An update from Nicole to Taylor concerning winter break
1/7/19 – I just wanted to share this; there’s no obligation to respond.
Here’s an update of the past two or so months of what I wanted share but kept forgetting and of some things that occurred over break.
I wrote this next paragraph several weeks ago, and instead of sending it, I attempted to explain part of it when we last met. I think I did mostly well explaining the main point.
I forgot to mention when we met that over the past three weeks, from a few days after we met up until now, I have been so emotionally and mentally numb that I can’t feel anything besides emptiness. Normally when this happens, I cut to make myself feel again, but both fortunately and unfortunately, I went a full three weeks and a couple days without it. Then I got to the point where I ‘felt’ so overwhelmed by the numbness that I relapsed multiple times on a few different days. The last time I cut before the next clean streak was on Sunday, Dec 2nd. That day I was so depressed and anxious that I could not leave my room at all. After that, I went about a week (Dec10) without cutting, then slipped up again.
Since then, I made it almost three weeks (Dec 11-30). The night of the 27th, I had strong urges to cut, so I was going to give in to relieve some stress and anxiety about financial issues and Cru Winter Conference the next day. I told myself I just had to wait until I was done packing and in bed before giving in. Fortunately, when I was done packing, I was so tired the blade didn’t even make it to my wrist before I fell asleep. The last thing I remember I was holding it, really wanting to give in but also not wanting to give in. When I woke up the next morning, the blades were next to me with my phone, and I realized what happened, or actually what didn’t happen. The urges still persisted, and they won on the 30th at CWC. I gave in, but the amount was considerably less than normal. Since then, I have been able to resist, mostly because I didn’t want there to be any chance of my mother seeing and trying to talk about it with me. I also told myself that I just had to wait until I got back to campus and away from my mother before I could cut. Instead of cutting, I’ve been trying to write when I notice the urges, and it has been really helpful over the past couple of months, more than I ever thought it could be.
It seems to help when I tell myself that I just have to wait until a certain time or date, like not denying the urges but just putting them off and procrastinating. I’m sure it’s because once I reach that set point, the urges would have passed, and then I would no longer want to do it, but also not denying that urge, just delaying it makes my mind see that I can wait, and I can wait some more since I already waited once. I also still have the urges if I wait, but sometimes I just make myself wait longer, which is usually until I feel like I have to give in.
I guess it is kind of like a toddler when they ask for something, and you tell them no, they throw a fit. But sometimes if you tell them not yet but in five minutes, they (sometimes) won’t get upset because they have no concept of time. After some time, the child will repeatedly ask, and each time, you tell them to wait just a little longer. When the child becomes so impatient that they have become particularly annoying, the older person finally gives in to make them be quiet. If the child forgets about the thing they wanted, they won’t ask for it. In the same way, if I forget about the urges, they supposedly aren’t there anymore. I don’t know; this is confusing, but I think it makes sense to me but then again, not really.
I also wanted to let you know I’ve started a blog about a week after break started. I’ve created this blog, so I can share experiences I’ve been through concerning mental health with others as well as some other pieces. I’ve written most of my posts as narrative pieces in the perspective of this girl living through a few select events, going step by step through each experience with descriptions and dialogue. For some of the posts, I used and revised my old writings that I wrote after sessions about what had happened and what I was thinking during the session. For others, I had to start from my memory, and I think I have done a pretty decent job of getting the right details and putting them in proper order. Some details I couldn’t quite remember, so I either skipped over them or changed them a bit. I know that I would like to read stories and experiences similar to what I’ve written as encouragement to keep going, so I figured maybe it could help someone else. I’ve gotten several positive comments saying that my posts have been encouraging and interesting to read.
As for people in person, I’ve reached a couple people I know, and possibly a few others. At CWC, I met a friend’s girlfriend, Mia, and at one of the sessions, she and I started talking to get to know one another as she goes to a different school. She and I were also hotel roommates for the weekend with two other girls from BC, Katherine and Billie. Either the first or second night, I was writing and editing a post, and she asked me if I was writing a paper for school or something. I told her I wasn’t and that I just like to write. She asked me what my major was, so I told her, and she was like “oh gotcha makes sense.” The next day at a session, she and I sat next to each other, and she asked me about my writing and what I like to write, whether it’s personal experiences or fictional stories. I responded telling her I write about my personal experiences, and she mentioned something about putting my writing out there in the world. I told her that I actually have sort of done so by starting a blog. She was immediately excited and asked me what it was called, so I told her, and she looked it up right there. She read the introduction post then turned to me and excitedly said “this is so cool. I’ve been struggling this past year with this deep depression, but I’ve never been able to put it into words. With stuff like this, it helps to feel less alone and that there are others struggling with the same things, because like people don’t normally talk about stuff like this and mental health in regular conversations. It was so brave of you to put yourself and your story out there.” I had to warn her that the rest of the content was really heavy and intense, but she said she didn’t mind and that it was totally fine. This was the first reader from my personal world that I know for sure has read part of my blog and I actually maybe helped them in some way. It was really encouraging.
That same day, my former Latin teacher and now friend texted me asking me how break was going, so I told her that I’ve been able to sleep and write a lot, and that I started the blog. I also told her a bit about the conference. She was interested in looking at my blog, and she was concerned a bit about CWC (I told her that there were a lot of people, about 1000 college students plus staff at a hotel in Baltimore, and it was taking a toll on me mentally). I told her what the name of the site was but that I didn’t want my mother knowing about it or reading it because she doesn’t need to know what I have put in my posts. (they are also close friends) I also said that it would just be a way for my mother to try to engage me in conversations about myself that I want no part of. She said she didn’t want to read it then; it sounded too personal. I assured her that I didn’t mind, but warned her, it was intense and dark. She read some of it and responded saying that she was concerned about the cutting and suicidal thoughts. She also reminded me of how I’m so great and loved and all that along with telling me I am a talented writer. It was encouraging to hear that I am a good writer. I, of course, didn’t really believe anything else she said about my character or abilities.
I think starting this blog has really helped me to cope and get through this break, though it has been somewhat difficult to write and edit several of my posts as I’m reminded of past times and struggles. When I was writing several of the posts, my anxiety spiked multiple times, making me feel so sick, mentally uncomfortable and uneasy that I had to put it away several times, so I could try to calm down and recenter myself. Eventually, I got to the point where I just pushed through, wrote it all up, read it multiple times, edited and revised it, then reread it and was able examine and analyze the experience, seeing it for what it was and not how it was making me feel (mostly). This blog thing in addition to a med dosage raise has made a major difference in my mood over the past few weeks. I haven’t felt as down and have actually been able to feel something other than depression and numbness. It’s been nice to be able to function somewhat again.
This next part I wrote several weeks ago, and it’s not really all that important, but I included it because it’s about something that has affected me quite a bit.
Over the past two months or more, I have sort of been isolating but not completely on purpose. Ever since leaving EBoard, I haven’t spent much time around anyone. Whenever I try to socialize, everyone is too busy. I get it; this is college, and everyone is busy, but when you spend almost every day alone except for classes, it kind of majorly sucks. I know it’s partially because I’ve closed myself off to people and haven’t been letting anyone in as to keep from hurting them with my problems. I’ve withdrawn, and I don’t talk much to anyone unless they try talking to me. I’m probably thinking irrationally or something, maybe others are just worrying about reaching out to me. I don’t know anymore, it’s too confusing. I figure if anyone really wanted me around, they would have somehow contacted or talked to me by now. I know I’m flawed somehow in thinking this, but I’m confused and don’t know anymore. I guess I’ve kind of given up in the socialization department. Not having friends is so much easier to deal with than this.
Another thing is that I keep worrying about recovery, how I don’t seem to be moving forward anymore, and how I’ve lost so much of my support system. I’m also back at the point where help and recovery seem so unattainable because of how horrifically my mind is messed up. My mind has been telling me that no one will ever be able to help me and that I should just give up on my endeavor. I keep thinking that no matter how hard I try, I will never be able to feel “normal” or find any form of relief from my depression or anxiety. I keep thinking that I will always feel like this and even though it subsides sometimes, it always comes back full force, leaving me beaten and bruised. Help and recovery seem so unattainable because I’m so afraid of meeting a new therapist/counselor. I’m afraid of meeting some stranger that my mind will tell me is judging me even if they’re not. My mind will tell me not to trust them, that they are just going to leave so I shouldn’t connect with them if I even can connect with them somehow. I’m afraid that maybe I’ll have to meet with several different people before I find the right person. I’m afraid of the expenses that come along with it that I won’t be able afford. I’m also afraid that my fear of authority figures will inhibit any chance of connecting or trusting anyone. I’m afraid of telling anyone I meet with anything about myself because I can barely trust anyone unless we connect and even then, it will take a long time to trust them, and I am terrified.
I also wanted to let you know I emailed Hank about a date for a session, and we have one scheduled for January 11th at 4pm. I’ve been getting increasingly more anxious about this as I don’t know if I’m going to connect with him at all or if it’s just going to be like all the other older authority figures that scare the living daylights out of me. I don’t feel as though I’m ready for this new experience, but I will probably never feel ready. I’ll most likely be silent for almost the entire time, and I can guarantee you that I will barely move a muscle while I’m there. As you mentioned in our last session, and if I decide to continue seeing him, I think it would be good to communicate with him about anything that you think would help him get a grasp on what’s going on and whatever else. I think it would also be beneficial to explain how severe my anxiety gets, whether you or I communicate that to him.
12/25 Update: Christmas evening, my mother and I were talking about something and she inquired about how I have been doing lately. She then noticed my hand tremors and asked if I was okay. I told her that my hands are always shaking, and she said that she didn’t like it. I’m pretty sure the tremors are caused by the increase of one med. (this next section isn’t really important)
(and she probably knows that it’s caused by the meds. She’s still against them and really wants me to meet with this counselor here in Fredericksburg. She has been so persistent and won’t stop bugging me about it, since she is qualified to practice EMDR, and my mother wants me to meet with her and possibly try it. She’s also a family friend, and my mother knows that she’s a good person and counselor. (My mother is also very particular about who I meet with, mostly because she’s concerned about their views and beliefs negatively influencing me.) I think I mentioned her before. She’s known me for a long time, but I barely know her; she works with my grandmother, and she goes to my church. I met with her once at the end of summer, and ever since then, just being around her makes me so nervous and anxious I feel nauseous. Even before I met with her, I’ve always been especially nervous around her. My grandmother invited her and another friend over for lunch the other day (Dec 23), and since I’ve been staying with her, I was there too. I helped her get things set up before they got there, but a little while before we were expecting them, I went upstairs and hid until I had to go to work. The anticipation and anxiety of waiting for them to arrive was way more uncomfortable than normal. It caused the normal heart beating faster and hand tremors, but it also caused my stomach to churn worse than it used to. When they arrived, I could hear them, and I tried to block out their voices by watching youtube, and I attempted to calm myself by lying down and trying to breathe mindfully. I tried to completely avoid them because I knew it was more than I could handle. The day after, at the xmas eve service at church, the counselor came over to talk to my grandmother, and I had my back to her because I was facing my family. When I heard her voice, my mind completely froze, and I was unsure of what was going on except for that she was behind me, and I could not turn around.)
I mentioned to my mother that I have an appointment set to meet with you Hank, and she and I began this long conversation about financial problems. Since Hank doesn’t take insurance and my insurance is in-network only and won’t take invoices, etc, there’s no possible way I can afford to meet with him except for this once as I already have an appointment. I’m paying for my own tuition, and I can barely pay that. My parents are doing what they can to help with tuition, but there’s only so much they can do since I have four younger siblings, and my dad has two jobs, but only makes about S50k a year (my mother is technically self-employed but barely makes anything).
After talking to her later about it, she said she would like to talk to Hank about payments because she figures if I end up in the hospital again, that would be much more expensive than sessions with him. She wants to ask him if there’s any way we could pay for sessions in smaller but more frequent amounts. I don’t know if that will be possible, but she seems to be more willing and okay with me meeting with him.