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Archive for April, 2011

AD and Paris

Yeah, yeah, it’s been forever and a day since I posted last.

First – I really and truly have been enjoying life with anti-depressants (AD from now on).

Second – I WENT TO PARIS for my birthday (more on that later).

Okay, not to be the annoying spokesperson for AD, I want to sing from the mountain tops about how much my life is better with them (except I really can’t sing – just ask Bob). Like many, if not most, people, I have slight OCD and the AD have cut down my OCD tendencies. When I am particularly stressed or anxious (or depressed, it turns out), my OCDness really shows. I can’t ascend or descend stairs without counting them. At all. Which meant that conversations were awkward and stilted. It also meant that if I was supposed to remember some detail and I had to tackle stairs, I would *have* to count and would forget the detail.

This sounds just slightly annoying, right? Well, it is more than that. ASS (after Sherri’s stroke – silly, but I just love the acronym!), anything that I even remotely did wrong (forget something, etc.) would immediately devolve into a spiral of hate and shame. It went a little something like this: scuff my affected foot while walking. Thoughts: “oh my god, I can’t even walk right. Everyone can tell, it is so obvious. I’m not totally recovered and it is all my fault. I am such a huge piece of shit. I should have been able to recover better. I hate this. I hate everything about this. I hate myself.”

So, that was just for scuffing my foot – that spiral occurred multiple times a day for every little thing that I perceived as a mistake. Small stuff, big stuff, stuff related to the stroke, stuff no where even closely related to the stroke. It really removes the mystery as to why I was depressed, doesn’t it? I held (and probably still do) myself to a standard that was impossible to reach and then berated myself for not reaching 100% of the time every minute of every day. I can only imagine what a joy I was to live with.

So, anyway, AD relieved the stress of my non-clinical OCD, which also helped to stop the negative thought patterns (a little more on this later). In addition, AD have helped to decrease some of the nervous twitches that I created for myself – I used to chew on the inside of my mouth all of the time (literally all of the time). I would recognize that I was doing it, enter negative thought spiral, and then do it more to soothe myself – round and round we go. I no longer need to soothe myself with that as much and when I do catch myself doing it, I simply stop and focus on something else rather than beating myself up.

I do not get paid to tout the wonder and glee of AD, but, as you can tell, it has brought so much sunlight, hope, happiness, and relief to my life, that I think it would be unfair not to at least recognize the component of depression from a stroke. The destruction of neurons from the lack of oxygen threw the neurochemicals for a loop and I need that to be stabilized in a healthy way. AD have provided that for me. I was clearly in need of serotonin stabilization. Plus, it is only fair to talk about this considering all of the gloomy previous posts, right?!

Another big help has been this therapist that I have been seeing. On the very first visit – when I was wigging out and stressed and anxious and depressed and a full, complete mess, she asked me if I had an addiction. No, I don’t (she didn’t count caffeine). She asked about recreational drugs. Not since high school. Alcohol? 2-3 times of a beer/wine or two per week. Cigarettes? Not since undergraduate college. She actually told me that she was shocked that I wasn’t addicted to anything given my circumstances. Ha! Um, thanks? I *think* she was impressed that I hadn’t used drugs to self-medicate. I didn’t even think to – darn. 😉

She is really good at what she does. Although her main focus is a sex therapist and is a hypnotherapist, she is also good at talk therapy as well. Open, honest, and compassionate. We work well together. She likes to tell me how mean I am to myself. I readily agree with her. She says that it’s nice for me to agree, but we have to change it. Oh. Okay. So, we conduct a few hypnosis sessions to work on forgiving myself for being human and whatnot. In addition to the AD, I think that is also what has helped tremendously in ceasing the negative thought spirals.

One of the other things she delves into is my messy childhood. Yeah, we determined that my molester really screwed me up. To some degree, she has determined that I have some level of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and survivor’s guilt. PTSD for what I went through and survivor’s guilt for what I saw at that age, that no one should ever see. I need to get some of this out. I was not the only one being molested, but I am not going to list names or how I knew the other children. We ( at least 2 of us girls) were offered to the molester’s friends. As in “hey, you guys want some of this – come on – feel free.” as we  curled up into one another and shied away from them. Another flashback memory is the worst. A young boy (3 or 4, I think) had a dirty rag stuffed in his mouth. We saw everything. His face was so red from crying in pain and being unable to breathe well while he was being sodomized. My heart absolutely breaks that I did nothing to help. Survivor’s guilt. At 5 years old, I couldn’t have done anything for him. I wasn’t as big, strong, nor evil as his tormentor. I was threatened with what would happen if I told. I was only a child. I forgive myself. It is not my fault. What happened to me (and others) as a child was not my fault. My stroke was not my fault. ~Big sigh~ It helps. Every time I think this, every time I write this, every time I say this – it helps.

So, my therapist has asked if the reason we don’t have kids is because of this guy. My original reasons were definitely because of this. (1) I was terrified at the possibility of perpetuating the crime. I had it in my mind that because it happened to me, that I could do it to someone else. I don’t know where this came from, but I would never do this. I know it logically, but this fear is a different level than logic. (2) I never wanted to bring a child up with the remotest of possibilities that it could possibly happen to him/her. There are just no guarantees. Well, the only guarantee is that it could NEVER happen to a child of mine if I never have a child. There you go.

Then, when I was in my 20s and 30s, I dealt with all the smug assholes that say “oh you’ll change your mind” as though they knew everything about me and that I don’t know my own mind. If you have ever met me, you would know that this cemented the deal. Dig my heels in and looky here – no kids.

This conversation with my therapist buzzed around in my brain for quite awhile. I finally decided to really think it through and was surprised to find that I gave so much power to my childhood experience and that jerk, that I don’t have a strong aversion to kids, in reality. I built it up for so long in my mind that the original reason for not having kids didn’t seem like such a strong base for my decision any longer. In short, Bob & I are open to discuss kids. I’m really close to the end (if not already there) of my fertility window, so I don’t know if it is even remotely possible. BUT – I am actually open to the discussion. Wow. Bob’s pretty freaked about it too. He has never felt the desire to ever be a father, so at the very least, it is an interesting discussion. I don’t know where it will lead. I guess we will find out!

Oh, oh – I almost forgot – Paris! Bob & I went to Paris for my birthday (spoiled, I know). Went to the top of the Eiffel Tower, climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, went to the Louvre, walked a lot, went to Champagne, France; Bruges, Belgium; and London, England. It was springtime in Paris, so everything was in bloom. Which meant hella bad allergies. Zyrtec to the rescue! It turns out that Zyrtec and my AD interact to make me really sleepy. While climbing to the top of the Arc de Triomphe (250-something steps), I got really tired and took breaks about every 50 steps or so. The good news? Not once, not one single time did I relate it to my stroke. No negative spiral whatsoever. Not ever a whisper of a hint. Nothing!

Yay me! 🙂

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