accomplishments of 2015 and goals for 2016

Hi everyone,

Today is the last day of 2015. I can’t believe how quickly the year goes by. Things have happened this year that are just wonderful. I have a lot of hope for the new year and am really proud of my accomplishments.

Accomplishments of 2015

Have had Edith, my amazing PRSC (social worker) for a whole year!

Got my amazing psychiatrist Dr. Fyazz (who also goes to a solid psych unit) for a year.

Was not hospitalized. Last hospitalization june 2014

Trained and started volunteering with crisis textline.

Have continued my therapy with Jonathan. For awhile it felt like I’d be getting a new therapist but am so happy we reconnected.

Jess and I continue to live in our awesome double room!

Goals for 2016

Continue therapy with Jonathan.

Keep working with Edith and hope she stays the whole year.

Keep Dr. Fyazz as my psychiatrist.

Visit my family with Jess. That’ll be a huge one.

Volunteer with national runaway safeline and continue with CTL

Continue making connections with the online mental health community and in person.

Continue research and investigation into other situations for Jess and I for when we choose to move.

Continue this awesome blog.

I think the biggest change and something I’ve processed myself as I haven’t wanted to bring it up to staff is this desire I have, genuine desire not something pushed on me to move someday. That I can imagine that someday Jess and I could leave here and create a new life together. To actually want a different life, knowing that things will be in transition and unstable for a time. But with some intuitive feeling that a time will come when I and she will need to be somewhere else in order to keep growing.

I hate talking about the future or thinking about it. I have so much anxiety anyway that it’s just too much. Often things loom so presently something happening six months from now can feel like it’s about to happen tomorrow. Feeling like I’m on someone else’s timeline, whatever has to be finished by this certain point, therapy or moving out or whatever puts so much pressure on me.

This new feeling of calmly being able to think about the future and feel strongly that there are things outside of here that I want, that I know I can only get by leaving here is amazing! That I can deal emotionally with the complexity of knowing that I’m in a really good solid place. That I have basically everything it seems to keep me stable, and to keep my symptoms really at bay. And yet knowing that I’d do something I know would disturb all that in interest of wanting something more for my life.

This goes beyond anything I’ve ever felt even before my breakdown. I had my passions but I never imagined willingly creating a new life in order to get more. When I was at Friedman I figured I’d stay at Friedman forever. That I had everything I needed there and my anxiety being such that thinking anymore about it, feeling anymore about it would be too much. So it wasn’t something I even was conscious of. This happened not because of some therapy session where someone lectured me about how I need to think about this stuff stop worrying I’m making things worse ET ETC. It wasn’t due to a med change. It was all organic coming up slowly but solidly. It’s left it’s mark on me. I don’t think about it every single day. If I do I get either restless or anxious. It comes and goes by itself I try not to force it to stay or push it away and it’s been around for a good month or so that I’m used to it. Even if I totally went back to feeling like the only way I could keep myself stable was to live here, (keep growing as a person but feeling like I needed the security of what I have here) nothing could undue this natural step forward. That came out of nowhere and slowly but then all at once, like how a child learns to walk or talk, you notice it a lot at first and then it’s like you’ve been doing it all along.

That’s the best part of this year. And something I hope can carry me into next year.

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would love guest blog posters!


So really want to increase my blog posting and really add discussion atmosphere to things.

I would love to have people from our awesome online community to guest post about issues that matter to them. This could be responses to my posts on my life, responses to book reviews, or book reviews of your own on mental health/ recovery related stuff.

Or just anything related to your own mental illness struggle, or advice or resources that relate to whatever has been posted.

I’m doing a couple posts about 2015 and what was good this year. And what I’m looking forward to in 2016. If you’d like to have your thoughts added on my blog I think it would be a great discussion!

Please tell me your thoughts comment or write nelsonsam68

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no therapy session/ things I’m anxious about

Hi everyone,

So I didn’t have my therapy session today. The department of health/ state was here. As I’ve mentioned previously if anyone calls this number and complains even over something ridiculous they have to investigate. So we had this guy end of last week who was more than a handful. He claimed that he was dying a slow and painful death, in quotes all very calmly said people were laughing at him not caring and everything. Was constantly pulling his call light that is for emergencies but he did it all the time. He even set the fire alarm off at seven in the morning Saturday. Then some other resident heard his “I’m dying and it’s the staff’s fault” talk and actually called 911. I think he was crazier than the first guy because why do that.

But according to Edith this is actually a common thing that the cops and ambulance and stuff are called by residents and nine times out of ten they know that the staff here are taking care of things so the residents learn they can’t get their way by doing that. But OMG I don’t want to imagine the time wasted from real emergencies with that. It’s probably I suppose the time wasted by these state people coming out for literally no reason.

The guy by the way the “I’m dying one” is not coming back yay!

Other than that it was just a totally crazy day. There were like four code yellows, code yellows being an emotional crisis where they need all mental health staff present, like someone on restriction (I.E someone needing to not leave the building without staff ) getting out, or a fight or something.

So after lunch I just decided it would be easier to just cancel. I also felt kind of withdrawn and not like talking.

I do have stuff on my mind.

Jess going to school. She’s doing awesome getting ready but we don’t know if she’ll be able to do courses in the spring or not. If not I worry she’ll get wicked depressed sitting home. If she does I’m really anxious about the whole routine. This is the first time in forever since she was first here, that she’s gone out and done anything normal not mental health related. As in not a day program hospital ETC. I’m worried about the physical issues, her walking to the L and back, climbing steep stairs and everything. It seems small but she has weight issues and arthritis issues and the huge life threatening illness she had years back makes her whole body kinda very sensitive. Things just take longer to heal and stuff like that.

Plus emotionally I’m worried about the stress homework classes ETC will cause her. She’ll be out side of here or any other controlled mental health space, and could easily find things to self harm with more than average. I just hope everything works out. I wish I could be calm when she’s going through stuff but I’m so anxious myself I just have a breakdown myself.

Secondly I’m worried about my interview with National runaway safeline this coming Tuesday. I gave good references and I know I have the experience especially with working with CTL as well. And I know I can solidly advocate for myself around accomidations I’d need, like training materials e-mailed to me, having NVDA on a flash drive, ETC. But I’m just worried they won’t want to work with someone with a disability, say they don’t have time/ resources to help me out going out of their way for anything. If I do get in which I really really want to! I want it as much as Jess wants to go to school. I know it will be hard emotionally. Now my routine includes at least one nap a day and for awhile two naps. Obveously can’t have that when I have the two nine to five trainings. The other sessions are at least in the evenings but those pose major changes to meals (I don’t care if I don’t eat dinner but no one else agrees with that!) and getting meds and coming in late.

When I’m done with the training which is very intense all taking place in two weeksI think the actual weekly shift won’t be so bad. I’ll schedule it for a reasonable hour.

So I have a lot of anxiety I cried and talked to Jess and I guess am ok. Just hoping for the best next week.

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my last couple therapy sessions

I realized I haven’t written about therapy for a couple weeks.

After the experience of my mom’s controlling abusive nature on the phone I skipped out on therapy for a few sessions. Most were because I was legit sick but the last time I think it was mostly stress and just not wanting to talk.

But then two weeks ago I made the sessions and plowed through. At the end of the story Jonathan said that it seems like my mom is at least trying. She tries to be the good supportive person that she wants to be andto give her credit for that. I emediately got very emotional saying I’ve given her so much compassion and leeway and that she just has me on such a rollercoaster and I’m tired of it! I cried for awhile. He said after he let me let out my emotions that he couldn’t imagine having grown up like I did. And my sister too. With absolutely no room to experience and express emotions. He said we’re strong and resilent and it shows that we were able to come through all of it and make lives for ourselves, to have some kind of identity that’s not about my mom.

He did say clarifying what he said earlier about giving her credit, that giving her credit for trying doesn’t mean I need to accept her behavior. That I can give her credit for trying and then distance myself feel however I feel set boundaries when she’s being hurtful.

We talked some too abgout what would need to be in place for Jess and I to do the long awaited hugely anxiety provoking visit home. That we’d figure everything out as time went on. But even with seeing her erratic behavior around connecting to us he still feels a visit would be good and gave me confidence that I can go their and have a safety net of Jess and him/ staff I can call at Albany, and my internal resources. I know it still will be wicked traumatizing and I may backlide with my emotional issues particularly around self injury. He said too how when my mom acts this way it causes me to retreat and shut down and not want to talk about it.

It was a huge weight off my shoulders and give me so much to consider. I had gone in so hopeless feeling that with her attitude and what it brought up in one phone call, that there was no chance of a visit. Him bringing that back on the table saying we will find a way forward and emphasizing the positives of it made me feel better.

Last week’s session. Came in frustrated over room search issues. Staff routinely search resident rooms. For different stuff. Stuff you’re not supposed to have like guns and lighters and stuff. But for Jess and I who have a history of self harm they’re looking for particular things. Anything sharp obviously. But also things we could use creatively to hurt ourselves. Of course if you want to get technical anything can be used for that purpose. And what’s even more frustrating is that the staff know that I in my care plan will only use my nails. But they still have to do the search. And if they search my stuff they have to search Jess’s and vice versa.

They keep taking away my DVDS. Some staff will do it though Jonathan did tell them a while ago that wasn’t necessary. I scratched once with a CD case but I’m a hundred percent sure I’d never break a dvd or CD because someone made it. Jonathan says he’s the only one who can understand my “crazy logic.”

He set out the deal that should something be taken away by a PRC staff that usually does the search that within 24 hours he would evaluate it to see if it needed to really be locked up or could I have it and give a clear reason. The thing that me most upset particularly for that moment was when they do the searches, the PRC will give the items to the resident’s personal PRC. Sometimes they don’t or it ends up in Jonathan or Omerra’s office. Especailly when staff move in and out of offices as they come and go it can get confusing. It’s infuriating enough to have people going through my stuff and taking things away but then to have stuff just floating around is worse. It brings up the time housekeeping threw out a whole garbage bag of my stuff, when I went out to the hospital. Their theory being you pack up all resident things and store them so in the event residents want to steal stuff they can’t. Well if they had left my stuff we wouldn’t have had the problem. So I was mad about that. He said he’d talk to staff on all of this but we’ll see. As long as I get my DVD back.

For the rest session we talked more about my mom. I asked if he thought she had a personality disorder and he said it seemed like she had borderline features. That it’s extremely difficult for to have relationships because she inside feels so unworthy. So when she gets closer to people she does things to push them away before they can hurt her. Then at times she’s really nice wanting to be close but at the slightest sign of trouble she’s being hurtful again as it’s all she knows.

He talked about how this is extremely hard to treat and how they just don’t have any concept of what they’re doing is what’s causing them so much despair in relationships. He also said people with this issues can easily cause treatment people a lot of emotional pain and burnout. It was an interesting discussion and put my mom’s issues in a new light. I still feel I’ve run out of compassion for totally accepting wherever my mom is emotionally. I did that since about fourteen and it ate up so much of my self growth. So not anymore. It will be interesting to try to find balance with relating to her and then having distance as time goes by.

Tomorrow I’m looking forward to talking about how well Christmas went. And also perhaps this whole thing about wanting to move yet not wanting to and the whole mess in my head. Will keep you posted.

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Dunkin Doughnuts trip

Today Jess and I went on an outing with some residents to dunkin doughnuts. I love the place especially the baskin robins/ DD one.

Haven’t been there since coming to Albany maybe once when I still had a trilogy caseworker. The food I like there is: a turkey bacon chedar croissant. A strawberry banana smoothie with whipped cream. Their chocolate chip cookies that are really good! Assorted munchkins glazed, chocolate and jelly especially. Also coconut.

To not have these treats has been hard and I so wish there was a DD in walking distance. It was an amazing surprise when among the gift cards to places like burger king and MCDonalds, was dunkin doughnuts.

The trip was very good. People weren’t going crazy in the van except this woman who acts like she’s two and is just really annoyingly weird. But she seemed to listen to the activity aid that was there and so kept some of her major behavior, like laying on the ground and refusing to get up or screaming in check.

Sadly the place wasn’t stocked up with food having it be mid afternoon. We got 50 munchkins and all they had was glazed. We wanted a mixture but couldn’t do anything about it. They had only one shortbread cookie so got that. There was no croissant for my sandwich. To have to bulp down a smoothie or any drink upsets my stomach like when I had that big shake at Walmart.

Jess and I decided upone leaving that we will go again on paratransit and spend a relaxed hour taking our time eating and reading and just zoneing.

So thank you Albany staff!! This actually is what annoying baby lady screamed in the car!

And if anyone wants to get me dunkin doughnuts/ baskin robins gift cards I’d so appreciate it!

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mixed up feelings and thoughts about actually wanting to move states in the future

I’ve had these changes in my head for awhile. Around the future long term stuff. Jess and I being able to move out of Albany perhaps to a smaller place like a group home or smaller facility. That’s all it was at first and I hardly thought of it.

We’d sometimes think about being in our own apartment. But we have similar and sometimes opposing issues when we get unstable that they feed off each other and would make us both crash. As an example. When Jess is having a hard time it comes out as irritability and a harsh tone of voice. That mood triggers my anxiety and PTSD which makes me really go off fast. On the other hand my anxiety can trigger her irritation at times and she’ll lose her patience.

She lived on her own a long long time ago. She’s terrified about it because it really didn’t work out. Her life was kind of stuck in a rut for many years. She didn’t manage finances very well or her health. Which lead to the physical collapse in 2009.

I’ve never lived on my own except for dorm at college. It was ok but not at all great. I felt lonely a lot and my depression made it hard to go to meals get laundry and personal needs taken care of regularly. It was at the end of all that that I knew I needed some kind of structure to help give me support with that. I felt safe and good at Friedman place and like I had everything just right until my mental illness overtook all other issues.

It took me like what feels like a million years to get really really stable here. But now I know I am. I have Jonathan and Edith. The other caseworkers. Though I barely talk to them and don’t even know the new ones, knowing there there 12 hours a day is really reassuring. Nurses to be sure meds are on track. A good psychiatrist who goes to a good psych unit, finally! An okish medical doctor. Not so great food but oh well. It’s clean and we have our cozy room.

Maybe it’s the base of stability I have that’s set my mind on a mission to think about leaving. It’s an odd concept. But it reminds me of something Jonathan said. That the best work you do in therapy is when you’re really doing well so you can handle emotional stuff, or hard thoughts and really work things out. Now I see the point.

So back to the progression. We knew we really didn’t want to live in an apartment totally alone so would need some kind of outside support. But we were still thinking about staying in this area. Then I don’t know when maybe a month or so ago I started to really miss MA. It’s weird because I have no friends there. Just my weird family and old relatives who we could never stay with. But I just miss the state in general and knowing where all the towns are. Lately it’s more that I’m fed up with the lack of mental health services/ volunteer oppurtunities here. If it weren’t for intermediate care facilities which I find awesome, I wouldn’t like IL at all. I thought a big city like Chicago would have so much for mental health care. I didn’t realize the governor would cut everything under the sun and all people would be crammed into like four huge mental health centers. And they have it so individual therapists can’t take Medicaid which in MA they can..

I feel like right now my nitch is hotline/ crisis work. And it still gets me that there is only one hotline in the intire city.

I miss the huge Depression bipolar alliance community DBSA group in Belmont. I could become a peer worker more easily than here as there

Are many more places to get that certification. Just different stuff. And an intuitive feeling like I just want to go back there.

Jess wants to go anywhere in new England and says perhaps I should “spread my wings” to other states. I agree as long as there are solid services. She says she’s always wanted to live in origon or wasington so those are possibilities. From my friends experience and pure climate issues we will not be going to California, Arizona, Idaho, or Colorado. Or Alaska as it’s wicked cold.

I think about this now off and on everyday. . It’s like riding a merry-go-round. Sometimes it’s thrilling and exciting to see all the different possibilities and new things, seeing a new life. Other times it’s so scary. Like OMG am I serious? I have nearly perfect stability here. I know that a move would tear all that apart at least temporarily for both of us. What if we moved and discovered it was the worst mistake of our lives? But a small part of me weirdly, feels like if we don’t move it might be just as big a mistake. I’ve never felt like that before. I need consistency so much and changes shakes me up so bad. I love the idea of knowing I can settle somewhere forever. That’s why I hate any short term programs, even for therapy. I like knowing I can do something for as long as I need to and not be on someone’s timeline. I still feel this way. When all this new emotion and thoughts become too much I slide back into the comfort of this place, all the things I have set to support me, how well I’m doing here right now how there’s no hurry. But at moments I feel like I just want to run out of here. Like I’m missing something somewhere else. It’s all so confusing, but I think Jonathan would say it’s a good step forward. I haven’t dared tell staff about it. Like talking about it with someone that’s not Jess, someone who would get all this into motion for us when we were ready, would make all this jumble in my head much more real.

Maybe I’m just bored. Maybe once I hopefully get to volunteer with NRS and Jess gets into school I’ll love the new routine and all this will go away. A part of me wants it to. Like everything is so new and intense it’s almost like I feel a little crazy, except a positive crazy if there is such a thing.

Jess will be in school at least four years. This is a relief when I’m leaning towards wanting to be here stable and happy for as long as possible. And makes me feel boxed in when I’m so full of future possibilities of places to go. It’s a lot to take in. Maybe that’s why I’m taking two naps a day again. It keeps me up at night sometimes. I remember back to when I was on that almost manic tear about needing to get away from Albany now! Edith was beside herself with worry. Jonathan was calm and I guess said to let it play out and we don’t know the future. She said he should have the answers in a joking sort of way. He’ll probably say the same thing to let it play out. So we will and will see what happens.

Thoughts have any of you experienced this shift, at once wanting to continue on a certain track feeling so safe and knowing you’re doing well where you are, but just as strongly wanting to start over? I’m speaking more to those with chronic mental illness or disabilities. It’s huge for anyone to start a new chapter in their lives but there are all sorts of complications if you’re dealing with long term mental illness and disability issues. So would love to get responses from anyone in my similar situation.

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Book Review: I Don’t Want to Be Crazy by Samantha Schutz

I don’t want to be crazy is a raw and honest account of Samantha’s journey with panic disorder and transition into young adulthood. The book is a memoir told in verse, and is extremely well written. It starts when Samantha is leaving for college. She is very eager to leave family, friends and especially an insensitive boyfriend behind.

She goes to college and is overwhelmed by the sudden vast amount of choices for activities, friends guys ETC. She bounces from one group of friends to another trying to find her place. She smokes a lot of marajauna through the book particularly in her time at school and I can’t help but wonder if that has an effect on her panic atacks. I don’t know anything about the relationship between pot and anxiety disorder so if anyone has thoughts or experience I’d be happy to hear them.

Her panic atacks start out intense and hit her in crowded closed in places. Like the lecture hall and dining hall. At first she thinks they’re from “bad highs” and tries to ignore them. But they become constant and she often feels so sick to her stomach she has to leave several times to be sick, or stays home from classes.

She’s gone to the health center for several illnesses which had increased her anxiety. She happens to see a poster describing panic atacks and things click for her. She goes to the counseling center and gets an apointment with a therapist and prescription for anxiety medicine.

Even with the support of the therapist and meds her life is one cycle of panic atacks, relative calm, hoping this is the end of it and then more atacks. Each atack leaves her breathless, sick to her stomach, dizzy, (sometimes she actually passes out) and totally exhausted. She starts to fear the actual atacks more then what triggered them so she stays away from so many things. It’s hard as sometimes she’ll be in a situation that triggered an atack one day but then another it will be fine. But a different situation/ circumstance will prompt an atack.

When she comes home from break her parents don’t catch on at first about the atacks. She does eventually tell them. They try to understand but it’s hard as if you’ve never experienced this type of overwhelming out of the blue chaos you really can’t accurately give anyone a picture of it. Her parents as well aren’t as empathetic as one would wish. People that are kind of like let’s pretend everything’s ok even when it’s not.

Even without her parent’s understanding she does have a couple friends at school that get her. Two that either have panic atacks themselves or are related to mental health professionals. She has a couple of boyfriends who are more or less understanding but they break up with her. Her major anxiety destroys relationships because she can’t control her actions/ behaviors when one hits and the other person doesn’t get it. It’s hard on them to always be looking out for her and the worst part is she doesn’t want this at all. All she wants to do is be happy and stable, but the pressures of young adulthood, balanceing classes, friends, expectations from family, parties ETC plus the emergence of her mental illness (which may or may not have happened anyway) continue to tear her world apart. As with all mental illness, she has periods of stability. Whether they’re from meds/ therapy, or just the nature of the beast it’s hard to tell. Each remission as she calls them leaves her with hope that this is it. This nightmare is over. At first she is very cautious finding it hard to believe that she’s actually ok for hours or days without an atack. Then she takes more risks and starts to relax into things. A stable and good time for her is the semester she studdied abroad in Paris. A lot of her friends were doing this going to different countries. For the first couple months she is doing really well. Overwhelmed about being in a strange country and not knowing the language well, but she takes a liking to her host family. And gradually she feels even more relaxed and adventurous. She sees the sights, takes pictures, paints and meets many good people. Things fall apart one day when they’re headed on a tour somewhere. She has a panic atack and it terrifies her. This starts a downward spiral of her wishing and working like mad to do the things that her therapists have taught her, deep breathing talking herself down ETC. Lucky for her one of her friends that’s the therapist’s daughter does understand and can be supportive in that moment. Being the calm voice of reason and emotional ankor that is needed during the all out emotional and physical overload. Even with the support and understanding of this friend and the group in general she feels horible. She manages to do the spring break tour when they go to other enighboring countries. But she ends up being prescribed drugs by doctors in those areas, and she feels like a failure for being on meds again. The meds do help somewhat. And coming back to Paris for the last of her time there does stabilize her.

Another year gone by. She continues the cycle of panic, remission, hope for the future, more fighting with the internal monster. What gets her through are the friends that truly care. The ones who have dealt with anxiety in the past, or who know a lot about mental illness. Even other friends pick up on her cues and behaviors that she tries to use to get herself out of situations before they get worse. She’ll be doing well at a certain situation and then she just has this feeling like it’s time to go before things get pushed too far inside her. At the end of the book even after a lot more therapy and having a better handle on things, she still has these “safety nets.” But calls them “webs that bind me.” I actually disagree. I think this knowing herself and what she can and can not handle before being overloaded is a good coping skill. You wouldn’t judge someone or say it’s a bad thing for someone with a physical illness to know their limets. I don’t think it’s fair for people to say it’s not ok for someone in this situation to do the same. Realistically. A lot of what she has to learn are what are realistic limits due to the constant nature of the disorder, and what are the irational overpowering thoughts and emotions that try to tell her she can go no further.

When she finishes college she is launched into a whole new unknown. She moves home and her parents give her a week’s break before job searching. I agree with her that that’s too short especially with her anxiety. But like I said though they grew more and more understanding they’re not the most empathetic. She takes a temp job and hates it. She takes another job doing some kind of publishing filing thing. Her boss is horible. Everyday she comes home crying and her father says “welcome to the real world.” She falls into a kind of in between state, not sad, not happy. Angry, jaded. Like what? I went through four years of this to work a job I hate with other unhappy people? I’m sure this is a question many many people face. It just contributes to her anxiety.

The cycle builds again. She can’t take the train without thoughts of a major fatal crash. She sits and works herself up into atacks worrying about her own health and that of her family. Her sister also becomes a good support to her. It’s to the point where she does have to take some time off work. Her family asks if she wants to go to the hospital but she is determined “not to cross that line between outpatient and inpatient.”

She sees one therapist after another. One really bad self centered one. Her current therapist has a picture of a fantasy character battling imaginary monsters. Seeing it she knows the therapist will be good. She goes on a med rollercoaster with him, he must be a psychiatrist as well as do therapy that isn’t really made clear. The tapering and reaising of med doses day by day would send me right over the edge and I’d demand hospitalization. She pushes her way through and they finally find a tolerable dose that seems to keep some of the overwhelmingness at bay. So she can work on continuing the only treatments there seem to be. Breathing techniques and talking herself out of things. I could relate to a lot of her struggles. Of breathing exercises just not working, and the struggle to develop an inner voice of reason and calm when everything is in absolute chaos.

She works her ass off and still has the ups and downs. The book ends with her 22nd birthday. Where she had had a week with no full blown atacks. She is able to talk herself out of an atack into being able to go to work and a party after. She keeps a note with her saying that the things she’s afraid of are not real, and all the things she’s doing now that seem so insurmountable will be ok because she’s done them a milion times. That would be a long winded paragraph to read for me but it helps. She also starts taking yoga.

She takes a one day at a time aproach. No longer feeling like the panic runs her life totally, she seems to know how this works and is doing her best to fight it. Just focus on fighting it when she can, enjoying the good days. She’s let go of the anger around why is this happening? And the guilt around feeling like a horible person for not being “like everyone else.” Or for having different needs than others, like having to leave a party early.

The last sentence of the book summs it up: I am in a house. I’m in one room and my anxiety is in another. It’s close. I can feel it. I can go to it. But I won’t.”

This capturesher resolve to tackle the situation moment by moment. To try and distance herself from the anxiety but to know that it is and may always be there. She takes her fight with this very seriously knowing she needs to do this to live her life. She is a good example of the cycles that we go through as people with mental illness. The overwhelming first incounters with the monster, in whatever form it takes. The trying to fend them off and hoping it will all just end. The maze of therapists and medications and periods of just wishing it away. Wondering what you did to deserve this. Feeling helpless angry and hopeless. Misunderstood and alone in the world of internal war. Samantha is lucky she had very supportive friends, and simi supportive parents. Helpful therapist and friends who never gave up on her.

I think many many people can relate to the time and place of this story. When I studdied counseling it came up a lot that a person’s first instance of chronic mental illness came up in young adult years. A time of just jumping into the world of classes, building new connections, drama with friends and romance, figuring out who you are. To have the unpredictable and devastating burden of anxiety atacks or depression or whatever on your back is enough to break a person. Samantha showed ferce courage and determination to recover. Often she is hard on herself, but in a way that aspect also keeps her from doing things she feels are just against her personal views. Like relying on atavan or even taking it, going into the hospital or just hiding away. She hid away for a time and thought she’d never get out of misery. But she pulled herself back up and faced the monsters, using the tools that really didn’t seem to touch things before but using them without backing down. Battling through each atack.

Her story deeply touched me as I have generalized anxiety and often have the racing irational thoughts and overwhelming emotions. My caseworker and I were trying to figure out the difference between GAD and panic disorder. As I told her about the book and she’d never heard of panic disorder. I said people with GAD just have a high level of anxiety around different things, with panic disorder it’s one atack after another. But she said that might not explain it either. I thought being a mental health worker she’d know about all the different disorders but that’s cool.

Anyway I welcome comments on this book and the area of fighting anxiety/ panic.

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a wonderful christmas

Hi everyone,

I hope your Christmas day is going well. If not well then at least that you’re safe and getting through the day.

I’ve had a wonderful day today with Jess!

Here’s a video of us showing off our presents. We tried to capture us naturally opening them but it didn’t record. Still I think it shows how grateful and happy we are not just with our presents but more important just being together.

Would love to hear about people’s holidays and am here for support.

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Book review: Crying in the Dark by Shane Dunphy

An amazing book I just finished is Crying in the Dark. It is one of several memoires by a childcare worker in Ireland.

Shane has built quite a career in child protection and social services.

In this book he has just left a childcare worker job vowing to leave child protection behind. He is extremely burnt out. He started working at a teen residential home but it wasn’t for him. So his bosss reffered him to another agency. They do intensive social work/ therapy with families for a three month perod. Based on the results the families are usually given more intensive treatment with the children being placed in secure settings. Because of the “last chance” nature of the place it’s nicknamed Last Ditch House.

Shane is assigned three cases. First is the Walshes. Two siblings Bobby and Micky swear that they see and talk to their dead father. The house seems cold and odd, just something not right about the place. Shane has the boys go to opposite sides of the room and draw what their father looks like and they come back with the exact same picture. Shane tries many methods to get them to realize that their father is dead. From storytelling to sandtray. He goes out one day to observe them conversing with their dad, and a freak and intense rain storm chases them indoors.

Shane seems as caught up in the possible paranormal aspects of the case as the family, and his supervisor cautions him against this. After a psychologist more interested in the researchability of the case rather then the minds of the children in mind, Shane takes a reality chedck approach to the situation. Only after an extremely emotional experience at their father’s grave are the boys able to lay the ghost to rest.

The second family centers around Mina. A 17 year old young woman with down’s syndrome. Though with the charastic facial features and a slight speech issue, Mina is very intelligent and wants to have relationships like every normal teenager. Currently her problem is that she’ll run away for days on end. The family are beside themselves. It is clear that the well to do couple especially the husband want to intimidate Shane, and make him leave as soon as possible saying he has no business with their family. Mina too freezes him out. Even after he follows her and finds her in of all places the dark and horrific world of prostitution. It comes to light that a young man Jacob and she are attracted to each other, but any kind of relationship like that is totally discouraged and even laughed at by staff at the sheltered workshop and at home. It seems that people can’t get their minds around the fact that people with disabilities are human and have the same needs for connection as any other person. With Shane’s help and after a close to tragic encounter with these sexually predatory men, Mina is finally able to show her parents that her mental health depends on having a relationship as anyone else would.

The last children that Shane works with during this time are the Brynes. Twins Francey and Larry are extremely traumatized by a past filled with shocking neglect and abuse. They were left outside for so long with no food that they became animal like to survive. Clawing making sounds and moving on all fours at first they look feral. Their behavioral leaves counselors at the residential home where they’ve been placed at the end of their rope. The first day when Shane looks into the children’s eyes he’s able to see beyond the animal defense to the intelligent but extremely wounded children inside. He waits out their behavior setting boundaries and they seem to take to this approach. Eventually he uses reading storytelling and other methods to get them to open up. He gains their trust suficently enough so that they go back to the house where the children were abused. Shane and a particularly caring residential counselor observe their behavior at the house. Through this heart wrenching experience they learn the sickening things these poor children were subjected to.

With this information polece are able to arrest their father Malki. Their mother vera, the true abuser and mastermind of everything gets off free. The story leaves the reader e enraged at the injustice of this, but also hopefull about the boy’s recovery.

In a case not on the books but in Shane’s heart, he happens on a girl from his past as a student at a residential home. Sylvie was five then. It’s ten years later

And she is walking the streets as a prostitute. What seemed a perfect reunification with her father around the time Shane left the unit turned disasterous as he abused her from day one. She’s been on the streets going from man to man and her father’s beatings and back. Shane sees her and vows to bring her to safety. For awhile she is extremely unable to let him into her life. She didn’t know anyone who cared that much. Shane also struggled with the ethical issues of whether or not to pursue this as he’s not technically working with the agency on it. When he comes to her apartment and discovers she has a baby by her father his feerceness to protect her grows stronger. After a physical confrontation with her father and Shane’s horror at how this was then taken out on Sylvee, he finally tells his boss. Who says that was “rogue” of him and is disappointed but still helps Sylvee and her daughter in the end.

The stories in this book couldn’t be more different from one another and cover such a wide variety of issues. I think this book would appeal to students of psychology, social work, childcare ETC. As well as prospective foster or adoptive parents or people just interested in the life of a social worker, how a case goes from beginning to end and the ethical and psychological issues encountered. Shane has written several books which I will read and review!

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thoughts on holidays and advice to others with mental illness

It’s Christmas eve and I’m hanging out in my double room (most everyone has a four person haaaaah) with my bestist friend/ roommate/ adopted (I wish) sister. I have my stufties in my jamas with fresh water. I couldn’t be happier.

Well I could. If I had Lucky my cat. But will skype with him tomorrow. Talked to my family who are all ok though my sister has strept and had to go to the hospital last night.

Feeling settled. Thinking about Christmases over the past few years.

The ones at Friedman were very good. Both of them. I remember the first we skyped while I opened presents with my family. I forget the second one. Well I think that second year was actually when I was hospitalized because it was 2013. I came to Albany care right before thanksgiving. By Christmas I really hadn’t moved out of the dark place I was in. I hated hated myself. I hated life. I was enraged enough at people for selfishly keeping me from peacefully dying that if I could I would have blown up the whole well whatever I could get my paws on!

But deep down I was just lost and empty and didn’t want to do a thing. My parents had sent a package to FP I somehow found the energy to reroute it so it got here. But refused to open it and had staff store it. I think I slept as much as possible that day I just wanted to hide from it all.

Last Christmas was awesome! I had connected with Jess and we were both doing really well in this room! We opened presents and had an awesome time. I hope to never have a lonely depressed Christmas again.

It’s given me real insight into how overwhelming the holidays can be if you’re extremely depressed, anxious, greeving the loss of a loved one, a job, relationship ETC. Or if you’ve had trauma around the holidays and are experiencing PTSD triggers. If you use substances, self injury, eating disorders or other behaviors it may be overwhelmingly tempting to resort to those.

There are no easy answers and each person’s black hole is different. I know with me there was no pulling me out until I got enough meds in me. And even so it took Jonathan literally fighting my illness, which pretty much had me entirely in its grip, to get me climbing out. Knowing you’re not alone doesn’t fix anything and life still sucks. I guess all I can say is it’s ok to not be ok. Even though everyone around you seems insanely fake happy with all the music and special TV shows. I hated that music OMG! LOL.

Just be you. Try and be with people who get it. Who can stand by you through your anxiety, triggers, self-harm urges, greef or whatever. People who won’t try to cheer you up but will just be with you. Just have a low key day. If the only way you can get through it is to sleep or treat it like a normal day that’s fine. There’s no rule that says you have to do specific stuff on Christmas or you’ll be arrested by the holiday polece. Just getting through is an accomplishment in itself.

You never know when mental illness might get the upperhand. I can’t say for sure that one Christmas I won’t be back where I was sleeping the day away. But I’ll have much more support than back then and that would help me get through the hard time faster.

If anyone wants to talk I’m here.


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