All Things Possible

All Things Possible

The Post-it Note Wellness Program

for persons of Invisible Disability

by Heidi D.Hansen, M.A.copyright2014-15

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Aren’t Post-it notes one of the greatest inventions, ever?

So helpful. So available and eager to help. Efficient, small, and what gets written on them just seems to stick!

In fact, it seems that they very act of writing on a post-it note causes our minds to remember what it is about.

And that is why I have chosen the form of the indefigable post-it note to make a structure of help for the Invisibly Disabled.

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Firstly, let’s start using the term “Invisible Disability” instead of “Mentally Ill.” It’s more respectful and humane, it reduces stigma, and I believe, it is more accurate. This term can help other people understand what prevents us from doing what they can do, when they don’t see a power chair or a seeing cane.

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In recent years the types of therapies, physicians and therapists who help the Invisibly Disabled are less and less able to their jobs. At least, not to the degree that their client needs them to.

Insurances cut back on numbers of visits and dictate what diagnoses get those visists and even cover only certain types of therapies, which may not be what the client needs for long-term recovery.

In other words, the days of relying totally on a therapist or doctor or clinic is fading.

And persons who need their help remain in constant crisis cylces and debilitation because of it.

To the best that we can, it is our responsibility as Invisibly Disabled persons to take our own wellness into our own hands.

Let’s not throw in the towel on those counseling visits and medications altogether, but there’s a lot of simple skills that we can do at home in our daily lives that will add great gains to our progress.

And hence, this Post-it notes Wellness Program.

These are 24 daily Cognitive-Behavioral skills that you can learn and put into action on your own accord.

Let’s make a list of these post-it note skills, and then following this list, I’ll write a bit of explaination on each.

(By the way — these skills come from both my professional experience and training as a child-family therapist, but from my personal experience recovering from my own Invisible Disability. I’ve “been there done that” in two separate ways, so I really feel this is power – packed stuff.)

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25 Post-it Note Wellness Skills

— I am who I say I am, — not who you say I am.

— Just do one thing, and then wait.

— Are my symptoms becoming habits?

— Little stones, long ripples

— Comfort is not a luxury; it’s a strategy

— Joywork

— Infusions of beauty

— Write your way out

— One-minute island getaway

— Words change things

— Trauma changes us. How do I choose to be changed?

— Breathe with gusto

— Wellness is a “come as you are party”

— Make a motion, any motion

— Channeling your role model

— Repaint that wall totally blank

— Is enabling holding you back?

— Prep for the long haul, plan ahead for bad days, take it in stride, wait for your second wind.

— Education puts you in the driver’s seat

— Learn to be imperfect

— Cocooning

— Squint and find that crack in the door that lets in light

— Make yourself a wellness alter

— If you can’t move forward, just don’t go backwards

— Right where you are is where it is

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So there’s the list of quick to use and remember Post-it note recovery skills — but what do they mean? Now let me add a little commentary to each one.

— I am who I say I am, — not who you say I am.

(You are not who your disability says you are.  You are who you say you are.  Some of us come from toxic families, or are current toxic relationships, that try to control and manipulate our sense of self. They try to control our personal identity. They may use shaming, or tactics like gossip to turn others against you if you don’t agree or comply. They may outright threaten you if you don’t act and believe and feel as they want you to. In addition, they may try to do these things to control the nature and identity of your recovery. Learning to say, strongly, inside yourself, that you are the only one who gets to say who you are is powerful. Not other people, not even your disability. Only you.  Remember, you can’t have self-esteem if you don’t have an identity. Only you own your identity.)

— Just do one thing, and then wait.

(Daily things can be so overwhelming when we don’t feel well. Even become paralyzing. Then our self-worth plummets and discouragement sets in. Narrow your focus on just one thing that you can do right off the bat — simple, do-able. And then just wait. Then do one more thing, and just wait. Slow is okay. No need to perform miracles in a day, just take care of ourselves and our recovery. Just one thing,..then wait..).

— Are my symptoms becoming habits?

(Human persons are not as tough as they like to make themselves look and feel. We put up defenses to make ourselves feel strong and powerful. To feel secure and powerful in unsure times. Transitions, risks, new experiences, times of change are all times that make us feel vulnerable. And then defenses kick in. Rigid thinking, clinging to past habits — even when they trip us up — are famous defenses. For those of us who have not felt happy in a long time, our symptoms can become the little life boueys that we cling to make our world feel normal — that things are the same as always. Symptoms can become a routine, even a habit after awhile. So, just start with simple awareness. Reflect. Check-in with yourself. Are my symptoms becomeing habits? And then, just for one day, for one hour, change things up. Do something completely different instead of a symptom routine reflex. See how that feels. Was it safe? Try it again later. Ask someone what they think about what they see. Ask yourself: If I were as well as what I truly want to be, how would I look and act on the outside? What would others see me do? And start with trying on those patterns — just for practice.)

— Little stones, long ripples

(What are “little things” to you? A smile? A hug? A good night’s rest? A compliment? Taking a shower? Getting a haircut? Try doing a little thing today and just notice where it goes — like throwing a stone in the water — watch where the ripples go. What bigger changes can come from doing small tasks today?)

— Comfort is not a luxury; it’s a strategy

(One of the hallmarks of Post Trauma Stress is the inability to recieve and really take in comfort. In a way that changes our symptoms and behaviors and relationships and sense of well-being. Comfort takes practice, because it causes a sense of suspicion. PTS people get afraid to relax, it puts us off-gaurd. Practice anyway. Whatever comfort means to you — it’s not self-indulgent, not lazy, and not a luxury — it’s strategy for getting over and through PTS.

— Joywork

(When was the last time you really felt joyful? What was going at that time of joyfullness? Where did joyfullness lead you? How did it change you? Would you like some more of joy? What would it look like for you to give others joy? Joy is a measure of mental health. When we are depressed, the hardest things to do are the things that give us joy. Keep a running list next to your grocery list of things that used to, or that you would like to now, make you feel joyful. Remember joywork means work — observable action. If you don’t know where to start, begin by helping someone else feel joyful.)

— Infusions of beauty

(People who depressed often use the words ,”black,” or “gray, – or “the light went out inside.” It is very difficult for a depressed person to see 2 inches beyond their nose. We just can’t seem to notice the beautiful things around us, which is part of the cure. We may not feel motivated to try. So it’s going to take a little self-disciple, and if you can do this often enough it will become a habit. And here it is: Imagine a pretty teacup, or mug for a hot drink. And as you go about your daily things, or even if you are stuck bed, make yourself recite 5 things of beauty that you see right around you. Your dog. The person on the magazine cover. The color of the grass, the sound of the rain, etc. Then, in your mind, blend them into a tea infusion, pour, and see what changes inside.)

— Write your way out

(The best way for persons of Post Traumatic Stress is to talk it out. The bad things that happened. Over and over. Repetatively. And it will all come up again in its own way during periods of transition and stress. Writing about your PTS experiences, especially over time, can be both powerful and a way of seeing yourself change in time after all those bad things that happened. Talk it out, write it out.)

— One-minute island getaway

(Here’s a basic strategy for keeping a clear head, more productivity, and better friendships through the day. The one minute mental vacation. Every two hours. And just for one-minute, get away from it all in your mind).

— Words change things

(We become what we think and believe. And we think and believe in words. Think about how you want your life to be — what do you want to feel better in this moment? How do you want things to be better? How do you want others around you to be better? Cluster three words together. Not in sentence form, just 3 separate words. (3, because we remember well when things are in clusters of three.) Using deep meditation breathing, recite these three words. Anywhere you go, practice reciting these words. For several days, then select a new batch).

— Trauma changes us. How do I choose to be changed?

(We say something is traumatic because it turns our selves and our lives upside down. In a way that it can never go back to the way it was. Change was forced upon us without our consent. But now we have choice and can change ourselves. Choose your plans and goals, attitudes and approaches you want to rebuild with. Things may always be tough. But the only real question is — how I choose to be changed by it. By your own hands, by your attitude, perception and practice of your strengths. And a lot of imagination.)

— Breathe with gusto

(Breathing for relaxation takes 2 parts — getting oxygen in so that it floods the muscles of you extremities. But even more importantly, it’s the breathing out that counts. When we breath shallow, the c02 that is supposed to come out can stay in our lungs like a low hanging fog. Some scientists say that lingering cO2 can cause anxiety when it sits in like that. So, blow it out with gusto. Blast it out — all the way from that bottom lagoon in your lungs, and hold that breathing – out as long as you can. Hang up a piece of paper about 5 feet away and see if you can make it sway with that gust of wind.)

— Wellness is a “come as you are party”

(You don’t have to get dressed up for it, or bring a food item. Wherever you are, in whatever condition you are, by practicing some kind of wellness skill, and being changed by it, that’s it. If you notice you are reacting in a healthier way to such-n-such, that is wellness. We don’t go shopping and get make-up on first, think of something witty to say, then do wellness. It happens in the here and now when we work our skills in the muss of the happening.)

— Make a motion, any motion

(When you are stuck and paralyzed and flooded with symptoms, so panicky you can’t breath, so depressed you can’t get off the couch — make a motion. Any motion. Small works. Motion begets motion. The more small motions you can make, the more will roll around. Soon you’ll feel a little more energized, or focused, with bit more confidence and positive outlook.)

— Channeling your role model

(Who was the best role-model in your life? The person who said or did something that kept you going? That gave you a new idea of what your life could be? Who could motivate you when nobody else could? Think often on that person and what was said and done. Try to do a little of that for others to bring it ’round full-circle.)

— Repaint that wall totally blank

(Ever gave your house or room a re-paint? Total re-paint? So that it was completely blank? Did you spend some time admiring the total blankness of it? Imagine that now. Ask yourself, if my Invisible Disability could be that blank wall and I could do anything with it at all — what would that be? If that blank wall was a canvas for the next chapter of my growth, what would I paint on the canvas?)

— Is enabling holding you back?

(Sometimes the people who say they love us can be the ones who hold back our progress the most. They might sabatoge positive choices, reward symptoms and problems, or act-out to draw attention to themselves when you start to get better. One of the hardest things for a loved one to do is let the unwell person get better. Sometimes they might even think that signs of our wellness are a relapse into worsening or perhaps even a brand-new symptoms! If it’s safe, talk to the person who is allowing your problems to stay when you are trying to let go of them. Shake up the pattern a bit. If you don’t help the enabler to stop rewarding your problems, it won’t happen. Start by make more space between yourselves. Be a bit more independant. Keep more things that are private to you to yourself. Start including a diversity of new friends into your social circle. Be around people who seem well and bring that enabler person along. Sometimes the natural flow of comparing ourselves to “unlike” others can shake up the stuck routines of enabling. Take a stand for your recovery and don’t enable the enabler!)

— Prep for the long haul, plan ahead for bad days, take them in stride, wait for your second wind.

(There’s no quick fix in recovery from Invisible Disability. Prepare for the long haul and know that bad days will happen. Prep yourself for them in advance so they don’t blow you away. Have an advanced plan that kicks in automatically on those bad days. Promise ahead of time that it will just be a self-care day. Have people already aranged to call to fill in with the kids. It will pass. Make it your best bad day ever. And just wait it out.)

— Education puts you in the driver’s seat

(It’s your life. Not your therapist’s life, or your clinic’s life, or your doctor’s life. Get well the way you want to get well. Don’t toss the baby out with the bathwater, but get as much information as you can to take your days into your own hands. Educate yourself on skills. If one skill doesn’t work for you, try another one. Find out how other people get well. Be an advocate for yourself and others by learning about the laws and policies and procedures that affect mental health treatment in your area. It’s no crime or sin to have an Invisible Disability — own it and educate yourself in the ways that will lead to your wellness vision.)

— Learn to be imperfect

(We try things, we stumble, fall, get it all wrong. It’s part of recovery. It’s also a part of normal human life. Train yourself to say “oh well. Tommorrow’s another day,” “Whatever, at least I tried.” And have the faith that in saying those kinds of things you are giving yourself permission to start again fresh. It’s about giving yourself permission to keep trying. Giving yourself permission to be human, and really, permission to reward yourself even if you got it all wrong).

— Cocooning

(We are people of creation. It is a natural human state to be creative, to go one step beyond. That is health. Want to emerge from Recovery a beautiful butterfly? Cocooning. Taking a time out. A time of self-care and letting our inside minds and abilities restore themseves. If we are always consummed with a busy recovery, the inside work won’t get done. And there is a lot of inside work that our minds need quiet space to just file and sort and shuffle about and come to resolve. Trust your mind and body and spirit that it is made for re-invention. But we must make a space of restoration for that to emerge.)

— Squint and find that crack in the door that lets in light (Move towards the light. Hope is nothing to ignore. When you see it, feel it, get a glimpse hope, move toward the light. Open that door just a little bit more, get curious about what would happen if you followed that light. Share the hope with someone else. Do something tngible in that hope. And never, ever, shut that door.)

— Make yourself a wellness alter

(A wellness alter is a small, private, safe place in one of your rooms, perhaps a shelf or table or easy chair with side table. Fill it all of your recovery books and notes, your recovery journals and where you have written your goals. Put a stack of Post-it Notes there and some good pens. You might want to put some other inspirational things there, but I would caution against items that are sentimental or triggers from the past. Wellness is about growing forward. Your wellness alter is where you come to be well. Only wellness happens in this space. That can mean daydreaming about your future wellness life, setting some new goals, meditating, praying, talking on the phone to a support person. Avoid social media or anything that can distract or trigger you out of your wellness state. This is great place to make a post-it for the day. This space is yours, and only shared with the very safest and respectful people, if any at all. Privacy is your friend, for only you own your recovery).

— If you can’t move forward, just don’t go backwards

(Just what it says. When we can’t go forward, nothing sems to work right, when we are truly stuck, just stay put. Just don’t do anything that puts you backward. Your focus and motivation and information you need will come again soon.)

–Right where you are is where it is

(All of your experiences — as awful and painful as they may have been — have a meaning and a purpose. We, as humans, can get through anything if we can find meaning in our suffering and find a purpose in it that will carry us out of it. Right where you are is the sum total of a lot of things, many of them having given you some kind of strength, wisdom, talent, insight, ideas, feeling for your fellows. No matter how bad things have been, there is always a way to use them to help others. Right here, what is the meaning of this that you have been through? Right here, what is the purpose that you can use to go forward?)

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With 25 Post-it Notes now at your fingertips, which one will you use today, and how will you know how well it worked?

For consultation, training, and coaching on these and other Invisible Disability tools for wellness, email hhansenma@yahoo.com. Fees are reasonable and can be negotiated. Online credit card payments accepted.

For my YouTube AllThings Possible skills coaching videos — try this link:

https://plus.google.com/101070434882410182993/videos

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