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Posts Tagged ‘breathing’

To my best friend’s children, I am “Auntie”.  After taking the boys to the playground several times a few weeks ago, apparently I’ve been associated with that place.  Now, when anyone says “Auntie” at my friend’s house, her two year old looks up, eyes wide and hopeful and exclaims “paygwound!”  He is presently parading around my living room with a Nerf sword as long as he is tall and I am remembering just how much more energy toddlers require.  I remember calling my friend when my boys were small.  I’d call her in the morning and she’d still be asleep.  She’d smile and laugh and tell me “someday your kids will be big enough to get their own breakfast and you can sleep in again!”  Now I’m the one with older kids and she has a second round of little ones waking her up at the ass-crack of dawn.

Strangely, though, I miss my kids needing me more.  There was never any question about being bored or not knowing what to do.  Each moment required me to do something.  I had to keep the house clean for their safety, I had to prepare endless meals, snacks and drinks, I was constantly doing laundry or changing someone and if they were sleeping, there was a long list of things I had to accomplish before they woke.  Now I sit, lost in my thoughts and confusion.  Wasting the day clicking and reading and plaing games on the computer – sometimes curled up with a book.  They occupy themselves and I only prepare meals once or twice a day.  I need to be busier.  I just don’t know what to do.

Lately I’ve been craving extremes.  I want to feel something big.  I’ve worked overtime the past few weeks to suppress the intensity of feeling released by the EMDR.  I’ve been angry about my fears with therapy possibly ending and overwhelmed about finances and car repairs.  I can’t let myself be really angry, though.  There was something that felt so dangerous and vulnerable about how I cried that day that terrified me.  My therapists office has shifted into the category of places where Bad Things Happen.  I’ve been irritable and sullen.  My body is sore and tired all the time.  I’m being pretty productive, but almost on auto-pilot.  I feel like somethings gotta give.  I’m going to explode or implode.  I feel like I just need to keep it together until my little one goes to camp and his brother goes to his grandfather’s, then maybe I can let my hair down.  Maybe I can find some way to let loose.  I don’ know.  I feel reckless and dangerous.  I feel tired and scared.  I feel lost and confused.  But I keep on keepin on.  I’ve got to put on a bra and take the kids to the beach.

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Ten days of feeling good.  Ten straight days.  What have I done to deserve such respite?  It isn’t the weather – we’ve had a few sunny, warm days, but there have been a number of gray, stormy days and today is chilly and gray.

I was wondering about good days and bad days and noticed that The Warm Milk Journal posted on the subject today.  I found an affirmation there one day that really struck me – I adapted it to my screen saver to remind me “life is safe to live”.

I was wondering about wondering… and saw Gemma’s post earlier.  I left this comment:

I think we need to give ourselves credit for wondering why. As long as you are able to question and examine what is happening in your life and mind you are not just a passenger whisked along the ride, but a participant and sometime navigator. There’s power in asking why, even when the answers are hard to reveal…

I wonder if wondering is enough?  In terms of dealing with depression or anxiety, when the answer was medication, I could expect to see changes in a matter of weeks.  If the answer is therapy, I’m expected to understand that this is a process which can last years.  I’ve chosen therapy because the pills only ever offered me temporary relief and extended upset – I describe that story here.  So now it has been almost a year since my breakdown – the end of May – and what have I achieved?  How far have I come?  I worry that I’m standing still, so I need to take an inventory.  I need to identify what I’ve done in the past year and is where I’m sitting today better than where I was a year ago.

I think the short answer is yes.  One of the best parts being that I can read again.  I’ve been reading blogs about mental illness, mental health, child abuse and PTSD.  I’ve read a number of memoirs about journeys through mental illness and I’ve picked up a fair amount of non-fiction on the subject, the latest being “The Body Remembers” by Babette Rothschild.  This last is a real eye-opener and is helping me understand how my body and brain have processed the trauma in my past and how that manifests itself in my adult life.  Again, this reinforces that the healing process is not a short one – there’s no quick fix.  I feel optimistic about therapy, more so now than I have in a while, knowing that the EMDR feels like something concrete and productive.  I still can’t get over the physical reaction I had to it – this incredible sensation on movement inside my body as if a dam had literally burst and I could rid myself of the negative energy.

So, I’ll go back to therapy tomorrow and tell her about my son nearly burning down the house, how I disowned my mother, how I survived mother’s day and how I am still – for now – okay.

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I don’t know much about Samson and Deliliah, but somehow cutting off my hair seems to have given me power – maybe because I just didn’t have any left to deplete.  I thought about it all day yesterday – I would run my fingers through my hair and come out with handfuls of long hairs that just cling to my clothes, the furniture and create some pretty radical dust bunnies when combined with the dog’s copious shedding.  When I couldn’t sleep, all my Scrabble turns were played and nothing but reruns were on tv, I decided around midnight to start chopping.  I posted on my facebook status, “Hm.  I think its time for short hair.” and an immediate response from my friend along the lines of Stop.  Wait.  Don’t do it now just because you’re upset about your birthday…  I found this kind of ironic, because part of my struggle lately is the distance that has grown between us – why she doesn’t pick up the phone and call, I don’t know.  I got a few replies from friends that were more encouraging, asking me what style I was thinking about – I don’t think they imagined that I would just start chopping in my bathroom in the middle of the night.

I don’t recommend cutting your own hair.  I don’t usually follow my own advice.  I started by brushing all my hair into a ponytail at the top of my head and then cut that off – leaving me with a bit of a mullet, but it successfully layered the top and sides about the length of my bangs.  Then I just cut off the back.  The whole time I’m wondering if I really care how it looks – after all, I stopped looking in the mirror ages ago and I have become so fat that none of my clothes fit, what difference does it make?  I knew I wouldn’t be able to cut the back evenly, so I got out the clippers and pondered shaving it all off.  I did that once (well, a friend of mine did it for me), and discovered that the back of my head is really flat and my skull if pretty small.  It is not a good look for me.  I managed to restrain myself and just used the clippers with the longest guide to trim the back roughly.  Probably the best thing that came out of it is that all that prickly hair forced me into the shower I hadn’t seen in a week.

I decided to leave well enough alone and went to bed with wet hair, knowing the morning would bring a surprise.  I groaned when I woke up and felt the super short locks in the back.  Sleeping with wet hair left me with quite the do, but I didn’t panic and wet it down.  I trimmed a bit more on the sides and some of the longer pieces from the back and kind of spiked and scrunched it a little.  It isn’t actually too bad.  If anyone casts more than a passing glance, they’ll likely notice how uneven it is, but the overall look is kinda cute.  I even spent some time plucking my scary eyebrows.  All that time looking in the mirror and it turns out, I don’t really mind how I look so much.  Then I took the dirty clothes from the bathroom downstairs, started some laundry and did the unthinkable…  I put on a bra.  I don’t even have to GO anywhere today, and I put on a bra… big stuff.  I finished it all off with a clean shirt and pants with a zipper – call it a banner day.

So, what else does one do when wearing black jeans?  Oh, yeah, decide it is time to wash the floor.  Good thing the jeans let me know the cleanser I picked up had bleach in it…  Oh well.  My kitchen floor is cleaner than it has been in months, the windows are open and I am still up and dressed.  Oh, and I even took the dog for a nice walk – not just the cursory go-out-and-do-business, but a genuine walk.  Seriously??? She just thanked me by throwing up under my desk as I typed those words!  Oh well – it has been a pretty good day all the same 🙂

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I’ve really been struggling the past few days.  I’m so angry with myself and my situation for over spending on my kids the past couple of months – now it has caught up with me and I’m behind on all my bills and can’t afford to drive anywhere.  I’ve been spending a lot of time in bed.  There is usually escape in sleep during the day and at least I don’t eat when I’m sleeping.  That is, there used to be escape in sleep.  I had the most vivid and horrible nightmare the other day and I can’t stop the images from recurring every time I close my eyes.  In my dream I was picking a spot on my foot that revealed a huge worm.  I started to pull it out, but it would only stretch and finally snapped, flinging off my pinched fingers into my screaming mouth where it became fused on my tongue.  I couldn’t get it off my tongue.  Now I can’t stop seeing the images – feeling the stretching coming out of my foot – sensing the gooey mass on my tongue.  I can’t get rid of it.

I missed therapy for the second time this week because I couldn’t afford the gas and spent another day in bed.  I get so frustrated by the ups and downs!  I had such a good weekend, I laughed with my kids, I had fun watching my son’s first track meet, we played together.  I didn’t sleep during the day all last week while the kids were on vacation and I was okay.  Then I checked my bank balance.  I hate telling my kids no all the time because I can’t afford whatever.

This is the first time since I stopped my meds that I’ve had serious obsessive thoughts.  I was hoping that they were aggravated by the stimulants I was on for ADD and had been grateful for their absence.  I keep going back and forth on the medication issue and come to the same conclusion – the way I am now is mostly better than I’ve been on meds and not worse, so no meds wins.  They tried me on the antipsychotics a few times for the voices – but I felt like the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man… it was awful, I couldn’t stand it – the voices were better.  I don’t know if I can heal sometimes.  Some days I’m optimistic and I believe that I will find my way out of this and lead a productive life again and then I have days like today when I feel like I’m just destined to be sick all the time.  I want my children to have a better life than this – even if I can’t be persuaded that I deserve better, I KNOW that they deserve more from me.

I want to feel the sun shine on my face again.  I want to smile.

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It may be time to consider whether the term “psychopharmacologist” is actually doing damage to the field of psychiatry. The American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology defines “psychopharmacology” on its Web site as “the study of the use of medications in treating mental disorders.” But in a recent article, three Harvard psychiatrists (interestingly, two of them from Mass General) have pointed out that no other medical specialty has carved out a separate “pharmacology”subspecialty. Good doctoring, they remind us, involves perfecting all the skills relevant to healing and deploying them when needed. Daniel Carlat, Clinical Psychiatry professor at Tufts in the New York Times.

He is making a case that having a separate person prescribe and provide therapy is not in the best interest in the patient.  You know how you go for a med visit and you don’t have nearly enough time to tell him/her everything that is going on, and you leave frustrated that you haven’t been heard and you forgot half of what you meant to say?  You know how often they will re-diagnose you or give you some new medication that has you saying “HUH??!”  Well, here is one of the most reasonable things I’ve heard in a while about psychiatry.  This article talks about how this doctor came to realize his patients are better off if he actually spends TIME with them and gets to KNOW them… that he learns about symptoms and situations he had previously been unaware of.  And guess what?  It is actually a less expensive form of treatment than the fragmented way it is done most of the time with several separate providers.

Thanks so much to my friend for pointing this article out to me, it is definitely worth a read.  I think this practice would go a long way in helping patients be on more effective meds and providing them with more effective treatment.

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We’ve been playing a lot of video games the past few days – it is one of the few things the kids and I do together and we have some good laughs.  Lately I’ve been thinking of my crashes as if they happen with the video game music – like the character spinning and dying, the music sounds a final doo doo doo doo doo doo dum!  Thankfully, I’m not crashed today – I started reading Robert Whitaker’s Anatomy of an Epidemic and am very intrigued by the premise – that while research and medical developments have purported to make huge advances in psychiatric care, rates of people disabled by mental illness have skyrocketed.  It stands to reason that improvements in treatment would lead to improved outcomes, but instead, research seems to show that more people are disabled longer by mental illness than ever before in history, and those in less developed countries have greater recovery rates than here in the USA.  I’ve still got plenty to read, but I’m eager to continue and and feel good that it is written by an investigative journalist, rather than a clinician – he makes a pretty good case for his reasons to tell this story.

In any case, I find that when I feel pretty good, I don’t have as much to write about.  I go to my therapist tomorrow with my list of target events to work on, but I’m thinking I may need to ask to delay a week.  My kids are on school vacation this week, so I don’t know if it is the best time for me to be dredging so much up when I don’t really have time alone to process and need to be present for them.  I’m still plagued by the question of how my mother could treat me the way she did – how she continues to – but I also see that somehow I learned to parent my own children differently.  I think this is the greatest argument to prove that abuse is a choice.  It is easy to say that someone beats their kids or their wife because they were abused themselves, they never learned another way… but that does such a disservice to the vast majority of abuse survivors who choose NOT to abuse.  When I was growing up, I always imagined myself as a mother.  I never really wanted to be anything else.  I’m a far cry from June Cleaver, but all I ever wanted was children to love – the opportunity to help shape these lives into kind and compassionate adults.  I know that I have not always done right by them and I certainly have my share of regrets, but I hope that they will always know how much they are loved, how much I wanted them to be in this world and how proud I am of the terrific people they are and will be.  I’m sure it gets old to hear someone rattle on about how proud she is of her kids, but the alternative would have been so easy.  I remember being so overwhelmed and furious when my baby was inconsolable and wouldn’t sleep or eat… there were moments when I wanted to toss him out the window (I’ve since learned that EVERY parent has those moments, whether they will admit it or not), but I didn’t.  I did what the books said – I put him safely in his crib to cry when there was nothing more I could do until I could calm down and try again or until he settled down on his own.  When they were toddlers, at first I spanked them.  I thought it was appropriate, and it seemed to be effective.  I thought it was fine, and it wasn’t usually done in anger, but what I thought was discipline.  Until the day I found myself chasing a four year old up the stairs because he was running away from a spanking.  I stopped halfway up the stairs, stunned.  I realized what a terrible thing it was to have frightened my own child to make him run from me.  I decided then and there to stop.  I wish I could say that was the last time I ever lashed out in anger at my kids, but it wasn’t.  There are moments I’m not proud of – I just hope they experienced them as moments and never doubt that I love them.  I think the real confusion for me comes from the fact that I really can’t identify moments that I even trusted that my mother loved me.  She was always so utterly consumed with herself and I was always the problem.

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Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?  Actually, who are you not to be? . . . Your playing small does not serve the world. . . . as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same…”

– Marianne Williamson, A Return To Love

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