Run Your Race

running trail

I went for a run today. I was completely alone for all but a few people, and I realized just how much healing is like running. You are on a desolate trail all alone, and no matter how much you want company, there is often nobody around to encourage you or hold your hand (though we do at times get to run with support of all shapes and sizes along the way). Sometimes you pass people who are doing their own training. Some can run faster and longer, and have stronger leg muscles than you; some are happily riding their bikes enjoying the scenery while you fight to breathe; some are being pushed in a wheelchair; some are running at your speed but are going in the opposite direction; and yet others are stopped to rest on the side.

I ran for a good distance, and kept pushing myself because I wanted to reach a distance I could measure when I got home to map my course. I ran for 30 minutes before I turned around, and alternated between walking and running the rest of the way. While I walked, I focused on breathing in the crisp air, and I noticed things along the road that I did not see while running… squiggles in the dirt from a recent snake, patches of purple flowers, intricate spider webs. I had been planning on sprinting the last 1/4 mile but was so busy in my head that I missed my landmark! In the same way, when I am stuck in my head, I am missing everything around me; my daughter’s rapid milestones, my son maturing into boyhood, and my husband’s frustrated pleas for his wife’s attention.

While I was running, a beautiful butterfly came flying towards my head and I had to duck to miss it. It reminded me of how often beautiful moments are right in my face and I duck into the next room and hide, intentionally missing them while my heart aches. I watched the river run swiftly beneath me on the bridge and it made me feel vulnerable, much like the rapids in my life; however, there was a sense of safety in knowing I was above these rapids on the bridge. I often feel like the piece of trash that’s washed ashore, but know that in reality I am safe on the bridge… even if the waves crash into me every now and then, there is solid ground beneath my feet and a tall fence on either side to keep me safe from falling into the deep water below.

There were some moments on my run that I ran and some where I walked, but I never stopped moving. And even if I had, eventually I would have had to start again if I wanted to make it home. Sometimes we are too weak to fight, and we must rest. Sometimes we are weak-ish and cannot fight our hardest, but we walk through the motions. And sometimes we are so exhausted that we cannot move. But there is an important pattern that I have noticed in everyone who battles a mental diagnosis (notice I never call it a mental illness; it’s just a diagnosis). We have bad days when the sun is dehydrating our bodies and we wish there was water at the side of the road. We have bad days when we collapse onto the path in frustration and exhaustion. And there are days we finish our run in tears. But we always finish. It’s okay to sprint, run, jog, walk, or even crawl. It’s even okay to sit and take a break, or walk backwards, or throw fits… or cry, or ask someone to carry you, or limp across the finish line. What is important is that each of us will cross that finish line, and we must keep fighting to make it there. We must believe it will be okay; we must believe there IS a finish line; and we must believe that once we cross it we will feel exhaustion, relief, elation, and a sense of accomplishment.

I’d like to suggest that each day we cross a finish line. And if we’ve crossed it bloody and bruised from the run, we have still crossed that finish line because we are still alive. We are still fighting. And if we continue to cross that finish line, each day we go without giving up, we are getting stronger and stronger. One day we will be able to run without gasping for air or fighting to stay upright. Keep fighting.

Run in such a way that you may win. – 1 Corinthians 9:24

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Making a Choice

schedule2I am actively making a choice to turn my potentially bad day into a good day. I am saying to myself, “I can put a movie on for my son and be perfectly okay with it because I’ve written bad days into my routine. However, since I have a choice, I am going to push through and do what needs to be done.” I’m taking a breather to come up with an action plan and coping skills to help me manage today. Today I have to say goodbye to my therapist. Plus, work has been quite stressful the past few weeks and I’m finally starting to process it today. Anyway, today my family needs me. Instead of shutting down and choosing self-loathing, I colored my completed tasks to red in order to have a visual of what all I need to complete (and to see how much I’ve completed even through my spiral). I wrote my to-do list at the bottom, but really the only thing that *needs* to get done are the race bibs. I have to write 200 names, ages, and sexes on 200 bibs for tomorrow’s race.

Regarding my chosen coping skills for the day, I have found that if I ground myself with all my senses, it tends to work wonders. Therefore, I bought a pack of Jolly Ranchers to use. Silly putty really grounds me too.

Disclaimer: I am actually quite unorganized, despite posting my schedule for the past two days!! It is very unlike me to follow through with a routine like this. We’ll see how long it lasts, but it seems to be working right now.

A Doable Schedule

ScheduleMy new therapist suggested I do my best to follow a consistent schedule and thought that was the very next step for me, besides seeing a psychiatrist. I shared that I am less capable of getting things accomplished on bad days, and that my bad days usually revolve around getting less sleep (hence the bad day has a scheduled nap for me!). Therefore, I made three schedules to go by that have doable goals for each level of emotion. As I have time, I will put coping skills into the various groupings, but I thought these overall categories were good enough to start with. I also started to make a schedule that has a column for each person in the family (namely, what I need to be doing for each of them during each time frame), and that’s what I’ll probably go by, but here is my first attempt at ordered living 🙂

We’ll see how it goes. I much prefer making pretty charts and schedules than actually going by them. This chart is far from being perfected! Excel is so fun 🙂

Hard Decisions

Mastery-Spreading-yourself-thin

I have been spreading myself emotionally thin over the past few weeks. It has caught up to me in a series of almost continuous dissociation, hypomanic episodes, angry and physically violent outbursts, and self-harm. I have opened myself up to sharing an overview of my past with five new people in a matter of weeks, in the name of finding a therapist that is experienced enough to manage my level of trauma and my symptoms. I have finally found a trauma therapist I am very pleased with, and she happens to be Christian- which is important to me right now, as I cannot heal without God’s healing hand.

She is slowly working her way into my past through a very long intake process, and has not asked a single time about my trauma. She has stated that she primarily wants me to focus on staying present during session, and when I reported (she checks in regarding dizziness every few minutes) mild dizziness today, she had me stop the intake to share the tasks I had completed that morning. It took me several minutes to recall what I had done! It was clearly a rough morning full of dissociation.

She also stated that she strongly encourages me to have a psychiatric evaluation completed and most likely go on meds, because we cannot delve into trauma work until my symptoms are managed much better than they are now. This is a difficult step for me because I am breastfeeding and I do not want to wean. It is my daughter’s reference point for everything when I am around; she uses it to connect, feed, play, and for comfort. Weaning would change our entire relationship. I am not against formula feeding, as I formula fed my first, but I fought very hard to establish a breastfeeding relationship with my daughter and I am agonizing over the possibility of having to give it up.

And… she told me it would be best if I chose just one therapist. Friday is my termination session for the therapist I have been seeing for over a year. I trust her. I like her. I work well with her. I am attached to her. I do not want to say goodbye. New therapists are sometimes necessary steps to take towards healing, but it is going to be very difficult to say goodbye without shutting down.

Photo credit: http://yellowgazelle13.blogspot.com/2011/03/getting-closer.html

Essential Oils? Vitamin Deficiency? – PTSD

Herbal Essence Dropper

Does anybody have any specific knowledge or experience regarding the use of essential oils, particularly to treat PTSD symptoms? I have been very curious about essential oils since I read about a friend whose son with autism was able to decrease his levels of risperdal due to using essential oils. For some reason, I always seem to be wary of homeopathic remedies, but if it has helped anyone’s PTSD symptoms, I am willing to try. I have a friend who has the following oils to help with anxiety, and she was going to let me try them: Lavender, Balance, Serenity, and Breathe.

Also, I know nothing about vitamins, but am wondering if PTSD symptoms (namely dizziness and anxiety) are ever caused by a certain vitamin deficiency or another physical issue. Has anyone ever gone for bloodwork regarding PTSD or gone on a certain vitamin and had their PTSD symptoms decrease? I know hypoglycemia sometimes gets me because I under eat when I’m stressed. I know I have been dizzy all day and just took a prenatal vitamin I had left over from MY SON! (with my other two pregnancies, I jumped onto the gummy prenatal vitamins bandwagon and so these swallow pills have been in my cupboard for 4.5 years!) and within 30 minutes my dizziness went away.

I don’t know, what do you think?

Photo credit: http://essentialjoy.lorig.me/category/essential-oils/page/2/

Quote On Suffering

Recovering from suffering is not like recovering from a disease. Many people don’t come out healed; they come out different.

I came across this quote by NYT columnist David Brooks and I felt it was important to share today.

 

Me

Woman Pulling Hair out

I’m bursting with anger and fear
There’s too much pain to shed a tear
Sometimes I’m collected and calm
Meeting their needs, I am their mom

Just one trigger and I am four
Curled up, I can’t take anymore
I try hard but I cannot speak
I’m gone and can only hear screams

More triggers and I am seven
Angry at my God in heaven
My memories and pain are here
Boxed up so the others don’t fear

Can I force myself to be five?
I feel so vibrant and alive
Creative stories in my mind
I get to leave my past behind

I have trauma, is this for real?
There must be honesty to heal
I am longing to be just me
How long until God sets me free?

Attached

girl,heart,sad,tears-fb2fece012f4e3a51fc8ef275afdb5c2_m

I decided to find another therapist

This time a Christian and a specialist

She explained dissociative disorders

In a way that was less frightening

And gave tips on teaching my son to be mindful

I walked away both comfortable and okay

And as for my primary therapist

I guess it’s time to say goodbye

I cried in front of her a few times

That’s so rare.

I mean really really cried in front of her

She normalizes my struggles as a parent

Normalizes my struggle with self-harm

The part of me that carries anger

Trusts her.

So rare.

She normalizes my transference and says

“You can always keep me in your back pocket”

When I am dissociated

She teaches me to walk down into the dungeon

And pull my little girl out

She addresses my little girl

And that is what I need at times

She gives me a juice box and sometimes two

Last time even a granola bar

Because I didn’t eat breakfast

And now I must say goodbye

I felt so safe with her

When do you choose to find someone new

When the choice is safety versus

More specialized treatment?

Will I heal with this new person?

Or will I fall apart with every

time I must separate from someone I trust

For the rest of my life?

Am I making a good choice?

What if I miss her?

Am I stupid because I have attached?

I quit once because I realized I was attached

And now I must leave for good

Where will the rage inside go

If I am not safe anymore?

I need a hug.

And. My. Therapist.

Photo credit: http://the1bookblog.blogspot.com/2010_05_01_archive.html

Faithful God’s Wayward Daughter

Fotolia_woman-with-cross-e1335162465312

People have told me in the past not to challenge God. Actually, my husband told me this just this weekend. My reply was, “God is big enough to meet me in my challenges.” I am not a typical Christian. I wear jeans or slacks to a church where most women wear skirts (and men wear suits) because I feel vulnerable in dresses. If the pastor suggests we memorize a certain verse, I choose a different passage and memorize the entire chapter. If someone suggests I ought to be a stay-at-home mom in this time period, I send a quiet challenge by stating that if I can find a good full-time job, I would take it in a heartbeat (which is probably not true). I do not fit into the homemaker, homeschool mom category that many of my reformed Christian peers do. So I guess it makes sense that I’d fight the norm on shoving down any struggles in faith and doubts.

Instead of having shame that I’m questioning God’s plan for me, I think I ought to turn to God with my questions and faltering. He already knows I’m questioning His plan for me, I cannot hide it from Him. So why not bring it out into the open? I believe it is only through honesty that a person can heal in anything, including relationship with the Father.

The Bible is full of miraculous signs that God used to both to show Himself faithful and meet us in our needs, and it is also full of people who struggled in their faith. Elijah brought fire down from heaven as a sign that his God was the true God. Jacob wrestled with God. Abraham laughed at God. King David prayed that God would kill his enemies.

As I challenge God with “What do you have for me?!” and “Do something, Lord!” and “Where are You?!” I am met with verses such as, “Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” and “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You.” and “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are mine.” and “You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day.”

Truthfully, I would not have had the ability to manage a recent crisis at work if I had not been going through my own crisis. It was through my own journey of faith, therapy, and wisdom from a therapist that I was able to manage the crisis- and it was only a few days prior that I discovered the verses I needed and the necessary therapeutic techniques that would de-escalate the situation. I have no desire to be in the depths of crisis and spiritual warfare, but perhaps I can trust that all things do work out for good to those who love Him.

Photo credit: http://sylviabrowder.com/symptoms-of-spiritual-awakening-learn-why-youre-feeling-so-off-balance/