This blog is part of my recovery, and I would like it to remain a safe place for me to share parts of myself and my life that people close to me may or may not know. As a result, while I'm not going crazy with privacy settings, I do ask that if you find this on your own and suspect you may know me, please respect my privacy by checking with us before reading any further. This obviously doesn't apply if one of us has given you the link!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Another Sanguine Saturday On The Way Past

I love Lexapro, but I hate being tired all the time. I still hope it'll pass.

In other news, only another couple of days and I'll be in Canberra! Bring on the giraffes, bring on the snow and bring on my interstate friends!

Success Stories:
I made four whole weeks self harm free. (Actually in just under 36 hours, it'll actually be five weeks. But who's counting? Oh, that's right... me!)

It's been the same length of time since I got myself drunk in my bedroom (problem drinking).

I've been making healthier choices with my eating, with my sleeping and with my activities.

I'm getting better about people touching me. Both at asking for people not to do it when I particularly don't want them to, and about letting people do it when it's not so big of an issue.

I made a phone call (to the lawyers) that I'd been avoiding.

Gratitudes List/Things that make me happy:
My trip to Canberra.
Calling Kelly to tell her what I'd achieved.
Having a friend tell me she was impressed with how well I've held myself together lately, that I could have fallen apart but instead I had "stayed strong and behaved like an adult", and that she's proud to know me.
Good friends: local, interstate and global!
Simple pleasures like hanging out my washing.
Snow snow snow snow snow! Snow!

Cheer-leading statements:
I don't have to be perfect.
It's okay to feel whatever I feel. All of it!
Whatever happens, I'll deal with it as it comes. Worrying about it won't make it any less likely to occur.
The butterfly does not make the caterpillar a lie.
I can choose to make healthy choices, and it's perfectly okay to choose the healthy option.

Take care of yourselves until next time, and may we all find our own small fences along the way.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Choosing To Recognise Achievements

By chance, I ran into an old primary school friend this morning. We lost contact when I moved to my father's place and although we're facebook friends, we haven't actually talked in about 15 years. She hasn't changed much at all since I knew her, she is still the same down to earth person she was back then. She is extremely easy to talk to, and I found myself admitting to not having worked for a year and a half as well as to my various diagnosis' and so forth.

One of the most interesting things I found about our interaction was that she told me that I was far too hard on myself.

I am fascinated because I felt that I was actually, though honest, quite kind in the way I spoke of myself today. It really highlighted to me how far I have come, as well as how far I still have to go. For a start, it wasn't until I was reflecting on the interaction that I realised that, had I been speaking of someone else, I would never have said the sort of things I said about myself.

First example off the bat, she asked if I was going to go to my reunion this year and I told her that I wasn't sure yet. "What are your reasons for the hesitation?"
"I haven't achieved anything."

That is why I hesitate to commit fully, because that is what I believe about myself. I'm not sure I want to show up with nothing but a string of failures to show of my life since high school... but that's complete bullocks, really, isn't it? I have achieved something. I'm still alive!

Maybe I don't have a car, or a good job (or even a job, to be fair), or the husband-children-white picket fence... but I'm still alive. I have survived what I'm beginning to recognise as a fairly extensive amount of childhood abuse of all types. I have survived mental illness, discrimination, miscarriage, spousal abuse, divorce, the deaths of several people dear to me. I have survived an alcohol dependency. I have survived.

And I haven't just survived. I have achieved other things that may not be current, but are no less real for that. I have worked for five years at a job that I loved. I have studied and received a Certificate III at the end of my efforts. I have been to Sydney, Melbourne, Rockhampton, Bundaberg, Vanuatu and Fiji (and by the time of the reunion, Canberra will also be on that list). I have won competitions for my writing, I have won money in a photography competition. I have had my photographs on display at the Royal Brisbane Exhibition.

Why is that not enough for myself? My friend was right when she said, "I'm sure you have achieved things", but I couldn't see it.

It's time to start recognising that simply surviving is an achievement, and it's time to start congratulating myself for that. I didn't have to survive - I chose to. And I'm going to keep choosing to survive, and I'm going to rebuild my life until I get to a place that is healthy. A place where I am healthy and where I can find happiness, peace and contentment.

Cheerleading and Challenge Statements:
How wonderful will it be to ring Kelly and say, "it's been two months since I self harmed"? Hold onto that.
Whatever I feel is okay. I don't need to judge myself for my emotions.
Maybe I'm not just not a bad person - maybe I really am an okay person!
I can't change the past but I can change the present, and I can work towards a better future.
Ruminating and worrying won't change the way things are. All I can do is accept events/feelings/thoughts and deal with them as best I can when life happens.

Take care of yourselves until next time, and may we all find our own small fences along the way.

Monday, June 21, 2010

An Achievement

It's Monday. I'm just posting a real short one tonight, with very little substance except to say...


One month self harm free. One entire month.

And maybe that seems small to others, but for me, that's an enormous achievement. That's the longest I've gone without self harm since I broke my knee (and even that was 'forced' because my mother was showering me for that time out of concern I'd accidentally cause more damage to my knee in the shower), and before that, the longest I've gone since I was married.

Today is also the first time in a long time that I've not had a single wound dressing of some kind.

Until next time, take care of yourselves, and may we all find our own small fences along the way.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

It's Sanguine Saturday yet again!

It's been a long couple of weeks. On the 8th of June last year, I lost my dear friend, Dani, to suicide. As the anniversary approached and past, she was quite prominent in my thoughts and memories, then on Wednesday of last week (the day after Dani's anniversary), I received a phone call from a close friend letting me know that her mother had died. She went home to Rockhampton and I offered what support I could, including making the trip myself to support my friend through the funeral. (I'm still not sure how much help I was but if I made even a second of the time I was there 'easier', and I hope I did, then it was worth it.) During this past week, I also found out that my best friend was in critical condition in hospital. She's doing a lot better since the first day, now, but for a while there, I was very afraid for her.

What with everything that's been going on, it's probably no surprise that I am absolutely shattered right now.

Success Stories:
Despite everything, I'm two days away from reaching an entire month with no self harm (not counting skin picking and hair pulling, both of which have at least been at a minimum).

Resisting the urge to get drunk alone in my bedroom.

Trying to look after my physical health - even if sometimes I wasn't perfect at it, I did at least fairly consistently give it a good try all week.

Gratitudes List/Things that make me happy:
My upcoming holiday.
My nieces and nephew.
Having my nephew say to me, "When you go, I'll miss you. When you come back, I won't miss you." Aww little man, you are too cute.
My best friend is awake and coherent.
Working medication.
I'm blessed to have some amazing and wonderful people in my life.

Cheer-leading statements:
I do not have to take on what others say or believe about me, especially if it does not ring true with my 'evidence'.
I am not a bad person.
I can cope with anything.
Ruminating on what might go wrong won't stop it from happening. Ruminating is rarely helpful.
If these stories aren't helpful, it doesn't matter whether they're true or false.
Change does not make the caterpillar a lie.

(Okay, with the exception of that first one, I stole all of these from last week. That's okay. They're still challenges.)

Take care of yourselves until next time, and may we all find our own small fences along the way.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sanguine Saturday On Sunday Again

Oops! I got distracted and forgot that yesterday was Saturday. I wonder if I'll ever have a normal sense of time. I suspect not, but I think I'm mainly okay with that.

I haven't made any major breakthroughs this week, I don't think, but I don't feel stuck, either. My new medication is working and I can't believe how huge a difference it is making already.

Success Stories:
Managed to eat at Sizzler in front of my brother's girlfriend again! Ate very little, but that's okay. I ate enough that I wasn't actually hungry, anyway.

I wore a dress! I don't often wear skirts or dresses because I find that I feel especially vulnerable in one... which is a real shame, because I'm girly enough to actually rather like them quite a bit.

Went to Canefields Club House with Erica! This is pretty huge, even though the instant I walked in the door I froze up and Erica had to take control of the conversation.

Tuesday I took along a few things for my session with Carol, and made my wishes clear about exploring my memories.

Midweek I had a burns review at the RBH and I used my DEAR MAN skills to prolong my next appointment until a half week after they originally said they wanted me back. I also asked about whether I'd be seeing an OT and ended up seeing one immediately after and getting a silicone sleeve to wear over the graft on my arm.

At my craft & discussion group, I was able to help others learn how to make dream catchers!

I went into Harvey World Travel to ask about fees, and when I found out how much their fees were, I walked out and tried somewhere else, all the while challenging the guilt over "wasting" their time. When I found one that had no fees (Flight Centre!), I booked my flight - paying with money I'd borrowed from my mother. I also asked my older brother if he would drop me off and pick me up at the airport, as the flight I wanted leaves before the trains start.

It's been just under 3 weeks since the last time I drank or indulged the urge to self harm. In another week I'm going to call the DBT coordinator and tell her all the good things that are going on for me these days.

Gratitudes List/Things that make me happy:
My upcoming holiday.
Mum bought me back some fruit to make fruit salad.
Getting my music collection sorted and organised a bit better.
Doing my washing. (I've missed this sort of general housework.)
Star Trek.
Good books.
My nieces and nephew.
Working medication!

Cheer-leading statements:
I am not a bad person.
I can cope with anything.
Ruminating on what might go wrong won't stop it from happening. Ruminating is rarely helpful.
If these stories aren't helpful, it doesn't matter whether they're true or false.
Change does not make the caterpillar a lie.

Take care of yourselves until next time, and may we all find our own small fences along the way.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Power Of Words

Everything about me seems to contradict itself at the moment. I'm restless, agitated... but I feel so exhausted, so heavy and slow. I feel like I'm two people all the time. It's not awful, I'm not suffering terribly or anything like that, but it is very uncomfortable. It may be a side effect of starting the Lexapro or it may be unrelated.. at this stage, the cause doesn't matter (because it's not appropriate to try and fix it just yet). I'm learning to TOLERATE my discomfit, and that's important.

A few days ago, at my appointment with Carol, I handed over a couple of poems and blog posts I had printed for her. One of the posts was the one I wrote about perhaps exploring my memories and the other was the post I wrote as I recognised that my child-self was an actual child. While she read the older one, Carol reached for the tissues. "Oh, [dawni]," she said. Just that, twice. "Oh, [dawni]". She wiped at her eyes and finished reading before we discussed what was written. I, naturally, couldn't remember much of what was written, because I tend to dissociate myself somewhat from my own expressions. (Actually, I suspect I might sound somewhat snobbish or pretentious when I write, and so I am very anxious about the idea of someone reading it and thinking of me in that way.) In the end, Carol read the entry aloud. I forgot the words I had used. I hadn't realised the power my own words held.

I don't know if my words hold as much power for others, but that session strengthened my resolve to write my story. I started some time ago, small snippets, but I allowed the project to fall by the wayside. "Why", I kept asking myself, "would anyone be interested?" It wasn't until this week that I realised, really realised, that it doesn't matter if nobody else is interested. I want to write my story for myself. It will be hard, and it will take me a long time, but there is so much I can gain from 'speaking' my story.

Cheerleading and Challenge Statements:
Everything I feel right now is okay, but what I choose to do about those feelings is up to me.
I am not a bad person.
If I can put my stuff aside in order to help someone I care about, then I can put my stuff aside in order to help myself in the long term, too.
It's okay to feel unsettled. I can tolerate that, and eventually it will ease.
I have the knowledge, the ability, the skills, to cope with anything that comes my way.

I'll see you tomorrow for Sanguine Saturday. Until then, take care of yourselves, and may we all find our own small fences along the way.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Sanguine Saturday

I've been looking forward to this all week. Finally again I have good stuff for my success stories! Also I've had some good stuff going on the past few days. This has especially been a week of DEAR MAN practice, which is excellent since I'm still very 'weak' with my DM skills.

Success Stories:
I was pretty sore when I arrived at Karakan this week and I knew if I sit down, getting up again would be extra painful, so when the woman greeted me with "take a seat", I asked if it would be okay if I stood until my support worker came! DEAR MAN win number one! During my time with her we went through a support plan and I was able to be a bit assertive on what I want (still not very much, but... baby steps). DEAR MAN win number two. A friend got some bad news, so in order to help her stay safe, I used DEAR MAN to ask my mother if it would be okay for my friend to stay over. (DEAR MAN win number three!)

Tuesday morning I had an appointment with my GP (the 'new' guy) and I wanted to try a different medication. The Mirtazapine has been a waste of time for months now, but I was afraid to ask to change, especially after how things ended over at Mental Health (on the very day that I was hoping to ask for a medicine change). I wrote down a couple of names that I've never been on and gave the list to the GP and he was very amenable to a medication change. We're trying Lexapro now. (DEAR MAN win number four!)

Wednesday I was due back at the RBH for my burns review and I was brave enough to chase up both the dressings/creams/etc I had originally forgotten to get off them (win number five!) and the referral for MH that the nurse worked so hard to get while I was in the Urology ward (win six!).

Thursday I wanted to hide in my room and not go to group because I was so ashamed of having had a breakdown last time I'd been. I recognised this as avoidance, though, and I applied the skill of opposite action by going to group regardless.

On Friday, at my art workshop, I ended up... agreeing to volunteer at my local Art Gallery! I used DEAR MAN to get information about it (DM win seven!) and impulsively agreed to do a day in a few weeks time when they have a spot they needed filling. (I'll probably write more about this another day.) Also yesterday I asked my mother for a loan for this trip I'm wanting to take, which she agreed to. (DM win eight!)

Today I faced fear and avoidance by meeting my baby brother's girlfriend for the first time. At the last minute I found out that my brother's mate was also going (I've met him but not often) so I was quite anxious! Still, I went. I ATE in front of them! Also I asked my brother if he would book flights for my trip for me, as I don't have the credit card required. That was a bit of a DM fail, but that's okay. I tried! I didn't fight very hard, but that's okay. I've gone from a 1 (don't ask, maybe hint veryvery tentatively) to a 2 or a 3 (hint or ask but take no for an answer), and that's still a huge improvement. Next step is to try my older brother.

Gratitudes List/Things that make me happy:
Getting an enormous stuffed dolphin... for free! (I would've let them know they hadn't charged me, but because we all did a mixed order, we didn't discover they didn't charge us for it until we got home.)

Patting and feeding all the different types of ray at Sea World!

My art workshop, even if Cameron wasn't there again.

Speaking to my nieces on the 'phone.

Catching my best friend online.

All my friends, in general, actually.

Giraffes and butterflies.

Planning a holiday. To see SNOW.

The pineapple and carrot cake I baked actually tastes pretty darn good.

Cheer-leading statements:
Even if I don't necessarily like the way things are, I can be okay with the fact that they are what they are.
I can choose to make healthy decisions.
It's okay to want things. It's okay to ask for things.
And if the worst happens? So what? I can cope with that, too!
Ruminating and worrying about what "might" happen aren't helpful.

Take care of yourselves until next time, and may we all find our own small fences along the way.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

(Re)Gaining Control Of Memories

I'm starting to wonder if the direction therapy with Carol was going is right for me, after all. Carol and I haven't talked through any of my memories. I make a vague reference knowing that she's read my file, knowing she has a basic template of knowledge around my past, and that is it. Vague references, dancing around the edges of the specifics. I thought I was okay with that, that it was the right direction for me at this point but now I'm not so sure.

Two years ago, I was flooded with difficult memories. Talking with Angela, with Melissa, with a few trusted friends online, helped. DBT helped. My memories began to have less impact when they hit, and they started to hit a little less often than before. Once I had spent some time exploring the memories, I found a decrease in the push for them to manifest in my mind.

I understand the need to stabilise the boat before rocking it, but my anchors seem only to create more stress, more strain. The waves continue to wash over the deck and the boat seems ready to capsize.

Lately there has been a distinct increase in memory manifestations. I've been having intense flashbacks and body memories and I've been dissociating a lot. The last group session I attended, I became so mired in a flashback that Melissa had to physically help me stand and leave the room, as well as to help me return to a more functional state.

Maybe it's unrelated. Maybe I should be working harder at my DBT skills to manage these difficulties. I don't know, but I think when I see Carol next week, it might be time to go back to exploring and banishing these demons.

Cheer-leading Statements:
Avoidance is not the answer.
I am not a bad person.

Take care of yourselves until next time, and may we all find our own small fences along the way.