How can we really see?

What if we could look at the world and really see it? I mean seeing it through the eyes of imagining. I hope that in reading these posts, the eyes of your mind will open and let you see more, feel more, and think more about the world.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Why me?

I know this is a phrase we hear a lot when people are whining. Why me? What did I do?

In this case, I'm wondering why two of the people I loved most have completely turned their backs on me and walked out of my life after years of supporting and loving them. I am, quite frankly, heartbroken.

First was my best friend. She started dating someone while I was out at school. Someone she knew I wouldn't approve of because he didn't financially support himself, had a criminal record, and engaged in illegal drug use. She knew I wouldn't think he was good enough for my 4.0, crazy-smart, incredibly pretty best friend. And she was right. However, even after running off with him and not telling anyone in her family that she was leaving, like a teenage lovesick girl... I still tried to maintain a relationship with her.

I was the one there for her when she needed me. I was there when her boyfriend walked out and didn't visit for the end of her pregnancy or the first month of raising her daughter alone. Then, the baby daddy waltzes back into her life and suddenly her best friend of over twenty years means nothing again. Nothing. I was only the one to hold her child so she could get a nap in after staying up all night, even though I'd just gotten off of working 3rd shift and really needed sleep myself. The one who repeatedly gave her rides places, made sure she had everything she needed, and threw her a baby shower. But apparently years of friendship and supporting her emotionally mean nothing now that he's back in the picture, because he despises me.

Sorry, I guess, for thinking my best friend deserved someone who could financially support their child, and doesn't take off for months at a time. But this is only the first abandonment I've experienced in the last year.

The second was my sister. The one who would wake up when I had night terrors and calm me back to sleep when I was little. The one who used to play games and make forts with me. She said even as she cut the rest of our family out of her life that she still wanted a relationship with me. And then, just like that, she blocks me on facebook and stops contacting me, even though I'm only a town away.

She asked me to be her maid of honor at her wedding before the split. Now, I sit and look at her announcing she just got married. A wedding I wasn't invited to. And pictures of her baby girl that mutual friends are sharing with me. A baby I will never get to hold.

And I wonder what I did to lose both of these women who were so close to my heart. People I put time, love, and caring into because they were so dear to me. What did I do to be abandoned by them?

Sometimes I wonder if my mental illness pushed them away. That maybe my months of depression just got to be too much for them. Maybe they got tired of the pain I tried to hide, knowing I may never be able to marry or have kids because of my illness.

I wonder if I was too much of a burden for them. If maybe, I'm really a burden on everyone and they are mostly too polite to admit that their lives would be easier without me. My best friend and sister certainly appear to be happier now.

I really hope they are happy. I only wanted the best for both of them. I love them. I miss them.

Suddenly the Victim Emerges

I've been doing pretty well with my depression and PTSD. I've mostly been sleeping through the night, and have been dating a guy who has really helped me overcome my physical fear responses... very cautiously. I felt great!

...until the other night. The other night I was at the gym, and ran into the guy who assaulted me when I was 15. I couldn't even say anything, because suddenly I was doing my best not to hyperventilate or bolt out of the room like a frightened animal.

I started shaking. My breath wouldn't get into my lungs! I felt like I was going to throw up. We soon left, and as soon as we were in the parking lot I told my mother who I'd seen there. She did her best to calm me with food and a short drive in the car, but when we got home I was still anxious and shaking. I was on edge for hours afterward, and couldn't settle down enough to sleep.

Several friends, my boyfriend, and my mother all worked on me to help me calm down. Eventually I was able to relax. However, this got me thinking...

Am I still a scared victim, after all this time? I thought I was better...

The truth is, what happened to me left literal physical scars. They're invisible to the naked eye because they're lesions in my amygdala. That's a part of the brain that often shows damage after severe emotional or physical trauma. That's right! Traumatic experiences can leave part of your brain damaged. Right now I'm trying to combat that damage by seeking therapy again (this time from a middle-aged woman) and by meditation. Sounds hokey? Scientific studies have shown significant improvement in depression, memory issues, and PTSD patients due to regular meditation.

In fact, through nightly meditation just before bed I've been sleeping 6-10 hours a night regularly for the last two months. I was sleeping 3-6 a night. This improvement has been amazingly helpful to my general emotional state and has also successfully lowered my anxiety and stress levels.

But right now, we're going to focus on my apparent relapse. That's all I can think of to call it. When I saw my assailant, I regressed to a terrified 15-year-old girl who desperately needed a good cry. I was terrified. Despite the fact that my attacker had gained quite a lot of weight and I had gained about 30 pounds of solid muscle, I was still scared he would overpower and hurt me. There is no logic when it comes to fear. Your fear response kicks in, whacks the part of your brain that controls it, and you're suddenly terrified even though you logically know you could completely beat your former assailant to a bloody pulp.

Despite the fact that I'm very confidently muscular and trained in several different forms of armed combat, I was still scared that this man would harm me. There were other people all around us. Large men who I'm sure would come to my assistance should anything happen. My own mother who would be more than happy to hurt him for what he's done to me psychologically. ...and yet I wanted to curl up in the fetal position and bawl like a small child.

How much more therapy will I need before I can face that fear and back it down? How much longer will I have to live in fear? Will I have to move away from my home forever for fear of ever running into him? These are the ongoing things I have to deal with, even with my PTSD and insomnia getting under control.

I don't know how to solve this. I don't know how to make this better. I'm scared, and I don't know where to turn except to God for comfort and my loved ones for support. Hopefully it will be enough.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Why I like rap music.

As an LDS member, for years now, I've had other mormons ask me how I can "stand" rap music. It's easy, really.... the same way I "stand" every other genre of music I listen to. It's called ENJOYING IT.

I've heard them say things like: "How can you listen to that crap?", "How can you not think it's horrible?", or "Ugh, I despise rap, why do you even listen to it? The lyrics are so awful!".

Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but not all rap music is full of cuss words, booty, and alcohol references. I mean I still listen to some songs that do have that kind of stuff in the lyrics, but there is certainly plenty that doesn't include it whatsoever. Dismissing an entire genre of music because you think it's all "dirty" is ignorant and juvenile. Now, hang on, I'm not saying you aren't allowed to dislike it!

You are perfectly within your rights to dislike music because it's too fast, too loud, too screechy, you don't like the beat, etc. There are plenty of legitimate reasons why people are allowed to dislike one genre or another. However, lyrics should not be the main reason, because song lyrics are as diverse as the people who write them.

And I bet you're still wondering, why do I like rap so much?

Because they can talk so blastedly fast.

Seriously. That's the entire reason I started listening to anything in the genre. They talk fast, and it really impressed me.

Why? Because, despite the fact that I can silently read rather quickly, with a 90-100% comprehension rate... I actually have a really terrible stutter when I try to read aloud or speak too quickly.

I know, shocking! Some people who have known me for years still don't know this about me. You know why? Because I make a concerted effort to never have to read aloud in front of anyone. Ever. Never ever ever. It embarrasses the crap out of me and I'm ashamed of it.

School was a nightmare for me, because I never knew when I'd be called on to read out loud in front of the whole class. I sometimes spent hours alone in my room, reading my books out loud in an effort to improve my stutter. It has helped somewhat, but I still have a problem with it.

Honestly, I'm kind of horrified by the idea of having to read books to the kids I hope to have... every... single... night. :(

My children would hopefully not laugh at me, but I'm still mortified by the thought of it.

So listening to rap music, for me, is really awesome... because they do something that I could never in a million years hope to be capable of doing. I admire their talent and their effort. Some people don't see it as anything impressive, but to me it's one of the coolest talents in the world to have.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Are you feeling SAD for the holidays?

Winter comes, and so do the holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day. All of them involve eating or consumption of alcohol in some manner. They can leave people feeling stressed, depressed and fat. But is it all their fault? Could it be that those symptoms aren't due to holiday madness, but to an actual chemical imbalance going on in the brain?
Do you find yourself growing more withdrawn, depressed or apathetic as winter waxes onward? Is your energy level lower than it was during the summer? Have you gained weight steadily over the winter, and not just immediately after holiday meals? Then you may be suffering from SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder.

What is SAD?

SAD is a seasonal form of clinical depression. It has the same symptoms as clinical depression, but it usually lasts only for the winter season. Unfortunately, it can sometimes develop into full-blown depression.

How can you tell if you are experiencing depression?

You will feel hopeless, apathetic and tired. Loss of concentration and interest in normal activities is also a good indicator. If you find yourself withdrawing from social situations or making excuses to stay home alone, you may be experiencing SAD. Another good indicator is an increase in eating and weight gain not directly linked to a holiday you celebrate. 
People often make excuses for themselves, saying that they have spent a lot of time out of their homes already today, and deserve to stay home and relax. Sometimes they decide that eating one more cookie won't hurt, because they worked so hard to prepare that meal. Or it's snowy outside, and why should they leave their nice comfy houses? This is okay, usually. If it becomes a pattern, and you find yourself leaving home less and less often, it may be developing into seasonal depression.

How can it be treated?

Like most depression, drugs and therapy can help, but unlike normal depression you are more often capable of treating this yourself by following these simple steps:
Sleep seven to ten hours every night. Sleep just enough to feel well-rested, but not excessively. Excessive sleeping is feeding into the depression, not helping you cure yourself of it.
Eat a steady, balanced diet. This can be difficult over the holidays, but just making sure you're getting enough fruits and vegetables can make a huge difference. Foods high in Vitamin D are extremely helpful, as SAD is partially caused by a lack of the sunlight that helps you produce it yourself. Keeping your leafy greens and veggies coming in will help you maintain healthy levels of nutrients and vitamins. Keep this in mind as you go back for another serving, and plop some more spinach or carrots on your plate.
Another great way of treating yourself at home is to get a light box and do light therapy.Light boxes of an adequate emission level are available online at Amazon, or from other stores for less than $100. Do some research, you might be able to find them for a very good price at a store near you. The light box should start making a serious dent in that depression within three to four weeks. If it isn't working for you, go seek a professional.
Finally, meditation is a great way of decreasing your stress and treating depression. Cognitive meditation especially can help improve mood and memory problems as it helps your amygdala.

Good luck this winter. Keep yourself healthy in mind, body, and spirit.