Sunday, August 26, 2012

0.166666667 mpn

Long weekend. But I got to swim today! I went back to my slow and steady pace this time and I swam a mile (36 laps) in one set. Before leaving for the YMCA, I ate 6 Fig Newtons ... that comes out to 0.166666667 miles-per-Newton. I'm such a geek, but I can be happy w/ that.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Space: The Final Frontier

In the past few days, my Wifey and stepDaughter have been out of town. And I've had some time to myself off from work.  

S P A C E 
  • Space to walk around the house and converse out loud with all my parts. 
  • Space to get Dolphin out of the trunk of my car so Little-J can see him.
  • Space to let Zen sort together more of what my parts thoughts and feelings mean in the big picture of my healing.
  • Space to let Jeff make Blueberry pancakes w/ whipped cream, watch Japanese Anime and highlights of the Olympic swimming.
  • Space to leave the seat up ... a special privilege which any guy who lives in a house of females can understand  :) 
  • Space to be a total geek and let Dr-J have some time to watch endless Netflix and YouTube videos on TED talks, Antarctic Ice Melting, Dolphin Behavior, Electric Cars, Extra-Solar-Earth-Like Planets, Algorithms and Massive Ocean-Crossing Container Ships.
  • Space to let Chris turn out all the lights in the house and watch a Deadmau5 concert and let Montreal have a "Doggie Dance-Party" w/out enduring my stepDaughter's teenaged eye-rolls at how lame and embarrassing I am, or my wifey's odd looks about how I am such a poor dancer [its true, I dance like I'm having a seizure, but I can accept that, why can't anyone else]. I'm listening to Tiesto music as I type this. And bopping around in my chair.
  • Space to walk around, look at the wedding & family pictures in our house and appreciate out loud how much I love and am grateful for my family. 
  • Space to eat Chips-&-Salsa with breakfast.
  • Space to let Mature-J vacuum out, wash & wax my car.
  • Space to let Jeff pace around the house w/out Wifey asking "Did you take your [ADHD] medicine today?"
  • Space to get a six-pack of Hardees/Red-Buritto tacos and enjoy them w/ a  beer for lunch.
  • Space to let Montreal enjoy that looking up at the surface of the water from upside down moment as I do flip turns in the pool. 
God knows I have needed this SPACE for months and I could use a few more days of it. My father-in-law is losing his battle w/ cancer and Wifey is naturally very upset. So I feel like I've needed to drink-in this time because once my beloved family returns. I will need to be a strong support for Wifey, and I say that w/ a spirit of empathy and responsibility. Time to get back to my list of cleaning up things before Wifey and stepDaughter arrive back home. I Love them so, so much. And although the moment will be somber when they arrive, I am looking forward to hugging and supporting Wifey.

Augmented EMDR & the Doctor is IN

I've been outta touch for a couple of days, but I want to try and capture what my therapy session was like last Thursday. 

My therapist said this was a good opportunity to begin to do some parts work.

My therapist wanted to try some augmented Eye-Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR) and my Zen part decided that Little-J & Montreal (6 year old twins) would not have enough time in a 60 minute session to open up and say what they needed to say and then have to abruptly shut down so that I could safely drive home. We scheduled some 90-minute sessions in the future so the twins could know they'll have their time and they aren't being overlooked.

It was pretty fascinating to me and my therapist how I was able to have this 'team meeting' in my mind. Co-Consciousness is a gift if tethered to some sense of direction, otherwise co-consciousness is like being a substitute teacher thrown into a kindergarten class of hyperactive children. And that sense of direction is what I have been needing for as long as I have been in treatment.

Anyway, whether by default or design Dr-J got to talk. Now, Dr-J is the part of me who is pretty close to my core self and who is in the driver's seat at work. Also, Dr-J is the part of me that in the past I have presented to my past therapists, so that our discussions would be more like 'shop talk' on clinical perspectives and theories, rather than to go into the scary world of emotions. This is why at almost 48 years old, I am still dealing with past traumas, bc Dr-J stealthfully deflected the previous therapists' questions about feelings and spun every other therapist's comment into some intellectualized response while name-dropping some author or study. None of the other therapists were wise enough to get it that there was a change the subject at all costs program running in my mind.

I believe my Dr-J part was born out of my experiences of cutting school to get away from being called out, humiliated and hit ... and instead of cutting school to get high or getting into other trouble, I would take refuge in the public library and I would get a stack of books and find an isolated seat and read & read, trying to learn how to make sense of this world I was in. And so learning about everything became paramount as means of self-soothing and also as a means of giving my mind something to do besides be aware of the present-moment. 

At first my therapist was going pretty much by the EMDR playbook and asking me goals* questions and Subjective Units of Distress (SUDS) estimations while she was filling out some form. *Well its pretty tough to answer goals questions when the answers could be coming from eight or so part's perspectives, and I have no idea who will actually show up and talk ... Dissociative Disorders are not like some county fair freak-show, where you can puts parts on display on your command. More likely (for me anyway) everybody shows up all at once.

Dr-J who is very pragmatic just blurted out (something which "I" would probably not be so bold to do) "Why don't you just ask me what its like to be me?"

So the process was the therapist would do a round of the finger movements across my field of vision, to get the bilateral component (activating both hemispheres of the brain) of the EMDR going. 

And so indeed my therapist asked "What is it like to be You?"
...  and I acknowledge I may be rambling here, but I can't seem to capture the significance of this moment for me ... I have been having the thoughts, moods and behaviors of my parts for years & years and here was like the first time I was being given a chance to be whichever part, without having to filter myself. In fact the un-filtering of my emotions and thoughts will be what breaks the dam and facilitates my healing from years of keeping things to myself to make others less uncomfortable, or to avoid conflict and violence.

At one point I said that Little-J & Montreal were 'watching' this whole process and so I paused, got my stuffed "Dolphin" [that's his name] out of my backpack and held Dolphin as a way to acknowledge my twins, even as I resumed Dr-J.  So if you summarized the content of what Dr-J said in between rounds of EMDR here's what came out of the session.

I heard a part of myself saying things which were surprising. Dr-J acknowledged missing a woman I had dated in the past who literally had a genius IQ (> 170)  bc Dr-J missed the deep and educational conversations we had. Dr-J discussed feeling bored in my current circumstances and frustrated bc there are so many things to learn about and explore, and yet I am unable to afford even the gas money to drive to a book club meeting or some interesting speaking/networking event. And Dr-J voiced wariness of my Zen's part "New Age'ie" positivism.  In fact, to me Dr-J came off as kind of 'snooty' at times. But Zen reminded me that was Dr-J's defense against getting too emotionally close.

And the odd thing is that I voiced my awareness that Zen was 'watching' this and was not offended by Dr-J, instead Zen could see how my life had been directed towards emotional healing and now was more balanced than just 'hoarding data' to avoid feelings. I owe that increased emotional balance to my beautiful heart Wifey. She is indeed a wonderful example in being free with her whole range of feelings. So as I begin to be more aware of my own feelings by watching her, I am more animated, agitated and anxious bc of her. I had to stifle a hell of a lot in my earlier life. 

My therapist was amazed and said she had a hunch that a lot of Dr-J's comments and frustrations had been brewing for awhile but "I" had not allowed myself to let loose and voice my feelings. 

We ended the session with my therapist suggesting that I try to find some kind of outlet for my need to learn and experience knowledgeable things. 

Monday, August 6, 2012


Amazing -     How can we the human race, manage to form a team of creative individuals who worked together to do the immense mathematical calculations, engineering, electronics, construction and launching of a robot vehicle precisely timed to arrive at another planet in it's own orbit, millions of kilometres away 
. . . manage to also promote violence, greed, intolerant religiosity, and taking advantage of vulnerable children with a mockery of empathy and 'treatment' by the lowest bidder?  We all as humans are more similar than dis-similar, no matter how we experience 'God' or how our culture is different;  we all have to share this world. 

Nonetheless, I was almost brought to tears as I watched and re-re-watched the footage of the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) team celebrating their joint achievement. I needed to see that there may be some hope for us, after-all.

Someday, I really want to look back at my own 'team' of dissociated emotions, images and unique perspectives and celebrate my own team's brilliance and amazing accomplishments.  Anyone with Trauma/Dissociative Symptoms has damn well worked hard enough for us to celebrate our resilience and our own 'engineering' achievements. 

Monday Meeting Madness

At work today I attended an in-service training on autistic spectrum disorders. During the presentation my ‘terror’ part was screaming on the inside and repeating in a panic, his usual mantra “please don’t kill me, I’m just a little boy!” and I felt ‘terror’s’ desperate need to hide under the conference table in the fetal position, (of course I didn’t scream or hide, but I just sat there).  At other times, I had to suppress an urge to gently poke my arm w/ my pen – not because of any major rage driven self-harmful gesture, it was more like a grounding attempt (which I didn't do that either).  So I ended up blinking really hard every so often as a way to keep myself together and not ruin my career by becoming a screaming, under-the-desk-hiding-arm-poker-with-a-pen. And at other times I was 'Dr-J' who was following along the w/ the speaker’s slides, making logical notes on my handout and understood every bit about the diagnostic markers, best practice treatment considerations and family supports needed for children w/ autistic spectrum disorders – I recognized 'Little-J' felt very sad and wanted to cry about how limited the services are for children w/ autistic spectrum disorders and I was aware of 'Jeff' who was very angry and cynical  about how it seems to him that only wealthy families of autistic children could ever get the support their children needed.  And still at other times, I had to squeeze my pen really hard bc I noticed my hands were shaking. All this cycling and switching back-&-forth during a 90 minute presentation. [WTF is happening to my life?]

Even though this kind of multiplicity during my everyday life is not unusual for me. I felt a sense of fear and sadness (especially about the pen-arm-poking thing) bc that IS unusual. I do not entertain thoughts of self-harm, I Love my wife and family and yes, even myself too much for that. But "where the hell did that come from?" was the unanswered question which un-nerves me. 

Minutes after the meeting, I got a phone call from my upset-wifey who is struggling in her job, too (bc nurse assistants everywhere are asked to carry unethical patient loads) – so I didn’t mention any of my own stuff to her; instead I listened to wifey and gave her boatloads of empathy & reassurance. Then I had to find time for a few deep breaths and to try and stop shaking and focus enough to try to accomplish enough productivity to keep my own job.  I NEED A MIRACLE !!! ... Living with the unending financial stressors of not having enough ... Working with the fear of not being productive enough ... Struggling to keep my parts from making it all come crashing down ... and losing my career, and further financially burdening my family ...  And knowing damn well what I need as far as treatment, but not being able to afford it, SUX !!!

Baking a frozen pizza for dinner. And since there's a thunderstorm outside I knew the pool at the YMCA would be closed, so I didn't even bother trying to swim when I drove home, after a 10.5 hour day bc it took me that long to make my productivity numbers.  

Does this story sound familiar to anyone else coping with a trauma history through dissociative symptoms?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Quick Summary of Therapy Today

Therapy today:
  • I discussed more of the conversations and insights I am gaining from my parts and clarified more about some of my parts which have been telling me about themselves.  
  • There was more discussion of the culture of my parents' church which I attended as a child and how the church was such a catalyst for dissociation when things were so surreal there.
  • My therapist discussed more about how I don't seem ready to acknowledge yet how everything I have been through is an impactful story.
  • I discussed how my focus has been more on accepting myself as having parts and being 'gentler' (therapist's term) with them.
  • And I agreed how I really am not ready yet to delve into her astonishment that I have managed to function so well for so long ... bc  ...
    • I want to get my 'team' working together, first
    • I don't want to just open up a part and then have to abruptly reground myself to be able to safely drive home
    • Am I ready to accept that I really am pretty damn amazing but that being amazing was in the contrast of some very uncomfortable images, body feelings and emotions.