Mindful Monday – Mental Illness

Today’s Mindfulness Monday is not really quotes on mindfulness, they are mindful quotes on mental health.  There are more quotes than usual, I actually found over 30 that I liked and finally cut it down to these 7.  After each quote I will explain why I chose that particular quote.  I hope you will bare with me, as most of you know I’m working through a mental health crisis of my own, and working on this post has helped me feel not so alone.  ***Please note that this post contains a frank discussion on mental health issues including suicide ideation.

“Beautiful fake smile.

All it takes is a beautiful fake smile

 to hide an injured soul and

they will never notice how broken you really are.”

~Robin Williams

I chose this quote because we I often use a fake smile to get through the day.  Whether it be because of my physical or mental illnesses, that fake smile makes others believe I’m okay, and that makes dealing with the general public, and sometimes even those closest to me, easier.  I don’t have to explain, I don’t have to deal with the awkwardness…..the fake smile, is a shield I use to deflect the judgments from others.  

“Be proud of every step

you take towards stability,

no matter how big or small.”

~Jessica AnnHardy

I have been feeling like all the work I’ve been doing to overcome this crisis has shown little improvement.  I chose this quote because it reminded me that even the smallest steps toward my stability are worth being proud of.

“I’m still me no matter

my mental health”

~Niki McBain

Earlier today I texted a friend how afraid I am that this is my new normal, all the anger, and simply being a bitch all the time.  I’m no longer a nice person.  I told her, “I feel like I’ve lost Wendy”  I chose this quote simply because it reassured me that Wendy is still in there somewhere.

“It’s exhausting to fight a war

inside your head

every single day.”

~Mickie Ann

If you don’t have a mental illness I don’t think you can ever understand this quote, if you do, I doubt I have to explain why I included it.  This constant battle going on in my head is driving me insane….or perhaps I’m insane is why I have the battle in the first place….these are the kind of questions that bombard me all the time lately.  Every… Single….Day

“Surviving a psychiatric crisis is one thing.

Overcoming one is something completely different.”

~Chris Curry

I hope to somehow understand this, and hopefully so will my husband.  Right now we are in survival mode, overcoming it is going to be a long, hard process.  (I’m not sure it will ever happen completely)

“The bravest thing I ever did

was continuing my life

when I wanted to die.”

~Juliette Lewis

Okay, I’m admitting something here so other’s my hear my pain, and will perhaps not feel so alone.  Each day since this crisis began has been a fight for my life.  More than once I’ve thought it would be best if I were not here.  I’m not being selfish, of looking for the easy way out.  I’m hurting the person I love most, over, and over, and over again.  When I’m having the most severe emotions, rage, despair….and the psychosis (auditory hallucinations)  I cannot see that removing myself from this world would hurt him worse, I can only see that I’m causing him so much pain, and at that moment I believe that if I’m wasn’t here it would be better for him…and others I love.  I want to remove myself from the situation.  Actually, that’s exactly it, I am simply trying my hardest to get away from the war inside me, I simply need to escape.  The pain is just too great.  Please do not judge me, if you do, keep it to yourself, my psyche can’t handle it right now.  I am not in danger, my husband and my psychiatrist know about this and I’m being watched….like a child….I hate it.

”You know when you’re in a bad dream

and you’re trying to run, punch, kick, or scream,

 and your body just won’t move?

You open your mouth and nothing comes out.

You feel frozen or in slow motion,

 and no matter how hard you try to fight it,

nothing changes.

That’s how it feels to battle mental illness.”

~Evyenia

When I read this quote I thought….Yes!!  It is often like that.  I feel like I scream and scream and even when I’m making noise it makes no sense.  I’m stuck, I can’t get out.  I just want me back again!  There are so many people who feel like they aren’t themselves after they start their psychiatric medication, especially those who are bipolar I, like me.  I will admit, when I first started my meds I wondered if the changes in my moods were making me less….me.  I was losing part of who I identified as me, but after I was stable for a while I realized that the real me was the stable person.  I no longer had times of extreme mood swings, I no longer did so many dangerous things, I felt more in control.  Yes, I missed being able to pain for days on end, I don’t feel I’ve been as creative, and I miss the times I could read 2-3 books in one day, but I don’t miss buying a car I couldn’t afford, or having sex with someone and not remembering it, or losing days that I don’t remember.  That wasn’t me.  When I’d relapse, which has never been as bad as this crisis, I’d run to my doctor immediately for help.  I didn’t like that feeling at all, I was suddenly not me.  And suddenly after 20+ years, I’m having a severe crisis.  It scares the hell out of me.  I will say, I think I’m better today than I was 2 weeks ago, but I still have a long way to go.

I just want to be Wendy again.

***by the way, the photo above is a self portrait I took a few years ago.  I haven’t been in the mood to take many pictures lately, and I felt this photo was appropriate.  (all right’s reserved)

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Mindfulness Monday: #GivingTuesday

“Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.”

J.M. Barrie

“. . . It’s a beautiful dance, this giving and receiving!”

Heather Powers “Grateful Girl”

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under who shade you do not expect to sit.”

Nelson Henderson

Tomorrow, Tuesday November 27, is #GivingTuesday (Giving Tuesday) — the first Tuesday after American Thanksgiving.

“#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.  . . . One of the best ways to get involved is in your own community. . . join the movement and give – whether it’s some of your time, a donation, gift or the power of your voice in your local community.” #GivingTuesday

I am grateful to Wendy for her friendship, compassion, caring, and the chance to participate in Mindfulness Mondays.

Tomorrow, I will give some of myself.

And, just because:

. . . With an open smile and with open doors

I bid you welcome, what is mine is yours

With a glass raised to toast your health

And a promise to share the wealth . . .

Stop and look around you

The glory that you see

Is born again each day

Don’t let it slip away

How precious life can be

With a heart that is wide awake

. . . with a thankful heart

“Thankful Heart,” Paul Williams, A Muppet Christmas Carol

 

Mindfulness Monday: calmness

“Calm the winds of your thoughts, and there will be no waves on the ocean of your mind.”

Remez Sassoon

“Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet, it is a way of entering into the quiet that is already there – buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.”

 Deepak Chopra

“Empty your mind of everything – let the mind become still.”

Lao Tzu

I create personalized “mindfulness” or “grounding” cards. On different coloured index cards, I print out a quote; a saying; a thought gleaned from elsewhere, or sometimes from somewhere inside me.

I carry two with me . . . always.

The first is a grounding exercise to use when I have a panxiety attack, feel like I’m drifting too far from shore, or to help be mindful of my surroundings by using all my senses. *

The other:

“Calm as a koi pond.”

Lorraine

* Borrowed from the “web of thoughts.” Can be modified to suit a person’s abilities and needs; I took the whole.

Look around you and find:

FIVE things you can SEE

FOUR things you can TOUCH

THREE things you can HEAR

TWO things you can SMELL

ONE thing you can TASTE

And, Wendy (who is taking a break from Mindfulness Monday today) gave me a wonderful set of 65 Power Thought Cards, beautifully written and richly, colorfully, and playfully illustrated by Louise Hay.

On one side is a saying; the reverse is a longer meditation on that specific thought/phrase/concept.

I carry around two:

“I am willing to change.”

“I express my creativity.”

Thanks to Wendy, (and Mindfulness Mondays), I am “working” on both!

image: © lorraine

Mindfully seeing

“The best way to capture moments

is to pay attention.

This is how we cultivate mindfulness.”

~Jon Kabat-Zinn

 

This week I decided to try to get back to the basics of my mindfulness practice.  When I first started learning about being mindful I would take time to really look at things up close and see all the little things about them. I tried to keep my attention on the object and discover as much as I could about it, is it smooth? bumpy? soft? scratchy? colorful? alive?…… just trying to mindfully seeing the world, one piece at a time.  At one point I took my camera and took a ton of pictures of one object, seeing it through the camera lens made me pay even more attention to it.  This week I did that same exercise.  I’d like to share some of the photos I took.  These are all objects you might see in day to day life, I just got up close and personal with them.  I’m only sharing one photo from each object I looked at instead of a ton of one item, I thought it’d be fun to see if you can guess what each object is?  **answers can be found at the bottom of this post

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I challenge you to go out in your world today and pay attention to the world around you, one piece at a time.

What did you see today?

 

I hope you liked this version of Mindfulness Monday.

**The photos above are of a Dust mop, a plastic bowl on my kitchen counter, the shutters in my living room, the metal grating on my front door (like a super duper screen door, but with heavy metal), and the refection of the pool shining on my ceiling dancing with the shadow of the fencing.  (I have to say the last one isn’t nearly as interesting as it is when you see it literally dancing on the ceiling.)

All photos are the sole property of W. Holcombe.  Please do not use without permission.

 

Mindfulness Monday – Life as it is

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“What would it be like if I could accept life

– accept this moment –

exactly as it is?”

– Tara Brach

 

“How you look at it is

pretty much how you’ll see it.”

 – Rasheed Ogunlaru

 

“Every experience,

no matter how bad it seems,

holds within it a blessing of some kind.

The goal is to find it.”

– Buddha

 

“Don’t let life harden your heart.”

 – Pema Chödrön

 

Today I searched for quotes to help me simply accept life has it is right now, and change my thought process about it all.  I promised someone recently, “Don’t worry I won’t let her steal my joy”, but by the time I said that, I realize I had already allowed that to happen.

The serenity prayer states, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.”  My biggest problem right now is that I don’t feel I have the wisdom to know the difference.   I’m spinning my wheels trying to figure out what I can change, and if I can’t change things, how can I just accept that?  What blessing do I find in it?  The greatest comfort I have right now is knowing that everything changes.  This is just a blip in my life, it will change…..right??  Please tell me it will change.  Between the stress in my personal life and the stress of politics right now, I just feel overwhelmed.

The holidays are coming up.  I was really looking forward to having the holidays with family, but it is way too complicated for me.  I’m ready to run away and hide for the next couple of months.  Anyone want to come with?

 

*photo by W. Holcombe, all rights reserved.  October Sunset in Tucson.

Mindfulness Monday: community

“Returning hate for hate multiples hatred, adding deeper darkness to a night devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Martin Luther King

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

Mother Theresa

“Embrace diversity, promote unity; create a loving and accepting community.”

Estee Levison

“In every community there is work to be done. In every nation there are wounds to heal. In every heart there is the power to do that.”

Marianne Williamson

Wendy usually posts three mindfulness quotes. Given the many events here in the US and in multiple places around our planet where war, imprisonment, starvation, fear and hate abound, I added one more.

These quotes, while not necessarily and strictly mindful in and of themselves, do speak to things we must remain mindful of: human worth, dignity and value; diversity; community; unity and forgiveness. Which leads to much-needed healing and the return of what, in some cases/places, has been lost: hope for the present, hope for the future.
Remember:

“So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole Earth.”

Baha’i writings

Anger is one letter short of danger.”

Anon.

Mindfulness Monday – Thich Nhat Hanh On Fear

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When I am in need of comfort, and have a desire for knowledge, I often turn to the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh.  His words resonate with me and make me feel understood.  I hope you find his words as compelling as I do.  (Thich Nhat Hanh is often referred to as Thầy, meaning Teacher, throughout this post I will also refer to him as Thầy)

Below you will find quotes by Thích Nhất Hạnh, from his book Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm. with comments by me on how these quotes reflect my life right now and help give me peace.

 

“The only way to ease our fear and be truly happy is to acknowledge our fear and look deeply at its source. Instead of trying to escape from our fear, we can invite it up to our awareness and look at it clearly and deeply.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh

During the past week I have been having vertigo again, even though I’m feeling much better now, the fear of the possibility that things could get worse has been creeping up.  My first instinct is to run from this fear, or push it down and refuse its validity.   After reading this quote I realized how much I have been trying to escape from my fear, I now understand that I need to investigate it’s cause and think about it rationally.

“When we recognize that we have a habit of replaying old events and reacting to new events as if they were the old ones, we can begin to notice when that habit energy comes up. We can then gently remind ourselves that we have another choice. We can look at the moment as it is, a fresh moment, and leave the past for a time when we can look at it compassionately.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh

Thầy really hit the nail on the head with this one.  For the sake of this post I will only talk about what has presently caused me to replay old events – a vertigo attack.  My automatic response to this attack was a flash back to my worst days experiencing vertigo.  The many days where I could do nothing but watch the world spin were suddenly replaying themselves in my mind.  It is refreshing to know that I have another choice.  I can take this attack as it is, a singular event, it is not part of my past  (well it is now…hopefully you get what I’m saying).  What happened this week was new, yes I’ve had thousands of vertigo attacks, but this was a different one, it was not one that I had already experienced, it was new.  It’s time to let the past go, to look at that time with compassion, especially for myself.

“We are very afraid of being powerless. But we have the power to look deeply at our fears, and then fear cannot control us.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh

How liberating this quote is!  I often feel that everything in my life is out of my control, that I am powerless.  I lost so much of my independence and then got some back, the vertigo attack brought back all the times that I was so dependent on others for everything.  It’s that loss of control (power) that scares me.  Thầy teaches that we always have power over our fear, yes we will always feel fear, but if we look closely at our fears and really get to the root of it, we can then see that our fear does not control us, we control it.

 

I hope you enjoyed this variation on Mindfulness Monday, if it is well received I may do this type of post more often.  

*photo by W. Holcombe – night sky…yes it really is the moon..in Tucson.  Please do not use without permission.  All rights reserved.  ©