I like it
I like it
A Story of a Mental Health Therapist
I was born the 2nd of 3 children in a family of 5. I am the 2nd girl, born 23 months after my older sister.
My brother came along 3 ½ years later.
Some of my earliest memories involve arguing with family members, particularly my sister.
‘She’s going to be a girl, and her name should be Crystal’ I said, smiling and doing a little twirl.
I love to dance, like to get my way and tend to smile as a first attempt.
As for the name Crystal: I liked that name, and I wanted someone to boss around just like my older
sister bossed me.
Or maybe I wanted to lead them, differently, as leading is something I really like to do in
almost any circumstance.
I can remember standing in argument with her; she who had a great grasp of vocabulary from a young age
and is just about as strong willed as I am, if not more.
‘No. I told you.
We already have 2 girls. We need a brother. And his name isn’t going to be Crystal, that’s a girl’s name.’
Little did we know, his name would be Michael. That is my dad’s name, and my mom’s favorite name. It was
also a very common name during the early 70’s.
As I got older and wished I had a more feminine name, I learned that all three of us would have been named
Michael, with different middle names.
A few years ago, someone told me I was one of the ‘lucky’ ones who had a name without gender (I go by
Let me tell you, that has historically NOT been my feeling about having a name can be both masculine
and feminine. I can remember searching for trinkets with the name ‘Terri’ on them. I could sometimes find
‘Terry’, which is the masculine version and not how I spell my name.
It was a pretty special occasion when my mom or I located one with my name and spelled correctly.
I came out a little oppositional. My due date was in late August, and I was born in mid-September.
Opposition means going against. There’s an author (Gretchen Rubin) whom I follow who describes four personality types, and one of
them is coined ‘rebel’.
To be oppositional, or rebellious, or saying ‘no’ just because someone told you to do something, are all very
similar words for a similar behavior tendency.
It is not just saying no because someone said yes. It is more than just disagreeing with a proposed plan. It is
saying the sky is purple because someone else said it was blue, but also with a little ‘kick’ to it.
A little sass, a
little emphasis, a little more rebelliousness.
I am a second born child, second girl before the boy. I have high energy, love to move, and have a brain that
works a little differently. My brain makes quick connections, and has a lot of working memory, and I put a high value on communicating verbally and visually.
I am strong willed, nurtured in a family of origin with and by other strong-willed people.
I have grown up watching my parents direct and lead, as my dad taught middle and high school band students within my school system.
Since moving to Texas in 2019, I now call a school corporation an ISD, meaning ‘Independent School District’. In Indiana, where I grew up, we call that ‘school corporation’.
My mom taught choir and music in a neighboring school corporation and county. My parents grew up in urban Indianapolis, living not too far away from each other. They met when they were both attending Butler University, in Indianapolis where they were both participating in Marching Band.
Prior to that, my dad attended and graduated from a private high school named Cathedral. My mom attended the local public school system, Arsenal Technical High School.
Moving to Tipton, Indiana, was a stressor for my parents. They had grown up in an urban environment and were not used to how things worked in a more rural, farm community. My dad taught in Noblesville, Indiana for 3 years, while my mom taught at Sheridan, prior to determining that life would be a little simpler if at least one of them worked where they lived.
A hesitation my mom felt was that it would mean that my grandma was a long-distance phone call away, as opposed to a being local call.
My grandma was my mom’s emotional support. They talked frequently, and having to pay to talk with her was something my mom was hesitant to do.
The car ride to my grandma’s house, still on the near-east side of Indianapolis, was a full hour from Tipton, as opposed to the 30 minutes they had grown accustomed to.
For around 2 years (when I was ages 3-5), my dad taught at Tipton Schools and my mom taught at Sheridan part-time, while we lived in the neighboring community of Noblesville.
Both of my parents drove around 30 minutes to work, and neither of them worked for Noblesville School Corporation, the district where we lived.
My sister spent her first two years attending Noblesville schools, and then it was going to be time for me to begin Kindergarten.
I was enrolled at an elementary in Noblesville. I had been DYING to attend organized socialization, so it didn’t matter to me where I attended school.
I hung out with friends in the ‘smooth alley’ that was just down from our house, but many of those friends were older or younger than me. I had not attended pre-school, and our childcare was in our home with an in-person provider.
I just wanted to be around friends who would be my age. I was also enrolled at Tipton Schools, at Jefferson Elementary.
My parents put our house up for sale and determined that my sister and I would start school where we were living when the school year started.
As fate would have it, our house sold in July, 1976.
We moved our things to our new home in Tipton with the smooth sidewalks for roller skating, where we would have a short walk to school. In addition to the events of moving school districts and homes, or possibly in the midst of moving, there was a local, tragic death of a middle school student who was watching his sister. He touched an electrical wire and did not survive.
Some of my first memories of living in Tipton involve the events surrounding that funeral, as the 8th grader was the son of one of my parents’ friends, and my mom helped to care for the children during the funeral. They also had a child who was preparing at that time to begin Kindergarten, and we are friends to this day.
We had moved to a relatively quiet street in Tipton, where people were discouraged from driving down it by the stop signs that occurred at every single intersection.
Our comment of ‘Look! We can cross the street without even looking here!’ was not received as well following my friend’s brother’s death, but it was a definite shift from our in-town home in Noblesville, which was very close to the then Boys and Girls Club and had quite a bit more traffic.
Since I have moved to Texas in 2019, I have been particularly interested and fascinated by the number of cultures and ethnicities that occur here in this city, which is the county seat of Collin County.
We have been here 2 years now, with one of them being a full year plus of the pandemic. Being social, but also somewhat introverted at times, I find myself wanting the same things I did when I was 5 and beginning school.
I have noticed in the last few weeks, since vaccines have become more common and people are beginning to come out of their homes and be a little more social, the excitement I felt at 5 of being able to get to know people and establish friendships is the same.
Here, instead of being the person from Tipton who works in Noblesville and surrounding counties; I am an empty nester from Indiana.
I am someone who has been described as ‘without any accent at all’, which I find fairly interesting.
I am friendly, which some people like and appreciate, and some people veer away from due to their own comfort or lack thereof with being social.
I live on a street and community with lots of different cultures and ethnicities.
We are close to multiple businesses that have moved their home offices from California to Texas, and we live in an area that was a field not too terribly long ago.
I’m getting to know neighbors and friends who are from Texas, Columbia, Venezuela, China, India, New York, Tennessee and so much more.
I am able to provide mental health therapy at a time when the stigma is really being reduced. I work primarily with teens, parents, and those with attention, anxiety, or depressive tendencies.
It’s an exciting time to be a part of this field, which I began formally in 1995 when I graduated with my degree in Community Counseling.
I get to hear parents tell me that they are bringing their teen to therapy due to the teen asking for it for multiple years.
I get to meet with adults who have very little background in being in tune with their feelings, and report to feel better from mental health therapy but do not really know why.
I exercised some of my rebelliousness when I chose my university and my career back in the early 90’s.
Indiana University is a large, Big 10 University, and the size made my parents hesitant, as they were comfortable with a small university like Butler, where they and my sister attended and graduated.
I went into the field of mental health, which I would say I’m born to do, and pursued from an early age.
And boy, am I glad I did.
(Late summer, 2021)
I’ve been working on this post for awhile.
First, I began the post a couple of month ago, when vaccines first became available.
The next time I began writing this article, variants of the virus had begun to appear. As of today, I’ve started and stopped a few times with edits.
This pandemic is frustrating.
So, as I once again work to push through and write as I work to track this pandemic and some of the effects it has, I notice a couple more things.
In good frustration fashion, I started and stopped this computer 3-4 times, and the blog is continuing to want to open as if I am viewing it instead of working on it.
Now, as I begin to write, I realize the wordpress.com app has an update so I did that and waited.
(that was a very short time, so I’m able to continue to write)
I participate in trauma recovery daily. I work in trauma as a mental health therapist who listens to stories about trauma.
I am trained and informed to be a trainer in Trauma Informed Care (TIC); and I am trained and practice Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral therapy (TF-CBT).
In March 2021, I completed Lane Peterson’s course and exam for Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) through PESI.
I am also living in, through, and working together with those who are trauma affected by the pandemic we are currently experiencing. This pandemic is fairly traumatic, so I’m using the word frequently.
As the pandemic began to show more effects in March of 2019, the effects we are all experiencing were quite unclear to me.
My grandmother lived through the Flu (frequently referred to as the Spanish Flu) in 1919 and talked to me about it, a little bit, when I was a kid and I would ask her.
‘Grandma??’ I would say, with a question in my voice to show I wanted her to answer and was pretty curious…’
…..’yessss……’, she would say, again, with pleasure in her voice because she talked like that.‘How come you were born in 1910, but graduated in 1929, but you didn’t repeat a year in school?’
That last quesiton was because those of us born in the first year of the decade (ends in ‘0’) tend to remember our birth year and others’; and, like I said, I was pretty darn curious.
She would then answer me with a little bit of laughter in her voice, a little bit of frustration, and would then again be a little bit misleading; her experience with the pandemic in 1919 was really not my busines, nor did I need to know the answer, but eventually she told me.
‘I was ill one year, or actually; I was ill later in the year. The schools closed for the first half of the year, and then I got sick.’
So she missed a year of school, which was true; did not repeat a grade, which was also true. And I, the granddaughter of Eva and a child with lots of curiosity and questions, had my answer.
So, I moved on to different questions, different thoughts, and different experiences as I grew up to be just right about 50 years old.
2020 is also a decade year, or ends in zero. And I, as a 50 year old rising, was busy getting ready for things like creating income as a mental health therapist; my children graduating from college; and preparing to make income during the time that was just prior to COVID at the group practice I am contracted with, Blank Slate Therapy. (March 2020)
So, as we begin to get together into bigger groups, the COVID 19 virus is mutating into a form that is more contagious and possibly less deadly.
For those who have chosen to be vaccinated, the effects appear to be less deadly. There also tend to be some health conditions which makes the COVID experience quite a bit longer lasting, which has been termed ‘long haul COVID’. Those with autoimmune struggles seem to be some of the ones more affected by the virus, as far as we can tell so far.
Many hospitals are filling with people with a diagnosis of COVID. Many of those with hospital admittance are not vaccinated, from research I am informally conducting through health providers I know.
I’m fairly certain that the cold virus has been mutating and changing like this ever since people began to work to create a vaccination for it.
I see larger crowds, as a resident of Texas, a little more often than some people in some other states do.
My son who lives in Wisconsin has had a very different COVID experience than my husband or me, since Wisconsin’s mandates related to the virus have been quite different than ones we experience in Texas.
My son who lives and goes to school in Indianapolis has had a different experience as well. On-line courses were the norm for some of his classes last year, and professors and students in his school continue to adjust and change as they work to provide structure to the courses to provide a safe learning environment. Or at least as safely as they can, while promoting that the students learn.
Indiana is a different experience as well.
The urban county (Marion) has very different rules and structures from the local surrounding counties and farm communities which have their own cultures around how wearing masks, being vaccinated, and responding to the pandemic are addressed and responded to by people who live there.
When I see a crowd of people on television, I am not as surprised as some other people may be. Those who live in an area of fewer people or who have different perceptions about the germs and their feelings about vaccinations have some different reactions to seeing crowds. Someone who lives in a crowded area may not react as strongly as someone who sees very few people.
I haven’t been watching much television for several months due to how often the warning voices of the newscasters get my attention. I prefer an upbeat tone, with optimism in it.
Some National newscasters, or perhaps those who guide and write for them, have determined that if you use a very scary, deadly voice people will listen. I do listen, but the fear that the voice induces in me is not pleasurable
I’m noticing that working to adjust and synching back and forth from COVID is as difficult for some people as synching into it was for others.
I would guess that many of the same people struggle with synching back and forth, which is a sensitivity, and also affected by the pandemic, routine shifts, and change.
Highly Sensitive People, (HSP) and Highly Sensitive Children, coined by Elaine Aron, are more sensitive than others and tend to be more affected by routine changes, as well as smells, fabrics, medications and anything else that can be classified as a sensitivity.
Reading Elaine Aron’s books about ‘Highly Sensitive People‘ and her book about ‘Highly Sensitive Children‘ helps with understanding how sensitivities can affect parenting and ourselves.
I have gmail accounts for different purposes; and this is a complication that can be frustrating to me.
That’s a frustration that I’ve been having at times, but not quite as often as I was, during the quarantining and trauma we’re experiencing during and through this pandemic.
If I log out of my gmail that is logged into one account, I have to take some steps to show gmail that ‘I’m really me’. This causes me to experience an amount of frustration.
The computer that I’m using is particularly impacting my level of frustration, regarding Google Suites and how it affects my MacBook Pro.
We are all living through this pandemic and have had some changes in our experiences in some ways.
As we work to stay healthy, emerge to experience those all important social connections, and continue to work, parent, and exist, there are some important things to remember.
Remember that we do not all have the same values, upbringings, or set of beliefs about health; whether that be mental, physical, or how we act during and post-pandemic.
It’s important to show respect to each other, and to recognize that each of us needs a level of respect as well.
If you ask an introvert who does not enjoy seeing people in person or interacting with others all that much what they have thought of the pandemic, you may get a very different answer than from someone who is quite social and enjoys moving around and changing their scenery.
As always, we remember the value of children and their own experiences which have been affected by the pandemic; what kind of changes that have been and are still being made to their daily lives and patterns; and their own tendencies to want to be around people or to leave their homes for activities.
I hope you, your family, and your loved ones work to recover from the changes we are continuing to experience, and I hope that you stay as healthy as you are able.
I’ve got to admit, Thanksgiving used to be my least favorite holiday. Here are some things I’m not really a fan of:
waiting to eat
As a child, pitch-ins, or food I didn’t know what it was made of. I was (and am, if I’m being honest) a picky eater. If food was brought in by someone else, it was hard to know what foods that I might not like were in it.
Thanksgiving always seemed to be a time of waiting until I was really hungry, or snacking to fend off the hunger, and then not being hungry for the meal.
Then there were lots of foods prepared that I may or may not want, and the pressure to eat them. Later, there was the fact that others had a lack of interest in eating dinner because they had overeaten.
I rarely miss a meal, so that doesn’t really work for me.
Now some might say that a reason I am not a huge fan of turkey may have something to do with the amount of time my grandma cooked it. My grandma was one of the nicest, kindest, most pleasant people I have ever met. She had lots of great skills, and there are many, many things I miss about her.
Cooking a turkey? Well, I’m not going to say that was among her list of greatest talents. So for the first 16 or so years of my life, we spent Thanksgiving at my grandma’s house, with a turkey that had been cooked past its prime.
I’ve come around though.
As a kid, we talked about being thankful, and what we were thankful for. We also talked about the story of the Pilgrims and the Indians (the term Native American would come later) sitting down and eating together, recognizing that working together worked best for them. As I learned more about history, I realized that there is a little more to that story.
As an adult, I find the Thanksgiving holiday a beginning, and a time to rest and reflect.
It’s a time to start thinking about the Christmas season, which has always been a time of celebration in extra ways due to my children’s birthday being Christmas Eve.
It’s a time to have a long weekend, without a ton of traditions and hurry. We have a meal, on Thursday. For many years, we alternated spending Thanksgiving with my side of the family and my husband’s. In the past few years, our traditions have become much more fluid.
My in-laws moved out of state; my Aunt and Uncle, who had hosted Thanksgiving since my teens, both passed in the same year; my brother began hosting; and then we moved to Texas.
Then my boys had the audacity to continue to grow up, graduating from college and moving on to their next things.
This year, Thanksgiving is looking different for a lot of us.
We have a global pandemic, with recommendations to keep our gatherings to a small number of people to help avoid the spread of the virus.
Things that people have done for years and years, to indicate the Thanksgiving holiday, are changing for many of us.
For me, I will spend today with my husband and one of my sons. The three of us will eat some turkey, some pie, and several sides that I’m sure will include quite a few leftovers.
I’m looking forward to trying something new, knowing if it tastes terrible I’ll toss it and eat something else.
Today I’m thankful for the chance to sit quietly and begin the day, waiting for the sun to come up. Watching the sky lighten, I know today will be a fairly nice day. Someday I may take the sunshine and temperate weather that we get here in Texas for granted, but I’m not there yet.
I’m thankful that we have the ability to decide who to be around, and that we are not currently ill. Knowing how many families are missing members for the first time this year, and other families where people are ill or quarantined as they recover, makes me aware of how rough that is and how grateful I am for health.
I’m thankful for the chance to begin the holiday season, knowing that Christmas traditions may also look different for many of us. This Christmas season will include thinking about how to be creative, in order to spend time together in ways that may look and feel different.
I’m still wondering how all of these changes in traditions and work patterns may affect us going forward, when the pandemic does not have such a daily affect in terms of risk to our health, and is more about determining what the middle ground is for changes that we’ve made in the last year.
As you think about your holiday traditions, those that you are keeping and those that you are switching up this year, what things are you grateful for?
What do you think about, as you wake up and prepare for your day? Are you spending it similarly to previous years, or differently?
What about today do you look forward to, and what do you wish were different?
2020 has certainly been a year of changing the status quo.
Remember the song from Sesame Street? (you may want to ask a parent if you are under 40)
“Everyone makes mistakes oh yes, they do…..
Your sister and your brother and your dad and mother too…
matter of fact, ALL People…”
well, you get the idea.
We all have a tendency to make mistakes. What we don’t all have the tendency to do, is to be aware of how to be tolerant of others when they make mistakes. Even more importantly, we have to learn to be tolerant of ourselves when WE make mistakes.
Maybe the song should have gone something like this:
“Please remember this when you type on your social media page
Or yell at your spouse
or your child
I write a lot about leadership and how important it is to foster a trusting relationship. I write about encouraging questions and an environment of learning.
What I haven’t written as much about is how to be OK with our own errors, and to work through those anxious feelings when mistakes happen. For adults with ADHD tendencies, or diagnosed ADHD, those learned behaviors of feeling anxious about behaviors and actions can result in a whole lot of anxiety.
Ever think back on a social event and think ‘why did I say that?? I probably shouldn’t have. I wish I could go back in time and not say it’.
This rumination, or thinking about the same thing over and over again, is a huge part of attention differences. Anxiety co-occurs with ADHD with a really high frequency, and can have a real negative affect on social relationships, sleep, and our own self-talk and self-care.
I’m really fascinated by the ADHD brain.
The ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) brain is different from brains which may be more neurotypical.
ADHD isn’t really about not being able to pay attention.
It is a different wiring of the brain, which can be either over or under-stimulated.
Let’s take an example of someone who has been diagnosed with ADHD.
That person may be able to focus intently on a specific task at times (referred to as hyperfocusing), and struggle to give attention to something they need to focus on at others.
As a parent to a child with those behaviors, it may seem that the child focuses on what they like, or what they want to, but not on what they need to focus on, such as completing chores or schoolwork.
The parent may then experience frustration and express that to their child in a negative way, perhaps by using a loud voice.
The child may then become anxious and worried about forgetting tasks, which creates a cycle of lower success.
Here are a few things that can help a child who has an ADHD brain to have more success:
Provide structure. Have a routine of tasks that need to be completed. The child then has more predictability and may know ‘OK, after dinner I do my homework. After homework I take my bath and get ready for bed’
Another idea is to break tasks into smaller chunks instead of listing everything out at once. A child who hears ‘Take your shoes upstairs, then put these clean clothes away, then I need you to come back down to finish your homework’ may take their clothes upstairs, notice they left out their game from earlier, and begin playing it.
The caregiver may then become upset with the child for not listening, and the child may become more and more anxious as the parent gives them a list of tasks because of their fear of forgetting.
The ADHD brain fires differently, and as with all things, we are still learning about how this works.
I encourage you, as an adult reading this article who may have a brain with ADHD or attention differences, to continue to educate yourself about how your brain may work differently than someone who does not have attention differences.
I encourage you, as a parent who may be reading this who experiences frustration, to give your child structure and provide small chunks of instructions instead of lists of them. To say ‘I need you to go upstairs and do 2 things. Take your shoes up and put your clothes away.’
You have then told the child how many things to do (2), and what those two things are. The child has a better chance of remembering to complete them because they may have focused on the number of things to do, or they may have focused what their tasks are. Having listed both the number of items and the tasks help to increase their chances of completing the requested tasks.
I then encourage you to monitor your child for success. Encourage them to recognize that they did complete a task, and to know you are both seeking and expecting them to have success, and that you are seeking less frustration from both of you.
As you and they continue to make mistakes, as you and they both will, remember the song I referenced at the beginning of this article. In this time of COVID, we’re learning a little more about our own tendencies and our children’s as we spend more time interacting and learning new patterns and habits.
Everyone makes mistakes oh yes they do…..