Switching Therapists

When you are so high-functioning that numb and rah rah are your default feelings, it’s interesting to say the least seeing how it shows up in your life.

I had an experience recently that brought this front and center. I’ve been seeing a therapist for about 2 and a half years. She retired a few weeks ago and assigned me to a new therapist, who I had my first session with recently.

So let’s talk about therapy first.

Therapy has been an on and off coping technique for me through the years. About 3 years ago, I began to lose my grip on hope and purpose again and that’s why I took up therapy again. The story of finding help is another exhaustive tale that I’ll tell another day. I’ll admit that I’m still uncomfortable admitting that therapy is something I need as a part of my toolkit. The truth though is that it’s been a worthwhile choice, especially with my last therapist and I’d really come to think of her as one of the most important people in my life, albeit sometimes not my favorite person. She was the person that I could be and express it all to who was not in a hurry to fix me or make it easier on herself to hear by whisking me up into “the sun will shine again and this is just part of the journey” speak (which btw, is not helpful when someone is spiraling. It just isn’t and I’m sorry that doesn’t work for a lot of you/people. Perhaps, I’ll explore those whys later as well.).

So you’d think that when she dropped the bomb of news that she’d be retiring a month from that date, I’d not take it extremely well. That I’d have some trepidation. That I’d express some type of concern.

The most interesting thing is that I actually couldn’t access any feeling. I couldn’t tell if I was upset or disappointed or feeling betrayed or abandoned. My default polite demeanor and rah rah ness kicked in and I immediately started thinking about how it might be 1. A sign that I didn’t need therapy anymore and/or 2. Just something else to deal with and move through.

My therapist gave me the choice to take a break and assess myself in a month or so or to continue with another therapist and ultimately I decided to meet the person that she recommended. Therapy *has* been a great tool for me and I’m not quite yet ready to put aside one of my best tools just for the quest to *be better*.

Two things about that: 1. I’ve been coming to the slow yet comforting realization that it’s not about some end point of “I’m better now”. It’s the journey and the journey is what keeps you better. The work is what sustains you and the work is always being done.

That might sound depressive at first, but it’s not at all. It’s all that self-care turned into self-love that I’m always talking about in my teachings. You’ll constantly be peeling back layers and having new epiphanies. Even with being on the frontline of helping others get to where I am from where they are (which is where I was), I’m always understanding more.

Back to our topic though, I had my first session with my new therapist and one of the things she mentioned was that I might have some feelings about having to switch therapists and how hard that might be. And until she mentioned that, I hadn’t really thought of it.

And after my session, the more I thought about it, I realized I hadn’t thought about it because I hadn’t given myself the permission to have an opinion, especially not one that was unpleasant or upsetting. I’ve been so used to *sucking it up* and *keeping it moving* that I had just learned by default to bypassing *feeling something*, let alone expressing it.

This is truly about layers, because in my life in general, I am the queen of processing. What I’ve also fallen into though is being the queen of getting back to feeling good as soon as possible.

And that my friend, is not always a plus.

What I’ve noticed is that by not letting myself acknowledge my reactions to things that make me sad (that are not in my control) – particularly the way they make me feel – I never give myself a chance to truly work through it, thereby truly releasing it. I’m pretty sure that my life trials are testament to the danger of what lurks beneath the surface when you don’t fully process and instead just turn up the rah rah.

So in true, peeling back the layers fashion, I’ve been exploring the idea of sitting with what I’m feeling. This isn’t a new concept or a concept new to me at all, but I believe I’m understanding it on a deeper, more impactful level now. It’s been eye-opening and freeing to allow myself to have my emotion without worrying that it will create some horrible consequence in my future, perpetuate the things I don’t like about my present, or keep me stuck and feeling bad.

By allowing myself to just be with what I’m feeling, I’ve had so many more epiphanies. This may sound extremely cliche, but there really is a great gift in conflict. And there is so much relief in coming to the knowing that I don’t have to “get it all back together in a hurry”. That I don’t have to be *good* or a role model of positivity at all times. It all ties in together with letting myself off the hook. Yes, I get to let myself off the hook. I get to be a messy mess and sad and blah and a debbie downer and aghast, it’s ok. It’s really ok. It’s really so ok.

So I’m working with that concept and practicing it and observing myself and learning from myself and continuing the practice. It’s really magickal. This time in my life is full of metamorphosis for me. It’s as exhilarating as it is difficult. It’s worth the ride though indeed.   

 

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Allowing

I am learning so much about myself in my willingness to look deeper and be even continuously introspective about my whys and my subconscious motivations. One thing I’m learning to really embrace is acceptance. That’s been a hard concept for me. On many levels. It’s been difficult at times to accept what is. For instance, in my relationships, I’ve teetered along the line of having a dream of how I want it to be, trying to do my part to create that – but then also *letting* it be exactly what it is right now without wishing it to be my dream.

On first glance, that feels like a “no duh” statement. I’ve done so much self-reflection and experienced so much personal growth that saying that feels like saying the sky is blue from down here. Yes of course it is. Our perspective makes it so.

But I’ve come to realize that it’s not always about knowing what the perspective is. I’ve talked about this often – the theory vs. the practice. I know so much in theory. I’ve learned so many coping strategies and techniques. It’s when I need to put them into practice is when I sometimes realize another layer needs to be peeled back.

I had that experience this week. I realized that something that I wanted to be a certain way wasn’t. And I have been figuring out how to make peace with that. One of the difficult things about living with depression and anxiety is the tendency towards black and white thinking. I’ve found it so difficult to explain to people that don’t understand it. If you are reading this and you are someone that can live easily in the grey area, please know how blessed you are. Seriously. I didn’t know there was such a space as grey until fairly into adulthood. It requires EFFORT to anchor myself to it and pull myself back to it when I realize I’ve slipped into an extreme. It can be exhausting even though wallowing in an extreme is exhausting as well.

And the other thing about grey is that if you don’t often reside there in your mind, it’s all new territory. Your poor little ego is absolutely handicapped. It has no idea how to handle this new experience.

This is what I’ve been grappling with this week. Even today, I’m realizing a little more about what’s going on. My ego is resorting to bombarding my mind with danger signs. It’s afraid, it wants to keep me safe, it wants to get back to what it knows. And what it knows is my dreams and my past – and the fact that they aren’t syncing in this present moment. It’s really hard for my ego to grasp hold of the possibility that something other than those two could not be dangerous. That something new could actually be better than what’s known – ha! That’s a ridiculous proposition for my ego.

And so instead of fighting against this and trying to silence my ego and shut down the low feelings and only focus on teh better feelings. I’m just allwoing. I’m allowing myself to feel what I’m feeling. I’m allowing myself to look at it and ask questions about it. And I’m not requiring for it to go so fast. I’m not requiring it to leave. I’m not demanding that I get it together.

It’s new. But I believe it’s healing me. I’m willing to watch and wait and watch and wait. <3.

Reflections on being honored at the Shades of Beauty Expo

Hey party people :).

I’ve been wanting to post my video here for a week or so. As life has it, I had an icky bout of bronchitis (which I talk about in the video) and travel and some personal ups and downs and let’s just say there’s been a lot going on.

But in this video, I share one of the things that hit me looking back on my experience as a finalist at the Shades of Beauty Expo. There are some profound shifts that I realized I’ve made that I wasn’t fully aware of until that day. Happy shifts that show so much growth and a purpose for the struggle :-). Take a listen:

Where my voice has disappeared to this month…

It’s Suicide Prevention Month and I feel like I should be saying something. I feel like I should be adding my voice to the conversation and continuing to do my work to help people feel better about not feeling ok AND to help people who don’t experience not feeling ok understand it better.

 

But for some reason, I don’t know what to say. I’ve been falling into the trap of looking at how other people are serving and feeling like I’m not doing it right. I’m finding myself feeling like “here goes another thing that I will get left behind in and be unable to make an impact about.” But even as I write that, I know it’s the wrong perspective. I know that it’s just the anxiety and its best friend depression trying to turn up their volume.

 

What’s the most important thing they say in business? Keep your eyes on your own paper! Stop worrying about what the next person is doing and just do you. That’s so powerful – across the board in life.

 

I mean when I’m honest, I do know what to say. And I do know that I don’t really have to say anything. I *know* that just by virtue of my life, I am an advocate. Just by virtue of me sharing my story the times that I have, I am a light to those around me. I know that I encourage others – whether I’m quiet and contemplative or whether I’m speaking in volumes with videos and engagement all over the place.

 

I think what this is mostly about is the angst of *wanting* to say something and the fear that kicks in that it won’t be *good enough*. I’m feeling the rub of wanting to share what’s gurgling under the surface and letting the idea that it’s not structured or that I haven’t thought enough about it or that my random sharing will just simply not be enough stop me. I could give it all kinds of qualifiers but it basically boils down to not enough.

 

I know that everyone deals with these kinds of thoughts but I wonder if the effects of these kinds of thoughts are a little bit harsher when you deal with the depression and anxiety loop. What I know for sure is that it can be paralyzing. The kind of paralysis that I’ve been experiencing all month in fact :). I mean honestly, it’s the 20th and I haven’t posted 1 live stream and this is the first I’ve written about it. Obviously, something is going on under the surface :).

 

So my commitment to myself because I’m going to grow so much from it is to say something – be it via a repost, a video, a livestream, a commentary. Suicide prevention is important. I know firsthand how all the small things that happened after my attempt were the things that kept me alive. Especially in those days and weeks right after, the support of the few friends that knew meant the world. And the technique and tactics that I learned to put into place after to rebuild my life and make sure suicide wasn’t a viable option anymore were crucial.

 

Even if I just say that, that will be enough :).  

When walking the dogs makes you anxious…

I was walking my dogs last night and grappling with my usual rise and fall of stress and anxiety and it dawned on me that “this probably isn’t normal – well normal in the sense that this is probably a thing most people don’t experience.”

So boom, something to talk about here right :). That stress and anxiousness that I get around walking my dogs – that I’ve always gotten and have learned to cope with and dial back – is absolutely a symptom of high functioning anxiety.

Let me explain. You may be thinking “what the heck are you talking about? How can that give you stress??” Or you may be sighing a breath of deep relief that you aren’t the only one. Either way, I’m here for you to shed some light, some understanding and some hope.

My dogs are not well-mannered. They bark at mostly everything. Especially Charlie. When I adopted them, I didn’t have the extra money to put them in doggie obedience school so I tried to get them under control myself. These are two little feisty, hyper dogs – one over-protective and on extra-watch dog alert ALL THE TIME and the other hyper nervous, timid and mostly shy most of the time.

Walking them, especially in the beginning, was a tug and a pull..dragging Charlie away from other dogs, animals, cars, etc and picking SuzyQ up when she refused to walk anymore because something freaked her out.

And then queue in stress because my walks were supposed to be meditative and here I am outside and I’m not enjoying the weather or being in the moment because I’m so worried about the dogs. And now they want to sniff every single thing in the world on the ground and linger for minutes at every single clump of grass and so poof, there goes my belief that walking the dogs could be a form of exercise. And then shouldn’t I let them do what they are feeling drawn to? Aren’t I stifling their experience if I’m constantly moving them along instead of letting them stop at their whims. And am I training them right if I give them a little yank to keep moving? That’s what I read in the book – but is that hurting them?? And oh gosh, now here comes another dog family – I’m so embarrassed now – my dogs are so ridiculous. They probably think I suck as a dog parent.

And on and on it could go – literally dragging my mind around and around – turning something easily enjoyable and therapeutic into a tortuous exercise that I “get through” instead of “get to do”.

And it’s like this a lot of the times when you  are on constant alert to be the best you can be and get it right all the time. I’ve come to realize how dangerous that drive to “better yourself” can be when out of check (which is often the case in the mind of the high functioning depressed and anxious individual).

Out of check means that you don’t innately have a base point of ‘okness’. You don’t have the basic belief that you are just improving upon yourself because that’s how you get closer to achieving your goals in life. Instead your basic belief is that you are horribly flawed and that you MUST strive to be better because your default is shamefully inadequate, shamefully being the pivotal word here.

And the worst part, when you are in the trenches of it, is that you just can’t figure it out. You just can’t figure out why you are so stressed. You can’t figure out why you can barely breathe at the mere thought of something like walking your dogs. You can’t figure out why something that seems so simple to everyone else is a major undertaking for you. It’s something that can send you right back into bed – telling yourself that in 5 more minutes you are going to get up and walk the dogs. In 5 more minutes, you’ll face the staggering, breath-stealing tension. Just 5 more minutes and then you’ll submit to coaching yourself through yet one more thing.

This is why it’s so tiring to exist with high functioning anxiety when you don’t know what’s going on. It’s because the effort to get through basic things, especially in a way that looks ‘normal’ to everyone else, is quite extreme.

And this is why it’s so isolating – because to everyone else the struggle seems silly. Even writing this, I feel silly knowing how much I used to struggle. I am fortunate though that I’m beyond the point of caring that much :-). Turning 40 does that ;-).

But for so much of my life I cared and I isolated myself because I didn’t want anyone to know how extreme ‘my crazy’ was. And this just created so much resentment and desperation within me because I desperately *wanted* someone to know my extreme and love me anyway. I desperately wanted someone to care enough to assure me that I was ok and that I could get through it and that they would be there to help.

Novel idea even to recovered Leah :-). But an idea that I’m hoping is becoming more and more commonplace, real and available. That’s one of the hopes I have with this space – that it creates more understanding and more avenues for everyone to be cared for just a bit more.

 

Faking it…

It’s been 2 weeks since my last post. But it’s been a legitimate 2 weeks :-). I’ve had major life happen. Major life as in surgery. Not major surgery, but sit-you down-and-chill-you-out surgery yes. I opted to have my gallbladder removed. Yes, let the shocks and gasps of “omg, how could she” subside – I made a decision that made sense for me. And I think it actually has something to do with my high functionism breaking down just a bit. A bit of the facade shattering. or fading. Just getting less there.

Let me explain.

Super granola, natural for as long as it has counted, herbalist, chakra-balancing, green witch proclaiming Leah decided to do something totally against the non-establishment and have her gallbladder removed. Of course conventional medicine is all for it because if a non-essential organ is causing your drama – ditch it. But the more holistic approach is always to work with it, try to bend to it, try to figure out where the root of it lies and to try to heal it from there.

And yes. Yes in my heart of hearts I’m all for that. Absolutely all for that. But gosh darnit don’t I try enough. I mean. I TRY ENOUGH. I TRY every day of my life. I try to see the bright side. I try to look at my last failed relationship with said soulmate who stood me up for lunch and NEVER WAS SEEN OR HEARD FROM AGAIN and see how it’s benefited me in some way. I try to look at my last failed product offer and see how it’s just given me more information to make better decisions with. I try to see how taking on temporary work to make ends meet doesn’t equal complete and utter failure regardless how rosey and peachy it must look outside in.

It’s all in stride right.

So when this came along. This totally out of the blue, makes no sense gallstones diagnosis, I admit, I kinda folded. I did do the strong naturalista thing for a bit. I decided that I could manage it with my diet, that I could just figure out what I could and couldn’t eat and just never eat those things again. That I could just will it away and that my body would heal itself as long as I addressed what was wrong. But you know what, willing it away rarely ever works. It’s still very much still there. You are just wearing your blinders now. And you know what else? I have no idea what’s wrong. I have no idea what rage I’ve been carrying with me, what issues I’ve been stuffing, what wrongs I haven’t made right for myself. Because I am a next best-selling self help book in the making. I mean I am in *constant* self examination mode. Exhaustively so.

And so I just decided with this that if my gallbladder was deciding to make gallstones, with all of my attention to proper diet, proper mindset, being the best me I can be, working through my issues, etc etc. then it probably was not exactly salvageable. And that the best thing to do was to go ahead and remove it and *then* deal with the issues it presents.

That’s a huge step. It’s a step that many people might not understand or get fully and I suppose that’s ok. But it’s a huge step because I’m not faking the “it’s gonna be ok, I’m gonna rock through it.”

The truth is that it kinda sucks. It’s totally inconvenient right now and I can’t ignore it and I’m not. I’m not going to act like I haven’t had a hard time with it. I’m not going to pretend that “woop woop, I’ll just breeze through this and solve it with my zen”.

I don’t think that’s served me super well to date because what it leaves you is alone. When you are dealing with the fear and the funk and the ugh, you don’t really have resources to call on in public (or even semi-private) because remember – you are fearless. You are supposed to be the one that just rolls through.

And it’s not so much that I’m saying that I’m not the one that rolls through. I’m saying though that I’m not the one that *just* rolls through. It takes a lot to roll through and I’m not afraid to share more of that process. Because trust me, it is most definitely a process.

So here’s to not faking it anymore :-).

I need to write…

So I’ve realized that I need to write in order for this blog to actually have a life :). Novel thought right? Lol. It’s truth though. I’ve had many thoughts about what to write and I’ve had revelations and epiphanies about what would be useful to someone trying to understand the tangled mind of someone high functioning and depressed.

But nothing has made it to “paper” until today. Today an interview posted that I did with a really amazing site named I’ve Been that Girl. It’s an empowerment blog that talks mainly about women and their recovery from toxic relationships and the process of choosing better and loving yourself enough to do so.

What I was interviewed for was a feature on Entrepreneurs. When I was contacted, I was truly honored. I’ve been interviewed many times but it always feels like a great thing to be asked again.

What was different this time though is that I was content to *not* leave any parts of my journey out of my entrepreneurial story.

In years past, I have always told the top version of my life. The glossy one that talks about my accomplishments and my vision. About how driven and dedicated to my success I am. About all the serendipities and points of gratitude.

I’ve rarely ever shared about the spiral of depression. The stops and starts. The frustration and desperation. The feeling like you will never be free, never get it together – never have a different version of life.

Well in this interview, I shared it all.

And I have to say that it feels good. It feels good to not hide behind “what might this person think.” It feels very freeing to just tell it all the way.

And here it is :): https://ivebeenthatgirlonline.com/2017/08/04/high-functioning-depression-is-real-how-this-multi-business-owner-didnt-let-it-stop-her/