Tuesday, 22 March 2016

If I Feel Broken, Can I Be Fixed?

"Never be ashamed of a scar. It simply means you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you."   Unknown

It has been almost three years since I started writing, suggested by my therapist, as a great way to get the immortal hamster off the squealy infinity wheel of anxiety. 

Writing helps take the looping internal dialogue of negative self talk and stretch it out into a linear format, where it has a beginning and an end.  It's a bit  like taking a pencil and jamming it into the noisy hamster wheel.  

Ka-POW....

Which would probably send the hamster flying, or at least give him a tiny concussion, so I wouldn't really do that... but you get the idea.

At one point, the squeaky wheel was accompanied by a very loud clock, keeping time to the squealing wheel....

TICK -TOCK-TICK-TOCK.  SQUEAK...SQUEAK...

Not only were there a million things to do, a million things to fix, there was a countdown clock. 

Figure it out.
TICK TOCK TICK TOCK
Get yourself fixed.
SQUEAK, SQUEAK, SQUEAK...
HURRY UP FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!! 
Figure it out.
TICK TOCK TICK TOCK
Are you even trying???  I mean REALLY trying.....
Get yourself fixed.
SQUEAK, SQUEAK, SQUEAK, SQUEAK, SQUEAK, SQUEAK.....
AAAAHHHH! Another minute/day/week ---WHY AREN'T YOU BETTER YET???




It took me a longgggg......LONG time (let's be clear here, I mean years....) to really begin to accept the fact that there is no "fixed".

Let me repeat that people...THERE IS NO "FIXED".

But there may be feeling broken....and that one I can claim as my own.

In group therapy, people often talked about wanting things to go back to "the way they were" after whatever tipping point led them to our group(s) (yes, for me, there were a few groups).   

I am pretty sure it is bad form to look horrified when someone in group opens up to share their fear and sadness and darkest places, but if someone had snapped a photo of me when I heard that people wanted things to "go back to how they were", that is what they would have seen on my face.

"The way things were" for me was exhausted, angry, short tempered, fearful, ANXIOUS, judgemental and ANGRY.  I mention angry twice only because it was the most revolutionary "ah ha" moment--to realize how angry I was most of the time.




Good example:  While appearing to sit quietly on the couch, internally, I was having a very articulate, heated rant, complete with imagined hand gestures.... in my head.  The target was someone at work whose very existence, I was convinced, was to torment me with their stupidity.

Enter one of my kids with a question that required some sort of decision to be made: (ie.)  I didn't  finish my dinner but if I have some fruit, can I also have a cookie?

Picture the Exorcist head turn if you will.  

That would be me...toward said child...similar look on my face which could be read as:

CLEARLY I am in the middle of an IMPORTANT SELF RIGHTEOUS DIATRIBE HERE!!!!  AND YOU ARE INTERRUPTING IT????????? WHY???? FOR WHAT???

Ka-POW! 

"Cookie?  Whatever!"

Short tempered response---confused and hurt looking child---head swivel back to front...and back to my VERY IMPORTANT IMAGINARY WHIP LASH QUICK ENUMERATION OF IMAGINARY CONVERSATION! Now where was I.....

So yeah....that.....I do not want to go back to THAT.  THAT was how things were.  So.......going back to that....ummmmm.....not so much for me.

So if that was my "broken" I spent a lot of time trying to get to "fixed" ---with the tick-tock in the background. 

Everyone kept telling me there was no time limit, it was a process.  It would be hard.  There would be good days and bad days.  Problems will happen. You have no control over others, only yourself and how you choose to react.  Everything comes to an end.  You are doing the best that you can, and that is enough.
And then one day....I can't say when...or even if it was One Day....but then I finally felt it.  I would be ok---even if I wasn't feeling ok.

Things were good.  Great even!


I felt more connected, more understanding.  I listened more and talked less.  I meditated, took up yoga, started to eat better, sleep, and forgive myself and others for all our imperfections.  I did not go back to who I was before--miserable angry me.  I was fixed!

Then life trickled in again.  I went back to work.  Middle child moved in with us. I took on a new position at work WAY out of my comfort zone. I closed some doors on difficult relationships. ...and I felt the blackness scratching at the door. 

Silently, it slipped under and around, filling gaps and racing through any openings of self-doubt. 

Some days, I read emails as personal attacks.  Other days I wrote them...then deleted them...mostly...

Then the nerve pain stated in my back --again.

I started picking at my nails, and took note that I was going to bed and not being able to sleep because I was actually clenching my hands in fists.  I actually ground my teeth so hard that at work, twice, I spit out pieces of them in amazement.  




The dentist prescribed a mouth guard for grinding my teeth. (WHAT? Since when?  Oh wait....I am doing it now...  BREATHE....unclench jaw....unclench fists.)

The BOSS took me for coffee on a day when I felt particularly overwhelmed by where I found myself--able to see where I was headed, but like a bystander watching a car crash from inside their house---unable to say or do anything to stop it.

We talked about being healthy.  Mind, body and soul and what that looked like for me.  I remembered my yoga, my meditation---both tidily folded away now that I was "fixed" ---only brought out for "special occasions".   I remembered my green smoothies....my writing...my  Sista Perfectionista..my knitting... all things that brought me to a space of peace.

So this is what I know:

I know that self-care is crucial to my wellbeing.

I know I need to put good things in my body to keep it strong and healthy

I know I need meditation - EVERY DAY.  Whether it takes the form of a prescribed mediation or yoga or some progressive muscle relaxation in bed, I need to reboot my head at least once a day to ensure my operating systems are functioning to the best of their abilities.

I know I need to stay away from devices.  WAY too easy to get lost and distracted for a long time and miss the life in front of you, while later, beating yourself up for all that wasted time.  Device time needs limits.

I know I need to ask for help when I feel overwhelmed and I have great team ---a caring doctor, naturopath, therapist and psychiatrist.  I know that when I start avoiding them, that means I need to see them.

I know I am not FIXED.    There is no such thing really.  I was also never really broken...I was just deeply angry and fearful and disconnected from myself. 

Finally, I know that to continue on my path to find peace and happiness, there will be good days and bad days and that is just the way things are.  It takes work for me to feel good.  It is hard work. 




HARD.
WORK.  

I suffer from anxiety and depression and those are REAL THINGS.......and just like you work to manage other health issues like diabetes or asthma.....his takes work too.  Most importantly, if I stop doing the work, I will find myself back in a place I don't want to be.

I have a mental illness.  It is real.  I can't just "think happy thoughts", "buck up", "get over it" (try saying "you are just not trying very hard to breathe!"  to someone with asthma....)

But there are things I can do and I will continue to work at them every day because....

I AM A WORK IN PROGRESS!

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