Three Things About Therapy

Every Friday I walk across the street during my lunch break and sit and talk with my therapist for fifty minutes. My health insurance covers very little of the cost, making my therapy a large weekly expense. When weighed against everything else, though, it is absolutely worth it and something I very  much need.

There are three things people often bring up in opposition when they hear I go to therapy: it’s a waste of money and time, they have a personal hatred against therapy, and the granddaddy of them all: depression isn’t real/my “problems” aren’t real and therefore therapy could not possibly help me. I believe that people are entitled to these opinions. I believe I am also entitled to have my own opinion and do not allow people to foist their’s on to me. And yet, most people are not satisfied by that. They want me to accept their opinion as truth. Here’s what I think about that:

Number One: I don’t care if you think it’s a rip-off or a bunch of malarkey or a waste of time. If you want to talk me out of going to therapy, you’re wasting your time. Move along.

Number Two: I don’t care if you do or do not go to therapy. Ever. I am not trying to “convert” anyone. I don’t think it’s the “only way to live.” I choose to do it for me, but you’re not me! I recognize I am not any kind of authority on any one else’s emotional or mental well-being. Do what you will and be well.

Number Three: I don’t care if you think depression is a made up disease. Fine! You can think that all you want, but it doesn’t change the fact that I often go through periods of deep sadness and despair. I don’t care where you think it comes from or what you call it. The fact is that these depressed feelings are part of my life. They are there, I assure you. Quibbling over an explanation for them is not helpful to me at this time. I am purely interested in ways to cope, handle and deal with my depression in a practical way in order to live my life. Go have a rousing debate with some neuroscientists, psychiatrists and psychologists about the theoretical causes and treatments of depression. (Seriously, please do. Pull at those threads because I am coming out of some depression and don’t have the mental and emotional energy for that, but Lord knows the mind is a mystery and I totally support others exploring that mystery. I also understand if you’re good with the explanations we have and have no desire to explore – I feel you!)

No one is going to be talking anyone out of or into going to therapy, and my feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness are indisputable facts, regardless of what we call them or what has caused them, so let’s all just get along, okay?

Do what you will and be well. That is, after all, exactly what I’m trying to do.

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What I’ve Been Reading

So far in 2015 I’ve finished reading two books (“Yes, Please” by Amy Poehler, “California” by Edan Lepucki) and started a third (“Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel). I’m mildly impressed with this accomplishment, if I do say so myself. Based on my life right now, I am super proud of myself for making the time to read as much as I have. Now, if you told the me from fifteen, ten, even 5 years ago how many books I read so far in January and I answered “I finished one I had started in December, made it through one, and started another, but haven’t finished it, yet” I would seriously wonder what was wrong with me. Just ONE whole book in a MONTH? What happened to me? Am I in a coma? Why is my book consumption reduced to only one whole book in a month? OH, GOD, HAVE THE LIBRARIES CLOSED?!?!?

I’ll tell you what’s happened to me: I live with a boy and a dog.

It’s true! As few as 5 years ago, I was winding down for bed by reading a book, staying up late to finish a book, and spending Saturday afternoons reading. Now, I wind down for bed with husband and/or doggie snuggles, I don’t want to stay up late because that dog is getting up at 7am no matter what and Saturday afternoons are for the dog park. Let me state the obvious right now: I don’t know how people with babies/children do it. I bet they have NO time to read. That’s not true. I bet they read all the time, just not necessarily the books they want to read. And I bet they read the same books over and over. I bet people with babies have “Goodnight Moon” memorized.

I do not have “Goodnight Moon” memorized, but I did pull a few of my favorite quotes from the books I’ve read recently.

From Amy Poehler’s “Yes, Please”

  • “Rashida [Jones] share’s my obsession with miniature fake food.” (I also have an obssion with miniature fake food.)
  • “Calling people sweetheart makes most people enraged.” (Amen.)
  • “Finally, thank you, Dolly Parton. Just because.” (Dolly Parton is my hero.)

From Edan Lepucki’s “California”

  • “Time moved forward, but the mind was restless and stubborn, and it skipped to wherever it pleased, often to the past: backward, always backward.”
  •  “Cal filled his cup and drank it in one gulp, his Adam’s apple sliding up and down his neck. That Adam’s apple. He had once explained to Frida how Plato believed that the soul’s parts – it’s reason, its passion – were located all over the human body. Frida liked to imagine Cal’s soul, a sliver of it, residing in his slender neck, the jagged cliff that signified he was a man. He could never pull off drag with an Adam’s apple like that.”

I enjoyed both of these books very much. “Yes, Please” is a book, as Amy Poehler says “from the middle.” It’s the writing of a woman in the middle of her life, still very much figuring things out, but also sharing what she has lived through and done so far. “California” is extremely different in that it is fiction, first of all. Also, it’s set in the not-so distant dystopian future and has the secrets and mysteries of the TV show “Lost,” but with actual payoffs. It has great characters and kept me riveted. I read it entirely in one somewhat lengthy sitting.

I recommend both books and hope your reading journey is an enjoyable and easy one. (Don’t hold yourself to my ridiculous book consumption expectations. I shouldn’t be holding myself to them!)

Some Help

My Christmas decorations are down! And put away in the closet. Mostly thanks to my wonderful husband, with whom I shared my goal of getting that checked off the to-do list before February.

I cannot sing my husband’s praises enough, and honestly, I usually don’t. It’s hard sometimes to get past the negative and into a positive state of mind. We had a really hard time planning our wedding together and it took a toll on our relationship. It’s been hard to forgive and forget – for both of us. That being said, my man has done a hell of a job during the rebuilding process. He has been a champion. Through a lot of hard work, he has become an amazing and supportive listener and a true partner. I only hope I can show him the kind of selflessness he has shown me (especially the past few weeks).

I am so grateful to have someone to help me reach my goals, even if that goal is something as small as taking down the Christmas decor.

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This guy. Super grateful for him.

Sick Days

I fell down half a flight of metal stairs on Monday. On Wednesday, I slept eight hours, during the day. I guess my body needed a sick day to help heal the grapefruit sized bruise and knot on my thigh and the pulled muscle in my shoulder. I think my lady times and some emotional fatigue may have contributed.

All the sleeping led to the slightly saddening realization that I am not operating at 100%. But you know what? That’s ok! And I’m glad I had that wake up call to realize I’m not at the top of my game. All it took was a slip, a tumble and some bruising to knock me out for a whole day. Sure, those are things that a body does need rest and recovery from, but a whole day off? Oh man, I was definitely not at 100% before that fall, methinks. Now that I know, I can take it easy on myself. Be nice to Heidi and help her get back to 100%. It’s going to take a while, because there are things going on in life that I have FEELINGS about that will take a while to resolve. And I’m going to have FEELINGS about them the entire time. And that’s totally ok and normal. And of course I’m going to be at slightly less than 100% because of all these feels! Of course, I am.

So there you have it – wasn’t at 100%, had a fall, needed a sick day. Seems reasonable to me. Let’s all carry on, shall we?

Who is Morris Chestnut?

Morris Chestnut is two different things: an actor and my dog. Referring to the actor, IMDb describes Morris Chestnut as “a tall, handsome, versatile American actor.” He has been in The Best Man Holiday, Think Like a Man and Like Mike in addition to many other films. I am one hundred percent certain he came first and was Morris Chestnut long before my dog ever was. Regarding my dog, Morris Chestnut is a rescue, adopted by myself and my husband from the San Gabriel Valley Humane Society as our wedding gift to each other. He currently weighs 22 pounds and is thought to be a two year-old miniature golden-doodle. Prior to his adoption, the humane society was able to get his previous owner’s information and our doggie’s name from his microchip. They had named him Morris Chestnut. Or perhaps Morris Chestnut didn’t understand how to fill out the registration form for the microchip service and we have Morris Chestnut’s dog. Either way, the humane society used that name for him when they created an online profile for the dog on PetFinder.com, after his previous owners failed to respond or come get their dog. (I know! The jerks! Their loss, our gain!) We saw Morris Chestnut’s picture on PetFinder.com, we knew that was our dog, we adopted him and we kept the name. He already answered to Morris and we figured we should just stick with what worked and not worry about teaching him a new name. We also figured we wouldn’t have to go through the agonizing process of settling on the perfect dog name for him.* We think Morris Chestnut is a wonderful and humorous name for a tiny, white, fluffy poodle mix. 547 *Several months later, we did determine that the perfect dog name for him would have been Pup N Stuff, but try putting that on forms at the vet/groomer/trainer/doggie-daycare. Morris Chestnut Ballas is confusing enough.

A Hard Time

Some people I love very much are going through a very hard time. It affects me some, but in a more indirect way. Needless to say, I’m very concerned about my loved ones and I often find myself with a heavy heart or turning some less than pleasant thought over in my head. It’s rather distracting. I’ve been trying to let myself feel whatever it is I’m feeling, instead of denying what’s going on in my brain and my feels. I’ve found that if I avoid dealing with my feelings, they just overwhelm me in a bad way later on. So, I’m trying to acknowledge them and work through them in the moment, which leads to some moments that I hadn’t planned on allocating to self-care becoming ALL about self-care. As a result, I’ve been less productive in the traditional sense and haven’t checked very much off of my to-do list or worked very hard toward my current goals – most of my Christmas decorations are still up! But that’s ok. I’d rather feel not great, but in control of my feelings, and have Christmas decor still up than be a ticking time bomb of emotion liable to have a full-blown melt-down at any moment with a clean living room. I’m pretty sure my husband prefers it this way, too.

I’m at a place now where I need to start figuring out how to let myself feel my feelings and process them in a healthy way and maybe get a couple other things done in life, too. I’m going to work, the dog is being walked, I’m eating and my hygiene isn’t suffering, so that’s great! Being able to maintain some sense of a normal, productive life while processing so very hard feelings is HUGE for me and I’m very, very proud of that. But I also recognize that I need to keep moving forward, keep improving in this area. For instance, I’d love to being able to process my feelings in a healthy and constructive way AND get my Christmas decorations taken down and put away in a timely manner. I KNOW. DREAMING BIG, HERE, PEOPLE!

I feel kind of terrible about myself because that is NOT something I can do right now, but I also know that beating myself up isn’t going to help. In fact, it’s actually going to hinder my progress and weigh me down with unnecessary guilt. My name is Heidi and I have not been able to both process feelings in a healthy way with no emotional explosions AND clean up from Christmas. Fact. Truth. Not going to deny it. But I’m putting one foot in front of the other and every day I learn a little more (though not without great intention and effort). I believe that I will have the Christmas decor put away before February. And I believe that I can do it without pushing myself to the point of an emotional meltdown. I can balance self-care and productivity. And I will! It’s just going to take some work on my end. And I’m down to do the work.

Weekend Naps

I sleep a lot on the weekends and this most recent one was no exception. All the overtime, shopping, wrapping, decorating, playing, packing, cooking and baking from the past weeks had finally caught up to me. Last Tuesday and Wednesday, it was almost impossible to keep my eyes open at work. Wednesday we got out early and I took a nap, just so I could keep my eyes open until midnight. Thursday, I slept in and it was good. Friday, I had to be back at work. So I finished catching up on sleep and slept in on Saturday and Sunday, too. I slept all the sleeps. It was glorious.

You know who else was very sleepy this weekend? Morris Chestnut.

He enjoyed all the naps. In fact, there could have been MORE naps in his opinion, but that is because he is just a little dog.

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Look at that face!

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20150104_135309_1He is a little dog who requires all the snuggles and all our attention and all of our laps, please and thank you. We have no issues obliging. 😉