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08 February 2011

Rough mornings, new therapy, rabbits. And the Grateful Dead.

This entry rambles around for a bit, so you might want a fresh cup of coffee. 

How a person wakes up tells a lot about the rest of the day-- wake up feeling good, the day is likely to go well.  Decent breakfast, coffee, off to tackle whatever part of the world you're responsible for tackling.  Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

Yeah, right.  My day (and my week) didn't start out quite so sunshiny and bright.

My first class on Mondays is at noon (hush, you in the back).  Yesterday I worked a shift at both of my jobs, so I was on my feet from 0930 to 1530, and at my other job (which thankfully includes chairs) until 0100.  On one hand, the money is nice; I'll have my credit card paid off again, and I can save a little bit for the rainy (here, snowy) day.   Someone please remind me never to pull a double shift like that again.

Today I had my alarms (clock radio and cell phone) set for about 1030.  While I have a hazy memory of hearing them and getting up to turn them off, I do remember falling asleep again.  Before the first alarm, I was in the middle of a dream that was quickly turning into a nightmare--it starts with being back somewhere (the location varies, as does the environment).  As the nightmare picks up steam, I encounter someone from my past, and suddenly we're friendly again.  What happens next is pretty fuzzy, but the end is always the same.  I decide that being in that place with that person isn't where I want to return to, and the dream ends with all the grace of a train derailment.  Last night (this morning)'s dream was unusually disturbing at the end...  that's often the reason I don't want to sleep enough.  If I don't get into REM sleep, I don't dream.

It's possible that I've been taking my meds at odd times, which may have contributed to the problem.  I think I took my sertraline and trazodone at around midnight, so that was probably late enough to jack up the chemical balance in my brain a bit.  Anyway...

...I woke up a few minutes before my second class of the day.  I hate walking into full classes late, I'm stressed enough when I get there on time.  So my day was essentially spent getting ready to go to work again at 1600.

I am feeling very detached from my classes.  They're a couple of blocks away, yet they seem like they're in a another time zone.  Everything seems like it's in another time zone, reality and nightmares alike.  While I fit in as as well as an older student can, and I'm happy with some things, my life isn't centered where I want it to be (on classes).

---

Enter ACT.  Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.  I've considered mindfulness before and done some work with breathing exercises, but this is new territory-- it seems to be the next step after Cognitive Based Therapy. I have only had one appointment that deals with ACT, and only read one article that describes what ACT is without going into details.  So it is both a new beginning, and yet another step in this long strange trip I've been on for quite a while now.  (I can't say a lot about ACT yet, because it's so new to me.  I'll post more as I learn more.)

Yes, starting yet another therapy program. 

One thing I've learned from all of this-- depression, anxiety, PTSD-- is that often, you can't get there from here.  You have to complete one step before you attempt the next step. Baby steps.  Getting through one phase give you the skills and knowledge to start working on the next phase.  It's frustrating, especially at first, because you just want to get better and life to be normal.  At the end of the current therapy, you want to walk outside and have the sun shining and cute fuzzy rabbits hopping around.

But you get the therapy and the medication and things aren't perfect yet.  I suspect this is where people get frustrated with the VA-- you did what people told you to do, you went and "got help", so where are the damn fuzzy rabbits and sunshine?

I don't know either.  But dammit, I'm determined.  And, looking back, each step I've taken has been an overall positive step.  There have been setbacks and speed bumps, but they have served as indicators that I needed additional help.  If you'd told me when I first returned to school that I'd be doing the stuff I'm doing now, I wouldn't have believed you.

Actually, the Grateful Dead did a better job explaining it...

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