Finding a Good Therapist

Finding a therapist is pretty straightforward, for example you can use a site like:

Find a Therapist, Psychologist, Counselor – Psychology Today

Or follow instructions on who to call like these:

Finding a Mental Health Professional | NAMI

The harder part is figuring out if the therapist is actually helping you.

I only recently learned that they should be giving you homework – like something to practice or a question to think about.

You should feel safe and comfortable with them.
If you don’t feel that way with any person, then you might consider finding someone you’re willing to explore and address that with despite how you initially feel. You could also try a group setting where you can listen and learn or watch videos or read books to get started on healing.

Even there you should get actionable items to work on. For example, all the various 12 step groups have you work the steps of the program. This video mentions starting with breathwork which there a lots of different videos you can look through to find one that works for you. I try to do box breathing daily, especially while driving or other tasks like that. Books like Parenting From the Inside Out by Dan Siegel also give end of chapter activities to try.

If you’re just paying someone to listen to you vent, they aren’t doing a good job. They should listen to you vent sure, but then they should be asking good questions. How or why did you end up in that situation? What do you wish you had done and what stopped you? What do you want to do in future situations like that, and what do you need to be able to do that?

I once had a therapist cancel me as a client because “It seemed I had nothing to work on and was just venting which I should do with friends.” – I went along with it, but many years later I realized that the therapist didn’t ask if I HAD friends I felt I could talk about this stuff with or WHY I wasn’t talking about it with my friends. I knew I needed help, I just didn’t know what I needed and didn’t realize that my therapist wasn’t skilled at figuring it out either.

Another therapist I fired after realizing I was only ever venting about one topic again but not being given any actionable feedback on how to change my own behavior to affect that relationship and the venting was just bringing me down.

One I had to stop seeing because driving there after work ended up being so tiring I couldn’t think or talk about anything else by the time I got there. Thank goodness for all the remote options we have now!

Conversations

My initial thought was that there were mainly two types of conversation. One where the person just wants to be heard and the other where there is a further purpose, like problem solving or asking for help. I think most of these ones listed below fall into the second category where there is a purpose beyond needing to express yourself and be heard.

Reference:

In The Patterns of Effective ConversationDave Pollard lists ten generic purposes of conversation.

The list below is an adaptation of his list, in which I have modified or expanded some of the descriptions and added additional items:

Real conversation serves one or more of the following purposes:

  1. Information: to obtain, surface, or convey information or understanding of facts (know-what), processes (know-how), or contacts (know-who). To learn from each other.
  2. Sense-making: to make sense of something (beyond just obtaining facts), especially a complex issue.
  3. Perspectives or viewpoints: to obtain different points of view or gain consensus
  4. Change: to challenge and shift someone’s viewpoint or intentions (mine or others’)
  5. Ideas: to generate ideas, surface and imagine possibilities
  6. Collaboration: to enable the effective production of some shared work-product
  7. Deepening or creation of relationships: to connect with other people, to build relationships
  8. Entertainment or fun: to have fun, banter, gossip, flirt
  9. Recognition, attention, or reputation: to obtain it or offer it
  10. Appreciation, empathy, or reassurance: to get it or offer it
  11. Decision making: to make decisions
  12. Problem-solving: to solve problems or figure out how best to respond to them
  13. Reveal problems: to reveal hidden issues or unintended consequences of our actions
  14. Search for opportunities: to search for opportunities.
The purposes of conversation | Conversational Leadership (conversational-leadership.net)

Greetings Scripts

This started with a Bored Panda post.

How are you?

  • Acceptable.
  • Satisfactory.
  • Good for certain definitions of good.
  • Functioning.
  • Functional.
  • Upright and active.
  • Could be worse.
  • Still processing.
  • I’ll let you know later.
  • I don’t know, haven’t had my caffeine/coffee/tea/etc. yet.
  • Too tired to talk.
  • Still asleep.
  • I’m not all here yet.
  • I’m sleepwalking.
  • Do you want the standard answer or the real answer?
  • Do you really want to know?
  • Imagine I used the socially acceptable response of your choice.
  • Still on this side of the dirt.
  • Vertical and ventilating.
  • Alive and breathing.
  • Still surviving.
  • You don’t want to know.
  • Hanging in.
  • Hanging on.
  • Dressed and vertical.
  • Upright and taking in nutrition.
  • Up and not crying.

Followed by:

  • How are you?
  • And you?
  • Hope you’re doing well?
  • Thanks for asking.
  • I need to go.
  • Please excuse me.
  • Nice to see you, I must be off.

The classic exchange goes along the lines of:

  • Person A: How are you?
  • Person B: I’m good thanks, how are you?
  • Person A: I’m good too thanks.

Then either move into more conversation or move along.

  • Person A or B: Since you’re here, I’ve been meaning to talk about…
  • Person A or B: It was nice to see you, I have to get going.

The initial exchange gives both parties a chance to feel out the other person to see if they are in a good place physically/mentally to talk or a way to signal that the relationship is valued even though they are not able to talk/connect at the time.

If we were computers it would be the handshake protocol before transferring data packets.

The purpose of asking “how are you” is context based.

  • Public/community/work/school
    • confirms/reinforces social constructs
    • allows signaling of status (regulated/dysregulated) prior to further interaction
  • therapist/doctor
    • request for information
  • friends/family
    • can be either depending on the situation – one on one vs. group interactions, close groups vs casual groups
    • confirms/reinforces social constructs
    • allows signaling of status (regulated/dysregulated) prior to interaction
    • request for information
    • offer of support

Time Blindness

What Time Blindness is: Could You Be Time Blind? | Psychology Today

Ways that human society have changed that have removed the nature supports for people who are time blind:

  • Developing electricity so that we’re no longer bound by the sun or lighting methods that visibly mark time by the consumption of fuel – like fires, candles and oil lamps.
  • The development of suburbs so that not everyone lives within hearing distance of the bells on a clock tower to mark the hour both day and night.
  • The development of digital and silent analog clocks so there is no longer an auditory cue of time passing.

It’s only in very recent human history that we’ve removed the supports that someone with time blindness used to be able to rely on. I’m not surprised that we’ve only recently figured out that some people are time blind. Honestly, I’m surprised that it isn’t the majority of people, but it’s likely tied into our circadian rhythms and we didn’t “invent” time, but rather invented a way to track and coordinate it.

ADHD Scheduling & Time Sense

Hydration

Figure out if your sense of thirst works (part of interoception). If you can go hours without getting thirsty, it might not be working so well.

If your “thirsty don’t work” then building in a hydration habit is important to avoid dehydration.

Ted Ed: What would happen if you didn’t drink water? – Mia Nacamulli – YouTube

Habits: https://youtu.be/PZ7lDrwYdZc 
Effective practice: https://youtu.be/f2O6mQkFiiw

Water | Bunny’s Info-Dump (sweetpeastudio.biz)

Water Calculator: Water Intake Calculator – How much water should you drink per day? (gigacalculator.com)

Link Tracking – Pain Treatment

I’m working on reconnecting with my body so that I can manage my pain appropriately and do my physical therapy exercises.

Post Covid Update

I haven’t updated in a while, mostly because I’ve been focusing on taking care of myself and accepting help.

I’ve been doing EMDR and it’s been helping me reframe my memories. At first I was doing it to recover from the trauma of being hospitalized for bipolar disorder. We’ve started working on my childhood trauma since then. This morning I was thinking about how Penelope said that the biggest impact for kids was when their moms got more support. This has been true for us because I’m able to be more regulated and present for my child, which I’ve written about before is their primary need.

One of the things that has come out of my bipolar diagnosis is being forced to focus on taking better care of myself and asking for or accepting help. I’ve been learning that ignoring my needs, such as disassociating from my pain, is one of my maladaptive strategies I’ve brought from my childhood.

One of the first stories I reframed with EMDR was about my elementary school worms.

The school I went to had one of those red dirt tracks out in the field. Whenever it rain the track would be covered in worms. During PE if it wasn’t raining, we would be told to run the track. It took me forever because I was avoiding stepping on the worms. Eventually I’d get in trouble for being squeamish. I was the only one reacting that way, so I was the wimpy freak. Re-examining it I realized that I was the only one sensitive and caring enough to want to avoid killing the worms by stepping on them. And instead of my kindness being honored it was dismissed.

I didn’t find out about the trait of high sensitivity until my late 20s or early 30s, so while I was able to do some reframing on my own, I didn’t realize how many formative memories I had with negative interpretations. And it was only recently working with my chiropractor that I realized how disassociated I was from my body and its pain signals.

I wouldn’t say I feel lucky to have bipolar, but I do feel lucky to have such a large caring network of friends and family to support me while I rewire my brain.

Power over Pain

I’m recovering from the hour drive to and from the Stanford Pain Clinic but I am hopeful as they have Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists and options for trigger point injections and emergency pain meds. I’m hopeful that after the PT/OT evaluations they’ll be able to refer me to someone more local that can help with the Muldowney Protocol.

Ehlers Danlos & Neurodiversity Research

I’m so excited, a friend of a friend just shared all this:

Dr. Eccles specific research areas are Neuroscience, Psychiatric and neurodevelopmental features of connective tissue disorders, Mechanisms of chronic pain and fatigue.

The quickest way to see a summary of all her 67 published medical research with active links to each is here: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jessica-Eccles-3

Some titles of pubs just within the last 2 years:

  • Towards a Neurodiversity-Affirmative Approach for an Over-Represented and Under-Recognised Population: Autistic Adults in Outpatient Psychiatry
  • Joint Hypermobility Links Neurodivergence to Dysautonomia and Pain
  • Variant connective tissue (joint hypermobility) and dysautonomia are associated with multimorbidity at the intersection between physical and psychological health
  • Connecting brain and body: Transdiagnostic relevance of connective tissue variants to neuropsychiatric symptom expression

You Tube Videos:

CalFresh

Info Dump mess – I want to come back and split this out to three different things:

  • CalFresh help since clearly there is a bunch of stuff available I found this time that I didn’t last time
  • Yelling at people who need it (I love Penelope Trunk, she yells at the world with her blog and you can pay her for coaching if you want her to yell at you privately, or take her classes if you want her to yell at others while you quietly think about how you needed to hear that – if you have a trauma background, you either are still avoiding being yelled at (read her blog so you can pretend she’s yelling at other people until you can’t resist commenting or taking a class or coaching session), you need to be yelled at but still hate it, or you recognize how helpful it is an love it.

    Oh, Penelope, that’s why we love you even if you think we hate being yelled at.
  • whatever other journal junk I need to clean out of this for those two

Stub

It took three tries requesting a call back on CalWin.

The most important thing I’ve learned recently is to say this:

I’m autistic and I KNOW my questions seem really stupid. I just need your help please.

I couldn’t say that without crying because it sucks to know how smart I CAN be and how stupid I WAS being because I couldn’t function at the moment they called and I knew I HAD to take the call.

I had to pull out a calculator and a blank document on my computer and do the math before they could answer my questions and then I cried again in relief that the solution was so easy.

The math:

If you are disabled and only get SSDI (see note below about cash help)

Then:

SSDI Amount
– Rent (LEASE amount)
– Utility exception of $500+
= Your income

If your income is 0 or negative, then you qualify for the maximum CalFresh benefit.

I had to ask the person three times and say that I was sending cash monthly and had a document in writing to the rental company promising to send the cash amount monthly before I believed them:

IF YOUR FAMILY IS GIVING YOU MONEY and you don’t live with them – THAT IS NOT UNEARNED INCOME.

Your rent is what your LEASE says the person ON THE LEASE owes, not how much of it you pay AFTER any help you receive. Yes, tell them about the help if you are doing the phone interview – so they can reassure you it doesn’t matter.

NO – DO NOT DO ANY MATH for them.

YOU DON’T KNOW THE EQUATIONS.

Or you got someone that sucked at asking questions. More likely, if you’re autistic, have an autistic relative, or think you’re smarter than the person you’re talking to – either you’re not or you’re a jerk.

Being stupid, admitting it and then thanking the person afterwards is better than being a jerk.

I thanked the person very specifically and heard a laugh of pleased surprise.

I know what that laugh sounds like, because I’ve heard it and I’ve made it enough times.

I said something along the lines that I recognized that the job sucked and didn’t pay enough and that they were doing it anyway to help people and to please keep doing it until they found a better way to help people.

Anxiety will lie to you that you can’t trust anyone. If you grew up with trauma, then you will have anxiety because that’s how you survived the trauma of your childhood.

The way you recover is that you figure out that humans are all trying the best they can to survive, and if they have anything left, then they start to thrive.

The way you thrive is to connect. And to connect you find people you want to listen to, or who want to listen to you.

You only need one mutual friend. You can be a friend to someone who needs you as a friend, and you can have friends that you need that don’t need you back. There are so many kinds of friends.

If you journal privately, you’re managing your anxiety.

If you write publicly, then you are sharing your truth just in case it helps ONE other person. So the things you’ve learned and experienced can help someone else the way you wish you had been helped.

Authors are telling the stories they need to tell. Popular authors are telling stories that many people wanted or needed to hear.

The internet has made it so we can tell our stories so many different ways so that any human can find the story they need.

I found the story of the worst of humanity and that I can see and understand the worst thing a human can do and forgive it – because that is how much they suffered and are suffering.

I understand why Nonviolent Communication is the name that author chose. And I understand why people call it NVC because they want to help people who need to learn to communicate, but are too far from pain and trauma to understand it, or too close to tolerate it.

I’m so glad that people exist that can’t even imagine existence being so painful that you don’t want to exist anymore. I was shocked to learn that my father-in-law is one of those people.

Either you understand suicidal ideation, or you don’t.

I don’t know if my husband does. I know I do and I feel sorrow because I think my child does too. I do know my father in law doesn’t. He was so confused when I asked him if he had ever WANTED to die. Like, couldn’t even imagine understanding why any human would want that level of confused.

These people are working for crap pay dealing with us at our worst because they either want to or are willing to help. If you think you’re smart, then recognize that they are the experts here and you need to trust them

You’re not being honest or helpful by “doing the math” for them, you’re giving them the wrong numbers.

Don’t bother trying to call and wait – they have a 500+ backlog as of today and every time I tried to call and wait I was 40+ in the queue and never got to a human before the call dropped after 2+ hours on hold.

Go on CalWin, request a call back on Monday, if you don’t get one or miss the call, request it again the following Monday.

Right now the state has been sending emergency aid and you might have more on your EBT card than you realize, just go try to use it or:

CalFresh EBT Balance and Login – California Food Stamps Help (icaliforniafoodstamps.com)

If you can’t find your card – report it as lost: EBT Card

People are trying to help. And the more ways we try to help, the more people we will help.

When I was functioning, I didn’t find this site, but I did look all this up on my own, so I knew my family member qualified for the maximum and was getting only 1/10th of that amount.

We got a person at some point, and they pointed us at the form to fill out and upload on CalWin so that I can talk on behalf of my family member without them having to be present to give permission each time. You can give any adult you trust permission to apply for you.