45. Slowing It Down

27 Dec 2017

Another therapy day today.

I’ve changed the bedding for Heart and Soul, to something using recycled paper. It’s a little more expensive, but cleanup is a lot easier and we use a a lot less bedding than before. These are hard recycled paper pellets, but the girls don’t seem worse off with it, so we should be sticking to it. It’s a little pricier than the paper option we’ve used in the past, but I’ve always felt a little guilty throwing away what is essentially virgin pulp paper just because the girls peed on it. Today’s therapy was at 1400, so I had an easier time making my way to the hospital. No taxi chases this time.

Therapy was lighter today. Perhaps lighter is the wrong word – it was a lot less intense. I’ve been feeling down the last week ever since the last session, where I had to approach my darkness, and the feelings of being of little worth have been back. Over the last week I’ve managed a few more nanoblock projects, and after the second such build, my mind was telling me to stop doing all these wasteful things, and get back to work. That I’m not productive, and that all these things are a waste of time. I’ve been doing pretty well with identifying my negative thoughts, and combating them with CBT (this is not a waste of time, this is my recuperation) but I was less able to do so this last week. This was a little distressing, as I felt like I was regressing. Or as I told my therapist, I felt like my mind was devolving again.

It’s gotten to a point where I recognise my worries and burdens returning to just-pre-depression levels. I’m concerned about work, about the future, about finances, about how I am as a father. I’m looking at myself and wondering where I’m making a difference. Basically all the same worries and concerns. It seems that approaching my dark side has made me start to get back in touch with all these issues. What made me feel a little dismayed is that the thoughts haven’t really gone away. Instead, they’ve only been ignored up till this point.

We talked about that for most of therapy. Along with that, we talked about my frustration with the boys, and uncovered that it was due to my feeling of being held down or held back by my responsibility to them. I don’t want to sacrifice my boys on the altar of my dreams. Meaning for example, I wouldn’t want to ask them to live with less than what we have, unless we’re forced into it, just because I want to work in an area that pays less. But what’s happened is that because I see that as a shackle that pulls me down, I end up being frustrated that they don’t see my sacrifice and make things easier by listening to my wife and me.

And at the same time, I spend impulsively.

There isn’t any other escape for this, that I can identify. I spend irresponsibly when the craving hits because I have a need to rebel against being held back. Even then it’s not anything major, but there are a few white elephants in the house that bear silent witness to my rebellion. My therapist asked me if there were other ways to have an outlet, but I can’t think of any that’s just as rebellious and yet safe. But she raised the possibility that if I find a job that I can live out my values, while being content, I would feel less like I’m being held back from doing what I want to do, and I should be able to feel less the need to rebel.

I hope she’s right…

I raised the stress that social media has on me as well, during this period. I want to give more to the boys and quite a bit of what I can give isn’t financial. But things like travelling for holidays, staycations, or even just a USS visit – these are things we can’t afford or can’t justify spending on. Even more so that I’m ill. I’ve had to stay off FB for a couple of days to prevent myself going into a bad tailspin. She reminded me not to compare, and I do know. But as I told her, the heart and the mind has a disconnect. She told me that it’s normal. My heart wants to be able to do all these things, but my mind knows that there’s a reality that I need to work within. For example, I want to be able to give my boys a holiday overseas this Christmas, but the reality is that I can’t. My heart needs to work out what it needs to let go of, and grieve over. She wants me to work this part out bit by bit as well.

We also talked about the issue of a job that would fit my values. After talking it over, it seems I’d prefer a job where people would smile after I’m done with them. That I can actually make some difference to someone’s life directly. I guess that’s where mental health advocacy holds a draw for me, as I know that I will be making a difference. But as God is my witness, I do not know how to and where to proceed. And now is still not the time for me to push ahead too aggressively.

In fact, this is where for the first time, I detected some small censure from my therapist. She told me that I had to slow down, and take a break. Weekly therapy is draining for me and it drains me in ways I’m not aware of. She wanted me to slow down, reflect, and see if anything new comes up over the next couple of weeks before I see her again.

I wanted her to know though, that my critical side and my dark side (so many sides right) have kinda lumped together and have been doing a number on my mind. That side of me wants me to heal faster. To start getting ready to work. To start getting back into all my roles and responsibilities. It’s expressing frustration at the pace of things, and every time I take time to recuperate explicitly, I can’t shake off the increasing guilt that it brings, whether it’s just a walk in the park, or whether it’s brick building. And I’m not able to respond properly.

My therapist wants me to simply sit and observe that side whenever the ideas start. Not to challenge, but to acknowledge, and to observe. Reflect. See what comes out of it. Where it comes from. Her censure was a gentle one – that I should not expect to heal something which has taken years and months to break. I guess I had that coming, and I thanked her for the reminder.

It’s a constant struggle these days, between thinking that I’m not really unwell and I just need to shape up, and descending into despondency when I realise that I’m kidding myself if I say I’m well. The added problem that hits home hard is that my creativity has come to a standstill with all these concerns. I’m not able to visualise my writing and my comics as I used to do, and I struggle to come up with something good. So I think it’s a good thing to stop fighting or debating these words in my head, but simply sitting on a bench and observing.

If I sound like I’m rambling, this is the confused mess that I’m in. I’m unsure of what’s going on, and where I’m going, and my therapist assures me that this is perfectly normal. As I pull at the knots and unravel them, the pieces that shake free make things even messier, and the big picture is a huge huge mess. She said that this is totally expected, and will continue for a while, even as we work through all the issues slowly. In other words, I can’t expect a quick recovery, now that the symptoms have been controlled. The message for today is slow, take it slow, slow it down, and look at myself. It ties in with God’s message to wait for His direction, so I guess I’ll have to listen.

For now, I’ll observe rather than fight, and keep myself safe. Do what I need to do to recuperate, and don’t blame myself. Continue to seek His will, continue to ask for strength and safety from Him.

In a way, my therapist was proven right. I wanted to go to the Botanic Gardens for a walk to clear my mind a little. Instead, this was the view that greeted me.

Whoa.

Fearing the rain, I decided to take a bus to somewhere quiet, and when I reached my destination, I was suddenly hit by a bout of extreme hunger. This was after I had a chicken chop for lunch, and cleaned the plate. I had two peach tarts at Delifrance, and even now I’m still a little hungry. I was shaking like a leaf for some time. In a way, this reinforced my therapist’s message for me today.

Slow. It. Down.

And observe.

Till then, slow it down. It’s OK to be sick. I must remember that. Until then, my therapist has told me that experiential stuff isn’t always something she’ll do, and that she wants me to rest and recover before the next one. I hope my frustrated self is OK with hearing that message, but I guess it also has no choice. Which is kind of nice, considering I can don’t choose.

I’ll slow it down, as far as I can.

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