​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 🙂

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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.

Motherfucker

There are so many things I could be doing right now. I have an hour before I have to get ready for bed, so I thought I’d write. It has been a while. Well, not really. These last two weeks have been a prolific inspiration of intricately woven words into poems. I have been writing about a poem a day, which is a lot. Each poem is about four pages long, with shorter lines of course, not in paragraph format but in stanzas. I have finally slowed down. This is the second day I have been working on the same poem, and I’ll probably finish it during my lunch break tomorrow at work.

I finally realized that I don’t have to share my poetry with everyone right away. I have a handful of people I send my newly created masterpieces to (for each poem I love dearly and find meaning in its existence). I send them to my Mum, my therapist, my brother, a few friends, sometimes to my psychiatrist, my former massage therapist and a former professor. I’ll only send my poems to people I know will read and enjoy them. Otherwise, what’s the point? I know that my therapist reads every single word that I send him, even if it’s five emails in one day because I am not feeling good. It feels good to know he’s always with me, even when I’m not in session with him in his cozy office.

My dog is in my lap, snoring, and so, as usual, my computer is resting on the flat arm of my modern couch. It’s a lovely couch and I am emotionally attached to it because it’s the first piece of real furniture I bought for myself after I left my ex-abuser. This couch has seen me through a lot. I never thought I wouldn’t mind a dog walking all over it, but hey, I could care less now that I have Samuel in my life: all 12 lbs of his adorableness.

As you can tell, I’m in a pretty good mood right now. And, well, it just feels damn good. I mean damn good. Fuck yeah! I’m not that hepped up on the fact that I feel good, but I have to emphasize this fact to myself, because it’s good when I can focus on the good times and good feelings, instead of bad ones when I am angry or sad, or even lonely. Lonely doesn’t happen often, but earlier this week I was feeling lonely and texted my roommate to see when she was coming home. She’s often gone, and not around much. I’m pretty used to it but would much rather she be home more. I like having her company. I guess I’m pretty lucky to have someone like that as a roommate! I can’t believe it has been almost half a year since she moved in. Roommates in my life come and go, and sometimes I stay friends with them, sometimes not.

This last weekend was an emotional roller coaster for me. I felt wronged and shame and anger and indignation. I had been involved in an intense romance with a man who lives in a city a few hours away. This was for two weeks. We talked on the phone, Skyped, and text messaged each other during those two weeks. We talked about deep stuff. We spontaneously decided to get together on a Friday night for a breakfast date in the morning. We met halfway, each driving just over an hour. It was nice. I mean, I really enjoyed the date. But then later that night I spoke with a friend of mine who is Catholic. Or rather she spoke to me. She pointed out all of the “red flags” about this guy and made me cry. “What happened to you?” she cried. She believes in things like no sex until marriage and I don’t think that’s quite me but I value her opinion and she is close to me.

So the next night I told this man that I was not going to see him again. He was naturally surprised and asked why. I proceeded to explain to him that I don’t owe him an explanation, and that I didn’t want him to get defensive. So he agreed to not get defensive and I acquiesced to tell him the things he did wrong, in my opinion. And then, guess what? He got defensive. I felt like crap and I feel eternally grateful that I had already scheduled a therapy session with my psychotherapist the very next day. Thank God, seriously.

The things he did wrong. He kissed me on the first date. Not only did he kiss me on the first date, he kissed me within the first half hour of our date. We had never met before!! Wtf. And then, he proceeded to kiss me for the next hour and a half of our date at his leisure. Now, I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy the kisses. But I never initiated. Couldn’t he get a hint? Then he wanted to put the blame of the situation on me because he told me I should have said something in the moment, as if I am supposed to take responsibility for his actions. All of this my therapist explained to me. Otherwise I would not have a clear understanding as to what happened.

What else did he do? Well, he spanked me on the bum. That’s an even bigger wtf. He thought he was being playful and I felt violated but was so surprised I didn’t know what to do in the moment, so I did nothing. And then, he blatantly disregarded my “no” to some aspect of our conversation, and even contested me on my very clear “no.” Plus, I’ve discovered that a woman is allowed to say “no” even at the last minute. She is allowed to change her mind. She is even allowed to change her mind after the fact. That last one blows my mind as a revelation and I’m not sure I fully understand the impact of that statement. I can decide I didn’t like it after it has happened. Now, we were in public, so there was no sex involved, thank God once again, but we were in each other’s arms at the beach, just beyond the train tracks, and exchanging conversation.

I am feeling a little bit angry at him in writing about this. Those old feelings pop up again. But I have discovered and learned over the years that feelings come and go, and I remain. Feelings don’t last forever, even if it feels really, incredibly intense and real in the moment (such as feeling suicidal). They always pass. They always go away and equilibrium always finds its way back into my life eventually. I also know now that I don’t have to act on my feelings. That’s a bit harder to grasp. I understand it intellectually but not quite emotionally. My emotions or my brain doesn’t want to believe me and the impulse to act on an intense emotion is strong. The last time I slid a sharp object across my inner forearm was last Fall when I was feeling suicidal. I even took a picture of the scissors with the light red marks (I didn’t even come close to drawing blood) and posted it on my Twitter account. I was desperately reaching out for help and I have a Twitter community called #SickNotWeak which is very supportive, especially in times like this. It’s a really great thing.

I kind of need to go now and stop writing. I need to go do some self-care. I didn’t know that writing about what I wrote about was going to get me all worked up inside, but a very faint alarm bell is ringing in my mind and that means, I need to calm myself down. Stop the flying of my fingers and do something soothing for the next half hour before I shower and then get ready for bed. Okay, I can totally do this. I am a real expert on self-care these days. Lucky me. Well, it’s not luck. It has taken a lot of practice and hard work to get to where I am today. I just farted and my dog looked up from his napping. I guess he isn’t that hard of hearing after all!

Self-Discovery: I am a Powerful Being

I have been spending a lot of time with myself lately. It’s good. It’s really good. It’s healthy. I don’t feel lonely. For the most part I feel at peace with myself. I have been making huge strides with my healing progress. Yesterday in therapy we went for a short while to a place that is painful to me. I cried and experienced the pain, and then I was able to bring myself out of it. Knowing when I’ve had enough is a skill which I have had to develop over time. The ability to bring myself out of dark places is an even more advanced skill, and it is one that I am still mastering.

Today, Samuel, my dog, and I went out to the cliffs. After a long and slow walk while listening to Dan Siegel in one ear and the ocean waves in the other, we stopped at my favourite spot. It’s at the end of the cliffs area right where the buildings start on that side of the road. Along the building wall are some stairs cut into the rocks which lead to another, larger rock. For the most part it’s pretty secluded. Every once in a while when I go there, some eager young couple will go past me where I am seated and jump the mid-sized wall. I guess it’s a spot they know about and are agile enough to get to.

While I was sitting there in the silence of the waves at low tide I came to a realization that I feel safe there. For the most part, I don’t have to worry about people behind or around me, although I sometimes look over my shoulder just to make sure. But I had a peaceful sensation of just feeling safe there, in the outdoors, and with myself. Feeling safe with myself is one of my greatest accomplishments. I have discovered that no matter how intense my feelings can be, I can get through it and I don’t need to go to the hospital.

Earlier in the week my feelings had been so intense that I decided to take a half day off for my mental health. I saw my psychiatrist two days in a row, and my therapist the next day. During those two days there were moments of what I call an “emotional emergency in my mind” and I thought I was going to have to take myself to the hospital. I wasn’t exactly feeling suicidal, but I was out of my mind, literally. It was just too much to handle. But my mental health care providers were able to help me get through those harrowing days. And in the end, all that matters, is that I got through it. I can look back and say, “I am the shit” because I’ve been through so much shit and I’m still thriving and fighting and living my life, every day, in spite of what I have experienced in my past. I am a woman warrior; there’s no doubt about it.

I notice right now that I am allowing myself to look away from the screen and take a deep breath, because writing about what I just wrote about was getting intense in my mind. I could feel my heart constricting and my head was spinning just slightly. It is nice that I can take myself away from that. I can choose to focus my attention on other things. It is a very powerful skill to have.

My therapist loves me. There’s no doubt about it. This is what I want to focus my attention on right now. Thoughts which will warm my heart and make me feel good and calm me down. Well, I love him and I know he loves me. I’ve never asked him if he does, but I’ve told him before that I love him. I did recently ask him if he likes me. “Well, what do you think? Or, it’s something you know. What do you know?” he asked me. I loved that. He went from asking me to think to a definitive sense of knowing. Of course I know he likes me but I just needed reassurance that day. I needed to hear it. Only, he didn’t actually say the words, “I like you.” Therapists have a cunning way of getting you to solve your own problems. As we talked about whether he likes me, I started to feel better, and was able to answer my own question. Brilliant. Just amazingly brilliant.

I have just five minutes to wrap this up and write a conclusion paragraph, because my phone date is coming up. I’m not going to continue and pay for the dating app, but I did meet someone online who seems so in tune with himself, so eternally balanced and at peace with himself, that I am intrigued and want to talk with him some more over the phone. We exchanged numbers. I just ate a bagel which I had warmed up in the oven and I have fresh, organic blueberries waiting in the fridge for me for the morning, to go with my yogurt and granola. I am learning how to take better care of myself. I take a little more time in the mornings to prepare and eat my breakfast, rather than taking a breakfast bar to work and eating at my desk. It literally only takes five extra minutes out of my morning and it’s so worth it.

I think I am ready for the week. I know that tomorrow is Monday and I will be going to work like I do every day of the week. I’ve had this job for two and a half years now, and it’s the longest I’ve ever worked in one place. It is a stable job and I have job security because they rely on me and I’m the only one who knows how to do what I do. I would not be easily replaceable.

Writing out these words, letting my fingers flow and typing, is self-kindness. Letting me experience my thoughts and feelings on virtual paper is soothing and calming. I didn’t have to be afraid of writing in my virtual journal, although I was last month and earlier this month. I was afraid of what I might discover. What I have discovered through writing is that I am an incredibly powerful being. And that knowledge will carry me through the bad times, when I am not feeling well. It’s inevitable that my mind will go to dark and painful places in the future, but it is important to know that I have the power to bring myself out of those dark places too.

Things I Think About When I am Feeling Good

My dog. My dog. I call my dog “my dog” so much, he probably thinks it’s his name. I just love saying it to him. Who rescued who? I can say that he does have a really good life now, especially in comparison to what it must have been like on the streets. He is definitely my dog and our attachment is incredibly strong. All we want to do is be together, all the time. I didn’t want him to be alone the other night so I took his fluffy bed with me to the gym, only, he didn’t really spend any time on the bed. He just sat and walked around and waited for me to finish. But at least we had each other’s company. By the way, this is a little gym in my complex that no one goes to, which is why I could bring him. Did he rescue me? I would say so. Every night when I get home he comes to greet me (now that he is feeling better) and we make sure to reconnect before doing anything else. It’s what you do with your child. You’ve been separated all day and you need to make that extra effort to reconnect and remind your child that you love them, constantly, continuously.

It’s late morning and I have the heat on unnecessarily. It just got fixed and so I am indulging in extra coziness and warmth. I have my ocean waves app on in the background and I like to imagine what it is like walking by the ocean. Samuel (my dog) and I watched the sunset last night. We got there just in time to find a spot on the cliffs where we sat down. There were tons of people out, doing the same thing. It was very chilly and windy. Samuel was shaking and there I was feeling bad for him, wishing I had thought of putting on his sweater before we went out. What did I do? I took my sweater off and wrapped it around him. I would do that for any of my children. Yes, I was cold. The wind perused through my thin, long-sleeve shirt and the cold air bit my ears. But all of it was worth it in the end.

I’m not going to pay for the MeetMindful app subscription. It’s a dating app I just discovered. I met someone who seems really intellectual, intelligent, spiritual, and kind. But he lives three hours away. There just aren’t enough people in my city signed up for the app, it seems. Back to the drawing board. I’m thinking of trying to not date, because I really want to spend at least another six months working on myself. I have had mental emergencies lately, too many than I care for. And remembering that I was seriously suicidal twice last semester reminds me that I still have a lot of work to do in therapy. I told my therapist yesterday that I am never going to say goodbye to him, and that even when he is gone one day, he will still be with me, always and forever. It’s a concept he has been teaching me. That even when I am not with him, he is in my mind and my heart and he is always there with me. It’s a very comforting feeling.

My psychiatrist, Dr. D., reminded me that ending our therapy session is more like a pause than an ending. Because I really hate the end of sessions. I don’t like saying goodbye. It doesn’t sit well with me. It never has. It makes me uncomfortable, I think. But if I can see it in another light and a different perspective, then maybe it won’t seem so awful any more.

Listen to me. Just listen. Don’t I sound not stressed? Not stressed at all! Today is a nice day. I like to think of it as a “normal” day, where I am “normal” and not stressed or depressed. But I do realize that everyone’s “normal” takes different forms. My “normal” used to be reliving my trauma as if it were still happening, every day, and struggling to stay alive and fight the urge to kill myself every day. For years. It was like that for several years. Every day was an emergency in my mind. I was constantly in and out of the psychiatric hospital and emergency rooms. I became familiar with the inside of ambulances. I had mental emergencies, and then I had physical emergencies after an overdose. Of course, those never killed me and I’m really glad that I am still alive now. I thank my lucky stars.

I credit my therapist a lot with the reason I am still alive. I know I did the hard work myself too, but he was always there for me and always has been. He held hope for me when I had none and he has always believed in me. He has never given up on me. It takes one person, just one person, to make a difference in someone’s life. And he is that person for me. I explained it to someone new yesterday in terms of attachment theory. There are four types of attachments which you can form with your primary caregiver when you are very young. It’s either secure, insecure avoidant, insecure ambivalent, or disorganized. I really don’t know which attachment described my relationship with my mother when I was young, but it definitely was not secure. It was probably a bit of every one of the others. It’s not anybody’s fault, it’s just how things were.

Generational hurt passes on to the next generation, unless a person has made a concerted effort to heal those wounds. My mother had me when she was very young, and went directly from her overbearing father’s home, to getting married and living with my father. It was a limited world view and she did not know of any other way of raising children than what she had experienced. I’m sure she tried to not be like her father. We all do that. She still exhibits those features, in not wanting to “bother” us when she calls, since her father was always intrusive and poor boundaries and a lack of communication of feelings set up for a very-far-from-ideal relationship between my mother and her father. When I was growing up we weren’t close to her father. We also happened to live in a different country.

But nothing will change the fact that she yelled at us when we were young, and as school-age children hit us (it never left bruises but it hurt and made us cry and was startling and unexpected every time.) As a teenager I held a lot of resentment toward my mother for her having hit us. She stopped hitting us the day my twin brother hit her back and almost broke her nose. He held a lot of anger within him, for a long time, even throughout his twenties. But he and I have both healed from our childhood wounds, at least for the most part. The person who was supposed to be our rock, our safety base from which to explore the world, our nurturer, was also the person who hurt us.

Being yelled at hurt my feelings. She was never the huggy type, not from my recollection. So when I was eight, for example, I remember her apologizing with words, but not with physical affection. I think a nice, tight hug along with “I’m sorry” would have had more impact and been more meaningful to me. I don’t want to get deeper into these memories because they are in the past now and not pleasant. I have the power where to focus my mind, and when I know that something is too much, I have the power to shift my attention.

Yesterday during therapy I took a bathroom break. I never used to want to take bathroom breaks during a therapy session because I thought I would be missing out on something if I were gone from the session. Over a long time, I learned that taking a bathroom break is helpful for many reasons. One, I get to be comfortable, because I don’t have to hold my pee, which can be distracting and hinders being fully present and concentrating. Two, it’s a break. It’s a break from the subject matter at hand. Yesterday I could have waited. But I took a break at the exact moment when I felt like I was going to mentally explode. I was holding it all in while my therapist was explaining something. I was assertive, and proud of myself for it. I said to him, “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I have to go to the bathroom.” He stopped in the middle of his sentence for me to say that and as I walked by him he said encouragingly, “good self care.” I loved it. It was perfect. It was a good reminder that taking mental breaks, getting up and moving, those are all good things.

It’s good reinforcement, a good reminder that self care is important and that I am in control, and I have the power to direct my life in the way I want it to go. If something is happening that I don’t like, I can always walk away. You’d think that would be intuitive, but I never used to know that. I never knew you could walk away from something you didn’t like. I never even knew I had a choice. I felt like I had to be there, and endure the suffering, the abuse, the pain, that it would never end, and that the only way out was to kill myself. I now know that there is a different way of living, and I am grateful for it. I want to share this new way of living, the peacefulness, mindfulness, self-compassion, self-kindness, I want to share all of this amazing new knowledge and experiences with other people. That is why, one day, I want to become a therapist. Only, not now. That is something for the future, I have decided. In the meantime, I can still make a difference, still model an emotionally balanced and healthy way of living, for my mother, and for others around me. Just by being in this world, I know I already make a difference. That knowledge is profound and gives my self-confidence a boost of power I never knew I had before.

I love being a puppy mom. I am the best puppy mom ever! I mean, I know I’m great. I just got up to pee and he came into the restroom area from the living room just to check on me. Just to see that I’m okay and that I’m still here and that I didn’t actually leave. It makes me think of the concept of object permanence, which I know he has mastered. But it reassures him, I think, to check on me and follow me around the house. Sometimes when I am sitting on the toilet with my pants down at my ankles, he licks my bare leg. Any dog parent will be familiar with this, and in terms of a concept, any parent in general would be familiar with the concept of “no privacy” from your children, even when you are going pee! It’s like peeing becomes a family event or something. You sit on the toilet and your toddler is there, ready to hand you toilet paper so you can wipe your bum, and then the father comes in to wash his hands, and the dog is just hanging out, and all of a sudden, the whole family is in the bathroom. It’s a family event! At least, that’s what I’ve heard how it can be. I don’t have a human child, just a dog child.

I just titled my blog. I always choose the title when I am done writing. Based on the last paragraph I could have called this piece, “no privacy in the bathroom,” which sounds funny, but which doesn’t give credit to the rest of the piece before that. So, skimming these paragraphs, I realize I have written and reflected on the past. And that’s okay. There’s nothing not okay about it. The difference is, I am feeling happy and balanced today. It has been a good weekend even though my therapy session yesterday was very challenging and I cried. But even if we go into deep, uncomfortable material in terms of our conversation, I always pull myself out of it when I feel done. My therapist helps and supports me with this, and I always feel better when I leave my session than I did when I went in. I always leave with more clarity and understanding about things that have happened in my life, whether they happened last week or a lifetime ago.

I used to think I had to record the sessions. In fact, I started clandestinely recording our therapy sessions with my recorder turned on in my purse, which just isn’t right. It’s just not something you do, not informing the other person. It’s not nice. I felt bad about it but I was afraid to tell him. Then I finally did tell him. But I still hid the recorder. I felt like I had to secretly record his voice so that I could have something tangible to hold onto after the session ended (since I hate endings) and so that I could listen to his voice when I wasn’t with him. I stopped recording a long time ago because I finally realized, after all of these years, that he is indeed never going to leave me. I was always terrified that he might leave me. Nothing he could say or reassure me with would have made me believe otherwise. But now I know for a fact that he will always be there for me, and never leave me. It’s a relief, knowing that. Such a relief, you have no idea. My wounds are slowly healing and I feel as if I am already far into my recovery, even though I still have a long road to traverse ahead of me.

 

A Comforting Evening

For a while there I was afraid of writing in my blog for fear of what might be discovered. I didn’t want to write down my thoughts and my feelings. I was just living my life! I didn’t have time to talk about the things I have been doing and experiencing because my life is so full it doesn’t leave me with time or energy to do so. Now I am balancing things out. I am taking things slow. I made sure to fully enjoy my Saturday. I did a lot but it did not feel like too much and I made sure that I never felt rushed. I practiced patience and was mindful of my actions. I may have even been mindful of my self-talk, but I’m not sure how that went. That task takes a lot of guts, looking at yourself.

I am going to describe what my life looks like in this very moment, what it feels like and what I am experiencing. I am sitting cross-legged at the edge of my light green suede couch where I always sit. My white blanket is luxuriously sprawled out over my lap. On top of that I feel the weight of my 12-lb dog snuggled up, napping, with his head buried under part of the blanket. I have eaten dinner and so my stomach is full. Before that we had ventured out into the cold afternoon weather to watch the sunset. I can smell lavender, which is coming from the diffuser my roommate lets me borrow when I am not feeling well (which was earlier this week).

I have two delicious candles lit: vanilla and the other, some kind of flower aroma. There are the Christmas tree twinkle lights that we hung along the top of our wall, and having them lit feels like elegance. I am in a romantic setting with myself and I am loving it. I feel calm and a sense of peace because I saw my therapist today. We had a difficult session and I worked really hard. I am feeling proud of myself for making it through the session and I always find my sessions very helpful in terms of how I feel about myself and my perspective on the world and others. Things which were not clear to me become clearer.

I just ate a piece of dark chocolate (I have discovered that I prefer milk chocolate… I must remember to tell this to my Mum). I can hear my dog’s breathing and the light hum of the water in the diffuser. The heat is set at 75 degrees and it’s early enough in the evening that I am not yet feeling tired. This is really wonderful and I am celebrating this experience by writing about it.

I signed up for a dating app called MeetMindful. It has a really unique name which is pleasant. The idea of mindfulness caught my attention right away. I had never heard of this app but was scrolling through my Facebook feed while at work yesterday and saw a promoted ad pop up. I clicked on the link and fifteen minutes later my dating profile was complete. I get two or three free days of messaging ability, and then I have to start paying for it, which I think I will. It’s a great marketing ploy, to give someone a taste of how good something is, and then threaten to take it away unless they pay for it. I already have two telephone dates set up, although these men are not exactly in my city. Having a relationship with someone who lives 3 hours away is doable but not exactly ideal. I would rather have a twenty minute drive between myself and a prospective lover. Lover… lover. I really like the sound of that word. I had a sexual partner for a month last year, but he wasn’t what you would consider a lover. The passion just wasn’t there.

In the background I have a packet of paper with the title, “how to start a non-profit corporation.” I got the information from a local non-profit organization which offers free mentoring to individuals looking to start their own business. The mentors are retired businessmen, former CEO’s, and the likes. I’m glad I found them.

I want to start up a non-profit to help at-risk teens build confidence and emotional resilience through creative arts workshops. My target population would be foster youth, low income, and those diagnosed with mental illness. I think it’s going to be a small program for the first few years, but I do hope to expand it so that we can serve more people. The tricky part is going to be getting funding. I already have plans for marketing on social media and I bought the .com, .org, and .net URLs. I don’t have a business plan on paper yet, and need to apply for the 501(c)(3) status with the IRS.

I have one board member, who is a friend of mine. I am hoping to recruit a former professor of mine as the second board member. Apparently board members are supposed to help with fundraising, but I’m not sure how that is going to go. I have to learn to trust other people, that they will get the job done. I need to learn how to delegate. I would like to be able to lower my expectations in terms of perfectionism because I know that another person would not do as meticulously detailed of a job than I would, no matter what the task. I also have very high expectations around professionalism, which I think I will keep.

The creative arts workshops are going to include the following: performing arts (acting), art therapy, music therapy with a drumming circle, and creative writing. For those who find that they can express themselves better on paper than out loud, the creative writing workshops will help. For those who might be uncomfortable performing around other people, this will push their boundaries to a level which they are still comfortable. The number of students in each workshop will be limited to 8 – 10 to keep the therapeutic personal attention and environment present. The workshops would take place for a couple hours on a Saturday late morning, say from 10:00 – 12:00.

There is a lot to take into consideration. There are a lot of things I will need to learn, such as business and management skills, as well as how to be around teens. The agency where I volunteer with the kiddos in the adoption support services program is allowing me to also start volunteering with the older kids in the foster youth program. They get together on the last Monday of each month in the evenings. If this goes well and I like it, I will want to find a way to spend more time with the foster teens. I am lucky that I excel in the arena of customer service due to my career, and that I have quite a bit of knowledge around marketing. Those are areas in which I am comfortable.

This whole non-profit thing, it may or may not work out. Like my roommate pointed out, the idea isn’t going anywhere, so what’s the rush? It will always be there. I am taking things very slowly, talking with a lot of people about my idea and getting some feedback. I will give myself a year and a half to put this idea together into an actual service/program/entity. I want to start the program at the beginning of a school year and there’s no way I can do it by this Fall. So I am aiming for Fall 2019. I think that sounds reasonable.

My telephone date is coming upon us, and so, I will close out for the night. The sweetness of my coconut water is carrying me through the time in this relaxing environment. I will have to move and stretch a little lest I become stiff. My muscles are starting to ache a bit. I’m young, but not that young. It’s all about perspective. Deep breaths and self awareness bode for great self care, which I am actively practicing. I know that I am going to enjoy sleeping with my dog curled up under the covers tonight, as we do every night. But it’s the weekend and so I get to sleep in tomorrow and stroke his fur and hold him tight for cuddles after we wake up. I am finally living my life the way I want to live it. This is my life and no one will ever be able to take that away from me.