Over-thinking Art Therapy

So we’ve been working on my anger issues in therapy and last week my T had me do this Crayon drawing, because I couldn’t talk.  I tried to talk but nothing would come out. It was really frustrating and so my T brought out the Crayons.  I sat looking at this box trying to figure out which color I wanted to use. Too IMG_0175many choices, plus I felt like I was being judge by which color I did choose.  I’m sitting there and going through my head is if I pick reds then T will think I’m angry or violent, if I pick blues T will think I’m icy/cold – unfeeling, if I pick yellow I’m trying to be something I’m not cheerful. After going through every color this way in my head and still not being able to pick a color, what do I do? I pulled out the black because it is what I always go for and that is what this whole exercise has made me feel – no matter what I pick it is all doom, gloom and darkness .

I have a crayon, now what? What am I suppose to draw?  I finally turn to T and ask. And T gives me an answer that makes me want to punch her in the face – “whatever you feel”. (WTF that suppose to mean?) If I knew that then I draw it.  Then T says “just start and it will come”, at which point Rose is screaming in my head ” this is so not logical, we neead a plan before you draw or you’re wasting paper.” Fighting to drown out that I just draw lines on top of lines. It all felt stupid.

I  left with therapy with this feeling I can’t even do that right. The next day I was still felling bummed out by the whole thing so I thought I’d try it again without anyone watching, so I didn’t have to feel like I was being judged.  I use my tablet so I wasn’t wasting paper and again it came out all lines. Getting frustrated I turned on the eraser and started erasing. And that’s when the calm came. I realized art therapy – as in drawing some didn’t help anything, but erasing it was great. It was like erasing everything that was wrong in my life and giving myself a new slate to work with. After that I let all my anger out on my tablet in a multitude of colors and shapes, then I erased like I wished I could erase all that anger from my life.  Finally art therapy that was logical.

 

 

When your ESA has PTSD.

I think I wrote in one of my post that my new dog, Moo, who is my Emotional Support Animal (ESA) has issues. When first got him, I was living by myself since we where in the process of moving and my parents had already moved into the condo. So it was just the two of us. He loved me – I’d just saved him from shelter living and I liked him. I can’t say I loved him at that time because I was still grieving my old dog’s death, but he was something I could hold on to.

A little background on him so you get why I say he has PTSD. He was born on the IMG_0173streets of the Bahamas, one of thousands of dogs the run wild there. At three – four weeks old someone poisoned food and left it out for the wild dogs (instead of getting their pets fixed this is how people deal with the wild dogs in the islands). Moo’s mom got ahold of some of the poisoned food, and died. At this point he had to fend for himself or die too. For two or three weeks after his mom died he and this two siblings were on the streets alone. People chasing them, either to scare them off or to catch them, before he was caught. Then he went through being shipped to the USA, going through quarantine, going to the vet for things like shots, microchips, and getting fixed. He was paraded out weekly for adoption shows where it was loud, and people were passing him around, at which point it just got too traumatic for him. Then I found him at one of those shows and he sat in my lap so quietly I took him home thinking he was the “ONE” for me.

Then I started picking up on things. First, he followed me EVERYWHERE, I couldn’t move without Moo being right there. Which led to me tripping over him. Which is a problem because I’m already proned to accidents and falling. While we were still in the house he’d crawl into my lap whenever someone was in the house. If it was a man he’d try digging so he could get behind my back to hide. The only one who could touch him was me and my nieces when they’d visit. Any one over three foot tall that wasn’t me, he’d freak out, run away, hid, pee himself or play dead, somethimes all of them at once. Once we moved to the condo, Moo started hiding under my bed. Anytime he heard or saw someone that wasn’t  me, off he’d go, and he wouldn’t come out unless it was just him and I, and the door was closed. I actually had to move things around so he had a place to hide. Otherwise he’d get stuck under there and I couldn’t get him out. 

The condo move was already stressful for me, and now I  was dealing with a freaked out puppy/dog on top of it. I hate to say this and I never would have even thought it before, but I was close to returning him to the shelter. Up until this time I believed that once you take on a dog that dog is your responsibility for life – either theirs or yours, but I started wonder if our parting wouldn’t be better for both of us since he was driving my anxiety levels over-the-top big time. There was just one problem – by the time his PTSD became really noticeable we’d had three months of just him and I time in the house before we sold it, and I was attached plus I was still grieving the loss of one dog and didn’t want to loss anther.

So I had to come up with ways of treating his PTSD so he’d stop triggering mine. Yes, as crazy a this may sound I wanted to keep the dog that was triggering my PTSD. The first step was realizing that he had problems. The next was finding a way to work on his problems that not only helped him but didn’t trigger me. His biggest problem was people, guess what, so is mine.  I found out that he loves being around other dogs though, so where could he be around both dogs and people? Pet stores were out cause I can’t take them – to crowded and closed in, and noises. I then started looking into dog training classes. They were ok for a start but I really only did them because my dog need basic training and he liked them. I on the other hand didn’t like them so much, because well I was stuck inside with people and I felt weird about leaving in the middle of a class when I started getting panicky. The next thing we tried was the off-leash dog park. This worked for both of us. He got to be with, play with dogs, I was outside so I felt less trapped, and I could move or leave whenever I started getting panicky. It took almost six months of two-to-three times a week visits to the park before Moo would even go near another human, another six months before he’d let a woman pet him, we’ve just reached the two year mark and he’s finally going up to people (men and women) and letting them pet him. At home he gotten a lot better too. Most of my extended family he likes and most of my friends. He’s still scared of strangers, especially men, which he growls at before coming to jump on my lap. He still doesn’t bark but I’m ok with that. I still have to watch for signs he’s nervous around someone, usually I let him in my bedroom when that happens, but now he no longer feels the need to hide under the bed.

He has other little things that he still does like he won’t eat from his bowl if you are near him, if you come near him and he’s eat he leaves. So I feed him at night so he can eat while we sleep. If you give him a treat he runs off and hides to eat it. He has to be under the covers in my bed went it rains, thunders or there are fireworks or other loud noise or he cries. It is emotionally painful when he cries. And if I’m gone for longer than four hours he starts looking out the windows and pacing from door to door looking for me. Then when I get home he follows me around again. He has horrible nightmares but so do I so we keep each other company and calm each other down.  

I know I said early I thought of returning Moo because of his issues but I can truly say that I’m thankful I didn’t. I’m also thankful every day that when I went looking for a new dog, God saw fit to give me Moo. Not only do I understand him better than most people would, but he also helps me understand and be more accepting of myself and my issues, by dealing with and accept his.  And I can say now without a doubt that he enriches my life and I love him. There are a thousand ways he makes my life better, but mostly it’s his cheerfulness I love the most.

*** No, my dog is not named Moo. This is just his alias for this page. I’m not so mean as to name a dog – Moo. 🙂

A Year In Fast Forward – Emotional Support Animal (ESA)

As I stated in my last post one of the conditions to my moving was my being about to keep my dog, Moo. When you are moving into a condo association with a “NO Pet” rule this can be hard on someone who’s dog is not just a pet.  Fortunately the Federal Government passed a law about discriminating against someone with disabilities when it comes to housing, it’s called the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988. This allows for people with disabilities to request a reasonable accommodation, such as a waiver of a “no pets policy,” for any assistance animal, including an emotional support animal.

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For more on what an emotional support animal is click here.

I want you to know that just because you want to keep your dog doesn’t make them an emotional support animal, and even if you get your doctor to write the letter stating you need an ESA; you may still have a fight ahead of you. I know that I did. The first letter I submitted to the condo association was denied by their lawyer because my doctor and I didn’t get specific enough. I had a real problem with telling what I viewed as my personal business to a board of strangers. I felt that it wasn’t really any of their business. I still feel that way. But as my doctor pointed out, they and their lawyer needed to make sure that what I was asking for was something that I actually needed and not something I just wanted. After much thought I finally told my doctor to tell them exactly why I needed an ESA. My doctor and I ended up composing the letter together so that not only was I comfortable with what was disclosed but also the reasons I needed an ESA were VERY clear.

To see my letter click here

Needless to say that within two days of receiving this letter, I got a letter back stating I was able to move in with Moo. Since then we have had a few people, say something about him living there, but I keep him on his leash at all times when he is outside, I clean up after him and he doesn’t bark, so there isn’t much they can complain about. Beside the fact that, the board has said that if anyone has any problems/questions to send them to them and they will take care of it. This is great for me as I don’t do well with confrontation.  

Now if I could just get my Father to read my doctor’s letter so he will stop saying things that are either stupid or wrong. But since I can’t get him to read anything that might be a help to me, I’m not holding my breath. After all he likes to believe that there is nothing wrong with me, so that he doesn’t have to feel guilty. If he’s asked my dog is there because I have epilepsy. Boy, I wish my letter said something about that. But I look at it this way, it makes my father look ignorant because he doesn’t know why his daughter needs an ESA.

One more thing: DON’T pay to have your ESA registered. There is no law that recognizes an emotional support animal registry. Don’t waste your money! The law only requires a doctor’s letter.

A Year In Fast Forward – Moving

I know it’s been almost a year since I’ve posted anything on my blog, and all I can say is it’s been one hellish year. Losing my dog, L.V., was like having my breath knocked out of me repeatedly. In my last blog I said of my new dog “He’ll never be L.V., but he can be Moo and that is enough.” In some ways I was right and in other ways I was sooo wrong.

Little did I know when I adopted Moo, I was getting a dog that has PTSD worse than me. Unfortunately, I didn’t really realize Moo had ISSUE
S due to the other major life change that was thrown at me at about the same time.

My parents, who I live with, decided to sell our house (the house I grow up in) and move into the condo my mother inherited for my grandparents. I had so MOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAANY problems with this; I don’t even know where to start.

First, I’d have to leave my home, the one place where I actually felt safe. The room that was like my cave, the place I vowed no one could get me out of without dynamite. When I was going through a bad time, home was the ONLY place I could be. A place I could lock myself in and be safe.

Second and maybe more importantly, I’d have to move into the condo where my grandparents, the people who abused me spent the last years of their lives. I will acknowledge that I was never abuse in the condo, so I don’t have any memories of that there, but when they moved from the house where I was abused; most of their things came with them. So even though they are both dead, going into the condo was like going into a mine-field full of triggers. At first I couldn’t even think about it. The furniture in the room that would be my “new” room was the furniture in the room where my grandfather had abused me. It had to be removed before I’d even think about going in there. This caused a huge problem because this furniture is considered a family heirloom, but no one in the family wanted/needed a full set of bedroom furniture. It is over hundred years old and all my parents’ friends who saw it were pushing me to keep it because it was such a “nice set”, better then the stuff I had. I was almost to the point where I told these ignorant, well-meaning friends that there was no way I was every going to sleep on the bedroom set I have memories of being tied to while I was raped repeatedly by my grandfather; that I’d rather sleep outside in the dirt, first! I did let something of the above slip when my mother got pushy about it, after which the furniture finally disappeared, and I haven’t heard of it since.

Third, the condo association also doesn’t allow pets, I’d just lost L.V. which almost put me in the hospital, now I was being told that I would have to give up MOO, too.  It was like my parents were trying to kill me. Fortunately, with the help of my therapist and a law called the Fair Housing Act, I was able to keep, Moo. But I’ll post more about that later.

 Fourth and I can only say this now with the hindsight of actually living there for a while; the condo association is a 55 and older community. I can live there with my parents because they are over 55 but everyone there is older than dirt. The pool closes at dark for goodness sake. Everything and everyone is asleep by 8 or 9 pm. Being that I’m a night person this is hard on me. Also living around so many old people is triggering to me because some of them look like my grandparents.  I’ll be driving and bam!, there is someone who looks just like them. Maybe it’s the hair, maybe it’s the way they walk, maybe it’s the clothes they are wearing, I can’t be sure what it is, but it is something. And there I am in flash-back, panic, hyperventilating, city; and my parent’s wonder why I don’t want to leave the condo. I don’t even want to open my blinds, but that could be because we are next to the clubhouse and the pool and all the condos sit almost on top of each other. Opening the blinds means that people can see in. I don’t like people watching me. It freaks me out.

This didn’t even take into account the actual stress that is normal when you move.

My parents moved into the condo, in June or July of last year, after visiting my sister, and her suggesting that they try it first. Needless to say they liked it and never moved back into our house.  Moo and I spent over 3 maybe 4 months in our house alone. I think that this is why his PTSD issues didn’t come up. It was just him and I and he loved me, and there was really no one else around for him to interact with and thus be scared of.

During this time I had to at least consider moving, even though it was that last thing I wanted to do. My parents were gone, the house was on the market and I was about to be homeless, if I couldn’t get my mind around living in the condo. This is when Rose took over and decided what logically “we” could and couldn’t live with. What it would take for all of me to even consider moving. She knew that “we” had to at least be a little flexible; after all “we” were living with the parents for next to nothing. She also understood why they felt like it was time to move from our big house into a condo. She understood things like money, the need to make things easier on themselves because of their age and not being about to do things that they were once able to do i.e. maintaining a big yard, cleaning a big house, keeping up with repairs, etc. She knew that emotions were all well and good but that they were going to put us in a even worse situation then moving, so she made us come up with the list of WHAT “WE” HAD TO HAVE TO MOVE – for it to go on the list all or at least the majority of me had to agree that it was a MUST HAVE.

The biggest thing, which was that only thing all of us could agree on, was: we had to keep Moo. There would be no moving without him.

Next came getting rid of ALL and I mean ALL my grandparents things. Then the whole condo had to be given what can only be called a complete makeover – new paint, new flooring, new furniture or at least our furniture, not anything belonging to the grandparents.

“We” wanted complete say on our bedroom and bathroom. The color the walls were painted, the furniture that went in there, the fixtures and other things in the bathroom. It had to be so different that – one not a trace of the way it looked when my grandparents where alive was remaining and two they would hate what “we” had done with it, because it wasn’t beige, brown or orange.

“We” now live in a room that is painted purple on 3 sides and teal on the fourth. The teal side is hand painted (my hands) to look like a rose, butterfly garden with purple, orange, lime green, yellow and pink. It’s what we wake up looking at. It’s great to open one’s eyes to that after having a flash back nightmare; it’s even calming and peaceful. It’s also a great visualization tool, putting yourself in that garden.

There were a lot of mental black and blue marks before I got to the place where we were okay with the move, but for the most part I think “we” are all there now.

More on the last year to come…

Losing SO Much More Then My Dog

I got my dog, L.V. as a puppy. He was only four lbs when I brought him home. He was everything I’d ever wish for in a dog.cb974930bf9df15e0cc90ba18f392175 L.V. went from being a 4 lbs puff-ball to a 75 lbs. guardian. He was my friend, my companion, my protector, the one thing that was always there for me no matter what. He loved me and he would have died for me. There were many a time when he came between me and danger – or at least what he thought of as danger. 

While everyone around me, had lives, families, jobs, children, whatever I had him. He calmed me when I was stress. He kept me for killing myself on more than on occasion because I was responsible for him. But most of all he brought me great joy and happiness, and a much need feeling of being safe.

So when he started to limp around New Year’s, I was SCARED!!! I knew that he was 12 years old and that is old for a Rottweiler. But the thought of losing this important part of my life was killing me. It got worse when the doctor came back with the fact that L.V.had bone cancer in his back leg, and there was nothing I could do but keep him comfortable and wait. The doctor told me that L.V. would let me know when it was time. I thought that this was crazy but because I wasn’t ready to let go yet I went with it. In the end, he did tell me when it was time, but for six weeks I went through hell. Was he comfortable? Was he in pain? Was he eating? Was he sleeping? Was I being selfish to hold on to him, instead of letting go? I will forever be grateful for those 6 weeks. I was with him almost the entire time. It helped me come to terms with losing him, and I got a few more memories to hold on to. When he went, he went peacefully to sleep in the vet’s office. 

Now I’m sure there are those of you that are saying he’s just a dog, what’s the big deal. But he wasn’t just a dog to me, he was everything I didn’t have. I know that, that is putting a lot on an animal but he was my emotional support. The thing that kept me semi-sane in all my madness.

Coming home was the hardest part, I had to leave a part of me lying on the floor of the vet’s office and walk away, knowing that I would never see him again. Then I got home to a house that was soooo quiet, and the thing that I usually used to comfort myself was no longer there.

I started thinking I could heard him, I keep seeing him, I became hyper-vigilant because he was no longer there to protect me. I wasn’t sleeping, I’d spend hours  – I can’t say crying because it was so much more than that – keening, whaling . Till I’d tire myself out but when I did sleep I wake up screaming because I couldn’t find him. My family wasn’t at all helpful. My father didn’t know what to do with the nighttime crying so he did nothing. He didn’t check on me, he didn’t even wake my mom to have her deal with it. All he could say was NO MORE DOGS. My therapist was worried and suggest that another dog might ease some of the pain. Or at least give me something else to love. My mom didn’t like the idea but begrudgingly took me to some shelters to look at dogs. None of which she liked.

Having spent a week and a half in utter misery, with both my parent basically saying no more dogs at least not now. I took matters into my own hands and went looking on my own. I came home with a puppy, Moo. He’s going to be less than half  L.V. size which is good because I can no longer handle a big dog. But Moo is colored the same as  L.V. which makes me feel like I haven’t lost him completely. While he is not  L.V., he is something I can love, and that loves me. And I don’t feel so alone.

I still grieve for L.V. nothing can take his place but Moo has help a lot. He’ll never be  L.V., but he can be Moo and that is enough.

No my dogs are not named  L.V. and Moo. These are just their alias for this page. I’m not so mean as to name a dog – Moo. 🙂

 

Blog for Mental Health – 2015

As you know if you’ve read my blog, my wish is to not only help myself but to help others that are dealing with mental health issues, especially those that are effected with the aftereffects of child abuse.  It pleases me to be a part of Blog For Mental Health – 2015

“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2015 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”

A short biography of my mental health and what it means to me:

I’ve been diagnosed with DDNOS (Dissociative Disorder not Otherwise Specified), MMD (Major Depressive Disorder), PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and Agoraphobia with Anxiety Disorder. Not only are my disorders an assortment of abbreviations that most people have no idea what they stand for, when you do actually spell it out for them the still have no idea what they are. You don’t know how many times I’ve heard “PTSD is what soldiers get, right? How can you have it? You’ve never been a soldier.” And there is little to no information on DDNOS. My goal with my blog is to change this – to change people’s preconceived ideas and to enlighten them; by doing that I hope to help not only myself but others, because right now without this blog, I feel helpless.

I have spent a lot of time working on a series of posts called ” The Legacy Of Child Abuse”. So many people don’t realize how much damage child abuse causes.  I’ve also been working on accepting/acknowledging my alters. This means that I am allowing them to rewrite their pages from their view point so that I can better understand them and who and what they are. It is a long and painful process. 

My therapist also say I have problem with Happiness. That could be because I have no idea what makes me happy. I’m going to be putting a lot of time into that for a while with a blog I’ve called “The Happiness Project” so I won’t be posting as much on here as before. I am going to try to do better then last year though and post something at least once a month.

The Antidote – Part 2 – Meditation

This is my second post on the book “The Antidote – Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking”. This time on its chapter on Meditation/Buddhism. I’m not Buddist but some of the stuff it teaches is interesting/useful.

If you are like me, for years you have been hearing people (therapist, parents, friends, doctors, etc.) telling you that meditation is the way to relieve stress and to become calmer, so you try it. And you try it and you end meditationup feeling like you are failing. That somehow you are just not doing it right. For me, with the multiples, meditation isn’t just about quieting one mind or part of it, it’s like a whole neighborhood. You have multiple houses all blasting their radios – heavy metal, polka, something Spanish, a talk show, etc. You have to spend time going around to each of these house and turn off the music. And when you think you’ve got them all off, they switch back on again, and you have to turn them off again. On and on it goes till you either give up or you have all of them blasting at once. Either way, it’s not a relaxing experience.

So you can image my thoughts when I got to this chapter. I was ready to stop reading. Then I learned something I HAVE BEEN MEDITATING WRONG. I thought I had to completely clear my mind to properly meditate. I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when I found out that, that wasn’t true. Meditation is not about emptying your mind, reaching a state of bliss or achieving a trance-like state of calm. It is not a way of seeking happiness, but a way to stop running away from things that we are either not aware of or don’t want to face.

Here’s what you do: You take the time to sit comfortably still, close your eyes and notice your breath as it flows in and out. One breath in, one breath out. Things will come up, sensations, emotions, etc. We need not be distracted by them but instead we need to notice them. We need not judge them but instead watch our thoughts and emotions, our desires and aversions, as they come and go. We need to resist the urge to run, fix or cling to them. Whatever comes up, good or bad all you need to do is stay present and you observe them, acknowledge them, then let them go. Always returning to your breathing.

The chapter goes on about practicing non-attachment, but i’ll leave some of the book for you to read