Walls

Walls

Today I drew this picture in creative therapy, in which I am  standing at a wall. With wide spread arms I try to hold the wall in place. I am afraid to let go, because the  wall will crush me if it breaks down.

The wall, that are the many small and big things life put in my way.

Therapist: How did you get there? Did somebody tell you to do so, or did you go there because you wanted to?

Me: Life put me there! I didn’t go there because I wanted to.

Therapist: *smirks* That’s good to hear!

Nontheless turning around and leaving the wall is difficult. If it’s not my task to hold the wall in place, what else should I be doing?

The demon self-hatred

The demon self-hatred

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While I am accompanied by many demons when I am outside, there is only one of them with me when I am inside. But this is the worst one: Self-hatred.

He is very persistent, and he knows how he can torture me the best. He follows me around all day long, and often at night as well.

Today in therapy we tried visualisation. I was told to imagine the demon in my head and to talk to him. I realized that there are things I like I like about this demon as well. He is absolutely reliable, he doesn’t change his rules. But I also think he judges me to harshly. My life wasn’t always like this, and I was able to keep up with the “normal world” for nearly four decades, despite my psychological and physical issues.

I was told to push the demon away from me, and at the end of the session he wasn’t black anymore, rather grey.

That doesn’t change the fact that I still suffer from this demon. But maybe I have a say in some things!

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Honesty is the best policy

Honesty is the best policy

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One of the most important things I learned in therapy is being honest. To myself, and to others.

To make life easier for others and for me I often used white lies. When somebody said things like “What about doing xxx sometimes”, my answer would be “yes “.

Sometimes I would get away with it, sometimes not. And then things would become ugly. „You said, you would go with us?!“ Disappointment and a bad atmosphere would follow those discussions. Not to forget the bad feeling I had from the first discussion until this moment.

Honesty does not prevent me from diappointment or a bad mood, but the atmosphere stays clear. But honesty shows I am taking the other – and myself – seriously.

This week was an example how I have changed, and I was a little bit proud how I handled things. On Christmas the In-Laws suggested we have a good time together instead of buying presents. I pointed out immedeately that I don’t plan so far ahead in my present condition, and that there is the possibility I can’t join them. When things got real this week I made it clear from the beginning I won’t go.

My MIL is a little pissed at me, she likes family time. I can live with this.

My husband understands my reasons, but he is sad I don’t go with them. That’s awful. But I am the only one responsible for my mental health. And if I am stressed and overstrained, no one is happy.

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Therapy Options

Therapy Options

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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.

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Dealing with my inner demons

Dealing with my inner demons

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When I met with my DB therapist, I told him how much I am struggling at the moment, and how hard it was for me not to resort to self harm in the last weeks.

“It’s like a devil is sitting on my shoulder, saying negative things all the time. I can’t overhear or silence this voice”, I said.

“Well, this didn’t keep you from doing the right things”, my therapist said and told me about buddhism. According to buddhism, every human has to fight demons, but the only way to get rid of them is to give them a piece of oneself – to feed them, so to speak.

“So the devil is satisfied and the human can live in peace?” I asked.

“For now. Every human has to face many demons in life”, my therapist replied.

“Ha! There are so many demons around me that they have to queue up behind me!” I said. I had a picture in my head: I am walking along the street, and behind me are many, many demons in black frocks. The demons are inpatient and keep pushing each other: “Hey! It’s my turn!” – “No, I am next!” And the demon sitting on my right shoulder turns his head to them and hisses: “Can you keep quiet, please?!”

This made me chuckle, and for a short time everything was easier. Humor is and remains one of the best weapons against depression 🙂

My therapist told me to draw how I imagine walking with my demons, and the result can be seen above. It was fun!

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Occupational Therapy, Part 1

Occupational Therapy, Part 1

This is just my side of the story and no medical advice!

When I was discharged from the mental hospital this fall, OT was recommended to help me structure my day.

I have had OT before. At this time, I had problems concentrating at work. Every telephone ringing or collegue talking would disrupt my train of thought and I would have to start all over again. That made my work as an accountant extremly difficult.

In OT, I would be shown short film clips and had to answer questions after that, like, “How many cars were driving down the street?” Or we would play memory games, the  kind where cards lie on the table face down and you have to find the matching pairs. Once we created a mandala.

The therapist came to the conclusion everything was alright with my ability to concentrate. I disagreed with this assessment. During therapy I told her more than once that the quiet enviroment of the therapy sessions could in no way be compared to my hectic workplace. I didn’t develop any coping mechanisms, I was glad when it was over, I didn’t ask for a follow-up prescription and was angry about the co-payment.

Fast forward to the present. Same  therapist’s office, new therapist (living in the countryside means limited options. Also the therapist’s office must be accessible by public transportation). And a different starting point – coping with everyday life, not work.

This time we considered many therapy options during the preliminary meeting. The angel in the picture was suggested by my therapist. I had fun making it, and it is nice to have some tangible proof of my work. I like to cook and bake in my OT sessions, too, because this is so difficult for me to do on my own at home. My husband looks forward to me bringing home those goodies, and I am glad to see him happy. It is an upward spiral and I feel more motivated. This time, I will ask for a follow-up prescription, and I don’t mind the co-payment at all.

I just can guess why the first try turned out to be such an epic failure. Maybe my expectations were set too high, or maybe we did the wrong exercises.

My opinion is, OT can be a valuable tool because it offers many options. But it is important that the patient is very precise about the therapeutic goal at the beginning, and that adjustments are made if necessary.

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