The migraine limiter

So I feel great. I’ve had a week of no vomit, almost normal energy levels and have really made the most of it. I’ve worked extra days with clients, I’ve covered other carers time off, I’ve been super involved in my teaching classes… then comes the shit bit. I haven’t slept enough, I’m pretty tired after doing all that extra stuff, and still have 5 days of this week to go, since it’s my on weekend with my client.

What a humbling experience pregnancy has been for me. I physically cannot push through. My limit is lower.

It’s making me re-evaluate how much I pushed for other people’s benefit, when I probably should have been looking after myself. How I learned that. And what I could have learned differently.

There’s an event I’m trying to pinpoint in my youth. A time where I decided to turn inwards and ignore the lessons of the world, and follow instructions from generations. I’m trying to work out how early that happened, because there’s a lot of gunk coming up as I work through who I am as a pregnant woman. And who I want to be as a mother. Of course, I’m going to be precisely and unapologetically me as a mother, but what are my priorities? How do I break cycles without starting new ones. And how do I stay grounded and present.

I’ve felt neither of these things lately. The physical changes have been so overpowering and all consuming, that when I’ve tried to tap in to my higher self, she’s been too far away.

Using my body in classes the last few nights has helped me be back in touch with it. Reclaiming it from the first trimester. And being in touch with my body has helped me connect with my spirit again. With my heart. With myself.

So as I sit with my decision to cancel my client today and go to bed with a migraine instead, I welcome the migraine limiter as a lesson. A lesson to be more honest with myself about my limits. So I can impose them on myself, rather than need the brutal stopper that is a migraine without medication.

Down with the sickness

Well then… the sickness.

Lordy, the sickness. I said to Paul last night that this is the hardest thing I’ve done. Reading that “your body feels alien to you” doesn’t make it feel less alien. I’ve always had so much control over my body. Whether starving it, gorging it, or pushing it to its physical limits while training… this is all completely out of my control.

I’ve lost weight, but gained fat around my middle, I can have the best intentions of having an even remotely productive day- and wake up vomiting violently and uncontrollably instead- throwing every plan but staying sane, out the window.

What an absurd thing to go through. And it be normal. I look forward to meeting this sass ball. Who will apparently be worth it.

I’ve never been this out of control with my health, my body, my well-being. I’ve never been forced to rest so much. And not be ABLE to push through.

None of this is necessarily negative. Just difficult. I’m a passenger on this journey, the baby is already taking over my life. I’m tired.

The initial

People do weird things when you announce a pregnancy. It’s usually a scream. Or a squeal.

“They’re screams of joy” mum assures me… of course they are. But why so much joy? As someone who’s never been clucky, never attached to babies, had fleeting moments of wanting to be a mum but never enough to make any efforts towards it; I don’t understand the joy?

Why don’t people squeal when you start a new hobby? Or a new eating lifestyle?

None of this makes sense. What I’m writing. None of it. My brain is already fucked from hormones. I don’t know what day it is, I don’t know what words are, I’ve probably consumed 2400 calories (my usual daily intake) over the past week and thrown half of it up.

But people’s reactions are really blowing my mind. Why do other people find so much joy in pregnancy? Why is it so exciting? It’s just the thing you do in order to have kids (generally speaking. I’m never intending to offend of trigger anyone who is having or has had trouble conceiving)… also, it’s just one of the most natural things that we can do as a species. One of the most primal things we do. Have sex: make babies. I wish I could be bothered researching different cultures and the way they receive news of pregnancy, because while mum defiantly says “women in remote African tribes DEFINITELY scream with joy at pregnancy announcements” when asked, I’m not so sure. I think it’s a super westernised response, and conditioned through generations. Which is fine. But why. What happened historically to make people scream in 2019 when I say “I’ve just found out I’m pregnant, so I’ve been struggling with nausea a lot”.

I’ve told more people than many women probably would. Because this has changed my demeanour so much that people are noticing and asking if I’m ok and saying they’re worried. My energy level is usually through the roof. Especially at work, at the studio, with friends. So for me to be sleeping ALL day, and throw up constantly- having to excuse myself from my students to vomit mid class- something’s different. So I’m just telling people. And I don’t know what future chez will think about that. But I’d rather have everyone on board and know where I’m at so I don’t bail on something without an explanation when my mental health is doing so well.

Anyway. Here’s that. There’s that. Why do people scream?

Signposts

So as all the fog clears and my feet touch the ground again, messages from the universe start to trickle back through in a language I understand.

Having to physically stop due to illness gave all parts of me time to catch up with each other. And the unison it creates is safe, and still, and resoundingly powerful. Mind, body, spirit are a team again, and I’m trying to bottle this feeling so I might recognise when it starts to slip away again. Of course, I won’t; that’s the nature of this cyclic existence, but the more aware of this state I am, the less time I might spend away from it in each cycle.

I want to write more about this. But the words aren’t here yet. I might edit this post. I might just write another one later. Stay here. Stay present. Stay in touch. This moment. Not future. Not past. This is the only one that exists.

Cry. Cleanse. Flow.

Releasing that which no longer serves you is exhausting work. You head into it thinking “oh, I’m gonna be so much lighter and my heart less cluttered, and life is going to be so sunny” until you realise, if you were perhaps holding on a little too tightly, that release means burning with anger, waking up in tears and feeling like a tornado- completely out of control and unstoppable. Scary. Lonely. Tiring. We held on for too long because it was comfortable, and we maybe thought we could be immune to all this release yuck, if we just didn’t release.

We all do this. Hold on too tightly to things we think we need, think we deserve no better than, or think we’ll be worth less without. Finding that magical balance where we’re woke enough and still enough to let go early enough that it’s a gentle flow but not so early that we don’t learn from it seems a very distant and impossible dream when you’re neck deep in self-actualising sludge.

The cool thing though, about having a big, dramatic, angry, tearful release, is that it usually brings up a whole lot of other things that we need to let go of… or RE let go of because we grabbed back onto them as we flailed about in the uncertainty of release. So we get to work on these things again, and grow a little more.

The tangible stuff is easy to identify; you break up with the friend, or the partner, you quit the job, you move suburbs or states or just houses. The big, practical things are easy (if not complex), but it’s the intangibles that slip in and poke at you quietly while all the other noise is demanding your attention… it’s those bastards that need the soul work.

Fear, self doubt, an overactive inner critic; tearing apart an already fragile version of yourself and weaving their way through the chaos of that big release we’re working on in the physical realm. Filling gaps where light and positivity might have shone through and making the whole situation look daunting and messy and overwhelming.

For the moment, I’ve just shaken off the fog and gathered this whole mess into a slightly more manageable pile. I can see the edges of it, and, therefore I can see past it, and around it, and realise that it’s just that, a manageable pile of mess to sort through. Kinda like my house, all the time (ha). I’ll pick up a piece at a time and work through where it fits and let go of everything I no longer need, that no longer serves me. I’m basically Marie Kondo-ing my inner world. This might take a few days, a few weeks or a few months. But it certainly won’t take long before that big pile becomes a few smaller ones, and I’ll feel like I can face the world a bit easier than the last couple of weeks have been.

Soul work is hard work. But it’s so worth the effort.

Full moons over the range

This place completely quiets my soul.

From the moment I drop over the mountain, a calm consumes me. Sleepy, haunted towns and vast rolling hills welcome me home. The air is clearer, the sky is brighter and the people are happier.

Lots to ponder on this sneaky overnighter. How fortunate that the moon is full, so sleep is a stranger, and I can let my mind slow and my heart dream. My world is so changing at the moment. I’ve dived head first into a big turbulent shift that I’d been watching roll over the horizon for months now. I’ve taken some punches with this one so far, as expected, but I’ve righted myself quickly, and not spent too long in the fog, the darkness, or the fire.

For sure, I’m not done. This journey is just beginning, but I’m so proud of myself for how I’ve managed this wave thus far. I’ve had awakenings about the truth of me; my worth, my power. My ability to heal myself and others… And where I need to be focusing my energy moving forward.

A dream has come true, a perception has been shattered, and a goddess is emerging. I’m ready for what the universe is bringing me.

A full moon. In an enormous country sky. Eyes are back on the prize. The prize has evolved a little, and it looks pretty exciting.

Ready, set, tantrum

How do you support someone who isn’t ready to be supported? How do you find that balance between caring enough that you are helpful, while not caring so much that you burn yourself out flogging a dead horse, so to speak. No one can heal without first deciding they’re ready to heal. All the therapy and support and interventions and medication in the world can’t help someone who has decided they’re not up for helping themselves. And I get it. I’ve been there. Wanting someone to “fix” me, make me “better”, give me the answers. But no growth happened in that space. I simply became a victim of my own life and my own decisions… and the funny thing about holding a victim mentality, is that it’s never your fault, never your responsibility, so you just hand the blame from person to person and continue perpetuating your victimhood.

As soon as you own your life, and your decisions; things start changing. It’s a fact that nobody can run your life better than you can. Even if you’re a mess of an adult, you’ll do a better job of it than anyone else could ever do. Every decision you make is the right one for you at the time. Whether it takes you on a magical journey of happiness or shoves you into a messy pile of lessons you didn’t want to learn, it was the right choice. Because YOU made it.

So how do we support those who don’t want to be supported and are happy and comfortable and safe in their victim mentality? I don’t have the answers. I’m writing this to try to work it out myself… at uni we were drilled about not being able to “save everyone”. This was such an important lesson for so many of us. At some point, as therapists, without doing damage to our clients, detach… ok, so how do we detach from our stagnant clients without damaging therapeutic relationships?

I think, in the simplest form, we need to take all our fucks back. When I meet a client, I offer them one of my fucks that I have to give. And see if they accept it. Most do, because they see each new person as the promise of solving all their problems for them without having to do any work themselves. As the relationship progresses, you can offer them a couple more, invest a little more and develop a healthy attachment. Often, though, at some point, the client will start trying to hoard your fucks. Their inner child starts demanding attention, and throwing tantrums, sulking and withdrawing, trying to get comfort and soothing from an external source. While they’re in child, they’re not healing. Instead they’re projecting, putting walls up, resisting all change, resisting all help. I’m not, for one second trying to minimise the real anguish related to depression, anxiety, ptsd etc… this is all connected, but very different.

So we have a stand off… clients hoarding the fucks we’ve given them without using them, or respecting them, and us feeling the draining sensation of being clawed at energetically, in sometimes the most hostile of ways, because they’re hurting and feeling us standing our ground and not giving any more fucks… gently collecting our fucks back from them, it feels like a game, which I suppose it is… in a way. Because life is a game. Standing our ground with all of our fucks tucked safely away. We can be kind without giving up of ourselves. And if our clients aren’t going to appreciate or respect us, we absolutely do not need to tolerate it.

The next chapter usually consists of more tantrums and triggers and resistance. But that’s ok. Stand firm, calm, kind. The chapter after that is usually a humbled and slightly bettered human, asking politely for support, and you may feel inclined to rerelease that original, recharged fuck for them to hold as a reminder that you care.

Today I give no fucks. They’re all mine. If my clients aren’t going to use them, I’ll take them back. There’s a lot of energy in them that I could use for myself right now.

You might need to revisit this question a hundred times throughout the course of someone’s journey through mental illness. Some days they will be more willing than others, some days they will cling tightly to everything that destroyed them because they know nothing else.

If you’re a healer, remember that you can’t save everyone, and not everyone you meet will be ready to be saved in this chapter. But you’re still an important part of their journey, so don’t give up because the universe needs you.

Dirty work

Lately I’ve had this beautiful balance of hard work on inner self, and limitless abundant bliss. I’m not working on the hard shit for a few weeks anymore, it’s a couple of days of reflection followed by a few days or a week of deep, true happiness. It’s an incredible ride. But I’m exhausted.

There’s no highway exit where you have a little no-mans-land to cleanse your palate before being awash with the fresh emotions of the next wave, it’s more like emerging from a sauna after an hour or 2 and diving into fresh, powdery snow… shocking. Invigorating. But by the time I’ve adjusted to one climate, it’s changed on me again, and I find myself inappropriately psychologically dressed for the situation.

Supporting my clients is getting easier. I’m getting fit for this sort of work. I’m not as externally drained anymore. Which is amazing. I’d been fearful of the inability to regulate myself when dealing with clients on the reg, and that I’d be burned out before even having a chance to begin. But internally, I almost feel like a passenger on my own journey. Like I’m watching myself get pulled this way and pushed that way, and dragged around like a mum of twins in a lollyshop. Removed from it. But still very much feeling the end results.

What am I uncovering? What’s being unlocked? I’m loving myself more. I had a moment over the weekend where I had my whole experience with mental health and self esteem played out in front of me like a training montage in a movie. When it finished, I felt a gentle weight on my chest as if to ask “well, what do you have to say about that?” And I was shocked to hear myself talk about how proud I was of myself. How much darkness had shrouded my soul and how triumphantly my soul has shone through. How such a broken and battered relationship could heal so completely. Someone that I hated, is becoming my deepest love- myself. Seams of gold rippling iridescently though shattered sections of my life. Repaired and beautiful, and safe. It was such a beautiful meditation and I’m so grateful.

Today I need alone time… Last night I didn’t want to be alone. It’s gentle. The emotions aren’t harsh. But the flickering between them is laughable in its intensity. It’s a ride. I’m glad I can enjoy my journeys now. I used to hate the journey. Always focusing on the destinations… but the destinations never came. Cuz there are no destinations. Only the journey.

It’s been a while…

“Write”, I urged myself. “Just write.

“Just sit down with a blank page and let things fall out of your head. Don’t think about it. Just do it. That’s when you’re most raw, most honest, most profound.”

I don’t think I’ve ever felt so lost and so settled in my life. The deeper I dive into my own personal growth and spiritual journey, the more out of touch I feel with so much of the world. I uncover deep wounds and heal them, I explore new perspectives of old opinions and play with their application in my life, yet the more I try to explain it, the more crazy I feel. It’s hard to pull yourself out of your own world, where you’re learning and hurting, and healing and trying to understand why you are. Most times, I don’t WANT to reconnect with the world. It’s hostile out there. It’s selfish and unjust, and cruel. But when I do reconnect, I find smiles, mutual exchanges of energy between strangers and excellent coffee.

My life at the moment is a bit… I’ll find the word later… my days consist, through supporting my clients, of revisiting my darkest hours. Seeing myself in my clients tears and anxious fidgets. My days are so controlled, spiritually, energetically. I hold space for clients without saying a word and allow them to feel things that they normally don’t make time for, or feel silly for feeling, or wanted to avoid. Sorry. Sometimes you gotta feel them. And I’m right here with you.

Of course this has had an impact on my inner world. I’m seeing so much severity and cruelty in the stories these beautiful women are sharing and I feel blessed to have made it out the other side of black holes and self destruction. I’ve recognised some guilt coming out of that too. Guilty that I had such an incredible mother to literally keep me alive through those days, nights, weeks that I was staring helplessly into the abyss. She held my tether and let me stand there as long as I needed to, but when I collapsed, she pulled me towards her instead of allowing me to tumble over the edge, and resuscitated me with unconditional love. Guilty that I’ve found incredible connections with therapists and not had to spend half my energy FINDING one let alone working with one. Guilty that I had the eduction opportunities that I’ve had. Guilty that I’m using my hardships to see right through all my clients’ defences and protective words.

It’s the guilt that has been eating at me.

Apparently.

Guilt was my go-to emotion. Guilt was what I worked on for so many years with my therapist who has helped shape who I am as a mental health worker, and who inspires me to be an incredible counsellor one day. Guilt. And fear. Fear I’ve worked through a bit with timeline therapy and hypnosis more recently… but guilt… guilt because I had ALL THIS and still managed to struggle with anxiety, depression and eating disorders. What right do I have to feel like that when I’ve lived such a charmed life. Only child, incredible humans for parents, ponies, puppies, music, whatever extra curricular I wanted.

Of course, this guilt is unfounded, irrational. It’s the same as feeling guilty for getting cancer, or MS, or a headcold. Mental illness doesn’t discriminate between socio economic groups, or ethnicity, or religion. Mental illness is an illness. I fought mine with support because I was MEANT to get through it and flourish. Because I’m MEANT to support these people now.

When my clients ask me if I’ve ever felt like I just wanted to stop existing, I can, and always do, respond honestly with “yeah. Yeah I have. It’s a really dark place to be, and I’m sorry that you’re there. I’ve felt that” I don’t want to make them “feel better”. What they’re feeling now is valid, and real, and important. And they need to know they’re not alone feeling like that, that they’re not weird, broken, unworthy.

Weekly, I hear “my life sucks, sorry” at least 3 times. My vibration increases, my breathing slows, and I offer them some of my energy, (Silently. There’s so much of my work that doesn’t involve words). My life sucks. I remember saying it. Feeling it. Thinking it. Always told I was ungrateful and spoilt… No! My life, inside my head, was a fucking nightmare. Constantly telling myself awful, hateful things. “You’re not worthy, you fucked up, you’ll never make it out of here, you’ll never achieve anything, give up, fatty, no one will love you with a chin like that, a nose like that, a belly like that, hands like that, a face like that”

Now I hear my clients indicating that their head it telling them these things and my heart breaks for them. No one is louder than your own inner critic, your own self doubt. They scream at you. Inside your head becomes so noisy and impossible. People tell you things from the outside that get run through the “hate-filter” in your head before you hear them. Then people get angry that you didn’t listen to them…

Sometimes my heart remains heavy. If I’ve had a hard week myself (like this week), I tend to stay a bit too connected to my clients and my heart feels a little weighed down. Writing this made me realise that I’m carrying some stuff that isn’t mine. And now I can work on letting that go before I get to my next client, so I can support her fully.

“Write”, I urged myself. “Just write”.