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  • Ashley Peterson, LPC

From Frienemy to Friends

*Pulls hat down to cover face*  I'm about 23 days late with this blog post, and I don't really have any excuse but work in progress right?!!  The thing about procrastination is it only works when there is a consequence!!  My consequence for posting late is that my Office Manager has been harassing me and fighting the good fight for me to put this out!  So, from me to you sorry it's late and I will try and be better in 2020 #try.  


With that out of the way, this month I wanted to talk about how to become friends with your mental health!!  I have noticed in therapy, because of the perception, stigma and judgments people tend to view having "mental health issues" as something negative, something bad or something cloaked in shame and embarrassment.  I am here to affirm to you that your mental health is yours and because of that it comes without a label.  When I was in elementary school/middle school I was diagnosed with ADD (attention deficit disorder) and Generalized Anxiety, in my adulthood I was later diagnosed with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) which came as a shock to *drumroll* NO ONE!  I struggled most with my ADD diagnosis.  I felt annoyed and angry about having to take medication daily to do what others could do.  I always had behavioral plans in school, more teacher conference than most and I missed alot of learning in the classroom because I was distracted and then became a distraction.  By high school, the fight was out of me, everyone knew and I would just take my meds and go about my day.  When I got into college and had no oversight I was like F these meds, I'm doing it on my own.  Spoiler Alert: I was on academic probation after my first semester LOL!!  After this I thought okay let me re-examine my issues with this medication.  Psychology has always played such a vital role in my life, it was the first course I took in high school that gave me a passion and then in college it saved me by giving me a resource and a team of professors who understood.  I would do research on ADD and wrote several papers about my ADD meds and Anxiety meds, the side effects, the cost benefit ratio and with that knowledge I decided that I wasn't being punished by having to take these things, I was in fact evening the playing field and allowing myself to start at the same place as my peers.  It all finally clicked!!  My disorder is something that I have, but through counseling and medication it is manageable, that I could be different and have this learning disability and still be successful and that realization made me feel powerful!  By the time I made it into grad school I didn't have insurance so I didn't have my medication, I had come so far with my acceptance that I was devastated learning that I'd have to do GRAD SCHOOL alone!  I cried, I beat myself up a bit, did a lot of negative self talk then I got to work.  I looked over the tools that I was able to gain from those years of taking medication paired with my OCD and I made a schedule, a real schedule that played to the strengths of my disorders.  ADD allows me to do multiple things at one time because my attention can be so easily split, so I used it to my advantage.  I would write, take notes, listen and doodle throughout lessons while studying.  The way my ADD is set up doing one sole task at a time is damn near impossible so why try and do what everyone else does, when I know that's not how my brain is set up?!  I let my OCD shine bright and I made strict schedules, that allowed for study, homework, class time and fun. I say all this to say, when I stopped fighting who I was and my gifts with purchase (ADD, Anxiety and OCD) I was able to curate a life and a life plan that worked best for me!  I encourage my clients to adjust their perception of their mental health, take away the negative connotations and see what you have left.  What kind of relationship would you have with your mental health if you were able to see it a "positive"?  As with everything, what works for me may not work for you *kanye shrug*.. but it could!  Give it a try, let me know what you think.  I can always be reached via email or feel to send me a DM @apcounselingdmv.  I hope everyone has a happy holiday season/ time off season and I will talk to you in the New Year!!  (which is 2 weeks away due to my procrastination :)

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