Talking and Crying

It has been a very challenging week. My session today with A reflected that as I spent just about the whole hour crying.

Monday I had my appointment with the new psychiatrist. It went much better than I could have ever expected. She was very personable and easy to talk to. I didn't have any anxiety answering her questions or offering extra information I thought she should know. That is night and day to my last experience with a psychiatrist. She is lowering the dosage of my current anti-anxiety/depression medication and added a mood stabilizer to help keep me from crashing as often. I'll go back to see her in a few weeks to make sure that things are going well with current doses before I head back to work. Tuesday was the day of my procedure, and while it was much easier than the surgery in April, it still took its toll on my body. I felt like the walking dead most of Tuesday and Wednesday. Having found out about my grandma late Tuesday, I tossed and turned most of the night, not getting much sleep even though I was exhausted. Same goes for last night. I couldn't turn my brain off. I kept thinking about how in just 3 weeks we've gone from hopeful to about 6 months to live. That 6 months from now will be right around Christmas. That more than likely my holidays won't include her anymore. That my mom is going to be so devastated by her death. That the realization of that makes me feel so helpless. That I want to spend time with my grandma before I go back to work in a few weeks, but I'm afraid to. That I want to hug her and tell her how scared I am and that I don't want her to die, but knowing that would only burden her more. That today my baby cousin would have turned 15, but will forever stay 13 in the eternity of heaven.

A just let me talk and cry today. Somehow I don't think that will be the last time that will happen.

Happy birthday, little butterfly.

I've Had Better Days

Yesterday could have gone better...

Got to the hospital around 8 and was wheeled in around 9. It's weird to think that because I had conscious sedation I was technically awake but just wouldn't remember anything. And that's true, it was like I had a nap I didn't remember taking. Weird. They took 3 biopsies from my stomach, which the doctor doesn't seem to be too worried about, but with the amount of cancer that runs in my family, I'm not blowing this off as easily as he is. I was discharged around 11 and came home to sleep off the anesthesia. Around 4 I started running a fever (100.2), but they said only call if it gets above 101. I felt crappy but the highest it got was 100.7. I ended up skipping my session last night with A to stay home and rest. I'm still a little tired this morning, but I am feeling much better.

My best friend took me yesterday because my mom needed to take my grandma to her post-radiation treatments appointment with her oncologist to find out if it worked, what the next step is, prognosis, etc. Bad news. The radiation did not work as well as they were hoping, which means that trying another round will not be successful. Apparently the first round of radiation is the largest concentration they can give you and if it doesn't work, lower doses won't do a thing. Not only that, in addition to being in her liver and brain, the cancer has now spread to her lymph nodes, stomach and spleen. She wants to try chemotherapy to slow down the progression of this cancer, so she will start that sometime next week. My mom pulled the doctor aside while my grandma went to have some blood drawn and asked him for a time frame. Best case scenario, if the chemotherapy helps, is about 6 months. Obviously if she doesn't respond to the chemo or if it makes her too sick and she stops, it will be much less.

I freaking hate cancer.

You Can't Change Time

My session Thursday with A went well. After going over the previous comparisons of what life is like with/without cutting, we then discussed what the reality of the situation was (i.e. what I have control over changing). I again was surprised by this assignment because I found out that there is a lot more I am in control of than I thought. That was very encouraging for me to come up with so many things that I have control over and the possibility to change. The hardest thing for me is to control my thoughts. I am so used to tearing myself down and thinking negatively about myself that it is hard for me to believe that I am really capable of doing anything. Deep down I know that's not true, but when I'm face to face with something as emotionally charged as my self-injury, all I can do is think I'm too weak to change it.

We got on the subject of time, as I mentioned I realized that by drawing out this addictive behavior, all I'm doing is taking time away from myself which is highly motivating for me to change. One of the hardest things for me to cope with is getting older. I hate it. I haven't enjoyed a birthday since I was 16. The idea of getting older means to me that I am just one step further away from being able to have what I want. One year older to me means a lower chance of ever finding a husband. I mean, who wants to be in a relationship with a 26 year old that has never had a boyfriend? The bigger that number gets, the smaller my chances get. So while time is a motivating factor to help me stop cutting, it is extremely detrimental in my thinking in just about every other aspect of my life. In the 18 months I have been seeing A, that is the one thought that has made no improvement. Not even a little bit. I have changed so much in so many other areas, but I just cannot seem to change my thoughts on this. Argue till you are blue in the face and I still can't seem to change. A was quick to point out that I have honed in on one of the only things where I truly have no control and never will. I tend to do that in most areas of my life, that is, focus on the one or two things that I have the least control over and obsess on what I can do to change them. This time I picked a doozy. One that I will never be able to have any influence on no matter how hard I try. You can't change time.

In other news, I'll be heading back to the hospital on Tuesday to have a procedure done to figure out what exactly is complicating my recovery from gallbladder surgery. The pain I was having prior to surgery is still happening, but has become much more frequent since then and more painful. Hopefully they can figure out what the problem is and fix it. I had an "attack" Wednesday when I was driving and had to pull over and wait it out because I could barely concentrate on driving. Your prayers are appreciated for a successful procedure and some answers to get me on the road to healing!

Moving Forward

Man I slept horribly last night. Finally fell asleep at 3, then I was wide awake at 6:30. Decided that I should actually be productive today, so I headed to the gym. It's now about 10:15 and I have worked out, showered, scheduled a hair appointment, cleaned the apartment, started laundry, flipped my mattress, changed the sheets, cleaned out the litter box and took out the trash! Yay for getting stuff done! Of course now I'm exhausted and want nothing more than to go take a nap, but I know if I do I'm just going to continue messing with my internal clock. I head back to work in less than a month now and weaning myself off staying up til 3AM has to start somewhere!

My session last night with A went really well. My homework was to make a list of two things: what my life with cutting involves and what my life without cutting involves. I sat down and really put a lot of thought into this assignment, because I think it is really important for me to understand just what I'm getting out of it as opposed to what I can gain on the other side of the "line". It is now apparent to me just how many negative things I am adding to my burden for the benefit of one thing that makes me feel better fast. It was shocking to me to see my list and realize that. The second list was much shorter as I have had little experience in my "post-cutting" life to really fully understand what all is being affected. There are many more positive things on this side, but they can only be accomplished with very hard (emotional) work.

We talked a little bit about this and then discussed the situation. While I am not cutting now because of the boundary that is currently in place, that doesn't mean that I have made the decision to quit. I have that option. I can keep cutting, but at a high cost that I am not willing to pay. That being said, I still haven't fully embraced that I am going to stop. At first I didn't even take it into consideration because my instant plan was to try and change A's mind and get her to back off. Now that I realize that isn't going to happen, I'm left with two choices. Continue or quit.

But it's not so black and white. Everything I have done successfully in my life that has been hard (losing weight, choosing to start counseling, etc) was a result of MY desire and choice to change, influenced by no one else. This is much different. Even though I know I have a choice, I feel I don't. I feel like I won't be successful because my heart is just not in it. I haven't made the choice yet.

That being said, I'm getting much closer to being ready. I realized this weekend that all I'm doing with this is taking time away from myself. I can fix this and move onto actually processing through things emotionally and on a deeper level because I won't have cutting as a replacement. The sooner I make the choice to tackle this, the sooner I can grow in other areas of my life. The closer I will be to my goal of being able to be in a relationship without being in constant fear. The goal to be married and have kids. Cutting is just holding me back from what I want.

And I'm almost ready to leave it behind.

Things Don't Always Work Out The First Time

One of the biggest hurdles in "regular" life for me is finding doctors, dentists, etc. I won't see male doctors if there is anything I can do about it. The exception for that is my orthodontist. But I digress, his hands only touch my mouth so there is no fear with him. As for everyone else who has a hand in treating me that has to touch me anywhere else, they are all female. But even with that statement, there is much more to the decision process for me than just being female. I go through a painstaking process of reviewing the state medical board information to find only people of certain races and ages. (I have an irrational fear of Indian doctors which I think stems from some less than stellar run ins as a child involving their bedside manner) I then search online to see if I can find their medical website and a picture. I have rarely walked into an office blind, and the couple times I did, were disastrous. There is so much (irrational) fear associated with that that if I can't find a picture, I don't even consider them. I have spent most of my post-abused life learning to read people for dangerous signs, personality traits, actions, etc. A picture for me is a way to offer myself that opportunity to read that doctor.

From there I take the next step to check insurance, maybe see if I can find someone who uses the same doctor and can give me a good/bad report and take the plunge. This process has worked wonders for me in building trust with my doctors. That being said, the process puts me at a disadvantage. I have been lucky with my family doctor and my surgeon. Those fields are highly saturated with men which leaves me with a small percentage that will fully meet my criteria. Thankfully, it worked out in my favor.

Recently I have been grappling with this process, as my next step that God has put in front of me is to start seeing a psychiatrist. Something I tried once (and went in blind, having seen no picture, found no info) with a horrible outcome. I left feeling more minimized and vulnerable than when I had come in. I never went back and swore off the idea of ever going to anyone again.

But as I wrote in my previous post, my answer to a prayer to God came to me one morning. My psychiatrist that I saw when I was a teenager, I think 13-16ish. I had completely forgotten about her. I really liked her and was very comfortable talking with her. She actually listened to me. I looked her up and was ecstatic to see she was still in practice, although very far away. At that point, I'd drive however long to go to someone who already knew my history and was someone I could trust. Not only that, I checked with my insurance company and she was in network! Hallelujah! I called the number and left a message with her manager. I felt really good about this. Like I had heard God and done what he called upon me to do.

I was crushed when I got a call back and started trying to set up an appointment. There was a mistake with the insurance company and they had left her name on the list accidentally. She had terminated her contract with them when she downsized her practice and moved. She still saw patients, but on a much smaller basis as she was also currently the medical director for an in-patient/out-patient treatment center. I could see her, but it was going to cost me $300 for the first consultation and $225 each time after that. That was just too much for me to get on board with.

All of this happened Friday morning and I sat in my office so confused. Why would God give me this answer then put this roadblock up almost immediately? My first instinct was to quit, forget it. It's too hard. But something in me felt as though this really was what I needed. I accessed my insurance information and got a list of providers. I was willing to drive just about anywhere in the area if I could find someone who fit my parameters. 166 is the number I started with. 130 were male. 20 of the 36 females were Indian. 7 of the 16 females were over the age of 60. That left me with 9 prospects.

I did my homework and for various reasons (only pediatric or geriatric psychiatry, working only in hospital wards, etc) I was down to 2 people. It wasn't looking good. I typed in the first name, got almost no extra information, no website or a picture. The drive was a good hour, hour and 20 minutes (without traffic) from my city, too. Feeling as though my search was futile and a waste of time, I typed in the last name left.

I was definitely surprised when I found that she had a website (apparently it's not a common practice among psychiatrists). I browsed it, reading about her background, her practice, what she treats, etc. No picture there, but some very thorough Google searching and I was able to find a page on the children's hospital site that had her picture and matched her credentials listed on her website. The smiling face met mine with instant approval. You can just tell with some people. They're kind. They're compassionate. She met my standards 100%.

I put a call into her office (which is still a good 45 minute/hour drive from me) and left a message, hoping beyond all hopes that the secretary would call me back before the end of the work day. By then it was already 1:30 PM and with it being Friday I did not want to have to wait all weekend for more information.

Imagine my surprise when I got a call from her office, picked up the phone and it was actually her, not office staff. I almost didn't know what to say. I've never had a doctor actually call me on the phone. We talked for almost 10 minutes, me giving her the basic reason why I am coming in, her explaining her methods of treatment, fees, etc. Her cheery voice definitely put to rest any fears that I still had about the process. I hung up the phone and gave a little chuckle. Quite the test of strength and will God has put in front of me. I really do believe that this is going to be a good thing. That this is going to help me continue down the road I want to be on. That it is going to help me to heal. And not only that, I think I'm actually going to be strong enough this time to do what I wasn't able to do before.

The Next Step

My threshold for anxiety has been much lower lately. The slightest thing sends my heart racing, pushes me toward hyperventilation. It is a stark reminder of the constant anxiety and panic I lived in not too long ago. I don't ever want to go back to that again.

While sitting in the waiting room today waiting for my 2nd session with A, I had convinced myself that I had crossed some sort of line with her on Tuesday and there was going to be another punishment handed out. Add to the fact that she was 15 minutes behind and I had all but convinced myself that was a sign and she was going to drop me as a patient.

I really am my own worst enemy sometimes...

Of course I was overreacting and actually had a very good session. I apologized to her about my behavior earlier in the week. That normally is not me, but as I tried to explain to her, this situation is making me feel extremely vulnerable and apparently I get a little snarky when I feel that way.

Something has been oddly settling for me knowing that this boundary cannot be compromised and that I no longer have to constantly be thinking of a way to outsmart her and get my own way. It's freeing, really. What I have to decide now is which path I am going to take. This is one of the very few times where something is black or white. Ironic, seeing as a lot of my work with A is trying to learn to see the gray in life!

This past weekend when I was feeling so depressed, I collapsed into bed in tears, and began praying. Please, God, give me the strength to keep going. Give me the strength to do whatever it is I need to do to feel better. Help me to see the path that you have paved for me and the steps I need to take to stay on it. Help me to be open to whatever change comes my way.

The next morning I woke up and had my answer. My next step. Just like that. And it was definitely a step that I had avoided in the past and was hesitant to embrace at first. And there have already been bumps in trying to take this step. I should find out for sure tomorrow what the final outcome is on even being able to take this step.

I can't pray enough that this works out in my favor.

Epic Fail


I am not used to not getting my way. I'm used to arguing my point and "winning". Seldom do I feel motivated enough to argue about something if I don't feel that I am right. So I'm not used to losing because I am level headed enough to know when to put up a fight and when to let it go and concede the point.

It really wasn't my intention to approach this topic again with A tonight, but it came up in a question I posed in a journal writing and we ventured down this road.

What if I can't be perfect? (in reference to the cutting)

I never got a solid answer from her. She doesn't view the situation as "you have to be perfect or else", she views it as "you have a choice to do whatever you want to do."

Which as it did before, pissed me off. Of course I have a choice, I always have a choice. But in this instance, the decisions are not being decided by my desires to change, but rather perpetrated by her actions/rules/boundaries. I can comply because I don't want the consequence, but still not benefit from the goal. That has been my argument from day one. And I do believe that, but I think I believe it so much because I convinced myself that it was a good enough argument to convince A to back down from this boundary. To give me permission to go back to cutting myself. I won't lie and say that my hope was that I could be smart enough to convince her to back down one day. To challenge the situation with this argument and win.

I saw my opportunity tonight and I lost. And she called me on it.

I felt like a child again. Arguing my point with a brick wall. Hoping that if I keep pushing, it'll fall.

Apparently A is made of freaking Acme bricks.

And as much as I hate to say it, she's right for sticking to her guns.

Guns that beat my ego to death tonight, but probably exactly what I needed.


I'm walking on eggshells. Afraid to feel anything too happy, because the rug will just be yanked out from under me again. It hurts less if you don't fall from so high.

Seeds of doubt are forming. What if my life will always be like this? You're up, thinking you'll stay up, finally start forming a life, then CRASH. No hope, no light. Just overwhelming depression. Anxiety returns. No desire to see friends. Just stay locked in my house, my room, my bed.

Then I start thinking about what I want in life. Marriage, kids, peace. Then I start thinking about my age. Sure I'm still in my mid 20's now, but that soon is going to change to mid to upper 20's. If I can't get myself on track soon, I'm going to run out of time. I'm going to end up alone. No one will want me. Then the anxiety peaks and I feel even more hopeless than before.

Soon those eggshells will turn to glass and it will be nothing but pain.

Lost in the Dark

I am so lost. Lost within the darkness of my mind.

Why am I feeling like this again? Why am I not getting better?

Every second that passes takes another ounce of hope. I don't know how much longer I can keep trying to find the light, just to be thrown even further into the dark.

I'm praying. Gosh, I am praying so much but I feel so alone. Why is He leaving me in this place of such pain?

I don't want to keep living like this. It is just too hard.

No One Else Knows

Funny how a song you listen to all the time suddenly becomes something much more. Like the lyrics were written just for you. On my way to my 2nd session today, I hooked up my iPhone and chose the shuffle feature. Out of almost 800 songs, this is the one that was first.

Building 429 - No One Else Knows

My world is closing in
On the inside
But I’m not showing it
When all I am is crying out
I hold it in and fake a smile
Still I’m broken
I’m broken
Only one can understand
And only one can hold the hand
Of the broken
Of the broken

When no one else knows how I feel
Your love for me is proven real
When no one else cares where I’ve been
You run to me with outstretched hands
And You hold me in your arms

I need no explanation of why me
I just need confirmation
Only You could understand the
emptiness inside my head
I am falling
I am falling
I’m falling down upon my knees
To find the one who gives me peace
I am flying
Lord I am flying

When no one else knows how I feel
Your love for me is proven real
When no one else cares where I’ve been
You run to me with outstretched hands
And You hold me in Your arms

I have come to you in search of faith
Cause I can’t see beyond this place
Oh You are God and I am man
So I’ll leave it in Your hands

When no one else knows how I feel
Your love for me is proven real
When no one else cares where I've been
You run to me with outstretched hands

When no one else knows how I feel
Your love for me is proven real
When no one else cares where I've been
You run to me with outstretched hands
And You hold me in Your arms,
Ohh You hold me in Your arms,
I know that You'll hold me in Your arms

My heart longs for what it will probably never have. Cutting has filled that void for me.

But as A reminded me today, that's where God can step in. I just have to make the choice to let Him in.



Why is it that at the age of 7 years old I turned to harming myself as an outlet for whatever I was feeling at the time? I had suffered nothing traumatic (yet). I lived in a wonderful neighborhood, was very involved in sports/activities, had lots of friends, a great family, did great in school, etc. Everything you expect to be able to give your children, I had. And yet, something inside of me at this age had me turn my feelings into physical punishment.

After my parents divorced and I was abused, I had more feelings than I knew what to do with. Unfortunately, my parents didn't know what to do with them either, so I ended up doing what I learned to do at a young age. I took it out on my body. I would go to my room at night and lie in bed for hours pulling out my own hair. Every night. I have vague memories of beating myself with my fists while sitting on the bathroom floor. The only time I ever felt "safe" with my own feelings was when I was locked in the bathroom with the shower on.

It was really hard to hide the aesthetic aspects of the hair pulling, so my mom attempted to "fix" the situation by making me take medication. I can't really say that it helped all that much. The only thing I learned was how to hide it better.

I was lucky (is that the right word?) to be so far in denial during college that I had a reprieve from any desire to self-harm. I still would pull out my hair, but it was more an obsessive action (evening out eyebrows/eyelashes every night) rather than a soothing mechanism. If I'd get really stressed, then I'd revert back to my nightly sessions, but they'd only last for 5 minutes or so. Much improved.

So to be honest, I was kind of surprised when that desire came back about 15 months ago. I had just started working with A, but was getting a loose grip on my anxiety and panic attacks. I was dancing around verbalizing my abuse for the first time ever. I remember sitting on the floor in my bathroom (a habit that I cannot seem to break), listening to the shower and crying. I was so overwhelmed with my life that I just couldn't internalize any more emotions. I started pounding on myself with my fists. The pain was too widespread, just like the emotional pain I was used to feeling.

I started thinking. What else can I do to get my mind off of that? I need a pain that is more precise. More concentrated. I had heard of cutting before. Mainly on TV and through comments/conversations others had, most of the time making fun of it as an "emo" activity. I didn't care. Whatever worked at that point. I started off using my cuticle scissors just to scratch myself. I had to get an idea as to the pain I would inflict, the proof of the actions and just how far I had to go to get relief. I don't remember when I switched to razor blades, but it wasn't long after. I didn't even know I had them till the scissors no longer did the trick. Something in my brain honed in on the toolbox I keep in the closet and the fact that part of the kit I got had an exacto-knife like contraption. There had to be razors in there too, right?! Jackpot.

The boldness of my own step really helped in keeping the frequency down. I'd venture to say that I cut only once a month, maybe more if there was something extremely triggering for me at the time. There was a time last year where I went almost 4 months without cutting. Things were going well with A and I was on anti-anxiety meds.

Then I opened my big fat mouth. I remember accidentally saying something towards the end of last summer. Part of me was worried. I didn't want anyone to know because I knew they wouldn't understand. Especially A. Her job is to make sure I am using healthy ways to grow. I knew cutting was wrong and detrimental to my healing, but I just didn't care.

The subject would come up from time to time, sometimes initiated by me because I felt I could trust A, sometimes by her to try and get more information. But I was so closed off to an in-depth conversation about it that I always squashed any attempt to delve further into it. I just wasn't ready yet.

So sufficed to say that I was horrified/enraged/crushed when I had a setback in May with my PTSD and I cut myself after signing a contract A presented in an emergency session saying that I wouldn't. In all honesty, I didn't take it seriously. I signed it because my alternative was to go to the hospital... but I didn't feel that I was bound to abide by it. Big mistake on my part.

My world has been hanging on by a thread since then, with the reality that A has presented me. Cutting again will say to her that her ability to treat me is not enough to meet my needs and that I need more intensive therapy. Something that she unfortunately cannot provide me. Which means that I will have to find someone else who can. In essence, start over. The mere thought of that invokes such anxiety and fear that the feeling alone has kept me from cutting since then.

But the desire is still there. I am constantly having to remind myself that if I slip, there is a consequence. And at this point, it's not a consequence that is worth the few minutes of control and power I will feel. But it is getting harder. Over the past couple of weeks I have had a harder time dealing with that compulsion. It is on my mind much more than it has been. And that scares me. I don't know how long I can keep abstaining before it just becomes too much.

So I told A today. I told her how much I'm still struggling with it. That just because I haven't cut because of her "ultimatum" doesn't mean that I don't want to, or won't in the future. I've got to figure out how to fix the compulsion. So for the next 7 weeks I will be seeing her 2x/week to start fighting this demon. This demon that has been a part of my life for close to 20 years.

Uphill battle, anyone?

Two Different People

My work this summer with A has been focused a lot on relationships. Good in the sense that it needs to be dealt with so I can finally be ready to be in one, bad because it is a very scary topic for me. Lots of things I've never discussed with anyone. Ever.

One of the things we have been discussing is how different I am at work than how I am in my personal life. I am literally two different people. The reason for that is obvious (to me at least). There is no threat of anything sexual happening to me at work. My company employs about 95% women. Work is safe for me. So with that understanding, I don't feel like I'm in danger. At work I am confident, assertive, outspoken, and driven. I don't let people take advantage of me. I make sure my opinions are heard.

But as soon as I walk out of the building, the world becomes a scary place again. One filled with men who want to take advantage of me and use me for sex. However black and white that statement is, I believe it is true. And my perception of this truth has kept me away from relationships of any kind. I can sit there and logically go through what I bring to a relationship, but to me, that doesn't matter because I feel like I will always be wanted for my body. I always read that in order to have a healthy relationship/marriage, a healthy sex life needs to be a part of that. For me, putting the words healthy and sex together is like putting oil and water together. They just don't mix.

So in my personal life, I have always had these huge insurmountable walls up to keep me from getting hurt. Having to put those walls up makes me awkward, scared and generally unapproachable with guys. I'm sure my body language just screams "STAY AWAY!". I never have the feeling of confidence, assertiveness or anything similar to what I feel when I am at work. It's always fear. It's always that voice in my head telling me "He's not really interested in talking to you or spending time with you, he just wants to sleep with you."

I told A I felt like the person I am at work is the person I would have been in every aspect of my life if M (my abuser) had never been in it. She looked at me and asked "Why are you letting M still have this power over you?"

To which I have no answer. Not yet, at least.