Snowballing Thoughts

I’ve written a lot about going to therapy. I spent two years seeing a therapist that kept me from going to jail, rehab or both.

Those posts are: Going to Therapy: Setting Goals and Smashing Them

How Can Therapy be Beneficial for You?

Well, it’s time for another round.

I’ve been struggling with writer’s block because I’ve been depressed and anxious. It’s hard to write when you don’t feel like it’s any good.

Motivation is probably my biggest issue- I’d stay in bed all day reading or watching TV if I had the chance. Instead, I drag myself to work for 5 hours. Those hours crawl by. I’m not happy at all with my job and I’d quit tomorrow if I could.

This leads me to my career in general- I don’t know what’s next and that just creates more anxiety. I worry about the kids and my marriage.

These thoughts snowball and are hard to stop.

Facing Reality

I really struggled with the idea. I felt like I failed. I decided on a different therapist because I couldn’t face my former one. It just wouldn’t be the same.

I even got into a psychiatric nurse practitioner. She’s great and I started an anti-depressant. I can’t say yet if it’s helping but I sure hope it does.

She asked me if I had cravings for a drink.

Until then, I hadn’t even thought about it.

Sometimes when I’m stressed, sad or both, I’ll think “I could really use a drink.” I guess I wasn’t paying attention. Part of why I went back to therapy is because I don’t want to relapse. I’m not sure how I’d come back from it.

One of the promises I made to myself when Jake died was to finish the work he started. Even thinking I didn’t do so broke me. As Sara put it, sometimes you need a boost. Plus Jake would be angry at me for not going back because he wanted me to be happy.

As usual, Sara was right.

I felt like I was letting everyone down because for the most part, I’m okay. I got myself back together. Going back means I wobbled on my path.

I talked to Matthew and my closest friends about it and all of them were supportive. If you don’t have friends like these, you need new ones. Matthew hopes it helps because he noticed me pulling away from him.

I cried. I cried a lot. My friends’ support means a lot more to me than they realize. They really do care. I’m not the burden that I thought I was.

That’s the depression talking. It tells me that I should be doing more professionally and that I’m a terrible mom and wife.

If you’ve been depressed, you know what I mean. There’s that voice in the back of your mind telling you things that are hard to process.

I went to my first therapy session with my new therapist last week and she’s very nice. I’ll be there once a week for a while and that’s okay. I have to remind myself of this when I start thinking the bad things.

One day at a time, right?

Being a Bystander: When is it Dangerous?

Everyone’s been in a crowd. We observe a lot of things as we walk through or stand.

Noises. Light. Smells. Where our other companions are if we aren’t alone.

What about the behavior of others?

Crowded area

Why What Others Do Matters

I’d usually tell you to mind your own and keep moving but in a few cases, that actually may be a bad idea.

Being out in public, alone or with others, requires a lot of thought. Planning on where to sit in a restaurant- for example, my mom won’t sit with her back to the door because she can’t see what’s happening as others come in. Or walking alone after dark- many of us won’t if we don’t have to. I get very apprehensive when walking in parking garages, day or night, but then, I’ve probably listened to too many podcasts.

We can’t control the actions of others, as much as we would like. Sometimes, however, we can try to stop a situation before it happens or gets completely out of hand.

If you’ve ever seen “What Would You Do?”, you may understand my previous sentences. The show is about looking at what you would do in certain situations in public- a domestic dispute, discrimination, a lost and hungry child, and other examples. The people don’t know they are being tested until a certain point.

Obviously, if a fight is occurring, there’s always the chance that others will join, just to get on it. Some even might record it, like you would see on social media or a site like Worldstar. What you don’t see often is someone trying to stop the fight. It takes a lot of courage to step in like that. You’re risking your safety, legal record and potentially your life by doing so.

But what happens when someone doesn’t step in OR ignores what’s going on?

Crosswalk

A Psychology Lesson for Today’s Crowds

Let me tell you the story of Kitty Genovese.

Kitty was a young woman living alone in New York City. She was murdered in her own apartment by a man she barely knew. I know this sounds pretty common, but stay with me.

As she was being attacked outside her apartment, neighbors could hear loud noises and screams but nobody, not one single person, bothered to check on her or call the police to report what they were hearing. Kitty fought back, but still died the night of her attack.

When the police finally showed up, they questioned everyone nearby. Most said that they thought someone else would make the phone call to the police that could have potentially saved Kitty’s life. This led to what is called “the bystander effect”- the presence of others discouraging someone from intervening in an emergency situation. The more bystanders that are involved, the less likely it is for someone to provide help. The researchers found that the bystander effect is a combination of two factors: diffusion of responsibility and social influence.

Today, many high schools and colleges promote speaking up when they see something wrong- as the police department in Louisville says, “If you see something, say something.” This can be as simple as asking what is going on or that help is coming, and it may break up the assault or another occurrence. An active bystander is most effective when they assume that they are the only person that will do something.

This information is courtesy of Psychology Today

Photos via Unsplash

What are your thoughts on the bystander effect? Have you ever stepped up in a situation that someone needed help?

2020 Post-Holiday Check-In

I entirely forgot to do one of these before the holidays so here goes:

Physically: I spent a week in a flare that required steroids. That’s the first time I’ve had to get them, but have had a different kind for migraines. The steroids helped and I’m good.

I went in for labs- my liver and kidneys are good. Yay for my liver cooperating. I’m on Vitamin D now but otherwise my other meds stay the same.

Sobriety:

I have three years as of 1/1/2020. This is and has not been easy. I struggled a lot with wanting a drink but it isn’t worth it. Plus, I gotta keep my liver in good shape so it can tolerate these meds.

Emotional:

Ugh. I’ve been a huge mess off and on for the last couple months. I’ve decided to go back to therapy, but this time with someone who can prescribe meds. I think it’s time.

I had a really hard time accepting that I need to go back to therapy. I felt like I failed at my promise to finish Jake’s work. As a friend told me, I did fulfill that promise, and it’s okay to need a bit of extra help.

She’s right.

I also struggled with telling Matthew and my close friends. I felt (and sometimes still do) feel like I should have myself together and that I’ve bothered everyone plenty over the last few years.

I did tell them and I cried for a while because they support me. Good thing I wear waterproof mascara because that day’s would have been ruined.

I’m not even sure what happened. I’ve tried to figure it out, but I can’t live my best life if I’m constantly anxious, sad and not wanting to get out of bed. I have been a lot happier so I know what it feels like.

My first session is on 1/8/2020.

What’s Next?

I couldn’t begin to tell you. I’m not sure about the job I’m at right now for numerous reasons. I got an email for an interview for a position that I’ve previously applied for twice and never got a response.

It starts with a phone interview, which I definitely prefer. Cross your fingers and toes.

Today is Matthew’s 37th birthday. Cameron will be 15 on 1/7/2020. Yuck. Where did the last 15 years go? My little 7 lb, 5 oz baby is now 5’7″ and weighs as much as I do.

There will be a book review this month.

Stay tuned to find out what comes next.

A Year in Books

I haven’t had time to do a book review since my break, but I will likely bring them back in 2020. No worries, I haven’t stopped reading.

This post is a bit of a refresher or maybe even a first time read if you’re new.

Enjoy!

One of my top ten favorite books

Gone Girl

A memoir of a mom in recovery- I hope she remains sober. It’s a daily struggle.

I’m Just Happy To Be Here

A mother has to make tough decisions.

72 Hour Hold

Book? Movie? You decide which is better.

Fight Club

Friendship is EVERYTHING.

Valley of the Dolls

A Guide to the Holidays: Staying Emotionally Healthy

The holidays can be a difficult time for many people. Many deal with stress and/or depression, grief, or other issues like toxic family members. Some even go through the holidays alone. This can be especially hard. It’s important to know how to stay emotionally healthy during this time so that you can enjoy the holidays and possibly be able to help someone you know.

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If You Are Alone

This situation is caused by different factors- distance, family issues, financial issues, and so on. There are ways that you can make this a positive time of the year:

  • Reach out. Many people will offer to extend an invitation to someone they know may be alone for the holidays. Let them know if you are available, offer to bring something. If you have friends who wouldn’t mind an extra person, ask if you can join them for a celebration.
  • Create alternative traditions. “Friendsgiving” potlucks have become popular in the last few years among those who aren’t able to see their families. I’ve gone to a couple, and it’s a lot of fun. Everyone brings a dish, decide on a fun activity, and let the fun begin.
  • Pamper yourself. Do something you enjoy- a day at the spa, nails, a new book, shirt, etc.
  • Help others. This can take many different directions- volunteering at a homeless shelter, animal shelter, etc. This can help remind you of how fortunate you are and it’s a good experience.
  • Travel. If you can afford it, go out of town for a couple of days. If you can’t, try a “staycation” and go places in your city that you haven’t been to.
  • Self- care. Check in with yourself daily- feelings, hygiene, etc. You don’t have to be cheerful 24/7 during this season, alone or not. If you realize you are having a hard time, reach out. Please see my Resources page for more information.

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For Those That Are Grieving

Grief is a hard process any day of the year. The holidays can be harder on someone that is grieving than most people realize. If you are grieving or will be celebrating the holidays with someone that is, these tips may be helpful.

  • Take care of yourself. Grief can affect people differently. Depression can cause a person to not care for themselves as they did before the loss. Self-care is important, even the tiniest steps like brushing your teeth, taking a shower, etc.
  • Don’t rush the process. It may take years for a family to feel like holiday gatherings are “normal” again after a loss. Do not rush through your grieving process for others. Everyone grieves differently and this should be respected.
  • Plan ahead. Do you really want to host Thanksgiving this year? Can someone else do it? Think about where you are in the grieving process and how comfortable you feel hosting holiday events. It might not be for you this year, but in a year or so, it might be okay again.
  • Share stories. This might be hard, depending on the situation, but it can also be helpful. Sharing stories can be good, however, when they focus on the good times with the person, acknowledging that they are missed.

If you are going to a gathering with a family who has had a recent loss:

  • Offer help. Maybe the family needs help with shopping, cleaning, decorating, etc. This can be a huge relief to them. It’s one less worry in an already tough time.
  • Ask how everyone is doing before attending the gathering. It may be a somber or joyous gathering, but you will not know unless you ask beforehand.
  • Respect the right for everyone to grieve. This is very important.

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Holiday Cheer or Holiday Stress?

There’s a lot of pressure to spend lots of money on presents, spend time with family that we may or may not get along with, get our kids everything they want and so on. How do we remain, or even get, cheerful about the holidays? How do we deal with the stress?

  • Tune out the noise. The holiday specials, songs, and movies can be a bit too much. If it becomes too much, turn it off. I can’t stand the radio stations that play nothing but Christmas music- starting before Thanksgiving.

Can we get through Thanksgiving first? It’s a bit much for me to hear this music for over a month, so I don’t even turn it on. I am stuck with it when Matthew and I are in the car together because he loves it- there’s a thing called compromise.

  • Set limits for presents. This can be a number of presents, price, or even both. We have four birthdays within 2 weeks after Christmas, so we really try to watch how much we spend. (Those birthdays are mine, Matthew, my father in law, and Cameron.) Plus, there’s the battle of making sure each kid has the same number of presents. Kids need to know that money doesn’t come easily and that they may not be able to always get what they want.
  • Toxic people need to be shown the door. Not everyone in your life is meant to be there, and that includes family. Your time is valuable- why spend it with people who don’t value you? Be realistic about what you can handle.
  • Be grateful. The main message behind the holidays is counting our blessings and being grateful for what we have. It may be a good idea to make a list of the things you are grateful for, no matter how small they are. This can be a bit of a lift, especially on the harder days.
  • Have fun in moderation. You will feel a lot better if you don’t overeat, drink too much or overdo other activities. Everyone has their limits- don’t go past them or you may disappoint yourself.
  • Take care of yourself. This can be a very hectic time of the year, and self- care can slide to the bottom of your to-do list.

Example: If you’re a perfectionist, it’s okay to let things go a bit. You can find the perfect gift for everyone, but if you’re so stressed out finding it, you’ve lost the fun part. It becomes a drag. Try loosening up a bit- don’t spend hours online looking. If you need to, take a break after an hour and come back to it the next day. Start shopping earlier to relieve some of the stress.

  • Say no. This is okay. It’s possible to become overburdened with parties, work, and other activities. Saying no lessens that burden. It’s important to remember your needs.
  • Nourish yourself- physically and emotionally. Don’t entirely skip the good foods, because there are plenty out there. Try a smaller portion. Treat yourself. Try taking a bit of “quiet time” each day to read, write, draw, anything that helps you rest your mind a bit. You will feel much less smothered by the demands of the season.

Do you have any tips for a stress-free holiday season?

All pics are from Unsplash

Information from Psychology Today