Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sometimes, in Order to Move Forward, You Have to Look Back

The past year has been one of struggle and growth and healing.

I've been fairly open about the fact that I'm seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist--

(Yes, both.)

--and it's surprising the progress I've seen in myself over the past twelve months. I recently re-read a post from last January, written a few weeks before starting therapy. I swear it was written by a different person. Reading that post opened my eyes to just how bad off I was a year ago. So much worse than I ever realized.

The thing is, I've had a lot of problems for a lot of years. Mood swings and crazy thoughts and obsessions and impulsive decisions and highs and lows and really, really lows.

It's been a roller coaster for as long as I could remember. But there was always so much tumult going on around me that it was easy to chalk it up to circumstances.

Officially, I've been diagnosed with depression and an anxiety disorder. Unofficially, there's much more to it than that, but neither my therapist nor my psychiatrist like to slap labels on people without a very good reason, and I really appreciate that about them both.

Recently, I was trying to explain to a friend what goes on in my head and how it feels, but I couldn't quite find the right words. It was frustrating.

And then, last weekend I saw Silver Linings Playbook. I was a little bit stunned when Bradley Cooper summed up exactly how I feel:
Yeah. With mood swings and weird thinking brought on by severe stress, which rarely happens, thank God. And then the shower incident happened and that's when everything snapped, so I then realized that, oh, wow, I've been dealing with this my whole life. And without any supervision I've been doing it all on my own with no help and basically I've been white-knuckling it this whole time.
--Pat, Silver Linings Playbook 
White-knuckling it. Without supervision. My whole life.

For as long as I can remember, there's been this sense, this overwhelming feeling that I was on the verge of losing it. As though if I let my guard down for just a second, one wrong move or badly worded sentiment from someone was all it would take to push me off the cliff into the dark and churning waters below.

The scary thing is, I spent so much time feeling like that, I actually believed it was normal. So normal I really never questioned it.

Now I'm medicated and I'm in therapy and there are very good things about both.

Obviously, there are some drawbacks to the medications, though.

I still have feelings. I still feel happy, sad, angry, frustrated, content, etc. What I don't have, however, is the ability to express those feelings in the old, familiar ways. Through uncontrollable laughing fits or rivers of tears or the urge to throw things.

It's like that sensation that comes when you stop yourself from sneezing. It's still there. It just can't be expressed.

But there's progress.

It's slow. I'm not as far along in this process as I thought I'd be after a year. But still, there's progress.

Sometimes, on a bad day, I get frustrated and wonder why there are still so many days when all I want to do is stay in bed with the covers over my head and hide from everyone. Why there are still times I'm surrounded by dear friends and can think only of the time I'll finally be able to get away and go home. Why there are still days when food tastes like dust and music sounds like noise and if one person talks to me I'm going to scream.

It's getting better.

Those bad days don't come as often anymore. And when they do, I can usually breathe my way through them. Not always, but often.

Progress.

It's a long, dark road, but now I know it won't last forever.


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35 comments:

  1. I am absolutely f'ed up but loveable :)

    I do often wonder if I will ever get better....

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    Replies
    1. I know just what you mean.

      And yes, I think you will. Maybe we won't ever be all the way better, but better.

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  2. We all have some loose screws. I'm glad you've tightened some of yours and are feeling great about yourself and life.

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    Replies
    1. Well, I don't know that I'd say I'm feeling great yet, but I'm definitely working on it.

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  3. Progress is progress, and that's always a good sign! For that reason, one of my favorite sayings has always been: A journey of a thousand miles begins with small steps.

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  4. *hugs* I'm so glad that you're being patient with yourself. You're learning news ways of feeling and expression, and that takes time, patience, and a sense of your ability to get through anything. Which you can. And will.

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    Replies
    1. It does take a lot of time, but I'm getting there. Thank you!

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  5. I'm so glad you've made so many break throughs!

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  6. Moving forward is key, even if it's one baby step in from of the other!

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    Replies
    1. Very true. It's just hard to remember that sometimes.

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  7. Getting help is important and I am so glad you feel you've made progress. I know first hand that in this case misery doesn't really care that it has company, but sometimes I find it helpful that others face the same challenges and are muddling through. So, hang tough and keep doing what you're doing - you're definitely not alone.

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    Replies
    1. It does make it easier knowing that I'm not alone in the process. I don't want others to feel the way I do, but there is some comfort in knowing that I'm not the only one.

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  8. Karen, so glad you've made progress that you can see! Keep working on yourself. Little steps.

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  9. Way to go on progress yo. You can do it. I am right there with ya. The storm lets up here and there and we dance on those days. The other days we are glad we have umbrellas and friends.

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    Replies
    1. Friends are the key. I think I'm doing better about not pushing them away.

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  10. I admire you so much for putting your struggles out there and not hiding from them. There are so many people going through things so similar to what you have and they're scared and hiding and maybe they'll see how you can open up and ask for help and that it's okay.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. It's hard to be so open about this, but I know the more people talk about it, the less scary it will be.

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  11. Gaining control of your life takes time. In my case, it's physical control. I hated my life back in '09-10 because I had no REAL control. I still don't have total control but it's getting better. And it sounds like it is for you...it's a wonderful feeling, isn't it?

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    Replies
    1. It is a good feeling, and I just keep trying to remember to be patient with myself. That's hard.

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  12. As I read this post it made me think of my sister Sue this is her life to a T............I am happy that you have more control over your life and that the therapist and psychiatrist are helping you.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jo-Anne. I hope your sister is doing okay.

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  13. I'm so glad that you are feeling better. So glad.

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  14. Well, I just think you're awesome! Keep up the good work! And white knuckles? Yeah, I have those too.

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  15. How wonderful that you've made such excellent progress in such a short time. I know a year probably sounds long to you, but, in my experience, the process is generally much slower and if family members are involved, even slower than that.

    And I smiled all through that movie. I've been in my profession for a long, long time and thought that no movie ever got that struggle right until Silver Lining Playbook.

    Good luck to you on your amazing journey.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Maria.

      I had to laugh. Yes, the process can be much slower when family is involved. Especially when family is involved.

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  16. I think it's awesome work you doing. Keep us updated!

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  17. What a brave post! I applaud you for putting this out there, it's so hard! Good job taking control of your life, and though there's still a lot of path left-heading down it is such an improvement! I'm proud of you!

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  18. Karen... You are so strong and awesome. For putting this out there and for exposing yourself in a way that not many have the courage to do. THIS IS PROGRESS. Admitting to yourself that yes, you are working on yourself, and getting help day by day. You are proactive about seeking a way out of dark spots and you are doing all you can to deal with the daily struggles.

    I get that. I have also been in and out of therapists offices for the past year and a half, and it's so difficult to just not have an easy answer. SO many days I woke up saying "Okay, that's it. Today is going to be a good day and I won't worry!" and life just doesn't work that way. I've learned to admit to myself that it's OKAY that I can't always be in control and sometimes I'll feel/experience things that make me uncomfortable.

    I absolutely loved SLP. Such a wonderful movie. And yes, that line definitely hits it on the head.

    Every day you get better, Karen, even if it doesn't always appear that way to you. XOXO

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"You know what they say. If you don't have anything nice to say about anybody, come sit by me."

~Clairee Belcher, Steel Magnolias



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