Aside

Can You be Happy?

A few weeks ago I started the #100happydays challenge on instagram. While I liked the whole premise behind this challenge I was mainly thinking that it would simply be fun to post a daily picture. So on day one I posted my first picture, but didn’t really put much thought into. The first week went by pretty much the same way, I posted a picture each day and didn’t give it a second thought.

As time went on I will admit that I started to notice a few things:

  • I would take time to notice what made me happy each day
  • I found that lately I have been in a much better mood and caught myself smiling more
  • I started to realize on a more regular basis how truly lucky I am and even on my worst day there is always someone who is worse off than I am

In general I started to realize that in order to be happy I have to create happiness for myself. Yes, I am going to have completely crappy days where I feel like crawling back under the covers, but it is much better to look on the bright side instead of wallowing in the bad. It’s like my eyes were finally open and I was seeing things that I was too busy to notice before.

Was I really so busy and caught up in my day that I couldn’t take 5 minutes for myself?

Instead of being to caught up in my own thoughts and blocking out the rest of the world I was noticing small followers on that were starting to bloom. I was watching sunsets and would take time to lay down and look at the stars. I was slowing down and making sure that I was enjoying life.

Currently I have a little over a month left and I plan on sticking in it to the very end. Who knows? I may decide to keep going and just take the time each day to identify something that made me happy.

Are you up for the challenge? 

 

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On a Serious Note: Too Close to Home

I have had serious anxiety for years..

I over think everything, I worry when there is no reason too, and I like things to be a certain way. There are nights when I can’t sleep because my brain won’t turn off and I have panic attacks that leave me incapable of doing anything until they pass. However, as I have identified appropriate medication that works for me and met with a counselor, I am now able to manage my anxiety better than ever.

This being said I am no stranger to mental health disorders, but I was still not prepared for the news I received a few days ago.

My father is 65 years old and is my best friend. He has been there for me through everything, gave me everything he could, and I know would drop anything to come to my rescue should I need him. Lately he has been having some problems remembering little things, sometimes he would ask questions multiple times, and has been misplacing things more often. While I noticed this new behavior I shrugged it off as older age and daily stress. I know quite a bit about dementia from working in the field and from conducting numerous memory and executive functioning batteries, but I didn’t once think it was anything serious. Just to be safe my mom had him go see a neurologist who conducted many tests and brain scans. He was then sent home and told he would receive results within a few weeks.

Fast forward to a few days ago…

My dad called me early in the evening the day he went back to discuss his results with the neurologist. He paused for a moment and then said “Lauren, I have been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. They started me on this medication donepizel and that’s all I have for now.” 

My first reaction was to laugh, he tends to joke about losing his mind and so I thought he was joking, plus there was no way that he could actually have Alzheimer’s.

Unfortunately, he was serious.

I responded with “Ok, send me the information that the doctor gave you. I will talk to you later, love you.”

I hung up the phone and sat on the couch and just stared. I didn’t really react, I don’t know if it didn’t sink in or if I still just didn’t believe it. I know that Alzheimer’s is a slow disease and right now not much is going to be different, but I am having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that at some point my dad may no longer know who I am. True there are new medications and treatments available today, but this disease is not curable and the reality is he is going to get much worse over time.

The good news (you always have to try to find the good in a bad situation) is that it was caught early and he has started treatment. If you suspect that someone you love potentially has some form of dementia get them tested as soon as possible so that they are able to start a treatment regimen that will help them better manage their symptoms.

They’re Alive!!

A few weeks ago I posted about a small potted “garden” that I had started on my back deck. This is the first time that I actually attempted to grow multiple herds, fruit, and veggies for myself so I was pretty excited. However, since my track record with house plants is not one to brag about I wasn’t expecting much (except dead plants).

I am happy to report that as of today all plants are still alive and well. It was a little touch and go with the tomato plant for awhile, but I was able to nurse it back to health. Currently there are about 4 tomatoes growing, the peppers are starting to bloom, and the strawberry plant I bought for fun has strawberries. In fact I picked my first harvest tonight and it was delicious!

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Ok, soooo it’s not a big harvest. Just one little strawberry, but I am excited none the less. Next year I am thinking that I will have to get more of these plants so maybe I can get two strawberries!

 

On a Serious Note: Introduction

While most of my blog is meant to be funny or just random thoughts on my daily life there are some topics that are meant to be taken seriously. One such topic is Mental Health.

Since I was young the field of psychology has always been of great interest to me and it was this that caused me to pursue a career in mental health. I received my masters in counseling in 2009,  have years of experience as a psychological researchers working on various projects, and have spent a few years in the field. I have worked at a women’s abuse shelter, a child’s day treatment program, ran substance abuse and addiction groups, studied recidivism rates in a mental health facility, observed executive and cognitive functioning after a ICU hospital stay at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and ran studies for an emotion and cognition lab.

What I have learned from all of these different experiences is that mental health disorders are very real and more prevalent than many people think. Additionally, there is still a lot of misunderstanding about what it means to be mentally ill and the various negative effects they have on the lives of those struggling with them.

It is estimated that one in four people suffer from a mental illness, which is why we need to work on awareness, understanding, and recognition of these illnesses in order to help those who are struggling. The more we talk we can help to end the stigma that surrounds mental illness and advocate for treatment and recovery.

Since this topic is one that is close to my heart, I have decided that I am also going to be incorporating mental health related posts on my blog. This way I will be doing my part for mental health awareness.

A Generation of Wussies

It is a cold hard fact: Not everyone is equal.

When I say that I don’t mean that everyone shouldn’t have the same opportunities or same rights. What I mean is that not everyone can be the fastest, strongest, prettiest, or smartest. Everyone can’t be the best at everything. There is always going to be someone better than you. There are going to be things that you are not able to do and the sooner that we accept this the better.

Yes, a child should feel good about themselves and they should be confident in who they are. However, they should also know their limitations so as to prevent heartbreak further down the road when they realize that they are in fact not superman.

Today everyone is so concerned about building up a child’s self-esteem, afraid to tell them that they have done something wrong because it may hurt their feelings. Why is it wrong to tell a child that they are not good at something and that they should move on to try and find something they are better at? Why shouldn’t a child be aware of their weaknesses so that they can build up their strengths? 

When I grew up you didn’t get trophies for being in last place. Or a ribbon simply for participating. Today it seems like you get a prize for everything. What happened to healthy competition and acknowledging the accomplishment of a job well done? You have to push children so they excel, not reward them when they have completely failed at something. How is that going to make them try harder? What do they have to work toward if they are already getting such praise for basically standing on the field breathing? 

Your child’s precious self-esteem isn’t going to be ruined if they don’t get a blue ribbon or a “you’re awesome” sticker. It will actually help to prepare them for the real world, which sucks….

Let’s face it sometimes the world is a down right shitty place and this is something that children should be aware of. If you shelter and baby your child when they are hit with a large dose of reality they aren’t going to know what to do. (Cue emotional break down.) Their rose colored view of the world is going to shatter and then they are going to have to run back to mommy and daddy to fix everything.