Psychosis

By Andrea Watson, February 13, 2021

We’ve all heard the word “psychotic” used in everyday language before. It’s a word that doesn’t get tossed around too often, but often enough that it is misunderstood. To be fair, many things in the world of psychology are misunderstood. Psychosis is a symptom of an underlying disorder. The disorder is usually severe and long-lasting. Examples include schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. But what exactly is psychosis like, and how can you recognize it? This is what will be looking at today. I know that my list of mental health disorders is long, and I’ve told you about several of them. But because I am officially a lifestyle blogger who focuses on mental health, I have no qualms about sharing my struggles with you. I think I’ve told you before that my official diagnosis as of right now is bipolar 2 disorder with psychotic features. At least, that’s one of my diagnoses. My case is not some outlying piece of data. It is very common for mental health disorders occur comorbidly for the individual. Some disorders just even seem to go hand in hand. So let’s go!

Recently, I accidentally went off my meds. I truly didn’t mean to this time, but then again I didn’t really make an effort to get back on them when I should have. This happens regularly, because some of the voices I deal with are convinced that my antipsychotic medication is poison and they throw it away unless it comes in the form of an injection. So every month I get a shot to keep me level. Since the covid outbreak, appointments have not been being done inside of buildings where I live. They’ve been done over the phone. It’s been very easy for me to forget a phone appointment for me or for my son or for anything. This is what happened. So I was off my meds for about a month and a half. After my injection wore off and I missed my appointment, I didn’t bother to try and get in for another injection because by that time, I was in this delusional thinking pattern that I don’t need meds to be okay, which is a huge lie.

Now, I’ve had the symptom of psychosis for many years and this is common in people who have it. In my mid twenties I had a dream that stuck with me forever. It was extremely realistic and I was going through changes in my spirituality. I was also dreaming about things that were coming true in the days following. This is a whole different subject I’m just painting a picture here. This dream was so visceral that it is still pretty much as clear as it was the next morning when I woke up. I wrote the dream down, and later I painted it on canvas. so this dream has been really important to the timeline of my life. I kind of look back on it when certain things happen because they match up in a freaky, weird sort of way. This dream has become my alternate reality.

During my last bout of psychosis, I experienced a period of time during which I thought I knew for sure what was about to happen. Specifically, war. and it just so happened that this episode of psychosis coincided with the storming of the Capitol on January 6th and the political upheaval that surrounded it. So events in real life we’re actually contributing to my delusions in a way that had never been done before. Because of this, it was different. A whole new kind of experience. I started shopping for food that I could keep without refrigeration. I bought a lot of cans. I bought emergency candles, flashlights, first aid items, and other things in preparation for the event. I even explained everything to my best friend and my boyfriend and they actually believed what I was saying. They believed that the event was about to happen as well. They started preparing too.

At this point I had no idea that I was actually psychotic. I thought I was doing just fine off my meds, because I hadn’t had any symptoms that I was aware of. I thought everything was going to be smooth sailing. But when my best friend and I did a meditation together, he told me that he thought the timeline was something that was existing in another reality and not in ours. That was the breaking point of this episode. I realized that I was in fact psychotic. And as soon as that realization hit me, I began tumbling through some sort of cycle of realities. It felt like I was being thrown around as if I was in a dryer. I would tumble through one reality not knowing which way was up, and then suddenly find myself in another one again confused and disoriented. I honestly could not tell the difference between real and not real. This lasted for a while and it made me physically ill. But I was able to use my coping strategy and call my sister, who directed me to call my provider and get in for my shot. I did this, and several days later, things went back to normal.

Psychosis is a symptom of a severe mental disorder. Is often associated with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. And bipolar psychosis, symptoms may appear during a severe episode of mania or depression. There are two types of psychosis. The first is mood congruent, meaning that the delusions are behavior reflect the person’s mood or current place in the cycle of mania and depression. The second is mood incongruent, meaning that it goes against your current mood.psychosis is not a sudden, severe break from reality as many people think it is. It builds over time. People experiencing psychosis may display decreased performance in work or school, decreased social contact, unwarranted suspicion of others, and difficulty communicating, among other things. And bipolar disorder, symptoms may include hallucinations, delusions, incoherent or irrational speech and thoughts, or a lack of awareness.

A person dealing with psychosis may not be aware that the way they are behaving isn’t consistent with what’s actually happening. The symptoms of psychosis can encompass all the senses, blinding the person to it’s very existence. Fortunately, there are ways to help someone who’s going through a psychotic episode. The list of “Do’s”:

  • Mirror the same language they used to describe their experience
  • Speak clearly and in short sentences
  • Actively listen to validate their experience, but attempt to redirect the conversation
  • Speak privately and without distractions
  • Accept it if they don’t want to talk to you, but be available in case they change their mind
  • Be mindful if they’re distressed by the experience

Don’t:

  • Talk down to the person, challenge, or “egg on” a hallucination or delusion
  • Verbally or nonverbally judge, disapprove, or argue
  • Label them with combative stereotypes such as “crazy”, “postal”, or “psychotic”.
  • Try to touch or physically move the person

Understanding psychosis can be difficult, because it is not easy to wrap your head around the concept that someone is obliviously behaving in a way that’s contradictory to reality. For more information on psychosis including some signs, risk factors, and treatment information, please visit healthline.com. until next time,

Andrea xo

What is OCD?

Why saying “I’m a little OCD” is 100% wrong

You may not like me after this. I’m going to get a little bit rough here. Have you ever been with someone and suddenly they reach over and “fix” something and then they look at you and say “Sorry, I’m just a little OCD about it.”? Yeah me too. And there’s just one thing I have to say about that: No, you are f****** not. You do not have OCD because you like all of your ice cream to be vanilla. You do not have OCD because you do your laundry in a certain way. You do not have OCD because you straightened out the centerpiece at the table during a night out. So stop saying you’re “a little OCD” about things unless you actually have OCD. It’s an ignorant and destructive statement that serves to perpetuate the stigma surrounding mental illness. Thank you.

Now, I’m sure that plenty of you do know what OCD actually is. OCD is a common, chronic disorder in which a person has uncontrollable reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and / or behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over. The thoughts are invasive, disruptive, and cause anxiety. And they just won’t go away. The behavior that is repeated over and over is a response to these thoughts. It is a real, debilitating, aggressive mental illness. OCD disrupts different aspects of a person’s life including work, interpersonal relationships, social life, worship, and other areas.

It is normal for OCD symptoms to worsen and then get better or ease up and then get worse over time. Common symptoms include fear of germs and contamination, unwanted or intrusive thoughts that involve taboo subjects such as sex, religion, or harm. Common compulsions include washing or cleaning, checking on things, and compulsive counting. These lists do not include everything that can be a symptom or a compulsion, it just outlines the most common ones.

For a person with OCD, thoughts and behaviors are uncontrollable even when they are recognized as excessive. The thoughts and behaviors take up at least an hour of every day, but the rituals don’t give the person pleasure. Rather, they offer some relief from the intrusive thoughts. The cause of OCD is unknown, but the risk factors include genetics, brain structure and functioning, and environment. it usually starts earlier with boys than girls and is most often diagnosed around the age of 19. Of course this is not hard and fast for every case. Later onset is a thing.

Treatment usually includes a combination of medication and psychotherapy. SRIs, or serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are generally used as medication for OCD. For those people who are resistant to treatment, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation can be an option to use in combination with medication and psychotherapy, as can other brain stimulation therapies. Brain stimulation therapy is relatively new, having just been approved by the FDA in 2018. So, this is an exciting time in the field of psychology for OCD treatment.

Perhaps I was a bit harsh in the first paragraph. But that’s a big “maybe” for me. As someone who suffers from mental illness, including OCD, it just butters my biscuits when people make light of it or spread misinformation. I live with the stigma every day, just as everybody else with mental illness does. I’m looked at and treated differently than a “normal” person. Even online, my presence is saturated with mental illness “vibes”. And that’s okay, because I wouldn’t be presenting myself accurately if I were to leave out the mental illness bit. Plus, I chose this platform and I want to be heard.

I’m sure we can all come up with better ways of explaining our behavior to people who are confused or off-put by it. Better yet, we could realize that we don’t need to explain our behavior to anybody in order for it to be valid. What a relief that would be! However you go about your life, I hope that it is with forward-thinking motivation and purpose. Please help crush the stigma. Until next time,

Andrea xo

“A” for Addiction

by Andrea Watson | February 4, 2021

As I lay in the tub I look over my body once, twice, thrice. Then I do it again and I wish. I wish that I was not in subjugation to a substance. I wish I had never picked up a needle. I wish I was sane. Sores cover my arms and breasts-scabbing over or oozing infection. I have large painful lumps throughout my breasts and arms as well. Spots where the dope broke through the barrier and went into my muscle instead of my vein. They’re everywhere. Bruises and track marks stand out stark against and on my skin, peppering my body with black, blue, and yellow. Every time I touch anything, sharp, oppressive pain shoots through my fingers and up to my arms. It feels like the nerve sheath has been peeled back and I am just bumping against raw nerves. It hurts to be awake. I’m in need of medical attention. I won’t get it, though. It’s too risky.

“What you need to know first is, it hurts. A lot. I am not an addict because I want to be; I’m an addict because I’m an addict”

Andrea Watson

The quote above came from a previous blog post of mine. It was my reveal to the world about what I really am. No, not what I am, but a part of me, I suppose. It’s hard to separate pieces from the whole when the whole runs your life. And with addiction, the drive is The Whole.

It is widely accepted in scientific, medical, and psychological circles that addiction is in fact a disease. This means that there is empirical evidence to support this claim. Still, it is a controversial point. Those who disbelieve or seek to discredit this claim see addiction as a weakness or moral failing. They see addicts as people who “asked for it” or “brought this on themselves”. Either way you see it, addiction is ugly. It is a type of bondage that grips an entire being and forces it down the rabbit hole to an underworld that is utterly horrific and completely inescapable. There is no obvious way out; you are forever in the pit. There will always be The Drive-that gnawing, gnashing jabberwok of a beast that lives in the back of your brain near the stem and claws its way forward to run you through the cycle like a fiend from Hell.

“It means a life of hiding, a life of pain. It means losing; sinking into some black void entirely and being swallowed up as a slave to a substance. It means saying goodbye to your humanity.”

Andrea Watson

Addiction is complex and what actually causes it is still unknown, but we know it’s a medical problem that written is in your DNA. The exact gene has not yet been identified. It is most often voluntary at first, but then something more sinister begins to develop. We can actually see the brain changing as a person uses. It begins to rebuild itself to promote continued use, thanks to the reward pathways that drug use relies on. Addiction impacts three major areas of the brain, including the stem, which controls bodily functions, the cerebral cortex, which is for executive functions, and the limbic system, which allows us to experience pleasure. The limbic system is activated and manipulated by drug use.

The chemical structures of the drugs used mimic the neurotransmitters that are naturally occurring in the brain. This interferes with the processing of neurons because it leaves excessive amounts of neurotransmitters in the synapses between neurons and prohibits normal reuptake. This affects the behavior and communication of the surrounding neurons and ultimately alters a person’s mood. The main neurotransmitter involved in addiction is dopamine. Excessive amounts of this chemical are released when a person takes the drug, causing euphoria, strong behavioral reinforcement, and compulsion to repeat certain behaviors. While this happens, the brain adjusts, reducing dopamine production and the number of transmitters that can receive it.

Photo by Artem Podrez on Pexels.com

I sit up a little too quickly and the hot water sloshes over the edge of the tub soaking the floor. I reach for the rig and, putting the tip to the surface of my skin, I slide the point into my flesh with a tiny “pop” sound. It glides into my vein and I pull the plunger back slightly. The once clear liquid in the syringe becomes saturated with red as blood curls into the back flow with the suction I created. The flag indicates it is time to push and I do so, slowly. I can feel the foreign solution burning up my arm as the thick shot disappears into my body and surges through my system. My heart pounds, pumping the drug into every cell. I can feel the heat in my face, my chest, my stomach, all the way down into every part of me. My vision blurs and my ability to hear shrinks back into my head; sound becomes small and far-away. My entire body is throbbing with pleasure- pulse quickened and pupils dilated. I am all and nothing but a heavy heartbeat in these moments, when the rush comes.

“You want to die when you’re using and then you get sober and you want to die because you’re not using; then you relapse and want to die some more because you used and you’re gonna keep using…That’s addiction.”

Andrea Watson

Most people who try drugs once or twice can just stick to having it be that once or twice. They walk away as if nothing happened, and it will just become a memory that makes them a little uncomfortable when they think about it, but it won’t have a grip on their entire life. An addict is the opposite. They try drugs once and all of a sudden, it’s like the brain recognizes a function that has been lying dormant in the genetic coding, and they walk away knowing that they’ll be back tomorrow and the next day and the next day. In the beginning, they can’t imagine to what depths the living hell of their lives will sink during their journey. But the high sends the pain away for awhile.

Signs of Addiction

The two basic qualities are:

They sometimes use more than they want to, and they continue to use regardless of negative consequences.

Definition of Addiction

According to the APA (American Psychological Association), you must meet three of the following criteria to be named an “addict”.

  1. Tolerance: using more over time
  2. Withdrawal: symptoms include shakes, vomiting, chills, sweats, emotional outbursts, and irritability.
  3. Limited control: using more than you want to or planned to, or do you regret using later?
  4. Negative consequences: do you keep using even if you are losing things like your job, family, home, self-esteem, or mood?
  5. Neglected or postponed activities: have you just put off or stopped doing things that need to be done because of your use?
  6. Significant time or energy spent: Do you spend a lot of time looking for or chasing the high? Do you think about ways to get out of trouble if it finds you because of your use?
  7. Desire to cut down: Do you sometimes think about cutting down or controlling your use?

Early stage and late stage addiction differ a bit. The functioning addict still runs their life, working, maintaining a home, and taking care of things. The late stage is the more stereotypical, media-portrayed type where the addict has lost everything and has to use every day. It is rare, but when it happens it’s devastating to the person. I have been here before.

Photo by Jimmy Chan on Pexels.com

Treating addiction is extremely difficult and can be complicated. It requires long-term, repeated treatment to get an addict off drugs and keep them drug-free. It requires the treatment of the individual as a whole, and must address all of the person’s needs, including medical, behavioral, mental, and emotional ones. A combination of medication and therapy is often used. The person should also be tested for communicable diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, and hepatitis. You should also know that addiction is more common than diabetes, occurring in roughly 10% of the population.

If you or someone you know is living with addiction, you can get help by contacting Drugabuse.com by calling 1-888-744-0069. The website has a lot of information too, if you want more. Until next time,

Andrea xo

Let’s Talk About Stoncks

Our Latest #becausefuckyouthatswhy to the System and why it’s Awesome

by Andrea Watson | January 31, 2021

You don’t have to understand the stock market to comprehend what is going on here. Everybody’s jumping on the “Eat the Rich” bandwagon lately, right? Right. Me too. But why are we attacking the stock market? Isn’t that what holds up our economy by allowing corporations to grow big and gain an advantage over competitors? Yes, that is exactly why we’re doing it. Because it props up a broken system. It is a system that has served only to keep the rich rich and the poor poor. The issue, as it stands before us today, is that the imbalance of wealth in this country is greater than it has been since the French Revolution, and people haven’t been this poor in general since The Great Depression. We are attacking the problem from the inside out, ripping at the underbelly of The Beast to spill its vital organs and take them for our own. So the question is, how hungry are you, really? I am personally ravenous.

“I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricasie, or a ragoust.”

Jonathan Swift, A Modest proposal

Today we are facing a trifecta of crises, being health, economic, and political (let’s not pretend everything is okay now just because January 6th is over). So today, the small folk are taking the economic crisis by the balls and simultaneously stoking the fires of the barbeque pit for our feast. In the U.S., there are three men who own as much wealth in billions as the entire bottom half of the American population. Let that sink in. While the Covid-19 pandemic has raged and ravaged throughout the world, billionaires are getting fatter behind their gilded gates. They are actually profiting from the ineffectual response policies rolled out by the American government. Between March 18, 2020, and January 18, 2021, U.S. billionaires saw an increase of $1.138 trillion, or a whopping 39% of the combined wealth (inequality.org). In one year. One year.

One. Year.

“The United States exhibits wider disparities of wealth between rich and poor than any other major developed nation.”

Inequality.org

How have your finances fared over the last year? Sure, we all (hopefully) received the stimulus checks issued by the government in the last 11 months or so, but was it enough to keep your rent paid? Lights on? Food on the table? Is anyone else out there scraping by on what little you can get from the food banks right now? I know I am. How many have lost their jobs, cars, or homes? How many have had to relinquish valuable assets to stay afloat? How many of us have suffered? So why not storm the gates of the billionaires’ estates or the federal reserve headquarters or the United States Capital building (Jesus Christ, you idiotic insurrectionist traitors! Yeah, we’re still fuming about that!)

We don’t do it because it wouldn’t do any good. The problem is too big, too institutionalized. It is too deeply rooted in our very essence as a country, like a brain tumor that just can’t be excised. Money has ruled our lives and indeed our very world since about 5000 b.c. (thought.com). Instead, we are all buying up the cheap “stoncks” The group of day traders who banded together to drive up the price of Gamestop stock and succeeded in costing the Big Guys about $5 billion only signaled the beginning of a movement that nearly every Little Guy can grab on to. And Little Guys are grabbing on left and right. Our primal instincts are kicking in at last. It’s our way of saying “Because Fuck You, That’s Why!” to those who are growing fatter off of our suffering, and it’s working.

To those of us who have taken up the battle cry, I say “Do not stop now, do not look back. No mercy, no surrender!” We cannot let the system fuck us out of our very survival. We gotta win this one. We are millions and they are few. They wanted unity and they got it, baby! Here we are; a wall of pissed off, feral, and frankly rabid citizens in insurmountable numbers against a few mewling hedge fund managers (taste their tears, aren’t they delicious?). We are ready and willing to cut the head off and drink the blood straight from the source. We have beaten the giants at their own game, winning our first battle in history, thanks to millennials, gen z, and the like $14 they each had in their pockets. Let’s win another. And another. And another until we can finally feed our families again.

When any type of system breaks down, whether it be the economy or the plumbing in your home, you fix it. You have to fix it, otherwise, worse things will come. You cannot escape the consequences. Then again, if the transmission in your car goes out, it’s probably easier and cheaper to just buy another car. Our transmission has definitely gone out. Capitalism is a stuck pig at this point, bleeding out billions into the streets. The attack on Wall Street may not deal the fatal blow, but it is coming. The hammer will fall and we will eat the rich.

Until next time,

Andrea xo

Beyond the Edge

TRIGGER WARNING!! This Post Describes a Suicide Attempt in Graphic Detail!!

by Andrea Watson | January 7, 2021

If you read my blog then you know I have a mental illness. My twenties were the roughest part of my life. I went through a divorce, losing my children, psychosis, giving up babies for adoption, and the emergence of a serious mental illness. It was hell. I attempted suicide several times. This is the story of the last time I ever tried to kill myself, and the road I had to take to come back from it. This is not a cry for help. This is not a plea for sympathy. This is not an attempt to seek recognition or attention of any kind other than to move the reader into an awareness of what types of things might go through the mind of a suicidal individual. It is an attempt to connect with those who suffer, and hopefully guide them away from the edge. This is not my normal sort of blog post. This is a stand-alone work that speaks for itself. It does not represent who I am or where I’m at today, only what I have endured in the past-truly a different life. I have moved on.

The earth was warm under my bare feet and legs. Sitting behind the annex in the back yard, nobody could see me, and I was trying to enjoy the time away from my girlfriend. Bottles of pills were lined up in front of me, along with a bottle of water. I had been fighting with Vicki about taking them, insisting that the choices I had were to take 42 pills at once, or none at all. I was psychotic. It was bad. I had been cutting myself every day. I didn’t have a single piece of clothing without blood on it.

I took another hit off the joint. The sun blazed above my head as it can only do in the Arizona desert. It pulsed through me, harboring me, overtaking me. Looking up to the sky, my mind wandered and my eye caught a far-off floating object. It looked like a helium balloon but I could not tell for sure. It sparkled in the sunshine and watching it, my mind kind of fell through a sort of vortex. My consciousness escaped my body through the top of my head and went rushing through the sky and into space. It kept going, through stars and nebulae and the fabric of time. Everything was a blur. Then I came to a sudden halt. I was hovering, suspended in nothing, and in front of me, there was a gigantic, golden, double door. I was in awe, wondering what was on the other side Then the door began to open, and as it did, my dead mother stepped through it and came toward me. She opened her arms and I fell into them. Then she whispered in my ear, “It’s time”.

I fell back to earth into my body and with a jolt came out of the slumped cross-legged position I had been sitting in. The joint had gone out. I flicked it away. With a final look around the barren yard and a business-like affect, I firmly opened all of the pill bottles and took every single one. Then with a shard of broken glass, I cut into my wrist, deep. Blood poured out over my thighs and I felt a rush of release. I was letting go of the pain, the loss seeping out of me like the blood out of my veins.

Out of nowhere, a bolt of fear ran through me, and the thought “I made a mistake, I have to survive!” crashed into my brain like a wrecking ball through mortar and I stood up shakily. Running my hands along the walls of the annex and the main house, blood trailing my movements along the siding, I walked toward the road. Vicki was gone but she was coming back. I staggered down the street toward the highway, in the direction I knew she would be coming from. The unforgiving sun beating down on me, I followed the glittering trail of broken glass and shiny rocks in a sort of calm panic. The houses passed by me as if I was not the one moving, but rather the world was moving around me.

I saw her Cadillac ease around the bend near the bottom of the road. I raised my gory arm to wave her down and the car slowed as it approached me. I saw her face before she stopped. She looked horrified. She commanded me into the car and I complied. I remember vomiting on the way to the hospital or at least trying to. By the time we got there, the bottle of Seroquel I had taken was already taking action. I weaved back and forth as I stumbled through the whooshing doors of the emergency room. There were two nurses at the desk. They looked at me strangely and asked why I was there. Darkness took me at last and it was over. I almost felt the pain in my head as it cracked against the concrete floor.

Thunder. A noise like I had never heard before. A helicopter. Only somehow, it was around me. Surrounding me. The propellers beating their rhythm inside of my brain, relentless. A hand came swooping at my face out of nowhere and hit me hard enough to turn my head around with a crack of my neck. “Stay with us!” a voice yelled out of the darkness. Everything was tinted red. I fell back into oblivion.

I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move. My arms were bound by some contraption I could not see. I could not see hardly anything; everything was a blur of garish yellow and blue light. I was aware that there was a tube down my throat and there was air flowing through it. Nurses came into the room then, rushing at me with hands outstretched, holding my head down and pulling the tube out of my throat. Then they unbound my hands and began talking at me. They were asking questions I could not answer. I passed out again into blackness, asleep-but not for good.

I don’t remember anything about the hospitalization except I counted seven stiff, black stitches in my wrist and there was a therapy dog that came in to visit the patients of the psych ward. I got to pet her, and somebody took a photograph of me doing this. When they released me, Vicki was magically there and I wore her red bandanna on the way home through Phoenix and up into the mountains, through Superior, and into Miami. I broke my big toe as I stepped up onto the curb in front of the house. The family welcomed me back warmly, but tentatively. As if I was some sort of mesmerizing time bomb. The next morning I drank my coffee on the rear side of the porch. Looking up, I saw the trail of blood running along the walls of the annex, the garage, the main house, and the cars in the driveway. Some of it stayed for a long time after that.

I tried. I did. I spoke, but I was slow. I slurred my words, I stumbled over my thoughts. I looked in the mirror and could not recognize my own face. I was a stranger to life. It was awkward and difficult. It felt like a big rubber suit that covered me from head to toe and I had to run a marathon in it. I met with friends and they didn’t know what to say so we sat in silence, their support surrounding me but not penetrating. I saw my parents once and tried to explain that the face in the mirror was not mine, but some stranger. They sympathized, but I was still lost.

As one might expect, a few years of intense psychotherapy and medication management followed this episode. I had two days per week that I was free from services and could relax. Every other day was mental health work. The different medications they tried had me on a rollercoaster of brain chemicals. The therapist annoyed me and worse, pissed me off. Things relaxed a bit after a good amount of time had passed. I slowly came back to myself, but it was never the self I had left that day behind the annex. It was severely altered; shifted into a different dimension or something. I’m still there, years later. I have never attempted suicide since then, and my promise to myself is that I never will again, and I believe it.

This post has been difficult to write, and I am glad it’s over. If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 and get the help that you need before it is too late.

Freedom in Honesty

What I Learned When I Stopped Lying to People

by Andrea Watson | January 29, 2021

I was sixteen years old when I stopped lying to my father. I decided one day that we were not close enough for me to care too much about what he thought or what he might do to me. My honesty initiated a cascade of events that led to some pretty tough situations for me, but I have never regretted my decision to tell the truth. There is freedom in honesty. It is a freedom of spirit and freedom of conscience; sweet and complete. I do not remember the circumstances that led me to make my decision but I do recall the circumstances that surrounded my taking the first step. Here is the story and what I learned from it.

When I was young, I was deviant. I grew up in a strict Mormon household and that made me even more rebellious, because I didn’t believe and I hated being forced to go to church. I smoked cigarettes, I drank, I did drugs, I had sex, I broke the law. I did everything I could think of that I should not have been doing. (Luckily, my behavior over the years has improved drastically). I tried my best to hide it all from my father and step-mother. I was a very angry young woman because my mother had died and my father had replaced her quickly with a woman I hated.

My dad knew that some things were going on that he didn’t approve of. He knew I was skipping early morning seminary (an extra class that starts before school to indoctrinate young Mormons further), he knew I was skipping school. He knew I was not faithful as he wanted me to be. But he knew hardly anything of what was actually going on.

One day, I decided that I was sick and frickin’ tired of trying to make up excuses, come up with stories, and cover my butt. So I took my pack of cigarettes and sat in the driveway smoking to wait for him to come home from work. When his car pulled up to the house, I put out my cigarette and stood up, demanding his attention, which I hardly ever got. He got out of the car and looked at me in an odd way.

“Dad”, I said, “I smoke cigarettes and I have ever since I was 14.” I’m sure he was expecting to come home, chat with his wife, and have a nice dinner, but instead he got a belligerent teenager confronting him with an ugly truth that he now had to deal with in an appropriate parental manner. I don’t remember the conversation we had after my initial statement, but I do remember him teaching me some tricks that he used when he quit smoking.

I soon dropped all my walls when it came to my father and my honesty. throughout my life I have told him every shameful thing I have done at one point or another. Things I am not proud of, but things I have needed help for. And yes, our relationship did eventually get a lot better. He learned to trust me and I learned to trust him. This was one benefit I saw after I stopped lying.

I decided to extend my no-lying policy to other people who came into my life, and even those who just passed through it. I cannot say I am innocent as far as white lies go-nobody is, and sometimes a little fib saves relationships. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about big, dirty, outright lies. I have never lied to a cop, even when I knew I would get in trouble. I have been to jail because of this, and been sentenced to probation even. But I tell you what; because of that, I got the help that I badly needed.

I do not lie to my children, even when they ask me the tough questions. I believe a parent should never lie to a child and that honesty is the best way to earn trust and model good citizenship. I do not want them to lie to me, so I do not lie to them. In order to teach a child the way you want them to live and function as adults, we must model our behavior so that we can show them. It does no good to say one thing and do another.

So overall, what are the lessons I learned after I stopped lying to people? I learned that first and foremost, I was free. Even when I was incarcerated, I was free in my spirit and in my conscience. I had none of the guilt or dread or stress associated with maintaining a lie. It was wonderful. I sat back and did my time in peace. Second, I learned that if I tell the truth I often get the help I need to overcome my problems or navigate difficult situations. Sometimes I even get help that I didn’t know I needed or wasn’t even looking for.

Third, I learned that I could earn people’s trust if I stuck to the truth. If a person sees I am trustworthy and I remain so, they are more likely to interact with me in a positive way and our relationship deepens rather than diminishes. This is important to me, since I do not care to maintain too many different relationships. The ones I do keep are special and I am careful to nurture them in the right ways.

Fourth, I learned that honesty goes hand in hand with a straightforward approach to life, and that is the approach I take. I save myself time and grief by addressing problems, issues, or bumps in the road when they first arise with honesty and openness. This allows me to steer clear of festering resentments, confounding thoughts, and confusion over things that could be easily cleared up. I much prefer this to the alternative.

Last, I found that respect follows honesty in a lot of cases. I am happy to have the respect of others, even if they do not like me much. And I respect those who tell the truth while I find I cannot respect a chronic liar at all. Most people lie sometimes; not a lot, but enough to cause them some discomfort in some way. Everybody tells little white lies. Most people are not pathological liars. This is a great thing. And I do know that sometimes lying is essential for “survival”. However, I have found that for me, telling the truth feels much better. And I like being comfortable A lot. Honesty is not a moral thing for me, although perhaps it should be. Rather, it is a way for me to easily increase my level of comfort in my own body and mind. It works, and to me, that’s all that matters. Until next time,

Andrea xo

Understanding Autism

Surviving as a Parent With an Autistic Child

I know, it seems like we’ve heard this all before, right? Dealing with autism is hard. VERY hard. It tries the best of us to within an inch of our sanity at times. We get hurt. We make mistakes. We misunderstand. We just cannot connect to our ASD loved ones in the same way we connect to other neurotypicals. Many of us are baffled as to why. Fortunately, ASD parents are often compelled to research the actual science that is daily attempting to explain ASD and if you are one of those who tossed aside the “vaccines cause autism” idea and follow the path of righteous science instead, then good for you and hooray for us!! We will have a more enlightened and possibly easier journey ahead of us.

So what exactly is happening in the brain of someone on the autism spectrum? We can see they don’t like to socialize, we can see they are hyper-focused, we can see they display “weird” mannerisms and repetitive movements, but why? Well, in my generation, I’m sorry to say that a child with ASD was deemed strange and overly sensitive. A brat. And an adult with ASD is just a plain asshole (pardon my language). Thankfully, today we have a much better understanding thanks to a growing body of research and the technology that helps us carry that research out. So without further ado, let’s talk a bit about how the autistic brain works.

As of 2020, the prevalence of autism in the United States can be boiled down to 1 in every 54 births. How many people do you know? I bet more than 54 if you think about it. Chances are you know someone on the spectrum. ASD is often found with comorbidities such as ADHD, anxiety, bipolar disorder, clinical depression, sleep problems, and gastrointestinal symptoms. This makes dealing and living with autism that much funner! Have you ever tried to quell a panic attack in an autistic child who can’t stop running up the walls because his ADHD is so severe? I have. It is damn near impossible. Remember that we love these people, and life is excruciatingly hard for them because of how their brains work, not because of the choices they make. It was like that the day they were born and it will be like that until the day they die. This is why patience is key, and precious but spare to a parent who is on the spectrum themselves; indeed to all parents with autistic kiddos.

Katherine Stavropoulos, Ph. D of psychologytoday.com discusses four popular theories surrounding the brain basis of autism here and here. And this information is interesting, to say the least. I’ll break it down here, but it won’t do justice to the whole work so you should read it for yourself.

The first is the Social Motivation Hypothesis. This way of thinking posits that the lack of social interaction (a core symptom of ASD) is due to a lack of stimulation in the reward center of the brain. In other words, autistic people don’t find social interactions rewarding like neurotypical people do. They don’t have fun playing or hanging out with others, their brain doesn’t react to these types of situations to the extent that it makes them want more. On the other hand, the hypothesis points out, this may explain why their limited interests such as video games, cars, or washing machines are so intensely captivating for them. Interactions with these things is extremely rewarding, and this leads to the child having difficulty releasing or walking away from a preferred activity. It works almost like a substance addiction does as far as brain activity goes.

The second school of thought Dr. Stavropoulos discusses is the Overly Intense World Hypothesis. This hypothesis talks about social and sensory factors. Basically what it means is that the autistic brain experiences way too much brain activity going on. So at any given time, the brain can be absolutely flooded with input that it cannot make sense of and that may be why the ASD child has difficulty paying attention, obeying, staying on task, or coping with life in general. It is the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala that experience this overabundance of activity. This is interesting because they are two sections of the brain that are far divided in ancestral biology and purpose. The prefrontal cortex is where all the higher brain functioning happens-executive functioning if you will. The amygdala is a small, almond shaped part of our “lizard brain” that identifies and tags things as scary or threatening. Two vastly different brain structures with two vastly different purposes involved in the same darn thing. Interesting, huh?

Now just to butt in and add my DEFINITELY NOT SCIENCE but my own little “what if” here, I wonder if the involvement and hyperactivity of the amygdala in the brains of our ASD kiddos contributes to the level of aggression we often see with (especially male) littles on the spectrum? Just a thought.

The third thing talked about in the articles mentioned above is the Theory of Mind. Ah! an actual theory-we have graduated from hypotheses! Behavioral evidence suggests that children on the autism spectrum have difficulty understanding that other people think differently than they do-that “you” don’t know everything “I” know. They cannot conceptualize the thoughts, feelings, or intentions of other people. This obviously leads to deficits in social skills. When asked to think about another person’s mental state, an autistic brain will activate in different areas than and make different connections than that of a neurotypical child. So the brains here are not at all acting the same way even though they were asked the same exact question.

Finally we have the Mirror Neuron Hypothesis. All brains have mirror neurons. These allow us to mimic the actions and behaviors of others when we see them. These cells also activate when we perform an action ourselves. These cool little cells allow us to predict another person’s behavior and act out the same physical movement they do (physical disabilities and restrictions aside). Mirror neurons may help us to translate the actions of others to our own perspective. Imitation is one of the very important ways that a child learns. Unfortunately, the mirror neurons in the autistic brain are altered from the neurotypical brain. When they see pictures of somebody doing something, they can say what that person is doing, but they make errors when asked to perform that same action themselves. So basically, because of the difference in the way the mirror neurons work in the ASD brain, kiddos with this disorder have a great deal of difficulty understanding and predicting other people’s behavior.

One last point to hit, because I know we are all waiting for it ) those of us who live with or love someone with autism): the Autistic Meltdown. Aaaaah, that favorite of all autistic parents and often the most interesting time(s) of the day when your child stops receiving input and starts imploding-followed by a massive and sometimes downright scary explosion of frustration, anger, fear, sadness, and often violence. What the hell is happening here? Well, the answer is simple and most ASD parents know it, but for the rest of us, I will elaborate. When the autistic brain is experiencing activity that goes above and beyond the normal hyperactivity of the various brain structures, it becomes overwhelmed. When this happens, it shuts down. It simply stops processing input as the overload leads to an involuntary cascade of neurological events while the brain is trying to find equilibrium again. It’s like trying to keep your footing and stay calm as you are lashed back and forth on the deck of a ship caught in the storm of the century. Which way is up? Where are my feet? Will the waves ever stop crashing over me?

If that analogy doesn’t do the trick then think of an overly crowded nightclub with one emergence exit after a fire has broken out. Panic. Sheer and utter chaos. There are no orderly lines, people get trampled, some die, and the structure is completely destroyed before rescue is even in sight. Gruesome thoughts, yes? But we have no control over the storm. We have no control over the fire. All we can do is try to get to safety again. This is what a meltdown is like for an autistic child. You can scream at them and wave your arms in their face all you want, they cannot hear you, cannot see you, cannot process anything you are trying to convey to them. And how do we handle The Perfect Storm? Do we punish it? No. We wait it out. It is nobody’s fault-it’s not the boat’s fault, not the ocean’s fault, not the star’s fault, it is just a combination of the right kind of factors that brings the storm to pass. And all we can do is shut up, hold on, and wait.

As parents of autistic kiddos, we understand that yes, we may sometimes be physically or emotionally hurt by what transpires during a meltdown, especially if our children are as big or bigger than we are. We may occasionally find ourselves curled up in the fetal position in the middle of a lake of orange juice and cheerios that came from NOT THE PINK BOWL missing chunks of hair and sobbing as we miss that specialist appointment we have waited eight months to get. I have been on the receiving end of this myself, many times, and as my son grows older and stronger, I do fear for my future self. But what can I do? Not a damn thing. I can get him all of the recommended services (and there are plenty), put him on all the right meds, and it may still eventually happen. Because within my womb I created another human brain that is simply built differently than most people’s and accordingly marches to a different drum. The best I can do is be strong and patient. To repeat the mantra “It’s not his fault-I love my son” over and over when times get tough, and to seek support and further knowledge by finding others like me and doing the research it takes to keep up with modern psychology and medicine. That is all any of us can do.

I know that during the current pandemic and indeed since all the lockdowns started, we are seeing more and more undesirable behaviors in our ASD children. I am suffering right along with you. And we must remember, so are they. They suffer at a more escalated level than we do, too because of how intense every single little thing is. To survive it takes patience, wit, creativity, and patience. Did I say patience twice? Yes, I did. On Purpose. Take care of yourself as often as you can. Make self-care a priority, otherwise, we will lose our minds and be of no use to anybody. Til next time,

Andrea xo

How to Lose Weight for Good

by Andrea Watson | January 10, 2021

I’m going to stop you right there. I don’t care what the scale says about you. You weigh more than you know. A lot more. Does hearing this upset you? It should, because if you are anything like the majority of people in the USA today and indeed around the entire world, you are carrying an immense emotional burden. This is the heaviest weight of all. It is impossible to crawl out from under without a focused effort. No, this post is not about losing body weight. It is all about lightening our spirits so that we can live as happier beings even in the middle of the turmoil that is pervading our reality.

No matter where our baggage came from, an important part of dealing with it is our interpersonal relationships. If these are not healthy, we will have a much more difficult time emotionally and perhaps be unable to help ourselves move on at all. Just one bad relationship is enough to drag us down to the bottom, and chances are that if we have one we have another and another. An unhealthy relationship can look like a lot of different things. Codependency, abuse, neglect, enabling, and a lack of boundaries among others are all indicators of unhealthy relationships. These can exist whether we are talking about a significant other, a parent, a friend, a role model, or any other type of human-to-human interface we experience.

It is especially difficult for us to cut out the weight of other people’s unhealthy influence because it often requires us to cut the person off from our lives entirely. This is especially true now if you live in the USA. We have declared war upon ourselves and the time to choose sides and draw lines passed when the insurrectionists attempted to topple our entire system of government. It is of paramount importance to weed out those people in our lives who bring doubt, fear, insecurity, self-depreciation or any other thing that threatens the strength of our foundation, which is individually our concept of self.

It’s hard enough getting to the point where we can cut off those people who cause us harm or pain if we have been close to them for a time. But it can be even harder to stand our ground and be at peace with our decisions. Guilt is likely to plague us as we attempt to move on, and may even be the undoing of our resolve if we let it. So how do we change our mental state after taking the action to remove the weight of an entire person or people? How do we get rid of the negative emotions? The answer is, we don’t.

Negative emotions are okay. They are natural. We experience loss, we mourn. Part of processing emotion is feeling it. If we try to just get rid of it all we are doing is pushing it down deep inside to fester until it finally explodes. But sometimes the emotions are so intense that they threaten our very sanity, right? So here is a suggestion. First, breathe. Then, allow yourself to experience your emotions. Sit with them. Sit in them. Let them flow as they will through you, and also allow yourself to experience the consequences of those emotions, whether it be tears or beating on a wall in a rage.

If you feel yourself teetering on the edge of madness, walk yourself through it one second at a time. Repeat the mantra, “I am breathing, I am okay”. Or you can be the commentator of what you are doing. For example, if you are sitting on your bed and crying, say to yourself out loud “Right now I am sitting on my bed. There is just me and my bed, there is nothing else in the world.” Repeat phrases like this every second or so until any any anxiety that threatens to push you over the edge passes. No matter what you do, hold on tight and let yourself experience the emotion. It’s only after this that you can move on.

So now what? Well, after we have gotten ourselves through the feeling phase, bearing in mind that mourning comes in waves and we will likely need to face the feeling phase again and again throughout our lives, we center ourselves. This is done by nothing less than engaging in my favorite go-to answer for personal development-meditation. This can be difficult at first, especially if we are an emotional wreck in the first place. Most people have difficulty with meditation when they first try it, but practice helps to improve your experience. But one of the best things about meditation is that it doesn’t have to “work” for it to help. Simply trying will put you in a better spot than you were in before. This is because meditation involves a lot of deep, slow breathing, which stimulates the vagus nerve and helps to calm us down.

For guided meditations, try searching YouTube. There are lots of options there for you to explore. But the basic idea of meditation is to relax, control your breathing, and focus. This will put you in a grounded state where you are more connected to physical reality than your emotional turbulence. Your thinking will clear and your executive functioning will improve, leading to better decisions and more fully formed ideas. Even if you were unable to really relax or clear your mind or focus during your meditation, the breathing will have put you in a calmer state. This is important to achieve if you are to move on to phase three, replacement.

When we take something away from ourselves or our self-construct, we often need to replace it for the change to be permanent. So how do you replace a person? By focusing on yourself and learning to love yourself enough to stand firm. This is not as easy to do as it is to say, especially when you throw guilt into the mix. But it can be done. It takes baby steps. Start by adding half an hour of self-care per week. Or add a mantra to your daily routine that you repeat to yourself while you are completing tasks that don’t take a lot of thinking, like cleaning the house. You can say things like, “I did the right thing for me, I am at peace”. You may have to spend a long time on the first baby step. That is okay. As long as you stick with it, nurturing your self-love will get easier with time.

These three phases may be repeated over and over through time, and it is best if they are. When we experience a loss, the pain of it comes back to us over and over throughout our lives, but the intensity of the emotion lessens with time. We need to be flexible and forgiving with ourselves. This will always allow us room for further growth. But remember to stick to your guns. It can be very tempting to go back to a toxic relationship even after we have done some healing. We cannot allow ourselves to do this; otherwise our work will have been for nothing. And in this political climate, those of us who live in the US especially cannot afford to slip. Once you have chosen, stick to that choice. The more you work through these three phases the easier it will be. Until next time,

Andrea xo

Choose Your Life

by Andrea Watson | January 7, 2021

In the wake of yesterday’s events in our nation’s capital, many of us are feeling ill at ease, to say the least. The attempted insurrection and assault on democracy hit our nation like a freight train, sending shock waves through every acre of our cultivated soil; striking a chord in every heart, and serving to divide our people from one another. In an instant, our political views drove us to turn against our neighbors-friend against friend, sibling against sibling, father against child. Our disagreements regarding the presidency exploded into a cacophony of epic proportions, reaching a level of volatility akin to the declaration of civil war. We watched in horrified awe as the foundations of democracy crumbled before us and the system began to sway as if to tumble down, unable to look away from the events unfolding on the screen. No matter how we felt about the behavior of these domestic terrorists, whether we agreed with their sentiment or not, we were all glued to it, for and against alike.

The terror that struck my heart yesterday as I faced my worst fear on a computer screen got me thinking. Who are the people surrounding me? Do I trust them? Would they stand and defend our lives against any threat that imposed itself upon us? I looked around. I am currently living with my son, my best friend, and my boyfriend. I do not have anybody else in this town to turn to. No family, no friends, no safe harbor. I am lucky because I know I can trust my best friend with my life. I have the help of two capable men to defend my son if need be, and when faced with the possible ramifications of yesterday’s events, my boyfriend remained cool and collected, and swore to stay with me regardless of what happens. I am lucky again because our major political views align with each others’ fairly seamlessly. I feel secure that they would not betray me if push comes to shove.

The story is different between my parents and me. I believe they are on the wrong side. They support the man who incited and condoned the acts of the traitors. I cannot stand by them. I cannot trust them. I cannot turn to them for help or shelter ever again. Yesterday’s events shifted the paradigm in such a way as to sever all bonds we have besides that one which is natural and indestructible; blood. I know that if war broke out, they would gladly send their side hurtling against mine in a murderous rage, sweeping away lives like those of my oldest nephews’. The young men of our family, if called upon to fight, would be the targets of their intention. And I cannot stomach this. It is an insurmountable obstacle in our relationship now and will be for the rest of our lives. There is no more polite side-stepping when it comes to politics-we are either allies or enemies. And sadly, I know who my closest enemies are.

I feel it is important for us all to evaluate where we are in life; what we believe in, who are the people that surround us truly, and how prepared are we to face the oncoming challenges that this political upheaval poses? If we were to go to war tomorrow, brother against brother, what side would we be on and why? What are we willing to do to defend ourselves, and are we capable of doing so? And would we give our lives to protect our freedom and what we stand for? These questions may seem to be too alarmist in nature. “There’s not going to be any civil war”, you may say to yourself. And you may very well be right. Yesterday’s events could be an isolated bump in the road for the freedom and sovereignty of our United States. If this is the case, then by everything holy, give thanks! But history has taught us that we are never so far removed from the destruction of an empire that our malcontent cannot push us to the brink in the time it takes to bat an eyelash.

Where do you stand? You need to know this. To be sure. To be secure. To do what you believe is right. This is no time for sitting on the fence; revolution is stirring beneath our feet and in our hearts and those who are undecided will be called traitors on both sides. Choose your life. Choose who you share it with. Be sure that those who share your home and your hearth are those who will be steadfast in the defense of all your interests and provisions. Be sure that who you live with is who you are willing to stand with if worse comes to worst. Evaluate your priorities, plan accordingly, and be safe in the place that you call home. Until next time,

Andrea xo

Bye, Felicia!

Out With the Year From Hell and Into the Unknown!

by Andrea Watson | December 31, 2020

So this is the last day of the year. How are you feeling? I’m a little trepidatious. I mean, I have never hated a number before. But 2020 is the worst number ever invented. Nothing but a big wad of Suck in my opinion. But I’m not feeling too confident about next year, if I’m honest. And I think some of you may share this feeling. Now, I’m not trying to get you down. Who knows? This year could bring a lot of good things! So for this post, I’m going to focus on those possibilities instead of the scary ones. I’m not one for resolutions. I think they are a bad idea, generally. But I am one for setting S.M.A.R.T. goals and I am also a fan of self improvement. Check out my post that covers these special goals here because today we are going to talk about personal growth.

Have you made a list of resolutions? Well, I invite you to tear them up, since it is most likely you’ll abandon them soon anyway, and join my circle for some deeper talk. We’re going inner growth here, which means the hard stuff. I’ll start. This upcoming year, I want to work on giving people a chance. Here’s the thing about me: I love my fellow man. I truly do. I want to uplift you and support you and encourage you all. But when it comes to friendships or people who I meet in real life, I often fail and close myself off to people because I think they automatically don’t like me. This is especially true of other women.

woman standing with her arms crossed in defiance
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

So what can I do to get over this? Well, the first thing that comes to mind is meditation. Of course, this is my go-to answer for all personal growth issues. I need a change of heart. Just like Neo in the movie The Matrix, I need to realize the truth; there is no spoon. What I mean by that is there really is no secret women’s alliance who’s number one rule is “We all hate Andrea”. This is all in my head. I am probably misreading the looks I think I get from other women. I probably can talk to them kindly and in a friendly tone, and I probably am a real woman myself. Not sure where all these doubts came from but they are there and I need to break them.

Meditation is a great way to open up new ways of thinking in your mind. With enough honest, reflective meditation (it may take years and that is okay) you can change aspects of your personality into things that benefit rather than hinder you. I know you can do this, I’ve done it before. So in the upcoming new year I am going to focus on taking time for meditation every week, if not every day. I know every day is best, but I often don’t have that option. It’s not a resolution; it is an intention. And hopefully I remember to do it instead of getting lost in letting my son rule 100% of my time.

Photo by Prasanth Inturi on Pexels.com

The second thing I would like to work on is coming to be at peace with my future. I’m 40 years old. Now I’m not saying that’s ancient, but I am in a point in my life where my family members are dying around me, either from age or serious illness. And I’m really not okay with that. I am so fearful of what would happen if I am suddenly the only one left and I have no support system anymore. So I guess what I need (besides comfort and preparation to mourn) is confidence. And I know how to build confidence, I have just never had any when it comes to my mental disorders. This is what I’m truly afraid of; that I will be consumed by my own mind.

How do I move past that and reach for something better? Well perhaps I could first work on getting through the mourning of my mother. She died when I was 14 and I never worked through it, despite the many years of therapy. I think if I could face this and start to heal from it, then maybe I could feel better prepared to face what is coming for me if my sisters all die young and I do not. This all seems very heavy to me as I write it, but I think that’s a good thing. So I need more mental help. It has been hard during 2020 to get that, since the offices have been closed down for most of the year and I am no good at phone stuff. I will just have to suck it up and get me a therapist.

man covering his face in anguish
Photo by Brian James on Pexels.com

The last thing I would like to work on in 2021 is helping my son through all of the mental stuff he has gone through in the last year. The first thing he needs is to get into a therapist himself. This will be even harder, since play therapy really isn’t done over the phone. Stupid Covid. But I need to look into the options. I need to be a soldier for him and help him to heal and move on from this last year. I need to support him through his unwanted behaviors, especially the ones he reverted to over the last year after having them gone for so long. I need to be more patient and understanding and not get angry at him for doing the things he is doing, since I don’t really understand why he is doing them. I need to learn from his therapist and HI workers to understand and work with him more effectively.

So there is my list for 2021. Not resolutions, but hopeful aspirations. I’m not going to lose 20 pounds on purpose and I’m not going to quit drinking by February (I don’t drink but you get the point) and I’m not going to save up money this year. Well, maybe I could and that would be nice, but I’m not going to resolve to do anything. I am simply going to hope, and take baby steps. Until next time,

Andrea xo

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