Kindness & Gratitude #3

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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.

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Healthier Perspectives

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On Wednesday I had a therapy session with the psychologist I was seeing while an in-patient at the clinic. I’ll write more about what’s happening with my therapy once I’ve had a session with my usual therapist, who is currently on leave.

When I got to the clinic, I ran into one of my roommates (who is still there). It was lovely to see her again, and we spent a few minutes catching up before my appointment.

In our session I told the therapist everything that I had mentioned in my previous post. I was worried that I’m disconnecting myself from people. She told me that she doesn’t think that’s the case. Especially since I’m still keeping in contact with my friends and family, and have made plans with two of my closest friends for Sunday (today), which I’m looking forward to. She saw me interact with my roommate before our session, and with the OT I used to have sessions with (she walked by and I made a joke with her). When the therapist told me all this, I knew she was right. I’m not pushing people away.

Since my time in the clinic I’ve developed a healthier view of connection. It didn’t start in the clinic though. I believe it’s been happening for a while now, and the breakup with Elizabeth also played a big role towards pushing me toward that healthier perspective faster.

I’ve been feeling so strange, because I’m not used to this new way of being. Over the past few days it’s starting to feel more normal. I think I’m settling into my “new” self. I’ve been practicing mindfulness every day, and am starting Yoga tomorrow. I’m taking much better care of myself these days. I’ve been learning what my limitations are. How to listen to my body. To my mind. I’m working on myself from the inside out, and I can feel my self-compassion and confidence grow. I’m also less compromising on my boundaries.

On Friday I went for a job interview. It’s for a half-day position, which is perfect for me. The interview started off well, and I was enjoying talking with the lady who was interviewing me. Then, the general manager of the company walked in and took over the interview. I wasn’t expecting this at all. My agent told me I was only meeting with the accounts manager. It was also a last-minute interview, so I didn’t have time to prepare beforehand. His questions, and the way he asked them, threw me. I felt a panic rise up inside, and the urge to run. In that moment, I mentally took a step back and allowed myself some time before I answered one of his questions. I told myself “It’s okay. Just do the best you can. That’s enough. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get this job.” That helped calm me down enough to put on a confident face again and continue on with the interview.

I was so relieved once it was done. I had been there for almost an hour… One of the longest, most intense interviews I’d ever been for. As I was walking back to my car, the old familiar voices started coming. “You blew it.”, “You can’t even interview properly.” etc. As soon as I noticed these thoughts, I started reframing them and talking back to that critic with words of compassion and love. After the interview I was convinced it was a failure. But after some self-compassion I realize that it wasn’t a complete disaster. There were good points too. Within 10 minutes I started feeling better. I bounced back quickly, and felt pretty good the rest of the day.

Last night I felt sad for a while. That my relationship with Elizabeth didn’t work out. We shared a lot of good times together. I miss our early days, and even some of the more recent moments. I miss her touch. The way she used to look at me. I miss her. But this wasn’t an overwhelming sadness. It felt more of an acceptance type of sadness. It didn’t work out. And that’s okay. I hold no resentment or bitterness toward her. She did what was best for her, and it was also the best thing for me. She’s coming through to my place tomorrow to collect her things, and I don’t know how I’ll feel when I see her again. But I’m ready. I don’t know if we can still be friends, but I’m not making that decision yet. There’s no rush.

All in all, I’ve been well. And I’m grateful to be alive.

Impermanence

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Last night I was deeply aware of the impermanence of life, and everything it represents.

I was sitting with a sadness that can be described as bittersweet, instead of dark and heavy.

The event that precipitated that mood and experience was what took place during group on Tuesday evening. It was the last meeting for the year, and one I had been looking forward to from the beginning of the week. Little did I know it would be the worst one I’ve attended.

The psychologist who was leading the group opened up with an announcement that they’re changing the way the program runs. It will now only be a 12 week program. Those of us who have been attending for longer than 12 weeks, would be having our last session at the beginning of February. So much for “you can attend for as long as you want.” Such a let down. There are about five of us regulars who are immediately affected by this decision. And needless to say, none of us were happy about it.

This announcement was poorly executed in my opinion. I feel it would have been better had he told us this closer to the end of group, and allowed us to discuss it then. Going into skills training after that announcement wasn’t the wisest decision. And I’m not the only one who thinks this. Another thing. Telling us this at the end of the year? During a month that a lot of people struggle with as it is? Perhaps waiting for the new year would have been the safest option.

Two of us left about halfway through. Staying just felt pointless. I had a lot of confusing emotions bubbling under the surface, and I just wanted to get out of there. That safe space suddenly felt unstable. For most of that evening, I was cycling so fast between different emotions, I couldn’t pinpoint just one to deal with.

It was only late that night, while talking to Elizabeth about all of this, that I realized the subconscious driver of these emotions. That of abandonment. I have felt rejected by the OT I had been seeing for a while for individual sessions, and now by the entire team. But this time, I’m not the only one who was being abandoned. There are others involved as well. Some of them more in need of these regular group sessions than others.

Before talking to Elizabeth there were a lot emotions and underlying thoughts that I wasn’t fully conscious of. So when I was speaking with her, and these things were just flowing out of me, I was surprised by some of them. I found I was having a lot of paranoid thoughts. She validated them, and told me that she can see how I made those connections, but that it doesn’t mean they’re true. I was surprised when she told me that in a situation and time like this, we need to look at what we know. Look at the facts. So she helped me with that exercise. I didn’t even know she knew about this. And it’s one my therapist used a lot with me. So it was actually very helpful and soothing having Elizabeth do this with me as well. She also helped me put things in perspective.

One of the fears I discussed with her, was that of losing my therapist. After all, I had just experienced how something that can feel so stable and predictable can so suddenly end. What if my therapist decides our time is up… that I’m ready to end therapy? I told Elizabeth some of the things my therapist had told me over the course of working with her. She told me that she doesn’t think my therapist would go back on her word. That from everything I’ve told her about Therapist, she sounds ethical and professional, and that her care for me is genuine. These days, deep down inside, even when these fears of my therapist abandoning me come to mind, I can still (if only minimally sometimes) feel the secure, stable base we’ve built, and trust in that. Trust in her, and our relationship.

All of this made me sit up and take note of the impermanence of things. I thought of some of the people I’ve lost. I missed some of them so much. But I also felt a great sense of gratitude for these people. Even for those who had hurt me, and abandoned me in horrible ways. The truth is, not everything was bad. There were good moments too. And those are the moments I focused on and felt grateful for.

Nothing in life ever hurt me so badly that I could not survive. I made it through. I’m alive. The good might not have lasted. But the bad also came to an end. None of it was permanent. This is why it’s so important to appreciate those souls we have in our lives, and let them know from time to time how much you value and love them. You never know when you won’t get that chance again. There’s so much I wish I could have said to my grandmother, things I wish I had done differently during her final days, for example. I didn’t get a second chance. But I have the chance now, with those still in my life.

I sent Elizabeth a voice note (I wanted her to be able to listen to it whenever she needs it), telling her how much she means to me and how deeply I love her. I did the same with a few other people I value. By doing this, you’re giving these people a beautiful gift. One that money just can’t buy. So I encourage you, go ahead and tell someone how precious they are to you. How their very existence brings light into your life. Don’t wait. Things can change and end in an instant. Tomorrow may not come.

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