Posts Tagged ‘awareness’

Friday link roundup 9/16

“Sometimes we have to start broken, but in the end you have a choice and if they can find even the smallest thing to hold on to, it will lead them out of the dark, into the light of a life they love, and is worth fighting for.” Kaiha Bertollini champions for sexual assault awareness – and her own healing from PTSD from her own assault  – through her potentially record-breaking hike on the Appalachian Trail.

6 Fascinating Facts about Dreams.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is about to open in Washington, D.C.

Why the discovery of an Earth-like planet – in a neighboring star system! – is such a big deal.

How the Veerni Institute, which was created through the partnership of a Swiss aristocrat and an Indian techie, strives to help and educate women – specifically child brides – from remote villages in India.

Director Ava DuVernay is in the process of casting a diverse cast for her film version of A Wrinkle in Time.


Friday link roundup 6/10

Actress Kristen Bell discusses her depression.

A sexual assault survivor eloquently addressed her attacker in the form of a letter.  (Contains graphic description of assault).

How often has someone told you to smile for a picture or any other reason? Various cultures may value smiling differently.

Are self-sustaining farmpods the future of food? The owners of a pod in Santa Fe, New Mexico discuss their process and outlook.

France declares all new rooftops must be topped with plants or solar panels.

Creativity expert and author Julia Cameron reminds us that there is no age limit for creativity.

Friday link roundup 6/3

A medical student decides to be open about her mental health issues, and creates space for others to do the same.

A group of young people – ages 8 to 20 – have sued the federal government for inaction on climate change.

Cherishing Rough Edges Over Smoothness: This piece includes a beautiful metaphor of a river, rough edges, life, and aging.

The effects of homework on elementary school students.

The Fierce Triumph of Loneliness: the author talks about what it means, as a woman, to be alone and to desire solitude.

Twin musician duo Tegan and Sara discuss their music and LGBT issues.

On “attention-seeking.”

“You’re just doing this for attention.”

The term”attention-seeking” seems fairly common. In mental health contexts, I’ve heard it used specifically in regards to self harm and suicide attempts. I’ve heard people mention that they’ve heard it about their own sensory processing issues, chemical sensitivities, etc. When kids have tantrums, it often is labeled as attention-seeking.

In my opinion, people tend to throw around these words loosely and without much awareness. In truth, it can be dismissive of the person who is supposedly seeking attention. It’s shaming. It’s invalidating. It communicates that what is happening with that person is not significant, or that they should just stop the behavior in question. And the effect can be silencing. For someone who is in pain, it can be both invalidating and harmful.

Also, someone may need attention and help for a very valid reason. Why is that reason for shame? I’ve been perusing articles and posts about this and sometimes they change the lingo to “attention needing.” If that person is communicating – whether directly or indirectly – that they need help, why not listen to what they’re experiencing? Why not say,
“I’m not in your body. I can’t know what you’re experiencing. But if you tell me, I’ll see what I can do to help you, or I’ll find someone who can.”

Friday link roundup 5/13



“You need to let timing do what it needs to do. You need to see lessons where you see barriers. You need to understand that what’s right now becomes inspiration later.”  – From To Anyone Who Thinks They’re Falling Behind in Life.

A store in Manchester, England is starting a quiet hour initiative, in which they create a quiet shopping environment one hour a week for anyone who may need it. With my sensory issues, I’d definitely appreciate if a store did this. Although my first question would be: could you please dim the fluorescent lights?

Please, Please Clean Your Room – a dose of parenting humor from the New Yorker.

On being genderqueer and pregnant.

Diversify your reading list:  A list of LGBTQ books that have protagonists who are people of color.

“People make spreadsheets to assess their financial situation, but it’s not often that people do the same to take a hard look at the inner-workings of their personal or social lives.” Since I need time and space to restore my energy,  I’ve been budgeting my emotional energy for years (no spreadsheets for me – mainly mental check-ins to see if I have energy and desire to do certain activities, depending on the activity and how much I’ve done that week). It’s nice to see a post about the importance of it. 

It’s Friday the 13th! On the psychology of superstition.

A break from sorting

As I sort through the papers and journals in the boxes in the garage, I see the beauty of the artwork I created – collages, painting, mixed media pieces – and the strength of the words I wrote.  I see the time and effort I put into assignments, journaling, and healing.

I spent time on Thursday and Friday dismantling old journals.  I have gathered pieces I may want to keep, remember, and share.  I’m recycling the rest.  And now, I’m taking a break from sorting for awhile – at least until I come back from visiting my fiancé.  So that gives me about a week and a half break, and I can reevaluate when I return.

Through this process, I’ve been feeling the weight of my experiences again.  As I went through one journal, I saw a page where I describe and list things that triggered me, and at least 2/3 of them are sensory-related, including florescent lights, loud noises, and crowds.  I wrote about feeling at times like things were “too much.”  What was really happening is right there on paper.

I went through another journal where my handwriting, which is usually loose and casual, goes into an illegible scrawl as I broke down and headed towards crisis.  As I remembered the pain, it was almost as though I was there again.

I’ve had to turn my mind and bring myself back here, to present day.  I am:  An aspiring Nia teacher.  Artist. Fiancée. Daughter.  Friend.  Living in a house in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  I have choice, passion, stability, and determination.

Releasing some of these old writings and items has been a relief.  I am sure it will be healing in the long run.  I will be glad to have more boxes emptied, fewer things to take with me when I move.  I do need to pace myself – this process is exposing, and I need to make sure that it isn’t too exposing. At the moment, I can feel I did too much.  I can feel more of how exhaustion, fear, and grief can take over my perspective of life at moments.

And so I take a break.  I take some deep breaths.  I breathe.  I move. I use skills.  I create more space for myself to feel and be.

Apparent competence

I’ve been wrestling with the concept of “apparent competence.” In basic terms, it is appearing to be competent or doing well when that is not the full reality.  It’s a term from DBT that is most often used by therapists as a frame of reference when working with clients. Or in my case, my therapist brought it up during an individual session because it’s one of my ongoing patterns.

I like the description from this website: “Apparent competence refers to outwardly being able to cope and seeming in control, while inwardly being completely lost, or mentally unwell. It does not necessarily have the ability to span all situations however, people may be able to shake off depression one day and but not the next. It is inconsistent. It can be dangerous as you as well as others may fail to recognize what it happening for what it is, false competence, until it is too late and things blow up in a crisis. Since others cannot always understand or appreciate apparent competence, cries for help are often ignored and people are assumed to be incorrectly ‘quite well’ which further complicates the risks that are associated with this situation.”

For me, it could look like this:   I look like I’m doing better than I am. Or I  look like I’m doing really well when I am also struggling with something. In some cases, it could mean I’m literally unwell and appearing otherwise.  In could also mean I am doing well and also actively struggling and my wellness comes across more strongly.

Apparent competence can be helpful in the short term, like showing up to an interview or public event where looking like I am doing and feeling well will benefit me. But keeping it up on a long-term basis is exhausting.

It has also looked like this:  I overcome a bunch of obstacles and am thriving.  Many people exclaim about how well I’m doing, how far I’ve come.  I believe it, too.  When I start struggling with something that I seem to have overcome, it looks like I’m falling backwards.  In the past, it has seemed like I’m caught in a constant pattern of rising and falling.

In states of crisis, it has looked something like this:  One day, I break down in tears and seem inconsolable, desperate, bereft.  The next day, I talk about how determined I am to meet my goals and talk about what needs to be done that day. I act pragmatic and self-directed. I may still appear sad, but I more or less continue as though the previous day didn’t happen.  I imagine this could be incredibly confusing from the outside.  It’s certainly confusing from the inside.  When I had a more intense breakdown, people did not seem to be convinced that the situation was as dire as it actually was.

I think that part of my inclination towards apparent competence could be due to an ongoing pattern of proving to myself and others that I was good enough.  If someone expressed doubt about my abilities or amazement when I succeeded, I was determined to show them how capable I was.  I learned to demonstrate my competence and how well I was doing.  Even if I was incredibly overwhelmed or sad, I often pushed through the situation anyway and came across as successful.  And I was…but often hid what was going on underneath.  That built up over time.  At several points in my life, this pattern contributed towards burnout or depression when I collapsed because I was appearing competent at the expense of my own life force. It wasn’t my intention to be dishonest or inauthentic, but yet it’s sort of like I tried to fake it until I made it…and didn’t always make it.

At times, I may unintentionally deceive myself as well as those who are trying to help me.  I could analyze this until I end up spinning in circles.  So…how can I be most effective?  By being attuned to my emotions, through acknowledging my thoughts, actions, and reactions.  Through growing awareness.  Through acknowledging that I have this coping mechanism because it has helped me in the past, and being compassionate with myself when I recognize it in the present.  Through actively sharing my process.