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!

View original post

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.

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

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

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

Social Anxiety / Equality and Awareness

Social anxiety is a fear of social situations. It is a fear of being forced to interact with people who will be less than compassionate and sympathetic with us.

If a person with social anxiety was put into a room with a few people that were very understanding, patient and very kind with them, they would feel comfortable in a matter of minutes.

The people would tell them that they understand and are not going to judge their feelings or behaviors. If the person felt that they could have behaviors that were not the social norm and still be accepted then they would be ok.

Social anxiety is almost a phobia of people who are impatient, judgemental and less than compassionate.

There is a standard of behavior, manners, interactions etc that has been created by the mass population. People expect other to CONFORM to their social rules.

Some people with anxiety, do not understand the rules in all situations. They feel that they will accidentally break a rule and be judged and ridiculed and basically punished.

Other people understand the rules , for the most part (God knows they are always coming up with new ones) but they feel that their anxiety will prohibit them from being able to follow these rules.

Thus there is a fear of our own anxiety or depression causing us to be unable to follow the social norms.

Here is one example. Let’s say I am in a waiting room of a therapist office. There are a few waiting areas but the main room is full of people or it has aggressive verbal people in there.

I am getting more and more anxious and fearful in this room.

The secretary asks me to come up and fill out forms and answer questions. I will lose the capacity to think properly to answer the questions.

There is a point at which , if people are arguing near me, that I can’t even read the words on the papers.

My brain simply shuts the part down that allows me to process written language.

I go into post traumatic stress that is triggered by the aggressive voices in the room. I have flashbacks of abuse , and I have to cover my face with my hand.

If I could simply explain this to someone that I was having extreme anxiety in this room and ask to be moved to a different area then that would be fine and i could complete the paperwork.

But what happens is that the secretary will become impatient that i am taking so long. They will view me as either stupid or uncooperative. I feel that a lot of times I am viewed as uncooperative no matter how hard i am trying to cooperate.

So this anxiety is unbearable and then a new anxiety kicks in. I am afraid of what they think of me based on my behavior. I start to become anxious about the next time i have to come here.

Will they remember me and that I was uncooperative? Will they treat in a way i do not want to be treated when i come here again?

Will they make fun of me or talk about me after I leave?

I do not want to come here again and interact with the same people that saw me in the office. I want to avoid ever coming here again.

So the anxiety that occurs before I leave the house to go somewhere like this, is the anxiety of that type of situation occurring. We feel that we could be triggered by something in a social situation.

I will play out the worst case scenario in my mind, that could happen when I get there. I am so afraid of this occurring that I am already frustrated with the people there for treating me a certain way, before I even get there.

I am already feeling weird, abnormal and embarrassed about the behaviors I will have, before I am even there.

We feel that people will become impatient with us and that will further our state of mental torment. We feel we will do something that will cause these people not to like us and not to want to interact with us.

Why can’t we just act like everyone else?

Because our brain attacks us with these terrifying thoughts and feelings. The fears become overwhelming and shut off other parts of the brain that understand social interactions.

Even if we can sort of access the social rules in our brains, we can’t follow them so neatly. We cry at times that it is not allowed. We have trouble following directions once the brain begins to shut down.

We are no more able to stay focused and follow along with the socially appropriate interactions than a person with a freshly ,broken leg can walk.

We can’t walk. We can’t dance. We can’t feel self-confidence. We can’t stick up for ourselves.

It is a terrifying feeling to be trapped in a triggering environment and to know you are being judged about your less than perfect behavior at the same time.

Social anxiety is about the people who do not understand. I feel like I have a phobia of people who do not understand mental illness.

It is a phobia of having to tolerate an intolerable social situation and not be able to ask for help. It is a fear of being forced to interact with impatient, judgemental people.

I am not sure if this can be fixed. I do not know if some kind of awareness campaign would help people to understand. How would you tell them you need help in order to function in the particular situation?

Maybe some education of the public could help. But the issue would remain of how someone would know that you suffer from social anxiety and what would be done to help.

My goal here is for the people reading this to know that they are not alone.

When you start to feel a panic attack while you are on the phone with someone who is inviting you to a party, you are not alone. When you feel misunderstood while you are trying to explain to them you just don’t feel up to it, you are not alone.

When you wait until midnight to go to the grocery store in order to avoid the crowd, you are not alone.

When you get take-out food rather than risk being triggered sitting in the restaurant , you are not alone.

when you are late for every scheduled thing you ever go to because you afraid to leave the house, you are not alone.

When you try to pretend you are not home when someone knocks on the door, you are not alone.

We are all of us suffering separately but together. If we can connect here and try to validate each other , maybe it will help.

Namaste,
Annie

Addiction

My hands
How they tremble
I’m afraid
I’m afraid

My ears
How they ring
I’m afraid
I’m afraid

My heart
In my chest
Will it stop?
Will it stop?

The pain
How it streams
Will it stop?
Will it stop?

My knees
How they buckle
I can’t walk
I can’t walk

I collapse
To the floor
I can’t walk
I can’t walk

I hear voices
Outside
Don’t come in
Don’t come in

A knock
At the door
Don’t come in
Don’t come in

I’m trying
To reach
So much pain
So much pain

The reaching
Is hard
So unfair
So unfair

The bottle
It’s taunting me
Here,
I’m right here

The pills
Have contempt
For their pet
For their pet

The bottle
In hand
Feels so cold
Feels so cold

Trembling
Worsens
Damn the cap
Turn the cap

My hands
How they tremble
Please open
Please open

The pills
How they mock me
In charge
They’re in charge

In charge
Of my life
I feel small
I feel small

Try
Not to drop them
Be careful
Be careful

They
Spill to the floor
I’m afraid
I’m afraid

I crawl
On the floor
Face down
On my knees

Blowing off
The dust
Put them back
Put them back

Just one
Then I wait
Time will tell
Time will tell

If just one
Is enough
This is Hell
This is Hell

Time to wait
For my fate
Passes slow
Passes slow

The voices
Outside
Getting close
Getting close

No where
To hide
Please don’t knock
Please don’t knock

Such terror
Within
Lock the door
Lock the door

If I scream
They will hear
Try to breath
Try to breath

The voices
Don’t know
I’m in pain
I’m in pain

The terror
Increasing
Don’t knock
Please don’t knock

Then slowly
Those pills
Start to help
Start to help

Def con
Goes down
On alert
On alert

Threat levels
down
Just for now
Just for now

My brain
Starts to clear
Very slow
Very slow

Such
Terrible fear
No one knows
No one knows

Completely
alone
In the dark
In the dark

The time
On the clock
2pm
2pm

The others
Would judge
I feel shame
I feel shame

But the pills
Are in charge
How they mock
How they mock

No mercy
Or grace
Not from them
Not from them

Forgiveness
Must come
From myself
From myself

It’s so hard
to find
The way out
The way out

Too much
To endure
I’m ashamed
I’m ashamed

Put the
Bottles away
They will wait
They will wait

They know
I’ll return
So afraid
So afraid

To live life
Without them
Such pain
Too much pain

And so
It will go
It is sad
It is sad

Addiction
Wins over
Each time
Everytime

OCD / Obsessively Compulsively Disorderly Sadly Humorous 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

Previous Older Entries

Categories