alee_grrl: Captain America clutching his stomach, reads "right in the feels" (feels)
This is going to be a seriously hard post for me to write. The past week has been a doozy and come with some very not good news that rocked my small law school community to the core. Most important for those who may not read the whole post: I am doing okay, and coping far, far better than I had expected considering all the change and stress of this year.

I'm just going to throw all the content warnings on here for good measure. If you are low on spoons, particularly emotional ones, please feel free to skip this post. I'm going to break this into the three sections mentioned in the title with content warnings on each section.

The Good
We'll start with The Good because that is a nice thing to talk about. I'm going to put this under a cut tag not just for length, but also because I know some of my friends may not have spoons to read about any medical stuff, even stuff with happier outcomes, and other may wish to avoid discussions of food issues. CW: Discussion of medications, Lyme treatment, and food/dietary frustrations and realizations; also brief mention of dental stuff at end of section )

The Bad
CW: Hospitalization of sick extended chosen family member, and discussions of medical tests and treatments post stroke )

The Seriously Ugly
CW: Suicidal depression, death of a mentor/professor )

I'm doing what I need to do to take care of myself, including compiling lists of resources and sharing them on various social media sites. I also have plans to go see "Guardians of the Galaxy" tonight. If you have good thoughts and energy to spare, please send them out to Professor Hanna's family because I cannot even imagine how hard this must be for them. Some of the resources I've found. )
alee_grrl: Black and white kitty peeking up out of a pink box.  Text above reads "Lurk" (lurk)
I'm doing so-so. Tired and a bit out of it, but better than I was earlier in the week. I am not always sure what to include in content/trigger warnings. Please know that you can always tell me if something triggers you or you would prefer something go under a cut tag for any reason. CW: discussion of health issues, primarily med interactions; mentions of childhood trauma and toxic parental units; employment related stress and firings (not me, I'm still employed) )

For those wondering, Z is doing quite well and coming back into her own as a dog. My sister has been doing amazing amounts of work with her (training in morning and evening every day--and throughout the day when opportunity presents itself). When I have spoons I do some training with her too. We've had great fun doing the ping-pong game where my sister and I sit on opposite sides of a room and practice here, sit, wait and find. She is starting to show more of her own personality, and she is going to fit right in with the rest of the family--she's smart and got a stubborn streak a mile wide. She's comfortable enough that we have to watch her or she'll swipe the cat's wet food at dinner (she used to be too scared to approach the cat when he was eating). We've found a good trainer to come in and work one on one with Z and my niece when niece returns from her dad's in early August. This will help niece bond with Z and make everyone worry less about niece walking Z. Seventy-pounds of muscle can pull an unsuspecting 13 year old off her feet pretty quickly (hell a seventy-pound dog can pull a full-grown adult off their feet if they aren't careful).

So that is what is going on in my world. All in all I'm doing okay, which is not so bad considering. I'm happy that I'm even remotely functioning. I'm super thankful for having the most-awesome support network and friendships even if I haven't felt much like talking to anyone this week. I know they're there, and that makes a world of difference.


Jun. 15th, 2014 02:22 pm
alee_grrl: Rainbow colored stylized picture of a thoughtful looking pitbull (thoughtful pitbull)
Long post is long. Short of it is that we are all settling in and doing ok. CW: Anxiety discussion (both dog and human), brief mentions of bodily functions (dog), usual mentions of health stuff )

Right now I'm enjoying the fact that it is cool enough to have the back door open to only the screen and let the breeze come through. E is doing homework, Z is sleeping as is Artemis, and Em has gone to her dad's for the summer so the house is bizarrely quiet. Our house is usually quiet and calm, even when Em is home. We're a low energy household, which is probably really good for Z. I know its good for me. :)

On a whim I decided to put all the music I have on my computer into a single playlist and hit shuffle. I left out audio books and Christmas music. It's an accumulation of almost two decades. I got my first cds at 16, and I've ripped all my favorite cds to digital file format over the years. The list is over 5,000 songs and about 343 hours worth of music. An interesting variety. It's kind of fun to just hit shuffle. I had completely forgotten about some of these songs.

I did all the stuff I had to do yesterday. So today I can just relax. Hope everyone else is having as relaxing a day possible.
alee_grrl: From Fantasia: Demon mountain from Night on Bald Mountain (bald mountain)
I am sitting here, awake much later than I should be, drinking a cup of unsweetened chocolate soy milk and attempting to calm my brain and body's anxiety response via humor and journaling (and some form of calories that is not likely to add to the anxiety nausea). I do not have my glasses on and have taken my bed-time meds. So if this makes little sense or contains huge typos, I apologize. But typing is helping me calm down. So typing it is.

TW: Financial related anxiety; big honkin' decision making anxiety )

Typing this out seems to have helped calm the terror-induced brain freeze, anxiety-feedback loop that was threatening to kick in. So yay! Mission accomplished.

Advice, hugs, good thoughts, and whatnot are all accepted. A case of whatnot can be very amusing afterall, and if it contains a few extra spoons then all the better, because i am so going to need all the brain and emotional spoons I can find and borrow on Saturday. Sunday I will sleep.
alee_grrl: Black and white kitty peeking up out of a pink box.  Text above reads "Lurk" (lurk)
Anxiety levels got really bad last week, and depression started to kick up. We've upped my Effexor a bit more. I've also schedule a check-up with my Primary care, and went to get blood drawn today for the usual work-up (thyroid and metabolic levels). Appointment isn't until the 29th, but I wanted to get the blood work out of the way. I also found a counselor to start seeing and had my first appointment yesterday. The appointment went well and I think I will work well with this therapist. I have another appointment in a week and some breathing/mindfulness exercises to practice to try to help with the anxiety. We talked a lot about the effect of past trauma on the nervous system and how all the transitions I've been dealing with have put me into "not-safe hyper-reactive mode." My appointment was after work, and between the anxiety over seeing new therapist and a long day I was wiped.

Thankfully I had the foresight to plan, and accomplish two things with one work from home request. I asked to work from home today so I could go get blood drawn and not have to worry about getting into work very late. It was fasting blood work so I had to go first thing in the morning. Even if you have an appointment it can take forever (my insurance only covers LabCorp labs and they are usually chronically understaffed). I have a work laptop now, and the remote access key (VPN) so I can easily do my job from anywhere. The bonus was that it would give me a day of quiet to recoup my nerves a little bit. My co-workers are very nice, but can be a loud and a little much for someone who is feeling easily overstimulated. I'm back at the office tomorrow, but then have the weekend to rest some more.

I will eventually find my balance and keep it for a while. But for now it is best to take things a breath at a time.
alee_grrl: A kitty peeking out from between a stack of books and a cup of coffee. (Default)
I was supposed to go to Pennsylvania for the weekend for a friend's bridal shower and bachellorette party. I was very stressed and worried about this because it would have meant a second weekend traveling (last weekend was travel to Vermont to see Lyme Doc) and being out and about when I have been very low on spoons, very stressed by new job, and generally not feeling well. I was also supposed to be one of her bridesmaids, a thing that has been worrying me greatly because my ability to stand for long periods of time is pretty much nil. After really thinking about things I called my friend and let her know that I had been sick and would not be able to come this weekend, and also talked to her about my concerns regarding being a bridesmaid. She was very understanding.

TW: Discussions of medical issues, including anxiety and depression, and discussion of dietary restrictions )

Some good things:
  • Getting to spend time with Vermont family

  • My teenage niece and nephew wanting to spend time with me, and getting to have wonderful meandering discussions with them

  • Re-reading a favorite book (will try to find spoons to post about it separately)

  • Flowers (the pollen may make me sneeze, but seeing color is lovely)

  • The many amazing posts at [community profile] poetree this week

If I have spoons I may go see the new Captain America movie this weekend, because it looks awesome and well worth paying theater prices for.
alee_grrl: calvin from calvin and hobbes in rant mode (calvin rant)
So this article on parents estranged from their adult children came across my Facebook dash today. I found it a bit triggery and upsetting and I wanted to discuss that reaction somewhere. I didn't want to comment on the post, because they have it set up so that comments must be done through Facebook. There are some discussions I do not want to get into on Facebook. So I thought I would post my reaction here so I could work through it somewhere I felt was safer.

TW: Discussion of gaslighting, mental illness, parental abuse and neglect )
alee_grrl: Eddie Izzard pointing at his head.  Text: In my Mind. (eddie izzard)
Just before the move I had gotten to a point in life and treatment where I was fairly certain of my own ability level and when to say "I don't think I'm going to have the spoons for that." I lived alone, which had its downsides as well as its perks, and my schedule was very flexible.

I may have made the mistake of thinking that because I had it figured out there, I would also have it figured out here, completely forgetting that the two situations are absolutely different and the daily spoon requirements and tasks were also going to be absolutely different. I have been trying to re-learn my own boundaries, and it is not always easy. Add in two antibiotics that affect the neurological aspects of Lyme, including the depression, anxiety, dizziness, and brain fog, and life is a wee bit frustrating at the moment. The duo will make those symptoms much better in the long run, but in the short run it makes them much worse. Lyme treatment works a lot like cleaning your house. It always gets way messier before you're done. ::headdesk::

Further ramblings/whining on anxiety, brain demons/weasels/those insidious little voices of doubt and doom )

So anyway, that's what is going on with me. I apologize for not being around much. It will probably be a little while before I figure out proper spoon management for this new part of my life.
alee_grrl: Bruce Willis holding coffee cup.  Text reads: Coffee fail....caffiene levels dangeriously low (coffee fail)
Potential trigger warning: linked article contains mentions of self-harm, suicidal ideation and attempts, and discussion of mental illnesses.

A friend forwarded this article to me. It reflects some of what was said in my own post and in others comments on that post, and raises some other interesting points as well.
alee_grrl: Candle burning next to mirror in a window sill with snow seen through the window (Winter candle)
We've had a very snowy and gray winter up here in Vermont and I've noticed that my mood of late has been as dreary and grey as the sky. So I finally gave in and ordered a small light therapy lamp.

My humidifier has broken, which is frustrating for two reasons. One is that winter isn't quite over and the humidifier helps a lot with preventing winter nose bleeds from over dried out sinuses. The second is that it also works well as a white noise machine. We're at the point in our winter where the humidity increases (hello mud season), so replacing the humidifier isn't a huge priority. However the white noise function is as I haven't slept as well the past few days. So I also ordered a sound therapy machine.

Lastly here's a nice laid back sort of beach tune to put us in mind of sunshine and summer:
alee_grrl: A kitty peeking out from between a stack of books and a cup of coffee. (Default)
[personal profile] jelazakazone posted a link to this very good article on dealing with your brain even when it seems to hate you.

It has a lot of good coping strategies and dovetails nicely with my post yesterday.
alee_grrl: calvin from calvin and hobbes in rant mode (calvin rant)
or "Why grumpy cat is so popular: sometimes you can't 'out think' bad days"

Now I know that "Grumpy Cat," a lovely little kitty named Tardar Sauce, isn't actually grumpy but simply has a face shape that looks that way. However she makes a wonderful stand-in for us on those bad, frustrating days where we just want to growl at everyone. In a culture that is constantly trying to tell us to "be happy," "smile," or "look on the bright side," it is important to remember that it is okay to be sad, be grumpy, be angry, or not feel good. We shouldn't have to maintain a happy front day in and day out regardless of how we feel. And while laughing and smiling can make you feel better, they need to be genuine in order to work. Forcing a smile or laugh just pisses you off all the more, and often makes you feel more brittle than you already felt.

Warning: Start of seriously long rant; may contain mentions of health issues, chronic illness treatment, depression, anger, childhood trauma )
alee_grrl: Bruce Willis holding coffee cup.  Text reads: Coffee fail....caffiene levels dangeriously low (coffee fail)
So I haven't been around on Dreamwidth much lately. This is for several reasons, some medical, some school related, and overall a distinct lack of spoons.

Some discussion of Lyme Treatment, depression, and general law school related stress, also very long post. )

tl;dr summary: life has been busy and I've had a lot to process. :) On the fun side of things I got my hair all chopped off and love the new do. It's a lovely style for this soon to be 33 year old, and an afternoon at the salon was a good way to start my birthday celebration a week early. I also got myself a couple of birthday prezzies that arrived this week: new long johns that fit (my old ones were so baggy I couldn't zip the jeans over them), new nose studs (I loose them very quickly), and DMZ vol. 1, the first volume in an amazing graphic novel series. My friends are doing a brunch for me tomorrow on my actual b-day. So I'm celebrating 33 in style. pics of the new 'do under the cut )
alee_grrl: Yellow and black butterfly next to the words Anti-Social Butterfly (butterfly)
TW: Mental Health issues regarding social anxiety, self-doubt, etc. discussed herein )

Going with the flow of Lyme brain add...does anyone else think that Social Anxiety and the Demons of Doubt sounds like a good name for an indie punk band?
alee_grrl: A kitty peeking out from between a stack of books and a cup of coffee. (Default)
[personal profile] verbs_not_nouns posted a very interesting and useful (to me at least) post on asexuality.

The concept of sexual desire as a parallel spectrum to sexual orientation is a newer one for me. Warning: Somewhat frank discussion of sexual desire (and lack thereof), includes mentions of health issues and past trauma. )
alee_grrl: Eddie Izzard pointing at his head.  Text: In my Mind. (in my mind)
In some ways, for me, 2011 was the year of apathy. On a personal level it was neither a great year, nor an awful one. It simply was. Since I've been wrapped up in the world of law school the greater goings on in the world haven't left much of an impact this year. I noted Occupy Wall Street, the debacle that is the presidential campaign, and a few other news stories. But the majority of my attention was on school and health. In many ways 2011 was better than 2010. I spent much of 2010 being so massively depressed that suicide ideation started popping up (though I got help as soon as I noticed that ideation). Things improved quite a bit in 2011. My friends helped a lot with that improvement, as did the firewalk that I attended.

One of the biggest factors in that improvement was finding a doctor who didn't take the fibromyalgia diagnosis at face value, throw up his hands and say "there's nothing I can do for you," which is what the doctor I had in 2010 had basically done. Between my new specialist and new general practitioner, I am slowly but surely dealing with all the things causing me to be constantly fatigued and in pain. After evaluation and numerous tests by diagnosis shifted from fibromyalgia, to late-stage Lyme Disease (sometimes called chronic Lyme), and systemic yeast overgrowth. I responded very well to the anti-yeast treatment (though the restricted diet has been a bitch to get used to), and before school started was feeling pretty darn good.

I had a bit of a set back at the start of the antibiotic treatment. Irene in all her glory (which was pretty intense here in Vermont--this is a good video about her effect on my little town, and the amazing response from people here), triggered my PTSD. Oddly I had forgotten much of my storm triggered PTSD for a while. It's been a long time since it was triggered. Days before my seventh birthday an F4 tornado tore through my town and passed right over our heads. Since we lived in a trailer, we took shelter outside. We had one of those fuel-tank bbq pits. The support pole for the bbq was cemented into the ground under our carport. My parents, the neighbors and their kids, and my brother and I basically lay around that pole holding on for dear life. All the kids were on the bottom with our parents holding us down. I was terrified for our dogs who had gone into hiding early on in the storm (they came out when things had calmed down and were perfectly fine), and I was terrified for us. I will never forget the pull of the wind, the coldness of the rain or that awful sound. What really made the power of nature a nightmarish thing for me though was seeing the utter devastation afterward. We had to travel into the neighboring city to stay with friends because we had neither power nor water. On the way into town we passed by the neighborhood gas station. All that was left of that cement structure was the counter and the sign. Nothing else. The trailer park just up the road from us was completely wiped out. Not a single trailer remained whole. I struggled with fear of storms for a long time, but it got better over the years. Nearly went away completely after I left the south. Watching the river rise to nearly double it's size in less than an hour brought a lot of those old fears slamming back. I watched from my porch as tables, propane tanks and large trees floated down a river I could normally not even see from the porch. I heard stories of houses and cars going down stream. The devastation after the storm was just as horrific as it had been all those years ago, and the sense of helplessness just as strong. I was able to help some this time, but not as much as I would have liked due to my health. So it was a very frustrating time. Add that to the stress of starting back to school (Irene hit the day before classes were supposed to start), the stress of appellate advocacy (a 2L right of passage at my school) and the stress of starting a difficult medical treatment, and you have a very fragile Manda.

So I started seeing the new school counselor (who was a great deal more help than the old one), and after much debating decided to drop a class. That brought about it's own stress, which you can read about here. It was worth the relief to have fewer hours though. I was able to concentrate on the remainder of my classes and improve my attendance. Thanks to my awesome family of choice (aka my Vermont family, the Pagan Lane clan), I successfully navigated the holidays despite not being able to eat any sweets whatsoever. Due to various family members dietary restrictions our Christmas dinner was gluten-free, dairy-free (save for the pumpkin pie), and mostly sugar/sweet-free (save for the french bread slabs and desserts, which I ignored). There was even stuffing I could eat. A lot of the food was homegrown, including the godzilla chicken (giant mutant chicken-thing was the size of a small turkey). All the food was super yummy too. Got to spend a lot of time just hanging out with friends, including a couple members of our clan that I usually only get to see at Christmas. So it was a really nice holiday.

The only downside to the winter break has been that my new antibiotic (doxycycline) often makes me nauseous and since I just started it, and it's a stronger antibiotic I'm still dealing with the achy, yucky feeling that happens with each treatment cycle. I also developed an aphthous ulcer, which is a apparently the fancy name for canker sores, on the underside of my upper lip where the lip meets the gums. Did you know that canker sores and cold sores were different things? I didn't. I've actually had the sore for a while, but I was often in the habit of taking my dentures out (I'm planning on doing a longer fonsfaq post on living with dentures, especially when you're young) at night to try to get the sore to heal. Since I was staying with others I left them in (it's hard to be around other people without your teeth in). The friction made the sore much, much worse. Resulting in concerns that this painful thing was abscessing or something equally dreadful. So I left a bit earlier than I had planned, and stopped by the ER on my way home.

Thankfully it wasn't anything serious, just painful and embarrassing. I say embarrassing because the only way to treat it effectively is to leave my teeth out until it heals. This has meant going out in public without my teeth in, which bugs the shit out of me. I have coped by wrapping a scarf around my mouth or hiding behind my coat. Thank the gods that it's winter. Not sure what I would have done in summer. It's also meant being on a soft food diet (which is even more interesting when you're already on a restricted diet). Thankfully (and possibly unfortunately) I have a lot of experience with creative soft food diets due to previous teeth issues (there is a reason I've had dentures since I was 25, and it has a lot to due with bad genetics and no enamel). I'm starting to get a bit sick of things though. Hopefully this sore will heal up soon. Regardless the teeth are going back in when classes start, which is thankfully next week. I've made an appointment to get my dentures adjusted. So hopefully I can avoid a repeat of this misadventure.

So all in all it wasn't a bad year. It wasn't great by any stretch of the imagination, but it wasn't bad. It was certainly an improvement of 2010 (for me at least). Here's hoping 2012 will be an improvement for us all.
alee_grrl: Burning coals of a fire.  Text: Let us walk together and find healing beyond the flames. (firewalk)
Warning: Long post, possibly triggery, slight discussion of past suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. Mostly a long discussion about healing from past trauma and an awesome experience with a shamanic firewalk.

Read more... )
alee_grrl: Candle burning next to mirror in a window sill with snow seen through the window (Winter candle)
Had the weirdest realization last night. I was thinking about why I've been having so much trouble with my depression and general health since I started law school. It's been a bit like riding a roller coaster. I do great for a while, and then, bam, I'm back at the bottom struggling to just get out of bed and face life. I've fallen back into some old bad habits (missing class, not caring, eating way too much junk food and generally not taking very good care of myself)...habits I haven't had about a year or two after I finished college (so about five/six years now). It took me too years to break those habits, and now that I'm back in school they are popping back up again. After thinking about it a lot, I realized that the trigger seems to be school itself. The routines of school and the pattern of study seems to have recalled these old habits that I thought I had gotten over.

So the next question is, how do I break the habits again. I'm trying to remember how I broke them in the first place, but for the life of me can't figure it out. I think part of the problem may be brain chemistry, and part just old behavior programs being triggered. My current gp has been less than helpful, and I've been running on autopilot, which makes it rather difficult to articulate what the problems really are. I'm not that great at asking for help and hate to do so, but I realize that I am at the point where I really need to ask for help. So I am trying to schedule a few new appointments: one with the Dean of Academic Affairs to discuss a reduced course load; one with a psychiatrist. I'm hoping that by going back to a psychiatrist, as opposed to a counselor, I can improve both the brain chemistry and the behavior issues. The next step is to find a new gp, but there is only so much I can take on without feeling more overwhelmed and succumbing to brain-freezing anxiety attacks. Another thing I need to do is schedule an appointment with the professor of the class I've missed the most of, however just the thought causes me to panic a bit. I suppose because acknowledging the fact that I've missed her class so often makes me feel like a failure.

Depression is such a nasty spiral. Something goes wrong and triggers the depression. Then you get mad at yourself for being depressed, because life doesn't revolve around you and there are much bigger problems in the world. You feel like you should be able to just buck up and get over it. The anger feeds the depression...which feeds the anger, etc. It's hard to be logical and remember things that combat these feelings.

For all the anti-depressants out there, depression is still not talked about very much. The common perception seems to be that the pills are a complete cure. They often help, but they don't fix things completely (at least not in my experience). Since body chemistry changes over time what worked at one time may not work at another. Knowing that others are going through the same thing does help. I had a few conversations with other students today about the issue and it definitely helped.

If you've never suffered from depression it can be hard to understand. It is an all consuming problem. It chokes the mind and numbs the emotion. It makes you question all the things you've accomplished and shines doubts on everything you do. You end up feeling trapped by your own thoughts, and it can be very difficult to think about anything at all. Not being able to think makes it infinitely harder to seek help, and help is crucial in finding a way out of the darkness.

I write about these things for several reasons. One, it helps me think through the problem and process my actual feelings and thoughts, which often feel numbed or non-existent when I'm suffering a depressive episode. Two, I think that having personal accounts of depressive episodes and the problems that come with them might help others who either have similar problems or have loved ones with similar problems. If you have never experienced depression perhaps my little notes will help you better understand the illness. If you have had similar experiences then perhaps these notes will comfort you with the knowledge that you are not alone. Though the days may be hard many others struggle right beside you.
alee_grrl: Black and white kitty peeking up out of a pink box.  Text above reads "Lurk" (lurk)
The past month or so has been a bit of a trial. My body, emotions and brain entered into a lengthy and turbulent debate regarding priorities. My brain was all for studying and school, but my body and emotions decided to rebel ( is not your friend). To top it off it seems my anti-depressant has not been doing its job of keeping me on an even keel. Since it's been a little while since I had such a major depressive episode, it took me a few weeks to realize what was going on. Once I did I was able to take steps to help myself.

I called my doc and explained what was going on. The office got me in to see one of the other practitioners since my doc was not available til January 7th. The doc I saw suggested a trial period of Abilify as adjunctive therapy. I started that on Tuesday, and today I noticed that it seems to be having an effect. We'll see how things go in the next few weeks. Finals start on Wednesday, so I am hoping to be functional, or closer to it, by then. I also set up a counseling appointment, and have done a lot of talking with friends. I have some amazing friends, and I am very thankful for their support.

Today was a weirdly mixed bag. I managed to get out of bed (success!) and through my last day of classes (huzzah!) even managed to get some work done on my outlines and studying for finals (yay!). However, I found myself completely overwhelmed when I went to the end of class/holiday party (headdesk.). There were way to many people for my raw and frazzled nerves, plus I was feeling really awkward. So instead of staying for the talent show (which looked to be a lot of fun) I headed home for a hot shower and some fic reading. My plans were disrupted (for the better) when a friend called to see if I'd had dinner yet. We ended up heading over a town (or two) for Thai food. It was a lovely evening and a nice chance to get to know one of my newer law school friends better. On the way home I stopped in at the local club (for all of five minutes, but that's five minutes I hadn't spent in there before). Another friend really wanted me to stop by, so I thought I'd give it a try. I think most of the school (students at least) and part of the town (it is very small, but still) were in there. I stayed long enough to say hi to a few people, and then bailed. It was fun seeing people's reactions to me being there though. I got a lot of "your here!" remarks. All of these remarks were positive though. People were just surprised to see I exist outside of class. I'm not really one for going out at night. I prefer quiet nights with internet time and hot tea.

The short walk home through the cold night was amazingly beautiful. The snow was starting to come down faster, and watching it dance in the glow of street and porch lights was great fun. Now I really must get ready for bed though. I have lots I want to do tomorrow (x-mas shopping, not so x-mas shopping, studying, cleaning...though not in that particular order). Goodnight, fellow dreamers.
alee_grrl: Yellow and black butterfly next to the words Anti-Social Butterfly (butterfly)
This time of year I always spend more time struggling with my own personal demons. Old fears and frustrations haunt my dreams, and spill over into my waking world. My birthday is just over a week away, and it has long been a time of conflict for me. Someone recently explained conflict as "the difference between expectation and reality." It is a very apt description. My expectation, formed through media and observation, is that a birthday is a happy occasion, a thing to be celebrated, especially as a child. However the reality of childhood birthdays was that they were a show, a grand gesture that my mother used to celebrate her greatness as a mother. It took me a long time to realize that the reason I found my birthday disappointing was that the celebrations never felt real. They lacked sincerity, and the grand gestures were overshadowed by other actions and words. My mother walks in a different reality, and suffers from martyr syndrome. She wants the world to glorify her for the "sacrifices" she has made, and she never failed to impart just how much she had sacrificed for me.

For the first twenty odd years of my life I heard a confusing mix of praise and censure. The praise seemed reserved for times when others were present, making me feel as if those words had less meaning. I felt like a doll on display and was always terrified that I would do something to screw it all up, and then I wouldn't get any words of praise false or otherwise. Away from the eyes and ears of other people my mother made it quite clear that she considered me worthless and unworthy of that praise. The was always a dark underlying current of this censure surrounding any birthday celebrations. Years of swimming in this mix of false sincerity and resentment left me doubting my own worth. Each year around my birthday, these feeling surge. Today was a particularly hard day, though I'm not sure why. The vicious cycle of it is that I then get angry at myself for being overwhelmed by these dark emotions.

It is hard for me to remember that ten years of therapy and self work cannot magically erase this old programming. I know, now, where I didn't before that I am a worthwhile person, and that I should celebrate my life. I have amazing friends, and a good life. I have had some wonderful adventures and am sure to have more. So I am telling myself that a good cry is okay, and being angry is okay. I just have to remember not to bottle it up and let it all fester. While my concentration today is shot, tomorrow is a different day.

Why post such a personal entry online? Because I am certain that others struggle with the same issues everyday, and sometimes it helps to know you are not alone. I needed to write out my thoughts on all this anyway; work through what I'm feeling and why and purge it from my system. Maybe this post will remind someone else that they are not alone. Maybe someone will have some ideas on how to silence old programing. Depression and childhood trauma are things that we don't like to talk about; dirty words and shamefully whispered secrets. Talking about it helps erase that shame. It is a chance to reclaim our lives and our histories. Maybe even a chance to help others understand. It isn't about pity or sympathy. It is about acknowledgment and empathy. There is a difference.


alee_grrl: A kitty peeking out from between a stack of books and a cup of coffee. (Default)

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