Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Long Post - Worth the Read!!

This article was read to us at UNI during one of our groups. It happened to be my last group there. I asked for a copy of it. It helped me a lot. While I did NOT grow up in a dysfunctional home there were many parts of the article that struck me! I realized that I am addicted to sadness. I'm not sure why or how long that has been going on (since I was little I would guess). It totally made me think of me and my depression in a new light. It has to do with the holidays but it's filled with such good info I thought I'd share it now. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. It's pretty long but it's well worth the read. Love to you all! Tami

Some Greenery From the Holiday Blues by John Bradshaw

I was an active alcoholic for mor than 20 years, and during that time the holidays were always a terrible time for me. I felt very blue, and from Thanksgiving to the third of January I would be deeply depressed and drinking heavily. Later, in sobriety, I became fascinated by the phenomenon of the holiday blues, wondering why so many people are unusually depressed, suicidal, and acting out their addictions at a time when the idea is to be jolly and rejoice and celebrate the good news.
Some of the blues that people feel at this time are perfectly healthy. Blues have to do with loss and longing. And as each new holiday season dawns; some losses have to be grieved. The first is the loss of childhood itself, with all its magic, excitement and wonder. There's the longing for loved ones who won't be with us this year because of death or distance. And every piece of Christmas music played magnifies a feeling of loss. There is no escaping it and within normal bounds, no reason to.
Some blues, however, are neurotic. Some people are simply addicted to sadness, and they use it to cover up other feelings, such as joy. I have evidence in my clinical archives of a phenonmenon called the sad child script. It results from a child having been disappoinged over and over again, or from the shaming of a child's excitement and joy - so much so that the only way to stay happy is to stay sad. It's a paradoxical solution: "If I never have any expectations, she says to herself, then I'll never be disappointed."
Another type of neurotic-blues phenomenon can be the sad-feeling racket. A feeling racket is family authorized and replaces other feelings. For example, a little girl might notice that when she's happy she gets no attention but when she's sick or down in some way, she gets loads of attention from her family. She may conclude that the pouting that worked so well at home will pay off everywhere in life.
Dysfunctional families specialize in sad feeling addiction and sad-feeling rackets. In many disfunctional families there are deep layers of unresolved grief from childhood pain and trauma. These traumas are maintained into adulthood. Traumatic memories often cluster from what has been called governing scenes. Very often the most traumatic governing scene of the family happened around the holidays. So when the person hears Christmas music, smells the scent of the pine tree, those scenes are immediately evoked. The person goes back into the scene of pain and unresolved sadness. This is why dysfunctional families will reenact those scenes during the holidays - the fights and tantrums with all the screaming and shouting that no one ever wanted - even despite the best intentions. Thus once again the holidays end in sadness and pain.
If you identify with any of these situations, I recommend that you take a few steps. First, allow yourself time to grieve the loss of the magic of childhood, and make a decision to allow the child in you to be present during this holiday season and to enjoy every minute of it. Take some time to grieve the people you love who are no longer with you. And if your family is separated or divorced, let yourself have the sadness over not being together anymore.
If you come from a dysfunctional family, the most important thing you can do is to understand what's happening. You may need to make a decision that you're going to do some work on that unresolved grief so that you can finish the unfinished business. And to just get through the holidays, there's more you can do. You can let the people with sad-child rackets be sad. Don't spoil their day by trying to cheer them up. You might even tell them something awful if you know that's the sort of thing that would please them most. And if your family is into sad-feeling rackets, limit your time with them. Make plans to get out of the house, or if you're visiting from out of town, arrange to stay in a hotel.
Last Christmas a client of mine made a list of 171 criticisms her mother was likely to make during a holiday visit. When her mother walked in the dorr the first thing she said was "your Christmas balls have dust on them." My client burst out laughing. This was one fault she had not thought of. The point is to get involved outside yourself this Christmas and take it all less seriously.
We need to lighten up during the holidays, so find some laughs for yourself. Avoid a multigenerational accident, and make your choice for a joyous holiday.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Safety Plan

The greatest thing that I learned up at UNI (the hospital that I was in) was to have a safety plan. I had never heard of such a thing but now that I know what it is I believe EVERYONE should have one regardless if they suffer from cronic depression/anxiety or whatever! Everyone gets frustrated at times and a little down too. Here's how a safety plan works. On a piece of paper list your warning signs (these are signs that something might happen like a breakdown). Then list your coping skills (anything that you like to do that will relieve the stresses), then list your contacts (people that you can call if you are in crisis mode and your coping skills haven't worked to calm you down...911 should be on there too!!)

I told the Doctor that I was going to make my safety plan all scrapbooky (is that really a word?). He thought that was a great idea because then it became MINE! I've use my safey plan almost everyday. I've become better aware of my warning signs.

Here's a sampling of some things on my safety plan.

Warning sins: being irritable, WANTING to eat when I'm not hungry, wanting to be alone (ALL the time), not wanting to get out of bed, yelling, crying, etc...
Coping skills: take Charlie for a walk, read a book, play piano, sing, take a drive, color or paint, sew more aprons, scrapbook, organize, lay down in bed, etc...
Contacts: I have listed several, close family members and friends. I also have a crisis line on there and if all else fails 911.

Go and make yours!! You won't be sorry you did!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I met with my counselor today. He's awesome. He met with me on Christmas Eve! I'm doing much better this week. Steve, my family and friends have been an amazing support system. I've seen so much good come from my stay at UNI already. Thank you for your love and support. It means the world to me. I went back to work on Monday. It went ok. I'm really not sure what to do about working there. I thought that I had made my decision but now I'm re-thinking things. Right now I'm just going to stay put until I have a reason to leave. It's been hard to try and focus on catching up at work and having that stress. AAAGGGGHHHH!! So many things to think about.

So before I forget I have to write about a couple of characters that totally made my stay at UNI one hilarious adventure. I won't use their names I'll just use their initial.

L - Oh man. What a guy! He looked at me one day and told me that he was satan and that he was going to create a new hell. Ummm...ok. I played along. But the next day he was Jesus and had his blanket wrapped around him like a robe. He even carried some scriptures around with him. He wore glasses with the tag still attached to the bridge. He snorted splenda off of the counter! I'm so not making this up.

Then there was R. He was a bitter, angry guy. I heard him asking the staff for a Book of Mormon. They gave him a military copy. I noticed that when we were in group or in the common room he would open it to the same page and smile. He never turned a page! Then I noticed that the magazines that Steve had brought me had pictures ripped out of them. It totally clicked! He'd been ripping out the pretty girls and slipping them in the Book of Mormon!! Oh my gosh! I saw him rip some picts out and put them in his shoe so he could sneak them to his room. He sat next to me one day and told me that I had a cute nose. WOW!!

I honestly felt like I was in prison. I'm glad that I only had to spend 3 days there. But I'm sitting here tonight on Christmas Eve and think about them. I hope that they aren't there. I hope that they are back at home and that they have support like I have. But I realize that is probably NOT the case. I'm sure that many are still there. I hope that they will have a happy Christmas.

I'm happy to be home. I've been so good about taking my meds. And I finally feel a change in me. Yea!! Thanks again for all the support you've shown me.

Friday, December 19, 2008

What a week!

I really can't believe that it will be a week ago tomorrow that my life totally changed for the better. It took me hitting rock bottom to figure some things out but I'm ok with that. Last Saturday I had a total and complete mental breakdown. Seriously, the kind you see in the movies. For those of you that know me it's hard to imagine I'm sure. I'm usually a happy person but over the last few months I have not been. My Dr. switched my meds a few months ago and what a mistake that was. I was taking Celexa and she switched me over to Cymbalta. I became a totally different person. Steve said that I was horrible to live with and that my depression was worse than it was when I wasn't taking meds. The crazy thing about this is that I totally thought that things were just fine. I didn't see the changes in me that others did. Last Saturday was my breaking point. It all got started over a dumb passport. I'm not kidding. That's how out of it I was. Loooonnngggg story short...I lost it and told Steve that I had taken a bunch of pills when I really hadn't. I wasn't suicidal by any means but I wanted him to know that I was hurting and that was the only way I could think of. He called 911 and the cops and paramedics came and took me to the hospital. I was at our local ER for 5 hours and then finally was transferred up to UNI. I'll tell you more about that later. This is just the beginning of my story and battle with SEVERE depression and anxiety. I'll post more VERY soon. Hopefully tonight. I can't wait to tell you about my stay at UNI. It's definately something to look forward to. Gotta run and cut Steve's hair now.