November 21, 2012
I was a metal-head and a punk, but my appreciation for music goes far beyond that. I was a musician. I guess I should use that in the present tense–I AM a musician. But I have trouble accepting that, always have.
I’m now faced with declined hearing due to the OI. I’m starting to wear my hearing aide more often (I have two but one needs adjustment), particularly when I sing and want to enjoy undertones in music. Going deaf is one of my biggest fears. I often think that I’ll definitely kill myself if that ever happens.
But lately, I’ve been calmer, more generally content–not happy, just content. I don’t like the word happy. My contentment, however, has reached back out to the warm embrace of music, the one thing that has saved my life before.
I picked up my ukulele a few months ago when I was in the dark and the PLDs had moved in again. And though I haven’t played recently, I still plan to play it and eventually maybe write songs again. Most of my songs start off as poems anyway, so maybe (just maybe) I could adapt some of my NaPoWriMo poems as uke songs.
Oh right, Lana! So on my Borderline Girl Song Week Thirteen post, I posted a Lana Del Rey Song. Her real name is Lizzy Grant. In that post, I called her pretentious but good. I suppose though, that pretentious is just a label given to any musician that takes their music seriously. So I will back away from that word. I’ve been listening to her more and more. Surprisingly, despite my minuscule stature, I sing better in her register, or rather, women who sing in lower, contralto registers like two of my favorites–Amy Winehouse and Fiona Apple.
I’m liking her more and more. I want to sing again and shout out loud. But I’m afraid. Afraid I’ll fail. Afraid I’ll quit like I have before. I can’t let the fear of my hearing loss take control of my actions though.
Here she is singing live. Oh, yeah, and it turns out she CAN sing very well live. It just depends.
August 12, 2012
I decided to start taking pictures on my way to therapy. These are a few I’ve taken in the last two weeks. I’ll have to take my actual, semi-pro camera out next time instead of using my old phone.
Click to see the gallery.
As I waited for the bus to the university, I read this passage from Woman Hollering Creek by Sandra Cisneros:
“Because those who suffer have a special power don’t they? The power of understanding someone else’s pain. And understanding is the beginning of healing.”
Went to therapy today. The bus ride wasn’t as “fun” as the one last week, though the Houston heat today was much less piercing and much more enjoyable. I was reminded of how many stories I have from years of riding the bus. The people I encounter, I just want to write about them. So many people. I want to write about people.
As far as the actual session. I feel it wasn’t as productive as last week and a part of me wants to quit already, but I know that the thought of quitting therapy is a bit ridiculous since it’s one of my biggest life lines right now. And my homework assignment? Write down negative thoughts that cause intense, negative emotions tand challenge those with cognitive behavioral methods of cognitive restructuring. I’ll explain later.
For now, enjoy some of my ridiculous thoughts. I had some of these on my bus journey to the university campus. Some I had when I woke up from my nap. We all have them, some of us just believe them. I’m one of those.
That black albino girl looks like she came out of the Fifth Element. Why is she still staring? Oh, kids, they stare. She’s kinda cute and very albino, like the dude from the Da Vinci Code. Book was better. Ugh, kids stare because you’re so tiny, it’s just a fact of life. It’s better than ADULTS staring with that OH HOLY GOD WHAT IS THAT, look. Let me just wave my hand and smile–show her I acknowledged her little cute staring. Ooh, hey there, works every time!
Is the whole world fucked or what? That fucker honking at us! Good going albino girl’s mom. Tell him off! Shit, but calm down lady. Don’t go off that hard.
Swimming is only going to make you go deaf quicker. Why do you think your ears are itchy all the time? Swimmer’s ear? Yeah, and that’s just your ear’s nerve cell’s dying P.
Monkey Man needed you and you failed him.
You need a gun. No, a gun wouldn’t work for you. Shit, all those new shiny pills might.
You’re such a bitch. Let go of that thought.
Ugh, don’t use that word in the negative sense! Luna is a little bitch and she’s awesome.
They think you’re an asshole. Why else would you get so many views after writing that last post? So many hushed readers, no bitch? You worthless piece of…
But he saved three dogs from an abandoned warehouse several months ago. Yeah, and now he wants to cheat on his wife. And you’re his object of desire. What does that make you?
You won’t be able to go another day without texting him something sexual.
Lamotrigine is only going to make your hearing loss and tinnitus worse.
Can I just have a roomful of people I can punch? Matter fact, make it a room full of babies!
Your therapist is plotting to kill you, just like your psychiatrist is. Don’t believe them.
This feeling is unbearable. Tear your skin off instead. It’ll feel good.
Oh no, no no. That interview with the reporter is going to suck tomorrow. You’ll say something stupid, I’m sure.
You want to do something with all those new shiny pills don’t you? You think you can’t handle this? Ha!
Oh no! Now that you’ve shared this, the bloggie people will be able to read your mind!
Alright, I’ll stop there. Yes, I was a Cranberries fan in my younger days. Enjoy!
Oh look, it’s young Frodo–I mean, little Elijah Wood. God, I feel like I’m reliving some of my childhood in these songs…
July 30, 2012
As I mentioned in the previous post, I started therapy again three weeks ago. I’m seeing her on Wednesdays. This Wednesday will be my fourth session.
The second session I had with Brunet Young was just as productive as the first, but the third surprised me. Did I actually say all that? Yes, yes you did P. At ‘a girl!
It’s a good thing when you know what you’re getting yourself into when starting therapy. The same could not be said when I first went to see a counselor after my monumental mental meltdown in 2008. I had no idea what to expect then; I even walked out, or rolled out, of a therapist’s office in frustration in 2009. But this time… I have goals this time!
I came into therapy just as desperate, but more ready than ever. I know my borderline personality disorder (BPD) diagnosis, I’m more sure of the bipolar tendencies if the psychiatrist is right, and I’ve learned some basic dialectical behavioral skills training from Ex-Young Therapist as well as core training in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
I’m barely driving out of hell, but I have a tank full of gas, me thinks. That’s hope for ya.
On the second session, much like the first, we went over major areas of my life that need working on. I asked Brunet Young if she could tell me what it was she remembered about my history from the consultation team so I could fill in the rest as best I could.
I told her things like, “the overdose from two months ago was not my first, but definitely the worst” and “I have a history of abuse, though my views on it change. I mean, you have to understand our culture is different. But, it’s a fine line no?” I told her about my mother’s past suicidal tendencies, her upbringing, her sister’s (my aunt’s) suicide and so on. She already knew about my immigration situation, my medical problems, my tendency toward isolation, and my body image issues, so I didn’t have to go into that with her.
We talked a lot about how Monkey Man’s recent and sudden death has affected me, how I was drugged up with him much of the time we were together (off and on), but how I always tried to get him to stop drinking. We discussed ways in which I can work up my courage to call his step-mom and/or dad to ask about the toxicology report results again.
On and on we went. I couldn’t believe myself.
Towards the end of the session, she did something I was so thankful for. She asked me to write a list of issues I thought I hadn’t had a chance to go over with Ex-Young Therapist.
My dad had taken me that second day and, on the way out, he said something that bothered me a little.
“She’s not good like the Ex-Young Therapist is she?”
“Why?” I asked.
“Well, she didn’t say hi to me as kindly as the other one.”
After the initial frustration this remark induced, a light bulb lit up in my head! Aha! I have to discuss this with Brunet Young, not this in particular, but my dad. I have to discuss how I think some of my black and white thinking patterns about myself lead back to his black and white thinking. I didn’t get into depth discussing my dad much with Ex-Young Therapist. I did a little, but more toward the end, or just when issues arose. In fact, because we focused so much on me learning DBT skills, the therapy process and focus remained on present problems and not past, “unresolved” problems.
Last Wednesday, I decided to take the bus for our third session. It was better for all of us. My dad didn’t have gas money and I wanted the liberty of no off-handed comments.
It was an hour and a half bus ride; I have to take two buses and the MetroRail downtown but that’s a hell of a lot better than waiting on ole MetroLift’s shifty ass.
I arrived on time and with my homework assignment completed.
Here is my list of “past problems” I didn’t get to discuss with Ex-Young Therapist. And I added a bonus for Brunet Young. I added some therapy goals–totally my idea.
I’m on a roll. I’m telling you. Here’s what I wrote down for her:
Goals for Therapy
*Manage Panic attacks and chronic pain
*Reduce suicidal and self-injurious impulses/actions/urges and manage the thoughts better. (No more overdosing!)
*Increase support network
-> continue rebuilding relationship with brother
-> get into that DBT group at BT (keep calling! don’t desist!)
-> get involved again in community organizing/activist orgs.
* Interpersonal effectiveness -> review
* Distress tolerance -> review and continue practice!
* Develope a more consistent daily ruitine to include: writing/blogging, sketching, watching Lynda.com tutorials, planing, swimming/yoga, playing ukulele again, and getting a job after filing the immigration papers!
-> remember to do one thing at a time
-> break down into smaller chunks
-> plan ways to reduce stressful situations, not increase or worsen them
* Continue healthy eating / no binging
* Work on self-validation
* Work on healthier ways to deal with complicated grief
-> Monkey Man L’s death and guilt about death
-> hearing loss
* Ask about/look into other methods such as IFS (Internal Family Systems) and Schema Mode therapies.
* Mother’s verbal and physical abuse (I really hate the way I wrote this one because, honestly, I feel closer to my mother than my father and I love them both very much, even when they piss me off. And my mom’s changed for the better after getting help herself.)
* Dad’s continued invalidation and overbearing tendencies (not to mention the fact that I still have to depend on him financially)
* Medical Trauma (e.g. still need to deal with jaw incident and set up a date for surgery, continued nerve pain, decreased bone density, past accidents that led to ER, prolonged stays at hospital during childhood; loads of surgeries)
* Sexuality and validation issues (e.g. what happened with Dusty and Emily)
*Repetetive compulsion with alcohol and drugs (mainly alcohol and self-harm)
* Maladaptive core beliefs (e.g. I am not a “good” person, I’m “a burden,” etc.)
Yep, so that’s what I have so far. We went over this list I wrote, which she said was very good. I think it’s a good starting point too. And since I was able to write it out, it helped when she asked to explain what I meant by “sexuality and validation issues”. That’s when I brought up Sir Dusty and a lot of other things I may or may not mention here. Man, it was hard work!
July 29, 2012
Fuck my bleeding ears! I’m trying to stay positive. I really am. I’m relying on my inner wisdom.
And these days, I’m maintaining a better outlook more than not, which is the complete opposite of what could be said a month and half ago. I feel funny though, and not previous-post funny. The anxiety has just been maddening.
On Friday night, when I hung out with my brother, I ended up staying over the night. Well, around 4am (as usual these days), I woke up with chest pain, feeling like I was having a heart attack. You’re not having a heart attack P. This is just anxiety. I was nauseated, felt the same old prickly feeling in my toes and hands and was shivering too. So I woke up my brother and asked him for another blanket. I told him what I felt and he agreed about the anxiety.
Earlier Friday, I was eating lunch with my dad at the kitchen table. We had arepas and queso and coffee. I hadn’t even touched my coffee yet and my hands were trembling. (I swear, I’ve been cutting back substantially on the coffee.)
“Your hands are shaking really bad. Why are they shaking like that?” he asked.
“I think I’m just having a lot of anxiety right now.” I lowered my head.
“I don’t know. It’s a lot of things, I guess.”
“It looks as if you had Parkinson’s”
Ah my dad, good ole papi. Gotta love the way he throws in something that sounds both amusing and insulting or hurtful (to me) without even meaning to–but sometimes meaning to. I’d made a joke about looking like Michael J. Fox during an interview on my very second (or third) post here! So, yes, this isn’t new. But now it’s noticeable to my dad even?
Today, right now, I’m feeling the same way. I hope it passes soon. I hope typing will at least keep me at ease a little while.
I wonder if it’s the medication that’s making it worse. Almost every morning it’s the same.
At the end of May, a few weeks after the incident, I saw the psychiatrist. She had the Fluoxetine/Prozac upped. I keep wondering, how did I get here? Accepting drugs from a psych? For me, taking “medication” is last, last, last resort.
I saw her again this past Thursday. She said something that both surprised and didn’t surprise me.
“I’m thinking… you seem to have bipolar, bipolar two,” she said midway through our appointment. These appointments, by the way, are actually forty-five minutes long. Ok. Well, at the moment, labels don’t matter to me much. I just need all the help I can get. I don’t want another incident to occur, for the sake of those around me at least. But in part, for my sake too. And that’s a good thing! It means I’m seeing light at the end of the tunnel, despite the way I’m feeling.
Long story short, she prescribed Lamotrigine/Lamictal. I haven’t gotten it yet. I barely ran out of Tegretol last week and didn’t bother to get it filled. Well, there’s was more to it than that. There was the money issue. It’s rough right now. I just wish I could handle things better, without getting so frantic, so worked up inside… Swimming is the only time I don’t feel like I’m drowning!
And now I’m to try yet another drug?
I don’t know. I just don’t know…
But therapy. Right!
I finally got in three weeks ago. The very first week, we covered a lot.
She’s also a young brunet like Ex-Young Therapist, but it’s a university, so what was I expecting, an old student? Anyway, we covered basics, like what I did with my Ex-Young Therapist, what worked, what didn’t work. Turns out this new therapist (I’m going to call her Brunet Young) worked in a team with Ex-Young Therapist, so she already knew a little bit about me. A consultation team is part of dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT).
After going over some of the basics, like major problems in my life, she mentioned the overdose incident from early May. Has it been two and a half months already?
“In the intake interview, you mentioned that you didn’t consider the overdose a suicide attempt. Why is that?” Brunet Young asks.
“Um… I’m not sure,” I reply. I stammer around and stutter for a little while. “Maybe it’s because I have a hard time seeing it as that. But also, I think I was gambling. I was playing Russian roulette. I told myself that if I died that night, then fine, but if I didn’t, I would have to just try a lot harder. I mean, I would’ve definitely taken the entire bottle had I wanted it to be more sure…a more definite thing.”
“How much did you take?”
“About eight painkillers and two sleeping pills.”
“And you were ok with the fact that you might’ve died as a result?”
“Yes, I was.” It’s scary to think, but at the time, I was.
“You know, from a clinical perspective, there is a distinction between suicide attempts. There’s an active suicide attempt and a passive one. What you describe is a more passive attempt.”
She made sure to emphasis that it was still considered an attempt. Or at least that’s how I heard it.
We then wrote up a crisis plan, which looks a little something like this.
When I feel upset and have thoughts of hurting myself or someone else, or I feel that I am in emotional crisis, I will take the following steps:
1. My warning signs are (e.g. very self-critical, hopeless, isolation, staying in bed)
-passive thoughts of suicide increase in frequency and become clearer, more of an urge/stronger urge
-insomnia and crying spells worsen
-triggers (e.g. Monkey Man, relationships, drugs, reminders, etc) –> anger/rage
-isolating myself –> not picking up calls, curling up in bed and staring blankly, dissociating
-being upset about hearing loss; being upset on days when I’m not able to go swimming
-chronic bone pain intensifies; facial nerve pain increases
2. My reasons to live are:
– I can do a lot for others. I have potential to do a lot.
-I don’t want to hurt my family
That’s all I have for reasons right now. I used to have career plans, but that’s not strong-holding at the moment. It has to be something that you really believe, something that will grab you, will keep you from doing anything permanent–a true deterrent. I think I need to come up with more. I told Brunet Young this and she said, “It’s alright, we’ll come up with more later.” I thought of adding “love”. Just focus on the word love, the meaning of it for me, how I’ve managed to hold on to “love” in my life. But love of what? Art? Life? Beauty? Family? How can you focus on that in a “crisis” situation when all you’re thinking about is the pain you’re in and peaceful bliss of death and non-existance?
3. Do these things to calm myself or distract myself:
-say serenity prayer and Buddha refuge prayer
-If at home, call Luna, pet and cuddle with her. (The good thing about Luna is if she hears me crying, I don’t even have to call her over. She finds me. Sweetest dog ever.)
-remember “Distress Tolerance” –> follow breath, deep breathing
-self sooth –> hum a tune, splash water on face, take warm bath, play ukulele
-write, write, write
-read, read, read
-watch TV (comedy preferably)
-stretch with yoga mat
-image focus –>meditate
-progressive muscle relaxation
-review “coping card”
-take a short nap and/or break from whatever you’re doing (e.g. go out in the fresh air and walk the dogs)
4. Contact a friend or family member that I can trust:
name & number: answering service at PRSC –>that’s the university’s psychological research and services center
Also, I’ve listed my brother, mom, and maybe B and Mansie, Ryden and Eloise, although I’m having a hard time with this one. I’ll really need to work at it.
5. Call PRSC and ask to speak with my therapist
6. If it is after clinic hours (M-Th 9-8; F 9-5) and I can’t reach my therapist, call the PRSC after-hours answering service at **********
7. Call a hotline for support or assistance:
I also have several other local hotline numbers included here. But I don’t do hotlines. It’s not how I roll.
8. If I am unable to get help quickly enough and feel that things can’t wait, I will call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room for help.
The thing about the crisis plan is that I have only been able to get myself to do steps one through three, maybe four. I’m able to recognize warning signs and use methods like distress tolerance and mindfulness, but contacting a “trusted” person is difficult. That’s the thing, on Friday, I did contact my brother, but I did it after too much thinking. Also, I don’t tell him how bad I feel, I just ask him what’s up. Brunet Young said that was fine, I don’t exactly have to tell him, especially not now if I’m not comfortable doing so. The important thing is to distract in non-harmful ways.
Another difficulty I’m having with this crisis plan is knowing the “answering service” after hours aren’t open on weekends. I’ll have to ask her about this. But even then, I’m not the type of person who would call. I think I only called Ex-Young Therapist twice or maybe three times during a “crisis situation”. And that was after two years of seeing her! One of those times was a few days after I found out about Monkey Man’s death this March.
I used to hate the idea of therapy. Sometimes I still do. Right now though, I’m just glad I finally got in again.