TED Talks on Trauma

TED Talks logo

This week’s round of TED Talks are focused on trauma and come from a diverse range of experiences.




Nadine Burke Harris: How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime

In this talk, Nadine Burke Harris passionately addresses the findings of the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) study.  This study found a significant correlation between number of ACEs and long-term health outcomes, and Dr. Burke Harris explains how ACEs affect the developing brain.  She also uses science to challenge assumptions that are sometimes made, such as the idea that negative health outcomes are due to high-risk behaviours such as substance use.  For anyone who’s not familiar with the ACEs research I would highly recommend watching this talk.


Melissa Walker: Art Can Heal People’s Invisible Wounds

Melissa Walker is an art therapist who works with veterans with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries.  She found mask-making was highly effective in helping this population process the trauma they had experienced.  This is a remarkable example of the healing power of art.


Roberta Brachman: Could a drug prevent depression and PTSD?

In this talk, neuroscientist Rebecca Brachman discusses the potential role of ketamine as a “paravaccine”, something that could improve stress resilience in vulnerable individuals  in order to prevent the development of PTSD or depression.  In tests conducted in her lab, a single injection of ketamine in mice offered protection from the effects of stress for weeks after receiving the shot.  She also talks about some of the things that stand in the way of moving forward with this.


Hector Garcia: We Train Soldiers For War, Let’s Train Them to Come Home

Hector Garcia speaks about the effectiveness of PTSD treatments that can capitalize on military training to help veterans recover.  Military personnel are highly trained to rationally gauge the statistical probabilities of danger, and this same type of approach can be used to help veterans accurately evaluate probabilities of danger back in the home setting.  He also likened exposure therapy to a form of field training.  This is a fascinating look at how familiar treatments can be adapted to serve this vulnerable population who are often silenced by stigma.


Meera Vijayann: Finding Your Voice Against Gender Violence

Meera Vijayann experienced sexual assault multiple times while growing up in India, beginning at age 7.  An important part of her recovery journey has been to engage in activism.  This was prompted by the horrific news of the woman who was gang-raped on a bus in Delhi and left to die.  Meera posted a vlog in response, which garnered international attention and helped her to realize that her voice mattered.  She continued to speak up about gender-based violence in India, with the goal of encouraging other women to use their voices to bring about social change.  Though her voices breaks as she recounts her experiences at the opening, this is a talk that is very much about finding strength following adversity.

My fav – movie!

what's your fav #wyf movie

It’s the very last round of What’s Your Favorite over at Revenge of Eve, soon to be replaced with Get 2 Know #G2K.  The final #wyf theme is movie.  I would have picked Dirty Dancing, but since Eve picked that already, I’ll take a detour on the memory lane back to the 80’s and go with Top Gun.  Back in the day when Val Kilmer was still hot and before Tom Cruise got all kinds of crazy.  And Kelly McGillis in all her 80’s glory confessing to Tom Cruise that she’s fallen for him, leading up to the classic blue back-lit bedroom scene….  shivers….


This is a guest post I did on Kayleigh Rose’s blog.


I’m super excited to be writing on Kayleigh Rose’s blog.  We have a couple of big things in common: a passion for mental health, and mental health nursing as a chosen career.

When I first became a nurse, mental illness was something that happened to other people.  I cared about those people and was passionate about wanting to help them, but I wasn’t one of them.  That changed 2 1/2 years into my nursing career.  Depression slammed into me like a hurricane.  At first I was in denial that this could happen to me, but it quickly became clear that this was definitely depression.  I didn’t reach out for help, though, thinking that because I was a mental health nurse I should be able to handle it myself.  That didn’t work out very well, and it took two suicide attempts before I ended up getting help in the form of…

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Words aren’t always necessary: A guest post by Kayleigh Rose

I’ve never had guest posts on my blog before, but Kayleigh Rose will soon be joining me in the profession of mental health nursing, so when she suggested a collaboration I was pretty stoked.  You can also find a post I wrote over on her blog. – 💖 Ashley

3 women hugging overlooking a river

Unless you have experienced a mental health struggle first-hand it is, in my opinion, impossible to understand fully what someone is going through. That’s OK though- because even people living with a mental illness often find it hard to understand or explain what is going on inside their head. Sometimes it’s clear you need help, but you don’t want to talk about it or simply can’t find the words. So, you bottle it up even though support is the first step to feeling better. It’s a vicious cycle that people can quite easily find themselves slipping into. I truly believe in the saying ‘a problem shared in a problem halved’.

I’ve heard a surprising amount of people say to others, “If you don’t tell me what’s wrong, I can’t help you”. Honestly- I couldn’t disagree more. Sometimes, as humans, we don’t quite know what we want or what we need. We just know that something isn’t quite right & that we’d be a lot better if we didn’t have to face it alone. Simply noticing these early signs & seeking company can be such a helpful distraction.

As a relative or friend of someone who can struggle with their mental health- try to keep an eye on their early warning signs. Perhaps they are usually really social but start to cancel plans unexpectedly? Maybe they have lost their appetite or seem to be comfort eating? Signs like these can be noticed early & you can start to provide the support they need. You could check in on them regularly- even if it is simply a quick phone call or text message.

Sometimes, when in a negative mindset, we can forget about all of the good things. Our positive relationships, our hobbies, the things we have achieved. We may be more inclined to remember if we can enjoy these things with company. One of my favourite things to do when I feel low is to look back over happy memories with the people that are closest to me. I look at photographs & keep a memory box full of souvenirs.

What I think is most important to remember is that when you feel low, it’s not your fault. Although it’s easier said than done- don’t feel guilty, don’t feel embarrassed and don’t feel ashamed. Everyone feels low but this differs in severity depending on circumstances & stages of peoples lives. Take care of yourself in the same way you would care for family & friends because you are just as important. Finally, it’s OK not to explain & it’s OK not to have the words to tell people what is going on- but do accept support. And do accept how great you are.

What is your favourite thing to do to cheer yourself up when you are feeling low?


Kayleigh Rose

Until next time,

Love, Kayleigh Rose x


Blog: http://kayleighrosee.com

Instagram: @kayleighhroseee

Twitter: KayleighRose_96




Image credits:

Photo by Courtney Prather on Unsplash

Photo by Kayleigh Rose

Mystery Blogger Award

Mystery blogger award logo

Something mysterious is in the air…  I was nominated for the Mystery Blogger Award by Midsummer DaydreamerDiscovering Your HappinessThe Colour of MadnessGirl With the Paw Print Tattoo, and A Guy Called Bloke and Doodlepip’s Adventures.  Thank you all so much! ❤️

Why Was the Mystery Blogger Award created?

“I created the award because there are a lot of amazing blogs out there that haven’t been discovered, yet. And, most of these blogs deserve recognition. For that reason, I decided to create my own award; and nominate people who can also nominate others; and so on. This is one of the best ways to create a friendly community and build a link between bloggers in the blogosphere; as everyone gets nominated and they too can spread the fun by nominating more people for the award.” – Okoto Enigma

Mystery Blogger Award Rules:

  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog
  2. List the rules.
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  6. You have to nominate 10 – 20 people
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  9. Share a link to your best post(s)

3 things about me:

  1. I have ridden several kinds of animals: horse, donkey, camel, elephant, and dolphin
  2. I have tried sky diving, bungee jumping, and parasailing.
  3. I don’t like onions, which is annoying because they’re everywhere.

Questions from Midsummer Daydreamer:

  1.  What game or movie universe would you most like to live in?  For the most part video games haven’t been my thing, but I liked playing Legend of Zelda on my brother’s Super Nintendo because I thought the Zelda universe was cool.
  2. What would be your first question after waking up from being cryogenically frozen for 100 years? Given my potty mouth, probably something along the lines of “What the fuck is going on?”
  3. What TV show or movie do you refuse to watch? My ex used to like watching the show Robot Chicken.  I found it so obnoxious I couldn’t even be in the same room it was on.
  4. What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives? Visit a foreign country.
  5. What is something that a ton of people are obsessed with but you just don’t get the point of? Snapchat.  Maybe it’s because I’m too old, but I just don’t get it.

Questions from Discovering Your Happiness:

  1. What is your 2018 goal?  I’d like to go on a trip to Europe.
  2. What is one of your biggest accomplishments?  I’m proud of getting my masters degree in psychiatric nursing.
  3. If you could pack up & move, where would you go? I’d stay in Canada, but maybe move to a farm in a rural area.
  4. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?  I truly have no idea.  I feel like my life is too uncertain to predict that far in advance.
  5. What is one of your biggest fears?  In a physical sense spiders, and in a psychological sense bering unable to feel safe.

Questions from The Colour Of Madness:

  1. How do you see a glass, half full or half empty?  I would likely drink it very quickly, so it would be just plain empty.
  2. What do you prefer, to read a book or to listen to music?  Read a book.  I like music in the car, but otherwise prefer quiet.
  3. What do you like most about mother nature? The random assortment of amazing things all thrown in together.
  4. What is your favorite movie?  Dirty Dancing.  No one puts Baby in a corner!
  5. What do you like most about traveling?  Almost everything, so instead I’ll answer the things I don’t like: assorted nasty bathroom situations, and various intestinal beasties that necessitate frequent trips to those nasty bathrooms situations.

Questions from Girl with the Paw Print Tattoo:

  1. What actor/actress would you want to play you in a film about your life?  I’ll say Natalie Portman/Keira Knightley/Anne Hathaway.  Somehow, despite the fact that they are all 3 distinct people with very minimal resemblance to each other, in my mind they are fused into one.  And therefore I can’t pick just one.
  2. You have just woken up from being cryogenically frozen. What is your first question?  Where’s my cup of tea?
  3. What type of movie would your life be? Romance? Drama? Comedy? Horror?  I wish my life was a cheesy 80’s movie, but in reality, if I Google lists of most boring movies they’re all more interesting than my life right now.  So even though I’ve never seen it and am going entirely based on Elaine’s reaction in Seinfeld, I’ll say something along the lines of the English Patient.
  4. What TV channel doesn’t exist but really should?  The all guinea pigs all the time channel!
  5. If you were famous, what would you want to be famous for?  Kicking some serious mental health stigma ass.

Questions from A Guy Called Bloke:

  1. If you were trapped on an isolated hilltop after your plane had crashed with your family and friends, would you resort to starvation or cannibalism?  Probably starvation, not so much out of some kind of moral stance but more a matter of major ick factor.
  2. If your best friend had murdered someone would you help bury the body?  Depends on how likely I thought it would be that I’d get found out for aiding and abetting (and speaking of which, is there actually a difference between aiding and abetting?)
  3. Do you ever wonder – what next – after the end of your time? if so, what is next?  I’m hoping for nothing.  One life is plenty.
  4. You know in the movies when the victims are being chased by the terrible nasty and they hit them, and think they are dead, but look back and discover the body gone?? If this was YOU how would you ensure the thing stays dead?  I’ll go with Tesla’s death ray; I googled death ray because I thought it sounded like a thing, and turns out it (except not really).
  5. What’s the meanest thing you have ever hoped would happen to someone ……….. eh??  I feel like it might be breaking some sort of law to tell the truth on this one, so I’ll go all Ronny Jackson on y’all and plead the Fifth.

My nominees: Please don’t feel pressured to do an award post.  If you do decide to join in the fun, pick the 5 questions from among those that I was asked that grab you the most.


Thanks again to Midsummer DaydreamerDiscovering Your HappinessThe Colour of MadnessGirl With the Paw Print Tattoo, and A Guy Called Bloke and Doodlepip’s Adventures for nominating me. ❤️   Please check out all of the blogs I’ve linked to in this post, because they’re all well worth a read!

Weekend wrap-up

wrapping paper, ribbon, and twine

Here’s what happened in my life over the past week:

  • I did well with self-care.  I went to yoga, had a massage, went for walks, and spent lots of time sitting in the sun on my balcony.
  • My guinea pig Oreo has been struggling with gastrointestinal issues the last couple of weeks.  On Sunday she took a sudden turn for the worse.  Her weight was down, she was lethargic, and she was having a lot of diarrhea.  I was worried she was going to die.  My vet is closed on Sundays, but I felt conflicted about taking her in the next day because I was worried that the vet would judge me for not taking proper care of her and letting her get so sick, and recommend all sorts of expensive interventions.  I decided to put her on an all-hay diet (sort of akin to a dry toast diet) and top her up calorie-wise by syringe-feeding her a powdered food mix meant as a meal replacement for sick guineas.  She has steadily improved as the week has gone on and is back to playing with her sisters, which is a huge relief.
  • I redid the THINC-it test I’d done a few months ago that evaluates cognitive symptoms of depression.  There’s still some impairment, but I’ve definitely improved.  One thing I’ve been noticing lately is that I’m not feeling confident about using idioms without first looking them up to make sure I’m remembering them properly.  It’s not that big a deal, but it just feels a bit weird, since English is my native language.
  • I continue to work on my trauma account, and gradually I’m seeing more patterns emerge.  Hopefully with more work it’ll become easier to keep the past from intruding on the present.
  • I’ve been helping someone I know who is in nursing school, and I’ve been working on setting clear boundaries for myself in terms of what I’m willing to take on and what I need to make sure I’m not trying to take responsibility for.  The issue is not so much about what this person is asking for help with or how often, and more about the attitude I take toward it, because it’s easy for me to slip into a role of “doing for” rather than “doing with” because it seems like it would be quicker and easier.  I wrote out a list of boundaries for myself earlier this week, and have been trying to be very mindful of them.  So far it’s working out well, and I’m able to check myself when I get urges to take over.
  • I’ve done some reading (as in books, not blogs) but not as much as I had intended to for this week.
  • I had almost no work this week, which is nice from a mental health perspective but not the greatest from a financial perspective.  While I’ve got savings, it concerns me a bit when I’m not making enough to meet my basic monthly expenses.

So that’s about it for me.  How has your week been?


Image credit: Rawpixel on Pixabay

Book review: Radical Acceptance

book cover: Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach

Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha is written by Tara Brach, a psychologist, Buddhist, and meditation teacher.  Buddhism plays a significant role in the book, but it’s written in a way that’s accessible to all.  This is only going to be part book review, and mixed in with part me grappling with some of the concepts in the book.

The author describes radical acceptance as clearly recognizing what is going on inside of us and bringing compassionate regard to it.  It allows us to break from the “trance of unworthiness” that is created by the stories we create and take to be true.  These same stories separate us from others and create suffering.  Brach refers to shadow parts in each of us, where we relegate any emotions that could lead to us being rejected or other taboo experiences.  This further contributes to suffering, as these rejected parts reinforce our beliefs about our own unworthiness.

The author also addresses the relationship between fear and pain.  Brach says when we become immersed in our stories about pain, that it is wrong and something to be feared and avoided, we only reinforce the fear and allow it to become the core of our identity.  The unworthiness and shame in these stories then constrict our capacity to live fully.  This is an interesting idea to contemplate.  To some extent I agree that we can change our relationship with pain.  When I had my phoenix tattoo done it was extremely painful, and I reframed this as something that I was able to do because I had conquered so much mental pain.  I think that made the pain more bearable, but at the same time we still had to take regular breaks because I was shaking so much from the pain.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m not sure there’s a magic bullet by which you can accept your way through the message that your body is screaming at you.

The book offers guided meditation prompts to help readers to apply the concepts that are presented in each chapter.  Concepts are also illustrated by examples from the author’s own life as well as her clients and students.  The author gave examples of breakthroughs made by her own clients, but the way these examples were presented seemed a bit too quick and easy, as if 10 minutes of seeking deep into the body was enough to solve whatever the problem happened to be.  I think the author was just trying to give condensed examples, but to me it just felt a bit magic wand-ish sometimes.  It probably didn’t help that I found the use of capital-R capital-A in the terms Radical Acceptance a bit gimmicky.

I appreciated Brach’s acknowledgment that parts of the radical acceptance approach may not always be appropriate for people with trauma.  She says that at a given point in time an individual won’t necessarily have the balance or resilience to tackle trauma memories or triggers head-on.  In particular, she said the meditation exercise on meeting fear may not be appropriate when experiencing feelings or sensations regarding trauma.  When levels of fear are very high and overwhelming, she said that medication may be the most compassionate response, and this may allow for a shift in the biological experience of fear so mindfulness can be applied to the thoughts and feelings that sustain the trance of fear.  I tend to believe that no one approach can work in all situations, so I find it reassuring when proponents of an approach are able to acknowledge its potential limitations.

There is a strong focus on getting in touch with what’s held in the body, and this approach is used in many of the examples she gives of work with her clients.  Brach says that our reactions to external stimuli and thoughts in our mind represent reactions to bodily sensations.  If these bodily sensations aren’t recognized, we become highly reactive.  “If we bring a steady attention to the immediate physical experience of an emotion, past sensations and stories linked to it that have been locked in our body and mind are ‘de-repressed.'”  While that may be true for some people, as a broad statement it struck me as a bit over-simplistic.

In this book, thought is mostly looked at in terms of its role in creating and sustaining mental stories and the trance of unworthiness.  I’ve always been a pretty cerebral person.  Learning has always been fun for me, and I want to be exposed to new ideas and new knowledge.  The right thought at the right time can change the world.  This has always been how I’ve approached life, and while depression can suck me into thought traps, thought is still something I highly value.  So I struggle with approaches or philosophies that are dismissive of thought.  I know dismissive isn’t the right word, and I recognize that the judgment-tinged stories we concoct about ourselves are a very different thing from academic thought, but when approached in the right way I believe that thoughts can open our minds rather than close them.

The author tells us that there is no mind, no self, no self-awareness.  She writes: “Our attention is always fixating on something…  Our reality is the thoughts and drama we see in our mental movies.  We step beyond the net by letting go of our stories and pursuits and turning toward awareness…  We look back into the emptiness that is the creative source of all stories and emotions, into the formless fertile space that gives rest to all of existence.  There we see the universe as it is.”  After her dog died, the author observed that “As I let go into this wakeful openness, there was no self who owned the grieving and no friend to lose.”  I found this sad; yes, we are all tied together by common humanity, but if we can’t appreciate our unique experience of relationships and the love and grief that goes along with them, how is that true acceptance?

While there were some parts of this book that I agreed with and others I did not, there were a lot of things that I reacted to, and it was interesting to have the opportunity to unpack some of those reactions.


You can find my other book reviews here.

Exploring values

ethics infographic

Values: we’ve all got them, but how often do we think about them?  It’s worth checking in with ourselves every so often as to what our values are, and how consistent our behaviour is with those values.  Unlike goals, values are not an endpoint, but rather a guiding direction.  Acceptance and commitment therapy offers some assistance in this values clarification process, and there are some useful worksheets here.

Some of the values that I’ve identified:

  • kindness, compassion, and empathy
  • staying true to myself
  • keeping an open mind
  • curiosity, ongoing learning, and exposing myself to new things/cultures/places
  • independence, autonomy, and freedom of choice
  • being able to express myself
  • having a sense of meaning and purpose
  • respect
  • helping others
  • honesty
  • authenticity
  • challenging stigma
  • being a good furbaby mama
  • working towards wellness, taking care of myself
  • fairness, justice

One thing I’m working on clarifying for myself is whether the importance I place on fairness and justice is purely a value  or whether there’s an element of cognitive distortion (the fallacy of fairness) muddying the water.  Also, I used to have certain work ethic beliefs that have unfortunately not served me well, but they get tied in with my sense of integrity and so I get a sense of dissonance when I go against them.  I used to value helping my coworkers and was happy to inconvenience myself to some extent in order to support my teammates, but as it’s become clear that no one was willing to do the same for me, I’ve chosen to be selfish and only look out for myself.  It’s necessary, but still not really congruent with my values.

Aside from those muddy bits, my values have remained pretty much constant over my adult life, although over time the level of priority I place on each has probably shifted.

Do you ever reflect on your values?  Are there things that you struggle with?


Image credit: Maialisa on Pixabay

My hormones hate me, and it’s mutual

pregnant woman's belly

Despite the picture, no, I’m not pregnant.  But damn, I’m so bloated that I look and feel like I am.  My whole abdominal region is giving me a shit-kicking right now.  My head hurts and my mood has been crap the last several days.  I would like to reach into my bloated belly, pull out my ovaries, and flush them down the toilet.

The female hormonal cycle and I have never been friends.  I started taking birth control around age 20, which was pretty good at minimizing the mood dips and the crampy-bloaty bullshit.  I was on it pretty much continuously until 2015, when I realized just before I was about to leave on a trip that the doctor had forgotten to write refills on the birth control prescription.  I decided that maybe it was worth giving my body an extended break from the hormones. My body wasn’t thrilled with it, but I decided to soldier on.

Then in 2016 I had a relapse of my depression.  I guess my serotonin and estrogen started doing the funky chicken, because things got a little crazy.  I was getting my period every three weeks, and it would last about a week and a half each time.  My mood would plummet right before my period, and my whole body would rebel on me.  And despite the regularity of this happening, each time I would try to identify other potential causes for how I was feeling, and then it would hit me like a shit-ton of bricks that there was an obvious explanation.

The prospect of having my period literally half the time was completely unappealing, so I decided to screw this hormone break bullshit.  Bring on the birth control!  My doctor suggested taking 4 packs of active pills in a row and having a period every 3 months.  My body is quite content with that situation, except for that 1 week off to have a period.  It’s like I’m in hormone withdrawal, the boat is leaking, and my belly is doing an SOS dance.  The SS Hormone ship chugs into port tomorrow, and it can’t come soon enough.

So why on earth is something as natural as the female menstrual cycle such a monstrous pain in the ass?  I wish I knew.  I’ve never been formally diagnosed with any sort of premenstrual disorder, but Dr. Wikipedia tells us that up to 80% of women experience symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, with 20-30% meeting the full criteria for PMS diagnosis.  3-8% of women experience premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which involves mood symptoms that occur in a regular pattern related to the menstrual cycle.  Then there’s dysmenorrhea (painful periods) that affects 20-90% of women.  I think about this from an evolutionary standpoint and wonder why on earth the menstrual cycle isn’t a well-oiled machine by now.

The upside is that I’m not among the large group of women who can’t tolerate birth control pills.  I’ve been on my current type of pill (Min-Ovral) since my early 20’s and have never had any side effects from it.  At this point I’m thinking I’m going to stay on them until I reach menopause, then hop right on over to hormone replacement therapy.  Cancer risk, shmancer risk.  I already want to crawl into a hole and die for one week every 3 months; that’s about all I can handle.  Even my naturopath agrees my body is telling me this is what it wants.

And that’s my rant for today.


Image credit: freestocks.org on Unsplash

3 days 3 quotes – day 3

I’ve been tagged for 3 days, 3 quotes by A Guy Called Bloke and Doodlepip’s Adventures.  I’m going to borrow an idea from Lawrence at Being Bipolar and go with a Yogi Berra theme, a baseball player with the New York Yankees who had a knack for blending the wise with the ridiculous.

"It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future" - Yogi Berra

“It’s touch to make predictions, especially about the future.” – Yogi Berra


The rules for the 3 days 3 quotes tag:

  • Thank you note to the person who nominates you
  • Post one quote per day for 3 consecutive days
  • Nominate three new bloggers each day

It takes me forever to decide who to pick for these kinds of things, so I’m just going to say that if you want to join in the fun, tag you’re it!


Image credit: Pinterest

This OR That tag

This or that tag

Thanks to Anita at Discovering Your Happiness for tagging me in her This Or That tag. ❤️


  • Thank & tag the person that has tagged you
  • Attach the tag photo
  • Answers the ‘This or THAT questions
  • Tag a 10-20 friends.


  • Dog or Cat?
    • Guinea pig!
  • Netflix or YouTube?
    • Netflix.  Youtube’s great but there’s just too much going on.
  • Phone Call or Text?
    • Text – I hate talking on the phone
  • Toast or Eggs?
    • Eggs, preferably in omelette form
  • Cardio or Weights?
    • Going for a walk!
  • Facebook or Twitter?
    • I deleted my Facebook account.  Twitter I use a little bit.
  • Ice Cream Cone or Snow Cone?
    • Ben&Jerry’s.  I prefer cup to cone.  I loved snow cones back in the day.  So much sugar!!!
  • Mobile Games or Console Games?
    • I sometimes play Candy Crush
  • While walking: Music or Podcasts?
    • Listening to the birds 🐦
  • iOS or Android?
    • iOS
  • Cake or Pie?
    • Either cheesecake or apple pie, depending on what I fancy
  • Swimming or Sunbathing?
    • Swimming in the ocean
  • Big Party or Small Gathering?
    • Small gathering of me and the guinea pigs 🙂
  • New Clothes or New Phone?
    • New clothes
  • Rich Friend or Loyal Friend?
    • Loyal
  • Football or Basketball?
    • Football (American)
  • Nice Car or Nice Home Interior?
    • Home
  • What’s worse: Laundry or Dishes?
    • I actually like doing laundry.  I find it peacefully domestic.
  • Jogging or Hiking?
    • Definitely not jogging; hiking is ok as long as its not up a mountain
  • Bath or Shower?
    • Shower.  My boy guinea pigs’ cage is blocking my bathtub, so that’s put a bit of a damper on relaxing baths.
  • Sneakers or Sandals?
    • Boots!
  • Glasses or Contacts?
    • Glasses – I hate the idea of sticking stuff in my eye
  • Hamburger or Taco?
    • Burger!!!!!!
  • Couch or Recliner?
    • Couch all to myself
  • Online Shopping or Shopping in a Store?
    • Online
  • Receive: Email or Letter?
    • email
  • Passenger or Driver?
    • If there are 2 of us in the car, I’d rather not drive.  I still have a complex from my dad criticizing and backseat driving when I was younger.
  • Tablet or Computer?
    • Laptop
  • Most important in a partner: Intelligent or Funny?
    • Life-smart intelligent > funny > school smart
  • Car or Truck?
    • car
  • Blue or Red?
    • Blue is my favourite colour
  • Money or Free Time?
    • Free time
  • Amusement Park or Day at the Beach?
    • Beach 🙂
  • At a movie: Candy or Popcorn?
    • Popcorn with lotsa butter
  • Pen or Pencil?
    • Pen…  I don’t even remember the last time I used a pencil
  • Toilet paper: Over or Under?
    • Don’t even get me started…  OVER!!!!
  • Cups in the cupboard: Right Side Up or Up Side Down?
    • Right side up but I’m flexible on this
  • Pancake or Waffle?
    • Pancakes – no special equipment required
  • Coke or Pepsi?
    • Neither
  • Coffee Cup or Thermos?
    • Coffee cup
  • Blinds or Curtain?
    • Blinds in general, but curtains to keep the bedroom dark
  • Train or Plane?
    • Plane I guess because it’s faster but unfortunately oh so unpleasant.  Both are barfy, but plane more so.
  • Phone or Tablet?
    • Phone
  • Iced Coffee or Hot Coffee?
    • Iced latte
  • Meat or Vegetables?
    • Prefer meat, but trying not to eat it often
  • International Vacation or a New TV?
    • Vacay.  I have never purchased a tv in my life.
  • Save or Spend?
    • Save.  It was hammered into me by my parents when I was a kid.
  • Honesty or Other’s Feelings?
    • It would depend on the person, the truth, and the feelings.
  • Coffee or Tea?
    • Tea when I’m at home, coffee when I’m out
  • TV or Book?
    • Book
  • Movie at Home or Movie at the Theater?
    • Home
  • Ocean or Mountains?
    • Living in Vancouver, I get both!
  • Horror Movie or Comedy Movie?
    • Comedy.  I startle really easily, so I tend to jump up and scream during horror movies.
  • City or Countryside?
    • The idea of the countryside is appealing, but I grew up in a small town and much prefer the city.
  • Winter or Summer?
    • Summer sunshine!
  • Mac or PC?
    • Mac all the way
  • Console Gaming or PC Gaming?
    • I haven’t done either since Minesweeper in my late teens and Legend of Zelda on my brother’s Super Nintendo before that
  • Soup or Sandwich?
    • Split pea soup is one of my comfort foods
  • Card Game or Board Game?
    • Neither very often, but probably Clue would be my top pic
  • Camping or Binge Watching Shows at Home?
    • Camping if I can have a fire and toast hot dogs and marshmallows.
  • Working Alone or Working in a Team?
    • I don’t particularly like people, so I’ll say alone 😉
  • Dine In or Delivery?
    • I guess delivery because most of the time I’m eating by myself
  • Sweater or Hoodie?
    • Cardigan
  • Motorcycle or Bicycle?
    • Neither, really.  My brother has a motorcycle and I refuse to get on it.  They just seem like death traps.
  • Book or eBook?
    • Book if I’m at home, eBook if I’m out and about
  • When sleeping: Fan or No Fan?
    • No fan unless it’s really hot
  • TV Shows or Movies?
    • I like tv shows once I get into them, but I have a hard time committing, so I guess movies.

Whew!  Made it!  Rather than tag specific people, I’ll just invite anyone who’s interested to play along!

Letter to my younger self

letter with quill and ink

I’ve seen a few of these on various blogs, but it was one posted recently by Sarah at Sall Good in the End that actually prompted me to give the matter some more thought.  What struck me was that my first thought was to tell my younger self to run.  Run away and join the circus.  Leave it all behind and go live in a yurt.  It took a while to think of anything in addition to the run away theme, but here’s what I eventually came up with.  I picked age 20 because that’s a time when I was at university having loads of fun and starting to discover who I really was.


To Ashley at age 20:

I know you’re having a great time right now, and enjoy it.  Here are a few suggestions I have for along the way:

Travel.  That’s how you will have some of your best experiences ever.

When you get into your first long-term relationship, don’t lose yourself in the relationship.  And if we’re going to get really specific, even though C makes a good friend, skip the boyfriend thing because it just doesn’t work as well, and he turns out to be a jerk in the end.

Bullying can happen to adults.  Know what it is, recognize it when it happens to you, and get the hell outta there.  No one else will care enough to do anything, so you’ve gotta take care of you.

You will get sick.  You will see it, but you will deny it.  When you can no longer deny it, you will think that you can deal with it yourself.  You can’t.  Instead, I want you to grow some lady-balls and reach out for help.

Your illness will affect how you relate to the people around you.  I wish I had some good advice for you, but I don’t.  Try not to beat yourself up over things that don’t work, because guilt is a poison that eats away at you.

Save your money.  You will need it, and it will make life much easier at difficult times.

Love yourself and be true to yourself, and treat your natural introversion with compassion and respect.  There’s nothing wrong with making a brief appearance at a social event to say hi and then heading home to bed.

Don’t get drunk with coworkers.  No matter how good an idea it seems at the time, trust me, it’s just not.

Get furbabies as soon as you live in a place that allows them.  Guinea pigs will offer countless hours of cuteness and comfort.

Life will get a whole lot darker in a few years (at age 27, to be exact).  The flame that was your passion for life won’t burn as brightly after that.  The shadow cast by your illness will never go away.  So live for right now.  Your early 20’s will be some of the most exciting years of your life.  And maybe, just maybe, after you get out of hospital the first time, consider running away to central Asia and living in a yurt.  One final word of advice – save your pelvis some torture and get to the yurt by truck rather than by horseback.


Your 39-year-old self


What would your letter to your younger self say?


Image credit: Bru-nO on Pixabay

3 days 3 quotes – day 2

I’ve been tagged for 3 days, 3 quotes by A Guy Called Bloke and Doodlepip’s Adventures.  I’m going to borrow an idea from Lawrence at Being Bipolar and go with a Yogi Berra theme, a baseball player with the New York Yankees who had a knack for blending the wise with the ridiculous.

"You can observe a lot by watching" - Yogi Berra

“You can observe a lot by watching” – Yogi Berra


The rules for the 3 days 3 quotes tag:

  • Thank you note to the person who nominates you
  • Post one quote per day for 3 consecutive days
  • Nominate three new bloggers each day

Rather than tagging specific bloggers, I’m just going to say that if you want to join in the fun, tag you’re it!


Image credit: CNN

My fav! – food

What's your fav food

It’s What’s our Favorite time over at Revenge of Eve.  This week’s fav is food/meal/style of food.

The heart attack on a plate meal that I’m going to construct involves a bacon cheeseburger (and mayo, bbq sauce, and pickles are a necessity on said burger) and yam fries, with strawberry cheesecake for dessert.

And for style of food?  Based on my fav meal, I’m just going to go with unhealthy…


Guidelines for What’s Your Favorite?

  • Create a post on your blog responding to What’s Your Favorite? Elaborate or explain why it is your Fav!
  • Title your post-My Fav!
  • Use the featured image
  • Create a pingback to this post

More from Quora on mental health

Quora logo

I did a post a while back Gems of Ignorance From Quora with some of the frighteningly ignorant questions asked by people on Quora, a sort of free-for-all website where people can post and answer questions.  Here are some more tidbits I’ve come across.

Some people seem to have a genuine interest in gaining some understanding mental illness.  Some questions I’ve seen that reassured me that not everyone has their head stuck up where the sun doesn’t shine:

  • Can you be depressed without being sad?
  • How do you know the difference between drug-induced psychosis or psychosis from something else?
  • When a depressed person starts taking antidepressants, does he/she start feeling happy or just “not sad”?
  • What does it feel like to have depression or  bipolar disorder?
  • What’s the difference between feeling depressed and having depression?
  • How do people with schizophrenia tell apart real sights/sounds from fake ones?

Other times, the answers people post are even more frightening than the questions:

  • To a question about the maximum number of psychiatric diagnoses a person can have: “When a person enters mental psychosis I’m pretty sure their mind is so fragmented that they’ve pretty much got it all: ocd, npd, psychopath, sociopathy, bpd, anxiety, depression, split personality (definitely) and whatever else you could think of they have a little hint of.  But a number? I’d say 17.”
  • To a question about the use of lamotrigine in bipolar disorder: “You have only to scan back through a few hundred years of “labels” the so-called mental health professionals” have used… “humors”…. “phrenology”… etc..Now they claim there are “microbes” that cause brain disease.. or come up with labels like “bi-polar disorder”?? WHY should anyone place any confidence in such a science? To my understanding, they have very poor results to show for all their claims to be a “mental health science”.  I think you will find results from a minister or group therapist probably as good and likely LESS harmful! I AM NOT A DOCTOR… I am trained in ministerial counselling that has proven very successful for most people!”
  • To a question about the strongest antidepressant: “Meditation is much stronger than any antidepressants you may take.”
  • To a question about whether there is a common mental disorder among mass shooters: “psychotropic drugs”
  • To a question about a non-medication remedy for depression: “Truthfully, when you remove the stagnating, congesting foods like wheat, dairy and dead animals which are filled with anxiety and depression living in horrific factory farms, and fed nasty things, you perk up! You’re not the starched out, sleepy, congested and pale, super tired person you used to be!”
  • To a question about why there’s stigma attached to being hospitalized for psychiatric reasons: “Because the mentally ill were warded with the prisoners in jail. They had no rights. They were stripped of all protections. After the separation, Usually, a lobotomy would be performed. The patient would be basically brain dead and again with no rights, die in a mental aslymn. Sad!”  (My observation: Not to get political, but that sounds kind of like a Donald Trump 3 a.m. tweet)


Yes, this is the world we live in.

3 days 3 quotes – day 1

I’ve been tagged for 3 days, 3 quotes by A Guy Called Bloke and Doodlepip’s Adventures.  I’m going to borrow an idea from Lawrence at Being Bipolar and go with a Yogi Berra theme, a baseball player with the New York Yankees who had a knack for blending the wise with the ridiculous.

"When you come to a fork in the road... take it" - Yogi Berra

“When you come to a fork in the road… take it” – Yogi Berra


The rules for the 3 days 3 quotes tag:

  • Thank you note to the person who nominates you
  • Post one quote per day for 3 consecutive days
  • Nominate three new bloggers each day

It takes me forever to decide who to pick for these kinds of things, so I’m just going to say that if you want to join in the fun, tag you’re it!


Image credit: CNN

One Lovely Blog Award

One Lovely Blog award badge

I’ve been nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award by A Leap of Faith and Bipolar-(notice me aliens).  Thank you!!!


  • Thank the person who nominated you for the award.
  • Share seven things about yourself.
  • Nominate 7 other bloggers and inform them.

7 things about me:

  1. The household task I hate the most is taking out the garbage.
  2. I’ve lived in the same 2-bedroom condo for 13 years.
  3. When I moved in my realtor gave me a plant.  It’s still alive even though I’m normally a plant-killer.
  4. I’ve never bought a tv – I’ve always gotten my family’s rejects.
  5. The boy I had a crush on in grade 3 ended up behind bars as an adult for aggravated sexual assault.  Glad things didn’t work out in grade 3!
  6. I have camped in a snow cave.
  7. I’m very prone to motion sickness.

My nominees: please don’t feel pressured at all to do an award nomination post 🙂


Thanks again to A Leap of Faith and Bipolar-(notice me aliens) for the nominations, and I hope people will check out the various blogs I’ve linked to in this post, because they’re all fabulous. ❤️

Weekend wrap-up

wrapping paper, ribbon, and twine

Here’s what happened in my life over the past week.

  • I worked very little this week.
  • My body hasn’t been all that happy with me.  I’ve been dizzy, which my massage therapist thinks might be related to tension in my neck.  I’ve gotten out for walks most days but I get tired quickly and am pretty slow-moving.
  • It has been nice and spring-like, and it’s so much easier to be mindful when there’s birds singing and tree blossoms and flowers.
  • My goal was to finish reading the book Radical Acceptance, and I did that (look out for a review coming soon).
  • Had my regular weekly massage, and went to one yoga class.
  • Made some progress in reframing a trigger word, and felt good about that accomplishment.
  • Both my optometrist and my massage therapist casually asked how work is going.  I gave short bland answers, but it’s something that tends to stir up a lot of shit for me, because my current situation is very much limited by the bully who tried his damnedest to destroy my career.
  • Speaking of which…  I did my first 2 writing sessions on the second version of my trauma account.  It’s both easier and harder at the same time.
  • I got a phone call from the SPCA asking for a donation.  I used to make regular donations, and I’ve adopted all my guinea pigs from them.  I didn’t know how to get off the phone.  The lady blathered away for a while, then asked for money.  I said no, I can’t.  She then kept right on talking, but all I could think of was how the heck I was going to extricate myself.  The solution that came to mind was to just hang up.  So that’s what I did.  And fine, that’s the best option I could come up with in that moment, but I wish a more polite option could have felt more available.
  • Had another reminder of how far apart my parents and I have grown.  It makes me feel very tired.

So that’s about it.  How has your week been?


Image credit: Rawpixel on Pixabay

The Reading Habits Book Tag

Reading Habits book tag

I’m picking up this tag from In A Messy World because I love reading and this is fun!


Usually bookmarks, but sometimes a hold slip from the library


There has to be some sort of natural break in the action.  For me long chapters that aren’t divided into sections are annoying and sometimes even a dealbreaker.


Bed!  Then again, that’s probably my favourite spot for just about anything….


I guzzle water pretty constantly.  Or tea would be nice.


No.  Absolutely not.  I have no idea how people can listen to things and read, because I just can’t do it.


Usually one at a time, but sometimes I’ll have one fiction and one non-fiction on the go.  Or if there’s a book that I don’t really like but I’ve gotten so far I figure I should probably just finish it, I might start another book as an excuse not to read the original book.


Home is preferable, but other places are acceptable if there’s not too much noise.


Silently.  I think I’d annoy myself if I read out loud.


In an ideal world, keep it like new, but in the real world, break the spine.


No!  And it drives me bonkers if I get a book from the library and someone’s written in it.  Get a notebook already!


I tag any book lover who happens to be reading!

3 days, 3 quotes – with a twist

I was tagged by Laketra Chick for the 3 days, 3 quotes challenge.  I’ve already done this challenge a couple of times with inspirational quotes, so I thought I’d switch it up a bit this time.  Actually, I’m going to throw out the rules entirely, and instead serve up some of my favourite quotes from Seinfeld (i.e. the funniest show ever on tv).


“I don’t trust the guy. I think he regifted, then he degifted, and now he’s using an upstairs invite as a springboard to a Super bowl sex romp.” – Jerry


“Do you ever get down on your knees and thank God you know me and have access to my dementia?” – George


“I need the secure packaging of Jockeys.  My boys need a house” – Kramer


“He took it out.” – Elaine

Elaine’s quote deserves the full context of this video clip:


“You have the chicken, the hen, and the rooster. The chicken goes with the hen… So who is having sex with the rooster?” – Frank Costanza


So there you have it, my rebel 5 quotes in 1 day.  If you want to join in the rebel fun feel free, or check out Laketra Chick‘s post to see what the actual 3 days 3 quotes challenge is all about.  Happy weekend!

TED Talks on mental health stigma

TED Talks logo

Lately I’ve been sharing some of the TED Talks that I’ve found particularly informative and inspiring (you can find others in my blog index).  In this post, I’m focusing on talks that challenge the stigma related to mental illness.



Sangu Delle: There’s No Shame In Taking Care of Your Mental Health

Sangu Delle speaks about the stigma of being an African man with anxiety.  He felt shame when his doctor first suggested that he speak to a mental health professional about his anxiety.  Culturally, the expectation was that emotions were brushed aside and problems were just dealt with.  Among his own group of friends, when one was diagnosed with a mental illness, other friends snickered and made derogatory remarks.  In a study of Nigerians, 34% thought mental illness was due to drug use, 19% thought divine wrath was the cause, and 12% blamed witchcraft.  Delle challenges the stigma that ends up ostracizing and demonizing those who experience mental illness.

Thomas Insel: Toward a New Understanding of Mental Illness

Thomas Insel proposes a different way of looking at mental illness.  He suggests we should refer to mental disorders as brain disorders, since they involve the most complex organ in the body that at this point we still have very little understanding of.  He also frames the scope of the issue, saying that mental illnesses cause more total disability than any other condition.  He suggests that differences in the “connectome”, i.e. connection pathways in the brain, might be a way of identifying illness earlier as opposed to waiting to see behavioural changes.

Max Silverman: Talking About Invisible Illness – Mental Illness

This powerful talk speaks to the ways that mental illness is treated differently than mental illness.  Thanks to Sue at My Loud Bipolar Whispers for sharing this video.

Michael Botticelli: Addictions Is a Disease. Let’s Treat it Like One.

Michael Botticelli is a former US director of national drug policy under President Obama.    He openly shares his own history of alcohol addiction and subsequent recovery with the aim of changing public opinion and public policy.  He likens the current opioid epidemic to the AIDS epidemic in the 1980’s.  He argues that we can’t arrest our way out of the problem of addiction; instead, we need to view addiction as a chronic medical condition and ensure that people have access to the treatment they need, when they need it.  He says that we need to change the way we view people with addictions, and realize that they are more than their disease.  This is certainly an important and hopeful message to be putting out to the world.

Ruby Wax: What’s so Funny About Mental Illness?

Ruby Wax is a comedian who has depression.  In this passionate, high-energy talk, she uses humour to address common stereotypes and misconceptions about mental illness.  She’s very skillful at doing this in a way that educates and doesn’t make light of mental illness.  Because it’s very engaging and accessible, I think this talk would be particularly good at getting the anti-stigma message across to people who have limited understanding of what mental illness is.

Thank you blogging community

crafted hearts and flowers

There are so many benefits from blogging, and writing is only part of that.  Mental illness can be so isolating, and while I’m generally pretty open about my illness, through blogging I’ve found this community where there’s no need for any masks.  I’ve never met any of you in person, but in many ways you know me better than a lot of the people in my “real” life.  I feel truly at home in the WordPress community, and that wouldn’t be possible without all of you.

Earlier this week I wrote a post about a simple word that was triggering a lot of pain for me.  I got some amazing suggestions from my fellow bloggers.  I let them percolate in my brain for a while, and then during yoga class (my prime time for being able to see things more clearly) I focused on reassigning a different meaning to that word.  What came up in the process was the realization that what was really being triggered were memories related to but not directly involving the person I originally associated with the trigger word, and these memories are something I’m trying to work through as part of writing my trauma account.  Lo and behold, the next time that I was exposed to my trigger word, I was able to quickly substitute the reassigned word without having a strong emotional reaction come up.

The feedback that I’ve gotten on all my posts has been so valuable.  I’ve gotten new ideas, and I’ve been able to look at things in new ways.  I’ve learned more about myself from the input you’ve given me.  I’m progressing farther in my own healing as a result of what I’ve gained from all of you.  I’ve also built up a steadily growing list of great books to read that have been recommended by community members.

So for all you’ve done, from the bottom of my heart I thank you. ❤️


Image credit: congerdesign on Pixabay

Get to Know Me Tag

Get to know me tag

I’ve been tagged by Discovering Your Happiness for Get To Know Me Tag, a chance to get to know our fellow bloggers a little bit better.  So let’s just get right to it!  And to put a bit of a twist on it, I’m going to try to use an emoji for every answer.

  • What are my strengths?
    • I’m a smart cookie 🍪
  • What are my short term goals?
    • ✈️ trip to Europe later this year
  • What are my long term goals?
    • Find a job 👩🏻‍⚕️ that I love (same career, different workplace)
  • Who matters the most to me?
    • 🐹 Ok, so the emoji is a hamster, but the answer is my guinea pigs
  • What am I ashamed of?
    • Wasting 💔 heartbreak on dumbasses
  • What do I like to do for fun?
    • ❓ Do I even remember what that is?
  • What new activities am I willing to try?
    • 🏄‍♀️  if I actually tried surfing I don’t think I’d stay on the board for even a second, but oh well…
  • What am I worried about?
  • What are my values?
    • I’ve got a blog post coming up on this very topic, so stay tuned…
  • If I had one wish, it would be…?
    • ❤️
  • Where do I feel the safest?
    • At home 🏠
  • What or who gives me comfort?
    • My guinea pigs 🐹
  • If I was afraid, I would…?
    • 🏃🏻‍♀️ run far, far away
  • What is my proudest accomplishment?
    • Getting my masters degree 👩🏻‍🎓
  • Am I a night owl or early bird?
    • Very much an early bird 🐦
  • What does my inner critic tell me?
    • 👎
  • What do I do to show my self, self-care?
    • 🍪 home-made sweet treats
  • Am I an introvert or extrovert?
    • Introvert 🧠 all the way
  • What am I passionate about?
    • Not much these days, but I used to be passionated about travelling 🛄
  • What do my dreams tell me?
    • That dreams are strange 🦄
  • What is my favourite non-fiction book?
    • 🤷🏻‍♀️ not sure
  • What is my favourite fiction book?
    • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 📚
  • What is my favourite movie?
    • Dirty Dancing 💃🏻🕺
  • What is my favourite band?
    • 🤷🏻‍♀️  don’t really have one
  • What is my favourite food?
    • cheeseburgers 🍔
  • What is my favourite colour?
    • Blue 🦋
  • What am I grateful for?
    • My guinea pigs 🐹
  • When I am feeling down, I like to?
    •  🐹 are we noticing a pattern here…. ?
  • I know I am stressed when?
    • 🍩🍪🍰🍷🍷🍷

I hope you’ve gotten to know me a little better, and I hope the emojis were a fun twist rather than annoying.

Rather than tagging anyone specific, I’ll just say feel free to join in if you wish1

A glossary of psychiatric terms

mental health word cloud

Like any field, psychiatry has its own collection of terminology.  Some of it is self-explanatory, but some of it isn’t.  I believe that knowing the jargon helps to narrow the power gap between health care providers and patients, so I wanted to talk about some of the terminology that’s commonly used.  Some of these terms are a follow-up to yesterday’s post on psychiatric assessment and the mental status exam.

  • Alexithymia: inability to identify and describe one’s emotions
  • Alogia: This refers to an impoverishment of thinking that is inferred from speech.  This can involve a decreased amount of speech (may be referred to as poverty of speech) or a lack  of content (may be referred to as poverty of thought).
  • Anhedonia: an inability to experience pleasure
  • Avolition: an inability to initiate and persist in goal-directed activities
  • Catatonia: markedly decreased physical reactivity to the environment.  Think One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
  • Confabulation: This is the unconscious filling in of memory gaps by imagined events; it does not involve intentional lying.  Traumatic brain injury is a good example of a condition that may involve confabulation.
  • Echolalia: imitation of words/sounds
  • Echopraxia: imitation of movements
  • Ego-dystonic: thoughts that are inconsistent with what someone normally believes when they are well (the opposite of this is ego-syntonic)
  • Floridly psychotic: psychosis that is overtly obvious
  • Neologisms: making up new words
  • Overvalued ideas:  a belief that someone is quite fixed on but not to the extent of a delusion
  • Pressured speech: speech that is rapid and very difficult to interrupt
  • Responding to internal stimuli: obviously responding to hallucinations, such as when a person seems to be talking back to auditory hallucinations


Types of delusions:

  • Capgras: believing that people have been replaced by imposters
  • Erotomanic: an example would be believing that one is in a romantic relationship with a famous person
  • Grandiose: an example might be a person believing they are a key advisor to a major political figure
  • Ideas of reference: interpreting messages as being particularly directed at oneself, including things on billboards, tv, or radio
  • Paranoid/persecutory: This is probably what first comes to mind when many people think of delusions.  These delusions that one is or will be harmed may be further described as non-bizarre (within the realm of possibility, like being monitored by the government) or bizarre (aliens trying to enter their home via the cat door to steal their right foot).
  • Somatic: false beliefs about things that are happening in one’s body, ranging from something like cancer to something bizarre like believing one’s stomach is filled with dancing turtles
  • Delusions of control: belief that one’s thoughts are controlled by outside forces
    • Thought broadcasting: believing that one’s thoughts can be heard by other people
    • Thought insertion/thought withdrawal: believing that thoughts are being put into or taken out of one’s head
  • “Delusional proportions”: things like guilt or obsessions may become so intense they’re considered to have become delusional in nature, aka reached delusional proportions


Thought form/thought process descriptors:

  • circumstantiality: wandering away from the original idea, but eventually returning to it
  • clanging: grouping unrelated words based on sound (such as rhyming)
  • concrete: interpreting things very literally, often tested by asking a patient to interpret proverbs; eg “it ain’t over til the fat lady sings” might be interpreted as an obese woman would have to sing a song before something could be finished
  • loose associations: connecting ideas that seem to be totally unrelated
  • overinclusive: including excessive amounts of detail
  • perseveration: repeatedly returning to the same topic
  • poverty of thought: an easy way to describe this might be that the lights are on but nobody’s home
  • tangentiality: going off on a tangent, and losing the original idea


Descriptors of affect (facial expression of emotion):

  • euthymic: neutral, “normal”
  • expansive: unrestrained expression of feelings
  • incongruent: does not match the reported mood
  • labile: rapidly changing
  • restricted/blunted/flat: These all refer to decreased facial expressiveness.  Restricted is the mildest term, and flat refers to almost no emotional expression.


Some of these terms may sound rather judge-y, but like jargon in any field, when terms are used routinely they start to lose the connotations they might have outside that particular field.  Having a set of relatively standardized terms is useful in helping health care providers understand what is being referred to in a patient’s chart, but it’s easy to forget that these terms may mean something very different to the patient who ends up reading their own chart.

Have you ever had psychiatric jargon applied to you in some way that felt wrong or judgmental?


Image credit: Maialisa on Pixabay