Current State of Affairs

Re-invigorated by the overwhelming positive response from my last blog, I shall attempt to humour you with some fanciful details of my current life as it stands, which is not so unlike my blog from last week. I had a mostly soporific weekend punctuated by a lovely dinner with friends. (Yes I do have some friends here in this not-so-new area of the world… it will soon be almost a year since I moved here). I have a new four-legged trailer, literally, attached at my hip (okay, figuratively); this creature wants to make sure I’m not out of his sight at all. I’m surprised, as I would deem him to be slightly neglected due to my depressive sleeping activities, but he seems to want to beg to differ. It’s as if he’s just begging to be petted. And so, the petting shall commence shortly.


In the meantime, I realized that whilst one of the hundred or so residents of my complex is using the gym, I might best make use of my time by doing some much-needed laundry. I seem pretty level-headed as of late. That means that my emotional state-of-being is even-keeled and I even feel invigorated today, which is surprising, it being a Monday. I’m impressed with myself. In fact, I’m doing so well that I’m seeing my therapist in two weeks rather than weekly.


“You’re only going to harm yourself, and then pass out,” the employee of the county mental health ward said to me, as I had barricaded myself from intruders into the room, only to wrap a towel around my neck in defiance of the insidious beasts that ran the ward. Did this have to do with my post-traumatic stress disorder? Probably. It’s a memory that popped up from January in the aftermath of my suicide attempt. Evidently I am still processing this memory. Healing from PTSD is not linear. No one can claim it to be so. Trauma memories pop up time and time again as intrusively as salty anchovies on a pizza… Can you tell I’m about to eat a pizza? 

I don’t know why that memory popped up but I’m not opposed to it either. It brings no significant feelings of remorse, more of disdain for the staff at county mental health. 

Before dinner on Saturday we stopped by FLAX art and design, a fabulous art supply warehouse where I dared to purchase a whatchamacallit… one of those things that you mix paint on to then apply haphazardly, in my case, to a canvas. I also spent $95 on stickers, gorgeous fake tattoos, a fancy set of colouring pens, and a mindfulness colouring book, among other things, which are intended to be gifts to a certain someone down the road (for her birthday). Hint: she’ll be 9 years old in a few months, must be a pretty special someone! I’m just delighted that I even have a gift for her this year. I’m pretty adept at getting birthday cards for special people but not so practised at buying gifts.

A little whiny creature is reminding me that dinner is sitting on the counter and has yet to be eaten. It’s cooling down from the oven. I am also reminded of how fortunate I am to have my very own apartment… that I don’t have to share it with anyone else. My dog can whine and I can talk out loud on the speaker phone without having to apologize to anyone.

The pizza was delicious and the scraps went to a certain someone who was begging for them. What would we do without our furry or feathered beings? I am reminded that I have to do better by him in the form of more frequent baths and medications to be dispensed daily instead of merely when I remember. He is truly a pleasure to come home to, lest the turds I find because he couldn’t wait to go outside.

All in all, things are well. Isn’t that great to hear? I couldn’t have imagined this being the case five months ago. Thanks for being a part of my journey and I look forward to checking in with you again soon. Peace.

A Letter to my Therapist

To My Therapist,

I don’t understand why I keep looking to the past. Why I can’t just stay in the present. It’s like I’m trying to look for some kind of proof. Something that proved something. Only, I don’t know what that is. Why did I go back through my emails and download old modeling photos of myself? Why did I look at those photos from 2008 and the years surrounding it? What was I looking for? What do I want to prove? Who do I want to prove it to? Why why why why why.


I wrote a blog today. That prompted me to look at past blogs. I skimmed them. I don’t know if it does me any good to read what I’ve already written. Gotten my thoughts and feelings out once. Why read those words again and potentially dredge up old feelings again? Why can’t I leave it alone. Do you know I was abused? Raped? Sold for sex? Of course you do. You’ve been listening to me talk for over ten years. But I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it. The one thing I do know and believe is that you will never leave me. One day you may retire but you will still be there. One day you may no longer be on earth but everything you have taught me will be a part of me still then. Feelings come and go and I remain. That’s the most important thing I have learned from you. I want you to tell me that phrase over and over again. I won’t get mad at you. It won’t get old. Tell me, please. Tell me that my feelings will come and then they will go. Tell me that I will still remain in existence.


I didn’t kill myself. “Not yet.” At least, I haven’t killed myself yet. But the funny thing is, and there is nothing funny about it, that I don’t want to kill myself anymore. Not right now. I don’t want to kill myself. I don’t want to die.
Tonight I ate a lot of cheese and carbs. I had Trader Joe’s gorgonzola gnocchi microwaved from frozen. I ate the whole packet. Then I had a slice of cheesecake, which I defrosted from the freezer by leaving it out on the counter for a while. It was pretty good! I enjoy food. Eating food is a part of living. I am alive. I do what living people do. I eat and poop and go to work and sleep and get up the next day and do it again. I do what living people do, which means that I must be alive and living. I never thought I would make it this far. I never thought that I would, in 2021, still be alive. The grand master plan was to be dead long ago. But that didn’t happen.


Thank you for listening to me. Thank you for being my one person audience. Thank you for always reading the words that I write and for never giving up on me. Thank you for allowing me to reschedule our next appointment although I would have much rather kept the appointment, but I am prioritizing seeing my brother over seeing you. Living people also have priorities. I make priorities. I decide what gets to happen in my life. My life, my choice. I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do. I don’t have to have sex with anyone if I don’t want to. I get to decide now. I get to make those decisions. I get to see you, or not. I get to be me. I get to keep on living.


Talk to you soon.

Yet Another Suicide Plan Averted

It’s half past ten o’clock in the evening on a Saturday night. I was, frankly, supposed to be dead by now. I’m not sure what triggered me. Whether it was staying in bed all day for days on end and being angry with myself for that, or the violent television programs that I’ve unfortunately been watching. Whether it was triggered by a flashback of my traumatic past (I think I would remember a flashback) or by my incessant self-hatred, which also stems from being abused. All I can say is that my therapist is in the business of saving lives and helping people live their best life possible. I am grateful for him.

Twenty-four hours ago I sent a message to my brother saying goodbye. He promptly phoned me and we talked for a while. I felt better after we had talked, and less suicidal. My plan had been to go through with my suicide plan after seeing my therapist one last time for our regular scheduled session. But as usual, with a good night’s sleep, and with having spoken with my brother, I was much less determined to kill myself. And by the time my therapy session was over, I had decided to not go through with it.

Am I glad to be here still? Yes. Plus, death is violent, no matter how you try and sugarcoat it for yourself. Me causing my own death would have been a violent act. Plenty of people, including my dog, would have been left with confusion and heartache. It was very impactful at the end of our session when my therapist, who has known me for twelve years, said that he would have been sad if I had killed myself.

But I was so determined to do it. I was sure that this was the answer and solution to solve my pain. Not healing. There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to be healed because that would take away the option of suicide as a way out. If I were healed, fully and completely, then I wouldn’t want to kill myself anymore. I’ve been suicidal for almost a decade, off and on. What would I be without the option to die by suicide? I would have to live out the rest of my life and, well, that scares the shit out of me.

I’m glad to be here still. I’m glad I get another chance at life. I get to have the option of having a family one day. I get to have the chance at holding my brother’s baby in my arms and becoming an aunt one day. I don’t have to end things now. I am “free, pure, and blessed,” as one of my former mentors used to say. Any positive self talk I can get, I will take it, as it’s far and few in between. I am here to stay.

So I’m here. “Free, pure, and blessed,” as a former mentor of mine used to say. I have my life ahead of me. For this damaged yet vibrant woman in her mid-to-late thirties, there will be a tomorrow. I have another chance at life. I have the opportunity to continue healing. I have the chance to grow. I might have a family some day. I might get to experience the joy of becoming an aunt and holding my brother’s baby in my arms. Just maybe, the darkest days won’t hold be captive any longer and I can break through the muddy muck of awful thoughts to find a morcel of hope which will carry me through until tomorrow, and then the next day and the next, one day at a time.

Struggles = Cuddles and Self Care

It’s been a long time since I’ve allowed myself to put words in written form to my experience. My dog is laying by me and asking for pets. Really, this whole month has been a struggle, from beginning to end. I don’t like my job any longer. There’s too much to do at work and there is only one of me. I am struggling so much. Every day is a huge labor of I don’t know what because it certainly isn’t a labor of love. Help me, God… is anyone out there? Can anyone hear me? So, that’s pretty much how I feel.

I should be posting on my Patreon site right now, my monthly subscribers are due for a post but I just cannot bring myself to do it. Why why why. Dinner? Three pita breads with olive spread and some organic grapes. That’s all I could manage to do for myself. Thank goodness for frozen meals for my lunches at work. Tomorrow will be a long day and I am not looking forward to it. Sometimes, like right now, I wish I could just sleep all day. I would do it if I had the time and I’ve done it before. But my therapist wants me to get to church and schedule other activities. I’m supposed to act opposite to what my depressive behaviours are telling me.

I really don’t want to do anything right now. I barely even want to be writing. But I can finish this paragraph, and then see if another one starts. Sometimes you just have to take it step by step and do what they call “baby steps” until you get there, whatever the “there” for you is. In this case, getting “there” is the end of the day and here I am, thankfully, very grateful.

My Amazon Alexa is playing meditation music in the background and that is helping. My dog is snoring. I have twinkle lights on in my room which look very pretty and lend enough light to where I don’t have to have any other lights on. I wish I could stay in this environment all day long. Alas, tomorrow is another workday. I just hate my job. I should be looking for new jobs but you know the funny thing is, at the end of the day, I just don’t have the energy. I don’t have any energy to apply to new jobs and the few I’ve applied for have not selected me for interviews. Can we do this again? Let’s do today all over again and I’ll still be wishing for eternal sleep…

A Reflection on Coming Back to the Present Moment

I have just been waiting for this moment, a moment where I can sit down and have the motivation to write a journal entry in my blog. I think about it a lot but the actuality of doing it is more daunting, even cumbersome. So here I am on a Sunday morning drinking French Vanilla coffee from a special mug with my small dog in my lap and laptop off to my side. I can hear birds chirping as I have my patio door open, which typically is a rare occurrence. The weather is so nice outside, I just decided to slide the door open.

These are sensory things, grounding things, things to keep me in the present moment. If I notice what is around me, and follow my senses of touch, taste, sound and smell (am I missing one?) then I can stay in the room. However, my mind wanders and goes to other places, far-off distant lands which have nothing to do with my present surroundings. I suppose that is called dissociation. I can be sitting with my therapist and he can be talking and I won’t have registered any of the sentences because I was still busy in my mind bringing myself back to the present moment. My therapist is kind and patient and he doesn’t mind repeating himself for me.

Last week I was suicidal. That was maybe a week and a half ago actually. When I am feeling suicidal it’s like there is an emergency happening in my mind and there are invisible and silent alarm bells going off in my body telling me that I am in crisis. I can be sitting quietly at my work desk and someone could walk by and not notice anything unusual, whereas in reality I am panicking and frantically texting with the crisis hotline to get help and calm the emotional storm. But that’s really what it is, isn’t it? It’s a big storm, something you really have no control over, but you have to hold onto the fact that it will eventually pass and the waters will be calm again and the clouds will be gone, letting the sunlight shine in. For many years I lived in a fog of dark, dark clouds and the possibility of the sun shining into my being was close to nil. These days, things are different. I still feel suicidal but I seem to be able to get out of that state more quickly than ever in the past.

Just over six months ago I took an overdose to end my life. You see, however, I didn’t really want to end my life as in dying. I wanted to kill myself as a punishment to feed my self-hatred and mostly to end the suffering which consisted of overwhelming emotional pain and a deep sea of sadness. There is more sadness these days in my life than anger. Yesterday, seven years ago, is the day I packed up my car and left my abuser. It was either going to be leaving him or kill myself because I couldn’t go on living like that. I have many memories and at times they are intrusive, and I find it best for me not to verbalize any of those memories, lest they become more real and concrete in my mind to the possibility of retraumatizing me. So these images and memories come up as flashes in my mind which involve the visual aspect of memory as well as thoughts and words associated with that memory. As long as I don’t say any of this out loud then the images will fade away. If I were to describe them it would just extend my discomfort.

Those images, those flashes of memory, used to scare me and make me feel that I was living those moments over again and again. I couldn’t sleep with the light off because many bad things happened to me at night. I have to remind myself even now, that nothing he did to me was ever my fault. He was ill in his mind and the things he did to me were not okay and not normal. The sad thing is though, that it was my normal. I didn’t know any different. I was young and naive and I didn’t believe in divorce. Even though I’m the one who physically left (he changed the locks to our home right away) there was a big part of me that couldn’t imagine life without him. He had controlled every aspect of my life including what I wore and how I got my hair cut. I had no say, and when I did try to refuse or speak up or say no, it would be met with emotional turmoil because, in a sense, he punished me by making me feel bad and by making me believe that everything that happened was my fault and not his.

That’s enough talk of the past. I just realized I was starting to go to a bad place in my mind and I needed to come back to the present. I was verbalizing things from the past which are better left there, in the past. I can hear my dog snoring in my lap, which is very comforting and which I happen to think is adorable. My coffee is now luke-warm but still tastes good. I think I am going to make scrambled eggs for breakfast and of course, I have to use a whole bunch of salted butter, to make it really good! You see? Now I actually have a smile on my face and there is less tension on my cheeks, forehead and eyebrows. I’m back where I need to be, in the present where I can hear the birds singing. My roommate just woke up and her noise will also help keep me in the present.

From suicidal one week to looking to become a first-time homebuyer! Really. Due to circumstances, which is that my landlord wants to sell the place I live to me or to someone else and that I can’t afford it, I have begun to work with a real estate agent. I know nothing about home buying and now I am about to hopefully become an expert at it. I can’t afford much but I am hoping to buy a two bedroom, two bathroom condo. My commute to work will be extended by at least an additional half hour if not more because I cannot afford to live any longer in the central location of town where I live now. So there you have it. I’m thinking about my future whereas just prior to that I didn’t want my future to be continued at all. It’s just that, I don’t actually want to die. I just want the pain and sadness to end. That’s what plagues me. That’s what makes me suffer. That’s what needs to change and I myself need to make that happen. I’m going to keep working hard at it every day and when bad things come up in my mind, I will always do my best to come back to where I am in the now, the present, the reality of things. For memories can seem real but they are not and they are not happening any longer. That’s the hardest thing, to remember they aren’t actually happening when I’m remembering them.

Thanks for reading, I really appreciate it. You know, very few people read these words that I write yet I appreciate every single person who lets me know they read my journal entry by clicking on the “like” button. It warms my heart that my story, my experience, my words, became a part of your life if only for five or ten minutes whilst you were reading this. Thank you for existing, thank you for being you, thank you for gracing my words with your attention, and I hope your day continues with peace and comfort. Just remember, when you are suffering, you are never alone. Let me say it again: you are never alone.

I am okay now ~ a reflection.

Mindfulness Meditation. It’s what I just now attempted to do. I managed it for a whole ten minutes by focusing on my breath. When my mind wanders, gently bring it back to my breath. According to Dan Siegel, a wonderful psychiatrist and researcher who has written several books, we can rewire our brain and our neural networks just by practising focused attention. If I am not in tune with my emotions, or if my emotions are overwhelming and dysregulated, I can practice mindfulness and eventually that practice, even if it’s only five minutes a day, will help me, in the long run, to be more aware of what is going on inside. Dan Siegel calls it “the sea inside.

I am drinking hot tea. I have delicious-smelling candles on. Today is Sunday. Instead of going to church, I decided to cook steel-cut oatmeal, which takes about half an hour to cook, and I opted for my mindfulness practice to be my church today. Sometimes we just need to be quiet and calm. Sometimes being around lots of people, albeit that they are friendly and smiling, can be, well, just not the right thing at that time. We are all different and we all have different needs. Today my need was turning inward and spending time with myself. It really feels good. I even watered my plants today! That’s a huge accomplishment because it doesn’t often get done. My avocado plant which I grew from seed is about a foot and a half tall and over half a year old. I am very proud of this accomplishment.

Dan Siegel also talks about “the rim of awareness.” This is in his book called “Mindsight,” which I am listening to. It is read by the author himself. The rim of awareness is like a bicycle wheel. There is the outer rim, then the spokes, which are like our different thoughts, and then the inner circle which is the “hub.” I think of the hub as my safe place. Right now my focus is on feeling safe, and if that means I need to sleep twelve hours a day because it feels safer than experiencing my strong emotions, then so be it. I used to get very angry with myself for oversleeping. There was a time in my life when I have slept and stayed in bed for 22 hours a day, multiple days in a row. Now I am not so depressed and this sleeping a lot is still a protective measure and a defence mechanism. I am defending myself against the difficult thoughts and emotions which come up.

Now that I have been in therapy for over ten years, well, I have a better understanding of the sea inside. I can name my emotions. Another saying in psychology is, “name it to tame it.” It’s true. If you can identify and put words and a name to your emotions, then it gives those emotions less power by the simple blessing of your greater awareness. It’s a powerful thing, awareness, conscious awareness and focused attention.

In my mind, it has been many years since I left the man who had abused and controlled me for almost a decade of my life. I left him in 2012, not knowing whether I could survive without him because he made sure I depended on him entirely, in every aspect, and also knowing that I would not survive another day living with him because I was extremely suicidal and had attempted to take my life several times already. I am safe now. I have to remind myself that no one is abusing me. No one is criticising me or putting me down. No one is telling me what to do. No one is making me do things I don’t want to do. No one is hurting me on the inside or on the outside, physically. I pray to God that he protects my mind, my soul, my body and my spirit. I pray that I remain safe and that the nightmares don’t come back. He has been in my dreams lately, occasionally, but he no longer scares me. I have my power back. I have the power I always knew I had but was too afraid to exert.

I am okay now. I just have to keep telling myself that. Sometimes I feel not okay, and those times are difficult to get through. As my therapist always reminds me, “feelings come and go but I remain.” It works every time he tells me that. It’s like a mantra which gives me comfort and reminds me that I don’t have to let my emotions take over and control me. I get to choose to be okay and I am choosing to be safe.

 

New Year’s Hopes

It’s the new year. I could say I have been waiting for this day to come, but I haven’t. It just came. But I am more than just surviving. I am thriving. At least, that’s what I would like to think. I’ve been back at work for three weeks now. After a leave of absence of three months, being back and even doing well is quite remarkable.

Today is a sunny day. It’s nice. I hope that it will be a sunny year. We often think of bad things, like how I spend more than I make and that that is a problem. But bad things aside, there is room for hope. I hope that I never have to go to the hospital again. I hope that I don’t have any more suicidal episodes. I hope that I can just live my life. “Speranza” is the word in Italian for “hope” and it pops into my mind now and then.

April 13 of this year will have been the seven-year anniversary since I left my abusive ex-husband. Seven years is a long time, actually. Then it will be ten, then twenty, and I’ll have made such a meaningful life for myself that I won’t even have to look back at what was. Of course, there will be a day, I know it, I’m sure of it, that I won’t feel the need to count the years or give any credence or energy to the fact that the anniversary of my departure has gone by. I’ll just be living my life.

I’ve been writing a lot of poetry lately. I honestly don’t know if my poetry will ever actually get published, but I am okay with that. I share my poetry with people I care about and occasionally I will hear back on how much they appreciated reading my poem. Appreciation goes a long way. Other than poetry, I haven’t actually been writing a lot and I know I need to get back to it. I have my leather-bound journal that I write in occasionally, but the two blogs I have running have been rather neglected. I love being able to express myself with words. The written word is something very special. It’s not like oration, not one bit.  You get to put a little bit more thought into something that is written but not said.

I am feeling hopeful. The emphasis is on the “am.” As in, I am. I am and I will be and I will just be. I want to exist. I want to be here, on this earth, living my life. No one is telling me what to do, and I am in charge of my own life. After a lifetime, it seemed, of having every aspect of my life controlled, the feeling of having control of my own destiny is quite remarkable too. How do I describe this feeling? It’s a feeling of satisfaction, of comfort, of self-worth. Can self-worth be a feeling? I know it’s a state of being so I’ll include it in my “feeling” category.

I know I’m going to be okay. I just know it. My dog has been with me for a year and a half already. Every day I walk him, I feed him, and I pet him. I give of myself to him and for me this is healing. Doing everyday things is healing and it’s a part of building my life. If I can just keep on doing everyday things, with calm and peace, then those days will become months and then years, and then a whole lifetime. What am I going to do with my life? Am I going to have children of my own? I still have some time for that left. A lot can happen in five years, and in five years I will be forty years old. From a certain perspective, that’s quite young still. That means that I still have my “whole” life ahead of me. So many things can happen in the decades to come. I just want to be a part of it. I choose to be an active part of my own life. I choose to live. I choose life.

Letter to Myself

Dear Me,

You are worthy. You are so incredibly worthy. You matter. You matter to me. You matter to your Mum and your brother and your other family and friends. You are compassionate. You are caring. You make a positive difference in other people’s lives just by existing. Your existence brings joy to your mother. You used to be her baby and you are still her child even though you are all grown up. She loves you.

Your therapist cares for you. If he didn’t he wouldn’t have been there for you, regardless of your ability to pay him or not, every week for ten years. He has always been there for you. It’s okay to feel angry at people you love. You have a right to your feelings. You have a right to feel whatever you are feeling and to have those feelings be validated.

Here is what your girlfriend said to you recently, let’s memorialize it once and for all: You are beautiful, inside and out. You are intelligent. You are intuitive. You are compassionate. You are giving of your time and love. You are also worthy in every respect.

It’s easy to forget these things when you are feeling down and depressed. It’s not always possible to control your depression but you can take steps to have a more positive outlook. You can remind yourself that you are worthy and that you matter. When you feel like taking your own life know that this feeling will pass. Feelings are there to inform us, and we don’t have to act on them. Practise opposite action and do something nice for yourself when you don’t feel like practising kindness to yourself.

Remember your GRAPES from CBT: Gentle with Self, Relaxation, Accomplishment, Pleasure, Exercise and Social. Remember that doing something in each of these categories every day actually does help. Plan it out at the beginning of the day and try to keep that plan in mind. Remember to take deep breaths and let your belly expand. Don’t just breathe with your chest. Use your gut. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. You can do this.

You are strong. You are resilient. You have been through so much worse. You have overcome some of the darkest of times. You are who you are and nothing less. Who you are is everything and you are everything that matters. You are the best you that you can be. Your existence, your well-being is paramount and your survival means everything. Each day that you live you bring hope to others. Each day that you live you bring meaning to the lives of those who were not so fortunate and who lost their battle with depression.

Remember that depression is an illness and you can fight it. You have the tools. Rely on the people around you. Reach out and do not isolate yourself. Pick up the phone and call someone. If you are still reading, then you have proven to yourself that you don’t have to act on your feelings. You can use distractions. You can remind yourself that you are loved, and how much you are loved. Don’t forget that God loves you too. Prayer can help and there is no set way to do it. You can pray however you want and whenever you want. The Lord is here to help you.

With lots of love,

Me

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-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.