Monthly Archives: April 2012

I need you, and you need me. A post about community.

I didn’t have time to write on Friday because I was going away for a couple of days.  However, I looked to The Gypsy Mama for inspiration because she does this wonderful exercise every Friday called Five Minute Friday.  She gives us a one-word prompt, we write for 5 minutes with out editing, backtracking, or straining our brains too hard.  Her word last week was “community”.  I thought that this was an appropriate word for my theme here, particularly because community is such an essential part of overcoming anything.

Forgive me while I write for longer than 5 minutes, edit, backtrack, and strain my brain on your behalf.

People don’t live in a vacuum.  You were born to two parents (whether you lived with them or not), numerous relatives, people lived in your neighborhood, went to your schools, played in your backyard, and so on.  You were born to be around people.  You were born to a community.

Communities can be good, bad, indifferent, caring, insufferable, long-suffering, unexciting, thrilling, dangerous, safe, in any mix of characteristics.  Generally, community has some unifying characteristic that other people tend to use to describe that community.  Communities can be any size or shape.  Communities are the people with whom you spend the majority of your time.

When you are born and under your parents care, you don’t have any choices in the kind of community in which you live.  When you get older, you get to choose.   Sometimes we choose the opposite of what we lived with as a child, sometimes the same.  The right kind of community can help you flourish, too much of the wrong kind of community can stunt your emotional growth until you become a dry-husk of a person.

For myself, community has been one the most important aspects of overcoming all the crap I needed to overcome.  People around me sometimes brought things up to my line sight were I could recognize them for what they were.  Other people listened to me.  Some counseled me.  Thoughtfully chosen people prayed for me. Some told me hard truths, while other’s helped  me pick up the pieces and let me cry on their shoulders.  These people helped to shape my character into what it is today.

I  need community.

And so do you.

Think about who you spend your time with.  Are these people helpful?  Are they honest with you?  Are they nice to  you?  Do you feel good about yourself fairly regularly around your community?  Will they be there for you when  you fall down?  Think about it.  If you cannot answer yes to these questions, then perhaps it’s time to make a change.  Perhaps it’s time to seek out a more loving, nurturing, fellowship of people.

Changing from what you know to something new is difficult.  But, no one ever said that change was easy.  It’s hard.  It can feel lonely at first.  It can be scary.  It can be frustrating.  It can be…any number of things.  But, these things don’t have to be reasons not to try.  They are only temporary obstacles to go around, over, or through.

You NEED people around you to be supportive.  You NEED people to be honest with you.  You NEED help sometimes.  You NEED good community.

Go ahead, look for it.  Don’t be shy.

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Tell me about your community…

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This brain runs on squirrel power, and other tales of ADHD.

My Brain.

My Brain.

Aw, darn! I forgot the nuts! Again!

What happened when I got to the “social gathering”:

Yup.  My brain runs on squirrel power.  Tiny little rodents are all skittering around in there trying remember to find the nuts.

Or, maybe I’m nuts.

Or, whatever.

Anyway, this is  my brain on ADHD.  Here’s a few other things I have to deal with:

  • Constantly being distracted by people entering/leaving a room
  • Having to ask people to repeat themselves multiple times
  • Forgetting appointments
  • Forgetting to call people
  • Forgetting to do stuff
  • Forgetting in general
  • Cleaning in circles and in multiple rooms at once
  • Reading the same page over and over and just not getting it
  • Taking twice as long to write a paper (or a blog for that matter) than anyone else.
  • Wandering thoughts
  • I put things away in a safe place, and then completely forget where the safe place is.
  • Showing up too early or too late for something
  • Not showing up at all
  • Being really, really bad at math (Maybe that’s not ADHD)
  • Can’t count past 10 without forgetting where I was and  having to start all over again…multiple times

I think you get the picture.

Anybody in their right mind would go nuts.  So what’s a poor girl to do?  I’m not medicated so I have to find ways to overcome these difficulties.  I have to find ways to cope so that I don’t look a total moron or a ditz.  And forget about trying to explain this other people or help them understand.  I have gotten over the first step of admitting there is a problem.  So, I’m okay there.  It took awhile, a lot of trial and error but I found ways around some of the problems that ADHD give me.  Here are some of the things I do:

  • Make lists.  Sometimes I make lists of lists.  Writing it down gets it out of my head.
  • I watch movies and TV shows on my computer when I’m writing.  Documentaries are especially helpful.  Instrumental music works for when I’m reading.
  • I put appointments in my iPhone as soon as they are made with at least 2 alerts.
  • I make schedules with cross off lists.
  • I use sticky notes.  Lots of sticky notes.
  • I just let myself clean in circles.  It works for me.
  • I keep reminding myself that I need to pay attention when it’s crucial to my task.
  • I give  myself small “brain breaks” for about 5 minutes every 20 minus.  I play a game or look at Facebook, or some other small thing.
  • I do certain things the same exact way every time whether needs it or not, such as locking the car door.

The point is, these strategies work for me.  They (read: mostly) get the job done.  I’m still  not perfect at this, but I function fairly well if I stick to my guidelines and boundaries.  

The point is, if you want to overcome something like ADHD, you got to first admit that there is a problem.  You also need to do research to understand the problem’s in and outs.  Then you got to find what works for you.  There is always a way around, under, through, or over a problem.

If I can do it, you can do it too…

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So tell me, are squirrelly in the brain?

And now…a little bit about me

Everything is a process.  I am still in the process of overcoming a multitude of sins on my part and my parents part.  It is really difficult to say out loud things that might hurt other people.  So, I sit here and struggle with how much to say, and how much to reveal about myself this early in the game.  Sometimes, I even doubt myself, my story.

And then…

…well, I look back at all of the work that God has accomplished in me.  I look back at who I used to be and who I am now.  I see the differences in my personality, my thought patterns, and my way of relating to others.  And I ask myself, how can my story NOT be real?  How can I NOT share the things that MIGHT hurt other people?

I need to share for your benefit, and for mine.

I was born in 1970 to two hurting people.  My mother gave birth to me carrying her own issues.  Some of those issue were passed on.  Some of which she continued to act out for the rest of her life which ended in an accidental overdose in her early 50s.  My father I know less about, he is more of an enigma.  My parents divorced when I was about 6.  My mother remarried when I was about 9.  I really liked my stepfather, and I’m pretty sure he liked me.  I grew up confused and full of self-doubt.  My mother did a pretty good job of contributing to these two elements.  By the time I graduated from high school I really had no clue who I was, what I wanted from life, or anything else for that matter.  I sunk into my first deep depression with a touch of dissociation.  I spent the whole summer after graduating depressed, and conflicted.

I eventually got a job and met my first husband through a mutual friend.  My mother and I got into an argument, she tried to hit  me, so I left home suddenly at age 19 and moved in with my boyfriend.  Unbeknownst to  me, I was pregnant with my first son at the time.  Not long after this sudden change in my universe, I started to experience flashbacks.  I would get “stuck” in a frame of mind that was both completely foreign and completely familiar.  I had no clue what was going on.

Fortunately, I started into counseling right away.  I have been at it for 22 years.   With the help of God, and other people, I have changed.  I have been through many different kinds of counseling, individual psychotherapy, group counseling, inner  healing, deliverances, to name a few.  As a matter of fact,  I just finished yet another turn at counseling with a wonderful person.

My life has been an uphill battle.  I have struggled with Dissociative Identity Disorder (a total of 7 personalities of which are now fully integrated), sugar addiction, self-doubt, low self-esteem, flashbacks, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks, anxiety attacks, clinical depression,  ADHD, and few other things.

I have been on Prozac, Wellbutrin, Cymbalta, Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, and a couple of other medications I can’t remember over the years.  All helpful and useful tools for helping me with my struggle to overcome.

Right now I am not on any meds and am not in counseling.  I feel pretty good,  most of the time.  I still struggle madly with anxiety and depression at times, but God and therapy gets me through.

I am almost done my Bachelor’s program in psychology and will be moving into a Master’s program for counseling at a local university.  The goal is to professionally help others the way I have been helped.  I now know that I was born with a gift of counseling and teaching.  I must be what I was meant to be.

Annnnnd, I think I will stop here for now.  I will reveal more information about myself as time goes on, especially as they pertain to what I am talking about.

Thanks for reading!

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Tell me your thoughts…

Emotional couch potatoes don’t get much done.

Did you know that?  Did  you know you are the master of your psyche, your internal universe, not it’s slave?  Is that a brand-new thought for you?  Well, that’s okay.  Go on and read awhile and let the sun rise on this brand new seed I am planting in your garden of thoughts.

I thought I would address what I mean by “be an overcomer”.  First, let’s define “to overcome“.  According to the New American Oxford Dictionary the definition is:

overcome |ˌōvərˈkəm|verb ( past -came; past part. -come) [ trans. ]succeed in dealing with (a problem or difficulty) : she worked hard to overcome her paralyzing shyness.

  • defeat (an opponent); prevail : without firing a shot they overcame the guards | [ intrans. ] we shall overcome.
  •  (usu. be overcome) (of an emotion) overpower or overwhelm : she was obviously overcome withexcitement.

ORIGIN Old English ofercuman (see over- , come ).

The New Testament Greek word for overcome is Nikao, which means:

  • to conquer
  • to carry off the victory, come off victorious
  • of Christ, victorious over all His foe
  • of Christians, that hold fast their faith even unto death against the power of their foes, and temptations and persecutions
  • when one is arraigned or goes to law, to win the case, maintain one’s cause

“Overcomer” is not an actual word.  But, if you go with it, it means to be a person that overcomes.  A conqueror, a warrior, a fighter, a mountain climber.  I think  you get the point.

Yesterday, I talked about the idea that you can change something in your emotions and your way of thinking if you want to.  Overcoming, or conquering, something requires a couple of key elements.  First,  you have to recognize that there is a problem to start with.  Second, you have to WANT to overcome that problem.  These two things go hand in hand.  These two elements are linked inextricably together. If  you recognize the problem, but don’t want to change, you, well, won’t change.  If  you want to change, but don’t recognize the problem you might as well be climbing up a mountain blindfolded.

Another crucial part of this process is to recognize that you have to be an active participant in overcoming.  There is no such thing as passively overcoming a  problem.  You can’t “wait it out”.  All the wishes in the world won’t make a problem “magically” disappear.  Warriors don’t win wars by sitting on their couches and complaining about their enemy.  Or by fooling themselves into believing there is no enemy.  They see their enemy, they envision the battle and their role in the battle.  They get to know their enemy’s ways.  They train.  They prepare.  They get out there and fight back.  That requires belief in the idea that you are an active participant in your psyche.  You are the master, not the slave.

You have to fight to win.

Let me repeat that, YOU HAVE TO FIGHT TO WIN!

Say this out loud to yourself, “I have to fight to win!”

Say it again, only louder.

And again.

And again.

Is it starting to sink in?

Good.

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So tell me, are you ready to pick up your sword?

Of washing machines and a better tomorrow

Look familiar?

I don’t think it is any coincidence that I found this quote in my Facebook feed today: “Problems are like washing machines, they twist us, spin us, and knock us around, but in the end, we come out cleaner, brighter, and better than before” (Author Unknown).

If we are really (and I mean brutally, fist-in-your-face) honest with ourselves, this is a very true statement.

And now, I will say something bold:  Problems just are, whether we like it or not.  Stuff happens.  Life sucks. Often, circumstances suck.  Sometimes, people suck )(I admittedly suck sometimes).  And more importantly, we have a choice (Wait, did you know that?).  We can respond well to these problems, or not.  We can overcome the problem, or not.  It’s. All. Up. To. You.  It’s up to you how to respond.  It’s up to you to make a change in how you deal with the things that come your way.  You are not forever doomed to be a victim of your circumstances, your childhood, your bad relationship, your anger problem, or your “whatever”.  That’s right darlin’, you CAN change.  Yes, you heard me right.

You may ask me, “How do YOU know?”.  And I would respond with, “Cuz  I been there done that.”  I am changed-from-the-inside-out person.  I used to be shy, I’m not anymore.  I used to have multiple personalities, now I don’t.  I used to lack confidence, now I am a fairly confident person.  I used to totally suck at relationships, now I suck less (hey, nobody’s perfect).  I  used to respond to everything with anger and fear, now I take the time to really try to think through the reality of the situation, check my resources, and respond as appropriately as I can.  I used to be bossy know-it-all, well I…ahem…I guess I still am that way.  (If my sister reads this, she can verify what kind of person I used to be, and what kind of person I am today.  Right sis?  *clears throat* RIGHT, sis? Come on, be nice!)

This blog is about the process in between getting in the washing machine and coming out cleaner and brighter and better than you were before.  You, and I (and the kid down the street whose mom MAKES him wash his own clothes.  The nerve!) both know that when you put clothes in the washing machine it takes time for the clothes to come out clean.  First you have to put in the soap, then you have to choose the right settings (you know, “Normal”, “Perm Press”, “Hot/Cold” “Cold/Cold”, and etc.), start the water, and wait for the machine to agitate, spin, rinse, and spin again.  Like I said, it’s a process.  Changing behavior and thinking patterns is a process, you start with Step A, then move to Step B…I think you get the picture.

More than anything, I want you to succeed in life.  I want you to be who you are meant to be (Haven’t got a clue?  Contact this guy, he’ll help you figure it out).  But, you have to be willing to see some things differently, you have to be willing to knock down the walls of your little self-imposed prison.  You have to be willing to work at it.  And, it ain’t gonna be easy.  But, if getting knocked about a bit means you will be cleaner and brighter and better able to handle life’s problems, then the pain of the process is worth it, right?  Right?  I’m sorry, I can’t hear you.  RIGHT?!

I thought so.

Okay, so let’s get started:  Choose one thing you want to work on…I’ll give you a minute to think about.

Go ahead, it’s okay.

Just one thing, however small it may be.  It’s worth changing for a better tomorrow.

So, tell me, what would you like to change, starting today?

Looking forward to the journey with you,

Stephanie