Emotions, Mental Health, Positive things, Therapy

Therapy Thursday

Today’s discussion centered around feelings.  The one observation I had was I know how to label the basic emotions; happy, sad, angry.  But I can’t label things that are more complex.  I like labels.  I like to know what things are.  Sometimes the hardest question to answer is “What are you feeling?”.  Sometimes I throw around names such as jealously or anxiety.  I’m not always sure that that’s what I’m feeling.

We also talked a bit about automatic thoughts.  Things that I jump to so fast that I don’t even think about it.  Two of those thoughts are guilt and responsibility.  I jump and don’t even know it.  I’m trying to challenge those thoughts after jumping there.  I’m reminded of a passage from “The Magic Tollbooth” where the dog flies out of the car and onto an island by jumping to conclusions.  That’s me.  I jump to conclusions about the abuse and who’s responsible.  No more.  I’ll jump but not land.  I won’t be perfect, but trying is the key.

Anger, Emotions, Family, Mental Health, PTSD, Relationships, Therapy

Therapy Monday

Wow.  Today was intense.  It started with a discussion about Father’s Day.  And all the loving posts you see on Facebook.   And the whole industry we have.  And how it makes me feel.  Jealous.  Green with envy.  I don’t love my  dad, or grandpas, or God father.  Nope.  No way.  And that good old Catholic guilt and “honor thy father and thy mother”.

From there Dr. D asked about something we talked about a few weeks ago.  One of the things I felt was that I lost something of myself with the use of Lupron.  I lost the ability to reproduce.  Not that I want to reproduce.  I read somewhere (maybe on Not My Secret) about defining yourself by what society considers to be the defining traits of a woman.  That post really resonated with me.  So we talked a bit about other ways I could define myself.  Funny.  Blah Blah Blah.  Dr. D said that I was smart.  I couldn’t say no fast enough.  Which of course lead to another whole discussion.

In the end, I said that my mother said I was smart when it suited her, when she got to brag.  Any other time, I was dumb, and idiot, etc.  Then I said something really significant.  I said that I hated her for that.  That was really significant.  I had never said that word before.  I didn’t know how deep it ran.  That scared me.  It felt overwhelming at the moment.  Thank God that Dr. D was there because I was overwhelmed.  I was shaking and crying.  On some level it felt good to let out those emotions.  On the other hand, it was really scary.  I knew I had a safe place in her office.

I tend to stuff things down.  Dr. D told me it was a defense mechanism.  And now that I’m home, the old defenses are coming back.  I don’t feel safe to experiences the anger and sadness that I felt earlier.  At least I know now that I can feel without becoming overwhelmed or out of control.  I was even going to write a blog post in all caps.  I still may.  Maybe I can do it at the library where I feel safer.

It’s amazing how seemingly innocent trains of thought can lead to breakthroughs.  I see Dr. D again on Thursday (and on Mondays too).  I think at this point, that’s what I need.

Child Abuse, Family, Mental Health, My story, Nightmares, PTSD, Therapy

Pink Pajamas

I’ve tried to write this out many times in the past.  In fact this is the seventh time the post was titled “Pink Pajamas”.  Today is Therapy Thursday and the topic took up a solid half hour.  Me just sitting there trying to get the words out.  Working hard to keep my head in the present.  Posting this is hard even though I just talked about it.  Here goes nothing.

I was 7 or 8 years old.  It was Christmas Eve.  We read the Bible and ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.  We hung up our stockings.  It’s a Christmas tradition to get new pajamas on Christmas Eve.  Mine were those one piece pajamas with the feet.  Mine were pink.

It was time to go to bed.  But I was warned that bad little girls got nothing in their stockings.  And I sure that I was a bad little girl.

Later that night, my dad came in and undressed me.  I remembered how cold it was.  He whispered in my ear that he knew how to make me a good girl.  Then he had his way with me.  He didn’t dress me though.  I slept all night naked.

In the morning, my mom came in to wake me up.  She asked why I didn’t have my pajamas on.  I told her I got hot.  I put them on and followed her to the living room.  I guess I was a good girl because my stocking was full and there were presents under the tree.

Dr. D pointed out that things came with strings attached.  And they really did.  That’s the topic for Monday.  I thought in light of everything going on, I should probably see her twice a week for a little while.

Cancer, Health, Medication, Mental Health, Therapy

Therapy Thursday

Another week.  Another day of therapy.  And as usual, it didn’t disappoint (just kidding).

Since I’ve been talking about cancer treatment there, I went through what the oncologist said yesterday.  Basically I have two medical options for long term treatment.  I can go with Tamoxifen but it requires getting off the Wellbutrin.  And that doesn’t seem like it’ll happen anytime soon.  So medically, my other option is shutting down the ovaries with Lupron and treating with Arimidex.   That’ll cause menopause.  The other option is removing the ovaries and going with the Arimidex.  At the moment the choice is Lupron and Arimidex.  The long term plan is to go off the Wellbutrin and then switch to Tamoxifen.

We talked about control and losing control of my body.  Losing what makes me a women.  In other words, the ability to reproduce.  Not that I want to reproduce, but the thought of it.  I don’t know why it bothers me so much.  But it does.  Perhaps that’s something to explore next week.  The other small topic on this was going to the dentist next week.  It’s my worst nightmare.  Why?  At least I can answer that one.  Feeling exposed.   Feeling vulnerable.  Having someone (turns out it’s a woman) standing over me.  Yeah.  Nightmare.

On of my usual comments was X is my fault.  In this case letting the depression and voices get so bad without asking for some help.  I got the usual “It’s not your fault”.  Fault and responsibility is something I struggle with everyday.  I don’t even know how this came up.  But it did.

I guess it’s a matter of putting one foot in front of another.  Hopefully the increase in Haldol will help with the voices and the Zoloft will help with the depression.  And now that radiation is finished, hopefully the fatigue will subside.

Emotions, Family, Friends, PTSD, Therapy

Divide

This was the prompt for today.  Sometimes I feel so far apart from other people.  I see it in therapy.  It is issues of trust still.  I’ve worked hard to build trust with Dr. D.  On some levels, I do trust her.  On others, there are some things I’m not ready to tell her.

She has this view that things would get easier if I told my brothers.  We went through this a while ago.  At that time, I did everything I could do to resist her.  Now, it’s not so cut and dry for me.  I think it might help a little.  But I’m not at that point in time yet.  would

I know that they would go strait to the parental unit and ask about it.  I’m not ready to deal with the fall out from that.  I guess I am divided on that idea.

Sometimes I feel so separate from other people.  I feel apart.  I can’t explain it.  Maybe it doesn’t matter.  I would rather read a book than socialize.  I can do the socialization thing, but it’s draining physically and emotionally.

Sometimes I feel divided from other survivors.  Now this I can’t explain.  I don’t know that I want to explain it right now, either.

Signing off for tonight.  I baked cookies and I’m exhausted.  :(

Depression, Emotions, Fears, Medication, Mental Health, My story, PTSD, Therapy

The Day After

So I saw Dr. D yesterday.  It was tough, complete with a panic attack.  She encouraged me to call Dr. W.  Since I seen her earlier this week, I didn’t think it was a good idea.  But Dr. D gently explained that Dr. W would be concerned that I let myself continue to suffer needlessly.  So I called.  I got a call back that evening, which surprised me because she’s on vacation.  She asked what was going on and I told her everything.  Well almost everything.  I didn’t tell her how long things have been going on.  She gave me hydroxyzine, which she has given me before.  Dr. W said she’s hesitant to prescribe a benzo at this point.  Not because she’s worried about addiction.  But rather given the amount of medication I’m on.  I understand her point of view, and I respect it.  What it says to me is that she’s being conservative, but is willing to go with something more powerful if I need it.

Dr. D wants me to come back on Monday.  I don’t really know how I feel about that.  I do have somethings I want to talk about related to the physical abuse.  But I’m not completely confident that I can get through it without losing myself in the flashback loop.  It makes me scared just thinking about it.  I’m going to copy/paste it in here so I can just read it if need be.

It was my grandfather. The summer after kindergarten, my parents made me stay there while they took my grandmother out of town. I don’t remember what I did that was so bad, but I got punished but good. He took off all of my clothes and made me lie on the bed. He put my arms over my head with my hands together and told me to stay that way. If I moved or cried, he hit me with a leather belt.

I don’t know how long I stayed in that position. It was so cold in there. He had the air conditioner on as cold as it would go. It felt like it was forever. I had almost fallen asleep when he came back into the room. I laid there while he felt my whole body, from top to bottom. He was on the bed with me. Then he left and told me not to move or I’d get it with the belt again.

I tried not to cry, but I did. As soon as he heard me, he came back and punished me for disturbing his baseball game. He told me that I better not move again. So I didn’t. I laid there and counted the cracks in the ceiling, over and over, and over again. But I couldn’t help but listen for him. I was terrified he would come into the room again.

After what seemed like forever, he came back into the room. And he got on the bed again. I was so afraid he’d get the belt out again. He wasn’t touching me anymore. He was on top of me. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe. He was so big and heavy. The penetration was extremely painful. I wanted to scream and yell, but I couldn’t. It hurt too bad.

All of a sudden, he jumped off of me and the bed. I put my arms down. He started to scream at me. He told me that he had said not to move. He told me I was an evil child filled with the devil. He was right. He got the belt again and told me to put my hands back up or he’d punish me again. I begged him not to, but that made him really angry. He took me by my shoulders and shook me. He kept yelling how little girls should obey their elders. He put my hands back over my head and made me stay like that.

I laid on that bed for hours. It was so cold in that room. I really had to go to the bathroom, but he told me not to move or say anything. I had to go so bad, I ended up wetting the bed. When he found out I had wet the bed, he beat me again. And then he was on top of me again. It must have gone on like that for hours. I remember watching it go from day to night.

I hurt right now just thinking about it.  I think I’m going to sign off, take some hydroxyzine, and eat.  Toast for breakfast and not eating anything else doesn’t cut it anymore.

Anxiety, Depression, Emotions, Mental Health, Nightmares, PTSD, Self Injury, Therapy

Therapy Thursday

What a rough time today.  Going two days in a row is rough.  But I didn’t expect it to be this rough.  I pretty much picked up where I left off.  I know Dr. D is concerned.  It’s hard for me to understand why.  The same goes for Dr. W.  On Dr. D’s urging, I left a message for Dr. W.  The panic attacks.  The flashbacks.  They have gotten worse lately.  I think I didn’t share this with Dr. W for fear of ending up in the hospital.  I bet that isn’t a rational thought.  They don’t throw you butt in the hospital unless you’re a danger to yourself or others.  What I know, however, isn’t working to calm down what I feel.

For the first time in however many years I’ve been going, I admitted to Dr. D about the cutting.  People sometimes get the wrong idea.  For me, it was to externalize the pain I was feeling.  I talked about how long it’s been since I last cut.  I talked about the urges and how they’re getting stronger and stronger.  Dr. D took it in stride.  I had expected some sort of belittling.  I don’t know.  Scolding maybe.  But all she showed was compassion.  She asked the usual questions.  When did I start?  What made me stop?  Did I feel in danger?

Today was another day.  I couldn’t cry.  I thought I was going to.  I pinched my leg to try and keep it under control.  I hate tears.  I hear my mom’s voice.  “If you want to cry, I’ll give you something to cry about!”  It usually ended up with the belt.

She asked about how structure of childhood kept me functioning (although not in those words).  I was trying to respond that it was some sort of normality in life.  All of a sudden I was hit with flashbacks harder than ever.  I’m pretty sure I was having a panic attack too.  I vaguely remember hearing my name.  But I couldn’t snap out of it.  It was like I was in a film on a repetitive loop.  As I calmed down, I could only stare at the fish.  I couldn’t look Dr. D in the eyes.  We talked some about what I went through in those last 5 minutes.  It was all so overwhelming.  I went back to the thought of routine and only could say there was nothing normal about it.  But it was sort of a loose routine.  I went to bed.  He came in.  He molested me.  He left.  I went to sleep.  Every single night.

I tried to hide.  I don’t know why I bothered.  He always got me out.  Sometimes it was with extraordinary anger.  He almost ripped the closet door off once or twice.  I finally gave up on hiding.  There was no point.  There was no stopping the abuse.

All of this came out today.  Dr. D asked if there were any new memories.  Nope.  The same old ones.  The ones that still hurt so much.  I need to let her know I need her to be more aggressive in trying to get me out of that loop.  Like I said, I kind of heard her calling my name.  But it wasn’t enough.  It didn’t break though the images, sounds, feelings or panic.  The one thing she did try to get me to do after I calmed down was to keep my eyes open.  I totally understand that.  In my history of therapy, that was something I definitely learned.  It hard sometimes.  I really want to block out everything.  But by blocking out everything external, I get caught up in my head.

Dr. D asked me to come back on Monday morning so we can keep on top of everything.  What was I going to say?  I suppose I could have said no.  But that didn’t seem wise.  I know I need to keep working, especially through the radiation.  Speaking of which, I’m almost half way done.  Yay for me.  So, I’ll go back on Monday.  If I make it through the weekend that is.  Dr. D gave me her cell phone number so I can always call or shoot her a text if need be.

Anxiety, Fears, Mental Health, PTSD, Suicide, Therapy

Precipice

So today’s prompt is “Precipice”.  How fitting.  I seem to be teetering on one myself.  Even with the med changes (and un-changes), I’m still really struggling with depression and anxiety and voices.  I realized how bad things were when Dr. W spent 40 minutes with me rather than the usual 30.  I love going to UH because they book med checks as 30 minutes.  I once say a psychiatrist who a) always ran late, b) tried to hoist me off on his NP when insurance was paying for him and c) was lucky to spend 5 minutes with me.  I have no idea why I stayed with him so long.  Another plus side to UH is that they are on the same electronic medical records system so all my doctors can keep up with my (very) long med list and conditions.

Back to precipice.  I wrote last time that I was hearing voices and it had gotten worse.  I started hearing them again back in February.  I didn’t tell anyone because I was afraid to.  I just kept saying I was getting better as I walked toward the cliff.  Even though I was having suicidal thoughts, I kept covering everything up.  I guess I still am.  I haven’t been totally honest with what the voices are saying.  They’re getting quite nasty and telling me that I should kill myself for various reasons.  I don’t know why I don’t want to tell Dr. W and Dr. D.  I think it might be because I’m in the middle of radiation and I don’t want to be hospitalized right now.  Do I need it?  Maybe.  I’m looking at a long way down off the precipice.

Most of all, I’m scared.  When I was having symptoms like this before, I did end up in the hospital.  Twice.  I don’t know if I can do that again.  The second time was useless.  No med changes.  Not that I wanted them to change meds.  But seeing a psychiatrist more than once in 6 days would have been useful.  No therapy to speak of.  You were basically left to fend for yourself all day.  It didn’t help they didn’t get my med list and I was off things for almost a week.  Although I was a UH hospital, their EMR wasn’t hooked up with the central EMR.  Looking back, I was safe from falling off the precipice, but it didn’t do much to pull me back from it.  I pretty much lied to get out of there.  I though I could make more progress with Dr. D and Dr. W than I could just hanging around all day.

I don’t like this brink of the precipice thing.  The voices keep getting worse despite how much Haldol Dr. W adds.  I was up to 10 mg before, so it’s not surprising the 1/2/4 mg dosage wasn’t working.  I’m up to 6 mg now in a divided dose.  I think once I get the voices under control, I’ll be able to step back from that ledge.

I’m tired too.  The fibro makes me tired.   Fatigue has always been part of my depressive symptoms.  And now I have the fatigue from radiation.  I’m sleeping at least 10 hours at night with a couple hour nap during the day.  I’m asleep more than I’m awake.  I wonder if this is anyway to live.

I’m tired of telling people I’m tired.  They don’t understand.  My family doesn’t understand mental illness.  And even if they did, they wouldn’t care.  That much I’m certain of.  And part of me doesn’t care anymore too.  I’m too tired to care.

Standing on the precipice looking down.  What to do?  What to do?  Closer.  Closer.  Closer.

Child Abuse, Depression, Emotions, Mental Health, Relationships, Therapy

Walls

I tend to put up walls between myself and others.  That’s definitely no secret.  It’s how I survived the years of endless abuse.  Don’t let people inside, don’t get hurt.  Period.

It took me a long time to dismantle the wall between my therapist (Dr. D) and me.  We’re talking about 18 months.  It took a lot of hard work on both our parts to find trust.

I had been doing well trusting her.  But…

A lot has happened since I last wrote.  I had bariatric surgery and lost 140 pounds.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a lumpectomy.  I had a couple of hospitalizations for suicidal thoughts (getting quite close to an attempt).  Now I’m undergoing radiation for the cancer.  I’m in the middle of psychotic symptoms, specifically voices.

I guess the wall wasn’t completely down.  I was scared to tell Dr. D and Dr. W (my psychiatrist) that the voices were back and I was having severe depression symptoms.  I’m working now with Dr. W to get my Haldol dosage correct.  I refuse to take the new antipsychotics because of the potential for weight gain.  I don’t need that.

Back to Dr. D.  Last week, I was telling her about the voices and the depression.  We discussed how it could be situational.  I think it started that way, but evolved into something biological.  I know, not the best description, but it’s all I got.  Then she said something that shocked me.  She said it seemed like an overreaction to the situation.  The worst started shortly after I had the lumpectomy.

That shook me.  My reaction wasn’t immediate.  I was already feeling bad so I just sat there.  I didn’t question.  Over the last week, I’ve been stewing over it.  Today when I saw Dr. D, the wall was up and thicker than ever.  Before I gave honest answers.  Today all I gave was “fine”.  I could tell she didn’t believe me.  She sat for a minute and asked if I just wanted to get past the question.  “Pretty much” was my answer.  I didn’t say much today.  A lot of yeses and nos in response to questions.  I don’t think I looked at her the whole time.  I stared at the rug.  I stared at the picture on the wall.  I stared at the fish tank.  My trust was shattered in one statement.  I didn’t ask her about what she said.  I don’t know if the reasons are important.  What’s important is how it made me feel.  And I didn’t tell her.  I didn’t want to tell her.  I was scared to tell her.  I didn’t feel comfortable telling her.  I don’t know if I ever will.  I’m not even sure what I would say.

I didn’t want to go back.  I really didn’t.  But I thought that I would give it a try.  That maybe somehow I would feel different when I saw her.  I didn’t feel any different, though.  I still don’t know if I will go back again.  I have a good excuse to take off the next few weeks.  The radiation makes me really tired.  And going one less place on Thursday would be nice.

I’m not sure what she could do to re-earn my trust.  To start the process I would have to tell her about the effect of her words.  But in order to do that, I’d have to tear down my wall a little bit.  I’d have to go on faith alone.  It almost feels like a catch-22.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do.  I don’t want to start again with another therapist.  She specializes in trauma, and is one of the few psychologists that take my insurance.

I guess I have a lot of thinking to do.

Anxiety, Emotions, Fears, Mental Health, PTSD, Therapy

Mask

https://www.flickr.com/photos/exfordy/128576390
Flickr Photo

I live my life behind a mask. My mask is happy.  My mask is confident.  I’m good at wearing this.  Despite how I feel inside, I don’t reveal my honest feelings and fears.

I don’t really let people see the “true me”.  Hell, sometimes I don’t even know what the “true me” is.  I’ve hidden behind a mask for so long that maybe that is the “true me”.

There’s an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where a character has a bunch of laws to live by.  Her law number one was “You always have to rely on yourself”.  I totally agree with that.  But my law zero is “Trust no one”.  If you can’t trust, it’s hard to show your “true self”.  It’s hard to take off that mask.

I’m slowly learning to trust Dr. D and Dr. W.  It’s been a rough couple of weeks for me.  Last week, I tried to cancel my appointment with Dr. D and quit therapy all together.  I made a deal to come that one time.  Ordinarily, I would have hidden how bad things were and just tiptoed around the issues.  But I didn’t.  I sat there and talked through the flashbacks.  Making myself that vulnerable was extremely scary.  And although nothing bad happened, I still want to put that mask on.

Maybe this is a turning point for me.  Maybe it’s okay to drop the mask and let safe people see what’s underneath.