“Dance above the surface of the world. Let your thoughts lift you into creativity that is not hampered by opinion.”Red Haircrow
Hello, my friends. I hope this update finds you all well. I’m ignoring the half dozen draft posts I have written to give you the impromptu post, straight from the heart. These are my favorite posts, though not the most SEO friendly or the most informative. *shrug*
Happy September! This marks the first day of spooky season, so says I! So even though it’s still 100 degrees outside and even though the Equinox isn’t until the end of of the month…TODAY is the official beginning of Fall (in my household)! I’ll break out the Halloween decor in just about a week or two so we can enjoy it for as long as possible. Decoration shame-ers, be damned!
The Marking Of An Occasion
September holds a special anniversary for me. It’s been almost a year since my official mental health diagnosis. ADHD, OCD, C-PTSD, Persistent Depressive Disorder, and GAD. My laundry list. The week before ADHD Awareness month (coming in October), I sat in my therapist’s office as she handed me the answers I had been searching for for 30 years. What she handed me was a gift.
She had already clued me in that I might have ADHD so I had spent the whole month of September learning about ADHD, joining communities all over the internet, and feeling seen for the first time in my life. Last September felt like revelation after revelation. I was understanding myself for the first time in my life. Things that I thought were just character deficits, explained in plain English.
It was in the wake of my diagnosis that I decided to start the blog back up. When I started back, I had one clear agenda. I would write one piece on each of my 5 disorders. I wanted people to have a place to access all of the information that I had been absorbing. I couldn’t believe that I had been so misinformed about my disorders and I wanted to give other people the gift that I had been given; knowledge and understanding.
I had an idea for 5 posts and, beyond that, I had no idea what I was going to write about. I didn’t start writing full time right away. See, though I was going through some serious self-discovery, my mental illnesses weren’t in check. Not by a long shot. I was still plagued with intrusive thoughts, vivid mental images of hurting myself, and a deep depression. My anxiety was out of control and I was often having severe panic 12 hours a day, more days out of the week than I didn’t.
I kept doing research and I kept learning; the more I learned, the more I forgave myself, little by little. I felt relief, validation, and hope. But, as many late-diagnosed folks can tell you, there were a lot of other emotions, as well. I heard someone recently describe it as an emotional storm and it’s the first time that phrase ever made perfect sense. That’s exactly what it was. A storm of intense emotions.
So with this perfect storm of intense positive emotion, negative emotion, and mental illness run amok, by the time November rolled around, I was floundering. My intrusive thoughts were incessant. A little voice in my head (literally) telling me how useless and hopeless I was, all day every day. Depression threatening to swallow me up. I remember thinking that it felt like a black cloud…getting closer and closer every day. I was fighting it all off, but how long it until it gobbled me up again.
Anyway, it was very a very intense period of time. I had started researching and writing my 5 posts, but they were sporadic. My doctors were able to quickly intervene in my mental health, get me on the right medications, and get my brain back on the right track, but it was clear that I needed some time to heal from what happened. At the end of November, I went on medical leave from my job and entered into intensive out-patient therapy, 3x per week.
I spent the entire month of December healing, glad that I didn’t have the stress of my day job on top of healing what could have been classified as a pretty serious mental health episode. So I spent a month doing much of nothing. I hyperfocused on journaling, art, and lettering practice and kept myself occupied with the approaching holidays. I learned all about blog planning and how important it is to have a schedule…
To be clear, there were not many outward signs that anything was wrong with me when things were bad. My husband was aware of the non-stop anxiety. It was so bad that it felt like old TV static inside my brain; I couldn’t hide it. He might have been vaguely aware that I was depressed, but the rest I kept hidden from everyone. Honestly, the auditory hallucination scared me but I still kept it inside. I didn’t’ want to bother anyone with it. Stigma, amIrite?
I digress. Something big happened in January. For the first time in my 38 years of life, a doctor of medicine treated me for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – Inattentive type. The first few days I took the pills, I felt like Bradley Cooper in that movie where he knows everything and knows how to use all of his brain. You know the one. I had no idea that I was living in a cloud, always had been, until it was lifted.
My thoughts were clear and I could plan. And that’s just what I did. I planned and brainstormed and I decided that I if I was going to be off from my day job, I would spend that time treating the blog as my day job. I learned and I wrote and I brainstormed and I wrote some more. I learned how to make a website, how to write for SEO, and how to attract a following of loyal readers.
It was a blissful 6 months, to be honest. I spent it doing something that made me happy; something that I feel well and truly passionate about. Writing about mental health. Learning about mental health. Advocating. Speaking out. Learning about myself. I was going hard in therapy; working on recovery with Dr. W, ADHD with Dr. R, and EMDR therapy with Elizabeth. It was quite a few months of education and growing as a human.
So, here I am. One year later. A couple of therapy sessions ago, I was talking to Dr. W about not feeling accomplished. Going back to the day job was killing my spirits and I was feeling defeated. She told me not to because I have, indeed, come a long way. She told me to a list of all the things I had accomplished in just the last year. I never did, but I’ve just decided to make that list here.
I’ve never written such a long lead-in to a list before and I’m feel weird tooting my own horn, but I deserve it. I’ve accomplished a lot.
- I have written 86 posts since January, this is my 87th.
- My yearly goal for the blog was to hit 10,000 views by the end of the year. As of this writing, I have 9,543 views. I’m on track to hit the goal by the end of September.
- In January, I had 169 followers on Twitter. I knew no one in any community and was a completely unknown blogger. I now have 3.3k+ with an active and engaged core of amazing people.
- I was nominated and was a finalist for The Mental Health Blog Award’s Blogger of the Year.
- I “graduated” therapy and am officially in mental health recovery! I still go to therapy once a month for maintenance purposes, but most of my intense therapy is over for now.
- I have made friends. Y’all, so many friends. People who support me and my cause. People who are kind and supportive. We understand each other…we get it.
- I started a podcast…then decided to let it die.
- I’ve become a certified professional life coach and I’m working on starting my own online coaching business.
- I’ve written 149,911 words in my posts.
- I’ve developed a newfound self-respect and sense of self for the first time in my entire life.
- I’ve healed and I’ve grown.
- I’ve become confident in my abilities.
- I created my very first e-course which just came out of Beta testing and will be up for sale in just a couple of weeks.
This time last year, I would have never imagined that I would be doing what I’m doing today. That little voice in my head was telling me I shouldn’t even be alive anymore, yet here I am…thriving. It’s absolutely amazing what a difference a year can make.
As some of you may have noticed, The Winter Of My Discontent got a pretty drastic make-over. I’m not taking coaching clients just yet, but I’m working very hard behind the scenes to get things ready to go. I have 2 more courses left and then I’ll be ready to take my first pro-bono clients.
As I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: The vision and the mission of TWOMD stays the same. Well, maybe I’ve added to the current vision. But it has always been (and will always be) about educating, advocating, and creating community for people with brain disorders.
The blog will stay the same…I’ve covered the basics of my illnesses, what they are, and what they look like. Now I’m going to start shifting focus to mental wellness and what that looks like for people with brain disorders (and without).
I haven’t kept up my promise to update regularly but, y’all…I’ve been busy. I should never be too busy for the blog, though, and for that I do apologize. One of my goals for the month of September is to sit down and figure out a posting schedule that actually works for me and then stick with it. I’m working on it, I promise.
Put Me In, Coach!
As for coaching, things are going well. I hit the ground running as soon as I signed up for courses. I finished the first 2 courses in a week and half. But, I soon found myself not paying attention during lecture videos and not taking good notes….I was burning myself out.
So, I’ve taken a break from classwork for a few days. I’ve been working on getting intake paperwork created and working out my coaching program. How do you teach people the tools that they need to build lasting self-esteem/self-confidence and to find purpose and meaning in their every day lives? How do you teach it?
I’m going to be honest with you guys, because I promised I always would, but there are things about coaching that I don’t love. You’ve probably seen the cliches and the scandals. There is ableism, tough love, and toxic positivity to boot. All things that I don’t look very highly on. So, what do I do?
Well, my friends. I change it. Now, I might not be able to change coaching as a whole (though, who knows whatever might happen), but I can change how I coach. I can put my own life philosophies in play in my coaching program and can leave out all the parts that don’t serve me and my clients.
They say coaching is only for “fully functioning” adults. Read: people who don’t have brain disorders. They say people with mental illnesses aren’t “coachable.” I say, “Pish-posh!” I say that all people are coachable and all people are welcome at my practice. If someone needs to be referred to mental health, I will take the time to help them find the care they need.
Anyway, I’ve seen firsthand that coaching can be a beautiful thing…life changing, really. I see in my mind’s eye, a thriving practice; getting to help people day in and day out. Changing lives and bettering my own in one fell-swoop. I daydream about a time when my coaching practice is doing so well that I can even take a pro-bono client every month.
I digress. There are things I don’t like; words like “excuses” and happiness used as a state of being instead of a passing emotion. It just makes the adventure that much more challenging; putting the pieces together and figuring out which ones need to be thrown out because they belong in someone else’s puzzle. Figuring out what coaching tools will be useful to my clients. Hashing out the best way to guide them to their success.
A Case Of The Nerves
I’m also working with a serious case of nerves. They’ve most been about the fact that I’m going to be starting my own business. My own business!?! I’ve never even considered it…not seriously, anyway. And coaching is such a new interest of mine…it all seems so fast. It seems fast, but it also seems right.
But my nerves also stem from the fact that, as a coach, I’m responsible for helping people make their dreams come true. What if I don’t ask the right questions? What if I don’t know what to do or say to help them? What if my ideas on what works are wrong and my results fall flat? What if…what if…what if…It just keeps going on and on like that.
I am scared because I have ADHD. I am scared because ADHD makes me forgetful, flighty, and self-conscious. My ADHD makes it hard for me to practice active listening. My ADHD makes it hard for me to keep records in order and make smart financial decisions. They say that people with ADHD are more likely to be entrepreneurs, but from where I standing it feels like more of a hindrance than a superpower.
I’m scared because I’m human and because starting a new career and opening a business for the first time is a big deal. It could be a game-changer. I think, more than anything, I’m scared it won’t change the game and I’ll be stuck in this life forever…
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Love and light. Keep fighting the good fight! 💜💜