Knowing When It’s Time To Seek Treatment For Substance Abuse by Rachelle Wilber.

Whether it is addiction to alcohol or drugs, deciding to seek treatment for substance abuse is never an easy decision. If it is a family member or yourself who has a problem with substance abuse, there are certain signs that will indicate it’s time to seek treatment at a qualified facility. Though it may be hard to admit, here is how you will know the time has come to admit professional help is needed.

Changes in Personality

If you have major personality changes eg you were once very outgoing but now are withdrawing from those closest to you, this can indicate you may need treatment for a substance abuse problem- you could also be struggling with depression . Another indication is if you lie about your addiction to those you love and try and keep it secret.

Financial Problems

If you are addicted to drugs, it won’t take long for this problem to result in you having severe financial problems. Whereas in the past you always had money to pay your bills, you now find yourself having to ask others to help you out financially. Eventually, you may lose your car and even your home. Seek help for your finances when you are able to- perhaps a friend of family member could help you.

Incidents with Law Enforcement

As you live with addiction, you may find that you commit crime or do things you wouldn’t normally do. This may include getting arrested for drunk driving, possession of drugs, or even more serious crimes such as theft or assault and battery. Once this cycle begins, it will worsen very quickly, which is why you should seek out substance abuse treatment as soon as possible. Drugs and alcohol can change your behaviour.

Physical Problems

When you are drinking or doing drugs regularly, this will ultimately take quite a toll on your physical health. While the most common signs may be relatively minor such as nosebleeds or eyes that are constantly red, you may also start to notice other signs. Look for signs of liver damage, increased blood pressure, or trouble breathing. Once these signs become evident, you need to get medical treatment as well as substance abuse treatment for your mental health. Look after your body as it can take a battering when you are addicted to substances.

Losing Your Job and Marriage

When substance abuse problems get very bad, your job and marriage may be at risk of being lost to you forever. You may find yourself suddenly being faced with the prospect of being unemployed and possibly divorced due to your ongoing battle with drugs or alcohol. Addiction can sadly strain relationships and make you unreliable at work too, because you are unwell and can’t get better. At that point, if you hit rock bottom, you may admit you need help for your addiction.

Taking that initial step in seeking treatment will be tough. However, doing so will enable you to get your life back on track and overcome your addiction to drugs or alcohol.

There are many places that offer specialised drug and alcohol treatment in the UK and globally. Check out Alcoholics Anonymous, Mind and Action on Addiction.

This article was written by freelance writer Rachelle Wilber.

How Can I Help An Alcoholic Or Addict Parent? by Chaye McIntosh

(image: Jon Tyson on Unsplash)

When a loved one suffers from addiction, it can have just as much of an influence on your life as it does on the addicts. This is especially true if the loved one is a parent or a close relative. Children of addicts within a family are undoubtedly the most affected by addiction. This is particularly true if the addict’s children are still growing up. Unless you’re young or elderly, it’s difficult to cope as the child of an addict. Addiction has the potential to destroy a family. A parent is a glue that ties a family together; if they are addicts, the children must mature and become the house’s adults. This can have a significant negative impact on children’s mental health.

What are the Feelings of an Addict’s Children?

Children look up to their parents as role models. Parents who become addicted to drugs or alcohol, on the other hand, are only concerned with their addiction. Understanding that addiction is an illness is crucial for children of addicts. This is because long-term substance misuse changes the chemistry of an addict’s brain. As a result of this, an addict’s brain is rewired over time as a result of their substance misuse. As a result of their addiction, addicted parents can exhibit poor judgment and decision-making, a lack of self-control, and deviant behaviour choices.

What Can Children Do to Assist Parents Who are Battling Addiction?

Drug and alcohol addiction can have both short- and long-term impacts. Substance misuse can disrupt even the calmest and most loving relationships. When family members quarrel, it becomes commonplace. The level of trust begins to erode. If a relative who consumes illegal substances acts angrily or hides their condition in secrecy, relatives may grow concerned. 

Marriages may disintegrate as a result of addiction-related changes. Communication gets more difficult as displeasure is highlighted. In addition, children often take a step back from their parents to separate themselves from them. Family members may observe their loved ones endure the negative effects of drugs or erupt into rages while inebriated. Others may notice that their relatives have lost weight and are no longer recognizable.

How Can I Help an Alcoholic Parent?

Parents are blessings, so if they are addicts you can try to help them recover- but ultimately they must accept help. Here are some of the things you can do to help them. 

  1. Be Supportive

A person suffering from drug or alcohol addiction needs the support and love of family members. They need someone who will understand what they are going through. As a child, one should make sure that you are fully aware of the supportive needs of your parent- but equally you can’t fix everything.

  1. Talk to them

Talking helps a lot. An addict thinks that everyone is trying to distance themselves from them and if your parent feels like someone is trying to talk to them- they may appreciate it. Children of addicts should make sure to spend some time with their parents, where possible and if able. It can be very difficult to see your parent struggling with addiction and can be harmful also, so you will need to weigh this up. 

  1. Encourage Addiction Treatment

Addiction treatment is the only way to treat drug and alcohol addiction. Children of addicts should be aware that to help their parents they should suggest an addiction treatment program near them. Here are some addiction treatments that you can recommend to your parents:

Telehealth addiction treatment is a new form of treatment where a patient can receive treatment while being in their own homes. So if your parent avoids or doesn’t want to leave home for addiction treatment, suggest they get Telehealth addiction treatment.

  1. Avoid Fighting with them

There is no need to fight with your parents. They are already going through a very tough time. Try to avoid any sort of confrontation with them.

  1. Make them Feel Wanted

Addicts need their children to make them feel wanted. Spend some time with them. Take them out and have a nice dinner every once in a while. 

In The End…

An addict’s brain is rewired, and quitting addictive substances is more difficult than it appears. When a person becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol, his or her brain becomes fully reliant on them to function. As a result, when addicts cut back or stop taking opioids, they may experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Because they are terrified of experiencing withdrawal symptoms, addicts are sometimes discouraged from attempting sobriety.

As much as you may despise your parent for acting the way they do and refusing to seek treatment, you must respect their decision. Simply take a deep breath and recognise that your parent is afflicted with an ailment over which they have no control.

This article was written by Chaye McIntosh. You can see more about treatment here

Surviving Trauma Makes Relationships Difficult. Self Compassion Can Help: by Taylor Blanchard

(image: Unsplash)

You sabotage your relationships when things feel too calm.

You panic when your partner goes on a family vacation, believing that they’re leaving you forever.

Perhaps you can’t stand hugs or gentle touch.

Maybe you’ve wondered to yourself: “What in the world is wrong with me?! Am I just not cut out to have close friends or a romantic relationship?”

Actually, that’s not the case! You deserve close relationships– everyone does. If you resonate with these scenarios, though, you may have some unprocessed trauma– and that trauma may be making your relationships feel like a rusty, ungreased wheel.

You’re not alone. Here’s how trauma can blow our relationships off-course, and also, how self-compassion can help to ease that struggle.

Trauma Creates Hypervigilance

Trauma is any incident that overwhelms your ability to cope (abuse, neglect, or surviving a natural disaster, just to name a few examples). These abhorrent experiences cause our brains and bodies to swirl with cortisol, also known as the stress hormone.

After a seriously traumatic event (or relationship or childhood), our cortisol levels don’t always return to baseline. Often, the nervous system creates a new baseline of heightened stress response. In short: you don’t go back to being as calm as you were before the storm. Now, you’re hypervigilant all the time. You’re always stressed, always scanning for the next attack.

Unfortunately, relationships can’t be created without vulnerability, and vulnerability can’t happen if you’re constantly scanning for attack.

You might be hypervigilant in your relationships if:

  • You feel uncomfortable, fidgety, and unsafe during social situations
  • You constantly micro-analyse everything other people say to make sure they’re not going to hurt you
  • You constantly micro-analyse everything you say to make sure you don’t say anything “wrong”

Aversion to Intimacy

Trauma, and the excess cortisol it triggers, also creates an aversion to physical closeness. When we’re stressed  (i.e., when our cortisol is on full blast), our nervous systems naturally resist being touched.

Do you find yourself shrinking away from hugs? Do you feel an urge to run away when someone gently touches your arm? That’s likely a trauma response.

Of course, if you’ve experienced assault or physical or sexual abuse, this is a double whammy. Since your trauma came from physical touch, your brain has registered any physical touch as dangerous– on top of your increased baseline level of cortisol. Of course you’d feel sick at the thought of a hug! If this sounds like you, go extra easy on yourself if you struggle with relationships; this struggle isn’t your fault.

So, This Sucks… How in the World Do I Heal?

Yes, it sounds bleak. If this is you, you may feel hopeless. I’m with you; I’ve been there. It’s not hopeless, though. This is healable.

Therapy: Do I Even Have to Say It?

Yes, healing this will probably require trauma-informed therapy. You’ll be surprised at how fast you can begin to shift once you see a therapist who validates your traumatic experiences.

Here’s a hint: Psychology Today’s find-a-therapist tool can help you easily find a trauma-informed therapist. (Make sure to select “trauma focused” under the “types of therapy” menu.)

Now That That’s Out of the Way: Self-Compassion Comes Next

I’m 100% serious when I tell you: you deserve to go easy on yourself.

I say this with firmness, and yet, I forget to go easy on myself most days. Regardless, it helps immensely to stop comparing your relationships to other people’s relationships (both friendships and romantic relationships!).

Yes, it may likely take you longer to learn how to develop lasting relationships, both friendly and intimate. It may seem unfair that making and keeping tons of friends, as well as a life partner, comes so easily to some, while you’re struggling to simply text one person back.

Know what? It is unfair. You shouldn’t have gone through the trauma that you went through. What this means, though, is that you can recognize that you face more relational setbacks than someone who didn’t suffer the same trauma as you did. You’re starting further behind with a ball and chain tied to both feet.

Thus: you can stop comparing, and you can stop feeling like you’re “behind” somehow. Always try to recognize even your tiniest victories, even and especially the challenges which seem “easy” to other people.

Wrapping Up

Relationships make our lives juicy and sparkly, and so, if trauma has impacted your ability to form relationships (I’m with you!), then you’re probably struggling.

Try your best to go easy on yourself. You’ve been through a slog of painful experiences that, unfortunately, can make life on Earth feel like walking straight uphill all the time. Therapy helps. Self-compassion helps.

And yes, I know it’s tiring, but there is help for you out there. Just keep going.


Taylor Blanchard is a freelance mental health and wellness writer for hire. Her lived experience and extensive knowledge on mental health, emotional wellness, and spirituality guide her to create deep, compassionate blog posts, which she hopes will help people to feel less alone in the world. Self-care for Taylor looks like staring at the sky, drinking cacao while listening to metal, or cuddling with her rescue Pitbull mix.

Building Trust in a Relationship: Steps You Can Take

Image courtesy of Pexels CC0 License

In a relationship, distrust may spread like flames in an inferno if not carefully contained. Trust, from both sides, is the very foundation of a relationship, and if that is broken, it can be very difficult to stay on an even keel. Here, we look at how you can build trust in a relationship and fix it if it is broken. 

#1 Be open about how you feel and express your vulnerability

If you require reassurance from your partner, and are in a safe, healthy relationship, express your need for it. Tell them if you are experiencing feelings of insecurity. Engage them in getting to know you, how they make you feel, and how you would like to make them feel as well. Be honest with yourself and with them about your goals, anxieties, and ambitions.

#2 Give your partner the benefit of the doubt and assume their intentions are good

They may not have done it on purpose – people make mistakes all the time, and they may not have meant to upset you. Do not automatically assume that they are trying to upset you; it is acceptable to raise concerns about their motives, but be open to the possibility that they made a minor mistake.

#3 Communicate and talk through your issues

Spend some time each day checking in with one another and talking through any problems that you have. It is easier to deal with problems when they are smaller rather than letting them build into something bigger. Approach it from the ‘I’ rather than the ‘you’. 

#4 Recognise that the past may influence how you feel

Consider the following: Is your lack of trust a result of your partner’s actions, your own fears, or a combination of the two? Always be on the lookout for unsolved issues from your previous relationships that may be causing mistrust in the present. If it is something that your partner has done in the past, perhaps cheating, for example, consider talking to an infidelity therapist to help both of you come to terms with the issues and overcome them. 

#5 Listen to your partner and their perspective

Take a look from their perspective. Ask them how they feel and how did they perceive this situation? What are their thoughts on the situation? What emotions did it elicit in them? What was their personal reaction to this? Sometimes looking at it from their perspective and considering their feelings can help you to deal with the problem more objectively. 

#6 Trust your gut feelings

There is an awful lot to be said about trusting our gut instincts and paying attention to red flags that pop up. If your gut is telling you something is wrong, pay attention and do not let it fester. If you do not deal with it, it will continue to grow and destroy the relationship. There could be a simple explanation, or your feelings might be completely right. Either way, confirmation is always better. 

Trust is the very fundamental of a relationship. Without it, there can be no relationship. Work through these tips and you will be able to build the trust that you have.

This article was written by a freelance writer.

Feeling Lost? Ease the burden by Handling your Divorce and your Mental Health: by Brooke Chaplan

(image: online)

Events in 2020 put a great deal of pressure on relationships and many marriages didn’t survive. If yours is folding or has already collapsed, do your best to treat yourself and your former spouse as fairly as possible. Focus on the safety and security of all, and make sure to give children the most caring and logical structure possible.

Prioritise Safety First

If either adult in the relationship is abusive in any form, including physically, financially, sexually, or emotionally, the first step must be to get them out of the house. Even if they continue to choose that behaviour, getting them out of the space where your children live will reduce the risk of further damage. Additionally, counselling for all parties should be sought.

The abuser may resist therapy. Talk to a family law specialist about supervised visits if they refuse to seek counselling.

If you can create an abuse-free space as a couple, you have a chance of handling your divorce as fairly as possible. Divorces can be emotionally draining for everyone involved, so it is important to control the situation in order to prevent potential problems in the future.

Be Smart About the Money

Too often, angry people set out to financially sabotage their ex. Ultimately this serves nobody, especially if you have dependent children in the household. To get to a better place in your mind and heart about this, you and your spouse may need to sit down and put together a budget for two households.

If you can’t make the numbers work on paper, you may need to make a different choice. For example, perhaps you could move into separate rooms and continue to maintain one household for a time. This isn’t ideal, but it can make it possible to avoid conflict while you make financial adjustments. It can also prevent the spread of your family’s environmental impact. Of course, you should not agree to any ideas that you are not comfortable with. Reaching an agreement that you are satisfied with will help make it easier to move on emotionally.

Stay Friendly

It’s hard not to resent your spouse as you work through the divorce process. This unfriendliness can force your loved ones to take sides. If you need to vent with a friend or talk to a therapist, do so. Having someone to talk to during your divorce can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed. However, forcing family and friends to take sides in your battle will probably not be healthy for any of you in the long run.

Divorce can be the toughest decision you’ll ever make. However, it can also be one of the best choices for you and your children. Be smart and do your best to keep your and your children’s best interests in mind.

This blog was written by Brooke Chaplan, freelance writer and regular contributor

5 Ways a Relationship can Hurt your Mental Health by Miranda Davis

(image: free image)

The Adverse affects of relationships on mental health

Relationships have the power to affect mental health negatively. If you don’t know how they can affect you, it’ll be hard to lay down a great foundation to ensure you don’t fall victim. Take a step to lay down the rules for a positive relationship.

What if we told you that your relationships have the power to affect mental health? It’s true; your relationship status can affect mental health. But, finding out how relationships affect mental health isn’t a simple mathematical equation. There’s a lot more that has to go into it, and to be honest, it’s complicated. 

Relationships Have The Power To Affect Your Mental Health

Fact: We all desire to have real connections through stable, long-term relationships with our “ideal partners.” Whether you meet a potential partner after checking out the best dating sites review or through a mutual friend doesn’t matter. What we think about most is the optimism and the excitement we feel once we click with someone else. We never stop to consider what can affect the mental health of the people in a relationship.

Unfortunately, even the most glamorous relationships come with associated risks and can affect mental health. To affect mental health positively, there have to be some previously laid out rules that lay the groundwork for a great relationship.

Without knowing what these boundaries are and the risks associated with a relationship, we are prone to unknowingly affect our mental health. So, what relationship factors affect mental health negatively? Read on to find out.


Lack Of Sex Can Increase Stress Levels
Well, well, this shouldn’t be so surprising. If you’re wondering, “can loneliness affect your mental health?” here’s your answer. When you have an intimate partner within your vicinity, chances are, you will have frequent sex. The bonds created during the act of bonding are so outstanding that they have the power to affect your mental health. 

Frequent sex can lead to greater satisfaction with your relationship. If there’s less sex, then other aspects of the relationship are affected too. The less sex you have, the more prone you are to affect mental health.

Stress levels will soar, and you’re more likely to exaggerate aspects such as financial disagreements, responsibilities over chores, and parenting disputes. While there may be other underlying issues, lack of sex and intimacy is an undeniable factor that can affect both partners’ mental health.

Relationship Difficulties Can Cause Anxiety

Whenever couples are having relationship difficulties, there’s bound to be full-blown anxiety. Unfortunately, the converse is also true. Anxiety can lead to marital problems. Surprisingly, some research suggests that marriage can protect you against anxiety. Confusing, right?

Well, it depends on how you look at it. For marital issues to affect mental health negatively to the point that they cause anxiety, there have to be underlying issues that aren’t resolved. Problem-solving in a relationship has to be done in a way that allows both parties to express their feelings to deal with matters conclusively.

Once an issue is dealt with, both parties become anxiety-free and display better mental health. On the other hand, married people have potential “shoulders to cry on,” and this kind of emotional support is a great way to affect mental health positively.

Sleeping Problems

Unless your partner snores and keeps you awake through the night, sleeping next to them can help you fully relax during the night. But it isn’t that simple. If there are conflicts or insecurities in the relationship, you will have a more inadequate sleep because of thinking through issues during the night.

This, in turn, escalates problems such as insomnia or daytime fatigue. As a result, there’s a vicious cycle with leeway to affect the mental health of both parties negatively.


Social Pursuits Affect Mental Health

Many people wonder, “why does quarantine affect mental health?.” Couples in healthy relationships have to socialise. Socialising is a great way to boost mental health positively. Leisure time may include meeting family and friends, visiting their favorite restaurant together, or even spending the weekend sampling the latest nightclubs.

However, since there are limited opportunities to get so involved during quarantine, spending more and more time without socialising with other people can take a toll on the relationship. When couples spend time socialising, there’s more opportunity to improve their mental health positively.

Since humans are social creatures, we feel better when we make connections with others. But, even this shouldn’t be excessive. Too much can result in alcohol dependency and self-destructive behavior, which has the potential to affect mental health negatively.


Toxic Relationships Can Lead To Physiological “Fight Or Flight” Responses

Toxic relationships can lead to physiological responses that may urge you to either run from the stressor or fight it. These are common reactions that stem from mental, physical, or emotional abuse. Regardless of the stressor we face, we condition our minds to respond. These kinds of reactions leave us feeling drained and have the potential to create poor mental health. 

Conclusion

Whether we like it or not, relationships can affect mental health either positively or negatively. Their effects are worse if they’re negative. To ensure that relationships don’t have a platform to affect mental health negatively, you have to take the necessary precautions to safeguard yourself against negative repercussions.

What do you think is the COVID effect on mental health? What precautions would you put in place to protect your health?

Author’s bio:  

Miranda Davis is a freelance writer in the relation and psychology area. Miranda is interested in such topics as building healthy relationships between people, love/sex compatibility, and how to find the right balance in life in general. She is currently doing specific research on the topic. Miranda loves cooking and long-distance walking.




How to deal with a Breakup when you have OCD: Guest blog by Brooke Chaplan

iamenoughnew

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Your OCD symptoms may be triggered by situations that feel out of your control, and breakups can easily throw your life into a tailspin. On top of dealing with the hurt that comes with ending a relationship, you may also be dealing with serious anxiety about what your future holds. This is especially true if you find yourself blaming yourself for your flaws and inadequacies and holding yourself solely responsible for the breakup. These tips will help you begin to heal by dealing with your breakup in healthy ways that allow you to see this as an opportunity for growth.

Stick to Your Wellness Plan

The first thing that you need to do is practice self-care. Although your heart may be too broken to want to get out of bed, it is important to follow your normal daily routine. Exercise helps to release endorphins that make your symptoms more manageable. Eating a healthy diet also helps to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and OCD. Following your wellness plan sends signals to your brain that you will overcome this temporary life event. It’s important to know that while exercise and self-care will not cure either your mental illness or your broken heart, it will strengthen your body and give you the tools you need to handle the strain.

Seek Advice About the Future

When you have OCD, the realization that you have no idea of what will happen next can make your symptoms worse. Seeking relationship advice that addresses your current circumstances along with how they influence your future gives you a sense of control. Talk to a therapist, counselor, spiritual guide, religious leader, or family member. This advice can then be used to begin putting together a new life plan that helps you feel confident and mentally strong.

Find Healthy Distractions

Once you know that the future is bright, you can begin finding ways to overcome your pain in the present moment. Explore new hobbies and set goals that help you build for your better future while also avoiding the tendency to obsess over the past. Try taking a class or doing an activity that you’ve always wanted to explore. You’ll feel stronger and more excited about what the future has in store.

Take Note of Your Progress

During your breakup, you can expect to experience some high and low moments. When you feel down, try to recognize how much progress you’ve made. For instance, you might have made a new friend who helps you get through this rough patch. You might have managed to avoid checking your ex’s social media pages. These little signs of progress mean that you are moving forward, and recognizing them helps you see that the breakup truly is a chance to grow. Remember to not beat yourself up over slipping up. It is likely that an emotional moment like this could bring up past compulsions and obsessions you thought you had gotten over. This does not mean you have failed or somehow destroyed your past progress, because progress is not linear.

Your relationship might be over, but you can use this moment as an opportunity for personal growth. When you feel like your OCD symptoms are taking over, reach out to people who care. Soon, you’ll have this whole painful event behind you and be looking at the future with a positive perspective.

If you need further support, speak to your therapist doctor or psychiatrist.

 

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most of her time hiking, biking, and gardening. For more information, contact Brooke via Facebook at facebook.com/brooke.chaplan or Twitter @BrookeChaplan

‘The Meaning of Normal’: Living with a sibling with mental illness : Guest post by Shira

mayaangelou2

(image: Thought Clothing)

It hasn’t been normal for so long that sometimes I forget what normal should feel like. When I try to think about it, it feels like a glimpse into someone else’s life, and I am an invasive stranger, trying to reach something that doesn’t belong to me.

What is normal?

Sometimes I think I remember it.

Sometimes I think that normal is that time when I was six and you were three and we didn’t fight. When we played hand in hand like every other child, and our entire world was pink and purple, and the most important thing to us was that our dolls had shiny blonde hair.

And we would play every game under the sun, from barbies to dollhouse to the convoluted imaginary ones that only we knew the rules to, and even then did we ever really know the rules?

I was a witch and you were the princess. We were both witches. We were both princesses. I stole your magic time machine but you found another one, and our living room became the entire universe as we ran through it, believing wholly in the pictures we created, the way that only children can.

But did we ever really exist like that? Were we ever those idyllic children, the children that every parent wishes to have?

Maybe our normal is all the times when I was ten and you were seven and we would push and shove and slap. You were my younger sister who could do no wrong and I was the older one, always blamed for both our shares of misdemeanours.

“You should know better!” They would shout

“But she started it!” I would pout.

“It’s not true!” your bottom lip would stick out.

I think we all know that I probably did start it.

We would fight and yell and cry and shout, never giving in, never admitting that we were wrong. Because we weren’t wrong. We were both right, all the time, every time, and the other was always painfully mistaken. And we roared and yelled and scratched each other, but knew only to cry when a parent was looking. And if nobody was looking, well then nobody would see if we punched back just one more time.

But were we ever really like this? Two demonic screaming children who were never silent and never content with just each other? Were we really the children that every parent dreads to have?

Maybe our normal is the way we grew apart as we grew older. When I was 15 and you were 12 and I would pretend not to know you as I walked past you in school. And maybe our normal is the way we would come home from the same school at the same time separately, both of us walking different routes from the bus because being seen with one another would be unacceptable. Maybe that’s what all teenagers do. Maybe that really was our normal.

Maybe our normal was what came next.

Maybe the years we didn’t talk to each other was what we were always heading towards. Because one day we would put down the dolls, and one day we would run out of things to fight about and we would just…exist.

One next to the other.

Sitting in silence.

Neither speaking.

Neither bothering to reach out first.

Because now I’m 18 and you’re 15 and I don’t remember the last time I spoke to you. The house is thick with anger, so thick that it poisons every interaction, and I couldn’t even tell you what I’m angry about. Because the sister I played with, the sister I happily fought with but would jump on anyone else who dared fight with her is in pain. So much palpable pain, and for the first time I couldn’t just make it go away.

Was I angry with you?

Yes.

Was I angry with myself?

Yes.

And so I let this become our normal. A normal where two siblings exist side by side, but don’t even know how to speak without offending. Where everything I say hurts you and everything you say angers me.

So we made this our new normal.

And I don’t care.

I don’t care.

I don’t.

I care.

And now I’m 20 and you’re 17 and I’m 3000 miles away. But this is our normal now. We don’t speak. We can’t speak. But it doesn’t even matter because there’s nothing to speak about anymore. How can I ask how you are when I already know the answer, and I know it’s not an answer I want to hear. How can you ask how I am when you’re too focused on making it through your own day without worrying about mine?

And anyway, it’s been a long time since we told each other how our day was. Not since I was 14 and you were 11 and we would awkwardly walk home from the bus stop together, backpacks moving up and down and up and down as we compared notes about school, neither of us loving it, neither of us willing to admit that out loud.

But we are not those children anymore, and we don’t have any shared experiences to talk about anymore.

I wonder if you miss me like I miss you. I wonder if you count down the days to my birthday too, hoping that we will both make it past 17 and 20, willing time to hurry up even though maybe all I really want to do is turn back the clock.

And then you are 18, and it’s been 18 years since I sat by your tiny cradle in the hospital and cried when we left, maybe because I wanted another chocolate bar from the hospital vending machine, or maybe because secretly I don’t want to leave my baby sister in a cold hospital far far away.

But now you are 18 and I’ve still left you in a hospital far away and it’s still just as hard to leave you there as it was all those years ago. But a 21 year old can’t lie down on the floor and have a tantrum so I keep going and keep going and this is our normal now.

A normal where you’re there and I’m here. A normal where we won’t speak for months on end but then I text you and tell you I miss you and now you answer me too, and I think you miss me too. A normal where we joke and laugh at stupid posts we see on Instagram,  tentatively, both of us till remembering when you were 14 and I was 17 and we ripped each other apart with words until neither of us said anything at all. Is this our normal now?

What is normal?

I looked it up for you.

 

NORMAL:

  • Conforming to a standard, usual, typical, or expected

 

But who gets to decide what that standard is? How do we know when something that once wasn’t normal now is, and if what was once normal is now anything but? Do we decide that? Or do others who stand by and watch get to decide that for us?

I’m sure someone could tell you the scientific answer. I’m sure there is a video out there with a detailed and meticulous answer laid out for us to study.

I’m sure somebody could tell us the answer. Maybe we haven’t even been normal, maybe we always were.

Maybe the imaginary games of our childhood were always meant to turn into imagined grievances causing real rifts. Maybe we were meant to grow apart and then come back together again, a little rougher but a little kinder. Maybe none of it was normal, or maybe all of it was.

Sometimes I wish I could change all of it. If I hadn’t said what I said that one day, or if I hadn’t slammed my door that one time, or if you hadn’t called me that name under your breath, things would all be different now.

But sometimes I know I can change none of it. And maybe that’s ok. Maybe if we hadn’t played all those games as children, if we had never walked down the road together from school, if I had never sent the texts you eventually answered, things would all be different now.

Normal isn’t for us to decide, it isn’t for me to determine. All I know is our normal is all we have, and I wouldn’t change us for the world.

About:

Shira is a writer living in Israel, drawing on every day life experiences. Her sibling lives with a diagnosed mental illness and she has bravely shared their story here.

 

 

 

How to reduce Stress and maintain Mental health during a Divorce: Guest blog by Luci Larkin at Woolley&Co

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(image: https://sasforwomen.com/divorce-quotes-inspirational/)

Going through a divorce or relationship breakdown can be one of the most stressful situations a person can find themselves in. You lose your friend, partner, confidante and have to adapt to living as a single person, often as the primary carer of children. 

This is a time of extreme and mixed emotions made more complicated by the stresses and worries of legal and financial considerations as well as having to support and counsel any children that may be involved and suffering too.

With mental health problems on the rise and divorce being listed as one of the leading contributors, Luci Larkin from Family Law Solicitors, Woolley & Co, explains how you can reduce stress during such a turbulent time in your life.

“If you have decided your marriage is over you will most probably want to make the whole process of divorce as painless as possible. Contrary to public perception not all divorces have to involve outright war leaving a trail of destruction and despair.

Every individual going through a relationship breakdown will deal with this in their own way. Some prefer to carry on as though nothing has happened, others find it cathartic to talk to someone about their problems.”

It’s fair to say that anyone going through a separation or divorce is going to experience a series of emotional stages post-breakdown. These could range from anger and depression to fear and frustration. All perfectly normal feelings and reactions to an emotionally difficult situation. It’s important to recognise these feelings but to try and stay positive. 

Sometimes the support of friends and family is enough to see a person through, others may need more help such as counselling or medical advice.

With the right divorce lawyer you should be able to resolve a divorce sensibly enabling you and your children to move on with your lives in the most amicable and constructive way.” 

So what is the secret? 

Divorce lawyers’ tips for a less stressful divorce

Luci explains, “As tempting as it is to take advice from your best friend or the “know it all guy” in the pub it’s really important to seek proper professional advice. Couple this with my 5 tips below:

 

  1. Talk to a family lawyer who is ideally a member of Resolution committed to resolving disputes in a non-confrontational way.
  2. Listen to the professional advice given to you and try to act upon it. Always negotiate before you litigate. Compromise is the essence of any agreement.
  3. Inevitably there will be disagreements with your spouse but try to keep emotions under control and avoid verbal abuse and threats. This will simply lead to them becoming difficult and inflexible. You do not want a war.
  4. Try to avoid involving the children or using them as a pawn. They are innocent in this situation and they will need the love and support of both parents. Ideally sit down and agree a parenting plan.
  5. Think about timing. You may have been thinking about a divorce for years whereas your partner may only have received the news a matter of weeks ago. Expecting your spouse to discuss future living arrangements at a time when they are still reeling from the news that you want to end the marriage, may be unrealistic. You might have to slow down for a while, be patient, and wait until they are ready to move things forward.”

Whilst getting a divorce is clearly not an ideal situation it does not have to be a time consuming, stressful, unpleasant money pit.

Sensible advice coupled with calm cooperation can help to ensure the experience is as painless and cost effective as possible but more importantly that you and your children can move forward with your lives in the best possible way.

Luci is an experienced and approachable divorce and family solicitor with Woolley & Co, based in Barnet, Greater London.  Her working mantra is to establish what clients want and move towards achieving that outcome as quickly and as cost-effectively as possible. 

 

Royal family launches Shout UK- a Mental health crisis text line: Guest blog

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Be Ur Own Light is supporting the incredible initiative from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Sussex- Shout UK, a new text support line in the UK for people in mental health crisis- anyone who is struggling. They have teamed up with Crisis Text line to reach vulnerable people.

I feel privileged to live in a country where stigma is beginning to fall and where mental health issues are beginning to be understood better. Texting would have helped me as an ill teenager with bipolar!

Shout are looking for volunteers too to man the text lines as crisis counsellors.

Thank you to the Duke and Duchesses for the incredible profile they are giving mental health. #GiveUsAShout