Thursday, September 03, 2020

Rest in Peace to my Therapist of 16 Years

I'm still in shock, at least partially.

Which is odd considering he almost died when he was first diagnosed spring of 2019.

I transitioned back to him, started back with him again, after Christmas last year.  My last appointment with him I think was in the first week of July, not long ago.  And yet it feels like a year or two, in some ways.

I didn't know that was going to be my last appointment.  Though I had been told about a month-ish before that, that he needed a transplant again, and so I figured the odds were lower and his health was less.

But he still saw me, and was the same man/therapist I'd come to know, as sharp as ever.  Though in looking back, maybe a bit more tired than usual.  It didn't seem to affect his work.

I feel guilt typing this out, that I was getting therapy from him while he was struggling with this.  But he addressed that with me and he did have a big question for me, that I answered with some thought.   It regarded weighing the benefits vs. the risks of having continued back in therapy with him again, starting last Christmas, despite knowing his health could take a turn for the worse.  He seemed satisfied with my answer.  Relieved, and maybe even happy, though that wasn't my aim.  My purpose was to give him the pure truth, so he could make whatever assessments he needed to make of benefit/vs. harm of giving therapy, or whatever other assessments he needed to make for his situation.  

I can't begin to express how grateful I am for the gift that he's been in my life.  And especially for the gift of having had the last 7 months of therapy that I did with him.  I tried to keep it to the top most important, what if I never get to see him again beyond this week or this month, type of stuff.  And there was and is some deep stuff, going on.  Repressed childhood trauma stuff.

I learned things from the last 7 months of therapy with him, that I'm still trying to figure out how to describe.  One of them is just how safe he was.  How safe a man could be (though most men aren't.  The sense of youthful wonder I felt, and the work I was able to do on that trauma with him, there's impacts there from our recent work, besides all the other years, that I'll probably be figuring out and feeling for quite some time, especially as I continue the trauma work.

He's had effects on my life that have taught me a feeling that I never could have imagined before.  This will never leave me (well, I have some fear I may forget, but I am not sure this kind of feeling can be forgotten.  I may have some memory issues with the severe fibromyalgia, but, but I don't think I can forget what he did for me.    If I did, I'd probably be close to forgetting things like breating.

I have been struggling with the grief, and with how confusing it is to lose someone so close, in such a unique role and place in my life, who had taught/guided/helped and was continuing to, who was so powerful, how confusing it is to try to maintain a connection to him, our therapeutic relationship, to our work, and to the way we felt.  And yet still to mourn him, which is a letting go, even if I feel too numb sometimes, too in shock, too disbelieving sometimes, to feel that letting go, or to want to.  I'd never WANT to.  But life means there is death.

I've never lost someone really close to me.  Grandparents that I'd see every great once in a while.  A grandmother whom I was around a bit more in the last 20 years of her life, but still not frequently, and she was in such pain for such a long time, that it wasn't difficult to mourn and process her passing.

I have felt and at time still feel lost, confused, numb.  Some anger, but I have problems with feeling I have permission to.  I was working on that with him when he first got sick.
Disbelief.  I am having a hard time even comprehending that he died, because of several things.  I had pictured that there'd be somewhere to go, a grave perhaps, where I could go now and then and work on getting closer to, and eventually, saying goodbye.

That still feels wierd and wrong to me.  But while I understand that people die, and in some ways understand that he's gone, there's partso f me that don't understand it at all.  How all that beauty and light could just be here, and then not be here.

Even though I believe in life after death.  That he's up there, doing the kindest things they'll let him do.  Because he was kindness.  His face should be by kindness in the dictionary.  His sincerity, his honesty, his encouragement, his support, his patience . . . his unwavering faith and hope in you and your potential and capacity to learn, to grow, to be effective and effect change, to work, to learn to feel kinder towards yourself.

So many things that are too numerous.  I keep trying to describe him, as if maybe there's a way I can capture what he was, who he was.  Part of it is that fear of the fading and the distance that will happen and some detail will be forgotten, though some won't.  

I think I'm also trying to find him, like a pet who keeps sitting at the window every day when it's time for his friend to come home.  Not that I'm a pet, it's just that's the feeling of not undersetanding.  I keep feeling like a small child, banging on his office door, crying, and not understanding why he won't open it up and let me in and help me with the bad stuff anymore.

That is one of the difficult things, is being in the middle of that kind of work.  I need to say the most difficult thing is that he, his light, the beautiful, kind person that he is, is not here anymore.  But it is also difficult to interrupt tht kind of work, but that's partly what that big question he asked me was about.  I have no doubt that my answer then was the right one, the truth, for me.  That I learned things that were not able to be learned by study and intellect alone, but that I'd learned that there could be someone so safe, so concerned for my welfare and what had happened to me, that I didn't have to be scared, that Ifelt as though I'd learned what it was like to have a caring father figure.  I'd never known that before.  And the last 7 months before he passed, taught me so much that feels immeasurable.

The benefits outweighed the risks, so he decided, with some input and feedback to his questions from me, and so we had another 5 or 6 appointments.  Even though his loss has been much harder than I could have anticipated, it was still worth it.

This has gone on so long.  I find myself able to process and make progress, sometimes, through this kind of blog writing.  I don't know if I should publish it, though.

If I do, know that this man had a gift that helped so many people, and the effects of his presence here will be felt for a long time to come.

He had a framed saying in his office that read, "A life that touches the hearts of others lives on forever."

He lives on forever, and I do my best to remember him every day, and be kind to myself throughout this grieving.  I'm establishing a habit of looking for positive things and activities, even when I don't feel like it, especially when I feel most depressed, which is challenging and a work in progress, but I feel like it's the best daily thing I can do to honor him and how he gave so much of himself to our work together.

I miss you.  More than I ever could have expressed.  I miss leaning on your strength and quiet confidence, leaning on your hope.  In reflecting on our work, I realized you knew I had hope all along, because I was showing up every week and working, even though I thought I didn't have any.  You KNEW.  I miss your confidence, hope, and caring, and celebrating, that you knew I'd figure out what I needed eventually (with help from you, quite often, but the insight was from me), and that we'd celebrate it, practice it, and build on it.

I think I am struggling with the idea that we aren't going to build together anymore.  Except I've still been learning from you even after your death.  We're still building.  Your love for me helps me have a place to go inside that helps me have the strength to build.  Even with the grief.  I am using my love for you to help me build now, as I used it last year when you got sick.  I figure it's the best I can do with what you've given me.  It's the most honor I can give you, and myself, and a memorial to the trust I placed in you.

I just . . .I still can't say goodbye yet.  We didn't discuss loss or grief that much; I probably should have, more, though I know what you would say about that "should".  I know you would say it's okay for me to be feeling whatever I am feeling.  I just can't say goodbye yet.

Although this blog post is a step towards that, I suppose.

I don't know if I'll post anything else here or not.  I am in some ways embarrassed by much of what I read when I went through the blog posts here recently.  Because I've learned a lot since then.  And yet, I was brave then in some ways, in ways I've forgotten.  I see some beauty in the person I see there, despite the messiness and the neediness.  I see a pereson who didn't know she was on the autism spectrum, which is the biggest why behind so much of me, so much more so than having bipolar, anxiety disorders, etc.  The fibro brain fog messes with things too, but the spectrum stuff . . . I have to have compassion for someone who was doing the best she could with what she knew.

I was brave to put what I did out there.  I've taken some of it down that I'm not comfortable with having out there, but I've left up the things, some of them might have some use for people, and I left up much of the things that touched on therapy with him, and some adjacent things, and a few other life things.

I'd taken this blog down some years ago, so I republished it recently and went through, culling.  I apologize if it blasted anyone's feeds, but I don't even know if feed readers exist anymore.

I am not sure how long I will leave the blog up.  I know I need it for awhile, though I can always access the drafts of things.

I am taking things one day at a time, and on the days the grief and/or depression get bad, one minute at a time if I have to.  

Thank you so much for being you, and sharing your kindness, wisdom, and everything else that you thought would add to therapy, with me.  Thank you for what you did for me, somehow requested of her, when you were first diagnosed and possibly dying, and not able to communicate.  You still somehow did, and that has had an impact on me that I struggle to describe.  Thank you for believing in me, having patience with me, seeing me, hearing me, loving me, listening, helping, being there with me through all the ups and downs and surgeries and diagnoses that kept piling on . ..  .thank you for your determination, honesty, integrity . . thank you for the stories, for the faith and hope and belief.  Thank you for seeing who I could be, and reflecting that in how you treated me, even though it took me so very long to be able to take that in.  Thank you for doing it anyway, even during times when you may have wondered if I'd ever trust you or make progress.  

Thank you for being you, and for your bravery in giving your light to those who needed it, to anyonee who could benefit.

I don't even know how to  . ... cope with that loss.  The loss of you.  It feels too big.  I guess that's why I'm doing it in steps . . . 

I love you.  I trust you.  It took much longer for that latter.  Thank you for being safe, and giving me safety of a kind I couldn't imagine, which is probably one reason it took me so long.  Thank you for being a sanctuary.  Thank you for holding a faith and belief in me, even when I kept falling down.

You are a safe man.  That's not something I ever thought I could say.  Or feel.  

Thank you for being an example of kindness that kindles the flames of the kindness inside me that much higher.  I want to learn to be brave enough to let that out more.

Therapy with you was like flying with an eagle.  Thank you for the gift of you.

I will try to remember our work, what I learned, and try to continue to learn from what you showed me.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

All in Fun or Promoting Stigma? Card Games called The Looney Bin and Tourettes

sThe name itself is stigma-promoting, and the cover art for the game isn't so swell, but lets get past that. What do you think of the game itself, and it's expansion, Looney Bin: The North Wing, from Board Game

The Looney Bin:

The Looney Bin
is a deduction game with fast action - reaction card play that depicts the uproarious occurrences of an insane asylum. The object is to be the first to heal all the patients in your ward by treatment with various therapies. Non phasing player action ability keeps everyone involved for very little down time. Contains 35 patients, 90 staff and action cards, 35 symptom tiles and plenty of therapy chits.

Looney Bin: The North Wing:

Looney Bin: The North Wing allows you to continue the insanity by expanding The Looney Bin game for further fun. Expansion set includes 27 new patient cards and 36 new staff and action cards. One more therapy, Rorschach Ink Blot, doubles the amount of possible cures with 70 new symptom tiles. Also included are more therapy tokens for up to 10 players.

There have been other hospital-based games like Theme Hospital for the computer, and a similar version for Facebook, called Simply Hospital, or something like that, that have "funny" brain or "mental" illnesses; things like King Syndrome, where the person thinks and acts and looks like Elvis, etcetera, and has to get cured by the shrink.

Those two computer games, I've had much more experience with Theme Hospital than Simply Hospital, but I was starting to get bothered by some of the "mental" cases in the latter. In Theme Hospital there were so cartoonish as to be so far removed from real life, although I suppose there are mental patients who believe they are all kinds of famous people, I guess. At least I've seen illness portrayed that way in the movies; I don't know if it's really so.

This Looney Bin game, on the other hand, seems to be much more stigmatizing than the computer games. Then again, I've played an online game called The Asylum for Cuddly Toys; it's in my right-hand sidebar. You try to cure a soft toy of a mysterious mental illness using various therapies. You have to try and deduce things based on what behaviors the treatments cause. Is this game stigmatizing or fun or somewhere in between?

Looney Bin just seemed to set off something in me though. Let me know what you all think, about any of it!

Edited to add: I just found one called Tourettes, which I think is DEFINITELY stigmatizing, or at the very least EXTREMELY tacky.


Tourettes is a game of quick thinking and quicker blurting.

Players take turns flipping over the top card of the deck. The card will have a letter, number, prefix, or symbol, and everyone tries to shout out a word that starts with the same letter as whatever is on the card. The fastest person wins the card.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Collaborative Games

I've been enjoying some collaborative games. One my sister has is called Break the Safe, a game where you are taking back some items that have been stolen and placed in a museum-like place, but they were taken from you so you aren't stealing. Or so it goes, to make it "okay". Anyway, you cooperate together, trading the solutions to solve the booby traps that get revealed beneath red pieces in various rooms, if there's not a key beneath the red piece; you trade for the solution to that particular booby trap. You also get each other out of jail if the dog or guard has seen or smelt you on their rounds; you roll two dice, one is for the guard or dog to get out of their rooms, as well as that same die is your movement die. The other die is the movement die for the guard and dog.

If the "let the guard out of his room" comes up on the one die, you don't move anywhere and the guard comes out and moves how far his movement die says; same for if it says the dog comes out. There's a line of sight rule on the guard, and you have to be more than 6 spaces away from the dog or in a room to avoid detection by the dog. There may be line of sight with the dog too, but it can smell around corners within 6 spaces.

Anyway, you are all cooperating to get to the various rooms to work on the booby traps and you aare doing all this against a timer on the safe in the middle of the building. You decide at the beginning of the game if you want hard, easy, or medium level game, which decides how much time you get. Last time we went medium, and we would've just beat the hard time by less than a minute, it was a nail-biter!

What I quite enjoy about these cooperative games is that its a nice flip on the usual competitiveness and even sometimes greed that can come out when playing regular games. Not that there is anything wrong with regular games, but sometimes people can show some of their . . . let's say not the best of themselves under those circumstances. So it's refreshing to play in a manner that reinforces good communication, positive interaction, and all around fun without that level of competing against each other, because you are competing against the game!

The newer game that I've just found, I bought with birthday money. It's called Forbidden Island and it's by Gamewright Games. The island is sinking beneath you as you play and you continually have to shore up the various tiles the island is made up of as you play. If you don't, you risk losing critical places like the places you need to collect the treasures, your extraction point, and such, The goal is to collect four treasures from the island before it sinks, and you get to use action points each turn for various things like giving treasure cards to other players, moving, and shoring up pieces of the island. Also sometimes for special actions based on the special abilities each archetype you get to play, gets, which are all different, and help make the game different each time you play.

The gameboard is set up differently each time you play since you shuffle the game tiles, ie, the tiles that represent the lagoon, the caves, the temples, etc. and the board is then all different each time.

The rule book encourages you to give each other ideas on how you should use your actions each turn; I like that the book acknowledges this. I really like the positive interaction and communication and teamwork that this, and these kind of games foster.

Plus, they're really just plain fun. This particular one is challenging. I hope to find more cooperative games in the future; if you see any, let me know!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Creatine for Depression & Uradine for Bipolar?

Natural substances treat depression (and bipolar), parentheses and contents added by me, story on, it looks like some study results released today by the University of Utah on two natural substances the body makes or uses; they say creatine is in every cell in the body, and uradine is usually found in breast milk.

The story leads me to feel that these sound really promising, especially since they treated adolescents (granted, I'm not one of those) with bipolar with uradine alone, even, after having treated them with these as supplements to the regular medication.

I'm so excited about this I had to post it before going to bed, staying up a little late but I'm too excited even though it'll be years before this makes it to approval, if it does, for use for people like me. Hopefully there's alot fewer side effects with things like this than with current medications.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

"Your boots have decayed because of scurvy."

Bwa ha ha haha.

My husband was playing a free online pirate MMO that he likes, and they incorporate item decay into the game. When something decays, it pops up a message with a reason for the decay, although he complains that things decay too fast.

Well, as the post title says, he got a particularly ridiculous reason for his virtual nautical boots to decay, and I just couldn't help but post the absurdity of it here for your amusement . . . . .

Should you ever find yourself in a scurvious (not a word, heh) situation, please watch out for your footwear!

Oh yes, he also became suitably nervous for his ship's welfare when he dredged up a treasure chest that contained, among other things, a Kraken-Repellant Necklace . . . . .