Second Day Back in the ICU

I was supposed to be in training this weekend for children’s volunteer bereavement training with a local hospice organization. I feel badly for not being there and for not having notified the coordinator. However, maybe it was meant to be that I did not do that endeavor.

I told the nurse staff that my goal today is to not act out so that I can get out of the ICU. My one-on-one for the AM shift seems pretty nice. I want to do what the floor staff do. They are good at their jobs and they don’t put up with shit.

It’s lunch time. I am sitting with a lady who has an eating disorder and who hasn’t eaten food for five days since she got in here. I encouraged her to eat some of the carrot and celery that I was eating. She ate and then thanked me.

I’m not feeling particularly profound right now. I simply am trying just to make it to tomorrow without hurting myself. I was in tears last night. What the nurses said was not comforting but eventually the Ativan kicked in. I felt like I had screwed everything up in my life and that I don’t know what to do with my future. This and the false notion that no one cares about me was causing me a myriad of anxiety last night.

My stomach is not full and it hurts. I have been eating but not much. To compensate  I have been consuming liquids. My goal is to not get fatter while  I am inpatient. It’s not like I eat very well when I am on the outside either.

I don’t want to go into my room. I don’t want to stay at this bench with no back support. I don’t want to join group on the patio and I hell of don’t want to be in the day room with all of its fake fluorescent lighting and sterile environment. Being in the ICU is a no-win situation. They don’t even offer yoga mats to sit on the ground. The only good things are that there are more staff and that I can be kept safe.

I have not had any profound revelations today. In fact, not much has happened. I slept for a couple of hours this afternoon and I was very tired. I think it was after I took Ativan for my anxiety. After dinner I had a nice conversation with a woman who is a quarter Italian and I think she said her family is from Piacenza.

I can’t believe I’ve been hospitalized for two weeks now. Once I get out I never want to come back as a patient. I don’t like any of the male patients here. They all scare me. I try to not interact with any of them at all. I wonder what the doctor and me are going to be talking about when he comes. I haven’t tried to hurt myself today yet. Not once.

I look in the mirror and I see a face. That face is neither bold nor timid. It just is. It’s not an angry face but it is a tired face. Being in the Intensive Care Unit is not energizing. It can be exhausting. Every once in a while you make a connection with another patient and it helps to pass the time. Sleeping helps too. I have been on Ambien for the last few nights and I don’t like the way it makes me feel. I don’t like being forced to feel drowsy and I believe it has been giving me bad dreams.

I haven’t been recording my dreams in my journal. My doctor believes that I have regressed in my treatment. I think he thinks I’m wasting my time because in his eyes I am not moving forward in my treatment. He tells me that I like staying ill and being the victim. It makes me angry that he says those things because my ex-husband always accused me of “playing the victim,” whereas he was the true victim to my manipulations in his mind. I wish my doctor would just arrive already for our session so I wouldn’t have to think of this anymore.

There are so many people in the day room watching Bruce Almighty tonight. It is affolato (crowded) and so I am finding space for myself in my room, which I share with a lady who constantly sleeps. She only gets out of bed at mealtime.

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First Day Back in the Intensive Care Unit

I feel like shit. I didn’t eat breakfast and I’m hungry. I ate a whole think of bran flakes. Now I feel better. Group is about to start. I went to group for ten minutes and then walked away. I put a phone chord around my neck. They took me into a back room and said I need to make better choices. By the time I got back to group it was over. My back and neck and head and arm are in the hot sun. Another patient is asking if everybody is going to kill or poison her.

Afternoon, shift change. My one-on-one has been very nice to me. A few times earlier today she had to take the telephone chord away from me because I was wrapping it around my neck. Here is an imaginary conversation:

Dr.: Why do you do those things?

Me: I don’t know. I want to hurt myself.

Dr.: Yes, but why?

Me: I don’t know.

Dr. Are you looking for attention?

Me: Maybe.

The truth is that I do want attention. I also want to hurt myself. I want all of the attention I can get when I want it. If I have a need which needs to be communicated I am most likely, at this time, to resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Maybe I just needed attention earlier. Maybe I needed to be verbally reassured that I am safe and the primal emotional id part of me took over before my ego could stop it. In many ways too, misbehaviour is a choice. I have a choice to engage in unhealthy behaviours, ones which harm me. What do I gain from it? Love and attention? Or at least the latter, minus the first.

When I was a child I learned that love included anger and the only way to get physical affection was to act out, even if the attention was negative and the physicality punitive. So why is this behaviour showing up again 25 years later? I’ve felt like I have been punished so much in my life by the bad things which have happened to me and so I have to continue this cycle of abuse and punish and hurt myself. Don’t I deserve better than that?

From one perspective, acting out on my impulses, testing boundaries, and finding out the consequences within the boundaries of a controlled hospital environment is safe. Out in the real world if I were to exhibit any of these behaviours I could lose friends, lose my job, or lose my life. Then who would take care of Samuel?

This realization elicited a long and forced sigh followed by putting my head in my hands and bowing forward. It causes me to feel much more deeply depressed. The consequences of my actions is that I am coming to some realizations which are sobering, as I apply and integrate my emotional growth with my mental intellect. These are things I don’t care to intentionally look at because the realization of the truth hurts like a punch to the stomach and reverberates for some time. There is a part of me which would prefer to continue to act out on my emotional impulses and behaviours without reigning in my cognitive functions.

I regress, literally. I received a phone call from my mother. Talking with my mother often causes frustration, especially lately. I don’t know how to express the anger in a healthy manner. It’s not something that she says, necessarily. It’s just her. She agitates me and I am realizing I don’t want to talk with her. I almost wrote that I “don’t want to talk with me.” Maybe she reminds me of myself. I doubt it. It’s more about the relational pattern we have established which has been developing since birth. And to tell you the truth I don’t have any bandwidth to deal with other people’s problems. So at the end of the call I was kicking the wall. Then I went to sit on my bed, hugged a pillow, and took deep breaths. I had to lay down for a while before I could continue to write. Writing is helping me processing. I’ve been up since 6:00 AM and I don’t like getting up that early. My hour-long nap before shift change helped.

Thoughts About Getting Triggered

It’s almost 5:00 PM, so basically the end of the day on a Sunday. I haven’t done laundry for three or more weeks. I am struggling with keeping dirty dishes out of the sink; it just seems to pile up as if I have no control. My roommate gave her 30 days notice several days ago and I haven’t had the heart to begin to be able to cope with it. It was a difficult week and I feel as if I am suffering.
Today I got triggered. It was in regards to the idea of having a massage at my friend’s bridal shower, which will be at a spa in a few weeks. I have been going back and forth with the ladies organizing the event. I let them know I don’t want to be touched. Just the idea of it brings tears to my eyes. I don’t want to be touched because between the ages of 16 and 28 I was touched inappropriately and raped countless times by more than one man. It all makes sense to me now when I put it on virtual paper. Because I got triggered I decided to lay down and take a nap. Three hours later and some distraction by Ted Talks on YouTube and I am doing better. That’s just one day, half a day, of my life.
Right now I have the urge to go back to sleep. I feel as if I can’t cope. My head is spinning and not everything around me is making sense. But my emotional support dog is in my lap and that helps to ground me. I am responsible. I can do things with my life. I have the ability to do anything I want to do, except for when I get triggered. Something needs to change. That doesn’t seem right. It doesn’t seem fair. It’s not fair that other people (such as my former abuser) get to go on living their lives whilst I am suffering. Yes, I know, others suffer in their own ways too. But these are just the sort of thoughts which run through my mind. I now desperately want to go back to sleep but I am going to try to write another paragraph.
I might get to see my psychotherapist this week. It has been three weeks since his office transition and I have subsisted off of phone calls. But it’s not the same as seeing him in person. I wish he worked on Sundays so I could talk to him today. I wish I wasn’t busy all of Monday and Tuesday so that I could have the potential of seeing him. He said he was going to find an office close by because I live close to where his office has been for the past many years. But it’s a little bit further than I would like it to be.
I am valid. My thoughts are valid. I am allowed to think what I think and others aren’t allowed to judge me even though they will. I need to validate myself in order to give credence to that which I am. I am me, and that’s enough. It’s enough to be me. I don’t have to be anything I’m not, because, for more than six years, I was exactly that which I am not. I was living a lie. I was suffering silently until, after an unsuccessful suicide attempt at the end of 2011, I left him on April 13, 2012.
I’m okay. I’m okay, I’m okay, I’m okay. I made a new friend. We spent time together last night. I’m not sure I understand his motives because he keeps wanting to do things for me. At some point, I might take him up on his offer. Of doing something for me. Damn, I just feel like I am suffering. What really got me was the hospice volunteer training earlier in the week. We did a death awareness exercise. I had to step out of the room because I was crying inconsolably. It brought up grief from my father’s death in 1987. It happened over 30 years ago and I think it’s still going to affect me. It’s going to affect me for the rest of my life and triggers are going to happen. And I won’t always be able to sleep for 20 hours like I did in reaction to the painful emotions I was feeling. I took a day off work and I just slept the whole time. I didn’t want to deal with the pain of being conscious and alive.
Right now I have tears in my eyes. I haven’t been suicidal for three months. Three whole months! That is something to celebrate, it really is. I had a fleeting thought of “I should just go kill myself” but I was able to push that thought aside. It’s not fair. It’s just not fair. I don’t want to have those sorts of thoughts. I just want to live a normal life devoid of grief and full of happiness. But we all know life isn’t sunny all of the time.

Having Anxiety About Money Worries

Money. Why do I always worry about money? What is it? I have had high anxiety about this topic for several days now. I even considered renting out my bedroom and sleeping on my couch in order to save some money. I make a decent income. But my monthly expenses are high and I do not save money each month. I’m in the negative. I don’t know what to do. I mean, yes, stop buying clothes and stop travelling to see my family. But the latter isn’t going to happen, I need to see my family. That’s several hundred each trip. Then I just keep watching the level of my bank account go down, and down, and down.
I’ll be getting a refund from my Healthcare Flexible Spending Account and that will help. But it won’t make up for the extra $3,000 I’ve spent this year that I probably shouldn’t have spent. After taxes and health insurance, I make $650 a week. That’s enough, right? But lately I’ve had appointments here and there and I’ve been working 32 hours a week and my weekly income has gone down to $450. That’s not good.
If I made $80k, that would be amazing!! Unless I lived in a place where the cost of living is much higher. But my training, education, and such warrants that my salary is much less. Plus, it’s not a salary. It’s hourly pay. So if I take some hours off, then I don’t get paid. If I made more money, I could be putting away some of that income for my retirement. But I’m not. I’m not saving for retirement. How do people do it? How do they make ends meet? What the hell am I doing with my life??
I need to talk to my therapist. I know. That’s it. I just need to talk to him. But he’s in between moving offices so we have a phone call scheduled but I don’t get to see him in person. It’s far better than nothing. And I’m hungry. I’m not trying to not eat but I’m just going to sit with the hunger for a while. Because in an hour I take my lithium and I always have to eat with that or I become nauseous and throw up.
It has been 10 weeks since my last episode of suicidal ideation. Ten weeks with no crisis. It’s amazing. It feels amazing. I really think the lithium is helping because nothing else really has changed in my life other than that I have been dating men here and there. I just went to a training on working with transgender individuals of colour and the challenges they face. It was inspiring. Now I’m considering dating women again. I don’t know! I just want to be happy. And it would be nice to find a partner to get through the ups and downs of life with. But that hasn’t happened yet. Not yet.
I’m going to be okay. Positive self-talk. Everything is going to be okay in the end. I don’t need to rent out my money. I just have to keep working hard and keep doing what I am doing, and eventually, all of this hard work will pay off. I will be able to get pregnant and have a child and find more of my purpose in life by being a mother. I will be taking two infant and toddler classes this Fall at a junior college. I can’t wait to see what I’ll be learning. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s nice to have things to look forward to. Really nice.

​Experiencing a Mild Depression

I just don’t want to do anything any more. That’s not true. Earlier in the week, I had tons of energy. But my energy has decreased and it bothers me. I slept 14 hours last night and this morning. Maybe 15. I have my weekly therapy session in just two hours. My armpits stink and I need to shower. Instead, I’m just going to cover it with deodorant later on. There is a pile of dishes in the sink and an unwashed pan on the stove. My dirty laundry basket is overflowing as usual. But what really matters is that I am feeling okay and I have my little dog in my lap. He seems pretty content to be here with me. That always makes me feel better.
The tea I am drinking right now has chocolate pralines and strawberries in it. It’s a black tea. It’s a small pleasure to enjoy right now. I finally got the courage to make tea for myself after the last two hours of not doing it because it felt like too much effort. That is all in my mind, right?
I’m dating someone. We’ve been dating for about three weeks. I really like him and he makes me feel happy. He is well aware of my depression because I told him about it. He has an undergraduate degree in psychology and had already figured out that I have depression before I told him. Here were the reasons he knew: the scar on my arm, the oversleeping, the co-dependency on my dog and the fact that on my dating profile I said I can’t do without my therapist. So, there you have it. He already knew. I didn’t know he knew and I was well prepared for him to reject me and decide to not date me because of this fact. But that wasn’t the case and I was so relieved!
That’s it. I have to recognize it when it comes. I am feeling depressed. I am feeling down. I don’t often recognize when this is happening, so realizing this right now is like having an epiphany. I am feeling depressed. Maybe just a little bit. Maybe a lot. Maybe I will feel less depressed after seeing my therapist. I mean, I always feel better after seeing him. I don’t pay attention much to my depression these days. If I am feeling down I am usually able to work through it, meaning, I concentrate on work during the week. I think work is a good distraction from my feeling depressed. It’s good for me. Plus I have to pay the bills.
Time is going really slowly right now. It’s basically noon, but it was 11:54 for way too long and now it’s only 12:01. I don’t know what’s up. I’m having tons of thoughts and time is going very slowly. I know I want to finish writing out my thoughts here before getting ready to go out for therapy. Maybe it’s a good thing that my new man works four 10-hour days Friday through Monday. Because if he had weekends free then we would likely be spending that time together and I wouldn’t get any of my stuff done. Why is it that I just don’t want to do anything right now? I don’t understand this state of being. Now only two minutes have passed and I feel like a sloth because time is going so slowly. It doesn’t exactly feel good.
My dog doesn’t seem to be bothered by any of my human failings. I need to focus on approaching life from Samuel’s perspective, which is in-the-moment as things are happening. He doesn’t have the mental capacity to worry too much about what happened in the past and about what is going to happen in the future. I completely forgot that today is Pride Day here in my town. People are out and about celebrating LGBTQ in the gay neighbourhood in town and at a very large park. Weeks ago I thought about participating but right now I’m glad I slept. I can’t imagine having to expend that sort of energy right now. I best start getting ready to go to therapy. It’s a rough life I have, I’m telling you! (Yes, that’s a joke 🙂

This is a Part of My New Life

My goal in therapy now is to no longer feel suicidal. My biggest dream in life is to one day become a mother. I want to be an emotionally resilient mama so that I can be strong for my baby. We are adding lithium to my three other medications that seem to have been working and I’ve been on them for years. My doctor said there were studies done a long time ago which indicated that lithium can reduce suicidal ideation. It’s worth a shot. “Lithium is a salt,” I said. “Yes,” he told me. “And they don’t know exactly how it works,” I continued. “That’s also true,” he replied. “It’s for people with bipolar disorder,” I said. “Yes.” He was playing along as I wanted him to. “But I don’t have bipolar disorder,” I reminded him. “No you don’t,” he said kindly, “but it also works for other diagnoses.” That was enough for me. I was sold.

 

“We’re only giving you a whiff of lithium at 300 mg. We won’t be going up to a therapeutic dose which can be 1,200 mg,” he informed me. “Can’t you just give it to me in a snifter and I can take a whiff of it that way like they do with hard alcohol,” I asked cheekily. “I meant that metaphorically,” he said with a smile. He is always in such a good mood with me, even when I am not. I love my doctor.

 

I have been writing incessantly over the last three months. I am publishing on my new public platform on Psych Central twice weekly. I talk about my mental health challenges and I’ve gotten a few positive responses, which of course is always encouraging. Whenever I am experiencing intense emotions, I write. When I am feeling okay, I write. All I do is write. But I recently got a comment on my Depression Muse blog which inspired me to write here too finally. I’ve been wanting to do this for some time. My entire life outside of work is consumed with writing for my new blog. There are certain rules you need to adhere to, like that titles for the blog posts need to be 8 – 10 words long for Google searches to pick them up and that posts shouldn’t be longer than 1,200 words or so. But with this blog, Depression Muse, there are no rules. I fucking love it.

 

I’ve had Samuel for over a year now. I can’t imagine my life without him. This 12-pound furball of a dog is the best thing that has ever happened to me in my life. I’m serious. The day I get a partner to sleep with me in bed, meaning that my dog-child shouldn’t sleep with me any longer, well, that will be an adjustment for us both. I love having his little belly rising and falling with each breath within arm’s reach so that when I am having a nightmare I can put my hand on him and come back to reality in a relaxed way. He grounds me to reality. I love him with all my heart.

 

Earlier this week on a whim I downloaded a dating app. I had used this one before, OK Cupid. I had to rewrite my entire profile from two years ago and put all new photos up. I can’t believe that just two years ago I was still regularly indulging in alcohol even though it is clearly so bad for me. It is a depressant and reacts with my medications. It’s so bad for me. It even gives me nightmares, just one glass, as I recently discovered on my Italy trip. Not good.

 

So two days ago I decided I want to find a man and have lots of amazing sex which might then lead to us making a baby together, which is all I want in life. I was originally planning to go to a sperm bank. But maybe having a partner to help raise my child wouldn’t be so bad after all, even though there is this thing called co-parenting where you actually have to work hard and agree on stuff. I sexted with a man for two hours Thursday night. By Friday night I was feeling guilty about it because as poet Rupi Kaur says, I want a man to know my mind first before my body. So maybe I don’t want to find a man after all. I have no fucking idea!! And that’s completely okay. I am okay with not knowing exactly what I want and not being able to predict the future.

 

It’s Saturday morning and I have a date in a few hours. It’s at a coffee shop at 10:30 and so I am making sure to not drink coffee at home right now so that I’m not on a coffee high for the rest of the day. Actually, having too much coffee doesn’t feel good. It can mess with your heart rate and your mind and you’re on this artificial high for several hours, and then you crash. Dang, is coffee a drug or something? I hadn’t thought of it that way.

 

This guy is white and eclectic and I’m interested to see how the conversation goes. I’m not at all nervous, as I think that these dates are a dime a dozen. I think women are lucky because it’s easier for a woman to get a date with a man than for a man to get a date with a woman. I’m just saying. But this time I am definitely going to let the man pursue me and he must absolutely court me. God forbid I jump into bed with the first man that I connect with. I better not!!

 

I think I’m going to go eat breakfast now. It’s 8:00, awfully early for me on a weekend day. I really want coffee and I might have to indulge in spite of my coffee shop date later this morning. I’m curious to see if he will even show up! Well, Samuel is such a big part of my life, I am definitely bringing him. And I think I have a dinner date in the works for next week with another man. I am going to suggest a place where I can bring my dog to sit on the patio with us. Samuel is a part of the package and he has my heart!

I’ve Worked Really Hard to Get Here

In about four weeks I will be leaving to go to Italy and England. I was so incredibly angry yesterday. In fact, I know I’m not feeling good about it still because my handwriting is all messy and I’m not making any effort to make it bubby and pretty.

My dog is in my lap. He is so cute and cuddly. I’m going to miss him when I am gone. His face is right by my left hand on the flat arm of the couch, while I am holding up the leather-bound journal I am writing in.

I thought I was going to want to write all about the drama of yesterday, how I felt suicidal for two hours, how I had gotten triggered. But the truth is that it’s over now. I focused solely and entirely on being with and on petting my amazing therapy dog. I thought I was going to write all about the experience, so that others might relate to what I was going through: my thoughts, my feelings. I even had a title picked out for my blog entry. It was going to be “To Die or Not to Die.” Pretty catchy title, isn’t it?

My tea is no longer hot and I accidentally smeared the wet ink at the end of the last sentence. There is no way I am going to type all of this up later. I might try the Google Voice function for the first time. I’ve never used it to recite a text, just a sentence here or there. Then I can go back and correct the mistakes.

My dog is white, like a creamy white, with an orange left ear and a right ear which is mostly white with orange spots on it. He has orange patches around his eyes, so it looks like he is wearing a mask. It’s really cute.

Notice how I am distracting myself? I’m not wanting to focus on what happened yesterday. But I’ll tell you one thing which makes me angry. I bet not one person out of the 350 people, who work in that building of the company I work for, have to deal with suicidal thoughts like I do.

Yes, they might have a bad day, but do they think about ingesting over 1,000 mg of ibuprofen or drinking bleach or jumping off the big bridge in town? I didn’t think so.

I had to calm myself down just now, out of instinct. I exhaled loudly and put my left hand on my left cheek and leaned into it, propping up my head. And I closed my eyes. It’s a form of taking a break. It’s a pretty useful tool to have under my belt. On top of that, my lower back is hurting at a 5 out of 10 pain level. When I wake up in the mornings, the pain has lately been a 9 out of 10, 10 being the worst pain.

I just took this incredible half hour cuddle break with Samuel, my therapy dog, and I feel so much better. I feel rejuvenated and no longer tired like I was earlier. My tummy is still full of the plain, creamy yogurt, honey, and granola mix that I ate just a couple of hours ago. Its 11:00 and I have to be sitting at my desk in two hours, but for now, I am at home in a comfy sweatshirt, sweatpants and no bra. It’s brilliant!

I was originally going to take the whole day off of work today in order to attend to business classes. But I’m holding off on getting my non-profit organization started (or charity, as they call it in the U.K.) and I don’t need to know how to create a “30-second sizzler elevator pitch” for my business just yet.

I had another brilliant idea today. I took out my cast-iron teapot from the top of the bookshelf. It has been sitting there unused for over two years. And I made tea in it! And it feels special and great to be using it. Years ago, back in 2013, I used to enjoy making tea in it a lot. And then I just stopped using it.

I probably thought of this because tomorrow night my therapist and I are going to be doing what has become a tradition. He has a cast-iron teapot made for two and he is going to make tea for us. Then we will drink it together. That is how we celebrate my birthday and I love it. We started the tradition last year and our therapy session was actually on the day of my birthday. I brought cupcakes and two candles, one for me and one for my brother, and I blew them both out after making a wish. Only I ate the cupcakes, however!

 

Being Suicidal is Part of an Elite Club

This is going to be sort of a weird, fragmented letter because I just read a fragmented article written by the mother of her adult daughter who died by suicide by jumping off of the balcony of her 29th floor apartment. She was career-oriented but suffered from delusions.
It makes me wonder what it would feel like again to feel suicidal. Maybe suicide isn’t such a bad idea after all. I have been writing prolifically, particularly poetry, and my poetry could be my legacy that I leave behind.
When I feel suicidal, everything feels so right in the world because I know desperately what I need to do. I start planning my death, by means of an overdose or jumping off of a bridge usually, and I know it’s what I have to do. When I am suicidal I know where I belong.
When I’m not suicidal, sometimes I don’t know where I belong. I try, try so hard, to make space in this world for me by building a place that is safe and a place where I can express my innermost thoughts. My poetry might seem abstract to an outsider, but it is simply the story of my life infused with creative metaphors.
I guess that’s why I write. I didn’t realize this until now. I write in order to have purpose in my life and in order to have meaning. I’m sure there are other ways to find meaning in life, but it is what’s working for me right now.
But why have I been writing so much? I have been writing every day and looking back on the last two weeks, it has been intense. I know I just saw you yesterday. But I don’t like that I have to wait three more days to see you. It feels to long. In reading about the story of a young woman’s suicide I am suddenly feeling unsafe and unsure of myself. I don’t want to do this alone.
I can’t do this any longer. I can’t continue to write. I feel like I need to start composing dark, deep poems about death in order to get death out of my mind. Okay, so it’s probably not a good idea to let myself be exposed to articles about someone’s suicide. I just want to go to bed now. I don’t want to shower and I don’t want to put the mountain of laundry away, which is keeping me from being in bed because it’s towering over my unchanged bedsheets.
Even my dog has left me. My back has been in a lot of pain all weekend. I thought about maybe starting some kind of physical therapy, but then, that would help me to live better, and I wouldn’t want to do that, when I am thinking about wanting to go back to feeling suicidal just so I can have a space where I belong.

Depression? What’s That?!

Sunday evening and I’m settled in for the night. No, that’s not exactly true. I have been settled in all day. Instead of going to church for the second time this year, I slept in. I then hand wrote some already-composed poetry into my hardbound sketchbook where I keep the master copy of each poem I write. Then I composed a new poem, which took about an hour. By now it’s 1:30 pm in the story and food happened somewhere in there, but not enough. I went to take a nap and cuddled up with my dog in bed in a half-conscious state for an hour. Then it was time to photograph my poetry, so I can have more material to post on my social media pages. Somehow now it’s 5:00 pm and I am really hungry. Organic crunchy peanut butter and organic raspberry preserves sandwich with amazing and expensive bread. The sun is starting to set in this side of the globe and I finally start doing the laundry I’ve been putting off doing all weekend. It has been a couple of weeks since I last did it, and last changed my bedsheets. Now my bed is a messy mountain of creased, dry cotton items and my dog is having a heyday in the pile. I made sure to take out my underwear because that’s the only thing I don’t want his paws on. The hot cocoa milk I just consumed is but a memory. I have knowingly switched between past and present tense throughout this paragraph and it has become a long one. Time to move on. Better check to see what my dog is doing in the other room.

This day has been a mixture of mindful self-care and hard work. My back has been hurting a lot and crouching down on the hard floor in order to take photographs of decorated verses of my poetry for an hour didn’t help. I napped when I needed to and ate when I remembered. Even now, as I prepare for slumber time, I am working by practising the art of writing in spelling out my thoughts. It never ends and I never want it to.

My trip to Italy is coming up in about a month. I’m not doing the touristy thing. I’m just going to live there for a couple of weeks while staying with my friend. I plan to pop over to London from Bologna to see some old family friends. While I am away I hope to write every day. If I can manage to do it, my ideal vacation will be one thoughtful poem a day and one blog entry. I might have to take a day off here or there. Writing takes concentration. It’s kind of ironic that I cannot for the life of me sit down to read a book for more than 20 minutes before becoming distracted, which is why now I only listen to audio books. Then I can pay attention to the words being spoken when I want to, and when my focus of attention goes elsewhere, I can return to the story at any time. But when I am writing, now, that’s a different story.

When I write, I can write for an hour uninterrupted. I think it has to do with the art of creating something. The screen or page is white and blank, and then little characters of all shapes and sizes which comprise the English language appear, and fill the tabula rasa (blank slate). In between sentences I’ll find myself unconsciously rubbing my skin as in a nervous habit while trying to think of what to type next. The skin rubbing is more of an OCD thing, although I am not diagnosed with that disorder. It has a long history and is a long story, so I won’t go into it now. It has to do with trying to get the dirt off of me, because subconsciously I still feel dirty from all of the dirty things which were done to me in my past.

About 40 minutes have passed by since I started writing this journal entry. Amazing that I have spent that time doing something I like doing. I had gotten the pile of dirty dishes in the sink under control earlier today, thankfully, and now I have a couple more “adult” obligations I have to take care of before going to bed. That is, putting three loads of laundry away and showering. I still haven’t been to a pet store to buy Samuel’s soft carrier for the airplane trip next week, and if I don’t do it, then he will be staying behind with my roommate. Luckily she loves dogs and is great with Samuel. I hate it when people try to abbreviate or give him a nickname like “Sam” or “Sammy.” No, you fools, it’s Samuel. Get it right.

I still have to pack my suitcase later this week. I haven’t put it away since my last trip in December and that black box of a thing has been standing on its heels in my room the whole time. It’s not like it’s an eyesore though, as one quickly forgets its existence. Funny how you can live in a mess and get so used to it, that it becomes your normal. I’m not saying I live in a messy home, it’s just, stuff like that happens.

Depression? What’s that? I still take my medication diligently, day and night. The last time I had a suicidal episode (which for me entails an emergency happening in my mind) was several months ago. When it is happening, I see no alternative other than killing myself as the best idea. It usually lasts for a couple of intense days and then subsides. After the episode, I wish those wouldn’t happen to me. It happens less and less these days. My therapist had reminded me that for more days than not, I used to live in that emergency state of being all the time. Things have changed since then.

I think I am done. I have satisfied my craving to write, and although I could write some more, I find it best to wrap things up. Really, it was an indulgence, because I don’t often feel as if I have the time to write so often. Other times I don’t want to go into the depths of what is in my mind because it is too overwhelming, so best to stay away from the blank slate during those times. If I can just sit here, in the silence, as I have been doing, minus the sound of fingers tapping away on the keyboard, then I can gather myself and some courage to do those adult things I need to do next.

Self-Soothing and Learning to Say “No”

No, no, no, no, no. Today was not a therapy day. I give myself permission to say “no” again. No! It’s not that I didn’t go. But it’s that I chose to leave early, halfway through the session. What I’ve learned is that I am in charge of my own life and responsible for my own feelings. If something doesn’t feel right then I don’t have to be doing that thing. Twenty minutes into the session I abruptly said that I needed to use the restroom. Now, I actually did have to pee, but it’s a self-care tool that I have learned to use in therapy. When I need a break, to stand up and walk away for a few minutes, I can do just that. When I got back I told him that this has been an incredibly long session and that I didn’t think I’d make it to the end. My therapist was very supportive and allowed me to, and guided me along the path, of deciding to leave. We talked about it for five minutes before I finally exclaimed, “I don’t want to be here!” So I paid, and I left.

The instant I left his office I felt better. I had forgotten to have lunch, as my days on weekends are quite unstructured, and it was already mid-afternoon. In session, while we were talking about things that were tough for me, my hunger took the forefront and was distracting and causing me to feel irritated. I think that I would have been able to tolerate the other feelings had I not been hungry. The most important lesson here is of my independence and control in leading my own life. I have permission to leave. I give myself permission to leave when things get uncomfortable. Only, I wish I would remember this when in dating situations. I forget that I can say “no” and I forget that I have the ability to leave. It’s going to take some practise and today was a great way of practising that very skill. By the way, I didn’t spell “practice” incorrectly. I prefer using the British spelling.

Now I am at home. It’s wet and rainy outside and I am inside with the heat on. I did some photography for my ongoing poetry project today, and my back had already been hurting. Crouching down on the floor with my large Nikon D5000 and taking pictures of verses of my poetry which I had decorated with paint, was even harder on my back and I am recovering from that. Now I just have to go through the photos and figure out which one is the best shot, edit the saturation and contrast and brightness, and then put them in a folder to post later. I don’t have editing software such as Photoshop, so I have to get the photo perfect, because I won’t be editing it later. I then post my poetry on my social media sites that are there just for my poetry and my few loyal followers can then hit the “like” button. It brings me a smile knowing that other people are getting to enjoy my poetry.

I have ginger-flavoured kombucha and a dog in my lap. I would say that life is pretty good. My Mum bought me the audiobook of “Achtung, Baby,” an account of a woman raising small children in Germany. So for the last two and a half days I was immersed into dreaming of moving to Germany. Only, then I would have to leave my Samuel behind with another family, and my German isn’t fluent, that’s for sure. I understand about 70% of the language, I would say. That’s pretty good, given that I haven’t practised speaking it since I was 12 years old. So, in dreaming about the possibility of moving abroad, I also am realising how good I have it here in the USA, and in particular, the spot in which I reside. I have a great job and I can see working there for the next 20 years if I don’t change my career. It’s just that kind of company, where people stay there for decades. If I were to leave, even if only for a year, I would have to leave that job. I really don’t think I’m ever going to find a job to top the one I have now, it’s great. I have so much independence and flexibility there. It’s astounding. It’s amazing. It’s wonderful. But that’s exactly what my therapist explained to me, that sometimes when we dream about doing other things than what we are doing now, such as moving to a new home, moving to another city, changing jobs, then we realize sometimes how good we’ve got it now and our perspective changes. It’s all about perspective, baby.

I’ve got three drops of lavender oil on my sleeve end so that I can smell it whenever I want. All I have to do is lift my wrist to my nose and breathe in. It’s great. I have been using lavender a lot lately, to calm and soothe myself, even if I am doing fine. It doesn’t matter how I’m doing. The scent of lavender oil always makes me feel better, even if I was fine before smelling it. I used to wear the stuff All. The. Time. Literally. All the time. It was a self-soothing tool I used when I was very mentally ill and boy, did it help.

Now my dog is lightly snoring, just the slightest of sound. I find it to be so comforting. Every time I have to get up to pee, I apologize to him, because he is sooo comfy in my lap. I wouldn’t want me to get up either. And then I say to him out loud, “I have to go, I have to go,” and that motivates me to get up. Talking to yourself or to your pet can do wonders. It has been quite enjoyable lately and I’ve been doing more of it. Maybe I’m also practising for my future baby. Even though babies cannot intelligibly reply with language, the communication is very important. Babies communicate in other ways, and they are incredible learners.

Okay, I’m going to go now! It is decided. I am officially going to stop writing for the moment, to be resumed at another time, likely in an hour when I choose to work on my poetry. I have been writing a lot lately. I’ve been very prolific and the amount of production blows my mind when I look back on what I’ve written in the last two weeks. Luckily my pace has slowed down and I’m spending three or four days on one poem, instead of writing a poem a day. That’s an insane pace, because my poetry is always very intricate and thoughtfully written in order to be thought-provoking for the listener. My poetry was not made to be read. It was made to be listened to, read by me and me only. For only I can give each line the character that is needed for the impact to be communicated, emphasizing a word here and there. I’m signing out before I get distracted again by initiating a new topic. Until later! Think of it as a continuation, not an ending. That’s another concept I have learned recently in therapy.