Comparing Ourselves to Others…Shame, abuse, mental illness

This was my response to one of the comments I got on a post. I will not say which person commented but they can feel free to comment here if they want to do so. The reason I am posting this, is because I feel that the concern they had was one I have heard many times from people with mental illness, abuse and psychological injury. 

People who have mental pain, have trouble in day to day situations, where other people seem to float right through. Everyone around us seems to have a better handle on just getting through life, than we do. It is so easy to become discouraged by watching other people do things that we either cannot do, or cannot do without mental anguish.

I wanted this reader and all of you, to understand that we are not being fair to ourselves when we compare ourselves to other people. If we are comparing ourselves to someone who has no mental suffering , then how is that comparison fair to us? 

This was my response to a comment that talked about feeling shame, and comparing ourselves to  other people.

People are good at things that they have had the background, the support, and the early wiring to be good at. Even the things we learn when we are older, are easier to learn if we were wired properly when we were growing up.

A lot of the people you are comparing yourself to had parents that helped them to follow the normal development stages and they also had the mental stability to process all of the stages properly, in order for the neurons in their brains to be set up to do these things.

There are chemicals involved in every process we do. The chemicals in our brains are dominating our feelings and our feelings affect how well we can do things. We have behavioral patterns and they are also linked to the organic connections (neurons and chemicals) in our brains.

If there is any trauma, abuse, neglect during childhood / teenage hood, we can end up with things that are not wired properly. We also end up with the chemicals sending the wrong signals and we feel depression, anxiety and worthlessness about ourselves.

Your feelings of not being as good as other people are conditioned behavioral patterns of your brain. Past trauma, abuse or neglect may have caused these patterns. Your inability to things that other people do, may be related to feeling inadequate to do them, feeling depressed, anxiety etc. This is not your fault that you have these chemical, neurological responses to doing things.

If you feel anxiety about something and someone else does not feel that, then of course they will be able to do that thing, better and more easily than you can. It is not fair to yourself to compare your brain on depression or anxiety with their brain that is functioning perfectly well. It does not mean that you can never learn to do it, but it means that it is much harder for you to do things, than it is for them.

When we have mental illness issues, it is more fair to us, if we so not compare ourselves directly with people who do not have any mental illness or trauma in their background. I have recently come to believe this is true

I spent many years wondering why I felt so inadequate to everyone and why I felt so out of place. I had so much trauma in my back ground that I could not keep up with the people that had brains that functioned normally. It was not that I was not as smart, but it was because my brain was and is so traumatized.

I am learning that we have to be kind to ourselves. In order to be kind to ourselves, we have to understand and feel compassion for the fact that trauma, abuse, neglect, depression, anxiety and any other mental issues, does cause us some disability. We cannot always compete with the other people.

We can learn to heal and to slowly rewire our brains. But mostly we have to talk to ourselves like we would talk to someone else that we knew was having trouble feeling as good as everyone else. You are as good as everyone else, whether you can do everything they can do or not.

We all have gifts and are good at things. You might be good at something that those other people suck at. I bet you are better are being compassionate for another human that feels depressed and worthless. The ability to be compassionate is not a gift that a lot of people have. Compassion is a lost art these days. People who have mental suffering can often also be compassionate to others who have depression and anxiety. That makes you better than them at something.

You are also probably better are being introspective and analyzing things.  Many people  just go with the flow of what everyone else is doing and they do not think for themselves. If you can think for yourself then you are better at that too.

I think that we are just better at different things than most people are. There is room for us in the world too. The world cannot be ok, of all of the people just follow the crowd and are all good at the same things.

I hope this helps a little. You are a unique, independent person that can think, care and love. That makes you special and no one is better than you.
Blessings,
Annie

Once we begin to forgive ourselves for how we are, then it gets easier to live with ourselves. People with psychological trauma usually end up with some kind of post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, OCD or other mental disorder. These disorders can be permanent , because the trauma never goes away. But we can learn to shoq kindness to ourselves.

We can learn to be functional, compassionate people. There are plenty of things we can be good at. If we cannot answer the phones for a job, because we have social anxiety then so be it.  If we cannot work at certain types of jobs because we are constantly triggered onto post traumatic stress there, then so be it.

A person with an eating disorder may not be able to work in a bakery. Well if they cannot do that, it does not make them less than anyone else. It just means that they cannot do that activity safely  because of their disorder. Someone who has a phobia of open spaces cannot work in the mall. So, what of it?

We are ok the way we are. We are trying to heal. We are trying to connect with others. If there are things we cannot do, then so be it. It is not because we are less than anyone else. They did not grow up, or have the adult past that we have had. Someone else may not have survived your situations as well as you did. How do they know what it is like in your world?

We all need a break from feeling shame, inadequacy, and worthlessness. We need to show ourselves some kindness and compassion in our thoughts about ourselves. We are doing the best we can with what we have to work with. We have to work with our brains being the way they are, right at this very minute.

Blessings to all,

Annie

There is Always Hope

there is always hope annie

Don’t give up! Sometimes things seem hopeless and life feels like it is not worth it. Things will get better. You matter. There is always HOPE!

Much Love,

ANNIE

Cover me with Roses…poetry for mental healing

Cover me with roses

Cover me with pearls

Turn all of my light off

Let me lie and curl

Cover me with blankets

Cover me with lace

I “breath in”  dark and silence

Dream of elegance and grace

Cover me with solitude

Make the demands all stop

I can’t meet them today

I am all covered

Toe to top

Cover me with blankets

Cover me with pearls

I’m not the one they think

I am a tired little girl

Cover me with nothing

Cover me with all

I am not really here

You will not catch me when I fall

Cover me and leave me

Take sensation all away

The mental torment also

I’ll not come out to play

Cover me with roses

Cover me with pearls

Leave me to my solitude

I am not of the world

Coffee Lids Don’t Fly – Poem

I get confused following directions

When things are on my mind

I have to ask someone for help

The guys just think that it’s fine

But the women that I work for

Have a different thing to say

They don’t think we should ask the men

For help along the way

Sometimes I get so flustered and

Forget what I was going to do

The guys think I’m a sweet girl

But at work it’s no excuse

A policeman was behind me

In the Quick Check, in the line

My coffee lid flew off and landed

Somewhere over behind

He smiled and got me another

No judgement in his eyes

But the women where I work

Think that coffee lids don’t fly!

They think I am bizarre

I don’t give off that perfect air

Of perfect professional lady

Who never falls out of her chair

 

Who Are They to Say Who We Are?

Who are They to say we are…
too fat
too dumb
too afraid
too uneducated
too quiet
too shy
too loud
too impulsive
too set in our ways
too sloppy
too independent
too compliant

Who are They to say that we are only…
a nurse
a teacher
a stay at home mom
a working Mom
a playboy
a rebel
a womanizer
an addict
a mental case

Who are They to say that we can’t…
change jobs
change cities
change our minds!
get married
get divorced
learn yoga
dance
go to college
learn something new

Who are They to say that we have no right to…
talk to them
confront them
disagree with them
stand up to them
defy them
leave them

Who are They to say that we can’t become…
a poet
a businessman
an entrepreneur
a parent
a friend
a traveller
a lesbian
a mother
a spiritual advisor
a leader of men
a thinker of new ideas
a creator
a visionary
Ourselves

Put the Oxygen on Yourself First

My mind is intelligent
But my thoughts are disorganized
My emotions are distorted
My life is confused

My spirit is kind
My talent is creative
My soul is compassionate
My brain is confused

I clean and I wash
I write and sing
I play guitar and write songs
I youtube and blog

As hard as I try

Something always feels neglected

I always feel behind, inadequate

There’s not enough money
There’s not enough time
But there’s lot’s of opinions
On what I should do

Other people’s suggestions
Are not workable in my life
They do not take into account
Who I am or what I want to do

They say that my needs are not
the point, the priority
Apparently my ability to keep up
Is of no consequence

Their feelings matter
Even though they
Do not have to live my life
Or suffer the consequences

They all think they know
What is best for my children
What I am doing wrong
What I should be doing better

But they never lived my life
Suffered my pain
Worked as hard for as little
They could not survive what I have been through

They do not understand

that I have to be ok

And take care of myself

In order to take care of others

They all prioritize themselves
But tell me that my needs
Are not the point
My feelings are of no consequence

To them I do  not matter
My needs are not the point
I should just cease to have opinions

Or stop burdening others with them

But you know
That’s just how they are
They want their way about everything
Even about what I should do

With my life
And how I should take care of my kids
And what I should do about my career
They want to take all my choices away

On the airplane, the stewardess
Always says that in an emergency
Put the oxygen on yourself first
Before putting it on your loved one

This is not to be mean
Or to care more about yourself
It is because you will pass out
Or die from oxygen deprivation

And then
How can you take care of the others?

Body Image and Eating Disorders, Young Women and the Media – Let’s Be Proactive for Our Girls

Body Image issues seem to be part of life for women and girls these days. The magazines still show these anorexic looking models. They should know better than to only show the super thin models.

There are plenty of perfectly beautiful girls and women that are a size 9 , size 12 and size 16 and more.

Magazines create the illusion that the perfect body image is thin. It has been proven that girls look at these models as a role model for body image.

There has been an increase in eating disorders over the last several decades (research by Pyle, Halvorson, Neuman and Mitchell). Research shows that there are 10 times the amount of articles and advertisements promoting weight loss in women’s magazines as compared to men’s.

In a study by Irving in 1990, there was evidence that women exposed to pictures of thin models experienced a drop in self esteem and a dissatisfaction with their body weight.

Young women ( and some young men) are becoming ill and some are dying due to the irresponsibility of the media to show the truth. Internalization of a thin ideal weight has a direct correlation with body dissatisfaction and consequently eating disorders.

The young girls see the super skinny, computer enhanced images and think this is normal. They wonder what is wrong with them and think they need to starve themselves to be beautiful.

The results of this are malnutrition, inhibited development, slower cognitive function, lower test scores, severe anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, suicide and other co-morbidities. Anorexia can cause muscle tissue loss, heart failure and brain damage.

There becomes a tremendous sense of lack of control of their bodies which turns into mental illnesses. In their attempt to match these super skinnies, they end up losing their beautiful figure and becoming a malnourished person who has a lower resistance to infection and disease.

Is this how we want things to continue?

The media needs to take some responsibility and be held accountable for the unrealistic body image they are portraying.

Be vigilant with your daughters, sisters, friends and students. Point out the pictures of the skinny, anorexic looking models and tell your them that it is unhealthy and not the norm. The average size of adult women in the US is size 12, not size 2.

The girls think that men only like skinny women. This is not true. Men love women of all shapes and sizes. Men have individual preferences. Let the girls know that there are lots of men who love curvy women.
Protect our young women with awareness!
God Bless,
Namaste,
Annie

Anxiety and Fear of Authority

It is 2am and I know I need to sleep. I have appointments tomorrow with authority type bureaucracy type people and that always causes severe anxiety and a feeling of threat.

Past traumas have caused my brain to send of alarms of dealing with these types of people and organizations.

I am sure that some of you have the same feeling of threat of authorities. I think that some of us just were not meant to survive in a world of bureaucracy and power people.

There could be a couple of explanations for this for people who have this same fear cycle. I want to validate the people that feel this way and to think through it with you so we can find healing.

I feel that the first step to healing is validation. The next step to healing is understanding the triggers, cycles and reactions of these brain patterns. Then we can find ways to interfere with the automatic patterns.

There is most likely some past trauma with authority that makes people feel threatened. It may be government or civil authority or it may be household authorities.

It is the feeling that someone is in control of our situations and we have no say in the outcome. It is also the feeling that the outcome will be bad.

Some people may have a fear of a lack of control. It is a feeling that our lives, our comfort and our safety are in the hands of other people.

There are ways to feel more empowered but it is easier said than done to simply turn off that fear center of the brain. Some triggers are very imbedded into our brains.

The thing that has helped me lately is the idea that forks in the road are an illusion. When we look back at life there are less true ” forks” in the road than we perceived at the time.

We are all walking on our path. It has turns and curves. It goes this way and that way. The number of life or death “forks” in the road are less than we think.

We fall into this perception that a given situation is going to have tremendous impact on the rest of our lives. Some of the time it is more of a major inconvenience that causes severe anxiety. But whichever way it turns out, there will not be a dramatic impact on the rest of our lives.

The other thing we do is that we run the scenario of the upcoming situation in our minds.

We run through the conversations, the questions, the answers and the doom at the end. Often times when we get there, the entire scenario is different than we expected it to be.

It does not mean that it will go well but it may not go as badly as we expect it to.

Still, there is a fear of the unknown. There is a fear of the anxiety itself. We imagine how we will feel in the situation

. We imagine going into a severe anxiety attack right in the middle of the office. We will appear as someone they will not want to deal with.

The fear of the pain of the anxiety is a big part of the mental torment.

We also feel frustrated and angry that people do not seem to care about us. They will not be understanding or compassionate.

I have mentioned in previous posts that people with social anxiety have a fear of other people that have a lack of compassion and understanding.

Other people seem to have no problem separating the people who have compassion from the people who do not. There are roles that people play in our lives.

Our friends and family are supposed to care about us. People providing professional services that we pay for , are not obligated to have compassion for us.

It would be nice if all people had understanding and compassion for each other. But the reality is that there are few people who act with compassion during  most of their daily interactions.

The thought that everyone “should” have compassion for us is unrealistic. It is a nice idea but it will never happen.

Maybe this is the confusion for us. We want people to listen to us and to treat us like individuals.

We want to be more than just a number.

But the world is made up of people that do their job with no regard for other people’s individual situation, condition, or their lives. It seems like a frightening thing when people can make decisions for our families and our lives without really getting to know us.

The insurance company approves or disapproves a treatment for a person who really needs it without knowing anything about them. The government assesses taxes on a person who it could destroy without having any compassion.

A teacher calls social services on a mother based on a conversation she overheard between two children that was taken out of context. A landlord adds on an enormous late fee to a late rent payment without finding out the situation.

It goes on and on. People do not have compassion and do not take time to hear us. It can be frightening and hurtful.

So here we are. we have to deal with authorities in order to live. For people that are triggered by authority confrontations this can be devastating. Any interaction feels like imminent doom. Often it does not tuen out badly but sometimes it does.

We end up working against ourselves because we go into the office in severe anxiety. The anxiety diminishes our capacity to handle the situation as well as other people would.

Our rational side of the brain is overridden by the fear side.

We dream of a world of peace and love. A world were everyone cares about other people. A world where the individual situation is taken into account.

I am going to sleep now , hopefully to dream of the flowers and rainbows world. So silly.

Together maybe we can think of some tools to cope. I will post anything I find that works. I have compassion for all of you.

Namaste,
Annie

Adult Children of Alcoholics and Interpersonal Relationships

Adults that grew up living in the home of an alcoholic ( or drug addict) parent tend to have some problems with interpersonal relationships. We need help to learn the things that we were deprived of learning as a child about setting boundaries and maintaining balance within relationships.

As a child the world within an alcoholic household was unpredictable, unstable and unsafe.

Children need to feel that they can count on their parents to care for them and to love them. Adult children of alcoholics did not have this type of experience.

There are stages of development that require proper nurturing , support and guidance.

Children in alcoholic households do not properly progress through these stages, particularly in regards to social interaction. We  did not develop a sense of self, and sense of self-esteem, like other children do.

Other children were growing up in families which defined clear roles of each family member. Each member had a place and a value in the family. The roles and responsibilities of the children are appropriate. The family works together as a unit and the older members teach, encourage and guide the younger ones.

This functionality and delegation of appropriate roles is non-existent in an alcoholic household.

In fact, children often take on inappropriate roles and have responsibilities that are unfair for their age. They take on responsibilities that should belong to an adult.

So, the adult coming from this kind of upbringing is truly confused about roles an responsibilities. Often they will voluntarily take on an unreasonable amount of work. They will pick up responsibilities in a relationship that are not appropriate.

A woman may pick up responsibilities that should belong to her husband because he is too sick with alcoholism to do them. A man will take over the job of mother and father to cover for his alcoholic wife.

There is a confusion in the mind of the Adult Child as to what “normal” is and what is fair.

They are often unaware that too much is being dumped on them. They perceive that they are being a helpful partner and are being supportive.

It often does not occur to them when they are being taken advantage of by a romantic partner.

Often the partner they choose is an alcoholic or some other compulsive personality, like a workaholic. Someone who is emotionally unavailable. As much as the Adult Child needs emotional support and love, they lack the self-esteem to know that they are worthy of it.

Realizing that these are common tendencies of an adult child of alcoholism can help the Adult Child to begin to look at their behavioral patterns and their relationship roles more realistically.

As Adult Children of Alcoholics, we tend to believe the emotionally abusive partner acting in a way that is understandable and acceptable. We feel we have done something to deserve it when they attack our self-esteem which is already tenuous.

Children of alcoholics are used to NOT having our needs met. We are used to people being emotionally unavailable to us.

As a children we  had to pick up the slack for the alcoholic parent. We had to make sure dinner was made and other things were taken care of. When the alcoholic parent was disabled , we had to pick up their jobs for them, especially if we had younger siblings. The younger children in the family become used to relying on the oldest child or the oldest daughter to take care of things.

It is very easy for the romantic partner of the Adult Child to take advantage of them. It is easy for them to say things to make the Adult Child feel unworthy , ashamed and obligated to take on an unreasonable amount of jobs.

There is a loss of self if the partner takes advantage of the adult child. .

It is difficult for the Adult Child to identify their own needs. But they are aware and indulgent of the partner even to the point of neglecting their own needs.

Children and especially teenagers of alcoholics have to help the parent, because the parent is disabled to perform even the most basic functions like cooking, cleaning and child care.

Adult children of alcoholics need help, to learn how to have balance in a relationship. They need to be with a partner that is sensitive to the fact that the other person is unclear on the roles. A partner that will help to maintain a fair balance in the work. Someone who is emotionally available and cares about their feelings.

If you are an Adult Child of an alcoholic you may be stuck in a relationship now with an inappropriate partner. The best thing for you to do is to find ways to build your self-esteem.

This would most likely be things that do not involve your partner. Activities that require using your gifts and your strengths and interests would be helpful to increasing your self-esteem.

In order to evaluate a current relationship or search for a new relationship , you need to build your self esteem. When we have a low self esteem, we cannot see things in perspective. We may perceive a relationship as being balanced and fair, even when all the responsibility is being dumped on us.

You need to see yourself as a valuable and worthy person. This will help you to have more clarity of mind and perspective when making relationship decisions.

Without self-esteem a person will continue find themselves in bad relationships.

I would suggest writing down a list of things you are good at. Write down things that you value in yourself and qualities that are attached to your self-esteem.

The more comfortable you become with feeling that you deserve good things, the more you will be able to evaluate situations in a healthy way.

Slowly your life can become more manageable. You will become comfortable with healthy relationships and uncomfortable with bad ones.

God bless you on your path

Namaste ,
Annie

Equal Rights for Anxiety Disabilites

It is amazing how anxiety can infiltrate your day to day life. I did not used to be aware why I was feeling the way I was feeling. I just felt invaded by everything. I was not aware that certain things were triggering anxiety, OCD and post traumatic stress.

The bunny cage needs to be changed. I feel tremendous anxiety in the house now. All I have to do is change it but I don’t have the bunny litter. I am getting ready to go get that now.

But the feeling of anxiety and the path it follows is horrible. It is just a smell and it id very easily fixed. But that is not where the anxiety is coming from. It is not my sweet, cuddly bunny or the smell at all.

It is what that smell is triggering in my poor brain. Triggering is so severely that I find myself walking back and forth and back and forth. I am straightening things. Putting things from one place to another and then changing my mind and putting them back again. I am looking at the pile of clothes on the floor and wanting to cry rather than put them away.

I feel the house will get dirtier and messier against my will. There will be nothing I can do to stop it. It feels like the house and the mess are enemies and it will grow and get worse even as i am out of the house with no one here

The thoughts are  irrational and I know that. I keep trying to figure out what is wrong so I can make it stop.

The problem is that this type of anxiety does not have so much to do with what is right here in front of me. I can straighten the mess and clean the bunny cage. But I will still feel this trauma when I am done.

I will feel that it will just keep being messy, dirty and smelly, no  matter how many hours I spend cleaning, which is so hard because I have chronic pain from herniated discs, arthritis and scoliosis.

The process of cleaning is painful because of my spine injuries. I feel like the house knows this and it creating the mess so I will have to bend and reach and hurt. I feel like the house knows that I will give up and just leave it and then the mess will eat me alive or cause social services to put me in a mental ward.

But all of this is irrational and I am aware of the irrational thinking. I am a very educated , professional person. I am perfectly intelligent and I know the house won’t bury me in my sleep.

But the smell and the mess are triggering a severe buried memory of a horrible traumatic situation I lived in long ago. So traumatic that I can’t remember pieces of it. There are blacked out spaces of time in my brain. I do not have any desire to open them up either.

I think if your mind blacks things out, that is its way of protecting you. Your brain knows you would not survive remembering those things, considering how severe the anxiety is with the things that you do remember.

So recognizing the fact that my current anxiety is being caused by past abuse, is helpful. I am not crazy or too picky about how the house smells.

The fact that my tolerance for smells like that is more intolerable to me that to other people is just a symptom of post traumatic stress.

We have to be tolerant of ourselves. We have to be forgiving and kind to ourselves about these attacks. Especially because other people are less than patient with us about it. If we tell someone we have to clean up this thing right now, they don’t understand why it has to be right now.

They may want us to do something else now and clean the mess later. They think  we are being uncooperative with them that we have to do things “our way.”

The truth is that we are NOT really demanding to do things our way. We are not trying to be difficult or ruin the other person’s schedule. Sometimes we HAVE to do something right now. If it does not get rectified right now then the anxiety will continue to increase to an unbearable level.

If we go with them to do what they want without taking care of reducing our anxiety first then we will not feel good at all while we are with them. We will get more and more traumatized by the things going though our mind.

Somehow it has to get to a point where people will be understanding of severe anxiety disorders and tolerate letting you perform your rituals that help reduce the levels. They should tolerate and understand if going out to a social activity is simply intolerable to us on a particular day.

We are expected to be tolerant of all kinds of differences in people. We are even ordered by law to not discriminate against people for color, sex, or disabilities. But mental illness like anxiety, depression, and OCD are not tolerated or sympathized with.

We have to make allowances for others that require unique understanding or adaptations. There are handicapped access ramps, translators an interpreters etc.

Where is our handicap ramp that will allow us to be 10 minutes late for work because we were having a severe panic attack? Where is our interpreter to translate what we are going through to someone who does not understand our language? An interpreter for what is going on in our brains and how it affect us in a physical way?

Who will advocate for us with our invisible disability?

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