Sunday, April 1, 2012

I should have done this a long time ago

Therapy. I should have done therapy a long time ago. I tried a few times, but never liked the therapist. In the past twenty years I've seen three therapists, one session each. They all gave me books to read and lots of homework. I often thought, I'm paying you, you should have read the books and then give me the Cliff notes.

The therapist I'm seeing now is also called a "life coach" and specializes in helping people deal with stress and anger. I've known her for about ten years through Toastmasters (which I haven't attended in over two years). I've always liked her and enjoyed her company. It turns out she's an amazing therapist, and better yet, she sees me on weekends so I don't have to leave work for a "doctor" appointment every week.

After only two sessions, I'm already developing the tools to deal with my life. I feel so much better. No hives last week for the first time in five weeks. Although I did have what I guess would be called an anxiety attack on Thursday night.

I was at the gym at 6pm. I had experienced a terrible visit with my sister on Wednesday afternoon, when I visited her during her physical therapy session. I don't want to relive it, but she was filled with anger and frustration. It was awful and I left in tears. I've heard of this behavior from her before, but I had never witnessed it. To see my sweet, beautiful sister act like a bratty two-year old was more than I could handle.

The anxiety attack started while I was on the elliptical, thinking about what had happened the day before with my sister. Suddenly, I couldn't breathe. I was determined to get in at least thirty minutes on the elliptical, but my breathing got progressively worse. I realized I was in trouble. It was like an asthma attack, which I haven't had in over 20 years. It was a feeling of impending death, of my own death. And the unreasonable fear that I couldn't explain or define. I was scared, but I didn't know why. Death? I don't know. The two were intertwined.

I quickly left the gym and sat in my car for thirty minutes, practicing breathing techniques for relaxation and trying to calm down. I didn't know if I should call 911 or my husband or just drive myself to the nearest emergency room. I had my heart rate monitor on, and usually after a workout my pulse will go from 145 to 56 in a couple of minutes. Even though I was sitting still, my heart rate stayed at a steady 100 or more for a full half hour. Finally, I calmed down, started breathing normally and my heart rate returned to normal. It was a very scary experience. Although I will say, I still had my sense of humor about my life. As I drove away, I thought, "well, guess the night workouts don't really work for me!". Followed by a lot of laughter (my therapist said I'm definitely not depressed...I should be, but I'm not).

Today, during therapy, we decided I should take the weekend off from my sister. I still feel wounded from Wednesday. As the therapist explained, this is not my sister as I knew her. My sister before the stoke would never scream at me and slap my hand as I tried to help her. This is my sister with brain damage. I have to accept that I will  never have my sister back the way she was before the stroke. As heartbreaking as that is to say, I know it's true. We can't communicate, she doesn't really even know what's going on most of the time. I am in the process of accepting her for who she is now, and love her the best I can. I have to stop criticizing myself for not doing enough. I've done everything I can to help her, and I've given her everything I can give. I have to tend to me, to my needs, to myself. 

Weight this morning, 195.6. Workouts this past week: 3. My tribute to this being a weight-loss blog.


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