Reflections on a Very Personal Anniversary

March 1, 2015 will be one year since I attempted suicide. I have been doing a great deal reflecting back on this past year and even before, the events and the thinking that led up to the overdose and what ensued. I’ve been thinking about this past year in therapy and what I’ve learned about myself.

Taking A Second Look

I’ve had several interesting insights related to my issues with health anxiety and my fear of intimate relationships. Connecting the two, actually. Which is amazing to me. Although it shouldn’t be, because I think I've had some inkling all along that these two concerns are related. They continue to be at the forefront of my therapy sessions.

Philosophy Fights The Stigma of Mental Illness Against Women

There’s a new advocate in the fight against the stigma of mental illness. The Philosophy Brand of products which consists of skin care, fragrance and bath and body item has joined us in our fight. I am excited that a major company is finally recognizing that this problem exists and is taking action.

Fighting Back Against Illness Anxiety Disorder

There is a new term for hypochondriasis. It’s called illness anxiety disorder. I am someone who has great anxiety about my health and go to doctors a lot, though I’m trying to work on lessening my visits and I believe I’m succeeding. I like this new term better.

When Resilience and Acceptance Work Together

I have been told by many people that I am resilient. I have recovered from many setbacks that were posed by my psychiatric illness. When I am doing well, I am able to acknowledge that I am resilient. When I am down, I’m unable to see this quality in myself and I have a difficult time believing that I possess this trait.

Celebrating The Year Ahead By Reminiscing

As all of us approach a New Year, the year of 2015, some of us may be thinking about the year that is about to come to a close and some of us may be thinking about the year that is ahead of us. I’m thinking about both. I’m thinking about the tough year I’ve left behind and I’m thinking that the year ahead has to be better. I’m thankful that I survived this year.

My Fear of Abandonment

After my mother passed away in 2002 I adopted a two year-old cat from a shelter. I wanted an older cat. I felt bad for them because they never got adopted. Everyone wanted kittens. I named her Zoe. After two years I thought she might like some company so I returned to the same shelter and adopted another two-year old cat. I named her Lucy.

I Am Enslaved by My Mind and by My Body

I’ve written about the power of the mind-body connection before almost three years ago in a post appropriately titled “In Awe: The Power of the Mind-Body Connection.” It was more about the physical sensations I experienced with the return of an episode of anorexia, but as I reread it I got one thing right. The somatic symptoms were related to my feelings about my father.

The Dating Game

I just saw something astonishing on the web. It was on MSN Health & Fitness. When I go onto the Internet, MSN comes up as my homepage, just like millions of other people. I scrolled down past lifestyle and entertainment, and started browsing health. And there it was, an article titled “Dating With a Mental Illness.”

Consequences of Anorexia

When I was young and was experiencing my first several episodes of anorexia, I never thought that my struggles with the disease would extend into my fifties. Fifty seemed like an age I would never reach, it was my mother’s age, an age that was untouchable, imperceptible.

Dad, I Want to Tell You I'm Sorry

In my therapy session with my psychiatrist Dr. Adena (not her real name) this past week, I was talking about writing and my father came to mind. Dr. Adena is a psychoanalyst and prefers me to blurt out whatever comes to mind, however seemingly unrelated so I stopped what I was saying about writing and said simply, “My father just came into my mind.”

We All Have Endless Potential

Sometimes, thinking that I haven’t yet reached my full potential is what keeps me sane. I have to believe that there is more out there for me, that I have more to offer, more to give. I have failed but I have also succeeded. One would not be possible without the other. Both lists are long, but not comprehensive. They balance each other, complement each other

I Won't Give Up On Myself

As much as I wanted to end my life eight months ago, it just wasn’t my time. I don’t ever want to be back at that darkest place again and I will work hard in therapy and in my life to avoid returning there. But as I’ve posted in past blogs and as I’ve learned, there are no guarantees.

Wedding Blues

I attended a wedding Saturday evening, my first since my brother’s which was in 2003. Until Saturday night I hadn’t realized it had been so long. My brother’s wedding was a joyous event, a week-long celebration on Fire Island, several hours outside of New York City. My brother rented a house on the beach for immediate family,

Three Things I've Learned

I’ve learned several things in the couple of weeks since I’ve last written. I’m not quite sure how they came to me; perhaps something stuck in my mind while I was surfing the Internet or maybe I overheard this in a snippet of conversation I was eavesdropping on, or it’s possible that one of these gems even came up in my therapy session.They’ve had a profound effect on me.

Chaos In A Woman's Hand

I am in chaos. I am straddling lines in my personal life, my professional life, between health and illness, with my friends, in my therapeutic relationship with my psychiatrist. I feel like an old person in a fifty-three year old woman’s body. I hurt all the time because all the years of my eating disorder has ravaged my body, yet others tell me I shouldn’t hurt.

When Self-Sabotage Is Too Strong To Stop

My biggest fear, even larger than dying, is ending up like him, as what I envision as the crazy cat lady, locked in out of terror in an apartment that I share with a dozen cats, an apartment that reeks of cat urine and feces, alone and afraid of everything and anything.

Weaknesses as Strengths and Strengths as Weaknesses

During the course of my illness, there were many times I felt as though my weaknesses — both the ones I had identified and the ones that had not yet come to my consciousness — were getting the best of me. I’d get overwhelmed, frustrated and feel like giving up. Some of the weaknesses were even masquerading as strengths trying to defraud me.

Coming To Terms

That’s how it went. One day at a time. I didn’t count the days or mark them off with an X on my calendar, but I might as well have because each one felt like an indelible stamp on my very slow progress. If it could be called progress. The constant ups and downs felt like a roller coaster ride that I had to weather in my mind without showing it outwardly.

The Storm

Two critical things were happening at once. I was getting used to being back at work, wondering if I could make it past the three week mark — which was the point at which I had gone back into the hospital the first time I returned to work. And, my psychiatrist Dr. Adena and I were negotiating post suicide attempt, post hospitalizations and post vacation difficulties.

Seeking Approval

The fear of rejection, of abandonment dated back to my father whose death had triggered this depressive episode in the first place. I shook from fear, terror pervaded my mind, body and soul. I would have done anything to please him, to obtain his approval in my childhood, when I was a young adult, right up until the time he died. And now my chance to get it was gone.

Broken

I was wheeled into the evaluation center once again, although this particular evening it was after 11 PM so I was able to escape much of the gawking. I went through the drill again of reassuring the social worker that I was not suicidal at that moment and I was allowed to step down from the stretcher. I was exhausted and just wanted to close my eyes.

Nosedive

Dr. Adena wanted to know what the events were that led up to the overdose and why I hadn’t taken precautionary measures like taking myself to the emergency room or calling 911 before I had actually swallowed the pills. I tried to convey to her the sense of desperation I was feeling in those early morning hours, the sense of aloneness and isolation I was experiencing.

Trying To Forgive

I arrived at the psychiatric hospital’s evaluation center by ambulance, strapped to a stretcher, for all the people to gawk at as I was wheeled in. I felt like I was wearing a sign that spelled out “C-R-A-Z-Y.” After I assured them that I was not suicidal at that moment I was allowed to step down from the stretcher and take a seat.

The Carousel Ride

The Saturday after my first week back at work I hit a low I hadn’t experienced in years. I knew I couldn’t return to my job the way it was structured now because I was drowning, yet I felt there was no one to whom I was able to convey my sense of desperation, my sense of aloneness and my sheer pain.

Drowning

This feeling which I was later able to remember as depression scared me almost to death. The times before when it had managed to climb out of the deep place where I had buried this devil before and it had burst forth with a vengeance had caused such hopelessness and despair that I had either experienced suicidal ideation or actually attempted to kill myself.

There's An Unlikely Hero In Our Midst

I read this article from the July 17th issue of the New York Times Magazine this past week and was blown away by the profile of Maria Bamford. In the article, "The Weird, Scary and Ingenious Brain of Maria Bamford" by Sara Corbett, she describes Ms. Bamford’s work as a comedian whose routine focuses on her struggle with mental illness.

The Runaway Train

Little did I know that was just the beginning and the catalyst for all that was to come. My father and I had a conflicted relationship for a long time and as he aged my brother and I cared for his basic needs. I felt (I can’t speak for my brother) that I did so more out of guilt and a sense of obligation that out of pure love for him

Quieting the Voice of Self-Doubt

Though I’m generally content with the place in the world I’ve carved out for myself I continue to struggle with self-doubt. These periods of self-doubt tend to appear at random moments often when I feel least prepared to defend myself. I doubt myself in various aspects of my life such as whether I handled a session the in most beneficial way for a patient.

Disappointment and Rejection Aren't All Bad

Recently on an online dating website I stumbled across a man I thought would be a wonderful match. We had many of the same values and shared many of the same interests. We live in the same city and are the same age. His profile was written unusually well and detailed for a man.

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