A is for Apology

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI didn’t mean to stay away so long. I know I’ve said that before, and I meant it then as I mean it now. If there’s anyone who still is interested in this blog, I apologize for my absence.

Here’s what happened:

When I posted my last entry, I didn’t realize how much of an impact that particular issue was having on my emotional health. I thought it was a small issue, just a little resentment and anxiety to deal with. However, as soon as I posted that entry I started to pull my world back until it was the size and shape of my bed. Not good. Apparently I’ve got a lot of work to do on that particular incident. I’ll blog about it eventually, but please be advised that it will be painful and I’ll procrastinate about it for quite some time.

Image from keepbusy.net/pic.php?id=3347

Image from keepbusy.net/pic.php?id=3347

So what snapped me out of it? Believe it or not, the mental health system. Sometimes it works! I had an appointment with my case worker (at my community health center, case workers are mental health professionals who help patients deal with the day to day stuff. If you need help budgeting, they help. If you need referrals to assistance programs for rent or utilities, they know where to send you. If you’ve got an anxiety issue around crowed places, they’ll go to the grocery store with you. So on and so forth). At the time of my appointment (last week), I couldn’t get out of the house, so we did a phone session and she made me promise to do several things that, hopefully will work when they didn’t in the past.

Here’s what I’m doing:

Regular counseling. Of course I’ve been doing this all along, but this time I promised that I wouldn’t miss any more appointments, even if I couldn’t get out of bed.hugging cats

Group counseling. I had been going to a group for people with eating issues. I’m going to start going to one for people with depression and anxiety as well. I haven’t started this so we’ll see
how it goes.

 Psycho-education. My mental health center just started doing this thing where they have a class/group that educates patients on particular therapy types and gives them the skills to use them at home. For example: They educate you on the basis for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), its history and particular philosophy. Then they teach you how to use it on your own. I start this today.

 On-line support forums/groups. I’ve joined a support group on Facebook that is specifically for those with depression and anxiety. I’ve joined these things before then dropped out because all I did was read what everyone else was saying and never participated. My case manager had me promise to participate at least twice a week. For some reason, this is helping. I’m not sure why. Possibly because I’ve forced myself to be open (I’ve asked for advice about how to deal with specific symptoms and once just vented) or maybe because this group is particularly supportive. I don’t know, but it lifts my spirits.

 Self-help books. I read self-help books off and on all the time, but I never do any of the exercises in

Image from minus.com/msoenEm7B

Image from minus.com/msoenEm7B

the books. Maybe because I’m just lazy. Probably because I’m scared of change. My case manager recommended that I have my regular counselor approve a book before I read it and do the assignments just so I’m not doing some wacky-doodle type stuff, so we’ll see how this goes. I’m least optimistic about this because it’ll require motivation and mental work. I get a bit of “brain fog” (where it feels like I’m thinking through a fog) and I’ll have to push myself to do it. I’ll start doing this once or twice a week, starting later this week.

 Medication. We’re upping (with approval from my drug pusher—I mean my psychiatrist) my meds a little. It’ll take a few weeks (6-8 is the average) to see if this does anything for me.

Self-care. One of the things that I’ve realized lately is that I’m perpetuating a pattern of neglect from my childhood onto myself. To be less “intellectual” about it, I neglect myself. I’ve let my sleep pattern get nuts (some days I sleep all day, others I don’t sleep at all, etc), been lax with my personal hygiene (you don’t need the details on that), and, of course, eaten badly. I’ve agreed to focus on one aspect of self-care a day.

What I’m hoping that will happen is that all this stuff will not only help me feel better, but will make it easier for me to keep promises to my family, myself, and to you. I’m thinking I’ll probably share a lot of the above changes and struggles with you. Or at least that’s the plan.

Wish me luck.

quote struggle

 

Blessings to all of you.

Be well.

 

A is for Advent

a xmas hollyGrowing up, my family didn’t have any pre-Christmas formal traditions. Yes, there was the preparation for Christmas pageants at church. We even had a Christmas Choir Concert at my public school (this was before everything got PC and they started calling it a Holiday or Winter Concert). Our Christmas tree went up sometime before Christmas, usually the week or so beforehand. We went shopping off and on, mostly off since we didn’t have a lot of money (and my paternal grandmother worked retail. She got the best bargains!) But there were no rituals or traditions to help us anticipate the coming of Christ (just the coming of Santa Claus).

Somewhere between that childhood of Protestantism and my conversion to Roman Catholicism, I discovered Advent traditions. And fell in love with them. Honestly I wish we had these kinds of traditions for all holidays. It seems to enrich not only the holiday itself, but daily life. It makes life seem special. More beautiful. Sparkly even.

I’ve only been Catholic since Easter of 2010, and it’s been a hard few years, so I haven’t really created any real traditions of my own. This year I’m going to change that. I’m tired of the sameness of my life. And I need something to distract me from my anxiety over being unemployed. So here are the Advent traditions I’m going to try to implement (in no particular order):

  1. artificial_pine_advent_wreathAn Advent wreath. I’d had one in 2010 but it got killed in a move, so I’m making a new one for this year. I love the symbolism of the wreath and how it creates a daily pause. Click here for more info on Advent wreaths and their symbolism/use.
  2. Advent prayers. I bought an inexpensive booklet with special prayers to say at this time of the year, usually when lighting your wreath. I’m horrible when it comes to scheduling time for prayer. Normally I pray at random times throughout the day, usually when I need something. I think it’s time for me to start praying for something other than help.
  3. Advent calendar. I love the wooden calendars but can’t afford them. I don’t like the inexpensive kind that are made of cardboard or felt. So I’m making one of my own from gift tags. I’ll only use it for this year. Hopefully I can get a wooden one on clearance, or be able to afford one next year. Why am I doing it? It’s yet another way to pause in my day and think about something other than myself. And it helps build the anticipation for Jesus’ birthday.
  4. Decorations. I don’t always decorate for Christmas, or most holidays. Sometimes I don’t have the time or I’m purple-ornament1.jpgtoo tired. Last year I was suicidal and the thought of anticipating anything other than death took way too much energy. Since I’m feeling better this year, I’ve gone as all out as I could on a dime. I’m determined to make my tiny apartment as glittery and festive as possible.
  5. Entertainment. Instead of only watching the shallow, incipit, shows you usually get on TV these days (I’ll still watch those too. They’re fun and frothy, kinda like cotton candy for the holiday brain), I’m gonna make an effort to watch TV shows and movies that go a bit in depth. In other words, I’ll be watching a lot of religious-type programming. Nothing wrong with that, I could use some depth.
  6. Books. I don’t consider books entertainment. For me, books are like breathing. If I don’t read, I don’t live. I’ll still read my typical stuff, but I’m gonna add in some holiday type reading that isn’t about shopping or generic “family” themes. Probably lots of history and spiritual type books.
  7. Mass. For those who are unaware, mass is the name of church services in the Catholic Church. I’m gonna try topriest_holdingup_chalice_red go to as many as possible. This is a problem because I have trouble getting out of the house sometimes, especially in the morning and if I have to go somewhere where there are a lot of people. If I can’t physically go, I’m gonna listen to one on the radio or watch one on the internet. It’ll be good for my soul.

I know that’s quite a bit, and I’m gonna do my best to do them all. The hardest part, I think, will be to not yell at myself if I don’t do it perfectly. At the very least, I’m gonna try.

And that’s more than I’ve done in quite some time.

Blessings to all of you.

Be well.

A is for Avoidance (and B is for Bed)

ImageI had a list of things I was supposed to do last weekend. Basically, it’s a list of things I’m supposed to do every day. Things from the simple (shower) to the mundane (laundry) to the complicated (figure out what values you want to live by and start implementing them into your live) and the terrifying (write down an account of all of the abuse you’ve suffered). Did I get any of it done? Not really. The only thing I did get done was start this blog. I suppose I’ll get kudos for that from my shrink. But I avoided doing everything else. Avoiding stuff is the one thing I can honestly say I’m really good at.

The fact is I’m a coward. I run—well I don’t run. That would require physical activity and my circus-lady fat makes that difficult. I hide. Usually in my bed. You’d figure, since I spend all that time in my bed, that my bed would be the most fabulous thing I own. It’s not. I sleep on discount store sheets with a clearance comforter, both of which have developed holes. My mattress is a cheap twin that I barely fit on and it sits on the floor. I don’t have a bed frame. But it’s what I can afford.

And it’s mine. I paid for every bit of it. Every hole is from a nightmare I thrashed about and kicked through. Every dip in the mattress is from my fat curling into as tight a fetal position I could get into. My bed is a testimony to my survival as a human being the past few years. In that bed I recovered from surgery, broken bones, suicidal impulses, irrational angers, overwhelming fears, migraine headaches, deaths of dreams and births of ambitions.

I love my bed. It’s me.

Since my bed is me, it should follow that I love me. But I don’t. Maybe because my bed is the part of myself that I can’t embrace. The fragile, bleeding, vulnerable part of myself that I don’t allow to come out anywhere else but in my bed. I hate that part of me. I avoid dealing with it. And in that avoidance that part of me gets bigger and bigger until I end up in a different kind of bed.

One in someone else’s guest room because I’m homeless and have avoided myself into helplessness.

Or one in a hospital because I’ve avoided myself into hopelessness.

I may love my bed, and I may be good at avoidance, but it’s about time I learn to love and be good at something else. It’s mundane, it’s painful, but it’s necessary. And one day, it’ll be me.