Still Fighting

So it has been quite a hot minute since I last wrote anything here, huh?

Well, I’m still alive.

I’m still anxious. Still depressed. And still ADHD. Those thing have not changed, and I don’t think will ever change. I think I’ve finally come to terms with that and have decided instead to take each day as it comes.

That said, I’ve been really busy with school, mostly because I am a such a slow programmer that the last time I had a Data Structures assignment, it took me an entire 2 weeks to finish programming it when it took my friend less than an hour to do the same thing (then again, C has been coding for a year more than I have, and he spends at least 60 hours of coding a week. While I spend maybe 10… Or less…). So really, my busy-ness is merely due to my lack of skills, and knowledge.

Due to that, I haven’t been able to log in to WordPress to write or read anyone’s blog. 😦 I’ve missed the mental health community here in the blogverse. I’ve been wondering how everyone’s doing – especially Q, This.Shaking, skinnyhobbit and PaperDoll. I think about these wonderful people often enough.

Not writing in my blog makes me miss my advocacy work – I have recently been way more active as a Peer Educator but since a lot of our programs lately have been on sexual health, and sexual violence, I haven’t really been talking about mental health as much. Also, I’ve been feeling guilty about my recovery progress – of the times when I’ve slipped up and regressed, of the times when I’m less than a model Peer Educator, or the times when I don’t seem to embody the message I want to share.

Other times, I feel guilty for being better. I think I feel that way because then it’s like others see me as somehow “more successful”. But then again, I’m pretty sure I’m just projecting.

S and I have been continuing our work, and lately, I’ve been getting paranoid about termination, merely because I feel like I’m getting better, so that must mean I don’t need therapy anymore. The child is still in there, still scared. Despite realizing that she has the capability of being strong, and moving on, she’s still scared. She still wants S.

On that front, therapy has been going well enough. I am still dealing with the aftermath of the divorce, but it has been months since I’ve cried over the ex. It’s also been a while since I last spoke to him. I cut all ties with him some months ago (I don’t even remember when!) but from time to time, I still think of him, of the things that have happened, and of some of the better times we’ve had. Yesterday, I stumbled upon an old album that had all kinds of photos of us and for the first time in months, I broke down and cried seeing it. Then, after seeing it and feeling all at once angry, hurt, disgusted, and sad, I deleted all the photos that had him in it. It was painful to do it but the more I deleted, the easier it was to face the pain. This incident merely reminded me of the fact that this rip in my heart will probably never fully heal. There will be scar tissue, which means that I’ll probably always hurt whenever the scar tissues get aggravated. Thankfully, they don’t get aggravated all that often.

I’ve also been working hard in group therapy. Ever since I spoke up and told people how I actually feel about them, I have not been able to stop. It is almost like an addiction now – to say, “To be honest… This is how I feel…” and just say my mind. It feels great every single time because of how liberating it is not to have to keep secrets. The response from my group members have been positive, and it has helped me see that conflict, when avoided, often brings pain when not resolved. And that despite how uncomfortable it is to confront someone about something, it’s also equally uncomfortable to hold it inside. I have also learned that if you tell the truth, and give people the chance to tell their truth, and then both of you decide to give each other a chance, then things will work out.

T, the co-facilitator, told S of my progress in group. According to S, he expressed his awe, and admiration at my courage, and how hard I’ve been pushing myself in group. He also told me in person in the last session how excited he is to see my progress, and how happy he is every time I open my mouth to offer my opinion. He asked me if I now feel burdened by this – my answer was yes. I feel some pressure to perform – to be courageous all the time. To always be vulnerable, to always face my fears. It is stressful because now that I know I can do it once, I know I can do it again – but I don’t always want to. And that is another uncomfortable feeling I have to live with.

On the more personal front, my relationship with Cherie has been going well. We had our first huge fight recently that felt very scary and threatening to me due to how I always blame myself whenever a conflict arises, and how fearful I am at a loss of connection. Instead of letting the conflict tear us apart though, we were able to work things out. It is becoming clearer to me how much I love this woman, and how much she means to me.

I sometimes freak out though because of how I just don’t know how to do relationships – so being in a stable, and mature relationship with Cherie unnerves me because I don’t really know how to be. For 8 years, I was a certain kind of partner but that is me at my utmost dependent, weak, and whiny state. Now that I’m with someone who works hard on her mental health, and is a strong independent woman, I keep doing things that I find to be annoying such as being whiny, child-like, and dependent. I drive her insane sometimes because I can’t stop asking her if things are okay between us. I push and push and push because I feel insecure.

S and I have been talking about this a lot too – we discovered that I have such deep separation anxiety that it makes me so clingy. However, S has been reminding me for the past 3 weeks that I need to be kinder to myself and not immediately call myself names like, “Childish”, “Weak”, “Loser”, but rather recognize that uncomfortable feeling of being in conflicts, or the uncomfortable feeling of feeling like something’s wrong in the relationship when there really isn’t, and embrace that; hold the pain in my mind, and sit with it.  That has definitely been happening a lot more for me than it has ever been. Whenever I am aware of my issues, I try to sit with whatever uncomfortable feeling it is that have brought me the issues.

I really miss posting here because this is a space where I can word vomit, and not be judged for it. I can provide as much context as I want. I can speak freely and express my thoughts and feelings. It helps me process my feelings, and situations. I think not being able to write here has been detrimental to my progress because I haven’t really had a way to express all the pent up analysis that goes on in my head – and when I share the thoughts with Cherie, it often ends up at a point where I get super clingy. This blog is my space to just blah, without any expectations that anyone is even going to read it. And that’s fine because I think this blog keeps me sane.

Anyway… Overall, I’d say that I’m well enough. I might still have suicidal ideations but at least, the degree in which I’d act on them have definitely decreased. S is keeping an eye on my mental health. Cherie, and I are also doing the same. My group members have been supportive, and while I still have trouble in school, I am feeling a little better about programming because I feel like I’m slowly starting to understand some things. Unless there’s a huge trigger, I am usually feeling much better than I have been 3 or 4 months ago.

I think I’ll visit here more whenever I can. It really does free up a lot of mind space in my head when I write all my analysis, thoughts, and feelings down. So I hope all of you reading are well, as well, and I hope that I can have some time to check out the things you guys have all been up to as well then.

Pride Deserving of a Gryffindor

Today, I’m proud of myself.

Now, that’s quite a rare one, isn’t it?

If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you’d know that I have a high level of self-shame, self-hatred, and I find it hard to self-love.

Lately however, I’ve been coming to terms with how I feel about myself and learning what it means to self-love.

I said to S today, “Part of me can’t believe that I got to the realization that I need to cut off ties with my ex in order to heal in just a matter of days…” (I had come to terms with my decision early this week since having made said decision just a few days prior) and he said something that I’d known in the back of my mind but never really paid much attention to.

S said, “I want to challenge that notion that seems to undermine the amount of work you’ve done here. We’re coming up to 2 years of working together, and in that time, we’ve been dealing with the same things over and over again. You’ve worked incredibly hard!”

I thought hard as he said that and I realized that he was right.

Come April, it’ll have been 2 years of therapy. It’s almost unbelievable how long I’ve been grinding away at this, and how much I’ve worked. It still feels surreal. How could we have known each other that long?

Is that why I could just saunter into CAPS and say hi to everyone there as though I’ve been buddies with them for ages? I walk in through the doors and just casually say, “Hi D! How’s it going this week?” or “Hi K! Whatchu up to?” (K is the new receptionist that was hired to deal with the increasing demands of front desk work)

Is that why I could plop myself down in S’ client couch and just lean back like I was very comfortable? And is that why I can now ask him questions more plainly without having to ruminate over them for months before I bring anything up?

Wow. I don’t know why I am thinking like this is such a big deal – I mean, sure, I’ve been there almost 2 years now, so what, right?

That said, a part of me recognizes just how important this is – how important this journey has been thus far.

I keep undermining my efforts because I’m so short-sighted – I only see what’s immediately in front of me. S, on the other hand, had the privilege of being a third party observer who has his own informed perspective to use.

He said, “I don’t want you to sway you to my perspective but that’s how I see it. I see it as you, having put in so much time, energy, and effort into this recovery process, that it took you only a few days to come to terms with your decision because it’s been a long time coming. All those months of work have prepared you for this. You didn’t just wake up one day and decided that you were over the divorce…”

As I chewed on his words, I realized that I started to feel the warm feeling of pride inside. I started to realize how strong I’ve been – despite all the batterings I’ve endured last year, I emerged through that alive.

I started to realize that I am proud of myself for all that I’ve achieved.

I told S that. He beamed and assured me that I completely deserve to feel that way. He also told me how impressed he was with my ability to pull myself out of a suicidal thought 2 weeks ago.

It had been a rough time for me and I had reverted to the old habit of self-punishment, and suicidal tendency. I wanted to kill myself – I was triggered by my ex, and was led to believe that I was crap. That I should just die so that I didn’t have to feel the awful way that I do. I had also hurt Cherie’s feelings – something that I couldn’t believe I would do. I felt worthless.

While beating myself and telling myself that I deserve to hurt myself again, another voice chimed in. It was a different voice this time – it sounded nothing like the critical voice that I was used to hearing. It was a strong, confident, pleasant, and kind voice.

The voice said, “No! You’re not worthless. Why do you have to hurt yourself? Why do you have to die? If you do that, he wins. If you let him get to you, he wins. You’re better than that, Jules. You’re stronger than that! You’re worth more than what you’ve ever been told. You are too valuable to have to resort to self-harm, and suicide. Punishing yourself doesn’t do anything but hurt you more. You’ve already hurt enough”

When I had shared this with S last week, he had beamed so brightly, and told me several times how happy he is to hear that, and that I was able to get there. Today, he told me that he was impressed with my positive self-talk. He said that in the past, my pattern had been suicide –> self-depreciation –> worse thoughts of suicide –> visiting CAPS for emergency sessions –> have good sessions –> leave feeling better –> if lucky, the good feelings last for a couple of days –> get triggered again –> suicide –> rinse and repeat.

“So the fact that the affirmation didn’t come from me, or anyone here at CAPS, but rather, from yourself… That is very strong. It makes me happy to know that you’re reaching a stronger point”

I was already proud of myself but hearing his words made me even more proud. It added to my affirmative feelings and validated me.

This, I believe, is my first step toward breaking more bad habits, and being a stronger individual. I know that I will regress – as S kept reminding me, “Progress and recovery is not a straight line upwards. It looks more like a zig zag upwards, where there will be times when you will slip. But that’s okay. All that matters is that you keep going”.

Still Alive

Anyone who follows my Facebook, my blog, or knows me personally knows that I’ve been through a hellish year with processing the traumas of my life, processing a painful and messy divorce, battling suicidal thoughts and intents, battling self harming tendencies, processing my sexual orientation and what it means to be Christian despite it, dealing with the pain of intense self-shame, self-punishment, self-defeat, as well as experiencing all those feelings as I project them onto others, working two jobs while contributing as a Peer Educator, and struggling with financial issues.

At the end of the day, we’re on the cusp of the beginning of the final month of the year – I’m still here, after all that shit, I’m still fighting.

I’m going to fail all my classes – in retrospect, that shouldn’t add to more shame for me right?

Then why do I still keep feeling like I’ve wasted an entire semester doing nothing? – Even though, I’ve done more in this semester where my mental health is concerned than I’ve ever done in my life.

The critical voices in my head need to stop.

After all the shit, I should get a medal for still being here. What are 3 F’s in a transcript compared to how I’m still alive?

Lessons in Recovery

“I know from the way you stroke my hair, the way you talk to me, the way you look at me, that you really love me,” Chérie said to me yesterday as we laid in bed.

That made my heart melt. As someone who constantly feels like I’m never enough for anyone, it made me realize just how my girlfriend – and also others – see me. Just from the things I do, and the things I say to her, she could tell that I cared about her greatly.

Although my school life has been a huge mess lately, being with Chérie has brought a different kind of clarity and stability to my personal life – this has made it a lot easier for me to deal with the distressing situation that school has become.

I was lucky enough to have gotten the weekend off from work that I was able to spend almost a week with my beloved at her apartment. Her family even invited me for Thanksgiving and I got to meet her parents, and some extended family. Although nerve-wrecking because this was the first time meeting them, I also settled in comfortably without much difficulty shortly after. It was the kind of ease that I never got from meeting my ex’s family.

I was supposed to leave for home tonight but I found that I couldn’t. I had been crying the whole day today because I didn’t want to leave. The pain of separation from Chérie for the next 2 and a half weeks was great and unbearable. I am glad that she’s strong enough for both of us to not cry with me because that would have made it even harder.

I finally decided on a compromise – I would leave at 5am tomorrow morning instead, to make it in time for my shift at the MAC. This has given me a few more precious hours with her. My friend, El, told me that though it’s hard, it must also be a great feeling knowing that there is someone amazing I could look forward to seeing. She’s right. I never looked at it from that perspective because I’ve always just been so used to seeing life from gray-tinted glasses.

The changes that Chérie has catalyzed for me in my life has been so drastic that I really just can’t imagine life without her anymore. I know that I am so much better than I was just a month ago. Even S has noted that several times – telling me how proud he is of me and of the changes I’ve made in my life.

Last session, he asked, “Do you think you could’ve done the same a year ago? Maybe even 6 months ago?”

I shook my head as soon as the words left his lips. “No! No way!” I responded almost immediately. “I couldn’t have done this a year ago… Not even 6 months ago. I feel different. And I can see that I have come a long way…”

“You have!” S said, smiling. “I’m so proud of you!”

His words made me smile. It made me feel proud too – I am proud of myself for how far I’ve come. I know that he and I have done a lot of hard work – he would also often remind me that most of the hardest work was done by me – but I also know how much Chérie has helped catalyze things for me as well.

Most of the hardest work in my recovery happened over the course of a year and a half with S. However, not even a week after I met Chérie, I had managed to take all the groundwork that S and I have laid down and made leaps and bounds of progress. It’s amazing just how one person can make a difference in your life.

Despite that, I am still struggling with many more things – there are days when I still wish that my marriage had worked out; that I didn’t have to struggle as a bisexual person; that I didn’t have to struggle with understanding my faith and the judgments I’ve had to deal with; that I didn’t have to feel so insecure about myself and what I have to offer. It’s just that despite the struggles, I am able to work past them – with Chérie by my side, I am able to let myself see the positives that she sees of me. She’s able to help me accept who I am, and learn new skills to cope with life as a non-neurotypical person.

The last 5 and a half weeks that I’ve been with my girlfriend have been the best time of my life – not only have I been able to learn to value myself more , I’ve also learned that it’s much easier to go through difficult times when you have someone to help you. Through it all, I’ve also learned that it’s okay to still struggle and that recovery doesn’t mean that everything is 100% fixed.

I’m thankful for this amazing woman in my life. I am sad that in just a few hours I’ll be packing up to leave, but I also know that like El has said, I have someone incredible to look forward to seeing again in a few weeks’ time.

Another Update

I know some of you have been worried about me because I haven’t been active on WordPress or written in my blog.

Things have been a whirlwind of intense emotions. I’m sometimes very distressed and depressed, and then other times feeling okay, feeling “fine”.

The only good news I have for myself right now is that things are well in my personal life – with Chérie, things have progressed smoothly with us since the last update. I had gotten a chance to meet her for the first time and we behaved as though we’d known each other our whole lives. She makes me feel so appreciated, so loved, and so encouraged. It’s a foreign feeling (being happy) that I’m trying to cope with and accept.

School has been my main source of stress and a huge downer. I’m failing.

I didn’t realize how badly I had needed a semester off until now that I’m about a month away from the end of school. Finals are creeping up and I don’t know if I can pass all my classes. I’m not utilizing my time very well either because despite my anxiety over my grades, I really don’t want to do anything. It’s almost like I can’t do anything.

S and I have been talking about my relationship these past few weeks (which is why I haven’t written any Thoughts From Therapy posts – I figured, who really wants to hear about all that, right?). This week though, I’m going to have to steer us back to my school struggles. I’m really experiencing intense depression – the kind where you don’t want to get out of bed, and you don’t have energy for anything, and food doesn’t taste good, and sleep is restless – all because of school.

I’ll write again sometime – for now, thank you for all those who have been asking how I’ve been. You guys help keep me going because I realize that there are people out there who care about me.

 

Thoughts From Therapy #87 – Feeling Pride

Today’s session with S went relatively well – as usual we always run out of time when we start to work really hard. I say relatively because I really enjoyed his company today, but I was also just feeling raw and weepy. I like how I can feel safe enough to go to his office and be able to open up and just cry.

I haven’t cried in a week, and crying is so cathartic but it’s something that I find great difficulty doing outside of CAPS.

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Thoughts from Therapy #86 – Self Punishment

Note: As usual, this is a long one – usually the posts titled “Thoughts From Therapy” are going to be really long doozy posts to read.

S’ expression was worry and/or concern almost the whole time through our session today.

Hey, I’d be too if I were the psychologist and my client comes in and the first thing they tell me after I ask them how they are is, “I’ve been very suicidal this last week because things have gotten worse for me…”

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