Change: A Life Update

Publications on Coffee House Writers, Writing
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This article is an update on events in my life right now, regarding to the theme of change.

Change is hard. It’s a huge part of my life right now and the uncertainty is driving me crazy.

For one thing, one of my favorite Facebook groups for writers closed down. The admins had too much on their plates and couldn’t keep up with it. My heart hurt to see it close, so I decided that I would take over as sole moderator. It’s a small group, only twenty-seven people, but it’s a huge responsibility since I have to respond and interact with everyone on a daily basis.

Another change in my life is getting displaced out of my room because I have to get the ceilings fixed from Hurricane Irma. I need to pack up all of my things and move them somewhere else out of the way and private but still accessible. I hate having my “nest” disturbed.

Getting the ceilings fixed sets into motion the process of…[Read More]

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The Heroine of My Life: A Therapy Exercise for Battling Negative Self-Talk

General Musings, Life, Mental Illness, Publications on Coffee House Writers, Writing
Success is being the hero of your life

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This is my latest on Coffee House Writers. I had the inspiration to write this from a friend who mentioned that her therapist had told her about this exercise. I was immediately taken with the idea and wanted to see if it could help me. This is what I came up with since I didn’t want to make an autobiography out of it. You can read the full article here. I hope you enjoy!

The Heroine of My Life:

** Trigger Warning** Mentions of Suicidal Thoughts and Bullying

Someone suggested as a therapy exercise to write my story. However, there was a simple requirement. I had to make myself the strong heroine with a happy ending instead of playing the victim. It’s an exercise to battle negative self-image and self-talk.

Here’s my story:

As a young child, I already had a stubborn personality. I liked to call it determination. My mother and I often butted heads because of this personality trait. It was something she called a battle of wills.

Traits of kindness, loyalty and caring for others appeared. I had a strong sense of justice and always helped others. I love helping my friends figure out their problems.

I was a take-charge kind of person. If I had an idea, I was passionate about; it would consume me to the point of obsession. I would work on the project until I couldn’t work on it anymore. I would stop after exhausting the possibilities or resistance from others.

But, as is always the case with young, strong-willed creatives, it put me through trial after trial of resistance.

I was creative; I was always writing fiction and reading whatever I could get my hands on. When eating, I read cereal boxes or labels on food containers to keep my mind occupied.

I was intelligent. My mind was always thinking. I would evaluate problems and ways to solve them. I sought to understand the world around me, why people thought and acted the way they did. I often wondered why I thought and acted the way I did. Understanding how and why things worked was critical for me. My endless questions of “why” often irritated my parents. They often told me to look answers up in the ancient encyclopedia we had or, later,  [Read More]

 

An Open Letter to My Younger Self

Publications on Coffee House Writers, Writing
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Dear Younger Self,

You will be on a journey of learning your whole life. Along the way, there will be tears, great friends, betrayal, suicidal thoughts, and support. You will go through a lot of hard times, but the good times will make the hard times worth it.
You will be an energetic, stubborn, bossy child with advanced social skills and an affinity for writing. For you writing is an extension of playing pretend. It is fun and exciting to create a world all your own. Music and the life you observe and the worlds you experience from reading will inspire you.
Your parents have their faults but have redeeming qualities, too. You will think they are perfect and will have a hard time coming to terms with the fact they will be toxic for you later in life. They will play favorites and treat your brother better with more support later in your life. You will be on medicine from a young age.
You will experience a psychiatric unit and suicidal thoughts induced by medicine when you are just ten years old. You will come out learning of things like cutting and burning. You will be exposed to a world you shouldn’t have at your age. The next year your aunt will die from suicide. This will be hard to see your family so broken about it. You will feel guilty because you don’t cry. You will grieve your way, and that is okay. This event will save your life many times later in your life when you continue to have suicidal thoughts for yourself.

[Read More]

Big Dream: Exploring My Deep-Seated Fears

Publications on Coffee House Writers, Writing
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I had been thinking about a challenge. A challenge to identify my fears as they relate to my Big Dream from Debbie Burns book “The Path to Courage.” A Big Dream is the thing I want to do with the rest of my life to fulfill my calling. I had been thinking all day but had written nothing down. I wrote my Big Dream and all the fears and societal and cultural rules that were stopping me. For reference, my Big Dream is to support myself through writing and writing-related jobs. I don’t want to get stuck in an unfulfilling job and feel miserable. I noticed that a lot of my fears had to do with financial independence and autonomy.

It came to me; I am scared to depend on anyone but myself. I am scared of the rejection and the hurt that comes from trusting someone. I am afraid of having them disappoint or betray me. I am so frightened of trusting others, asking for help, and allowing myself to love.

Looking back on my childhood, this makes sense. From a young age, I was independent. My brother has autism and glaring behavior problems and has my parents’ attention. They praised me for being an “easy, independent” child. When I needed help, they told me too, “figure it out on my own.” I felt betrayed because my brother was getting all the help and attention he needed.

This pattern with my parents’ attention hasn’t changed in 21 years. I still don’t get help from them, even now when I need it more than my brother. He gets a lot more help than he needs. They hold me to higher standards than my brother. I am expected to be autonomous at 21 despite my severe mental illness.

To illustrate this: [Read More]

How 10 Months With My Grandma Taught Me More Than 20 Years With My Parents

Publications on Coffee House Writers, Writing
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In my last article, An Open Letter To My Mom, I mentioned how my grandma had helped me. I thought I would elaborate.

The Move

On August 2017, Grandma heard Mom was having trouble with me. Mom had told her and the rest of the family about our problems. Despite this knowledge, she offered to let me live with her for the foreseeable future. For this, I owe her my life.

In the previous three months, I got kicked out of my grandparents’ house and my parents’ house for the second time. I thought I had used up all my family favors and would have to strike out on my own. This was something I was not ready for.

My mental illness is severe enough to make cashiering and food service jobs stressful enough to land me in the hospital. I was not qualified for any other job. Therefore, striking out on my own was impossible. Not to mention I couldn’t handle school and a job at the same time.

So, when Grandma offered to take me in, I saw it as a Godsend. I was determined not to mess it up.

The Rules

I felt nervous and excited when I arrived from the airport. From the get-go, Grandma stated the ground rules. First, always be honest. When you have a problem with something someone else in the house is doing, say something. Second, everyone contributes. You can cook dinner, wash dishes, clean, vacuum, anything as long as you contribute. No one will nag you to do things. You must do them of your volition. Third, we help and support each other. If you need something, tell the household what it is and how they can help. [Read More]

My Life with Schizoaffective Disorder: A Form of Schizophrenia

Life, Mental Illness, Publications on Coffee House Writers, Writing
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Many people know about John Nash, the Nobel-Prize winning economist who had schizophrenia. Many know of him because of the movie, A Beautiful Mind. It is a fascinating cinematic portrayal of schizophrenic hallucinations.

However, there is not much content out there about schizophrenic symptoms and coping skills written by someone who has experienced them; this is a niche I can fill.

I was put on prescription medication by my parents as a young child. So early, in fact, that I am not sure when I was put on them. I was at least in the third grade, but it might have been before that. I remember taking my pills in peanut butter because I couldn’t swallow them for three years, which is why the smell makes me ill.

I’m not sure if this caused my current mental state or whether it contributed to it, but I’ll never know. There’s no use worrying about it because it won’t change anything except make me blame my parents, and that isn’t something that I want to be bitter over.

I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder at eighteen. It is a form of schizophrenia with milder hallucinations. Usually a better grip on reality, and a mood disorder to go along with the hallucinations, such as depression or bipolar. I have the bipolar type. Even though I was diagnosed as a legal adult, I had been experiencing symptoms since I was fifteen. It is hard to say when I first…[Read More]