Healing Isn’t A One Time Thing

As my recent posts have shown, I haven’t been in a good place emotionally. My issues and demons have re-surfaced in a huge way, causing me to doubt all the healing that I thought had taken place within me over the past few years.

The other evening I stumbled upon a performance (which you can find at the end of this post) from Demi Lovato. It was a case of the right place, the right time. I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through the night. I just felt utterly and completely broken. This video is the most powerful live performance I’ve ever seen. I felt it down to my core and have never connected as deeply to any other song as I did this one, and with the emotion channeled into it.

My therapy session on Wednesday was a raw, emotional one. From the beginning my therapist pointed out that I seem very emotional. I just didn’t want to hold anything back. I didn’t have the strength to either. Turns out the emotions I’m feeling around her pregnancy are partly jealousy that this little baby is going to have her as a mommy, and the situation has also opened up all those old wounds around my own childhood. Memories and emotions I just couldn’t hide or run from.

This performance wasn’t just relatable to me now, but fit as the anthem to my childhood and adolescent years too. The words are almost identical to my own countless pleas, especially when I was a teen. If I hadn’t burned all the pages of my diary back then, it would be littered with it. “Please send me anyone.” “Is there anyone?”, “No-one’s listening”, “can anyone hear me?” So that evening, the lyrics went down deep into my soul. It perfectly captured what I was feeling. I completely broke down. The story behind the song is just as powerful. She wrote it a few days before her overdose. Her story is actually very inspiring.

We all have demons that we are battling. We have relapses. That doesn’t make us weak. It doesn’t mean healing hasn’t taken place. It means we’re human. And even when it seems like we won’t be okay, that we won’t make it through, we can and we do. She’s still here. I’m still here. You’re still here.

“Reach out to somebody”. We see and hear that message so often. But it isn’t that easy. Sometimes we don’t want to burden others. Other times when we do reach out, we get hurt, or end up feeling worse or made to feel guilty for our feelings and thoughts. But we all need and deserve to have someone truly listen to us. To hear us. And it’s okay to reach out. It’s also okay that sometimes we reach out to the wrong people. It doesn’t mean we made a mistake. It just means that the other person maybe doesn’t have the ability/capacity to be a support. That’s something that I still struggle with. Blaming myself, feeling ashamed, feeling like I’m the entire problem when a cry for help goes unanswered or ends badly.

The suicidal ideation is still there. The darkness still huge. I’m not out of the woods. But I wanted to write this post anyway. For me, and for others also struggling right now who may be reading this.

Getting There

Yesterday was a better day.

This roller coaster I’ve been on seems to be slowing down. I’m not off the ride just yet, but the slower speed is a relief.

I’m proud of myself for one thing at least. Instead of doing what I would usually do, which is self-medicate with my benzo’s (more than what’s prescribed), I used the DBT Distress Tolerance skill of Urge Surfing and Riding The Wave. Just allowing myself to fully experience the urges for self-harm, medication, and alcohol, and feel the emotions that I so desperately wanted to numb.

I managed to cope with those intense feelings and urges by doing some physical activity right in my room, such as push ups. Something I find really soothing is lying stomach down on my fitness/exercise ball and slowly rolling back and forth, stopping for about 30 seconds every now and then to just breathe and feel the pressure and support against my stomach and upper body. It may sound weird, but it helps. I had to use a lot of my coping skills and tools, and I realized again just how important it is to have those.

Another urge I’ve had is to quit therapy (next session and the first of this year is next week Wednesday). Not because of my therapist, but because I’ve been wondering whether therapy in general is still worth it for me. Feeling like I’m sick of doing the work and still having these bad mental health days, to this extent. But I managed to avoid sending those emails and messages.

My main goal during times like these is to get through these moments in less destructive ways as far as possible. And I think I’ve managed that quite well so far.

The Place Of Emptiness, Apathy And No Purpose

I just finished an amazing book by Donna Tartt titled The Goldfinch, and want to share a paragraph from it that sums up my feelings (and opinion) about life.

“Because I don’t care what anyone says or how often or winningly they say it: no one will ever, ever be able to persuade me that life is some awesome, rewarding treat. Because, here’s the truth: life is catastrophe. The basic fact of existence-of walking around trying to feed ourselves and find friends and whatever else we do-is catastrophe. Forget all this ridiculous ‘Our Town’ nonsense everyone talks: the miracle of a newborn babe, the joy of one simple blossom, Life You Are Too Wonderful To Grasp, &c. For me-and I’ll keep repeating it doggedly till I die, till I fall over on my ungrateful nihilistic face and am too weak to say it: better never born, than born into this cesspool. Sinkhole of hospital beds, coffins, and broken hearts. No release, no appeal, no “do-overs” to employ a favored phrase of Xandra’s, no way forward but age and loss, and no way out but death.

I know. Morbid and dark.

Emptiness is a part of me. Even in my happiest moments, it’s there, lurking in the background. Waiting. It’s almost as though that’s my foundation, with all the other emotions laying upon it, and then when those emotions pass I return to that foundation of emptiness.

I’ve had a couple of those nights lately where I’m crying in a dream, and wake up crying. The sadness overwhelms me. But once I’m up the numbness sets in, and I go through the day not feeling much of anything. Not seeing a purpose for this life. For existing.

I’m just at the point where I don’t expect good things to happen anymore. For my hard work to pay off. Hope feels like something not meant for me. Accepting where I am. What my life looks like. Going through the motions, doing what needs to be done, but not really caring.

What’s the point of hard work when the only thing that comes from your effort is more shit. Never feeling like you’re able to move forward, because things just continue breaking apart around you.

But whatever.

This Unwelcome Feeling

This unwelcome feeling seeps into my soul. Where did it come from, and will it ever go?

It’s not a thought, nor is it really a desire. It’s a feeling that haunts me day by day.

Constantly lurking in the shadows. It’s presence can be felt even on the best days. I can’t stand feeling this way, and it never really goes away. Always lingering.

 

I don’t want to live.

Depression-Quotes-5375

I Am Not

I am not my past. The past represents those things we have been through. It’s external. Yes, it may leave imprints. It may have changed me. But it’s not who I am deep down inside.

I am not my mental illness, anymore than someone with a physical illness is that illness. It’s the deepest parts of our soul that make us who we are.

I also have a dark side. We need both the shadow and the light. This shadow side doesn’t make me a bad person. It balances me.

I will always just be me. Whoever that may be. Day by day, I’m learning who “me” is.

Attachment: Here We Go Again

I’ve gone and done it again.

I got attached to someone else. My psychiatrist.

When I first met her, that Friday that I booked myself into the clinic, I can’t remember most of our interaction. I saw her four more times after that, and didn’t know what to make of her. So there wasn’t an instant attachment, like I had with my therapist the first day I met her.

Then, yesterday, everything changed. I went to a DBT program that the clinic organizes for previous inpatients. As I was signing myself in, I felt a presence behind me, and heard a voice. I turned around and saw my psychiatrist. She smiled warmly at me, greeted me and asked whether I had an appointment with someone. I told her that I was there for the DBT group. She smiled again, and told me that she’s proud of me, which caught me unawares. She asked me to walk with her, and started asking how I’ve been, what’s been going on in my life, etc. I was surprised when she asked me about something I had told her in one of our sessions a few weeks ago. Surprised because I didn’t think she’d remember that so clearly. Especially since she sees a lot of patients.

Eventually we got to her office, and she announced me to her assistant (who I really like- she’s awesome), with a “look who I found”. It’s nice to be remembered. The instant my psychiatrist touched my hand, that was it. I became attached to this woman, right then and there. My vulnerable child self emerged, and I could feel her hunger for love and care. Psychiatrist had just done something that made her feel warm inside and cared for, and she wanted more.

The three of us spoke for a few more minutes and then Psychiatrist had to leave to go see patients. But before she left, she told her assistant “take good care of her”. She left with a gentle touch on my arm. I didn’t want her to go, and the vulnerable child felt so sad watching her leave, thinking that she might never come back.

The group was really good, but near the end we had to lay on the ground for some meditation. After a few minutes of that, I suddenly felt this overwhelming sadness. I felt my vulnerable child self becoming activated again. I started crying (I’m glad no one would see me), and just kept thinking over and over again “I want Psychiatrist and Therapist”.

Why do I find myself getting attached to someone because of a simple, caring touch? It’s not like that with just anyone though. And never with men. I can feel when it’s genuine and there’s a measure of care. And that’s when it happens. It’s an amazing feeling, but at the same time it’s terrifying. It’s just one more person to worry about being abandoned by. But I can’t stop it from happening.

My therapist is still my favourite and most powerful attachment. I’ve got a session with her tomorrow, and I can’t wait. She sent me a voice note last night, just as I was getting out of the car to go to group, telling me that she’s proud of me. I had reached out to her and told her that I’ve been struggling with abandonment issues a lot this past week or so, and I was in a young and vulnerable place. I told her I was forcing myself to go to the group, even though I didn’t really want to (I’m glad I went). It was so nice hearing her voice again, and I always love hearing her say that she’s proud of me. So I got two “I’m proud of you” messages yesterday. It felt good.

I’m seeing my psychiatrist next week Friday for an hour. But I don’t want to see her only then. It feels like a lifetime away.

What the hell is wrong with me?!

Never Thought I’d Be Here – Part Two

My experience at the clinic was a positive one, excluding the Friday of course. Once I settled in, I started feeling better. Friday evening I slept straight through, as well as every night I was there. Which isn’t normal for me. Usually my first night sleeping out I barely sleep at all. What made it different this time? Maybe it’s because I felt taken care of and safe. That could be it.

The first night I got room service, since I had a lot of social anxiety, and didn’t want to be around so many strangers in the dining hall. The food there was better than I thought it would be. I lost a lot of weight last year, and from a healthy weight, I’m now underweight again. I’ve always been small built and skinny, and I hated it. I’d get mocked about it in school. While others were worried about gaining weight, I was desperately trying to pick up weight for most of my life. Four years ago, I finally achieved a perfect weight. But last year, I lost it all, and more. For the past few weeks I’ve been trying to go back to that weight. I’ve started eating 4 meals a day (including a protein shake). So the 3 big meals a day and 2 snack times (and hot chocolate in the evenings) at the clinic have made a difference.

I had two awesome roommates. One of them was a lot like me … The two introverts. We’re still in contact, and she refers to me as Psychologist, which I secretly love. The other one (Roommate #2) is a complete extrovert (I’m still in contact with her too), and would drive me and Roommate #1 crazy (but she knew that and was proud of it). Being in that environment, no one judges, and no matter how ‘weird’ you are, they accept you. After all we’re in the same place together, and there for somewhat similar reasons. I liked most of the people there. So many different characters. It felt like a big family. I miss the environment and the people there. Even the nurses were great.

Then there were the groups. The groups are focused exclusively on DBT, so I went to a few of those. We also had art therapy. I miss the routine there, so I’ve been trying to stick to it at home now. Lot’s of self care, eating better, having a mug of hot chocolate before bed (strangely enough, it helps me sleep), and a host of other things. It’s bound to become habit as long as I keep sticking to it.

If I could, I would have stayed for the entire three week program. At least I know that when I really need it, I can go back again.

Here’s what I learned from my time at the clinic:

It’s okay to reach out for help, and accept it when offered. It’s not a sign of weakness, but rather one of strength.

Just because I feel ashamed of doing something I never thought I’d do, like going into the clinic, doesn’t mean that I have to give in to that shame.

Support groups are valuable.

A non judgemental environment, where I’m accepted, is so important. I want to surround myself with such people, and spend more time with those who make me feel like I matter, that I’m accepted and loved just the way I am. I need to find those types of people too.

I need to keep my heart open. Because the most unlikely person, might just become someone really important. Go out and meet more people. You never know who might be going through similar challenges.

Routine is valuable and important to me.

I can’t just help and support others all the time, I must also allow others to help and support me. I can’t be responsible for everyone to the detriment of myself (thanks for this revelation Therapist).

Some people are just draining. Spending more time with those who lift me up and make me feel good, is so healing. Limit my time with people who deplete my energy. I say “limit” because I don’t want to not spend any time with them, as there’s a difference between those who drain my energy due to a difference in personality (introvert vs. extrovert), and those who are a negative force in my life.

And most important of all…
The clinic isn’t as scary as I thought it would be, hence my avoidance of them my entire life. Making assumptions and judgements about things, from other people’s accounts, or from what I see in the media, is a recipe for disaster. Everyone’s experiences are different, so why fear those things that might end up not being scary at all.

Never Thought I’d Be Here – Part One

On Thursday morning I was reading something on the internet, when I started to feel uncomfortable. All of a sudden, that feeling erupted in a full on trigger. I immediately turned into a mess. I became that 14-year-old who had just been broken by someone she had looked up to and trusted. Images and emotions consumed my mind and my body. The emotions were far more powerful and painful than the images themselves. I felt like I was dying.

I wanted to phone my therapist right then and there. There was a huge battle going on inside me. Trying my hardest not to give into that desire to call her. We only had an appointment for Tuesday (yesterday). Then, I don’t know why, but the thought came into my head to phone a psychiatrist (I’ve been wanting to go to one for a while now). So I picked one of the two that was recommended, and phoned her office in a state. I couldn’t stop crying. I knew I couldn’t afford to see a psychiatrist, so why I felt the need in that moment to call her, I can’t tell you. She was so nice to me. I wanted to find out what her fees were, and instead she asked me whether I was on a medical aid. I am, so she suggested that I book myself into the psychiatric clinic where she works, and then I won’t have to worry about paying anything. I could see her first thing in the morning. I was so upset that I agreed. Psychiatrist had to keep reminding me to breathe.

So early the next morning, I packed my bag and made my way to the clinic. I can’t remember much about that morning. I remember seeing my psychiatrist, and being a nervous wreck.  All I know is that I was so scared. Not even scared. Terrified.

I’d never been in a psychiatric ward before. Later that day, I would feel ashamed that at my age, after having avoided it for all this time, I was now in the very place that I never thought I’d find myself. But shit happens, and now, in hindsight, I’m glad I went in. I was in the general ward, so it was voluntary and I could be discharged whenever I wanted to. But Psychiatrist recommended that I at least stay a few days.

The next thing I remember is lying on the bed in the room I would be sharing with two other women during my time there. I don’t even remember how I ended up in the room. I have no memory between sitting with Psychiatrist (even that is a blur), and finding myself on my bed. I had even unpacked my bag during that time. What the hell? Dissociation, that’s what the hell. I was curled up like a baby, unable to stop crying. Feeling disoriented, confused, and terrified. I didn’t know what was going on. Could I leave? Or was I trapped there forever?

Lying on that bed, I just wanted Therapist. I felt like a five-year old wanting her mommy after waking up from a horrible nightmare. As I mentioned earlier, I had fought against the desire to call her on Thursday, and plenty of times in the course of our relationship. But this time I couldn’t fight it. I wasn’t in touch with reality. I phoned her. So you must know the extent of my distress for me to have done that. The phone call is a blur as well. I can’t really remember what I told her, and what she said. But I can remember the feelings. How soothing and comforting her voice was. It felt like she was holding me. After our call, I continued crying. Partly because I felt like Therapist really cares, and I could feel that care. I guess it was tears of relief? I don’t actually know what it was. I was also still crying from the overwhelming feelings I had been having since going in that morning, and the day before. A little while after that, I started to feel more calm. Slowly coming back to reality.

This might sound really strange… Even though I am glad I had gone in and my experience had been pretty good, I still feel traumatized from Friday. I’m not even sure why. But I know that speaking to Therapist that day, made it a little less traumatic.

In the next post I’ll write about my experiences in the clinic, and what I’ve learned from it.