Thursday 9 March 2023

Self Harm

It's been a while since I posted anything about mental health. First of all, I'm exercising regularly, thank the Lord, though I don't really see any improvement in my sleep, energy levels or mood. Nevertheless, I do know that it's doing me good physically. But yesterday, I just never got around to it. For the most part, I just forgot. My memory is actually getting worse, which I know can be impacted by my mental health. And lack of sleep, which is also impacted by my mental health. And lately, I've found brain games, like Wordle, much more challenging and stressful. My shortness of breath and abdominal discomfort have gotten worse again as well. And the eczema on my right hand never seems to go away permanently, in spite of using sterioid ointment. Of course, I don't always remember to put it on. Nor do I apply moisturiizing cream to my hands every 20 minutes as my doctor recommended. It's fine if I'm just sitting there watching TV, but if I'm washing dishes or working with fabric or yarn, it's not very practical. Tuesday morning, I woke up around 2:00 in the morning and didn't get back to sleep. And really didn't have the energy to do anything during the day. But that's not entirely true. 
We had a period of warmer weather 2 or 3 weeks ago and the snow on the garage roof got soft and mushy and slid off the roof, landing on the sidewalk between the deck and the garage. I managed to shovel up the first bunch, but then more fell off the roof later in the day and I didn't get the chance to shovel it up before it froze in what was a small, icy mountain range on the sidewalk. Frozen solid, it couldn't be shovelled up and the ice melting salt barely touched it. My turf edger, which I might have used to try to break it up, was in the shed. And the shed was still inaccessible because of the snow. So, I figured I was stuck with it until the spring. And I had to gingerly clamber over it any time I left the house. But yesterday, I knew my new roll of quilt batting was going to be delivered. Plus I had my friend, Barb who makes soap, delivering some soap to me Wednesday. So, I needed to do something about accessibility to my home. Before breakfast, I went out with a hammer and hammered that ice until I managed to clear enough to be able to safely get to the stairs on the deck. Hurray! That's why I said that it wasn't entirely true that I didn't have the energy to do anything, but I basically just lazed around for the rest of the day. Although, I did exercise Tuesday. I just didn't get around to it on Wednesday. It remains to be seen whether or not I exercise today.
Wednesday was not a good day. My psychologist suggested to my disability benefit company that I should be assessed by an OT for activities of daily living, exercise capabilities, etc. I think she's hoping the benefit company will pay for a pass for me to go to the aquatic centre here in town. I don't really care, but just want to cooperate with my care plan as much as possible. Neither I nor my psychologist thought that they would want me to go to Edmonton to be assessed. We both assumed that I would be assessed at home. So I was rather surprised and dismayed when I found out that they wanted to go into Edmonton, over an hour's drive away and I would have to be there from 8:30 in the morning until 4:30 in the afternoon on the first day and 8:30 to 12:00 on the second day. That means someone with Generalized Anxiety Disorder would be driving in Edmonton during rush hour. And the appointment is later this month. March in Alberta can be very unpredictable and I never count on winter weather ending until some time in April. Most of us don't have our winter tires removed until mid-April. Or later. And so, someone with winter driving phobia is supposed to drive to and in Edmonton during rush hour when there's no guarantee of what the roads would be like. I panic if there's a little bit of ice on the roads. But the news was worse. The rehab clinic where I am supposed to go is in one of the busiest areas of the city. I don't necessarily like to drive there on a Sunday morning, let alone rush hour! So, I called them back and said that I couldn't do it. They came up with the idea that maybe my disability benefit provider would pay for a taxi. Then they suggested that I stay in a motel. No, I can't stay in a motel either as I don't want to leave my senior cat alone for a couple of nights. Yesterday, my case manager for the benefit provider called and said that they had approved funding for my transportation. Well, if they thought I'd be happy, they had another thing coming. 
Did I mention that one of the things that increase my anxiety are appointments? Yes, that's right: appointments. I don't know what it is: fear of being late, fear of disappointing people, fear of disapproval, fear of not being taken seriously. I'm really not sure, but no one said that mental health challenges have to make sense. They really don't. I also have a hard time getting going in the morning, sometimes not showering until later in the day, if at all. Sometimes I stay in my nightgown or sweats all day. Sometimes, I'm eating breakfast at nearly noon. So, here I am with two back-to-back appointments in the city that involve taking a vehicle (even though I'm not driving) on unpredictable roads, during rush hour in one of the busiest parts of the city, and being ready to head out the door by 7:00 in the morning. Not to mention packing a lunch. I might have to pack my breakfast, too, since I will have to leave so early.
So, I just felt really overwhelmed. I was hoping and praying that I wouldn't have to go. And I cried. And I'm sure it's not just these OT appointments. Those are just the tipping point, or the straw that broke the camel's back. 
Did you know that self harm doesn't always mean suicide? That there are people that scratch, bite, pinch and cut themselves to get some relief. And it's not that they actually want to hurt themselves. The emotional pain is so bad that they just want to find some way to get rid of it, some way to let it out, somehow to get some relief. And I'm beginning to understand what that means. You know how when you have a headache and you stub your toe, you suddenly don't notice the headache, at least not as much. I think it's something like that. Hoping that the physical pain will alleviate - or at least distract from - the emotional pain. 
Don't get me wrong - I haven't self-harmed, and I don't intend to. I'm just saying that I'm in a place where I can understand the rationale behind it. I am so frustrated with feeling like crying every day, of having my life limited by anxiety and depression. Of feeling nauseated and headachy and dizzy. Of not being able to lose weight because I "self-medicate" with food and then feel guilty afterwards. I'm also frustrated with feeling like other people - my benefit provider, my psychologist, my doctor - are in control of my life and not me. And I'm just tired, so very tired, all of the time. And a lot of the time lately, I don't really even enjoy quilt-making. It feels like a chore. 
But I keep plodding on. And by the grace of God, I will get through this. 

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