Therapy Thoughts, Part One

I’m skipping the daily resource because my brain isn’t letting me focus well today. The ticking of ADHD checkboxes continues over here. My goal is to get tested before the end of the year.

But that’s not what I wanted to talk about. I want to try out a new feature where I talk about my experiences with therapy. I really want people to know what therapy is like, and while it’ll differ for everyone, I hope this helps if you’re considering therapy.

Yesterday, an old source of trauma found a new way to be awful. The good news is that it happened only a few hours before therapy, so from the moment it happened, I kept thinking, “Therapy cannot come soon enough.” I meet with my therapist every Monday afternoon, and I find that timing so helpful because it sets my week’s tone. Unfortunately, this week started with pain, and I know it will linger with me for a few days. It has potential to get worse, and I have no control over that. (I’m trying to be vague here. I don’t want to get into details.)

So, this week’s therapy appointment focused on two things: Fresh trauma and ADHD. My therapist gave me a place to vent my frustrations and hurt over the trauma, but she also gave me a place to think through the brain struggles I’ve been having.

See, I’m stuck. I have been for a few weeks. I’m so overwhelmed by my business and home and life that I make very little forward movement each day. I’m spinning in place, surrounded by tasks and unfinished projects, and I don’t know what to pull from where to get going. This, my therapist is convinced, is ADHD, and we talked about the possibility of getting tested and medicated. Because I’m currently angry with the pharmaceuticals industry, I’m not keen on being medicated for yet another condition, but I’m also digging a hole in this spot where I’m spinning.

This might not sound like a great ad for therapy, but without my therapist, I’d be even worse. I wouldn’t have the tools and the outside perspective to return to and consider to move me forward.

It’s worth it. That’s all I can think to say to wrap this up because my brain is being a weirdo.

Black Worry

My nephews got the family mouth.

The oldest will not hesitate to tell you what he thinks, just like his mom, like me, like his grandfather. He lives and works in Minneapolis with his dad. He’s an adult now with his fro and his snarky smile. He is a sensitive soul. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t hurt anyone unless they hurt the people he loves.

The youngest looks just like his White dad. He’s always trying to outwit everyone. As a toddler, he had the biggest head on the tiniest body. Watching him literally toddle down the hall was one of the last times I saw my grandmother laugh. He probably won’t remember her. He probably doesn’t know how much closer to our abducted ancestors she made us.

The middle nephew struggles because, far too often, he’s been told he isn’t wanted. He’s incredibly smart, witty as fuck, philosophical, funny, and determined. He’s also argumentative and a typical teenaged boy who doesn’t realize how much he’s suffered. He likes shoes, looking good, cars, and driving too fast.

Every night, I check a local Twitter account that reports what’s said on the police scanner. I’ve accepted that one of those tweets will be about my middle nephew. He’s already been pulled over at least once. He’s not even eighteen yet. Will he make it? Will the next officer know the difference between a taser and a gun? Will the next officer recognize him as the grandchild of a retired policeman? Will it make a difference?

Every day, I read the news. I worry one of the stories out of Minnesota will end up being my eldest nephew who knows he’s “the Blackest looking of the family.” My dad, the retired officer, taught us to comply. We’ve also been taught not to take any shit. What will my eldest nephew pick when he’s pulled over? What thing will the officer say to piss off my nephew? Will that kid able to keep his mouth shut? Will he fight for what’s right and for himself? Will either save his life?

Interrupting the regular broadcast

I planned to write about body movement today, but that post will have to wait until tomorrow. I’m too angry.

I am so beyond sick of White supremacy, toxic masculinity, entitlement, racism, and ignorance. I hoped Trump being out of office would tamp down some of the rancid shit he encouraged, but I see he was just an agent is this whole right-wing movement, and that our trajectory is still headed toward something catastrophic.

White men, step aside for a bit. I’m not attacking you or asking you to give anything up. I’m just asking you to step aside and listen. Stop putting yourselves first for a change. And don’t “not all men” me. That’s not stepping aside. That’s centering yourselves yet again.

Or better . . . do center yourselves as a source of the problem. If you personally aren’t sexually harassing or harming women or other people, what are you doing to stop the other dudes around you from doing it? You do realize that women can’t stop misogyny, right? You do know that BIPOC cannot stop racism, right? It’s. On. YOU. White women, you too. You don’t get a pass either.

Folks have spent the last several years trying damn near everything just to get y’all to listen, and you keep shrugging or doing the minimum. At what point do you say, “How am I part of the problem?” At what point do you put aside your ego and stop being so fucking defensive? We only need you to see your role the problem for two fucking seconds for there to be real change.

Like I said to a student once, “You may not be racist, but you might be contributing to systems that are.” I know full well that I have, and I’m doing my best to change and take responsibility for my fuck ups. So, join me, yeah? You might not be sexist, misogynist, hateful, violent, or cruel, but you might be inadvertently contributing to cultures that are. When are you going to be willing to recognize your role and make a fucking change?

I’m Full of Letters

I wish that meant I was full of Dutch letters, but it’s not.

I have:

  • GERD, which is gastroesophageal reflux disease. It’s terrible acid reflux
  • PMDD or Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
  • GAD or generalized anxiety disorder
  • HBP or high blood pressure

And other non-acronym issues, but the latest possibility threw me for a loop.

A couple friends suggested I might have ADHD. While that thought has crossed my mind, I never put much behind it. When my friends suggested it, I did more research, then slipped into my favorite hypochondriac mode. Yay. More letters to self-diagnose. Wheeeeee!

So, I asked my therapist. This is how that conversation went.

Me: “So, yeah, a few friends have mentioned I might have ADHD–“

Therapist: *face lights up with recognition and urgency*

Me: *internally, ah fuck*

I know that look from my therapist. It’s the “I had that thought, too, and I’ve been meaning to tell you” look, which is exactly what followed when I was done explaining my thoughts.

Of course, I’ve not been officially diagnosed, and I’m not sure I ever will. I don’t have health insurance, and I have no desire to be on another medication. Plus, if I’ve gotten this far in life, I can continue to cope.

But I admit I was pretty upset yesterday, and I spent the whole day in a fog of processing.

I trust my brain. But adding another mental health concern made me feel like an unreliable narrator. Was my brain leading my down the wrong paths, and everyone around me has always just placated and tolerated my whims and ramblings? How can a person have anxiety, depression, PMDD, and ADHD and have a single clear thought?

Turns out, the additional part of being upset was a realization that I judge ADHD sufferers harshly. That wasn’t a nice thing to have thrown in my face in the way it was.

However, I have had multiple friends (women, specifically) tell me they also have ADHD, and suddenly, I had my biases challenged in the best way possible: People I love have are full of letters too.

Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

My Body Is a Clusterfuck

That’s a mean thing to say about my body, so let me backtrack. Of late, my body has felt like a clusterfuck, but it still gets me up and down the stairs. I’m lucky in that sense.

It’s been a difficult time in my family. One of my mom’s physical and mental health are declining. It’s not a surprise, but it’s nonetheless painful to watch from afar.

We have a close family both in proximity and emotionally. Even my Trumper sister lives within a few miles of us and I still talk to her a few times a year. If we weren’t in a pandemic, it would be more often. However, I do thank the pandemic for keeping us apart because there would’ve been several harsh words said over the last year had we been around one another.

Pre-pandemic, my family got together often. We used to get together monthly, but as my nieces and nephews grew into teenagers and now adults, it was less frequent. Still, a bunch of us still talk every day via text and phone call, and we lean on each other for a great deal of support. We’re fortunate to have one another.

To watch Mom decline is the single hardest thing we’ve done as a family. Not being able to be together is gut wrenching. It’s hard to write this without tears. I haven’t hugged my parents in a year. I live point two miles from them, and the closest I’ve been to my childhood home is the deck. I can’t go in. The slightest chance that I might transmit COVID to my beautiful, flawed parents horrifies me.

But the very act of staying away from them, staying home, and watching my parents stay home is the same thing that’s causing Mom’s health decline. My parents desperately miss their grandchildren. They aren’t nearly as active as they were before the pandemic, and that’s saying a lot because my mom is a homebody as it is. (Dad is super active, but there’s only so much he can do anymore, as we keep having to remind him.) My mom’s body has informed her this level of inactivity is not good for her. She has several health conditions that exacerbate things.

And so do I.

Thursday, I told my chiropractor about a pain I’ve had in my lower back for months. I’m usually very upfront with him, but my attempts to tell him previously weren’t as direct as I needed to be. I pointedly told him exactly what was going on: If I lay flat for longer than 30 seconds, I get an excruciating pain in my lower back and hip that makes getting back up agony; if I stand for longer than 20 minutes (say to shower, do chores, etc.), my lower back and butt ache, then go numb. It takes sitting for the feeling to come back. Basically, there’s some jamming going on between my spine and pelvis, and it ain’t good.

He introduced me to some movements to help, but as I did one last night, I realized too late I’d done it wrong. The pain was so bad that it took me several minutes to even get upright. The pain carried on into the night. I eased my way out of bed around 1:30 a.m. and took Aleve. I was able to sleep, but this morning, I hurt. It feels like I got punched in one spot several times.

This is one of many ailments that have gotten worse during the pandemic:

  • I’ve gained a lot of weight, like everyone else. Except I don’t have anywhere to put this weight. My body was already suffering in its previous size.
  • I’m eating whatever I want, which is making my GERD worse.
  • My attention span is gone.
  • My social media and phone addictions are dominating my life.
  • Depression, anxiety, and PMDD converged in February to make life miserable.

The only good news is I think I’ve emerged from the latest bout of insomnia followed by hypersomnia, and my sleeping is leveling out.

All the while this is happening, I’ve been focusing on learning about my body. I’ve studied Health at Every Size, intuitive eating, mindful eating, mindful movement, intuitive movement, and self-compassion all with the goals of body acceptance. But what I’m stuck on is body size. And this is the same battle my mom is facing.

Most of the women in our family are big. You get Black and Indian together, big is gonna happen in the women. It’s how we’re built. But you add trauma, stress, and unchecked mental health issues, it’s gonna be worse. Mental health wasn’t even a thought in my family until the last ten years or so. But trauma? Abuse? Stress? We’ve had it all.

No one knows the harder side of life better than my mom. And life continues to pile on for her.

But I watch as I’m headed in the same direction she is. And it terrifies me.

I’m not an active person. Movement has been my nemesis since I long associated it with the rich, mean kids in second grade. I like sitting. I like comfort. Nothing is more desirable to me than sitting under a blanket and drinking chai.

But I don’t want to put my loved ones through what we’re going through with my mom. While a lot of what has gone on in her life is out of her control, I still see some measure of ability to change mine.

My question is: Will I?

7/28/2020: Behind the Scenes at Whole Damn Woman

Today is the first time I’m beta-testing Unlearning 101, and I am nervous as hell. I always get nervous for the “first class” in any setting, but this one is different. This is the first time I’ve created the content from the ground up. I don’t have a textbook to lean on. I don’t have an administrator popping in to my classroom to give me the typical “you can do it” pep talk. I *do* have an IT guy making sure all the equipment is go (thanks, Hubster!). But I’ve never been so invested in something I’ve created.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m SUPER excited! If this works as I want it to, I truly believe this is it. This is what I was meant to do. Even if it doesn’t work, I’ll be discouraged, but then I’ll get back to it because I’ve never felt so locked in and loving toward something I’ve created, not even my novel (which is still there; I’ll finish it eventually).

I never thought I’d be a business owner. Not once. I was always convinced business was not for me. I scoffed at business majors. Now I’m like . . . shit, I should’ve been paying attention.

Every personality test I’ve ever taken said I’d make a great CEO, and I laughed or was confused each time. Now, it’s real. I’m not sure I’ll ever refer to myself as CEO. That’s just weird. But Whole Damn Woman is (so far) everything I wanted it to be. I just hope others love it as much as I do.

EEP! 🙂

Silence

Since the Black Lives Matter protests began, two sayings floated around: “Silence is violence” and “Silence means you’re complicit.” I want to add one.

Silence hurts.

Since June 1st, I’ve sent emails, Instagram direct messages, and texts asking my friends, loved ones, and colleagues to speak up, if they haven’t already. Some of those people gave nothing.

It’s not merely the silence that hurts. It’s the disregard. None of them have asked if I’m safe. None have asked if my family is safe. None have expressed shock or outrage over how George Floyd and countless other Black Americans have died. None have even said, “All lives matter” or “Make America Great Again,” which would at least let me know where they stand.

It’s total silence.

I know some are pretending the world is fine. Some don’t know what to say. But saying anything is better than silence. What’s wrong with saying, “I don’t know what to say”?

Sometimes, people need time to reflect, and I respect that. Though it feels like we’re into our fifth year of 2020, it’s only been seven days since I sent my first request for something other than silence. I and people like me have felt every emotion in those seven days. We’ve screamed louder than ever. We’ve shared resources, ideas, thoughts, tears . . . and yet, silence.

I woke up this morning feeling nothing but hurt. I am safe in my home. I am loved and protected. I am comfortable.

But all I wanted was for those folks to break that silence.

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