Tag Archives: therapy

Getting Better All The Time

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This is a big week. Catherine (my DIL) had an important interview yesterday, and Aaron presents his capstone project today. They graduate very soon, and I can’t believe they’ve been away at college four years already! I’m so excited about the changes they’ll see in their lives as they reap the benefits of their years of hard work ūüôā

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John’s got some excitement going on as well – tryouts on Monday for the position on tenors for next year’s marching band that he wants so much and has been practicing hard to earn.

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We had a wonderful Easter visit with Dad and Edie – my city dogs got to pretend they were farm dogs (except they were on long leads to prevent stupid and fatal mistakes) and we were able to sit and talk and laugh – something everyone needs more of. I got a second helping Wednesday night with a group of old friends, and then with Mom and Greg. Laughing until your face hurts is the way it ought to be done – and on a regular basis!

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After long talks with my physical and mental health care providers I’m moving in a new direction in the management of my pain and my overall personal health. I’ll be blogging about it in the months to come, but right now I’m taking the painful “before” pictures and taking careful notes on my daily activity limits, symptoms, and pain levels. Here’s a link to an old report about the tools I’ll be using. It’s from before they were even being tested on humans, let alone available to the public!

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My visit with my therapist was extremely productive this week – I just need to work a little harder on asking for and accepting help. I’m getting there, though!

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I can’t do long walks, but short ones are irresistible this time of year, with the perfect weather and all the plants and trees blooming. One of by top ten regrets with my disability is that I can’t walk our dogs. When I borrow a dog, though . . .

winnie

Isn’t she adorable? Some of the other pics from this walk went into the “before” file – namely the ones Michael shot from behind me – YIKES!!

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Please stop by and visit Dianna today at The Kennedy Adventures – I’m guest posting and sharing recipes!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Staying Alive – Living With Chronic Pain and Depression

I left intensive outpatient therapy one day early. I was told my insurance had approved me for ten days, but after nine days I felt I’d gotten all I could from the experience, and I could already tell from my pain level that I wouldn’t be able to make it in the next day, anyway. I went home with lofty goals about improving communication with everyone in my life, structuring my day, decreasing my isolation, and following up with an outpatient therapist, my psychiatrist, and a chronic pain support group. Yeah, right.

My pain is too unpredictable for a structured schedule – trying to do that only led to disappointment. I have improved communication with my husband, but he and my youngest son have their own issues to deal with since they found me after my attempted overdose. I’m a bit less isolated, because a couple of the women who were in my therapy group come over every Wednesday and we talk. I’ve made it to my therapist and psychiatrist appointments, but I have yet to go to a chronic pain support group meeting.

One thing I have realized (during therapy) is that I am horribly afraid that I am weak, and that my life will never be more productive than it is right now. I went to confession for the first time in twenty years, and found it very healing. The priest I spoke with was very understanding and supportive. He told me not to “waste my pain” – that’s what gave me the idea to write these posts, and perhaps provide support for others who suffered from chronic pain and/or depression. Unfortunately, the crisis that made me feel a greater need for a higher power has caused everyone else in my house to be “angry at God”.

My husband is working seven days a week, trying to afford groceries and gas is a struggle, and my phone rings every fifteen minutes all day long with people who want money. I’ve had an MRI of my thoracic and lumbar spine, but even now, two weeks later, I can’t get results. In other words, the chronic pain, depression, and feeling that I am a burden to my family are still issues that need attention in my life.

But I’m not giving up. I will savor my happy moments when I can, and stay strong through the crappy times with the help of my wonderful friends and family. If there is one thing this experience has taught me it’s that I have a better support system than 90% of the rest of the world. Count your blessings – there are more of them than you realize. All the visualization and letter-writing and treatments with acronyms I can’t remember later that’s what my outpatient therapy has boiled down to: counting your blessings.

This is the last in a series of seven¬†posts about my recent attempt to end my life. Here are links to the first,¬†second,¬†third, ¬†¬†fourth, fifth, and sixth. I’m sharing details and insights from my inpatient and outpatient experiences as well as my ongoing care.¬†Please feel free to comment, but realize I reserve the right to delete anything malicious.¬†And while Michael and I have chosen to be open about the incident I’d prefer anyone who knows my children “in real life” to respect their privacy and let them process this experience their own way, in their own time. ¬†I’ll be linking up each Wednesday to Pour Your Heart Out at Things I Can’t Say.

Intensive Outpatient Therapy

Once outside the locked-down unit I heaved a huge sigh of relief. I hadn’t thought any further than just getting out. Other people would mention “being upstairs” later, in group therapy, and they often spoke of it with longing. They said it felt peaceful and safe there. For me, not so much. And then the weekend at home was surreal. My house was full of friends and family and I felt very emotionally fragile. People brought food – which is totally one of my top “love languages“. Feed me and I feel loved. Some people wanted to talk about it (my best friend, who drove all the way from Atlanta with her husband for just a twenty-four hour stay) and some really didn’t. There was a UK basketball game on and I sat next to my mom and she told me every detail of every player’s life, his strengths and weaknesses, and kept up a running commentary on the game. We didn’t talk about the elephant in the room, and that was fine with both of us. It’s how we roll.

Then came Monday morning, and the start of outpatient therapy. I went with my notebook and pen, two ice packs in a cooler,scarves to hide the ice packs, my TENS unit, and extra pain pills and muscle relaxers. I only had to get through three hours, but that’s a long time when neck pain usually demands hourly lie-down breaks. I recognized one man who’d been “upstairs” with me, but everyone else already knew each other from the previous week. We had a schedule with a couple of breaks, and there was a recliner and even a sofa in the room, and a bathroom next door where I could apply my TENS unit. All my bases were covered.

There were forms to be filled out at the beginning and end of each day with goals, assessment of progress, yada, yada, yada. But the real start of the day was when someone read aloud from Believing in Myself, a wonderful daily meditation book that I bought a copy of as soon as I finished my two-week session because it was such a perfect start to the day. I keep it on my bedside table and read the one-page message for the day while I drink my coffee each morning. The first couple of mornings a charming and outgoing woman read, but then her sessions were over (decided by insurance companies, just like everything else in our lives). No one else seemed to be willing to read, so I volunteered. It warmed my heart when the next day several people said they’d particularly enjoyed my reading because I read with such emotion . . . so I read every day until I left the program ūüôā No matter what sort of group you’re in it feels good to have a role, no matter how minor.

Each day we discussed something different: the biology of depression, boundaries, self-esteem, trust, music as a therapeutic tool. The last portion of each day was labeled simply “group” on our schedules. People who wanted to talk could talk, and everyone else was encouraged to chime in with their thoughts. Confidentiality, of course, was essential, but the things some of these people – people who look and act just like you and me – had endured was horrifying. I felt perfectly comfortable telling my own story, and basically used “group” as a think-tank for my current day-to-day problems. Michael and John were hardly sleeping at all, and Michael was having full-blown panic attacks whenever I was out of his sight (even at group). My fellow patients had some marvelous suggestions.

Part of the beauty of our group was that everyone was so different, and yet so completely supportive of each other. We had people in their twenties to people in their sixties, a pretty equal gender distribution, many races, every marital status and financial status possible, high school dropouts to those with Masters’ degrees, and a wide range of employment, prior employment, and disabilities represented. We had people who could hardly stop talking, a man whose wife had told him not to talk, and a woman for whom each word spoken aloud was a painful battle. I didn’t want to leave. I couldn’t attend more than three days in a row without needing to stay home in bed a day because of the pain, but it was worth it. I didn’t want to leave. This was my safe and peaceful place. These people understood me, didn’t judge me, and weren’t afraid to tell me when I was lying to myself. Group therapy was when I truly started changing and healing.

This is the sixth in a series of seven posts about my recent attempt to end my life. Here are links to the¬†first,¬†second,¬†third, ¬†¬†fourth, and fifth. I’m sharing details and insights from my inpatient and outpatient experiences as well as my ongoing care.¬†Please feel free to comment, but realize I reserve the right to delete anything malicious.¬†And while Michael and I have chosen to be open about the incident I’d prefer anyone who knows my children “in real life” to respect their privacy and let them process this experience their own way, in their own time. ¬†I’ll be linking up each Wednesday to Pour Your Heart Out at Things I Can’t Say.

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