Friday, February 27, 2009

Something is Wrong With This Picture

When I was talking at the family support group last night and I came to the part about the psychiatrist needing to fill out a portion of the tax credit form one of the family members participating in the meeting said: "How is my son's psychiatrist going to fill this section out. They barely know him. They have hardly met with him".

I had a few thoughts in that moment:

  1. Something is wrong with this picture. Given how ill it sounded like her son was it does not seem right that the psychiatrists have not met much with him. He isn't even at the point where he has the insight that he has a mental illness. When I mentioned I was in therapy with my pdoc, and that it was a very important (I think the MOST important), aspect of my treatment...the lady looked incredulously at me and could not believe my pdoc participated in therapy with me.
  2. I felt guilty. Guilty that her son was so ill and needed help and here I was 7.5 years into therapy, once, and for extended periods twice, a week. I am taking up important resources that others need too. Maybe I need to leave therapy so others can receive the help and support they need to get better.
  3. I really think therapy needs to be a part of the healing process. People need human support, they need professional psychiatric support, not just medication. What if this had been me? No medications seemed to help until recently...and I am not even sure about them helping now, as I am still taking them and I feel extremely depressed again. I am sure I would not be here if my pdoc simply prescribed me medication and sent me on my way. My way would not have been merry and I would have given up.
  4. I am so extremely lucky that I am cared for by Dr. X. When I first met him I thought it was the norm in psychiatry to treat patients with both therapy and medication. I recognised fairly quickly that Dr X. and his psychiatric style and approaches to treatment were/are far above the norm. I recognised, and still do recognize, meeting him, and having his unflagging support is the biggest blessing I have ever received in my life.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I May Feel Depressed but...

I may have been feeling extremely depressed today, but this evening I feel really good about what I accomplished despite, and in spite of feeling so bad I want to give up.

Recently I have been volunteering some of my time to help others with mental illnesses learn about, and apply for a disability savings plan and tax credit that has become available to people with mental illnesses in Canada as of last year. I applied for it myself and found it to be so difficult to both understand the process, the eligibility, the criteria to qualify, the steps needed to open an account and to apply for an investment and to finally apply for the government portion of the savings plan.

Luckily I used to be a banker so I managed to get through it because I had a pretty good idea about how the banking system works and how investments work. When I finished doing it for myself I thought others not as well groomed in the mysterious ways of the finance industry, others trying to apply for themselves, or their family members might have an incredibly hard time doing so.

With that in mind I have volunteered my knowledge and set up an information session to help people make sense of, and get started on the process of applying for and opening an account. Tonight I offered to speak at a local mental health team's "Family Support Group" meeting. I was there to help people who had family members who may be eligible for this government program learn how to help their family members.

When I first got there a woman asked me what organization I was with. I said, "the organization of me", (I thought that was pretty funny!!) and explained I was doing this to help myself recover and gain confidence again. She was dumbfounded that someone would do this. I stayed and spoke and helped them with questions and information for about 1.5 hrs. About mid way she said to me, "but you are not like others with mental illnesses, you can do all these things. How are people who are really sick going to do this? (Ugh!)

I looked at her and told her I put a great face on. I could come do these sessions, and then when I left the building I struggled to want to be alive. I told her I was one of those people with an invisible mental illness. Ill inside, and well, to most, on the outside. Many of us are like this. She was a bit annoyed with me...but I felt it had to be said. Not everyone with a severe mental illness is recognizable as that. In fact I bet most of us are invisible to the world. Anyways...

At the end the only man in the group looked at me and said he wanted to say something to me.

He told me my talk was so helpful, and that I was an inspiration for all people with mental illnesses and to all their families. He said I could be an advocate for people I was so good at it. He went on and on...of course I couldn't hold back the tears. I felt really good about contributing to the community and helping others advocate for themselves and others. It felt really nice to have someone express that what I was doing was valuable.

On the way home I stopped at an expensive grocery store and spent my money frivolously on premade organic meals; a reward to myself for what I had accomplished. As I walked out to go to my car a man had his cap out asking for money. I glanced the other way, feeling guilty for doing so. As I looked away I found myself staring at his old, frail and grizzled black lab just sitting on the pavement in the cold waiting for his owner to take him to the next corner.

Something about the lab woke me out of my stupour. What I couldn't feel for the man as I passed him, I felt for his dog. As I felt for his dog I began to feel for the man. I put my grocery bags down and walked back to the man and gave him $20.00 and smiled and told him to buy himself and his dog some food. The man looked twice at the money I gave him and then looked up at me in disbelief. Thank you so much he said. I felt good about reaching out to someone who I could tell really needed an act of kindness at that very moment.

Let Others Carry the Hope For You

Foreword: I titled this photo "Grief and Shame", not because of how I was, or how I felt in my appointment today. I felt no grief and no shame because Dr. X was sincere and caring about the feedback he provided me, and how he provided it. In fact I felt intensely valued and cared for, in part because he told me the truth about how what I did affected him. No, I titled the picture "Grief and Shame" because it is how I so often felt as a child when my dad made tried to correct me by making fun of me: Grief because I wanted him to love me so much and he didn't, and shame that I was never what he expected me to be. I was never good enough.

My therapy lesson today:

"Let others carry the hope for you, let me carry it for you." Dr. X said this to me today, while I was crying and feeling like all my hope had disappeared. What an incredibly kind and loving thing to say to a patient.

Dr. X did a lot of trying to lift my spirits today. When I was complaining of not being able to remember my songs, he had me try, and when I got a few words he said..."You ARE remembering". When I was crying about my anxiety and ineptness in my choir practice last night he told me to be anxious, have performance anxiety and sing anyways, if you make a mistake be embarrassed and consider that [having sung and been embarrassed and lived through it] therapeutic. When I was stressing out about what is happening in my Art class, he told me I was talented and a good leader.

At first I brushed the kind words off with a, "you're just saying that because it's your job". He told me it annoyed him that I brushed his comments of like that, that I did not feel he was sincere. I immediately recognized what he meant.
I laughed, not because it was funny that he felt annoyed, but because I instantaneously felt that moment of "Touche", (he was right). I knew immediately what he meant by his feedback, I knew I had annoyed him, and exactly how I had done so. It was rude for me to dismiss his comments to me, as though he were lying to me.

I apologized, and he smiled and said, "that's okay I can take it"...and then asked that I please not ruminate on my mistake all day. Which I said I wouldn't, but of course, unfortunately (or fortunately) I will.

I say "fortunately" because rumination is sometimes good for me; especially if it helps me learn a lesson, and/or learn something about my reactions and interactions with others.

I recognize a couple things about my dismissive reaction to Dr. X's support and caring words. First, dismissiveness is a character trait I loathe. It reminds me immediately of my dad, or my husband when they are at there worst. I recognize I have that awful trait within me too. I often dismiss other people's kind words about me. Not good. I am going to work on that.

Second, I believe I dismissed Dr. X. because I could not actually believe someone really felt something good about me, or cared about me that much. I recognize now that is an automatic reaction I have to praise. The root of this reaction may be the hypervigilence I have felt, and continue to feel when I am in the company of my dad. I am never sure if what he is saying is true, or if it is meant to tease, bully and embarrass me; to draw me in and make me feel good, only to later find it was/is a backhanded compliment; one meant to humiliate me.

Due to my dad's unpredictable mood and reactions to me I was constantly on the lookout for a double meaning in what he was saying, or the "real" intent behind his praise. When he paid me a compliment I never knew if it was real or not. It rarely was real. It usually was another means to make me feel I was the bad person, or the loser he thought I was.

Third, because of my previous experiences with my dad, and very similar experiences with other men (I have never very good at picking men who are genuine, or who care much about me), my immediate response to a man's positive feedback is to either discount it, or to dismiss it outright.

It may be a case of 'you get what you expect' (I.E., if I always dismiss men's compliments, then I become annoying to them and they no longer care about me). It would be hard to care about someone who technically is calling you a liar all the time.

I wonder if I dismissed Dr. X because I find it hard to believe someone (especially a man), cares for me? Maybe the disbelief is about myself? Or maybe I dismiss his kindness to further isolate myself; maybe I push him away right now because I feel like I don't want to be here, and if I can only believe no one cares about me, I could go.

Whatever the reason, it was really rude and impolite of me to discount, dismiss and to think Dr. X's was being disingenuous when he complimented and reached out to me. I apologize for that, but I won't "ruminate" on my mistake. I will learn from it. I have learned from it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I know I am not alone in thinking about suicide. Numerous people get to my blog everyday by googling "I want to Die". I find it sad there are so many people who feel like me. I find it strange that, with so many people thinking like this, we rarely hear about people who actually commit suicide.

When I feel like this I become obsessed with looking for people in the obituaries who have left this world by their own hands. I'm not sure why, but I look for the key words "Died Suddenly", or I look for requests for donations in lieu of flowers, to a mental health organizations. Sadly, I also look for, and find, obituaries for kids, or young adults; people who have died far to young for the death to have been natural.

I find, for me, the idea of death relieves my anxiety about my depression. When I am depressed thoughts of suicide, and my having the means to commit suicide, allow me to feel I am not completely choiceless. I am not completely without the means to take charge of and get rid of my depression. With death it would end.

With this in mind I hoard all my unused medications, pill bottles of everything I took, that didn't work, and even pill bottles of Tylenol 3's from medications my husband took for a while and did not finish. I hoard everything...just in case I need to go.

Twice now I have given up my stash to Dr. X. Each time it did not feel right. I felt I was left with no safety net. Dr. X has said my safety net (the pills) is unhealthy. Use the other safety nets available to me, him, the hospital, emergency mental health services etc.

To me, those safety nets are only available if you have the ability to use them. I have the ability to see him, but I would never take myself to the hospital, or call 911. I would die before doing that.

I would rather kill myself that face the dismissiveness of an emergency room physician, or a mental health worker other than Dr. X. Why? I would get to the hospital, talk with a doctor/nurse and the talking would LOOK as though it increased my mood, and they would send me home. I would be humiliated and feel rejected, and I would kill myself anyways.

I simply cannot face the rejection of someone who does not understand me. My mood always lifts when I am talking with others, partly because I put a mask on to protect them from me, and partly because I automatically want people to be comfortable with me. Also, I want to look like I am not completely insane. I want people to respect me.

Last night I kept thinking over and over of how I could leave this world without others knowing I committed suicide. I want out, but I can't think of a way out without leaving my family with the burden of a sister, daughter, or wife who has taken their own life. I stared at all the pills and kept thinking of how easy it would be to go in my sleep. Something keeps me here. Maybe my duty as a family member and friend, maybe I don't want to disappoint Dr. X. I have survived 7 years with these thoughts in my head. Maybe I really want to live?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I Can't.

I thought, if I focused on what made me happy, if I did all the things on my schedule I committed to, if I had a benevolent schedule set up, and if I kept pushing and pushing through my decrease in mood; I thought I could stave of falling into the black hole of depression again.

I tried, and am trying, but I can't change the direction I am headed, farther and farther into another cycle of depression. I am so tired right now I feel literally sick. Driving the last two blocks on my way home today I could barely stay awake. All I want to do is sleep. I am weepy, and anxious and irritable. I feel dead again. I can't keep trying anymore.

Monday, February 23, 2009


The Lady of Shallot, John Williams Waterhouse, 1888

It is gone. My good mood has disappeared and suddenly been replaced with exhaustion, fatigue, a desire and need to sleep all the time, depression and all its accouterments: fear, anxiety, dissociation/depersonalization, sadness, crying, an intense sense of loss, fleeting thoughts of my suicide and a fixation on other's successful suicides.

Just yesterday I wrote of creating a "benevolent structure..., especially when depressed". I could feel my mood slipping last week. I woke one morning and it was gone. That excited, life seeking, experience focused me was suddenly replaced by my old self.

I thought I had healed. I thought I was becoming well. I thought my depression had finally ended. I thought a new life had opened up for me. No such luck. How can I be so stupid, so mistaken, so wrong?

Last week I asked Dr. X if I would continue cycling my whole life. Usually he says we will find something to help me...and I always think he is lying to protect me. This time he said, "Maybe". I have long thought this to be the truth.

I am trying to live despite this being the truth. In fact, I have thought that to be the truth and to try to help myself I have fairly recently tried to really, really accept that idea: the idea that I must learn to LIVE with depression and swift mood changes. In keeping with that idea I am really trying to create a benevolent structure that works for me even when I crash, even when all I want to do is sleep.

It is really really hard though, to keep going when I feel this depressed. Today I have volunteered to teach a class. All night I dreamt of how I was going to mess it up, forget my material, be late for the class, be confused and completely disorganized while I am teaching the class. feel sick about having to teach. However, because I have made a commitment to teach I will go fear and anxiety or not.

I am not so sure that is a good thing right now. I have made so many commitments over the next few weeks that I am exhausted and anxious (go can I be both?) just thinking about all the things I need to do. Unfortunately, or fortunately, almost everything I committed to involves other people who are relying on me to show up.

Ironically, my benevolent structure is working as it should be, but I am not sure I want to do these things anymore. In my recent posts I have tried and tried to convince myself that doing things is the right thing for me to do. I'm not so sure that keeping up is possible now. How do I keep up with my schedule when all I want to do is sleep? When I am afraid to do the things I said I'd do? When all my will and motivation to do these things has disappeared into thin air?

What do I do now that I have become so depressed again?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

It is so Difficult Most of the Time

Two incredible bloggers, Lola, from "Marine Snow" , and Hannah, from "Becoming Hannah" posted a comment on my post titled, "Benevolent Structure".

Hannah's blog reflects upon her struggles with Borderline Personality Disorder, and Lola writes about her challenges living with an eating disorder; both work through the blackness of depression on a regular basis. I feel so much in common with both these bloggers. There comments reverberated a common difficulty I am sure many people with mental illnesses encounter: Motivation difficulties.

Hannah writes that with the people around to encourage her to create she creates. Home alone, with all the tools, materials etc. to create she has a difficult time getting going. In her words: "I need someone to nudge me along otherwise I scrabble back under the duvet and curse myself.".

Lola's comment is different, but I think is a similar problem. She writes that the more she stays in bed, the more she wants to, and does, stay in bed. She writes, "If I don't get up with a purpose on a Saturday then i spend all weekend in bed moping, sort of like this weekend. Trouble is I am so exhausted by a Friday, that the only thing which gets me through is the thought of a lie in on the Saturday!!!"

I relate so much to both comments it is frightening. I have pretty much stayed in bed since Friday at 4:30, only getting up to walk the dog, blog and go to a Flamenco show I had committed to seeing on Saturday Night. Like Hannah, I need a pull, a tug, a commitment to get going...that's okay, many people who are well need that too.

Like Lola's experiences...the more I slept, the more I NEEDED to sleep. In fact right now I want so badly to crawl back into bed. I have already given up trying to paint this morning (I managed for about 15 minutes and simply couldn't do it)

To top it all off last night at the Flamenco show I had huge problems with "disappearing" and "disconnecting" at the Flamenco show last night. I found myself unable to talk, or feel like I belonged during the wine and cheese reception afterwards, and during the show I kept dissociating.

However...had I not gone to the show I would have missed two of the most incredible Flamenco dances I have ever seen. Both were by the same dancer and I have NEVER seen so much passion in flamenco before. It is always passionate, sensual and outright sexual, but this dancer had the ability to drag me out of my dissociative state, to hold my interest.

I felt her dancing inside my body, in the way your body reacts to a sexual come on, or enticement. It was amazingly erotic. The only way I got out last night was by making a commitment to a friend to go. I would have missed two stunning dances, and would not have known of this dancer had I not known. I discovered she dances at different venues around the I have something I enjoyed that I can experience again.

Sleep is a narcotic. It pulls you in and holds you hostage. The more sleep I get the more I want to sleep. Depression is like a drug too. The more you succumb to its power, the more you stop doing things because you don't have the motivation, or the energy, or the will, the more power depression gains on you. It is so difficult. It is not easy. It requires external help to both create and participate in a benevolent schedule of activities.

  1. For me that external help is a little caring "pressure" from Dr. X...a few questions about what I am doing next week, a soft commitment to do them, and a desire to please him, is in part what keeps me mostly on track.
  2. Commitments with friends to visit, to do activities, and sometimes a gentle competition between us to do the things we want to do, helps me too.
  3. Commitments to others (like volunteering to teach art) keeps me getting out of bed, even if I don't want to.
  4. A commitment and love for my dog gets me outside at least a few times a day, rain or shine

...and you get the picture. This benevolent structure only happens if I have a caring structure in place to get me moving, to get me out of bed, to make me want to be actively participating in my life. ...and no it isn't easy. It sucks sometimes and it is always hard work. I do however believe in the long run it will pay off for me.

Benevolent Structure

Over at Dr. Shock's Blog he has posted a blog about depression and art. With the post he has posted two paintings Klaas Koopmans painted of his fellow patients when Koopmans was in the hospital. They are beautiful.

Here are a couple drawings I did while in the hospital. My roommate, who I adored, had amaranthus on here beside was stunning, so I drew it. Then I drew the part of my hospital room that I found myself staring vacantly at while I was there.

When I went into the hospital for ECT in 2004 I brought my drawing board, paper and pencils with me. Drawing helped me break away from the fear I felt about receiving ECT, but it was also a really positive way to pass the time during a very dark period of my life.

( aside): ECT and my hospital stay was a positive experience for me. I read up about it and felt confident, and feel confident, that it is a safe and often effective treatment for major depression. There was however, some kind of primal fear about being put to sleep and trusting and allowing a stranger to do something physical to your brain. My fears were unfounded as the only negative side effect I was left with is crumby spelling (I used to have impeccable it is really bad...though this could be medication induced and/or caused by my decline in reading since being depressed. It did however, seem directly associated with ECT..There is always spell check, so not really a big deal.
It is taking me a really long time to learn one of the most important lessons I can learn:

Plan to participate in positive activities in my life, even when, and especially when, I am depressed .

It is extremely difficult given how, when depressed, I have so much fatigue and a desire to do nothing but sleep. In the end though planned activities like volunteering, painting, drawing, and singing work to help me in a few ways:

1. The planned activities create a "benevolent structure" (Dr. X's term) This benevolent structure creates an external "pull" towards my continuing to do things to help myself, even when my mood drops.
2. The plan replicates some form of structure, which emulates a sort of "work". I really need structure to get out of bed. I do more if I have a set plan to do things.

3. While it may not seem like doing things is helping, maybe while doing things I feel overwhelmed, overbooked or just plain tired, but...I know doing things keeps me at least more on track than if I avoid everything and sleep.

4. Scheduling and doing planned activities "forces me" to actually do something. I don't mean really forces, I mean creates a sense of responsibility to myself and others that acts as a motivation for my doing, rather than only thinking about doing. The latter only creates guilt.

5. "I don't want to, or I'm too tired to, (go, paint, participate, see anyone etc.) usually means "I am too depressed to"...if I am thinking these thoughts it is extremely important for me to challenge them.

Friday, February 20, 2009

My Vicarious Therapy Word Cloud

(Note: Click on Word Cloud and it will be bigger and easier to read)
On my post about Free Association reader and fellow blogger, Life recommended a site called "Wordle". It is so cool.

On the site you can either cut and paste a copy of any text you want, or your blog's URL and Wordle creates a "word cloud" of whatever text you request it "read" and pull words from.

A word cloud is when all the keywords, for example, on your blog, or parts of a text, are turned into a collage of the words most frequently in the posts, or section of writings. The more a word appears in the blog, or the section of text, the bigger the word will be in the collage.

Above is my blog's word cloud. I was dumbfounded by my biggest word, "Love", given how much I have been whining about never having known love. Kind of bizarre that it is the biggest word, so must be the word I write about a lot. Guess it's all those "100 Positive Things About my Life", and things, and "50 things I love"!

I might try a free association with some of the bigger words...might dig up something interesting.

Life, Thanks for the idea!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

50 Things I Love

#50. I am absolutely fascinated with Nina Simone's sound. I am about to learn two more of her song's in my singing lessons.

This song: "Chauffer", sounds so sexy and the beat is so lively and uplifting. The other one I really really like is "Love Me or Leave Me", and I have been learning "Willow Weep for Me". I really LOVE her voice. post today is going to be about "Things I love", because my mood is crashing once again and I am hoping I can stop the downward spiral by focusing on positive things in my life, rather than rant about how everything is going to shit once again. It's hard to say that, because over the past few weeks I was getting to feel so sure I was "cured"...well maybe not cured, but that I was coming out of this depression. Now I am back to feeling as though I will never stop cycling up and down. Very frustrating.

Anyways, enough venting my bad stuff and onto what I love in and about this life, and this world. Please note I may be a bit sexually explicit in my statements...because they are afterall my thoughts, so I am going to write what things I love and how I love things (Close your eyes if you don't want to read:>)

50 Things I Love in This World:

  1. I love music...all kinds of music.
  2. Right now I am particularly swept up by some women who sing Jazz and Blues...Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Eva Cassidy.
  3. I am currently obsessed with 2 violin concerto's...Sibelius' Violin Concerto in D minor (Opus 47), and Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D (Opus 35)...The version I am really enjoying is a Deutch Grammophon recording/1993 of the Philharmonia Orchestra, Giuseppe Sinopoli Conducting and Gil Shaham as the principle violinist. Both pieces are extremely passionate. I feel full of life when listening to them.
  4. I love Sergei Rachmaninoff''s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30 ...You cannot listen to it once or is a big, grand, absolutely stunning piece of music. It needs to be played loud enough so your body can feel it.
  5. I love the feeling during sex when it is that exact moment when a man first enters fully into me. That flash of heat I feel that comes in waves over my body and that moment when my breath is momentarily taken away. It is sublime.
  6. I love a good red wine. It induces a feeling of well being in me after a couple glasses.
  7. I love kissing. My husband isn't a kissing I really, really miss kissing. I can get so turned on, just by kissing...or sometimes just by thinking about kissing.
  8. I love singing. Dr. X told me singing can lift our mood; not just listening to music, but actually singing out loud. I know this is true. Last night I was so depressed, but I went to choir practice anyways...a few minutes of singing lifted me up while I was practicing.
  9. I love sex dreams.
  10. I love HaggenDazz's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dynamo ice cream.
  11. I love being told what to do during a "mock" master/servant kind of way. (...though if were real it would irritate me!)
  12. I love swimming in tropical waters...the colour of the water is so enticing, the smell of the ocean inviting, and the life beneath the surface of the water so intriguing.
  13. I love Tofino...Long Beach and Radar Hill. I love hiking down through the rainforest to the empty beach below..It feels like I am the only person on earth when I am down there. It is a peaceful solitude. I want my ashes spread in the water down there.
  14. I love sitting in the chair across from Dr. X. There is some kind of calming energy in his office. I am certain it is him.
  15. I love the smell of a man who has just showered.
  16. I love the smell of the soil on the days in the spring when the soil warms up just enough to emit a slightly damp, soil smell. I often walk around the farm taking deep, deep breathes of the smell hoping to hold onto it forever.
  17. I love my four little nieces. They are the most adorable people on earth. I feel blessed to be their Aunt. I would die for them. I will live for them.
  18. I love both my sisters to infinity and beyond. They are my soul sisters. I would do anything for them.
  19. I love a good foreign film. I am in awe of different ways of life, different cultures, mores, religions, belief systems and perspectives. I find foreign films allow me to see into a culture from so many different perspectives.
  20. I love black humour and dark subject matter in books and films.
  21. I love going out for dinner.
  22. I love going out for pancakes, maple syrup and eggs and bacon for breakfast.
  23. I love Thai food.
  24. I love Chinese food.
  25. I love Vietnamese food
  26. I love Sushi.
  27. I love a good steakhouse.
  28. I love Caesar salads
  29. I love Halibut.
  30. I love the spicy, salty prawns my husband cooks.
  31. Actually I like everything my husband cooks. He's a great cook.
  32. I love it when my husband and I role play during sex...especially when he "forces" me to be quiet.
  33. I might as well just say the obvious...I LOVE all its wondrous forms.
  34. I love that I am open about and love sex.
  35. I am happy I experimented sexually with many people, men and women, before I got married...I enjoyed it all.
  36. I love that I had the mom I did. I will always love and respect her.
  37. I love helping others.
  38. I love that, despite my illness, I manage to volunteer helping others. It gives me a sense of meaning and purpose in my life...even when I am depressed.
  39. I love sleeping in the afternoon. I usually am exhausted by 2 or 3 PM and need a nap. I used to feel so guilty about giving in to my fatigue and napping. I have changed my mind and have decided if a nap in the afternoon is what I need to feel better in the morning and at night...I will enjoy the naps I have...and dump the guilt.
  40. I love it when I sleep through the night.
  41. I love to walk along the river's edge on a warm sunny day.
  42. I love a quiet visit with each of my friends.
  43. I love many of the members at the Art clubhouse I go to. It feels good to be understood.
  44. I love talking with Dr. X. He seems to really understand me at a deep level. I love how non-judgemental he is. I love how open-minded he is about all kinds of things. I believe he is the best psychiatrist for me. He has stuck by me through such a long and difficult time, and I believe he is helping me become a better person; the person I always wanted to be. Even if I remain cycling between depression and my high moods, I feel he is helping me accept and manage my life with those moods and my symptoms, while always looking for a way to better treat my symptoms. I think many doctors would have given up on me, or told me there is no hope. I am thankful he is not the kind of person to give up.
  45. I love my husband. I know I whine sometimes, but I am married for life and I care for him.
  46. I love wearing dresses and slip on high wedges or heels...I used to wear them a lot...haven't for a while. I am going to start again.
  47. I love driving my new car. I know it isn't very environmentally friendly to say I like to drive...but I do. I love that my car is my space. I love to crank the music really loud. I like having the freedom I do when I drive. Before anyone gives me hell for driving...I have to drive because there are no buses where I live (I am a country girl). If I lived in the city I'd take the bus....but I'd still love to drive now and then. Also, my car is fuel efficient...That is why I bought a new car.
  48. I absolutely adore my 8 mos old puppy; even if he has eaten and/or destroyed 3 pairs of eyeglasses, 2 large dog beds, numerous pairs of my shoes...only mine for some reason, a sex toy and pretty much anything left laying around. Despite all this "childish" behaviour he is so squeezable, lovable, loving, funny and did I say adorable? He is cute and makes me laugh at least once everyday. He gets me outside a few times a day too.
  49. I love creating art; painting, drawing, mixed media and collage, printmaking, pottery, singing...I am a creative soul. I am so glad I found out how much I enjoyed art, and that I have a knack for it. What a blessing.
  50. I love Nina Simone's voice and the songs she sings.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Lessons Learned in Therapy

What have I learned in therapy? Here are some of the lessons I have learned, or am working on learning, in therapy. Some I have managed to learn by practising and failing, practicing and failing...over and over again, until suddenly the lesson becomes ingrained and followed. Some of them have taken medication to allow me to get to the place where I am able to abide by the lessons. I truly believe that medication has tipped the scales in my favour, but I also know that without therapy I would not have gained what I have gained over the past few years...
  1. There are people who are trustworthy.
  2. There are kind men.
  3. Doing things...activities that feed my love for living is integral for my feeling better.
  4. Guilt is a difficult feeling to dispense of. It is not helpful to me. In fact it harms me. (I am still struggling with this one.)
  5. Lessons learned in therapy must be practised, not just thought about.
  6. Hiding at home is not conducive to improved mental health. It takes the stimulation of others, the stimulation of challenges for me to slowly learn I am both a good and knowledgeable person.
  7. That while a medication may work for some people, it may even have been shown to work for many people, I am an individual and it may not work for me. I require a personalized medication plan. Medication probably requires small changes here and there depending on my cycles.
  8. That having a trustworthy, trusting, knowledgeable, and caring psychiatrist who never gives up on me makes all the difference in the world. I have learned I can lean on Dr. X and he will not give up on me. Knowing I have an advocate and a mentor has allowed me to keep trying and not give up.
  9. Even if it takes 7 years to find the right medication/s, it is possible to find a combo that works to quell my symptoms. Again it may require "tweeking" here and there if symptoms change or become worse. It is not simply a matter of finding the right medication. It is an ongoing challenge.
  10. The more I struggle against my depression and anxiety, the more depressed and anxious I become. This does not mean I need to give up. It means I have to accept my symptoms, yet continue to calmly try to find a way, or ways, to help myself.
  11. That teaching others in a similar situation as me has helped me understand and learn more about myself.
  12. That volunteering gives me a sense of purpose.
  13. That others might actually like me.
  14. That I am not a horrible person...I am an individual, with individual desires and needs. My needs and desires are not weird, they are part of a spectrum of human behaviour.
  15. Even if you think you like being alone, it is important to have friends.
  16. I have an artist inside me.
  17. I should always sing.
  18. Feeling guilty about not being able to work is not helpful, because working to get better, and all the energy that takes is working.
  19. My sexuality is a blessing.
  20. I am a passionate person when I feel better.
  21. "Better" is on a continuum...For me I may not always be on an upward trajectory towards well, but the more I keep working on this difficulty, the more I accept there will be setbacks, the more I recognize that setbacks are a normal state or part of increasing my resiliency, the more I am able to recognize the little steps, the big and small activities I need to do to get back on track if I slip up.
  22. I need to work towards a life I choose, not one that falls into my lap. It is difficult, but rewarding work.
  23. That creativity helps my soul heal, as does helping others.
  24. My blog is work. It is therapeutic for me, and perhaps to others. It has helped me to create and build a supportive community for myself.
  25. That treatment resistant depression is common. That does not mean the depression will never be treatable. It means it may take a lot of support and a longer period of time to find the treatment that works for the person with treatment resistant depression and/or anxiety.
  26. Despite being, knowing, believing I am being spied upon...Do things, Write in my blog. know I am being watched and do it anyways. It is hard to be so open if you think you are being watched, but it is important to know my gaining resiliency, my getting better requires I do all I need to get better, even if I feel afraid.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Here is My Truth

My appointment today was at first a bit stressful, but mostly it was uplifting. I am blessed to be a patient of Dr. X. I have known that from the first day I met him. I connect with him in a way that I cannot seem to with anyone else. I am learning, slowly, that connections like this are important to me and I need to search out other people I feel this way about.

I once again felt worried I had destroyed my therapeutic alliance with him, by "outing" my crush on him. A big part of why I am afraid it was the wrong thing to do is that it seems that everyone I say I love you to, or anyone I really really like and say so, always disappears in my life. It is so hard for me to get to the stage where I can actually speak my truth about someone. By the time I do it is too late, or the words magically destroy the bond.

Dr. X told me he was glad I told him, and that it was always important that I speak my truth with him. He also said we have a very strong alliance. I felt he was speaking truthfully, and that it was okay for me to feel whatever I did, and to talk about it openly, safely.

Part of the reason I feel drawn to him is the way he is: introspective, interesting, interested, thoughtful, never angry, calm, compassionate, always supportive, always available.

I have never met any man, my entire life who is these things. It's strange, but I was always drawn to the "bad boys". The men who always wanted to use me, or who wanted only one thing (I wanted that to)...but I also wanted more...and could never figure out why I always received less than I needed.

I watched as all my friends met men, who cared for them, and fell in love with them. By the time I was 27 I had slept with too many men to count, always enjoyed the experiences, but was always left wanting more than sex. I don't know what it is about me, but it seems I am not a lovable person. On top of that I am not sure I have ever loved. I guess that explains not receiving romantic need to feel it to receive it.

This is my truth:
  • The first man in my life, my dad, was the pattern from which all my relationships with men were cut. It was the relationship I learned to emulate. Unfortunately I have some of my dad in me. I get angry, and irritated, I am a bit overwhelming sometimes. I don't listen enough. I talk too much.
  • My father was controlling, punishing, physically abusive and even worse a dismissive bully who believed the only correct views were his own. He scared me to death. He used intimidation; mental and physical abuse to keep me in line. I am still terrified by him. Almost every time I see him he does something that elicits tears in me. I know I am responsible for the tears, but I cannot make them stop. I cry on the way to his house. I don't want to go, but feel an intense sense of duty to be a good daughter. I humour him when with him to protect myself, but it always backfires. I never mange to stand up for myself.
  • I left home the week after high school and moved to a different province. Less than a week after I moved far away from home I was date raped by the first boy I dated in my new town. I don't know what I was thinking, but I went back to his place after going to a club with him. We started kissing and then he began to take my clothes off. I tried to stop him, but he kept saying it was okay, we didn't have to do anything. When I was laying on the bed with him, partially clad, feeling cared for and enjoying the intimacy, feeling attractive and attracted to this man, he began trying to have sex with me. I said no numerous times, but he pushed me down and forced himself into me. As soon as it was over he told me to leave. I got dressed. Left, and cried all the way home. I felt dirty and used. I showered and cleaned myself up. Then I went to the payphone to beg my Mom to let me come home. She kept telling me I was just homesick and I had to stick it out longer and I'd get over it. I was so ashamed that I had let myself be in the position to have sex, that I had led the person on, that inside I had kind of wanted to make out, that I had not fought harder to get out of there. After that night I let men do whatever they wanted with me. If it got rough, something about that turned me on. It was like my being "taken" triggered a need to be taken. I think I lost my ability to love that night.

The truth is, the only man, in my real life (vs. people online), that has ever treated me respectfully is Dr. X. Even with other doctors, or professionals I have always felt either condescended to or dismissed. I can see that maybe my first male role model made it impossible for me to trust men, so all men get painted with the same black brushstrokes. Dr. X is consistently respectful. I need that.

My truth is that I have a lot of pain inside about how my relationships/nonrelationships with men have gone. I don't feel love, because I don't trust anyone. I always expect them to hurt me. I get what I expect.

I don't mean I get what I expect in a "The Secret" kind of way. I don't believe simply expecting others to be honest, fair, truthful and loving will make it so. That is magical thinking. I know that.

I mean I get what I expect, because I act and react to the people I would like to love me, in a way that creates a wall between us, in a way that projects fear and self consciousness. In a way that doesn't come across as genuine, or authentic.

When I am my authentic self I am full of intense passion and a desire to love. I sing loud, and laugh louder. I am overjoyed with being here on earth. I want to experience more, to witness more, to learn more. When I am my authentic self I draw people to me. Unfortunately my authentic self always eventually disappears for days, or weeks, sometimes months, and over the past 10 years into 2 and then 10 years of depression...which leads me to recede, to make myself small, to lose touch with all my talents and skills.

In therapy I think I have finally realized my truth. My truth is that I will always be besot by depressed periods. This is true. I will always have some sort of cycling appear here and there. This is true. What isn't true is that there is no hope, no way out. I have the power, both within me, and by reaching out to others, like my pdoc, to MANAGE to live with the depression.

If I have a structure to at least part of my day everyday, if I have other people or my cats and dog that I am responsible to, if I take my medication regularly, if I keep a regular sleep schedule, if I sit in front of my S.A.D. lamp every morning, if I keep in contact with people who care about me, if I continue to see Dr. X. for support...and maybe especially because I like seeing him, if I create art, if I sing everyday...even if I am sad...actually ESPECIALLY is I am sad, I can manage my life. I can make my life, even if it is a sad one, a life worth living.

It seems ironic, but without my struggles with depression, especially the intense despondency, hopelessness and despair I have felt this last depressive episode, I don't think I would ever have discovered my love for creating art. I may not have rediscovered my intense love for music and singing, I would never have began volunteering. I am not saying depression is a gift...I hate that misplaced platitude. I am saying that without my depression I would never have questioned what I wanted, or who I am. I would have continued on my weary way to a hellish existence. I would never have looked at my life from an existential perspective and asked myself if I loved the life I was living. I did not, but I am beginning to create the life I want. It is remarkable what I am learning about myself. It is remarkable that I am slowly learning it is okay to feel joy.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


First...thanks to all who commented on my post, "Am I the Only One?" Each of your responses were full of things I think are true in many ways. Very valuable comments.

I have wondered for a long time why the DSM IV does not take a different approach to Depression and Bipolar Disorder. Based on my experience of myself, and my listening to and reading about, other's stories I really believe the way Depression and Bipolar Disorders are categorized is incorrect.

It seems really clear to me that Depression and Bipolar are on a continuum of one illness; that they are not two seperate illnesses. Here is my proposal for the next DSM:

Depression --->Bipolar Continuum
  1. Mild Depressive Episode
  2. Dysthymia
  3. Moderate Depressive Episode
  4. Major Depressive Episode (MDD if more than one episode.)
  5. Major Depressive Disorder No Cycling (I'm not refering to bikes;>)
  6. Major Depressive Disorder Mild Cycling
  7. Major Depressive Disorder Moderate Cycling
  8. Major Depressive Disorder Major Cycling
  9. Cyclothymia
  10. BP II
  11. BP I

Then the descriptives...chronic, psychotic etc. Of course, I am a layperson and there could be things in between that I haven't thought of...but it seems like depression is connected more closely to BP Disorder than is currently described. It seems people who have had numerous episodes of depression may be more likely to begin cycling at some point. Maybe I'm wrong, but this has definitely been my experience.

When I was young I either cycled between wellness (for me hyperthymic...quite a bit higher/more irritable than the average mood...this definitely runs in my family) and depression. The depressive episodes fairly short and sometimes extremely short, changing from suicidal to extremely high in one day, or every few days.

As I became older the episodes began to get longer and longer, and more severe. They began to really affect my ability to do the things I wanted to do. Now my mood cycles are much worse going between feeling suicidal and going so high I get intense anxiety and I begin having difficulty functioning at either end of the scale. Do mood cycles increase both in length and strength as we age, or as we have more and longer depressions? Or did the medications I have taken kick me into some kind of cycling pattern?

It seems I never had the intensity of cycling before I began trying medication. So I wonder if some of the medications initiated some of my cycling? Or did years and years of not sleeping well kick me into my mood swings? Or are they psychological (vs. biological) I cycle up so high because I am pushing to get well and I have so much momentum that I somehow manage to push right past the well stage? What about how the world seems to change when I am high? I feel I can see the life force pumping through everything. The colours are intense and it is as if I can see things at the cellular level..intense and more beautiful than when I just feel okay.

Does it matter why? Does it matter "what" I experience? Does it need a label? What would happen if there were only experiences and no labels? What if my cycling were a gift? What if it weren't a gift, but I accepted it as one? Would I be well?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Who AM I?

Today has been a strange day. I have felt my mood going all over the map, from feeling joyously happy, to grieving the loss of, and missing, my Mom (I felt her near me, and had reminders announcing themselves to me, all day began to feel eerie and I was having a premonition).

I was very anxious most of the day; so anxious I could not breathe properly most of the time. Even when I felt joyous, I was also feeling really, really agitated, or intensely filled with energy.

I felt paranoid I am being spied on numerous times today. I feel lonely; alone, uncared for. Some moments during the day I felt relief I have been feeling better. Some moments I felt the fear that tells me I am slipping into my old ways.

When I say I feel agitated/energetic it is hard to tell which it is. I feel compelled to move, to tap my fingers, to tap my fit, to move my toes, to squirm and fidget. There is some force inside me pushing me to constantly have some part of my body tapping out rhythms at a quick pace. Drumming, tapping, tapping, drumming, squirming, swaying, knees moving up and down...annoying, but I can't seem to stop. I feel wired in the mornings and early afternoon and tired in the late afternoon.

All day I was "obsessively" singing. I say obsessively because I couldn't stop. I kept having a song go through my head, and felt compelled to sing it, over and over and over and over and infinitum. "Willow weep for me, willow weep for me, bend your branches green into the stream and cover me, listen to my plea, listen O willow and weep for me." I kept singing those lines over and over all day. No matter that I wanted to stop, it was like I was stuck on repeat. This seems similar to when music was stuck in my head before when I first began Prozac.

Then I have a strange noises in my ear/s. It's hard to describe. sort of a crinkly, tinny, sharp sound that happens beats or clicks loudly for a few seconds then disappears. It is happening in my left ear, but I think I heard a similar sound in my other ear yesterday...but maybe I am mistaken and it was the same ear. Its really high pitched. Almost like a crickety sound. It scares me when it happens, because it seems like it might stay, or not go away.

Speaking of going away...I feel lonely, not because I am literally alone as my husband is away for the week. I feel lonely and alone because he's been gone since Saturday and he hasn't called me. I am not really one to talk too much on the phone, or even to expect my husband to call me, but for some reason his not calling makes me feel unimportant. When I go away for a week I usually call for a few minutes every few days, just to tell him I love him and am thinking of him. I think there is something about not having that kindness returned that is urksome. Is it too controlling of me to want a call from him when it's only a week?

Sad thing is I am actually glad he is away. The break is good for me. So not sure why I care if he calls. It is amazing how self sufficient I am when I'm by myself. Without him telling me I'm a loser all the time, without him pointing out all the mistakes I make and all the things I don't do well, without him trying to control my every move consciously, or unconsciously, without him trying to force me to do the things he wants done, I begin to feel I actually CAN do things, and AM good at things.

So...happy to sad, to grieving, to anxious and so agitated I can't stop moving, to angry and frustrated and okay again. My mood is as labile and unpredictable as the weather in the city where I live. Who am I? What do I feel?

Am I the Only One?

**Addendum added: I just went for a walk and I realized that another reason I don't understand is because of my difficulty understanding, or accepting anything that is not black and white. I get completely confused when something is in a gray area. It makes absolutely no sense to me.

I often feel annoyed, frustrated, and maybe like I am being lied to when my pdoc and I discuss my diagnosis. I was talking to a friend about this and she asked me, "Why does it matter?"

That is a good question, and at first I really couldn't think of why it mattered to me. All I knew was that it did. It really did. It really, really did. It annoyed me, frustrated me, made me question my illness, made me worry about my illness, and made me not understand my illness.

Here is a "stream of consciousness" discussion with myself about WHY this bothers me so much. (***I have not edited it, because I was feeling a bit angry as I was writing...and if I edit I will remove some of the feelings):

First my pdoc says, I have major depressive disorder with cycling that takes me almost to hypomania, but not quite. Fine...I think that is close to accurate, although I can think of many times when my own feelings were that I was way to high for this to be "normal". Not that I want to 'be" a label, or be labelled, but it is kind of like when a person is diagnosed with something, they want it to be the right diagnosis...for example, if I have liver cancer, I don't want to be told I have kidney cancer, only to find out later I have liver cancer. I just want to know.

My confusion is compounded when my pdoc and I decide to use medications that work for BP disorder, when he expresses that I have a "bipolarlike": depression...(huh?) ...and when I find my mood increasing dramatically, my not sleeping more than a few hours a night and my mood ranging from super high, to wired, to happy, to high again and back. When I see myself doing more than I have done in years, all initiated within the time I have not been sleeping, and yet felt high and energetic.

But I still haven't figured out WHY it matters to me so much...partly sometimes I feel like the truth is withheld because of the stigma many attach to bipolar disorder, partly it seems my pdoc doesn't really put much emphasis on diagnosis, rather he looks at symptoms and how to address those (which makes sense)...but what happens if something happens to him and suddenly people who do base their treatments on diagnosis, see I am on a "bipolar" medications combo, yet I do not have bipolar. What if they decide I don't need the medications I am on? what if they don't recognize that I cycle despite not having bipolar?

I still don't understand why I feel frustrated that my mood disorder doesn't fit into a simple descriptive diagnosis. I can't be the only one. Some people have Major depression with no cycling, some have cyclothymia: "The highs of cyclothymia are called hypomania, a milder form of mania. The lows consist of mild or moderate depression"...Mayo clinic), some have BPII Mayor depression and hypomania, some have BPI, major depression and mania...where are the people who have major depression and a milder form of hypomania...sort of a reverse of cyclothymia? It doesn't make sense. And if people exist along some kind of spectrum, why don't they simply have some kind of, for example, 1-10 rating for mood cycling of all different kinds?

Also, how do you explain to your family what is going on? to your spouse? your friends? if there is officially no such thing as what you have? How do they find out information that might help you if what you have does not exist in any "official" context? How do they know you are just not making it all up?, or that you struggle both with the highs and lows?

I'm not sure if any of this makes sense, or if it even matters to anyone. Am I the only person confused by a psychiatric diagnosis? I guess the big reason I feel irritated is that I just want to know. I need to attach a name to how I feel. I want to know if my mood cycling is my fault, if I am in control of changing it, if I have done something wrong to create this type of mood hell. Or do I have an illness that causes me to feel this way? Is change my responsibility completely? Or are parts of my highs an illness which I need to control with medicine/therapy/lifestyle changes? Do I really go high...or do I imagine it? For some reason right, or wrong, I need to understand more than I do.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Short Fuse

It is possible that I was angry and not recognizing it. My husband brought it up again last night, saying I was really short, defensive, and a little to quick to snap angrily at him for certain things. This morning I feel the way he was saying I am...except worse.
While much of my mood is still bubbly, I am also feeling explosive. I have this gnawing feeling in my stomach that I might mistake for extreme hunger, if I hadn't encounter the mood state before. I'm not sure if others know what I mean. It's like when you are famished and inside you feel cranky and short, and about to begin raging on someone if you don't get some!
However, I'm not hungry. I ate breakfast and afterwards still felt the feeling. Plus my shoulders feel tight, there is a sense of anxiety...not being able to breathe properly, and an irritability and anger that is simmering and steaming into a rage.
I have tons of energy, my mood feels both hyper and angry. This is a very uncomfortable feeling. The worst part is I cannot understand why I feel this way, because I don't think I am mad at anything, or anyone.

Friday, February 06, 2009


Wow, I really am "on". I have felt so good the past few weeks I am beginning to feel like maybe, just maybe I am beginning to heal. I am super energetic and driven much of the day. Driven, is an understatement. I am so enthusiastic and energized much of the day, that I feel wired for sound...revved up, speedy, high on something. Unfortunately, this is leading to my maybe overdoing life, planning and doing too many things, which I can see may be leading to my becoming sickly exhausted later in the afternoon. I am trying to accept my afternoon exhaustion and do all the things I want to do anyways. The past few weeks I have set up so many incredible things in my life.

My singing lessons and choir are unbelievably good for me. In fact, they are so joyous and soul defining for me that I wonder if it is the singing that is making me feel so high. Something about singing fills me with passion and lust for life. The more I sing, the happier I become. I feel like a bird in the springtime, compelled to sing my song loud to the world.

While I am singing I feel so intensely happy it is beyond words. Sometimes I am quiet in my song at choir or in my lessons, because I fear making a mistake, or embarrassing myself. However, when I loosen up and let my voice loose I have an incredibly powerful and beautiful voice. My song is nowhere near as gorgeous if I try to hold back. I need to remember that.

Yesterday in my singing lesson I learned a new Jazz song: "Nevertheless". My version is better than this version, but you get the idea of the song. I sing it with a bit more punctuation on some of the words and a slower sexier feel. It is so sexy and sultry. I feel like I am myself when I'm singing it.

We also transposed "Bluemoon" into a lower key and it is much more sensual and alluring. I love it. We did the same with "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", changing it to Eva Cassidy's version, which is lower and has quite a different feel to it. Oh, I love it soooo much. I am learning the intro to it too, something I have never heard before.

As I left my lesson yesterday my voice instructor expressed to me that I was learning the songs, and able to improvise interesting takes on the songs, extremely quickly. I felt really good when she said this because in my pdoc appt yesterday morning I was stressing about my difficulty remembering songs. It seems it is the words I am struggling with, not the melodies. The music seems to latch onto my brain more easily than the words. Not sure why. I learned "Nevertheless"in two tries and it sounds amazing. Of course I need more practice, but I know how I want to sing it and it sounds pretty good already.

This high feeling, intensified, and perhaps bred by music, reminds me of the times I feel really well. When well I sing all the time. When well I sing in the streets, in the shower, when I'm with people, when I'm out and about doing my daily tasks, when painting, when teaching, when driving. I sing unselfconsciously and joyously. I don't care who is listening. Thanks Dr. X for the encouragement in our session yesterday. It helped me address my fear in the moment.

I feel I am close to attaining unselfconscious joy right now. In fact my instructor's son came home part way through the session and was going to leave...and I said, "no stay. It doesn't matter to me if you are here while I am singing". That is a monstrously huge step towards letting go of my fear.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Alliance Intact

I am extremely happy to report that I forced myself to go to my session today despite feeling anxious and worried. Actually forced is a bit strong a word. I really like going to my appointments and deep inside I knew, if I could just get myself there, I would talk about my worries and everything would be okay. I often get scared of things because feelings take over my understanding of situations. It is like my intellectual knowledge gets lost in the emotion.

Dr. X was so encouraging and understanding. He told me patients feeling love for their therapist is common. He also told me he believes we have a strong therapeutic alliance which made me feel better about having been so open with him. I felt stupid in the early stages of the conversation, but once he spoke openly about it being normal reason took over my brain once again and I felt comfortable with having exposed and expressed my feelings so much.

On another note, my husband is insane! Truly. I was super busy today and then after my singing lesson (going so well and I LOVE it). I got stuck in traffic for at least an hour an a half...maybe longer. Anyways, after arriving near my house I had a few things I had to do at the mall, which took me another 45 minutes.

I got home and my husband was all snarky about where I had been all day. I didn't react just told him I was exhausted and needed to nap. So an hour later I wake up, cook dinner (which I hardly ever, if ever, do lately). When dinner is ready he starts saying I'm mad and angry...and really giving me hell for how "angry " I am. I just looked at him completely perplexed. When I didn't respond angrily, but expressed no I'm not angry. Maybe I'm a bit quiet, but I'm exhausted. He began screaming at me that I just have to cook and clean once in a while and be okay with it, and not expect him to say thanks, but just do it because it's the right thing to do.

I tried again to explain I'm not angry. It seems like it is him that is angry...then he just explodes at me and storms out of the room. So much for trying to make dinner to please him. It was very strange.

I wish I could stay calm when he gets like this, but he kept pushing me and pushing me about how angry I was, until finally I did become angry. I really don't understand. Next time I am going to try to remain really calm and not let him rile me up. We get nowhere when we are both angry. All it ever does is make me feel bad for an extremely long period of time; while for him he blows up and then forgets the whole thing. It only hurts me when I fall for the anger trap.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Wildness and Remorse

I have been a bit of my wild self all week. Really focused on sex and spending money and having fun. I haven't been sleeping well again, and in the mornings and a couple afternoons I feel like I am on uppers (I'm not)...speedy, energetic, bubbling over, dancing, singing, and all too distractable and discombobulated and disorganized.

In a million ways it feels so good. I find myself feeling desire again. Checking out the men and women around me; a couple days I was dying for sex in a way I have not for a long time. My husband scored the benefits of my love and lust. I think his head is still spinning.

The past couple days I feel "writer's remorse"...or "therapy remorse". That feeling you get when you let someone in too much. When you let your guard down and say what you want to say, but recognize it was too explicit, too much information and far too forward.

I feel like canceling my appointment with Dr. X on Thursday, because I feel so embarrassed by letting him see how I feel. Mortified might be a better description. When I was speaking and talking it all seemed so clear to me. It seemed clear that I wanted to address my issues in a straightforward and honest manner. Now I wish I had kept inside what I have managed to keep inside for so long. I feel like I have destroyed his trust in me.

I feel like I have done what I always do; drive a wedge between me and people I care for by confessing how much I care for them. It seems to scare people. To avoid this I pretty much avoid showing most people I really care. It is too wrought with mixed messages and misunderstandings.

It makes me sad because when I was younger and well my authentic self was very open and expressive about how much I loved people. I never held back because I felt, and I still do feel, it is so important that people know they have an impact on your life; that people know they are noticed and valued.

Now, older and sadder, I feel burned too many times by giving my love to people only to have it thrown back in my face, or to be dismissed, or rejected. I am sure it is something I do that leads to this happening, but I cannot figure out what it is. I am afraid this will happen in my next pdoc appointment, because I realize I have to contain and restrain how I feel in therapy. I feel I have overstepped my boundaries and entered the destruction zone.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Fear and Desire

First, before anyone reads this I want everyone to recognize that while I always care for Dr. X; I believe my periodically having feelings of love for him are reflections of the difficulties I have with romance, connection and lust in my "real" (i.e. outside therapy) life.
This topic is very difficult for me to write about, but I also believe it is very important to dissect and address the feelings I experience.

While I respect and care deeply for Dr. X as a person and psychiatrist and I feel he is an extraordinary human being, I do not REALLY love Dr. X. (I feel sad saying this.)

The reason I brought up the love/lust/caring thing with Dr. X. is not because I wanted him to know how I feel about him...I think he could have guessed that. I am pretty transparent.

The reason I brought the topic up is I believe it reflects and shows me difficulties and patterns and relationships in my life that need changing. I believe in acknowledging my feelings I have the opportunity to open up at a deeper level than I have ever been able to in therapy. I also believe this needs to happen before I can set about making changes to the relationships I am having trouble with. I think the love I feel for Dr. X. is a reflection of the love and connection I am missing in my "real" life (vs. life in therapy). Dr. X is a "surrogate" for the feelings I want to experience in my life.

I thought it might be helpful to brainstorm some of the real life connections/disconnections that lead me to desire the love of my pdoc. By writing them here I will have a list of things to discuss and work on in therapy.

I came upon a very powerful statement about transference the other day. I have turned it into a question for myself:

What are the feelings the patient has towards the therapist? Examine the feelings the patient has and how they relate to unconscious motivations, desires and fears.

Conscious/Unconscious Motivations that Lead to My Feelings:

  • I feel listened to. How could I not feel attracted to someone who listens carefully to what I say; someone who listens not only to what is being said, but also wants to uncover what is not being said. In my real life love relationship I feel unheard, undervalued, and ignored.
  • I feel safe. I feel I can say pretty much anything with Dr. X. He never gets mad at me, never yells at me, never challenges my opinion in an angry way. My spouse always seems angry at me.
  • I feel cared for. by Dr. X. He is always thoughtful, kind and compassionate. In my real life love relationship I feel the target of a huge amount of anger and frustration. I feel like my husband goes out of his way to avoid me. Much of the time I feel lonely when with him.

Conscious/Unconscious Desires that Propel My Feelings:

  • I desire the love of a kind man. Dr. X is like this, always. I recognize it is his job to be this way, but I have NEVER encountered a man like this...ever. It would be hard not to have feelings for someone who, every time you see them, is kind, and thoughtful.
  • I used to enjoy casual encounters with different people. On some level I miss the excitement and newness of casual sex. I get bored in my sex life. Dr. X is a powerful "taboo". This excites me. It is the IDEA of a prohibited encounter that excites me.
  • I desire a man/woman who wants to spend time with me and who shows me that. I feel wanted (as in I don't feel rejected) in therapy. I often feel rejected by my husband in many areas of our relationship. He calls me greedy for wanting too much sex, or ignores me when we are together, or is angry at me all the time.
  • Dr. X seems to enjoy many of the cultural things I do (music, art, intellectual pursuits etc). My husband could care less. It is a chore to get him to participate in cultural events. I feel like we have little in common. I would love a partner who liked to do some of the same things as me.
  • Dr. X never seems uncomfortable with my sexuality. Rather he normalizes the desires I have that may seem out of bounds to some. My husband is good like this too. He is really open minded...but he gets jealous. I like to flirt sometimes. It feels like harmless fun to me because I never have the intention to take my flirtation to the next level. I am just flirting as a form of fantasy. I get angry when my husband wants me to stop being a sexual being with anyone but him. I don't mean my having sex with others...though I miss that...I mean innuendo and flirtation, just for the fun of it
  • I love a man who is an authority figure. Dr. X is this to me...though we have tried and tried to help me lose that feeling. I recognize Dr. X is not authoritative with me/towards me. I appreciate that. He really has tried and tried to help me feel like an equal, but something about how close I feel to him makes me want him to control me. Part of my sexual psyche/my love psyche craves someone in control, someone who knows what to do, someone who has power over me, someone who "forces" me to do things I do not want to do., who forces me to do things I need to do, etc. I have created a fantasy world where people in my life, other than my husband are doing this for me. This is a weird pattern of behaviour in that, on some level, it reflects my feelings towards my father. He was intensely controlling and my feelings of having an authority figure "force" me to do something, or tell me what to do are holdovers from both my childhood and from how my dad still treats me. I suppose, given my father's authoritative behaviour I always have had a difficult time making decisions for myself. I have an ingrained need to be given the answer, the activity, the way of being. This has slipped over into my sexual fantasy life.

Conscious/Unconscious Fears that Lead to My Feelings:

  • I am afraid I am unlovable and cannot love. I feel like I have never been loved by a partner. Likewise, I have never felt "love" for any partner. I care about them, lust after them, am obsessed with them, excited by them etc., but I don't think I have ever truly loved or felt loved. I am not sure why. I think I am so scared I will be rejected that I neglect to allow myself to feel and show love.
  • I am afraid my marriage is a sham. I fear I have spent from 27 to 43 (16 years) trying to hold together, repair and survive a marriage that was not meant to be. I am terrified that my husband stays with me just because he doesn't want to hurt me. I am scared we both stay together because the other choice is too difficult to decide and take action towards.
  • I am afraid I have become old, depressed and unattractive. I am afraid no one will desire me. On some level, my desire for an "other" reflects my fear I will never be interesting, or desired by anyone else. I fear dying and not having experienced true love. Or having missed out on opportunities to exchange an intense and everlasting bond with someone else.