I “Forget” People

I may have written about this before, but it’s really bothering me today. One of the most frustrating things about myself is that I seem incapable of holding onto an image of a person. I can miss that person intensely. I could have known that person my entire life and seen them nearly every day. Yet, when I try to recall what they look like, there’s nothing but a shadow. That shadow is blurred as well, so there’s no edges or silhouettes providing clues to their facial features, or even their body and the way they move.

When I walked into work on Friday there was a guy sitting talking to my dad. He left about 5 minutes later. I asked my dad who that was and he asked me how I couldn’t know, as that’s the guy that was sitting in the office talking to him for an hour the week before. The thing is, there were moments when that guy was talking the week before that I just stared at him (I enjoy watching people when they’re not aware of me), so you’d think I would have recognized him. Not so. I have to see the person a few times before I recognize them. According to certain people, this isn’t normal. I was once even told it might be ADHD related. That I’m just not paying attention. But that’s not always true. And I don’t have ADHD. Maybe something in my brain is broken. There have been a couple of times where I’ve seen a face in my mind during an extremely stressful moment, such as in a flashback or suicidal moment. I can count those on one hand though.

This has always been a part of my life. I remember a movie I watched as a kid. I can’t remember the name of it now. The boy in the story had just lost his mother, and told his father that he’s afraid he’ll forget his mothers face. The father told him that when you love someone you don’t just forget how they looked or the sound of their voice. This confused me. I thought that maybe it meant that I didn’t love my own mother or grandmother enough to remember what they look like when they weren’t around. Even if I had just seen them recently. I don’t think I ever asked anyone about this, but it haunted me back then.

There are a few people I wish I could “remember”, one of them being my grandmother, but I have to look at a photo if I want to see what she looked like, and I only have one of them. I can remember some exact sentences and things she said to me, but I can’t remember the sound of her voice. This really doesn’t help when you have attachment issues. It’s difficult to hold onto someone, to self-soothe with memories of that smile you got from an attachment figure or loved one for example.

I can’t even see an image of my dad’s face in my mind, and I just saw him an hour ago! Sometimes this thing is a blessing, but most of the time it’s just confusing and frustrating.

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The Good News And The Bad News

“Which do you want to hear first, the good news or the bad news?” I’ve always hated it when someone has asked me that question. The way I see it is that essentially the same thing is going to happen. You’re still going to hear both the good and the bad, so I don’t think there’s a “best” order in which to receive news. The question just seems pointless.

Life itself doesn’t ask us to choose. And that’s what happened just recently. Since completing the website of a restaurant, I’ve been waiting to hear back from the owner about possibly doing his other website. Also a restaurant, but a more popular and well-known one. A couple of weeks ago I sent him an email following up on his experience of the new website with a subtle “reminder” that when he’s ready to proceed with the next website, to let me know. When we first started working together, he had told me that if it goes well, he might ask me to design his other restaurants website. So it wasn’t a definite thing. He’s happy with the website I did for him, and told me that he’ll speak to the other owner about the other website. The other owner contacted me about a week later and we arranged a meeting. On Thursday evening, he let me know that he accepted my business proposal and will be making the deposit, so I can go ahead with the website. Good news!

Then last night I heard that my uncle, the one who lived with us for a while, has lung cancer. For the past week he’s been extremely sick, and would pop in at the office every now and then before going to the hospital for tests. He’s been struggling with his health for a while now, and every time I’d see him, he’d look worse and worse. Bad news!

I’m going to go visit him at home this afternoon, and I’m nervous. What do I say to him? How am I supposed to “act” around him now? I kind of don’t feel anything at the moment other than nervous, and I don’t actually want to go see him. I’m very awkward about things like this. My grandmother passed away from this very disease and I hated what it did to her. I never wanted to have to go through that again. But I know it’s not about me, it’s about him. But I’m still involved, and don’t quite know how to deal with it. I helped my grandmother when she was going through this, and it was torture. This makes me feel extremely guilty and ashamed, because I feel what right do I have to feel anything negative or to think about how it affects me, when they are the actual ones suffering?

It’s a long weekend, so no work on Monday, but I’ll be keeping busy with my own work on the website. I’m glad I got this job, and especially more so now. So I think this time, receiving the good news first actually made a bit of a difference. But again, life didn’t give me a choice.

Touch (And Hugs) In Therapy

I find it fascinating that when I’m contemplating or experiencing something, that topic keeps showing up in various ways and settings. It’s like that popular example of wanting to buy a new car, and the model and colour you’re especially interested in, seems to show up everywhere.

This time the topic is that of touch and hugs in therapy. I’m subscribed to a few different YouTube channels, two of those of therapists, and found one of the videos particularly intriguing.

There are so many people, therapists included, that believe that touch either shouldn’t have a place in sessions, or that it might even be harmful to clients. I’ve also read a lot of research and opinion pieces on the role of touch in the mental health field. It’s a very grey area. Through this, and through my own feelings and experiences of the matter, I’ve firmly believed (and still do) that touch can be important in a therapeutic setting. And that’s why I found this particular video really great. I’ll link to it at the end of this post.

I can remember a very good example of the power of touch during one of my therapy sessions. I was in a very chaotic state, disoriented and dissociated at the same time. It was a culmination of certain things that happened that day, and something that happened while waiting for my session to start. When we got to my therapists office (she had to take my hand to lead me there, that’s how disorientated I was), she sat down right next to me on the couch and held both my hands in hers as I slowly started feeling better. By her doing what she did, I didn’t feel like I was free-falling and alone in a place I didn’t quite understand anymore. I can’t remember a lot of what was said, but I can clearly remember the warmth of her actions, and how powerful it was for me at the time. I believe it’s what helped stabilize me much quicker than if she had just sat across from me as usual. Edit: She did first ask if I was okay with her holding my hands, before she did it. I believe this is vital, and that therapists should always first ask whether the client is comfortable with it.

Have you had any similar experiences in your own therapy? What are your thoughts on the role of touch in the mental health field?

You can watch the video here:

Struggling

I’ve been struggling a lot these past few days.

My sympathetic nervous system and good old Amy(gdala) thinks I’m in constant danger. My emotions are all over the place. For a couple of hours yesterday I felt completely empty, then another torrent of emotions.

Reading my previous post back, I’m aware that my current emotions will pass, but then what? It comes back again at some point. Like the ocean and waves, it’s never ending. Like I told my therapist today, using coping tools and skills is hard and exhausting.

My sensory system is even more sensitive lately too. Everything feels brighter, faster, louder, leading to me losing my shit much much quicker. Anxiety is a bitch. And my trusty benzo’s? Well, no effect, they’ve been pretty useless. Although I wonder if they haven’t actually been working, and I would have been even worse without them?

Thank whoever for therapy today. It was intense, and most of it a blur, but C was once again very comforting and helpful. We didn’t do much “work”, as most of the session was focused on helping me get regulated and become present, but I was exhausted afterward. I still am.

At the end of the session I got nice firm hug from her. I needed that so much. Hugging a stuffed toy just isn’t the same as close contact with another human. Just as an aside, we don’t always hug after sessions. It’s only happened about three times because firstly, sometimes I’m too ashamed/scared to ask for one, while other times I just don’t feel the need. I wouldn’t like regular hugs, because then it just becomes like a routine and while I thrive on routine, this is something different.

I’m not looking forward to waking up tomorrow morning. Just the thought of another day gives me a sinking feeling. I could take the day off work, but even that feels depressing.

They say struggles make us stronger, but it feels like the opposite is true. I don’t feel stronger. I feel weaker instead.

Remembering Emotions As Waves

It still catches me by surprise how quickly my emotions can change from one minute, hour, week, to the next.

When I wrote my last post I was in a pit of despair which had rolled over me while doing some movement and muscle exercises (sensory integration stuff). Everything just suddenly seemed pointless, and didn’t have the strength or energy to stop the spiral leading me down a dark road.

Once I’m in that dark place, most of the time I can’t even summon up the thought that it will be over soon. I forget that our emotions are like waves, they come and go. You know, the stuff we’re taught in DBT. In those moments it feels like it’s never going to end. That this is it. This is life. This is me. This is how it’s always going to be and there’s nothing I can do about it.

When I’m not in that place where suicidal ideation is so strong, then I remember that this too shall pass. Then I can see the waves and am more able to cope with the emotions rising and falling, crashing and calming.

Here’s to riding the waves.

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.

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. My therapist told me today that we could have a session while taking a walk on the beach sometime. But I’m not ready for that just yet.

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.