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Is it good enough YET? Am I on target? Whose target are we talking about, anyway?


Description unavailable

Description unavailable (Photo credit: ♥Je m'appelle Laura♥)

Drained self esteem, in a can

Drained self esteem, in a can (Photo credit: mary hodder)

self-esteem, groups and hate

self-esteem, groups and hate (Photo credit: Will Lion)

Apparently, in someone’s life, for example, mine, sometimes there are folks who feel the need to set standards for others.  I understand this is important in certain contexts: academic, career/job-related requirements, expectations with regards to personal relationships, maybe also the expectations of authority figures that we may feel are important enough to place value in such a way that they may shape our very self-worth.  Is this true?  I think so, at least in my case.

I tried to craft an e-mail to my former teaching credential adviser.  I started to ramble.  Also, the nature of the information I found myself sharing was utterly personal, never mind the fact that I did not know how to even face my own feelings in this regard and how they may or may not have impacted my feelings about myself.

Is it only in Westernized industrial culture that we place our self worth so heavily upon expectations of others, particularly in the employment/career-related tracks of life?

The only other framework worth mentioning in this context is that of intimate relationships.  In my own experience and I’ll wager in others’, it seems very likely to place some kind of self-judgment in response to events that occur to include the response of our partner and the overall success of the relationship as a whole.

Why?  Why do we, I or why does anyone else, for that matter, why does anyone regard another’s opinion as a measurement of our own self worth?

The definition of self esteem as I’ve come to learn through personal strife as well as academic circles has to do with internalized self worth that is not dependent on another’s judgment.  In fact, the root of the assumption that one has what would be considered supposedly “good self esteem” is that in having this self esteem we are somehow as if made of rubber.  The negative opinions of others do not invade our sense of entitlement to respect and ultimately our worth as individuals.

Perhaps I am pondering this in a broad sense as an overall construct, but I’m also breaking it down for myself.  I’m questioning, why is it such a barrier?  Why do I feel like others’ opinions of me can in any way define my quality as a person and my effectiveness as an individual?  I know they cannot.

I practice affirmations at times, yet sometimes I have trouble writing some of them.  Affirmations are generally speaking positive statements about oneself that someone might say out loud every day or read to themselves or use in some other way to engender feelings of self esteem.

A simple one is this:  My self worth is inherent.  I define myself in my own terms, and I am unique.  Nobody else has the power to judge me or to change my ability to take care of myself.  I am powerful beyond measure if I allow, or I am quiet to the point if whisper if I choose.  It is my choice, and I live my life in the best way I know, by my own standards, and I live by my own conscience.  I don’t have to be perfect by others’ standards to be everything I need to be.

Can I find it in my heart to have acceptance of things I wish were different? And is it true then that I really wish them different after all?


Mindfulness

Mindfulness (Photo credit: Cathdew)

I used to be a part of a group at the other mental health office — DBT, dialectical behavioral therapy.  It’s a type of cognitive behavioral therapy intended to stop people from doing self destructive things.  I’m thinking maybe it’s time to get back to it.  There’s a major emphasis on acceptance and being mindful.  These are things I desperately lack.  I lacked mindfulness when I tripped over a bottle and fractured my ankle.  I lack acceptance of the basic facts about my mental health — the treatment, the best way to work with it, the need to accept the limitations inherent.  I lack acceptance often of my baby’s adoption.  It feels unjust although it is very possibly the right thing.  I lack acceptance of some of my own strengths, which causes me to throw away some of the possibilities of achievement inherent in them.

It’s time to reclaim myself again.  I’ve allowed myself to languish too long.  It’s true I’ve needed to recover from my fall.  The fall was a symptom, though.  The way I’ve been acting, I know I’ve been manic or hypomanic recently.  I know Chris hasn’t labeled it as such, but it is blatant to anyone who would pay attention.

I think it’s just been in the past two weeks.

I have a doctor’s appointment this coming week, I believe.  I’ll confirm it.  I’ll make sure I can go.  And I’ll ask the questions necessary. . . set up transportation or see if I’m able to get on the bus safely.

I’m going to be venturing out on my own just down the street with my crutch for the first time since I fell.  I had been nervous because I didn’t want to fall again.  I kind of stayed home.  I think, actually, perhaps I may have made only one other trip.  I forget if I did or not.  I know I’ve gone down to the store with Chris a couple times.  This weekend, he helped me get to the DMV.  He also helped me around the house.

My mood was elevated, and I was overly angry at times.  I was just lecturing.  I’ve also been really serious and intense.  I think these are symptoms, maybe irritability.  I would have to verify, but I really think so.

Anyway, I’ll do what I have to do this week.

My house is stocked with healthy food because a church friend, who’s also the minister’s wife, gave me a ride over to the store again.  She’s really sweet.  They’re moving because her husband didn’t seem to find his true passion with this congregation.  I guess sometimes that’s just how it is.

I’d like to get to church for a little while before they leave.  I’d like to move up in my independence, maybe drive myself there.  I need to find some kind of efficient way to get over there.  I’ll work it out.  I feel it’s an important part of my life.

Next month, April, is a big month in my life always.  It used to be the end of the year was somehow significant because my birthday was in Christmas time and because my grandfather’s was just around Thanksgiving.  The whole season was packed more than anything.  Now April is my wedding anniversary (10th), my father’s birthday — God rest his soul (5th), and my son’s birthday (24th).  Last year, on my father’s birthday, my son was taken out of my custody.  That was the last day that I cared for my son in my own home.

Is it tragic?  I could say it’s part of what I had a feeling would happen for some time before it did happen.  I just had an intuition that this was not going to be an easy road, that there would be roadblocks, and probably it would not go smoothly.

When I found out I would be pregnant, I was asked whether I wanted to keep the baby, put him up for adoption or — terminate.  I knew for a fact I would not terminate him; that much was certain.  I’m pro-choice in general, but I knew I would not kill my own.  I remember lying on the hospital bed where I was when I found out.  I just stayed in bed and got up to walk around, drink chamomile tea a bit.  I don’t remember if they removed all my meds or not.  All I know is that I accepted it.  I accepted the plan that I felt was not completely my own but that had been a choice I made one way or another.

I am so glad I accepted that.  I am so, so glad.  I would never have had any part of this road change other than maybe the fact that David had to go through so much medical strife when he was first born, in the first six months of life.  I would always have chosen to give birth, to raise him if I could, and if it was not workable, if he was not getting what he could from me — I knew I would have to let go and let him have the life he deserves, the best life possible.  This is what I’ve always known deep down, and this is why I made that initial choice.

Now I know.  I know I made the right decision, and I know that everything is for the best.  It’s amazing to say that at long last.  I just know everything will be fine.  And I’m grateful, so very much.

Fracturization (As the Crutches Turn)


MetroPCS billboard, $40 Unlimited talk, text, web.

MetroPCS billboard, $40 Unlimited talk, text, web. (Photo credit: JC0598)

365 Day 69 Genetic Testing

365 Day 69 Genetic Testing (Photo credit: lornagrl) - Someone's hand after genetic testing

I have a good friend who is a deacon at a church called Bethel Missionary Baptist Church.  He kind of acts in a fatherly capacity and has ever since I started to have my life more intertwined with county mental health treatment.  I first started to talk to him before my life became controlled by the courts (conservatorship).  He continued to be a grounding source of wisdom during the time when I was institutionalized, later when I was at a board and care facility, and finally when I came back to the Monterey area to begin with the transitional housing community at which I met my husband almost five years ago.  He has stayed the course as a true friend, offering advice, frequent kind gestures, and support in general.  He helped me yesterday when I had to go to the orthopedic doctor to get my ankle examined and a wrap to stabilize it.

He also tried to take me grocery shopping, but I did not have my ID to make the check.  My credit union was not open.  I needed to activate my new card, but I could not that day.  As a result, I have not been able to pay my Metro PCS pre-paid phone bill.  I have to activate the card in person.  I e-mailed my friend, but he does not always check his e-mail.  I also e-mailed another friend who is wife of the minister at the church where I personally would attend.  Frustration.

My husband said he would come over this week and help me do some things, help me to get some food, maybe with showering (you know, hand me the towel, maybe help pull me out of the bathtub since I don’t have a seat for the shower, clean up).  He might not be able to come tomorrow because his mother is insistent that we get this genetic test for David.  I told my husband to tell her that I currently can’t afford it.  I am trying to get insurance to cover the test.  He told me she was upset at me for not being able to pay for it.  I tried to call the hospital before my phone was disconnected.  I left a message.  I was going to find out precisely how much the test costs and if they think the insurance I am currently applying for would cover that.  I can’t call now except using an online phone.  I’ve used Gmail, but I don’t know if it does long distance calls.  San Francisco is long distance to me.

Tired of frustration and stress, people not being understanding, tired I really am.  I told my mother that I think my mother-in-law does not really care one way or the other if I am well.  She (my mother) pointed out how Patricia (mother-in-law) sure enjoyed being around David.  I answered that she may enjoy that, but she really doesn’t seem to care at all about my interests.  Honestly, inside, I feel she wouldn’t care if I fell off this great Earth.  I’m sure that’s a terrible thing to say, but I get that impression.  I stayed with her for a couple months while my husband was going through some troubles, and she wasn’t very understanding when I was depressed while my marriage was in trouble and I had to stay away from my own home with the baby.  She didn’t seem very compassionate.  She wouldn’t even drive me to the doctor, only stay with the baby.  It seemed as if my own needs always came last.  I’m not sure if that is the way most in-laws are.  I don’t know, not having much experience.  I don’t know if I’m perceiving things differently.  I’m no expert, but I can only say how I feel.

I don’t know how long I have to just stay home while I wait for my ankle to be somewhat better.  I don’t know what the indication would be that I could do things on my own.  The doctor gave a six to eight week projected recovery period.  That timeline falls outside the anticipated date for my son’s birthday party.  I’m sure I could ask in three weeks when I go to see the orthopedic again.

Good grief, Charlie Brown.

 

Autonomy, Creativity and Psychological Issues


Português: Gato Psicótico criado pelo autor. E...

Image via Wikipedia

Rethink Mental Illness

Image via Wikipedia

http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/wilma-smithtempel.html?tab=artwork

Normally, I share my artwork in the designated page entitled “Artwork.”  You can find this in the upper tabs.

Recently, I have started making my art available on the above website, FineArtAmerica.com.  The pieces are just available as cards right now.  Someday soon I will figure out how to edit my art into print-size and poster-size versions.  Until then, these cards will continue to be available so people can get a hint at some of the projects I have done.  I have some more that I could probably post.  Soon I will get it accomplished.  I’m slow; bear with me.

I was going to ask advice on the issue of keeping my relationship going despite very negative interactions with my husband.  I have been wondering how often it happens that couples who have been separated reunite to live happily ever after.  Also, we ask the question of whether living apart but remaining married (sometimes called Living Apart Together) can provide a happy middle ground. one where we don’t have to part completely but can enjoy autonomy.

Perhaps the problem we are facing is one my father used to say as a child and that he told me about a lot.  I used to ask my father repeatedly to tell me stories about himself growing up.  One that he always repeated and I never tired of was that of how he used to tell his mother she was “frustrating his autonomy” when he was just a small child.  Maybe that’s what we do to each other.  Maybe we need our space.

I have twisted delusions sometimes, ones that I don’t always tell people.  I will think someone is another person entirely.  I will think that I used to know them a long time ago in another part of my life but they don’t remember their old identity and neither do I.  Do other people imagine these things?  They frighten me sometimes because maybe I am strange enough to believe them.  It’s kind of uncomfortable talking about it in the open, but I figure the more I’m willing to talk about it, the more it makes the world a safe place for people to talk openly about their mental differences.

Why do we have to call it “mental illness” or “disorder” or “craziness” or “insanity”?  True, these things are scary.  They can rob us of pieces of our lives.  Maybe I’m the one having trouble admitting the truth.  Maybe I’m also stuck in what old style Freudian psychoanalysis would call neurosis, meaning I have unresolved trauma and this brings up false memories and beliefs.  Which is true?  How do I know?  Do other people think this way?

In the end, I just have to live with what I have and move forward whatever my strange imaginings may be.  When I share my art with the world, I am showing another part of myself.  When I contribute to the world through volunteerism, I am giving back to others while building on my own self esteem.

I have to tell myself I’m fine even when I’m struggling.  I really am fine, just as long as I decide to use my resources and stay ahead of my symptoms.

Self-Analysis Report


Last time I wrote, I was bemoaning the loss of personal items on a bus.  I’m still in the process of replacing things, still need to head to the DMV for my state identification, and I still need to recover my mail keys.  I have to wait to get those because they require photo identification.

The past week, I’ve basically stayed home.  I went to a tour of Monterey Institute of International Studies and was told to be more certain of my goals before pursuing such an expensive investment of time and dedication. I can agree.  I do not want any more false-starts.

In another area of my world, it seems the scope of my world has somehow shrunk.  I had been attending Omni Resource Center downtown where I would volunteer and participate in groups, but I took a break.  I called and told them I was going to take time to explore the possibility of work or school.  Maybe this was a bad idea. 

I know I missed one doctor’s appointment (mental health) at the beginning of the month because I overslept.  I didn’t mean to do this.  I was catching up because I stayed up all night the night before for no particular reason.

I let some professionals know my mood had altered.  I also know this time of year, as April approaches, this is a sensitive time.  

I have an anniversary effect from my father’s suicide around his birthday which is April 5.  It is hard for me even to write this in a public place because it is such a poignant subject despite the fact that it happened ten years ago.  

Time doesn’t really erase the effects for me so far.  It just results in a new set of life events that I wade through as I move further away from the original date.  Maybe I have never truly processed the grief.

I wonder if I felt the need to take some personal time for myself for a variety of reasons, since perhaps I sensed a disturbance in myself and was trying to contain it, since perhaps I’m afraid of another mental breakdown or destabilization due to this anniversary effect.  I might feel that the current state of events where my son (who was named after my father) is a potential trigger for some kind of unhealthy state of mind.  

I know isolating is not desirable for me, though.  It becomes a prison I impose upon myself.  I need socialization to stay in touch with the world and to “get out of my head” as I used to tell friends was important for my mental and emotional well being.  

I think some of the desire to have employment or school right now is to avoid that insulated lifestyle of isolation.  I fell into this back when I started more focused treatment.  Also, living alone can breed this in me (maybe for others, too?).  I know sometimes when I’m alone too much I start to think that I just want people to leave me alone altogether.  I don’t know why this is, but I know it is not a constructive trend.

The prevailing wisdom would be to forego serious commitment and just volunteer some more, be patient with myself until I know I am solid.  

I should also tell myself that having most of my time filled with volunteering and self improvement is nothing to be ashamed about.  My husband goes through this also.  He started volunteering at a local nonprofit that refurbishes and sells computer systems at a very low price.  He didn’t stay because he felt the position might not be as meaningful because it is not paid work.

I know volunteer work is not only valuable but vitally necessary.  I know because nonprofits cannot function without them and without nonprofit agencies, so many resources we take for granted would not be possible in the same way.  I know.  I really do.

I volunteered as editor of the newsletter that is distributed throughout the county based in Interim, Inc. (the nonprofit agency that provides community supports, advocacy and other resources in conjunction with the county mental health department).  The newsletter is available to anyone who wants to receive it.  Many people who are not part of that system read it, including doctors and others.  I made a commitment to this, and I intended to stay with it.  Maybe I should be happy with this.  Maybe right now, this is what I am doing, and it’s fine.  I don’t need to be dissatisfied.  Sometimes the best employment opportunities are the ones that happen when we least expect it.

I’m also supposed to start volunteering at Our Voices, and I have volunteered sometimes at Omni Resource Center, both of which are peer-driven resources for Interim clients.  

Why do I think it’s not good enough?  I know it’s a great thing to be able to volunteer, contribute to an organization that I support with all my heart and which helps so many people.  I know it is invaluable experience if I ever want to go further in psychology and/or counseling (and I might).

Why am I disillusioned? Or am I?

Today is a Day for Art


Often I feel words on a page have life.  I used to walk around my university as a freshman and sophomore with poetry running through my mind describing my inner philosophies and illustrating my current life through verses that I never remembered but which kept me entertained on my long walks around the largeUniversityofCaliforniacampus inSanta Cruz.  I enjoyed all the walking, and I enjoyed all the thinking.  I enjoyed them probably too much because I did not notice that my life and my consciousness were disintegrating without my awareness, as is the nature of a shift of this sort.

Since I lived in words and thoughts, when I stopped being able to express myself lucidly due to a lack of cognitive ability or clarity, my depression started, and my world seemed to dramatically shut down.  My mood became dark, and my motivation screeched shut.

I didn’t care about anything, not even enough to brush my hair.  I was paranoid about food content.  I was vegan in those days, but I was paranoid that not only were things I might be eating possibly non-vegan, but that this non-vegan-ness, this contamination, well – it might make things poisonous.  In response, my housemates, made a very involved vegan dish of lasagna that I always made myself normally, a gesture they made in an effort to encourage me to eat.  I would not eat because of my paranoia, and the girls grew increasingly concerned.

A few days passed, and the girls took me to the hospital.  I became violent, acted out, and screamed for my rights in the unit, the whole nine yards.  I was hysterical.  They gave me some kind of medication, probably a sedative or maybe a mood stabilizer.  I could not tell you what because it was so long ago and I didn’t care what it was then, anyway.  I didn’t want to take medication.  I felt they were toxic, poisonous, and I just wanted to get better on my own, get back to school and continue on my work with my part time job and my ambitions in life.

Life doesn’t always go as planned.  In fact, in my experience, it rarely does.  Whatever you feel is the path maker in life, it’s not usually governed only by you, I or anyone who makes plans in life.  Sure, we can decide to make changes in our lives, and we can make decisions to improve our lives.  We can succeed at these things, definitely we can.  Still, there are always events, fortunes that present themselves as hurdles.  Life hands you lemons, you can add some sugar or you can find some limes and make it more interesting.

As I went along in my early and mid-twenties, I always had one step forward and two steps back.  I felt I had overcome my hurdles and there would be no more.  I would get to the highest level of wellness I had felt in a while, try new things that I felt I was able to do as a reward and a challenge, telling myself that since I was healthy I could handle more now.  I just sometimes forgot to be cautious.  Sometimes I forgot that I need to be safe with myself and love myself enough to know my limits.  This was not a sign of weakness but a measure of strength to know myself enough that I would not let anything in life make me crumble again.

Time and time I made the same mistake, trying new goals, falling backwards, falling further down than I had been the previous time.  This is related also to the most recent episode with my son, in which I had tried to handle my separation with my husband, new responsibilities as a single mother, my own mental illness challenges, my grief about my father’s death still lingering, and my goals about getting an advanced degree in my field.  I tried too much all at once, and suddenly the inevitable happened.  I broke.  I didn’t break to the point of being unable to be fixed.  I just broke temporarily.  I got back into my groove again later, but I lost a part of my life that time.  I lost a part of my life that I had always wanted even before I had it.  I lost a piece of my connection with my son.

I had always wanted to be a parent.  When I was a young child, I used to take care of other young children.  When I was in fifth grade, my parents wouldn’t let me go to science camp because my father was overprotective.  I helped out in two classrooms with the younger children instead – preschool and third grade.  I have always loved people younger than me.  I love people older than me, too.  I just love people.  They are frustrating and tiresome, but I love them anyway.  It’s a blessing and a curse.

There is an art and a science to being a parent that I wish I had mastered earlier on in my relationship with my son.  I never understood until I was away from him for a little while. I had a lot of input from various sources, including professionals of all types, government officials, a few family members, church members, friends, medical individuals and more. Sometimes too much input is just too much, though.  There is an art and a science just like (and I hate to say it because it sounds crude) there is an art and science to cooking or painting or doing anything that requires precise measurement and ingredients and skill but is still up to the individual to a great degree.

Parenthood is the ultimate version of this, and it is more important than any of the others because it not only affects the parent and the child but it affects the whole world.  That is because this little person who had entered the world through the vehicle of parental attachment will someday contribute to the world in ways that no one will ever envision.  The world will change that child, and that child will change the world.  We know this of course, but I’m not sure I thought of it so much, and I don’t think I gave it precise awareness all the time.  It could be a daunting undertaking if you got too scared about it for all these reasons . . . and so I did, I became scared . . . and I fumbled.

My mothers’ friend who helps her with driving told her that “fear is wishing for things we don’t want.”  Maybe that’s like that converse of the power of positive thinking.  Maybe it is the opposite of that movie/book phenomenon they called “The Secret”.  I’m sure I do not know enough about that to comment, but what I can say I do know is . . . I did not want to lose custody of my son, and I was afraid that this would happen.  This fear made me anxious, and this anxiety made me scared to do almost anything at all.  Fear can paralyze, and I believe it did in my case.

There is a long connection between my experiences with illness, my son, and the introduction of my story about words on a page and their life upon that page.  The connection lies somewhere in the meaning of my own words, my own experiences, what is possible for myself and/or others to learn from them, how I can use what I have to be of benefit, and how can I as an individual, a writer, a mother, and any other person with a role in life – how can I understand these events in relation to myself?  It’s about a relationship with me and a relationship to my life.

I once wrote a final paper in college about a hypothesis I had concerning how the spaces, the nuances, the shapes of words that take form by the author may reflect feelings, even cultural beliefs or reactions pertaining to physical realities about space.

My main thesis in this paper had to do with First Peoples (in particular from North, Central and South America) who had a traditionally oral language (not normally written down on paper) but which still had been converted to a transcribed form when the European inhabitants exchanged elements of language and cultural practices.  I postulated that there were some psychological elements of cultural and linguistic productions that show up in the physical placement of words, sentence structure and overall layout as well as composition as they are presented.  Perhaps, I thought, people from different cultures might show (for example) more open space if they experienced more openness in their physical lives or in their physical space, particular their living environment.

I am sure one could do research about this idea. Perhaps a survey could be gathered between different cultural groups, including subcultures, even communities within a certain culture that differ in living arrangements, perhaps even include institutional communities.  If a correlation were found between physical placement of words on a page or in some other document, perhaps this could be connected to psychological characteristics such as happiness or health of some kind.  Who knows, right?

Maybe people are already doing this?  Who am I to say?  I haven’t read a psychology or other academic paper since sometime the first half of 2010.  That was for an online class that I attempted at the University of theRockies, which is a university inColorado, primarily for different types of psychology but offers some other coursework as well.  I am always so unsure what I want to do in life.  I waiver and hesitate and think I will choose something, then choose it momentarily, but something holds me back.  Sometimes I want to start back into graduate school, but I am unsure what I want to do.  I am afraid if I start on an option, I will start but not like it but want to finish anyway because I have already started.

I already nearly finished a teaching credential program – Special Education with a specialization in Mild/Moderate disabilities, but I was considering getting a certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis from the same university.  I was studying locally atCaliforniaStateUniversity,MontereyBay– a university with a lot of support from Leon Panetta, who is a local of my area and now I believe is the head of the CIA.  I am not bragging at all.  This is just the facts, ma’am.

Today I engaged in some creative processes:

(1) I talked with a grandfather who was with his grandson, a boy younger than my son.  The boy had long hair and sometimes people thought he was a girl.  He was beautiful, not in a girly way.  Beautiful does not have to have a gender.  Maybe it never does.  The man gave his grandson some chewing gum.  I listened to the man talk about how he is taking custody of this child for his daughter.  I wondered to myself why I can’t take care of my own son.  I realized there is no use wondering this.  Either I take action or I don’t, and if I don’t, I have still taken an action in making a choice and sticking to that decision.  Either way, the decision is made

(2) I attended Breakthrough H’art, an art collective through Interim Incorporated, the mental health agency with which I have been connected for a few years.  I also volunteer with them in two different places.  I started to work with watercolor pencils for the first time but it ended up just being a pencil drawing.  There is a professional artist who helps with the collective, and he made a number of suggestions as I was working on my picture (featuring a tree, hearts, orange Ohm symbol, a variety of colors) as well as saying how I liked it very much.  Others agreed that I had talent.  I felt good.  He said if he had a child he would not send them to art school because he feels once you are trained, you start thinking too much.

3) I was up into the wee hours looking into a way to sell art online through FineArtAmerica, a page which I will make available in time through this blog.  I may post a link on my art section.  Currently, I have only figured out how to make a few pictures available as greeting cards.  Hopefully, there will be more in the future.

4) I agreed to work on a mosaic for a housing community with Interim called Sunflower House.  This is going to be on Wednesdays.  I have to get in touch with the woman in charge again.  I will ask on Friday when I go back to do more art at Breakthrough H’art.

There may be more that I have not though of including as creative such as making dinner and writing.  These are givens, and I do not need to list them.

To me, life is all an art and a science.  It is a balance, and the balance doesn’t have a correct formula so much as one which works best for a given person at a given time and in a given way.

Validations and Reactions to Mental Health Symptomology


Today I am writing from the Omni Resource Center, where I often attend group, socialize and/or volunteer at the front desk.  This is a support center that is primarily operated by and for people within the mental health network within our county.  It is attached to Interim Incorporated.  This is an organization which overall is a nonprofit helping consumers/clients/whatever you want to call us to overcome barriers to recovery such as availability of housing (although I personally live independently now, that was not always the case), case management, employment as well as educational support services, social events, awareness and other forms of advocacy.  In my area, it is the only comprehensive resource like this.  There are other programs that might be specifically for drugs and/or alcohol or homelessness issues, but this is the only one with the depth of services offered and the level of support.

The programs work in conjunction with the county mental health office.  They also fight stigma that is very prevalent although this particular issue is an everpresent evil in the lives of basically every person living with a disability (not only mental illness).  For more information on stigma, see an old entry I did.  I’m sure you can find it by the tags/categories.

As I’ve worked through my own recurring seeming nightmare of mental health, it has come to my attention through exposure to others in the “system” that mental illness is more common than one may at first suspect.  I should probably look up percentages to quote (not wanting to engage in copyright infringement, given the state of a certain legistlation that’s coming up, just a side note).  Mental illness may seem hard to understand if you are on the outskirts looking into it, perhaps if you know someone in your family or a friend you care about very much seems to be showing signs of issues you do not understand.

Probably one of the worst feelings in my experience has been the experience of labeling.  I would receive it from other people, and I would also place stigma upon myself in an effort to understand my symptoms and experiences.  It was sometimes a safer feeling to dismiss an emotion as simply a mood change and pretend like I didn’t have to do anything about it.  Even if it is a feeling that can be categorized in a clinical way, it is still a feeling and needs validation as well as attention to the needs surrounding it.  Sometimes it can feel even worse, in my own experience, when someone slaps a term such as “manic”, “depressed” or “psychotic” onto an internal state claiming that (a) this is evidence that I have not been taking care of myself, (b) I should just let go of my feelings and it will all go away or (c) it is not an experience or emotion or part of me that happens for any justifiable, logical reason so it does not need attention or understanding.  These reactions are hurtful, and in my experience, they make the process of recovery so much harder. 

It is very tempting to place a person into a supposed “box”.  It is easy to suppose that someone can be written off and their internal world ignored simply because it is the product of an emotional pathology.  When this happens, again, in my own experience, it just means the people surrounding me may not understand the situation from my perspective. 

For me, and I always speak from a personal perspective because each person’s feeling is unique to them, I appreciate to be listened to and understood.  If I am not feeling well, I am still a person, and I may just need a time out, some sleep, some extra TLC.  It’s not a complicated affair for me to get well.  Believe me, I would always much rather walk in wellness.