Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Awesome friends

I enjoy Facebook because I have awesome friends that leave notes of encouragement, delightful pictures, and funny memes.  This one really hit home tonight.

When people are not able to communicate and connect with you in the way you need to, it makes you feel uncared for. And it’s so hard not to internalize that silence as a reflection on your worth. But the truth is that the way other people operate is not about you. Most people are so caught up in their own responsibilities, struggles, and anxiety that the thought of asking someone else how they’re doing doesn't even cross their mind. They aren't inherently bad or uncaring — they’re just busy and self-focused. And that’s okay. It’s not evidence of some fundamental failing on your part. It doesn't make you unlovable or invisible. It just means that those people aren't very good at looking beyond their own world. But the fact that you are — that despite the darkness you feel, you have the ability to share your love and light with others — is a strength. Your work isn't to change who you are; it’s to find people who are able to give you the connection you need. Because despite what you feel, you are not too much. You are not too sensitive or too needy. You are thoughtful and empathetic. You are compassionate and kind.

This also goes for people around me.  Sometimes when I am quiet, not communicating, and unable to connect, it is not about those around me, it is me.  I am the one retreating into my Dark Cave to try and sort out scattered and fragmented thoughts.   

I am working on the questions posted by another blogger's daughter.  Those questions are getting me to dig deep into how PTSD affects my relationship with my family.  I am pondering over these questions in a way that I have not done for quite sometime.  I am thankful that thanks to KavinCoach I am contemplating a choice between two good counselors.  Nice position to be in.  I am feeling deep gratitude for family, friends, and counselors that make my life much richer and happier place to be.  Thank you readers for sharing this journey.  

Resting for a moment

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Do you find it difficult to talk to me about your mental health, and if so why?

This is a series of post answering questions posed by Kevin's daughter.  I asked permission to answer each of these questions as if I was answering my adult children.  I will also include a link to Kevin's answer. (I don't read his blog until after I write mine.)

11.  Do you find it difficult to talk to me about your mental health, and if so why?

I chose to be open about my mental health when I started this blog four years ago.  I learned here to share about my life long battle with PTSD.  I find it difficult to talk about PTSD with anyone that is showing signs of disbelief or disapproval of my behavior.  I read body language very well.  I need encouragement from anyone to continue.  The reason is not all my children or everyone I meet feels comfortable talking about my mental illness.  My first counselor cautioned me to stay quiet about counseling.  I didn't understand why until a couple of friendships ended because of my talking about counseling.  They didn't want to hear about it and considered me a not safe person.  Unfortunately, mental illness is not acceptable to some people.  I learned to be sensitive to their needs.  I won't deny my truth but I don't always share it.  I don't believe it is a taboo subject, but I do believe that the other person has the right to decide how much they want to know.  I guess that is why I like blogging.  Those that are interested keep reading.  Those that are not, can go some place else on the internet.  PTSD does effect my relationships but doesn't define who I am. 

Sometimes when protecting myself I feel locked inside my armor. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Experience Mental health condition

  This is a series of post answering questions posed by Kevin's daughter.  I asked permission to answer each of these questions as if I was answering my adult children.  I will also include a link to Kevin's answer. (I don't read his blog until after I write mine.)

10. If you had to choose just one of your mental health conditions which I would experience for a day. Which one would you choose, and why?

My counselor once offered to help one of my children understand my reality; I begged him not to.  I worked so hard for them not to experience what happened to me.  However, if I knew it was for only one day and then it would be over, I thought that perhaps the one thing that I would want to have them experience is the complete and total feeling of helplessness that I feel when my body collapses without my permission. I would choose this feeling because it is so hard to explain to someone that feels confident and able to deal with life's challenges.  I would not want this to justify my behavior but would hope that they would understand how difficult change is when you feel so helpless.  I think there is real opportunity to understand one another when you have felt what they have felt.

I appreciate the compassion my family of choice shows to me.  I appreciate their willingness to help out without understanding why I need help.  I appreciate the extra miles each one traveled while growing up.  I am thankful that my mental illness has not shown up in any of their lives. Occasionally, I wish they could truly understand.  However, I suspect my husband and children wished that I could understand their frustration and challenges of living with me.  My sometimes unexplainable withdrawal, extreme reactions, and other manifestations of PTSD.   I believe this is the miracle of Jesus Christ.  He does understand exactly how I feel and how they feel.   In Gethsemane, Christ suffered our suffering; He felt what we felt. He is the only one that truly understands perfectly how each one of us feels.

I don't want to cop out on this question.  But the bottom line of some of my frustration is knowing that what I am feeling is not just for a day.  A life time of struggles that I measure progress in years not in weeks and months.  But I also believe that each of my children have their own challenges that they probably wished I could experience for a day that I might understand them.  I use art to explore my feelings.  Occasionally, I hit on something that clicks for those around me.  I remember the day I was working on a mix media piece that I planned to take to my next counseling session.  My son looked over my shoulder and exclaimed, "Hey Mom, that is how you think."  He didn't need an explanation.  Sometimes my children understand more than I do.

How I think and my son knew it. 

How I feel sometimes.


Sunday, September 28, 2014


Occasionally when I am writing posts I stumble on my own hot button.  I don't realize how strongly I feel about something until I start writing and the words spill out.  Then I think about what I wrote and more and more stuff tumbles around in my head.  I feel so overwhelmed by information and it takes a while to get everything sorted out to my satisfaction or I decide to write more to see if writing it makes the words stop swirling around. 

Accountability is big issue to me.  I realize that part of this problem was many of the incidences with my mother where she said or did cruel things she looked around to make sure we were alone.  If I complained my reality was denied.  She functioned using denial as a weapon.  If I tried to hold her accountable for her behavior several things would happen.  She usually tried to deny it first.  Then she claimed I misunderstood her or she is a New Yorker and they just speak more bluntly.  Or she played the pity-me-poor-me card and claimed I didn't understand since her problems were worse than mine.  The classic was the day she told me I didn't understand what it was like to not hear.  I have worn hearing aides for over 10 years.  Wow.  Even my Dad shook his head over that one.  My mother refuses to be accountable for her behavior.  It is a sore spot for me. 

I understand the need for mercy and second chances.  I want them myself.  I feel it is important part of living.  Everyone makes mistakes.  Life would be very painful without mercy.  However, no accountability is not helpful either.  Part of a truth campaign is accountability for ones actions.  Refusing to take responsibility for ones owns actions leads to chaos in personal life and relationships.  Without accountability no one says, "I'm sorry."  Without accountability there is no opportunity to repent.  (I call repentance a great gift from God, His recipe for change.)  Without accountability bankruptcy becomes an easy out for careless spending.  I get that emergencies or medical bills can put a person in financial ruin and bankruptcy may occur but spending irresponsibly then writing it off without accountability is white collar stealing.  Mercy and second chances are essential and accountability helps track changes in behavior.     

Accountability is used at schools, weight loss programs, businesses, anywhere that change is implemented.  I work at schools that students are held accountable if they cut classes.  They are required to have every teacher sign a daily attendance sheet then have their parents sign it.  The student is held accountable to their parents and the school.  This program greatly reduced the number of students ditching classes.  Weight loss programs show that having a person to be accountable to someone else improves a persons chance of losing weight.  My counselors held me responsible for my behavior and had me check in with them on my progress.  In the repentance process, first a person must recognize they did something wrong then they are to confess their sins.  They are held accountable for their mistakes.  Without accountability, a truth campaign is almost useless. 

If I could give one tip for people - it's not an exercise or nutrition regimen. It's to walk your talk and believe in yourself, because at the end of the day, the dumbbell and diet don't get you in shape. It's your accountability to your word.

Maybe you're not perfect, but you're willing to actually look at yourself and take some kind of accountability. That's a change. It might not mean that you can turn everything around, but I think there's something incredibly hopeful about that.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Tell me one thing that I do which makes your mental health worse?

  This is a series of post answering questions posed by Kevin's daughter.  I asked permission to answer each of these questions as if I was answering my adult children.  I will also include a link to Kevin's answer. (I don't read his blog until after I write mine.)

9. Tell me one thing that I do which makes your mental health worse?

Again like yesterday, my mental health is my responsibility.   I've thought over this and reconsidered and rewritten this answer 50 times.  I finally decided that the thing that would make my life worse is if I am not held accountable for my behavior.  I watched the destructiveness of "I feel sorry for her so I won't say anything about her bad behavior, that is just the way she is."  Several destructive things happen, I don't have an opportunity to change my behavior, you will feel more and more resentment, and I am on a truth campaign.  I want to know the truth about my life.  I want to improve my behavior.   I know it is hard to comprehend that I don't always know what I am doing.  Holding me accountable gives me an opportunity to do things differently.   I want to know if I said something unkind or careless.  I want to be aware of how I come across to someone else.  I won't be able to mentally process some things that you take for granted.  Feeling emotions is still fairly new to me.  I admit that a big part of my truth campaign is to search out and find ways to improve my interactions with those that I love and anyone else that encounters me.  I want a second chance to be a better person.  I don't want to be shunted aside with "She's crazy, she can't do any better." Yes I have mental illness, yes it sucks, yes it interferes with my life, yes the symptoms can get worse, but I feel much worse if I hurt those I love and don't realize it because nobody told me.  Please, give me a second chance, I won't waste it.  I know that you are so patient with me.  I spent years not knowing what I was fighting.  All of you kids suffered consequences of me handling my problems badly.  I am learning from counselors, articles, blogs, books, and other sources what challenges I have. Give me a chance to be the parent I want to be as often as possible.  I know I'll mess up.  I know I will need to apologize.  However, I don't believe saying, "I have PTSD" is a get out of jail free card.  Saying, "I have PTSD" means I need to work harder to overcome what is weighing me down.  I am going back into counseling because PTSD is getting the upper hand.  I need more tools and strategies to be the person I want to be.  PTSD does not define me.  PTSD is a challenge in my life but the me I want you to know is the warming loving person that thinks it a miracle that you are in my life.