Dragon Slayer

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My therapist decided that I am doing well enough and run out of things to say, so he will see me as needed. I was feeling down earlier this month and he was able to give me a phone appointment.  I had an epiphany of sorts, maybe obvious to others but it struck me.

Image: Dragon silhouette

I was raised that you were valued for performance/achievements. So, any time I feel I did an inadequate job I think  I am bad/worthless.  So, little things can spiral me into depression.  

I emailed that to my therapist and this is what he wrote back:

       ”  do two things:

first, list the values you would choose to measure your life by then how you see yourself adhering to it…..

second, would you use the same standards that you grew up with to measure your children’s worth or value…..

write this out…..

lastly keep the things you have written out to re read anytime you begin to experience these thoughts….. and shame that comes with it”

There is no time limit since I don’t have another appointment set, but I have started thinking about it.  

I went to a journaling group on zoom last night. Everyone has some kind of illness so I can talk about mental health and it is not weird,

They have different prompts and you choose one and write for 10 minutes, then you can share. I usually share,

The prompt I chose was fighting your metaphorical dragon.

This is it, It is really rough but I like the imagery. 

The dragon in my life is negative core beliefs. I was raised to believe that how you performed was related to your worth. Whenever I think I did an inadequate job, I think I am a failure and worthless, I fall into a pit rapidly.

To fight my dragon, I would face him head on at first. I would yell and stab at him to get my anger out.

Then I would turn away in disbelief.   The dragon is not real, but I am keeping his image alive.  When I stop believing he will get smaller and smaller until he disappears.

I will rejoice and not miss him when he is gone.

Update

Image: Yellow smiley face

My therapist was able to fit me in with a phone appointment on my lunch break Monday. He validated my feelings which helped a lot. Then, he gave me cognitive behavioral therapy homework to find evidence about being worthless, a failure, etc. There is no deadline. I don’t have a scheduled appointment. I will let him know if I need an appointment. He is going to retire soon.

Then, I talked to the assistant to my boss, I don’t know her title, and told her how I have been feeling. She said she has had no complaints from anyone about me. That helped, too. I made sure to document my encounters this week and this month already looks better.

I have a LinkedIn friend, I don’t know if we have met ever, who volunteers in my field. She mentioned she was looking for work. I told her we had an opening, part time and how to apply. She jumped on it and got the job. I think today is her first day. I hope it goes well for her.

I saw my new psychiatrist. He works in the same office as my last one, but he is covered by my insurance. I don’t know what to think of him. He barely spoke to me, just checked boxes while I talked which was off putting. He took a personal call. I am maxed out on the meds I take and he thinks my antipsychotic is too high, so he decreased it and told me how to taper down. No one has wanted to change my meds because they are working. He does not want to see me for 3 months.

I am a little worried I will destabilize in that time. When I made the appointment for August, I asked if they can switch me back to the other doctor when they get the insurance worked out. They put me on a list.

Sad

What do you do when all your coping skills only help a little?

Image view of blue sky from hole in ground

I am in a pit. I know it will pass, but it feels agonizing. My dog and husband try to comfort me, it helps some. I had thoughts of not existing but I have decided against that. I am here to stay, even if I am miserable. I want to quit things that cause me stress. My husband wants me to wait a month to make Important decisions.

I am not sure what I would do with more free time. My therapist moved my appointments further and further out because I was doing well and had trouble coming up with things to talk about. So, he moved me to “as needed”. Now, I need it but I have to wait for a time he can fit me in. I see my third psychiatrist this year next week. My insurance has been denying claims.

If you have any tips on how to ride this out please comment

Therapy PRN?

Image: dinosandcomics cartoon I hate leaving the house, why are you here then, well…, I have to have something to talk to my therapist about

I started seeing a new therapist when my insurance changed in January.  He started spacing our sessions further apart because I am doing well and run out of things to say.  Last month he told me he thinks I just need to see him, as needed, and to contact him if I need an appointment.

I don’t know what to think.  I am happy I am doing well but did not know I could finish, with a chronic mental health condition.  I do like checking in with someone but I have a psychiatrist and support group and people around me.

When I ask people about it they think I am unhappy and tell me to speak up, but that is not the issue.  I am unsure how I feel.  I am getting used to the idea now.

 

I also changed psychiatrist with the insurance change. But, I am having more insurance issues. He is part of a medical group that is covered but they are not recognizing him in their system. They covered the first appointment but denied the second. I filed a grievance and the psychiatrist office says it will be taken care of.  It still makes me nervous.

 

Work is going fine. I work 2 days and they hired someone to work the other 3.  I was wondering what he was doing. Work would be piled up for me when I came in.  I just found out he has not been working there for over a month  I feel silly for not knowing, but no one told me.

 

Weight watchers is going fine.  I had a birthday and celebrated with some desserts.  My weight has been going up and down but at least it I have not be gained.  I am getting back at it. I got a recipe book when I signed up and have made a few recipes.  I made slow cooked oats with fruit and a hash brown and egg meal.  I have coconut milk yogurt cooking overnight.  I plugged in a blueberry muffin recipe and it is 6 pts which is okay for a treat but I have to limit to one.

 

 

I finally got my coconut milk “yogurt” to solidify

Image container of coconut milk yogurt with spoon sticking straight up

I have been attempting to make coconut milk yogurt, but it split into layers and was liquid. I tried different brands of coconut milk and nothing was working. So, I altered the recipe by doubling the gelatin and adding chia seeds. It is a bit of a combo of yogurt and chia pudding. I find it a little bland and am trying to figure out what I can add. Let me know if you have any ideas.

If anyone wants my recipe

3 cans light coconut milk shaken
2 Tb gelatin
I Tb sugar
Probiotics (you can use a store bought yogurt to start. I used 2 lactobacillus sp. Probiotic tablets for this batch . I will use this yogurt for starting the next)
1tsp inulin
8 Tb chia seeds

Mix gelatin with some of the coconut milk and set aside for 3 minutes
Pour the rest of the coconut milk in a pot. Heat over medium heat. Add gelatin mixture and sugar. Whisk while heating. Do not boil. (I am sorry, I don’t know the temperature)
Reserve ¼ c and pour the rest into yogurt maker containers. I use 8 6oz containers
Let cool to about 105 F or less.
Add probiotics and inulin to reserved fluid and mix well
Stir one spoonful of probiotic mixture into each container.
Heat in yogurt maker at 105F for 24 hrs
When done remove from maker. Add 1 Tb chia seeds to each container
Refrigerate until firm.

If it is still liquid add another Tb chia seeds to each and chill.

Weight watchers discourages saturated fats, but I find fat filling. I may change my mind, but for now I am eating many of the same foods, but smaller portions. I was at a conference today and used all my daily points by noon, but I can have eggs and veggies for dinner which is not many points.

From Keto to Weight Watchers

Image: blue circle containing letters WW vertically

I stopped keto in Dec. I thought I would get back to it after the New Year but I have been resisting. It is great for my glucose but I found the diet restrictive in food choices. It is sustainable for some. I am gaining back weight. I know someone involved in a MLM that is geared to weight loss, but it is very calorie restricting and you are supposed to purchase their food. I don’t think that would work for me.

I decided to give WW (Weight Watchers) a try. They have a digital plan that is the app, but I don’t know if I can do it on my own. So, I signed up for workshops + digital. It is more expensive but I think it will make me feel accountable. I signed up for 6 months. I am hoping I pick up enough to do it on my own or switch to the digital plan. They have lifetime memberships where if you lose and maintain your weight loss you can have access for free, but I don’t know how that works.

They give you some zero point foods. Mine are poultry, non starchy veggies and legumes. The more zero point foods you choose, the less total points you have to start with. It is pretty easy to track in the app and it is a little different than calorie counting. They guide you toward making healthier choices. You get points back for activity, drinking water and eating non starchy veggies.

I even went to lunch and the most points were for my iced tea. I had minestrone soup and salad. I normally would have eyed the pasta dishes but I wanted to have some points left over for dinner. There are no restrictions on what you can eat. I checked and a shot of liquor is 4 points (out of my 32 total). I went to a virtual meeting for beginners which was helpful. I am planning to go in person on Fri.

New Year, New Docs and Parenting Woes

Image man lying down on therapist couch

My health insurance changed in January. My primary care is the same, but I had to get a new therapist in January. I was approved continuation of care with my psychiatrist, but that fell throug, so I had to find a new psychiatrist, too.

I saw the new psychiatrist on Thursday. Fortunately, he did not want to change my medications. I have been on this combo for years. A friend had recommended a different doctor in the practice but he was booked up so they assigned me to this one. I googled and found him but did not get much information. He seems nice. He ordered refills. Our next appointment is over the phone next month.

I like my new therapist. He makes me think. I asked him what he meant by that article on brain hemispheres and he said just that you can change your thinking at any age.

My daughter is 23 and lives with us. She graduated college last year and plans to get her teaching credential. But, she has not applied, yet. She is afraid to learn to drive and is afraid of Covid. She has a job at the library. We drive her back and forth, which is okay. She just goes to work and home and spends a lot of time in her room.

My therapist suggested we are enabling her to avoid self awareness, and how satisfying is her life if she is isolating? Another thing that is making me wonder. I don’t go out much myself and I feel content. It is not out of fear, I am just fine at home. I mentioned her at a support group and they said we are enabling by driving her and that she may stay home until in her 30s. I don’t know what to think. She seems fine, rarely complains. We did not get along for years and we are in an okay place now.

I don’t know what we should be doing, if anything.

I have joined an art journaling group. It meets once a month. The teacher is a therapist, but it is not therapy. She just charges a donation. She brings up a subject for inspiration. This week she wanted us to bring light to Ukraine. We worked with mandalas which is a circle. I like the way mine turned out. I am not artistic but it is still enjoyable.

Image: blue and yellow circles with yellow heart and sunflower in center. Words: hope, support, power of love

I also joined an online journaling group. It disappeared and I thought they weren’t going to have it anymore, but it is back at a different time. It is enjoyable, too.

Brain Hemispheres and the Rest of My Week

Image Brain: colored hemispheres , right pink, left blue

My therapist emailed me this link on a man who learned late in life, through therapy,  how to use his right hemisphere and feel.  I asked why he sent it to me and he said he was sharing the importance of working with the right hemisphere. I am still confused.  Does he think I don’t use half my brain, that I am unfeeling? I see him Wednesday.  I am not sure if I should ask more or just let it go.

https://www.psychotherapynetworker.org/blog/details/1245/its-never-too-late

I have a cold. I took a test and thankfully it is not Covid. I left work early the other day and have been taking it easy. I will be fine before Monday.

I was contacted on LinkedIn to write something on anxiety for choosingtherapy.com.  I wrote a bit about coping skills.  I hope it is what they are looking for.  If anyone is interested in submitting a story,  this is the submission link https://www.choosingtherapy.com/share-your-story/

I don’t know if I have a psychiatrist. I have new insurance and mine is not on the provider list, but I filed for continuation of care which was approved. So, they agreed to cover him. Now, they are asking him to file more paperwork than he is comfortable with. They denied 2 claims. He is only charging me copays. He called my insurance provider , I called, but I have not heard anything yet. I am supposed to have an appointment this week but he will cancel if it is not covered. I did get the name of a psychiatrist on my insurance who is taking new patients but I don’t know much about him, except that he charges a lot if you don’t cancel 24 hours in advance.

My friend turned me on to a hair product. The company is Olaplex. My hair frizzes and it helps tame the curl. I am 57 and finally learning to manage my hair. My daughter has beautiful spiral curls. I just have waves but at least it is not frizzed. I don’t have any stock in the company and I am sure there are other similar products, I am just happy I found something that works for me. And, it goes with my showering habits. I wash my hair 1 x / week and shower without dealing with my hair in between.

They run support groups where I work. I asked about starting a harm reduction or moderation group or SMART Recovery, but they said they are full and they seemed to equate 12 steps with recovery with no other options. They said they will get back to me.

 

 

Trauma Responses

Image with Trauma Responses: Fight, Flight, Freeze and Fawn with features

We have all heard of the trauma responses Fight or Flight. But, what about Freeze and Fawn?

I grew up in a dysfunctional chaotic household. I never fought but I put the other responses into use.

I would freeze, get quiet, stay out of the way and try to be invisible to avoid any emotional or psychological abuse. It did work, in a way, but I was also overlooked.

I would fawn, people please to the point that I don’t know what I want. I sought external validation.I still don’t feel that I am good enough,

I would take flight and stay away from home as often as I could. I escaped into drugs and alcohol. If I could not physically get away, I would dissociate (space out).

Now, I am safe but old coping skills are hard to change. I have to make an effort to stay present, to think about my wants, to set boundaries.

 

 

What is one thing you have always wanted to do?

Image palm trees and water

I saw my therapist today telehealth. One thing he asked me was what do I do for fun or to relax. My knee jerk reaction was that I don’t know how, but I corrected myself. I am a couch potato but I enjoy computer games. I am happy on my couch with my dog typing right now. He asked what is one thing I have always wanted to do, for example, travel, and would I be disappointed if I never do it. I rarely travel, and would like to, but I don’t have a dream destination that I would be upset about not going. I can vacation in my backyard. We go on short overnight trips about an hour away that I enjoy.

It did get me thinking, though, I want to visit my sister in Boston when the weather is nicer. She suggested summer or fall, I have been there once when she first moved but it was a different house. She has a lake she likes to go to that I want to see. I can start planning that trip. My nephew is getting married out of the country but I don’t think I will go. I would like to but it won’t upset me not to be there. Just the coat is too much.

I have new health insurance and took a survey and the result said I am depressed but I feel fine. I am going to ignore that result.

I joined this zoom journaling group through the Mighty. I know everyone has a health condition, not sure if it is all mental health. They list prompts, give 10 minutes to write, share and then repeat. It goes for 3 hours but I leave early because I have another zoom, DBSA later. I feel like my writing is rainbows and puppy dogs and other people go deep. They are nice to me, I can’t go this week but I think I will continue. I know I have other emotions they just aren’t being prompted.

i zoomed with endocrinologist after therapist.My labs were good. I told her I stopped keto in dec and don’t want to go back to where I started but I don’t like logging food and counting carbs. She said I can visually see if my meals are less than 1/4 starchy carbs. I fill myself up with veggies. Beans are my main starchy food. I can do that.

I got a call from an old co worker. we worked at an activity center for adults with mental health issues. we have both moved on. he is now working at a new peer advocacy non profit, I don’t know if it is the grass looking greener. I am content where I am but get antsy when I am not busy I have a lot of down time that should change once I can get trained on some more tasks.