When the Mind is Full

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via Addicted to Success

When you have made the calls

And sent the messages, the texts, the emails

That you feel are only the truly fair ones to send

And you still end up alone in your full mind

With it buzzing away and you not being able to reign it in

You turn to your list of “coping skills”

There is a brief moment where you feel hope

But in your gut, decidedly, you can sense the pointlessness

It is in this position that you find yourself, once again

Full of words, with no one to spill them to

In a situation where you would feel it is fair

To release all of the blackness into another’s ear

And so you sit with the feelings

Because wise ones told you if you rolled with the emotion

Rolling like a wave

That it would go away.

With time, apparently, though who knows how much.

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Symptom Smack-Down…Take THAT, Beastly Irritability!

It is not exactly official, but any therapist I have ever had, as well as my mother and numerous boyfriends have said that I am the queen of being hard on myself.  Now, I like the idea of being a queen (Let them eat cake! Ha!), but I don’t think this is the sort of thing that I need to continue to be proud of.

There are tricks to not being so hard of yourself, and I learn and then unlearn and then relearn them about every three days.  Or more often, if the circumstances merit.  Just like the rest of life, your response to life will really vary based on hundreds of different factors.

I have been trying especially hard in the last ten days to be gentle with myself, because I have had some physical maladies (getting both toenails pulled surgically from my big toes) and rehab time with those maladies, and some psych med issues, not to mention being far off my routine (mostly because two toes have been keeping me at home, fairly immobile) — well, it was really too much for me to think that I wasn’t going to have a stumble or two.

Now, the beauty of getting older (and I mean, one of the MAIN beauties) is that, every once in awhile, you learn your lesson.  Sometimes you have to repeat it two or three or five hundred times, but it gets learned and it sticks in your head and, every great once in awhile, the stars align just so and BAM! you work yourself through your issues without going into great drama and hysterics.

I say maybe, because although the last ten days was fairly manageable, I had some seriously hysterically tearful moments.  Happily, I can say they were short-lived and didn’t put a damper on my entire life.  I have found that there are things (things, yes, these things) that can be done to make life a bit easier.

For me, I have rediscovered that I need quiet/alone/introvert time at least a few hours every day, and if I don’t get it, I become very, very cranky.  This has maybe been a hard lesson for LarBear to learn, but as an example, about thirty minutes ago, I yelled, or maybe just said loudly, “Ok, I’m going to the office,” and he (for once) didn’t take  it personally.  He is starting to “get” me, after all this time, thank goodness.  So here I am, with my headphones on.  I shut off my peripheral vision (just in my imagination), and have been sitting at my glorious desk, crafting this superb document for the interwebs (ha!) and doing my very best to stay in the moment.

It really does work, at least for me.  A few of the other things that help me are music (loud in headphones, preferably), taking a drive, a shower, lighting a new candle, putting on makeup, sitting on my front porch, writing things down in my planner, and last, but most certainly not least, I do a lot of journaling in my altered art journals.  I also make these little books out  of scrap paper.  I am going to end with a few pictures of altered art journals and the mini books so you can get an idea.  They are pretty awesome, another amazing thing I have learned from art therapy.

 

 

 

 

Another Day, Another Monkey Wrench, Solutions Welcome! (gibberish and rambling are included!)

 

I am not sure why I can’t seem to remember that I am absolutely powerless to control pretty much anything, especially the whim and will of other people or the weird Kansas weather or (to a degree) how my body will react (generally dramatically, whichever the direction) to a big medication adjustment or how my frizzy-ish hair is going to handle the day’s vacillation in humidity.

Here we are, another week has gone by, there have been ups and downs, but I am surviving, and am in fact surviving in somewhat decent humor.  A bit over a week ago, things were getting a bit too roller-coasterish with my mood, and my Seroquel was increased (for the second time this month) and I really thought that was not going to affect things (overall), too much.  I was, of course, terribly wrong and while it has given me moments of extreme grogginess, the really irritating thing is that I am just extremely hungry at all times, no matter what I have just eaten or what else I have done that day.  In addition, the sugar/carb cravings are back and I really do put a lot of that on the Seroquel.

Some of it is me, though — me not handling anxiety well, me not handing “change” well, me just reverting to slacker (eating) ways.  The other problem the past week or so has been that I have not been able to do my normal exercise routine, partly because of bad knees, but mostly because of serious toe infection (both big toes) and extreme ingrown toenails.  My primary care, thankfully, decided that now was the time to pull both toenails.  They  have actually been giving me trouble for years, so in a sense, I am happy to start over with a fresh nail bed, but it was quite painful and remains a bit more than slightly painful, the dressings are not easy to change, and I have had to back off of my daily trips to the pool to do aqua aerobics.

I am on Day One of no exercise, and one would think I would be faring better, especially considering years and years of slackerdom and the past year in which I barely moved from the couch.  No lie, however, I am going quite stir crazy and have been bouncing from project to project to project.  Nothing is satisfying the itchiness inside my brain, and to keep that itchiness company, my stomach is constantly complaining that it be filled.  It is a miracle that I am not hugely over-eating my plan calories allotment, but the desire is definitely there.

I am going to have to figure out some more creative ways of telling my cycling brain to shush, of telling my growling tummy that it is not in fact starving, of settling the  feeling in my legs of wanting to bounce around, and so forth.  I am employing all of the usual remedies, like chair exercises, doing new crafts, working on special projects for others, reading, talking Kizzie and Lucy’s ears off, browsing the internet, trying to organize different spaces.  I think I need something totally different, and I have thought about it all day and decided that maybe YOU have the suggestion that I am needing.

So please, do tell, what amuses you when you feel similarly?  I am pretty open to suggestions, provided it includes nothing illegal, smoking cigarettes, or imbibing in any kind of mood-altering substance.  Let’s hear it!

New Physical Malady Intersecting with Existing Mental Illness Equals a Flare on Both Sides

I know I have blogged briefly about my skin issues and recurrent staph infections and the like, and now I have an official diagnosis:

Hidradenitis Suppurativa

You can read all about it in that link, or you can just know that it is a very painful autoimmune disease, with a genetic component, has no cure, and basically a person with this disorder has sweat glands that never developed correctly and is plagued with boils, nodules, and blisters that develop most often in places where skin rubs together.  It is considered a rare disease, there is much conflict about how to treat it (from surgery to antibiotics), and it is really hard to find a doctor that knows much about it.  There is a great deal of stigma around the disease, as misinformation abounds and let me just say that it is NOT caused by poor hygiene and it is NOT caused by being overweight (although some people anecdotally find relief by going on keto diets).  It is believed that everyone has different triggers for flares, and so far I have found that my main flare is stress.  That is a relief, of course, since heaven knows I have no anxieties or great fears or stress.  Hahahahahah!!!

I have actually be unknowingly dealing with this disease for years, it has just now reached the point where it is much worse and is needing treatment.  I learned of the diagnosis a week ago, and, rather than being disappointed in having yet another label to my name, it is actually helpful because now I can research and pinpoint and see what might help me.

I have my primary care doctor making a referral to the premiere teaching hospital in my area, basically the same place where anyone goes when they have a rare or serious disease and is not receiving adequate care locally.  I am hopeful to have an appointment within the next few weeks.  In the meantime, I am just trying to minimize pain, not aggravate things, and learn all that I can.

This flare in HS symptoms has created a bit of a flare in my depression and anxiety, which were on the uptick before I even knew this was what I was dealing with.  I am trying to stick to building structure and building mastery, as in keeping a schedule and trying to do new things out of my comfort zone.

LarBear has not been well lately, and it is becoming clear to me that I need to at some point learn that YES I CAN go into a grocery store by myself or go into a gas station and pay for gas or all of those little tasks that he takes care of so that I can pretend I don’t exist in the world and keep me from interacting with anyone.

I am midway through this current round of DBT group, and have discussed with my group leader, and I am going to at the very least take a break after it is done.  I have about six more months in this module, so its not coming to an end anytime soon, but I really feel the need to leave myself the possibility of more sessions in the future (insurance limits to four) and I am also getting slightly bored with things.

I have been having the hardest time leaving my house, and I think part of that stems from the fact that my house is so comfortable and clean and chaos-free now.  I do a lot of sitting on the porch and listening to music and writing, but have not been doing much crafting.  I really feel as if I have no talent whatsoever and I especially feel like I am wasting my time in art therapy.  Ok, I’m painting, but I’m horrible at it.  I am a failure at it.  I really just don’t feel a creative bone in my body other than writing.  At least I still have writing.

I went through a meltdown earlier this week because I decided that I was not entitled to the depression I have been feeling.  I mean, life is GOOD, I just feel so very sad.  Very, very sad.  I can’t explain it, and I can only hope that working on building structure and building mastery and trying my hardest to stay busy will bring me out of it.  That, and my med doc has given me a tiny dose of an antidepressant that is an SNRI.  Just hoping it doesn’t make me manic.

So, that’s life for now and I’m going to keep on living it.  My survival rate to this point is 100% and I intend to keep it that way.

I Have A Plan

I vacillate between trying very hard to use DBT skills and basic coping skills and all of the “tools in my toolbox” and throwing my hands up in the air.

The Rosa of the past didn’t believe in recovery, and the Rosa of the current still isn’t sure about “recovery” from mental illness, in general.  Do I think things can get better, yes.  Do I think they can stay that way, not really.

After my therapy session yesterday, I have come away with a few goals.  Goals that the Rosa of before would not have meshed with.

They are, in no particular order:

1) Daily hygiene every day, plus a bonus if I can put on makeup and try to pretty myself up.

2) Sun lamp 30 minutes, two times a day.

3) More time out of the house, doing what, it really doesn’t matter.

4) Eventually get back to the pool.  The staph infection issue is ongoing, so I can’t do much about this right now.

5) Stop thinking about the zebras.  You know, the zebras, the constant and negative thoughts that come from the brain.  Try replacing the zebras with a giraffe, or an elephant, or maybe a cute teacup pig.

I have come to the conclusion that I can’t fret about my weight too much at this point, because it is clear that it will be an extra-supreme challenge in which I may or may not have to make serious decisions.  The plan is to continue eating right, with small meals, and try to increase fruit/veggie intake.

Above all else, I will continue to avoid negativity and will cut it out of any corner of my life in which it will be lurking.  This may mean cutting some people out of my life, but so be it.  I actually went through the million blogs I follow and unfollowed some that are simply always so negative without even a hint of positivity or solutions that may be found.  Bloggers that wrote all the time about things that were triggering to me were deleted, too.  I hope someday I can come back and read some of those, but I simply can’t right now.  Chances are, it’s not your blog I stopped following.  Most of those people don’t read me.

I am going to have to do something different with jewelry/crafting, and I’m not sure what that is, but I’ll think of something.  I don’t think I am going to meet the October 14th deadline of having pieces in for the holiday show, but at this point I think it is more than I can manage.

I may be starting an adaptive yoga group that my art therapist is trying to get together.  I am excited about that.  As in, yoga I can actually do, maybe seated at a chair or in some other fashion.  I really hope she is able to get some numbers together so I can start that.

Day by day, broken down into manageable chunks, I will get through Fall, Winter, Hell of Winter, Spring of Winter.  I will because I always do, and there is no point in giving up now.

The Ten Things I Can’t Seem to Admit to in Therapy

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This will end up being a list post, but I want to first interject that it is hard as hell living with mental illness and every good day should be celebrated.  Don’t get me wrong, there HAVE been good days, and there will be more.  Right now, what I am trying to purge from my system is all the negative stuff that I can’t seem to talk about in the place where I need to the most:

1) My nightmares have come to the point again where I am terrified of sleep, terrified of bed.

2) The stuff of nightmares keeps me from wanting to leave the house…like, ever

3)  I have not seen the inside of any type of store, including even a convenience store, in over two months.  I have not even tried.  There are people in there, you realize.

4)  I have been hiding my crying spells.  From my therapist, my med doc, my art therapist, LarBear, my mom, my dad.  I know what crying spells mean, and I don’t want anyone to know it is happening at an alarming rate at this point in time.

5)  I absolutely cannot manage without Klonopin at scheduled times throughout the day.  I keep trying to skip it, and I keep having breakdowns and am told to take my Klonopin.

6)  I am stuck with my jewelry.  It’s not fun to make, to plan, to do.  I feel absolutely defeated by the lack of activity on my Facebook page for it, and I end up giving it away because I don’t think it is good enough, anyway, to sell, and neither, apparently, does anyone else.

7)  I am very close to giving up on some various people in my life.  I decided a while back to no longer be in contact with my ex-step-father.  I am very close to that in a few other relationships.  I am tired of caring and not getting caring back.

8)  I don’t feel like there is a safe place for me to go whenever (if) home begins to feel unsafe.  They use the crisis house as an overflow for social detox — the award for fuckhead of the year goes to whoever made that decision, because if I am sick enough to be there, I am too sick to not be taken advantage by one of those addicts.

9)  My weight is at an all-time high, and I am not sure what else to do.  Sure, I need to move more, but I eat quite healthfully and smaller-size portions, and Seroquel (my psychiatrists guess) or the tides of the moon or terrible chemistry makes me gain ten pounds if I so much as look at a cheeseburger.  I have completely stopped bingeing, and I am gaining weight.  There seems little fairness in that.

10)  I get tired of feeling depressed constantly, so I often put on that mask that says everything is fine.   Dear Mental Health Gods:  I am really, really tired of having to do that.  Most things in my life are going swimmingly right now, can I please catch a break?

Refraining From Taking the Weight of the World Onto My Shoulders

It has taken me most of my life to realize that the problems of others, the problems of the world, the problems of problems of problems past, are not necessarily mine to carry every day on stooped shoulders.  Part of getting healthier with Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), is setting boundaries.

Ok, it’s not just part of it, it is CENTERED around making healthy boundaries with the people you come into contact every day, with people you don’t even know, with the world.  I have realized over the last year of DBT that, in some of my personal relationships, I would personally take on the weight that is on others’ shoulders and make it my own.

Not only is this completely unnecessary, it is damaging to the relationship and to the other person, as well as (hello!!) damaging to the self.  If I have a friend who is struggling, it does neither of us any good if I spend mass amounts of time worrying about how to “fix” that person’s problem.  Chances are, that person doesn’t even WANT me to “fix” the problem, she just needs an ear.

Very rarely in life should we take on others’ problems as our own and go about “fixing.”  For one thing, my “fix” to your problem, maybe be a “fix” that you can’t tolerate or can’t sustain in the long run.  What I have learned is that, while it is fine to give advice from time to time (depending on the subject matter and how close you are to said person, to name a few restrictions), what is much more important is building that other person up, regardless of what exactly they are going through, and letting that person know that you support them and that you believe that things CAN get better, and perhaps most importantly, that things are not necessarily their fault or that they are not a “bad person” because things are going a certain way.

People need validation, reassurance, a kind word, a loving touch — not for you to solve their personal crises, or even necessarily to make suggestions as to how THEY might going about solving their personal crises.  It is very important to practice nonjudgmental stance with peers, family, romantic mates, nearly everyone.  You might be thinking in your head, “how did this idjit get into this pickle?” but of course, you saying that out loud is going to help no one.

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And if you think that over and over in your head, and judge a person’s actions or inactions about a particular matter, all sorts of gross and inappropriate judgements may sow themselves into your brain, and that will make supporting this person all the more difficult.  It is only very recently that I had an instance where I thought I was “helping” someone with their problem, and it turned out that they very much resented my advice and insight into the subject.

I thought by giving advice as to what  would do in a situation would somehow fit their somewhat similar situation, but people are different, inside, and out, and MY solutions would not in any way work for the other person as solutions..  People are simply too different.  This is when I realized that, what I needed to do, rather than give direct advice about a situation, was to keep my opinions to myself and be there for the person only in a validating matter.  Validate the other person’s feelings and fears, help them to feel not alone (but not by bringing up my own somewhat similar issue), and most important, to stop judging how the other person was handling the situation and to turn the mind toward loving kindness and away from judgment.

In the end, my cessation of giving this person concrete advice and stopping voicing judgement likely saved the relationship.  Things will not always be so clear, circumstances will not always be so dire, repercussions not always so large.  I am not in any way saying to never, ever give advice to another person about something (granted, as long as you know your correct facts) they are going through, but what I am saying is that most people, myself included, benefit more from having another person to validate, listen, provide a shoulder than from being directed on what it is exactly they should do next to handle the situation.  Building people up instead of tearing them down takes conscious thought and hard work, but is very worth it, for all parties, in the end.

Chronic illness and the right way to respond: