Category Archives: challenges

I know who I Am

Last week I participated in part two of a training at my work for DBT with clients with psychosis.

The trainer was on zoom and next to her name was (they, their).

I made a comment on some content and the trainer referred to me and my comment as “they just said”…. I responded in private chat to refer to me as she/her yet the trainer did not acknowledge what I asked.

I was stunned. I was angry. I am not a they.

This goes back to an irrational thought I have due to my hair loss and my hair style -(not wearing wigs anymore because it causes me more neck pain and headaches) that I am not feminine “enough”. It’s an irrational “not enough” thought.

I know this is a thought and is not a fact. Logically I know this; and when this person referred to me as they, this thought raised its ugly head. It’s an ugly thought, it’s not a fact.

I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father who loves me. I know who I am. I am not neutral; I am a woman, friend, daughter, mother, and grandmother. I am worthwhile and important and that doesn’t have anything to do with my appearance.

I can note my appearance because my hair curls in the front like my dad, my lips have the shape of my mother, I have dark eyes like my great grandmother. My children have physical traits of mine passed on. My appearance connects me to my ancestors and to my progeny.

After this happened last Thursday, I had two strangers comment flattering about my appearance/hair and two people I know comment flattering about my appearance/hair. It reminded me that one person’s opinion is not a fact. I see this as a sign that my Heavenly Father knew my heart and tried to soothe my wounds and remind me who I am.

I KNOW WHO I AM

Therapist Difficulties

Hey friends

On Friday I found out that a recent client had committed suicide. This is a complicated emotional experience for me because he was a difficult client.

He didn’t want help, he liked his suicide thoughts-he romanticized them. He also had some narcissistic personality traits and tried to make everything a debate. Most times he wouldn’t do DBT (a therapeutic intervention for people with Borderline Personality Disorder and works very well with suicide and self harm thoughts), and he stooped taking his medication several times.

He left treatment with me when I told him he needed to have boundaries with a friend he often talked about suicide and self harm (glorifying and romanticizing) -they had both been in the hospital twice very recently at this time and I felt the risk was too high for me to be his therapist as he continued this friendship.

He wouldn’t accept my limits and left. He also was somewhat nasty to me as he left-I told him I wished him well and enjoyed getting to know him-he retorted “I wish I could say the same”-he was very mentally ill. And often destroyed relationships as a way to control how others felt about him.

I’m angry at him for not accepting help. I’m sad for his family-his sister found him. I’m sad sometimes that I work in this wonderful and terrible field.

Yesterday I (we) painted our bathroom-the second to last room in our project of re painting the inside of our house after living here for 13 years.

I did not once think of my work. I was on a ladder, I was sitting on the floor, I was going up and down my stairs and completely focused on the task at hand. I’ve never been so thankful to be distracted by hard work. What a blessing not to think about work.

Hard work is a blessing.

Pretty Perspective

I remember growing up compliments on my outward appearance were rare.

I heard the skin on my legs and arms looked smooth. I heard my hands/fingers were long and shapely.

I had acne, I struggled with styling my hair, my teeth were stained because my mom used a certain antibiotic while pregnant with me, and I fell on the ice and knocked a tooth out. I did not ever think I was pretty but I thought I was important to my Heavenly Father.

Then as an adult (with four children) I ran into a couple from my youth. I worked part time at Mervyns while attending university. They stood agape at me when I said hello, “you are pretty” they said but their tone sounded incredulous like what the hell happened to you?? I didn’t know whether to say thank you or be offended.

I thought it was odd because I had not changed as a person. I had matured, still had acne (I have rosacea now which is very similar) I did fix my two front teeth-one that broke when I was 17 and the other chipped several times by my rambunctious children. I experienced several challenges and overcame and I think more confident in myself.

I realized then that other people’s view of me is not important and interestingly enough changes all the time. My view of myself is what is important and it should not be based on my appearance because it also changes every year. My appearance is a ever changing landscape. I am grateful to have the chance to live and experience; I am less grateful for chronic pain but it sure is nice when I don’t notice it.

I am grateful to be a daughter, mother, wife, grandmother, friend, co worker, therapist, hard worker, fun loving, funny (sometimes only I think this 😂) caring, loving, kind, thoughtful, determined, and creative person. None of this has anything to do with my appearance. Thank goodness for that.

I’m the same person in all these pictures no matter my appearance.

The Long Week

So tomorrow I go back to work. I’ve had the last four days off. The storm is coming….

Several therapists-co workers are off this week, both our psychiatrists, three of our directors, and several mentor staff…

Tomorrow morning I have a process group with perhaps 30 people. It’s less than ideal but many people are on PTO.

I am just taking the attitude that I can only do my best and then…

It’s only four days (I have Friday off) and what I can’t do-does not matter.

Frodo eventually returned the ring to the fires of Mordor. I can get through four days.

Home on the Range

Hey friends! I’m going shooting on the range again today and really looking forward.

On Sunday, my son helped me learn how to dissemble my gun to clean it and last night I purchased a cleaning kit and cleaned my gun all by myself.

I was very proud to learn how to clean it and learning how to use a gun is a form of self care and also mindfulness; this is a dangerous weapon in the first place.

But now my gun is shiny again and I’m taking 200 rounds to the range. Hopefully my aim improves too! (picture of my aim from last time at the range)

Faced and Masked

Hello friends!

Now that I’m, and many others are wearing masks every day when not at home I’m noticing some things.

I’ll be in my office, alone-not required to wear a mask while alone in a room- and I’ve had my mask on for at least 15 minutes.

My husband and I leave a store and he’s mumbling while we drive home-I realize he still has his mask on.

I used to think people in their cars with masks on must be weirdos but now I know

It’s like wearing a bra (maybe this is a stretch) -lets go with PANTS. Once you get used to wearing pants you kinda forget they’re there. I think it’s the same now with masks. Now we’ve got used to wearing masks we forget they’re there.

Don’t judge the people in their car with masks on, our world has changed and it’s the new norm.

I AM ENOUGH

Hello friends!

It took me a month or so to be brave to make this post.

At first I thought-maybe I should try to lose weight and then I caught myself. No not that. That is not right. I am enough.

Then this morning (when the stars aligned so to speak) I thought: my eyes are puffy. I have this red spot on my neck. Nooo not that again. I am enough.

It was also difficult to take a picture and be happy with one. I am enough.

I am enough, without makeup, with hair loss, in my body that is brave experiencing autoimmune disease, in my changing body, in my age. I am 56…..

I AM ENOUGH (even with all the pictures I did not like)

Painless

Hey friends! I hope you had a safe and fun 4th of July!

I’ve experienced a few physical injuries that might have contributed to my chronic neck pain- two falls and one big punch between the eyes (this gave me headaches, that’s why I think it hurt my neck). And I’ve found two (2) things that reduce my pain.

ICE-yes ice. I have a big ice pack in the freezer and some nights after work my neck and head are particularly tense and sore (lets be honest-some mornings and some days and some afternoons and some middle of the nights) and if I lay on that ice pack-most of my pain is numb because it’s so cold. (I once used heat after ice-never again-it was terrible to flare up the pain)! Also-sometimes laying down is terribly painful.

Guns-I had just made the decision to buy a gun (was in terrible pain) and stopped by a local gun store/range. A clerk told me about the different guns and then I rented some to try them out-DUDE I was distracted from my pain because I had to focus so especially solely on the gun I was using to be safe. Since I noticed this wonderful affect, I’ve been going to the gun range often as I can. I didn’t even notice when the slide took a chunk out of my hand until my blood was dripping down my hand (sorry but this is important information) I was so focused on shooting the gun and trying to figure out how to hit the target that I didn’t feel any pain.

THIS COULD BE A MARKETING POINT 😊

ICE and GUNS-why don’t doctors tell anyone about this??

Ambiguous Loss and Covid 19

Hello Friends.

Life has changed so much since I last posted and there are daily changes.

About two weeks ago, I noticed that I feel sad and overwhelmed when I wake up and then I thought “things are still the same, it’s not a bad dream”. This feeling is similar to the time that my son died and many years ago when my dad died.

I remember waking up (during both these events/timelines) and being hit with a wave of sadness and feeling overwhelmed and discouraged (similar to how I feel now) and not knowing when the feeling would end or if it would end.

I think many people have feelings like this now with Covid 19. It’s terribly difficult wading through an emotionally painful, difficult experience and not knowing when or if it will end. I recently discovered this is called “Ambiguous Loss”, coined by Pauline Boss, Ph.D., and Emeritus Professor and Clinical Supervisor of Marriage and Family Therapy, at University of Minnesota.

I was part of a webinar training based on her book about a week ago and I wanted to share some newfound insights. Ambiguous loss is described as “An unclear loss that defies closure…often times it does not have validation or clarification or resolution”. Boss’ research includes information from POW experiencing crisis from Vietnam, 911 families, military deployment, and families of loved ones with dementia. Most every person right now has experienced some type of ambiguous loss-losing connections with loved ones who are physically absent but emotionally present whether they are sick or well, people experiencing job loss or co worker relationship loss, and healthcare providers going into a situation where they can be at high risk.

There are physical symptoms of ambiguous loss including depression, anxiety, family discord, confusion, grieving, hope, hopelessness, shock but it’s important to remember all these symptoms are NORMAL. She identified the ways all of us can shift from experiencing despair to hope and I will list them below with an example of what I am doing.

  1. Finding Meaning- I realize that my family relationships are very important to me (how are we pulling together?) and connecting in some way helps me distract from the world.
  2. Tempering (Adjusting) Mastery-learn to hold two opposing ideas at the same time-I have a lot of anxiety listening to the news about Covid 19 AND I feel peace when I don’t listen to the news and connect with others or reach out to help someone else (be cautious to blame oneself or others).
  3. Reconstructing Identity-try to recognize how my roles have changed before, during, and after Covid 19 (separate myself from Covid 19 and don’t stay in a role that doesn’t work-working from home and doing therapy by video-“no shoulds”)
  4. Normalizing Ambivalence-and I love this one because my webinar had a quote “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” -Tolkien   Try to acknowledge yours and others feelings, try not to judge yourself or others, and listen to each other. It’s actually kinda cool to think I’m sort of like Frodo and this is an adventure (I choose the word adventure instead of tragedy) I have never experienced.  Here’s another example:I want to see my family and friends, but I don’t want to get sick or get them sick.
  5. Revising Attachment-try to acknowledge how difficult it is separating social ties through social distancing and try to do new ways to strengthen or create other attachments, maybe through Facetime or Zoom or Marco Polo.
  6. Discovering Hope-I also love this one because Hope is increased through strengthening our connection spirituality. Whether you have a Higher Power or believe in God, discovering hope is huge and can comfort us. I know I feel comfort and peace when I connect with God by reading my scriptures, or praying, or listening to a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints General Conference talk. I have found life is so much less stressful when I connect with God.

 

I hope this information is helpful for all of you to manage this stressful time in our world which is new for all of us.

My hopes and prayers go with all of you my friends.

 

 

Isolating Together

Hello friends!

I haven’t posted for some time as I’ve been dealing with some pretty terrible neck pain along with our continually changing world.

The last couple of months I’ve had two sets (six shots each) of “diagnostic” shots in my neck to determine if “therapeutic shots”-shots of electricity to burn my nerves in the bulging discs of my neck will decrease my pain.

The last two weeks I’ve had these therapeutic shots and isolated at home on my bed because of the pain but I know not everyone is comfortable or ok in isolation.

I have many mental health clients that struggle mightily with depression; and isolation makes this worse. One thing that helps somewhat: everyone is going through this right now. If you struggle with depression or suicide thoughts, you are not alone-many people in our country or world right now are struggling with isolation and we can support each other.

Here are some ideas to stay connected during this time:

Join an online book club, watch live Facebook comedy shows, FaceTime your friends or family, get outside and go for a walk or a bike ride (isolation does not mean don’t go outside), read a good book-libraries have online resources too, visit a museum online, take an online course, learn how to speak a new language-there are many apps to discover, take a virtual national park tour, learn how to cook, learn how to sew, finish those crafts that you never had time, write your life story ( I wrote mine at 18 years old-there’s more to update!) scrapbook your photo memories, do some family history research online, call a relative you haven’t spoke to for a long time, and there are lots more ideas of things to stay busy and emotionally healthy.

I am adding a few ideas I have found online: