My Dad has suffered a massive coronary attack, and is presently in the ICU. I apologize for not writing regularly because of this situation. When my Dad is in recovery I will resume writing. Thank you for your understanding.
My Dad has suffered a massive coronary attack, and is presently in the ICU. I apologize for not writing regularly because of this situation. When my Dad is in recovery I will resume writing. Thank you for your understanding.
Here I sit; grumpy, disgruntled, famished, cheesed off, and ready to lash out at SOME ONE…ANYONE! I have been fasting for my blood work and I have lost the ability to be hungry with dignity. Darn those, ‘Save-My-Life-Meal-Plans’ that have been imposed upon me. Why is someone always trying to get me to gain weight? I have had to eat more food, and everyone knows, the more you eat, the hungrier you get. Now when it comes time to abstain, an activity I am a master at, I am unable to shut down the pains emanating from my belly because I have been forced to ‘three-meal-two-snack-a-day-it’ for some time now. Where is the pristine elegance of my posture when the cleansed feeling I associate with an empty stomach envelopes my body? I am hunched up and cramping, and almost howling from hunger! But where am I and how did I get here? I will use my journal to record the events of this day thus far.
I experience a rare case of road rage on the way over to the clinic with a white van emblazoned with the message, ‘Sunnnyside Wellness Centre – Where Old Becomes New Again!’ It is packed full of elderly people who seem to be enjoying a leisurely drive through the city. Talk about crawling along! I bark and growl at them as I putt, putt, putt behind them, my stomach sounding its own alarm as I angrily pound on the horn in my car. But to no avail! The van meanders along the road, oblivious to my menacing threats. When at last it pulls over to the curb to park, I speed by shaking my fist with one hand, while the other hand white knuckles the steering wheel. I careen by ineffectually.
I screech into the parking lot and yank up the emergency brake. I am terrified I am going to be late for my appointment, which the nurses will NOT hold for you, and that I will have to go through this blasted fasting once again. I run up the stairs in the building, clutching my achingly empty tummy as it gurgles and yowls angrily, throw open the heavy glass door, and dash into the office. I nearly run headlong into a pregnant lady who is standing in the doorway nursing her baby. Throwing my shoulder to the right, I lunge sideways to avoid bumping into her. My ankle twists and I stumble uncontrollably into some empty waiting room chairs. My body and the chairs crash loudly against the picture window. My forehead meets the glass with a resounding thunk, and my knees collapse into the plastic seat of one of the chairs that I am in front of. I slowly swivel around to face forward, as my left hand clutches at the bump that is fast forming on my head, and my right hand reaches down to rub my aching right foot. I open my eyes, which I didn’t realize I had closed, and see the pregnant lady shoot me a dirty look before she turns her back on me and continues nursing. At least somebody’s hunger is being satiated.
Slowly I stand up and limp across the floor to stand in the roomy space provided for waiting patients. I am the only person in line. The only other people in the waiting room are the pregnant lady and her baby. I look across at the counter and there are four nurses seated at stations down the line. The first one is talking loudly on the phone to someone about the bursitis flareup she is experiencing in her left leg. She uses extremely colourful language to describe the amount and placement of her pain, and then she stops talking to listen to the response on the other end of the line. The second person is chewing a tunafish sandwich and flipping through an Enquirer magazine, which is also utilized as a napkin when some of the mayo from the sandwich squirts out onto her lip. The far two seats are inhabited by a man and a woman who are having an in-depth conversation about a topic I can’t discern. I wait as patiently as a person with a throbbing head, a strained ankle, and a burning pit of fire in her stomach can. After a bit of time I clear my throat audibly, although I am positive anyone in the waiting room cannot deny my presence because of the resounding noises radiating through my belly and out into the open air. At last, the lady with the tunafish sandwich closes her magazine, after wiping her fingers on the last open page she has been reading, and tosses the baggie that had held her sandwich into the garbage can across the room. t is an impressive shot, as the crunched up baggie sails through the air, bounces off the arm of the male nurses’ chair and kerplunks into the wastepaper basket several meters from where she sits. She reaches into her purse and draws out a tube of cerise lipstick, which she then artfully applies without the aid of a compact mirror. Once this operation is completed, she pops the lipstick back into her bag, turns around and looks at the huge LED screen that displays a large red number and calls, “718.” When she turns back around, I smile weakly at her and move awkwardly towards her window.
“Number please.” I look at her blankly.
“Excuse me?” I ask. She peers at me over her glasses and points towards a ticket machine that stands to the left of the doorway. I had completely missed seeing it on my way in because the pregnant lady had blocked it from view.
“But I am the only person in line,” I counter.
“I need the ticket,” she intones dryly. I stare at her, my mouth twitching unattractively. Then I very deliberately turn on my left heel and hobble over to the ticket machine. I have to ask the pregnant lady with the baby to move aside so I can access the machine. She scowls blackly at me and steps way out of the way. I tug on the paper, rip off number ‘718’ and then make my way back to the Tunafish Lady’s window. I hold the numbered tab up and say in my most pleasant voice,
“Name,” she states. I tell her my name.
“Health Care card?” she asks. I hand my card over. She writes some information down, and then looks at a list of names on a schedule.
“You’re early. Go take a seat and we’ll call you when it is your time.”
“Early?” I gasp in disbelief. I look wildly at the clock on the wall.
“By forty minutes. Go take a seat and we’ll call you when it is your time.”
As a person who used to be perpetually late for ALL engagements, I have designed a complex system wherein I trick myself from knowing the actual time. I cleverly write down the wrong time in my schedule book! By the time the date arrives for me to go, I have forgotten the original times scheduled. This ensures that I will arrive early to all of my engagements. But I’ve never been FORTY minutes early before!
Numbly, I shuffle over to the bank of chairs across from the nurses’ windows and slump into a hard one. Forty minutes early! How could that be: And here I thought I was running late. Oh joy. I am early. Now I have to wait in this antiseptic prison with an elephantine hunger that has left my tummy swollen and reeling with stabbing pains that intermittently jab my insides when I least expect it.
As I sit there, my eyelids begin to droop and become heavy, and I struggle to stay awake, despite the pain in my head and my ankle. I had taken a sleeping pill late last night, which is unusual, because I am on so many other medications I try not to add any more to the particular cocktail I ingest on a daily basis. My alarm woke me early, as I had a list of things to get done before I came to this appointment. I foggily realize I haven’t slept off the effects of the sleeping pill, and I begin to doze in the chair.
“Do not drool,” I keep repeating in my mind, as my head bobs down and then up again when I discover I am sleeping. Suddenly a young man enters from the hallway where the blood is taken. He sees me in my dazed stupor. I try to smile at him, but I stop midway because the excess amount of saliva I have in my mouth threatens to cascade through my teeth and spill out onto my chin. He frowns slightly at me, and then moves towards the pregnant lady with the baby. They share a kiss, and then exit the room.
I groggily look up at the clock on the wall. My eyes take a moment to focus and then I can see the display. Twenty-five more minutes of this agonizingly long wait before my appointment time arrives. Finally, I give in to my exhaustion and close my eyes. Doing so immediately lessons the pain on the left side of my head. I rearrange myself in my chair and doze off accordingly. I am awakened by the doorbell that sounds when a patient enters the room. I am unaware of the time, but I know they STILL haven’t called my name.
“Hey…listen people! The frumpy, middle-aged woman with the belly bursting from famine and the eyes slightly crossed and rotating in their sockets due to a drugged and sleep deprived state is getting ornery over here. Call my name, dammit!”
My eyes fly open widely and I grip the chair with both hands. Did I just say that? Have I lost it and gone postal in the blood clinic? I can feel the suffocating sensation in my chest, as my throat begins to close, that signals the beginning of an anxiety attack.
“Breathe,” I say in my head. “Deep breaths.” I squeeze my eyes shut, trying to block out the inevitable fallout that will occur when I am admonished for my outburst. My body is completely tense and my toes are wriggling in my shoes like they always do when I am stressed. And then…nothing. I wait for it. Nothing again. I open my right eye. The clinic is running exactly as it has been since I arrived.
That was my inner monologue! I didn’t speak that out loud! Relief and euphoria wash through my body in gigantic waves that leave me feeling breathless. I collapse back into my chair, and my toes stop doing their manic dance.
“Number 718, please.” A friendly nurse stands in the hallway holding a clipboard against his chest. I jump out of my chair and dash over to him, the pain in my injured right foot all but forgotten.
“Yes! It’s Me! I’m Number 718!”
“All right then,” the nurse smiles. “Let’s take you back and we’ll have you out of here in a flash!”
I let him lead me away. Somehow, all the anger and frustration I have been experiencing dissipates. He genuinely takes an interest in me, and asks how my day has been going, I release a gigantic, jagged breath of air, and look deeply into his smiling eyes.
“Well…funny you should ask,” I reply, and I find that I am smiling, too.
January 28, 2018
It is amazing to me how the power of a smile can turn my day around…or make it that much better. Whether I give a smile, or I get one, the endorphins in my brain are turning somersaults, high-fiving each other, and generally celebrating life. It’s easy to share a smile when I am happy, but much more difficult to dredge one up when I am feeling low. Yet that is when I need to use those muscles in my face that turn everything upwards, the most.
When I am experiencing difficulties, the last thing I want to do is to look at myself in the mirror. What I see reflected in the glass is not a person who I would consider successful. My image during those times is a constant reminder of how inadequate I feel. How unattractive I view myself to be. But what if just once I stared at myself in the mirror and dared myself to smile? To really exercise my face muscles and come up with the happiest grin I could muster. Would I feel foolish? Probably. Would I inadvertently giggle after I watched my face struggle to remain morose, despite my brain directing it to do otherwise? Most definitely! Would I feel better after doing it? You betcha!
I realize that sadness must be respected and given its due. I grieve at times when it is necessary, and at times when it is not. It is truly important to experience those feelings in real time. But when I am just feeling out of sorts, or when I have had a hard day, I am going to challenge myself to face the mirror and give it my most dynamic smile! The one where I can see both my top and bottom teeth at the same time! And then, if it’s possible, I’m going to share my beaming face with another individual. I’m smiling right now! Go on. Use those face muscles in a positive manner. Take my challenge and see where IT takes you!
March 6, 2013
Well, I did absolutely nothing yesterday, and yet the day was full. I don’t know where the time went. When I say, “nothing”, I mean nothing I had planned to do. No vacuuming, no computer work searching for a job. I did my journaling and self-help work. I did yoga for the first time. I talked to M on the phone. I took P in to have a teeth float. I met up with dear S for dinner, and then later a nighttime tea at Starbucks. I got home at 11 PM, and it was too late to even think of vacuuming. Instead, I glued F’s hair barrette again. The one that we made during our craft time together last Friday.
My heart is pumping blood at a furious rate. I can feel it right through my housecoat. Am I anxious because I didn’t go on the computer yesterday after announcing to one and all that that was my goal? I realized yesterday AGAIN how afraid I am of failing. Perhaps it wasn’t so much a realization as it was a pristine moment of clarity where I was slapped in the face with my own reality. It’s one thing to SAY I am afraid of failing. It is another thing altogether to FEEL it soaking through my bones, drenching me from head to toe with suffocating completeness. I also became aware of the fact that I have no confidence. That seems like a rather redundant statement to make after living a life with the absence of self-esteem. But somehow this new understanding of my lack of confidence is profoundly disturbing. What do I do to regain it? Or if it was never there in the first place, how do I develop something I’ve never seen or felt before? ‘Fake it ’till you make it’ cannot apply in this circumstance because I have no understanding or innate sensibility of what it is that I must fake. What IS confidence? I know some people are born with it, and others are not so lucky. Can I truly gain something; an entity I have no previous or background knowledge of; and propel myself forward with it in tact, as I motor down the freeway of success?
Success. It is a beautiful concept, and one that has been absent in all aspects of my life. I guess that statement is not exactly true. A few instances do come to mind: being awarded ‘Most Improved’ ball player at the end of my first year playing baseball in a league, to being named ‘MVP of the Year’ in the same league, in my third and final year of play; moving to LA a few months shy of the ten year deadline I had set for myself to land there; and graduating ‘With Distinction’ in the two University degrees I completed in four years time. But that is about it. Oh wait…I should include being my high school Class President and Valedictorian in Grade 12; and giving the Invocation at my University graduation in the spring of 2008. I should be proud of these achievements, but instead I am achingly aware of what a pathetically short list of accomplishments that is for someone who has been wandering the planet for 47 years. Blundering and plodding along, blindly and continually stepping into great potholes in the road, and falling several decades into pits of despair. No sidestepping for me. No circuitous routes. Straight down the line, over monstrous mountains and through unfathomably deep valleys. Why do I feel like taking a short cut is a ‘bad’ thing? That strategizing and avoiding definite road blocks and bumps along the line instead of tackling whatever comes my way is shirking my responsibilities. In other words, my attitude is, “Take it as it comes…EXACTLY as it comes.” It is not acceptable to avoid any grievances that may come up. I must face whatever confronts me, and confront IT! It is cowardly to turn my head and look for another option. I must persevere through each trial, growing stronger with every obstacle cleared. What a load of hogwash! Since when is looking for alternative methods of action or responses a negative experience? Where does it state that tribulations can only be met as they are presented, head on? Who said that only adversity makes me grow? My whole belief system needs to be dismantled and retired. Or abandoned altogether, and thrown into the round file. I’ve got to start all over and develop a new scheme with which to live by. But how do I do that? Where do I begin, and with what do I begin with? Which takes me right back to my original question: How do I develop something I’ve never seen or felt before?
Maybe all of this thinking is meaningless. Perhaps it is just a matter of doing. To greet each day and do the best I can with what I’ve got, each moment as it comes. I could recognize each minute success I achieve, and celebrate these moments as they arrive. For instance, congratulations me for steadfastly making the time to write in this journal. Good on me for completing the rewriting of my notes from the courses in the hospital program into my Big Blue Binder. Way to go for establishing a cleaning schedule, and then making a concerted effort to stick to it each day. Kudos to me for pulling myself up off of the putrified floor of Depression, and struggling to find meaning and purpose in a life that has been devoid of these properties for multiple decades. Wow! What a change in mindset THAT was. Was that really ME speaking? What a foreign way to think. This may not be permanent, but I will say, “Thank you”, Universe, for suddenly opening the windows of my mind to acknowledge these realizations in real time. May this type of thinking be the substratum with which I construct my new belief system on.
January 14, 2018
As I reread this journal entry, a flicker of hope flashes through my brain. Five years ago, for an instance, I got a glimpse of what the other side might look like. It came out of nowhere, a surprise of the sweetest kind. An opportunity to view an alternate way of thinking, of being, that no matter how brief, did flare into existence.
I continue to compose my ‘new’ belief system to this day. Sometimes I experience days when a positive truth gleams forth, and a new brick of enlightenment can be placed to reinforce the others around it. At other times, I am beset with insecurity and I feel like the fabrication of my foundation is crumbling all around me. In moments of weakness, I worry that the distance I have travelled from then until now is minimal. In moments of strength, I don’t compare. I am content in the knowledge that I am in the spot intended for me at this particular time in my history, and that my building, as it stands, is one that I can love and be proud of.
March 5, 2013
I am reading a new novel about a woman who has a rare form of amnesia. She doesn’t remember who she is and she wakes up in an unfamiliar world every morning. Her circumstances seem quite horrific, and yet I find myself wishing I was her. Preposterous. Why do I constantly want to be someone other than who I am? That woman’s life would be a veritable nightmare, but because she is ill, there are no expectations on her to be or to do anything. Not to have a job, or support herself. She barely even has to take care of herself. That is all the responsibility she has. Her husband can do the rest. And I want that ?! Where is my fight to survive? My will to live? My apparent need to be independent? It’s like I just want to be taken care of. To be told what to do and where to go. To be directed as if I am an actor on a stage waiting for my blocking. What has happened to me that I feel so inept and incapable as a person to be able to take care of myself? I can pseudo care for T, S, B, and P, but when it comes to me, I want someone else to do it for me.
I don’t know if I can hold a steady job again, or not. In the past I have met with fiascos regarding my careers. I work myself to the bone for my employer, desperately looking for approval and acceptance, only to burn out and be replaced. Then in my recovery, I sit at home and slumber my life away, afraid to get out and tackle life. In a warped way, I think if I am ill, I won’t be expected to go out and support myself. What is wrong with me?! The truth is, I have no one in my life who will take care of me. I am a single woman with financial responsibilities. If I don’t work I will end up on the street.
Today I broadcast to my family that I would go online and search for a job. Is this why I am panicking? Or is it because I fear I cannot hold a job, and whatever one I get I will eventually lose amidst shame and pain? Is the writing already on the wall? Why can’t I just die and be done with this Earth? I don’t want to be tested anymore. I don’t want to try and try and try again, only to end up in a pitiful heap on the floor, a doormat for those who are seeking one. I don’t want to live anymore. It’s so odd. I don’t actually feel depressed, or the usual depressed feeling I have come to know and dread. Instead, I feel inordinately afraid of what is to come. Afraid I will fail once again and be left struggling in the pit, with the dusty remains of my past dreams for company. I feel squashed flat. I can taste the grit embedded in my teeth from being one of the downtrodden for so long. Why can’t I fight back? Why can’t I pull myself up and talk to myself kindly, gently? Encourage myself to take the next baby step, no matter how small. Forward. Onwards and upwards. I need to be talking to myself in a positive manner. Instilling beneficial ideas and beliefs into my heart and soul. Nurturing my broken self. Tenderly piecing back together the fragments of my life that lay scattered haphazardly around my feet, like dry breadcrumbs I feed the birds. How is it that I know what I SHOULD do, but I am incompetent when it comes to the doing of it? Am I slipping? Am I heading towards another tumble into the abyss; the depths of darkness and despair which I have come to consider my only reality?
Another sleepless night. I walk and move as if I am another person when I am not feeding like a leech on my depression. I don’t feel real. I possess a lightness of spirit and mind that is foreign to me, as the times between my bouts of depression are so short lived I forget what they are like, and what I am like in them. In a way, I experience my own amnesia regarding my happy self. What does it feel like to be happy? Who am I when I AM feeling brighter and more alive? How long will this feeling last, and where do I go at its end? Down. Down. Down. It’s been several weeks now, however. It has been since the end of January that I had a sense of feeling uplifted. How much longer do I get to benefit and bask in the sunshine before I become buried in the putrid blackness of my soul? Please let this medication work. I know I am not feeling as high as I have in the past when my burden lifted unexpectedly, and I was free of the chains of my morose and tortured thoughts. Maybe the meds are taking the edge off of the high, which hopefully means the edge will be equally relieved off of the inevitable low that will follow.
Am I someone who can work and exist in the world like an average person (whatever that is), or do I need to go on assistance and only work part of the time? Tutoring and holding a part-time job. Why do I feel like a failure if that is my lot in life? And is there a ‘lot in life’, or does it all come about by the personal choices that I do or do not make? I feel somewhat relieved when I write maybe that is all I CAN do. A part-time job, tutoring, and some kind of assistance. But does that make me a slouch? Or am I being realistic? Can I only manage so much? Have I pushed beyond the limits of my stamina from years of abstinence from food? Have the limits of my personal strength been exhausted? Have my ‘will’ and ‘power’ deserted me from horrendous overuse in my endless anorexic years? I know one thing for sure. I won’t meet any eligible men who can take care of me, if that is what I REALLY want, going the part-time/assistance route. But maybe I’m not supposed to. I just can’t bear the thought of another public humiliation when I fail at yet another job. I am just beginning to get the hang of cleaning the house, for heaven’s sake. How will I keep that up AND work full time? OK. My thoughts are escalating and my panic is increasing. I need to stop. I need to look at my handouts from the hospital program. I need to read and think good thoughts for a while.
January 2, 2018
Amnesia. It is a funny thing. Not the condition itself, rather the fact that during certain periods in our lives, we all encounter a form of it in some way or another. Mothers might remember the difficulties they had birthing their babies, but they forget the actual physical pain they experienced at the time, when recounting the details of each child’s birth. So too, could be said of the surgeries I have undergone. I can recall the events of the hospitalizations, but the excruciating pain itself, and the knife-like stabs that occurred whenever I moved are thankfully forever removed from my memory. I think the same applies to my depression. When I am lost in it, I am swamped with the distorted feelings of hopelessness, self-hate, and the familiar desire to die. On the other side, however, those feelings too, fade into the recesses of my brain. All I have to remember them by are the scars that were left behind. It is the belief that the other side exists, though; that is the understanding that I must adhere to. That it IS feasible for someone like me, who lives in darkness, to reach the other side where possibilities abound. That the journey I have embarked on, with concerted effort, will eventually bring me to a truth that holds a new promise. One that justifies my travels along an arduous path, and makes some kind of sense in the larger scheme of things. Where the memory of the razor’s edge of depression is sliced away and tossed out into the ether, enabling me to walk out of the forbidding shadows and into the light of day.
March 1, 2013
Yesterday was a weird day. Shades of my most recent past. I awoke from a long sleep feeling exhausted. I had my breakfast and felt too tired to journal, so I went back to bed and simply lay there until I had to go tutor H at 4:00 pm. I kept asking myself, “Is Depression winning, or am I just extremely tired?” I dreaded going to work, but I diligently got out of bed and prepared myself. Once I got to H’s and was a part of their warm environment, I became full of energy and ready to light fires with my writing! We spent two hours together and I worked very hard.
I don’t think I would have made it to H’s if I didn’t have the Present Practice technique I learned in the Program. I focused on each moment as I was getting ready, so as not to continue dwelling on questions I have no answers for. From getting out of bed, to putting on my socks, to brushing my teeth and beyond, I thought about each action as I was performing it. I was acutely aware of textures, tastes, and the sensations of the different materials that touched my body as I went through my routine. Doing this kept me in the present…in real time. I couldn’t fortune tell my future because my future doesn’t exist in the here and now.
That course I took at the Rocky sure was excellent. I am so grateful I was able to do it. Grateful to Dr. F for referring me and getting me into the program. Grateful to D for giving me a break, and grateful for having the time to invest to do it in. I wonder about the other course? The really expensive one. Would I benefit as much from it? Is it worth the money? Am I worth the money? They say I am Bi-polar. I am finally being medicated for it. Do I really want to do the Borderline Personality Disorder course because, as Dr. R says, there MAY be elements of it I MIGHT find useful? I think it will just confuse me further. On the other hand, I don’t want to drop into another low and be scraping the bottom of the pit yet again, not being able to pull myself out of it because I lack the tools. But I DO have the tools and the handouts from the Rocky course. I read pieces of these articles and try to practice some of the different exercises I have learned every day. That’s got to count for something.
I am still leery about the way depression has been skirting my existence a couple of days in the past week. PLEASE don’t come back. I can’t bare a repeat performance of the past ugliness that has shrouded my being in a suffocating blanket of sadness and woe.
NO. I am in charge here. Depression is no longer an option. I gain nothing from it, therefore it has no purpose in my life. I say to it, “No more! You are not welcome! Go and camp somewhere else! You are not getting any action over here anymore!” Now…to believe it. Or to say it over and over and over again until I DO believe it. And to make a picture in my mind of me sending Depression away. Yes! That will be my plan. Affirmations and visualizations. That is how I will oppose the seething mass of blackness that threatens to envelope me at every turn I take.
September 25, 2017
Again, I sense the duality of my life and the two opposite poles stretching me to my limits. The desire to rise above and defeat depression is as real as the fear that it will come back and terrorize me once again. It’s as if I was playing tennis with myself. Optimism lobs a ball over the net, and Depression slams it right back. Only in this game, there is no love.
At present, the game of tennis that is played on the court in my mind is being won by an optimistic hand. There are still some volleys that are returned by my negative self, but positivity has served countless balls over the net that the other side has been unable to send back over. Those balls lay scattered about on the other side of the net, like the debris that litters the ground around an overflowing and rank garbage can. Nameless balls of no return. And on the opposite side lies a pristinely clear court that welcomes play to begin. To be at this stage in the game is a remarkable victory indeed!
February 19, 2013
Last night as I was driving, I had the feeling that I was on the edge, poised to fall off into depression again. I was tired and fearful. My mind was racing forwards and I was imagining all sorts of evils related to my jobless situation. It was a horrible feeling. That the precipice on which I stand was about to crumble. I felt quite powerless and afraid. I don’t ever want to go back to how I felt in the fall, winter, and into January of this year. So many years of my life have been lost to illness of some kind. I would like to think I have left anorexia behind me, but the thoughts and the images still haunt me. Perfection is a goal I have not given up yet, either, although it is ludicrous to think that I could ever achieve it. Me…absolutely imperfect in every way. So hopelessly inept that it is laughable that I would conceive the idea that I could even flirt with perfection in the first place. But there. These are negative thoughts. I must be ever vigilant of these destructive tendencies that I have towards negativity.
Perhaps I am feeling like I am in a funk because I went backwards for a bit. The days since I last wrote in this journal have not been easy. The weather has been grey and cold of late. That also makes it harder for me to function. I see the greyness and I want to stay in bed. I had a dreadful “sleep day” on holiday Sunday. I slept the day and the night away, missing it altogether. Shades of my recent past. Today I woke up late, and I have just now got up from an hours lie down on the couch – not actually a nap because my thoughts were racing as I lay inert, but a rest period just the same. I guess this behaviour makes sense because I am coming off of the buzz of having five sleepless nights in a row. I hope that is why I feel exhausted, and not because I am heading into another depression. I would like to get my sleep, and/or lack thereof, under control. Either night after night I lay awake, unhelpful thoughts bombarding me, or I succumb to a slumber so deep that I don’t gain consciousness for an entire evening and a day. And sometimes even longer. It is this up and down existence that is hard to manage. Let’s face it. Right now, ALL aspects of my life are hard to manage. The sleep issue just ascorbates the situation.
I have yet to finish my resume, and vacuum and wash the floors. I’m not following my laid out plan very well, despite the fact I have clearly allocated tasks and chores to do on each given day of the week. Why do I seem unable to adhere to a schedule of my own design? The Program showed me that I need structure in my life in order to function…period. And yet I resist this fact with every fibre of my being. Why is living each day in a motivated way so seemingly difficult for me? I know I can do it. I’ve done it before. I’ve lived in three different countries on two different continents, and I managed on my own, for the most part, successfully. Perhaps I am still in the shadows of the overhang of my depression. What a wretched place to be. But again, I am drowning in the negativity of my thoughts. I HAVE been making progress. I absolutely cling to that belief. I guess some slips are to be expected. Just as long as it doesn’t become a long slide down that slippery slope into the abyss of my profound sadness. How I abhor that slippery slope that I know so well.
I have to go somewhere and phone to get my telephone turned back on again. That was bad of me not to pay my bill. No. I just made a mistake by not paying attention to the due date on my statement. I am not bad. Next time I need to be more aware of time and the timing of my bills as they come in to avoid having this happen again. I am totally embarrassed that this has occurred. What will the person on the other end of the line think of me? What will I say to try and explain myself? I hope nobody I know finds out about this faux pas. I cannot bear to be judged any more. On the other hand, what kind of a company disconnects a phone just because you are late in paying your bill? I’ve never missed a payment before. This seems like a harsh punishment for being derelict in paying my bill once. AND, I have to pay a fee to have it reconnected. That really makes sense. If you don’t have the money to pay your bill in the first place, where are you going to scrape together more money to get your phone turned back on? It’s hard not to feel like I am one of the downtrodden. I have been there practically all of my life, but I so hoped I had moved beyond this condition once I had finished the Program. I guess only time will tell.
September 17, 2017
The tone of this journal entry has changed significantly, as compared to the more recent ones. It is laced with negativity and fear. The feeling that the other shoe is about to drop is as tangible as the shoe itself. I can almost picture myself looking skyward over my shoulder, waiting for it to fall, and for me to collapse underneath it. But I can also sense the desperate attempts to rise above these negative thoughts and feelings, as they are occurring. Only three days have passed since I wrote positively about a memory I had had, but within those three days a shift has taken place. The pendulum with its perpetual swing is beginning to carry me back to a space I have learned to dread. A space of darkness where possibilities are vanquished and squashed under the unforgiving heel of a steel-toed boot.
My struggle to overcome contrary emotions and to bask in the light of positivity is tenuous at best; then…and even now. Although at present I am equipped with strategies that assist me to live on the brighter side. Mindful breathing, affirmations, and a spiritual connection with the universe all help me remain under the sun of an optimistic lifestyle. Does the slippery slope still exist? Most definitely! However, with the awareness of the choices I make in my daily life, and how they affect me in turn, I am better able to combat the darker influences in my brain and to live a life of peace and happiness.
February 14, 2013
I had the loveliest surprise on Valentine’s Day! N popped by. I had made him chocolates, but I didn’t know when I would get them to him due to the nature of our circumstances. But sure enough, his familiar knock echoed through my living room in the evening and there he was! He came in for tea and I could tell he was pleasantly pleased with the candy. We dove into another one of our fantastic conversations and entertained ourselves accordingly for quite some time. Then, out of the blue he announced that he wanted to treat me to a new haircut and a colour! I was totally taken aback, as he had never given me a gift before. What a lovely gesture! And so unexpected. My next thought was that my hair must look pretty darn dreadful for him to warrant such an offer! Hah! When I asked him what his motivation was for making such a suggestion, he simply said he had noticed how hard I have been working on putting my life back in order, and he wanted to honour my efforts.
At that moment I don’t think I knew what to think or feel! My eyes welled up with tears of happiness because I was touched by his kindness, but I was embarrassed as well that I should be in a position where I NEEDED to gather the shards of my existence together and put them in some semblance of order to resemble “normal life.” I could feel my face begin to redden in anger that he would assume I would need such a gift because I was unable to provide for myself in this matter. But I also felt sadness because a simple gift exchange such as this was an occurrence that rarely happened in my life because I no longer had many friends. Anorexia had ruthlessly taken care of that years ago. Then the sad feeling was chased out by the frustration I experienced because I really DID need his help on many occasions. Whether it be to open a jar I was not strong enough to crack the seal on, or to listen to me talk and to provide feedback when I felt completely alone in the world, N has been here to help me through. Albeit on his own schedule, but he does have an uncanny talent for appearing just when I need him most. And I am always so ill-prepared to return a favour to him. Shame on me for not being a reciprocating friend.
I wasn’t sure whether I should laugh, or cry, or yell, but I could feel something untoward building in my chest. It started as a ball of fire that began to swirl upwards into my esophagus. Its heat grew in intensity as it rose until it felt like my throat was being burned by acid. The fire caught my tongue and I could feel my eyes begin to water. Sensing my inner turmoil, N moved closer to me in concern. He placed his big, strong hand on my shoulder and he leaned forward towards me. I had no idea what I was going to say to him because of all my conflicting emotions, but I knew I was going to say something. Just as the heat threatened to blow off the top of my head, I opened my mouth to speak and…I burped! Loudly! Of all of the responses to his generosity that I could have elicited at that moment, that one had to be the least anticipated! The air was deadly quiet, as my eyes flew open in horror at my faux pas. I heard the steady, ‘Tick, tick, tick’ of my living room clock, and then…we both erupted in peals of laughter! “Dear me,” he finally said in his soft accented speech, and I showered him with a jumbled up combination of apologies and thank you’s until we both settled back down.
It was so great to see him on Valentine’s Day! It is super to see him on ANY day, but today was special. He is a dear man. I care about him deeply, but I can do nothing more that that because of the impossible situation.
N confirmed again tonight that we would do my yard in the spring. I really look forward to that. I’m sure it will be hard work, but I love being outside. I also really like physical labour. There is something really satisfying about working with the dirt. The land that I live on. The land that I cherish. My little piece of utopia. My heaven on earth.
July 18, 2017
What a funny memory for me! Laughing with a good friend is one of my favourite pastimes. I have come to appreciate how both laughter and friendships are priceless commodities that must never be taken for granted. They both provide great joy, and they need to be valued in kind.
Being the best friend I can be brings me tremendous happiness, as well. To me, friendships are living, breathing entities that require nurturing and attention at all times. I know, however, that they are well worth the effort and the time I invest in them. The give and take between friends is a natural phenomenon and not something where a score needs to be kept to ensure each partner is giving the same amount as the other. When the connection is true, balance ensues. As the years roll along, I find I have fewer friends than I did when I was younger. But the ones that I do have, are rare finds that I treasure with all of my heart.
February 13, 2013
KS’s birthday! I will try to unearth her phone number and call her in California. What a long time it has been. What will we say to each other? So much time has passed since her wedding in Long Beach, and our hilarious time in Disneyland! I was still in University at that time…I believe my last semester in Spring Session, 2007. Wow. Six years. Her baby C would be six now. A little soul in his own right. I wonder how life is playing out for him? For them?
Going on another day without sleep. I have lost count of my sleepless nights. Three? Four? I can only hope tonight I will feel tired enough to surrender to a sleeping state. Right now my body feels rejuvenated after my dance workout and my bath. My eyes are tired though, and my cheekbones feel numb. Or rather the spaces under my eyes feel that way. I NEED to pay my bills, but I just don’t feel like doing that right now. I dusted and organized the main floor today. Amazing how much stuff has accumulated from who knows where, that needed to be placed elsewhere. Next I scoured the bathrooms and the kitchen sink; wiped down the cupboards; went through my closet to get clothes to donate to either Women in Need, or The Diabetes Society; shovelled the walks; and made my Mom some muffins. Bit by bit my abode is starting to look better. Incredible what a little dusting does for a place! Hah! Tomorrow I must vacuum and wash the floors. Maybe if I don’t sleep tonight, I could do the floors then. That would leave the 14th wide open for…for what? Like there’s going to be a line up of vastly eligible and handsome men waiting outside my door ready to whisk me away to a terrifically romantic spot? I think not…but hopefully something will transpire that will engage my attention!
I had an interesting session with Dr. F today. He pulled out The Dialectical Handbook and we really focused on Radical Acceptance. This was cool because that aspect of this particular treatment model really spoke to me when I was reading it over earlier. I am on the opposite spectrum of Radical Acceptance, as far to the right as I can be! Hah! But the concept is interesting and one worth looking into.
OK. my left eye is beginning to twitch. Good thing that didn’t happen earlier today. After I saw Dr. F and I tutored Z, I went for coffee with J. Wow. He sure is divulging a lot about his life to me. He actually reminds me of me! Or how I have been in the past. The thinking being that it is better to take all of my negative personal baggage and bravely display it out front at the BEGINNING of a romantic relationship so as to give the other party a chance to vacate immediately if they don’t want to become involved with such a hapless creature as myself. Funnily enough, I think I did this less for my potential partner and more for me! There is nothing worse than becoming interested in someone only to lose them once a deep, dark, past secret has been revealed at some point later on in the relationship. But now I don’t want to be that honest or open to start with. I want to keep some things to myself, until the time for disclosure is right. I guess I am changing. All I can say about that is, “Good on me!” The old me no longer works, so despite my usual reluctance and dread of change, I’m say’in, “Bring it on! Out with the old and in with the new! My past methods have become null and void, so let’s ditch ’em and learn to make new ways to be!” I wonder what that will look like?
This time of curiosity is excellent and kind of exciting in its own way. I am beginning to create as I go, and there is a certain freedom in that which makes me think of when I lived in Australia. No one knew me there, or could possibly have met me before because I had never been on the continent until the fateful day that I arrived. Arguably, that was the most free I have ever felt in my life. But those were also dark days filled with pain, what with the confused separation, partial reunion, and eventual dissolution of my short-lived ‘faux’ marriage; my Dad struggling to fight cancer back in Canada; my acutely severe and debilitating homesickness; and the profound loneliness I finally experienced when I truly found myself alone in a country that was two days away from everything I had ever known. Troubled times in many ways, but they also provided me with the opportunity to learn about, discover, and reinvent myself. AND, as a member of a cast of five, I sang, danced, and performed stand up comedy in a show at a professional venue for a year! An absolutely incredible experience, and one of my life’s greatest highlights! My years in LA were also fantastic for presenting me with the chance to recreate my identity, but it was not quite the same occasion for anonymity as existed in OZ.
What a lifetime ago. More like THREE lifetimes ago. I don’t even remember who I was back then. Who I have been at ANY of the significant junctures in my life for that matter. What a thought. I am a series of strangers parading across the stage of my life. Slipping in and out of costumes as I march along. What is the common denominator amongst all of the ‘me’s’, other than that? That all of those characters are me? Whoever that is. Or was. Perhaps right now I am finally starting to learn who I really am. I pray this time of curiosity lasts indefinitely, and that I get very comfortable examining me as I evolve into my future. Ironically, of which the present is all I will ever know.
July 16, 2017
“Who am I, anyway? Am I my resume?” (A Chorus Line)
That is a good question, and one I am reluctant to answer. Maybe it’s not reluctance, per se. It’s more like an ignorance in that I still struggle to define who I am. After all these years I am completely unable to put my finger down and identify who I am as a being on this planet. Well, that’s not exactly true. I could come up with a slew of negative traits or descriptors that I think I embody because I have spent my whole life cultivating this skill. But doing so is a disservice to myself. I spend ample time each day reworking entrenched pathways in my brain by doing positive affirmations to combat the contradictory ones that are so ready to rear their ugly heads when given the chance. It seems I am hardwired to describe myself in derogatory terms, but I now try to silence those thoughts and replace them with more helpful ones.
But, in fact, I remain a mystery to myself. It’s easier to be in the dark about my identity than it is to challenge myself to define the person that I am. There is a risk in making statements that capture my essence. Once spoken, I then need to live up to them. After years of being riddled with self-hating thoughts, I am not at a point where I trust myself to make and follow through believing self-affirming thoughts. Fear rushes in and bites me on the butt yet again. I’m not sure why I am afraid to think and assimilate good thoughts about myself, other than my childhood memory of my mom warning me that undue vanity would give me a “big head”. I was about five years old, and I was standing in front of the long mirror, wearing my favourite white dress with the soft pink sash, admiring the beautiful white rabbit fur pom pom that adorned the sash. My Mom saw me and I think thought I was preening in front of the mirror, so she delivered her message firmly and let me know that possessing a “big head” was not a favourable condition. And for whatever reason, at all costs, I did not want a “big head”, or an overinflated opinion of myself! Funny, the random pieces of information that I put through my filter, internalized, and made important as a young child. So important that I remember them, and the circumstances surrounding them, vividly. So important, in fact, that I am still affected by them to this day.
Many people say I am a chameleon, always morphing into a new image by changing my hair style and colour, or the fashion I adopted at different periods within my life. I don’t know if this is true or not. What I have just realized, though, as I am writing this response, is that until I make the choice to actually pick a trait, or traits that expresses who I am, I will forever be in the dark as to my true identity. If I don’t know who I am, then nobody can really know me either. And that is indeed, a lonely reality to live out.
February 8, 2013
Going on my third night without sleep. My mind is absolutely buzzing. I’m not even sure what it is I am thinking about exactly, as thoughts are flying around in there at an alarming rate. It is so odd. An idea forms and I begin to think it through, and then another thought bombards into that idea, sending it flying into the ether. Which in turn is replaced by yet another notion…and so it goes. I feel like I am using an inordinate amount of brain power without having any results to show for it. I must admit, this is a far cry from where I was in December, paralyzed with inertia. Now when I sit still, my head is a racetrack. I am finding too, that I have energy to start tasks that would otherwise have been impossible for me to even fathom when I was in the doldrums. But again, completion escapes me. I start with one chore and get it half finished, and then it occurs to me that something else also needs to be addressed, so I leave the first job undone and move on to the next.
I’ve decided to take a break. It is a gorgeous day and I am out on my swing at 1:10 PM. T and S have joined me. The birds are sweetly singing, chirping out the news of the day, and the sky is azure blue. I LOVE my swing. It is so peaceful. The gentle swinging action puts me at ease. Much like how I imagine a baby must feel when it is being rocked. I look at my dried raspberry bushes and wonder of their bountiful promise this summer. My apple and cherry trees stand stalwart respectively, awaiting the time when they will spring to life and be laden with pristinely white blossoms. My lilac tree behind me displays its branches, that guarantee will hold the heady scent of lilac when they bloom in June. My wind chimes are tinkling. Fairy chimes. There is a cool breeze, but the sun is warm. The breeze wafts around me, as the sun shines on my face and hands. The warmth of it spreads through my body to its very core. My coat is undone.
The East side of my yard is blanketed with snow. Banked and white. The West side has some snow as well, but it is melting and there are puddles along the fence and in the raspberry bushes. The North side against the house is a combination of dry and muddy parts, and the crown of my strawberry rhubarb plant is bravely peeking out. The South side against the garage is deep with brilliantly sparkling snow. I must remember to clear those rocks out by the side of the garage so my raspberries can continue to grow. I can’t wait for spring to come when N will come and finish the backyard!
T is in amongst the raspberry bushes. One of his favourite haunts during the summer months. S has just scaled a snow drift mountain, and is perched on top, sniffing the air. It feels and looks like spring, but I am afraid we have lots more winter left to experience. It’s hard to believe on a day like today. A jewel of a day! I just took a deep breath of air into my lungs and it even smells like spring! That fresh, slightly dank aroma of mulched leaves and dirt. Why, I see a few sprigs of green grass! Hey…I see LOTS of green grass sprouting up! Oh, wouldn’t it be amazing if after all these years of having Phil the Groundhog see his shadow, that this year he didn’t and we got an early spring instead? What a time worthy of celebration! An early spring and an extra long summer would fit the bill perfectly! Perhaps I should send out some wishes to the universe to bolster the possibility of this happening.
The universe…God…whatever is out there. I have felt for so long that It/He/She doesn’t like me, or rather cares little for me, but likes to challenge me for its own entertainment. And not JUST me. A score of us purple sheep the world over, A universal entertainment troupe. The folks on the planet who struggle, or suffer, in varying degrees, for what benefit? For whose benefit? It’s hard to make sense of all the pain that exists in the world. To justify why it is present. Why IS it present? What purpose does it serve? It’s easier to think that someone or something up there is simply watching a television program that we have all been cast in. And ratings are always higher when adversity is featured. I have always said I wanted to touch people. To make them laugh, or think, or cry, through my acting and my stand up routines. Maybe I got my wish. Just not in the way I thought I would. The audiences that I had hoped to enthral have been diminished to one being…or one entity. And the time that I was meant to be on the stage is actually my life as I live it each day.
Today I am feeling positive. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it is because I am riding a tide of delirium that has occurred because of my lack of sleep. It doesn’t really matter why. How long has it been since I felt this way? Can I even remember a time? I just feel like I can handle anything that comes my way. So if there IS a being out there that wants to be entertained, I am ready and willing and standing by the stage door. Bring on the events as you see fit! But this time, I am writing the final script, and I will be the one that enjoys the show!
July 2, 2017
Well, that passage is far removed from most of the others that I have penned earlier in 2013. At the end of it there is a cocky challenge that I sent out to the universe. Something that I wouldn’t necessarily do today. But unbeknownst to me, I was sailing along on the high at the start of a manic episode, and such behaviour is common at this time. Although I think it is wise to have an attitude of confidence, I have learned that too much of a good thing can get me into trouble. On the other hand, I don’t think with my life-long history of self-loathing and depression, that I could EVER reach a point where I was overly confident! Hah!
As I read, I am taken back to this time. Despite the fact I was just recovering from a debilitating bout of depression; that I had no job; that I had no way to pay my bills; that I had lost most of my friends due to my illness; and that I struggled daily to feed myself and maintain a weight that would be substantial enough for me to survive on, I was happy IN THAT MOMENT. Whether it was derived from a chemical imbalance in my brain or not, there is no denying the contentment in my voice as I described my treasured back yard oasis. What I want to remember about this important fact is that rain is followed by sunshine. So many of the memories I have in my life are difficult, or shrouded in pain and sadness. I seem to have forgotten most of the lovely and happy times I have shared with my family and friends. Whether it is due in part to the ECT, or because I wasn’t really present in the times as they were occurring, I do not know. It’s very unnerving to be so blank about my past. But that day’s writing is a reminder to me that I have had good days. That I will continue to have good days. And for those that are less than that, I now have strategies in place that will assist me in finding my way through any darkness that may come.
February 6, 2013
Another sleepless night for me. I am weary today, but I am afraid to take a nap in case I don’t sleep tonight. I haven’t followed my schedule today, or for that matter, in several days, as I lay in bed for a long time willing myself to get out of bed. Getting up each morning is still so hard. I don’t hate the day the minute I wake up anymore, but I just don’t seem to want to get going. I guess I am still hiding out from the world.
I have made some good strides forward. Dr. F is amazed at the big leap I have taken. But I fear that this supposed progress is only temporary. I hope I am not falling back. I couldn’t take that. Being on my own is difficult, as I no longer have an enforced set of activities I am required to complete. I am my own boss. This is a role I am not comfortable taking. More truthfully, this is a role I have not a clue how to adopt and take on for myself. How can I not know how to manage me? How is it that I have never learned this basic survival technique? It is unfathomable how I could have gotten so far into my life without grasping this simple premise. And yet here I am. Blindly making a muck out of experience after experience. Terrified to step out on my own.
How do other people manage themselves? Why is it that I have never thought about this crucial piece of reality until now? What a simple concept, and yet it is one I don’t understand. I have been ill so much in my life. Hospitalization after hospitalization, to the point of sometimes becoming institutionalized due to the length of my stays. I think of all the help I have received and the care that has been given me. I have required this attention because of my illnesses, but at what cost? Is it any wonder that I have difficulties standing on my own two feet? Couple that with the fact that my family sees me as being fragile and unable to cope. They have tried to protect me from what? Myself? The world that surrounds me? Whatever the answer I am left lost and alone. Feeling unprepared and unable to face each day as it greets me.
OK. My heart is pounding, my chest feels constricted, and I have a nauseous feeling in my gut. These physical signs are telling me that I am panic spiralling. Never a good thing. I must do some breathing exercises and focus on the moment of now.
I look at my luscious plants. They are so beautiful and green. Such a variety of different shades of colour. It’s quite remarkable and spectacular at the same time. Like me, they love the sun! Basking in it each day brings me warmth and satisfaction. A comfortable feeling of contentment creeps in as I feel the subtle warmth of the rays on my arms and hands. This morning it was cloudy. A greyness permeated the sky that suggested snow was on the way. But now it is delightfully sunny with a slight haze in the sky. It is like the clouds from this morning haven’t completely burned off. I look up into the depths above me and marvel at its perfection. With all of its different moods, the sky remains constant. Something I can count on seeing each day and night. If only I could learn to count on myself, then I, too, would be able to take care of me and face each day with dignity.
May 27, 2017
I like most mornings, now. I arise very early and then relax into my day by luxuriating in the downy folds of my cotton bedding while repeating my positive mantras at a lazy pace. I am then able to eat breakfast, and although I cannot say I enjoy it particularly, I like the idea that I am feeding my brain and my body for whatever comes my way.
There are still days when I struggle to get out of bed, dreading what awaits me. During those times, I strive to think of what I have to be grateful for, and I do my daily affirmations with a blind fervour, trying to occupy my mind with positivity, as opposed to focusing on what is negative. This can be a challenging activity because for so many years my brain has been bent in the direction of negativity that I naturally navigate towards it. But the more work I do establishing new positive neurological connections within myself, the better able I am to reach and remain on the bright side of that spectrum.
Now the grand question is whether I have learned how to take care of myself. Anorexia has shattered what little self-esteem I possessed before its onset, so many decades ago. It has not been built up significantly to date, despite my concerted efforts in this area. And I remain rail thin, which would indicate that my ability to care for my basic need of sustenance is one that is sketchy at best. But I AM functioning in the real world. I have maintained a career for several years, and although I would like to have a partner, I live somewhat successfully on my own with my dear doggy and kitty.
True happiness still eludes me, as countless years of self hate have taken their toll, and the ability to be kind to myself is grossly impeded by my inner critic. But I have learned to accept most days as they come, and to do my best to focus on the moments that occur, in real time, regardless of whether they are moments to remember, or ones to forget. I hold onto the belief that with continued hard work on myself as a person, I WILL find total peace, and even true happiness. In the meantime, I welcome contentment as my companion as I face the days that come before me.