Emotional existentialism, ego, deep thinking..brain, heart and spirit don’t think alike and yet they feel one another. My name is Kim Johnson and I do declare this a lengthy Vlogcast.

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Read Along:

“Vlog 5, in the last Vlog Vlog 4, I had spoke about my personal experience as a human experiencing being human, um, when I realized there are five things I could be doing in any given situation, you know story aside, personal experiences aside, personal beliefs aside, personal convictions aside, 5 options: I could stay in the situation hope for it to change, I could change something about the situation, I could I could leave the situation I could accept the situation or I could change how I perceive the situation and for the longest time one of the one of the most challenging situations, always, for me are relationships with any person, it doesn’t necessarily, it’s not even restricted to romantic, a romantic kind of a relationship, um, it’s been a journey with my, um, I’m going to speak of my relationship with my parents, for example.

I didn’t know until I knew… that I can actually still care what my parents think, particularly with my mom. My relationship with her has improved ever since I started doing this, which is understanding that, even though I care what she thinks of me, even though I would love to have that external validation from her for everything I do in my business, in my life, in my job, in my in my social life as well as personal life, getting that external validation would feel amazing, don’t get me wrong but really, when I stopped trying to get it, I still cared what she thought about me. I still care to this moment, to this very moment I care what she thinks about what I do. I’ve learned from myself when it comes to my situation in question which is in my, in my relationship with my mom, I realized the one– what I wanted to do was to maintain the relationship and spend time with her still.

So leaving the situation is not what, what resonates with me. Um, sitting there and just hoping things to improve definitely was not the option for me either so that’s two down so three more. Um, I could accept the way the situation was mmm I wasn’t really happy with that either. Basically tension and arguing and debating and all of that trying to point fingers and this and that didn’t resonate with me either so there were two options left… I think change the situation which I tried many, many, many times…doesn’t change the relationship dynamic for me anyway.

So the last thing left was to change how I perceived the situation. It was a huge game-changer for me. I’m like, I enjoy my time with her. Yes we still have our differences but I change the way I I look at the relationship, I change the way I perceive.. you know I am even aware, I’ve become aware of the perceptions I have and I go, “Wow… that’s interesting that I thought that, that I felt this way and I got triggered here and just understanding that it’s not her it’s not me it’s just this is how this is what’s happening so kind of looking above the situation and I found that when I replicate that with everything, I can break my own rulebooks every single moment of every single day.

I always tell the Kindred Spirits in my life, Kindred Souls that I don’t expect anything from you. I don’t expect you to accommodate me. I don’t expect you to stop what you’re doing. I don’t expect you to scratch my back just because I was there–you don’t owe me anything there’s no binding to me, there’s no expectation that I have, the only expectation I’ve ever had on anyone, and that’s something that I determined for myself, is for people to do what they want to do. Anyway, I digress.

The main thing I wanted to share about my experience over the past… I mean through my twenties pretty much. For those of you that are just hopping on this Vlog train of my personal experience as being a human, my human experience, experiencing being human, feeling the feels. Um, I’m 30 years old. All through my twenties is really when I came to the self-realization and self awareness of just how strong my ego was in my life and essentially what that means is victimizing myself, I’m getting angry at people, I’m blaming the world, I’m feeling very strongly about how my beliefs, and my truths and really foisting that upon other people to achieve my agenda and it was a lot of, “I, me, I, me,” um, and then rationalizing.

I was explaining in a couple podcasts blogcast, vlogcasts ago, that, um, I was addicted to negativity. I’m recovering from being an addict, addict of negativity, actually and then level 4, I’m I’m referencing this tool that I use for my coaching business — it’s called the Energy Leadership Index Assessment— and basically levels 1 through 4: victim, anger, rationalizing and, um, compassion. So, there’s a lot of burnout that I was experiencing and a lot of that came from I care what people think, I don’t want to offend anyone, I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes, I don’t want to make someone feel uncomfortable, I don’t want… it was all about minimizing myself and when I didn’t get the validation and permission from outside of myself to be who I was trying really hard to be, even then I didn’t know what I was, I knew what I wasn’t. I knew what I was because I knew what I wasn’t and even though I wanted to, to improve my experience as a person, the more I, I actually found the more I stood and tried to fill space and take up space and go, “Enough is not enough for me anymore.”

I don’t want to play it small anymore, I don’t want to… I don’t want to be angry anymore, I don’t want to foist my feelings, and opinions and truth and beliefs on other people and I don’t want to keep criticizing others, I don’t want to keep casting judgement on others, I don’t want to keep jumping to conclusions of how people are, just to boost my ego and I did that in my relationship with my mom!

And it only recently came to my realization, came to my awareness that I was doing that, I was doing that but then you know, leaning into that like why is her validation so important to me because I care, I care what she thinks about me and I mean for me I’ve come to the conclusion that of course I care what people think about me but I’m not going to let, I’m not going to shrink and minimize myself and and just keep catering to everyone and everything to make sure everyone’s safe, everyone’s comfortable, everyone’s got what they need and then now I can take my step.

Like, that’s just not how I want to exist…of course it’s a situational thing I’m not saying that just, WHOA,  just keep stepping and not paying any mind but the thing is and what I shared in a previous Vlogcast is that just because you do something, say something, act a certain way and someone gets hurt, someone feels left out and I’m specifically talking about those of you, just like me — Kim 1.0 or even Kim 2.0 I consider myself Kim 3.0 right now, um, you keep copping out, I copped out all the time I’ll be like, “Oh you know, I can, you know I did this to someone oh I … something so I can’t I’m not supposed to, people said I’m not smart enough. the little voice in your head, the little voice in my head, I don’t know about you, I can’t speak for you, but for myself a little voice in my head kept telling me, “You are not enough to improve your experience, you are not smart enough, you have no business doing this, who do you think you are? You are hurting other people this, that, this, that.”

Pain is inevitable, hurting someone’s feelings is inevitable. We are not psychic, we can try to be empathetic, we can try to pick up, we can try to pick up and be sensitive to these things but I have been there for almost all of my entire life putting everyone before myself and when I look at it in a different way and I changed my relationship with my love, “Am I really loving or am I doing this to make myself feel better? It’s really a sense of accomplishment, that sense of purpose, that feeling you get from doing something, is what we chase. It’s the feeling, it’s not the actual deed. It’s the feeling.

So, what if, this is something that I, I gradually started shifting my mindset with and attitude when I realized that I was just sabotaging myself, pushing people away, lashing out and when I was fooling myself and brainwashing myself into believing and I was improving a situation when really I was just on this hamster wheel of self-destruction. Getting in my own way, shrinking, staying small, playing it safe, let me tell you, a lot of stuff came up when I was building my business, a lot of stuff that I thought I had progressed past, really, I was just hiding.

I had this conversation with a big brother from another mother last night about hiding in success. The moment we think we finally work some, through something, something else will come up that’s potentially even more challenging than the last feat. Having control of a situation is an illusion. Figuring yourself out is an illusion. We’re not even this, I’m not even the same person I was 15 seconds ago. It’s, it’s, I’m not, I just am. I just am.

I mean I have my moments where I catch myself and I go, “Wow, what brought me to do that? Is it some insecurity? Was it me seeking validation outside of myself? Is it making me feel good? Am I doing this to make myself feel good? So, really paying attention to, raising my awareness to how I’m showing up and that’s usually the energy I attract. I came to that realization probably just before I started working for Amazon and that was about a year-and-a-half ago. I was so angry and no matter what I did at Amazon: threw a fit, shut down, lashed out at people, push people away, was really, really, really rude…it didn’t matter. The only person really suffering the most was myself.

Goes back to the theme of the last question in the last vlogcast of, you know, you’re fooling yourself, we fool ourselves into thinking that things will improve eventually. It’s not going to improve if you don’t change what your approaches or your method. You’re just going to, it’s just gonna stay, um,  until we can relinquish ownership of feelings, relinquish ownership of memories, relinquish ownership of everything, that’s when we start to take things less personal, we start to and I, honestly, when catch myself, um, you know the ‘I, me’ debacle when I catch myself doing that, I truly pause and I go okay look my human side, it’s ego, it’s not even me it’s just ego. That’s it, just ego. There’s nothing wrong with that either and really loving unto that, that aspect of a human experience, taking things personal. Um, it helps to gain clarity about what is it that I that I feel uncomfortable with?

What is it that I’m doing? Self-sabotaging. What is between me and enjoying someone’s company, what is in between me and doing something new? What is in between me and not making another vlogcast? Is it about me? Who is it about? Is it about the ego? My ego? Is it about boosting a reputation? Is it about getting views? Is it about, is it about, is it about… it’s all self-reflection. It’s all asking empowering questions. it’s all being receptive to different perspectives being open to different points of view, being cognizant that we don’t own… anything. maybe that sounds a little woosaww. But it took almost a decade of coming to realize my self-sabotage, to check myself and, and like I leveled with myself. I leveled with myself and I’m like, Kim …Kim. Do you really, really want to stay feeling this way? I’m like, of course not but I don’t know what else to do! If you don’t know and you catch yourself doing one of these four things: victimizing yourself. So, if you’re resisting these four things resisting [admitting to]: avoiding, ignoring, suppressing, denying…you’re self-sabotaging and you’re also brain washing yourself into being married to your ego. So you’re really not self-aware– you’re stuck..

Victimizing yourself: so being at the cause of everything, no responsibility, deflecting responsibility, blaming other people for how you feel, blaming other people for your how you are, experiencing being angry all the time, how you are feeling righteously right all the time and just getting stuff done, like really imposing your will on other people in in a retaliatory, combative, self-defensive way.

Rationalizing, if you catch yourself rationalizing all the time you pretty much are going to be the world’s doormat. That’s how that works and then when you’re level 4, you put everyone else before yourself. I think, I mean honestly staying in those four levels of ego, really still, really, really strong ego, it’s toxic — for self and potentially for other people.

So, the energy you put off is the energy, you get back, um, in any given moment and it’s a matter of do you want to choose the kind of energy you attract or just float around and be confused and stuff. For me I was tired and then I thought, “There’s got to be something more than pushing product all day long, taking orders from other people all day long and being around a bunch of people that hate their job, hate their lives and are just working themselves to death. So, I decided to take a calculated risk and and go where I felt I needed to be and that was meandering into [the] personal development realm and it was, it was and still is the most awakening, healing…experience and getting to re-experience what I went through for 10 years and even more and looking at that in a detached way and going in hindsight, “Wow, I was doing that or the ego was so strong and just looking at it from that point of view it makes complete sense why I felt and acted and behaved and was so lost for so long because I had convinced, I, I felt convinced that everything was okay… it was not okay, not for me.

Question: what area of your life have you settled into and bothers you a lot? I’m talking like you know how people say they have a pebble in their shoe? I’m talking about a couple pebbles in your shoe. So is there an area in your life, What area in your life are you settling right now… and it doesn’t feel good? The amount of, I mean what are the disadvantages and advantages to continuing. That Insanity? Just, just a question? What do you feel are the advantages and disadvantages to that one area in your life that doesn’t feel good to continue in that pattern? Just a question.

I want to plug a book. I don’t get royalties from this by the way. It’s a fellow colleague of mine, uh, her name is Shelby Forsythia. She has a podcast, um, let me mirror this so you can see it. Okay, so she has this book Permission to Grieve and she also has a free podcast called ‘Coming back: conversations on life after loss.’ And I’ll put the link below [here]. It, It, so the little tidbit on the front says, “Creating Grace, space and room to breathe in the aftermath of loss.” And loss can be anything not necessarily losing a loved one but loss of any kind. Graduating the reason why I share this book is because I think some of us need permission, a lot of us need permission outside of ourselves, to be the fullest and most true expression of who we are.

We care a lot about what other people think and trying to get permission and validation and affirmation, reassurance from outside ourselves can be a hindrance because we’re so consumed with what other people think and we’re scared and that is okay, completely normal. I guess what I want to do right now is to give you permission to grieve if you’re ready to grieve the loss of who you used to be. It’s only there as a way to say you want to improve the situation in your life. If you feel like there’s nothing to be improved, then I am, I’m happy for you, you are good. This, this vlogcast has nothing to do with you. This is for people that genuinely feel not good about continuing this cycle in a certain part of their life.

So, I’m giving you permission for those of you that are ready for that and if it’s you know that the advantages far outweigh the advantages of staying in that situation then what are you going to do, who do you know, who can you talk to that can that can get you out of that insanity? Um, My name is Kim Johnson, I’m a Mental Health Skills Lifestyle coach at Grounds For Clarity, LLC. You can find me at grounds for clarity.com

Thank you for tuning in wherever you are have… make, make your morning, your afternoon your evening the way you want it to be.”

Regards,
Kim Johnson
Thought Founder of Grounds For Clarity, LLC

Feeling stuck, alone, down and without a purpose in life? Would you like help with that?

Groundsforclarity@gmail.com

Learn to Love Yourself in the Alone Time

I have spent the last several months going to work and going home. Not much socializing. Sometimes once a month I would go out if invited to something. I was trying to save money. And I was trying to work on myself. I went to counseling and did other activities to pull myself out of depression. I don’t have insurance so that was the best I could do. I remember feeling alone often. I looked for ways to stay busy and distract myself from how I felt. I wished I could afford to go out and spend time with even one person.

As I was getting to a better place with my finances, the pandemic happened. Everything shut down. I lost a lot of work. Other than concerns for my income, my daily routine didn’t change much. I couldn’t read a book at a coffee shop, but I could live without that. I had grown more comfortable with myself and didn’t mind the alone time. I still feel alone but it doesn’t bother me as much. I’ve grown to a place where I enjoy cooking again. I read more. I write fiction more. My creative ideas are never ending.

During the pandemic, there were videos of celebrities feeling upset during social distancing. This reminded me of how I felt. I realized there wasn’t anything wrong with me or how I felt. We were all reacting in a normal way to isolation. I hope people are discovering new things about themselves. If you’re bored during isolation, you need new hobbies. If you’re alone and uncomfortable, you need to love yourself and enjoy your own company. We all should set time aside to be alone. It’s important to our wellbeing. Find your happiness in the alone time.

James Pack is a self-published author of poetry and fiction.  Information about his publishing credits can be found on his personal blog TheJamesPack.com.  He resides in Tucson, AZ.

The Best of Me

“You gave me the best of me, so you’ll give you the best of you,” are the lyrics to “Magic Shop” by Korean pop group BTS. I have been listening to this song over and over because I keep thinking about these words.

Sure, it’s not the most eloquent phrasing but I think that they are on to something here.

For ages we have all been told to give everything our best whether it’s academics, athletics, music, art, relationships, etc. That if we give anything our best effort we have a higher likelihood of succeeding.

During the many times I have sat and contemplated these lyrics, I understand it as we so often give the best of ourselves to others but have a harder time giving the best for ourselves.

I try to give my best to my family, boyfriend, pets and friends but when it comes to giving my best for me, that’s a different story. I know that eating well, exercising and having human interaction is good for me but I don’t always put in the effort. If I had a paradigm shift, I would try harder to do the things that are good for me so I could be at my very best.

If I gave my best for myself, what would my life look like? This is a question I have been focusing on, digging deep into it to find a possible answer.

I still don’t have an answer but during these weird times of social distancing and staying home basically all the damn time, I have time to really think about it. I also have the time to focus on giving myself the very best of me.

What do you think of these lyrics? Do you have a similar interpretation or not? Do you think you give yourself the best of you?

Please everyone be smart and safe!

Houseplants and Mental Health

I have a black thumb. For those unfamiliar with the term, it means I kill plants. You’d think, by now, that I’d see the ferns and cacti leaning away from me at the store -but, no. I see a cute pot or arrangement and think, I can grow a plant! Into my cart the poor once-green thing goes, soon to meet its demise like so many before it.

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Isn’t it cute?

My house is full of plants. This is odd, considering my admitting to how often I kill them. People come to my house, look around, and say, “Wow; you must have a green thumb!”

Hiding my black thumbs behind my back I answer, “Why, thank you;” because, as I said, I am not good at raising plants.

At this point, you may be wondering two things:

  1. Why do you have plants if you are bad at caring for them?
  2. Why the heck are we talking about plants? Isn’t this a mental health blog?

The answer is that living with mental illness is an awful lot like maintaining houseplants. Houseplants need a good start so their roots can drain while their soil retains water without drowning them. They need sunlight and regular watering. They even need calming sounds. When I skip or skimp on these things, they suffer.

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Likewise, counseling or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (or great genes) helps us deal with challenges and triggers in life. Sunlight gives us Vitamin D and cheers us up. We need water so we don’t die. Calmer songs and sounds help with agitation, depression, panic attacks, and stress. When I skip or skimp on these things, I suffer.

I often tell people I struggle with depression. I tell them I have social anxieties, or generalized ones. I admit to deep, dark thoughts and difficult days.

People -even online people- are surprised. All they see are green, growing plants. They don’t see the dead branches I’ve pulled off, the dead leaves I’ve pruned, or even the millipedes I vacuumed out of the roots*. They can’t feel my sadness, isolation, and occasional thoughts of uselessness and despair.

But, knowing I have mental issues hasn’t stopped me from fighting any more than knowing I have a black thumb has stopped me from buying plants.

Why?

Because there is no perfect plant -besides the plastic ones at IKEA. Every plant has parts that die off. Every one of them has needed soil conditioners or peat moss, or re-potting.

One of my favorite houseplants is this tree, pictured below. I bought it as a tiny, grocery store discount. I’ve watered it, kept it in the sun, and graduated it to larger pots as it outgrew them. At some points, I thought it wouldn’t make it. I even thought to leave it behind when we moved houses.

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Then, I learned better potting techniques. I watered regularly, but not too much. It’s currently taller than I am, and still growing.

Furthermore, do you notice anything about its coloring? The part away from the sun is darker. There are some dead leaves nearer the middle.

Hmmmm.

Some days I want to give up. I see the discolorations in my character and assume others do as well. I think there is something wrong that needs removal or replacement.

Instead, notice how cool the contrast looks. Notice how darkness gives depth to light.

Maybe the ‘problem’ is that I need more sunshine, a better watering routine, or a calmer environment. Maybe the ‘problem’ is needing more space or nutrients. Or, maybe the ‘problem’ is there isn’t one, because everyone has problems.

And so, I will keep trying. I will keep fighting. And the growth that emerges will be the most beautiful and healthy of all.

~~~~~

*True story with a lemon tree we bought

Photo Credits:
Paula Brustur
Lauren Ferstl
And, Chelsea Owens

Never Wrong.

My name is Bailey and I am defensive.

I am defensive in a way that gets me in a lot of trouble. Something that took me a long time to do is admit fault. I would say that this is one of the biggest improvements I have had since my diagnosis. The medication didn’t make me suddenly humble, or maybe it did… It made me calm, even toned, and of sound mind. I don’t feel as if it is me against the world. I am no longer sitting on a pedestal I built for myself. I am able to recognize that there are repercussions for my choices before I do them.

I still slip. I find myself in these conversations where I just can’t end with “you’re right”. The other day I was getting ready to leave for work and went to pour a cup of coffee. There was only coffee pod left and my mother asked if I was going to take it.

thoughts to myself- of course I am. I am going to work and need the coffee. You are staying home and don’t need it.

said out loud-yes….  This was followed by her saying that I told her she could have it.

Now, this should have ended with me saying that I didn’t remember saying that and I would pick more up after work. As you can imagine, this is not what happened. You see, I already made up my mind that she was wrong. She hadn’t even said something she could be wrong about…she just asked a question that I didn’t like. ‘

What ended up happening- I threw myself deep into a tirade about how she doesn’t work and can go to the store so I should have it. I told her that she is making up a whole conversation. I unapologetically took the coffee and stormed out.

I still have moments and days where I lose my cool. Days where I forget that my actions have consequences, my words hurt, and it is just okay to be wrong. I am infuriated with myself. I hate that this is a habit I have formed and I hate that when I realize I am doing it, my defensiveness only deepens. Once I realize, I get more defensive to hide my fuck up.

Thanks for listening to my rant for the day. Don’t tell anyone I admitted this, I will defensively deny it until the death.

Stepping Out.

I have never made told anyone my New Years resolutions. I just think putting that kind of pressure on something is setting yourself up for failure. I wish I could say that I haven’t made superficial false promises to myself to change my eating habits, lose a particular amount of weight, quit a bad habit, find a new love, or win a million dollars. I have, and I have failed. I think these goals are too specific and that was my issue. Over the past ten years, I have lost myself.

Lost myself in relationships, both platonic and otherwise.

Lost myself in other’s expectations.

Lost myself in my own expectations.

My biggest sadness for others is watching them be hard on themselves because they aren’t keeping up with someone else’s success. You don’t have to be at the same point in life as someone else.

I still have incredibly practical goals. I want to pay off some debt that I have been tip toeing around. I want to finish grad school. I want to advance in my career.

This year, I resolve to be me. Whoever that is… I want to be impulsive in ways that I have not allowed myself before. I want to move out of my comfort zone. I want to find my playful and adventurous side again.

I dyed my hair purple. I have always wanted to but didn’t for fear of what others would think. I was most concerned that my job wouldn’t allow it. But apparently this job doesn’t care, so I just did it.

I feel like I am stable emotionally on my medication and now I can breathe. I can know that these big exciting decisions and adventures are me finding myself and not mania.

A Decade Mental Health Reflection

10 years is a really freaking long time. Looking back I think this may have been the most transformative decade of my life because so many monumental things happened.

I graduated from high school and college. I got my first part time job at Wendy’s (a fast food restaurant in America) and first full time job (that I reluctantly quit). I fell in love twice, lost my virginity, had my heart broken many times and bought a house with my boyfriend of nearly 3 years.

**I’m going to be writing about self harm and suicide. If this may be triggering for you, I suggest waiting for my next post. Talking about self harm is triggering for me still but I want to talk about it openly and honestly.**

Self-Harm

During this decade I learned about depression and anxiety, finally labeling how I had felt for most of my life. I cut myself for the first time in 2011 in my college dorm room because I felt an overwhelming sense of depression and loneliness. This action impacted my life quite a lot. I used it to cope with my mental illness when I was at my lowest points for many years.

You can still see some of those early scars on my arms in the right light. I usually notice them in the summer when the sun shines the brightest. It takes me back to all of the pain I felt in those moments, when I thought this was the only way I could survive each day.

Therapy

Back in 2014 I was in my last year of university, I had returned to the main campus after spending a year in a big city and abroad in England. I struggled so much to readjust to life on campus but I couldn’t. I couldn’t focus, I had no energy and no drive to attend classes or do my assignments.

This brought me to seeing my first therapist, Jennifer. She was the total opposite of me personality wise, she was straight-laced, practical and put together while I walked into her office a total wreck. She was a counselor at my university that I saw every other week. She helped me take those first steps to sorting through my mental illness which lead me to the therapist I have been seeing since September 2016.

I love my current therapist. She has been with me through my very darkest times struggling with intense suicidal thoughts and daily self harm. I saw her twice a week for months until I got a grip on myself. Once I finally made it to once a week I was so proud of myself. I now see her more or less on an as needed basis which I never thought would be possible.

Suicide

After a bad breakup from my first love, my life was in shambles. Before this I had occasionally had suicidal thoughts but they were not even close to the level of intensity these were. “Kill yourself” was on repeat in my mind constantly. I couldn’t have a moment of silence without hearing that phrase.

I never attempted suicide, I think because I had such a strong team of professionals supporting me. My therapist, doctor and psychiatrist were helping me, I didn’t want to let them down by dying. And we were all working to find a medicine that would help me.

Since being on medicine I haven’t had intense suicidal thoughts. I have them occasionally  if I’m at a low point but other than that I am ok.

I’m sorry this post is so long but I wanted to write up a brief bit of my mental health journey from this past decade. In 2010 I wouldn’t have expected for all of this to happen. Life surprises us, it surprises me on a regular basis.

I wish you all a Happy New Year!

My Healing Journey

At the beginning of the year my number one goal was for me to work on healing myself from the inside out. I had put my own inner healing on hold for a long time. I had pushed down the most painful memories of my childhood in hopes I would never have to think about them again. Over these last eight months more and more old wounds have been resurfacing. Old wounds that I forgot were even there were resurfacing. This was finally my time to work on healing myself.

 

I grew up in an abusive household facing abuse from my mother on a daily basis. I suffered from this abuse from a very young age up until my early adulthood. I suffered from physical, verbal, and psychological abuse. The most damaging towards me was the psychological abuse.

 

Growing up I always knew there was something “off” about my mom because of the way she treated me. I was the oldest child and I guess my mom figured she could take out all her aggression on me. My brother was extremely lucky because my mom treated him completely opposite of how she treated me.

 

A month ago I read a book about healing from Narcissistic abuse. It opened up my eyes to what narcissistic abuse is all about and it confirmed for me that it was the abuse I suffered from growing up. It confirmed my theory that my mom was a narcissist and the symptoms & actions described fit my mom perfectly.

 

My entire life I could never fully be myself. My mom was the one who called all of the shots during my childhood. It didn’t matter what I wanted to do, if she didn’t like it then I couldn’t do it. It was like my mom was trying to live out her life through me. I wanted to play piano and my mom hated that, she threw away my piano books because she didn’t want me to play it. I wanted to do gymnastics, but she told me no & convinced me that I was never good enough to do it in the first place. She hated me having friends and never let me hang out with my friends. This occurred throughout my entire childhood.

 

She terrorized me, manipulated me, and controlled me my entire life. This book opened up my eyes to how abusive a narcissist can be and how evil they can be.

My mom caused me immense pain growing up. She told me things no child or person should ever have to hear especially from your own mother. I was screamed at so many times. She told me lies like that she didn’t want me born, she wished she aborted me when she had the chance, no one in my family likes me, I’m a burden, I have no friends, I’m fat, I’m not pretty, and I’m not good enough. She RARELY told me she loved me & meant it.

 

Now that I’ve reached adulthood and have started my own healing, I feel like I’m starting to find myself all over again. My mom never let me express who I was so I was always fitting into the mold she wanted. I finally feel like I’m starting to find my own identity and who I truly am as a person.

 

At first I felt like I was going through an identity crisis because I didn’t know who I was as a person at first. It’s forced me to dig deep inwards to get in touch with my true authentic self. I’m still learning who I truly am on a daily basis. I’m starting to finally feel free again since I no longer have to conform to what she had led me to believe my entire life.

Why You Should Start Practicing Mood Hygiene

I’ve learned that when I find myself in stressful situations is when my depressive episodes start to surface again. It’s why I’ve added exercise and meditation into my routine because it does help eliminate the stress and lifts that weight off of your shoulders.

We practice personal hygiene, dental hygiene, etc. But have you ever thought to practice mood or mental health hygiene?

The word hygiene was derived from the Greek goddess of health, Hygiea. Hygiene is defined as the science of the establishment and maintenance of health. Mood hygiene is when you practice and build habits that will promote good control of your mood symptoms. For those who have a mental illness this helps take preventive measures to improve the symptoms over time.

Living with mental illness, I never thought to add mood hygiene into my routine. The more I learned about it made me realize how beneficial it can be. Practicing mood hygiene doesn’t have to be just for those who have mental illness; it can be for everyone to practice. There are a few ways to practice mood hygiene and incorporate it into your daily life.

  1. Stress and conflict management

When you find yourself in stressful situations, it can sometimes trigger symptoms of your illness like a depressive episode or anxiety attack. There are several ways that you can take to help and prevent stress in your life such as exercising regularly or meditating.

I’ve learned that when I find myself in stressful situations is when my depressive episodes start to surface again. It’s why I’ve added exercise and meditation into my routine because it does help eliminate the stress and lifts that weight off of your shoulders.

  1. Lifestyle regularity

Having structure in your day-to-day life is extremely important. By establishing and sticking to a schedule will help build that structure in your life. For example, I wake up at the same time everyday and have a morning routine that I stick to everyday. I start my mornings by journaling and listing out a few things that I am grateful for each morning. By practicing that gratitude also helps get me in a positive mindset for the day. I then get my workout in before I start my workday.

By having a schedule you stick to on a regular basis builds the structure in your life that will help you feel in control of your life.

  1. Track your moods

By keeping track of your moods will help you determine if there is a certain pattern or cycle in your moods. I started tracking my moods a couple months ago in my journal and it has helped me become more self-aware. It’s helped me notice a pattern in my moods and it allows me to get my moods more under control. It allows me to prepare for the month so I can be strategic with my commitments and make sure I don’t over extend myself.

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These are just a few ways on how you can practice mood hygiene and start implementing them into your own daily life. Practicing mood hygiene on a regular basis will help immensely in the mental health recovery process. It allows you to have a new sense of control in your life and can be empowering for the individual.

Should You Have Kids If You Have a Mental Illness?

I often wonder if I’ve screwed up my children. Not only do I enact terrible punishments like limited screen time or healthy options before sugar, but I also insist they do homework and get to bed at a reasonable time.

Most of all, though, I worry that I literally screwed them up. You know, genetically.

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I have a veritable soup of family history maladies to pass on to them. Plus; I have my own limitations, bad days, breakdowns, and personal failings they’ve had to witness. They continue to witness. They witnessed just this morning.

The real punch to the gut comes when they exhibit signs of mental illness themselves: anxiety, fixation, depression, and negative self-talk.

As I rub my kid’s back and tell him advice didn’t follow the day before, I wonder, What have I done?? The unhelpful voice in my head adds, This is your fault, You are a terrible mom, and You shouldn’t have had children. Some days, it adds, They would be better off without you.

Back when we were deciding whether to have children yet, I worried about such ‘logical’ conclusions. I didn’t feel like the best genetic specimen.

The thing is: no one is the best genetic specimen.

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True, there are some people with very serious cases and/or horrible genetic diseases. Those people are true heroes, in my mind, for choosing the difficult option to not reproduce.

Besides those, I’m really just about as crazy as the next person. Mostly. In fact, compared to many of my relatives and ancestors (who obviously procreated), I’m stable enough to run a small country. But, as I said, they still had children. I even have a few distant relations who I think shouldn’t have had children and still did. And you know what? Their kids are fine. Mostly.

In trying to play Devil’s Advocate to my own mind; let’s suppose a hypothetical situation: What if I were a perfect parent? To continue that fantasy, my kids would have to be born perfect. Their kids would. And so on. Then, as happens in every sci-fi story line, the rest of the world would hunt us down and assassinate our family out of envy.

No one is perfect, at least by the definition of making no mistakes.

Further, despite what one of my kids thinks, mistakes are essential to life. Mistakes make us human and that’s not a bad thing to be. Frankly, we don’t have another option since we were born like this.

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To specifically answer those negative thoughts of my mind:

  • This is your fault: Blame doesn’t matter. What can we do moving forward?
  • You are a terrible momI am a good mom because they are alive and we keep trying.
  • You shouldn’t have had children: I’ve had the children and will continue to raise them well.
  • They would be better off without you: Of course they wouldn’t be better off without me. Have you seen how stepmothers in fairy tales are?

Having kids is hard no matter what. Beating myself up over their problems only adds to my mental strain and depressive triggers. Choosing to be pragmatic and move forward with what I have is a better option than giving up and hoping they’ll still turn out. Even if “moving forward” means that I might have to get checked into a recovery program, that makes a better future (one in which mom’s still around) than trying to maintain an impossible reality.

I saved the best benefit for last: since everyone deals with some sort of mental or physical issue at some point in life, my struggles and authentic life lessons are preparing my children for their own futures. Because of what they start with, what they learn, and what I teach them; they will be loving, honest, supportive, and self-aware.

They will, as every parent dreams, be able to make the world a better place. Someone’s got to live in the future, after all. I may as well try to help mine be better. Mostly.

 

Photo Credits:
Jenna Norman
Aditya Romansa
Sai De Silva