JUST Breathe

4/7/17

© Michelle Routhieaux 2017

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Life Update – Thoughts from the Couch

11-20-16     11:46pm

I feel sad. (pause) I’m sitting on the couch, tv off. Mom’s asleep. The clock is ticking relentlessly, rain falling on the metal overhang outside. I watch the candle flicker. I don’t know what’s happening.

Today I went to church and lunch with my mom and her friend. I fell asleep after, picked up a migraine and forgot what I wanted to work on. I’m not doing well. I’ve been quite depressed for some time. I wanted to rejoin the ranks of ECT but tried an intensive outpatient program instead. That ended terribly. Now I’m trying to figure out what to do, only I don’t have the mind to do it. Dissociation has taken on a life of its own. I’m losing time. I can’t follow what’s happening. I’m sending freaked out emails to my therapist that later I have no or little recollection of. I started a new med that I’m pretty sure is either making my symptoms worse or holding off the small sanity breaks I usually get. I’m usually a shark when it comes to managing money and two months in a row now I’ve forgotten to pay bills. I can’t keep up with my work, often forget I’m even supposed to be doing it. I go to my group and do the bare bones. I’ve been somewhat honest about the fact that I’m struggling but I don’t share in group or when I’m willing there isn’t time. I avoid it altogether most times since the feedback I get is often silence or replies that are only vaguely relevant. My friends express concern and ask if there’s anything they can do to help. I know if I told them something they would do it, but I don’t know what that is. I’ve pulled away from almost everyone. I don’t know what to do. I go in and out of wanting to kill myself. It’s not a likely scenario considering I don’t actually want to be dead and I can’t undie if I don’t like it. Soleil also pointed out recently that I’m always moving and there’s no movement in death. That would certainly be a problem.

I think it was last month that I had packed a bag and left it in the car should I want or need to go inpatient. I’ve since unpacked it. I did tell my mom after a bit and I told her I was considering more ECT or an IOP. She didn’t really seem surprised or upset, or anything for that matter. When I went into IOP all that mattered to her was that I got my work done, which I didn’t. Ending the IOP was traumatic and I was upset for days. I couldn’t tell her what was happening and when I was finally going to she said something so offensive about a few of my friends that I wouldn’t. We got in a huge unrelated screaming fight a few nights ago. Today she said I wasn’t making sense. I’ll give her that. I tried very hard this evening to talk to her. I told her I’m losing time. I spent all my effort trying to explain what that means, what it’s like for me. (stare off into space) She picked up the remote and said, “What do you want to watch?” There was no response or discussion.

My therapist is doing his damndest, which I have to give him credit for. We’re in rough waters and even I don’t believe in me. For some reason he does. I feel horribly guilty for telling him the truth about what’s happening to me. I don’t want to be the girl who’s always in crisis. I mentioned something recently about working with and educating the police and he straight up laughed, said he would pay to see that, take the whole day off work. I don’t blame him. He’s never seen the side of me that can do that, just the one that’s freaking out.

I don’t know what there is to be scared of. I am so blessed. I live in a safe home with my mom who loves me. I have the most incredible team of providers I couldn’t even dream up and a steady source of income. On top of that, I have a God who loves and protects me no matter what I do and a group that’s got my back. I can let go but I’m afraid to lose control. I’m afraid of losing who I am.
Did who I am even matter?
Not really.
There you go.
I still feel confused and scared. God keeps telling me, “Go.” WHERE?!!
You’ll know.
Shut up.

I have to go to bed now. My goal is 12am and it’s 12:12am now. Thanks for listening to me vent. I hope you’re doing okay.

Michelle

Awake

7-25-14     1:23pm

Awake 7-24-14

I am awake.
I am alive.
Nothing bad happened.

We talked about radical acceptance. “I don’t like it. I don’t want it. AND I can tolerate it.”
I added, “AND I can love it.” I am awake.

I told her I want to wake up. I shared some past. I curled up tight in a ball. I talked about fear and confusion. She allowed me to feel what it’s like to be scared and confused, to stay with it. For me that’s new.

I notice I’m having trouble remembering. I was skipping around the numbers.

From the ball I took a chance and uncurled. I laid on the floor, moving my fingers and toes. Then I went upside down – plowish pose. Things were instantly better. I’m calmer upside down. I struggled in my head to find the courage to ask to do a back bend. When I did I shared the arguing in my head.

Soleil put her feet on my back and supported me as I peeled off the well. I opened my eyes to look at her briefly. I felt sheer freedom, relief. Then an overwhelming wave of nausea. I’ll call it emotion. I stayed with it for as long as I could then came down and put my hands and forehead on the wall. I breathed heavily. I was awake.

I learned the emotion is much stronger and closer than I thought and that I can access it when I want. I can be awake and have nothing bad happen. I can sit with and love my scary thoughts and the parts of me thinking them. I also noticed how real and very close my past is. I don’t want to run anymore. I am weak, and that’s okay. I want to integrate. I think I’m ready. We work together.

Lately I hear music almost constantly. The numbers in my head fight and change course. I feel pressed. I must always be working. I don’t want to wake up one day when I’m 50. I want to live life now. And take a nap. Soul-searching is exhausting.

I am awake.
I am alive.

(continued 7-26-14)

I felt.
Identified a want/need.
Allowed myself to want.
Let my self ask.
Used courage.
Took a chance/risk.
Asked for what I wanted.
Was honest about feeling scared.
Asked for help.
Trusted that she wouldn’t hurt me for asking.

Trusted her.
Experienced the uncertainty.
Stayed with it.
Participated.
Let go into the pose.
Embraced the feeling of freedom.
Let myself feel it.
Acknowledged pain when it came but didn’t stop even though I felt scared.

Watched the sensations grow
– pins & needles & burning in my left hand and arm
– extreme nausea
Chose to move up and sit back even though I was scared to get in trouble
– rested my hands and forehead on the wall
Watched myself breathe deeply, heavily.
Did not judge the moment.

What did I practice?

  • Patience for me
  • Trust
    trusting me
    trusting she wouldn’t hurt me
    trusting her words
    trusting her to support me
    trusting my own judgement
    trusting what my body tells me to do or not to
    trusting my instinct
    trusting God
  • Staying in the moment – present/awake
  • Staying with a feeling
  • Feeling
  • Telling the truth
  • Being Real
  • Being Michelle
  • Just being
  • Allowing myself to be happy, playful, and do basketball court angels

When I was scared I curled up so tight in a ball. I didn’t know I could get so small. I took a chance when prompted to uncurl. The dance is stuck in me. I must get it, let it out. I must set me free.

(listened to RadioLab)

© Michelle Routhieaux 2014

Ya can’t fix tile with a laser beam

7/17/14     3:17pm

Do you want to stop dissociating? (therapist)

I want to not feel trapped. I want to not need to escape reality. I want to get what I need and to know that I have it. And what I have it for. I want ME.

I’m so exhausted. I fight but I can’t get out of my mind. I want to cut the pain out like a tumor. Just GET it OUT. I rarely cry. I’m surrounded by fog. My life is a lie it seems but only to me. I’m the one who can’t quite reach it.

Put on a smile. Dress nicely. Run to catch up. What day is it? Who cares? Just follow the box. This meaning is big-picture stuff. Just keep trodding along.

(slow deep breath, confusion)

I don’t want to be sick. It has benefits but not worth dying for. Why stay propped up on toothpicks when you could run? Have you tried?

(shutting down)

Tuesday I had a strong response and shut down in group. B- was the trigger. I didn’t say anything. (falling asleep) I want to be able to read menus again. I don’t know how I’m doing right now. When Ashley states it objectively it sounds bleak. I can’t remember what I’ve done or am doing. I’m very reactive. I can’t make decisions. I zone out driving. I hear music or racing thoughts or nothing. I get hot or cold for no reason. I’m not interested in people or activities or life. I’m having a really hard time making my bed and handling finances. I’m not brushing my teeth. My hair is falling out. I’m gaining weight. I’m picking again. I’m thinking in pictures. I can’t tolerate reading email and I’m not responding in a timely manner to text or voicemail. I’m not interested in tv. I have nightmares and wake up sweaty. I’m tired. Head pain and stomach pain are literally mind-numbing. Dr. T says I’m falling apart. I am.

I’m working really hard. I don’t know why I’d do that if I didn’t want to change. Groups and therapy are stressful. Who would volunteer for that? I’m not a glutton, nor do I like punishment.

Oddly, I don’t feel angry or offended at the question. One would think I would be better by now, might think I’m not trying. I just feel sad. It’s a question I’ve asked others. Do you want to get better? Yes. I do. Life is better than treatment. But life is trying to eat me. Or so my brain tells me. I do what the voices tell me.

Honestly, I do not want to be present for this. But if I don’t experience it I won’t have a chance to remember. “I feel like a hamster,” I kept telling them. Trapped and people are watching me. They gave me Risperdal and Depakote. “I broke the stone statue” led to being under close observation. I don’t speak the language. Shawna tries but she rarely “speaks Michelle.” I don’t want my own language, don’t want to need translation. I just want to be, to understand, to experience just what’s real. I imagine it might be boring but I want the opportunity to try.

I don’t want to lose my superpowers, just to put them away for awhile. Ya can’t fix tile with a laser beam.

Love, Michelle

PS – I want out of my body. It hurts not to move or dance. When offered opportunities I freeze with fear. GET IT OUT.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2014

I feel the need to write…

8/4/13     12:54pm

me 2

I feel the need to write but I can’t bring myself to do it. I’m scared. Everything’s changing.

Today I stand tall, walk confidently. A bug sits on my pen. I feel grounded. Diane gave me jewelry. I got many compliments on my appearance, my dress. I feel calm. My head doesn’t hurt yet. I can write without pain. I am removed from me. Watching. It all goes away.

Yesterday I went to a party. I was severely depressed & moderately agitated to begin with. I lied on my floor barely moving, begged myself not to go. But I did. I’m not good at being social. Small talk annoys me. I wanted to leave but I came for S-. I forced myself to participate, to observe. I ate the food, though it scared me. I pet the cat. In my journal I wrote, “I will end up in the hospital soon if I don’t get this under control.”

Today I feel like I’m floating. I sit in a parking lot hugging the sun. A ball of desperation has been growing in my throat causing my voice to be crackly. My body has been weak & riddled with pain. I’ve wanted to kill people all the live long day. The pain has seeped down from my head through my body and into my soul. My thoughts are tainted. They are often not mine. I feel the tears burn my face from the inside. The screams, they live in my forehead. And somewhere deep inside is me trapped in a dungeon surrounded by fire on an island of hate surviving solely on ice chips. She’s going to die…

T- says I look worn down, that she can see the sadness and pain in me. Sometimes it is too great and she must look away. Sorrow runs deep.

I have so much to be thankful for. I am ashamed that people can sense or see my pain. I’m not doing it right. I’m supposed to be perfect and happy. Someone noticed last night and mentioned it. I was devastated.

I am an emotional trash compactor that rarely gets emptied. Sad, tired eyes often imply wisdom. I’d like to let it out. And take these shoes off. I want OUT. I want out.

I went to see about a debt consolidation loan on Friday and the guy talked at me for an hour. Yes, I’m not in the best situation. No, I don’t know how to fix it. I feel thoroughly TRAPPED. I think I could do it from scratch, learn, change my ways. If only I could get there. Someone please help me. (not really) I’m not wearing the right underwear.

My feet hurt.
I’m hungry.

There are so many tasks to do. They will never all be done. I just work as I can. Futile. And eat Chobani yogurt. I need a fan. (not really)

Five of my toes are numb.
I want to go home.

I’ve spent a lot of time lately mapping out how to map out my life. I’ve not had the energy to put the plan into play but it’s coming along. I need to play. And pee. I’m scared.

I need structure, achievable goals, and rewards. Music, dance, art, exercise. SLEEP. I’m a ball of need. And I just keep giving. I feel lonely, alone, even around people. I’m very bothered by things out of place. My other-energy boundaries have eroded. It all comes in. And then I seem pissy and want to kill people and they say I’m rude. Well, you try it, bitch. (deep breath)

I want to sleep and wake up feeling better. My head hurts. I’m hungry. It’s way too hot.

(sit. breathe.)

I breathe the evil out of me. Don’s off beer for 2 weeks for MOHS. We’ll see how that goes. I started NuvaRing today. I hope I don’t gain weight. If I tolerate it well I may be able to decrease or cut out a few other meds. (wave of nausea) I need meds now… Done.

I want to get a FitBit. My therapist is concerned about my sleep and I want to lose weight. I think a monitor and program will help me. Hopefully. Even as just a reminder. I want to be Me again. She is thin. She loses weight. She’s amazing.

My face, hands & feet tingle. My stomach protrudes, despite lack of food. My head hurts. I do not move, but for my hand. My eyes are weary above a faint smile. God is good. Amen.

(fall asleep)

PS – My thyroid biopsy came back normal. I’m waiting on the other one. I’m quite sick for being so healthy. I guess I’m ahead of my time.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

Damn varmints

11-3-12     8:20pm

Earlier I felt anxious and paranoid. Left a voicemail for Dr. N. Now I feel hopeless and doomed. And a bit paranoid. And my head hurts. :( I was feeling somewhat okay when the pain set in after the anxiety turned to weakness and confusion until my mom told me we change the clocks tonight. All bets are off.

You know, they say it’s daylight savings but there’s no saving involved. It’s more like a credit scam. I need to move to a state where they don’t change the clocks. Nothing gets me more than knowing that tomorrow my days will be lost and I will be cold for the next six months. Okay, some things get me more but not tonight. Bastards.

(break to read Wikipedia)

When my day begins near sunset and ends in darkness…

Society tells me I’m lazy and crazy for getting up in the afternoon and staying up late. But I’m just time-shifting. I live a time-shifted life by about 8 hours and it works for me. Stop pulling time out from under me, ya hear? Damn varmints.

I don’t feel like writing anymore.

Is it Christmas yet?
When is Halloween?
I don’t understand.
Damn, varmints.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2012

I am scared

From my journal tonight. The dialogue is between me and me and me.

11-18-10     2:12am

I keep hearing the chorus of “You are More” by Tenth Avenue North. I feel the urge to say I’m sorry over and over again. Please. Just please don’t leave me.

I’m cold. I’m lying in bed. Today was the ninth anniversary of my dad’s death. It wasn’t much different than any other day. I saw my therapist, had dinner with Mom, took a nap and went online. I recall going to choir but that wasn’t today. I wanted to go to the cemetery but we didn’t. It closes at sunset.

I feel so angry, and sad. Helpless. Watching an illness is good training in codependence. It compeletely control you and is out of your control.

I’ve been napping in the early evening. I haven’t felt good and I have nothing to do. I can’t handle working on the endless tasks for the group. I need the group to leave me alone. To give me some space. You don’t own me. I don’t appreciate waking up to calls from strangers, urgent FB chat crisis pings, or 75 emails in a week about stupid shit I don’t care about from 1 person. LEAVE ME ALONE. (sigh) I need some respite.

I feel guilty tonight for telling a friend I wish her learning curve was steeper. It’s true but it’s selfish. It has to do with fly paper – a model of my feelings. Whatever she feels I feel. I can’t control it. If she’s happy, I feel joy. If she’s sad, I feel pain. When she hurts, I hurt. It’s like voodoo magic. Whatever’s there sticks. I should be angry at myself for not being able to control this phenomenon, but that reminds me I have no power and is scary. And I’m already scared enough. So I hope these people who affect me avoid pain. Because I feel that pain. You know? There’s no fix. But avoiding pain is impossible. I don’t understand.

I’ve been thinking about independence.
___

I am so scared. I can’t run away. I can’t get away from me. But I can’t stay here with me either. I will kill her, put her out of her misery.

Who is she?

She is that girl, that little girl playing and crying for her daddy. The one who wishes on dandelions and smiles and swings.

I love her.

Yes. She is beautiful.

Why does she have to die?
Why are you going to kill her?

Because she won’t stop crying. She is hurt and there’s no way to fix her and I can no longer handle her crying. I can’t take it.

Girl: I’m scared. Daddy, please. Make it go away. Please, Daddy. Why aren’t you listening? Why can’t you help me?

How often do you see her?

Every day. She keeps tugging at my shirt. Play with me. Hold me. Comfort me. Please, just make it go away.

I can’t take it. She’s driving me insane.

Do you love her?

Yes! That’s why I have to kill her. She deserves peace and so do I.

What would bring you peace?

If she wasn’t sick.

SHUT UP! I’m not talking to you.

If she wasn’t sick. And she wasn’t stuck in time. And if people understood that she’s only 7.

She is the hope. Why kill the hope?

So the rest of me can die in peace.

Do you really want to die?

No. I want to be free. I want to heal her with a magic hug. I want to never feel alone again. To never feel helpless. To be taken care of.

Can you give her comfort?

I wish.

Girl: Please, Daddy. Don’t leave me. I don’t understand. Please. Somebody help me. Get off the phone and pay attention. This teddy bear can’t cure me.

She sounds distressed.

She’s almost always distressed. Except when she’s exploring or brainstorming. Then she’s happy. Or spending time with people she loves. She’s like a cat. She needs comfort.

Does she get it?

Sometimes. Not enough to survive. I give her drugs to numb the pain. But they can’t fix her. She’s going to die.

She is broken.

Yes. She is broken. And she is all that I have. And when she dies I die. I want to hold her in my arms and make it better but I can’t. But she still keeps tugging on my shirt.

Where is my daddy? Why doesn’t he love me?
How do angels fly?
Can I have an ice cream? …
Hello?

I can’t save her. (deep breath) I can’t.

But you can’t kill her either.

I know. I love her too much. She’s all I’ve got.

Do unicorns fly?
Can I get one as a pet?

She still believes, you know. In hope and God and love and faith. And unicorns. She loves everything good and beautiful, always stops to smell the flowers. She believes in Santa and knows that people are good.

And you don’t.

I try… I try.
It’s like trying to believe you are blessed as you watch your house burn to the ground.
I am blessed. I just can’t.

She is your bunk mate.

She is my best friend.

A dilemma.

Quite. (long pause)
I feel rage and I am scared.
I am scared.
I am scared.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2010

Rediscovery

9-25-10                4am-ish

I found this today in a drawer I was cleaning out. I don’t miss the fear of feeling that way but I do miss the fascination of those sensations. I was working as a job coach at the time for adults with developmental disabilities.

4-17-16                9:13pm

I’m feeling really weird today. I’m very anxious and nauseous and I’m disoriented too. Yesterday I felt like I was going to collapse and today too. Mark said to check out the dance and theater programs at UI, that they’re amazing. I was one step ahead of him. He said he’ll only approve of my trip if I have time on the books but can he do that? It’s for a neuropsych eval. I have a brain disorder (and a booger I can’t get out of my nose). I’ll ask Vickie – not that I think she’ll know.

Today is one of those days I don’t really feel safe and probably shouldn’t be supervising consumers, especially in the community. My ears are invisible, my brain is morphing like a lava lamp and light like Model Magic, and my teeth feel like they could fall out of my head just like dentures. My eyes are floating, suspended in their sockets and tingling.

The NAMI Walk and being with D- were big triggers for me. I’ve been hiding my mental illness for so long and denying that it’s there. It is. D’s having a terrible relapse. I feel sad and concerned, for both of us.

The driver’s playing classical music and I’m beginning to dissociate. Yawning but extremely tense then a burst of energy and lightheadedness…..

And everything’s fine.
Yesterday was Easter.
It’s supposed to rain today… —

© Michelle Routhieaux 2006

Hibernate

7-13-10                11:20pm

I feel sad tonight. Not sobbing-my-life-is-over sad. Just quiet, subdued. I turned off the tv. I’m not online. I’m not texting anyone. The music in my head is soft.

I went to Sea World today with Sarah. Mom made stroganoff for us first. We did a ton of stuff today, but I wasn’t there. I didn’t experience it. It’s like sleepwalking. I’m just floating, vaguely aware of what’s going on around me. I’m back in hibernate mode. And I’m tired…

(staring)

In hibernate I don’t think a lot. I listen. I stare. I want to be alone. It doesn’t help to be with people because I don’t understand what they say or don’t care. It’s not that I don’t like them. I’m just not here. I don’t remember what people say, my own thoughts. I’m exhausted but not sleepy. I am emotionally needy. I am most likely, in hibernate, to make bad decisions about men, to throw things out that I want, and to run away. In the deepest of hibernate is when I have found myself walking in traffic and usually ending up in the hospital.

I would say it’s a varying level of dissociation. I rock. I often can’t control where my eyes go. I can’t look at you when I talk. I am distant, quiet. This is when I miss people the most. People special to me that I’ve lost or never see. I could walk for hours in the night, just thinking. I don’t want to go home.

The daisy bush is half-dead. And it’s hot inside. I’d like something to do right now but I can’t focus. I’m sitting on my patio, rocking, listening to an abnormally loud cricket and the cars. Mom is typing. Zoe’s talking to me. My bracelet, which I often feel is strangling me, feels light. Weird.

I wish I was in the hospital. Not because I need to be but because it’s predictable and safe. I can handle the structure. Nobody asks me to make big decisions and when I lay down in bed at night I know I’m okay. And that I can breathe. And that someone’s on my side.

It’s simple there. It’s outpatient life that’s crazy.

(pause to FB with Mom)

In hibernate happy comes more easily. So does sad and upset. Often for no apparent reason or for a reason no one else understands. My emotions are fluid and pure, unpredictable. And I simple have to/get to surf, to ride. There is no other option. –

I feel exhausted. It’s hard to write. The light gets brighter when the microwave stops. I’m almost to fantasy. I feel confused.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2010