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Archive for September, 2012

Listening to Your Body

Listening to my body is such a new and exciting experience for me that I will probably keep returning to this topic as I explore it. Many of my lifelong struggles could have been simplified immensely if I had simply been able to listen to my body. All that I needed to know was right here in front of me, but I was unable to connect with my body for so long because of the disconnection after the child abuse.

As an example, I have been drinking water like crazy over the past few days but did not know why – I just could not get enough water in my body. It finally hit me this morning – I have been recovering from feeling “brain fried,” and readers have advised me repeatedly to drink lots of water whenever I am processing trauma. I have no idea why drinking water is relevant, but I drank much more water yesterday and felt much better.

Another example is my body weight. I battled an eating disorder (binge and compulsive overeating) for most of my life, and my weight has stayed 25-30 lbs over my ideal body weight for decades. I tried just about every diet imaginable, but nothing ever seemed to work.

I am listening to my body about what, when, and how much to eat, and my weight keeps dropping. I stepped on the scale this morning, and my weight was the lowest it has been since the mid-1990’s. The ironic part is that I feel like I eat all the time!

My body does not want three large meals a day. Instead, it wants five smaller meals, and one of those meals (my afternoon snack) can even be junk food (but not chocolate) as long as the others are healthy. My body does not want more than about 300 calories in a sitting, so my total caloric intake is probably half of what it used to be, but I feel like I am eating all the time and getting to eat what I want because what I want is now aligned with what my body needs. This is such a foreign concept to me!

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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Brain Feeling Fried: Effect

PhotobucketRead this blog entry first for the background situation.

When I was driving like an old woman desperately trying to see the road in extremely heavy rain, my brain/mind/consciousness started to split. I had the thought that I don’t want to be in this situation, and my brain was ready to split off into an alter part to take over so that the rest of my consciousness could flee. I resisted the urge to do it, but it gave me a massive headache and also flooded me with panic, which was the last thing I needed when I was trying to focus on driving on an Interstate highway in such heavy rain.

When the car kept turning itself off, the panic slammed me harder, and hub criticizing me (yes, I get that he was feeling helpless and out of control since he wasn’t the one behind the wheel) compounded the situation. Then, when I did the wrong thing in trying to get the stalled car to start again while under a sheet of rain, thunder, and lightning with cars behind me trying to get through an intersection, my brain went into overload and back to the reactions of a traumatized child. I could not emotionally handle the situation and felt detached and distant from it.

Thankfully, hub took over driving, and the car seems to be working fine again. Also, we drove out of the storm within minutes, so the “danger” was over by this point. However, I could not pull out of feeling “brain fried.” My head was killing me. My heart was racing, and I had to take a Xanax to calm down, but even that did not work very well. I kept crying.

When I get emotional like this, I try to activate the logical part of my brain, so I pulled out a Sudoku puzzle. Hub would try to explain why he was yelling, and I just kept yelling back that the last thing I need in a stressful situation is to be told that I am incompetent – he can either be supportive or shut up. Later, hub apologized and tried to get me talking, but I told him the two options in that moment were for me to cry or do my puzzle, so please leave me alone, which he did.

When we got home, I laid down for an hour because my head hurt so badly, and I was “off” for the rest of the night. My head felt better in the morning, but I noticed that I was still “off.” I start each morning replying to emails, and I always reread them to look for typos. I could not believe how many typing errors I was making, which is very unusual for me. I can tell that my brain is still recovering from the past couple of days because it shows up in my writing. In fact, my partner over at Adoption Under One Roof always emails me to ask me what’s wrong if she sees a blog entry with more than a couple of errors.

I know I am going to be OK, but I am going to have to take it easy today and give myself plenty of time for rest. I am writing this on my first full day back from the trip, which isn’t the best day for rest because I always have a lot of reentry issues to deal with – grocery shopping, picking up the dogs from boarding, etc. – in addition to my work responsibilities. However, I know that my brain is “fried” right now, and I cannot function at 100% — I need to slow down and give myself a chance to heal.

Does anyone else go through dynamics like this?

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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I have this situation happen periodically, so I want to write about it while I am in it. I know I am going to be OK and won’t be able to represent what it feels like in the moment unless I write about it while I am in this place. Typically, I withdraw so I can heal and get back to “normal,” but I am going to push through to write about it in case this is also helpful to others.

Hub, child, and I went to the beach for Labor Day Weekend. Hub and child are both high-maintenance in different and opposite ways, so I try to be as adaptable as possible so we can all get along and have a good time.

Hub and 11-year-old child had a huge argument in front of me in the car that went from 0 to 150 MPH in about three seconds. If I could have thought fast enough to intervene, I would have, but each said the absolutely WORST possible thing to push the other’s buttons, so the argument flew out of control quickly. There was nothing physical involved – just yelling – but it was intense with me being the only one in the car “getting” how deeply the emotional wounds were being inflicted back and forth with each response.

I did finally get things calmed down between them after about an hour, but I do believe a certain amount of long-term damage has been done to their relationship. I have tried to explain to each separately that they have different love languages and that just because X means Y to one does not mean that X means Y to the other. I don’t think the bigger picture was resolved and that more of these situations will arise.

Then, the next day, I was driving us home on the Interstate highway when we drove right into the heaviest storm I have had the misfortune to encounter in a car. The windshield wipers on the fastest speed we are good as sitting still, and I could barely see two feet in front of me. I could barely hear hub’s criticisms about how slowly I was driving (about 40 MPH) over the noise of the storm, and most cars were either pulling over or flashing their hazard lights so we wouldn’t hit each other. I gradually made my way over to the right-hand lane so I could get off on the next exit while hub kept telling me to pull under a bridge so he could drive if I “couldn’t handle it.”

When we found an exit, the car kept turning itself off while we were stopped at a light. The car died again while I was driving it through an intersection. I panicked in trying to turn it back on (it would not turn on in Drive), and trying to get it to Park to turn it on did something really funky to the transmission. Hub started yelling because I was tearing up the transmission, and child started screaming because he was frightened of being stranded in a car in the middle of a heavy storm. Hub got the car into neutral so I could start it again (I had never heard that is what you are supposed to do – never came up in Driver’s Ed, I guess), and we were able to pull into a gas station. Hub drove home from there, and of course, the storm ended within a few minutes of him taking over.

My emotional reaction tomorrow…

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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This blog entry continues the topic I started yesterday.

I take no issue with my sister’s therapist having a different opinion of what might be going on with me than what I believe is happening. My sister’s therapist has never met me, and everything she knows about me is filtered through my sister (who posts on this blog as Lydia). Lydia’s therapist’s focus is on Lydia, not me, and on helping Lydia navigate the waters of trying to maintain a relationship with both me and momster when I am 100% cutting momster out of my life. Trying to understand the mental health status of both of us is fair game in Lydia’s therapy as far as I am concerned.

My therapist’s opinion of what is going on with me carries more weight than Lydia’s therapist’s opinion based upon secondhand information, and I am sure the same is true for Lydia if my therapist made any sort of comments about her own state of mental health. The therapist that has gotten to know the patient is in a much better position to observe and diagnose the state of mental health of the patient than someone receiving secondhand information.

The biggest difference between the momster/me situation and the Lydia/me situation is that I have a mental health professional who has evaluated me over a period of years, and momster does not. This means that if my sister needed a professional opinion on my state of mental health, I have someone who could provide it whereas there is no mental health professional involved with momster. We only have her word that she is “normal,” but her behavior screams otherwise.

My sister (Lydia) had some interesting comments after reading my accounting of what my friend said was in momster’s letter. Her reaction was the context definitely sheds a different light on the same facts. Lydia has heard the stories about the cows and the play directly from momster and received them in a very different light. She could see how my friend could have the reaction she did but also has a different perspective on what was intended in the letter.

I told Lydia, and Lydia 100% supported this, that the intention of momster is irrelevant for my decision-making on continued contact. The comments might be as innocent as Lydia believes, or they might be as calculated as my friend believes. Either way, my focus needs to be on MY reaction to the letter, not on what was going on in momster’s head when she wrote the letter. For better or for worse, contact from momster is toxic to me, and I don’t want it in my life. Lydia supports my decision, and we haven’t even talked about momster once other than this conversation after she called me about the logistical issue she was having in trying to post.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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Man at DeskThanks to the momster drama, back to school activities, traveling, getting a promotion at my job, and getting sick last week, I am embarrassingly behind on reading through the comments. When I logged into my email account (where I receive email copies of all comments as well as emails from readers), I had over 500 messages – Yikes! It is going to take me a while to catch up.

My sister, who occasionally visits and posts as “Lydia,” called me about a logistical issue she was having with one of her comments, which is how I found out about discussions concerning what her therapist said about my momster situation. You can read the discussions here.

Different readers have posted different comments regarding my sister’s therapist’s views about me as well as my therapist’s views about my mother possibly having schizophrenia, so I would like to address those in my next two blog entries.

In neither case did a therapist “diagnose” someone that s/he had not talked with. In both cases, the patient (me re: momster and Lydia re: me) sought to talk with the therapist about concerns with someone in her life who might have mental health issues. The therapist’s observations were based solely on the patient’s representation of the other person’s behavior, which is always going to be filtered through the patient’s accounts of the third party’s behavior. The goal of those discussions is to help the patient work through her feelings about interactions with the other person.

Let’s focus on my situation in this blog entry…I have always known that momster’s interactions with the world was “off,” and I have numerous reasons to believe that she is likely mentally ill. I could go on for days with examples, but one of the most concerning symptoms is her hearing “G*d” audibly talking to her and telling her to do odd things. As a child, I thought that she was more religious than I was and a prophet since G*d talked to people in the Bible, but as I grew older, I recognized that the messages she was receiving were definitely odd. Her interactions with other people are simply not rational and never have been.

Momster has never sought out a diagnosis from the mental health community because she does not believe there is anything wrong with her. She truly believes that the reason that nobody else is hearing G*d audibly talking to them is because they are not prophets like she is. Emotionally healthy people tend to stay away from her because her behavior is so erratic.

I talked with my therapist about her symptoms to help me make sense of them and unravel my own reactions to having been raised by a mentally-ill woman. He never diagnosed her with anything, but he said her symptoms are consistent with schizophrenia. I did my own research and agree with him. No, she has never been diagnosed with a mental illness, but that does not mean that she is not mentally ill. I needed to have a frame of reference from my end to help me heal from my interactions with her regardless of whether she ever chooses to seek professional help, and I did not need to limit my own ability to heal from our relationship based upon whether or not she chose to seek help.

More tomorrow…

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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