Reflections of 2008

On the eve of the last day of 2008, I have been reflecting over the past year. If you would have asked me 5 years ago if I thought I would ever have a more difficult span of 12 months, my answer would have been "no way!" But now that I have lived through the past 12 months, I find it hard to remember what it is like to be "happy". My previous definition of happy had everything to do with denial of my past, being happy with how things were in the present and how things may have looked for the future. A year ago I was "happy". Now I am neither happy as I used to see it, or happy as it is now. I am sad. I am hurt. I am angry. I am fragile. I have chosen to be all these things alone.

No one truly knows how hard this year has been for me. I have chosen to shield them all from that, mainly for my own protection but to also for the protection of specific people. I have chosen to suffer in silence because I have been shown that I can't rely on the people who surround me. My family, most of my friends, etc. It's a very tough road to travel alone, but I honestly relish it most of the time. Without the eyes of others upon me, I feel free to do what needs to be done for me, not because I'm worried about how my actions will affect others.

This year has been the hardest of my life. I honestly don't think there will be a sequence of events that will have me suffer as much as I have in 2008. Part of this comforts me, but the more rational part of me realizes that with this much pain, there is that much healing necessary. 2009 will be a hard year, too... but in a different form. I will no longer be spiraling a point so low I thought I would never return, but will be working to pull myself away from rock-bottom to a point at which I can be happy again. Happy not as I used to know it, but happy as how God intended.

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." - Isaiah 41:10

Ho Ho Ho

Merry Christmas! I really wasn't looking forward to today, but was pleasantly surprised. I was able to enjoy the time I spent at home, opening presents and visiting with my family. I got some really good presents this year, way more than I asked for or even feel I deserve, but I have had an awful year so I guess Santa is rewarding me. My sister spent way too much money on me, and I felt guilty for not doing the same... but that guilt was short lived.

We planned to (about 6 weeks ago) drive to to visit our aunt, uncle and cousins tomorrow and stay til Sunday. I was going to fly from there out to Cal.iforn.ia to spend the rest of my break visiting my dad and stepmom. My dad booked a hotel for us but sent me the confirmation, my sister never heard back from him so she thought that it meant our plans were still tentative. So, much to my chagrin, she has made other plans to go with her friends to a condo in Col.orado and wants to have the weekend to relax. Wonderful! I was excited to go, but she was driving and I can't drive there myself since I'll be flying back next week. Multiple snafu's to fix at once... having to tell my aunt/uncle (and cousin who is PISSED) that we are not coming now, having to cancel the hotel that my dad booked, having to change the flights my dad booked... all because she changed her mind. All the while, my dad and stepmom are MIA, not answering any of their phones. So they have no idea that we are not going to KS, that I had to change my flight and that I am now going to be there at 1PM tomorrow. I'm thinking they're not going to be too happy.

I however am kind of relieved to not have to drive 8 hours tomorrow then fly 5 hours on Sunday, to follow up with a 3 hour flight back next Friday. The prospect of being in the mountains tomorrow is very appealling.

One of those days

I feel like I have been hit by a truck. My body is so drained from the panic that consumed me today... only now am I coming down from that, and I am feeling it right down into my bones.

I had one of the hardest sessions of my life today. I told myself before I went in there that I was going to read out loud the letter I had written and not allow myself to make excuses. Easier said than done. I think it took me close to 25 minutes to read the first paragraph. I had the onset of a panic attack as I kept reading and I could not stop shaking for the majority of the time... all because of words. Words on a piece of paper. Who knew the truth could be that terrifying? One paragraph was so hard for me to read I completely broke down right in the middle of it... ugh. I hate crying in front of people. I feel so weak when I do that but I just could not stave off the panic AND the emotions all at once, so I made the decision to cry a little in return for not completely freaking out in her office. Life's a trade off right?

In retrospect, I am very glad I was able to read it all in one session, especially since I won't be able to go back for another 2 weeks. Had I not done it, I would have looked down on myself for being so weak and not doing the best I could. At the very least, I accomplished that. But now, I have all these emotions out, they are no longer just a part of my thoughts... but now A knows about them. I know that they are as safe with her as they were in my head, but it's amazing how much more real it makes this entire situation.

I'm hoping I can sleep tonight without any more nightmares. I had one Sunday night that kept me up for a long time. Sometimes living alone is not such a great thing.


So my first official day of winter break has been draining. I have had more anxiety in a 2 hour time period than I have in quite some time... oh the joys of triggers. I had an appointment for my annual exam with my OBGYN. I'd put it off for almost 8 months and couldn't justify going any further even though current events in my life had me an absolute basket case. I knew I needed to tell her about my past, but I just wasn't sure how. I got there and immediately started feeling panicky. While sitting in the exam room, wearing the dinky little robe and being covered with a sheet, I started shaking. Not because I was cold but because I was so nervous. She walked in, we exchanged greetings, discussed changes in medications, menstruation, etc when I took my turn. I honestly don't remember all that I said, just that I was so tense and shaking the whole time and I was trying not to cry. I am proud of myself, that I was able to do something that I knew would be hard for me, but would be the best for me as well. I had never told her anything about abuse in my past and as my doctor for the past 6 years she should know. I don't remember much of the exam, though. When I get really panicked/threatened/anxious, I retreat to this place in the back of my mind where no thought/memory is allowed. I remember feeling some pain this time, which was new, but I chalk that up to being so damn tense. Aside from that I couldn't tell you if she talked to me or not, if I was there for 5 minutes or 20. It was my goal to not do this, to be more in tune with what was going on because retreating the way I do is not how I should be coping anymore... but it was just too much in a short period of time. I guess I'll get another shot next year.

I have a session tomorrow and I am not looking forward to it. The "homework" I was given was extremely hard for me to do, and again I felt so threatened by it that I shutdown and went into "self-presevation" mode. I wrote about it, but from a distant, disconnected perspective. I didn't think about what I was writing nor did I let it affect me. We'll see how that goes when I share it tomorrow... if I can share it. I'm thinking tomorrow isn't going to be a tense-free day either. At least I'm going out with my girlfriends tonight... that oughta loosen me up a bit!

Come so far, but got so far to go...

A song from my favorite movie is a pretty good definition of how I view my life right now.

I know we've come so far
But we've got so far to go
I know the road seems long
But it won't be long 'till it's time to go
So, most days we'll take it fast
And some nights lets take it slow
I know we've come so far
But baby, baby we've got so far to go!

I was writing a letter to C last night to put with a gift I got her for Christmas, reflecting on some things that I try not to let myself think about very often, namely my progress in recovery. It's almost one year to the day... and when I think back to that day, it makes me want to curl up and hide in that place in my brain where I hid so many things. Just the thought of how bad it was causes me pain. But then I think about how I view things now, and I feel like I have come so far in my perspective of my life and what I want out of it. That being said, being in counseling has slowly taken away the coping mechanisms I used as a kid to survive, which as an adult are not healthy... and that leaves me open and vulnerable to a lot of things. Progress is not fast when you feel vulnerable.

While I know I have made strides in the right direction, I am nowhere near where I hoped to be one year later. The good news is that I think I have learned more and made more progress in the past 2 months with my new counselor than I did with over the last year. I just can't let myself fall into the trap that I did over the summer. I fell back into denial and stopped going; stopped because it was too hard and denial was too easy. My life is never going to be the way I want it if I let myself fall back into denial. If I keep my eyes on God, I will be lead through the darkness to safety. There is nothing I want more than to be on the bright side of this dark place.

Does a year change everything?

So it's been almost a year since I've posted.. and not much has changed. Life as I knew it completely fell apart the last 2 weeks of 2007. I could barely function, having constant panic attacks and extreme depression. I was put on medication and was able to pass as "functioning" to most people. Only C really knew what was up... and had she not been there for me, I probably wouldn't be here today. January, February and March were awful still. I continued going to counseling and made some progress but it was so hard. I never felt really connected to her, so I didn't share a lot of things I should have. April and May picked up and I started feeling more like myself. I was in Europe for half of the summer, and Cali.forn.ia for the rest. I finally started feeling more like myself! No panic attacks, no depression!

August rolled around and I had a new challenge. I was moved to a different department and had to "find myself" among a new set of co-workers. Thankfully they are a great group, and I absolutely love it (when I swore to myself I was going to hate it!!). Things were going good (as good as denial can be) until my grandpa died. C warned me that death has a way of bringing back things you think you have buried, but she was right... the PT.SD came back with a vengeance and I started having panic attacks again. I knew I needed to get back into counseling, but with someone new. She helped me research people who were trained in the type of trauma recovery I need, and I started seeing a new counselor the last week in October. Somewhere in the mix, I've found out that the PT.SD/anxiety has started triggering physical reactions. I passed out at work one week after having a sudden onset of rapid heartbeat and spiked blood pressure. Went to the doctor, bloodwork and MRI produce nothing. Had the same thing happen last week, had an EKG today and it came back completely normal but that leaves my subconcious triggering these physical reactions. I talked to my doctor about possibly being put back on anti-anxiety meds (since I stopped taking any medication in March) and she recommended I go see a psychiatrist. I'm going to think about it...

November was rocky... I hit one of the lowest points ever and contemplated checking myself into the hospital. I should have been talking to C, but I just couldn't. I'm sick of only having these awful, depressing conversations with her. I want to be able to be happy and not unload my burdens onto her. She has a lot on her plate too. Things are somewhat stagnant right now. I have good days and bad days, although this week has been touch and go. I had to excuse myself from a meeting to go in the bathroom to ride out a panic attack. Those days are not fun.

Christmas can't get here fast enough...

P.S. I've joined a new gym and will be working a new circuit in hopes to lose more weight. I've gained 15 lbs since I started my career in 2006 and I absolutely hate my body right now. Ugh.