Reflections on an Imperfect Time

peace

I am currently in a place I never thought I would be.  I did not believe in the recovery model for mental illness even a few months ago, nevertheless thought I would be in a place in my life where the “recovery” stage would be very real and tangible in my day-to-day existence.

I never thought I would have any extended time of peace, and I never thought I would define peace as the picture to the left does:  “it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work.  It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”

I am there, hallelujah, amen, thank you.  There is chaos all around me, but my heart is calm, it is steady, it is beating strong.  All of those thoughts I had of giving up, have vanished.  Those thoughts of giving up that I had almost constantly through every day of the last several years of my life, the ones I didn’t *know how* to get rid of, the ones that kept me cycling through the hospital and the crisis residence and at the mercy of people (supposedly) saner than I on the other end of a phone line…gone.

I have been through months of adversity without losing my steadiness, and there are even more big changes to come.  I am ready.  I know how to climb the mountain and I am familiar with the path and the twists and turns, and I know it will be hard as Hell and that the Devil himself may stand in my way, but I know within myself that I am ready for this adventure.

selfish

QoB is moving away, and my contact with her is sure to greatly decrease.  I am learning that my mom is not the young person she used to be, and that it is time for her to turn her thoughts and her activities and her energies into herself, her new relationship, and into being a cherished Abuela.

It is hard to let her go, to stop calling her so often, to not count on her for every little thing, to really *grow up* here at age 34.  I have had my mom by my side my whole life, she has gone to bat for me countless times, and now, I need to go to bat for myself and count on LarBear to be my touchstone.  This doesn’t mean the relationship I have with her will be any less special, it just means that it is time for me to learn to count on other people.

I *DO* have other people I can count on in this life, and she deserves all the happiness available to her, and if that happiness is retirement and open prairies and big blue skies, then I wish all that for her and more.  There is such a thing called a telephone, and it isn’t like I will never ever see her.  It will just be less.  It is only within the last month, I think, that I would ever have been able to accept this for what it is.

With QoB moving away, retiring from the life here, comes the need for LarBear and I to move.  Physically move, that is, into a new home.  Of course, this creates stress and upset and all of the above, but we need to start living within our very own means, and know that we can still be okay.  We don’t have a terrible income, and it is enough that we will be able to find a nice-enough place to live.  Of that, I have no doubt.  I only wish the process were speedier, more certain, less of a time-suck.  I am ready to find the place and get the stuff moved and BE THERE.

what everyone is doing

The part of the recovery model I am most focused on now, which is also part of DBT, is that I am building A LIFE WORTH LIVING.  The past several years, I have been eking by, and I’m done with that.  I do not want to define myself by my mental illness, and I don’t want others to identify me that way, either.  I am a strong woman and I have a good man by my side, and I honestly feel I can tackle whatever is around me, that needs tackling.

I have even more support outside of my relationship with LarBear, whether it is the constant support of my mental health center contacts, or my Dad, or the Big Dawg.  I have places to turn to.  More than anything, I want LarBear and I to build a beautiful life together, and we are well in the process of doing that.

I don’t want to be “the crazy one” forever, and I tire of being looked at that way by family, acquaintances, the like.  I believe that I am even *more* sane and well-balanced than the average bear, because I am insightful into my life and I *do* examine my own thoughts and behaviors and I also spend great gobs of time practicing DBT and going to therapy and the like.  Practicing my skills isn’t something that anyone should look down on a person for.  Chances are, some of the skills could work for you, or for you, or for my mom or for LarBear or any number of people.

I have more skills in my toolbox than most people, and I think that is wherein the true advantage lies.  I have those skills and I am in touch with different things that help me to feel better, such as writing and making jewelry, and I do not let a single day pass in which I do not create something, anything.  It is so very important — not the product, but the process.  It doesn’t matter if you try a new recipe or build a Lego village or paint a picture…the creativity that dwells within us, heals us, and there is a multitude of proof or evidence out there that healing can happen, no matter how desperate you feel your situation is.  If I can do this, you sure can, too.

live beautifully

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Taking Off the Training Wheels

I am happy to say that the last month or so has been going fairly well.  Sure, there have been some slight ups and downs, some blips on the radar…but overall, I am actively coping with my life, with this illness, with the relationship between the two, and with the bigger picture.

I have been in individual talk therapy for over half of my life, or since I was about age 16.  I find therapy to be extremely useful and heaven knows that Goddess of Mindfulness, was around to be a party to most of that.  She was the world’s best therapist, and she probably is still out there, therapizing those in need and playing the magical singing bowls.

I have done further individual therapy at the community mental health center in my town, which I have also found helpful.  Fifteen-plus years of therapy will lead you to a lot of “ah-ha!” moments, and while I don’t think I am necessarily done having those moments, I feel like I need to test my coping skills in this life I am leading, without the direct benefit of individual talk therapy.

After discussing this with my current therapist, The Scribbler (takes vigorous notes), we decided that I would take a one month break from individual sessions.   I will still have expressive therapy, group DBT, and medication appointments weekly — just leaving out the talk therapy for the moment.  To me, this is kind of a test of sorts.

I have a safety net.  I can call her and reschedule for a sooner appointment at any time, but I really feel like maybe I can use the natural supports in my life and the coping skills that come from DBT and really deal with anything the next month is going to throw at me.

I have no doubt I will need therapy again at some point, but I think it is really important that I take this break so I can prove to myself, not to mention anyone else, that I really can deal with issues as they come in a calm and wise-minded fashion.  At least, I think I can *right now*.

Who knows where I will be this time next year, or next Spring, or any of the other times in space when I traditionally crash and burn.  This is my little experiment, and I hope that I can document a good bit of it, so I can come back and look at it later, because that always seems to help.

still becoming

Sometimes, You Can Just Be Done

reverb13 - 400px

Today’s Reverb prompt:

What was the greatest risk you took in 2013? What was the outcome?

I read this prompt early this morning and have been pondering on it all day long.  As long as I am medicated and fairly stable, I don’t really take risks.  I don’t even generally take calculated risks.  I was always that kid at the playground who said, “Hey guys, this is a bad idea!”  I was the college-aged kid who said, “We really shouldn’t be doing this!”  And I’m the person now who says, “We can’t do that…it’s too dangerous!”

So, a risk-taker I am not.  As I pondered over the prompt some more, it hit me.  I have done something risky this year.  While it is probably not considered “risky” for other people, it was for me.

I have been in therapy for the past eight years, solid.  Most of it was weekly, some of it twice a week, thrice a week, a few months of every few weeks.  And now down to once a month.  I feel like I’ve made progress and that I am at a point in my life where I don’t need it the way I used to.

I hadn’t seen my therapist in just under a month, the last time I saw her.  We reveled at how well I am doing and at how many of the symptoms of PTSD I had been experiencing have gone by the wayside (through difficult and careful work, I might add).  We talked about how the Intermediate Treatment Group I was in for almost a month had helped that along, and we talked about plans for the future.

I told her I wasn’t sure I needed much more therapy.  She doesn’t know me very well, but she seemed to agree.  I am going to come in a couple more times on a monthly basis, and then, maybe be done with regular therapy.  Of course, the door is always open if I want to go back, and I can see that at some point in my life I might want to.  But for now, I’m going to attend these little monthly sessions, make sure life keeps on going steady and well, and just see what happens.

I never thought I would see a day where I wouldn’t be in therapy.  It wasn’t presented as an option and that makes me sad, although I don’t think I could have really done it until now.  I just have much better coping skills than I ever had, and, thanks to the group I just went through, have much better planning and scheduling and structuring abilities.  Which makes life better because, well, it just does.  It makes ME better, anyway, and that’s what really matters.

Not Quite As Easy As it Should Be

The weekend will officially be over in about two hours and I must say that I am thankful for that.  DSB’s kidney incision opened up and has been draining…four months later, and I am desperate to get him in to see his surgeon tomorrow.  What DSB really should have done, and my mom and sister both agree, is to go to an urgent care center to have it checked out.  Nope.  Not him.  “Bunch of butchers.”  Better to die of blood poisoning, I suppose.  It has been a very frustrating and scary situation for me, so I have been driving him crazy, checking and monitoring.  Ah well, I suppose that’s love.

I didn’t have to work a full day yesterday because it was so slow, so I went to QoB’s house and we set things afire.  I helped her get her goat and chicken chores done, and we sat and bullshitted a bit.  I am nervous about how my winter hours are going to pan out, because she still wants me to work a solid 15 a week and I just don’t know where that work will come from.  I really don’t want to sit down in a cold shop and read my book for five hours a day.  I am sure we will come up with something, I just want that something to be come up with soon so I can stop worrying about it.

Group therapy continues this week.  I am really looking forward to it.  I like the scheduling out of activities and tasks.  It is very soothing to me.  And I must say I am doing so much better on some fronts, like showering, keeping the kitchen clean, and doing laundry.  Those other parts will fall into place, I hope.

I have no individual therapy this week and in a way I think that’s good, because I feel like I need a break.  My therapist can be very intense and I feel really pressured to come up with a lot to say.  The trauma work is coming along very slowly and I have put time in my schedule tomorrow to write an un-sent letter to Blow, an abusive ex-boyfriend.  I think this will be quite difficult, but I am fairly certain that I will feel better once I do it.

I am having coffee with Sister Sara on Tuesday and I am really looking forward to that.  We don’t get together very often, but always have lots to talk about when we do.  I am interested to know how her kiddos are doing and it also gives her a chance to do something out of the norm.  I hope she enjoys our little visits as much as I do.

Speaking of sisters, my fabulously wonderful, pregnant sister is really hard to pin down.  I have been trying to get her to commit to doing something, even for a few hours, for weeks now and it seems like it just never happens.  I know she is busy, I do understand that.  It just seems like she could make a few hours for her big sis, and no, I really don’t think I need Dad as an escort.  I don’t understand.  I have even volunteered to come up and see her in the big city.  People have different priorities.

My mom has also been super-busy, working on her goat/chicken/duck paradise.  I feel like I have barely seen her.  I want to reiterate, I know that people are busy.  I get that.  It just sucks when I don’t have as much going on and the people I want to spend time with always have packed schedules and missions they want to accomplish.

I have missions I want to accomplish, too.  I am hoping to keep working on housework this week, trying to get all the mud up off the floors that the dogs have left in the last few days after a rain.  It is so overwhelming, it’s mind-boggling.  Even my mom, who does not shirk at the most difficult task, says “I would cry if that happened to my floors every time it rained.”  Welcome to my world, the world of where keeping the house clean isn’t quite as easy as it should be.