Tenuous Improvement

It is possible that the edge has been taken off of my depression.  I always hate this part of relief from my depression, because I never know if it is actually going to last.  It is frustrating because I had felt such a substantial decrease in my depression over the past few months that this exacerbation has been really hard.  And…as I start to feel better, I am just waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Will I continue to feel better? Will I crash again?  How soon will I crash again?  It’s like I can’t have hope that feeling better may last.  I also think that the improvement is so delicate that it would take very little to push me right back down.

My PTSD was active again over the weekend, but not as bad as it had been.  One of my peers actually asked about it yesterday, and I felt really touched.  Like…she actually heard how much I was struggling and cared enough to check in with me about it.  It kind of made me all warm and fuzzy inside.

Grace would probably use that interaction to illustrate the point that connecting with people is good for me…But one positive interaction with one peer does not prove the point.  Mostly, I just can’t accept what my peers say as supportive.  I mean, I have been doing this group therapy stuff so long now that I have heard the support over and over again.  Lots of it is just words with no follow-through.  And at this point, the support just never makes me feel better.  So, why bother?  And Grace doesn’t listen to me when I tell her there’s no point in talking about my struggles in group.  She has some very strong ideas about me needing connection.  I have some very strong ideas about it too.  If you can imagine, our ideas are kind of at each end of the spectrum.

Truthfully, connection just doesn’t seem safe to me.  I don’t want to put myself out there, I don’t want to be vulnerable, I don’t want to be disappointed.  Shit…that’s probably just me stuck in old patterns and then reinforcing them with my stubborness fear of being disappointed and hurt.

Today, programming doesn’t start until 3. I am feeling the loneliness of the before-programming-time already and it is only 8:30.  This is the depression litmus test.  Either I will start to feel like shit or I will hold my own until 3.  I do have an errand to run because my nutritionist wants me to add some cookies into my meal plan.  Cookies!!!  I think she is trying to kill me via my anxiety!

Come to think, I have two little projects started (projects make me very happy) and maybe I can get a couple of supplies while I am out to keep working on them. I also have homework to do today…That will keep my mind occupied too.  I am working on my treatment challenges/goals/objectives for the next month and I also have three writing pieces to do: What is the status of my body image right now?, What do I need both internally and externally while doing trauma work? and How does denying I have needs keep me stuck?

Yikes!  So much processing to do.  It is overwhelming just writing it down.

Containment

I guess today is a post-therapy blog.

Therapy was….welll….therapy.  We always have to talk about feelings and stuff.  Ugh…and needs.  That every person has needs, which means I have needs, even if I don’t want to have needs.

And we talked about emotions and emotional flooding (being totally maxed emotionally, beyond the point of being productive.)  And we talked about containment.  Ways of containing the emotions by writing down a couple of words to ease the emotional overload, with the intent on going back to the trigger when one is no longer overloaded.  Or of writing what needed containing on an envelope and sliding it under Grace’s door for containment and returning too later.

And then that lightbulb went off in my head…..

The AT, an envelope, containment…This has happened before.  And it worked.  So, I have hope that it will work with Grace too.

Other than that, today has been tolerable. Having therapy this morning got me moving out of bed and into my day.  I am trying hard to not go back to bed.  Yesterday, I stayed out of my room most of the day.  It seems less isolating to be upstairs.  Plus, I have the dogs for company.  I cannot express how much it means to me to have these dogs in my life.  They may not be my dogs, but they do me a lot of good.

Now, I am going to make lunch.  I can feel a bit of the depression starting to settle around me, so I am going to keep busy and see if I can deter it for a while

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Struggling So Much

I feel like a failure.

I am not going to make it to  yoga this morning.  Saturday morning yoga is my favorite part of my weekly routine and the class has my favorite instructor.  And I am not going to make it because I spent 45 minutes trying to will myself out of bed to shower, get dressed, eat breakfast and be ready to go….And I couldn’t do it.  And now, it is too late to get my shit together and go to yoga.

What is wrong with me?  Why can’t I shake this depression?  It is not helping me at all right now…Although I don’t think depression ever actually helps.  But really, it is impeding my recovery process.  I suppose it is a good sign that I still care, because when it gets to a point that I stop caring about recovery, then I will know the depression is out of control.

I didn’t struggle with the PTSD episodes last night.  Last evening, I went grocery shopping with a peer.  I didn’t have a good time.  Last time I went out with this peer, I didn’t have a good time.  I think I will stop doing things like that with her.  She just is always distracted, texting, doing her own thing.  I mean, that’s all fine, but if you are going to do something with someone, it would be nice to actually spend time together, iykwim.

We were out through dinner time, a tactical error for me.  She didn’t care because she isn’t eating right now. I cared.  By the time I got home, it was over two hours after I usually eat.  I was fascinated by the fact that I wasn’t actually hungry.  (When you mess up your body with an eating disorder, you mess up  your body’s ability to cue you about hunger.)  I did eat.  I made myself some quick mac n cheese and had tomatoes dipped in salad dressing.  I am guessing my friend went home and ate nothing.

After that, I video chatted with dh for a while.

I don’t know if it was the being with people, or chatting with dh, or change of routine, but the Friday night PTSD torture did not happen and I am sooo relieved.

But now, here I am, in the depression hole. I have self-harm urges, passive suicidal ideation, emotional pain and no energy for initiation of anything.  I haven’t even gotten out of bed to pee.  And…now, I am going to miss yoga.  F.A.I.L.U.R.E.

I have spent some time this morning, as I have been trying to will myself out of bed, asking myself why I feel so depressed, why I feel like self-harming, why I feel suicidal ideation.  What purpose is this serving me right now?  I can’t come up with much.  The last two days of programming this week were kind of tough.  Yesterday, I did that me-in-the-group check in.  I also checked in about the use of eating disorder behaviors I have had this week.  That was hard…and didn’t really make me feel better.  We had a really hard discussion in our sexuality group on Thurs about trauma effects on sex and masturbation.  I shared something I had written about it on my trauma timeline, which was really hard to do.  (And despite my shame about what I had written…I had several peers thank me both during and after group for my candor and putting words to a hard topic and opening it up for people to talk about it.  Because as ashamed and embarrassed as I felt, I was in a roomful of people who had the same experiences and felt the same way.)  Sharing that probably pushed me farther into trauma stuff than I should have gone.

I don’t know…I feel scrambled as I am blogging…and there is so much more that I want to say, but I feel like I am not making much sense and this post is going to get too long if I say it all.  Wait…this is a time for bullet points.

  • I am still reeling from my therapist saying I probably need to be here another 8ish weeks.
  • I am concerned about our finances and how we will afford to keep me here that long.
  • My anxiety therapist did the Y BOCS II with me yesterday (an OCD assessment) and I scored really high…I am still trying to process what that means for me.
  • I think my PNP is worried about my depression.
  • I am supposed to go meet with peers at Starbucks this morning and I don’t want to go
  • I have started to lose my boundaries with the peer that I wanted to keep distance from because our relationship is unhealthy.
  • I am furious at my friend who is not eating.  I am trying really hard to be compassionate, but why does she get to not eat?  And why does she smirk and look pleased every time someone asks her about it/confronts her about it/or clinicians talk about it?  And is she just trying to kill herself? Is it attention getting behavior?  And when she restricts at our group meals, why aren’t they following their protocol about it?  WTF.  Everything about it makes me mad. Which probably means I need to just ignore it so it doesn’t interfere with my process.
  • My PNP really wants me to do something “sweet,” as in finding something I enjoy for self-care and lifting my mood some.  I don’t feel like I enjoy anything.  How can I find something “sweet”?

Okay…now I know I am rambling. I am going to drag myself out of bed and take a shower, take my meds, get dressed, eat breakfast and try not to crawl back into bed.

Actually, I think I can hear water running which means the woman I live with is showering.  It gives me an excuse to just stay in bed for a while longer.

 

 

Blackberry Cobbler

Woke up this morning and before I was fully awake, I thought I was home.  Dh loves toast and eats it alll the time.  (Seriously, he is a toast addict!)  So, the woman I am living with was already up and I could smell toast, so I think smelling toast as I was waking up transported me back home to the many mornings I would wake up to the smell of dh’s toast. It made for a rough start of the day.  Funny how a simple smell can transport me the 1160 miles to home.  I want to say I hate being here…but I don’t.  I need to be here to get better.  I can’t hate being here because that won’t help me.  But I would be much, much happier to be home.

Monday, among other assignments, my dietitian wanted me to make a blackberry cobbler.  I have been eating a lot of blackberries and she was concerned that I was being repetitive with my food.  (Really, it was because blackberries have been $1 a package…and unheard of price back home and I love blackberries, so I have been eating as many of the as I can!!!!!) I took up her challenge, bought a cute little Pyrex container and baked my cobbler.

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And then? I panicked. Because step two of making the cobbler would be to eat the cobbler. And I panicked.  I am sooo mad at myself.  Like it’s just a stupid cobbler, why can’t I eat it? Why does my brain go right to the fact that it is calories and that I can’t have extra calories?

See why I can’t hate being here? I still need to be here. As frustrating as that is to admit, I am not quite done my work here yet.  And I won’t be done any of the work when I go home, I know that.  But I need to be more consistent with the food.  I need to be able to panic over food and still eat it. Oh…right…the cobbler.  So, I ate one spoonful of it last night, just so I could say I had some. I am going to challenge myself by having cobbler for breakfast.  Because it’s just cobbler, right?  It’s just a fucking cobbler.

 

 

Shame and More Shame

So…First things first  The new therapist gets a name:  Grace. (note to self…update blog shorthand.)

I really chafed yesterday when Grace was telling me that I have issues in the group and with group dynamics.  I know she bases this on what I have said, so there must be truth to it…But I like to think that I know how to negotiate social stuff, so I am feeling a bit touchy about it.  I am feeling touchier about the fact that she wants me to check in with the group and talk about my struggles. And despite my trying to convince her that this is not necessary, she thinks that I should.

I struggle though, because I don’t think my issues in the group are that big.  One of Grace’s concerns is that I am not connecting with people in the group, as evidenced by my isolating a lot and turning down peer requests to get together.  What do I have to say to that?  I do have connections with a couple of people in the group.  Okay, literally with two of the dozen or so of us in the group.  They were folks who I felt really connected with in PHP and basically, it was a long week while I was in IOP and they were still in PHP.  But they came right after me and things are better.

The rest of the group?  One person is very quiet (like scary quiet) and rebuffs my every attempt to talk with her.  I even sit right next to her in groups and she hasn’t thawed at all.  Another peer, I cannot connect with anymore because our relationship was toxic in PHP.  Another peer has talked about connecting with me, but never follows through. Yet another peer appears really nice and seems really supportive, but she also sometimes comes across as forced with her insight and at times is passive aggressive.  Of the folks left, I don’t really know one and she is discharging soon anyway, one is a man that reminds me so much of my dad that it has been a huge barrier for me, and the other…She seems nice and genuine, but she intimidates me a bit and so I haven’t really approached her.

Plus there is the whole shame thing I feel after last week.  I am sooo embarrassed to be vulnerable in the group that it is not funny.  (This is probably why Grace wants me to talk about it.  Secret shame feeds shame. Outing shame decreases it.) What I really want to do is apologize for last week.  And say how stupid I was for being so reactive and so defensive. Yes, I can say that I was/am ashamed. But then all my peers will give me positive and supportive feedback and encouragement, and what will that do?  It’s not going to make me feel better. And actually, I will also get frank and blunt feedback, which also is not going to make me feel better.  It will just compound my shame.

Basically, I feel like I can’t win, so why bother?

And then there is the text I got last night.  I had been getting together frequently with a former treatment peer.  And the past two weeks, I haven’t been in a place to get together and haven’t been responding much to her texts.  Clearly, I hurt her feelings because she sent me this text, “I feel like you are ignoring me.  If you don’t want to talk to me, just tell me and I’ll leave you alone.”  So, now I have managed to alienate someone that I really like and enjoy spending time with.  I don’t even know how to respond to her…What can I say that will make it better? Like, I want to tell her that I have been so depressed that I spent most of the weekend in bed.  Or that adjusting to IOP has been really hard and I haven’t had much energy for anything else.  Or that I am just crashing emotionally and don’t have much mental space for getting together.  But all that is just excuses and there is no point in telling her.  And I am ashamed for being a bad friend and hurting her feelings and I don’t know how to fix it.

Ugh…Everything makes me feel ashamed/embarrassed/socially inept right now. I don’t know what is wrong with me.

The next question is; What do I do about all of this?  For the moment, I am just avoiding all of the group stuff.  Will I check in during group?  I am leaning towards no.  However, I respect the opinion of my therapist a lot so I am not sure.  And what will she think of me if I ignore her advice?  Will I try to connect more with people in the group?  That sort of feels like a recipe for more embarrassment, so again I am leaning towards no.  And my friend that I have now alienated…Do I try to fix that?

And do I acknowledge that all these interpersonal dynamics I am struggling with are important?  Because what I want to say (and have tried to convince Grace) is that I don’t need connection.  Her response has been, “Heidi, I haven’t met anyone yet that doesn’t need connection.”  My counter is, “Well, you hadn’t met me yet.”

Have I mentioned that I am really struggling lately?  Yup.  Life sucks right now.

Interpersonal Issues

Yesterday, a treatment friend and I got together to run a couple of errands.  As she was driving, she commented that she and some of my peers were concerned about me.  She explained that basically, she had been nominated as the one to talk to me about how I had not been myself and have been overly sensitive and defensive lately.  And that my level of defensiveness was akin to when they had been with me in residential treatment in July and August.

Ouch.

Of course, I have known that I am falling apart and been a miserable mess.  This isn’t news to me.  I just didn’t realize that it was showing up as me being super defensive.  Of course, her talking to me about it made me….Defensive.  But I tried really hard to listen to her because I know she was coming from a place of concern.  Basically, the whole rest of our errands, I tried not to burst into tears and I felt profoundly depressed and damaged. I also felt embarrassed and now I know everyone is watching me and every move I make is being filed away.

This morning, I had therapy which was hard.  I get tired of everything being hard all the time and I get tired of crying.  I do like my new therapist and I think I am adjusting to her. I think it might be easier to trust her than I expected.  I have mixed feelings about this as it doesn’t feel safe.  But she seems safe, so maybe I should just roll with it.

I also saw my dietitian and much to my relief, the appointment went really, really well.  I am so glad because I don’t know if I could handle much more upheaval.  Not only did it go well, but we discussed an issue I had regarding calorie counting over the weekend and she was very kind and compassionate and offered me an opportunity to do the next right thing…which I did.  We even ended the appointment with a hug! (She asked and I accepted.)

The rest of programming, I was hyper-aware of myself in the groups.  I was careful with what I said.  Oh…and I ended up having to present in a group, which I totally didn’t expect. (Someone else was supposed to present, but wasn’t prepared.)  I picked a nice safe piece to read, an optimistic piece, so that the feedback wouldn’t be stressful and so that I wouldn’t be put in a place where I would be defensive.  Was that the best choice?  I don’t think I’ll answer that.  Of course, I didn’t really have much else to share, so it kind of was what it was, iykwim.

My therapist seems to think that I have a problem interacting with/in the group.  She probably is basing this on things that I said and my behavior over the weekend…I have to think about it some because she wants me to check-in during a group about it, which I am loathe to do.  More on the group interaction issue tomorrow.  Tonight, I need to work on some homework before bed.

 

Maxed My Emotional Tolerance

Let’s just say that this week has not gone well.  Yesterday was another day where I just…well….You know, I don’t even know what my problem is.  But yesterday, I walked out of a group because I just couldn’t bear to have one more “teachable moment.”  I know that my interaction and coping skills are not perfect.  I’m trying to correct that, but at the moment, I just fumble and screw up and kind of try to figure out what works.  And some days go far worse than others.  But because we are in group therapy all the time, we have to talk about and process this stuff all the time.

Yesterday, I was pushed to say why I had been reactive to something a facilitator said rather than tell the facilitator that what I felt about what she said.  (Something akin to yesterday’s rant about the word “ridiculous” only this time, the person referred to something I was struggling with as me playing a “game”. Which hurt, because I was actually struggling….and it’s long and complicated and I don’t feel like hashing the whole situation out right now.)  So, I looked at the facilitator, and I thought to myself, “Why didn’t I tell her how I felt?  Because I can’t always do that, because that particular person intimidates me and I didn’t want to confront her, because I struggle with stating my feelings, because I am afraid of saying the wrong things (although that ship has long since sailed), because I was already overwhelmed and shutting down and unable to process.”  And all of those reasons let me to the conclusion that I hadn’t told her how I felt because I am a failure for not being able to do all the right things.  So, when asked why I had been reactive vs. telling her how I felt, I just crashed internally and said, “Because I suck.” and I got up and walked out of the group.

After crying for a little bit, I did go back and sat in the back of the room. And as I felt better, I moved back up to the group.

And now I feel utterly humiliated and like I made of fool out of myself.  I didn’t mean to crack under the pressure.  I didn’t mean to be rude and walk out.  But, OMG, I was sooo far past my max emotional tolerance….Seriously, I had nothing left. And it wasn’t just about yesterday.  I have been pretty much at my max for days.  Everything this week has basically been overly challenging and then I have had to process it and it has bee really, really hard.  So, the last group on a Friday afternoon?  I should have just kept my mouth shut and sat there.

I don’t think I can really relay the shame I feel.  Honestly, I am a breath away from packing all of my stuff up and driving home.  And I don’t mean that figuratively or as a drama statement…I just don’t know how else to cope.  I feel like I am not getting the support I need (as evidenced by multiple crash-and-burns this week as well as a serious mood plunge) and I don’t know how to get more support.  I mean, I can ask for more support, but I doubt that is going to make a difference.  But something isn’t working and I feel like it is making me emotionally worse.  I am not even holding my own…I am moving backwards.

So, why am I doing all this suffering here?  If I am not getting better, then I may as well just go home.  There’s no point to me staying here.  At least if I am home, I can be miserable with my own family and dogs and everything that is familiar.  I think it is worse being miserable here, I have nothing to comfort me.

Shit….this has been a bad week.