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Friday, 04 October 2013 05:31

Week 10

As many of you know, I am currently in an intensive group therapy program. Its five days a week Monday-Friday. Tomorrow is the final day of my 10th week. I have come such a long way over the past 10 weeks. During my intake interview for this program I was challenged to set 3 goals. One of the biggest ones for me was opening up to people in order to et them support me. From day 1 I have been completely open with the people in this group. I guess it also helps since I'm there for a reason. In about week 2 or 3, I was doing some anxiety research online and stumbled across this website here.


At first I thought it might be awkward since I didn't know anyone else on here. I thought it would be like facebook where u may have over 500 "friends" but only comment on maybe 3 people's things. I didn't really know if I would stay on here or if it was just a one time thing. The next day, I was reading my email and I had a bunch of notifications from this site saying that people were commenting on my posts, adding me as a friend and messaging me. It was an awesome feeling. I noticed very quickly that it is socially acceptable for anyone to comment on other people's posts here.

A few weeks later, I saw someone post a link for tiny chat. I tried logging in a few times and nobody else was ever online. Fast forward to today and I have a pretty good idea as to when I can expect people to be online.

A lot of people in my therapy group feel anxious after the group and on weekends. I don't have to worry about that because I can come here to a whole other group.
A lot of people feel very nervous when they get past the 6 week mark in the program since they are working on transitioning out and it can be uncertain (also we can't have any communication with any of the others until we have both completed the program). I am ecited about finishing. I had 2 awesome people graduated when I was in week 5 and I haven't been able to see them since. I am looking forward to seeing them. Also I have my ASN people to rely on.

Week 11/12 next week. Time to start getting my life back on track. I'm totally ready for the next 2 weeks :)

Published in Diary
Wednesday, 18 September 2013 04:49

A Scary Thought

Today in therapy, I ended up re-sharing somthing because one of the therapists was away the day that I shared it. She pointed out how every time I talk I sit extremely still and it does not look natural. I explained that  that is the result of many years of training myself not to move. I did this because my hands and feet were always moving as a kid. My mom always told me it was a bad habbit that I needed to fix because starting bad habits at a young age would lead to bad habbits as an adult. When I was around 9 I was still moving too mcuh, so I was taken to many doctors to see what kind of disease or disability I had. Years later, I was told that I had a very minor neurological movement disorder, but nothing was serious and about it and it really didn't make any difference in mine or anyone else's life. After that, my mom was pretty satisfied that there was a somewhat diagnosis and I just moved on with life.


It really doesn't seem like a huge life event to me so I don't really think about it much. I was telling the psychiatrist in my group about it and right away he says "the reason you weren't getting anywhere with medical docotrs is beause that isn't a disease or disability. That's a very common way that children show anxiety". That totally makes a lot of sense. It's a scary thought that I could have possibly had surgery, taken drugs, or who knows what else for something I didn't have. I am very thankful that the doctor's back in the day basically gave a "we couldn't think of anythng else" diagnosis and left it at that. Imagine how much worse things could have been if they had tried to go on treating me for something serious when there's nothing there.


It also feels pretty good to know that I did not have a bad habbit, or anything else that I was told I had. Its also comforting to know that this is yet another aspect of my life that is going to get better as I get more control over my anxiety.

 

Published in Diary

As of yesterday I am halfway through my group therapy. we meet with one of the facillatators at teh 6 week mark. I had my meeting yesterday. Apparently all of the facillitators have said that I am doing great. I agree with them. I feel amazing and I'm much happier. I have learned so many new things and I know the next 6 weeks will be just as full.  I have started job hunting again. Had a few interesting positions that I applied for this week. I am also meeting with a case manager who is helping me with job searching. He signed me up for 2 workshops next week.


I finally have a doctor's note for my boss. I am really thinking of just asking for my regular hours back because I don't plan on staying in this job for long and my current hours feel like a waste of time. I can't plan naything on days where I have to work because I'm supposed to just play it by ear. That would be great if I had nothing to do but work, but I'm in therapy Monday-Friday and work Saturday and Sunday so my free time is very limited and it would be nice to do something with the small amount of time that I do get. Hopefully the doctor's not will make my boss take me seriously.

On another note, I am currently complaning about my boss through 3 different agencies. The first one says If I wait 13 weeks, I will be paid for all the hours I would have worked which would be awesome. The second one I called yesterday and the guy was kind of rude to me. I did not like the way he spoke to me at all. The third one has said nothing which is very odd. That reminds me i need to fax some stuff to the rude guy so I will cut this off here so I can do it before I forget.

Published in Diary
Monday, 26 August 2013 05:37

Week 5

I am starting week 5 of group therapy tomorrow. Next week I will be halfway there :) This week is going to be interesting because it will be the first week without 2 people who I became pretty close to over the last 4 weeks. They both graduated last week. 2 new people are starting this week and I always look forward to meeting new people when they come in.

Published in Diary
Friday, 16 August 2013 05:09

New Beginnings For Me

Hi everyone, my name is Lexie. I am brand new to this site I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder. I am also emetophobic. As a kid I was always a worrier. I had many problems with worrying about getting in trouble, or not having a partner/group for projects. These worries consumed all my time. If I stopped worrying and was at peace I would suddenly remember that I had something to worry about and go right back to worrying.

I was very healthy. I only had season allergies. No severe illnesses and no chronic conditions. At the age of 12 I woke up one morning and couldn't get back to sleep. A few hours later I vomitted. I thought I had the flu so I went back to sleep. A few hours later I woke up and felt like nothing had ever happened. A few days later the same thing happened again. This time it happened 3 days in a row. Eventually I would feel this way almost every day. I went to the doctor who presceibed anti-emetics.

To make a long story short I was treated for acid reflux, hormonal imblances, and just general dyspepsia. Despite all these treatments and many tests I was not feeling any different. At one point my doctor had suggested stress, but we dismissed that since i got some reflief from the ant-acids. I was on ant-acids and digestive aids all through high school. At the age of 22 I was in university, had been on many treatments, repeated a lot of the medical tests and still got no results. I went back to my doctor to bring this topic up again. She suggested anxiety and gave me a few tips and tricks to help. The next few months I used a mixture of digestive aids and relaxation.

Right after my last doctor's visit one of my friends at work ended up being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. I could see alot of similarities between the two of us and started taking my diagnosis more seriously. About a year ago she went through a very rough patch and was talking to me about it. I finally got up the courage to tell her that I also have anxiety. I really thought she was going to cry. She was so happy that she didnt have to suffer by herself anymore. We became eachother's support system after our initial discussion. This brought us a lot closer together. If one of us is struggling we always message eachother. I became a lot more open to the idea of treating my sef for an anxiety disorder.

This past May, I graduated from university with a BA in Psychology. In between job hunting and adjusting to life without school, I decided that this would be a good time to get help. I went back to my doctor and was given questionnaires. I was also started on medication and given a referral for group therapy. I was on the meds for 2 months before starting therapy (long waiting list). I had noticed subtle changes. My stomach was feeling better and I was generally less anxious (but still extremely anxious).

I met with a psychologist who runs various therapy groups on an outpatient basis at the local hospital. She suggested the intensive group. It runs 5 days a week for 12 weeks. They had space available for the week after that. I decided that this was the only time in my life where I would have the time to do something like this. I took the offer and started with the group the following week. Right away, I felt at home. Everyone in the group was very welcoming. Although I was one of the youngest members I could relate to everyone's stories. I knew I had made the right decision.

I am now finishing my 3rd week. I have already made progress. I feel like I have known these people all my life. It is hard waking up first thing in the morning when I'm used to sleeping in. Its also very difficult to talk about problems five days a week. Its both mentally and physically exhausting, but it feels good. Sometimes I get triggered by soemthing someone says or a topic that we are covering. After being triggered, recognizing this and sharing with others, I feel so much better. I am really hoping that I am able to use the 12 weeks well and am very optimistic.

I will give regular updates on my progress as time goes on. If anyone wants to talk ever, I am here. You can add me as a friens, message me, or whatever. I look forward to getting to know the community here.

Published in Diary
Wednesday, 22 August 2012 16:19

Feeling Good Feeling Strong

Feeling Good Feeling Strong

If you had told me ten years ago I would be going to Weight Watchers meetings I probably would have punched you in the face. In fact, after punching you in the face I would have laughed at the absurdity of your statement.
I wasn't a believer in the whole "metabolism slows down after 30" thing. I'd always eaten junk food like it was going out of style. I even worked at Burger King for like, two years in high school. Mainly because I had a friend who worked there and she told me it would be fun. And I believed her.
(Are we noticing a certain naivete in my younger self? I think so.)
Sadly, everything I refused to believe has kind of come true. I'm not saying I'm wildly overweight and am on track to need a crane to get me out of my recliner. I'm just saying, I'm not digging my 34-year old body and think I could be doing a better job steering this ship.
I suspect a part of the anxiety I've been wrestling with has been about the belief that I am not strong in body or in mind. Because every time I had to do something out of my comfort zone over the last ten years I'd either have to drug the shit out of myself with Xanax and/or Clonipin (which did not always work, eventually my tolerance for that shit was on par with that of an angry rhino) or have a massive panic attack. Not an "uh-oh, I'm feeling funny and I'm a wuss who can't handle it" attack. No indeed. The best way I can explain my experience of panic attack is: my vision will tunnel so I can't measure depth of field well. My hands, face, and chest tighten and heat to redness and sweating.
My thoughts go from: "I'm okay, I'm safe, everything is okay, just breathe."
To: "I want to die. I wish I would get hit by a car so I could have an acceptable reason for this bullshit. I hate myself. I hate life. I ruin everything and I'm no fun and nobody should ever love me because I am a piece of shit and there must be something wrong with these people because they brought me to their (Fill in the blank - game, concert, batchelorette  party, etc.)
Mixed with explosive diarrhea and nausea and usually followed by a migraine.
So no, it's not "all in my head."
I talk about my anxiety a lot because it has changed the shape of my life. It is not for sympathy. It is to help you understand that if you're the one having the panic attacks in your world  there is nothing wrong with you. You are not defective. You deserve good things. You deserve to live the highs and lows of your life. You can do it, if I could beat it, believe me you can too.
It's also so the friends and family members of the individual with the attacks can understand how awful it is. How debilitating and humiliating and painful. So even though you're pissed that your plans got messed with, no matter how bad you feel, the person actually having the attack hates themselves and feels worse about themselves more than you could ever know. Because the one having the attack not only gets all the effects I mentioned above, but they also feel guilty and ashamed for losing their shit in front of you and letting you down.
Want to help someone in that situation? Tell them it's okay. You just want them to be okay. Hopefully, prior to your event, you listened to them when they said what they were and were not comfortable with. Most of us with anxiety know our triggers and have developed ways to avoid them. Personally, for me it was always of great comfort to know that I could get to an event just before it actually started so I wouldn't have a lot of down time where I wasn't being distracted. It also meant I needed to drive myself places so I could go home if things got ugly at any point.
Therefore, the awful day in Erin History when my husband innocently brought me to the Patriots/Miami game (we're Dolphins fans, well, he is, I just go with it) was one of the darkest we've had. Because despite my telling him numerous times I did not feel good about tailgating, he wanted me there with him because he loves the Dolphins and he loves me. He is a man who wants me to share his life with him and part of that life involves actually going places and doing things. He believed I could do it.
I, on the other hand and despite my best efforts hyper focused on being trapped in a parking lot with NO ability to get out at all in case of emergency (stampede? fire? terrorists?). I knew myself back then and I knew sitting around trying to eat of all ridiculous things would be hard for me. And big surprise! It was a complete disaster that ended with his friends having to drive him home (about 2 hours out of their way might I add) as I went to the hotel next door and got the concierge to have their limo driver bring me to the Home Depot parking lot our truck was in. Because I wouldn't let him leave the game entirely. It's once a year his team comes to town and I insisted he stay.
Afterwards he was furious with me and I can only assume his friends thought I was absolutely insane/high maintenance/selfish/whatever else. Disaster isn't a strong enough word. However, please understand, my husband has been through this with me for four years now. He struggled to believe the limitations his otherwise laid back, easy going wife had. It doesn't make sense that someone can't do simple, fun things. It defies logic and my husband is a very logical fellow.
It took me another two years to find my panic and anxiety cure. And if you've been paying attention you know that was due in one part to a brilliant psychiatrist and the rest was Rhonda Britten/Kripalu wellness and yoga center in western MA. It took me about fourteen years to get to a place where panic does not control me and I feel safe in my own head.
The physical body stuff I'm hoping and praying will be easier. Certainly less traumatic that's for sure. In about six months, I'll be 35. It's my goal to be lean and mean and ready to rumble! With like, muscles, and stuff. Today at weigh-in I was down 2.4 pounds. Go me!
It didn't happen by accident, but neither do most things. Call me Point Tracking Mama when you see me. And I will fight the urge to punch you in the face. I promise.

Published in Therapists Blog
Thursday, 16 August 2012 15:08

EMDR Part II

Yesterday I talked about how great EMDR is. I explained how it works by essentially allowing you to change your old negative pathways of thinking and develop new, positive ones. This allows those old, negative pathways to heal over and eventually disappear. I tried to describe the feeling and experience of EMDR but in the interest of time I decided to make this a 2-part essay.

Going to an EMDR therapist you should probably be prepared to see and experience things differently than when you go to your regular therapist. While you are doing EMDR it is probably best to put your regular therapy on hold so you can focus solely on your work in this model. A lot of the time, you will only see your EMDR therapist for however many sessions it takes for you to reach your goals. This depends completely on the therapist you choose. Some only do the intense EMDR work and that is all they do. Others mix traditional therapy with EMDR and you may end up seeing them for longer. My main point here is, EMDR is intense, it's draining, it's real, actual work. Going to your traditional therapist while trying to do EMDR may be too much to handle and if it is, that's totally okay. If your therapist cannot or will not work with this, find out why first and foremost. Your therapist knows you, they may have very good, clinical reasons for their opinion. Hear them out and try to figure out what will work best for your specific treatment. If they try to talk you out of EMDR but you still feel strongly about it, then I would say you may either want to wait or visit an EMDR specialist in your area and see what they say. They will likely be completely happy to talk to your therapist and attempt to work out a treatment plan for you together with your therapist.

I should also explain that EMDR is different than a traditional therapy session. Your therapist will ask you questions and will most likely ask you to close your eyes and really visualize your answers. This is helpful in getting you to relax and feel open and ready. Your EMDR therapist will ask you to be aware of your thoughts and your body - how does it feel? Do you feel any particular sensation anywhere in the body and what do you feel or hear as a message when you pay attention to it? Your therapist will ask you to allow your mind to go wherever it needs to go, you may see memories in your minds eye of events you had totally forgotten about. You may experience sensations in your body - warmth, tingling, aching, tightening - pay attention to these sensations and make note of them and what they mean to you.

Your EMDR therapist also uses tools to help speed up your brains processing and building new pathways. These tools can be one or all of the following things - an approximately two foot long bar with small colored lights inside held up on a tripod or set on a desk or table - you will be asked to follow the lights with your eyes. Another possibility will be what I have experienced with both of my EMDR therapists. Small rounded paddles, approximately two inches around held in your hands that vibrate intermittently while you are searching through old memories. Or, your therapist may just ask you to follow his finger with your eyes and stand in front of you moving it back and forth while you focus on the movement with your eyes.

Remember - EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Re-processing. Studies have shown that moving your eyes or focusing your attention left-right, right-left, etc, directly effects the building of new neuro-pathways and brings symptom relief for PTSD, anxiety, and depression sufferers.

Through EMDR I learned the following pathway was alive and kicking in my brain. I began focusing on the sensation of anxiety in my chest, my therapist had me hold the paddles and close my eyes. I let my brain bounce around, go wherever it needed to, and after a minute or so I saw my teenage self sitting on the porch of my boyfriend's house when I was about 17. I recognized this as a memory of my smoking pot and completely freaking out. I was not the pot-head type but the boyfriend was so I had gone for it. Only to find out, it made me want to die (I believe this may have been a panic attack brought on by the paranoia I got from smoking pot. Awesome.)
My brain then bounced to several other long forgotten incidents of my throwing up or panicking or freaking out. Eventually my brain bounced its way to a memory I had completely forgotten. It explained why I hated Boston and didn't want to go there ever. Apparently, in college I had gone to Boston with some friends and at some point, the T (metro) broke down. Underground. And it was really dark and really freaky for about 15-20 minutes. Surrounded by strangers, clinging to my friends and amazingly, not freaking out during the period of darkness, probably because I knew instinctively it wouldn't do any good.

Basically, my brain had built a pathway with all sorts of delightful stops along the way, that I had largely forgotten. And somehow along the line they became tangled and the messages I received from these long forgotten experiences were "You ruin everything. You kill the fun. You suck. You can't do anything right so you should just stay home. Boston hates you, it's out to get you. You ruin everything. You ruin everything. It is all your fault."

Um...well if that's not a Panic Attack Cocktail I don't know what is! And there were loads of these pathways in my brain created by many other incidents and traumas that had stuck with me. Never processed or resolved, just...basically squatted in my brain rent free for years. Years. Many of them. Seeing these memories allowed me to take the power out of them.

The best part of EMDR is using a memory of a time when things were amazing or wonderful. This is the heart of the experience - you will use this memory to flood your brain with delightful, delicious endorphins  and dopamine! Yum! When you end your session you will likely end it on this memory. You will use this memory like a mouthwash to rinse the icky off the session and replace it with minty freshness.

Find your truth and own it baby!
Published in Therapists Blog
Friday, 10 August 2012 21:26

The Break Up

One awkward thing about treatment is, what do you do when you've outgrown your therapist? I mean, it's great, they probably helped you a lot. So how do you end treatment with them?

Technically, the therapist is supposed to see when things are at an organic end point but that doesn't always happen. I saw my former therapist for almost three years. She was exactly what I needed when I needed it but when my life finally began to change and stop sucking so much all the time, I actually felt like she didn't trust me. I felt that she was overly critical and even territorial when it came down to it. I didn't feel that she understood the extent of the suckage that was my life. I was legit living in the ghetto for just under two years. And my original land lord had died and left us with her horrible partner in charge.  

The partner (Slum Lord Biotch or SLB for short) was truly the most horrible human being I have ever met. And let's face it, I attract assholes like moths to a flame. So I wasn't surprised that she was awful, I was just surprised she was THAT awful.

When we got the opportunity to move out of there 2 months before the lease was up we were all over it. We did everything by the book but...being a psycho SLB, she continued to hound us and hound us for more money. The last time I ever saw her I had been cleaning the apartment top to bottom for about 4 hours. And it was HOT. I so happened to go outside to put something in my car when she appeared out of nowhere. She claimed to have paid the handyman to remove the giant pile of trash we'd left on the sidewalk. I told her the town was going to pick it up for free as I had called them and spoken to a very nice lady about it. But she'd already paid the guy so I figured I would suck it up and pay the $150 just to keep the peace. (Apparently peace pricey!)

Except she followed me upstairs. And stood really close to me. And then demanded more money. And I completely lost my shit.
Lost. It. (I suspect now, looking back, I was angry at two other women who'd had some form of power over me and I never got to tell them off so this was kind of my moment.)
Anyway, I think I may have blacked out. Because I could hear myself screaming at her and calling her every name in the book. The C-bomb, which I try to only use on special occasions...stole the show. It was as if I developed Tourettes Syndrome and that word was all I could get out. Loudly. Very loudly. Until I finally came back to my body a bit and had the sense to scream "GET OUT! Get out of my house you evil crazy bitch!"
Then called my husband and cried "I just called Lori the C-word like, 87 times and I'm totally freaking out!"

My therapist's response to our moving out of the ghetto was that it was wrong of me to break a lease and that renting from my landlord was wrong because he was the step-dad of a former client. Her exact words were, in fact, "I will fire you as a client if you do that. For as long as you live in that house you will be going completely backwards."

I went back one time after that. It was okay, I did tell her I didn't appreciate what she'd said. Or her weird denial of the fact that we have the same job. (Seriously! I felt so judged by her!)

I didn't call her and she never called me. I consider that not just poor business, but poor social skills.  After three years of treatment, I feel a client falling off the face of the earth would merit some form of communication.

The real deal breaker was later that spring, I had a horrifying experience trying to wean off Effexor (My med of choice for years. Too bad it was the wrong one!) I basically went into withdrawal and could not function.
I have no idea why, but I thought I had an appointment. I called her and stated, "I am extremely ill, in withdrawal from Effexor, the doctor gave me cancer meds to stop the nausea and I'm so scared but I really hope I didn't mess up your schedule because I hate missing appointments and I am so sorry and baaahh..."
Her response? "No, we didn't have an appointment."
That's all.
And she never called me again.

It may be crazy of me, but if one of my clients dragged themselves out of a withdrawal stupor to call me and apologize for missing an appointment that didn't exist, I would have called them again in like, a week, to see if they were alive.

Anyway, if you want to stop meeting with a therapist, it's okay. Really. We are surprisingly resilient and don't take that personally. It's okay to tell your therapist face-face that you're ready to move on. In my case, you could even text or email. No hard feelings. Come back and see me sometime if you'd like a tune-up.

That about sums it up. It's not always about you!
(But it is usually about me.)
Published in Therapists Blog
Thursday, 02 August 2012 20:47

Who Are You People?

In case you haven't noticed, I put a lot of my personal story into this blog. For me it's been almost a therapeutic exercise at times to share parts of my life that aren't exactly high points. About five years ago I went to Salem, MA with my godmother, cousin, and sister. We went to Laurie Cabot's shop - she is the unofficial (or possibly official?) Witch of Salem. While there we asked for a recommendation for psychic readings and they sent us to The Oracle Chamber. It was run by a husband and wife, small and unassuming you'd never guess this little shop could house something so special. Upon entering and meeting Therese and her husband (John? I can't remember, don't judge me) I was immediately put at ease. Never having ventured into the world of psychics, tarot cards, or palm readings I had no clue what to expect. What I got was an hour long intense and somewhat confusing tarot reading followed by a five minute palm reading that put words to something I never could but had somehow subconsciously sensed for a long time. Those words have brought me if not a sense of relief, at least a sense of peace. Therese so happens to be my grandmother's name so that alone made me interested in her reading and after hearing her read my cousin's palm and basically hit it out of the ballpark with her specificity I had to try it too. After grabbing my hand and shining a strong light onto it she started the reading and although I can't remember everything I do remember she pointed out to me that my palm creases in the shape of a five-pointed star and that I was a healer but a wounded one. A wounded healer.

This theme also came up loud and clear when I had my Numerology done. Huh.

So that's why my life tends to fall apart? So I can help other people more? I have always said, Erin Land is a great place but when things go wrong, they REALLY go wrong. The answer, apparently, is yes. Due to the epic mess of my life at certain points in time I have definitely grown more compassionate, gentler - with myself and others, and more open minded. Judge not lest ye be judged peeps. Or, more simply - don't judge anyone unless you have walked in their shoes.

I am fully aware that by putting personal details of my life on the internet I am opening myself up to criticism and God only knows what else. But if I'm helping someone get through their day or understand that they are not alone and there is nothing wrong with them, it's worth it. What I really want to know is, this page has almost 2000 views. And maybe 8 comments? What's up with that? Who are you out there reading this? Why don't you introduce yourself? Do you know me in real life or am I a total stranger you've managed to find? The anonymity of the internet allows you to read all about me and my little world - so what do you do after you're done reading? Here's an idea - leave me a comment - here or on Facebook or Twitter or Blogher. I'm all over the place y'all and I want to know who you are. Because I'm interested and curious and excited to know you and to hear what you get out of reading this blog.

Help me out here peeps. I promise to love you even if you don't but I sure will dig it if you do.


I didn't want to have to say it but...kidding! Sort of...
Published in Diary
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 13:23

Why I Became A Therapist

The question I get asked the most - Why did you decide to become a therapist? This is a completely acceptable, normal question for pretty much any therapist but I know I am extra mysterious and confusing because my bachelor's degree is from the Hartt School of Music and has absolutely nothing to do with my current (and correct) occupation.


Hartt = fun. Period. I was 17, had visited a friend there and met kids who were doing a major in music business. Perfect! I get to play piano and sing and get business training! Yay!

So I started in there and absolutely loved it. I loved my ear training classes and being in a master choir and having a great roommate who was a music theater major. Freshman year was amazing.
Sophomore year? Not so much.

I did manage to land another excellent roommate who was also a music theater major so that was cool. And I managed to live in the same suite as my best friend and have easy access at all times to see friends because dorms are cool like that. I lived in RCA - Residential Complex of the Arts - so I was surrounded by amazing artists and musicians and basically given the experience of living in an artist colony that so happened to require walking up four flights of stairs because two years in a row, I managed to be on the 4th floor. I had thighs of steel from those steps I tell you.

Sophomore year was looking like it was going to be just as awesome as freshman year, if not more so. Sadly, however, that was not meant to be. You see, going back a little ways to high school, I met Shannon when I was a high school senior. Shannon was a boy btw. With a very Celtic name. And he was The One. We literally met at a friends house and that was it. From that moment on I loved that boy. It was the first time I'd been seriously deep down in the trenches of love and it was intense.

To provide a little background info - he was the perfect broken baby bird for me. I have always been a rescuer. It's encoded in my DNA I swear to you. His parents were divorced. He technically lived in Mass but he went to school in Manchester, CT hence how I met him. His mother was awful, I literally saw her twice in the entire three years we spent together. His father was very wealthy but never showed it and preferred the friend role, he was also a cheater who was more concerned with his girlfriend and the effort of cheating on his wife to really give a shit about what his son was up to. Shannon had zero parental supervision unless you counted my parents and you probably should seeing as how they let him stay over for at least one night most weekends. This was largely so I wouldn't have to drive him home to Mass more than because of their interest or concern for him. I don't think my parents ever liked him and that hurt. It hurts to have your parents dislike the person you're head over heels for.

It's also a basic guarantee you will fight like hell to stay with that person rather than be proven wrong.

The biggest difference between Shannon and I, was that he loved to party. With drugs. And alcohol. And I...didn't. But I put up with it because I loved him and because he was a brilliant liar. Truly, he should be on the NY Times bestseller list because he had an amazing imagination when it came to lying. And I had an amazing ability to not see anything I didn't want to see or didn't know to look for. One of my clients read through my blog entries and he said he thinks I am a person who loves too much and he is right.

So even when he did coke at a party and I threw a fit, or when he did 8 hits of acid at my senior prom, I pretended not to notice he was a zombie and ruined everyone's night. I refused to see he was on the thinnest of ice with his drug use. Until he discovered heroin. That freaked the shit out of me. Because, of course, he loved it. He loved it so much I didn't realize he loved it more than he loved me until I had no choice but to see it and accept it. I had many opportunities to get away but I never had the heart to keep to it. I broke up with him at least three times but each time he said he was going to die without me and I was the only person in the world who loved him. And, honestly, he was kind of right. His parents sucked, he had no extended family, and friends aren't the same kind of love as what he was searching for. What made him impossible for me to quit was knowing he was completely alone and needed love. (Love addict? Pathological rescuer? Yes to both.)

I definitely had denial. Like, superhero strong denial. All my friends tried to tell me he sucked and I should move on. I wish I had realized at the time how bad things were but even when presented with glaringly disturbing evidence I stuck by him. Like the time he decided to break into his dad and step-moms house with me and he stole a bunch of silverware. Like, a lot of it. Because apparently it was real silver and worth money. I can't remember how he sold me on that one. I don't think he told me the plan prior to getting there. Or the time we went to this terrifying motel so he could buy heroin and he told me it was too dangerous for me inside so I had to wait in the car. Alone. In an extremely bad section of town. Until I couldn't take it anymore and went to the room door and knocked. Only to have it opened by a spaced out junkie who was panicked because his friend had just OD'd in the bathroom and they were all running away after calling 911.

Or even the awesome time a girlfriend of mine and I went to pick Shannon up to go play pool when I SAW needles on the floor with my own eyes. And I pointed them out to Shannon and he insisted he was just selling clean needles to junkies for the money. And I believed him. That was about a month before sophomore year began.

It was about a month into the new semester when I got the call. That he couldn't hide it from me anymore, my friend from the night of the needle sightings knew because she had hung out with him after I'd gone home that night and he'd confessed everything to her. But she didn't tell me. Because she fell for his bullshit as well. I cannot express in words how good at lying an addict is. It is their entire life. Everything an addict has is built on lies, they have no choice but to be brilliant at it.

But I was then 19 and still naive. After everything I had seen. So when the phone call came from Shannon when he said "I'm a junkie. I've been lying to you. I've been shooting up for months and months and I can't stop. My dad is sending me to rehab" I just went into a kind of shock/coma thing.

Ah rehab. That he ran away from. And then tested positive for cocaine in.  The last time I spoke to or saw him was at his father's apartment where his dad gave me the money he owed me. (It would be 10 years before I saw him again.) His dad, had actually come to see me at school while looking for Shannon when he was missing. He accused me time and time again of hiding him in my dorm but I think he was just hoping that was the truth. It upset and traumatized me to have someone else's dad leaning on me so heavily. We went for car rides and talked about what to do. He'd call me to check to see if Shannon had shown up and would get angry and frustrated when time after time I would have to tell him I hadn't heard from or seen him. I think his dad cared about me and maybe I haven't been fair to him. He loved his son, he just didn't know how to be a parent. He was much better at being a friend.

Essentially, that phone call from Shannon, where he confessed to being a junkie who shot up so hey, I should probably get tested for HIV and Hep C...that broke me. I was terrified, traumatized, and had absolutely no idea what to do. My friends did the best they could but at that point I was unreachable. I just wanted to go to bed and never wake up.

And then it got worse.

Shannon's dad had been cheating on his wife with a woman named (I shit you not) Candy. And because it's a tiny fucking world we live in, Candy knew my mom's entire family because she'd grown up across the street from them. So, Candy, in all her wisdom, purposely told my aunt about Shannon (at least it was the best aunt possible). Because she knew who I was and I think she hated my mom because when she asked about her she got this look on her face like something smelled bad. Bitch. And, of course, my aunt told my mother. (Apparently she took her for a car ride and gave her a cigarette which, according to my mom, made her nauseous.)

So as I was tucked away in my dorm trying to find the ground beneath my feet, I received a totally unexpected phone call from my mom. "We know about Shannon. When were you going to tell us? Were you going to ever tell us? You know your father doesn't know yet. I'm going to have to take him out to a restaurant so he can't totally freak out in public." She probably said she loved me and attempted some words of comfort but I don't remember them because I was shattered. I was barely keeping it together with Shannon being missing and my thinking I was going to die from some horrible needle disease. I could not do this. I could not comfort my parents and I was completely humiliated and broken. Lost. Traumatized.

And Candy? To this day, if I ever see that bitch I will punch her in the face. I have yet to forgive her because I knew then and I know it today, she did that to fuck with me because of her weird issue with my mom. Psycho. Bitch. Life ruiner.

My poor roommate. She thought she was getting a fun roomie. She put up with the crazy phone calls and with me literally being in my bed as much as humanly possible giving her virtually no privacy in the room because I was always there, usually sleeping. Classes were not my priority anymore. Everything lost its meaning. I was clinically depressed and had been changed on a cellular level. I was not the same girl any more.

I attempted to use the on-campus counseling service, I think my friends recommended it. The intake lady was amazing and if she'd been my therapist I probably would have been about a million times better off. But she wasn't. My therapist was an intern and when I told her what was going on she basically fell out of her chair. Not exactly helpful. But for the first time, I was exposed to therapy land. A seed was planted.

I made it through sophomore year by the skin of my teeth grades-wise. Piano was no longer fun but a necessary evil. I met a new boy and he was amazing and just what the doctor ordered. A complete distraction from the suck that was my life. It was at that time I began experiencing panic attacks. I didn't know what they were. That's also when my anxiety started. I remember running to the campus store to buy Immodium because my digestive system had shut down and I was constantly dealing with what can only be described as ass-plosions. For what would be the next 14 years.

By junior year I was a completely different person. I barely cared about my major. I did my work because I had to but that was about it. My required internship was a plum job at Sony Music in Boston - just what I had wanted. That internship was so good in so many ways and so awful in so many ways. I liked doing the work but I couldn't stand most of the people I had to deal with and I think it showed. The extreme extroversion required to work in the music industry went against my core make-up and I didn't really connect with anyone that strongly. They were nice and it was fun to meet artists and get tons of free stuff but it was also frustrating to not really enjoy something I knew my classmates would kill for. The music industry is an ego-fest. I couldn't keep up and barely tried. I knew by the end of summer I needed to do something meaningful with my life. This shallow world held no appeal for me anymore.

Senior year I was hit with another bomb that someone else in my life was addicted. To heroin. And it knocked me down. Again. But it was almost over. I was almost free of school. I kept plugging away as best I could. I sucked it up to graduate because I just wanted to be done. I wanted the degree so I could move on and start my life. I had been working with special needs children for years by that point and knew I loved it. I knew I didn't want to be with kids who had physical special needs but I was extremely drawn to the trouble-makers. The outsiders. So upon graduation I took a job as a special ed paraprofessional in an alternative middle/high school. I loved it. I decided to get my masters in special ed. But then I hated the classes and realized I didn't want to teach kids math, I wanted to help them survive life and channel their hurt into positive things. While at St. Joseph College one day I noticed a pamphlet for their Marriage and Family Therapy program. I was instantly hooked. I got in without problem despite my music background.

Some shit is just meant to be. Because despite all of that, I wouldn't trade the life I have now for anything. There's even more to the story but frankly, I'm tired and this post is redonkulous long.

Published in Diary
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