Posts Tagged ‘fibro fog’

20 MAR 15

Cognitive Triangle

I had a dream last night. One that, at first, I labeled as “bad.” It, of course, had no beginning and a questionable end. At least that is what I had initially thought. I was in what seemed like a very cluttered room. Other times it was an apartment with an open floor plan. I may or may not have noticed him come in, but he was there now. The love of my life. The man of my literal dreams. I haven’t spoken to him in so long. It’s probably been about six months or more, but it feels like so much longer.

It did not seem as though we interacted with each other. He just rushed around the place unearthing items and collecting them together as though preparing for a deployment. I was used to this – we’ve been through at least two or three. Though I did not scream out to him, I was extremely upset. And much like a night of blackout drinking, my dreaming consciousness darts around the room to piles of stuff, to him walking out the door, to the clutterlessness that now surrounds me.

After I lose sight of him through the window just right of the door, I look around at the mess that was not left. I think, for just a moment, that my stuff is gone. When I go over to the bookshelf on the other side of the room, I see that my items upon it are neatly folded and tucked away, hidden from obvious view. The same was true for dresser drawers in other areas of the room. There was no mess where once there was more than I cared to deal with. From there, the scene degrades from my mind, but the unhappy and unsettled feeling takes longer to dissipate. In fact, with each breath, I can still feel a twinge of pain in my heart.

I woke with mixed feelings. It’s been years since I dreamt about him. It wasn’t long however, that I was onto thinking of other things. The melting images of the dream drifted in and out of my mind for hours. It wasn’t until later that evening, when I began to tell Jessica about the breakthrough I had in therapy the other day, as well as minor details from last night’s dream, that pieces started coming together in front of me.

***

This past Wednesday, as with most recent Wednesdays, I attended my CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) Self-Esteem Group through the VA Women’s Health Clinic. We discussed biased expectations and negative self-evaluations. We’ve been working with the Cognitive Triangle, whose corners represent thought, behavior and mood. Each of which can affect the other. When one of those three is negative you must catch, check and change it. Generally in my case, it is a thought that leads to the other two and therefore the “three c’s” are usually used for my negatives thoughts.

Before learning about the triangle, my negative thoughts would put me in a sour mood and lead to less than stellar behavior or vice versa. For example when my thoughts are consumed with insecurity and doubt, perhaps I may drink too much to try to forget these feelings and in doing so I wind up miserable and even more negative.

The three c’s come in when I realize I am having a negative thought and I catch it. Catching a negative thought is not always easy, but once I do, I try to check it, or as I believe that to mean, I identify it and evaluate why it is negative and what evidence I have that the thought I am having is true. With no evidence that my negative thoughts are valid, I can change it with a more positive outlook. In having more positive thoughts, I begin behaving in a more positive way and I will be left with a more positive mood.

The group went well that day. I feel like I am learning about myself and self-esteem in general more and more each appointment. Just after the group, I went to my appointment upstairs with my Social Worker who had referred me to the group in the first place. We talked about some of the positive moments of the group as well as changes in my behavior lately to help better myself. One of the things I mentioned was the way I have been dealing with my obsessive and inappropriate feelings towards potential mates. This behavior, of course, leads to a feeling of neediness, clinginess, self-consciousness, not being good enough, not being sexy enough and general inadequacy.

When she asked me how I was resolving those scenarios, I told her that I realized that the way I treat and feel about men that I am not interested in is very different from the way I treat men that I am sexually or mentally attracted to. That being said, I have no problem being friends with someone I am not attracted to and I analyzed the emotion with which I conduct those friendships. In using the same mindset that I do with those friends, when projected onto someone I may be attracted to, it brings a certain perspective that I would have otherwise missed. Instead of allowing my hormones and emotions to escalate out of control, I treat the person with the asexuality that the meeting warrants. I only just met someone, and even if that person is attracted to me, it matters not – we just met and I cannot build a relationship out of the fantasies in my head. With such an approach I am able to accurately and appropriately have a realistic frame of mind about the person and treat them just as I “normally” would treat anyone else in that scenario.

It was while I was explaining this to my Social Worker that I realized I was having a breakthrough. If I do not jump to conclusions with people, or I do not think instantly that they are a good mate for me, and if I stop trying to impress every single man I meet, I will not have feelings of inadequacy because my validation will no longer be a result of their reactions to me. I will have impressed myself with my control and I will feel better because I made me feel better; my heart-felt emotions will not be hinging on the words, thoughts, feelings and actions of another. If this theory is in fact true, then I can rest assured that in not seeking validation from others, that I will no longer experience the depression that comes from personal rejection as I will not be seeking any approval. Instead, I will feel better about myself, do activities that please me, and work toward getting my own approval. If I am not happy, I will make corrections to rectify the problem, but my happiness or lack thereof shall no longer rely upon outside forces.

When I shared with a close friend about this whole epiphany thing, I also brought up the dream I had about that certain someone (which occurred days after my therapy sessions). I told her of how he came into my cluttered living space, a space that I felt during the dream had been “ours,” and how he seemed to gather things and leave without a word. I told her that when I lost sight of him I looked around the room and there was no longer a cluttered mess or items and personal effects, rather a tidy room with neatly packed drawers and nicely stacked shelving units. I was about to tell her that somehow I knew that everything that had been left in the room was in fact mine and that nothing remained of his.

As those words came out, I felt yet another rush of inspiration, an epiphany if you will, that my dream had legitimate significance and was not random or upsetting as I had originally thought. For the first time, perhaps ever, my dream spoke to me. It represented the fact that he was no longer a part of my life and that without him, I was not only able to survive, but able to thrive as was evident by the immaculate condition of my living space after he left. It may have been inferring that while he was a part of my life, I allowed myself to be so caught up in his world that I disregarded the health and safety of my own. With the simple act of coming in, getting his stuff and leaving I was left with myself, and my belongings in a better condition than I have ever been in to my memory.

It is with these thoughts that I can feel what great strides I am making for myself. I feel like I am on the cusp of greatness for myself. I relish in the idea and the feelings that I am almost there.

UPDATE: Just A few nights ago I had another dream about him. I was having a gathering of some sort – not really sure what kind. And even though we don’t speak anymore, he was there. The only detail, was but a moment, that I remember was that of hugging him and knowing that I was hugging him goodbye.

Option Paralysis 2 I am swimming in to-do lists and quite sure I’m on the verge of drowning due to option paralysis. I had always thought my best friend coined that phrase, but alas I was able to find it in Urban Dictionary.  It has always been such a great way to describe how I often feel; when faced with so many choices/options I get overwhelmed and in not knowing where to start – I just don’t.

Apparently I am not alone, as many people feel overwhelmed and inundated with “options” these days. I’m sure the ebb and flow of technology and all that can be achieved at a moment’s notice on the interwebs has aided in this phenomenon. Robert M Brecht, Ph.D. writes that “psychological research over the last forty or so years has established the correlation between providing choice and increases in intrinsic motivation, perceived control, task performance and satisfaction with life. […] There comes a point when the choices available to us become counterproductive.” More of his conclusions can be found in his blog post “Consumer Marketing: We All Want Choices… or Do We?” Another blogger, M. Farbman, had this trouble in youth when going to Baskin-Robbins – 31 Flavors – the perfect analogy in the blog “Option Paralysis.” Although it must be harder now, as my last count put them somewhere over 57 flavors.

My most pressing issue: I’ve recently been served – no, not by a crowd of dancing teenagers – rather, with an eviction notice (again?!?! That’s another story). This is due to my recent working cessation while dealing with severe anxiety and depression, sprinkled with this awesome nervous system disorder of Fibromyalgia. I have been trying to figure out what I’m going to do with the upcoming homeless horizon that I am staring at like a sun, burning holes into my retinas. I had hoped that I could get assistance from New Directions, an amazing organization whose mission “is to empower veterans and facilitate their successful return to families and society.” They helped me get into the apartment I am in now when I had accepted a local job; now not working, I am in more need than ever. Unfortunately, due to funding constraints they are no longer able to assist me.

I am seeking help from several other organizations, but I have a feeling I will still need to leave the apartment I am in for different accommodations. I am finding that a room, or even a shelter is going to be difficult as I have my companion dog who has been with me for three years and is not able to be with me at most of the options I have; I cannot give her up as she is the only family I have locally and she relies on me as much as I do on her. Perhaps I will be lucky enough to find accomodations that are better for her, with a yard she can run in and not be so confined.

Logic surfaces from time to time, through the Fibro Fog and Anxiety (a steel wool-like cloud that ceases most logic, clarity and cognitive thought), and I realize whatever my next place of residence is, I will have to pack up what remains from my last move and put it in storage. It will be much easier to go from place to place in search of the right one with just my dog, my car, a duffle of clothes, and an air mattress. Easier said than done, however, as money, a truck and movers are required to facilitate this… oh – and a storage unit. I look around my apartment and shudder to think about packing …again. It’s so time consuming and energy sapping, but it has to happen. There’s laundry to do, dishes to wash, clothes to weed through to lighten the load followed by the subsequent donation to Good Will. When I get overwhelmed I sit on the couch and watch TV; God help me if there’s a marathon on, whether it be Law and Order, The Matrix, the Alien Quadrilogy, Family Feud… enough is enough. BACK TO WORK!!! My body hurts, my mind hurts, my heart is uncertain and the World feels like it’s closing in around me – but I must do SOMETHING.

I’ve never given myself a solid routine to maintain my own life – even a simple routine for when I wake-up or go to bed. Those little things seem so easy …and yet go undone. My mind freezes and my body follows suit until some day or hour or minute finally comes when I know that there is no other way but to act. It’s that last minute action that has always saved me, but it would be so much healthier, I am sure, if I could just learn to get my shit together on a regular basis. My success at last minute projects has done nothing but give me negative reinforcement of my bad habits. I hope and hope that I can start giving myself structure but something always gets in the way, the flow of my day-to-day always changes, I think I get ahead and an unexpected expense happens, things are swell and then I have a nervous breakdown. For the love of Pete – it’s always something – my life in retrospect seems so chaotic. Is it because I am better suited to a structured life, a life with fewer options, less choices? The military was perfect for me – but that, of course, is no more I am sad to say and I must live with that – or not, I suppose.

I know I’m not the only one going through these experiences, but more often than not – I feel that I am.

OstrichSyndrome I keep hoping (even thinking) that I am feeling better as the days and weeks pass. However, I tend to sink back into a very dull and dismal thought process that I am extremely uncomfortable with and I fall into what I have categorized as “Ostrich Syndrome.” I find it akin to, but rather separate from, “Fibro Fog” that is generally associated with Fibromyalgia.

Now, by no means did I coin this phrase, but I did Google it to ensure that I’m not just insane. The 31,600 results that followed assured me that this ideology exists, although mainly used to characterize business management and how this “Syndrome” pertains to the inner workings (or lack thereof) of a business plan or organization, or political denial. Or so I have gleaned from perusing some of the said Google results. (On a sidenote: it’s also the name of a band with a track called Prince of Babylon produced by One Million Heist, “a non-profit independent netlabel, with various genres and artists with one goal, to be heard.” Some very interesting tracks are found on Sound Cloud).

Urban Dictionary has the first result and closest description of Ostrich Syndrome as it pertains to myself and how I feel when I just want to close the shudders (as though anyone has shudders anymore), not answer my phone, eat snacks instead of meals, and couch potato it all day – which may include an afternoon nap while I wait for night to come just so I can go back to sleep. Ineteresting enough – no anxiety that I can tell. I know I have responsibilities, I know I have bills to pay, I know that there are things to do that really shouldn’t be put off until tomorrow – I just can’t seem to make myself give a damn. Hell, I was supposed to hang out with a friend today who is off from work (whom I’ve been hounding to hang out with me). I was also supposed to go to a performance tonight that two of my other friends are in only once a month. I just couldn’t pull my head out of my ass to do these things – because I’m busy hiding – hoping that hiding will make my problems go away. Newsflash: it won’t.

I would like to give a shout out to a fellow Word Press blogger, Jackson Quigg Associates, who gave me even more insight into Ostrich Syndrome and a term I was previously unfamiliar with: Permissibility. The blog states that it “occurs when someone allows something to continue to happen, even when they’re in a position to stop it or have a significant impact upon it.” I am allowing this to happen. I am my own enabler.

“First step is realizing you have a problem” so they say. Great. I am aware that I am this way. Now what do I do about it, especially when I allow it to happen and don’t give a rat’s ass? I’m stumped. How does a broken one fix themself? That’s worse than “the blind leading the blind.” And is this something that I can fix? Is it a part of my diagnosed Depression, Anxiety and/or Fibromyalgia? Or did I get blessed with other shortcomings as well? Only time can tell.

Have you felt this way before? How long did it last? Any suggestions?