Monthly Archives: April 2016

Insomnia is back

I wake up these last several weeks to the slightest noise, then I can’t get back to sleep. Tonight, one of the dogs barked once. I thought she had to go out, so I got up to take her. Turns out she was just trying to get the neighbor dog’s attention… that was an hour ago.  I have to be up again at 6 for work. I have a feeling I’m finally going to have fallen asleep again right as my alarm goes off…

A few days ago, we stated watching Game of Thrones again (from the beginning, because we were lost about the story line for the new season, and because I never really made it past season 2 episode 4. Anyway, I didn’t realize how triggering some of the scenes would be. They had made me uncomfortable the first two times I tried to get through the series, but this time they tugged at some memories… I think the memories were there itching for a reason to jump in my face again, and this was their convenient excuse. I think the combination of poor sleep, pms, stress from work/life, and little time to unwind are also playing a role. I dunno. It’s getting loud though…

Maybe tonight when I go back to bed, I can actually sleep. And if little dog doesn’t get demanding in the a.m., I might even be able to sleep in Sunday morning.

This week was long in terms of work. I’m really grateful next week goes back to the light schedule. I’m going to make a concerted effort not to pick up shifts for people next week. My boss only has me in for the usual 2 days. I need that break to recharge a bit (I need to keep remind myself of that).

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There’s fiction in the space between…

Sometimes, I “remember” things that at other times I’m positive couldn’t have happened… but in the moment of “remembering” they feel so real I could taste and touch them.

I know exactly how it feels on my lips. I can taste the mix of sweat and cigarette smoke… in that moment, I know what’s playing in my head was a real event. But then the moment passes, and I can list a million reasons that event could have never happened…

I know the difference between my imagination and reality. I know those were never my fantasies… but what else could they be because I also “know” they are not actual memories. I should have remembered them all along. I should have know. I would have known.

But… ugh! I know they are at once real and fake. I know they are not only a cry for attention, but also a plea for attention. I know this, but I don’t.

I never talked more about duckboy at the time because I “knew” I consented by not fighting, by not screaming, by not pulling away, by obediently doing what I was told (MY had argued the point over and over again. She convinced me that a situation like that was consenting in its lack of resistance. The people that had experience with sexual abuse disagreed with MY, but her stance was easier to swallow. If it wasn’t abuse or assault, then I had nothing to worry about)… but why was I so compliant? I know I had learned somewhere that to simply do what I was told, or let him do whatever he wanted, meant that it would go easier and faster. I knew what it would feel like, I knew what to expect from my body. At the time, I couldn’t tell you how or why I knew this, but I knew.

When I first “remembered” the other stuff, it felt like an elephant kicked me in the chest. It took my breath away. I was driving home from therapy and I had to pull off the highway. I remember calling De in a panic and begging her to tell me all the reasons why what flashed through my head and body wasn’t actually true…

I repeat those same defenses against its truth to myself often: it was something I saw on TV or read in a book, It’s my imagination, it’s the stories of my clients’ pieced together and told with people in my own life…

And at the same time, it can feel so damn true. I know things because “I just know.” I don’t know how I know, I just know… I feel things for no reason other than I have a very active imagination; I’ve pieced together different events and written them with all new characters and story lines. I have a really good imagination. My body plays along with that amazing imagination to give me a better fantasy life… yeah. That’s it.

In the shower today, I remembered something, but it quickly gave way to something I know for sure is not a memory (feels different, and was drastically embellished from the actual events. I think I do that as a defense and a means to keep distance from the other stuff)… but now I’m not sure if the start of it was actually a memory, or just a play going on in my head. I can’t even really remember the beginning part anymore, just that it was disturbing and felt very real.

How can something feel so real and so fake at the same time? How come I can’t talk about it even in vague terms outside of therapy?

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Phew!

No nightmares about L dying last night.

No nightmares at all last night actually 🙂

I’m itching to play art again, but I’m at work at the moment. I did bring one of my art journals, but I’m not sure what to draw in it. I couldn’t exactly bring all my paints, and I don’t have a travel paint set put together. I could have brought the gelatos, but I didn’t think of it till after.

It’s all ok though. I’ll have time tomorrow before group to play art. Then tomorrow evening, a friend is giving a talk on paper arts at a local gallery. I was planning on dragging L. It should be fun.

Other than that, progress on the therapy front: I was able to watch what would have been a triggering scene in a TV show without falling into intrusive memories. HUGE, HUGE step for me, even though it was “just” around the domestic violence stuff. I was kinda excited that I was able to be aware of the memories but still remain engaged in the show (it was a scene from Flash about Zoom’s back-story). I kinda laughed when I noticed that I had witnessed a similar scene numerous times (minus the murder part) and marveled that I wasn’t a sociopath…

Anyway, so yeah, little victories and happy-dances all around.

Note to self: engaging in expressive art, and seeking support around the ickiness are both helpful in regaining balance when things are starting to fall apart again.


Half-asleep irrational panic

I woke up a few minutes after 1am to the older cat howling. In my half- sleep state, I asked him what was wrong and simultaneously told him everything was ok & go back to sleep. L was sleeping sprawled across the bed, which left me squished into a tiny sliver of space. I wriggled one leg under her’s to feel more anchored to the bed. In my haze, her leg felt extremely heavy and unmoving even after I wormed one of my own under it. She didn’t seem to notice.

In that half-asleep haze, I panicked she had died some bizarre death. I listened for her breathing. For an agonizing several seconds, I  couldn’t hear anything but the cat. I swear my heart dropped through the floor and my brain did frenzied back flips… and I suddenly became wide awake. I heard her breathing and felt her moving slightly as she slept. My rational brain kicked in; she’s relatively healthy. The likelihood of her randomly dying over night in her sleep is slim…

I’m still a bit panicked. It’s taking my heart- rate a while to return to normal. My brain is still buzzing with left-over activity brought on by the half-sleep nightmare. I can hear her breathing though. I know she is alive and well… now I just have to convince myself it’s ok to fall back asleep. It’s only 1:40 am. I still have 4 hours of sleep time. I’d really like to make use of it.


Sunday’s wrap-up

Had session today instead of yesterday.

The first part of it involved a clarification around the frequency. She said it’s more because the stuff we are working on (foo stuff, sa/csa) brings up a lot of anxiety and distress. She wants to be supportive around that and help mediate the impact. Check… she also said (yet again, because I’m still a bit on the anxious side about it) that she doesn’t forsee getting sick of me or burnt out on me anytime soon. She reassured me that she plans on continuing to practice, and continuing to see me if I also want to continue the work. Also check. (Writing it here more as a reminder than anything else).

The rest of the session addressed some more of my fears around the work, some of the origins of my low self-worth, and a tad bit of the sa… a heavy session, but not as heavy as Friday.

I see her again tomorrow for our “regularly scheduled programming”, and I think I want to take some “lighter” options with me.  Saturday I had worked on some art to process some of what we’ve been taking about. I think I want to take that in to be able to show her, but also take other supplies and maybe spend the session messing around with art. I’m not sure I want to talk much about the mini-journal I’ll take in, but I do want to show her. The rest of the time can be spent playing around with gelatos and textures.

The work we are doing is exhausting. Sometimes I need to work in a different way. Though I must admit, I’m impressed with myself that I was able to verbalize as much as I did today. I was quite a bit more verbal and present today compared to Friday… she commented that we covered a lot lately, and how I was doing good work. The funny thing is, I’ve barely talked about anything at all. This just felt like “safe” stuff to talk about. There’s a bunch of stuff still not communicated. She said that was ok, that there are more layers to things than we had originally thought, but it’s ok and we’ll get there whenever we get there.

Still super-grateful daily that I ended up with Dr C. Experienced, competent, and consistent trauma therapists that are not limited by clinic guidelines and funding-source mandates are few and far between. I swear this woman is totally unruffled by whatever clients bring with them into the room (at least while she is in the room with them). She’s apparently found her center and knows how to take care of herself. She truly leaves judgement at the door. She looks at everything her clients bring into the room as a key to tackling the therapeutic process. I can’t tell you how much I’ve seen written and discussed about therapists who can’t take an outside view of what happens in the room or with their clients, and the relationship goes south fast. Ok, I have limited perspective on Dr C, but she seems genuine. She sets personal judgements and emotional acting-out aside with her clients. Not many therapists can manage that day in and day out. So so grateful to have her as my therapist.


Blergh… (ok, honestly, I dunno an adequate word for this feeling/sound… also **POTENTIALLY TRIGGERING – SH, SUI**

I had another session today. I have been feeling so crappy lately, I asked for some extra time after group yesterday…

It was productive (and long). We talked about what’s causing so much anxiety, and what I get stuck on. At one point, I mentioned some of the financial obligations causing stress. She asked if I wanted to take care of the most stressful one there, and she offered to take over the phone if it became too much for me to keep talking. My responsible side kept bugging me to say yes, but my scared little kid side couldn’t move. We talked a bit about that, then she talked me through the phone thing (literally starting with telling me to take my phone out and find the number). Before actually placing the call, I mentioned the correlation with making an arrangement with this company in particular, and a subsequent hospitalization (so far, it’s happened after every time, and I wasn’t sure if I only had the courage to call them in an effort to lessen anything L might have to take care of in my absence, or if calling them triggered a hard and fast spiral)… she said we’d make a plan after the call to get me through the weekend.

The call was uneventful as usual. The lady I spoke with on the phone was professional. An arrangement was made, and I hung up. Almost instantly, the berating voices started screaming in my head “I’m worthless. I’m a piece of shit. I should have my shit together. I’m a failure. Why can’t I amount to anything? What a waste of space!…” and many more unkind things. Tears started spilling from my eyes, and I managed to choke out that this is what always happens after calling them. About 30 different self-destruct plans flashed through my head. In an instant, I assessed each for viability. More tears flowing unchecked from my eyes. I don’t really remember what else was said, but I was able to communicate the self-hatred and hopelessness.

I guess I started demolishing my soda can because she asked if the pieces I was playing with were sharp enough to hurt myself with. I was a bit taken aback. I’d never consciously self-harm in front of anyone, let alone in her office (it’s a safe space… though I must admit she’s pointed it out to me in the past when I didn’t realize I was clawing my arms during session).  Anyway, we talked a bit more, and she started saying something about me not being bad, and being allowed to make mistakes and ask for leniency. I can’t remember exactly what the words were, but they triggered a flashback… I just cried on the couch and tried to become as small as possible. Part of me kept silently apologizing and begging her not to hate me or be mad at me. Another part of me tried to remind myself that she would not do what I was remembering at the moment, that she was not the person in my memory, and that she was safe. The two inner voices warred to drown each other out.

None of it was voiced till after she stopped taking and I had continued to silently cry for several seconds. I think I actually interrupted her to try to explain what had been going on in my head… I found safe-enough words with which to speak about it; saying how frustrating it was when seemingly innocuous/nice (and common) responses to emotional upheaval and intense self-hatred were such instant triggers… I’m not sure if she was angry or sad that things like that had become so twisted in my head (not angry or sad at me, but for having gone through situations that caused the perversion of those basic concepts), but at one point I think I saw her hands move to cover her face…

We wrapped up that conversation and moved on to a plan for the weekend. I rated my intent to “harm myself” upon leaving. I said a low number, and she was incredulous (that sounds more distrustful that she actually was… more like pleasantly shocked?). I clarified that I wasn’t going to off myself after leaving. She clarified by asking if I’d self-harm. That number was higher. We talked about that a bit, then she again said we’d make a plan for the weekend. I was expecting to have to come up with the standard “what are you doing when you go home today? How about tonight? Tomorrow? Sunday?”. Instead, she asked me to hold on while she checked on her weekend plans… :gulp!: I panicked for a half-second and asked if she truly was just calling her husband (she’s never hospitalized me without talking to me about it, but others have). She showed me her phone dialing out to her hubby. I tried telling her I’d be fine over the weekend; that I didn’t want to interrupt her time with him. She promised she wouldn’t schedule anything if it interrupted their time together. She also said that she had promised to be there for me if I was having a rough time, and this was her way of being there this weekend… a few phone calls later, and we are going to meet again tomorrow either at her office or at her home office (tbd)… I’m still trying to be ok with wasting so much of her time, but she insists it’s not wasting it…

The ride home was “interesting”… I had trouble paying attention to the drive. There were points of the drive where I struggled with myself to keep the car at a safe speed and away from stationary structures. The whole time I worried that if I did crash, even accidentally, she’d think I had lied to her when I rated my safety. I try to be as honest as possible with her about things like that; it’s what built and keeps the trust. I’m more likely to say nothing at all rather than lie about that… I’ve remained silent in response to the safety question before, and we arranged for me to go inpatient like that in the past. I need the trust to be there. I get so low sometimes, I need us both to know that I’ll be honest about my safety even at the lowest times so I’m not again in a revolving hospitalization cycle…

:/

Sorry, that was probably tmi…

I think I need a nap now… catch you on the flip side.


Yesterday & Today

The anxiety was overwhelming yesterday. I wasn’t connected to the emotional impact of it at first; it was just the physical symptoms (being “on alert”, racing heart, tense muscles, distracted by everything, inability to sit still, feeling out of breath). They were intense and lasted the whole day. I tried to breathe through it and repeat grounding phrases, but very little worked to slow any of it for more than a few moments at a time. I jumped almost every time a customer walked through the door. Every loud noise startled me, and the constant barking of the dogs kept it feeling like I needed to stay on alert (in reality, the dogs were just barking because they are away from home and stressing, not because there’s anything to be worried about). I counted all the dogs and did the walk-through at least 7 times before leaving. I felt like every customer might be angry with me or cause a confrontation (no one actually was/did). I went back several times to check the doors to make sure they were locked. I even sat in the parking lot with my dogs ready to leave but mentally going over everything again to make sure everything was done before I left…

This morning is a bit better. It took forever to fall asleep, and I definitely didn’t sleep well, but I got some sleep, so that was good. Unfortunately, my stuff has a habit of kicking in as the day wears on. I noticed the anxiety returning about an hour ago. The echos of the past are still there, though mostly emotional at this point… :/

There’s group later today, so that should help. Then L and I have to clean up and make the apartment look presentable. I hope they don’t freak out over the cats and snakes. They know about the dogs, but the rest wasn’t mentioned at the time we moved in… there’s also some financial stuff I need to get on the ball with asap…Maybe now would be a good time to motive and call for that extra assistance from local social services. If I could just get some support doing all this stuff, it might help make it easier…

The self-harm thoughts are screaming at me still… gotta keep avoiding them, though it would help my head shut up for a while… Maybe I should try the aprn at Dr C’s office and see if he can give me something for the anxiety when it gets this bad..