"Success is not measured by what you accomplish but the opposition you have encountered and the courage
with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds."

Orison Swett Marden

Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye...and I'm happy to see you go...2010.

Christmas 2010 Photo

Happy New Year to you! It’s been months since my last blog entry. So much for writing regularly, huh? Unfortunately, with depression sometimes comes a loss of concentration and that is what has made it so difficult for me to write. But I couldn’t let the last day of 2010 go by without writing a review of my year. My niece is so positive in her last blog entry that I feel like the most negative person on the planet, but I write it as I see it, I guess. I’ll do my best not to paint too black of a picture for you though.

2010. On one hand, this year has flown by. On the other, it’s dragged on and on. My depression took its hold very firmly in the first months of 2010. I spent time in the hospital in February, March and April, plus an additional month in a daily outpatient program. The month I spent in March and April was like a roller coaster ride. I’ve been in the hospital many, many times since my first admission in 1982, but this was one of the worst. Some pretty bad stuff happened and it has made my life hell but thankfully I have not let it get the best of me and have not been re-hospitalized. I was forced to change therapists so I spent six months with someone that didn’t help me a bit. It wasn’t until talking to my doctor earlier this month did I realize that I felt like all my power was taken away from me. It seemed like all the decisions about my health were being made by others and I realized I needed to take that power back. I hadn’t seen my therapist for about a month so I just wrote a letter and told her I was no longer going to be her client. After doing some research, I made an appointment with a therapist at a small private clinic. I have a couple more weeks to wait for that appointment but it’s going to be very different this time around. I am calling the shots. I know what I need and if he can’t give that to me, I will look elsewhere. I have an awful lot of stuff to work through, even from just from this last year, and I’m getting nowhere on my own so I need to find someone who can really help me…on my terms and not someone else’s. Wish me luck!

At the end of August, I finally started doing my volunteer work for the Dawson McAllister Association. I am a HopeCoach on TheHopeLine (http://www.thehopeline.com/). It is a national help-line for young people ages 13 to 29. I had signed up last fall but with my own health problems, I was not able to start right away. I usually take calls on Sunday nights when the radio show is on, as that is when the need for volunteers is the greatest. Even though I continue to experience my life in all its drama, once I sign on and open the line for calls, I am the furthest thing from a victim. In my time talking to these young people, I have realized that I have learned SO, SO much over the years. I’ve even pulled stuff I learned back in 1985 and used it to help my callers. I’ll tell you, sometimes I am amazed how together I sound when I am being a HopeCoach! One gal even told me one night that I was the most amazing person she had ever talked to. Can you believe that? Oh, that was nice to hear!

I have thought for so many years that if I could not give back and use the things I have learned from all the terrible things that have happened to me in my life, it would all be in vain. I am finding that, as a HopeCoach, I am using those experiences, the things I’ve gone through, the things I’ve learned, often the hard way, to light the way for someone else. It’s a fascinatingly wonderful feeling. And it so cool to see how God works in all of it because I feel like most of the calls I get, I get them because I am supposed to. It’s also helped me a lot in my prayer life…in learning how to pray for others as well as my personal prayer life. That has been really cool too. I am so glad I am involved with this wonderful organization and I thank God for leading me there and giving me the courage and strength to keep doing it.

So…2010…I think it will go down in my record books as the Year of Broken Trust. Yes, someone broke my trust and in a very big way. In a way that still has me reeling and it’s been months. But it took a long time for that trust to develop so I suppose I could use the analogy “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” I honestly believe things could have been handled better but that’s how things went down…in a flurry of disappointment, confusion and anger. On the other hand, I did learn something about myself. When I trust someone to that level, I end up trusting that person more than myself. I am still deeply hurt by the whole situation but I know that this person is gone now and I have to learn to trust myself. I don’t know how much trust I have ever had in myself…that would explain some of my troubles with low self-esteem.

But I’m taking it all back now. I will never trust another person to the level that I trusted the person I lost. Partly because I don’t want to get hurt like that again, but also because I don’t think it’s the best thing for me. I am the only person I am going to be stuck with for 100% of the rest of my life so I have got to be able to “get along” with myself and trust myself. I have to take care of myself, stick up for myself and my rights, because no one else is going to do it for me. That’s why I have been forming a clear picture in my head of what I need out of my new therapist. I am not going to be pulled back into thinking that they always know best…because I know they don’t. I know what I need. My last therapist said that the past is past, over and done with, so it’s no use talking about it. What the hell kind of theory is that? I was molested when I was a teenager and I haven’t completely dealt with it. I had some awful things happen this year to me at the hands of providers, no less, and I need to work through it. I haven’t been able to get past it so I continue to place blame, feel the disappointment, confusion and anger. I’ve got to deal with this. So if my next therapist isn’t willing to talk about the past, I’m just going to say, “Sorry, this isn’t going to work out” and walk out the door. I trust that I know what is best for me at this point. And it’s not like I’m new at this game. I’ve had to find a way to deal with mental illness one way or another since I was 12 years old. I’m 46 now. That’s a lot of years and it’s about time I start giving myself some credit.

So to put it in a more positive light, I guess I could call 2010 The Year of Taking Back My Power or The Year of Self-Trust. After all the events from the beginning of the year, I have learned some things about my illness, or perhaps my eyes were just finally opened enough to see some things I needed to see. My new crisis plan is exactly what I needed and I actually use it now if I have to. And even though I have felt like a basket-case most of the year, it is to my credit that it does not look that way on the outside (at least not since my hospitalizations). I don’t know if someone like me will ever be completely rid of self-harm thoughts, but I’m finally realizing how that will harm others in my life and it helps me keep them in-check. I don’t know if I’ll ever be hospitalized again. Only the Good Lord knows that. With my track record and my kind of illness, it’s likely. But I won’t sit around and wait for it and I’m going to do the work I need to do, and maybe, just maybe, sanity will prevail. Wouldn't that be nice?

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