I had a moment today while visiting my Grandma. I was sitting in her room on the big chair that attempted to engulf me in the cushion; out of habit I glanced down at my phone, pressing the button so the screen would illuminate and I could see what time it was. Something in that particular moment hit differently for me though.
Before all of this happened to her, I remember taking her for granted. I guess you could say I was feeling guilt as I sat there, contemplating whether I should gather my things and go do the errands that were a part of my Sunday routine. I guess guilt is a good adjective to use here, because I found myself wishing I could go back and re-do all of those visits throughout my life up until last December. If I knew that this was the shit storm life or God or whoever would throw at her I would have spent more time with her, embracing her company and knowing that the love and life of my Grandma is fragile and can be gone in a matter of seconds.
I think as I sat there in that chair today, it was the first time I was really present in a moment as it happened. With difficult situations it is so hard to be there 100% mentally. Yes, I was there through everything the night me and my mom found her lying there inside her home. But I don’t think any of us were actually there mentally. The mind is a wonderfully powerful organ in ourselves. It was protecting me that night, and the last 11.5 months. Now I would kill to go back and be 100% present all of those days I spent with her.
I would go back and not ask my mom “how long until we leave?” or “I don’t want to go down today, can’t I just stay home?”
I was so fucking selfish when I was younger. If I could have even just one of those moments where I was begging to go home or whatever, I would shut my mouth and stay just so I could be with her and my family. I want to feel a moment, not just be physically present.
If I could talk to her and she talk back, I would apologize to her for not seeing her as much, for taking her for granted and just have a conversation I haven’t been able to have in so long. I want to be called her Grand-baby again.
I am pretty amazed there’s only 2 more weeks left of school. This semester I entered into my junior year, declared a concentration in my major and started off with a 4.0 GPA. No pressure right?
But something happened as the semester went on. The classes aren’t exactly the easiest and I don’t think I’m going to be seeing that beautiful 4.0 on my DegreeWorks when the grades are finalized and entered in. This doesn’t mean I’m not working hard or am not determined to do the best that I can, I just really struggle when it comes to science and unfortunately it’s the one class that is probably going to make my GPA go down by who knows how much.
So now that I’m entering into the last week of classes and lectures, I’m feeling that pressure. I have so much to do, and I’m back at spending countless hours doing work just to boost my grades. I don’t know why I care so much about this but I do. My whole life I wanted to be great at something. I remember when I was looking into college when I was in high school my guidance counselor flat out told me I wouldn’t be accepted into any 4 year school with my grades; and I believed her because shit isn’t it their job to be honest and “guide” us? So I went from high school into the work field. Then of course when I hit 20 or 21 and realized working without a degree in anything wasn’t going to get me anywhere I decided to go back to school, not expecting to amount to anything. But I did. I found out that I was good at it, and it gave me a boost in the self-esteem department.
3 years later, I am at my dream school, pursuing a degree in clinical/counseling psychology and guess what? I’m fucking good at it. But I still face the need to prove myself. Not only to myself but to the school and my old guidance counselor who basically told me I wouldn’t amount to shit academically.
Most days I feel like I’m back to driving myself crazy, all for a number. Isn’t it weird how numbers define us? It may be pessimism but I’m not expecting a kick ass GPA this semester. But it doesn’t mean I’m not striving for it. I want to be the best at something, and in my own world, I know I’m the best at school. I love it, I’m passionate about what I’m studying and it honestly keeps me going on those days where I want to lay in bed all day and be depressed.
I’m still striving for that 4.0, but I’m learning that it doesn’t have to be consecutive semesters. It would be nice, but I still have 3 more semesters to go before I graduate and go to Grad school.
“I probably sound like a hypocrite, but why would God punish so?”
Those words have been resonating inside my head for the past 2 or 3 days and unfortunately it’s a question I don’t think I’ll ever get the answer to. I mean you talk to people and they tell you God doesn’t cause us harm and that He is this Almighty and powerful being that can heal us and that He isn’t a punishing type of God. But I’m having a really fucking hard time believing in all of that shit as of late.
Ya know, I’ve been going around the past year or so convinced I wasn’t pissed off at God for what happened to my Grandma. Yes I pissed off and hurt that this God would heal other people and they had stories to tell of it, but then there’s my Grandma who also believes in God and she is in this place where she is a shell of a person, with no cure or “divine” healing. What the fuck did she do to deserve this?
So on Thanksgiving when I was spending time with my Grandma and her roommate called me over to talk to me about my Grandma and what happened, I was a little shocked that she said the statement I began this post off with. I understand though. I believe in God, but aren’t I also allowed to be fucking pissed off at him too?
The truth is I don’t know why God would punish someone as loving, caring and genuine as my Grandma. I don’t know why He chose to give her a stroke and heart attack, which in turn took away any shred of her independent life she had lived for the last 87 years. It’s not fucking fair, and it hurts. So why would God punish? Who the fuck knows.
So I keep having these moments of anxiety and panic when it comes to looking at myself. I know that I don’t see what I really look like, that’s one of the shitty things about having an eating disorder.
I won’t say exactly what I see when I look in the mirror but it’s not what I really look like apparently. It’s terrifying the fact that for so long I was convinced I looked one way, then friends and family and therapists tell me something completely different. I’ve gotten into so many fights with my parents because they don’t see what I see. A part of me wishes they would put on those glasses that allow them to see into my world and how I see myself; yet another part (a bigger part) wants to put on their glasses and get a glimpse of what I really look like.
Everyone in treatment says my eyes are broken, and that the body image piece usually comes last. Once again, that scares the shit out of me. Let’s say I do “recover”, what if I finally am able to see what I look like and hate it more than I hate how I look now?
Body distortion is a fucking nightmare. All I want is to look in the mirror and see my real reflection. One without distortion.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my last therapy session where I was asked who I talk to when I struggle (you can find the post about it here: https://jessicasteinbach.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/reaching-out-for-help/
After posting that entry I really began thinking not about the who, but the why.
Why don’t I talk to my friends (especially my best friends) or family about what is going on inside of my head? Well I have an answer for you (whoever you are, because let’s face it I have no idea who the majority of you are who read this blog): I don’t talk because I don’t want to be the burden or annoyance. Yes I have a diagnosed mental illness, yes I take medications for it, yes I am in therapy and treatment but when it comes to talking to people outside of the safety of the walls at my treatment center I get scared.
I remember being in high school and having friends who always seemed to dump their problems on us even when we really didn’t want to know the answers. They became the ones I tried to avoid, knowing that I couldn’t be their own personal therapist. It was hard, and now that I’m struggling to find some sense of clarity and hope for a future where I can manage living with my illness and disorder I face the fears that I’m burdening my friends and family with it.
Now I could be totally wrong but I think that’s why a lot of us don’t use our voice. Instead we keep it buried or confined in the pages of journals or whatever other way we can find as a means of not talking about it. For me, I have abandonment issues which stem from several friends up and leaving me for what seems to me like no apparent reason (this is what caused an old therapist of mine to diagnose me as having borderline personality disorder). I am scared shitless that it is going to happen again with my best friends I’ve known since middle and elementary school; so I either lie when they ask what’s going on or I just avoid them.
Maybe this isn’t pertaining to you but I’ve heard time and time again from people in the same or similar boat as me that this fear of being a burden is what keeps them from talking. Sure it’s safe to talk openly about the things you think and feel and behaviors you do when you’re in treatment or a therapy session but it’s outside in the real world that it’s terrifying.
I don’t know where I was going with this but I hope this was either helpful or insightful for you guys.
Even though I didn’t celebrate today because emotionally it was too hard I did find myself thinking of what I was thankful for and one theme kept coming to mind.
I’m so fucking thankful for my Grandma. Even though she’s not who I grew up knowing her to be I’m still so beyond grateful she’s alive. She very well could have died last December but she didn’t. And for that I’m thankful.
Maybe it’s the alcohol talking but I am so happy I spent time with her today. It’s been what feels like months since I’ve seen her smile and I was fortunate to see that today.
So yeah, I just wanted to post that. I hope even if you’re having a hard time today that you can find at least one thing you’re thankful for
Hey guys! So once again this post is going to be more psychology/neuroanatomy focused. I wrote a paper for my neuro class about auditory vocal hallucinations and I just wanted to share it on here. I actually really enjoy my neuro class because I get to learn about what happens within the brain when someone has a mental illness.
Disorders like schizophrenia, Bipolar I & II, schizoaffective disorders and somatoform disorders always interested me ever since I took psychology as an elective in high school. So any ways, I hope you guys enjoy this post and stuff.
Schizophrenia- Auditory Hallucinations
In the newest addition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), schizophrenia is characterized by “ delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech and behavior, and other symptoms that cause social or occupational dysfunction” (American Psychiatric Association, 2014). Yet, like any other mental illness there are many more factors that contribute to the mental illness. According to a research article by Rick Nauert “While about one percent of the general population suffers from schizophrenia, the risk increases to about 10 percent in the first degree relatives of an individual with the disease” (Nauert, 2014).
In movies and television shows today one characteristic stands out as a portrayal of one living with schizophrenia: auditory hallucinations. Typically when media attempts to portray an individual experiencing an auditory hallucination the audience hears short clips of different voices and witnesses the distress of the individual who is being portrayed as hearing the hallucinations. But what goes on inside of the brain of those individuals who live their lives the hallucinations?
Researcher Renaud Jardi and associates in 2011 published a research article where they studied the brains impact and activity in regards to auditory hallucinations in individuals who have schizophrenia. They theoretically defined hallucinations as “perceptions without corresponding sources in the external world” (Jardi et al., 2011). According to the researchers these auditory hallucinations make up one of the symptoms of schizophrenia and state that nearly 60-70% of those who have been clinically diagnosed with the mental illness have occurring hallucinations of this kind and are found to be the most prevalent form of hallucinations in schizophrenia (Jardi et al., 2011).
Research on the exact causation of auditory hallucinations have been limited and results differ, yet studies involving examination of the brain have been shown to support the theory of brain activity playing a role in the hallucinations. Some researchers have found active sites within Broca’s area, frontal lobes of the brain and even Heschl’s gyrus. Although the data is wide spread, making internal validity of studies difficult to show, there is no doubt that during auditory hallucinations there is brain activity happening which plays a major role in the occurrence of said hallucinations (Jardi et al., 2011).
As shown in this picture of a brain scan of individuals with and without schizophrenia, the cerebellums gray matter is severely less than in a brain of one without schizophrenia, as well as the right and left hemispheres.
In regards to these auditory hallucinations, some researchers suggest that within the brain of one suffering from such hallucinations there is a lack of grey matter within the brain and researchers also give credit to the neurotransmitter known as dopamine to be a part of auditory hallucinations with people living with schizophrenia. In such cases as increased dopamine levels in the brain, doctors have found that prescribing medication that act to block the dopamine receptors have been effective in reducing symptoms of schizophrenia (Stannard Gromisch, E. 2010).
Even more, a study published in 2014 suggests that within the brain a protein known as the NOS1AP gene may contribute to the development of schizophrenia. When there is too much of the protein, the communication within the nerve cells are unable to function properly. Although the study sample was with rats, the results of the study showed that the nerve cells in the rats with higher levels of the protein didn’t move to their locations and the dendrites needed were stunted and did not branch out in order to make such connections within the brain (Nauert, 2014).
I have added below a video in which viewers receive an inside look at what it is possibly like for someone who is dealing with auditory hallucinations. Anderson Cooper from CNN is hooked up to a simulator and is asked to perform several tests, all while the voices are playing non-stop on through his headphones. Watching this video, although not receiving information about what is going on inside the brain, gives a great example and insight into the lives of someone with schizophrenia and auditory hallucinations. The link to the video is below
American Psychiatric Association (2014). Schizophrenia. http://www.dsm5.org/Documents/Schizophrenia%20fact%20Sheet.pdf
American Psychiatric Association (2014). Schizophrenia. http://www.psychiatry.org/mental-health/schizophrenia
Stannard Gromisch, E. (2010). The Dopamine Connection Between Schizophrenia and Creativity. Psych Central. http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-dopamine-connection-between-schizophrenia-and-creativity/0003505
Jardi, N; Pouchet, A; Pins, D & Thomas, P (2011). Cortical Activations During Auditory Verbal Hallucinations in Schizophrenia: A Coordinate-Based Meta-Analysis. The American Journal of Psychiatry. 168(1), 73-81. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2010.09101522
Nauert, R. (2014). Rat Study Suggests Schizophrenia May Stem from Surplus Brain Protein. Psych Central. http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/11/25/rat-study-suggests-schizophrenia-may-stem-from-surplus-brain-protein/77761.html
Hey guys! So this post may be a little upsetting or whatever but as my followers I hope some of this resonates with you.
Today in therapy I was asked who I talk to outside of treatment/individual therapy about when I’m struggling. It’s a question I guess I never really thought about before, but when I was asked it with an intent of receiving an honest answer I couldn’t think of one single person.
Do you know how shitty and alone that made me feel? Hearing myself talk in that session about how I have no one I talk to when shit gets real in my life actually made me feel more alone (yeah I didn’t think that was possible either). But the thing that sucks is that I do have people I could talk to; my issue is that I don’t lean on others when I’m hurting.
I’ve always been a rock when it comes to others and even when it comes to showing emotions. Which is why therapy and treatment is so fucking unbelievably hard. I see people cry their eyes out and I sit back and wonder how they can let those types of emotions out in the presence of others. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, don’t get me wrong. I actually admire them in those moments, because that is real and true fucking shit right there. I’m working against 24 years of this belief that showing others when you cry is weak (emotional scars from bullying, anyone?) and emotions should be held back until you can control them. The biggest thing though is that I’m working against the belief I have that my problem MUST be severe enough to get help or feedback on. So unless I’m dying or my parents died (because to be upset my fucked up mind tells me only my parents are worth crying and mourning and laying in bed for weeks over), there’s really no reason to open my mouth and talk to my friends about things that I find triggering or stressful or whatever. You see my problem?
I fear of becoming the friend who is just the issue of the week. The one who always seems to be depressed (because being clinically diagnosed isn’t justifiable to why I am feeling the way I am) or emotionally unstable. “Bat shit crazy” isn’t something I want to become to my friends, or even the wet blanket of the group. I just want to be normal and have normal 24 year old problems.
So talking to my friends is probably something I should work on. Thanks for listening or reading or whatever you do on this blog, and thanks for letting me rant and bitch for a few paragraphs. Now, on to your regularly scheduled postings!!
I had an idea and I’m not sure what I think of it. I was thinking of doing video entries on here or maybe start actually using my Youtube account to put videos up there and I don’t know if anyone actually reads my blog regularly but if you do let me know what you think? Sometimes it’s easier for me to just rant and go on tangents without having to type it all out.
sooooooooo yeah leave a comment or something and let me know ok?
PS- I hope you all have a super Thanksgiving and weekend!