Think Positive

yingpis-kalayom-133680Today I’ve decided to try something new.

Over and over again in the past, I’ve been told “You’re just being pessimistic.  You just need to think positive.”  It makes sense, right?  All of my mental and emotional problems are in my head so I can just think them away with positive thoughts.

So today, I have a toothache.  It’s a nasty one that lingers there without provocation, without the insult of hot, cold or sweetness.

I lay in bed this morning wondering if I should take some painkillers and book myself in with my dentist to have this taken care of.

All of a sudden, it hits me.  Why would I need to go to a doctor that specializes in this particular problem, diagnose, medicate and treat an issue with my teeth when my teeth are literally inside of my head?

So I attempted a different approach.  I started to think positive.  I built up the self-esteem of that tooth so much that it really should have swelled up to the point of shoving my other teeth right out of my mouth.

“You’re a great tooth.  You’ve always been there for me.”

“I appreciate everything you’ve done for me.  Without you, I couldn’t complete the first stage of digestion and I couldn’t get the nutrients that fuel my body.”

“You are strong!  I believe in you!”

“You can do this.”

“We’re in this together.  I love you.”

Can you guess what happened?

That’s right!  My tooth healed itself and the pain just simply disappeared.  Score one for the power of positive thinking!

…Just kidding.  It didn’t magically cure my mental health and it didnt solve my tooth problem either.

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Parenting A Difficult Child – Tripping

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Kevin and his mother are sitting in the living room watching television.

Joel, Kevin’s little brother comes in to watch television as well.

As Joel walks by Kevin to sit on the couch, Kevin lifts his leg to trip Joel.  Joel falls on his face and starts crying.

“What?”  Kevin yells at him.  “Why are you crying?  Shut up!”

Kevin’s mother has just seen Kevin trip Joel.  “Stop yelling at your brother.”  She scoops up Joel to comfort him.  “He’s crying because you hurt him when you deliberately tripped him.”

“I didn’t trip him.”  Kevin yells at his mother.

“I just watched you trip him.  Don’t lie.”  His mother responds calmly.  “You don’t get to bully people, yell at them because you hurt them and then lie about it.  That’s not how life works.”

“I didn’t trip him.  He just fell.”  Kevin continues shouting.  “And I’m not lying.”

Kevin’s mother has had enough of the yelling and the lying.  Why won’t he take responsibility for his own actions?

“That’s enough, Kevin.  You’ve earned yourself a time out.”  She says.

“Why?”  Kevin demands.  “I didn’t do anything!”

“You can have a time out for hurting your brother, lying about it and yelling at everyone.  We don’t treat each other that way.”

Kevin crosses his arms with a defiant expression on his face and says, “No, I’m not going to.”

“Alright then,” his mother responds, silently boiling at the blatant disrespect, “You’re not getting your snack until you’ve taken your time out.”

Time passes and Kevin still refuses to take his time out.  Snack time rolls around and everyone but him is provided with a snack.

“Where’s mine?” Kevin demands, anger dripping from his words.

“You’ll get yours once you’ve taken your time out.”  His mother calmly replies.

Kevin stands up and throws his chair to the ground.  “Ugh!  I hate it here.  This place is so stupid!”  He slams a cupboard door and picks up an item off of the counter and throws it across the room.  “It’s your fault that I hate it here.  You’re always so mean to me.”  He kicks the wall and storms upstairs yelling about how it’s Joel’s fault that he’s in a time out because Joel hurt himself.

His mother gives him a few moments to himself before reminding him that if he wants his snack, he must first take his time out.

“I am in time out.”  Kevin yells as he whips toys and books around the bedroom, although he clearly is not taking his punishment as he should be.

Now, there are some things to understand about Kevin.

His actions and the things that he says come off as immature, defiant, disrespectful and abusive.  He is often impulsive, he will argue about anything and everything, and he seems to refuse to accept any sort of responsibility for his actions.

But the thing is that he’s not a bad child.  Nor is he the product of bad parenting.

Kevin’s behaviors can fit the diagnosis of Opposisitional Defiance Disorder (ODD), Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) although it’s not diagnosed in childhood,  or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) ; just to name a few.

Whichever diagnosis he actually has is irrelevant to this article.  What is important is that Kevin really does have legitimate reasons for his explosive behaviors even though they are invisible reasons.

When we assume that a child is being willfully defiant, disrespectful, dishonest or manipulative, then we feel a need to discipline them for their actions and force them to want to do the right thing.

Let’s break the scenario down.

1.  Kevin trips Joel:  Kevin is impulsive because he lacks the skills to think ahead before he acts or says something.  He is unable, in the moment, to realize that he is going to cause harm to another person or think of the consequences that will follow  his actions.  Impulse control is a skill that needs to be taught to him.

2.  Kevin yells at Joel:  Kevin knows that he’s done something wrong and he lashes out at Joel out of guilt and out of fear that he will be punished.  Kevin has very poor emotional control.  Every time he is hungry, tired, scared, frustrated, overwhelmed, feels guilty or he feels wronged in some way, he reacts with explosive anger.
He reacts with anger because his emotional age is not lined up with his physical age.  He has not yet learned to successfully interpret, balance or communicate his emotions or his emotional needs.  It is a skill that needs to be taught to him.

3.  Mom makes accusations and Kevin lies:  The accusations that Kevin’s mother make Kevin feel more defensive, and Kevin’s defense is offensive.  Kevin is feeling very overwhelmed by his emotions right now and doesn’t know how to handle it so his anger increases.  He lies because he is afraid of being punished.

4.  Mom says “Time out.”:  Kevin is being punished for things that he could not control and he simply shuts down and refuses to listen to anything.  Shutting down is a common defense mechanism for people who struggle with emotional control.  They simply cannot deal with the emotional overload anymore.

5.  Kevin has a tantrum:  When Kevin is reminded that he has to take a time out, he throws a tantrum because his extreme emotions have been ignited again.  At this point he knows that he must be punished for his inability to control his actions and he has become enraged.  He is also exhibiting black and white thinking; where things are either all good or all bad.  After his time out, his mother could give him his favorite snack but in the moment he still feels as though she is the worst mother ever who is always unfair to him.

Kevin often feels as if he is a bad child because he struggles so hard to control his behavior and often fails.  His self esteem is low.  He wants to be a “good” child, but he doesn’t know how.

When we look at why a child is explosive or unruly instead of focusing on the actions and the age of a child, we can better understand that the behavior is that of someone who has lagging skills and not that of someone who is intentionally attempting to inflict pain and misery on the family.

Then that begins us all down a path to solutions and healing.

I Got Published On The Mighty

Last week I got my article about why people with mental illnesses are so tired published on The Mighty.

I’m so excited about this because within the first day and a half, my post was shared 12.5 thousand times!

I wanted to thank you all for reading and sharing my post and for all of the comments and support you’ve shown me.  It has boosted my self esteem and greatly encouraged me to keep on writing.

Welcome to all of my new followers.  I look forward to writing for you all some more.

Also, I offer my apologies for not keeping up with writing over the past little while.  I’ve been preoccupied with my struggles lately and haven’t been writing as much as I’d like to.

You can follow me at The Mighty if you’re interested here.

Butterfly Dream

I was walking around outside when I spotted a large butterfly.  I thought it looked gorgeous and I wanted to hold it.  I approached it thinking that it would fly away from me, but it didn’t.  It just let me pick it up.

I’m holding it on my hand, loving the color of it’s wings and the fact that it allowed me to hold it when I feel it’s legs clamp into my hand as if it was refusing to let me go.  So hard that it pierced through some parts of my skin.

Startled, I tried to shake the butterfly off of my hand, but those insect legs just kept holding on to me.  Then I feel something in my wrist and I look down and I see the butterfly has its proboscis in me and is drinking my blood.

Now I’m absolutely terrified of this beautiful vampire butterfly.  I toss around the idea of just ripping it off of my hand and throwing it down, but I wonder how strong the proboscis really is…if I force the butterfly off of my hand, will a chunk of the proboscis stay wedged under my skin?  Will it cause some sort of infection?

So I just stand there, and watch as time seems to go by agonizingly slow as the butterfly eats its fill of my blood, clasping to my hand as if its life depended on it.  I feel my blood draining and hope that it stops before it gets too much of the blood that I need to stay alive.

Then finally, it finishes and it flies away leaving me with holes in my hand and wrist and vowing never to try to pick up giant butterflies anymore

 

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Goodbye Grandma

Goodbye my dear grandma
May you be at peace and rest
You’ve raised well the family
In which you did invest

Your worldly pain has vanished
But you still live on
In the hearts and minds of those who love you
Right where you belong

I’m so sad to say goodbye
We will remember you with love
Until the day takes us away
And we meet at the gates above.

 

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Creative Writing Challenges

How many of my followers on here are creative writers?

One of the things I’ve been really wanting to try for many years is to present a concept for something (a small piece, a short story, a poem and so on) and gather a group of writers to write about it in their own style to see the different lives one concept could take on.

I was hoping I may have found my group of people who would be willing to accept writing challenges on wordpress.

I was thinking on the first day of the month I would issue a challenge (open to suggestions of course) and then gather them into one place in a blog with links to other’s blogs on the last day of the month.

I’m very interested in the different ideas and styles that other people have and I would love to see the different writings that come from a basic idea.

Please let me know if you would be interested in participating and please recommend friends who might be interested in participating.  If I can find at least five people willing to take on a monthly challenge, I will post the first concept.  Also, if you have an idea for a challenge, feel free to voice it.

Thank you.

It Really Is Okay

Two days ago I was taking big steps
That day I reached my goal
I was able to cover a lot of ground
And I felt in control
Two days ago my goal was achievable
And I had quite a bit of help
I was well prepared and I took my time
And I felt good about myself

Yesterday I stumbled and fell
And I was overwhelmed for the whole day
I tried to get ahead of myself
And made no progress along the way
Yesterday my goals were ridiculous
And I had no help at all
I expected far too much of myself
And it slowed me down to a crawl

Today I’m taking baby steps
I’m just going with the flow
I’m making more progress than yesterday
But it’s going kind of slow
Today I haven’t set much for goals
Just one-to make it through the day
And even though I haven’t worked much
I still feel okay

Some days I’ll feel like I’m on top
I’ll feel tall and my steps will be long
Some days I’ll feel like I’m crawling
And I just need to be strong
Some days I’ll feel scattered
Unaware of where I’m going
And some days I’ll be inspired
With creativity and knowledge flowing

On the days I need to catch my breath
I need to realize, I can’t run all day, every day
And when I need to slow down a bit
It really is okay.

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I Can’t

I can’t.

Well, I can’t right now.

One day in the future, I can; as long as you’re willing to bend and stretch your definition of what “can” is.

It’s not that I don’t want to.  I can’t overcome it by positive thinking.  I can’t “just do it”.  I’m not lazy.  I’m not making up excuses.  I’m not weak.

I can’t because I am the brain that is swallowed by panic and fear.

I can’t because I am the brain that is over stimulated and overwhelmed.

I can’t because I am the brain that doesn’t have the proper words in me to describe what I’m going through so I can get help.

I can’t because I am the brain that is numbed from feeling too much for too long and has become worn out.

I can’t because I am the brain that struggles to understand the difference between what is real or not because it all seems the same.

I can’t because I am the brain that is desperately trying to cope with sensory overload.

I can’t because I am the brain that is unable to shut down at night so I can rest.

I can’t because I am the brain who is deficient in executive functions and I have not yet learned and exercised these skills.

I can’t because I am the brain that automatically switches off my control when I’m trying to cope with disappointment, frustration or stress.

I can’t because I am the brain that jumbles, reverses and mixes things up.

I can’t because I am the brain that is scattered and unfocused.

I can’t because I’ve put my energy into trying to cope with my malfunctioning brain, self advocating and trying to meet the standards expected of me and I’ve become so drained.

If I could, I would; but I can’t.

I can’t until I learn the skills that I need and practice them.

I can’t until I’ve rested.

I can’t until I’ve gotten the help and guidance I need from someone else.

Please try to understand that I’m trying harder than you’ll ever know and be patient with me.  Please don’t tell me that you can just get over it so I could as well if I just try harder.

One day, somewhere down the road, when I can; please recognize the strength and struggles that it took to get that far instead of looking at my other “can’ts”.

 

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Why Are You Tired?

Chances are, you know someone with a mental disorder or disability and you’ve probably asked them this or thought this before.

This statement, “I’m tired” is not a complaint or pessimistic.  It’s merely a fact of life.

Allow me to explain why a person who is constantly battling their own brain and societal expectations feel so drained.

These are people whose brains are stuck in overdrive and have a great amount of difficulty unwinding to fall asleep at night.  For the average person, it takes 7 minutes to fall asleep.
Imagine crawling into bed exhausted and it takes an average of an hour to fall asleep instead of 7 minutes.  Every nap and bathroom break and the brain relaxation delay begins again.

These are people whose sleep is frequently disturbed and who spend their nights tossing and turning instead of resting.  Sometimes they’re awoken by noises, pain, an inability to keep body parts still, by loud noises inside of their heads, vivid dreams and many other reasons.

These are people who wake up feeling, at best, slightly more rested than they were when they crawled into bed in the first place…like a battery that has been damaged that never seems to recharge properly.
These are people, who for decades, don’t feel rested after their slumber.

These are people who put an immense amount of effort into focusing on the task that they’re supposed to do or perform while their minds are trying to carry them down other paths or while they are struggling to remember just what those tasks are.
These are are people with working memory issues who from school age on into adulthood, lack the skill to remember multi-step instructions in a world where they’re just expected to know how to do it.

These are people who are in a constant war with their own brain.  People who are battling their own thoughts and fears; hearing every day from their brains that they aren’t good enough, strong enough, skinny enough, that people don’t like them, or that they should have done better…just to list a few things.

These are people who are in a constant war with other people’s judgement and lack of understanding.  Who are often asked questions or who hear comments like “Why are you always tired?”, “Just suck it up and deal with it.”, “It’s just a lack of discipline.”, “It’s all in your head.”, “Stop being so pessimistic.” and “Stop being so lazy.”

These are people who experience sensory overload that mentally exhausts them.  From the clothing they are expected to wear, the food that they are expected to eat, the noise around them, the sights engulfing them and the odors surrounding them, these people’s senses are constantly under attack.

These are people who are exhausted from self-advocating to people who don’t understand and don’t care to understand.

These are people who spend most of every day dealing with fears that others find silly and irrational.  It’s like living on a rope bridge swaying in the wind over a canyon while you’re afraid of heights and hearing “I don’t understand what you’re complaining about, the bridge is secure.  Suck it up and deal with it.  I can do it, so you can too.”

These are people who are struggling to communicate their experiences because communications is a skill that needs to be taught and exercised.  It’s like those who don’t have a strong artistic talent being instructed to create a sculpture using the items around you to present how they currently feel within the next five minutes.

These are people who expel a large amount of energy trying to understand body language and emotions which is another lagging skill.  It would be like showing you a picture of my cat and expecting you to identify what he’s feeling based on his facial expression and pose within minutes, multiple times a day.

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How is this kitten feeling?

These are people who are tired from the side effects of medication or self-medicating to cope with the symptoms of their diagnosis and the expectations of society.

These are people who are struggling with their brain to differentiate what’s real and what’s not because their brains present everything to them as reality.

These are people who are likely to be struggling with relationships, drug abuse and alcoholism.

These are people who have physical manifestations from their mental struggles because being on high alert takes a physical toll on a person.
These are people whose muscles ache constantly or whose muscles are tired from being tense too often, who get frequent headaches or migraines, who’s appetite is affected and whose immune system becomes impaired…just to name a few things.

So please, dear readers, the next time someone with an invisible disability says that they’re tired, don’t treat them as if they’re lazy or irrational.  Instead, imagine living your life on a rope bridge over a canyon, or imagine how you would feel if someone jabbed you and woke you up several times a night for just one year and the physical and mental impact it would have on you.

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Is he about to attack?

I beg of you, on behalf of all of us fighting our own silent battles, please be patient and empathetic.  Just because you don’t experience it doesn’t mean that it’s not a reality for someone else.

 

I’m certain that I’ve left out many reasons as to why someone may often answer “How are you?” with “I’m tired.”  If there’s more examples you can think of, please feel free to mention it in the comments.

 

My Response To Bill Nye On Abortion

This video of Bill Nye on Abortion made an appearance in my news feed the other day.  I encourage you to watch the video if you haven’t already before reading this post.

First off, why do you assume that if a person is pro-life, that they would automatically want to desire to sue people for naturally occurring deaths?

For those who believe life starts at conception,  a fertilized egg that fails to attach to the lining of the uterus for any reason would be considered a miscarriage even if it goes unnoticed.

Which pro-lifers are pushing to sue doctors who couldn’t save a man who had a heart attack, a mother who had a miscarriage or a nursing home where an elderly patient dies of old age?

The concept of suing has no place in this conversation.

Secondly, when we talk about abortion, we’re not discussing fertilized eggs that failed to implant, we’re talking about the fertilized eggs that did manage to burrow into the lining of the uterus and that did continue forming and growing.

We are now discussing an embryo who’s sex is already determined with it’s own set of DNA and whose brain has already began to form.

Depending on how far along in the pregnancy the fetus is aborted, it will likely have eyes, arms, fingers, legs, bones, fingernails and fingerprints.

The outrage lies not in the death of a child due to natural causes, but in the fact that a fetus is only considered to be a living human being with rights when the pregnancy is a wanted pregnancy.

Of course scientists have explained to us how big a human egg was and that we wouldn’t have that shot of the sperm penetrating the egg  if not for science.  If not for science, we wouldn’t have the ultrasound that shows us images of the moving life form inside of the womb.   If not for science, we wouldn’t understand that a baby’s heart starts beating 18 days from conception.

This does not mean that a pro-lifer has a deep lack of scientific understanding.

If science can tell us that a single celled organism is alive, how can it expect us to deny that a morula, a blastocyst, an embryo or a fetus is alive?  Science asks us to believe that a seed is alive before the roots poke through the hard protective shell and it’s leaves break through the ground’s surface.  How can it also tell us that a merged sperm and egg dividing into cells isn’t alive?

I think perhaps the ignorance and lack of education that you insist on is actually real, it’s just not where you believe it to be.

Perhaps young men and women should be taught about the stages of pregnancy beyond a quick summary.  Teach them about fetal development and changes to a woman’s body.

Teach about the consequences of sexual activity, which isn’t pregnancy, but sexually transmitted infections.

Teach them about consent.  Teach them that “No.” is an acceptable answer to give and to receive.  Teach them to respect other people’s choice to say no.

Teach them about birth control methods, the pros, cons and the long term effects that they may have on a person’s body and not just that abstinence is best.

Teach them how to have healthy and realistic relationships.  Provide them with good mental/emotional support.

Teach them personal responsibility.  If we’re expected to be responsible for our actions in every other aspect of our lives, why not with sex as well?

Teach them how to keep track of menstrual cycles and that there is only 6 days in a 28 day cycle  when a woman could get pregnant, and if through no other time, a condom or abstinence should be used for those days to avoid unwanted pregnancies.  Teach them that keeping track of one’s most fertile days is just as important for those who don’t want to get pregnant as it is for those who do want to get pregnant.

Teach them that pregnancy, childbirth and child rearing is not a consequence and that innocent lives are just as valuable as any other human life.

Teach them that they can control their bodies and sex drive, both male and female.

Teach them that young men and women aren’t better or worse for having sex with someone.

Teach them not to judge or shame a woman who has had an abortion.

Teach women self defense from a young age so she can defend herself from predators.

At some point, I believe it would benefit everyone to have an understanding of what happens to the fetus during the different abortion procedures.

Put more focus on proper reproductive education, responsibility and on birth control availability and less effort fighting for the rights for a woman to abort her baby that exists because of (in most cases) her own choices and actions.

No, we shouldn’t tell women what to do.  We should educate our men and women properly so we can have adults who can make informed decisions and take responsibility for their actions.