Caught Out In The Rainstorm

I’m done wishing and hoping…

For the friend I can rely on.
For the university qualification and job I’ve always wanted.
For the love that will stick around.
For the dog I long to be a home for.
For the freedom and security I strive for.
That this idea just might be the one to change my life.

Wishing and hoping don’t always give us what we want.
They say it’s action that can. And I’ve tried so much. So hard.
But I’m out of ideas.

I’m stuck.
I’m tired.

So I’m done…
Wishing.
Hoping.
Trying.

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If You See A Baboon, Get Out Of There!

I took the day off work yesterday. Monday was just too much, and I woke up yesterday morning with major anxiety. I was going to go with my business partner friend later that afternoon on a photography adventure, to go shoot the sunset further down the coast, about an hour’s drive away. So I decided to take the entire day off, and spent most of the morning in bed. So tired, and just wanting to hide from the world. I almost cancelled on my friend, but decided to push through. I wish I hadn’t.

When we got to the area that afternoon, we did some location scouting, which involved lots of walking and climbing. Usually I enjoy that, but not this time. My body was just as exhausted as my mind. My friend eventually found the perfect spot (she’s a professional landscape photographer), where she started setting her tripod and camera up. I wanted to wait a while because I saw a baboon come to sit on a rock a little way away from us, and I wanted to keep an eye on him. I told my friend a few times that we should rather leave. From the beginning I wasn’t feeling comfortable. But she wanted the damn shot. By that time there were a few more of those creatures, but they were further away from us and munching on the vegetation or something. She told me that they look peaceful enough so it would be okay.

Well, it wasn’t. The one on the closest rock started coming closer. I had my friends bag of filters around my neck. Before I knew what was happening the baboon leaped towards me, bearing his teeth and grabbed the bag, ripping the strap off. I jumped forward to try to grab it, but he was too fast and ran up one of the cliffs. My friend started shouting and screaming, but I couldn’t move. I couldn’t talk in that moment, let alone shout. She stood at the bottom of the cliff yelling at him to drop it. Well, he did, but all her filters (that cost her thousands) smashed when they hit the bottom. My friend was running around trying to collect the pieces, and then I found my voice, because he was coming down again. I still couldn’t raise my voice much, but managed enough to tell her we needed to get out of there. She told me she first had to collect as many pieces as she could. Suddenly he was down again, lunged toward me, showing his fucking teeth, and I took a big step back or jumped (I don’t remember). He turned away from me and went towards my friend. She had her camera backpack on her back, and I saw he was going after her or it. I reached her and as he grabbed the backpack trying to pull it off her, I tried to hold onto it too, but he was just so fucking strong! He ripped it right off and ran up the cliff again. I just wanted to get out of there. I wanted to run, but I also felt stuck and could only rock back and forth. My feet wouldn’t move. All I could think and say over and over was “we need to leave now, please let’s go”, (I don’t know if I was saying anything out loud or if I was just saying all of this in my head) but my friend was waiting for him to drop the bag as her car keys and wallet were in there.

I don’t remember how it ended, how we got moving, but I remember us walking through mud, rocks and plants and slipping a few times because we weren’t on an actual path. But we got back to the car, with no baboons in sight. I just wanted to go home, but my friend first wanted a drink, and since we were using her car, I didn’t have much of a choice. So we stopped off at some bar, which thankfully was very quiet, only two other people there. I always make sure I have Ativan with me in case I need it, but I had forgotten it! The one day I forget it, is the one day I needed it more than ever before. I had a glass of wine, but I unconsciously downed it way too fast. Added to how I was already feeling, the shock, I was so uncomfortable with my wet jeans, shoes and socks on, but didn’t want to take the shoes and socks off as the floor was filthy and I didn’t have any other pants with me. That on its own is enough to make me lose it, but I got through it. I was so angry with my friend, and I still actually am, but she doesn’t have a clue. I’m mad at myself too.

It was a horrible experience, but at one point (maybe it was the wine) I just started laughing at how fucked up the situation was and told my friend we’d laugh about it in the future. We saw a sign on the wall of the bar “Do not take life too seriously, you will never get out alive”, and we both laughed as if it was the funniest thing in the world. But that quote did bring a certain sense of light comfort at that moment.

I’m glad I got to see my therapist today. I needed to talk to someone who would listen and respond with empathy and compassion, and not like my dad, make me feel even worse about the situation, or my friend, just complaining how unfair it is to be a woman (apparently baboons, especially the alpha males, don’t respect women). I’m aware this sounds irrational, but I feel as if my love of being out in nature has been tainted. I don’t want to go on a hike or even go to the beach, at least for a while. I was already wary being out among the world of people, now I’m also scared of being out in nature.

I’m also really glad that my friend and I got out in one piece and weren’t seriously injured. I wasn’t sure we would. At a certain point I was convinced we were going to be killed. Thankfully, the other baboons just watched and didn’t approach. The crazy thing? She wants to go back for that shot! I told her I’m out. This is the last time I’ll stay in a situation where I’m not comfortable. If I feel uncomfortable, I don’t care if I lose a friend, I will get out of there.

Another thing I’m grateful for is that I had my camera equipment on my back as well, and it remained safe the entire time. It’s strange, but I’m not complaining. In the moment when all this was going on, I didn’t actually care whether he took it though, as long as I made it out alive.

And I did.

I’m glad it’s over. It’s going to take my body and mind a while to really believe it though.

Oh, How Quickly It Goes

I received my salary on Friday, and it’s all almost already gone. Bought some of the things I need for the month, made a few payments, and now just waiting for a few expenses to go off at the end of the month and that will be it, my account will basically be empty. It’s the same thing every month (when I haven’t had any web design or photography jobs like the past two months now).

I wish it was because I buy a whole bunch of crap and things I don’t need. Because then I could do something about it. My dad and step-mom send me to go buy things for the house and lunch and there’s always change, which I keep (they know I do). That change is then used to buy myself things I still need (like toiletries, etc) that I just can’t get my salary to cover. So I’m extremely grateful for those extra little amounts which get me through the month.

Finances are an area of great frustration for me. I hate having to rely on someone else to help me. It also brings a sense of guilt and shame. But for now, it is what it is. I have to accept this is how it is right now. What’s the point of stressing about my financial situation? It doesn’t change anything. I’m doing what I can to try get out of this situation, and that’s good enough.

It could be much worse, and in a way I’m lucky. I’m able to go to therapy, get my medication every month. I have a roof over my head, food to eat, a warm and cosy bed. It’s okay to feel upset over my financial situation sometimes. As long as I also try to balance it with the more positive view.

Money isn’t everything. I know that. But it sure does help.

No One To Take Care Of But Myself

It’s been such a relaxing day, and I’m feeling pretty good.

On Thursday I felt stressed because it looked like it was going to be a busy weekend. I had plans to meet up with my business partner friend on Friday, go to the dog shelter on Saturday morning, meet up with a lady from group afterward (not the other lady that I’ve vowed never to meet up with again), and spend time with Jasmine on Sunday. But I made a decision on Saturday morning. Jasmine could wait a week, and I would rather go to the shelter on Monday after work when it’s quiet (most people volunteer over the weekend).

I’m so glad I made that decision, because when I do too much over a weekend, especially socializing, I’m left feeling exhausted and am overwhelmed at the thought of work on Monday. My week then starts with me already feeling irritable. So this was a form of self-care.

Yesterday was a good day as well. I met up with M from group, and had a nice time. She’s absolutely lovely. She’s 75 years old (but looks 10 years younger), and had a daughter who shared my name, who sadly passed away a year ago. Yet, M is such a ray of light. She’s calm and positive (not annoyingly so). We spent almost two hours together and I left feeling relaxed and content. She’s definitely someone I want to make time for and keep in my life.

I slept in this morning, which was glorious, and have been feeling peaceful and relaxed the whole day, doing little things I enjoy. I’m content being on my own, and love being in my room the whole day without having to go anywhere. I don’t really get bored. I realized on Friday that I don’t have anyone to take care of anymore. It was never really my responsibility to take care of anyone, but it was a drive I had. It still feels a little strange only having myself as a responsibility, but it’s starting to feel okay.

As I’ve discovered, managing my time, social interactions and activities is so important to my well-being, and I feel like I did a great job with that this weekend. I’m grateful that I get to learn and practice taking better care of myself now and getting my own needs met. I still believe in kindness toward others of course, and helping where I’m able to, but I’m done neglecting myself in order to do this. I matter too. We all do.

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Why I Wish He Would Understand

I arrived in a state at my therapy session last week. It had been a crap day, with way too much sensory stimulation. There’s building going on next to my dad’s shop, and the store was in chaos… One of the really busy days. Phones ringing, everyone running up and down, loud voices, etc. I just couldn’t work, couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t do much of anything but listen to my music with my headphones on and try to calm my nervous system down.

It ended up with me and my dad fighting again, because he couldn’t understand why I can’t just ignore everything and focus on work. I tried to explain to him again that I struggle to drown out sounds and the constant movement (which makes me nauseous as well) and I seem to lose the ability to use my brain for tasks. I would have thought that he would get this by now as it’s always been a problem for me, since childhood, and a source of lots of fights, tears, threats, etc. I was struggling to explain it to him in a coherent manner while in the state I was in, because for some reason even my language and speech are affected during these times of a sensory overload meltdown. Add in the frustration I was feeling with him not understanding or seeming to listen, and me being unable to communicate properly. I hated him so much right then and was glad when he left the office. I was done talking. I just couldn’t anymore. I was exhausted, yet still extremely riled up.

On a Wednesday I usually leave for therapy straight after work. As I was driving there that day, I couldn’t focus. I felt disoriented and confused on the road. For example, which lane I’m supposed to be in, road signs, other cars. See what I mean about my brain not functioning the way it should sometimes? I’m just glad I got to the clinic without any incident. And that the waiting area was empty and quiet.

I was still highly worked up in the session, and I can’t actually remember much of what went on. I do remember though my therapist asking at some point why I need my dad to understand. That question was on my mind for days afterward. Logically, I know he doesn’t understand and he probably never will, and sometimes I can accept that, but days that like one, I just can’t.

Why do wish he would understand, or at least try to? It would save both of us (and anyone else involved) a lot of drama. Because maybe then he’ll stop fighting with me over the same stuff, which just triggers me and makes me feel even more overwhelmed and less able to cope with the normal day-to-day of living and stress that comes with it. And he won’t have to be on the receiving end of a meltdown (or in his view, a tantrum). Case in point: On Tuesday my dad wanted me to go buy lunch. He wanted me to go to a place I absolutely hate. A fish shop. My first instinct when he asked me was to blurt out “but that place smells horrible!” before I could even realize what I was saying and stop myself. Usually this is the point where he will either crap me out for my “attitude” or “laziness”, or the more extreme version, fly into an instant rage. But this time he didn’t do either of those things. He simply replied “I know”, in a tone of voice that wasn’t threatening or triggering. When that happened, I felt myself relax, and willing to handle the few minutes of nausea I’d experience while ordering. That moment, where I felt validated in a sense, just confirmed why I believe it will be beneficial for the both of us if he would at least try to understand.

So yes, I went to that place to buy them food, and even though I was only inside for a minute or two while ordering (there wasn’t a queue, thank goodness), my clothes and hair smelled of the place. Fish and old oil. I had to double wash my hair and I don’t want to see that jersey and those pants for a while, even though they’ve now been washed. But, I survived. My dad’s words didn’t stop me from experiencing those nasty “side effects”, but it helped regulate my feelings toward actually having to go through it.

I know people can’t truly “get” things if they don’t experience it themselves, but relationships would be so much better off if we all just at least try to listen to one another and understand where someone is coming from. Why they react in certain ways. And yes, I know that applies to me with regards to my dad as well.

Kindness & Gratitude #3

My doctor (GP) is one in a million.

From the very beginning when I first started seeing her, she gave me her email address and told me to keep her updated with how the meds are going, and even updates on my life. When I was in the psychiatric clinic, she made an effort to come visit me, bringing along a slab of my favourite chocolate.

She doesn’t pretend to be clued up on psychiatric meds, and rather calls my psychiatrist (saving me a ton of money) to make sure it’s safe and the best option for me and what I struggle with before prescribing a new medication. Thankfully we’ve found the right combination, so that’s not necessary anymore.

A couple of days ago she emailed me the following quote:

“Is there anything she can’t handle? She’s been broken. She’s been knocked down. She’s been defeated. She’s felt pain that most couldn’t handle. She looks fear in the face; year after year, day after day, but yet, she never runs. She never hides. And she ALWAYS finds a way to get back up. She’s unbreakable. She’s a warrior. She is YOU.”

I’m so grateful that I have an amazing team of professionals who go above and beyond for me. I know a lot of people aren’t so lucky, and I wish that professionals like those I have, were the norm, rather than the exception.

Where I’m Not A Burden

A few weeks ago I started volunteering at a local dog shelter.

I’ve been wanting to do it for months, but didn’t want to go alone the first time. I hate not knowing what to expect (it fills me with anxiety and/or panic), and therefore find it helpful to have a friend or someone else I know come with me so I don’t get overwhelmed. My business partner agreed to come with me, so I could finally go. Now I go alone, which I prefer, because I can control my time, what I do, and get alone time with the doggies.

It’s been really good for me. There are definitely challenges, because I tend to get attached to animals pretty quickly, and it breaks my heart leaving them behind every week. Especially one particular dog. My girl, Athena. Even though I walk different dogs all the time, I still at least play with her for a while every week, and might take her for a walk as well if I have enough time. I’ll add photos of her at the end of this post.

Spending time with these amazing creatures feels so good. It’s also my weekly exercise (I should exercise at other times during the week but it’s boring, so don’t). I might not be making a huge difference to their lives, but at least I can do a little. And that’s good enough. When I’m there, and with them, I don’t feel like a burden. I feel like I matter. At least to those doggies. I can smother them with love and they don’t push me away.

In one of our sessions when I told my therapist I was going to the shelter the next day to start volunteering, she was really glad to hear that, but told me to take different dogs every week so I don’t become too attached. But now she knows that’s just not possible (at least not yet). When I was telling her last week how badly I want to adopt Athena but that my dad won’t budge and doesn’t want a dog around, even if he doesn’t have to have anything to do with it, she encouraged me to continue going and not give it up despite that. She already knows me pretty well… That something like that (the disappointment at my dad not allowing me to have a dog while living with them) tends to de-motivate me from doing things that are good for me, or that I enjoy. I’m glad she said that because I have been wondering whether it’s worth the heartache of having to leave them behind when I go. But I want to do good in this world, and giving back to these dogs is one way I can do that. They deserve it.

Another reason I enjoy spending time with dogs is because it’s the one time when I’m out in the world that I don’t feel on high alert and sensory experiences don’t overwhelm me as much. Nothing else has such a soothing effect on me, other than a hug of course (which is always way too short anyway). I feel safe in the presence of large breed dogs in particular. Maybe it goes back to one of the family dogs we had when I was a kid. Her name was Cindy, a large cross-breed we had for about 5 years. She was my best, and only friend for a big portion of my childhood. I always felt safe and loved when I was spending time with her.

One Sunday when I got back from visiting my mom for the weekend, I couldn’t find Cindy anywhere. My dad told me they had put her down. She wasn’t sick, but she had bitten one of the other dogs. His theory has always been that the first sign of aggression signals that it’s time to have a dog put down (which I now know is bullshit). I was devastated. I didn’t even get to say goodbye. And his other dog, wasn’t even seriously hurt. She just had a little mark. I was furious, but of course didn’t express it in front of my dad. I’ll never forget that day.

There was another dog at the shelter, Apollo, who reminded me of Cindy, and I bonded with him the very first day. Last week when I wanted to take him for a walk, they told me that he had been adopted. It triggered this horrible memory of having Cindy just gone so suddenly without having had the opportunity to say goodbye. On the one hand I was happy that he got adopted and now has his own family, but a part of me also felt really heartbroken that day. Now? I’m just glad that he found his forever home.

I told A about my volunteering and she said it’s a good opportunity to work on my attachment. I hadn’t thought about it that way, but now I can definitely see it. A form of exposure therapy for people with attachment issues. Just wonder whether it will translate into human relationships? I don’t see why not.