Teammates

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Hello Teammates!

Since the inception of the blog, I have been trying to figure out a way for us to feel united.  I want everyone, those who visit regularly and first-timers, to be able to logon and immediately feel a sense of community.  A caring community where you are loved and supported no matter who you are, no matter what mental illness label you’ve been given, and no matter how your mental illness is affecting you today or will affect you tomorrow.

I know first-hand that mental illness can be a very lonely disease.  There are days that even the idea of sitting up in bed seems impossible.  There are weeks when the inside of our home is our only world.  It is because of these situations, that the blog was started.  My wish is for us to feel a connection with one another.  I want us to be able to feel the comfort and support we need from one another.  I believe I mentioned to you before that when God revealed his message “Avoidance, Acknowledgement, Acceptance…Triple A!” I knew Triple A stood for Triple-A baseball.  I was much more fanatic about the meaning of Triple-A before I wanted to capitalize on it!  At this point, we are a group of people who have been affected by mental illness. In reality, we are strangers.  I can’t think of anything that turns strangers in to friends faster than sports!  Let’s be teammates!  And for no particular reason, why don’t we become a baseball team!  Don’t worry there will not be any tryouts – nobody will be cut.  Everyone is welcome.  And, drum roll, please…………….you can design your own jersey!

We need a name!  Doug and I attended a wonderful Lutheran Church on Easter Sunday.  As Doug would so eloquently tell you, “you really can’t mess-up an Easter Service”.  With that said, we went back to experience a “regular” worship service.  When we sat down in the pew, there was a countdown of seconds being projected onto the front walls of the sanctuary.  When the countdown hit zero, we heard “What’s Happening?” from the back of the sanctuary.  Then, in unison the congregation yelled “We Are!”  As the pastor walked forward, he said it again “What’s Happening?”  The response from the congregation was a robust “We Are!”  It certainly took both Doug and I by surprise.  I have to admit I was a little perplexed at first.  As the day went on, it grew on me.  I thought what a fantastic, upbeat, UNITING exchange.  I propose our team name be “What’s Happening?”  It will fit nicely on a jersey.  I plan to begin all blog entries with our team name.  My prayer is that every time you read “What’s Happening?” or think about “What’s Happening?” your first thought will be “We Are”!  It would be best if you thought about it with a little attitude because “We Are” happening!

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Triple A

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Have you ever been in the situation where so much time had lapsed between visits with friends that you were nervous to contact them?  You missed the relationship.  You thought about them all the time.  You were interested in what was happening in their lives and wanted to share what was happening in your life.  You wanted to get in touch with them and yet you couldn’t.  Your thoughts were consumed by just the possibility of talking to them.  You felt sick to your stomach every time you thought about it and you thought about it all the time.  Feeling overwhelmed, you spent all your waking hours trying to distract yourself from your thoughts.  As more time lapsed, you became fearful your friends were upset with you.  You began to feel helpless.  Soon, you recognized that the hindrance was you.

I am extremely nervous writing this post.  I have been sitting in front of my computer for almost 3 days straight.  I am trying to write the perfect blog entry.  In creating the perfect blog entry, I hope to erase from your mind the lengthy period of time without a post.  Guess what?  It is not working.  I knew it was a lofty goal but, I went ahead and gave it the old college try.  I want to let you know that during the time I was not posting, I was living the situation above.  I have missed our relationship.  I have thought about all of you often.  I have wanted to share with you my new experiences, discoveries, and revelations.  I have wanted desperately to blog and yet I couldn’t.

Our yard is where I most often hear from God.  Yesterday, he called while I was on my way to our kitchen for a snack.  His message was Avoidance, Acknowledgement, and Acceptance…Triple A!  Recently, I have been learning a lot about avoidance, acknowledgement, and acceptance and the significant role they play in the management of my mental illness.  I knew that this message was in reference to my prayer about the blog.  His message was so strong and clear that after months of not even opening my computer, I immediately went to my laptop, opened it, turned it on, and began to type.  I know you all are curious and no I did not get a snack.  I was very excited to hear from God.  Now, after 3 days of struggling with the content of this blog, some of that excitement has worn off.  I have spent all this time trying to address “Triple-A” in one blog.  I finally figured out that I misinterpreted the message.  Unfortunately, I do this regularly with God’s messages.  I believe He thinks it’s funny.

I believe God intended “Avoidance, Acknowledgement, Acceptance…Triple A!” to be used as an ongoing theme throughout our blog.  He knows how valuable the Triple A is in our healing process.  He knows it may seem like a minor piece but, actually it plays a major role.  The plan for the up-coming roster of blog entries is to float between the majors and minors of Mental Illness.  The schedule predicts that our journey through the season could be rocky.  We have the opportunity to win sometimes and the possibility to lose sometimes.  Our odds of a successful season are considerably higher when we play as a team.  Most importantly, we need to put our faith and trust in our coach – without Him we will never experience MLB or win the World Series!  Let’s Play Ball!

Desiderata

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Dear Friend,

I have been thinking about you.  I have had an eye-opening, personally challenging, and awe inspiring few weeks.  I have been introduced to a new philosophy in therapy.  In these few short weeks, I feel like I have learned more about myself, my life and coping with mental illness than I have over the past ten years.  I am looking forward to sharing with you what I have experienced and what I am experiencing.  Doug and I have been attending a wonderful Lutheran Church.  Two weeks ago, the pastor ended his sermon by reading the poem Desiderata by Max Ehrmann.  I was very moved by the poem.  I knew I was supposed to share it with you.  

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.  As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.  Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story.  Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.  Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.  Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.  But let not this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.  Be yourself.  Especially do not feign affection.  Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.  But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.  Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.  Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.  You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.  And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.  And whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.  With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams; it is still a beautiful world.  Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

—Max Ehrmann, 1927

Hang Ten!

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I used to correlate the beach with sunburns and undertows.  Now, I correlate the beach with a beach umbrella, a lounge chair, and a cool beverage.  One of the things I find most relaxing is to sit on the beach and listen to the crashing waves. 

Several years ago, I walked into yet another therapist’s office with very low expectations.  I never anticipated learning one of the most valuable pieces of information for managing my mental illness – “ride the wave”.  I have to admit that it took me a while to understand the meaning of “ride the wave” therefore it took me a while to recognize its significance.

When my therapist suggested I “ride the wave” he was referring to my mood.  My initial reaction to an episode of depression was to fight it.  In my mind, this was the best way to cope.  My therapist wanted me to recognize that by fighting it I was actually prolonging the episode and increasing the severity of depression.  If I am able to allow myself to work through the depression then the episode will not be as long or as intense.  I need to “ride the wave”.  I need to allow myself to experience both the highs and lows of life. 

Every so often I still need to remind myself to “ride the wave”.  For the past several weeks I have been reminding myself but I have not carried it out.  Doug has since stepped in and now my surfboard is strapped to the top of our SUV ready to head to the beach.  I will be away at the beach rediscovering how to “ride the wave”.  I will return after Labor Day.  I pray that you find your therapeutic relationships helpful and supportive.  I hope you and your family have a wonderful and safe holiday weekend.

Priceless

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What a day!  I have spent the day trying to answer two questions.  What is the cost of “real” honesty?  What is the value of the blog?  I wrote an entry the other day titled “Hoover Dam”.  Instead of “sugar coating” my thoughts and feelings, I decided to share my reality.  I explained what I was experiencing with true emotion and without censorship.  When I finished the entry I felt a little sense of relief and pride.  I had never been that honest before and it felt good.  Full disclosure:  I haven’t even been that honest with a therapist.  My sense of pride came from believing I was beginning to let go.  I felt like I had done the right thing.

When I started the blog I was very naïve.  The blog had been up several weeks before it dawned on me that extended family and friends could read the blog.  I was so focused on reaching out to people who suffer from mental illness, I didn’t think about the blog being accessed by anyone else.  I was wearing one huge set of goggles!  After my revelation, it became difficult for me to write openly.  My focus shifted from reaching out to those who are hurting, to impressing people.  The content of the entries became irrelevant.  I spent most of my time trying to produce a polished story.  I provided very little depth and when I referenced my journey I only skimmed the surface.  As time passed, I noticed that my entries had become extremely vague and superficial.  I knew this was wrong but, it felt comfortable.

Last week, I began to recognize the importance of being authentic.  I realized that the blog was not intended to be a collection of essays.  I was reminded of the purpose of the blog which is to provide a safe place for people who suffer from mental illness to share their real thoughts and feelings, their real trials and triumphs, and their real experiences and stories.  I knew it was time for me to open up and share my “real” story.  I began to write with honesty and sincerity.  I was frank and candid.  I wrote from the heart and it felt comfortable.     

I never planned for my writing in “Hoover Dam” to be hurtful.  My straight talk was to be constructive.  My “real” honesty was to be helpful not harmful.  After I posted “Hoover Dam” and I realized I had caused my family a tremendous amount of grief, I asked myself how much is “real” honesty worth?  If the price of “real” honesty is too high then what is the value of the blog?  These questions were causing me great concern.  Mental illness came into my life and my family’s life 10 years ago.  We live with the complexity and the frustration every day.  We have gone through the pain together and celebrated in the triumphs together.  “Hoover Dam” made me aware that “real” honesty can cause discomfort.  The discomfort reminded me that my family and I will continue to go through the pain together just as we will continue to celebrate in the triumphs together.  “Hoover Dam” and in essence “real” honesty has made me appreciate my supportive, caring, loving, and understanding family even more.  Priceless.

So, does the blog have value?  I hope so!  It has been of benefit to me and my family but, that is not the purpose of the blog.  I continue to hope and pray that the blog will help people who are suffering.  Even if the blog aids just one person, it has value.  A blog that provides people with mental illness support, comfort, and relief.  Priceless.

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!

I am about to start this thing…

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Come back real soon to check out my first blog entry.  Thanks for visiting!