I Am the Ultimate Optimist

“A feeling or belief that good things will happen in the future : a feeling or belief that what you hope for will happen.” This is how Merriam-Webster Online defines optimism.

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The other day, I said to my husband, “You know, I’m the most optimistic person you’ve ever known.” With a blank stare, he stood there, looking at me. I knew he was thinking, “On what planet are YOU considered optimistic?!”

“Think about it,” I said, “I never give up. I always keep trying to get better.”

He said, “I’d call that persistent, not optimistic.”

I sat for a moment, understanding where he was coming from…19 years of my depression and anxiety affecting our lives for the worse. I knew I had to explain:

“I am persistent because I know there is an outcome that is better than the past. I’m optimistic because, even though there are times I feel as though I’m broken, I stand myself up again and again, fighting for a better tomorrow. Why would I keep trying if I didn’t have HOPE for a better future?”

So, thank you anxiety and depression for teaching me how to be the ultimate optimist.

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Pregnancy & MI: Tenacious Reclamation of My Life

My pregnancy has been a wonderful “tool” to add to my Wellness Toolbox. Being completely responsible for the physical and mental well-being of my child has helped soften many edges of the negative thinking that I suffer from due to my Negativity/Pessimism Schema. While it has certainly been no cure, I find myself falling back upon the most negative of my thinking, “I can’t do this anymore”, “Life is not worth the struggle”, “God, please let me not wake”, etc. less and less. I love my unborn child and want desperately to parent him to become an all-around healthy young man. If I am constantly considering that there are options to life other than living, I do not think I’ll manage my parenting goal. In this way, I am thankful that the reality of my pregnancy has helped refocus, in a healthier manner, the filter through which I interpret thoughts and feel emotions.

That being said (there is always a however, huh?)…

The past few weeks have been LOUSY.

“But Redheadcase, you just talked about how a major difficulty of your MI has grown a bit healthier. Are you grateful for nothing?!” a reader may ask.

That is just the thing…being healthier in any increment does not mean I am at the end of the journey to reclaim my life from MI. I will always be on the road to better mental health and must always remember that there are no quick-fixes or complete goal attainment. Being healthier, whether it be mentally, physically, spiritually, etc. is a lifestyle and not any single choice. Success is not found in a moment or a day, but all those individual moments, days, weeks, months, and years can absolutely add up to a well-adapted, content, and emotionally healthy life for all of us. We just have to accept that we will stumble and fall, make the choice to pick ourselves up when we can, and tenaciously seek help no matter how uncomfortable or hard it may feel. Piece all those battle wins together to claim the victory of the war. =)

_______________

On a side note, I wanted to discuss how the past few weeks have been lousy. Just a few shared experiences and thoughts…

-I have always had much more difficulty with the fluctuation of my mood when I am physically drained and/or hungry. My husband can look at me, seeing me wilt like a flower out of water, saying, “We need to get you something to eat/need to get you some rest because your mood is dropping.” When I am fatigued from a lack of sleep or from running errands or when my blood sugar drops from not having eaten recently enough, I become much more susceptible to the depressions and anxieties of my MI. And I have found that with being pregnant, I wilt at a much more rapid pace, making it harder to catch my decline in time to prevent. I point this out because self-care is of the upmost importance, especially when you are suffering from an illness and ESPECIALLY when you are pregnant, dealing with hormones that fluctuate as they please no matter how carefully you care for yourself. Proper sleep, rest, and diet are essential to an MI-er’s well-being, and we must be willing to tell the people around us that we have to take the time to rest and/or eat. Putting ourselves first is a very good thing because when we are our healthiest for us, we can be at out healthiest for our loved ones. It is a “win-win” for everyone.

-I have really been struggling with feeling useless. (Yea, I am growing a life, yet I feel as though I contribute nothing to anything. 😉  Losing school this semester has really taken a toll on me, as I have discussed in previous posts. I had worked so hard to return to school and to have to stop (again) due to pregnancy-related illness, I find that I feel as though I am good-for-nothing (see how that Negativity/Pessimism Schema sneaks into any crevice of a person’s thinking to try to bring them down?). While I still volunteer at a local hospital, I feel I do little to contribute to my family or the world, in general. This is a thought, and resulting feeling, that I cannot seem to shake. I need a purpose to pursue outside of my home but cannot seem to find one. …Work in progress, right? =)

Well, that is all I have for the moment. I hope this finds everyone feeling well and a little less alone in a world that can feel really lonely. Take care.

AFSP

 

 

 

Out of the Darkness Walks

Walk to Save Lives

Suicide claims more than 38,000 lives each year in the United States alone, with someone dying by suicide every 13.7 minutes. A suicide attempt is made every minute of every day, resulting in nearly one million attempts made annually.

When you walk in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Walks, you join efforts with thousands of people nationwide to raise money for AFSP’s vital research and education programs to prevent suicide and save lives. The walks raise awareness about depression and suicide, and provide comfort and assistance to those who have lost someone to suicide.

SUICIDE CAN BE PREVENTED. YOU CAN HELP. JOIN THE MOVEMENT.

Suicide Prevention

 

 

 

 

Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Get Help

You aren’t alone. No matter who you are or what problems you are struggling with, hurting yourself isn’t the answer. We want to help you find hope.

When Do We Become Responsible for Our Reactions?

A long time ago, I realized that I wanted a better life for myself than I was taught to have. I realized that I wanted to be emotionally healthy, have emotionally healthy reactions, and better recognize & create balance in my life. Though emotionally healthy examples were rarely modeled in my life by family and extended family alike, there came a day when I had to take responsibility to correct the nature of my personality and conditioning I had experienced at the hand of others, if I were to ever get better.

This does not mean that I could not acknowledge the maladaptive family culture in which I grew up in, but I had to begin understanding how I was responsible for my reactions to all the old wounds I carried around. I could no longer blame those who hurt me for the illness I am now healing from; I had to empower myself to rise above those people and experiences. With the help of my therapist, self-education, and sharing my MI journey, I am sloughing off old, maladaptive thought processes and am replacing them with healthy, balanced thought processes that help ease old pains and keep me from allowing new pains to be created. This will be a lifelong process, with battles both won and lost, but with continued effort, the acceptance of my responsibility to get better no matter who caused my issues, and asking how I can be a better version of me tomorrow than I was today, I will win the war.

I am in a war for my life, and I simply refuse to lose by blaming others and refusing to empower myself. I am a redhead…just call me too hardheaded to fail. =)

AFSP

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the nation’s leading organization bringing together people across communities and backgrounds to understand and prevent suicide, and to help heal the pain it causes. Individuals, families, and communities who have been personally touched by suicide are the moving force behind everything we do.

If you’re thinking of hurting yourself, or have days when you feel like you just can’t go on, help is available. We have resources to help you feel better…just click here.

If you’ve lost someone to suicide it may feel like no one understands what you’re going through. But you’re not alone. Others are here to help and support you. Click here to start.

Suicide Prevention

No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.

Mental Illness & Higher Ed Make for Odd (But Helpful) Bedfellows

Going back to college after a LONG break for a few years of depressive “bed rest” has been a challenge. My brain is rusty, my thoughts run rampant, and my time management skills need a lot of fine-tuning.  Simply put, I am really out of the practice of using my brain by choice, versus MI using it to manipulate my emotions and thoughts.

Slowly but surely, I am taking back control of all things Redhead…well, some things, anyway. The most difficult hurdles I have encountered on this intellectual journey, both educational and mental, are the ever-present feelings of having few people to lean on, to talk to and finding the confidence to believe that if I keep sanding away the rust on my brain, I will have something worth working with. Who knew confidence, or a lack thereof, could be such a deal maker or breaker? Multiple-choice tests, short answer essays…no problem. I have those down pat. I have always been a pretty good test taker, but paper-writing is kicking my proverbial butt because anxiety locks my brain through my lack of confidence. I know I can write well enough (as long as I proofread, write multiple drafts, and allow time to walk away from the assignment), but I find myself overthinking and overshooting so often that I have difficulty managing writing down an elementary sentence that simply states the subject of my work, let alone writing a paragraph. The first paper I wrote this semester…oh my. At one point, it took me two and a half hours to write one and a half paragraphs. The rampant thoughts cause me to edit as I write in the hopes that gold will poor forth on my first draft. The lack of confidence and the feeling that I need to overshoot all come back to the BPD and trying to manage validation from professors that I am something other than a soon-to-be-found-out-fraud…a woman who is too old and too rusty to be in school…a woman with nothing unique to add to the academic mix.

This semester has been about putting out one paper-writing fire after the next (anxiety induced by assignments and timeframe pressures), with personal and family medical issues to add a little fuel. But I have been hanging in with each blaze, taking a little bit of new knowledge away from the experience to help me fight the next fire more efficiently. Darn those assignment fires…professors ask too much in expecting work from me. =P The last paper I wrote was a wonderful success. I expected a decent grade but did even better than expected. I was proud that I handled my anxiety by walking away from the assignment when needed and, when it came down to it, accepting that if I worked hard and did my best, my best would be pretty good. Somehow, accepting my hard work as its own validity in my effort to write helped free me from the need to perform at a level that is difficult to manage when I have been out of school for so long, and fight the lies of anxiety and depression, in regards to my ability. I learned more from the process of writing my last paper than I did from the text itself. Maybe I shouldn’t admit that! LOL

I went back to school looking to use it not only as a means to a degree but as a tool in continuing to conquer my MI. With each leap of faith I take in allowing myself to write bubble outlines that are not refined and high-browed (Ooo! I need some Crayolas for my next bubble outline!), I take a step further away from the anxiety depression, and BPD that tell me I am nothing.

I will never be without the experience of MI, but I can, and am, overcoming it each day I work towards my goals.

 

Suicide Prevention

No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.

 

 

 

AFSPThe American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the nation’s leading organization bringing together people across communities and backgrounds to understand and prevent suicide, and to help heal the pain it causes. Individuals, families, and communities who have been personally touched by suicide are the moving force behind everything we do.

  • We strive for a world that is free of suicide.
  • We support research, because understanding the causes of suicide is vital to saving lives.
  • We educate others in order to foster understanding and inspire action.
  • We offer a caring community to those who have lost someone they love to suicide, or who are struggling with thoughts of suicide themselves.
  • We advocate to ensure that federal, state, and local governments do all they can to prevent suicide, and to support and care for those at risk.

And All I Got Was a Learning Disability?

With the start of the school year, I am more active in my reading, writing, and typing. I have realized, from time to time, that I am omitting and/or reversing letters and/or words when I type. I even add words to sentences that do not belong in the sentence. It feels almost as though my brain is working ahead of my fingers, but that doesn’t quite sum up the feeling of unease I get when I proofread and find these mistakes. I do not typically realize I have made them at the time I make them but primarily after I have made them (Say that 3 times fast! LOL). And up until this point, I have only noticed it in my typing, so I was not terribly concerned.

As I sat on my bed tonight, writing notes from my textbook on public policy, I realized, for the first time, that I am making the same omitting and/or reversing of letters and/or words in my writing. I am now scared.

This past Wednesday, having not noticed this phenomenon in my writing before tonight, I spoke with my psychiatrist about the omitting and/or reversing letters and/or words in my typing, explaining also that I sometimes add unnecessary words to sentences. As I finished answering her questions about the specifics of what I am noticing when I omit and/or reverse letters and/or words, she bobbed her head up and down in understanding. She said, “Considering your treatments with ECT, it sounds as though you may have developed a learning disability that we tend to see in young children.” She explained that we had the choice of ordering neuropsychiatric testing to confirm this suspicion but that that would simply lead us to have cause to ask for accommodations in school, which I already have. I told her that I thought this phenomenon sounded like a learning disability but that unless it became an issue with getting my school work done or if it began to quickly develop into something I could not overcome, I would just “keep an eye on it”. But that was before it came out in my writing.

What if years of taking medications to alter my brain’s neurotransmitters and 8 sessions of ECT finally took a toll? Did I have such issues before but was simply in an environment that did not allow for me to use my brain in a manner that expressed this issue? After all, I have been very limited in my functioning for almost 5 years. But in that time, I certainly typed and wrote and even attended a semester of university classes in which I did quite well (we won’t include the math class I failed =). If this isn’t new, why did I not notice until recently? Until after the ECT?

I wouldn’t change any of the treatment options I have participated in because, after all, I have no idea what treatment or combination of treatments have quickened my pace in recovery over the past year, evident in becoming employed, becoming an suicide prevention advocate, and attending school. I have literally gone from 0 to 30 in one year…as in 0 to 60. Duh! LOL

I desperately want to know what has caused this unofficial-official difficulty, but I know I will never really have an answer as to its origins. I must simply accept, adapt, and move on towards tomorrow. I just wish I felt that hopeful at the moment. Sisyphus can have his Darn Rock!

Getting Better Means I Cannot Run Away

I have never much been afraid to face and confront the reasons why I developed mental illness. In fact, anger, confusion, and the feeling of having no control over my life have continued to motivate my need to deal with and accept my illness. After all, if I am unwilling to face the difficult truths of my life by actively challenging them and all the pain they cause, how can I ever hope to become better?

I recently had my first session in Experiential Therapy (EP), “…a role play method through which past, present and future issues can be resolved and when combined with more traditional modalities serves to elicit material from the unconscious that allows one to fill in perceptual, cognitive and emotional gaps. Material that has been out-of-vision can come to the surface where it can be worked through and seen in a new light. (It has a) unique ability to give voice to hidden wounds has…”. I am the first to admit, when my therapist introduced the concept of EP to me, it conjured “wacky” Freudian ideas (not that EP is Psychoanalytic in nature). I wondered how concepts like Empty Chair work (ECW) could possibly be adapted into my respect for Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). However, having a very sensible (she knew how silly I felt “talking to myself”), well-educated, and experienced therapist, I was able to participate in my first session with great success, allowing my walls against “wacky” therapies to lower themselves a bit, leaving myself open to the possibility that EP has value in my therapeutic journey.

To keep it simple and to scare away as few readers as possible (LOL), I will not describe the ECW in too much detail because…well, you WILL think it sounds quite reaching in terms of validity and value.  Anyhoo…ECW allowed me to reconnect to a lot of the emotions I had as a child, the time in my life when I began developing the maladaptive schemas that I am now unlearning.

I always knew I felt invalidated as a child but until this session, I never realized how deeply that invalidation had sunk itself into my everything.  I came away from the session understanding that, as a child just trying to find her way through the world the best she sad childcould, I was quite often marginalized for simply being a child; my emotions were too childish, my coping abilities immature, and my capacity to understand anything…deficient. In other words, I was invalidated and belittled for not being an adult. (What a shock that I might be childish, immature, right? Geesh.)

I found myself crying for that little girl, the little girl who did not have the age and experience to give her the language to express how she felt and how very wrong adults were to criticize her for her youth. I felt sorry for her constant state of confusion, her continuous wondering as to why she never seemed to be able to please the village of adults around her. I was devastated when I realized how she internalized all that negative interaction into one question, “What is wrong with me?” I cried because she knew more about the world than adults ever gave her credit for, recognized how child-like adults actually were, and how amazingly strong she was to never stop trying to understand and improve her life.

I could have been very afraid to try a new-to-me “wacky” therapy.

I could have refused to face the emotions that came from it.

But had I run from those things, how could I ever hope to become better.

If you feel you are in a crisis, whether or not you are thinking about killing yourself, please call the Lifeline. People have called us for help with substance abuse, economic worries, relationship and family problems, sexual orientation, illness, getting over abuse, depression, mental and physical illness, and even loneliness.

No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.

 

AFSP

 

 

 

 

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the nation’s leading organization bringing together people across communities and backgrounds to understand and prevent suicide, and to help heal the pain it causes. Individuals, families, and communities who have been personally touched by suicide are the moving force behind everything we do.

  • We strive for a world that is free of suicide.
  • We support research, because understanding the causes of suicide is vital to saving lives.
  • We educate others in order to foster understanding and inspire action.
  • We offer a caring community to those who have lost someone they love to suicide, or who are struggling with thoughts of suicide themselves.
  • We advocate to ensure that federal, state, and local governments do all they can to prevent suicide, and to support and care for those at risk.

I Am Judgmental and I Am Pretty Enough for Ravishing Red!

As I have admitted in a previous post, Hell Hath No Fury Like A Woman…With BPD!!!, I am terribly sensitive to rejection, have low emotional stress tolerance, and fear abandonment on many, many levels (abandonment is not just about physical abandonment but emotional abandonment and invalidation). Can you smell the vulnerability?! Most days, even when I am feeling well and in charge of my emotions, a sense of vulnerability sits in a little box on a shelf in my mind, reminding me that it’s presence is with me. And all that vulnerability is tied to feeling vulnerable to my relationships with the people of the world.

In Borderline Personality in the Medical Setting: Unmasking and Managing the Difficult Patient, Randy A. Sansone and Lori A. Sansone assert that BPD “…individuals appear to be exquisitely sensitive and responsive to both internal and external stimuli.” “As we have previously described in patients with BPD,” “…there is a heightened awareness and scanning of the external surroundings; this state of heightened external alertness may explain the seemingly exquisite interpersonal sensitivity of these patients…”. (I simply copied and pasted that quote, so do not sue me if the quotations are incorrect! LOL) I find this assertion to be amazing because I could never put into words (to my satisfaction) how sensitive I am to both internal and internal stimuli, nor able to describe how hyper-aware I am of my surroundings (regarding people, mostly), constantly analyzing all the options of what people MAY be thinking about me. And this is where I become judgmental. Making any sense yet?

Being judgmental is a defense mechanism (a maladaptive one, at that!) that says, “You fear rejection, do not deal well with the emotional stress that comes with rejection, cower in the face of any sort of abandonment & invalidation, and just feel vulnerable in general. Why allow others to beat you to the punch? JUDGE THEM FIRST and then they cannot judge you!”

Too bad nothing that sounds so easy is ever that easy…

Basically, it is a snowball effect…I fear the judgment of others, so I judge first, but because I am judging others, I assume they are doing the same to me! Crazee!!! I know.

The problem is that beyond the moral implications, being judgmental is unhealthy and eventually eats away at everything light and good in my soul. It eventually:

  1. creates stereotypes which causes an entirely new blog subject (I am currently afraid to death of looking like a “stereotypical southern woman”…unkempt hair, wears clothes that do not fit one way or another, and wears pajama pants to go shopping. And I am not referring to the care that money can buy. I am not talking about an expectation to wear make-up, hair fresh from the salon, or clothes from a fancy store. Lord knows many people do not have the money to visit salons or buy name brand clothing. It is about looking like I do not care enough to, well… care.  I feel like I am digging a hole. Oy.)
  2. makes me fear people even more (like I need THAT!)
  3. makes me more emotionally reactive than I already am (Why did you look at my toes?! You think I am not pretty enough for red nail polish, right?! I knew I was not worthy of Ravishing Red!)
  4. and the list goes on and on and on. Oh…the constant dialogue I have in my head! =)

I guess I am sharing this because I know I tend to handle an issue better when I admit it out-right, rather than admit it to myself and then try to handle it on my own. Somehow, handling issues on my own never works our for me…or anyone else, really.

There is freedom in saying, “I am ___.” No if, ands, or buts…just admission of who we are, who we want to be, and how we are trying to get there.

Please do not judge me! Bahahaha!!!

Sansone RA, Sansone LA. Borderline Personality in the Medical Setting. Unmasking and Managing the Difficult Patient. New York: Nova Science Publishers; 2007.

If you feel you are in a crisis, whether or not you are thinking about killing yourself, please call the Lifeline at  1-800-273-TALK (8255). People have called us for help with substance abuse, economic worries, relationship and family problems, sexual orientation, illness, getting over abuse, depression, mental and physical illness, and even loneliness.

AFSPThe American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the nation’s leading organization bringing together people across communities and backgrounds to understand and prevent suicide, and to help heal the pain it causes. Individuals, families, and communities who have been personally touched by suicide are the moving force behind everything we do.

  • We strive for a world that is free of suicide.
  • We support research, because understanding the causes of suicide is vital to saving lives.
  • We educate others in order to foster understanding and inspire action.
  • We offer a caring community to those who have lost someone they love to suicide, or who are struggling with thoughts of suicide themselves.
  • We advocate to ensure that federal, state, and local governments do all they can to prevent suicide, and to support and care for those at risk.