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.

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.