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Month: November 2017

Self Doubt is Part of My Life

I am full of self-doubt a lot of the time. I’m not sure entirely why this is, but it’s been around for as long as I can remember. Since I was a child I have second-guessed myself. I doubt my abilities even though I know inside I am capable of doing stuff. I am good at acting, writing, making people laugh, making cookies from random ingredients, being an advocate for my children, and more. But for some reason I doubt myself. Maybe part of that is being human. All I know is that I wish that I could be confident more often. I can bring it out if I need to, but I have to channel it.

Being confident takes practice. Every day I tell myself I am doing the best that I can. Every day remind myself that making mistakes is normal; whatever normal means. I try the best that I can be a good friend and family member. I believe that’s all we can do. In addition to working on ourselves in Therapy whether that’s in person are with an virtual therapist. The most important thing is to keep being self-aware and keep trying to find insight.

I’ve talked about how I don’t like the expression “working on yourself.“ but there sort of isn’t another way to phrase it. You have a “self” and it needs to be “worked on.” That’s what you do in life. It’s a process and I hope that one day I can have more confident days than insecure ones. However, there is power in admitting your insecurities.

There is confidence in being not confident. If you pretend to be confident when you aren’t that doesn’t serve you well. The most important thing that you can do is be true to yourself and that is something I know I am doing. Sometimes I feel down and I honor those feelings. Sometimes I feel anxious and I let myself feel that way because those are my feelings and I’m entitled to them.

I get frustrated with people when they don’t hear my feelings, and I’m entitled to those feelings. There is no right way to be human. There is no right way to exist as one of my best friends Allie Burke once said.

That made me feel so great. Allie has always supported me in my insecure times and I love her for that.

Being human is so hard. But I’m not a cat so I’ll continue being human. Owning who you are is the best thing you can do because then you won’t be disappointed in yourself. I know myself pretty well. I’m aware of my flaws and I’m aware of my strengths. And that is the best that I can do.

Sometimes I wonder if insecurity is (in fact) a strength; I believe it could be. If you’re aware of your weaknesses (for example) when you’re battling an opponent in a fight, then you can overcompensate and win.

What about you? Are you confident or insecure?

Why didn’t you take my advice?

As human beings, we like to be experts and give advice to friends and loved ones. But it isn’t personal when the person does not take your advice. I do come across many people who get upset when another person does not take their advice. I can understand this to some degree but on the other had it doesn’t quite make sense.
You can give people your input about what you think would be helpful for them to do. You can share your life experience with them. However, it is ultimately up to that person to make their own decision about what they’re going to do. As much as you want to help, they might not listen to you and you have to accept that or just continue to feel frustrated about them not listening to you, it’s your choice.
You cannot force someone to take your sage wisdom. that’s just not how it works. They are going to make their own choices regardless of your input, and it’s not a personal affront if they don’t do what you told them to do.
Even therapists and counselors can be offended or have their ego impacted when their clients do not follow their recommendations. I’ve seen this happen with school counselors especially because they believe they know what’s best for their students. When the student doesn’t follow their guidance they get upset. We are all human beings and we have the ability to assess situations and then make decisions accordingly. I think it’s silly for therapists to be offended if a client does not take their guidance because it isn’t about the therapist. It is about the clients’ readiness to follow a treatment plan or not. As my therapist said, if the client can’t do the homework, it’s time to switch gears. They didn’t fail, it just isn’t working for them. That made a ton of sense to me.
If somebody doesn’t take my advice sometimes I get frustrated. Because I spend a lot of time caring about people. And if I disagree with what they have chosen to do it can be hard to watch them. Especially if I feel like their behavior is going to be harmful to them. But people need to be able to make their own mistakes and learn from them.
I have been on the other side of this and had people give me advice that I did not take. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate what they were trying to tell me. I  had a different perspective and I came to another conclusion. I still appreciated the person giving me their perspective and guidance because it was meaningful to me.
Finding our way in life is challenging and we try to help one another by advising each other. It’s natural to want to give advice when you see your friend struggling. But if they don’t take it it isn’t about you just remember that. I have to remind myself of this as well, you are not alone.

What if there’s nothing wrong with us?

What if there’s nothing wrong with us? What if the issue is with society itself. I believe in mental illness because it’s real. Schizophrenia is real- people actually have paranoid thoughts and delusions and see things. Because two of my really good friends are schizophrenic. My disorder is real, anxiety disorders are real, OCD is real, these are all real things. But the thing is that society expects us to do regular things like hold 9-to-5 jobs even though we have mental illnesses; this is not always possible.
I understand that there is a bell curve and there needs to be some standard of “normal“ for the purpose of research and things. But if society were more understanding of peoples issues, maybe these things would not be considered disorders. People operate differently and that’s the beauty of the world. We are unique individuals and we have a variety of symptoms that we manage. But why does it have to be an illness? That’s what I want to know. I am not a walking DSM diagnosis, and neither are you by the way. I am not invalidating your experience, I am saying that we experience symptoms and they are extraordinarily true for us. I just don’t like the idea of telling someone that there something wrong with them.
We all have things to work on in therapy whether that’s with an in-person therapist or somebody on the Internet. But the thing is that it’s sometimes helpful to see things outside of your “disorder.” I want to be clear everything that you live is real and true. I want people to recognize that maybe if society were more understanding of what we go through in terms of the symptoms of mental illness then we wouldn’t be calling it an illness. Not everybody can work a regular workday in an office. For example, I prefer to work from home/remotely.
This helps me with my executive functioning skills and ADHD. Because I have no sense of time it’s really hard to manage my time and it’s easiest for me to do that in a home environment. Plus I have social anxiety and being around massive amounts of people during the workday is difficult for me.
Even the ADA is sort of stigmatizing in my opinion. What it’s saying is that we are required to provide reasonable accommodations for people that have disabilities, which is a great thing. But what that implies is that we have stuff that is considered not “normal.” And so we as a society need to evolve and consider the fact that not everybody falls into this cookie cutter standard of normal.
It’s like they say in therapy it’s not about your diagnosis per se it is about the treatment plan. We experience a variety of symptoms and we can treat those symptoms if we know what they are.
What about you do you find that having a diagnosis is something to help you identify yourself?

Sometimes I’m Glad I’m Disorganized

Sometimes I am glad I’m disorganized. I know that sounds weird, but the people I know who plan every little thing seem unhappy somehow. There will always be a part of me that enjoys living life spontaneously. I get a feeling about something or someone and I go towards that feeling. This can be a great thing or my impulsive nature can get me into sticky situations. I’m trying to find a balance between these two aspects of my personality.

Planning is inevitably a part of life. People plan trips, they plan for their kid’s college fund and before that even happens they plan for marriage. That’s the thing though, how do you plan for a relationship? Do you anticipate what problems may arise in a relationship in the future? It doesn’t seem possible to plan for each and every scenario because life is full of surprises. For example, you can’t predict if your partner will be unfaithful. Sometimes that situation comes out of the blue.

I think that planning is a good thing, but bear in mind that things can go in a different direction as much as you plan. It’s like that expression about making plans and God laughing. That’s pretty much the way life goes. That’s part of the reason I don’t like to plan each and every thing that goes on, because it increases my anxiety. When you have more flexibility and are able to go with the flow, life seems to go more smoothly. I find that when I get rigid with the way things “should” go, I get upset when things don’t go according to what I planned.

So, that’s why I make a conscious effort to be spontaneous. First of all being that way is more fun, and then when something doesn’t work out the way I thought it would, it isn’t a loss because I can just try something else. Life is way less disappointing when you are able to consider different options. It’s also way more exciting to be open to new things rather than being stubborn about the way things should go.

The one area that I have trouble with this is making plans with friends. If I have it in my head that I’m doing something with a friend and that plan gets cancelled, I have to readjust my expectations for the day. I understand that things happen and sometimes people have to cancel. In fact, I sometimes don’t feel like hanging out with people. Whether that’s because of my social anxiety or something happens and I need to cancel. But, generally I try to stick to the plan if I can.

I don’t like missing out on things. I want to enjoy my life and be involved in as many fun projects as I can. And sometimes fun things come up at the last minute and they’re unplanned! That’s fun too! Either way, as long as I am following my intuition, I am happy.

So, what about you? Are you a planner or do you do things on the fly?

Am I bad at relationships?

The short answer to this question is probably yes. I think I have relationship PTSD that dates all the way back to my teenage years. And please do not misunderstand, I am not blaming anyone though I have been accused of that. I was upset about that for a while, but it’s my blog and I can write whatever I want on it. Anyway, I have had several longterm relationships and I’m convinced that I have no idea how to be in a relationship. I think it’s because I have a hard time trusting that the other person will accept my craziness. I am crazy and sometimes it’s hard to deal with, other times it’s a fun sort of crazy. I’m not putting myself down when I call myself crazy. I know that I have neuroses and that is something I am well aware of. So please don’t tell me I am self-deprecating when I say I am crazy. It’s my right to call myself whatever I want. If I say I am a panda, then I’m a panda. If I say I’m crazy, then I am crazy. For example, I have two friends who are Paranoid Schizophrenics and they often get yelled at for referring to themselves as “schizophrenic” by other mental health advocates. To me that’s ridiculous. It’s their right to call themselves what they want. If you don’t like it, oh well. People need to chill about this stuff.

So me and relationships, I not saying that I could never have a successful romantic partnership. I’m saying that I am a complex person who deserves to be with a man who can appreciate that. He needs to understand and love my honesty. He needs to be able to keep up with my level of activity in multiple areas of my life. He needs to accept that I have social anxiety and even though I seem like an extrovert I am not. I am clearly an introvert and sometimes being at parties makes me want to hide in the closet. I can’t handle being around large crowds of people because it’s hard for my anxiety disorders.

I’m not expecting the person to fix me, I just want to be understood. I am a giving and empathetic person who will do anything for someone who loves me and I love back. Okay, this is sounding like a dating profile. I’m not trying to get a man. I am happy being a single mom doing my thing. I don’t need a dude to complete me. And I don’t think anyone should want another person to fix them. I wish that before I had gotten married I had tried to talk that out first. But hindsight is 20/20 as they say, whoever “they” are.

So, are you bad at relationships? I don’t think that’s a terrible thing. We all have challenges and it’s good to recognize what we need to work on. If I can be more trusting of men, perhaps I’ll have a healthy relationship.

If you saw my message why didn’t you respond?

I hate Facebook for many reasons, but one of the biggest ones is that when you send a message to someone, you can see if they read it. It’s hard for me because if they do see it, and they don’t answer me I feel like they are ignoring me. Now, I understand that this is not rational. People are busy leading their lives, having families, doing jobs and things. I have a job and a family too! But, the little thing that reads “seen” at the end of a Facebook message is problematic because it reminds you that you are not that important. If the person sees your message and doesn’t say anything you are left wondering if you offended them, they’re busy, they don’t want to talk to you, or many, many other things. Now, I am guilty of not replying to messages on Facebook after someone sends me them. I have my reasons depending on the context of the message. Sometimes I just get anxious and don’t respond.

If you have an iPhone, the same issue applies. Unless you turn that setting off so people can’t see it, you can see if someone read your message. If they don’t respond after they read it, then you’re left wondering why. This is one of the reasons that technology frustrates me. Maybe we know too much about the inner workings of each other’s brains because of devices. Before cell phones and Facebook, we didn’t know if someone had listened to our voice messages on the answering machine. And taking it a step further, there were days before answering machines when if someone wasn’t home you had to WAIT until they got there to talk to them again. Now, we’re spoiled because we have so much access to people. You can send someone a text and in seconds have a response to your question. In some ways, this is a blessing but in other ways, it stunts our emotional growth. As someone who loves to talk to other human beings, text messaging frustrates me. I would rather have a face-to-face conversation with another human being than interact with a screen.

There is a lot of pressure to respond to things in our world. I am guilty of getting upset when people don’t respond to me too. I’m starting to rethink that though. I want to be more understanding of the fact that people cannot always get back to me instantly. I realize that part of this is my anxiety and I’m working on my behavior but it’s a process. For me, it’s about impatience more than anything else. I want to have an answer to the question I just asked or I want someone to laugh at my joke. Maybe I want to get advice from a friend and their lack of response makes me nervous. Whatever the reason that I don’t get a response, it makes me nervous. But, the reality is that it doesn’t need to. People don’t respond for a multitude of reasons.

What about you? Do you freak out when someone doesn’t respond to you?

Sometimes I want to cry at parties

I don’t particularly like to go to parties. I’m an introvert and it isn’t fun. So, it’s hard for me to be around lots of people. Especially if one of the people hurts my feelings. Yeah, that’s the other thing, I’m sensitive. It’s a drag and it makes me frustrated at times. I would rather be a robot. But instead, I am the complete opposite of that. I am a highly sensitive person and my feelings are easily hurt, unfortunately. So for example, if I were at a party and someone I didn’t know said something to me that hurt my feelings, I wouldn’t say anything to them directly because I don’t know them. Most likely, because of my sensitivity, I would go into the bathroom and cry. When someone hurts my feelings, whether I know them or not, it triggers me and I can’t figure out the exact reason why I’m upset at that moment. It takes me some time to process those feelings. Going into the bathroom gets me away from the situation and helps me be in a safe place. It’s like when I used to cry in the shower and hide from my kids so they didn’t see it happening.

When I feel intense emotions I don’t want anyone to see me. Unless I am extremely close to you, I don’t feel comfortable showing that level of vulnerability to you. There have been times that I’ve cried publicly. I’ve cried at work in various scenarios or on the subway or the bus, but I prefer not to do that. I would rather be in some sort of private setting so that I can process emotions with myself by myself. There have been times that I cried on the train in New York and a random stranger asked if I was okay. That was actually kind of nice. The thing is, sometimes I can’t help it if I have to cry. It’s like having to use the bathroom when you gotta go, you gotta go.

When I have to cry, I have to cry. It’s a matter of where I cry. Having a good cathartic cry is something that can’t be replicated. It’s a distinct feeling and it helps me get my emotions out of my body. When I cry it’s a full body experience. The emotion begins in my chest and then comes out of my eyes. I don’t try to stop myself from crying, although when I was a child I did. I would feel the lump in my throat and try to push it back down because I was embarrassed that I might cry. I cried a lot as a kid. I have always been sensitive and when I was in school, I felt misunderstood. Another kid would make a snide remark about the way I ate my lunch and I would feel that lump in my throat rise. But I didn’t succumb to it, I held my tears inside.

I don’t do that anymore. If I’m at a party, I don’t know you and you hurt me, I am going to excuse myself, go to a private place like the bathroom or a coat closet and cry. It’s my right to feel my feelings.



Working From Home Can Feel Lonely

Working at home can feel lonely. One of the main reasons for this is that you are literally alone. I am at my computer, typing listening to music and there is nobody there but me. That is the essence of being alone. I like that solitude. I am alone with my thoughts. But when I am alone for too long I start to crave interactions with people. I want to be around them. I want to see familiar faces and drink coffee with adults I enjoy being around. Too much alone time isn’t healthy for me, even though I am an introvert. I need that downtime to decompress sure. But I also need to see someone other than myself so that I can get that feedback. I want to have a back and forth dialogue and get that stimulation of talking with someone.

It’s essential for me to feel connected to others and the world. I make myself leave my house during the day to take breaks from working. I am trying to find a local coffee shop where I can work, though I live in the suburbs without a car. This is challenging. But, I know everything will fall into place. I live near the train and I have good friends who have cars, so that helps. I’m also saving money and eventually I will be able to buy a car. But that’s a long-term goal. I know that having a car will open up possibilities for me and actually make me feel less lonely. When you work from home, you don’t actually have to be “home.” You can drive to a communal workspace and work with other people who also have remote jobs. The term “working from home” is actually not accurate in some ways. “Remote’ is more on point when it comes to a job that isn’t in a traditional office. I used to work with an incredible life coach named Eileen O’Grady, who I highly recommend. She asked me if I could see myself doing a full-time job in an office. I said no, and she said: “then you’re an outdoor cat.” I thought that was such a great analogy. I am definitely NOT an indoor cat. I like to be able to move freely and not work in a cubicle.
I have a good friend here and we sometimes meet for coffee during the day to take a break from working. On my lunch hour, I take a walk in the nature center nearby. There are people there that I love talking to and I am surrounded by trees, which are not people but they make me feel great! The most important thing I have to remember when working from home is that isolating isn’t healthy and makes me feel depressed. Even if I am stuck inside, I can call a friend or chat with my pals online. There’s always a way to connect with people even if I am alone.
What about you? Do you work from home? Do you find it lonely?

Reassurance Seeking

People who have anxiety and/or OCD often seek reassurance from other people. I am guilty of this. What this means is, if I’m not sure about whether or not I should do something, I will ask someone I love to reassure me that I’m making the right choice. This is a slippery slope. If friends and family enable this behavior, the behavior will continue. That means your loved ones have to get real with you. The goal for the anxious person is to be able to reassurance themselves or live with the uncomfortable feeling that possibly there is no reassurance. So, for example, I’m in the grocery store. I don’t know whether or not I should get this package of chocolate bars. I’m at the cash register and I desperately want to ask the cashier if she thinks I should get them. That would be reassurance seeking. What could I do instead? I could make the decision independently. To do that I’d have to live with the uncomfortable feeling that I was “making the wrong choice.” Maybe I’m trying to cut sugar out of my diet or maybe I haven’t had chocolate for a while and I feel like treating myself instead.


I can’t ask the cashier if I want to work on reassurance seeking. I need to figure that out on my own.

Another form of reassurance seeking is when you ask someone to tell you that nothing bad is going to happen. So let’s say that I’m eating a bagel and it drops on the floor. I might ask you “is it okay to eat this or should I throw it out?” And then you tell me that the five-second rule applies and I can still eat it. But, even AFTER you tell me that I still ask you again if I can eat the bagel without something bad happening to me. You tell me once again, that I will not die from eating this bagel. Now, I start to get upset, panicky even, maybe I even start to cry and you don’t understand why. I’m in crisis mode now, and it’s about a bagel. You start thinking this is out of control. And you would be right. It’s out of control, but I’m not doing it on purpose. I have OCD and I need you to reassure me that something bad is not going to happen.

Or do I?

No, I don’t. I can develop the internal tools in therapy to reassure myself that nothing terrible will happen if I eat a bagel that fell on the floor. It might be scary for me because I have a fear of germs or whatever, but I can do it. The point is not to rely on other people to help me through this traumatic experience.

Living with mental health issues is never easy. But, when we learn to be more self-reliant, trust ourselves, and use our coping skills effectively we will live more fulfilling lives.

Taking Care of Yourself is Hard, But Worth It

I used to wish there was someone to take care of me, yes as an adult. Why? Because taking care of yourself is hard. I do it every day, and I’m exhausted. I wish I didn’t have to take care of myself. I wish someone would show me some outfit options and let me choose what I wanted to wear the next day. I wish there was someone to make things better in general, but the truth is, only I can make things better for me. There isn’t a person who is going to “fix” things for me. And even if there was I don’t know if I’d actually want that. I remember being in various romantic relationships where we tried counseling. One of the issues that continually would come up was my need to be taken care of as if I couldn’t do it for myself. But I realized after some introspection and work on myself in my own therapeutic process, that I CAN take care of myself, it’s just HARD.

When I was a child, I looked at adults like they were superheroes. They seemed to know things, have everything together, in order, and it all made sense. It was magical, and I couldn’t understand how it was possible. How did they make that happen? They were easily able to keep jobs, pay bills, and maintain their lives. It was mind-boggling.

The thing that prevented me from believing I could take care of myself was anxiety. Because I live with a significant anxiety disorder (or three) I was convinced that I wouldn’t be able to take care of myself. What if I had a panic attack? I wouldn’t be able to function by myself. I’d need the help of another person for reassurance. Due to my anxiety disorder, I often seek reassurance from others. It can be exhausting to them, but for me it’s comforting. I want to know that everything is going to be all right, and at times I don’t seem to have the tools to show myself that. I’m learning, but it’s definitely a process. It’s about learning to trust myself more. I have a mantra that’s worked for me: “I trust me.”

Now that I put myself to the test, moved across the country, got an apartment and started working as a full-time writer, I realized that (without knowing it) I’ve been taking care of myself all along. Sure, I still need people from time to time, but we ALL do. Just because you take care of yourself, doesn’t mean you don’t need other human beings in your life. Those two things aren’t mutually exclusive. I have a better perspective on what it means to take care of myself. It doesn’t mean isolating and pretending like I’m the only person who exists. But, it is about me putting myself first, which for a long time I had a difficult time doing. Now I know that I need to do that in order to be well.

What about you? Do you have trouble taking care of yourself or are you used to doing it?