My Therapist and My Heart

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Image result for bing and artworks of a father embracing a daughter

I only post my own words once in a while.  While I post a lot of posts that I admire.  I also comment on many posts, and many times think “Oh, maybe I should have created a new post from that”  after I find that my comment has almost become an essay!  LOL!  I had a sudden realization yesterday that I thought maybe worth sharing.

A couple of months ago, I experienced a rupture in the relationship with my therapist of twenty years.  He had said something that bothered me and from there began ricochets like a pinball machine within me.  After numerous sessions (and the last one where I cried), I finally could feel that he was trustworthy again and felt the love and connection to him.

The pain that I experienced these many weeks was excruciating and nearly unbearable.  My father severely sexually abused me as  a child and teenager.  When this finally came to consciousness in the form of flashbacks in my thirties, it felt like a death.  The father I had loved and adored (when he wasn’t abusing me, we shared a sense of humor and he gave me attention and we shared  playing badmiton and chocolate soda shakes together.)  I lost this place in my heart that provided a feeling of being loved.  A few years ago,  I lost my faith in a loving God, who I thought of as my real father, when after a lifetime of abuse my second husband got a rare disease where he lost the ability to stand and walk and eventually to even sit up unaided. He also became deaf.  This was awful for him and also awful for me. Every month his condition became worse no matter what treatments the doctors gave him since nothing was known really on how to since it was so rare that research was minimal.  After a lifetime of abuse and hardship, the loving god that I had believed in and prayed to since I was a child, seemed to be a hoax.  Though I was very angry , at the same time, for him allowing another hardship of such proportions into my life.  I do not want to challenge anyone’s faith with my confession.  I wish you to keep it since it had given me such comfort, guidance and hope.

So, in a sense, I had lost two fathers.  Over the twenty years, that I had been receiving therapy from my male therapist, he had become among many things, a father-figure to me.  As I came out of the fog of confusion about the safety and trustworthiness that I had hitherto  found in him and could start to feel as I had about him before the misunderstanding, I began to see something in my heart that I had never seen clearly before.  (Please excuse me using the term heart.  I know it is my brain; but, I see emotions as stemming from the term heart.)  The reason that the rift had  been so painful became clear to me.  In my heart was this place where he resided.  All the support and a thousand kindnesses had created a place there where I felt close to him.  Just as a loving parent provides a space like this that supports us as we journey through life, he had created in me this same type of place.  I often leaned into this place for comfort and a feeling of love and safety.  Sometimes, I lay in a fetal position to rest from the difficulties of life and my mental conditions of PTSD, depression and anxiety.  I would get relief there and get up ready to once again struggle to try to live a better way.  That is why the rupture in this relationship was so painful.  I couldn’t find this oh-so necessary place which had nourished me all these years.  And, of course, he, temporarily had ceased creating in me the feeling of he and his office being a safe and nourishing space.  I had experienced the despair and desperate longing of a child suddenly orphaned.  There was nowhere to go to for my need for the good father.

Oh, when I found it again on Monday, I immediately crawled inside this place in my heart and felt all the comfort it supplied; but, I cried also for the time when I couldn’t find it and had despaired.  A bittersweet homecoming.

Art by Edvard Munch

 

Abilify, Rexulti and Latuda

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When medicine works it can be a great blessing.  But when it doesn’t, it is frustrating.  I had been doing really well on Abilify, but it really messed with my blood sugar levels and after many years on it, I became diabetic.  At 30 mg., it took some time to titrate me off of it slowly.  Then, I was prescribed Rexulti.  Initially, I felt good on it.  But, then midway through the first month on it, I began laying in bed a lot because my head felt so heavy.  With this came irritability.  By the end of the month I had become suicidal and had started researching how to kill myself with different medications.  I even impulsively downed 600 mg. of Trazadone one night.  Alarmed, I made an appointment with my psychiatrist who recommended I go to a mental hospital till the Rexulti left my system.  The day before I went in, she prescribed me Latuda.  Each day in the hospital improved my mood and I stopped feeling suicidal.  The day after I was discharged though I began to have severe anxiety attacks which lasted all day.  I was prescribed Vestaril three times a day. Thankfully, it relieved my anxiety.  But, I then became depressed and listless.  I realized that the Latuda wasn’t doing anything to stabilize me.  Back I went to the psychiatrist and begged to be put on Abilify  temporarily for the next month since I had a trip planned to Chicago later in September to attend a friend’s memorial and had agreed to watch another friend’s animals while she went on vacation.  I needed to be functioning for all this and knew from past experience that Abilify was great at stabilizing my moods.  I am happy to report that it is working and I feel a great improvement in my spirit and no longer lie endlessly in bed but, instead getting a great many things done and making up for so many weeks of lost time.  Another thing I realized was that I had been having more bad days and feeling depressed as my dosage of Abilify was being lowered over many months.  Now I am on 10mg. of Abilify.  But what do I do in October?  I can’t stay on Abilify because it makes me diabetic.  What drug will I be put on next?  Does anyone have any ideas or have had good results with any other mood stabilizers or antipsychotics?   I’d really appreciate some feedback.

Self Compassion

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I have been trying for the past couple of days to try to develop a more positive attitude in the mornings.  I still think this is worth the effort and may be helpful to some degree.  But, after reading this quote today (from Grace to Survive), I realize that at the same time  I must not condemn myself for feeling badly.   This is what I was doing.  Seeing it as another shortcoming in myself.  Seeing it as a sign of weakness.  I am not hard on other people; I need to stop being so hard on myself.   Compassion is not pity.  It is empathy with understanding I think.   So, tomorrow morning I will not berate myself.  Instead,  I will remember that the pain is not my fault and accept it, yet gently invite myself to think upon the good and even wonderful things that life has to offer.

Choices

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This quote spoke to me.  Choosing and making choices does not come easily to me as these were taken away from me as a child.  I was taught that what I wanted or needed did not matter.  So, making choices is a skill that I have to work at.  And coping with Complex PTSD,  this feels like it takes away my choices as it has a will of it’s own and decides daily  what I will have to struggle with each day.  But, amid these two challenges, the thought of having a choice about who I will be caused me to hope.  That I am more and can be more than just a walking, talking response to severe abuse.  Looking back,  I remember reading Leo Buscaglia’s book Love as a teenager, and deciding that I wanted to be like him — loving, warm, friendly and having a positive effect on those around me.   This was a challenge since I had a great deal of social anxiety.   But, focusing on how others felt rather than my fears allowed me to put forth a friendly face and have positive interactions with people.

Image result for pictures of Buscaglia's book Love [\- Bing

Another choice I made was to not be like my mother.  Aside from being abusive, she was a bitter, hate-filled, controlling shrew of a woman who spoke to me endlessly  and daily about how others had wronged her.  I remember praying passionately for God to help me not be like her almost daily for years as a teenager. Thankfully, I am nothing like her.  Other dreams I have dreamt have come to fruition too.  To realize. after reading this quote,  that I have successfully made choices in the past gives me hope that I can make choices today about the person that I want to be.  It just takes a lot more courage now and a willingness to see past my perceived limitations.  I have been feeling less than thrilled at the  possibility of another possible thirty years on this planet since my fifty-eighth birthday because my future looked solely full of endless coping with PTSD.  But, maybe, it could be much more.  So, this week I will dream about what else I would like to accomplish in this life and dust off some ancient dreams that I had given up on.   If I can imagine it, it well may be that I can do it.

Image result for pictures of Buscaglia's book Love [\- Bing

(I borrowed the header quote from the blog Grace to Survive, which I try to never miss a post of. All others are from Bing.)

Sandie in Wonderland

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I made a promise to myself many years ago to pursue reality.  I was in an emotionally and mentally abusive marriage at the time.  Denial had been my coping mechanism; that and pretending that he was an alien from another planet to explain his cold-heartedness and lack of empathy.  It’s taken years to see the full arsenal of weapons he used.  Also, to fully appreciate that it was a deliberate choice on his part and not something he couldn’t help.  At times, I have felt stupid for having been fooled.  But these realizations were nothing compared to recovering the memories of rape and incest I experienced as a child and teenager.  Despite the heartbreak of finding out that my father was not the good and loving man that I loved, I still would choose reality.  Those that have been abused live in a different reality though.  The world does not make sense. Life does not make sense.  Parents and people are not to be trusted.

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Family is often not a good word but a term that is filled with pain.  But, with good therapy and good friends, (and kind pets – I must add)  small steps can be taken to start to engage with your fellow humans and stop expecting the worse.  Still I feel,  at times, that I have come from a different planet than many of the people  I know.  And I wonder sometimes if others can sense that I am different.  Sure, I try to fit in and laugh along at the jokes.  So often though, it is a huge act.  There’s a feeling of isolation that crops up suddenly sometimes.  Because I don’t talk about my past to the majority of the populace.  Its a secret that I carry around.  A secret that has been kept so long, since childhood.  This disconnection from other people is part of my reality.

But, reality is the price that I paid for not going mad.  As I slowly wake in the mornings after a night of strange dreams, I check in to see if I am still sane.  I usually am not sure I am till after two cups of coffee and reading through my fellow bloggers latest blogs.  I then start to notice the world around me. I hear  planes overhead, bird calls and see whether the sun is out or hiding.  Its another day.  Another day for learning new ways to live and accepting the reality of now with both  it’s blessings and challenges.  Reality can be both bad and good; there is darkness and light.  And just for today, I will try to embrace the goodness in this world.