Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Your Best Body: Dealing with Burnout

     Hey guys. I hope you all are having a good week so far. I'm busy with work as per usual. I have finally started doing vlogs, which have been highly requested for me to do. I will leave a link to my channel here and a link to Monday's vlog at the end of the post.
     Anyways, today's post was requested by my sister Jaimi (you can read her interview here). She thinks she might be dealing with burnout as a performer and so I decided to write a post that might shed some light on the situation.

Before I begin the signs of burnout I wanted to note that Type A personalities (high achievers who tend to overcommit themselves, such as myself) are at especially high risk for burnout.

Early signs include:
1. Not enjoying dancing
2. Tension, depression, frustration at not improving
3. Anger, fatigue, and feeling out-of-whack
4. An inability to bounce back like you used to and forgetfulness or confusion.

The solution:
Take a few days off from dancing entirely. Fake the stomach flu if you have to. Just don't go to class. Rest your body, do yoga, eat and drink right and most importantly, get enough sleep.

Full-blown burnout signs include:
1. Pushing yourself through exhaustion
2. Physical pain and feeling emotionally shot
3. Feelings of negativity, being catty towards others and depressed
4. This could result in injury and even worse complete disdain for dance

The Solution:
Take more than a few days off of dancing. Take the summer off if you have to. Just don't dance, as hard as that may be. Sure, you can do conditioning to keep yourself from losing muscle tone, just don't dance at all.

According to an old Dance Spirt magazine I have here are seven things you can do to beat burnout:

1. During days of rest, nurture yourself
Get a massage, sit in a hot tub or sauna, go for acupuncture and have some fun. That doesn't mean you can go nuts at a club. Instead try having a nice dinner with friends.

2. Maintain a workout regimen 
This must have lots of variety to stay mentally stimulated and to increase the probability of success.

3. Don’t be so hard on yourself and try to be less goal-oriented
If there was such a thing as being perfect it would be a category in the Guinness Book of World Records. Unfortunately, perfection just doesn’t exist...unless you're Jesus of course.

4. See a professional dance performance
When I was going through dance burnout, rereading my favorite dance novels and watching my favorite ballets on DVD really helped bring back my love for dance.

5. Take a dance workout class such as Zumba
It's so much fun, even if no one else are dancers. Sometimes being next to other dancers having fun and rekindle your love for dance.

6. Switch studios
If worst comes to worst, try switching to a new studio. You may be burned out because your studio is not meeting your needs anymore. That's how it was for me at one studio, so instead of leaving I took classes with a different teacher and at a level lower than what I was taking before. Not only was I the best dancer in the class, but it also helped me focus on my technique and all the nice praise I got really helped me feel better about my dancing.

7. Evaluate your commitment to dance
If you’re burning out, you might need a new venue for dance. Such as joining a dance team at your school which will allow you to continue dancing at a lesser intensity than at your studio.

(Credit: Ballerina Project).

    So that concludes my post about how to deal with burnout. I really hope this post helped you Jaimi, as well as any other dancers who are dealing with burnout. As always, please share this post if you liked it and leave a comment for me below if you would like me to do a post on a particular topic pertaining to mental health. Have a great week and I’ll catch you all in my next post!

Previous Post: Behind the Wings: Framed! A Fairytale Mystery
Vlog 1: June 19th
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Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Behind the Wings: Framed! A Fairytale Mystery

     Hello everyone. As you probably have guessed it, this blog post is all about the show that I was most recently in. It is called Framed! A Fairytale Mystery written by the brilliant Heather Sconce. First of all, I will give a synopsis of this story because it is not based on a well known story like Beauty & The Buccaneer was. Then I will take about the audition process, my character, the rehearsal process, how tech (read: hell) week was and finally the show.

The synopsis:
     Prince John from Nottingham is a reformed prince who is no longer evil has moved to the land of Once Upon A Time where unfortunately no one believes that he is reformed. He is given a two day test, to watch over the Red Ruby, which was given to the Fairy Godmother. The Red Ruby is what keeps all the fairytales in tact. But alas, the Red Ruby goes missing and Prince John knows he was framed. He only has 24 hours to clear his name or he will be banished to the Land of the Villains forever. Can Prince John clear his name and finally join the Princely League of Princes or will he remain a villain forever.

The audition:
     The audition process went very well for me. I was very excited for this show and confident in my acting ability. During one of the readings, I was reading for Snow White, and Jesse, who played Prince John always had to made some kind of joke about the princess. So his joke for me was that I was "too short for his taste" which was super funny. It was nice that Jesse asked me first if he could make a short joke during my reading because I'm not a fan of short jokes at all.
     Fortunately and unfortunately, we had a MASSIVE turnout at the audition and just by what was written for the audition, I knew that either more characters would have to be added or not everyone would get a part. But luckily the former is what happened. I got the role of FIT or FAIRY (In Training) which is one of the narrators of the story, alongside the Fairy Godmother. While our characters aren't the main leads, we are probably the most important supporting characters because without us, there would be no story.

My character and costume: 
     The easiest way to describe FIT is a twelve year old on a sugar high who hurt herself from dancing too much. I was unfortunately in a cast for the entire rehearsal and show process so we scripted in my injury into my character which I really like. All the jokes the Fairy Godmother and I made about my injury were completely add libbed and absolutely hysterical.
     My costume was a beautiful blue and pink dress that could very well have been used in a ballet like La Sylphide. The unfortunate part was that at first the dress was too small for me in the sense that we couldn't zip it up so we had to turn the back into a corset which made me love the dress even more. I also got to wear a beautiful flower crown my sister Bree made and a beautiful pair of fairy wings. I loved my costume so much, I ended up buying it because the costume was a) very old and b) tailored specifically to me so it just made sense that I would buy it. I plan on going as a Fairy for Halloween this year because that's something I haven't done before.
     I also got to do some really pretty makeup. To make me more fairy-like I ventured out into the world of bright eyeshadows and eyeliner. I even had white temporary tattoos put on the outside corner of my eye and then colored it in with eyeshadow. Each show I had different "tattoos". It was really fun to play around with it.

The rehearsals and hell week:
     The rehearsals were very much similar to last year in the sense that I had a LOT of down time to do homework and such. But this time around I was in the beginning of every scene and I had a lot more lines to memorize. The rehearsals we the most difficult because there were lots of primary school kids in the show and they weren't very organized to say the least. But who can blame them? Their kids.
     Once cuts in the script had been made that took out most of the parts for the kids, rehearsals became smoother and easier to do. We got in a full run through a week before tech week started which was crazy. I feel as if we had more rehearsals like last year, the rehearsals of this show would have gone much smoother. But I understand why we only rehearsed once a week with the directors daughter's dance competitions and all.
     One funny memory I have from rehearsals is when Sleeping Beauty enters the narration and I try to wake her up. The noises I had to make were completely up to me so on the first try I was lightly pounding on Tally (Sleeping Beauty) while making monkey noises. The director, Tally and I found it so so funny we were laughing about that for a good five minutes. I also really like how at the end of the scene the Fairy Godmother tries to call me off stage like you would call a dog. Me barking like a dog made it even more funny.
     Hell week wasn't really hell week at all. For my part, the rehearsals went very well.

The performances:
It was amazing to preform again, it's been ages since I've done so. I got to do lots of really awesome fairy makeup and I had an absolute blast doing it. My costume was made in a way where I could hide my phone in my bra which isn't something I should do...oops! One of my favorite memories of the show was on closing night my sister Jessa came (99% of all my modeling photos have been taken by her) and she was sitting in the front row so during one of my lines where I interact with the audience I did a little ad-lib and said, "I can tell the girl sitting in the front of Table Two really wants to see it (meaning a dance I was making up in my head because the Fairy Godmother wouldn't let me dance)." The lighting crew immediately put a spotlight on my friend which made her laugh so much. And, Jen, who played the Fairy Godmother so badly wanted to say, "Don't encourage her Jessa." (because knowing Jessa, she would always encourage me to dance, even if I was injured, I'd find a way around that).

I unfortunately don't have any photos of the actual show to share because they are still being edited. When I get photos, I will be sure to add them here.

So that pretty much wraps up this post. If you liked it please make sure to give it a +1 on Google+, share it with all your thespian friends and follow me on all my social media accounts. See you in a week!

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Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Beauty Reviews: Illume Candles

     Hello everyone. I hope you all are having a lovely month of June so far. I've been working a lot lately which keeps me very busy. Anyways, with my first work paycheck I decided to buy somethings from one of my favorite companies Illume Candles. The first time I discovered Illume Candles was a sometime last semester when I picked up the Thai Lily perfume from a local bookstore. I was so in love with the scent, that I picked up a candle in the same sent a few weeks later. I quickly finished the vial of perfume I bought and had to order more. So here is my recent Illume Candle haul and review. Enjoy!


     I was not expecting this order to come as fast as it did. It took only a couple of days. I was thrilled when I got home from errands on Friday and saw the package waiting for me.
     The first thing in the box was a small free gift that they include with every order. It was a mini candle in the scent Gilded Amberleaf, which is a nice but super strong scent, a hand cream in the Desert Tulip scent (which I also love) and a mini box of matches.
     After opening the first layer of protective wrapping, I was immediately impressed with how tighly and securely everything was packaged. I probably could have dropped one of the candles on our wood floor and nothing would have happened (no, I didn't test that theory out).
     I had ordered two candles and room/linen spray in the Thai Lily scent of course. It's a very feminine scent but it's not super overpowering either. The top notes are: bali mango, blood orange, sparkling pineapple, and white nectarine. The middle notes are: gardenia, assiatic lily and mimosa flower. Finally, the base notes are: sensual musk, amber resin, and brazilian teak. All together it's an absolutely gorgeous scent.
     Both candles have adorable packaging. The smaller one is going to be in my bathroom for my pampering days while the larger candle will remain in my room. The linen/room spray is a bigger bottle than I was expecting but it's still gorgeous looking. I'll mainly be using it on my clothes and before I leave my room.
     I plan on buying the bath salts, body wash (found on Amazon) and body bar in this particular scent someday soon.

Total Review
Arrival: ☆☆☆☆
Packaging: ☆☆☆☆☆
Scent: ☆☆☆☆

                                                           Left: Vanity Tin Candle.
                                                        Center: Linen/Room Spray.
                                                      Right: Demi Lustre Jar Candle.

     So that concludes my Illume Candles Review. As always, please share this post if you liked it and leave a comment for me below if you've ever tried products from Illume before. Have a great week and I’ll catch you all week.

New Solo: More Alive Than Dead 
Previous Post: Dancing Through Life's Lessons: Forgive Yourself
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Thursday, 1 June 2017

Dancing Through Life's Lessons: Forgive Yourself

     Hi. It's me. Felicity. Felicity Rose. Live and in writing. Today, the day I am writing this post is May 18th. I tend to pre-write most of my posts but you never knew that until now. Haha! One of my resolutions for the new year is to be more honest with people. And so today, I am being 110% honest with whoever might be reading this. I am not overdramatizing things or looking for attention. I am point-blank telling you how it is.
     Don't worry, this isn't going to be a super depressing post...well maybe it will be in one or two ways. The end of May I binge watched 13 Reasons Why and it definitely brought up a lot of pain for me which I guess you could say was triggering. Both old and new pain. Old pain from when I went through a really dark phase last summer and new pain because I had a pretty severe mental breakdown last Friday (meaning the Friday before I wrote this post. May 12th if you want to be specific). Don't worry, I'm not hurt...well, not physically anyways. Mentally and emotionally I am in immense pain and exhaustion. Watching 13 Reasons Why probably had something to do with that. No amount of sleep will ever fix the pain I am in. Sleep doesn't help when it's your soul that is tired.
     I have had Major Depressive Disorder (now Persistent Depressive Disorder) since 2015. And last year was one of the darkest years of my life in terms of my mental health (you'll get a better explanation of that time in September). I did some pretty messed up shit to myself (nothing related to smoking, drinking or doing drugs) and I probably scared my parents for life with the things I have said when I am going through a depressive episode.
     Watching 13 Reasons Why has made me realize the effects that suicide has on people, in ways I never understood before. Sure, I had seen how it affected the families of my friends Isabel and David via social media but I've never really experienced that pain of loosing someone to suicide the way I did when I watched 13 Reasons Why (Empath problems). Hannah Baker and I share so many similarities and watching what she did to herself was like watching me to it to myself. It also made me hate myself for almost doing what she did.
     That's the pain I am in right now. I absolutely hate myself for having been suicidal. I can't seem to forgive myself for feeling the way that I have. I know it's not my fault and yes, I am going to therapy. My parents and some of my friends forgive me, but how can I forgive myself? So that's what I'm going to talk about today. How to forgive yourself and how to let go.

1. Become clear on your morals and values as they are right now
     We all feel guilty for what we have done in the past. We feel guilty because those past actions are not in line with our current morals and values. Our past wrongs can actually be a clue into what we think is important. For me, I think that every life is important. And that no one should ever feel like they are alone because God knows, I have felt like that too many times in my life. By discovering what our morals and values are, we can start to see a clearer picture as to "why" we're hurting over what we've done, or what others did to us.

2. Realize that the past is the past
     Before you can forgive, you must accept. This seems fairly straightforward, but when we can really wrap our mind around the fact that we can’t undo the past, the past is done, those things happened, we open ourselves up to more acceptance. Increased acceptance can lead to the emotional healing we are all looking for. Remember what Elsa said in Let It Go, "I'm never going back. The past is in the past. Just let it go!"

3. Create a "re-do"
     Never ever ever underestimate the power of a "re-do". Make a list of what you would do differently if you could go back and relive whatever lead you to this dark abyss. In doing so, we affirm that we not only learned from our past mistake, but that if we had the skills we have now, back then, we would have done things differently. And if you somehow end up in this situation again, just look back at that "re-do" list.

4. Realize you did the best you could at the time
     The way we respond depends on the skills we have at the time, the frame of mind we’re in at that given point, and how we perceive the situation at that moment. Maybe we didn’t have as much objectivity, or acted out of survival or protection mode. Maybe we'd let stress build up, which put us at a higher risk of responding poorly. Whatever the factors, cut yourself a break. If you learn from it, it was never in vain.

5. Start acting in accordance with your morals and value
    The best thing you can do for yourself in order to forgive is start replacing the negative behavior and thoughts with more appropriate ones that are congruous with your morals and values. So create a list of daily goals and do them, one by one. This can lead to a sense of pride, which is a huge part of building self-esteem and learning how to forgive yourself again.

6. Identify your biggest regrets.
     Make a list or a graph of the things you regret doing. And then try your best to remember whatever led you to make that choice which you now regret. This can help you identify the types of patterns you end up in and then you can make positive ways to change them. Like for me, I tend to overreact or say things on impulse. So I need to take a breath, count to ten...or fifty before I say something. Or I just need to call "mango" on said situation and walk away from it. 

7. Tackle the big ones
     Always tackle your biggest regrets first. These are going to require the most work. This is what I like to call, "clearing your conscience." This could mean going to the people you hurt and apologizing to them, it could mean going to rehab, or actually admitting that you need help.

8. Turn the page
     Your story isn't over yet. There is so much left that is still unwritten. Stop rereading the chapters that are all dark and twisty and fucked up. Turn the page and accept those events as part of your story. They've all contributed to making you who you are. Being grateful for those experiences allows you to move on and truly forgive yourself.

9. Cut yourself some slack
     When we first learned to ride a bike most of us had training wheels on for a while. And when we were finally ready to tackle a two wheeler, you soon realized that it would probably take many tries before you got good at it. New behavior and thinking patterns are no different. Both are skills. Cut yourself some slack while you’re on a new learning curve. Realize that you’re going to make mistakes. We all do. It's part of being human.

10. Move toward self-love
     The first step in self love is forgiving yourself for whatever heinous crime you committed to yourself. Think kind thoughts toward yourself and show yourself some compassion. Hang positive affirmations around your house or apartment. If we can learn to think of ourselves as our best friend, to speak to ourselves with love and kindness, and put ourselves as a priority, it reaffirms that we believe we are worth it. Some books that I recommend are Believe You Can by John Mason and Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig.

     It's a long process. Forgiving yourself. But you can do it.

Nothing is permanent in this wicked world. Not even our troubles. 
~ Charlie Chaplin

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Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Seasonal Favorites: Spring '17

     Hello my pretties. I hope you all are doing well. It's tech week for the play I'm in so when I'm not at rehearsals I am either working or sleeping because this week is going to be full of late nights...and a lot of caffeine. Anyways, today I bring to you my Spring Favorites. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Origins but all opinions are entirely my own.

Actress: Kathrine Langford
I first found out about Kathrine was through the TV show 13 Reasons Why (which I talk about later). I was in awe of her talent as an actress. She is the perfect Hannah Baker and did an absolutely brilliant job of portraying a girl who was bullied relentlessly but never once showed symptoms of depression/thoughts of suicide until it was too late. Her performance was so raw and real and made me feel exactly what her character was feeling (Empath problems). But what really surprised me is that Kathrine is only a year older than I am. I honestly though that she would be 23-24 not 21. Anyways, she's beautiful and immensely talented and I cannot wait to see where her career takes her.

Ballet: Ballet Beautiful Workouts
     Since I've been out of dance due to an injury for the past few months I spent a lot of time figuring out what my trouble areas in ballet are and then sought out workouts to help me with that. I heard a lot about the Ballet Beautiful workouts but I never had motivation to try them until a few months ago. I primarily use the inner and outer thighs workout because that's my main problem area in ballet. And let me tell you, those workouts are killer. But so worth it in the long run.

Beauty: Rose Verbena lotion by Ellen Tracy
     I've been on the hunt for a Rose scented lotion for ages. I came across this at Ross (who would have guessed that?) and I am so glad I bought it. This lotion is water-thin when you rub it in your hands and it absorbs in to your skin within 5-6 minutes. Your clothes definitely do stick to your skin if you change right after putting on this lotion so I recommend putting it on and chilling in a bathrobe until it dries. It also comes in a tub which is really nice because you won't be wasting any product. If this product hadn't been discontinued (hence the no link to the product) I would 100% repurchase it in the future.

Book: Gunpowder and Tea Cakes (My Journey with Felicity) by Kathleen Ernst
     If you know me in my personal life, then you know my new-found love for all things American Girl. You cannot imagine my excitement when I found out that not only was Felicity Merriman (the historical character I share a name with and cosplay as) would be coming back from the archives but she would also be getting three books. The first two are basically her whole book series put into two books instead of six. The third book is a My Journey book which basically leads you to different endings as you read the book. For example, let's say you're on page 21 and you have two options as to where the story goes and either choice is a different page (ex. choice A is on page 30 and choice B is on page 45). It's really fascinating how a book like that works and you learn a lot more about Felicity's time (Williamsburg, Virginia in 1775).

Drink: Bigelow Vanilla Chai
     Unlike, the character Felicity Merriman, I love tea. It's the only caffeinated drink that doesn't kill my stomach. I originally tried this tea from my roommate and I instantly fell in love. In four months, I finished a 72 pack of the K-cup version of this tea. That's a LOT of tea. I drink this hot (duh) with French Vanilla creamer and four packets (1tsp) of sugar.

Food: El Monterey Chicken Taquitos
     The first time I had Chicken Taquitos was a my friend Trevor's birthday party last year. I'm pretty sure I ate half the plate. But then when my mum bought the same taquitos I didn't like them for the longest time. Now, I probably eat four of them everyday. They are just so good I can't get enough.

Hair: Radiant Red Shampoo and Conditioner by John Frieda
     As some of you know, in March I finally dyed my hair red. It's been something I've wanted to do for ages but didn't have the courage to do. I tell people that this is what nature intended to do (since my dad was a redhead) but failed to do. I also did it for obvious reasons, my Felicity Merriman cosplay. Anyways, I've used the Brilliant Brunette version of this shampoo and conditioner before and I loved it so I wasn't hesitant to buy the variation for redheads. I freaking love it! The shampoo smells like strawberries and it does a really good job of keeping the red color from fading. It's been almost three months since I dyed my hair and it still looks as radiant (no pun intended) as it did when I first colored it.
     The photo below was taken about a month after I dyed my hair red the first time. There is very minimal editing done in this picture (mainly just my skin) so you can fully see how radiantly red my hair still is.

Human: Hannah Elizabeth
     Hannah and I met on a Spoonie chat on Instagram. We both have so much in common. She's the Veronica Sawyer to my Heather Chandler. We've had so many Skype chats and she never fails to make me laugh my face off. We were no-so secretly chatting about someone named VS and the things we were texting back and fourth about this person where so beyond funny. Our minds run on the same frequency even though we live across the country from each other. We're sometimes thinking the same thing and say it at the same time. I am so blessed to have her in my life.

Makeup: Tarte Rainforest Under The Sea Foundation in Light Sand
     I am very loyal to my Tarte Amazonian Clay foundation but I decided to venture out and try a new foundation for the summer. I was very skeptical about this foundation but so far it's definitely lived up to it's hype. This foundation is a super pretty demi matte. It looks flawless, especially in photos and it barely wears off. The only problem I have with this foundation is that you have to use more of it to achieve the same effect and it doesn't make my skin look as fair as I would like it too.

Scent: Vanilla Blush and Peony by Grace Cole
     I am obsessed with this scent. It's such a light scent but at the same time fragrant enough to last all day. I use the shower gel, body creme and the spray. I definitely want to get the lotion, the bubble bath gel and the exfoliant next time I'm at Ulta. I am so obsessed with it and the best part is that each product is only $10.

Skincare: Origins Skincare
     A few weeks ago Origins contacted me and I was estatatic when I read that the company wanted to send me a product to review on my blog. They send me the full size of their new A Perfect World Age-Defense Eye Cream with SPF-20 and I absolutely love it. It smells really nice, it blends in really well and looks great under foundation. I also really love that it's SPF 20. I've tried a few SPF eye creams before but nothing has been as fantastic as this product.
     They also sent me a face brush which can only be bought in store and I love using it with the deluxe sample size of their Cheeks & Balances Frothy Face Wash they also sent me. The bristles of the brush are so soft but it also does a great job of exfoliating the skin and help waking up the lymphatic system. This face brush is definitely going to be a staple in my skincare routine now. I can also see myself using it to blend in and exfoliate my skin when I take of my exfoliating face mask.
     The last product they sent me was a deluxe sample size of their High Potency-Night-A-Mins Mineral- Enriched Renewal Night Cream. It is absolutely amazing. It's thick but a little definitely goes a long way and it smells like a lighter version of their Calm Your Senses Stress-Reliving Face Mask which has been discontinued.
     All in all  the products I was sent are absolutely amazing and I am so so thankful to Origins for sending me these products and for sponsoring this post. You have made my one of my blogger dreams come true.

Song: Break Free by Ariana Grande
     Last week I was hanging out with my friend Elizabeth Cole and she was playing this song constantly. I've personally never been a fan of Ariana Grande but I absolutely love this song. Even the lyrics don't make much sense such as the lyric "I only wanna die alive" (wtf) I still adore the song. For me, it's about breaking free from who I used to be and finally getting rid of the chains and shackles that were holding me back from who I want to be.

TV Show: 13 Reasons Why
     It's no surprise that this show is on my list of spring favorites. Everyone has been absolutely buzzing about this show since Netflix released it on March 31st.
I know I am a bit late to the game but I had school and theater to focus on at the time the show came out.
But now that school is out I binge watched it two days. I freaking loved this show. I loved how open and raw and real it was. There is nothing about this show that glorifies suicide. This show shows real life is the most real way possible.
     Yes, for someone who has been in Hannah Baker's shoes in terms of feelings (not experiences that led up to said feelings) this show was very triggering for me and I am still frazzled by it a bit even though I've only seen it once, and I saw it a few weeks ago.
     I am currently reading the book and trying to built up the courage to post on here my 13 Reasons Why/13 Reasons Why Not post that I shared on my Instagram and Facebook. I probably will sometime in June or July.

    So that concludes my post about my spring favorites. As always, please share this post if you liked it and leave a comment for me below what your spring faves are. Have a great week and I’ll catch you all next month!

Previous Post: Mental Health Disorders Explained | Mental Health Awareness Month
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Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Mental Health Disorders Explained | Mental Health Awareness Month

     Hello my pretties. Happy Mental Health Awareness Month! I hope you all are doing well. Even though school is out I am still crazy stressed out about next semester. There will be many changes made this coming semester but we don't need to discuss or worry about them until it's time.
     Anyways, today I thought I would talk about the top five most commonly diagnosed mental health disorders. I got the top five list from my therapist but all the information I will be talking about comes from my Abnormal Psychology textbook by Thomas F. Outmans and Robert E. Emery as well as excerpts from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5). This post will probably be one of my longer post so please bare with me. So let's begin.

     Before I begin, I just want to explain how I'm formatting this post. Under each disorder will be a description of what it is and just general information about it. I will also include diagnostic criteria and medication treatment for it. All these disorders should be treated by seeing a therapist as well.

1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Excessive anxiety (irrational fear) and worry are the two primary symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). To meet the criteria for this disorder the person must have:

A. Trouble controlling these worries and they must cause significant distress or impairment in occupational or social function.
B. The worry must occur more days than not for a period of at least six months and it must be present in a number of activities and events.
C. The worry must not be focused on having a panic attack (panic disorder), being embarrassed in public (social anxiety), or being contaminated (obsessive compulsive disorder).
D. Must have at least three of the of the six symptoms listed below.

Other symptoms according to the DSM-5 include:
1. restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge
2. being easily fatigued
3. difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
4. irritability
5. muscle tension
6. sleep disturbance

Treatments include:
A. Benzodiazepines such as Xanax (Alprazolam) or Klonopin (Clonalepam).
B. Antidepressant medications such as the SSRIs listed below.

2. Major Depressive Disorder 
It should be no surprise that Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is number two on this list. Major Depressive Disorder is characterized by at least one major depressive episode in the absence of any history of manic episodes. Most people with MDD make a full recovery but most cases follow and intermittent course with repeated episodes. In that case, a diagnosis of Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia) is made but for the sake of this post I am going to focus solely on MDD.

To meet the criteria for Major Depressive Disorder, you must have:

     A. Five (or more) of the following symptoms have been present during the same two week period.
You must have at least one of these symptoms (along with the other five or more), (a) depressed mood or (b) loss of interest or pleasure.

Other symptoms according to the DSM-5 include:
- Note: All of these must be indicated by a subjective report or noticed by others

     1. Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, (i.e. feeling sad, empty or hopeless).              
         - Note: In children or adolescence, can be irritable mood.
     2. Little to no interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
     3. Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (5% of body weight in a month) or decrease/increase in appetite nearly every day.
     - Note: In children consider failure or make expected weight gain.
     4. Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly everyday.
     5. Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day. 
     6. Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
     7. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt (may be delusional) nearly every day.
     8. Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day. 
     9. Recurrent thoughts of death (not fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a plan or suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide. 

B. Symptoms must cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning.
C. The episode is not attributable to the psychological effects of a substance or another medical condition.
D. The occurrence or the major depressive episode is not better explained by schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia, delusional disorder, or other specified/non-specified schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorder.
E. There has never been a manic episode or hypomanic episode.

Treatments include: 
a. Selective Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac (Fluoxetine) and Zoloft (Sertraline).
b. Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) such as Elavil (Amitriptyline) and Tofranil (Imipramine).

3. Bipolar Disorder Type II
Bipolar disorder is characterized by major depressive episodes as explained above as well as manic or hypomanic episodes. A hypomanic episode is characterized by episodes of increased energy that are not sufficiently severe enough to qualify as full-blown mania. People have at least one major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode would be given a diagnosis of Bipolar Type II, which is more common than Bipolar Type I.

To meet the criteria for Bipolar Disorder Type II, you must have three of the seven symptoms (listed below) for a manic disorder and must be present for only three-four days (versus seven days for a full-blown manic episode).

A. A distinct period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive or irritable mood and abnormally persistently increased goal-directed activity or energy, lasting seven days and present most of the days, nearly every day.
B. During the period of mood disturbance and increased energy or activity, three (or more) of the following symptoms (four if the mood is irritable) are present to a significant degree and represent a noticeable change from usual behavior.

Other symptoms according to the DSM-5 include:
    1. Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity.
    2. Decreased need for sleep (feels rested after only three hours of sleep).
    3. More talkative than usual or pressure to keep talking.
    4. Flight of ideas or subjective experience that thoughts are acting.
    5. Distractibility (attention too easily drawn to unimportant or irrelevant external stimuli).
    6. Increase in goal-directives activity either socially, at work, school or sexually, or psychomotor agitation. (purposelessness nongoal-directed activity).
    7. Excessive involvement in activities that have a high potential or painful consequences (unrestrained shopping sprees, sexual indiscretions or foolish business investments).

C. The mood disturbance is sufficiently severe to cause marked impairment in social or occupational functioning or to necessitate hospitalization to prevent harm to self or others or there are psychotic features.
D. The episode is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (drug abuse, a medication, other treatment) or to another medical condition.

Treatments include:
a. Lithium is said to be extremely helpful for people with bipolar disorder especially if they take it during a depressive disorder and if they take it between episodes it can help reduce the risk for a relapse.
b. Antipsychotic medications such as Abilify (Aripiprazole) as well as the antidepressant medications mentioned earlier.

4. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) obviously follows a trauma such as rape, military combat, bombings, airplane crashes, car crashes, earthquakes, and major fires. PTSD has a delayed onset and lasts longer than one month. (If the stress of a trauma occurs within a month post exposure to said trauma it is called Acute Stress Disorder). Both ASD and PSTD have the same symptoms but the duration is what differs ASD from PTSD.

To meet the criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder you must have only four of the five symptoms.

A. Exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury or sexual violence in one (or more) of the following ways:
    1. Directly experiencing the traumatic event(s).
    2. Witnessing, in person, the event(s), as it occurs to others.
    3. Learning that the traumatic events :s) occurred to a close family member or close friend. In cases of actual or threatened death of a family member or friend, the event(s) must have been violent or accidental.
    4. Experiencing repeated or extreme exposure to averse details of the traumatic event(s) such as first responders picking up human remains, police officer repeatedly exposed to details of child abuse etc...
    - Note: Criterion A4 does not apply to exposure via electronic media, TV, movies or pictures unless this exposure is work related.

Other symptoms according to the DSM-5 are:
    1. Recurrent, involuntary and intruding distressing memories or the traumatic event(s).
    - Note: In children 6 years and older, receptive play may occur in which themes or aspects of the traumatic event(s) are expressed such as a child playing the "vagina game" with a toy doll turned out to be a victim of child abuse.
    2. Recurrent distressing dreams in which the content and/pr affect of the dream are related to the traumatic event(s).
    - Note: In children, there many be frightening dreams without recognizable content.
    3. Dissociative reactions such as flashbacks, in which the individual feels or acts as if the traumatic event(s) were recurring. Such reactions may occur on a continuum, with the most extreme expression being a complete loss of awards of present surroundings).
     - Note: In children, trauma-specific reenactment may occur in play.
    4. Intense or prolonged psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event(s).
5. Marked physiological reactions to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event(s).

C. Persistent avoidance os stimuli associated with the traumatic event(s) beginning after the traumatic event(s) occurred as evidenced by one or both of the following.
    1. Avoidance of or efforts to avoid distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings about or closely associated with the traumatic event(s).
    2. Avoidance of or efforts to avoid external reminders such as people, places, conversations, activities, objects, situations etc...that arouse distressing memories, thoughts or feelings about or slowly associated with the traumatic event(s).

D. Negative alterations in cognitions and mood associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning or worsening after the traumatic event(s) occurred, as evidenced by two (or more) of the following:
    1. Inability to remember important aspects of the traumatic event(s) typically due to dissociative amnesia and not to other factors such as head injury, alcohol or drugs.
    2. Persistent and exaggerated negative beliefs or expectations about oneself, others or the world such as, "I am bad." "Anyone can betray anyone." "The world is completely dangerous." "My whole nervous system is permanently ruined."
    3. Persistent distorted cognitions about the cause or consequences of the traumatic event(s) that lead the individual to blame himself/herself or others.
    4. Persistent negative emotional state such as always being fearful, angry, horrified, guilty or shameful.
    5. Markedly diminished interest or participation in significant actives.
    6. Feelings of detachment or estrangement from others.
    7. Persistent inability to experience positive emotions such as happiness, satisfaction or loving feelings.

E. Marked alterations in arousal and reactivity associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning or worsening after the traumatic event(s) occurred, as evidenced by two (or more) of the following:
    1. Irritable behavior or angry outburst with little or not provocation, typically expressed as verbal or physical aggression towards people or objects.
    2. Recklessness or self-destructive behavior,
    3. Hypervigilance.
    4. Exaggerated startle response.
    5. Problems with concentration.
    6. Sleep disturbances such as trouble falling or staying asleep or restless sleep.

F. Duration of the disturbance (criteria B, C, D, and E) is more than one month,

G. The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

H. The disturbance is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance such as medication, alcohol or another medical condition.

Treatments include:
a. SSRI medications are the main source of treatment for people with PTSD.
b. Antianxiety medications are not effective for PTSD.

5. Substance Abuse
Substance abuse can come in many forms but the main forms are drugs (either prescription or illegal) and alcohol. This disorder is probably one of the most common cases of death, especially for celebrities such as Heath Ledger, Cory Monteith, Prince, Judy Garland, Michael Jackson just to name a few.

To meet the criteria for Substance abuse you must have:

A. A problematic patter ot alcohol or drug use leading to a clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by at least two of the following, occurring within a twelve month period.

Other symptoms according to the DSM-5 are:
    1. Alcohol or drugs are often taken in a larger amount or over a long period than was intended.
    2. There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful effort to cut down or control alcohol or drug use.
    3. A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain alcohol or drugs, use alcohol or drugs, or recover from its effects.
    4. Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use alcohol or drugs.
    5. Recurrent alcohol or drug use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school or home.
    6. Continued alcohol or drug use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems cause or exerted by the effects of alcohol or drugs.
    7. Important social, occupational to recreational activités are given up or reduced because of alcohol or drug use.
    8. Recurrent alcohol or drug use in situations in which is is physically hazardous.
    9. Alcohol or drug use is continued despite having knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by alcohol or drugs.
    10. Tolerance, as defined by either of the following.
        a. A need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or desired effect.
        b. A markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of alcohol or drugs.
    11. Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following:
        a. The characteristics withdrawal syndrome for alcohol or drug are present.
        b. Alcohol or drugs (or a closely related substance) is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Treatments include:
a. Going to a rehab facility.
b. There are no medications to treat alcohol or drug abuse.

    So that concludes my post about the top five most commonly diagnosed mental health disorders. As always, please share this post if you liked it and leave a comment for me below if you would like me to do a post on a particular topic pertaining to mental health. Have a great week and I’ll catch you all in my next post!

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Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Ballet Series: Perfecting Piques

     Hello everyone. Today's topic was suggested to be by an IG/Twitter follower of mine. She's been having trouble with pique turns lately and I'm sure she's not the only one. So here is a post about how to perfect your pique turns. I hope this helps Tara.

The Nuts and Bolts
    Whether you’re new to ballet or you’ve been studying for years, it never hurts to break piqué turns down into their basic components. Doing so will make you conscious of maintaining correct technique and placement every step of the way.

    First of all, Larissa Ponomarenko, who is the ballet mistress at Boston Ballet, suggests starting in a good plié with your body weight over the supporting leg, so the push onto demi-pointe or pointe is well controlled. “Your hips should travel from the supporting leg over to the working leg in one smooth movement,” she says. “And the piqué should happen on a straight leg. If you’re going to the right, the right heel and the top of the right leg lead the turn.” The arm, shoulder, side of your rib cage and hip should stay in line with each other, helping to bring your body around. (If you're turning to the right, the left side of your body should be in a line and vice versa). As you reach the halfway point of the turn, keep your shoulders down and neck relaxed as you spot your head. At this point your arms should arrive in a neat first position. Your working foot should stay attached to the standing leg just above the back of the knee. During the last quarter of the turn, the working foot should remain attached to the standing leg for as long as possible as it slides down toward the floor.
        "When working on pique turns, my dance teacher would always tell us that our legs are working in opposition. Your standing leg should be pushing down into the floor and that your working leg is pulling up in a nice, high passe."says Elizabeth Cole, a dancer with the Northwest School for Ballet.

Common Problems and how to fix them
      The most common problems with piqué turns can be easily fixed, with some extra attention. If you tend to piqué onto a bent knee, or let it relax during the transition between turns, try thinking of having a “peg leg”—one that never bends, and a foot that never stops pointing when you’re on pointe. “If you’re hyper-extended, it’s a bit more difficult to get over your leg when it’s truly straight,” says Frances Chung, principal at San Francisco Ballet. “You have to really step out and use your back foot to plié and push yourself over your standing leg as far as possible.” 
    Do you lift your hip as you bring your foot into retiré? Make sure your knee doesn’t rise higher than the crease of your hip. “You want a high retiré without compromising your hip placement and throwing off your balance. I try to relax my hip as much as possible and draw just my toe up.” Chung adds.
    If you have trouble spotting and tend to get dizzy, make sure you have a clear object to focus on each time you bring your head around, and think about fully relaxing your neck. “Imagine you’re disconnecting your head from your body,” says Callie Manning, principal soloist at Miami City Ballet. “Think of your head as one thing and your body as something else, instead of them all going together to the same place.” 
        "When I'm doing pique turns I like to have someone to spot. If no one is with me, I'll tape up a picture of a celebrity or someone, so I can spot that. It really does help during practices but not so much when I'm rehearsing for a ballet or performance. Having that picture there, does help train your head to whip around really fast." adds Elizabeth.

Taking It to the Next Level
    Once you’ve mastered basic piqué turns, you can add a greater degree of difficulty by throwing in some doubles and varying your arms, direction or speed. “When I do a double, I bring my foot to retiré as soon as possible to make sure I can fit both turns in time with the music, and I spot twice in a clear rhythm,” says Chung. Manning thinks of not stepping too far out when she does a double piqué turn. “You have to almost stop your forward momentum or else you’ll start falling out of the second turn,” she says. To piqué very fast, Manning lowers her leg into a coupé position, rather than retiré, and keeps her arms out to the side—both of which save time in a quick string of turns. She also thinks of darting rapidly onto pointe.
    You can change up your port de bras, too. When Chung does a string of piqué turns, she’ll keep her arms in demi-seconde for the singles and then snap them into first position for the doubles to add a little visual interest. You can also try turning with your hands on your hips, which might remind you to keep your hips down, too, or your arms in fourth position. Usually dancers lift the right arm (if they’re turning to the right) because it helps pull up the supporting side.
        "I find that when I'm doing more than one revolution during pique turns, I like my arms in fourth crossed. For me it's easier to turn faster. And it looks cool." adds Elizabeth.

     So that concludes my post about arabesques. As always, please share this post if you liked it and leave a comment for me below if you would like me to do a post on a particular topic. Have a great week and I’ll catch you all in my next post!

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