The Transition Game – Week 7

Welcome back!

Since last week I have completed the workbook portion of “Who Are You?”, have kept up with my gratitude practice, completing 3 lifts a week plus lots of rollerblading and hiking with my pup, spent as much time in the sun as I can, and have been reaching out to lots of old friends. I am feeling great and have even been able to support a few friends going through hard times which has been very rewarding.

I loved this lesson in the workbook, it was fun to reflect on where I came from, what made me who I am and put pen to paper to lay it all out clearly. In the book it says most people draw a complete blank when you ask who they are, I immediately wrote a page about who I am with no hesitation. That felt great, I can’t wait to see what my facilitator has to say about that and what I wrote. It speaks to how much better I have been feeling, if you asked me that question a couple of months ago I probably would have said “I don’t know, who cares, why are you asking me that?!”

Here is what I wrote:

“I am a hard-nosed Calgary kid who built my own success out of the willingness to do what others would not and the refusal to be intimidated by anyone. I am an animal lover and crazy dog man. I love rap, rock, tattoos, guns, motorcycles, and violent sports but I am highly sensitive and soft on the inside just like the men in my family before me. I am intense but also the biggest goofball man child in the world once you gain my trust. I am an only child but was never lonely, I made my friends my siblings and my Dad always laughed and called me a social butterfly. I am unique, weird, quirky however you want to put it but I have always loved and embraced it with no fear of being judged.”

I’m not sure if I did that right, but either way, it felt good to write, it felt good to remind myself of all these things. After I meet with my facilitator I will likely rewrite it, there is another section at the back for a second draft. I look forward to that as well.

Another task in my homework that had a big impact on me was after some readings I wrote notes about all the ups and downs in my life. Then I had to ask myself “why am I doubting myself, why would I do that”. Which I was already asking myself before getting halfway done with my notes. For starters, my ups list is three times as long as my downs list. Looking at the ups, the times I defied the odds, the way I impacted people around me. When I had a clear picture of who I was and believed in myself, I reached every single goal I set for myself. Yet, here I am after spending 20 years that way, doubting myself every day in every way. Insane. That’s the only way to describe it, it makes no sense. This work has been so eye-opening, it all seems so simple yet I was completely stumped and lost. I guess I just wasn’t asking the right questions or any at all.

The quote at the start of the lesson sums it up best. “Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thanks for all the support, I hope through sharing my reflections you have been able to do some of your own!

Write you next week,

Esty

The Breakdown – Shari

The Breakdown
I was 49 years old and was ready to head back to school (I am a teacher at a K-12 school). I went to work and I couldn’t breathe. I was dizzy. My heart was skipping beats (which it did for years and I didn’t know why). I was nauseated. I was afraid. I felt like someone was choking me only allowing me to breathe enough to stay alive. I went home that day and in the middle of the night I had a severe panic attack. I was suicidal. I wanted the pain to stop. My mind was racing. I wanted everything to STOP – just stop even for a minute so I could get my shit together. JUST STOP! I wanted to go to sleep and never wake up again to the pain. I called my sister and my uncle for help. My sister came and got me in the middle of the night. The next year was the most difficult of my life. For the first few months I was immobilized. I couldn’t drive, watch TV (too much stimulation), be alone (loneliness) because it brought on panic attacks. I wanted it to just stop so I could catch my breath.

The Diagnosis
I had been diagnosed with Bipolar II five years previous to the breakdown. I was put on Lamotrigine but at the age of 35 the doctor had put me on Celexa, then Effexor, then Wellbutrin, then back on Effexor. I had tried many types of meds, as most of us do, but none worked. Lamotrigine worked but only scratched the surface of my mental health issues.

IT FELT SOOTHING TO MY MIND AND BODY.

Looking Back
Throughout the year of my breakdown I began Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and I was put on Seroquel to help me sleep. As the therapy progressed I began to realize that I had been suffering from mental health issues as far back as 10 years old. I was brought up in a home where there was a great deal of physical and emotional abuse. My father would beat my mother and threaten to kill us kids. So of course I suffered from PTSD as well. I was suicidal most of my life and I always knew something was wrong with me. I started playing basketball at the age of 10. I became very good at it and I put all of my time and energy into the game. At the same time I discovered alcohol. Mom was 16 and dad was 18 when they had my older sister. I was born when they were 18 and 20. They would party and drink a lot so I would go around and taste all of the left over drinks. I liked the feeling I got when I drank it. It felt soothing to my mind and body.

My basketball career began to take off. I was playing up with the senior high school team when I was in junior high. I started representing my province at nationals when I was 15. I moved from my small town to a bigger centre in grade 11 to play. I played university basketball for 5 years as well. My goal was to make the Canadian National Team. I accumulated many MVP, Player of the Game and Hustler awards. Everyone thought I was on top of the world but I was suffering horribly. I put a mask on every day and went out to face the world. Throughout my basketball career I would have episodes of anger, explosiveness and crying spells. I was having panic attacks before practice, before games and during games. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. The only relief I found was when I drank alcohol and partied on weekends. I didn’t drink much during the week because of the training schedule I was on.

After my basketball career ended I got married and had two beautiful daughters. I started coaching at the high school I taught at. I couldn’t shake the suicidal thoughts so I drank. My high and low cycles ended up killing my marriage and it made it extremely difficult for my kids.

I AM ABLE TO REGULATE MY MIND AND BODY NOW.

I Got Better
I have been a single mom for 18 years. I am healthier and happier than I have ever been. I take my meds every day and continue with my therapy. Through exercise, guided imagery, yoga, diet, and continued reading and learning about the brain I am able to live a more balanced life. I still struggle with the manic highs and the depression but I am able to regulate my mind and body now. I have started speaking to young people about my struggles and how suffering in silence is not the way to go. I talk about the stigma surrounding mental health and how we need to work together to get rid of it and educate people.

The more I share, the better I feel.

 

 

Check out the original article here: https://www.sicknotweak.com/2016/06/1735/