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feelings

Time for a post. I am finally mostly recovered, though when I stopped taking my immune boosting herbs a few days ago, the cough came right back, so I went back to taking them. But I am much better overall. I have some energy back at last.

I’m wanting to re-engineer my life a bit. I’ve started to go for a walk first thing in the morning, instead of waiting until I’ve applied for a job. Light disappears so fast in November, the best way to enjoy some daylight is to go out by about 10 or so. I went for a long walk this morning and it was nice. I walked to a near-by shopping street so I would at least see some people and I accomplished a few errands (like buying a tart lemon square at a new bakery, nja ha ha).

I’m also attempting to get up at a decent hour so I could be at my desk by nine if needed. It’s challenging because I so often wake up at night and can’t go back to sleep for a while, but overall it’s a good thing to keep on top of.

I’ve gone back to my 12 step group, twice in a row now. It’s a lot easier for me to do something regularly than once in a while, so this is good. I find the group challenging. There are 15 – 20 people each time, so it is popular, but it’s challenging to share in such a large group. But I manage. It’s got a real self-help focus, which is different from my therapy, but I think it’s a good thing for me to add to therapy.

Then I was trying to do short meditation each morning and evening. That seemed to bring things up a bit for me, one of which we discussed in therapy which was upsetting, so now I’m leery of it. Maybe if I stick to guided meditation it would be more appealing.

To tell the honest truth, the long walk this morning triggered something in me. I don’t know what it is, but I feel kind of teary and exhausted and shut down. I hate that exercise can have that effect. I’d like to feel whatever it is but I just can’t seem to. It just manifests as avoidance, tiredness, lethargy.

So while I’m doing some things that seem like they should be helpful, and they sometimes are, the same things are sometimes mysteriously triggering.

I want to write a bit about my therapy in my next post, once I’ve gotten through whatever this is that’s come up.

Here is what the walk was like:

Walking along is nice. Sometimes an intense sadness hits. I cross the street, see the grey sky and trees with only a few leaves, and sadness like a separate person overtakes me. This sadness doesn’t make me exhausted. It’s like a different way of being. It’s fragile and easily slips away. If I go into a store to buy something, sadness leaves. Is this a good thing? Not really, because I don’t know this sadness. I know depression. I don’t know what the sadness is. Who are you?

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Feeling somewhat better since I posted. I got a headache, and instead of getting the Tylenol I tried some natural remedies. Such as peppermint and lavender essential oils rubbed on my forehead, yoga stretches and neck rolls, and then a meditation tape to relax. Oh, also magnesium and heat on the back of my neck.

It felt nurturing and caring to do all this. So that was positive. Just popping back some Tylenol does not emotionally take care of things at all. However – after two hours, still a fairly bad headache, and I needed to cook, so I took the pills anyway in the end. I still think this other stuff helped also, and the pills just finished off the pain.

I was thinking about how difficult it is to describe life in parts. First of all, because I don’t really know what it’s like to not have them. What is it like to be whole? Plus, it’s hard to describe daily ordinary experience – it’s hard to figure out what’s out of the ordinary, what’s pathological, what’s fine. I know the end results of fragmentation – the depression, anxiety, distrust, and a lot of experience not making much sense. It’s harder to figure out what it is that I’m actually doing, that I could work at not doing or doing differently.

I’ve noticed with blogs, I tend to follow BPD blogs, a disorder which I do not have. But it seems like for whatever reason, BPD bloggers are great writers and have insight. Often their blogs are tremendously detailed explorations of their feelings and reactions, and I must be able to relate then on some level. But finding a blogger whose main issue is dissociation is very difficult, and I suspect it’s because its is so hard for us to describe something that is by its nature elusive. It’s a bunch of bits that keep disappearing. If something has disappeared, maybe it’s not really a problem, maybe it’s not real, and definitely, should not be mentioned. I think that’s the background for a lot of dissociatives.

That obviously makes writing about your experience a huge challenge. Maybe I need to try harder to find dissociation blogs, maybe I’m not making the effort.

I am also less interested in blanket ‘depression’ or various forms of anxiety, as I do not relate to having a single state that’s there most of the time, especially when the writer pictures this as a medical disease with little to do with their actual life and past.

Maybe I’ll just continue to follow my lovely BPDers, even though we are different. I learn a lot. I kind of admire the large emotions so vividly conveyed, though this is obviously hugely painful for the individual. I need to search  so hard for my feelings (which then promptly do overwhelm me), and with BPD, those emotions seem to be right there, if not expressed, certainly felt by the individual.

I am busy trying to feel. You’d think I was feeling all the time, with the sorrow and pain I vent about on my blog. Not so. I feel the operatic type emotions –  larger than life – suicidal despair say, or murderous rage. But I’m not doing well feeling the regular emotions of life.

One of the biggest issues I struggle with is my tendency to automatically shut down. All of a sudden, I am at home, and I realize everything seems to be behind a pane of glass (I just wrote pain of glass, he he). Everything is slightly unreal somehow. Or, I feel I must lie down and go to sleep. Which I sometimes do, or sometimes just lie there in a kind of a trance. Not totally unpleasant – just nothing.

Right now for instance, I feel everything is behind a pane of glass. The day was so tough for me, that I stopped feeling anything and fell into this stupid coping mechanism without knowing it. I suppose somewhere along the line my feelings were hurt at work, I felt uncertain and afraid, I felt sad at being ignored, I felt angry at being ignored…..It’s not easy to feel things when you feel under attack, which I do at work. Though I think if I could get a handle on things, at least there is lots of time to feel things. I don’t have a lot of urgent tasks needing my attention. I’d need to make this a project – project feelings. How to get through the day without being dissociated by the end of it.

It is so hard to get out of this dissociation once I’m in it. I’d think it would be easier perhaps to feel the feelings at the time they’re happening, and prevent the dissociation swooping in in the first place.

So my weekend has passed in a haze of worry about my potential illness and demise. I think I need to tell myself, I’m a long way from having an incurable illness. Whatever it is, I can likely be treated for it. So be cool. Easier said than done though.

I just spent a few hours with my family as I was invited to dinner with my siblings. I couldn’t keep my health news to myself. My family is very brisk. They were interested, and the discussion was very task based. I can call back and ask to speak to the secretary or surgeon Monday. Or I can make an appointment to see my family doctor, as she will likely have access to my tests, and likely I can see her earlier. I don’t know. My mother said absolutely nothing. No one expressed any feelings or allowed room for my own. They didn’t dwell – as soon as the practical aspects had been discussed, it was on to the next topic – the garden, or some such. Very cheerful.

I was depressed. I refused to be very cheerful and make endless chat. It’s actually kind of interesting to see how the dynamics all play out. My mother saying nothing at all was a blow though – I’d have thought she’d say something. Express some concern.

I didn’t want to worry them and drag everyone down. I don’t know. My reality just sucks at this moment, and I guess I want someone to just acknowledge that. Which of course my family will not do. Not sure why I would expect they would, after half a century of knowing them! It does seem that for them, being sad or down is a weakness of character. Instead of an emotionally healthy response to bad circumstances.

On the other hand, it did normalize the experience a bit for me, to have other people know about it, and see that they don’t think it’s the end of the world. Overall, I’m glad I went.

I wanted to talk about therapy. I’ve been struggling with shutting down. I’ll find on the weekend, I collapse, going back to bed and staying there. I’ll feel as if I cannot, literally cannot function at all. It’s like losing my mind – I’m swamped with sadness.

This happened last weekend, starting after Saturday’s therapy. We discussed what could have caused this in what we talked about. We didn’t think it was anything specific that was discussed – it just wasn’t that wrenching a session. However, at the end, I had switched into B, and she was upset and crying a bit. I remember being upset about the work situation. This happened fairly close to the end of the fifty minutes, so with five minutes left, I had to switch out so I could leave and drive home. I had a hard time switching back. Every time I said something in response to Ron, B would be talking, and I’d be struggling to come back. After a few minute’s struggle though, I was able to leave.

I think that kind of hard switching is bad for me. I’m very conscious of session time, and wanting to be a good client and leave on schedule. And this whole parts situation developed in the first place so that I could cope and present a good front after all. So it’s a natural inclination for me to want to switch out to conform to expectations as soon as possible.

So we wondered how we could switch back more gently. Ron said it’s like I try to push down parts so much, I end up shutting down. He wondered if we can take more time to do that, and allow whatever part it is space again when I get home.

Another thought he had was that I open the door a bit by expressing something or being open, which leads to a flood of emotions, which leads me to shut down entirely. Which makes sense also.

This weekend I was determined that would not happen. For the most part it didn’t, though I had a rough Sunday afternoon where I did nap. But overall, nothing like as bad as last weekend. I did email Ron about how I was feeling several times. He replied to one of my emails, when I’d asked for a response. That one, I limited myself to checking my mail once every half hour, by the clock – otherwise I’d be checking every five minutes. He got back to me the next day around mid-day. A lot of checking.

I also went to my twelve step group, and this morning off to church. And a family dinner tonight. And a lunch with a friend Saturday. So I’ve been more social, and a bit more open, and just determinedly chugging along and being in the world, and it’s helped.

I need to tolerate the emotions, and find ways to soothe. And keep trying to connect a bit with others. That’s all. That’s a lot.

This weekend is for re-grouping. I’ve lost another job, and it is partly my fault, my issues. It feels pretty bad. I know it’s not all me, but I’m not blameless that’s for sure. They’ll never tell me – when people are let go, if it’s not a budget issue or some such, they will always make it about performance.  The end product just wasn’t good enough. They’ll never say it’s your attitude.

Anyway. Therapy Saturday. It was better than it has been for a while. We did get into it a bit at the start, but it seemed like Ron listened and got it more than in the past. Right at the start, as I was already feeling completely dragged out, I said I hope this doesn’t make it worse. Then Ron says – so it’s hard to know what to do, when you don’t want to get upset. Which was not at all what I said.

I explained about how I skip right over feeling things to overwhelm and shut down. How I do want to feel. We always get into this tedious discussion about how you have to feel things to heal. I know.  I agree. It’s just that what we do sometimes doesn’t help me feel – it just spins me into overwhelm.

So, Ron said, you’re just reacting to feelings, instead of feeling them? Yes. That’s it. I react instead. So he seemed to understand.

The other main thing I talked about was how I’ve noticed in the past week that parts do not know how to label what they’re feeling. I noticed that especially with the teenage part V. She gets overwhelmed right away and screams about wanting to die. Nothing I did seemed to have much effect. But this week, I noticed if I say, You’re feeling angry at this situation, or frustrated, or sad, or whatever – it helped. She stopped screaming. Having labels and words for feelings makes them manageable. Oh – that’s what that is. It’s a feeling. It has a name, it’s about something. If you don’t have that, everything feels like a huge cyclone of badness.

I have that to some extent also I think. I’m not very good at labeling an emotion and telling some kind of little story about it. And feeling emotions separately, instead of altogether.

So the rest of the session, we worked on labeling what I was feeling as I was feeling it. It was hard work. Plus I felt more right there in the session. Instead of talking a lot, and feeling it all in one horrible lump after.

We also talked a bit about what had happened at work. Ron was sympathetic, not blaming me much at all. At these points, it’s nice to have a sympathetic ear. I already feel horrible about it all, and I can see my part in it.

I was drawing/doodling for most of the session, as we slowly talked. That really helps a lot. The part that’s drawing, a really young part, gets to be there too, without having to plunge into that part’s trauma. It is so very important somehow. This time Ron expressed some interest in what she’d drawn, and that felt good too. We made up some story about what it was, and then he said something about what it looked like to him.

I left full of feelings, as naming them seemed to bring them out more. Kind of teary and vulnerable. And Ron did seem to care – he sat forward on his footstool and leaned in a bit towards me, which feels caring to me.

So was I overwhelmed this weekend? Not as much. I coped both days somewhat, but I’m really bummed about my job. I’ve taken care of some basics at least. I didn’t end up switched into a child part, so  that is a real bonus. I think this idea of carefully naming feelings is going to be really helpful.

One feeling we discussed was fear. I was talking about work, and how I felt attacked. The feeling attacked was maybe like a memory – an impression of being young and being attacked. So being attacked – that’s not a feeling, I say. What’s the feeling? Fear, says Ron. And I realize, a lot of my angry responses at work must have been based on fear – on feeling attacked, feeling powerless and full of fear.

Kind of too bad there wasn’t time to work this out, so I could change my behaviour. It does take time to change responses – if you just get punished right away, that possibility of change disappears.

Last weekend turned quite pleasant, and I got in the farmer’s market and a walk. This weekend is tougher. I’ve been having real problems with my shoulder, the pain keeping me up at night. So I’ve been going twice a week for acupuncture, which though it seemed to help at first, then stopped helping, as the pain came back. So this Saturday morning I went off for another session. I complained to the acupuncturist that it was still very painful.

After an hour of lying there with a few needles at various points, he came back and suggested additional massage. So the new agey type RMT came in and did massage. She was wonderful. So kind also – she talked softly to me, about what might be happening with my shoulder, and also about massage and other things. Funny because when I first came in and she greeted me at reception, I didn’t like her, because the new agey stuff seemed too much, she was too enthusiastic or something. But she had magical fingers and was very kind, so now I am a fan.

My shoulder does seem better though still hurting a bit. And of course the treatment has made me emotional. I cried a bit on the table, and then at home, and am getting almost nothing done. I guess in order to heal my shoulder, I’m going to have to accept being even less functional. I didn’t know  that was even possible. And whatever we discussed in therapy on Thursday has come back with more emotion, of course.

Thursday was a really great session. I will describe in a later post.

I feel sad because. I think in a way I never felt anything before this stint of therapy. Well, I did feel. I felt depression, which in a way is not a feeling. I felt the extremes – fear, or overwhelm when trauma came up. But I didn’t feel the everyday feelings, so in a way, I may have missed my entire life. Now the feelings are coming back, and it’s a lot to deal with. But it’s also like suddenly seeing life in three dimensions, instead of my usual two. It’s probably a good thing, and, it’s hard to cope with adult responsibilities at the same time.

Today I must do laundry, vacuum, shop, and cook, in order to be ready for the work week. So far, I haven’t done any of it. I did spend forty minutes breathing and listening to Gregorian chants, trying to gain some stability and calm so I can proceed with my day.

It’s been an odd week. I’m very glad my last session felt so nurturing – it’s helped me feel a kind of calmness at times that I really appreciate.

We have a huge sporting event happening in the city over two weeks. My workplace is kind of offering people alternate arrangements for working, like working from home, to avoid the supposed traffic jams. I haven’t encountered any traffic jams personally, but i still asked to work from home, so this week, and perhaps next week, I’m home.

Mostly there’s nothing to do. It’s a relief not to have to put in all that empty time at work.

In a way it’s a break. In another way I completely hate it – I feel ignored and unwanted. I feel vaguely guilty – maybe there are still things I should be doing to this document, on this project.

I haven’t really missed Ron. I am quite relieved that I don’t have a session today, so nothing extra will get stirred up. It’s the first Friday in a long time where I feel relatively fine in the evening. And I have the pleasant memory of being cared about and helped, from last week. No way that would happen two weeks in a row. It seems like sessions go one good, one bad, mostly.

I think overall what I’m doing is calming my nervous system. Feeling it’s fine, it’s safe, to lie on my couch and quietly watch a movie. It’s like parts of me don’t know that it’s safe, that everything is OK, so I tell them, and it helps. We have a cushion a young part likes, with a picture of a fox embroidered on it, so we hold that. Just relaxing and feeling a warmth in my legs, my gut. Feeling more solid somehow.

I’m also trying to feel feelings. Just ordinary feelings that happen during the day. To feel that it’s OK to feel them, that if they’re unpleasant, they’ll pass on their own. If I’m sad, that’s OK, it doesn’t mean I am overwhelmed with depression, and I don’t need to freeze.

It’s a difficult process, retraining your nervous system. Learning to feel.

And there is still difficulty at work. I’m working on a section of the document with a co-worker in Big Southern Country. I used to really enjoy interacting with this woman, but no longer. Now I feel angry and agitated dealing with her. She has to explain a process, and she is getting it mixed up. So we talk in circles. Then she decides I don’t have the background to be able to understand this, blah blah blah.

A large part of my job seems to be being very diplomatic, and I will take the blame for lots of crap if needed. But….how hard is it to explain something?

I feel a lot of fear dealing with this issue. I could just leave it, not try to have it make sense. The boss may not care about it. Hard to say – I haven’t spoken to him in many weeks.

When I felt the fear, I decided instead of pushing through, I’d walk around, see if the fear would dissipate. Usually, I would push through, ignore my feeling. It kind of helped.

When I felt angry, writing her an email, I also paused and walked around for a while. It wasn’t an angry email. But I was pushing to understand, when I think she’d rather not bother with me.

Anger and fear. I want to feel stuff. I don’t want to split feelings off any more.

I’m surprised I feel so angry. The whole issue of disagreeing with someone is fraught with damage for me – it was not OK to have different view points at my house in my childhood. Well – I was encouraged to dispute, but my father always had to win. Which isn’t that hard – an adult mind pitted full strength against a ten year old. Plus just his conviction that he was always right, always superior.

Every time I don’t agree with someone, it’s a problem for me. Even mild disagreement. It turns into fear and anger chasing each other around.

Anyway. Overall I feel calmer, and I just want to feel ordinary feelings without cutting them off.