I’m not sure I have much to say today. I feel like bursting into tears. And I am tired because I was awake between 3:30 and 4:15 (ds got up and went to the bathroom at 3:30 and when he closed his door it startled me awake) and then I was up for good at 4:50. I felt irritable the second half of Saturday and all day yesterday and I might still be irritable this morning. I have AT and I am feeling frustrated about not making more progress. I work today, but have not idea of how long (she never tells me ahead of time…Could be for 3 hours, could be for 7 or anywhere in between). And it is pitch black out and cold with some snow. And the dogs are nagging me for breakfast, but it isn’t time yet.
Yup…It’s very possible that I might be grumpy on this Monday morning. It’s likely that will level off some as I get moving and have some breakfast. And I won’t/can’t be grumpy at work, so I will have it under control by 9:15. I can be grumpy at Art Therapy, but it’s kind of counter-productive, so hopefully, I will have it under control by 8.
K…Best way to combat grumpiness? Cuteness! Here’s a picture of the little dog under the tree waiting for Santa. ❤
Death at Work
Yesterday at work, the last patient I saw was dying. If she is lucky, she will be dead by Monday….If not, I hope that it will be soon after that…She is a very nice woman who has metastasized cancer invading her brain. And she is aware of her rapid physical and mental decline…It was very sad. The one benefit of working per diem is that I am not there frequently enough to develop strong attachments to the patients…So it makes it a little easier when they die…Especially because there is no time allowed at work to mourn the losses.
When I worked full-time, about one out of every half dozen or so of the deaths would hit me hard. Honestly, many of the folks are so near the end of life, or have had such declines in quality of life with no chance of getting better and for them, death is really and truly the best thing. And many of them want to die…not in a suicidal kind of way, but they are ready to die and ready for leaving this world. But it is still hard when you have developed a relationship with someone and with their family.
Two summers ago, I did some work for a nursing agency and I was working as a personal caregiver. One of the things they asked me was what I thought about working with hospice clients…And the woman who asked said that it was something she would never be able to do. I didn’t bat an eye and I told her it would not be an issue for me at all. I have lots of experience with death and dying from my “real” job (I was on a hiatus from my “real” job at that point and that is why I was working with the agency.) Not only have I supported the patients, but I have been there and seen how death impacts families…how they deal with the imminent death of their loved one, and their tears after….And I have hugged them and mourned the loss with them. Death and hospice work…It’s just another part of life. It doesn’t scare me, it doesn’t bother me…and honestly, there is something about that kind of work that seems sacred…and a privilege to be a part of.
As I type this, I am thinking of some of the deaths at work that impacted me….Some were because of the genuine loss of the person. Some were because of the kindness family extended to me and some were because of the beauty of the death. And I think I will always carry those moments with me.
I dunno…I’m not sure why I am dumping this today on my blog…Must be it needed saying.
Therapy & Work.
Excited about therapy. (Yup…you heard that right!) I feel like I have turned a corner since Monday, so I am ready for the next step. Welll…it might have to be a baby step (there’s only so much I can handle!)….but I am ready!
Not excited about work. Especially since a couple of patients I really liked died over the weekend. Occupational hazard when you work in geriatrics….People die quite frequently.
Yoga was great yesterday. She challenged my body in ways that I was sure I would not be able to do, but I did them! Yay me!
I also took some time before we started with the yoga to touch base with the Yoga Instructor about the issues I have been working through (depression, anxiety, ptsd) and that I was hoping yoga would be another helpful modality for me. (I just want to point out that that was super brave of me.) And she was, as always, kind and thoughtful in her response.
Hmmm…maybe this courage thing is starting to sink in!! Or…as I said recently, I do hard things. I just never realized that meant I am courageous!!!
A Little Book
I made a little book yesterday…Just something simple…but I have an idea in mind as to using it for/in Art Therapy.
Yesterday was one of those rollercoaster mood days. I was beside myself with anxiety in the morning…Dh wanted me to go to the UU service with him and I couldn’t bear the idea of going to the City and being at the service and seeing the people. Plus, we didn’t make it to the grocery store on Saturday, so we desperately needed to go yesterday. But going to the grocery store after UU meant that it would be super crowded and busy. Add to that the fact that I didn’t want to disappoint dh by skipping the UU service… I was so distraught and anxious that my heart was pounding and my hands were shaking and I was pretty much ready to collapse in tears.
It was an ugly, ugly start to the day.
So, I cheated and popped a lorazepam. And by the time we got to the UU, my nerves had settled. We got there early and dh showed me the labyrinth on the side lawn and dh and I walked the labyrinth. I was still a bit nervous, and felt kind of exposed out there…there were a lot of people around. But it was somewhat soothing to walk the labyrinth.
The UU service turned out to be very uplifting for me. I enjoyed the music, the sermon, the familiarity of the congregation (we have attended the UU before, just not in several years.) Add to that the mellowing from the lorazepam and I was able to survive our trip to the grocery store without any real anxiety…although I was a bit overstimulated from the sheer number of people in the store!
All in all…the day was not too bad.
Today is therapy Monday. I am ambivalent about going…I don’t like that therapy is so hard!!! But I seem to be handling the challenge pretty well these days, so I can take what he throws at me.
Usually, I work on Mondays too…but they hired a traveler temp and it looks like I have lost my Monday per diem hours.
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.
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!
Mandala Day 5
Yesterday was not a good day for me. I woke up feeling pretty anxious and by the time it was time to go to work, I was pretty much beside myself with anxiety and felt like bursting into tears. Staying home from work was not an option, so I quickly debated if being at work would improve my state of mind or aggravate it and if I needed a lorazepam. Of course, by sheer bad luck, I was also running late yesterday morning…so that had ramped my anxiety further. I decided that it probably would be most humane to just take a lorazepam. And I think it was a good think I did.
Work was okay, I held myself together with no problems, but as soon as I got out of work, I felt all edgy and tense and irritable and beyond exhausted… like every ounce of energy had been sucked from my body. I guess holding myself together at work was actually taking a lot more effort than I realized! (Which is probably often the case.) My job is physically, intellectually and emotionally demanding…So, when I have to work to keep myself together and then interact and be supportive with the clients….well…It’s a huge drain on my reserves!
The extra hours I am putting in are probably not helping any either. I did sign up for a bunch of extra hours this week….but am thinking maybe next week I will back off a bit. Of course, it is hard, because the money is super helpful, especially since I have been working so little for the past several months. But part of my anxiety yesterday morning was about going to work. I don’t know….I don’t know how to make it all work. It seems like for me, there is a very delicate work/life balance to keep from getting more overwhelmed and depressed…and I haven’t quite figured out the balance. And I also have to fit in the fact that we do need me to have some income, so in some ways, I don’t have a choice about work.
Work was hard yesterday, I was unable to shake the detached feeling and spent the day feeling pretty fake as I interacted with people. I also felt myself kind of zoning out during the quiet times when I was with people. Not that I was mentally absent, I was still able to attend to what I needed to and respond to people appropriately, but I just was drifting a few layers away between moments when I actually needed to be right there.
It has been an interesting week at work. Though there is an opportunity for me to return to work on a permanent basis, I think that it would really be a poor choice for me. I see all the same issues that used to frustrate the hell out of me, and it is the same boss who used to frustrate the hell out of me and I am wanting to take better care of myself and I don’t think taking a daily dip in the high stress environment is going to help me on my quest for better mental health. Maybe it will be different in the future, if I can starting with a solid base (not depressed/anxious), but for now, I think it would lead to a pretty quick downward spiral.
So, I will continue with my on-call status and pick and choose how much exposure I allow myself. And who knows, maybe someday I will actually feel well enough to go back full-time.