Tag Archives: recovery

twolah blog entry “what they don’t tell you about trauma”

I came across a blog entry on To Write Love on Her Arms the other day and wanted to share.

I don’t totally agree with all of it all the time, but maybe I need the reminder…

 

7/4 – just found this also… To Those Who May Not Understand


Healing is not easy

There are a lot of bumps on the road to recovery. There are lots of slips and slides. Most of the bumps and slips are my own doing. Even with the best of intentions, healing is not easy…

I find myself gaining insight, but unable (or unwilling?) to make changes based on that insight. I see the destructive path some behaviors are taking, but I continue because it’s easier than fighting to make new behaviors work. Fear immobilizes me. I’m afraid of the outcome of trying something new. What if it’s not as effective? What if I can’t figure out how to make it work and the agony is prolonged? What if I keep screwing up my words and I’m continually misunderstood until I can’t make any more efforts to try? What if I keep fucking up? …because I keep fucking up even at things I should be proficient in, forget trying to succeed at something new.

I’m floundering. I’m struggling to figure out how to get needs met that I can’t even reliably identify. All I know is I need support. I don’t know what it looks like. I don’t know how to get it. I tried asking TL for more support, but like I often do with words, I must have screwed it up. I got a week and a half between sessions instead of extra time in the week. I’m just now figuring out that I’m being extra hard on myself because of this. It wasn’t conscious, but I’m “punishing” myself for my lack of competence… My self-talk is harsher than I normally engage in. My temper is hair-trigger. I’m eating and drinking things I wouldn’t normally allow myself all in the same day. It’s making me physically sick. I’ve even considered eating meat again (first time in 2 decades) because I know it would make me sick. I’m all about punishing myself because “I should know better” and be able to pull myself out of this by myself. I shouldn’t need to rely on strangers to hold my hand through the pain. I shouldn’t need to be this dependant on others. I shouldn’t need

Back to needs… I saw a post today on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
image

According to him, there are basic needs all humans must have met in order to move through life. I have a few of those going: food, shelter… but I have to stop short of safety. Physically, I’m generally safe (except from myself). Emotionally however, I’m finding very little safety either within myself or from others. It’s something I struggle with daily. It’s something I started to have with De, but that got pulled. I would love to say I have it with my family, but triggers are rampant. I’ve traumatized too many people, and been too traumatized by people. I constantly see hurt and threat around every bend, even if it’s created by me…


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 cbs.com 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.


Translations from the dark side

Why is it that something genuinely supportive and helpful comes off as condescending and invalidating? What lens do I put on that turns all the nice into hate? I know my stress is skyrocketing, and that the depression is creeping back in. I guess that’s the lens right there: depression. I had reached out to someone in hopes of finding support, but all I read from their response was how wrong I was doing things, how deliberately miserable I am, and how inadequate I am. In actuality, their response was uplifting, supportive, positive, and understanding.  My head instantly turned that positive into disparaging. Even as I recognize this, my head is battling itself. There’s the side that is berating me for being inadequate and stupid.  Then there’s the side of me that is taking the response at face value and trying to convince that other side that it’s reading into things. Depression will do that to you. Self – doubt and self – loathing become a way of life.
So my eyes will read “you’ve had so much success until now, you need to focus on that” and my brain will understand “you worthless piece of shit, you can’t even get recovery right. I told you you’d never amount to anything more that a useless waste of space. People tell you all the time to focus on the positive, but all you do is choose to be miserable. You’re a horrid person. You deserve everything you get and then some” (note here that a simple line of text has been translated into a tirade of the self…).

I’m writing this and the voice in my head is reminding me how stupid I have become. This is all stuff I should already know. It’s not supposed to be such a revelation… when I try to change the voice, it gets louder, then more sly when the loud doesn’t work.  It rationalizes the negative self-talk and starts whispering little doubts “you have been really off lately,” “you’re such a flake , the driving is getting bad,” “pretty soon you’ll be completely worthless in everything”… it makes the negative sound like logical conclusions. It plants seeds of doubt “everyone can see you’re crazy. It’s written all over you.  Why do you think you can’t get a job?” “Even if you did land one, they’d notice the crazy and find a reason to fire you if you don’t end up walking out first because you can’t take it”

We went to a volunteer meeting tonight at the nature center. We got hugs from people we hadn’t seen in a while, and all I could think was that they were pity hugs. Like they knew I was crazy and wanted to pat me on the head for making it out anyway but figured a hug would be less condescending… I know they are all about the hugs anyway, but my head screamed at me that they knew and just felt sorry for me.

Mental illness, self-doubt, and self loathing have a way of turning even the most positive interactions into something terrible. I wonder how much of my therapy is viewed this way.  I know the obvious ones, but what about the things that don’t necessarily hit my awareness? What about everyday encounters? What if everyone is really a wonderful person and it’s all just me that views them as hating me? I know I really dislike spending time with G. L pointed it out that my disdain for him was very evident earlier today.  I tried to be nicer when we got back home, but I have a lot of work to do on that front. He may be a perfectly wonderful person these days (ok, that’s an exaggeration. He may be at least tolerable), but I only see him through these angry glasses. Everything he says and does I interpret to be mean and hateful so I respond in kind. Then I feel bad for being an asshole. The cycle begins again. I’m once again battling the translation of simple words. I’m twisting what I’m saying to prove to myself how worthless and horrid I am. I just don’t know how to stop it.  There’s only so much arguing one can do with oneself before a splitting headache ensues. I think it’s once again time for sleep.


#11 – Shattered

So, De has been asking me if I have been thinking more about creating something for Sexual Assault Awareness Month coming up in April.  It’s been tough trying to find something I want to show off (even though my name will not be anywhere on the piece).  I’ve been throwing a few ideas around in my head, and none really “worked” until this one.  The execution of it is a bit off though, so I will be re-doing the piece.  It’s just the “practice” version of the image I will give to her to put up in their little display:

2014 100-Theme challenge #11) Shattered

11) Shattered (preliminary)

I had wanted to do the background in a red chalk, but the one I used was not covering correctly.  I tried to draw over it with the watercolor pencil, but it did not cover correctly over the chalk… There’s also some issues with the faces on both characters, so it’s just going to be a complete re-do.  I really need to work on my coloring technique too.  I wish I could figure it out better on  my own, but I suck at it.  I think my drawing skills are coming back with practice though.  Overall, I’m happy with this piece, it’s just little things that are not working correctly.  I think I will also stick to dry media for the coloring this time.  Any time I use water or something wet, it really warps the drawing.  If I had the correct paper for the watercolors things would look better.


I admitted something I never expected…

… and it’s not what you may think: I told my wife that I had actually seriously considered giving up our little dog on more than one occasion.  The people who know me in real life would know how incredibly out of character this admission is, but the rest of you may not quite get the full impact.  My animals are my children, and my dogs are held highest of all of them.  My little dog (we shall call him “Fred” to protect his real identity) is joined at the hip to my lab.  He would not know how to survive without her (he is a totally different dog when he is separated from her, shaking and moping even when it’s just for a few hours).  When he’s near her though, he is a little punk.  He has been known to kill cats, and will try for the kill any chance he gets.  We had managed to get that under a measure of control a while ago, but he’s back to his antics again (totally our fault).  Recently, out large male cat has decided to move in with a couple at the other end of the neighborhood.  We think this is because a few weeks ago, Fred managed to slip between my legs and chase the cat, most likely cornering him and hurting him in some way.  After that incident, the cat refused to return to the house.  Today, we had to go pick him up after the couple trapped him in their garage.  I feel bad for him (and our other cats).  They are social.  They miss spending time with us.  They miss the cuddles, and so do I.  I really love Fred, but he’s such a pain in the butt.  I won’t actually move to give him up (I would also be forced to give up the lab who happens to be my favorite dog), but I just need to remind myself that consistency matters a lot, especially with Fred.  There are some dogs you can be more lax with, but then there are the ones that will become a menace if allowed to take any hint of leadership.  Sadly, we give Fred a lot of room to walk all over us.  I need to remember what my trainer friend told me and keep him on a short leash (figuratively).

Knowing that I admitted out loud that I have considered re-homing Fred has messed with my head a bit.  Like I said, my dogs are my kids.  To seriously think of giving one up has only ever been admitted when I was suicidal.  I have moved more times than I can count to be able to keep my pets.  I have bent over backwards and given up a lot to have them in my life.  To know I actually thought of re-homing that little punk because he upsets the rest of the family dynamic has my head spinning…There’s a voice in my head screaming at me; telling me I’m worthless and useless and I just don’t care.  There’s judgement beyond belief for even having the thoughts.  There’s fear and resentment, and there’s anger.  The anger comes not only from what other people think of all the animals, but also from my changing attitudes.  They still fill a void, but I’m finding that they also create a whole lot of drama.  My depression makes it hard to motivate to do anything beyond the basics for them.  They are going stir-crazy, and we are all slacking on the training (especially for the puppy).  I find myself becoming angry at them for misbehaving when it’s all my fault for not being consistent and giving them what they need.  I’m turning more and more into my father, and I hate myself for it…

I look around myself and see all this material crap that I really don’t want anymore.  It feels like all of this is weighing me/us down.  I wish I didn’t waste money on a lot of this crap.  I wish I didn’t have piles and piles of “junk” lying around… I wish I had motivation to take care of things.  And I wish I knew how to remember to save money.  The animals need more flea stuff, and they need to get out of the house.  If I had the money, I would have gotten the puppy training also.  There are a bunch of behaviors I just don’t know how to tackle anymore, nor do I have the energy to try.  The same with Fred.  And I hate myself a lot.  I know I made this commitment to them, but I’m not following through…  I know the steps to take for some of it, but the energy and motivation disappear quickly.  The more I fall into the cycle of wanting to do things but failing, then being hard on myself for it, the more I just feel like crap about everything. I start spiraling down a litany of things that I see wrong with myself: my weight, my social life, my motivation, my lack of working, my self-worth, my worth to others… De is right that I get trapped in my thinking and it just makes everything worse.  But then there’s that tiny voice in my head that whispers possible solutions… Maybe it’s time to start with baby steps to fix things…


Sleep therapy for depression

Interesting… I know Dr. C had mentioned something like the CBT-I to help cure insomnia, but never really called it that. I think it’s interesting that they are saying often times insomnia precedes depression (which I have found true for myself many times). I look forward to seeing the rest of the research.

Mirrorgirl

Sleep Therapy Seen as an Aid for Depression

By BENEDICT CAREY

Published: November 18, 2013 355 Comments
 

Curing insomnia in people with depression could double their chance of a full recovery, scientists are reporting. The findings, based on an insomnia treatment that uses talk therapy rather than drugs, are the first to emerge from a series of closely watched studies of sleep and depression to be released in the coming year.

Ryerson University

A student demonstrating equipment at Colleen Carney’s sleep lab at Ryerson University. Dr. Carney is the lead author of a new report about the effects of insomnia treatment on depression.

The new report affirms the results of a smaller pilot study, giving scientists confidence that the effects of the insomnia treatment are real. If the figures continue to hold up, the advance will be the most significant in the treatment of depression since the introduction of Prozac in 1987.

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