5 Strategies for Parenting with a Mental Illness by @TruthisHers

Coping with a mental illness is a challenge. It’s one that 25% of Americans face every day. I am part of that statistic with diagnoses of Major Depression and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Tackling everyday tasks like working, cooking and maintaining a home while also trying to keep my mental illness under control feels like two full time jobs. The amount of time and effort it requires to manage both of those areas of our lives is often daunting for anyone with mental illness.

When you add parenting into that mix, it can feel impossible to be successful in all three arenas. There doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day or emotional energy inside us to be a good employee, a good parent and a master of our mental illness. We struggle to make sure none of those areas gets shortchanged.

As a parent, therapist, and person with mental illness, I want to offer you five strategies you can implement today to make parenting a less stressful and more enjoyable part of your life.

Play with your children every day:

When we’re children we revel in playing. It is typically the most enjoyable part of our daily lives. When we become adults we leave all of that behind. Life becomes so serious. But play is a wonderful, healthy behavior and we need to bring it back into our lives. Find something to do with your children that stimulates your imagination, makes you laugh, and takes you out of your head. Choose something to do that you and your children enjoy doing. The strategy backfires if playtime feels like a chore or a burden.

My son and I play video games together. I never played video games as a child. And frankly, when he first got his Xbox and wanted me to play with him, I thought it would be one more chore to add to my To Do List. But he loved it and I wanted to spend time with him doing something he enjoyed. He taught me how to play a series of Mario games and it was ridiculously fun and funny. I fell into lava pits, captured stars, and mastered mini games that required me to mow my lawn faster than anyone else. We have a blast, and both of us benefit from the time we spend playing together.

Get active with your children every day:

Only 15 minutes of cardio activity causes our brain to release chemicals that increase our mood. So get up and get moving with your children every day. Again, it’s important that you do something that everyone enjoys. It can be outside shooting hoops, jumping on your trampoline or riding bicycles. Make it fun, silly and rewarding. Hand out a stick of gum to each person who makes a three point shot. Have everyone write their favorite physical activity on a piece of paper. Each week draw out a new one and that becomes the activity for the week. It doesn’t have to be more than thirty minutes a day, but it certainly can be.

On days that I’m feeling low on energy or like going out of the house is more than I can muster, my son and I fire up our Wii Sports game system. We do some dancing to Michael Jackson songs or even play virtual tennis. It might start out feeling like a chore, but once we have played for a few minutes together, I forget that I didn’t want to do it in the first place.

Reduce the number of moving parts in your lives:SONY DSC

When we have a mental illness our tolerance for stress and chaos is often very low. Simplicity reigns supreme! Streamline every process that you can in your daily lives. If school mornings are chaotic and stressful, implement night time routines that address that. Lay out clothes, make school lunches, and set out the food and dishes for breakfast the night before.

Also, reduce the number of after school and weekend commitments you have. While it may be tempting to sign yourself and your children up for every class or activity that grabs your or their attention, too many of them will leave you feeling stressed and overwhelmed as you run from club to event. Place your priority on family activities and a peaceful, simple schedule.

Have something to look forward to each week: 

We all need things to look forward to in our lives. It gives us incentive to tackle each day in front of us and motivation to keep moving when we want nothing more than to crawl back into bed for the rest of the week. Your whole family should have a special activity, that everyone enjoys, set up to do together once a week. It doesn’t have to be something expensive or elaborate. It can be as simple as a Build Your Own Ice Cream Sundae Night or a Family Movie Night.

Teach your children the value of self-care:

One of the most powerful tools anyone with mental illness can use is good self-care. These are things like meditation, visualization, self-talk, writing in a journal and therapy. We use them to manage our symptoms and prevent our illness from worsening. Those without mental illness can use self-care as well, to help reduce their stress levels and cope with anxiety and worry.

As a parent, teach your children about self-care. Let them know how important it is and help them learn a few simple self-care activities like deep breathing and taking a time out to calm down when they’re angry or upset. When you do these things you establish a common language and understanding about self-care. If you tell your children that you need a five-minute time out to let your anger go, they will understand what you mean and how doing that will help you. Making self-care a common language in your family will be helpful not just for you, but your children as well.

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo) and entering my free feature giveaway.
Broken Pieces is still going strong, #1 on Amazon’s Women’s (paid) Poetry list. Broken Places is available NOW — yay! from Booktrope.
Don’t miss Author Social Media Boot Camp! Take a look: group sessions for authors on a budget. Now you too can get affordable, effective help FAST! Follow @ASMBootCamp on Twitter and sign up today here!  
All content copyrighted unless otherwise specified. © 2015 by Rachel Thompson, author. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author. 
Pictures courtesy of http://www.gratisography.com/

Inside Schizophrenia: ‘I Could Be AWOL Right Now’ by @allieburkebooks

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Please welcome my amazing friend and talented best selling novelist, Allie Burke! Allie is quite open with the fact that she is schizophrenic (she was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2011) works two full-time jobs, and has a thriving literary career (she just finished her eighth book). Allie is signed with Booktrope. More here:

Allie is an American novelist, book critic, and magazine editor from Burbank, California, Allie Burke writes books she can’t find in the bookstore. Having been recognized as writing a “kickass book that defies the genre it’s in”, Allie writes with a prose that has been labeled poetic and ethereal.

Her life is a beautiful disaster, flowered with the harrowing existence of inherited eccentricity, a murderous family history, a faithful literature addiction, and the intricate darkness of true love. These are the enchanting experiences that inspire Allie’s fairytales.papersoulscover

From some coffee shop in Los Angeles, she is working on her next novel.
Visit Allie at http://wordsbyallieburke.com and look for her outstanding latest, Paper Souls, on Amazon. 

I Could Be AWOL Right Now

I think a lot about that one time I outsmarted the mental health industry and used the intellect I didn’t even know I had to break free from one white walled prison we call a hospital.

The very act of it epitomizes the ideal that we must be crazy enough to tell the whole world to fuck off if we’re ever going to survive.

Excuse me. She smiled sweetly, knocking on the station window.

A large man with a shaved head emerged, dressed in white. Yes?

I would like my purse, please.

I’m sorry?

My purse. You confiscated it when I arrived here. I would like it before I leave.

You can’t leave.

Excuse me? Emily asked incredulously, her eyes bulging out of her head. I’m sorry, am I…a prisoner? Have I committed some sort of crime and am being held against my will now?

The nurse stammered. I…I…

If I walk out that door right now, past that red line, Emily pointed to the two-inch-thick red line painted on the floor six feet from the door, are you going to chase me?

No, but if you don’t sign out, with pre-approval from Dr. Talen, then you will be considered AWOL.

Do I look like fucking Rambo to you?

The nurse didn’t answer.

I haven’t seen the doctor yet. Let me speak to him, please.

He’s not here yet.

Emily’s stare at the nurse was intense, but in reality, she wasn’t staring at him but the stupidity his body reeked of.

Call him. Now.

-Paper Souls

I didn’t ask him for my purse, even though I wanted to. I had never been as appalled as I had been in the moment six hours earlier when they had confiscated my cell phone. Though I was thinking all of this, and it would actually make for a really good story, I never referenced Rambo. My mental age was so much younger than it is now; I was so scared. I would have welcomed a thousand years of psychosis in that moment and took it like a boss if it meant I could walk out that door unscathed by the disgusting reality that is our mental health system today.

What I had done, though, was spend six hours in a mental institution without any means to communicate anything to the outside world and without actually seeing a doctor.

The presence of my now ex-husband in that tiny visiting room with another nurse watching our every move, his tears, the fear bleeding from his pores, struck something in me. He wasn’t working and I was the only one paying bills. Clearly I hadn’t thought this through the moment suicide crossed my mind and convinced me that I wasn’t getting any better. My life would be in shambles if I didn’t get my ass out of there and get it to work on Monday morning. If I had a second chance at that afternoon, I would not have checked myself into a fucking mental institution. I would not have told them that I was hallucinating and afraid of harming myself and that I was off my medication.

So I told them that. That was after they nearly had me sedated and straitjacketed for stepping too far into their nursebox. But I did tell them the truth. I told them that this place was going to do nothing for me but ruin my life, and I needed out. They told me that I should stay because they could help me. That they would recommend it. It was such a passive-aggressive fucking way to control my life. You are mentally ill and therefore we cannot trust you to function properly in society, but here, have a cookie.

There really was a red line on the floor. That wasn’t something I made up for the book. I’ve never liked the color red, and maybe this is why. The ideal that a color can instill the fear of imprisonment is pretty psychotic in itself, but I am psychotic. Technically. According to the State of California.

So I asked them. Are you going to arrest me if I just walk out?

I still don’t know what they meant by AWOL. Like is that a real thing? What does it mean if you are AWOL and not in the military? Do they take away your driver’s license? Refuse to hire you at a job? Call the credit reporting agency? I can’t even with this shit.

Either I am really smart or the doctor was in a good mood that day. He just got a blow job by his assistant, I don’t know. They let me go. Like, legally. Without the AWOL part. It was really fucking weird, but every day I thank whatever higher power we are thanking for this kind of stuff now. Regardless of the number of times I did go back, I really do believe that that experience of questioning authority as the prisoner and not the jailer set the tone for the healing process that I would force on myself in the years after. It was my fuck off to the people bigger than me. And I’ve been telling people bigger than me to fuck off ever since.

It works for me. Me specifically. Paranoid Schizophrenic or not, I’m still a real person.allieburkehs

“The only difference between the sane and the insane is the sane have the power to lock up the insane.”

–Hunter S. Thompson

Exciting news: Broken Places is FINALLY out (via Booktrope)! Pick up a copy today (eBook or print) on Amazon or your favorite retailer, Broken Pieces is still going strong, and my two humor books, A Walk in the Snark and Mancode: Exposed have wonderful new covers and are now available in print!
Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo) and entering my free feature giveaway.
Don’t miss Author Social Media Boot Camp! Take a look: group sessions for authors on a budget. Now you too can get affordable, effective help FAST! Follow @ASMBootCamp on Twitter and sign up today here!  
All content copyrighted unless otherwise specified. © 2015 by Rachel Thompson, author. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author. 
Picture courtesy of Pixabay via CCA Public Domain license

Speaking Up About Rape: Brave or Foolish? by Guest @SbethCaplin

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  Please welcome author and blogger Beth Caplin to the blog today as she shares her brave story about speaking up. *Trigger Warning* The lyrics to “Brave” by Sara Bareilles hit me hard and personally: Your history of silence won’t do … [Continue reading]

#MondayBlogs Giveaway January 2015

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Since I created #MondayBlogs in late 2012, even I'm shocked at what an amazing success it has become! Thousands participate each week, generating more than 5,000 tweets! And it is because of all of you that we can say that with a lot of pride and a … [Continue reading]

10 Resources for Finding a Therapist by @TruthisHers

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You’ve decided you or a loved one need counseling. As both a therapist and a mental health consumer, I have been on both sides of the counseling desk. Hiring a therapist is intensely personal. This is someone you are going to tell your deepest hopes … [Continue reading]

Top 3 Writing and Marketing Tips For Any Author

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As we head into 2015, I thought I'd share some thoughts on writing and marketing books. Many authors tell me they just don't have time to do both, that they think marketing is stupid, or that social media and author platform seem like options they're … [Continue reading]

Insider Story: Living with Complex #PTSD by guest @A_K_Taylor

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Hi everyone, I am glad to be here even though I am going to be talking about very dreadful subjects. I felt empowered to share some info about Complex PTSD (CPTSD) and Continuous Traumatic Stress Disorder (CTSD). CTSD and CPTSD are very closely … [Continue reading]

Traveling Home for the Holidays by @TruthIsHers

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As a therapist and trauma recovery coach, I encounter many hurting people in the landscape of life, especially during the holiday season.  from the path they have travelled. They just want to go home, to that place of peace, calm and respite. … [Continue reading]

Where To Find Content When You Just Don’t Care

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   What the fuck? I want to speak to the manager. We have meltdowns, some more publicly than others (see my latest Huffington Post article on NYTimes bestselling author Ayelet Waldman's most unfortunate Twitter rant because they failed to … [Continue reading]

#MondayBlogs Giveaway December 2014

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Since I created #MondayBlogs in late 2012, even I'm shocked at what an amazing success it has become! Thousands participate each week, generating more than 5,000 tweets! And it is because of all of you that we can say that with a lot of pride and a … [Continue reading]

The Holidays Aren’t Joyous for Everyone by @TruthIsHers

The Holidays Aren’t Joyous for Everyone

I can’t believe Thanksgiving has already passed us by, and Christmas is only twenty-five days away! How did that happen? I still have so very much to do before I’m ready for cookie baking and tree trimming. I need to grab these days by the tail and … [Continue reading]

Giving Back

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We take a lot from each other throughout the year: Can you buy my book? Review my book? Tweet this for me? Share this post? It's all part of 'selling' in this new virtual world. Well, now I'm turning all that upside down and giving … [Continue reading]

The Survivor’s Journey to Discovering True by @TruthIsHers

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In early 2014 the Twitter community participating in the weekly #SexAbuseChat declared their motto to be #NoMoreShame. We had realized the power of sharing our stories in a safe, supportive environment. Coming together every week in our chat we … [Continue reading]

#MondayBlogs Giveaway November 2014

MB-FINAL-LOGO-KLM

Since I created #MondayBlogs in late 2012, even I'm shocked at what an amazing success it has become! Thousands participate each week, generating more than 5,000 tweets! And it is because of all of you that we can say that with a lot of pride and a … [Continue reading]

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