Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cultivating Irises

My session yesterday was productive. I must say, I am proud of myself for asking for what I need: a toolkit to help me with the daily struggles of depression. Of course, that is what the therapy is for-- DUH -- but I feel like the therapy is more of a long-term investment/solution. A process to really get to the root of whatever it is that leads me to depression in the first place. (Or, as I think of it, what layer of behavior depression is loaded up on top of the biological depression ans start unpacking all that stuff.) I explained that I would like some tools of a more immediate sort to help me deal with the funks while we work together on the long-term Depression.

This may seem obvious, but it finally became clear to me that what a lot of this is about is control. When I am in a funk and don't know it and feel helpless it is because I don't have control. My emotions have control over me. So, first things first*: I need to pay closer attention to my emotions, to how I am feeling when I am not in a funk, when one is coming on, and when I am in the grips of one. I need to become, oh, a tad more self-aware. The goal is to quit allowing the depression and anxiety to control me.

I have to know what it is that is controlling me before I can exert my own power of it.


I have started up my yoga practice again and have incorporated a deliberate meditation segment into my practice. I must say, I am already getting so much more out of the yoga just because I can focus and concentrate. My body and mind are getting more out of the poses, and I am finally (That is one thing that signals to me I am entering a funk - I can't concentrate for shit.) I am so much more able to focus on my breathing and make that a central part of the practice. It is exhilarating. (Am I annoying? I don't want to be one of those smug sons'-of-guns who swear yoga can cure cancer, save the owls, protect puppies and prevent war. Though,I do think it just might be able to prevent war. Anywhoooo...) Regardless, I am getting so much more out of it this time around.

I am just beginning to learn the Metta Bhavana meditative practice. It is a Buddhist tradition that teaches Lovingkindness. Lovingkindness toward myself and others. Imagine that!

A major component of this practice is learning to cultivate emotions. To become aware of my own emotions and to learn to cultivate them. To nurture and grow and direct them. Cultivate. What a wonderful word.

I am hoping to discover and find that space, that space of contemplation and reflection to recognize my emotions. That space will give me the room to greet my emotions and decide how to engage with them. Rather than immediately reacting to my emotions, I will learn to discern them and choose my response. I will learn to have power over my emotions. I will learn how to manipulate those emotions in a kind way, rather than letting the emotions manipulate me in a cruel way.

I have no disillusions that this will be a long, sometimes frustrating, journey. What isn't, nowadays? But I really, really think it will be worthwhile.

Do any of you meditate? Have you tried to develop a practice? What surprised you about it? What hurdles did you encounter?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Mundane Steps in the Journey

Yesterday was an off day. I has a really, really hard time getting out of bed, and then as soon as I got home from work I curled up on the couch and didn't move. It was less that I couldn't get out of bed and more that I didn't care to. Either way, kind of scary and not fun. I was lethargic and blah all day. It wasn't the worst day I've had, but it was the first 4 day (on my little scale of 1 to 10) since being on meds.

All of this reminds me to bring up with my therapist tomorrow that I really, really want to learn some behavioral changes/tools/techniques that I can employ when feeling a funk coming on or find my self in the middle of one. I have some tools I use for anxiety attacks; I'd like a similar toolchest to help me with the funky days, too.

I noticed myself saying, "I should get up," "I should do the dishes," "I should go read for The Thesis," etc. After a while, I reminded myself that it was okay to have an off day. I reminded myself I don't have to believe those "shoulds." Tomorrow will be better.


I am feeling a bit better today.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Five

1. My meeting with my Thesis Advisor went wonderfully! I am shifting the focus of The Thesis slightly in a direction I am much more interested in and the best part - I GET IT. I understand what the hell I am trying to do.


Interestingly, this New and Improved Thesis Direction is nearly identical to what I pitched to my Former Thesis Advisor that got shot down. 

2. Seeing as how I am PUMPED and EXCITED and LOOKING FORWARD to working on The Thesis again, I took today off from the office to stay home and work. I usually feel guilty taking any time off from the office for any reason, whether it be sickness or to visit family. But, I've decided I am worth the time. My life and my interestes are worth my time. Quite the shift, yes?

3. It turned out to be the perfect day to take off; we got six inches of wet, heavy snow last night, and three more inches are expected before midnight. It has been a great day to just hole up in the small home office with a warm cup of tea.

4. I wish I could adequately explain how much better my life has been over the past few months. Thank you again for cheering me on as I take thes steps toward a happier and healthier road.

5. The most exciting news of the week has been that A. defended his masters' case studies and is officially done with his dual-masters!!!!!  Wahoo!

Congrats, Babe. I am so, so proud of you. 

Happy Friday to you!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hello, Thesis? It's Me, Artemisia

Tomorrow, I have a meeting with my Thesis Advisor. I am a bit nervous about it, sure, but I am not overcome with anxiety and HOLY SHIT is that ever awesome.

I am in a very, very different place with The Thesis than I was before. (More on that later. Much more.) I am more confident that I can be productive and I can finish the damn thing. However, I don't know what finishing looks like.

A combination of my poor ability to concentrate, massive anxiety attacks around anything to do with The Thesis, resulting avoidance, and, -- when present -- very poor and sporadic "direction" from my former advisor have resulted in me NOT KNOWING WHAT THE HELL I AM DOING.

My question to you, then, is how to I communicate this to my advisor?  I have decided not to worry about convincing him that THIS TIME I will finish. Why worry about it? No, I will just let completed work speak for itself and change his mind, if necessary.

But first, I have to get to a VERY CLEAR place with a VERY CLEAR game plan or I am afraid the crippling anxiety might come back. (I am hoping that if there are still some episodes here and there that they will be less severe and more manageable.) The direction I was going never felt comfortable to me; it was just the latest fucking "suggestion" my former advisor threw at me. I never really understood it, and hoped it would come to me as I muddled through readings, observations and surveys. It didn't, but I didn't look for it too hard, either.

The chapter I turned in is a loose rendition of a lit review with some theoretical maneuvering for giggles. I am basically hoping it will serve as a springboard for my advisor and I to discuss just what the hell this thesis can be and help me redefine the problem as something I UNDERSTAND.

I am just nervous how to bring this all up. Thoughts? Suggestions? How, er, blunt should I be with My Advisor? I feel like the more honest I am about where I am - or am not - with regards to The Thesis will result in a more productive meeting. I don't want to bring up the depression and anxiety, necessarily, because I don't want it to appear as an excuse or a reason to treat me with kid gloves. But, I do need my chair to understand that I need some help, some direction at this point.

Erg, what a mess! I cannot freakin' wait to have something esle to fret about. Goodness.

Happy Monday to you!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Wild Purple Irises

My session yesterday went much, much better than the previous one. I felt like we were communicating, I didn't feel defensive, and when she reiterated what she felt like she was hearing, it didn't sound like it came out of left field but that it was still something new for me to consider. So, I am going to see this month's appointments out and see how I feel about the therapist. If I am still ambivalent in a couple of weeks, then I am going to go therapist shopping. I deserve it, yes?


The past couple of weeks have been , well, exciting as well as a total relief. What has surprised me the most, in "coming out" to you and to others in my life, is the realization of just how much damned energy it took to hide this from so many for so long. (Not the least of whom, myself. DUH.) I feel so fucking REFRESHED, like I just woke up from a perfect, cool nap on a spring afternoon.

It has been exhausting, finding excuses to avoid everyone and to so carefully perform this version of myself for everyone so as to not be found out. I am simply, genuinely, tremendously exhausted. I was so terrified that everyone would find out that no, I don't have it all together, no I not on top of everything in my life -- hell most things in my life -- and that I just generally feel like shit. If I did work up the energy and courage to engage with anyone, then I put massive amounts of energy into "faking it." Not faking my personality - what you see is what you get, there. But faking the togetherness, the energy. (Which, I have done poorly. Fantastic!) Sweet geezuz, that energy could have gone into so much else.

Why do I have totally ridiculous, utterly unattainable, achingly cruel standards for myself that I do not hold for others?

For the record, I do not, and never have, thought that others who suffer from depression and anxiety are somehow less, lazy or broken. I reserve those mean-ass judgments for myself. If anything, I've always felt tremendous compassion for people suffering from this, and always thought they were so brave and courageous to get out there and live their life.

So, mcuh of the work at hand is to see why I felt like I had to hide. Why my first instinct continues to be to hide, to put up a wall, a mask, or any other cliched defense mechanism at the slightest fear someone might FIND OUT. Find out anything and everything. Find out that I am depressed and having a bad day or freaking out because of what (to others) is an irrational fear. Find out that my house is not clean. Find out that I don't know as much as I pretend to about The Thesis topic. Find out that I beat the shit out of myself for not knowing more about said topic and that I have a constant running commentary in my head telling me I should know more, I should read more, I should study more, I should, I should, I should... Find out I am not as smart as I want to be, as smart that I used to think I was. Blah, blah blah.

Find out that I am not the person I want to be.

Find out, I am not entirely happy with the person I am, that for whatever reason(s).

Which brings me to the next super awesome realization as of late: I carry guilt with me about EVERYTHING. I need to just ban the phrase, "I should..." completely. Holy hell, that phrase has is killing me.

Overwhelmingly, I felt guilt for being so "lazy." I felt guilty that A. had the unfortunate luck to fall in love with such a lazy, worthless person. I felt guilty for being such a difficult person to live with. I felt guilty that it took so much energy to engage with people. I felt guilty that I couldn't remember to floss everyday. I felt guilty if I didn't remember to have lunches ready for the week. I felt guilty for hating to fold the laundry. I felt guilty, I felt guilty, I felt guilty.

I only realized recently (with the help of the therapist, so not all bad, yes?), I felt tremendously guilty that I was well, lying, to everyone, people who mean a lot to me, just in an effort to hide, to receed, to disappear.

Unfortuntely, that last paragraph does not exist solely in the past tense. Again, lot of work to do.

But, with this incredible weight lifted from my shoulders, I feel ready, willing, and yes, grateful, to bear the burden of this work. To dig in. Turn the soil over. For myself. For my family. For my friends. Yes, yes, yes. For myself.

Let us see what we can unearth and grow, shall we? Maybe I will find some lovely wild purple irises...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Finding the Joy in Springtime Puddles

Wow, you guys are such a wonderfully supportive group! I am so thankful for you. I can't tell you how happy I am to be out of my particular brand of closet! Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking my hand as I wobbled out.

Thank you.


There is a very, very uncomfortable fence post up my butt. I am unsure of how I feel about my current therapist. Currently, I am tipping toward the side of: I don't think I trust her, I think she has Pet Issues she is transposing onto me, and I don't think we are communicating well. At least, I hope this is the case and not that I am resisting the long and very difficult work ahead of us. This is the scary and hard part - am I just so thoroughly in denial -- in general -- that I am refusing to be present with her and do the work that needs to be done? Or, are we just not a good fit. I do not know.

So, I have an appointment today. Unless I fell drastically different about our session by the end of it, I will be hunting for a new therapist. Dammit. That just sounds so damned exhausting. Bah.


It is a glorious spring day! All of the oodles and oodles of snow that dumped on us over the weekend is melting. Spring! At the very least I can look forward to transporting myself to my dreaded appointment today - I will be walking! Oh, how I love to go for walks.


Also related to the arrival of Spring: Baseball! Woot! It is Opening Day! Oh, how that adds a spring to my step.


Happy Monday to you, my friends.