Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Finding Reality - Step By Step

You’ve heard all these words before. Suck it up. Put on your big girl panties. Just deal with it.

None of it worked. You crashed. Not quite burned, but a definite crash.

Those of us who love you wonder if this is the time when you realize you’re at the bottom, and the only way out is to pull YOURSELF up.

I don’t think so.

You’re so used to being rescued. You’re so used to being cute and loveable on the outside while ripping yourself to shreds on the inside. Then, in a drunken stupor the shredded part comes out and shreds those who love you.

I’m going to share what finally worked for me. I want this to be the impetus to bring you to the reality that no one can fix you, and you have to fix yourself. Are my words going to work for you now? No, I don’t actually think so. But, maybe I’ll plant a seed that can grow in your darkness, and when you’re ready, you’ll see it.

First, you’ve got to stop dwelling on the past, on the why, and on your perceived guilt for not being perfect. Honey, you can’t change the past, no one knows why stuff happens, and none of us are perfect. I know, it sounds so simple, and I understand that you don’t believe me right now. We all make mistakes. We don’t blame you for being imperfect. It’s ok that you don’t believe me. Just save the thought for later.

Second, accept where you are. You’re getting divorced. You’re a young mother who is about to lose her son because you are a lousy parent. Your child is practically out of control at age five. You’re an alcoholic. You have no job and no real home. You are destroying the most recent relationship. You’ve tried blaming everyone else, but you have done this to yourself. Accept that. Harsh? Yessum. But face it. It’s true. Accepting the reality of that is essential in order to go to the next step.

Third, decide what to do now and where to go. My suggestion is a rehab facility. You’ve burned all your bridges with family and friends, so that’s really your only option. Not what you want to hear, I know. But making the decision to commit to treatment would be proof that you want to get better.

Fourth, get direction. Make a plan. Have a goal. You can’t even imagine a productive life right now, and I don’t expect you to. The steps prior to this one will enable you to accomplish this one. You'll find the right person or organization to help you when the time comes.

Fifth, Don’t Stop. Go back to step one as many times as necessary and work your way through them again and again. Expect stumbles on your journey, but keep going. Expect disappointments. Expect people to misunderstand you. Expect to cry. Expect to be angry. Expect joy in accomplishments. Expect to survive, to pick yourself up, and to become the smart and beautiful woman we know you can be.

With love,

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Pip, the emotion

I'm tired this evening, thanks to a psychological game being played in my head by the insurance company, pharmacy, and my doctor. Oh, you can add one of the prescription medication manufacturing companies to that as well.

As my grandmother would say, "It gives me the PIP!" The pip is an angry, disgusted, irritated, and moderately amorphous emotion. It is different from BEING a pip, which is quite a different thing all together. (I'll save that for another blog post.)

A month ago, the doctor wrote a prescription for Abilify to boost the Zoloft in order to get my anxiety and depression under control. When I went to the pharmacy to pick up the prescription, they told me the cost would be $200. I left the prescription there, saying I'd think about it. Two days of anxiety attacks prompted me to return to the pharmacy. When they ran it through the system, it came back as no charge. Zero dollars. I said let me have it and get out of the store before the computer changed its mind.

Time to renew arrived. They said $200 for generic or $1000 for name brand. I contacted the manufacturer and got a coupon. However, in order to fill the prescription this time (name brand rather than generic), the insurance company required a "Prior Authorization." Isn't it interesting that an existing prescription isn't, in and of itself, a prior authorization? It is written prior to being filled in order to authorize that medication. Darn, there I go being logical.

I called the pharmacy, and they sent the request for a PA to the doctor. Twice. I called the insurance company, and they said it had to be THEIR form. They faxed it THREE times. I called the doctor's office, and the nurse who takes medication related calls said that the doc said we had to "talk about it" before she'd authorize it.

I called the pharmacy back and said I'd pay whatever the charge was for the generic. They ran it through the system. I said I'll be there in thirty minutes. Got it and boogied out of the store.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Going around the brick wall

I beat myself against a brick wall for months. Over and Over and Over. My focus on the wall was so intense that awareness of even the POSSIBILITY of light on the other side was lost. Depression and anxiety narrowed my focus until only the bricks and mortar remained.

Depression lies and builds that wall around the sufferer. It whispers of hopelessness and fear. No words from loved ones or friends could convince me of the existence of a future beyond that wall.

Bang. Bang. Bang. Head against wall. Arms against wall. Heart against wall.

Then, a pause….

…..instead of beating my head against the bricks, I leaned against them.

Some thought of a future without pain…..

…..instead of leaning against the bricks, I stood upright.

A comment that slipped past the fear…..

…..instead of standing still, I turned to the side.

The slow development of a thought process that said, “Look THIS way instead….”

….and I saw light twinkling around the edge of the wall.

Hope enabled my feet to take slow and careful steps toward the light.

Positive thoughts enabled my arms to reach for help.

Love enabled my heart to heal.

I feel the presence of the wall behind me, and I guard myself against looking back at it over my shoulder. My way is ahead.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Clawing my way out of the hole

Depression and anxiety challenge me most days. Luckily, my nights are free of the spinning thoughts and fear. My resolve is to take back the days and become content with my life again. Is the depression caused by my brain chemicals, my thinking, or a response to events in my life? I don't know. Perhaps a combination of all three.

Brain chemicals are influenced by stress, especially ongoing high levels of stress. Serotonin and other chemicals responsible for nerve cell function in the brain become depleted. The fight or flight response in the amygdalla, deep in the brain, responds as if a sabre tooth tiger is in pursuit. These chemical reactions become set patterns. Breaking the pattern can require medication, as well as talk therapy, and other methods for relief.

My thinking is definitely part of the problem. Gloom and doom. Predicted outcomes are bleak and negative. Breaking this thinking pattern requires working with a therapist to learn new ways of thinking about each issue and reinforcing the new positive thought patterns. Learning that we have little control over our future and the behavior of others, and learning to be at peace with those thoughts is essential. For Type A personalities, this is challenging. We thought we were in control. Accepting that we are not is a blow. Learning to accept change and disappointments and stress becomes a daily lesson, and not an easy one.

Repeated stressors can initiate anxiety and depression. Accumulated effects of life events such as losing a loved one, marriage difficulties, financial setbacks, job changes, and moving to a new house can trigger the depression cycle. Then the brain chemistry changes to stress response. Working toward peace requires making changes to reduce stressors and to handle those we can't change in a different manner.

For those of you who haven't experienced severe depression and anxiety, my explanation may sound trivial. "Just think positive thoughts," is a refrain that every depressed person has heard. If that admonition worked, there wouldn't be any depressed people. However, it doesn't. IT DOES NOT WORK. Overcoming depression requires a multi-faceted, personally tailored approach. Medication, exercise, cognitive therapy, and meditation may be helpful. Working with a psychiatrist and/or counselor to sort through the causes and select treatments is essential. Making lifestyle changes may be required. Plus, the process of recovery is not quick. One must be patient for the medications to work, for your thought patterns to reform, and for your stress reduction choices to have an effect.

Depression and anxiety can be resolved. Seek treatment. Take steps. Be patient.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Pondering my sixties...

My mother said her seventies was her favorite decade. I hope that works out for me, too, because my sixties are starting out a little bit rocky. What is going on with me? Mid-life crisis a couple of decades late, or what?

Financial worries abound. The media hammers the plight of baby boomers who are retiring and don’t have enough money. Social Security is going to go broke. My husband and I have lived comfortably, invested, and not squandered money, but my brain goes into panic mode when I look ahead. Our investment advisor says we’re going to be OK, but I worry. Too much. What does OK mean? Beans and cornbread? Walking to the store because we don’t have gas money?

Then there’s health and healthcare. My husband is ten years older than I am. He had a kidney transplant in 1994, one heart attack about five years ago, and multiple bone breaking injuries three years ago. I have issues with anxiety and depression. Try getting healthcare now that “Affordable Care” is the new reality. You can get on a waiting list for a doctor’s appointment IF the doctor takes your insurance, or you can go to the ER and sit for hours. Or just be sick.

What to do after retirement is a strange dilemma. I’ve taught in public schools, done bookkeeping, made quilts, had dairy goats, painted water color and acrylic paintings, built things, and had rental properties with all their attendant remodeling, painting, and dealing with tenants. Name something. I’ve been there, done that. I don’t KNOW what I want to do next.

Yes, I know I’m looking at all this from a negative point of view. In the past, I had a plan. Somewhere inside me is a plan and the hope that I’ll start making my sixties a good decade in preparation for my seventies.