Sunday, October 26, 2014

my half birthday

october 18th was my half birthday.

as some may recall, turning 25 was not my most favorite thing. the days leading up to turning 25 were difficult. i made my 25th birthday a good day with lots of opposite action. i really wanted to celebrate my 1/2 birthday with a cupcake and a movie or something else special, just to remind myself of how far i've come and how good i'm doing and that things in my life are good. but the day was clouded by very difficult situations and came and went without any recognition.

i've also been having a lot of trouble with seizures recently. i haven't had a seizure since june when i fell at church. now i've had many in the past two weeks that have lasted for 20-30 minutes and have changed in nature to where i don't feel better afterwards (usually i feel like a release has occurred) instead i feel extremely sleepy, tired, and drowsy. it is the strangest thing.

between the seizures and the difficult situations saturday the 18th was just about surviving. it is all a haze what i did that day. i'm sure there was lots of rest involved, a few errands, and processing of the events that had taken place.

i keep praying for help. praying that doctors will know how to help me. it's frustrating and upsetting to have setbacks like these, but i guess they are to be expected.

i have so much to be grateful for. and that's the note i will leave on.

1) i am grateful for family and friends who pray for me.
2) i am grateful for insurance and that i can see doctors.
3) i am grateful for candle light.
4) i am grateful that all of my needs and wants are met.
5) i am grateful that it's the holiday season!

Monday, October 20, 2014

four experiences

2 or 3 years ago me would be in the hospital after a week like last week.

it is a simple fact.

i have grown and changed and become much stronger than the person i once was.

as i was sitting on the floor in counseling today (the floor is very grounding for me and i sit there for my sessions 85% of the time) susan asked me what i had learned about myself from the experiences of last week.

looking her in the eye i said, "i have learned that i am a compassionate person. i am able to empathize with people at a deep level and i am strong."

those are qualities i never would have said about myself before without having feelings of shame and guilt rise. but as i spoke them i felt the truth of them and a sense of peace. i am allowed to be these things because i have gone through hell to become them.

while the experiences are important, i think what is more important are my responses to the experiences. here are some of the skills i used last week to help me make it through :

1) TIP - temperature (putting my face in ice water 4x's for 15 seconds) - intense exercise (taking a brisk 30 minute walk) - paced breathing (breathing in for 3 seconds and out for 5 to 6 seconds for 10 minutes) - repeating as needed. works faster than xanax to bring me from a heightened state of emotion dis-regulation back to a state of emotion regulation.

2) WISE MIND - a calm, collected, connected state, where my body, mind, and soul are all tuned in together and god speaks to me. this is when i receive the most inspiration for my life and the path i need to be taking. take 3 deep breaths to turn your mind inward, ask a question, and then quietly wait for the answer, all the while, focusing on your breath, in and out.

3) COACHING CALL - i called my counselor, susan, for a coaching call when i got stuck and overwhelmed and didn't know what to do. she guided me and helped me recognize some feelings of sadness and grief. she validated all i was doing and helped me stay in the moment.

4) PROS AND CONS - i did a pros and cons of acting on the urge to hurt myself when i was in a lot of distress. i talked myself through it and let myself know that ultimately the choice was mine but that if i did act on that urge i would be putting myself back and would have to do a lot of extra work in therapy. i weighed it against all of the skills i knew i could use and in the end decided not to hurt myself but use my skills and call for help. (go me!)

5) MINDFULNESS - i was mindful of the moment, taking things one thing at a time. it is easy to get overwhelmed, especially when things are not going well, but that's when i just have to focus on what is happening in the present moment and not project what is going to happen in the future. now means now. focus on now. be in the now. and that's what i did to survive.

6) RADICAL ACCEPTANCE - i radically accepted that reality has cause. reality is what it is. there were reasons words were said. there were reasons for loss. there were reasons for money spent. there were reasons for mission calls. it does NOT mean i have to like it. it does NOT mean i have to agree with it. it does NOT mean i have to be happy about it. it just means i have to accept it. so i did. and i breathed in and relaxed my body and said, "this is the way it is, i will accept it."

i prayed.

i also cried, a lot. 

that's not a skill but then again, maybe it is :)

today in our session susan said to me, "i don't know of ANY 25 year old who could've handled the past week with the 4 situations you had as well as you did. not nearly!" that's quite a compliment, as she's seen many, many people over the years.

i'm grateful for dbt. it's changed my life and has given my the skills to succeed.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

priceless gifts

i am beginning to understand the concept of 'priceless gifts' in my life.

gifts that are so meaningful they are honestly without value because the price of them is far too great it has no monetary value.

6 weeks ago i began having night terrors. they were awful. when i was young - 14 or 15 - i taught myself how to wake up from bad dreams. i didn't know then that the bad dreams i was experiencing were panic attacks at night. it was hard to do at first but as i practiced i got better. it is something i have had to use less frequently at different times in my life but in the past 6 weeks i have had to use it more frequently to wake me from the night terrors. the dreams have been awful and taunting and things in my real life that i am worried about twisted into haunting images. for weeks it was hard for me to remember what happened in my dreams and what happened in real life. i would get so confused. i saw my psychiatrist and he put me on a medication to help with my sleep and after the first week i have seen much improvement in the night terrors. if i'm having them, i don't remember them, which is good enough for me.

during this time i began to notice a feeling of sadness over missing mamaw. in dbt we learn that sadness is an emotion that helps us take a step back to look at what we are feeling and see how we are going to reorganize our life without the thing or person we once had. since mamaw has passed i have had different times of sadness. i guess this is another time of sadness where my emotions are telling me to stop and take a look at my life to see how i can better organize it without her in it.

i started a quilt made out of her pjs many, many months ago but was unable to finish it because i felt like finishing it meant i was finished grieving her passing - and i don't know if i will ever be fully finished grieving her loss. three weeks ago i remembered that mamaw had a guardian angel prayer book in her car and i thought that it would really help me to have one of those in my car to remind me of her. i also thought it would be comforting to have a rosary like she had because i know how much that part of her faith meant to her. my aunt e is incredible so i asked her if she wouldn't mind gathering those few items for me.

a week later i got such a delightful surprise in the mail! these three books came. aunt e told me that mamaw read them often and had a particular devotion to st theresa which i remembered. i felt so comforted having them and knowing that they were the same books mamaw held and prayed over many times. there is even a page 'dog-eared' and i love knowing that mamaw in all likelihood did that. 

and to my absolute delight i got a very special rosary. when aunt e told my grandpa, topper, that i wanted one he went back into his room and got out mamaw's favorite rosary and said i should have it and that she would've wanted me to have it. it is from italy and made out of fine stone - stone which i found out a week later glows in the dark. he told my dad later that it was the rosary she was praying on during her last days before she passed and is probably the last one she said the rosary on. i feel so blessed to have it. i have been sleeping with it in my bed every night. it has brought me immeasurable comfort knowing that she had it and that i now have something she valued so much. also, a gave me the 'worry rock' with an angel in it 3 years ago when i was living in my apartment and i immediately thought of mamaw because she was always rubbing her thumbs or hands and loved angels. both of these gifts have brought me so much peace and i feel very close to her.

when i got these items i felt courage rise in my heart and knew that finishing the quilt was not a sign that i was done grieving her passing. i have the right to grieve for as long as i need to. but i knew having the quilt would bring me a lot of comfort along with the new items i had just gotten. so i bought the rest of the fabric i needed and finished it that night. i have slept with it every night since and it has brought me so much peace and comfort too. it is soft and just the right length and weight and when i was ironing it the heat from the iron warmed the clothes and released the smells from them and i could smell her! it was such a tender moment. i felt so close to her and i just breathed in the moment, knowing that she loves me and that she has not forgotten about me.

mamaw loved angels. and i have wanted to get some angels for my car. it is on my to order list to buy these from natural life. i can't wait to add them to my comforting things.

a car visor clip

a car charm, it says 'guardian angel.'

there are so many priceless gifts in my life. i am just beginning to understand how incredible they really are. i am thankful for the ultimate priceless gift, my savior jesus christ.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

time keeps on slippin' away

how can it be almost 2 weeks since i last wrote?? my poor, neglected blog! i've missed it. seeing the home page is like coming home for me. it's such a comforting sight. in so many ways it's my baby. my hopes, dreams, fears, and secrets are on here for the world to see i suppose.

so much has happened in the past 2 weeks!

did i tell you that in august i welcomed my nephew, c, into my world of what was once only nieces?? here is a picture of me and him :)

 and then a week ago i welcomed nephew 2, i, into my world of nieces and now nephews! i couldn't be happier!

their moms are some of my closest friends and they have adopted me into their lives as "auntie rachel" and i love my role as auntie. these four beauties have made my life so grand since their entrance into it. i love them with all my heart and cherish each laugh, snuggle, word, and i love you. they are so much of my "life worth living."

i visited a very dear friend of mine today, a, who i had not seen in - gasp - 3 YEARS!! how time had slipped away i still cannot grasp. but we were so happy to see each other. she is a doll and i told her now we're really old being 25 and all ;)

some things that have been on my mind : s told me this a while ago and i wanted to share it with you.

3 things i cannot change : the past - the truth - and you.

that is wisdom. the past has been done. the truth has been said. and you have made your choices. 

in group therapy we have been learning about a metaphor for emotions. i am like a tall, sturdy tree with deep roots. emotions are the wind that run through my leaves and branches. i must let the wind (emotions) run through my branches and leaves while remaining steady (using skills and letting the emotions rise and fall in my body, not adding to them or taking away from them) and soon the wind will die down and pass (eventually emotions fade and leave me). it's really helped me to picture my emotions like this - not having control over me, but rather me having control over them.

below is a dbt meditation - called the loving kindness meditation - that susan has done with me in individual sessions and in group. it has helped me a lot when i'm in distress and is a beautiful reminder of how we can bring peace and harmony to our lives. try saying these words, one line at a time, while you breathe - therapeutically - in and out. 

loving kindness meditation

may i be peaceful
may i be happy
may i be free from inner and outer harm
may i live my life with ease
may i come to know freedom from suffering
may i care for myself with joy

s sent me this amazing TED talk on how to make changes in your life, starting with 'tiny habits.' i don't know about you but i can certainly do tiny things in my life :) it's brilliant and worth 17 minutes of your time. it's here.

and finally, s sent me this picture today, saying one of her patients drew it and s named it "princess rachel." i love it :)

happy friday eve!