Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hard to write

I find it hard to write an up beat post about overcoming depression when I watch myself slide deeper and deeper back into depression.  I love Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, unfortunately 'tis' the season' for deepening depression.  It is called seasonal depression and I know I am not the only one that feels it.  My new counselor helped yesterday as I discussed problems at work and at home.  I wish I could work things out myself.  However, I don't seem to be able to do that.  Once that slippery darkness starts creeping in I struggle more and more to think logically of healthy solutions.  I did realize in talking about what I am concerned about that I do know some helps.  I am not without resources.  I do have a fairly clear understanding of where my struggles lay.  I did work out why things at school got to me so quickly.  I was able to practice strategies to correct an issue with the students.  Pin pointed where I need to set appropriate boundaries.  Worked out a plan of action that will hopefully build an atmosphere of positive encouragement.  The counselor suggested several more things I hadn't thought of plus gave me word phrases that were more positive.  I am going into the toughest time of the year knowing it is going to get worse.  I love all the activities but I wish we could spread them out over more months than two.  My daughter pointed out that she has a major activity every single Saturday for the next month.  My schedule is filling rapidly.  I am starting to find a new groove at school but feel sad that I now dread going to work.  The beginning of the school year I was early almost everyday.  Now, I can barely convince myself to get out the door and stay less than 10 minutes late.  Such a disappointment, the year started out so well with just the right amount of challenge.  Now I am constantly overwhelmed and more discouraged everyday.  Breathe.  In - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - Out - 1- 2 - 3 - 4.  Yup.  Breathing is good. One of the biggies my counselor talked to me about is lowering my standards for myself.  Don't put so much pressure on myself.  We planned out mini mental vacations.  She also suggested I take regular breaks before I hit melt down stage.  Planned breaks.  We also talked about accepting others where they are at.  I want to be accepted and I need to be willing to extend what I hope for. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What are some of the things that you do which affect your mental health badly?

  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.)

21. What are some of the things that you do which affect your mental health badly?

My first reaction to this question is which comes first the chicken or the egg?  Insomnia wrecks havoc on my thinking and mental health.  Unfortunately, insomnia is a symptom of PTSD.  Stress wrecks havoc on mental health....but that is true for most people.  Saying yes to too many projects.  Again this is a problem with poor boundaries so it is hard for me to sort out which are symptoms of PTSD and which are things I do to make things worse.  Chocolate and binge eating certainly makes things worse but eating chocolate also helps me feel better, temporarily.  Heavy sigh.

I truly believe that every person with mental health issues or not have a variety of habits that create a negative impact on our lives.  That is why each year, New Year's resolutions are set to stop bad habits that make living more difficult.  I chose to set goals rather than New Year resolutions since I hate the sound of breaking them on January 2nd.  Goals are something that I can reset and keep moving toward even in baby steps or crawling.  Life is tough enough without making things harder on myself but that doesn't stop me from doing things that slow my progress.  I used to think change would happen in weeks.  Now, I accept the glacier concept of thing changing in years.  

I posted this, went to bed, got back up to add one piece.  The worse thing I did was denied that I had a problem.  Denial kept me from finding healthy solutions, counseling, and accepting the challenge life gave to me.  Accepting I had mental health problems was the first step to finding healthier solutions. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Quick stress reducers

If I got a penny for how many times I was told, “If you would just relax you would feel better” I wouldn’t need to work for a year.  Yes I would love to relax, tell me how….

Huffington Post shared an interesting article:

13 Ways To Beat Stress In 15 Minutes Or Less

Wake up earlier……well in my opinion if I could go to sleep this would be a piece of cake.  However, insomnia is part of PTSD.  I did learn that an extra 15 to 20 minutes in the morning gives me a ‘cushion time’ to adjust to being up.  I would put this one as somewhat helpful.

Create a soothing space.……..first I need to acknowledge that my space is mine to change.  This can be tough to recognize.  Learning what you believe is soothing takes time.  What may be soothing to one person is often jarring to someone else.  Believing you have control over your space is a huge step.  I think is very helpful if I can wrap my mind the possibility of changing my space.  This is a work in progress.

Clean out your junk drawers.……….my chuckle has an edge of hysteria to it.  I stash stuff in drunk drawers in the first place because I don’t know what to do with the junk.  This one is an epic fail for me.  However, I do know people that find cleaning out their junk drawers soothing as the organize.  Unfortunately, I am not one of those people.

Visualize your stressful thoughts.……visualization is used in a variety of ways.  I believe I could write several posts on this one subject.  One of my favorite visualizations is a “Trouble Tree.”

Watch cat videos.……humor is a huge stress reliever…I read an entire book, Norman Cousins Anatomy of an Illness.  I still remember parts of this after reading it years ago. 

Sing your heart out.… therapy works.  I was first introduced to this at the university where I worked.  There is a bachelors degree in music therapy.  I still like humming tunes when I work on computers.

Start a scrapbook.…..Yahoo scrapbook enthusiast documentation that this is therapeutic.  I use photography.  I suspect any creative endeavor has similar benefits.

Pick up a physical hobby.……yea the article agrees that not everyone is into scrapbooking so something that has tactile and hands on hobby will do…..HO trains, dollhouse construction, crocheting, needlepoint, any hobby that requires personal involvement…..brainwashed by TV does not count in my opinion.

Clench your muscles (then release)…….I first learned this in yoga.  This is right at the top of my list of quick mini relaxation.  Stretching and twisting also help out.

Take deep breaths.……….Feeling blue, breathe.  Really it works.  This is right up there with the clench muscle one that settles the body.  Yoga is great at teaching deep breathing, cleansing breath and other breathing techniques to relax my body.

Write mental thank you notes.……….another awesome post I could write on the emotional benefits of gratitude.  Take it a step further and actually write thank you notes to someone that made a difference in your life.

Feel your pressure points.…….Reflexology and massage are both excellent for the body.  Get to know your own pressure points and which ones relieve the most tension for you.  Information on pressure points is easy to look up these days.  Further down this road, I have friend that love acupuncture and felt benefits from this method of tension relief.

Smell the roses.………actually get your nose in a rose.  Ever heard of aromatherapy? Cool stuff.  I’ve used this for years. I keep several different essential oils on hand all the time.  They do help.
There you have a starting point for beating stress.  Most of these take very little time to do with big benefits.

Someday computers will add scratch and sniff. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Knots Prayer

~ The Knots Prayer
Dear God:
Please untie the knots
that are in my mind,
my heart and my life.
Remove the 'have nots,'
the 'can nots' and the 'do nots'
that I have in my mind.

Erase the 'will nots','
may nots', 'might nots'
that may find a home in my heart.
Release me from the 'could nots,'
'would nots' and 'should not'
that obstruct my life.
And most of all,
I ask that You remove from my mind,
my heart and my life all of the 'am nots'
that I have allowed to hold me back,
especially the thought that I am not good enough.
I pray this in the name of Jesus, Amen
*God bless and keep sharing the Good News !!! ~ C4C

Saturday, October 25, 2014


I get emails from Vic Magary. I learned about his website from Joel of Impossible challenges  I appreciate Vic's encouragement and ideas on better health.  I am not a Paleo dieter but his ideas are helpful.  Yes, I am working on increasing my vegetable intake.  I hadn't realized that I don't really like vegetables but he gives suggestions on eating them that makes it easier to enjoy adding more to my diet.  He also shares what he learns about living.  Yesterdays article in his news letter led me to learn a new word - Sisu.

 James defined the word in his article:

This article talked about something that my counselor pointed out that I have in abundance.  In fact I believe all survivors have varying levels.  It is why we are survivors and not victims with obituaries.

Failure is an Event, Not an Identity

Abuser try to convince their targets that they are failures and will amount to nothing.  Survivors stand up on unsteady feet and move forward anyway.  Some where in a survivors soul they decide that they are not what their abuser tells them they are.  Against all odds....yup that is what survivors do.  They survive against all odds. 

Martin Luther King shared a similar idea:
“If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” ― Martin Luther King Jr. 
One of the teachers I work with at school shared this with her students.  My comment, "If you fall flat on your face, you are still moving forward."  

Kent Keith may have written but Mother Teresa lived it.

Mother Teresa's Anyway Poem

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.
[Reportedly inscribed on the wall of Mother Teresa's children's home in Calcutta, and attributed to her. However, an article in the New York Times has since reported (March 8, 2002) that the original version of this poem was written by Kent M. Keith.]

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I sometimes hear others putting labels on you. How does that make you feel?

  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.)

20.  I sometimes hear others putting labels on you. How does that make you feel?

For me, having a label or a name for my shadow warrior that could destroy me at will, it was a relief.  I had something I could research.  I could find suggestions that apply to my life and improve my living conditions.  However, there is a part two to this issue that blasted on the news this week.  A horrible shooting by a man that killed out of his own choices and headlines are screaming....."He must be mentally ill."  NOT every crook, criminal, cruel abuser, or jerk is mentally ill.  Or push the issue the other way and almost every person will fit a mental illness.  The issue I see with this question is the lumping everyone together.  I would not intentionally hurt another person - ever.  From these shooting sprees come a knee jerk out cry to track "all mentally ill people" so we know where the crazies are.  Mentally ill people have enough problems without using labels to ostracize, blame, or prejudice against individuals that already been through too much.  It also gets more confusing when they use PTSD label to mean I get one certain treatment because it works for someone else with PTSD.  Medical doctors don't treat all sick people with the same treatment.  Mentally ill shouldn't have all the same treatment either.  The danger of labels is how they are used and by whom.  I still remember the day a neighbor found out I was in counseling.  She made the comment, "Well, at least you are not one of those weird multiples."  The stunned look on her face after I said, "Actually, I am," was comical.  Only I didn't feel like laughing.  Labels used to hurt have a negative impact if it is about my race, religion, body, or mental health.  Derogatory names, belittling, and other ways to isolate and exclude a person hurt.  Knowing that I have PTSD and there is something I can do to help relieve many of the symptoms is wonderful to know.  Being told I need to be tracked because I have mental illness and I am treated like a criminal but I've done nothing wrong sucks.  It is all how the label is used. 

Research into Pain

Not many people take the time to research pain.  I did.  I lived without it for about a third of my living.  I dissociated so completely that I could stop pain.  I didn't feel it.  I didn't feel anything else either.  Did you know that it is dangerous to live without pain?  One of the problems with leprosy is the victim loses feeling from their extremities.  The people studying the disease realized that lepers couldn't feel a rat chewing off their fingers or toes at night.  Without pain, they would hurt themselves severely without pulling back from the source of pain.  I still hurt myself because I don't realize how much damage I am doing at the time.  Pain reminds us, we are human and have limitations.  The threat of pain can be a deterrent to doing things like jumping off of buildings or cliffs.  We may override that fear.  A runner pushing past the fear to finish a race.  A gymnast running on a broken foot to finish a competition.

Olympians are hailed as heroes when they push through their pain.  Abuse victims are viewed as pathetic losers for staying in their painful situations.  Here's the strangeness.  I didn't know anything different.  I didn't know my life was anything but pain.  One of the conversations that visibly shook my counselor was the day he was trying to convince me to tolerate discomfort to move past the hard parts.  I looked at him puzzled. I responded bluntly, "I can take pain.  There is nothing new in that.  It is living without it that is difficult to understand."  Without pain demanding all my attention, I paid attention to other stuff life threw at me; loneliness in a crowd, regret, feeling guilty, and a whole host of other feelings.  Pain rules life like a two year old having a temper tantrum.  When pain subsides, I have to pay attention to the quieter emotions and events.  Life is tough.  Pain is a warning sign, a deterrent, a task master, a friend.  Stop the pain and extensive damage may occur. Tomorrow is another day.  Good night. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What parts of your mental health do you think I would like to change, and 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.)

19. What parts of your mental health do you think I would like to change, and why?

Again I feel this is a question with in a question.   Do you see me or my mental illness?  Is the real question, what part of my personality as a parent would you like to change and why? Or maybe I am questioning myself am I separate from my mental illness?  Or maybe I am trying to avoid the blunt but not too pleasant realization that I am not sure how my kids see my mental illness.  I don't know what my kids would like changed about me.  I know the gaps in memory are a real pain for them when I agree to do something then can't remember to do it.  I can only watch and listen to the feedback I get.  I do notice that the subject of PTSD is almost never discussed.  I write about it on my blog a lot but home conversations don't feature how you feel about my struggles with PTSD.   I do know that many of you reassure me that I am doing better than I think I am.  Occasionally one of you will have an open conversation about this but mostly I don't know.  Why I don't know?  Maybe I am afraid to broach the subject because things seem to be going fairly well and subconsciously I don't want to make waves.  The most consistent feedback I get is some of you wish I could handle big events a bit better.  Weddings, Thanksgiving, Christmas all are fraught with land minds that are impossible for me to avoid all of them so at some point I shut down.  Hard to have an event when the main coordinator disappears on a walk or unnecessary shopping.  So in my writing this, I think you would like me to change the part of PTSD that makes me seem undependable.  I am not solid as a rock.  I am not a port in the storm.  I am not a safe haven when things fall apart.  I tend to get more distant and less emotionally responsive when being closer and sharing emotions are important.  Or maybe this is something I wish I could change.  Sorry this is a very convoluted answer to what seems to be a straight forward question.  I think the best answer is "I don't know."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Today I am feeling pain.  It is like my emotions drag my body down and then I am feeling pain.  Pain has advantages.  Yup....that's what I said, in more than one.  Pain tells me I am alive.  I may feel sucky but I am alive.  Second, bodily pain makes it hard to feel emotional pain.  My entire attention is focused on what my body is feeling.  Emotional pain takes a back seat.  Pain tells me something is not right.  This time I know what I did.  My body was a little achy after working out.  More achy after working out again.  And screaming at me for gardening. (My tomato plant is in its new pot.  Most of my flowers are planted too.)  It takes several hits before pain sets in.  I don't stop the pain.  I let it be there.  Pain keeps me from doing more things that would damage my body further.  Pain becomes its own entity.  I am learning that if I am careful I can take pain medication.  As long as I remind myself not to act as if nothing is wrong.  I am waiting for the pain medication to kick in.  I am feeling more and more relief.  Years ago when I was numb all the time, pain was a relief from the monotony of nothingness.  Now, it is a distraction from inner turmoil.  I hurt too much to worry about other things.  I don't spar at karate.  They assume I don't want to get hurt.  Well in a way they are right.  I focus on a battle and all common sense and healthy survival extincts submerge.  What does emerge is a fierceness that minor things like pulled muscles, bruising and even broken bones will be ignored.  I know how unhealthy my behavior is.  I don't need to guess on this one.  I allow the pain but I learned that to sleep I need to stop the pain and let my body relax.  It is in sleep that the body repairs itself if I give it a chance.  I'll slow down a bit.  I'm distracted by the pain.  That is a good thing today.  Today there were things I didn't want to think about and the pain in my muscles distracted me from everything else.  Nothing else mattered accept the pain.  I also remind myself that for some people, all day everyday is a battle with pain.  I get it occasionally.  I lot of medication is sold to stop pain.  I can see why.  After a while it gets old.  Can't think about anything else.  Tomorrow will be a better day.  I do like the Navy seals saying, "the only easy day was yesterday."

To me you are just my Mom, but how do you think others see you?

I took a break for a while from these questions.  I am pondering on my reaction and where I am in my healing process and how much I accept won't/can't change.  (My past can't change.  My parents won't change.)

  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.)

18. To me you are just my Dad Mom, but how do you think others see you?
(The original question is for Kevin so I am changing the Dad to Mom for me.)

Interesting thing about mental illness is you don't look sick.  Symptoms are chalked up to eccentricities or moods or bad days.  High functioning mental illness can go almost completely unnoticed by other people.  I had people totally disbelieve me when I say I have PTSD.  Emotional, mental and spiritual abuse doesn't leave physical marks that I could point to and say, "See this is where I am hurt."  I call mental illness a private hell for most people.  As mental illness becomes more and more disruptive in my life, it can be noticeable, but I learned to deflect questions, phrase what I say to mask the real struggle, and yes I used to out right lie to cover up.  It was a habit.  I worked hard to break the habit.  In junior high, other students were far more blunt and wrote in my annual, "to the nut."  That is when I learned to hide how I react to things.  I emotionally went into hiding.  It worked.  Most people just want everything to be fine so really don't notice what I am doing unless in interferes with what they are doing.  I am really quite relieved that mostly I'm not noticed at all.  I do know that my first counselor calls me hard working and courageous.  I don't see myself that way so in an interesting way this question becomes about how I see myself.  I'm not really sure if I've answered the question.  But these are my thoughts on this question.   

Monday, October 20, 2014

I'm sad

I was reading over on another blog about her heavy therapy session.

She hit the nail on the head for me.

She asked a poingnant question:
- I’m grateful to have this, but why am I not worth the full package?

My comment:
I asked the same question over and over and over. My answer was finally for me, I am worth it… parents couldn’t give it. I don’t know if this will become your answer or not. It is what I’m finally accepting from this summer. My parents are in their 80’s and I’m in my 50’s. They totally missed out on being my parents. They chose their fears instead. I’m still sad. But I believe I’m going to be ok. Sorry you are faced with the same question. It is a painful one. You are fortunate to have Cat in your life. Your lunch looks delicious.

I thought I had accepted that my parents chose not to be my parents.  I thought I accepted that I am an extension of my mother in her view and she can't see me as anything but a threat to her well being.  I thought I had accepted that my father used me as a human shield from my mother.  I thought I had finally got over the longing for parents.  I was wrong.  I am still not 'over' not feeling like I am worth the full package.  I wonder when the grieving ends....

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tired of being tired

I set a record.  I missed writing yesterday and slept for 11 hours.  That is a record for the last 5 months.  Sad thing was I woke up feeling tired. 

I had a whole paragraph of rambling that I just deleted.  I am not addressing what I am feeling right now. 

Taking a bit of a break so I will share some of my pictures of magnificent Mono Lake.

At a distance

Sense of size

Not alone in our admiration