Yesterday I had ALL the mental health appointments. It was so much mental health focus.
I had a video session with my group therapist to process some relational stuff there because I’ve found myself crossing boundaries with her, in a way that doesn’t feel authentic to who I believe myself to be. So, we discussed how I can make my actions better align with my values. She gave me a values worksheet to fill out. She showed me a graphic of Be–>Do–> Have. So, we are something, we act in a certain way, and we gain something by acting in that way. It was pretty enlightening.
Then I had a session with K, the first one since the holidays. I thought she and I needed to work on the relationship, too, but that wasn’t actually true. Just being there, in the room with her, the connection came back. So, we focused on all the changes I’ve made over the break and on how I see my goals changing, given those new developments. The new developments being that I’ve started meditating every day. I’ve started journaling daily. I bought a heated blanket to try and help with my sleep. I cut down on taking excess pills to numb my pain or put me to sleep. I told K about all of this and she kindly said, “you’re like a whole new person.” I know this could have been taken negatively but tone was really important here. She didn’t mean it to be judgemental. It was like saying, “look at you go, making healthy decisions.”
A bonus to our session: her therapy dog. K recently switched offices, so now she gets to bring her therapy dog, Ava. I have no idea why but just her presence in the room with us made me feel more relaxed and open. I’m just an animal person, I guess.
K and I ended my session by talking through an impending appointment with the gynecologist, which I am very much NOT looking forward to, as if anyone actually does. The last time I went for my well-woman exam was years ago, so I figured I probably should… now that I’m dating again. But, the problem is, last time I was so triggered I just froze up and cried the whole exam. And she was trauma-informed. She told me everything she was going to do before she did it and she was gentle and patient. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I’ve just got so much trauma and it doesn’t help that I was made to go to the gynecologist for the first time when I was 12, before I was even having consensual sex (that in itself was traumatizing). All of it just makes this that much more awful. So, K and I talked through steps I can take to try and make it less awful. I’m going to meditate before I go. I’ll listen to calming music on the way. I’ll practice my mindfulness skills in the room, to try and avoid the fight-flight-freeze response. And, if the mindfulness doesn’t work, I’ll use my safe space visualization. Then, after, I will go somewhere public, like Starbucks… so I don’t have the opportunity to rush home and self-harm (which is what happened last time). I know it is going to be awful and I just have to survive, but at least we’ve talked through it and I have a plan to survive.
After my appointment with K, I saw my psych. I’ll call her AD. I really adore that woman. She suggested that we do the genetic testing to see if we can figure out meds that might work better for me. So, we submit that to see if my insurance will cover it; highly unlikely, given that most of those tests aren’t FDA approved and they are still pretty experimental given how much we still have to learn about genetics and the effects of psychiatric medications. But, it is worth a try. She also suggested TMS again. I’m apprehensive about this because it directly targets the brain. That point is exactly how she tried to convince me to give it a try, because there aren’t side effects like with meds and there isn’t trial and error since it directly effects the brain. But this is what I keep thinking, we once though ECT was a proper treatment. Now it seems barbaric. Treatments are constantly changing and just because there is evidence that it isn’t harmful, doesn’t actually mean that it isn’t. Again, there is still so much we don’t understand about the brain. And I like my brain, despite the depression and anxiety.
We also changed my meds. I made the decision to come completely off Xanax since I work in a substance abuse facility. I couldn’t shake the feeling of hypocrisy. Here I am watching people detox off benzos, while I take them almost daily. Not to mention the fear that I could become addicted, despite the fact that hasn’t happened in the many months I’ve been on them. I just thought this was best for me. So, I’m on a pretty high dose of gabapentin now. It doesn’t seem to do anything but I’ll keep giving it a shot. We also added propranolol. Again, not sure it does anything but I’ll keep taking it to see. We changed my sleep med from lunesta to trazodone. I’m not sure how long that will last. One, because it increases my risks of QT prolongation (because I am also on Citalopram). And, two because it gave me a raging headache. I mean, a headache so bad I could barely see or stand up straight. I’m not sure sleep is worth that.
At the end of my session, AD gave me a hug, like she always does. And she told me, “I really do love you.” Then she said, “I don’t know if I am allowed to say that to patients, am I?” I told her the hugging and saying I love you in counseling is frowned upon, but she has a whole other code of ethics, so I really don’t know, but it is something I very much appreciate. I feel nurtured in a way I’ve deeply craved. And it feels safe because I’m not overly attached to her.
Yup, so, that’s the newest in my mental health adventures.