Mood Yo-Yo and Lamictal

DSCN0160

Mood Yo-Yo

Yesterday was a fantastic day for me.  I felt like  normal person all day.  Normal! It was great. I felt cheerful and sassy and just kind of like the old me…I don’t think I have felt that good since 2007.  I almost wish it hadn’t happened because today I am crashing off the good day and it sucks.  I just want to sob. I am frustrated and mad and tired of being the me that I usually am.  I hate the mood yo-yo.

Lamictal

I am also mad because yesterday, when I was feeling good and thinking about making good choices, I caved and told my PNP that I would start taking the lamictal.  Almost everyone I have asked about it has been in favor of it for me, my PP, my friend who is a PNP….And they don’t understand why I’ve been carrying the prescription around in my wallet for 6 weeks instead of filling it.  I had a long talk with my PNP about it yesterday…..and I just didn’t have a good reason to not take it.  So, I told her I would.  I wasn’t thrilled with the idea yesterday, more like I was resigned to my fate….But today…I am mad about it.

But you know what lamictal does that makes it worth trying?  It levels out the mood yo-yo. Which would be nice….I think.  Anyway, she is starting me on a super tiny dose because lamictal is a med you ease into very slowly to avoid the “life threatening rash” side effect.  I am counting on that slow transition to buy me some time.  I can keep my word and take the med…but it won’t really be doing anything yet and will be easy to stop if I can’t wrap my head around taking it.

And for the record, I have asked the Art Therapist’s opinion on the lamictal…He didn’t really give me one.  He doesn’t want meds to sedate me from feeling.  And I know he doesn’t want me miserable either.  If I were to hazard a guess, I think that he’s not really in favor of meds…But I think it goes back to his philosophy of not wanting to treat me symptom by symptom but rather by tackling the problem that causes the symptoms.  Mind you, that’s just my interpretation of his philosophy.  But it makes sense, taking pain meds to deal with the pain of a heart attack doesn’t really help the fact that you are having a heart attack….You gotta treat the heart attack to stop the pain.

The irony of my anti-lamictal stand is that my PNP also recommended a bunch of supplements for me to try for mood (B Complex vitamins, Omega 3s, l-methylfolate) which I happily bought yesterday and will start taking today too.  Taking the supplements doesn’t bother me a bit…because they aren’t actually psych meds.  But when it comes to the psych meds…I am just loathe to take them.  I know that I shouldn’t see them differently…but I do.

Anyway, so today I feel grumpy and sulky and mad and sad.  But, I work today, which will hopefully take my mind off of it…At least until I get home.

DSCN0163

I Don’t Need to Borrow Trouble and Heidi the Yogi

DSCN0156

I Don’t Need to Borrow Trouble

When I am feeling “sensitive” about things and get all worried about them, do you suppose this is just a manifestation of my anxiety?  I was thinking about what I wrote yesterday and how I was perseverating and torturing myself about if the Art Therapist believed me or not.  I realized yesterday afternoon that of course he believes me! Why am I questioning it?  All I can think is it is anxiety related…..Either from my own insecurity in the therapeutic relationship or from leftover baggage I have from Therapist #1.  I do kind of live by a motto of once-burned-twice-shy, so baggage makes lots of sense to me.  But…the AT is not Therapist #1, he is the AT.  I need to give him more credit.  So, why was I not giving him the credit he is due?  I guess it’s just me.  I’m still working on trusting the AT…I am doing better and better with it, but it is still hard.  And I like him and I feel hopeful with him, but I am so used to people letting me down…And to failing…

Today is another Art Therapy day.  I don’t have a plan as to what I want to talk about yet.  It is also a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner day, so I am getting a double whammy….And I am really nervous about the PNP appointment…We are going to have to discuss my suicidal ideation and I am not looking forward to that.  However, I will get to find out if my Primary Physician has actually called either of them yet.

Heidi the Yogi

So, I have been taking private yoga lessons.  It is with a local person who has a studio in her home.  She has been traveling quite a bit recently, so even though we started in April, I have only been 3 times (maybe 4?).  That works out for me since I am not exactly lush in money right now, so the intermittent schedule is great.  She also has a sliding fee scale and that has been super helpful too.  Anyway, I have been interested in yoga for a long time but have way too much body shame to actually go to a yoga class where there are <gasp> other people.  I almost have too much body shame to do the private lessons as well…but I am trying not to let it be a barrier.

Yesterday was the first day where I actually felt relaxed about being at the yoga studio.  I wasn’t at first, since it has been about two months since I was last there, but the teacher is very reassuring and I felt calmer and like I said, I felt some actual relaxation.  I like the yoga a lot.  I may have a huge body, but I happen to be very flexible and I have some decent strength, so it is nice to move my body during yoga.  I am super self-conscious, but yesterday, I even let some of that go too.

I think what is the most challenging part of yoga for me is the teacher talks about knowing and liking one’s body, appreciating one’s body, feeling beautiful and special and letting one’s self be open and receiving, etc.  And she has an amazing knack of honing right in on my emotionally sensitive spots….It’s almost spooky how she does it.  For instance, several times yesterday she was talking about affirmations and finding nice things to say about one’s self and feeling exquisite.  It was only a few days ago that I blogged about how I hate affirmations.  She also seems to have picked right up on my trauma history.  She hasn’t said anything directly to me, but she has talked about trauma and how peoples’ bodies react to trauma and made trauma-calming comments…..Again it was very unnerving.

I think yoga is a good challenge for me…but she almost had me in tears three different times yesterday by hitting those sensitive spots.  I wasn’t prepared for that.  If I can’t cry in therapy….I can’t cry in yoga!

Anyway, I was trying to get to a point…I think the yoga helped to center me and clear my head a lot.  I think that is what lead to my trusting that the Art Therapist does believe me and that I need to let my worry about it go. <Imagining blowing dandelion fluff off my palm> Gone! No more worry.

DSCN0103

Or Maybe I Will Blog Today…..

Or maybe I will write and be insightful today as I think perseverating on what’s bothering me is going to push me over the edge today.

One of the things that my Primary Physician mentioned at the reconciliatory appointment was that I am “sensitive.” I wanted to take offense at her comment, but honestly, she is right. I am sensitive in multiple ways, which is both good and bad.  She wasn’t placing a value judgment on it but rather was making an observation.  (Her other observation is that I have a “strong personality.”  Who, me?!)

So right now I am feeling sensitive and perseverating about something that the Art Therapist said on Monday….And it’s not his fault.  So…let me back track.

When I used to see Therapist #1, we did lots of general CBT work to get my self-confidence up and have me become less isolated.  A lot of therapy with him was of that level, not as deep work as I did with Therapist #2 and nothing like the deeply personal level of the work I do with the Art Therapist.  With Therapist #1, I just didn’t know how to let him in and honestly, I was nowhere near ready to let him in.  I mean, I did try and we did talk about things… even personal things, but it was just different…more like standing in the doorway of a dark room vs. going in and turning the light on.

However, I did try to talk to him about my sexual abuse.  And I don’t think he believed me.  Since I don’t have a really solid memory of the sexual abuse, and I tend to like “evidence” to validate things…his lack of belief made me question myself and what memories I do have and thus shove all that stuff further back into my denial vault.  It wasn’t until Therapist #2 and an ugly and lengthy PTSD exacerbation with multiple, vivid flashbacks that I started to trust my intuition again about having been sexually abused.

And if you are wondering why I don’t think Therapist #1 believed me, partly it was just how he reacted in general about the topic, but also he talked a lot about not creating memories that weren’t there.  And at some point in the midst of seeing Therapist #2, I went back for a single visit to Therapist #1 to ask him about what he and I used to talk about about sexual abuse.  (Trying to jog my memory.)  He was very unhelpful and handed me an article about a woman who accused her father of incest and thus destroyed their relationship, his life, etc., etc. and then later the woman recanted claiming it was a false memory. That kind of sealed the deal…He clearly didn’t believe me.  Nothing like reaching out and then getting my hand slapped!

So….Back to 2015 and Monday….The AT and I were discussing my sibling and the range of psych diagnoses she has been through; depression, anxiety, DID, Borderline, etc.  The AT made a comment to the effect of, “All those diagnoses are typical of someone who has experienced early sexual trauma…kind of gives credence to what you have said.”  And I am sure he was just trying to use that to validate my experience…..But, the sensitive me heard, “I didn’t believe you that you were sexually abused, but I guess your sib’s experience kinda confirms it.”  And since I won’t know without having him clarify, my brain is trying to torture me that he doesn’t believe me either. (And that I have misplaced my trust in him and that I was stupid to ever trust him and that therapy was a stupid thing to do and that I can’t trust anyone, ever….The whole slippery slope.)  But I am pretty sure all of that thinking is wrong….And I almost trust him enough to just tell myself I am being silly and let it go, but I am so used to people disappointing and hurting me….  <sigh>

That’s why I feel flat and tired and broken today.  And now even teary.  I hate, hate, hate feeling things and trusting people and opening up and feeling vulnerable.  I give up.   I just can’t do it.

My plan for the day is to not perseverate. (Wish me luck with that one!)  But I am going to really work at reminding myself that I have worked hard to let myself trust the AT and just because Therapist #1 didn’t believe me doesn’t automatically mean that the AT won’t believe me either.  I just need to calm my mind down…Or just go to sleep so I can’t think.

Dreams, Pocket Peace and Wait and See

DSCN0147

Dreams

I have been having really disturbing dreams again lately.  I think the first one was Saturday night.  I don’t remember much of the dream except that I was with someone and I had been somehow impaled with multiple shards of mirror glass.  The glass was sticking out of my skin and blood was oozing around the wounds.  I remember that the mirror part of the glass was really shiny.  I think the person I was with and I were trying to figure out how to get the glass out of my skin.  I don’t remember much else about the dream.  What is interesting about this dream is that I had a similar dream about having glass embedded in my skin several months ago when I started seeing the Art Therapist… I remember talking to him about it.    In that dream, the pieces of glass were like icebergs, bigger under the surface than above, so there was no way to pull the glass out without causing myself bigger cuts and more injury.

Sunday night, I had a very lengthy and detailed dream…I don’t remember all of it, but the whole tenor of it was negative…Bad people, bad things happening.  The dream took place in the very early 1900s (I know because of the cars in the dream and the architecture and clothing).  I was somehow responsible for the children of a large family.  The kids were unruly though and getting into all sorts of trouble, but I couldn’t be paying proper attention to them and be with them because there was a creepy man that I was supposed to be with and entertaining during some sort of party or something.   I could see the kids through a window, they were outside and had climbed up about 40’ in a tree and were jumping out of the tree and trying to land on a mattress.  I had to watch helplessly and horrified as the kids jumped.  The first kid landed on the mattress.  The second kid landed half on the mattress and his head snapped back and he broke his neck.  The next kid totally missed the mattress and just crumpled in a heap as he hit the ground.  The dream switched here…I don’t think I could tolerate watching the rest of the kids kill themselves jumping out of the tree.

The next part of the dream I remember involved the family and guests from the party chasing me down the road in their cars (because of the dead kids).  There were thick bushes by the road and I jumped in them to hide, but side of the road ended just under the bushes, so I ended up jumping off the edge of a cliff.  Somehow, I caught myself and I was hanging off the edge of a cliff and I remember thinking, “I guess I should have jumped off the other side of the road.”  Then there were people in boats in the water at the bottom of the cliff trying to get me too.  I was trapped with no place to go.  And…..that’s all I remember.

I don’t quite know what to make of the dreams…or my recent rash of disturbing dreams.  I guess my brain is in overdrive about something!

Pocket Peace

I am pretty sure I utterly failed the Pocket Peace assignment.  The Art Therapist wanted to know what my “experience” of having the Pocket Peace with me was….And I didn’t have an answer. I think it annoyed him…He kind of got that extra-special-patience tone in his voice.  Then I asked him the point of the assignment and it was like pulling teeth to get him to answer it. Finally, he told me it was a mindfulness exercise. Okay, I get that…..Not the first time I have been given a mindfulness exercise by a therapist, but I don’t know why he couldn’t have said it in the first place….Hmmm…I guess feeling annoyed was going around!

I kept Pocket Peace with me when I went to work and at the end of the day it looked like this.

DSCN0144

I think that sums up my general experience at work….It kind of crushes my spirit.  (Which is why I can’t believe I was actually starting to consider getting out my resume and applying for one of the positions.)

Wait and See

My worry yesterday about my Primary Physician having called the AT was for nothing.  She didn’t make the call (yet?).  I actually was really surprised by that based on what she said she was going to talk to him about…I am trying very hard to reserve judgement about it….And I did see her Thursday morning and the AT was out on Friday so maybe my PP called and didn’t leave a message? (Though, I thought she would have called on Thursday.)

The AT asked me if I wanted him to reach out to her…And I said to him, “Wouldn’t it be more fun to wait and see how long it takes her?”   So, he’s not going to call her. Really, it’s a test for my PP.  She said she’d call…I’ve got my stopwatch out to see how long it takes her.

Pocket Peace, Art Therapy and Being Social

DSCN0135

Pocket Peace

Art therapy and work today.

I have been diligently toting my Pocket Peace around with me all weekend. That doesn’t say too much, as I haven’t really gone anywhere particularly interesting….But whenever I left the house I took it.  The rest of the time, it has been on the dining room table with my phone…Right where I know where it is and see it when I walk by.  It has gotten a little bit dog-eared and fuzzy.  (No really….I had it in my sweatshirt pocket yesterday morning and it was really humid, so the watercolor paint got a little sticky and some sweatshirt fuzz stuck to it.)  Not sure what the Art Therapist’s actual plan was regarding the Pocket Peace…come to think, I am not sure he had a plan…

DSCN0141

I will say, when he had me make it and told me to keep it with me, it felt dangerously close to being an affirmation assignment.  I am so glad he didn’t go there! I loathe affirmations.  Affirmations serve to remind me about all the things I hate about myself.  I already have a pretty good handle on the list, so why would I want to regularly remind myself?  Oh…right….affirmations are supposed to help you overcome all that. But nope, not for me.  My self-contempt overrides any of the “positive” that is supposed to be overcome by affirmations.

Art Therapy

I am a little bit anxious about Art Therapy this morning.  I am worried about if my Primary Physician called the Art Therapist and if so, what she said.  I don’t think he would have actually talked much with her, because I am pretty sure I didn’t sign a form saying he could (Not because I don’t want him to…Just because it hadn’t been necessary.)  And guess what? I see my Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner on Thursday, so I get to have the same anxiety and worry for the same reason all over again!

Being Social

Yesterday, I got together with the Social Strawberries co-worker again.  It was supposed to be to pick blueberries…but the weather didn’t cooperate.  Instead, we and her kidlet went to the playground and then had lunch at my house and watched her kidlet work on some puzzles and do some drawing.

Then I had a spontaneous visit from another friend later in the afternoon.

I don’t quite know what is going on lately, but I have had more social interactions in the past month than I had probably in the whole of the last year.  And it is a smidge confusing to me, as a couple of the folks are co-workers (The Social Strawberries Gal and the Maternity Leave Mom) and it is like they are being friends.  But then, maybe the Maternity Leave Mom is just lonely and I am around to do stuff with because I am not really working.  Social Strawberries is a bit more confusing…Is it a budding friendship? And if so, why would she like me? Ack! It almost makes me feel things to try to puzzle it out.  Best to leave it alone!

cloud

On Suffering and Suicidal Ideation

DSCN0120

On Suffering

Yesterday, I mentioned that my Primary Physician used the word, “suffering” to refer to my depression.  She actually used it several times to describe my experience of being depressed.  I kind of chafed when she said it….It’s not a word I would have chosen to use and I have since thought about why.

One of the first things I do when I am not sure I like how a word is being used is to make sure that I know exactly what the word means.  Sometimes, what I think a word means, or the nuances of how we use it, are not actually the same as the literal definition.  So, I looked up “suffering.” Merriam Webster defines suffering as “pain that is caused by injury, illness, loss, etc. : physical, mental, or emotional pain.”  So, I guess indeed I have suffering.  However, when used to describe me, it still makes me chafe.

To me, “suffering” is a passive word and that’s why I don’t like it.  I feel like “suffering” is something that is happening to me, that I allow to happen to me, and does not actually reflect the fact that I am fighting tooth-and-nail to not be in emotional pain all the time. I think I associate “suffering” with being a victim and I refuse to be a victim of my depression.*  Clearly, my understanding of the word is not the same as the literal meaning of the word…But having thought about how I interpret it, it makes sense why the term made me chafe.

*And let me digress I moment here.  When I started therapy up again in Februaray, it wasn’t just because I was miserable and depressed and on the edge of not functioning…I am used to all that!  But one day, I was thinking about how awful I felt and I realized that my thought pattern had shifted…I realized that I was letting my depression define me vs. me still being me, just depressed.  That was the first time I ever felt that way and I knew immediately that I needed to do something about it.  If I let my depression define me, then I was going to be a lost cause.  That’s why I had to start up therapy again.

Suicidal Ideation

First of all, I have to say that after writing and reading my blog yesterday, it occurs to me what a terribly bad idea it was to have a stockpile of pills on hand…..Talk about an invitation to disaster!  I think I need to really try to be aware of making my environment as safe as possible at all times.  A bottle of pills in the back of the cupboard is pretty benign when I am having good days, but is a real danger when I am mired in the depths of hopelessness.  But like I said yesterday, I don’t have a stockpile right now and I think I will refrain from starting a new one.

I hate that I have suicidal thoughts.  I didn’t realize how strongly my depression would influence me and my desire to live…Though, it isn’t so much about living or dying.  Suicide to me would be about stopping the pain.  When my depression gets bad (and it doesn’t even have to be too awful) I just am in constant emotional pain…It is with me every second of every day and I I cannot get away from it.  The intensity varies, but on days that it is really bad, it almost feels like I am in physical pain because of it.  I can sometimes distract myself from the pain, but as soon as the distraction is over, the pain is right there…It just never stops. Never. Stops.

When I am in that space of intense emotional pain, I just wish I was dead…I feel like I am dying inside anyway…so what would the difference be?  It’s not that I want to be dead…I just want the pain to stop.  And if I think of living another 40 years fighting and constantly losing the emotional pain battle…Well, that makes me even more discouraged.  I hate feeling that way.

Now, since I am having some better mood days the past couple of days, I can say that I don’t always feel that bad and that yes, the intensity of pain does abate and become more of background noise than screaming-in-my-face noise.  But…I lose perspective when my mood drops.  Usually, though, I am able to remind myself to just wait it out.  Oh…and now that I have the Art Therapist, I also have  someone I can reach out to (I just have to remember to do it.)  And dh has said he wants me to reach out to him too.  It’s just hard when I am in-the-moment to call on my supports.

There is a second part to my suicidal ideation that is a bit more disturbing to me….And that is that I frequently have intrusive thoughts about suicide. Specifically, I have an intrusive thought that is the same every time it comes, I don’t ask for it, I don’t want it, but it just pops into my head. The words are, “You should just kill yourself.”  That thought doesn’t always come with the painful part of depression or the despondent lows, it can come to me pretty much at any time.  That’s what’s disturbing about it.  It can be so out of context in terms of what I am experiencing at the time that it doesn’t fit at all, but still, the thought intrudes, “You should just kill yourself.”  I don’t think that it is a thought that I would ever act on, but I find it pretty damaging in a different way…It hurts my psyche.

So, why haven’t I killed myself?  Dh and ds.  My life might be ruined because of my depression, but I don’t need to drag other people down with me.  I am aware that the impact of my killing myself would be devestating and life-long on the two people I love most in the world.  It wouldn’t be worth it.  Plus…I am stubborn.  I can endure and I can even suffer because just maybe I can beat my depression.  If I can’t let it define me, then I can’t let it win.