First of all I want to thank everyone for your support and compassion when it comes to my last post. I was, as the title suggests, extremely discouraged and depressed. I still am battling depression hugely, but there have been little glimmers of hope for me since I wrote that.
That post, as some wise owls also remarked in the comments section, was an example of pretty screwed up, negative, unhelpful thinking.
By saying things like “I will NEVER…” I totally deny myself any chances of that thing happening, before I’ve even really tried. I close the door just like that. And I do deny faith, deny God. (I’m sorry if you don’t believe in God – each to their own. I do) Deny any plans that He has for my life, or any faith in Him that with Him I can get through anything.
Diane mentioned that to come back and use my newly minted CBT skills on those statements I made would be very helpful and I agree. Those are thoughts that have been going round and round in my mind, upsetting me, causing me anxiety and making me feel hopeless. If I am not challenging them, they will never change. Challenging them is the first step.
I may no longer have the dreams I had when I was younger – but who of us ever knows what is round the corner? Even the best laid plans fall, and often. If only we had a crystal ball, we could plan our way to success and happiness step by step, including navigation around every hurdle we would face on the way! But life is not like that.
Life doesn’t only give us hurdles. It opens doors. All the time, in unexpected places. Opportunities don’t always announce themselves. We have to keep a look out for them. And we have to believe in them. If we don’t, we won’t look, and we will sail right past them.
There is no factual evidence at all that I will never amount to anything in my life. NONE. I am ONLY 35 years old. That is not even half of a person’s life expectancy. And I might not have things like certificates or diplomas or degrees, I might not have a job or career or a family or house or car, but I have lived experience – and that is something you just cannot buy or learn.
I don’t have a crystal ball or ESP. I have no idea what the future holds for me. I don’t even know what tomorrow really holds for me as opposed to what I’ve planned. 35 is not too old to begin anything. I might struggle to have kids, and who knows, maybe I never will meet a partner, but I have wonderful friends who love me in the ways I need to be loved, and there are many kids out there who some day I might be able to adopt or foster. They won’t be ‘my’ kids, but I would hope that I could be part of thier lives even if briefly.
There are definitely things I can do – I’ve been researching with the help of a close friend, Tertiary Preparation Programs, which are short uni courses that help you get back into being a student. I might soon be doing one of these, online and part time. It would be awesome to call myself a student again after so long – and this might be a pathway into something like a psychology degree or case management or social work, which might be another 8 years if I did it part time (and then still not be actually qualified) but I’ve just thrown more than 15 years of my actual life away to the ED, more than that, so what’s another 8 years when it’s going to be positive stuff? And this is very sudden – yesterday my therapist just suggested it as I was bemoaning exactly what I wrote here in my last post. I do need to feel like I’m actually working towards something again. The cognitive difficulties? I’ll tackle that as it comes. Even if I have to do only one unit at a time, I’ll do this. I’m still not actually finishing most books I borrow from the library, in fact I don’t start most of them – but I’m getting through more of the book before I give up. That’s progress I guess.
I’ve been told of a program that is run by survivors of child abuse, for survivors, that’s situated out in a remote area, a series of 5 day retreats. It sounds really great, and what’s more, they do not turn anyone down based on financial difficulty – they help you come up with a way to do it. Feedback sounds really good – some people say the 5 days was worth more to them than a 6 month hospital stay. What’s more, since the volunteers who run the course are all past program participants who have come through their own troubles and trained to then come back and help, that again is another pathway to my future that I might choose. I’d be really happy with something like that. To help other people like me as a volunteer at a place like that.
Basically what’s most important to me is that my life is meaningful, in that I left something behind that was better for my having been here (as opposed to leaving a deficit because I took much and contributed nothing or very little.) For me, meaningful means helping others, however I achieve that (whether directly or indirectly.)
I’ve looked into some other options for therapy (8 sessions left for the rest of 2013) including funding that’s set aside for people with Eating Disorders to attend therapy (not very likely but worth a shot) and a community counselling organisation which would provide free or sliding scale sessions. They do seem to specialise in ED, I do worry that they sound very ‘feminist’ based which isn’t my thing at all, but again, I have nothing to lose by checking them out and I have an intake appointment next Tuesday to meet them and see what they are like. (And I am, as usual for me, petrified!)
A close friend has recommended a psychiatrist who specialises in Trauma and will bulk bill (sadly bulk billing is getting scarce these days), and psychiatrists are able to bulk bill I think 50 sessions a year as opposed to the 10 that psychologists can. I had given up on psychiatrists – my experiences being that they throw medication and labels at you but don’t do anything to actually HELP you, whereas psychologists are all about changing your thinking and behaviours and working with your emotions. They give you real tools to take away and use for the rest of your life. But I will give this fellow a chance if he will give me one. I googled him and he has a huge reputation in this country so I just hope he’s not too busy for someone like me.
To help me face up to the anxiety that is ruining ballet and volunteer work with, I’ve been working with my care team to come up with ways they can support me to get there – after which once I get stuck into it I’m fine. it’s getting there in the first place where I fall down most, and it’s spending 2 or 3 days before hand constantly in panic attacks about it that exhausts me. I panic over the simplest things like “will I get up on time” and “I need to leave by x o’clock, remember that” and to have someone support me in the getting ready and getting there will help a lot of that anxiety calm down. I’m also changing my volunteering day, because Mondays is perhaps the worst day of the week for me. My weekends tend to be my busiest days of all and by Monday I am physically and emotionally a wreck, which doesn’t help in getting myself there in one piece or feeling very productive and helpful once there. And to help with the anxiety about what people will think of my appearance at Ballet, I’ve visited Bloch and come away with some really nice dance clothes that cover my scars, are loose but not baggy, and breathable. (I hate that I fret over this, but to me, the people at Ballet represent a group of people that once judged me very harshly, and to go back to them covered in self harm scars and underweight is something I feel very ashamed and self conscious about.)
I bought dancewear very like these!!
And one for the wish list:
I don’t help myself when I catastrophise about possible disastrous outcomes (that 99.999% of the time never happen) or engage in all-or-nothing thinking (“I’m not a success, so I’m a failure.”) I don’t help myself when I let what I feel override what I know to be true (for example, feeling fat overriding knowing I’m actually underweight, or feeling that people will judge me and find me to be a loser over actually knowing that those particular people like me, are nice to me, and accept me.)
I don’t help myself when I close myself off to any possibilities not just right now, but in the future, by declaring my life ‘over’.
I don’t help myself by forgetting that I don’t have to fight my problems by myself, or even face them alone. By forgetting that God has a plan for every single one of us, and that He has a plan for MY life too – even if I don’t know what it is yet. He is fighting for me every step of the way, and everything that I go through is part of His plan for my life. I don’t help myself by losing faith not just in God, but in my own self. (Thank you, Missy, for the reminder.)
Giving up on myself is the same as declaring myself worthless. And if God finds me worth fighting for, and even worth creating in the first place, who am I to have the arrogance to say “God, you are wrong, I’m awful!”
I’ve been enlightened in SO many ways since I wrote my previous post that I DO have more options than I can even know of right at this moment, that more options will be coming along in the future. That it’s never too late to change or to start afresh, to begin with something new. And that the fastest way to really fail, is to declare yourself a failure before you have even tried. It’s not failure when you give something your best shot. It’s only failure when you never even try at all.
I could go on, but this is already a heck of a long post. I am also needing to work on my screwed up sleeping patterns and have taken proactive steps to try and get more and better quality sleep – but I didn’t mean to include boring other people to sleep as well!
Thank you to everyone for your support and your belief in me – and for reminding myself to believe in myself.