Waiting for today...: June 2014

Friday, June 27

A Prelude to Aloneness

re·ject  [v. ri-jekt; n. ree-jekt]

verb (used with object)
1. to refuse to have, take, recognize, etc.: to reject the offer of a better job.
2. to refuse to grant (a request, demand, etc.).
3. to refuse to accept (someone or something); rebuff: The other children rejected him. The publisher rejected the author's latest novel.
4. to discard as useless or unsatisfactory: The mind rejects painful memories.
5. to cast out or eject; vomit.

One of the first breakthroughs I had after beginning therapy was my recognition of  the role that rejection has played in my depression.  Naturally it would be a good starting point; my “square one”.  The word “rejection” has its roots in the Latin language meaning “thrown back”.  When a person is rejected, they tend to not only come to a standstill but they feel "thrown back" or turned away from the direction in which they were going.  Being on the receiving end of consistent social rejection in earlier years, I am all too familiar with its abrasive and condemning messages of non-acceptance.   In researching this topic, not only have my feelings been validated but I’ve also found optimism that I can heal from the damage that has been done.   

Humans are sensitive to rejection...

Humans are social creatures.  Our need for positive and long lasting relationships are as important as our need for food and water.  Anthropology teaches us that humans are hardwired to fear rejection.  For example, ancient civilizations depended on one another for food, shelter and protection.  They knew that without the group, their chances of survival were minimal.   With today’s modern conveniences, a person can survive on their lonesome.  But, chances are that existence is not a happy one.  

Rejection hurts!

Several studies, including one conducted by a ULCA-led team of psychologists found that certain areas of the brain respond to the pain of rejection in the same way as to physical pain.   In another study, scientists found significant activity in the parasympathetic nervous system in response to social rejection.  The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for the body at rest, whereas the sympathetic nervous system is active during “fight or flight”.   In this study, the heart rates of the participants slowed in response to and in anticipation of rejection.  In some instances, heart rates took longer to return to baseline.  The results of these studies deduce that our bodies can shut down, not only in response to  physical pain, but also to social pain.  

Rejection brings with it “learned helplessness”…

After facing rejection some may become overwhelmed with feelings of hopelessness which then gives way to helplessness.  This reaction is similar to that found in a series of experiments  involving canines.   These canines previously learned that nothing they did prevented them from being shocked and when placed in a new environment where they could easily escape the shocks, they instead laid helplessly and whined.  When rejected, some feel as though nothing they do will bring about any desired effect.   In response to this, they often stop trying.  This phenomenon is termed learned helplessness by the scientific community.  This helplessness is also learned vicariously through the misfortunes of others.

Rejection has the potential to leave long lasting effects and is just one among many negative things that happens during the course of life.  As I explore particularly painful experiences of rejection, I am first facing my fears and no longer taking the blame as the reason for the insults.  Secondly, I am also acknowledging how my responses to rejection has helped keep me afflicted.         

University Of California - Los Angeles. (2003, October 10). Rejection Really Hurts, UCLA Psychologists Find. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 4th, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/10/031010074045.htm

Weir, K. (2012, April). The Pain of Social Rejection.  Monitor on Psychology.  Retrieved March 6th, 2014 from www.apa.org/monitor/2012/04/rejection.aspx

Arene, C. (n.d.). The Most Important Step to Overcoming Rejection. Originally retrieved March 6th, 2014 from http://www.4therapy.com/life-topics/family-relationships/divorce/most-important-step-overcoming-rejection-2661.  Can now be found at http://coachingparalalibertad.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-most-important-step-to-overcoming.html  

Durayappah, A. (December 16th, 2010). Rejection: A Loser’s Guide [Web log post].  Retrieved March 4th, 2014 from www.psychologytoday.com/blog/thriving101/201012/rejection-losers-guide

Sunday, June 22

Pressing On: Where I Am, Part 2

con't: ...Part 1

I am putting this patience into practice by being more cognizant of those instances in which I pressure myself and in those moments asking myself “why the insistence?”  The answer I most often receive is related to the  expectations held over me from past relationships, an issue I’m sure I’ve touched on previously.
I’m heavy laden as I continue in my process as those expectations remain connected to the people who declared them; the people being a focal point of my resentment.   While I cannot separate the person from the relationship, I can no longer plague my relationships with the remembrance of those unrealistic, unfair burdens.  Trouble is, I don't know how without separating myself.
In the meantime, I continue to accept my condition; my condition being so much greater than the depression itself.  I’ve come to such a healthy place of acceptance that I’ve invited several loved one’s to follow along on my journey, including my mom.  Deep breath in… exhale.
my faith...
A short time before He was put to death, Jesus warned Peter of the enemies desired to have him that he may try his faith (Luke 22:31-32).  That Jesus would pray for him, that he would not lose his faith, must have been comforting knowledge for Peter.  Faith protects (Ephesians 6:16).  Faith is necessary (Hebrews 11:6).  And so is prayer (Philippians 4:6, 1 John 5:14-15).
Communication is vital to every relationship.  God communicates with us through the scriptures (Hebrews 1:1-2).  We communicate with Him in prayer.  Another area in which I am failing.  I rarely set aside time to earnestly pray. Barriers I set up for myself include “I don’t know what to say”, saying the same prayers over and over again, placing my faith in the belief of others and the most despised "you're not doing it right".
It is vital that I strengthen these foundations: faith and prayer.  I've found encouragement and knowledge through online preaching’s and teachings. Between these and the Word of God, I receive enough faith to keep me hopeful.  In regards to prayer, I’ve said it in the past: fake it til you make it.  That is, continue to approach the throne of God, day by day overcoming my fear, until my maturity in the faith brings with it real confidence.  
my career...
I can honestly say I am less enthusiastic about my career as I have been in previous years.  I thank God often that I am no longer at the bedside.  However, at this stage in my life continuing to climb the corporate ladder is more of a bother.  A threat even, to my mental wellness.  Working harder professionally means having to work even harder to maintain balance between mind, body and spirit.  Thinking about the mandatory certification exam for case management alone throws me into a panic.
Although my motivation at work waxes and wanes, I do enjoy my job.  The long awaited change in hours has helped.  Interactions with patients uplift me.  I feel accomplished when I am able to make near impossible arrangements for those with complex cases.  The additional distraction of busy work certainly keeps my mind occupied.  On the other hand, I equally enjoy returning home at the end of the day.

I’m thankful that I’ve come as far as I have since the dreadful closure of 2013, even since February of this year.  While I have so much farther to go, I’m hopeful for what will be the end result.   I’m weary of the risk of falling into old patterns but I profit nothing by rushing this process.   I will also profit nothing without strengthening my relationship with God.  I’m not going to make it the rest of the way without him (John 15:5).

“Till I become what he wants me to be, yeah, I press…”
I Press by Fred Hammond & Radical for Christ

Tuesday, June 17

Pressing On: Where I Am, Part 1

my mood…
It was late March when my depression finally lifted.  Since then my mood has not strayed too far from normal.  I have been mostly successful keeping two of my three priorities: hygiene and home.  I have also been consistently social.  There was a week in May in which I found myself becoming increasingly irritable.  I saw my therapist at the end of the month and thought that I would be fine.  However, I was sad after my session and fearful that depression was sinking in again.  Thankfully, a while later, I pinpointed the reason for my sadness and plucked it.
As I move into June and July, I would like to incorporate the following into my lifestyle: meal planning for mind and body, mindfulness for mind and emotion, volunteering for soul and spirit.
my treatment…
I have continued my psychotherapy and medication regimen.  I can thankfully say my medication dosages have remained the same and still no side effects: Lamictal 100mg daily  and Celexa 20 mg daily.
I’ve had significant improvement since beginning therapy.  Therefore my therapist and I have begun experimenting with reducing the frequency of my visits from every 2 weeks to every 3-4 weeks.  It is necessary to eventually cut that umbilical cord if I am to be in control of my own wellness; if I am to avoid developing yet another case of accidental co-dependency.  Knowing I am able to make an appointment at any time has lessened my initial anxiety about this.
I understand how important nutrition is for mental health as well as physical health.  So, over the last few weeks, I have been focusing a bit more on my diet.  On the other hand, beginning an exercise routine, at this point, is terribly daunting.  Because I already have days where I feel stretched, I don’t want to take on too much too soon.  Compared to diet and meal planning, I would have to make a greater effort to incorporate exercise into my days.   
breakthroughs and relationships...
I've known depression longer than I've known myself… an eye opening revelation that I came to a short time ago.  It's a relieving truth because I now have a chance of a whole new life.  For the first time, I'm finding contentment in the quirks and other aspects of my personality that have otherwise been quelled.  For instance:
▫   I am indeed a home body. I enjoy spending time with people but tire easily from certain social situations.  For this reason, I need respite time with myself.
▫   My attention span does not allow me to complete large tasks.  I will eventually find ways to procrastinate; feelings of failure will set in some time later.  Therefore, I need to divide large projects into smaller ones, even move on to an entirely different project, to break up the monotony allowing a return to the first with a renewed interest.
▫   I’m more of an evening person than a morning person.  Bedtime is often after midnight.  Yet, my internal clock still wakes me between 6 and 7am to which my usual response is to return to slumber.  If I should arise at that time, the perfect morning would be to do a bit of cleaning, have a light breakfast followed by a mid-morning nap.
While this revelation is relieving, it is at the same time troubling.  The conditions are optimal to slip back into damaging habits.  I’m also reminded of how difficult the process will be.  Known to beat myself up over very miniscule things, I've been trying to be easy and more patient.  A ramification of my impatience is regression… very costly.

continue to: ... Part 2

Thursday, June 12

Thursday the 12th: Time

image found at I Can Has Cheezburger?

Although I have more time off,
I haven’t quite set aside enough time each of those days to write.
I also have to incorporate time to prepare for my Case Manager Certification, oy…
My days off over the past week or so have been filled with both joy and sorrow:
joy spending extra time with my brothers and sisters in Christ
sorrow nursing my sick kitty.
I have been reading about myself though… very interesting.

Saturday, June 7

This Little Piggy...

Posing peacock at the Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth Archeological Park in St. Augustine Florida...

Depression wreaks havoc on the piggy bank.  Unfortunately, the loss of interest doesn't stop at pleasurable activities.  The hopelessness makes me ask "what does it matter anyway?".  And the fatigue is not only in body but also in mind.  April was the first time I seriously took a look at my budget again.  But it was the month of May that shook my senses.  To get an approximation of how much I may have overspent, I tracked my spending for that month.  I did not make great efforts to curb my spending during this time, I just tracked.  Then in angst, I assessed the damage .  Last month I was more than a weeks worth of income over my budget.  That's not saying much at all to the uninformed.  But to me, it was the worst yet.  So I can safely say that from September to May I may have lost almost three months of income to frivolous spending and over indulgence.  All in effort to mollify my sorrow.  Some steward!  First, time and now this.  Revisiting my financial goals has again made me cognizant of my spending habits.  I'm no coupon extremist but I am making an effort to curb my spending in other ways.

As a child, I remember being fascinated by everything around me.  I took to drawing early, trying to capture those things.  My earliest remembrance of this fascination is from elementary school.  Instead of paying attention in class, I went about trying to recreate a design I saw on a hand-woven bag.  My creativity has waxed and waned since then.  As I grew up and became aware of cameras, my interest shifted from drawings to photos.  It never evolved beyond pointing and shooting however.  And just as I lost my passion for drawing and “less than amateur” photography, I lose my desire to write from time to time.  I am almost certain it is related to my instability.  So on days like this, when I’m speechless and lacking or time simply eludes me, I’ll share instead one of my photos in hopes to somehow keep my diminished creative flow from dying altogether.

Monday, June 2

Hair: A Metonymy, Part 2

con’t from: … Part 1

While I still struggled with my physical appearance in college, namely my wardrobe, my hair got much need rest.  During this time, I did not have the finances to have my hair done professionally and my stylist back home told me to quit relaxing my own hair.   Aforetime I learned to protect my hair with the use of scarves at bedtime and limiting the heat applied during styling.  In addition, I did wear my natural curls on a few occasions.  I would always go back to flat ironing my hair though as it would dry out and become increasingly difficult to manage.  But I did give up the relaxers and color for good.

Following The Herd.  I walked into a nail salon the other day to actually get a manicure.  Something I have not paid for in years.  It amazed me how packed it was.  Sure it was a Friday, but I thought of all the money spent, how often it was spent and disposition of these gals’ budgets.  It’s really none of my business. I just find it amazing that we, I’m talking about women, feel it necessary to file into salons every Friday or Saturday.  Keeping up with physical appearances to the point that I spend a hundred to two each month is just not my thing...~April 2008

Listening to others too intently about fashion and style, I didn't know what my aesthetic was.   But obeying the gospel made me question everything I thought I knew about life and living.  I took baby steps toward shedding the self-hate I attained by way of destructive criticism received since high school.  It wasn't until after short lived romance a couple of years ago did I finally begin to take stock of what was beautiful to me.  I came to find that a person being comfortable and confident in their own skin is what was most beautiful to me and something that I never quite experienced.  

As a black woman, flaunting my natural curls was a bold statement.  But more importantly it was a huge step toward self-love and acceptance... finding and securing my own identity.   Failing in so many ways to fit it in but being praised for having “good hair” led to the over processing of my hair.  I simply felt unpretty and unaccepted otherwise.  Over the two years that I have been naturally curly I've fallen in love with my hair.  Although my routine is more involved than before going curly, it excites me to try nourishing homemade recipes and, on occasion, minimally damaging styling techniques.  I am also gratified as I explain my hair care routine and offer up encouragement to those ladies ready to explore their natural curl potential.  Most of all, I love watching my curls transform.

The new love I found for my natural curls has also spread to other facets of my life.  As I began to discover that the person who I'd become was not the person that I wanted to be, I no longer wanted to fit that standard of society or subculture:  the same which taught me self-hate.  I eventually cleared my closet, makeup draw and jewelry box of everything that I viewed as fraudulent and started from scratch.  Then I moved through the rest of my home and found freedom in less.   Less meant not spending hundreds of dollars or hours putting forth a certain persona to still feel uncouth, worrying if I would be acceptable to the group.  I am on my way to being acceptable to me… to be absolutely free.