Thursday, April 29, 2010

Black and white - the Zebra effect



Ok; well I've been thinking a lot about the "how" behind finding my way out of that dark place where I lived for so many years and the "labels" that I accepted and the language that I used that had a huge impact on my state of mind.

In the past I've written about how as I entered the mental health system I took on and accepted the labels given to me in the way of "diagnosis" and "symptoms". I became and lived the labels that were given me. (Click here to see my posts related to "labels")

So whats in a label? It's just words, right?

Remember the nursery rhyme "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me"...?

As a child I tried to believe this, but it was tough because the things that were said to me and about me carved a hole in my being that affected my sense of self and reinforced that sense of hopelessness and shame that something was wrong with me - but I didn't know what that was.

Here is a quote from the work of David Burns about labels:

Labeling is an extreme form of all-or-nothing thinking. Instead of saying "I made a mistake," you attach a negative label to yourself: "I’m a loser." You might also label yourself "a fool" or "a failure" or "a jerk." Labeling is quite irrational because you are not the same as what you do. Human beings exist, but "fools," "losers," and "jerks" do not. These labels are just useless abstractions that lead to anger, anxiety, frustration, and low self-esteem.


You also label others. When someone does something that rubs you the wrong way, you may tell yourself: "He’s an S.O.B." Then you feel that the problem is with that person’s "character" or "essence" instead of with their thinking or behavior. You see them as totally bad. This makes you feel hostile and hopeless about improving things and leaves little room for constructive communication.

So part of the idea behind "labels" was learning to recognize that I was using labels in my conversations or accepting labels that others defined for me. Either way - my sense of well being is affected by the labels and words I and others use and I accept.


In the past, if I made a mistake the first thought I would have is "stupid" which served only to reinforce that sense of powerlessness that permeated my being as I could never "do or say anything right".


I also viewed the world through those dark lenses as my first response to a lot of situations had some sort of negative label attached to it. Instead of the first day of the week being Monday - it was "Monday's are awful". Just adding that extra label of "awful" set my mood and created the tone or mindset for the entire day.


On the freeway, a driver who cut me off was a "jerk" instead of a driver who cut me off. It didn't take me long to realize how "road rage" became such an issue :)


These are some pretty simple examples of labels but the idea behind it is that the thoughts I think become the words I speak and sets the pace for my state of mind and the actions or behaviors I choose.


It took time, but with awareness I was able to identify when I was in that place where I was viewing myself, others and the world and circumstances around me as "all good" or "all bad". 


With practice I was able to "see" that I was resorting to that "black and white" thinking that fueled my insecurities and drama that had become my life and relationships. 


And with compassion for myself and the people in my life I began to acknowledge that life really wasn't all-or-nothing or "black and white" - but in time, I began to see how there was at first shades of gray and then muted shades of color in the world. 


...just becoming aware of how I was using labels in my language was the first step to being able to use my language to choose to consciously create the change in my life that would set me free from that place of "black and white" thinking and begin to see the color in my world.

I Didn't Know My Own Strength...

I thought I might break...

I didn't know my own strength

I was not built to break

I didn't know my own strength


I knew that as long as I didn't give up...I knew that I would find my answers...

I knew that I would win.




Wednesday, April 28, 2010

True or False: my healing and happiness is dependent on someone or something outside of myself changing


Here's a "true or false" question...

"Changing my life begins with changing the people in my life or the circumstances of my life"

This is partially true.

Living this self-empowered life has brought changes, many good changes, to my life. But not one of them was because of what someone else did or a circumstance that affected these changes.

The change from within is what changed my life.

True - when we change us, oftentimes our relationships will evolve or even go the wayside as we become healthier and learn how to identify unhealthy relationships and find ourselves with a new tolerance for behaviors that are no longer tolerable.

And true again - sometimes in this life changing process of healing, hope and self discovery our environment and life circumstance changes as we grow and begin to reach for and live in our full potential.

But unless we change from the inside out...we'll wake up beside a different spouse/partner and find ourselves living the same drama at home, at work, in our relationships and life circumstances - because no matter what external changes we make in our life...we still wake up with us every day.

Over the years, I'd heard the idea that I could only change me, that I can run from my problems but would still wake up with me every day, that I was powerless to change others, I could only change myself.

But I didn't get it.

Until I started looking inside myself for the source of my miserableness instead of searching outside myself for the next right job, partner, spouse, house, car, therapist, doctor, pill - that would "fix" me or make me smile - at least until I became miserable again.

Then the quest would start over as I shopped, ate (or didn't eat), drank, fought, argued and once again re-created the drama that indicated that it was time once again to make some external change.

And for awhile my world was in order - as long as I could orchestrate my life - but god help anyone or anything that didn't fit into my plan of how life should look.

I was dependent on external source - people, places and things - to derive my sense of worth and happiness from.

I was living in a cycle. And it was exhausting.

When I finally depleted all of the external resources and exhausted my personal energy in my quest to live and be happy I found the best resource that would change my life.

Me.

And this takes us back to the topic of "Labels" as one of those internal changes that changed my life, my mood, my dependence on people, places and things outside of myself in my search for health and happiness.

It is possible to create change and live the life we choose without having to "hit bottom". Knowledge is empowering and finding our own personal truth sets us free; I hope you'll join me here again as we continue this quest and lay the foundation for you to find your own answers and learn how to live your own truth that sets you free.

Your feedback is appreciated and helpful...please leave your thoughts, comments or questions about this idea of internal vs. external changes....

Have fun creating your own best day ever!




Monday, April 26, 2010

I Gotta Feelin'...Whooo Hoooo!


Language.

It takes some time to learn to speak a new language, doesn't it?

As infants we come into this world with no verbal language skills. We observe, listen....babble; and one day an intelligible word slides out and we have successfully begun the process to assimilate (I'm seeing the "Borg" in my head about now :-0) verbal language.

We are beginning to express ourselves. (ok...now it's Madonna :->)

And we begin to develop thoughts based on our reality, the world we live in, our life experiences. And our thoughts and beliefs begin to form, shaping us into who we will become.

And for the longest time we as a people believed that those intrinsic characteristics were "long lasting" and pretty much the way we were destined to be; happy or depressed, confident or of low self esteem....we became "disordered".

"I can't help it" is the mantra I chanted for many...many, years.

The thought never occurred to me that I could change what was "me"...the way I thought, the emotions I experienced, the actions and choices I made every day based on the imprinting of my childhood.

I felt powerless to stake claim on anything other than what I had known in my little world of self defeating behaviors, shame and a painful dependance on people and circumstances outside of myself to validate my existence and "make" me feel ok. I searched high and low for someone, anyone who could "fix" me yet I found no solutions to the emotional pain and psychological tortment I lived in every day.

Yet here I am today. Courageous, strong, living a new self-empowered life fueled by the knowledge that I get to get up tomorrow and do it all over again! Whooo hooo! (Are ya feelin' Fergie here yet?!)


In the next few posts I'll be diving into the language we use we use every day that paints the picture of what our tomorrow will look like. I hope you'll join me!

***

This post describes my personal "Genesis" as I learned the lesson that I could choose which thoughts to follow and more important, which ones to believe...Like the Little Engine That Could.

You can read about the struggle I faced as I began to claim my power and how I found my voice in the post I Am Not A Can of Soup.

PS don't forget to go to the sidebar and register for updates...I'd hate for you to miss what's coming up!





Thought for today...letting go of labels


For a very long time I lived my "labels"...they became who I was. When I thought of myself I thought of myself as the label given to identify the diagnosis and symptoms of my struggle. I found freedom when I started using diagnosis and symptoms as tools instead of taking them on as who I was and began to define myself as happy, kind, intelligent, thoughtful and brilliant....

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Revised...Building Up or Tearing Down?

It has come to my attention that the content of this post might be triggering for some and thus perhaps not appropriate for this blog so I have pulled this post and will repost a revised version more appropriate to the audience here at a later date.




Saturday, April 24, 2010

Thought for today...giving up was no longer an option


In this journey of healing and self discovery...once I made the decision that giving up - "acting out" and lashing out at others or "acting in" with depression, dissociation, addiction, self harming behavior - was no longer an option - it was then that I was able to begin to see my solutions...and that it resided within me.



If you are looking for ideas on how to create you own best life try starting with the Resources tab at the top of this page. It's not an exhaustive collection by any means but a good place to start :)

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Back to basics when life gets messy

Aaarrgg. Piles of mail, newspapers, junk mail. Files, projects, work, phone calls. Accounting - ugh!

I don't know about you - but this journey can get messy sometimes. In more ways than one.

Often I've noticed over the years how my life and environment seem to somehow be magically connected. When my mind is racing, I'm not sleeping and I"m fighting triggers, depression and all the other nasties that come along with mental health issues - it is often reflected in my environment.

I've also noticed that during these times I had struggled more with relationships that weren't working, I felt angry at others and didn't recognize that I had fallen back into the old pattern of being passive about my boundaries, my wants, my needs. I was again sacrificing my own peace of mind in order to "keep the peace".

Often, I would find myself expecting others to meet my needs instead of living as that new stronger and self sufficient, self empowered me. I would sulk when I was ignored instead of taking some action to meet my own needs or I would rage as I fought to force someone to fulfill my need to be accepted and my existence validated.

Or the opposite would happen as I would fight back and claim power by attempting to control others as I would try to bully them into being who I needed them to be - at the price of sacrificing my own power and in the process attempting to steal theirs as I fought to control my world by attempting to control others.

But today it's different. Today I can can practice recognizing these thoughts of inadequacy, feelings of shame and efforts to validate my existence through the compliance or approval of others as indicators not as a reminder of how imperfect I am - but as road signs, as a flag waving in the air telling me that this is from the past and I am valid just as I am, with no further qualification.

I just am.

And that is enough.

So I can stop, take a deep breath. And keep my life on track, continue to choose and create my best life every day.

With this awareness of my own self, I no longer have the need to look to the world for validation and can take a step back, be ok, and open the mail, file the bills and know that I am on the right path.

That I am no longer a victim and living a life far beyond "survival" mode.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

In the Beginning...Laying the Foundation for Healing


For years I was dependent on others - doctors, therapists - to tell me what was "wrong" with me...and I wanted them to "fix" me. After all...they were the professionals.

In this mindset I was giving away my power and reinforcing that deep, hidden belief that I was not enough, I was powerless to change my life, that I would not find peace, joy and happiness on my own.

I lost all hope for a better tomorrow as I floundered in my today, living in the nightmare and emotional turmoil of the darkness of "symptoms" and "diagnosis".

But I learned that I AM enough and that outside resources can be a tool, a guide, a support to me as I learn how to interact with and be a part of a world that for so long was so not safe.

And the first "tool" that I found was the one that I held within myself and the one tool that by identifying it and learning to recognize it, use it....would be the foundation for all that came in the future.

I wrote about this in the post Knowledge is Power and Truth Sets Us Free.

Awareness. With intention.

What I've since learned is that this tool is first, not a part of the mainstream treatments that I was familiar with.

And second, this ancient tool is currently being studied and applied in other more holistic mainstream methodologies.

So, with intention and attendance I began to find my way out of a chronic state of dissociation, depression and deep anxiety and panic. I began to become aware of "me". My thoughts, my feelings/emotions, my energy, my body, my behaviors which I learned was simply an expression of everything going on within myself.

In the beginning, practicing the use of this tool was difficult since I had become so out of tune with my whole self in order to avoid the emotional pain and the physical sensations that reeked of the abuse I had experienced.

But as I practiced, initially I could maintain awareness for just a second, or two or three. But with practice I developed a skill that today serves me well as I continue to walk this new path of confidence and self reliance, a part of the larger world that today I can view more as that benevolent place where I am safe.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Warrior Spirit Rises: Captain Ed Freeman - Vietnam Hero Dies at age 70


The following letter was in my inbox this morning.

In honor of this Warrior and the many others who have lived their lives and sacrificed much to serve this country and keep us free I am posting it here today.

The story as it was sent to me today...

You're a 19 year old kid.

You're critically wounded and dying in the jungle somewhere in the Central Highlands of Viet Nam . It's November 11, 1967.

LZ (landing zone)

Your unit is outnumbered 8-1 and the enemy fire is so intense, from 100 yards away, that your CO (commanding officer) has ordered the MedEvac helicopters to stop coming in.

You're lying there, listening to the enemy machine guns and you know you're not getting out. Your family is half way around the world, 12,000 miles away, and you'll never see them again. As the world starts to fade in and out, you know this is the day.

Then - over the machine gun noise - you faintly hear that sound of a helicopter. You look up to see a Huey coming in. But ... It doesn't seem real because no MedEvac markings are on it.

Captain Ed Freeman is coming in for you.

He's not MedEvac so it's not his job, but he heard the radio call and decided he's flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire anyway. Even after the MedEvacs were ordered not to come.He's coming anyway.

And he drops it in and sits there in the machine gun fire, as they load 3 of you at a time on board. Then he flies you up and out through the gunfire to the doctors and nurses and safety.

And,
he kept coming back!! 13more times!! Until all the wounded were out. No one knew until the mission was over that the Captain had been hit 4 times in the legs and left arm.He took 29 of you and your buddies out that day. Some would not have made it without the Captain and his Huey.

Medal of Honor Recipient, Captain Ed Freeman United States Air Force, died last Wednesday at the age of 70, in Boise, Idaho .


We haven't seen this in the press - let's honor this Warrior and the many he represents with a moment of silence as you read this.

May God bless his soul.

The Warrior Spirit Rises.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Once Broken Does Not Mean Forever Broken


An interesting discussion on beliefs has been ramping up recently. Mike has posted some really interesting ideas at his blog Mikes Musings and Carla at Emerging from Broken has brought up the fact that she recognized that she was not born with depression but born into it.

Beliefs.

Subtle. Hidden from our conscious mind; Freud drew a picture of an iceberg and told us that the sub conscious realms could not be reached. Yet he was able to identify what was "unreachable". But that's another story for another day.

Our beliefs - both the ones that we can speak up and say "This is bunk" or "I feel ya"...and the ones we might deny...."I"m not looking for a caretaker...I"m not "dependent"...(that was me in the beginning...) affect our choices, our viewpoint and how we overcome...or accept...the life circumstances that change us.

Both the conscious and unconscious beliefs we carry affect our ability to walk away from this train wreck called PTSD, mental illness or whatever label you are comfortable attaching to the issues of emotional and cognitive instability and distress.

Case in point: In her book My Stroke of insight Jill Bolte Taylor is able to damn near draw us a picture of what it's like to go through a massive stroke. Then she is able to, with clarity and conciseness, identify the steps she took to reclaim her brain - and her life.

Bear with me here.

Now - compare this to the millions of people who have suffered strokes and been told it is not possible to recover.

Interesting conflict in my mind.

Whats the diff?

Jill Bolte Taylor as a brain scientist had the KNOWLEDGE to understand 1. what was happening to her and 2. the necessary steps to take to retrain her brain and return to her profession as a DOCTOR, a Neuroscientist no less.

Mind you - this is a VERY simplified analysis of this book but think about it...

Many who suffer from the symptoms of emotional and cognitive distress (whatever label you choose) have been told by the well intentioned professionals - the Doctors, Therapists and other clinicians - that WE WILL NEVER WALK OR TALK AGAIN ie comparison to a stroke victim. That we are permanently and irreparably broken and will be broken FOREVER. "Prognosis = poor".

Personally - I firmly believe in the neuro-plasticity of the brain. Once broken does not mean forever broken. I personally believe that every human being has the potential to create change in their lives through new knowledge and understanding. I also believe that not everyone is going to agree with this position and that's ok; just humor me and try to be open to some different ideas maybe.

For some of us this journey to take back our lives and reclaim our futures is a matter of overcoming the PTSD issues and we have a solid "self" to draw on as a resource to support us in this journey of healing.

For survivors of the abuse and neglect as children or other long term oppression who did not have the opportunity to develop a sense of self, competence and individuation - we have a few more steps to take to learn about 1. what we are lacking in our development and 2. what we can do to learn to develop the life skills that will take us further than we would otherwise be able to travel in life.

Regardless of which path your life is on...for me - holding on to that rear view mirror perspective of my life left me in a chronic state of hopelessness for a better day and helpless to change my life.

Me? I chose to jump on the train that takes me out of that dark place.

Q: What's your take on this idea?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Blood, Sweat and Tears


For some reason lately this song has been running through my mind..."Spinning Wheel" by the group Blood Sweat and Tears from 1969.

This has been in the context of that "racing mind" that seems to go along with mental health issues, that feeling of "stuckness" and feeling of powerlessness to make the nightmares stop and...the loss of hope that my life could be anything different than what it has been..

As I thought about this song, I Googled for the meaning behind this song and found this:

Whatever is troubling you, whether it is lack of money or homelessness, it will work itself out one way or another and it's just not worth getting upset over.


For the longest time I struggled with the idea of "letting go" of the past...and all of the emotional pain - and baggage - that came with it.

And the simplest way that I can describe this "letting go" and as is in the song "ride a painted pony, let the spinning wheel turn..."

Is to recognize that when I am "spinning" on the past, the pain, the betrayal, the traumas and issues that my life experience has been - as long as I'm "spinning" on it I'm simply going in circles, round and round and round. A dilemma with no end in sight.

Over time I have been able to learn to recognize when I'm "spinning" that I am often holding on to this rumination in order to validate my experiences that were denied by so many others in my lifetime...but also that as I ruminate over the pain of the past I am searching for a way to resolve the past in my today, which of course is impossible.

So I have to ask myself what is it that I am accomplishing with this re-living of these resentments and I have come to realize that this allows me to continue to avoid the emotions that are connected to the experiences in which my power was taken from me in one way or another.

That I have effectively put myself on the Merry-Go-Round and am riding the painted pony that is not going anywhere, not accomplishing anything - other than to spend my today reliving and holding on to the pain of a past that I cannot change.

But I have also learned that if I can let go and stop reliving the pain of my past...that I can ride the Merry-Go-Round with the joy and excitement of a life lived in freedom...and a peace beyond my understanding.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

UNstuckness!


Sometimes in this journey I find myself well, STUCK.

Stuck like caught in the mud and the mire of stuckness. This is that place where I KNOW all about the things that I should be doing, want to be doing and know how to do.

But not doing them.

Stuck.

"Why" am I STUCK? Well, a counselor once told me that "stuck" is a form of disscociation. And in some instances I can see how that is...especially on days that I had found myself "zoning out" and not remembering what the hell happened to the last 8 hours....

What I've come realize though is that whatever you want to call it or say is the cause - focussing on that is not helpful to finding my way out of STUCK.

So when I catch myself feeling "stuck" I have a few activities that I do to help take myself of of AUTOstuck and get back in the groove of my day.

So here's a couple of things I've used to help push me from stuck - to UN stuck...

1. At different times I've used what I call a "Brain Dump". This is where I just close my eyes and start typing (or writing in a notebook). At this point I intentionally stop ruminating and chasing those never ending thoughts that are racing through my head and I write the first words that come to my mind and the only thoughts I focus on are answering the questions:

1. why am I stuck and 2. what can I do to get UN stuck?

The example below is from a recent day when I was having a lot of physical pain and in a period of "stuck". Notice the pattern of thought...and how I found my own solution in this process:

Today is hard. I’m stuck. Again. Still. I’m not moving forward because I’m in pain and I need to exercise. I'm not exercising because I don’t have summer workout clothes and I need new gym shoes. I don’t have those because I haven't done my budget this month. I don't have the budget done because I can't find the bills to pay and I won't go shopping until the bills are paid. I can't find the bills because the mail is piling up again. The mail is piling up because I'm feeling stuck.

2. One thing. Forward movement creates an energy that naturally takes us to the next action. By taking my brain off "autopilot" and "spinning" on the racing thoughts that can come when I'm feeling overwhelmed, I purpose, with intention to simply take ONE action and trust that the next action will come from the energy created from the first.

In this situation, the first ONE action might be to sort the mail and separate the bills from the rest of the mail.

This action would then take me to the next action of balancing my checkbook in order to pay the bills which would free me up to be able to go shopping to buy what I need to take care of myself and get to the gym or go outside to walk since I now have season appropriate clothes to wear - and I feel good because I was able to resolve my own problem and take care of myself.

True - this is maybe a simplified version of how "stuckness" can cause us to "freeze" and feel unable to impact the outcome of our life. It is also a very effective tool for identifying those times when I am feeling "powerless" and "victim" to the "symptoms" that ran my life and kept me dependent on outside solutions.

While going through and doing this kind of self analyzing can be hard when what we really want is someone to take care of us , tell us what to do or how to "fix" whatever is "wrong" with us...it is also the one most self empowering things that I can do to take myself off STUCK and put my life back on the fast track to another opportunity to kind of say "in your face" to a past that left me feeling very disempowered and prove to myself once again that I can - and I am - doing this.

Q: what thoughts or actions have you taken in the past to help coax yourself from STUCK to UNstuck?

Friday, April 9, 2010

No trauma but still struggling with depression...Carla Dippel's journey


We are adventurers on a quest for our treasure ~ Carla Dippel

Over at the Blog "Emerging From Broken" Carla Dippel has posted a really great article about how she became aware of the faulty belief system that had been modeled for her growing up.

Carla did not experience child abuse or trauma yet did struggle with chronic depression and anxiety issues. Carla does such a great job at describing the insidious way that unhealthy coping behaviors and beliefs are subtly passed from one generation to the next - so I'm not going to go into my take on this subject at this time, but here are a couple of excerpts and I hope you'll drop by Emerging From Broken to read the entire article and other related posts.

Here is are a couple of short excerpt from Carla's post:

"For so long I could not figure out why I struggled and struggled with depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. I had no traumatic event to point to in my childhood to explain it...."

"...In seeing how the belief system was implanted in me in my earliest years, I become free of the lie that I was just born faulty, born with the tendency to be depressed, born with a weak mind or weak soul. This is the truth: I wasn’t born to be depressed or to struggle with low self-esteem. I learned it from somewhere and just didn’t know how to get rid of it until now..."


I hope you'll read this eye opening article and how she began to break the ties of an old belief system that wasn't working for her.






Tuesday, April 6, 2010

True Confessions: Is it possible?


Yesterday over at Heal My PTSD Michele posted a confession. She boldly stepped up and addressed what many don't want to look at; the labels and stigma associated with mental health issues.

One comment Michele had was this..."Alas, we don’t always get to choose our labels. We do, however, get to choose how we wear them."

Click HERE to read the entire post and related comments.

This was the beginning of a lively discussion about the label of PTSD and mental illness....below is one of the comments I left on this post:


What a wonderful discussion! So many varied views, opinions and perspectives! It is so wonderful to know that many, like you Marie, are finding therapists who know how to diagnose and treat PTSd as what it is - a psychological injury to be healed rather than an “illness” that has no cure.


And I totally agree that there are as many views and perspectives on PTSd and “mental illness” as there are people who wear that badge of honor.


Truth is though - that while PTSd is beginning to finally be recognized as that “injury” vs organic or biological “illness” - the stigma found in society regarding mental health issues in general is, as we all know, very real and extremely limiting and painful to those who face this discrimination every day by family, friends, neighbors, employers and yes - physicians and therapists as we are told that it is not possible to heal this “injury” and must learn to “manage” this “illness” instead of being guided in how to “live” beyond it….and in spite of it.


Personally - I believe that the “symptoms” of however you want to label this thing - can be used to begin to create a path - a map - out of the jungle. “This is where I’m at and THIS is where I want to be; now how am I going to get there?”


I also believe that we as “survivors of horrible things” need to be honored. Our experiences need to be validated. To do less is demeaning and disrespectful.


I also have the understanding of having hung on to my “diagnosis” and other labels related to mental health issues was perhaps a way for me to find that validation in some form, to have those life events, my experiences, my feelings, thoughts validated. To let go of “diagnosis” and “symptoms” and “managing” was scary. It was that place where I stepped to the edge of the cliff and kept going, believing I would find my way regardless of what the professionals said.


I think it is possible to both have our experiences validated and become a whole person. In other words, I have had cancer but I don’t define myself as a cancer survivor. I am a person who had cancer, did the treatment, had the surgery.


I still do rehabilitation exercises for the many surgeries even 10 years later and live with chronic pain from those surgeries and reconstructions - but this is not what my focus or conversation is each day. I don’t define myself as a “cancer survivor” nor do I join support groups that years later ruminate and focus on how horrible it is to have had and survived cancer. To do so steals my energy and limits my ability to live a full life because my focus would be on what “was” (the past) vs. what “is” (my potential).


So yes - I believe that we can have our experiences validated AND I believe that we can use whatever diagnosis we have been given to begin to find our way out of instead of living in the nightmare of past traumas (and other "mental health" issues). And then - we can model this to the world and say “it is possible to heal”…follow me.


Q: So, I'm curious. How do YOU view the labels that come with mental health issues? And - do you believe it is possible to USE these labels to find healing and wholeness and why do you believe this?


Monday, April 5, 2010

Truth and Dare



This new life is amazing! I'm so awesomely excited to be making new friends online! And the great people I've met here where I live and work...my life is growing and changing every day! How great is that!

But - the truth is...this is waaaayyyyyy different than the life I grew accustomed to when I struggled each day in an existence where social isolation was my best friend and anxiety ruled my life.

So - this feels scary sometimes to be putting myself out there and with purpose, intention and consciously choosing to make myself *ugh* *gulp*....vulnerable.

"What if no-one reads what I wrote?" Or worse...what if they read it and don't like it?"

What if she doesn't call me back?

What if I bomb at this new job?

"What if....." and you can choose just about any "what if" scenario and I could probably relate to it.

So - "what if"?

Well..."so what"?

You see, I decided some time ago that I wasn't going to live in that state of fear and powerlessness any more. I was going to learn how to live beyond what I was told that was possible.

But that decision doesn't suddenly "fix" the baggage I brought with me from my past, it didn't "cure" my social anxieties or turn me into a social butterfly or charismatic debutante.

It didn't "fix" my distorted sense of self, the paranoid thoughts, the low self esteem or lack of self worth, the fear of abandonment. It didn't stop the racing thoughts, the nightmares or make me immune to "triggers" that could send me into an emotional meltdown or explosive rage if I didn't get the right feedback from a situation. It didn't make me not want to drink and it couldn't teach me how to not "zone out".

I didn't turn into Susie Sunshine overnight, the the negative thoughts and black and white thinking that kept me prisoner to a chronic state of upset and distress didn't just "disappear".

I've had to work at it. Every day.

Each day I "Dare" myself to keep going, to keep growing, learning...changing. To keep putting one foot in front of the other. To not give up...to never, never give up - to remember that "giving up is no longer an option" because...

There is always a solution.

And sometimes that solution is to just do a "Nike" and get on with things and sometimes it's to have a sit down and give it a good cry. Other days its cranking up the music and feeling, really feeling the anger and rage at the injustices that I have survived, the losses I have faced. Maybe even give a shout and vent some of that rage for a moment and shake my fist at the universe for having been shortchanged....

...and sometimes it's turning on the tunes and dancing, feeling the joy of this new life well up inside of me and fill every single molecule of my being, it's staring at the night sky or closing my eyes to feel the warm afternoon breeze brush over my face.

But mostly it's learning new ways of thinking and "being". It's making a conscious choice every day to practice using all the tools and resources available to me to walk this part of my journey. It's being willing to take responsibility for my new life - or lack of it.

And in the end - it's letting go of the life that I should have had where I didn't have to face or deal with the demons that have tormented me....

It's letting go of believing that I have all the answers and can make life give me what I deserve if I can only work hard enough, try long enough and be "good enough".

And then it's accepting what is and that I don't get that "do over"...

...that today is what it is and what I make of it is what I will get in my tomorrow.

And in the end...in time it gets easier to live this new life and it is knowing, just knowing that no matter what message I got from my past, no matter what I have survived or conquered, that today I am in charge and today I can choose to live in my truth - even when I have to dare myself to do it.

Q: How do you go about creating conscious change in your life?


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sometimes this just sucks rocks...BIG rocks


Sometimes this journey sucks. It just plain sucks...rocks. Big Rocks.

And sometimes I just have to poke fun at myself, like catching myself with the infamous "yeah - but" response to anyone who tried to coax me into looking at the glass half full...

Are you a citizen of the country that speaks "yabut"? ie Yeah - but it won't happen for me because of (fillintheblankcheckhere).

I didn't realize that I was creating my life by accepting the limiting perspective that was given to me by the well intentioned folks who were telling me that "mental illness is for life". I have since learned that I can "write my own check" and make my life what I want it to be - instead of what someone else tells me it is.

Did you know that you can write your own ticket to the city named anywhereintheworld? But you'll have to leave the country of yabut first!

And once I learned to be aware of and to challenge that "glass half full" thinking, I was able to decide that regardless of what others had to say...that I had the power to choose and create my best life each and every day.

If you believe you can - you most likely will. If you believe you can't - you most likely won't.

And it all began with believing there were options other that what I had been told were available to me. The journey has been bumpy for sure on somedays but I am finally the artist and my life is the canvas.

Have fun creating your best life ever today!

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