Amnesia

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.

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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.

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The Slippery Slope

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.

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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.

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.