Count the Ducks

Insomnia Sucks
I can’t count the ducks
They say to count sheep
It don’t put me to sleep

Imagery is great
But it keeps me up late

Now it’s 6:30
The dishes are dirty
I know I should wash them
But I want to squash them

If this made you smile
Then it was worthwhile

And I know that you know
And you know that I’m so
And that sounded brainless
The sheep are now nameless
My mind is so aimless

Too tired to write stanzas
About what a woman and man does

This poem gets worse
With Each Passing Verse

Or maybe it’s clever
In some profound way
It might change your life
Or just make you say…

“You should go to sleep
You’re brain is not deep
You’re just overtired
And think you’re inspired
But thank you for trying
Your poem I’ll keep”

So now it is time
To count the damn sheep
And if I am able
I’ll fall fast asleep

And while I am sleeping
I’ll dream I’m awake
And when I am waking
I’ll wish I could sleep

The whole silly thing
It just goes round and round
But now I have you
And you know what I mean
When I say…

That I paint the sheep
Red, blue and green
Cause I can’t count them nightly
And sleep so politely

You are Not Your Mental Illness

you are not your mental illness

About 1 in 5 people in the U.S. and England suffer from some kind of mental disorder. Other European countries have similar statistics from about 27 percent to 30 percent.  Studies in South Africa say that over 30 percent of adults have suffered from some form of mental illness during their lifetime.

The statistics that have been gathered are similar is most countries with mental illness affecting about 1 in 4 to 1 in 6 people. This is based on information that has been able to be gathered but keep in mind that many people never seek treatment.

People have reasons for not seeking mental health diagnosis due to fear of stigma, lack of enough mental health facilities, lack of health insurance and other personal reasons that deter them.

A mental disorder does not mean you cannot function, keep a job, be a good parent, or that you are not as good as other people. Something is defined as a “disorder” when it interferes in your life in some way. This varies from person to person as to how your life may be affected.

Many people with a mental illness need medication in order to attain their best functionality and their best quality of life. Others are able to manage their mental illness with therapy or other intervention type treatments. Some people choose to use holistic or spiritual methods to deal with their mental illness.

There are many different mental disorders including depression, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder and anxiety disorders such as PTSD and C-PTSD, Everyone is not born with mental illness and all mental illness does not have a genetic factor.

The brain can be affected by trauma and by abuse. Disorders such as PTSD and C-PTSD are caused by abuse or trauma. Other disorders like depression and severe anxiety disorders can have roots in abuse including emotional and mental abuse. There is also a high number of people with other disorders that also either had abuse during their childhood or domestic violence as adults.

Mental and emotional trauma can be caused by violence upon or around a person. It can be caused by being in a traumatic event or witnessing a traumatic event. Other things like living through a natural disaster, living in poverty, the loss of a child, wartime exposure, and many other things.

invisible illness

The brain creates associations related to what it has experienced. Associations in the brain can cause emotional responses that arise from connections in the neural pathways. Different parts of the brain are affected by different mental illnesses. These can be seen in CT scans which were done to study the brains of people with bipolar. depression, OCD and other mental disorders.

If you or a loved one suffers from mental illness you are not alone. With the percentage of mental disorders being around 30 percent most people have friends, family members or loved ones that have a mental disorder of some kind. You may not know about mental illness in all of your friends or family because some people keep it a secret from others.

Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. The stigma about mental illness makes the problem worse by causing people to fear seeking help or to talk to anyone about it.

You are not your mental illness. Neither is your friend or family member. People with mental illness are not usually dangerous. There are only a few mental illnesses that predispose people to violence. Most people with mental illness are suffering within themselves and not causing harm to others at all.

Suicide rates are high in every country. There many death related to suicide and the feelings of hopelessness, shame, guilt , fear and worthlessness that people live with. People who suffer from mental illness are not all the same. People are people and they are all individuals.

Please do not see yourself as your diagnosis or as a label. You are unique and no one is just like you. Each person was born with value and worth that is innate. If you suffer from mental illness you should not have to feel shame about it. You just have an illness that is just as real as any physical illness.

People with physical diseases and illnesses are more likely to be recognized and less likely to be judged as a person, in regards to their diagnosis. Just because mental illness is invisible does not make it any less real or the suffering any less.

Links to Fantasy Coloring Pages – Anxiety and Depression Coloring for Therapy

fantasy coloring

fairy inspired blogspot .com fairyinspired.blogspot.com

Here is the LINK TO SOME beautiful free coloring pages with a fantasy these. I love these. They are from the blogspot blog called  Enchanted Designs Fairy and Mermaid Blog

Coloring is not just for kids. It can have a very therapeutic affect on adults suffering from anxiety disorders, depression and PTSD.

Coloring beautiful pictures can help with PTSD from narcissistic abuse and domestic abuse. It can help to calm down intrusive thoughts from OCD.

You can use colored pencils or colored markers. Markers can bleed through so I usually try to put a blank page between the coloring pages so as not to have colors bleeding through the design below.

fantasy coloring 2fantasy coloring 3

OCDvocate Program – Check out the site and You can sign up to get a free Wristband – OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

This is the linkHERE... to the page where you can sign up for the free wristband and be on the email list
This is the link ...HERE...to find support groups for OCD in your area by typing in your zip code

If you write any posts about OCD dealing with your personal experience, advocacy or any activities supporting OCD sufferers then you can tag them with IOCDF and #OCDvocate and your post will show up when people search those terms.

http://gentlementalannie.com/2015/09/09/2-more-days-tomorrow15-wspd15/

My Two Companions

I’ve taken the pledge and signed up to be an OCDvocate for the International OCD Foundation. You can find out more too and sign up if you want – here. They can even send you a wristband!

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OCD and Anxiety Disorder

I have OCD and I have had it for many years now. I find that my OCD feelings, thoughts and behaviors are directly affected by my general state of anxiety and my feeling of mental stability….or instability.

There have been times when my OCD was so bad that I thought I was going to lose to my because it was so hard to leave the house.  I was in a relationship which began last  May which was 2014. This relationship lasted until he finally cruelly discarded me and did not even tell me we had broken up.

This “break up” was in March…actually it was on  my birthday…at least the last time he talked to me on the phone…with one more very short conversation for a few minutes on the day after my birthday. That conversation seemed to be him confirming that I was completely broken so that he could feel victorious.

Anyway, this post is about OCD, not abusive relationships, but in this case there is a cross over. So, this relationship was emotionally and mentally abusive. I will not go into too many details here, in order not to take away from the topic of OCD and anxiety.

I was very happy at the beginning of this relationship and my OCD  behaviors were there but they were not so bad as to be endangering my job or to really interfere with my life too much. I was used to these behaviors and I had to do them in order to avoid extreme anxiety when I was out of the house…or when I went to sleep.

I do have the germaphobia thing..with the constant handwashing. I was able to hide that at work for the most part. Since I worked at am assisted living with elderly people,

I had to assist them in the bathroom. I would wash my hands several times when I was in the bathroom with them and no one was there to see this but the person with dementia …and they did not think it was weird or even notice it.

After I brought them out from the bathroom. I would bring them to the tv room and quickly run back to wash my hands again. Sometimes I would tell the coworker that I had to go get some supplies of some sort.

The big thing about my OCD is the fear of fire when I am out of the house and my kids are home. The intrusive thoughts are about fire and the fact that there is no fire escape on the third floor apartment where I live.

I also had this same fear of fire when I lived in the last house. That house was much safer and they would have been more likely to get out if there had been a fire, than this house.

So obviously having to move into this house increased my anxiety about fire but the compulsions to check. recheck. and recheck all of the plugs for the appliances was still bad at the last house too.

There were days at the other house where I drove ten minutes and then turned my can around to go back home to check the plugs. This was at its worst when I was in the middle of a severely stressful situation when I lived there.

The OCD compulsions are always worse when my general state of anxiety is high.

So …back to this story….in May I was happy with this relationship. He was a narcissist and at the beginning they do this LOve Bombing thing which means you are on top of the world and can do no wrong.

As the relationship went along the mental abuse including gaslighting tactics got more and more. As the abuse got worse, my anxiety got higher in general. Not just when I was interacting with him. It was all the time and especially bad when I had to get out the door to get to work.

He had convinced me that people at work hated me and that I was in danger of losing my job at any minute. He had convinced me that I was unable to conduct myself properly at work and they were going to  fire me for having mental illness.

He also caused me to believe him about my own mental state being much worse than it was. This cognitive dissonance of what I perceived my mental state to be and what he told me my mental state was….caused me to question my own perception of my mental stability.

This caused me to become more unstable because I thought I must be unstable since I thought it was less bad that he claimed that it was.

This was like a scene right out of the old movie Gaslight!  But I knew nothing  about this movie at the time and had no idea about gaslighting tactics and that people actually did that on purpose to cause you to become unstable and unsure of reality.

The truth is the main mental illness I was having was being caused by him. He drew me into depression, caused me to be on high alert anxiety, and caused me to be very paranoid as he pulled me into this duet of psychosis that psychopathic narcissists do.

But my OCD focused on the plugs in the kitchen. I would check the plugs and then walk away. In would walk back to check them again. I would walk down the stairs and then walk back up again to check them again.

Some days were so bad that I got all the way down two flights of stairs and to my car…only to walk back up all those stairs to check once again.

I would send my teenage daughter texts from work to check the plugs again. I would be uneasy until she texted me back that they were already unplugged.

I felt a general feeling of detachment from reality and often questioned my ability to perceive reality properly,,,,hence I was unsure if I was remembering unplugging things or of it was imagined.

The incessant hand washing also increased and became bad enough that I really had to work hard at hiding the repeated hand washing from coworkers. I would come up with excuses to leave the room so that I could wash my hands and under my nails again.

I just think it is so strange how the brain works. My fear was focused on those plugs and not on the real danger of the abuse, or the danger of losing my job because I was being lead into paranoia about the people I worked for and with.

I did not really know where the true dangers were, so my brain kept telling me that I was going to forget to unplug something and the house was going to burn down with my kids in it, while I was at work.

After the relationship ended the OCD about the plugs went back to what it had been before,,,with the checking them three times in the kitchen and then walking away and then walking back to recheck them.

That is what I still do and it is okay. It is somewhat tormenting but I can get out of the house without crying while I am driving. picturing the house burning down.

So I am wondering if a anyone else who had OCD, notices a difference in the intrusive thoughts and / or the behaviors when you are under severe stress in general in your life. Let me know in the comments. Just curious if anyone else has experienced this.

Stigma about Mental Illness causes People to Put Off Seeking Diagnosis and Treatment

“What is Stigma?
· An attempt to label a particular group of people as less worthy of respect than others
· A mark of shame, disgrace or disapproval that results in discrimination
· Not just a matter of using the wrong word or action – its about disrespect”

                                                                                                      NAMI multicultural action center web site

People with mental health issues sometimes choose to put off seeking much needed treatment, due to stigma in our culture. Once they are diagnosed with a mental illness, people have to live with the problems that go along with being officially diagnosed with a mental illness.

There are potential consequences in regards to employment, insurance and education. This is not to mention the discrimination in social contexts as well.

The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990.  According to the Department of Labor web site, the Disabilities Act protects disabled persons in the following ways…

“prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities. “

Interestingly, when I went to the Disability.gov web site and typed in Mental health, there was no information on the entire web site. It just gave me a list of links to non-government web sites like Mental Health America and National Alliance on Mental Illness.

The same thing happened when I typed in Mental Illness.  Just a list of links to non-profit organizations not affiliated with the government.

The disabilities act may protect people with physical disabilities, but it seems to  provide little  to protect people with mental illnesses like depression, PTSD, severe anxiety disorders,  OCD, and  bipolar disorder.

People that have been diagnosed with mental illnesses are discriminated against on a regular  basis. They are discriminated against in the workplace and when seeking employment.

The employers will get around it by fabricating reasons not to hire someone. They cannot fire someone for having a disability  but they can make up another reason.

The common perception of the public, about people with bipolar disorder is that they are unpredictable and possibly dangerous. Often times when you hear on the news about a person committing a random crime like a robbery, you will hear the news casters attributing the criminals actions to having bipolar disorder.

Of course there are people with bipolar disorder that commit crimes. There are people without bipolar disorder that commit crimes too. But if the news people find out that an offender does happen to have bipolar then they will make a big deal about how the person’s antisocial behavior must have been the fault of their bipolar disorder.

Guess what? Often times when someone commits a violent crime, they have antisocial personality disorder or some other mental illness. Whether or not the person had bipolar disorder probably had nothing to do with their committing a violent crime.

They may have been someone that was misdiagnosed with bipolar. Many sociopaths can convince a mental health professional that they have a different mental illness. They are actors and can manipulate the system.

The person may also have a co-morbid conditions of bipolar and anti-social personality disorder. It would be the anti-social traits that would lead the person to commit a crime, rather than the bipolar.

But it is so often misconstrued by the mental health professional and the news media that the general public has the impression that people with bipolar disorder are prone to crime and outbursts of anger and violence.

Violent crimes and breaking laws are not traits of bipolar disorder, but now you can see why some people put off treatment due to the stigma about bipolar disorder.

People with clinical depression and bipolar disorder are discriminated against for life insurance because they are perceived as a suicide risk. The funny thing is that life insurance does not ever cover suicide anyway!

People with diagnosis for anxiety disorders, bipolar and depression are sometimes discriminated against by colleges. If the college finds out that you have a diagnosis with a mental illness they do not want to risk their precious reputation on you. You might do something to “embarrass them”

They also do not have confidence that you will be able to handle the course load. I know people with mental illnesses that attend college and work harder than many other students. They know what disabilities they have and they work hard to succeed in spite of their condition.

Mental illness is stigmatized in the media and in the movies. When friends find out that someone has mental illness they sometimes assume it is like what they see on tv.

They are afraid of being embarrassed  and are afraid the person may suddenly do something unstable, They may perceive their friend differently even to the point of being afraid of them. This is all due to stigma.

People are all individuals. People with mental illness are also individuals.

No two people with bipolar disorder are the same. They are unique individuals that you have to get to know to find out what they are like.

Nevertheless, a diagnosis of a mental illness can cause discrimination and a loss of opportunities.

It can cause problems socially and with our career. Once people find out you have been diagnosed with a mental disorder, they see you differently, even though you are the same person you were before the diagnosis.

The fear of the stigma keeps many people from seeking the help they need. It is understandable that people feel afraid.

The fact is that 1 in 5 people has a mental illness of some kind.

Thirty-one percent of adults surveyed say they would not seek treatment because they fear what others may think.  NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)

According to this Fact Sheet from NAMI

Approximately 20 percent of youth ages 13 to 18 experience severe mental disorders in a given year. For ages 8 to 15, the estimate is 13 percent.2

 Approximately 1.1 percent of American adults— about 2.4 million people—live with schizophrenia. 3,4

 Approximately 2.6 percent of American adults−6.1 million people−live with bipolar disorder. 4,5

 Approximately 6.7 percent of American adults−about 14.8 million people−live with major depression.4,6

 Approximately 18.1 percent of American adults−about 42 million people−live with anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder and phobias.4,7

THE FAILURE TO SEEK  HELP FOR A MENTAL ILLNESS CAN LEAD TO DETERIORATION OF QUALITY OF LIFE AND IN SOME CASES SUICIDE.

Stigma about mental illness is a huge problem in America. As long as it is not dealt with,  people will continue to suffer.  Many of these people would be an asset to employers, schools and friends, if given the opportunity.

As a result of the continued stigma, people with mental illness often have a lower quality of life and a lower income potential than they should have.

There needs to be more awareness of this important issue. It is unfair discrimination in an age where almost everyone else is protected by discrimination laws.

NAMI is a grassroots organization that helps people and the families of people with mental illness. This is not a government organization. For more information about NAMI you can read this.

Triggers, Emotional Flashbacks and PTSD

Triggers suck.

For people into NLP triggers are called NLP anchors. The difference is that NLP anchors can be good or bad. They might be pre- existing from a past trauma or created to ease the effects of trauma.

They can be put into your mind intentionally to bring about a certain mood or mental state. This is a functional or a therapeutical use for them.

Back in the days of Pavlov, triggers were discovered as a tool for behavioral modification. You know…Pavlov’s dog.

Every time Pavlov fed the dog, he rang a bell first. After a while the dog salivated at the sound of the bell even without the food being presented.

This is how our minds create associations between certain triggers and a corresponding emotional response.

I have ring tones that I hate the sound of. There are songs I cannot listen to.

Certain animals are disturbing to me. Certain situations make me have an anxiety attack.

Some triggers are related to incidents and some are related to specific poem. Some triggers are related to time periods or ongoing abuse. Others are related to break ups from our ex.

There are some triggers that we are well aware of where they come. Other ones may be related to trauma from our past from when we were very young or even infants.

There may be triggers that create emotional flashbacks for you that are from periods of time that you have blacked out from your mind…or I should say that your brain blocked them out in order to protect you.

Triggers can come out of nowhere unexpectedly. We can try to avoid certain known triggers such as my not using certain alarms and ring tones on my phone.

Although every so often I am out somewhere and a stranger’s phone rings with the very ring tone that is now taboo on my cell phone.

There are times when we suddenly feel severe anxiety and have no idea what caused the onset. This can sometimes be an emotional flashback to a trigger we are unaware of.

That is a very tricky one to figure out. You would have to write down all the sights, smells and circumstances that were around at the time of the anxiety attack.

You would have to keep a log of those things each time you had an unexpected, unexplainable anxiety attack. Then look for anything in common between them that was never part of your environment when you are calm.

To make it even more complex, triggers can have more than one component to them. It might not be candlelight or the smell of roses individually that triggers you. It could be the combination of the two of them that does it.

Certain emotional triggers can be healed or at least the effect can be lessened through NLP techniques. Other ones may be harder to deal with than others.

The ones that we cannot identify or do not know what they were caused by are the worst ones in a way. At least as far as there being any hope for treatment.

The more severe the trauma, the more severe the pain from being triggered.

I know many other people deal with this on a day to day basis. For some people certain dates or times of the year are triggers for emotional pain, depression and anxiety.

If you have triggers like I have described here then you have some form of PTSD. It could be straight PTSD or Complex PTSD.  People often have both.

Talking about your triggers or unexplained emotional brain attacks is the first step to healing or at least lessoning the feeling of alienation or isolation due to PTSD or Complex PTSD.

Know you are not alone. There are others of us that understand.

OCD Counting Poetry

One time
in a row
putting on
my favorite
mismatched
orange
and purple
socks

Two times
in a row
changing which foot
the orange sock
is on
and off
and on
and off

Three times
in a row
walking back up
two flights of steps
to my apartment
to check
to check
to check
That the iron was unplugged

Four times
in a row
unzipping my wallet
to see
to see
to see
If my credit card is there

Five times
in a row
checking my purse
for
The first most critical
The second most critical
And
The third most critical
Bottle of pills

Five times
in a row
checking
my shift schedule
posted on the wall
at work.

And one
additional time
calling from home
to have someone
at work
read it to me
over the phone

Seven times
in a row
checking my alarm clock
To be sure
To be sure
To be absolutely, positively sure
That I set it
For 11 am and not 11 pm

And so—
Eight anxiety books
Nine blogs
Ten prescriptions
Eleven Youtube videos
and
Twelve Yoga postures later

I am saying
good-night
to all of you
And wishing you a
Peaceful Sleep

Snow Plows in the Night

I should have gone to sleep already. 

I don’t know why my brain is so wide awake

Too much excitement and anxiety

All thundering  through my brain

My chest is tight with pressure

breath is shallow like gasping for air

Nerves on fire like electricity is streaming 

through every single part of my spine 

Sounds of the snow plows

Back and forth and back and forth

Used to lull me to sleep, long ago

But what used to be my comfort is now a trigger

that locks my mind and won’t let go

Ideas for Lessoning Severe Insomnia

I like listening to talks by Ajahn Brahm. He is a Buddhist monk who gives talks about how to live with a more peaceful mind. His talks are about anxiety, depression and other mental health focused issues. The talks are on YouTube and can be searched by his name.

There is one talk I remember in particular that had a section about insomnia and worrying at bed time. He gave an interesting technique that I would like to share with you.

At bedtime you take off your shoes. Nearly everyone removes their shoes at bedtime so this technique can be used by almost everyone.

You take off your left shoe and call that one The Past. Then you take off your right shoe and you call that one The Future. You set down each shoe and leave them on the floor, outside of the bed. Take off the left shoe and set the Past on the floor. Take off the right shoe and set the Future on the floor.

You never take your shoes to bed, so this way, you remember to leave the past and the future outside the bed. Do not take them to bed with you. They will be there in the morning.

I like this technique because if you associate it with your shoes, then you will always remember it.  You can remember not to take the pain of the past, or the anxiety over the future to bed with you. Set them on the floor and they will be there tomorrow.

Not that I have been able to do this every night, but it is something to work on. It is true that your problems are not going anywhere. They will still be with you tomorrow.

Just as your shoes can wait until tomorrow for you to put pick them back up again, so can the past and the future.

There is nothing that you can do to change the past, recover from past trauma, or to ensure the future, while you are trying to get rest.  Those things just keep you awake. If you could actually just take them off, as easily as your shoes, then you could relax and get to sleep.

Insomnia is caused by worrying about the past and the future.Memories of the past torment you. There are things that should have been …..and things that should not have been….

The future is an unknown and your mind tends to experience obsessive  thoughts about what is going to happen in the future. We have fears of certain things happening.

Sometimes we do not easily identify our thoughts as being past oriented. We think of the past as something that happened years ago. But in reality, anything that happened prior to this moment is in the past. Things that happened at work today and the conversation we just had an hour ago, is in the past.

I am sure it would take a high level of mindfulness (perhaps enlightenment) to  be able to remove the most recent thoughts from our heads, but it is fascinating to me that some people can do that.  Perhaps we could simply allow those thoughts to occur but not feed into them.

I  spend hours each night feeling bad about things in the recent past.  Then I spend precious sleep time   worrying about what events are going to trigger me into post traumatic stress tomorrow.

I am so fearful of being in mental trauma that I fear the triggers of the next day. It is like impending doom. Tonight I am fearful of taking my daughter to therapy tomorrow. I do not like going to therapist offices. I do not like the video camera filming me when I get called in to discuss how I feel about her progress or lack thereof.

The entire situation surrounding her having to go there, is traumatizing to me. Every time I have to go to the office, I a forced to relive trauma . So every week, the night before the appointment, I lay in bed and picture how they will traumatize me in the office tomorrow.

But the truth is that the lack of sleep makes it worse. The more sleep deprived I am tomorrow, the worse the trauma will be. There is nothing productive I can do tonight other than to sleep.

So tonight I will try to take off my shoes and leave them beside the bed, on the floor. The left shoe is my past trauma and the right shoe is tomorrow’s post traumatic stress. Neither one of them belongs in the bed with me tonight.

The  theory of mindfulness says that we should care for our thoughts. Even if  we cannot dismiss them as easily as taking off our shoes, then we can at least be kind to them. Our thoughts and feelings  do not require judgement from us. They are just our thoughts. it is what our mind is choosing to do.

We can be kind to our thoughts by allowing them to exist without judging them or shaming them. If we just let them exist as they are, then  maybe we can not attach so much energy to them. The less energy we give them, the less powerful they will become.

If we can lesson the severity and the energy of the thoughts of the past and the future, at bed time, then it is a good step. It may be easier for us to sleep, than if we fight with our own thoughts like they are our enemy. If they are part of us then so  be it.

Let them exist and then let them rest until tomorrow. We must get  sleep for the sake of our mental and physical health. Perhaps bedtime is the time to focus on our spiritual strength, rather than our mental weaknesses.

I have been pondering these things and cannot do them any better than you can, but I would like to learn. The more we consider mind / body / spiritual connection, in my opinion, the more accepting of ourselves we can become.

Namaste,

Annie

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