March 2, 2018
Mental health back on track
I finally saw a psychologist this week, for the first time since moving to Mexico. It was the longest period of time I have gone without a psychologist appointment since I first began treatment three and a half years ago. And I was getting weird, real weird. I was going to group support meetings for a sober fellowship I'm in, and stayed involved in that. But my mental health was getting into uncomfortable territory.
Something about my experience with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) is that I lose my ability to concentrate, which is not helped by the brain fog that follows me around.
I get so fed up with brain fog, and with fear that keeps me enslaved to my procrastination and sloth tendencies. My perfectionism has been hampering my goals, it has been affecting everything that I do in negative ways. I don't harbor any delusions that I could ever be anything close to perfect. Yet, I can't finish any project because I know it isn't perfect and I can't accept the flaws. And my thinking is already biased towards seeing my own flaws way more than any other aspect of myself. It's a harmful combination.
Step one is, "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable." That is acceptance. Which, incidentally, has been one of the great challenges in my life. Denial was my automatic defensive reflex.
I was told I had depression, I didn't want that diagnosis, so I denied it. I didn't want to be in an abusive relationship and so, instead of leaving to make my reality match my hopes, I denied it was abuse and lived in that denial despite all the evidence. Denial was a huge part of my grief when my father died. I tossed and turned and sobbed, saying aloud "It's not true" over and over. As if my words and belief could undo it. At times, it has helped me when experiencing trauma. Once I was in recovery I could begin to process it thanks to the to the safe guidance and care of my therapist.
In early recovery, denial gave me space to do one thing at a time. I realized the other day that I don't need to live in denial anymore. Denial no longer serves me. It has no positive role in my life, aside from instinctual denial of existential threats and shit like that. Denial is good for buffering trauma, in the short term. In the long run, it just hinders my progress.
It's time to move from denial to prioritizing. Instead of: I can’t handle a task, so I have to ignore it. Now: I realize that task or topic is is the truth/necessary/important, but right now it is not the top of my priority list. It's a seemingly small shift in language but it's a huge change in my perspective.
02 March 2018
By Kristance Harlow