Your Emotional State is Reflected in Your Surroundings

My mom has always said that the state of my room is a direct reflection of the state of my mind. My bedroom was always a pigsty growing up. So you can imagine how I felt on the inside. 

Teen angst to the max.

And that hasn’t changed.

Well, it’s changed a little. I’m no longer pining after boys who are way out of my league and wondering why they don’t notice me. I’m not crying over girls who won’t let me into their clique. I’m not struggling with geometry homework and wishing math didn’t exist. Okay, I’m still wishing math didn’t exist. I’m also still buying Clearasil.

The point is, the principle hasn’t changed. Even though I’m a grown adult now, what my mom said is still true. It’s not the bedroom that I share with my husband that is the problem, though; it is my room, my walk-in closet. It is frequently in shambles. (In my defense, it’s not big enough. I need a whole other room. Just for my shoes.) The floor of my closet is not visible often, with shirts, jeans, shorts, dresses, and other articles of clothing covering every inch of the hardwood. I always wonder, how did it get like that? I don’t remember messing it up.

Just like my train of thought. Often I’ll start thinking, and then thinking some more, until I think myself into a very dark, bad place. I never realize I’m doing it until I get to that place. Or I’ll have so many things on my mind at once, and it feels like everything is bombarding me, until I completely stress myself out and head for a panic attack.

I need a bigger closet, and I need a bigger brain. More room to sort through these thoughts and file them nicely and neatly into separate folders. And perhaps a GPS for both my closet and brain to let me know when we’re headed for disaster. 

Since I doubt I’ll get a bigger closet, a bigger brain, or a GPS for either one, I suppose I have to work with what I have. The logical solution to me is to get rid of some stuff. In both cases. Get rid of clothes I don’t wear, of shoes I don’t wear…and at the same time, get rid of the negative thoughts that plague my brain.

My closet was in a terrible state earlier this week. I didn’t know where anything was; it was hard to get dressed. It caused stress. Yet I had no desire to clean it. None. On a sidenote, I was also in a horrible place mentally. I didn’t have the motivation to do much. I simply didn’t care. I had so many other things on my mind, the thought of tackling that closet seemed pretty daunting. I left the clothes where they were.

Today I woke up with a different mindset. I decided I wanted to be able to find the clothes I wanted when I got dressed. Though I couldn’t change some of the things happening that were occupying my mind, I could control this. I need to start taking care of that which I can control, and try not to dwell on that which I can’t control.

So I played some music and hung up all my clothes. It took a little while, but it actually wasn’t so bad. Now that it’s done, I’m happy. I feel relieved. Lighter. It won’t be as stressful now to get dressed.
So listen to your moms. They’re right. Now my goal is to keep my closet clean all year long. Hopefully that means I’ll maintain a positive mindset at the same time.

Just don’t ever think I’ll clean out my car.

Stop Letting Fear Hold You Back

Do one thing every day that scares you.

I’ve been trying to live by this motto for a while now. I don’t want to go through life being “safe,” never escaping my comfort zone. I want to try new things that I normally wouldn’t, and do some stuff that would be uncharacteristic of me otherwise.

So I fairly recently got a new job. Now, this might not sound scary to most people, but it was for me. I haven’t worked a steady job outside of my home for a while, and though the idea excited me, it also made me nervous. 

First, there was the interview. Then, the second interview. Then, the job offer. Every step in the process made me a little anxious. Then came the job training.  A lot of it was computer-based, which didn’t scare me, but when we got to the hands-on portion…well, there’s a lot to know when it comes to selling shoes. A lot more than I’d have ever thought about. So I was pretty nervous as I learned each new aspect, trying to cram room in my already full brain for more information that needed to fit in somewhere.

The good part about this has been that everyone who’s trained me has been super nice and understanding. They’re not expecting me to learn everything perfectly the first time, as they’ve been through the process, too. That’s what’s made this whole experience so great – the people.

My first actual day on the job was an eight-hour day. I was completely freaking out before I went in, wondering how I’d pull this off, considering I didn’t feel too prepared…at all. But I got there and I think it went extremely well. One of the customers I helped told a manager that I was “very, very helpful and very nice,” and the manager told me that I “did amazing.” Those are always reassuring words. Plus I got to meet a lot of new, nice people…and be surrounded by the loves of my life. Shoes!

So take a risk. Apply for that job you think you’ll never get, or maybe you even think you’re “above” it. Well, times are tough. Sometimes you might need to swallow your pride and go after what you can get. You never know how it’ll turn out…maybe it’s where you’re meant to be. At least for right now.

And this philosophy doesn’t only apply to the job market. Doing things that scare you could include asking someone on a date who you’ve been too afraid to approach. Or signing up for a class you’ve been too nervous to commit to. This applies to any area of life. It’s just something that’s become sort of a personal challenge to me, a way to live life to its fullest, I guess. 

Do one thing every day that scares you.

The point is, to get up, and walk right out of your comfort zone. You could even run out of it.  Or saunter. Skip! Regardless…

I can sell you the shoes.

The Power of Addiction

It saddened me very much when I learned that Lisa Robin Kelly had died, the girl who played Eric Forman’s sister on That ‘70s Show.  Sure, she’s not a household name, and she hasn’t acted in anything we’ve seen since she got booted from the show.  Still.
I remember seeing her in the news here and there, all for reasons no one would be proud of.  Kelly, like so many young celebrities in the public eye, sadly succumbed to her addiction.

Kelly was an alcoholic who had just checked herself into a rehab facility.  She was determined to clean her life up.  Unfortunately, she went into cardiac arrest and died in her sleep while at the treatment center.

I was completely distraught when I saw that Cory Monteith had passed away.  Though I’d recently read that he’d been rehab, there hadn’t been much more written about it; it seemed under control, okay.  It blew my mind to read, “Glee Star Dead,” and learn that it was him.  I love the show for so many reasons.  Truly love it.  And Monteith just seems like the least likely person to have a drug problem…which just demonstrates that even though there are stereotypes about drug users, anyone can be a drug user.  Mr. Clean-Cut All American Boy can have a heroin addiction.  And he did.

.  I feel a connection with these celebrities we read about who are struggling with, or have overcome, some sort of addiction.  I understand the weakness…the power a substance can have over someone…how hard it is to stop.  

You’ll see a section in celebrity magazines sometimes pointing out that Celebrities Are Just Like Us!  Well, they are.  Famous or not, that addictive quality within us is all the same.  All the money in the world can’t fix an addiction.  The fanciest treatment centers in the world can’t fix an addiction.  A team of people who do everything for you can’t fix an addiction.

Only the addict can fix the problem.  And it’s not simple.  It’s a lifelong process.  Part of the reason celebrities relapse so often is because they go back to hanging out with the exact same people they were hanging out with when they were using.  No different with people like you and me.  If you want to stay sober, you have to change your life.  You might lose some friends.  In the long run, it’s worth it.  They were never your real friends anyway.

If you ever take the time to read underneath any of the articles online that publish news of a celebrity’s death due to overdose, you’ll really see how cruel people are and how little empathy they have.  It’s sickening.  Would they use the same words to write about one of their friends? Most people also believe addiction is a choice, not a disease.  I believe that it is a disease, and a very powerful one. It’s easy to scoff at something you have no idea about.  If that’s the case, I think it’s better to keep your mouth shut.

Of course this is all just my humble opinion.  The humble opinion of an addict.

My Last Rock Bottom

I have written a book.

It’s a memoir about why I quit drinking, called My Last Rock Bottom. So as you can imagine, it contains some pretty…interesting material. I’m a little nervous about it.

I’m not sure what people will think of me once they read about some of the things I’ve gone through…I’m worried about being crucified for some of the bad decisions I’ve made, even though I’m on the right path now.

I’m super terrified about what people think.
The question is, why? Why do we care so much about what other people think of us? Or maybe you’re one of those lucky people who don’t care what anyone thinks. You have no idea what I’d give to be one of those people. I drive myself nuts caring about the opinion of others…even when it comes to those I don’t like. 
For instance, the description of some of my ex-boyfriends in my memoir is not exactly flattering. And I’m scared of what these guys will possibly think about that…but then, of course, I have to remind myself that my ex-boyfriends don’t read.

Still, I wonder…what is it that lies within us that causes us to seek the approval of everyone? I understand that I am completely neurotic, so maybe I just care more than most people do.
I want to be able to publish my book without all these insecurities creeping in…I want to feel confident about my writing and be able to express myself freely without the judgment of others weighing so heavily on my mind. I take comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one who craves everyone’s acceptance. I do wonder how many people out there are like me when it comes to this. I wonder what causes some of us to care so much, while others can simply let things roll off their backs. I want to know how I can be more like that.

So ask yourself about this. Are you someone who worries a lot about what everyone else thinks? And if so, why? And is there anything you can do to change it? I’ve been trying to change my thinking. It’s hard. It’s also exhausting wanting everyone to like me all the time, though. It should be okay with me if someone doesn’t like me. There isn’t a person living or deceased who is liked by everyone. I’ve even heard people criticize Mother Theresa. If she isn’t liked and admired by everyone on the planet, then there’s certainly no hope for someone like me. I just need to learn to be at peace with the idea that not everyone is going to adore me. I need to focus on the people who do love me for me. I need to not compromise myself by bending over backwards trying to win everyone over. I can’t mold myself into what might be everyone’s ideal.

You will never please all of the people, all of the time.
As much as I don’t want to care about potential negative book reviews, I know I will care. The key is learning to be okay with it. I need to publish this book and never look back.

If you are one of those people who cares too much about what everyone thinks, try to work on that. If you’re someone who doesn’t care, try to help the rest of us, like me.

Perhaps by surfing the Internet, stumbling upon Amazon, and buying my book when it comes out on November 11.

This Is It

This is it.

The levy is approaching rapidly, and we still need people who care to vote for this levy, the levy that will provide the Mental Health Recovery and Services Board with more funding, which will go towards better, and newer programs that can be utilized by the public. 

I’ve been blogging a lot about the levy in general, about what some of the organizations are which are underneath the umbrella of the We Care People.  I always love hearing reactions from the public, considering they are the voters.  So I’ve been asking some of them about their opinions on the levy.

The Auglaize Council on Aging said, “The mental health issue I do support;  it helps many elderly residents in Auglaize County.”
Valerie Coffey, of Wapakoneta, said, “Keeping services available and ahead of trending needs are critical. We are all affected by mental health, our own and that existing in our communities. If one is not mentally ill he should want the same for others. Treatment is not all pills.  Counseling and peer support options are integral parts of overcoming and coping with addiction, depressive issues, grief, family stresses...we all need to be heard and feel we matter. Having many approaches and options gives better outcomes and having help locally helps people get to needed services more readily. I want a strong MHRSB for a strong community.”

I also spoke with Christina Ryan Claypool, who said,  “It is rather easy to overlook supporting a mental health levy when so many other pressing needs seem to abound. Yet as an individual who has been on both sides of the mental health coin, I can assure you that it is a societal responsibility. After all, those in need of mental health services like I once was as an emotionally depressed and suicidal teenager growing up in Lima, are unable to advocate for themselves. The marginalized, the addicted, and those who have lost hope are unable to speak up for themselves. We must champion their cause. The MHRSB is there as a voice for today, and as a bridge to a better tomorrow for the local residents suffering from the very real pain and turmoil that mental illness creates. Give these hurting ones hope by casting your vote. It's one important way to show them that their community really cares!"

These are just a few of the responses I have gotten from people I have spoken with.  The bottom line is, we all seem to be advocates for this mental health levy.  And that is fine.  That is great!  But now we need to prove it by voting for this levy on November 5.  Please take the time to come out and show your support by casting your vote.

We need you!

Help the We Care People Pass the Levy

We’ve been talking a lot about the levy recently.  That just goes to show how important it is.  On November 5, voters will have the opportunity to support the proposed levy for the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board for Allen, Auglaize, and Hardin counties. 
There is a strong need for mental health care in our communities.  Addiction is becoming more and more prevalent, for one thing, and the funds available to help those fighting addiction is decreasing.  That cannot continue if we want to help those in need of help the best we possibly can.

It is not necessarily addiction, however, that we need to address and help to improve.  Overall mental health is something the passing of this levy will focus on.  Whether you know it or not, chances are that someone in your life is struggling in some way, either with addiction, or an issue with mental health.  The reason you might not know about it is because our society is not yet fully comfortable with this issue.  There is still a stigma associated with mental health, and the MHRSB (We Care People) is attempting to erase that stigma.  Passing this levy, which will provide more funding, which in turn will provide more people with adequate treatment, will help to get rid of the stigma society has placed on mental illness.  The more people ask for help, the more the stigma disappears.  And the only way to help those who ask for help is to have enough funding to be able to help everyone.  That, in turn, produces better citizens and a better society.

SAFY (Safe Alternatives for Families and Youths) is a non-profit organization providing services for children and youth, and adults in some cases.  SAFY utilizes proven, evidence-based programming and offers, just to name a couple, substance abuse counseling and group counseling.  The more funding the MHRSB receives, the more people SAFY can help.  Diane Gable, director at SAFY, said of the levy’s passing, “We would be able to touch the lives of many instead of the few that present themselves to our mental health offices. Everyone has been touched by mental illness in some way, shape, or form, and it is important for people to know that there is help and it is manageable as well as preventable.”

Another valuable resource for children and adults alike, is PAX.  This is a research-based, proven classroom management structure involving kids “competing against” each other to earn rewards by refraining from class disruptions, inattention, or aggressive behavior.  Twenty studies have shown that classrooms that have implemented PAX reduced classroom disruptions 50-90%, and longitudinal studies show that children who have been involved with PAX are less likely, down the road, to demonstrate violent behavior or engage in drug use.  With the passing of this levy, more classrooms can be equipped with PAX.

Sara Dieringer, who is a PAX coach for grades K-12 in the St. Marys school district, said of the levy, “Well, the levy is important to me because it will allow expansion of programs in schools, including PAX. Obviously it's different for everyone, but I think we can all agree that with the passing of the levy more people will get services they need to address their mental health or substance abuse issues. PAX has proven to be beneficial to teachers and students in a short period of time. In the classrooms I'm involved with I have already seen less disruptions which allows for more teaching time. PAX brings out the best in the kids, and peer relations are improving. 

The passing of the levy means something different to everyone.  The one common thread, however, is that it will improve the lives of many.  Drastically.  Please help us care by voting to pass the levy on November 5.

Let's All Help to Improve the Community

I just celebrated my two-year sobriety anniversary on October 8.  That same day, I had a three-hour interview at Wright State University in Dayton, to get into their Rehabilitation Counseling:  Chemical Dependency Program.  At the end of the interview, I was told to expect to get a letter between one and three weeks, confirming if I’d been accepted or not.  I got an e-mail an hour and a half later, stating that I’ve been accepted.

Part of the reason I want to become a counselor for people with chemical dependencies is because I’ve had my own issues, and I want to help people with theirs.  I can relate to them.  Another reason I want to do it is because since I’ve been writing for the We Care People, it’s reinforced my passion for mental health awareness and wanting to help people.  Everyone who works for them wants to help people.  It’s in the title.

This is why the upcoming levy is so crucial.  The need for treatment of people with mental illness has risen, while the funding to provide that need has gone down.  We can’t help people to our best capacity in that situation.  And everyone deserves the opportunity to receive help and to become a fully functioning person in society.

Some people may think the levy doesn’t affect them, so why should they vote for it?  Well, it affects everyone.  The people who make up the society we live in will be affected in a positive way, and those people are the same ones who will hold jobs that will directly affect us.  Whether they go into nursing, retail, or the food services industry, they will affect us in some way.  Everyone we come into contact with us.  And wouldn’t you want the people who are affecting you day in and day out to be working up to their potential?  The passing of this levy will increase funding for the We Care People so that the people who are helped by us get the best possible treatment, improving the overall atmosphere in which we live.

This is also about the Golden Rule.  If you were an addict, someone with depression, or someone with PTSD, wouldn’t you want to be helped as much as you could?  We should want the same thing for our fellow citizens.  I have bipolar disorder.  I can say firsthand that, had I never received treatment, I don’t even know if I’d be here right now.  Care is so important.  

I hope to one day work somewhere like Coleman Behavioral Health, in part because I’ve seen how dedicated and caring the staff is.  They don’t turn people away.  They could do even more, serve more people, and serve them better if this levy passes.  
This is about equal rights.  We should all have the right to thorough health care, including mental health care.  This November, please help us by supporting this levy.

Please help us care.

About Me

I have an MA in literature from Eastern Michigan University and I write a couple of regular columns for The Delphos Herald. I am the mother of two young girls, and the wife of a firefighter. I am also bipolar (with generalized anxiety disorder) which somewhat accounts for my occupied mind. I rely on sarcasm the way others rely on oxygen.
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