Life… it happens!

I know I haven’t posted a lot lately, and I’m sorry for that. Life has been… well, life. Here’s what’s been going on in the last month or so.

I took some vacation time over the holidays. I’m usually not online much during my vacation, whether I go away or stay home. I might flip through Facebook once a day on my phone, but that’s about it. My best friend was supposed to come for New Year’s but car problems prevented that from happening. I spent the time working on what is seemingly the never-ending room project.

For those of you who are newer to my blog, I’ve been working on deep cleaning/throwing stuff out/donating stuff/decluttering/reorganizing my room for months now. To say it’s never-ending is a bit of a misnomer, I know, because I really am so close to the end. I’m down to two tubs and a pile to get thru plus a few other things that need to get put away. It’s really not much. However, since I’ve been working on this since JUNE (on the weekends mostly), it seems like it’s never-ending! My mom keeps reminding me tho’ that it took me 2+ years to get it to the level of disaster that it was so, 7 1/2 months really isn’t bad since I can only work on it on the weekends and sometimes that just doesn’t happen due to mental health, physical health or prior plans.

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¬†On top of the seemingly never-ending room project, things have been quite crazy at work. Over New Year’s weekend, we migrated to a new software system for our library. If you’ve ever migrated to a completely different software system at work, you know it’s not precisely easy. Nor does it usually go off without a few hitches. We had to switch. Our old software was being discontinued by the manufactured. However, our new software is drastically different from the old and it’s really taking some getting used to. Not only do I have to figure out cataloging of regular items to do my main job in acquisitions, but I also have to figure out the cataloging of Inter-library Loan items since I’m a part of the ILL team and the only ILL team member with cataloging knowledge. It’s been challenging to say the least and by the time I come home at night, I’m pretty dead tired.

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I was also sick the week that I went back to work, so that didn’t help my trying to get used to the new software. I had no patience for things that didn’t work like I wanted them to!

Finally, this winter is actually getting to me and wreaking havoc on my depression. Usually I do okay in winter. I even like winter most years. But this year we’ve had weeks and weeks of single digit temperatures with wind chills below freezing. It’s the kind of cold that just zaps your strength if you’re out in it at all. Supposedly the rest of January is supposed to warm up and be better. I hope it is. Maybe it’ll help me get out of this funk I’m feeling lately. It’s definitely warmer today so it’s a good start. ūüôā

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Hopefully the warmer weather will help me get back to feeling more human and less like a popsicle. I have reviews I want to write, I just haven’t had the momentum/energy to do them recently. Thanks for hanging in there with me!

 

All Birds Have Anxiety – REVIEW

4 out of 5 stars.

All Birds Have Anxiety is the third in a series of books that Kathy Hoopmann wrote about different types of mental illnesses and developmental disabilities. It was a good book about an important subject matter, but not my favorite in the series.

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Synopsis

Life as a bird can be stressful! From worrying about airplanes, windows, and getting enough worms to eat, it is clear that birds can be anxious beings. Through a light-touch, quizzical depiction of bird behaviour, All Birds Have Anxiety uses colourful images and astute explanations to explore with gentle humour what it means to live with anxiety day-to-day, and how to begin to deal with it.

Following the style of the best-selling All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome and All Dogs Have ADHD, wonderful colour photographs express the complex and difficult ideas related to anxiety disorder in an easy-to-understand way. This simple yet profound book validates the deeper everyday experiences of anxiety, provides an empathic understanding of the many symptoms associated with anxiety, and offers compassionate suggestions for change.

The combination of understanding and gentle humour make this the ideal introduction to anxiety disorder for those diagnosed with this condition, their family and friends and those generally interested in understanding anxiety.

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© Graphic Garden

Review

While the information in this book is great, there was just something about it that seemed “off”. I can’t even really put my finger on it, but I definitely didn’t like it as well as I liked the previous books, All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome and All Dogs have ADHD.

However, the information given was very well done. Simple language is used to help kids understand what anxiety is and what it might feel like in their bodies. The book discusses how to overcome anxiety as well in simple steps that are easy for any age to follow. Things like facing your fears so they don’t become even more overwhelming in your mind, controlling your breathing, etc.

The photos of the birds are beautiful and many of them seem to be experiencing anxiety when we look at them. I believe they can help children realize that they’re not the only ones feeling the way they do.¬† It can also help parents and other family and friends realize that this is a real issue and not something the child is doing to garner attention or get out of doing something.

All in all it’s a decent book and I do recommend it.

250th Post – Some of my Artwork

This is my 250th post as a blogger! Wow! I can’t believe I’ve made that many posts and that people actually read them!

I’ve had a couple of people asking me to post some of my artwork, so I thought it’d be a great way to celebrate 250 posts! When I make art, sometimes I simply color adult coloring book pages. Sometimes, I make crazy shapes, color them in, and as I’m making these shapes, the artwork just speaks to me on what it should be so then I choose colors accordingly. Sometimes I do decoupage or paint ceramics. Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of my decoupage or my ceramics, but I do of my coloring/drawing.

Here’s a couple of my recent coloring pages:

 

Both of these coloring pages are artworks by Selina Fenech, an Australian artist whom I absolutely love. The one on the left is titled Within the Coffin and is from Selina’s Gothic coloring book. The one on the right is called Her Special Place and is from Selina’s Magical Minis coloring book. Selina has many coloring books available including one that’s just ponds and flowers which I really enjoy.

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I’ve also found a coloring book group to be a part of on Facebook. Joanna Campbell Slan, an author I like, set it up and it can be found here. Below are two of the pictures I’ve done from there.

I’m actually in the process of coloring a few more of the “Breathe” picture so I can give them to important people in my life who need the reminder to “breathe” from time to time.

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Now to share some of my “original” artwork. I’ve never been real good at drawing. If I practice for hours and hours a day, I’d get to the point where I was good, but never great. So, instead, for probably 20 years or more, I’ve made my own type of abstract art. Sometimes, I have a set palette of colors in mind when I start; a set concept for what I want it to represent. Sometimes I don’t know until I get started with it and then I will get a sense and tailor my color choices around that sense. All of these, I already had the concept in my head for what I wanted it to represent. Even still, the shape of the various shapes and the colors aren’t chosen ahead of time. That all happens in the moment.

This first one is all about anger and rage. This one I did as I was processing my feelings from our annual Staff Day. We had a speaker from the police department and at he was talking about gun laws and things like the open-carry laws in Michigan and how libraries aren’t considered protected spaces like schools are. I was doing okay with all that. Then all of a sudden he switched over to active shooters, including videos. There was a complete lack of warning about content of videos. I made it out of the room and didn’t see any of them, but I didn’t make it to the lounge quick enough and I heard the whole first video. I was livid that no warnings had been given about it. There was no “if you don’t feel comfortable, you don’t have to sit here” warning like there was the first time we had active shooter training. It seriously triggered me (and I later learned that it also triggered some others with PTSD). This artwork came out of processing those feelings and triggers.

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The blue is due to the fact that often when I’m angry and raging, I cry. Messy, ugly crying. Thank god for great co-workers and friends. Also, thankfully, the speaker AFTER the police department was incredibly funny and that help break up some of the tension that was still there after all the ugly crying and breathing to stay grounded.

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© Graphic Garden

The first of the following two I did at Staff Day as well. I had actually started it before the active shooter surprise. It’s simply supposed to represent fall and all the brilliant colors we see in fall.¬† The second one I decided to do after fall. It’s winter, but I’m not that pleased with how it turned out so I’ll probably do another one soon.

The white I have currently isn’t real great. I need a new Prismacolor white. A few months ago, for one of my programs at work, I used my white pencils to trace shapes on black paper. Most of my white pencils were pretty much obliterated during that, including my Prismacolor white.

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Thanks for joining me a special 250th post! I’ve got a couple of reviews coming up this week for you and other stops on blog tours as well.

Small Victories

Things on this end have been so-so lately. Apparently, mid-October is a rough time mentally/emotionally for me. I never realized this, but my therapist and my best friend both say that every year this time is difficult so I trust them!

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Given that, I’ve been focusing on small victories lately.

  • Over the weekend, I got a bookshelf moved by myself (it’s a tall skinny one, easy to move alone), I cleared off another so my dad and I can take it to the basement (hopefully this weekend), and cleaned out my entertainment center so it’ll be easier to move.
  • This week I’ve also pre-wrote and scheduled some of my blog tour posts in advance. I’ve had a hard time lately – forgetting them or having life get in the way and they ended up posted late. Now I don’t have to worry about the next 3 posts. They’re already written and scheduled to post. That makes me feel good.
  • In the past, I had a real problem with self-harm. I still have urges now and again since it’s somewhat of an addiction, just instead of drowning my sorrows in alcohol, I did it with cutting. It’s just easier to say no to the urges now than it was in the past. The other night, the urge was pretty strong, but I did not give in, so I’m proud of that.
  • I’m diabetic and I’m doing better at not eating so many sweets. I’m never going to be someone who doesn’t eat any at all – ice cream is my vice. BUT, knowing I was going to have ice cream after work last night, I said no to a cupcake. Yay!

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Sometimes, the way the world eats at us and gets us down, we’ve gotta find the small things that will lift those spirits. Most of the time it’s my adorable niece and sweet nephew who lift my spirits, but this week, I found some other victories.

What kind of small things have you been grateful for lately? Any victories you want to share?

Going Green for Mental Health Awareness

Today, I’m going green for Mental Health Awareness. May is Mental Health Awareness month here in the United States. This is something near and dear to my heart because I live with five (5) mental illnesses every day of my life and I have a tendency towards a sixth (which just means that my symptoms aren’t bad enough for full diagnosis).¬†

  • 1 in 5 adults (60 million people) in the United States lives with a mental health condition.
  • 1 in 25 adults (10 million people) in the United States live with a serious mental health condition.¬†
  • 60 million adults in the United States face the day-to-day reality of living and dealing with a mental illness.¬†
  • 90% of all suicides are committed by people with a mental health condition, but it doesn’t have to be this way. 70-90% of all sufferers experience a significant reduction of symptoms if they are getting the right treatment and have good support.
    (All statistics are from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)

I am one of those 60 million people. Day-to-day living with a mental illness is¬†not easy, to say the least. Some days, it’s debilitating. Other days, it’s just simply hard. On those days when it’s just simply hard, I’m able to go to work, able to blog, able to get together with friends, able to have a life. The days in which it’s debilitating, it’s just that – debilitating. I cannot work, cannot blog, cannot hang out with friends. About the most I can do is maybe make it out of bed to the couch. Maybe.

Mental health isn’t something that’s easy to talk about and yet, it should be. One should be able to say, “My anxiety is really high today” just as easily as one can say, “Man, my allergies are really bad today”. They’re both illnesses. Neither is more “legitimate” than the other. Unfortunately, there’s a stigma attached to mental illnesses.¬†Stigma refers to not only the tangible reasons that most people stay silent such as bullying, rejection, and discrimination, but it also refers to the intangible reasons, feeling isolated, being blamed for your mental illness, and feeling shame for having a mental illness.

If you notice, while I’m open about the fact that I have five (5) mental illnesses, I did not name them. That’s because of¬†the stigma associated with them. It’s become more acceptable to talk about having depression and anxiety, both of which I have. But there are still some very severe mental illnesses where the stigma attached is so great that people automatically assume that if someone has one of those illnesses, they’re a danger to society. Unfortunately, I have one of those. Consequently, I don’t usually talk about what specific mental illnesses I have. ¬†

However, let me be candid and frank. Any mental illness, no matter how severe, does not automatically mean the person is a danger to society. I’m not saying it’s not possible. We all know it’s possible. I watch the news as much as the rest of you. But simply having a mental illness should not be the sole component that an individual is judged on. Period. Do you automatically think that someone with diabetes or multiple scleorsis or cancer is a danger to society? No, you probably don’t because most people don’t. Similarly, those with schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, dissociative identity disorder (multiple personalities), antisocial personality disorder, or any other mental illness should not automatically be considered a danger to society. ¬†With the proper treatment (which is usually a combination of medication and therapy), people can learn how to cope with their mental illness and can be productive members of society, but many don’t seek help because of all the stigma attached to mental illness. We as a society need to work together to change that.

My challenge to all of you today is two-fold:  

  1. I encourage you to educate yourself, learn about the disorders that people have, and then go out and start conversations with people about mental illness. Help end the stigma that people with mental illness feel. Help end any stigma you may feel against someone with a mental illness. Only by working together can we end all stigma. 
  2. If you have a mental illness and you’re currently not seeking help for whatever reason, please do yourself the favor and seek help. It is the single best thing you can do to change your life. It’s not easy. I know it’s not, but it really is the single best thing you can do to learn how to cope with your mental illness.¬†

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