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Oak keeps telling me to just keep busy, to distract myself until I can get moved and settled.  So after yesterday morning’s pity party, I absolved myself of all my planned responsibilities for the day, except getting my hair trimmed and meeting with the painter to get he estimate on painting the new apartment.  I oped in bed and read for a while, then I went and messed around at the new apartment, met the painted, washed new kitchen stuff and put it away and just generally was present in the new place.

Picked up Violet from the airport and took her to get a drink and cheeseburger for me.  Had a lovely time, felt emotionally restored after.  Went home, read some more, slept.  Today I watched some crappy TV for a bit, sanded some furniture and then went and worked my ass off at the new apartment (one of the biggest problems with renting is that other people’s standard of cleanliness isn’t usually as high as mine is).  I got the kitchen very clean, except one last little gross part which I was just too tired to do.  I sanded and primed the parts of living room that needed it, in anticipation of the painters coming.  And I spent a lot of time just wandering around and looking out my windows and feeling how much I like the place.

Both the painter and Violet said the place just felt good to be in.  I agree.  It needs a name, as I have named all my homes.  I can’t decide if it’s get’s a proper name like fancy old manor house or if it will be something else.

Hawthorn helped me by getting me a lot of power tools today so I can finish up the rest of my furniture projects before I move.  Violet and I had a nice conversation about my choices made in good faith and Hawthorn not being a bad guy, just doing what he needed to do and simply having bad timing.  I feel better about the world in general.   I am tired though.  Good hard work tired.  MOre furtinture work tomorrow.  For the keeping busy.  It seems to work.

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Well I’m rather pleased with myself that I’ve managed to keep up with this blogging thing for a month so far.  Eleven more to go!  I tried to do an emotional inventory or progress report on myself last night.  I’m not sure if I was doing it because I had insomnia, or if I had insomnia because I was doing it.  So we’ll start there.

Insomnia: This has actually been a lifelong problem for me.  I have clear memories of my sleep troubles from when I was eight or nine.  It does seem to come in cycles and it does seem to be vastly amplified by stress.  The muscle relaxants definitely exacerbated it the couple of times I tried to take them (might experiment one more time with taking them during the day). The Lexapro actually seemed to help with the insomnia, but left me dull, fatigued and lethargic during the day (plus the intestinal problems made it a no go anyway).  I think that now that I am off the SSRIs, I will add the 5-HTP I was taking back into my regimen as it really seemed to help before and I believe it shouldn’t have ill effects with the St. John’s Wort (indeed they are often recommended together).

Sometimes I think if I could just get the sleep thing together I’d be much better off over all.  Possibly that’s true, but there’s so many other factors that I don’t think I should give too much sway to the power of sleep (though it is healing a and good).

Panic attacks: These had increased dramatically for me in Oct, Nov and Dec of 2010.  Now I am mainly back to having them only at night.  Which doesn’t help the insomnia much but is better than getting them while driving or being out socially.  The Klonopin does wonders for the panic attacks.  I have mentioned (to folks for sure and probably here) that I understand the dependency possibility with benzos like this but you can pry my Klonopin from my cold, dead hands because this stuff is MAGIC.  I think currently I am most relieved at the lessened panic attacks.  This makes all my other problems seem less insurmountable.

Therapy: I think it’s only just beginning to dawn on my how much long, hard work therapy is going to be.  It’s a bit intimidating but I think I am up for it.  Planning on continuing it until I think I don’t need it.  I do hope that this isn’t a forever thing.  I’d like to start setting limits and guidelines for it.  Like can I overcome my hysterical sobbing at the idea of going to the dentist? Can I learn to ask for help with out feeling like I’m doing something horribly, terribly wrong?  Can I create a relationship with my mother that feels good most of the time instead of half of the time?  Can I verbalize what I need out of relationships and set guidelines for continuing my trend of increasingly healthy ones (yes, I know recent events make them seem sucky, but both Oak and Hawthorn are Prince Charmings compared to previous dating history–I think I have already been making strides here and I’d like to continue that).  So within the bounds of all that, I can’t guess how long I’ll go to therapy, but I’m glad to have it as an outlet and a support and I think it’s been helpful so far, at least in showing me that there is a path and there is help.

Blogging: Writing in this space has been incredibly helpful to me.  I feel like it’s given me a place to order my thoughts and shake some of the chaos out of my head.  The vague anonymity of it (I mean I know you’re reading and I know you know me, but I don’t see you) has freed me from feeling judged about what I’m writing and I think I’ve done an excellent job of not self-censoring.  Ordering and writing down my thoughts here has really helped me with being able to later verbalize feelings and opinions on my health and my situation when I am talking to my friends in real life and I think has actually facilitated me being comfortable being much more open with people in person (therapy has helped with that as well).  So even if I am sort of parroting myself in person, I at least am using my own assessments of myself and feeling less confused and more likely to talk about how I’m feeling.

Medication: Clearly it’s been up and down.  I think my decision to make the leap to go on medication was the right one.  I don’t think it worked for me and I glad to find myself in a place to start trying more natural remedies.  However I think there’s a psychological impact of simply having taken the drugs.  I feel better. Period.  I doubt the SSRIs made me feel better in 8 weeks.  Maybe they did, but perhaps just the choice to have taken them, the asking for help and the actively starting to work on my problems is what’s making me feel better.  So sort of placebo effect as it were (with terrible side effects).  It hasn’t been easy, but I am glad to have the Klonopin and I am glad to know I have other options if I get to feeling where I am not doing as well as I’d hoped.

Relationships: Well, what can I say?  I feel confident that my inability to deal with things and see things for what they are (my anxiety and mental illness, basically) caused the demise of my relationship with Oak. I’m sticking by having made those choices in good faith while I was looking for safety and comfort.  I feel that at the time Hawthorm was genuinely offering what I thought I needed.  I did originally seek help not only for own sanity, but because tiny cracks had started to appear in my relationship with Hawthorn and I thought if I could get better I could save the relationship.  Clearly that didn’t matter since Hawthorn had the bad timing to accidentally coincide his break down with mine (or his precipitated mine, or something).  Despite their tragic ends, I think both relationships were good for me and I hope both were signs of a continuing trend toward someday having a strong healthy relationship or toward feeling free to not have one at all and still be happy.

Driving:  I don’t think I’ve talked about it a lot here, but I used to love driving.  Every instance of getting into the car, even to go to the store for milk was an act of freedom, was the possibility that I could just keep driving and go where ever I wanted in the world.  I loved the control of it, the power and that raw, open sense of possibility.  In the past two years I’ve had one car totaled while I was in it, been pulled out of another at gunpoint and forced to the ground, and stopped 18″ shy of dying in a really horrific accident that happened around me like a tornado but somehow left me unscathed.  Even taking an easy, low traffic surface street route to work was becoming cause for increasing panic attacks and incredible tension in my body.  I often wanted to cry when I got into and out of the car.  Recently I’ve noticed that my confidence is coming back while I drive and I feel much more comfortable and relaxed doing it.  I can even feel the sense of freedom and possibility starting to tickle at the back of my brain, like it’s getting ready to come back too.

Moving:  I think this is going to be huge for me.  It has sort of happened rather more quickly than I had planned, but so far it seems int he realm of doable.  Yes, getting my own space to heal and be in is good.  On the one had living with Hawthorn post break up hasn’t been a party but it hasn’t been as toxic as it could have been.  However, I HATED our house.  Of all the ones we looked at I wanted it the least.  Hawthorn chose it for the porch, the location and the architectural details.  I hated everything about it.  Nothing was functional, it was clearly remodeled for looks when it was flipped and not at all for functionality.  The landlord is a lazy jerk and repeated dealing with water POURING in from the ceiling, from light sockets, from door jambs and window sills has been severely anxiety inducing all on it’s own.  The interior colors actually make me angry in some rooms, the space just doesn’t feel psychically clean, either.  I was talking to a coworker (who as far as I know knows nothing about the Hawthorn situation) about moving to my new place today and how it seemed good even though I just moved six months ago.  And my coworker commented that she was so glad I was moving because she felt like I hadn’t been well since I moved into that house.  And it’s true, my allergies have been awful (as have Hawthorn’s), I can’t sleep for the noise the neighbors make, I fret about the ceiling falling on me, and besides the dust, age and other problems, I’m fairly sure the inside of the walls and airducts are crawling with mold.  So here’s hoping that the new place is just healthier all around.  It has a new roof–so no leaks, it has a brand new HVAC system and new ducts–no mold or dust, no past or future pets in the house at all to aggravate my already delicate allergies.  The only health concern really is that the new landlord has a pest service come once a month and I don’t know what kind of chemicals they use.  However since the trade off is no mice, no poisonous spiders and no roaches, I’m very willing to take it as a risk.

Body health: So far I am failing in this category. I’m giving myself a pass because there has been so much stuff going on (all my recovery efforts plus the unplanned break up and moving additions) that it’s been hard to add even more to it.  I have been walking more and doing a little yoga.  My future plans include much, much more exercise: walking, swimming and yoga and maybe hula-hooping?  I really need to make a physical therapy appointment and get going on that.  Just, you know, time and planning &c.  I am probably going to wait on the PT until moving is done.  I will get going on the exercise thing definitely (the community center and neighborhood gym is three block from my new place, no excuses).  I will try not to beat myself up on this and rather congratulate myself as I get going with it.  I know it will help so much to have less pain in my body.  I know it will help my mental health so much just to get the exercise.  I know it will help my outlook to look and feel better.  I could only just get so many duck in a row at once and I’m still herding these little wild running exercise and body health ducks.

I think once the chaos of moving dies down I am going to start working devoting a (certainly boring) paragraph of each of these entries to details sleep, exercise, panic attacks and the like, just so I’m keep better track of it and little more accountable for it.  Seems sensible, yeah?

Astrology:  While I give only limited value to astrology, and at that only as a descriptor not as a predictor, Free Will Astrology has always done wonders for me.  Even if it is just words that tell me how to frame my current thinking, it’s helpful.  This week for me we have: Taurus Horoscope for week of February 3, 2011 — I’ve found that even when people are successful in dealing with a long-term, intractable problem, they rarely zap it out of existence in one epic swoop. Generally they chip away at it, dismantling it little by little; they gradually break its hold with incremental bursts of unspectacular heroism. Judging from the astrological omens, though, I’d say that you Tauruses are ripe for a large surge of dismantling. An obstacle you’ve been hammering away at for months or even years may be primed to crumble dramatically. Yeah, I’m definitely feeling this!   Thanks, Rob Brezsny!  I will also continue to consult my father, who is an astrologer, about things like this Saturn transit of my Fourth House, as I’ve said, I feel like it gives me a framework to work in and understand things and I’m glad to have that.

Thank you, my dear friends, for all your out pourings of love in email over the weekend.  I will reply in time and in kind. You all make me feel more normal, happier and glad to have shared with you.  I had a rough bit of it this weekend.  Work sort of forced me out to be more social than I wanted. Hmm, no, I do want to be social, rather I was forced to face a lot of acquaintances and explain the situation with Hawthorn.  Which by itself is fine, I just find most people’s responses to be fairly intolerable.

Overall I feel well liked and people have been very sympathetic.  And I do appreciate that very much.  However so many people thoughtlessly say things that cause me to have to defend Hawthorn and his choices, which really is a position I don’t want to have to take right now.  And people thoughtlessly say things that unintentionally make me feel bad about myself or the choices I’ve made.  I know everyone means well, but saying things like, “He’s just a girl stealer, I knew from the beginning, I just didn’t want to tell you for fear of hurting your feelings,” doesn’t make me feel better.  It makes me think you think I was duped and that I’m an idiot and that I can’t tell the difference between someone scamming me and someone who genuinely likes me.  A lovely friend commented here about honoring choices that were made in good faith.  This is perfect wording.  I stand by my choice to move in with Hawthorn because I made it in good faith. And, despite everything, I think his initial choices were made in good faith as well.  He just wasn’t as ready for this as he thought he was.  But again, I’m still angry, so I don’t like being pushed into a rhetorical corner where I feel like I have to defend him.

And for the most part friends I saw were, if anything, overly cautious and gentle with my feelings, so I shouldn’t be complaining.  I do feel a little like I should print up a t-shirt or a card to hand to people to something.  I think it would say: Yes, we broke up.  No, I’m fine. Yes, it really is as amicable as these things can be.  Yes, I will need to find a new place to live.  No, I don’t want to stay in your guest room in the interim.  No, I don’t need anything right now.  Yes, I swear I’ll call you if I do.

This is the path I've been taking to get where ever it is that I'm going. I think in the future the Hawthorn situation will either be an oxbow lake or a short cut I couldn't have known I needed to take.

I did spend a good part of the weekend sorting, organizing and planning things. The terrifying and amazing part of all this is getting to completely rebuild my life.  I really don’t think I can stand to have roommate, despite my fears around being home alone.  I am confident right now that I can find a place I can afford on my own that I will feel safe in.  I fell asleep last night imagining a place that had only my pictures on the walls, that has only things in it that I want.  I will never be a minimalist, nor truly aspire to it, but I have working hard for a few years now on paring my life down to essentials (my essentials are probably grander and more numerous than some other people’s) and this gives me a chance to really think about it, since basically at this point I own my (vast) sewing set up, my bed, dresser, wardrobe, desk, some shelves, a few plates, a sauce pan and chef’s knife. Oh, and a coffee table.  So I will need to acquire many kitchen items and places to sit when I move.  But I have time to dream about how simple and lovely that could be when it’s all in my own space and only my things that I want to have.  I am definitely feel positive about this, even with the heavy stresses of finding a place and actually moving.  I the idea of a place free of anyone’s clutter but my own is rapidly becoming very appealing.

I started watching the new BBC Sherlock Holmes this weekend (with Hawthorn–we’ve been keeping up our routine of spending an evening or two a week having dinner and watching something together and I think that’s really helped keep things much more civil) and there’s a part in the beginning where Watson’s therapist tells him to work on his blog every day and record everything that happens to him as she assures him it will help.  Thank you, campy BBC TV show for validating me!  I laughed out loud!

I spent some time over the weekend reading about, meditating on and talking about medications.  I’m going to talk to my therapist today about having her, my mom, Hawthorn, a friend in town (and you all, of course) monitor me rather than taking the SSRIs.  I feel about 120% better since I started halving the dose on the Lexapro.  My current plan is 4 more days on the halved dose and then 4 days on a quarter dose and then no more.  I have worked out a weekly exercise plan with Violet and with Hawthorn and on my own at home (my bedroom is big enough to hula hoop in).  I understand the risk of dependency with the Klonopin, but really I don’t think I’m taking it to excess and man, oh man, it really does make me feel better.  So I’m hoping that exercise (which will include getting out to see people, at least Violet) and therapy and my developing positive outlook and the occasional Klonopin to stave off the panicky moments will be enough to get me through right now.  I will pay close attention to how I feel and hopefully with everyone else paying attention, if I really need psycotropic drugs someone will step in and help guide me back to that.  But right now I think it’s making me feel worse, definitely physically, I don’t know that the benefit of long term chemical changes that I don’t really understand are worth it to me right now.  As always I reserve the right to change my mind at any time and I could be wrong about this, but I’m really hoping that therapy of a variety of kinds and having something to look forward to (my own sanctuary) will get me through the immediate parts of this and hopefully send me out stronger and healthier on the other end.