Tuesday, December 27, 2011

We All Have Vulnerabilities And It's OK :-)

For the past few days now I’ve been thinking of getting my a$$ of this house and going on the bus.  I have bought a bus pass (they are cheap in Ottawa if you are on Disability) and have been thinking of different scenarios:

·         I could pick up stuff I want at stores out of my comfort zone.

·         When I am suppose to meet someone I could plan to go out and take the bus to
              meet them somewhere. 

Then I think to myself, I do have my training pass given to me by my mental health worker Jenn NOW (a free pass for people who need encouragement to get back on the bus). Jenn gave this to me because I have agoraphobia/panic but It hasn’t helped motivated me. But I do want to get out so why don’t I go out today?  

I can’t deal with leaving the house, yet. So I’m wondering if I’m really going to get out. I was thinking 3 days a week on the bus?

And, I also want to go to my mental health drop-in. I read January’s schedule and there is a Trauma group on Tuesday so I am planning on calling them on Monday to see if it’s a drop-in. Actually this quite excites me although my mind is flipping back and forth on it…

I know I will likely be panicky on my few or dozen or million trips but the idea is to keep at it right? And, for me to try not to get bored or to frustrated. It should be fun, right?

I’m kind of afraid of ‘growing up’. It doesn’t feel very safe to be an adult. There are too many responsibilities and, there is more of a chance that I might get hurt. If I do I am so fragile I will hide in my mental illness cave, again because I’ve tried to work, volunteer and go to post-secondary school in the past!

It’s hard to be so sensitive. I was just chatting with a twitter friend who was given some misinformation by her mother in-law. The mother in-law seemed to think she was right but a few of us fellow tweeps chimed to to tell her her that we didn’t think mother in law was right at all.

I felt my friend doubted herself while all the while she knew the answers.  This it helped me feel that we all have vulnerabilities. I guess that’s a part of life and its ok. I mean I knew this but I am never sure…It is so hard to be strong when we see people as authority and who must be right. My therapist tells me the same i.e.  I need to try to be stronger in myself and believe in myself.

Another reason I am fearful to go outside of my comfort zone is that I have had to let past friends go in my life. One of my ex friends was so angry she said in a rage ‘I better not see you on the street.’ I took that to mean she is going to punch me out or something. She has anger issues and that’s exactly why I decided to let her go!

And there is another ex friend  that sent me a Christmas e-mail this year. I don’t know what to say to that.

It is hard. I really want to find people in my life who share some of the values I have come to develop and those who I feel I can talk too.

My problem is that I feel so guilty if I upset anyone in anyway. This came up in my homework with my therapist Cindy today. While working on this homework (which was to identify my thoughts associated with the feelings of fear and guilt), I fully expected my feelings of fear to outweig the guilt. Quite the opposite! It seems I carry this tremendous guilt.. Cindy informed me that I’m taking on others guilt as well and this is true. This pattern goes back very far for me…

Maybe this is good i.e. writing about it all…maybe I should blog more often, lol…Have a great rest of day readers. I think the cats want their treats....!  

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Is A Sad Time Too...But Things Get Better...

Christmas is especially hard for me this year because I am not living with Kerri, my ex/bff who I lived with for the last 2 years and really miss. She lives in BC now. We will talk on the phone as we do everyday and those chats make me laugh and smile every time. Kerri is sad as well to be away from friends and family here so hopefully we will both be able to make the best of it. Kerri got in the Christmas spirit long ago and had her Christmas tree up at the end of November.

I feel that I’m stronger in a way this year. I don’t feel depressed but rather sad. I know the shrink I used to have used to try to get me to distinguish between depressed and sad. Sometimes it feels like they are both the same emotion.

I have big hopes that by next Christmas I will be attending numerous holiday parties and some are non alcoholic so that is a plus for me. I have bought a bus pass for January and I am really excited to at least vicariously go out and enjoy life. The thing I most want to do is go back to my mental health drop-in for their drop-in support groups. I want to meet people where I can chat and feel safe and secure because for people with post traumatic stress disorder it is hard to feel safe in the world.

As it is holiday time and more people are celebrating I find it really hard to read people’s tweets on drinking. I want to drink too! I have upset one or two people, I think, who I have been chatting with and then I later stop following them  because I feel jealousy and anger because I so don’t want to feel the anxiety and pain that life causes me so it really is not about them. 

I have been sober almost 6 ½ years because drugs and alcohol took over my life for 5 years. In the end I had a heart arrhythmia and elevated liver enzymes and probably a death wish. A year after I quit the docs said my heart and liver were functioning normally and I am so glad that I caught it soon enough for my body to heal. I do believe my life  IS getting better!

For the past year or more I have been telling everyone I want to live to be over 100. They just look at me funny, hehe. But I want to heal and then have the rest of my life to be amazing! Anywhoo I do feel hopeful because I will be starting a new therapy called ‘Bowen Therapy’ in February. This is suppose to help with body alignment for physical and mental ills and it is similar to the Feldenkrais Method which I tried a few years ago and I found it to be extremely helpful. During tough times it is OK to dream. Whatever it takes to help your body and spirit get stronger right? 

 Anywhoo, here is a cute video for all cat lovers on Oskar the blind kitten. He is very 'helpful' and here he is trying to help with the Christmas tree :-P.

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas or whatever you are celebrating this season. Remember if you are sad that things do get better as I believe they will for me and it's OK to dream, smile and laugh :-).

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I'm Pretty Good At Distracting Myself From Myself....

As many of you know I am on twitter and I retweet true crime and many sad sad things. I find that one of the things I really feel sad and angry about is sexual abuse and I don’t retweet many of the high profile cases because I can’t deal with my own past as a sexual abuse survivor. I have been tormented by my abuse for most of my life. Now I do know that I am feeling much more solid on that front since I came out as a lesbian and found Kerri who is now my bestest friend. We met on Plenty of Fish dating site 2 ½ years ago. I can now at least watch most of the talk shows that talk about sexual abuse.

Kerri and I are very different in our beliefs. I tell her that the reason that I feel happy even though I am sad a lot is because I feel spiritually that there is something more then this shallow world we live in…It’s a great escape to think of other dimensions, hehe. I have found this free on-line radio station I like called:  http://a2zen.fm/ you don’t need to be a member to listen and they talk about all sorts of things like spiritual guides, chakras and healing, astrology, ways of changing your thinking etc…There are tons of archived shows which is mostly what I listen too…I’m way to scatterbrained to find a show I like and make time for it at the right time…I sort of have to be feeling in the mood for this sort of stuff…it’s deep!

This week Cindy has told me to write down what the thoughts are connected to my feelings of guilt and fear. I feel those two emotions 24/7 but it feels scary to sit down and pick out the root of those even though I’m pretty open at talking, expressing and showing my feelings (Cindy says I’m pretty good at distracting myself from myself and this is true as well :-P). I try to come off as strong when I am not but I hate to draw attention to myself.

For the past couple of days I have had upper back pain on my left side. Today I have even had osteoarthritis pain in my left knee and in my right. I think all these although physical are psychosomatic. Oh, and yesterday I felt like I was coming down with the flu but it never happened. It think my homeopathic remedies were the culprit but better then the real thing. In fact it seems most those I am following in Ottawa on twitter seemed to be sick yesterday. I hope they are ok now…Things physical for me usually are psychosomatic in some way…

I have had this problem on and off for much of my adult life where I pull out my hair. The shrinks call it Trichotillomania which can be a form of OCD if it gets in the way of your life but it basically when you have anxiety and that is my first name!

Last week I went on a 4 day hair pulling binge and now I have taken up Kerri’s idea of tying my hair back. It really works for me too! I still go through the motions of pulling when a hair peeks through my hair band but in the last week I have only pulled out 2 hairs and this is a record!…
I am so sad this Christmas that I am not sharing it with Kerri. We lived together the last 2 Christmases. I really miss her a lot but I am so grateful that we can still talk on the phone tons. She really makes me smile…

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pain Breeds More Pain...Thats Comfort? Stop Gay Bullying!

There has been so much talk recently about teenagers taking their own lives especially because of gay bullying.  As a lesbian chatting to gay male friends it seems that men/boys who are gay get it so much worse then us girls/women.

I didn’t come out as a lesbian until I was 35 but in highschool a friend of mine was gay and I never ever had a problem with her, oddly. I am lucky to have come from a family who is completely accepting of who are gay…

I remember during my teen years I was extremely depressed. I would go through periods when I didn’t talk. I had friends but I never told my friends I was suffering even after my dad died when I was 11. To this day I have a friend from highschool who is baffled that and am not married; don’t have a house; a job or kids and she asks me why don’t I (snap out of it)? Sometimes I still cry because my life is so difficult that somedays just getting off the sofa to make an actual meal is painful (emotionally).

I never dropped out of highschool yet I remember wanting to but staying because I knew mom wanted me too.

Today watching “Anderson,” Anderson Cooper’s mom, Gloria Vanderbilt told one of the audience members who had tried to kill herself to focus on the ones who love us and would miss us if we died. I don’t even think I was thinking of anyone or thing outside of myself when I attempted, on numerous occasions in my 20s. I do remember making a conscious effort to turn my thoughts off at the time I would cut, burn or ingest pills or worse. I really had a craving to lose my pain and because I was in pain I figured more pain was comforting. It was familiar…

Today I have more labels, more panic attacks, and cry plenty out of being easily frustrated. I feel sad and depressed for long periods yet I rarely have thoughts of suicide. I think for me the reason is that I have a ton of support. I chat with Kerri, my ex/BFF even though she moved away. We chat for like an hour on the phone most days.  Also, I can access my mental health workers answering machine or e-mail her. My outreach worker at my past group home has a phone number and someone is there most of the day/night who I can call if I need too.

It’s really important for people with mental health issues to have access to services that are not friend or parent related.  Sometimes I think my problems will just depress people I know in my personal life even though most of the time mine are simple problems with intense moods which change my perspective on ‘the truth.’

I use to take great comfort in accessing my area Community Mental Health Center which had a walk- in for mental health clients where they can chat with a social worker. I got to know and feel comfortable with the same staff and could call in ahead of time to see who was working…

I hope people grow more tolerant of gays. We are getting there but it’s a work in progress. It’s really stressful to keep secrets ya know. I have had that experience!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

When Family Doctors Fail...

My family doctors have done nothing to help me deal with my anxiety.

 I used to be able to volunteer for 15 hours a week and I loved it! I use to be able to take the bus, shop for food and even drive. Now I lie on the sofa and usually tune into HLN where I can watch high profile criminal trials in the US and hear the same evidence and lies over and over again and then rehash it all again in the evening while I think of what I want to eat because its hard for me to eat when I am anxious…

I haven’t had a psychiatrist in 6 years. My labels are bipolar, social anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, PTSD and panic disorder. I go to the doctor to see residents doctors who change every 2 years (my doctor has hour long waits) and they won’t actually assign me to a specific resident unless I ask…

Today I had a phone session with my mental health social worker Jenn. I have been feeling so frustrated because one of the Occupational Therapist’s had said she thought I was just using her because I was not able to function on my own after she worked with me for 3 months. Jenn assures me the OT had never dealt with someone with agoraphobia and panic disorder before. The OT would come once every 2 or 3 weeks for 3 months but even I could tell her I didn’t feel any better. Jenn says I really need someone to come get me out every day or something.

I’m just so sick of feeling that people are thinking that since everything is ‘in my head’ I can just snap my fingers and get out and be whoever I want to be just like that.  I told Jenn that I have been telling my resident doctors and my actual doctor who sees me periodically that I have anxiety. I figured I must not be speaking clearly because they don’t offer me help for it. Jenn comes with me to my doctor appointments and told me that I do speak clearly but they do not offer to help me…

The residents see me come in with conversion disorders, and stress headaches that last a month. They send me for a CAT scan to make sure it’s not because of my hydrocephalus but nothing shows up so they expect to see me back when my meds run out in 6 months.

It’s not like I did not fight to have a life with these panic attacks. For a year I continued to show up at my volunteer jobs. The staff would tell me to go lie down and rest for a bit if I was having a panic attack. They would let me deal with the attacks on my own because I told them it would go away on its own. I preferred to be alone for the most part.

On the way to my volunteer job I started to have panic attacks on the bus and then in the Rideau Centre walking to get my connection. Then the panic attack would pass and I would put in my hours volunteering like nothing had happened. Then I started having panic attacks at the bus stop or waking up in the morning…how could I fight back?

Clients would ask me ‘are you a student’ ‘do you work?’ To them I was just a human and I didn’t look like someone with a mental illness.  Sometimes I would tell them that I was not able to work because of my mental issues and do you know what? I have gotten so much respect from people for just being honest!

But doctors, answer me this, with all my problems why do I not have a psychiatrist who does psychotherapy? Gratefully after 6 years of this progression of anxiety my worker has given my family doctor’s consultant shrink a referral form (like a month ago) to help me get a doctor at our local Mental Hospital who specializes in anxiety to work with me…the waiting list is about 6 months and Jenn has offered to drive me.

I really hope I get help but when I feel really scared or depressed sometimes I really feel that there is no help for me. I hope I’m wrong. I do have so much to offer the world and I would like to help out in some way and give back…

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Painful Struggle Of Addiction And Where I'm At...

Amy Winehouse died 2 days ago and I have been reading everything I can to find out why. There is not much. It is assumed to be drugs since the autopsy has not found anything. Now we will have to wait 4-6 weeks for the the toxicology reports.  I don’t know much about Amy but what I have been learning is that was a troubled addict and I can identify with her struggle as I am an addict who has been sober 6 years.  I was never into her music. I can’t relate to the celebrity part which I know is a huge part but here are some of my thoughts on addiction:

Addiction changes your brain. You are numb inside or at least these are my thoughts here from my druggy days…I didn’t get why people were so worried about me. People stopped their lives and came to help me wondering if I was going to die or when. I tried not to talk about all this after I came too, or survived that high or attempt on my life. The boundaries were not even clear. I was so impulsive. I didn’t want to think. I had thrown the coping skills I did have out the window and just focused on the now. I didn’t think of the future. I was just existing…I needed to survive. I needed to block out my depression, anxiety, flashbacks of abuse, sadness of my dads death, and memories of my operations from my hydrocephalus. It was a painful realization that the goals I had set up to do ie complete University; have a great job; house, 2 kids; husband (I was so lost I didn’t yet realize I was a lesbian nor did I want to deal with that yet) were not going to happen due to my existing mental problems coupled with a learning disability….so much in my head.  

The other day I was on twitter and a site came up of a singer, Tori Amos. I love  music but it had been awhile since I played her songs. This song 'Winter' made me think of Amy Winehouse for probably no reason idk...anyways I got hooked on this song and I didn't even know what it was talking about (I listed to the tune not so much the words - gets me in trouble sometimes, lol).

Looking on the web it seems to be about Tori remembering a happy event from her childhood, playing and her father’s unconditional love.  I have been imagining myself as a 4 year old and pretending to interact with ‘little me.’ This is something my team of professionals have been coaching me on. I look at 'little me' through my eyes and remember that I do not wish pain on myself as this child. I even notice I try never to swear because I’m a mom now to myself, lol…

In my interactions with my cats Speckle and now Bob I treat them as if they are perfect and I want only happiness and to love them.

Anyway, about the addiction piece I am so happy that I am here on this earth still even though its so not easy for me yet. Now I can perhaps shed light onto this deadly problem and the deep denial within the addict/alcoholics that keeps them lying and keeps them using.
There is really nothing you can do for a person who does not stay clean or get help. Sometimes you have to way the pros and cons ie. Do you really need this person in your life or are you going to start letting go of them and taking care of YOU!