Different from the Other Kids

A Book of Interviews for Parents of Challenging Children

My Turning Point — February 6, 2017

My Turning Point

The Different from the Other Kids team would like to welcome back Christina Tsounis, a 23-year-old living with a Bipolar diagnosis. Through her own words, Christina explains how powerful labels can be and how over-labelling can be harmful to one’s health and recovery.

By: Christina Tsounis

At six years old I was diagnosed and medicated for OCD, anxiety, depression and Tourettes syndrome. By the time I was seventeen, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. However, in the last year, I have had a complete 180 turn in my life. I went from the “sick girl” to the “I can do anything girl”. I keep getting asked how I have been able to turn my bipolar symptoms around. As I reflect back, I realize one of the biggest things it comes down to, is what I become what I believe. Let me explain…

Limiting Beliefs

As a child, I remember always being told something was wrong with me. I was told I was sick, and that I had to take pills to be healthy. What was my mother supposed to do when I was a suicidal six-year-old? My point is that from that age I believed I was mentally ill. I used to believe my diagnosis was a curse. I used Bipolar as my identity. Everything I did reflected me being sick. All my actions reflected the fact that I was bipolar because I believed it.

I remember that I would get into emotional states and feel trapped. Everyone used to say, “Christina, you’re overreacting”. Drama queen was my nickname. I grew up believing that when I would feel emotional, it wasn’t normal to feel like that and I was overdramatic. I had no idea how to control those emotions, and then I wasn’t allowed to feel them.

Turning Point

As I got older, the belief that I was sick got stronger.  All I heard from every doctor and therapist was “Christina you are bipolar. This is going to be the rest of your life. You’re going to have to try and manage. With the right medication, you may be able to have an okay one.” What does that do to a young person’s perception? Nothing good!

About a year ago, I had a turning point. I had been working with a spiritual healer and taught me a lot about meditation and being still. I called her one day hysterically crying. I told her that I was just feeling everything too intensely. She calmly said, “So what, you’re allowed to feel like that Christina.” I stopped crying almost immediately. For the first time in my life, someone had told me I was allowed to feel. I was allowed to be hysterical. She gave me permission to feel emotions. She never saw bipolar in me – she only saw Christina. I can never thank her enough for that day. She showed me nothing was wrong with me.  It’s an illness, not an excuse and not who I am.

Having bipolar doesn’t mean your crazy. When someone has cancer, society doesn’t tell them something is wrong with them. We are all trapped in the idea that mental illness is a life sentence and that you are “loony” if you have one. I believe that just like cancer, mental illness can go into remission. I used to wake up every day bipolar – now I wake up just being Christina. I know this illness lays within me and I know its something I deal with, but it’s just a small part of me.

I also know I am in control of my destiny. The very thing I thought was going to destroy me, gave me life. My illness gave me a purpose and gave me understanding. I know when you’re in it, the feeling can be almost impossible to see out of… But I promise you, you can be healthy. Your life will reflect that back to you.

Want to know more? Check out Christina’s episodes from Different from the Other Kids: Natural Alternatives Edition… Here is Part One, Part Two and Part Three of Christina’s second set of interviews on the podcast. You can also find Christina’s bio here.

Five Things in my Toolbox — February 1, 2017

Five Things in my Toolbox

This week the Different from the Other Kids team would like to welcome frequent podcast guest and Angela’s daughter, Christina Tsounis. If you listen to our weekly podcast, you might remember Christina from both season one and two. Here’s a note from Christina regarding some of the tools she uses in her daily wellness routine…

By: Christina Tsounis

I started medication at the age of six for anxiety, depression and OCD, and I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 17. After searching for answers, following many bouts of depression and hopelessness, I decided to escape the emotional jail built for me. About eighteen months ago, I did a complete 180. Below are a few things from my “toolbox” that have helped me live a life I never thought possible. I spent all those years looking for someone or something to save me, all I needed was to look within myself.

1. Intuitive Movement

Doing some sort of gentle movement with deep breathing is essential for me. Yoga or Thai chi are some great examples. Vigorous exercise works well too, but I find doing slow controlled movements creates a stillness in mind and my body. Taking care of your body is the first step into taking care of your mental well-being.

2. Meditation

Everyone should practice meditation even if it’s just several minutes a few times a week.  By meditating daily I am able to give my mind a break. I still find it hard to focus during the meditation, that is ok. Even if I can only get to that place of stillness for one second of the whole meditation, my brain still experienced that one moment of being quiet. The more I practice it the more my thoughts slow down.

3. Essential Oils

Essential oils have been one of the biggest factors that have helped me go from sick to well. I only use Pure Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils because I ingest them for medicinal purposes. The most important oil for me is Frankincense which acts as a natural chemical to help balance my moods. A close second is lavender. I frequently roll lavender oil over my heart, behind my ears and under my nose to help soothe me whenever I get into an anxious situation. It works magic. It’s crazy that something natural can change my state so quickly. There’s an oil for everything!

4. Mindfulness

Something so small like stopping for a moment to take a deep breath can change our moods. As an example, when I have my cup of coffee in the morning, I stop and take a sip and say out loud, “I am grateful for that delicious coffee”. When I am stopped at a traffic light, I will look up at the sky and take a deep breath and just acknowledge how beautiful the sky is. Those tiny moments are where I feel grateful to be alive. The more I put them into practice the more my attitude changes. When I focus on being grateful, I feel grateful.

5. Affirmations

Affirm yourself every day. At the end of the day, I used to lay in bed and analyze everything I did that day and tear myself apart for it. I would criticize and beat myself all the imagined missteps I did that day (as I’m sure a lot of you understand). This was where affirmations changed my life. When I find myself in a negative headspace I place my hand on my chest and say, “I love you,” and, “You are enough”. It sounds silly and so simple, but the effects are incredible. If my best friend were getting verbally beat up, I would comfort them. I had to stop judging myself and to learn to comfort myself.

Final Thoughts

I want to mention: what works for me might not work for you. Whatever you decide to try, if it doesn’t work the first time, please don’t give up. I tried all of the above things once or twice and they didn’t work so I believed that they wouldn’t help me. It wasn’t until I committed to not letting this be my story that things changed. It’s not just one thing that is going to fix everything, it’s about creating a tool box that is loaded with tools you can pull out whenever you need them. Find what makes you feel good and just keep doing it. With some faith and some hard work your “life sentence” can become your biggest opportunity.

Want to know more? Check out Christina’s episodes from Different from the Other Kids: Natural Alternatives Edition… Here is Part One, Part Two and Part Three of Christina’s second set of interviews on the podcast. You can also find Christina’s bio here.

#BonusPodcast with Christine — June 29, 2016

#BonusPodcast with Christine

Different from the Other Kids : Natural Alternatives Edition sprang from Angela’s best friend Christine witness her father’s journey from near-death to living and enjoying life again! Walter, Christine’s father, was diagnosed with cancer for a second time and turned to infusion therapy as a last-ditch effort… Walter managed to outlive his diagnosis from having just two months to live, to surviving to his next (almost two now) birthday with optimal health. This story is one that had shown Angela that the natural path is one worth considering. Listen on iTunes or GooglePlay!

Welcome Grace, #publicspeaker & #author — June 17, 2016

Welcome Grace, #publicspeaker & #author

Grace Kohn joins Angela this week on Different from the Other Kids : Natural Alternatives Edition, who is a public speaker and author. Grace is the mother of Julianne, who has autism spectrum disorder. Grace talks about her past and how she has spent her life caring for Julianne. It’s an amazing tale of hope and courage, one that everyone should hear. Check it out and let us know what you think, click here to find a list of platforms you can listen to our weekly podcast on!

Welcome back Rosa, #energyhealer — June 6, 2016

Welcome back Rosa, #energyhealer

This week Angela welcomes back Rosa, who you might remember from last week! Angela and Rosa talk more about how important the mind-body-spirit connection is to overall health, and how it can help everyone live a more balanced and grounded life. Listen to this week’s episode for some great information and really sound advice about the importance of being mindful and grounded. Listen on iTunes or GooglePlay!

New #podcast #episode with guest Rosa — May 30, 2016

New #podcast #episode with guest Rosa

Hello everyone! This week, Angela interviews on Rosa, owner of Rise Mind Body Fitness, on this week’s episode of Different from the Other Kids. Rosa is a physical, mental and spiritual healer. Rosa combines a combination of physical therapy and mindfulness in order to facilitate healing, personal growth and transformation.

Listen to the interview between Angela and Rosa to get a better idea of what Rosa does and how she does it. Rosa’s has a very interesting perspective on health, wellness and living, and her message can benefit anyone. Listen and let us know what you think! Listen on iTunes or GooglePlay!