November 27, 2012

Red Is For...

I finally scanned in some new artwork to share. I've been struggling a bit with feelings of anger and shame recently. It's been especially hard because of the holidays, which means too much time for me to think, staying in the room I grew up in where some abuse took place, and thinking about how alone I felt as a child at this time of year when I wanted to just tell someone what was happening but was too afraid to. It's strange because there's so much about this time of year that's hard for me, but it's still my favorite holiday season. I absolutely love everything about Christmas, so I guess maybe next I'll have to draw something uplifting about it.

These first two drawings are expressing some of the anger that I was feeling last week.


November 2012
This one felt good to draw. I wasn't trying to be careful while I was doing it - I just scribbled a bunch of black lines and then drew fiery colors around them. It kind of helped relax me while getting some of the anger out at the same time.

November 24, 2012

This drawing was more of an experiment and it didn't turn out the way I wanted it to. I wanted to try to mix the red and the blue in an interesting way so I drew an angry red sea, but I didn't really plan ahead with everything so when I decided to add some yellow in, there were already smudges everywhere that made the yellow hard to work with. I got really frustrated with it and ended up giving up on trying to make it look nice. I called it "Primary" because I realized after I finished that I used only primary colors, and it also looks pretty simple.

November 24, 2012


What with Thanksgiving a few days ago and all, I thought I'd make a little list of things I'm grateful for. It seems like a good DBT-type-thingy to do - think of all of the positive rather than only focusing on the negative.

Things I'm Grateful For

1. My parents and brother - I know that all three of them will be there for me no matter what happens. I'm know how lucky I am to be unconditionally loved.

2. My friends - they put up with me being a boring/selfish/tired/crazy depressed person for a good while and yet still seem to like me ;). (Especially my poor roommate...)

3. All of the therapists, mental health workers, psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, and doctors who have helped and are helping me through all of this. I can think of so many amazing things that each person I've met has taught me or done for me that it would be almost impossible to name everything. Five years ago, I never thought I would be where I am now, and I wouldn't be here without the help of so many caring people.

4. My job - the fact that I have one; that I can afford to put a roof over my head and feed myself because of it; that I do something that I really enjoy; that I no longer have an insane boss; that I have so many unbelievably nice coworkers; that it gives me amazing health benefits; and that it allows me to take graduate classes practically for free.

5. My resilience and strength. I have no idea where I would be without it - but I'm sure it wouldn't be a very nice place.

November 16, 2012

Identifying Underlying Emotions

I'm taking a clinical psychology class right now and realized that I made a very wrong guess about what type of therapy I've been receiving as my primary individual therapy... I didn't realize until taking this class that psychodynamic psychotherapy is actually very close to Freudian psychoanalysis... which is definitely not what I have been doing in therapy. So, I'm still not really sure how the various therapists I've had would define their style - but it's probably closer to some sort of cognitive therapy style. In view of that, I rewrote parts of the "Treatments" page of the blog (found here).

In other news, my CBT therapist pretty much destroyed a bunch of my defense mechanisms that I was using to protect myself from myself. Basically, sometimes my thoughts or feelings are unacceptable to me (even though they are actually probably normal) and I need to pretend that they aren't there so I have defense mechanisms so that I can avoid them. When my CBT therapist made me face those thoughts and feelings that I was avoiding, I had the most confusing mix of emotions. I was embarrassed, scared, angry, sad and completely exposed and vulnerable, all at the same time and all I could do was sit there and cry through most of my session with her. Afterwards though, the anger took over and at first I was angry with her for making me feel like that, but then it shifted to just being angry with life in general for putting me in this position. And that's where I still am. 

According to my primary therapist, anger is a more "acceptable" emotion to feel but if you narrow it down, there is often some other emotion that is creating that anger that is harder to accept or identify. For example, fear may be expressed as anger: a parent who yells at a child because they lost sight of them for a moment and were worried about their safety. Other emotions may be guilt, shame, or sadness. I guess now I need to figure out what other emotions I'm feeling. I think that a lot of it is probably fear and maybe feeling a little bit alone and sad. I don't know. I'm probably also just plain angry about having to deal with all of this.

November 8, 2012


I learned a fun new math equation this week...

Anniversary of a difficult termination with a therapist
Unexpected visit to the hospital that I was at when it happened (this time was for work reasons)
Current therapist telling me that she has to take a leave of absence for 4-6 weeks
Fastest spiral into negative coping ever.

So yeah. Bad news is that I went from being pretty OK to being in a horrible cavern of despair in a matter of hours. I lapsed into some bad habits that I feel incredibly guilty about. However, the good news is that instead of letting myself sink past the point of no return, I actually reached out for help by calling the on-call service at the mental health clinic I go to. I was completely terrified of doing it but I ended up feeling so much better for having done it. The person I talked to pretty much convinced me that I'm not a complete failure and that I'm not overreacting about something that seems really stupid, and she set up a little bit of extra support for me for the next week. And on top of that I felt pretty good about myself for reaching out for help like everyone always tells me to... 

I guess that even though this situation felt pretty shitty, it was still another learning experience that I can use to help me next time something like this happens. Luckily, I think there's very little chance that this particular equation will ever repeat, since it was pretty much a bunch of really bad timing. But it will definitely not be the last time that I have to deal with sudden overwhelming feelings, so I hope that I will remember this situation and think more about what to do and what not to do.

November 4, 2012



October 29, 2012
This drawing is actually based on another drawing that I did a while ago, which is the first drawing that can be found in this post. The previous drawing actually had a double meaning. One of the meanings is what I wrote next to it. The other is that it actually represents a specific memory as well. It's too disturbing to write about what it represents but the pink/beige line represents me as a vulnerable child. The grey spikes (which my roommate said look like nails ripping into flesh... an excellent metaphor for the picture and inspiration for the title) represent one of the people who abused me. The brown represents another one. The black space is pretty much pure paralyzing terror. This is one of my worst memories and images from it have been following me around and popping into my head. I thought that maybe drawing it could help me get those images out of my head for a little bit. It did actually help, so I'm glad I made myself draw.