Thankful

I am not so much a “What am I thankful for this Thanksgiving” kind of person…But….What am I thankful for?

Okay…first of all, I am thankful for myself and the fact that I am even alive right now.  I did not kill myself this year.  I survived the worst points of my eating disorder.  My Hilltop dietitian pointed out to me recently that before I went into treatment in March (at the other facility) I was not eating enough to sustain life.  She pointed out our bodies are resilient and do anything to stay alive, but that the cost is high.  I am thankful that despite hitting some ultra-lows with my depression that I did not kill myself.  Yes, I am just plain thankful that I am alive to write this blog post.

I am thankful to dh for his unwavering support, for keeping our household running, for missing me every day but never asking me to come home, for telling me that as long as it takes and whatever I need, we will make it work so that I can get better.  And I am thankful for his unconditional love.

I am thankful for ds who has been willing to pick up slack at home and step into a role of much responsibility.  I am also thankful for his love and support and flexibility with me being gone.  And I am thankful he is doing it all while juggling a job and a full semester.  He is an amazing kid…errr…man.

I am thankful for my friends,

  • Donna who has kept me in her thoughts and prayers and has kept me in a steady stream of postcards and notes and love.
  • SS for taking good care of my special little friends and for supporting and encouraging me.
  • A., who was invaluable at keeping me in one piece all spring and summer.
  • L., who has been a loving and supportive friend.

I am thankful for my treatment friends who are constantly supporting me, loving me and deeply understanding my pain and how hard it is to heal.  And who remind me that I am worth recovery.

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And I am thankful for Team Heidi. Really, I cannot thank them enough for their support which has gone above and beyond anything I ever expected.  Team Heidi held me up when I had nothing left to keep myself up. Team Heidi kept me safe with persistence and commitment.  And Team Heidi gave me the support to pack myself up and travel across the country for treatment.

I am thankful for Hilltop Team Heidi.  The support of this team has helped me learn things about myself that I never knew and showed me I have strength I didn’t know I have.  Trauma work is a bitch, and I have had multiple teams here that I have trusted enough to do the work and keep focused on my recovery.  And even though I am one of many people they treat each year, I feel like they actually care about me.

I am thankful for the first treatment center I went to this year, for re-feeding me and getting me medically stable.

I am thankful for the woman who took me into her home and lets me stay here for very little “rent” thus helping me be able to stay for treatment as long as I need to.  I also appreciate her kindness and companionship.

I am thankful for the UU I found and the support of my Pastoral Care person (whose house I am going to for dinner today.)  It is so nice to be taken in by strangers and treated like I am an old friend.

I am thankful for the little things.

  • This puppy, that makes me absolutely crazy and that give me much joy.
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  • The little magical bits of nature I find:
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Oh! And I am really thankful for finding my way into a yoga studio where I feel safe and cared about and supported with trauma sensitive instructors and financial accommodations.

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Truly, my list could go on and on.  I have much to be thankful for this year.

Now…If I can get myself out of my anxiety and mood funk, which is still following me like sticky dark shadow, I might be able to make it through today without falling apart.  However, I am still really struggling and I am not looking forward to going to programming today (Yes, we have programming on Thanksgiving day) and I am anxious about the dinner I am going to later because I really won’t know anyone there.  But I will try, just for today, to cut myself some slack.  And if that’s too much, then I will just try 5 minutes of grace at a time.  And if that doesn’t work….well…I can only do the best that I can do.

Nightmare and More Loose Ends and Breaking The News To Ds

Nightmares

Last night, my nightmare graduated to the kind that has me wake up in heart-pounding panic and full freeze mode.  Once I had gathered my wits about me, I ran through my grounding techniques telling myself, “It is now, not then” over and over. And then I ran through…that’s dh in the bed beside me, I am in my room, ds is in his room, it is now, I am warm under my covers, I have to pee…Orienting myself to sensations, time and safety.  (Therapist #2 did a fantastic job training me in this process for orienting myself to present after nightmares.)

So, out of the past three sleeps, I have had three nightmares.  I am not happy about this. I hope it settles down ASAP, especially with the progression to the night terror/PTSD nightmare.

More Loose Ends

I harvested two of the lettuce gardens and cleaned both of them and the beet garden.

I gave the big dog a good nail trim yesterday.  The little dog hates nail trims, so I only got two of her nails done.

I think maybe I need to make a checklist of things to do! Let’s see

  1. Call and re-defer student loan
  2. Check in with Case Manager
  3. Get chicken food and shavings
  4. Clean out chicken coop
  5. Deal with house plants
  6. Harvest last Aerogarden <sigh>
  7. Deliver items to various people (bag to L, soakers to J, diaper cover to SS)
  8. Freeze up a handful of dinners for dh/ds
  9. Start refrigerator bread dough for dh/ds
  10. Get a few items of clothing (more underpants, a couple of t-shirts, pajamas, maybe some capris…it will warmer where I am going than here)

That’s the list for the moment. I am sure it will change over time.

Breaking The News To Ds

Last night, we had a family conversation about my eating disorder and impending residential treatment.  Ds was absolutely non-plussed by the whole thing.  He didn’t seem worried and he didn’t have any questions.  So either he has inherited the Heidi stoicism or he is just not worried.  I did sort of lay it out factually…and was calm and clear.  Calmness begets calmness.  I’ll check in with him in a day or so and see if he has any further questions/thoughts.

Cold and About The Knitting

Cold

I would be remiss if I did not mention the cold weather we are having this weekend.  A few weeks ago, on a chilly therapy morning, the AT commented that it was “explicative cold outside.” I think it was in the single digits that morning…maybe 9ish? (Fahrenheit scale here )  BTW, he did not actually use an explicative.  I cautioned him that if we started using explicatives to describe the cold at that temp, what would we do if it was really, really cold?

Well folks, it is fucking cold this morning.  -23.  Nasty, painful, dangerous cold.  Last night it was snot-freeze-in-your-nose cold…this morning it is it-hurts-to-inhale cold.  Gotta love life in the snowy and ultra-cold hinterlands.

The furnace is running like crazy, the woodstove in the basement is fired up, the dogs are in pajamas and I have multiple layers on…We will stay warm today. I cannot imagine what nights and days like this are like for the homeless people in the City.  <brrrr>

And I just googled it….-23F is -30.5C.  Again, I say….fucking cold!

About The Knitting

I recently told the Art Therapist that I think my parents hated me.  He commented, “You have said that before.”  I let his comment slide…I didn’t want to go there and I had another thing I was talking about…Knitting.

I realize that all my history stories have featured my mother interacting with me.  There is a reason for this.  My father was pretty much totally emotionally absent from my world.  It’s not to say he didn’t participate at all…I don’t want to be unfair…And he did do things that were kind.  But I always felt like I was a burden to him.  Anyway, he had a volatile temper and scared the crap out of me, so I usually tried to stay out of his way.  And he wasn’t warm and fuzzy and he would say mean things that would just stick to my heart and eat away at me.  Basically, I learned his anger cues pretty quickly (and even now as an adult when I see him start to get mad, I get a feeling of dread in my stomach) so that I would avoid the wrath.  I was always on edge around him and carry some of that edginess still today…My dad used to hit us with his belt and to this day, when dh takes of his belt, the sound of it slipping through the loops sends me right into terror/freeze mode.

But I digress…This post is about my mom and knitting.

My mom is a prolific knitter. She loves to knit, has always loved to knit and she knits quickly and nicely.  When I was a kid and teen, I always wanted her to teach me to knit.  But she wouldn’t.  She always seemed put out by the idea.  It was yet another disappointment for me, though you would think at some point I would have learned to expect that.

When ds was a baby, we cloth diapered.

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We were so poor, we couldn’t afford disposables…When you have to choose disposable diapers vs. groceries….Well….you find another way to diaper your baby.  Back then, prefold diapers, pins and pants, were still the traditional method of diapering.  The new-fangled covers and all-in-one diapers were pretty much brand-new on the market and sooo, sooo expensive.  Wool soakers (an older, more traditional diaper cover) were all hand knit and super expensive too…Way beyond my budget. And of course, I didn’t know how to knit.

I had a book with a super simple knitted soaker pattern. It was straight knitting, nothing fancy, to produce a simple piece of knitting which would then be folded and seamed into little pants.  Ultra-basic. Heck…I could have even done the sewing part.  I asked my mom to make me some for ds.  And she wouldn’t.  She said she didn’t know how (Look, mom…I have a pattern!) which was BS because she could knit all sorts of complicated things.  She just didn’t want to.  I was never able to convince her to make me wool soakers.  But we would go visit and I could watch her knit sweaters and vests for herself.

My only conclusion at the time was that my mother didn’t care enough about me or ds to knit some soakers.  Kind of like my conclusion about her not teaching me to knit was that she hated me.  I suppose the second one is sort of a dire conclusion, but I was a kid and pretty sensitive and pretty black and white with my thinking.  And the knitting was just one thing on a continuum of reasons that I figured she didn’t like me.

So, about ten years ago, I bought a skein of yarn, some “candy cane” knitting needles and a little booklet on how to knit…And I sat and I taught myself to knit.  I stuck with it, I am stubborn like that, until I could make things.  Here is one of my first projects, a gift for a friend.

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As I kept knitting, I kept upping the challenge and learning new and different techniques.  I loved it.  I also taught ds to knit.  (Sometime, I will blog about how I did not repeat the parenting patterns that I grew up with.)  Ds is not really a knitter…At some point, I also taught him crochet and he prefers crocheting to knitting. I don’t care, I am just glad he has something he enjoys.

Since learning to knit, I have knit a zillion baby sweaters and booties and hats.  I used to donate them to a woman who gave them to immigrants just coming to the City from Africa…not prepared for the cold that we have here. (I can only image the climate shock for these immigrants!)  I have also knit blankets and soakers and mittens and ornaments and scarves and slippers and, and, and….You get the idea.

I stopped knitting when I stopped doing anything that I cared about, when my depression was so bad that I had no initiative and other than going to work and coming home, was not able to be very productive.  Ugh…that was such a dark and painful time for me.  I am sooo glad to have moved past that part of my depression.  (Though I worry it could happen again.)

As you know,  now I am knitting again.  And it I like it.  And I have decided that even if my initiative wavers, I will still knit, even if it is just a little bit.  Because I think knitting is good for me.

And though they are not my preferred needles, I still have my “candy cane” knitting needles…I will keep them forever as they symbolize an important beginning in my life….A moment when I chose to empower myself, to say “fuck you” to my mom and her self-absorption (at least in terms of the knitting) and teach myself what she would not teach me.

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And here’s my progress on the first knit-along (KAL) blanket square. It is about halfway to being a square now.

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And…here’s the ultra-simple soaker pattern. I just needed her to knit that Z shape for me. I don’t know why she couldn’t be bothered to just knit me up a few. (And I don’t know why it still hurts my feelings.)

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BTW, the pattern is from an awesome book called, The Children’s Year by S. Cooper, C. Fynes-Clinton and M, Rowling.  It is full of simple crafts and old-timey toys and games and knitting and sewing patterns…I love the book!

Waiting and Pottery Class

Waiting

Yesterday morning, I got up and started some turkey stock both on the stove and in the crockpot.  Ds made stock earlier this month and it was well-liked in the soups/stews I have made recently but there is only a pint of his stock left.  After the stock cooks, I put it into canning jars and freeze it up.  Luckily, the weather this time of year cooperates with the cooling and freezing of the stock on the deck.  I won’t ever eat anything made from the stock, as it is meat based, but I am glad to make it and know that dh and ds are eating healthy homemade food.

I did some hand sewing for quite a while in the morning.  It was just the right kind of activity because I was super low energy and just finding it hard to move much.  I had planned on walking the dogs, but it was cold and snowing and I just didn’t feel up to it.  (I have been really cold lately.)  It was a quiet kind of morning.

Mostly though, I was waiting.  My bloodwork came back from Tuesday’s blood draw and I took a look at it first thing in the morning.  (There is a website through the hospital that posts labs and stuff, the info show up there fast and I can check it before my doctor even sees it.)  A couple of my lab values were off…This is the first time that has happened.  So, I was waiting for an email from my doctor to see what she thought.  Here is the message she put on the bottom of my lab results, “Heidi, Your liver enzymes (AST and ALT) are now elevated and this may be due to the stress on your liver due to inadequate calorie intake.  We should recheck this at your next visit. Please let me know if you have questions. Best wishes, [Your Doctor]”  I am not sure how worried I should be about this…I guess the next bloodwork check will let me know.

Pottery Class

In the evening I had pottery class.  Despite just wanting to curl up in bed to stay warm and rest, I pulled myself together and went to pottery.  It’s kind of like yoga in that I love it so much that I will get there come Hell or high water.  I threw my pot lid on the wheel, though I don’t have much hope that it will fire to the right size.  But it was my first lid and I did my best…Maybe I will be pleasantly surprised!  I also started glazing my tiles.  I am painting in the glaze to color the pictures I drew…Technically, this might not work as the glaze colors may just run together when it is fired.  Honestly, I am okay with that, as painting the tiles is kind of an experiment and I am not feeling like they have to come out perfect.

Here are the tiles during the glazing process.  The colors of the glaze are not at all accurate, they fire and change color/darken significantly. For example the trees will fire to a dark green even though the glaze is so light.

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The Bad, The Good & The Awesome

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The Bad

I mentioned in a previous post that therapy was not the only thing that had me stressed this past week.  It is true…It has been one tiring week.

The Big Dog hurt one of the toes on his back foot.  This is his third foot/leg injury that required vet attention since this summer…And his accident prone-ness is kind of stressing me.  As with his other injuries, I have no idea the mechanism of his injury, but found the results.  On this toe injury, he somehow sheared and gouged the tip of one his pads off.  It was incredibly painful for him and he was severely limping for a few days and would whimper in pain.  I did my best to keep it clean, and I soaked it and I put antibiotic cream on it, but after a few days, it looked like it was getting infected, so off to the vet we went.  Sure enough he had developed cellulitis. At this point he is doing much better and the oral antibiotic they gave him is working well.

Not to be outdone, Little Dog developed another case of conjunctivitis. This is her fourth or fifth since this summer. So, I took “double trouble” to the vet together.  She’s on meds too now (again) and has earned herself a referral to the dog opthalmologist.  We are going in a week and a half.  The vet warned me that the consult fee alone is $130 at the “dogthalmologist” (as I like to say).

We used to have a fund set aside for dog health issues, but they are killing it this year.  Between them, in just the past couple of months, we have shelled out about $600….That covers Big Dog and his hock injury that needed staples, the new toe injury and two bouts of conjunctivitis for the little dog. <sigh>  They are certainly worth it…but it still hurts the wallet.

The other big stressor around here is dh.  He has been super stressed at work with a huge project his team has been working on since summer.  The project is supposed to be deployed in a week and as they get closer and closer, he has been working more, having lots of work to do from home, and is generally stressed.  While we are weathering it well, it has been hard.  And he has been pre0ccupied a lot of the time, so I feel like a lot of extra stuff has fallen on me to take care of.

The Good

My Yoga Instructor is the “good” right now (and really, pretty nearly hits The Awesome!).  I have been really impressed with how she has handled the flashback incident.  She told me that she didn’t know much about flashbacks and dissociation, and what has impressed me is that she is making an effort to learn more.  I have incredible respect for this and I was thinking about it after my last yoga session and then I had a thought…I wondered if she would find it helpful to talk to the AT about me and yoga and trauma….So I asked her if she would be interested in talking to him.  Not only did she say yes, but she did so in her usual thoughtful way.  It won’t happen until after the New Year as everybody’s schedule is wonky for the next couple of weeks…but it will happen.

The Awesome

Okay…here’s some Mom-pride.  🙂

I may have at some point mentioned that my kiddo is pretty bright. And he is just gobbling up everything he can at the University.  He is now double majoring and also tacking on a minor (or two).  He has an incredible zeal for learning…And it is fun to see him so engaged.

He got an email from one of his professors last week asking him if next fall, when the class is offered again, would ds consider being a Teaching Assistant for the class.  Ds was just thrilled, and of course, I was super proud too.  The day he got that email was also the day he submitted his term paper.

Yesterday, he got an email from that professor telling ds that not only was his term paper excellent, but that ds should submit a proposal to present his paper at the Classical Association of New England’s annual meeting/conference in March.  Not only that, but the submission date has passed, but his professor emailed the association and they are willing to accept ds’ proposal even if it is three weeks late!

Yup….Totally awesome.  And dh and I are just bursting with pride!

I don’t even care if his proposal gets accepted or not, it is just really nice to see someone recognize and value his work.  And if his proposal does get accepted….Well….That would be awesome too!

 

 

Thanks

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Thanks

Here I am…Thanksgiving morning, and I am doing okay.  I actually feel pretty good and have minimal anxiety.  I think I will survive this holiday! (And maybe even without lorazepam!)

I have been thinking this past week about what I am thankful for.  I think what I am most thankful for is the people in my life.  And I appreciate them and am thankful for them every day, not just on Thanksgiving.  But…today, I am going to stop for a moment and recognize them and why I am thankful for them.

  • Dh, my partner and best friend, who stands by me through it all and has never wavered in his love for me, his commitment to me, his support of me.  This man has seen it all and still pulls me into his arms and hugs me and tells me, “I love you.”
  • Ds, who is an amazing person.  Bright, funny, thoughtful, caring, resilient, independent and committed to what he believes in.  I truly enjoy the person he has grown to be. ❤
  • A, who has known me forever (since I was 15) and has seen me through so much and who has been a wonderful, grounding force in my life.  Plus, she has taught me, through example, more about being a mother than she probably realizes.  She is one of those friends who has helped me grow to be a better person.
  • L, who I have known for almost 20 years.  Our relationship has waxed and waned, but is still there.  She is a voice of reason and never afraid to share her opinion.  She is kind-hearted and generous and will always be there if I need her.  She also is a grounding force who can reel me in from my craziness.
  • SS, who likes me even though I am depressed.  She is the first “new” person in my life with whom I don’t have to hide who I am.  I am so thankful that she is willing to accept me as-is.  She is teaching me that it is okay to be open and real…And that we all have inner strength to get us through hard things.
  • My blog friends:  I had no idea when I started Rusty Pluck that I would end up with so much support and understanding from my blog.  My blog friends have helped me realize that I am not crazy.  Sure, I have mental illness, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that there is something wrong with me.  And they pop up with support in ways I didn’t expect…but that has been very meaningful to me.
  • The AT.  I’m not sure how to quantify all that I am thankful for about the AT…I think that I am most thankful that he is not going to give up on me, no matter what. And that he smiles every time he sees me. And that he sees something good in me and is not going to rest until I can see it too.  And that he is open and honest and thoughtful and imperfect….I appreciate his realness.  And I am exceptionally thankful that he took me on as a client, because I think he is the right therapist for me.
  • My PNP, who has been in my life for 5+ years now and has seen me through some very hard times.  Her support has been unwavering.  Her gentle manner and thoughtful insights have made a huge difference in my anxious world.  Plus, she understands me and she sees me a person first, not just a patient to be “managed.”  And I think what I am most thankful for is that she listens to me.  She doesn’t try to “fix” me with meds …She hears what I need and want and she tries to find pharmaceuticals to help me get there.
  • My Yoga Instructor.  Honestly, this relationship has really surprised me.  I am getting so much more out of yoga than I ever expected! And my instructor is an incredible person…she really is just amazing.  She is not only teaching me yoga, but she is teaching me how to be a part of my body, which is kind of a new concept to me.  She also is teaching me to like myself, and to appreciate my own exquisiteness…A slow process indeed, but after 6 or 7 months of it, I am starting to hear what she is saying without internally scoffing at the idea.  And I appreciate her willingness to take the time to connect with me and to take me as I am depending on the day and my mood.

Yup.  I have quite the crew of amazing people in my life for whom I am just exceptionally appreciative.

Now…on to the brass tacks of making it through today….Here’s how I see it: I can lorazepam my way through the day or….not.  I have a secret weapon though.  I am going to try to use humor to get me through the day. Humor and candy cane Tic Tacs…which I cannot think about without giggling.  I will explain more on that tomorrow as I have run out of blogging time for today.

 

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