The demon perfectionism

The demon perfectionism

Aside from the demon self-hatred, the demon called perfectionism bothers me the most.

An example is the picture above, I finished it today in OT-group. Most of the group members like it, I only see many little flaws and hate it.

The picture will go to another participant of the group, I wouldn’t have taken it home, I would have thrown it away immedeately.

I have been working on my perfectionism issues for quite a long time, but this demon is really hard to beat.

Silk painting

Silk painting

Well, I may not be the greatest silk painting artist, but I am fascinated by circles. We will see how it looks when it is finished. It is a pillow, 40×40 cm.

What I noticed recently: In our OT group are three people that suffered from cancer at a relatively young age. We are talking about brain tumor, cancer of the small intestine and my melanoma.

It is understandable that suffering from cancer is something difficult to cope with. But we all agree on the fact that there is very little support for middle-aged cancer survivors. Depression or anxiety that may follow cancer can be treated, of course. But this is where it stops.

Things may get very difficult where work is concerned. The employment center scratches its head and offers Job Application Training. I had to go through this myself and now what I am talking about. Those who can’t go on with their work like before, but are too “fit” to file for disability, are affected worst.

But this is just more point in which I want our society to be more compassionate and understanding. Everyone can become an cancer patient one day.

When one thing leads to another

When one thing leads to another

This is what I am currently working on in our group OT-sessions. The outlines of the flowers where already printed on the canvas, but it is a lot of fine work and takes a lot of concentration. It also takes longer than I thought.

My single OT sessions will come to an end in the next weeks. So it’s a good thing that our therapist had some training last week, and wants to start  relaxation group therapy. Her goal is to provide her clients with exercises they can use in their everyday life.

That’s exactly my problem. During my therapies I was taught lots of good exercises, but most of them couldn’t be done in public in stressful situations. So this could really help me. We will see if enough clients want to come, so a group can be formed.

Anyway, it is a good thing when something new comes my way.

Where OT can help me – and where not

Where OT can help me – and where not

preview-5.jpg

After getting this GDPR thing out of the way, I can finally blog again 😉

More than thirty sessions of OT are behind me, single and in group. The single sessions are limited to forty, after that the therapy can only be continued after a special evaluation by the health insurance. Group therapy can continue for a longer time.

 

Where OT helps me:

  • It brings structure in my life. I take this appointments seriously, just don’t feeling like it is no reason to cancel. I only cancelled once, when I couldn’t wear my hearing aid.
  • Now and then it’s a good thing to meet people for other reasons that doing the groceries. And my therapist is great, she made me realize so many things – OT compliments my DBT wonderfully. And I met very nice people in group.
  • It’s nice to craft something. I may never be ready with my chores, but in OT I create something. Even if I don’t like it in the end.

Where OT can’t help me:

  • It didn’t make my depression better in the long term. But it makes me feel better at least for a few hours.
  • I can’t take the elan from the sessions into my everyday life. It tires me out too much.

This list is of course just my personal opinion. But the positive effects can’t be denied. But I take what I can get.

signature-205890894.png

Occupational Therapy, Part 5

Occupational Therapy, Part 5

preview-7.jpg

Today was my 31st single OT session. My therapist suggested to try something creative again after all the cooking, and we agreed on silk painting a pillowcase.

She would have liked if I tried something “freestyle”, but I didn’t like that idea. I make my own templates (the pencil drawings on the silk on the picture above), but I don’t want to draw without a plan. I tried my whole life to stay within lines, I just can’t let got of that 🙂

She advised me not to use a drawing compass for the circles, because it could cause holes in the fabric. Of course I did use a drawing compass, and it didn’t tear the fabric. I like to use what I am used to, and the risk was small.

Until now I took nothing home from my OT sessions (the food of course, but nothing creative). I told her that I am decuttering in the moment and I won’t keep anything I don’t like. We agreed that my pillow will stay in the OT office as a test object, in case it doesn’t please me. It won’t get just thrown away.

I will give my best to create a pretty pillowcase. But if the result doesn’t appeal to me, I won’t burden myself with it. For now, there is a two weeks’ break, because my therapist is on holiday.

See also
Occupational Therapy, Part 4
Occupational Therapy, Part 3
Occupational Therapy, Part 2
Occupational Therapy, Part 1

signature-634593351.png

 

Occupational Therapy, Part 4

Occupational Therapy, Part 4

preview-5.jpg

We finally finished our picture in group OT. We worked on it for the last 12 sessions. Not always everybody was there, but three to five people worked on it every time. As I mentioned here, things not always went smooth, but we did it.

Today we were suprised how many details can be found in the picture. The intern compared it to a hidden objects game, where many little things can be seen. The sky was made by using a sponge, there is real sand in the seabed, the ship has felt sails, and the chest is made from real wood.

The office manager liked the picture so much that she wants to put it in the waiting room, for everyone to see. It’s quite big, about 1,20m to 1,00 m.

Well, we were very relieved this afternoon. The next sessions will be spent with everybody working on her/his own project 😀.

See also
Occupational Therapy, Part 3
Occupational Therapy, Part 2
Occupational Therapy, Part 1
Occupational group therapy

signature-634593351.png

Learning from the past, Part 3

Learning from the past, Part 3

preview-131718957115.jpg

So I decided to open up about my feelings in OT-Group this afternoon . That I had spoken with my therapist last week – who also leads the group – turned out to be a wise decision. She really had my back today. When one of the participants refused to talk about this, she said it is my right to discuss it.

Of course I was told the most important thing is that I actually say no. And it’s true.

Somebody else took over my task in our joint project. That was a big relief, I just started working on this detail because I felt nobody else wanted it.

It was a very bittersweet experience. I am capable of saying no, but I should have started earlier *insert heavy sigh here*. I am not able to feel proud of myself yet. But I treated myself to a orange-strawberry-banana-smoothie, see above. It tasted good.

There’s no way I will get this feeling out of my head today. But tomorrow I will start a new chapter in my life.

signature-205890894.png

 

Learning from the past, Part 2

Learning from the past, Part 2

preview-10-1081440700.jpg

What happened in group yesterday, continued to bother me today. So in my OT single session this afternoon, I didn’t only make lentil soup, I also talked about it with my therapist (who is also leading the group). She confirmed that I worked on the things nobody else wanted or stopped working on, and remembered that I had been sometimes told to do so. So I know my feeling was correct, which is a big relief.

Where I should go from here, is another difficult question.

# 1: I quit going to the OT group sessions and change the rest of the group sessions into single sessions. This may be the cowards way out – it will not have any consequences for me, but maybe I forego a chance to practise how to handle such situations in the future. The therapist asked: “What do you think the group will be like without you?”
My answer: “Well, they would whine a bit about it and then go on.”
She had to admit I was probably right.

# 2: I continue to go to group as nothing had happened. But I am afraid that this could escalate towards a meltdown, in which the canvas we are working on or me could suffer some damage. I think other people are safe, but when a meltdown happens, I can only watch myself raging, I don’t have any control. I told my therapist that avoiding this is my top priority.

# 3: I continue to go to group and speak about my feelings. How the others will react to this, and what will happen next, my therapist couldn’t predict. In any case, my therapist says I am allowed to get up and leave any time. I can also skip group – once, or until this joint project is done.

I haven’t decided what I will do about this. I will try not to think this about this over Easter, and make up my mind Monday or Tuesday. It’s a good thing that this problem doesn’t concern my safe haven, my home.

But I think the trust I had in the people of the group is lost. I have to learn to pay more attention and to protect myself better.

signature-205890894.png

Learning from the past…

Learning from the past…

preview-7512084064.jpg

… can be difficult. I have no clue why some of my behaviour patterns are so persistent.

If somebody whines about how much things still need to be done, or that he/she doesn’t know how to do something, one thing happens for sure: I offer my help, it doesn’t matter if I have things to do myself.

Group therapy reflects the real life, so it happened again while we were working on a joint project.

# 1: We are working on the seabed (our joint project is a seascape). Nobody knows how to get the paste that resembles the sand on the canvas. A. is stirring everything together, B. stands next to her and talks, and I help transforming the white paste into a sandy yellow. A. finishes the stirring, gives the bowl to me and says: “You put it on the canvas! I don’t know how to do it.”
It doesn’t count that I never did this before, either. I somehow feel responsible and go ahead, feeling very stressed because I don’t want to ruin everything.

# 2: C. suggests to place a wooden treasure chest on the seabed of the painting. He starts making it, draws the outlines on wood and saws out the straight lines. When it comes to the difficult curves, he says he has enough and stops working on it.
I feel obligated to take over, and I have to say sawing the curved lines wasn’t that complicated. But I lose track of my former work.

# 3, today: C. remarks that he has so much to do, the sky, the waves and what not. Before I can reply, the therapist steps in and says, that it was his choice to work on so many details. If it is too much, the group will decide who has time to spare and can help him.

This time I was lucky. But I noticed there is a method to the madness. And that it always has been this way, be it work, family or friends. Well, my therapist says: “Things can change, even if they have remained the same for a long time!”

But changing this is so hard. What will happen if I admit that I can’t do everything? Will I still be loved, or will everybody turn away from me in disgust? My inner child is lying sobbing on the floor right know. And I am watching helplessly and don’t know how to console it…

signature-205890894.png

Therapy Options

Therapy Options

preview-1345062225.jpg

The last few weeks were very difficult and dark, so I am thinking about other therapy options. Sometimes waiting until the bad times are over is the best thing to do, but when the soul does not stop hurting, other options has to be considered.

Right now, I have talk therapy (DBT) every two weeks. And I have occupational therapy sessions twice a week (single and group). Last not least: Medication – three psychotropic meds every day, and one as needed. But I don’t feel like: Hey, life is good. Feeling overwhelmed, withdrawing from the world and self-hatred are the rule. And my body acts up, too: The pain in my back is worse, and my unsteady gait causes more problems – I fell yesterday evening and today at noon.

Talk therapy will end in a few weeks, we maxed out the what is covered by the health insurance. We started in fall 2015, and I dare say not one of the appointments was wasted. My therapist is brilliant, the therapy really good. When I am still feeling awful it is not because the therapy is bad, it is because of my many, many issues. Maybe my pain doctor is right, she suspects there are some deep buried problems I am so afraid of that I didn’t get them out in the open yet.

So what can I do?

The local hospital offers inpatient and outpatient (day clinic) treatment. My last inpatient stay was October 2017, and somehow everything I learned in therapy was gone when I came home, and I promptly fell into the next hole. I haven’t tried outpatient therapy yet. This would mean I would be home every evening. It would also mean the double burden of handling intense therapy and chores for weeks.

Another inpatient therapy would mean another painful seperation from my pack. I am not sure if it would really help me after the last failure. It seems as if my mental illness became immune to the treatment plan of this hospital and laughs all of us in the face.

My pain doctor recommends an inpatient stay in a hospital specialised on psychosomatic symptoms. This hospital is located in Cologne, too far away for outpatient therapy in a day clinic, but near enough that I could go home for the weekends. What I don’t like about it (except for leaving my pack) is the long duration of this kind of treatment – eight to twelve weeks. And of course there is no guarantee it will work.

My general concern is if I am strong enough for a out/inpatient therapy. I know therapy requires a lot of work.

And there is this voice in my head, saying: “It’s too late, you are a lost cause!” Everybody tells me this voice is wrong, but it can be very convincing!

Sometimes it sucks to be me. One part of me is grown up and tells me to make up my mind (because there are waiting times), and then make the most of it, whatever I chose. The other part sits huddled in a corner, covers her ears with her hands, squeezes her eyes tightly shut and hopes for the storm to pass.

signature-205890894.png