Daily Archives: May 20, 2018

DIY Therapy: Return To Fort Blankie

My hormones are having their monthly pre-riot, causing my face to break out and my moods to flare up like a 14 year old’s. The cramps make my innards feel like they are being run through a paper shredder. I am accomplishing nothing yet feeling exhausted and drained, everything aches as if I ran a marathon. All of this could factor in to my current mental state being splat. It could be the newest med simply isn’t at a max dose so I am stalled here in gray space.

I think it’s a lot of both of those things, and I also think I’ve hit my reality overdose point. Dealing with my overly critical dad invading my home and insulting things, my kid having a friend over yesterday for 4 hours of bickering and demands for food I can’t afford to be sharing, reading about yet another school shooting, more political corruption, more hatred being spewed against anyone remotely different…

I’ve been trying very hard lately to see the beauty in the world, to not let the ugliness eclipse the good stuff, but today…the Susie Sunshine thing isn’t working.

I am on edge, in pain, feeling wiped out, and filled with self hatred for even indulging my own piss ant feelings when all of this horrid stuff is going on out there. How dare I speak up when I simply don’t matter! My problems are nothing in comparison to what’s happening in the world right now.

But we can each say that at any given time in our lives because, spewing sunshine or not, ugliness exists and sadly, there are times when it is prevalent. When it overshadows the vast beauty of life and can fill even the most apathetic with an inexplicable sadness and empathy towards those in the midst of the heinous goings on.

My heart goes out to the victims and families of EVERY school shooting. I am ashamed to be an American every time I read about the way ICE is tearing apart immigrant families not because they’ve incited crime or terrorism, but because they came to this country ‘the wrong way’. I cringe when inadvertently soaking up the current climate of hate against immigrants (legal or otherwise), Muslims, gays, trans people- It’s not right for people to harbor so much hatred against others for simply being different. The current political climate toward women and reproductive rights is under attack and it’s terrifying, as a woman.

As one born in 1973 (on the very day Roe V Wade made abortion legal) I grew up with mixed emotions on the topic. As if wondering, would my parents have aborted me due to non ideal financial timing for a child if it had been legal the year before? Over time, though, I began to see things differently. It’s a personal choice, and while not one I think I’d make myself, I’m appalled by how many politicians and so called do gooders want to jump into chime in on what isn’t their damned business and take away an individual’s rights to choose.

I consider myself fortunate for the years in which I was young and growing up and forming my own opinions. I’ve been so very lucky to watch social climate change, to witness people opening minds and hearts and embracing that which some consider ‘abnormal’ or ‘deviant’. Even with homophobic parents who were also a bit racist against all non whites…I valued whatever diversity I was exposed to. I learned about it, I asked those I knew about it, I embraced their battle as my own.

Never have I been more proud of my generation, and the turning tides of our great country than when I see a commercial with a celebrity like John Cena promoting the very diversity of the LGBT community. Or watching shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Station 19, Instinct- and seeing how well they handle such hot button topics as transgender people, bisexual people, lesbians, gays, even interractial couples. That for me has been a personal high, seeing what I have believed in and support all along become not some dirty little secret but to actually be included simply as part of our beautiful diverse culture. And that culture’s beauty hinges on us embracing not just fellow Americans or heterosexuals, or certain religions…

The truest test of our character, not just as Americans, but as the human race, is our ability to open our minds and hearts and realize we can cooexist without the hatred, without total agreement, but with absolute understanding and respect. We’re making progress and for that…I am proud to be part of the human race and to be an American.

Sorry to get off track, but the hormones are really yanking my emotions and train of thought all over the place. After all the ugliness, it felt good to latch onto something positive, something that doesn’t make me feel that we are all doomed to go down in history as hate mongering narrow minded idgets.

Having said all of this and purged…

I am prescribing a continuation of a long held DIY therapy method many of us here on wordpress have utilized for many years. Fort Blankie time. Take to your safe space, wrap up in your favorite blanket, and ride out whatever has you feeling so out of sorts and useless.It’s like comfort food for your entire body, minus calories. And it sounds nuts but I know damn well it has helped many of us many times. Maybe it goes back to that whole infant swaddling thing where we feel safest? IDK. But it works for me and I’m going to utilize it. Plus, I already own my blankets and have my safe room, so technically, this therapy is of no charge and doesn’t require prior authorization by some ass clown at the insurance company.

Today is going to be one of those mentally dark physically uncomfortable days for me, and rather than bellyache and fight it and get even more flustered…

I’m returning to Fort Blankie in hopes it will fortify my mind and soul, offer me comfort I need right now, and hey, tomorrow’s another day.

But today…my mind and soul mourn. For all the civility and lives that have been lost and disrupted and destroyed, not just my own.

Never underestimate Fort Blankie’s magical powers.

It won’t however, fetch you food and water, so you’re on your own with that necessity.

No therapy is perfect.

Bad Thoughts and Tattoos

Sometimes I have bad thoughts. We all do. I find that mine fall into three groups.

The first kind of bad thoughts are when I want to snap or snipe or snark at my husband, despite the fact that he is indispensable to me. He takes care of me, understands me, helps me, hugs me, feeds me in ways I can’t begin to describe.

When those bad thoughts arise, I have a brief internal chat with myself. (It looks like I’m thinking what to say because that’s exactly what I’m doing.) Then I choose not to say the nasty thing or I think of a less-nasty way of saying it. (I’ve written about the phenomenon before in “Managing My Anger” https://wp.me/p4e9Hv-kw.)

The skills involved are impulse control, the use of “I statements,” and the ability to rephrase. I try to say something that will get my point across without hurting or making things worse. These are techniques I have learned over the years, which makes me think they are things that can be developed with a little practice.

Learning to restrain myself has prevented many a fight. Some people find this style of communication inauthentic or wishy-washy – that I am tiptoeing around my husband instead of saying what I really think. All I can say to that is that it works for me and for our marriage.

The next kind of bad thought is the kind that comes with depression: I’m useless. I’m pathetic. I can’t do anything right. I’m worthless. Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) talks about these thoughts in her book Furiously Happy, and she has one thing to say about them: Depression lies. These are the thoughts of a biochemically influenced brain that makes you miserable and sometimes wants to kill you, or at least kill your possibility of happiness.

Fortunately, my husband has read Jenny Lawson too. When I express these bad self-thoughts – and it’s best if you have a safe person to tell them to – he reminds me. He doesn’t try to deny the thoughts (You know you’re not worthless. You do lots of things right). He tells me, “That’s depression lying to you.” I used to get stuck in these cycles a lot before I was properly medicated and before I had his help and that of my therapist.

Then there are the really bad thoughts, those of self-harm or worse. Most of the time I don’t have these anymore, but when I do, there is one thing I can do. (Actually, there are more things I can do, but this is one that works for me.) I look at my tattoos.

The one on the right wrist is a symbol for bipolar disorder made up of punctuation : ) :  in the form of a smiley face/frowny face. This reminds me that my brain isn’t working right and is sometimes out to get me.

The other is on my left wrist, near my scars from self-harm. It is a semicolon. You may have heard about the Semicolon Project or seen the semicolon symbol on t-shirts or jewelry.

The semicolon is my favorite punctuation mark. It comes at the place in a sentence where a writer could choose to put a period and stop; instead, she continues the sentence. The semicolon says, “My story isn’t over,” something you’ll also see on t-shirts and such. (I’m thinking of making that sentence my third tattoo.)

Recently I had a bout of those really bad thoughts. But I looked at my tattoos and told myself, “My story isn’t over yet. I still have things I need to do.” One of them is to tell my story, in this blog and in a book I’m trying to write.

My tattoos helped me get over the bad thoughts. They have paid for themselves many times over. I never regret getting them. They may have saved my life.