Yoga and Art Therapy

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Yoga

Have I ever mentioned I love yoga? Yeah…I know…like a bazillion times.  So, yesterday was a yoga day and as usual, it was amazing.  I can actually feel how I have gained strength since starting yoga in the spring.  It is pretty empowering.  Yoga empowers me! That’s pretty awesome.

As usual, the Yoga Instructor was also amazing.  Come to think….after saying on yesterday’s post that the AT and my PNP complement each other nicely, I’d say my YI fits right in too. She has that same accepting, non-judgmental, gentle manner.  I never feel awkward or ill at ease because of her.

After we finished our session, I was rolling up my mat and I decided to float a question by her.  I asked what she thought about psych meds.  She clarified if I meant for depression or otherwise, and I said for depression.  And we had a really nice conversation.  She spoke with great candor and I appreciated that.  It turns out that she has her own experiences with depression and she shared her thoughts about taking meds.  And you know what?  She made some really good points.  I have lots of thinking to do.  And perhaps a lot of re-framing of my attitude about my medication.

And if you wonder why I asked her about psych meds…It’s because I like her and I have grown to trust her and I think she has interesting insights.  Sometimes, it is nice to talk to someone who is not my doctor or PNP or the AT.  I already know what they think…Sometimes, I just want a fresh perspective.  And since my YI already knows about my depression, I didn’t have to explain all that to her

You know, I think one of the things that was helpful about the conversation was that my YI offered her inside perspective.  I never get to talk (IRL) to anyone else who is depressed.  I know everyone’s depression experience is very different.  But I think there is a commonality/connectedness that you don’t get talking with non-depressed people.

Hmmm…hmmm…hmmm….Lots and lots for my brain to think about!!  Let the mulling begin!

Art Therapy 

To “process the trauma” represented in the sketchbooks or not….What do I feel up to today?  I actually am in a fantastic place right now…I just feel good…I think the term my YI used yesterday was, “Shining brightly.”  So…does that mean I am in a good place to process trauma?  Or that I should leave it alone and enjoy the good mood?

Mulling It Over and Therapy Today

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Mulling it over….

So, I am a mull-er.  Certain things that people say to me or I read or I observe stick in my head and I think about them.  I am not talking about that kind of dysfunctional thinking….the obsessing over stuff (which I readily admit I do as well) but actual thoughtful contemplation.  I can mull on something that someone said to me ages ago, revisiting it, trying to parse it…Finding the meaning for me.

Here’s an example, many, many years ago, I lost 80lbs by a very strict calorie controlled diet and exercise program.  I did it completely on my own….And eventually burned out from the rigidness of it and ultimately gained the weight back.  My primary physician at the time (not the same one I have now) was very kind about it and tried to dissuade me from feeling like a failure about it.  She made a comment to me, “Most people can’t lose 80lbs at all.  I am sure you can do it again.”  I mulled on that one for literally 3 years, and not beating myself up about it…Just thinking about what she had said and what it meant.  Eventually, with her words in my back pocket to bolster me, I joined Weight Watchers and lost that 80lbs again and then 50 more.  (Of course, that weight has also been regained….depression/PTSD will do that to ya!)  But I still hear her words in my head and still mull on it.

So…What am I mulling over right now?

  • A comment about a month ago made by my PNP about my blood pressure. It had been unusually high at a doctor’s appointment something like 162/100 which I reported to my PNP.  She talked to me a bit about it and I was kind of “yeah…whatever” about it.  So, she said to me, “Don’t you care that your BP was 162/100?”  I don’t know what I said to her at the time.  But I have been thinking about her words.  Do I care?  Yeah, I think I do.  So what does this mean to me?  That likely I need to make some changes….And I am working on a plan.  And I am still mulling.
  • Something I read in Childhood Disrupted, “…it can help to remember that while what happened when you were young was no doubt wrong, even unbearable, more often than not, that pattern of family dysfunction was set in place long before you were born…..” That’s a good one for mulling….”that pattern of family dysfunction was set in place long before you born.”  Would that mean that it wasn’t actually my fault?
  • The fact that the Art Therapist tears up during our sessions or says he’s sorry that bad things happened to me. This one has needed a lot of contemplation on my part…I still don’t get why he would care so much, or be so empathetic to me.  Doesn’t he know I am not worth it?  And that I deserved the bad things?  Or…What if he is right and I didn’t deserve the bad things?  And what if his example of tearing up is right too…that it is okay to feel?

Therapy Today

A thought crossed my mind Saturday night that set me into a bit of a panic.  So…remember the art journals I left with the AT?  I have been managing my anxiety about it pretty darn well this weekend and I am prepared for our session today.  I feel like I am in a good place considering I have let him see my most vulnerable inner-self.

My panic inducing thought was this:  What if he didn’t actually look at the journals yet? Ack!  What if I have to stretch out my anxiety management longer?  I said I’ve been managing it well…but that’s not to say that I haven’t felt anxious and exposed and uncomfortable.  I’d rather not have to feel that for several more days!!!

Hopefully, I am just worried for no reason….just my anxiety fussing at me.  Otherwise I might be kind of cranky at the Art Therapist!  And I am sure he doesn’t want to start his week with a cranky Heidi-client!

If Only I Was Playing Cards and Lamictal

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If Only I Was Playing Cards

There is a brand new book, Childhood Disrupted,  out about the Adverse Childhood Experiences study. It was published earlier this month and I really, really wanted to get it….but I was a little bit nervous about it as is touted as more of a self-helpy kind of book than a research summary/data analysis/practical application kind of book.  As much as I wanted to get it, I was worried about it being triggering, so I sort of shelved the idea.  However, my curiosity got the best of me and so I ordered it and it has arrived.  So far, I have just looked at the table of contents.  I don’t know when I’ll settle in and start reading the book….

When I blogged about the ACE study before, I didn’t mention my score.  I scored a 4 (4 ACEs).  According to the study, that puts me in the “life is probably going to really suck” category. (Was that too loosely paraphrased?)  Luckily, even though my life does really kinda suck, I also have had some pretty good resiliency.  Actually, the Art Therapist and I were talking about that a little bit on Thursday.  He asked me if I thought I had intrinsic resiliency or nurtured resiliency.  I am pretty sure that my resiliency is innate…It’s the pluck that has kept me going all these years.  Maybe it was nurtured here and there…but by no means consistently.

The ACE questionnaire, from which I got my score, is ten questions about traumatic childhood experiences…things that happened before you were 18.  However many you respond “yes” to is your score.  My “yes” questions are the following:

  • Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often…Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you? or Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?
  • Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever…Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? or Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?
  • Did you often or very often feel that …No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?
  • Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide?

There is one other question that I really kind of wonder about…

  • Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?

That one depends on what they mean as marks…red marks? Bruises?  I am sure that I was hit so hard with a spoon or a belt (mom liked the spoon, dad liked the belt) that it left some pretty good marks.  And when I was little…I had quite a few run ins with the spoon and belt.  (As a matter of fact, I got so tired of being hit with the spoon that I hid it so well that it wasn’t found for years. Plucky, eh?)  I suppose I could ask the AT if he thinks that counts for another ACE or not.  But if you want a true confession…I am more than likely not going count it because I am pretty sure I deserved to be hit.  And I know that I am not supposed to think that way, but I do.  And ultimately, the difference between a 4 and 5 is negligible anyway.

Lamictal

I survived day 1…though I did have a pretty good headache from about midday on, which is a possible side effect.  Or…maybe I just had a headache.  We’ll see how today goes.

Not Doing So Great and Work

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Not Doing So Great

Yesterday was not a good day for me mood-wise. My mood was pretty low in the morning and I was struggling with some negative thoughts.  After a little while, I just went back to bed as that is pretty much a guaranteed way to turn off the feeling bad.  But, I didn’t sleep very long.  Mostly, I just ended up immersing myself in Facebook and reading blogs and watching a couple of movies with dh all day.  It took the edge off, but the negative thinking was still there.  The problem is, given the severity of the negative thought pattern (thinking about cutting) I would have thought what triggered it would have been obvious to me, but it wasn’t.  Unless it was part of processing the ACE study.  I am not sure.

Unfortunately, this is the second time within a week that my self-harm thoughts have been triggered.  It is frustrating to me because, my mood doesn’t feel super bad right now, but clearly I’m off of my baseline because my baseline doesn’t include frequent thoughts of self-harm.  I guess I will bring it up with the Art Therapist today.  I feel a little bit awkward about it because I forgot to tell him about the previous episode (which lasted from Monday night through most of Tuesday) during our session on Thursday…and I wasn’t trying to intentionally withhold information, but by Thursday, I was not feeling self-harmish anymore, so it didn’t come up.

And yes, I see the AT twice a week now.  I had asked about increasing frequency because I was having a hard time keeping it together between appointments and really was in a lot of emotional pain that was leading me to darker thoughts.  I felt like increasing frequency would give me a grounding point without having to wait 7 days.  Seven days can be a looooong time when I’m crawling out of my skin with pain.   The AT had to give it some thought, but in the end decided 2x/week made sense from his perspective too.  We are supposed to be doing a session of work and then the next session is for grounding, but we are also being flexible as to what feels right for the moment.

Work

I have to go directly from AT to work…which will be another quick (super quick!) transition where I will have to pack all my feelings away and be ready to walk through the work door “happy” and ready to go.  It feels like it might be a tough task.  Really, I don’t want to go to work at all today.  I don’t feel like taking care of other people today.  But…I will go. I will suck it up and I will do my job and fake it until I break! Luckily, I am an exceptional faker (there’s that compartmentalizing again) so, it will be okay.   And really the clients deserve my best so I will push past my reluctance and give them what they need.  Then I will come home and crash!

The ACE Study and A Red Eft

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The ACE study

I recently learned about the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study.  I had never seen this study and its’ data, so I have been pretty intrigued by it and reading up about it as I have time.  My short summary of the study is this: Bad things that happen to people in their childhood have lifelong ramifications and impact people in areas of physical and mental health, relationships, and work absenteeism.  The more bad things that happened, the more likely the adult is to manifest such problems in later life.

Okay, so that is all well and good.  It makes sense, and the reason the study is so pivotal is that it had a huge participant group and the data that came out of the study was so consistent.  There is clear empirical data to support what many of us have known and suspected based on our personal experiences.  Plus, the data was used to create a scoring system which can be used as a predictor of later outcomes.

The following three links are to a three part article on the Huffington Post about the Ace study.  Part 1   Part 2   Part 3

However, what I find profoundly stunning about this study is the information collected from the obesity clinic drop-outs and the doctor’s observations as detailed in Part 1 (which led him to ask questions which ultimately became the ACE study). Reading that part of the article was like reading about my life.  I am living the life of the very obese woman who has lost huge amounts of weight (80lbs the first time, 145lbs the second time) and then could not cope with the new body and male attention and lack of protection/security and then gained the weight back.  I even meet the markers of being born a normal birth weight and rather than continually gaining weight, I have weighed pretty much the same weight, give or take 20ish lbs (even while pregnant) my whole adult life.

I have always had enough insight to know that I am heavy for a reason (to feel safe) but I had no idea that this was something that other people have experienced. And I am blown away. I don’t even know what to feel….I will have to try to figure that out later. (Those damn feelings…confusing me again!) I am not quite sure why this realization or seeing my experience in print is so moving to me, but it is.

There is one thing in the article though that does not resonate with my experience. The article states that, “The obese people that Felitti was interviewing were 100, 200, 300, 400 pounds overweight, but they didn’t see their weight as a problem.”  I see my weight as a huge problem and it is one of the reasons I hate myself.  I hate my body.  While my big body may feel safer, I think the damage I do to myself by loathing it actually puts me in a worse place.

Anyway, these are just my first reactions to reading the article.  I am sure I will be writing more about all this in the near future after I do some more processing.

A Red Eft

So, let me veer in a completely different direction.

Yesterday, dh and I were walking on our road and I found a red eft.  I pretty much squealed in delight because I love red efts! I scooped him out of the road and carried him to safer ground, but before I sent him on his way, I got a couple of good pictures of him that I want to share.

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redeft

Nature makes me happy!  🙂