Archives for the month of: May, 2014

I feel like I don’t have too much to write about, but I want to write anyway. I’ve been settling into my new job and meeting my new clients, which has been great. I get to work with some people with whom I’ve worked before, which is interesting. I’m also trying to be more proactive with regards to self-care, meaning that I am not going to skip lunches or stay ridiculously late like I did when I worked there before. Of course, the nature of social work is that there will be crises for which my needs must be put aside, but by and large, the world will not end if I take a lunch break.

In terms of mental health, things have been okay. I cut my antidepressant down a bit and have definitely noticed a big difference…and not a positive one. I have felt more irritable. Today I asked my partner, “Have I seemed more bitchy to you lately?” Her reluctance to answer was all the response I needed. I am going back up to my full dose.

I still seem to have this stupid idea about antidepressants…like I shouldn’t need it, I should be able to just get through things with no help. Of course, this rule applies to nobody but me. But today I thought, what is the point of thinking like that? My antidepressant makes me feel so much better. It allows me to function. It makes it easier to take a shower and brush my teeth. And you know what, with the abuse and trauma I’ve gone through, I deserve a little bit of help. We all deserve a little bit of help, regardless of trauma or abuse, but this is the lens through which I have to look at it for myself. So I’m going to take my damn antidepressant and I’m going to feel good about it. Doing that is yet another act of self-care.

Additionally, I would like to get a gym membership for myself and my partner. I used to exercise a lot, almost every day. It always helped me feel better both mentally and physically. When I started graduate school and ended up working 65+ hours a week in addition to coursework, exercise fell to the wayside. I want to exercise in order to feel better. My partner has been saying she wants to lose weight. I really can’t be part of those conversations, because for my own sanity I have accepted my weight, and her weight talk can very quickly become disordered. However, I think exercise may help her be happier and more comfortable with the body she has. It would also be a great way to spend some time together doing something fun!

I’m interested to know what others do to take care of themselves. Any tips?

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The other night, my partner was kind of upset and quiet. I wasn’t exactly sure what was wrong, but I had been feeling pretty zoned out that evening and really just wanted to lay in the bed and do nothing and sleep. I ended up asking her what she was upset about, and she talked about my problems with intimacy. For obvious reasons, I have some trouble with physical intimacy…my body hurts, I’m ticklish, and I dissociate pretty easily in that situation.

She described the issue in a really good way, and it helped me a lot in understanding her experience of this problem. She said that it’s as if much of my body is covered in caution tape, don’t touch or you might trigger something. Don’t touch or you might hurt her. Don’t touch or she might leave her body and go up to the ceiling. I asked her what parts have caution tape, and she basically listed everything except my arms and legs. I really hadn’t understood this from her perspective before, as I’ve always told her to basically do whatever and I’ll tell her if I don’t like it. But for her, it’s not that simple. She does not want to take the chance of touching me on the caution tape areas even if I tell her it’s fine, because she is scared she will hurt me or trigger something and I won’t say anything.

I never realized what this was like for her. Part of this is that I am baffled that anyone would WANT to touch my body, so I didn’t think that it was a big deal that I didn’t want to be touched. I’m thinking that I might try to do some exposure stuff with allowing her to touch my body in a non-sexual way and increasing from there. I feel sad that she felt so sad about this whole thing, but I’m hoping that I can get better and we can be more intimate.

My therapist is leaving her practice at the end of June. It’s not a huge loss; she’s helped me with some important things, but my overwhelming sense is that she does not truly listen and I cannot be honest with her. She prescribes my antidepressant, but I’ve been feeling that it’s time to try weaning off of that anyway. Of course, I will do so with her guidance. I’ve been on this antidepressant for almost three years, and I’d like to see how I do without it. It has been a tremendous help to me, so I’m a little nervous. Before starting it, I was living with near-constant suicidal ideation (without any desire, plan, or intent…weird). I never actually WANTED to kill myself (with the exception of a few years as a teenager), but the thoughts would just repeat in my head…”Kill yourself. Kill yourself. Kill yourself.” It was like a parasitic thought that entered my mind at some point and made its home there, even when it made no sense. To be honest, it was mostly annoying. My anti-depressant all but eliminated those thoughts. They still happen from time to time, and I doubt I’ll ever be completely free of them, but they are not nearly as constant as they were. I have been very clear with myself that if they come back, or if I feel much more depressed, I will find a way to get back on my medication. I am not trying to stop my medication out of pride, but out of concern over side effects and a curiosity about how I will be without it.

I have been looking for a new therapist with little luck. Everyone I read about online seems like a quack or a narcissist. I think it is possibly tougher to find a therapist when you are one. I have a very low tolerance for bullshit, pandering, and condescension, which is what screams at me from the bios I’ve read. The one person that I emailed said I should see a sex therapist instead (I mentioned vaginismus and that I thought it was a result of sexual abuse). This was disappointing because I really need to work on the sexual abuse, and I feel that I can handle the vaginismus if I make some progress on the abuse. I guess I should leave the vaginismus out of it from now on.

Speaking of the vaginismus, I have been only working sporadically with my dilators (or dilator, as I’ve yet to master even the smallest one). I worked with the smallest today (about the size of a small finger) and got it in farther than I ever have before, which was a victory. I immediately found myself zoning out and dissociating while inserting it, and actually was able to bring myself back to my body and be mindful of what was going on down there. I was able to feel specific muscle groups tensing and was able to release them to reduce the pain. My first impulse was to shove it in deeper, to push myself past what I was able to do. I’m glad I resisted that urge, as I would simply have been revictimizing myself by not respecting my own limits and boundaries. Overall, it was a positive experience. I am becoming more optimistic about this dilator thing.

A lot has been going on. I have finished my MSW and quit my third shift job in favor of a better job that begins next week and is commensurate with my new degree. It is with an agency for which I have worked in the past, and I know a lot of people who still work there. I’m very excited for this and am quite enjoying my time off until next week.

Today, I got a massage. I have had a few massages in the past, and they are always difficult for me. I need very deep pressure because my body is seemingly made up of nothing but gigantic muscle spasms. Additionally, I am very ticklish when it comes to my back. Even when I was getting a tattoo done on my back, the artist had to keep telling me not to squirm because I was so ticklish. I have always been this way in relation to the right side of my back. If I sense anything or anyone getting close, I spasm. This includes the person I trust the most, my wonderful partner.

I never really thought anything of this pattern until reading “The Body Remembers” by Babette Rothschild. It is a great book about the psychophysiology of trauma. I am beginning to accept that many of the “body issues” I have are most likely related to my trauma. The fact that my body seems to constantly be in a state of muscle contraction, causing painful knots all over, is probably due to trauma. It seems so obvious, I actually feel kind of stupid not having thought of it before. The onset of my chronic pain and headaches was when I was about 10 or 11, around the same time that I developed an irrational fear that I might be pregnant (irrational because I had supposedly never had any sexual experience). Obviously, the vaginismus. And now, this pattern of always being ticklish when anyone(thing) approaches or touches the right side of my back. I’m starting to think that I was possibly approached from behind and towards my right when being abused.

It continues to bother me that I have very little memory of what happened to me. I feel like I am hiding the information from myself and I need to figure out how to unlock it. I know that it’s not necessary to recover full memories in order to heal from trauma, but it frankly pisses me off that someone violated me and even stole my right to know about what happens to my body. I see eventually getting these memories back as taking back the history of my body. Once I know, I have power. Additionally, there are practical concerns related to the fact that I do not know who did it. There is a chance it could be somebody who is still in my life. That is a chilling thought.

So anyway, I had my massage, squirmed around on the table a bit, but ultimately feel much better. The massage therapist I see is really great and respectful and reasonably priced (and I keep referring people to her and getting a referral discount of 15 dollars off :P), so I am very grateful to be able to access massage. I feel that going every so often will help me be more in tune with my body and decrease the amount of pain I experience.