Going to Therapy: Setting and Smashing Your Goals

Therapy is rough work. Some sessions are great, some will leave you in tears.

Everyone goes to therapy for different reasons- for anxiety, depression, substance abuse (in some cases, this court-ordered), grief, and other issues.

I began therapy in 2015 for three out of four of those reasons- the substance abuse part came in later.

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Not As Much Fun To Pick Up The Pieces

That’s part of a Nine Inch Nails lyric from “The Perfect Drug”, one of the best songs from the 1990s. Therapy helped me pick up the pieces of my life- I found Rachel thanks to PsychologyToday. My life had just fallen apart in front of me- Jake died, I quit a job I loved, cut a lot of people off, I had no idea on what to do with my marriage and I was a complete wreck.

Let’s just say my first goal was to manage the grief. I started therapy in October 2015. The tears flowed so much that I wasn’t able to wear any makeup for two months after Jake died. I ate my feelings and started gaining weight, and the alcohol didn’t help.

One of the first things I did was make a list of all the things that I lost when he died. This was heartbreaking, but it helped me come up with ways to make something good out of something so awful. This led to creating this blog, volunteering for the AFSP and other great things.

My other big goal was to figure out what the hell to do with my marriage, or what was left of it. I was supposed to meet with my divorce attorney on September 9, the day before our 10th wedding anniversary (the irony) to sign the papers to file divorce paperwork.

I never made it to this appointment- Jake died September 1 and I didn’t have the emotional strength. I’m almost certain I spent that day crying in bed. This was a tough decision because our marriage was in a terrible spot. Matthew and I were barely speaking, and when we did, all we did was fight. I wanted out. The divorce had nothing to do with Jake, and I made sure he knew that. Our marriage was basically screwed before he ever came into my life.

So where was I supposed to go from there?

Rachel encouraged me to think.

A lot.

I emailed my attorney, who was very understanding about the change in my situation.

Over many sessions, lots of tissues and candy later, I decided to give my marriage a shot. I had changed a lot over the last couple of years, and I figured Matthew deserved a chance at who I had become. As he once said, Jake “fixed what I broke.” I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I emailed my attorney again and told her that I wouldn’t need her anymore.

I began working on myself- the third main goal. This was work on self- esteem and self-worth. I’d already learned what I would and wouldn’t take, thanks to both Matthew and Jake. This time, I was working on watching for patterns of repeat behavior that I knew I didn’t deserve, feeling better about myself, among other things.

I finished therapy in May 2018. I knew it was time- I have processed Jake’s death as well as I can. None of us know what exactly made him decide to take his life, but I have been able to find some peace with it. This was not easy. I still have days where I feel crappy about myself, but I think everyone does. I’m able to lift myself out of it. I’m sober- Rachel was thrilled when I stopped drinking. My marriage isn’t and probably never will be perfect, but it’s okay. I think I still like Matthew, and honestly, I’m lucky he still speaks to me.

I told my story about therapy for a reason- to explain why having goals is so important.

Tell Me What You Don’t Like About Yourself

If you’ve ever seen the show “Nip/Tuck”, this is what the very handsome plastic surgeons asked their patients when they met them.

In a way, therapy is a time in which you can work on the things you may not like so much about yourself and may want to change.

If you don’t have goals when you get to therapy, your therapist will help you set them according to your needs. Be ready to do the work- it may not be fun. You might even be asked to do “homework”, small assignments outside of your sessions. For example, I was asked to open up to people more, to talk to my friends and Matthew more to help me trust others more.

I developed trust issues after Jake’s death- the people who I thought were my friends were the first people to show me they really weren’t. After that, I stopped speaking to a lot of people and now, I just don’t welcome a lot of new people into my life.

I don’t want to risk that again. I have a hard time telling those closest to me when I’m struggling because I figure they have heard enough of my problems over the last three years, so I tend to not say much.

This is still a work in progress.

These goals will help guide you and your therapist in sessions, help track progress, and most of all, help you see that you are moving forward. Your therapist can help you think of ways to get through your issues and develop coping skills- this is where I was given the idea of adult coloring books for anxiety. It does help and I have at least 10 coloring books and two sets of coloring pencils. It’s soothing and helps take my mind off whatever is bothering me.

Some issues take longer than others to get through and this is okay- smash your goals on your own time. It took almost a year for me to get through a session, talk about Jake and not cry my eyes out. It doesn’t matter how many goals you have- everyone’s needs are different. Don’t compare your journey to someone else’s.

You’ve Got This

I liked to treat myself when meeting a goal or just after a rough session. Sometimes I would go home, color and listen to a podcast as a way to decompress or reward myself. If I had met a small milestone, like when Matthew and I completed an assignment that Rachel had asked us to, we would go out to dinner. It’s the small things that keep us going. She was very helpful in getting us through some of the worst times in our marriage.

The goals can be big or small- but they are yours.

Have you been to therapy and would like to share your story?

Pics courtesy of Unsplash

Happy Birthday, Shortstack Blogs!

One year ago, I created a blog. I had no idea if I would stick with it, or just write a few posts and let it fade. I love to write and I’ve always wanted to do something big with it so here I am.

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Zoo day with Julian and Lily

Progress Report #2

I haven’t made a penny from this blog. I haven’t gone self-hosted. Why? I’m focused mainly on getting views and loyal readers. I’d rather have that right now. I’d like to know people are reading my work than make money and not have people care.

I write about heavy topics. I know my writing voice is not for everyone and I’m totally okay with that. I’m not for everyone. I do think about my audience when I’m writing. I do appreciate the comments. It hasn’t been easy to build my audience- like most writers, I struggle with confidence. I almost trashed a few posts but put them up anyway. Weirdly enough, those have been some of my best-read posts.

My stats are going up- one month, I hit almost 1200 views. I’m at over 500 likes on Facebook and almost 900 on Instagram. This is growth. I’ve slowed on my guest posting due to the kids being on summer break. The memes I post are no joke- it’s been an interesting summer. I do plan to get back to outside projects once they go back to school- the cats are much quieter. They are great writing mascots.

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Miss Purr.. sleeping as usual

My posts have gotten longer and more in depth. This is thanks to research, growth in my writing skills and lots of thought. I try to give lots of info without being boring. I’ve been working on my graphics to make those more eye-catching- people like that.

I do have goals- I set new ones every three months. They include posting to mom blog sites once a month, working on a secret project, a course with Savannah from Millennial Mrs. and Mom, along with other things.

I didn’t realize how far my talents go until I started being approached by other bloggers to collaborate on projects. Wow. Me?

My Blog Is a Toddler

I have a one year old blog. It can’t walk or talk but I’m sure WordPress can throw tantrums. I started this blog as a way of helping others- mental health and suicide prevention and awareness. The parenting part… obviously I have a lot to say there, because this is not easy.

I wish so much I didn’t feel the need to write about suicide. There is a heaviness, a hole in my heart that will never be fixed. I write about it so that others know they are not alone. Grief is a horrible thing- losing someone to suicide is something that is difficult to put into words.

I write so that hopefully others think again- I lost a few that didn’t. I write so that people have information to pass along to others if they need it. If one person thinks again, or my mental health related posts help in any way, then I have fulfilled my purpose. I think Jake would be proud of me- he always encouraged me to do what makes me happy.

September 1 is coming quickly and there will be a very special post on September 4.

There’s more to come this year. Thanks so much for reading my blog. I appreciate it more than you realize.

Life Lessons

The words I will never forget #lifelessonsfromjake

Guest Post with Angela Part 2

I have a different Angela this week. This one discusses money worries, something that all families face at some point. Thanks, Angela!
Are money worries making you sick?
Anxiety about money worries can literally make us sick. If you’ve ever been in this position, or are currently experiencing this, you will know how this anxiety can affect every single area of your life. The stress escalates daily and if it’s not addressed, depression can even be a result. We need to earn more money NOW to pay the bills, pay towards mounting debts, buy food for the family and take care of things in general. When there isn’t enough we can feel like we are drowning – and it can be one of the most distressing times of your life.
Being in this situation we may turn to quick fixes and things that are usually too good to be true. Have you ever seen the adverts with statements like: “Make $1,000 by next week, join me now!” or “Sign up here to attend the free webinar and learn how to make $30,000 a month while you sleep!”. Or what about, “This blogger makes $85,000 per month and so can you!”.

Really?

I don’t think so.

At least not without A LOT of hard work, dedication, late nights, early mornings, learning and laser-focus.


Quick fixes and schemes that sound too good to be true, are usually just that: schemes. And I’ve learned the hard way that 99.9% of the time, anything that sounds too good to be true, is. This doesn’t only refer to earning money, but everything in life, including relationships.

I hope I’m not sounding bitter or like I’m a complete pessimist! It’s not the intention of this post. The intention is rather to provide some help and a little light at the end of the tunnel… Things will get better with perseverance. We all go through rough patches and we get through with support.

Living with anxiety day in and day out can be a really uncomfortable feeling – it’s wise to learn how to deal with and manage it. Here are some tips that have worked for me. I truly hope you will find some that you feel able to do and that will help you to manage anxiety before it takes over more areas of your life.
Face your fears head on
It’s not easy to manage anxiety when you can’t see how you’re going to pay your mortgage this month. It’s REAL. But working out exactly what needs to be paid, exactly what is coming in and getting a clear picture of exactly how much you are short can mean that you know exactly how much extra you need. It also means that any part-time job or other work you take on doesn’t have to feel as though you’re just working and never seeing any difference to your bottom line.

Create a realistic budget and stick to it

Once you’ve faced your fears and have worked out exactly what has to go out vs what is coming in, (and you know where you stand), you can set a budget and stick to it. I have a detailed post on my site about how to set a realistic budget that you can actually stick to, please feel free to check it out.

Financial Footsteps

Just cut back where you can

Every little bit really does help. All those sayings exist for a good reason.

Walk

This could seem so simplified when you don’t know how you’re going to get through the month, but putting on some trainers and going for a walk can be really good for you. Push your child in the pram, the fresh air will be excellent for both of you and getting your body moving increases blood circulation and increases endorphins (the feel-good hormones). As anxiety can often make chronic pain worse for sufferers, getting your body moving (if your doctor confirms that is okay), can make a difference to your daily life. I’m a chronic pain sufferer and walking always does make me feel a bit better when things are tough. You just have to push yourself out the door. Getting some quiet time for yourself and calming the mind while walking can be invaluable.

There are legitimate options to increase your income

From freelancing online to getting a part-time gig at a nearby store, there are simple ways to add to your bottom line if you’re unable to get a full-time job or if you already have a full-time job but it’s not allowing you to make ends meet. It could mean hard work and long hours but your situation can only improve.

Try not to use bad habits as coping mechanisms

It’s easy to turn to our bad habits and vices when we are stressed and experiencing increased anxiety, but none of these bad habits are going to make you feel better about yourself – and they are definitely not going to help in the long run (besides the cost of some of them!). Try as hard as you can to switch one bad habit for one good habit. For example, if you’re a smoker, you might smoke more when anxiety takes over. Stopping this crutch during a time of increased anxiety could be an unwise move, so instead, you could switch to an e-cigarette or vape stick for 50% of the time, thereby cutting back on the harmful effects of smoking, especially when experiencing maximum levels of anxiety.

Get help

If you have tried helpful tips and can honestly say that you’ve tried everything, or even if you haven’t tried everything but you feel like you’re just not coping, don’t be embarrassed or scared to get help. There are a number of debt charities that have been set up for people experiencing overwhelming debt issues. They are there to point you in the direction for getting help with your debt. I was grateful to have found a debt counsellor when I was in mounting debt and they worked with me and my creditors to agree to new payment terms. This way my creditors would still get what was owed to them, but just over a longer period of time. It took the pressure off me and the anxiety relief was immense.

Anxiety over money problems can very often lead to feelings of depression too. Please remember if you feel like your anxiety around money worries is out-of-control or heading that way, and you think you may be depressed, go see your doctor – it’s important!

I hope this post has been of some help. If you have any questions, I’d be happy to try and help where possible to point you in the direction of people and organizations that can help. Please reach out on my contact page

Financial Footsteps

Please feel free to follow me on Pinterest… I have a lot of helpful boards for debt reduction, money saving tips, starting a profitable side hustle, affirmations, universal laws, debt and anxiety help and many more Pinterest

Progress Report

Updates are good, right?
That’s what I’m discussing today.

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The numbers I am giving you are as of the week of March 5, 2018.
Facebook followers- 388
Instagram followers- 690
If you are following me on either or both, thank you so very much! I am delighted at all the support and work daily to make sure you’re reading the best content that I can create. If you aren’t, you can click on these links to see my pages:
Facebook
Instagram
Subscribers- 124
That’s an awesome number, I’m happy with every subscriber I get. Thanks so much for reading my blog, everyone.

Learning and More Writing
Blogging has been a learning experience and a half. I’ve been able to write out some deep stuff and deal with it somewhat healthily. I’m still not the best at meditation, as I say I’m a fan of constantly, but it is becoming more of a habit. Part of the mission of my blog is to spread awareness of mental health issues, suicide prevention and awareness, and so far, I think the mission has been filled. I have gotten some wonderful comments on my posts, and I really appreciate that. I didn’t think my writing could help so many, but apparently, it does.
I hope so much that Jake would be proud of me. I have my posts scheduled out until June as of today, and you will see some April and May posts dedicated to Jake’s memory. He would have been 38 on May 15, which falls on a Tuesday. Stay tuned, because that’s gonna be an awesome post.

Meeting New People
Along the way, I’ve met some great bloggers. As I said when I posted it, I really did have a fangirl moment when Brynn responded to my email about collaborating. I screeched and all that! She is a great writer and very sweet in general. I love her writing. Guest Post with Brynn

One of my earlier guest bloggers is Sara, who is weeks from having her second baby, another girl (yay!) Her blog post is Guest Post with Sara and her IG is a lot of fun to see. Her toddler is so adorable and I can’t wait to see pics of her new baby, but I will miss her pregnancy sarcasm. It’s been funny to read.

Bonnie and I worked together early on and she recommended the book I’m reading for this month’s book review- she’s a great mom and she homeschools. I could not do this in my next three lifetimes. I don’t have the patience for all that. Guest Post with Bonnie

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Goals? What are those?
A woman’s gotta have goals, right? I’ve been working on building up my social media following (see above) and so far, Twitter isn’t a thing. I have two accounts, but the one I actually use is completely uncensored. I haven’t decided yet if I want to use the other for blogging purposes.

Pinterest is a big priority. I have boards for official posts and other posts I want to share with my readers, ideas and branding. I’m still pretty new at it, but it’s not as horribly hard as I thought it would be. I still have until the end of the month to really hit my number goals, and I’m within 15 on each, so I think it’ll work out.

Another goal I’ve had was to get more posts out there in the big world- at least three. DID THAT. I got published on Sober Mommies, Vocal and Medium. I’m working through a list of others, and this goal is a continuing type of thing. These posts are available on my Featured Posts page.

I’m not quite sure I hit the goal on Facebook and Instagram Live videos. I was going for every week, and just…no. Didn’t hit that one. It’s on my list for the next three months.

The Next Three Months
I will definitely be working on getting more consistent on live videos. I love doing them- it’s just a matter of getting them done. I’m planning on more articles for outside sites, creating an email list, and more freebies.

I have a list of freebies to create, but haven’t been working on them like I’d hoped for.
Thanks for reading, there’s a lot more to come! Come by, read, share and have a bit of fun.

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Every Mom’s Battle 

Every mom has to make many decisions- one of the biggest being whether to work or stay home. This is debated in many groups, on many blogs and between friends and family members. In the end, it’s up to the parents involved.

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The Current Situation

I’m at home. I believe I’ve made my BA work very hard for me and I’ve made all the money I took out in loans to get it and then some. If you haven’t seen my “About Me” page, spoiler alert: my BA is in Clinical Psychology. Matthew works full time, and this arrangement works. We’ve worked on our budget a bit and until I find another job, we’re good. Not everyone is this lucky, so I’m glad I’m able to stay at home while working on my blog.
For the most part, working wasn’t really an option. I had to work. The kids were smaller and preschool is wildly expensive. Luckily, Matthew’s mother watched the kids and when she wasn’t able to any longer, my mom stepped in. We never had to worry about daycare. Many parents I know do. As the kids have gotten older, of course, their needs have grown with them.

I’ve had a couple of rough years- emotionally and physically. I quit a job I loved unexpectedly after Jake’s death. I did have my 403b from that job to help out while I got myself back together. I didn’t work for a couple months- I wasn’t fit to. I could barely get out of bed.

In the same time, I’ve also had issues that led to a partial thyroidectomy last year. NOT FUN. The recovery took a while. I’ve also struggled to manage these migraines.

I haven’t been able to find anything that I loved nearly as much as the job I left in 2015, but I’m hoping to soon.

That’s my story. What’s yours?

No Shaming Here

It’s a hard decision and shouldn’t be shamed. If a woman, or, hell, anyone, wants to stay at home, let them be. I thought I’d bored being at home, but thanks to a messy house and this blog, that’s not a problem. I didn’t give up working forever- I’m taking a break. My brain works quite well on a daily basis. I’m also working on taking care of my physical health.

Everyone’s situation is different- respect that and move on. It might not be for you. That’s okay. I didn’t think staying at home was for me. No need to bash someone over their life choices. It’s hard being the mom that misses field trips, class parties and all the other fun stuff at school. Give the working moms you know a bit of slack. They need it more than you think.

Feel free to comment. I want to know your thoughts!