Friday, October 22, 2010

Asking for Help is Not a Sign of Weakness

When I was growing up, any illness was met with anger and impatience, as if we got sick just to bother people.  A headache could be met with a growl and eye rolling.  Something more serious could be met with mockery.  At the age of 6, I was taught to make myself vomit so as not to bother someone who was busy with her cleaning.

This has stayed with more even more than I realized.  I am a good nurse to Marcy when she is sick, but mostly I am good at getting her things.  Not so great at the bit of babying that we all need sometimes (though I have improved a lot in that area).  When I myself am sick, I just get mad.  I have a hard time allowing for the healing.  This only makes things worse.

Especially things of the mind.

Rather than admit that I am as bad as I am, I put on a good show.

I have repeatedly told Marcy, "I just don't think you hang out your dirty laundry."

But this was really just a cover for shame.

I am ashamed that I suffer.

This, of course, makes the suffering worse, because I attach all sorts of stories to it about self worth and gratitude and on and on.

But I suffer.  My emotional pain becomes so great that it turns into physical pain.  Though I have never been actively suicidal, death sometimes sounds like a relief and the idea of it lurks around corners, on busy streets, near water's edge.

Since I started dancing, my symptoms have gotten worse. I've written here that I attribute this to a greater awareness, and I believe that.  Now that I have tasted such joy, I can no longer numb myself so easily and that means I am also tasting bitterness more acutely.

On Wednesday, I think I hit my bottom.  I will not go into the gory details; those are for Marcy and me alone.

But by the middle of that day, when the worst of my Storm had passed, I realized that if I truly love Marcy and our life, it was time to fess up.

I am ill.  I need help.

It is imperative that I treat this, for a while, as my Main Job in life.  So we are structuring a detailed plan, including more Mass (it helps me), more Reiki (ditto), better sleeps, better food, but also, we are investigating a specific type of therapist for me -- one who practices Dialectical Behavior Therapy*, a therapy that has proven to be truly efficacious in the treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder.

(*I am currently making my way slowly and carefully through this workbook.)

I do not like labels and I am not considered "severe" (partly evidenced by my willingness to ask for help), but you can read symptom lists and check off every single one only so many times before you admit, oh, maybe this is me.

BPD is also referred to (and I think much more accurately) as Emotional Regulation Disorder.  There are neurological, genetic, and environmental components that create this disease.

Some psychiatrists and psychologists also think that Complex PTSD and BPD are pretty much the same thing.  There is a TON of crossover and the same therapies tend to create wellness.

And then there is the P Word -- Pharmaceuticals. I am willing to try them for the first time in 16 years.  The first and second time I did this (many years ago), they made me violently ill, but I am desperate.  We asked a friend, and the words "side effects" came up.  I did some more reading, and for now, the horrible nature of the side effects really outweighs the benefits.  For BPD, they usually put you on at least three things, and then that doesn't even necessarily really help.  I am not willing to do that to my body yet, as I believe very strongly in the power of my mind and other therapies.

But the important part of that paragraph -- the really big change in my thinking -- is that I am even willing to consider that road.  Just not yet.  I want to give other things time and effort.

The fact that I am willing to come out to friends and to ask for help and to find a therapist...this is Big Growth for me.

I refuse to just stick my finger down my throat and act like everything is okay so that no one is bothered or uncomfortable.

Nope. Time to rely on the love of others. Time to show myself compassion by saying, "I am in pain and I am in trouble."

No more hiding what is really happening.

My (and your) life depends upon it.

(I'll keep you up to date on progress and what we try that works, etc.)


Linnea said...

Once again, you show remarkable bravery and caring for others by sharing your journey with us.

It is OK. It will be OK.

I'm rooting for you all the way (and will be sending you an email or Facebook message later today).

The Other Laura said...

I am sending prayers and light your way.

just me said...

Sending you prayers of healing and love.

Danny said...

Death ain't all that bad. It's getting dead the scares everyone.

Emma said...

GOOD WORK. I am giving you a standing ovation.

You're overcoming a huge load of abusive programming to reach this point.

Take it a step at a time. A great therapist will help you make informed decisions about things like drugs. Side effects are an issue, but unfortunately you cannot know if they're an issue for you until you've worked with a good psychiatrist (NOT a GP) and seen how your body reacts. My partner is on pretty serious drugs (for good reason), but has minimal side-effects due to finding the right fit. Anyway, that's just one aspect of the journey. Don't let it overwhelm you. (I guess I just need to speak out on this because as much as there is overuse of drugs in some circles, there's a lot of misinformation in more 'holistic' circles that stops people from getting serious help for serious issues.)

Anyway, more applause!! I agree totally that the important thing is being willing to try IF that becomes the right path.

I am totally supporting you. (And if anybody doesn't, show them the door. You're doing hard work and need to be surrounded by support.)

brandyv said...

Having been into the pit of hell also known as PTSD, depression and the like myself, I can tell you there is excellent help in Erie. I lost my ability to work, be a wife and mother, to function. After losing almost everything I deemed important, I finally sought help. Coming out of this maze has been difficult, but so very worth it. I consented to meds for 3 years. 17 weeks ago (yes, counting), I ended that regimen. On the other side now, I can honestly tell you it gets better. If you would like some personal recommendations, feel free to email me Much love to you and your choice to seek the help you need!

afriendtoyourself said...

Hello BlissChick! You are important. Great plan to join your journey. I liked your writing too! good blog and good post. keep on!

Brooks Hall said...

Hi Christine! I wish you well in your journey! And I'm thinking of you today because I'm on my way to Kripalu. It was about this same time last year that I met you and it seemed as though your world was opening up! Keep going, courageous woman—in the way that's best for you! Which can keep changing… sending Love!

Elizabeth Pope said...

You are incredibly brave & honest & doing the right thing in asking for help. As a PTSDer from childhood trauma, I spent a lot of time suicidal & disassociated & bulimic. It took a decade of yoga for me to value myself enough to ask for help & get it from friends, loved ones & finally a psychiatrist. It makes a huge difference that you speak out as you make this journey. Support is there for you, in all sorts of ways. Including here!

Renae said...

Takes a lot of courage to engage like this Christine. DBT is good stuff, I hope you find the therapist that fits and that she adjusts the therapy to work for you. Not much one for labels either - they are just that - labels - but if a symptom checklist helps you to get help - then that's a good thing. I second the recommendation of finding a great psychiatrist if you incorporate meds. GP's just don't have the expert knowledge to help you get everything adjusted correctly and help you make your way through the side effects if there are any.

Grace to you on this journey. I honor your courage.

Heather Plett said...

My dear brave-hearted friend. I have so little to say, and yet I feel that I must let you know I am here, bearing witness to your story.

You are loved and held in a circle of people who long for you to find healing. People who have been touched by you - many of whom have been helped toward their own healing by YOU.

Love to you.

LauraX said...

Oh sweetie, I'm so sorry your feeling so ill, and so proud of you for courageously sharing this part of your story. Story telling is so you know from my blog, this has been a powerful part of my personal theraputic approach to caring for my emotional, spiritual and mental well being, even though my body is breaking down gradually...faster some months than others. WE are all here for you. I totally understand the scary medicine side effects thing. My one med...the infusion I get every month...the nurses officially are required (and they do) to hand me a pamphlet to read...every other page of the pamphlet has bold letters that says: "TYSABRI increases the risk of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), a rare brain infection that usually causes death or severe disability, TYSABRI is generally recommended for patients that have not been helped enough by, or cannot tolerate, another treatment for MS. TYSABRI does not cure MS and has not been studied for longer than two years or in patients with chronic progressive MS." I always just look at the cover and say..."yeah, I know, I know, this stuff could kill me." And then they put in my IV.

I'm not telling you this because I think you should take the know your body, and you are making wonderful progress just by being open and honest and seeking therapy...I'm just telling you because I understand scary. I understand hard choices. I have chosen to stay on this drug (it is now 11 infusions) because without it my quality of life would likely be far worse than it is now. It's a big risk. But for now it is slowing down the progress of the disease in my central nervous system...and I am grateful every day for the blessings that fill my life.

Again, I want to say, YOU ARE COURAGEOUS! and that courage, that Divine light that shines through your words on your blog, your dancing and teaching and your loving relationship with Marcy...all of this will see you through.

May you feel safe.
May you feel happy.
May you feel strong.
May you feel ease of well being.

even if just for this inhalation.
even if just for this exhalation.
one breath, one moment, one step at a time.

E said...

I just wanted to share with you that your blog has been an almost saving grace for me. I am currently going through the darkest part of my life and although I cannot exactly understand exactly what you are going through - I feel the language of suffering is universal. You have put into words what I am still struggling at times to feel. I just was moved to let you know that God is truly using you as a beacon of light for those of us still lost in the dark.

Wild Roaming One (WRO) said...

Christine, it's been awhile...

Your post today stirred up feelings in myself that I am battling with along the same lines. Admitting that it's time to call in "the experts" takes alot of courage (although it takes courage to even recognize the courage)...

I wish for you a journey of health through your ever aware relationship with yourself and your psych (for a lack of a better term).


Brandi Reynolds said...

christine-it may sound cliche but I see such bravery in you. And strength beyond measure.

much love and light-

Anonymous said...

Hi Christine.
I was wondering about your statement "When I was 6 I taught myself to vomit, so I didn't bother someone who was busy cleaning"
I was wondering if you could articulate that- it left me confused.
(If not- its ok)

I was wondering if you've tried
st. johns wort tincture.
The tincture is very powerful, and
is not even comparable to the capsules.
If you take the tincture twice a day, it is found to greatly uplift mood.
Another thing you might want to try is skullcap tincture. Skull cap is a very powerful anti- anxiety... and it could definitely help with moments of trial-

I don't like pharmaceuticals either, I would be curious at how well these things would work for you over a long period of time.
Also maybe planting a st. johns wort plant in your house in a pot... making it your ally... listening to it.. the greatest herbalists call this plant "liquid sun" besides lifting mood, it has many vitamins and minerals that would help heal.
Also omega 3 is very important for anxiety and depression, and is shown to have a marked affect in those who took it rhythmically for a couple month span.

I find that waking up and drinking a green shake, with cucumber, apple, kale, honey, bee pollen is a great natural help to emotions and health.

Anyway I hope this helps.

and I would even call this post "asking for help is a sign of great strength"

Anonymous said...

I've read your blog for ages but have never really felt called to comment until now. I'll keep it short.

I have Complex PTSD and BPD. I spent most of my teen years in and out of institutions and critical care units.

DBT saved my life.

While like you I hate pharmaceuticals (probably because I was on more than I could count as a teen), I've discovered that I need Welbutrin to stay afloat. There's no shame in that.

I'm a Reiki practitioner and it heals me daily, again and again.

For the first time in my life, I think I need to be open and aware of the fact that I have an eating disorder. I've never told anyone and any symptoms have always been attributed to BPD. (I manipulate people by not eating, I hate myself because I'm splitting, blah blah blah.) No one ever cared enough to look beyond the already "difficult" diagnosis of BPD. I was turned away from so many health care providers because I was too "complex" for them to deal with, because BPD was incurable. One pretty cap to cover up my mess, no one cared after that.

But YOU- your willingness to dig deeper, to uncover and reveal all your tender and aching bits of pain and past. Your STRENGTH in revelation. You have given me (and I'm sure many others) the strength to be completely aware of myself.

I'm calling my doctor today. I'm going to get help. I finally think I might be worth this.

I wish us both the best of luck. During my reiki and meditation tonight I will think of and thank you.

Christine Claire Reed said...

Anon -- the person cleaning was my mother. By being sick, I was interfering with her work.

Anon 2 -- Thank you for the distance reiki. I respond well to energy healing and appreciate any extra! :)

Everyone -- thank you so much for the support in these comments. You are all amazing. May we all find peace and health and may we become guides for others.

Smith Tam said...

I am in the same boat right Now. On the Inside I am screaming, but on the Outside, I put on a good show. I suffered a Brain injury in 2008. Things have not been right since. I do not take any drugs. I pratice Witchcraft as a way to cope. It helps alot, but I still have my good days and my bad days. Sometimes I just wish it would all go away, but then I remember that this is reality. I cannot wave my Wand and make it all go away. I have to continue to live every day as if it my last. That's all I can do. Blessed Be! )0(