When I finally understood Mental Health

 

man in blue and brown plaid dress shirt touching his hair
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I have always been a person who appreciates being fully aware and in full control in my functions. I hate speaking on this, but as I am having another “episode” (for lack of any other word), I am going to be frank.
I am oddly intelligent. I know… what kind of person says that? It hit me later on in life that people did not memorise number plates on the back of a car, or remember almost every thing that has happened to them since the age of two. I have a brilliant memory. I can tell you if my neighbour or people who live down the street or even people who live in my suburb is at the store I’m about to enter because I see their number plate which I have seen once or twice parked at my store. I thought this was normal. Now, you could read this and say automatically that I am autistic or have something similar along those lines. I don’t take that as an insult. I know many amazing autistic people.
I really do not fit hardly any of the autistic checklists. I’ve checked. In fact I remember taking just a “for fun” quiz about “how autistic are you” type test and it said I was negative 10%. I am literally the opposite of autistic and yet I have some strange nuances.

Why I am I writing this? Over 6 years ago my health went down – physical and mental. I know I got angrier and more depressed, thoughts I knew that were not normal for me. It wasn’t just that, I suffered from insomnia, tremors, extra migraines, loss of muscle control etc. Now I cannot fully rule out some conditions – I am unable to get an MRI because of my pacemaker (which is not MRI safe) but there are definitely some conditions that my doctors would like to rule out or confirm. I have been dropping things lately, slurring my words, having difficulty lifting my legs – I know I’m not okay. These are physical but I notice a drop in my mental health too. Don’t get me wrong, I can write better during these days (I am writing academic essays and fictional stories all while going through this).
However as doctors were very clear that they had their suspicions but never could diagnose let alone prescribe me medicine because they cannot do an MRI I am here, alone.

Most people who know me know I am the most competent, in control, reliable people you will ever meet. However, Mental health, REAL MENTAL HEALTH is something that you cannot control. I have my own perception of my emotions and know something is not right.

That’s what I want to talk about. My mother notices I am not myself, but not only can she not understand but she also criticises me not thinking clearly -because she cannot understand why I am thinking and questioning certain things.

The fact is, with mental health, if your brain betrays you, you are questioning if your relationships are solid. You question if your emotions are trustworthy.

Sometimes you question those that you trust most so that you can be sure of what you are feeling. This tires out other people. This causes the “burden effect” which is the worst. Every person who is deeply aware of mental health knows that once you feel like a burden, the suicidal thoughts can appear. This is something I try to resist with all my effort. I have two children and I refuse to go down that road but I battle it.
How difficult is this? I know today that a couple of times I emotionally lost perspective of what angered me and what upset me as a parent. I know my daughter got a few extra words of lecturing than necessary about something that was so stupid. AN hour later I came into her room and apologised for making a big deal out of nothing… but what hurts most is how quickly she forgives me because she deserves better and shouldn’t forgive me that fast. I am not abusive. Yet I still feel guilty over making a big deal out of something that was so not a big deal. My children mean more to me than mistakes. I hate that sometimes for me to deal with my health I have to put them on an ipad because I cannot take them anywhere. The guilt of this doesn’t help.

What worries me is that I know I’m not seeing things in a proper perspective and I have emotions that are not comparable with the situation. I also have no diagnosis as it coincides with physical health too. I hate not being able to grip, or having to concentrate to coordinate my moves. It’s difficult when you can’t put a name to the physical or mental health but have to learn to adjust. I can only pray that my children who are extremely resilient and loving towards me will take their compassion and experience and be able to use it in the future. I also share that I am scared. I am not sure if I will feel better or worse in the next few days – I hope better but my hope has been shattered before and am scared that I am getting worse.

If you have mental health issues (and physical health issues) please get help. See your local GP and be honest – but if you are finding you can’t trust your perception and mental health please see your GP, but if that’s not enough call the hotlines.

US: 1800 273 8255

AU: 13 11 14

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What I can control…

alone bed bedroom blur
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Well, I have hit reality today that I am suffering from my yearly struggle with the weather (here in Australia) turning from Spring into Summer. To be honest I REALLY don’t do well with the weather change. I’ll be fine when the heat evens out but right now it goes from rain to hot as hell and then cold rain again. My body just doesn’t adjust to such inconsistency.

However I am on a “getting fit” kick and I was frustrated with my health setback. I remembered that even though I was in extreme pain, that my doctor told me that for Continue reading “What I can control…”

The Advantage of Outrage.

nature summer yellow animal
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We have developed a system of outrage. I could point the fingers at the many reasons why this is becoming the norm and who has contributed to this but it seems like the outrage isn’t stopping and it is becoming worse each day.

There is an advantage of having a society that is full of outrage: Society can be controlled by it.

There was a situation in Australian Survivor series (2017) when a male contestant thought that he had upset a female contestant. He had told her information that was to get her angry. He says words to the camera that go a little something like this “I’m feeding her anger, because if she’s angry, I can control her, and control her vote”. It was a bit of a light bulb moment for me. It was never so clear to me as it was in that moment – that people will use the worst emotions to manipulate and change a situation. The female contestant explains to the camera later in the show how she was faking anger to make the male contestant think he was controlling her.

With social media there is opportunity for outrage everywhere. The good news is we can use social media to shed light on many difficult and painful situations around the world that would normally be ignored, and bring it into the public. The outrage of this unfair and painful situation can bring about effective change. This is a brilliant strategy to make the world a better place. It’s useful. It betters bad situations.

The downfall is when we become outraged over anything and everything: “uncontrolled outrage”. We get used to being in a state of outrage – or calling people out about anything and everything. There is an short-term advantage to this too, but added long term harmful consequences: The advantage is that outrage can prove to be a distraction from our own difficult lives, things we don’t want to face. Outrage with others does not allow us to focus on our own situations that need improvement. This, in the long term, will harm us.

One of the best ways to be an contributing member of society is to look in the mirror (I really want to break out into that Michael Jackson song), and make changes to who we are and to better ourselves.
One of the ways we can help us survive this time of outrage is to be balanced with it. Yes, we should be outraged with the horrible things in the world, but we also must keep ourselves in check so we don’t allow that outrage to control us. Anger and outrage are emotions used to control, and we must be careful with it so we don’t cause more damage and pain to others by those emotions.

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How this exercise can help your child with their emotions

 

colours

So my sensory son has benefited greatly recently from a major exercise from his Occupational Therapist. It’s when we assign colors to emotions.

  • Blue represents sadness, or sickness, feeling unhappy, or things that make you unhappy.
  • Red represents anger, Yelling, screaming or anything that upsets you greatly.
  • Yellow represents that moment before anger, feeling annoyed – or even feeling silly, on the edge, or recognizing something that may annoy you.
  • Green represents happiness, joy, anything that helps you feel good about yourself.

My son, who isn’t very understanding about his emotions but is very visual can understand this explanation of feelings so much better than just labels. It helps when we are in public too, where I can say “I can tell you are in the ‘yellow zone’, what can we do to get green again?”

I’m an auditory learner, and to me this was very silly at first but it really works for children who need extra help with their emotions and are visual learners.

We then have asked him many questions (when he is in the Green zone) of what makes him feel green… if he is in the yellow, what can he do to help himself get to the green.

He has come up with exercises on his own, but the OT has helped him understand about counting, and pushing against the wall, breathing exercises- tools he wasn’t aware of, that has helped him.

Other exercises he has included is “getting a drink of water”, “going for a walk” (which he is allowed to do by most teachers), to help him stay calm. HE is also a big fan of drawing, and even drawing out his feelings is easier for him than expressing them in any other way.

We have posters around our house of “expressions” of people in each of these zones so he can recognize them in himself (and others) a lot easier.

He is soon to start Grade 3 on Monday, and I as a parent has a lot of anxiety about starting with a new teacher and knowing how much it takes for him to adjust so we are revising these colors so much before then.

Let me know if you have a similar method or something else that helps you. We need all the tools we can get to cope and adjust to this world.

God Bless

5 ideas of how to let go of anger and move on

What about Anger and Forgiveness? This could be your year to let go and shine.

beach

I have been thinking a lot about this subject mainly because I love listening to people. However, there is so much that people say or do that is the result of anger. Most people don’t or cannot pinpoint their anger very well. They get angry at something trivial, in order not to face the actual issue they are upset about.

If we all faced what we were actually angry about, and discussed it, worked through it, then we would be left with a lot more peace in this world. I know that I have personally been on the receiving end of some people who are dealing with anger, but after some reflection I understood that it really wasn’t about me. So here are a few techniques that I have used and discovered.

If you are spiritual, PRAY FOR THEM. Alright, I see you all those that don’t pray – I’ll get to that. But the whole point of the idea of praying for them is that it changes your attitude. It doesn’t mean they deserve your prayer, it doesn’t mean that what they did was okay, but it helps you remember that the person who has caused you offence has probably acted out of their own anger that had nothing to do with you. In turn, you turn your anger into pity, empathy, sympathy. After deliberate action to change your thoughts, after a few months, you no longer harbor that anger.
So if you aren’t spiritual, I highly suggest finding something, whether it be one good memory with that person or something that made you like that person to begin with, and focus on that. Every time you start getting angry, think of something nice. Your brain has so many pathways, and if you can control your thinking about a person, you can change the emotion you feel towards that person. Call it a type of meditation if you want but helps.

This next technique comes courtesy of my daughter’s teacher. I wrote her in desperation… I saw my daughter getting angry a lot and she wouldn’t speak to me as I was the one she was acting out towards. This teacher who loves to help children work through their emotions put an activity within the day that changed my daughter. The teacher didn’t tell me about it but my daughter came home so excited. She told me how at school they got a piece of paper out, wrote all the names of people that were upsetting them, and then crossed the names out and then ripped up the paper and put it in the bin. Her teacher carefully explained that once you put the paper in the bin, you let go of the anger towards those people and you start over fresh. I have never personally tried this technique but my daughter seemed to believe it helped, and she felt more in control of her emotions with the activity. It helps children (and sometimes us adults) to do something visual and physical to help our brain understand that we are done with the anger towards certain people. This is a great exercise for children to visualize letting go of those feelings.

Go to the beach!! Okay, I’m sorry if you don’t live near a beach, maybe a lake, maybe mountains, but there is science in getting out with nature. I know if I am in a cycle of emotional pain, whether it be sadness or anger, getting out of the house and being with nature is a peaceful, and healing experience.

I hate the beach only because I get burned 100% of the time, but honestly after an hour of the ocean I feel better, and healed. This is definitely one of the main places I have retreated in the last few years of a lot of trauma and difficulty. I come back feeling hopeful and refreshed. I do have to force myself, and sometimes I’m angry at the effort it takes to get to a place when I feel emotionally exhausted but ultimately I come back home with hope.

Maybe it’s just seeing the ocean and knowing that there is a bigger world out there than my problems, maybe it’s just getting out there in nature, or maybe it’s just breathing in the salty air, but at the end of the day, I feel like I have a better grasp on any issues and anger I may have and more confident to tackle what comes my way. I also feel this way in rainforests, and gardens… so It isn’t just the beach but I recommend it. It refreshes the soul.

Write! I know it’s simple but write it out. Sometimes writing helps me separate my emotions from the actual event which helps me figure out what it is I am actually dealing with. Sometimes I have too many emotions to sort through, and writing helps me separate and own what I need, and let go of what I don’t need.

Lastly, if there is someone who is truly toxic in your life, you should let them go, but do it not out of anger but of peace… with knowing you are doing what is best for them as well.

If you have have had someone cause you trauma, and yet they have been out of your life for years, you can still forgive and move on:

There is a woman that lost a child in the Sandy Hook tragedy who said it helps to remember that the shooter was a person too. I can’t even grasp the amount of forgiveness it takes for something so tragic as that, but it is possible. You don’t ever forgive people because they deserve it – but as typical as this sounds, you forgive others for you.

You deserve to not hold on to what they did to you. You deserve a free life. Remembering you deserve better than to be defined by what someone has done to you can really help you take the steps you need to look to the future and let go of that past hurt. Remembering who you are – without this pain, is a motivation to accept what has happened and to keep moving forward.

  1. Pray (Or meditate on something positive about the person).
  2. use a technique to physically/visually let go of those emotions.
  3. GET out, and GET active (ideally in nature)
  4. Write.
  5. Separate yourself from the person (or at least take a break). Remembering who you are, or who you want to be without this pain and anger.

Hoping this adds to a better you this year! Keep going!