Group Spa Therapy

Group was lovely tonight. So different/weird-but-nice. It felt like a combination of time spent in a spa, and therapy. D, the OT, had lit candles in the room we were having the group in. There was even a light vanilla scented air freshener thing going on. Very romantic! We spoke about self-compassion, self-soothing, and the ACCEPTS DBT skill (Distress Tolerance). D passed around a variety of hand lotions, and showed us a hand massage video, which we had to follow along with, using whichever lotion we had chosen. Now do you get why I said it felt like I had spent time in a spa?

As usual, we ended off with a meditation/visualization, before we were sent on our merry way.

I’m linking to another video that D had shown us tonight as well. I found it so cute!

Now, I’m off to go roll myself up, and follow the video’s instructions.

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On Making Decisions

I had a great therapy session on Thursday, and we uncovered one of the main causes of my low mood and overwhelmed state.

We’re currently working through another topic in therapy, but I’m glad we didn’t continue with that one this time, as Thursday’s one was more urgent. It started with my therapist asking me how I’m really doing, telling me that she had read my blog posts, and to tell her about them.

I had taken that Thursday off from work, and dedicated that day to self-care. There were moments of guilt, where I felt I should be working. But I managed to challenge that guilt, and replace it with validation that I deserve this time to myself.

I’ve been overwhelmed and moody lately, as a result of stretching myself too thin. I have so many balls up in the air, and I’d be kidding myself if I thought I could keep it up.

Sometime during the session I was hit with a realization. It was something my therapist said, and the questions she was asking that brought this up. It turns out that my wedding photography business isn’t something I want to continue in. It’s the cause of most of my stress and overwhelm. Yes, I’ve been busy with so many things, but those things aren’t having as big an impact on my state of mind as this business has.

We explored this in more detail. How do I feel when I think of continuing with this business? Overwhelm. Panic. How do I feel when I think of pulling out? Relief. But there’s also some fear involved. The biggest one being talking to my business partner about this. Telling her how I feel. That I don’t think this business is working out, at least not for me. That I don’t want to invest myself in it anymore. My therapist then asked me another question when I mentioned being too afraid to have this discussion with my partner. It was the same question she had asked me last year when I wanted to get out of my long-term relationship, but was too afraid to. It’s a powerful one. It goes something like this: Would you rather deal with the consequences that happen as a result of the decision to leave now, and move on from it, or stay in it for another 30-40 years and continue being miserable? The answer seems pretty straightforward right? Well, that’s because it is. But that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy.

It’s going to be hard to let go of this business. I invested so much time and energy (and money) into it already. And like I’ve mentioned before, it feels as though I’m responsible for the majority of the work. I just can’t do it anymore. I don’t want to. It’s not just this though. I don’t want to work with brides and everyone else who will be involved. I don’t want to have to deal with all the paperwork involved. I don’t want to deal with products that are included (or purchased separately) from the wedding packages. I love photography, but not weddings. It’s a lot of work. I don’t think many people realize just how much work goes into photographing weddings, and getting the images and products ready for the clients. I’ve shot two weddings already. After the first one, I told myself “never again”, but what did I do? I did another one, and once again said “never again”. So what the hell was I thinking opening a wedding photography business? I don’t even like weddings. Even when attending as a guest.

The thing about decisions is that just when you think you’ve made the best decision, other things come up that you hadn’t even thought about when making your original decision. And then the questioning starts: “Have I really thought this through enough?” “But what if…?” New fears may emerge as well, as they did in my case: “What if we close the business down just when we were about to make a breakthrough?”. I asked myself this question, and a big part of me feels like the money won’t be worth all the stress. But then another part of me questions that: “Are you sure it won’t be?” I went from absolute certainty that this is the right thing to do, to doubting my decision.

Writing all this, I’ve decided that I’m still going to stick to my decision about giving it up. Why? Because of that initial feeling. That first moment where I realized that I don’t want to do it anymore. The feeling of absolute relief. The kind of relief that brings tears to your eyes. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

And those moments when the fear is silent, I feel FREE.

Death Wish

I didn’t spot you there in the shadows
Until it was too late
You’ve descended upon me once again
And I’m left wondering…
Where did you come from?
Why are you here?

Your presence is uninvited
But you don’t care, do you?
You just want to make yourself heard
No matter the agony you cause inside
Throwing as much darkness at me
As you can.

You’re my death wish.

Suicidal ideation has overtaken me once again. Driving to a business meeting earlier today, I suddenly thought of Jasmine and felt an ache in my heart. I miss her. So fucking much. I don’t know what’s more powerful… The anger I feel towards her, or the hurt.

As “luck” would have it, once I had settled into my seat at the coffee shop, my business partner told me that she had met up with Jasmine for breakfast over the weekend (they’re friends), and proceeded to tell me about it. I felt the tears come, and I tried my hardest to hold them back. But it didn’t work. I managed to stop pretty quickly at least. She’s one of those people who are uncomfortable around emotions.

It’s not just this whole thing with Jasmine. It’s work. It’s my financial and living situation. Life is exhausting.

I know I can talk to Elizabeth, but I don’t want to bother her. She has a lot on her mind at the moment what with work and studies, and I don’t want to add any more stress to her life. This is my problem, I need to deal with it alone. And one way I’m doing this is by writing here. I hope it’s enough.

Self-Doubt and Insecurity

On Monday night I was gripped by an ice-cold feeling of fear.

There was a thought:
“What if Elizabeth’s feelings toward me have changed?”

At the time I couldn’t put my finger on where that thought, and the resulting fear, had come from. I only became aware of the cause once I had calmed down somewhat. I say “calmed down” because that fear had turned into panic, and I had to put all my available resources into action in order to prevent a full-blown panic attack.

Elizabeth had let me know that she was going to go watch a show with one of her best friends. I had just come back Monday morning from having spent the weekend with her. Just as an aside, I have no problem with her having her own friends and activities away from me. I like that she does. As I mentioned before, I don’t want to be one person’s everything again. It’s exhausting.

It wasn’t the fact that Elizabeth was going out with someone else that upset me. When she told me, I reacted (and felt) the same way I always do, “that sounds nice, enjoy!”. It was only a while afterward that I started feeling the fear. But why? For some reason my mind fed me the lie that I’m not worth spending time with. I wasn’t thinking about it in the way of Elizabeth, but rather my own friends. I was also reminded about Jasmine, and the fact that we’re not in contact anymore. That made the fear stronger, and for some reason I got it into my head that maybe Elizabeth’s feelings toward me have changed as well.

I also had this overwhelming need to contact Elizabeth right then and there. I wanted to say “I’m sorry I’m not enough”. I wanted to say “I’m sorry I’m too much”. I felt panic rise up in my chest. An urgency to do everything I can to have her stay with me, and not leave me. It felt as though she were standing right in front of me, breaking up with me. This feeling was so intense, so painful, that my thoughts turned to self-harm again, which is something I haven’t done in a while. It was a fight to resist, and required a lot of different coping skills.

My mind was in utter chaos. My thoughts turned to how useless and worthless I am, with “proof” of this “fact” at every turn. This had been coming on the entire day, and I had now reached the tipping point.

The wedding photography business I had started with my business partner isn’t really going anywhere. The photography industry in general is so populated. These days anyone with a D-SLR thinks they’re automatically a professional photographer, and advertises as such. How do you compete with those offering their services for next to nothing, in an economy that’s struggling as it is? It’s so fucking frustrating! I feel like a failure in the photography industry. That I’m just not a good enough photographer, and that’s maybe why we aren’t getting any business.

A couple of weeks ago I got a request from someone to design and print her cards for her new business. I jumped at the chance. That job gave me the idea to start my own website and graphic design business. I’ve been using Adobe Photoshop and making websites since my family got our first computer when I was in high school, so I’ve had a lot of practice. I always did these things for family and friends, and I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of turning it into a business before. Better late than never though. A few days after making the decision to start this new business, I overheard a contractor who does work for my dad’s business, wants to have a website made for himself. I managed to get him to hire me. So this new business has started off well. I’ve also secured the job to make the website for the lady I did the business cards for. But she wants to wait until the new year.

While working on my own new business website, and doing all the other setting up tasks, I’ve also been doing two online courses in Photoshop (Diploma) and Digital Marketing. So I’ve been busy. I’m building my knowledge and getting a qualification under my belt, so I should be feeling empowered right? Instead, I still feel like I’m not good enough. That I’m a failure. So much self-doubt and insecurity was plaguing me on Monday, that I guess by that evening, it all just came to a head.

By the time Elizabeth let me know that she was back home after the night out with her friend, I had calmed down a little. The insecurity was still there, but it had dulled somewhat. The most amazing thing happened then. She sent me a voice note letting me know that she had wished I could have come with. That she misses me. That she loves me. I hadn’t sent her that message I had been aching to. So she had no idea how I was feeling. Her words were made even more powerful because of this. All the insecurity I had regarding myself in this relationship, and the relationship itself, just vanished. I hate that these things happen. That I suspect abandonment where none actually exists. That I need regular reassurance that I’m still wanted, important, and loved.

Today, even though I’m still struggling with some feelings of self-doubt, I’m able to meet myself with more compassion. I’m working hard. I’m trying to create a better life (and future) for myself. That must count for a lot, right?

Riding The Waves

I found myself starting to feel irritable this morning, but can’t pinpoint exactly when, or why, it started.

On the way to a meeting with my business partner, my irritation only grew. There had been an accident on the road, and the cars were barely moving. Sitting in traffic amps up my anxiety for some reason, so the combination of the two emotions caused havoc. Usually this would result in rage directed towards the cars (people) around me, but today it just brought me to tears. Crying, but with no clear idea why.

One thing that really frustrates me about my business partner is how much she relies on me to do things in our business. Most of the responsibility is placed on my shoulders. Why? Her excuse is that she doesn’t know how to do these things. Well, I didn’t know how to do some of these things either, but I made the effort to learn. She’s retired and has nothing but time, and I’ve shown her how to do some of these things before, so I don’t accept her excuse. Write it down for fuck sakes! The worst part is when she gets irritated with me because she feels I’m doing something wrong, or not getting results quickly enough. This is supposed to be a partnership, but most days it feels as though the failure or success of the business rests solely on me.

I know the best thing to do would be to talk to her about this. We get along great, and she makes me laugh. I’m scared of ruining things with her.

That’s one of my problems. I’m afraid of conflict. I leave a lot unspoken. This isn’t ideal. All these annoyances and thoughts stay inside me and simmers, turning into resentment. Which isn’t fair to the person, and it obviously has a negative effect on me too. So far the only two people I’m able to be completely open with in that way is Elizabeth and my therapist. But even with them, there are times where I’m still a little wary. The difference is, I eventually end up speaking to them about it quite soon anyway. With others, things are left buried for months or even years. Sometimes forever.

After the meeting, driving home, I felt the dark cloud of depression settle over me. And I’m still in it. I’m not even exactly sure what’s causing it. I know it’s not just the situation with my business partner though.

I know this feeling will pass. Emotions always do. All I can do is ride this wave and treat myself well. So with that, I’m off to bed and going to watch an episode of Frasier (a great feel good show) before I go to sleep.

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Moving Forward

Things feel different lately. I seem to have settled into myself and life as it currently is. Of course, that doesn’t mean that life is perfect and that I’m where I want to be. I’ve just made peace with where I currently find myself.

There’s a difference between accepting where we are, with no intention of improving ourselves (and life), and continuing to grow and make the changes we’d like.

For so long, I’ve been fighting to just survive. That was my daily goal. To make it through the day. But that’s changed. I’m no longer solely focused on survival. I’m no longer stuck with my default External Locus of Control.

While I’m happier than I’ve ever been, I also feel a little unsettled by this sometimes. Why? Quite simply, I’m not used to this level of acceptance and mood stability.

I could quite easily credit this stability to my new medication, but I’m not going to. A few weeks before stopping my previous mood stabilizer (I was on it for about 11 months), I had been in a really good place emotionally, like where I find myself now again. I went through a bit of a mental health breakdown while transitioning off those meds, and I’ve realized that maybe I’m not meant (or just not ready) to be without medication. And that’s okay.

I’ve been working extremely hard on myself these past 19 months, and it’s paying off. I believe that even if I wasn’t on medication, I’d still have made progress. The meds just makes it that much easier to work on my healing and self development.

I’m proud of myself for how far I’ve come. And I’m going to continue this forward momentum. Sometimes it might only be a forward leaning, other times the smallest baby step, and still others, giant leaps. Even if I take a step back sometimes, I’ll find it that much easier to take yet another step forward afterward.

I’m a work in progress. As are we all.

Life

The writing block I’ve been experiencing has lifted. It happened on Thursday after my therapy session. I had this desire to write a poem, and it just flowed so naturally again. And damn did it feel good.

During our session I could actually feel some mental block crumbling. I managed to express myself relatively well, and talk about some of those things I haven’t been able to even write about yet.

There are a few things I want to write about that I hadn’t been able to. I still have processing to do with those topics, so I’ll definitely be writing as I get around to it.

As most of you already know, I’ve been having a hard time since stopping the medication (Lamotrigine) that’s been serving as a mood stabilizer. I don’t believe that the decline in my mental health has just been due to that. There were other factors involved as well. I think that just made these other things harder to deal with.

My step-brother ran away from home again. Once again without so much as a hint to me that he was going to be doing that. I’m disappointed and hurt because he promised me after the last time that he would tell me when he’s planning to pull that stunt again, and let me know that he’s safe. But he didn’t. And once again, his phone was off for a few days. He eventually let us know that he’s moving out. He’s living with a girl friend and her uncle. He asked me whether I would help him take some of his stuff to his new place, so at least I know where he’s living (I’ve promised not to give my dad the address though). This whole situation has caused a lot of family conflict and issues. Things are tense here at home at times, and plain weird at other times. My heart sinks every time I walk past my brother’s room and remember that he’s not here anymore. I’m going to miss seeing him every day. Things just aren’t the same without him.

I’m also worried about my eldest younger sister, who my mom is convinced is back on drugs again. All the signs are apparently there. It’s hard living so far away from my mom and sisters. It’s frustrating, especially at times like these.

Then there’s Jasmine. I haven’t seen her again since the time I wrote about in my post “Elizabeth, and the Dilemma“. I’ve sent her messages from time to time asking how she’s doing, and letting her know that I’m still around and here for her. It takes her a few days to respond. Last week I sent her a message saying that I think it’s about time that we get together and talk this whole thing through. She agreed to meet on Friday, but then sent me a text telling me that we won’t be meeting up anymore. It’s Monday, and I still haven’t responded to that message. This is the first time I’m “ignoring” someone. I’m angry. Hurt. At this stage, I’m not even sure whether it’s a good idea for us to remain friends. That maybe it will be better to just cut ties completely. That idea hurts. But it feels better than this feeling of being in limbo, and not knowing when or what is happening or going to happen, and knowing that there’s a possibility that she’ll end our friendship anyway. I mean, if she’s not even able to meet up with me for coffee, how’s it going to be when she meets Elizabeth for the first time? Is it going to be awkward? Probably. I just don’t know what to do. I don’t want to do anything I might regret, so I’ve decided to rather just step back. I’m not going to reach out to her anymore. The next move (if there is one) will be hers. I’m done.

Another little update. I’ve started a new medication, Dopaquel (Quetiapine). So far so good. No side effects as far as I’m aware, other than the obvious drowsiness that this med is known for. I take it in the evening’s, and it helps me sleep… It’s glorious. I’m hoping this one will be it for me.