Doll Therapy for Depression, Grief, and Alzheimer’s?


So, as I said the other day, right now I am in a doll phase, specifically reborn dolls, which are dolls that are made to look and feel more like real infants. While I’ve been surfing the internet reading about these dolls and looking at pics of the ones available, I have also come across several articles about using these dolls as legitimate therapy, which is something I hadn’t even considered.

One article was about reborn dolls being used as therapy with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. In certain nursing homes they have done studies where they used these life-like dolls to treat anxiety and depression in patients and found that the dolls greatly helped with both of those problems, even making it so that many of the patients no longer needed psychotropic medications.

Interestingly, the article said the therapy works the best if the patient is introduced to the doll while they are still coherent enough to know the doll is not real. I found that rather fascinating. For many of these patients, over time they become truly attached to the dolls and do often start to think they are real babies, but that is understandable given their medical condition.

Another article I read spoke about the therapeutic effect these dolls have had for some parents who have lost small children of their own or who had stillbirths/miscarriages. Some of these grief-stricken parents have even had dolls made to look exactly like the child they lost, which strikes me as truly sad, but if it helps them work through their grief, I think that is a good thing. I do wonder though if some of them may actually end up obsessing over the loss to an unhealthy extent, but to tell the truth, I’m not sure the loss of a child is something you could ever truly get over anyhow.

What do you think about these dolls being used as therapy? Does it seem creepy or weird to you? Or do you think it is a great idea?


Hallucinations in Childhood


Something I’ve been thinking about recently is hallucinations. As an adult, I haven’t really had a history of hallucinations. The closest things I can think of are a few times I have been awoken from my sleep by my husband or my mother’s voice loudly calling my name, only to find they are either not even at home or they swear they didn’t call for me. It is easy to assume this might be just weird remnants of a dream though, so I don’t consider it definitely a hallucination. There have also been a few times I hear a weird, high-pitched whining noise that no one else seems to hear. This could just be my autistic sensitivity though, picking up on something others don’t. It isn’t tinnitus, I have that as well, so I know the difference.

However, as a child I do have at least one vivid memory of a hallucination, maybe two. The first happened when I was around 5 or so, and it happened in the middle of a church service at my grandfather’s house (he was a pastor that ran his own church). In the middle of the service, this huge bird suddenly appeared next to my grandfather as he talked. It was a beautiful, rainbow colored bird, and I could physically see it, so it wasn’t like an imaginary friend (which I also had). I was excited by its appearance and made a bit of a fuss trying to tell my mom about it, but it became clear soon that she couldn’t see it and apparently no one else did either. I got in trouble for yelling out, so ended up sitting there staring at this huge bird and wondering what the heck was going on and why no one else could see it. To this day, I have no idea what happened that day or why. I wish I remembered what was going on in my life at the time, to see if I was under acute stress at the time, but I really don’t know.

The other possible hallucination happened when I was 12. It was soon after my father died and I was having the worst panic attack of my life up until that point. I was sitting on the bed, trying to breathe, feeling terrified and alone, when suddenly a bright figure appeared at the end of the bed. At first I was terrified, but the being told me not to be afraid and I immediately felt a calm I had never felt before in my life. The panic attack was gone and the bright figure somehow communicated to me that I was safe and protected before leaving. I assumed at the time it was my guardian angel, but now that I am no longer religious and not sure what I believe in, I wonder if it could have possibly been a hallucination brought on by grief and terror. I honestly don’t know. I certainly wouldn’t mind having a guardian angel, but if I do, why didn’t they protect me or show up during even more dangerous moments of my life, moments when my life was actually in danger?

These two experiences as a child makes me wonder if they were hallucinations, and if they were, is it normal for children to have hallucinations and then grow out of them? Or is this just a warning that if I am pushed too far emotionally or mentally, that something may break inside me and I could lose touch with reality? Could I someday have another hallucination out of nowhere? That is a scary thought. Has anyone else out there also had experiences like this as a kid and apparently grown out of them?

*Art by Maranda Russell

My Dead Sister’s Birthday

Today would have been my sister’s 41st birthday if she hadn’t committed suicide back when she was 35. It is really weird now because I am 35, so I am the exact same age she was when she died. For the first time ever, I will soon be older than my sister ever was. I won’t be the younger sister anymore…or at least that is how it feels.

Last night I didn’t sleep well at all, I had nightmare after nightmare after nightmare. None of them were specifically about my sister, but I can’t help but wonder if subconsciously the feelings I have about her birthday rolling around might not have affected my state of mind. Honestly, I didn’t even think about it being her birthday until a few minutes ago when I looked at the date on my computer clock and it hit me. Of course, this time of year I often think about her, but I am not good at keeping track of days. When you don’t work outside the home, it is easy to forget what day it is.

I’m sorry if this entry is a bit of a ramble, but I have so many mixed emotions and still so much pain about it all that it might not come out as orderly as my normal posts. Days like this really get to me, even if I don’t consciously think about them. It is like a lurking shadow hanging over the entire week or month. I’m sad today and now I’ve remembered why.

Suicide Isn’t My Biggest Fear

Recently I had kind of a weird realization. If you follow my blog closely, you probably know that I have written posts about how I fear I would be driven to suicide if I lost my husband, mainly because I fear I wouldn’t be able to support myself with all my health problems, and if I lost him I feel like I would lose 90% of my support system.

The other day though I realized something that rather shocked me at first, even though it may not seem such a big thing to others. And that realization was that my real fear isn’t that I WILL commit suicide if I were alone, it is my fear that I WON’T. Maybe that sounds crazy on the surface, but let me explain further. If my husband were to die, that would leave me utterly alone, and I honestly do not believe I could continue to live this life all by myself. If I found myself in that situation, I would have to either A) Give up and commit suicide or B) Find others to trust and rely on.

Option A isn’t my real fear, it is option B. I am terrified of trusting others and letting others in. I don’t trust my ability to choose people who will not take advantage of me or end up abusing me. I feel it is almost a kind of luck that I avoided marrying an abuser in the first place. Most people who grow up like I did, in horrific abuse scenarios (physical, sexual, emotional, or mental) tend to end up surrounding themselves with people who perpetuate the cycle of abuse. I also fear that if any of my past abusers are still around, if I found myself all alone, I would be so weak that I would turn to them. Which horrifies me more than anything. It took me a long time to get free from it all (and I’m still not 100% there), but the thought of returning to hell is far more frightening than the thought of death.

However, deep down I doubt my ability to actually take my own life. I do have a strong survival instinct and an immense amount of anxiety when it comes to any form of danger. Perhaps that is why I always told myself that if I did commit suicide, it would have to be a form that is instant and leaves no chance for reconsideration, because I know if I gave myself time to rethink it I would freak out and seek help.

So, with this odd realization, what is the point of it all? I guess it is some reassurance that maybe I am stronger and more resilient than I always told myself. But more importantly, I need to work on my fear of opening up to and trusting others. It is funny that here on this blog I can be so open and bluntly honest, but in interpersonal relationships I tend to build walls and push people away before they can get too close. Somehow I need to learn to trust myself to be a good enough judge of character to give people a chance. But I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know how to trust myself, let alone others.

Matchbox 20 “Unwell” – Lyrics of My Life

If I had to choose a song to represent how I honestly feel about myself and my life most of the time these days, this song would definitely be near the top. It isn’t actually even my favorite Matchbox 20 song (which would be hard to narrow down anyhow, but would likely be something off their first or second album), but the lyrics hit home in a way that not a lot of songs do. I don’t hear voices (other than my own endlessly chattering inner monologues), but at this point, I wouldn’t be all that surprised if someday I started lol.

I think the saddest line in this entire song is “But soon enough, you’re gonna think of me and how I used to be…”, which also happens to be the line that hits home for me the hardest. A few years ago, this wasn’t me. Back then I had repressed so much that I was able to function at least, but when my sister committed suicide, it was like the floodgates opened and all the repressed memories came flooding in at the same time that all of my carefully crafted defenses came crashing down. My mental and physical health took a nosedive and has been sinking further and floundering since. Sometimes I’m almost angry at my sister for killing herself and thereby forcing me to face what I had always ran away from or purposefully pushed aside.

New Year’s Goal – Fear and Appreciation


I’m not going to call it a resolution, but I do have a goal for the coming year that I hope to work on, and somewhat it was inspired by my last visit with my psychiatrist. You see, I spend far too much time worrying about what would happen if my husband were to pass away. I have very good reasons for worrying about it (fear of homelessness being top), but it has almost overtaken my brain in many ways, probably partly due to OCD and partly just because it is my deepest fear.

Due to this fear, I feel like I have not even been enjoying the time I do have with my husband. I live in such fear of something happening to him and being left alone, that I almost live as if he is already gone sometimes, and that needs to stop. From now on, to the best of my ability, when those horrifying thoughts intrude of something happening to him, I will try my best to redirect my thoughts to thankfulness for having him in my life and for the good things we share right now. I know that won’t stop the fear from coming and it will probably be something I always struggle with, but if consciously choosing to appreciate him now means that we grow closer and both of us feel better, why in the world wouldn’t I try to do that?

– Art by Maranda Russell

Suicidal Ideations


*Note: I wrote this a while back and am not currently feeling suicidal, but I thought it might be interesting to share this poem as it does illustrate a real mental struggle I have dealt with on and off for many years.

Suicidal Ideations

If I only had a dollar
for every time
I have looked down
from a great height,
shook a full bottle of pills,
held my breath under water,
or inhaled exhaust fumes
while thinking

I could actually do it,
I could end it all –

I would have more
than enough
to pay for all the
therapy sessions
I obviously need.