28 Aug

What It Does, What We Can Do

It’s that strange feeling in your brain.  It makes your brain feel a little numb, almost like you are wearing a strange hat, or a hat that is too tight.  It can cause you to feel confused.  It can cause you to want to close your eyes, in the hopes it will go away.

Sometimes it feels like it could be in your chest.  It makes you wonder if there is something wrong with your heart.  You check your pulse.  It makes you wonder if there is something wrong with your lungs.  You take deep soothing breaths, in….out….in….out.   You may even go to the doctor or emergency room because you just can’t breath.

There are days it keeps you from being spontaneous.  There are days it keeps you from planning.  It will ease up to allow you to do some things, while lowering it’s veil to prevent you from doing others.  The veil it lowers can cause you to sit in a chair, or lie in bed for an entire day.  There is nothing else you’d rather do.

It has a way of misguiding your thoughts.   You have doubts about positive interactions.  You have issues trusting those that you should trust the most. You find it easier to believe the negative things that you tell yourself.  Who knows you better than you?  You must be right.

You wonder at times what it would be like if it didn’t have a place inside you.  You wonder if it will ever just leave.  You wonder if you will even recognize yourself when it is gone.  What are you without it?

You can change this.  You don’t have to let it win.  Fight it when it is in your brain, when you have that fuzzy feeling.  Stop, tell yourself it is just a feeling.  Sit in an office chair or any chair that spins.  Spin around until you know you will be a little dizzy.  Stop.  How does your head feel?  It’s the same feeling, only this time you put it there.  You know how to stop it.   IT didn’t put it there, you did.  So when IT does it, remember YOU can make it stop.

When you have pain in your body, you need to breath.  You need to focus on that pain and just breath.  You will find the pain will subside or even move.  Proving once again, you are in control of how you feel.

Do you try to plan things for yourself?  Do you end of cancelling or postponing these plans?  Try to do less planning, just do it when it feels right for you.  If spontaneity is an issue for you, do the opposite, plan.  Either way, find a way to stop it from taking over your life.  Have safe places, and safe people.  These are the places that you can get to with no issues.  These are the people that know you and you know them.

When your thinking is challenged, make every effort to combat it with positive reinforcement.  Gratitude lists allow you to find the positive in your day.  Use dry erase markers and leave yourself messages on your mirror for the morning. Find as many positive quotes as you can.  The internet is full of them.  Print them and make a collage.  Learn calligraphy and make yourself little posters with these sayings.  Post them where they will have the most beneficial impact on you. Whatever method you choose, put the positive words in front of you.

These are not simple changes, I know this.  These are the some of the things I struggle with and some of the ways I try to manage.  Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.  The point is to try.  And keep trying.  Things that didn’t work a month ago may work now.  Have your tool bag of things that help you manage!  Recognize in yourself when the tool bag needs to come out.  Even if only for a day.

Take charge of your illness and your methods of coping and recovery.  Don’t let medication and therapy be the only tools.  Know what YOU need to do, to help YOU!

 

18 Aug

There Is Life After Pain

I’ve never fooled myself into thinking there was nothing wrong with me. Wow, I can’t believe I wrote that. I almost started backspacing over it because of how ridiculously false it is. So why didn’t I erase it? Because I’m not alone in my attempts to fool myself and others into believing I am okay. l have always known deep down when I wasn’t in a good space. I knew the signs. I fought like crazy to believe there was nothing wrong, though. It’s amazing how convincing the stories we tell ourselves can be; full of incredible lies that become truths once repeated enough times. After struggling for a significant amount of time and having many aspects of my life negatively affected, I seek help.

I’ve made many attempts at getting help with my mental illness. I’ve tried various types of therapy from individual to group therapy, with various psychologists and social workers.  I would go to my appointments and talk with my therapist. I don’t think I ever “finished” being in therapy, though. Therapy was something I knew I needed and I believed it would help. I wanted it to help, shouldn’t that be enough? What I didn’t realize was that I needed to do the work. I needed to open up to a complete stranger about my deepest, and darkest thoughts and feelings. Did I really think this was supposed to be an easy task? Was I convinced that I was doing everything I could to get better? Well, I was fooling myself as I would never open up completely. Opening up meant feeling pain. Pain that I believed would swallow me whole. I never fought through the pain of therapy. Instead, I would run and find reasons to quit.

I didn’t consider what quitting meant to me and the state of my illness. Did I really think I got a little bit better because I got a little bit of help? Did I think it would go away without help?  Did I not see how much work I was doing just to keep myself together? I don’t like to make comments like, how different my life could have been. Instead, I’m going to say to you…..fight for it. Find a way to tell yourself that NOW is when you want to be better. NOW is when you want to do the hard work. Find the strength to get the therapy that is right for you. Find the strength to go to every appointment and then schedule another. Find the strength to open up and dig deep. Find the strength to tell the truth. Tell your story. It will be painful. There is no doubt about that. Imagine the other side though. There is another side. There is a life after the pain.

Image a bridge. I imagine the one pictured below. You imagine your own bridge.  What does it look like?

bridge

I imagine I am on one side of the bridge. On the other side, I imagine life after pain. Pain is what exists on this bridge. I won’t get to the other side without going through the pain. There isn’t a way to leave any pain on the bridge. I need to fight and defeat all of the pain. This fight needs no weapons and no armor. This fight needs desire, strength, and commitment. This fight needs faith that the bridge will stay standing and the other side will always be there. This fight belongs to each of us! We have a battalion. They don’t go with us. They stand behind us. They are there when we take a step back feeling defeated.  They remind us that we are strong and can win this battle. They help us get back on that bridge and stick with the fight. They assure us that while they are behind us now, they will also be on the other side when we get there.

I have new doctors. We have the beginnings of a plan for me to get well. I know it won’t be easy.  I’m ready, though. I have my battalion behind me. I’ve taken that first step and put a foot on the bridge. I have another session next week. That’ll put me closer to the middle of the bridge. It is very scary, but I’m so excited for what awaits me on the other side of the bridge.