I wish I could say I have writer’s block. It wouldn’t be a total lie. However, perhaps conversely to much of the internet I don’t feel anonymous behind the keyboard. Rather, I feel exposed and vulnerable. I like to hide from things that are hard and scary. So I avoid writing.
The other day in group we were talking about long term goals. Mine was writing my memoir. Inwardly, I grimaced at myself How’s that going for you? Cue negative self talk. I can’t even maintain my blog.
I’m in my own way because my fear literally clouds my brain. We cannot access our prefrontal cortex (where all the high end human function happens) when we are stuck in fight or flight mode which is the instinctive lower end reptilian part of the brain. I’m effectively shut off to what makes me smart and creative when my anxiety is so high.
Though I do get in my own way, perhaps it is a good time for me to take a lesson from things I say to my clients and people I care for and that is “give yourself a little grace.” I’ve just come from 4 months of intensive therapy. No one would say the last year and a half hasn’t been hard, to say the least – even without knowing any of my personal details.
I’m looking forward to rolling out some more amateur poetry and other ramblings and meanderings.
I’ve done myself – and perhaps you – a disservice and I’m sorry.
I stopped writing. A quick jaunt through my previous posts and I smiled – I’m proud of the work I did; why did I stop?
The truth is I did lose my mind a little. And as evidenced by literature, referrals I’m seeing in my inbox, the news, and my colleague burnout, I’m not the only one. Mine might have been a bit more intense than some, perhaps less than others. I needed care away from home to support me and that’s tough to acknowledge when you’re the professional.
I packed my bags, kissed my loved ones, and boarded that plane. Then I had to remember how to be the one cared for. The one encouraged to take up space in a group and not facilitate everyone else’s healing. The one trying a med change after 11 years because it was a safe setting to do so.
Being the patient. Being not in control of anything. And being ok with that.
So yeah. This is what has been taking my free time. As well as makeup tutorials because having purple hair freed me from my worries of looking too old. I couldn’t figure out how to dress comfortably for my age (read: business casual and muted) to avoid the “you’re too old for that” until one day I said to myself, “you have purple hair; you can do anything you want.”
Being in private practice gives me some creative freedoms when it comes to attire anyway so jeans are my everyday look. Pair em with some Vans and I’m good to go with my purple hair and whatever slightly muted spunky makeup I do for the day. I have never been particularly concerned about the latest fashion but I’ll wear what’s in if I like it. Otherwise it very well is an expression of me.
I thought I’d share 10 obscure, random facts about me and I hope my readers will reciprocate!
1. This one isn’t really too obscure but I’m obsessed with all things unicorn.
2. I sat on a flat iron on my 21st birthday. I was not clothed. Cue 2nd degree burns.
3. When I was 12 I was babysitting these kids who had a loft looking down to their living room. I jumped off the loft and landed on the couch. They didn’t ask me to babysit anymore.
4. When I was 19, a red car was tailgating me on the highway and when they passed I mouthed the word “asshole.” The driver careened into my lane and forced me onto the shoulder. I keep my road anger to myself now.
5. I once gave a friend the address of the house of my date with instructions to send the police if she hadn’t heard from me by a specified time. My phone was on silent. The police came.
6. I locked my keys in my car on campus unknowingly and after two hours of work I realized I must have locked them in. Since this was a frequent occurrence I didn’t bother checking first and headed over to public safety for assistance. They said, “we’ve been trying to find you. Your car is running.”
7. I have a phobia of maggots.
8. I totaled a car in a parking garage because I hit the gas instead of the brakes. The nearby construction workers were amused.
9. I used to somersault down the hall in high school before cheer practice. My spine had a bruise for three years.
10. My dad was a race car driver. Pretty sure he face palms from heaven when I do dumb things in my car.
I do not wish to philosophize about the possibilities that exist, but my intellectual capabilities make it impossible for my brain not to fire in that way. My anxiety ensures these unwanted mental meanderings cause me great discomfort – for anxiety does not like to float freely; it prefers an anchor. And what better an anchor than the rabbit hole that is philosophy?
We are raised with certain belief systems, borne out of our caregivers’ bestowing. At some point, we have the option to choose a different value structure. If it does not align with our family traditions it can cause angst. This is where I often find myself. Sitting in the middle of historic teachings, my own experience, and the ability to see multiple perspectives. I joke that things were simpler when I had the checklist of religion and the prescribed wife and mother role from the 50s that I readily adopted. “Married with 2 under 2 by 22.” Life was neat and organized by childcare, housecleaning, and meal prep.
Now my kids are teens, I rarely cook, prefer to call myself a partner rather than a wife, and the only codified activity I participate in regularly is Pilates. Despite my existential angst, how I function in the world today is far more congruent to my authentic self than the identity I put on in my twenties. Important people in my life experience a bit of confusion, however, when I act in ways that seem to contradict their concept of me. It would be simpler for them if I retreated to a more predictable identity.
I can’t retrace my steps. I can’t unring the bell. I can’t pretend I don’t know what I do know. If I do, I betray myself.
Today I’m keenly aware of the conversations bringing awareness of mental health to social media. I see my fellow therapists on Tik Tok noting their ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, OCD, eating disorder recovery. Many of them doing an amazing job talking about management of said conditions.
I’ve only seen one other therapist talk about Bipolar Disorder. And none talking about addiction. Kay Redfield Jamison is a psychologist diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and she was so brave to write her book An Unquiet Mind about her journey. I have reread it many times – she inspires me.
I don’t know if it’s that I haven’t seen therapists with more chronic mental illness or if they’re just not talking about it. And if they’re not talking about it, is it because they have fear of transparency as well?