Furr Family Cartoon Strip Series

 

 

Need some family therapy?  Parenting skills? Then enjoy my new Furr Family cartoon strip series! — Heidi Hansen (c2017)

“Hold Out”

kibble box page 1

hold ot page 2

“Kibble Box”

hold out page 1

kibble box page 2kibble box page 3


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Use this utterly safe and profoundly secure Papal button to subscribe to a weekly email “Furr Family” delivery for $9.99 per month.  Use this Papal button to retain Heidi Hansen’s mental health advocacy and consultation services or to purchase any of the books and artwork on this blog.  Contact Heidi in Vancouver, Washington at (360) 892-5218, or email at  dog.hotel.hansen@gmail.com .  Thanks, and happy spring!

 

 

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“Is There Such A Thing As Normal?” — Yes!


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Oh my, how many times I have heard people say, “There’s no such thing as normal,”  or, “What’s normal anyway?”

Let it be

To me, as a life-long mental health therapist, this is the voice of someone without self-love, self-compassion..  Someone floundering in an ocean of misjudged experiences from within and false advertising from the outside world.

I am who I say I am

Normal is a wide and forgiving range.  There are a few non-negotiables, but allowances are generously made for creative expression and that good ol’ learning curve.

In a nutshell, this is what normal is, and if you can do some of these things on most days with purpose and intent, you are normal.  Sigmund Freud defined mental health as the ability to work and to love, and that generally sums up normal.  To work means to use your own skills and effort in some way to provide sustenance for yourself and your loved ones.  Work that is meaningful and fulfilling.  This can be volunteer work, or hobbies or talent development.  To love means to have a safe, secure growing relationship in which you both give and receive to those ends.

relax restore reinvent

Learning, and the desire or interest in learning is normal.  Curiosity and risk-taking is normal.  Flubbing up is normal.  Beating yourself up for it over and over again is not normal.  Having problems is normal.  Resisting progress on those problems is not normal.

Questioning old paradigms is normal.  Questioning the source of your information and beliefs is normal.  Changing is normal, staying stuck is not normal.   Choosing your identity and defining your own Self is normal.  But, perhaps uncommon.

Hartbeat slow steady strong

Being able to tolerate strong emotions is normal, seeking out and creating chaos and crisis is not normal.  Accepting things as they are without judgement is normal, although this is a difficult thing for anyone to do and takes regular determination.  Determination is normal.  Resilience is normal.

Creativity is normal.  Sometimes, quitting is normal.  Staying stuck in the same language, ways of doing things, expectations of others when hey are clearly not working is not normal.

AllowTheCreative

Having high expectations of others is normal.  To be utterly rigid in those expectations is not normal.  To want to be heard and included is normal.  To rest and take a time – out is normal.  To need and ask for help is normal.

To expect others to know what normal is normal.  Everyone has a responsibility to educate themselves on mental health basics.

Own it

Setting limits and boundaries and expectations is normal.  To say “no” is normal.  TO be scared at times is normal.  To be sad, at times, is normal.  Being different than the group is normal.  Ostracizing someone because they are different is not normal.

To feel remorse, repulsion, disgust and guilt when we have done wrong is normal.  To feel the pain we cause others and be sorry for it — not ourselves — is normal.  To want to make amends is normal.  Empathy is normal.  Wanting to do good is normal, and sometimes, putting the good for others above the good for yourself is normal.

Pracice comfort

To feel sorry for yourself when you cause others pain is not normal.  To want the attention for yourself after you have victimized another person is not normal.  To never forgive yourself or others is not normal.  To let yourself or another person to go on and on feeling pain without helping to stop that pain is not normal.

Many people who suffer from mental illness have a false idea that it is when they are “cured” or “fixed” they can have a normal life.  As you can see here, there are many strands of normal a mentally ill person can have in abundance, when you can identify those particulars.

TetherToYourDay

Many person with mental illness believe it is only when they are “cured” or “fixed” that they can have a good quality of life.  But no, you can have a good quality of life in the process of being cured, and understand that sometimes there is no real “cure” or “fix” and it is behooven upon us to  build a quality of life while we still deal with symptoms and have “scrub” or “dud” days.

poster inhale peace exhale joy

The key is to get real specific about your “normal” and your quality of life.  And, guess what the bonus prize is?  Here’s the mighty take-away:  If you can do that, you can do what many, many people who do not suffer mental illness really cannot do. Or, it takes them a lifetime to try and figure it out.

So, raise up your chins with pride and hope, because you are the hope.  You are the pride.  Identify your “normal” and claim your quality of life.

———————–Heidi D. Hansen, M.A. is a mental health advocate, consultant and artist-writer in Vancouver, WA.  Purchase her services, books and art that you find on this blog, or provide a donation to keep this sliding-fee/low-income service up and running  by using the Paypal button below.  Contact Heidi by calling (360) 892-5218, or emailing her at dog.hotel.hansen@gmail.com.  Thanks!


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Taking Care of Your Inside Community: A Therapy Workbook for Living With Dissociative Identity Disorder

by Heidi D. Hansen, M.A. copyright2017
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This is a welcoming, warm, reassuring walkthrough along a path of skills and insights for persons who have dissociative identities.
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Firstly, understand that dissociative identity is a 3 – dimensional experience to process, not a linear illness to “cure” or “fix.”  Dissociation is a way your inner life is organized, a structure that helps you relate to and work in the outside world.  Dissociation does not have a “fix,” nor should it.  You have a right to be who you are.  You don’t have to change it, just learn how to work with yourself in a more complex way.
You may come into therapy because of depression, anxiety, compulsive behaviors, substance abuse, etc., but understand there is a “who” on the inside that owns that depression or anxiety or compulsive behavior.  It’s not global, it’s specific.  Presenting problems are not ‘one size fits all’ for your inside community.
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In therapy, you are working with many persons, some of whom have problems, others who do not.  It is dehumanizing, demoralizing and possibly medically neglectful/abusive to judge some inside persons falsely.  This guide book will help you clarify what belongs to whom, and give you a good start on organizing a daily quality of life and also your plan in therapy.
Secondly, you have the right to be who you are, and you are the only one who has the right to say who you are.  You have a right to have a life like everybody else does.
Thirdly, as you grow in compassion for your inside community and empowerment in its gifts, your many personalities can give you a  rich and deeply meaningful life that has so much to offer others that you can have great pride and carry yourself with respect.
Workbook Chapter 1:  Getting To Know You
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Inside communities likely have personalities that are young, very little, an older leader, a sad one, a scared one, an angry one, one who mis-behaves, one who has a drug or alcohol issue, one who is talented and skilled in a specific area, one who can be sociable, one who can handle stress, one who falls apart easily, one who is dependent, one who rejects others too quickly, one who collects information, one who observes you from a distance, etc…
Can you draw or describe in words, colors, shapes each of the  inside people you think are there at this time in the spaces shown here?  (note:  the purchase version of this workbook will have a graph here).
Now,  list out names, and functions, roles, duties, or feelings associated with these inside people using a map like the one below, and adjust as you need.   Use the icon box to provide unique characteristics, and add your own.  (note:  the purchase version of this workbook will have a graph here).
Map out which insiders stay on the inside, which ones come outside (and where, when, and to whom), and which ones seem to be hiding but hovering, using the icons and colors in your tool box.  (note:  the purchase version of this workbook will have a graph here).
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Now, using the journal page provided here (note:  the purchase version of this workbook will have a special journal page here),  list out how each of these personalities need to be taken care of.
Using self-care, comfort and safety, and allowing and encouraging inside people to meet their goals and needs, your life with dissociation will be manageable and sensible and even enjoyable!
The key is to be specific about what each person needs, and meet those needs — either on the inside, or the outside world.  This is a challenging adventure, but worth it.  Your insiders need to be heard, some need to tell their stories, some need to be visible, some need to be important and useful on the outside.  And some just need to be cared for and comforted.
Using the Three C’s each day, in some fashion, will help your insiders feel safe, heard, and cared for.  The Three C’s?  Communication, Cooperation, and Creativity.
Communication — Find a way to let insiders talk to each other (the maps and graphs above is a good daily way of doing this).  Find a way for insiders to communicate with the outside world.
Using the journal page here (note:  the purchase version of this workbook will have a graph here),  write or draw out what certain insiders need to say on the inside and on the outside.  What needs to be heard?
Cooperation — Using he journal page here (note:  the purchase version of this workbook will have a graph here),  ask the insiders to help out the overall community in some way in which they are skilled and able.  Say thanks.
Ask the ones who might not fit in with an outside task to remain calm and busy inside while you do outside things.   Ask the acting-out or destructive ones to use their power to keep you safe and fulfilled.   Ask them to cooperate with your counselor or friends or family.  Say thanks for the cooperation.  Reward all the cooperation with things that make sense to that person.
Creativity —  Inside communities are by nature creative solutions to unbearable situations.  So, you are very likely a creative person in general — and it is your dignity to use that in your own control to help yourself find the life you want and deserve.
Know the more creative you can be in allowing your inside community to tell their stories, to survive (safety and self-care) and thrive (leading a meaningful, high quality of life), the more you’ll have success in your overall life.
How can you be creative in learning and using the skills in this workbook?
How can you be creative in surviving your presenting problems?
How can you be more creative in self-care?
How can you be more creative in getting more quality of life?
How can you be more creative in getting your insiders to have a more meaningful life?
Workbook Chapter 2:  Getting Organized
Give your inside community a metaphor that feels like it fits for you and gives you an ease to communicate and cooperate as a whole.
This can be a structure that is very finite or more ephemeral, your choice.  Some examples are a universe, a galaxy, a country, a city, a highrise, a mall, a university, a paint palette, an art studio, a quilt,  — whatever comes to mind as you read this, start with that.  You are in charge of this, you own your inside community, only you can organize it and give the whole a unique form.
Use meditation to increase awareness of what is going on inside. Get in the habit of asking, on the “deep inside and far away,” — who on the inside is best suited to learn and use this skill?  This task?  Handle this feeling?  Work through this problem? Achieve this goal?
Then, listen for answers.  Allow each insider to answer, and to do the job that is asked for or needed. Remember, go slow.  Inside people don’t just pop in and out on demand.  And it takes a long time to get to a place in therapy and recovery where this can come naturally.  Practice.
Make a place of peace in your daily routines to just chill-out and let the insiders do their thing.  A place of peace is safe, still, and comforting.  A place to just listen to the inside.
Acknowledge and assign jobs to each of the insiders you are aware of.  You can draw our write this out, or just roll through it while meditating in your place of peace.
What are the goals of each of your insiders?
What outside tasks can they take over?
Who on the inside is best suited to learn and do?
(note:  the purchase version of this workbook will have specialized journal pages that complete this chapter).
Workbook Chapter 3:  Getting Calm, Cool, and Collected
Understand that when you have panic attacks or severe depression it may be an insider wanting to come forward or switch.  Ask and meditate:  What does that insider want to say?  To do?  If it’s safe, can you allow them out to do what they want and need?  When you allow this kind of process to unfold naturally, does the anxiety and depression get better?
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(note:  the purchase version of this workbook will have specialized journal pages that complete this theme).
Other people might want to diagnose you as bipolar or borderline.  Clarify your personal situation for others by having an explanation card ready to give a counselor or crisis worker so they know not to mis-diagnose you or judge you in an inappropriate and possibly destructive way. Make a crisis card to have on hand to explain to  helper — in a crisis — what your DID is like and what you specifically need.
(note:  the purchase version of this workbook will have specialized journal pages that complete this theme).
Advocating for yourself for who you are is critical for your overall wellness and quality of life.  A big part of advocating is educating others.  A big part of educating others is letting them know you expect respect and dignity and boundaries and inclusion.
How do you want to be respected by others?
How do you want to be more included, involved?
In what ways would you like to be more valued by others?
Allow yourself to go slow.  Make room for switching.  When you notice a switch happening, or someone you trust notices, write down what you observed in yourself.
(note:  the purchase version of this workbook will have specialized journal pages that complete this chapter).
Often there will be insiders whose job it is to observe.  If you feel an out-of-body experience, or like you are watching yourself from he ceiling that may be an observer part of you.  Let that happen and make notes or sketches on it.
Accept that there will be “scrub” days.  Days in which nothing syncs, days where all doors are closed on the inside and the outside world is just a fumble.  These are days to just let go of. Just let it be and focus on self-care.  Other days will be more productive and clear for you.  Give yourself a break — that’s what “normies” go through, too.
Forgiveness is a wellness tool to use often through the day.  Forgiveness means letting it go.  No getting stuck on it.  Forgiveness of others, and ourselves.
In what ways do you need to forgive yourself today?
Others?
With dissociation, you will lose track of time and place.  You’ll feel like you just woke up, entered the room, or got here.  That’s okay.  No big.
Go slow.  Do one thing, then wait.  Then one more thing, and wait.  When you allow insiders to do things that have a tangible, concrete finished product, the more you’ll be able to look back say, “yeah,– I was here!”
Sometimes you have to fight your way into a space that you find more productive for your goals.  Sometimes you’ll really have to push and challenge yourself.  Sometimes you’ll have to call out to the inside community to pony up determination and perseverance and resilience when you might not believe it’s in there.
We have the right to have a quality of life just like everyone else.  That means family, work, contributing, receiving, having fun, celebrating achievements and anniversaries, getting out and involved.
In what ways do you want more of these?  (note:  the purchase version of this workbook will have specialized journal pages that complete this theme).
Write down a list of insiders who have a clear idea of what that looks like.  Write down the insiders who are murky on what these look like.  Write down the insiders who would like to sabotage or destroy these things.  How does the understanding of these elements help your inside community overall?
(note:  the purchase version of this workbook will have specialized pages here).
If you can do a few of these things in this guide book,  at the end of the day, you’ll be able to say “I felt real today.  I wasn’t hiding so much.  I felt visible and safe in it.  I was present and accounted for and have something to show for it.  I did meaningful work and loved someone in a meaningful way. “
Getting well, or better, or recovering  — is your right.  Know that it’s also a responsibility.
To be responsible in your recover and wellness and quality of life, what do you need from others?
What responsible thing do you need to do?
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The journey path of living with dissociative identities can be at times confusing, at times frustrating, often discouraging, but most certainly worth it.  Dissociation gives you many talents and insights and skills that others don’t have.  The more you understand the patterns of you dissociative experiences, and work to honor them and allow them to thrive as they want and need, your life will be rich and dynamic and a help to many others.
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“Taking Care of Your Inside Community” and the mental health muse (icon figure) are copyrighted to Heidi D. Hansen, M.A. 2017.  All rights reserved.  Printing and use is prohibited unless purchased.
Purchase price of the entire workbook and permission to reproduce is $29.99.  Private consultation on dissociative identity disorder is available at a fee of $65.00 per hour.  Payment can be made using major credit cards via Paypal, using the button provided here.

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Heidi Hansen can be reached in Vancouver, WA, USA, at (360) 892-5218, and email at dog.hotel.hansen@gmail.com.bizcardpic

One New York City Block Poem and Mural about Dissociative Identity Disorder

In a dream, a one block stretch of New York City street
Where everything that was needed and satiating and satisfying and
safe and tangible was laid out neatly
in good city planning and best business practices.
No one was there except the company of color and the sensibility of place.
Place to be viable.
An embryo as in old lady viable.
Deconstruct
in order to reconstruct
find a construct
to know where “I” am
in the who “I” is.
Finding the “I”.
Searching for the way the place the time.
Forget time.
Time is this one city block,
it really does wrap into itself
in this Deep Inside and Far Away.
No, wait, scratch that.
It’s not about finding the “I”.
It’s about hiding the “I”.
Always dodging
A moving target and all that jazz..
And there is jazz, and classical and hip hop and bee bop
most of all, true rock.
Cuppa Joe cafe serving two seats
if there happens to be a guest who can stomach
not imposing an agenda.
You can have it in a cup if you’re feeling up
You can have it in a bowl if you’re
feeling low
but have yourself a cuppa coffee.
The main sin of the Mormon world. Coffee.
Second sin to being fat.
But it’s the only medicine that has ever worked
in all the decades of guinnea pig prescriptions.
So Medina says fuck it fuck you all
If your religion represents God
Who wants God
Hell is infinitely easier
And yes, if “men are that they may have joy”
A little “easier” can be reasonably expected.
Medina rage comes up blocking
The thiefs of the frosting colors buttercream
on vanilla cookies.
Snickerdoodles too, but you need more milk for those.
Is there a quicker-is-liquor store on this block? Cookies no way.
A bookstore, a library where hiding in the stacks is real
when razor blades double-edged kind
are taped to your shins.
In case.
Yelling tantrumming sniveling
Is truth.
Maybe the “I” is never real, just a form of truth.
Truth is what you know while everyone else is playing along
to some other dream where the streets are facade movie sets.
Construct deconstruct the sets
find a structure to order your day
keep the Overwhelm at Bay.
Detective work, mystery story hats and disguises and voices
Isn’t a mystery just another Hiding?
About finding truth?  Whodunn it?
If everyone in the christmas living room
hospital suicide room
little storage locker room
Passes milk and cookies ya ya how ya doin
While the Fargo blood stains the snow
woodchippered psyche splattered on the walls
while they smile and compliment your new wall paper
Then I am not the crazy one.
That much I know by now.
Wait, I said “I”.
That’s the “I for now.
What is not truth, and also, when it clears on the horizon,
What is truth.
And it ain’t my problem.

—————“One New York City Block” poem is written and copyrighted by an a name-withheld author.  The accompanying mural is by Heidi Hansen.  Questions and comments should be sent to Heidi D. Hansen, M.A., Mental Health Advocate specializing in Dissociative disorders and Post Trauma Stress.  Contact (360) 892-5218 or email  dog.hotel.hansen@gmail.com to discuss your needs in this area.  Payments for DID consultation and advocacy can be made via Paypal using the button shown here.

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