Book Review: Psych Meds made Simple by Ashley Peterson

Well this is exciting – the 2nd review of my book today! Thanks Marie!

MAG's Blog

Psych Meds by Ashley

It’s been a long while I reviewed a book on my blog, but I have been reading many without being bitten by the ‘review me’ bug lol. Ashley’s book has gotten the ‘review me’ bug biting my fingers again. The book is simply one I had to read and make as many as notes as possible, the total being 65 highlighted notes. It is on the basis of these that I review this very important book mental health users and carers would do well to read.

The goal of the book is very clear as follows: The goal of this book is to demystify psychiatric medications and give people living with mental illness, as well as those who support us, the knowledge to make the best possible decisions when it comes to medication.

With the above in mind, I read the book as the project manager I am…

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Book review: Psych Meds Made Simple

Thanks to Johnzelle for this amazing review of my book!

Perfectly Imperfect

Ashley Peterson writes one of my favorite blogs, Mental Health at Home. For her 40th birthday last week, she was kind enough to offer her new book, Psych Meds Made Simple for free!

Ashley is a former pharmacist and currently works as a mental health nurse. I admire that she writes from a professional perspective and from a personal stance, as she lives with mental illness.

What did I gain from this book?

“The goal of this book is to demystify psychiatric medications and give people living with mental illness, as well as those who support us, the knowledge to make the best decisions when it comes to medication.”

Ashley achieved this goal. The book itself was very user-friendly. I’m a therapist and I can see myself referring to this book as I work with clients who are receiving medication management.

I wish I would’ve had this book when…

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Emerging Blogger Series: Tina

circle patterns in sand

Photo by Jase Ess on Unsplash

The emerging blogger series is a way to give mental health bloggers who are early in their blogging evolution the opportunity to have their work seen by a wider audience.  It’s also a way to introduce you as a reader to some new bloggers you may not have discovered yet.

This week, we have Tina from Really Real Blog, writing on the value of DBT skills.

 

The most life changing program for my mental health has been my DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) Skills Classes.  DBT is a method created by Marsha M. Linehan, originally to treat Borderline Personality Disorder, however, now it is used to treat many mental health diagnoses that cause emotional distress.

My class is taught in a group setting once a week for 6 months, and I’m about to enter the last 6 week module.  In the past four and a half months I’ve gotten so much better at Emotion Regulation, Mindfulness, and Distress Tolerance and this next module will cover skills in Interpersonal Effectiveness.  

One of the skills taught in DBT is Dialectics.  One part of Dialectics is when two opposing things are both true at the same time.  

You can be mad at someone and still love them.  It can be sunny and raining. You can believe something strongly and be wrong.

And in my case the other day, I really love experiencing new things, and new experiences make me incredibly anxious.  

Here’s what happened.  My girlfriend and I had a great date day together.  To end the day she decided to take me out to dinner for fondue which is something I have never done before.  It was a new restaurant with a new style of food and a new way of eating. I loved the idea, but I was super anxious and almost told her I couldn’t do it because my anxiety was a 4 out of 5.  I spent a lot of time ruminating, ramping up the anxiety, getting worse. I was alternating between wanting to run and wanting to lash out so we’d just end the day early and go home.

But I remembered Dialectics.

I can be anxious AND really enjoy the experience.

So instead I spoke to her about it.  I told her how anxious the idea of a new place was making me but that I really wanted to go.  She gave me more details and told me what I could expect at dinner. Being heard and understood helped lessen some, but not all of my anxiety.

I was still pretty anxious going into the restaurant but I was able to sit with it and by the end of dinner I had a fantastic time and I’m so glad we went.

DBT skills often seem simple on the surface, but they are the little things that we don’t think to do when we are in a heated moment.  Having a specific blueprint, a list of skills to work through in those moments, has been radically life changing for me.

I wish more people knew about and could experience this type of therapy.

 

Bio

Tina defines herself as a Self Saving Warrior Princess.  After a lifetime of joy and sadness, trauma and triumph, she can be found writing about widowhood, mental health, and radical vulnerability over at http://www.reallyrealblog.com.

 

Thanks so much Tina for participating in the emerging blogger series!

 

The emerging blogger series logo

Every week I’ll publish an emerging blogger mental health-themed guest post by a blogger who’s early on in their blogging evolution, with priority given to those whose blog has less than 50 WordPress followers.  You can find a listing of all of the posts in the series here.

If you’re interested in being featured in the emerging blogger series, email me at mentalhealthathome (at) gmail (dot) com with a brief description of what you’d like to write about and your blog website.  As long as it fits with the general theme/tone of Mental Health @ Home (i.e. mental health-related in some way, and not broadly disparaging about any form of mental health treatment) we can move forward from there!

Weekend wrap-up

wrapping paper, ribbon, and twine

Rawpixel on Pixabay

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

  • I had pulmonary function testing done, which involved sitting in a small room for 40 minutes with a respiratory therapist and a student observing, and inhaling and exhaling in certain patterns to test different aspects of my lung functioning.  The RT was thought that I wasn’t doing as well on these tests as he thought I should… dude, welcome to my life.
  • The pair of woodpeckers that roost on my balcony have been more visible and more audible over the last couple of weeks.  I’m hoping for babies soon.  I’m a big fan of nature-focused mindfulness, and all my mental busyness shuts right down as I watch my woodpeckers do their thing.
  • Once in a blue moon (perhaps once a year) I forget to take my bedtime meds.  One of those blue moons happened this week and reminded me that I’m totally unable to sleep without them.
  • I’m dealing with ongoing gaslighting at my job where I do home visits to see patients.  They have this software system that predicts how much travel time these visits should take.  Except their should is based on magic carpet travel time, and is nowhere near reality.  But they act like I’m the crazy person.  Which I am, but they don’t know that.  So I’ve decided if they’re going to play psychological games, I’m going to play a numbers game.  This involves a spreadsheet, with all of the data backed up by screenshots from Google Maps.  Try to call me crazy now, bitches!
  • I’ve been noticing that my migraines tend to be triggered by driving.  I had one the other day, and so decided to google whether this is actually a thing or if it’s just me.  Apparently it’s a thing.  My theory (possibly half-baked) is that the lupus (that I haven’t been diagnosed with) is affecting my vestibular system in the inner ear (it could do that if I had it), and that’s causing the dizziness I’ve been having and sometimes triggering a migraine because of the motion.  There’s a lot of ifs in there, but it seems at least somewhat plausible.
  • I expanded to a new Vocal.Media platform this week with a post Drinking & Depressing on Proof.
  • And to conclude on kind of a random note, a pin keeps popping up in my Pinterest feed that’s about the scientific benefits of breathing.  Oddly enough, living doesn’t make the list…  I’d say for me that would be #1, but what do I know?

 

How has your week been?

 

Have you checked out my book Psych Meds Made Simple?  It’s available on Amazon as an ebook or paperback.

P.S. A big thank you to everyone who’s picked up a copy of my book, rated/reviewed it, and helped spread the word!  I appreciate it so much! ❤️

Reviews please

Blue Sky Days 365

Hi friends, if you downloaded my book/books on the recent free promotion, would you be so kind as to pop a review on Amazon… it doesn’t have to be a literary masterpiece, short and sweet is absolutely fine.

I’ll just pop this reminder up here every so often.

Huge thanks, love you all 😉

Karen x

Both covers

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I Am Not Satisfied with the Lack of Suggestions (repost)

Revenge of Eve wants to know your favourite mental health charity!

Time is running out!!!


Yo, Yo, Yo…

Quick Question. I know that I will donate a set percentage of my sales to a charity every month. Then I got to thinking that it would be better for me to reach out to ya’ll and ya’ll could give me your preference and help spread the word. There may be smaller, more personal to you charities that you would love to see a monthly donation go to and I would love to do so!!!

Here’s what needs to go down

The charity must benefit the mental health community.

The organizer of the charity cannot make any money off of the charity for personal gain or for employment (they cannot receive a check from the charity funds).

The charity can provide funding, assistance, therapy, education, or entertainment for those with mental illness, ie group gatherings/movie meetups, no matter the foundation reason, if the…

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Free on Kindle: Kaleidoscopic Beauty & I am the Stars in the Sky, today only

Check out these two amazing poetry collections from Karen Horsley!

Blue Sky Days 365

I am excited to announce that both of my collections of poetry, Kaleidoscopic Beauty and I am the Stars in the Sky, are available free on Kindle today.

Should you grab a copy I’d be ever so very grateful if you would leave reviews on Amazon as reviews help search rankings or something…  Thank you 🙂

Links to my UK and US author pages

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

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My 7 Favourite Things: 80’s-themed

Thanks to Emilia at My Inner Mishmash for tagging me for my 7 favourite things.  You can find the rules on her post.  I’m going to put a bit of a spin on it and do my 7 favourite apparel items from the 80s.

New Kids on the Block t-shirt

 

1) New Kids on the Block t-shirt: I had almost the same one – the NKOTB sign is the same, but there was a different pattern of footprints around it.  I wish I had kept that shirt.  And in case you were wondering, I was a Jordan Knight kind of gal.

 

 

neon bike shorts

 

 

2. Now we have the first of three options I’ll give for the lower half – the bike shorts with the neon stripes down the sides.  Pink all the way baby.

 

 

 
acid washed jeans

 

3. Acid-washed jeans.  There are really no words to capture the ugliness now but total coolness then.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

black stirrup pants

 

4. Stirrup pants – I’m really not sure why these aren’t a thing anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

white slouch socks

 

5. Stirrup pants would inevitably be combined with slouch socks.  I had some in white and some in neon colours.  Acid-wash jeans also required slouch socks.

 

 

 

aqua blue Converse sneakers

 

6. The slouch socks would inevitably be combined with Converse sneakers.  Mine were aqua blue and they were fabulous.

 

 

 

 

 

jelly shoes

 

7. To round things out, we’ve got jelly shoes.  Not necessarily all that comfortable, but hey, they looked cool.

 

 

 

Well there you have it, people.  My 1980s capsule wardrobe.  Thanks again to Emilia for the tag.  Feel free to join in, 80s-themed or otherwise!

What is… sex vs. gender?

In this series, I dig a little deeper into the meaning of psychological terms.

This week’s term: sex vs. gender

While the terms sex and gender are often used interchangeably, they actually have distinct meanings.  The distinction between the two was first proposed by a sexologist in the 1950s, and it is now recognized by large organizations such as the World Health Organization.

Sex is biologically based, and we are born as male or female based on our genes.  Two X chromosomes and you have a female, an X plus a Y chromosome you have a male.  As a side note, this means that the sex of the baby is based on whether the sperm that fertilized the ovum bore an X or a Y chromosome.  There are also some genetic variants that can complicate things.

There are a variety of sex chromosome disorders, including those with an extra X chromosome or an extra Y chromosome.  Some people with genetic variations in sex chromosomes are born as intersex, with sex characteristics that don’t neatly fit into the male or female norm.  In the past the term hermaphrodite was used, but that is no longer considered acceptable, and its use is limited to biology to describe organisms, such as earthworms and snails, that have both male and female sex organs.  Intersex humans may have variations in internal and external anatomy as well as sex hormones.  Intersex characteristics may be visibly apparent, but in some cases they are only identified through genetic testing.

Gender does not refer to biological characteristics, but rather to identification in relation to social notions of “male” or “female”.  The World Health Organization defines gender as “the socially constructed characteristics of women and men – such as norms, roles and relationships of and between groups of women and men. It varies from society to society and can be changed.”  While some may argue that these roles are inherently based in biology, power and control can play an important role.  The WHO Europe states that: “The way power is distributed in most societies means that women have less access to and control over resources to protect their health, and are less likely to take part in decision-making.”  Our society is highly gendered, and it’s become so normalized that it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that these gender roles are social norms rather than some sort of objective reality.

Some people never have identified with the social gender norms associated with their birth sex.  A person who has always identified with the opposite sex’s gender roles may identify as transgendered.  The term cis-gendered is sometimes use to describe people whose gender identity matches their biological sex.

While we tend to think of gender as being very binary, i.e. male and female, not everyone fits into those neat little categories.  Some people don’t identify with either the male or female box, and may use terms like gender-queer, gender-fluid, or non-binary to describe themselves.  Some cultures have distinct roles for non-binary individuals, and this is sometimes described as a third gender.  Two-spirited is the term used for this in some North American indigenous groups.

Gender expression refers to external displays related to gender, and is not necessarily congruent with gender identity.  A transvestite who performs as a female may identify as male, with the female aspect as a performance persona.  Transgendered individuals’ gender expression choices may be influenced by the stigma they expect to face if their gender expression matches their true gender identity.

So, sex derives from biology, and gender derives from social constructs.  What about sexuality?  It’s something that sometimes gets loosely thrown into the mix of sex and gender, but it’s a distinct phenomenon.  Who a person wants to sleep with doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with their biology or the gender that they identify with.  The fact that someone is transgendered has no bearing on whether their sexual preference is for men, women, or both.

I must admit that I was fairly oblivious to much of this until I started working as a nurse.  At that point I started having contact with a far more diverse range of people than I typically had contact with in social situations.  When I was working in community mental health I had a client who’d recently had sex reassignment surgery.  I worked closely with her for four years and learned so much from her about this topic.  At the same time, though, exposure isn’t always enough.  I remember having a conversation with a fellow nurse who couldn’t see the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation.  She thought that trans people were just confused gay people.

What do you think of the different definitions for sex and gender?  Does it fit with your worldview?

 

You can find the rest of my What Is series here.

Sources:

 

Have you checked out my book Psych Meds Made Simple?  It’s available on Amazon as an ebook or paperback.

Building Momentum

A great new projecting setting sail!

Thriving Not Surviving

Earlier this week I posted about an idea I had to form a collaborative website, a group of people who will work together to support, motivate, cross-promote and essentially help each other however we can. You can read my original post: .

As a result, there are 10 of us so far who are working together. We have created a website called the Best Life Collaborative and the site is now live, although still a work in progress. I’m still gathering information from some of the members who have been busy with other things. We’re still talking about next steps and design.

But we’re already making progress, and that’s the point.

There is still a lot to figure out, but I’m excited about collaborating. I have always felt when you commit to supporting and helping each other you can succeed at anything.

Come, see what we’re doing. In the beginning…

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Book review: Depression the Comedy

book cover: Depression the comedy by Jessica Holmes

Canadian comedian Jessica Holmes shares her experiences with depression in Depression the Comedy: A Tale of Perseverance.

I think Holmes is an excellent comedian, and I love the idea of bringing a comedic approach to a book about depression, but some of the comedy aspect was a bit lost on me.  However, I don’t know that I was in the best place to judge, as I was in a pretty dark headspace while I was reading it.  Still, I think that there’s great value in a comedian writing about depression, as it helps to promote the idea that depression truly can happen to anyone.

Holmes uses a self-deprecating style throughout the book, taking ownership of words often used to stigmatize, like “loopy” or “nut”.  She uses some interesting analogies, like describing depression as “the cold sore of the mind.”  Advice from others was likened to adding “pressure to our hamster wheel of discouragement”.

Depression made her become firmly rooted to her sofa, in what she described as her “sofa-tastic lifestyle”.  She describes other symptoms that will sound all too familiar to those of us with mental illness.  She avoided her kids’ schoolyard because there were too many people, and also avoided her friends because she felt like a fraud around them.  When asked by a produce to emcee a talk given by Oprah, her response was a half-hearted “neat”.  Even though Oprah was on her vision board, there was not a “single trace of epic” and she decided to ignore the news and didn’t even think to tell her agent.

As a result of depression the author got into an anger-guilt-repeat cycle in her relationship, with a “nut/enabler dynamic”.  For a period of time she was blaming all the problems on her husband, and while she thought she was being stealthy, her kids still picked up on it.  She talks openly about how her sex life with her husband became non-existent, and how it felt too vulnerable to be intimate.  She also freely admits that depression kept her from connecting to her kids.  This made her feel guilty, and she “tried to make up for it by making every day like a trip to Disneyland”.

The book has some important messages for people who may not be familiar with depression.  Holmes points out that “watching for signs of depression is a lifelong commitment”.  She also writes that we need to persist in telling our stories until there is no more stigma around mental illness.  I really appreciated her openness, and I’m glad that she’s using her public platform to educate people and challenge stigma.

 

You can find my other book reviews here.

My first book, Psych Meds Made Simple: How & Why They Do What They Do, is available on Amazon as an ebook or paperback.

An announcement!

I’ve decided to jump on the book-writing bandwagon!  I’ve been really inspired by my blogging friends who’ve written books, and thought it would make a good challenge to set for myself.  I actually started writing a couple months ago, but hadn’t really decided whether I was going to move forward with it or not.

Well, now I’ve decided.  Not that I had any sort of earth-shaking epiphany; I just realized it was time to make up my mind.  I had two different books that were both mostly finished from a writing perspective, so the timing seemed right.

Before doing an announcement about it I wanted to figure out what was actually involved in self-publishing a book.  Wow, there’s a lot to learn!  I’ve decided to publish through Amazon exclusively, mostly because it seems easiest, and even that feels like a lot to try and get sorted out in my head.

psych meds made simpleSo, what exactly am I writing about?

My first book is Psych Meds Made Simple: How & Why They Do What They Do.  I’m launching it on Amazon on February 4.  You can find out more on my blog page Psych Meds Made Simple.

My second book will be available sometime in the fall, and its title is Making Sense of Psychiatric Diagnosis.

So far the memoir bug hasn’t bit me, but that might be a project for down the road.

 

Have you self-published before?  Are there any tips/tricks you’ve learned?

 

Oh, and previous self-publishers may appreciate this.  Canada actually lets you get your own ISBNs for free under your own publishing imprint.  Mental Health @ Home Books is born!

 

New year, new bullet journal

journal cover with tree of life

This is my bullet journal to start off 2019.  It’s made from 100% recycled paper, so it’s nice and environmentally friendly.  It’s a soft-cover journal, although it’s fairly stiff.

Here’s what I’ve got laid out in it so far:

  • Each month gets two one-page monthly calendar overviews; one is for tracking mood/emotions, and the other to capture external events and some other factors.
  • Each month also has 2 pages devoted to tracking self-care activities and what’s happening in my body.  I’ll probably come up with some kind of colour-coding system for this, but I haven’t figured that part out yet.  Still, it’s already a lot more organized than what I was doing in 2018 with a lot of different things in a lot of different places
  • I also have weekly overview pages that include my goals for the week.  Doing the weekly goals was working well for me last year.  So far all of these things I’ve mentioned I was already doing in 2018 at least to some extent, but because I started doing them at different times they were scattered in multiple places throughout my journal.  Now they’re all clustered at the beginning.
  • I’ve written out the whole year worth of dates for my daily gratitude log.  I did this in 2018, and apart from missing a few days I was really consistent with it.
  • There’s a page to keep track of all my medical and any other health-related appointments.
  • I’ve got pages devoted to goals, accomplishments, things that make me smile, and inspirational quotes.  I found it useful in 2018 to set aside pages for positive things.

Pretty coloured pens and some cool stickers are the extent of my visual artistry, and I’m okay with that.  I’ve given up any pretence of being able to draw even simple geometric shapes.

I still have some room in my 2018 journal, and I plan to use that for free-form thought dumps and keep the 2019 journal quite structured.

Have you started a new journal for 2019?  How have you laid it out so far?

 

I was going to keep my lack of artistic talent to myself, but there have been some requests, so here goes…

img_6007

The top half is my overview.  In case you doubted my evaluation of my artistic abilities, the purple alien claw in the lower left corner for the last few days is my version of a hand, which is my symbol for when my eczema is acting up.

The lower half is my mood and emotion tracker.  The number is a mood ranking and the colour-coded letters are emotions.  The code for that is on the colourful page shown below.

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img_2673.jpg

 

This is where I track some of the things I’m doing, both healthy and unhealthy, and what’s going on in my body.  I’m not thrilled with how I’ve organized it, so I think I’ll change it up for next month.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This is exactly how I did my weekly summaries and goals last year, and it worked well.

 

 

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2018 year in review: Guinea pigs

My guinea pigs are among the best parts of my life.  Here is their year in pictures.

This little octopus hideaway is made for ferrets, but it’s also great for guinea pigs.

 

I adopted these boys almost two years ago.  They were geriatric and in need of a retirement home.  Zippy (the darker coloured one) passed away earlier this year, but his best friend Squeaky is still going strong.  Squeaky is kind of a grumpy old man, so I haven’t gotten him a new friend, but he can hear the girls in the next room, so he knows he’s not the only guinea pig in the world.

 

Casper, the off-white one, was the most recent addition to the family.  I adopted her a little over a year ago.  She’s got thick luscious hair that will stand up nice and tall if I brush it that way.  The girls know their food comes through the door of the cage, and they know that if they stick their heads out and look cute it can increase their chance of getting treats.

 

guinea pig cuddled up against hay manger

The girls like to knock over their green wire hay manger.  Not only that, they like to snuggle up against it.  To each their own.

 

guinea pigs visiting grandma's house

I took the guinea pigs with me on a couple of trips to Grandma’s house this year.  The cages are kind of large and unwieldy, so I improvised with their little travel boxes.

The guinea pigs would like to wish all of you a very happy new year!

Happy New Year!

2019

TheDigitalArtist on Pixabay

Happy 2019!  Wishing each and every one of you amazing people a joyous and healthy new year.  I appreciate all of you so very, very much.

For me, the biggest accomplishment in 2018 was really committing to blogging.  My main goal for 2019 is to expand where, how, and what I write.  I’ve never made new years resolutions  because it seems like such an arbitrary way to try to make behavioural changes.  Instead, I’m committed to doing the things that I know have positive effects, however small, on my life.

Where would you like to focus your energy for 2019?