You practice a fire drill when there is no fire. The goal is to know what to do in case of a fire. So it goes with mental health coping skills and crisis planning: practice when you are relatively calm so that you know what to do when you are panicked. We are panicked. We … Continue reading This is why we practice
We react differently to mistakes we make when we are alone versus when other people witness our errors.
We all have magic. The way to find yours is to spend time noticing. Avoidance of self and inner-experience is a barrier to being. Running to the next distraction. Running from the crying child inside your mind. This culture has all the augmented reality and not-you experiences needed to live a life that is devoid … Continue reading The only True You
Just concluded the most challenging week outside a hospital. We chose to show up. We were vulnerable in public. Still showed up. Scared. Shaking. Staving off tears with strangers in a closed room. Stayed there. We didn't want all that blood drawn and the pain from the shot. Still showed up and did it. We … Continue reading We showed up
We may not share disorders in common, and we may share feelings of low self-worth.
The time we spend together as a family--Spouse, Younger Child, Older Child, and Us--in nature is literally the only time we feel truly rich. No phones, no politics, no materialism. Just us and trees or prairies or mountains or snow--and animals, almost always birds.
[This blog may use we/us and I/me pronouns interchangeably] We used to write fiction for fun. We wrote a humorous novel. It took us, like, twelve years to finish it. Maybe longer. We worked diligently on it for the last five or six years. It was among our primary hobbies and consumed many a weekend. … Continue reading Your hobby or your life?
We are considering some sort of morning video or ritual to remind us the crucial rules, the ones people tell us are real, such as these 12 "rules"
I was getting annoyed that family member was starting to re-ask the same questions and was getting stuck in "analysis paralysis." I tried to look inside myselves to see how I could survive this
A somatic therapist with decades of experience encouraged me two years ago to replace "but" with "and" when I spoke to her, because so many things can be true at once. I was using "but" to refute, negate, and isolate myself. Once I started trying to replace "but" with "and," I noticed how reliant my … Continue reading No buts
I'm in a challenging spot. I'm low on energy and my therapist says I'm low on resources because I've pushed away the parts of me that know how to cope in new, healthy ways. So we're using old ways: OCD, anger and self-punishment. OCD sees the out-of-control world (our spouse is sick and we're stepping … Continue reading Back to basics
Every other Monday I set my phone to remind me of specific events in my life that I consider miracles. I'm not religious, and I'm very spiritual. Many of the miracles were signs delivered by nature, some by people, some by what could otherwise be considered unbelievable coincidence. Some saved my life. Some saved the … Continue reading Miracle Monday
You probably want to be free of suffering. I want to be free of suffering. Deep down, we're probably all compassionate beings.
Small changes can add up. For example, say you want to have more money (ideally to pay down debt, save for retirement, or go on a vacation). If you switched to a cash-back credit card, brought home lunch and beverage to work/school every day or every other day, and made a few other tweaks, the … Continue reading Go big or go home? Or make little changes?
I don't recognize anyone in my system who is quintessentially "me." I have a birth name, and no one inside my brain identifies as that person. Not as the birth me and not as a host for the other parts.
Shame doesn't have to be permanent. There is a "cure":
Though it won't stick, today's winter preview is beautiful to me. Heavy, wet snow clumping on everything. I think of the baby birds now on their own and seeing snow for the first time--and so early! This experience may make first-year animals more cautious with food caching. Survival imperatives kicking in. Something I am learning … Continue reading First Snow
One of the primary difficulties with incorporating new coping skills is that when you need them, you are in crisis, which often means you don't know that you need them or can't remember them! This is why it is important to practice coping skills when you're not in crisis. The barrier to practicing when you're … Continue reading Practice coping skills when you’re calm
I am practicing the noticing and naming of (1) my body sensations (throbs, tingles, rumbles, hot/cold, etc.) and (2) my feelings (anxious, excited, masterful, etc.). I am practicing naming them because somehow I missed this body of information (pun intended) when I was growing up. Until recently, I could name mostly feelings of fear, dread, … Continue reading Not everything needs fixing
Feel your power!
I just spent 20 days as a patient in a trauma hospital. Patients were from all walks of life. No one complained about material deprivations in their lives, no one wished for more stuff or money, and plenty of patients were financially bereft. I pointed out that winning the lottery wouldn't help anyone here have … Continue reading Experiencing Life
Collage on construction paper mounted on poster board
Last night, we dreamed of zombies. In it, our spouse was straying from our side amid a nighttime zombie attack. We couldn't keep spouse close to us, which increased panic. We saw a fallen body and instinctively moved toward it to help. Before we could get within 50 feet, the body was dragged away legs … Continue reading Turning stress into joy
When we were little and acted contrary to someone's expectations, we were usually chided with, "Don't ____." Don't hit. Don't swear. Don't drink grape juice in the living room. As adults, when we're trying to change a habit or practice, we often default to the same thinking: Don't judge. Don't yell. Don't eat that. We … Continue reading What are you doing? Why “Not pooping” is an insufficient response
As we aged, we transformed the rich experience of surviving the tornado into a static data point to prove our misfortune. Our therapist shows us how to add it back.
It’s all going to be right now
Practicing presence, after using dissociative states to survive for the past forty years, feels the same as if a doctor told us, "You've been living wrong all these years. Breathing air is harmful. You're supposed to be holding your breath forever, not breathing." That is how automatic dissociating has become.
Are you re-enacting the victim-perpetrator-rescuer triangle? If so, you are in good company (we do it). Here is why and how to stop.
Put these items on our "to do" list along with our tasks and we will be better organized, prioritized, and reminded to experience life in the now.
Nature is teeming with messages for us if we tune in.
Maybe if we honk our horns less and talk to our neighbors more, we will all feel better.
Which pursuit is worth our life’s energy? It’s not the one you think. Yes, this post will really reveal the meaning of life.
Our goals in this blog post are to encourage you to obtain disability insurance or supplement your existing coverage, to warn you of the pitfalls of the disability insurance system, and to convince ourselves and you that we are not our financial status or our diagnoses.
starting a new practice--to look for good in things or to approach situations with no expectations at all--takes conscious effort
We sometimes feel lazy when we are not being productive in some way. We self-critique that we could be doing more: more journaling, more cleaning, more problem-solving. We felt especially out of rhythm after a recent family getaway. We hadn't been journaling regularly or trying to solve any of our myriad problems. How could we … Continue reading Do This One Thing After a Vacation
Five non-medication, fast and easy interventions for traumatic flashbacks.
The past is remembering Now a prior Now. The future is a fantasy. Practice being Now.
We keep reading in self-help books that "feelings are natural" and "judgments are dangerous." Wait, what's the difference between a feeling and a judgment? Can you have one without the other? We had to have it explained to us repeatedly, and we think we understand! If our boss says in front of coworkers, "I received … Continue reading Are You Intensifying Unpleasant Feelings with “The Layer”?
Expectations are the enemy of presence. When we have expectations, we see only what we're looking for. In science, that's called confirmation bias. If a researcher is looking to see if kale helps zebras grow longer eyelashes, she might notice something that's not actually there. If we think the lady who lives in the apartment … Continue reading Engaging Our NOW Senses
We can’t have a week of success at a new task without one day of success. Here’s how to start...