Odds and ends

I really want to get back into writing regularly. Though I don’t feel well at this moment, I’m going to jump in anyway. Here goes. Jump!

Today I went for training at the gym again, with kind trainer D. I was worried because last time the work out plunged me into misery, so I told her right away I could only do half an hour. Which she took literally, and we only used half an hour. I talked a bit about my sleep problems. I guess, I feel like a loser when I start telling her my problems. I’ve been making an effort lately to not lead with problems – I want to have relationships based on strengths. But what can you do. It’s hard to think while I’m exercising. I didn’t talk about it long, but we both puzzled over what the problem could be.

I know it brings up trauma, or parts. Even after only half an hour, where I never even got out of breath, and never broke a sweat. Maybe being in my body is the trouble. And it’s like I can’t really think. I cry a bit. I nap a bit. Maybe it’s good I’m feeling stuff, maybe then I will be able to sleep. The other way it can go is I feel just blank – as if everything around me is echoing. In that state I cannot sleep. So maybe at least I will sleep and will feel OK tomorrow.

Ron has been away for March Break. I actually started missing him right after my session with him last Saturday, and have been painfully aware he is away all week. I’ve not written him either, though he said I could. I want him to have a break from pathetic old me.

Last week’s session was good. I told him I had been overwhelmed by my previous one, and we were able to keep this one more manageable. For a lot of it, I talked in an adult way about my various issues. I commented on how well I was doing staying adult, about half way through, and we both laughed. With parts, the therapy hour is so chaotic. When I talk as an adult, I feel like a ‘normal’ person, and I like that. Both V and B also had some time, but more to touch base, rather than explore feelings.

So no huge therapy hang-over last weekend. I got quite a bit done as a consequence. Though I’ve had sleep issues all week as well.

Several times in my last few sessions, Ron has brought up how to work with parts in my day to day. Every time he starts talking about this subject, I start to feel really bad, which I then tell him. He’s pointed out that anytime he brings up parts, I start to feel unwell. I’d been unaware that this happened. I still don’t seem reconciled to having them, at least not enough to calmly discuss it. Even though it does seem to be true.

I’ve been reading through a workbook on loneliness and attachment styles. The author focuses on two attachment styles that create problematic relationships – anxious and avoidant. I can’t decide which I am – I think I’m a bit of both. My father would have had an anxious style, my mother avoidant. Kind of opposite to the stereotype. So I’m working my way through the anxious attachment style exercises. Well, mostly I read about it, and think a bit about the exercises. I think I have in the past gravitated to more attachment avoidant types of people, stressing them out probably with my own mix of anxious and avoidant styles.

Apparently you can achieve earned secure attachment, by working on yourself. One of the things the author suggests is learning to soothe oneself, instead of demanding others provide soothing. Then approaching people largely from a position of not needing them, but wanting to get to know them. It seems sensible.

I think my taking a break from most of my relationships is actually an attempt to do that. To not rely on other people for soothing. Just, I don’t probably need to cut everyone out of my life to do that. Well, I’ll be interested to know what Ron thinks of all this. He tends to talk about the importance of allowing ourselves to be vulnerable with other people. But I think it depends what your relationship problems are. I don’t want to lead with weakness all the time – I want to exist in the world as a strong capable person.

I work in a building which has retail on the ground floor, and one of the stores is a large bookstore. After looking at them for several weeks, I finally bought a somewhat expensive set of three tiny notebooks. They’re small enough to fit in my small change purse. Parts may write in them. The response was so enthusiastic. I was really surprised. I’d had this nagging feeling to buy them. When I did, and they got to write, I felt a lot of relief. I’m trying to find ways to care for parts, so that’s been at least one thing I did.

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16 comments
  1. So much going on! I know what you mean when you type “therapy hang-over”. I also hate it when sleep issues prevail in my life. Almost two months ago I started getting up at or around 6:30 every morning, which has really helped me (although I’d be the first to admit that a 6:30 start wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea!). I have noticed a huge decline in insomnia. Interestingly (and sorry to stray from your post in mentioning this) there was quite a bit of discussion – even heated discussion! – on a page I manage when I mentioned that depression can result in insomnia. Isn’t it interesting how quickly people can rush to condemn views which differ to their own?
    But I digress. Very warm best wishes as you live through the break from therapy. XX

    • Ellen said:

      Hi DB – I actually do get up at 6:30, for my job. Can’t say it’s helped me though. I’m glad you’ve had a decline in insomnia – for me it’s a struggle. I’m surprised it angers anyone if you say depression can cause insomnia – isn’t that a common symptom? It’s a common symptom of PTSD, which is what I struggle with. Thanks for the comment DB.

  2. That sounds positive – will you read the notes? Im glad you blogged I have been worried about you. I can relate to that sense of not wanting to get out of breath or overly exerted. I guess the loss of control of the body and breath. Anyway, you’re finding ways to manage which is positive. I know it’s been a rough run, but hang in there, you are so incredibly strong. Your blogs are always so inspiring xx

    • Ellen said:

      You mean the little notebooks? I do not have amnesiac walls at all – I always know the contents of what any part writes. My job is just to be quiet and get out of the way – to let it happen. I wish parts were deep thinkers or poets, but they’re not. I don’t want to say anything against them – they’re basically children, who are not great writers, so the notes are pretty basic, but they are about how they’re feeling, and it seems to provide some relief.

      Interesting you can relate to the exercise issues. Thanks for worrying about me, but please don’t worry a lot. Often I write when I’m feeling low, but then bounce back to reasonable functioning, without necessarily updating the blog. Thanks for the kind words.

  3. Have you by chance read 8 Keys to Safe Trauma Recovery by Babette Rothschild? My therapist has had me read it a couple of times, because it is such a good way to think about pacing, what it is that you really want and need, and figuring out what can help to keep you stable while you do trauma work. The reason that I thought about it is because she talks about the need for movement, but how real work outs can be triggering for some trauma survivors. It isn’t terribly long and definitely taking a look at, if you haven’t read it yet.

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, I’ve read it Cat. I have been thinking about this. I had mixed feelings about the book. Though is that the one which recommends weight training? That made an impression on me, and I am actually doing that. I don’t remember the part where she mentions exercise can be triggering – interesting.

      My mixed feelings are because while this whole issue of ‘safety’ is important….it’s also a stop. For me it’s not that difficult to stop things – e.g., simply don’t go there in therapy, don’t allow a part to speak, keep the dissociation going. The difficulty I have is determining where that boundary is in the moment – what is going to be too much? This book, to me, seems to be all about how to put on the brakes, when that is not my issue really. And I think an awful lot of mainstream psychiatry is off in that direction – how to put on the brakes, how to stop everything from happening. It gives me a bad feeling.

      Plus, unlike your T, Ron is not that interested in ‘safety’, though he pays attention when I tell him something is too much. He doesn’t believe in techniques per se. Sometimes I wish he went more in that direction. However I’ve been to T’s that preach safety, and I never actually got anywhere with them. I know that for you, that is obviously not the case. I might look at that book again though. I think what I really need is the technique for once I’m overwhelmed, how to get back to more normal functioning. I haven’t found anything that helps except self-care, kindness, acceptance, and possibly reaching out to Ron.

      Thanks for the comment. Made me think.

      • Ah, for me it is quite different. I had a very hard time learning to put the breaks on. Sometimes it felt like I was dealing with trauma 24 hours a day, including in my sleep. I just couldn’t stop pushing, pushing, pushing, because I felt like I was abandoning the traumatized parts when I wasn’t trying to deal with what it seemed that they were immersed in. It felt to me like there was an internal world where they were stuck in what had happened in the past and it would keep on happening over and over, until I could rescue those parts.

        My therapist says that there are some clients that she needs to push to deal with issues, so she will do that. It’s just that I have the opposite problem and she is constantly either reminding me to slow down or reinforcing how what we are currently doing right now is working so well because I am finally taking it one step at a time.

        I can see how the book would work better for those who need to learn to do self care and listen to their intuition as to what is right for them, because they tend to push too hard, rather than avoid.

        • Ellen said:

          Interesting. So it makes sense that book would be invaluable.

          I also am learning that too much is not healing. Even though I can stop things, it’s not the same as knowing what is too much. I used to rather feel that if I was completely overwhelmed, at least my feelings were coming to the surface. But now, I no longer think that. More like Ashana’s concept of warm and hot – trying to keep things in the warm zone. That way things can get integrated. Too much, and we just shut down (I mean I do).

          There is a sense too in which some of my parts are trapped in trauma – they never realize that grown up life exists where all is relatively safe. I totally understand what you’re saying. It is hard to know how to help.

          Thank you Cat.

  4. manyofus1980 said:

    Its good you found something the parts like and writing is a good release. Sorry your missing Ron. Perhaps write one or two times, and tell him that you miss him? If he said it would be ok for you to email then I am sure he wont mind. I hope your having a nice weekend. XX

    • Ellen said:

      I might write. Thanks Many. Hope your weekend also is good.

  5. Cat said:

    I’m guessing it must be difficult to identify feelings to specific things when dealing with parts. I reckon the notebooks are a good way of allowing them more access. As you already know, insomnia can be a big part of depression and PTSD. Fortunately, I am the opposite and the more depressed I feel, the more I want to sleep. However, I think it depends what’s going on in therapy. So many emotions are floating around and sometimes we don’t even know why we can’t sleep. How long is Ron off for Easter? It’s only my group that’s affected by Good Friday, but Paul’s there, although he’s on holiday now for a week

    • Ellen said:

      Yes it is difficult, so I’m hoping the notebooks help a bit. Sorry to hear you sleep too much, though sometimes I envy this. However, it’s not great either. Ron is only away one week. I think he works good friday, so I’ll only miss one session. Hope all is well with you Cat. Thanks.

      • Cat said:

        Ye, I’d rather sleep to much than barely at all. I have experienced insomnia and the night drags. Hope it sorts itself out soon, Ellen

        • Ellen said:

          Insomnia is one of my chief difficulties, so it’ll probably hang around, but I’m keeping it to a dull roar at present. It’s just hard to stay functional and at all pleasant when exhausted the next day – that’s my complaint. Thanks Cat.

  6. Disorganized attachment is the other problematic option. It develops when parents are abusive. They are too freaked out not to look for comfort somewhere, but the parent is too dangerous. You see it in behaviours in small kids like backing towards a mother but not facing her.

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, I’ve read about this also, though the book doesn’t mention this option. In a way, self- help is really for lesser difficulties than mine. The authors never stop to say, oh by the way, there are these other problems, and they’re beyond self-help.

      I’m not really sure which attachment problem I have – I honestly seem to do some behaviours of avoidance, some of anxiety. Well, it’s interesting to think about at any rate. I think there is scope for awareness for myself at least – I can notice if I’m interacting with people out of anxiety, for instance, or if I’m avoiding meaningful interactions altogether. It helps to know that these are issues – kind of fixes it in my mind.

      Hope you are feeling healthier by the time you read this. Thanks Ashana.

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