Tag Archive: Counseling


Hello friends and readers. Please excuse my absence as of late. You see, after being in the hospital for monitoring, things became quite crazy.

I started treatment, including meds, at a new facility. After two weeks I was switched from Lexapro to Celexa, as it is available on the $4 list at Walmart. I have since been re-evaluated by my psychiatrist and started therapy last week.

Summer is upon us and year-round school is starting tomorrow. My classes begin on August 16th. In the mean time I am working through therapy homework, catching up with my blog, and working on my writing.

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I had a psychiatric evaluation in 2008 which diagnosed me with major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, and post traumatic stress disorder. Okay, I accepted the diagnosis, even if I didn’t feel it was all that severe.

Yesterday I met with a second psychiatrist as part of my follow up after being discharged. She confirmed the primary evaluation and prescribed me an antidepressant (Lexapro) to help with the depression and anxiety. I took my first pill yesterday and have felt nauseous since then. I do not know for sure if this is a side effect of the medication, or a delayed reaction to the tylenol pms I took Sunday night. I am hoping it is the Lexapro, and that it will work itself out in the next two weeks. I did put a call into the psychiatrist to make sure that this was anticipated and not something I needed to be seen for.

The official Lexapro website lists the side affects of the drug:

In clinical trials, the most common side effects associated with Lexapro treatment in adults were nausea, insomnia (difficulty sleeping), ejaculation disorder (primarily ejaculation delay), fatigue and drowsiness, increased sweating, decreased libido, and anorgasmia (difficulty achieving orgasm). Side effects in pediatric patients were generally similar to those seen in adults; however, the following additional side effects were commonly reported in pediatric patients: back pain, urinary tract infection, vomiting, and nasal congestion.

These are not all the possible side effects with Lexapro. Please see the Important Risk Information, including boxed warning at the bottom of this page, and the full Prescribing Information.

After meeting with the psychiatrist yesterday, I have better understanding of my mental health issues and feel confident that this new treatment plan will work much better. She made it  clear to me that I cannot work through therapy without being stable and to be stable I need medication. “It’s not an option for you” she said, “some of my patients can choose medication or choose not to take it, but you MUST take it.” So, I’m now officially “medicated” and hoping that this will be effective. I don’t want to be another one of those patients who has to try a dozen different drugs before finding one that works for me. I hate taking pills as it is and am hoping I can remember them.

Because my current counseling office does not provide psychiatric services at a reduced rate, I will be meeting with my therapist to have a closure session and process my transfer of services paperwork. Following that I will have intake processing at the new treatment facility and meet with my psychiatrist, who I met yesterday, for my first counseling session.

My new counselor, Dr. H., is a childhood psychiatrist who generally refers anyone over 18 to one of the male psychiatrists in her office, but because of my history of childhood trauma, she feels that she can help me. If at any point we come to an impasse on her ability to help me, then she will refer me to one of the male psychiatrists in the office who work with adult patients. For now, I feel confident that we are going in the right direction. This way, I can receive my medication and my counseling services at the same place and not have to worry about the demands of transferring charts and updating therapists and such. It will be easier to have all the communication done in the same office and the same agency.

So just wanted to provide an update for those who are following my blog. As always, best wishes on your journey to healing- ss.

I spent the better part of the afternoon in the psychiatric section of the trauma unit. Fun, huh? Not exactly!

It’s a long story and I don’t really feel able to share the details right now. But if you could, hold out some good thoughts for me. I have a meeting in the morning to follow up and hopefully get some medication to overcome this darkness.

One of the things I am doing to help with my awareness of my mental state is to keep a mood chart. It tracks my highest and lowest moods, anxiety and irritability levels, medications, sleeping patterns, and level of functioning throughout the month. Since starting this chart on June 1, 2010, I have already noticed that my depressive state is much more dysfunctional than my heightened state. What I mean by this is that when I am in an elevated mood, I typically do not experience non-functioning days. I am able and zealous about taking care of my home, self, and family, almost to the point of being overbearing and over critical. I am certainly productive and even run myself ragged in those elevated moments.

In contrast, my depressive state leaves me functionless. I find it difficult to shower, take care of my house, tend to my children, and be a good wife to my spouse. I struggle with daily tasks that are seemingly insignificant on  good days but feel insurmountable on bad ones. For example, taking a shower becomes a dreaded chore, and playing with my children exhausts any energy I might have left over from the last time I was in an elevated state. It is as if any movement depletes me of vital life energy on those dark days. I struggle with feeling numb, and yet crying for no apparent reason. I stare at blank computer monitors and tv screens and see nothing but a blurred box. I become a shell, not a life. Depression looms over me like a thick grey cloud threatening rain.

So if the depression renders me useless, how do I find my way out of it? This is one of the things I want to discuss with my therapist at our next session. I know there are things I can do to help myself not feel so depressed, but they all seem to just be distractions and not a real “cure” for getting out of a depressive state. I journal; I write here. I force myself out of the house with my children. I call friends. I make myself do things that bring me joy most of the time in hopes they will stimulate less threatening emotions. I tickle my children because their laughter is contagious. I draw; I scream, I cut. I don’t know if any of this really helps. It does for the moment, but not for the long term.

Perhaps life is about the moment. Taking each moment and overcoming it, enjoying it. Perhaps if I can string together a dozen successful ways to overcome depression and do them all back to back I will steal an hour of joy from my sorrow. It’s just a thought. For this moment, it is all I have. Best wishes on your healing journey. ~ss

Well hello WP friends and viewers!

Been gone a while.First I didn’t have internet connection, then things in my world were a whirlwind. Now, I’m trying to get back in the groove. You can consider this an “all things shattering update.”

Therapy- It’s going about as well as can be expected. I’ve had two therapy sessions, and I’m feeling slightly more comfortable with my therapist. The bulk of our meetings thus far has been about my current situation in my marriage. It has been difficult to face the reality: I am in an abusive marriage. But, at the same time, realizing it means that I can a) bring it to my spouse’s attention so it can, hopefully, be handled and our marriage can be made stronger b) not hide inside myself and accept the abusive behaviors any longer.

Next week in therapy we are supposed to talk about medication and my psychiatric evaluation from two years ago. It will be nice to have a break from discussing my marriage, and give me a little down time in trying to deal with all of this. At least, that’s what I’m hoping. 😉

Self-Injury- I made it sixteen days without cutting. Then I fell. It was really bad. I don’t usually cut so deep. But I couldn’t seem to get the red to stop flowing. It took lots of constant pressure. It still is not healed, but is getting a little better.

I am battling this compulsion with everything I have. Last night I wanted to cut so badly, felt so triggered. I did just a small one, and then forced myself not to do it more than that. Instead I called a friend. It didn’t really help me not think about cutting, but it kept me occupied in some capacity, enough to not cut. I took some Tylenol pm and laid down on the living room floor. I fell asleep there.

Sleep & Nightmares- I’m not sleeping well at all. The last few nights, excluding last night, I have only managed 2-3 hours of sleep each night. Last night I passed out on the living room floor and slept 8 hours. That would have been great, except that even when I do fall asleep I’ve been waking screaming and crying from a bad dream.

The dreams are awful. Many of them are about the self-injury going too far. A few have been about my abuse as a child. It’s hard to know what is real and what isn’t. Most of the time the dream is scary or tragically sad. I wake up feeling on edge, my heart pounding in my chest. Often my spouse has woken up from the crying, screaming, etc.

Binging & Restricting- My eating is out of control. Last night I ate a whole jar of pickles- gag. If that wasn’t bad enough, I prefaced it with a bowl of ice cream. Just two hours earlier I had eaten chick-fil-a for dinner. Its so bad. I wanted to get so sick last night but just couldn’t do it. Too many people around. Restricting would be so much better.

Depression- I’m still really depressed and some days I cannot function. I struggle to get dressed and take care of myself. It’s so difficult. I’m trying every day to get up and shower and do at least one chore around the house. But still it’s not enough to pull me out of this funk. I try to take my children places and do things with them, and for those moments I am okay, but once we are home the cloud of darkness overshadows me again.

Well, I think I’ve written enough on all that’s going on with me. Just wanted to catch anyone up who might be reading and wondering. I wish you all well on your journey towards healing. ~ss

The office was quiet, but comfortable. A couch, two chairs, a desk in the far corner. Natural sunlight streaming through the window overlooking the trees. Peaceful. It was the sort of couch that people could lay on and drift off into uncharted territory. I could see myself there, one day. Instead I chose the chair furthest from the door, to keep myself from running. She sat in the chair on the opposite side of the couch and smiled, pen and paper in hand. And so it began….

An hour of my life, gone. And yet, redeemed. An hour of talking and listening, of sharing and being shared with. An hour on the road to recovery. Perhaps, the most peaceful hour of my day. I left feeling lighter, maybe almost hopeful that things could change.

Then something unexpected happened. Something for which I have no understanding. As the rain poured down outside our little suburbia style home, I felt a compulsion to run out into it. I took the hand of my five year old and pulled her out into the driveway, ignoring the neighbors. Actually, I’m not even sure I saw them at all, until after the fact, as we were heading back into the house. It felt cool on my face, it pelted against my bare arms and soaked into my dry skin. We raised our hands heavenward and enjoyed the fresh water as it flowed over us. I swung her into the air around and around until I felt dizzy with life.

It wasn’t the rain that made me feel so intoxicated, it was the rush of life through my body. I felt alive… and as I stepped back into my house and sopped the water from my hair, I felt thankful for that life. For the first time in a long time, I had lived in a moment, and it felt good.

Well, I did it. I went. I think it went okay. It wasn’t overly emotional, but there were a few tears.

I handed her 8 pages of my journal- my admitting stuff about my marriage, nothing graphic- nothing detailed, but just general admittances. I feel abused, I feel used, whatever…

She wants me to keep journaling. She asked me to abstain from alcohol and self injury, but told me to call if I had a really hard day.

We touched on lots of subjects- the different kinds of abuse I went through, the time periods, my seizures, my previous counseling, my marriage, etc.

She answered all my questions and I feel comfortable enough to meet her again next week and have given her those pages from my journal.

I don’t really feel anything right now… It’s the numbness taking over again, but I feel like in a few days I might be able to listen to what I shared. Right now. I’m just glad to have one appointment behind me and another one scheduled.

I did feel very very anxious the whole time, but she was gentle and made sure I was “okay” before I left the office.

No Major Tests Yet- Triggers!

Okay, so it occurred to me late last night as I was crawling in to bed that since Sunday, I have not faced any major tests yet. I have not been overly triggered by my spouse, my children, or any outside circumstances in a few days. But what happens when later tonight I’m feeling anxious about my first counseling session tomorrow? What happens when my spouse says something that makes me feel out of control? Or when I meet my counselor and something triggers me? Then what?

That’s when the hard part comes in. That’s when it’s going to take everything inside of me not to resort to previous ways of coping. That’s when I am going to have to lean on my support system, which still isn’t all that established. It’s NOT going to be easy in those moments. I know they are coming. I am preparing for them, like one might prepare for war, or famine, or a job loss.

How will I cope in those moments? Will I shout, scream, pull my hair? Will I cry as the blade finds familiar paths? Will I sit in a tub of bubbles and watch the candle flame dance as it sears my skin? What will I do? Those are the moments that will show whether I really am ready to move forward. Those are the moments that will either push me one step forward or many steps back. Those moments define my willingness to change. Those moments highlight my strengths and weaknesses.

So, I need a plan, a way to combat the thoughts in my own head. First, I will call someone and talk. Maybe I will write in my journal or draw on my skin. Maybe I will color with my children or listen to some loud bleeding-ear music. Perhaps I will go for a walk or make soap. The point is that I will need to do SOMETHING, something other than injuring myself. Something positive. Something that will bring me hope instead of shame.

This road is not an easy one to walk, and I’m not going to pretend it is. But it will be worth it in the end, to keep on pushing forward towards hope, towards a better life. For me, and for my children, this makes it worth the hardship and pain of healing.

As always, I wish you health and comfort on your own journey towards healing and wholeness. ~SS

Well, it’s Saturday morning. I made it one day without self-injury this week. But that’s better than not making it any days at all. The episodes are decreasing in intensity, so perhaps soon they will dissipate all together and go into a dormant state.

This coming Wednesday I have my first counseling session. I will fill out some paperwork, discuss payments, and meet with my prospective counselor. In light of this, and the forseen anxiety associated with such a meeting, I am trying to prepare myself.

One of the ways I am working to prepare is by writing out questions I want to ask the prospective counselor. I have typed my list below. Feel free to add questions, in the comments section, that you would ask a prospective counselor.

1) Do you have experience working with child abuse survivors? How much?

2) What made you want to become a counselor?

3) How much experience do you have working with patients who struggle with depression, anxiety, PTSD, self-injury, and disordered eating?

4) What role do you believe medication plays in the healing process?

Another way I am preparing is by thinking about my own life, and jotting down a short list of things I might be comfortable talking about during our first session. This way, if I do feel relatively safe, I will have a few ideas for “testing the waters” so to speak.

I would love to hear other suggestions of what you would do to aid getting to know the counselor and acclimating yourself to someone who could possibly help you work through your own struggles.

To all those who read, I would love to know you are reading. Even if you just comment saying “I’m here,” it would grealty help me not feel so alone and vulnerable in this big cyber world. Thank you.

~SS

A Starting Point

Well, looks like all my reaching out did me some good. I have an appointment with a LPC next Wednesday May 19, 2010 at 10am. I do not know what to expect at a first session, and would be glad to hear what to expect and what to bring. What were your first time experiences with counselors? Leave in comment section or email me. ~ss