March 26, 2010

Throwing a Mental Fit

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:06 am by eddejae

It is 8 o’clock in the morning… AND I AM AWAKE.

And I have already been up for TWO HOURS. This is highly unusual for me, especially as I didn’t go to bed until midnight. With the Seroquel, I usually sleep 9-10 hours. But I woke up at 6am, and just didn’t feel like sleeping anymore! Astounding.

Well, I promised myself I would write about yesterday now that I’ve had time to sleep on everything. I guess things always do seem better in the morning, or at least less emotionally overwhelming.

I have a confession to make. As I knelt down to say my prayers before bed last night (yes, I actually got on my knees instead of mumbling a prayer as I’m falling asleep as is my usual custom haha), I said “Dear Father in Heaven, I must admit, I am not very grateful for this day.” Then I just started laughing because I don’t think I’ve ever said that in a prayer before… but I’m pretty sure God has a sense of humor and was laughing along with me (I hope). But really, I wish I could have just skipped the day entirely.

For you see, yesterday was my first session with my new therapist. All day leading up to the appointment, I was a nervous, anxious wreck. I basically threw a mental fit that went something like this:

“What if I just lock myself in my room and refuse to go?”

“No, you can’t do that. You have to go.”

“But I just want to run away instead! Please please please don’t make me go?!”

“Grow up Edde. What happened to your commitment to recovery? This has got to happen no matter how nervous you are!”

“I know, I know. Fine, I’ll go… But I’m not going to like it!!!” (*insert pouty face*)

I think the worst part was sitting in the foyer waiting for the foreboding moment when the door would swing open and I would look upon the face of this stranger to whom I was about to “tell all.” Yikes!! I almost had a panic attack right then and there, but forced myself to breathe and calm down. “Get control of yourself Edde!”

At last, the door opened. He was tall. And intimidating. And very… professional. He shook my hand and said “Nice to meet you. Come on in this way and have a seat on the couch.” So there I sat, hands clasped, bending forward, while he nonchalantly leaned back in a comfortable lounge chair. I half expected him to prop up the footstool and maybe reach behind the chair for a bowl of mixed nuts, but he didn’t. All I knew was that while I was fretting and sweating and wishing I could be anywhere but there, this was all just a matter of course to him, and he was as relaxed as if he had been in his own living room watching tv. In any other circumstances, I would have found the entire scene to be incredibly humorous, but at the time I couldn’t feel anything but dread at the torrent of questions to come.

Sure enough, in his calm, quiet, articulate voice, he asked me about… Everything. For most of the hour we reviewed my entire life history from age three onward. It is stressful in the first place to have to talk about everything you have ever experienced, but when it is a complete stranger you’re talking to, it’s at least ten times worse (add to that the fact that I was intimidated, self-conscious, and wondering with every word I spoke whether he had “sized me up” yet). My heart was pounding, my breath short, my muscles tense, and my chest tingling with anxious energy. I was not comfortable at all.

While I proceeded with my “word vomit,” he furiously jotted notes on a yellow pad of paper, which made me paranoid. What was he writing about me? What conclusions was he coming to? I hadn’t even finished the session and I was already over-analyzing! We went over the various things that I struggle with – in fact, he made a detailed list and read it over with me to make sure we got everything. Then we picked two things to work on first – binging and the urge to self-harm. So that was ok. What concerned me more were his observations about the source of my mental and emotional instability.

First, he said he believed that the abusive relationships I found myself  in during college were probably more traumatizing than the sexual abuse I experienced as a child. That was a strange concept for me at first, but he said that as he watched me describe both experiences, it seemed that I became more disoriented and emotionally distraught when describing those traumatizing relationships than I did when discussing my childhood experiences. I recognized that as well, and I believe that is because I had already worked through those things with my previous therapist, so it is not as stressful for me to talk about anymore. Also, it wasn’t until after those relationships that my borderline symptoms really became severe, even though I have manifested a number of them since I was young.  His conclusion was that on top of the depression, anxiety, and BPD, I am also suffering from PTSD. Super. Collecting diagnoses now, am I?

Another thing he pointed out was the contribution of what he perceived as my “isolation” during my later childhood and teenage years. I was homeschooled from second grade until college, and he believes that because of that I wasn’t able to develop good coping and social skills. I’m not sure if I completely buy that, but I do see how my feeling “different” contributed to my issues with self-esteem and relationships. I was always “the smart one,” “the talented one,” “the good girl,”  – I was made to feel somehow different from everyone else, which was tough when all I really wanted was to fit in. Even in college, I never quite fit in socially. I have always felt that there was something somehow “wrong” with me, that I was a social/intellectual/emotional “misfit.” I think it was because of this that I began trying to be what I thought people wanted me to be. I became a chameleon of sorts, attempting desperately to blend in with whatever crowd I was with. Their interests became my interests, their values became my values, their attitudes towards me became my attitudes towards myself, etc. I lost all sense of self in conforming to whatever situation I was in or person I was with. At the time… It worked. I finally had friends, I finally felt like I was “fitting in.” But the trade off? I became a hollow shell. I had a hundred different masks that I could switch from moment to moment. While I was bright and lively and fun on the outside, I was dying on the inside.

At the end of the session, he gave me a list of books he wanted me to check out, and also a website where I could download “hypnosis” sessions. I’ve never been involved in any kind of hypnosis… I’m not opposed to it, but I’m curious how it will work. My only hang-up is that it costs about $12 to download one session… And he wants me to start off with at least three. Without a job right now, money is tight… But I guess I have to make sacrifices, right?

On the way home, I just cried and cried. For some reason, I felt hurt and I didn’t even know why. I felt somehow invalidated, for no real reason!  Looking back, I think my it was because when I told him I had been diagnosed with BPD (by two different psychiatrists, I might add), he smirked like “Well, I’ll be the judge of that.” That’s fine… But I just have a repulsion to the whole “know-it-all” attitude that some therapists and doctors have. I don’t know. My tears were not only of emotional exhaustion, but also of sadness and anger that my previous therapist just had to move two and a half hours away. I miss her so terribly. She was so reassuring, and always said everything perfectly. And she never made me feel in the least bit uncomfortable, invalidated, or intimidated. I still plan on calling her today, because I don’t know if this new therapist she recommended is the right fit…. Though maybe I just need to suck it up and stop being a cry-baby.

I also found out yesterday that my Cobra insurance will only last as long as the company I previously worked for exists. Turns out, the company will likely be dissolving next month which means… Bye-bye insurance coverage! If that happens, I will have to go back to the counseling services provided by my church, as they charge half of what a typical therapist would. Even then, I will be paying from my savings account, which I’ve already spent more than half of with all the medical bills I’ve collected over the last few months. Sigh…

Well that’s my rant about yesterday. Thankfully I’m not feeling anxious about it anymore, which is progress for me. Typically things like this stress me out for days at a time, but I’m pretty much over it now… Well… Until the next session… 😉

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March 5, 2010

The Social Hiatus… Coming to an End?

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 7:45 pm by eddejae

I am sitting in the café at Borders bookstore on this cool, crisp Friday evening. Lately I’ve been doing my writing in public places such as the library, Starbucks, and bookstores as an effort to get myself out of the house and around people more. Though I’ve always struggled to some degree with social anxiety, the problem has intensified over the last few months with the depression. My therapist suggested that I start introducing more “social” back into my life, starting out by doing solitary things in public places (as I am now) and maybe doing something occasionally with just one friend. Though it’s not easy for me, I’ve been doing my best to ease back into interacting with other people. Even shopping at a store makes me nervous, and I almost threw up with anxiety before a scheduled lunch with a friend a couple of weeks ago… But it gets a bit easier each time. My social anxiety has kind of come and gone in spurts throughout the years, and if you were to meet me right now, you’d probably never guess that I was shy or nervous. When I need to be, I put on a very good act, and you’d never know that my heart was racing and that I was starting to sweat underneath my collar. Hopefully that will subside with practice though… I don’t want to be a social hermit forever!

I do have to say, however, that taking some time away from people (though it should never be a permanent way of life) has been more positive for me than not. For a while I had been feeling overwhelmed with people constantly vying for my attention, whether it be through incessant text messages, phone calls, or pleas to “hang out.” It got to the point where there was barely one minute in the day when I wasn’t feeling pressure from someone. I could barely think my own thoughts. I could be at a party having a real conversation with someone, and having five text message conversations happening at the same time. It drove me insane!

After my last hospitalization, I quickly realized that if I was going to recover, I was going to have to cut all this craziness out of my life. I took a huge step and basically told everyone (nicely) to back off. I took text messaging off my cell phone plan (which lowered my monthly bill by $20 by the way), let people leave voicemail messages if they wanted to get a hold of me (for me to return or ignore at my discretion), and stopped going on that accursed Facebook (a.k.a “stalkernet”). It was the best decision I have ever made. Suddenly, I had peace and quiet. I could actually sit down and think, read a book, or carry on a live conversation without someone bombarding me with texts! I also turned down a lot of invitations to various social gatherings, not merely because of my social anxiety, but because I knew I needed to give myself time and space to heal. I mean, despite my nervousness, I could have made myself go out (as I have many times before), but I realized that right now isn’t the time. In order to restore some level of sanity to my chaotic world, I had to scale back on the amount of social pressure and unnecessary outside input (including certain people’s opinions on what I should be doing with my life).

So now I’m trying to find some sort of a balance. I feel like I need to introduce a level of social interaction back into my life… slowly, and carefully, so I don’t overwhelm myself. I still refuse to text, and I go on Facebook maybe once a day but merely to respond to important messages. I’d like to get better at returning people’s phone calls… which I rarely do (I get very nervous on the phone as well). I’ve also been able to hang out with a close girl friend of mine about once a week, which has been nice and not too stressful. Spending time in the library, bookstore, or grocery store is also helping me get used to being around people again. And, I went to church last Sunday again for the first time in quite a while… And though I felt like I sort of faded in the background, I was able to handle it well and was happy to see some very wonderful people I’ve missed.

What’s next? I don’t know. I think it will be a while before I feel comfortable hanging out with groups of people or going to any parties or the like… That still scares me… But I’m taking these little baby steps, so I know I’ll get there eventually. I’m not worried about it. I know that as I get stronger and healthier, I will become less self-conscious and concerned about other people judging me. Hopefully as I start to feel more comfortable with myself, I will be able to feel more comfortable and confident around other people. One day at a time…