Thoughts on “My Life is a Book” by Christina B.

First, I just have to say that I’m super stoked to have this collaboration with a fellow writer. This is the first book review for book exchange that I’m typing out. I have another book on it’s way to me in the mail for review. I reached out to both authors and just asked, “Hey, can I have your book in exchange for a review?” and they said “Yes.”! This is so fun for me as an avid reader. So, thank you Christiana B. for being open to this collaboration and thank you to WordPress for making these connections happen.

In “My Life is a Book”, Christina B. talks to us like a friend. She tells us personal stories and gives life advice. Christina begins the book by saying why she is writing it and who it is for and may not be for. She states: “You will not find tips on how to become rich and famous. Instead, you will find tips on how to accept yourself, love yourself, nourish your soul and put some boundaries in your life.” Christina talks about how a medium helped to encourage her to write this book. As a Christian and a former medium myself, I do not personally condone going to a medium. I believe there are demonic sources behind mediums’ psychic powers. The author’s belief system also includes numerology, reincarnation, karma, guardian angels, and spiritual awakening. I continued to read this book because I know that’s not what this book is all about. There are enough gold nuggets sprinkled throughout the book to still make reading worthwhile even if my worldview is different.

Some golden nuggets from the book:

don’t live for society, live for yourself.

you might be surprised by what you can learn if you just allow yourself to accept others.

Life has shown me that the evil we have experienced does not define us and that we have the power and the right to want to change our destiny.

You are seen, you are needed and you can do everything that you want to and more.

Chapter 2 touches on how we were raised vs. what we choose to do with that. We don’t have to repeat bad behaviors but we can learn from them; we can improve and change. Chapter 2 also includes experiences and words of healing from domestic violence and postpartum depression. Chapter 3 covers friendships and breaking up with toxicity. Chapter 4 is primarily a real, raw, and poignant letter to Childhood. Chapter 5, Dear Sad People, is a nonjudgmental letter that made me smile and feel like I was just given a soft warm hug. It made me feel respected and given space to feel and breathe- like a good therapy session. I related to Christina a lot in this chapter. It’s a good read for anyone that has dealt with, is dealing with, or knows someone dealing with depression. Chapter 6 is a great chapter for people in dating mode; the author shares her knowledge, experience, and perspectives on love. However, this love she speaks of goes far beyond dating relationships. Chapter 7 is the chapter I most looked forward to reading. It turned out to be both about mental health particularly related to work. I’m so proud of you, Christina! And you will be proud and inspired too after you read through this chapter (and book). Chapter 8 talks about negative/positive thinking, materialistic/nonmaterialistic, and gratitude.

Christina’s Self-care List: read, color, hot bath/shower, yoga/meditation, write, & massage.

Christina even added wonderful drawings for you to color in her book!

I feel privileged to have got to have an insider’s view in the thoughts of the author. The book left me motivated, inspired, and thoughtful; all perfect feelings after the reading of a good book.

Read the book by ordering here.

Check out the author’s blog here.

Wisdom in Self-Talk

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Reading: Proverbs 1

Proverbs 1:5

A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel.

 “When you are around a critical person, the kind who finds fault with everything, you can set limits on your exposure to this person’s constant criticism. You can change subjects, rooms, houses, or continents. You can leave. But what if this critical person is in your own head? What if you are the person with the problem? What if you have met the enemy, and the enemy is you?”

-excerpt from “Boundaries” by Dr.Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend

Sometimes listening to our own counsel is an unwise decision. The enemy within often says things that our friends would never think or say: “You can’t do it. You are ugly. You aren’t smart enough or good enough”. We must constantly fill our minds with wise counsel so that we will give wise counsel to ourselves.

Philippians 4:8 tells us to think about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. This includes how we talk to ourselves.

Reflection:

If you struggle with negative self-talk, please insert your name in the blank, and meditate on these statements that are based on scripture.

_______________________ can do all things through God who gives him/her strength. (Phil. 4:13)

_______________________was created in the image of God. (Gen.1:27)

God knows the plans for __________________________, they are plans of peace not evil. God gives _____________________a future, and hope. (Jer.29:11)

Prayer: Lord, help me to give myself wise counsel based on the wisdom of the scripture that you have given me.

Book Review of “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters” by Abigail Shrier

I first heard about this book when I was watching Joe Rogan’s podcast. It’s such a controversial book that this was one of the first of Rogan’s podcasts to be removed from YouTube. The next time I heard about it was from a colleague who recommended it to me as was recommended to him by another mental health care professional.

The culturally controversial aspect of this book is that it takes a deep dive into questioning whether transgenderism is the best and safest path for as many as seem to be on this path today. It takes a hard look at real consequences such as irreversible physical changes that occur with gender reassigning hormones and surgery. The author asks the tough question of whether or not changing genders is solving the mental health dilemma of so many girls today and whether patients are fully educated in their choices. Abigail, the author, has been called transphobic for asking these questions but, for the safety of the girls, I wonder why asking questions is so taboo.

Examples of risks of gender transitioning hormones include permanent voice changes and infertility. Testosterone can also increase the risk of heart problems and depression. Examples of risks of gender reassignment surgery include permanent inability to sexually climax and physical scarring. While affirming one’s gender may seem to help in the moment, for some, it could be a temporary band aid that covers other issues without fixing them. Social influencers on Tik Tok and YouTube don’t lay out risks but primarily showcase transitioning as a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, a grand spectacular event to be celebrated. There are also professionals that affirm and validate without weighing the pros and cons of transitioning or questioning the root cause of the desire for transitioning. For example, there are clinics in the U.S. where minors can easily get testosterone without the protective measures of a psychological exam, therapy, or follow up.

There is a risk worth noting that has been highly utilized to support transitioning. Well, is it a risk or a threat or both? Suicide. Many parents are truly scared for their child’s mental health if they don’t assist in, accept, and affirm the transitioning process. Is enabling happening in this situation? Manipulation? Is it truly in the best interest of the child long term? Are the people that ask these questions bad people, bad parents? To me, the beauty of this book is the encouragement of these conversations, the attempt to normalize the questioning itself. You don’t have to agree with everything the author says but she has things to say that are worth pondering.

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.

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

Suicide Prevention and Support: My Story

“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do”-Brene Brown

It started in 5th grade. I took my mom’s iron pills. She thought I was trying to get high. All I really got was constipated. I say this lightheartedly but it’s pretty serious. It took me decades to learn to manage the thoughts and feelings of wanting to die, to disappear. I’m still learning every day. I say manage because that’s what I do, manage. It isn’t just going away for me. Depression can be a lifelong roller coaster ride that goes up, down, fast, slow, and sometimes it’s a smooth, steady ride. I really want people to know that the negative thought cycle that is common in depression isn’t always a one and done victory.  Survival is definitely something to celebrate but so is the journey.

In my late teens, the suicide attempt was passive through drug use. I didn’t care if I lived or died because I didn’t feel like I was worth living in this world. I was able to come off the drugs through a 6 week drug class that was offered to me to expunge an arrest. After getting through the program, I worked on seeing my own self-worth. Even after this work, I later had 3 episodes of serious ideation from my 20s to 40 years old. I don’t want to focus on the whys- that’s for my therapy sessions- yes, I go to therapy and I take medication. What I want to focus on is how to help yourself and others, what I think works for me and others.

First, let’s go through the thought process of a person that considers taking their own life.  I want you to imagine a bike trail. Every person that rides that trail falls into the same groove in the ground either for the whole ride or at least parts of the ride. There’s not much thought that goes into this unless there is a puddle or something blocking this groove in the ground. Also, the more it is used, the deeper it gets, and it becomes easier and easier to fall into. This is how our thoughts work, particularly negative thoughts. It takes real effort and attentiveness to create a new trail and avoid the old one. When the trail gets real deep, it morphs into a bad drug that the person didn’t consciously choose to take. Reality gets distorted and thoughts become irrational but the person doesn’t see that…they see and feel their reality. They may have uncontrollable dark fantasies of how to end their life.

It may help to know these patterns in others to decrease anger and hurt and increase understanding when dealing with someone struggling with these difficult thoughts. Now that you know a little about what’s going on inside the mind of someone struggling with suicidal thoughts, let’s go over what actions you can take for a person that is having these thoughts:

If you just want to help but aren’t sure if you know anyone that is struggling with suicidal thoughts; you want to be part of prevention:

·         You are becoming part of the solution just by reading this. Thank you.

·         Watch your words and reactions- they may affect people that are struggling and not telling you.

·         Know that depression looks different on everyone, especially in public.

If you know someone struggling with suicidal thoughts:

·         Recognize that this isn’t a choice or something being said or done to hurt you.

·         Listen and be there without advice, judgement, or expectation.

·         Don’t dismiss the subject or take it as a manipulative threat- take it as a condition that needs treatment and care.

·         If needed- don’t just tell them to go to the ER or just send the cops- go to them, speak to them, if needed- drive them to the ER with compassion.

·         If you cannot go to them and feel they are in imminent and immediate danger- call a welfare check on them by calling the cops to check on them.

If you have struggled with suicidal thoughts in the past:

·         Make a mental note of 2 to 3 safe and supportive people that you can tell these thoughts to if they come up again.

·         Don’t stop therapy or medications because you feel better- you may feel better because of therapy and medications. They are important.

·         Take care of yourself in the best way you can. This includes surrounding yourself with uplifting people and doing things that uplift you.

If you are struggling right now:

·         Tell your safe, supportive friends. Talk about it. Don’t isolate yourself.

·         Tell your therapist and/or psychiatrist. Set up appointments if you do not have them already set up.

·         Call the Suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

·         Starting in July of 2022, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.

·         Go to the ER if needed. Call an ambulance if needed.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my story, the opportunity to be brave and show myself love. In helping others, I help myself. I encourage others to do the same. 

Reimagining Mental Health

            If I could change mental health care for students, homeless individuals, the imprisoned population, and employees, I would:

Schools

During P.E. in my sophomore year of high school, the coach had the class stand up in a circle. “Take everything off your wrists”, she commanded. A few teens had bandanas and wide bracelets on; they took them off. “Now, lift your hands to the ceiling, wrists facing me”, she said sternly with furrowed eyebrows. Our coach was a short, stout woman with an assertive demeanor that you didn’t want to mess with. She examined each student’s wrists, frowning and shaking her head side to side as she paused in front of some students longer than others. At the completion of the circle, she said “now sit down”. She proceeded to talk to other teachers and coaches in the corner of the gym. The conversation appeared to be filled with disdain and disgust.

No one ever told the class why that was done. Those with secrets under the cloth coverings knew, secret cries for help marked on the wrists of teenagers. There was no follow up to helping any of the exposed cutters. This was forced exposure for the sake of gossip. I know there was no action to help the hurting teens because I was one of them.

Key Facts

School staff members have the opportunity and responsibility to recognize and act on warning signs of mental crises in students, not ignore or criticize emotional battles. While Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is implemented in public schools, it is not the same as mental health care. There must be a greater emphasis and education on mental health care in schools. We need a ratio of more psychologists to less students. These trained psychologists should then act to educate both staff and the student body to recognize and treat mental illness in the school.

Homelessness

The other night, despite better judgment, I rolled my car window down for a man holding a “help me” cardboard sign. Oftentimes, I will ignore these beggars because of past negative experiences, but I gathered some change and choose to be unafraid and helpful. I still am shocked at my audacity when I said, “Your eyes are super dilated. Are you on drugs?” He replied, “I have schizophrenia. I just take meds for that”. He was so quick and upfront that I believed he had schizophrenia. Perhaps, he was on other drugs but I figured his mental illness had a lot to do with that “help me” sign and I felt at peace with giving him a handful of change.

Many people with mental illness have poor insight into their own condition and how to best take care of it. They may have cognitive difficulties that make navigating both the health care system and taking care of their basic needs nearly impossible.  

Key Facts

While the mental institutions of the past had a lot of problems, we should have a re-institutionalization of the homeless that are mentally ill. We can do it in a way that doesn’t repeat the mistakes of the past and creates a better present and future for all.

Jail

Another population that could benefit from re-institutionalization is the mentally ill in jail. Initially, there would be an increased cost but after transitioning those in jail to safe, ethical institutions, I believe the overall cost to society would significantly be less than the current situation.

I have heard and believe that jail doesn’t rehabilitate people but makes them worse off. Someone once told me that jail is “drug school”, a place to be educated in illegal drugs and crime.

Key Facts

  • 37% of inmates in federal and state prison have a mental illness
  • 66% of inmates in federal prison report not receiving mental health care treatment 
  • Lasting effects of incarceration: PTSD, anxiety, impaired decision making ability; in prison there is loss of purpose and autonomy, family disconnection, poor and cruel conditions, exposure to violence, and solitary confinement which in itself lead to permanent changes to a person’s brain and personality.

While I agree with appropriate punishment of crimes, jail doesn’t seem to be an appropriate place for those with a mental illness. It seems like the mentally ill aren’t just being punished for their crimes but for the mental illness that contributed to the criminal act, and the punishment makes the illness worse. I believe crime would also decrease with improved care for the mentally ill.

The Work Place

“I am not ok”, I said with tears in my eyes, “I need some kind of help”. With irritation in her voice and degradation in her eyes, my boss said, “I’ll find the number for employee assistance, now put on your big girl panties and get back to work”. Her response increased my suicidal ideation.

Key Facts

  • Depression is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide.
  • Depression & anxiety cost the global economy $1 trillion each year in lost productivity.
  • 80% of workers are afraid to be punished if they ask for a mental health day.

Employees and employers would benefit from normalizing and respecting mental health care needs. It would increase productivity and employee satisfaction. It could possibly even increase the number of people in the workforce by decreasing the need for disability due to depression!

            All of society would benefit if the mental ill were better cared for in schools, the streets, jails, and the workplace.