She Says, He Says and Nightmares

She Says, He Says

Yesterday, I talked about how I found it hard to write a letter to my “innocent” child self…So hard that I was unable to do it. I also have a bit of an issue with the concept  that there was actually an “innocent” child self before having trauma et al.

The only way I have been able to deal with all the bad things that happened to me as a child, is that I have built a belief that I was somehow intrinsically bad/tainted/wrong from the very beginning…That I actually deserved to be ignored by my parents and emotionally abandoned by them (while they favored and gave significant attention to my sibling) that I deserved to be sexually abused, that everything bad in my life has been my fault.  When I think of it that way, then it all doesn’t seem so unfair and it hurts less (well…except for believing I’m tainted…that’s kind of hard to deal with too.) I’ve held this belief for decades…Perhaps even stubbornly held the belief as it has been a lifeline for my coping skills.

But…the Art Therapist doesn’t see it that way.  And he is challenging my very fragile house of cards.  And I think he might be right…But I just can’t shift my thought process.  I think if I try to, I might emotionally implode. And if I can’t shift my thought process without emotionally imploding then I certainly can’t write a letter to my “innocent” child self (Yes….I will be stuck on the Art Therapy Fail for a while.)

I guess this is something I will have to hash out more with the Art Therapist, but I need to wait two weeks before I do it.  He is going on vacation next week and I don’t feel like stirring up big things before he goes.

Nightmares

Of course, I think things are already a bit stirred up as last night I had a nightmare.  I used to have nightmares all the time but that has gotten much better over the past 3 years or so.  I actually used to very vividly remember all the dreams I had, until I started taking Fetzima (an SNRI).  For some reason, for me, a side effect of Fetzima is that I don’t remember my dreams…I can sometimes grasp little wisps of them, but usually even the wisps vaporize before I can catch them.  But last night, I woke up with my heart pounding from a pretty vivid nightmare.  The short version of the dream, was that I was trying to help a man  into my house, but he couldn’t get in (he had crutches and I had stairs) and he was frustrated.  I waved him down the driveway to come in the back door and as he made his way down the driveway, these GIANT black dump trucks came down the driveway to dump gravel.  As the man approached, the dump truck raised it’s bed and in so doing crushed the man…I heard him screaming and then he was silent.  And that’s when I woke up.

Interesting….Trying to let a man in, having barriers, then when he gets to close, he gets crushed….On the heels of the first part of my post, it almost seems like a trust kind of dream about the Art Therapist.  I will have to share that with him next time I see him.

Mission Impossible is on Netflix and Art Therapy Fail

Mission Impossible is on Netflix

I will start on a light note….The Art Therapist gave me a challenging task this morning (more on that to follow) and I was balking.  He started to say something and then said to me, “You are too young to have watched Mission Impossible.”  The poor man…hasn’t he  ever heard of Netflix? :-p

And yes, my family and I are MI fans and watch it a few times a week and have been doing so for months!

Art Therapy Fail

And now down to the nitty gritty.  My mission, though I chose not to accept it, was to write a letter from the me-who-has-had-trauma to the innocent-child-me before the trauma occurred.  What would she say to the innocent child?  And I couldn’t do it.  As a matter of fact, when he handed me a pad of lined paper and a pen, I already knew what he was going to ask me to do before he said it, and I was already shaking my head “no.”

I call this an Art Therapy Fail because I have really worked hard to do everything that the AT asks me to do.  I figure, he knows what he is doing and he knows how to challenge me and even if I don’t like a request or directive (that’s the AT term for a prompt for drawing/painting/creating) I will do it.  I’ve even said it to him…that I don’t like a particular directive but that I will still do it.

But today, I failed.  I just couldn’t do it.  I did consider doing it and I could feel all the hurt and sadness and then tears coming to my eyes….and I just couldn’t do it.  Besides, what would I write to the little girl? That her life was going to suck? That people that were supposed to love and care about her would fail her? That she would be confused and afraid and lonely? That very bad things would happen to her? That she would end up hating herself?*  What would the point of that be?  So, I didn’t do it.

Then I was worried about what the AT would think about me flatly refusing to do something (My inner People-Pleaser was horrified that I said no).  I asked him if I got demerits for refusing….But he said that I always have a choice and that there aren’t demerits.  (Except perhaps the demerit I will give myself.)  He did ask my why I wouldn’t do it and I told him I was afraid, but I did not elaborate.

He did get something out of me though…He asked me to draw Afraid.  And so I did.

*Remember those clay figures from a week or so ago?  I finished my project with them.  It is pretty much about the rage I feel towards myself and how much I hate myself.

Rage

Work

I am attempting to work extra hours this week….My depression/anxiety has prevented me from being able to work full-time for the past 4-5 months.  It is, of course, challenging on the budget to be working so little, but so far, we are making it work.  I actually had to quit my last job because of my depression.  I had started a new job, and though it wasn’t the greatest fit for me, it was probably work-able.  Except that my depression kicked in and my anxiety sky-rocketed.  Every day was a struggle to get to work, and then I started to have to take lorazepam to quell the anxiety so that I could manage my feelings/anxiety while at work.  After a couple weeks of that, I decided to quit, I just couldn’t manage it all and I was miserable. Luckily, dh is very supportive of me, so when he saw how miserable I was, he was okay with me quitting.

Since I quit that job, I have been picking up on-call hours at another place.  It hasn’t been a lot of hours (6-11 hours/week depending on the week) and on the weeks with the really scant hours, we have been dipping into our meager savings to get by.  But so far, it has been okay.  I think work is actually good for me as I like what I do, I am good at it and I feel  better about myself when I am contributing financially to the family.  It also gives me a chance to get out of my head and feel almost like a normal person.  However, given the emotional demands of my job, it is a really delicate balance, and if I am in a really bad head-space work is exhausting because I have to pretend that I am okay and that takes so much energy!

Recently, a temporary opportunity came up for me to pick up more hours at work, I really struggled deciding if I should try it or not…but after talking with dh and the Art Therapist, I will give it a go.  This week will be my first week trying it.  I am actually very nervous as I can’t tolerate a mood backslide right now.  But, the only way to figure out if it will work is to try.  At least, I had the sense to not jump in and pick up full-time hours…But I will be there 4 days this week averaging 5ish hours each day.

A Better Morning

peaceful

Yesterday was not as bad as I was thinking it would be.  I was able to pull myself together, get to work, be genuine with my work and even socialize with my co-workers.  That said, I was still pretty much beyond exhausted by the end of the day.  However, for the first time in a couple of weeks, I was able to fall asleep at bedtime and then I slept like a rock.

Mornings like yesterday make me question my stubbornness about medication.  If I did take the Lamictal, would I have had such a hard time?  It is supposed to be a mood stabilizer…Would it help me be more on an even keel?  One of the things that frustrates me about my depression is that my mood fluctuates and I find that tiring.  And it never fluctuates to a point where I feel really great.  But even when I am feeling better (within my depression continuum) then I am just waiting for it to drop because the feeling better never lasts very long.

Something that I have noticed lately and that is starting to concern me a bit is that I feel like when my mood drops, it seems to drop lower than where it was before.  It’s kind of like the opposite of weight rebound after a diet…You know, when you gain back all the weight you lost plus a handful of extra pounds, just for good measure.  Only, with my mood, the mood drops down to the previous low and then dips even lower, just for good measure.

However, I am remaining steadfast in my no-new-med stubbornness.  I’ll have to wait and see how far that takes me.

And lastly for today’s post…The picture at the top of the post is one I took this morning while we were on our walk.  It just seemed so peaceful to me…I wanted to take a picture to try capture that tranquil feeling.  Ironically, yesterday, I tried to take some pictures…but even my pictures came out dark and bleak and were not comforting at all.

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I like today’s picture better.

Crushing

And some days are just bad days.  Not that I should write today off completely, since it is only 5:45 in the morning…..But there are days when I just feel crushed by the bleakness of my depression.  I got up this morning and took the dogs out on our usual walk.  I like the early morning, it is peaceful, the birds are singing, the air is crisp and still.  Only, this morning, I wasn’t feeling any of it.  All I could feel was the crushing grip that my depression has on me.

When I feel like this, I feel sad and hollow and full of  pain.  In a way, I feel dead inside, but I imagine that dead people actually feel less pain, so saying I feel dead inside is probably not an apt description.  Maybe, what is dead inside is the regular me….Just too far lost in the darkness to have any of her find her way out right now.

I also feel exhausted.  I could just crawl back into bed and sleep forever.  This is not a feeling that I cater to…I have never been one to stay in bed all day because of my depression (not that I don’t find the idea totally appealing!) because I know that it would be a really bad idea.  I don’t need to add to my problems by ceasing to function.

And lastly, I just feel sad. I could just burst into tears at any moment.  My heart feels heavy and wrapped with cold fingers of despair.

For better or for worse, I have to work today.  Hopefully, I can just push the mood aside and fall into my work role and get some relief from the crush.  Even if I can’t, I have to fake it and try to keep as far away from the depression as possible.  I am really good at faking it, but it is exhausting to keep up the facade.

Ugh.  I just wish I could have a mood re-do for today.

A Small Success and Lamictal

A Small Success

This has not been a banner week for me mood-wise.  After my Thursday AT session last week, I just had a really hard time pulling myself back together.  Usually, I can get myself into a manageable state…a place that isn’t great, but at least I can live with it…but last weekend, I couldn’t.  I felt all jumbled and irritable and agitated and just couldn’t get it together.

Now, I often get all jumbled and irritated because of my depression, but the agitation is not as frequent a feeling. And I get very worried when I feel the agitation, because I tend to make choices that are not the best.  And if I am in a despondent frame of mind as well as agitated…well, that gets pretty ugly and I get to a point where my thoughts get really, really dark and actually scare me.  Luckily, the despondent/agitated combo happens very, very rarely…And last time it happened, I worked very hard to make sure I was safe (That particular combo is when I think if I was in a suicidal frame of mind, I might actually hurt myself.)

Last weekend, I was not in the despondent mood, just my standard depression mood…So, I wasn’t thinking of killing myself.  And, I actually had the sense to do something about it (besides taking lorazepam to calm myself down).  First thing Monday morning, I contacted the Art Therapist and explained that I was having trouble self-regulating and asked for an appointment.  He fit me in that afternoon….And meeting with him did help me feel better….I woke up Tuesday feeling significantly less agitated, though my mood still sucked.  Like I said, not a banner week for my mood.

But the thing worth noting about all of this is that I called him and asked for an extra appointment.  I am terrible at asking for help.  Usually, I just ride out whatever misery I am feeling until the next scheduled appointment, no matter how awful I feel or how badly it is impacting my day to day functioning.  But, this time, I knew I needed some extra support and reached out for help and in doing so  I also realized that I trust the Art Therapist enough to know that he would respond to my request.  For me, having that understanding of trust is a big deal!

Lamictal

In other depression related news…I met with my Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and she wants me to try a new med, Lamictal.  Actually, she’s been wanting me to try a new med for a while, but I am stubborn and keep refusing.  But on the heels of the bad weekend, the prospect of a new medication improving my mood is soo tempting.  Except that I don’t like to take meds.  But I want to feel better. But I don’t like med side-effects. But I want to feel better. But I don’t want to take meds.  So, I hedged my bets.  I let her prescribe me the Lamictal, but I didn’t commit to starting the medication.

I wish I knew the right thing to do.

Angst Paint

Discussing our plans for the day.  I tell dh, “I need to stop by a craft store to get some acrylic paint. I am out of my angsty colors.”

Later…

New paint in the popular angst colors of black and red.

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This is actually a relief to me as I have an idea for an AT project (ignoring the current homework assignment I have) and really needed my angst paint for it.  I started the project this morning by creating these little clay figure that represent me.

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Social Anxiety and Drinking

I had a work party to go to the other night.  This was challenging on it’s own as I am very self-conscious and anxious in social situations.  (Finally, got a screen for social anxiety a couple visits ago with my Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner on which I scored positive…I do believe social anxiety got officially added to my diagnosis list.)  But, I like my co-workers, and though I skip most of the get togethers, this was one that was hosted near me and I have been to the person’s house before….So, my safety zone was set up and I thought I could handle it.

I did okay for the first half hour….Caught up with folks, listened to work stories, and people-watched as the alcohol was consumed.  My co-workers know how to drink it down!  This is actually one of the reasons I avoid these work parties….I get very, very uncomfortable as people get more and more buzzed.  And last night, they were buzzing!  Beer and wine were just flowing like a river.  People were flushed, and loud and talking a mile a minute, and disinhibition was kicking in, not that people were out of control, they just were not themselves as I usually know them.  I tried retreating to a smaller group outside, but they were talking about beer and some kind of race where you chug beer, run a quarter mile, chug more beer, run a quarter mile…Not exactly the conversation I needed to feel better about the party.  And I could feel my anxiety ramping.  I tried going back inside…but at that point, I just felt pretty anxious and alienated, so I said my good byes and got the heck out of there.

I don’t know why being in groups of people who have over-imbibed is such a trigger for me, but it just feels so unsafe.  And like I said, I actually know these people and like them, so it’s not like I was actually in any danger…I guess it’s just one of my quirks.

Delayed Post/Current Post

So, I guess am working on committing myself to the blog again.  Really, I just need a place to write….and get stuff out of my head.  I last posted in May and I actually wrote a post the next day, but never got it finished and thus never published it, I did save it though, and here it is, still not the full post that I was going to write, but at least it is something.

Delayed Post

May 21

One of the reasons I was interested in Art Therapy was because it played a bit to some of my strengths and interests in terms of expressing myself through art, being a hands-on kind of person and my willingness to think outside of the box.  Plus, like I said yesterday, I have been-there-done-that with Talk Therapy, so I was ready for something different.

My official take on Art Therapy so far is that it is really hard.  Unfortunately, it is really hard to quantify what makes it hard.  Part of it (maybe lots of it right now) is that I feel waaaay outside my comfort zone.  And as I am pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, I am aware that I am doing so with someone that I barely know and am really struggling to allow myself to trust.  Part of it is also that I have no real sense of how Art Therapy will help me heal myself.  I have talked to the Art Therapist about this a couple of times, and he gives me good explanations…But it’s just so hard for me….I keep thinking to myself, “Leap of faith…Just gotta make this leap of faith.”  And so I keep on going and keep on trying…and that elastic keeps on stretching….and stretching….

Today, the topic of Art Therapy was a homework assignment I had which was to make a map of how to get to get to my therapy goals.  The first day of therapy, I listed goals for therapy which included big things like being not depressed, being happy, being able to keep a full-time job without being majorly depressed and then other things like increasing my self-esteem, developing a positive body image, becoming more active socially, etc., etc.

So, I made a large painting with a spot where I am now and then a sun on the opposite side as to where my goals are.  The problem is, I just can’t see how to get to my goals right now.  I ended up filling in the paper with black paint…and it kind of turned into a dark, dismal picture.  Which of course, reflects how I feel now.

Current Post for Today

The past few art therapy sessions (at least prior to today) have felt pretty good to me….It’s still hard work, but I think maybe the Art Therapist has gone up a couple of notches on my trust-ometer…which is a relief to me….I appreciate not having to expend as much energy on my wariness.  I don’t quite know what made the difference, although he did move to a different office within the practice and I find the office safer feeling and more welcoming, and after the move was when i starting feeling a bit better with him….Maybe that was part of it.  Or maybe it’s just me acclimating to him.  Or….I dunno…could be anything, I suppose.

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But I am feeling stuck in AT right now which made me feel a bit testy today when I went, and testy is not a particularly productive space for me. Of course, I did not actually mention to the Art Therapist that I was feeling testy as it likely would have caused him to ask me pesky questions about it (questions are pesky when I am feeling testy).  Plus my stuckness is about one of those tricky topics that is hard to discuss.

So, here’s my problem that caused my testy-ness today….Last time when we were meeting, I was talking about childhood stuff with the Art Therapist…those kind of unhappy childhood things that I don’t like to talk about.  And then the Art Therapist made a comment that what had happened to me wasn’t fair.  And this is where I am stuck.  What make something fair or not fair?  What if it was perfectly fair because I am, in fact, fundamentally flawed?  I mean this is one of my big issues…that I feel damaged/ruined, that something is wrong with me, that I am not normal, that I have to pretend to be “normal” all the time or people won’t like me, that if I was a better person or even a perfect person then everything would be okay…That maybe the bad things that have happened to me in life are simply because I didn’t deserve better…So, maybe in reality what happened to me was fair.

So, I kind of feel dishonest, like the AT is trying to help me get better when in fact, there’s no hope because there’s not enough good in me to work with.  Ugh…I don’t know….I guess I need to figure this out more. I can’t quite make sense of it in my head right now.  At the moment, it is too hard to get what I am feeling/thinking into the right words.