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Archive for the ‘Coping Mechanisms’ Category

I am feeling lonely and depressed tonight.

Let’s look at those feelings for a moment.

Within myself I can feel emptiness, anxiousness, fatigue, pain and numbness like I’m just going through the motions. Tears could break through any moment now.

What could the cause be?

It could relate to my long term use of the antidepressant Efexor XR/Venlafaxine Hydrochloride which is known to cause fatigue, menstrual cycle upsets (that can obviously set off other feelings), anxiety and somnolence among other things.

Or it could be from the trigger I received last week surrounding betrayal and deceit the result of which I have felt numb, empty, dead as a door nail and restless ever since.

It’s very hard to distinguish if I am reacting to a past trauma or suffering from a medicinal side effect given I can tick both boxes.

My bet is on the Efexor XR because of the joint pain and fatigue.

I think it’s time to taper off the Efexor XR so I can finally hit the nail on the head regarding the root cause.

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How many times have you heard people say “if only I could go back”? Sure thing I’d reply, but only if I knew then what I know now!

I’ve started bumping into people who I haven’t seen for around four years now. They never fail to comment on how well I am looking.

I smile to myself because they knew me back when I was stuffed with prescription drugs and hiding away from the world. There was rarely a smile and I spent most of my time wishing I wasn’t where I was,  in my head or listening to podcasts on bipolar disorder and depression to keep me company.

Bipolar Nation was my lifesaver. Without Captain Joe’s podcasts I don’t know where I’d be.  It seemed as if he was the only one who understood my suffering. His humour and voice were a great comfort to me for two years while I was being treated for bipolar disorder.

(To listen to Captain Joe’s podcasts click HERE).

I used my Ipod to disconnect from the world around me, to cope with my emotional pain and suffering.

Most of my suffering was the result of the side effects of the drugs I was being prescribed.  You see I wasn’t bipolar at all but I made myself fit that label (that’s another story!).

The side effects of antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, antidepressants and benzodiazepines all rolled into one took a toll on my body and I believe they took a toll on my mind too.

I was even prescribed Artane, a drug used to stop the tremors in Parkinson’s Disease sufferers.  Fancy that, a drug to stop the side effects of another drug!

Never do I forget where I’ve been. I am grateful for where I am today but I feel somewhat sad that I don’t have the desire like others to want to go back to my early years.

It is sad that the fond childhood memories I do have do not outshine the negative ones.  The fond memories are not enough to make me wish I could go back in time.

I am so grateful to be where I am today. My past will never leave me but my present and future can only get better.

I give thanks to 12 Step Programs for my new way of living.  They have taught me new problem solving skills which I have been able to share with fellow sufferers of mental illness.

It is my belief that mental illness stems from dysfunction.  What I mean by that is as children we mimic the coping mechanisms of our caregivers.  When our caregivers have unhealthy/dysfunctional coping strategies, we as children learn to manage our difficulties in the same or similar way.  Our parents are our Gods, we trust them and trust that they know best and will tell us the truth and we model our lives on those of our caregivers.

We bring our learned unhealthy coping mechanisms into adulthood. By now they are comfortable and they are all we’ve ever known.

Learning to reverse our old belief systems, our old coping mechanisms and to do things differently and functionally is a long hard journey.

There is only one way to travel a long hard journey and that is forward because like I always say, I’d never go back!

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I know you are there;

I search deep within my soul;

To find another clue;

A smell, a piece of clothing, surroundings;

Anything to take me one step further to your face;

My eyes bore into nothingness;

Trying hard to draw a memory from my subconscious;

But I cannot;

Is it true that trauma has stopped me from remembering you, them or it?;

Or am I just clawing at something that is not there?;

It makes sense that you abused me as a child;

My behaviour today reflects the truth;

But my eyes and heart won’t let me see;

God, show me who you are and what you did;

So I can set myself free;

And heal my inner child.

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I know very little about Amy Winehouse but when I read of her death and reports that she had been a drinker, drug taker and self harmer, I wondered what was causing her so much pain.  So I took the time to take a look at what had been reported on her family of origin over the years.

Amy Winehouse with Daddy's Girl Horseshoe & Naked Lady Tatoo

When Amy was 2 years old,  her father Mitch Winehouse reportedly began having a ‘not so secret’ affair for eight years before leaving the family home to be with his secretary/mistress when Amy was 10.  The Winehouse kids used to call their father’s mistress “Daddy’s work wife”.  I can only imagine the emotional pressure Mitch was under trying to maintain a business and keep two women happy at the same time.

She reportedly took the news of the family separation ‘all in her stride’ and it ‘didn’t seem to affect her’ according to her father yet she suddenly became more independent.

I can only imagine the thoughts in her head would have gone something like this:

  • “Can’t trust anyone anymore, need to look after myself now”;
  • “I’m not good enough”;
  • “I am alone”;
  • “Nobody loves me”;
  • “I’ll be good and he will come back”; and
  • “I need to be strong, mum needs my help”.

Fear of abandonment runs very deep and when you have a father that is not emotionally available to you, you do what it takes to get people to notice and love you.

As an adult, it seems Amy went on to seek out emotionally unavailable men, trying to make right the wrongs of her past yet ended up repeating her childhood like so many of us do.

However I do applaud Mitch Winehouse for publicly admitting his wrongs.  He would not be the first parent to walk around with their head in the sand not realising exactly how their actions affect the lives of their children.

If we had more people in the public eye opening up about their parental errors, the world just might start listening.

Mitch Winehouse, the power is in your hands. Let’s not let Amy’s death be in vain.

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There’s a hole in my bucket dear Liza dear Liza, there’s a hole in my bucket dear Liza, a hole”.

My grandmother used to sing that children’s song when I was young but little did I know I would have a hole in my bucket (my soul) when I grew up because my caregivers were so focussed on each other and my father’s alcoholism they were emotionally unavailable to me.

As a result I developed coping mechanisms, ways to help me feel loved, wanted and accepted for who I am.  I tried to fill the gaping  hole in my soul  the only way I knew how as a child, by self medicating through fantasy and role-playing.

In essence, I stuck a band aid over my hole when I needed love and comforting.

Band aid’s eventually wear thin and get replaced with new ones, sometimes bigger and stronger.

I still carry my band aid close to my chest but it has served little purpose except to temporarily patch up my underlying problem – pain, loneliness and an inner longing to be loved, accepted and wanted by my family. 

I can scream, rant and rave that life’s not fair but it won’t change the fact that I cannot go back to my childhood to ask my caregivers to meet my un-met needs.

It is now up to me to fill the hole in my soul by reaching out to a power greater than myself to provide me with the love and acceptance denied of me in childhood.

I can do this by reading 12 Step and self-help literature, attending 12 Step meetings, talking to other members and/or attending counselling.

As I watch a few grains of yellow sand fall into my bucket I am reminded of what a slow process this journey is and every now and again the band aid comes away and I am reminded of the deep despair I carry within.

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When I was young I was pretty good at drawing birds and dogs.  My dad used to compliment me all the time.  Today I can’t draw for peanuts!  I try and try to get my talent back but it’s gone.  What the hell is wrong with me?

I Wanna Go Home!

I have no patience yet expect to produce masterpieces.  All I seem to come up with is child like pictures with no definition.  I have so many colours in my head but am unable to express them in an artistic ADULT way.

It’s so frustrating!  I so badly want to be good at something.  I have been desperately trying to find something I’m talented at.  I’m dabbling in all kinds of arts and crafts but where is my brilliance?

Perhaps I am seeking the approval of someone and pushing a lost cause or maybe I desperately want admiration from the outside world?  Am I setting myself up for failure by setting my sights too high (self sabotage)? These are things I need to consider in-depth.

I’m really down on myself today.  I’m having a pity party and I want to go home.  It’s safer at home, there are no meaningful responsibilities there.  Mum and dad will make all the decisions for me, cook and clean and earn the money.  I long for the time when all I have to worry about is taking out the garbage.

I wanna go home, please let me go home!

 

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There is nobody here to share my sorrow

There is nobody here to cut the ball and chain of my responsibilities, my chores

To allow me to run and play like a carefree child, to think of happy things and make daisy chains in the sun

When will someone hear my cry?

You walk away and leave me alone to deal with my internal sadness, you desert me

Who is here to soothe my pain, to love me and tell me it will be all right?

Only God, but Dad said God does not exist

So I am alone

I get tired of fighting for acceptance, to be heard, to be understood and to be unconditionally loved

But most of all I get tired of fighting to be considered, to be thought of and cared for

You cannot look at me, you stare away or down at the ground

You no longer care what happens, you are not interested in my words unless they are happy ones

I am an adult yes, but I am still a lonely child

It’s deja vu, its history repeating itself.

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