chronic illness, domestic violence, mental health

Let’s talk about stigma in the support community, and other ramblings.

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As I stated in my last blog the other day, I have been struggling. So I reached out to a few new groups that said they offer support for people going through like situations. Let’s just say it’s been a bit anxiety-producing and upsetting. I have tried to offer suggestions in these groups of what has helped me cope with my physical and mental challenges. As in this blog, as you may have noticed, I post the honest feelings of the struggles of having health challenges. I use honest descriptions of the pain, whether that is physical or emotional. I bitch. I moan. I complain. I cry. I curse. My father would deem me “a sailor” if he heard how much cursing I have done in the past three weeks. It’s called an emotional release. BUT…..I also tell how I have coped through that particular struggle. I tell what medications, supplements, treatments, books, people, etc. have helped me cope.

When I was actively doing work as a Certified Peer Specialist in the Mental Health Field, we were told to write up the notes from our visit with the peer and “to paint a story” in the mind of the person that would be reading the document…the supervisors. I was complemented just about every supervision check-in for the descriptiveness of these notes. Maybe it comes from the veterinary nursing and massage therapy and having to do notes and documentation for legal purposes. I’m not sure. But you want your notes, if that “case” would go to trial, to leave no doubt in the lawyer and judge’s mind of what was going on. I do believe I have gotten a really good education from kindergarten to 12th grade, with my A.S. in Veterinary Nursing, with my A.S. in Professional Massage Therapy, and with my Certification for being a Peer Specialist. I am thankful. And grateful. No matter how tough it was with being bullied from 1980-2012 in those classes and schools.

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Well, I do believe that these support networks are not for me. I have anxiety about posting, for fear of forgetting a rule and saying things that aren’t supposed to be said. I feel like I am not allowed to offer hope with how I have coped. I was going to post about my visit with the foot surgeon yesterday and the shoes he suggested for the Plantar Fasciitis brought on by the Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome and multiple traumatic injuries to that foot. I wanted to suggest two of the companies with a lowered heel cup in that I have been looking at in the local stores and say that my surgeon approved them for help with this issue. But I’m afraid to. I believe I was the target of a post from a longer time member the other day.  I believe she mistook my message of how I coped and pulled through for negativity.  Another day I posted some information on a product that a lady had asked about. I gave my experiences with it. I compared it with a more well-known product and gave the experience with that. Well, I worded it wrong and I got a message about it. The friends and doctors I have told these past weeks about how some of these groups are run are a little upset at the fact that we can’t be honest and forthright in our emotions and feelings, and suggestions of what has helped us.

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With having some of the mental health diagnoses I have, I have taken EVERYTHING personally in the past. Being in psychotherapy with some really good therapists, having 3 friends that are therapists, a bunch of peer specialist friends, and being a peer specialist myself has taught me to stop and question “that” statement I just heard before nonsense words come out of my mouth in a horrid response. (I still react some times and say some pretty bad stuff.) My first peer specialist boss had taught me to question what that person was saying and walk in their shoes for a bit. Look at the evidence. So I have been doing that in these groups over the past few weeks. But I just feel like it all comes back to stigma. Of it not being ok to talk. Of not being able to share your feelings and experiences with that symptom, syndrome, disease, product, etc.  in polite society.

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Current read
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Excerpt from Megan Divine’s book that I read this morning.

 

I have been following certain stigma-fighting hashtags on Instagram for a few months. Some of the work they are doing is great. They are mainly focused on the mental health aspect. My problem has turned into how much the physical pain and loss of working and being able to dance, and even walk around the block every day, has affected me mentally. I. Am. Grieving. We need to talk about grief and loss in a real manner. I’m not sure that is allowed, either. I post a fair amount of quotes from the sites I follow on various media. I post them because they resonate with me, and I find them inspirational, and want to pass that on.  Yeah, I’m feeling crappy, but hey, this quote is cool…

I sort of feel like I’m in my first marriage again, that was abusive, and I was told I need happy pills and a happy helment. I feel like I am not allowed to express myself fully. That I’m just supposed to post things like “doc appt today. wish me luck!” or “hey, beautiful sunset, eh?” I’m not asking for a free ticket to be a Negative Nancy or a Debbie Downer, but I’d like to post things like I do here. “Hey, shitty time lately, but taking a walk with Simon really got me through. I feel better now.” I feel confined. Like it’s illegal to think outside the box.

Maybe it was my Peer Specialist training, in which we were supposed to be the sounding board. We were supposed to be the hope for another person at a bad spot in their life. But most importantly to me….we were supposed to give options and choices to our peers. I feel like I am not allowed to give options. That it’s what the president says and that’s it.

I’m really getting that itch to find….or start a local support group again. I led a depression and bi-polar support group from about 2003-2008, or so. I burned out a bit. Alot. I had gone to my first peer specialist training in August of 2008 and they kept proding me to tell the story of how I got depressed and mental health symptoms that led to therapy and in-patient stays. So, I ended up having another breakdown in the hotel in the 2nd half of the training and was admitted into the in-patient facility…again. I. Wasn’t. Ready. I wasn’t ready to admit the abuse to everyone. I was ashamed of what happened to me. I was afraid he would find out I said something and he would come after me. I was afraid he would harm my animals….again. (I have blogged about how abusive he was to the pets….including the strangling of my one dog in 1999.) Now I am ready to Stand Up To Stigma. It’s ok to not be ok.

Maybe I’m just sick of hiding my Invisible Illnesses. I’m sick of if I have the strength to do my hair, put on make-up, and dress nice…that that suddenly means I am not in pain and not hurting or suffering. I’m sick of people thinking I’m making things up just because I crack a joke, or laugh hysterically at yours. I believe it is ok to tell your story. You just may be the hope or inspiration for someone else struggling that day.

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My Story Isn’t Over Yet ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

Thanks For Reading. Take Care. Be As Well As Possible. And Until Next Time….

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