Category Archives: mental health, well being, depression, PTSD, healing

Experiencing Life!

Over the last week, I’ve been on a wild adventure to Australia! It’s so amazing here! I worried about the 15 hour flight but I managed it alright. I meditated, read, listened to music, and slept most of the way. I was also sneezing a lot. When we got to Australia, I was sneezing and my nose running almost nonstop so I had to pop antihistamine medication. I was just a freaking nose of a wreck! Knowing I have severe allergies and even allergies back home, I wondered if this was even a good idea! I worried I would not adapt to the environment here in Australia.

However, after two days, the owner of a cottage we rented, told me to try the local honey. She said the local honey should help with allergies. I had no idea where I would get some local honey, but she offered to get me some. She brought over 1/3 cup of honey. I took a couple of spoonfuls. It didn’t work right away. I went to bed tired and still sneezing. I also took another antihistamine because I didn’t know if the honey would work. The next day, I woke up to no sneezing and no running nose! I took another large spoonful of honey just for good measure. Literally, over night, walla, I went from sneezing around everything to nothing! I was so amazed at this wonderful turn around! I didn’t have to carry boxes of tissue paper with me everywhere. Hehe.

One day, I was walking through the forest looking for wallabies, koalas, and birds when I suddenly was very emotional. I’m a very emotional person, and highly sensitive. I was filled with gratitude that I had healed from my mental disorders. Years ago, as many of my readers know, I had very severe depression, anxiety, PTSD, and a dissociative disorder. I was a mess. My life revolved around medications, therapy, and doctor’s appointments. I was on so many medications, I was like a zombie. There’s no way I would have gone on a trip like this. I was also very fearful. Just the flight alone, I would have had to be medicated with extra anti-anxiety pills. I had child alter personalities that would have presented and been very scared and crying. People would look at me strangely and wonder why I was acting this way. I just didn’t go many places during a very dark period of my life. Anyway, I suddenly said to my husband, “I’m so glad I healed because I can take trips like this now!” It’s not that I couldn’t experience life, it just took a lot more effort, and it was very stifled.

It was many years ago that I got better, but I still marvel and am amazed at the wonders of my new life. Since I got better, I’ve taken many trips around the U.S. I went to Canada one summer, and now we’re in Australia. What’s next? Oh we’re definitely coming back here again. Two weeks is just not enough time to take it all in but just the experience of being here, taking in new sights, experiencing another culture, and way of life has been absolutely exhilarating. The more I take in life, the more I experience life, the more I want to take in life and the more I want to experience it! Life is truly amazing and it’s a wonderful gift. I love myself by taking in more life. I intend to make the rest of the years of my life, the best years of my life!

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New Year, New Choices

Today, while walking down the street, I saw someone who looked like one of my former Psychiatrists. I smiled as i walked by the person and inwardly felt a great sense of wonder and gratitude as I recalled all that I had overcome. It’s been about 7 years since I took my last psychotropic medication. I used to take antipsychotics, antidepressents, antianxiety medications, including Adderall, a stimulant! I was a huge mess! I took these prescribed medications for nearly two decades. I was a typical mental patient, I had a Case Manager, and I also had Severe Mental Illness status due to numerous suicide attempts.

Today, I’m an entirely different person. I’m no longer plagued by debilitating anxiety, triggers, depression, and suicidal ideation. It was a long road but I am happy to be where I am today. I was like a zombie back then, though. Now, I just blissed out on meditation and positive energy! I had someone tell me that I probably wasn’t really crazy (and I wasn’t), but that I was just misunderstood. I looked at him oddly because he has no idea where I used to be. It’s easy to understand this mentality because I am not who I used to be, at all.

Over the years, I faced my fears, I faced my trauma, I faced my feelings, I learned skills training, and did lots of grief and processing work to get to where I am today. I am not saying that everyone is going to do it the way I did it, but this is how I did it for me. A huge part of it was learning to love myself, talk therapy, meditation, writing, and also letting go of lots of fears.
There’s nothing to be ashamed of if you are taking any type of medication that helps you to function. Don’t let that trip you up. I know it bothered me for a very long time. Not only that, but I was expected to be on the psychotropics for the rest of my life! Well, I’m not on them and I’m just fine. I’m not suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD or any other mental illness symptoms. I’m just me.

I’ve always been quiet and reserved. I’m very introspective and like to daydream. I don’t do life the way other people do it, and there’s nothing wrong with my version of reality. I’m a very sensitive person and sometimes this is mistaken as weakness or weak willed. I’m not that either. I have a tender heart and have no intention of changing it. I’m not going to toughen up, I’m not going to grow thicker skin, I’m going to keep on being gentle, kind and sweet, especially to me! Loving yourself is the greatest gift you can give to yourself and is the beginning to creating a new you, a new life, and new possibilities. Love yourself!

This year, I’m planning to release my second book. (My first book is called, “Dear Sophia, Love Yourself!”) It’s going to have more details than my first one, and will be about my spiritual awakening as I was healing from mental illness. It will be about overcoming a lot of fears, learning to meditate, and use metaphysical tools, like crystals, for my healing. Yes, it will be a lot of woo-woo stuff, and I’m here to tell you it’s not crazy; it’s empowering and liberating! I’m excited for the next phase of my journey, and the positive things I’m bringing into life this year.

This all represents personal choices that I made over the years to assist in my healing by changing my thoughts about illness, learning to master myself, and live consciously every minute. Sometimes I do have ups and downs which is the nature of human life, I just don’t stay down. I learn my lessons and get back up. There’s no shame and blame, I am responsible for what I do with this precious gift of life I’ve been given. Happy new year everyone!

Dental Woes

Today’s blog is in support of mental health awareness month!  I recently went to the dentist to get a crown.  I have a love/hate relationship with dentists.  I love to have my teeth looking nice and shiny but I know over the years I have had very poor dental care.  Some of my dental problems stem from neglect growing up that continued into my adulthood.  I also didn’t care for my teeth because I was not always mentally aware that I even needed to!  I was very severely mentally ill for a while.  I took Wellbutrin, Zoloft or others, Zyprexa or other antipsychotics, Adderall and Armour thyroid.  I was on some heavy duty medications!   I had a steady cocktail of psychotropics that involved two antidepressants, an antipsychotic, a stimulant and my thyroid medication.  I was like a zombie basically.

When I went to the dentist, it always because I was in some dental pain, I would not intentionally seek out dental care otherwise.   On all of the forms, at the dentist office, they ask if you are now or ever been treated for a psychiatric disorder.  I always answered truthfully.  I could never figure out why they needed to know this.  They even asked if you had ever been in a psychiatric hospital.  Why do they need to know this?  What difference does it make?  I need my teeth fixed.  They’d even want to know the dates you were hospitalized.  I was always a bit embarrassed to admit all the meds I was taking and the different hospitalizations.

There came a time, when I was no longer on psychotropic medications.  I was healing.  I didn’t need them anymore.  I didn’t even have a psychiatrist.  I was still in therapy but I was well into recovery.  I had some dental pain so I scheduled a dental appointment.  I didn’t have a regular dentist so I had to call around to find one on my plan who could see me ASAP.  I found one, they took the xrays and assessed what was going on in my mouth.  I needed a lot of work done and I was in horrific pain.

However, the dentist saw that I had been a psychiatric patient.  She asked about why I wasn’t on medications.  I told her I didn’t need them anymore.  She said I had to get clearance from a psychiatrist before I could have the dental work done.  I was beside myself.  I told her I didn’t even have a psychiatrist, and sometimes it can take more than a month to get in with one!  She informed me there’s a special place for people like me to get dental help.   People like me?  People with former mental illness or someone you think is not in their right mind because they have a history of mental illness?

I still get sad when I recall this story because this is the plight of people with mental illness.  They get looked at funny or judged and misunderstood.  People with a mental illness are still people, they are worthy of dignity and respect from all health care providers.   No matter what healing modality you are serving, remember these people are special, they are sensitive, and need your services.  I went to another dentist.  I also found a psychiatrist who gave me clearance for the dental treatment.  She did offer an anxiety medication that is commonly prescribed for people, whether they have mental illness or not, who fear seeing the dentist.

Believe it or not, I do not have major depression with psychotic features anymore.  I do not have post traumatic disorder anymore.  People do heal.   There’s no reason to treat someone as if they are going to be mentally ill for the rest of their lives just because they had a mental illness at one time.  Even if I did have a mental illness, there’s no reason to treat me like I’m a freak, or crazy, or like I’m just a lost cause.  I healed.

Conscious Living

Years ago, I was in a support group for people who had suffered various childhood traumas.  I had severe depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder.   Frequently, we’d all share how we spiraled down due to the negative voices going on inside.  One woman, called the voices, “The committee.”  The committee would call her names.  The committee would say she’s ugly, not trying hard enough, a failure, dirty, embarrassing, unlovable, evil, unworthy, and so on.  We all were fighting our own negative messages.   To a certain extent, everyone has to fight negativity, even those who don’t have a mental illness or have not been abused.  We each have a shadow side to contend with.

Since I have healed from my mental illness, I have learned to live consciously, and  set up a new committee in my head.  This committee tells me to keep going when I feel like giving up.  This committee reminds me I am loved, I am beautiful, worthy, and I am strong when I start to feel otherwise or life is getting me down.  This is the beauty of living consciously, I set my own messages and I disregard any that do not agree with me nor serve my highest good.  Any messages now, that brings me down, they’re instantly tossed away.  In doing so, I don’t spiral down.  I use the positive committee, instead, to spiral up!

This is the essence of conscious living whether you are struggling with mental health issues, negative influences or messages from relationships and society in general.  There is negativity all around, but I don’t let it bring me down, instead I consciously choose where my thoughts will go, because thoughts direct our actions.    It means I’m choosing where I go, who I spend my time with, what programs on TV that lift me up and which ones take me down.  It’s choosing what I eat, where I live, and what I breathe!  There clearly are negative influences in this world and then there are the lifegiving ones.  I choose the lifegiving ones that support me, my lifestyle, my personality, and quirks.  Remember, there is always a choice to react to negativity or respond with grace and compassion.

So when the dark clouds come, and sometimes they do, I listen to my new committee, who I sometimes call my higher self, my inner self or soul.  I listen to the voices that give hope, life supporting and ultimately leads to my freedom from darkness, and into the light.  I spiral up, instead of down.    Another aspect of conscious living, is trusting in my heart.    When I’m sad and feeling unlovable and unloved, I place my hand on my heart.  I feel it beating, and tune into it  The heart knows a lot more than my mind.  My heart’s message is, “You are loved.” “You are worthy.” “ You are strong.”  “You are enough!”  “Love yourself!”  As I love myself, I spiral up even higher!  Live consciously by loving yourself, and trusting your heart.

Depression’s Effects…

The topic of suicide has come up a lot lately. A couple of years ago, when I started writing, I told myself I wouldn’t write about it. I decided it was something best laid to rest. I never wanted to revisit it. I had attempted it numerous times. Why should I be ashamed of it? There is a shame, guilt and sadness attached to it. It’s not easy to recover from it and it’s no longer my reality. However, I recently had a change of heart and decided to share a little bit on it. It’s not easy to write about it either.

In the many years I suffered from major depressive disorder, there were times when I had happy and upbeat moments but they didn’t last long. I would sink back into the reality of why I became depressed in the first place. It seemed to be a never ending spiral. I did attempt to hide my depression and PTSD from my children. I didn’t want them to have this bleak view of life. There were many good things in life to be grateful for, and I wanted them to see the bright side of life. However, they struggled just as I did to reach those bright days. On numerous occasions, I sank into very dark thoughts and in my despair just wanted to die. I would call a suicide hotline and they’d tell me all the reasons I had to live for. It sort of angered me to tell me to think of my husband or my kids or my family and friends. What if I didn’t have those people to live for, who would I live for then? I know this may sound dark, but if I were alone, would it be okay to go ahead with and suicide? Many people think it’s selfish for a person to take their life, but what if it’s selfish to ask this person to live in their dark despair? They wouldn’t want to if these other people were able to lift them up!

I could never presume to know what someone is going through in their darkest hours, that would make them want to give up because I know it’s different for each person. I do know that it’s a dark space, more like a hole that’s covered in dirt, it’s like being buried alive. There is no tunnel with a light at the end. Who would want to go there? Not many people will dare to tread the darkness searching for light. When I was in this state, I was very lost and alone. I didn’t think my wanting to die or my death would be a selfish act. I thought it would be a great relief. I thought it was an act of love and mercy for those alive if they didn’t have to see me living in this state of living death.

I really didn’t think of the pain I would cause others if I had succeeded, yet I know now, they’d be living in this perpetual state of depression and sadness. It takes a long time for someone to come out of this state though. Medication can help but sometimes it only causes it to linger longer. In my case, it wasn’t just depression but extreme anxiety that I wanted to escape from plus the memories I kept reliving. I hated having flashbacks and just wanted them to stop. I now see that the memories were there to help me heal.  Anytime, a painful memory comes up, it’s only service is to heal, ultimatly to set me free, not to shame, guilt or hurt anyone. The more I resisted these memories, didn’t face the feelings, or allow myself to grieve, get angry, or whatever, the more they persisted.

It’s not exactly something to go through alone either. It required the assistance of a therapist, counselor, understanding friends and family. It took a lot of people to walk through the valley of the shadow of death in order to get me through the other side. It takes the person who is in the light, who has hope, who knows life is worth the struggle and worth living to keep you going. It takes a lot of strength and courage to keep going when you just want to give up.

People with mental illness are not weak, they are the strongest people alive because they live with these images, voices, memories, hallucinations, and extreme emotions, yet continue anyway. They hold on to their humanity, keep breathing, keep reaching for the light, keep trying over and over again despite what life throws at them. They are a beautiful and loving reminder that people are strong, yet they are also fragile, that everyone is important, everyone has a purpose, everyone brings meaning into this world, and to treat each one with kindness.

We all have a breaking point, which is why it’s important to love yourself. If I’m tired, I rest. If I’m sleepy, I go to sleep. If I’m bored, find something fun to do. If I’m hungry, I eat. If I need to talk, find someone to listen. If I need a hug, ask someone for one. Balance my life with work, rest, and play! If I’m working and not laughing enough, find the joy. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. In fact, it’s imperative to ask for help and not try to be the lone ranger. Life is meant to be lived in community with others.  When the dark clouds descends at times, it helps to have someone who is above them.

Life is worth living and it is beautiful. Look at all of nature, it is a symbol of life, breath, and renewal despite the changing seasons and what appears to be chaos at times. I take in the breath of life each day. I allow myself to breathe deeply knowing that whatever is going on, it will pass. The seasons change. Engage in life mindfully.  Be in the moment. Do things that brings joy.  Just breathe.

Beauty of Hindsight

I don’t know how many times I have wondered, “Why did this happen to me?” I don’t know how many times I wondered why I was let go or dismissed. I thought I had done everything right and followed all the rules. I put my best foot forward, I was nice, polite, and “something else”! Yet things didn’t go as planned! What I’ve learned is many people learn their lessons in hindsight. After all, if I’d known a relationship wouldn’t pan out, maybe I never would have started it. If I had known the job wasn’t a good fit, I wouldn’t have tried it and left. Perhaps it was meant to go that way to teach me a lesson! Not many of us have the right perceptions in order to avoid seemingly “disastrous outcomes.” Yet, I believe all of these experiences are life lessons.

However, it usually takes a long time to learn the lesson when I’m resisting it. Like many years ago, I was very depressed and hurt at the way my life was going and the relationships not working out. I wondered what I had done wrong. I didn’t feel like I had done anything wrong. The more I pondered it, the more I wanted an answer, the more I stewed and couldn’t let it go. This is where the danger of falling into depression and being unable to cope comes in. Yes there were many other factors, but at the time I didn’t know how to just let go. I didn’t have the life skills, yet this exact situation was teaching them to me! Resisting, and insisting on answers caused me to lose the lesson until many years after I had finally moved on, and one day I had an “aha” moment of revelation!

I often ask myself now, when things seem to be going awry, “what is this situation trying to teach me?” Sometimes, it’s apparent and other times I need to wait. When I’m stuck in the middle of something, it’s hard to see where it’s going, and what I’m being taught. I’ve learned to be patient, compassionate, forgiving, and loving with myself so that I can continue to function and breathe without spiraling down. This in turn empowers me to give others patience, compassion, forgiveness, love and grace when they’re going through their own struggles. Once I figured out that I learn things in hindsight, I was able to love, forgive and move on.

Resistance slows the process! I had to learn to go with the flow! It takes patience, wisdom and trust in yourself, that you’re going to okay.  As I look back on my life, I see I have overcome so much, and I’m grateful for the beauty of hindsight!

Peace, love, and light!

amazon.com/author/sophiasimo

Today I’m celebrating the two year anniversary of publishing my book Dear Sophia, Love Yourself! I am going to do something celebratory even though I have no idea what right now! Lol. I am somewhat of a dreamer. The idea in my head of what I’m going to do to celebrate and reality is very different! I see myself dressed up, surrounded by friends and family, at a nice restaurant drinking champagne or sparkling cider for me since I’m
a light weight. I see us sitting around in comfortable chairs talking about the favorite story from my book. I can dream right?

Dreams are what this life is made of! Lots of things start out as a little dream. When it’s acted upon, it becomes a creation and reality. Everything I see around me started off as someone’s idea or dream. It’s interesting how it works out. I have received numerous messages of how my book inspired someone or gave them the idea to write their own stories. The messages always warm my heart.

I’m still writing, blogging, and slowly working on my second book. The heart of my book is the 2nd to last chapter called “Therapy Love.” I write about how my therapist was the biggest factor in my healing and changing my mindset. She gave me a rose quartz bracelet which was very special to me. I started buying rocks, stones or crystals as a result. I fell in love with all the colors, the uniqueness of each one, their strength, and the fragility of crystals. They remind me to love myself and others, and to not compare. We
are all unique. All the crystals shine on their own right. So do stars. They just shine, in the darkness, whether we see them or not. This is the person I choose to be today. I choose to be love, I choose to be peace, I choose to be kind and compassionate on my own. I choose to shine my light in the darkness of our world. Thank you to all my friends, family, and fans for your kindness and support. Peace, love, and light.

In The Driver’s Seat

Many years ago, I was in such a mental state that someone had to drive me to my counseling appointments. The therapist was about an hour away and sometimes it was a very distressing appointment and I was in no condition to drive home so she made a rule that someone had to drive me. I had forgotten all about that period in my life until recently when I’ve been driving people here and there, and all over the place! Suddenly, I remembered and thought, “I’m in the driver’s seat now!” It was a wonderful aha moment of recognition. Of course, I’ve been there for a while now, but something in my soul wanted me to recognize how far I have come.

There are many people who choose to ride in the back seat for various reasons. Yet, it’s important to know regardless of who is driving, you’re still in charge of your life, you still get to choose the path, and the means of getting from one place to another. Yet there are those who idly sit by and let someone else dictate what they are going to do with their lives. Maybe it’s a parent’s dream for you to be a Doctor, Lawyer or pro basketball player, but you want to have nothing to do with those things. It’s okay to choose a different path
for yourself.

I love to tell people, your past does not define who you are today. It doesn’t define who you are becoming or where you’re headed either! Everyone can choose at any moment who we’re going to be, right now, today. We don’t have to be bound to our past decisions and choices. We also don’t have to believe or do everything our parents did. It’s my life. It’s your life! Make it a good one!

The Last Straw!

Years ago, in foster care, I had a foster sister who kept cutting school and getting into trouble. She was angry and cussing out all authority figures. She had no respect for authority at all. At one point, she got a new social worker, and after a while, she got to know the new one. She ended up telling the social worker she had been raped at school. The social worker didn’t believe her at first. There were statistics of how rape victims behaved. This young lady had been raped and molested numerous times in her life. The social worker thought because of statistics, she should not be functioning as she was, she should be in the hospital, medicated or something. Well, eventually, she did believe the young lady, and sought to get her treatment.

In actuality, the young lady was very strong, but she had post traumatic stress disorder. She really didn’t think much of what happened because it had happened so many times before, she just didn’t want to put herself in that situation again so she stopped going to school. It’s a sad plight many girls,  boys, men, and women go through. Everyone is different and isn’t going to respond in the same way. We all have our breaking point. When you see people out marching, demonstrating, protesting, you gotta believe there’s a reason for it! The straw finally broke the camel’s back. There was a catalyst that may actually not have much to do with what happened to them, but believe me they are fed up with the status quo. They need justice, need to see a change, and for social systems to improve.

It’s a beautiful thing when people gather together in one voice and ask for change to happen. If you don’t see a reason for it, that’s okay, but don’t stop them. Listen to their stories, understand their point of view, and know that perhaps in little ways, they have been trying to say it for a long time, but no one heard them. At the same time, speak up for the helpless, for those being oppressed, for the hungry, for the thirsty, for the homeless, for those experiencing social injustices, and don’t wait until you just can’t stand it anymore. It’s always a good time to show empathy and wild compassion!

Aha Moments

A few days ago, I went to the store to find some aerobic dance shoes. I needed some shoes that would help me glide as I dance. Within minutes at the store, I heard over the speakers, the song, Just Dance by Lady Gaga. I laughed inside for the coincidence or synchronicity of it! I just notice these things all of the time! Everyday, I see numbers, signs, words, people engaging in various activities which relate to what I’m doing! Have you every noticed it? The things that are on our minds and hearts tend to show up! It’s not always the case, but it does happen to me a lot. I see it as a bit of divine inspiration. I also see it as my reason to make a conscious effort to watch my thoughts, and make intentional choices everyday to do what I know in order to achieve my goals, desires of my heart, and aspirations.

There are signs in creation and all around us everyday that inspire our daily lives. If I open my eyes and my heart to notice, I’ll know that I am never alone and there is always hope. Life is easy and never a reason to worry or fear. If it sounds like I’m in a bubble, you’re right! I’m in a bubble of belief and support that everything good always comes my way, I’m loved and all is well!!! Look for those synchronicities and have your own aha moments! When I started seeing them, I realized the beauty, love, and magic of life! Life is magical!