Tag Archives: struggle

trauma work as a “distraction” is not the best reason to do it, smarty-pants.

I probably shouldn’t have gone to therapy today. I know she was probably trying to help me find my hope, but all I could see was how hopeless everything actually is.

I was more present though, so I guess that’s good. I didn’t noticeably dissociate, however I don’t necessarily explicitly remember the session either… She was trying to assess my level of emotional availability for dealing with the trauma stuff in the midst of the bigger housing crisis. I told her I needed the distraction (of the trauma work) to avoid completely shutting down around everything. At least with the trauma work, I feel like I’m getting somewhere. Maybe that was the wrong reasoning to give her today, but it was true in the moment. I don’t want to keep feeling like I fail this therapy stuff all the time (something I am so glad she understood and mentioned without me having to bring it up. kinda made me feel like she understands where my head is). There needs to be something in my life I feel that I have done right. I’m just not finding anything at the moment, not even therapy. I always feel like a failure and a disappointment. I can’t seem to finish anything I start because I peter out along the way. I don’t know how to maintain that energy at a level needed to succeed at anything. I really want to keep trying with this though. I’m fighting to keep coping, and to keep going back, and to stay present. I’m fighting the instinct to run away or shut down. I’m trying to keep my more adult/intellectual brain on hand to get through things. I’m trying to realize and voice when I know my thinking is distorted… I’m trying so hard to keep the little pieces glued together.

We talked about the hierarchy of needs. She asked me to rate where I felt I was on that. Honestly, I’m not sure. I haven’t really given it much thought… I guess I need to look the concept of working on the trauma  kinda like trying to work on the top of the pyramid while I’m watching a flood wear away at the foundations of it. But at the same time, working on that top piece helps reinforce some of the layers below. My sense of safety is very much impacted by the flashbacks, as is my concept of being loved/loving, and my self-esteem. The physiological needs are still being met at the moment. I’m working on at least faking a plan to keep those needs met (and TM can’t help with that part anyway). I really need her help with the trauma stuff. I asked her if she knew of any additional help for the housing stuff, she had no resources, so why bother wasting our time on that? I know I need to be able to cope safely with things, but can we agree that I will cope however I cope while also committing to returning to her weekly (in one piece) to deal with the trauma?

She wrote down my homework this week 🙂 It was another thing she did without me having to ask, though I would have if she hadn’t done it. I’m supposed to 1) figure out what my primary need is for the day, and if it’s something I need to act on, then do so. I think the concept of this one has me a bit scared, because I often don’t know what I need, but maybe it’s as simple as having a list of tasks for the day? 2) to assess my physical and emotional state and come up with a way to cope with it if it’s distressing (I’m guessing part of this came from me linking some of the vertigo to taking benadryl the night before for sleep). I’m picturing this step as “self-care”… and 3) read the handouts she gave me. I’m also supposed to journal (art or written) about how I feel or what I’m thinking each day. We were doing this at the end of session, so I didn’t voice how blank and empty I’ve felt lately. It’s been really difficult to express anything these last few days, but I’ll try (and keep trying) in an effort to do the stuff she wants me to do.

Part of me really had wanted to directly address the hopelessness today. We talked about it a bit, but I’m kinda glad she didn’t grab it and run in the direction of stopping all other work to address safety. As much as I was hinting at it and indirectly throwing it out there, it would have accomplished nothing but distraction. I know I’m safe. I know I’m going to keep myself safe. The thoughts and impulses are just a fear reaction to all this stress. I’m glad she was respecting that I had labeled it as a distraction tactic back when we started. Sometimes I don’t realize the frantic attempts to distract the course of therapy with that stuff (at least not in the moment when I break down and admit to feeling so utterly hopeless). We’ve already got one huge distraction, and that’s the housing situation. I don’t need to add another to it. What I do need is to re-attach my head and figure out how to move on with things.

After I left session, I found the courage to call 211 and the local SSA office. Unfortunately, there really are very little resources. There are even fewer when you don’t quite know what you need. It’s funny how, when asking for help, not only are we under the impression that we should know how to help ourselves before we ask for it, but that there really isn’t anyone available to help us figure it out if we have no clue. If by some miracle you do know what you need, chances are that particular type of help doesn’t exist. I know I don’t always function well when overwhelmed. I know I could use some gentle hand-holding and direction, but that service doesn’t exist (at least not for me)… so, guess it’s “sink or swim” around this. :/ (cue string of dark and hopeless thoughts followed by some good ole’ fashioned self-deprecation). I really need someone to help me see a gray area around what to do. I keep jumping to the catastrophic line of action that ends with all the animals being re-homed and me feeling beyond guilty and worthless. TM had asked if I had motivation to keep living outside of that provided by external forces (L, the animals, some family members). Honestly, at this moment there’s nothing, so I’d really prefer to keep my small pool of external forces as large as possible. While the dogs are the biggest obstacle to attaining suitable housing, they are also one of my biggest reasons to continually choose to live. The snakes couldn’t care less where they live, as long as they get food, water, clean living space, and mental stimulation. Maybe my big guy would be thrown by me no longer being his keeper, but the others don’t seem to be phased. Actually, I don’t even think he would be all that phased, but I’m very attached to him… Speaking of the snakes, I need to go thaw their food before I forget again today (yesterday was feeding day and I slacked)…

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I think she’s crazy… (and a metaphor for recovery)

Ok, so aside of kicking myself for not saying what I needed to in session today, I think TL is smoking something. She again said she could picture my art selling… I dunno. I guess I don’t believe anyone would actually like it enough to buy it. I suppose I could make some to try to sell and see how that goes… I also think I will try to make her something. I have a tradition of making “thank you & goodbye” gifts for therapists. Maybe I’ll do that for her too (though I’m not sure she can accept it, I may just leave it with her anyway). The idea I have for the piece would be kinda costly, but cool at least in terms of mounting. I’m still not sure what to do for the actual piece. I have an idea of what colors to use (she keeps saying she likes the colors on one of my journal pages), but beyond that I’m stumped…

As for therapy today, I’m realizing I have a lot of resistance to dealing with the body memory stuff. I get trapped in a vortex of my own judgement and the shame that goes along with it. The words catch in my throat. Then it’s too easy to go another route and not talk about it yet again…

I can’t remember exactly what prompted the conversation, but TL explained a great metaphor for recovery. She asked me to visualize a mountain. She then went on to explain that recovery and healing is a lot like climbing a mountain range. You struggle, you climb, you hit plateaus. You have to go down a bit on your way across the range on the to the tallest peak, but you are always higher up than when you started… It makes sense. I know that even with all my crashes, I’m still not losing every gain I’ve made up until that point. It’s easier to control the skitter down the incline. It’s a softer landing and the “bottom” is still further up than it has been in the past. It’s easier to start climbing again. I need to remember this metaphor. Maybe it will work its way into an art piece soon… maybe TL’s art piece. (Everest complete with prayer flags and snow and clouds… hmm…)

Regardless, I think I want to work on transitioning to a new therapist. I’m pretty sure it was all wishful thinking about being able to follow TL to a new agency because today she mentioned not wanting to have to work there long… so much for consistency. I did ask her if she thought I’d have to switch therapists again soon if I stayed with the current agency. She only said she hoped not, but she didn’t sound too sure. I hate the idea of keeping her coming back now that I’m either one of a very few clients she still sees there, or the only one. It feels like an inconvenience not because I get that vibe from her, but because I don’t like the special consideration. I don’t feel worthy of it… we also hugely ran over on time today, and it makes me feel guilty. It’s another thing I feel inconveniences her and is disrespectful to her time. I know it’s ultimately her responsibility to keep us to time, but I still feel to blame. I don’t want her to resent me for any reason…
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In an attempt to believe that TL is telling the truth about my art, I started on a larger piece today. It’s quite intimidating because I had gotten used to working small in my journal (most prior works had been larger). I’m figuring things out, trying new media and techniques. So far, I’ve gotten one layer of the bg done. I think this one will have the mountains I had mentioned earlier, though I’m not sure if they will be a focal point or simply in there as info. I think this will also be the piece I end up giving to TL (depending on how it turns out). I need a few more supplies for this however, because working on suck a larger scale would use too much of certain supplies. I think I will also need to go get a picture of mountains printed on a larger-scale of I get too lazy to paint them… then comes the frame idea. I think I can fabricate the frame on my own of I try hard enough, though it would be much easier to purchase even a custom frame for it (but really expensive I’m sure)… Anyway, here’s step one of the bg.
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Whatever it is…

I was thinking of a friend, and remembered that one of the most comforting things anyone had said to me when I was really low was this: “We’ll get you through this, whatever it takes.  We’ll keep you safe.”

Sometimes all a person needs is to know they are not alone in their struggle; that someone else recognizes their hurt and will stand with them through it. It doesn’t matter if it’s hormones, situational, or a chemical imbalance. To that person, it’s very real and very painful in the moment…

Sending love to all those struggling out there. You are not alone♥


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.
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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…


[insert appropriate title here]

my chest hurts from the anxiety and the pressure of my urges… Waiting to hear back from this clinician associated with wife’s work… EAP works for spouses too. I may just call them again and say she hasn’t gotten back to me. My head is foggy and the days and nights are difficult. I talked to my wife a bit last night, and it helped, but I still have way more to say that I don’t think I can say to her (or anyone, but we will work on that). Trying to stay motivated… applied for a few jobs, but I feel like a fraud doing it… how can I help others when I feel like this?! this all sucks…

on a positive note, this bout of stress brings with it a reduced appetite, instead of an increased one… and I know when not to drink… so that’s both good things… and I keep breathing… shaking, but breathing… heart’s too heavy… wish I could cry, but all that crap from childhood and my over-analytical mind keep me from it… sucks… i crave that other release… but holding steady-ish to the commitment of not picking up a habit of self-injury again…