Getting Through Brief Dips

A couple of weeks ago I had a week that really sucked. Ok, not the whole week, but at least a few days. I was grumpy with PMS, I screwed up some writing I did, my house was a mess, and I was having a lot of anxiety. I was exhausted and overwhelmed and my inclination was to close the blinds, shut down, and hide. That’s not what I did, but it’s what I wanted to do.

I was in a “brief dip,” and I was uncomfortable.

My stepson’s counselor introduced me to the term “brief dip” a while back. It refers to when you’re facing some sort of challenge to the status quo and you have to deal with the discomfort of negative emotions. It’s learning to sit with those feelings, and feel them, without trying to stuff or ignore them. The counselor was talking about them in reference to my stepson, telling us how important it is to allow him to go through these brief dips without us intervening to fix things or telling him to get over it.

The concept of sitting with negative feelings and dealing with them rather thanDip sign stuffing, isn’t new to me. I learned a lot about it in treatment, and I have gotten better about putting it into practice. But, as I sat and listened to the counselor talk about it, I realized that the reason I had so much trouble with it (enough that it contributed to my active alcoholism) was that it was something I never learned when I was my stepson’s age.

When I was a kid, brief dips weren’t really allowed in my house. Either my parents fixed things for us kids, distracted us so we were able to ignore negative feelings, or told us to get over it. Any of you who read my blog regularly know that I don’t have a relationship with my family at all now, and that my relationship with my mom growing up was always contentious. However, I think that she did the best she could with the knowledge she had at the time; she just didn’t want any of us kids to be uncomfortable–ever. I get that now. That doesn’t mean that I don’t wish I had been taught to deal with my negative feelings earlier, but I don’t blame my mom for wanting her kids to feel happy all the time, I think that probably all parents want that.

That fact is though, that we can’t be happy all  the time, and I certainly wasn’t a couple of weeks ago. It was a crappy week, and I wanted to check out. The only upside was that now I have a name for times like that–brief dips. I like that because it reminds me that it isn’t permanent, or even long-lasting. It’s brief. And it’s just a dip, it’s not bottomless. I just had to deal with the feelings, continue to put one foot in front of the other, and keep going, and I would emerge on the other side. And that’s exactly what happened. Did I suffer a little while I was down? Yes (and I’m sure my husband and stepson did too). Do I wish that it hadn’t happened at all? Yes. But I’ve noticed that my brief dips are not as bad as they used to be, and I never stay down and depressed like I used to. That tells me that I am making progress, and that’s what counts.

 

 

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Sometimes You Need a Full Stop

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This time of year always seems to get me down. And 2015 isn’t proving to be any different. This time it started a little bit early, September instead of October, and it has lasted longer. Despite all of the good things that are happening in my life, I have been depressed and anxious, with some PTSD junk thrown in – just for some added fun. The funny thing is, intellectually, I am grateful and I realize that I really have nothing to be sad or down about. But it’s autumn, and my emotions seem to be winning the battle against my intellect.

In the past, when I have felt like this, I have done one of two things:  I either trudged on, suffering silently, with a smile on my face, until I had some sort of meltdown, or I got drunk. This time, in the interest of avoiding self-destruction, I decided to do things differently. I am choosing honesty, sobriety, and self-care. Imagine that! It sounds so healthy!

It’s really easy for me to say I’m fine, or I’m just peachy, when someone asks me how I am. So easy. Now though, when someone who I know cares about me (not the grocery store clerk or mere acquaintances) asks how I’m doing, I’m being honest. If my anxiety is up, I tell them. If I’m feeling depressed, I say it. And it works! Just getting the truth out of my head and acknowledged by someone else, takes some of the power away from what I’m feeling. I was also honest when I went to see my doctor a couple of weeks ago, which resulted in an adjustment to my medicine. In the past, I don’t think I would’ve done that. I think I would’ve opted to believe that the problem was with me, and that I had to figure out how to navigate it without any help.

Surprisingly, and oh so thankfully, my sobriety hasn’t been challenged at all this time. I am coming up on three years sober, and I am so grateful that I haven’t felt like drinking would make things better. It’s a miracle if you ask me! Knowing that I can make it through tough times without drinking is truly a blessing that comes from God. It’s grace, pure and simple.

The biggest part of me getting through this period of depression and anxiety is self-care.  This is something that I am still learning to do in recovery, but I recognized this time that it is essential. There are times that I need a full stop from outside stressors, and this is one of them. The difference is that in the past, I would never have admitted stop-sign-2that I needed it. I would’ve carried on, hoping the negative feelings would pass. What I did this time is take a month off of my job to work on myself. A leave of absence to take care of my mental health! I’m over a week in, and I still can’t believe that I put my well-being ahead of my job. This is huge!  My husband, my sponsor, and several friends have commented on how big of a change this is for me, and how great it is that I am doing this for myself. I was undecided about it for the first few days, but I realize now that they’re right. It’s what I need right now, and it is already helping me.

So, I am spending my time doing the things that feed my soul, and take care of my mind. I’m reading, writing, taking walks, talking to friends, baking, crafting, and napping. I’m listening to my body and my brain, and doing what I need to keep them healthy and sane. And you know what? It feels good!

I know that this cycle of depression will pass, it always has in the past. The difference this time is I’m doing what I can to help it go away. Honesty, sobriety, and self-care…and, just for now, a full stop.

 

 

If you need me, I’ll be hiding in my bathroom

This photo is a reenactment of an actual event.

This photo is a reenactment of an actual event.

It’s the middle of the day on a weekday, I don’t remember why it was that I wasn’t at work and my husband was, but for some reason I was home alone.  Well, I was alone except for my dogs.  I was doing normal things that I would do on a day off, laundry and cleaning and such.  As I remember, I was in a good mood, nothing weighing on me or worrying me; nothing bad or upsetting had happened recently to put me on edge.  We have a small patio outside our front door with a tall wood fence going around it and a gate that I always lock from the inside when I’m home.  The slats of the fence are too close together to see through, either in or out.  I was inside doing my thing and I heard a knocking on the gate.  Or rather, a normal person would have heard a knocking on the gate, what I heard was someone trying to break down the gate to come in and do God-knows-what to me.  So I did what seemed logical to me in the situation.  I quickly collected my dogs, ran into the bathroom, and hid in the bathtub until I was sure whoever it was had given up and gone away.  After the fact, that doesn’t seem quite so logical.  Why didn’t I look outside to see who it was?  It could have been a neighbor or a delivery man.  It could have been someone trying to sell me something or even the mailman.  Who knows?  I sure don’t because I was hiding in the freaking bathtub!

That little chain of events happened a couple of years ago.  And guess what?  I wasn’t drunk when it happened.  I was somehow triggered into fight or flight (fleeing to the bathtub counts!), because I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and sometimes my reactions to things aren’t always as rational as I would like them to be.  I don’t know what it was about that day that set me off, it hadn’t happened before and it hasn’t happened since.  My husband I joke about it these days, because, well, what else are you gonna do?

When I was diagnosed with PTSD while between my two stints in rehab for alcoholism, I was kind of surprised.  I suffered a rape when I was a teenager, and pretty severe physical, verbal and sexual abuse from my ex-husband, but at that time, I thought, like a lot of people, that PTSD was mainly a diagnosis bestowed upon veterans of wars, not us civilians.  It turns out that it’s not only combat veterans who suffer from PTSD.  According to statistics from the National Center for PTSD, a department of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, about 7 or 8% of the non-military population will have PTSD at some point in their lives, and women are more than twice as likely to develop it than men. Who knew?  I sure didn’t.

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There are lots of ways that PTSD makes itself known, flashbacks, nightmares, negative thoughts, hyper-vigilance, hyper-arousal.  I had all of those things to a degree, but for me, the worst of my symptoms were the flashbacks.  I could be busy doing something, even working, and BAM they would just hit me out of nowhere.  For those of you not familiar with PTSD or flashbacks, it’s not just like a passing thought about something that happened.  It’s like your reality has gone back in time and you are living through the trauma again.  It’s real.  It’s scary.  It’s unpredictable.  And it’s really hard to turn off.  It’s no wonder that many who suffer with PTSD turn to alcohol to try to drown out flashbacks and negative memories.  I tried that route, and it worked, until it didn’t.  At first it was an easy way to get those thoughts and scenarios out of my mind.  I would gladly suffer through a hangover if I could stop the thoughts for a while.  That, of course, led to my really extreme alcoholic drinking.  That’s when my anger came out.  Sufferers of PTSD tend to have anger issues due to suppressing their feelings for so long.  I always kept my anger in check unless I was drinking, and then the gloves were off!  My little, petite self became a brawler at the drop of a hat.  There were times that I fought whomever I was with in complete blackouts.  I didn’t even know what happened until I sobered up and was told the next day.  It is difficult for me to look back at that.  I have accepted that it is part of my past, and I have made amends to those who I can, but it’s still difficult.

The good news about this PTSD thing, is that there are some great treatments for it.  I have written about the fact that I take medication to treat my depression and PTSD, and that has made a huge difference in my life.  Being properly treated has saved me and I believe it was a huge help in removing my compulsion to drink.  I have done, and continue to do, a lot of therapy and step-work about my traumas and while emotional and exhausting, I’ve benefited greatly from it.  I also participated in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR).  I won’t even try to described what or how it works, but it does!!  Here’s how the EMDR Institute Inc. describes it:

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.  Repeated studies show that by using EMDR people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal.  EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma.  When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound.  If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes.  The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health.  If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes.

You can read more about the specific procedures and what the therapy sessions look like here, if you would like.

What EMDR did for me was take me out of the flashbacks.  When I think about the events that triggered my disorder, I no longer feel like it is happening all over again.  I recall everything that happened, but I don’t “feel”  it.  It has turned those memories into just that, memories.  I don’t have to live through the physical pain anymore.  That’s a miracle.

All of that said, I am clearly not cured!  I don’t think that all of my PTSD symptoms will ever be completely gone.  I still startle easily, am almost always super-aware of what’s going on around me and I am sometimes quick to become over-stimulated.  In restaurants I like to sit with my back against the wall so there aren’t people behind me, and I get nervous when there is someone walking behind me.  However, I have learned how to tell when my feelings are rational and when they are irrational, and I try to act accordingly.  And, believe it or not, I haven’t felt the need to hide in my bathtub for a long time!

If you, or someone you know is suffering from PTSD, please know that there is help out there, and that the odds are there is treatment that will really improve your quality of life.

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To medicate, or not to medicate…my thoughts on drugs

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Earlier this month I was asked to contribute to the “Talk About Your Medicines” awareness campaign established by the American Recall Center.  The ARC Center provides drug and medical device recall information alongside practical healthcare information and support.  Their aim is to make information about medications and medical devices easily accessible to the consumer, mine is to share my own experiences and opinions about taking medications.  My point of view is one of a dual-diagnosis alcoholic in recovery who takes psych drugs to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and chronic depression.

I know that this can be a controversial subject, I’ve been to AA meetings where discussions about this have gotten pretty heated.  So, I want to stress that I am not a doctor or therapist, and I am not being compensated for this post.  I don’t claim to know or have insight into what will work for others regarding medications.  I only know what has and hasn’t worked for me.  That is my disclaimer.  I hope that no matter which side of the fence you are on about taking medications, you will continue reading and let me know what you think.

I grew up in a household that used over the counter medications for things like headaches and allergies, and prescription medicine when antibiotics were recommended by the doctor.  Aside from that, I never really took anything.  It was during the 70’s and 80’s, before everyone was on an anti-depressant and anti-anxiety drugs were handed out like candy.  While I was a kid, I never knew anyone on psych meds except my Aunt who my mom thought was crazy because, as my mom said, “she was strung out on Valium.”  Looking back, my Aunt probably took her Valium as prescribed for anxiety, but it was unusual to know someone who did that, so it had to be crazy.

I never thought that I would grow up and have to be on medication for psychiatric conditions myself.  Nor did  I think that I would become an alcoholic.  Little did I know, those two things often go hand in hand.  I believe that I have suffered from PTSD since I was raped as a teenager.  My condition was exacerbated when I suffered physical abuse from my ex-husband.  Although I went through a few bouts of adolescent depression, I think my real, chronic depression started when I got close to thirty years old.  My conditions remained undiagnosed though, until after I went to treatment for alcoholism the first time.  That’s where the ‘hand in hand’ thing came into play.  I never considered the fact that I might need some psychiatric help, I just self-medicated with alcohol.  Again and again.  And it worked at first.  And then it didn’t.

When I got to treatment and had to go see a psychiatrist while I was there, I wasn’t quite sure why.  I knew that I had some issues – I was in rehab, for Pete’s sake – but I didn’t think they were psychiatric.  I thought that all of my issues were caused by my alcoholism, not the other way around.  So when the psychiatrist said that I needed Zoloft and Abilify for depression, I balked.  My primary care physician had prescribed Lexapro for me a couple of years prior when I was going through a divorce, and that had made me feel crazier, almost suicidal, and I didn’t want to go through that again.  I didn’t know at the time that suicidal thoughts and ideations can be a side effect of anti-depressants, so I just thought they didn’t work for me.  Still, while I was in treatment I agreed to try the Zoloft, but adding the Abilify was just too much for me to accept, so I refused it.  I left treatment with a bunch of new tools for dealing with sobriety, but not properly treated for my psych condition.  I didn’t want to be on medication, to be ‘strung-out’, or to be reliant on something (drugs) for my mental health.

Guess what happened?

Yep. You’ve got it…I drank again.

When my psych conditions showed up again, I went back to the thing that worked before – booze.  But it really no longer worked, it made things much, much worse – but that’s a post for another day.  I found myself trying to self-medicate with no success, so I made a second trip to treatment.  This time I was, as they say in AA, ready to go to any lengths for my sobriety.  And that included being honest with, and listening to, the suggestions from the psychiatrist.   This time I went in with an open mind when it came to medication (and other treatments, including intensive childhood work in therapy), and I decided that I would try what was recommended and see what happened.  This time, as the Zoloft didn’t seem to be working and Lexapro had made me feel suicidal, Effexor was prescribed.  That’s when I learned that for some forms of depression and PTSD,  SNRI’s (which Effexor is) work more effectively than SSRI’s do (which Zoloft and Lexapro are).  SNRI’s, or selective serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, work with serotonin and norepinephrine, while SSRI’s only affect serotonin levels.  This small difference made all the difference for me.  Within a short amount of time, I could tell that I was feeling better.

I was also prescribed Seroquel to take at night to help stabilize my mood.  Seroquel is an antipsychotic medicine, it works by changing the actions of chemicals in the brain.  It is often used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder,  which scared me a little, because I don’t have either of those.  But it is also used together with antidepressant medications to treat major depressive disorders.  The Effexor/Seroquel combination has been, and still is, working for me for the last two years.  I haven’t had the desire or the urge to drink to self-medicate.  I know that it is not the work of the medication alone that has kept me sober, it has taken a lot of self-awareness and step-work and therapy also, but once the medication helped balance my brain chemically, the other things became more and more effective and long-lasting.

So, my thoughts on taking psychiatric medications:

Do I think that medication, as a rule, is over-prescribed in the United States?  Yes.

Do I think that there is a stigma attached to taking psych meds?  Yes.

Do I think that taking medication is, or can be, a substitution for a healthy lifestyle?  No.

Do I think that taking medications, as prescribed, in addition to doing other healthy things (therapy, eating healthy, exercise, etc.), can greatly improve quality of life?  Yes.

Am I very careful that I don’t take medications that are not recommended for people in recovery (opiates, benzos, etc)?  YES!!!  Every doctor that I go to is aware that I am in recovery.  I will not take medication that jeopardizes my sobriety.

Do I want to continue to take medication for the rest of my life?  Not really, but I will if I need to.

I guess what it boils down to for me is this:  If I was diabetic, I would take insulin.  If I had cancer, I would do chemotherapy.  If I had epilepsy, I would take anti-seizure medication.  I do have PTSD and depression, why shouldn’t I take medication to help those illnesses?  I know that taking medication isn’t for everyone, nor should it be, but for me, at this point, it’s working, and I want it to keep working.  It is no longer something over which I feel ashamed or embarrassed.  It’s just a part of my physical make-up; something I do to take care of myself.  It took a little while to find what worked best for me, but it’s been so worth it!  No more self-medicating, and such a happier life.

I’m interested to know what you all think about this.  I would love to hear your comments.

 

 

 

 

 

October

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post.  I’m not completely sure why, I just haven’t felt much like writing, or doing anything else for that matter.  I am sober and everything is alright.  But everything is also not alright.  I am a depressive, recovering alcoholic and I’ve just been feeling down. Nothing bad has happened, nothing of real consequence anyway.  I just feel down and unmotivated for no real particular reason.

Except that it’s October.  The beginning of fall and winter is right around the corner.

This is not my favorite time of year.  At all.  I’ve known that for the last few years, but I’ve blamed it my birthday and the anniversary of ending a pregnancy seven years ago.

But now, I think, there may be other reasons…

Have you ever heard a song, or smelled a scent, or felt something that triggered a specific memory?  Like whenever I hear Billy Idol sing Mony, Mony, I am transported back to my very first concert when I was fourteen.  Or  when I smell cinnamon rolls, memories of my first real job at a bakery come flooding back.

It was like that the other morning.  I got up early, about 4:30, as I usually do.  I went to sit outside on the patio and have some coffee in my usual morning attire – a pair of Austin’s boxers and a t-shirt, and I realized that I was cold.  I later heard on the news that it was our coolest night since last Spring.  Anyway, I had to go inside and put on a robe to be comfortable outside.  As I sat there, in the cool morning air, memories started filling my head.  These weren’t great memories like concerts and cinnamon rolls, these were memories of bad things.  Bad things that have happened to me, and bad things that I have caused.  Something about the weather triggered an onslaught of scenarios of the past, and filled my heart with feelings of regret and sadness.  At first I didn’t understand it.  But as I wrote in my journal about these things, it became clear to me.  Many, many of the negative things I’ve been through have happened in the fall and winter.  Actually, as I’ve really thought about it, almost everything that I would consider “bad” has happened between October and February.  It’s when I did much of my active drinking and when most of my bad behavior happened.  It’s when I suffered rape as a teenager, it’s when I went off the rails and ended up in the looney-bin, it’s when I’ve been sick enough to go to rehab….twice.

So, is it really the time of year that is to blame for my depression?  I don’t know for sure, but it makes sense to me.  If a song can trigger a feeling, then why not the weather?

Austin and I talked a lot about it, and after he thought about it, he agreed that this may be the reason.  He talked about his feelings of fall and winter which are quite the opposite of mine.  He has many, happy memories that are triggered by the beginning of fall, it’s when he feels the most hopeful and happy.  So if it affects him in a positive way, then I guess it stands to reason that it can affect me in a negative way.

But now, what to do with this new-found realization that I’ve had about my third-quarter depression?  I’m still working on that.  I know that lying around watching every old episode of Monarch of the Glen hasn’t really helped much.  What is working (a little) is telling myself the truth: the past is over, I can’t change it, and I am a different, healthier person today.  I tell myself that my expectations that this time of year is going to be sad and hopeless, are really unfounded.  The time of year may bring up old stuff, but my attitude and how I deal with it is really the key to me backing away from the ledge of despair.  I don’t have to succumb to my emotions…I can put one foot in front of the other and keep doing the things that I need to.  And I can do so happily.  Knowing this now, I can, and do, find joy in each day no matter what the weatherman forecasts.

It’s still early in the season, we will have to see how things eventuate for me, but knowing now why it is that I get sad at this time of year will help me to combat the blues.  There is power in knowing.

October

I’d like a mulligan for May, please. (And Healthy Habit #6)

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I would like a do-over for the month of May.  Is that too much to ask?  It was a long, horrible, emotional month that I spent doing a whole lot of nothing (when I wasn’t busy being depressed and feeling sorry for myself).  I didn’t write much, I didn’t read much, I didn’t declutter anything, I didn’t finish my 4th step, and most of my Healthy Habits that I have been working on went by the wayside.  The month started off with my daughter’s 17th birthday, then Mother’s Day, and then her high school graduation, none of which I got to be a part of.  In the last six weeks, I have had six friends die (overdose, illnesses, and a car accident), and I am weary.  My husband’s 11 month contract for work was up at the end of April, and he hasn’t yet been able to find another job, so financial stresses are creeping back in.  And the whole month of May was windy.  I hate wind.

All of that being said, I am not looking for sympathy.  I’ve given myself quite enough of that, I think.  I am, as they say at meetings, ratting myself out.  I feel like I have to tell on myself because I haven’t been doing the things that I know I need to do to be healthy.  While I have been honest about my feelings of sadness and depression with those closest to me, I haven’t spoken up at meetings, and I haven’t really done anything to deal with my negative emotions, I’ve just been waiting for them to pass.  But they haven’t.  So consider this post my confession, the short version of my upcoming 5th step.

I’ve realized that I am playing on a slippery slope.  I haven’t wanted to drink (thank you, God), but I haven’t exactly been the poster child for sobriety.   Last night, after finding out that my friend died in a car accident  earlier in the day, I had a drinking dream.  I know that many recovering alcoholics have drinking dreams, but I haven’t had one for a very long time.  Honestly, it kind of threw me for a loop.  What does it mean?  Have I become complacent in sobriety?  Am I taking for granted that right now I don’t want to drink?  Have I chosen to place wallowing in my self-pity above my recovery?  I don’t know.  Maybe.  Probably though, it was just an anxiety dream that followed a really bad day.

What I am choosing to think though, is that it’s a wake-up call for me.  I want off the slippery slope and back to my previous, moving-in-the-right-direction, physical and emotional sobriety.  That isn’t going to come me if I just continue to wait for bad feelings to pass.  I have to get my butt back in gear and do the things that I know work for me.  That means more meetings, more writing, and more blog reading.  It means that I have to finish my 4th step and work on my healthy habits.  It means that I need to remember the things for which I’m grateful.  I can’t remember the last time I wrote a gratitude list.

So for June, I’m not going to try a new Healthy Habit.  I am going to focus on the habits that fell away during May, and get good at those again.  It’s my mulligan for 2014.  I know that I can’t really redo May, but I can make June a happier, healthier month.

 

 

 

 

The Day After

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Well, I made it through Christmas.  It has been a crazy month, with lots of ups and downs.  I haven’t written for a while, partly because it’s been a busy month, partly because I haven’t felt like it.  In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I suffered through some days of depression and self-pity.  As you know, I am estranged from my family and typically the holidays are tough times for me.  This one was no different when it comes to that.  But in other ways it was different, better even, than the last few years.

Going into the season I expected to have some sad, reflective days and I thought that there would be times in which I was hard on myself, remembering and reliving the ugly moments when I was drunk and self-absorbed, wishing that I could go back and change them.  Or, at the other end of the spectrum, remembering the happy holidays that I spent with my family.  I was pleasantly surprised, though, that there weren’t as many of those thoughts popping up as I expected.  While I found it hard to get into the Christmas spirit until a few days before, I didn’t spend nearly as much time and energy on negative thoughts as I suspected I would.  And when the thoughts did come up, I was mostly able to just sit with them.  I’m not saying that it was a completely pleasant experience, it wasn’t, believe me.  But as they came up, it was more like watching a movie than being the actor in one.  As the good memories of holidays past came up, I was able to smile and just remember without romanticizing and longing.  I felt a sense of gratitude that I was able to experience good times with my family.  Nothing can take those memories away from me.  When the bad thoughts came up it wasn’t as easy to remain a member of the movie-watching audience, my nature is to jump in as the star of the show.  But I was able to remind myself that those days have already happened and I can’t change their outcome, no matter how much I want to.  That made it easier to handle.  One thing I didn’t do is push the thoughts away.  I know that when I try to do that, it works for a little while, but then it doesn’t.  And when it stops working, the thoughts come back with such an overwhelming vengeance that I don’t have the capacity to handle them.  It’s an ugly mess and I know that’s not good for me.

All of that said, we had a beautiful Christmas.  It started very early – my stepson was up at 4:01 a.m. (I told him that anything before 4:00 a.m. was too early) to open presents and he was so excited.  It was really nice to see Christmas through a child’s eyes again.  Last year I got out of rehab a few days before Christmas, so we didn’t celebrate at all and I didn’t get to see him open any presents.  We had a nice, lazy, lego-filled morning, eating the homemade cinnamon rolls I made, and then headed off for a nap.  It was a relaxing day, I spent all of it in my pajamas, and I was happy.

Until the evening.  That’s when sadness crept in.  I miss my daughter.  A lot.  Even though I miss her every day, special days are harder to handle than the rest.  I spent some time in bed crying and feeling down, remembering holidays in the past and wondering what her Christmas was like this year.  I let the thoughts bounce around and I prayed, with fervor.  My prayers are usually either quiet and thoughtful, or they are more like conversations that I have with God.  The prayers I prayed on Christmas were passionate, emotional, demanding, almost aggressive (it’s ok though, God can handle my aggression).  I don’t know what will happen, but I know that after I prayed that way, I felt better.

So here we are the day after.  It was a nice holiday, but I’m glad that Christmas is over and I am looking forward to seeing what the new year brings.  I hope that all who read this had a wonderful holiday, full of peace and love.

Merry Christmas!