© Michelle Routhieaux 2019
I was asked recently by a therapist to make a vision board for myself. I really struggled with the assignment and it took two weeks but this is what I came up with.
©Michelle Routhieaux 2019
I don’t understand. I may have written about this before but I don’t remember and I don’t really care.
I don’t understand. To me it’s a simple phrase with a simple meaning. There is no extra fluff attached, no alternate meaning. Last year my therapist and I got into it because I kept telling him I didn’t understand what he was saying and he told me he believed what I meant was that I didn’t agree. Nope, only disagreed with that.
I don’t follow like other people do. Or maybe I follow too closely. I am cursed with the ability to spot errors, omissions, incongruities, however small. I need the info coming at me to make sense and if it doesn’t I will say that I don’t understand. I am blunt. I ask questions. I have no qualms with raising a stink to get an answer. It is especially disturbing to me when someone “answers” my questions with responses that are unrelated. I will state so and repeat the question, rephrasing it if necessary. A few years ago I started giving up after a few tries but not before stating that my question had still not been answered. I have somewhat of a fan base in some settings because of it. It’s not fulfilling to engage with someone who’s not the slightest idea what I’m talking about. In fact, it’s maddening – probably to both sides but for different reasons. I’m looking for information. If the person doesn’t have it, or won’t give it, it would behoove them to just say that.
People think I’m being rude or annoying. They jump to conclusions about my motives or what I really think or mean. I’m accused of alternate intentions. They tell me what I should say or do or think or not think instead. They often get very upset that I don’t understand and/or that they don’t understand what I mean when I point out whatever they said doesn’t make any sense – in general, not just to me. If they stop to follow the line of thought and learn what’s missing, sometimes they will admit that it really doesn’t make sense. Usually instead I just get confronted with anger, accused of things or people just walk away or insult and then ignore me, then pretend it never happened.
Sometimes the topic is important to me and I’m upset AND don’t understand. Usually though, I’m somewhat devoid of emotion or visibly confused or disturbed when asking questions attached to, “I don’t understand.” I can’t always communicate very well in that state. It’s the mockery and invalidation that usually push me over the edge. I’m not stupid. I can read body language and I understand your words.
Over the years I’ve learned how to convert curiosity/question/notice/wonder straight to bitter hopelessness and move on with my day. I can feel my self turn to ash and float downwards inside me as I do nothing or walk away. Fighting the thought that I don’t matter isn’t worth it because in those moments it’s completely true. What I have to say or my concern or thought doesn’t matter and if I pursue matter-ing it could (and has) make things worse. I ask much like Sheldon Cooper, with a level of non-intellectual understanding only slightly higher.
So I end up hating people. That I very much understand. I “speak Michelle,” as a provider of mine said long ago, and not many others do. I am cross-lingual in a few other person-dialects, but in observation the two-way mirror only reveals one side. This morning’s argument was me asking for details about an event I was asked to donate something to for a raffle, which I believe is questionable but didn’t point out.
Excerpts from convo this morning:
Person B: We always have raffle giveaways at our events to promote wellness…
Person B: Why what (sic)
Me: Why have a standard of giving things away?
Person B: It’s not a standard. It’s something we like to do for our members. Why not? It’s generous. Omg!! You don’t like free mental health stuff??? Interesting.
Me: Don’t put words in my mouth. Free mental health stuff is fine sometimes, but it all costs money and at the end of the day I have to sit with and justify on paper what we spent the group’s money on. Does that make sense? I don’t mind contributing to your raffle. I just wanted to know the details.
I was livid but calm in text. If in her language “always” doesn’t equal a “standard,” there is no purpose in trying to get through.
It’s harder for me to interact with other humans I don’t understand than to harm myself by attempting to fill my own needs without engaging them. This afternoon’s debacle is within myself about why the HELL I can’t do anything today because I can’t think because my head hurts on the one day I have actual time. (PRN)
So very alone. I hate myself.
I don’t understand.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2018
© Michelle Routhieaux 2018
Please consider contributing to this fundraiser for my good friend Kathi to attend her brother’s memorial. She does so much for me and we’ve been friends for years. As well as all of her work at DBSA, since January she’s been driving me to my appointments while I can’t drive due to ECT. Kathi is humble but strong. I want her to get the closure she deserves. Even if you can’t donate money, please share on social media or wherever else you can. Every prayer and penny counts. :)
The fundraiser is here → https://www.youcaring.com/kathicoynekathleensoper-800189
© Michelle Routhieaux 2017
I feel so good. My body is really sore and I can’t drive but I feel light. Colors are crisp and clear. They may only last a moment but I have ideas. I smile warmly for no reason. I breathe deeply without having to think.
Today I had ECT (my 1st since April). A change in anesthetic caused some problems but I am so much better. I am blessed with an amazing doctor who genuinely cares about me and a dream support team. Friends are helping with rides. I am released to rest and sleep (both from my depression & ECT).
It’s been almost a year since I was doing somewhat okay. My current therapist says he doesn’t recall ever seeing me not in crisis. Late summer I started to get worse. My repeated calls for help fell on ears that considered them my norm. I prepped to go inpatient in Sept/Oct but thanks to an amazing arsenal of coping skills and extra sessions of therapy I was able to hold off. I asked for ECT. My doc wanted DBT-IOP. I got pushed into a different program instead due to my people being in DBT, despite my multiple warnings that it was not a good idea. It was, as anticipated, a catastrophe that ended with an event appropriately described as trauma that I’ve yet to be able to process. In 1 day I went from 25+ hours of treatment/therapy per week to 2-3 hours. Not good.
Lately my suicidal ideation has been through the roof. I’m fighting for my life. I’ve also been impulsive, angry, self-harming, dark, unable to access empathy, scared, feeling alone and hopeless. Last week I called my therapist at midnight. I packed for the hospital. I cried.
They laid hands on and prayed for me at church on Sunday. It was unexpected yet utterly calming. I was surprised last week when my pdoc offered ECT. In one moment she validated and made my ongoing normalized experience true. I was confused. Even this morning I was panicked as they put me under. But Dr. M had my hand and I could feel God and see the outlines of my angel and D- and some unknown to my left. I am exhausted and sore but I am okay.
God, thank you for blessing me with family & friends and kick ass doctors. Please continue with my healing and keep using me for Your will.
My next treatment is Thursday. I wonder how long they will last – not the set but how long between treatments before the effect begins to wear off. I’m itching to do weekly. I can drive then. ;)
I enjoy resting and sleeping now. And rain
Update 1/31/17 1:46am:
I had a treatment on Thursday and another today. The weekend was really bad but I feel better now. I’m getting some rest and reminding myself to do one thing at a time, be “gentle to self,” as we say in group. I’m proud of me and grateful for my treatment team, my friends and ECT. There is hope in electricity.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2017
Now that all the crazy end-of-year giving charity hype is over I have to ask, have you Smiled yet?
I’m always looking for new and easy ways to raise money for my group DBSA San Diego. I love Amazon Smile. Here’s how it works:
- Charities can sign up with Amazon for an Amazon Smile account.
- People like you and me go to smile.amazon.com and sign into Amazon. If you have a direct link, you can choose that charity easily. If not, you can search from a list.
- Then just start your shopping from smile.amazon.com instead of plain old http://www.amazon.com. An easy way to remember is by just using the Amazon Smile extension for Chrome that you can find here. Sometimes there will be a pop-up to remind you if you’re on the regular site.
- When you buy things through Amazon Smile, your chosen charity gets 0.5% of the price.
To choose DBSA San Diego, use this link: https://smile.amazon.com/ch/46-4731973
The location says Chicago, IL because that’s where we’re headquartered.
Shopping through Amazon Smile doesn’t cost you anything extra. You only have to sign up once. All the same products are available. You just get to help out in a really great way. There’s even a little note by each product if it’s a purchase eligible for donation.
I’d appreciate everyone joining to support DBSA San Diego and sharing with friends.
Even if you don’t support my charity, it’s a really great program.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2017
© Michelle Routhieaux 2017
I just signed one of the electoral college petitions online for Hillary. I don’t actually think it’s a good idea though. Somehow I’m aware that if we don’t give Donald Trump the chance to prove himself or fail, this divide will just grow and get uglier. Like when I tell a doctor I know their treatment choice is not a good option for me, sometimes I have to try it anyway to PROVE that I was right. I know it’s dangerous. I know I don’t like it. I always know it’s probably what we need to do. If my side is wrong and the country is magically better, GREAT! I don’t care who fixes it. I can admit I was wrong if the outcome is good. Being willing to suffer for the right to be right is a necessary cost that not all are willing to take. In fact, right now I’m dealing with the fallout of being right in my treatment. But I’m still right and now they believe.
Do I hate/despise/openly curse Donald Trump? Yes.
Do I feel hurt by the statements his supporters make about me? Yes.
Do his policies and promises and those of his people directly stand to ruin or end my life? Totally.
Do I understand why some of his followers follow him and believe? Yes.
Has any Trump supporter I’ve encountered mentioned stopping to consider how his presidency might affect me? Nope.
Did I vote though my vote doesn’t count? Yes.
Do I want to know what is happening in this presidency that will affect me and my loved ones for better or worse? Every damn thing.
Do I understand any of this? Nope. That’s probably a blessing.
Whatever side you’re on and for whatever reason, fight your fight. Just make sure you know what you’re fighting for and why. It really matters.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2016
I’m sitting here watching the Presidential debate. I feel so disheartened. I back Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump as a President would literally kill me. But that’s not the issue for me. The issue is pride.
I remember the last two elections. I followed them closely and supported Obama. I posted on Facebook and put up yard signs. I have an Obama sound card. I felt proud to be an American. I felt involved and I felt hope. My viewpoint mattered and my response was wanted. Not so much now. I even went to local candidate events.
(listen to them talk about entitlements – VERY important to me)
At least for a moment there was involvement and acknowledgment of people like me by Bernie, a chance to rise and make a change. But it’s gone now.
I don’t post this as political commentary about a specific candidate but as a WTF about this election. I want to be able to trust the leaders of my country. I don’t want to be ashamed of my leaders or avoid the topic or change the channel each time it comes on. I want a candidate to rise up with.
“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” is on tonight. It’s the 50th anniversary. I’d rather have Lucy as my president.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2016
Trying to write something difficult… So I went shopping… and put stickers on my keyboard. I was sitting on the floor where I usually sit but the smell of dog urine on the rug and the drama of Cedar Cove on the tv have pushed me to the kitchen. I don’t know what to say…
(eat cereal and scan a drawing to distract)
My brother died last week. Well, almost 2 weeks ago. I found out last week I am the legal next of kin. I’ve been asked to sign over my rights but that’s not what I want. I’m very angry about some of the things that happened, and worried about the effect of my actions. “Family” can be such a nasty thing.
I also found out on Thursday (yesterday) that if I want to continue on in Phoenix Rising training I have to do it in Colorado or Vermont, that I can’t do Level 2 here. It’s what I’ve been looking forward to for months. I already didn’t know how I was going to pay for Levels 2 & 3. I didn’t anticipate adding travel in so soon or needing to be stable enough to travel on my own by November. I can’t keep up. I don’t know what to do.
My drawing this week said I’m not alone and that I’m not running. I feel myself not running. In fact, the world seems to be standing still. But I do feel alone. Very. I wish I could feel that moment of wisdom where I wasn’t.
Today I got an email from the management of a choir I sing with. They had talked about us singing at some event on the Midway but never sent out info. Now it turns out they’re giving us a month’s notice to commit to two days of rehearsal in a row followed by the show the third day. This would be great except I just bought concert tickets for a whole group on the first day and I have a support group event the next. Fuck. I don’t understand. It’s Comic-Con. Why can’t one of those superheroes come and rescue me?
I feel like I’m bitching about stupid problems no one needs to hear about anyway. Except for I need to hear about them and I’m eerily quiet. I’m doing the best that I can. I really am. I’m taking my meds, going to my appointments and therapy. I see myself stronger and more grounded than years ago. I know what I want and I’m not afraid to stand in the fire for what’s right, even if I get burned. I’m just learning what it feels like to rely on faith.
I ran over the large remnant of a blown-out tire on the freeway Wednesday evening. I didn’t notice a problem until last night when I stopped to pop the bumper back into place. I told my mom and she discovered it has torn that piece under the car that stops stuff on the road from flying up into the important parts of your car. Lovely. She duct taped it. I think it needs more than tape but she won’t let me file another insurance claim. Last month I scratched a car in a parking lot. For the trivial nature of it it was quite the trial.
I miss how life used to be. I know it sucked but I miss having friends. I miss hanging out and liking each other and staying up all night at a coffee house and having pancakes in the morning. Now most of us have gone our separate ways or are busy or crazy or, let’s face it, dead. When I needed someone to sit with me this week to figure out my brother’s arrangements I literally didn’t know who to call. I went through my phone and finally settled on getting resources from some people I’m on a board with. I cried almost the whole day. Then I sucked it up and helped a friend. I didn’t want to lead a group on Monday but I took one when needed. And when I needed to pass it off at the break because I couldn’t take anymore there was no one there to take the clipboard. The people who used to work crises with me are not there anymore. My transition committee didn’t even show up to the last meeting – not a single one of them. (pause)
Maybe my relationships are affected by my place in the group, but I know that’s not all of it. (fall asleep on the floor) I’m friendly but distant. I don’t share a lot with people, though they share so much with me. I don’t show up to social events I’m invited to, most of the time because I am legitimately tired. And somehow, thanks to -, everyone thinks I call PERT or force people to go to the hospital whenever there’s a crisis, which isn’t true. I miss having friends.
I really want to complete the Phoenix Rising training. And I want my family not to hate me when I have the guts to make my decision regarding my brother known (probably tomorrow). I don’t think doing my best is wrong. It’s just hard sometimes.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2016
I sit in Target. My insides tremble. My face wants to scream. I just left the DBSA event. A fair amount of people showed up and were happy. No one asked me about M-. A few people asked how I am in general, never touched the subject. It shouldn’t be a secret.
Yesterday M- broke up with me. After several months of escalating issues he had reached the borderline of verbal abuse. Constant fights, arguments & insults, passive-aggressive and manipulative behavior. He continuously reminded me I have “no relationship skills” and even stated multiple times that no other boyfriend would put up with the shit I give him. I’m not a “normal” girlfriend. This isn’t a “normal” relationship. I know. He makes so many assumptions and believes them to be truth. Ego flies high between crashes. “Walking on Eggshells” for Borderline doesn’t begin to describe it.
He posted on FB that we broke up both on my wall and in DBSA. In the DBSA post he also said he didn’t want comments and requested that people let us both grieve, said we’re too good of friends and plan on remaining so. Bullshit. BULL-SHIT.
I’m not grieving. I’m not sad. I’m angry. I have taken so much shit from him recently. It’s not okay but I let some of it slide due to fear of a spike in suicidality, which I was correct about as indicated by his new FB photo. I’m angry that he’s not working on his issues. And I’m angry that he needed me to let him go, asked how much longer I was going to make him lie in bed all day alone. I can’t do it. I have managed his money, been involved in his healthcare, answered his calls and texts and put up with some very hurtful things he’s chosen to say. The recent severe symptoms are difficult to handle but I won’t be mistreated or berated or used.
Each interaction begins and/or ends in a fight. He tells me over and over how I have to sacrifice for him, that I’m not a “normal” girlfriend, that he loves me IF I change. He’s putting in the time waiting because I’m supposed to change into what he wants. I stand my ground. It wears me down.
I’m proud of myself for staying assertive and setting boundaries, for not changing who I am just for him. I’m proud of myself for not responding with anger or harsh words. I used my skills. I’m not perfect but I did a damn good job. (tingles) Now the pain is inside of me.
After his FB breakup message I replied asking what the boundaries are he wants for our intertwined lives. He called several times with more insults and asking about my previous relationship. I kept redirecting to the issue at hand. He insisted on coming over right then to give me my stuff back. I was not happy, said it wasn’t a good time. He came anyway. It was an awkward goodbye, however short-lived, since the texts and FB messages resumed arriving late telling me he knew I was up demanding that we talk. Messages too that he still loves me. Today he asked me to come over because he needs to go shopping and asked for food help from -. I replied that he has his debit card now, why does he need me?
I was clear from the beginning about my boundaries. This is the first time I’ve actually stood up for me. I’ve just been taking it, afraid he couldn’t tolerate a loss, but slowly it kills me. I don’t need to be with someone who sees me as a template for what could be. I am already me. Far from perfect, many issues, but I’m proud to be me.
I’m not caught up on the end of my relationship. What keeps running through my head are the biting hurtful things that he said. I feel sad that a man I love has such poor insight and ability to care for himself. I feel sad that I can’t change him, glad I’m not trying. I feel angry that he paints himself the victim, that no matter the issue somehow it’s always my fault. All I asked for was respect and for him to listen. He’s just not able. I feel sad to watch him spiraling when there’s nothing I can do. It’s out of my hands. I am not sad or hurting because he broke up with me.
I thought there would be pause. No such luck. He expects me to come by today. I want to scream and text back, “I’m not your girlfriend anymore. Remember? That’s not my job.” I think I would be so much more angry if I didn’t understand the root of the behavior. But knowing why makes me feel somewhat helpless. I have to remind myself that illness is not a pass for bad behavior. Boundaries are for EVERYONE.
Mom and D- are at a street fair. Neither of them responded to my note but I’m glad they’re getting to spend time together. He’s leaving tonight. That sucks. There’s a withdrawal effect that takes time to dissipate.
When I woke up this morning I slowly moved through my room, freezing at different spots. Last night I completely shut down. I changed my sheets (huge task for me) alone. Mom said she would help but was with D-. I started putting things away. I have a long way to go. I need simplicity. I need me. My gospel choir concert is tomorrow. Yellow pillow. (close my eyes)
It felt good to learn that I’m lovable. Now I have to keep loving me. Dusty light bulbs, show tunes and all. I need to gift myself some rest, set the pain free.
Oh, by the way, my ECT is on hold for now. I miss how it reset me.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2016
Little girl – I’M STILL HERE
I don’t matter.
-not a core belief, a truth
-embrace it, let everything go
-it’s a lesson, not intrusion, that keeps coming back
It’s what will set me free.
“It’s a loving anger.” -Bill
Urges during class – SH, run away, die
The cat behaviorist on “My Cat from Hell” said last night there’s a very small window during which a feral cat can be socialized. Am I past that time? If so, what will happen to me? I feel like I’m going to die, very close to the wisdom of the Lord, letting me feel Him close to me, letting myself be here with Him. I feel like I may pass out. But in this moment I’m okay. The pain is okay.
Is there anything other than pain?
Why don’t they tell us pain is okay?
Why didn’t they tell me pain was a gift?
Cog teaches the benefit but not the requirement of its presence for life.
“I can’t wait to do this again because I want to hear your next insight.” -B
(walk to 7-11, car)
Look up. Look at me.
Open your eyes. -Rhonda
Jane has cancer. (breathe…)
(still hear “Thy Will“)
So much pain. No tears to cry. I lock her in a closet. She is me – the truth not the lie, not the disease.
I don’t want to lose this feeling, this access to being. How can I learn to stay me?
(still very dizzy)
How much of me can I withstand right now and be able to come back to functioning?
(feel the strong pull of shutdown)
Lord, please don’t let me forget.
Acknowledge Shutdown is important
It shields & protects me.
Even possums play dead.
But I want to matter.
(hear “Please Don’t Let Me Go”)
I wish I had therapy tomorrow. I don’t know where to go.
(music is slower, falling asleep)
Urge – go to sleep, avoid work, stop helping Kelli, walk away
In my body – pain level 7, dizzy & lightheaded, hard to keep eyes open, can’t focus eyes – dart all over or roll back, jaw clenched, very still, shallow obstructed nose breathing, only feel a few parts, head tilted to the left.
I want to feel, to be the lessons. I need someone to integrate them with. And I need to do this every day. How can that happen? Am I willing or able to care for the feral me? Putting her down isn’t an option right now.
(hug yellow pillow)
© Michelle Routhieaux 2016
I hear the chorus of “Thy Will” by Hillary Scott. I’m trying not to cry.
God, I trust you and I don’t understand.
I had a dream last night. I had a roommate. There was a funeral. That part’s fuzzy. But I left my room and ended up at a wall, a cliff by the beach. There was a long flight of cement stairs down. The further I walked the steeper they got until the path was straight up and down. I put my arms out and held onto the thin steps/bricks above me. SO far down I looked into the ocean. And then I let go. It surprised me. I free fell, felt the wind on my face. and a stair caught me. Then it was my choice. I tried letting go again but this time and the next few I fell shorter each time. I fell on a concrete slab, the bottom of a different stairwell by the ocean. “I have to call Dr. M,” I said. I climbed up those stairs. At the top was Scripps Mercy ER. I sat there for awhile, decided I didn’t want a 5150 there and left. (long pause) I want to let go.
I’m sitting in church. I chose me over the last minute finance meeting. So much has changed. Diane is gone. I told X I’m not happy. I don’t think he can understand. I don’t want to be here. I don’t support what is happening. But it’s so important to – and my mom and… My breath stops. My face tingles. I belch up puke & hold back tears. I don’t move much. I took my hymnal down from the choir loft. I’ve had a headache since Friday – disabling. I believe the pain is what’s keeping my behavior appropriate. God, what do you want me to do?
Go to yoga
I’m trying so hard, God. I’m listening. I hear you. Please, hold my hand.
SH Urge: hit head into something hard where it already hurts over and over.
Wake me up, Lord. Put me back to sleep.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2016
This is the Year in Review report for this blog. I love reading the report every year and thought I’d share it. https://writingtowardshappy.com/2015/annual-report/
© Michelle Routhieaux 2015
Homework: Imagine a life built on happiness…
Imagine a life built on happiness…
I would have energy and motivation. I would take chances and try new things. I would take better care of myself and spend more time with friends. I would DANCE and maybe have the guts to try musical theater again. I could tolerate spending more time with the girls. I would spend less time in darkness crying.
I would probably do more fun things like bowling and Zumba. I would be stronger, more able to handle others’ crises without crashing myself. I would have more art parties and probably shower more often. I might even be able to start brushing my teeth regularly. What a concept.
If I had a life built on happiness I’d paint my nails more often. I’d probably answer my phone and my self-esteem would improve. I could move on to DBT Level 2 and spend less time in appointments and therapy. Maybe my health could improve and I could have less random physical and neuro symptoms. That would be nice.
A life built on happiness would probably be filled with hope and possibility, art and writing, LOTS of music and dancing and yoga and movement. And maybe I could learn how to do nothing. That would be nice. I could find peace. Learn boundaries. Set limits. Take risks. Breathe. Be.
I just asked my nurse how long my seizure was today – 79 seconds. I wonder why they’re getting shorter (105, 97, 79.) I hope it’s not a trend.
I almost lost my room today. I’m thankful I got to keep it. I wonder how my life would be different if I had discovered ECT works for me before now… I’m glad I’m brave.
I was right. Something did die with ECT – the intense need to die, the voice telling me I need to die somewhat constantly. It is almost absent. I feel a sense of wonder and joy. I do get heavy waves of sadness but not deathly despair. I feel happy to be alive.
Dr. H is letting me go to DBT on Thursday. Armando is going to take me and bring me back. I’m so glad I’m not dead. It’s a new feeling. This is a chance to reinvent myself, build a “life worth living” like they say in DBT. I’ve never been healthy before. Life starts now.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2015