Let go of the rocks!

I’ve had a hard time letting go throughout my entire life. With people, with things, with memories, with actions or behaviors… it’s just hard for me to let go. I’ve always held on so tightly that it affects my own mental health, and if it’s holding on to a person, it doesn’t affect them. And that affects me too. I would get angry that I was hurting and they didn’t care. I would get angry that I check on people but nobody would check on me; honestly, sometimes I still do.

I’ve learned a lot in therapy over the years, and there’s not a session that goes by that I don’t learn something else new or that I am reminded of. But one thing that has stuck with me since I heard the metaphor from my therapist: some people are rocks. Yep, rocks. You can ask a rock to move and it won’t. You can cry in front of a rock and beg it to love you and accept you and it won’t. You can ask a rock to check in on you from time to time just to feel some validation and it won’t. You can yell at a rock and ask it to do anything for you to help you feel loved, and guess what? It won’t.

People, their behaviors, their attitudes, their lack of love, and situations can all be rocks. Friends, family members, romantic partners, bosses, whoever… they won’t show us that love that we fight for because they’re rocks. They won’t do it because they can’t. And they certainly won’t. So let’s help ourselves out and realize that rocks can’t change. Rocks can’t show love. Rocks can’t reach out to us and check on us from time to time. I can’t say why some people are like this because I’m not some superhuman behavioral scientist that understands all people, but I can tell you that when you’re own mental health starts getting affected, it’s time to let go. You’re… we’re… not going to get the love we desire from someone who is a rock.

It’s so difficult to remember and to realize when we have to let go, but we have to do it. You know that photo that depicts a hand holding tightly onto a rope, but the rope is cutting the skin and making the hand bleed? (I’ll post it below) It’s so accurate, isn’t it? Once we let go of the rope, our hands aren’t bleeding and sore anymore. Same with the rocks in our lives… when we let go, we won’t be hurting anymore. We won’t keep expecting results when the rock can’t and won’t produce those results for us.

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Once we let go, we won’t suffer anymore. We’ll learn to provide the love we want so desperately for ourselves or we’ll even find a person that can provide it.

Trust me, I know how hard it is to let go. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes and I’ve even lied to myself and said I let go when in reality I didn’t, and then when I wanted those people to love me (again), I got hurt… again. So yes, letting go is so so difficult, but it’s vital to our mental health.

One of the best decisions you’ll make in your life is letting go of something that will not change. Wish them the best (or don’t say anything, whatever is best for your situation), delete their number from your phone, and move on. Take it a day at a time, but watch how much better you’re going to feel once you do it.

Ali

Is This Our New Normal?

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Is this the new normal?

There’s no way to know that, but there is hope in knowing that this virus will die down. One thing that is important to remember: if we want to flatten the curve, we have to listen to the guidelines given to us. There are a lot of people out of work, so this causes a lot of anxiety for the future, but especially for the present. We are in a time when we do not know what tomorrow will be like; will it be better and the curve is flattened, or will it be bad with a lot more deaths?

These thoughts can definitely cause some anxiety. That’s normal. So if you’re experiencing some anxiety, stress, depression, etc., find some positive coping mechanisms to help you get through the days. For some, that might be tending to a garden and for others, it might be playing video games. There’s a lot of hobbies or things to do. Find something you have been wanting to try and do it and remember it’s okay if you’re not good at it in the beginning. Don’t let that stop you from trying. Do what it takes to keep your mental health as balanced as possible.

Some things I do are play video games, read books, watch movies/tv shows, go for walks with my dogs, write, go for rides with the dogs, sit outside and listen to music and/or natural nature sounds, and take pictures of blooming flowers. These are my regular hobbies, but especially while quarantined, they help keep my mind off of any negative thoughts that may be trying to develop.

Practicing meditation can be extremely beneficial as well. Meditation can be anything that puts your mind at ease: mindfulness meditation, prayer, even relaxing on your front porch.

It’s okay to admit that you might be experiencing anxiety. It makes you human. But making sure to distract yourself from those anxious thoughts, taking proper precautions to help flatten the curve, and even getting help from a professional are things you can do to help reduce those anxiety levels. Also, making sure to only share accurate information regarding the virus can help reduce anxiety levels.

The CDC has a lot of great information and list of resources to help you during this difficult time. Read it here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html

This way of living does not have to be our new normal. If we take those proper precautions to reducing the spread of this virus, we can get back to living our normal lives. Remember, we’re all in this together.

January 2020 Contributor: Dani Kennedy

Heavy burdens keep close company…

(lyrics by Kelsey Sprague)

To those of you who know me, some of these things might come as a surprise. But maybe it will all make sense…

To those who don’t know me, hi! I swear I’m okay. I’m working on things. That’s what’s so great about what Ali is doing here. We need to work together in order to break all of the stigmas of mental health.

Back in September (2019), I felt like I had finally hit my bottom (little did I know that that wasn’t my bottom at all). I decided to seek out therapy for the first time. See, about 3 years ago, I went to my primary care doctor for anxiety. Sure she helped, but she just put me on Zoloft and that was it. I went to see her monthly to make sure everything was fine. And for the most part it was. My anxiety levels were lower, I wasn’t letting the little things get to me, it was all looking good. I ended up moving across the country, and ended up going cold turkey (DON’T DO THIS) from Zoloft. I then let my anxiety get in the way from me going to a doctor again. It wasn’t until September that I learned that my anxiety and depression were just symptoms of something bigger.

When I found Timi (my awesome therapist), I told her straight out that I was afraid that if I said the wrong thing to her that she would hospitalize me. She reassured me that she had no intentions of doing so unless I became a threat to myself or others. We then started talking. If you’ve never gone to therapy and you wonder what it’s like, let me paint a picture for you.

Timi’s office is warm and cozy. I sit down on this cozy couch and we start talking. It’s like talking to a friend, but a friend who doesn’t know any of the people I’m talking about. A friend who notes tiny things I say and tells me what’s going on in my brain. I feel safe and I know that whatever I tell her she won’t run and tell someone else. She is a great sounding board.

Timi brought to my attention some things that I do, and diagnosed me with OCPD (Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder). What does that even mean? I asked her exactly that question. Was this something I would have to explain to people? Was this something I needed to take pills for? Would I ever be normal? She sent me to some articles, and it all clicked.

OCPD is one of the most manageable personality disorders (THANKFULLY). My symptoms that I suffer from are as follows:

  • Perfectionism – to the point of being a problem
  • An overwhelming need to be on time, causing me to get upset when others aren’t
  • An extreme attention to detail
  • Not being able to delegate, because I know that people won’t do the task right
  • A rigid adherence to rules and regulations
  • An overwhelming need for order

Because of these things, I have also developed some “ticks” for when I’m anxious, including picking at my skin to the point of sores on my arms and scalp, twisting and counting my fingers, and pinching myself to the point of sores.

As I sat there and listened to her list the symptoms, I just started crying. It was like I finally had a name for what was going on. And it wasn’t just me being uptight. What became even harder was when we started diving deeper into how I developed this personality disorder and how it affected by relationships with people close to me.

OCPD develops in late childhood, early adolescence stemming from a few different things. One of the major theories suggest that people with OCPD may be have been raised by parents who were unavailable and either overly controlling. Also as children, they were harshly punished for not being perfect. OCPD traits develop as a sort of coping mechanism to avoid punishment. This got me. This was all something that could have been avoided.

What prompted me to seek professional help was separating from my husband. We were together for 11 years, married 5, when we decided that we had just grown apart. We weren’t the same people we were when we were 17, shocking I know. But all of sudden my world was broken. My world was turned upside down. I went from owning a home to renting a room in a house with 6 other people. I didn’t know how to be me without him. I’m working on finding me. And learning that I had this underlying personality disorder that could have caused some rifts in my relationship tore me apart. I’ve thus learned that I can’t live in the what if’s: What if I knew about my OCPD? What if I would have learned how to better communicate earlier? What if this had never happened? What if I never developed OCPD? What if, what if, what if… I was driving myself crazy.

I’ve now been seeing Timi every week for 3 months. I have learned how to properly communicate is what is bothering me instead of getting angry or anxious. I still have my depressive episodes, but I’m learning ways to help with that. I have learned to throw a muzzle on that anger voice in my head that tells me how “not good enough” I am. I’ve done some major work on myself. Therapy is the best decision I’ve ever made, and I also got extremely lucky that my first therapist was a good fit. That’s usually not the case, and that’s okay. I still get anxious and I still internalize a lot of my anger, but I’m human and I make mistakes.

If you ever thought about going to therapy, but you were worried about what people would say, let me tell you what Timi told me. She said this on our very first session and it stuck with me. She said, “It takes a strong person to realize that they need help, and an even stronger person to want to do the work to make yourself better.” I had never, ever felt strong before. But each milestone I mark with Timi, I feel stronger and more empowered. I feel like I’m finally realizing who Dani really is. And that’s an awesome feeling.

Read Dani’s writing here: http://www.evrydaychanges.blogspot.com