Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Day 51: Malleable

I had another therapy appointment this morning.

As is pretty much always the case, I told him what's been going on lately, what I've been thinking about, what's troubling me, etc.  And then he asks questions.  I answer him there, of course, but then I leave his office and I really process everything we talked about and things start to fall into place.

Unfortunately for you, I'm struggling to make today's "aha moment" coherent, which is a part of why I'm typing this post--in the hopes it will help me to sort things out.

So, this morning, among other topics, I shared with him the thought and feelings expressed in my recent post.  About being that misfit puzzle piece.

And here's what came together in my mind during my conversation with him, and as I've mulled it over in my brain since--I was wrong.  We are not puzzle pieces.

Because puzzle pieces are fixed.  They don't get to change shape, or adapt in any way.  And people aren't like that.

People are malleable.

So, there goes my metaphor.

But, that's okay.  Because the part I'm figuring out leaves more room for hope and optimism.  So, here goes:

A big part of my problem has been this issue of trying to be perfect, in part to gain acceptance and approval of everyone around me.  But, since I never gave either of those things to myself, I couldn't accept that anyone else would either.  Not if they really knew me.  So, I discounted everyone who seemed to like me and think I was great.  Which makes it easy to see why I've felt like an outsider for so long.

Then, everything blew up and I realized that I had to make total and complete changes in my life in order to find a way to live with my mental illness.

And I think I've just over-corrected my behavior.  Now, instead of needing everyone's approval, I've disconnected from everyone.  I think I feel distant from everyone because I don't know how to relate to others without seeking for their approval.  And I don't want to fall back into that mindset.

There's so much of the superficial in our day-to-day conversations.  And I'm really good at faking through all of that and pretending like I'm fine and everything is perfect.  And I'm afraid of that, too.

So, it's just easier to avoid almost everyone.  Besides a very select few who I believe to be 100% genuine.  Down to earth and honest.  People who don't make apologies or excuses for who they are and don't expect me to be anyone other than myself either.

It's been interesting to me to see how I've been drawn to these people over the past couple of weeks without being consciously aware of why at the time.  Because they aren't the people I usually gravitate to.  But, if they've been surprised, they haven't expressed it.  They've just been kind and accepting.

I'm so grateful and glad for people like that.

I hope to someday be that comfortable with who I am and with who others are that I can be that way too.

And that is the point in all of this.  I think.  Because, as I grow more comfortable with who I am--the right way--not the "trying to be perfect" way--I can also grow more comfortable with who those around me are and to give permission to myself and to them to just be.

And, I think, I won't need the external approval because having my approval and that of my Father in Heaven is enough.

I know that's all part of the process.  And that is something that most, if not all, of us are working on--mental illness or not.

And here is how we all fit together.  Not like puzzle pieces at all.  But building on and supporting one another as we go and as we grow.  These kids (and HH) took many many attempts at building this pyramid.  They had to try different strategies and strengthen weak spots, and every time they fell down, they got back up and tried again.

And you know what--they never really succeeded in getting everyone in that pyramid.  But they tried.  And they all had a good time.  And I think that even those who didn't quite make it to the top, still felt included and a part of the team (of course, they were the youngest and not really sure of what was going on... but, I don't know how to make that aspect applicable. :)).

So, it's going to take time to correct my "over-correction" and find that happy medium.  But, I will.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Day 50: In Memory

I'm back from my grandma's funeral service.

It was nice.  And I didn't even get crazy nervous or stressed over having to lead the music and sing in part of a trio.

Progress is being made here, Folks.

And this happened.

She will not remember my grandfather.  But, now we will have this tender moment captured forever, so she will know he that he knew her and loved her.

It was a really good weekend, for the most part.  I had a nice time seeing almost all of my family.  As always, it reminded me how much we miss out on by living so far away.  But, I'm so grateful we had the chance to be together.  And really, we spent a remarkable amount of time together, given how short the time was.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Day 49: Puzzle Pieces

Sweet P picked this dandelion for me years ago, when we lived in New England.  I've always liked this picture.

And I didn't have any pictures of a puzzle.

But, that title is applicable tonight in a couple ways.

The first is kind of a positive.  It's like all of these different pieces of my health are starting to come together and form a better picture.  Things that I've suspected for years are being explained and/or confirmed.  I've had 10 vials of blood drawn in the last week.  And a urine sample and a saliva sample. And one other unmentionable.

The results are starting to come in.  It's interesting at the very least.  And enlightening, more often than not.

I'm still not entirely sure what it all means, or how to take care of all of it.  But, I'm now taking so many pills (prescription, vitamin, and supplements) each day that I have to get a pill organizer that has a spot for morning, noon, and night for each day of the week.

I didn't expect to need that for another 50 years, or so.

Still, hopefully, I'll be feeling better physically and mentally soon.

The second application is with me being the puzzle piece.  Trying to find my place in the puzzle around me.

I've spent a lot of my life feeling like I'm a bit on the outside looking in.  Which may sound strange to those who know me.  I've always had a lot of friends.  But, I always keep them at arms length.  Sometimes I think that it's me controlling that, sometimes I think it's just because no one knows how to relate to me.  Or maybe, I don't know how to relate to them.

Because I don't fit into that puzzle.

I used to think that I just didn't really fit anywhere.

But then, I started that program at the hospital.  And I learned that I do fit.  Just not in the box I've been placed in.  Turns out I fit in with the misfits.  I connected with some of the people in the program better than others, but I related to all of them.  And they to me, as far as I could tell.  They understood things that those closest to me still don't seem to.  Not for lack of trying on the part of my loved ones.  Just because there are things you can't understand if you haven't lived them.

And even though it was really hard, that part of the program, at least, was a huge consolation and relief.  I'm not as crazy as I thought.  And even on the hard days, being around people like that really helped.

But now, I'm back in the box with all of the pieces that seem to fit so well together with each other--but not me.  "Normal" people.  People who care about me, but now I'm all the more aware of how different we are.  I feel like they aren't really sure what to do with me now.  How to talk to me, or even be around me.

And I feel lost.  And alone.  Like all of the puzzle pieces around me have been put together and I'm that last, misplaced piece, sitting alone in the box.  Things are supposed to be getting better.  So many people made all of this effort to help me.  And we changed so many things.

But, this week has still been a rough one.  I still believe things will get better, but I wish it wasn't taking so long.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Day 48: Moments Revived

I'm actually just posting a Joyful Moment today.

And you're going to be really surprised, but

it's brought to you by this little angel.

We headed to the chiropractor this morning for some much needed work on my back.  She insisted on being picked up so she could lay tummy-to-tummy, chest-to-chest with me while I was on the table.  And it was so sweet to just snuggle with her.  Even with her fluffy ponytail in my face.

She kept looking up at me and giggling.  It was so cute.  And precious.  And what I needed.

I love my babies.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Day 47: Wrong Roads

This video is the reason I referred to different roads in my previous post.  I came across it the precise moment that I was both ready to hear its message and still in need of it.  I love Elder Holland.  His words so often feel as though they are directed straight at me.

I keep thinking I'll be back to regular posting, but life continues to get in the way.  Hopefully soon!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

DAy 46: I Am In Process

That's one of the affirmations I'm supposed to repeat to myself 2-5 times a day.

There's a part of me that cringes for multiple reasons at the very thought of it.

But, it's all a part of this new road I'm traveling down.

I love this picture.  It makes me happy in so many ways.  I love the way the back of her hair is a curly mess.  I love how tiny she looks next to HH.  I love that they are cooking together.  I love that she thinks she's big enough to sit on a bar stool.  I love my family.

That is a truth that's become permanently etched into my soul over the past few weeks.

Ah... there's so much.

People keep asking how I'm doing.  I don't really know how to answer that.

I mean, I'm fine.  I went through the darkest period of my life (please tell me it won't ever get darker than that--more challenging or difficult, fine, but not ever so bleak and hopeless, please) and I've come out the other side.  So, I'm fine.

But, the memory of it still vividly there.  There are wounds that haven't fully healed.  So, I'm scared.  And I'm hurting.  And so afraid of losing it all again and sliding right back down in it.

Because a few times I've started back down that slope.  In a relatively short period, I've gotten much stronger in some areas.  But, in others, I still have little to no resiliency against my triggers.  Like a woman at a group meeting I attended said, "It's one step forward, 10 steps back."  So, I'm discouraged and disappointed.

And I've gotten so behind in life.  The world doesn't have a pause button for when you spend your days in the hospital.  And I have this massive binder I need to read full of information and coping techniques and positive thoughts and safety plans and emergency plans we compiled during my time there.  So, I'm really overwhelmed.

I'm finally accepting that I have to make some really drastic changes in my life and my self.  I wanted, through therapy, to be able to stay the way I was (a guilt-ridden, self-loathing, egocentric perfectionist), but somehow be happy.  Because change is scary.  And I'm a little bit stubborn.  But, it is undoubtedly apparent to me that I can no longer continue down that road.  I have to take a different path.  And I can see that that path will take me closer to peace, happiness, and the person that I want to be.  So, I'm feeling really optimistic.

The nice thing about taking the wrong road for 10 years is that I know all about where to not go and what to not do.

But, I don't know much at all about this new road.  I don't know how to be that new person.  I feel really different about a lot of things.  A lot of things about myself.  Things I once believed to be quite fundamental about who I am.  So, I'm scared, confused, overwhelmed, and a little liberated all at once.

But, you never get directly from A to B.  So, I'm going to follow this road, just one step at a time.  Putting my trust in those closest to me that they will keep me safe and help me figure this out.

Anyway, I have yet to figure out how to sum all of that in one concise reply.  So, I usually just tell people, "I'm doing better."  Because, most of the time, that's true at least.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Day 45: Rebuilding

My favorite memories with my grandma are watching her hold my babies.  That was the happiest and most content I ever saw her.  I'm so happy that I have photos of her holding each of them.  Most of them with my babies asleep--she just has the touch.  I just found out that she passed away this morning.  It was not unexpected, but it is still a loss.

That is not what I intended to post about today, however.

I wanted to write down an epiphany I had on my run this morning.

Over the summer a home in a neighborhood not far from us burned down.  It's a nice neighborhood and the home was quite large and nice.  Today, now that it is light during my runs again thanks to Daylight Savings ending, I saw that they are rebuilding.

Even though I hadn't really thought about the home as I ran past it in the dark, seeing it now, with the walls up, I wondered why they hadn't made more progress on it yet.  I thought about the process that entails.  Initially, I thought about my own home and all of the things about our house that bother us.  Some a great deal, and some not as much.  And I thought about the opportunity this family now has to go begin again and fix, or change the things they didn't like about their house previously.  They can make their house even more beautiful and wonderful than it was before.

Then I thought about the unimaginable loss that I am sure accompanies a fire.  Things like old photos, letters, and baby blankets.  And more than I can even imagine, I'm sure.  Things that no amount of money or time can ever replace.  And the heartbreak and devastation that must bring.  In addition, the items that can be replaced, but not without a lot of effort and headache--like birth certificates and dishes.

As I continued thinking about it, I thought how fortunate that the foundation is made of stronger stuff.  Something that cannot burn down.  So, at least they have something strong to re-build from.  And how much they will enjoy their beautiful home when it is finished--even though that may take some time.

All the while, I found myself relating to this home quite a bit.

I feel as though something has come through and ravaged the very essence of me.  Like I've been completely gutted.  And if homes had feelings, I'm sure that home would have felt so lost and empty once the flames were put out and it discovered how very little was left.  And that much of what was left was too damaged to be used.  And so they knocked it all down.

That is how I feel.

I think about all of the things that my depression destroyed along its path of devastation.  All of the days with HH and my children lost to my anger or complete despair, or both.  Days that I might have spent building sweet memories, but instead isolated away from those I love.  People I've hurt.  Relationships that I've simply let go rather than put in the time and effort to nurture, or repair.  My confidence.  My self-worth.  And, almost, my ability to love or be loved.

So much is gone that I feel I will never get back.

But, I then I remembered that foundation.  In just the past couple of days, as I've been spending some pretty intense time digging through the ashes these last two weeks, I think I discovered my foundation.  I thought that had been lost completely, along with the rest of me.  But, it's still there.  And miraculously, it has been stronger than all of the devastation depression has brought with it.

Because that foundation is love.  And I do believe that love conquereth all.

The love I have for my family.  And the love they have for me.  And, even though I've distanced myself from it quite a bit, the love of my Father in Heaven.  Which is truly there unconditionally, even if I don't allow myself to feel it.

And so, I can begin the process of rebuilding.

And it terrifies me.

But, I'm trying to focus on the opportunity I have.  To fix those flaws and weaknesses that I had before.  Not to be perfect because that's what started the fire in the first place.  But, to find peace and contentment.  To become a stronger person.  To stand tall again.  To leave behind the ashes and to become something of beauty.  And to let that foundational love grow until it permeates every bit of who I am.  So it can never burn down again.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Day 44: Bearing All

Aren't we adorable?


I've been fighting this post.

But, it is insisting on being written.  And posted.

So, here goes.

The last few months have been kind of rough.  Actually, I think the downhill slide began sometime in the summer.  But, that's not really important here.  Just that there was this gradual decline going on.  There were some ups, but not enough to get me back on top.

And then, October hit.  And hit hard.  And I found myself at rock bottom.

A place I'm fairly familiar with.

But, usually, I'm only there for a day or two and then I start to climb out again.

This time, I didn't.  I'm not entirely sure why.  I just didn't.  I stayed.  And it has been miserable.  Beyond miserable.  I've felt so completely and irreparably broken.  And completely lost as to how to ever become whole again.

And so devastatingly hopeless.

And I think that says enough without going into the full nitty gritty.

Finally (after several appointments in a very short period of time), my therapist met with me and HH and told me we had to change what we were doing.  Because what we were doing clearly wasn't working.

Sometimes, I think I like change.

But, I really don't.  I hate it.  It challenges me and complicates my routine.  And it can terrify me.

So, I was dismissive of all of his options for me.

I just wanted to be fixed.

I didn't want to have to do anything hard.  Isn't trying to cope with depression hard enough?  And I didn't want to do anything scary.

But somehow, in a brief period of mental lapse, I agreed to this "partial hospitalization program".


I (HH really) worked out all of the details and got everything set up for me to go (mainly just getting all kinds of help from my friends in watching my kids every day).  And then the mental lapse ended and I totally (TOTALLY) freaked out.  I might have had a hyperventilation episode in the shower.

I saw so many conflicts and complications.  And was overwhelmed with guilt about having my friends watch my kids.  And abandoning my kids every day.

And I was so so so very scared.

But, I was even more scared of what might happen if I didn't follow my therapist's counsel and change something.  So, last Monday I entered the program.

I'll be honest.  It's been really hard.  That first day was so upsetting and scary.  I think I said a total of two words the whole day.

But gradually, as the week wore on, things started to feel better.  I started to feel hope again.  Which was huge.  I called HH on my way home one day and he said, "You sound like you again!"  And a couple of friends have commented that I look like myself again.  And today even my psychiatrist (who has only met me twice) said I look better.

I hadn't realized that my voice and appearance had changed.  But, it's encouraging to hear that I'm getting back to me.

Even though it's only been a short time, it's been an up and down road.  This weekend I had two pretty big set backs over relatively little offenses.  So, I'm pretty sure I still have a long way to go.

But, I think the main thing is that I am going.  I'm making my way up that road.  It's taking me to some really painful places that hurt.  But, I'm learning a lot.  And accepting things.

I always thought it would be really depressing to attend group therapy.  I mean, a whole group of depressed people?  Yuck!

But, it's been quite the opposite.  It's so very freeing to be able to discuss my deepest insecurities and darkest thoughts and have people respond with understanding.  I'm amazed at how quickly I've become so comfortable.  Me, who likes to keep the entire world at arm's length.  But, it's just so reassuring and comforting to know that I'm not such a freak as I supposed.  And to learn how other people are trying to manage this.

And they also helped me get comfortable with the idea of taking medication.  I only just started last week, so it's too soon to know if, or how much, it will help.  But, I got over my fear of past side effects and I'm feeling optimistic.  It would be so nice to raise the platform on how deep I experience the depression.  If medication can help keep me above the lowest lows, then I suppose it is okay.

Every day is so much to take in and process.  It's been overwhelming on more than one occasion.  So, I'm sure I could ramble on here for about forever.

But, I think I've disclosed enough for one night.

One life time, maybe. :)

I just thought, if there is anyone out there reading this that is really struggling, I want you to know that getting help is scary.  But, it's not as scary as watching things get worse and spiral out of control.  I am one of (if not, THE) the most stubborn people I know.  If I can get over my hang ups and reservations to accept all of this help, I truly believe that anyone can.