Emotional Dealing

(Image from: http://weatheringthestormbp.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/e3d0f15470243e3f766e7b5a4c1fad1f.jpg)

 

Today was the day I took a step toward a better tomorrow. Today was the day I saw my therapist for the first time. I’ll call her AL. Today I began the process of gaining a better way of coping with everything that is going on. I have the tools, I just need a better way of utilizing them. Somehow during all this craziness I lost my coping abilities. I think it happened about the same time I became so utterly overwhelmed with the medical bullshit that I couldn’t see three feet ahead of me any longer. I gave myself a chance to figure it out on my own. I realized I couldn’t, so I sought out help. Dr. C referred me to the group AL works with. They paired me with her. First impression is that they paired me correctly! 

This morning I woke up and showered, and began the day spending way too much time picking out an outfit. I finally decided on jeans, a white top and a fun scarf. I’ve mentioned my obsession with scarves before, seriously I love scarves guys! I am a bit of an over analyzer. I have been my entire life. Seriously. Since I was a wee one. It use to drive my mom insane! Who am I kidding? It still drives her insane.

Anyways, I dressed, ate breakfast and took my morning medications. Two batches. The ones I take when I first get up, and the ones that have to be taken with food. Some days I really get tired of taking so many pills. Other days, it’s starting to just seem normal. Then I remember that’s not who I use to be and I start freaking out a little bit. Ever changing creatures we are, but what happens when the changes are not the ones we want them to be? When we are forced to adapt to things we didn’t see coming? That’s were I am. That is why I made the appointment to see AL. I seriously have lost my ability to cope. I don’t know how to deal with this. I say that and some small part of me doesn’t believe it entirely. I think part of it is a sense of loss of myself. I’ll get into more of that in a moment.

I won’t bore you with the details of my morning, basically it involved pet care, being the bed for our cat while she napped, catching up one some reading, emails, and talking to Doug who comes back home from visiting his folks today! So glad he will be home this evening! It’s always weird when one of the guys isn’t home!

So around 11:40 it was time to pack up my stuff and head to AL’s office. I decided to pack my laptop and stuff so I could go sit at a coffee shop afterwards and well, write this. I was at her office by 12:05. I took a deep breath and entered the office. Her office is in an old house situated close to a college. The waiting room was small and intimate, a nice light blue soothing and inviting color. The receptionist gave me paperwork to fill out and processed my insurance information. A short wait later AL came and got me. Her office was in the back part of the house. It was a nice sized room. There was her chair, the couch I sat on, a table, a desk, and a few other things.

I explained to her the things I was dealing with. Most of what is going on relates to the Chronic Illnesses I’m facing. It’s a lot of bullshit that overwhelmed me and honestly leveled me more than I care to admit. I’ve fought hard to get back to where I am today, but I need help getting to where I need to be. I know anxiety and depression tend to come along with Chronic Illnesses. I’m not ashamed of them, nor am I going to hide this part of my journey from you guys.There will be good days, there will be bad days. I suffer from depression, anxiety issues, insomnia, and panic attacks. This will be the first time I have typed that out for the world to see. I’m on 30 mg of Mirtazapine. It is in the class of antidepressants called  Noradrenergic and specific serotonergic antidepressants (NaSSAs). I take it once a day at bedtime. It for the time being is what makes me sleep, and it keeps me even most of the time. It does not make me feel like an emotionless zombie which is important to me. I sometimes wish it did. Sometimes life would be easier without all the feeling, but then again if there wasn’t any feeling we would have a completely different psychological issue on our hands, and I’d probably not have the desire to connect with anyone. So I find myself in an odd place of hating that I feel this way but damn glad I feel.  

We also talked about PTSD from some of the events that transpired from my illness, I didn’t go into much detail, just that there were some PTSD there. Also some lingering PTSD from the miscarriage, and grief. We also talked about the loss of my dad, the fact that he combined Warfarin and Alcohol and ended his life, yes he had terminal cancer but he actively made a choice to end his life when he did. He did so using a medication I know get to take for the rest of my life. There’s a good bit of emotional mind-fuckery in that. We even touched on the fact that I was molested as a child, but I told her that wasn’t something I wished to focus on at least not for a while. That is water under the bridge, and rarely comes up. When it does I deal with it. It hasn’t come up in several years.

We covered a lot of ground in my first appointment. Still have a lot of ground to cover. She was able to put into words something I have been grasping at for months. I’m experiencing a loss of myself. I’m grieving the loss of the healthy me. As we sat there and talked about that, I almost burst into tears. Eventually I will cry in front of her. She’s a safe person I can already tell that. I only cry in front of safe people. It took me a few appointments to be able to cry in front of Dr. C. Now I can’t seem to hold back the tears when I’m in pain or having a rough emotional day. Watch out AL I’m a cryer and I’m not cute when it happens!

She also kept mentioning the feeling of loss of control. This has to be the single thing in my life that has left me feeling like I have no control. I’m on a ride, I don’t know exactly where the destination is, nor do I know where the turns go. All I know is I have to take ALL THESE PILLS, and maybe they will keep me from getting too sick, too quick. Maybe they will keep me alive. I have spend countless hours educating myself about my conditions, through learning about them I am regaining some of that control back. I’m starting to learn what scary symptoms warrant ER trips, which ones warrant a call to the doctor, which ones can just be let go. One of the problems is, I get stuck in the process far too longer than I should. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life stuck in my head, in a checklist, questioning my body. Prior to this, I loved my body, it was my home, my soul was happy and was at ease with who I was. Now I feel like a stranger in my own body, and I’m fighting hard to gain parts of me back that I feel that I have lost.

One of the most awesome things about AL, was she talked to me like a real person, not a clinician. It was nice to talk with her and not be treated like a patient, even though I am one. I’ve stated this in the past, but it’s important to build relationships with the members on your team. I personally find myself able to trust my providers more if there is at least some showing of person outside of the doctor there. I do not deal well with overly serious people. I find it much easier to joke. Yes it’s a coping mechanism but it is also part of who I am. I make jokes, I laugh at life, and at myself. I learned a long time ago that the ability to laugh gets us through a lot of things.

I have homework before my next appointment, which is on Monday, she wants me to research Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Mindful Meditation. I use meditation to try to calm myself and I have read a little about CBT but not enough to tell you about it. I will research it and see if this will fit with what I need. She also asked me to pick 3 things I could use to distract myself when I get stuck in my head. I picked gardening, writing to help me process, and crocheting an intricate pattern (IF the pain level in my hands wasn’t bothering me that day). She pointed out I had a good list of tools to use. I knew that going in, my problem lies within my own head space. It’s a jumbled mess in there right now! It’s definitely time for some redecorating.

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17 thoughts on “Emotional Dealing

    1. YEA!!!!! I’m so happy. I was so worried I would have to go through several therapists to find the right fit. I was so relieved that she feels like the right fit from the start. The fact that she talked to me like a real person, and on a level that was comfortable was awesome. Much different than my last experience with a therapist. Today’s experience made me look forward to my next appointment. I definitely encourage you to look into it if you are ready. Therapy is a lot of work, it takes commitment and you get out of it what you are willing to put in. It can also get rough before it gets better. There’s a lot of emotional dealing that happens and sometimes that sucks hard in the beginning. It pays off in the long run though. This isn’t my first ticket to the big show. I’ve gone through therapy at various points in my life for other things. This is different though. I’m hopeful that will make it more successful.

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      1. I’ve had bad experiences in the past which is the reason I’ve taken so long to go beyond just asking people if they know of any good therapists here. And like you, I’m thinking I might have to go through a few of them (and there may only be a few of them here). 🙂 But it never hurts to check it out, right? 🙂

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      2. True Story! It definitely helps knowing I have someone there that I can talk to and that can help me figure this out. She also likes working with people who have chronic illnesses, which is awesome. She really seems to understand the bullshit that people like us face. Finding a good fit can sometimes be a bit of work. My PCP referred me to this group of therapists and their coordinator paired me with AL based on my specific issues. She did good at making the call at which therapist I needed to be paired with.

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      3. I never thought about asking if there is a therapist that works more with people with chronic illnesses than others. I’m glad you brought that up. There would be nothing worse than talking to someone who didn’t know about auto-immune diseases and dismissed it as “nothing” and all of that good stuff that comes with that kind of mindset.

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      4. It is definitely worth asking if there is someone nearby. If your PCP doesn’t know of someone, your Rheumatologist probably does, or if you have a local Lupus Foundation Chapter they will. Back in August when I was seeing a therapist, she dismissed all my medical stuff because I didn’t have an official diagnosis. She outright refused to talk to me about it, and that is what I was having an issue dealing with. I literally felt like I was about to die and did not know what because the doctors couldn’t tell me what was going on at first. But because she chose not to acknowledge the health issues without an official diagnosis…. I felt continuing to see her was pointless so I stopped going and dealt with things the best I could until now. Now things have calmed down enough, and I have official diagnoses for both of my conditions. So now I feel I’m ready to begin trying to heal again. I mentioned this to the therapist today and she understood where I was coming from. That was reassuring.

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  1. The picture you have up for this post was the first thing I saw when I opened your blog. It is amazing. And it will be VERY useful to me, I have so many clients who have panic attacks. Thanks so much for posting it. I look forward to reading more later but wanted you to know that now.

    Yes it does take time sometimes to find a therapist that is a good fit. I’m so glad you found someone you are comfortable with.

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    1. Karuna, Thank you so much for letting me know! I am so glad it was helpful. That image has stuck with me since I first saw it a while back. I thought it was very fitting for my post. 🙂 I’m glad I found one that I am comfortable with quickly too. That makes therapy a lot more effective. Now begins the hard part, actually working through the issues and processing. I followed you. Stay in touch! 🙂

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      1. I just sent it to several other therapists. I believe we will all find it valuable. I will be sending it to my clients later too.

        The work is difficult but it is also a valuable and grand adventure. You can do it!

        I’m glad you are going to follow my blog. I think there are several posts on it now that you would find helpful and there will be more in the future!

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      2. Thanks for sharing it with others! This is one of the things I love about blogging, it’s a great way to find ideas, and get them out to others that can benefit from the. I look forward to reading through your blog now, and in the future.

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  2. I will be really interested in hearing how this goes and especially if it helps with the “grieving the loss of me” thing. Of all the crappy things about lupus, for me that’s one of the worst.

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    1. I am very hopeful that therapy will help in the department. Its an intense and uncomfortable feeling. Not many people in my day to day life understand that. I’ll try to express it and I keep getting “You are still you, you are still the same person.” Well yes but no, not really. This has changed me. It wasn’t a subtle change to me on the inside. It was quick abrupt and without warning. I guess that’s what a lot of people refer to it as one of the invisible illnesses though. People on the outside can ignore a lot of things Lupus does because they don’t see it. It’s hard to believe it’s invisible when you experience it every day.

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  3. Oh, one other comment… One big problem I have with seeing a therapist is, years ago I used to BE a therapist. So I can’t help but be sceptical and I find myself evaluating their theraputic skills rather than dealing with the problem at hand.

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    1. I get that. I catch myself analyzing my therapists too.I honestly think that may make therapy more effective. That’s just my opinion though. You will recognize what styles will work for you and what won’t quicker. You will also recognize the bullshit quicker. I started out years ago wanting to be a therapist and got sidetracked. Life took a few turns and I ended up on a different path than I started on. It happens. No regrets I was happy with where life led me to up until Lupus and APS made their debut.

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  4. What a great post! There is so much I love about this. First, that you are generous and transparent sharing with us here. You have no idea how helpful this is to others who suffer Chronic Illness and a great eye opener to therapists who work with their clients. I’ve always felt that the expert is the person visiting the therapist and NOT the other way around. It’s the guidance and tools and support the therapist can offer…the two make a team. It sounds like you are forming a healthy and comfortable team. I love that you mention “she talked to me like a real person” awesome. One of our new clinical supervisors at my work was listening to me talk to a youth on the phone. He was taken aback that we were having a comfortable conversation rather than my using a different style (I know what he means but I have never used that other style). You just confirmed to me why it works better. Bless you and thank you for sharing this here. Cheryl-Lynn

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    1. Cheryl-Lynn,
      Thank you. I can definitely tell you from the patient’s side of things, or at least for me, I can connect with a therapist better that talks to me like a real person. I’ve had sessions with ones that do not, and I did not benefit from them.
      Kudos to you for making your clients comfortable! A good therapist will be able to know what their clients need.
      I’m glad people are finding this post helpful. One of my goals starting this blog was to help others, I’m quickly seeing I’m helping people I never imagined being able to help! That is a pretty awesome feeling and is giving me a little bit of the feeling of control back that I was feeling like I had lost due to these chronic illnesses moving into my life.
      Have a great evening and Good luck with your clients!
      Nicole

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