Introduction

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I am a 29 year old girl from Norway and work as a psychologist. On my free time I love to read, travel and experience new things. I also like taking photos and creative activities like scrapbooking and decoupage. My personality? For those of you who know the BIG 5 personality test, I am high on 20130623-181833.jpgOpenness, Conscientiousness, middle on agreeable and on extroversion/introversion. It basically means that I`m a flexible person, work hard, usually don`t make a fuss and love to be with others, at the same time as I need alone-time. I also want to add that I love the Italian language, my family, Haruki Murakami, good music and my friends. I am VERY emotional, but calm when I have to be. Earlier I had a tendency to put other`s needs first, believing that I wasn`t worthy of any attention myself. Luckily I have grown in heart and mind since then.

This blog is a blend of my personal story (called narrative or the sound of..), psychology and just random things I find interesting.

I work daily as a clinical psychologist, and most of my clients have been abused and neglected in heartbreaking ways. Many of my post will cover subjects related to trauma and dissociation. I am quite open and honest in my posts, because I believe it might make us psychologist less mysterious.

Most of the psychologist I know are kind, intelligent people. Some with their own stories, but all with a genuine need to help those who need it. In this blog I want to share what I know about overcoming challenges and following your dreams.

IMG_0377Since more and more people have started to read this blog, I unfortunately found it necessary to password protect some of my more personal posts. If you want to read them, feel free to contact me at
forfreepsychology@gmail.com.

I am also on twitter (@ninjafighter), instagram and facebook

Also check my other blog and new project (I always have some project where I try to help others) Free psychology and The kindness project. In the last blog I post interviews with different people. I ask them questions about good deeds they have done, and my hope is that their answers will inspire others to do be kind towards others.

I started the blog three years ago, and it has grown so fast I almost can`t believe it. I am really proud of it, and grateful because I have made new friends and found other blogs that I like. I have also invited other guest bloggers to share their stories. They are brilliant writers, so please feel free to dive into the blog.

I am always open to invite more bloggers who want to write, so feel free to contact me at any time if you like to write about topics relevant for the blog.

I want to thank all my readers and offer some encouragement to everyone who suffers or have done so in the past. I have been in the deepest valleys myself, and felt emotional pain so intense that I was afraid of it. I hope this blog might prove that the fight for a better life is truly worth it.

Thank you.
ninaja

May Is Mental Health Awareness Month — Here’s Why Companies Should Care

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May Is Mental Health Awareness Month — Here’s Why Companies Should Care

Most people spend the majority of their waking hours working. During those long hours, the office setting either promotes good mental health or contributes to poor emotional well-being. Despite the large role that office culture plays in employee well-being, most companies rarely – if ever – mention the subject of mental health.

Employers certainly can’t prevent all mental health problems. Genetics and past traumatic experiences are just a couple of the factors that can influence a person’s mental health. But there are steps employers can take to reduce stress and promote resilience.

The Cost of Mental Health Problems to Employers

Nearly 1 in 5 people experienced a diagnosable mental health problem in the last year, and many other people are at risk, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The vast majority of people struggling with issues like depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses suffer in silence.

Employees with untreated mental illness cost employers billions of dollars each year. An estimated 217 million days of work are lost annually due to productivity decline related to mental illness and substance, according to the Center for Prevention and Health Services. Additionally, mental illness and substance use disorders are the fifth leading cause of short-term disability and the third leading cause of long-term disability in the United States.

Fotolia.com

Employees are Stressed Out

2014 survey by Buck Consultants at Xerox found that 84% of employers report believing they have a high responsibility to provide a working environment that promotes mental well-being. The survey found that employee performance is the most important reason organizations want to address work-related stress and poor mental well-being.

Despite employers’ good intentions to promote mental well-being, the survey found that that 53 percent of U.S. respondents rate their stress levels as above average, with 33 percent saying that stress has increased in their organizations over the last five years. Stress is a major factor that can influence a person’s mental health and can contribute to problems such as depression and anxiety.

Treatment for Mental Health Problems

When people are diagnosed with physical health problems – like diabetes or heart disease – they don’t wait to seek in treatment in hopes their illness will disappear on its own. Yet, most mental health problems go untreated for years. Unfortunately, without treatment mental health problems may get worse, making them more difficult to treat.

The good news is, most mental health problems are very treatable. The bad news is, there are several barriers that prevent people from getting treatment. Many people fail to recognize the warning signs and symptoms of a mental health problem. There’s also still a stigma associated with seeking treatment for mental health problems. And for many people, treatment simply isn’t affordable.

Mental Health Awareness Month is an Opportunity

People aren’t either mentally healthy or mentally ill. Mental health is a continuum. An organization’s culture and policies can greatly influence where employees fall on the continuum. Providing a healthy work environment assists people in being at their best.

Mental Health Awareness Month is an opportune time for employers to consider what steps they want to take to promote mental well-being in the workplace. Implementing resilience-building and stress awareness programs are just a few of the ways companies can promote positive well-being in the workplace. For more tips, check out my previous article, How to Foster Good Mental Health in the Workplace.

Amy Morin is a psychotherapist, keynote speaker, and the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, a bestselling book that is being translated into more than 20 languages.

Good morning psychologist humor 

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There is nothing better than starting the day with a smile!

Have a wonderful day everyone. I am heading off to Barcelona tomorrow. Does anyone have recommendations for what to do there?  

The sound of breathing in and shouting out

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Just when you think you have it all figured out, you realize that you have to repaint the future you made. The canvas is filled with new colors, and you see that they look better than before. My picture was filled with the city line of Bergen, where I wanted to move. In the painting, some of my best friends stood next to me. In the horizon, I saw a new job, a new life.

RitzUnknown

Yesterday I was on an audition for a choir I have dreamt about joining since I moved to Førde. Two years ago, I was on my first audition with them, but I was so nervous that I almost could`t sing and I lost my chance to join them. My nervousness was right under the surface this time too, but I felt a little bit better since I have started to take singing lessons. The day before, I had a lesson together with my motivating teacher, who pushed my limits and made me sing at a pitch I felt uncomfortable with. But suddenly my voice did things it had never done before. We did a high-five after I finally managed to sing “stand by your man” properly. He told me I just had to believe in myself, and to not be afraid of “singing out”. For me shouting out sounded like I was an animal in pain, but he told me to stop thinking like that, so I did.

I drove to the audition with this in my mind. When I came there, I was as ready as I could be. I had chosen to sing “jar of hearts”, and managed to sing it without faltering too much. But then I came to “Stand By Your Man”, and everything went wrong. Each time I came to the point where I had to sing out, my voice disappeared, as if it suddenly decided to take a vacation.

Rica

I was sure I had ruined my chances, but luckily the woman I sang to, gave me another chance. She put on a karaoke version of the song, and let me sing again. This time I managed to sing like I had practiced at home, with some hiccups. When I didn`t manage to sing like I should, she suddenly came up behind me and started touching my stomach and lifting my hands. She told me this was to help me use my breath in the right way. With a firm tone, she told me to relax in my shoulders as they almost went up to my hair. She also told me I had to draw in as much breath as I could and then save the air until I started to sing. Otherwise, the air would leak out and I would`t have enough left to sing for more than seconds. Her energy and strange approach to my singing, made me laugh and relax enough to sing better than I thought I was capable off. At one point she told me she got goosebumps. I never thought I could sing good enough to evoke emotions in others, and now I did. I was still sure I had ruined my chances, when she told me that I would be invited to join them.

I started to cry and felt joy souring through me. I couldn`t believe it, and I`m still surprised when I think about it. Since this has been one of my dreams, I just have to grab the opportunity, even if it means staying in Førde longer. My plans of moving this summer, must be abandoned for the time being. From now on my painting will be filled with musical performances and new experiences.

Tammy Wynette – Stand By Your Man 

About the choir:

Showkoret Surround 

Dementia 

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The prevalence of dementia in Norway is about 1,5 percent of the total population. In 2013 we were 5,1 million people so that means a lot of eldery suffer from this debilitating disease. I haven’t worked a lot with dementia, but I have tried to read as much as I can, to try to understand it better. When I studied psychology I had a summer job for two years where I worked at an eldery center, with two devision. One with about 10 patients with eldery who had physical problems, like Parkinson’s disease, and one devision with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. We only had 6 patients there, and that’s where I worked for the most part. Some were at a early stage, so they could still remember some things, but others were already at a late stage, where they didn’t even recognize their loved ones. I remember how terrible it was to see families holding their relative in the hand, trying to make conversation, but realizing that the person they knew had changed. It tugged at my heart, the pain was so palpatable.

I am so glad that I live in 2015. We have seen an explosion in research relating to dementia, and in twenty years we might have come a step closer at that will work. Imagine how much suffering it would alleviate?



Dementia

The body keeps the score 

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BEFRIENDING THE BODY 


Trauma victims cannot recover until they become familiar with and befriend the sensations in their bodies. Being frightened means that you live in a body that is always on guard. Angry people live in angry bodies. The bodies of child-abuse victims are tense and defensive until they find a way to relax and feel safe. In order to change, people need to become aware of their sensations and the way that their bodies interact with the world around them. Physical self-awareness is the first step in releasing the tyranny of the past.


In my practice I begin the process by helping my patients to first notice and then describe the feelings in their bodies—not emotions such as anger or anxiety or fear but the physical sensations beneath the emotions: pressure, heat, muscular tension, tingling, caving in, feeling hollow, and so on. I also work on identifying the sensations associated with relaxation or pleasure. I help them become aware of their breath, their gestures and movements.


All too often, however, drugs such as Abilify, Zyprexa, and Seroquel, are prescribed instead of teaching people the skills to deal with such distressing physical reactions. Of course, medications only blunt sensations and do nothing to resolve them or transform them from toxic agents into allies. 


The mind needs to be reeducated to feel physical sensations, and the body needs to be helped to tolerate and enjoy the comforts of touch. Individuals who lack emotional awareness are able, with practice, to connect their physical sensations to psychological events. Then they can slowly reconnect with themselves.

Who am I? The person in the mirror

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Right now I am ready “The body keeps the score” by Bessel van der Kolk. At one point, he talks about the problem trauma victims have with recognizing basic needs like if they are hungry or need to move their bodies to not be in pain.

What is dissociation?

Dissociation is a word that is used to describe the disconnection or lack of connection between things usually associated with each other. Dissociated experiences are not integrated into the usual sense of self, resulting in discontinuities in conscious awareness (Anderson & Alexander, 1996; Frey, 2001; International Society for the Study of Dissociation, 2002; Maldonado, Butler, & Spiegel, 2002; Pascuzzi & Weber, 1997; Rauschenberger & Lynn, 1995; Simeon et al., 2001; Spiegel & Cardeña, 1991; Steinberg et al., 1990, 1993).

When they dissociate, signals from the body are often disconnected from their experience, and he writes that sometimes they cannot even recognize themselves in the mirrors. He goes on to explain that brain scans have shown that this is not merely inattention, they really have problems with recognizing themselves.  

He also writes that the relationship and talk in therapy, might not be the most important healing force in therapy. What patients really need, he believes, is the “therapist’s attuned attention to the moods, physical sensations, and physical impulses within. The therapist must be the patient’s servant, helping him or her explore, befriend, and trust their inner felt experience.” Relationship therapy can seem like a kind of ersatz friendship, but “it doesn’t make you better friends with yourself.”

To underscore the shocking possibility that neither talk nor relationship may be necessary in trauma treatment, van der Kolk likes to tell the story of his training in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), an approach held in very low esteem by many of his research colleagues. Although he initially considered EMDR a fad, like est or transcendental meditation, he went for the training after seeing the dramatic effects it had on some of his own trauma patients. “They came back and told me how supportive our therapy relationship had been, but that EMDR had done more for them in a few sessions than therapy with me had done in four years,” he recalls. Van der Kolk decided to go see for himself what this weird new thing was all about, and took the training.

So, do you know who you are?

Sometimes we need others to be able to see who we are when we look into the mirror.

mirror kopi

I should have helped you

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We all have our stories. Right now I’m sitting in mine. It’s quiet around me, except the music I’ve put on. Music is such a good way to remember the past. You float back, letting the sound waves transport you to the lived and loved. There is so much in our emotional briefcases, everything from dreams that flew away and guilt that chaired us. We also have drawers filled with all the things we should have said and done, but never managed to do. I recently read ‘the illegal gardener’, a lovely book where regret and guilt was one of the red threads weaving the plot together. 

I read a quote that really touched me:

she could only do what she had the knowledge and power to do at the time.

Sara AlexiThe Illegal Gardener 

How often don’t we think about what we should have done, even when we simply couldn’t. We have no magical abilities that rights all wrongs, we have no crystal balls that we forgot to look into. We only have our developing minds, not yet ready to understand what we know today. Our brain still needs to grow, it needs to learn what happens when we stumble and fall. And most importantly, we need to learn how to get up again. We need to let the chains of guilt loosen, or we will never get where we need to go. 

http://pinteresPicture credit t.com/pin/203013895675785032/

  

Celebrating Norway`s birthday

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dnb
Image source: dnb.no

17th of May is what we call Norway’s Birthday. It is really the Constitution Day, but we have always just called it Norway’s Birthday or the National Day. This day is celebrated as a Spring Festival. It is first and foremost a day for the children. We sing songs about the coming of Spring and the beautiful nature of our motherland Norway (or fatherland as we say in Norwegian).

pinterest bunad
Image source: pinterest. A girl wearing a traditional national dress. These dresses vary according to where you are from.

We dress up in our national dress and spend the day outdoors. The children participate in parades where they sing spring songs, and there are speeches and games.

Pictures from the celebration in førde
karmsundsavis
Image source: karmsundsavis.no A little girl wearing a national dress.
Image source: bunad-magasinet.no More Variations of the national dress


   

three of my friends
 

What is Aspergers Syndrome? – by WillowHop

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As a person with Aspergers, I will try and explain what it is – but, having always had Aspergers (obviously), I can’t really do much comparing with a ‘normal’ or ‘NT’ perspective. I don’t really feel that it is something that a person has, because there is little to be done to medicate it – it has to be something separate and targetable for that, surely? Aspergers is wound into my DNA, my personality – every action I take; it’s who I am.

On the whole, Aspergers makes life a little harder – sometimes almost impossible, but it’s there all the time, and whilst on occasion I may seem perfectly normal, the whole thing is being carefully thought out an planned in my head; it’s an act – one which I’ve spent a while examining ‘normal’ people in order to put together.

I want to write this, because I don’t like the usual definition, which is everywhere you look. It’s right, to an extent, but it’s a non-personal view, more than likely written by a ‘normal’ person.

At the core of Aspergers, is a very distinct difficulty (and at times inability) to be social. This difficulty makes it so much harder to do so many necessary things. It’s necessary to go to school, but with that comes an expectation to make friends, and even if you don’t or aren’t pressured to, there’s always a need, at some point – usually on a regular basis – to work in a group. It was always something I dreaded, especially when for whatever reason, my final grade would be impacted by my ability to work in that group. I work best alone, where I can get things done in the most efficient, logical way, and to the highest standard. I know that other people won’t execute things to the standard I would. I know that. Even if it’s not true sometimes, I feel like it is, and it’s a chance I don’t want to take, and hate being forced into. Even when you take that part away, as if I could cope with it, you are still left with the awkward silence that would happen if I didn’t talk to the group, and communicate my ideas to them.

Beyond school – which believe me, is a living nightmare for a person with Aspergers (and not just because of the social aspect, but I’ll get to the other reasons in a minute), you have work, parties, family get-togethers – even answering the door, shopping, ordering food and health appointments. Any situation where you have to (or are expected to) talk to another human being can be so scary and nerve wracking. At its worst, it can push me into a panic attack. But of course, most of these situations are vital, and can’t be avoided. If a person with Aspergers doesn’t have anyone to help them with these things, they can end up neglecting themselves through their anxiety towards anything social.

Another important thing to mention is social ‘rules’. I guarantee you that almost everyone with Aspergers will have no idea what is meant by social ‘rules’ or understand this so called ‘etiquette’ at work or school, which for some reason, everyone else is silently aware of. It genuinely feels like all of this was explained to everyone else in a neat little book which they were able to read through at a very young age, and we never got a copy of it. If we break these rules, or etiquette, we’re left feeling red faced when everyone else is gasping, or giving us funny looks, only for us to realise that whatever we did was totally unacceptable – yet we were never told we couldn’t do it and now we’re in trouble!

Whether or not you know you have Aspergers, you have this feeling in the back of your mind, somewhere, that you’re just really different, and until you get diagnosed, you have no idea why – and you mentally beat yourself up for not being able to just ‘be like everyone else’. The questions ‘Why can’t you be more like X person?’ or ‘X person doesn’t have a problem, so why do you?’ or ‘Everyone else is happy about this, why can’t you be?’ are questions we get asked a lot, and we just don’t know the answer, again, until we get a diagnosis – but even then, we feel bad for ‘blaming’ it.

There are things that other people can physically do, like take a walk to town on their own and buy something in a shop; or take an exam in a crowded room with a ticking clock as the only background noise; or have a drink with friends at a local club playing the latest dance tune at full volume – which we can’t do because something mentally stops us. Yes, our bodies would do it, but we can’t make our minds let it happen.

Which brings me onto sensitivity; a lot of people with Aspergers are over sensitive to something, whether it be touch, light, sound etc, or an unfortunate combination. For me personally, but I know a lot of other people who are the same, I am over sensitive to touch, light, textures (food and clothes) and sound. This means that when I’m exposed to something which I’m oversensitive to, I will panic. Usually I will have the urge to run away from whatever it is as fast as possible, and if I can’t I will end up having a panic attack – which can be very debilitating. For me, one of the worst and most frequent things is sound. I can hear noises which either other people can’t, or it doesn’t bother them because it’s so quiet – yet to me, these noises are incredibly loud, and can often drown out things which I know are definitely louder. I hate the little hum that comings from things on charge, or the ticking of a clock – both of which, if I’m having a particularly bad day, can drown out someone stood in front of me talking. I will miss chunks of their sentence because I couldn’t un-focus from the clock ticking away in the background (this was a problem in school as I would miss large parts of what the teacher was saying because I couldn’t stop hearing pencils tapping, clocks ticking or people chattering – and I would get into trouble for not paying attention, though when they repeated it I would always know the answer).

As for sensitivity to clothes – this can be an awkward one until you’re an adult, because of things like school uniform, which is compulsory (in the UK at least), but also because parents have a tendency to want to dress you a certain way. I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve literally ripped an item of clothing off because it made my skin feel like it was on fire. With anything that I’m oversensitive to, it just sets off a burning rage inside of me and it forces my arms to straighten out and my fists to clench up (which is also something that happens when I have a panic attack) – which of course looks a little odd in public, and I know this, and I hate it, but I just can’t help it.

A sensitivity to touch is annoying when in a crowded place; a crowded place is bad enough because of the potential social aspect, not to mention the noise, but it also opens us up to being brushed past and jostled by the crowd. A light touch can be painful for someone with Aspergers and the place where contact was made can feel like it’s burning, or bruised for a long time after the touch happened. I know I would prefer a heavy touch to a light touch, so with hugs, a tight squeeze is a lot nicer than a light cuddle.

Of course there are lots of different things which we can be oversensitive too, but you get the idea. On the flip side, there is under sensitivity to certain things, which can be dangerous. For example, I know a lot of people, myself included, are under sensitive to the temperature of water. For me, at least, I cannot tell the difference between really hot water and really cold water – the feeling is the same, it feels like it’s burning, but hot water actually does burn, and I don’t realise it fast enough, and putting it under cold water just hurts as well! Being under sensitive to pain is also dangerous for obvious reasons.

Being awkward in social situations is awful, but a lot of our other symptoms make it clear, somehow, to ‘normal’ people that we’re different, or vulnerable, which can often open us up to bullying (and often people take advantage of us, which can be severe in worst case scenarios). Plus, a lot of people with Aspergers are really intelligent, which I guess puts us in the ‘geek’ category, and even when a ‘normal’ person is a geek, they usually get bullied to some degree – so to be a geek with Aspergers is just a nightmare. As nervous, shy people, we don’t really feel that we can stand up for ourselves either – at least, I never did, which only made things worse. And despite what you’ve read, a lot of people with Aspergers are in fact very emotional people, and when that emotion comes out as tears because you’re being bullied, well, as you can imagine, it doesn’t help the situation.

I’ll stay on the subject of emotions, because I feel like it’s always explained wrongly. I for one am very emotional and I do care a lot about people; the only problem is that I don’t really know how to show my emotions in the right way. I care a lot for my parents and my brother, and even my extended family, but I don’t really show them; I don’t even miss them that much when I don’t see them for a while. It’s just easy for me to shut that part away when we say goodbye. I feel like when I leave a place, or a person, it or they stop existing until I’m there or see them again. Of course I know that this isn’t the case, but it’s how my mind processes it. Though, the exception is my fiancé, I can never be apart from him for long, as he is vital and I cannot be okay without him and I do show him that I love him. As for handshakes, cuddles or other methods of showing an emotion through a physical act, I dislike it most of the time (except for with my fiancé, but even then we sometimes have issues) because I’d rather not be touched, so people instantly think I don’t care or am a ‘cold’ person. I’m only really comfortable with my fiancé, my Mum and my brother.

Something else which we can struggle with is changing from sad to okay again when something has upset us. When I get upset about something or angry or argue etc., I can’t feel okay again for hours, sometimes a whole day or two. Even if the situation is resolved, I just keep thinking about it when it wasn’t resolved and it upsets me over and over. A lot of people, ‘normal’ people, would be fine again once a resolution had been reached, and so they don’t understand at all why I might still be upset by it. That is something which often annoys me – how ‘normal’ people don’t struggle with what I struggle with, so they have no idea why I would struggle, just because they don’t; and so of course, to them I’m just over reacting. Sometimes I do over react, but in my head it really does feel that bad, and my feelings aren’t stupid: it’s how I feel – whether you would feel that way or not should not determine whether or not my reaction is justified. Opposite to this is when a ‘normal’ person does struggle with something that a person with Aspergers does, but only mildly – yet they tell us that everyone struggles with it, as if that justifies them telling us that we’re overreacting. It’s frustrating because I know they’re trying to make me feel better, but at the same time, all it does is make me feel worse because they’ve failed to understand how hard a time I am having, because they once went through something similar and were fine with it. Everyone is different.

Another large part of Aspergers which is always mentioned is obsessions/interests; I have and have had many obsessions over the years. The thing that separates people with Aspergers obsessions from ‘normal’ people’s obsessions is their near inability to break away from it to do important things, like eat, wash etc. They also go above and beyond to find out or collect as much as they can to do with their obsession; of course this isn’t always the case, I have ‘light’ obsessions or obsessions which I feel don’t warrant a collection of knowledge or items. I get obsessed with TV shows, but all that really means is I will watch all of the episodes back to back in any spare time I can possibly allow, until they’ve all been seen. Yes, I sometimes forget to eat or shower – but this was worse before I got engaged because I lived with my Mum and she would bring me food and I wouldn’t have to break away for anything! Now I have to get things ready, cook or wash clothes etc.

Along with collecting things to do with an obsession, people with Aspergers tend to ‘word vomit’/ ‘info dump’ to other people, who usually don’t care. This just means that they find any reason to steer a conversation towards their interest, and once they get there they struggle to stop talking about it – and also struggle to see that the other person is bored. On reflection, we often realise that we probably went on a bit too much, but it’s too late then – and the next ‘word vomit’/ ‘info dump’ will leave us too ‘one track minded’ to think about how we might be doing it again. Sometimes, I can see myself going too far and manage to shut up, but not often. Luckily for me, my fiancé shares a lot of the same interests and so we both ‘word vomit’/ ‘info dump’ on each other for hours and don’t notice/care!

Of course, in the midst of all of this, is the feeling of loneliness. We know we can’t make friends easily, and we know we don’t really like having a friend when we do get one, because it can be very hard to work for us to maintain the friendship – but it doesn’t stop us wanting it. Maybe because it’s what is seen as ‘normal’, and we want that for ourselves, or maybe because we would like to share our interests – though, finding someone like that is difficult. These feelings, mixed with the confusion about our differences (which, no matter how long you’ve known about Aspergers, can always be hard to process, and we tend to get angry at ourselves a lot for not improving or forcing ourselves to do something) and the anger which is sometimes just there, unexplainably, we often tend to suffer from depression. It’s not always there all the time, but when it comes back we feel so lost. For me, my memories of being depressed span back to when I had a nervous breakdown caused by a lot of bullying and failing to attend school (despite my high grades). It was a dark time for me, most of which I spent asleep because I felt it was easier – a habit I’m still trying to break years later. But when I feel depressed again, I get scared that I’m going to be stuck again, like I was before.

This loosely relates to routine, again, another thing which is always mentioned with Aspergers. I was in a routine of sleeping a lot to get away from being so upset – and when I get upset again, my reaction is to sleep. Routines are what help me get through things. A lot of people with Aspergers have routines, and sticking to them helps them to feel better – similarly, breaking the routine can make us feel terrible. And, if we’ve broken a routine ourselves, through being depressed and not feeling like we want to do anything, it makes things so much worse and we punish ourselves for our failure – when this happens to me I end up in a vicious cycle which is incredibly hard to break out of, but to start, I always write down a routine and if I stick to it, I can usually start to feel okay again.

I like to eat the same things a lot – every Monday we’ll have beef etc. It makes shopping easier and I like knowing what will be for tea – and I’m in a routine of knowing what and when to cook depending on what day it is. It’s just a comfort. Everything else can sometimes feel so difficult, so having a routine to rely on is nice. For some people, their routine can be very in depth and detailed for the whole day, and they do this every single day – deviations from this, through external, uncontrollable factors can be very upsetting, because we’re relying on the comfort of familiarity. Again, panic attacks can happen when routines are broken.

Similar to this is unexpected things in general, even if they don’t ruin a routine, they’re still not welcome. If someone calls round to see us without ringing, even if we were just watching TV or a film and it didn’t matter to us that much, in our heads, that’s what was happening for the next hour or however long. Once something is set in our minds, it can’t be changed without causing a least a little discomfort, but again, it can end up with a panic attack or meltdown. I try not to take anything seriously until it’s too late to change – but like I said, someone turning up out of the blue isn’t something you could have ever predicted or planned for, so no matter what you were doing, you weren’t expecting this, and it’s just hard to get your head around and feel okay with it straight away, or quick enough.

I can never tell you fully what it is like to have Aspergers. You cannot filter out your normal way of thinking to understand what situations would be like from our point of view. It’s not just the things I’ve listed; I could never list everything for you because Aspergers really does affect everything, even if I don’t notice, everything I do, I do because I have Aspergers – just like everything you do, you do because that’s who you are, you wouldn’t do it any different because then you’d be someone else. I wouldn’t want my Aspergers to go away, because then I’d be someone else. I know I’ve struggled a lot at times because of it, but it’s so deep in the fabric of my being that if it wasn’t there then I wouldn’t be this person. And I like who I am. The people who bullied me made me stronger, and made me want to be something special, so they couldn’t ever say that they’d won.

It is hard, but I wouldn’t change it; I’d change you, so that you can have a better understanding.

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The sound of my compassionate letter

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The sound of my compassionate letter

Today is a calm day at work, maybe simply because it’s Friday and people are getting ready for the weekend. Who wants to be serious then? I am using the time diligently (almost) and have for example taken some phone calls and been to 2 hours of supervision. I`ve had one patient, and have read a little bit, also. The chapter I`m reading right now is about giving yourself as much compassion as everyone else. This is maybe one of the most central themes in my work, and something especially hard for takecare

traumatized people. They`re so used to focusing on others, because they had to, before. If mother was in a good mood, then maybe that day would be okay. Maybe it would even be possible to do something nice together.

Right now I feel the need for comfort, myself. It’s 5 month after my big love left me, and my heart is healing so slowly. If I try to contact him, just in case he has changed his mind, I never get anything else than more disappointment, and the knowledge that he`ll never ever be with me again, is just so hard to take in. When I hear songs reminding me of the situation, I have to turn it off, and I still haven`t seen one romantic movie after the break-up. I don`t even like to be around couples. I have no problem connecting with my patients and their pain from rejection.  So now I want to try to give myself crutches, myself a chance to stand upright even when I feel nothing is right.
First of all, it’s not the first time I`ve lost somebody. Like I`ve already written in my narrative, I lost my very best friend and my first real love while still struggling to grow up. I spent years trying to come to terms with loosing my first love, and I even thought about us while I was in new relationships. If I read books about people finding each other again after a long time, I hoped that would happen to me. After some time I felt better again, and tried to move on. 

I have to remind myself of the struggles I`ve had, and how I always tried to continue fighting even when I just wanted to lay down, letting nature take me back to the earth. I`ve been in the rain countless times, and I managed to crawl back into a dry house after a while. These last months have been so difficult, and I am really proud that I got through Christmas, New Year and Valentine in one piece. Valentine was even a good day, because I treated myself so nicely; Ate something good, did scrapbooking, put on music and was proud that I could enjoy myself so much. It’s the first time I spent any of those big occasions without a boyfriend, and I feel stronger. Instead of finding some random person to soothe me, I soothed myself, and I am proud of myself.

I still see his face when I close my eyes, but now I work towards mixing the good things with the bad. How I felt when he was never there, how it hurt when he thought I was demanding too much, the way he never asked about my day or how he was restless when he finally was at home. I was always trying to make him, and still he only told me I was reacting the wrong way. He told me I was overreacting when I tried to talk about how I felt, and that I made it more uncomfortable for him to be home. I did many things wrong, because I felt neglected, and that made me feel even worse and more unstable. I know I`m to blame for a lot of things, but I ALSO have to remember I always did my best.

Another thing I must remember is how hard I have worked to be a better person. I have reproached myself, cried my frustrated tears without anyone to dry them, and gone to sleep alone most nights. I`ve had a warm shower when I really need it, and been social and active. I`ve not missed one day at work, and always focus 100 % at my patients, and I have been completely honest with people around me on how I`m lodoing. I`ve also been honest with people who liked me more than what I could return, and felt I have been able to not let anything go too far. I`ve also had my share of rejections from some people I’ve met, who I could have liked a bit more, without feeling too bad about it. I`ve told myself I have to take the time I need, and given myself some invisible hugs when the world is grey around me. I must remember that I need this time to heal, and that I obviously deserve it. I shouldn`t feel bad for using several hours on nothing, like staying on the internet or watching some tv-show. I`m much harder on myself than with anyone else, and always keep these unreasonable standards on what I have to accomplish.

To elevate my mood and take care of my body I have started swimming and running 2-3 times a week. Even when on vacation or at home, I try to put some exercise into the program. Today I walked to work for the first time in a long time, and it felt great! I am eating healthy most of the time, but still eat dessert, chocholate or drink chai caramel when I want to. I have met people I and prioritized spending time with them. I also have to learn to not feel bad if I say no to something, because I MUST have time on my own. It`s essential that I can just be with the bad feelings, that I see I can bear it and even learn more about how to control them.

everyone need love
everyone need love

And what about who I am? I have sometimes done bad things, but that doesn`t mean that I AM bad. I have hurt people because that`s easier than being hurt myself, but it still doesn`t make me a person unworthy of love. I struggle, and instead of dragging myself down, by thinking I’m horrible, I have to see that I also do good things, every day. 

It can be the small things like holding the door when I see someone coming towards me, and bigger things, like saying to my supervisor today that it`s not okay that my patient is treated bad by her mother. It can be to give my brother a hug and a heartfelt compliment, and it can be to validate someone else`s pain. I think about the environment, and don`t use my money on fancy and expensive stuff. I want to be real, and am proud that I actually can show that it`s okay to do mistakes. We all do, and we will probably do them again. Most of us don`t have energy or time enough to really work on our issues, and there are so many expectations the whole time, that we just have to fail once in a while. I can be creative, get new ideas from diverse bits of information and try to keep updated on what`s going on in the world. I also try to be open to meet new people, and to let the unknown rest where it should be: In the future that no one can see.

Taking all this together, I`ve done a considerable amount of work, and that shows my strength. It shows that I can Survive and thrive, and when I get through this I will surely grasp the opportunities that I deserve. I will take my time, mull it over, and really feel if its right or not, when I go into a new relationship, and I will be honest anout my past and what I hope for. I want to give myself this letter, because I have felt a unhappy the last days, and I need to remind myself that what I`m trying to do is hard work.  I am allowed to hope that things will turn around again. I can choose which path I choose,  and no one can stop me.

Enjoy your time while waiting for the last scraps of sorrow to fade away, because there is no reason not to.

I want to ask everyone who’s reading this: How would your letter be? What is good about you? Do you give yourself enough comfort? Could you give even more? What would be really great for you, and why do you deserve it in the first place? If you don’t feel like writing a whole letter, is it possible to think about those questions? It`s far too common to forget oneself in a hectic life.

Hugs to myself and to all my readers