Reflections on Life Thus Far

My life. My story: Exploring mental health, spirituality, meditation & random thoughts I have


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Changes

Discouraged. That pretty much sums up how I have been feeling lately. I think I am overwhelmed because I have been going through my possessions trying to become more minimalist; but in the process I have felt a mixture of emotions. Most recently, I parted with a garbage bag full of treasured books destined for charity and in doing so I wanted to pull some out and ‘save’ them…but I resisted. It feels like a loss to me because I love books and they’ve been my ‘significant other’ since I have never let real people close to me. So in parting with so many books I felt attachment to I went through a series of grief related feelings. Maybe not all of the grief related feelings/stages but definitely some anyway.

When you use books to satisfy your need for relationships giving away a large quantity of them feels horrendous. It’s not like I hoard books but I definitely value my books more than a person ought to. They aren’t historic relics suited to an archives department either so I don’t have any objective reason to view them so fondly. Perhaps it’s the fact I parted with books that had served as valuable references and comfort when I needed them; now I’m forced to either let go of anything I can’t remember or trust I will be able to call upon my brain to give me the knowledge when I need it. That’s scary given I dissociated for so much of my life to avoid pain. What if I can’t remember everything I read in the books I gave away?! Now I must trust myself to survive and have greater acceptance of my innate fallibility which also makes me face the fact I am imperfect. You see all these things connect to my sense of lovability and self-worth and that is terrifying territory. There’s little comfort in what I’m experiencing.

I want to crawl under my bed covers and not have to face the world. Maybe I am depressed but more than likely I am afraid of the fact I have nothing solid to stand on. All of my worldly identifiers are gone and I’m struggling to not concoct a new identity for myself knowing such a thing would be a production of my ego anyway. Part of the reason I fear social interaction is I’m afraid someone will ask me about myself and I don’t have any tidy, pat answers on tap to reduce my discomfort and the other person’s. The other reason for my social anxiety is I simply have trouble easily relating to everyone. Maybe most people don’t easily relate to others either and just hide it better than I do. Or maybe it’s a problem of ‘how’ I relate. I can relate at a human level but not at the social/surface level. After all, I don’t have a paid job, sports don’t interest me and I don’t have a husband or kids. So right there I am starting off from a disadvantaged position. Then again maybe I just overthink these things and should try to ‘relax’ more! Ha, if it were that easy I’d have done it by now. In some ways I have learned to relax about it a little bit but other times I get triggered by things like giving away some of my precious books. Who knew parting with a garbage bag full of my books would trigger me? Certainly, if I’d known it, I might have chosen to part with fewer books to ease the discomfort. The way I have done it feels like I just had a Band-Aid ripped from a tender sore spot. I suppose I shall have to go easy on myself. Trying to bulldoze my way through the pain won’t help me any if past experiences are anything to go on.

On a more positive note I did manage to dust my computer desk and tidy up my messy cords from my electronic devices. Well that’s it for now. Tomorrow I see my counsellor.

©Natalya, 2014. Reflections On Life Thus Far®

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Paring Down To Go Minimalist

Not quite this minimalist yet but maybe one day…

Lately I have been trying to go minimalist to simplify my life. It’s been something of a challenge as I have loads of things I don’t need yet feel some level of attachment to still. So I am culling the easiest items first beginning with anything I’ve not used or thought about in years or never liked anyway. In fact I got rid of two and a half garbage bags so far of things for charity. Much of what I have culled is perfectly usable or in decent/superb shape and what isn’t I threw out for the garbage or recycling. I feel really proud of myself for tackling my excess clutter. It makes me feel lighter emotionally once I’ve managed to clear out a few things that I never actually used. Fortunately, I haven’t got a compulsive hoarding problem or my job would be far more monumental!

A good reason for going toward minimalist living is it’s easier to clean if you don’t have loads of things in your way to move in order to clean. Presently, I have to move lots of items if I want to dust a surface or wipe it clean. It makes the task a lot harder than it needs to be. In the last month or two I have felt myself desiring less material items and more space so that means a bit of effort now for less later. It feels nice not having so many knick knacks and objects that were for all intensive purposes clutter. I highly recommend minimalism to you if you’re seeking a simpler existence and find yourself regarding material items less favourably than you once did. The only caveat is you will need to have your mind in line with the lifestyle or it won’t feel appropriate for you. Also, if you are a compulsive hoarder or pack rat minimalism likely isn’t for you!

I have a ways to go before I can call myself a minimalist but I’m going in the right direction anyway.

©Natalya, 2014. Reflections On Life Thus Far®


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Final Writing Exercise (Day 4)

Day 4 of my writing exercise was Tuesday but I didn’t get around to updating on here how it went. I saw my counsellor on Tuesday and told her I’d finished 3/4 of it but needed to still do the final day. Surprisingly I am one of the few who completed it or tried to anyway. Lots of her patients find excuses not to do it and she thought it was positive I managed to recognise why I procrastinated doing it and still managed to tackle it. It was a productive session so I am pleased that I made the effort to do as much as I could. I completed the final exercise when I got home. To my surprise I found myself expressing gratitude for the people I’d met who made a positive difference in my life. Initially I thought I might have some resentment to get out of me but I didn’t. Gratitude can help give an experience in your life that redeeming quality previously overlooked.

Have you experienced something emotionally painful that later filled you with gratitude?

 


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Day 3 of Writing Exercise

Yesterday’s writing was about my issues around men due to my mother brainwashing me; today I moved to suicide attempts and the devastation a label of BPD brought me. Surprisingly, or not so much, I found myself feeling cheated and angry over the treatment I received from mental health professionals due to my diagnosis. They saw the BPD before they saw me and that hurt. Realising how much I struggled in the years following my BPD diagnosis I felt sad and wished mental health workers would try to see the person before they noticed their diagnoses. A bit of open-mindedness wouldn’t kill some of the people I encountered. A person’s psychiatric file won’t tell you about the person as a whole so mental health professionals should just take it as a reference-not a guide. Not every person diagnosed with an illness is like everyone else and might be misdiagnosed. It would be good if the “professionals” would treat a prior diagnosis with a grain of salt unless proven already by a lengthy history. Then the patient/client would have a shot at being seen in an unbiased manner.

Tomorrow I will wrap up my writing exercise with discussion of the treatment I got later on that helped me.

©Natalya, 2014.


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Healing & Freeing Yourself From Clutter

My kind of bathroom! Love this. Image found here: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/397724210815086850/

The more I heal emotionally and psychologically the less I need materially to be content. I have noticed that when I want distraction from something bothering me I seek out material things as though I actually ‘need’ them-in most instances I don’t need them at all. But thankfully this occurs much less now than it used to. In fact I did a big clutter clear-out last year and continue to weed out things I don’t need or want anymore. The less I have the better I feel! Of course I need some things but nothing like what I once believed necessary.

Personally, for me, clutter and excess things just drain my energy to the extent I feel restricted in my breathing and capacity to relax. I suspect this is from growing up with a compulsive hoarder for a mother and not having the power to do anything to affect change in my environment at home. Being powerless as a child to change your circumstances can often lead to rebelling against such constrictions and moving in the opposite direction. So I very much wish to keep my environment clutter free these days. Unfortunately, I did not have the energy or motivation to clear out the clutter for a long time because I was still ‘attached’ to it. The clutter was my mother’s and kept me connected superficially to her even though I didn’t want to be. It was as though I had too much emotional baggage I had to clear out first before I could tackle her clutter. For those of you who aren’t regular readers or have forgotten, my mother died in 2008. Thus, her hoarded possessions were left for my dad and I to sort through.

Dad doesn’t mind clutter so it was up to me to get rid of my mom’s accumulated clutter (aka junk!). As I mentioned, last year I got a lot of it cleared out and the difference was huge. It took me a number of months to do it because I was the only one doing it and dad sometimes felt overwhelmed by the shear volume of clutter I was removing. I knew I had to do it slowly so my dad wouldn’t be upset and ask me to leave everything where it was. Fortunately, as I got rid of more stuff along the way the positive changes impacted my dad and he saw I was making things better so objected less and less. That’s how it works though when you’re removing a lot of stuff and someone has been used to living with it so it doesn’t register for them as being a problem anymore. I think one has to be impartial or quite balanced to go through a load of clutter and not let it overwhelm you. You also need empathy for the hoarder or person holding onto the stuff or else it’s just too easy to tell them they need ‘professional’ help! LOL

Beautiful and true 🙂 Image found here: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/320951910916350560/

These days I tend to look at anything I want to buy long and hard before hand because I need to think about where it will go and if I actually ‘need’ it or not. Generally it turns out I don’t need it and I opt to leave it in the store instead of buying it. It helps not having a lot of money but even with a small amount of money you can buy things you don’t really need as such. So I’m learning to always ask myself when I’m in a store if the item will be of use to me or if it will become clutter. This method works for me because it makes me slow down and be mindful of what I am contemplating buying. Another thing I have started to do is try to follow a rule of ‘one item in one item out’-in other words if I buy one item I have to get rid of an item I already have (I put it aside ’til I have enough to donate to Goodwill or another charitable organisation accepting household items/clothes). This prevents me from accumulating more things than I have space for or actually require for my well being.

As I’m thinking about clutter in the material realm I am reminded to mention our minds can get cluttered too. Our headspace tends to be reflected in our living spaces and the more clutter in your mind the more you’ll have around you. I also believe people can end up talking too much about things that don’t really matter just so the ‘space’ can be filled with something. Silence is difficult for a lot of people to cope with so talking about anything at all is better than nothing it would seem. I prefer the silence though to incessant ‘noise’ caused by someone uncomfortable with it. My head starts to hurt if I’m subjected to listening to someone chatter non stop. It really does get to me at times. Of course I try to be polite and civil so will tolerate it for awhile until I usually have to interject abruptly in order to escape or regain my serenity. I’m working on trying to maintain my equanimity whilst being subjected to mindless chatter and am slowly getting better at it.

Still, I don’t see why I should have to be providing all the accommodation when I am just as worthy as anyone else. Guess it comes back to recognising if I dislike my situation it’s up to me to change it. Although I try to accommodate others it’s not a given it will be reciprocated, nor is it actually mandatory. So if I have an issue with people talking too much about ‘nothing’ it’s ultimately my problem and I have to find a way to deal with it. This applies to anything we have problems with because we can’t change others behaviour, only our own.

How does clutter affect you? Do you struggle to maintain a ‘clutter-free zone’ or are you not bothered by it until it reaches a point where you *have to* do something?

 

©Natalya Lyubov, 2014. Reflections On Life Thus Far®

 


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PTSD & Attachment from Advances In Psychiatric Treatment (journal article)

http://apt.rcpsych.org/content/15/3/172.full (HTML version)

Post-traumatic stress disorder and attachment: possible links with borderline personality disorder (PDF version)

Cover for the article linked to.

I read the above linked article (8 pages) and found it really interesting in its exploration of PTSD and complex PTSD. There is a smaller focus on Borderline Personality Disorder but the article focuses primarily on ‘simple’ and ‘complex’ PTSD and the ICD-10/DSM-V exclusion of complex PTSD as a formally recognised diagnosis. Given I was diagnosed with BPD at 18 and PTSD in my mid 20s I was interested in what the article had to say, especially since it explored it through an attachment lens. As you can probably tell I agree with attachment theory so had no ideological issues with the journal article. It’s a positive read and doesn’t ‘bash’ anyone with the discussed conditions.

The journal is open access (you don’t need to pay) for articles 3 years or older. The one I linked to is from 2009.


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Life’s A Journey

So true! Now to convince my ego of this…