The Interview Moderated By Ashley L. Peterson of Mental Health At Home


Several days ago I had an idea which I thought might be interesting. The idea; flip the scenario of the interview. The questions would not be posed by me, but, it would be from someone else, the questions would be for me.

So, I needed to find someone to ask if they would help with this project. The person I turned to was Ashley L. Peterson of Mental Health At Home. I contacted her about a week ago to which she agree to help. If you have never visited her blog put it on your things to do list.

So below is the interview. I may revisit the questions to add to it more insight. I have tried to answer the questions with honesty and truthfully.

At this moment I want to say, “Thank you Ashley for Your Help”! I truly appreciate this!


The Interview Moderated By Ashley L. Peterson

Mental Health At Home

Were there things that your blog has allowed you to get out that weren’t able to express before?

There were many things that I could not express before. Some would be looked upon as weakness, short comings, others would be considered non Biblical. Things about gender, sexuality, race.

Did you ever feel it was necessary to mask what was going on inside you?  If so, how did you do that?

Yes, I did wear a mask. The first that held that mask on was a lack of trust. I held many things to myself, not even telling my wives, family, because I learned that familiarity is dangerous. It usually ends up with them turning on you by breaking trust. 

The next thing that I believe that held the mask on was ignorance. Believing what you have been told all of your life, things concerning the Faith. It wasn’t until I finally started my long journey of healing of my mental health that I started to question in earnest what I truly believed. I came to the conclusion that there were many things I felt was wrong, some that really did not have a sure foundation in the Scriptures.

Has there been any form of creative art or expression other than writing that’s been significant for you?  What role did that play if your life?

My whole life has been about the music, it still is. I am thankful that I have a small home organ within my home. It had a fantastic price attached to it, “FREE”. I couldn’t refuse it. When I am totally at whit’s end when possible I sit and will play old hymns and other songs. It usually quiets my mind. There are other times, especially when I need a bit of inspiration, I turn to my iTunes music. One artist is foremost is Michael Bublè, his music is similar to that of Frank Sinatra.

What role has religion played in the course your transition into adulthood and beyond?

I am going to be honest and frank, I have held onto my faith in God, but, I have let go many other things. As I said this journey of healing has been intense. It has caused me to look inward, question everything, search all things, to become honest of who I truly was as a human being. Notice I did not say “person”,  I could be any person, but who am I as a human.

Has your sense of who you are and how you relate to the world changed over time?

The resounding answer is, yes I have changed in relation of discovering who I really am.  I couldn’t see it while I was in the midst of it, but, looking back, even just over two years, I can see change.  I really do not have fear about how people see me. Yes, I hope they see the real me. Yet, I can understand that they may have, like me, trust issues.  That is where true acceptance comes into place. I hope people would respect where I am in my walk of healing, I also hope I can respect others on their walk of healing in obtaining great mental health.

How did mental illness enter your life, and what are some of the ways it affects you?

I look back at my life, especially my teenage years through my early adult years and I can see signs of mental illness already showing itself. My sudden outrage for even the littlest thing, comment, etc., Also, I can recognize the times of mania, and deep depression that inserted itself during those years.

It wasn’t until around 1990 when I started experiencing panic attacks. One time while grocery shopping in an almost empty store I suffered with a severe panic attack. I left the cart in the aisle and ran back to my bachelor apartment a block away. It wasn’t long after that when I attempted my first suicide.

At times it has left me mentally crippled, all my interests seemed to melt away. On the mania times it was almost nonstop activity.

There were many mornings where I would wake up with no memory of the night before. No recollection of conversations, what I ate, what I did like watching television. My best friend would find me passed out in the oddest places, once under my sewing machine. It left him terrified every time he would come into my house in the morning.

What have been some of the most difficult times or circumstances you’ve dealt with in terms of your mental health?

The hardest time of dealing with my mental health condition was the very first time, the time when I woke up in the mental health ward after the attempted suicide. 

I basically stayed to myself, did not interact with others who were also dealing with mental health issues. My memory of it is vague, basically going to the smoking room. There was the first day that they decided that we should watch the movie “Groundhog Day”. I remember, why this, what does it have to do with me getting out of here. Honestly, I still have no answer for that movie.

Has family played a major role for you?  Have there been certain family events that were particularly significant in your life?

Family meant something for me, I should clarify, my maternal family. I was very close to my grandfather and grandmother. I felt more at home there then I did at my parent’s home. I felt accepted there, yet I am glad they were not around in my worst days. I sometimes wonder how they would have reacted.

I only have one blood relative that I am close to, being my maternal aunt. She has always been a part of my life, babysitting, singing, just there. After she goes my connection to that part of family will be gone.

I am now a grandfather of three, my daughter, and those children are now my world. They love talking with me when they are here, they have their heads in the right place. The oldest, my granddaughter, just turned thirteen.

Were there things from your childhood, either positive or negative, that have really stuck with you over time?

There are two things that have stuck with me over time. How I deal with others, growing up in a multi-cultural area it wasn’t a big thing to have friends, acquaintances, from other cultures, etc, Maybe it was because of my mother and grandmother. I never heard an unkind word, slur, put down, to come from their lips. I could take any of my friend’s home or to my grandmother’s knowing they would be accepted without question.

The other would be anger. I decided as a kid that I did not want that in my life. My dad would explode at the slightest slight. It was to the point that I would make excuses when he would ask if I wanted to play a game of Chess. I always said no, I knew if he lost, it just might mean an eruption of anger. If I am around someone who shows anger of that sort I find myself looking for the exit. I can be angry at something, but never to the point where it is physical or emotionally.

Are there life choices you’ve made that you feel grateful for or regret now?

There are probably many things I regret now, only because hindsight is always twenty-twenty. Dropping out of high school, two divorces, not always being there for my daughter while she was growing up. Those are probably the ones that come to the top of my thoughts.

The biggest thing that I can be truly grateful is that I can to the acknowledgment that I needed help, that I sought help, and that I continue to work to achieve great mental health.

The other is that I have learned how a true friend acts. I write about my best friend, twenty plus years. He has been there through my worst. Days where I lashed out at him, times when I would threaten to move away from him. He has been in the room with my family doctor, Psychiatrist, and all other specialists. He also manages my medications, which came about during one of my inpatient times. While at home I was double dosing my Oxycontin medication. So there was an agreement between myself, my doctors, and at that time my Pharmacist, that was back in 2004. He still goes with me to my appointments, sometimes is because my mobility is not at its best, mostly because my short term memory is spotty.


P.S. – That is the interview. Let me say this, I am not done with my journey towards great mental health. There are issues that I am still struggling with, issues that at this time cannot disclose.

If you read this, if you are also on your journey towards great mental health, let me give you a word of encouragement.

You are not alone, there are others on a similar journey with issues all of their own. There will be others after you. Please help those who are coming up with words of encouragement, make them feel at home that they have a safe place.

So dear reader keep keeping on!

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

Mens Mental Health – Myths

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A real man ain’t a coward, he stands by what he says, admits his faults, and corrects his mistakes.    

Kiki Strack

Starting with this post I will be exploring Mens Mental Health from time to time.  For this post I want to take a look at myths about men.

Myths:

  • Big boys don’t cry – I read somewhere that crying is a release of our pent up frustrations. It is a release of all thing toxic.  Maybe if men would allow themselves to cry there wouldn’t be outbursts of rage.
  • Men Don’t Show Emotions – God forbid if a man was to place a hand on the shoulder of someone hurting, or if they were to hug a man who is in need of comforting.  I cannot recall one instance where my father ever showed a compassionate side towards me. Never once spoke the words to me, “I Love you”. I say that every time I talk to my daughter, grandchildren, and other.  The only emotion that they are comfortable showing is anger.
  • Men don’t talk to their sons about sex. Instead they have the attitude of “let them learn it like I did, on the streets.  Could it be that maybe what their sons are learning on the streets is the cause for many of them to become abusive emotionally and physically to women. Men you need to talk openly and honestly about sex, what it is and what it is not. My father never once talked to me concerning puberty, sex, etc.,

There are probably many more myths about what a real man is. But, the myths must be taken down, stripped away, to allow real men to step forward.

So dear reader if you know of a myth about real men please bring it to my attention using the comment section.

Pride, Prejudice, Psychology!

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“Understand that sexuality is as wide as the sea. Understand that your morality is not law. Understand that we are you. Understand that if we decide to have sex whether safe, safer, or unsafe, it is our decision and you have no rights in our lovemaking.”
― Derek Jarman

Pierre Elliot Trudeau: {1967} ‘There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation’

prej·u·dice
/ˈprejədəs/
noun
      1. 1.
        preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.
        “English prejudice against foreigners”

 

I have been giving this post a lot of thought over the past several days.  I wanted the best quotes I could find about the subject. The first one is new to me, but, the second one is from the Senior Prime Minister Trudeau, which I learned about in high school.

I feel safe in saying that many of us have preconceived ideas about one thing or another.  Where did we learn these things, from our parents, peers, school, reading, or television.

Imagine if our preconceived idea of seeing a man and woman holding hands was repulsive.  Maybe denied insurance coverage for being a heterosexual being, or portrayed on tv shows as some type of freak.  Now, how would you feel? Some would hide the fact of their sexuality, pretend to be gay, or just outright be proud of being heterosexual.

Now how would your mental health be doing?  Over time not so good, thoughts of depression, inferiority feelings, to the point to where there is contemplation of suicide.

I believe I have described the life of a LGBTQ person over the past forty years. Here are some facts from Homewood Health

LGBTQ+ Mental Health Facts1:

  • Members of LGBTQ+ communities face higher rates of depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive and phobic disorders, suicidality, self-harm and substance use
  • Members of LGBTQ are twice as likely to experience childhood maltreatment, interpersonal; violence, and personal loss
  • The risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) within the LGBTQ+ community is double that of those that identify as heterosexual
  • Sexual minority individuals are two and a half times more likely to attempt suicide and are one and a half times more likely to have depression and anxiety than heterosexual peers
  • LGBTQ+ youth face approximately 14 times the risk of suicide and substance abuse as heterosexual peers
  • Some research suggests that abuse of alcohol, tobacco and other substances may be two to four times higher among those that identify as LGBTQ

So dear reader, when you are thinking some preconceived idea about a person, persons, gender, think about this post!

We Need Superheroes!

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Public Domain Pictures

A true hero isn’t measured by the size of his strength, but by the size of his heart.     

Zeus

Read morehttp://www.wiseoldsayings.com/superhero-quotes/#ixzz6G2ZnLOwL

Growing up I watched cartoons and live action superheroes.  There was Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Aquaman, and many more.

I also had heroes like a couple of my teachers, some of my family.  These were the ones I knew if I needed to talk they would listen.

My best friend is a retired teacher.  He once told me that he wouldn’t want to teach today.  He says the environment is different. He mentioned that today you wouldn’t be able to put your arm around a grieving child, and many more situations.  

The school system is under attack.  Overcrowded rooms, under paid teachers, government cuts.  All these are to the detriment of the students.  When I was in my junior year of high school the teachers went out on strike.  The tension was great on both sides.  The students however were the ones that suffered, students had to spend their summer in summer school to make up for time lost during the strike.

I look around to see if there are any superheroes out there. The one who puts his head above the crowd, cares less about the consequences and just does the right thing.  Sometimes at the peril of his job or his standing among friends. 

Growing up American parents were proud to tell their children, “one day you could be president”.  A young person would aspire to be a teacher, a leader in the community.  Now people cower fearing if they stand up for something they may face ridicule, scorn, laughed at, and the worse a law suit.

I have three grandchildren and my thoughts about their future is clouded by what type of country they will have.  Today’s society has grown toxic.  Name calling, body shaming, gender bullying, and the list goes on.

Think what you like you like but I some someone with courage during the Democratic Primaries.  It doesn’t matter to me how you feel about sexuality but hats off to Mayor Pete from South Bend Indiana.  He went after his dream, no concern about those who would throw tomatoes.

I am a fifty-eight year old man who once had some heroes, I find myself today looking high and low for some more super heroes.  No, not the ones who can leap over tall buildings, swing around the city on spider webs.  A hero who stands for something, follows his conviction, one that honors his word.  When he speaks you know you can count on it to be his honest view.

Little girls need heroes too, one that can raise a family, have a career, and be a pillar in their community.  For most little girls their hero is their dad, or their mom.

Sorry Tina Turner, but we do need another hero/es!