Facing the Day

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.

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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.

Fearing Happiness?

January 31, 2013

My sun is back!  It’s pouring in on me through the kitchen window and it is indeed glorious!  The warmth of it kisses my outsides and melts into my skin, warming me from within.  How lucky I am to have a great, big window that faces south.

I look at today’s date and I marvel at my personal progress.  Just one month ago I prayed for a good year, asking that this previous year, being the worst one in my life, never be repeated.  Here I am, thirty days later, making cookies for C and D’s Ukrainian dance recital and then off to tutor HH.  A little over a month ago…say 6 – 7 weeks…I couldn’t get out of bed.  Wow.  My landscape has changed greatly over a short period of time.  I wish I could celebrate this achievement, but I am too afraid to.  Whenever I recognize a positive aspect of my life, something negative occurs that slaps me down, right back into the pit of my despair.  It happens without fail.  In actuality, I fear any good that may come my way.  I can’t bear to be beaten back down into the swirling depths of my despondency.  It is safer not to acknowledge any possible moments of happiness.

Last night, sleep evaded me completely.  I lay in the darkness with my eyes endlessly open.  I did not experience tiredness, despite the fact that for me, the day had been a busy one.  My mind would not quit producing thoughts, and those thoughts were accompanied by feelings that ran the gamut on the emotional scale.  I felt like my body was going to burst with the contained energy I held inside myself, but I never made a move to get up and expel some of it.  It was most curious to be so full of vigour, and yet so devoid of movement.  It was as if my physical being was completely separated from my mental and emotional state.  The more active my brain became, the more sedentary my body remained.  I felt like my body was shackled to the bed, while my brain was encouraged to run amuck within my imagination.  Finally, at about 5:30 AM, my body was released from its prison and I got up to greet the day.

What will this day bring?  Do I dare to allow the happiness in by accepting the fact that I am moving forward from a past full of dread and sorrow?  Or do I cower away from this truth?  Protecting myself from the impending doom I am convinced will occur once I allow myself to bask in my own happiness?  The latter is a scary thought.  But one whose reality has been proved to me on countless occasions in my past.

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April 30, 2017

Fear is a powerful entity.  It can sneakily and gradually seep into my being as I become afraid of an action or thing that previously had no effect on me.  Or, it can bombard me full on with a terror so palpable I could eat it like I do a sandwich.  Either way, Its insidious grasp closes about me, squeezing the air out of my lungs, and causing my heart to pump at an alarming rate.  The racing thump thud of my heartbeat causes the blood in my veins to throb with intensity.  A prickly feeling at the back of my neck signals the hair on my body to stand on end.  Goosebumps develop across my arms and a freezing chill accompanies them.  Instantly following the cold rush, my body is flushed with a searing heat and beads of sweat gather at my temples and across my forehead.  Fight or flight? Fight or flight?

Fear is as strong as the power I award it.  In the past, I always gave into it, and it fed off me like a parasite sucking the marrow out of my bones.  Now I am better able to combat the force when it attacks by breathing deeply, knowing that this sensation will pass if I allow it to.  However, the phobias I have developed about all insects, and sharks have yet to be dealt with!

Although the fear of experiencing happiness has lessened dramatically, I still sadly cultivate the belief that if I let myself get too happy, or if too many wonderful events occur for me in a short period of time, I will be punished for it.  It is like the feeling of a hangover that I can’t shake off.  Since my earliest memories, my life has been fraught with difficulties of which many I have been unable to manage.  Unhealthy Fear came along and set up camp inside my psyche, thriving there for several decades.  To this day, it still takes up residence, but the space it inhabits has been greatly reduced.

Living WITH fear is one thing.  Living IN fear is another.  As mentioned above, unhealthy fear still inhabits a part of my brain.  But I no longer allow it to rule my existence, dictating the way in which I live my life.

To Nap, or Not to Nap

January 26, 2013

Fighting not lying down in the middle of the day today…Saturday.  The day seems endless.  It is creeping by and I am dragging myself behind it.  Exhaustion saturates my being like a mop sitting in a bucket of hot, sudsy water.  Even the prospect of writing in this journal created a sense of fatigue that made it difficult to put pen to paper.

There is a veritable mountain of chores that I refuse to acknowledge that need to be attended to.  I must vacuum upstairs, downstairs, and in the severely cluttered area I loosely deem my basement.  It is a glorified storeroom of copious amounts of junk that I am seemingly unable to part with.  I have had to carve four pathways through the precariously piled boxes in order to access the four corners of the room.  Disgusting.  Along with all my other personal defects, must I add ‘hoarder’ to the list?  Just entering the basement leaves me weary, let alone climbing about it to locate an item that has been missing since the turn of the century!

After doing that, there is all the dusting to attend to, and washing the dirt encrusted surface that once was my hardwood floor.  And my never-ending battle with the perpetual clutter that plagues my tiny abode is always a reality to contend with.  Not to mention the Christmas Tree.  It STILL graces the corner of my living room over one month since it was initially assembled.  How can I stand living in such a disheveled environment?  Because I don’t deserve to live in one otherwise.  Wait.  That is a negative thought.  I need to counter it by thinking of a positive one.  The kitchen and the bathrooms seem to be the only rooms that I am able to keep clean.  At least I manage to do that.  Yay, me!

Hey…that comment reminds me that Dr. F told me to focus on the positive aspects of my life, and not to ruminate on the negative ones.  So lets see.  I got dressed today.  Check.  That is cause for celebration in and of itself!  I took care of the bunnies.  Check.  I went through some books and picked out some games and activities F and I can do on Monday.  Check.  And that’s about it.  The rest of the day yawns before me, and I long to yawn on my comfy couch!  But maybe it’s OK to take short naps in between activities.  Now is that Depression rearing its deformed and maladjusted head, or does that action make sense as a reward for doing an activity?  Perhaps it is just fine, as long as the nap is short and I do another task once the nap is over.

Other than napping, the only other impulse that registers with me is eating.  Blast!  Of all things.  Why must hunger plague me at this time?  This is one aspect about being at home that is not good.  The fridge is too convenient!  Maybe an apple is all right to munch on.  I think I’ll take a break, sit on the couch, munch on an apple, regroup, and carry on from there.  And if by chance I have a nap, I will be sure to get up and be active afterwards!

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April 14, 2017

I look back now and I can see the insidious presence of Depression, licking like flames at the fragile structure I had built during my time in the program.  It is not difficult to imagine how sneaky Depression is, and how painfully unwitting I was to its ever present stance in my life.  Napping is one of the signs I need to watch for.  It triggers the alarm to sound that all is not well in my world.

My recovery has been an infinitely slow and often tedious process, fraught with multiple dangers along the way that have completely derailed my success.  Succumbing to Depression’s power has on numerous occasions occurred so gradually that I was completely unaware of it until it held me firmly in its grasp.  At this time, all hope seems lost as I struggle to salvage some part of my soul that has not already been devoured.

I wish I could expound a theory on how to beat depression and keep it at bay until the end of time.  I guess though, like everyone else, my journey is unique to my own experience.  I do know, however, that it is possible to move beyond it, and out of its omnipotent shadow.  I need to work each day on finding what is precious and taking the time to marvel at it.  Whether it be drinking in the glorious view of the mountains that stretch before me when I am driving on my way to work each morning, or in the comforting feeling of having my little doggie and kitty’s warm bodies against my own when we snuggle together at night.  When I can appreciate these pleasurable sensations in real time each day, Depression can no longer find me in its iron grip.

Will depression ever be excised from my life altogether?  Of this I do not know.  I can, however, tolerate its presence in the dark recesses of my psyche, as long as I live for the moment I am in.  Depression feeds on past regrets and future fears.  When I solidly position myself in the ‘now’, I have nothing to do but feel grateful for all that I have.  For all that I am.

The Hungry Mind

February 25, 2013

I am very hungry.  There.  I said it.  I listened to my body and acknowledged the sensations that I am experiencing.  Hunger.  How I vehemently dislike that feeling, and that word.  It has been a long time since I had the rumbling, hollow emptiness that signals the need to eat.  Or more correctly, the desire to eat.  When I habitually starve myself, or rather restrict my eating significantly, which is my modus operandi, the sensation of hunger dissipates until it disappears completely.  For a time, there is a numb feeling that permeates the stomach cavity, but eventually that goes away as well, and there is no longer any evidence of feeling that is associated with hunger at all.  It is quite delightful really.  Once my brain has been trained to ignore the sensation of hunger, I no longer require set times to eat.  Nor do I fixate and salivate over special foods that at one time tickled my taste buds and satisfied my ‘need’ to eat them once they were devoured.  There is simply a nothingness that my subconscious accepts as my regular state.  When I do eat, I only allow myself certain ‘set’ foods that I have allocated as safe to consume.  My diet is made up of the same few food items eaten regularly, day after day.  That way I know exactly what I am putting into my body, and then my weight doesn’t change.  But ever since the end of the Program, I have been eating more…and more often.  When I start eating more, I start wanting more food to eat, and then I begin to get hungry, and consequently I eat more.  It’s a vicious cycle.  So what do I do now?  Give in and eat, or abstain and suffer the pangs of hunger?  Why am I even having this thought?  The obvious answer for me is to refrain from eating until the absence of the sensation of hunger returns.  The Program is tricking me into believing that I deserve to eat whatever I want to eat, whereas I know I can only eat what I have deemed alright to eat.

Really wanting to lay down right now, but it is only 5:07 PM.  I still haven’t cleaned the main floor, or taken down the Christmas Tree.  That is pathetic.  An entire month has passed since Christmas, and my Christmas tree and decorations are still up.  There is so much to do, and all I want to do is to go to bed.  I don’t think that is a very good sign.

I have (in a few hours), survived my first entire weekend since the end of the Program on Tuesday.  A couple more days and I will have a whole week of successful living under my belt.  I think I have made it thus far thanks to my regimented schedule, my big, blue binder full of strategies for when I begin to struggle, and for the opportunities I have had to go for coffee…by MYSELF…Hah!…and for lunch.  I am trying to pack in activities to fill up my day with.  The busier I can be the less time I have to ruminate on my failures, and the lack of prospects I have for my immediate future.  Hmmm.  Perhaps that’s what it’s all about.  It’s not about the Hokey Pokey after all!  Hah!  Fill up my day and the meaning will come later.  I’m looking for the meaning and not doing anything.  Sitting in the doldrums and being as active as a sloth may not be the best use of my time when looking for purpose in my life.  Maybe it is time to try a new tactic.  Fill the day up and let the meaning come afterwards.  OK.  I’m challenging myself to do this very thing.  And ‘filling the day up’ can mean with cleaning chores part of the time, too.  I HAVE to get my place presentable again.  It has been over a year since I did anything with it.  I don’t even remember the original colour of the hardwood, as it has been a grey, gritty mess peppered with mammoth dust bunnies for so long.  How shameful is that?  To punish the Hungry Self by living in filth and denying it the comfort and cleanliness of a well cared for home?  No.  I learned in the Program that I am worthy of a clean and respectable place to live.  Now I just have to get off my butt and actually do some cleaning to bring about a new reality.  And I WILL do it…if only the couch wouldn’t continue to call to me to cuddle up and slumber peacefully on it.

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March 26, 2017

That was a mish-mashed piece of journal writing if ever there was one!  I can sense a growing panic about the mounting hunger that penetrated my body at the time.  With that hunger and subsequent eating would come the inevitable weight gain of which I dreaded…and still do.  So much of what I described about the controlled way in which I ate back then, is still present today.  I indulge in the same practices regarding how and what I eat.  The non-existent ‘feeling’ that accompanies the absence of eating is still my constant companion.  An old friend that keeps me from enjoying the social aspect of eating.  An old friend that keeps me from enjoying ANY aspect of eating,  But that is the price I pay to continue being small.  A lifelong goal that still doesn’t make any sense to me.  Why small?  Why not big?  What do I gain by remaining petite?  I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that the secret to getting and staying thin is not so much in what and how much you eat, or how much you exercise, but in how you think, or actually do NOT think about food.  Once my brain is trained not to register hunger, I refrain from thinking about food and I cease to be hungry.  I continue to live in this way, and I guess it is fine, because I rarely think about food anymore.  In fact, I have dismissed it and consider it to be a nonentity in my life.  But for a thing of no importance, it is interesting to me how much time and energy I spend obsessing about the topic, as has been evidenced in both of these journal entries.

Being active is an excellent thing.  Having activities to do is an enjoyable way to pass the time.  I don’t think, however, that filling my day in such a way is how I will find meaning in it.  That comes from appreciating the moments in my life.  Both the wonderful ones that I will treasure, and the difficult ones that afford me the lessons I am required to learn.  These snippets of time provide what I need to possess a peace of mind, and a love of self.  I see this collection of poignant bits as a lifelong process.  I cannot say that I have achieved either a calm and mindful state, or self-love at this time.  But I do my best to be aware of the many meaningful moments in my life that shape who I am today.

 

 

Damaged…beyond repair?

Journal Entry January 24, 2013

Today I had lunch with another fellow from the program.  We were all forbidden to contact anyone that was in the program while we were in it, but I guess now that we are out, it’s OK to meet up.  Truthfully, these are the only people I have had contact with in a long time, other than my family, and P.  It makes sense to reach out to some of these people as I am starting the upward climb out of depression and into…what?  What?  That is the question.  Where do I go from here?  Am I ready to face a world that I failed miserably in, in my past?  How do I know I won’t fail again?  Who or what can I cling to when the world around me begins to crumble?  But these are negative thoughts.  And I’m not supposed to have negative thoughts.  What can I replace them with?  Surely as a graduate of the program I should be able to root around in my toolbox and find a way to silence the negativity that threatens to undo the good work that has been done, up until this point?  Do I detect a note of sarcasm in that statement?  Well, yes!  Here I have spent all of this time in the program and once I am out, I can’t recall a single strategy to help myself with when the dark clouds fill  my sky.  That is pathetic!  Must I run to my big, blue binder and flip through it to find an appropriate plan of action before I can act independently and come up with a solution?  What is wrong with my brain that I have no recall…of virtually anything?!  OK.  I think I had better do some deep breathing exercises to deescalate.  I do remember how to do that.

Anyway, back to lunch with J.  I learned today that he is a recovering crack addict!  Sheesh!  Is there hurt and sorrow everywhere?  Are we all damaged?  Is there no respite from suffering?  J’s story was harrowing…and very real.  When he was finished, I asked him when the last time he had used was.  He replied five months ago.  Five months ago!  Five months ago I was buried deep inside the bowels of my soul, unable to leave my bed.  How torturous were those five months he must have experienced, but here he was, retelling his life and times as naturally as if he was commenting on the exploits of his children.  I don’t think I said hardly anything all the while he talked.  He just kept going on, and I just kept listening.  When he was done he took a swill of his beer for a long moment.  I think he was expecting me to say something, but at first no words came.  I was still processing the information.  Eventually I opened my mouth to speak, and we discussed aspects of his journey before moving on to more mundane topics.

So this was my second ‘date’ since returning to the real world.  I almost preferred R not showing up to this time of J’s self-disclosure.  I respect the fact that he wanted to be honest with me, but isn’t there a  proper time and place when it is acceptable to divulge the private parts of our lives to one another?  It certainly cannot be considered reasonable to spew forth the vile truths of our existence on a first date?!  What IS this world I live in?  On the surface it is full of people who move about their lives in happiness and harmony, but the dark underbelly of the world is peppered with the outcasts of society of which I am a bonafide, card carrying member.  Does it ever make sense?  Does the damage ever get reversed?  Or do the weak just continue to fall and fall, thus coming undone in the end?

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February 26, 2017

The day was a beautiful one.  I remember that.  I was optimistic that the outcome of this, my second ‘date’, would be far superior to that of my time waiting for R to show up.  I mean, what were the chances of me being stood up two days in a row?  Now that I consider the head space that anyone coming out of a therapeutic program is in, in the first few weeks of their return to reality, it’s rather amazing that J WAS at the chosen restaurant at the designated time.  Although I primped and prepped a little for the outing, I did not obsess about my appearance.  I did do my hair though, as my vanity had taken a severe hit when I saw my disheveled appearance in the glass in the doorway at Starbucks yesterday.

When I arrived at the restaurant, there was only a smattering of people seated sporadically around the room.  J was sitting in a booth off to the side.  When he saw me, he gave a friendly wave and I moved towards him.  He helped me with my coat and made a comment on how pretty my hair looked.  Take that, R!  After we sat, he passed a menu to me and suggested we decide on what it was we wanted to eat, and then we could have a nice chat.

We sat there together in the nondescript booth, exchanging pleasantries, when all of a sudden he hit me with his truth.  I was flabbergasted.  I mean what do you say after someone says, “Yes, it is a lovely day!  It sure seems like spring is on its way.  Speaking of spring, could you spring for our meal?  I have been a crack addict for the past 23 years, and I don’t have any money.”  Talk about harsh honesty.  After I propped my left hand under my chin to keep my jaw from dropping open any further, I stammered, “Wow, J.  That’s tough.  Sure I can pay.” ‘”Wow J.  That’s tough???”‘  Not a very astute statement, coming from a girl who prides herself on being a good listener with a knack for coming up with a few select words that are appropriate to the current situation.  But this was a situation I was completely unprepared for.  What a nightmare story.  All the pain that he has endured, and the pain that his addiction has brought to his family is inconceivable.  And he looks like Joe Normal!  I guess I had a preconceived and judgmental idea of what a crack addict should look like.  Shame on me for depicting an image in my mind that was less than flattering.  I suddenly developed an acute tightness in my chest, and I found it difficult to take in air.  He then smiled at my glassy-eyed gaze.  My eyes were open wide for so long they were beginning to dry out.  I blinked quickly a few times to moisten them, and for an instant J’s face was colourfully distorted, like when I am looking through the eye piece of a kaleidoscope.  The moment was ultra surreal.  J appeared completely fragmented.  He had broken into little, blurry pieces that shifted unevenly and swam before my eyes.  I shook my head slightly in an attempt to clear the picture away.  When I blinked one final time, his face returned to normal, and I let out a long, ragged breath in relief.

I must admit, I have a morbid phobia about getting addicted to drugs, although I have never done any, nor do I EVER want to do any.  But the phobia has me dating a fellow who has a drug problem unbeknownst to me.  As time goes on, I lose myself in him, as always seems to happen to me when I am dating.  I am so influenced by him, that in time, I become an addict, too.  Like most phobias, this is an irrational fear, but it has had me in its grip for a looonnng time.  It is also the reason I haven’t dated anyone in years.  Now to be sitting across from a man who actually lived this life was almost too much for me to bear.  I felt a deep chill go through me.  He continued relating his horrendous tale as I sat, my food growing cold, untouched on my plate.  I sat listening to him, transfixed, until he finally finished talking.

I felt emotionally drained.  Over the years, and in so many hospital programs, I have listened to a multitude of people bare their souls.  Their stories have all been full of pain and pathos, and I have given little pieces of my heart to each person who has had the courage to share.  But this confession was different.  I think this story touched me so dramatically because it was not told in a hospital setting.  And I was not a patient in a group that I was mandated to be a part of.  J told his story simply and honestly, and the rawness of the telling cut through me like the razor blades on my wrists had done so in my past.

There was no awkward silence after he stopped talking, and before I spoke.  Silence, yes.  But is was respectful in nature.  When I did begin to speak, I thanked him for his candour.  It is an honour to listen to a person bare all, and I wanted him to know I appreciated his braveness.  He was concerned that I had not eaten my meal, but I told him I would take it home and eat it for supper that night.  After I paid the bill, he thanked me, walked me out to my car, and gave me a hug.  I hugged him back, got in my car, and drove away.  All the way home I was lost in thought.  I think J is a good man.  He is definitely an honest man, and his candid appraisal of his life was not short on self-deprecating humour.  But his is a damaged soul.  Perhaps beyond repair?  I guess that has yet to be seen.

 

Being Hopeful

Journal Entry January 23, 2013

R stood me up yesterday.  We were to meet for coffee at Starbucks and he never came.  I guess I am not too surprised.  I mean, why would he want to go on a date with me in the first place?  I mean, it is me we are talking about.  When I was at Starbucks, I kept thinking of reasons as to why he may be late, and then as to why he had not shown up.  I stayed there a long while, being hopeful.  After the tables around me had been sat a couple of times over with new people, I decided I had better go home.  I don’t think I felt much of anything at the time.  Now I feel upset.  That would have been my first ‘date’ in several years.  I am trying to turn things around for myself, but when something like this happens, it’s hard not to feel like there is something wrong with me.  If I was OK, then this wouldn’t have happened.  But that is a negative thought.  The program is over and I’m not supposed to have negative thoughts.  I should have some strategies that I have learned that will help me turn this thought around.  Right now, I can’t think of any.  I should go to my big blue binder and look through all of the information I collected to help me with this situation.  Truthfully, I just want to go and lie down on my couch.  I don’t have the energy to wade through my binder.  Is this an example of me not helping myself out?  Do I have to report this to Dr. F?  Why does something like this have to happen so soon after leaving the program?  Is this a test?  If it is, then I am failing miserably.

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February 5, 2017

So R stood me up.  Well, what did I expect from a guy without a telephone?  I guess he couldn’t call me to say he wasn’t gong to show up.

I remember that day quite clearly, as the prospect of going on a date was such a novelty after so many years without doing so.  We had planned to meet at Starbucks for a coffee.  We had drank so many of them in the program together, that this seemed like a natural venue to meet at.  I prepared for our ‘date’ carefully.  I didn’t want it to appear that I had taken too much trouble getting ready, so R wouldn’t get the impression that this was a terrifically significant occasion for me.  I think putting together a casually ‘just thrown together’ look takes more time and effort to achieve then one when I am prepping for an evening out where I want to look my best!  I couldn’t decide if jeans, boots, and a jacket were a good look, or if it would be better to wear a long skirt, slouchy boots and a big sweater.  And a hat, or do my hair?  I love hats.  I must have over forty of them hanging in my closet, and in hat boxes in my basement.  Would a hat look too polished?  Or would it appear like I was covering up a bad hair day?  I wanted him to think that I hadn’t put too much energy into my apparel.  But I didn’t want him to think that I didn’t care what I looked like and had just donned a chapeaux to cover an oily, rats nest hidden underneath!  And I put on way more makeup then I usually wear in an attempt to get a non-made up look.  Who knew I had so many neutral colours in my cosmetics arsenal?

One thing the program did NOT help me with is making decisions.  I randomly laid out all of the potential outfit pieces on my bed.  I scrutinized them for quite some time, until a dull ache began to grow behind my eyes.  I closed my eyes and massaged my temples, deciding that the best way to make a decision would be if I made the outfits up as if I was inside them.  I opened my eyes and began putting the pieces together as a whole ensemble.  I arranged the arms of the sweater and the jacket as if I was throwing a ball in the hopes that giving them an action would make them seem more lifelike, and a better representation of what they might appear like on my body.  I then decided throwing a ball was not an accurate example of what I might be doing in my clothes that day, so I tried several other active positions, moving the legs of my jeans and the folds of my skirt as well.  The boots stubbornly just stayed in one place.  I could feel my face starting to redden with frustrations as I was no nearer making a decision as I was when I began this ridiculous endeavour.  I caught a glimpse of my angry self in the mirror, and it occurred to me then that I should try ON the pieces and model them in front of the mirror.  I tried on both outfits more than once, and stood in front of the mirror each time, a marvel of indecision.  After agonizing over my wardrobe for an inordinate amount of time, I finally settled on a compromise.  I wore jeans, the slouchy boots and my big sweater.  My brain was too exhausted from this ordeal to make any further decisions, so I grabbed two hats and flew out the door, my messy hair trailing behind.  I had spent so much time fretting over my wardrobe, I was in danger of being late!  As I noted before, being late is a pastime that I am an expert at.  Or rather, that I used to be an expert at.  However, back in 2013, I was still in the throes of being a specialist, and I continually struggled to arrive at my destination on time.  That particular day, though, it was imperative that I arrive on time so R wouldn’t think that I had stood him up.

I raced through the streets like Mario Andretti, careening around corners on two wheels and screeching my brakes to a halt whenever a red light confronted me.  I couldn’t tell how many yellow lights I ran, but I knew I was lucky that I hadn’t been pulled over en route to the coffee house.  In no time, I arrived at the mall.  Not being blessed with good parking spot karma, I had to putt around the parking lot going under 10 km an hour, in search of a place to park my vehicle.  It seemed like everyman and his dog had come to the mall that particular day!  I finally found a place to park my car at the other end of the vast parking lot from Starbucks.  I tumbled out of my car and began to run across the lot.  The pavement held hard packed snow and ice, so I found myself slipping and sliding, as the boots I was wearing were made for fashion, and not for traversing across the rough tundra.  The wind had a sharp bite to it and it buffeted around my hair, stinging my cheeks and eyes.  I somehow managed to cross the huge parking lot without being hit, or sliding under someone’s car, and I reached the door seconds before I had to meet R.  I saw a reflection of myself in the storefront window and I was appalled!  So much for all the effort to achieve an unmade up face.  My cheeks were bright red and my eyes were watering from the wind, causing my mascara to lay smudged under my eyes.  And my hair!  What a godawful mess!  Good think I had brought a few hats to choose from to cover it up with.  My hats!  I had forgotten them in the car!  I looked at my watch and knew I wouldn’t have time to whip into the restroom and work on my dishevelled look.  In dismay, I opened the large door and slipped inside.

The room was packed full of people sharing hot brews with their chums.  I scanned the room, searching for R, but he had not arrived yet.  I managed to find a small table in the centre of the room.  I unzipped my parka, loosened my scarf, and made a feeble attempt at fixing my hair.  And then I sat…and waited…and waited…and waited.  After some time had passed, I got up and ordered myself a grande, extra hot, non-fat latte, all the while keeping one eye peeled on the doorway.  I took my coffee back to my seat and settled down into the downy warmth of my parka.  I began to imagine a multitude of reasons why R was not here yet.  I knew he didn’t have a car, so he was relying on some other mode of transportation to get here.  Anything can happen when you are taking public transit, I reasoned.  I finished my latte and wondered if I should get another one.  I continued to entertain thoughts as to why he had not yet arrived.  What if his mother, of whom he was fond of, had fallen and broken her hip and R was rushing her to the hospital on the bus?  What if the bus R was travelling in had three flat tires, and R, being of sound mind and body, had gotten out to change all three tires? Maybe when R was running to get a taxi, he slipped and bumped his head and was now wandering around the streets of the city not knowing who he was?  As I stood in line waiting for my second drink, I decided he was not coming.  When I sat back down again, I conjured up reasons why he was unable to make it.  The longer I sat there, sipping my second grande, extra hot, non-fat latte, the more colourful the reasons why R was unable to come, floated into my head.  After I could not think of any other excuses he might have, I stared at my phone on the table.  No matter what he might say to me later, he never bothered to alert me through WhatsApp as to why he was not in attendance.  I started getting ready to go, bundling up to face the extreme weather outside.  I tossed both of my coffee cups away and headed for the door.  And…that was it.  I never heard from R again.

Being stood up on a date is not a pleasant experience for anybody.  I think if it happened to me again, I would definitely be disappointed, maybe angry, but I hope I would not think that there was something wrong with me.  Instead, I hope I would be forgiving of the other person, and gentle with myself.  No matter what is occurring, being hopeful is indeed a positive way in which to live my life.

 

Thinking Thoughts

Journal Entry January 20, 2013

I watched the sun rise today.  Sleep did not come to me, so I lay in bed while the thoughts swirled inside my head.  A plethora of thoughts, crowding each other out vying for my attention.  Pushing and shoving each other around in a raucous manner that left my head aching.  My blood pumping through my veins, seemingly slowed around my brain, throbbing in rhythmic intensity at my temples.  What am I going to do now?  How will I get through each day without the structure of the program I have grown accustomed to?  Will I slide back down to the depths of my being?  Again.  How will I survive?  Who can I look to when I need support?  What if the black thoughts envelope me in their suffocating folds, overpowering me for once and for all, bringing an end to my miserable existence?  The Beast.  What if the Beast wins?

Finally I got up to get ready for this, my last day in the program.  It was way to early to even think of getting out of bed, but I couldn’t attempt to fend off the army of thoughts marching about in my head any longer.  I knew I had to do something to save my sanity.  I went through my morning routine, acutely aware of the fact that less than three weeks ago I didn’t HAVE a morning routine.  I should have stopped and celebrated that realization, but instead it left me with a sense of foreboding that hung about me like a heavy brocade curtain.  If more than three weeks ago I was still in the depths of despair, where would I be in three weeks to come?  Could I evoke the lessons the program promised would save me, and apply them to my real life in the next three weeks?  And beyond?  All by myself?  And the thoughts began to tumble about my brain again, jockeying for a good position within which they could be heard.

At some point during this deluge, I looked out the window and noticed the deep salmon and scarlet brilliance on the horizon.  The velvet blue of the night sky was dissipating, and replacing it were waves of rich colour that rolled forward and up, chasing the darkness away.  The sun peeked its way out of its hiding spot, bringing with it rose and violet streaks that stretched up to join the clouds.  As the sun began to rise, the thoughts in my head were quieted.  I watched the splendour of Mother Nature unfolding in breathless silence.  Once the sun had risen, I realized that only five weeks ago I would not have been able to appreciate this daily miracle.  I would not have been able to get out of bed to see it.  With this thought in mind, I finished getting ready and prepared to go to my first group.

The day passed like every other day had since I began the program.  In a haze of activity, I moved from one session to the next feeling numb inside.  Most of the therapists acknowledged that today was my last day.  The responses I heard from other patients were varied.  There were those who congratulated me and told me they had enjoyed watching me grow as the long weeks had been passing by.    There were also patients who looked at me jealously, not offering wishes of good will.  But there eyes spoke volumes to me.  And then there were the newer patients who would not look at me at all, drowning in the sorrow in their souls.  At the very end of the day, R came up to me and gave me his contact information.  Or rather he helped me put WhatsApp on my phone so I could contact him, as he didn’t have a phone number that I could call him at.  I was shocked, as R is quite a handsome man and someone I had grown to like very much in our time in the program together.  Did R like me too?  A faint flicker of hope flashed through my heart, as I accepted the scrap of paper he gave me.  On it was a number that held potential for me.  I felt a ripple of happiness, as we arranged to meet for coffee in a few days.  Happiness.  How long has it been since I actually felt that emotion?  I almost didn’t recognize it for what it was.  But niggling in the back of my head was the thought, what kind of a guy his age doesn’t have a phone?  What does that say about him?  What does that say about ME that I am even having this thought? Shame on me for being judgemental.

I am at my house now.  The messy, cluttered space that is my home.  I have finished the last day of the program, and I am standing on the threshold of new possibilities.  As I look around the room I catch a reflection of myself in the mirror.  I take a good, hard look.  Have I really changed?  Do I have a chance at a better life, equipped with the tools the program has provided for me?  Will I be able to move forward, no matter how timidly I place each foot in front of the other?  Is it my time to finally taste success?  Will I be able to handle it if it is?  And so the thoughts chase each other around my brain again.  It’s almost laughable.  The predictability of it.  I start the day ruminating, and I finish the day ruminating.  I look over at my couch.  It beckons to me alluringly.  It would be so nice to sink down into the comfort of its pillowed seats.  But I can’t do it.  That would be like taking a gigantic step backwards into my past.  No.  I am moving ahead.  I am going forward into a realm I know little about.  I am taking what I have learned and I am heading into my future via a present that invites promise.

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January 29, 2017

Well.  What a difference a day makes!  The end of that passage does not at all mirror the day before’s angst at the prospect of a future without the program.  The turnabout of attitude is almost dizzying.  I don’t remember what inspired such a change, but the hopefulness in the writing is resounding.

I am still plagued with sleepless nights, sometimes many in succession.  But as a person with bi-polar disorder, that fact is not too surprising.  When these times occur, I flip between lying in the darkness allowing the thoughts to bombard me, and getting up and doing an activity in the hopes that doing so will keep my thoughts at bay.  Unfortunately, my thoughts usually get the better of me no matter what I do.  At these times, I try to shut my mind down by concentrating on my breathing.  The focus on the regular inhalation and exhalation tends to quiet my thoughts momentarily.  More importantly, it relaxes the muscles in my body, and the tension around my shoulders, neck, and head slackens somewhat.  As these physical changes are occurring, I imagine a white space filling my head.  It is as if I have given myself a blank canvas with which to paint new thoughts.  As I don’t trust myself to let my thoughts run wild across the white expanse in case the black thoughts return again, I do repeated affirmations over and over until I am calm and thinking more clearly.

Does it work one hundred percent of the time?  I would be lying if I claimed it did.  But it settles my brain often enough that it is worthwhile to continue doing.  During the moments I am hit full force with an onslaught of hateful thinking, I try and tell myself that time will elapse and these thoughts will eventually disappear.  And on the occasions when my safety is at risk, I have places where I can go for help.  I have yet to experience a time when I can exchange the abhorrent thoughts for delightful ones, but I believe in my future the ability to do so will become a reality.