B is for

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I don’t like the ‘B’ word.  I don’t like it because I’m horrible at it.  My husband’s middle name should be ‘B’.  He knows how to ‘B’ his life very well.  I believe you have to be born with the capability to ‘B’ everything.  I blame it on my Mom because she’s not very good at it either; however, she is getting much better!  I seem to be getting worse.  I am not sure if my mental illness heightens my inability to ‘B’ anything in life or if it is my anxiety or both.  All I know is that it is something I struggle with all the time.     B is for BALANCE!

I thought I would write about this right now because it’s very timely.  I have had 2 very interesting weeks.  I believe I am being challenged with a lot of new things and I don’t really know how to deal with them.  Unfortunately, I live with a high amount of anxiety during this time.  I do not get very much accomplished because I start things and never finish them.  I move on to another project thinking that it is more important than the last one.  Of course, I can only do this for so long and then I fall apart.  My husband knows this cycle very well so, he is vigilant in trying to keep the ‘to-do’ list reasonable and spread out over time.  It is very hard to slow down an anxious person in overdrive.  I have a lot of practicing to do!

The ‘B’ word is important at all times in life not just when you are trying to deal with new things.  My parents and my sister’s kids are coming to visit at the end of the week.  I am very excited; however, it is always difficult for me when people come to visit.  It is also difficult for me when we travel.  I feel so much turmoil because I do not want to miss out on life; yet, home is where I am most comfortable!  I am so blessed to have a family that understands.  They are all very patient and are willing to work with me.  My parents and the kids were supposed to come on Tuesday but since I was having a challenging week they offered to come on Thursday.  They will stay with me 2 days instead of 4 days.  I’m so glad that they were able and to change their schedules.  May I consider balance?  I know it can be very difficult to tell people how you are feeling.  My family continues to tell me that they appreciate knowing how I’m feeling.  My family is going to laugh when they read this because I have a terrible time with it but, it does not have to be all or nothing!

I’ve also learned that it is OK to say that you need to lie down.  I do this all the time.  My niece and nephew have become very familiar with Aunt Janet’s naps.  They’ve been keeping track on how long the naps are and what time I get up in the morning.  I should clarify that this is only when we are together!  Now, my nephew is less than a year away from being a teenager!  I don’t think I am going to be the one sleeping the most anymore!!

Take care of yourself.  The sooner you let people know what is comfortable and what the limitations, the sooner you can find ‘B’ in your life!

Purse And Heel

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I’m still here!  I have been working the last several days on my next entry!  Unfortunately, my process of writing is not very conducive to blogging.  I usually start with notes, lots of notes that then turn into notes I can use for other entries.  It is side tracking 101!  I become very excited about all the ideas and possibilities that I can’t slow down my thoughts.  I get nervous because I have not posted anything on the blog.  Then as the nervousness raises the writing process slows down.  I become very tired!  This type of process does not only happen when I write, it is a way of life for me.    I have been learning how to recognize when it is happening, take a step back, take a deep breath, and try those baby steps.

Here it goes….

Purse and Heel is the name of my very small business.  When I was diagnosed with a mental illness, my life was turned upside down.  Everything that my husband and I planned for our future, location, occupation, and family was ruined.  As time passed, I discovered new interests.  I learned I enjoyed making handmade gift cards and gift bags.  When I first started, I made many different types and styles.  For the past couple years, I have kept to a particular niche!  A niche I must admit I know pretty well!  All of my cards and gift bags have purses and shoes.  I had been struggling with naming my business for a long time.  I thought that “purse” is very close to “nurse” and a shoe has a “heel” which is very close to “heal”.  The making of the cards and bags play a very large part in the healing and management of my mental illness.  I hope that when you see Purse and Heel, it will first make you smile; you can never have enough purses or shoes and then bring a sense of comfort.  All the proceeds from the cards and gift bags go to One Mind Mental Illness Ministry.  We hope to have the Purse and Heel Web Site up and running soon, stay tuned!

Full Disclosure?

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I was telling my husband about an entry I wrote a few days ago and he responded with “so, you lied!”  I was dumbfounded.  I didn’t lie.  I really do use crossword puzzles to distract me from my negative thoughts.  My husband agreed and then told me that I did not do crossword puzzles that day.  It’s hard to admit but, he’s right!  This little exchange made me think about how often we all tweak stories to sound more favorable or omit things to avoid confrontation.  I was good at this in therapy sessions and I know I am not the only one!

I set up the blog hoping that people would find it a safe place to open-up and be honest.  And, here I am editing entries before posting them.  I am attributing my “structured” entries to my experiences and fears of psycho-therapy.  I have been known to cancel therapy appointments because I don’t feel well.  When I don’t feel well it is more difficult to put on a face.  I know my actions defeat the purpose; however, the fear of being judged is very powerful!  I thought by providing anonymity with the blog it would be easy to be honest.  What I am learning is honesty is difficult.  Right now, I am making the conscious decision to be honest and straightforward in my entries.  I realize it will be difficult; however, I know it is important.  I really do hope you will be able to find the blog a safe place to be honest, too.  I believe it is an important part of our healing process.  My husband and I chose the notebook paper background so we all could think of the blog as a journal.  I’m ready, are you with me?   

Now for my first act of full disclosure, I will tell you what my husband said I “lied” about.  In the “Why? Part II” entry I said that I worked on my puzzle books to help distract the on-going negative thoughts I was having that day.  In reality, I did not have enough concentration to do puzzles.  I was also feeling extremely jittery.  I went outside to do some yard work.  By going outside I was taking myself away from clocks, too.  I wanted desperately to make time go by faster.  All I wanted to do was get through the day as quickly as possible!  I just knew this time I was going to go to bed and wake-up feeling great!

It Is What It Is!

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Last week, I told my husband that I wanted the tone of the blog to be positive and uplifting.  Right after I told him, there was a long pause followed by a hesitant okay.  I was hurt.  I had expected a favorable response.  I began to think about his hesitation and realized that it is important to be positive however it is also important to be real.  It is what it is!  

When our family decided to embark on our adventure with One Mind Mental Illness Ministry, the first order of business was to find out if there was a need.  We knew in our hearts there was a need.   But, were people ready?  Were people prepared and willing to take the step of publicly admitting the need?  We scheduled an informational meeting to be held at my parent’s home church.  An ad was sent to local churches for their bulletins.  The ad gave the time, the place, and stated everyone welcome.  We were really excited with the turnout.  We took the interruptions of trying to find more chairs as a good sign!  We walked away from the informational meeting feeling encouraged and heartbroken at the same time.  We were encouraged by the number of people who came forward.  However, at the same time, we also realized how many people are suffering. 

At the 2nd meeting the main topic of discussion became the name for the group.  Now, just to clarify, the name was for the group that was forming at my parent’s home church not for my family’s ministry.  The discussion boiled down to two words, Health and Illness.  Were we going to use Mental Health or Mental Illness in the name?  A majority of the group was adamant on using Mental Health.  There was a consensus that Mental Illness, due to its negative nature, would deter people from participating in the group.  This discussion went on for weeks. 

In order for those of us who are diagnosed with a mental illness to move through our healing process we need to accept our illness.  I had one of my therapists tell me that I do not only need to accept my illness, I also need to embrace it!  I strongly believe that if all of us with mental illness, along with our families, friends, doctors, therapists, public officials, researchers and more, continue to succumb to peer pressure and refer to mental illness as mental health we will only fuel the stigma machine.  I do not have a diagnosis of a mental health.  It is what it is!

Why? Part II

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After I finished writing “Why?”, I did lay down to take a nap.  I slept for about 45 minutes.  I woke up feeling rested; however, I was still very melancholy.  During these episodes of emptiness, it is common for me to have on-going, snowballing, negative thoughts running through my head.  When this starts happening, I need to distract myself from my thoughts.  I find crossword puzzles, sudoku puzzles, and word searches very helpful.  You can buy a book of puzzles at Target for $1!  I have had days when all I accomplished was puzzles.  I need to continually remind myself that it’s OK!  It’s actually better than OK!

Why?

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I am writing today not because I have a great story to tell or because I have a small piece of wisdom I want to pass along but because I’m overwhelmed with sadness.  Today is no different than yesterday or the day before.  I have not strayed from my health plan.  I am taking all of my medications.  I have been recognizing warning signs of both my highs and my lows and I have been effectively using my coping mechanisms.  So, I ask why?  Why do I feel this way today when nothing has changed?  Why do I feel like the world is going to crumble around me?  Why do I feel this huge lump in my throat?  Why do I feel like I am on the edge of a cliff and with one wrong move I fall?  Why do I feel like there is nothing that could possibly make this better or make this go away?  Why?  Why?  Why?

I spend a lot of time outside in our yard.  I’ll admit it, I am strange.  I am one of those people who enjoy weeding.  The gratification that comes with pulling up the weed with its whole root is indescribable!  I will have to tell you about my yard later.  Anyway, I went outside today to do some yard work hoping I would find some comfort and peace.  I did not.

This scenario happens frequently but, for some reason I feel surprised and devastated every time.  Life is moving along OK and then suddenly it’s not!  Life is too much to handle and I am never going to be able to survive in this world.  I am never going to be able to survive and I have nothing to offer this world.  I am getting tired.  This is the time when I go lay down and hope I wake up with this episode over!  It has not happened before but, why not this time?

Baby Steps!

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I’m back!  I have spent the last 2 days thinking about what I should write for my 2nd entry.  I’ve really been struggling over it!  I’ll give you an idea.  My computer is showing that I have typed 773 words already; that doesn’t include the words I wrote down in notebooks and on scrap paper laying around the house!  Unfortunately, this is not uncommon for me.  I become excited about something like the blog and immediately, my mind starts to race.  I begin to remember stories I had not thought about for years.   At this point, I begin to wonder how I’m going to write ’my story’ and now these new stories for my 2nd entry to post by the end of day.  Oh, I’m not just wondering how I’m going to write part of ‘my story’ or some of the new stories, I am wondering how I’m going to write it all by the end of the day!  I can’t figure it out!  Now, my anxiety level is so high that I have become paralyzed.  I become paralyzed, in a sense, that I can’t and don’t start the entry!

What am I going to do?  Just as I was asking myself this question, I remembered what my very first therapist always said to me: Baby Steps!

What a relief!  I never thought two little words could bring anyone so much relief.  These two little words gave me permission to slow down.  They allowed me to realize that I didn’t need to start and finish the stories all in one day for this one entry!  As I thought more about the concept of “baby steps”, I started to realize their power.  They had just lifted a weight from my shoulders that was so heavy it could have ended the blog.  That is powerful!  I believe “Baby Steps” should become the motto for people suffering from mental illness and for those who love and care about them.  Whenever we feel overwhelmed, helpless, hopeless, or discouraged, we should remind ourselves of “baby steps”.  If we are experiencing an episode of depression and we get out of bed to take a shower, we should rejoice in “baby steps”.  When a blogger remembers just two little words her very first therapist told her, “baby steps”, we all celebrate!

With “baby steps” in mind, I am going to end my 2nd entry.  When I started to write this entry, now 3 days ago, I never planned it to be about “baby steps”.  Through my journey with mental illness, I have learned a lot about myself and about life.  Now, I spend much more time listening.  I will share that with you later, “baby steps”!

P.S.  I apologize for not answering the teaser from entry #1 about the name PurseandHeel!  Come again!

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