In the middle of an ice storm here. The difference between this storm and the ones at home? We haven’t lost power here. There’s something to be said for a much more urban/suburban living.
Sometimes, the blog just slips to the way side. It always happens when I am doing a lot of intense, personal writing for therapy. Then I feel like that part of me, the part that is processing emotions, it just gets used up already before I blog.
But…I have lots of things swirling around in my mind.
Ummm….that’s all for the moment.
Pretty much all of the work I do here is really stressful and I often feel very overwhelmed by emotions and get totally flooded. Frequently, I end up dissociating, which does no good for working through issues in therapy. Because of this, it is important for to me to have grounding techniques and tools. Basically, grounding brings me back into the present and changes my focus so that I can stop feeling flooded. The goal is to calm myself enough to continue the work. Examples of grounding techniques I use are 5,4,3,2,1 , ice pack/cool cloth, breathing, sensory input, hand fidget toys, reading book titles, counting things, etc. Some of these I can do on my own, some end up being facilitated by my therapist if I am dissociated.
I do well with sensory input, like my stuffed rabbit, or the ice/cool washcloth, or things with texture or that fit in my hand. I will automatically start rubbing the hem of my shirt, or fiddle with my socks. I have some toys, putty, a baby teether with spinning beads, etc that give me something to do with my hands and give me sensory feedback.
However, I recently found the most amazing grounding tool for me! I snagged it a local Goodwill. It is a Crayola product, they call it Mess-Free Touch Lights. It is basically finger painting, but without the mess. Technically, the toy is supposed to have a stylus, but being at Goodwill, mine doesn’t. But that’s okay. I much prefer the tactile input of just using my fingers to draw on it. And the best part is it is a light board, so the drawing is backlit and just looks really cool. I use the board before bed if I am anxious and/or having a PTSD hard time. I also use it at programming. Actually, I was lucky enough to find a second one at Goodwill, so now I don’t have to tote my board back and forth.
Here’s what it looks like:
And here’s what it looks like with some doodles and then with a hand print and some of the color options.
Anyway, I just adore this toy and it totally works for me. Oh…and if I leave it by my chair at programming, sometimes I am lucky enough to come back to it and find messages from my peers; smiley faces, “I love you” and one time one of my group leaders was talking to me and reminding me to cut myself some slack and she wrote “Kind” on my board.
I have to say, if you like hands-on grounding things, I highly recommend this.
My therapist said something to me Wednesday about how my feelings spiral and I get to a place of self-hate. I listened, agreeing in my head and then I was kind of looking for that self-hate part.
I don’t think I hate myself anymore. I am shocked. I know I do fall into patterns of self-hate, but self-hate is not my baseline. This is sooo different. Like, I almost feel lost without it, and there is a sort of hollow space there.
Then she asked if I was neutral about myself of if perhaps I had some compassion for myself. I kind of laughed at the idea of me holding compassion for myself. But….maybe some day? At this point, I’m at neutral.
So, of the core beliefs I have challenged and changed, what do I believe now?
Okay…that’s kind of a mind-blowing list. And while I have these new beliefs, they are very fragile and get shaken very easily and there are still lots of contradicting feelings about them. And they are in no way cemented in my brain and I will and I do lapse on them. But to even accept these things as true (even if tomorrow I will try to deny some of them) is more than I ever had hoped for.
I am telling you, Hilltop has changed me in ways that are going to change my whole being. I am going to walk out of Hilltop a totally different person than when I went in. It is kind of terrifying, I don’t know how to be a different me, but I am really trying to learn.
Yesterday, my therapist made a very direct statement to me that I have the fight and persistence I need to maintain recovery. She said I might lapse and lapse again, but that I have the stubbornness to keep on going. It was very powerful and I asked her to write it down. She said she would and she gave it to me today.
You are a fighter and you are both persistent and stubborn. This is something I have seen from the get-go and if you use that to your advantage there is no doubt in my mind that you can have recovery and maintain it even when there are lapses. Hold onto that persistence and fight that you have and use it to your advantage. That isn’t something that someone can give you or take away, it is something that you have.”
Yesterday, I agreed to take some new meds. I have been resistant to this for a long time (like a year and a half). But something has to shift. My stubborn no-new-meds stance has not served me well. And so, I agreed to trying not just one new med, but potentially a second as well.
Did I sleep well last night? Nope.
Was my PTSD in crazy over-drive last night? Yup.
Am I still depressed? Yup.
I made it to yoga today. This alone is an amazing victory. I can’t say I used kindness to get myself there, but I did get there and I enjoyed it once I was there.
Maybe there is hope for me yet!