Searching for the Meaning (Is It Worth the Pain?)

I have obsessed for years over those I have loved and lost.  I have gotten angry over the fact that I have been passed off.  Moved along from. Some not as painful as others, but still.  Was I not good enough?  Am I not good enough?  In all the pain in my life up to this point, could I have been someone that was not capable of being good for them?  Or was our commonality fractured and that was enough to move along?

There are times where I review certain events that happened in my life.  Significant ones.  And holy shit, does it hurt.  Even thinking about one right now sends me sobbing.  The moment where my mom is on life support at Marquette General Hospital.  I’m in the room by myself with my mom and just as I was about to talk to her alone, for the first time, my uncle Lenny walks in the room.  I have always been socially awkward and my mom always had visitors.  So, I felt irritable that my uncle picked that moment to come in and stay in.  Not that he knew he was irritating me, it just was bad timing.  I had so much to say to her.  So much pain in my heart.  I wanted to beg her to get better, to come back to me.  Tell her how much I needed her.  Give her a hug, a kiss.  And at this moment, I can remember how her skin felt on my lips.  It’s crazy about what one thought can give.  Phew!  Okay, moving on…. Get to the point, Janet!

I have looked at my life to this point and evaluated why it seems like I lack friends.  If I am really honest with myself, I have friends. I have a number of friends.  And if I am REALLY honest with myself, and you, I am terrified of my friends.  And I feel unworthy, as I mentioned in past posts.  So, I’ll log onto facebook and I won’t talk to anyone anymore.  I go on World of Warcraft and talk to people, but I avoid talking about anything in my life – because the second the game goes from virtual reality where you can pick the hero you desire to being to actual reality infused with virtual reality  …. it goes to hell.  The virtual world starts to take on painful characteristics.  I still miss someone that I used to talk to whose name on WoW was Themerc.  Despite how WoW did get reality struck in it, he was a good listener at that time.  And he helped me.  (Or at least I assume I was speaking with a male… It’s hard to know via type)

My earliest friend was this girl Denise.  We have been friends for ages.  We had a split for a number of years and we still communicate, but not as much as we used to.  Missy came along to fill in the gap where Denise was not available, and a number of other people from the church and what not.  Life circumstances happened, my depression diagnoses happened, things changed.  I opened doors, shut them, doors got shut on me.  Do I have a right to be angry because the door was shut on me?  I wanted to keep these friends.  If I were to talk to them today, I’d feel awkward because I would feel like either they left me because I wasn’t good enough or that I still wasn’t good enough.  Why do I always have this sense that I have to be an elevated “someone” for a friend.  That I have to have an accelerated education to matter?  Or that friendship is correlated only by commonalities.  i.e. You’ll only ever be friends with people who graduated high school.  If you didn’t, you’re out!

I suppose my feelings for needing to be good enough is because a lot of what I gave a shit about, I lost.  I had a ton of family on my mom’s side that we spent a lot of time together with.  When my mom went into the hospital, the closeness left.  I don’t blame my dad, I can only imagine the pain he was going through during all of it – but still.  I lost my cousins.  I lost the time that I could have spent continuing that bonding time.  I went to church and met people.  I always felt inadequate, but I had friends.  When I left church, a majority of those people near and far that went to church with me at the time disappeared.  The tremendous losses of those people left such a hole in my heart.

So, to current, I could probably relate to you all the people that I lost – but let’s be honest here.  Who hasn’t lost someone?Whether it be a death, or just growing apart.  It doesn’t make me special by any stretch of the imagination.  The only thing that makes me different is the means by which things happened to some degree.  But what we all can agree with is that it’s painful no matter how much you can relate to my losses.

So here I am, 38 years old, still feeling as though these people I lost left me.  I’m learning to embrace a relationship with my brother Tim, which is odd.  I can relate to him better than I can any other family members.  I think if I remember correctly asking my brother Tim how he was doing.  I think it was the first time that I had really done that.  I am always blathering on about my life and what’s messed up in it.  I felt that it was important for me to try to be different this time.  It makes things more personable.   It’s not that I don’t care about what goes on with other people and their lives.  I do generally ask how people are doing, don’t get me wrong.  It’s just with my brother, when we talk, he listens so well to me and I know what to expect.  So when I take the initiative to ask how he is and not focus on me… it’s different.

My friend Stacey, who I love more than chocolate, or many other things that I cannot imagine my life without.  She has been experiencing so much joy in her life as of late.  And I am so proud of her and so beyond thrilled for her.  Going through my trauma therapy, dealing with mental illness on a few fronts here at home, trying to find balance, dealing with financial crisis, yada yada, I don’t have the ability to tell Stacey – Hey!  I am so happy for you!  Here I am though, feeling so absolutely angry to some degree that that can’t be me.  And it’s not to say that Stacey doesn’t deserve it.  She absolutely does.  She has worked very hard in her life.  I mean, she’s got a few degrees, working on her masters, two kids – one who has been 5 years leukemia free, learning to embrace a healthy lifestyle, etc… etc… I mean, she’s rockin!  That doesn’t mean that her life has always been perfect.  Yet my brain, during all of this has been so self centered.  And I want to say to her how much her progress means to me without saying, “Stacey, I’m so sick of seeing your happiness.  Because when it comes right down to it, I want to share in that joy.  Not necessarily with you.  But to have my own happiness.”  But that’s not right either.   It’s just how it felt.

It’s hard not to compare/contrast.  Feeling inept in life makes things difficult. Major depression makes things difficult.  And so when all adds up, I look at my experiences and I think – wow.  Was I the reason that people didn’t stay in contact?  Could I have tried harder?  I don’t think that I should have to initiate, continue to initiate, and wait for a restraining order to come in the mail because I won’t stop.  Friendship has a certain give and take.  So with that, those people that I lost and haven’t come back… they’re gone.  I’ll never have a good reason for it.  It just is.

With my current state of mind, if someone comes back that hasn’t been there, I feel stunted.  Emotionally stunted in such a way that I feel like I’m in 5th grade talking to a teacher.  I have to be careful of my words, I have to be reserved, yet respectful, and I have to listen.  I’m not an equal participant, and I am not evaluated as equal.  I am just here.  I want to feel equal, but I never do.

I have also learned that my anger could have taken away a friend or two.  I can’t change the past, but I had a family member who reached out to me.  She offered me her phone number on facebook and told me to call her.  Because of a lingering past hurt, I didn’t call.  I wish I had.  She was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and died 4 days later.  I’m sorry Julie, I wish I had called.  If I hadn’t been so angry over something you didn’t do and had no control over the outcome, I would have called.  And maybe I wouldn’t feel so guilty.

In the meantime, I love my friends that I do have.  I know that I need to appreciate those who are still here.  And I should not focus on why those that left did leave.  It just adds to the pain, doesn’t it?  Here I am though, trying to find a way to not feel so insecure and hurt.  To not embrace so much of the “I’m not good enough” element.  I hope some day I can.  Because even with my husband and I coming up on another anniversary (13 years this year), I still feel like a) I’m not good enough, or b) that his life would have been better without me being a part of it.  It’s so damn hard to live this way!

Any recommendations?

Again, thank you for reading!  And thank you in advance for any comments.

I’m Not Worthy

I remember watching “Wayne’s World” – where Dana Carvey and Mike Myers bow to Alice Cooper saying “We’re not worthy”, over and over again.  A very real respect yet, putting him on a pedestal.  I guess that will be the starting point to my blog today.  Because it’s a funny remembrance.

However, my topic isn’t funny.  It’s about my depression and anxiety that I’ve been feeling as of late.

Ashleigh is in – goodness only knows where.  She’s homeless and I have $75 in checks waiting for her to come get them.  But she has no means to get here and I have no address to send them to. She’s looking for me to rescue her out of this bad situation, which I can’t.  Even though I feel depressed about her situation, her being my daughter, and loving her so completely – what is she going to learn about this if I pull her ass out of the fire, again?  She needs to figure out how to manage where she is and how she got there.  And how to find answers instead of creating more problems by drama and bullshit.  And that has taken a very large toll on me.

Granted, it’s not all Ashleigh related that causes my depression and anxiety.  It just is.  My world is very difficult right now.  I want to make things right, but I don’t know how.  I’m still anxious about so much in this world.  I can’t seem to interact with anyone right now in a healthy way.  I’m terrified of my relationship with my husband.  Not because he’s hurting me, or that he poses a threat.  But because I just feel so completely unable to connect on a level where I know he loves me, despite it all.

I am unworthy.  Not Wayne and Garth.  Me.  And my unworthy is not the same type.  I don’t feel like anyone I talk to could benefit from talking to me.  I don’t feel like anyone could help me.  And I certainly don’t want to have someone tell me something that would hurt me more than help me.  Whether they intend to or not, sometimes that happens.

I have been crying more lately than I can recall.  I feel so disappointed in myself and my returning to bad consumption habits.  My lack of caring for myself returning full speed again.  The lack of motivation to walk, to use the treadmill.  Just the succumbing to my own hurt, sadness, depression, and fear of judgment.  My fears are so much more real in my head than they will ever truly be.  I know it’s just me, but how do you convince the lot of you that it’s not really real.  Sure, your logical side can say that it’s not real.  But your heart and your mind feel it in ways that really can’t be logically explained.  I feel hurt that I can’t connect.  I also feel like, why can’t people connect with me?  I hear Eric’s phone go off multiple times a day at any time, but mine just stays dull.  Nothing happening other than reminders to play a game or something.  Or a confirmation call for an appointment.  Beyond that, I am unimportant.  I am just, here.  Existing in this shell of a body.  And it hurts.  Everything hurts, scares me.  I’m on fight or flight probably most of the time.  It’s hard to explain why, but I am.  And I’m tired of fighting all the time!

I’m sure I’m not the only one in this.  I can’t be.  But I do know that hurting is not the way to live.  I have anti depressants and anti anxiety meds.  But they don’t seem to do as much as I need.  And I know I need to see a psychiatrist but I refuse on general principal to see one through Brown County Treatment Center.  They see you as a folder, not as a person.  And I know it’s because they’re overburdened with clients, but it doesn’t help me feeling validated as a person.  That my symptoms are not just trumped up or whatever.  It just makes me feel unworthy all over again.  So between my own personal flaws and providers, it’s tough to feel as though there is any value.  The depression and anxiety pulls all the good out of yourself. And I’m trying to figure out a way to fight my way back.  Because I know that this is not what my life will subsist with.  It has to be more than this.  I just don’t know how to get more anymore.

Ashleigh Trauma

My daughter Ashleigh, who is 19 now is cognitively disabled and has mental illness(es).  Granted, the mental illness hasn’t been diagnosed.  It’s what happens when the patient doesn’t want to comply with mental health testing.  Anyway, over the course of Mothers Day, Memorial Day, and many emails and a voice mail left on my phone – Ashleigh disrespected myself and my husband left and right.  Swearing so much that a sailor proficient in nothing but profanity and sailing – would blush.  She claims I didn’t help her – among a long list of things.  Everything she said, texted, left voice mail of cut me deep.  Like a wound that won’t heal.

I made unpopular decisions.  I had to put Ashleigh into foster care.  I remember the day Ashleigh was due out of Winnebego Mental Health in Wisconsin and getting a call from the social worker telling me that Ashleigh was being moved into the treatment foster home.  I think I was close to an emotional breakdown.  I almost wanted to check myself into Bellin Psychiatric that day.  I was not safe to be around in a moving vehicle.  I tried bringing Darrian to a friend of hers for a sleepover and almost got nailed by a truck on the way!  I never saw it coming until it was almost too late.  By the time I got home after dropping her off, I admitted I was not okay.  It was one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life.  And I resented her foster mother and father for doing what I couldn’t possibly do for her.  And that resentment tended to get bigger as I thought about it.

I did everything that I humanly could, in my position for her.  I gave so much of my life to trying to take care of the situation and I got blasted, or hit, or watched her torment and abuse her sister.  It was so much to deal with.  And as much as we had a team of people on our side to help us through it, the pain never really had gone away.

Now, I’ve been doing trauma therapy with my therapist.  And one thing (that you may have already read from my last post, I believe) I came to the conclusion of was that there were similarities to my abusive ex boyfriend and Ashleigh.  Only in the abuse.  Not that Ashleigh generally apologizes.  That is one thing that hardly happens.  After a big fit happens, she generally calms down and acts as life is normal.  Just ignores any ugliness happened altogether and it feels like she’s just going to erase it from memory.  I think that realization at that time caused a ripple effect in my head.  Granted, it was slow.  But it did a number.  Here’s what I mean.

Yesterday I went to check the mail and there were two letters for Ashleigh.  I didn’t even know where Ashleigh was since our relationship really took a dive after Memorial Day.  She emailed something about possibly going to Milwaukee.  But the second I saw those letters, something happened.  A shock of sorts.  And a little anger to go with that.  I think I was more angry at the idea that I knew that I would end up having to get ahold of her to tell her I got them here for her.  Of course I knew Eric said he wouldn’t.  He’d just put return to sender.  (Which he did when I told him) So I emailed Ashleigh.  Told her if she was still in Green Bay, that I would bring her clothes and her mail, but that was the beginning and end of it.  I didn’t want any extra communication.  Ashleigh emailed me back saying she was in Milwaukee and wanted to talk to me on the phone.  I knew I was going to cry!  I just knew it!  In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have called until I was more stable.  But I did anyway. (Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!)

I didn’t say anything inappropriate.  I knew there was a chance that she would take it very much to heart and threaten her self harm as a result.  She’s done it plenty of times before.  It’s sad that I can say that about my daughter, but if you knew her, you would know it’s true.  This time she didn’t.  I give her credit, she was worried about me when she heard me cry.  She said she didn’t want to hang up until she knew what was wrong.  So I told her.

In a nutshell, what I said was: “I don’t like how you treat me.  One moment you value me as a person.  But other times you treat me like shit!  I am your mother.  I deserve respect!  And you don’t show me respect!” There is more, but I won’t go through the entire dialogue.  It’s unimportant at this point.  Just know that it was exceptionally painful.

I finally got off the phone and later that night, I took the dogs out to pee.  When I did, I was looking up at our back porch.  The strawberry plant we have growing (in one of the relatively beginning stages) and thought it was Ashleigh from when she was like 9 or 10 years old.  It was as if I was looking directly at her from that age.  But it was dark.  I don’t know if it was guilt that led me to see that, or if it was just the trauma resurfacing.  Either way, it was exceptionally hard.  The entire time that I was out with my dogs waiting for them to do their business I was bawling.  Fortunately it was at a time where everyone was inside their homes.  So I didn’t have to get in a confrontation with anyone.  Outside was the last place I wanted to be at that point.  But I don’t think I know of anywhere I would have preferred to have been at that point in time. Because no matter where I went, my head would come with me.

Trauma Therapy – Intensified

This last visit was very hard for me.  More emotionally exhausting than the past had been.  My intention to start was to tell about what had been going on with Ashleigh and I.  I shared with my therapist the emails that Ashleigh had been corresponding with me.  Her harassment and outright anger towards me.  Her defiance and refusal to take accountability for herself and where she stood at that point in time.  And it hurt.  But I came to the conclusion that being the way she addressed herself towards me, it was no mother and daughter relationship.  And at this point it would never be.  She was emotionally abusing me, and I didn’t deserve that.  My therapist and I had talked about how Ashleigh has been this way for years and it took a very hard toll on me.  Not to discount what the other family members felt, believe me.  However, given the fact that I had been in an abusive relationship in the past – it intensified my reactions two fold.

There came a point where there was a compare, contrast.  The one thing that Junior had done that Ashleigh rarely, if ever did was apologize after the abuse.  With Ashleigh, it was just pretend nothing ever happened.  Just move forward.  Don’t acknowledge.  That was hard to see.  Maybe it is part of her mental illness that causes her to lose the ability to apologize.  Maybe she’s just being an asshole.  I don’t know.  But either way, I started to see commonalities.  And when I did that, that’s when the past abuse with Junior started to seep out.  The ways my PTSD from that relationship impacts me now.  With my relationship with Eric and with other people in general in certain triggering situations.  I didn’t talk a great deal about my relationship with him.  I really didn’t want to, much.  I didn’t really feel like it was the time.  Or hell, maybe it was just because I didn’t feel comfortable going there.

While I was discussing the abuse, I mentioned that it was incredible how a relationship that lasted 2 1/2-3 months impacted me in such difficult ways.  Past and present.  It even impacts how I handle things with Eric.  Eric has bipolar type 1 and sometimes becomes very angry.  When he hits those mega down slopes, it is very difficult for me not to feel absolutely anxious and terrified.  I know Eric would never hurt me.  I have pushed his buttons over the years and he has always protected me.  Always done right be me.  He even intercepted a domestic abuse situation we witnessed in the drive through of Burger King many years ago in Menominee.  At that point, I knew.  Eric would NEVER be that man.  Eric would never be close to Junior.  And he would honor me to the best of his ability.  When he gets angry though, I know it’s not in his control fully.  But when I hear cupboards slam or when he gets angry verbally out loud – not even towards anyone, I crawl into myself.  My depression intensifies and I cry.  There are times where I avoid him altogether.  But when it comes to confronting him about it later, I am terrified of what his reaction will be.  I know that I have a right to let him know my feelings about what happened.  And I honor myself by doing it.  The strange thing about it is, with Eric’s state of mind at certain points, he doesn’t recall his behavior and he is extremely apologetic about the way he has behaved.  Nevertheless, it isn’t any less scary.

There are many things with my relationship with Junior makes things unbearable at times.  Especially when I’m in a situation that is reminiscent.  It scares me.  I don’t draw parallels, but there are things that scare me.  I feel ashamed by some of them and I won’t discuss it just for my personal feelings on the matter.  I hope my privacy is respected.  But I remember details about many things.  Locking myself in his grandma’s bathroom because I confronted him on something that offended me and KNEW if I hadn’t, I’d pay for it.  I’d pay for it with pain.  As I’m writing about them, I keep seeing certain things cycle in my head like a movie replaying in my mind.  It terrifies me and angers me.  I hate thinking that he hurt me so badly.  It’s true what they say though about abusive relationships in one part that I will mention now.  Bruises go away.  It’s the verbal abuse doesn’t go away.  It leaves a psychological imprint.  Like someone writes on a bathroom stall, “Jaime was here!”.

When I was discussing him though, I didn’t mention his name at all.  I think it was a way to detach from REALLY pushing the emotional envelope.  As long as I didn’t personalize it with his name, I was still somewhat safe.  So what started out with Ashleigh’s emotional abuse towards me, it ended out with the abusive relationship I had with Junior.

For the rest of last week, I was a mess.  An absolute basket case.  I think my trauma therapy opened that vulnerability.  Then as things picked up emotionally, my reactions intensified.  Fortunately on Saturday I got to go for a 2 1/2 mile walk with my two chihuahuas.  So instead of wallowing in my own self pity, I did something constructive for myself.  I am proud of myself for that.

There is more to say, but I will say it another time.

Thank you for reading!  Thank you for caring!

Trauma Therapy Pt Deux

I suppose it’s natural to assume that going into therapy causes a bit of anxiety now, more so than before.  It’s not exactly like it didn’t before.  I guess for a while now I’ve been so used to just mindlessly going in and expelling every minute detail that pissed me off or set me back.  I have a lot of things I’m focusing on.  Or have to focus on.  So, it’s hard to stay on one topic at all times.  I was asked to start with my understandings of my traumas then and what I’m faced with now as a result of those traumas.  I said I would work on five.  Who was I kidding?  I mean, it’s a 45 minute session!  Five traumas!  Anyway, I got down to three.

They break down this way:

Dianne’s Death

Then                                                Now

Terrified                                           Depressed

Didn’t understand permanency        Afraid of own mortality

Depressed                                       Confused about possible link between Dianne and

Alone                                                that cannot be proven.

                                                        Desperate for answers to why

                                                        Difficulty handling funerals of loved ones.  Can be reactive.

Mom’s Coma/Vegetative State

Then                                               Now

Angry*                                             More afraid of mortality

Alone                                              Needy & dependent

Misguided                                       Scared to see her in me (ex: mirror)

Depressed                                      No adult role models, winging it

Resentful                                         Feeling insignificant to spouse and children (and self)

Fire

Then                                               Now

Scared/Lost                                    Scared of seeing smoke & fire.  Can be reactive.

Where am I going?/Placement       Scared of firetrucks w/lights & sirens blaring

Anger                                             Scared of being displaced

Resentful @ Deity                          Losing/Loss

Tired of Repeated Trauma            Angry about repeated trauma

I did have to look at my grounding duck at one point.  I remember it was recalling issues about my mom.  Citing the example of the mirror.  I will have to look back and see if I mention it in my blog from last time.  If I don’t, my apologies.  If I have found I didn’t, I may have to come back to that so if anyone does read this, they know what the hell I am talking about.

This portion was my last portion.  Last week I went into therapy already reeling from situations at home that brought a lot of anxiety.  Problems with both of my kids, one more problematic than the other.  I also was and still am committed to trauma therapy.  So the fact that I had to try to figure out which trumped which pissed me off to no end.  To the point where I became quite emotional.  And unfortunately, timing (as per the norm) was epically bad.  My brother Tim called as I was bawling my eyes out over my conflict and anger/resentment of having to pick and choose.  I was so emotionally wound up that I communicated everything to my therapist and explained that I really wanted to continue to be committed to my goal and hated how I needed to separate trauma therapy from GAWD I hate my life, therapy!  (I probably didn’t phrase it that way, but you know what I mean.

Fortunately I guess Trauma therapy is not going to end just because I had a bad week.  Or at least that’s how she said it.  She could see and hear the conflict that I was having and how hard it was on me.  So she said that we would get back to it and if I felt guilty, I could always try to work on some when I got home.  She copied some of the pages we initially worked on together to continue on with that process.  I still have them, unfortunately I never did get back to them.  I have been thinking in my mind the one hot button issue that I probably should bring up but most definitely will avoid with every fiber of my being.  The sexual traumas and how things are now with those being a part of my past.  I know it still takes up some residence, I just want it to be one of those irritating neighbors that you just hope either get evicted or learn to back off.

Last session she did make mention of dates having a link to traumas.  And they do.  But not every trauma reaction is because of one thing or another.  It just is.  Or it’s linked, but I’m not actively thinking about that link.

I am heading over to my in laws to do some much needed exercise.  I will write more when I can.

My Grounding Visual

My Visual

My Visual “Grounding” Method

As I promised, this is the picture I am going to use for my trauma therapy grounding visual. This way I can bring myself out of the moment where I’m not in the now. In that moment. I hope you receive this photo with the humor it was purely intended.

*No animals were harmed in the making of this photoshopped photo*

Trauma Therapy Begins Now

I know it’s been a while.  I have been trying to take care of myself through dieting and exercise.  I’ve lost 30 lbs already and now I’m on a slump.  I’m delving back into the depression pretty heavily and life just continues to be very difficult!  I know we had talked about grounding techniques.  So, trying to remind myself that the past traumas weren’t happening to be “now”, looking at the multitude of butterflies in her room, but I found the duck much more comical and attention grabbing.  So, the duck it is.  (The duck is made out of construction paper.  It has a nicely formed beak that is open as if to quack, just a bit.  But definitely made by a child.  My therapist asked me if I had something at home that I could look at, or utilize as my grounding technique should I need it.  My thing tends to be humor.  I have an amazing picture of my daughter as a younger girl, our bitch cat Isis (really, in the past – she was a bitch.  I’m not mean to animals – she’s probably caused more fear than any animal I’ve ever been close to!)  and her friend (who was the son of my husband’s friend Al) – they’re a couple years apart.  I’ll post the picture sometime.  I will have to write a post about Isis just to prove my point at just how you HONESTLY wouldn’t have to contact the ASPCA or other animal cruelty organization.

Right now the site won’t let me upload it.  I will try later.  But to visualize…. there is a huge castle in the background and cows grazing or laying about.  My youngest daughter at the time who looks to be about 6 or 7 with a bad haircut she did herself looking SUPREMELY pissed off holding a photoshopped sword.  A wandering eye of my daughter’s friend and companion is holding a bow and a quiver of arrows on his back; both photoshopped as well.  In the middle of the two is our bitch cat Isis with three arrows in her tummy (she’s sprawled out with her tummy exposed) – obviously photoshopped since at the time the photo was taken, she was in kitty heaven (otherwise speaking, she was exceptionally happy).  But when the mind wanders and creativity happens … well, some day you will see.

Anyway, if you have a sense of humor and don’t think we’re resorting to animal cruelty through this expression of creativity, then bravo!  You get why I use this picture as a grounding object.  So, now I can go on.

It’s hard for many people to get PTSD and why one with PTSD can’t just move on.  Get over it!  It’s the past!  Jeez… I haven’t been told that a thousand times.  When my friend from childhood was buried (which later I found out she was cremated and was not actual being buried …. it was just a standard ritual).  I was during this burial process transported back into time.  It was in 1988.  Granted, I was upset that this childhood friend had died.  It was a terrible tragedy.  But the screams and cries that came from my mouth were the screams and cries that I was not able to muster at my sister Dianne’s funeral.  My brother Tim (bless his heart and his efforts to try to keep me hanging in there at the tender age of 11) pulled me back to sit in my seat near the grave.  I just kept screaming and making a perfect spectacle of myself.  Which, honestly I didn’t give two shits of at the time because it was in the moment.  I was in the moment.  And I was reliving a trauma that will haunt me until I can manage to push past like the “normal people” do.  (Are there normal people?  Really?)  I remember screaming something akin to I don’t want her put underground!  Over and over, like a broken record.  Sure, I felt like an absolute idiot after the fact.  I was even told by a family member that was there that she was cremated.  But it made no mind to me.  It was like I was hearing it, but not hearing it.  I was somewhere else.  I was seeing something else.  And nothing else really mattered until I could get out of that moment.  It took my best friend Karena to guide me away from her burial site for me to finally start to pull it together and realize how much of a moron I must have looked!  Who knows?  Maybe word had gone round that I was a nutter.  I don’t know.  But either way, I am unwell.  And this is just one piece to the puzzle.

In my session tho, my therapist asked me to write down a list of traumas that happened in my life.  I don’t remember them all in the order I wrote them down, but I will try to do the best I can by memory.

My sister Dianne dying in 1988 when I was 11

My mom’s coma and eventual vegetative state when I was 14.  Seeing her in the nursing home day after day without recovery.

My house burning down on Christmas night of 1992 and being told that my brother Tim accused me of starting the fire on accident because I fell asleep with a lit cigarette in my mouth.  (Electrical wiring was the true nature of the beast)  And watching it for what felt like an eternity.  (The last statement I JUST now include.  Because it was Christmas night in a very small community.  It took 15 minutes for the police to get there, 10 minutes for the fire department, and God only knows how long it took to get my brother to take me to church – where I had 101 question/answer once I got there from friends and family alike)

Abusive relationship with Junior.  Not remembering how I got the black eye especially.  Not just that single event, but much of the relationship.

Rape/Sexual Assault (multiple times)

Ashleigh’s abuse to the family and especially towards Darrian both physical and emotional.  Watching her attempt to kill herself on multiple occasions, threaten it.

Rich (my ex husband and Ashleigh’s biological father) verbal abuse, manipulations towards me for years.  His narcissistic personality, abuse towards Ashleigh, threatening to kill me by holding a sword up to my neck for trying to go into his room to get the dog he was mistreating out.

Neighbor’s murder

Working at APAC and having a man call in pretending to be some kind of present day saint – bringing Atlanta’s inner city, most without fathers in their lives, disadvantaged to Disney World – touting himself up.  Then when I wouldn’t move his hotel, threaten not to feed the group of children he was with until I did.

My list is complete

I gave my list to my therapist.  She asked me how I felt when I gave it to her.  I said fine.  Because when I wrote the words, they were mere facts.  It was like I was filling out a questionaire.  A very specific one at that.  She asked me if I felt any shame about the list that I handed to her.  I said no.  And to clarify, if I were to talk more in depth about these events – I most definitely would.  But there was no shame, no emotion.  Not really.  Okay, maybe a little bit when I was reflecting on Rich.  But it moved quickly on.  I was honest.  I am being honest.  Maybe other people cannot do it the way that I did.  But here it is:  I have told my story so many times, in story format.  I am a fairly open book when it comes to my traumas.  I have had friends come and go.  Therapists come and go.  And other significant other relationships end.  So at some point I think I learned to detach by making it a story instead of something of an actual emotionally charged occurrences to this point.  If you sit me down and ask me about things that happened around that time.  Okay, I was part of an elite group of young high school students called the UPYC (Upper Peninsula Youth Choir).  I had to audition for it.  I loved every part of it.  The songs, the many voices.  It was amazing.  I went a couple times a month to meet with this group of students hand picked by a music professor at Northern Michigan University.  It was awesome.  It probably was one of my first truest loves. Music.  But once the practices were over for some time, I had to go to the hospital where my mom was laying vocally and bodily non responsive.  Her organs worked.  But knowing that after all that happiness, I had to go to see my mother in the condition that she was in.  There was no connection, or anything.  See?  There is more of an emotional connection!  And if I were to go in deeper, I no doubt cry.  But with PTSD it’s not as simple as just crying it out.  There is a moment in my mind where I’m transported back.  I feel identically to how I felt back then.  Just as empty and vulnerable.  And with a list like mine (not saying mine is worse than anyone – I drawn no comparison to who has the worst trauma(s)).  How each and every one of us deals with our traumas are different.  Our brains are so complex, so much is still being learned about what parts of the brain direct what feeling, process, etc.  But aside from long term major depression, I have PTSD/Anxiety.  My 1988 could reoccur today.  My Christmas night of 1992 could happen in July while I’m behind the wheel of the car at a stoplight, all because a firetruck goes speeding by with siren and lights going.  It’s not as easy as just to say “Let it go”.  Would you say that to a Vietnam veteran?  Or any veteran who saw death, cruelty, and misery?  No, of course not.  Otherwise that would just be purely unwise and awful.  If you would say that to them, you thought process surrounding this matter in check.  It’s not an excuse.  And no one wishes to relive these difficult and traumatic experiences.  I don’t want to feel out of control.  So no…

So, for now, my grounding point is the duck.  And at home, my picture of my daughter, her friend, and Isis with the arrows in her tummy.  When I’m outside of the house in public, with other friends, or whatever- I haven’t figured that out yet.  I will have to let you know.  For now, I’m not certain.  But I’ve come this far.  Healing has to start sometime.  Why not soon?  Why not me?

Happy Holidays!

happy-holidays

I know this time of year is bittersweet for some and debt increasing for others.  However, I hope that you are able to enjoy happiness, togetherness, and develop many amazing memories for the future.

Take care, drive sober, and hugs to all.

Janet

The Other Side of the Table/Desk

I sit here this morning, wondering.  Wondering what providers think of when they hear me tell my tale of mental illness or other life woes/experiences/expectations – etc.  I don’t read people well.  My husband is great at it.  I however, suck at it.

Sometimes it’s just agitating!  I know sometimes 15 minutes or a half hour of a psychiatrists time isn’t that much, maybe.  But to me, it can be the beginning of me outlining who I am.  Not that my mental illness is ALL of me, but where it factors in.  And that I am being treated because I am a real person who feels really awful a lot of the time.  Am I just a chart?  Just a quick write of a script because my “story” sounds legit and on to the next patient?  Will you look at me?  Will you empathize and will it sound and/or look sincere?  Will I be able to even tell if your attempt at empathy will be sincere with how I feel about myself?

I’ve seen my share of providers since I was 14 and officially diagnosed with Major Depression.  I’ve seen “the look” some doctors give.  Either they think (or I have assumed) that I’m crazy OR – whatever.  Here’s a survey of how you’ve felt in the past 2 weeks.  I’ll give you a diagnosis.  Almost like a more extensive (yet more clinically worded) facebook quiz.  So, instead of “What Once Upon a Time” Character are you?  It’s what mental illness closest resembles your screwed up noggin.  There have also been the sympathetic ones.  Unfortunately in my case, they have been rather few and far between.  I’ve even been to an appointment with a doctor once where she never once laid eyes on either myself or my eldest daughter.  (My eldest daughter was the patient, not me – and she was about a little over 5 at the time) We sat there and – from the beginning, we were never acknowledged by being looked at.  In my opinion – having that direct eye contact is a must have.  She looked at the folder – where all the psychosocial and other matter of fact data was provided.  And since her answers were very short and very generic – I wonder.  Was she even REALLY listening to begin with?  That was the first appointment and the last appointment with her.  But it still leaves much to be desired.

The providers who have so many patients that they have to glance back at the chart for history of what medications have been used in the past and ask – is it still working?  Okay, good… and then off to schedule an appointment for a month down the road to go through the whole kit and kaboodle again.  Like a really crappy deja vu.  And don’t you just love the providers who are just jerks who have no empathy.  Just crappy bedside manner, old school, judgmental, etc… etc.  The list goes on.

I get tired of being in my own head (A LOT!).  It can be quite toxic in there.  Especially as of late.  I’ve been highly agitated and anxious.  I’m not sleeping well.  I’m easily triggered.  And I am massively emotional.  It’s hard to know what’s what when the part of you that is supposed to reason or make logic for situations/experiences/environment is not working properly.

Anyone who is going through this knows what I’m talking about.  I am a human being, just like everyone else.  However, I need help.  I am severely impaired regarding my mental state.  Though I am working on it, I can’t be expected to be 100% all the time and conform to the status quo.  Look at me, nuff said… right?  Maybe….

The stigma surrounding mental illness is huge.  And I’m sure that includes the helping professions like social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, medical practitioners.  And maybe not all to their fault.  I can’t guess what they all go through in their practices.  I can only be me.  But when I walk into a practitioners office, I walk in and try to show respect and decency. I hope that I’m not missing the boat (the proverbial boat) and assuming too much.  In the end, I just want to feel better.  Not feel crazy… and in some more modicum of control of my life.  And it’s so sad that it’s so hard to find the right provider to be a good fit.

To those of you struggling, I wish you the best.  It can be the most rewarding thing in the long run when you do find the right fit.  Tho, even if you find the right provider for your needs (or others you care for and love) it is not a fix.  Not by any means.  The desire to be seen and be treated on a continuum, to discuss alternatives, fears, worries, and what to expect.

That’s it for now.  I think……

Mom

The last few weeks have been particularly trying.  I have known for some time that the change over from autumn to winter would be hard.  I just sensed a “disturbance in the force”, if you will.  But it was different.  I was near going to the crisis center last night.  I am so frustrated with being me.  Having heard the nurse practitioner to the psychiatrist saying that my memory issues are “minor”.  To feeling so damned depressed that I can’t seem to shake it.  To dealing with endless kid stuff on my end and feeling so alone.  The world is sitting on my shoulders.  And here I haven’t been to therapy for two weeks.  I want my therapist back.  I want her to be back from leave.  And I have this sneaking suspicion that she’s going to be out at least one more week longer since the last time she had foot surgery, she called in.  And I completely get that.  And I am not trying to be selfish.  I’m not.

So I have ptsd, major depression, anxiety… whatever.  I have seen images of mothers with their daughters on tv.  I have heard people in waiting rooms with their kids.  Among the numerous examples I could probably give.  I have this image of the word “Mom” in my head and it is almost inflating.  The bigger it gets, the more it wants … no, demands to be recognized.  And the more I recognize it – the more I hurt because I want my mom and I can’t have her.  I can’t replace her.  And I know that as much as I am trying to be a mom to my kids – I am hurting as a result of my trying harder than I have in the past for one – and pulling back a bit from the other (only because the one is living on her own).

I have this history of trauma sitting in the back of my head.  Haunting me and taunting me even.  This burning feeling of creating more insecurities than what I’ve already had.  I’m tired of being expected to do things when my body says no.  When all my head can tell me is that I’m a worthless piece of shit…. or that I was never good enough to begin with.  I heard some ad on the radio yesterday talking about how this person was good, but not as good as your cousin who went to school to be an attourney.  As the person started nagging on the notion about how one became a lesser being, the more my head just went along with.  I suppose that might have been part of the trigger too.

I’m tired of being on the other side of the desk, where people see this …well, me.  I’m just tired overall of not being listened to by the one provider thats SOLE JOB is to listen to what I have to say in order to BEST help my mental illness needs.  It’s like telling someone they can go to the barista and get a specialty drink, but truly only get a coffee.  Because according to your history, you only wanted it black.  What makes you think that you NEED to have macchiato or anything else to change?  I mean, at least you’re looking at me though.  I suppose THAT’S an improvement.

Okay, I’m done for now.  I will write more when it comes.