Friday, August 03, 2007

All New Postings Can be Found at my Vicarious Therapy Blog

The link to Vicarious Therapy is:
  • You can also click the link provided to the right, beneath my profile under "My Other Blog"

...hope I see you there.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

I Love You Mom!

Everything doesn't seem real. My Mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September. The Dr's said she did not have long to live, but I guess I never really believed she would die. She did die though, in mid-December.

I moved to her home in October to help her out and to spend time with her. I could see she was getting more ill, yet she maintained her vigour for life somehow, so I unconsciously felt she could fight this off. I wanted to believe that.

I was beside her when she passed away, yet I still feel like this is all just an awful dream. I watched as she took her last breath and held her as she died and after she died. I don't know if I will ever get that experience and the images out of my head.

I am so sad, but my meds won't let me cry. I feel so alone and empty. My Mom was my rock. She was the one I called when I was in crisis. She was unconditionally loving. I feel so lost without her.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Meaning and Purpose

I have been wondering why I have been so calm about my Mom's situation. Had you asked me how I would react to the news that my Mom was dying I would have said I could not manage it. I am actually managing remarkably well, given the circumstances. I had to call 911 last Monday because Mom became extremely ill over the period of 1-2 hours.

Turns out she had a massive infection inside her because the stent they had put in two weeks prior, to drain bile from her pancreas, had become both blocked and had dislodged. On Tuesday they put a new one in and On Saturday she was discharged from the hospital. Scared the hell out of me because she seemed fine one minute and then suddenly I was in an ambulance with Mom, she became unresponsive, and the Drs were preparing me for the worst.

My little sister flew into the city on an emergency flight and my middle sister came over too. We made a pact to help each other out through this, and through anything else life throws at any of us, when Mom dies. We were close before, but I feel safer and more connected to my sisters now than ever before.

I also believe my mood is not crashing because I feel supported and cared for by my family and my husband. My Mom is the most loving person I know, so having her around all the time has been good. Also, a few weeks ago I started taking Epival (mood stabilizer) again and I think it is flattening my mood enough for me to manage. My pdoc also gave me some Olanzapine (antipsychotic) to help me sleep/calm down....just about kills me when I take it...all the next day I am a zombie).

As I was driving today I thought of another reason my mood may be holding up...helping my Mom has given me a is something I see as a valuable experience, and it gives me the opportunity to help someone in a really intense way. I find this very informative and will tuck the thought away for when I am ready to volunteer or work again. Doing something that makes a difference to someone else makes me feel better too.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Pancreatic Cancer

I have not posted in a while as I have really been struggling with the outcome of my Mom's emergency hospital visit. She has been told she has pancreatic cancer. The tumour is large and there is no cure or treatment for the cancer. The doctor told her the median lifespan after diagnosis is 4 months. The maximum she can expect to live is 12 months.

I feel so sad that I feel numb. I do not know how I will go on without my Mom. She is the person I turn to when in my deepest depressions. She is so supportive and absolutely accepting of everything and everyone. I love her more than I can even express. I feel so lost already and she is still here.

I have decided that the gift I am going to give my Mom is letting her know I will be okay when she goes. I was thinking about Dostoevsky's, "The Death of Ivan Illich" and how Ivan Illich in his death saw an opportunity to let others know he was okay with going. He gave them the gift of a peaceful death. Surely I can allow my Mom to die believing I can manage and have the support I need to make it though this life.

Saturday, August 27, 2005


I am like a little kid with this question. I want and need my world to make sense, to have meaning, to provide a structure that makes sense to me. I feel so confused by the world most of the time. My Mom called last night. She was extremely sick and when the Dr's did a CT scan they found a big lump on her pancreas. They do not know what it is yet. She is going for more tests next week in the city...but I am so scared for her.

I am really trying to stay focused and positive. I have been trying to meditate on lovingkindness and have been wrapping my Mom in white light all day in my imagination. If anyone deserves a long and happy life it is her. She is the kindest and most loving person I know.

Why do these things seem to happen to the good people, while so many bad people seem to have everything. Life does not make sense. I am certain that is part of why I have such a hard time in this life and this world.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Caves and me, BVI's Posted by Picasa

Transformational Dreams

I constantly dream of being in the water. I love the water. The second I slip into the water I become calm. I would live in the water if I could. In dreams water is said to symbolize the subconscious. I am beginning to wonder if my whole life my essential self knew who it was, but I have not heeded it's nocturnal messengers.

I am 4.5 years into the most severe depressive episode I have ever had. For the first two years I managed to work at a highly stressful career. I more often than not worked 10 hour days. Many, many times I worked much more than that. The company reorganized my division 3 times in 2 years, each time threatening to eliminate my position. While I hated the corporation I worked for, the positions I had were incredibly interesting and allowed me to be creative in many ways. However, the bureaucracy was suffocating and soul sucking.

I began feeling like I was trapped in some Kafkaesque nightmare. I wanted to do a good job, but the rules and the responsibilities kept changing. Each time I thought I understood the new direction, that direction would change. Just as I felt I was understanding my new role, they would threaten to eliminate my position. In a neurotic attempt to try to save myself I began working frantically. I worked longer hours, taking no breaks, volunteering for more projects, offering to help my co-workers with their projects.

I became terrified I was going to lose my job. Because I felt my job was "me" I became increasingly despondent. I began having constant and increasingly violent thoughts of committing suicide. I had detailed plans on how to do it, wrote notes to my family. In short It seemed like the only way I was going to get myself to leave was by killing myself. My pdoc tried for almost the whole 2 years to help me see that I needed to leave work to become well. I could not get myself to leave, no matter how bad I was feeling.

Then one day I had a dream:

I dreamt I was being chased by tons of feral cats. I ran into the house and slammed the door, but could see my cat(Blue) was stuck outside with the bad cats. So I opened the door, let Blue in, and chased the feral cats off the deck. One cat would not leave so I kicked it. It turned into an old raggedy golden haired dog as it flew off the deck.

The ground was covered in water and the dog went into the water. I went into the house, but I had not seen the dog get up. I went outside and there he was, under the water, motionless. I felt sick.

I ran off the deck, waded into the water, and lifted the dog up. She was stiff, like she was dead. I was feeling desperate, but I sensed there was life in her. I carried her onto the deck. I woke up feeling sick about what I had done.
  • I felt I was the cat, the dog, and myself in the dream
  • It struck me that the dog (me) did not even try to save itself
  • That the dog needed to be "saved"...I had begun to feel the only way I was going to leave work was in a bodybag, or by having my pdoc tell me "LEAVE WORK NOW", or commit me.
  • That the I kicked the dog (me) and just left it there at hurting myself by staying at work
  • That I felt desperate the dog(myself) not wanting to live despite all my suicidal ideation
  • That I was so very sure it was dead...I felt like my soul was dead.
  • That I saved the dog...That I am the only one who could save me

My pdoc had some interesting thoughts about the dream:

  • That the feral cats were all my work responsibilities chasing me, wanting a piece of me
  • That running into the house was an act of taking care of myself
  • That at great risk I opened the door to let Blue, the one I love, in.
  • That I took a risk again when I went outside to save the dog
  • That I was so incredibly compassionate toward my enemy (the dog had been one of the feral cats)
  • That water is thought to symbolize the subconscious and that the dog was calm in the water and that I knew it was alive... Perhaps I knew my enemy (work) would survive without me...that I had tried to save my department, but in the end it would go on without me.

He told me he believed my dream was a transformational dream and that I was getting closer to implementing a plan to leave and take care of myself. Within three weeks of having that dream I informed my boss I was going to leave for medical reasons. I told her everything about what I had been through in the past two years. She offered to hire another person to help me. I agreed, but within weeks it became clear that was not enough. I was so ill I could not manage anything anymore.

My transformation took place three weeks later. I left work on disability and have been off for the past 2.5 years. I believe that dream, and my pdoc's insistence it was a sign of my pending transformation, triggered my giving myself permission to take that leap of faith to save my soul.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Trickster Part 2

In Part 1 you may remember my spiritual skepticism was increasingly being challenged by a series of unexplainable, almost paranormal, experiences that had occured in my life. While I was intrigued by all these coincidences I stilled remained a disbeliever. I chalked it all down to chance and my desire to find meaning and reasons for painful events. I would have remained the eternal skeptic had it not been for another coincidental experience.

I had been distraught much of the day. My depression had been obsessively hounding me to end it all. I was used to having these thoughts, but it was never easy to make it through the obsessions. The only thing that seemed to help when I felt like this was physical exercise or intense focus on other activities. I decided to walk to the back of the farm. When I got to the field at the far end of the farm I saw two bees, a honey bee, and a bumble bee, drowning in a tub of water. Immediately I envisioned the bees, soaked and sinking, desperately paddling and drowning in a dark pool of water, as symbols of my desperate struggle to save myself from my depression. I made the fortuitous decision to try to save the bees. If they lived, I decided, I too would decide to live.

I fished the bees out of the water and placed them in the sun on a stump of wood. They sat there, comatose. I squated down beside them intent on learning what the decision would be. Still they remained motionless. Suddenly the bumble bee started dancing on the edge of the stump. He hung himself off the side of the stump and opened his wings, drying both his wings and the underside of his abdomen in the warm afternoon sun. Within minutes the honey bee started the same dance. The bumble bee, drying complete, flew away into the field. The honeybee soon followed suit. I had been so completely engrossed in the activities of these two bees that it was like I had been in a bubble, sheltered from all sounds and experiences outside the one I had been so focused on.

Suddenly I heard a snort and a snuffle, like when a dog accidently snorts dirt into its nose when it is sniffing the grass. I looked up and there, 6 or 7 feet from me, was the most beautiful coyote I have ever seen. Because I had been crouched in the tall grass silently watching the bees, he had not seen or heard me. I had never been so close to a wild animal before. I felt an intensely mystical connection to the animal.

I decided to learn more about the coyote as a symbol. I soon discovered that in American aboriginal mythology the coyote, like the raven in Westcoast aboriginal myth, is a trickster figure. The trickster figure brings light into a world that is completely dark. He is a figure that challenges our initial perceptions. He brings humour and playfulness into situations that have become too serious. The trickster figure shows us that we cannot plan our lives perfectly, that life is unpredictable. In other words he challenges many of the behaviours that contribute to my depression. I found it incredible that, of all creatures to appear in front of me, the coyote chose to appear. What greater symbol of the side I seemed to be missing in my daily life.

The coyote is a perfect symbol for me. I seem to fit its symbolism of duality with my cycling moods, my being a gemini, and my having a degree in Philosophy (rational thought)and in English (mystical, magical, creative thought). I am a workaholic. I get lost in rambunctious fun when I feel well. I see the path. I don't. I am good. I am bad. Things are black. They are white. I need a symbol that challenges my strict need for structure and assurity. I need a talisman that is able to lead me away from the intense seriousness I feel when in a depressive state.

For years that talisman has been a silver bracelet given to me by my parents when I was young. Carved with another trickster figure, the raven, I have felt the bracelet protects me, but never knew why. To me the coyote is yet another symbolic representation of the mystical side of existence that I have been loath to believe existed. I find it comforting to believe the coyote was meant to appear when it did. It was as though it provided me with a reason to keep trying.