Book Review: “Group: How One Therapist and a Group of Strangers Saved My Life”

Welcome back! This is a mental health related book.

*Trigger warning* Topics such as eating disorders, sexual issues and other upsetting topics may be discussed in this review and/or novel. Please read at your own discretion. Also, if you are dealing with any of the topics mentioned, please seek help if needed. You are not alone. – Wrae

Title: “Group: How One Therapist and A Group of Strangers Saved My Life”

Author: Christie Tate


Plot: Christie struggles with an eating disorder, among other mental health issues. She seeks help through a therapist she met in a 12-step group and the decision may have saved her life. This novel is her story of healing with strangers.

Christie becomes close friends with her groupmates, even while still struggling within. She learns how to release her well- hidden anger, eat healthily and how to have relationships with others.


What I liked: The story is relatable. I’ve been to solo therapy and it is literally where I have bared my soul. Therapy changed me and my life forever and I am a advocate for therapy, however you use it.


What I didn’t like: I couldn’t think of a single thing I didn’t like.

Quote: “Holding onto secrets is a way to hold onto shame that doesn’t belong to you”, page 32. I re-read that sentence about six times. You don’t have to hold onto shame forever, or even ten minutes. Holding onto secrets, especially harmful ones, can be another way of hurting yourself.

Who I recommend this novel for: anyone who wants a better understanding of how any kind of therapy is beneficial

What made this novel stand out:  the fact I emphasized with the main character. I struggle with intimacy

Rating: 9/10

Source: physical book

Link to buy: “Group”

Thanks for joining me for another review!

The Pandemic Life

This post is a bit of a catch-up post. I didn’t update on my personal life as much as I thought I had, after looking through old posts. Y’all ready? Might want to get comfy.

Everyone was encouraged during the pandemic to take care of themselves and not worry so much about being productive. We were actually encouraged to stay at home and do nothing! I thought this was fantastic…at first.

I live in Kentucky, which had some of the strictest mandates in the country. I am grateful that Andy Beshear (the governor) cared enough about his constituents to put those mandates and rules into effect. Some states weren’t that lucky- I am looking at Texas for an example. Mr. Beshear did his last COVID-19 update on the news Friday and it was like the end of an era- a good ending.

So what did I do during the quarantine and social distancing?

-Spent more time with Matthew and the kids. Uno is still a part of our routine.

-Stayed sober! If I can stay sober through a global pandemic, there isn’t much that will derail me. I’m not invincible but this was a test of my patience and mental health.

-Kept my mental health in check. I stayed on my meds and in therapy, even when it had to be virtual. My therapist was pregnant so we went virtual pretty early on.

-We stayed healthy. I might have had COVID before it was a thing, but I’ll never know for sure. I had a severe upper respiratory infection in February 2020. The entire preschool was sick. My mom and one of my sisters had COVID. They still struggle with their sense of taste and smell, which entirely baffles me.

My mom was sick around Thanksgiving and didn’t have us come over. She didn’t want my other sister or I to possibly catch COVID. My sister has lupus. I have RA- our immune systems are not great.

So far, I am fully vaccinated. Lily just got her second shot and Cameron gets his first one next week. Julian is skeptical and doesn’t want to get it. I’m okay with this- he is old enough to make that decision and I’m not going to push him.

-Cooking, baking and crafting. I never picked up on the bread making trend, but I did make a cake for the first time EVER. It turned out pretty good- it was a basic cake. I made snacks and meals I hadn’t made before and enjoyed the extra time to do so. I did some crafty things and found that I really like crafting. It helps relieve stress and it makes me happy.

-Podcasts. Lots of podcasts.

-Memes. The meme world got great during this time. There were so many Andy Beshear memes and even a few shirts. My favorites were the state delegations offering things in exchange for him… nope. Kentucky will keep him, thanks. Sometimes it’s either laugh or cry and laughing was the main option with these memes.

The Me Update

I work in a hospital so we’re gonna be wearing masks for a while.

Physically: Not bad. I didn’t get the flu, pneumonia and/or COVID, so I guess I got lucky. I have had flares, which is usual for RA. I have been having pain issues with my right hip and left thumb (weird) and will discuss that with my rheumatologist at my appointment this coming week.

Mentally: I’m currently not thrilled with one of my meds, which will also be taken care of this coming week. Zyprexa has caused me to gain weight and nope. Not cool. Besides that, I have done pretty well. I’m not a fan of people so staying at home wasn’t horrible but it wasn’t easy either. Sometimes you just really need to get out of the house.

What’s next for the blog? I’m not sure. I toyed with the idea of a podcast, but I really don’t have time to truly dedicate myself to it, so that isn’t going to happen. I am, however, working on a story on Wattpad. I will release more information about the story when I’ve worked on it more.

That’s it! It’s been a weird year and I am so glad to see that the world is returning to “normal”.

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https://www.patreon.com/ShortstackBlogs

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More Than A Label: LGBT+ Mental Health

Everyone is made differently- looks, personality, likes, dislikes and even sexuality.

Some of us are attracted to men and women, some are attracted to those of the same sex. Some don’t have romantic attraction towards anyone. There are even people that are attracted to men, women, non-binary people and others.

This is okay. We can’t help who we fall in love with.

I haven’t written a lot about sexuality, but it’s Pride Month. It’s somewhat out of my scope but I’m willing to discuss it.

I previously wrote a post about this topic –Talking About Pride

However, being a part of the LGBTQ+ community can lead to some issues that aren’t always given a lot of attention.

This is My Scope of Knowledge

Mental health issues are common in today’s world, and being seen as “different” can add to an existing condition or even lead to symptoms of a new diagnosis.

Anxiety

Those that identify as non-heterosexual are three times more likely to suffer from anxiety than others – this is the same for adults and teens. This can be a result of issues in home life, school/career and other areas of life. Anxiety is hard enough to handle without questioning your sexuality. Anxiety, of course can lead to other issues, as in depression, drug use and even suicidal ideations.

Coming out to friends and family can be a cause of stress alone. A person might be fully ready to live their life but the idea of telling those they are close to can be difficult. This isn’t to say coming out makes these issues disappear, but it helps.

Depression

Depression is very common in the community. Having to keep your sexuality a secret can be devasting, and so can having to pretend to be someone else. It eats away at your soul and can lead to some very dark thoughts. Not being able to share the person you love is also painful.

Sometimes people become depressed or it worsens after coming out. This can be a result of a negative response to the announcement. There are still many people who don’t agree with the “lifestyle” and can be very judgemental towards people who aren’t heterosexual, even if it is their own child. These thoughts of not being loved/accepted can spiral into actions that endanger lives- substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, etc.

For the record, I do not care if my kids are gay, bisexual, or anything else on the spectrum. As long as they find someone who they are happy with and they’re treated well, then I am good.

For some reason, those who identify as bisexual are diagnosed with depression more than those who identify as a different sexuality. One in four bisexual people in a study have been diagnosed with depression at some point. Other sexualities have lower rates. Some of this has to do with support, or lack thereof, especially at school and/or at home.

This is why it’s so importatnt to support the LGBT+ people in your life, no matter how old they are. It’s hard to reach out for the help you need when you feel as if a therapist will judge you or even not see you because of your sexuality.

Teens go through a lot of changes as it is, and figuring this out can be difficult. Teens struggle more if their school is not a supportive place for them, because they may feel they have nowhere to turn.

Bullying is already a topic that many are familiar with. This can be excruciating for teens that identify as LGBTQ+. It just adds to the feelings of not being good enough, or shame at being “different”. It also makes a teen feel unsafe in a place that they should feel safe. Having to defend yourself 5 days a week can be physically and emotionally draining.

The Importance of Community

I can’t stress this enough- if you are reading this and you need LGBTQ+ support, in any way, please reach out. There will be resources at the end of this post.

It’s not healthy to feel like or even try to go through life alone. Everyone needs someone they can tell about really good or even really bad dates. People need to belong. It’s a basic need.

The feeling you get when you are around others that understand you is wonderful. It’s nice to know you are not the only one.

Resources:

LGBTQ Information on Addiction and Suicide

HRC

LGBTQ Youth Hopkins Medicine

MHA

LGBT Community Mental Health

Pictures courtesy of Unsplash

Protect Your Peace

The world we live in is full of anything but peace. It’s important to take a break and evaluate where you stand with protecting your peace. This is beneficial in that you are able to see the good things and realize what you could do without.

I try to find quiet and peace (they go together, if you ask me) whenever I can. Sometimes it’s just sitting in my room alone and coloring. I’m also able to find peace and quiet at the cemeteries where my grandparents (they’re buried next to each other) and Jake are buried. It’s quiet and I can think clearly.

I also find peace at yoga classes. I did yoga at home over the last year but since a local studio opened up, I’ve gone back to classes. Again, it’s quiet and I can think without a million distractions. It’s the one hour a week in which everyone knows not to bother me. I will admit that I don’t go to the cemeteries as much as I used to but I still find peace there. In a way, it’s comforting.

There’s another way of protecting your peace that I find important- not allowing others to ruin your life. If I catch bad vibes from a person or situation, I’ve learned to stay away from it. I can read people well and if I catch bad vibes more than once or twice, I’m done. I try to keep the serious negativity away from me as much as I can. It’s mentally draining to have so much negativity in my life. I surround myself with supportive people. It certainly helps my depression and anxiety.

How Can You Protect Your Peace?

There are some steps you can take to gather and protect yourself.

Take stock of your life and who is in it. Do you have people in your life that are constantly negative, unsupportive, etc? It might be time to drop them, if at all possible. If you can’t drop them (and only you can decide that) then limit any interactions you need to have with them. Sometimes it takes a hard look at each relationship you have with others (close ones). As for the not-so-close relationships, do they serve a good purpose? This step might be hard and not fun, but once it’s done, you may feel like a weight has been lifted.

It’s okay to have bad days, or even a bad week (everyone has had those), but constantly negative people just aren’t This isn’t to say that you should let people out of your life that may need a boost from you, but don’t let people drag you down. That’s one way you can lose your peace.

For example, my dad has the nickname “Eeyore” because he is persistently negative. This isn’t the reason that I stopped talking to him but I don’t miss the negativity that he has around him.

What do I mean by negativity?

-always seeing the worst in things or people

-being rude all the time

-trying to drag you down with them

It’s definitely worth a chat with someone in your life that is in this spot, because that might be what they need. They might not realize they are being so negative. Let them know you do care and want to see them live happily. You can even give them resources for any extra help they might need. If you get the opposite result, it may be time to take a break. This is okay. Even if it’s a family member. Family can be the worst people for you.

It’s time for a vibe check! Do you get positive feelings from being around someone the majority of the time? Sometimes we aren’t at our best and we can’t expect everyone around us to be a walking ray of sunshine at all times. It can be hard to read people and find their intentions with you. Trust your gut and do a vibe check. If someone only contacts you when they need something (money, favors, etc) then they might not have a positive spot in your life. People change over time and the vibes will change accordingly. It might be hard to end a long time friendship because one party isn’t as supportive as they did in the past, for example.

Find out what your peace looks like. It’s not just a place or class. How do you get that good, content feeling with the people in your life?

Figuring this out may be difficult. It may require lots of thought that you haven’t done in a while, but you’ll thank yourself later. Find what peace looks like for you and protect it!

Picture courtesy of pexels

Another Big D-Word

I’m still in therapy and working on myself. It’s hard sometimes but it’s necessary and worth it.

There’s one issue that I thought I had faced and deal with pretty well, but maybe not.

It’s a well known fact that I have rheumatoid arthritis. You can read these posts if you need a refresher:

Facts on Facts About RA

Lessons from My Joints

Going into the Big Leagues

I know that the RA will progress and that isn’t pretty. I’ve seen how bad it can get- my grandfather struggled to do simple tasks in his later years. I plan to live my best life until I can’t. Matthew and I have even talked about moving into a smaller one floor home once the kids move out.

However, I haven’t fully accepted RA as a disability. I’ll tell people I have it but I’m quick to deny that I have a disability- it is classified as one. This is a rough one.

Invisible chronic illnesses are difficult to deal with physically but just as hard, if not harder, emotionally. When people can’t see that someone has a disability, they tend to not understand the issue. For example, my mother has a limp and uses a walker. Does that stop her? No.

People have asked me if I have considered going on disability so that I can stay home and still contribute to the household. No. I can still work part-time, which is what I’m currently doing. I’m almost certain that my rheumatologist would sign off on the paperwork, but I’m not ready to take that step.

There’s a stigma attached to all of this. People think those of us with chronic illnesses make it up- my current manager actually thought I was making up being immunocompromised. Or ifs not as bad as we say it is.

I’ve used the electric chairs in stores and get weird looks. I don’t really care. Luckily, the important people in my life understand bad pain days and flares. I do what I can when I can.

As I’m writing this, I’m awake at 6 am because my pain woke me up. I’m in a flare and am debating steroids. I know my physical limits but sometimes flares creep up on me and I don’t realize what’s going on until it’s too late.

I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. I don’t want my kids to worry about or feel like they have to take care of me. Matthew, luckily, helps and understands what I’m dealing with. It’s frustrating as hell to have a chronic illness. It also gives me a different view on my life.

I know I will accept at some point that I have a disability but today is definitely not that day.