So an update amid an international health emergency. Wow. My life has changed in a bunch of ways aside from this crisis, plus, well, there’s the crisis.

I did get one of the contracts I was interviewing for as I described in my last post. There was a two week wait, and I started 2nd week of March. Four days later, most employees including me moved to working from home.

I’m very lucky in the timing. A week later, and I wouldn’t have been able to start. And if I hadn’t gotten work at that point, I’d be unlikely to get anything now when businesses are battened down for the storm.

I am very very relieved to have work, at least for a while. At first, I worried they’d quickly lay me off again, but that hasn’t happened. I spoke with my manager about this, and he said my project is vital to help more employees work from home. So. Quite the coincidence. I confess I’m not doing much, as the manager is in emergency mode, trying to outfit a large company to work completely offsite. He’d have to give me work but he doesn’t have time to think about it. Luckily I’m at home, on the clock, so as long as I’m available to work, I can bill.

I also acquired a new health diagnosis two weeks ago, with unfortunate timing. I went for some tests end of January, and one of them just came back positive. I now have a type of lung disease, similar to tuberculosis, but not infectious. Not a great thing to have with a plague which attacks the lungs on the loose. So I have been self-isolating more than most. I don’t go to grocery stores or anywhere except for walks.

At first I panicked quite a bit, sure I was going to die. However, I’ve now calmed down. None of us knows what is in the future. It’s a scary time for all, and a whole lot of other people are also at extra risk.

Because of the crisis, I likely won’t be able to see a lung specialist for months. At first, I wanted to start treatment right away, but on a virtual visit with my family doctor, he advised I should wait. They don’t always treat this because the treatment is quite severe and fairly often is ineffective.

Well. I’m not very sick now, and this illness is slow to develop, so I’m likely fine.

So a lot for me to get used to – new job, all new people, new diagnosis, and mega international health crisis. I’m slowly getting used to it all.

I’ve had some contact with friends and also groups online through zoom. My church has been helpful with online services and then small online groups after. I’ve attended an online singing group. And getting used to seeing my face on camera while I talk to others…it takes getting used to. In some ways, online meetings are easier than physical meetings – no big decision on whether to attend or no for instance. Attending is just a click away.

My therapy is interrupted for a week. My choice basically. Then we will meet online later this week. I’m in a good place with therapy at the moment and this doesn’t cause me stress. When I was in the midst of being desperately attached to Ron, or rather when child parts were, it would have been agonizing to skip a week of therapy and I would have worried about it intensely. But although I quite like Martine, it’s more in the way I might like a teacher of a class I enjoy, or maybe a friend I enjoy spending time with, rather than that desperate clinging attachment of a small child to it’s parent.

It’s hard for me to think of much else but covid all the time, but I know my mental health depends on the effort to do this. I’ve heard some advice on great books to tackle now that we all have all this time available, but for me, I think I need very light reads. I literally fall asleep every time I try to tackle a more meaty book. And comedy shows, or at least very straightforward types of entertainment. Just to try and relax from all the stress and uncertainty.

I’m still carrying on with writing out fears and resentments once a day, followed by walking meditation, which I do twice a day, and I think it’s steadying me. I’m trying to remember grounding stuff as well and that’s helpful.

I am feeling fairly positive about all the Canadian government restrictions aimed at having people keep to the social distancing. I think we’re about a week ahead of the States in our measures, even though it would have been better to do all this even a week sooner. But I want to see us take the crisis seriously. I believe that we can, at the least, slow this down so the healthcare system can cope.

All blog readers, be safe and be well. We’ve got this, as I saw written in chalk on a sidewalk on one of my walks. We are strong, we are inventive, we will come through this.


I’ve decided to change the focus of the blog a bit. I don’t seem to be comfortable anymore sharing my therapy notes. I’m still trying to write down what happens in sessions, but am keeping that private. So here I’ll still talk about therapy type issues, and a bit of my own life, but more just as I feel like writing.

First of all, the job interviews situation has picked up, and I’ve had four different interviews recently. Not totally sure why now I’m getting calls, and wasn’t previously. I did add more details to my resume on jobs I had over ten years ago, and maybe that helped. And, I really think some of my work on trying to do better interviews is paying off. I read some books on how to interview, listened to some youtubes, and also practiced some interviews with two different friends. So today was my last interview of the series, and it went pretty well. I do believe if I don’t get an offer, it won’t be because I screwed anything up, in contrast to previous interviews. Also, got my suit pants altered so I can wear a complete suit. Maybe that helped.

The prospect of an interview pushes all my PTSD buttons and I tend to be a nervous wreck the day of. I feel like today, I got more of a handle on it than previously, though I was still quite tense. Something went wrong logistically – the agency only gave me first names of the managers I was to see, then at security they needed last names, and the security person wasn’t very helpful….I very deliberately set everything up so that I’m at the location very early, so I don’t have to rush at all, as that will make me anxious. However, you’re not supposed to announce yourself until five minutes before the meeting, so by the time I asked security to phone the managers, and we discussed the whole situation, I was already late.

Long story short, the manager came down about 15 minutes late, apologizing that he had been held up. In the elevator going up, I was so spaced, I followed some other person out when the door first opened, instead of staying with this manager, and he had to call me back in! Stupid, but just shows how spaced I’d become.

However, it went fine. In the past I felt I alienated the interviewer, and this didn’t happen. I felt we were personally having a decent conversation. If he doesn’t hire me, it may be because I didn’t have some of the exact experience they’re looking for, but it won’t be because I was personally not in tune with the person interviewing. This probably seems like a no brainer to many, but for me, I easily become either flustered or else mildly antagonistic, for some reason.

So this interview, and one I attended on Tuesday, both seem fairly hopeful. Though for the Tuesday one, I didn’t deal with my fear as well, and ended up with some uncontrollable nervous coughing. Near the end of the interview, the interviewer also started nervously coughing….Maybe not a good thing? But still, I have the feeling it wasn’t a bad interview.

The main thing I did to try to counteract my real fear and anxiety today was talking back to the harsh hateful inner critic. I’ve been reading Peter Walker’s great book on CPTSD, and that’s something he thinks is essential for overcoming the anxiety and trauma of PTSD. Talking back to the critic, even becoming justly angry at the critic and at the parents who were so woefully inadequate and instilled this killing critic in a helpless child. I hadn’t been thinking the anxiety was because of the inner critic, but because this helped a lot, I now think it is largely because of that.

I also went for a fast walk in the morning. I’ve newly downloaded some ‘workout’ music, which is a kind of music I don’t naturally gravitate towards. I was listening to that, and it speeds up my steps, so my walk is now more of a workout. I think the exercise helped.

Before the interview, I sat in a cafe close by and listened to an audio book, The Dutch House, read by  an actor whose name I can’t remember right now. Very famous in any case. That was kind of soothing as well. So I’m going to follow that routine for future interviews as well. Oh and one supplement, just before leaving – Theanine. It’s a bit calming without making you sleepy.

Another area I’ve had success in addressing is my severe insomnia. When you have issues and go off to therapy, it’s easy to assume the cause is psychological. What I discovered, kind of by accident, is if I have no caffeine beyond a small cup first thing, I can miraculously sleep. Maybe I’d become somewhat allergic to caffeine as I got older without realizing. Since I discovered this a few weeks ago, I’ve stayed off the caffeine and slept pretty well. Amazing. Not so great sometimes during the afternoons when I’m fatigued, but my need to sleep at night outweighs my need to feel perked up. Of course, if I do get back to working, this might be more difficult, but I’m pretty determined to stay off the caffeine and keep sleeping at night.

I’m still going to weekly sessions. The sessions are now triggering me about as much as in my last therapy, with me losing days of functioning to depression after. And really, we’re not going that deep. And this therapy is supposed to specifically be easier to digest as it were. So I’m not happy with that, although I am learning quite a bit about trauma. I’m very unclear as to what is causing this aftermath.

I will leave it at that for now. Hope all of you are doing well.

Best get down some details from my session yesterday.

First I talked about how I’d been feeling the previous week. I’d had quite the therapy hangover from the previous session, so I complained about that. I’d thought this type of trauma therapy wasn’t supposed to leave you with the hangover that lasted for days. But, I guess it depends.

I’d been depressed for maybe three days following the session. Kind of like I’m feeling now one day post session to tell the truth. I think it’s partly that we touch on the SA by acknowledging that it happened, and then also last week we processed a memory concerning how my father used to scream at me when I was a child. I seem to always fall right back into a memory, rather than just describing what happened in the past. We were trying to do what Martine calls dual awareness – you keep in mind your surroundings and space in the present while you also remember the details of the past event. Could be I didn’t do this properly, but it didn’t seem to help that much.

I’d remembered my father screaming at me about table manners at dinner – my hands had to be on the table, not down by my side, and also, I was to keep my mouth closed when chewing. I knew these things, but somehow I would forget, and he would be very angry. I know this is not trauma with a capital T, but still, it scared me. And there was never any repair – no one comforted me, and there was no one who cared to listen to me talk about it. I’m not sure my age, because I think this happened throughout my childhood, likely starting around age 5 or 6.

I still hear that angry energy attacking me in the form of an internal voice or critic. I know one of the challenges of my life is to overcome that or tame that critic somehow.

So going over this memory I guess plunged me into those feelings of being attacked, not good enough, and just fundamentally bad. Even though Martine does take care to try and bring me out of it. We did some meditative walking for instance to bring me back into my body. And I do come out of it for her, in her office, but it all comes rushing back once I’m home.

I’ve had a lot of grief with insomnia lately as well. I’ve had nights where i literally did not sleep at all, and being so very tired has been ruling my life to some extent. I try to carry on but often just need to stay home when that happens. However, there’s been an excellent development. I’ve cut out most caffeine, and it’s made a huge difference.

I truly didn’t think caffeine was affecting me much. I love my tea and coffee, and in the late afternoons am very liable to fall asleep without it. However, one day I was feeling very anxious so only had a morning cup of coffee, with no other caffeine the rest of the day. And I slept really pretty well, just up once at night. It was amazing. So I did the same thing again the next day, and again slept fairly decently.

It’s been three days now with only a morning cup of coffee, and I’ve slept pretty well all three nights. I’m so hoping it’s a trend. I am slowly going to decrease the size of the morning cup as well, just continuing to have that so the withdrawal headache isn’t too bad. While I miss the lovely taste of coffee and black tea, I would do much more than give those up in order to be able to sleep.

It’s a huge relief to me to think I’ll probably be able to sleep when I go to bed at night. When I lost the ability to sleep, it was like a basic function had gone missing, which was so stressful.

So I filled Martine in on all this. I’ll document the rest later.

Last week’s therapy session seemed pretty good but left me with a mighty therapy hangover. The session seemed to exacerbate my insomnia, so I didn’t sleep all that night, and it’s taken me some days to recover. My sleep is on a hair trigger anyway at the moment, so it’s not really the therapy’s fault. But still. I’m concerned about being harmed instead of helped. I’ll bring it up next week.

Lets see what I can remember. We decide to sit in the two more solid seats, similar to maybe cafe seating, instead of the couch and armchair. I like the solid feel of these chairs, and we’re then right beside the large windows. The office is on the second floor and so there’s lots of daylight pouring in.

I talk about sleep, of course. I’d tried a prescribed sleeping pill, and it did work, as in I slept, but the second day of taking it I had severe anxiety, to the point I felt I was panicking. I didn’t realize it might be the pill until I talked to a friend who suggested I research it, and sure enough, anxiety is an uncommon side effect. So no more sleeping pills for me.

Martine had a lot to say about everything, but I don’t really need her input on pills, doctors, my feelings about these….I want to make good use of the hour, which from my point of view is short.

I talked about a you tuber I’ve been following, the hilariously named Crappy Childhood Fairy, and that I’ve been trying her technique for healing said crappy childhood. Twice a day, you write out your fears and resentments, try and release these, and then do a very simple 20 minute meditation. I was finding the meditation was bringing up lots of sadness so was wondering if it was beneficial. I tried a walking meditation in Martine’s  office instead. Walking meditation has so far never triggered me. At one point, Martine reminded me about using my back muscles and walking in an aligned way so my neck is free to move. So I’ve replaced the sitting meditation for walking meditation this week.

The CC fairy is pointing out that a difficult / traumatic childhood causes changes to how our brains are wired, and the writing and meditation are supposed to help correct that and just calm the brain down.

In the middle of the session, we somehow got onto the topic of the SA I went through as a tiny child. This ended up bringing up a child part. I still stayed adult as well, but was overwhelmed by that part’s feelings. We did some grounding, I played with some hand toys to try and bring me back. However. Although we did all this, and the adult took over again, I think this part of the session is what triggered the insomnia. I feel I can’t touch on the abuse without being overwhelmed at the moment.

Oh yeah, and there was a part after I was triggered, where Martine had me look at her and describe what I saw – was it a friendly safe person, etc. I was really in a child part then, so I couldn’t think. I told her this, and then that she had blue eyes and was a lady and she looked nice. Which Martine said was fine.

Then she pulled some books that are more to do with dissociation and said we’d be using those.

The last part of the session, we discussed a phone call with my mother I’d had earlier in the week. I find my mother difficult obviously. She is a very anxious person, and I seem to make her more anxious than usual. She doesn’t know what to talk about, so she gives me a very few family highlights – my uncles health (poor), that they’re going back up north soon.

I am like this burden for her. I don’t know what to say to her, as she doesn’t talk about normal things. I tell her I’m still looking for work. I just don’t know what to say.

Martine suggests asking questions when she tells me something, like ‘how are you doing with uncle’s condition’. Or to just ask her how her day has been.

Talking to my mother makes me super anxious and also angry. I desperately want to get off the phone, and I do after about seven minutes. Talking to her reminds me of how shut down she was when I needed her to talk to me as a child. How she constantly chose her husband and pretty much anyone else over me. And someone who won’t speak….I have trouble with that kind of a person anyway.

I’d say there was a huge mismatch of temperaments between myself and my mother, besides all the other unfortunate events that went on.

Martine talked about how other people may be safe or not, and I said that most people in my current world are in fact safe. Then Martine said that people who are more transparent, and who are less compartmentalized, will help me feel grounded or clear minded when I’m speaking with them, while people who are more compartmentalized might make me feel more anxious. Like my mother, who is very compartmentalized. It’s a good thing to start to notice about other people.

I think for me, open-ness is a huge value that makes me feel comfortable with another person. I have a newish friend whom I really like, although her style of relating might be described as oversharing. If you’re going to under or over share, I feel more comfortable with oversharing. Martine thinks this friend is not very healthy, but for me, I still like her. I’m not that healthy either in any case. If a person is open, it just means a lot to me.

I don’t remember much else from the session. The insomnia/medical discussion. Then the trauma/child part episode. Just a huge wall of emotions – sadness and fear I suppose. Then the mother is difficult discussion along with the thoughts about how different types of people make me feel. Also the walking meditation and the emphasis on walking tall using back muscles.

Was there homework? Usually I am to focus on something, but this time I can’t remember. Likely because the trauma part of it overwhelmed me and I wasn’t focusing on much after that.

Next time, I want to stay away from trauma, since we’re not in the trauma processing phase of therapy and since I’m struggling so much with my sleep anyway.

Overall I’m still happy with the trauma therapy and the focus on staying regulated.

Need to keep the old blog alive.

I’m struggling quite a bit with insomnia lately. At one point, I stayed awake for about a week, where I’d go to bed and kind of doze all night instead of sleeping. Luckily then I started sleeping again, but now again I’m not sleeping much. I got some sleeping pills prescribed from the doctor, which I’m not sure yet if I’ll take. Actually, I will try them at some point.

Therapy is going well. I’ve decided however that I need to dial it down to a session every two weeks. I still am unemployed and the stress of having no money coming in is pretty much doing me in. Paying for therapy in that situation just doesn’t make much sense. It’s valuable though, so I compromised by deciding to go every two weeks. Ouch. It’s a loss for sure, but I just need to cut back now. It will still be a major expense in my budget, even at just two sessions a month.

So what happened last session…hmmm….I went in still recovering from having put my back out by having lifted a heavy tray of cups from the ground  on Sunday as a church coffee time volunteer. We spent time talking about how physical pain seems to trigger my emotional issues, as I feel desperately sad and childlike in reaction to this kind of pain.

Martine always has a lot to say. Sometimes it does feel that I have to wrest control of the session from her in order to tell any part of my story. On the other hand, I appreciate her perspectives, so it’s a balancing act. I’m not used to a therapist talking for so much of the session.

We didn’t come to any conclusions on why pain triggers me. Martine did say that as a child, I had no one who would help me figure out my emotional world, and that it is OK to feel sad, and that I shouldn’t be abandoned for feeling it. This discussion on pain took up over half the session, and I know Martine said a lot of things, and I cannot really remember much of it.

I talked about how I think being too isolated is hurting my interview performance, if I do finally get an interview. If the interviewer is the first person I’ve talked to in days, then it’s easy to feel unbalanced and unconfident. So as a person living alone, how can I increase my contact with people in daily life? I share about how I watched a video where a woman spoke about isolation and trauma, and how it’s important to get out into the world every day and interact with at least two people, so you don’t become strange and lost in your own world. So I was thinking I can try doing that, even if it’s just a chat about the weather with a coffee shop person.

Martine recommended ACA. I like that about her, that she is aware of these resources. I’ve gone to ACA in the past, and Ron never had any idea what it was or any opinion on whether it would be useful for me. Martine was thinking I could use the group to try and process my family or origin stuff, and that we could work on trauma processing and skills in our sessions. So I agreed to seek out a group again.

I told her I’d bought the DBT skills workbook (DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets by Marsha Linehan). I do find some of those skills so helpful, even though I don’t have BPD. I never knew about emotion regulation before. It’s a great concept and is what I’m mostly trying to learn how to do, and it’s what a lot of the worksheets help with.

The last part of the session triggered me and I did go home upset and unable to ‘regulate’. Anytime some of these child traumas come up, it takes me a long time to get back to functional adult. I kept thinking about a get together I’d been on the previous weekend. It was with two friends of mine, and I do appreciate them both, but the interactions were problematic. I’m going to describe it a bit, but not in order to talk shit about my friends, just to explain this part of the therapy and why it triggered me.

One of the friends talks a lot, without much regard for how she’s being received. She hit on quite a lot of traumatic subjects at our get together, without giving anyone else much chance to respond. The other friend withdraws quite a bit, and is reluctant to share much of a personal nature at all. So we spent a lot of time just sitting listening to the talkative friend go on. At one point, she started talking about her childbirth experiences, and that triggered my own memories, which were not pleasant. I said something then about how I was finding the topic triggering, but she didn’t hear me, and kept on with the subject.

Martine had quite a bit to say about this. She said the friend was not being respectful of the people there, that you need permission before broaching traumatic things, and even then, you need to check in with others to see how you’re being received. She said the friend might have been in a self state. I didn’t know what that was, so she explained it’s when you’re in a type of part that is not related…or something. I didn’t know you should check in with others before talking about upsetting things, but I can see the value.

Martine then said the friend needs therapy to process her trauma, and I said she’d already had a lot of it. My opinion is that some kinds of therapy encourage this kind of soul baring behaviour in the name of authenticity, and the therapy she has had probably encouraged this kind of behaviour.

Anyway, she is a good and kind person, and she will also listen, but you have to break into her monologue and start talking about your own stuff. Which I do when we’re out together on our own, but it was harder with others present.

Martine said this situation where my feelings weren’t considered or respected must remind me of my FOO. How I might be upset by something, then my family would ignore me and not respond in a human way. How do I feel when I think about this?

So I said I felt like punching them. Martine asked me to act it out, swing my arm in an imaginary punch. Or a real punch at imaginary family members. I did this, and I felt like this wall of emotion was coming towards me – a tsunami of pain, sadness, anger. Then I spent the remaining minutes of the session trying to regulate again. I tried rolling her small spiky ball between my palms, hand on heart and stomach for containment, noticing different sights in the room and describing them.

That all helped a bit, but I was no longer able to think much in an adult way. Martine tried to say something with concepts and I could no longer understand her. The session ended a bit late, and I rushed out of the room, leaving behind my blue wool jacket.

Oh yeah, now I remember. Martine commented that if I had to fight someone off of me in the past, then doing those punching type movements would be triggering for me. So perhaps that is the case for me, though I don’t remember having to fight someone off of me.

Overall, I’d say the session was about how I relate to others, boundaries, and also about anger I still feel about my own family’s withdrawn and withholding ways.  And also about how emotions/memories are still embedded in my body, so that some simple movements bring traumatic type emotions flooding back to me.

Well, back to my Benedict Cumberbatch video. He’s one of my favourite actors, and he did a series for Masterpiece Theatre called The Last Enemy, where he plays an introverted mathematician drawn into a world of political maneuvering and shady goings on at high levels. Not as insane as Sherlock, but he’s similarly strange and kinetic in this. What would I do without DVDs and such?

I’ll be going back to therapy next week. I haven’t missed Martine per se, as I am not attached in the way I was to Ron. It’s odd how attachment in therapy works. It just seems to happen, or not. And I don’t think it’s much related to the skills of the therapist. Ron’s therapy was not that helpful to me, and yet I was desperately attached to him. Martine’s therapy is helpful for now, and she is nice to me. However, I just haven’t attached. I’m actually relieved. I had no pain from missing a therapist over the break.

Martine is very skills oriented. I talk a bit, and then she tells me about various skills, workbooks she has, techniques I can try. Some of the skills are useful. The whole area of emotional regulation is new to me. It seems like a great concept, but it’s not something that Ron subscribed to.

At times I get fed up with all the skills. I do think it would be helpful if Martine could settle down and try to figure out where I in particular need help – that is, a bit of diagnosis. Not for the sake of some label, but more to fine tune which types of interventions would benefit me the most.

Last session, we ended up hearing from a part that is always extremely depressed and hopeless. I don’t have the feeling Martine quite realizes this is a part who is usually in this state. When I was leaving, she started talking about hospital emergency departments, and how she’d show up if I needed to go there….So I feel as if I freaked her out. I have never ever needed a hospital for mental issues and I’m not about to start. It’s just that when you have parts, some are going to be in a whole lot of pain. It isn’t the same as me being suicidal myself. I do appreciate that she offered to show up but it’s not an issue I will have.

She also lent me a DBT worksheets book and said I should do the distress tolerance skills. I did have issues with depression on the break, and I was gung ho to do the skills. However, these skills were developed with borderline clients in mind – clients who feel huge distressing emotions and cannot control them. I kind of have the opposite problem – I was brought up to never feel anything, or if I did, to definitely deny this and dissociate as much as possible. Unfortunately. Well, neither dissociation nor borderline issues are good, of course, but I don’t have everything.

I don’t think those distress tolerance skills are perfect for me, as I tend to swallow my emotions in any case. It’s hard for me to feel stuff. I think trying to mess about so much with my emotions made my insomnia worse. I actually didn’t sleep at all for a few nights, just unable to fall asleep. Eventually I must have dozed I suppose, but never fell asleep so that you need to wake up. Very very light sleep.

I know when I can’t feel things, that affects my sleep a lot. The remedy tends to be to try and feel whatever it is, not to contain the feelings more.

Anyway, some of the worksheets are helpful, but overall, they don’t seem to be what I need. So I wish Martine would focus her mind, and figure out ‘what’s wrong’ and what we can work on that would help. I feel like she’s throwing everything but the kitchen sink at me instead of doing that. I want to continue with the somatic psychotherapy. And anything to do with attachment or how I relate to people. That’s what will help IMO.

And I want to say also, when I was at my most low and most struggling, I remembered Ron as an anchor in this world. Something about just digging in and caring does make a difference and I am grateful he did that for me.

I am extremely relieved the Christmas break is over. I did not have a good time at all. I was already distressed about being unemployed, to the point I couldn’t sleep. Christmas stress on top of that just about did me in to be honest.

I’m thinking of getting a pet. I can picture a lovely cat sleeping on my legs, keeping me company. Or having a smallish dog, whom I would walk twice a day and who would always be happy to see me.

Grace2Take care at Christmas all fellow troubled, slightly wonky, distressed, seeking, journeying fellow travellers!

I may resolve to write a haiku a day, or maybe one a week, so here is one for you, inspired by the mild December weather we’ve been enjoying here:


Small black squirrel curled up

Bare tree arm provides shelter

Soft sunshine blanket.