Friday, December 30, 2011

The Day After Christmas and Why I Am Happy

Note - I wrote this on December 26, 2011.  

Today is a good day...I am happy.
Yesterday was a good day too! Probably the best Christmas day we have had in a long time. The gifts I got for everyone were a big hit. That made me happy.

Here's a peak at their favorite gifts...

Over Thanksgiving break, my son Tyler and I were joking around about the movie Finding Nemo and he said he wanted a Nemo for Christmas, well he should have watched what he wished for. I got him a stuffed Nemo and it has been with him ever since (yes he is almost 21). Every time I see him with his Nemo it makes me happy.

I surprised Bryan with a tool set. He is out on his own now and I'm sure he will need tools sometime. He did Get to use a screwdriver from it yesterday...another thing that made me happy. But his most favorite gift were the NY Giants glasses I got him.

As for Meagan, she was the most surprised of all. In May she was held up at gun point and among the things that were stolen was her Louis Vuitton purse. 2 days ago Hubs announced that we can get her another purse. I didn't have enough time to pick one up so I wrapped a pic of the bag in a big box of packing peanuts. Seeing how surprised she was made me happy too.

Then came time for dinner. I always make sauce for Christmas dinner. It's a big deal in my house. I cook it for 2 days. I put an eye of round roast and a rack of baby back ribs in it for good flavor. Then we have the meat with the pasta on Christmas. The house smelled wonderful for 2 days. At around noon the tasting began, I have well over 50 teaspoons for just that reason. Within an hour the tasting spoons were replaced with bowls and bread. They loved it! That's another reason to be happy. Actually having my family enjoy the food I make is one of the best feelings in the world to me. (Here's a pic of my brand new 16 quart pot with the sauce cooking).

We ate supper early, about 2 pm, so by 7 pm they were all hungry again. I took out the leftovers from supper and made the kids plates. Yes it was work, but I very happily did it. Last Christmas I was not able to do much, I had just had surgery that had a very long recovery and I was barely able to stand up for more than a few mins at a time. So being able to do things for the family made me happy this year.

The shopping season was relatively stress free. I knew what I was going to get everyone. Making any gift decisions is usually very stressful for me, but this year I had a plan of attack...note to this next year. So that's another thing that made me happy.

In my immediate family (hubs and kids) we don't have family drama and I know how lucky we are. My family however is not drama free and my feelings were hurt by someone yesterday, but with the help of Hubs and the kids I didn't let them ruin the day for me. Having that kind of support also makes me happy.

So there you have it, I am happy as a clam today. And I hope to be happy tomorrow too. I plan on making a happiness journal and just jotting down happy things everyday (hopefully). Why not join me? There's so much stress in our everyday lives that we should all try to look for things that make us happy.

This year we lived by the saying 'life is too short' and I plan on continuing that in 2012!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tis' The Season

It's that time of year when we are all running around getting gifts for our family and friends, baking, throwing parties and lots of other fun things. Out of all the things we do at this time of the year, the gifts seem to be on everyone's mind.

I don't know about your family, but "what do you want?" is a question that I ask or is put to me in another form such as "I really want XYZ for Christmas/Hanukkah this year". Then at some point my husband makes the decision to give the kids money to get what they want themselves. He mumbles something about making sure it's the correct thing or some other nonsense like that. Then I put all my effort into their stockings and usually spend way too much on that stuff, but it was the only thing I could surprise them with.

Fast forward to this year. Things are a little different now. Our oldest is out on his own now, so I made the decision that since he makes his own money the days of giving money for gifts is over. My theory is that he has a good job and can afford to get things he wants. Plus I love surprising them, I think that's the best part of gifts. They should be something that is thought about and picked out specifically for the person you are shopping for.

A little history now...I grew up with parents who always knew the right thing to get us and it never involved money. I can't even remember any kind of cash gift. And not once did they get me something I didn't like. We got 8 gifts for Hanukkah, some years they put all 8 gifts on the dining room table and let us pick one a night and other years they hid them and brought us 1 per night out of their hiding place.  But it was always exciting and made me happy.

But I digress, after I decided that we weren't giving money to Bryan for a gift, it didn't make sense to give the other 2 cash either. I wanted to have gifts for them to open this year. And somehow I got Hubs on board with this idea, although he would still rather have given money (I think he thinks it cheaper, which it probably is). So this year I won...I got to make the rules. Of course I am hearing a lot of "what if I don't like what you picked?" and "how do you know what I want" talk, but I decided to ignore those comments and go on my merry way buying gifts.

This got me thinking...all over the blogworld there have been tons of giveaways and many had a question regarding what your gift wish is for this season. I decided that I enjoy giving the gifts more than getting them (I think the main reason is that no one in my family has vision and they don't want to put any thought into a gift for me...and I am probably the least picky person around). So I am asking you what gift you are most excited to give this year?

I think I did a good job at picking gifts for the Hubs and kids this year. I got them some things they wanted and some things they needed and some things that I picked just for them. Since they are all adults now (much to my chagrin) they will not have the same number of gifts, but I can live with that knowledge. My favorite gift that I am giving is a tool set to Bryan. He moved into his own apartment in July and I thought a tool kit would be helpful.

So that's the favorite thing I am giving this year, how about you?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The way it is suppose to be

As you might know this year has been a struggle for me. I know I might seem like I have it all together, but I suffer from this illness as much as everyone else. This past year started with my dear Mother-in-law being diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and is ending with me once again recovering from surgery. Along the way good things did cousin got married, our oldest got his masters in molecular pathology and got a job and we connected with some family members that we had missed, to name a few. And some sad things Mother-in-law passed away, my husbands sister is now estranged from the family thru her own choice and I have had some health issues.

Right now I am struggling with the fact that I wanted to have 2011 be the year that I had no major medical problems (2010 was pretty bad) and well...that ship has sailed already. I also miss my Mother-in-law a lot, especially at this time of the year. This was her time...she loved the holidays. Being Jewish, I never had a Christmas, but since Hubs is Catholic once we got together I had my first Christmas. She let me be a kid on Christmas morning, even though it was in a spectator capacity (yes we did gifts). It was also the 25th anniversary of my son Eric's birth and death, which just happened and I really don't think I have dealt with yet.

It's the time of the year to reflect back on the past year and this year there's a lot that I have learned, quite a few things that I have started working on, as well as things to work on in the future. I have not been successful in every endeavor, but I did try to learn something from each thing I attempted. That is who I am...I try to learn and teach, it's just built into me.

This year I learned that:
I am strong
I am not alone in the world
I can't do much about my past mistakes, but I can learn from them
Life is too short to let those negative feelings in
I am in charge of me, I make my own decisions and no one else
I am loved by my family for being who I am
I am going to make mistakes, it's part of life
I can't give from empty
Don't sweat the small stuff
Take victory in each little step, no matter how small
I can not change people, I can only change myself
And many more things that elude me at this time.

I know these to be true, although I still struggle to remember them.
I think everyone should write a list of what you have learned this year about yourself. This is how we change and grown, which I believe is an essential part of life.

More importantly I learned this:
That sometimes I am suppose to feel sad, mad, angry and afraid to name a few feelings. Yes these are what I consider negative feelings, but they are also a part of life and everyone feels them sometimes. What I have tried to share with you this year is ways to 'talk back' to your bad feelings, since people who suffer from depression and anxiety usually have a harder time letting go of these feelings.

For instance I went to my Psychiatrist (PDoc) after I got back from my month in New York which ended with my Mother-in-laws death. I told her about the major panic attack I had after the funeral. It started when we went to Eric's grave site. By the time we got to the car, I was in full blown panic mode. When we got back to the house I went right to the bedroom and to sleep. She said 2 things...first she was proud that I didn't call her for an emergency pill (she said she would have given me some if I had asked), but more importantly she said that was OK, I was probably suppose to feel like that on that day at that moment. She also remarked that I was able to handle it by going to bed for a while. She has said that more than once since, about other panicky times I have had this year. I am learning that sometimes I'm feeling what I am suppose to feel. There are times that having these feelings and emotions what we need.

As it says in Turn Turn Turn
A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

A time to build up,a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it's not too late

It seems to me that although we suffer from a horrible illness and we want our meds and therapy to 'fix' us, that there are times we need to 'feel'. Now I am going to get on my soapbox for a moment...If what you are doing to 'fix' yourself, be it meds and/or therapy, is not might be time for a change. A new PDoc, a talk with your PDoc about your concerns, using a PDoc instead of a family doctor (I am not slamming family doctors, they just don't have the knowledge and experience to handle most cases), changing therapist, starting therapy to name a few. But please think about your treatment and be your own best advocate for your treatment. If it's working for you, like it is me, that's great. My wish is for everyone to find wonderful PDoc and therapist. And if you don't know where to look, there are places to call. Every state and I would think area has mental health help. It might be hard to find, there are services out there. And there's always the phone.

And while we are on the subject (OK maybe I am not off the soap box yet) do some research. It overwhelmingly shows that meds alone do not do the trick. You need to learn how to cope with your feelings and find ways to train your brain to think differently. Please think about this over the next few weeks. I am not saying that everyone needs a therapist (I know the cost could be prohibitive), but there's other ways to work on yourself. Reading, journaling, etc.

I just wanted to share these thoughts with you. And would love to hear your thoughts.

Also I know I dropped the ball on the book...another lesson is on its way, I promise.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Other 90%

Today I came to a realization...well its been stewing in my head for a while now, but I let it get the best of me today.

I am different than most people, I would say at least 90% of people, maybe more. I don't mean that my likes and dislikes are different, that uniqueness is what makes the world go round. I mean that I think differently than most people.

I used to say that there's no gray in my life, but I have changed it to there's only red, blue and yellow. I don't mix colors well. This is evident by my reluctance to do many things such as use scraps in my quilting, being able to shop at yard sales or even do anything on the spur of the moment. You should see me on vacation...I need everything planned well in advance. In other words I can't color outside the lines and usually stay way inside the lines just to be sure of not crossing that line.  

I think its this that makes me feel afraid of many things. I don't know what would happen if I went over that line. Who would I let down? Would I be safe? Would I be able to recover if I was hurt or g-d forbid live with myself if my actions hurt someone else physically or emotionally.

Realizing this is hard to deal with and is breaking my heart a little. 6 weeks ago I was doing fine, making strides to have friendships with people and now I am becoming a hermit again. Yes the surgery might have helped move that along, but I don't think it's the prime cause. I just feel different. I also don't feel accepted for who I am but It's probably because I am not accepting of others. I have become judgemental, which I know comes off as a 'know it all' sometimes.

Why am I sharing this with you today? I don't really know why. I know I hurt another person who lives in my IPad that was friendly with. But really I would like your advise and understanding on how to handle these feelings. I figure I  am always happy to dish out advise its about time I listen for a change.

Plus tomorrow is the 25th anniversary of my son Eric's passing. It's always such a hard time, but is even harder this year. I'm sure I will post all about him tomorrow.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Assignment #2

How did you do with the first assignment? Did you learn anything? I found that chapter eye opening because I never realized how I was sabotaging myself. I saw myself in quite a few of those twisted forms of thinking. Did you?

These next 2 weeks we will finish the first part of the book on Understanding Your Moods. I am sure you can see that you have to be able to understand that you have a problem before you can get help for it. Don't despair, we will be on the chapter about changing the way you feel soon enough.

For now I would like you to read chapter 3 and 4 (pages 49 - 69) and do the exercise on page 51. You will probably see yourself in 1 or 2 of these types of mood disorders. Please remember that this does not take the place of a doctors diagnosis, but will help you understand which mood disorder you have once diagnosed. For instance there are 7 different types of Anxiety and Panic disorders and 4 different types of depression. I found it very interesting not only to see what I did have but mostly to see what I didn't have. I am the glass half full type of person so any bit in that glass was great!

I'll check in with you next week and until then remember to...

"Make Today a Great Day No Matter What!"

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How Do You Handle a Panic Attack?

Tomorrow I leave for Houston. I am attending Fall Market and I am so stinkin excited! But I am also very nervous. My anxiety level has been higher than normal, I went thru about 18 months with out any panic attacks so this is concerning. I did go to my doctor and she is changing my meds a bit, slowly this time. I refuse to have to go in-house again for a medicine adjustment.

Knowing that I have been having panic attacks lately and knowing that I am going away with out my husband who is my anchor, I am very worried about having a panic attack at Market. I will be there with friends, so I know I will be safe (safety is one of my 'issues') so that's not whats bothering me. I just don't want to cause a commotion by having a panic attack. My attacks can be anywhere from getting dizzy and lightheaded to looking like a heart attack. What I want to be able to do is handle these attacks one my own, although I will grab a friend if I need to. However I am not planning on having an attack, I know my triggers and too much stimulation is one of them so there is a distinct possibility that I will have one.

So what should I do? I am a planner, which can drive people crazy, but I have come to understand that planning is one way to feel safe. Last week in Therapy we talked about this very subject and came up with a plan of action if this does happen.

1. I will find a 'quiet' place to sit. These big places have great hiding places sometimes, but there's always the ladies room. I will find my place when we get there so that will be planned too.
2. I will have my Ipod with me, music calms me down so listening to some music will be helpful. My Ipod is just a 2G one (its very old, but I love it) so my playlists are limited. I have Taylor Swift, Keith Urban and a ton of Glee songs...yes that's right I am a total Gleek!
3. If that doesn't do the job I have an 'emergency' medicine I can take, but that is a last resort for me. Part of recovering is learning to handle these attacks on my own with tools I have learned and not pop a pill. But I will if I have to.

That's my plan. Do you have one? Do you know your signs of a panic attack? Everyone is different. I suggest that you think about this and make a plan that will work for you. Especially if you are attending a big event like what I am going to tomorrow. Write it down if you need to.

I hope you do this, even if you don't ever plan on going anywhere like this. If you suffer from anxiety then you never know when an attack might hit. This will help.

If you are working in the Feeling Good Handbook, how are you doing? Have you finished the homework yet? Sunday I will post the next assignment.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Mistakes, Forgiveness & Anger

Have you ever made a mistake?
Have you ever apologized to someone for something you did to hurt their feelings?
Have you ever been on the receiving end of an apology?
I know the answers to these questions are yes for all of us.

When I first began this blog I talked about Giving Ourselves Permission to Make Mistakes

"I make mistakes, a lot. Do you make mistakes? The answer is yes. We all make mistakes, that's how we learn. I choose to think of mistakes as opportunities to grow. Think about it, when you are piecing a quilt and make a mistake the chance of making that mistake again is pretty slim. The same goes for recipes; if you put too much salt in a dish or cook it for too long you learn from that. I remind myself of those mistakes by making a note on the pattern or recipe page. You might be thinking that doesn't apply to everything but it most likely does, even for the big things. And the great thing about mistakes is that almost all the time they can be fixed or humbly apologized for, even if that apology is to ourselves. "

Click here to read the entire post.

But what do we do when some one apologizes to us? I bet quite a few of us don't know how to handle that and even though an apology was made, the bad feelings are still there. This is especially true for those of us that suffer from depression and anxiety. These bad feelings can feel like Anger. On page 12 - 16 you will find a self-awareness exercise dealing with anger. If you haven't done that part of the chapter now is a great time to set aside some time to do it. I find that writing the answers in the book helps me a lot.

I want to leave you with this thought...

To forgive is to give up the right to punish

What does that mean to you? I used to be the type that held onto those bad feelings and let myself wallow in the anger and pain. Once I truly understood this saying I began to understand that if I really forgave someone then I would have to stop punishing them either inwardly or outwardly. Outwardly meant that we could move on from there with no hard feelings. I would not show any anger towards them. But more importantly I would forgive inwardly and let go of those angry and hurt feelings. Remember that you are in control of your thought and feelings so you can decide to stop those feelings.

How are you doing with this chapter? Do you have any thoughts on it? I'd love to hear.
We will work on the Anxiety and Fear portion of the chapter in the next few days.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Setting Boundaries

Many people have trouble setting boundaries. How often does someone we know say something that hurts our feelings? How often do we know that they will say that exact thing that hurts our feelings? This is considered ‘Jumping to Conclusions’ and ‘Mind Reading’ (pg 9 of The Feeling Good Handbook). Once we understand that we are twisting our thinking by jumping to conclusions about what someone will say we can work to reverse it.

Today my Husband called a few people to come out and give us estimates on new garage doors, some electrical work we need done and new windows and doors. This was very exciting and definitely needed. I want to tell my Mom about this, but deep down I ‘knew’ what she would say…I could already hear it…”it’s about time”. While I love my Mom she can be slightly negative at times, but them whose Mom isn’t? I know I am at times with my kids and am working on that.  I almost didn’t call because I knew I would be upset or annoyed by the time I got off the phone. So I decided to set a boundary with her. When I called her I said “I have some news, but you are not allowed to say ‘It’s about time’ when I tell you the news”. Then I blurted it out and she didn’t say what I thought she would say, or anything for that matterJ. Then I said “isn’t that great?” and she chimed right in that it was. I know it just about killed her to not say what her first thought was, as a matter of fact she said something like that, but she survived. And I came away from the phone call feeling proud of myself for setting the boundary, excited that Mom was happy for me and hopeful that I might have taught her a little lesson too. Consider the other way this call could have went. She could have said what I thought she would say and I could have either let it slide or said something back to her. Neither would have made me feel good. By pre-planning this I was able to make this phone call a positive one. And it really only took a moment or 2 to plan.

Next time you jump to a conclusion about something that you ‘just’ know someone is going to say I challenge you to set a boundary for that person. How do you know if you are jumping to conclusions? Do you say “It won’t do any good” or “That’s just the way he/she is” or “It won’t change anything”? Those are all Mind Reading twisted thinking and setting boundaries will help reverse those feelings.  It can be done very nicely and respectfully. We need to teach those around us how to treat us. The more we let someone talk negatively to us, the more we are teaching them that it’s OK. It will take time and work to change this, but it can be done…one step at a time.

What do you think? Can you do this?

Sha :)

Monday, October 17, 2011


Have you started reading The Feeling Good Handbook yet?

I want to talk about a passage on page 4. On the top of the page it says

"If you want to feel better, you must realize that your thoughts and attitudes-not external events-create your feelings. You can learn to change the way you think, feel, and behave in the here-and-now. That simple but revolutionary principal can help change your life."

You know how I love to take a word and break it down to mean something else? When I was in IOP I learned this little bit of word play.

Do you ever feel like your are going NOWHERE? If you are NOWHERE then you are not in the here and now, and according to the passage above if you can change your thought process you can live in the here and now, instead of the past or even the future.

This is what I do with the word NOWHERE...I say it really means Now Here. Do you see how adding a space changes the meaning? Turn it around and it means in the here and now. Think about this the next time you are feeling like you are going nowhere in your life. Really challenge yourself and ask what is making you feel like you are nowhere? As we go thru the book we will learn more ways to help ourselves. But for now just try to figure out which of the 10 forms of twisted thinking is making you feel like you are nowhere.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Sha :)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Lesson #1

Welcome to the Anxiety and Depression group. In this group we will be going thru 'The Feeling Good Handbook' by Dr David D Burns. If you don't have the book yet there's a link on the sidebar to the right.

I would like to preface the start of this group with some information. I am not a doctor or therapist, I am someone who has been thru a lot and am passionate about helping others thru support and education. I believe in cognitive behavioral therapy, which is what the book is about. It's all about teaching ourselves to think differently to reduce our anxiety and learn to deal with our depression symptoms. I will be sharing my experiences with you. There are also a few resources on the sidebar for more information. If you feel like those don't help please let me know and I will try to point you in the right direction.

Today we will begin our journey together. Every 2 weeks I will post another lesson. Feel free to go thru the book at your own pace. You can post your feelings and thoughts here or email me directly with anything you want to chat about. If you want the whole group to get the email just let me know and I will forward it anonymously. I see this group as a support group where we can all support each other. If you don't want to comment that's OK too...this is your group and you do what feels right to you.

I would like you to start by reading the preface and introduction. Then take the Burns Anxiety Inventory and the Burns Depression Checklist on pages 43 - 48. I suggest writing the answers in a note book instead of the book. It's best not to know what your last answer was. Then add the numbers up to see your score. The score won't mean anything until there are several to compare them too.

Then you can begin the book. Part one 'Understanding Your Moods' is where we will be starting. In this chapter you will read about different emotions that cause depression and anxiety. I am sure you will see yourself in some of these emotions either currently or in the past. I find it helpful to jot notes and things I am feeling in the margin of the book. It's like a snapshot of what the specific passage means to me. Following that the Ten Forms of Twisted Thinking are shown. This book is based on these ways that we think and we will learn how to change them using different techniques. I suggest you read thru page 31. There will be quite a bit of questions to answer. Just be honest with your answers. The book doesn't give an answer key because its your therapy and its your way of thinking, in other words there's no right or wrong answers. If you don't want to do that much its fine, go at your own pace. You can do a few pages at a time, whatever works for you.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the book. I hope it helps you as much as me.

Sha :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

What friends are for

I have been in a little funk lately. The doc changed some of my meds and I am still getting used to it. I am tired more than normal and for the past 3 days I hardly did any quilting.

I have also been trying to help my friends thru their hard times. One thing I did was start the Friendly Quilt Along. It was just 3 of us who made the first quilt. The reason for the quilt along was to get my 2 friends sewing again. They had both lost their sewing mojo and I knew that they would feel a little better once they started hearing that hum of their machine. And I was right! They are both back on the quilting bandwagon!

I have also tweeted with several people from the quilting world on twitter and told them that they should 'make' themselves sew and that after a few seams they would get their mojo back.

Then today I was chatting with one of my gals and was boohooing that I didn't feel like quilting and guess what...she turned my words on me! "Whats that that you say? After a few seams..." I didn't even let her finish the sentence. I was so excited that she said that. First of all that meant she was listening when I talk, and second it was so nice to have someone show me that I don't always listen to what I preach! And I did just what she said...I sat down and got my squares done! What do you think of them? See my quilting blog (Craizee Corner) for more info on it.

So today was a good day after all. I feel like that with a little help from a friend or 2 I was able to turn my frown upside down! This was a lesson I will not soon forget.

Have you made a friends day or had a friend make you day lately?

Sha :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Do you journal? As part of this new group forming (see the past 2 posts) you will be going thru The Feeling Good Handbook by Dr. David Burns. This book has many questions to answer and worksheets to help you understand exactly what you are feeling and how it affects you. As you can tell writing your feelings and questions you have and the answers to questions in the book will be important.

So to get the ball rolling I think you should try journaling. A journal is just somewhere that you write your feelings or things that happened to you or anything you want to write. There is no right or wrong in's your journal so you make the rules. You also decide if you will re-read what you journal. As a rule I don't usually re-read my journal until much later (months later if ever). Some people do and some don't, again there are no right and wrong answers to this. Plus you might change your mind from day to day, that's ok too.

Are you stumped how to start? First find a quiet place. This is your time. Even if you have little ones in the house please try to find 5 minutes to do this. Maybe it could be before bed or maybe when the kids are watching a video or napping. Then simply start with
Hi...Today I did... or Today I felt...

Don't over think about what to write, just write. It might feel wierd at first but I think you will learn to love it. And it doesn't have to take a long time. If all you have is 5 minutes then that's all you need to write for. Some days you might not have much to write and other days you might write a book. I do suggest that you commit to writing everyday for a week. It's like first it is difficult to get into it, but after a few days its easier to go to the gym. A week will give you time to get used to it.

So as your first assignment I would like you to try journaling. Really try. Even if you have tried before this time might be different.

And remember to email me when you get the book so I can add you to the list.


Monday, October 3, 2011

More on the support group

Hi everyone!

Here's a little more on the anxiety/depression group forming.

Since anxiety and depression go hand in hand this book covers both. You will find all the lessons beneficial for both.

Once you have the book please email me to this email address
anxietytherapy at yahoo dot com or click the word email above
In the email please put your name (first only), and if you want to be anonymous. If you do want to be anonymous I will put your email in the BCC part of the email.

If you want to talk about the current pages we are going thru or anything else there's several options. You can email the group with a reply all, email certain people who you are comfortable with or post here. But remember if you post here your post will be public.

My hope with this group is that we will all learn how to talk back to the feeling that make us depressed or anxious and will learn to cope and maybe even avoid putting our selves in  situations that are not good for us.

I do require that what is said in this group is kept within the group and not spoken about with outsiders. I also ask that we be supportive and not judgemental. We all have problems with different things, what bothers me may not bother others. This will be a safe place to work on those things.

Once I have that your I will put you on the list. I will only be using that email address for this group.

I plan on starting the group officially on Oct 16th, but I will be doing some stuff this week and next week to get us started.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A new group starting

Over the past few weeks I have started to have more panic attacks and realized that I need help. I went back to therapy and went to see my doctor. She changed my meds a tiny bit, which has helped.

Last time I was in therapy I went thru The Feeling Good Handbook by Dr. David Burns.  This book uses the cognitive behavioral therapy model which in my mind is the best way to fight back again these feelings.  

This is what I propose:
Every 2 weeks or so I will post some 'homework', saying which pages we are doing. The book has lots of worksheets to fill out and questions to answer. I may add some other PDF worksheets to help you also. There will be an email list and we can email each other what we think or are struggling with pertaining to that section. If you don't want your name or email known you can email me and I will send it out anonymously for you. I do ask that anything spoken about in this group stays in this group. I would like this group to act as a support group, while we are getting stronger everyday.

If you are interested in joining this group email me and I will get you started.
You will need the book, I will give you 2 weeks to get it and we will start on October 16th.

Note - I am not a therapist, but can lead us thru this book and facilitate this group.

Sha :)

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Over the past few week I have been in a funk. I would be energetic one moment and then crash and burn and end up in bed a few minutes later. Have you ever felt like that? I know I have before and it scared the bejeebers out of me this time. I know all the signs of depression and thought I would be able to spot it, but I was not prepared for how fast it came on this time. 1 week I am cooking, cleaning and quilting and the next I am spending 4 - 6 hours in bed every afternoon. I also went back to therapy and the first thing my therapist said was that I needed to go see my Psychiatrist (whom I had just seen 3 weeks earlier and things were fine then). I filed that away for a future thing to do, after all I was doing 'talk' therapy again so things were bound to get better.

Fast forward to Wednesday. My wonderful Husband called me to remind me of my appointment and found me crying on the other end of the phone. I was so tired, there was no way I could drive myself the 3 miles to my therapist appointment. That's when I realized I needed more help. Hubs had a light day at work so he was able to come home to bring me to the appointment, meanwhile I called my doctor in tears and they had an opening later that day (did I mention I love love love my doctor?). So I went to see my therapist who was very glad that I made the doctors appointment and then we went to the doctors office.

At first we had thought that my funk was just part of the natural grieving process (my Mother-in-law passed away on June 28th), but this felt eerily familiar and not in a good way. I am very lucky that I have a doctor who listens to me and wants to keep me out of the hospital this time. So we came up with a plan of action starting with increasing the dosage of one of the meds I take. I am starting to feel a little less depressed, although I feel sick from the higher dosage, but that should go away after a while.

Why am I telling you this? It's a reminder that you need to know the signs of depression and make sure those around you are educated too. And when you start to feel a change get help immediately. Medicines stop working sometimes and its important to know how to handle this. I suggest that everyone have a plan to handle this if it does happen to you. The other important thing is to have a good relationship with your doctor, it's a partnership that you are both in to get you better.

I know you all know this, but its a good thing to hear again.

Sha :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

You might notice that there is not title for this post, that's because I really don't know what to call it.
What I want to talk about today is what to do when we are unhappy with a situation. Lets start with asking ourselves what our first reaction would be. I was faced with a situation that made me very uncomfortable, a bit jealous (well maybe more than a bit) and mad all at the same time. So I got upset and voiced my opinion way more than I should have. I think that's basically what most people do when faced with these type of feelings. And I don't know about you but I voice my opinion loudly and nasty, which is never constructive.
Fast forward 2 days after the incident and 1 therapist visit later and I came up with a solution to my problem. I'm not going to go into the specifics, that is not the reason for this post. The reason I am sharing this is that coming up with a solution that was a compromise is the best way to handle many situations where feelings might have been hurt.
Think of it this way...
When we get hurt or upset we have several options; Cry, yell at someone, cry some more, give the cold shoulder, cry even more...well you get the general idea. And none of these outcomes leaves anyone feeling happy, which you know is my goal in life.
Then my wonderful therapist asked me what I think I could do fix the situation? (Why didn't I think of that?) So I worked out a compromise to 'my' problem. And I presented it in a non emotional way. So the moral of the story is that even though we may feel like crying, yelling, slamming doors, generally having a pity party, the better move is to ask how to fix it. After all what good does having a pity party do? Does it make us feel better? No. Does it make us more in control? No. So what does it do? It reinforces our negative feelings, which in my book is a big no no.

My challenge to you: next time you feel someone has hurt you try to think of a way to fix it instead of feeling sorry for yourself. It really turned my frown upside down.

Till next time,
Sha :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How I have been feeling

As you might know we lost my mother-in-law. This was terribly hard to deal with, paired with my mental illness, it just made it worse. I was able to get thru the month we were in NY before she passed and the funeral with little incident, but once i got home things changed. I have been pretty stable for the past 2.5 years, honestly if you met me you would never know that I suffer from depression or anxiety. I like to think of myself as in remission.

These past 2 weeks have been especially hard. I am tired all the time and take a fairly long nap almost every day. I also do not really want to do anything. Yes it is hot here, but its not even the heat, I just don't want to do anything. Then I went to a guild meeting and was very uncomfortable there and for no apparent reason. Do you ever feel this way?

Being me and having gone thru what I have gone thru with mental illness I know the signs of depression and anxiety and so do my husband and kids. Yes it does seem that the depression and anxiety are creeping back into my life. So I started thinking of ways to handle this without starting a new medicine or changing any of it. Historically I have to be hospitalized to change my medicine cocktail and I am just not willing to go there. I want to handle this better than in the past.

Here's what I have been doing to help:
1. When I am tired I still allow myself to sleep, but as soon as I wake up I get out of bed. Yesterday I slept 4 hours and felt so much better when I got up, Hubs even commented on it. Sometimes my body just needs the rest. But I do not stay in bed. I make bed for sleeping only.
2. Make sure I take my meds at the right time everyday. This sounds like a given, but I know that its very easy for me to just not take the meds.
3. Make myself clean the kitchen. Even though I might not feel like it, I make myself do it. I am home during the day so at a minimum I need to make sure the kitchen is cleaned. When I put a dish in the sink I have to tell myself that it only take 20 seconds to put that dish in the dishwasher. It sounds corny, but doing even a small thing helps me feel better. And really how long does it take to fill and empty the dishwasher? I can live thru 10 - 15 minutes a day of cleaning.
4. Cook dinner. You know I love to cook, but when depression creeps up on me that's the first thing that goes. By the end of the day I am too tired to even think about what to make. My strategy is to make a plan in the morning for dinner. For me not having to make a decision late in the day is good. Plus I can't expect my Husband to work all day and then come home and deal with dinner too. He did that for years when I was undiagnosed and I don't ever want to take advantage of him in that way again. If that means that I have to run to the grocery store for a few things then that's what I do. There's a grocery store right around the corner that I can get to and get home within 30 minutes. I can spare 30 minutes to make my husbands day easier.
5. Once the things that I have to do are done I try to do something that is fun. Usually this is sewing or quilting. Some days I only sew a few seams and others I sew for hours. I have realized that it is good for my soul to sew. Or I will watch some TV. Not in bed though, that is only for sleeping.
6. Try not to over react. When I came home from the meeting on Monday I was very upset. I didn't feel too comfortable and felt that I was being dismissed and was rude to. It took me a while to understand that I was having social anxiety and that it was 'all in my head'. 

Since I am very educated about my illness I know the signs of depression and anxiety and am doing what I can to combat it. I encourage you to learn the signs and symptoms. Education is empowering yourself to take control of your illness.

I have spoken to and emailed with quite a few people lately that just don't want to get up or do anything. I encourage you to MAKE yourself do something. Even the smallest thing will make you feel better. If you need support email me and I will be your biggest cheerleader. (I will also suggest that you see a doctor.) I know its hard, believe me I would love to stay in bed all day, but I MAKE myself do things. I stop myself from making excuses. For too long I didn't drive because that's where my anxiety was, but once I started driving down the road I realized that I can do it and that it was just easier to wait for someone else to take care of all these things.

I hope you can take what I have talked about and will give Making yourself do things a try.


PS I am not writing to anyone specific, although there are quite a few followers/friends who are struggling with the same things I am. I just hope that sharing this will encourage others.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

You mood is sometimes your choice.

I was just tweeting with some of my quilting friends. We were talking about fake phone calls from people pretending to be the police, firemen or even cancer groups asking for money. Here's what happened to me last week all within a few hours...

I got 3 different phone calls from the same number (but from different people) asking me for a donation for 3 different organizations. On most days by the 3rd phone call I would have been so annoyed and would have been very nasty to the caller. This would only result in my mood changing and not in a good way. After all, do any of us really feel better after we have been nasty to someone? I don't. My heart rate goes up and my heart feels angry (I don't know how to describe it). I get stressed...tense in my shoulders and sometimes I get a headache. And if I am with someone I get even more annoyed when they tell me to 'calm down" (calm is one of my four letter words). Plus I know that I am not ruining the callers day. They are used to the verbal abuse and might even laugh at how many people they can upset. So this time I decided to laugh at them...right to their face and guess what? They had no comeback for that. After a few awkward seconds he just said he was sorry and hung up. So I ask you whose mood was worse after that? It wasn't mine, I got a laugh out of it, and I have to hope that he felt a tiny bit bad for what he was doing or at least stupid.

The reason I am sharing this story is to show you that I had a choice of how I would react to a situation and that by choosing to not allow myself to get upset my mood was not changed in a negative way.

Next time you are starting to feel annoyed at someone try this. You don't have to be as extreme as me and actually laugh at them, but if you pick and choose your arguments then your mood will be less affected. This is especially true with our spouse and children. I remember picking at things they did and at one point I realized that all this negative attention wasn't working. If they can't get positive attention they will do what they need to  to get negative attention, all they want is attention so they get it anyway they can. By picking and choosing my 'fights' I was in a better mood and so were my kids. It took me a long time to figure it out, but I promise it works. Even with my grown children and husband I go by this. Instead of complaining about how he folds the towels, I am just grateful for what he does. This definitely makes me happier, which is better than begin annoyed.

I hope this helps next time you find yourself getting annoyed at little things.

Sha :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I'm not even sure what to call this post, but I feel ready to start back again. This past month has been hard, I have never had to deal with losing a parent and it has been difficult to deal with at times. But I feel that if I keep up with this blog it will help me as well as you so, I am back :). Instead of sharing a tidbit on getting well I am going to talk about my day yesterday and what I did to work thru it.

I haven't been sleeping well lately. Hubs was gone all last week and it was the first time in many years that I was all alone in the house. With him gone I didn't sleep well, not because I was scared of being alone in the house, but because I was staying up way too late to get a restful night, which leads me to 

lesson #1...Getting sleep is of utmost importance. Staying up late made me too tired the next day. Being tired made me cranky, which then made me not be able to sleep the next night...see the cycle?

With not sleeping I began to get tired during the day and the last few days I took naps, pretty lengthy ones. Everyday I wanted to stay in bed longer and longer. I didn't want to do much quilting, or any cooking at all, two of my most favorite things in the world to do. Over the weekend I got away with not cooking, but I knew if I didn't make the meatballs that I had gotten ingredients for, the ground beef and sub rolls would probably not be good the next day. I knew that would make me feel even worse and would let Hubs down since he really wanted meatball subs, so I forced myself to get up after my nap. I had to talk myself into getting up by saying to myself "how hard would it be to spend 30 minutes cooking?" or "It's not fair to Hubs to make him get takeout after he worked all those hours" and stuff like that. It was hard to do, but I knew that I would feel better when I did get up. I planned on a time that I had to start and believe me I stayed in bed till that exact minute. And when I was done cooking (it only took like 30 minutes to do), I wasn't anymore tired than I was before, I had survived! As a matter of fact I felt better that I did something.

lesson #2...Make yourself do something everyday. You can do it, I promise you will survive! You might feel anxious and scared, but you will feel better even taking the smallest step. If you don't feel comfortable driving then just go outside for a few minutes, maybe walk around the back yard. Start small, 15 minutes at a time and add on to that. When I first started getting out again I would go to Sonic or Starbucks and get a drink. It took no more than 15 minutes, but did make me feel better about myself. I felt human again and it felt good!

And after dinner, guess what I did without even thinking? I clean the kitchen! Yes I know that sounds like a given, but in my house the chef doesn't always have to clean. But without even thinking I took care of it all...another step in the right direction!

lesson #3...Doing 1 good thing can turn into another and then another and soon there will be an avalanche of good things happening!

So there you go, that was my day yesterday. Today has been a bit easier, but I am fighting the urge to take a nap right now. I think I will take one, I don't have to cook today (leftovers tonight) but I would like to get some more quilting done before Hubs comes home, so it will (hopefully) be a short one.

I hope this has helped you, we can all do this and stay and be healthy and enjoy life to the fullest!

Sha :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Where have I been?

I know I have been absent on my blog.
First I went away for my cousins wedding, which was lovely.
Now my Mother-in-law is in the hospital and dying. So you can see how I havent been able to blog. Please keep my Mother-in-law in your prayers. Hopefully her suffering will be over soon.

When things calm down I will continue this blog.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

You Have to Sleep to Cope and Heal

This is a truth for any illness or disease. If you had surgery you would need lots of rest to heal. It's the same with depression and anxiety. Getting thru the day when you have these illnesses can be especially difficult. You need more energy and focus to make it thru the day, at least I do to stay happy and healthy. Getting a good nights sleep is essential to recovery. I get a lot of information from WebMd. Here's a great article on this very topic.

This explains it all. I want to cover this now to help you on your way to recovery or to simply remind you of this fact.

Sha :)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Be Good to Yourself On Purpose

This is major! 

I had this very long scenario ready to type and decided to keep today's message short and sweet.

Being good to yourself makes you feel good, its simple as that. Think of how you feel after you get a pedicure? Or when you cook a meal just for yourself instead of ordering take out. These are little ways that I am good to myself. These things make me happy, even for a moment and that's what our goal is. After doing a good thing for ourselves we need to realize that we did something good for ourselves. It will help you feel happy, if just in that moment, but a moment of happiness is much better than a moment of sadness.

Sha :)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Each Step is a Victory!

I love this saying! We all need to be reminded of it from time to time. Sometimes we get so caught up in the stuff we have yet to do, that we forget to celebrate the stuff we have already done.

Say you are a quilter and have decided to make a king size quilt using 5" pinwheels. That's a lot of pieces to make into pinwheels, approximately 399 pieces. No matter what, this quilt is going to take a long time to make. From the planning stage to cutting, to piecing and then to putting it all together and quilting it, it will be a lot of work, with many steps involved. At some point in that process most of us would get frustrated that it's taking 'so long' to finish. It's then that we might start dwelling on the enormous task ahead of us, which can cause anxiety. When in reality we should be celebrating what we have accomplished. Did you put 5 pinwheels together? Good for you! That's 5 less to have to make!

The way I see it there's 2 choices I can make:
1. Be anxious about what I have to do. I might say to myself "Why did I even think to make this quilt in this pinwheel pattern?" or "I just wasted $50 on fabric for this quilt that I will never be able to finish". These statements are negative thoughts and create self doubt in ourselves by questioning our plans and abilities. I am sure you will agree that these feelings are negative feelings.
2. Think about what I have accomplished. Did I get the fabric pressed and strips cut? That's two steps completed! Did I cut the fabric strips in to squares to make the pinwheels with? Yay, that's another step done! With each step I am getting closer and closer to finishing.

If the end result is to be victorious and finish the king size quilt, then shouldn't each step be a victory too? It's the steps that we have to celebrate, that keeps the positive feelings going, making us happier and probably more focused on finishing the quilt.

Sha :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Do you ever feel scared, afraid or fearful? We all do from time to time, and those of us who suffer from anxiety feel it more often. We have been talking about ways to talk back to our negative feelings. When dealing with fear we might feel overwhelmed, which makes it even harder to handle. With this simple saying you can begin to talk back to your fear and make it less intense and more manageable.

Think about this:
Right here right now I am safe.

This is another one of those 'go to' sayings of mine. My anxiety is all about fear and learning to deal with fear is a major part of my recovery. It reminds me that even though I may feel afraid the chance of being in real danger at that moment is slim. Most of the fear we feel is perceived, meaning we spend much more time worrying about being in danger than time actually being in danger. And this is a good thing. It makes us more vigilant and aware of our surroundings. But when dealing with someone who is anxious, handling that fear is different. I have had to figure out a way to prove to myself that I am indeed safe.

Personally I have trouble driving. Highways scare me, in part because I may cause an accident and in part because others might cause an accident. I think lots of us feel that way. But my fear can result in a panic attack, which is not a good thing to have, especially while driving. If I think about it, moment by moment I can prove to myself that I am safe. Even if I have a close call (someone cutting me off or almost running into me), saying this can prove to myself that I am safe.

A few weeks ago I decided to go to a quilt show in the next city. It wasn't too far, on MapQuest it said 17.7 miles from my house to the place where the quilt show was being held. So off I went, knowing that this would be the furthest I had driven myself in about 4 years. Once I got on the highway I started to get nervous and those panicky feelings started. Before I knew it I was gripping the steering wheel very tightly and my heart was beating faster. I was looking in my rear view mirror all the time and when another car got too close I was very nervous. Then I remembered that "Right here, right now I am safe". Was I bet I was, but I was in my car safely driving to the quilt show. And when I got to my destination I was both relieved to be there and off the road, but also proud of myself for making the drive alone. It was a great feeling! Yes I was nervous about the drive home, but knowing that I had made it once showed me that I can make it again. Proving this to myself helps keep the panic attacks to a minimum, which is my goal.

Next time you feel afraid try using this tool to show yourself that
Right here right now, you are safe.
Sha :)

Monday, May 23, 2011

What gets you out of a bad mood?

This past weekend my house was full of kids and their friends. Even though I love having them around, that’s usually a lot of stimulation which makes me feel anxious. This happens every time the house is full (that’s one of the drawbacks of being an empty nester and being home alone during the day) I like my quiet time and get cranky if I don’t get it.

Knowing this, a few weeks ago I was thinking of what gets me out of that kind of mood. You know the matter what someone says or does it gets on your nerves. Then I remembered back to the therapy group I was in. I had made a playlist of my 'happy' songs and shared it with everyone in the group a copy. These songs ranged from show tunes (Put on a Happy Face) to oldies (Your the inspiration by Chicago, which was also our wedding song) to some modern music. The list was just like me, I like lots of different things and hate being pigeon holed. When I remembered that I immediately made a new Happy playlist and started playing it all the time. And before long I started feeling better. I was singing, and dancing around like a teenager again, plus added with sewing/quilting I was one happy camper.

So what I want you to think about is what makes you happy? What is the one thing that brings a smile to your face? It can be a song, a drawing, taking a hot bath, going for a walk or gardening, anything that makes you smile. Because when we smile it brightens our day.

And I would love to know what songs would be on your Happy playlist.

Sha :)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ask what's going right in your life

Sometime in May was National Depression Week, depending on what web site you looked at it might have been the 1st – 7th or this past week. Either way, depression is an important topic to talk about.

Since I am not a mental health professional and am just sharing with you things that have helped me deal with my depression and anxiety, I am not going to go over the signs of depression. If you think you may be suffering from depression or anxiety, I encourage you to write a list of your feelings and thoughts and take them to your doctor to discuss it. I also get some good information from WebMd.  

Today’s topic:
Ask what is going right in your life.

It is human nature to dwell on the negative stuff instead of the positive stuff. I am a ‘fixer’ and want to fix all the negative stuff, big or small, my problems or someone else’s. If I don’t at least think about fixing a problem I start to feel helpless, which is not a good feeling to have. So I try to fix fix fix. This just reinforces what’s not going good in our lives. When we ask ourselves what’s going well for us, it reinforces the good stuff and brings it to the forefront of our minds, which is a great place to be. If you ask yourself the right questions it will lead to a happier day.

Here’s an exercise to get your started and prove that you have more good than bad in your life. Try this:
At least once a day take out a piece of paper and write what your problems are. Big or small it doesn’t matter; remember there’s no right or wrong answers. Then below that start to write what’s good in your life. It can be anything, having a job, feeling good physically, talking to an old or new friend, whatever you have that’s positive in your life. Don’t be shy; write every little thing you can think of. Now which part is bigger? When I do this I always have more on in the good part than bad.  It seems like a silly thing to do, but it’s all about teaching ourselves to think differently and to talk back to the depression. After a few days you will have taught yourself to think about your blessings differently. Those blessings, no matter how small they may seem, are what we should be thinking about more than the negative stuff. Once you train yourself to think this way you will be happier, which is what the goal is. And when you ask yourself what's right in your life the answers will come easier. This would be a great exercise to do in your journal if you have started journaling.

Let me know if you have tried this and if it has worked.

Sha J

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Healing Letters

When I was going thru group therapy 4 years ago (wow has it been that long ago?) I was given quite a few tools to help me. This 'letter' was an assignment and one that I found very helpful and used several times in my healing process. This is a letter with prompts, you simply fill in the prompts.

The first step is deciding who or what you are writing to or about. The first one I wrote was to my son Eric who passed away when he was 1 week old. Right now I am a little upset that I can't find that specific Healing Letter, but I am sure it will turn up. I have also written one to each of my other children, my husband and even to depression. The letter outline can be found in the tab at the top that says Healing letter.

Remember that this letter is for you. There's no rules, just write what's in your heart. You don't even have to re-read it if you don't want to, however I think I always re-read these. You can also decide if you want to give the letter to who you wrote it to and you can share it with whomever you want to. When I was in therapy many of us shared them in class. I can still remember how silent it was when I read the letter to Eric and how many people were crying when I was done. As soon as I find the letter I will share it with you if you would like to see it. If not just tell me, my feelings will not be hurt, remember that this is about you and I am here to help you in any way I can. As always feel free to contact me with any questions of comments you might have. If I don't have your email, and if you are not a no-reply blogger, just leave me a comment that says to email you and I will send you my email so we can correspond that way.

Sha :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The last word in HALT is Tired.

There are many ways we can be tired. We can be physically tired, mentally tired, emotionally tired or just plain sleepy.  The danger comes when we feel overwhelmed by life and can’t function productively anymore. This can put us and others at risk.

Think of tired as being empty, drained or at its very worst unable to feel. What would help you to not have these feelings? Seems to me that if you are empty you need to be filled up.  How do we fill up? The answer may surprise you.

I was told a few years ago that “you can’t give from empty” and it’s something that I truly believe in. Life is a series of give and take, as well as supporting others and receiving support from others. I find that if I ‘give’ of myself then I start to feel better about myself. Yesterday I wrote about a way to bring little bits of happiness to others, which in turn gives bits of happiness to ourselves. This is a way to ‘give’, to fill ourselves up. I know it seems weird that I am saying to give instead of take to get filled up, but in all reality you are taking by giving. It’s when we stop giving that we become empty.

Think of a time that someone was upset and wanted comfort. Did you help comfort them, perhaps even gave them advise? How did that make you feel? Did you feel good about helping them? I know that helping others, no matter what type of mood I am in always brightens my day. It's like what I wrote about yesterday, When I give someone even a little bit of happiness (which they get from my support) it brings me happiness. See I 'gave' of myself which made me feel good that I was able to help, which in turn 'filled' me up.

Heres another example:
I know that when my hubby comes home and I am in a bad mood that I feel more tired than before he came home. But if I great him nicely, no matter how stressful a day I have had, it makes both of us happy and more relaxed. See the pattern?

Hubby comes home from work à I great him with a scowl showing him the bad mood I am in à Makes me feel worse and puts him in a bad mood à still tired/empty
Hubby comes home from work à I great him with a smile and happy greeting or even a hug and kiss à Gives him some happiness and makes me feel good about bringing him a bit of happiness à fills me up and I feel less tired/empty

It’s just like what I wrote about yesterday. Tired and Lonely can be worked on the same way. Isn’t that great? You can kill 2 birds with 1 stone.

Tomorrow I will give you a tool to help you explore some of your feelings.

Sha J