Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ahead of the curve

I shed tears in my therapy session yesterday.
This is not a new thing for me, but for some reason, figuring out the dynamics between myself and this new doctor has been a process.  I did not feel immediately comfortable.  I did not feel good about sharing the strange and intimate details of my life with him.  Every time I'd confess something new, I'd cringe.  I'd feel ashamed.  I feared judgement.
Over the weeks, I have slowly come to see him as a loving, dorky grandfather.  I've become familiar with his vocal quirks, his high-waist pants, and the awkward way he sometimes swears, in what seems like an adorable effort to relate to me.  I like him.  And I feel liked in return.

My week has been rough.  

There are financial struggles.  Big ones.  
There are divorce-related disagreements.  Shitty, hurtful ones.
There are PTSD symptoms that are getting much worse, instead of better.
There are house-related repairs that desperately need attention, and I can't do it.  My sink has been plugged for two weeks, and I am still not sure how to fix it.
I've been dealing with fibromyalgia BS, and haven't felt well all week.
And my boyfriend was here for a visit, and had to go back home...that's the worst.

I showed up for DBT group on Thursday, and didn't look at anyone.  Just sat there, disengaged, crying, and writing in my notebook.
When I arrived for my therapy appointment the next morning, my doctor asked immediately about my apparent sadness in group.
And I cried.
My anxiety, and crippling fear of leaving my house.
The accusations and hurtful, mixed messages from my ex husband.
The painful and cumbersome distance that separates me from the man I love.
And I just cried.  

We talked about how I had been dealing with those situations when they have arisen, and I said I'd just been trying to stick to the facts, state my case, and stay on topic.  Repeating myself when necessary.  I have tried to avoid judgments and assumptions.  I have tried to take steps, little ones if necessary, toward solving the problems, instead of wallowing.
And I still felt shitty.
I still feel afraid to leave my house, worrying I'll run into someone unpleasant, who likes to hurt me.
I still feel heartbroken when my boyfriend leaves, and spend the next two days stumbling around like a confused newborn calf separated from its mother.
I still don't know how to fix that goddamn sink, or what to do about the stagnant water festering in the pipes.
I feel shitty.  Damn shitty.

And he just looked at me, contemplating.  Curious.
He frowned, thoughtful, and shifted his glasses to his head.  "How do you know how to do all of this?"

My face stuck, and I wasn't sure how to react.  "How to do all of what?"

He looked at his notes and then back at me.
"These are skills we teach for conflict resolution.  Staying on topic.  The Broken Record...repeating yourself calmly.  Taking actions to solve problems.  Where did you learn these things?"

"I didn't.  I mean, I haven't."

He just looked at me, blinking.  And I realized that this man wasn't sure what to say to me, or how to say it.  Because everything he planned to teach me, I was already doing.  I was ahead of the curve.

"I guess...I suppose I'm better at this than I thought," I said.

My homework for the week is to keep track of every time I don't let my fear and anxiety get the better of me.  To note when I feel that fear, and move forward despite it.  To note when I live my life the way I fucking well want to, instead of caving to anxiety over what someone will think about it.  To go out and buy a tube of goddamn cookie dough, and to hell with what anyone thinks of it. Because I am allowed to do those things.  Because it is my life to live.  Because I no longer have to answer to anyone else for my lifestyle choices.
Ever, ever again.

I have to give myself more credit.
I might have no education, but I'm smart.
I might have a truckload of mental illnesses, but I don't have to be a slave to them.
I'm a good person, and I'm allowed to remember that about myself.

And I can do it.  I'm already ahead of the curve.
And no matter how hard anyone else ever works to prove otherwise, I will never ever forget that about myself.

Monday, August 11, 2014

How to talk to a suicidal person

Maybe a better title is "how to talk to a suicidal me."  I know this is different for everyone.  And this is a work in progress.
Take care of yourselves <3  

And if I have nothing to say, talk. Keep talking. 
Show me that I am not an irritation or a burden. 
Show me that talking with me is a thing you want to be doing, and not a thing you feel obligated to do. 

Remain calm. Getting angry with me will make it worse. 
Understand that this isn't intentional on my part...I sincerely do not want to feel this way. Validate. 
Understand that reaching out to another person in these desperate moments is very hard. I will feel like an annoyance. Show me that I'm not.

Don't tell me to think of the children. It's not as if I've forgotten about them. It's insulting. 

Don't try to fix my problems. Tell me you will be there to help me while I fix them. If you have legitimate solutions you believe may work for a particular issue, tell me later. In the depths of suicidal ideation, I will merely argue, and tell you why your solutions won't work. I'm not an asshole. I just legitimately can't help it. 

Please don't tell me that "suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem." First, this problem is not temporary. This is a life-long mental illness. I have literally contemplated suicide multiple times a week since I was nine. Second, the idea of a permanent solution to this life-long issue sounds like bliss. I understand the spirit behind such a phrase, but it is both useless and invalidating. And in a suicidal frame of mind, a permanent solution is exactly what I want. 
Talk to me until you are sure I'm safe. Until you hear my voice change back to normal. Until I'm no longer crying. Until I'm able to talk about regular, every day things without steering the conversation back to the glorification of my demise. Please don't let the conversation end until you're sure I am calm and safe. If you're not sure, ask.

 If you love me, tell me. Tell me what you love about me. Talk to me about your favorite memories of us together. Tell me what I'm doing right. Tell me what you'd miss about me. 

Check in. Show me you understand that my problem is real, and not some sort of character flaw that I could fix if I tried hard enough. Knowing someone is thinking of me, and cares what happens to me is huge.

 It's likely that I've hurt myself. Self harm is not at all a functional coping mechanism, and I am aware of this. It is however, the only thing in these moments that helps to alleviate the extreme and reactive feeling inside me. It's ok to ask me. Please ask me. Have you hurt yourself? Is it a deep wound? Has the bleeding stopped? How many cuts? These are neutral questions that express your concern and ensure my immediate safety, without being accusatory or judgmental. I accept and understand that you don't understand. Please do the same for me, because I don't understand it either. 

Check in with each other. Knowing that I have a strong, reliable support system, and that they aren't squeamish about this subject, or me, is helpful. 

Unless we have previously agreed, please do not ask about my medication. "Did you take your pills today" is extremely invalidating. It suggests "you wouldn't feel like this if you'd taken your meds." This is extremely upsetting and will only make it worse. Pills will not "turn it off." If you want to talk about medication, pick a better moment.

I will add to this as needed...