coping


Even as I posted yesterday, I realized that I had left something out.  With a title that focuses on coping, maybe I ought to actually explore to cope or what I am doing to try to cope.  Especially since today turned out to be rough, and I’ve been re-living the traumas of the last few years, and feeling some of how I felt back then.  It’s catching up with me a bit, afterall, but it still isn’t as bad as it was a year ago or even last Fall.  Rather than another list of hurts and traumas, today I think I will list some of the things I am doing to try to cope.

  • I did actually finish my master’s degree, and there was some thought that I put into the timing of it.  The extra time is a good thing right now.
  • I selected a job that gives me a chance to learn something that I am interested in, and also that I need for myself (DBT).
  • Signing up for classes just to keep me going and to spend time with people – exercise, bobbin lace, and going to the classes with someone (daughter, cousin) who shares those interests.
  • Working on friendships IRL, and online – trying to connect with people.
  • Finishing things – knitting projects, my degree, paperwork (hmm, maybe some of these things are still in progress, but I am working  on it).
  • Signed up for a free online self-esteem course, and working through it with a buddy so we can race each other and talk about it as we go, and keep each other on track.
  • Relaxation, meditation, and listening to a self-hypnosis program for self-esteem and confidence.
  • Music – both that that resonates with my mood, and some to distract and pull me out of it.
  • Continuing to practice and improve my own music skills (piano, violin, recorder, flute).
  • Reading a lot.
  • Chocolate, cocoa, warm herbal tea, hot baths, and my electric blanket and a cat on my lap.  Not necessarily all at the same time.

Hi again!  It’s me.  I’m still here.  I just realized that it has been five months since my last blog post though.  And I noticed that in my last post, I was really trying to stay positive, because my objective for this blog was to be positive, and for it to show my success story in my recovery.  So, I guess that means I don’t write if I don’t know how to be positive.  In that last post, I was making an effort, and I was trying to convince myself that powerlessness was an illusion and I didn’t have to give in to it.  Yeah, well, I recognize that date too.  Within a day or two after that post, things got worse at my job, and I gave up trying to salvage it.  I spent those days sitting in my office slicing up my arms when nobody was looking, and a month later I was starting to make suicide plans again – not seriously, but I was entertaining the thoughts.  I’m fairly safe with that now, because when those kinds of thoughts start, now the first thing I try to puzzle through is how to do it in a way that makes my point, but without having harmful effects on people who don’t deserve to be hurt, and since there isn’t a way to do that, I don’t get too far.

Anyway, I thought I would hold on to that job long enough to graduate from my master’s program so that I could get a real job in my field, because nobody would possibly be interested in hiring me within a month of graduating for a job that I would have to leave in order to do what I earned a degree in.  Besides, I wasn’t in the right place mentally and emotionally to try job-hunting and be very successful at it.  But when I asked for some time off, I was forced to resign instead (or have being fired on my record).  And I did eventually get a new job, even a job in my field, only part-time and at a significantly reduced income level.  But it’s a healthier atmosphere and better experience and I’m doing what I want to be doing.  I probably wouldn’t have gotten around to looking if I hadn’t lost the other job, so I guess they did me a favor.  I wish that I had been able to summon enough courage to leave earlier.  I wanted to have something else lined up first, and it wasn’t going to happen.

 Once I settled down and got out of self-destruct mode, I still spent at least two or three months in a dissociative fog, going through the motions and not feeling anything, and not connecting with anyone.  I woke up (I think I was in and out for a while), and realized it was winter.  Winter is always a difficult time for me.  I might start out trying to cope, but at some point generally too many things are going wrong and I give up.  But you know what?  I think I’ve made it through the worst of it for this year, and it didn’t get as bad as last year did.

I’ve been taking an inventory of what happened last year in January that built up and I didn’t cope with:

  • Starting internship, which increased demands on my time to 20 hours/week, volunteer, in addition to the usual stuff.
  • Policy change at work that required me to work more hours than I had been in order to maintain full-time status (and I couldn’t give up full-time status because it was the first time ever that I actually had benefits available – something I wasn’t willing to lose because I had felt like a non-person before when I was only part-time and felt invisible and unrecognized and disposible).
  • I actually planned to use one day of personal leave to go to a retreat with friends I hadn’t seen since two moves ago.  (I was very insecure about being able to take off and go and spend time on something for myself).
  • Because I felt guilty and had to “pay” for wanting to do something for myself, I allowed myself to be used.
  • The morning that I was planning to leave early and drive out to the retreat, I was immobilized by a sudden depression and confusion.  I couldn’t even figure out how to get dressed that day.  I missed most of the retreat, but made it for one hour the next day before having to leave for my badly needed therapy appointment.
  • Agitation, anxiety, etc. resulted in intense tooth-grinding and I broke a tooth on my way driving home after therapy.
  • Caught my hair on fire, reaching for my herbal tea from the shelf above the gas stove where the teapot was heating.
  • Extreme weather a few days later caused me to lose control of my car (a little plastic Saturn) and I couldn’t stop and ran into the back of a Hummer.  The Hummer was not damaged, my car was totaled, and I got the blame and a ticket, even though there were 200+ similar accidents on that stretch of highway that day, including one less than 200 yards behind me, at the same time as mine.  I wanted to fight the ticket, and got too worked up and couldn’t summon enough energy to try.
  • On the coldest day of the year, my beloved goat gave birth to triplets, lost them, and was down and unable to get up.  We lost her too, after two or three weeks trying to pull her through.
  • I didn’t realize that I wasn’t coping, and continued to try to juggle job, school, internship, and life.  But my clients could tell that I wasn’t ok, and my anxiety made them feel anxious.  All three of my clients asked me not to see them anymore, all the same week.
  • I fell behind at work, and supervisors became critical of everything I did, never again to recognize my efforts, improvements, successes, or that I put everything else on hold to focus on their priorities.

Ok, I think that summarizes what happened last year.  I never really did recover from all of that, and maybe I was not engaging with life even after most of it had changed, because I was bracing for a repeat of some of the same stuff.  The point – this year is not last year, and I think that I really am coping now.

This week, hopefully, should mark the end of my “bad season.”  Today is the anniversary date of my mental collapse, six years ago, that was my rock bottom, and my wake up call to start living my life.  This week is associated with that day, six years ago, and also losing my grandmother three years ago, and my brother’s suicide, two years ago (which I think was actually in March, but I throw it in here too).  Anniversary dates can be associated with a return of feelings from the past, and sometimes we dread those dates rolling around again.  It can help to take note of those feelings and where they come from, but it also helps to recognize that it isn’t happening now, and we can move on.  So, this is where I am now, and I will do my best to focus on moving forward from here.  Spring is coming, and I am listening to the heavy snow we got last week as it melts and drips off from my roof.  Soon it will be time to get outside and start working the garden.  Yeah, this year I’m planning to have time for a garden.