Judging your trauma

Don’t judge someone else’s trauma or compare your own.

That’s the point of this post.

Trauma is one of those things that I totally understand. I’ve lived through trauma, experienced it, suffered from it, and grew from it. One thing that saddens me about trauma survivors is there judgment regarding either their own trauma or someone else’s.

For example, someone discusses their trauma and another person wants to “do them one better.”

By doing so, you just totally invalidated the first person’s experiences. Regardless if you feel your trauma was worse, it doesn’t matter. Theirs was still traumatizing.

Each person has a different threshold for pain. Some people go to the delivery room and need medications, an epidural, etc. Some don’t. Some go in and give birth like it didn’t make a difference in the world. Push and done. We are all different.

The one thing that is the same for everyone is that we all experienced trauma. Some people’s trauma is different than others, but when push comes to shove we’ve either all dealt with it or will at some point.

I’ve heard people judge themselves saying, “I know I should feel happier because nothing big has happened to me, but for some reason, I feel so…”

The truth is, you need not judge yourself. There is no way you should or should not feel. You’ve dealt with stuff that is hurting you and it’s okay.

Just because you weren’t kidnapped in your life, or tortured, doesn’t mean you didn’t experience things. For example, I’ve never experienced a house fire. I’m glad, I don’t want to experience that. I hope I never have to. That said, because I never experienced a house fire doesn’t minimize the fact that I experienced other things. Each person has their own struggles to deal with. I don’t want someone else’s struggles and they don’t want mine. We were not meant to be the same.

So, feeling bad because you “should” be okay because you haven’t really gone through anything and you feel bad for not feeling good about life, is simply nonsense. Don’t compare your trauma. Don’t minimize other people’s struggles either. If you’re not feeling great, don’t feel bad for getting help, just get help. It’s okay.

What’s not okay is ignoring your trouble. It’s only going to get worse. You will feel worse. My point, if you need help get help. If you don’t, don’t talk about those who do. My belief is every person in the world would benefit from “getting help” and don’t judge yourself or anyone else for handling or not handling their problems. Each life is built differently.

Make sense?  

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All the cool kids are doing it

“All the cool kids are doing it.”

This was a saying I remember hearing a lot about in the 80’s/90’s. I tried to use it on my mom numerous times to no avail. My mom was relentless. It sounded something like this…

“Mom, can we have a boy/girl sleepover? The  boys can sleep in my brother’s room.”

“NO!”

I whine. “But Mom, EVERYBODY has boy/girl sleepovers. You just want me to be a dork! You HATE me!”

“No, but I’m no fool either. Now if you don’t quit now, you will NOT be having a sleepover!”

(I sigh, roll my eyes and stomp off to my room- making sure she hears my door shut).

“Cool kids” or “everybody” often lead us to things that weren’t necessarily good for us.

We came from a generation where ‘no means no’ with no explanation needed and ‘because I said so’ was good enough.

Things have changed.

My daughter came home from a friend’s house. I asked her why she came home early. It sounded like this…

“Mom, I need you to come get me.”

“You okay.”

“No, just come.”

“I’m on my way.”

She gets in the car.

“What’s going on?” I ask.

“They were vaping.”

“Oh…” I looked at her confused. My friends smoked, did drugs, drank, I didn’t always leave, I just didn’t participate if I was uncomfortable. If it was too bad, I left.

“Mom, I HATE being around vaping! It’s disgusting. It smells disgusting…”

“I thought it doesn’t smell?”

“Mom, I can smell that crap a mile away. It makes my breathing hurt, just when they do it. I can’t imagine doing it myself!”

“Wow. So you decided to leave?”

“Yeah.”

“Will your friends be upset at you for leaving so soon?”

“I don’t care what they think. Mom, I don’t like it so I’m not going to be around it. That’s my choice.”

“Nice! I’m really proud of you. Thank you for being so strong!”

Another circumstance looked like this…

My son comes home from school with a strange look on his face.

“What’s up?” I ask.

“Mom most my friends don’t believe in God.”

“Okay, so how does that work for you?”

“I pray louder when I eat.”

“Huh?”

“They always ask me what I’m doing so I tell them I pray.”

“You’re not ashamed to pray in front of them?”

“No, just because they don’t believe in God doesn’t mean that I have to be stupid too!”

“Nice. That makes good logical sense. I think you are very brave!”

“I’m mad at them.”

“Why?”

“They’re going to the devil.”

“Whoa. Don’t assume that. People can change. How about you pray for them too?”

“Yeah.”

The irony, is it’s not just my kids. I talk to a LOT of kids. They are warriors for their beliefs. Often, I hear people talking about this generation in a negative way, like they’re soft. They may not be as rough and tumble as we used to be, but they are standing up for themselves when they are brave. That is amazing!

How does this tie to mental health?

Back in the day, we swept our feelings under the rug. Boys didn’t cry, girls weren’t taken seriously. People would turn a blind eye to trauma. Like this generation, things have changed.

The cool kids, well they’re seeking help when they need it.

Therapy isn’t just for insanity, or extremely mentally ill as some people may think.

People come to therapy for a variety of reasons and not just for depression.

They come to therapy for:

Financial advice

Talking about how to make friends

Dating advice

How to achieve goals

How to tell their family they want a change

How to propose to the person they love

For someone to listen to anything they have to say, without being judged

My point, EVERY PERSON IN THE WORLD could benefit from therapy.

So, this time I agree. All the cool kids are doing it. Especially the ones who want a positive future.

It’s time. The New Year has come. Make your appointment today.

Holiday Grief

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Today, I would like to discuss a thought on grief.

It seems everyone realizes that grief is about the experience of loss, however, this loss isn’t always the same.

Grief doesn’t have to mean death. It could be someone grieves their loss of home, youth, marriage, or life as they once remembered (think empty nesters).

On the flip side, and what I kind of want to focus on today, is when grief does mean the loss of a life, but in this case not a human life.

As the holidays approach, I would like to remind everyone that the loss of an animal is also a great cause for grief. I think we need to be more mindful of people going through these types of losses.

I hear people (and I’ve been guilty of this myself in the past) kind of snicker when someone is grieving a pet. They may think to themselves that it’s not like they experienced a “real loss- it’s not like they’re human”. The truth is, they have.

Some people only have their pets as companions. Some people may not have been able to have children and so their pets are their children. Sometimes pets are the only family members they have. Others, the pet is their best friend. Perhaps the pet was their children’s best friend and so it’s another member of the family. Not everyone feels that way and that’s okay. What’s not okay is not acknowledging the person’s grief who did lose a furry friend.

Think about the commercials for a moment. I see just as many people getting puppies on Christmas type of commercials as I do engagement ring commercials. That’s how prevalent animals are to our lives. Cats or dogs are often a child’s first friend.

I guess my point is to encourage everyone this holiday season to remember their friend’s who’ve lost pets. They are struggling just as much as people who’ve lost people or relationships and sometimes that can be overlooked. Remind them that it’s okay to feel their grief without shame.

A Frame of Mind

So, I’ve been asked a few times how my first day went. More than that, I’ve been asked, “What EXACTLY is your business?” The truth is, I’m not really sure how to explain it. It’s unique. So, I’ll try my best…

First, my first day went well. It was interesting to see the reactions of everyone who came. Most of what I heard was, “Oh my goodness, the only place I have been able to find these is on Amazon…” This is true. I am trying to stock therapeutic items in a place where you can learn about them, ask questions about them, see them face-to-face and eliminate the guessing game of having them shipped.

So, what is ‘A Frame of Mind’? The best way to describe it is we are addressing mental health by encompassing every aspect we can. I think the only thing we don’t address is medications, however, we do carry some supplements. So, basically it looks like this…

People can make an appointment for therapy. I’m fully licensed and trained in multiple areas to do therapy. I currently accept Blue Cross and I also accept Medicaid. I will be accepting more soon as I am just opening.

I offer cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, family therapy, and also I am doing a trial on virtual reality therapy to address trauma, anxiety, and phobias (yes, you actually get to wear a headset and practice talking, addressing fears, etc.). The virtual reality therapy is NOT covered by insurance at this time. I use it to supplement therapy, or as a cash only therapy in itself.

Next, I offer group therapy. This will be conducted after normal office hours because I can’t have people roaming the store while we’re doing group.

A store? Yes, it’s small, quaint, but full of items that enhance therapy, help with mindfulness and self-soothe, including sensory items, advertise mental health and removing the stigma, and incorporate family togetherness.

What else? We also offer a place for people to relax, drink coffee, shoot the breeze, listen to music, beat on the drum, or even paint canvas or river stones.

In addition to what is described above, ‘A Frame of Mind’ offers a therapy incentive program. Some of the items we sell in the store have a ‘green dot’ sticker on them. Every person that has been to therapy 10 times is able to get a ‘green dot’ item from the store for free. Why? I do this because I believe that achieving your mental health goal is worth celebrating!

We don’t have a lot of space, but in the space we have, we do a lot of things. We are adding a few more therapeutic type activities as time goes on, but for now I think this is the most accurate description of who we are and what we do- with more to come.

‘A Frame of Mind’ is working hard to help people accomplish their life worth living and we approach mental health non-judgmentally as we celebrate everyone’s success.

 Any questions, please feel free to stop by, say hello, message us, or give us a call. (231) 340-2263.

Thank you everyone for supporting us!! (Nan, thanks so much for the flowers!)

Here’s for Anxiety!

Image result for pics of scared people

So, I was sitting in the bathroom, phone in hand, scrolling through my emails when I heard it. The problem was, I was home alone. No husband, no kids- just me, alone. My ears perked up and I sat in total silence. After a considerable amount of time of nothing, I went back to my emails.

This time, the sound was distinct, right outside of the bathroom door. The floor was creaking. There was someone standing outside of the door. Mind you, I have no clue why I was still in the bathroom, I was fully clothed, I had just gotten dressed and decided that it was a good time to check my email. However, being home alone and someone outside of the door, I was now stuck.

My brain went back about 15 years, the first time my child told me the house was haunted. Why my brain decided to go there is beyond me. I’m not the kind of person who worries about such things. But then again, perhaps I am because that’s what happened. Then I thought about my son and his night terrors of the “shadow man”. Both my girls swear they’ve seen him/witnessed him as well.

So, now in my brain, as my anxiety kicks in, it’s me against a supernatural shadow fella who’s patiently impatiently waiting for me to leave the bathroom. I realize it had to be the shadow guy because nobody else was in the house, the dog would have barked.

You would have thought that at this point, logic would have set in, but it didn’t. I am now ready to combat a shadow ghost, in which I don’t even believe in- unless we went spiritual like angel/demonic, but that would creep me out even more.

So, ghost against me. Got it. My adrenaline was ready for me. If the typical response is fight, flight, or freeze, I am most definitely a fight girl. So, now I’m ready for a supernatural war in the midst of my home. I decided to make the first move. I yell at the guy from behind the door. No, I’m not lying.

“Get!” is what my brain decided to say. By the way, this is the same response I give the cat when she’s in my way.

Pause. Nothing. Moments later the floor creaks and I hear the weight of his feet shift. Game on. We’re full-fledged heading to combat.

As fast as my somewhat large body can carry me, I bust open the door with all my might. Granted, it takes absolutely no might to open a bathroom door. However, in my defense, I have no clue to how strong shadow men are, so I had to use force. Don’t judge, this is my story.

In addition to the fact that I had to use my strength, my voice decided to be heard. I didn’t expect to yell at the guy, but hey, why not?

So, if you can picture me, hair in a bun, holding a phone, coming out of the bathroom as if the house were on fire and screaming, then you can visualize EXACTLY what my dog saw.

Yep. She looked at me and I looked at her. How the dog was able to stifle her laughter I have no idea. Perhaps she accepted the fact that I am not a normal human. Regardless, the relief I felt that there was no random shadow ready to attack was nice, but it didn’t outweigh my embarrassment as I felt the need to explain to my dog my situation. Which therein lies my other problem…

Mindfulness

As a DBT therapist the practice of mindfulness exercises is a regular part of my daily routine. The way most of my consumers experience mindfulness when they first start looks a little like this:
They picture themselves walking down the beach with a warm breeze enveloping them. “Oh I forgot to pull the meat out of the freezer. Crap! I am supposed to be mindful for 5 minutes, let me start over”.
They, again, are walking down the beach. “The beach seems sunny. I want sun but it’s supposed to rain today. When in the hell is spring finally going to be here? Shoot. I wasn’t mindful. Grr. Okay, I’m on that stupid beach again.”
The feel the warm breeze against their face, the sand on the bottom of their feet. “The floor needs vacuumed. Maybe I’ll do that when I’m done being… You’ve got to be kidding me. What’s wrong with my brain that I can’t be still for not even a single minute? I hate Mindfulness!”
The problem with this is a few things:
1- Visualization like that is only one method of mindfulness. Mindfulness exercises can be anything that gives one hundred percent of your focus to the actual moment you’re experiencing. When I paint, I’m focusing one hundred percent on the canvas and what I’m experiencing with the canvas. Every brush stroke, every detail, my mind is clearly focused. That is mindfulness. It can happen with any platform. It just has to be purposeful and focused.
2- Mindfulness takes practice. One doesn’t just wake up and stop the hustle of their brain just because they want to sit and clear their mind. Thoughts happen. Accept that and watch them exit as soon as they enter. It’s okay. Why are we judging our thoughts? As you see in the above examples we tend to start judging our thoughts and then that leads to judging ourselves. How is that beneficial to anyone?
3- Mindfulness isn’t as weird as people think. I’ve had a ton of people ask me if mindfulness was Buddhist practice or against Christianity. The answer is, all religions practice mindfulness. All mindfulness is, is focusing on the present moment. What am I doing right here and right now. Or, what can I focus on right here and right now. For example, if you happen to like imagery, you don’t have to be on a beach, but only picturing yourself on one. On the flip side, if you’re in Walmart buying bread, you can focus on the very floor tile you’re standing on, purposefully noticing each scuff mark and mouse dropping you can see.
I encourage everyone to practice mindfulness. Eat something with purpose. Pay attention to things like texture, smell, taste, the sound of it, and sight of it (this can lead to weight loss!). Practice when you tie your laces. Imagine trying to teach a two-year-old the hows and whys of tying a shoe. Practice while you’re stressed. How does my body feel, where is my tension? Etc.
Mindfulness is amazing because you actually get to experience life instead of just exist in it.

My therapist thinks I’m awesome tee-shirt

My therapist thinks I’m awesome shirt

This tee-shirt is for sale in all sizes S-XXL. Please add $2.00 for XXXL and XXXXL. The shirt is made in white, but if you would like gray, pink, or blue please let me know in a message in paypal. As always shipping is free!

$20.00

Addiction Statement Tee-Shirt

Tee Shirt

This tee-shirt is perfect for those who has/ or know someone who has suffered with addiction and want to make a statement! Available in S, M, L, XL, XXL The color of the shirt automatically comes in white. Please leave a message on paypal with your size if you would like grey, pink, or light blue instead. Shipping is free.

$20.00