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News for February 2012

A Therapeutic Trip Home

This past weekend was a very important weekend for me psychologically. For the first time since July 2009, my wife and I went to New Jersey to friends and family. This was a major event in both of our lives.

The trip, which usually takes 4 – 5 hours, wound up taking close to 12 hours. It was not even an issue of traffic that slowed us down so much. There was some  traffic, but nothing to the magnitude of delaying us 7 hours.

We delayed getting started, and getting up there with so many little things. The biggest part of the problem was anxiety. We were both anxious and afraid on some level. I even brought my Xanax with me, fully expecting at least one of us to need it.

Why so much anxiety? Why had we not been to New Jersey in so long? The answer to both is the same, on July 3, 2009 my wife and I had a very severe accident that almost cost her her life. That accident was in New Jersey, on our way to see the friends we were on our way to visit this time, for another party, at the same house.

This trip gave us both a chance to face some of the demons that haunted and tormented us for the last few years. It gave us a chance to face these fears and hopefully put the fears to rest once and for all. I know I needed this trip to go well.

Not only did the trip go smoothly from a traveling point of view, but it was a lot of fun as well.

Edited: February 22nd, 2012

A Look Back – Last Friday’s Incident

Last week I had a bad episode at Walmart. I lost my temper and yelled at and cursed out one of the managers because she gave me an attitude.

Even though she gave me an attitude, I should never have reacted the way I did. I cannot try and justify my reaction. I had a right to be angry and upset with the situation and with how she reacted toward me.

The problem wasn’t the feeling of anger that I felt, rather it was the way I reacted as a result of the feelings. I let the emotions take hold of me and control my reactions.

Now, on the plus side, while I yelled and screamed a lot, I did not hurt myself. I resisted the urge to hit myself. This is a big thing for me.

The other positive that came out of it is that I was over it within in a few minutes, that is over the whole incident. I did not carry on about it. Even when my wife was still pissed with me I didn’t stress over it. I said ‘oh well’ because I knew by morning things would have calmed down.

Edited: February 12th, 2012


During a recent session my therapist wound up on the topic of personality. When I got home I originally jotted down a few fast notes for a later blog entry. Tonight, I finally got the chance to write the entry I wanted to write last week.

These are a few of my personal thoughts on personality. I will start with a definition of personality as it relates to psychology. Personality is defined as:

  1. the sum total of the physical, mental, emotional, and social characteristics of an individual.
  2. the organized pattern of behavioral characteristics of the individual.


Social scientists would argue that the personality is strongly tied to and defined by our environment. This is something that I would have to disagree with and disagree with strongly. Our environment does not define our personality. Our environment may help influence it, it may contribute to it on some level, but it does not define it.

We should define our personality and not let our environment define it for us. When we talk about the environment defining our personality, we begin to talk more about personality disorders. When our environment defines our personality we run into the problem of an unstable sense of self-identity.

The reason I say this, is that if our environment were to change, it could cause a ripple effect within us. It could cause us to question everything about ourselves. It can lead to us to changing our behavior, possibly radically in order to adapt to the new environment. It takes away any sense of continuity of our identity.

If our environment controlled our personality, wouldn’t everyone in the same area have the same personality? Yes, you often see people living in the same area sharing certain personality traits, but they do not have the same personality. They still have individuality and unique personalities.

Also, if we say that our environment controls our personality, we start to go down the path of saying that a person is not responsible for their actions because of their environment. It takes away self-accountability. We need to remain accountable for our own actions. If environment controlled our personality, then there would never be ‘good’ people in bad environments or ‘bad’ people in good environments.

We need to be able to adapt to changes in our environment but at the same time our underlying personality needs to remain. Our personality is a fundamental part of who we are as human beings, it helps differentiate use from one other and from other parts of our environment.

We have to fight to maintain our own identity. We need to understand our personality and why it has formed the way it has formed. Yes, there are times when we will need to modify our personality, but it needs to be us that modify it not our environment that modifies it for us.

Edited: February 11th, 2012

“Incident Report” – Getting Booted from Walmart

How sad is it that I just got thrown out of walmart? I mean of all places, walmart. I am more upset and embarrassed about it being walmart then actually getting thrown out of the store itself. So what happened to bring me to this new sorry state?

It is a 19 hour story, but I will only touch on a few highlights, and the low lights for that matter.

Today, as always, I got up around 5a-6a and went to work. After an1 1/2 hour commute, which is the norm, I got to work. I didn’t get very good sleep the night before so I was dragging. To make things even more fun, I had to borrow some money from friends at the office because dumb dumb me forgot my credit card. I wound up having to go through two energy drinks during the day to not fall asleep. Other than that, they day went fairly well.

I left at 3:30 as usual to go to my therapist. I got off the metro with enough time to walk the mile or so. It was a nice walk and I got to her office with plenty of time left.

The session went well and we wound up talking about personality,  what it was, and how environment affects or in some cases controls it. I will be writing about that conversation in the near future.

When I got home, I helped my wife get showered and ready to go out. I was still in a pretty good mood, though my wife did irritate me a little. I had been trying to respond to a comment on my facebook from one of my friend while my wife got ready but wasn’t able to finish. After she got out of the shower I had to help her finish getting ready. I figure I could then sit and finish my response before we went out to dinner. Unfortunately, my wife had other plans. She hadn’t eaten lunch and was hungry so I was ‘rushed’ out the front door.

We then headed over to Chili’s for dinner. We had a nice meal, it ran more than either of us expected, but it was a good meal and a good time.  Up to this point, it was a good evening.  Then my wife wanted to go to walmart for some things.  I was already getting tired and didn’t really want to be bother tonight. However, we still went. We walked around, picked up some stuff and looked at TVs and iPods. It was still going well.

After about and hour or maybe even two, we finally got to the checkout. The woman rang us up and the we went to pay. My wife had gotten paid earlier in the day and shuffled money around on her credit cards. Apparently the posting hadn’t occurred yet though because when we went to pay the card was declined. This confused me since they machine gave us the line to sign but then quickly blinked away. I thought it was a system malfunction and we tried a few more times. The cashier tells us the card  is declined. This of course is starting to piss me off because I knew we had money in the accounts. My level of irritation is now rising to someplace between a 3.0 and 5.0.  I got to the point where I was saying that ‘I am getting pissed off now’ and then ‘You know what just take everything off’ except for the bottle of coke I had opened.

She of course had to get the manager. This is where things went to hell. When the manager came over she almost instantly got an attitude and rude with me. I was already annoyed and tired so her attitude did not make me smile. I have problems with people giving me an attitude when I am completely calm and well rested. Can you guess how well this went over when I was tired and pissed? My level of irritation went from the 3-5 rang to about a 15 in less than one minute. Her attitude caused me to get louder and nastier. It ended with me telling her to go to f***ing hell and what I thought she was and her throwing me out of her store.

This of course led to me yelling a few more ‘nice’ things to her on the way out.  By the end, my wife was angry at me, scared because of how angry I was and my reaction and I was shaking because I was so angry.

Within 5 minutes of leaving the parking lot, I was pretty much back to ‘normal.’

I think tomorrow I will call my therapist and go over what happened.

Edited: February 4th, 2012


While it is true that mindfulness is a key component to recovery from mental illnesses, understanding is an equally important component of recovery. Mindfulness means we are aware of what we are doing, but it does not ensure that we understand why we are doing it.

Mindfulness helps stop us from hurting ourselves, both physically and emotionally, while understanding helps us prevent these thoughts and actions. Mindfulness must occur before understanding. We cannot understand something if we are not aware of it.

While mindfulness makes us aware of ‘what’, understanding answers ‘why’.

Understanding is important when dealing with other people as well. It allows us to better relate to one another, both with others who share similar challenges in life as well as those who do not share them.

Think about how much easier it is to connect with people who understand you and people who you understand. The relationship with them is a lot easier and stable. I know how hard it is to really understand others at times; especially, when your emotions are all over the place, whispering lies to you.

When I first met my wife, I was afraid to date her. I was afraid because she was too ‘normal’, too well balanced and I felt that I did not know how to relate to her. I felt that I would not know what she needed. Over the years, most of the people I have had relationships with shared similar challenges as I do, whether or not they were diagnosed, they all had their challenges. So, I have learned how to relate and understand them. I understand what they need from a person and a relationship. I have in a way tailored myself to relate and provide these things. Since my wife was so ‘normal’, I did not really understand her or what she needed. I was terrified, I actually talked to my therapist about my concerns.

I would need to learn to understand her and a whole different type of person. Learning to understand people can be a very hard and terrifying thing when we first start down that path. The good news is that it can be done and is worth it.

The other important thing about understanding is that when you find someone who understands you, you start to feel less alone in the world. You know that when a person understands you, that you do not need about them judging you.

It gives you a sense of hope. The hope that if you can find one person who understands you, that maybe, just maybe there are more people who understand you. Things start to become a little less scary, a little less lonely.

Edited: February 1st, 2012


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