Dream Analysis: Fear of Death

 

35246_134350973265937_3090540_n (2)
My Spyder

Last night I had an interesting dream. In the dream, there was a big snake loose in our house and I was trying to stay as far away from it as I could because I feared getting bit. Every time I would see it somewhere, I would run to another room. Then, the dream took an unexpected turn when the snake attacked my cat, Spyder. Spyder has been my baby since the day he came home to us and has been with us almost 12 years.

When I realized the snake was attacking Spyder in the dream, I was suddenly like “HELL NO!!!” and I ran into the room with a small sword (that suddenly appeared out of nowhere) and I cut that snake’s head clean off! I was suddenly as brave as an Amazon warrior, or like a mother bear defending her cubs.

When I woke up today, I was trying to decode this dream a bit, and I think what I was actually dreaming about was the fear of death. Just last night I was talking to someone about the short spans our pets live and about how my last two cats died around the same age Spyder is now. I think the snake symbolized death coming to take a loved one from me, and while I clearly have a self-preservation instinct and a healthy fear of my own death, that fear pales in comparison to the terror I feel at losing a loved one.

Hypomania Turns Me Into a Jerk

scream-1819736_960_720

Yesterday was a weird day. I started feeling hypomanic (probably because of my psychiatrist upping my antidepressant again). Even though I was already feeling restless and off, I decided to go ahead and go with my husband to our weekly meditation group. Turns out that wasn’t the best idea. Have you ever tried meditating or even just sitting still in the dark for 30 minutes while hypomanic? STRESSFUL.

I didn’t outwardly spaz out or draw attention to myself, but I sure felt like it. My head was buzzing with what felt like a million thoughts and feelings, and my body wanted to get up and run around the room. I wanted to scream, but of course I didn’t want to make a scene and freak everyone out, so I screamed on the inside. By the time it was over, I felt like a nervous wreck.

As we were leaving, I told my husband what was going on and how much I had struggled, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t really get it, because a few minutes later he sort of sent me over the edge a bit. We stopped at the Chick-fil-A drive-thru to get some ice cream, and I became pretty agitated because there were two lanes and the one we joined took FOREVER. People who joined the other line after we got there had gotten their food and driven off BEFORE we ever got to order! Normally this kind of thing wouldn’t bother me so much, but in the state of mind I was in, it was infuriating.

My husband tried to distract me and cheer me up by being playful and sort of tickling/poking me. Normally this would make me laugh, but with all my senses already on overdrive and feeling angry, I screamed at him to stop and smacked his hand away. It was a huge overreaction and I felt bad afterwards, but I simply couldn’t help it. The rest of the drive home I could tell he was not sure how to act and that made me feel even worse.

Today I’m feeling more normal again, but we’ll see how it goes once I take my medication…

Things I Would REALLY Like to Say to My Past Abusers

woman-73403_960_720

  • I don’t owe you anything!
  • I’m nothing like you.
  • You don’t own me and you never did.
  • You deserve what you got.
  • Sometimes I feel nothing for you.
  • You are at fault for so much.
  • You have no one to blame but yourself.
  • You are lucky to have anyone who still cares.
  • I’m a saint for forgiving you.
  • Without me, you’d have nothing!
  • I hate you sometimes.
  • You’ll never break me.
  • I’ll never crack.
  • I am a much better person than you’ll ever be.
  • I’m smarter than you.
  • You fuel my creativity with anger, disgust, frustration, and grief.
  • I’ve made something good out of your mess.
  • I am superior – by actions and attitude.
  • Your religion doesn’t hide the truth.
  • I found love and success in spite of you.
  • I’m the person you always wanted to be, but couldn’t.
  • Toys have always been better company than you.
  • You helped me find and lose faith in God.
  • I will heal.
  • I’m STRONGER than you.

*By the way, BetterHelp has a great article on emotional abuse, I would recommend it!

Vacations: A Harsh Reality of Chronic Illness

33400748_1959360390764977_2132777392215687168_n

Over the weekend my husband and I took a short vacation to Louisville, KY to celebrate our 15th anniversary and spend some quality time together. I did have a good time, but I must admit that I dread and sometimes even regret vacations just as much as I look forward to them.

Why? Simple. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Vacationing when you have CFS sucks. Big time. Planning the vacation wears you out. Packing wears you out. The travel wears you out. Even though I don’t do the driving, I am still exhausted by the time we even get to our destination. Often, as soon as we get to our hotel I immediately have to lay down for at least a couple hours to recuperate, even if it is only a 2 or 3 hour drive as this one was.

The main excursion we planned was to the Louisville zoo. We had never been there before and both my husband and I love animals. Luckily, it wasn’t a huge zoo, but by the time we had toured about half of it, I was in really poor shape. I had to sit on each bench we came by and rest. I even had to make do with the floor a few times and just collapsed. I was nauseated, felt like passing out, developed a migraine-like headache, and felt extremely overheated, even though it wasn’t that hot out and I stayed hydrated. Heck, most of the buildings were even air conditioned. THIS is what living with CFS is like.

I didn’t get to see much of the rest of the zoo. I was too busy looking for places to rest and recuperate for the trek back to the car. My legs ached so badly and felt so weak that I feared they would give out on me multiple times. My entire body felt like I had been run over or slammed into by something big and heavy. Somehow I did make it back to the car (after resting many, many times on the way there), and then we went directly to our hotel so I could recuperate for the rest of the day. I didn’t even have the stamina to go out for dinner a few hours later, so we ate at the hotel.

I went to bed early, hoping I would feel better in the morning, which didn’t really happen. The next day we visited a cool indie bookstore I had wanted to go to, but I was almost too tired to even enjoy that. We went and found a place by the Ohio River to sit and watch barges pass by, which was peaceful and relaxing. During the drive times to our locations, I curled up with a pillow and laid my seat back to doze.

By the time we headed back for home, I was too exhausted to care about much of anything. When we arrived home, I went almost straight to bed, even though it was only 5pm. The next day (Labor Day), my hip and back were so sore (with a pinched nerve thrown in), that I spent most of the day laying in bed watching a Lake Placid marathon on the Syfy Channel. Any form of movement was excruciating.

All of this makes me wonder if vacations are really worth the trouble. It also makes me wonder if maybe sometime soon I will need to get a motorized chair to even survive simple outings like this. I hate to give in and do that, but my worsening symptoms make it an almost certain possibility eventually.

Waterfalls and Baby Snakes

Yesterday the weather was absolutely beautiful. There is something so magical about the first day of the year that is warm enough to wear shorts! Or maybe that’s just me… Anyhow, since it was so lovely out, my husband and I took some sandwiches to a local park for a picnic and then took a short hike to a waterfall.

Along the path we found two baby snakes! They were so adorable! Unfortunately, we didn’t get a good picture of either of them, but I found this picture online that is pretty much exactly what they both looked like (although one was much tinier, maybe a newborn):

small-garden-snake-0-awesome-design-short-headed-garter-gartersnake-info

I’m pretty sure they were some species of garter snake, but not sure. We did get a picture of the small waterfall:

30727005_1911612622206421_4510387041497776128_n

It is amazing how spending time in nature can really elevate your mood. I’ve heard nature described as a natural antidepressant, and I would have to say I agree in many ways.

Ever Heard of Sexual Anorexia?

adult-1822498_960_720

Last night I was looking through book giveaways on Goodreads and happened to spot a book about “sexual anorexia”. I’ve studied psychology and mental health issues for years, but that was a phrase I had never come across before. Now curious, I had to Google it and found the subject rather interesting.

Apparently, just as anorexics starve themselves of food, a sexual anorexic starves themselves of sexual experiences. Some do so because of strict religious or moral beliefs, but the majority do so because of fear of intimacy and trust or a history of sexual abuse. There do seem to be some who seem to have OCD issues about sex as well, and avoid it due to a belief that it is repulsive or disgusting. This last category seems especially hard hit because they tend to beat themselves up or feel degraded for even having sexual urges in the first place.

Often the sexual anorexics that are afraid of intimacy and trust might still indulge in porn, masturbation, and such, but they avoid actual sexual encounters with others. They often choose to be celibate, but some do get into relationships and then find ways to avoid actually being sexual with their partners, which obviously can lead to major issues between couples. I found it interesting that there is also a category of “sexual bulimics” which are people who might go out and sleep around a lot all at once, but then will starve themselves of sex for a long while afterward.

I know this may seem like a weird subject for a blog post, especially when I don’t have personal stories or experiences to share, but I find stuff like this fascinating. The intricacies and oddities of the human mind never fail to amaze me.

Being Too Clingy and Possessive

tree-3024520_960_720

I can be a bit possessive, especially when in a close relationship. I’ve always been like that. Even as a kid I would get jealous sometimes if my friends had other friends or wanted to do stuff without me. I’m not sure why, but I am easily prone to feeling left out or threatened by outsiders. However, I know this dynamic isn’t exactly healthy and I am trying to learn to let go a bit and not be so demanding by monopolizing anyone, specifically my husband.

It may be my autism, since I have heard it is typical of autistics, but I don’t make close relationships easily. I usually only have one or two truly close relationships at a time, and I can definitely be guilty of being clingy or insecure about those relationships. For the past 16 years, my closest relationship has been my husband (as it should be), but my husband is a bit different from me in what he needs socially.

Socially I only need those one or two people, although it can be terrifying if those relationships are threatened, since it is so hard for me to connect with others and build closeness. My husband on the other hand seems to desire more social interaction and the chance of making more friendships than I do. He wants to feel a part of things more than I do, as I am more of a homebody.

So, I have been working at letting go some and not feeling resentful or frightened by him reaching out for other friendships. It is still hard sometimes and honestly there is still a big part of me that thinks he should need absolutely nothing else in life but being with me…but I know that isn’t realistic or healthy. Does anyone else out there struggle with issues like this?

Lyrics of My Life, “Keep the Faith” by Michael Jackson

This may be my favorite song of all time, even though it is a little known song by the King of Pop. It is a song that I have always found incredibly inspirational and supportive when I felt like everything was going wrong and the world was conspiring against me. I have listened to this song on repeat during many drives to scary things like job interviews, or when I had to give an author talk in front of an entire elementary school years ago. Without the song, I’m not sure I could have drummed up enough courage and willpower to do things that cause me such enormous anxiety.

I think what I like best about this song is that it has kind of a kick-butt attitude, even though it sounds a lot like an African American gospel song at points. It definitely isn’t a wishy-washy song, with lyrics like:

“Better stand up and act like you want to do right
Don’t play the fool for the rest of your life
Work on it brother and you’ll make it someday
Go for what you want
And don’t forget the faith

Look at yourself
And what you’re doing right now
Stand back a minute
Just to check yourself out
Straighten out your life
And how you’re living each day
Get yourself together
Because you got to keep the faith…”

“I told my brother how to do the thing right
Lift up your head
And show the world you got pride
Go for what you want
Don’t let them get in your way

You can be a winner
If you keep the faith
Straighten out yourself
And get your mind on track
Dust off your butt
And get your self-respect back
You know me long enough
To know that I don’t play
Take it like you want it
But you got to keep the faith…”

…And that is only a small portion of the lyrics (it is a long song lol)

My Poor Husband…

heart-3280747_960_720

Sometimes I feel truly sorry for my husband. From what I have read and been told by psychologists and psychiatrists, he has a rough road to travel. Asperger’s can be extremely hard on intimate relationships. Bipolar can be extremely hard on intimate relationships. Long-term chronic pain and chronic illness can be extremely hard on intimate relationships. PTSD can be extremely hard on intimate relationships. And my poor husband has to deal with them all on a daily basis…

Of course, when we married fifteen years ago, I didn’t know I had any of these conditions or that I would develop some of the others. I did already have chronic foot pain and issues with depression and anxiety, but nowhere near as bad as I have them now. Nor did I have a true understanding of what was causing the symptoms I sometimes experienced, whether they be mental or physical. I wish I could have warned him, but I simply didn’t know myself.

On the positive side, he has definitely been a trooper. He always steps up to the plate and is there for me and willing to do anything he needs to do to take care of me and help me through the confusing mess that is my mind and my body. If anyone in this world has shown me the meaning of true love, it is him. And I am thankful.

*By the way, for great advice about marriage counseling, check out this article from BetterHelp!

Bipolar or Borderline? Part 1

DSC08341

Although I was recently diagnosed with Bipolar type 2 mood disorder, honestly, I wonder myself if it might not be Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) instead, or even in addition. The reason I say this is that so many of the stories of other Borderlines hit close to home and so do the symptoms. My greatest fear is fear of abandonment, and has been since childhood. It doesn’t matter if that abandonment comes from rejection or death, it all feels like being abandoned to me.

As a child I wouldn’t even spend the night at friends’ houses normally because I would have panic attacks at night and end up calling my mom to come get me. I was always afraid something would happen to my family or they would somehow be gone in the morning if I wasn’t there with them all the time. This fear became much, much worse after my dad died when I was 12. After that, my fear centered on my mom dying or leaving me, which wasn’t helped at all when she remarried when I was 15 and started dumping me off on anyone she could while she went on trips with her new lover.

When I got married at 20 years of age, that fear transferred to my husband. At first I feared he would just get sick of me and leave or find someone else he liked better. I was extremely insecure for a long time. I would get upset over the silliest things, like thinking he loved the kids he worked with more than he loved me. It was ridiculous. The one and only time we have been apart since being married was when I went with a church group to Tennessee for a week. One night during that week he told me he would be home by 10pm, so I called him after that and couldn’t get an answer. I freaked out, and ended up leaving 19 tearful messages for him within an hour because I was so scared something had happened to him.

Fortunately, I have matured over the years and my fear of my husband leaving me or cheating on me has greatly reduced due to his loving nature, although deep down I know I must still have some of those fears because I have nightmares about those things happening. However, now my fear focuses mostly on my worries that my husband will die before I do…a fear that might be somewhat justified by my being about a decade younger than him. This fear of something happening to him is so strong it literally gives me panic attacks if I think about it too much.

My fear of abandonment and rejection greatly affects my ability to develop other relationships because I tend to push people away before they can get too close, mostly out of fear of them rejecting me once they really get to know me. I know I have poor self-esteem and a flawed self-image, which I’m sure I will address further in part 2 of this post.

* Art by Maranda Russell