Toxic Positivity

Disclaimer: This is a guest post. I have not created this post nor do I own it. I do follow, enjoy, and gain insight from the author’s blog. Link provided at end of article.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

On yesterdays post titled “Anxiety”, I mentioned how I’ve been feeling a little low and I talked about wanting to share it with you guys. I tried to explain what I meant but it was the middle of the night and I had just woken up and added that part so I was unable to share my thoughts properly. Special shoutout to the cats fighting in the background and distracting me.

So, I thought I would share my thoughts today and be a little more articulate about it. As I mentioned, I didn’t want to share that information for sympathy or anything like that. The reason I wanted to share that information is because of “toxic positivity.”

If you are unfamiliar with what toxic positivity is, please click here for more information on it. I don’t want to go too much into it because that’s not why I’m writing this post. No, I’m writing this post because once again it’s time to put the whine in lifesfinewhine.

What toxic positivity does is encourage people to repress their negative feelings and act like things are perfect when they are not.

As someone who does social media management I spend a lot of time on social media on behalf of my clients and I see a lot of stuff on there. And one thing I’ve noticed about social media is that there is really an abundance of toxic positivity on there and it drives me a little crazy (well crazier than I already am- shoutout to my anxiety and depression).

I think people really want their life to seem perfect on there and it encourages this notion that it is possible to have a perfect life. Except, it’s not. No ones life is perfect and everyone has their problems. What toxic positivity does is encourage people to repress their negative feelings and act like things are perfect when they are not. It also makes people associate negative feelings with shame or guilt because they feel like they shouldn’t be experiencing them. Lastly, it makes them less empathetic to other peoples negative feelings and these are often the kind of people that tell others to just “be happy and not worry about stuff.”

Basically, toxic positivity has truly opened up a whole can of worms and not the delicious gummy kind. It has not only led a lot of people that suffer from mental illnesses astray but has also perpetuated the notion that mental health issues can simply go away by being positive when in reality it takes a lot more work than that and for some it may take professional help and medication.

I experience negative emotions and that’s okay.

Negative emotions exist for a reason and we experience them for a reason. It’s unhealthy to live in some kind of delusion where everything is okay all the time. Negative emotions can be painful and difficult to process which is why so many of us shy away from them but in reality all we are doing is repressing them. We push them into a little jar and close the lid tightly but what happens when the jar gets full and overflows? Rather than having to deal with that it’s so much easier to learn to process negative emotions. Experience them, process them and learn to move on from them in your own way.

The reason I wrote about experiencing negative emotions was because I wanted to be real and not act like I have some kind of perfect life because I don’t. Just like everyone other person on this planet. I have my issues and problems. I experience negative emotions and that’s okay. And I want everyone reading this blog to know that. Don’t be fooled by the people online or in your life that act like everything is perfect because I guarantee you they have issues and problems too.

This is a weird place to end the post but your girl needs to work now. Thanks to everyone who left a comment on that post- I read each one including the ones WP decided to wrongfully put in my spam. This is honestly just the best community to be a part of. And remember- it’s okay to feel like crap sometimes. It’s okay tasty in bed and not be productive sometimes. It’s okay to smack your neighbor because they’re making noise while you’re trying to write a post not be okay sometimes. Nothing last forever and nobody’s perfect.

I hope this post made sense- it was a little too ramble-y but some of you really enjoy that so I don’t know?? I tried to keep the words to a minimum too but it seems I’ve already reached almost a thousand and me rambling on about how much I rambled on this post probably isn’t helping. I mean it’s helping with my SEO but not great for readers. And here I am rambling again so I’m just going to go now.

If you are experiencing negative emotions and don’t know how to deal with them or find them too overwhelming please do seek professional help especially if the emotions don’t go away over time.

If you enjoyed this guest post, please check out the authors blog at Lifesfinewhine.

Book Review of “River of Time” by Naomi Judd

I was never a big country music fan, but I remember the day that I heard the country music superstar, Naomi Judd, was publicly announced to be dead. I was on the second floor of a small gift shop in the tourist town of Medora, ND. I was in the town attending a Women’s Retreat. Had I not been at the retreat, I would have been hospitalized for my own mental health reasons. Something in my gut told me what happened to Naomi when they didn’t state her cause of death over the radio. Something in my soul knew her pain.

I felt God led me to the retreat to help me heal internal wounds. God also led me to learn Naomi’s story and read her book. Naomi Judd ended her book, River of Time, with advice to others on how to cope with depression and anxiety. Because she ended her own life, her advice is not negated. She gave us the most vulnerable part of herself in this book. Naomi’s life story may not have provided us with the kind of hope that comes from fairytales, but she gave us herself and how much more can a person give?

I was surprised at many things in the book. First, this singer/songwriter was a nurse and a single mom. Then, her deep, dark, and ugly family history. Another surprise was the included scientific terminology and explanations related to psychiatric health, illness, and treatment. Her raw descriptions of inpatient experiences were also quite shocking. Naomi spared no detail in letting the reader into these intimate moments of her life.

The entire book could be a trigger for some people, or for people like me, it can feel like a new friend. This friend has struggles, she has a history to be shared, stories to tell, and feelings to be expressed. In some ways, Naomi was lucky to afford the treatment modalities that she went through as stated in the book; many others cannot afford and/or do not have the connections to such practitioners who became her friends and mentors. But more so, we are lucky that this celebrity was willing to use her platform to so openly share the plight of depression, anxiety, panic, and suicidal ideation.

I would recommend this book to those that struggle with mental illness, those with family/friends that are struggling, those in the field of mental health, and those that just want to understand. This is a well-thought-out book that weaves the full breadth and depth of personal experience and professional wisdom so that it’s hard to put down.

Rest In Peace Naomi Judd. Thank you.

Support my reading habits and yours by clicking this link:

https://bookshop.org/a/85205/9781455595730

Intrusive Thoughts: Words From My Family

Image by ElisaRiva from Pixabay

Emotional/Verbal Abuse and Trauma:

You will always be a follower, never a leader- Mom.

You have more in life than you deserve -Facebook post by a sister when asking for help caring for a gravely ill child.

She says she isn’t related to you and she doesn’t even know you. -My friend told me of what a sister said to other school friends; parents dismiss this as a nonissue to this day.

Me and your dad agree that you will never graduate high school- Mom.

Quit school. Have a beer. You are wasting your time. You also owe me for groceries. -Dad.

You cannot handle the music, friends, or movies that your siblings can so you are grounded from them all. -Mom

You almost caused our divorce. -Mom

You are stupid!- as Stepdad chased me out of the house and I drove away in fear.

Spiritual Abuse and Trauma:

Come out demons! You are demon possessed. -as Mom pressed one palm firmly on my forehead and raised her other hand high in the air. There was no warning.

Recognizing these statement as abuse and trauma have been incredibly beneficial to me; to recognize that these statements weren’t normal or ok. Recognizing these statements as abuse also have validated my internal struggle of self worth.

I want to tell you, dear reader, that if you received messages like this: you are not alone and your struggle is valid.

988

I just want anyone reading my blog to know that this number exists beginning July of 2022, 2 days from the posting of this blog article. 988 is a national (U.S.) 3 digit code that will route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Commit this number to memory and share with friends and family. 24/7 someone is available to talk to if needed. Thank you.

My Current Trauma:

 Estrangement of my Adult Child Exacerbated and Enabled by my Mother

Image by Kris Kurn from Pixabay

Text Messages

Me: I’m in a blizzard.

Mom: Wait 30 days to talk to your child. That’s what her therapist said.

Me: My half-brother died.

Mom: Wait.

Me: I’m so depressed (from this estrangement and feeling unloved/uncared for) that I am having suicidal thoughts.  

Mom: Wait.

She didn’t check on my safety. She didn’t give condolences. She didn’t call me, though she called the cops on me to do a welfare check (and clear her conscious.)

Me: I’m not ok. This is not ok. (She was my world.)

Mom: It’s between you two. I am doing the best I can for both of you.

Me: You are standing between me and my daughter. It’s killing me. My blood pressure is sky high to stroke level and I’m have panic attacks.

Mom: I love you.

Me: I don’t feel loved at all.

Mom: Ok.

Earlier Verbal Conversation

Me: If she needs to come back to stay with me for a bit because of heat induced asthma, she is welcome. I’m worried about her.

Step-Father: She will get over it.

Me: This is hard to say but you saying she will get over it hurt my feelings.

Step-Father: Yeah, your mom told me and that’s Bull Shit.

My daughter’s lung collapsed at 3 years old followed by so many heat induced episodes that we ultimately settled where she was healthiest (in the north). She is currently back south living with my parents.  

After being told my feelings were bullshit and before the 30 days prescription of no contact:

My mother and daughter were supposed to come see my new house, 1st time home owner. I had been maintaining 2 vehicles while my daughter was visiting down south. She was going to fly in and drive her car back south. Because 1 car was bought and made for south and other was bought and made for north, I told her I wanted to keep the vehicle that was safer for me in northern conditions especially as I couldn’t get up my driveway with southern vehicle when icy. Because I stood by this decision, she decided she would not get any car, not visit, not get her dog, not get her stuff, not see my new house, and not talk to me. During the visit we also had front row tickets to see Elton John. She forfeited that and her plane ticket. My parents got her a new dog in a week and a new car in 2 weeks. My sister-in-law said “you were thinking about your safety but what about them?”

It has been 4 months since I’ve heard my daughter’s voice. All attempts at communication have made the situation worse so there is no communication at this time. I only receive lists of grievances which gets longer when I try to explain my experiences. The most common and appropriate advice I receive is to wait. Waiting is hard and it hurts. I grieve the relationship every single day.

Image by Ulrike Mai from Pixabay

This is a sad place to be in as a parent.

While it’s common to be estranged from an 18 year old child as they establish independence, it’s not so common for family members to assist. It does happen though. Has this happened to you too? Please comment thoughts of support and encouragement for other parents of estranged adult children.  

5 Bible Verses for Anxiety

I must preface with the importance of His word. It’s more important to mediate on God’s word than it is to take our daily medications/supplements yet this task is easy to skip in our daily routine.

We need the light of God. We need to know what He says so that we can best see the path He laid out for us:

1. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. -Psalm 119:105

Give God your anxieties:

2.  Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7

But how do we give Him our anxieties? We pray, we tell Him:

3. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7

After we told God about what makes us anxious, we must trust in Him to take care of them, to take care of us:

4. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.– Proverbs 3:5-6

Give good words to yourself and to others. Good words could be other bible verses and thoughts of things you are thankful for:

5. Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, But a good word makes it glad. -Proverbs 12:25

Consider writing these out with pen on paper. Write them multiple times. Color the paper around the verse. Meditate on God’s wisdom.

I invite you to pray the following:

I am utilizing the acronym that helps me pray: PRAY

Praise Repent Ask Yield

Dear Lord,

Thank you God for making me and all the world. You are able to see all, know all, and do all that is good and just.

Forgive me for holding on to my worries and trying to handle them all on my own. I cannot and was not made to carry all my burdens alone but to give them to You and handle them with You.

Please take my anxieties from me, help me to release them to you and trust you with them. Please give me the words and thoughts I need to deflect anxiety away from myself.

I trust you, God, I really do. I give my anxiety to you. I will walk the path you have lit for me.

~Amen

I have Dermatillomania

3 minute read

Dermatillomania is a “skin-picking disorder, is a psychological condition that manifests as repetitive, compulsive skin picking.” Approximately  2–5% of the population has a skin picking disorder. So that means that approximately 11,500 people in the U.S.A. have a skin picking disorder. I am not alone. And if you do this, you are not alone either. If you don’t, please have compassion without judgment.

My first memory of picking my nails until they bled was before kindergarten. I picked at my toenails. I am not sure why I did this, but that’s when it started. It was during nursing school that I really got carried away with my fingernails. Some days, all fingertips would be covered in bandaids. I frequently had to clean both my toenails and fingernails with hydrogen peroxide and cover them in triple antibiotics to prevent infection. I went through a lot of hydrogen peroxide and triple antibiotics during nursing school.

To try to prevent me from this self-harm and to look better, I went to nail salons for fake nails. The workers showed my nails to each other and spoke in a foreign language with shock and amusement. They said “no nail” in English and then, they did their work. I sat in embarrassment as my ugly nails were inspected under magnified light. I felt beautiful and “normal” for a while when the lovely new nails were complete. But without much nail bed to hang on to, fake nails fall off quickly only to reveal a worse situation beneath. Putting on fake nails is also damaging to the natural nail…picking them off as I did after losing one or two…isn’t a great idea for beauty either.

My teenager has fussed me so many times for picking at and over filing my nails. It drives them crazy. I know it’s poor role modeling too but, I file away. As a young child, I was soothed by rubbing my mom’s smooth nails. Now, if my nail isn’t smooth, I will go to the store to get a nail file if I can’t find one. Ironically, because of this bad habit, my nails will never actually be smooth.

Before you comment on the many ways that I can overcome this bad habit, I have to tell you that I don’t need to. I have consulted with doctors and counselors; it’s not pretty or the healthiest coping mechanism but I’m ok with it right now. The stress of trying to quit is greater than the stress relief of just continuing. It’s not as bad as it once was and I’m not trying to cover it up with fake nails. Getting past the body shame has been good for me. That’s where I am right now and it’s ok.

How Reading Issues Started Me on My Mental Health Journey

& How my Mental Health Journey Improved my Reading Issues

4 minute read

by Ianna Osborn

17-year-old freshman in college, daughter of the blog author

As a kid, I loved reading. I started reading books when I was four years old and would read every night. I was in the advanced reading program and read the most books out of my school every year. Owning every Geronimo Stilton book was my only personality trait in kindergarten. After finishing all of the Geronimo Stilton books, I spent my time reading Magic Treehouse, Junie B. Jones, and Dork Diaries. My favorite book of all time to this day is A Mysterious Benedict Society. It is about gifted children who went through tests to be recruited for a secret mission; I loved it because I imagined I was in the story too. I remember having to read Hatchet in school one year; this book made me realize I didn’t have to read silly kids’ books anymore. Sometimes I would pick out novels on my nana’s shelf for her to read to me- one I remember vividly is The Road to Agra, my nana’s favorite book from her teenage years.

Throughout middle school, not only my interest but my ability to read dwindled exponentially. I started homeschooling in the fifth grade and every reading assignment quickly became a chore. I think this shows where my anxiety struggles started- as my anxiety and depression grew larger, my reading abilities were shrinking. Homeschooling didn’t have a sense of urgency, either- I didn’t have due dates or consequences like I used to. I did enjoy a few books in middle school though, notably the Chronicles of Narnia, The Giver, and Where the Red Fern Grows. Reading wasn’t the easiest, but I was sure that it would get easier through time.

Eventually, it got so debilitating that I went to my psychiatrist

The book, Silence of the Lambs, is significant to me because it was the last
book I read because I wanted to for a long time. Soon after- around the beginning of high school- things really went downhill, I could barely read at all. “Reading” for me was scanning pages and pages and then realizing I retained nothing by the middle of the book then I’d give up. It was a lot harder for me than I can describe properly- I was the smart kid, and now I wasn’t- the perfectionist in me was tearing through my skull. Why couldn’t I do such a simple thing that everyone else can do? I was two years ahead in school and I still couldn’t do the easiest thing ever. I was struggling so much that my mom got frustrated with my struggles and decided not to make me read anymore. I did write some essays to count as an English credit, but I know I haven’t had proper reading experience because we both gave up on me.

Eventually, it got so debilitating that I went to my psychiatrist and took a four-hour long test to see if I had any reading disabilities. In an odd way, I was disappointed to see I wasn’t diagnosed with any of them- just anxiety- which didn’t really validate my struggles as I wanted it to. My anxiety was stronger than my interest in books- so that was where the overthinking and lack of concentration really shined. After diagnosis, I started regular therapy appointments; my only goal was to be able to read again. I was excited to go to therapy because I knew I had a lot of issues I never told anyone out of fear, so I used my opportunity, but I didn’t really expect it to help my reading- it didn’t make sense to me.

Therapy was interesting. I ended up going to a partial hospitalization program a couple of months after starting my mental health journey. This was after my therapist realized that I was struggling with more than anxiety and reading skills. Being there for three months helped my anxiety tremendously. It wasn’t an immediate fix by any means, but partial hospitalization along with medication and continuing counseling did help my reading, as strange as it sounds. It honestly surprised me; I didn’t believe that anxiety was the root of my concentration problems until I started to improve. I started reading books I knew I’d love: Insomnia, The Shining, It, 1984, and Animal Farm. I read because I wanted to. I didn’t zone out nearly as much as I used to. My surprise is difficult to describe- I genuinely didn’t expect to get better. My struggle with reading led me to begin dealing with multiple mental health problems under the surface that I would’ve never begun to understand if I hadn’t just wanted to be able to read again.

The Covid Vaccine Mandate Gave Me an Anxiety Attack

5 minute read

At first, I just wanted to wait to see how things go with the Covid vaccinations, to see if there were bad side effects. I anticipated watching over the course of a year or so to gain trust in the vaccine. With the flu vaccinations taking about 20 years to mandate in healthcare workers, I figured I had time. When a nearby hospital in town announced that they were mandating the vaccine, I saw my time was short. However, the hospital that I work at has a nurses union. So, I thought we still had some time. I thought we might have six months to a year for the union and the hospital to bargain. I expressed my anxiety about the mandate to my boss. She told me not to worry about it, she said “try to just take it one day at a time”. The very next day, the mandate was announced.

I felt my insides shake and feel paralyzed at the same time.

On August 12th, right before lunch, the announcement was made at our weekly meeting. I walked in just a couple of minutes late because I had been with a patient. My director said that I had missed the big announcement, “the hospital is mandating the vaccine as a condition of employment”. I clenched my teeth and sat down. My director said that it surprised her to happen so quickly, but this is what is happening. Both shots must be received by November 3rd, 2021. We were being given less notice than the other hospital had given to their employees. I felt my insides shake and feel paralyzed at the same time. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t defend or express my thoughts. I felt my face go red. My frown was not hidable. Religious and medical exemptions were discussed in a way that made me feel hopeless. It was everything I could do to not walk out. I didn’t want to make a scene, but I didn’t want to stay. Also, I needed to hear this.

At the end of the meeting, someone asked if I was ok. I said, “no” as I headed for the bathroom to fall apart where no one could see. It didn’t take me long to realize, this falling apart was going to last all afternoon. I told my boss I had to leave. I couldn’t keep going. The anxiety was too much.

These thoughts were spiraling out of control.

Is my career over? Where will I work? Do I just get the vaccine? But, I’m not ready. I know my head enough to know that my lack of readiness will lead to different anxiety-inducing questions. I may become a hypochondriac with every real and imagined symptom “being caused” by the vaccine. I’m going to be fired. How will I pay my bills, my student loans, my rent, my daughter’s needs? Will I be able to afford anything? Will I be able to get another job?

My job was great just a few days before. I got a near-perfect work evaluation that would entitle me to a raise. I got a big award earlier in the year. I have never felt like I belong in a job so much before. I just started leading monthly socials together with coworkers. We had three so far and they were nice. I can’t work the floor because of my physical limitations, so even if another hospital somewhere would take me unvaccinated, I am not physically capable of most nursing positions. These thoughts were spiraling out of control.

I was having trouble functioning.

After leaving work, I took a hot bath to calm down. Soon, I found out about a protest at the other hospital. I went to the store to buy posters and markers. My anxiety was still so high that driving took extra effort. I made a couple of posters and went to the protest. There was healing in being with the other protestors. There was healing in the conversations, camaraderie, and support. The healing only lasted that evening. I was crying hard before getting out of bed to go to work the next day. Crying in the car. Holding tears back through the hallway. Dabbing tears at my desk. I called and text a counselor that I had seen once. I told him it was an emergency, that I was having trouble functioning. He saw me on his day off. It really helped. I also made an appointment with a nun at the hospital. She prayed with me. I still felt like I was going a bit crazy. The next day, I saw my psychiatrist. I got a little more help.

They gave us just 10 days to send in our religious or medical requests. I spent the whole weekend writing up my religious exemption request. I put more time into it than necessary, but the writing process helped me process through my thoughts. I needed it. I will find out what the results are on September 3rd.  My morale is low. Questions are spiraling in my head about if I do or do not get the exemption request approved. If I don’t get the exemption approved, I will probably have another panic attack. If I do get the exemption, will I be able to get my morale back up?

I felt like people thought I was overreacting. I questioned myself if I was overreacting. Then, I found out that it wasn’t just me feeling this way. At least one colleague had a similar reaction where she had to go home sick the day of the announcement. I have now seen multiple pictures and videos of nurses and healthcare workers crying regarding the mandate.  Nurses that had to leave for the day. Nurses that are struggling to push through their day, feeling devalued. I have heard that there are others like me that are going to their counselors for guidance.

I’m climbing out of the anxiety. Trying little by little.

I had just started blogging before this announcement. I was on a roll with my writing. And then I couldn’t write until now. I was all consumed with this anxiety for about a week and a half. I am slowly climbing out of the anxiety. Trying little by little, day by day.

As I started blogging to end the stigma of mental illness, I will close this piece with thoughts on just that. Do not judge me or others for what makes us anxious. Do not look at an anxious person or a person having an anxiety attack and say, “they are overreacting.” These feelings are real and strong and valid.