My PTSD

I first started seeking help for my mental health in 2011 when I said to my parents, “I think I have depression.” My father then revealed to me that he has depression (something he has been successfully managing since 2013!) and mental illness is frequent in our family.

A year ago, in February of 2016, I saw my third therapist: a trauma counsellor with a focus on spirituality, psychosomatic medicine, and cognitive behaviour therapy. She was a fantastic fit. I can’t stress enough how therapy is most successful if you have a therapist who actually helps you.

I had seen two other therapists who specialised in treating depression, and though I could have gone on antidepressants (I fully support them!), I didn’t feel right. I didn’t feel like I was being treated the way I should have. I didn’t feel like depression was the end of my mental health struggles. I felt like there was more that I needed to figure out.

During the standard first meeting with my most recent therapist, she instructed me to get comfortable. In retrospect, when she saw me assume the Lotus Position in my socked feet, she knew exactly how to approach my treatment. I remember having doubts about how successful our work would be, and she challenged that. While sitting on the couch, I told her in detail about my life and the experiences that mattered to me. She told me I have posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and that it might be complex posttraumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD). She told me how a traumatic life, specifically childhood, can lead to PTSD in adulthood.

Everything clicked for me. It made sense: I wasn’t just depressed. I was traumatised over decades. I developed PTSD.

Often, I feel like saying I have PTSD is a sham. I’m not a military vet, I didn’t grow up in a war-torn country, and I haven’t experienced sexual assault. There are so many “poster child” representations of PTSD that feel more valid to me than my own—hence why complex-posttraumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) has been proposed. I grew up and experienced more frequent trauma, on average, than people my age.

But I still have PTSD. I say PTSD for simplicity’s sake, though it’s really C-PTSD. I haven’t found much difference between the two for me personally, but I know others have a different experience with PTSD and C-PTSD.

So that’s why I’m writing this post: to share my experiences with my mental illness.

My PTSD and experience with it mean that I am…

  • prone to violent anger.
  • prone to psychotic episodes, where I can’t discern reality from imagination, dreams, hallucinations, or delusions.
  • unable to regulate emotions, particularly strong emotions.
  • afraid of developing dependency on substances like alcohol and strong painkillers.
  • terrible at sleeping normally.
  • terrible at remembering things without having a record of them.
  • dissociating frequently from my body, to the point where I can wake up, go through an entire day, and not remember what happened by the time I’m in bed again.
  • triggered when events, sounds, and images are similar to the traumas I’ve experienced.
  • unpredictable and a lot to handle emotionally and mentally, especially for myself.
  • comorbidly suffering from depression and anxiety.
  • struggling with grief.
  • suicidal and ideating suicide more often than not.
  • controlling, with very specific preferences.

Like all mental disorders and illnesses, it’s impossible for me to separate myself from mine. I have PTSD, and I expect the rest of my life will be a journey of coping, surviving, and managing my mental illness. I have lots of resources and good methods for working through it, but I’m always struggling.

Therapy Diary: Mindfulness

Blue and white paint splattered and dripping down a black wall.

When I was in therapy last year, my counsellor told me that the goal for our sessions would be creating mindfulness. There were a number of ways we worked through being aware of my body and my emotions. Because my PTSD is very dissociative, it means there’s a mind-emotion-body disconnect. I often feel “outside” of myself in varying ways. Sometimes I am a floating balloon being held by my body. Sometimes I am a suitcase being dragged. Dissociation is a beast in itself and I wrote a short blog post on it a few months ago. This post acts as a bit of a follow-up.

Along with the exercises we did, such as identifying where an emotion existed in the body and describing it (anger being in my throat, or despair being in my belly—that kind of thing), I use or have used these tools to become more aware and mindful of my entire existence:

  • journalling
  • yoga
  • meditation
  • tarot reading

I don’t journal as much as I used to while I was in therapy. I think this is because I’ve gotten better at being mindful/aware/in-tune/etc. Journalling was a very explicit way of creating awareness of my emotions and my body, and the relationship between the two.

These days, I lean toward yoga, meditation, and tarot reading. The yoga helps with my mind-body connection, with a focus on my body and how it connects within itself. The meditation points me toward the relationship between my mind and body while emphasising my emotions, feelings, and thoughts.

Tarot reading is a new one, though. I grasp onto symbols and metaphors, and that’s all tarot is. I don’t use a classic tarot deck, with Major Arcana and whatnot. Instead, I use regular 52-card playing cards with numbers and suits. There’s an additional layer of abstraction with these cards. The symbols and metaphors come from interpretation of the numbers and the suits. Instead of seeing a moon or a sun, I have to consider my own intuition and understanding for the numbers and suits.

When it comes to the tarot reading, I do a combination of reading cards for in-depth interpretation of a single card, or I do a self-reading with a 3- or 4-card spread. Some spreads require a question to answer, and others are assessment or guidance spreads. I don’t read the cards for prophecy or fortune-telling. I read them so there’s somewhere I can project my worries, concerns, desires, and intuitions.

On the whole, creating mindfulness has been the key to lessening my dissociative states—whether by frequency or intensity. I have been plagued by a constant disconnect between my mind and body because connecting the two was dangerous during my traumatic childhood. There’s been a lot of learning, trial and error, and patience involved. I have to constantly work in order to hinder the PTSD from dictating my life, but I’m finding ways that let me progress.

I’m Not Doing Great

This is a spontaneous blog post.

But I’m not doing the greatest lately. I’d say since my rabbit died. PTSD makes events like death, loss of other forms, and stress a whole heap harder. This hasn’t been my first grief and mourning. That’s probably what makes it hard. My sadness has been compounded.

And I am one of little faith. It’s hard for me to hear the phrases, “They’re in a better place now,” and feel comfort. I struggle to be a spiritual person, despite the fact that I know it helps me. Not religion–never religion. But spirituality… I need it. And I haven’t been able to practise it in any way.

I’m trying to find places to lay blame. Sources where I can say, “Yes, if I stop this, it’ll stop the flow of horrible lethargy.” But the thing is, there are no sources outside of my head. It’s all in my head. It’s all going on in the mush in my skull. My boyfriend is on anti-depressants and thinks they would benefit me.

I don’t think anti-depressants would help me.

The ball-and-chain isn’t just the lethargy. It’s a long metal linkage of trauma, paranoia, hallucinations, forgetfulness, depression, and lethargy.

I’d go back to therapy, but it was offered through my school. And I’m no longer in school. I don’t think I have the funds to seek out additional therapy–and let’s be real here, I don’t want to have to unpack two decades of crap again to someone who might not be helpful.

I’m trying to remember the things I learned from therapy. I’m trying to remember the things that helped me. I’m trying to remember that I have the tools to get better. I’m trying to remember. I’m trying to remember how it feels to be a person again. I’m trying to feel okay again.

15 Months of Birth Control And Why I Stopped

I started oral contraceptives—birth control pills—in September 2015, and stopped in the third week of November 2016. I was on Alesse’s 21-day packet that included 7 days “off” that lacked the hormonal contraceptives and was supposed to simulate a period.

Why I started

Well, the most obvious reason was the sexual health and not getting pregnant. But my PMS symptoms were getting really bad. The change in hormone levels made me moody and really affected my depression. In a way, I used the birth control as a form of mental health: I was not capable of handling the emotional changes that come with menstruation. For the first few months of 2016, I went to therapy once a week and finally learned some tools to deal with my mental illness. The birth control helped to balance out everything, and I was able to get more in-tune with how my emotions and mental state were affected by hormones. It was easier for me to see what was depression, binge-eating, and trauma—and what was simply change in hormones. My acne was also causing me a lot of stress and body image issues, and I knew taking birth control could help with that.

How it affected me

I knew I would go through a transition phase as my body got used to the change in hormones. It lasted 3 months, actually, and my withdrawal bleeding (like a period, but an egg doesn’t get released) was incredibly sporadic. My mood was also very up and down, although mostly up. But aside from that, I felt fairly normal. I moved around when I took the contraceptives and the placebo pills a few times, to coincide with when I’d be seeing my boyfriend, or to stretch out the pack until my next refill. The only downside was the 7-days-off: I would have breakouts more easily, my overall body odour was a lot stronger, and the bleeding was a bit sporadic. Sometimes the withdrawal bleeding (the simulated period) would come a few days before the 7-days-off pills; sometimes not at all; sometimes longer than the placebo pills; and sometimes just as scheduled. I thought this was caused by the change-arounds I did, but it happened when I was taking the pills on a schedule too.

Why I stopped

First and foremost, my coverage and prescription both ended and I would have been paying about thrice as much for the pills. But I decided not to get a refill for reasons other than finances. I want to see how my mental health would be with the natural hormone balance in my body. I’m also curious to see how my skin handles the difference. The main reason, though, was to get out of the 7-days-off transition. It was a little unpredictable, with the odour, acne, and bleeding. I could look into different brands with different levels of estrogen/progesterone, but I don’t want to go through the larger normalisation period again, or risk a birth control pill that doesn’t work or have more intense negative reactions with me. I also felt that nearly a year and a half was a good span of time considering the reasons I went on to the pill. I also kind of missed having my period, complaining about cramps, and the joy of wearing cute panties again without fear.

If I need to in the future, I would definitely go back onto the pill. I might not use the same brand, but I might stick with it just because I know what to expect.

Bullet Journal for Mental and Chronic Illness

I’ve been using my bullet journal as a way of managing and being more aware of my mental illness. If I had a chronic physical illness, I’d be doing some similar things to see if there are trends and to overall manage it.

Currently, I’m looking at the mood aspect of my mental illness. In my monthly tracker—which you can see in my October 2016 monthly spreads—I’m looking at the following:

  • Overall “quality” of the day, with a legend
  • Binge-eating
  • Self-harm or thoughts of self-harm (including suicide idealisation)
  • Self-care
    • Washing face in the morning and evening
    • Brushing teeth in the morning and evening
    • Yoga
    • Meditation
    • Exercise

On the daily pages this month, I’ve been looking at my energy levels throughout the day. I use a bar graph with the time on the X/horizontal axis, and a 0 – 5 scale for the energy on the Y/vertical axis. Here’s the long-form description of those numbers:

  • 0 = asleep
  • 1 = very low energy; sluggish; desire to lie down or sleep
  • 2 = low energy; begrudgingly doing things; not very aware of surroundings; habitual tasks
  • 3 = normal energy; doing things; not really leaning toward laziness or excitement
  • 4 = good energy; feeling a bit peppy and not feeling tired in the slightest
  • 5 = high energy; I’m hyper and excited and playful

I also have a weekly tracker that repeats some of the self-care aspects. I’m very bad at taking care of myself, so having the boxes to fill in give me some motivation outside of “I need to take care of myself.”

Other Ways to Manage Your Illness

Your illness is unique to you. You could be suffering from multiple illnesses and need something more intense. Like the post mentioned later, something could show up and you need to figure out what triggers the pain or fatigue or migraines. Here are a few more suggestions of what to include in your bullet journal for your health. Something here might be relevant to your situation!

  • Fill a page with affirmations.
  • Fill a page of self-care ideas and activities.
  • Write journal entries before and after appointments with doctors, therapists, etc.
  • Create a calendar to show your appointments, or when you need to schedule them in the future.
  • Log eating habits, such as when and what you eat. You can also track blood sugar levels and your feelings of energy.
  • Track medication to make sure you’re taking them all at the right times; or, to see what happens if you miss a dose so you aren’t thrown for a complete loop if you do.
  • Track symptoms and their intensity, like headaches, migraines, fatigue, pain (generalised or localised), anxiety, other moods. Like my energy levels, these might be easier to track on an hourly rate, or if you create a table to note the start and end times of certain-intensity symptoms.
  • Track activites and their duration, such as commuting and driving, sitting, walking, standing, or more vigorous activities.
  • Track quantity and quality of your sleep, as well as when you wake up and fall asleep.
  • Track sunrise and sunset times, the hours of daylight, and your energy (for seasonal affective disorder, or to check into your circadian rhythm).

These are just a few ideas for what you can consider in your bullet journal. One of the posts that inspired me was from Ruth at Delightful Planner. She started using the bullet journal after suffering intense back pain. She used the bujo to track the pain, various activities, and medications. Her post is incredibly thorough and was an eye-opening for how I could become more aware of my own health.

Hopefully this helps inspire you!

Your mental health and your physical health are important, and there are so many ways you can manage it. Use this information for your own direction, to help doctors with diagnoses and management plans, or to create more awareness in your mind and body. You’re worth the effort.

Therapy Diary: Dissociation

Blue and white paint splattered and dripping down a black wall.

My dissociation manifests in a few different ways and feelings, and I can compare it with a bunch of metaphors. But it all boils down to a single feeling—of rather, lack of feeling.

My dissociation means I’m not part of reality. I’m not fully in the world I’m interacting in. My body is doing one thing, but my consciousness is distanced.

Sometimes my dissociation is heavy and sometimes it’s light. I’ve described it as half of my existence floating behind me like a helium balloon; or half of my existence being dragged like a suitcase with a broken wheel.

You’d think that being dissociated is easy to notice. But I only notice the way it feels—the heaviness or lightness or distance or closeness—once I know I’m dissociated.

So the disconnect is something that shows up as irritation or lethargy. It’s only after a bit of wondering, “Why am I reacting like this?” that it dawns on me: “Oh… I’m not all here.”

And then what? What do I do once I realise my consciousness isn’t within me?

I try meditating for a few minutes. I try doing a vinyasa or two. I try lighting a scented candle. I try taking a warm shower or a cold shower. I try reading a book. I try playing a video game.

But none of those are fool-proof, sure-fire ways to reassociate with the world. They’re only baby steps.

It’s almost impossible to eliminate the dissociation the day it happens, or even the day after. Sometimes it lasts for a few days. I’ll power through it, but there are days I just can’t. I need to sleep and let myself succumb to another reality (the surreal of dreams).

My therapist told me that it takes time to feel safe enough to “come back” after being dissociated. So I don’t push progress or obligation on it.

Mental Illness and Writing

Mental illness and writing do not go hand-in-hand.

But then again, mental illness doesn’t particularly go hand-in-hand with anything productive.

It hits hard against writing and creative work, however. There are so many thoughts and so much subjectivity that it’s hard to separate from your mental illness. There is also so much production necessary in creative work. And when you’re in bed, depressed, or having a panic attack from your PTSD, it’s nearly impossible to receive anything, let alone produce anything.

A quick list of the things I suffer from:

  • PTSD (as described by my recent counsellor)
  • Depression (as described by my doctor and my previous therapists)
  • Disordered eating (as discovered by lots of googling and common sense)
  • Body and gender dysphoria

So life is difficult. Everything is difficult. Words are difficult and washing my face is difficult. And yes, I say suffer, because fuck do I suffer.

As writers, we’ve heard of and experienced writing burnout. We hustle so hard until we reach a certain point and need to stop. We know there’s something wrong, and we know that continuing at our current pace will spell certain disasters for us.

Having mental illness means I have a reduced capacity for tasks, whether they’re mundane or creative or whatever. Not every day is the same, of course—some days, my mental illness sits and doesn’t bother me. Other days, though, I lie in bed without the energy or desire to brush my teeth, wash my face, or eat something.

When I’m being told constantly that “writers write” and I need to “write every day” and I don’t have the capacity for it? I kinda feel like shit. I already feel guilty for not being able to do things “normally.” Hygiene and eating are such simple tasks, but they can become difficult when my mental illness flares up. Adding writing to that? Adding any kind of creative art to the list of things I need to do? I can’t handle it.

If you have a mental disorder or suffer from a chronic illness, you don’t need to write every day. You don’t need to hustle until you burn out from writing. You can be slow and write small amounts. 5K days aren’t always feasible. Write 100 words if you can. Hug yourself for not writing today if you can’t.

I know I can’t write every day, because 1) I’m a busy student; and 2) I have mental illness and need to prioritise other tasks than writing.

“If I Can Do It, So Can You”

Now to Then

17-year-old with a chance to get away. Where is far enough? Where is too far? What can be achieved while there?

16-year-old with a sibling, recently deceased, a month away from 19.

Police officer.

16-year-old astonished by broken glass shining like a sea on wooden floors.

Police officer.

16-year-old watching a tray of homemade cookies dumped into the trash. Right there. Watching it happen.

16-year-old with a red handprint smear on a cheek.

16-year-old trying to protect the brother who would die next year.

Police officer.

16-year-old and 15-year-old and 14-year-old and 13-year-old and 12-year-old with self-inflicted scars. Grounding. Reconnecting. Punishment, because everyone else was right and this pain is deserved.

14-year-old who told lies about smears of red.

10-year-old curses and more redness smears on a cheek.

Police officer.

10-year-old in a dingy swivel chair, hand placed on a grimy Bible, a coat puffy and protective in a stuffy room. Face the camera. Tell the truth.

8-year-old hiding from broken glass.

Police officer.

A child’s parent wanted The Brady Bunch. A child’s parents tried to make it on their own, tried to avoid debt, failed and failed again. A child strategises, attempts to survive before puberty, and then through it, and then they want to know what the child will do at the beginning of its 50 years of adulthood.

Guilt & Guilt & Guilt & Guilt & Guilt & Guilt & Guilt & Guilt & Guilt & Guilt & Guilt & Guilt & Guilt & Guilt

Everything is my damn fault and I need to do everything by myself and nobody helps me and how am I ever going to get a job when I can’t live properly let alone interact with a customer and I sometimes lie catatonic in bed because my mind makes poison in order to feed me and I’m made to feel bad for trying to do anything and for needing help to even get to a job because I live in an inaccessible place and brain.

Now

I saw a chance to get away when applications to colleges and universities were thrown at me. I took it. I took it and didn’t think of the loans. I moved away, free, still not legal (#OctoberBaby), and then the money hit me. It still hits me.

There I was, carving a path for my future while my tools continued breaking and I needed to rent them repeatedly. I’d get the money back somehow. I’d pay for the tools I used, the years it took me to carve through this mountain.

Do not judge my adulthood existence by your journey toward your adulthood. A tree planted in unsuitable soil cannot grow tall and strong, but this isn’t evident until it has grown up some.

Existing is a battle when you have mental illness and are an abuse survivor. In my first year of university, I was almost forced to withdraw from school because my grades were so poor. In my second year of university, I wanted to commit suicide.

It’s hard to consider making money when you’re simply trying to live. To breathe. To wash your damn body. How can I put on a face and say, “How can I help you?” to a customer who might yell at me? Especially if every yell at me brings back memories of trauma.

I sit on 40K and will never have children until I can ensure (and insure) they don’t go through the same financial strife. The same guilt of being another indebted child as I am. My mind and its pools of poison tell me that I owe something to everyone.

And sometimes society tells me I owe something to certain people. I owe nothing to people who biologically created me, but failed to take care of me. Who failed to repair a link every time it was broken. Who failed to say sorry when they hurt me. Who failed to acknowledge that they hurt me.

I owe no explanation to people who managed to work their way through high school, and then college or university. I owe no explanation to people who question my anxiety about finances. I owe no explanation to the acquaintances who want to know why I don’t want to pay $7.99 + tax at a restaurant for a shitty entree, and thus do not want to go out.

We can’t all work through the strife. When you’re a child and all you do is work on living… when you’re a child and your life is only strife… when the glimmers of pleasant memories come so infrequently that you think they’re just nighttime dreams… You can’t make your adult self part of the economic sector without wanting to die. Without waiting for something to jump out of the bushes and tear you apart. Without beating yourself up for not doing everything correctly, for slipping up, for accidentally breaking something at work, for getting an order wrong, for working overtime, for crying in the break room, for snapping at a customer, for avoiding people because otherwise you’ll break under the weight of your own guilty and traumatised conscience.

I am very unemployable, and it isn’t my fault. I’m trying to be better.

I am very much in debt, and it isn’t my fault. I’m trying to work through it.

I chose to go to university. I chose to go into debt. I chose to try and earn something—to earn a degree in the hopes of learning more about myself and about a future career field. I chose and I chose and I chose, and my priorities (1. not dying; 2. not hurting myself; 3. wanting to not do either number 2 or number 3) aren’t the same as yours.

I am not the same as you. We do not have the same story. We do not climb the same mountains. You, with a tall mountain of responsibilities. With crags and nooks that require effort to ascend.

I, with a tall mountain of responsibilities. With wolves and banshees chasing after me. With avalanches called upon by the demon of my childhood. With crags and nooks like yours, but just out of reach of my stunted motivation.

I am not the same as you. Your journey—where you gained something through hard work, by hustling, with careful planning—is not my journey.

My journey—where I needed to work hard to continue going, where I gained an, “Alright, if you want, but we can’t help yet,” and self-doubt, and where I had no rest since my memories began—is not your journey. It is mine. And you have no right to wonder why it is so different from yours as you sit on a rocky outcropping, eating organic trailmix, and ask why I’m still so far down, battered, bruised, with the handicaps of scars and pain slowing me down. The least you could do is shut up. The most you could do is offer some help.

In unrelated thoughts, a happy birthday to my brother today. You would have been 24 and that blows my mind—not the age, but how long you’ve been gone. You stopped ageing when you died and now all of your siblings are older than you.

Opening Up About My Eating Disorder

I’m not going to get into how my disordered eating arose, or why it began, or whatever else I think started it. The beginnings don’t matter in this case. I want it to end.

It’s easy to self-diagnose an eating disorder once you become aware of it. Maybe I have a specific eating disorder that a professional could inform me of—whether it’s binge eating or not—but the fact remains: I have an eating disorder. Sometimes I binge. Sometimes I purge. Sometimes I eat and I’m like “I have more energy now!” and carry on with my day.

I’m obsessed with how I look. I’m obsessed with the food I put into my body. I’m obsessed with nutrient information. And those obsessions aren’t necessarily a bad thing. They can be a motivator—a way to improve self-esteem, get stronger, and be knowledgeable about what you eat—if there’s a positive drive. But when looking at myself, feeding my body, and reading nutrient labels, the underlying emotion is guilt.

I can’t eat anything without being ashamed for eating it. Nobody else shames me these days—I distinctly remember people criticising my eating up until I was 16. Tuna salad… yogurt… Someone always had something to say to tell me I was doing it wrong, or at least in a way that let me know they were judging me.

The pattern of shame and guilt has continued, even when nobody comments on my eating. Sometimes people do, and I ask them not to; it’s a trigger for me. Even a simple, “Oo, hungry today?” or “That looks so delicious,” can remind me that 1) people see what I eat and 2) people have judged me for it. A well-meaning comment doesn’t mean I’ll take it that way. It’s hard to outgrow associations in your formative years.

I could eat two boiled eggs, half an avocado, and a banana, and I’ll find a way to feel ashamed and guilty for eating.

Let me repeat that:

I’ll find a way to feel ashamed and guilty for eating.

What kind of life is that to live? Not being able to eat without berating myself and feeling like I’m doing something wrong?

“Feeding myself is wrong.”

“Eating this is bad.”

“I should eat something better.”

There’s so much morality attached to my eating habits and I’m sick of it. I’m sick of feeling like I’m not allowed, like something is forbidden, like this plateful is taboo. Those adjectives are so fucking abstract anyway—wrong? Bad? Better? There’s a comparative to them that I don’t acknowledge. If there’s a wrong, there’s a right. A bad, a good. A better, a worse.

The right is eating. The wrong is eating something that will hurt you.

The good is eating. The bad is eating something that will hurt you.

The worse is bingeing. The better is eating.

I recently got out of a binge cycle that made my mouth sore, my stomach upset, and my intestines ache. Getting out of my head and focusing on my body is good enough to tell me that I made a mistake.

It’s a mistake I don’t want to make again, or at least not as often as I did.

I’ve been trying for four years to break out of my disordered eating. In 2014, I made some progress. In 2015, I made some progress. This year, I haven’t made much progress. But I’m determined now to truly break away from it.

I’ve set up a book for helping me through this. In it, I’ve listed some goals:

  • Overcome bingeing
  • Develop a healthy relationship with food
  • Create awareness with my body

I’m trying to relearn my hunger, and it’s worked incredibly well the past 7 months. I let myself be hungry before I eat, especially when I know I have 1) easy access to food; and 2) good food coming soon. To me, there’s no point in trying to “maintain” a level of hunger that isn’t hungry. So many places for health and eating suggest snacking and meals in order to bring down levels of hunger so you’re not hungry.

Why? Why should I stop feeling hungry? Why should I dash that gurgle in my tummy away?

Unless I’m lightheaded, dizzy, weak, sluggish, tired, or anything affecting my activity, there’s no reason to chase away the hunger so soon. I’ve come to enjoy it. It’s a small conversation with my body, with my organs. I’m not going to deprive my stomach food when it wants it. I’ll just do it after we’ve had a little talk.

I’m also not going to punish my body with workouts, whether it’s cardio, strength training, or yoga. My body is strong and deserves a place to show off its strength: that’s where exercise comes in for me. It’s a celebration of my skills. A way to remind my mind that my body can do things that my mind said it couldn’t. In a way, my body gives the middle finger to that corner of festering guilt and shame. It says, “You see this? You see what I’m doing? You never believed in me. You have nothing to refute this strength.”

It’s impossible to refute the strength of my body. My mind and willpower are the ones who need to change—not my body.

I talk about my eating disorder, and how the guilt and shame of eating has ruined my happiness.

Therapy Diary: Day 7

Blue and white paint splattered and dripping down a black wall.

My first short-term therapy session was on January 15 and the last was on March 18. It’s been two months since I last saw my counsellor and I can definitively say that even this short amount of counselling was helpful.

What’s Changed?

I’m doing more yoga and I’ve been approaching it differently than I did last year. There’s something more to it now. Before, it was focus on shape and form and getting a pose correct. Now, I focus on how it feels: how I can feel my strength or my weakness; my inhales and exhales. In particular, I can feel a connection between all of my body parts. Yoga has been one of the best practises I could have chosen, since it drastically lowers my dissociation—though I still struggle with it.

I’m also more aware of what sets me off/what triggers me. In particular, what triggers my anger and my panic attacks. I can’t even describe how this has helped me be able to even deal with life. From talking to people to running errands to sitting alone, I’m aware of my emotions and understand how to express or disperse them.

What’s The Same?

My depression is still fairly the same. I’m not that happy and barely anything gives me joy. But I’m trying not to dwell on that, on how I should be, or how I want to be. I know my friends have noticed it, and I’m trying not to talk about it because it’s a cyclical conversation. I’ll start talking about being depressed and it increases. This isn’t something I’ve learned to resource/cope with/deal with/etc. Pick a synonym.

I’m also still struggling with my dissociation. It isn’t as intense as it was in January, but it’s still around. I feel like the film on top of a stew left to cool on the stove. Like, I’m still part of the stew—or my Self—but it isn’t the same. I can’t simply stir the film back into the stew to have a whole stew—a whole Self.

What Next?

I’m going to be completely honest here: I don’t know.

I do not know what to do next.

I know I still have a lot of work ahead of me, but I’m not ready to take on more. I’m just going to continue doing what I’m doing and hope that, little by little, something else will change. I guess there won’t be anything new to do: simply practising what I’ve learned in the hopes it’ll become habit or second-nature instead of a conscious effort.

Therapy Diary Day 7