mental health, mental illness, stalking

January is Stalking Awareness Month

January is stalking awareness month. Stalkers are dangerous people. They are controlling and obsessive.

They will focus their attention on one person and spend inordinate amounts of time making sure they know where they are and what they are doing.

Stalkers will contact the victim to let them know that they are being stalked. They will call or send text messages to inform the victim that they know what they are doing. It is very unsettling for someone to call you and tell you they know what you are doing and who you are with.

There are different methods for stalking.  Before social media and cell phones, stalkers would physically follow their victims and watch them with binoculars.

Nowadays stalkers use downloadable apps to follow their victim. The victim’s cell phone can be tampered with to add a tracking app. The stalker can follow the person using their cell phone.

My personal experience was with cyber stalking, My ex used to call me and question me about what web sites I visited. He seemed to know what web sites I had memberships to and what days I went on them.

One time he called me . just minutes after i had gone onto Christian Mingle.com. (I had already moved and broken up with him). I clicked into the sight, entered my password and bam, the phone rang.

It was him and he was questioning me as to why I was on the dating site. At first I started to defend myself, reminding him that we had broken up and I was free to look at the dating sights. After a few seconds the light bulb went off.

I asked him how i the world he could possible know that I had just been on that particular sight. He told me that he had a program installed in my computer, when I used to live with him. He was able to follow where I went from his own computer, while I was on mine.

He said it followed me by my email address, but it is hard to know if he was telling the truth. I immediately changed my email address and closed all of the accounts I had. It took me a couple of days to change everything. It was really a pain to have to do.

Once he finally confessed to me,  lot of other things began to come together and make sense. I never understood how he would end up outside of the stores and places I used to go, when we were dating.

One time I told him I was going to the grocery store but I ended up shopping on Amazon for a while first. He called me from work and asked me why I had not gone to the store. He asked me why I was on the computer and not at the store yet. I was confused at the time about how he knew I had not left yet. He was supposedly already at work.

It seems to me that he had to be accessing my emails as well. I sent someone an email one day  that I was going to physical therapy. I decided to get my nails done after therapy. I walked over and set up the time with her for a half an hour from then and I walked over to Quick Check to get a coffee while I was waiting.

When I came our of Quickcheck, he was  there. I thought it was a weird coincidence and he did frequent that store to get coffee. When I saw him, I said hello. He was angry and looked at me as if he were disgusted.

“I thought you were only going to physical therapy and then straight home,” he said accusingly.

I told him that I had never agreed to come straight home and that I had decided to make an appointment to get my nail done, across the street. He said he was angry because I had not let him know that.

I explained to hm that the nail appt only took  about 20 minutes and it did not alter my original schedule very much. Besides I thought  he was working. What was the difference what I did with my money and my time?

He told me that in the future he expected me to let him know if I intended to stop anywhere on the way home from therapy. I told him that was difficult for me because I like to do things like that, on the spur of the ,moment. I like to pop in and ask them id they have any appointment that day.

He was very angry and asked if someone was meeting me there in the parking lot. I said o and that my appointment was in a couple of minutes. I had to go and walk  across the street to the nail salon now.

He was angry that I would stay there and talk to him. I reminded him that when he had a haircut appointment that he went on time. Therefor I needed to be on time also. The nail technician has a schedule to keep.

He did not care about my being on time and he was still suspicious that some guy was meeting me there.

He must have been following me in his van when I walked from the house to physical therapy. I did not notice or look for that, because I was not aware of him following me.

To this day, I still get creeped out when I see a van the same size and color as his van.

At some point when I lived with him, he bought the computer program and put in on my computer. He added my email to it and was able to watch what sites I went to. I have no idea if he was able to get into my personal accounts or just see where I visited online.

Recently, Linked in sent me an email telling me that my linkedin account had been viewed 3 times in  2 week period. Guess by who? When does it stop ? I have not seen him in a year.

My guess is that he kept going back to the linkedin account, in order to find out where my new job was. I had changed jobs to keep him from showing up at my work. After we had broken up, he showed up and was waiting for me in the dark parking lot after work.

One time he put something in my car and then called me later to see if I get it. It was his way of letting me know that he knew where I parked and that he had opened the door to my car. He easily could have crawled into the car and waited for me to get in.

It was very creepy and that was one the reasons I changed jobs. I never put my new job on linkedin , nor have I put it anywhere on the internet. That is why I do not have it on wordpress either. I never post where I work, because he is still trying to find out.

Stalking causes some victims to have to move in order to be safe. Some stalking situations escalate into violence and even death. Victims of severe stalking cannot fo anywhere without feeling threatened. They end up isolated and locked into their house.

Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Center Inc. hotline: 620-663-2522
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224

Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network: 1-800-656-4673

National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-866-331-9474 or 1-866-331-8453

http://victimsofcrime.org/our-programs/stalking-resource-center

Stalking resources and help link above.

mental health, mental illness

3:18 …Time for Annie to send you off to sleep with a funny story..

It is time to go to sleep for those of us that stay up too late.. One way I can sometimes help myself let go of some of the anxiety, depending on how bad it is, is to think of a funny story from work.

As some of you know, I work with elderly dementia patients. They have various levels of Alzheimer’s Disease or other forms of dementia. (I will do a post about types of dementia and the stages of dementia sometime. )

So, now for my story. ..This is about a feisty old lady, let’s call her Marla. So, Marla never wants to go to bed and if she does go to bed before 11 pm, she always gets up again, She is not allowed to walk by herself because she is very shaky and could easily fall.

She does not understand this and we often find her walking without her walker or wheelchair . So far, someone has managed to catch her before she falls.

So, tonight , she was half way up the hallway, no walker, sliding herself along the wall. I got to her in time and had someone else bring a wheelchair to put under her. We brought her into the living room and wanted to keep an eye on her there for a while.

She decided that  she wanted to leave and she to walk back to her room. She stood  up from hr seated position in the wheelchair, still holding onto the armrests. Holding tightly to the chair , she began walking and trying to drag the 40 pound, wheelchair along with her.

I looked at her with great curiosity, as I had never seen anyone try to walk and drag the wheelchair along behind them.

She was fairly safe because if she lost her balance, she was going to land in the seat, which was just behind her. But I stayed as close as she would allow, just in case the chair would roll back as she was landing.

She gave me a disgusted look and announced  , “This chair is too heavy!  Why did you give me one that is so heavy!  How am I supposed to carry this?”

I smiled at  her, “Well, Marla, most people do not carry their wheelchair. I’m fact I am certain that the wheelchair company does not take that into account, when they decide on the weight of the chair. They are not expecting you to carry it”

Even more disgusted than before, Marla furrows her brow and says, “Well how else am I supposed to get this thing to my room?!”

“Marla,” I am trying not to laugh at this point “you can sit in the chair and roll in it.”

“How do other people carry this chair?” she demanded.

I said , ” Other people sit in the chair and roll it with their feet. That  is what other people do.”

“NO!  ” She said. They should not make things so heavy that I can’t carry them. I do not want to leave it here.

She continues  standing, walking and holding onto that wheelchair , to drag it along behind her.  She is making about one millimeter of progress every couple of seconds.

I tried to reason with her. I tried to get her to sit. But she just kept on at it… mumbling… “These damn wheelchair makers! They don’t know what they are doing. How the hell do they expect a woman to carry this damn heavy thing all that way…”

Other people came in to assist at that point. It was late and the girl who works midnight shift said she would take over. I think they got her to sit just before I left. Or her legs gave out and she sat kn her own.

I still can see her in my mind, dragging that damn chair. It is a good thing she did not actually try to pick it up. I was half expecting her to try that next. Well…tomorrow is another day…

You’ve got to give her credit though. She doesn’t give up easy! She probably has more determination that most of us.

Good night. I am thinking of all of you and hope you sleep well. I am also thinking of Marla and hoping she is not up at 3am trying to drag that damn chair from her room, out to the living room.

🙂

adult children of alcoholics, holiday ideas, holiday stress, holidays, life

Empathy and Compassion

I watched a short  video today by  by Brene Brown. It is a cartoonized portrayal of characters showing empathy. I felt inspired by this video to post my own thoughts about empathy and compassion.

.. The ideas in this video are powerful and it is well explained in the video.. In order to really listen to someone in a way that helps them, we have to find something in ourselves that helps up to relate to their situation.

It could be that someone has a problem that we have not experienced. But there is a good chance that the emotions they are feeling are things we have felt before.

I am going to give my own feelings and experiences and then I will put a link to the video that inspired me to post this.

I have never had Alzheimer’s disease yet I am able to empathize and connect with my clients in a meaningful way. If one of them is feeling scared because she does not know where she is , I can relate that feeling.

I once was  very lost in Baltimore City in a downtown neighborhood, I did not belong in. I was driving all by myself and I became very disoriented and could not understand the map.

I did not feel safe stopping to ask for help. I was afraid something bad would happen to me.

I could run out of gas or become so upset that I would have to pull over. The neighborhood was full of gangs and had a high crime rate.  Being lost there felt very dangerous and I was in extreme panic..

This is how it feels sometimes  to someone with Alzheimer’s disease or any kind of dementia.

They come out of their room and have no idea where they are. They do not recognize the people from yesterday. Everything is strange and frightening. They do not know who is safe or who they can ask for help.They are afraid of what bad things could happen to them, because they are alone and lost in a strange place.

So, in this way, I can draw from an experience in my memory, to put myself in their place.

If you begin by feeling this vulnerability in yourself then you can connect with the person.

Once I see what they are feeling and connect with that feeling inside of myself, I can begin to say and do the things that will help them.

I will say to them ,”I know you feel scared. You don’t know where you are. This is a safe place for you to be.”

I explain to them,  “The people here are nice and we are here to take care of you and make sure your needs are met. I will walk with you and show you your room and the dining room where we will eat. See, there are your things and your bed. You have a nice room here that you can sleep in tonight. You are safe. You are safe.”

It feels good when someone realizes that you really do understand. It is the best way to help someone else. You validate their emotions of  fears, sadness, depression or anxiety. Let them know that you have felt that way before also.

“I have been afraid before also. If I was here and did not know where I was , I would be afraid too. But you are safe and everything will be ok tonight for you. I will be here to help you find your way.”

We all need someone to help us find our way sometimes. The compassion of one person to another is true humanity.

See the link for the video below. It is very short, only about 2 minutes.

Namaste,

Annie

anxiety, depression, healing poetry, health, holiday ideas, holiday poem, holiday stress, life, poem, poetry, wellness

A Corner That’s Quiet

I just want to rest

Away from the stress

A corner that’s quiet

Please let me try it

Away from the mean ones

Just myself alone

To think my own thoughts

To cry and to moan

To feel what I feel

Without being told

Just who I should be

And what I should own

I just want to sit

In silence right here

No yelling or scolding

No judgement or pain

I want to be me

The way that I am

In my perfect world

Inside of my heart

Because all that I own

Is inside of my soul

They can’t take it from me

I won’t give them control

abnormal psychology, health, mental health, mental illness, non-fiction, short story, wellness

Old and Tired at 101 years old

I had a conversation with a man that is 101 years old. The other workers told me to stay with him for a while because they thought he had become confused and forgetful. They thought he would not be safe alone in is room.

So, I sat with him and asked him what was up. He told me.

He said, “I am old.”

I said, “How old are you?”

He said, “I was born in March of 1913.”

“You are 101 years old? Wow, that is really neat.” I said

“I am old.” he said ” I am old and tired. They all think I am confused because I say that. But I am old and I am tired. I don’t understand why I am still here.”

He continued on “The same thing happened to my mother. She lived to be over 100. She was not happy about it. She was old ad tired.”

“I understand,” I said. “You are old and tired and everything is hard for you. Your family and friends are all in heaven and you don’t know why you are still here.”

“That’s right,” he said.

It is strange to me that people think someone is confused when they say they no longer want to be here on the earth.

Sometimes people are old and tired and they are just done. That is how they feel. They are not confused about it. They are only wondering when they will die and why they are still here when everyone they love has passed on.

They miss their spouse and their children who have long since passed away. It is not easy to be 101 years old.

He is not forgetful or disoriented at all. he is not confused. he knows exactly how he feels and no one wants to listen to it.

Feeling like you want to die is unacceptable. It is not proper therefor the person must be confused or have dementia.

I spoke with this man for 20 minutes and he had no signs of dementia. His memory is better than mine is.

Afterwards I told the supervisor that he was depressed. She said “he is forgetful and confused.”

There is a difference between forgetful and disoriented and being depressed. Most people don’t expect old people to feel depressed.

They think they are too old to have anything going on with them except dementia and forgetfulness.

Sometimes people feel the way they feel, even if it doesn’t fit into people’s comfort zone.

I was glad they called me to sit with him. He was honest and forthcoming with me because I was willing to listen without judgement.

Whenever someone says they don’t want to live, people tell them “You don’t mean that”. But they do. People don’t say things like that if they don’t really feel that way.

At least someone listened and believed him. It isn’t much but it was the least I could do.

Namaste,
Annie

health, mental health, mental illness, neurology

How Stella and Bob Still Stayed Close During Bob’s Late Stage Dementia – Alzheimer’s Disease / A True story of How Love Endures

Stella and Bob had been married for 63 years when I met them. I was the home health aide for Bob.

His care had become too much for Stella to do alone. It was too difficult physically, mentally and emotionally for her.

Bob had late stage Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia, and he could no longer walk, use the bathroom, feed himself, or communicate well.

Stella felt depressed a lot of the time. Their relationship was no longer the same. He could not communicate with her like he used to. He could not comfort her or help her anymore.

She missed him, the way he used to be. He was still there in body, but part of him was gone and still continuing to get worse. She was losing him bit by bit every day.

Bob himself was depressed and angry a lot of the time. His anger was mostly directed toward the home health aides but sometimes spilled over onto Stella.

Bob had late stage dementia and he could no longer walk, use the bathroom, feed himself, or communicate well.

Stella loved Bob very much. She wanted to understand him even when he could not say what he needed or wanted. She would lean over him in the bed, and ask him what he needed. She would hold his hands and stroke his head to calm him.

He would get so frustrated that he could not put his words together but she spoke to him with kindness, in a calm tone of voice.

In the evenings, I would help her clean him and out him in his pajamas. They had 2 twin beds because he had to be in a hospital bed.

The beds were apart during the day, in order for the aides to have access to Bob, to perform care that was required.

At bedtime, Stella would help me to push the two beds together. She asked me to push them as close together as I could, so that they were touching.

She said, “He is my husband. I want him next to me in the bed. I want to be able to reach over and touch him. ”

She explained to me that during the nights, he would wake up and call out because he was afraid. He was disoriented and did not understand where he was or what was going to happen to him.

“I always hear him when he awakens, and I reach over and touch him to comfort him. I want to be close enough to him at night to be able to do that.”

So, every night , I pushed the beds together.

There is more to health care than just caring for the physical needs of the patient. There are emotional and mental needs of the patient and the family that are equally important.

*Note The facts in this story are true. The names were changed to protect the privacy of Stella and Bob. Stella was 88 at the time of my association with her. Bob was 92.*

health, mental health, mental illness, psychology

Empathy for Dementia

I am going out for a little while. I am going to the place where I take care of dementia patients.

They worry if they do not see me for a few days. It disorients them more. They think I live there. When they don’t see me for a few days, they think maybe I moved out and left them. I don’t want them to worry about that.

They have enough to worry about. They worry about their brain not doing what they tell it to do. They worry that they have become unloveable because they are so different from everyone else.

I think I understand them better than a lot of others and they seem to know that. They sense it. I understand depression and anxiety. I understand disorientation. I understand what it is like to feel like my brain does not always work the way other people’s brains work.

I have a genuine sympathy, empathy if you will, for the dementia patients.

They know that I love them and try very hard to understand what they try to say and how they feel.

They miss me when I am not there. I miss them too.

So I am going to get my hugs now. I will feel so much better when I get back. Their hugs are so genuine. Their appreciation is so real.

anxiety, depression, friendship, health, mental disorders, mental health, mental illness, neurology, science, the brain

When Someone with a Mental Illness Reaches Out to You / Do’s and Don’ts

I thought of this idea this morning. It is a way for people with mental illness to get real help from others. There are some people in your life that want to help but they just end up making things worse.

When that happens, you do not want to communicate with them about your pain.
You end up keeping all of your pain bottled up like a secret.

No one wants to reach out for help just to feel invalidated, misunderstood, judged, scolded, intruded upon, and pushed farther down.

The problem that I have experienced is that people “guess” at what will be helpful. They always guess WRONG because they do not understand.

They have not been inside of that pool of pain, feeling the water going farther and farther over their heads. They do not know what it feels like when we are basically being drowned by our own emotions.

It is not something we are allowing to happen or are causing. It is something that invades our minds like a virus. We have no control over the attack of our own brain on us.

Our brain begins to attack itself, our bodies and our hearts. Asking someone to just stop their mental suffering is like asking someone to stop a broken leg from hurting.

A broken bone hurts because our body senses injury. Then the nervous system tells the brain we are hurt, The brain then responds by sending horrific pain signals back through the nervous system to the injury.
So the cycle is : injury, nervous system, brain, nervous system, severe pain.

It is exactly the same cycle with mental illness. The brain and the nervous system coordinate together.

1.Something triggers an intrusive thought.

2. An intrusive thought hurts the brain by activating neurons that are wired to the person’s thought behaviors.

3.The brain reacts by sending a signal through the nervous system into the entire body.

4. The pain is felt throughout the body. It is a nervous system attack.

Neurological behavioral patterns in a person with mental illness are different than other people. It is a biological difference of how the neurons are attached.

The way our neurons are attached in the brain has a disfunction. We cannot do anything about it. It actually gets worse every time we have an episode.

*I will mention here that there is new holistic neurological research ongoing about the ability to rewire the neurons in our brains. I am studying this currently and will let you know when I have anything helpful to tell you. So there is hope. However for the time being , we are stuck with the faulty wiring.*

If people can understand that there is actual biology that is misbehaving with us, maybe they will understand better that our own brains actually attack us, against our will.

So, I am going to give individual scenarios with a do’s and don’t lists for people with mental illness to use as a tool, when reaching out for help. Please feel free to show them or quote the information I provided above , as a way for a greater understanding that most people do not have.

I have experienced myself, that people trying to “help” you, have some go-to words and actions that are both useless and hurtful to us. My next post is going to be Scenario 1.

Please leave me ideas for situations you have been in, so that I can include them. I will try to post a couple of them a week.

Namaste,
Annie

alzheimer's didease, alzheimers disease, anxiety, CNA, dementia, health, inspirational, mental disorders, mental health, nurses, nursing home, spirituality

Our Capacity for Love

I work with dementia patients for my job. I would like to share this touching story with you that happened last year.

I have an old woman with dementia in the unit that has severe disorientation of time and place. I will refer to her here as Anna Rosemary.

Anna Rosemary is a sweet lady. She cannot put her words together to make any sentences that make sense. She expresses emotion clearly through facial expression, gestures and the volume and tone of her voice.

If she is sad then she cries. If something amuses her, she laughs. When she sees me she always smiles.

Sometimes when i get to work she looks at me and says “thank God.” which means I have not seen you around, I am glad to see you back.

I stopped to talk with her one night. She likes to talk back and forth. She listens and she responds but her words do not come out the way she wants.

She says to me “I feel like I am cuckoo.” I was surprised at this because it had not occurred to me that she was aware that there was something wrong with her brain.

I repeated it back to her to make sure I had understood her. I said “Anna Rosemary. do you feel like you are cuckoo?”

She said “Yes. I am trying to figure myself out.” I was amazed at the clarity of this sentence. I must have taken a huge amount of effort for her to force her brain to put that sentence together. That shows how important it is for people to communicate their feelings to another person.

I gave her a hug and told her that her brain was being a bit cuckoo and I did not know why. I told her that I still knew her and loved her. I could still understand how she was feeling.

I told her that I feel a bit cuckoo sometimes too. Something happens with our brain sometimes. But that she was still Anna Rosemary.

She hugged me and said “it is hard” I asked her if she felt it was hard to put her words together. She hugged me tighter.

I said to her, “you still know love. You still have a beautiful heart and know what love is.”

“You don’t have to keep trying so hard right now to put the words together. You are full of love and I love you.”

She and I stood there and I held her and kissed the top of her head.

Anna Rosemary hugged me back, and felt comforted, as did I.

She stopped worrying about putting her words together for a while and took my hand to walk with her into the living room area. We just walked together , holding hands for a while in silence.

Sometimes there is more love in silence than with a lot of talking. If she can still love people and needs to be loved then love itself must transcend the basic functions of the brain.

Love and the need to be loved is more powerful than the rational, cognitive parts of the brain.

Even when most of the brain is not functioning properly, love is still alive and thriving.

The brain is the ruling organ of the body. It controls every function in the body, including language processing and speech.

But even with all of those functions damaged, the capacity for love is in tact. There is something very special about our ability to love.