Safe to be Still

5/5/2017
© Michelle Routhieaux 2017

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Wake me up

5/1/16     11:52am

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

Ok.
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

Porta-potty on a Race Course

10/11/15     3:35pm

Yoga Therapy Art_0054

I asked B- how to stop running. There were a lot of words I don’t recall that boiled down in my head to “Porta-potty on a race course.” Find small moments, opportunities to be, and take them.

I want to stop running. At least I think I do. But I don’t know if I can tolerate it. I have a lot of shit in my life and my past always threatening to eat me. To survive, I run. Don’t stop moving. As long as I am distracted or busy the thoughts or memories can’t get to me. As soon as I stop I get flooded. It can be dangerous. I don’t know how to slow down, to moderate. When there’s too much stress I get sick or my body shuts down. Involuntary protection. But running isn’t living. I never even see my mom.

Porta-potty on a race course. Take small moments for self-care and being. Pause. Drop in to existence for the time it takes to pee, then run again. Use the space as a gift of rest, a moment with the freedom to feel. No one is watching. No one is judging. Allow release. No one’s stopping me from choosing to run. Not for that moment.

I want to stop running. I want to be able to tolerate the distress of being, of the voices, the memories, the loneliness. I don’t want to be a secret. In the porta-potty I can hide and just be me. A-‘s wiling to start work on my trauma soon. Who will I be without fear? Can I tolerate the emotional debridement? Will I find me? Will I like her?

I don’t want to run anymore. I’m tired. God, I’m tired. Last night I wept and cried out to God. Today I sobbed all the way down here on the freeway. I’m not me. I don’t know how to be. (Reminder – joy only lies in movement)

My head hurts.

How do I learn to process and be me in chunks? Who will me be without trauma and pain? Will I be more able to help others and feel joy? Will I want to be?

I’m tired of running. I’m tired of wanting to die, of hiding. Of shame and lies. I want to be real. I want to be openly real.

Start by practicing in a porta-potty when you stop to pee.

I don’t know what’s happening to me and I feel scared. I really want to make change in my life, to come to terms with what is and was, to be able to sit safely with the truth. I welcome times of brokenness. I want to accept that though I am broken, I am whole. I’m not there yet. I want to change. I’m not there yet either. Right now, today, I’m sitting in a porta-potty on the side of a race course, grateful. I have to get up again (I’m late) but for now there is peace. Thank you.

God, I love you. Thank you for this moment.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2015

Incubation vs Hibernation

9-3-13     2:22pm

I was thinking about my life today while driving to Eastlake for a pickup. My doctor says I’m making so much progress, that he knew I had potential but never expected me to come this far. But where am I? Where am I going?

I’m not headed in any particular direction. It’s a day to day struggle to stay alive. I’m not in school pursuing a career. I don’t have a husband or kids. I’m floating, stagnant, goal-less. Well, I do have 2 goals but I’m not doing very well on them. I’m temped to starve to death or maybe just walk in circles. When I think about it I freak out. (deeep breath) Is this the end of the yellow brick road?

The word incubation came to mind followed by hibernation. I have stopped almost all events and responsibilities. I am tired. But I don’t think I’m hibernating. I am largely motionless but I am being nurtured and growing. This pause in my life is productive. My mind is catching up to me.

I feel very nauseous, head pain, weak.

I am incubating. If I don’t die, I’ll hatch. I will arise into my new life and follow the path wherever God leads me.

I’m scared to leave this place. I’m not moving forward. I am being carried. The angels are around me. My breath…

Incubation is painful like physical therapy. I am stretched and molded and melted, filed and rearranged. My body is trying to kill me. Maybe I need to die to live.

I really feel faint.
I need to lie down.
And see Dr. Collan.

Right now I feel panic like last night. I’m hovering on a subject so painful, raw. I want to go back to USC.

WHY did you take that life from me?
Why even show me or care?

My life is over. I want a new one. I want to die.

FG – If the new life was different but as fulfilling as the old one, would you stick around?

Hell, yeah.
I need. I just don’t know what. 
Jesus.

I’ve walked right out of my shoes. Now I walk on air – off-lifing. Where am I headed, running in circles in an incubator. I’m not ready to leave. But I’m close. I want a better life, to be free. That’s progress. In hibernation I shut down and rest. It rarely involves conscious growth.

I’m helping S- tonight. I’d rather be working on the Comfort Drive. I need to prepare for my mom’s trip and I need someone to help me improve my backing.

I feel overwhelmed but I’m here, incubating. I will be here as long as it takes. God help me.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

Since 2009

8/13/13     3:18pm

What’s different now than in ’09 with Marc? I’m embracing the fact that I’m alone. Dr. N taught me that not all people leave and that I can be safe. Jim taught me how to face my fears through ERP instead of cognitive reasoning. DBT gave me a set of skills to use when I’m freaking out that work. I became closer to God and reassessed my priorities and relationships when I thought I was going to die. I started developing a sense of self. Now I am not so desperate and needy. I started developing systems to get me through the day and track my progress. I faithfully attended DBSA both sharing and learning new tools. I surrendered the pain and defined acceptance. I started doing things for me, in particular attending jazz gigs and making friends with non-crazy (or at least non-diagnosed) people. I gave up and found life. My mom is nicer to me now. I rarely scream or freak out or run away. I use assertiveness daily. I don’t take bullshit anymore. My need for an intense attachment to one person has diminished greatly. I feel more safe, supported. I’ve learned and practiced more boundaries. I’ve moved away from the cognitive approach. I stopped going to school. I found a doctor and therapist who meet my needs. I need the hospital less. My HD phase has passed. I am free.

I forgot to tell Dr. N today that I’ve been thinking about school. I want my degree. I think I’m ready. I think I’d like to major in social work. I should try WRAP and PET first both as prerequisites and to see if I could handle it. I think I might. I don’t think I’m ready for full or part-time. Maybe one class at a time. I have scholarship money I need to use…

(walk around)

I stood up for myself when threatened at Scripps. I walked away stronger, determined. I took care of me.

I learned to say no and to say yes. I’m doing much better with change – if you can imagine. I’ve dealt with health issues bigger than me. I’ve been broken and risen up again, not through ashes but rules. I learned how to observe and listen, to practice empathy. I catch myself earlier in the process so I don’t blow. I’m learning to stand on my own.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013 

Being set free

6-14-13     10:36am

I woke up today feeling good. God is moving me quickly in a new direction. I’m not sure toward what but I am following as best I can, sometimes running to catch up. The past week has been bad, complete with temporary paralysis, aphasia and severe SI. But right now, in the moment, I feel good. I see color today. I am taking my mom to join my gym. I’m hoping we can spend some time working out together on our shared goal of getting healthier and losing weight. It will help to have something in common.

I’m moving forward in my room. I bought new wall art, a butterfly shower curtain I had intended for the bathroom but will work perfectly for the closet, and started condensing boxes in my closet and garage. I have a vision of a new white full bed and new mattress covered beautifully in the comforter and sheet set I had at USC. A regal safe place to lie my head. I want to build a home for myself. The hospital is the only place that has ever felt safe and I consider it my home. But it’s changing and I’m changing and I need my own safe place.

I stopped BrainPaint on Monday. My mom turned 65. My psychiatrist is going on vacation. We’re battling my insurance to get one of my meds. I have new neighbors. That is a trip. More about that later. Our house is infested with brown widow spiders. I’m not hungry anymore. I’m really spacey and I can’t remember anything. But in this moment I’m happy. I started doing GRAPES again last week. Today my E goal is to do 5 minutes on a machine at the gym. I don’t want to but I did get dressed. I am floating through my day. I feel the happy wearing into confused.

I’m scared to go to Dizzy’s. It doesn’t make any sense. I haven’t been going to jazz things in forever and I’m afraid C will be mad at me. I feel ashamed that I forgot, afraid I’ve been replaced. A friend pointed out a few weeks ago that since I got out of the hospital I haven’t gone back to my life. I guess not. Another jazz friend wanted to know where the fuck I’ve been and if I’m ok. A valid query. I didn’t tell him I forgot. Until he confronted me I had no idea I wasn’t going to jazz. I had no memory. I don’t remember what I was doing and when I do I don’t care or get scared. My slate has been wiped clean – without the use of ECT. ;) I do remember praying for a release from all of the pressure and stress and things I was tied into. I guess this is it. It does feel freeing to have no idea what’s going on. (stare…) I don’t know what day or month it is and I don’t care. I forget what time it is. I forget to take my meds. Not good. I forget to eat. I don’t know where I’m going. I miss deadlines and appointments. Usually this would upset me but I don’t really care. It takes a lot to get me agitated these days. It’s like BrainPaint erased that response. I like it. Except when I need to feel upset and I simply feel nothing. Either way, I’m moving forward.

I feel like I’m being moved by God’s current down the river that is my life. It is moving so fast that I can’t see the shore. I close my eyes and feel myself move. He carries me. He brings me through the rapids, over the falls and safely to shore. I just have to let go. I put my arms out. I am free. I hear this song a lot. I am a child of the one true king. :) I have nightmares that tell me different, that scare me. They’re not me. I’m being set free.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

27

SAMSUNG5-3-13     10:12am

27. Mom thinks it’s the magic number, the number when everything clicked. Really, it’s just a number. Although I hear ____ say, “27. Now that was a good year.”

I turned 27 March of this year. It was not a remarkable day – appointment, lunch with Mom, major crash, terrible pain, OCD group. But my mom says something around then changed. She attributes all my recent growth to a number. Figures. She’s been in Texas. Today I feel great. A little dizzy, awake. Change is hard work.

A month or so before my birthday I spent 3 weeks in the hospital (see “Even Dark Clouds Pass.”) When I got out I was still going through it. The time since then has been fireworks. For the first time in years I started an antidepressant. I added structure & a complex schedule. I updated my day list and started using it. It is a list of things I do every day in the morning and evening that I keep in a page protector and check off with a dry erase marker. And I started BrainPaint, which I believe to be the key to my success.

BrainPaint. A simple notion. Painting with your brain. Ha ha! Not so fast, my friend. I paint with my brain indeed. BrainPaint is automated neurofeedback. EEG leads tell the computer what my brain is doing and the computer makes real-time fractals (pictures) and music to guide my brain into the wave pattern it wants. Forget training a dragon. Train your brain!

I’m doing BrainPaint at Healthy Within under Dr. Divya Kakaiya. She determined what areas we could work on. I’m almost through my treatment. I don’t want to stop. I go 3 times a week. I consider it an outpatient program even though it’s not. It’s not all peaches & cream, but BrainPaint saved my life.

I feel tired of writing.

I have 3 pages of what’s changed since BrainPaint that I may choose to share here later. Most notably, I don’t want to die every day anymore. I’m sleeping, brushing my teeth (yay!), and can tolerate being at home. Kinda crazy. I even got my permit. I am blessed that my mom was in Texas for the past month. Without limits or rules or judgement or simply the energy of another person I’ve been able to settle into life, to blossom. I’ve been repotted.

27. I like it.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

Open to God

7/18/12     6:17pm

I went to an ANAD meeting today. (I’m feeling anxious right now.) I went to the meeting and I realized how grown-up I am, how much progress I’ve made. I am not in that anymore. I’m not even in me. I worked for S-. I’m being opened to wisdom.

I have better boundaries. I understand why I do things. I practice mindfulness and DBT. I plan. I take care of me. I let things go.

Today last year I checked into CAP2. I could barely talk. I wanted to die. I was terrified. Dr. N was mad at me for giving up. I was so tired that I didn’t have it in me to try. Too tired to want to get better.

(deep breath, crickets) zap.

I rested. Then I did the work. And all year I’ve been working, learning, growing. Experiencing. Life.

I am more able now to deal with tsunamis of emotion. I can handle physical symptoms without freaking out. I made it through several crises, one of which I really would’ve preferred to be inpatient for, on the outside. I did it. And I’m doing it. I’m doing it.

My set of symptoms hasn’t changed much, but my ability to deal with it has. I also have stuck faithfully to the charting system I created with Dr. N in the hospital. July 28th will mark one year. It’s been good seeing him often and having a system we both understand and agree on. I trust him.

I’m finally to that point of being able to think about creating a life worth living. I want more for me. Marc wanted me to do that in 2008. I wasn’t ready. I don’t know what it will look like – probably a lot different than the picture in my head – but I’m open to ideas. I’m open to what God has planned for me. I’m open to God.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2012

the ocean and jello

7-12-12   1:03am

Changin’ up my life is turning out to be a good thing. Rearranged my whole room tonight. Unearthed all my stashes of crap. Now I’m not sure what to do with them. The energy feels so much better though. And I purchased a netbook today that I feel a bit uneasy about but I think I’m okay with. I don’t wanna use -‘s Mac and I want to be able to work out of the kitchen, especially when D’s here. I got a friend to loan me 2/3 of the money so I feel less nervous about spending that much.

I feel like I’m standing in the ocean. The waves come and go. Creativity, pain. I am not washed away. I got a pedicure today. Felt really good. The thing I chose to do for me in July. Not sure what August will hold. I feel confused and dizzy with hours of anxiety, but there is a peace. A release. I feel like I’m dying, like I’m getting close. It’s probably just a phase but it’s a good feeling. When the ails of the world are distant and there is no time. When I walk through jello and wander and the world stands still. And I feel like I am not in it. That I am separate from everything around me. I want to cry but I don’t feel sad. I feel like a bumblebee.

I try to write but I mostly just stare. Music is too much. I snap at people unexpectedly. But the ocean is me.

Michelle

PS – I’m talking in accents this week. I need to sing.

When I Write

7-5-10                  4am-ish

I write when my head won’t stop spinning. I write when I’m upset, when there’s something I can’t get off my mind, when my pen just can’t move fast enough.

Tonight the music races in my mind. I am exhausted but I’m in a frenzy. The Good Morning ringtone plays over and over. My eyes are tense but my body is tired. The flashlight is too bright but I don’t want to sleep.

I feel sad and nervous with spikes of happy. Very nervous.  I don’t get people who write when they’re stable. I know this blog is called Writing Towards Happy but you’ll notice I don’t write much when I’m happy. When I’m doing well, my nose is not buried in a journal. I’m out experiencing life, feeling calm. Like the past week or so. I don’t not experience happiness. It just doesn’t give me words.

It is the passion of discontent, of pain, that fuels me and that I love and hate so much. Words are powerful. Words are tools. Words let me speak to the unknown and to myself. To not forget. And to say what I can’t.

I’m writing towards happy, jumping in puddles along the way.

-Michelle

7-6-10                  3:12am

I write the things I can’t say, and the things I have no one to say to.

I don’t sit down to write an assigned subject. I write what’s on my mind. The stuff that won’t stop running through my head. Some of it’s funny. Some of it’s passionate. Some of it doesn’t make sense to anyone but me. But that’s okay because it’s my head.

When I talk in my head, people listen to me. They may be imaginary but they’re listening. And they’re always there. This is the reason I can have an entire IM conversation with someone who’s not online. It’s SOP in my head. (standard operating procedure)

I sat at the fair tonight and wrote in my head to a friend about all the memories I have with him over the years. It never saw the page but it’s what will when I write.

I’ve found that putting things in writing can be so much more powerful than a comment. And the words aren’t swept up in the emotion of the moment. I’m not screaming at your face. I’m sending you a calculated response, hopefully when the emotion has died down. Or I’m reading you my calculated response. Even better. My ability to convey and persuade and get a point across effectively is one of my most prized. I make change with words. How cool is that?

And there are times that I don’t write. When the emotion is too high. When there’s nothing to say. Or when I can’t handle what it is I have to say. Or when I simply don’t have the energy. So much is lost between the thought and the page. Sometimes I wish I had streaming text of my thoughts to my journal.

When do you write? And why? How do you make change?

-Michelle

© Michelle Routhieaux 2010

Comparison & The All-Perfect Person

5-11-10                 2:46am

I don’t compare myself to other people a lot. Or at least I don’t consider it comparison. But I observe almost everything. And I think. A lot. I remember when I was younger saying, “I think, hope and love too much.” I think I still do. But I find myself processing my observations and wondering what they mean about me.

I was supposed to be going to New York in two weeks to sing at Carnegie Hall. At first announcement it would be covered by grants. As time went by it would not and I have no money. I hate hearing about this trip to New York because I will not be going. I don’t want to know. Just don’t tell me. And please quit asking if I’m going. Another friend is going next week. Another is there now. I don’t understand. I get the logic. No money, no trip. But I don’t get the reason behind no money. Why life is what it is, why I’m here. A distant friend died last week and in the email I got it said he fulfilled his dream of singing at Carnegie Hall last year. I almost screamed. WTF!

I look at the lives of the friends I grew up with, what they’re doing. Some of them have totally bombed but most of the people I was close to in dance and theater are still in dance and theater. The musicians are musicians. They’re doing what they love. But I’m not. I guess you could call that comparison, but I don’t want to be like them. I just want to be doing what I love.

I don’t know how I got here or why. I didn’t wake up one day and choose this. But I can’t change it. And it’s dangerous to try. I’m know on a journey towards something. I just don’t know what.

There are people who are very special to me whom I barely know and try very hard not to freak out with my interest. It’s not socially acceptable to be completely intrigued by someone and communicate it. The words that come to mind are obsessed and stalker. But I’m not a stalker. It’s a way of life. It works like this.

At any given time, I need to have at least one all-perfect person. I know this person is not really perfect, but to me they’re pretty close. I find them interesting. They make me think. There is just something about them that is special. And they like me back. I hang out around this person. Not usually with them. I try not to bother them too much. But I help them as best I can and they help me back, sometimes. Just knowing I have this person in my life makes me feel safe. Being near them helps me feel calm. I need this person, would do anything for them. It’s not romantic. They’re usually like a mentor or teacher or counselor type person. Sometimes just someone I look up to. Everything revolves around them. But like I said, they’re not really perfect. And eventually something happens. They make me angry or I make them angry and they die or leave or move and I lose them and my whole world falls apart. And I have nothing until I find another.

It’s a twisted system, I know. I’m really trying to make it different. But I did not have a cloth monkey. I don’t understand how it’s supposed to work. That cloth monkey study is something I think about often. There is such a need…

I’m constantly scared of losing people. People I don’t really have. I need them. I need the fantasy. I really just need.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2010