Tag Archives: mental-health

HILARIOUS example of CBT

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So in addition to this photo being HILARIOUS—I think it’s a great visual of CBT.  Hold on—I’ll explain.

Last post I discussed the importance of CBT, cognitive-behavioral therapy.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of treatment that focuses on examining the relationships between thoughts, feelings and behaviors. By exploring patterns of thinking that lead to self-destructive actions and the beliefs that direct these thoughts, people with mental illness can modify their patterns of thinking to improve coping (NAMI).

CBT is a great tool for many mental illness, for me it’s been particularily helpful for managing my anxiety and “getting rid of the garbage” I discussed several posts ago. For those of us “lucky” enough to deal with mental illness, anxiety in particular, we often have many scary thoughts predicting the worst possible outcomes—regardless of the likelihood of the predictions coming true. When ignored or improperly dealt with, they can begin to take on a life of their own. Similar to the child in the photo, we can see this huge ball coming straight at our heads, and there is nothing we can do to stop it. It’s terrifying and dehabilitating….

BUT there’s hope!  With CBT, we can transfer ourselves to the second photo. One great tool is the “Dysfunctional Thought Record” I’ve attached below. It can help you identify a situation/thought, examine it for realism, and compose alternative responses. 

 When I’m feeling particularily anxious, I will do one of these to help me regain a sense of reality.  So I tend to do them at least three times a week.  While you can do them alone—sometimes you might need an outside perspective to help provide  the alternative responses. It’s great if you have someone you can trust to look at it, otherwise taking it with you to therapy is always a good option.

I have one final piece of advicethat is not covered on the DTR I attached, write down the alternative response you identify. Unfortunately, completing the DTR will rarely eliminate the anxious thoughts for good, instead they might intermittedly continue to bother you. Use the alterenative response you identify to combat the thoughts as they continue to pop into your head.

So like that baby now realizes, when that ball starts coming towards your head—remind yourself, that it can’t hit you. And if you can—laugh at the ridiculousness of the thought!

Anyone else use this tool?  If so, what’s your experience with it?

Try it—and let me know if you  have any questions or need an outside perspective—maybe we can muddle through the waters together.

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Intervention Matters

Intervention Matters.

If I wasn’t so partial to “One Wave at a Time”, I might change my motto to “Intervention Matters”.

And by ‘intervention’ I mean diagnose and treat. And by ‘matters’ I mean is life changing (or as a comedian would say “a BIG F****** deal”).

My personal adventure with mental illness demonstrates this, as well as a study from the child mind institute I heard recently regarding the progression of anxiety disorders in children.  I will be simplifying and summarizing this study, but I realize you all have other things to do then read my blog all day!

Part One: Child Mind Institute Study

Stage One: Between the ages of 5-9, anxiety disorders in children often manifest themselves first in the form of obsessive thoughts and compulsions.  

Stage Two: Around middle school, if the disease has been left untreated the stress of the disorder on the brain progresses, results in other anxiety disorders, most commonly generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder.

Stage Three: Again, if left untreated, the stress on the brain results in bipolar 2 in high school and early college. This is when depression is most likely to show as well.

Stage Four: If left untreated, the individual might progress to bipolar 1 or experience some other form of emotional breakdown that results in a hospitalization.

You might have noticed that I continually used the phrase “if left untreated”. This was intentional, not just a lack of vocabulary on my part.  See, the key part of the finding was that if diagnosed and treated the child is 30-50% less likely to progress to the next stage.

Note: I apologize I cannot find the link to this podcast…my professors would give me an “F” for plagiarizing since I do not have the source, but I’m hoping you’ll cut me a bit more slack!)

Part Two: My Story

You’ve read about a lot of my different symptoms and experiences, so I’m not going to rehash them here.  Long (15 year long!) story short; my symptoms got progressively worse until the age of 21 when I was diagnosed.

I’m blessed that I don’t have a dramatic breaking story. Instead, the summer after graduating from undergrad I was living at home before I started a graduate program at IU. I spent abnormal amount of time crying and my mom asked me if I wanted to go talk to someone. I have no doubt I would likely have a much uglier story if I had not lived at home that summer and had her intervene.

I began a medication regime and started therapy.  Neither of which I was particularly happy about at the time, but really who is? 

As you all know, I still have bad days (and unfortunately bad weeks), but  I also have seen a tremendous amount of improvement and progress.

So as you can see—in my life a diagnosis and treatment (intervention) changed my life (matters).

Now that I’ve convinced you intervention matters—the question becomes, “What is intervention?” but more importantly “What is SUCCESSFUL intervention?” 

As an adult, we notice the girl in our class is more moody than most, the boy on our soccer team is more aggressive than expected, we suspect our daughter is struggling with more than teenage angst—now what?  As the adult and often times decision maker—what treatment options do we pursue? What type of intervention do we seek?

That is the question is nearly impossible to answer—but research is trying.  I found a great study I’m going to address in the next few posts.  But what are your opinions? Either as a consumer or advocate—what is the first course of treatment you suggest or encourage?

Oh and by the way

Hope you all had a 

Merry Christmas!

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Get out of your own way!

NCAA Div 1 Soccer Championship

NCAA Div 1 Soccer Championship

My husband and I took a spontaneous road trip to Alabama last weekend. By no means are we groupies (I unfortunately realized this year that college boys are too young for me…I’m getting so old!). But we do like watching soccer. On Friday, IU our Alma Mater, won a semi-final game qualifying them for the National Championship on Sunday. Around two on Saturday, while doing some work and I texted my husband, “Hey–let’s go to Alabama”.  He writes back “Is this you procrastinating from work?” Me: “Um…yes?  But I’m serious”  So an hour later we found ourselves pulling out of our parking lot headed to Birmingham, Alabama–heartland of America.

My adrenaline had me running through the hour of getting ready, but as we get into the car I started panicking   “WHAT AM I DOING? WHY DID I THINK THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA?”  Here’s a list of the things I was worried about:

  1. I had work that needed to be done
  2. I wanted to clean the bathroom
  3. I wanted to cook and freeze some food for the week

Now…these were all legit concerns, but I had weighed them (albeit briefly) before I sent my husband the text about going. But know what my largest concern was? BEING ANXIOUS! Yep, I was worried about triggering a mood swing because we would be getting completely off my schedule. I’d be up late, sleeping in a different place, and traveling–all which can cause anxiety for me.  And wait, does this idea mean I’m going into a manic swing? Should I not go??

But you know what!

I NEEDED TO GET THE HECK OUT OF MY OWN WAY!

Sure, keeping a schedule is good for me. But know what else is good? Spending time with the hubby. Building good memories. Feeling like a “normal” person. AND HAVING FUN!

The ACTUAL trophy--can't believe they let me get that close...I didn't break it though!

The ACTUAL trophy–can’t believe they let me get that close…I didn’t break it though!

Sometimes, we just need to get out of our own way and let ourselves cut loose. Having a mental illness is alot of work and sometimes to stay healthy you do miss out on stuff–so give yourself some space to have fun. This spontaneous trip was great and it reminded me how much better I can feel when I let myself have a good time.

So tonight–in honor of this post I am going to make myself a peppermint milkshake. And I give all of you permission to do so as well!  Screw calories and do something fun!

Yes, I am drinking it out of a wine glass.  Got a problem with that?!

Yes, I am drinking it out of a wine glass. Got a problem with that?!


  oh and btw: THEY WON! GO HHHHOOOOOSSSSIIIIEEEERRRRSSSS!!!!!!!!

Eyewitness to the EIGHTH National Soccer Championship

Eyewitness to the EIGHTH National Soccer Championship

 

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BREAKING NEWS!!!!!! A Benefit of Mental Illness Uncovered

I tend to think of mental illness as that ugly sweater you get from your great aunt at Christmas. You know what I’m talking about, the itchy wool one that doesn’t come with a gift receipt. Yet, there is a good thing or two about the gift—your aunt was thinking about you and in the case of being robbed, you’re guaranteed to have at least one article of clothing left!

So recently I’ve been looking to identify and appreciate aspects of my personality and life that are positively affected by my mental illness. One of the first things to come to mind is my natural tendency toward empathy.

I teach a class of K-2nd graders at church on Wednesday nights and they are AWESOME.  There’s nothing better than playing freeze tag with a bunch of munchkins to remind you of the good in life. After getting pushed down last Wednesday, a little boy came up to me crying and told me, “My elbow needs some love”.  How can anyone resist that?  I clearly couldn’t. So I let him curl up in my lap till it felt better.  Nobody can resist giving love and sympathy in a situation like that.

But what about other situations? Like say if an adult told you their elbow needed some love?

During a party my parents hosted for my dad’s college students, a girl was complaining to my mom about a high level of school stress. My mom looked at her and goes, “Yeah, go complain to Tabitha. She’s way better at the sympathy than I am.” So she came to me, vented a while. I did what I do and at the end she goes “Wow—you are good at this”.

While this is a minor example, I feel like I can be a comfort in more serious situations as well. While I cannot say, I “know how you feel” to everyone I comfort, I can say I understand pain. From my depression I understand hopelessness and despair. From my anxiety I understand fear and worry. From my bipolar I understand irritability and mood swings. And those feelings are never too far removed that I forget how painful they can be.

I like that about myself. I like that I can offer comfort and support to a wide variety of people. So while it might suck to have such intense emotions, in those times of comforting others I can honestly say I’m glad I have experienced them.

I write this to thank you all as well. This is a quality that is so pervasive in the mental health blogging community. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been uplifted by a reader’s comments. Or how many times I’ve read about a blogger struggling, just to see them give hope and encouragement on a fellow blogger’s site. You all are amazing!  Love and appreciate that about yourselves alright?!

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Wednesday Wishes: Number Twenty-One

Have you ever read one of those “Ten things your guy wished you knew” or “Ten things your mother-in-law would never tell you but thinks you should know” (though in many cases—unfortunately for you, there’s nothing your mother in law wouldn’t tell you). Well I wanted to create a lists of things that those of us who struggle with mental illness wished the rest of the world knew—and hopefully get insight from my support team about what they wish I knew!

Number Twenty-One: I wish you would stop deciding to “try and see if you really need your medicine”.  You do. Life is better for everyone when you take it.

Love, Sidney (and I’m sure other members of my support team)

[First “Wednesday Wish” from the support team viewpoint!]

Disclaimer: Not all of these thought will reflect all people, in the same way not all “Ten things your guy wished you knew” would relate to my husband—some will not even relate to me. They are thoughts/concerns/opinions I’ve heard when talking with fellow adventurers along the journey that is mental illness.

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Absence makes the heart grow fonder

While I was home for Thanksgiving my parents, who are faithful followers of my blog, asked why I have not posted recently. I gave the standard, easy answer “I’ve just been really busy and stressed out”.  While true (I learned at an early age that lying to mom and dad can only end badly…very badly), after some self-reflection this afternoon I realized there was more to it.

An awesome blogger over at Purple Dreamer helped me uncover the other part of this equation. I was reading through the “rules” of a blog nomination she gave me (more on that later) when I came across a series of questions I was suppose to answer. The first question is “Why do you blog?” That’s spelled out pretty clearly on the purpose of my blog, “providing hope, insight, and awareness for life with mental illness”.  But that is the mission of many amazing bloggers and writers already, so why do I think I have something to add? For me, I try to address a specific audience by to bringing life and emotion to the more tangible facts, knowledge, and coping techniques by being vulnerable and open about my life and struggles…..

And the “AH HA” moment.  No, not the new facts or knowledge, I’ve actually listening to a lot of podcasts recently. The problem is the vulnerability.  See I haven’t really been doing all that well recently. I am not the worse I’ve ever been, if I was I would have been forced to stop and deal with it. Since I’m only kinda bad, I’ve decided it was just easier to ignore the darkness that was going on inside.

I’m ashamed to admit I am a Hunger Games addict.  How can you not have a crush on a small crush on a gorgeous buff blue-eyed baker? But I digress, during the rebellion one character says, “It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart.”  This is what I’ve been doing recently—I don’t feel like I have time to fall apart, I am completely overwhelmed with work and my job. So instead of putting forth the effort needed to address what’s going on, I’ve done just enough to hold myself together.

Let’s pretend Sidney brings me home a vase filled with flowers. As I’m arranging it on the table it slips from my hand (believable right?) and a small crack appears.  I have three options:  a) ignore it, b) slap some tape on it, or c) examine the break, find the right glue to fix it, hold it to the glue dries. Then rearrange the flowers back in the vase. Since I’m running around like crazy right now—I’d likely put the tape on it (especially if I could find some pink duct tape laying around!).

I know you think you know where I’m going with this—if you ignore something too long it will eventually break….true. But I want to focus on another side of it.

Duct tape and visible cracks are not pretty to look at, and don’t allow the vase to function at its full potential.  Water is likely leaking down and dripping through the cracks.  So while I’ve been cruising along in my life, throwing duck tape on the anxious or depressed thoughts, I’ve impaired my ability to reach my potential.  I’m not happy right now. I’m just existing. I make a “to-do” list at the beginning of the day, work on accomplishing it, go to bed, wash rinse repeat. And since I never stop to be open, to be vulnerable, and introspective, I have not identified and dealt with the garbage of thoughts going on in my head, impeding my life.

I justify it by saying Oh I’m too busy to do my thought journals, I’m too busy to meditate, I’m too busy to identify cognitive errors. And I’m certainly too busy to deal with anything I might find during the process. When it should really be, I’m too busy NOT to identify what’s going on in my head. I’m too busy NOT to be using my brain at its full potential.

I think everyone’s brain collects garbage and false thoughts throughout the day/week/etc. but I think those of us with a mental illness collect more of them, in a faster period of time, and store them more deeply. While many people can drop these thoughts during coffee with a friend, a hard work out, a phone chat—those of us with mental illness require a bit more work to stop the party going on. Our brains have lots of confusing dark crevices, wrong turns, and trap doors for the thoughts to hide behind.  So if I’m going to be successfully living with a mental illness, I’m going to need to remember to clean out the junk drawer that is my brain.  I need to commit to writing my blog, journaling, going to therapy, talking to my support team—even when that means I might drop an hour of work, miss out on a social event, order pizza two nights in one week…

I must remember that I deserve to be healthy and happy—not just existing. And being mindful of my thoughts and emotions is a huge part of that.

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I wish I were….

I wish I were calm…
                then my head and shoulders could relax.

I wish I were happy…
                then I could smile more.

I wish I were stronger…
                then I could manage my emotions.

I wish I were confident…
                then I could believe I am pretty.

I wish I were whole…
                then my brain wouldn’t be broken.

I want to make my wishes come true

 I wish she were more open…
               then I could hold her till she relaxed.

I wish she were perceptive…
                then she would see how much I love her smile.

I wish she were aware…
                then she would know she’s the strongest person I know.

I wish she were trusting…
                then she would believe how beautiful I find her.

I wish she were assured…
                then she would see how beautiful her brokenness is.

I want to make her wishes come true.

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” Jeremiah 31:3

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Wednesday Wishes: Number Twenty

Have you ever read one of those “Ten things your guy wished you knew” or “Ten things your mother-in-law would never tell you but thinks you should know” (though in many cases—unfortunately for you, there’s nothing your mother in law wouldn’t tell you). Well I wanted to create a lists of things that those of us who struggle with mental illness wished the rest of the world knew—and hopefully get insight from my support team about what they wish I knew!

Number Twenty: Following in line with Monday’s post….I wish I could express to you how I feel.

To help with that!  I’ve uploaded pictures of the feelings list I discussed!

Let me know–do these helps? Do any particular words resonate with you?

 

Disclaimer: Not all of these thought will reflect all people, in the same way not all “Ten things your guy wished you knew” would relate to my husband—some will not even relate to me. They are thoughts/concerns/opinions I’ve heard when talking with fellow adventurers along the journey that is mental illness.

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Wednesday Wishes: Number Nineteen

Have you ever read one of those “Ten things your guy wished you knew” or “Ten things your mother-in-law would never tell you but thinks you should know” (though in many cases—unfortunately for you, there’s nothing your mother in law wouldn’t tell you). Well I wanted to create a lists of things that those of us who struggle with mental illness wished the rest of the world knew—and hopefully get insight from my support team about what they wish I knew!

Number Nineteen: Make “my” limitations “OUR” limitations when we are in your social network. For example, after we drive 9-10 hours to get to Sidney’s parents’ house I can’t jump immediately into dinner/socializing/big plans. I need at least 30 minutes to relax and get out of my anxious car mindset!  If Sidney takes this time with me, and tells his parents WE need a break, I feel less self-conscious. By presenting us as a team, he helps prevent judgment or misunderstanding.

Disclaimer: Not all of these thought will reflect all people, in the same way not all “Ten things your guy wished you knew” would relate to my husband—some will not even relate to me. They are thoughts/concerns/opinions I’ve heard when talking with fellow adventurers along the journey that is mental illness.

337 W. 11th Street

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Man’s best friend….Again

As some of you know, I’ve been following the research regarding service dogs and treatment for PTSD.  The more I read about it, the more amazed I am at its success. The service dog in the article link below wakes his owner up at the BEGINNING of nightmares–before his owner even realized they were occurring. He also is able to sense anxiety in his owner and is trained to stay close and show affection during these times.  Anecdotal evidence is showing that service members paired with these dogs require less medication and are significantly less likely to attempt suicide.  I hope the research related to this movement progresses so the VA will help pay the costs of veterans being paired with service dogs. These folks deserve the best possible treatment when the return home, even if the treatment seems a bit out of the box!

http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/realestate/sns-201210091900–tms–petwrldctnya-a20121010-20121010,0,1068272.column

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