having to look me in the eyes but still having me to herself that works for her little brain and heart right now. As the week progresses, that tank of gas will give us opportunities to enjoy the day-to-day of our lives.

And by the time the gas tank needs to be filled again, we’ll probably be well into the final long weekend of summer, enjoying time with family and friends.

So, 210 miles to empty or 210 miles to enjoy?

I’m going to choose enjoy.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images


I’ve heard myself say it a lot — “It’s not that easy.” Every time I say this, it’s pretty much always in response to someone telling me to just get up and do something.

As many of you who struggle with mental health issues (and physical health issues) know, getting over your obstacles in order to achieve a goal you have — whether it’s big or small — isn’t always simple. Even the smallest of activities can seem incredibly difficult when anxiety and other issues come into play. Sometimes the Nike saying of “Just do it” isn’t as easy as 1-2-3.

I know to some, the phrase “It’s not that easy” must seem like a huge excuse not to try. I agree that it in no way should be used as such. However, it’s not always just an excuse. Sometimes as much as we want to just be able to get up and complete a task, our anxiety just wont seem to have it.

I’ve talked to relatives about how I want to do something really bad but how I don’t feel like I can because I begin to over-think until my mind almost convinces myself that something bad will happen. My anxiety kicks in to such a high degree that it makes the rest of my body feel weak, so much so things I know deep down I’m able to do seem impossible or close to it. Sometimes my relatives try to be understanding, but even the most understanding of them sometimes say, “If you want to do it, just do it and don’t think about it!” To that I respond, “It’s not that easy” because, well, it’s not.

I understand that sometimes, people just don’t know what to say anymore. They try hard to help, but let’s face it, when you don’t go through something yourself, it’s hard to know what to say or do to help. Even the people who are the best at assisting others sometimes experience moments where they just don’t know what to do — I understand that. Heck, sometimes I don’t know what to do or how to help myself. Still, I ask that people please try to understand that while someone may be trying their hardest, it still may be difficult for them to just get up and get something done — even if to you the task is utterly simple.

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To everyone who struggles with mental and/or physical health issues, I’m sorry that you go through this and you’re not alone. I understand that sometimes doing certain things just isn’t that easy. However, please don’t allow things not being easy allow you to stop trying. Never give up!

This blog was originally published on Serenity.


Sometimes, I can feel the anxiety building. Other times, it comes on suddenly and hits me like a ton of bricks. Whichever way it comes, having a panic attack is one of the worst experiences I’ve been through.

Usually, it starts with shaking. My hands shake. My body shakes. For some reason, I get this jerky, bouncy movement in my left leg, and only in my left leg. Before I know it, I’m like wibbly, wobbly jelly on a plate.

Then, I start to lose my breath. It feels like I can’t get enough oxygen into my lungs and I start to breathe faster and harder, trying to get as much air in as I can. My mouth goes dry from breathing so hard. This is usually when the tears start flowing. I get tingling sensations in my fingers, lips and right down my arms when it’s bad. I feel my heartbeat getting faster. Sometimes, I can actually hear it in my ears.

Boom, boom, boom.

By this stage, I usually have trouble moving. If I’m not sitting already, then I need to. I get light-headed and dizzy. I’m terrified if I try to get up, walk or move somewhere. I might pass out or fall over, which of course contradicts my other instinct to run away. Nothing is ever simple with panic.

My mind races at more than 1,000 kilometers per hour and doesn’t even make any sense. I can’t think. I can’t connect thoughts. I can’t understand what is happening. It is illogical. I know it, but still I can’t make it stop.

I have trouble speaking in the midst of a panic attack. This is partly because I can’t think straight enough to construct a sentence that will make sense to the person listening. It is also partly because I can’t get enough air in to breathe properly, let alone speak. At moments like this, the best anyone is going to get out of me is a “yes” or “no” answer.

Some things are helpful when I am having a panic attack, like someone being there, reminding me to breathe and breathing with me. Quiet definitely helps. In fact, it’s almost a requirement. Sometimes, someone holding my hand helps, but sometimes I need space. (It’s best to ask me on that one, bearing in mind it needs to be phrased so I can answer “yes” or “no.”) Patience. Bucket loads of patience. I’m fully aware of how irrational I can be and I really wish I could just turn it off but I can’t. So patience is definitely needed.

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Some things are not helpful when I am having a panic attack: people talking too much, people expecting me to talk, being crowded (I really need my space) and too much noise. There are certain things that can trigger my panic attacks. Some of these things include crowds, loud noise, constant or repetitive noises, too much happening all at once and sometimes new places and people. None of these things are of any real threat to my safety. Yet, my brain seems to think otherwise.

Sometimes, though, panic attacks just happen for no obvious reason at all. I will just get this feeling of intense emotion I can’t label or define and bam! The panic attack is on. After a panic attack has subsided, I’m usually left feeling completely and utterly exhausted. I feel like I could sleep forever.

Below is a technical diagram of what a panic attack is like for me:

Stick figure diagram showing the symptoms of the writer’s panic attacks

I hope this helps those who haven’t experienced a panic attack to understand what it feels like. You can see the shaking, the tears and even the hyperventilating, but there are other symptoms you can’t see, the racing thoughts and the tingling lips and fingers. While some people can speak through a panic attack, others can’t. No one should try and force that because it could make the panic worse. If you are helping someone through a panic attack, then it is important to know there are multiple feelings and sensations going on for the person. Remaining calm is vital in helping them also find calm.

Image via Thinkstock.

This post originally appeared on The Nut Factory.

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