Leaving The House Can Be Terrifying When You Have a Mental Illness

Today, I have plans with family I love who live about an hour away. I’ve been looking forward to seeing them ever since I made the plans.

Now the day is here and I’m dizzy, taking short breaths and I have to keep reminding myself not to grind my teeth.

My brain doesn’t let me access the positive emotions I’ve experienced in the past while visiting this part of my family. That’s a horrible part of my own personal mental illness circus.

Why am I so anxious? Is it the thought of seeing them? Nope. Is it the car trip? Yes, somewhat. Is it the thought of being away from my home, my nest, for hours at a a time? Yes it is.

Leaving the house is one of the hardest things in the world for me. It doesn’t matter how much I know I’ll love time with family or friends, it doesn’t matter that I love my car, it doesn’t matter that my fiancé will be with me the whole time. I am very anxious.

What does it feel like? Imagine standing at the edge of a very high cliff and leaning as far forward as you can until you’re on your toes. Unless you’re a lover of high places, you can imagine this would conjure feelings of sheer panic, terror and a sickness in your stomach.

That’s what it’s like to have a serious mental illness where part of it is social phobia, anxiety and a panic disorder.

I’ll put on make-up, a nice dress, get in my car and we’ll be there in no time. I’ll enjoy catching up with everyone, I’m almost sure. Later, on our way home, I’ll berate my stupid self for being anxious about the visit. I’ll beat up on myself and tell myself that next time I’ll be better. Next time I’ll be fine.

That’s part of the circus, the pretending that it’s all a choice.

Is Halloween Scary if You Have a Mental Illness?

Halloween 2020

What could be scarier than mental illness paired with a whole day and night of people trying to frighten the life out of each other?

What is scary about Halloween if you have a Mental Illness?

For some people with a mental illness, Halloween will be an opportunity to hide behind a costume and a mask and maybe feel a sense of relief at being able to be completely anonymous.

Some will enjoy the irony of other people getting their anxiety tested as the most adventurous ones celebrate the holiday by giving and receiving a real fright.

For some though, even being surprised and frightened in fun can raise anxiety levels so high it becomes difficult to function.

It’s not that the act of frightening these people that is the truly scary thing, it’s that when you have an anxiety disorder, one that treatment, therapy and medication does not lessen, you become one big human shock button.

That shock, the horror of a big fright, is so much fun for so many people. If you have an anxiety disorder or some other mental illnesses, and someone shocks you, it can trigger an anxiety attack/panic attack that will write off Halloween and possibly a few days that follow.

Halloween Ideas

If you know someone with a mental illness and you want to celebrate Halloween while being sensitive to ways your friend might struggle this month, do one simple thing and reach out and ask them. Here are some questions to ask your friend or family member with mental illness, at Halloween:

– How are you with Halloween?

– How can we celebrate Halloween 2020 in a way that you’ll have as much fun as everyone else?

– Are there Halloween decorations, Halloween treats and Halloween ideas you love and find easy to enjoy?

– If we hold a Halloween party, what can we do so that everyone feels comfortable?

– Would you mind being in charge of the scare-factor of our family and friends Halloween celebrations? Can you keep it to a level where everyone will be happy?

– Is Halloween something you’d like to skip this year? We can do lunch another day and catch up without all the chaos if you prefer?

A Better Halloween This Year

I guarantee your friend or family member with a mental illness will be grateful that you caring enough to include them in the planning of Halloween. If you love to get the bejeezus scared out of you, there are plenty of places to go and things you can do. Maybe stop a moment the next time your heart is in your throat with shock, and remember that some people with mental illness feel this sensation on a regular basis, and it isn’t much fun.

Be a good friend, have fun, and enjoy Halloween!

I Made Keto Cauliflower Mash

Chicken thighs roasted in satay sauce and cauliflower mash

I made keto cauliflower mash and it was a waste of perfectly delicious cauliflower. I followed the instructions from a few different recipes; steaming the cauliflower, adding salt and pepper, butter and cream cheese, blending it with a hand stick blender, and it looked great, most importantly not runny. Runny is apparently the devil of cauliflower mash.

Doesn’t the food in the photo look great? I mean apart from that piece of chicken at the top looking like a choc chip cookie, it looks like a potentially delicious meal.

My family liked it and I got requests to add it to the rotation, as we say in my family, but I found it mealy, grainy, and the flavour wasn’t cheesy and it wasn’t like cauliflower. It was a disappointment to me.

Maybe next time I make the mash, I’ll put it in my bullet blender. I don’t want to end up with a puddle of mash, though. These are the trials of the keto diet; grainy mash or a puddle of mash.

I’m fussy about my food, I know that, and being on a keto diet and intermittent fasting, I try to make sure that both of my meals each day are delicious. One unhappy dinner does not derail me, though.

Tonight I’m making lamb chops with peas and it’s hard to go wrong with that.

If you like reading books online, check out my other blog at www.rachelgracewrites.com where I’m writing my novel The Naked Ladies Writing Group, one post at a time.

Family Christmas Prep

sally canteen

Will I blog more often in 2016? I’d love to get to this day next year and find a whole lot of posts on this blog throughout the year. The consistent bloggers choose one or more days each week and are sure to blog on those days, if not more. I think this is a brilliant idea, but hey, look, a butterfly…

Yes, I get easily distracted by a new project and then forget to blog about the amazing new project. I do some fun art projects, and I get a lot out of them, they are better than therapy at times! I’d like to blog about that process, the art to health thing. It really seems to work sometimes, although not always. When I’m in my studio, with my three legged cat Luigi on the desk snuggled up beside my laptop, and my labradaughter Sally sprawled out on the floor at my feet, I feel like I can do anything; no Pinterest artwork is beyond the scope of my ‘try this’ folder.

Doing fauxbonichi journalling daily has been a real pleasure the past few months. (To see what fauxbonichi journalling is, click here to go to my art blog) I have really enjoyed sketching a little, painting a little, writing a little about each day. It’s become a habit. A good one for a change.

Today I have to go grab some things for the family Christmas I’m hosting here on Tuesday. Just a few bits and pieces. I’m drinking coffee and putting it off, really should have left early to avoid the crowds. It looks like I’ll have to go alone, which is like doing public speaking at a venue for a thousand people for those of you who do not have chronic social phobia. Sure, I can do it, but when I get home there must be hot tea, maybe an hour in bed, maybe more.

I’m very grateful for the mild Christmas weather. Cool, windy, cloudy, rainy, it all makes for lovely times when you’re not an outdoors kind of person. I’d better go jump in my little car and go shopping.

be you xx Rach

Cricket on the TV and I’m Thinking About Roller Skates

michael_before_you_go_go

Today is the first match of the cricket season. Having the test match on in the background of my day is so comforting. It reminds me of a very nice part of my childhood; dad being home for a change, watching the cricket, calling out advice to the players, shaking his head at the errors and jumping to his feet at the sixes. When dad was home watching the cricket, mum was in a good mood; we were all safe and as relaxed as we got in our crazy, chaotic home.

The running commentary of the cricket is like happy white noise, the commentators voices and the crowd response are the cues to me to look up from whatever I’m doing and take a look at the screen. Woohoo a boundary from Warner, AUS 0/12. I can even edit chapters while the cricket is on, which is great because even music with the pull of the lyrics can be a distraction while editing. Cricket is a nice background for housework as well, except vacuuming of course, because that drowns out the exciting parts.

The cricket reminds me of school sport, which I didn’t completely hate because I got to try a few different things I’d never done before like badminton, softball, tennis, bicycling, and of course my favourite; roller skating. Yes, with actual roller skates, not roller blades which didn’t exist at the time. I started roller skating with my brothers at the local rink and others. It was allowed because we were all together and therefore not in too much danger of making friendships with other people. That was the big issue for my parents, any of us becoming friends with people outside the family cult. That was a big no-no. Hang on, I didn’t say that right, it was in fact forbidden for me to have friends, even at school. But roller skating meant I got to wear cute outfits I’d never have worn otherwise, I got to talk to people outside the cult. It also meant watching music videos, skating to Michael Jackson, Madonna, Kiss, ABBA and all those great bands I had barely any access to except for the local radio station playing in the kitchen. Buying worldly music to listen to was of course forbidden.

I still have my speed skates. I haven’t worn them for over thirty years, but I can still remember exactly how free I felt skating around the rink to Wake Me Up Before You Go Go and speed skating to Take A Long Line. I was completely me in those moments, separated from all of the rules, the strict control. Those were moments when I experienced a small taste of how my future life would be, free from religion and free from the cult. Insert really big smiley face.

be you xx Rachel