Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What a day!

Today has been laughably bad.  it really is amusing.  i woke up and we were out of prozac..no biggie but unusual.  then around noon, i get a letter from the portugese government regarding a parcel i have been expecting telling me that it's being held in Lisbon and they're requiring some documents from me and the sender (it's a Christmas present for crying out loud!).  so i went and spoke with our lawyer and she says, 'don't worry but it's best if i go deal with this myself'.  ok!  :S  THEN i went and picked up a special something that I have been searching for and waiting for exactly that to be ready to arrive on time for Christmas in Canada and stupid me forgot it in a change room in Mango and 30mins later when I went back for it...it was gone.  joke's on the theif though for reasons i can't write here for it would ruin a very special surprise if someone specific is reading.

this was all followed by and intense session with Peggy where a lot of my reality hit home again...things i want from people but can't have...missing comfort i never actually experienced.  as i sat sobbing in the car on my way home all i could say was, 'i want my mom'.  what i really wanted was affection and gentle words from someone who's not paid to give it to me.  i lean on the people here so heavily and the hope is for me to be able to trust people again and feel worthy of love and practice receiving it and being unconditionally accepted...but who matters at the end of the day are the people in my life that don't make a living off my treatment.  i just doubt people so much...but the counter thought to this is that i was genuine in my nursing all the time.  LPNs are not paid well, the hours are long and the work physically and emotionally draining.  but i loved my job.  i loved my patients and i was real with them.  i chose to continue in that line of work despite shift work and exhaustion and i never went to work on a day where i couldn't give 110% of myself.  but that is an expectation i have of myself, not of anyone else.  I guess, even if i don't expect it from others i can try to accept that they feel as passionate about their work and thus, me, as i did about my patients.

i went to Swan Lake last night put on by the Russian ballet.  it was amazing.  it was an interesting experience too as during the first half i found my mind racing a mile a minute about everything and i was getting way overstimulated by my experience both privately and externally.  i was able to talk about this at the intermission and the second act i was able to fully engage in the ballet and the music and the story...and it was really really enjoyable.  there are more ballets coming to Portimao in the new year which i am looking forward to attending also.

tomorrow starts official Portugese lessons.  I'm looking forward to finally learning, better, the language of the country I am in.  it's quite funny...the other day i tried and tried to count in French - something that has been second nature for my whole life - and i found myself confusing French and Portugese.  The Canadian I was with helped me out..she's not working too hard on learning Portugese...and I was able to get my count on again.  :)  funny how the mind works.  Knowing even a touch of French is helping with picking up the Portugese (of which I can understand a significant amount and can eavesdrop hehe), there are many German and Latin roots that I can identify too.  It's not a terribly difficult language so far but I am FAR from technical about it.

Nearly winding up November already...I'm SO ready to say Tchau to 2011 in one short month and I even have my party dress to ring in the New Year!


Sunday, November 27, 2011

As predicted...

My mood has crashed.  They say it's expected and 'normal' for where I'm at in the program but it really leads to excessive feelings of hopelessness.  It's actually fairly debilitating.  I know, I know...'don't engage in depression'...and I haven't up until now.  I fight it.  I get out of bed when every muscle in my body aches and my mind so bleak that the darkness and warmth of being under the blankets is all I want.  I recognize that we are having beautiful days and get out for at least a few hours each day and feel the sun on my skin.  Today I watched the sunset and listened to the waves crashing near the shore of my favorite beach (Praia do Vau).

I know that getting through these days will make me, again, appreciate the reprieve that will eventually come.

The worst part of feeling like this is the irritability that comes along with it and the complete inability to talk.  I'm told over and over to keep talking.  To put my thoughts out there and have someone help me objectify them and turn them to positive but something stops me - ties my tongue and mutes me - and I feel like I've gotten no where.  Retreating into my familiar shell of silence and pleasantries (although that is also a challenge) gives me the familiar negative comfort I have known for so long.

The theory here, is that my rational mind has developed normally and at times, seems beyond my chronological age.  My emotional mind, scientifically proven to be the mind that actually sustains people and can short circuit the rational at any time (as evidence by my major relapse into anorexia 5-6 years ago..my emotional mind finally said no and my rational could not sustain my day to day life). 

So within this, the emotional mind that I have developed is one of negativity.  It has been learned ad confirmed from a very young age (say, 2-3.5 years old before I was able to self-regulate, soothe, etc).  The main point of this program is to address this negativity and change it to positive.  This is achieved largely by repitition and practice.  Expressing the negative, exposing it, and learnig a new language of positivity.  This is such a simple explanaition of what I am practicing here...but the reason I'm even explaining this is...sometimes I am TIRED and I just don't want to fight it anymore.  In these darker days I wonder, what would be so bad about keeping this current way of thinking if I maintain change with my behaviors?  I really have come quite far with my thinking...I know it could get better but maybe I don't want it badly enough (that's what they would tell me in any other program if I had so many days of apathy), maybe I'm just too lazy, maybe I'm so terrified of actually not being able to change my thinking that I'd rather give up now and accept that I can be 'okay enough'...  I'm not sure.

I know I could be okay if I left now.  God...tomorrow's 5 months here and I have done a lot of work and put in a lot of effort.  But they say it can get even better than this.  That I don't have to be 'okay' but that I can be WELL.  I'm not convinced I have the patience to wait for that.  I just want my life back.  I want to work and have friends and hobbies and I think I could now.  It would be a struggle but I'm okay with struggling!  I don't need life or anything else to be easy - I wouldn't want it to be!

Like I have said before, the better days are not often worth these days.

All I can do today is make it though and look to tomorrow...or next week...or 17 days from now when my family arrives...and wait for the day when I can be gentler on myself, when the voice in my head is a little quieter and I am again able and allowed to smile, when the beauty of the sunset permeates my mind and soul and I find peace again. 

I know it will come and with that I know I have changed because right there, is hope.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Wham Bam

Obrigada Senhora!  hmm..doesn't have the same ring as 'thank you ma'am' does, eh?  at any rate, with a wham bam my Christmas shopping has dearly been completed in one day.  It was a great day.  I've been stalking many stores looking at their products for weeks as I prepare to pick what I beleive to be as thoughtful gifts as I can.  I mean, presents are presents...they are just material things and I have little time for receiving gifts as I really don't NEED anything more than I have (in fact, I need a lot less than I have!) but yet, I do love to shop for others.  :)  I have a very short Christmas list this year.  Shopping, wrapping, etc. is such a pleasure for me.

In other news, I feel my mood slipping.  I'm digging my fingers and heels in to hold onto every bit of positivity I have.  The darkness looms but I will fight it from overwhelming me.  If it does, I will make it through, get up when it passes and try again but oh!  some days the pain does not seem worth the mild better feeling of the gentler days.

I have had many meal plan changes in the past couple of days and more to come over the next week.  I have put myself in Peggy's hands completely and have given up any control I was trying to maintain regarding food.  It is scary still for my sick mind but the real me is cautiously excited for the variety and challenges.

The dogs we have been expecting here at the villa arrived today.  What a highlight!  They are just delightful so far and I look forward to my adventures with them.  They are rescued dogs that began their own journies of healing at a farm west of Alvor.  Keana is quite the timid little girl, while her partner in crime - Fada - is a much more rambunctious character.

Another week draws to an end and next week finds us in December already...where has 2011 gone?  How I look forward to 2012!!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Here I am

So, five months into this I finally have started a blog.  It's such a simple solution to keeping anyone who's interested in the loop regarding my journey on the road to wellness.

I will not review in any detail, the first four months as that is old and relatively well reported news.  This ends the monthly updates on Facebook as I'm not actually sure who's interested and who isn't so now you have the link to here which will likely become a much more intimate account of my walk towards the light and full recovery from anorexia and bulimia.

I suppose I shall begin with what would have been the five month update.

You may recall that I spoke of the fourth month as the most difficult...well, it only got harder.  My mood continued on a rapid decline and my anxiety reached new peaks.  Without haste, we came to the decision to use medication again for the interim to help ease the symptoms and enable me to better engage in the program as that ability was being hindered greatly.  Initially I felt I was eating my words by accepting pharmacological assistance again after being SO proud of myself for coming off of all my drugs but I see it in a different light now...it is not at all a weakness in me but a temporary necessity.  Medication has it's role and I am confident in my ability to use it appropriately.  The most important thing is that I know now, what it is like to feel (be that in extremes, it was real) and I don't ever want to lose that.  I don't want to numb out and be oblivious to the world as I needed to be previously, this time, medication is going to facilitate me working on the real things by helping me stay a little more grounded.  There will be a time in the not so distant future that I will again attempt to leave pharmaceuticals behind.

In other news...I had my gall bladder out.   It was my first time being the patient with 'Abdo pain NYD'!  I was subsequently treated for constipation and reflux (Really.  They doubted that I knew what those felt like...hmm) and sent home only to return a 3rd time to emergency and following an abdominal ultrasound, was appropriately booked for a cholecystectomy.  Surgery went smoothly - it was my first! - and recovery was fast.  I discovered that I have no problem taking Demerol and that it really does work!  It has definitely given me a better understanding of post-op discomfort and it's treatment.

That was my biggest event this month.  The rest of my time has been spent fighting a strong desire to remain in bed and/or trying to catch my breath when the walls seem to be closing in on me.  Each day, any moment for that matter, in which I find a bit of peace I am so grateful for and just bask in it.

I am consistently discovering what I took for granted when I was in Canada.  Espeically as the Christmas season approaches, I miss the progression of the snow down the mountains throughout Autumn; waking up snowed in; leafless trees; not being able to find a decent pub to have a drink at because there's bloody hockey games playing everywhere; making snow angels; the absolute silence of a snowy street in the middle of the night; the night sky with stars one can't even begin to count (I swear there are fewer stars here!); the smell of wet wool and hanging said sweaters/mitts/scarves near the wood stove to dry; venti Starbucks hot beverages and walks in the crisp air...I'll stop, but please take a moment and be present in these moments.  Everyday I think to myself how true it is that we don't know what we've got til it's gone.

Those things are not gone from me but I miss them.  I am appreciating the different scene I am living right now.  I am minutes from the beach and the waves at this time of year are remarkable (here is a link to the video of Garrett McNamara successfully surfing the biggest wave ever - 30m - off the more northern coast of Portugal just recently http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ip1agvUFbSk&feature=related )
The sunsets are also amazing with the sky illuminating with yellows, oranges and reds so vivid (yes, vivid and bright).  The rains are beautiful, often coming town in torrents leaving the earth refreshed and the air so humid and creating amazing rainbows (single rainbows thus far) pure accross the sky.  The storm clouds are blacker than I have ever seen and the thunder and lightening storms amazing.  I am also enjoying being out in the afternoon in a long sleeve tshirt with no sweater and requiring sunglasses for many hours on most days.

It is not bad here at all, just different.  I miss 'home' but I am not allowing it to impede my experience of here.

I am looking very much forward to Decemeber.  My family arrives mid month and although this isn't entirely the 'destination Christmas' that we have spoken of for many years, it is 'a' destination Christmas and it will be much more enjoyable than the last...many.

This is all for now.  Much love and keep an eye out here if you're interested in further updates.  Each day comes complete with its peaks and valleys and I am welcoming you to join me in the journey.

much love....or as I recently heard...Much Metta.