How Pitching A Tent Has Increased My Independence

Last week, my therapist told me he was taking a new job and could no longer have a private practice or see me.  I had mixed feelings about this. I have been working with him for about a year and he is the first therapist I have worked with who has provided valuable information that has really helped me make changes I thought were impossible. I have a way better understanding of how my mind, body, and spirit all work together.  I am so much better at combating anxiety, worry, and the fear of negative interactions with other people. I have become more assertive and do not let myself believe that my needs and feelings are less important than those of others. I have a lot more clarity, strength, and overall sense of calm.

While it is hard to end that relationship, it is clear that now I am equipped to do so.  As a counselor, I know it is important to discontinue seeing, or “break up” with my therapist.  If done right, the point is to be able to take what I have learned and put it to practice.  There comes a time when it is up to me to continue without a regular appointment.  Discontinuing therapy does not mean that now I am on my own and have to face the world with no support.  The support just starts to look different. Sometimes, part of therapy is to build support and know how to support others.  I have no problem building my community and being someone who cares for others, so I am sure I am not alone moving forward.

One of my goals was to start being more independent.  I have never been afraid to ask for help, but sometimes, that left me being dependent on others and not pushing hard enough to do something on my own. It can be hard to know if I am able to do certain things because sometimes I lack clarity and don’t trust myself. At times, I am not sure if I am scared, frustrated, or if I actually cannot physically or mentally complete the task.

To practice my independence this summer, I tried to do things I had never done on my own.  These things had to be concrete so I knew I was making progress. One of the things I did was go camping and figure out how to set up and take down my site all by myself.  In the past, I always shared a tent with someone and was never very helpful.  I depended on others to do it the “right” way while I mostly just sat back and watched. Doing this a few times has been just the thing to increase my confidence and I know I am able to do things by myself.

I am aware that most people are able to pitch a tent without second-guessing themselves. This is just symbolic of how I have been able to step back and recognize that I had some pretty big misconceptions about what I can and can’t do. I live in a beautiful state with endless opportunities to play outside any time of year. For some reason, I have always lacked the confidence to make room in my life to play outside more often. I relied on other people to take the lead. While I know it is not smart for me to explore the outdoors by myself with little knowledge, I have the courage to take a more active role. It is so good for me to breathe fresh air, challenge myself with new activities, and just get super dirty. Having done this simple thing this summer, I have noticed myself taking more opportunities for independence.

I am so grateful to have had the experience of working with my therapist.  I love knowing that I am able to do more than I think I can.  Over the last year, the work we did has changed me. No matter how hard it looks, I will now try new things on my own. SO, now that we all know that I can pitch my own tent, who wants to go play outside with me??

Be Well.

I went looking for a song about being an independent woman, really liked this one, and then saw it was at a Stand Up To Cancer event. How interesting… Enjoy!

 

I’ve Got 99 Coping Skills and Doing Nothing Ain’t One

Chrisjones-meditate-chillThe best way I get through life is to be prepared.  I have a plan in place for times when I need to address my bigger feelings such as sadness, anger, loneliness, hurt, disappointment, fear, nervousness, excitement, love, inspiration, hope, and anticipation. When you read through that list, you may not have been expecting “positive” feelings. In my life, my emotions can be very big and magnified.  I have learned to accept this because it is hard to change who I am and I don’t think I necessarily have to.

Because my emotions arrive somewhat like a tidal wave, I have discovered they aren’t going to magically go away and I have to find ways to feel calm and safe when they rush in. Even my excitement and motivation come with a strong force.  People who know me have most likely seen the wave pretty quickly.  I sometimes feel apologetic. Really, I want to apologize to myself for the discomfort.

Instead of getting into the big cycle of judgement, blame, or embarrassment, I have learned that I have to feel my emotions, AND I have the choice to handle them however I want.  The way I do this is to accept my discomfort and use my VERY LONG list of coping skills.  Coping skills don’t have to be this big ordeal.  They can simply be a distraction. Sometimes, they are very productive. Many times, the first thing I try isn’t the thing that works.  At times, I have to try and combine multiple things in hopes for a good outcome.

My top coping skills are:

  1. Calling my friends and family to ask for help
  2. Walking around the lake
  3. Doing laundry
  4. Going to the movies
  5. Working out at the pool
  6. Making crafts
  7. Writing
  8. Going out to eat
  9. Dancing
  10. Singing
  11. Talking to my therapist
  12. Scrolling through Facebook
  13. Leaving my house
  14. Getting a pedicure
  15. Using essential oils
  16. Looking through my pictures
  17. Using grounding techniques like tapping, meditation, and observing things around me
  18. Counting
  19. Spending time being silly with my Best Friend/Roommate, Rob

Those are just a few of my many. I  found this list of 99 coping skills if you are interested in creating your own list and need inspiration. These skills are good to have handy in your mind because we all need them at some point or another.  There does not even have to be a big event or feeling to use them.  For the most part, we are all coping with simply being alive.

Be Well

 

 

How Drew Brings Humor To My Depression

I have been having a really hard time with my depression this weekend.  Yesterday, I wrote a whole post about it.  It was terrible, depressing, and just not something to share. So, I thought I would tell you about my friend, Drew.  I have known Drew since I had just turned 17. We have had many adventures together; we toured around the world, vacationed in California, Hawaii, Illinois, Colorado, Montana, Arizona and maybe some places I forget.  We have walked miles and miles in Detroit dragging suitcases just so we didn’t have to pay for transportation to a wedding. He pushed me around Disney World in a wheelchair. We even stood in line for almost a whole day in the blazing heat so we could see Barack Obama speak at the DNC in Denver.

There have been months where we didn’t talk and years when we didn’t see each other. That really has never had any impact on how much we start to laugh the moment we see each other. In fact, Drew makes me feel like I might be the funniest person he has ever met! We have shared some heartbreaking moments as well. Most recently, Drew’s mother was being treated for cancer at the same time I was. Talk about a difficult time for him (Thank God both of us got through it and are both healthy now.)

One thing Drew has always understood is my depression.  Every once in a while, he REALLY gets it. The last time he was here, I showed him my magical sleep set- up:

 

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The first thing he said was, “OMG! I bet this makes you so happy!” He understood that my environment was really important. He even went home and made a few improvements himself!

Back to the real reason I started talking about Drew. One time, he knew I was really depressed, so he sent me a magical cartoon that explained someone else’s experience with depression. He was spot on, and I knew he really got how I was feeling.  This cartoon came to mind yesterday when I was feeling like nothing was going to help. I tried to look it up and found something better! These videos are from the blog: hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com

I am attaching 2 videos about depression from this author because they help describe what I go through.  If you are looking for something that will make you laugh until you cry, or cry until you laugh, check them out!

I hope this helps someone!

Be Well