Tag Archives: therapy

Meditation: A Questionable Guide (A-Z Challenge)

Happy Monday! I’m on “M” in the A to Z Challenge, so I thought I’d share my meditation techniques with you all. I am a master at meditation, if by “master” you mean “someone whose therapist told her to try it, so she bought an e-book on the subject which she somehow managed to delete instead of Fifty Shades of Grey, which is now somehow a permanent fixture on her Kindle home screen, much to her embarrassment.” DAMN YOU TO HELL FOREVER, E.L. JAMES!

Ahem. So, I’m maybe not a meditation master per se, but I’ve been told repeatedly by MANY gurus and therapists and consultants and dogs and voices in my head that there is no wrong way to meditate. So, this is my way–maybe you’ll find it inspiring!

The Jackie Meditation Method™ (overpriced instructional dvd coming soon):

  1. Get into a comfortable position: I like to find a good spot where I can sit comfortably in a “wakeful” position, per the instructions of the app on my phone. I know you’re not supposed to meditate on your bed, because you could fall asleep, but my floor is usually dirty so I just get into a cross-legged position on the bed anyways, which is fine because I’m sitting up straight and–
  2.  Wake up 45 minutes later: Okay, so I fell asleep. That’s fine! There’s no wrong way to meditate, and–shit, I’m late for therapy. Damn it, where are my shoes? Where’s my checkbook? WHERE IS MY BRA?
  3. Go to therapy and discuss meditation techniques: My therapist asks me how my meditation is going. I lie, and he doesn’t believe me. We discuss my childhood and I cry and write him a huge check and pay an extra $15 in uber surge pricing to get home because Muni is down.
  4. Get into a comfortable position, take 2: I return home after therapy, eat a healthy meal of salad and yogurt for dessert, and try for some calming evening meditation around 7:30 pm. I set out my yoga mat and sit cross legged on my living room floor. I begin breathing deeply and–
  5. Wake up six hours later: What the fuck? How did I end up under the coffee table hugging my yoga mat? And where are my pants? Also, it’s 1 am and I’m starving, so I eat approximately 4,000 pieces of bread. I try to fall back asleep and fail until 5 am, at which point I nap for another 90 minutes before actually getting up to get my day started–exhausted.
  6. Drink 3,000 cups of coffee: How the hell else am I supposed to get anything done today? My hands are shaking a little, but that’s only to be expected…is my heart beating a little faster than normal? God, my stomach doesn’t feel so good…
  7. Have a full scale panic attack: OH GOD OH GOD TOO MUCH CAFFEINE HOW WILL I SLEEP TONIGHT MUCH LESS MEDITATE AND OMG THE KEYBOARD MY FINGERS ARE SHAKING SO HARD I CAN’T HIT THE KEAYAAPSODAS SJALSKDJPQOIWJE[O AWPOFJ (rocks back and forth clutching knees to chest, sobs)
  8. Try to meditate to calm down: OH, FUCK THIS SHIT. (*fumbles around in medication drawer*)
  9. Take a Xanax: Nirvana achieved, bitches.

 

I wish you a pleasant and peaceful day of meditation, coffee, and benzodiazepenes!

Please share your own meditation methods in the comments because THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY TO DO THIS, DO YOU HEAR ME?

Medication Frustration

This is the top drawer of my bedside table, a.k.a. the “med drawer”:

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This is where I keep the stuff that most folks organize neatly in a medicine cabinet. Mostly, it’s full of your typical and over-the-counter remedies: ibuprofen, pepto bismol, benadryl, cold medicine. It’s also where I keep my meds for anxiety, depression, and migraines. It’s a necessary, if messy, drawer. Usually, I open this drawer at night to take my daily medications without so much as a thought; it’s automatic, an action I’ve taken every night for years.

Sometimes, however, I really fucking hate opening that drawer. This week is one of those times.

I’ve been on some sort of daily medication to treat anxiety and depression pretty consistently since I was sixteen, which makes fifteen years of me opening this drawer (or its previous incarnations at my parents’ house and other apartments and dorms) every night. I’m incredibly grateful for this drawer, for the drugs in it (which have changed over the years several times–if you want to talk about the benefits and drawbacks of prozac vs. zoloft vs. lamictal vs. lexapro vs. a couple others I don’t remember at this point, I’m your gal) and for the doctors and therapists and friends and family members who have helped me get my shit together and get the help and medication I need to treat my anxiety and depression.

And yet, right now, I really hate that fucking drawer.

I hate that I have to cut my lexapro doses into little quarters as I wean off a higher “winter” dose to treat SAD (seasonal affective disorder). I hate the bitter taste of the pill residue that gets caught in my throat sometimes when I don’t cut the pills perfectly. I hate the fact that that higher dose made me incredibly drowsy in the afternoons for two months and eliminated my libido. I hate that these pills make it hard for me to lose weight and even, sometimes, to experience joy. I hate the fact that I rely, to some extent, on a pill to make myself “normal,” if there is such a thing.

I know that these feelings are valid–and likely temporary. I also know that there are alternatives to medication that I may try down the road in addition to my current therapy regimen. I also know that if I decide to try those methods and they work, that’s great. I also know that if I decide to try those methods and they don’t work, that’s okay, too, and meds will still be there and probably still be able to help me from falling into a non-functional depressive black hole.

I sincerely hope no one thinks that I’m saying meds are inherently bad or that no one should take them; I don’t think that at all. If you are feeling low, and especially if you are thinking of harming yourself, please go get help, and if a doctor or therapist thinks meds will help, consider their advice seriously. I’m also not advocating that anyone take meds if they truly feel they aren’t working for them. Basically, I’m the non-judgmental ninja over here, promise!

All I’m doing is sharing with you that, for whatever reason, this week I’m just tired of the process. I’m tired of opening that drawer. I think it’s okay to be tired sometimes. It’s okay to hate the drawer and to feel grateful for it at the same time. I hope, if you have a drawer, you know that, too.

 

 

So I quit my job ten days ago, and this is my new apartment…

My new sexy home
My new sexy home

Just kidding, my actual apartment is a Toyota Sienna, which is much classier and gets better gas mileage.*

Seriously, though, as I wrote in a post last week, I have this personal demon (WITH RIPPED ABS UGHH) who lives in my head who was being louder and meaner to me than usual because I decided to quit my job.  Part of the demon’s argument against this action was that I would immediately become super poor and end up living, quite literally, in a van down by the river.  It is a small victory over him that ten days into my unemployment adventure, I have not been evicted AND I received a bunch of amazing encouragement from friends, family, and random internet people on my last post.  I expected most people to react to: “Hey, I quit my job and I’m trying to write a book!” with this expression:

Oh my god, I hate millennials.
Oh my god, I hate millennials.

Instead, I received tons of emails, messages, and in person comments that all pretty much boiled down to “Good for you!  God, I wish I could quit my job, too.  Jobs are terrible.  Hmm, maybe I should play the lottery.  Hold on, brb, I have to run to the convenience store.  But yeah, you’re great, SCREW THE MAN!  What’s your lucky number, again?”  I wish you all good luck with those lottery tickets, by the way, and hereby stake a claim to 10% of all winnings.

Seriously, this week has been a pretty incredible high, which means, of course, that I’m likely going to come crashing down to earth sometime in the next five to ten days.  It’s how the demon in my brain works (thanks, mental illness!).  To prevent this, I’m trying to cultivate another part of myself that I drew with my therapist’s guidance (IT REALLY DOES WORK).  She looks like this:

I'm awesome.
I’m awesome.

This is another younger part of me (who apparently was a big fan of knee socks and had reddish hair?  Whatever), but unlike my personal demon, she is confident and does not. Give. A. Shit. About. Anything.  I drew her after my mother told me, for the thousandth time, that I was a super happy, not-depressed, confident child before puberty (pro tip: contrary to what society would like you to think, getting boobs in the fourth grade does NOT lead to increased self-esteem), at which time the shit really hit the fan.

Now, it’s totally natural for things to go down the toilet once you hit puberty – your body is weird, your hormones are out of control, and since this is happening to everyone in your school at approximately the same time, your social life becomes an insane CW-style soap-opera complete with sexual harassment and illicit substance use.  For me, though, puberty also marked the onset of what has been a lifelong struggle with depression and anxiety.  Almost all vestiges of confidence that I had in my abilities, my appearance, even my intelligence disappeared almost overnight.  I struggled through by focusing on getting 100% on every test, winning every award I could, getting into a top college, getting the best job, blah blah blah.  Ironically, it’s only now when I’m finally jumping off the high-achiever train that I’m starting to remember Awesome Girl.  She’s the girl who used to play rec basketball every winter and loved it, despite never making a basket in four years.  She’s the girl who spent every Thanksgiving break pretending to be the captain of the Mayflower and ordering her little brother and cousins around the basement, telling them to swab the decks, raise the sails, and keep an eye out for Plymouth Rock.  She’s the girl who wore leggings and a giant jumper with a Disney Princess on it to school and thought, “I AM a princess, and you better fucking believe it.”

Of course, this girl didn’t have any bills to pay and had no true understanding of the Middle East quagmire (to be fair, who does?).  It’s easy to be the queen of the world when the world is your home, your parents, your brother, and your little group of friends.  I’m not aiming to be the queen of the world, but I do want to recapture a bit of the essence of what made Awesome Girl so awesome – she was less prone to worry, and more likely to celebrate.  She’s the complete antithesis of the demon, and it’s my goal this week to remember and celebrate her a little bit every day.  If you’re reading this, I hope you can take a minute to remember a time when you felt on top of the world – it might not have been when you were a child, and it might be hard to remember it at all, but it’s worth the effort to try.

Now, I’m going to go write another thousand words of my book BECAUSE I AM AWESOME, BITCHES.

*In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I don’t know whether or not the Toyota Sienna is classier or gets better gas mileage than any other van on the market.  Chrysler, please don’t sue me.  Toyota: if you think your van IS better than others on the market, I’m happy to do a test drive and write a post all about it.  For a price.  My price is one million American dollars.  It’s a worthwhile investment, I promise.