Tag Archives: Counseling

So pissed off!

Photo credit:  Tétine

Right,  I am so pissed off,  angry,  real,  hot,  lava red angry.

And it’s got nothing to do with today,  yesterday or the day before.

Whatever happened (some stupid things that I did) are not the real reason why I am feeling so pissed off.  They serve merely as the triggers.

It’s going down,  deep inside,  to the core of my being.  Anger has fueled my survival mechanisms for very,  very long.

It’s the survival mechanism of my family of origin as well.  It’s learned.  It’s my dad getting of the handle and doing hurtful things.  It’s my brother responding to me (cuz often I teased him with words – my dagger of choice) with his fists.  It’s my dad and brother fighting.  It’s ugly.

It’s also a response to the traumas I suffered – when you can’t get away cuz the perpetrators are those who are supposed to take care of you.  In my case it turned inward,  harming myself – thankfully not in a visible way.  But anger-turned-inwards hurts you,  in any case – badly!

It’s the power with which I have lived and achieved quite a lot.  It made me a driven,  all-or-nothing kinda gall.  Someone going over dead bodies to reach her goal,  immediately setting a new one as there is no satisfaction,  ever.

But now,  after five years of talk therapy and 4,5 years with meds (getting less and less,  thank God!) and my emotions coming to life – I really don’t want to respond in the old way.  It’s become impossible really.

Now I know it is okay to be angry,  even necessary,  even right,  even at God.  I know He can handle it,  He is big enough and doesn’t get upset or offended.  I know all that.  But having lived years-and-years in a church environment where it was not really allowed (you know those unwritten rules? That sometimes actually become very clear? Well,  those!) to be angry,  certainly not at God –  for whatever reason –  make it still so darn difficult.

I had lay-counseling in my early years as a believer where the first question was:  “have you forgiven so-and-so?”,  even before my story was listened to… I struggle to express my anger even more.  Cuz once you forgive,  how can you still be angry,  right?

So,  yes,  I am angry and that is okay… now what?!

I don’t know what to do with it.  It just sits there,  inside of me,  raging.  I will contain it.  Clenched jaws,  clenched fists.

But it drives me mad,  people,  it really drives me nuts.

So,  if anyone out there has some healthy coping mechanism,  I’m all in for it.

For me,  kicking a pillow doesn’t work,  running neither (cuz of bad knee and ankle,  sigh),  throwing things ain’t working (been there, done that;  ended up with destroyed personal stuff that made me all sad and angry at myself again),  it’s raining outside (for a whole week! It drives me bonkers!!! since I am for two weeks close to the beach and one week has passed now,  argh!!!).

I need some real life solutions to let some steam off,  without the danger of me flying off the handle,  that would be rather counter-productive and possible – no likely – ugly.

I know,  it’s a tall order.

Tell me,  what works for you?  I really wanna know, you see:  Fire away,  please!

I am eagerly waiting…

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10 things about my Bipolar Disorder you didn’t know

1)     I am not sick!  Nor am I any more crazy than you!  (Are you sure? Hmm, actually, yeah.)  My brain might function differently than yours,  but other than that,  I am just… me.

2)     I can be sick, and/or indisposed,  at times,  when for one reason or another it is too hard for me to handle my mood swings or I end up in a particular nasty or difficult mood.

3)     Bipolar Disorder does not define who I am.  There is a whole lot more to me than swinging along on my mood-swing.

4)     There is so much to learn from all my moods,  as I experience a whole range of emotions that ‘normal’ people do not.  Yes, it’s definitely a tough road to deal with it on a consistent basis,  but hey,  is your life so easy-peasy?

5)     I don’t need to be ‘cured’ – I was born this way and I have not known anything different.  I might not recognize myself anymore…  Now, that is a scary thought!

6)     Even though I hate my meds and I’d like to chuck ’em out of the window from time-to-time,  I am med-compliant.   The consequences of doing so keep me from doing it.  No visit to the p-ward for me,  if I can help it,  thank you very much!

7)     Having regular consults with a psychiatrist doesn’t mean I am crazy.  The stigma it carries unfortunately doesn’t stick to me.  I like my guy!

8)     Because I have ‘talk-therapy’,  it has helped me deal with a lot of ugly stuff in my past,  I’m getting to know my real self and I am learning an awful lot in the process.  I just love my counselor!  (And no,  you can’t have his number,  I have sharing-issues 🙂 )

9)     It’s really neat what I can accomplish when I am hypo manic!  Of course,  I need to keep it in check and thankfully I have some peeps helping me with that.  And some meds  (which I truly hate!)  to bring me down when necessary.

10) It’s okay to be me.  Well,  sorta.  Am on my way to self-acceptance.  Which includes ALL of me,  not just my ‘Bipolar-side’.

Disclaimer: Please,  note that this list reflects only me,  my view on & my experience with my Bipolar (Disorder) traits.
Also,  I have had 5 terrible,  difficult,  excruciating years behind me that brought me to this place with the help of some very important peeps.   This is how I see it right now,  which is subject to change 🙂

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Anger – a positive emotion?

Anger – an emotion that I still so much struggle with.  Not in the sense that I don’t think I should not be angry.  Not anymore, thank God.  I have come to realise that I have many good reasons to be angry.  It has finally dawned on me that the way I have been treated while growing up was very unhealthy and dysfunctional.

Unfortunately,  this continued in adolescence and adulthood.  My dysfunctional family prepared me for abuse from others.  As I came across such people they took advantage of me as I was an easy prey.

I was raised with having no rights other than doing as I was told.  Disagreeing or having my own opinion was simply not an option.  Consequently,  I learned at a young age to simply disappear in my own little world for protection.

So I never really learned to protect myself.  Leaving me wide open for abuse and bad treatment from others.

Anger has the function to help us turn away from that what is threatening us.  It causes us to put distance between the source of the threat and ourselves.  But if I get angry at someone who is supposed to take care of me,  like a parent,  I might have a problem.

In my case it was not safe to express my anger.  I was not safe,  period.  So my anger went underground where it turned against myself.  It has been one of the causes of my ugly and deep depressions.  It is the reason why I have struggled with self-harm.

You see,  in a healthy relationship between parents and children,  there is room for the emotions of the child. The parent is able to acknowledge the emotion,  to help the child to give words to it and to express understanding of the child’s frustrations.

Now, let me be clear:  It doesn’t mean that ‘no’ turns into ‘yes’ to appease the child.  By no means!

After all,  the parents are responsible for drawing the line.  Within the given boundaries applicable to the age of the child,  he is safe.  Without boundaries the child gets afraid and anxious as there is too much room for him to handle.  Consequently,  he will act out.  With too many boundaries the child gets afraid and anxious in case it will cross a boundary by accident.  Consequently,  he will hide himself.

Because as a child we think that the way things are done in our family of origin is the norm, we are not able to distinguish between the good and the bad.  As I was the one in our family that ultimately from a very young age was carrying the responsibility,  I thought that was absolutely normal.

For me it has been such an eye-opener to realise that nothing that happened to me in my family of origin was my responsibility.  It is something that I am still trying to grasp at a deeper and deeper emotional level.

It also makes me very angry as I had to live through quite an amount of abuse that carried on into adolescence.  When I think of what it set me up for in my adult life – it is too hard to even contemplate.

Yet.

It is so freeing to know the truth:  that it is okay to be angry.

Sure,  I wish I knew how to deal with it properly,  so it wouldn’t drag me into depressions time and again when something triggers my anger.  But,  I am working on how to express my righteous anger.  And since I have come such a long way,  I know I will get thru this too.

But please,  rather sooner than later,  pretty please??

How do you deal with your anger?  I’d love to hear from you!

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Living with bipolar traits is my normal life. And no, I am not sick or disordered, thank you very much!

One of the hardest things I find myself dealing with on a daily basis, is figuring out why I feel the way I feel.  The answer to this question is important,  because it decides how I will deal with myself and my emotions. 

The problem is:  it is so damn hard to distinguish if I feel as I do because of my brain chemistry,  or because there was a trigger.  In other words: are the chemicals in my brain misfiring and making me feel depressed / manic without any other reason than the fact that is the way my brain is working? 

It is important for me to know the answer as that will cause me to treat myself differently,  depending on the reason why I feel the way I do. 

Say,  if it is my brain chemistry making me feel yucky and depressed,  I will try to ignore the tug to stay in bed,  do nothing and hibernate.  I might not be able to accomplish much,  but I still will try to function to the best of my ability and try to be happy with anything I will be able to accomplish that day.

However,  if something triggered my depression,  then I will have to figure out what exactly  the trigger consists of.  Is it a thought I had that made me sad and pulled me down?  Is it a certain smell that brought bad memories to the surface?  Did somebody say something to me that caused me to start thinking negatively about myself?  Is it because I made an assumption based on a situation, a response, or a lack thereof?  Is it some past trauma that is rearing its ugly head? What is IT?  Sometimes I simply don’t know.  But once I know what the IT is,  I have to deal with IT. 

If there is a good reason to feel low / depressed,  I might give myself a break.  For instance,  right now after returning from my 3,5 week trip to Ukraine I have so many impressions to process.  I am in touch with my key people,  but other than that I keep a low profile and take a lot of rest.  Which means I sleep a lot even during the day.  But that is okay.  For now.  But next week I will pick up my active life,  if I feel like it or not.

Why is it so important to find the answer to the question?  Because if I let  my feelings go,  I might end up in a depressive state that will pull me deeper and deeper,  which might happen slowly or very fast.  Or the opposite might happen,  and I end up being (hypo)manic and maybe even paranoid.  Either state can,  once it is full-blown,  last for months and it will take hard work plus usually additional meds to get out of it.  Neither is to be desired.

That is one big reason of why I am in counseling:  to learn how to deal with all those IT’s that fill my life (un)aware.  IT’s can be so sneaky and creep up on you when you are not looking.  Even when I know what IT is playing it’s part,  I still need to work out how to respond.  Which is different depending on the reason behind IT.

You see,  I refuse to be a victim of this so-called ‘illness’.  I AM NOT!  This is the way I was born,  the way I have been made,  and it is okay.  I want to add a BIG note,  though,  that it has taken me quite a while (years) to come to accept the fact that I am labeled as “suffering from Bipolar Disorder”.  I rebel against being labeled “mentally ill”.  I hate the fact that this label causes me trouble being insured for health and for when I die (because of the chances I might end up in hospital and the higher chances of suicide).

I want to scream from the roof top: I AM ONLY DIFFERENT,  I AM NOT ILL, DISABLED  OR DISORDERED!!! 

Yes,  there will be times when I won’t be able to handle my bipolar traits very well.  So what?  Yes,  I need some close people around me to help me deal with the fall out of my bipolar traits.  So what?  Yes,  there will be times I will talk your head off.  So what?  Yes,  there will be times I will hibernate and be invisible.  So what?  Yes,  my brain functions different from yours and apparently I deal differently with emotions.  So what?

I don’t know any better,  for me it is normal,  it’s just the way I am.  SO WHAT?!?

To be continued!!!

Related post: Are you ‘normal’?

Picture courtesy of: The Franklin Institute

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Counseling degree

At the beginning of the year I decided it was time to study again.  I had the need to challenge my brain.  With my interest in counseling in mind I went on a search at the internet.  To my surprise I found a two-year college degree stress counseling!  I thought:  now, that’s my thing!

I through the idea around in my head for a while and decided to give them a ring.  Cuz the payment requirements were throwing me off.  I just wasn’t able to come up with the whole amount in one go.  These people were ever so accommodating and we came to a very acceptable arrangement.  I was so excited!

Until the course material came in,  that is…   At that moment I realised that ‘counseling’ can mean something different depending on the context ànd the country.  Yikes! 

You see,  I have lived for over three years in the States,  have read numerous English books about counseling and have been and continue to be counseled myself by an American counselor.  But remember,  even though I write in English,  I am presently living in my home country the Netherlands.  Apparently the word ‘counseling’ means something different here.  (it is even spelled different:  ‘counselling’ and I just can’t get used to the extra ‘l’)

The counseling techniques that are being taught are based on the teachings of Carl Rogers and Gerard Egan.  Nothing wrong with that, let’s be clear about this.  I am simply thoroughly disappointed that it seems all so very basic.  Had I seen the material before,  I probably would have reconsidered.   

The techniques are pointed towards helping the client tell his/her story,  help find what bothers them the most,  brainstorm over the possible solutions,  help decide on the right one,  help set up a plan to reach their goal and support them on the way to reaching it. 

Of course,  there is still plenty to learn in applying the knowledge.  When one is open,  there is always something to learn.  True.  But,  I am having some serious issues with it all.  Mind you,  they are MY issues.  So,  I have to deal with them.  I bought the course,  there is no option in dropping out,  plus I need the degree for studying at a university in the States.  (And a ship load of money,  but let’s not talk about that right now.)

So, I push on. 

It strikes me as funny that something simple becomes more of a challenge than something difficult :).  Although I am not laughing.  Yet.  I will though,  once I have graduated, oh yeah!!

Photo courtesy of http://www.free-photos.biz/

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Hello world!

Welcome to my blog!  I am excited to start this new adventure, although it is a bit daunting that stuff I write will be for the whole world to see… 🙂

Also, I am just learning how the bloggy world functions which is sometimes a bit much for my technically challenged mind.  

Nevertheless,  here I am! 

I very much hope to link up with like minded people who are passionate about the same things as I am. That means quite a variety of subjects.  

My faith means everything to me as without God I would not be alive today. It’s a long story, I won’t drop it on you right now.  

I have lost part of my heart in Israel and Ukraine.  For eight years I was involved in the ‘aliyah’, the return of the Jewish people to Israel from Ukraine.  It’s been unforgettable and made me aware of our Jewish heritage as believers in Jesus.  Most likely I will be sharing with you about this.  For the next 3 years I was involved with youth in Ukraine,  reaching out and discipling youth and young women at risk.  And believe me, there are many risks out there.   

Anything related to counseling, self-help and psychology grabs my attention.  Human beings are endlessly interesting. We are intricately made with a soul, mind and spirit.  The fact that we are able to survive so many things and continue to live meaningful lives is amazing to me.  My quest is to understand how ‘life works’ and how we can make the best of it.  To reach our full potential, fulfil what God has prepared for us.  Discover His unique calling on each of our lives.  

Another passion of mine is getting my Bipolar Disorder ‘in order’.  A phrase coined by Tom Wootton,  a respected author on bipolar disorder.  On this blog you will definitely read a whole lot more about bipolar as I am committed to this journey so I can live life to the fullest and fulfil my dreams.  I am so excited about this!  Even though it has created a lot of havoc in my life, I believe that with the right tools and practice a lot more is possible for me.

Even though I feel some trepidition (sp?) I am gonna send out my post for the world to see – here you go!

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