I want to express my sincere thank you for all the heartfelt comments on my post “A Tiny Glimpse Inside a Neurotic Head.” And again, thank you to my editor, Holly, who insists I be as real as I can be, which means I write about wanting to be dead when those are the primary thoughts running throughout my head.
I sat down with both my therapist and my psychiatrist this week, and they outlined a plan for me to follow the next four to six weeks. I thought I’d let you in on it, in case some of these steps help you, too.
1. Continue to exercise as much as I can. Now is not the time to worry about the eating disorder in my past and weight issues. If working out gives me some relief from the death thoughts, then I should get my heart rate up whenever I can. Hell, I may even train for an Ironman!
2. Continue to use my light lamp for 30 to 45 minutes a day.
3. Distract myself whenever possible. In the words of Dr. Smith: “Don’t try to think yourself out of the thoughts. Any attempts to do that will most probably make them worse. Instead try to simply distract yourself.” She told me to forget about the cognitive and mindfulness strategies for the time being. They can help later on, when the death thoughts don’t have such a hold over me.
4. Rest whenever possible. My therapist friend Elvira Aletta, helped me immensely the other day when she told me to treat the intense death thoughts like you would contractions when you’re in labor. You have to rest between the spikes of intense pain in order to sustain enough energy to get through the pangs. Because dealing with the thoughts take up so much energy, it is crucial to rest during the reprieves.
5. Allow time for crying and collapsing. In order to be able to fake it so much throughout my day, I have to allow myself time to come down, cry, punch my pillow, scream at God, and be real–scared to death of these morbid thoughts inside my head.
6. Bump up my therapy to once a week. Dr. Smith suggested that seeing my therapist biweekly might not be enough support during this difficult time. She suggested that I see my therapist weekly at least for a month or two.
7. Get additional support. Like babysitters. Continue to be proactive about getting good help so that I can allow myself more time to get my work done, and provide some much-needed cushions in case I’m not that productive. I’m going to use the aftercare service that the school provides once a week even thought the kids hate it. It won’t kill them, and it will give me the luxury of another hour or two.
8. Be honest with Eric and a few close friends. Lord knows most people aren’t going to understand that I can’t get death off my mind, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t open up to anyone. I have to be truthful with Eric to allow him to be there for me, and friends like Michelle and Mike kept me alive four years ago. They are there for me again.
9. Increase my meds. Dr. Smith increased my Zoloft by 12.5mg, a very slight amount, and if that doesn’t make a difference, she said to increase it by 25 mg.
10. Forget about meditation. The 15 minutes of silence in the morning that is supposed to center me is not going to be helpful at this point. The open space is an invitation for the ruminations to begin and make me feel badly. So instead, I have printed up all the comments from my “A Tiny Glimpse Inside a Neurotic Head” post and have been reading them. The self-battery doesn’t have as much as an opportunity if I am reading affirmations about myself as when I’m trying to quiet my thoughts.
11. Avoid unsupportive people. Until I feel stronger, I simply need to stay away from the folks in my life that believe that I’m only feeling badly because I want to feel badly. If that means skipping a family dinner, then I need to do that.