Writing Prompt 1-2-14

Prompt: “Curiosity Suffers” using concrete terms (note: this is pure imagination, not based on reality)

Curiosity suffers whether it is satisfied or not. It starts with a burning around the eyes, an emptiness in the stomach, impatient anxiety in the limbs. These continue and grow if curiosity is not satisfied, and eventually the vacuum produced by frustration implodes the mind and body of the sufferer.

If curiosity is satisfied — although it can never be fully satisfied, because there is always something else worthy of curiosity — the emptiness starts to be filled, the burning eyes subside, but now the acceleration button has been tripped. With each new piece of information, the heart speeds up, respiration becomes more shallow and more frequent, blood vessels dilate, causing red spots on the cheeks. Adrenalin runs wild, and the person begins to feel capable of anything. “If I learn this — and this — and that, I will be powerful, and I can do anything!”

This is not true, but it is believed until the moment when, again, the system becomes overwhelmed and collapses in upon itself with exhaustion and, often, disillusionment. A hard fall, they say, is all the more potent the higher the person rises in their own estimation. It’s the “Tree of Knowledge” syndrome.

“Curiosity killed the cat” — that’s going a bit too far. But she will certainly suffer.


A Movie and Dinner

Yesterday we went to see the new movie “The 5th Estate” then to eat at a Mexican restaurant nearby. I enjoyed the movie, not so much that I would want to see it repeatedly (like I do with some movies), but for this once. It was about WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. I never knew very much about the situation before now, so this cleared up some questions for me.

Of course, I know that it wasn’t a documentary, even though it was based on two books that explained what happened. For one thing, Assange didn’t get a chance to tell his side of the story. The movie portrayed him as idealistic, courageous, and heroic, as well as egotistical, arrogant, and power-hungry. A nice blend there, but the negatives seemed to prevail as the movie neared its end. I’ve heard that Assange is not happy with the movie, and I think I understand why.

How would you feel if someone made a movie of all or part of your life? Who would you pick to play yourself?

Happy Fall Equinox!

Today is the first day of fall in the Northern Hemisphere — the fall or autumnal equinox, when the sun crosses the equator, with day and night approximately the same length. Fall is my FAVORITE season! I love the cooler temperatures (I hate the heat — sometimes I wonder why I’m living in Texas), the colors of the trees, and the promise of winter. Fall foods such as pumpkins, butternut and other types of squash are delicious. In some ways, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it has not been as commercialized as most of the other holidays.

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Click here for an article about fall with some interesting and amusing photos!

Introducing Inner Lives Quarterly

inner lives banner2

Inner Lives Quarterly (ILQ) is an ezine published 4 times a year featuring short stories, poems, art and non-fiction about mental health issues. Recovery from mental illness is a prominent topic, but we won’t ignore the suffering and struggles that happen along the way. Optimism is nice, but realism is best.

Authors will be individuals who have experienced mental health issues and who use writing and art to convey what it is like to live in their heads. All submissions should have this as their primary focus: what is it like to be you? Although mental illness is part of who you are, it is not the totality of your personality, and your work will reflect this fact.

Our mission is twofold. First, we want to get your experiences of life out into the world so that others with similar experiences will realize they are not alone. Many of us, particularly those who have lived in rural areas, know what it is like to have no one nearby who understands how we think and feel. Our hope is that Inner Lives Quarterly can help people who are feeling very alone and oftentimes, inferior.

Second, we want to help those who care about us to understand us better. Some individuals with mental health issues are not writers or artists, but through this publication and the writing and art it contains, they can share some of what they feel with people around them. Also, the varied nature of the writing and art will make it more likely that something will speak to those near us.

Are you interested in writing or contributing art for Inner Lives? Click here for more details on how and what to submit!

Yes I am… a Trekkie!

This weekend I visited my daughter, her friend & friend’s son, all of whom are Trek fans just like me, and we had a marathon weekend with episodes & movies from TOS to Enterprise. I hadn’t seen the 2 latest movies, so I particularly enjoyed those (although I now have some confusion about what happened when — I’ll just have to watch them again, right?).

But the coolest thing about the weekend is that we ate Trek-inspired food! Erin & Linda looked online and found recipes for a bunch of tasty morsels, many of which were healthy too. Even the Klingon “gagh,” also known as blood worms, was delicious. I do wonder though why they were blue. Is there some race I don’t know about that has blue blood?

Here are some pictures from our feast:

the menu

the menu

attractive display of food

attractive display of food

me eating a blood worm!

me eating a blood worm!

Linda drinking Romulan ale

Linda drinking Romulan ale

Erin with colorful Trek food

Erin with colorful Trek food

Eric eating a red-shirt cookie (the red-shirts always die!)

Eric eating a red-shirt cookie (the red-shirts always die!)

Vulcan plomeek soup

Vulcan plomeek soup

algae puffs

algae puffs

Klingon Heart of Targ

Klingon Heart of Targ

Q's truffles

Q’s truffles

Klingon gagh!

Klingon gagh!

They really do look like worms, don’t they? But these are only jello. I think the writers named it “gagh” because it would make a human “gag,” LOL.

Thankful Today!




I am so very thankful today that the problem with our air conditioning which popped up last night was easily fixed! I am thankful that the repairman was willing and able to help us
on an emergency basis. I am also thankful that it was NOT the compressor going out (which was what we feared) and that as a result repair only cost a few hundred rather than about $6,000. Whew!

After this summer, I swear that I will never take air conditioning for granted again!


Concerning Goals

1GoalSetting1(just kidding — mostly)

I’m a little late on following up with the goals I made last week, but that just gave me more time to work on them :-). So here’s the scoreboard:

Goal #1 — Practice Mindfulness Skills — I did fairly well on this one. It helped to write the post about these skills.

Goal #2 — Practice Distress Tolerance Skills — Not quite as much as #1, but again, writing the post helped.

Goal #3 — Additional Coping Skills — I worked on some Emotion Regulation skills based on changing my thoughts to change my emotions. It takes some time and I’m far from doing it easily, but time will tell.

Goal #4 — Work on new blog — I’m having some trouble with this, not sure why. Next week I’m going to light a fire under myself (figuratively speaking) because my therapist is going to ask me what I have done.

Goal #5 — Stay in touch with other people — nope. ;-) Will work harder on this because it is crucial.

Goal #6 — Household Tasks — Fairly good.

Goal #7 — Bipolar research — not at all. Like #4, I’m having trouble so I’m going to journal about it.

I won’t be able to do some of these goals in the next 7 days because I’ll be busy with other things, but I can do my coping skills and journal about the difficult areas. Those are my goals from today through next Wednesday.smart goal setting concept

Also, I want to modify the goals I started with so that they meet the “SMART” criteria above. For instance, what specifically constitutes “practice mindfulness skills”? Do I have to do it daily, weekly? How many times? Which skills? Can I measure my achievement? Is it too much for one week, or whatever time period I have given?

Judging from my experience as a speech therapist, I think that some goals cannot be expressed with all five criteria, but I want to get as many as possible in that format.

Reviewing Distress Tolerance Skills

emotional distressN.B. If you already got an email about this post, I apologize; something screwy happened with WordPress.

Why Distress Tolerance?

Many people with mental health issues tend to go to extremes with their emotions because they are unable to regulate them successfully. When I go to extremes, I add another problem on top of the one I’m dealing with, i.e., it’s not just the situation itself, now it’s also the fact that my extreme emotions are running the show.

Distress tolerance skills give me a way to handle inflamed emotions without hurting myself or other people (hopefully, I don’t destroy property either). The problem of emotions going out of control is quite common — you don’t even have to have a “mental illness” to have it, especially rage (out of control anger).

At Timberlawn, they described the emotional see saw as three columns. In the left column, all emotions are numbed out or suppressed, often causing physical illness. In the right column, emotions are magnified: anger becomes rage, sadness becomes depression, happiness becomes euphoria, fear becomes anxiety and phobias, and so on.The middle column is the healthiest place to be, because it is where moderated emotions can be found — not too little, not too much.

So where does distress tolerance come in? Continue reading

Reviewing Mindfulness Concepts


Basically, mindfulness means paying attention (without judging) to what is happening in the present moment. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? In fact it’s incredibly hard.

Mindfulness, while not exactly the same as meditation, does overlap with it. Meditation practices can be found in most religious and spiritual traditions — for example, praying the Catholic rosary is actually a meditation on events in the lives of Jesus and Mary, with the prayers serving as the background mantra. This is why the common Protestant complaint of “they don’t do anything but recite memorized prayers” is not true, or at least it shouldn’t be.

Meditation is a fundamental part of eastern religions such as Buddhism. Each Buddhist tradition has its own ideas about how to meditate. I don’t claim to know much about it, but I do know that meditation is not always done while sitting. More advanced individuals may practice walking meditation as well as meditation / mindfulness while carrying out tasks such as dishwashing (I’ve done that one before and it completely changed my feelings about the task. So why haven’t I kept it up?).

Mindfulness is one of the four main areas addressed by Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Its four attributes are Observing, Describing, Participating, and Nonjudgmental Stance. Each of these is important.

Observing means that I pay attention to my 5 senses (as well as other internal and external sensations) on a moment-by-moment basis. Then I Describe what I have observed using language that is as precise and rich as possible. Participating may mean literally joining in — a conversation, a game — or using empathy and spirituality to help me feel I am part of the human race, part of the planet. Finally, I choose a Nonjudgmental Stance when I am Observing, Describing, and Participating. This is especially applicable to describing because it will affect the words I choose.

An example scenario:
Someone has said something to me that I perceived as critical and my shame spiral has been activated. How can I use mindfulness to help me get out of this situation? First, I Observe the outside (what tone of voice did he or she use? has this person been critical in the past? is he or she critical of everyone?) and the inside (what do I feel in my body? what am I thinking and feeling?). Then I use words to Describe what I observed (out loud or to myself). If I notice that I want to turn away from the interaction, I make a decision to stay engaged and to listen carefully to the other person. Finally, I stop paying attention to any judgmental thoughts that occur to me, whether directed at the other person or at myself.

This procedure calms my thoughts and feelings and allows me to interact using Wise Mind. Practically speaking, moment to pause is one of the most valuable mindfulness skills for me. It is quick and easy but it can make the difference between maintaining my serenity and having a horrific temper tantrum!