Self Therapy: Sincerely, Words on a Screen

Writing day. Woo-hoo!

Self therapy can come in many different forms, and writing is certainly one of them. Being diagnosed with a mental illness can feel lonely, and lead to feelings of being misunderstood. When there is no one (or seems to be no one) to listen, we still need an outlet. That is likely why we consistently hear recommendations to write in a journal, on a piece of paper, or even on a blog – anything to express the words floating around in our heads. Don’t let a diagnosis make you feel trapped and alone. Letting our words out can be a very freeing experience.

I spent a bit of time trying to come up with a topic to write on, but what the heck – no creative fiction stories today. Instead I’ll write about how things are in my world as of now. If that sounds boring to you, then you’re probably on the wrong blog .. because this is supposed to be about living with a mental illness. Unfortunately, living with a mental illness does affect my day to day life. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t be here. Time to speak sincerely.

Mental illness affects my day to day life - even more so when the anti-psychotic medications are not working. These Words on a Screen are here because you're not suffering alone, even when it feels that way.

Onward!

About three months ago, I switched to a new anti-psychotic medication because the one I’d been on (off and on) previously was causing problems that could lead to infertility.

A month ago, I got a script for my medicines with enough refills for three additional months, and stopped seeing my psychiatrist – because we’re moving and I have to find a different one after we finish moving.

Now, today, I don’t think the medicine is working. Alas, with a week until we move, it will be some time before I can locate a new psychiatrist. Even after we move, we are only staying temporarily, then moving again in a few months. It all hinges on when we find an apartment in our intended location.

In the meantime …

… the symptoms are getting worse. I’m aggressive at unpredictable moments, very paranoid, seeing and hearing things .. and my poor husband deals with it. Recently, we were shopping and he left me with the cart to go find a few items while I looked for other things on the list. My stupid brain was telling me that a group of store employees were pointing and talking about me. It told me other shoppers were laughing at me, that I was being made fun of. Internally, I was freaked out. So when we got back in the (very hot) car, I was already upset. When my brain told me that pretty much everything my husband said was an insult or mocking (when it was nothing of the kind), that made things worse. It ended with silence in the car, but it was still a crappy experience.

It’s horrible to experience things other people don’t experience, and it’s horrible to get upset with someone who doesn’t deserve it because you’re experiencing something that isn’t real.

While I know Jesus sincerely loves me – that He loves all of us – I just can’t understand why He would let me be created this way. I don’t understand why I have a mental illness. I don’t understand why I have to take medicines that make me gain unwanted weight to make me “normal” when most people can get by with a mug of coffee.

Please ..

If you know someone who is mentally ill – we didn’t ask for this. We don’t want this. Please don’t judge us for what we can’t control.

All of you out there, suffering and trying to pretend you’re fine – whether or not you have a mental illness – you’re not alone. The causes may be different, but we were all created by the same loving God – and He’s out there, listening. I’m just words on a screen, but He is everywhere. You are not alone.

 

Sincerely,

Words on a Screen

Being Productive: Knitting Ornament

With a mental illness, it’s really easy to get bogged down with symptoms and side effects. Unfortunately, this typically means not much (if anything) gets done. When I made this ornament, Christmas was coming up – so of course there were lots of presents to make or buy. Even though this craft was fun and not too difficult, making it was very productive because it became a present.

A simple, easy to make knitting ornament. It's made with items you probably already have!

There are so many crafts on Pinterest – most of them are really cool. Of course I can’t resist trying a few of them out! When I saw this particular ornament, it was screaming my husband’s aunt’s name. (She loves knitting). It didn’t look too difficult, and I already had most of the items needed. After picking up the remaining items, it was time to get to work!

I made it for her for Christmas last year.

A simple, easy to make knitting ornament. It's made with items you probably already have!How to:

It was really simple – I bought a cheap plastic ornament, a hot glue gun with sticks, and made use of my crocheting yarn.

For the knitting needles, I hot glued pony beads on the end of toothpicks and painted them brown.

Just hot glue the yarn on the ornament in a random pattern (like you would find on a yarn ball) and stick the “knitting needles” through the yarn. Maybe hot glue them in place so they don’t get lost.

I’m sure there are better instructions out there – this is just a rough sketch of what I did.

 

P.S. It did get a little tedious gluing the yarn in place and attempting to make sure none of the ornament below showed, however, the look on our aunt’s face when she saw it? Priceless. 

Exercising Memory: Acorn Squash Bread

People who suffer from mental illnesses tend to struggle with their memory. While there isn’t a magic fix to this problem, exercising your memory could help it improve. It won’t happen overnight, but almost all of the best things take time. By now you are probably wondering what making acorn squash bread has to do with improving memory. Well, this is not the easiest bread to make. It is worth the time investment, but there are multiple steps to go through. Remembering where you were in the steps and keeping the process straight is a good exercise for your memory. Now for a little diversion …

Feel free to skip to the bread …

Soon I’ll write about bread, but sometimes it feels like the world is falling apart around me. All I can do is withdraw from it and hope it stops. Wednesday was like that. I’ve been having severe headaches lately, and have been throwing up frequently. When we left for church I already had a bit of a headache, but we still went.

Most noteworthy, our church is small – Wednesday nights just might be the smallest services. That in addition to being in the middle of the pew with people on both sides, and I was trapped. I couldn’t leave without being obvious – but my headache was getting worse and meanwhile, I felt like I was about to barf. Due to the situation, I left; mentally. I wandered into the Border (the name of my reality that other people do not experience) because I could not handle the pain.

After church:

When we came back from church, my husband asked why I seemed so apathetic. I wasn’t, not really – but I wasn’t in charge either. Becca, one of my alters, was in control. She’s the one who can cope with difficult things happening.

A while later I had a breakdown, and sobbed to my husband what had happened. To shorten the story, we’re going shopping for some migraine medicine today…

On to bread:

So. Did you try that recipe for acorn pancakes? If not, now is the perfect time! If you have any leftover acorn squash puree, you can use it in this bread 😉Banana bread is crazy popular - and I can see why, it's so good - and so is pumpkin bread. Isn't it time for a change? Acorn squash bread is moist and mild tasting. You'll love it, and it will be a good change from the usual.

 

For the acorn puree:

  • 1 med sized acorn squash

First of all, cut the squash in half from stem to bottom, and scoop out the inner goodness *

Place cut side up in a baking dish with about an inch of water in the bottom. Cover with foil, and roast until easily pierced with a fork in a 375 oven. Roasting two took me about 1 1/2 hrs. If you’re only roasting one squash, I’d start with 40 min and add on from there. The squash should be very soft and easily mashed. When cool, scoop out the squash, and dispose of the outer peel.

A few more ingredients:
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 3 tbsp butter (or a non-dairy milk if you prefer)
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp nutmeg

Mash the squash before adding the ingredients .. Our squash was so soft after baking that I didn’t actually have to mash it, I just stirred all of the ingredients together. Voila! Now you have acorn squash puree!

Acorn Squash Bread. Delicious!

Ingredients:

Note: This is basically pumpkin bread with acorn squash instead of pumpkin, so if you have a pumpkin bread recipe you’d rather use, you can swap recipes easily. Just make the puree as above. 

  • 3 1/3 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 2/3 c sugar
  • 2/3 c butter, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 c acorn squash puree 
  • 2/3 c water

To make the Acorn Squash Bread:

Preheat oven to 350. Grease two 9x5x3 in loaf pans.

In a med. bowl, mix all dry ingredients (except sugar) – flour through baking powder; set aside.

With a mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, puree, and water until blended. At low speed, beat in flour mixture. Spoon into loaf pans.

Bake 65-75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 min. remove from pans and enjoy!

*Note*

(I like to wrap my extra loaf in foil to store until the first loaf is gone. If the first loaf will take more than a few days to eat, I would slice the second loaf and freeze it in individual baggies or individually wrapped. You can defrost it in the microwave or toaster.)

Makes 2 loaves

*You can roast the seeds just as you would pumpkin seeds – spread them out on a cookie sheet, spray with olive oil, and sprinkle with your favorite seasonings. Roast at 350-375 (hotter works better for us) until golden brown (about 10-15 min give or take .. I didn’t really time ours)