Thursday, July 14, 2011

The past week

I feel as though I've been all over the place emotionally in the past week. The anger that I discussed in my last post subsided and was replaced with state of alternating between desperation for help and feeling resigned to just be. I felt incredibly alone over the weekend dealing with some new and painful memories that I couldn't share b/c other parts were so adamant that we could not share the information. Parts were threatening self-injury and death if we told. Now, that may not have happened, but I've learned over the years not to take those threats lightly. I've never been in a place of truly wanting to share the pain I was in and feeling "bullied" into not being able to. Other parts were in that place while the abuse was occurring, but I didn't have that specific experience. I've not shared things in the past by my choice, but never b/c someone else wouldn't let me.

Monday's therapy session broke through a lot of barriers and diffused some parts who were threatening self-harm. I gotta admit. I don't think therapist knew exactly what she was doing, but she did some great work helping parts do a 180 in thinking really quickly. I actually think this is part of what makes her an awesome therapist. She does great work even when she's not fully sure what to do to help me. :) By the time we left her office Monday, safety was no longer an issue and we were able to share the information we'd been dying to share but were too afraid to share.

Over the next couple of days, my rational mind thought this was great. In some aspects I had more of my life back. My emotional mind was still a wreck. There's a lot of new pain setting in regarding the new information that was shared and the shifting taking place inside. Safety is not an issue but some of the pain still feels overwhelming. Several younger parts who are in a lot of pain noticed that we didn't talk to therapist as much and she didn't check in on us between sessions once safety wasn't a concern. This a+b=c thinking led parts to think that the only way to get the attention that they felt we needed was to threaten to or actually self-injure. We spent the next 48 hours arguing with ourselves about how self-injury does not actually equate to safety just b/c people pay more attention to us. We got to talk to therapist about this yesterday, and it was helpful. It didn't "fix" everything, but she helped put parts minds at ease that she doesn't forget about them or not care about them during the times we're not speaking to her - it's not an out of sight, out of mind situation.

Today I feel blah. Not having any self-injury impulses, thankfully. But I want to cry and I think I'd be very content to just lie on my couch all day. On top of all of this therapy stuff, I've had a lot of strong emotions regarding my husband. See, he's on his way home from his 2nd deployment to Afghanistan. He started his trip home Sunday and we thought he'd be home yesterday, but there have been delays, and as of yesterday he was still in Afghanistan. I haven't talked to him in almost 24 hours, so I'm praying he's somewhere in route home now, but I really have no idea. I'm so ready for him to be home, and the emotional drain of thinking he's on his way, then he's not, then he is, then he's not, and now I don't know is almost more than I can handle on top of all of the other emotionally draining situations.

I haven't blogged in several days b/c I don't feel I've been able to articulate what I really feel or want to say. I'm still not sure I succeeded to day. I'm really just hoping this entry makes sense at this time.

Friday, July 8, 2011


I feel like fighting... I don't care who. I don't care how. My frustration and anger levels are running so high today that I just want to fight. Luckily I am still grounded enough to know that nothing good would come from fighting. I've holed up in my house today and am avoiding basically everyone. I don't trust myself to not lash out hurtfully at people I don't really want to hurt.

Anger is just boiling under the surface and refusing to take it out on myself has me now wishing to express it externally. I got ready to go for a run thinking I could wear myself out. Usually exercise is a great outlet for me. Today, however, I feel utterly exhausted despite the emotional energy under the surface. My body didn't want to cooperate, and the run didn't happen. Part of my low energy yesterday and today may be due to adjusting my diet. My doctor suggested I cut out dairy b/c of some digestive issues to see if that helps. Dairy has always been a huge source of protein, calcium, and energy for me, so this is a challenge. It's only day 2, so I'm not good at finding alternates yet. It's a work in progress that will improve, but I'm probably failing at getting all of the nutrients I need right now.

I've tried busying myself with housework, and I've watched a movie. These things are keeping me busy but nothing has help. I spent some time in prayer and tried to work on a Bible study. The Bible study doesn't seem to be happening either. Satan leave me alone!!!

Gripe, gripe, gripe... Whine, whine, whine... Pity party. I'm so over myself. Can I get a break from me?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Balancing Life and Therapy: Part II

This is the second part of the last post. I broke it into two parts b/c I was afraid it was getting too long.


In the winter of 2008, I hit rock bottom. Everything I had tried to rescue my life and my future seemed to fail. I'd spent 10 years in therapy, 3 years totally devoted to therapy, and I was still in and out of hospitals and no more closer having the life I wanted than when I started.

I have to give credit to the changes that took place in the winter/spring of 2008 to God. Sure, I worked my tail off, but the changes for me happened when I quit trying how to figure out how to make things better myself and I turned the 'how' over to Him. In the past 3 years, I've manged to make some good progress in therapy and do things I never thought possible in my life. I got a full-time job and did great there. I met an amazing man, fell in love, got married, and am actually in a healthy relationship. I went back to school and got a 2nd graduate degree and enjoyed going to school.

I've needed to deal with some more serious therapeutic work the past few months as new events in life have awakened new triggers, memories, feelings, etc. I so wanted to be done with the space in my life where my past makes my present difficult. I wanted to get back into the train of thought that you can knock out this type of therapy and then just go on with your life like nothing ever happened for the rest of your life. What I am learning is that I now believe this type of therapy may be a life long work. Different phases in life will present with new blessing and new challenges and new triggers. If I fully wait to live my life until I get everything fixed, I'll be dead from old age before I can start living. On the flip side, I've learned the hard way how things just continue and continue to deteriorate if I try to just live life and not take my past and perceptions into account in my present day life.

The past couple of weeks I've been thinking back over the last almost 13 years of therapy and life.... I believe I've learned that there are times in my life when I will need to slow down, cut back, be more internally focused. However, this does not mean for years on end. At other times, my past won't be as pervasive in my present. In these life periods, it's great for me to do the things I want to do and desire to do with my life. I can do both life and therapy as long as I'm smart about it and recognize the signs.

The reason getting married and going back to school went so well and are not considered distractions from dealing with my past are b/c I wasn't running from anything at that time. It was a great time in life for these experiences. I'm even more fully aware of this because of the challenges and struggles I'm facing right now. Going to school right now or starting a family with my husband right now would be distractions to not have to work through the painful issues that have recently presented in therapy. It doesn't mean I will never have a family or get my PhD. It means not now, and I'm learning that listening to my body and to God on when to focus on what means a healthier life for me all the way around.

At times I feel I can't catch up in life for getting behind. My younger (and only) sister is pregnant. I'm thrilled for her, but I sometimes get hit with waves of jealousy. I'm 3 1/2 years older than her. I was supposed to get married first, have the first grandchild, etc. All of my friends are having their 2nd kids, are established in their careers... doing all of the 'normal' life stuff.

In these moments, I have to take a step back. I have to remember that the only timetable I have to be on is my own.. not society's. I'm getting better and better about learning to actually live my life and not survive it. It may not look how I thought my life would look at 30, but it is way better than I really dreamt it would be. My life is good. There are so major internal struggles right now. Lately, the days have felt almost impossible. Yet, I know this is a season and in the right time, my husband and I will enjoy a family, and I can have the job I've always wanted, and fulfill any other dreams I have in my life. For now, I need to focus on the current therapeutic issues enough to get back to a place where my current, external life holds more meaning again.

I know these last two posts have been long, but I guess I've just been thinking that if I've needed to hear this message so much lately, maybe others out there have too. So my big take away from all that I've written is: It is possible to have the life you want and to do the therapeutic work you may need throughout your life. They don't have to be mutually exclusive. You'll just have to learn the balance that works for you.

Balancing Life and Therapy: Background

When I first started therapy, I thought it was something I would do, work through, and then move on with my life. I started therapy over Christmas break my senior year of high school. I thought I would go to therapy for the 8 months before I moved away to college and then I'd move on with my life. Little did I know I would only scratch the surface during that time...

For lots of issues, 8 months is plenty of time. For child abuse and PTSD issues, I'm not sure there is a finite period of time. I did leave for college on time, and for undergraduate school, I managed both school/life and therapy pretty well. Sometimes school took precedence and sometimes therapy. Luckily school work came easy for me, so I could still pull good grades even during times when I didn't have the energy or mental capacity to do school as usual. I thought for sure that I'd be finished with therapy before or by the time I graduated college - that was 4 whole years after all!

Unfortunately, while I was definitely making progress in therapy, things were beginning to unravel in the same way that cleaning out a closet makes a huge mess before it's all put back together nicely and neatly. I chose to stay at my university and start a graduate degree b/c I would be able to continue to see the same therapist I'd been working with for the past 18 months, and I didn't know what else to do with myself. A dear friend, suggested that I was using school as a distraction from dealing with real stuff, and I should take a break from school and focus on healing. I'm not sure I agree with her in regards to my first semester of grad school, but she was completely right for the rest of my master's degree program. At the beginning of my 2nd semester of grad school, the therapist I'd been working with for 2 years terminated with me b/c she didn't believe she could help me enough. She referred me to a therapist who was an hour away who claimed to be an 'expert' in child abuse and DID. The new lady was a quack! And my world spun out of control. I buried myself into my school work. It was a total distraction, but in some ways it was my saving grace b/c it's all I had to focus on outside of the abuse and flashbacks.

After my second psych hospital stay in a 4 month period, it probably would have been smart for me to take a break from school and get stable again. However, I was stubborn, and I pushed on. I was young, and stubborn, and so angry! I was mad that my life was in some ways being controlled by abuse from so long ago and everything felt like it was falling apart. My way of retaliating was to tell myself that my past wasn't going to run my life and I pushed forward as if nothing was wrong and I wasn't affected at all. I did manage to graduate on time and with a 4.0, but the week after graduation, I was admitted to a psych unit where I stayed for 2 months.

Upon coming home, I got a full-time, high stress job in my field. Again, I wanted to prove that I could live a 'normal' life and not be controlled by my past. 3 months later I was inpatient again for another 6 weeks. After this stay, I went the opposite direction, totally putting my life, dreams, and everything but therapy on hold. I did manage to stay outpatient for a year, but I think that's more b/c I was out of hospital days than b/c I was doing well. I was miserable during this time period too. All of my hopes and dreams for my life and future were all but crushed, and I had pretty much been convinced by treatment teams and doctors that I should just apply for disability - that my life would never be better or anything near 'normal'. I spent 2 years in this space... giving up on life and mostly being ruled by my past and internal world.

By the beginning of 2008 (10 years after starting therapy), I'd survived (it wasn't really living) both extremes. I did life and tried to mostly ignore therapy and my past. I did therapy and embraced my past while not participating much in my current life and external world. I've heard theories on why either of these approaches may be good or better than the other, but in my experience, neither are a place to be long term. Sure, at times in our life, the past is going to be stronger, more influential, and require more time, and current life will sometimes require more attention and energy that therapeutic healing. I think this healing and growing and adjusting perspectives may be a lifelong journey; So, I want to balance this therapetuic work with living a real life in the present right now.

My new goal has been learning this balance. And that leads me to part II of this post.