Monday, October 26, 2009

Being healthy is good, right? *TW not spoiled*

I had what has mostly been a good experience happen this weekend. Wait... My mind knows that it is a good thing and that being healthy is what we want, but there are feelings of sadness in giving up things from our past that represent a time when we were very unhealthy and unhappy. It's hard to explain.

We are not fat. We are 5'8" and weigh 140lbs. According to all those charts, we are a perfect weight for our height and build. We exercise regularly except when school gets too crazy and do our best to eat healthy (well, most of the time). We are healthy.

A year and a half ago I weighed 113lbs and wore a size 0 or 2. We stayed around that size for about 2 years. It wasn't about wanting to be thin - at least at first. We've always been on the thin side. We were in an ongoing major depressive episode for approximately 5 years. Even during our "happy" times we were still depressed. When we get depressed, we lose our appetite and even the thought of eating makes us sick. For several years the weight loss was slow and we stayed around 125lbs. with fluctuations in the level of the depression causing the weight to drop a few pounds.

In the Fall of 2007 a part came forward struggling with some memories involving oral sex and a huge aversion to swallowing anything. Despite therapist working with her on the issue, things only seemed to get worse. By Jan. 2008, we weren't eating anything or drinking much of anything before 6pm (apparently things felt safe after 6pm b/c as a child we were always home by then and no more abuse would occur for the rest of the evening). We worked with this part during our inpatient stay in Feb.-Mar. 2008 and made a lot of progress. I am happy to say being triggered by eating is not something we've struggled with since that stay.

I'm not conviced I do or ever really had an eating disorder, but I do believe a side effect of me being so incredibly thin for so long and getting compliments about my looks from everyone other than my family, made it very challenging for me internally as I began to naturally put weight back on because I was eating regularly again. Giving up my 0 sized clothing wasn't too hard b/c I actually could get back into some of my size 4 clothing that I was sad had become too baggy to wear. Giving up my size 2 clothes was a bit harder. Over the summer and early Fall, I've given up my size 4s for size 6s. I know the average American wears either a size 12 or a size 14, so I'm still well under average, but it's been a hard adjustment.

Until this weekend, I've been holding on to all of my old pants and skirts thinking that one day, I'd fit back into them again.... that maybe this is just a phase and that my "real" weight is skinnier. That I really am a size 4 or a 2.... I must admit that I did not take the initiative to part with my smaller sized clothing and thus commit myself to staying at least at this size. My mother has a friend whose daughter is a size 2-4 and she just landed her first professional job. First jobs don't pay much and she has to dress professionally everyday. Since my mom just helped me purchase enough dress pants in a size 6 for me to wear to work, she thought it was a perfect idea for me to sell my smaller pants that I can no longer wear to this girl for a discounted rate. Makes sense right? I mean, the pants really are too nice to just take to Goodwill. When I started adding it up, I put a lot of money into that wardrobe over the past 3-4 years.

The girl and her mom came over and bought 4 pairs of pants. They looked great on her..... almost made me jealous... Okay, I had to fight the jealously I was feeling inside... She ended up with some nice pants for work, and I ended up with almost $100. I should be excited, right? So, as they were leaving, why did I want to run after them, give them the money, and take my pants back? It's not like I don't still have about 10 more pairs of pants left that I need to sell/give away.... or as the unhealthy side of me thinks - fit back into in a few months.

Please, we don't need more issues! Fiance' doesn't think we're fat. He likes the way we look. If he thinks we look good and our family isn't on our case anymore, shouldn't that help to make being healthy feel more "acceptable" to us? I don't know. It just seems kind of rediculous to me to develop weight issues at this point in my life. I'm only a little bit heavier than I was when I graduated high school and I am wear the same size clothing I did in high school. I didn't have any issues with my weight then.

Don't think I'm going to solve this tonight, and think I could ramble on this topic forever right now. Night folks!

Friday, October 23, 2009

maybe not all old coping skills are bad

So due to all of the drama/chaos at work this week with the A&D counselor in our office, we consciously or unconsciously (I'm not sure) employed a very old coping skill that had worked very well for us in the past. I didn't really even think about the fact that we'd done that until talking in therapy today. Most of the coping skills from my childhood and life before therapy, we've basically thrown out the window b/c while they may have been helpful then, they're not so helpful now.

This week we implemented our "calm, cool, and collected approach during the actual crisis". This is typically followed by an "after the crisis is resolved meltdown". Once defensive walls go down and the reality of the situation sinks in, typically we get overwhelmed and have all or more of the feelings you would have expected us to have in the moment. It's not that this has ever been a "bad" coping mechanism. It's more that the feelings and emotions that follow when we feel "safe" again are rather overwhelming and can be debilitating.

This time, I'm thinking this approach may have actually helped to prevent some additional crises. I still think as things slow down over the weekend and we begin to let our defenses down, some feelings of events from this past week will surface, and while they will probably be uncomfortable, I don't think they'll be overwhelming. I think our laid back approach that voids all emotions in the situations may have helped b/c it did not give my co-worker any ammo from me to allow another excuse for an escalation on his part or for me to have to endure the personal attack that he poured onto another co-worker in our office earlier this week (the attack that I expected would have been targeted at me). The laid back, clear head, no feelings approach helped us lie low the rest of the week at work and avoid any more conflicts, while at the same time allowing us the ability to talk to our supervisor about the problems and use our words well because the mind stayed clear.

We were also blessed to have 2 evenings this week of social interaction unrelated to school. Maybe some of the people we met at these events will become friends down the road and we won't always feel so utterly alone in this town.

It's interesting for me to note that as stressful and horrific as parts of this past week have been, I'd rather do this week over again than the one before. This week was stressful, frustrating, and draining, but no part of it was debilitating. Last week the depression was so debilitating, not only did I feel awful, but I was unable to get anything accomplished.... and there was a huge fear of the unknown of when the depression would lift. The stress this week will probably continue into next week at work, but I see solutions to those issues. Amazing how that one little thing makes a situation feel reasonably easy to bounce back from or like an obstacle that's completely too big to overcome.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Too exhausted tonight to write as much about this topic as I feel we need to. Just really felt to need to say that I never thought the hardest part of working as a therapist would be my co-workers. I really assumed it would be my clients issues overwhelming me or me relating too much to my clients to be able to help them like they deserved. Instead, my main struggles have been with the A&D counselor in our office. This week he's made all of our lives a living hell. I can't begin to go into all of it right now... All of my energy this week has been going into surviving work, school, and trying not to get a cold. Maybe I can write a full entry tomorrow evening after our meeting and I'll have good news to share.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Shout out to therapist

Not up to a full blog entry, but really felt the need to say how blessed I am to have such an excellent therapist. She continues to go above and beyond what she has to for me while at the same time maintaining such good boundaries that our issues don't become her issues so much that she gets pulled down with us. She's seen us through our worst periods and our best and put up with a lot of crap from us b/c of being burned by previous therapists and a HUGE lack of real trust in anyone's dependability/reliability. She is undertaking current tasks with me and we talk about ways to handle upcoming tasks. 3 1/2 years into our working relationship and she seems no less committed than that first day when I asked her if she thought she could handle us and help us. Actually, I believe these days she's even more committed to seeing us through whatever this road we're on brings. At the beginning, I thought she was too naive to know better. Now I realize she is just that awesome, and I am so happy to say she proved me (all of us) wrong! Even in all the lonliness and depression we've been dealing with the past couple of weeks, she has been a constant. It's amazing how much a reminder from her that she's only a phone call or e-mail away, relieves our anxiety and makes us feel less alone.

We are so blessed!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Emotional Rollercoaster

Today has been a crazy emotional rollercoaster and it's only 5pm. We woke up feeling blah. Last night was full of crazy dreams and today is the 4th day in a row of cool, cloudy, drizzly weather. If I wanted to live in a place where it rained all the time, I'd move to the west coast or to Great Brittain. This is supposed to be our dry season when we're praying for a certain amount of rain, so things don't get so dry that the state bans bonfires. Camping, bonfires, and s'mores are what you're supposed to be doing this time of year.

Anyways, I make it to work only to be informed by the counselor I share an office with that I can't use our office today because he has lots of work to do, and I need to use an office of one of the counselors away at a conference today. First of all, the fact that two counselors have to share an office isn't right. Secondly, this counselor has been on vacation the past 2 weeks and expects to just walk back in and own the office again. We're both contract, and technically equal. He has no more right to that office than I do. I have no problem being a team player, but since at least some parts inside have learned we don't deserve to be walked all over, we don't take people's crap like we used to. I learned last week that he made the girl who had position last year cry several times. He will not be making me cry. I did use another office for one of my sessions today b/c I got permission to, and I didn't trust us to not totally go off on co-counselor today. The combination of the weather, lonliness, and the fact that we're on our period seemed like a bad combination to have it out with someone today. Part of me feels sorry for this co-worker. He's in his mid-50s, bitter, alone (he's good at running people off), and never has anything positive to say. I'm easy bait when he's looking to assert his power or get someone to feel as bad as he does. I share an office with him. I'm 30 years younger than him. I'm female. I could go on. I informed my supervisor when we met today that I didn't need anyone to handle this situation for us, but I did want him to have a heads up. I was not putting up with co-worker's bull-shit for the entire school year, and to not be surprised if we had it out at some point in the near future.

Then, we stop and think.... We're standing up for ourselves? We're willing to put someone in their place rather than just allowing them to squash us? Wow! This is weird but kind of cool. Want to make sure we can be assertive without be disrespectful though. Still want to show Christ to co-worker even when he does get under our skin.

So, it felt good for a bit standing up for ourselves. Saw clients all afternoon. The sessions went pretty well. Supervisor thinks I'm doing a good job, and I'm still just amazed our job hasn't overwhelmed us yet.... even this week when we've been feeling so poorly.

Class was cancelled for tonight. First time a class has been cancelled all semester. At first I was so excited!!!!! I got to go home right after work. I have more time to do homework, meaning I don't have to stress to get it all done. However, this means 3 hours more of alone/lonely time tonight. I've been home less than an hour and already the depression sitting on my chest is getting heavier and heavier. Tears will come soon. At this rate, we probably won't get any school work done tonight. The desire to just lie on the couch and blankly stare at the TV until it's a late enough hour to go to bed is growing by the minute. Blah.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Outside myself?

Does anyone know a way I can live outside of myself forever???? The only parts of today that have been okay are the parts when I've had to be totally focused on other people. So, that was about 2 hours out of today. It's not anywhere near bedtime, but I just want today to be over with.

We're tired of the rain and cloudiness. I locked myself out of my apt. today and had to call a locksmith. Started today, so that never helps anything. Want to reach out to someone, but don't even know what to say. Cried at work today for the first time on this job, and none of it was related to work. I did actually try reaching out to fiance' when I got to talk to him online today. I typically don't share major things with him b/c I'm more concerned that he not be distracted with my stuff and focus on getting home to me safely. I will give him an "A" for effort in his attempt to be comforting, but he responded with typical guy responses and is way to far away for me to just ask for a hug. He was very sweet, but not helpful. I was upset, not anxious, but all he could say was that he thought I was worrying too much about lots of little things, and that I was strong and could handle it....... Thanks honey, but that wasn't helpful.

Depression sucks! I don't believe this episode will last long, but I do know it's strong enough that I can't snap out of it. Gonna have to get it together. We have three article critiques due for class tomorrow night and this evening is the only time we have to work on them. I just want to crawl in bed and disappear for a few days and then try coming back out and dealing with things. Shit!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Alone vs. Lonely

This topic has been on my mind a lot over the past several days. For the purpose of explaining my post, I'm going to give you my current working definitions for each word.

Alone: by oneself. no one else is around.

Lonely: feelings of being isolated or like no one is really around whether people are actually present or not.

Being alone is not necessarily a bad thing for us. In fact, because there are so many of us internally, we need 'alone' time from other external people to recouperate, relax, work through things we're not comfortable working on with others present, and to just be us whatever that may look like.

On the other hand, we're learning we don't handle lonely very well at all, and for us, lonely has nothing to do with how many people are around. Lonely does typically start with too much alone time, but for us, can and has persisted even into time periods when we're surrounded by many people we know. Looking back over the past several years, we can see where lonliness has been a contributing factor to some of our mental/emotional declines. It seems the feelings accompanying the lonliness (the depression and anxiety) tend to weaken the effectiveness of our coping skills, thus making it harder for us to cope with and bounce back from life challenges.

This topic has been on my mind a lot the past several days because we have become aware that we are lonely in our new city. We know several people at work and in classes, but we have no friends to do stuff with outside of work or class. This has been compounded by the fact that we have had very little time to work on developing friendships because most freetime is taken up by homework and writing papers. Typically we survive this okay during the week because free time is very limited. Bedtime and the weekends are when we struggle most. This past weekend was a prime example of this. We had no real weekend plans other than working on homework, studying for a test, and cheering on our favorite football team on TV. We ended up going to visit a cousin and spending the night with her family Saturday night. At first, it was decided just because we had some freetime and we wanted to hang out with her. By the time, it was actually time to make the trip to her house, it was a needed visit. We actually started feeling so depressed and anxious Saturday afternoon (even though we were preparing to go to cousin's house for the night and the next day) that we text therapist to see if she was busy. She did text us back but said she wasn't in a place to talk. Since we weren't in crisis at that moment, we told her it was okay. We'd just catch her up on the situation either by e-mail or at our next session.

Once we actually got to cousin's house (a place where we are known as a "we" and have only been show support and unconditional love) all of the bad feelings disappeared and we had an enjoyable evening and and enjoyable Sunday. On the car ride back to our place Sunday night, all of those awful feelings began to creep back in. Heading back to our apt (while it feels safe) meant starting another week of lonliness. We realized we are living for the weekends right now and now want to make plans to be somewhere other than here every weekend from now until December. Fiance' will be home in December. He is great at taking away our lonliness, plus he knows tons of people here that he can introduce me to and help me begin to build my own friendships with people he's already deemed safe and trustworthy.

On one hand, this is great insight for us. To learn something that is a major trigger for our emotional health is a great way for us to figure out ways to compensate, avoid for the moment, and work on overcoming so it may not always be a major issue. On the other hand, this reality scares us. We are very aware that we are going to have to take proactive steps over the next several weeks to make sure things don't get worse than they are now. Right now they are NOT FUN, but they are manageable. We are not feeling urges to self harm or do anything drastic. We are not struggling with work or classes. Our depressive feelings are not consistent. They fluctuate - which is good for us. As long as we know we can continue to come out of the low periods, then fighting through them is not near as challenging.

It feels good being aware of this struggle we have right now soon enough that we can do things to help before it's too late, but at the same time, it really sucks that we're having to choose to take proactive measures again to avoid a really bad place. Praise God, we are not doing this alone. We talked about all of this with therapist today, and she is willing to step things up with us and be available as we may need her to. This alone has helped to ease fears of what the next few weeks may bring, and my hope is that a couple of months from now I will be writing a blog entry stating how long and inconsequential this post ended up being.... that my fears of what may happen were WAY bigger than what actually occurred. I will be okay with admitting I was off on this one though. ;)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Planning for the future

Fiance' called last night. It was the first time we've talked on the phone in over 2 weeks!! We got to talk for a whole 30 minutes. It was awesome!!! He's exhausted, but he's getting excited b/c in 6 weeks, he'll get to start the process of coming home. It will probably still be closer to 2 months before he's actually home, but at least 10 days of that time will be traveling, so that helps. It looks like his unit is set to deploy again Spring 2011, so at least I'll have him home for over a year before he deploys again, and we'll get to be together the first 8 months of our marriage. I know that's more than alot of newlyweds get when one of them is in the Army. I hate to think about him having to go back to Afghanistan again, but for now it's really fun to focus on all of the things that will happen and that we get to do together while he's home.

Also, in planning for the future, we're at the point in therapy where we're going to have to start addressing some majorly uncomfortable issues so that my marriage in a little less than 8 months won't send some parts into a tailspin and put my marriage in jeopardy before it even has a chance. These issues aren't even related to helping fiance' understand what he may need to in order to live with us well. They're more issues with parts and memories so that we can fulfill the role of 'wife' well without freaking out.... and dare I say some of us actually enjoying it without that being "wrong". I want to be married right now, but knowing where other parts are in accepting all of this and in their healing, I am glad we still have several months to prepare everyone and work through some things. We don't adjust to anything quickly, so it will probably take us right up to the wedding for enough parts to be okay with things that everything will go as smoothly as possible.

Did I mention that I'm working and going to school full-time to? Everything I'm doing are things I want to be doing, but sometimes I can't help but wonder if I really am just trading out certain types of 'punishment' for others. At least everything I'm doing now is considered productive from the world's standards.

Speaking of school, I gotta get back to it. Will probably be spelling things from this post out in more detail as they unfold, but for now, this is a start.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Deployment sucks!

So, I don't know how many of you watch the news or keep up with what's going on in Afghanistan, but for those of you that do, my fiance was one of the soldiers fighting in that deadly battle in Northern Afghanistan this weekend. Praise God he is safe, but they lost one of their own this weekend. First one of their guys lost in the 10 months they've been deployed. They are very blessed to have all stayed so far, but it just brings this war so much closer to home for me. Only 2 months left in his deployment. I've done really well so far, but maybe because things are getting worse over there and because the end is in sight, my fears for fiance's safety are growing.

I'm so afraid he's not going to come home to me. This isn't an unrealistic fear, but I do believe it is an unlikely fear. I really just want him home RIGHT NOW!!!! I don't want to wait 2 more months. But I need to stay strong and I need to be upbeat and positive when talking to him. I feel keeping his morale up is the best way I can support him right now. But it's getting hard, and I'm tired of being strong.

Why can't this stupid war just be over? Don't get me wrong. I am SO PROUD of fiance and everything he is doing and what he is fighting for, but I'm tired. I just want him home and I just want things to be normal, and I HATE already talking about plans for his next deployment!

What a week!

I don't even know where to begin. There is so much I would have blogged about over the past week, but my computer screen died on Tuesday evening, and I didn't have frequent enough Internet access to post on my blog. Thankfully, I got my laptop fixed today, and we're up and running again.

I met with my psychiatrist last Wednesday. I maybe naively assumed that he would have no issue with lowering my meds again this month, since he's had no issue about lowering them over the past year. When I asked to drop my Prozac from 40mg to 20mg last week, at first he gave me an 'absolute' no! He said with my history, it wasn't a matter of if I have another major depressive episode, it was a matter of when. Even though all of my severe depression episodes have been linked to specific abuse events or to parts struggling with memories, he still said I would have another major depressive episode, and he thought lowering the Prozac anymore was a bad idea. We talked about it, and agreed to lower my Prozac to 30mg for a couple of months and see how I handle that.

The hardest thing about this encounter is not the fact that I may have to go back up to 40mg of Prozac. I will take whatever level of meds I need to feel well. I just don't want to take more than I have to take. Since I've been on some type and level of an anti-depressant for over 10 years, how am I supposed to know how much I need to be okay without testing the waters a bit? I know my pdoc has my best interest at heart, and I really am okay with our plan. What knocked my feet out from under me was the fact that my progress and coping ability felt as though they were being questioned.

For the past year, I have been blessed with a treatment team, family, and friends who have been supportive of anything I've wanted to do and felt capable of doing. Pdoc has seen me through a lot and I do trust his opinion. I do see him as an expert, so his words carried a lot of weight. I/we started questioning the trust we'd begun to develop in ourselves about our ability to know what we can/can't do and need or don't need. Also, it gave some parts the ammo they've been looking for to add weight to their view that the work we're doing is pointless and we'll never heal enough to make it worth all of this. Also, it gave ammunition to the thoughts that we will cycle through a really low point again. The last thing we want is to be majorly depressed and suicidal again! If pdoc is right, then we still can't trust our internal meeter about what we need and what is good for us.

Lately we've been feeling very confident in our ability to cope and make smart life choices. We're still talking to therapist at least twice a week, but it's more like she's been walking a step or two behind us in case we do fall, but we're living our life. After the conversation with psychiatrist, we became very uncertain of our footing, and needed reassurance from therapist, friends, and family for a few days before making any type of decision or doing much of anything.

Today was a better day. I was able to do things like normal and didn't feel the need to check in with anyone before every move I made. This gives me hope that things really are as I see them. We basically took a direct blow last Tuesday and a week later we've recovered enough to go on with life. I'm very happy yet surprised at how well our coping skills still seem to be working.

I really don't know whether it's good or naive to think we are healing enough to not have another major depressive episode and that we really can lower our meds even more. I guess only time will answer these questions.