Going with the flow

I began this blog to chronicle the ups and down of my recovery from depression.  I haven’t had that many downs and when I did have them, I didn’t talk about them.  But mostly things have just been going well.  So, it’s time to refocus.

I’ve been working on mindfulness all this time.  I practice mindfulness meditation most every morning, I try to keep in touch with my emotions, I even have an app that rings a bell every half hour to remind me to come back to my breath.

Yet, as I go moment by moment through each day, I don’t take notice really of everything that’s happening.  I’m not mindful of the little events as I allow each moment to pass me by untethered.

My goal now will be to move out of mindlessness in more every day situations to allow this whole way of thinking more completely envelope me.

What do you think I should focus on?

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Published in: on February 10, 2011 at 3:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Blogging for real

So it’s been a while! Sorry about that. Aside from starting off a very busy school year, I haven’t had anything new to say.

Well, a few weeks ago I *did* want to write but didn’t really know how to put it into words and didn’t have time to try.

Many people who read my blog know me personally. Which is great! But I feel like I have to be a little careful.

Some things still trigger a knee jerk “Gee, it sure would be nice to die”. One of those things are hymns that talk about how great heaven will be – kinda hard to stay away from for a church goer, ya know?

I had one of those moments a couple weeks ago. It was short lived. But it wanted to linger. And that’s what I had wanted to blog about.

My dear readers, it’s only fair tell you that these thoughts flutter through my brain occasionally. I need to be able to say that freely and be honest especially now when things are going pretty well so that when they aren’t going so well I can be honest about that, too. Don’t you think?

I have a really great support system with people I can call – aside from family and friends, I have my therapist and psychiatrist. I’ve even practiced calling for non-emergencies so that I can feel comfortable doing that.

(I don’t do that easily, so it was a big deal for me to call my therapist for something as simple as a bad day).

I say this because the idea of this blog is really to be honest about my ups and downs. And I don’t want those who know me (or hey, you who *don’t* know me) to worry about the downs.

So, next time I get triggered or totally blow the chance to use my DBT skills or something, I won’t use time as an excuse not to write because I’m afraid of what you’ll think.

Sound like a plan?

Published in: on September 26, 2010 at 5:05 pm  Comments (2)  
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Non-judgment

“There is nothing either good or bad,
but thinking makes it so.”
– William Shakespeare, “Hamlet”  (Thank you zenhabits.net for the quote)

The practice of non-judgment is not an easy one.  It seems that if we’re human, we’re judging something all the time.  Even if we’re judging something to be good, it’s a judgment.  But, let’s face it, all of us at some time, and most often (whether we want to admit it or not) we judge things as ‘bad’.   We judge life, things that happen in life, things about ourselves, an so on.

Judgments in day to day life give us the chance to quickly describe and categorize things we come across, and allow us to quickly assess our likes and dislikes.  The problem?  Three things:

  • They often distract us from reality (judgments may replace facts; when we judge we often stop observing)
  • They tend to feed negative emotions (anger, guilt, shame)
  • Positive judgments are fragile: anything judged “good” can also be judged “bad”

(If you had the Core Mindfulness handout in your own DBT sessions, that should look familiar).

Why should we shy away from judgments?  Return to the quote at the top of the post.  Things just “are”.  Feelings just “are”, mistakes happen and simply “are”.

I like this definition of “nonjudgmental”:

of, relating to, or denoting an attitude, approach, etc, that is open and not  incorporating a judgment one way or the other

An open approach.  How much happier can we be when life’s ups and downs are not seen as good or bad.  Problems aren’t so much problems as happenings.

When things go wrong, or not as planned it can be really easy to immediately say how awful, or unfair it is.  But let’s practice accepting what is and let go of judgments.  Let them float away like balloons.  Here are three things you can replace judgments with in your speaking (also from Core Mindfulness):

  1. State your preference: “I like…” “I prefer…”
  2. State the consequences: “This is helpful/harmful for…:, “This is effective/ineffective for…” 
  3. State the facts: “This thing happened this way, at this time…”

Let’s also remember not to judge ourselves when we find ourselves judging.  It is what it is.  We are growing little by little, let’s be gentle with ourselves.

Published in: on August 28, 2010 at 8:46 pm  Comments (1)  
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Dear Man,

In DBT Therapy we work on skills to help deal with – well, life.

I had the opportunity this week to use a skill for “Interpersonal Effectiveness” when I met with my boss to discuss the upcoming year.  Ummm, yay?  Gah, I hate meeting with anyone that is in any authority over me.  I get really emotional, easily upset, discombobulated and basically turn into a fool. 

I came prepared this time though.  Woot!  I came in knowing that well know and beloved DEAR MAN.

What do you mean you’ve never heard of it??  OK, I’ll tell you what it is and then I’ll tell you what happened (you’ll never guess)

             Describe

             Express

             Assert

             Reinforce

 (stay) Mindful

             Appear confident

             Negotiate

So, I show up at our coffee meeting ready to tell my boss (of a seasonal, school year job) that this year is going to be so much better than last year (when I got sick), that I’m excited to get going again.  We chit chat, I open up with my description, my expression… just when I’m about to assert, he asks if my husband talked to me earlier this summer after the two of them had a conversation.

OK, this is going to seem a little convoluted.  They are colleagues in the community and my hubby may work for him in the fall (along with me – we thought).  So they’d had a conversation in the beginning of summer about hubby working for him and also what boss was thinking about for me.  That is, that I don’t work but come back as a volunteer.

This conversation left my boss (apparently) thinking that the message would get passed along that I’m not working there in the fall.  Ummmmmm, no.  That’s not the way it was understood by hubby or me.  So, I’m all gung ho for a positive meeting and it takes a wrong turn.

He relays the earlier conversation with hubby and lays out my options: I can come back as a volunteer or not come back, it’s my choice.  (really?)  If I come back as a volunteer, I need to let him know what I want him to say to my peers since my replacement will be there and they’ll be wondering.  (my replacement?)

During this time I’m mindful that I’m getting agitated.  My hands, under the table, are getting wrung like a rain soaked t shirt.  I manage to appear confident and try to roll into negotiate mode.  But there was no room for negototiating.  It was done.

I excused myself and left. 

I should’ve been a mess.  I normally would have been a mess.  I was angry.  (Notice how I defined an emotion I felt?)  …I was very angry…  OK, I feel the anger again as I write this.  OK, it’s dissipated now.

So, now you know DEAR MAN is a great tool for “interpersonal effectiveness” and I’m sure it would have been great if I’d’ve gotten to use it.  As it turned out, I did get to practice self soothing! 😛

Honestly, I upset by how it happened, but part of me is very glad.  I’m planning all sorts of things I can do with the extra time.  It’s the extra money that gets me, ya know.  OK, mama, focus on the good…focus on the good.

Published in: on August 22, 2010 at 10:15 pm  Comments (3)  
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ups and downs

I’ve been working really hard to stay in the moment.  I’ve been trying not to worry about the future or the past.  It is what it is, so they say.

It’s been pretty hard the last few days, though.  Ya see, last year we moved into a really great house on the college campus that DH and I work for.  We’d hoped we could stay in the house until our older two graduated from high school 6 years from now.  The house is in a great, but VERY expensive town.  We couldn’t live in this town and have the kids go to this great school if not for this house.

But we found out that they’re turning our house into office space next year. (*sob*)  So.  We’re looking at another move.  I mentioned in my “Friend” post that since we got married 15 years ago, we’ve lived in 11 homes in 7 states.  I’m so tired of moving.

I’m tired of making my kids switch schools.  I’m tired of wasting all that money on boxes, truck rental, rental deposits, etc. etc.  I’m tired of never knowing whether we can stay long enough for me to know whether I’ll have enough time to learn how to trust someone enough to become their friend.  I’m tired of never feeling settled.  I’m tired of wanting a place to really  call HOME.

Oh sheesh.  Thanks for letting me get that mini-tantrum off my chest.  I’ve been working VERY hard on being in the moment.  THIS moment we’re here.  THIS moment we’re together in this house.

I have to practice “radical acceptance” with what seems like every breath.  I just want to fall into a big heap on the floor screaming like a nap deprived 3 year old “It’s not fair!” 

Thank you “jim-wandering” of wanderingtheworld.com and your post called “Radical Acceptance” for this quote:

“By accepting the truth of change, accepting that we don’t know how our life will unfold, we open ourselves to hope so that we can move forward with vitality and will.”

OK, big breath.  Put your big girl panties back on and deal, accept radically even if it is with every breath!

Published in: on August 13, 2010 at 8:44 pm  Comments (4)  
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When mindfulness pays off.

Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience.
It isn’t more complicated than that.
It is opening to or recieving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is,
without either clinging to it or rejecting it.
-Sylvia Boorstein

 

It’s a little early for me to be saying it’s “paying off”, but I had a notion today that I’m proud to share.

Since my last unsuccessful attempt, I’ve said that it is the last unsuccessful attempt. In other words, I have believed that when I fall into my next depression, the attempt will be carried out – that I will die.

So, when today, for the first time, I willingly refuted that idea it falls under the category of “kinda big deal”.

I was waiting for my therapy appointment and thinking about some of the things I’ve done well the last couple of weeks – I’ve practiced 5 minutes of quiet everyday, I’ve been aware of my emotions and why I felt them, engaging in mindful running, and starting the new book I mentioned a couple of posts ago.  As I was thinking about that, my “usual” thoughts started trickling in… how I always get “better” for a while but how it always comes back around.  And then I thought “Ya know, this time may be different.  This time I really am learning skills that I can and actually am using.”

I’m writing tonight with cautious optimism because I have, indeed, been down this part of the road before.  But, I’m not who I was last time.  There is only now.  There is no before.  There is no after.  Now.

Published in: on August 10, 2010 at 9:51 pm  Comments (3)  
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Ahhhhh

It’s a gorgeous day. I’m sitting at the pool. It’s not too hot. It’s not to cool.

Hope your day is great. Take 5 minutes out to do a mindful walk or meditation.

That’s all. Love ya 🙂

Published in: on August 7, 2010 at 2:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Superficial

From Dictionary.net:

Superficial:

1. Of or pertaining to the superficies, or surface; lying on the surface; shallow; not deep; as, a superficial color; a superficial covering; superficial measure or contents; superficial tillage. [1913 Webster]

2. Reaching or comprehending only what is obvious or apparent; not deep or profound; shallow; — said especially in respect to study, learning, and the like; as, a superficial scholar; superficial knowledge. [1913 Webster]

So yesterday I had a psych appointment. Lately, I seem to be crying in all my sessions. I find this annoying, but I know it’s a good thing. Dr. L told me how glad she is that I’m crying because it makes me less superficial.

Building on my last post about being “emotionless” I think it’s fitting that this should come up because superficial is exactly what I am (for the time being). In trying all these years to hide what I was feeling from other people, I managed to hide pretty well from myself.

“Not deep or profound”.

As a teen, I remember living alone and working really hard to hide my loneliness, anger, sadness…hopelessness. I didn’t feel shallow then. I felt two-faced.   I felt I had so much in me that people weren’t supposed to see that I was one person in the confines of my apartment and totally some other person in public.

Over the years, the public persona took over and the tumultuous inner me got shoved into the shadows but not subdued. The “other” me got lost but still had a presence; caused me lots of anguish because of my inability to identify what  it consisted of.  I was afraid to look it in the eye and name all the things it consisted of.  That made it too big, too frightening and made me more willing to shove it aside and try to ignore it.

So, numb me took over.  This one’s just as bad.  I have no opinions on things.  No strong desires.  I don’t know what my wants or needs are half the time.  And now comes the hard part of integrating the two “me’s”.  I have to allow that emotional, tumultuous me come out without either letting it take over or invalidating its presence.

I’m excited about a book I just got called “The Life Organizer: A Woman’s Guide to a Mindful Year”.  This book encourages me to consistently ask myself “What do I want?”, “What do I need?”.  I will set intentions, spell out desires, uncover what I need each day to take care of myself. 

I’m looking forward to using her (the author of the book – Jen Louden’s) guidelines for really integrating mindfulness into my life.  This is way more in depth mindfulness than I had imagined when I first decided to get well by becoming mindful – but I’ve been seeking out more and more ways integrate mindfulness into my life, so it’s GREAT!

Published in: on August 5, 2010 at 4:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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On the quest for…emotions

I have spent years of my life not feeling much of anything.  That’s just the way it is for a lot of people.  It’s safer that way…for a while.

You can numb yourself, pretend you have no feelings, ignore reality for only so long before something happens.  And then when “something” happens you have no idea what’s happening, what’s wrong, what’s good, what’s up or what’s down.  You just know it’s something and it’s big.

Or, well, at least it feels big.

As I’ve been learning about emotion regulation and my DBT skills, I’m learning that people like me don’t have much a middle ground.  I’m all numb or all ______ [fill in the blank].

Something that DBT patients have to do every day of every week is fill out “diary cards” to help recognize not only emotions, but thoughts, behaviors and, eventually or ideally, what triggers emotions, thoughts and behaviors.

This is not my forté.  Not filling out the diary daily and definitely not recognizing which emotions have gone in and out of my life any given day.  Mostly, lately, I feel fine.  I’m medicated, I’m content, I’m doing things that are good for me.

Ummmm, sometimes my kids or DH get me angry.  Ok, sometimes I’m sad or upset, but I barely notice that.

Darn.

I’m trying though, I really am!  I found a “What am I feeling” package at the bookstore in the bargain bin.  It has a gajillion little magnets with different feelings that you could pull out when you identify what you’re feeling any given moment.  But every time I look I seem to pick “fine”.

I’m working on mindfulness exercises, but so far not a lot of “noticing” in the whole emotion arena.  Alas.

It’s just something I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me on.  C’est la vie.  I’ll keep at it  Rome wasn’t built in a day ya know.

Published in: on August 3, 2010 at 10:40 pm  Comments (2)  
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Family…blerg

I’m writing today with a heavy heart.  I had a bunch of things I wanted to say, but now they’re all jumbled up.

I was upset last night as I realized (well, not for the first time, but the first time in a while) that I am not important to my family.  My childhood family, not my husband and kids.  In this context, the word family is only defined as “those born to the same parents”. 

My siblings and I don’t know each other very well.  There are, or were, six of us.  My oldest sibling is 17 years olders than I, then 13 years, then 12 years (though this one’s been deceased since I was nine), then 11 years.  I also had a sister one year younger who died when I was four.  So, I have one in their 50’s, and two others closing in to that 50 mark.

I’m in my 30’s.  We’re not close in age or geography.  We’re not close.  Period.  So for me to feel upset by this seems a little ridiculous to me – but, though I radically accept that we are not close, I must also accept that I desire a close relationship…rephrase that, I desire a relationship with them. 

I was pretty excited when a year or two ago, some of us started texting and all three of them (finally) joined facebook.  I kind of got my hopes up.  I guess I imagined that suddenly we were going to start sharing our lives.  You know, uploading pics, commenting on each others’ statuses and, well, making up for lost time in a way… like I do with hundreds of other people that aren’t family.  I love my facebook friends. I feel close to a lot of them.  Why shouldn’t I hope to have something like that with my brothers and sister?

Now my question is: Why don’t they want the same thing?

I admit, my first thought is that I’m not important enough.  I never was as a child and 30-some years later things haven’t magically changed. This is a hard thought to combat.  The statement is based on – what’s the word? – it’s not based on actual fact.  They have never said “Mindful Mama, you’re not important in my life, so don’t expect texts, or facebook interaction and definitely not phone calls.”

My “proof” comes from years of “knowing”.  Here’s where the infamous bad childhood comes in.  (Oh, you knew it was going to come up somehow!

Actually, I stop short.  I’m not ready to tell you about my childhood.  Here’s a little blurb (don’t shoot me, it’s from WebMD) on BPD cause:

“People who have this disorder often have experienced significant childhood trauma, such as sexual, physical, or emotional abuse; neglect; or early loss of or separation from a parent. When this trauma is combined with certain personality traits, such as reacting poorly to stress or having problems with anxiety, the risk for developing borderline personality disorder increases.”

So, I had a traumatic childhood.  I was also “abandoned” as a teenager (I’ll post on that someday).  Those teen years alone, I think really provided my “proof”.  No one was there for me. And I carry that around with me still.

My point in saying all this has been leading up to why I’m upset.  For more than six months I’ve been sending little texts like “Good Morning” and “How are you today?” to each of my siblings.  And you know what response I’ve gotten?  None.  Occasionally my sister has responded and we actually had a little chat. 

The last few weeks I’ve been letting them know when I put up new posts.  Their response?  None.

So, my feelings are hurt, yes.  But really, it’s just been a rotten reminder of what has always been.

I’m not leaving this as a sob story.  That’s not the purpose.  What am I going to do about it?  Well, these feelings of being unloved and unwanted are really the crux of the matter.  Life through my lens can often be defined by these feelings if I let them.

When I sense that I am feeling unwanted (first of all, that in itself is a victory for someone with BPD, I’ll pat myself on the back for noticing an emotion), I will note what makes me feel that way, allow myself to have the feeling and then combat its thoughts with truthfulness.  I may, in fact, not be important to my siblings.  They may not even think of me and probably mean me no harm or ill-feelings, but I know that I am important to some people.  And that’s what I need to focus on.

As for my brothers and sister, for now I’m going to forego trying to communicate.  That probably means that we won’t talk for a long time.  And that’s ok right now.  I have a lot of work to do and I won’t let this get in my way.

Published in: on August 1, 2010 at 11:49 am  Comments (3)  
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