I’m scared my mental illness makes me unlovable.

“It’s a statement I hate writing and a sentence I hate thinking about. But it’s how I feel. And as my depression and anxiety become more chronic, my thoughts about falling in love become more negative and my belief of the chances of it happening for me start to grow slim. While I know this is a small part of me, I can’t help but feel as though there is a giant neon sign following me, warning people away.

The truth is, when I tell the people I’m dating it usually starts out OK. They seem to understand and accept this is a part of me, but it isn’t all me.

But the further we get down the path of being together and the more they realize how much it actually affects my everyday life, that is when I see them start to look for the exit.

I’ve had exes tell me they can’t make me feel better because I’m letting these “issues” consume me. I’ve had exes tell me they don’t feel as though they can tell me the truth about things because they’re worried it’ll send me into a tailspin. I’ve had exes try to tell me how to manage my illnesses even though they’ve never experienced it themselves.

I don’t need someone to tell me what to do or how to do it when it comes to depression or anxiety. All I want, all I truly want, is someone just to love me through it. That’s the part that is sometimes lost on potential partners. I don’t need someone to fix me. I go to therapy. I take my medication. I work hard each and every day to ensure I am doing all I can to prevent the bad days from occurring more often than not.

What I do need is for someone to just be there when things get hard. When those bad days come on and I can’t think of a reason why I should get out of bed, I want someone to be there to just tell me I can do it. I want someone to hold me when, in the middle of the night, I can’t breathe because my anxiety is out of control. I want to be able to tell someone my deepest darkest secrets when it comes to my illness and not have them look at me like I have three heads.

I know it’s not easy to ask someone to be a part of my life when most of the time my moods are a little unpredictable. I know it’s not fair that I’m going to let someone down because I just can’t help myself from wanting to hide from the world on really bad days. I feel it’s not reasonable that sometimes my problems become their problems because I just need someone to shoulder a bit of the weight that comes with depression and anxiety.

I know all of these things but it doesn’t mean I’m unlovable or incapable of giving love. Because I so am. I know I am.

I will love the sh*t out of people despite the fact it’s sometimes hard to love myself. I am able to listen and accept criticism when things just aren’t working for my partner. I am able to just be there for someone when they’re having a really, really bad day. And I’m able to empathize, not sympathize or compare, when talking to someone about their problems.

So, I’ve been with people who don’t get me or my mental health. I’ve been with people who have told me that my mental illness makes it so it’s difficult to love me. I’ve also been the person pushing people away in order to protect myself from them potentially leaving me when it gets a little too hard to deal with.

But no one is perfect, and I am no exception.”

– Author : An inspiring individual who hopes to reach out to others in reinsuring they are not alone. ❤

 

For more information on mental illness and how to get help, go to http://www.nami.org to learn more.

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I think my mental illness makes it hard for someone to love me..

Disaster Preparation

Louisiana HurricaneThis time of year can be exciting for many reasons. A summer of relaxation and fun has just ended and new transitions are beginning. Children are starting school again, college kids are moving into dorms and working adults may be settling into a new position or project. Many things to look forward to as the season changes from summer to fall. All these may serve as a perfect or rather disastrous distraction from the looming dangers that often present themselves in southern Louisiana during the months of August and September. That danger is life changing floods and hurricanes. While most storms come and go with simply a raincoat and umbrella, there is always the chance of a catastrophic natural disaster hitting your home, school, or work. PREPARE.louisiana-emergency-preparedness-guide.png

Disaster preparation is key to safety and resiliency. It is imperative that we prepare beforehand. Keep emergency clothing, toiletries and prescribed medications packed in a bag, cash on hand, and important papers in a safe and easy to get to place in your home. Evacuate if possible. If it is not possible for you or your family to evacuate, be sure to “get a game plan”. For more information on disaster preparedness in Louisiana visit www.getagameplan.org. There is a ton of great information on topics such as putting a kit together, making preparations and staying informed. The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness has great information to help you develop a family plan for preparedness and a kid’s plan for preparedness. For business owners, there is also information on how to protect your business from natural disasters. Please protect yourself, your family and neighbors by being PREPARED this storm season. LOUISIANA STRONG!

NIALife Center for Counseling Awarded 3 Year CARF Accreditation

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We are pleased to report that NIALife Center for Counseling, LLC has been accredited for a period of three years for our Outpatient Treatment: Mental Health Adults Program and Outpatient Treatment Mental Health Children and Adolescent Program.

By pursuing and achieving accreditation, NIALife Center for Counseling, LLC has demonstrated that it meets international standards for quality and is committed to pursuing excellence.

This accreditation decision represents the highest level of accreditation that can be awarded to 
an organization and shows the organization’s substantial conformance to the CARF standards. An organization receiving a Three-Year Accreditation has put itself through a rigorous peer review process and has demonstrated to a team of surveyors during an on-site visit that its programs and services are of the highest quality, measurable, and accountable.

NIALife Center for Counseling, LLC is a not-for-profit organization that has been providing Outpatient Mental Health Treatment in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and surrounding areas since July of 2015.

CARF is an independent, nonprofit accrediting body whose mission is to promote the quality, value, and optimal outcomes of services through a consultative accreditation process that centers on enhancing the lives of the persons served. Founded in 1966 as the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, and now known as CARF, the accrediting body establishes consumer- focused standards to help organizations measure and improve the quality of their programs and services.

What does that mean for you?

  • Persons served and their families look for organizations that are accredited as a sign of quality when looking for services.
  • Accreditation is evidence to persons served that an organization has demonstrated its commitment to encouraging feedback, continuously improving services, enhancing performance, and managing risk.
  • Persons served and their families can be confident that services will be focused on their unique needs.

We would welcome an opportunity to further acquaint you with our services and respond to your questions. We believe we are a valuable asset to the community we serve and are all the more valuable because of our CARF accreditation.

 

 

For more information about CARF International, the standards, or the survey process, visit www.carf.org.

 

 

Healing for Tomorrow …

 

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In the U.S. 1.6% of the population suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder. This percentage may seem small. Nevertheless, this means there are over four million people in America alone who suffer from this illness.

BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER is a disorder characterized by unstable moods, behavior, and relationships. Symptoms include emotional instability, feelings of worthlessness, insecurity, impulsivity, and impaired social relationships.

 

There are several effective treatments for BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER to include individual therapy, coping skills training, support and group therapy and medical consultations by a licensed physician.

***What you are about to read contains graphic content written by someone who has been diagnosed with BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER and who uses “cutting” as a means of release. Cutting, also known as self-injury, is an unhealthy way to cope with emotional distress. Some people cut themselves when they feel overwhelming sadness, anxiety, or emotional numbness. Others do it to feel in control or relieve stress. It often begins between the ages of 12 and 15. In sharing this personal experience with BPD and cutting, the author hopes to bring awareness and educate others, as well as help those who are experiencing these symptoms understand they are not alone. There is help and healing available. This blog may cause discomfort, uneasiness or possibly evoke emotions you may not expect. If you or someone you know is suffering from this disorder or any of the symptoms related and are at risk, there is help available. Call the mental health crisis hotline 1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-969-6642.

 

Healing for Tomorrow…

Written by someone who struggles with symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

Perhaps now is not the time to dive into this blog. Or maybe now is the perfect time. I sit here struggling to see through the tears that have filled my eyes. I sit here struggling to fight the urge to do what I know has been proven to end the turmoil I feel inside.

I can’t even tell you when it first began. Was it the anxiety? Was it after my first break up?  No, it was before that. Or was it the time I had countless bobby pins where I had removed the smooth tips? I believe it was my fingernails digging into my arms. Yes, that’s when I first encountered the release.

The way I feel right now, watching these words appear on this screen, I don’t believe anybody could have saved me from myself. I am damaged. I am alone even among friends. Nobody understands and it is frustrating because I want to talk to someone but every time I pick up the phone to send a text, I end up shaking my cell phone and selecting “Undo”

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If only life were that easy. If only I could tap into the release of slashing my arms up again, then shaking the blood off to undo the damage I’ve caused myself, these tears would subside. I AM A CUTTER: even though I haven’t actually cut myself in 7 years. I will always be a cutter because the urge never goes away. I accept that. That being said, I cannot promise you or myself that I won’t close this laptop when I’m done and break my streak. I can never make that promise, because I always feel like I may just do it again. Each moment is a small victory for me. But I don’t feel like a winner.

Some may have looked upon my screaming face all those years ago and thought I was simply a bratty child throwing another tantrum. If someone had intervened, would I have turned out differently? If my mother wasn’t so busy recovering from a physically abusive relationship with my schizophrenic father, maybe she would have paid more attention to the signs. But, would that have even mattered?

I don’t know why I am the way I am, but I wish I could be more optimistic. I only see things getting worse. My rational friend calls this catastrophizing. I understand her point, so what does that make me? I see rationality, but choose the irrational path. I guess the first step is recognizing the problem. So as far as I’m concerned, this is another small victory to me.

Yet, I can’t stop these tears. I can’t stop the physical pain I feel when I’m hurt, sad or lonely. Cutting is truly my drug and the pain I feel right now is only withdrawal.

I can almost feel my spirit separating from my physical body, but I’m wide awake. This is when the rage sets in. I saw these words in my mind before I typed them and I contemplated even going there with this discussion we’re having… But I hate myself. This condition prevents me from making meaningful connections with people, so I’m alone. Even people who think they know me well really don’t know me at all. They don’t see me the way you see me right now because I don’t allow it.

Sure, there are a few select people who know about my borderline personality disorder, but they don’t understand the turmoil I go through. They don’t know that I cry myself to sleep at night or that I make lists of all the reasons I don’t matter to anyone only to rip the pages up and throw them in the trash. I honestly want to ctrl + ALT and delete this entire conversation. But then it wouldn’t be a conversation at all. That would be crazy, with the way I’ve been talking to you for the past 20 minutes.

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This doesn’t even chip away at the complexity of my existence. I have a lot more to say, but just don’t have the energy to type the words. I’m not like this all the time. I may be fine tomorrow. I’ll crack a few jokes or recall a funny story. I’ll make someone laugh. I’ll make someone’s day with my kindness. My next entry may be so surprisingly uplifting and inspirational that you’ll wonder if it was written by the same person. That’s my life, though. The understanding that everything will likely be brighter tomorrow is what keeps me from doing what cannot be undone.

 

For more information on Border Line Personality Disorder visit http://www.bpdglobal.com, National Institute of Mental Health http://www.nimh.nih.gov, National Alliance on Mental Illness www.nami.org

 

To learn more about self injurious behavior and how to get help go to www.helpguide.org

Fresh-prince-parents-just-dont-understand

“Parents Just Don’t Understand” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and then rapper Fresh Prince, known today as the blockbuster movie star Will Smith, was the teenager’s anthem back in 1988. The chart topping, Grammy award winning hit made a splash not simply due to its foot-tapping beat and clever lyrics but because the premise resonated with youth all across America as well as across nationality, religion and race. Although it has been almost 30 years since the song was written, I bet if you ask any skinny jean wearing, ultra tech savvy millennial teen, they would say the same thing the Fresh Prince said in 1988, “parents just don’t understand.”

Yeah, yeah, we all liked to think before having kids we would be the cool parent whose child can talk to them about any and everything. The truth is those teenage years can be anxiety provoking and downright hell for any parent. While some teenage defiance may be considered developmental “normal”, as teens move from childhood to adulthood, they seek individuation and challenge rules and ideas in an effort to become independent of their parents.

It is important to identify the difference between developmentally age appropriate defiant behavior and the loss of respect for a parent. In reality, adults make mistakes, even parents. And at times these mistakes, unbeknownst to us, gravely affect the demeanor, attitude, compliance level, education and even life choices of our teens. You can disregard the teenage attitude as just a disrespectful mouthy know-it-all youth but if you do so, you will gravely miss the opportunity to reach a new level in your relationship with your teen and likely not reconnect until their adulthood, if then. You will leave them feeling misunderstood, uncared for, lonely and isolated.

TeenagerThere are two missteps that can be made when parenting a teenager. First, at times parents have difficulty coming to terms with the fact that their child no longer responds to counting to 5 before a time out or even worse a spanking; nor will a deadly stare suffice as a tool to “get them in line”. We’ve all heard that parent say, “You have 3 minutes to get off the couch and wash the dishes.” Only to see their teen, 30 minutes later, still posting the perfect “selfie” onto their Instagram from the couch as a sink full of dishes remains.

Now that you have raised an intelligent, thoughtful, insightful teenager, it is important that you as a parent model communication skills; true, meaningful, articulate, verbal communication. This not only teaches the teen the basics in communication but models for them that when negative feelings arise such as anger, frustration, sadness, fear, and disappointment it is vital to still utilize effective communication. This does not mean lecturing. Having open dialogue with your teenager is essential. Simply eliciting fear out of your teen will not get them to comply. Just as your child develops into an adolescent, your parenting style should develop and change as well.

Secondly, when teens are outrageously disrespectful towards a parent figure there are reasons. Loss of respect for a parent does not simply come out of nowhere. Now back to adults being imperfect. Parents are human beings. Human beings make mistakes. Sometimes it goes unnoticed that these mistakes affect the children we create. The mistakes, some are made even with good intent and some with disregard, color how children react in every area of their lives. You may not see the connection between life events and your teen’s behavior but there is a direct correlation. Some parents believe their children should respect them regardless. But keep in mind, just as you are human, so are they.

The most disciplined child may show outward, superficial signs of respect saying, “yes ma’am” and “no sir”, never talking back or openly defying their parent. However, if true respect is lost for the parent, you may see more passive aggressive forms of defiance such as poor grades or never engaging in meaningful conversations with the parent.

Does this mean that parents must be perfect in order for teens to show them respect and follow their rules? The answer in short is no. In fact quite the opposite, instead of hiding the fact that parents make mistakes, it is affirming for parents to admit their mistakes. Parents should not only admit their mistakes to validate their child’s feelings but also to model for the teen accountability as well as how to again communicate and be honest with the ones we love even when it is difficult.

teen-and-parentsFive steps should be taken to open communication with your teen: (1) Ask for forgiveness. Grace is a value and character trait that we could all use more of. Apologizing for hurting your child is important. It validates their feelings and teaches them how to forgive. (2) Listen to the child’s hurt and response. Simply saying “I’m sorry”, does not heal a person although it is a good start. How many times have we heard someone say, “I said I’m sorry what else do you want?” Most times the answer is, “I want you to listen”. Yes, it is hard to listen to someone describe how you have hurt them. But this process is essential to healing. (3) Do not make excuses. Explaining why the life event happened and how we arrived here is valid and important in developing their understanding on an age appropriate level. Nevertheless, in doing so, do not un-validate the teen’s feelings. You can do this by saying things like, “This is why you shouldn’t be mad because I was just doing what was best for you.” Instead, allow them to hear you out, process and rebuild trust. This is how respect and care is re-established.

When children, especially teenagers feel as though they are not heard and there is no room or space for their feelings to be considered, you begin to see outward signs of disrespect and discontent. It is paramount to process life events such as divorce, death, substance use, violence and any other event that may cause turmoil in a child’s life to sustain and grow a relationship with your child. Do not ignore or forget your teen is traveling through life with you. Therefore, trying to shield them from life is counterproductive to developing a meaningful relationship. Check in with him or her every once in a while to acknowledge and truly listen to their feelings without being defensive or judgmental.

Mom and daughter talkingTeens have a voice. They may not always have the words or the tools to express that voice but their opinions, feelings and thoughts are there and must be acknowledged. Parents can train children to be seen and not heard but there can be grave consequences in trying to implement that philosophy with growing adolescents.

My PBL’s G.L.A.M Squad

Congratulations to My PBL’s G.L.A.M Squad 2015 Summer Session!   Gifted Ladies Acheiving Merit.

NIALife Center for Counseling was honored to be a part of celebrating these young women and their commitment to exploring their passions and pursuing their purpose. Congratulations to New Orleans own Mentorship program for women, G.L.A.M Squad! 

  
   

Cliff Note on the Illness of Mass Shootings

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Author: Dr. Shauna S. Snipes, Psy.D, Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Whether you believe in the evolution theory or you attribute the origin of life to a deity, we can all agree violence has been around since the beginning of human existence. So, has mental illness or at least the idea of mental illness. And, since the beginning of human existence, unjustified violence has been viewed as abnormal behavior. The first question one could ask is “what constitutes an unjustified violent act?” Or, better still, “who decides whether or not a violent act is justified?” The quick and dirty to the latter would be society. Most seem to agree violence is justified when it is committed to defend oneself or another from harm. Most also seem to view unprovoked violence against innocent people as unjustifiable. Inasmuch as this is true, individuals who commit unprovoked violent acts against “innocents” have been described as sadist, evil, lacking conscience, cold-hearted, etc. These words or [1]descriptors are usually relatable to mental illness.

Although there is research that argues violence is on a downward trend in America, many may find the premise hard to believe with the recent incidents of violence. And, as usually occurs, the incidents of mass shootings has put the spotlight on mental illness. Some argue it is unfair to address mental illness when discussing mass shootings. They express belief addressing mental illness in the context of mass shootings stigmatizes individuals diagnosed with a mental illness as violent. Still others argue, to address mental illness somehow justifies the act or defends the shooter. However, it may be most beneficial (in regards to mass shootings) to discuss the correlation between mass shootings and mental illness. Addressing mental illness in these incidents allows for continued study of mass violence and identification of risk factors for engagement in such acts. And, hopefully, risk factor identification will lead to establishment of prevention strategies.

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Does the average mass shooter have a mental illness?

A quick “survey” of individuals suggests a simple view of mental illness is “abnormal behavior.” A more lengthy description was given as “a mental imbalance that affects a person’s daily life and the way a person thinks, feels, behaves, and relates to others.” Considering these descriptions of mental illness, there is a strong argument for labeling a mass shooter as mentally ill. The act of shooting a group of people is in itself an abnormal act. Most would agree “normal” people do not go around shooting groups of people.   To speak to the lengthier description, which is pretty close to the DSM-V’s (the manual used to diagnose mental illness by licensed professionals) definition of a mental disorder1, most mass shooters have different or atypical cognitive processing which influences the way they think and, ultimately, behave. So, it is not surprising mental illness is, at the very least, considered when mass shootings occur in America.

Why should it be considered? Why justify their actions?

To consider whether or not a mass shooter has a mental illness does not justify his/her actions. The goal is to explore possible causes of the action or influences leading to the action. Furthermore, the goal of discussing mental illness in any situation should be to raise awareness (as should be the case with any health concerns). I argue mental illness does not receive the appropriate amount of attention, services, research, and funding needed to foster healthy quality of life. I appreciate the caution against stigmatizing individuals diagnosed with a mental disorder as dangerous and/or violent. However, opportunities to discuss mental illness within the context of violent incidents create opportunities to explore signs and risk factors for violent behaviors. More awareness also allows family members, friends, neighbors, etc. to be cognizant of these signs/risk factors and possibly intervene when an individual seems to be behaving differently from his/her norm. I’m sure most would agree the ultimate end goal is the prevention of such violent acts as mass shootings. I know it’s one of my life goals.

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[1] According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fifth Edition (DSM-V), a mental disorder is a syndrome characterized by clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotion regulation, or behavior that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning. Mental disorders are usually associated with significant distress or disability in social, occupational, or other important activities.

Dr. Snipes, Psy.D is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in Houston, Texas with extensive experience in providing psychological assessments, testing, evaluations and research.

Appropriate Social Skills: Important Building Blocks for a Successful Life

Stressed parentTeaching our kids social skills is very important. We live in a world where we all have to get along with people. We are social beings. Developing skills on how to appropriately interact with others in a prosocial way is a necessity to living a successful life. We need appropriate social skills to form strong relationships, to get along in the work environment, to deal with other people in life in general. Teaching your child proper social skills, however, is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight and it consists of teaching, showing, rewarding and modeling appropriate behavior.

Now teaching those skills to a young child takes a lot of patience. Starting out with the simple things, like saying “please” and “thank you”, learning how to take turns, and sharing with others is important. These seem like daunting tasks for preschoolers at times. Toddlers and preschoolers are pretty selfish by nature. Everything in the world is theirs for the taking. They don’t always understand time and patience, so taking turns may be a challenge for the average small child.

However, teaching these skills early are important building blocks for future, more complex social skills, and the basis for forming healthy relationships and friendships. So it is important to start with these basics and as your children grow and develop, they can easily build from this foundation.

Now I will confess, my children struggle with sharing; which to me is ironic since they are twins and have had to share everything since the days they shared a womb. And in particular my son has a hard time sharing toys, food, my time, and taking turns; pretty much anything. I will admit his social skills were definitely subpar. He would refuse to share with his sister, his friends and sometimes me! Also, he struggled with taking turns. He hated waiting for his turn. As a matter of fact, most of his tantrums have been triggered by one of these two things; either he doesn’t want to share or he doesn’t want to wait to take a turn.

Teaching my kids these basics was a challenge. But I too had to discover that it is a process. These skills are not learned overnight. And selfishness, so to speak, really is a part of child development. They develop a sense of self first, and then they learn to navigate the world in the context of people. I learned this in school, like I’m sure most of us did (Psychology 101) but I don’t think I truly understood this concept until I had my own kids.

Now teaching my kids to say “please” and “thank you”, well, that was not that difficult. The key was to model it. I had to verbally acknowledge them when they used these words appropriately (praise them) and I had to prompt them often in the beginning. I also had to make sure that I said those “magic words” consistently and often. With most things, our kids learn best by showing as opposed to telling them. This concept of modeling applies for basic skills such as saying “please” as well as more complex skills such as how to control your emotions. Our kids are always watching us. As parents, of course, we are not perfect. No one is, but the key is to be mindful and consistent in our behavior, try to make sure our words match our actions. Good lesson I think for the parenthood journey.

And this is definitely the case with my son. Like I previously mentioned, my son struggles with being “socially appropriate”. My daughter? Not so much. She is usually kind and thoughtful. She has an easier time with sharing and taking turns. I also had to keep in mind that personality and temperament plays a big role in this as well. The key here again is consistency and learning how to be patient with your child. If you are consistent and patient, eventually you will see improvement.

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Over time, I have seen a vast improvement in my kids’ social skills development. A lot of it is maturity. They are getting older. They have more social experiences such as pre-school, play dates, and other social activities. Also, like I mentioned before, I try to be consistent. I try to praise them often when I see them use their skills in the proper context, I try to consistently monitor those skills, and I try to prompt them to sue their skills. And although, I have to prompt a lot at home, and we still have our little setbacks from time to time, in the end, they are improving and I am helping to lay the groundwork to them have successful and fulfilling relationships in life. And isn’t that what we all want for our kids?

Author, Rashain Williams, Social Worker and Director of Operations for a New Orleans based Non-Profit organization servicing at risk youth