Sticks and Stones…?

“As human beings, we are far too broad to be boxed into labels. You cannot lead a label. You can only lead a whole person.”
― Salil Jha

I have been thinking about “comedy” shows, the content is basically one person hurling put-downs at someone else. I just do not find them funny, if it is not name calling, shaming, etc., it is just stupid stunts.

I love reading Cherie White’s blog, Chateau Cherie on Bullying. Her deep dives into the antics that bullies use, one of them is calling names.

I am not that comfortable placing labels on individuals for most are belittling, berating, shaming, tearing down. Then there are those leude names we give to those whose sexuality may be different..

Now reader, I said all that to deal with my school years. I was a skinny, tall, kid with barely any masculine shape in my body. No real noticeable forearms, and my legs I would say they were quite skinny. In high school most other guys already had a full beard. In my case I didn’t start shaving until I was in my mid twenties.

So, this was cause for school mates to call me names. There was a name that I was called due to my full lips, “n*****” lips. In high school the one nick name they pinned on me was, “sticks”. There were many more, too hurtful to even put into words here on my blog.

Because of my size I wasn’t a fighter, the best I could do was run, running to escape being pummeled from head to foot. My grade eight teacher, just before graduation, took me aside to give me some advice. He said when you are being bullied take the guy’s head and slam it into a locker. The situation did arise, I did exactly what the teacher advise me to do. That action created a mob out to get me and kick my butt from one side of the city to the other side. I managed getting through two and a half grades, dropping out in the middle of grade eleven.

As I am writing those experiences my body is trembling remembering the fear I faced my entire school life. My school life was one that was lonely, being bullied in school and at home.

As an adult now when I hear someone being bullied by name calling, body shaming, being physically abused, I stick my neck out to help them. Those feelings of when I was bullied show up if I am watching the television with someone in those type of situations. I usually turn the channel. I cannot tell any of the hit sit-com shows, crime drama shows, that are on in prime time. I stick with shows like those that are on The Discovery Channel, The History Channel, and yes, The Boomerang Channel watching Bugs Bunny.

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

The adage “sticks and stones may break my bones, but, names will never hurt me” is dead wrong. Names, labels, shaming, all do hurt, a hurt that cannot be seen with the eye, but they truly do hurt deep down. Those voices calling out those have stayed with me even until this day. I am able to shake them better now, but, they still call up the hurt that they did way deep in my soul.

So dear reader I ask out of experience, please take a moment, pause, before lashing out at someone with name calling, and all of the above.

* p.s- as an added thought, I do not hate those who caused my pain, nor do I seek revenge, and I do not wish them harm. That said, I just don’t associate myself with them. I cannot tell you how to handle a situation where there is abuse by name calling, shaming, etc.,***

Pen Pals?

To want friendship is a great fault. Friendship ought to be a gratuitous joy, like the joys afforded by art or life.
Simone Weil

Growing up was some interesting times, seemed like everyone collected something. Some would collect stamps, others coins, antiques, post cards, etc., I also know of some who collected letters from pen pals from around the world.

I enjoy receiving letters from friends, family. My favorite time was the Christmas season with the Christmas cards people would send to me. If I looked I believe I still have most of them, they are like a mini master piece of a great painter. The post office with them constantly raising their prices it has put a stop to that tradition.

I have been writing emails to different ones. My aunt told me she is always asking her son if I had sent an email, she looks forward to them. I sent her a laptop{I was buying a different one} so that she could write once in awhile. She is slowly learning, she is seventy years old.

This led to start thinking about creating pen pals. I live alone, not much of a social life, basically null really. My connection to the outside world is through emails, letters, and of course, WordPress. Several people can tell you that I send emails to say hello, ask how they are doing. One person lives in Budapest and I love how he tells about life there. I write about life living in Western Canada, Saskatchewan.[mentioned on “The Golden Girls”, several times on the “Simpsons”].

My idea is that this might be away of fighting some loneliness, learn about the places where they live, the foods they like, books they read, shows they like to watch. Just something to look forward to. Help encourage each other when having a down day. Maybe, this idea of pen pals has already expired in this generation.

So dear reader I would like to hear from you if you would like to be a pen pal. Use my Contact Page. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Still Can Learn

“The way for a young man to rise is to improve himself in every way he can, never suspecting that anybody wishes to hinder him.” – Abraham Lincoln

Every once in awhile I need something to inspire me, to motivate me. It is easy to allow myself to enter into rut. It’s too easy just to sit in front of the television without any substance in the program. My body is on the couch or in bed but my mind is a total blank, something like one would see in the old television series, “Twilight Zone”.

I believe it was this past Thursday I either read or heard it that President Lincoln had no formal education, but was a lawyer before he was assassinated. That was like a punch to my forehead.

The other day while reading a post on Ashley’s blog Mental Health@Home she did a book review “Don’t Believe Everything You Feel“. So, I turned on my Fire 7 tablet, searched for the book, bought the e-book and now I am in the midst of reading it.

With the onslaught of winter approaching means it is time to read even more. I love reading the headlines in the papers, the blogs here on WordPress. My interests vary widely in what I read everything from biographies, crime, how to’s, all things Bible.

So dear reader, if President Lincoln can teach himself law to become a lawyer, I guess I can do my best to keep on learning!

A Re-Blog: Does Sexuality Matter? — My Mindfulness Living

This is one of the questions that we ask from ourself and yet hesitate to share our opinion with others. The bitter side is asking this question not because of the curiosity about the answer, but because of the discomfort judgements of the society. Actually, does sexuality matter? Here I’m not going to give you […]

Does Sexuality Matter? — My Mindfulness Living

Your Silence Is Too Loud!

It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear, and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain. The victim demands action, engagement, and remembering.
Judith Lewis Herman

Growing up in my generation there was a silent rule about children, they were to be seen not heard.

I am not sure how old I was when I first understood death, but I was probably ten years old. I can recall my grandmother and others talking in hush tones about a great uncle. I heard enough to know that they found him in his garage, doors closed, laying under the exhaust. I learned several years later that it was called suicide.

The very first funeral that I ever attended was that for my maternal grandfather in 1975, I was thirteen. I still can see him laying in the coffin. That image made me to never want to see a funeral ever again with an open casket. Why, because that is the last image that you see is the one that you usually remember.

There were too many things that those adults thought a child shouldn’t hear. Well sometimes I needed to hear your voice. Yes, hear it when I was being beat on by my father. When in 2000 sent a message during my mother’s death that he was going to kill me, I couldn’t hear you then either.

Maybe I would have loved to hear your voice after school that you were proud of me getting good grades, only to be asked “can’t you do better”?

How about someone sitting me down to explain why things were happening in my body, why my voice was changing. You know all those things that a young male should be told going into puberty. Oh I hear, your silence led me to have to learn about all that on the streets. Information eventually to be wrong.

I needed your voice to talk with me before I was going to be married. How about what I should expect on the wedding night. Yes, maybe if you would have spoken up I wouldn’t have been so crazy nervous.

Now, about that young man who is being beat upon by a group of thugs, several people watching, but the voice of the bystanders silent where they should have helped or at least called for help.

So many different times where if you would have broken your silence things would have had a different outcome. The woman who is being abused, the child who is being kicked around, the student in the school yard being bullied. Yes, you could have made a difference, but, you just kept silent.

So dear reader those are times when their silence was too loud!

Silent Screams

***Caution, I may write about some issues that might be a trigger to some.***

“If someone asks you how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn’t spoken to another person for two consecutive days. FINE is what you say.”
― Gail Honeyman, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Where were they when I would wake up from nightmares containing my family in a care crossing a river, terrified I was thinking that my father was going to drive us over the guard rails and into the river. It is funny that I am finally letting this issue out for I have never spoken about it.

Did they know I was lying when they asked me how did I get a bruise on my cheek, fearing if I said something it would cause another session of rage? If they did know why didn’t they speak up, tell the authorities, just why did they hear no evil?

I would go to school in the dark, go home in the dark praying that he was already in bed. I kept this silent because of the fear of confrontation. Fear keeping me from speaking out to someone who would hear some evil, afraid they wouldn’t believe me. I am sure there were some that could sense the air filled with tension, but they acted like they didn’t hear any evil.

I was screaming for help and finding little, everyone turned a deaf hear so that they wouldn’t hear those screams. I have finally left all that behind, I no longer have to scream in silence.

There are so many things that people refuse to hear:

  • The woman who has been raped
  • A battered spouse who thinks she is in a box, she/he is told that they cannot survive on their own.
  • The mother who stays in a abusive marriage because of the children.
  • The young girl who starts bed wetting again because of sexual abuse
  • All those young males who were sexually abused by the very ones who were suppose to protect them from the predators. The hierarchy develops a tin ear refusing to take action with the abusive clergy man.

There are many who like me are screaming for help but nobody wants to hear the screams.

So dear reader if you have someone coming to you screaming about their abuse, mental health issues give them your ears for them to tell their story. Have them sit down, bring them a coffee, tea, water, just listen, make no pre-judgments about their situation.

What You Don’t See

“I’d never known that I could feel this broken and whole at once.”
― Rachel L. Schade, Silent Kingdom

For this post and the following two I will be working around the above image, “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.”

If I did not reveal that I had these you would never know, yes physical challenges are noticeable, sometimes a person’s age, gender. The parts of me that you don’t see are those emotional scars.

All of the diagnostic tests cannot reveal these traces of past hurts, some a long time ago, others distant memories, and even some which seem they are fresh. These scars reminds me of all the times I have been lied about, used, abused, some can even be reopened like ripping the scab of a fresh wound.

They can at times cloud my judgement screaming at me, “watch out they will turn on you”, “careful they only want something then disappear” “have you forgotten all the names they have called you”. Yes, if I am not diligent there will be decisions made with a hand on the scale of judgment.

Then there are those now when I look at them that only brings a smile. Remembering the good times I spent with my grandfather singing, or the times I would just call my mother just to hear her voice. Yes, they are gone, the scar remains, but for me they are still here somewhere within my being.

One positive note about those unseen scars, they have taught me not to make snap judgments about my fellow human being. To treat them they way I want to be treated. Be understanding when they seem to stand afar off, it just might be that they have scars of their own, more than likely they do. When it comes to my speech is to try my best to keep it civil.

So dear reader I recognize that life brings scars, scars do not heal quickly, they can be like the ghosts that spoke to Scrooge in Charles Dickens writings.

A Re-blog: The Depression Diaries — Beth McIntyre

Today I took some time to catch up on some tags that I follow. Below is one that caught my heart. Beth has a story to tell one that may help others. I have a feeling she is new to the WordPress community. After reading this post drop her a line in the comment section.

Entry 1. 15 September 2020. Bucharest, Romania. Hi. I’m Beth. I’ve struggled with my mental health for as long as I can remember. Well okay, not as long as I can remember, but for a long time. I was first diagnosed with depression at 13 (maybe 14?) years old. I turn 30 next month. I […]

The Depression Diaries — Beth McIntyre

What’s Your Value

Real success requires respect for and faithfulness to the highest human values-honesty, integrity, self-discipline, dignity, compassion, humility, courage, personal responsibility, courtesy, and human service. Michael E. DeBakey

Definition Human values are the virtues that guide us to take into account the human element when we interact with other human beingsHuman values are, for example, respect, acceptance, consideration, appreciation, listening, openness, affection, empathy and love towards other human beings.

Let me start with this statement: If you are breathing, you have value!

I have tried to recall if when growing up did I ever hear or read about self-esteem, knowing your value, sadly I cannot think of any one time that I did.

For most of my life I consider myself as a failure. All my heroes were comic super heroes. I did have one person that I looked up to, that made me feel great, that was my maternal grandfather. He wasn’t one to give hugs, or say ‘I love you’, but when you were with him you felt that he would protect you, that you were worth saving. I do have one picture of him holding his granddaughters, he had a huge smile sitting there in a pink wicker rocker.

I knew my mother loved me, that she supported me, but I cannot for the life of me ever verbally feelings like I was valued.

Before President Lyndon B Johnson signed the “Civil Rights Act’ in 1964 black people were considered less than a human being. Other words they did not have the same value attached to them like those who were white in skin color.

All people have value, they deserve to be treated as such, not like something we stepped on while walking. It makes no difference about skin color, culture, ethnicity.

When people are stripped of their value they loose respect for themselves, some begin to spiral into addiction. I said that remembering how I learned what was happening in Canada among our First Nation Community. Inadequate education, unsafe drinking water, uninhabitable housing, place on reservations. Oh yes, there has been some progress, but from my observation, it is almost moving in reverse.

When people fill they have value you can start to see their life gradually change. Their self-esteem starts to go up, they begin to take pride in their housing, and all other aspects of living.

People with value their interactions with others are what is stated above; “respect, acceptance, consideration, appreciation, listening, openness, affection, empathy and love towards other human beings.”

So dear reader every living human being has value and should be treated as such!

The Best Investment Plan

“Invest time and energy in your well being. Create an atmosphere of emotional safety for yourself.”
― Amy Leigh Mercree

If there is one thing I have learned about surviving depression is that it is on me to maintain my emotional health. I need to spend time, effort, and diligence so that I do not backslide into depression causing me to have to start again.

It is not up to others to make sure that I am taking care. Yes, they can express their concern, asking me how I am doing. Yet, they have no power to twist my arm to invest in my well being.

Some things I have done to invest in my good mental health:

  • Admit that I need help, then seek out the help
  • Listen to the Physicians, Psychiatrists, Mental Health Nurses
  • Also listen to others who also have/or are dealing with depression
  • Find safe outlets to have a place to express your feelings, or your thoughts
  • I found ways to enhance my mental health. I chose blogging, reading, and when able cooking and baking.
  • I have learned to shut out all influences that may trigger the wrong responses that may harm my mental stability
  • When I slip/fail I have learned not to stay down, but, get back up and learn from those failures.
  • Just keep an open mind to things that I can add to my to-do list that will bring me to my desired outcome.

I cannot tell you, promise, guarantee that what I have done will work for you. These are just some steps that I took to invest in my good mental health.

So dear reader here is what I can guarantee you, the best investment you can ever make is to invest in you!

*** I am still looking for those who would be willing to do an interview. Or maybe you know someone who would be great for an interview. If so please use the Contact Page***

Christian’s Interview

I believe I came upon Christian’s blog, “Translating Gender” back in June while looking for some posts about Pride Month.

While reading some of his posts I could feel his emotion as he wrote about his journey. So several days ago I asked Christian if I could interview him.

Following is Christian’s Interview. I feel you will see a man who has had his battles, still is.

Christian’s Interview for RTS

Christian tell the readers and myself something about you that is not found on your About Page.

I am a life coach, writer, traveler.  I wander for the sake of wandering and wondering.  For the longest time I thought I wanted to figure out who I am but I realize that identity is a moving target, or maybe not even a target at all, rather; identity is somewhat of an illusion.  We all have everything inside of us and I have chosen exactly who I want to be although I’d rather enjoy the journey instead of living my life as a means to an end.  I believe that, what we focus on expands.  I want to make a difference in this world.  I love astrology and I feel most in tune with myself when traveling and in fact, I have a road trip planned in October.  Stay tuned!

Why did you start a blog? What is your goal or expectation for your blog in the future?

When I first started the blog, it was a personal challenge to share myself, be less private, and “put myself out there”.  I have always been extremely private and by hiding myself I was hiding an opportunity to have a positive impact on people.  I wanted to conquer my own fear of judgement in order to be seen.  By being vulnerable, I gift others the opportunity to allow themselves to be vulnerable. This promotes deeper connections and I thrive off of intense, deep, transformative periods of growth.  I wanted to transcend boundaries- the boundaries people impose on themselves and also between each other.  I wanted to get people thinking that we are all more alike than different.

Eventually, I want to compile all the posts into a book to get published.  My hope is that my story can help others feel a little less alone and bring all people together.

Initially, I was obsessed with reaching as many people as possible but now I realize that if I can positively influence the life of one person, I have achieved success by my own definition.

Can you tell the readers and myself Christian, what it means to be transgender and how does it differ from all others in the LGBTQ community?

Being transgender means that I did not (and do not) identify with the gender assigned to me at birth.  I was labeled as female at birth which they determined only by genitalia but I identify and feel like a man, not a woman.  Transgender is a spectrum not a binary meaning people can identify as a man, a woman, both or neither and fall somewhere on a diverse spectrum.  Being transgender relates to gender as opposed to gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc. which relate to sexual orientation.  Sexual orientation and gender are two different things.

When did you realize that you were different and are transgender?

I actually did not realize it until 2013 around the age of 30.  I did not come out until the age of 36.  I had a happy childhood and had all the normal milestones and successes and did not really know what being transgender actually meant.  I did not have a concept or the language to understand or articulate that a person could identify as the opposite gender from the one they were socialized and raised as.  It took 5 years for me to fully understand my transgender identity so that helped me to have an immense amount of compassion now for those who do not understand me or people like me.

I guess I am “different” but everyone is different and that is what makes us alike and beautiful.  People are afraid of what they don’t understand but when you remove all the societal or self-imposed labels, it is clear that we are all connected by universal human emotions and energy.

How did you break the news to family, friends, and co-workers?

Coming out to family was hard; coming out to myself was harder.  As far as coming out to family, there is never a perfect time to do it.  It came down to biting the bullet and stepping into the unknown.  I actually emailed my parents and sent a written letter via mail to my grandmother.  I told some of my co-workers one-to-one and also had a team meeting. Most importantly, coming out was a process not a definitive moment in time.  I “came out” to my girlfriend over a period of years which entailed a process of “testing the waters” and ongoing conversations as my understanding and self-awareness developed.  It was difficult to articulate something that I didn’t fully understand myself.

What type of reactions did you hear? Which one those reactions shocked you?

Some people said “Oh you don’t seem like a boy.”  Others thought it could be a phase.  Fortunately, most people were supportive and were happy for me that I my authentic self was now on display and saw coming out as brave.  Nothing shocked me but I was pleasantly surprised by how supportive people were.  As humans, I guess we tend to worry about the worst-case scenario which can be paralyzing.  In reality, I felt like I gave loved ones the opportunity to expand their minds, their worldview, and their sense of compassion for those who are different from them.  I also felt like people were better able to see their own sense of bravery through me.

Do you have a robust support system in place? Can you explain where you draw support from?

In September 2017 I started seeing a therapist – Dr. April Owen who had a profound effect on my life.  She believed in me and affirmed my gender identity.  After 5 years of working through internalized transphobia and the feeling that I could be crazy, she made me feel normal.  With her support, I was able to transition and words cannot convey how grateful I am to her.  If I could change just one person’s life in the way that she changed mine, I would die a happy person.   This is one of the reasons I chose to go into life coaching.   I also feel so much gratitude for my partner as she has stood by me through everything and with her support, I was able to transition without feeling like I could loose her.  Our process was not an easy one but she is open-minded and loves me as a person so whether I looked like a man or woman did not matter to her. I am full of gratitude for her. Her support bolstered my confidence to trust my truth of self.  We have been happily together for nine years!  My parents love me unconditionally so that provided a foundation of support as well.

Name one myth, if you can correct it for the readers and myself?

Myth#1: Transgender people all live unhappy, abnormal lives devoid of healthy relationships.  False.  Many transgender people live successful, happy, fulfilling lives and enjoy good relationships, meaningful jobs and friendships just like everyone else.  Trans people are normal people. 

Myth#2:  You can spot a transgender person.  False.  Many times, you cannot tell the difference between a trans person and a non-trans person.  You have probably met a transgender person without even knowing it.

What type of support would you tell somebody that wants to take the step to live as transgender?

Get a gender-affirming therapist, counselor or life coach who specializes in transgender issues.  Meet other transgender people in your community or at least online, through Facebook groups for example.  Being around other transgender people is important in normalizing transgender and also feeling a sense of solidarity.  Become mindful and develop good boundaries.  Know that your transgender journey can be different from everyone else’s and there is no right or wrong way to be transgender.  Be cognizant of your negative self-talk; you are worthy, you are normal, you are good enough, and you have the bravery and confidence to live life as your authentic being despite what society thinks of you!

Where do you see your life going as a transgender in the future?

I feel like the possibilities are endless and this is the most exciting and empowering feeling.  If I have the courage to come out as transgender, I believe I have the courage to do anything. I believe that everyone has the courage to be who they want to be!  Right now, I am focusing on my life coaching business so that I can help other transgender people and parents of transgender children.  I eventually want to write and have books published and also partner with other transgender people in the community to make the biggest impact possible.  I have a passion for helping society to re-frame how we think about being transgender and normalizing the transgender experience.  Transgender people are ahead of the times and I with a compassionate mindset, I want to help the rest of society catch up.  Adopting a wider perspective on gender not only liberates trans people, it liberates all people from self-limiting definitions of existence.

If there is someone reading this wants to talk with you can they email you, or any other type of communication?

Yes, I can be reached by email at:

Facebook: Out and Proud Life Coaching

IG:@ ChristianJCoach

I truly hope that you found Christian’s story enlightening. Now take a minute a read his posts at: Translating Transgender

Christian, thank you so much for this interview. You provided us insight concerning transgender!

I am looking for others to interview. If that is you send a message by using the Contact Page. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Mental Health, Mental Wellbeing – Some Facts

“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.” Fred Rogers

A couple posts back I wrote a post titled “Mental Health & Access To Health Care“.

In the comment section Chelsea Owen wrote the following:

It all gets paid for, one way or another. The U.S. health system bothers me because health insurance companies are clearly for-profit entities yet everyone talks about them in NewSpeak like they are not. Still, a socialized system like yours gets its funding from somewhere. The medications that companies use often come from the megalithic pharmaceutical process in the U.S.; expensive, but thorough.

How do we pay for it? Save up. Does mental health get coverage? Not usually. If it does, it’s a percentage or a copay or a “you can see these doctors but not these.” A FB friend posted about how she cannot get good help for her daughter unless she pays $1600 a month…

Well that comment started me thinking. So, hello Google here I come. So the following was inspired by Chelsea Ann Owens. Thank you Chelsea!

U.S. News ranks top 10 countries with the most well developed healthcare systems

Alyssa Rege – Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

Top 10 Countries By HealthcareBest Country Overall
6United Kingdom6
The United States Did Not Make The Cut

What Is Mental Health and Mental Wellbeing

Mental Health Definition:

“Mental health is not just the absence of mental disorder. It is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

Mental Wellbeing Index Definition

DeveloperPsychiatric Research Unit. Mental Health Centre North Zealand, Hillerød, Denmark.

Year: 1998

“The WHO-5 Well-Being Index is a questionnaire that measures current mental well-being (time frame the previous two weeks).” Originally developed to assess both positive and negative well-being, this five question version use only positively phrased questions to avoid symptom-related language.

Mental Wellbeing Index

  1. United Arab Emirates
  2. Indonesia
  3. Mongolia
  4. Kenya
  5. Thailand
  6. Israel
  7. Iceland
  8. Malta
  9. Canada
  10. United States of America

So dear reader, once again thank you Chelsea Ann Owens for inspiring this post!

p.s – *** I am tossing around the thought of writing about the word “Socialist”. There is some confusion about what that term means. I can pretty well say that what it meant when it first came into man’s vocabulary compared to today are very much different.***

The Interview – Overcoming OCD – Mark Wester

I first came upon Mark Wester’s blog, Overcoming OCD while researching about OCD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, due to a revelation by my daughter. I had no prior knowledge about this issue.

Since then Mark and myself have been interacting through our comment section. Several days ago Mark sent me a message through email that he would like to be interviewed. So, I took several days to gather my thoughts about questions I would like to ask. I sent the questions to Mark. I mentioned to him to take his time in answering them. Today I received those answers. Below you will find my interview with Mark Wester of the blog “Overcoming OCD“.

Mark’s Interview

Mark for the readers and myself tell us something about yourself that is not on your blog.

I have been telling a lot about myself on my blog so it’s actually pretty difficult to think of something that’s worth mentioning and that I have never talked about but let me try. I was raised in a very multicultural family – I am of Hungarian, Romanian, German and Jewish origin – and I think it’s because of my family background that I love learning foreign languages and I am addicted to traveling. I have been to most of European countries and my dream is to travel the whole world – obviously, only when the pandemic is over.

Why did you start your blog?

I started my blog last December when I was going through a pretty difficult period – I didn’t really know what I wanted from life and I had no motivation to do anything except working, spending money on useless things and going to pubs. Well, I know that the description I have just given you doesn’t really make it sound like a „difficult” period but believe me, it was. I was having a kind of existential crisis because I just didn’t know what I was going to do with my life and my drinking problem also started to go out of control

And then, one day I felt that I just had to write about the things that’d been going on in my mind. It was such an amazing feeling when I saw that my posts could actually help people so I decided that I would just carry on writing. And I would love to say a big thank you to all my readers for supporting me!

Where do you see your blog going?

I have never been much of a planner but what I know at the moment is that I will carry on writing about my OCD. And at the same time, I am planning to write more about other things that can affect our mental health – especially about LGBT+ rights or Learning & Development as these are the topics I feel very passionate about.
Furthermore, I would love to have more guest posts on my blog as we’re all different and the OCD management techniques that work for me may not work for all my readers. So I really think it would be important to have other people sharing their personal experiences on my blog.

Describe what is OCD, how it is diagnosed.
What is OCD?

Well, it’s difficult to give a short answer to this question as I could literary write tens of pages about it. But in a nutshell, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a disorder in which people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions).

A common example I can give to describe what obsessions and compulsions feel like is checking if the door’s locked. And by saying that, I do not mean that double-checking the front door means that you have OCD because it’s more than that.

Let’s take me as an example, I need to check my door locks several times a day. When I leave home, I will always need to check it 15 times. So, my checking habit is my compulsion and my obsession is that I think that if I do not check it enough times, something terrible will happen. And this terrible thing isn’t necessarily a burglar breaking into my home but it can also be a horrifying accident that happens to one of my loved ones. So there isn’t always a rational link between the obsession and the compulsion.

And in addition to the obsessions and the compulsions, there’s also the feeling of doubt and guilt. In the 19th century, OCD was known as the „doubting” disease because it can really make you doubt the most fundamental things in your life.

How Is It Diagnosed?

Only trained therapists can diagnose OCD – and I am not one, so I do not think I would be the best person to talk about the diagnostic process. However, I have found an article that I think could help those who’re interested in it:

When was it when you received your diagnosis?
Almost 10 years ago, when I was a senior in high school.

Are there medications to help with OCD?
Yes, there are. The reason why I do not normally write about this topic on my blog is that I am not a certified therapist so I do not think I have enough knowledge to talk about different OCD medications. Also, every country has their own regulations when it comes to medications as well as their own brand name – and I am based out of Hungary while I have readers from all over the planet.

However, what I know is that the medications that are approved in the US to treat OCD include Prozac, Zoloft and Anafranil.

Do you also suffer with depression?
No, I do not. But I know depression is one of the comorbidities that can overlap with OCD.

Do you have support [i.e. Psychiatrist, Group Therapy, Friends, and Family]?
I am a very extroverted person and I do have a lot of support from the people around me.

I think I am very lucky because my family, friends and co-workers have always been very supportive. They’re always there when I need someone to talk to and it really means a lot to me. Honestly, I do not know what I would do without them.

Do the citizens where you live understand what OCD is?
Now, this is a complex question. First of all, I can only speak from my own personal experience and I was born and raised in the city centre of Budapest, in a district that’s well-known for being open-minded and liberal – some people even refer to it as “the bubble”.

And secondly, according to statistics, Hungary has one of the highest overall rate of mental illness in the world with over 10% of the population experiencing depressive symptoms and about 4% suffering from OCD. What’s more, I recently came across an article which said that 1 out of 10 Hungarians has drinking problems.

The reason why I am telling you all this is just to illustrate that mental health issues are often talked about in our society. Again, I am not sure what it is like in other parts of the country, but I can tell you that in the capital, I haven’t really experienced any stigma or discrimination due to my mental health problems.

However, when it comes to OCD, I think most people do not really understand what it is – unless they’re suffering from it or have a friend or family member who has OCD. The older generations tend to think that it’s a form of depression and younger people who’re more likely to watch American TV shows have pretty much the same stereotype that I guess many of you are familiar with: that OCD is just about cleaning and orderliness.

What myths would you like to squash here in this interview? Go ahead take as much time as you need. People need to know these things.

That’s a very good question! There are a lot of myths I would like to squash. Might actually just give you a list!

  1. OCD isn’t just about cleaning or the love for symmetry

It’s a mental disorder that can turn one’s life into living hell (unless it’s properly managed, of course). While there are OCD sufferers who spend a crazy amount of time keeping things neat and organized, people with OCD can have obsessions related to a much wider variety of things including fear of harming others, unwanted sexual thoughts, fear of losing control or blasphemous thoughts.

2. You cannot be a “little OCD”

First of all, OCD is not an adjective and the letter “D” in it stands for Disorder. So saying that “you’re a little bit OCD” would be the same as if you were saying that “you’re a little flu”.

And while many people have intrusive thoughts or even obsessions that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have OCD. So if you think you have OCD-like symptoms, seek professional help to find out what’s going on. And if you’re just using the word “OCD” to describe your love for cleaning, there are plenty of words you could replace it with!

3. You can see when someone has OCD

If you met me in person, I am sure you would never figure out I had OCD. I’m outgoing, loud and I hate cleaning. So I guess I do not match the stereotype!

What advice would you give to someone who just received their diagnosis of OCD?
It will get better. Receiving a diagnosis is the first step to recovery.

This is what one of my friends said a few years ago when I felt that my OCD was going out of control. At that time, I thought it was just so cliché – like a typical thing people would tell you. But that friend of mine has OCD and she’s 10 years older than me so she really knew what she was saying.

And she was completely right. It has gotten better. Of course, it hasn’t been easy and I had to work a lot in order to learn how to keep my OCD under control – and I’m still working on it and I’m still learning.

OCD is like an evil monster that wants to make you believe that you cannot control your own life. But believe me, you can! It will not go away on its own and it’s you who needs to fight it and you’re strong enough to do it!

Last question, Where do you see yourself in maybe ten years?
As I mentioned earlier, I have never been much of a planner. I work as a Learning & Development specialist and I’m happy with my career and I think I’m pretty good at my job. My biggest dream has always been to become an author and I’m currently working on a novel that I’d like to publish. It’s about a guy whose life is ruined by OCD and alcoholism and about his journey to get his life back.

So, I guess I see myself working in the education field or if my dreams come true, as an author – I’m happy with either.

I hope that all who read this interview will take a few minutes and visit Overcoming OCD.

I would like to say “Thank You” to Mark for this interview!

Mental Health & Access To Healthcare

***Let me state that I truly do not understand the healthcare system for my neighbors to the south of the border***

Yesterday I just happened to look at all my medications, on how much they would cost me if I did not have compassionate help from my province. That left me uneasy because I can see the top of the hill when I will turn sixty-five.

I read and hear in the news about the price of prescriptions keep going higher. There are those who must make a choice, medication or basic necessities.

Then there are the wait times for diagnostic scans. My last MRI I waited nine months. I am now waiting again for another one.

I realized yesterday that when I write about mental health I write it with a bit of a bubble. I forget that not everyone has basic healthcare for free.

I cannot imagine how many in America at this time, this place, are coping especially when it comes to health care. All I understand is that in the States you have to buy coverage through an insurance company. So I guess if you do not have that insurance you have no access to the healthcare system.

It is my understanding that the emergency departments are overwhelmed at the best of times, I hear that for some it is the only access they have to seek medical help. Then what, the Physician gives you a prescription but if you cannot afford it then basically you still do not have access to the system.

Now life has so many challenges, housing, food, school, taxes, and health. It can be smooth if you have a job to go to, that pay a living wage where you are not below the poverty line.

Now add to all of that a new challenge, mental health issues. It must be feel like hell if you are one of those who cannot access healthcare.

I am sure that there are horrendous stories right here in my own country of Canada. I can remember how my grandparents did not jump to go to see a doctor, they had remedies they would use instead. It came to my thought the reason for this. Canada at one time did not have the healthcare system that we have now. They would have had to pay for the doctor’s visit, pay for child birth. My generation and those that follow know nothing else but our current system.

So dear reader to have good mental health you need to have access to good healthcare! My heart goes out to those who are struggling at this time!

Mental Health & Finances

“If you don’t take care of your money your money won’t take care of you.”
― Mac Duke The Strategist

I feel everyone reading this will relate to parts of what I am about to write. Why, because money is the one area of our life that can either make life easy, or it can enslave us till our death.

I was not very adept in managing my finances. When I stop and think of all the money I have wasted on just a crazy whim on stupid things, things I really didn’t need, just some crazy on the moment want.

I was always chasing for enough money to take care of the necessities, in some ways I was like a dog who chases his tail, a futile effort. I was horrible at managing my bank account. Writing a cheques then hoping I could find the money to cover it so that it would not come back as “insufficient funds”.

For a guy who went to an all academic school, taking business courses including three years of accounting I was a walking disaster when it came to handling money. It would come in one hand just so I could spend it before it would burn a hole in my pocket.

I still know the feeling of jumping every time the phone would ring, thinking it was probably another bill collector. Also having no phone because I couldn’t pay the bill. All of this contributes to a heavy case of depression, over the top anxieties.

My heart goes out to students entering College, University and by the time they leave their debt burden can be close to $250,000.00 dollars. For some it takes them a life time to pay off that debt. I have often thought that somewhere between kindergarten and grade twelve there should be a mandatory course on financial management.

Over the past sixteen years I have finally arrived at managing money, no phones ringing with bill collectors threatening legal action. Keeping all the bills paid, having some credit with companies in case of household emergencies such as electrical or plumbing. I do not have one credit card in my name. I strictly pay cash, if I do not have the cash to buy something it will remain on the store shelf.

With finally able to manage money my anxieties are ninety-nine percent gone. I now can sleep at night knowing that the power will not be disconnected. That when I go to the fridge that there will be food there.

On a down note, I have been seriously praying for all those who have lost their jobs because of covid-19. Those who have children and must juggle teaching them at home or going to work to put food on their table. I am probably correct that conversations at the tables around the world are not jovial, but rather a one full of fretting and worry.

So dear reader I felt that this topic, “Mental Health & Finances” is very relevant now and it should be relevant from the time we leave high school.

Dear Reader

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
― Leo Buscaglia

Dear Reader:

I wish I could sit down with you over coffee, listen to you about your life experiences, but that is not possible, so I decided to write instead.

I have gone through a transformation that started when I left the ministry. I could no longer with sincerity a gospelize a message that seemed to exclude rather than include.

During this process I sought to learn about others, those of different ethnicity. Those who love others of the same gender, to listen to the atheist to understand why they don’t believe in God. I found all I had to do was start the conversation then sit and just listen to their personal story.

I use to consider myself an evangelical, I no longer make that claim. To be honest I am somewhat baffled by the things they have placed their stamp of approval on. Things that they use to preach against.

Listening without prejudice I found is the biggest step, to cast aside all those things that we have allowed our sight to become clouded. Many of the things I have learned in my life just didn’t fit with how I was starting to feel on this road to transformation.

I have always cheered for the down and out. The one who has been bruised and scarred feeling like life has dealt them a bad hand.

When I first started this blog I had a vision, a vision that would give people a hand up, an open hand, never a clenched fist. I did not know how to go about what I had envisioned, but now I believe that I can bring forth what I saw.

The upcoming two Interviews come from totally different arenas. The first Interview was a trained clinician of whom I have come to respect.

So dear reader I hope you will listen to some of the voices that I am asking to share their life’s story through the series of Interviews.

F.Y.I. – Upcoming

As of this morning I now have two new interviews in the making.

These interviews are what I envisioned when I first created this blog, hence the word “Rethinking”.

It is my true belief that we could end many troubles in society just by talking with each other, but even greater importance, that we listen.

The first interview with Ashley of Mental Health @ Home was well received. It is the cornerstone of this series of interviews.

I am also excited at this achievement, three interviews, three different countries!

So dear reader place a virtual bookmark here and keep a lookout for these upcoming interviews! You will not want to miss them!

A Re-blog: Suicide Prevention Awareness Month 2020 — My Brain’s Not Broken

*** I have tried several times to write a post about the subject of “suicide” but I deleted them because of the affects it was doing to my mental health. Below is an excellent article, timely, and informative.***

Suicide is a public health issue, and we’re here to talk about education, prevention and resources.

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month 2020 — My Brain’s Not Broken

Looking – The Interview

I am so pleased on how the initial interview went with Mental Health @ Home by Ashley L. Peterson.

So I am looking for someone else to interview. Again, no gotcha questions, nothing embarrassing.

So dear reader if you would volunteer to be interview I would like to hear from you. Use the contact form and in the first sentence use the word “Interview”. Then I will contact you back.

Lessons Learned While Blogging

“Create. Not for the money. Not for the fame. Not for the recognition. But for the pure joy of creating something and sharing it.”
― Ernest Barbaric

I have written about why I started blogging, group session gave us different ways to handle depression.

What I haven’t written about are some of the lessons that blogging has taught me along this journey.

I have always loved to read, blogging however has instilled in me the joy of writing. Now I am no Hemingway, but, I look back over the years I see quite a difference in the way, the style of my writing.

Here are some other lessons I have been taught since blogging:

  • It has given me purpose. Purpose that I felt I had lost when I stepped down from active ministry.
  • It has opened up so many doors. The people I have had the pleasure of getting to know them through their own blogs. Also when they interact with myself.
  • That we have more in common than that which we are different.
  • I now know I am not the only one with some of the struggles I face from day to day.
  • I have been reminded that on the whole people really are warm and caring.

There are probably many more lessons since I started this journey. All in all though I can honestly proclaim, “I have no regrets”.

So dear reader I would encourage you to do a deep dive within yourself to find some lessons you have learned since you started blogging.

Last Night I Cried – Commentary

Just when you think it that it cannot get any worse, it does!

Last night I sat down to watch our local news, something that I like to do in the evening, basically for the weather report.

While watching a news story hit me like a hammer. A man, Daniel Prude lost his life in Rochester, NY. He was having a mental episode, naked in the street. Police trying to contain him and while doing so were spat at. For that reason they placed over his head what is called a “Spit Hood”. Daniel began to show signs of stress, he vomited in that hood.

EMS were called to the scene and immediately told the officers to roll him back over on his back, then proceeded to start CPR, upon arrival Daniel was pronounced brain dead. Daniel Prude died seven days later, the medical examiner ruled it a homicide.

What I saw was the inhumane treatment of a human being by other humans. Reader, we treat our animals more humanely.

I keep thinking that someone will step up and say “enough is enough”, but no one does. How much more can a nation take before it starts to crumble, a house divided surely cannot stand.

So dear reader, last night I cried!

Mental Health & Hygiene

“Your mental health is a priority. Your happiness is an essential. Your self-care is a necessity.”

When I was in treatment there was one thing that was stressed, that was our hygiene. So here is the way things went basically every day.

Every day was basically the same. When you are first admitted, this was usually for someone who has never been a patient, a tour of the ward. Tour would be your room, the shower/bath, dining area, television, and where they keep your personal things like cigarettes, money, etc.,

They would walk you through how the day will progress, meals, group sessions, free time, breaks for smoking. The one thing the strongly stressed is that you have a shower/bath and get dressed. It wasn’t encouraged to stay in your pajamas.

On the floor there was a laundry room to wash and dry your clothes. They believed that this would basically be what you would do in your own home.

Meals were at eight, noon, five o’clock. You would be given a menu to fill out for the week. After you were done eating it was up to you to put your tray back in the cart.

There were basically two group sessions every day. I cannot recall the times that they were.

The rest of the time was basically yours to do whatever.

Again, the major stressed point was our hygiene, they would kindly remind you by asking if you have taken a shower yet.

So dear reader I realize that when you are in the depths of depression the easy way is just stay in bed, leave your pajamas on, and skip the shower/bath. Self-care is essential to keeping a good mental health state.

What Is Good Mental Health?

“I found that with depression, one of the most important things you can realize is that you’re not alone. You’re not the first to go through it, you’re not gonna be the last to go through it,” Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

While doing some research about Good Mental Health I came upon this brief article explaining just that, What Is Good Mental Health?

What Is Good Mental Health?

Good mental health is not simply the absence of diagnosable mental health problems, although good mental health is likely to help protect against development of many such problems.

Good mental health is characterized by a person’s ability to fulfil a number of key functions and activities, including:

  • the ability to learn
  • the ability to feel, express and manage a range of positive and negative emotions
  • the ability to form and maintain good relationships with others
  • the ability to cope with and manage change and uncertainty.

Source: Mental Health Org

Summer 2020 – What I Don’t Hear

“Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity.” – Kay Redfield Jamison

I woke up this morning to the sound of rain hitting my tin roof. It brought back a picture of a child sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor banging a pot with a wooden spoon.

It goes without saying that this year was one of total shutdown, no sports, no beaches, airlines grounded. Most summers here it is not unusual to hear children playing outdoors, maybe some with chalk drawing pictures on the pavement. Driving around the neighborhood the cooling station is empty, missing was the kids running around in the water with their laughter ringing out with a mixture of the odd squeal mixed in.

It brought back memories of my daughter when she was old enough to sit on the floor with her toys scattered about. Every once in awhile I would join her in her playtime. Sometimes I would place her on my lap while I sat at the organ playing, her tiny hands placed on the back of mine.

This year has grabbed out attention to what we know call “Covid-19”. You cannot help not hearing the term with it’s full coverage on every newscast, magazine, and newspaper.

For this writer it is not what we are hearing, but rather, it is what is not being heard. Like I have already mentioned, the sounds of children, also missing this year is the socializing that I loved when going from one garage sale to the next. Just the fun of looking at what others are selling.

What is not being heard is the sound of bands in our city park playing at the band shell with people listening while sitting in the grass soaking up some pure Vitamin D.

What is not being heard or seen is the famous “Snowbirds” flying in air shows across Canada and the United States. Tragedy grounded them during a time when Canadians were reeling at the fact of a mass shooting in the Province of Nova Scotia. They were taking and flying across the land to bring some cheer to counter balance a horrific event.

So dear reader let me ask you, what isn’t being heard around you?

Just Imagine

“We seek to escape the dark cave of a despondent mind by either dulling oneself mentally or through imaginative acts. One form of escapism is daydreaming.”
― Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls

***This is not about the John Lennon song, “Imagine”. It is my favorite song by far!***

This morning like every morning I get up, put the coffee maker on, sit down and take my morning pills. A boring routine!

Today was a bit different, I found myself daydreaming wondering what my mornings would be like if I didn’t have to take my meds.

I find myself daydreaming quit a lot. For example, I see on a show a nice grand piano and I wonder what it would be like to have it in my home.

Maybe my daydreaming is an escape mechanism, but when you are basically house bound it allows me to roam around different places, events.

However it can become quite more serious, when I start believing that my daydreams are reality. I am not a psychiatrist, I have a feeling that is when it becomes serious. The reason I am writing about this is because I have dealt with an aunt who is Schizophrenia. She is fine while she is on her routine of meds, but I have seen her and interacted with her when she has come off her meds.

So dear reader I find my daydreaming fun, fun to imagine driving a sports car, living in a log cabin. Well I think you get the point!