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Kids, Kids, Kids…Prayer

07/29/2013

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As your children are growing up, you think once I get through these crazy teen years and they are adults my parenting will go away or at least less intense. I think it gets harder, especially when you can see that they are hurting themselves and/or their kids and you are basically powerless to help or initiate change. I watch in fear, fear that my grandkids or my child will be hurt, psychologically or physically or both. I do not want my grandchild to come to me and say “Grandma you knew this might happen and didn’t stop it, why?” Why? Because although I am aware of the possibility, my hands are tied because your mom and dad are still your parents right now and they feel that they are making the right decisions to keep you safe. Child Protective Services seems to be in agreement at this point and unless things change there is nothing more I can do but keep a close eye on you and watch how you are acting carefully.

I was given the advice to let this go and put it in the Lord’s hands, that if it is to be prevented, he has the ultimate power not me. I was told to pray and turn it over to him and then ask him to see what I need to see, hear what I need to hear and understand what I need to do.

 

Pray–I think I have said this here on the blog before–if only it was that simple for me. I have severe trust issues, especially with men. I do not believe that I am worthy or deserving to pray and have prayers answered. I feel like I need to be in control, then only I can disappoint myself. Hence the difficulty in praying. Oh yes, there is that intellectual part of my brain that says this is all rubbish. The emotional side overrides that and takes over, I know practice the skills I have been showed and taught to help override this fear, somehow all it does is make me want to run. Run as fast as I can, as far as I can and hide. Good old flight or fight response.

 

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Cognitive Dissonance

07/16/2013

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Dissonance, sounds negative, like being dissed (Acting or speaking in a disrespectful way toward others.) At least that is what comes to mind for me when I hear that word. I don’t even immediately hear the word cognitive before it, my mind directly jumps to dissonance. In the phrase cognitive dissonance, dissonance is used to mean the inconsistency between the beliefs one holds or between one’s actions and one’s beliefs. Add the word cognitive, meaning–pertaining to the act or process of knowing, perceiving, remembering, etc. So combining the words into the phrase cognitive dissonance based on the two individual definitions I come to a single definition–knowing or perceiving the inconsistency between what one believes and what one does.

According to Wikipedia “In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the discomfort experienced when simultaneously holding two or more conflicting cognitions: ideas, beliefs, values or emotional reactions.” On About.com psychology site it states “The term cognitive dissonance is used to describe the feeling of discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs.” Basically the same definition, with a little more specific examples of cognitions.

About.com also states: “When there is a discrepancy between beliefs and behaviors, something must change in order to eliminate or reduce the dissonance.” So, what must change? Either our belief or our behavior must change. We must decide if our belief is unrealistic, too extreme to be possible to attain, is it our belief or is it someone else’s that we have been forced or coerced into accepting? Or, we must change our behavior so both our belief and behavior are in line with one another. An important factor when looking at this is that our behavior does not have to be 100% in line with our belief. Maybe 80% is sufficient. Maybe 90% or even only 60%. Remember perfection is not possible, if it were, there would be no reason to be here on earth. Only one person on this earth has been perfect.

By virtue of my religion which I believe in, I should not drink, period. there is not a clause in it that says only on special occasions, or one drink a week is ok, or when you go out with friends go ahead and be drink because it is socially acceptable to do so. Any time I may take a drink, I cause cognitive dissonance. My behavior (taking a drink) is not aligned with my belief (that I should not drink at all). In order to resolve the dissonance I either must not drink or change how I feel about drinking. In this example the answer is black and white. I will or I will not drink, unless for example, I change my belief to 1 drink per week is ok. I will not cause cognitive dissonance if I have 1 drink or less per week.

I believe that for my health I should exercise 5 days a week for an hour each day. If I look at this belief and say that 45 minutes one day would cause me to have failed to meet my belief I will cause myself to feel cognitive dissonance. Is it necessary to cause this discomfort over 15 minutes? I don’t think so. I am happy with achieving 75% to 80% of this goal. In my life this doesn’t have to be black and white, there is gray area here. What if I only do 40% of the goal/belief? I am learning it is not the end of the world and next week I will try to do better. My discomfort is there when I only meet 40%, but at a lower level.

You do not have to have a mental illness to have cognitive dissonance in your life. Everyone does, whether it is recognized or not. I am acutely aware of it because of how my brain sees and interprets things due to my mental illnesses. I have dissonance that is out of proportion to the general population. My world is so black and white, I expect so much from myself, too much in fact. I experience discomfort at the slightest “infraction”. A level of discomfort so high that for example, based on belief about alcohol, be saved for getting drunk, or drinking daily rather than say one drink a month.

A lot of my cognitive dissonance is directly related to my cognitive distortions. From feeling shame when it is not necessary. Raising my stress

Another View on Coping Skills for Depression

06/22/2013

I would like to share a site I found while looking for some coping skills that would move me away from where I am at right now. I came across this site and really liked it. Please take a look, and let me know and let the author know what you think. http://weatheringthestormbp.com/2013/02/18/coping-with-bipolar-depression/

I hope the link works, if not here is the post:

February 18, 2013 · 1:19 AM

Coping With Bipolar Depression

Bipolar disorder can often be a complex illness to live with. At certain points, the depression may become too overwhelming and the mania may escalate too far to be able to cope successfully. Sometimes it’s too late to take back what has been said or done and that can be a frightening experience. The key to coping with bipolar disorder successfully is to try to catch and prevent the mood from escalating any further. At first, it may not seem so simple, but it takes time, patience, and a little practice. It requires taking a step back and looking within and identifying what is going on in the mind and to look for any noticeable patterns in the moods.

Those who live with bipolar disorder won’t all experience the same symptoms in the same way, therefore, not every coping strategy or tools will be effective for everyone.

Coping With Depression:

Photo by: imagerymajestic

It can almost seem impossible to think of how to help yourself when you’re in a depressed state when nothing seems to be going right in the first place. Sometimes all you want to do is just lie down, cry, scream, or take a few moments to recover and that is perfectly okay. It is okay to lay down, rest, and have a good cry. It can be rather soothing and healthy as well. When it comes to coping with depression, it can be complicated because not all coping tools will work in certain situations. For example, a tool that helped a depression episode last week, may not work as well for this week’s episode.

Some Questions To Keep In Mind:

Can you tell when your moods have suddenly shifted?


Are you able to catch yourself and cope before it escalates any further? Maybe you’ve notice that all of a sudden your thoughts have turned negative, or that you’ve suddenly become irritable or emotional. Try to look for the first big clue that would give you an idea that a depression episode has begun. After you have identified the mood change, act quickly using some coping skills. Try not to let it escalate as best you can.


Did something trigger this episode? Was it random?


What would help you calm down or feel better? Speak what works. Share your feelings. If no one is around, write them down.


Is it serious enough to call your doctor and inform him/her? It is generally always important to keep your doctor up to date with your mood patterns. It may be worth calling your doctor if the episodes keep recurring and are interfering with your daily life. Need a great mood chart and symptom tracker? Check out Patients Like Me. I highly recommend it!

Coping Skills For Depression:

First, figure out what would help you the most. What do you need? What would help you feel better? If it means lying down and doing nothing at all, then do that. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable and safe.

Take deep, relaxing breaths. Slowly in through your nose, out through your mouth. Remember to breathe slowly.


If at work or in class, get up, take walk, or excuse yourself to the restroom for a few minutes. Take a break.


Try using positive self-talk. Try to talk yourself down. Examples: “Everything will be okay.” “Hang in there.” “This too shall pass.” “The depression doesn’t last.” etc. This usually helps. Keep repeating if you need to.


Lie down and listen to music.


Watch a favorite movie or TV show.


Go outside and take a walk. Get some sun.


Exercise or do some yoga. Do some stretches and workouts to overcome the feelings of tension. Remember to breathe.


Lie down and rest with the lights off or with candles.


Take a relaxing bubble bath with candle light.


Talk with a counselor, trusted friend, family member, or your partner.


Snuggle or lie down with a pet. A cats purr and a dog’s love and loyalty can be quite soothing.


Do something you love to do. Draw, write, make crafts, or paint.


Play video games.


Squeeze a stress ball.

■Sing! Believe it or not, singing is a positive activity because it reduces negative thinking. When you sing, you aren’t focusing on the negative thoughts, you are focusing on the words and the act of singing itself. (I love to sing even though I’m not good at it. It just makes me feel better and helps.)

For more tips on how to handle depression, please visit: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_tips.htm

Coping skills for anxiety and mania coming soon.

Good Stress, Bad Stress, Good Girl, Bad Girl

06/07/2013

Stress, we all have it in our lives, be it good or bad our bodies react to it. How we react and deal with it varies widely from person to person. The skills we use to cope may be beneficial or harmful to our mental or physical health. Not everyone learned to handle stress in healthy ways. Some of us do fine with good stress–a new baby, a raise, a child getting married, the electric bill going down. Some people handle bad stress better, natural disasters, a traffic ticket, burnt dinner or a broken down car. Our bodies act and react based on our past history and skills we have been taught and incorporated into our lives. Handling the situation in the moment can often lead to a delayed reaction once the stressors have passed. I’ll share here how I do and don’t handle stress in my life.

I am one of those people who whiz through and deal with what is going on seemingly well. From the outside I look calm and collected. When the crisis has passed or the newness of a positive stress is over I tend to fall apart. And, I mean really fall apart. When I fall apart I often do things that will later come back to haunt me, causing guilt and shame and regret.

I have lots of 3×5 cards, hand written notes, half sheets of paper of things to do when I feel overwhelmed. I know what I should do, I know what I shouldn’t do. What do I do? 95% of the time I an unable to use these valuable resources. My old coping skills kick in and override the voice of caution.

If you have read other posts, you will know that I am an Adult Survivor of Childhood Abuse. It is a lengthy post but will give you background for understanding where my coping skills originate from.

Skip this if you are triggered by or do not want to read about sexually based coping skills. I will start with a row of asterisks followed by several blank lines and end with the same.

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My go to relief of pent-up stress and tension tends to be sexual in nature. I know that in the long run I will eventually regret my actions, but in the short-term I don’t care. I’ve said before I would rather have temporary relief than no relief at all. When I get to this point I feel that there is no going back. hate to use a catch phrase, but until it “runs its course” I don’t seem to be mentally strong enough to pull myself out of the darkness.

I have bladder issues, potentially from the abuse. I have had surgery to repair it, but it was only partially successful. Often in times of high stress I will wake up having wet the bed, or find myself unable to control my bladder. This combined with the early mental conditioning, grooming or brainwashing, whatever you want to call it, can lead to heightened sexual arousal. I was taught that it felt good, to pee in inappropriate places, and to wet my pants and to wear a diaper. These things lead to a need to relieve the sexual tension in my body. Rather than do it in healthy ways (I am married so I do have this outlet available without breaking the law of chastity) I choose to take care of it myself. I will masturbate daily, a proven self-soothing technique in my formative years. I will read erotica, read about masturbation, scour the internet for explanations for why this happens to me and end up at websites that do not answer this question, exposing myself often to pornographic pictures, further feeding this need/desire to masturbate.

Notice I said choose. I realize that there is a choice, not that I am always in a place mentally and emotionally to make a good choice. My world becomes black and white, I am either good or bad. There are no shades of grey. And to my mind, illogical as it might seem to a “normal” person, once I have stepped into this other realm of coping I might as well dive in because I have already blown my time of being good. And if I am not being good, I might as well enjoy being bad. Totally wrong my logical mind says, absolutely right that other corner of my brain says. I feel as if I have no choice. In a way I don’t. I have given control of my life over to someone/something else.

 

 

 

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When I try to dig myself out of this vast canyon of despair and self-depreciation I have to admit I cannot do it alone. I realize at some point I must go back to my therapist and work through the pain. Work through the guilt and the shame. Allow myself to be a good person again. To make healthy choices. To feel spiritual. To feel worthy of the love from family and friends. I have once again put up a brick wall and walled myself in. I have to, one by one, brick by brick, dismantle this wall. Oh, it is so easy to sit here and type this. Action requires so much strength. My plan of action has to must be put in place. I sit here willing myself to use my plan. Rely on that part of my brain that says I can be forgiven, I can feel loved and worthy. Letting that part of my brain once again take over.

I must tell myself that once again I can put this behind me. That I can use self-soothe and calm myself in ways that make me feel happy and good about myself. Reminding myself that I am able to go longer and longer in between these periods of slipping up. As my therapist reminded me, this behavior was a “normal” part of my life for so, I have to override the need to hurt myself! I look forward to the day that I will be able to handle stress without going to this dark place. That healthy habits will come naturally. I must remember that I am worth it!

 

 

 

Procrastination–It’s just not me, and man it sucks!

05/16/2013

I hate to procrastinate, I love to have done things before it becomes a mad scramble, squeezing every ounce of myself to complete something. Yet, as I sit here with a list a mile long to get ready for my daughters graduation party and realize my moods have affected my motivation to have more done at this point, I am not even working at it this moment.

Oh my list, first of all, how did I think I would finish everything? Oh yes, I remember now, I was semi-manic and it seemed quite possible, not even quite possible definitely possible with lots of time to spare.

What happened? Life happened. Grown kids had crisis’ and you don’t stop parenting just because they hit 18. I think it actually gets harder. There were also joyous moments that filled me with good stress. But, I hate stress!

I hate, hate, hate the position I have put myself in. I hate that the person who was going to help with the last-minute details has bailed. I must plow through, Create a new plan of action, a way to push a weeks worth of preparing into less than two days.

Being stressed is leaving me paralyzed! Or running around like a wild child, who is supposed to be cleaning their room. I don’t know where to start, I need to stay focused on one task at a time. I needed to allow myself these precious minutes to rant, hoping that if I get these feelings out of my head there will be room for a revised plan, So I am telling myself to get up and start something!

Excuse any typing, spelling or grammar issues. I have just decided to not take the time to go over this post right now. I will get up and do something before heading out the door to the Dr. and the store.

To Disclose or Not to Disclose…that is the question that is bothering me

03/06/2013

I don’t know about you, but I come across specialists that will talk to you about your physical ailments and what is going on and their ideas for treatment when you first meet them, then the hammer drops…they look at your chart for what medications you are taking and all of a sudden you no longer have a problem, you are just crazy. Has this happened to you?

I have something wrong with my lungs that has been a mystery to a number of doctors. It is apparent on CT scans, so there is “proof” that something is wrong, that it isn’t all in my head. Yet, as they go through my list of meds or the boxes I have checked about depression, anxiety or psychiatric treatment, suddenly that weighs more than the diagnostic tests that are totally unrelated to my mental illnesses.

It is very hard for me to hold it together and not start crying when once again my symptoms are chalked up to “being all in my head”. I try to stay composed and state clearly that I am here because of the issue with my lungs. I am not here to debate whether I am able to differentiate between real and imagined ailments. I so wish it was all in my head, right now it would be easier to treat. At least I would have an answer, an answer that has deluded many pulmonologists. I get frustrated, I get angry, I begin to question myself, I stop going to try to find out what is wrong.

After seeing several doctors and being brushed off as crazy, I had a heart to heart talk with my primary care doctor. I could do this because she has been my doctor for 23 years. She has been there through thick and thin. She has watched me go from denial to acceptance. She was ecstatic for me the first time I was able to go in and say the words I am depressed again and we need to do something. Not “I don’t feel well”, “I have a sore throat”, or “sinus infection” and letting her say the words, her asking about my moods and what was really going on, knowing that in my own way I was asking for help. Now, I can’t hide much from her, she can look into my eyes or look at my body language and know if I am ok or not. We discussed what I was experiencing when I would go to another doctor and get brushed off once they found out I have Bipolar Disorder, anxiety, or PTSD. She asked me to stand tall and be a voice for those of us who have mental and physical illnesses. To help educate those doctors and spread the word that it is possible to have a physical as well as a mental illness. Was she kidding? Me, do that?

A decision was made. I would go see a new doctor that she had listened to at a seminar and she thought he could help me. I would not fully disclose my medications or mental illnesses at first. I would allow the doctor to evaluate me as if I had no mental illness at the first visit. I would hopefully get an unbiased evaluation. At the next visit I would give a complete list of medications when they reviewed my medication list. If asked why I didn’t list everything I would be honest and say that I wanted my diagnosis to be based on my physical symptoms, not tainted by the shadow of mental illness.

I have tried this, sometimes it does not change a thing in how I am treated. Not surprising, other times it is as if a switch had been flipped and now anything they already said or diagnosed was now incorrect. I never returned to those doctors, instead I went back to my primary care doctor for her to treat me or for us to find another specialist to try.

I now find myself once again in the quandary of whether to disclose or not to disclose. After the last doctor tried very hard for two years to find the cause of my problems, I myself began to question if it was in my head. I stopped going in for visits, determined to will it away. Unfortunately you cannot will away something that is real. Of course now I am once again sick enough to not have a choice but to seek the help of a specialist. I am going to Mayo Clinic this time to hopefully once and forever get to the bottom of this. The problem is, I sit here with the paperwork they have sent for me to fill out. Along with it is a whole brochure on how important it is for them to know every medication, every vitamin or supplement you are taking, that they want to make sure there is not a contraindication for taking a combination of them. Also to make sure when they prescribe something there is no adverse interaction.  With it so clearly laid out in front of me, I am afraid that if I am not upfront in the first place they will not continue to see me. I am equally afraid that if I am upfront that I will be dismissed with a slap on my wrist for bothering them with symptoms that I have conjured up in my mind.

Oh, what to do…

Being Lost in Different Ways

02/15/2013

I wanted to write some thoughts following our RS lesson today. Yes, I actually went, marking my name in the roll book; I realized that it had been some time since I had attended RS. That really is besides the point…

It is Fast Sunday so the lesson was taken from the last conference issue of the Ensign. The Lesson was taken from the talk given by Elder Wirthlin entitled Concern for the One.  It sure caught my attention in a good and a bad way. I really wish I was one of the visitors there so I could have commented anonymously and five some insight to those in my ward that just don’t seem to “get it” and also to share a story on a positive note.

First, I will share a quote from the talk —

“Today I would like to talk about those who are lost—some because they are different, some because they are weary, and some because they have strayed.

Some are lost because they are different. They feel as though they don’t belong. Perhaps because they are different, they find themselves slipping away from the flock. They may look, act, think, and speak differently than those around them and that sometimes causes them to assume they don’t fit in. They conclude that they are not needed.

Tied to this misconception is the erroneous belief that all members of the Church should look, talk, and be alike……….

Many feel discouraged because they have not measured up to their potential. Others simply feel too weak to contribute. And so, as the flock moves on, gradually, almost imperceptibly, some fall behind………..

………… Some are lost because they have strayed. Except for the Lord, we have all made mistakes. The question is not whether we will trip and fall but, rather, how will we respond? Some, after making mistakes, stray from the fold. This is unfortunate. Do you not know that the Church is a place for imperfect people to gather together—even with all their mortal frailties—and become better?………

This really got me to thinking about my life and how I have been “lost” for so long. I have been lost for all three reasons that Elder Wirthlin stated. Most of the time because of all of them at the same time, other times it has only been one or two, but still enough to keep me from church, but even more importantly away from my Heavenly Father, from Jesus, from a testimony, from hope. I can’t say how long I have even longed to know what it was that was “wrong” with me, why couldn’t I just go, just believe, just belong. I just fell further and further behind everyone else, including my own children and husband (who has only been a member for 8 years and I am the one that is a “lifetime” member). The words I heard today were a wonderful insight into myself, feelings I had actually being put into words, I wanted to shout “see you guys, I am not alone in how I feel, yes, in our “perfect” ward, people like me exist, sitting back here in the corner, alone, when I am able to drag myself here” I didn’t/don’t have the strength to say it, and may never will.

The precursor to all this is the time I have taken for myself over the last two months to really self evaluate what I wanted as far as church membership. I didn’t know if I wanted to “belong” or not. I was terrified to open and read any scriptures, I felt “unworthy” to pray. I don’t know exactly how or when, but some peace came to me and about the same time I found a book called The Book of Mormon Made Easy kind of a book for “dummies”. It took weeks to buy it and longer to open it, I have now read some, and actually had it make some sort of sense, more than just random letters and words on a page.

My RS president gave a plea for everyone to help find the “lost souls” amongst the sisters in our ward. She read the following quote from Elder Wirthlin’s talk.

I know that each of you bears a concern for a loved one. Give encouragement, service, and support to them. Love them. Be kind to them. In some cases, they will return. In others, they will not. But in all cases, let us ever be worthy of the name we take upon ourselves, even that of Jesus Christ.

I wanted to stand up and tell the story of my now friend ( one of several that I consider my best friends), my then RS president when I moved here in 2001. I wanted to tell them of how far from the gospel I felt then, how nasty I was. She came to my house to visit me, I basically shut the door on her, she called, she visited or at least attempted to. I don’t remember or know how long she tried, that part isn’t important. Somehow we became friends (part of which is another story) and I asked her how in the world she stuck with it when I was so horrible to her. She told me that she didn’t even remember how I treated her, she remembered the love she was inspired to give me. By the time I was ready to accept this, our ward had been split and I was left feeling lost again. The point of this is how much that concern meant and still means to me. She along with another friend still continue to love me when I once again become lost. I have accepted the fact that we are in different wards, in fact it gives us a chance to spend more time with each other as it has to be planned. But, not always planned, sometimes that knock at the door or phone call that I didn’t know I needed. Indeed, my true friends!

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