Lies and My Latest Counseling Appointment…

I’ve met with this guy twice. This week was my second visit, and I cried through the whole session. I don’t think I’m going back, but my tears aren’t why.

My crying felt good, actually. There was an issue I wanted to discuss – a lie I have believed – that I needed help navigating. I knew going in on Wednesday that there might be tears. So why did I even bother with makeup?!

I’ve been blaming myself for several years for something that wasn’t my fault. And I’ve known it wasn’t my fault – in my head. But my emotions didn’t agree, and I couldn’t shake the accusation and corresponding guilt. So I knew this was what I wanted to discuss at my counseling appointment. I wanted help with seeing the lie – I’m to blame – and replacing it with truth – I did the best I could and it’s not my fault.

My counselor heard my request, and prayed with me. He asked God to reveal the truth to me about the situation, and to replace the lie with the truth. (See Wikipedia: Theophostic Counseling).

I cried. Tears streamed from my closed eyes as I prayed along. I felt my head knowledge move to my heart; it’s not my fault; I did the best I could; God loves me and them completely, and longs to pour blessings on us, if I will only let go of my desire to control the situation.

I cried as these truths finally sank in. And that is exactly what I had hoped for from the therapy session. To replace the lies I was believing with the truth I was having a hard time accepting.

And then the counselor said that he thought there was more – another underlying lie that I was believing. And I balked.

I know the lie – I knew it was a lie even before I saw the therapist. I just wanted his help to move the truth from my head to my heart. I don’t want to go diving for more lies. This was a specific situation. In general, I don’t want my every thought to be traced back to my childhood. Which was good, by the way!

I know that I benefit from talk therapy, especially when I’m experiencing a depressive episode (which I currently am). I need a therapist who will listen to all the thoughts I express, take them and reflect them back to me in a way that makes sense. Put reason and logic and order to what feel like random depressive thoughts. I want a therapist who will say, “Depression sucks,” and then help me make sense of my feelings, put them into context for me.

I need therapy to accompany my medicine, especially when I’m fighting depression like I am right now. And I’ve been at this long enough to know what I need from my therapist.

And this latest guy isn’t it. He helped me with the issue I needed, but that’s all.

I need to find someone else.

Anxiety Revisited

So I got news yesterday that concerned me. No, more than concern. It brought worry and anxiety. My mind raced eighteen steps ahead in my worst-case-scenario storyline. It was not pretty.

I haven’t had anxiety for a long time, other than a single moment a few weeks ago. But that flash of anxiety was just that – a flash, momentary. It lasted long enough for me to recognize it, but my thoughts immediately turned to God’s truth, and the anxiety was gone – snap! – that fast.

This time, it’s lingering. I’m worried about something in the future that I can’t control. That’s where anxiety looks – ahead. Depression looks back. This is why it’s so important to stay in the current moment – so as not to entertain anxiety (future worry) or depression (past regrets).

Anyway, this fear for a future moment is for an inevitable event; I just don’t know when. And the not-knowing scares me.

Anxiety presents itself in my body in both my belly and my lungs. My stomach feels hollow, and it’s hard to catch my breath. It’s a physical reaction to an emotional response. My stomach hurts and I can’t breathe.

I hugged my husband tonight when he got home, and told him I was scared – he didn’t even ask about what. He knows what worries me, even though I’ve been careful not to dwell on the future or even express it. As if expressing it out loud could make it happen – which it can’t.

The sermon on Sunday was about peace. I’ll go back and review my notes, because I need them right now. I need the peace that Jesus brings. He says, “I leave the gift of peace with you—my peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts—instead, be courageous!” John 14:27 (TPT)

In other places in God’s Word, it says:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Colossians 3:15 (NASB)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭(NIV‬‬)

I was thinking about that word “guard.” God’s peace will guard my heart and my mind – will protect it, keep it from being attacked by outside forces. By anxious thoughts.

At this time of year, we celebrate that Jesus came as a baby. The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

May He reign in my heart and yours. Right now. Because we all need His Peace.

Emotions in Dreaming

Oh. I’m angry! So angry that I wouldn’t allow myself to go back to sleep. I’m tired enough, but afraid that the emotions swirling would carry over into the next dream, and I need to shake them from me!

I don’t think this has ever happened, at least not that I remember. Maybe as a baby, you know, when a baby wakes up crying and angry, but not as an adult. And I am so angry!

I’ve awakened in the middle of the night before and been afraid, after a horrible scary nightmare.  And I’ll reach over and find my husband’s hand and squeeze it to assure myself that the dream was not real, that I am truly safe in my bed under my cozy covers in my secure home, with no one chasing me or threatening me. And my fear has always melted pretty quickly. I can only think of one time where I actually had to wake my husband so he could hug the boogeyman away.

But this dream filled me with rage! I’ve rarely been so angry even in real life! And so helpless to the impossible situation!

I wanted to drift back to sleep right away, but my heart would start pounding and my stomach would begin churning and I could feel the angry tension rising, so I kept opening my eyes and taking deep slow breaths to calm myself. It wasn’t working, so I got up (4am) and made myself some chamomile tea and grabbed my laptop to type it all out. Then maybe I’ll be calm enough to fall back asleep.

Such an intense emotion. Anger. And I don’t handle anger all that well when I’m awake and alert in the middle of the day. Apparently, I am much more vulnerable in my sleep!

The Dream: I answered the doorbell to find several college-aged boys in pick-up trucks with furniture and ladders and wood. They barged into the kitchen and began measuring for the new cabinets they were going to install – in the most stupid place – next to the pantry doors! Then the girls arrived, with mattresses and bedding and brushes with white paint dripping from the bristles. They moved everything out of my childhood bedroom and began to move their mattresses in, plus climbed a ladder and were painting bright white around my posters on the wall, not even willing to match the paint with the white I already had! Apparently, the girl who was moving in was bringing a friend to move in with her – I learned this from the girls who had overtaken my room.

I was furious – who were these folks that thought they could just come in and rearrange my house? I tried to find the phone number for my landlord; I couldn’t, even though I somehow knew she was a very close friend. I wandered outside, to discover more girls settling into the side yard as some guys tore apart the wrap-around deck which overlooked the woods behind my house – the verdant green, lush forest of tall trees and deer and birds. They were going to extend the landscaped path to make room for the 20′ pool deck lounge chair they had. The new roommate was on the scene now, and I tried to stay calm as I asked her what the hell she thought she was doing! We were suddenly back into my bedroom – that’s when she told me we’d have to fit three full-sized beds in here. Wait! How?! There wasn’t any room to get between the beds, or to reach the closet. And now I was trapped in the far corner of the room.

But then I was walking down my childhood hallway and I stopped at my childhood bathroom to splash water on my face in an effort to regain my calm. I overheard the girls laughing at me and my confusion. Oooo, I got madder! I continued to my childhood kitchen, now full of guys on ladders, taking apart light fixtures and banging their hammers on the cupboards. I began frantically searching through cancelled checks, and finally located the landlord’s number at the top of one of them. But I couldn’t dial it – my hands were shaking badly and my fingers kept hitting the wrong buttons. I asked my sister to help me, but she walked past me on her way out the back door slider from my childhood dining room. Then my aunt appeared at the end of the kitchen counter, and took the phone from me and very calmly dialed the number.

When I got the landlord on the phone, it was clear she was talking to the girls in the other room on another line! So we’re complaining in her ears, she’s trying to answer each of us and talk us down, …

And that’s when I woke up. Full of rage at the uncontrollable circumstances! I became aware of my surroundings: I felt the cat lying down by my leg, I heard the kitten on the chair as he began playing with the pull-string of the floor lamp. I looked at the ceiling fan, and got my bearings in the bedroom. I tried to go back to sleep, but the rage kept rising, so here I am, typing it all out and chuckling as I see the different pieces from reality that morphed into my very upsetting dream.

The backyard woods were from across the street from our house in Florida, and the enormous lounge chair was from the pool in our Florida housing community; I’d been thinking about Florida when reading a friend’s Facebook post yesterday morning. My sister, who I just texted last evening. My aunt, who my mom mentioned in our weekly Friday phone call.  My childhood home in detail. The landscaped path – we had walked down a cool sidewalk in Philadelphia last weekend. Cancelled checks, which were in the box I was digging through earlier yesterday as I was looking for labels. The construction in the kitchen, and my husband has to finish some repair in the laundry room ceiling later today. I think I might have become my daughter in this dream – she used to live with her best friend (who is the landlord and just moved out a few weeks ago). I was asking my daughter about her last night, and how she’s adjusting to her new home. All of these features showed up in this very upsetting dream, but are mostly grounded in my last 24 hours.

So where did the rage come from? I’m not angry, nor have I been recently. Isn’t the purpose of dreaming to resolve unfinished emotions or conflict? I can relate the scenes and characters from this dream to my reality, but not the emotions.

What do you think it means? Well, you figure it out and tell me in the morning. I’m calm now and am going back to bed!

 

 

 

Out of Sorts

Friday – what a weird day after a long week. I feel discombobulated today – out of sorts. Perhaps a culmination of the past few days.

Saw my psych doc on Monday – my emotional scale scored better than last month’s, so that’s good. I’m pretty stable in the psych world, so don’t need to see him for two months. That’s progress.

Feeling frumpy: saw an ear-nose-throat doc and audiologist on Tuesday – 40+% hearing loss in each ear – prime candidate for hearing aids. I’m only 54 years old! Have gained 5 pounds so my clothes don’t fit right. Can’t read anything without my glasses on. Feeling sorry for myself. Need to figure out how to accept these changes and move on without discouragement. As I’ve said before (last time with humor:) – getting older isn’t for sissies! Paul talks about being content in all circumstances (Philippians 4:11) – not until today did I consider that might include ageing.

Got a haircut on Wednesday, but she didn’t listen and cut where I told her not to. Makes me miss Susie, who did my hair almost perfectly for 12+ years!

Had a good lunch with women from Book Club on Thursday – nice to be included. Took a relaxing nap during the afternoon thunderstorm. Reading a fantastic book for next month’s Book Club – I’m devouring The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Have had the book for 24 hours and am already on chapter 17!

Today is a lovely sunny day, but for some reason, it’s causing me to miss my Fort Myers house and pool and beach time. Sitting outside on my porch in Virginia is just not the same as on the lanai in Florida.

Leg pain has greatly abated – only hurts when I turn a certain way. So I won’t turn that direction! So glad to finally have relief, after weeks of severe pain.

Several friends going through really tough times. Have prayed hard for others all week, which is as it should be. Still, only one success story from them all – feels discouraging. So much pain and difficulty, and I am helpless to do anything. But praying is doing something – it’s allowing God to work. You go, God!

Missing my kids, my old friends. As always.

Need to remind myself that days like this happen to everyone. Just a funk. A week of ups and downs.

Tomorrow is Saturday – a lazy day, but includes dinner out with my husband to celebrate Mother’s Day. Then a new week. Glad this one is over soon.

Not depressed

I haven’t been depressed for a while. But I said it out loud today. “I’m not depressed.”

The move to Virginia certainly brought up feelings like depression – loneliness, fatigue, a little hopelessness. For me, that’s different from depression, which is lots of hopelessness.  But the transition of moving was hard, like a mild depression without all the full-on depression characteristics. I wondered if the feelings would intensify and change to depression. I think I lived with some fear that it would come back due to the move.

But today, in my psychiatrist’s office, I told him that I’m not depressed.

We’re going to reduce one of my meds, which makes me a little nervous, because it’s the med that brought me out of depression in the first place. But it has a weird side-effect – chewing. I chew my teeth together all the time; I’m grinding my teeth all day. In an effort to keep this from becoming a permanent motion, we’re cutting that anti-depressant in half. I’m a little nervous about it, about the depression returning without the full medication to keep it at bay. But I think I’m in a better place emotionally, and so I’m willing to give the reduction a try.

It’s nice to not be depressed. My days are full of light, not grayness.  I can hear when birds chirp – the finches found my feeder, and seeing them flit around gives me a brief joy. I don’t dread each day, which I had been doing after the move here. I have energy, and am seriously considering adding exercise back into my routine. This was never a workable plan when I was depressed: I knew I should exercise, but couldn’t work up the energy to do it. I still probably sleep too much – I nap almost every day because I have nothing better to do. But I’m sleeping well at night, so I’m not worried about it – I’m napping from boredom, not depression.  I’m eating and sleeping well. I look forward to seeing people. Looking forward – that’s not depression.

I still have brief bouts of sadness or anxiety, but can usually recover pretty quickly with prayer. Getting my eyes off myself and back onto the Lord – who He is, how He sees me and loves me – eases those emotions. When I was depressed, I couldn’t lift my eyes from my misery, and sure couldn’t see God in it.  I had to trust He was there, because I didn’t feel Him at all.  I depended on the truths I knew from Scripture about God’s goodness, because I didn’t sense it, didn’t believe it with my emotions. I had great friends reminding me of His presence and companionship, His faithfulness and care. That’s the emptiness of depression – so self-focused that I was unable to see God with me. Those negative emotions have lessened. Now it’s just occasional – normal – feelings.

It’s nice to feel normal.