Willingness, Floating in the Sea, and a Recommitment

For days, weeks, I have wanted to just give up.  I was wrong.  I AM ready to fight this depression.  I am ready to kick it’s scrawny little butt across my backyard so that it lands in my compost pile.  I’m ready to do what it takes.  Do you hear that, world?  I’m WILLING.  I almost forgot the word and I decided to be the poster child for willingness again after a gradual buildup of faith in myself over the past two hours (because that’s just how my mind works, ok?).

After years (like over ten) of DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) training, I remembered that I have to use my skills in order to keep everything in top working condition.  Okay, let’s be honest, I didn’t remember.  Goddess of Mindfulness reminded me.  For an hour straight.  Yesterday afternoon.

Why do I always forget?  Why do I always denounce DBT as something that won’t help me?  For the past year, I have been running away from it.  And this isn’t the first time.  I’ve lost count of the times I have decided that a completely proven therapeutic program just isn’t for me.

It’s really hard to have a negative therapeutic experience with someone and continue on believing in the same basic principles that she was teaching you.  The impulse is to jump away, far away, get away from demands you deem unreasonable.  Burn that bridge.  Decide what  you need is intense trauma work.  Forget mindfulness, forget self-soothe, sacred self.  Stop saying loving-kindness meditations.  Completely give DBT the fuck up.

Forget IOP, forget all those other great therapists.  Forget hugging a tree and magically becoming the most willing person on the planet.  Literally.  Banish all those memories of getting better, too.  Tell yourself it had to have been a fluke.  Skills are for idiots.  Skills are for people who aren’t smart enough for “talk therapy.”

WOW.

I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that DBT will bring me up from the depths.  Again.  DBT and I have an excellent track record.  Why I keep dismissing DBT after falling down the rabbit hole, I am not sure.  I think it has to be a subconscious desire to not get better.  Or something fairly similar.

Perhaps something to discuss in my next therapy session, which I am ecstatic to announce is in two weeks.  I am really trying to embrace therapy again (after the last year of having fairly terrible therapy sessions) and all the good things it does for me, and I don’t think it could be any easier to get back all those good things without the therapist I very first started with when I was 16, and then off and on until 2012.  (If you’re new to this blog, her name is Goddess of Mindfulness, often shortened to GoM.)

At the mental health center where I now only receive medication services, there works the director of the intensive outpatient DBT program.  She is a lovely woman and I have the utmost respect for her.  She was my co-therapist (along with GoM) the first time I came to the outpatient program.  She is the one who asked me to hug a tree when it was clear that nothing else was working, and she is the one who was not surprised that the tree hug led to great, great things.  When I was really down, fighting, resisting, pulling away, she said the greatest thing to me:

“Imagine you are stranded in the ocean, no land or boat in sight.  If you struggle, as you are now, you grow weary and die.  If you float, you live.”

This therapist taught me that the best way through the stress and up/down emotions and angst was to float.  “Just float.”  You  have no idea how many people say that to me, because I have told them that story when they were struggling, or I have asked them to say it to me when I am struggling.  She was and is a powerful woman, strong words, intense, amazing in her ability to help heal even the most painful wounds.

And to float is to be mindful.  To float is to be willing.  To float is to use your skills and avoid a freak-out.  To float is to acknowledge that pain, but then watch it float on by.

I can do those things, I know, because I have done them before.  I am already feeling a great sense of calm washing over me, writing this out.  My homework of 1 act of sacred self, 1 act of loving kindness to a loved one, and 1 act of loving kindness to a stranger have all been completed for the day.  I feel like I am floating, having come to remember that DBT will save me, if I am just willing.

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Self-Loathing in the Face of Self-Compassion

Reverb13 Day Nineteen Prompt, provided by Jill at A Thousand Shades of Gray, is as follows:

The Buddha said, “You, yourself, as much as anybody else in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

In the past year, I have been on a mission to understand and practice self-compassion, which is sometimes defined as “extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering,” and what I have learned has made me realize that this practice is at the heart of everything. 

How will you practice self-compassion?

Talking about practicing self-compassion and actually doing it are quite two different birds.  All throughout DBT, there are mentionings of practicing self-compassion.  And really, I’ve never been good at it.  And frankly, I’ve never tried at it very hard either.

Below the surface, there is just so much self-loathing.  Even now, when I’m doing better, I still really hate myself for a variety of reasons.  From the fact that I can’t seem to keep shit straight at home to the “failures” I see in my interpersonal relationships.  I turn quickly in judgement of myself, over and over.  At the slightest action or inaction, I belittle myself in my head.  I am not sure I could be kind to myself, if I tried, and I really am not sure how to try.

My thought is, “S0 what, you let yourself off the hook for things just in the name of self-compassion?”  I guess so.  I don’t really know.  You criticize yourself less, see yourself as more human, give yourself the benefit of the doubt?  I don’t know how to do that.  I don’t know if I can even try.

But I find myself telling people I care about to be kind to themselves.  Be good to yourself, be kind, be loving.  I can encourage that in others but I can’t pick up a torch for myself?  This topic hits a raw nerve, because although I have come so far, I still, deep down, hate me.  I’m sure that isn’t quite right, but it is so.

Invalidation and Willingness to Make Change

This post is really giving me fits.  I want to blog about having worked the last six out of eight days, and how that has affected me, but I immediately begin to invalidate my own feelings both in the post in and my head.

“Well, you didn’t work that hard!”

“It’s not like you were always there by yourself!”

“Stop complaining!  You complain too much!”

“Why can’t you just help your folks out for once and not be such a big baby about it?!”

Sigh.  I feel anxious today.  And yesterday and the day before, and maybe a little bit some other days, too.  I hadn’t taken an Klonopin PRN in over a month, and I took one today.  Just couldn’t stand it anymore and DSB was the one who suggested it.  Made me feel ok about it, like I’m not a failure for taking a PRN, that it isn’t some cnegative indicator of my personal character.  I love the way he can make me feel all those things with just a few simple words.

There were some positives to working so much — I got out and about, had some social interaction, was forced into showering and wearing decent clothes.  On the other hand, I let things slide a bit at home, as far as not keeping up with the dishes as well, or the laundry.  I also didn’t practice the DBT skills that help me “make it” every day…self-soothe, distract, PLEASE, effectiveness.  I did, however, use skills that I don’t normally use, like building mastery, opposite-to-emotion, turning the mind, and willingness.

Overall, I think working some is positive for me, but that this was just a bit of a leap.  Maybe next time take it a little slower.  I’d like to work some this summer, but know that I can’t do a huge work-week.  This realization has bounced into my head several times since I started on disability, and it always stings like a sumbitch.  I can’t, and won’t, let it keep getting me down.   I have to find middle ground, somewhere within myself, and I can, and I will.

Post-Valentine’s Clarity

Valentine’s Day has always meant something to me.  Usually what is has meant to me is: “Damn, single again.  Let’s hit the half-price chocolate!”  This year, I have my DSB, and there was a little more of a positive meaning behind it.  It wasn’t a super-romantic day for us, but it was a very “us” kind of day.  Kinda.

The big garden show is this weekend, so I have been filling in as Head Bait Bitch/Cricket Wrangler down at my parents’ business since Wednesday.  I didn’t see DSB most of yesterday, but when I did see him, we had good QT, “us” style.

DSB gave me my Valentine’s present much earlier this week.  It came gift-wrapped from Amazon, and he set it on the table between us, saying, “You can open this whenever you want.  It’s ok with me,” really taunting me with it almost.  He knows I can get squirrely around gift-giving times and like to stay with tradition.  I resisted for almost ten minutes, and then ripped open the package, revealing very pretty silver heart earrings with purple and white stones.  Very “me.”  Another moment, of which I have many, where it sets in: “This guy really GETS me!”

When I came home yesterday from the bait shop, I gave Sam his present…a utility pocket-knife that he had really been wanting, along with a 20-pack of super-special, highly Amazon-recommended blades.  He seemed to love it and I think he had that, “she really gets me!” moment as well.  Sometimes it’s the simple things.

For dinner, I whipped up mac and cheese, fishsticks (for me), and hot dogs (for DSB).  This might seem like a strange, not-so-special meal, but it’s very “us.”  It is also very easy, necessary because of my broken foot, and cheap, necessary because we are poor poor poor.

I haven’t felt a lot of negative emotion lately, but there were a few times last night when I almost went down a very negative path of thinking.  About DSB’s truck and getting it fixed.  About the lack of romance, as I watched DSB obsessively search the Internet for all things go-kart related.  About trying to figure out how I can make my therapy appointment and a visit with my sister fall on the same day in an effort to conserve gas.  

And then I got up, took a shower, did some sacred self, self-soothe, and returned to reality, feeling much better, more clear-headed, and ready to look at those aforementioned situations with more openness and understanding.  DBT truly works wonders, used in every day life, applied to all situations.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

I Sing Because I’m Free

It will be two weeks this Wednesday that my Grandma passed.  I feel like I am still dealing with the aftermath, but things get better every day.  I went back to Mass this past Sunday and it was really helpful.  I wish I had taken RCIA this past fall, but there’s always next year.  I guess I just wasn’t ready at the time.

My buddy, Pond Princess, has loaned me her rosary and I am learning to pray it.  I find it very soothing and like the prayers I am meditating on are being heard.  I just keep praying for God to make me willing, and to help me to turn things over to Him.  In some ways, I am very willing, in other ways, very willful.  It is a daily struggle to take things as they come, without trying to orchestrate my own life.  It’s all about letting go and floating.

I have been trying all I can do to use the skills that DBT has given me.  I am staying busy, and working constantly at turning my mind from the pain.  I accomplished a lot over the weekend, and that feels good.  I am also using sacred self and trying to take care of myself.  My sleep and eating has been out of whack, but I know that will settle down if I just get back into my routine.  It’s the getting there that’s the hard part.

Prayers for Pond Princess’ mom and more for my family, as it seems we keep going through the death and dying of our loved ones.  If you don’t pray, give some thought or light a candle for us.  My family and I feel loved and blessed by all of our friends, and I know that right now we are leaning hard on all of you.

Lauryn Hill and Tanya Blount, His Eyes are On the Sparrow

 

Off-Key, Out of Tune

I have been sick now, in some form or another, since early September.  Now that I’ve been through staph, removal of huge pilonidal cyst, bronchitis twice, my doctor tells me this week that I have pneumonia.  Seriously?

All of this sickness is making me depressed.  It is throwing my world off-kilter and I can’t seem to get it to straighten out.  I am not interested in anything, feel like sleeping all of the time, and am not enjoying being around people.  I am annoyed and irritable.  I can’t see a way out.  My brain is telling me that all of these physical illnessess will never go away.

I thought blogging might help, but my heart isn’t in it.  I just came home from QoB’s and, while I almost always enjoy my time there, it wasn’t doing it for me.  Trying to keep up a conversation took such energy and I just didn’t have it.  I found myself being annoyed with myself that I couldn’t just be happy and enjoy her company.  So I left.

Now I’m at home.  I like being at home.  My dogs are here, I have nice places to sit and relax, it is comforting.  But sometimes I feel lonesome.  At the same time, however, I can’t stand the thought of being around anyone.  It all takes too much effort, and that seems to be effort that I don’t have right now.

Part of me thinks that I am talking myself into being depressed, that this is all my fault.  These feelings are not true and I am giving up and giving in.  Because that is what I do.  I have been trying to do things to ward off these feelings — meditating, sacred self, sitting in front of my sun lamp, staying in a routine.  But I feel like my whole heart isn’t in it.

I keep hearing this voice inside my head, “You’re depressed.  You’re letting yourself go down that road.  You are so lazy.  Why can’t you just be happy?”  That last one…”why can’t you just be happy…” bothers me the most.  I don’t understand why I can’t just be happy.  I am pretty sure that I was enjoying being happy before all of this illness came upon me.  Now everything feels wrong.

What happened to all of that energy, all of those good feelings?  Why didn’t I enjoy it more when I had it and what can I do to get it back?  When will I start feeling less sick all of the time?  Am I still sick or am I just depressed and my mind is telling me I’m sick?

I can’t find anything truly good to say.  I have cases at work that are stressing me out, and I feel like there isn’t anything I can do to make some of these situations better.  There is a lot of in-fighting in my office area and it is becoming just so very clear to me that my supervisor likes to stir the pot.  I am almost dreading going to work every day because I am being faced with these impossible cases and all of the tension and back-stabbing that is going on in my office area.  I just don’t know how to move forward, tell myself that I am doing all I can.  I really feel off my game.

At work, a lot of times I feel like I give and give and give and help and help and help and no one gives a shit.  I guess if, at this age, I am still expecting to be patted on the back and given an “atta girl” that I am out of my damn mind.  It used to be different, though.  At least I thought it did.

I want to be a good person, a better person.  I want to be happy and live my life free.  I want to have the energy that it takes to do these things.  I want to not have to take all of these pills and inhalers and pills and inhalers and pills and still feel sick.

I am annoying myself, so I must end.

When You’re Gone, The Cranberries

Making it Click

I must admit, blogging is addictive.  Especially when you have some free time.  I spent the morning changing the appearance of the blog, using a new thing-a-ma-jigger that I found.  I think they’re called templates, but I could be wrong.  I left up the header picture that was on there, because it’s pretty, but not really “me.”  I have this fabulous little digital camera now and I am pretty sure I can get some great fall pics taken in my own backyard.  The trees are starting to turn and it’s gorgeous.

The new house is technically “in-town;” however, just across the street is considered outside the city limits.  There is a big patch of forested area very close to my house, and I have a humongous back yard with lots of trees and other prettiness.  I even have a huge asparagus patch that looks very mature and a stand of concord grapes.  Unfortunately, it seems that my neighbors’ have picked all of the grapes, so I will be putting up a sign because I am SO not sharing my asparagus. 

It has been a rather painful weekend for me.  I had to have a cyst removed on my lower back and have been back to the urgent care clinic three times since Saturday mid-day to have it drained and re-packed.  My fingers are crossed that I don’t have MRSA, but they sent in a sample to be cultured and I should know for sure by Tuesday.  Wonder what work would say if I did have MRSA?  Questions to be answered on Tuesday.

I am really rediscovering blogging here in the past couple of days.  It is something that I have missed doing regularly and never make time for.  I think it is high time that I start again.  Many thanks go out to Pasha for prompting and reminding me what a joy it is.  WordPress has really changed their site, so there may be a few little glitches here and there.  There is now a place where you can “like” a post on FB.  I am not sure I really want that up there, because I don’t want my work friends reading this.  Thinking I will just leave that one alone.

Speaking of FB, I have really been getting out of that scene lately.  I still read it, but find myself posting less frequently.  I get annoyed by people who complain on FB, and I don’t want everyone to know my business, so I generally just end up saying something goofy or replying to others’ goofy posts.  I have put a few pictures of my dogkids up and they seem to be well received.  It seems like that is a lot of what FB is about — showing off your kids/grandkids/etc.

So, as I said in my last post, I am looking for winter projects, doing much better when I have “missions.”  I have a little list going on my home computer and am adding a few more things.  I recently started reading again a blog that a friend of mine puts out.  She blogs religiously and seems to really love it.  She is always doing crafty things with her kids and she reminds me a lot of my mom in that respect.  Much love to you Adriana!

Adriana is another reason I am blogging.  I am interested in keeping up with what old friends are doing, and I would like for some old friends to know what is going on with me.  I am not a hugely social person, don’t go to bars or parties, but like to keep in touch with a few people.  I have a friend who is getting ready to have a baby and I am really excited to be back in touch with her.  We were Rocky and Bullwinkle back in the day, and even now when we get together we’re chatting nonstop, finishing each other’s sentences.

In other news, I started Weight Watchers a little over a month ago.  Prior to that, I was using SparkPeople and tracking what I ate.  Since the beginning of SparkPeople and into Weight Watchers, I have lost almost 25 pounds.  It is amazing how that small amount of weight off can make you feel so wonderful.  I have more energy, my clothes are getting baggy, and I am fitting into things I haven’t work in over a year.  I am more active and feel happier, not guilty all the time and feeling physically ill from eating crap and laying around.  For me, Weight Watchers is easy because you can eat anything you want and you have weekly support and pep-talks.  The website has what is called “E-Tools” and you can do all of your point tracking there, read success stories, build a recipe, search recipes, and read all kinds of interesting articles.  I am really loving it and what it has done for me so far.  I have not set a final goal, but am working on my first five percent.  After that I’ll go for another five percent, and then another and another, and so on.  I have a huge tupperware container and three large boxes of very cute clothes that will be fitting within the next 25 to 50 pounds I lose.  So very exciting!!

I found a great-looking recipe on The Sphors Are Multiplying called Slow Cooker Chicken Chili Verde.  I am making that in the crock-pot tomorrow with a few changes.  I am really loving fall and the idea of having dinner made at the end of the day by dumping a few things in a crock-pot in the morning.  Next up is pork chops in sauerkraut.  Served with a baked potato, it just doesn’t get any better. 

Not really about food, but cute nonetheless…

Kate Nash, Pumpkin Soup