Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Valley of Depression

I am writing this on September 28. 
It's important to note that because this will not be published until the middle of October. I am hoping and praying that by that time I will no longer feel the way I do today. Still, how I feel today is important. I want to give voice to where I am now...and on the happen chance that someone else who is traveling this road finds themselves reading my words...know you are not alone.

I have said before, if you are struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts, PLEASE seek out PROFESSIONAL help. 
There are WONDERFUL counselors who are trained to help walk you out of this dark place. You are not alone in your struggle. You are not the only one who feels this way. There is nothing "wrong" with you anymore than there is something "wrong" with someone who has cancer or diabetes or any other disease. If you were diagnosed with cancer, you would go to the doctor to get medicine and help and support. Depression is no different. There IS hope, but YOU must take action and get the help YOU need. It is out there. Go get it. 

That being said, there is no easy fix. 
As I write this, I've been hospitalized twice, I am currently on 2 meds: one for depression and one for anxiety. I also take something at night to help me relax and sleep well. I am meeting with a wonderful Christian counselor every other week. (I may change that to every week and will discuss this change with Perry when I see him on Tuesday.) I am SO much better than I was 3 months ago. I am better than I was 6 months ago...or even a year ago.

I DO have good days, but I still have more bad days than good days. 
The good days are precious to me and they give me hope. I believe that this valley will not last forever, even though today it is very very dark. 


I am going to try to describe where I am today.




Everyone thinks that suicide is such a terrible thing. 

Honestly, where I am now is so much worse. It's more than I can describe. I'm NOT going to kill myself. I took that option off the table, and that's what everyone seems to be so worried about, but I feel like I am going to crumble to pieces at any moment. It's like I am barely holding it together and if anyone touches me I will literally break into a million pieces. I fight back tears constantly and I am afraid if I ever let that dam open, I may not stop crying...ever. 



Worst thing is, I don't see any way out of this. 
Suicide is not an option. I'm not supposed to "stuff" my feelings anymore, because "they" say that's what lead to me trying to kill myself in the first place. I'm just left to FEEL all this....terribleness. And I HATE it. I don't know what to DO with it. I don't know how to DEAL with it. Heck! I don't even know how to identify what these feelings are, much less figure out where they are coming from! It is absolutely maddening.

I keep telling myself, "Just one more day." 
I feel so FRAGILE. I feel like I can't be depended on, like I can't carry my weight in things, like I am not meeting expectations. Like I am letting people down because I can't get my act together. (and yes, I know that is Striver and Self Critic talking)

I don't want to be like this forever.
I don't want to FEEL this way forever. I don't want to have to keep TELLING myself "Suicide is not an option. Just get through today." The only way I know how to deal with this is to put all these feelings that I don't like in a box, put a lid on it, wrap it up with tape and bury it deep deep deep so that I can't feel any of it. Out of sight, out of mind. The way I would normally deal with this is take a deep breath and tell myself, 

"Suck it up, you are fine, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. Put those bad feelings in a box and forget about them.  Don't be such a baby about this. Get a grip and Move on." 

(I suppose that would be Controller, Striver, Perfectionist and Self Critic speaking)

I can't do that now. I'm afraid to. If they would stay buried another 44 years, that'd be just fine. 

I mean, a nervous break down at 88 is not such a big deal I guess. 
I'm just not so sure that all my "junk" will stay buried now. I am not in control of my feelings. I can't control my thoughts or emotions. Everything is different. Everything is a jumbled, mixed up, hot stinkin mess. I feel very weak and vulnerable. I feel so .... fragile.  And I HATE it. 

So, when I say "I'm okay," I mean, "I'm holding it together for now." 
I am selfishly praying that eventually I will be able to honestly say "I'm good," but I won't lie anymore and say I'm fine or I'm good when I'm not. But if I say I'm okay, I am. That's the best I can do. I don't know if you can be suicidal and know that you won't act on killing yourself, but if that's possible, that's where I am. Maybe knowing that I won't act on it makes me NOT suicidal. I don't know. 

I have never felt so helpless. 
I can HONESTLY tell you that cancer was easy compared to this. This is the worst valley I've ever been in. I believe that this will get better eventually, but am prepared for it not to. This may just be something I carry with me. Either way, I have to learn how to cope with this level of depression. 

Counseling is helping. 
It really is. Perry is very calm about things. When I tell him that I feel like a total wack job and that I am losing my mind, he'll say "Is that a bad thing?" According to Perry, I don't have to be in control of my emotions all the time. (gasp) He even suggested that I work on "letting go." 

I'm not on board with all this yet, but I have hope. I can see where it makes sense. Just not sure what will happen if I loosen the vice grip I have on my feelings and emotions. That is a frightening thought.


Depression totally sucks on a level of epic proportions. 

I want to give up every single day. 

But I'm not going to. 

I'm going to fight (or crawl) through this and I WILL be fine at some point in time. 

I'm looking forward to that day.

Big hugs and much love,
K





PS
 As of October 17, I'm still here, doing a bit better, having a few more good days now than I was having even just a month ago. Still have some very rough days, but I am hopeful.


Friday, October 13, 2017

Finding Balance - Using a Detailed Calendar -




I NEED YOUR HELP!!!

Perry has given me a homework assignment...to get and start using a calendar. He says this will help me find balance in my life and that finding balance will reduce stress. Reduced stress = Reduced Anxiety. Reduced anxiety is very, very good.



ANYWAY...

The whole calendar thing is totally stressing me out.
There simply are not enough hours in the day to do everything I think I should do.

I'm supposed to give the calendar lots of "power". Instead of my feelings dictating what I do or don't do, my the calendar is supposed to. That makes me nervous about putting things in it because when I start doing this, I run out of time almost every day.

I'm being selfish about keeping an 8 hour window to sleep. One thing they stressed when I was in the hospital was the importance of getting enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep makes depression worse. Goodness knows I don't need this to get any worse.

I need at least an hour in the gym, preferably every day, with about 15 minutes to and from. I work 8-5.  Drop Izzy off at school by 7:40 in order to make it to work on time. Leave the house by 7:20 to get her to school in time. Everything else is pretty flexible.

ALL THAT BEING SAID...

  • Do you keep a calendar?
  • How detailed is it?
  • What does your calendar look like?
  • What are you "selfish" about when scheduling your day? Your week? Your Month?
  • What tips can you give me on going from NO calendar to a super organized and detailed calendar?


Please leave tips in the comments! 

Much love and BIG hugs-
K

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Finding Balance

I'm not very good at working on the things I'm supposed to work on between counseling visits. I have good intentions. There are so many other things demanding my attention, working on whatever it is that I'm supposed to be working on between sessions gets pushed to the very back of my mind...in a dark corner...in a drawer...under a blanket.

I'm SURE it has absolutely NOTHING to do with the reality that most of the things I'm supposed to "work on" are terribly uncomfortable for me. 

I'm trying to identify which of my Managers is talking when I have thoughts or feelings that really don't make sense. 

Sometimes I can figure it out. Other times it is just to much to worry with. Honestly, MOST times, I'm just barely holding it together and trying to just get through the day (which really is a terrible feeling BTW) and I just don't have the energy to stop and analyze where my "falling to pieces" feelings are coming from. I really can't decide if all these different parts of my personality are holding my "Self" together, or ripping it apart.



I think that giving voice to whatever Manager/Exile conflict is causing my unsettled-ness will ultimately bring me peace.
I don't have enough confidence in this thought to actually put it into practice. I'm trying...sort of. It's hard. It's easier for the time being to just focus on holding it together. I don't have much energy left for anything else.

Perry determined that Striver has a LOT of power in my life.  
Striver always wants to be the best. She is "all or nothing." She tells me that if I don't do something perfectly, I've failed. 

Striver tells me "I should". 

I should be able to keep the house spotless, the laundry caught up, cook dinner every night and provide breakfast every morning. I should always look my very best, never be tired, and meet everyone's needs. I should keep everyone happy all the time while working a full time job...to which I should never be late for.

It seems that my life is a bit more chaotic than it has to be. 
Striver, Pleaser, and Peace-Maker have the strongest voices. I listen to them and therefore, have no balance in my life. I will stay up all night to catch up the laundry (because if it isn't ALL done, I've "failed"), but then won't do any laundry again for a week (because I can't get it ALL done). I may not paint for 3 months, but will then paint for 3 days straight, neglecting all other responsibilities. It's "all or nothing" with me, because that's how Striver works. Add to that Pleaser and Peace Maker...I "must" take care of everyone's needs. Well, everyone's except my own of course.

Turns out, life doesn't have to be this way.

Perry told me to get a calendar and use it. 
He told me to put EVERYTHING in it. Schedule everything from work to rest. Schedule time to write, paint, do laundry and watch TV. He told me to give the calendar a LOT of power. This will take some power from all my Managers. The Calendar will be the boss, not Striver, Controller, Peace-maker, Pleaser, Self-Critic, or Planner. Well, I guess Planner will still have a lot of voice. Striver, Peace-Maker, and Pleaser will have less voice because they will no longer be making my decisions. This is supposed to give my core "self" control and give me some balance.


Just THINKING about this makes me a bit sick.
I cannot imagine telling someone "No, I can't do what you want. I already have something on the calendar at that time." when I know that what is on the calendar is "rest" or "laundry"!!!!!! Oh goodness, that makes me want to vomit. (Yes, I know, that's Pleaser talking.)

I'm going to give this a try. We'll see how it works out. 

Much love and big big hugs!
K

Here's what I know to be true:

  • God has not turned His back on me. 
  • Pleasing people is not my ultimate goal in life. 
  • Satan Distracts and Deceives
  • I am loved. 
  • Feelings are not Facts
  • I need to do the things enjoy.
  • It will get better. 
  • Suicide is not the answer.
  • God’s not finished with me yet.
  • I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
  • "Functional" is not the same as "okay", but some days it's the best you can do.
  • Digging up memories is like opening Pandora's Box.
  • I am not broken.
  • I need balance in my life.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Internal System

I have a new counselor. Nothing against my first one. We just didn't click.

My new counselor is Perry. It's easier to type "Perry" than "my counselor", so I'm going with that. 

Perry walked me through the same things I talked to my first  counselor about. Rather than digging up more memories, Perry helped me start to see where my childhood shaped my personality.  We revisited my earliest negative memory and identified how I felt during that moment. That's all. This helped me start to see that I am the way I am for a reason. THAT'S the reason to examine memories...the situations and circumstances that make up those memories make me...well...me.

Perry took that memory and walked me through what he later told me is called the Internal System.

My Managers
The parts of my personality that I show to the world came to "power" in the memory I shared with Perry. In their position of "power", they have served me well. They protected me when I was a little girl and have given me a sense of control as an adult. Perry identified them as "Managers."
We identified my Managers include:
  • striver
  • peace-maker 
  • pleaser
  • planner
  • self-critic
  • controller
  • perfectionist


My Managers work to keep me in control of every situation and relationship in order to protect me from feeling hurt or rejected.

My Exiles
Perry also helped me start to understand how the different parts of my personality work together (or, in my case, against each other) . He said that the "Exiles" are painful emotions that are isolated from my conscious "Self". This is to protect my "self" from further pain. These are emotions that I believe to be "wrong" or "dangerous" or "unacceptable."  Perry said that EVERYONE has Exiles, and they are pretty much the opposite of your "managers."
Over time, these exiled emotions become increasingly extreme in an effort to be heard and cared for. 
We identified my Exiles to include:

  • anger
  • fear
  • grief
  • anything "self" motivated 
    • self preservation
    • self protection
    • self assurance
    • self confidence
    • etc.


This is where is gets interesting...
My Managers work tirelessly to keep my Exiles in their place: far away from my conscious "Self". Perry said that this can work just fine until a person becomes emotionally/mentally/spiritually tired. When this happens, the Exiles start to come to the surface, causing the Managers work doubly hard to push them back down. 

My Firefighters
When the Managers can no longer hold the Exiles back, they come rushing to the surface. These painful emotions hit all at once and you react automatically to repress them. You release the "Firefighters" and their only goal is to release pressure and avoid painful feelings. 
We identified my Firefighters to include:

Binge Eating
Self Harm
Dissociation
and most recently, Suicide



This is the root thing that causes people to cut, have affairs, gamble, spend irresponsibly, and have all sorts of addictions. It's all about immediately releasing pressure and avoiding painful feelings.

This is applicable to everyone.
Your Managers, Exiles, and Firefighters may have different names, but the concept applies to everyone.

There is HOPE
When the Managers and Exiles are in balance, you can operate out of your "Self." This is the core, or the center of a person. When everything is in balance, it acts as an active, compassionate leader. Your (and my) "Self" has the following characteristics:

Calmness
Curiosity
Compassion
Confidence
Creativity
Connectedness
Courage
Clarity
Oh! Doesn't that sound WONDERFUL?!?!



Going forward, when I am "out of balance", Perry has told me to try and identify which of my Managers is in control, or which of my Managers is speaking. I'm still working on this, but it is so nice to begin to understand why I do what I do and why I feel the way I feel.

The right Counselor makes all the difference! 

If you are looking for a counselor, it's okay to be picky. You don't want someone who just agrees with you, but you DO need someone who "gets" you.

Much Love and BIG Hugs!
K

Here's what I know to be true:

  • God has not left me, nor has He turned His back on me. 
  • Pleasing people should not be my ultimate goal in life. 
  • Satan Distracts and Deceives
  • I am loved more than I ever realized. 
  • Feelings are not Facts
  • I need to pay attention to my desire (or lack of desire) to do the things I normally enjoy.
  •  It will get better. It always does.
  • Suicide is not the answer.
  • God’s not finished with me yet.
  • I am fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator of the universe.
  • "Functional" is not the same as "okay", but some days it's the best you can do.
  • Digging up memories is like opening Pandora's Box.
  • The human personality is more complex than I realized

Friday, October 6, 2017

I just want to make Peace with all the Pieces

I'm struggling. It FEELS like there is a VERY fine line between digging up memories so that I can make peace with my past and move forward, and finding someone to blame for where I am. At this point I am not sure if this is something that I "must" do. I mean, is this whole digging up memories thing something that I "must" do in order to be emotionally healthy? I'm really not cool with it. Like, not at all.

I am very well aware that things happened in my life that were....difficult. 
My life has not been perfect. Has yours? My guess is no. Life just isn’t perfect. If it was, what want would we have for heaven? (That’s a post for another day.)

Did my parents do things that cause me pain? 
Of course they did. Are there things that I wish they'd done differently? Of course there are. But you know what? They're just people. I'm not sure it's fair (or beneficial) to blame  anyone for where I am now. (Especially since I am absolutely praying that my children will show me some grace when they judge my parenting skills.) I FEEL like the whole "digging up memories" thing is not much more than looking for someone to blame for this special brand of crazy I've ended up with. I'm not okay with that. That doesn't feel "right" to me.

My parents (and yours) have their own closet load of crap dumped on them by THEIR parents, who had a closet load of their own compliments of theirs.
Add a lifetime of choices (some good, some terrible, and everything in between), and my parents are just trying to get through life the best they can...just like I am. They have their own special brand of crazy that they have to manage every day... just like I do.

Kids don't come with a booklet of fail-safe instructions. 
I firmly believe that my parents did the best they could with what they had to work with. My bet is that yours did too. Perfect? Not by a long shot. Good grief! I'm certainly no where close to being a perfect parent myself! How can I blame my parents for being less than perfect in parenting me?

I know that there are people out there who suffered extreme abuse and I am in NO WAY saying that's okay. 
No one should EVER abuse a child, be it physically, mentally, sexually, or emotionally. That's never okay and should never be tolerated. Abuse leaves scars that never go away....but they can fade in time, with lots of help, with lots of effort and patience...and lots (and lots) of counseling. Please understand, I am NOT making light of abuse. Not at all. Goodness knows that's several months' worth of posts all on its own!

(deep breath)

Okay, I'm just thinking through this...
I know that everyone in my life has shaped me in one way or another (both for better and for worse), but seriously, I've caused myself significant amounts of grief on a daily basis. I'm just not sure that assigning blame to someone else for where I am now is going to help...it's not going to change anything. Assigning blame to someone is not going to undo the past. 

(sigh)


I just want to make peace with all the broken pieces that make me…me.

Maybe digging up old memories is the way to do that. Maybe not. I guess we’ll find out, won’t we?

  
Much love and big hugs,
K