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Archive for November, 2010

More, I suppose

I don’t aim to put ‘taboo’ subjects on here, but I won’t back down from it if it is stroke-related. So, I hope you have recovered from the last one, because here comes another.

I’m just having a hell of a time of it right now.

As I previously alluded to, I left my last therapist due to differences in theory (I subscribe to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and she was more of a Eastern, holistic, we are all of the same spirit energy. We just couldn’t find a middle ground to operate). I am trying to find a new therapist in my network that will work for what I need.

I pretty much looked up a close therapist (you know, open a phone book, close your eyes, and point) and went to an appointment. It nearly put me over the edge. As I went up to check in, I heard christian music playing. I noticed it, but didn’t really think about it.

I sat in the waiting room and picked up something to read. It was one of the most horrific anti-homosexual pieces of literature I have ever read. They are going to hell because of their sinning ways. Of course, this got my attention.

As I was sitting there, thinking if I should just jet, I was called in. I will try to paint the picture as best as I can. The therapist’s choice of clothing tipped me off first. Everything she had on was at the very least 1 to 2 sizes too small. The button across her bosom was threatening to put my eye out. Then she opened her mouth. She was super over-eager and tripped over her questions. If you don’t know, the first session is an intake session and she was reading from a form and *still* tripping over her tongue. It felt as though she graduated 3 days earlier and that I was her 3rd client.

Look, I’m not going to knock a new professional who is nervous – everyone needs to start somewhere. However, I’m really not in a place to hold a newbie’s hand to help them start their career. It didn’t help that she focused on my religious beliefs, felt that the lord had brought us together, and asked/encouraged me to be angry at god for my life. It made me feel as though my life was supposedly worth the anger because I, apparently, had a crappy life. Gee, thanks.

I just need to find a ‘good enough’ therapist right now. One to talk me down from the ledge. **warning** this is the taboo part. I’m losing it and I don’t know what to do. I scared the shit out of myself because I transitioned from passive thoughts of suicide (wishing I hadn’t survived the stroke) to active thoughts of suicide (wanting to be dead).

Before you freak – I have no plan and it isn’t constant. I have SEVERE mood swings and this happened one night for a few hours. It really scared me. I will live (mostly because the sane mood swings are predominant) and my search for a new therapist will help me figure this out. I’m simply suffering right now. I know that sounds ridiculously simplified and as though I am saying it only to calm you.

This isn’t a new and original feeling for a stroke survivor. It is my dark and lonely place right now. I have a new therapist appointment that I hold out hope for. I do think it is important to talk about things like this even though they are taboo and may freak you out or make people uncomfortable.

I’m searching for a way to live so that it isn’t painful. That shouldn’t be difficult, but right now, it is.

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November, 2010

I only named this post after the month/year because I really don’t have a coherent theme. I feel as though I blew my wad on the previous post and that there is no way to really add something that would be meaningful right now.

I’m also worried that I pulled at a major string in the last post and am very hesitant to tug at another, so I am staying somewhat superficial for right now.

I had such an interesting chat with a nurse yesterday that made both of us think. She knew that I stroked, but I didn’t know about her ex-husband who was just diagnosed with ALS. She said that he gets depressed when the disease shows itself, like an issue with his hand or arm. She tells him that some people are born without hands or arms and they learn to do it.

I truly do understand this somewhat self-righteous point of view. The person who presses this opinion just doesn’t know and doesn’t grasp the situation. In a very friendly way, I said “While that is true, the person born without hands or arms never had anything to miss. When you have something and it is taken away, it is devastating.”

I think that my previous self would probably get just as irritated as; she was, some people reading this, a previous employer who said “you are still stuck on that?”, and most likely more than a few of my friends and family members. As annoying as it is to hear about it, don’t presume to know what it is like to live it and recover.

Okaaaay, so that got a lot more preachy than I intended.

You’ve heard of the “Welcome to Holland” poem, right?

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.”

Well, in many ways, this can compare to surviving something (cancer, stroke, heart attack, etc.) in that it is something else than what you planned for life. Not that the ‘new’ life is lovely like Holland, but that there has to be a chance to see that Holland can be good. It won’t, and can’t ever, compare to Italy, but Holland is a place to live and call home. It takes some people [me] longer to figure out how to navigate Holland. This progress is slow, but it is still progress.

Last item of the day – I use to love to bake when the weather cooled in the Fall. When we moved to Florida, some of that joy was removed because ‘cool’ to me isn’t 80 degrees :-). In addition, the stroke made me very hesitant to be around the stove and oven for fear of being off-balance and gripping or falling into something that would burn me. Then, when I had my balance stabilized, I was too angry at myself to allow for this small joy.

Guess what? Oh, I baked up a storm 2 weekends ago! Tiny pumpkin pies, tiny pumpkin pies nestled in a cream cheese cupcake, blueberry cheesecake! I felt AWESOME!

I do think there is a refractory period after doing something “normal”. For about a week or two following my bake-a-thon, I was wracked with doubt, troubled with the idea that I will ever be normal again. I will literally filled with ideas about how inadequate I was/am.

Yes, yes, yes – I need to redefine ‘normal’. Cognitively, I *know* all of this. But knowing something and being able to put that into action is so totally different. Forgiving oneself is not a ‘once and done’ type of thing. It is such an ongoing process.

In any case, right now I am working on the mundane, boring stuff & leaving all of those little strings untugged.

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