Do all therapists laugh at their patients’ problems?

I wrote last time about my debilitating anxiety. About a week ago, I woke up from a horrid nightmare. I woke up just before I was murdered. I couldn’t think about it. I couldn’t not think about it. I couldn’t go back to sleep. I woke up my husband, and just tried to stop thinking about it. I didn’t want to talk about it, but needed to talk, so my mind would stop going there. It’s still there in my head. I can still remember it. It’s terrifying.

I’ve always had very vivid dreams. I don’t know why, but I don’t always like it. Sometimes  when they’re good dreams, I don’t mind them; this time, it sucked. I was trying to hide. I was trying to run. I couldn’t do either. I woke up just before I was caught and murdered. Even in my dream I knew what was coming.

I have also always had issues with friends, and with adjusting to new places. When I was in college, I started seeing a therapist – psychologist – something. Whatever you want to call her. She worked for the school, and Liz was going to help me. I hoped. After seeing her a few times and telling her all the things I was concerned about, what bothered me, the things that I was dealing with, and EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. having her laugh while she was talking to me, I couldn’t deal with it. I was seeing her because I needed help working through my issues. Laughing at me while I was telling her how much things hurt didn’t help me. It hurt me more. So I stopped going.

Fast forward a couple years – college is done, I am living in Dover with my now-husband. I started back seeing someone for the anxiety again, and ended up seeing two different people – and was thoroughly insulted by one, and laughed at by the other. Do all therapists laugh when their patients are telling them their biggest fears, their concerns, worries, problems? It was happening again, and I was mortified. Maybe it was me. Maybe it IS me. Maybe I’m just more concerned than I need to be with the issues I THINK I have.

Then there was the one that asked if I was suicidal – and proceeded to answer her own question – as she laughed. “No, you’re too afraid of death – hahahahaha – you’d never kill yourself. Hahahahaha.” I never answered her question – it didn’t matter to her that I’ve never been suicidal. She didn’t even let me answer her.

So though I’m having trouble getting past my fear of death and dying without professional help, I’m terrified to start seeing a therapist for fear of their reactions. I don’t like that I can’t trust someone I’m supposed to – especially with something as fragile as my fears. I would love to be able to find that help I could definitely use. It has been 4 years or so since I last talked to a professional, and though I think it’s time to do it again, I’m worried that a) I’m going to be laughed at again, and b) it’s not going to be worth it. Maybe once I get the ankle under control I’ll venture back in that direction.

Have you ever had someone you trusted laugh in your face when you were spilling your guts to them?

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Sometimes I just want to pray… does it matter if it’s to the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately (really the last year or so) about what happens after we die. I want it to be something, but I don’t know for sure, of course. I’m still here. I can’t tell you. All those people that supposedly know could be totally full of shit. They could be telling what they think is true, but is more of a dream. Or they could know for sure. Nobody can prove it, and if someone has the opportunity to prove it, well, they can’t really prove it anymore… they’re dead.

Anyway.

I’ve always been terrified of death and dying; it’s something that is always in the back of my mind, and it just gets worse as I get older… as I get closer to death. Most people don’t think about it; it’s inevitable, we are all going to die someday. Most people, by the time they are in early adolescence or so (or at least this is how society – i.e. how I – see the world, right or wrong. Isn’t everything about perception, rather than reality???) realize that death is so far down the road that it’s nothing to worry about, until it is something to worry about.

But I’m not most people. I never outgrew the terrified-of-death phase. My fear is paralyzing; it’s neurotic and all-encompassing. It keeps me up at night. Because it keeps me up at night, it also keeps my husband up at night, because when my mind goes into overdrive, I need to wake him up to help me keep my mind off of the fact that I will in fact die someday. If I don’t, I head into a full-fledged anxiety attack, and well, we both know what happened last time I had one of those.*

*An anxiety attack at work led to my first-ever (and only-ever) ambulance ride; it’s kind of a blur, because I became unresponsive and slid out of my chair onto the floor, and was starting to turn blue. Not good. But once in the ambulance, things started to come back to me – I became more responsive the further we got from my workplace, and that’s when I knew I had to get out.

I’ve been trying to avoid thinking about dying ever since I realized how much it takes over my life. When I was a kid, it would take me multiple hours to fall asleep because my mind just wouldn’t shut off. I would overthink things, and would actually have dreams (not good ones) while I was half-asleep about waking up in the morning and finding a mostly-dead house: everyone (except for me) would have been killed overnight.

I think it has something to do with a) my overactive imagination; b) now having Munchkin around; c) not knowing what to believe.

And there’s the crux of it: not knowing what to believe.

I was raised Catholic: baptized before I was a year old; first Communion in second grade; first Confession in third grade; Confirmation sophomore year of high school. All I did without any sort of arguing, except for Confirmation. I didn’t want to do it; I didn’t want to be forced to, either. I didn’t know what I wanted; I was only 16. I was naïve and, honestly, still a bit of a child. I wasn’t ready to pledge my life to the Catholic Church.

But as much of a protest as I put up, I did it.** And later that year, I joined a Baptist Youth Group with my two best friends. I became completely embroiled in everything with this group: I stopped listening to anything other than religious, Contemporary Christian music; I started going to the Youth Group meetings weekly, using my new-found freedom (aka my driver license) to keep me with like-minded people. I started reading books that had extremely Christian themes, and stopped reading anything that didn’t.*** I stopped caring about anyone outside of my circle, and it showed. I was an awful person to my family, to the people that had been my friends, and it wasn’t fair to anyone. I was a total bitch, and everyone knew it (except me).

**I do NOT blame my parents – if I had put up enough of a protest (which I obviously did not do enough of), they would have let me choose. At 16, I was painfully shy, and couldn’t speak up for myself. I couldn’t make an argument without losing my cool and crying my eyes out. It was pathetic.

***For anyone that knows how much I read, this was huge. I read rather quickly, to the point of at least a book a week, sometimes more. To push aside all of my favorite authors so that I could keep with only the Christian authors is laughable, because in addition to the sheer quantity that I would need to keep up, the cost of books (even back then) was more than an avid reader such as I could handle.

I had been on many trips with the group, had been “saved,” and had become totally enamored with this religion. It was my life. I was one of them. We spent our meetings singing songs and reading from the bible. We were model Baptists; I was a model Christian. I was so caught up in the brainwashing of the group that I didn’t see what an awful person I had become.

Then one day at a youth group meeting one of the girls was nowhere to be found. We all went our separate ways to see where she could have run off to – it was a relatively small house – and one of the leaders (male) and another youth (female) both ended up outside together to look for the girl. When I found out they had both been “talked to,” I thought it was silly, but didn’t think all too much of it. Not too long later, a few weeks maybe, I was talking with someone about a boy I liked. I was informed that if I started dating the boy, we would have to have weekly “meetings” to discuss our “relationship” to make sure we weren’t getting ahead of ourselves. And kissing was not a good idea. Oh, and by the way, we should never be alone… ALWAYS have a chaperon.

I wasn’t okay with that.

After hearing all that, and thinking back on all the ways I had been subtly told that my family wasn’t as good as I was because they weren’t “saved” (apparently their god wasn’t as good as my god, and they were all going to hell because of it), I had had enough. I got out.

That experience changed me. I went back to the Catholic Church, but wasn’t completely convinced.

After a year and a half of college (at a state school that was very accepting of any and all people), I spent a semester in France. There I decided that I wanted to start going to church again. Also while there I decided that I wanted to change schools – my current didn’t have the major I wanted – so I decided that I would go to a Catholic College. I had previously applied (and been accepted) when doing the initial search for colleges, but because I had ONLY applied to that one school, decided (on graduation day) that I wanted to see if I could get in anywhere else – and went to the only other school I applied to.

I was required to take two religion classes at the Catholic College. The first was perfect: it was an introduction to religion, which was more historical than anything else. It was a great course, and I learned a lot without feeling pressured to take any stances on any religion at all. The second was as far from the first as it could get: The Gospels. In addition, the professor had written and published a book, and it became part of the required reading. We read and dissected all four gospels, and in doing so, ruined Catholicism and all belief for me. There were too many contradictions for me to believe the bible. There were too many inconsistencies, too many horrible acts that took place for me to believe that any of it could be real. There was just no way.

For me, in that moment, the bible became a work of fiction.

There’s no way that the world is only 6000 years old. It’s millions of years old, and there’s no way that anyone could convince me otherwise. Dinosaurs walked the Earth. There was life on Earth millions of years ago. It wasn’t all created within the past 10,000 years – that is impossible.

Religion has become something that people hold over others’ heads. Religion has become something that people judge others by, regardless of what they say. With all of the scandals in the news over the past decade, religion has become a naughty word – for some. Others flaunt it like they hold the keys to the kingdom.

It makes me uncomfortable.

I no longer believe in god. I no longer believe in God. I don’t believe in heaven or hell, or life after death.

And that terrifies me. Because if there’s nothing after, I just don’t know. It’s times like this that I wish I knew what happened after… if it all starts over again as someone else, if there is a heaven, or if it just all… ends…

Despite my disbelief in God, I listened to a lot of the coverage after the white smoke was sent into the sky in Vatican City, signaling that a new Pope had new elected. I hope that this newly-elected man takes on the job with as much grace and honestly as I am naïve enough to hope he will; despite my knowing better, I am hoping that this new Pope makes the changes required to bring an institution to a less-laughable status. Stop the reasons behind the jokes and the jokes will stop. Enough with the persecution and equalities. Prosecute the people responsible for assaulting children, and stop covering it up and making excuses. Make the people that cause the problems responsible for their actions. Nobody should be exempt.

Life is a funny thing… we never know the reason, but live life nonetheless. Our choices mold us into the person we become and the person we are shapes the lives of others. We need to live honestly, regardless of our beliefs.

What is one step you have taken in the right direction to living life to its fullest?

How not to hurt yourself: a guide

It was late November or early December of this past year, and I was at work chatting at a friend’s desk. Chatting, standing, just like normal. My ankle turned, I cursed, and just continued on with my day. It hurt, yes, but it was nothing out of the ordinary; because of my Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (Hypermobility) (EDS), it happens often. I’m used to it by now. Fast-forward a few days, and my ankle is still bothering me (again, normal) but it’s more painful than normal. I purchased an ankle brace, and it seemed to help a bit. Fast-forward another few weeks or so. Ankle was feeling decent, and I was tired of wearing the brace, so I stopped. No issues.

Then the pain started. Again. With a vengeance. I can’t remember doing anything, so I’m going with re-irritation of the initial injury. Not impressed. Saw the doc, she suggested physical therapy and a RICE regimen. I asked if I should be in a walking boot, and she said it wasn’t worth the expense. I told  her I had one in the car – I already own one (from a past injury). She said absolutely, since I already have it – it was worth wearing it. We scheduled a follow-up for 4 weeks out, then went to schedule physical therapy. I started wearing the boot.

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That was January 25.

I had one physical therapy appointment, but because of the inflammation in my ankle we couldn’t do anything. It was a rather expensive icing session, and the physical therapist, who I have been seeing off and on for about 6 years, suggested I get a prescription for Prednisone to knock out some of the inflammation and pain. It did nothing.

Just a week later I’m in so much pain after running an errand that I’m in tears. It’s my right ankle, and though I have an hour commute, I had been driving in to work – not wearing the boot to drive, but putting it on when I get to work and then wearing it all day. That day when I ran out I was in and out of the stores quickly, but the pain was intense. When I got back to work, I called to schedule an appointment with the doc again; I was able to get in the next day. Doc recommended an MRI, which after much back-and-forth was scheduled for less than a week later, with the follow-up with a podiatrist almost two weeks after the MRI. Additionally, she suggested I stop driving; with the ability to work from home, I’m happy with the option to rest my ankle and not spend a fortune on gas for a couple weeks.

MRI went fine – I requested that the MRI report was sent to both the doctor’s office (standard) and directly to me, so that I could see what the issue was – see if I was imagining things as I was beginning to believe – and really get an idea of how badly I had injured myself. I received the report the Monday following the MRI (which was on a Thursday), and it stated that I had some swelling, and something called Sinus Tarsi Syndrome. I did my research, and it essentially said that I had simply turned my ankle one time too many. With such a report, I was comfortable with it – it would likely require an injection of some sort of corticosteroid, and I could mosey on my way.

I wish it had been that easy.

What the actual outcome is is so much more than Sinus Tarsi Syndrome – I actually ruptured two tendons – the Peroneus Longus and the Peroneus Brevis – and tore a ligament. There’s also some sort of debris in the front of my ankle – the doctor doesn’t know if it is bone fragments or scar tissue or fatty tissue (he equated it to chicken fat) – that will need to be cleaned out. So it will be a process. It will be a combination of arthroscopic (for the front) and open (for the tendon/ligament repair) surgery, so it will be rather extensive. I’m not looking forward to it. At all. I’m actually quite terrified.

The first three weeks after surgery I will be in a plaster cast, unable to weight-bear, unable to move my ankle. The three weeks following the cast will be spent in a splint – I’ll still be unable to weight-bear, but apparently will be able to start with range of motion and physical therapy. After that is a walking boot, and we’ll go from there. Of course, moving at whatever pace the healing will let me. I won’t be able to drive, which means I won’t be able to get to work. I have been lucky enough to be able to work from home for the last few weeks, and I should be able to do the same until I can get back into the office. I’m lucky to have a great work environment, great co-workers, and a great boss. It’s a relief to have one less thing to worry about. I just need to worry about the healing, and getting better.

Three and a half years ago I had my left knee operated on, and I ended up with an open wound, infection, and a long, arduous, painful healing process.  It was a horrible experience, and I hoped to never have surgery again. I was at my lowest point ever right after surgery – I spent most evenings sobbing my eyes out because I couldn’t deal with the pain, couldn’t deal with my shoulders dislocating every time I pulled myself up the stairs on my butt, couldn’t deal with the inability to be independent. I relied on my husband for EVERYTHING – I couldn’t put ANY weight on my foot, couldn’t shower on my own, couldn’t prepare my own meals.

I don’t want that to happen again, of course. I want it to be as smooth as a process as it could be. Of course.

There’s one big difference between last time and this time: little man. He’ll be 18 months old in a couple weeks, and he’s running circles around us already. He is an amazingly active boy, and loves to have us playing on the floor with him. One of his favorite things to do is to get a book and plop on the closest lap for that person to read to him – and then making the rounds to the next lap. He’s a whirling dervish  and this is going to be quite the experience. I love to be first and foremost the front-runner for munchkin’s care: I love to give him baths, I love to give him snuggles and smooches before bed. I love to get him jammied up and help him brush his little teeth and hair. I’m going to have to lean on my husband a lot more for the next couple months. We’re also incredibly lucky to have extremely supportive families. My husband’s family lives just down the road, and though my family is further away, they’re right here when we need them. It’s yet another weight off of our shoulders.

My main concern is that the surgery won’t actually prevent this from happening again; it’s only going to fix the issue for now. So yeah… I’m terrified that it’s going to happen again. And I’ll have to do the surgery all over again. I apparently should just figure out how to not hurt myself again.

That’s the key to everything: I need to figure out how to avoid hurting myself. When I was first diagnosed with EDS, the rheumatologist was real forthcoming: “if pain, then injury; be careful.” That was the extent of his guidance/notes/everything. I need to start wearing ankle braces ALL the time. I need to try and remember to keep BOTH feet on the floor and balanced, instead of keeping my weight on one foot more than the other. It’s time to start keeping myself in check. It’s time to start being careful. For me. For my munchkin. For my family.

2013 – books, writing, health and crochet. Or, goals for this year.

My sister set 13 goals for 2013, which made me want to do the same.  Therefore, world, I present you with my goals!

1. Read 52 books. I’m an avid reader, and have already read a few – the only difficulty will be remembering to keep track of the books I am reading!!

2. Lose those last 15 lbs. Since I got married 3.5 years ago, I have lost approximately 60 lbs. Last year (post-baby) I lost 35lbs, and I have stayed roughly stable since then. I just have 15 (20 at the most) left to lose.

3. Start writing again. I haven’t written in a while – at least, nothing of substance. I have a bit of a started piece, and I think I  may continue that. However, I have something else that has been marinating for a while, so I may flesh that one out.

4. Blog regularly. I’m working toward that one! I want to start to really get this blog going – I really enjoy it, but most of my thoughts come through when I’m chasing after munchkin. I think it’s time to keep notebooks around so that I can keep my ideas and musings fresh.

5. Get more blog followers. I’m working hard on this one – getting my name out there by following more awesome, well-known blogs, and commenting on them when I feel the need. They’re great bloggers that definitely love questions, and write their posts to draw discussion. It’s amazingly wonderful – definitely awesome people to learn from.

6. Enter at least one writing contest. I have been watching for writing contests for the past year or so, but have never really done anything with it. It’s time to start entering the contests, and not just look.

7. Start working out regularly – once I’m not injured. I currently have an ankle injury that I’m working through – MRI was just over a week ago, and I see the doctor for the results this Tuesday afternoon. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to figure out how best to treat it, because the issues I’m having with it have been going on for too long. And working out regularly will (hopefully) get me to feeling better, and start to reduce my chronic pain.

8. Start preparing meals in advance – healthy meals. I need to start planning meals better, and make sure I shop around them. I need to make sure that we’re prepared so we can regularly eat well, and not fall back on the easy, quick things that are not healthy.

9. Snack regularly with HEALTHY foods. Make good choices! I find I need to snack relatively regularly to keep me feeling good, and the foods I eat need to be better than cookies and such. I’m finding lately that I LOVE cottage cheese with peaches, and it’s great. It fills me up, and I really enjoy it.

10. Care as much about my own health as I do munchkin’s – I matter as much as he does! If I don’t keep myself healthy, I can’t keep munchkin healthy as well. Time to start worrying about ME.

11. Make a few afghans and finish my sweater. I love to crochet, but haven’t really done much lately. I have at least 3 afghans I would like to make, and would love to get them all completed. I started a sweater a while ago, and I hope to finish it – provided I didn’t mess anything up in the process!

12. Pull out my sewing machine and make some stuff. I have a whole board on Pinterest of ideas for things I want to make. It’s time to pull it out and make some of these things!

13. Be better about keeping the house clean – I’ll keep everyone sane that way! Munchkin keeps us busy, and can definitely be messy. The less clutter, the better – keep us all from going crazy.

Hopefully I can get everything accomplished this year. I would love to just be able to snap my fingers and have everything be the way I want, but I need to invest in myself. I hate that phrase, but it really seems to be the one that sums everything up. Life is a precious commodity, and one not to be wasted. I need to remember not to take it for granted.

Have you set goals for this year? What’s your biggest goal? The one you think will be easiest to attain, and the most difficult?