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And now, for a not quite so "heavy" update...

Posted Feb 03 2009 10:50pm
Well, it has been a little while since I’ve posted, so I thought I might as well do some sort of update. The last few posts have been rather depressing or nerve wracking, and I hope there is a lot less of that in this one, though I will give you a small update as to how I am doing - which is, well, alright.

I have been, for the most part, feeling less anxiety over all. But, what I realized, though it should have been evident (but I am very good at fooling myself), that my issues go beyond just anxiety. I don’t want to go into details, I will say that I was never abused – physically, verbally, or sexually – but I did have a fairly abnormal and not very stable childhood/teenage years. Let’s just say that I have very close family with a host of psychological problems that made growing up very strange, confusing, and overwhelming, especially for an only child. I didn’t have much of an idea of what a normal relationship should look like (and by normal, I mean stable), I didn’t have the time or the ability to “find myself”, and was exposed to a variety of awkward and difficult situations – some of which I didn’t, and still don’t really understand. This might explain some of my anxiety, discomfort with social situations, and maladaptive coping mechanisms. My main “coping strategy” when I was younger, apparently, - hindsight is everything isn’t it? – was to detach myself, trudge forward, and never deal with how I felt about the situations at the time, and when things leveled out to whatever normal had become, I never thought of it again. Easy peasy right? Avoidance totally works.

Hey, I really did think so and maybe it does for awhile. When the intensity of my current situation reached the point of my seeking therapy, I wasn’t expecting anxiety issues to become a discussion about my family, my childhood, my past. I should have, I did study psychology in college, but I convinced myself to think it was “hooey” to pin all a persons problems on their parents or their childhood. Not that I don’t think that environment effects children very deeply, of course I think that, I just thought that I wasn’t effected deeply, I was fine. Part of the problem with my former opinion on childhood experience and its relation to later attachment/psychological/identity issues was that I associated it with blame. But it isn’t about blame; it is about understanding how our environment affects us and our transitions through life and who we become. It is not everything, nature and individual free will of course play a role in who we become, but for too long I discounted an obvious contribution to who I was.

Long story short – in therapy we are beginning to touch on things that I have never discussed before (ever, not even with myself), I don’t really know how I feel about the situations I’ve experienced, and it generally leaves me feeling pretty numb, it is very difficult – especially since I’m not all that great with the spoken word. I was never one to really show (or feel for that matter) strong emotions, aside from guilt or concern, and I’m not very good at identifying my emotions apart from perhaps when I feel anxious or guilty, so this is a learning process, and it is very intense. I have felt emotions that were strong and I couldn’t really place what they were other than sadness, or maybe just weight being released, I really don’t know. I can say that it takes hours, literally, for me to decompress after having a session, but I know it is the right thing and I have to admit, now that I have started - difficulty, awkward, and uncomfortable as it may be - I want to continue, because I will be happier in the end.

I’ve been going into the office for half days this week and have been handling it pretty well so far. A coworker of mine is back from leave, and she is my “confidante” in the office, so I was really happy to see her (and the adorable pictures of her new baby, and this is coming from someone who isn’t a big “baby fan” – but with the expressions on his face and his big flop of dark hair, he is pretty cute, even I have to admit). I have been able to get work done, more than I used to in the same amount of time, but I’ll admit that I am pretty overwhelmed at the end of my time there. I’m not sure what is going to happen to my schedule or how long I will be working with this arrangement, but so far, it seems to work – for me at least. After work, I still have the afternoons for any appointments I may have, take an hour or so to unwind from being at the office, then check my work email and work a little longer, or attend to the more erroneous job tasks I know I won’t need any assistance with. And I still have some time to relax with a book, calm down from the day, and hopefully get some sleep (though I have been grinding my teeth apparently, I know how gross that sounds, I’m sorry Brett!).

Basically, there is no need to worry about me. I will be fine. It may be hard for me right now, but hey, that is life, eh? As I see it, I am a strong person and I have dealt with other people’s emotions my whole life and I am still standing, I should be able to deal with my own – granted, with a little help from a licensed professional and the nice folks who bring us Zoloft, but it is helping. A sense of humor, patience, and acceptance (or at least trying) help too. I am very thankful to have a wonderful support network and such an accommodating and caring boss (and coworkers), I don’t know what I would do without them. They have done so much to make sure that I have what I need, whether it be food, time, space, you name it, and I know how lucky I am to have that. And thank you all for the comments you left and recommendations you provided. The kindness and understanding I’ve received (from the few people who actually come in contact and speak with me – in person or online in recent months) have been immensely helpful and I am very touched. It helps to know that there are people who understand, who have been there, who support you, and who, sometimes, just try to make you smile. So for that, I thank you.

Anywho, in other news.

With all the book recommendations, my desire for knowledge and obsession with books, and the upcoming 2009 garden season (!!!!!), we burnt a hole in our debit card on Amazon this weekend. We had an odd assortment of purchases, all of which I am pretty excited about (well, except one of the things we ordered, Brett wanted another controller for his PS3, and while I love that he enjoys his games so much, I just don’t get very excited by the idea of an additional controller to a machine I am scared to touch – though I’m not sure how thrilling he found my selection of books to be either, so it all evens out). The cats have been taking an interest in our pepper plants, and we ran out of “cat grass” seed, so we ordered a 5 lb. bag of wheatgrass seed and it couldn’t get here soon enough, we’ve had to resort to creating obstacles to keep them away – we didn’t have this problem when we had grass around for them.

In a few days, Brett and I will be the proud parents of 1,000 hungry new mouths. Those would be worm mouths. We ordered a vermicompost bin (with trays and a little spout to make getting the “tea” fertilizer easily and without mess), and 1 lb. of wiggly red worms, who will eat our food scraps and even our junk mail – though I know there are some things that you can’t feed them, meat being a given, and we also got the very basic (and thus, since we are talking about worms and such, a very J Friendly book) called Worms Eat My Garbage: How to set up and maintain a vermicompost system by Mary Appelhof. We are pretty excited to get it as we’ve wanted to vermicompost for a couple of years. A good portion of our “garbage” is food scraps and a good portion of our recyclables are paper items (I hate junk mail!), so we will reduce our trash output as well, which is a wonderful thing. And of course there is the little perk of the rich compost and fertilizer tea too. I have to admit, I’m still a little squeamish about the whole thing, but I’ll get used to it. It just seems a little foreign, keeping worms indoors and feeding them, encouraging them, but hey, we’re both pretty weird already, I guess this only adds to the novelty.

I also got an assortment of books that, in all honesty, I would have laughed at myself for getting a couple of years ago (I used to be – and still am to a certain extent, though less so – very cynical and very skeptical), I would have never bought or even read a book about meditation, Buddhist perspectives of psychological issues, or even – GASP – a “self-help” book. Oh my goodness what has happened to J?! I kid, though not about that I would have laughed at these books a few years back, I didn’t give anything beyond “standard science” much credit, and even most of that got read with a grain of salt. These are the titles I purchased, feel free to laugh, call me “new agey” (I might have in the days of old, well, I would have thought it. You know, I’m not sure I used to be very nice), or tell me what you thought of the books if you have read them:

Overcoming Obsessive Thoughts: How to Gain Control of Your OCD by Christine Purdon and David A. Clark (laugh all you want about this one, I still have a strong feeling that I may end up laughing at it after I look at it, but it had really good reviews so I thought I would check it out, it wasn’t very expensive)

Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn (recommended by Chile, thank you by the way) – Does anyone know if this person is related to Howard Zinn?

The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times by Pema Chodron

Understanding our Mind: 50 Verses on Buddhist Psychology by Thich Nhat Hahn

Taming the Tiger Within: Meditations on Transforming Difficult Emotions by Thich Nhat Hahn

It seems like a pretty good start. I may or may not do reviews of these books (I should be a weatherperson, “it may or may not rain today”); I have been a horrible blogger lately.

I also still haven’t been cooking, and my appetite isn’t back either (seriously, what is up with that?!), but I do have a good excuse for the not cooking part, well maybe not a good one, but an honest one. A week or so ago, Brett and I removed everything from the kitchen so we could give it a really good cleaning and reorganize things to make them a little more J Friendly (I am short, clumsy, and have a tendency to stub my toes on things – oh and run into the side of doorframes, though there isn't much we can do about the doorframes). The problem was – is – I haven’t been eating much and don’t have much energy – so we left it. I charged Brett with taking care of me, and now, well, it sits the way it did a week or so ago. And I miss my food, even if I’m never hungry for long. We have been eating a lot of take out and “convenience food” and my goodness, the stuff is barely edible and it is so expensive (and the packaging!). I want beans, rice, old favorites, but I need a kitchen to accomplish that, and an appetite to eat it with would help too, but I’d be satisfied with just the kitchen and making myself eat.

Our basils in the AeroGarden are doing amazingly well, and the sage isn’t far behind. We are almost (or perhaps at, I’m not sure) three weeks since the seeds first germinated and we are going to have to do our first basil pruning and move the grow lights up so they don’t scorch the plants – these herbs don’t mess around when they get good lighting. The peppers are still growing, slowly mind you, but we are going to have some killer starts come spring, we’ll be able to set a fairly large plant outside from the get-go.

I wanted to solicit the advice from any readers out there who garden: when is the time to start our seedlings indoors? Are there things that do better when sowed directly into the soil or started inside or vice versa? Any help would be much appreciated.

Well, not much else exciting to share, unless you want to hear about the horrors of the plumbing issue our apartment building has recently experienced that caused standing water and even sewage on the bottom floor of our building (I am so thankful that I live on the second floor). We couldn’t use water for about half a day and it appeared to be a pretty labor intensive process, whatever they had to do to fix it. I’ll spare you all the details, but it goes to show that every day is an exciting day to live in our neighborhood, you never know what will happen next: a drug bust, domestic dispute, sudden and sometimes rather excessive police presence, someone on drugs breaking it down, dancing across the parking lot, rappers-in-training rhyming their way to the gas station, you just never know.

‘Til next time.
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