Wednesday, June 30, 2010


When I didn't know where my solution was

or even where to look

I hung onto this

As long as I don't give up...


If you'll read in my "About Susan" and other pages, you'll notice that I don't adhere much to the traditional model of psychiatry, therapy or "illness" - anymore.

But I used to.


And in that commitment what I realized is that every time the "diagnosis" changed over those nearly 2 decades - I "became" whatever it was that they - the doctors, therapists...the "providers" and "professionals" told me I was.

And in hindsight - each time the doctor would change the diagnosis, she would (faithfully) ask me if I agreed with it. And faithfully I would nod my head and say "yes".

With the hope that perhaps...just maybe....this time she would find that "magic pill" - or rather combination of the many pills I took - that would make me happy, confident...courageous enough to somehow just "get over" the demons that rumbled through my brain and taunted me in my thoughts 24/7.

And while she never did find that "right combination" for me - no magic pill to take away the depression that immobilized me or the sadness that seemed to envelop me and follow me like a faithful puppy or end the anxiety that had earned me the label "agoraphobic"...or the "personality disorders" that said I was defective from the "core" of my being...

I found my way - in spite of it all.

And it began with a knowing, a trusting, a belief that if I kept putting one foot in front of the other, seeking my own answers instead of waiting to be "fixed" or "taken care of"...

That I would win.

And while that sounds "easy" the same time I had to figure out how to use the resources - the same doctors and therapists - who continued to try to fit me into their box of "ill".

And I kept going, in spite of theirs and others repeated efforts to get me to continue to try to find that "magic pill". As they and others kept telling me that I needed "meds" and therapy for the rest of my life...that my emotions were broken, my thoughts were muddled and "wrong" somehow...

And I realized through it all that while the intentions were good...the advice they were giving me kept me dependent on them and the "meds" to cope and manage my thoughts and emotions and ultimately my behavior as the "meds" kept my mind dull and my emotions flat.

And today - I have become my own best resource and advocate. Today I live free of dependence on others to direct, orchestrate or coordinate or medicate my life to the standards that others have set for me.

Today I run my own race and today I can honestly say that I have won - not because I found that "magic pill"...

But because I realized that I could learn to recognize the deeply ingrained and silent beliefs that fueled the tormenting thoughts that fed the roller coaster ride of emotions that in turn motivated the behaviors of "acting out" and "acting in" that can result in the label "mentally ill".

And I learned how to grieve the past that tormented me and found freedom...

And peace.

I hope you'll join me here each week as I blog about and share my journey from "illness" to "wellness"...and on Blog Talk Radio the first Thursday of each month as I do my best to share the information that offered me the awareness that empowered me to travel this journey of self discovery, hope and healing.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Claiming A New Paradigm For Myself-Part 3 (conclusion)

In the first segment of this series "Claiming A New Paradigm For Myself" I discussed how I became empowered to find my own answers when I let go of "illness" and began to embrace "wellness".

In Part 2 I shared some of the information that has influenced how I view the paradigm of "mental illness" and how I began to make that mind-shift from accepting “illness” as my focus to claiming this new paradigm of "wellness" for myself.

And today, in Part 3, I wanted to bring this series to an end with looking at tying this train of thought together and suggest that we can make room for a new paradigm, a different view - a view of "wellness" that we can add to our “toolbox”.

Claiming A New Paradigm For Myself – Part 3 (conclusion)

The issue for me as I have traveled this journey is that while I was accepting “illness” as my “paradigm” - and the offered solutions as the only solutions available - is that I felt helpless to change anything about my life because I felt hopeless that there was anything more that I could have outside of “illness”.

And what I’ve realized is that this “paradigm” of “illness” required me to be dependent on someone or something outside of myself…

And that I felt very dis-empowered.

And that there are other options.

“Mental illness” is often compared to things like diabetes or heart disease.

And in this paradigm of “illness” we as a society have learned to view these “diseases” as unavoidable, “genetic”….and scary.

A lack of knowledge had led us to believe that the only solution was the pills and surgeries that would “manage” these issues; but there was no “cure”. We were destined by “genetics” to be “sick” and dependent on people, places and things outside of ourselves for our solutions.

We believed that there was nothing we could do to change this; that we were "powerless" over "genetics".

Yet today, there has been a “paradigm shift” as we have come to understand through new knowledge that both diabetes and heart disease are often related to an unhealthy lifestyle and are very manageable…

And can even be overcome and turned around with lifestyle changes such as how we cope with stress, by eating fewer processed foods and consuming more whole foods, by getting off the couch and incorporating activity into our daily lives and so on…

So as I began to look at this “paradigm” or accepted way of viewing the issues of cognitive and emotional distress and its relationship and influence on how I “coped”…

I realized that Psychology had already given us much to work with and that I could learn to live differently.

That I could use labels like “diagnosis” and “symptoms” as a guide to show me the path to living in a state of “wellness”.

And although I didn’t set out to do this - what I ended up with is my own paradigm that took me from “illness” to “wellness”.

A path that helped me to find my way “through the darkness to get to the light” at the end of the tunnel - but I hadn’t yet seen as I’d been stuck on managing “illness” and blind to the idea that there was a light that truly existed.

This mind-shift – letting go of “illness” - empowered me to learn to live in a state of “well being” instead of medicating “symptoms”, managing a “disease” and existing day to day, surviving – but never “living”.

Part of making this mind-shift was realizing that by hanging onto the labels of “mental illness”, disease, disorder…I felt “powerless”. There was nothing I could do about an “illness” that I had accepted as “genetic” and therefore “unchangeable”.

It was when I chose “wellness” that I truly understood that I held the power to change my life within my own being.


Thank you for reading along as I dissected the process that I followed in my discovery that there truly were more options available to overcoming the emotional and cognitive distress that we have come to call “mental illness”.

Just as I learned to begin to ask the questions that empowered me to make that mind-shift from “illness” and instead choose my own paradigm of “wellness” – I hope you will begin to ask your own questions, search out your own answers and find the freedom to create and live your own “best life” – and that very simply, is the life that you choose for yourself each day.

I'd like to invite you to join me on the first Thursday of each month on Blog Talk Radio as I host the Heal My PTSD program “Empowering Solutions” where our goal is to offer you information, tools and resources that will empower you to create - and live - your own “best life”.

~ Susan

Q: What are your thoughts? How can you claim a new story for yourself?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Here Comes The Sun

A nice tune that is a gentle reminder that there is light after the dark - to everything there is a season...

And it's alright.

Here Comes the Sun by George Harrison

Here comes the sun (du dn du du)
Here comes the sun
And I say
It's alright

Little darling
It's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling
It seems like years since it's been here

Little darling
The smiles returning to the faces
Little darling
It seems like years since it's been here

Little darling
I see the ice is slowly melting
Little darling
It seems like years since it's been clear

Here comes the sun (du dn du du)
Here comes the sun
It's alright
It's alright

Fun Facts and history of the origination of this song...

"Here Comes the Sun" is a song by George Harrison from The Beatles' 1969 album Abbey Road.

Harrison stated in The Beatles Anthology:

"Here Comes the Sun" was written at the time when Apple was getting like school, where we had to go and be businessmen: 'Sign this' and 'sign that'. Anyway, it seems as if winter in England goes on forever, by the time spring comes you really deserve it. So one day I decided I was going to sag off Apple and I went over to Eric Clapton's house. The relief of not having to go see all those dopey accountants was wonderful, and I walked around the garden with one of Eric's acoustic guitars and wrote "Here Comes The Sun" Source: Wikepedia, The online encyclopedia

Q: What do you draw on to remember the sun is on it's way?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I Ceased To Exist

"When I accepted "illness" as my chosen paradigm I was rendered a slave, to my genes and my biology. I believed that I was somehow "broken", that my "personality" was "set" and unchangeable. I became dependent on people places and things outside of myself to make me feel "ok" and to manage "me" and all that encompasses being "me" thoughts, emotions and behaviors. I ceased to exist as a "being" when I accepted "diagnosis". I became helpless when I accepted "illness" and I became hopeless when I believed there was no solution to be had.

Until I chose to create my own paradigm of "wellness".


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Claiming A New Paradigm For Myself-Part 2

(def) paradigm |ˈparəˌdīm|
noun1 technical a typical example or pattern of something; a model : there is a new paradigm for public art in this country. See note at model .a worldview underlying the theories and methodology of aparticular scientific subject : the discovery of universal gravitation became the paradigm of successful science.

Throughout my journey I have learned to rely more on my own ability to gain an understanding of and make decisions relating to the direction I have chosen to take (learning to fish for a lifetime) vs depending on others to provide me my answers or offer me my solutions (being "fed" for a day).

I had a need to understand the current "medical" or "biological" model of the mental health system and the psychology behind it.

I mean...I couldn't just go "off the deep end" and make things up - that would be, well, most would consider that to be "crazy". :)

I thought if I found an understanding of my issues and the available solutions - then maybe I could figure out what it was that I was doing "wrong"...

why I wasn't getting "better" after committing myself to following the instructions of the "providers" that held my life in their hands for over 15 years...

why I was still depressed, anxious, manic, irritable, my relationships were still volatile so isolation was my "safe place". Why I couldn't sleep for more than a few hours without waking and oftentimes unable to get back to sleep.

Why after 15 years of "therapy" and "meds"....the "magic combination" hadn't been found for me still.

What I found in my research, education, through my own experience, insight and in conversations with my providers themselves after having "woken up" from the deep cognitive and emotional trance of living in a drugged stupor all those years....

is that they - the "providers" of these "mental health" services" - really didn't know how to help me and relied on "meds" and "talk therapy" to "manage" my thoughts, emotions and behaviors; they "needed" me to be "biologically defective" in order to fit into their "paradigm".

"Wellness" was not a part of their beliefs - their "paradigm" - in the "biological" model of "mental illness".

And I wanted more from life than what this "paradigm" offered me.


I hope you'll join me here again as I continue to unravel this idea of "paradigm" and making that mind-shift from dependence on others for my answers to finding and creating my own paradigm of "wellness" based on my personal belief that with new information I could make the choice to find "wellness".

The next article in this series will post next week - I'd like to invite you to register for email updates (on sidebar) to be notified of new content.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I wanted to understand this "Paradigm" of "Mental Illness"

Map of Science

(def) paradigm |ˈparəˌdīm|
noun1 technical a typical example or pattern of something; a model : there is a new paradigm for public art in this country. See note at model .a worldview underlying the theories and methodology of aparticular scientific subject : the discovery of universal gravitation became the paradigm of successful science.

Throughout my journey I have learned to rely more on my own ability to gain an understanding of and make decisions relating to the direction I have chosen to take (learning to fish for a lifetime) vs depending on others to provide me my answers or offer me my solutions (being "fed" for a day).

Today I wanted to introduce just a few of the ideas that I've taken into consideration that has empowered me to take charge of my healing journey and make that shift from dependence on people, places and things to define, label or "fix" me and begin to see myself as my own best resource...and I made that shift from viewing myself through the paradigm of "illness" and created my own paradigm of "wellness".

At the online Encyclopedia, Wikepedia, Kuhn defines a scientific paradigm as:.

  • what is to be observed and scrutinized
  • the kind of questions that are supposed to be asked and probed for answers in relation to this subject
  • how these questions are to be structured
  • how the results of scientific investigations should be interpreted

Below are a few links on the research behind the field of Psychiatry, as we know it...

i.e. the industry and persons charged with constructing, asking and answering those questions that have created the currently accepted paradigm of the last 50 or 60 years about "mental illness", how it is defined, communicated, viewed and it and those given these diagnosis are treated and the therapies used to do so:
  • Read recovery stories from those who've found their way out of the cycle of dependence on drugs to manage their mental wellness at the Blog rated #3 as "Top Health Blog" among numerous other awards as related to health and mental health issues. Source: Beyond Meds by Gianna Kali
  • Read the post "A Tale Of Two Boys" that causes me to consider not only what we do to ourselves as adults, but the plight of the children who suffer and struggle.
So here I've laid out for you some of the information that has influenced how I view the paradigm of "mental illness" and how I began to make that mind-shift to claiming this new paradigm of "wellness" for myself...

And hopefully I have reassured you that I didn't go off the "deep end" or a "witch hunt" against the millions of Doctors, Therapists and other helpers who have oftentimes affected and changed our lives for the better...and sometimes saved them.

In fact, this understanding has empowered me to understand these relationships better and made me a better advocate for myself and freeing me from that dependence to be "fed for a day".

I hope you'll join me here again as I continue to unravel this idea of "paradigm" and making that mind-shift from dependence on others for my answers to finding and creating my own paradigm of "wellness" based on my personal belief that with new information I could make the choice to find "wellness".

I hope you'll check the June 2010 archives and read more in the series "Claiming A New Paradigm For Myself".

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Opportunity Is Never "Failure"

This journey is full of starts and stops.

We learn, we practice, we struggle, we slip, we regain our footing and continue to move forward.

Every struggle, every slip is a either a "failure"...

Or an "opportunity".

And a "failure" can become an "opportunity" in less than a second....

But "opportunity" is never a "failure".

A Journey Receives "Beautiful Blogger Award"

Melissa Mashburn of Sugar Filled Emotions left this award for me today on the post "Creating A New Paradigm...For Myself.

Melissa describes this award this way...

Who or What is a Beautiful Blogger?

"A Beautiful Blogger is someone who blogs with truth, honesty and integrity. They blog from their heart, sharing their story, humor, and life with others. They go out of their way to support others, giving of themselves to provide encouragement and brighten someone’s day. They glow with a beauty that comes from within, and it shows in what they write and how they interact with others."

Thank you, Melissa.

I am honored.

I hope you'll drop by Melissa's blog and see who else she honored with this award and take the time to introduce yourself and perhaps leave a link back to your own blog or Facebook page... You'll find the "Beautiful Blogger Award" page here at Melissa's blog, "Sugar Filled Emotions".

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Claiming A New Paradigm...For Myself

So back to the idea of "can we shift from a mindset of "illness" to one of "wellness"...

Part of making that shift from "illness" to "wellness" mindset was choosing to see "diagnosis" and "symptoms" as something I can learn to change vs. seeing these labels as something I "have"...and I have no control over or power to change.

In talking with others I've noticed how they, like me in the past, talk about their mental wellness - or lack of it - as though it is a "thing".

And while it's true that this is the message we've been getting since Bill W. called alcoholism a "disease of the mind"...I found that in owning this message I was left feeling very dis-empowered. Or if you've been around for awhile, you may notice this is an idea that falls under that concept of "feeling powerless" (click to listen to what I said about "powerless" on BTR)

I felt powerless to change because I viewed my coping mechanisms of "acting out"; irritability, anger, aggression, hyper-vigilance ie the "lashing out" at the world and others - as well as the "acting in"; depression, dissociation, insomnia aka the "self harming" behaviors -as related to this "diagnosis" that told me that I had some "genetic" mutation in my genes that made it impossible to change"it" or the behaviors related to it.

By "buying into" the idea that my emotional and cognitive distress was something I "had" ie "I HAVE (fill in the blank with whatever your "diagnosis" or "symptom" is)..."

I was left feeling as though I had no power to change my life because that is what I had been told by the providers of...and is the "standard of care" in the biological, genetic, medical, disease model of mental health issues.

It was hard letting go of this paradigm of "care"...

I mean....come on; these guys are the "doctors", the "providers".....

Yes; but they are not "god".

And I gave them 15 years of my life to "fix me"....

But I found "wellness" when I gave up "illness" as my chosen "paradigm".

Next time....a look at what is a "paradigm" in the sciences....

Q: How have you claimed your own power recently?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Anger and Empowerment - revised

Anger and Empowerment

Anger and irritability used to run my life.

What I discovered though is that if I am approaching "tilt" or "overload" where I have an instinct to either pick a "fight" or take "flight"....I very well may be expecting to find my solutions in things outside of my control.

If I'm viewing people places and things outside of myself as my problem....then I am also very likely looking to those same or similar external sources as my solution.

This position of dependence on things outside of myself for my solutions was fuel for that feeling of hopelessness because I saw my well being at the mercy of things that I had no control over....those people places and things that I could not influence or change.

This also fueled that feeling of helplessness and anger when people and circumstances did not meet my needs or my expectations that they would, or "should" meet my needs.

It was when I learned to recognize this dependence on things outside of myself and shift my focus to being self empowered to find and access my solutions that the issue of chronic anger and irritability was no longer an issue for me.

We can use our anger to identify where we are expecting others to do for us those things that we can truly do for ourselves.

This in turn frees us up to search for other resources and solutions instead of being dependent to stick with a resource that is not meeting our needs.

We can use our anger to fuel our quest for solutions through seeking the knowledge that will open the doors for us to live that self empowered life and escape the pain of living in chronic anger and dependence on others to meet our needs.

You can read the comments at the original post here on Facebook or leave your own comments below...

Q: How could you use your anger to find and fuel your own power?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Top Hits...and a Tiger Lily

Tiger Lily
June 12 2010

It's been a few weeks since I've done a "Top Hits" post so here you go; counting down the "Top Hits" that you voted on with your clicks over the past few weeks....

#4 - Empowering Solutions - Whats getting in the way 6/3/2010 - Heal My PTSD | Internet Radio | Blog Talk Radio On June 3rd I kicked off a new BTR program in conjunction with Michelle Rosenthal of Heal My PTSD, LLC; "...the foundation for healing from trauma issues begins with a firm foundation based on worth without justification, creating a sense of safety in our lives and finding that "thing" that we say "I get to do this again tomorrow"...

#3 - Pssst...Run With The Wind This post continues to be a "Top Hit"

#2 - The Sting of Stigma: Conclusion "It is often said that a loving, supportive environment with clear boundaries is the one thing that makes a difference to someone struggling with the emotional and cognitive distress related to what is termed "mental illness"...But how often does this actually happen within home and family - or community?"

#1 - Abuse: I "didn't know that I didn't know""As long as I lived my life "on guard" for the next "abuser" I was focussed again on finding my "solution" in something or someone outside of myself...instead of concentrating on learning how to no longer be a victim."

Thanks to all of you who drop by each day - and continuing to let me know what it is that you find interesting by voting each day and week with your "clicks".

I hope you'll "stay tuned" as we continue to talk about making that shift from "illness" to living a life of "wellness"...

This week we'll be taking a look at diagnosis in "mental health" issues as something I "have" and how making this mind-shift to "wellness" can empower us to create the life of our lots of other interesting - and maybe even controversial - ideas about the "disease" paradigm of mental health issues that are coming up over the next few weeks.

You can register for email or RSS feed updates and if you like what you read, share with your twitter, facebook and other SM friends or even shoot the link to this Blog to someone whom you believe would be interested!

Q: What has been your personal "high point" this week in your own journey?

Friday, June 11, 2010

This blog is about my journey.

It is also about shining the light on the path for's about the process of finding our own power through believing in ourselves as our source, finding hope when hope was lost.

But today this is about me and my path. My story. My loss. My grief.

Thank you for walking beside me today.

water of spring gives
the seed new life after sleep
tears wash the soul free

Thursday, June 10, 2010

You're Bi Polar...Wait, No; Your "Borderline". Wait No...PTSd and Misdiagnosis

When we hone in on "diagnosis" as our source of hope and solution to our issues, we might be giving up some of our own power and find ourselves clinging to "diagnosis" as it becomes who we are instead of as an identifier that can guide us to the light.

Shifting from managing an "illness" to discovering "wellness" began for me when I was able to recognize that I clung so desperately to "diagnosis" and the related labels because without it....I had no other hope.

Michele Rosenthal of Heal My PTSD at Blog Talk Radio talks about PTSD from the perspective of the family that supported well as the too frequent misdiagnosis of PTSd as "Bi Polar Disorder" and even "Borderline Personality Disorder" as well as the stress related issues of "Fibromyalgia" and other "psychosomatic" disorders.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Abuse: I "didn't know that I didn't know"

We'll get back to the discussion on making the shift from "illness" to "wellness" mindset shortly; in the meantime...

Some of us
"don't know what we don't know".

Personally, over the years when I was asked if I was "abused" I would say shamefully "no" because first - I didn't know what it was like to not be abused, this was my "normal"...

...and second - I'd been trained to believe that somehow it was my fault what the adults in my life had done to me and thus as I grew into adulthood, I repeated this pattern in my relationships not because I was "bad", "defective", "less than" or "ill" - but because it was all I knew.

"didn't know that that I didn't know" that I was living the generational pattern of abuse in my life.

I just thought something was "wrong" with me; that I was "defective" and as I entered the mental health system in 1992, the abuse was ignored and I accepted that I was actually "ill", "diseased" and "defective"; somehow I was "genetically" broken.
That something was "wrong" with me...not that I'd been raised in an environment that left me ill equipped to face the world as an individual.

This article I'm referencing addresses male to female abuse but truth is....these are indicators of men to women, women to men,male to male or female to female, adult to child, perpetrator to victim in any situation, any relationship.

Abuse of any kind is not restricted to "intimate" or "domestic" relationships but can be seen in all societal relationships in various degrees. It doesn't matter what we call it...."dating violence", "domestic violence", "gay or lesbian" violence, "sexual discrimination" in workplaces... all boils down to one thing: a perpetrator needing to validate their existence through the control and oppression of another.

Think globally as in war and prisoner of war camps. Same idea, different people, places and circumstances.

Abuse is often tolerated as "normal" although in truth is an indicator of that struggle of "power and control" and that power imbalance in oppressive relationships and may often precede physical abuse and violation as the victims are "groomed" to tolerate the intolerable.
Knowledge is the beginning of the truth that will set us free.

Often, abuse issues are looked at as if controlling the "abuser" will change things yet we hear over and over how those who were once the victim repeatedly find themselves in abusive relationships and environments.

So while becoming informed and learning how to identify abuse is the beginning - the cycle of abuse doesn't "end" by focussing on the "perpetrators" and we know this because we frequently will leave one abusive relationship and find ourselves in another.

Escaping the pattern of abuse for me began with identifying what it was within myself that attracted me to and was the basis to repeat this pattern in my adult relationships - not by living in that state of hyper-vigelance where I had to be "on guard" to catch the next perpetrator.

As long as I lived my life "on guard" for the next "abuser" I was focussed again on finding my "solution" in something or someone outside of myself instead of concentrating on learning how to no longer be a victim.

This was that "false sense of power" that came from an environment where I learned to "be" good enough or "do" right enough to avoid being hurt or to be "loved" by manipulating situations and circumstances in order to be "accepted" in an environment where being "me" wasn't allowed. (I.E. if I could "spot" the abuse, I could "avoid" it someway or do or say something to make the abuser "love" me...or at least stop hurting me.)

We can't change other people or the choices they make... but we can gain the knowledge that will empower us in our own lives and help us to change things for the next generation.
You can read the article here.

Q: Thoughts?