I Made It! and Sleep & Dreams

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I Made It!

I made it through the whole day of the Meet and Greet yesterday (8+ hours) and it went really well. I talked to dozens of people, negotiated dogs, chatted with small children and chatted with the other volunteers.  Dh an ds had the stamina to stay all day too.  It was actually pretty fun.  I have never posted pics of my doggers before…But here are my buddies.

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Yup…total balls of energy! 😉

We took both dogs to the Meet and Greet in the morning, but the black dog got too stressed, so dh zipped him home.  The white dog stayed for the whole day and was fawned over non-stop…She was in doggy heaven!

I made some dry biscuit mixes and donated them to be sold for the rescue.  They were an unbelievable hit and we almost sold out of them yesterday…Only four jars were left for selling today (the M&G is at a two day event). I’ll have to make twice as many for next year!

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There is a fundraising barbecue and shopping event for the rescue in October and I will again be making up these jars…Clearly, they are popular.

And…the best part of yesterday?  This little bit of awesomeness.

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Maple cotton candy. They spin it with maple sugar instead of cane sugar….I cannot properly describe how wonderful it is!  It is once a year treat and I totally look forward to it!!

The event was a good distraction from my mood…though, once we got home my mood came back along with the dark thoughts (suicidal ideation) and hopelessness. However, I am doing better so far today…so I am hoping I worked my way through that mood plunge.

Sleep and Dreams

Of course, I may be feeling better this morning because I finally slept some last night. After that busy day yesterday, and the lack of sleep from the prior few nights, I was in bed at 5 of 7 last night and slept for 11 hours! Yup….11!!!  Crazy, huh?  But I really needed the catch up.

And my dreams cooperated last night.  I did have dreams of children in danger and trying to rescue them and running through woods and snow and hiding in buildings with them.  And I dreamed about weird inappropriate adult/child relationships.  And I had some other dream about travelling and being lost…not knowing what the right road to take was. And another dream about work and the patients…But none of them were intense enough to be a nightmare for which I am incredibly relieved. I could use a few more nights without nightmares and then I would not be so an edge.  We’ll see what my brain allows.

Today is another busy day…Another outing requiring me to be social and visible, maybe a short get together with a friend and then I have to go back to the Meet and Greet and retrieve our tables that we lent them for the weekend. Oh…and the kind of apple we really like has just started picking at the orchard…So, I want to go pick some apples too.  Do ya think I am overly ambitious with my plans?

Sleep

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Sleep

I am terrified to sleep.  And I am exhausted from not sleeping well.  Last night, once I fell asleep, I did sleep deeply and though I know I dreamed, I can’t really recall what about….so that is a relief.  But I woke up at 3 and could not fall back asleep.  Partly this is because my worst dreams tend to be the ones closest to when I wake up, so I didn’t want to fall back asleep.  And partly because that is the pattern of my insomnia when I have it….I usually don’t lay awake for a long time in the evening…but the mornings are a different story.

The worst thing for my mood plunge is lack of sleep…I don’t think well or reasonably on little sleep.  I need to be very, very careful to not let my thoughts take me to scary places.  Of course, this mood plunge has already taken my thoughts to pretty dark places….And I also feel like I can barely function. And like I just want to sob all the time.

I am totally broken right now.  It doesn’t seem fair…I was doing really well…and then CRASH.  I don’t know what I ever did to deserve this punishment.  I hate being alive.

Randomness

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I don’t know what to write about today….My mind has been just full of scrambled, rambling thoughts…I stop and write them down…But then what do I do with them?  So….I am going to dump them here.  These are things I have written over the past few days, so they might have different aspects of my voice and are not necessarily connected.

Rambling

Lots of different thoughts are sitting deep in my mind…They are kind of like snow globes…I can see them and they are quiet…waiting.  But when I pick them up and give them a shake or two…they start whirling around and become chaotic.  I love snow globes.  Wouldn’t it be interesting if I could learn to love the thinking chaos?  Of course, it is rarely the thinking part that gives me difficulty…it’s that feelings part that jolts me and lets the snow globe slip out of my hands and shatter on the floor.  Shattered fragments of glass…scattered…Yes, feelings seem pretty dangerous to me.  But the Art Therapist keeps pushing and pushing about feelings….And rightfully so. I mean, that’s the whole point of therapy right?  I just wish I knew how to do it.

We talked about Mad towards the end of the session Monday….and the Art Therapist wants to talk more about it.  I think I can do it…but I know he will find some way to make it harder than I expect.  He challenges me a lot…Which wouldn’t be a problem, except when he challenges me…the things he says make sense, even though they don’t fit my schema.  And I can’t make them both fit at the same time, so I default to what I know. <sigh>  I don’t know…I keep saying that everything about the hardness of Art Therapy is about taking that leap of faith…But sometimes, my feet are just fused to the ground and it doesn’t matter how hard I try, I can’t move them.  I guess that is fear.  Fear of the unknown, fear of being hurt, fear of feeling.

I told the AT that I don’t like Mad because if I look at it closely, I would have to figure out what I am mad at. And I don’t want to do that.  If I really look at what I am mad at, I will have to face why I am mad and then all those other feelings will come out in a landslide, just crushing me in the rush.  I can’t feel those feelings.  I cannot let myself go there.  The whole point of not feeling them was to protect myself…How can I feel them now?  Doesn’t that mean that I am no longer protecting myself?  I don’t know…I used to not feel the feelings to protect myself from what was going on around me…to survive.  But now, I think I am protecting myself from the feelings…There is a subtle but qualitative difference there.  I don’t know when it changed.  And I don’t know what to do with that knowledge.

I don’t know…I am just sort of trying to figure out how things work and fit together…If they even do.

You know, I don’t think I hated myself once yesterday.  And I haven’t wished I was dead in probably 5 days….Without those thoughts in my head…It is like I have more space for this other stuff.  I could almost handle life without the mood yo-yo.  I wish I knew if it was going to last…Past experience says no, that I will crash.  But the lamictal, the l-methylfolate, those might actually being making a difference in my brain.  And allowing the thinking space.  Add the calm I get from the yoga and maybe I have enough things swinging in my favor right now that I can keep my head above water.

This much I am sure of…I am in a better place right now than I was in February when I started with the AT.  That is more than I expected would happen…I had sort of written myself off and Art Therapy was my last ditch effort at saving myself.  So far, my tenacity is paying off.

Talking to dh about my depression

I am getting better at talking to dh about my depression and depression related needs.  I never used to talk to him about it.  Not that he didn’t know, he knew I was depressed and about the PTSD and that I went to counseling for it…But I never talked about it.  I was sure that it would drive him away.  Who wants a crazy, depressed partner?  Plus, I didn’t want to burden him with it…I didn’t want him to worry about me.  But I have been trying to be more open and since starting with the AT, I have been much more open with dh.  I suppose, after being together for some 22+ years, I ought to extend him a little trust, eh?

Dh and I have talked in little bits here and there, but we have also had some really long, more involved discussions…One was about suicide and I told him about my thoughts about why I would kill myself and what I would do to prevent myself from killing myself if I thought I was truly suicidal and how sometimes it just hurts to be alive…so much so that killing myself seems like the only relief.  We had another talk while picking blueberries a couple of weeks ago about the AT and Art Therapy and some art I had done as a child and my old art journals….It was nice to just talk it out with dh.

I still worry sometimes that I say too much…But dh has made it abundantly clear that he is here for me and wants to support and help me and that he loves me just the way I am.  He doesn’t seem to want to run away from my issues…So, I keep talking.  Plus, dh reads my blog…So, he has a starting point for conversation as well which I good.  Sometimes, I need a little nudge to get going.

That Appointment Last Week with my Physician

The doctor did not give me another PHQ-9, instead she just cut right to the quick and asked me about suicidal ideation and self-harm.  (This must be the most important part of the PHQ-9 for her.)  I tolerated her questions and answered them.  She seemed to have been somewhat reassured by her phone conversations with the AT and my PNP, which is good.  You know what I did tell her?  I told her, “I am 90% sure that if I did feel like I was actually going to kill myself that I would ask for help.”  She seemed to like that answer. She also made a clear point of saying that she is available if I need her and that I can always call.  So, that gives me three options for asking for help…And really, I have four because when I had my suicide discussion with dh, he was also very clear that he wants to me to tell him if I need help.

And that left-over 10%?  That’s the part that scares me…Because I can imagine being in a place that I feel so hopeless and so dark that I will just not care enough to ask for help.  Hopefully, I am moving farther and farther from that possibility, so it won’t be an issue.

Selecting the Art Therapist

When I started Art Therapy in February, I was desperate.  I was beyond the end of my rope…I had just thrown away my stockpile of pills (“Suicide in a Bottle” was what I called it.) because I was scared for myself because of myself.  Would I have really killed myself?  I guess not…since I made the choice to get rid of the pills…but the fact that I had to get rid of them because they were so tempting…Well, that was a pretty dark place. I must have done that the week or so before I started with the Art Therapist….Honestly January and February were so bad that the timeline just blurs…All I really remember was unrelenting snow and 60 miles each day commuting on ice and snow covered roads.

My desperation led me to cold-calling for a new therapist.  Cold-calling is not my style.  Heck..I hate making phone calls period…much less cold calling therapists.  I had seen an employment ad for a therapy group in the City that had a position open for a new therapist and I read over the ad and thought, “That looks like the kind of place that would have good therapists.”  I went to their website and browsed through the therapists’ bios.  There are lots of choices there…I think 10ish therapists, but I was drawn to the Art Therapist because of the art aspect.  I was tempted to skip over him because he is a man. So, I googled other Art Therapists in the area, of which there are very few.

So, I put some time into researching the AT.  He has his bio in several different places…Each bio ever so slightly different (tailored to the audience of the websites)…and I liked what I read.  And then of course, I used the Heidi litmus test…I looked at his picture.  I can usually tell just by a picture if a person is going to work out for me.  Yup, he passed that test too.  It took me a few days to wrap my head around calling him…but I put on my big girl pants and made the awful call and left him a message.

And he didn’t call me back.

I was still working then, and was out of the house for about 11 hours a day and had given him pretty tight parameters for a return call.  But he hadn’t called.  I almost wrote him off.  The last time I started with a new therapist, it took me 6 calls  to different people before I could find a therapist accepting new clients…And some of them just plain never called me back.  (And none of those were cold calls…All of those were referred by the therapist I as leaving.)

After about a week…I was left with two choices.  Find someone else and cold call again…..Or put the big girl pants back on and call the Art Therapist again.  Neither choice thrilled me.  But I figured I would feel just as awkward calling the AT a second time as I would cold calling a different person.  So, I called him. And left a message again.

And…he called me back.

High Anxiety Already Today

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High Anxiety Already Today

Today is an insanely busy day.  I don’t know what I was thinking, but I have booked myself three health appointments (AT, doctor and nutritionist).  I am sort of dreading the doctor’s appointment.  I bet she is going to give me another one of those mood screens (PHQ-9) and then she’ll want to talk about it, and then she’ll ask me those probing questions about suicidal ideation and self-harm.  Ugh.  I don’t have that kind of relationship with my doctor. I like her. I trust her about stuff…but my personal psych stuff?  That belongs with the Art Therapist and my PNP. I just don’t have that same kind of relationship with my doctor.  And actually, I saw my PNP yesterday…and guess what she spent a lot of time asking me about?  Yup, suicidal ideation and self-harm.  I know why everyone wants to talk about it…but sometimes I get tired of being honest about my feelings all the time.  Sometimes, it would just be easier to lie.  (Luckily, I have to too much integrity to lie, and I also know it would not be helpful to me in the long-run.)

I don’t know…sometimes I just get tired of feeling exposed and vulnerable.

Speaking of tired…I feel like that kidnapper/sex dream is still giving me angst.  I don’t feel like I am sleeping well and I know I don’t feel as secure at night anymore.  And I have had to sleep with my stuffed rabbit this week…and I haven’t had to sleep with her in months and months.

And speaking of triggers….I have to spend hours with my parents tonight and I am soooo dreading it already.  I have done a fantastic job of minimally interacting with them this month…It has been very good for me.  However, tonight I have to assist them with an evening medical appointment in the City. Which means I will probably have to spend about….4-5 hours with them.  (Travel time, hospital registration, two+ hours at the hospital.)  I hate being the “good” daughter.  I am not up to doing this tonight….And I soo do not need to be triggered right now.  (Especially before the weekend.)  This has high potential for being a lorazepam evening…Not that it will help with the triggering, but it will help with the anxiety, which is already ramped up.

Now, I feel grumpy.  I think today is going to suck.

Mask of Normalcy

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Mask of Normalcy

Yesterday was a bad day.  Today is not shaping up much better….

Yesterday, I came the closest to cutting that I have been in a very long time….I just needed to turn off the pain.  And I decided that I don’t care anymore.  I am not sure what the point to trying to get better is if it never works.

I also was full of suicidal ideation yesterday….Dark thoughts, dark ideas….Losing focus of the point of living.  I mean, what is the point if I am constantly in pain?  I don’t want to live like this for the rest of my life.  Sometimes, suicide just seems like the most humane thing to do.

But then, I know it is not the right thing to do for my family. And if I can just keep my shit together so that I look okay on the outside, then it doesn’t matter what I feel like on the inside.  So, I will paste on my mask of normalcy and keep going…just dying inside slowly.

Except, yesterday, I wasn’t doing so well at faking it and dh noticed.  He misread my vibes and thought I was mad at him….And he tried to talk to me.  And I couldn’t talk about it and tell him that it was bad day.  Actually, I couldn’t even look him in the eye because I was afraid I would just burst into tears.  And I sat there berating myself for not reaching out and asking for help….And for having my stupid hang-up about crying.

I guess it doesn’t matter anyway.  Like I said, I will put on that mask of normalcy and hope that I do a better job today of keeping what is inside in.  I have to funnel all my energy into faking it….I’d better not waste any with feelings.

Down and Monday at 8

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Down

Yesterday started off really rocky, that teary thing just shadowing me all morning and dark thoughts too…I don’t like it when my thoughts go to those places…Hopelessness and emptiness.  By late afternoon, I was just exhausted and burned out.

I seem to be transitioning onto the Lamictal with no ill effects.  I keep this current dose until the 14th then go up to 40 mg.  I don’t know when the dose starts to be therapeutic.  It will be interesting to see if/when it starts to help with the mood roller coaster.

Monday at 8

A friend recently asked me how starting my week with therapy was working out.  Maybe in her mind, 8 a.m. on Monday morning is an ambitious appointment time.  I gave her a nothing kind of answer, something to the effect that starting my week with therapy is fine.

In my head, I was thinking about how I feel awful all of the time…It doesn’t matter when therapy happens, it’s not like it adds to my “suffering.” I live with the whirlpool in my head all the time. Even though therapy is really hard and can stir me up, I find it a grounding and safe place to be.  In therapy, the Art Therapist treats me like I am normal.  What better way to start the week than to be in a safe place where I am accepted for who I am and where I don’t have to constantly worry about guarding myself against judgment and rejection?

8 a.m. Monday therapy?  It’s a great way to start the week.

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