Stuck

I am a forward thinker. I am always looking for the next adventure, be it a sports event, family outing, vacation, or how to improve my practice, home or relationships. I need to be moving forward. I have been stuck before. It is the feeling of nothingness, blah, lethargy, ho-hum-itude that is slightly uncomfortable, like sitting in the same place for too long. Yeah, stuck. There are lots of ways to get stuck, in your job, relationship, financial situation, etc. I will be talking about your life. Well, I guess that actually includes everything else.

stuck-in-a-rut

A lot of people are what I call “survivors.” Survivors are people who merely tolerate life. They have whatever job they can get (if they have a job), put minimal effort into their surroundings, relationships or self. They are just wasting time until it’s over. There is little meaning in life. If you are reading this, you are not one of those people or would like to not be one of those people. You are looking to make a difference! How does that happen? How have I not been on vacation for 5 years, eaten at the same restaurants, same meals, same activities, same, same… You might be bored.

Getting unstuck

Getting unstuck can be tricky. You are in a rut in life, one you created. So, examine the situation. How is my life? Do I like my job, my relationships, my home, my friends, my hobbies? Literally list it all out. What is good and bad and just okay. What might make things better? Is there something I can do today, or plan, to make some changes? Do I need to shake up the routine, reorganize, plan some different activities, make new friends?

One of the most important questions you might ask would be “Am I in control of my life?” Many people take whatever life throws at them, letting it control them instead of them controlling it. Are you making choices that are yours or do you just roll with the punches? I  have an excellent example. A man who never finished high school. He took several construction and manual labor jobs and finally ended up with a home repair gig. He married the first girl he got pregnant, because she was pregnant. He went to work, came home, watched the kid, went to bed. He was miserable. Though, he pretty much has never been much else. He changes and makes decisions when it is forced upon him, like a pregnancy, job loss, etc. He never made a proactive decision. He is not in control.  He has no idea what might make him happy, because it just hasn’t happened yet. This is as stuck as you can get.

You might need some help figuring out how to get unstuck. I see a lot of people in my office complaining of feeling nothing. They think they might be depressed because they don’t sleep well, have little energy, are uninterested in doing things, have no motivation and generally unhappy. It might not be depression, you might just be stuck. Find someone to help you out. I have noticed a lot of self help books on the subject too.

Change of seasons can change your mood

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People are effected in all kinds of ways with the change of the seasons. Today is blustery, windy, cool, dark with the promise of rain, lots of rain. It’s fall. That means there will be less sunlight in the day, more cold weather, more darkness. I don’t mind the fall. I love Halloween, the change of colors, the cooler temperatures.

Some people dread the fall. It means the beginning of a season of depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), now called Depressive Disorder with seasonal pattern in the DSM 5, is the onset of depression at the beginning of a specific season, like fall or winter, which disappears at the onset of a specific season, like spring or summer. Yes, it could happen the other way around, though rare. If you start to feel more sad, irritable, sleepy or anxious and your desire to do your usual activities wanes in the shorter days. You might have SAD.

Like “regular” depression, the brain chemicals that regulate mood, serotonin, epinephrine and norepinephrine, seem to dip during the shorter days. The theory is the decrease in sunlight impacts circadiam rhythms, causing sleepiness, disruptions in sleep and drop in serotonin. Therefore, theoretically, using a UV light should help! Light therapy has been demonstrated to work well for people with seasonal patterns of depression. I have seen it work with clients who used it properly. Getting an at home UV light can be tricky. Not all light therapy boxes are created equal. Be sure to get one with full spectrum UV/UB lights. One that won’t burn you like the sun, but will give you the advantages of the light.

Depending on the severity of one’s depression, light therapy and being active socially and physically, can make all the difference. Some others may need medication to alleviate the seasonal sadness. Some people just head south and spend the winter in warmer climates.

Here is some information from NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) on SAD.

http://nami.org/Content/ContentGroups/Helpline1/Seasonal_Affective_Disorder_(SAD).htm

Trauma and your afterlife

I read a beautiful, troubling excerpt from a fiction book about what trauma does to a person. I thought “Only someone who has been traumatized would understand this.”

We call them survivors, but once the [bad guys] get you, the person you were dies, like any traumatized part of you never leaves that room, that car, that moment, and you walk forward a ghost of your former self. You rebuild yourself over the years, but the person you were isn’t the person you become. The great bad thing happens, and you become a ghost in your own life, and then you become flesh and blood and remake your life, but the ghosts of what happened don’t go away completely. They wait for you in low moments and then they wail at you, shaking their chains in your face and trying to strangle you with them.   
~Laurell K.Hamilton, Affliction

 

The trauma after effects, of any degree, can impact you at any time, with any reminder 635960697083632130-1100041933_fearof the moment, people, places, smells, times of day. Those “shaking of chains” are those sneaky fears, troubles, anxiety, depression, panic. Those inexplicable moments of irrational thought. Trauma can impact your sleep, your appetite, your belief about yourself, relationships and your life. It can hit you big or small. Do not under estimate the impact of trauma. Like the excerpt stated, you can rebuild your life and yourself, but those ghosts hang about.

Self Talk. It’s what you make it

Self talk is a common phrase in psychotherapy.

self-talkIt is about attitude, affirmations, self confidence and esteem. How you talk to yourself,about yourself, situations, life and future, directly corresponds to how your life feels, shapes, and becomes. If you are a negative talker, with a negative outlook, either about yourself, your situation or other people. That is how your life will be. It turns out exactly how you think it will.

This idea is related to several posts I have already done, Affirmations and Thinking Patterns. It is a pattern with how one conducts their life. I can spend a lot of time with a client working on self talk. It will be what continues on when therapy is over.

One of my favorite parables is about an old man sitting on his porch. A couple pulls up in a car.  “We are thinking about purchasing a house in this town. How are the people here?” The man says “Well, how were they where you lived before?”   He suggests that how they believe people to be, in general, they will be. Your own attitude toward people is how you create relationships.

How do you talk to yourself? Pay attention to what you say, out loud and in your head throughout the day. I find this easy since I have a small children. They pretty much repeat what I say and parroters of my own attitude. My kids have a great sense of humor about things, can laugh at themselves and will try until they get it right. They focus on things they do well and support others. They do not get discouraged easy.

Many people are hard on themselves. “I can’t do that.” “It’s too hard.”  “I will never get it” (job, relationship, home, money). One I heard recently was “BUT, it has never happened before, so why should it happen now.” This followed all the positives of “I deserve it. I am worth it. I worked hard for this.” BUT negates all those strong positives. It just crosses it out.

Keep the self talk positive. If you hear the negative creep up on you, especially in the form of a but, turn it around. That big but can be followed up with “That doesn’t mean it won’t in the future!”  Your future is what you make it.

Fake it ’till you Make it

This post goes right along with my Affirmations post. Affirmations are about creating a road map to where and who you want to be. Start where ever you are and figure out where you want to go. Then you can act that part until it sticks. That may sound easy. It’s not really.

A trainer at my gym talks non-stop about how we create who we are, we have to believe in ourselves to make it work, our minds make our bodies…. He is trying to affirm that we have control of who we are, what we look like, how we act, think, LIVE! It’s true and frustrating. It is easier if it’s everyone else’s fault, or in our genes. Then we don’t have to change. We can just wallow.

His challenge this week was to continue to repeat to yourself, over and over (affirm), that “I am beautiful. I am strong. I am capable.” Even if you don’t believe it. Just keep saying it until you do. I call this

Fake it ’till you Make it

Sometimes, when you really want something to be true, you have to make it so. That means hard work, determination, and a positive mind set. The positive mind set is the push behind it all. If you don’t believe it will happen, it really won’t. Sometimes, you just have to fake like you really believe it, until you really, really do. You have to repeat it over and over and over until it sticks. Much like how you learned everything else in your life, it was repeated to you until it became a part of you.

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?  What do you want to see?

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Try this

Write what ever pops into you head, without hesitation. Don’t think, just write. Keep going until you hesitate:

I AM _____________

Yikes, what happened? Did you know you thought all those things about yourself? How many are positive and how many are negative?

Now, write down what you want people to believe about you. What you want to believe about yourself. Be as specific as possible. You can think about this one.

How can you remind yourself to be that person, the future you, every day? I recommend the affirmation. Kick out the old and in with the new.

Lies and Liars

I am reading a phenomenal book, The Sociopath Next Door, by Martha Stout (everyone should read this).

Cover of "The Sociopath Next Door"

She was talking about the 13 signs of sociopathy, which everyone should know. Sociopaths take advantage of people in any way possible because they have no conscience. They appear to have empathy and emotions like everyone else, but they don’t. People are players in their world. They only care about themselves. Really, truly, they only care about themselves.

#3 on the list was about lying. You can apply to this rule anyone, not just sociopaths. Lies hurt people. Lies hurt, betray, hide secrets, and steal love and trust. They are no good! Liars only use lies to get out of trouble (for the most part). The after math is irrelevant.

3. When considering a new relationship of any kind, practice the Rule of Threes regarding the claims and promises a person makes, and the responsibility he or she has. Make the Rule of Threes your personal policy.      One lie, one broken promise, or a single neglected responsibility may be a misunderstanding instead. Two may involve a serious mistake. But THREE lies says your dealing with a liar, and deceit is the linchpin of conscienceless behavior. Cut your loses and get out as soon as you can. Leaving, though it may be hard, will be easier now than later, and less costly.    Do not give your money, your work, your secrets or your affection to a three-timer. Your valuable gifts will be wasted. (Stout, 2005)

Leave the Liars to their lies. Nearly all of you have had some experience with a liar on some level, friend, spouse, coworker, neighbor, even family member. I don’t think that all liars are sociopaths, but they are liars. The lying won’t stop because you ask or you are special or they get caught, arrested, humiliated, anything. They will just keep lying. Save yourself the heartache (over and over) and just leave….

Mental Health awareness

May is National Mental Health Awareness month.

May mental health

Mental Illness is grossly misunderstood. Many people go by what they have heard on television or seen in movies, or by a neighbor’s grandparent, uncle or distant cousin. You might be amazed at how many people you know who have struggled with a mental illness. One in 4 (25%) people in the United States deal with a mental illness every year.(NAMI.org)

A mental illness is not just “crazy” people. Some crazy people don’t have a mental illness, just extreme beliefs. One of the most popular first films about mental illness is “One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest.”  I also saw one from 1948 called “The Snake Pit” where a house wife was hospitalized due to a mental break down. Which today we might just call “Monday.” 😉

The reality of mental illness is a long way’s from the media. I had a client fear telling people she had bipolar disorder because recently a grandmother had killed her grandchildren and the news announced that she had bipolar. She feared that people would think she was dangerous. Even clients I have worked with who have been diagnosed with a disorder for years, do not really understand it. It’s part of my job to help them understand the disorder, how it works and impacts them, and what they can do to manage it effectively.

Education is the key to control and compassion.

Mental Illness is any diagnosable disorder in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual). These include depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress, ADHD, autism, schizophrenia and many more. Some need medication, some don’t. ALL of them run on a scale from mild to severe.

If you don’t understand, have never had experience with, or encounter someone with a mental illness, don’t trust your judgement on this. Research it and get informed. We get incorrect, skewed, and misrepresented information from too many places. Also, don’t assume that every person who has PTSD will be just like your nephew after he returned from the war. Everyone’s experience with mental illness is unique.

Here are some sites to get information on some common mental illnesses:

http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=By_Illness

http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/default.htm

http://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/

http://health.howstuffworks.com/mental-health

http://www.typesof-mentalillness.com/

You can also contact your local NAMI chapter for community resources and information.