Waiting for today...: August 2015

Monday, August 24

Article: Self-Esteem for Children

Looking back on years of bullying and the impact on my self-esteem, I got to thinking about other causes of low self-esteem...

Oh how terribly I wanted them to suffer.  I wanted the news of my death to haunt them indefinitely.  Too bad I wouldn’t be around to watch.  What a disappointment. ~ Excerpt from an early draft of Trying Times.  

Writing my last piece took a lot out of me.  As I reflected on one of the most difficult and lonely times of my childhood, I found myself again mourning loss.  Namely that of missed opportunities, to pursue interests, and chances to have an enriched life.  I cursed my lack of coping skills and resilience!  I cursed my insecurities and timidity! In that very moment I hated my life.  But unlike times past, I eventually picked myself up and began to meditate on these things.  

When I discuss rejection, as it relates to my depression, I often admit that I was a timid child.  But I can never go on to give reasons why.  I just don’t know.  Until now I viewed timidity and insecurity as an outcome of rejection and abandonment; the latter I have yet to explore.  But as I continue to explore other consequences, I realize that I grossly underestimated the impact of self-esteem, rather the lack thereof, in early childhood before I moved back to the States.

Insecurity and timidity, or shyness, is actually a result of low self-esteem whereas low self-esteem is a result of rejection.  Entering the Philadelphia public school system helped to exaggerate my low self esteem and expose just how poor my coping skills were; nonexistent, actually.  As stressors multiplied, I didn't reach out for help.  Should I have known to do this?  Did I even feel safe to?

What a heavy burden to endure as a child and for so many years without a means of healthy release.  For me as an adult, it's a startling revelation.  The following article discusses what self-esteem is, why it is so very important even from birth, and what adults can do to foster healthy self-esteem in children.

Children are not born with self-esteem. It is learned through how parents and other important people feel about them, and treat them.

Part of self-esteem is feeling that you have a place in the world where you belong – that you are part of a family where you matter. It is knowing about your roots and having confidence in your future…”

con’t reading “Self Esteem for Children” published at Women’s and Children’s Health Network. Retrieved on July 11th, 2015 from http://www.parenting.sa.gov.au/pegs/peg28.pdf

Wednesday, August 19

A Look Back At: Pretending

Secrets… once they take root, they fester and in time make the secret-keeper ill.  Once blistered, the ill become social lepers...
Loneliness can make a person do desperate things.  What started out as a temporary break from reality turned into years and years of withdrawal from what was becoming my real life. Actually, if I’d remain present maybe my life would have made it more pleasant turn... in time that is.   I could only hope.  In either case, time spent in my head... pretending, did more harm than good in the end.
On the one hand, I made a friend who was verbally abusive, controlling and a thief. On the other, I was faced with almost an entire class of peers that treated me with indifference... I chose to slip into myself again. Except, this time I stayed there a bit longer. I began to imagine and pretend my schoolmates wanted to be my friends. I would not only envision, but would also act out playful scenarios. Like a little girl having a tea party with her stuffed animals. Just as those stuffed animals would be given attributes and personalities, I would give my classmates the same... ~ August 15th, 2014 Welcome Back
I've only spoken about this dirty little secret of mine twice.  The first time was during one of the most difficult times of my life and it was to my bestest friend.  At that time my mother and I's relationship had cracked under the pressure and although surrounded by other people, I still feel most alone and an outcast.  My stress levels were high.  I was reaching... hoping that someone would take my hand, tell me they understood my pain and promise that no matter what they will handle me delicately and with patience. While her sentiment was obvious and authentic, it didn't help me.  Not much changed.
I remember there being an attempt to include me in various activities, gatherings and outings. I remember my second mom telling me, with all good intentions, that it was “okay to talk to yourself”.  Yet I don't remember any of their efforts to seek answers to the “why”; to understand and to help me to understand as I hadn’t tried to wrap my head around it myself. So on the heels of their falling short of helping me, whispers and gestures of indifference and rejection, I was brought right back to the place insecurity.  And I returned to my place of comfort; I kept right on “talking to myself”...  pretending.
Some time ago, I shared this deep secret for the second time, with my therapist.  I can't recall how it came up.  But, I remember having both a sense of uncertainty and consolation. Uncertainty because of the obvious embarrassment.  I thought to myself over and over again how messed up and pathetic she was going to think I was.  And obsessed over whether or not she’s treated anyone more weird.  I wanted so badly to avoid the subject.  I want to continue to hide.  But more than anything, I wanted to get that toxic secret out; release it for good.
Consolation was waiting for me once I finished.  My therapist's’ response was what I had been looking for so many years ago when I first ripped my heart open. I remember her eyes they were sad for me and nonjudgmental.  She said that she couldn't imagine how lonely I felt.  The memories of those times were so vivid.   In the end, I felt safe.  There was even some laughter and let me know that I had finally let go of that strange security blanket.  Or so I thought.
In it’s infancy it was a “creative” way to ease the culture shock and eventual sadness I experienced returning back to the states: new city, new school, no friends.  It should’ve been short-term.  I should’ve been able to adapt.  I should’ve talked to someone… anyone. So many “should’ves”... that don't matter anymore.  I allowed to continue on... to thrive and handicap me.  It fed off my insecurities, played tricks on my self-esteem and soon I feared rejection which gave rise to social anxiety and awkwardness.  It helped to run my life.

Friday, August 14

Friday the 14th: A Light?

It’s been a week since I had to say goodbye to my furry friend.  It’s getting easier.  With her visits in my dreams and my memories of her mischievousness when I hear the sounds of nighttime… it’s getting easier.  But I still haven’t emptied her litter or picked up her food mat.

My mood seems to be balancing.  I’ve been in my head less over the last… day, and I feel more motivated to bring some order back to my life.  For instance, I finally paid my bills after being close to a month overdue.  Still need to pay 2 month overdue taxes on my car and renew my registration.  

Thought to make a to-do list but decided against after my heart started racing.  I’ll just wing it.  I’m sure whatever I get done today will more than I’ve been able to do in the last 4 weeks.  I’ll take whatever I can get.

Spent most of yesterday obsessing over how unattractive I am.  I was torn between reality and perception.  The reality: when I look at myself in the mirror at home I think I’m uniquely beautiful despite having gained close to 50lbs and struggling with adult acne.  But when I leave the comfort zone of my home, the perception is I feel unpretty.  Unattractive.  I think to myself “no one wants me” and “why should they”.

My mom asked about my test results earlier this week.  I haven’t heard anything.  I guess I won’t until I see my psychiatrist… in another month and a half.  I continued on to tell her how I was feeling: useless… worthless; like I have nothing to contribute to this world.  She said that for all of my life she knew I would do great things.  It made me feel better.  Although that feeling was fleeting.  But better than that, it made me feel confident that I could be a bit open with her about my illness.

In my efforts to be transparent about my illness and how it has affected my life and vice versa, I’ve continued to invite others to read my blog.  The latest is a sister in Christ.  She left a comment on my last post that has brought my attention back to my eternal salvation.  *Sigh*  Enter guilt and shame.

Thursday, August 6

Sex, Booze & Hoarding?


Still with acute depression, I’ve fallen heavily into maladaptive coping for maximum distraction.  It feels odd.  Having not done these things in years.  Obviously my faith tapped out early.  I have yet to go to God in prayer or pick up my bible.  Honestly, I feel foolish praying or reading knowing full well I won’t accept the help that comes as a result.  That’s the twisted thinking that comes with seasons like these.  Which is why I’m desperate to keep my mind off it.  Even if it means resorting to debauchery… to maladaptive coping.  Otherwise, I fear that I may find myself an inch away from losing my mind: hysteria, panic attack, impulsivity.  Even self-injury, although I haven’t attempted to harm myself since middle school.  I just get overwhelmingly frustrated at the thought of being here yet again almost two years after starting treatment.  

Yeah, this is a strange one.  So what does it have to do with hoarding?  Me and my colleagues, one a social worker and has worked in mental health for many years, recently got to talking about a patient who is hoarding.  She shared with us how difficult it is to treat a person who hoards.  Their hoarding is so ingrained in their personality, it’s inevitable that they will sabotage their recovery process as change threatens to replace it.  It was as if she was narrating my life.  Sabotage has been part of the story of my life since college.  Being here again.  Fearfully falling back into mal-coping.  Taking so many steps forward only to take many more back.  Has a familiar ring to it.  Now more than ever, I don’t believe I’ll ever reach an optimal level of mental health.  My hope is in vain.