Friday, September 2, 2011

Focus on The Moment: Thank You For Letting Me Share

Have you ever caught yourself smiling? Here I was reading a Wikipedia article about "tribadism among female bonobos" instead of writing my book proposal, (once you take Physical Anthropology you can never go back) when I noticed I had a huge smile on my face. So of course I hopped on here and had to blog about it.

When I first noticed the smile on my face, I stopped and focused on the moment, something I learned through a combination of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, the teachings of The Dalai Lama, stories my mom told me about Jesus when I was a kid, John Lennon's music, and watching my five year old daughter exist.

As I focused on the moment, I realized how calm I felt. How relaxed. How satiated.

In January my brother died of liver failure. Before he died, I was helping to care for him. I've had a long history of mental illness, undiagnosed at age four and first diagnosed at age eleven when I had anorexia nervosa. Anyhoo, my brother's terminal condition would have been difficult for anyone to handle. How do you watch someone you love who is in pain spend four months dying? So for me, with my sensitive nature (if you ask non-psychobabblers) and my Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (if you ask psychobabblers), it was as if I'd run out of whatever hormone it is that kicks in when you're under stress. I was out of gas.

So I went to the doctor and she gave me pills, of course, but she also told me to go back into therapy, cut back on work, and spend more time doing things I enjoy. It was like I was getting permission from God to enjoy life. "Here you go, my child. It is a gift from me. Appreciate it." It was like my mother saying, "I don't care what you do for a living. I just want you to be happy," when I dropped out of college. It was like having my head in my husband's lap and his telling me "We're in this together."

So I took the pills and began unwinding. The first layer I peeled off was work: I cut back from forty to twenty-four hours at work. Next came therapy, an actual program of once weekly individual and group therapy sessions at a mental health center. That lead to my writing a novel based on my experiences and history of mental health treatment and how ultimately sharing my story with others has helped me heal more than anything. So then came this blog.

So thank you for letting me share it with you. You are helping me heal.