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Owning Your Story…

We each have a story that we have lived and hold within us everyday. These stories are filled with courage, strength, survival, thriving, mending, and overcoming. When we share our story we take power over what we have lived (or what we are living). We become stronger. I’ve also noticed, from sharing mine, that it has helped others open up about their own experiences. It has shown someone that they are not alone, it has provided hope, and others have opened up and shared their own story. It has started a conversation!

A friend and I are starting work on a book which will feature a collection of life stories about survival, coping, mending, recovery and acceptance. Sharing your story doesn’t mean your life has to be perfect. No one’s life is perfect…I have been in recovery from major depression for years but my life is not perfect. I have setbacks and sometimes I feel down. But, I have more control over my illness than I once did. I have owned my story, my ongoing struggles, my rape, my abuse, and my mental illness. My good days last longer than my bad days. I now want to share my story to help others and this is what we hope our book accomplishes. By sharing your story, you not only will be owning it but you will also be helping others see that they are not alone in what they have experienced. There is power in numbers. We want to break the silence of mental illness!

If you would like to share your story or are interested and would like to learn more, you can contact us at OwnYourLifeStory@gmail.com. We are readily available to answer your questions. All is kept confidential. Our book will not use real names and all participants will sign a release of information before any story is published.

~Susan

 

What is Psychotherapy?

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When I first sought therapy many years ago I was hesitant, scared, and didn’t know what to expect. All I knew about therapy was what I’d seen in the movies and on television. My desperation overruled my fear and I am glad that I went. I am still in therapy today and it has done wonders. It, along with my hard work, a good support system, and medication has helped me to reach recovery and maintain it. I would not be here without the combination.

What is psychotherapy? It is basically talk therapy. Other terms include “counseling, psychosocial therapy, or simply therapy” (Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/psychotherapy/home/ovc-20197188). An individual, usually someone living with a mental disorder, seeks therapy from a licensed psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or other trained mental health professional. The person will learn about their illness, treatment, how to cope with life, and manage their symptoms (National Institute of Mental Health, http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/psychotherapies/index.shtml).

We could all benefit from having a confidential confidante to share our innermost thoughts and concerns. To have someone we can depend upon for professional, not just emotional, advice and guidance. For someone living with a mental disorder, such as depression and anxiety, it does wonders (I speak of these two specifically due to the fact that I struggle with these).

There are several different types of psychotherapy. Tomorrow, I plan to blog about the type of psychotherapy called Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, also known as CBT. Please stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog post.

Also, I’d love to hear from each of you about what you’d like to read about or discuss. If you are hesitant to share it publically, feel free to email your suggestion to mendingandthriving@gmail.com. I will do my best to cover the topic and research for information about it. Thank you for following and reading my blog.

Susan

Yes, You Can Improve Your Self-Esteem!

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Self-Esteem is one’s opinion, not fact, about themselves. Our self-esteem is developed from our experiences from birth to the present and can fluctuate from day to day, depending on what is happening.

A person with low self-esteem has had things happen in their life that has negatively impacted how they view themselves. For example, abuse, bullying, a prolonged illness or accident that has hindered their abilities, financial problems, can negatively affect one’s perception of themselves. In addition to negative experiences impacting one’s opinion of themselves, we also tend to pay more attention to the things (experiences) which confirm how we feel about ourselves. For example, a person with low self-esteem is more apt to notice and remember experiences which confirm their negative self-views than experiences which indicate otherwise.

So, how does one go about improving their self-esteem? Is it possible? Yes, it is possible to improve your self-esteem but it will take some patience and work. I recently told my therapist that I want to work on my self-esteem. I do not hold a high opinion of myself and it has held me back from so much throughout my life. I am ready to be more honest with myself and my capabilities. I am tired of holding myself back. It is time to do better!

As I mentioned in the blog on Friday, I have also been doing some self-esteem work on my own. I found 10 Improving Self-Esteem Modules online that I have been reading and working through (free). The website is http://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/resources/infopax.cfm?Info_ID=47. The first and second modules discuss what self-esteem is, how low self-esteem is developed, and features several exercises for the reader to explore their own self-esteem and how it may have developed into low-self-esteem.

I discovered that we often perpetuate our negative self-thoughts by paying attention to experiences which confirm our negative thoughts and ignore the positive experiences. Also, we carry around these mental rules to protect these negative beliefs. For example, I have a Master’s Degree in Social Work with a Mental Health focus, yet I am underemployed as a cashier because I have allowed my negative self-esteem and fear to hold me back. I have avoided taking a licensure exam out of fear of failure. My low self-esteem was further lowered after a negative experience during my internship with a supervising social worker who put me down (after giving me high marks all year) and insulted me. I have permitted her behavior and my low self-esteem to prevent me from getting a job in the field out of fear that it will happen again…that I will be criticized; that I could fail. Criticism and mean people exist in all fields. I refuse to let my low self-esteem, fears, and bad experiences to hold me back anymore.

I am starting module 3 and will discuss it tomorrow. Have a wonderful evening. I want to wish everyone the best of luck on tomorrow morning’s drawing for the journal and pen case. There is still time to enter. Just follow the blog and email me at mendingandthriving@gmail.com to enter. The deadline for entries is midnight tonight. One entry per follower. I will notify and announce the winner tomorrow morning, March 15th.

Also, please feel free to make topic suggestions! Susan

Laughter is Definitely the Best Medicine!

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I often tell people that if it wasn’t for my sense of humor, I do not know where I would be. It has helped me through some terrible times in my life…times I didn’t think I would survive.

Laughter has been proven to be beneficial to our health. In fact, according to HelpGuide.org laughter sets in motion “healthy physical changes in the body” (HelpGuide.org, http://www.helpguide.org/articles/emotional-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine.htm). It activates the body’s ‘feel good’ transmitters, called endorphins, which gives us a sense of well-being and can act as a pain reliever. Laughing decreases stress and improves our body’s ability to fight off infection and disease (Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456).

In addition to the long term effects, laughter also has short term benefits (Mayo Clinic):

  • Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
  • Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response and increases your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
  • Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.

Also, laughter is infectious, joins people together, and “increases intimacy” (HelpGuide.org).

So, what if you feel like you don’t have a sense of humor? An article for the Mayo Clinic claims that humor can be learned and it isn’t difficult. Here are a few tips (Mayo Clinic):

  • Put humor on your horizon. Find a few simple items, such as photos or comic strips that make you chuckle. Then hang them up at home or in your office. Keep funny movies or comedy albums on hand for when you need an added humor boost.
  • Laugh and the world laughs with you. Find a way to laugh about your own situations and watch your stress begin to fade away. Even if it feels forced at first, practice laughing. It does your body good.
  • Share a laugh. Make it a habit to spend time with friends who make you laugh. And then return the favor by sharing funny stories or jokes with those around you.
  • Knock-knock. Browse through your local bookstore or library’s selection of joke books and get a few rib ticklers in your repertoire that you can share with friends.
  • Know what isn’t funny. Don’t laugh at the expense of others. Some forms of humor aren’t appropriate. Use your best judgment to discern a good joke from a bad, or hurtful, one.

Laughter is definitely the best medicine and it is free! Share some of your favorite jokes (stay clean) and what makes you laugh. Let’s start laughing…

Susan