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We all like standing out at certain points in our life. There’s something satisfying about being recognized when something good happens or we get embraced for being unique. But deeply ingrained in human behavior is also a desire to be accepted on common ground and have others relate to us. The security and strength we find in fitting in is something we seek by nature and unfortunately that’s especially true when it comes to negatives.
We live in a world populated by billions of living beings, but at the same time we’re born into the world being obsessed with ourselves and seldom grow completely out of putting ourselves as first priority. With that mindset it can be easy to frame our daily experiences in a bubble and forget that there are billions of people around us living their lives. For most, being alone in a victory is no problem but in comparison when we are having a negative experience seemingly alone it can be a completely different experience. It can get dramatic and while we frame it in a bubble we forget to look outside ourselves and gain true perspective.
I’m personally no stranger to bad things happening. I’ve always had pretty poor luck in the health department and a lot of it hit me hard and fast. What helped me start changing my perspective was when my mother told me to consider that everyone has something. That’s not meant to be a depressing thing really. It’s more of a way to ground yourself during tough times. When you think about the issues you’re having in a sort of concentrated state it can make the problem seem bigger than it actually is or give you a little too much room to ruminate on it and inflate it to an unrealistic proportion.
When I really thought about it from that different perspective, I realized what it truly meant was that every person has personal struggles they’re coping with on a daily basis. Some of them might be worse off then you and some might be close to being in the same boat as you. It made me stop and realize that it wasn’t all about me and I wasn’t the only person in the world dealing with a difficult situation. It made it somehow lighter to realize the world wasn’t just hammering down on me while everyone else was fine and it forced me to leave the personal bubble I was in.
When we really think about solving a problem or moving on from a rut,it adds weight and intensity when we come from a mindset of fighting alone. Realizing you aren’t alone in struggling with life helps you reach a point where you can breathe and recover. It’s encouraging because it helps you realize you aren’t alone and there is a way out. So the first step to overcoming your heavy burden may just be realizing others are carrying burdens and making life happen around you. Don’t consider it mass misery but rather find the solidarity and strength in the human race’s ability to make it and make it work for you.
When bad things happen it makes perfect sense to be a little down about it. Finding positives in a negative situation is a challenge for a lot of us and no amount of intelligence,strength, or resources can change that fact. Once you gain perspective you will be initially left with a still existing problem and an unclear idea of how to address it. But improving your outlook is a really a perspective flip away.
People who are successful in life don’t get that way out of denial. They get through with a sense of realism and determination. Turning negatives into positives is a choice and an effort. It’s not something that will come overnight or easily. It’s something you have to want,commit to, and work toward. Any negative experience we have can also be translated into a chance to learn and grow. Instead of being depressed about being ill you gain strength finding new ways to live well and meet your goals. Instead of seeing debt as the end of the world you can look at it as a chance to learn a better way to handle your money so when you work your way out of that hole it doesn’t happen again. Instead of seeing an ended relationship as an emotional crisis you can see it as an opportunity to reassess your relationship goals and the person you find most ideal.
When we try to seek value in our negative experiences it changes the perspective of the situation as a whole. It will still be hard and it will still take time and patience to recover but it means when you do recover you come out with thicker skin and a fresh outlook.
When we have problems it is instinctual to seek information and answers. But what really matters is where we’re seeking those answers. We live in a world with a lot of technology readily available so it is very common to turn to a thing before a person when we need to accomplish something. But your biggest downfall when dealing with a problem may be asking Google instead of a human being.
The people around you are dealing with things just like you are and a lot of them have possibly been through things and learned things that you can benefit from. The value in how a person finds solutions is that the human mind isn’t controlled by a programmed algorithm. Humans can listen and advise in a dynamic and emotional manner. They can truly engage you and that makes a big difference. A machine can’t process an experience like a person, so relying on it to advise you on personal problems can result in a lot of disappointment.
But asking for help can be a challenge for a lot of people. We live in a society that stresses success and independence so having to humble yourself and ask for advice can be a tough pill to swallow. Key to becoming an adult is getting to a point where you realize you can’t be a one-man band. There’s absolutely no shame in needing help from others and the amount of wisdom languishing around you while you cradle your personal pride in your arms is worth a lot more than getting it done without reaching out for help.
Next time you have a tough situation to turn around, don’t Google it and don’t ask Siri. Once you learn to recognize that there are billions of rich resources of wisdom and experience co-existing around you,you can begin appreciating the strength and support that can be found in actually engaging other people and turn your problems around in a much more timely and satisfying manner.
We’ve all heard the saying that misery loves company and that can be a very real situation when we’re dealing with problems. The tendency to want to vent isn’t really the difficult part but what we often don’t do as readily is get the full experience of sharing our thoughts and problems with another person. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with venting our problems but what we want to avoid is transferring our problems and not using the experience to work toward a solution.
Much like when we talk at and not to a person, we instinctively vent our problems in a manner that is self-serving. We want to complain and we want to spread how bad we feel but we don’t always stop to let the other person weigh in or give advice. If no exchange occurs than you are in fact not having a conversation and that’s demeaning to the other person. All it really accomplishes is spreading the negative emotions and you walk away still having a a problem.
One of the things to consider next time you want to vent is how bad it feels to not be listened to. Doing a wrongful act toward another person won’t make you feel better or solve your problem. Instead, try to adopt a new approach. If you’re going through a tough time, don’t just dump on another human being as your first instinct. Carefully consider who to talk to and make an effort to engage the person. It’s not all about you. That person is also investing their time and energy to listen to you so make sure you convey your appreciation and respect for that.
If the person offers advice, the polite and mature thing is to listen to it. Consider it and do what you want with it later but for the time being you need to respect the person enough to listen and be open-minded. Real conversations foster growth and learning so you might be surprised how venting in the midst of real dialogue can actually improve how you feel and possibly get you closer to a resolution.
Misery and company don’t have to go together. Learning to see the positives in our negative experiences and growing from them can make your next ordeal not the end of the world. Likewise, accepting that you aren’t the only one suffering in the world and respecting the battles the people around you are fighting can give you the right perspective to stop spreading misery and start sharing wisdom. One of the greatest things we can do as people is be there for each other so next time you’re frustrated at how bad luck is singling you out,try broadening that horizon and finding strength in the human experience before you rush to drag someone down with you.
Have you ever been called weird? Have you ever called another thing or person weird? The dictionary defines weird as being of strange or extraordinary character but how often do we question the other perspective. How often do we think about what it really means to be normal?
It seems like we live in a world where it appears relatively easy and natural to point out what we deem abnormal so you would think we have a pretty solid idea of what normal is. The dictionary defines normal as conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern. So what is the standard for normal? Is there a standard for normal? While we can all agree that normalcy is a valid state of affairs I think it would be impossible to get matching answers on what defines a person or thing as normal.
But like most words, normal does mean what it means. Likewise and still in line with words, that meaning is also dynamically interpreted person to person. In the same sense that we all think differently, we all build our own standards for normal over time. Those standards are built on a basis of life experiences,environment, and opinion. But this is only one part of looking at what the true meaning of normalcy is.
When we think about normal we need to consider there are two varieties of normal. There’s a subjective normal and an objective normal. Objectively there are a number of things most people can agree are normal or abnormal. These situations are ones based on laws,economic standards,verified facts, or the base nature of something. For instance, if you’re on a two lane highway and someone is driving the opposite direction of the one specified for a lane it is abnormal because a concrete law is in place. If a woman goes into a men’s room it’s abnormal because the door and basic social practice tells us which restroom is appropriate.
But what about subjective normal? Not every situation is fully governed by something concrete and that’s where we substitute our personal definition of normal to fill the gap. Our personal sense of normal changes based on where we are, who we’re with, and even smaller factors like weather or what day it is. In other words, our scale for what rates as normal constantly evolves to suit our immediate circumstances. An example of this would be what you consider normal in your home environment and around more intimate company is completely unique from what you see as normal in your workplace and around colleagues.
But the real magic and what truly constitutes as your normal is the unique way those two aspects mingle. Like the right and left hemispheres of the human brain running in harmony, our definition of normal is a unique intermingling of our objective and subjective standards, resulting in our unique and one-of-a-kind viewpoint of normal. So next time you move to point out something abnormal in your environment,stop and think. It may seem perfectly natural to judge something we consider out of place but in perspective it can be a lot more interesting and accurate to look at it as just a different variation of normal.
So maybe you can accept that normal isn’t a completely concrete standard but the next question is whether it’s good or bad to be normal. If you go by the idea that everyone’s normal is a little different, what that really means is that what we’d consider here is conformity and not normalcy. Conformity is basically what happens when we adjust ourselves to fit someone else’s normal or a more objective situation.
Depending on the situation, a little bit of conformity isn’t a completely bad thing. There will be situations like working,group social events, or even major life events where the better option is to consider at least partial conformity. But there will also be situations where it’s better to trust your sense of normal and not try to shape yourself to someone else’s. How are you supposed to know when to do that?
The answer is really kind of grey. It has a lot to do with the particular circumstance but also some dependency on the concepts of right and wrong. Sometimes when we observe something as abnormal or disagree with it, it’s because it actually is something we have a logical reason to reject. For instance, let’s look at a funeral. There are a number of ways to grieve and in some ways we can’t say they’re right or wrong. You can definitely question them or find them right or wrong but at the end of the day this might be an area where there’s no difference in whether you conform or do what’s natural to you. But there are some objectively wrong things to do at the same type of event such as showing up in your birthday suit,talking ill of the dead, or not showing some basic condolences to the family.
Really the decision to either go with your normal or try to blend into someone else’s will be up to you and probably a partial decision more than a full one. It’s unhealthy in a sense to ever completely change yourself according to someone else’s standards. You should think,form opinions, and be your own person but temper it with a little conforming when necessary. Being normal doesn’t have to mean not being you. It just means you do you by a few slightly different guidelines when the situation calls for it.Understanding that sometimes we need to fly our freak flag a little lower for the best success in a situation can be a great sign of maturity and also shows that we’re acknowledging the people around us.
Understanding the true nature of what it is to be normal might really make you wonder if it’s actually possible to be normal. If you think in terms of something being a variation of normal as opposed to abnormal then there are billions of defining standards of normal just co-existing in the world. My idea of normal isn’t your idea of normal and both of our normals are different from a third person’s normal.
I think whether or not a person can truly be normal is a question you can’t truly answer because to some degree what’s normal is that we’re all a little strange in a way. I actually sort of prefer that way of thinking. When I think about other people in that sense it makes it much easier for me to accept them for who they are as opposed to trying to squeeze them into a mold made from just my personal standards. It’s a strange thing to consider, but every time we jump to labels or judging something based on our own personal measuring stick we disrespect the world and people around us a little and possibly miss out on an enriching or engaging experience.
When I think about individual people as not part of a grouping but rather as a group of weirdos I feel more like I want to appreciate each of those people for who they are. So is it possible to be normal? I personally don’t think so and I frankly kind of like that. The less we worry about deciding if something is normal, the more we can appreciate that the world is full of unique people and experiences that offer something for us to discover.
So what is normal? At the end of the day there may not actually be a true sense of normalcy because each of us ultimately forms our own perceptions of what constitutes as normal. So while we can definitely define it as a word, it’s important and a bit surreal when you realize that your normal might be someone else’s weird. Perhaps as people the better alternative is to not judge or point out something we find abnormal but rather to take a step back and appreciate someone else’s normal. The more we open our minds to the new and different things around us, the more we can learn to appreciate that we’re all a little weird in a way and that’s just fine.
There are a lot of activities that have negatives to them but very often sleep isn’t considered one of those. Naps are considered a break for many of us or a chance to refresh. Sleep is something we do to recharge and when we do it correctly we’re told it’s a necessary part of a healthy routine. But what about when sleep isn’t something we look forward to? What happens when sleep becomes something we resent and lying down becomes part of a punishment? Today we’re going to explore when sleep goes from being a refreshing activity to becoming part of the invisible prison that is chronic illness.
Millions of people suffer daily with conditions that can’t be seen by the naked eye or even sometimes fully understood by the medical community. As human beings, we are heavily conditioned to be more convinced when we can see proof of something. Because of this a lot of medical conditions just don’t get the attention or consideration they need. Even while statistically quite a few people are suffering from them, the conditions don’t have overt or visible signs to them. This makes them harder to diagnosis and even harder to explain to others.
So what are these invisible conditions? You might be surprised how many things fall into being invisible. Mental illness commonly falls into being invisible but also things like autoimmune,blood,and intellectual based disorders. These are things a lot of people suffer with that don’t have very obvious visible markers. Because of how much stress humans put on seeing to believe it makes conditions with no physical markers,tangible symptoms,or obviously visible treatment methods harder to understand and relate to.
I’ve personally dealt with this sort of issue most of my life because a lot of my medical problems are ones that you can’t necessarily see. They’re conditions that affect my blood,my nerves, and my brain but they have no outward physical manifestation or just not ones as noticeable as a physical injury or deformity. I will never have a physical scar,need a cast,or develop any alarming symptoms that will stand out but I’m definitely and very seriously ill. Unfortunately, I suffer silently most of the time like a lot of people because I know most of my medical conditions won’t be taken seriously. They aren’t things people can see and as a result they won’t take me as seriously and possibly not even be able to relate to what’s going on with me.
But what’s even harder to convey is the cardinal source of frustration with chronic illness and that’s the gradual resentment you gain for lying down. For some, it can be difficult to comprehend what the difference between being sick and being sickly. A relatively healthy person will definitely have a sick day here and there but they’ll get over it. When you’re sickly it’s a completely different scenario. Being sickly means you are in effect always sick. Functioning and accomplishing tasks becomes a determination of how sick you are and not whether you’re healthy or sick. I’m personally always sick to some degree whether it’s pain,gastrointestinal,respiratory or otherwise. It’s very hard for me to remember when I wasn’t feeling at least a little sick in some way.
However, for a lot of us suffering chronic illness you have a much lower quality of life and a much more antagonistic relationship to your bed. A lot of invisible conditions have fatigue,anxiety,or pain as a bedfellow and as a result many people dealing with chronic illness sleep or at the very least are in bed a lot. This isn’t always a choice. You might be lying down because of an invisible emotional or mental issue. You might be too stiff and in pain to even leave your bed. You might just be too physically weak and sickly to get up. Whatever the reason, chronic illness usually means you see your bed a lot and it can become a deceptively comfortable prison over time. I know personally there are a lot of times I don’t want to lie down but I don’t have a lot of choice in the matter because I’m just not well enough to be up and moving around.
But as is the case with most things, the first steps to improvement in our society for chronic illness sufferers is understanding. Next time you encounter a person who doesn’t look sick to you or you have a person close to you spending a lot of time in bed,take that first step to understand they may not be lazy. They might be sick. Taking that time to understand a new perspective and get the whole picture can be a big step toward understanding and possibly helping one of the many people in our world suffering silently.
Being positive can be a hard sell when you suffer from chronic illness. As opposed to that sense of relief when you get over a cold, the feeling of knowing you will wake up sick every day for the rest of your life can be a heavy burden to bear. It can come with it’s own sense of anxiety and depression as well as significantly lower your quality of life. Those of us who suffer with chronic illness still want to do things,go places, and enjoy life but are otherwise not equipped to fully do so. You feel limited because you are in a lot of ways limited.
But even more disappointing, when you already have that to deal with, is the limited acceptance you get from society. When we as a society discount an invisible condition we in turn discount the person suffering from it. It makes those people feel like lower class citizens not worth your consideration. It makes them feel guilty for being sick and afraid to open up to others. The feeling of not being welcomed or understood resonates and eventually builds negative feelings.
While there are certainly things the medical community can do to change this outlook and even things that person can do for themselves, the world they’re trying to be a part of needs to also become a little more considerate to close that circle. As people, we need to stop making other people feel ashamed to be who they are and when you suffer from chronic illness, your conditions do become part of the package. It’s not reasonable to expect a person dealing with chronic illness to separate themselves from their condition because it’s not something that they can make go away,control, or ignore.
When you have a medical condition that you know you’ll wake up with every day and essentially have until you die it can be near impossible to put it aside or not tailor parts of your life to it. You can definitely find silver lining but no amount of that silver lining will make you truly healthy. This makes getting out of bed that much harder because it becomes more difficult to see purpose in getting out of bed.
What can bring hope for those people is a world that makes more effort to understand and respect them. Learning as a society that chronic illness isn’t something people choose but is something that makes their live difficult can be a big step to making ourselves more open to really welcoming those people and understanding invisible conditions as a whole. No person suffering from chronic illness is expecting you to see their condition in the traditional sense of that word but rather that you make an effort to see them as a person and understand their experiences. In effect,we all have something and when it comes to being sick a person dealing with something you can’t see is still a person struggling and deserves as much of your time,compassion, and respect as a person with a cast or that flu that’s been spreading around the office.When we respect each other and reach out, we create hope and strengthen the base bond of humanity we should all have with each other.
Often when we have a person close to us in pain or peril we want to help but it can be hard to know what the right thing to do for them is. When someone we know is sick, a common first instinct is to think in terms that they’ll feel better soon or that the thing afflicting them is temporary but that’s not the case if the person is dealing with chronic illness. The sentiment to tell someone you hope they’ll feel better soon isn’t wrong. It’s a common sentiment in our society. But if the person is dealing with chronic illness it can be a short-sighted approach.
In the many steps our society needs to take in understanding chronic illness,we need to take efforts to understand the nature of it. When it’s chronic illness the person is dealing with, your first step is make a genuine effort to understand that it won’t go away. Understanding the impact it has when a person is always sick,in pain,anxious, or tired will give you the proper gravity of the situation. The person most likely already understands that gravity and isn’t expecting you to understand 100%. They already know kind sentiments won’t change them waking up sick. What you can do for the person is support them in other ways. If the person has a physical issue,offer to help them do some of the tasks that are challenging for them because of their pain. If it’s mental,learn to give them space and support for their anxiety or depression. If it’s an autoimmune condition,make an effort to learn about the condition and approach with an understanding the condition is unpredictable in nature. Making an effort to understand people is a huge step we don’t always take but when you take time to try to honestly and openly understand another person’s perspective it will leave an impact.
Don’t make unfair assumptions about the person but in the same strain don’t insult them by approaching with pity. The people who get up and live life with chronic illness aren’t weak or pitiful. It takes determination and strength to get out of bed when everything hurts or you’re riddled with anxiety. It takes grit to drag yourself through day-to-day tasks when your body feels like it has the integrity of a spaghetti noodle.It takes courage to step outside under the weight of social anxiety. Dealing with chronic illness isn’t something the people who have it want and usually not something they chose but it is something that makes them stronger people because you have to fight for the time and experiences you have. The most important thing you can do for the chronic illness sufferer in your life is respect them. Treat them like people,help them if they need it, but understand that at the core of that suffering is true strength. For every day that those of us who suffer with chronic illness are bedridden or lower in productivity, there’s a day where we’ve climbed mountains and made discoveries you can only encounter from seeing rock bottom first.
There are more things at play in our world than what we can see with our eyes. Next time you encounter a person dealing with chronic illness, take that step to keep this in mind and try to understand that even though you can’t feel their anxiety,relate to their sickness,or feel their pain that they have a condition that is just as real as any other medical condition. The more we learn to see with our hearts and not our eyes, the more silent sufferers can begin to find trust and support in the community around them and take steps to living a better life where they don’t have to suffer in silence or feel like less of a person.
We all have birthdays and as long as you don’t take the alternative route you will inevitably get old. Some ages are landmarks like when we can pursue driving at sixteen or get drunk legally at twenty-one but have you ever wondered why thirty gets such a bad reputation? Is it really meriting the level of stress and depression we associate to it? What does it really mean to be thirty?
Thirty is a number and one of the things that can give us perspective on what weight turning thirty really has can be accepting that. I’m honestly not sure why thirty is the magic number for instant crippling depression. Over time we’ve been given the impression by society that we need to have a certain list of things done by thirty but depending on who you are that can create a huge problem. We’re all different people with different circumstances,means, and goals so why do we get fixated as people on a boxed-in definition of success?
I think the idea that there are certain milestones in life we should strive for universally such as a fulfilling career,meaningful relationship,or financial and life independence. Those are definitely good things for people to want or strive for. The problem arises when we set the age of thirty for that line in the sand. It creates a lot of unnecessary and unreasonable stress. What is age really? It’s a measurement not of our quality of life or our value as a person but rather of the length of years our body has existed. What is a birthday? A birthday should be a celebration. All birthdays are celebrations of existence.
Let’s face it. The world can be kind of rough and living is an accomplishment. Birthdays should be celebrations that we made it and we’re going to keep trying to make it regardless of the circumstances. Life is beautiful and no matter what the number a birthday should be used to celebrate that,not institute an artificial milestone like liquor,driving,or commercial success. So whether you’re there,way past there, or getting there try to appreciate thirty for the number that is is and put more focus on life over numbers.
One of the huge things we all fall prey to that makes thirty so scary is being critical and comparing ourselves to others way too much. I know because I did it so often myself in my twenties and beyond. I was always comparing my job,possessions,or relationships to other people my age. I’ve only begun to learn as I start shaping into the adult I want to be that that’s never a fair measuring stick.
While there are some concrete and objective things about aging, a lot of it like life itself is surprisingly open-ended and subjective. Things like relationships,jobs,and especially things like happiness and success are not dated,time-sensitive,or age-specific. You can find your dream job at forty,fall in love at seventy,or even have a personal epiphany at sixty. The adventures and opportunities we find in life are not something limited to what numbers are on our birthday cake so the idea you have to be at a certain place in life by thirty is short-sighted and just plain wrong.
Personally speaking I would say I wasn’t anywhere close to focused and established in my twenties and going into my thirties I realized that it was fine I wasn’t where society told me I should be. It was fine because I was on my own path and experiencing life in a way that suited me. I realized I had to stop measuring my life by the measuring stick of other people’s successes.
Part of growing up and truly becoming an adult involves a lot of trial and error but the unfortunate truth is that no person exists in a bubble. We’re constantly distracted by standards set outside of ourselves and that can make it hard to accept who you are and just live your life in a way that works for you. Being able to stop using that faulty measuring system is something you learn and grow out of but if you haven’t gotten there by thirty it’s fine. We all reach different points of developing as people at different times in our lives. Sometimes life throws us a lot of curve balls and we don’t reach things right away. Everyone is different.
In the same sense you should never box yourself in. Age doesn’t stop you from living, It means you have more time to enjoy it. If you bridge thirty, don’t stop living and don’t settle. Age doesn’t bar you from new experiences,taking risks, or building relationships. Don’t limit your bucket list to the usual suspects and then call it a day. Maybe you found your dream job but you want to try owning your own small business. Maybe you missed out on ever going on a vacation climbing the ladder of success and you have that money you didn’t before to go on a cruise. Maybe the right person hasn’t come along yet but they still might. Your potential is present as long as you are so don’t think of thirty as a slowing point. Think of it as another year to take the world on.
Regardless of what age you’re approaching or leaving behind, remember that birthdays aren’t about the numbers on the cake but rather that you’ve been blessed with being alive to eat the cake. Thirty and every other age you’ll turn are just numbers but they should never dictate how you live life or see yourself as a person.
As people we have a lot of conversations in our day-to-day life. But how often do we really think about what we’re saying or how we’re saying it? It can be surprisingly easy to forget that communication is a skill and even easier to forget how much power and weight our words really have.
We have hundreds of conversations daily and it’s easy to not completely think about all of of them in the process. But our conversations are made up of words and words have impact, power, and weight. While obviously our tone,choice of words, and use of words are huge factors shaping the conversation and its outcome, are they what makes words powerful ingredients? The answer is surprisingly no.The thing that makes words what they are is their meaning. And let’s make no mistakes here. I don’t mean what we think they mean or what they mean to us personally but what they actually mean in dictionary definition.
Before words become a conversation element they really are just clusters of letters that have been recorded into a language and assigned meanings. Unfortunately, we live in a very strange world recently where younger generations have been a huge shaping factor in how we look at words. That is to say that in what they perceive as an act of originality newer generations have created and pushed for the adoption of a different attitude towards the art of language. Things like the actual dictionary meaning of a word,the pronunciation of a word, and even the usage of punctuation and grammar have been victims to a generation that believes them to be old-fashioned and obsolete. What ends up getting lost in the shuffle is the order that defined and built the English language. As a language it no longer really holds the same universality or clarity it used to.
This is an important thing to take note of because while we don’t think about it or even actively acknowledge it, abandoning long held standards in communication changes how we interpret vocal and written communication. English is actually one of the most difficult languages to learn and it’s mainly because native English speakers are constantly making arbitrary and usually pop culture based additions to it or improperly speaking it in day-to-day usage. This makes it near impossible to learn it on the fly or through observation and constantly breaks any perceived standards usually present in a language. The English language has more variations and slang to it than any other known language system.
But at the root of how we communicate is words and their meanings. There’s a rather accurate meme that used to go around with the guy from The Princess Bride captioned in some variation of “I don’t think that word means what you think it means” and it’s kind of sad how on the nose that observation is. Despite having a book specifically made for word meanings, I’ve spoken to numerous adults that simply have no idea what a lot of words they use mean. I’ve also spoken to a number of younger generation people who have the same issue.
But why is it an issue at all? Is it our education system? Are people trying to modernize the English language? Maybe they’re just lazy. If you ask me, it’s a little bit of all of that. On top of the issue of newer generations wanting to rebel and redefine communication standards we have a gradually devolving education system that as opposed to challenging students and raising the bar, has lowered it level by level to the degree kids are becoming lazy and disinterested teenagers who grow into under-educated adults with limited communication skills. But at the cornerstone is laziness.
We have so many conversations in so many forms and such a low sense of personal responsibility in modern society. As a result we tend to cut corners with communication whether it be by not taking the time to properly craft a sentence in something written or being vague or improper in what we say because we can’t be bothered to mentally form a proper statement and take time to think about what comes out of our mouths. We continually take for granted what it means to properly communicate with other people.
When we discount the meaning of words and the structure of the English language we fail to communicate in an effective and clear manner. This makes it much easier to be misunderstood and even easier to be offensive or just plain wrong in what we say. While your first instinct when someone points out a language error is probably to get defensive,perhaps the more accurate reaction would be to give it some thought. You may not actually be saying what you think you are on further review. But above all the cardinal errors we make in communication, make an effort to understand the meaning of the words you use. Knowing what words mean before we use them is the basis of good communication because once you understand the true meaning of a word, you can as a result use it properly and understand the context and of course the impact.
While the meaning and usage of words builds the foundation for our communication, there is a lot of accountability held by the content as a whole as well. We have limited time and a lot of conversations in the span of a day but have you ever taken the time to consider how much of it is filler? We consistently lower the value of our communications by weighing it down with filler conversation. While we may feel somewhat socially obligated to make small talk in an elevator or reply to every single text, is it truly adding to anything to the human experience?
One of the things I focus on as a writer is character dialogue. Extraneous character dialogue is one of the major factors that can ruin a good story. In the same sense when we don’t make efforts to think before we speak and trim the fat we weigh our daily conversations down and impact them negatively. All the people we’re interacting with are on the same borrowed time we are so coming to the table with a worthwhile interaction makes a big difference and reduces the odds of us saying things that leave negative impressions.
Impulsive speaking not only creates a bad impression but can also be dangerous,hurtful,or something we regret later on. Understanding that our conversations need to contain information that is accurate,organized,and worth the time of the other person will add instant value to your conversation.
But beyond substance we need to be responsibly honest. Lying in general is not a good practice and honesty is preferred but with that we need to be mindful of how honest we’re being and if it’s necessary. We’ve all heard the term TMI or at the very least seen the expression that goes with it. It means we’re being too honest and it’s not appropriate with that person or situation. When you’re considering honesty don’t think about it as doing it or not doing it but rather how much. Being honest is always a good policy but depending on factors like your relationship with the person or the social situation you may not have to be honest to a huge degree. For instance, your level of honesty with say your therapist or your mother should be different from your level of disclosure with a colleague or acquaintance.
Be real but be mindful as a good rule of thumb on how open is the right level for the circumstances. This will help you avoid TMI or being offensive. Keeping in mind that a conversation by the coffee machine doesn’t need to lead to you talking about your childhood or just remembering that most people will ask if there’s really more to the conversation can help you balance out your social interactions accordingly and have much less stress tied to them.
People who have a need to focus on communication for a living like orators and writers have to develop some appreciation for audience. That same sense of knowing your audience can also be a great trait to have when we want to create more quality interactions in our everyday lives. Having great content is only half of the equation if we don’t understand the people we’re trying to communicate with or have focus.
Understanding the interests of your audience or the person you’re talking to allows you to not only trim the fat of what you want to say accordingly but lets you know what content will actually be meaningful to that person. If the other person isn’t interested in the conversation than you move from talking to them to talking at them and that’s not a true conversation.
Making a practice of trying to gauge a person’s interest in a subject over our own interest in that subject can go a long way. It may seem fine or you may be bursting to talk about it but at the end of the day when we talk at people it makes us look rude and leaves a negative impact on the other person. It also doesn’t hurt to try to engage the people we interact with by trying to figure out their interests and goals for that interaction. Think about factors like the environment,circumstances, and the level of emotional investment. Make sure you understand the actual purpose of the interaction and don’t just inject your own. Simply focusing on the other person’s perspective can be a huge impact and lead to deeper and more meaningful interactions in a natural manner. It also forces us to stop and truly invest ourselves into the interaction as opposed to being stuck in our own mind and on our own goals. In general, we can all afford to take a vacation from ourselves so next time you interact with a person try truly engaging them and creating more meaningful interactions worth your time and theirs.
Just as we can talk at and not to a person we can hear and not listen. Active listening is key when it comes to truly having a conversation. It means we are not just hearing the noises accompanying the other person’s mouth moving but processing what they’re saying and forming an appropriate response based on that. Learning to be a good listener is not just respectful but over time will help us grow as people and truly tune in to the world around us.It allows us to truly comprehend the information being given to us and can even help us form more educated points of view on issues.Hearing is for noises but if we’re talking to another human being we need to listen.
There are a number of social interaction mistakes every one of us falls prey to here and there. On the same note there are things you should just avoid or not do at all no matter what the circumstance.
Taking these small steps can be a big improvement to your everyday interactions:
Life is busy but it doesn’t have to be so busy that we’re not getting the most out of our everyday interactions. Start talking to people instead of at them. Listen instead of just hearing. Most of all be real and start truly engaging others instead of settling for mediocre and easy interactions. Communication is a powerful tool that anyone can use to make the most of every day so let’s stop cutting corners and start truly engaging others and having real conversations.
Stress and hardship are things that affect all of us at some point and when that happens we all need a little help. Since I talked about therapies geared toward those on the spectrum last week, I thought it would be nice to follow-up this week to discuss some therapies we can all benefit from looking into when it comes to living a happier and healthier life.
Stress is everywhere and constant for a lot of us. It comes in many forms and from many sources and we all have different ways to deal with it. Some are healthy. Some aren’t so healthy. Some are expensive. But stress always comes back around for another round. Dealing with stress is an active fight but very often we’re putting ourselves at a disadvantage because we’re fighting with the same attack each time while our sources of stress are typically dynamic and unpredictable. Think about the things you do when you’re really stressed out. Maybe you smoke a cigarette,indulge in some junk food,or just roll into bed for a refresher nap. You might go try doing something enjoyable to distract yourself or you might buy yourself a little gift to cheer yourself up. Some of our most common go-to solutions for stress and depression are indulgent and ultimately just band-aids that usually add to the problem instead of fixing it.
Good stress management is a combination of treatment,prevention, and stress reduction. This means we not only relieve the stress but also do something beneficial for ourselves so we can resolve what’s stressing us out and know how to better handle it in the future and moving forward. So while it’s not a bad idea to treat yourself when you feel overwhelmed,it isn’t really benefiting you in the long run or even addressing what stressed you out in the first place. While there is no one solution to good stress management we can learn to do it better through a combination of methods instead of one extravagant band-aid action.
Today we’re going to look at some alternative ways you can tackle stress that will not only reduce your current stress but make you well-armed to handle stress in the future.
The most important step in stress relief is to identify what’s stressing you out and get it out of your system in a positive way that won’t damage you or cause regret later. Sometimes when we do indulgent things we can dig deeper holes by spending irresponsibly,having too much of something pleasurable, or burning bridges we’ll need later. Stress makes us lose our sense of rationality and leaves us vulnerable to doing things we’re better off not doing. It can be hard to identify stress though so your first step before going out and getting drunk,telling off another person, or buying something you don’t have the money for you need to take a moment and get grounded.
Before you act on how you feel take some time to be mindful. Get yourself focused and pinpoint what’s really burrowing under your skin. Before you pick up that band-aid,pick up a pen! And I don’t mean a device like a phone or computer but a pen. Reduce your distractions and eliminate the weight of the modern world for a little bit so you can really think. Modern distractions can actually add to your stress and make it harder to heal and calm yourself. When we have too many shiny distractions we have a hard time focusing on ourselves.
So go ahead and grab a pen and paper. You’ll find that these will be the best things to have in your arsenal for stress management.
But what can we do with these simple tools?
We’re obviously going to write! Real writing is sort of a lost art these days as we have so many shortcuts and devices but when we write about our life and feelings it’s a natural, effective, and affordable way to cleanse ourselves. You don’t have to be eloquent, grammatically proper,or even organized when you write to vent. Just let it flow in whatever form it will take onto the paper.
Keeping a journal or diary has been a practice for centuries by all walks of people. It is also a common method used in commercial therapy to help patients identify their feelings and behaviors. Journals can be a great and freeing thing for people as they are informal,accessible, and affordable as a method of stress relief therapy. It not only allows self-expression but leaves room for recollection later on so we can learn from our experiences and grow as people.
While there’s no right or wrong way to journal it works best when you…
Journals and diaries have the most benefit when they’re not shared with others. If you feel safe and okay sharing your journal it’s fine but it will be best utilized as something private for you and as a safe way to express your feelings without feeling additional anxiety and pressure from others. It’s not for everyone but if writing in your journal about your day or week makes you feel noticeably lighter it might be a great way to maintain good mental health vibes and work out your stresses. It’s something anyone can afford that you can easily customize to suit your needs.
Writing letters is something that has sunken into obscurity as more technologies replace traditional social interactions but letters can be one of the truest forms of expression when we truly embrace them. Before email existed, people communicated deep thoughts and feelings and even maintained relationships with a handwritten letter to another person. Letters lack the cold and mechanical feel of a text or email and have a better chance of pulling out our deeper thoughts and feelings. In the process we find a self-expression method that needs no emojis or explanations.
Like a journal, a common therapy method that even some health professionals stand by is to write a letter and not send it as a method to deal with stress,anxiety, and depression.
This method has a lot of benefits like…
Even though the letter is sort of fake and most likely won’t be really mailed to the person we addressed it to, the feelings in it are real and it can be a great alternative to situations where you’re dealing with a person who is too difficult to broach conversation with or isn’t around to have a conversation with. It allows you to express your feelings and lift the stress of that situation off your shoulders. It’s hard to reconcile with situations where we don’t get a chance to finish an interaction or settle something with another person and we can carry that around without realizing it and do a lot of damage to our quality of life and well-being.
It doesn’t even have to be related to an interaction with another person. Some therapists suggest and sometimes save lives by advising those with mental health issues write letters about just their feelings because seeing it on paper can be a way of the person getting those feelings out and sometimes getting rid of them completely. It can even be the push you need to realize you need to have a more substantial conversation with another person about something going on in your life.
We write lists for a lot of mundane things like our groceries,daily chores, or Christmas shopping but what if you made some more meaningful lists? Lists are one of the most basic forms of writing and getting information down but they can also be a great way to work through our tough times in life.
Here are some lists you can make that will not only help you deal with stress but make you think in better ways…
Lists are simple and quick ways we can identify stresses and reflect on ourselves. They don’t have to be eloquent or perfect and give us a glance at things in their most basic form. If you’re going through a tough or stressful time a list is an easy starting point to prioritizing your self-care and getting you on the road to mental wellness.
Once you identify stress you want to bring it down a little. Rewarding ourselves is a viable thing to do but only when we do it in a fashion that is beneficial. Anytime we over-indulge in pleasures,spend money we don’t have, or damage a relationship letting go on another person we hurt ourselves in the long run. Successful stress management means we bring our stress down in a way that doesn’t make the situation worse or cause personal damage or regret.
So for this step all you need is you. We’re going to discuss some things you can do to reduce your stress while actually rejuvenating yourself a little as opposed to causing more harm and applying a band-aid.
Mental health days are not just for those who have a diagnosed mental health issue. Mental health is something that matters for every person and we all need a mental health day sometimes. When I was going through DBT one of the things we talked about was something called turtling. Turtling involves taking a brief day or two to take a vacation from the world. That might involve just rest if you’re a person who lacks a healthy sleep schedule but should also involve mindfulness. Doing activities that are not indulgent but rather calming and introspective can help you shed stress and improve your mood in a way that is healthier for the long run. Things like drinking,shopping,or emotional transferal onto others may seem like things that are good at the time but we usually regret them later or do personal damage in the process but when we focus on healing ourselves we rejuvenate and heal with benefits and not harm. It can also be an opportunity to get a better understanding of a tough situation in your life so you can handle it better.
If you’re going through an especially stressful time the best thing you can do is take a day or two to stand back from the situation and give yourself some time to reflect and heal. We get bombarded with so much stimulus in our world today that we sometimes forget to just step back and take a moment to breathe and assess the situation but it can be just the thing you need to begin to sort out your worries and get back to really living.
For some a spa can be a great way to indulge and refresh but that can be expensive. But in our fast-paced world it’s easy to take the spa in your home for granted. Instead of blasting in and out of your bathroom in your packed daily routine,set aside a day where you can do a bathroom routine that is an affordable at home spa experience. Instead of a shower take a nice relaxing bubble bath. Instead of going to the salon,wash your hair at home and give yourself a nice therapeutic scalp massage. Do what you do normally but just do it at a reasonable pace. If you don’t normally use lotion than try it. The action of applying a lotion is an affordable and multipurpose therapy that is not only massage but aromatherapy. Light a nice smelling candle and listen to some relaxing music while you do your bathroom routine to round out the experience and make it more relaxing. You can even read a book while you’re in there if you want to.
When we pamper ourselves and take care of ourselves it creates natural positive vibes and helps us relax and come back down to earth from our busy lives. The feeling of being clean is in itself a huge boost to our well-being. It’s also a great way to reward and rejuvenate at the same time that won’t hurt you or your wallet.
Some of the things that are the best things you can do to reduce stress in your life are easily accessible and won’t empty your wallet or values substantially. The human mind and body can be complicated but also simple at the same time. The best thing you can really do for yourself sometimes is live. Simple things are what positively feed the body. Instead of staying stuck in your house being stressed or depressed, go outside. Natural light is also a natural mood booster. Instead of an overpriced and distracting restaurant meal,have a creative and relaxing meal at home where you actually sit down and take the time to eat and enjoy your family and the people around you. Take a vacation from your technology and enjoy reading a book,doing a puzzle,or doing some kind of creative DIY project that makes you think in a fun way. Take advantage of some pet therapy either by taking time to really appreciate your own household pet or by volunteering at your local shelter.
We often think about extremes when we’re frustrated but when we take the time to appreciate all the simple pleasures around us it can be a huge benefit to our mental state and make us appreciate life that much more.
It’s easy to not notice when something in our home or daily environments is actually hurting and not helping. While we may not always consider things like lighting,colors,or where things are in a room it can affect us and our mood greatly.
You don’t really need to go full feng shui on your house or office but taking a moment to reassess your environment when you’re stressed or not feeling quite right can be a small but effective step. Small things like changing your lighting,painting the wall a fresh color,getting new curtains, or even getting new bedding can be a refreshing and affordable treat and a positive change. You can even just make some small steps to improve how the room smells,get a white noise machine to make it more peaceful,buy a painting at the home store or put some photos you like on the wall for positive visuals, or just rearrange the furniture a little. New perspectives are new opportunities when it comes to how you see your world and feel as a person.
It’s okay to treat yourself to a new item,indulgent treat, or luxury but where we make mistakes is when we over-indulge and use that as a distraction from reality. You can still treat yourself but instead of having too many drinks,buying something you don’t have money for, or doing something that only temporarily makes you feel good try rewarding yourself with a sense of reason and moderation. Understand your means and understand the aftermath of what you want to do. If either of those things are strained or potentially harmful then you want to scale back your reward item a little. If you want to buy something then find something small and within your budget to buy or see if you can curb the urge just by window shopping with a friend. If you want to pig out try getting a sundae after you’ve already had a good meal so you won’t over-stuff yourself with garbage. If you want to drink,limit it to one drink and don’t drink alone so you also get the benefit of a social experience.
The key to rewarding yourself is to do it in a way that won’t hurt you later and in a way that is just enough and within reason. Too much of a good thing can sometimes be just as bad as being stressed and depressed.
Once you come through a tough time you might be tempted to just jump right back into the fray. Instead of doing that, try taking time to address your coping skills so you can handle stress better moving forward. Make a note about new techniques you’ve learned and keep them going if they help you. Start practicing more mindful behaviors in your daily routines and make appreciating life an everyday thing. Continue taking better care of yourself to keep your health and happiness up.
The key to really dealing with stress is that we need to change as people sometimes, because if you keep doing what you’ve always done then you’ll keep getting the same results. Actively tackle the negative practices in your life so you can live better in a long-term way. Appreciate who you are and take good care of yourself all the time, not just when you’re overwhelmed. Loving yourself is key to coping in our busy modern world and the more you focus on living well, the less stress and hardship will break you when it does occur.
When it comes to coping, we should really all be in it together. While there are a lot of things we may experience due to being part of a specific group, it’s important to understand we’re all going through something or dealing with something and that it’s okay to need help. But just as our stresses grow and change, we can learn better ways to deal with it. Next time you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed try thinking outside the box on what might get your situation stabilized. You might be surprised at how easy and accessible peace of mind really is.
What does the word therapy mean to you? Well, in a practical sense, therapy can be an umbrella that doesn’t just cover actions but also things. A lot of medical conditions include therapy supplies that are things you buy and not things you do. Autism is no different in that aspect. Today we’re going to discuss some physical aids that are used in the treatment of an autism spectrum disorder.
Physical therapy aids can be a big benefit for a person on the spectrum. This is especially true since a lot of people on the spectrum physically manifest emotional responses and anxiety more than a typical person would. While many of us may not think too much about a stress ball, a blanket,or even see a point to paying more for a natural light desk lamp these things can be essentials for a person on the spectrum feeling right in their environment. Aids can not only help a person on the spectrum feel grounded but also alter their environment to help them deal with sensory input and reduce the chances of getting overloaded.
Even though therapy is a huge benefit to those on the spectrum, it can often be hard to obtain. While some therapy supplies can be relatively affordable,others are not and the majority of them are not covered by medical insurance and must be purchased out of pocket by the person. This could be because of the lack of solid resources on what helps for those on the spectrum but also because it is an invisible and sometimes confusing condition for even some medical professionals to grasp.
Adding to that confusion is that not all therapies will apply for each person on the spectrum. The types of therapy supplies needed will vary person to person as sensory issues do. While some people may have more issues with light or sound, some may also have issues with smell or textures. Some people on the spectrum have more issues feeling grounded in their environment then others and each person will stim a little differently than another person. The large range of needs and behaviors between people on the spectrum can make tackling therapy in general difficult but definitely creates a difference in what therapy supplies are considered vital.
Since most of the therapy items ideal for those on the spectrum are actually pretty ordinary it is often hard to prove them as a medical purchase because they appear to be normal items that a lot of people might buy.For instance, stress balls are considered almost an obligatory promotional item and not a therapy item and fidget toys are often seen as toys for children as opposed to a vital element to therapy. A lot of the therapy items I’ll cover are things you would at some point have a reason to buy as just a person and not necessarily as a therapy item.
Some people on the spectrum have a sensory sensitivity to smells in their environment. One of the simplest ways to curb this or at the very least turn it into more of a positive is to try aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is a very popular thing right now and can be expensive over time depending on how you go about it. What always worked best for me was actually a bracelet with aromatherapy discs you slid into part of it. I could take it wherever I went. It didn’t look anymore awkward than say an arm weight or sport accessory. The refills were even fairly affordable in comparison to a small bottle of essential oil. Aromatherapy can either be used to help distract away from other smells in the environment or it can be used just as aromatherapy where certain scents promote certain moods. Either way can greatly benefit a person on the spectrum and help them be comfortable in their environment. Other cheaper forms of aromatherapy can be scented candles or air fresheners.
We often don’t think about lights as being disruptive but some types of light can cause sensory issues for a person on the spectrum. The best type of lighting is one that mimics natural light as artificial lighting such as fluorescent lights can cause disturbances.Some people on the spectrum can see the flickering or hear the hum of the bulbs in a fluorescent light. For me personally it’s something like sitting under a flickering light and a beehive at the same time. The same natural lights that help for seasonal depression can be a great resource for a person on the spectrum to have. The bulbs are made to emit a more natural and usually warmer light that doesn’t distract or overwhelm.
Alternatively there are types of fluorescent lights that are less harsh to sit under,covers or filters that can be put over fluorescent lights to reduce the intensity, and lighting systems that allow for the person to dim or control the light brightness.Some situations may even be as a simple as a change to the bulb type you use or a new lampshade that filters and warms the light being emitted.
Fluorescent light has actually been proven to bother more than just people on the spectrum and even lower productivity in some cases but some people will only perceive it as a minor annoyance and not a meltdown. Natural light bulbs and the lamps can cost a bit more than a typical lamp. My natural light desklamp put me out close to $40.00 and I haven’t had to see the price tag on a new bulb just yet since they do last pretty well. But in the long run a few small lighting changes can make a world of difference for someone on the spectrum and be well worth the cost.
The typical human brain will naturally filter out a good number of background noises but for a person on the spectrum it can be like living with super hearing. One of the big things that can help is white noise. White noise is a common factor in aiding those with sleep and anxiety problems but can also help a person on the spectrum tune out the more distracting noises around them.
While a quality white noise machine can cost $40+ you can buy some headphones on the cheap as an alternative and tune into a site called http://mynoise.net on your computer or phone. If you can afford it there are also hearing aids that are essentially in-ear white noise devices but for a cheap alternative you can buy a low end bluetooth earpiece and link it to white noise playing on your phone for an easy white noise solution that is mostly hands free and easily able to blend in when you venture out into the world. You can also get even simpler and get a fan. Fans are a natural provider of white noise and can be a great alternative if you need the white noise while you sleep and don’t want to be bogged down with having headphones in, but can’t afford a sound machine.
If you do invest in a white noise machine,go for one that has a range of sounds because everyone is a little different. There are nights I like the crackling campfire or the sound of rain but other nights I might prefer ocean waves or nature noises so try to find a quality one that will give you some options.
Some therapy items are to help for when a person on the spectrum has a high sensitivity to texture.They are typically things that encourage tactile input. The idea is that it can provide something that the person doesn’t mind touching as opposed to maybe a chalky desk or bothersome clothing fabric. Some of the textures on these types of supplies are smooth or soft as these are typically comforting to a person on the spectrum. An example would be that most fidget cubes have one side that appears to have nothing but it is actually meant to be a side for textural therapy purposes. For a person on the spectrum it usually doubles as a distraction from disruptive or unpleasant textures but also as a source of comfort and calming. The repetitive motion of rubbing the more pleasing texture can also coincide with how a person stims in some cases.
Fidget toys aren’t really toys in a traditional sense. They are small devices that twist,bend,or move in ways that accommodate a person fidgeting or stimming. They are typically made to assist those with anxiety and acute fidgeting issues but have a tendency get downgraded to being a novelty toy instead. The best example is a fidget spinner which took the world by storm and was given to quite a few kids to keep them busy. It was just as vigorously played up as being stupid and pointless when it lost popularity. Part of that was because people seemed largely unaware of who the target audience for fidget spinners and similar items are.
Fidget toys aren’t meant to be toys. They’re made to channel the anxiety and energy that can overwhelm anxiety sufferers and people on the spectrum. They are also meant to focus and calm. They aren’t designed to be a fad toy or something you use to do tricks on a Youtube video. Many items like stress balls and even a lot of physics toys fall into the category of being for this purpose as well. Fidget cubes are another popular one and can actually cost over $30.00 despite their tiny size. I would probably die from anxiety if I didn’t take my fidget cube everywhere with me though. With fidget toys it’s especially important for people to understand their purpose and that sometimes people aren’t playing with them at all but trying to positively channel something more serious.
If you’re trying to shop for a fidget toy it can be a little overwhelming. There are tons of types of them out there and it can be hard to tell which one will help you at first. Before you buy, think about how you stim. If you move your hands around more try something stretchy or moldable. Don’t use a regular novelty stressball though. Find a softer one or even one of the ones that looks sort of like a bunch of tiny balls in a ball. These ones are a little better and can stand up to intense squeezing and stretching without hurting your hand. Fidget cubes and spinners are sort of a staple but try to consider if you’re a spinner,button pusher,or switch clicker before dropping them into your cart. If you’re a pen clicker like me, a fidget cube will be your new best friend. If you like spinning things the fidget spinner might be your cup of tea. If you really get active hands there are are even these things that look sort of like strings but they’re made of a gel sort of substance and can be stretched,tied, and abused pretty badly without falling apart. Basically the key to finding a fidget toy that helps is understanding your habits and needs.
One of the issues some people on the spectrum have is feeling grounded in their environment. This is kind of a strange feeling to explain but sometimes due to a lack of pressure on the body you kind of feel like you’re floating no matter where you are. This creates a sort of disconnect for the person that can build anxiety. One of the therapies that remedies this is for the person to have a weighted item. When I say a weighted item I don’t mean a barbell or an exercise aid. Therapeutic weighted items for those on the spectrum are usually things that also help with touch therapy as they’re usually covered in a soft material such as minky fabric or fleece.
For kids it’s typical to find weighted stuffed animals and there are also weighted blankets you can get in various sizes or just simple weighted pads you can rest in your lap while you sit. The purpose is to put some pressure on the person’s body and make them feel calm or grounded. Weights vary and some people may need heavier or lighter weighted items than others. Weighted items can be a bit pricey though. My weighted blanket is just throw size and 5lbs but it cost about $150. A full weighted bedspread can be over $200.Even a weighted stuffed animal can be well more than you’d pay for multiple toys. The good news is that it does help. It’s not really about the expense or the person being finicky about blankets. It’s a good and simple solution that helps a person on the spectrum be more aware of their environment
Chewing is a behavior that is most commonly seen in children on the spectrum but can also be something an adult does. I know personally I only chew or bite in extreme situations of anxiety and the first thing I go for is unfortunately my own hand. I’ve actually bitten a few times to the point I nearly drew blood. That’s why things like chewing rings and similar aids exist. Biting is a destructive form of stimming and a type of self-harm at its root. The point of a chewing therapy aid is so the person can safely bite down on something that won’t injure them or their teeth. I think the biggest misconception for this form of stimming is that only kids do it though.
If you’re an adult with a biting issue ,it makes you a bit more embarrassed, but go for the chewing aid if you really need it. It’s better than injuring your body or hurting your teeth. If you see a child using one of these aids try to be understanding. They aren’t trying to hurt you or themselves. They’re just displaying a more extreme form of stimming that can be kept at bay with the right aid.
I love Amazon. You can get a lot of things on Amazon for great and usually lower than retail prices so it’s a great and reliable place to shop for any of the things mentioned in this article. One of the good things about these therapy items is that they are at their heart regular consumer items and not medical supplies so you can shop around and they are generally easy to find. Some things will still be a little high in price even on a site like Amazon but take your time and compare products if you need to get them for some autism therapy on a budget. If you can and depending on the item you could also consider that Amazon has a great return policy even on used items so you might be able to buy something used and in good condition but still have protection to return it if things don’t work out. This could be a viable option for an appliance therapy item like the sound machine or diffuser.
Another great benefit to using something online is that you don’t have to brave a retail store or feel a need to explain yourself to a cashier. Not having to go into a store and still getting what you need can be a big deal when you’re shopping with the limitations of sensory or interpersonal issues and the Amazon box will come discretely and securely to your door. If you have to write them off somehow or reimburse yourself from an HSA, you have a concrete transaction number and no fiddling with receipts to worry about.
Something that keeps a lot of people on the spectrum from getting the therapy supplies they need is the stigma. While some people may never notice the person is even utilizing a therapy tool,others might make a person feel bad or embarrassed about it which discourages some people from using therapy supplies that could change their whole outlook on life. If you recognize a loved one or co-worker is using some of these items and might be using them therapeutically,try to understand that they aren’t playing with toys and clutching a security blanket but trying to compensate for the sensory disturbances and improve their environment. Learning to see a situation from another person’s perspective might change things and it’s a sign of respect to that person. They might be a little different and need a little help but they’re just humans trying to live their lives like you at the end of the day. You might even find some new benefits in that item yourself if you keep an open mind.
In the same way a cane can add mobility for a physical disability, we need to take advantage of the idea that a tangible object can be part of the solution for a very intangible disorder. Understanding that there are items you can buy to help make an environment less disruptive for a person on the spectrum can make a huge difference and understanding what those items mean to the person using them is key. Everyone is dealing with something and a little different so learning to see a fidget spinner,stress ball,or scent diffuser in a different light can change your whole perspective and change the world of a person on the spectrum so they can truly enjoy it.
There are a ton of things in the world around us that we not only take for granted but that we forget can be perceived differently by each person. It’s a weird thing to think about but each of us has a uniquely functioning mind that interprets the world around us in a one-of-a-kind way. The importance of understanding everyone is different applies to a lot of things in life so today I’d like to give you a brief look at how the world can look,sound, and even smell differently for a person on the spectrum.
The human brain is really important. It controls all the functions of our bodies. In a sense it’s really more important than even your heart. The brain can almost be thought of as a battery so when you think about people and differences, consider that each person is running on a different battery. When we put different types of batteries into a device they can sometimes run differently and at different efficiencies. Your brain is wired into everything and that includes your sensory functions.
When we think of our senses it’s not hard to understand they can be a good or bad experience. The concept of lights,noises,textures, or smells being uncomfortable isn’t completely foreign but I think what can be hard to grasp is when they become painful or disruptive. A neurotypical brain can clearly perceive a sensation being uncomfortable but it often doesn’t become disruptive to the person because a neurotypical brain balances the amounts of stimulus the person is getting. Additionally, a neurotypical brain can process very quickly to end that uncomfortable stimulus with usually little to no drama and process that experience appropriately so the person can continue with business as usual.
The other factor at play here is understanding the concept of sensitivity as it applies to our senses. We all have variations in how over or under sensitive our senses are. For instance, some people have more sensitive hearing than others and might hear frequencies others might not or some people might have more sensitive skin making touch a different experience. These sensitivities occur naturally in people but when we have deficiencies in them it has a lot to do with our nervous systems being different
Now with these concepts in mind think about all the environmental stimulus you run into during a typical day. You don’t have to think big. Consider the fluorescent light in your office, the sun outside, the sound of raindrops on a window, or even an innocent horn honk in your daily commute. Some of those are probably annoying to you but if you aren’t on the spectrum they probably won’t interrupt your entire mental stability. To give you some insight of the drastic difference for a person on the spectrum, I would describe those same experiences as a painful headache from the flickering and loud distracting buzzing,a blinding and tiring light that makes me want to faint,someone beating a drum lightly right next to my ear, and please stab me in the ears now. It seems like a harsh exaggeration but this is actually how I and a good number of people on the spectrum experience everyday stimuli. Going out into the world is tiring and sometimes painful when you’re on the spectrum because you can hear,see,smell, and feel too much and unlike a neurotypical brain you don’t have the coping mechanisms or thought processes to cope with it.
I suffered silently in my carpool for four years because going out everyday was exhausting and just plain awful for me. I pretty much always had a headache when I got home because by the time I steeled myself through 3 hours in a car and 8 hours in an office with all the heaps of stimulus those places are known to offer I was dead on my feet. But it was always so hard to explain to the people around me why I was tired. When you tell a neurotypical person that you were physically drained by sitting under a fluorescent light and listening to a few hours of car horns the message never really seems to get across. It actually took me a while to figure out that maybe those people didn’t hear the buzzing of ten beehives and see the constant flickering of the lights in my office or hear the shrill high-pitched whine in their car horn.
It actually took me close to a year to really realize the amount of differences between how my mind perceived things in comparison to people around me. I would be in agony at times and they’d seem completely fine. It was an especially big shock because up to that point I hadn’t noticed those things but as more and more of the wrong medications left my system,my brain started working how it was wired to and the world suddenly became a much scarier place to be. At first it was small. I started to notice a buzzing noise and couldn’t place where it was. I figured out it was light over my desk which was strangely now appearing to flicker more. I started noticing more and more around me like the whistling noise subtly hiding in the blast of the air vents and the distractingly chalky texture of my desk.
I also started hearing everything around me at some point. There are a lot of background noises that a typical human brain will filter out but when you’re on the spectrum you can hear everything. I could hear all the small conversations in the office,the footsteps brushing on the carpeting in the aisle near me, and even the bubbling of the coffee machine seemed louder somehow like someone popping a tiny balloon in my ear. For a good six month period I still pressed on and did my work through that but over time it just got worse instead of better and eventually the sensory overload reared its ugly head.
Sensory overload is something I’d almost compare very closely to a panic attack as I’ve had both before. I would say out of everything that crippled me at my last job that the sensory overload was the worst component. I could never anticipate it but when it hit, it hit hard. I would show any behavior from violent stimming to a complete loss of focus and sometimes something akin to selective mutism where I could only speak in limited capacity and to familiar people I was comfortable around. Sometimes I would just make a mad dash to an empty office and shut off all the lights,sitting and rocking in the dark room for an amount of time I couldn’t really gauge. Sometimes I would run into the bathroom and sob silently in a stall because I had no idea what was wrong and just wanted to curl up and die instinctively.
Sensory overload is scary because unlike a case of social anxiety it’s a condition that’s harder to connect to. It’s something that for all intensive purposes only exists to the person experiencing it because their mind is painting the world in a completely different color scheme than what’s considered normal. The level of paranoia and withdrawal created by sensory overload is significant because it instills a fear of things that are everywhere. It adds a whole new layer of terror onto a simple car trip or a quick stop at a retail store. It makes the idea of leaving your house exhausting without you stepping a single toe outside.
I get overwhelmed very easily from small experiences because I’m in fact getting too much of an experience. Things like loud noises,bright lights,people moving too fast,the feel of certain surfaces, and being around certain smells can cause me to become anxious and even physically tired or in pain. It even effects the kinds of food,clothing,bedding,or even furniture I choose. At times certain types of stimuli can even change my mood drastically. I can turn from flat or friendly to possibly depressed or agitated in a moment because of something in my environment bothering me. This was partially why I was initially diagnosed as having bipolar. The drastic contrast between the flat affect typical for a person on the spectrum and the high anxiety and agitation from sensory overload can commonly be misinterpreted as the ups and downs of bipolar disorder.
One of the larger side effects for me from sensory overload was that I basically shut down mentally. I would peak and then just bottom out all of a sudden to where I couldn’t focus,think, or communicate. My brain had no way to process everything going on around me and as a result it just seemingly stopped and so did the world around me. To be honest I’m still not entirely sure what the right thing to do is when sensory overload is happening. I only identified a few possible triggers for mine but never really got to a point where I learned to cope with them. When I was done being overloaded I was just done and my mind checked out for the day and wasn’t coming back to rejoin the party anytime soon. I missed a lot of work because even though I was there,my mind wasn’t.
It was always extremely hard to accurately communicate what was happening to me and even when I found ways to explain it there was always an apparent gap in understanding between me and the neurotypical people around me. They always wanted to know what they could do for me and I could never tell them. There are a lot of reasons this communication gap exists but what I’ve learned over time is that it’s a mix. Both sides are confused. On my end as a person on the spectrum I have even less of an ability than normal to interpret or read the person across from me and and on the neurotypical end of things I’m sure the way I communicate is just as confusing and trying to understand I need to go home because of noise and light just doesn’t compute. To a neurotypical person they really are just lights and noises,not something to mentally and physically shut down over.
Adding to that confusion is that some people on the spectrum can be very upset about something but display a flat affect. There’s a very distinct disconnect created by that because a neurotypical brain will try to recognize and match moods,information being fed to them, and facial expressions. When a person says they’re upset but comes off as flat and monotone this can cause an inability for the human brain to properly grasp and interpret the situation. It was an issue I often ran into because when I did have sensory overload I didn’t cry or have an overtly emotional tone. My face often defaulted to a flat expression but this was especially true if I was overloaded.
I have over time learned to recognize that not making a face or having a discernible voice tone is disturbing to some people and whether they do it intentionally or not they show that in the face they make back at me. It’s not necessarily an emotion I can interpret on a deep level but rather a common reaction I’ve learned to identify with people I interact with. I confuse people and no amount of that bothering me will make me able to be more emotive or force an expression onto my face. Sometimes I just feel nothing and that’s part of my daily reality.
People on the spectrum often also do what is called stimming. Stimming is the repetition of physical movements, sounds, or repetitive movement of objects common in individuals with developmental disabilities, and most prevalent in people with autism spectrum disorders. For some it can be rocking,shaking, or pacing but it can also be a repetitive hand motion,kicking,making a certain noise continuously or even biting. Stimming is something unique to each person on the spectrum so it’s a behavior that manifests differently for every person.
If you see the person with sensory overload stimming and it’s not dangerous or distracting you don’t necessarily need to stop them. Stimming is actually how some people on the spectrum calm themselves or let out excess energy. It can also be how some people on the spectrum process an emotional response. You also don’t need to point it out if the person isn’t dangeorus or distracting. Stimming is often done somewhat instinctively so the person may not be fully aware of doing it. Pointing it out can sometimes add a new layer of anxiety when the person already has a lot to process.
If you do see a person stimming in a violent or destructive way such as biting themselves or slamming their head into something then approach them with understanding and try to calm them without being too intrusive or excitable. Staying calm and getting them to a safe area is the most important thing at that time.
When sensory overload is happening it can be very hard for that person to communicate what they need and I think that deep down some people do want to understand and help. We’re reaching a point in our society where the inevitable situation is that a lot of people on the spectrum are going to be out there existing alongside neurotypicals and more than understanding what my world is like,understand that I and a lot of people on the spectrum want that and just want to be understood as people.
Understand that I am indeed a little different and my world might look,sound,or feel a little different than yours. I may not always be able to express that but understand the best thing you can do as a person outside of my world is acknowledge it exists. Don’t patronize me and don’t pity me. If you want to help me than understand that sometimes you can’t but there are simple things you can do to show me you’re making the effort to bridge that communication gap. Help me find a comfortable place,listen to me without judging me, and make an effort to take what’s happening to me as a genuine and serious problem. If you can give me your time and understanding then eventually I can start giving you trust because as a disabled person I’ve been hurt a lot in my life and it’s a lot more difficult for me to trust people.
While sensory overload can be a difficult issue to wrap your mind around, the first step in handling it and helping someone dealing with it is to adopt a willingness to understand without judging. You don’t need to be scared,intrusive, or go to efforts to ignore the person. The more we shed the idea of differences being negative,the more we can bridge that gap to understand and help the people around us.
A big part of understanding the world of a person on the autism spectrum is that we need to grasp that world is different and just because you or another neurotypical person may not see the big deal, it is a real and disruptive problem for that person on the spectrum. The world is a whole lot scarier when all the lights are brighter,all the noises are louder,all the smells are stronger, and all the textures are more prominent. The key to change will be when we make the effort as people to better understand the perspectives outside of our own and bridge that gap of communication between neurotypicals and people on the spectrum. The world isn’t going to stop being a little loud and scary for those people but if those on the spectrum can start trusting and finding comfort in the neurotypical community around them, maybe it’s fine if the world is a little scary sometimes.
I think that most people can come to an agreement that hospitals are not fun places to be. No person wants to be in a hospital regardless of the reason and as places they have a sort of common trait of being sterile and sort of unnerving. Now I’ve been open in past blogs about being a somewhat sickly person so I definitely see my share of medical facilities and obviously hospitals in the past but today I’m going to give you a real glimpse of what it’s like to be in a psychiatric hospital.
I want to put forth a small disclaimer before I delve into the article though. For privacy reasons I will not be disclosing the name of the hospitals or any names of people I’ve met in those hospitals. Because of the nature of why people are in them and just for the sake of respectful confidentiality this will be the case. Second, please understand that I am one person and not an across the board view of these services. The extent of these services and the legal circumstances around them will vary person to person and state to state so I can only attest to my personal experiences and not act as a universal instance of how psychiatric hospitalization functions. Third is of course that this is going to be a blog about being in a psychiatric ward so some content may be “triggering” as the kids say these days. Please read at your own discretion. If you think it’s a bit too heavy of a topic join me in a few blogs when I talk about fidget spinners but don’t force yourself to read something that might be uncomfortable.
So for starters we’ll take a sort of brief look at the process and system of these institutions. Psychiatric hospitals have been around for quite some time but have evolved from a neglectful and overcrowded facility where people often left mentally ill loved ones to waste away to much more regulated systems that are sometimes housed alongside outpatient facilities. Depending on your resources and what’s available in your area there may even be some that are closer to a fancy rehab center. But let’s make a distinction here. While there are still larger facilities that would be crudely fitting into a model closer to an older mental facility model these are not the hospitals I’m speaking of today. Those larger facilities are more in place for people who are much more severely ill,not able to live independently on a long-term basis, or a consistent danger to themselves or others. The facilities I’m speaking of are a model on a smaller scale that are typically attached to a typical hospital and accessible to your common working stiff having usually an immediate and life-threatening bout of mental illness that needs short-term observation and slightly more intensive care than what outpatient mental health services can offer, but not the fully institutionalized experience.
This level of psychiatric hospitalization can apply to perhaps a person having a nervous breakdown or a person having an unusual spike in normally manageable mental health symptoms. The key criteria that is required for this type of care is typically the presence of homicidal or suicidal intentions, but depending on the laws where you are, suicidal ideation is also valid criteria and exception can be made based on the facility and regulating laws that apply. Suicidal ideation is by loose definition thinking heavily about death or taking your life but with relatively low risk of acting on it. In this case the person is being taken in so they can be safe and observed until that sensation passes. Ideation is typically not considered as heavily as an active attempt. I can attest to that personally. But it should be noted that ideation is as dangerous as taking a knife to yourself or popping too many pills. It’s the mental equivalent to standing on a cliff edge and is still a key component to having suicidal tendencies. It’s also in general and as many doctors have relayed to me, not a healthy trait.
The first stop when a person seeks inpatient care at a facility like this is the emergency room. You typically see a regular physician first so they can rule out any other causes to your current state beyond a psychiatric issue. They also take blood and urine samples. As a pee shy person who’s afraid of needles this is actually the worst part for me. I can deal with a rock hard and cheap mattress or not having my phone but needles and peeing in a cup crosses the line somehow. Now a lot of your comfort level at that point will depend on how much you dislike hospitals. I don’t think anyone likes them but I think everyone has a varying tolerance for them. This is also the point in the process where the road splits for people.
Some people are actually okay just making the step to air out their concerns so after speaking with someone about your issues you may be fine to be discharged home as long as you aren’t a danger to yourself. If you get deemed as being at risk and meet the criteria you may be walked through the process of voluntarily signing yourself in for a minimum of usually 72 hours. But there is also another alternative as you may have guessed so from here we’re going to walk down both paths. I need to disclose before doing that however, that I can only first hand talk about voluntary as I’ve never been in a psychiatric hospital involuntarily in the three times I’ve been there. I will do my best, as I have spoken to other patients who were there involuntarily, to at least give a loose idea of that experience.
Voluntary intake is typically a minimum stay of 72 hours or three days. The general experience of one of these facilities is mostly the same whether you are there voluntarily or otherwise though. While in these facilities every patient there will share the experiences of taking medications if necessary,attending group therapy sessions,and attending one-on-one sessions with a staff doctor. Now you may have seen some movie versions of these hospitals that dramatize the day-to-day activities drastically so let’s crush a few myths while we’re here.
So now that that’s out of the way, let’s take a breath and appreciate that most of the psychiatric hospitals you’ve seen in movies are in fact dramatized. They make psychiatric hospitals look a lot scarier then they actually are. It’s a lot more mundane than what the media makes it out to be really. While I can’t attest to a larger more secured facility the psychiatric ward of your local hospital is not likely to be a real life Kubrick experience or Unsane.
But there are some things you’ll be restricted from while there that at the most will maybe bum you out or make you a little bored. The main restrictions are for safety reasons and to prevent anyone having the tools for self-harm. Now if you are unfamiliar with self-mutilation or or suicide the items you can’t have will surprise you. The list is pretty large but here are the big ones you’d notice and maybe lift an eyebrow at.
In addition your toiletries and any outside snacks brought in for you are locked so you do have to ask for access to them. But the good news is you do get snacks. You can also have visitors and it’s not like a prison visitation room. Most of these places have a recreation room/cafeteria area which is where visitation is. You do have the restriction that you can’t touch or hug while there but other than that you can talk about whatever for 30-60 minutes or even a few hours depending on the day and the facility. You can also be like my husband and jokingly slide a candy bar across the table before the visit starts like it’s illegal contraband. Some facilities even have smoke breaks if you are inclined to that poison.
But they’ve taken all your stuff, so what can you actually do in your free time?
Here’s a list of stuff you can do:
Some of those are me messing with you but you get the idea and I won’t judge you if you like staring at walls. If you do have a bathroom phobia and you’re polite enough you can try wheedling your way into the staff restroom or just use the toilet first thing in the morning after it’s been cleaned. Consider that a pro tip I guess.
Basically there are things to do, so when you aren’t with group therapy or a doctor you can mindlessly watch TV or try some more mindful activities when you realize the cable is garbage in a hospital. Sometimes too frequent naps are frowned upon but I kind of had a free pass with my fibro and anemia and never got questioned, so that’s something for you to try out for yourself.
But let’s move on to the facility itself. What are the people like and what’s the therapy like? Well the facility I went to was actually pretty great staff wise. They typically have nurses on staff in shifts all day and the doctor will be there during the day. The nurse were always really great to me and responsive so in my personal experience it was a really positive and comforting atmosphere. Now it should be noted that I’m a very quiet and polite person around health professionals so whether they were nice because I was a nice patient is up to you to decide. But there were some nights where I was not easy to deal with because I needed a snack to boost my sugar at 2:00 A.M. or I was just freaking wide awake and in the hall at 4:00 A.M. because my body clock is just that way. They were still really nice to me and helpful in those situations and even listened to me talk a little before I wandered back to my room so kudos to you nurses going that extra mile. It does matter.
I was less impressed with my doctor because as one would expect, a person whose entire schedule is a revolving door of patients one after another can’t really get to know you and can’t spend too too long focusing on delving deep into your issues. If you have to go to one of these facilities just keep on the doctor because they can be a little more easily distracted and indifferent in those places. I would also keep my standards low and save your big breakthroughs for your regular therapist if you have one.
The facility itself was clean and organized. It still had the sterility of a hospital and the safety plastic furniture,windows you can’t open, and rock hard small mattress will remind you it’s not a luxury hotel but to be fair you have a roof over your head,a bed to sleep in,and three meals a day with mental health care added in which is a lot more than a number of people have at that very moment so don’t be a snob and appreciate that. You are still in a hospital. You might end up with a roommate but that can really go either way and they typically try to make an effort to put people by themselves or make sure the roommate is a good match if room and circumstances allow for it. If you do get a shit roommate they will usually try their best to accommodate moving you.
Group therapy is surprisingly mundane. It’s not nearly as exciting and jaw-dropping as TV and movies make it. Sometimes it’s a talk on a mental health topic or even just some basic art therapy. The idea is to keep you active and encourage you to engage other people but it probably won’t be life changing. You won’t be forced into it or dragged in and thrown into a cold metal chair. You will be enticed to join other patients in the recreation room and if for some reason you feel sick or don’t want to, you probably will be left alone.
The last thing to sort of touch on is cost though. This type of hospital stay is pricey. When I went I had insurance and it was over $1000 but I think that the price that matters if you feel like you need help with a mental health emergency is the value of the care and your peace of mind. Don’t assume you can’t afford to take care of yourself. Most hospitals will listen and even work out payment plans with you if you don’t have insurance. Getting your life back shouldn’t have a price tag.
Now the day-to-day is about the same when you’re admitted involuntarily but getting there is not. Involuntary intake is usually a result of a domestic situation or the next step after a person fails a suicide attempt. There are a few key things to remember here though. The first is that these situations aren’t always involuntary. My first trip to one of these facilities was when I was still in high school and had done some cutting with a piece of glass on my left arm. I was able to sign in voluntarily. Most facilities do give you some options if the circumstances allow to still come in as voluntary. Additionally, if you show marked improvement and openness to treatment, you can have your stay switched over to being a voluntary one after a few days.
I actually recall having an argument with someone on Twitter when I started seeing trailers for the Unsane movie that you can’t be “tricked” as the movie implies into being admitted and this is a truth. There are a whole bunch of forms and clearances involved with being admitted and as long as you read before signing, you’re golden and doing what most adults with common sense do. You cannot be tricked into voluntary admission or involuntary admission because for legal reasons hospitals just don’t do that. There are a ton of papers and procedures that come before you even see the psychiatric ward. They also ask you after every single form if you have questions about it. No one is forcing you to sign or not allowing you to read the fine print so if you sign something without reading it is sort of on you at that point. Reading things before you sign them is another pro tip. I’m truly on fire today.
If you happen to be at this type of facility as an involuntary admission I would say to keep an open mind. Don’t assume it’s a bad situation. You may need the cooldown period because of a recent incident in your life or really find some benefit in a mental health vacation you didn’t realize you needed. If you are trying to get it switched to voluntary that will never happen if you aren’t receptive to treatment and discussing what landed you there in the first place. Mental health can be tricky and we sometimes jump unconsciously and don’t realize we’re in freefall until someone catches us and wakes us up.
So now we can talk about going home. The first steps here are that you need to in a voluntary status and cleared by the doctor. But there’s really very little difference from a typical hospital discharge. Sometimes the paperwork can take a few hours to get gathered up but after a staff member reviews the papers and you arrange a ride you just leave out of the normal hospital entrance and go home. You typically do a follow-up a few weeks later with an outpatient therapist and then you pay your bill. It’s really pretty straightforward and mundane. You get all your stuff back that you came in with that had to be locked up for safety procedure but trust me,everything will be there. They do an inventory of everything you came in with down to the color of the underwear you had on at the time of intake so all of your belongings will be accounted for and returned in pristine order. You half a tree to take home with you as a bonus that has discharge instructions and if you were prescribed anything those medications get sent out to your pharmacy before you even leave.
One of my big goals with this blog was to open some eyes to the benefits and myths surrounding psychiatric hospitalization. Once you wrap your mind around the fact it’s not like it is in media, you can grasp that it can be a huge benefit if you feel like things are falling to the wayside and you need a brief vacation from your own life. I don’t want to lie and say there isn’t something scary about the process though. The scariest thing about this type of facility is the reality but one of the things that can save you when mental health is bringing you down is seeing that sometimes it can be worse.
I can still vividly picture a girl who was a patient on my first trip to the hospital in the same ward,covered head to toe in razor cuts. I never thought of cutting my arm again and wanted to work even harder toward getting better when I was released. I met children who were moving to their fourth or fifth foster home and didn’t know who their real parents were. I met what could have been my future if I gave up on myself. As grim as that may seem, a dose of reality can save your life when it comes to mental health. It’s easy to get sucked into a haze or a state of denial or indifference to your own well being. But things can always be worse. Being that close to rock bottom is sometimes the thing that changes a person’s life. You might be afraid to visit there but it might also encourage you to make that visit temporary and turn your life around.
If you need help and you feel like the situation is falling through your fingers, consider getting the help you need. There is a huge stigma on things like psychiatric hospitalization but no person should feel shame for trying to improve their life. Get rid of the misconceptions,ignore the media portrayal, and appreciate that you have a right to being happy. If you feel like you’re in danger of hurting yourself or feel an urgent need to speak to a health professional than care about yourself enough to do that and do what’s best for you above outside perception.
Thousands of people are suffering in silence right now and sometimes give up on life completely because of the stigma that the media and social myths have put on psychiatric hospitals as a treatment option. It’s time for us to take real steps to end the stigma and understand that it’s okay to need help. If you feel like you need to step away from your life and regroup or know someone who could benefit from that, let’s talk about it!
Encouraging people to take a new look at the benefits being missed by fearing psychiatric hospitals is a conversation people need to have because giving it a chance could literally save a life. I know I would be in casket right now if I hadn’t taken that step to invest in my mental health and all the avenues of treatment available to me. It can be scary but it can also be the missing piece to reclaiming your quality of life.