Vulnerability Factors of the Holiday Season

As a neurodivergent individual, I have a love/hate relationship with the holidays. I enjoy what I refer to as the *shiny factor* of this time of year – lights, decorations, presents & holiday music can all bring a smile to my face. However, without fail, by January 1st I tend to be over-socialized and on the verge of burnout.

For neurodivergent individuals the holiday season can be a minefield of different vulnerabilities. We’re out of our usual routines & schedules, we may have lots of extra exposure to family (and their beliefs and/or patterns of invalidation), there’s potential for all sorts of sensory overload, and the demands of December can feel completely overwhelming.

In DBT we identify vulnerability factors as anything that decreases our ability to regulate emotions in the moment. I realized this week, that we could break those vulnerability factors down into three specific categories when it pertains to the holidays:

Family Triggers
Seasonal Factors
Potential for Overindulgence

Family Triggers
1) Increased exposure to family. As neurodivergent individuals many of us have experienced years of invalidation from members of our families. From the “You shouldn’t feel that way” to “You’re too sensitive” these messages (especially when present in early childhood) have an extra level of sting when coming from the mouth of a parent. If your holiday plans include lots of extra time with family, this may mean those events include more invalidation than your typical day. One helpful tip if this is the case – try to bookend interactions with family with some solid validation. I recommend using self validation techniques or a loving kindness meditation before and a quick chat with someone who understands you and your beautiful brain afterwards.
2) Advertising and societal messaging. The holidays bring a specific type of messaging to the forefront of advertising. Happy family gatherings are the norm & everybody has a partner that loves them are two themes repeated over and over from perfume commercials, to car ads and oh those lovely Hallmark specials. The scenes portrayed in these represent reality for such a small portion of the population; however, the consistency of these messages across brands can make it hard to remember that life doesn’t look like that for most people.
3) Trauma & Grief. Tying in with advertising, messages about loving families and happy couples can be especially triggering to those with CPTSD, complex family dynamics & those who have chosen to go no contact with loved ones. Grief just tends to hit extra hard this time of year. If you are dealing with the loss of a loved one, finding a grief share group can be especially helpful this time of year to have a designated container for your sadness.

Seasonal Factors
1) Scheduling & Overcommitment. Tis the season of activities! The last 6 week of the year is a time filled with commitments (both pleasurable and obligatory) that aren’t part of our regular schedules. As neurodivergent individuals we may find it really discomfortable when our routine is thrown off. It easy to find yourself overwhelmed and slipping into a state of anxiety. Keeping a written or digital calendar (even if you don’t the rest of the year) can be really helpful to avoid overcommitment and scheduling multiple events at the same time (I have been guilty of this more than once!)
2) Expectations vs reality. When I think of Christmas as a child the word that best describes it is excitement. When you get down to it though, excitement is a pretty un-mindful emotion. Excitement is the anticipation of future joy, it is not grounded in the present moment. Excitement can fire some pleasure hormones off in the present, but it is based on events that have yet to occur. Excitement can set us up for really big let downs – when for whatever reason, life doesn’t meet the expectations we have built up in our heads, we pay for that hit of joy earlier with more disappointment and sadness in the present.
3) Sensory Overload & SAD factors. The seasonal weather aspects tend to be twofold. First cold. If you have any of often cooccurring autoimmune or connective tissues disorders associated with neurodivergence, then winter is probably more discomfortable in your body than other seasons. They’re also the sensory overload of layering clothes and having to deal with multiple textures on your skin all day. And there is the Seasonal Affective Disorder realm of depression that comes from less daytime and exposure to sunlight.

Overindulgence / Impulse Control
1) Spending. I love to gift. I like to buy things for the people I care about that I know they will enjoy. As with many self employed individuals the holiday season tends to be leaner for me financially than others. So pair the most expensive part of the year with the least income and the fact that I can be totally swayed by a “good deal.” I go ahead and budget in November for gifting per person and cost of any extra events I plan to attend over the holidays. I also try to keep all my Christmas expenses grouped together on one card so they are trackable at the end of season. The goal is not to create financial hole over the last two months that we spend the entire next year digging out of.
2) Food. My absolute favorite food in the world is Fantasy Fudge. Martha Washington Bon Bons are a close second. I could eat both until I was sick. The holidays are filled with sugar, butter & cream based dishes. It is a time of year where indulgence is even encouraged. Our brains can take things to the max. The goal is with moderation. Just like with spending, you want to avoid making choices during this time of year, that you will pay for months into the next year.
3) Alcohol & Substances. Tie in all the other factors, short days, family triggers, stressful schedules, it is an easy time to turn to substances for comfort. Again there may even be environmental factors that support this more than other times of year – everyone gets drunk at the corporate Christmas party right? If you have historically struggled with substance use/abuse, it’s helpful to have a plan in place. Do you need a little extra support in the form of meetings, therapy/coaching or even just having an accountability talk with a friend? Know your limits before you find yourself in situations that test them. Are you in a place of total abstinence – cope ahead your scripting for how you would like to reply if someone asks why you aren’t drinking.

Chances are, if you’re neurodivergent you’re dealing with at least one (if not all) from every single category. That’s a lot of vulnerability factors interacting to create a nice web of chaos in your brain. The goal is to avoid that meltdown, hide in your bed for two weeks place. Having mindfulness of our vulnerabilities is half the puzzle. Being aware and able to label what is going on definitely helps.

The second half is intentionality. Mindfulness in what you commit to. Mindfulness in how you consume. It’s totally ok to prioritize your own sanity over attending to the desires of everyone around you. Pay attention to your emotional battery. Just like your phone, once you get to the red – it goes down way faster. If you’re bordering on overload find a way to carve out some time for yourself to do whatever replenishes your soul.

For more DBT based tips on handling these holiday vulnerability factors, head on over to YouTube to check out my DBT Skills for the Holidays video series.

#trauma #ptsd #recovery #cptsd # hypervigilance #mentalhealth #wellness #treatment #insomnia #anxiety #depression #healing #healingispossible #shadowwork #facethedarkness #psychology #counseling #dbt #dialectics #selfcare #bpd #nonjudgmental #compassion #kindness #ego #hope #lifeworthliving #thrive #evolve #phoenix #resurrection #rebirth #life #holistic #metamorphosis #transform #transformation #lettinggo #nonattachment #jamieschmidt #awakeshegoes #jamieschmidtlpc #goodvibes #growth #selflove #selftalk #appearance #hair #dreadlock #dreads #dreadhead #redhead #selfconcept #love #thisisme #takeitorleaveit #jour

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DBT Skills for the Holidays

I originally composed this series in 2018 as an 8 week psychoeducational group to provide extra support for my clients during the stressful season. I also filmed it that year (why my introductions still label me as a therapist). It’s an opportunity to see pre-dreads Jamie 😁 The series breaks down some of the most common categories of stressors that appear this time of year and discusses the application of the skills in these situations. There’s also a free workbook download that can be a great journaling tool to help you process your emotions and experiences through the season.

You can find the full playlist of 7 lessons:
DBT Skills for the Holidays Playlist on YouTube

If you find the holidays to be a particularly stressful time of year and are looking for a little extra support, use the contact form to book a free coaching discovery call.

Sending you all my love in this stressful & joyful time of year! 🎄
Namaste,
Jamie

#trauma #ptsd #recovery #cptsd # hypervigilance #mentalhealth #wellness #treatment #insomnia #anxiety #depression #healing #healingispossible #shadowwork #facethedarkness #psychology #counseling #dbt #dialectics #selfcare #bpd #nonjudgmental #compassion #kindness #ego #hope #lifeworthliving #thrive #evolve #phoenix #resurrection #rebirth #life #holistic #metamorphosis #transform #transformation #lettinggo #nonattachment #jamieschmidt #awakeshegoes #jamieschmidtlpc #goodvibes #growth #selflove #selftalk #appearance #hair #dreadlock #dreads #dreadhead #redhead #selfconcept #love #thisisme #takeitorleaveit #jour

How About a Side of Self-Compassion for the Holidays?

This time of year can be especially overwhelming for neurodivergent individuals.  Take the demands of normal every day life, add in the million extra holiday based activities and compound that with family expectations/guilt.   By January 1, my ND crew tends to be teetering on burnout (which is so not the mood that we want to enter into the New Year).  

In the past few years, one of the major shifts I’ve had in my own life is learning to take a beat before I commit to anything.   While I love joining in the festivities,  I’ve also realized that the easiest way to circumvent  burnout is to be proactive in my scheduling.  

Some questions I ask myself: 

Is this activity at the end of an already draining day?

Will I be super anxious and regret saying yes when it’s time to do the activity?

Do I have adequate down time slotted for the week?

Am I saying yes out of obligation or to make someone else happy?

There is a dialectic present here:

Accommodating my needs (in the interest of mental wellness) can be perceived as selfish – in fact it sometimes results in push back from the environment.  

AND

It is the most protective action I can take. 

As a woman who grew up in the Evangelical south, we are socialized to put our own comfort below the wants (not even needs) of others.  We’re given faulty programming and then spend our lives fighting against the critical voice in our heads that grows out of it.  The more I learn about my own neurospiciness, I have been able to let go of many of the judgments I placed on myself for not being able to “do life” in the way everyone else around me seemingly does so easy.  

The self-compassion guru, Kristin Neff, says that we can activate more compassion by moving from a place of self-judgment to that of self-kindness. This aligns with the dialectical mindfulness skill of Non-judgmental Stance.  

When we use negative self-talk, we may think we are motivating ourselves to do better.  However, most often judgmental stance just keeps us frozen in loops of old behavior.  Critical voice wants us to believe it exists to help us improve, but that is far from the truth.  Self judgments tend to be all encompassing – I’m  a bad person, I can’t get it together like everyone else, I’ll never be able to _______.  When you truly believe those statements at core, you tend to embody them in your actions. 

It’s also important to remember that most of our harshest self-judgments are not  our “original thoughts.”  Someone in our developmental years observed us to be that way, and then taught us we should feel shame for it.  In fact many times the things we judge ourselves about the most, are not even things that go against our personal value system.  

For example – I would definitely never fault a friend for choosing not to engage in something that they feel would be detrimental to their mental health.  It makes sense to show that same level of grace with myself.  But that old critical voice would want me to believe that I am a bad person for choosing not to spend the holidays with family.   What it comes down to: their value system places obligations over wellness – mine does not.  

So as we swing full speed ahead into December, be mindful of where you invest your energy.  Find a little time daily to assess your emotional battery, adjust proactively when possible.  When you observe guilt, shame, self judgment  or critical voice creeping in – check in with your value set.   And remember that you are your most value resources, you’re worth taking care of properly.  

Stay safe & sane this holiday season guys! 

#trauma #ptsd #recovery #cptsd # hypervigilance #mentalhealth #wellness #treatment #insomnia #anxiety #depression #healing #healingispossible #shadowwork #facethedarkness #psychology #counseling #dbt #dialectics #selfcare #bpd #nonjudgmental #compassion #kindness #ego #hope #lifeworthliving #thrive #evolve #phoenix #resurrection #rebirth #life #holistic #metamorphosis #transform #transformation #lettinggo #nonattachment #jamieschmidt #awakeshegoes #jamieschmidtlpc #goodvibes #growth #selflove #selftalk #appearance #hair #dreadlock #dreads #dreadhead #redhead #selfconcept #love #thisisme #takeitorleaveit #jour

The Big Holiday Sads

The final six weeks of the year, are an emotionally charged period for many of my clients and myself. The amped up messages in advertising and media about family, connection, shared memories – can all be triggering for cycle breakers – those of us who have chosen to break against unhealthy familial patterns in the name of our own sanity.

The time of year was magical in my early childhood. My favorite time of year.  I was the first and only grandchild on both sides – so you can imagine the abundance of presents and general attention I received. Holidays were predictable: gatherings of the same people, with the same food, stories, laughter and cheer.   The weeks of anticipation and excitement always came to fruition.

It has been four years since I cut contact with my father’s family.  Initially, I thought with each passing year the pain would become less intense.  In actuality, it’s been the other way around: with each passing year, the knife wound to my heart feels a little deeper.  That these people, my family, are so attached to their shit and their lies, they will forever choose that over my presence.  It hits on my big core wound of I will never be worth truly loving.  The dialectic – just because it’s painful, doesn’t mean it’s not 100% the right choice for my mental health.  I will choose grief over lies and cognitive dissonance any day of the week.  I know how to move through grief.  What they have chosen is inertia – the safety and comfort of the toxic known.  

As a child, I always assumed these multigenerational gatherings would continue throughout my adulthood.  Now that there is no longer a default (this is just what our family does on thanksgiving)  it requires me to live with more intentionality and alignment. I have chosen not to participate in that which does me harm.  And (another dialectic) I also still need to participate in connection, trust, shared memories because that is the benefit we are intended to reap from these days.

If you’re struggling with the sadness of letting go in the name of self preservation, I encourage you to begin the process of creating your own holiday traditions.   Observing those cues of the holidays that still bring a spark to your inner child and creating new customs around them.   Returning the sense of wonder and anticipation to this time of year, on your own terms.  

I also encourage you to honor your grief.  Find a way to carve out some space for it – whether thats journaling, meditation, therapy/coaching, a restorative yoga class or just taking a few minutes for a good old fashioned cry in the closet.   I think a lot of us buy into the conditioning that this is a time of year only for positive emotions.  Grief gains power when we stuff it down and try to pretend like it’s not there.   Giving it space allows us to move through it, to release it and open ourselves up for new possibilities.  

Happy Thanksgiving Y’all! 

Wishing everyone a week of peace, connection and health.  

#trauma #ptsd #recovery #cptsd # hypervigilance #mentalhealth #wellness #treatment #insomnia #anxiety #depression #healing #healingispossible #shadowwork #facethedarkness #psychology #counseling #dbt #dialectics #selfcare #bpd #nonjudgmental #compassion #kindness #ego #hope #lifeworthliving #thrive #evolve #phoenix #resurrection #rebirth #life #holistic #metamorphosis #transform #transformation #lettinggo #nonattachment #jamieschmidt #awakeshegoes #jamieschmidtlpc #goodvibes #growth #selflove #selftalk #appearance #hair #dreadlock #dreads #dreadhead #redhead #selfconcept #love #thisisme #takeitorleaveit #jour

Reflections Moving Forward

The first week in December marks the nine year anniversary since I began my journey as a DBT provider.  As I look into the new year, I’ve begun focusing on my rebrand which has been in the works since August.  I’m simplifying my marketing, and transitioning my blog back to my main site.

In beginning this process, I realized that I did not want to migrate all the articles I had written over the past 5 years.   These posts offer examples and discussions of many of the DBT Skills and concepts of complex trauma; however, I no longer feel connected to the version of me, that woman in the past, who wrote them.

This journey for me has been a decade of unravelling.  Reaching the position of licensed therapist and quickly realizing it didn’t offer me the life of fulfillment I had envisioned (and worked consistently for) since I was 14 was a real bummer.   Don’t get me wrong,  I owe so much to the years I spent at the DBT Center – the training I received built the conceptual foundation for all my work today. And to be honest, there’s a part of my soul that still grieves for the life I thought I’d have when I entered private practice after graduation – it was what I truly desired at the time.

Truth is though, working in mental health very quickly opened my eyes to the level at which my own shit had not been addressed.  Being employed in group practice also illustrated that many in my chosen field had not addressed their shit – the career can be a great distraction to keep you too busy to engage in your own shadow work.  

The realities of working as a therapist were also always extremely anxiety inducing for me.  While I enjoyed the one on one sessions with clients – I dreaded the notes, the mandatory meetings, the insurance calls, the overall CYA vibe of healthcare.  The demands of professionalism (lack of authenticity and genuineness) and the power dynamics also always made me incredibly uneasy.   I now can contribute this to my neurodivergence, which was still improperly diagnosed at the time. 

It’s been 6 years this month since I left the Center.  Personally it’s been a crazy ride.  Lots of unlearning, releasing, surrendering, letting go attachments that did me harm, facing my shadow full on.  This period in my life has not been easy, but it was necessary.  Cleansing by fire, allowing that which no longer serves me to be burned away.  I’ve traversed through it.  I am on the other side.

In tandem with doing my own work, I’ve also picked up a few new skill sets along the way.  I am now certified in Reiki, a 200 Hr Yoga Teacher and a LENS Neurofeedback provider.  All of these services help fill in the gap of mind/body that I knew traditional Western psychological medicine had ignored from my own mental health journey. 

The path was not near as straight as I had anticipated it to be (turns out neither am I lol).  And yet, everything is as it is supposed to be.  I love my coaching work with clients.  My people are some of the most amazing, talented, creative, beautiful spirits I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, and I get the joy of spending an hour a week helping them to strategize showing up as their best self.   Like me, they often possess spirits of unending potential that somehow along the way, they were taught to self extinguish. 

While DBT has stayed at the heart of my work with clients, over the years my clinical understanding of the crux of my clients difficulties has evolved.  I initially focused on working with clients diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.  With the publication of Bessel Van Der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score in 2014, the conceptualization of C-PTSD began to enter the general therapeutic lexicon.  I immediately felt trauma to be a much more compassionate lens for examining the struggles of my clients, especially with the lingering cultural bias (and misunderstanding) towards personality disorders. 

In 2021, the algorithm gods of TikTok introduced me to the #actuallyautistic and #latediagnosed communities.    Neurodivergence has always been part of my conceputal understanding of BPD.  Marsha Linehan states that BPD evolves over time from the interaction of an invalidating social environment AND a biological predisposition to high sensitivity.  I was trained to understand this along the lines of HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) or even those who identify as empaths. Occasionally we did discuss the intersection of ADHD and the biological aspect.   

The characteristics of biological sensitivity include:

-impulse control

-reactivity

-larger breadth of emotional experiencing

-sensitivity to stimuli (sound, touch, taste, texture)

All traits associated with neurodivergence.  Huge gender bias exists in the diagnoses of BPD.  Huge gender bias also exists in the psychiatric misdiagnosis of women who are on the spectrum.   I think there’s something there.

From my current level of understanding it is the intersection of neurodivergence and the chronic invalidation of a world that wants you to be one way, when you’re fundamentally wired another, that leads to a life of chronic emotion dysregulation.  DBT offers an algorithm of behaviors to help navigate the world more effectively.  It’s a valid tool that most neurodivergent individuals can adapt to use successfully – it’s straight forward, it makes sense, it offers visual decision trees.  

What I’ve realized though, the most effective aspect of my work in the past few years, is guiding clients to create a life that is effective for their true neurodivergent needs.   Identifying specific vulnerability spots and accommodating for themselves in ways that optimize ability to perform.  Figuring out how to make life decisions based on what will have the highest impact on quality of life instead of choosing what you believe you’re “supposed to do.”  It’s these shifts that can be truly life changing.  

It was my true acceptance of that in my own life, that allowed me to see it was time to drop my license when it was up for renewal this August.  I had spent years, trying to fit into that mold, but it didn’t fit my heart/soul.  I always felt uncomfortable in the title of therapist.  Inauthentic.  Not to mention, these last few years as the politics of my home state have radicalized, I’ve also seen the potential of how mental health licenses can be weaponized against women and trans individuals.  I want no part in that. 

Not going to lie – it took some shadow work to let go of the prestige of the title  AND it was the right decision for me.  I’ve always had a little bias about the title of coach even though it is what I have branded myself as for almost four years now.  I can acknowledge that, and am also aware of where it was deliberately introduced in my career.   

Titles don’t really matter though do they, they’re just made up concepts to maintain our hierarchal societal existence.  What I do know – I’m living a career of alignment.  My work with my clients allows me to be one who walks beside, to help navigate your path and get to places you actually desire.  I get to be a part of clients uncovering their greatest self that resides within.  That’s a pretty fucking cool gig if you ask me!  And it’s exactly the one I was put on this earth for.  

If you’re looking for someone to play this role in your life & my style resonates, please don’t hesitate to reach out.  I offer a free 30 minute video chat to see how we vibe.  Getting to connect with amazing souls, is one of the great payouts of this job.

As we go into 2023, I am looking at what the physical progression of my practice will look like.  While I have enjoyed the benefits of virtual practice for the past few years – I am ready to resume face to face services and hope to be in a place to offer that by Summer ’23! 

📷Enjoy the picture of baby therapist Jamie on her way to DBT Intensive Training in Middletown CT circa 2014.

#trauma #ptsd #recovery #cptsd # hypervigilance #mentalhealth #wellness #treatment #insomnia #anxiety #depression #healing #healingispossible #shadowwork #facethedarkness #psychology #counseling #dbt #dialectics #selfcare #bpd #nonjudgmental #compassion #kindness #ego #hope #lifeworthliving #thrive #evolve #phoenix #resurrection #rebirth #life #holistic #metamorphosis #transform #transformation #lettinggo #nonattachment #jamieschmidt #awakeshegoes #jamieschmidtlpc #goodvibes #growth #selflove #selftalk #appearance #hair #dreadlock #dreads #dreadhead #redhead #selfconcept #love #thisisme #takeitorleaveit #jour

Accumulate Positive (Short Term)

I realized this morning, that I’ve never shared any of my Youtube videos on here. This week my clients are learning about Accumulate Positives in the Short Term. This Emotion Regulation Skill is designed to help you increase resilience by creating intentional practices of self care that reboot your emotional batteries.

Also, I’m giving up my LPC license at the end of August (post to come shortly). So I’ve been busy working away at building a new website for my coaching services. Check out my updated offerings at DBT with Jamie. If you’re looking to learn the skills, I do have 2 current openings for individual clients and we will be resuming group the 2nd or 3rd week of August.

#trauma #ptsd #recovery #cptsd # hypervigilance #mentalhealth #wellness #treatment #insomnia #anxiety #depression #healing #healingispossible #shadowwork #facethedarkness #psychology #counseling #dbt #dialectics #selfcare #bpd #nonjudgmental #compassion #kindness #ego #hope #lifeworthliving #thrive #evolve #phoenix #resurrection #rebirth #life #holistic #metamorphosis #transform #transformation #lettinggo #nonattachment #jamieschmidt #awakeshegoes #jamieschmidtlpc #goodvibes #growth #selflove #selftalk #appearance #hair #dreadlock #dreads #dreadhead #redhead #selfconcept #love #thisisme #takeitorleaveit #jour

Abort SCOTUS (& Charge Barrett & Kavanaugh for Deception during their Confirmation Hearings)

Today is June 30, 2022. It has been a week since the announcement of the overturn of Roe vs Wade.

It has taken me an entire week get far enough into my processing to be able to express my feelings coherently.

I began writing about this topic last spring when SB 8 was passed in Texas. “My Breakup Letter to Texas” & “Fuck You Greg” are quite relevant today. #turntexasblue #Beto2022

My specialization in DBT and clinical emphasis on personality disorders have given me the opportunity to work with many adopted individuals over the years. My understanding of disorders of attachment and complex trauma makes my opinions on these matters grounded in scientific facts:


ADOPTION will NEVER be an EQUAL ALTERNATIVE to ABORTION.

Forcing women to act as incubators for 9 months against their will sets a child up for physiological disadvantages throughout life (fetal exposure to alcohol and narcotics, fetal malnourishment, improper medical care during pregnancy, etc..). Even babies that make it through gestation unharmed have exceptionally high odds of experiencing CPTSD. It’s the inevitable outcome of fucking with primary attachment.

I have been pre-grieving for weeks. Self care is necessary in times of spiritual attack, and I knew it was necessary to increase intentional investment in my own wellbeing. When the decision was initially leaked in May, I booked a ketamine booster session. Before my appointment, I cried alongside the doctor who owns the clinic. Two women who have dedicated our life to healing, devastated to find ourselves in a world with less rights than that we entered.

We knew it was coming.

AND the news was still completely DEVASTATING.

I happened to be on the way home from Restorative yoga when I saw the announcement. The well of emotions that flowed through me when only seconds, before I had been in such a beautiful peaceful state. Let’s just say that was a complete 180 for my nervous system.

I am angry, livid, enraged.

I am also full of grief.

At this time, though, I will continue to stoke the anger as my primary emotion. Sadness is an emotion of stillness. Anger is an emotion of action.

Anger will be the driving force behind this movement. We will push back against injustice and oppression. Our righteous feminine anger will fuel the dismantling of the systems of capitalistic oppression.

White supremacy, misogyny, patriarchy, colonialism – the ways of old are dying. Let our anger be the sword that beheads these dinosaurs. From our sacred anger can be born a renewal of earth and its peoples.

It is a sad, sad day to be an American woman. But we will not stay sad for long. Across the country the streets are filled with women. Listen to their words. There is power in our voice. There is power in our numbers.

For my ladies who are stateside, DO NOT FORGET – WE OUTNUMBER THEM. We have ever since the 1950’s. At least 51.1 percent of the population in 2022. What are we doing submitting our beautiful Goddess vessels to their insanity? NO MORE!! Justicia!!

In case it is not abundantly clear, I will not be celebrating July 4. Why would I as a woman?

For all my Texas women. I see you, I am here for you. I will always support your rights to bodily autonomy. They can enact unjust laws. We will not allow them to break our spirits. Healthcare is a human right. Do everything you can to protect your vessel in these times. Know there will always be resources, they may become harder to access. We will need our sisters in the upcoming months more than ever before.

Sending love, light & strength in these trying times,
Jamie

P.S. My LPC license is up for renewal in August and I will not be renewing. I have no interest in being an agent of a state that is actively at war with my gender. Nor will I be a mandated reporter of laws that target my community.

Just in case you need further convincing that things are broken in the US:
14 Sings of Fascism in Early Stages by Holocaust Museum

#trauma #ptsd #recovery #cptsd # hypervigilance #mentalhealth #wellness #treatment #insomnia #anxiety #depression #healing #healingispossible #shadowwork #facethedarkness #psychology #counseling #dbt #dialectics #selfcare #bpd #nonjudgmental #compassion #kindness #ego #hope #lifeworthliving #thrive #evolve #phoenix #resurrection #rebirth #life #holistic #metamorphosis #transform #transformation #lettinggo #nonattachment #jamieschmidt #awakeshegoes #jamieschmidtlpc #goodvibes #growth #selflove #selftalk #appearance #hair #dreadlock #dreads #dreadhead #redhead #selfconcept #love #thisisme #takeitorleaveit #jour

5 of Last Year’s Biggest Lessons (& how they’re changing my reality in 2022)

Last year was a tough year for me. Life brought me to my knees. I found myself in the depths of burnout I did not believe I was capable of falling into at this point in my journey. I naively though I had “skilled” & “healed” myself far enough along my journey, that I just wasn’t vulnerable to that level of badness anymore.

2021 sucked AND it was a catalyst for growth. It sucked AND it had some of the most truly beautiful, authentic, spiritual, soulful moments of my life. It sucked AND it made me a better person.

So tonight, I wanted to share 5 of the biggest shifts in my life (both internal/thoughts and external/behaviors) that I am taking with me moving forward:

  1. From Recycle – To Reuse: This first one is simple and practical. Recycling has always been super important to me. My mom trained me from early childhood to sort all the recycling, and we would actually drive the bin into town to my grandmothers each week because they had curbside service and it was not yet offered in our neighborhood. During last year’s snow storm, I watched a netflix documentary on the global impact of recycling. This sent me down a rabbit hole of research to understand the social inequalities in how and where the chemical processes of recycling occur and the large carbon footprint required in this “green” process.
    I’ve always been a thrifter and a fan of repurposing materials for art, design & fashion. However, this year I really focused on repurposing packaging – from plastic to-go containers, to tins & boxes (it’s amazing how many things actually come in quality boxes that can be beautifully repurposed), to finding a use for any glass bottle or jar.
    I know climate change needs to be addressed by the super corporations who’s business practices contribute the most to it. Yet, I still feel that by being better educated about the systems that are in place and my role as a consumer – I’ve made impactful behavior change.
  2. Boundaries: For the first time in my life 2021 required me to clearly define my own boundaries. I can acknowledge that while I was not always perfect at maintaining them, I made progress in that domain as well.
    The year began with a work situation that demonstrated a need to clearly define my boundaries within my new career. When I practiced as a therapist, the limits were clearly defined and rigid. One of the many reasons I chose to leave the healthcare industry is the black and white structure of the clinician/patient relationship has too many similarities to the power dynamic of abusive relationships my clients have already had to navigate their entire lives.
    Coaching allows for me to be more authentic and genuine with my clients. It’s not as rigid or closed off as therapy. This modality allows for my wise mind to guide our sessions and relationship. While I’m good with listening to my wise mind in the moment, I realized that I would need to create a basic structure for myself. These are the limits.
    Then I repeated that process in all sorts of relationships in my life – both my parents, my romantic partner, friends, former clients.
    Boundaries are hard. Especially for those of us in the CPTSD & ND zones. But my oh my is it worth it. I used mindfulness to observe anytime I left an interaction and came away feeling taken advantage of. Then I chose to handle myself differently the next time the situation arose. Even though it is still often uncomfortable for me to clearly state (or especially repeat) a boundary, the moment will pass. That is how change occurs. I have to change my side of the interaction, if I don’t like the way things are going.
  3. Accumulate Positives Wherever you Can – Accumulate positives in the short term is one of DBT’s skills for reducing vulnerability to emotion mind. The events of the past two years have been an ongoing crisis – a daily vulnerability factor that that has been placed on all of us. Since our risk factor is higher, we must be more deliberate about the skills we use for protection. Accumulate positives can be any small activity that brings you joy. You can also increase positives by choosing to shift your perspective. For example I hate sweeping the floor daily. When I engage in that behavior I can think of it as a repetitive task that I do not like or I can think of it as self care (putting in the necessary work to have an environment that is pleasing to my soul). Still requires the same amount of effort – but with a much more fulfilling cognitive process.
  4. Fuck Late Stage Capitalism – Next week is the year anniversary of the Texas freeze. My boyfriend at the time was employed by Daiken/Goodman – a Japanese company that operates the second largest manufacturing plant in the United States. For the entirety of the pandemic their floor workers (who makes an average of $13.50/hr) had mandatory 6 day weeks. The plant was shut down for 5 days during the freeze. Literally everyone I know, had some sort of water damage due to pipes bursting after extended periods of no electricity. These workers had no option to go to work, and received no pay because they’re hourly. Even though, they are essential workers who boosted this company to incredible growth and record profits in 2020 – there was zero assistance offered.
    We live in a world where Jeff Bezos can shoot himself into space in a penis rocket, while his average employee needs SNAP to eat. Fuck the corporations and a government that has continued to prioritize corporate profit over human suffering.
    The technology created in my lifetime, has created a period of abundance never before experienced by humanity. The fact that a few super elite have been able to prevent the majority of the population from reaching a higher quality of life in the past two decades is pathetic. The pandemic has allowed more and more of us to open our eyes to the true extent of un-fucking-necessary human exploration.
    I have no interest in returning to pre-pandemic life. Let the systems of oppression burn.
  5. Fuck Greg Abbott. You can check out some of my past posts about Texas abortion laws last summer, but just know I hate this man. I hate everything that he stands for.
    As a person who entered the pandemic strongly “apolitical,” I will be donating hundreds of hours of my time year to #betofortexas. The last two years have proven, I can no longer choose to not have a voice or not pay attention. Those of us under 40 have to start getting involved, we cannot continue to allow politicians who are disconnected from the realities of life to create policies that are detrimental to the PEOPLE.
    On a personal note I’d like tot say – Mr. Abbott you may be a reflection of the Texas I grew up in, but you are not representative of the future of our precious state. May you rot in the “hell” your faith warns of, for there are not many actions more evil than yours. Your legislation purposefully inflicts suffering on innocent women and children.
    #TURNTEXASBLUE

#trauma #ptsd #recovery #cptsd # hypervigilance #mentalhealth #wellness #treatment #insomnia #anxiety #depression #healing #healingispossible #shadowwork #facethedarkness #psychology #counseling #dbt #dialectics #selfcare #bpd #nonjudgmental #compassion #kindness #ego #hope #lifeworthliving #thrive #evolve #phoenix #resurrection #rebirth #life #holistic #metamorphosis #transform #transformation #lettinggo #nonattachment #jamieschmidt #awakeshegoes #jamieschmidtlpc #goodvibes #growth #selflove #selftalk #appearance #hair #dreadlock #dreads #dreadhead #redhead #selfconcept #love #thisisme #takeitorleaveit #jour

Resolutions Might be Crap. How About Yearly Intentions Instead?

I love the clean slate that comes with the new year. Usually during one of the earlier weeks of January, I teach my DBT group around the theme of resolutions.

One of our DBT Emotion Regulation skills is Accumlate Positives in the Long Term. The skill is from the reducing vulnerability to emotion mine sub-section of the module. It is all about tying long-term goals in to our values and using our values as guide post to help us stay on the path to behaviors that will help us actually reach those goals.

There are several steps to this process including: identifying the prompting value,clearly labeling and defining your goals, brainstorming & creating a list of necessary action steps, choosing an action step to begin with, and then avoiding avoiding and actually doing the behaviors of your life worth living. Plus evaluation and problem solving along the way.

In January of 2014 when I taught this class one of my favorite clients ever told me that resolutions were CRAP.

It wasn’t often that my prepared lesson plan landed so poorly, so that moment I stayed with me.

She was absolutely right. Truth is resolutions are crap. Today is January 17- if you started a typical New Year’s resolution to lose weight or quit smoking on January 1 you’ve likely given up on it by now.

No shame we just know the the average resolution doesn’t make it past the two week mark.

One of the reasons why many resolutions fail is the cognitive distortion of “should statements”. We set resolutions for the things we think we should do for the person we think we should be. But if we were really that invested, we’d be able to achieve those goals instead of giving up on him in such a short period of time.

And let’s be real usually those shoulds are more closely tied to someone else’s opinion over our own.

In recent years I’ve pivoted my approach. I do something more aligned with the practice picker up in the yoga studio. I ask each client to choose a value, a single word, a phrase or mantra that will be the guiding post for this year.

To act as their lighthouse (or drishti in yoga terms). A sturdy place in the chaos of modern life, to come back to and ground on the days when it feels like everything is spinning.

For myself this year the word is contentment. It presented itself to me in December. It is clear that it is the state I am supposed to focus my actions, thoughts and beliefs on this year.

Some of the themes that came up for members of my group – joy, buoyancy, to stay when the urge is to run, authenticity, deconstruction.

All Big concepts. All based in values and clear pictures of the desired presentation of self on 2022!

So while it may be too late to set a resolution, it’s never too late to set an intention.

Intention setting can be a yearly, monthly, weekly, daily, hourly, or even a minute by minute / second by second process. Our intentions ground us and guide us. They help us make deliberate choices in a reactive world.

What’s your guiding phrase for 2022?

If you’re looking to gain better control of your emotions and are interested in DBT Coaching check out my services at Jamie Schmidt LPC

Welcome 2022

Man oh man what a year 2021 was! I naively assumed at the conclusion of 2020, that the worst of the pandemic was behind us. No problem admitting I was WRONG there… The year began with a riot in our nation’s capital and ended with a surge in COVID unlike any we have yet to see in the past 21 months. Between those two wonderful bookends there has been a constant sprinkling of chaos, doom and despair.

In the middle of the global and national strife, my state made international headlines multiple times this past year. First for a complete failure of management of infrastructure (in a state that often brags about operating independent of the national grid). Then for enacting the most ridiculous abortion law in the history of our nation (which has now been upheld by the Supreme Court – thank you Amy Coney Barrett may you rot in Hell).

This time last year, I had hope that life would eventually return to normal.

I don’t feel that way anymore. In fact my perspective is completely different now. I hope at the conclusion of all this suffering, there is a reckoning for all of the institutions of power that have benefitted while average human beings have suffered.

We live in a time of amazing technology and abundance. Humanity has the ability for the first time in history to make sure every single being has access to the necessities of survival. What a different world we could create!! If every human being was guaranteed their physiological and safety needs met, we could all be much closer to actualization.

Imagine what could have been achieved if during the course of the past 30 years, technology had been implemented for the evolution of humanity instead of lining the pockets of the pre-existing elites.

I have often said with every passing year of my life the national distribution of wealth looks closer to feudal Europe. The past 21 months have accelerated that exponentially. We deserve better than the crumbs we have been given.

So here’s to 2022. Enough is enough. I hope this year is humanity’s marvelous phoenix moment.