Monthly Archives: June 2014

I don’t want it

For the first time in forever, I don’t want therapy to happen tomorrow.  I don’t want to say goodbye.  This isn’t the right time.  I can’t get the feeling that she is dying out of my chest.  I know the feeling is not her, it’s K, but right now it feels like her.  And I hate it.  I spent the better part of today in bed; the better part of the last few weeks triggered and startling at everything.  I don’t want to go to sleep because that means tomorrow is closer.  I want to slow down time.  I want to stop it in that moment before she goes away.  So many I have trusted have left my life.  It sucks.  And it’s terrifying.

I don’t have plans for tomorrow after session’s up, but I may go to the beach if I get paid by then.  I have plans for Wednesday evening because I know it will be difficult knowing the time she leaves the office for good.  I have plans for Thursday & Friday because I know I will need the support.  I wish the MeetUp group that had a meetup on Sunday wasn’t holding it at a nude/clothing optional beach.  Maybe if I wasn’t so triggered I could go, but right now it wouldn’t be a good idea even though all the guys in the group are safe… I would need to carpool, and that would mean no escape when I get triggered, no safe place to hide and ground and escape from it all.

I really hope the new clinician calls soon…

Self Harm is Real- Originally for Recover Your Life

no energy

I don’t know. I don’t have energy anymore… depression sucks.

I can’t get out of my own way (again?!)

I didn’t sleep well last night.  I am feeling very lost and needy today, but without energy to do anything about it.  I want a magic pill or wand or spell or something to make this all better.  I don’t know how to do anything about it.  I had enough energy to get out of bed, dressed, take the dogs out, and feed them. Then back to bed.  I know I have a huge list of coping skills De gave me again yesterday, but I can’t settle on any one to do.  I pick up my art, and stare at the blank page. I want to go out to the beach, but I don’t have the parking money.  I don’t want to watch tv or talk on the phone (my head hurts).  I didn’t even make coffee this morning.  I want someone or something to distract me, but I don’t have that at the moment.  Tears keep falling from my eyes, but I don’t want them to.  They are falling for all the wrong reasons.  I wish I could just sleep. I wish my head would shut up, and I could move on from this… I hate everything right now, and I’m so incredibly tired.

More insomnia again

Feels like the story of my life.  It’s 4 am and I’m still not sleeping. My anxiety is high and I suddenly don’t remember how to deal with it. The stupidest little things trigger me. I startle at any sudden noise. I just want to cry, but I can’t seem to. I keep going through the basic grounding De reminded me of today: I’m an adult.  It’s 2014. I’m 35 years old. We have 4 dogs in the house. I am free to leave at any time, for any reason or length of time… I’ve gone through this list close to 3 dozen times tonight. My head still is not stopping. I can’t shake the feeling of being a kid. I can’t get the memory of the anger out of my head. I’m trying to just breathe, but unless I’m totally focused on it, I forget to breathe. Back to the list: I’m an adult. It’s 2014. I’m 35 years old.  I’m married to L. I can leave the house any time I want, I’m free to come and go as I please. We have 4 dogs. It’s 2014.  I’m an adult… but then I forget to breathe, so back to concentrating on my breath. I do that again for too long and I need to ground again… sleep doesn’t fit into this equation at the moment. I wish it would. I keep yawning. My eyes are tired, my head is tired. But I close my eyes and I’m 14 again. So they fly open once more. Will this cycle end? Can I maybe get some sleep tonight?
Just breathe. Gotta remember to breathe…

it’s almost here

Today was my second to last appointment with De.  I’m glad I wrote stuff for her to read before, because I couldn’t figure out how to say what I needed to while I was there.  She walked me through some ideas on how to deal with the down time (though it wasn’t quite what I had hoped. I had wanted to make up a schedule and things that I am expected to do, but she just left it at a coping skills list and I wasn’t able to say that I had hoped for more).  Then she indulged me by showing me my chart.  I pretty much knew what would be in there, but I needed to hear it from her.  My head sometimes comes up with things even though I know that it would be unlikely.  She showed me the intake, copies of the handouts she had given to me, the checklists she had to complete, the assessments we had done, and she read some examples of the notes she had written.  She asked if it was what I had expected. I told her I figured it was that kind of stuff, and that the notes would be as vague as they were because it’s pretty much standard across agencies for confidentiality reasons.  It gave enough info to convey what we had done, but not enough to give away too much information should any records be summoned to court (they are the county sexual assault services center as well as a child protective services branch, so records often go to court, lawyers, police, etc).  They are also audited by the national accreditation agency, and supervisors see the files.  I knew there would be no judgement either way, just objective statements, but I needed to hear that.  My head had been getting too loud with the negative judgements I have towards myself.  It was getting mixed up with what I knew she would be writing…

She also told me that she had spoken with the clinical director at the new agency. She was able to give a better picture than just the intake would, and she said she advocated for me getting someone who “is not scared of self-harm” and someone who would not switch over again before I moved.  From what she told me, she gave a pretty accurate picture of what we had done, what has been helpful, and what some of my obstacles are.  Because I have been so caught up on “I should know better” lately, she made it a point to convey that, while I have a background in all this and I can be pretty insightful, it does not mean I necessarily know how to apply it to myself.  I’m really appreciative of that, because it’s so hard to explain to a clinician that yes, I can spout all this theory, insight, and planning, but I can’t always implement it… and it makes me feel like crap. If I’m so good at this with others, why the heck can’t I figure shit out for myself?!  De was gentle in reminding me all clinicians are actually human also. We have our struggles and weaknesses.  We have our bad days (or in my case, bad decades). And we all reach out for help at some point either because we are stumped about a client or about our own lives.  I guess it’s along the same lines of MD’s sometimes needing to seek out medical attention from someone else. :sigh: If I could figure out/remember how to fix myself in the moment, I certainly would…

Anyway, she asked if there was anything else I wanted to cover.  I told her I had “wanted to show her some more art, but…” She offered to go the full hour, and I was able to say that I didn’t necessarily want to talk about any or all of it.  She still expressed interest, so I handed her the newer art journal.  It wasn’t as full as the WTJ, but still had stuff I wanted her to see.  I wished we had time to talk about it because some of it came up after a difficult session last week.  I guess that will have to wait to be talked about with someone down the line, I’m just not sure who and when because it’s still very raw and vulnerable and very much wrapped up in the past.  I’m not sure I can go into some of that stuff with someone else anytime soon (though it is something that is with me daily).  I just don’t know if I want to take that risk again knowing that whomever I end up seeing at this agency will definitely be time-limited to only a few months.  It’s too raw to be able to trust enough to go into in such a short time-frame…

We wrapped up… she reminded me Tuesday will be our last session… I know.  trust me, I know.  Part of me wishes she had asked why my answer was what it was when she asked how I felt about the upcoming break in services. Part of me is happy I didn’t have to go there with her… I really need to be able to figure out how to say goodbye by Tuesday.  I had written something out, but I don’t think it says what I want it to. I at least have the weekend to mull it over and try to come up with something better.  I did write to her asking to not let me leave on Tuesday without being able to say goodbye though…

There’s freedom in telling

This is something I have been thinking about on and off for years. I have been of the belief that, for myself, I need to be able to tell my trauma in a safe environment. I need to be able to speak about it, to share it, to not carry it alone anymore.
Recovery from traumatic events is a very individual and personal experience. I understand the drive to have empirically based evidence that suggests a particular treatment works (especially if it’s expensive), but I also understand that recovery is not the same for everyone. Some people need to talk about it, some people benefit from the behavioral interventions, some people need to focus simply on the future.  I think when we limit the options for treatment, we limit the chance of recovery. There was a recent article on about the VA system and how it continues to fail soldiers. They cited a lack of empirical evidence on best practices as one of the major problems. I think a greater issue is the lack of client-centered treatment.
When we try to fit all consumers into one tidy little recovery box, we miss a lot. I have tried dbt seven times.  I have failed it with catastrophic results all seven times. No matter how I protest the concept of that particular treatment for myself, clinicians and treatment providers always fall back to it saying that I “just wasn’t in the right mind-set for it”. If I were to approach them with a similar history of failed treatment that was not the “popular” one, I would be reprimanded for stubbornly trying something that has clearly not worked. Not only had it clearly not worked, but it has threatened my life every time. So why is it ok for clinicians to keep suggesting it to me? Because this is the accepted treatment modality for many of my symptoms. They no longer think outside the box of what is dictated by insurance. We are losing the creative approaches to meeting the client where they are at, and that is ending very badly for a lot of people.
My ideal situation would be trauma treatment (or any treatment) that is catered to the individual.  If things work for the person, great, let’s keep doing it.  If things don’t work, let’s wreak our brains trying to find something that does. There is no reason so many people should be failed by the system. We have research, we have experience, and we have smart people out there who can figure out how to make things work. Sadly, money talks, and it’s rarely open to backing “unproven” or unconventional methods. I’d be screwed if I had an addictions problem because so much of it is based on AA. That would be incredibly triggering and unwelcoming to me and I would fail. They would blame it on resistance, and label me impossible… they’d never once look at the fact that I react strongly and negatively to any talk of a god or higher power. They would simply say I don’t care enough about my recovery. We need to change the way we look at recovery on all fronts if we are going to be able to be successful in healing the hurt in so many people.

It gets better…

Not my art, but oh so very accurate to how I feel so often when I hear that sentiment…

How many times can people look down on us from solid ground and tell us “it gets better” as our grip slips and the dirt we are holding onto crumbles? I understand the sentiment, but unless you’re going to grab onto me to try to haul me up, don’t tell me it’s going to get better…

On a somewhat related note; I had a major anxiety attack over something I had not decided upon. It was very urgent and decisive and scary. I talked it out with someone, and I think the feeling originated from the lack of professional support I’ll have around this upcoming anniversary. I had pegged it as difficult back when thoughts about it surfaced over a month before. It seemed as if the same day I voiced these concerns to De, she decided to change jobs (with her last day being 5 days before said anniversary). I know it probably has little to do with me, but her departure is impacting me in a really big way at the moment. I wish the waiting list for the new clinic wasn’t so long. I wish the holiday wasn’t so close to the anniversary. I wish I still had some support around it. But that’s not life at the moment and I’m going to have to deal. I know it likely gets better, but right now I feel like the little guy hanging off the edge with my fingers quickly losing their grip while everyone else watches from the distance and tries to assure me everything will be ok… everything at the moment does not feel ok or settled or like it’s going to get better. Everything feels like it’s constantly falling apart. I have moments of breathing room, but they are quickly over-taken by moments of panic and hopelessness. Hell, just 45 minutes ago I assured L everything was ok, and now I’m back to panicking. Maybe I should make little ice cream sandwiches with my chocolate chip cookies from the grocery store. That will give my head something else to focus on while I pass the day. When did days get so tedious? When did I go from enjoying the time I had to explore and watch tv and go to the beach, to begging for the minutes to go faster so I can get through to night time, so I can get through that to the next day, and so on? I seem to be living desperate for some emotional peace and security, yet finding none. I hold my breath for my next therapy appointment because it feels safe there. I won’t have anything to hold my breath for come Tuesday, and that’s terrifying. My appointments with De have been my reason to get out of bed, to take a shower, to keep waking up (or trying to sleep). She had been my replacement for L lately, and now that’s going too :/ I hope we can come up with something resembling structure for after our last session… and I really hope that, if De does not think it’s too pushy, she can help me call the new agency and bump me up on the list a bit, maybe? I dunno. Someone else suggested it. I’m not big on asking for stuff like that, but I also know the days around July 7th will suck.

what’s behind this?

Ok, so I know I have the connection of taking psych meds one day and being outrageously cranky the next.  My wife has noticed this, I have noticed this… But now it’s happening even with the Benadryl.  I have taken Benadryl for 2 nights in a row, and for 2 days in a row, I have been outrageously cranky.  Things that do not normally bother me have me ready to scream.  I really dislike this.  So what’s in these meds? What triggers this response in me?  It seems anything with a sedative effect triggers extreme anger in me.  I don’t like this. :/


Depression is so incredibly tiring. I took benadryl last night to help me sleep.  It had me in a fog for the better part of 20 hours after taking it. Medications don’t work for me. Nothing helps this. I don’t know what else to do. I’m about to hit that lag time between my current therapist and whomever I will see after. I don’t know what to do with myself. The only reason I have gotten out of bed in the last 2 weeks had been therapy (because there was accountability and a brief moment of safety from even my thoughts, because she was safe to sit with). I’m so tired of all this.  I’m tired of investing myself.  I’m tired of trying. I’m tired of trusting. I’m tired of hurting. The pain is not anything I can adequately describe.
I never thought I’d be on this end of things. I used to be able to handle changes, even relish them. Now I want to hide away from it all. I never thought I’d need this much help getting through everything.  I had always thought I’d be helping others with their struggles. But now mine swallow me up whole… my chest feels like it’s going to cave in at any minute. There’s a black hole smack in the middle of my ribs, and it’s sucking all the life out of me. I’m so tired of this…

therapy today

would it be bad of me to let her know I lied? I’m not sure what I want to accomplish by telling her… Maybe it’s just that lying to her is not sitting well with me. this ending is really kicking my ass.  I’m spiraling out, and I don’t know how to get a grip from it. other endings have not sucked this bad. I don’t know what to do with it. When I try to talk to her about it, she just tells me that she is sorry it’s so hard, and that I need to separate it from the other loss in which it’s so entwined. only, I don’t know how to do that…

Awkward intake

Had my intake at the new agency today. It was really awkward. The clinician doing it was very difficult to talk to. It didn’t help that I kept getting confused, and couldn’t remember the date even after writing it on about 6 pages… the wait time also went up to 2-3 weeks instead of the one week the guy mentioned over the phone. I don’t know if I want to keep doing this…

Smiling for the outside world, and all it’s drawbacks

Many of us are taught to “smile” and “put on a brave face” when dealing with the outside world.  We are taught this by our family of origin, by friends, heck, by the internet (I can’t even count the number of “inspirational” posts I came across this morning on Facebook that mentioned something along the lines of smiling on the outside even when you’re breaking on the inside).  Even clinicians will tell you to focus on the positive.  There is merit to this.  It can be helpful to pull one out of a depressive plunge, it can balance some of the more negative concepts that may be floating around the murky waters of our thoughts.  The problem comes however, when we are so worried about showing any hints of cracks in our armor that we wall it off without ever showing anyone our weakness.

I know this is a big problem for me much of the time.  I function with a smile on my face and genuine concern for others even when there’s an enormous black hole in my chest.  I do it so much, I have a lot of trouble showing that “weakness” even when I am supposed to be allowed to do so.  I don’t know how to express the level of emotions I feel because I am so used to suppressing them.  When I do attempt expressing the intense level of chaos going on inside, no one gets it because they rarely see me in that place (some people have never seen me in that head-space before, so they are confused by my seemingly “together” presentation as I tell them I’m falling apart. I also get a very big grin when truly nervous, something I have no control over. If my anxiety is high, and I need to say something disturbing, it is said with a stupid, huge, and anxiety-filled smile that tends to throw people off, making them think I am lying or being manipulative. In reality, it’s just a weird reaction to anxiety).  I have yet to figure out how to be able to tell people that despite the calm I may be exuding in the moment, when I fall, I fall hard, fast, and completely. I can say those words to a clinician, but unless they have seen the drop off the cliff, they don’t quite understand what I mean. Even when my wife or former clinicians try to express it, no one gets it unless they have seen it in person (and then they get scared).  My perfection at appearing competent while crumbling really throws people for a loop.

Of course, my ability to express myself also gets hindered when overwhelming emotions hit.  I’m very used to pushing things down and keeping a lid on the limit of what I allow myself to feel.  When any of that spills over the quota, it gets incredibly overwhelming.  I suddenly become helpless without any access to my knowledge of how to handle it all.  I say I don’t have access to it because, when I am not overwhelmed, I have a pretty good theoretical grasp on how to handle said emotions.  The problem with them being overwhelming is that I suddenly find all my effective and safe coping skills are buried under miles of turmoil.  I lose the ability to effectively ask for help. I lose the ability to speak in the moment about what my needs may be (I’m horrifically ashamed at having any needs at all, and I was finally able to figure out with De why some of that is).  I desperately seek safety in any form, even if it ends up being outrageously uncomfortable.  There’s a level of comfort in certain uncomfortable things (another thing I was able to figure out with De this past week).  I’m slowly practicing finding safety in truly safe situations that are not also at once very traumatic in their imposition of safety (ie: an inpatient stay at a “regular” psych unit).  I’m learning to keep breathing.  I’m learning to reach out before things hit crisis levels.  They are difficult lessons.  I still stumble sometimes, but I’m learning it.  One part of that is not always smiling for the outside world.  I think that may be that hardest lesson of all…

A day in bed

I had called De earlier today. I was a mess and wanted her to read something on my blog to her.  I’m glad she had time to read it with me still on the phone. We talked a bit and she was so nice.  I give her no reason to be nice to me. In fact I give her every reason to hate me, yet she says she won’t hate me. She talked to me as I cried, and I could do nothing but whisper my answers to her (I’m surprised she could make out what I was saying)… Talking to her made me feel a bit better.  She encouraged me to do specific things to help get through the day. And she made me promise to show up to tomorrow’s appointment… I had asked that it be our last (because I feel like I’m just crumbling and it would be easier to do without the expectation to show up to her office twice a week).  I think she may have figured that out because she said she still wants me to come until our last appointment. She also wants me to follow-through on the intake I got at another agency for Monday… I just don’t want to bother anyone else with the mess that is me at the moment. I know this is just me feeling very worthless at the moment. I know this will pass, but it has a weight anchored in my chest today. And I want to just stay in bed (and maybe cry if I could find the courage to do it again).
The flashbacks have slowed to just intrusive memories today, without the full virtual reality effect. I still feel the body memories, but they are not as strong as yesterday.  I’m quite ready to be done with all this ptsd and trauma crap, I’m cooked on it.

Chandelier, by Sia

Chandelier by Sia

Party girls don’t get hurt
Can’t feel anything, when will I learn
I push it down, push it down

I’m the one “for a good time call”
Phone’s blowin’ up, ringin’ my doorbell
I feel the love, feel the love

1, 2, 3 1, 2, 3 drink
1, 2, 3 1, 2, 3 drink
1, 2, 3 1, 2, 3 drink

Throw ’em back, till I lose count

I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier
I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist
Like it doesn’t exist
I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry
I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier

And I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down won’t open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, ’cause I’m just holding on for tonight
Help me, I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down won’t open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, ’cause I’m just holding on for tonight
On for tonight

Sun is up, I’m a mess
Gotta get out now, gotta run from this
Here comes the shame, here comes the shame

1, 2, 3 1, 2, 3 drink
1, 2, 3 1, 2, 3 drink
1, 2, 3 1, 2, 3 drink

Throw ’em back till I lose count

I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier
I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist
Like it doesn’t exist
I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry
I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier

And I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down won’t open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, ’cause I’m just holding on for tonight
Help me, I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down won’t open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, ’cause I’m just holding on for tonight
On for tonight
On for tonight
‘Cause I’m just holding on for tonight
Oh I’m just holding on for tonight
On for tonight
On for tonight
‘Cause I’m just holding on for tonight
‘Cause I’m just holding on for tonight
Oh I’m just holding on for tonight
On for tonight
On for tonight

can’t get out of my own way today…

I don’t know how to do it.  I can’t pull myself away from continually tripping on my own emotional mess.  I can’t decide if I want to talk to anyone about it, or just ignore the world and stay in bed.  I think ignoring the world would be best at this point…

“Surviving” (post link)

…why is it that we are shamed not only by those perpetrating the abuse, but also those that don’t want to bear witness to it?  “Surviving” is so well-written in its brutal honesty… what happens to those of us who survive whatever degree of abuse we endure?  We are labeled “impossible” and “worthless” by the system and by society that has made a choice to ignore the conditions of survival.

I really struggle with not being able to speak about what I endured.  There is so much to the foundations of my shame.  One phrase that always echos in my head is one my dad said often: “what happens in the family stays in the family”  It screamed in my head as I was telling De about some things yesterday.  His voice thundered in my memory as I was suddenly hiding under the bed again, terrified that he was coming into my room… The memory drowned out De’s voice.  The memories to follow sent shudders through me, and yet I couldn’t tell De how loud my head was in the moment.  I couldn’t give voice to the full-on virtual reality playing behind my eyes. I couldn’t even tell her I was lost in the memory. I noticed my mouth moving and speaking to her, but I was hiding under my bed again. G had just had a huge blow-out with mom, and I had run to hide.  I tried to take the dog with me, but she stayed with mom… I don;t know how long I was hiding, but I do remember my brother coming into my room looking for me because the house was so quiet.  I screamed and jumped when I saw his feet from under the bed, I thought he was G… I scared my poor brother.  He had been at a friend’s house while hell broke out that night.  He was spared.  Mom got most of it… and the dog, she got a lot of it… G would kick her just because he could, because he was mad and needed to hurt the thing that everyone loved more than they loved him… and she just took it… :(…

Why is it that society underscores what our abusers tell us?

(With the way some of this stuff slams me, I do not know how my mom survived… I just watched my dad, but she was on the receiving end of so much more… I don’t know how it hasn’t crushed her.  She has some incredible strength…)

sleep, finally

Sleep is so, so, so, so important… I hadn’t been able to sleep well for the last several weeks.  Last night, after a really rough day, I took Benadryl and it actually worked.  I slept about 8 hours!!!!  I feel so much better this morning.  I’m still having some body memories, but they are easier to deal with when I’m not also horrifically sleep-deprived.  It’s much easier to “get off the train” of spiraling thoughts.  It’s easier to breathe… Now I just have to keep up the sleep 😉

Just Breathe

Told De about some stuff today that made her ask some questions which made me wonder. I asked my mom, and she said something may have happened, but she is not sure. She only remembers suspicions being raised about someone.  When she told me who it was, it clicked that he looked a lot like a man in my nightmares as a kid, not exactly the same, but very close.

Been really checked out since my appointment.  Lost time between ending with her at 2, and later calling her at almost 5. Continued losing some time in spurts, though not as long this time, only a few minutes.  Called De back about it and mentioned what my mom said.  She said it was normal to be bothered by the possibility of more stuff… I just don’t know what to do with it all. Trying not to let it bother me much.

De and I worked on affirmation-type stuff (but not really affirmations because they don’t work for me). One of them was about getting off the runaway trains of thought.  That has been my mantra today.


That and “just breathe”…

And because this song kicks ass (though it may be triggering to some):

(yes, I have very eclectic musical tastes… I have all on my iPod)

It’s so heavy

It’s unrelenting and crushing. The only break I get is maybe an hour after I wake up, but that is only if I have peaceful sleep (rare these days). The more I’m awake, the worse it gets.

I need to get through these next 2.5 weeks so I can properly say goodbye to De. Then I need a new plan…

1hour & 48 minutes

that’s all the sleep I managed today (and that may be an over-estimation based on the last time I looked at the clock before falling asleep – 10pm, and the first time I paid attention to the time after I woke again – 11:48pm)… “uncle”… I give…

Honesty in treatment

I’m a believer (most of the time) that honesty in treatment is the key to making any progress.  I say “most of the time” because sometimes my fear gets the better of me and I want to hide the ugly or scary parts of myself.

In an attempt to “just breathe” and get through the weekend, I tried to take a step back from myself for a moment.  I opened up my journal and started to write a list of what I get from my behaviors and actions.  I wanted to be as brutally honest as I could be with myself, so I resolved not to show it to anyone.  I wrote all the contributing factors down no matter how shameful or embarrassing they may be.  I was originally going to make it a cbt/dbt-style exercise with pros & cons, and some challenges to the reasons, but I eventually decided to stick to simply listing the reasons.  I am not necessarily in a place to objectively challenge any of those thoughts or beliefs, so I didn’t want to torture myself further by trying (honesty can be scary, especially with all the judgements flying around in my head).  I came up with a pretty comprehensive list.  I think I covered everything I get from my behaviors. I even managed to cover some stuff I do not like to admit to myself that I get, but I wrote them down in an attempt to be brutally honest with myself.  I find myself very stuck in therapy partly because I cannot get past the shame and embarrassment of a lot of things.  I’ve made some progress with De on some of the shameful stuff, but there’s heaps more back there still.

My problem comes now in the sense of urgency I feel at needing to talk about this stuff.  I’m afraid that if I don’t talk about it right now, in the moment, and to someone who can follow-up with me on it, I will lose my drive.  I will find ways to talk myself out of the reasons.  The thick walls of shame will fly back up in a flash, and I’ll be stuck again.  My hope is to be able to talk to De about all this, but there are boundaries in place over extra contact (boundaries that I desperately need right now).  I have to wait until Tuesday to talk about it.  Intellectually (and from a professional perspective), I totally get this and know I should wait.  The little kid in me is having an emotional shit-fit however.  She’s stomping her feet and dying to beg for a chance to address this in the moment.  I’m trying to calm her down.  I know I cringe at admitting most of the list to De (a professional I have grown to trust), let alone anyone else I may not know or that may not have the professional perspective.  I know this needs to wait to be addressed in an emotionally safe environment, but damn I wish it was now.  I am trying to compromise with the emotional side of myself.  I wrote it out where De will be able to see it and know it exists, but I have asked her not to read it.  I am trying to commit to myself to leave it up where she can see it, and to trust that she will not read it before Tuesday (I have no reason to believe she would not do as I ask).  I know I need to address this stuff to be able to move past it, but I also know shame can cripple me in it.

On one hand, it’s really good that I have the freedom to show or hide from De whatever entry I need to.  It helps me censor myself and practice self-containment.  On the other hand, it allows me to hide things I may need to address but am too ashamed of  admitting.  My ability to communicate is ever-evolving.  I am still learning balance.  I’m hoping the blog helps with that.  I know if it were something I could not edit (like an email after it is sent), I would drive her and myself nuts more than I already do. I think honesty is incredibly important in treatment, but so is self-control on my behalf.  With the blog I am learning that I can be more honest when writing, but I am also learning that there are some things I need to learn to reign in.  I am able to spill a lot to her, but also go back and hide things or reveal things after the initial emotional spillage.  As L reminded me this morning, sometimes things need to “marinate” before being addressed. I’m grateful De puts up with me and my alternating emotional explosions and implosions (sometimes she gets way too much info, other times I am unable to give her anything at all).  I’m learning the balance with honesty also.  Right now, I am at the stage of needing to be able to tell her everything and be taught what needs immediate addressing vs. what can wait… I hope she doesn’t hate me for this learning process. She only has to put up with me for another 2.5 weeks anyway (I know, not an excuse to completely lose my shit right now)…

::deep breath:: the process of learning things as an adult that I never learned as a kid is incredibly trying and painful… and way more difficult because as a kid, it was expected that I didn’t know this stuff.  As an adult, I should know better by now and be past these little hissy-fits.

Distance and early a.m. ramblings

L had called yesterday and we talked. I was able to be a bit more present with her for a while,  then my head was “off to the races”. I find that it happens a lot lately.

I was explaining the dissociation to someone, and I tried to explain why simple grounding techniques don’t work. I’m so adept at functioning outwardly sometimes that I can speak and act as if I were present, but my head is a whirlwind. I can walk through basic grounding exercises that should bring me back to a room, but they don’t.  I can hold conversations and tell you all about the objects in the room, or how the chair feels on my body. The whole while, I’m speaking from miles away. The first time I was able to articulate the distance was to D last year.  I had just started seeing him, and something panicked me.  He tried the grounding. I told him it wasn’t working. I was afraid he’d be mad, but he asked me to describe it. It felt like my mouth and body were on autopilot. I was able to try to describe remaining disconnected. It felt like my brain and my eyes were very far away. It felt like I was just doing what he asked because I felt like I had to. It was very weird. I was at once terrified of him but feeling safe with him.  I felt like I had to be honest, but I couldn’t pull myself back into the room out of fear. I remember hearing myself tell him that everything my body and my mouth were doing in that moment was because someone thought it was appropriate in the moment, but I wasn’t connected to it. “I” remained floating and hiding in the background somewhere.

It had been a new experience then. Prior to that, I had not been aware of any split.  I wonder how much of it had to do with starting to trust him, but still having a huge fear of him simply based on the fact that he was a man. I think part of it was based on prior experiences of having to do what I was told, but recognizing that it still didn’t feel totally safe… I wish I had this insight back then.  Maybe we could have worked through it a bit…

Some of the disconnect is similar even now, but I think I’m less aware of it. I don’t feel compelled to admit to De the extent of the disconnect when we work on grounding. I can tell her whether I’m back or not sometimes when she asks, but I don’t feel the fear of coming back completely, I simply don’t all come back… hmm… stuff to address at some point with someone…

shutting down again

it’s all so overwhelming, I don’t know what to say.  I can’t manage to talk to De, I can’t find the words to express what’s inside…

that black hole that is depression

It feels like depression has been swallowing me lately.  I wasn’t really up to talking yesterday, and L picked up on that. I felt bad.  I had nothing to say.  I couldn’t formulate words around anything.  Everyone I spoke with yesterday noticed it.  Today is a bit better… Between last night and today, the lovely people at the Baton Rouge Crisis Intervention Center have sat on chat and the phone with me for over 3 1/2 hours.  I totally appreciate their patience as they struggled to get me to communicate.  They are one of the few centers that answer the chat and don’t rush you off right away.  They are ok speaking even when I’m just overwhelmed and needing someone to “sit with” over the chat or phone.  Most chat operators shoo me off if I am not in immediate crisis.  These people are so nice… and they are one of the few places that will also offer a follow-up call if you agree to it.  Apparently I agreed to it last night because I got a call this morning…

Anyway, yeah.  Struggling and trying to keep my head above water (figuratively).  I know something’s got to give. I’m trying to hold on to the hope others have for me, as I don’t have much of my own. Taking things one day at a time, one moment at a time.  And making agreements to stay safe, because there is no other choice. I had left a message for De about that. I hoped she would call, but I guess I didn’t specifically ask for it, or my message was unintelligible.  I have not heard back from her.  I guess she is just busy and counting on me being able to ask for a call-back if I really need one.

Therapy today

I saw De this afternoon,  and it was a good session. I was able to talk about some stuff (well, acknowledge some stuff, we didn’t talk in-depth about too much). I was able to tell her that I was having trouble with writing my story as hers, and that I thought I needed to talk more about my story. She confirmed that it wasn’t the same story. She was really gentle about it, and I’m really glad she didn’t make me feel like an ass for admitting that I felt like I burnt her out. She talked about the turn-over rate at the agency, and how long she had been there. She reassured me I was not the reason she was leaving, but that the cumulative effect of working there for the last handful of years has taken its toll. We compared notes on burn-out rates for various concentrations in the field. I noticed again the weight was gone from her. I told her I thought it would be a good idea for me to find another therapist for the gap between our termination and my move. She agreed. We brainstormed a few ideas, and she asked how likely I was to be able to make some calls between today and Friday. We agreed that proactive is good, and that what I’m looking for is pretty restrictive in terms of choices (someone who either can take my useless state insurance, or someone who has a sliding scale; someone without a huge waiting list; someone who can be consistent through the time I move; someone with more availability than once a week). She brought up the idea of a php again, which I would totally be open to,  but I don’t qualify for either of the two that take my insurance. We even contemplated me lying about taking meds just so I could get the support I need.  She said she will think more about it, but that maybe we can create a “php-type” structure that involved frequent contact with a professional, but also gave me some structure. I hope we can come up with something. I know that type of stuff helps me a lot.
The session was over before I knew it. There’s still a lot weighing on me, but at least this one felt productive on more than one front. I see her again on Friday.  On the way home,  I placed the two requests for information she had asked me to make. Now it’s just a matter of hearing back from them… I would feel better knowing I’m not totally on my own when we are done.
Changes are hard.  Goodbyes are really hard, and loss feels like an enormous black hole in my heart…  I wish I knew how to work through it.  I guess that’ll be a topic for another therapist…

What’s more pressing today?

I have an appointment with De later today. We were supposed to tackle some Duckboy stuff, but I’m not sure if I need to process what’s been plaguing me all weekend first, or if I should take about the Duckboy stuff.  I think, if I want to get some relief from my head, I need to start with all of this mess.  I can worry about the Duckboy stuff Friday or next week.  I don’t think I’d at all be useful in tackling that stuff right now with everything else in my head… this termination brought up so much other stuff on top of the normal loss that comes up for me.

Yesterday was ok

I had a distraction. It made things a bit easier to get through. But insomnia and no distractions right now are making the morning very difficult. I had fallen asleep by 8 pm last night, which had me awake by 2 am (hey look,  6 hours. That’s the most I’ve gotten recently), and I can’t fall back asleep. I tried for over an hour before I gave in and started my music back up. Damien Rice’s “9 Crimes” is on incessant repeat right now (has been for the last 2 days). I’m trying to figure out what about it is speaking to me at the moment,  and I think I’ve settled on the way his voice (and Lisa Hannigan’s) sounds. There’s something about the way they sing it together that hits right. The lyrics partially fit, though I hadn’t really been paying attention to them, more just the emotion in the voices and the notes they hit. It just works… Hell, it wasn’t until about 30 minutes ago that I actually listened to the first stanza enough to realize I could relate to it completely (Leave me out with the waste/This is not what I do/It’s the wrong kind of place/To be thinking of you//It’s the wrong time/For somebody new/It’s a small crime/And I got no excuse). Before that, I was lost in trying to figure out what he means by the chorus of “And is that alright? Yeah/Give my gun away when it’s loaded/That alright? Yeah/If you don’t shoot it how am I supposed to hold it?” I’m still not sure I understand it,  but it plays through my head…

I feel a bit like a cockroach being stepped on after being sprayed with everything under the sun, and smacked with a rolled up newspaper before that. I feel like no one (in mental health) wants anything to do with me because of their prejudices towards my symptoms. For the most part, they don’t want to see beyond the surface to talk about what’s underneath that. If there are a few brave people who don’t automatically squish me, they eventually get grossed out and want nothing to do with me in the long run. I’m too much. I grate on their nerves. I’m too stupid. I never learn. I simply keep falling back to old patterns when things get overwhelming. They get frustrated and burnt out, and I’m left figuring things out on my own again. I feel like the spider who gets killed because she’s a spider, doing spider things. They forget that I’m just doing what I know to get through the day. They want to heard me into a jar so I can’t bite them or touch them, but I never wanted to do that in the first place. I just got scared and was trying to ward off the scariness… I get overwhelmed because the emotions and the memories are overwhelming. I try my best to do “acceptable” and “healthy” things to gain balance, but when that doesn’t work, the “unhealthy” peeks through. I get super needy and stupid and helpless. I revert to little kid (admittedly, a stubborn little kid) because it’s the path of least resistance in my head.  Eventually I run out of energy trying to change things, so I rely on someone else to hold my hand through it. Only that’s when they want to squish me, because I’m now annoying and draining and ever-so-frustrating… so I’m moved on, and everyone sees this tantruming little kid who resides in adult body, and they say “No”. They say I’m hopeless and I’ll never amount to anything.  And I’m beginning to think they are right.  I think this change crap is too hard.  I think I’m out of energy for trying… I think they are right…

I’m so overwhelmed with everything right now. I have moments of being ok, but… I put on a happy face because I need to make people feel better about me.  I need them to not keep confirming that everything I think about myself is true. I need to try to hope that everything I believe about myself is, in fact, not true (as a few have said).  But then stress happens, and suddenly everything is true. Completely and shatteringly true…

I like the dark.  It’s comfortable. I don’t want sunrise to come, because it’s harder to hide in the daylight. The dark is soft and comfortable and home. I’m ok in the dark…

moving through

I’m still in a fog, and not quite sure what to do about it.  I can finally talk about ending therapy with De without bursting into tears immediately.  Remembering that it’s the emotions from more than one loss is helpful.  It doesn’t make it all better, but the mantra tones it down some.  I’m trying to reign in the feelings that equate this to a death.  I know where those stem from, and I’m reminding myself of that every moment…

I’m trying not to write my experience over hers.  I’m trying not to create a story around why she is leaving without knowing the full details.  But my head has other ideas.  It’s playing my story over her’s. It’s making me feel guilty, which amplifies my feelings of abandonment, which makes me feel more guilty, which intensifies the loss… and it’s an ever-faster circle of thoughts of which I’m trying to rationalize my way out. I can hear De saying this is a train of thought I need to get off.  The problem is, I’m having trouble catching my breath long enough to talk my way out of it.  I worry that this is how I made my clients feel (or I made them feel worse, which would really, really suck) when I disappeared on them without warning.  At the beginning of my crash in 2010 (which lasted through 2011), I was still seeing individual clients at the domestic violence shelter.  One week (with no notice), I simply did not show up for them.  I had landed myself in the hospital for self harm or severe depression, or something like that, and had my wife call me out of work (or maybe I called myself out from the emergency room, I don’t quite remember).  My supervisor was only told that I was at the emergency room, and not expected back for at least a week, but I would let them know.  It must have been me that called out, because I had to give them my list of appointments for the week so that they could cancel them.  I don’t think I went back right away upon discharge, but maybe I did.  I did not see any clients though, because they had been cancelled pending my return to be able to re-schedule them.  I lasted maybe a day and a half before I walked into my clinical director’s office for spontaneous supervision (I think I scared her because I remember being quite blank and subdued, much different from my presentation prior to my spiral).  I admitted to her I was overwhelmed and highly triggered by one client in particular, but also the whole concept of working in domestic violence.  We agreed that my clients would get transferred to another clinician, and I would concentrate on office work.  I left messages for my clients with instructions to call my supervisor for their new contacts. I did not tell them my real reasons for transferring them, but I did not offer a termination session either.  I feel like I cheated them out of closure (something I value very highly), but I would not have been effective even for that last session.  So the guilt weighs heavy on me.  In the moment, I know how shitty it feels with appropriate termination, it must have felt much worse without it (actually, I know it feels much worse without it.  I didn’t have that opportunity with D and with some other therapists in the past).

The more I sit with it, the more things I can pinpoint as playing a part in my reaction this time around.  I feel guilt at my failures as a provider and support for my clients.  I feel the loss of closure-less endings from both the side of a clinician and a client.  I’m feeling the shock of a sudden loss.  I’m reminded of all the other losses from the past (deaths, endings to relationships, moves, loss of sentimental objects, my failure as a human being… Yeah, I know that last one seems like a huge leap, and it likely is, but my head goes there.  I fail at finances, at life, at caring for people and animals, at all my dreams. I have not found anything that I enjoy but am also good at.  The critical part of me denies even “being” anything at all).  I have trouble pulling out of this right now.  I know I’m being harsh, but it’s the only thing that is keeping me from crumbling under the weight of all this compiled loss.  I can handle criticism.  I know what to do with it.  I can’t handle the loss, so I take the lesser of the two evils.

My fear of sobbing in front of De yesterday brought up the memory of being as disproportionately crushed by the sudden death of a classmate in high school.  He actually no longer attended my school at the time of his death during sophomore year, but we were a small incoming class the year before (maybe 100 students in the whole freshman class) and had all grown at least familiar with each other. The news of his death hit our class hard.  It hit me harder because I had lost my aunt a few months ago at the start of the summer. I wailed at his memorial service. I made everyone uncomfortable, but I couldn’t will my legs to move when my teacher suggested my friend accompany me to the bathroom or guidance office.  I just shook my head and cried uncontrollably.  I didn’t think I could have walked without collapsing to the floor.  I heard my classmates comment and disapprove.  I saw my teacher’s reaction, but I could do nothing except cry hysterically in my seat.  I think that experience plays loudly into my shame at crying right now, at my overly intense reaction to De’s departure… Crying is bad enough when Skeletor threatens death if you don’t stop; add to it humiliation and disapproval of everyone around you and it cements that experience into your soul…

Anyway, yeah, I’m trying to gain more insight around all this in an effort to move through it.  I’m trying to decide how much of this I should try to process with De, and how much I need to just deal with myself.  I’m at once trying to balance pulling away so I can convince myself I will be fine after she is gone (to keep the hurt a step removed), and processing what I can so I am not left hypothesizing.  I want to know that (maybe) I’m just reading too much into all this, and maybe her story is not as close to mine as I think (I hope it’s not as close to mine as I think, because it means someone else is hurting like this)…

Ok, time to take a breath and step away from this for now because it’s getting overwhelming again. Need to keep moving through this without getting trapped…

Loss in any form is difficult, especially when you have not dealt with the past ones yet.

So I’ve had a few hours to sit with the concept of De leaving the agency.  I had cried about it (yup, actual tears spilling down my face. Not just tearing up, but real crying complete with gross boogers).  I was somewhat able to “talk” to L about it.  I have thought about it, and processed it, and moved past the anger (it was fleeting).  I’m in a weird flat place right now. If I think too hard or too long about it, I will cry again (have I mentioned I hate crying?).  So I’m concentrating on little things.  I’m concentrating on typing my words correctly (I’m sure there will be many mistakes, and I suck at proof-reading, always have).  I’m concentrating on keeping the dogs from going nuts because they are tired and want to get to bed.  I am taking breaks to take them outside one by one so I can finally put the boys to sleep.  I was concentrating on listening to my mom as she talked about how we may go about fixing the fridge.  I’m concentrating on the decision-making process of whether or not to start into Game of Thrones again tonight, or go with something easier, like Orange is the New Black, or Grey’s Anatomy or Dexter.  I’m concentrating on wanting to find a way to express myself either through art or writing, but certainly no more crying.

I’ve been able to formulate and articulate to L that this overwhelming loss I feel at the termination with De is really the compilation of losses that I have yet to deal with.  It goes back decades.  It’s disproportionate to the relationship because it is so much more than just this one relationship. It’s the loss of friends and family and memories and innocence.  It’s the loss of supports and home-bases.  It’s the loss of a sense of security.  And it’s the premature loss of someone I had expected to lose, but managed to trust anyway.  I am not good with loss.  I never have been.  Sure I can smile through changes, but the tears always glisten in my eyes.  This time they broke free.  I don’t know if was because of how worn-down I feel lately, the creeping depression, or the fact that De was the first (only) person to hear some really heavy stuff. I was prepared to walk away from this relationship at the time of my move.  I was expecting it to help keep me balanced as my stress rose.  Just last week I had asked her for more support.  This week it’s all going away much faster than I had thought.  It’s pointless to try to find another therapist for those last 6 weeks, so I guess I will have to just figure it out on my own (though I am toying with the idea of trying to get a referral to someone for those 6 weeks)… I know it will be ok, because it always is in the end, but right now it feels really shitty.

When she first told me, I couldn’t exactly speak. I was too busy trying to hold back the tears and the sobbing because I knew it was disproportionate to the situation.  My tears didn’t listen to my insistence.  They spilled down my cheeks anyway.  When she asked me to articulate what was going through my head at the moment, all I could muster was a half-whispered “whatever” through clenched teeth.  I was afraid that if I opened my mouth more than that to speak, I would either sob uncontrollably and loudly, or I would speak out of my fear-driven (and old) anger.  She challenged my “whatever” by saying that she knew this was hard for me, and she knew it wasn’t “whatever”.  All I could do was shake my head as more tears streamed down my face.  I couldn’t look at her, so I looked everywhere else in the office and just repeated “whatever” one more time.  We sat in silence for a bit longer as I looked everywhere but where she was sitting.  More rogue tears.  She asked if I could tell her what I was thinking, if self-harm urges came up.  I realised then that my head was frantically backpedaling in an attempt to halt all thought (much like pedaling backward on a BMX bike to brake).  There was a forced-stillness in my head.  Conscious thoughts had stopped.  All efforts were being diverted to stave off any melt-down beyond what had happened.  It struck me as odd that there were no self-harm thoughts or suicidal thoughts.  There just were no thoughts.  She eased into a verbal safety contract, and was able to joke around it, which helped pull me back into the room and back to functioning. When I stumbled over concepts as I tried to agree to what she was asking, she helped out by saying “Whatever you need to agree to to get back here in one piece next week is what we are going to agree to”.  In the past, she had always wanted specifics, but I don’t think I could have given those to her in the moment.  I think I recognized a bit of freedom in that change (and I think I just now recognized how the weight was off her this session.  It was familiar in that I had felt it after I had given notice at the group home, but still had to deal with the kids for 2 more weeks. I no longer cared about the strict rules of etiquette because I was leaving soon. I was able to be more genuine, and the girls had picked up on it with me.  I think that’s what I felt from De today.  It was a freedom from the pressure to be “perfect” in the role… It’s funny how some guidelines are in place to help us do our jobs better, but in the end we are burdened with the pressure to stay within the boundaries – we lose our genuineness…) but I digress.  We chatted about other things for the remainder of the session. She had asked something about letting “us” know if I ever figured out a way to apply my knowledge-base in psych to myself.  I think she was going to go somewhere else with that, but she stopped herself.  I talked about my complete inability to have access to both my emotional and intellectual sides at the same moment.  We talked about this blog, and how it had been born of the idea of being able to look at all of it over time (the more professional side of me when I am in a more emotional space, and the more emotional side of me when I am locked in professional mode).  I told her about an early entry on the concept of  “attention-seeking” and how it is not always as sinister-ly manipulative as the field makes it out to be…  I kept a close eye on the clock because I had brought my Wreck This Journal with me to show her.  With about 5 minutes left, I changed the topic to that.  She always seems genuinely interested in what I bring in, but this time there was something else again.  I showed her the piece with the prompt to “make a paper chain“.  She seemed excited about it.  It was weird because the excitement was different… I’m not sure how to describe it.  She said something along the lines of wishing she could show it to other people because it conveyed so much more than just words could. The way she said it made me feel like she was trying to make a point to someone.  I had wanted to tell her she could (I may have imagined it, but it looked like she was ready to get up and walk out of her office with the book. She scootched forward in her chair as she had said that about showing it to others), but I was caught off guard.  The words “you could” spun around in circles in my brain, but never made it to my tongue… We moved on to scheduling after she looked a bit more at my book.  She pondered the best way to fit in the second appointment.  I put my vote in for Tuesday & Friday citing my “OCD-ish tendencies” for wanting to space out the days a bit more. She actually laughed and said she prefered that for the same reason (more genuine-ness).  So I will be seeing her twice a week for the next few weeks until she leaves.  We will be figuring out the content of our sessions as we go.  She checked-in about the possibility of doing more Duckboy work on Tuesday, and would I be ok if she sprung it on me that day.  I told her I was open to whatever, but that I needed her to lead if it was the Duckboy stuff because I feel totally lost on what to do with it.  I think she was still deciding on how to approach Tuesday.  There are a lot of days between now and Tuesday, so my opinion may change, but for now I’m ok with pushing the assault topics.  I guess it depends on how far I get with this internal processing of her leaving instead of me leaving.  I may decide by Tuesday tha I really need to talk to her about some of this stuff and whatever else it will bring up.