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Monday, July 28, 2014

Give Yourself Permission


*This is actually a continuation of an excerpt from an email I wrote to a friend the other day*

Because of the events over the past year, I have been having issues with dealing with "negative" emotions (sadness, anger, worry, guilty etc.). 

I've been working with my counsellor about this kind of thing, and she's given me some good tools to deal with it. First, she said we need to stop labelling them as "negative" emotions --- all emotions are there for a reason, and it's OKAY to feel that way. Instead, I'm learning to label them as UNCOMFORTABLE emotions, and giving myself permission to feel them. 

Then, I practice giving myself the sympathy and leeway to feel those things that I would give to others. We are often so hard on ourselves with how we feel -- WHY am I sad/angry/jealous/ worried/guilty, what is WRONG with me? But there's nothing wrong...you're feeling those for a reason. We don't question ourselves when we're happy - why do it with other feelings?**

So, now when I am experiencing uncomfortable feeling,  I'm starting to FIRST give myself permission to feel that way, then to SECOND look at why I am feeling that way. What is making me so sad, or angry, or why am I so worried?

Then, in figuring out the reason, I can work through the uncomfortable feelings easier. I can use my scientific/logical side to figure out the best way to deal with those feelings and whatever problem there is causing those feelings (if there is actually one).

Last thing she has taught me is that it sucks to have those feelings, BUT I've felt them before and have GOTTEN THROUGH IT, and come out the other side okay. We are OKAY after feeling that way. I have been angry, worried, jealous or even really desperately sad before, and am OKAY. 

Having these uncomfortable emotions is part of life, and we probably learn the most from them as compared to the happy/sunshiny times. 

As an example, a couple weeks ago I wrote about how traumatic it was to go back to the hospital where I was for two weeks, and how upsetting it was that my doctor warned me about going back to school. In talking through this situation with my counsellor, I realized I was more angry than sad. 

I was first angry about being told I might not be able to do something that I really want. In fact, I realized that she wasn't warning me about it because she didn't think I could do it cognitively (which is why I was upset initially), but was more worried about if additional stress would put me back EMOTIONALLY (because I was really depressed in the hospital for 2 weeks 10 months ago). Now that I know that I crave that kind of stress and challenge - which she doesn't know (she only knows me for those 2 weeks of my life and defines me by that time) -  I know I will be okay. 

I was also angry about how I went back into my "patient" role during the appointment - that I didn't feel like I was my confident, well-articulated, self. I felt  I let myself down, and didn't prove  to her how well I really am doing. Uncomfortable emotions again - so, I had to realize I was allowed to feel that way, and that it's a natural reaction to return to the same "state" you were in during past similar experiences. 

Finally, I know that I might feel this way again when I have another appointment...but that's a good thing because 1) I'll know it's possible I'll feel that way and can be better prepared to deal with those feelings and 2) I am okay after feeling those things, and will be okay the next time too.

It's a whole different mindset to relabel those feelings and give yourself permission and sympathy to feel them. It's a work in progress, but I've been finding it has helped, especially at times when I'm feeling those things. 

**There's the whole thing about societal pressure to be "happy" these days, so of course we're hard on ourselves when we're not because we're not achieving some perfect life. I won't get into this here more than that!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Lunch Box

With Evan starting kindergarten in September, one of my bigger worries is what are we going to send for lunches? He's been having a hot lunch for years at daycare*, and now all of a sudden it has to be cold, easy to open, and something he'll actually eat...and it's ALL ON US.

The easy fallback of peanut butter and jam/bananas/honey/etc. is GONE because of the whole NO PEANUTS thing.

What kinds of things do you send as the main part of lunch?

*If we were millionaires I would totally just keep him in daycare for life!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Randomly on Wednesday

- Still been feeling pretty down about school and stuff since my last appointment with a doctor. I have an appointment with my counsellor to talk about it.

- We went on our first vacation as a family of four! We rented a cottage by a lake nearby and it was glorious! Tough to come home, so we had a couple rough days as we transitioned back to normal life.

- Nothing like having to list emergency contacts who MUST live in the city to make you realize how isolated you are.

- I am in the midst of choosing my courses and schedule for the Fall. I will register in early August. Weird going back to "student" again.

- Tuition is due on August 1st --- UGH! That's gonna hurt.

- I'm taking Evan to his first ever in-theatre movie on Friday! We're going with his best-friend and his mom.

-  In early August, I'm going to a nearby city for a public lecture by Jill Tarter (Jodi Foster's character in Contact was based on her)!

- Just over a month until Evan starts kindergarten and Carter starts daycare!

- My hair is at a very awkward stage.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Kinda Traumatic

I just had a follow-up appointment with my stroke specialist. It was at her clinic, on the same floor I resided on for the first two weeks after my stroke, and it was a bit more traumatic than I expected.

DH was with me, and we were struck with a very medicinal smell as we got off the elevator on the 7th floor and we both were also struck with not very fond memories of the place. It's amazing how much a certain smell can invoke a whole host of memories and feelings.

I felt okay, but when I had my appointment I fell back into the "patient" role. I felt like I  couldn't articulate how well I've been doing, or that maybe I wasn't doing as well as I thought. She asked me what things I still can't do (always the focus at the hospital --- what I CAN'T do.). She seemed very concerned about my moods, and warned me that going back to school might be harder than I expect.

I guess it's part of her job to talk of the negative things, but I just felt so down and a bit demoralized coming out of the appointment. I mean, I just put together this awesome (I think!) scholarship application this week, and am getting excited about our upcoming cottage vacation, but now I wonder if I can handle things as well as I thought.

Then, since I had Carter with me, I decided to do a lap of the floor (just like I used to to test/work my legs when I was there). There were more familiar smells, sounds, and sights that brought me back. It was almost too much when I walked by the high acuity ward and saw a younger women trying to walk with the help of two nurses.

On my way out, I passed the nurses station and ran into the social worker who worked with me there. It took a couple seconds for her to recognize me, but she came over, hugged me, and we had a nice chat. She told me how great it was to see how well I was doing - so at least the visit ended on a positive note.

I couldn't get out of there fast enough though. But, then I got outside, drove home, played with Carter, went to the post office and grocery store, and started to feel normal again.

Sure, I'll always be a stroke patient, I guess...but the doctors never knew how strong, resilient, and smart I am. I can do anything I did before, and will do anything I want to. Yes, school might be stressful, but it's nothing I can't handle.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

9 Months

Carter is 9 months old today, and has taken several "leaps" in the last month!

- He has started to crawl on all fours (but looks like he kind of has one "dragging" behind - but he actually pushes with it). He's very excited to explore absolutely everything in this house!

- He pulls himself up to stand all the time, and can transition well from standing to sitting (with a couple falls from learning that skill).

- He can stand unaided for a few seconds, and has started cruising around furniture.

- He can transition easily from lying down to sitting up.


- He's starting to understand orientation of things. For example, he can put his soother in his mouth himself (YAY!!), and he rotates food like watermelon slices to eat the correct side.

- He has started to use a sippy cup himself, and is getting a bit better (read: not as messy) with his feeding skills.

- He conveys his emotions well! When he's exciting he flaps his arms and claps. When he's frustrated he goes up to the nearest person, bounces up and down on his bum and cries.

- He's been on TV for the first time (during an interview about my stroke experience).

- He has a very clear love for all things Thomas the Train! He stops doing whatever he's doing if Thomas comes on TV. His favourite toys right now are balls, or things that look like balls (like oranges and bubbles).

- He seems to be going through the 9 month growth sport right on schedule (fingers crossed it's short lived!).

- He's interacting more and more with Evan - including rough housing (I see many future years of splitting up fights...


...and a lot of giggling!).