Category: Mental Health

My Experience Trying an Art Therapy Group

My Experience Trying an Art Therapy Group

Since my depression has made it difficult for me to start on the creative hobbies I’m interested in, aside from writing, I tried an art therapy group yesterday. The project turned out to be painting Christmas ornaments! I painted three, and of course, my favorite is the one with the heart on it, since I thought of my amazing boyfriend, “Purple,” while working on it.

One of the members sitting next to me offered to let me use a purple paint that she had mixed, so I added stripes to my green ornament from her mix. That one is also meaningful to me, since it’ll be a reminder of someone’s kindness and of collaboration.

The members mostly stayed silent while we worked on our projects, so I followed their lead and didn’t talk much, either. I’m lonely (except within my relationship with Purple specifically, since we have great communication and I feel cared for, with him), so I was disappointed that I barely got to interact with anyone. Still, at least I got to be around people for a while. There were a few minutes when the instructors allowed us to each show off one thing we had worked on and talk about it a bit, and I enjoyed finding out a bit about peoples’ mindsets about their work. One person described how her color choices represented her conflicting feelings about Christmas.

My least favorite part was that I felt pressured by one of the group leaders to move faster and get more done. That surprised me, since I had assumed that a therapy group would be a low key place to ease into doing artwork. I told her that when it looked like I was doing nothing, I was actually waiting for my paint to dry, since I didn’t want to mess up my work by accident; for instance, if I flipped over one of the wooden ornaments while the front was still drying to work on the other side, I figured that some of the paint would get smeared off from the wood, where I wanted it, to the table.

I had hoped that she would understand, but later in the session, she criticized me for my slow pace. I feel judged and rushed, which gives me doubts about going to anymore sessions.

I Started Writing My First Book

Yesterday, I started writing my first book, which shares my experience and tips about dealing with grief. I’m calling it The Valley of Grief. My mom recently passed away, and I’d like to offer a written companion to others who are dealing with a similar struggle.

She was the number one supporter of Psychology Plus, so it seems fitting for her to inspire my first book. I’m going to dedicate it in her memory. I wish that my first book could’ve been born in a happier context, and that she could’ve been here to celebrate it with me, but I’ll have to settle for this more poignant reality, and for her spirit witnessing this project from the other side.

Video Games and Grief

Video games were a fun part of my relationship with my mom, and they’ve been helping me work through my grief.

While she was in a coma, and dying, I told her some cheesy jokes from the game Word Search. She had tried it a few weeks before she died. As a very frugal person, she was hesitant about buying the Nintendo Switch. Since I’m somewhat less cautious with money, she liked to use me as a guinea pig for products she was interested in, which was a role that I enjoyed. I had joked to her that it was like she was a queen and I was a taster to make sure that she didn’t get poisoned. I told her that I was enjoying the Switch, which piqued her interest enough to try Word Search for a few minutes.

During that same visit, she also traded an egg into my Pokemon Y game for the 3DS that hatched into an Eevee, my favorite Pokemon. I didn’t think that it was possible to like Eevee more than I already do, but I do like it more, because it’s the last Pokemon that I got from my mom. She really liked Eevee and its evolutions, too.

I’ve been playing a game called The Last Day of June for the Switch, which is about losing a loved one. The main character, Carl, loses his partner, June, in a car crash. He travels back in time to try to save her. I have similar feelings about wishing that there was something that I, or someone, could’ve done to save my mom. So far, I’ve learned from the game that a cause of death can be very complex, and any one thing wouldn’t necessarily have changed the outcome. I don’t know yet how the game ultimately will end, though, but I know that in real life, there’s nothing that I can do to bring her back.

What I can do is honor her memory through things like activities, memories, reflecting on lessons that I learned from her, and prayer. Playing video games is one of the activities that helps me continue to feel connected to her, since we were both gamers. The games help me work through my feelings while having some fun at the same time. Since my mom liked to end our conversations with, “Go do something fun,” I feel like it suits my situation well.


A Tribute to My Late Mom

I’m happy and honored that I had her as my mom.

She showed her love for her community by helping her neighbors with their social services paperwork, voting, sharing links to news articles, and contacting politicians.

She showed her love for me by saying, “Go do something fun,” at the end of our conversations. It made her sad how much I ruminated about stressful things, and she encouraged me to try to tap into the more refreshing side of life, which I’m still working on, thanks to her.

She showed her love for my dad by putting minutes on his phone for him every month, since he really struggled to figure out how to do it.

When we hung out, we spent most of our time together watching crime shows and playing Pokemon. We had so much fun! One of the last things I told her as she was dying, which she unfortunately couldn’t respond to because she was in a coma, was that I’d continue our criminology tradition by trying to get a volunteer job in the field, such as possibly visiting kids at the juvenile detention center.

Halloween was her favorite holiday. This is the day her spirit tells me that she wants me to do the most for her every year in her memory. Monster movies, such as the Frankenstein ones, were among her favorite kind.

Aside from criminology, her other favorite subjects to learn about included anthropology and linguistics. Sadly, she regretted not majoring in anthropology in college, but she did get to minor in linguistics. At least one, maybe a few of her classes were in anthropology. We shared both fascinations and frustrations with trying to understand people.

Security was one of her values that was most important to her. She was very mindful about things like going to her medical appointments and having two phones in case one of them was lost or stolen. It seems that her favorite aspect of security to learn and discuss was finance. She enjoyed going over her budget and scoping out sales and other ways to save money. Recently, she contributed a guest post involving safety in the kitchen.

Aside from Pokemon, she also enjoyed playing Sims a lot. She had a routine of playing every Sims game the same way, by having her sims run a nectar (their word for wine) business from their homes so that she could manage their needs more easily. In her Pokemon games, she liked more variety, and gave herself little challenges to entertain herself. One challenge that she’d sometimes do was to beat a Pokemon game with a team full of Pokemon of the same type, which was tricky, because there are 18 types, which have different strengths and weaknesses to each other.

Thank you, Mom, for being part of my life.



My Mom Died

My mom died today. The doctor called and said that there was nothing else they could do for her and that he thought it would be best for her to let her pass away, so I agreed. I don’t think that I have the strength to visit her one last time, but my dad and I visited her twice yesterday, and I hope that’ll be enough to have made a good transition for her to the other side. I’ll post a tribute on Sunday of all of the things that I loved about her with a link to the guest post she recently contributed. I wish that we could’ve had more time together. I hope that we’ll be together again after I pass away. I hope that there’s a peaceful afterlife. I admit that I’m skeptical, but I feel like I need to believe in order to keep my mind intact.

I’m Scared That My Mom Will Die

On Monday night, my mom was having severe leg pain and trouble breathing. I didn’t know at the time. She told my dad, and neither of them realized how much trouble she was in, so she didn’t get help until Tuesday morning, when her caregiver’s supervisor visited her and saw that she needed emergency help. My mom thought that she was having a panic attack.

Late Tuesday afternoon, she went into a medically induced coma to help her breathe. I’m sorry that no one knew sooner that she needed help. Maybe if she could’ve gotten help earlier, she’d be in more stable condition. The last things that we talked about while she was still conscious were a cat joke and a cooking video about things to add to refried beans. She loves to talk about food. I was trying to keep things fun for her.

On Wednesday, my dad and I visited her at the hospital. I was grateful to have him guide me, since I get lost easily. It hurt to see her helpless in bed, unconscious and paralyzed by the medicine they were giving her for her protection. My dad and I talked to her and touched her hand, which was very cold. We told her that we hope she makes it, but that if she wants to leave, that’s okay, since we didn’t want her to feel pressured.

Since Halloween is her favorite holiday, I did Halloween themed word search puzzles on my Switch, which she enjoyed trying out earlier, and told her about them, as well as the cheesy jokes that show each time I solve the puzzle. I told her that Halloween is next month and that I still have Pokemon to catch for her. Lol, maybe that will help keep her going.

I started writing letters to her on Wednesday. I’ll write one to her every day until she either wakes up, or passes away, to document how she’s doing and how I and the other people connected to her are coping. If she wakes up, I hope that she’ll find the letters meaningful. If she passes away, I might save them to look at once or a few times a year.

I got to talk to my therapist on the phone. She said that she’s there to support me. She wants to connect me to a peer counselor, and she encouraged me to try a group there again to build a support system.

My mom has been my blog’s biggest fan. She asks me for links to almost every post. She wrote a guest post for Psychology Plus last month, and we had planned on her contributing one per month after that, so that she could enjoy writing without what she felt was a hassle of trying to maintain a regular blog. I’d really enjoy seeing more of her writing and another side to her voice.

44 would be so soon to leave this world.

Self Care Frees Up Options For Us

Early this morning, I had a doctor appointment. I found it kind of disturbing, since she didn’t stop a part of my check up when I asked her to that had caught me off guard and turned out to be excruciating for me. I don’t know if this is normal for doctors, so I’ll discuss it with my therapist when I see her tomorrow.

For most of my life, I barely went to any appointments, and the very few that I did go to as an adult, I got help with from staff when I was in assisted living, or from my therapist after I left there. My fear that the appointment would go badly came true. Afterwards, my mom let me stop by her place, which was nearby, to vent for a bit.

To relax, I read a chapter of a novel after I got home. I then went grocery shopping. I’ve written in the past about how I had a lot of anxiety and dread about grocery shopping. I’d avoid it and instead starve or buy really expensive convenience food, such as takeout deliveries. I was malnourished and wasting a lot of money. My temporary social worker has taken me on some grocery trips, but since my food hasn’t lasted long enough between trips, I decided to really dig down for the strength to get groceries on my own. I’ll still need her help with spending down my disability back pay, since that’s a huge project, but I’d like to at least take care of the basics myself now.

I spent a lot of time looking for vanilla coffee creamer for my oatmeal. I also got confused about the “not for inventory” label on most of the breads and desserts in the bakery. I tried several times to get an employee’s attention for help, but it didn’t work out. Maybe I wasn’t assertive enough for them to realize that I was trying to get their attention. I called my mom, and she helped me solve my shopping trip issues, which I appreciated. Although I brought a list with me, and checked it several times, I still forgot some things, such as sour cream for my omelettes. I still did better than usual.

Now I have a load of laundry going, so by the time I go to bed, I’ll have three major tasks done. I feel good about my progress. One thing that helped me was to transform parts of my anxiety into a healthy motivation instead of a prison. One of the things that I asked my doctor about was red, painful, scaly patches on my hands. I was afraid that I had a serious skin problem, but she thinks that I simply need lotion, which was a relief. We can use anxiety as motivation to find relief from our problems instead of add  to them.

It can be easier to see what we don’t want, first, but we can flip that into what we do want. I went to the doctor because I want security about my health. As a mortal human, I know that my body will fall apart someday, but I want to keep it running as comfortably as possible for as long as I can. Knowing what’s causing a problem with my body gives me options for dealing with it, like getting lotion for my hands. Having a stocked fridge and cupboards will help me maintain my rising energy level. Wearing clean clothes will open doors to hopes like friendships and work opportunities. Practicing self care gives us options. Having options gives us a wonderful combination of freedom and security, across multiple categories: medical, social, economic, and more.