Happily (For Now) Not Featured On Freshly Pressed

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Stella, at http://finallyspeakingmytruth.com/, has become a very dear friend and has graciously nominated me for the Not Featured On Freshly Pressed Award.

I am very new to the blogging world and have only been to the Freshly Pressed page maybe three times. I had no idea there was an award associated with it, and I had no idea there was an award for those who were not associated with it! With the research (ie. Google “Freshly Pressed Award”) I have done in light of this nomination, I have found that the posts featured on this page get upwards of 30,000 viewers. That would be a lot of people reading about my diagnosis, poor coping skills, and shame! While my goal is to increase mental health awareness, I’m not sure I am ready to expose my vulnerability to that many people. I had a full-blown meltdown the day I had 256 views!

Maybe one day I’ll be ready for that many views, but today I am content with what I currently receive. Here are the blogs I’d like to nominate for this award. I read every word of these blogs and appreciate all they have to say about their journey towards healing.

Afraid To Tell – http://afraidtotell.wordpress.com/ (I encourage you to read The Shadows)

Erica Belle – http://ihurtericabelle.wordpress.com/

Ellie Sophia – http://elliethompson.wordpress.com/

RULES FOR NOMINEES

1. Select the blog(s) you think deserve the “The I’m NOT Featured On Freshly Pressed Award”.

2. Write a blog post and tell us the blog(s) you have chosen- there are no minimum or maximum number of blogs required- and ‘present’ the blog(s) with their award.

3. Include in your blog post a paragraph about why you’d like to be on WordPress’ Freshly Pressed OR a paragraph on why you couldn’t care less about Freshly Pressed. Up to you

4. Let the blog(s) that you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the instructions with them- (please don’t alter the instructions or the badge!)

5. Come over and say hello to the originator of the “The I’m NOT Featured On Freshly Pressed Award” via this link:http://DonCharisma.org/2014/01/01/the-im-not-featured-on-freshly-pressed-award

6. And as a winner of the award- please add a link back to the blog that presented you with this award, and then PROUDLY display the award on your blog.

7. If you ever do get officially “Freshly Pressed” then take down this award badge and display the official “Freshly Pressed” badge instead.

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Therapist By A Thread

“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”

bfmh14-copy-e1388959797718http://acanvasoftheminds.com/2014/01/07/blog-for-mental-health-2014/

I came across this my very first day blogging and have been meaning to officially take this pledge ever since. My main purpose in starting this blog was to raise awareness of mental health and erase the stigma of carrying a mental health diagnosis.

When I am in the therapist’s chair, my clients often say things like, “You wouldn’t understand” or “I wish I had it so together like you!” I usually respond with something similar to, “I understand you feel so alone and isolated” for the former and, “Everybody’s got something to work on!” for the latter. On the outside, my job as a professional is to create a safe, one-sided relationship for my clients so they can achieve whatever goals they are in therapy to achieve. I am good at this. I am good at putting the attention on others, and I am very good at redirecting clients. I have even become a star at answering the mandatory personal questions (ie. “What’s the most difficult thing you have ever experienced?” to which I often replied while pregnant, “Making it through this therapy session without peeing my pants!”) while playing therapy games with clients. My clients have no idea of my diagnosis, and that is ethical and professional. At times, my heart breaks at their feelings of isolation, but it is not my job (on the contrary, it would be quite unethical of me to do this) to share the personal information they would need from me in order to realize that I understand them on a deeper level than the books I studied in graduate school.

But I do understand them on a deeper level. At times, I am struck by their ability to verbalize the feelings I have been working to verbalize in my own therapy for months. I actually sometimes type out what I want to say and bring it to therapy with me, in a desperate attempt to not shut down or dissociate in session. After work, I pull off my professional mask and put on my mommy mask. This includes homeschooling my almost four year old, breastfeeding a five and half month old at all hours of the night, and making half-assed dinners that at least one person will not be interested in consuming. I do my best to keep my mask on until the kids are in bed for the night, but this does not always happen; my son has found me, on several occasions, hiding in the dark bathroom as I struggle to pull myself together.

Finally, I pull off my mask and what is underneath is ugly. There are scars. There is blood. There are tears. There is anger. There is hurt. Hatred. Need. Desire. And there is sin. It is officially labeled posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is a world that it seems nobody wants to acknowledge. There are deep secrets that, as someone said to me recently, “Our family tends to forget.”

This is why I am writing a blog. It is wrong to forget family secrets. Family secrets strengthen generational cycles so that more and more children are consumed by darkness. I have shared this blog with my real world, and many in my real world are unimpressed. Most have quietly ignored my loud proclamation from this rock I have climbed upon. I am shaking as I make this proclamation, but I am shouting as loud as I can. I am scared to speak out, but I am. I shout louder with the more courage I have, and with the more healing I have experienced. Inside I am weak and bloody, but I will not stop shouting. People need to stop quietly ignoring family secrets. Family secrets need to be exposed and changed… and healed, so that the cycle will stop. If this blog leads just one person to speak up about their scary secrets in attempt to make healthy change, my goal has been reached.

“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them… . When anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light” -Ephesians 5:11-14.

Uncomfortable

quilt

Something inside of me snapped. I’m not sure what it was because I’m still completely numb. People are asking questions. People are reaching out. People in my real life are telling me they care. This feeling is so foreign and I’m not sure I’m comfortable with it. My daughter was given a beautiful quilt today at church. I had conversation with other women who also struggle to get dinner on the table, and who can’t sing, and who can’t sew. For the first time, it felt like there might be a small place in my church where I belong… And I don’t like this feeling. I am used to being the quiet one who is overlooked and often unintentionally ignored. I don’t like speaking out and I hate answering questions. I don’t like being called “strong” and “courageous” for speaking out against generational cycles. I don’t even want to speak, I want to hide in the corner. I am finding myself on the verge of retreating completely, of shutting down, of removing myself from all social interaction in order to survive. I am much safer when I’m not in the center of attention. I find myself desperately seeking my unhealthy coping skills in order to quickly feel like myself again. I want to continue to feel safe in my unsafe and scared world. There is a part of me that does not want to heal because it’s not comfortable. I hate change but it’s happening anyway; good change or bad change, I’m not sure. Probably a little of both. Against my will. Hopefully when (read: if) I come out on the other side, kicking and screaming against my will, I will open my eyes and see flowers, green grass, and sunlight. Only when I am sure I can stand on firm ground will I feel safe enough to venture from this box I have created for myself; a box chained and locked and thrown overboard so that nobody can find me. Only there am I safe.

The Therapy Room

I hate therapy. I love being a therapist. But I hate therapy. Therapy is a strange concept, isn’t it? You are in a one-sided relationship where you are expected to pour out your soul. The therapist encourages you to think for yourself, take care of yourself, and allow yourself to feel overwhelming feelings instead of run from them. The therapy room becomes a haven where you greatly look forward to feeling relaxed, safe, and comfortable; but the therapy room also becomes a dreaded place where you learn to talk openly about nightmares, trauma, and the dark aspects of your life that you would never talk about otherwise. After you experience these conflicting feelings for 45 minutes to an hour and a half (that’s how long mine are; an hour and a half), you are expected to zip up your emotions and walk out of the therapy room as collected as you were when you first walked in. It’s bizarre. It teaches “containment skills.” In non-therapeutic terms, it teaches you to wear a facade. In some respects, a facade is necessary or you would never get anything done but wallow in the overwhelming feelings. However, you feel desperately alone in the facade. You go through the motions and wait both anxiously and excitedly until the next session, where you will pour out your heart in this bizarre, one-sided relationship.

I hate therapy. It sends me into a spiral for a few days following because I hate shoving my mask back on. If I could, I would shout my trauma from the roof tops, I would announce it to the world; I am sick of wearing this mask and pretending that I am functioning on a normal level. Anyone who is hiding something knows what I’m talking about. Statistics say at least 1 in 3 of you are hiding something. I’m so sorry. That is why I write this; you are not alone. You are not the only person wearing a mask. I wish we could come up with some sort of subtle sign to wear to alert others that you are falling apart beneath the facade. That way, those not struggling would not notice, but those who needed to know they are not alone would see.

My husband will be gone all day tomorrow. Where I usually have a break with the kids, I now have them ALL. DAY. LONG. So, here’s my to-do list. We’ll see how much gets done. This is me, zipping up my mask to function and parent, and do my best to manage myself and my household. I hate this mask. I hate learning to wear this mask, and I hate learning to manage the emotions under the mask. I hate therapy. I wish I could both never go to therapy and never leave therapy, all at the same time.

to do list

Engagement Anniversary

My dear husband,

Today we celebrate 5 years of being engaged. If I questioned before, I knew I’d marry you for sure when you willingly put yourself on the road to take this picture for me:

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Your proposal was so incredibly thought out and elaborate that I trip over my words just trying to explain it to people- but my favorite was when you got on your knee and offered me the ring I still wear each day. It looks a little something like this, except it is real:

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This has, by far, been our best year of marriage. Thank you for standing by me through my pregnant hormonal outbursts, my dramatic labor, and my struggle with my faith and moving forward from my past. I am so happy to call you my husband. Here are some of my favorite moments with you over the last year:

Hearing the squeal our daughter gives every time she sees you

Watching you seeing our daughter on ultrasound (all three times!)

Watching you grow our race timing business right in our spare bedroom

Rough-housing with you and our son

The first time you waved at that carved bear at the end of that person’s driveway

Watching you learn HTML code!

Watching you map the course to train our son for his first running team next spring!

Watching you father our son; thank you for being his best friend

I love the way you come and lie down with me when I need you most

I love the way you set up our computers yesterday so we could connect more effectively 😉

computersMy goals for the upcoming year:

Learn to enjoy sports

Do the dishes every day (I just don’t know if this is ever going to happen but I’m not going to give up!)

Be patient with your humor

Cook more

Laugh with you more

Engage in your theological tangents

Okay Okay, I’ll stop writing about doing the dishes and just go do them. I love you! Love,

Your wife (ps- thank you for the m&m’s for our date tonight!!)

It’s Sunday

It’s Sunday
It’s time for my biggest facade of all
I will go to church and pretend I’m fine
Few will notice when I decline
Yet another lunch invitation
Kids are a great excuse
But really it’s me

My husband is relieved
he is depleted too
No wonder we fight
When this battle is fought
there is nothing left

The Bible says if I make my bed in the depths of hell, God is there
But what if my bed was made for me?
People say faith is like a tea bag
You can tell what you’re made of in boiling water
But what if I’m being burned alive?
I’ve failed the tea bag test

It’s time to accept and work through my son being a major trigger
It makes sense
That’s how old I was when…
Never mind.
I have a facade with you too.

Coping Skill Depletion

Journal

Draw

Clean

Parent

Rest

Cry

Scream

Shower

Grounding

Music

Snuggles

Sugar

Cooking

Facebook

Email

RAINN

I nearly went crazy today with flashbacks

I felt so alone

But I am not crazy

I am not alone

I am 7. Sometimes the best coping skill is a juice box… and a straw to chew away the anxiety

grape juice

The damage is done

my mind

It took a lot of courage to start a blog about my struggle (and as a result, my family’s struggle) with PTSD, and I’m not sure what I was thinking when I promptly told my real world that the blog existed… and as a bi-product, I told my world about my diagnosis. Not long after I posted the link, I began to deeply regret sharing; it’s that feeling of shame eating away at me. I’ve quickly become a part of this beautiful community of bloggers with a PTSD diagnosis; they all write under pseudonyms and if their family knows the blog exists, they have never read it. After nearly three weeks of my blogging, I can see why. I set out to make mental illness easier to talk about, but my posts on this blog have been careful; I cannot share so much of myself or I will just make myself more vulnerable than I already am.

But, the damage has been done so I may as well share. I am sharing because it has wreaked havoc on my family. I keep telling myself that we will come out stronger on the other side… but what if there is no other side? My therapist keeps telling me I need to learn to live with it, and learn to accept that I will always have these, at times, debilitating symptoms. Once I accept, then I can move forward with learning to manage.

It is embarrassing to admit to people I see every day that when my son runs and jumps on me from behind, instead of playing with him, I curl into a ball, cover my ears, close my eyes and cry. Or when my husband uses a certain tone, I hide- again, in a ball with my ears covered and eyes closed. I close my eyes so I don’t see the flashbacks, but they’re in my mind so I see it more readily. I cover my ears so I don’t hear my flashbacks, but they’re in my mind so I hear them more readily. I curl up so I don’t feel my flashbacks, but it makes no difference. My husband is afraid to listen to music in the car because he never knows when he’ll look over to see me dissociated because of a certain song. I never know when I will be triggered, and I may end up in my car in the parking lot at Target in tears because something as simple as the way someone was walking triggered me.

I am so busy surviving that it is a struggle to socialize or clean the house. It takes everything I have to meet my children’s needs.

One More Day

In light of my kitchen looking like this, my oatmeal has broccoli bits in it from the measuring cup I used last night.

kitchen

My husband had to dig through these clean clothes to find his work clothes:

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I was going to take a photo of the bathroom but considering my three year old is standing to pee, I don’t think you want to see the damage in there! I would also reveal the pile of dirty diapers next to the changing pad (the diaper pail is iced over outside), but I don’t want you to get the wrong impression of me or how I run my home (I also don’t want Child Protective Services showing up at my front door!).

I began crying when the alarm woke me to wake my husband this morning (because if he’s in charge of the alarm, it’ll end up waking the whole house) because I had just gotten the baby back to sleep after a long night. “I can’t do this anymore!” I cried. “I need sleep to function!” He replied, “Well, you can do it one more day.” He is right. If I break down the daunting tasks ahead of me, I can handle one more day. However, if I imagine how my exhaustion is going to end up being the demise of my children’s futures, I will likely fall apart and get nothing done today.

One of my greatest desires is to be one of *those* wives. The kind who homeschools her children flawlessly, whose home is spotless, dinner is served promptly at 6pm, children are bathed nightly and put into bed on time. However, the reality is that sometimes at 9:30pm, my son has perched himself several feet off the ground naked and has no plans of coming down; my five month old is crying because she rolled herself over while sleeping and promptly woke herself up; dinner (if it was even served at all, many times it’s a PB&J for my son) is out on the stove ready to be stored in the fridge; the smoke detector is going off because I left a burner on; my phone is ringing; and I am tripping over Hot Wheels, Leog’s, or Thomas train tracks to complete just *one* of these tasks. Forget time to use the bathroom or blow my nose.

So, at the wise words of my husband, I can do one more day. One task at a time. Chances are, my house will still be a disaster at the end of the day, but if I’ve continued to steadily work and have not just given up and passed out in bed at 3pm, I will be satisfied. My children are always fed, *fairly* clean, and *mostly* happy. Right now, in the midst of this exhausting postpartum period, those things seem to be the most important, and it appears that I can gauge my success by them.

Next on my agenda: put baby down for nap and tackle those dishes!!