The Perfect Perfectionist

Perfectionism is a curse. It gives us this inherent drive to be “practically perfect in every way” because anything else is failure. Why are we given this drive to be perfect? Why are we striving to be the best and never have anything wrong? As Someone with anxiety I can tell you it is worse than you realize.

With anxiety, perfectionism is a way of life. You are a complete control freak who has to know where each thing is placed. You have to know how a person is going to react and brace yourself for when that reaction is false (to you). When that unexpected bill comes or an accident happens, you world cracks so that you are unable to recover. You have to be perfect.

This perfectionism is a binding that makes it almost impossible to enjoy life. You wait for those brief, beautiful perfect moments that shine like diamonds, and accept that finally everything is in its place. However, these moments are far and few in-between and they almost immediately overshadowed by the fact that life is not perfect, things are not OK 100% of the time and you are still living in the real world. Forcing yourself to accept this is a monumental task.

Anxiety makes you question everything. You look around and think about every single reaction of people and things because you have to keep this world, your world, in check so it doesn’t overwhelm you. You fight day in and day out trying to maintain control. You cannot win and eventually, you will fail. Once this thought of failure sets in, you now enter a depressive state. You are now overcome with the thoughts of not being good enough, smart enough, clever enough for this world. You never realize that it is all a part of life.

When you have anxiety, and it is part of your life, you have a handicap that doesn’t seem like a handicap. You are to your job “attentive”, “detail oriented”, and a “great multitasker”. To your friends and loved ones you are “always thoughtful”, “caring about others”, “helpful” and “remember the little things”. However, to ourselves we are just a small step away from breaking down due to the plates we have spinning, and if we miss one and it crashes, the rest seem all the more likely to fall.

Anxiety is the fuel source for perfectionism. And like all fuel, eventually it will run out. Anxiety burnout happens to any with anxiety. Remember to forgive yourself, be patient with others, and look for the signs of being a perfectionist that could be effecting you and those around you.

As always, #hugaplushie my friends

The Dangers of Easy & Cheap Self-care.

I have come across an article that talks about self care that is cheap and easy. In the article, Clean your room, go for a walk, breathe. Self-care is cheap and easy. it shows how a little bit of self care can go a long way to improve your mood and well-being. It reads as a, get in touch with yourself, ground yourself in the moment and get in line with your feelings. Look at nature and take a walk. Savor the moments. Eat a good meal. Exercise. So light and breezy anyone can do it.

I heartily disagree.

The author talks about self-care and the things she picked up on during a rough patch. She talked about small mental exercises. I want to look at these points separately.

Cleaning your house is not self-care. That is being an adult. Maintaining your living space and washing your body are not self-care for a normal person. When you have someone who has a chronic illness, especially when you have dizzy spells or energy issues, then bathing would be a form of self-care because it would a task that requires a lot of effort. The author feels like she is trying to convince herself and the article seems to shift topics often. Real self-care, to quote a friend of mine with Lyme Disease, is:

Self-care for me is saving my money so that I can spend $250 on one hour of Skype with a natural doctor in Canada so that I could help my body recover from Lyme disease and lupus.
Self care for me is spending $100 a month to have someone come in and clean my bathrooms because I literally cannot physically clean my own bathrooms.
Self-care for me is actually going out and working that part-time job in that dress boutique so that I can be happier by encouraging other women to feel good. And in turn, I make a little bit of money so that I can save up to see the doctor and to have my bathrooms cleaned.
Self care for me is also the hard part of asking people to help me do things, because I can’t do them alone by myself. Or because I get overwhelmed in trying to do them by myself.

I believe that when you perpetuate the notion of self-care in a flippant, valley girl almost, way of “its so easy!” it hurts those who cannot do those basic things. I understand that this article is not directed to the people who suffer chronic/mental health issues, but it is dangerous to paint everyone with a broad brush. Making a stereotype of self-care is cheap and easy results in either people who these efforts don’t work and it becomes a bigger issue, or, if you just “did these 5 easy steps” you would have a better life. What happens when these steps fail and the judgment comes? I fear that path.

As to the second part of changing mental habits, I agree with the Psychologist in the article that when we don’t have good habits that they are replaced with bad ones. It is very easy to fall into bad habits with chronic illness. Trying to feel mentally positive when you are fighting each day to do basic things is difficult to an extreme. These changes can improve your outlook but do not changes the facts of what your body is going through.
This can also lead to a sense of looking healthy on the outside (“You are so positive and happy on the outside, you must be better”) but still be going through an immensely difficult time on the inside. People become less inclined to believe that you are actually sick. You are trying so hard to put on a face and not be the person that no one wants to be around due to your illness that it turns into a real issue when symptoms manifest themselves in a terrible way. This results in “I thought you were getting better?” or “You must be exaggerating/faking.”
I feel the dangers are real when self-care is perpetuated in such a simple fashion. Can small changes in outlooks help relieve some stress? Yes. Can everyone do such actions. No, they cannot. It is not cheap and easy to do self-care.
#hugaplushie my friends
-Dedicated to R.A.

Killing with Kindness

In recent news, there was a story that came out that I was drawn to read. It was a story about Former President Bush and Ellen DeGeneres. They were both seen sitting next to each other at a Dallas Cowboy football game. They were seen laughing and talking.

Scandalous.

The news and social media picked up on the story about how this unlikely pair could be seen in a social situation and further seen to be enjoying each other’s company. It drew so much attention that Ellen herself did a segment on her show about it. She calmly and rationally explained how she made it to the game and furthermore talked about how nice her seatmates were.

She was then condemned for speaking positively about another human.

There came an outpouring of hate for the former president and for Ellen herself. In an attempt to be kind, she was told that her being kind was wrong. She was called out and told she should not even be kind to another person because of who they are and what they have done.

Have we reached a place in society that we cannot be nice to people? I have tried hard myself not to hate or spread hate on anyone. I have gone out of my way to show kindness regardless of who was on the receiving end of said kindness. How are we supposed to make a change in people if we ourselves do not make a change? Are we a society so filled with hate, we are now barred and called out for speaking nicely about someone. How else are we supposed to change the dialogue in today’s culture and make real differences?

It makes me sad to see someone get called out for being kind. It breaks my heart to think we are now in a world that it is OK to hate someone that is guilty of being kind. I, for one, will be doing what I can to continue to be kind and when people call me out, I will be kind to them as well.

Killing with Kindness, it is the difference I can make.

#hugapony my friends

Sleep for the Sleepless

Sleeping shouldn’t be hard. In this age of bed technology and scented oils, sleep should come easier and be more restful than ever. Seeing commercials from C-PAP machines to sleep aids to pure cotton, hand spun bed sheets, we are constantly being shown how much we should be getting rest and sleeping. With someone with a chronic illness, it is completely different.

As someone who struggles with getting rest at night, it can be difficult to describe how hard it is to sleep well. I like to compare it to someone who went to the beach for a day, stayed in the sun, played in the water and sand, stayed up late drinking a bit but than being woken up at 7 am with only a few hours of sleep, none of it restful and having to work a normal day tired, worn thin, and in a fog of almost being hungover. Now add in the aches and pains of swimming and playing too hard, and the medicine you are taking isn’t working but making you feel sick to your stomach. You go back and forth with hot flashes and cold shivers like you have menopause and a sunburn all in one. Then at the end of the day, after you managed to get as much done as you feel well enough to do, you drag yourself to that luscious bed that should feel like a cloud that came down from heaven and you lay down to sleep the sleep of the dead.

Except it doesn’t help.

Instead you wake up the next day even worse. It feels like when you have the flu and the aches and pains of having that illness still lingers and holds you down. You tossed and turned trying to sleep but you are still having hot flashes like a rushed fever only to throw off the blanket and realize its ice cold in the room. You experience this every single day. For a week. For a month. For a year. Maybe the rest of your life. No rest, or break. The most you feel is on your best days, you almost feel like you haven’t been run over by a car. You only got grazed and you have a few bumps and bruises instead. That is the best you can hope for in your life now.

I was speaking to a dear friend of mine this week and we were talking about rest. She said, “…some of the health people I have been following have said that we need to stop pushing through and just rest but when you have needs and you have people depending on you you don’t have that luxury. So it’s harder to heal.” My only response was, ” I think that people do not realize the luxury it is to do things, anything. And resting doesn’t help when you never get rest. It’s the same advise of “you’re depressed? Just stop being depressed and doing something happy.” Her gentle response back was “You understand.”

Telling someone with a chronic illness to take it easy or to just to take an extra break won’t help that person. Just taking a sick day to “get better” won’t change our lifestyle. People fail to see the chronic part of a chronic illness. We don’t just get rest. We can’t just get better.

We can’t just sleep.

#hugaplushie my friends.

Gathering happiness

A HUGE shoutout to two of my Patreons for helping support me, Charles and Ed! Thank you for supporting me and making this possible! You two are truly amazing people! If you had not checked it out, Check out my Patreon page for early blog posts and more!  Patreon-My Stuffed Little Therapy

I had a recent social media post that was quite touching. I has been a rough time with pain lately and I was needing a boost. I posted a simple question.31281389_10215970592927716_4009656226335121420_n.jpg

This sparked a wonderfully long post with friends and family commenting from all over. I was flooded with memories from childhood, college, present day, all warm fuzzy feelings.

It was fantastic.

As some who has suffered from depression in the past and who continues to struggle with anxiety even now, it was an amazing feeling. The self worth went through the roof. Seeing people post, some I had not talked to in years, was amazing. The love and care that was shared was immeasurable. This got me thinking of what this could do for people who are struggling? I know I pull up the post and have read it a few times since. Seeing the kind, wonderful words brings back the same self-worth growth and warms me inside.

I have seen a lot of suicides in the news lately. A lot of people who are depressed and decide that ending the pain and personal suffering is the best choice. Having been at that end twice now, I know what runs through someones mind. You don’t look upon yourself as a person. You are a burden. You don’t see what other actually think about you. You see a drag on all your friends and family. Your brain tells you that you are not and will not be good enough for anyone.

We need to break that cycle of self doubt.

I challenge you to post this to your social media. Make the post and see what happens. Save the answers you get. Use it as another weapon to fight back the hard times. See what others took the time out of their day to say to you. Smile in the memories shared but not only you but others. Have a written document were people see the value in you. Have yet another tool, like stuffed therapy, to fight back. Even if it is against your own mind.

I will do my best to comment my memory as well.

#hugapony everyone.

Ikkikon 2017.

I will be at Ikkicon 2017 and I will be doing a panel on invisible disability on Saturday Dec 31st at 6 pm to 7 pm. Come join me as we talk about living with invisible disabilities and share in a safe space our experiences and ways to help each other. I will have a special prize for the first two people who come up to me in the panel and say “clumsy draconequus” will get a small prize!(Kudos for those who get the reference).

I cant wait to see you all!

Come out and hug a pony with me!

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PS – Picture from http://tygerbug.deviantart.com/art/Hug-Life-Shirt-319992930

Happy Holidays

Winter has come and brought its dark skies and cold nights to us. In this time of joyous celebration and hot cocoa, Let us all take some time to pay attention to those around us who may need some help. From single mothers and divorced dads, to those who illness is worsened by the cold, to the quite children who don’t get swept up in all the bright festivities. Someone will be in your life that will need a little encouragement.

It amazes me that so many people can go through life and not realize what or who is around us. I watch as people ignore anything that does not pertain to them. Working retail makes this abundantly evident as people respond to your greetings with abrupt dismissal. We become so focused on what are doing, who do we need presents  for, how am I going to make all the parties that we tend to not see those of us who need help around us. In this spirit of giving and merry making, we miss those who are not able to enjoy the holidays.

I encourage all of us to go forth and find someone to help this holiday. It could be the single mother with 3 kids who just needs a night off. It could be the recently divorced dad who isn’t going to be able to spend time with his kids for the first time. It could be the person with the illness who cant make it to that party they always used to enjoy. Chances are I have described someone you know. You are thinking of them right now.

Act on that.

Stop doing things.

Start on being this holiday.

#hugapony

PS I have not had much time to write and for that I apologize. I have my next few posts planned to carry me into the new year. Thank you all who read this blog. As a reward, a small comic i found that speaks to me in so many ways.

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The weekend in review.

It was a long weekend. It started on Friday with my van and the water pump exploding inside of it. Being that this  our only vehicle we were kind of in a bind because we were not going to be able to make it to work on Monday. This was also our only access to most of the outside world. Now while I am an introvert and I would be content to stay at home, this did not mean that I would be permanently founded in the apartment. 

Things were not looking up. 

I then received a message that my mother was in the hospital. She has had issues with migraines and we had not been able to get a cause of why. Of course, with the added stress of the rest of life, I did not take the news very well. So I did what I do best.

I stopped and prayed for a miracle.

I did not get one.

I got many.

My wife and I went to a local dealership to look at vehicles. We have been rebuilding credit due to a bankruptcy and I knew it was going to be a painful process. I had gone online and found a decent car for the money. When we arrived, the salesman and the car was waiting for us. We were the rushed into the test drive. The car was small, very small back seat so not good with a baby on the way, and was beyond basic. While, we really needed more, we did not have a lot of options. Upon arrival we told the salesman that we would have to think about it. He brought in the manager to close the deal. He came in ready to pander and please and my loving wife put a stop to it. The manager completely rubbed us the wrong way and was not what we needed at the time. We left soon after with a very bad taste in our mouths. 

It was after this that I received the message that mom was in the hospital. Not much information to go on but needless to say, it was a terrible time for everyone. I prayed.

My dear brother in law stepped in and saved us. He and his wife are some of the kindness people I know. They knew our situation and stepped in and called to say they wanted to help. This opened so many avenues for us. I was close to tears. Hope was not dead.

The next day we had been prepared to go look elsewhere when a dear friend suggested we go back to the same dealership, talk to a very specific salesman and only work through him. I was reluctant but I decided we would. 

Upon arrival we asked to see this particular individual and he created warmly. He asked what we needed and we told him flat out our needs with kids and one on the way. He was the only person to congratulate us on that fact the entire time. There was an instant liking. We also told him of our displeasure from the day before and he agreed that it was not right. He then lead us to a path on a much better car that had been a loaner but was still considered new. It had so many fancy features and a back seat that could hold 3 grown adults comfortably. Just upon seeing the car, my wife and I were filled with hope. This was the perfect car.

The next two days were filled with better news. My mother came home and was feeling much better. We got an idea of what was going on with her. Knowledge is power and this help tremendously. 

Miracles happen.

We went in finally on Monday and got the final paperwork ready for the car. We had one last barrage of last minute add-ons that the car that we were being pushed to buy. My darling wife batted the numbers aside and in the end we ended up getting all the add-ons with no extra cost. 

We now have a car. A new car. Something I have never had. It was the first time in many years that I did not have the fear of if the car would start. I had a vehicle that did not have a warning light on the dash for the first time in 5 years or more. Relief flooded over me and mine. 

I cannot thank enough my friend that convinced us to go back and also let us borrow a car to do so.

I cannot thank my brother in-law and his wife enough for help us out in a time of need. 

I cannot thank a competent salesman who took the time to listen and care.

I cannot thank the doctors who helped my mom enough.

I cannot thank my wife for being strong and standing by my side.

I cannot thank my God enough for providing it all.

I am beyond blessed.

I still have hardships and trouble that I deal with daily. In the month of Thanksgiving, however, I recognize the need for praise and thankfulness. I am truely blessed.

What are you thankful for?

#huga pony my friends

I am worthy.

I love my wife. She is one of the most honest, blunted person I know. She will tell you how it is if you ask for it. She lets you make mistakes but will help you if and when you ask for it. It was one of the reasons I married her.

She told me my biggest issue is my lack of self worth.

I argued back about confident people and how they can appear to be stuck up in a lot of cases and how I didn’t ever want to be like that. She told I had no worry about that, but that is not what she had said. She said I lacked the belief in the worth I had as a person. I agreed and tried to make a joke but she brought me back over and over again. 

You need to work on your self worth. 

Now, in my mind, telling myself I am worth something over and over seems cliché. Watching videos of football players pump themselves up and motivational speakers also came to mind. I knew what my response was.

Anxiety can have the fear of never being good enough. You can try and try but it’s never enough. However much you stack your worth it is never high enough.

Depression is a hole, in which you can never fill the feeling of being good at all. It makes you stay in bed and never leave because of the emptiness inside. 

The two are circular and when you have both they make it almost impossible to break. I told her all of this and her response was simple.

Have you even tried lately?

I took stock in the thought patterns I had had in the past few months. I looked at my good weeks (were they actually good) and the bad (more of these than I would want). Had I given up? 

Yes. 

I made a decision. I would spend the upcoming months working on my self worth. I would document my progress on here and the methods I used. I would share how my wife and friends would help me along the way. I will use this soapbox of a blog of mine to help more people. 

Who knows. Maybe it will turn into a book.

#hugapony my friends.