A Few Charms (Banner)

A Few Charms (Banner)

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Do I really deserve to be happy and healthy?

What do I NEED?
What do I WANT?
What do I DESERVE?

I don't know!

It's hard to answer the first two questions if you get stuck on the third question. Especially if your answer is "I am not deserving."

When I began my recovery from my eating disorder my goal was to be symptom-free. That is, no bingeing, purging, or restricting. And my rewards were Pandora charms. After three months of recovery I rewarded myself with this Lucerne dangle. As I shared back in July in my first post about this charm, the Lucerne flower - the "healing flower" - is thought to help rebuild the body after a serious or prolonged illness and is a symbol of life, health and healing.

On my Lucerne charm I had two words engraved on the two parts of the dangle. The first word was "Healthy" and the second "Happy." Because I had come to realize in those first three months that I needed to be reminded that "I DESERVE to be Healthy and Happy." It's been over two years since I put that charm on my "Lucerne Recovery" bracelet, but still, I'm not sure I really believe that. That I deserve to be healthy and happy.
On the left is Pandora's symbol for the Lucerne. On the right you can see the back of the dangle and how well it resembles the actual Lucerne flower on the top.

A few months ago I finally decided that I need to get help with my panic attacks. I've had lots of different kinds of therapy over the years, for depression and eating disorders, but panic attacks were something relatively new in the last few years. I saw my family doctor who said that with my history of major depression, an eating disorder, anxiety, and now panic attacks, my case was "complex." So he referred me to what they called "Shared Care." It's a new program with family health teams to have these add-on services in a consultative role. It's a team of mental health professionals that help direct patients to the services they need. Apparently some people are going to help me answer that question, "What do I NEED?"

The first step for me was to meet with the intake nurse who did a thorough history on my different challenges over the years. She explained the process for the team and felt that they could give me some guidance. And she told me I DESERVED to get some help and feel better. And that got me really choked up, thinking that there might be hope for an improvement. And that maybe, just maybe, I deserved that.

The next step was to meet with the psychiatrist. I was very nervous. I was afraid that one of two things would happen. One, that she would tell me there is nothing wrong, I am fine, and I don't need any help. The second thing I was afraid of was that she would tell me I'm so screwed up there is no hope and nothing they can do for me. Either scenario I clearly didn't trust that I would get the help I need. Or that I deserved it. And of course it had to be one of those two extremes and nothing in between.

Using the notes from the nurse, and asking me lots of questions about my history, the doctor suggested a number of things that might help. She referred me for a sleep study. Suggested I try a new medication. Suggested blood work to test my thyroid and vitamin B12 (turns out I was low in B12). Suggested short-term follow-up with the mental health nurse. And she referred me to a program they call the "Day Hospital." The Day Hospital is an intensive out-patient group therapy program for depression and anxiety that runs weekdays from 9-3:00 for six weeks. 

The final step was to meet with the nurse who coordinates the Day Hospital; which I did in July. Of course I was very nervous. I felt like I was going to the principal's office. But what was I in trouble for? Maybe it was more like a job interview. And I really hoped I didn't screw up the interview!

The nurse asked me what my goals are. Huh? She said, "The psychiatrist in the program is going to want you to come up with a 2-year vision." I had a mini panic attack right there! You mean you want me to think about, "What do I WANT?" That seems to imply that my current goal of surviving each day is not really looking far enough ahead. Apparently I need to think beyond, "just keep your head above water."

After more review of my history she told me I'd be a "good candidate" for the program and I could start in September. So what does that mean exactly? Did I do well on the interview and showed them how screwed up I am? Or did I do poorly on the interview and they think I need work? Well, bottom line, she felt the program could meet my needs. And I felt relief. Because that meant I was going to get help. And maybe even a glimmer of hope. Maybe.

And then it started! That little voice again!

First that voice said, "I can't believe that after 25 years of battling anxiety and depression that you are depressed enough that you need a full-day treatment program. God, that's so depressing!" Ya, nothin' like being depressed ABOUT being depressed.

And then that voice said, "There are people who need this program more than you! There are people sicker than you. There are people who DESERVE this more than you. You don't deserve this. You don't deserve to have hope. You don't deserve to get help. You are unworthy."

And I realized I needed to go back to my Lucerne dangle and try to convince myself of that affirmation, "I DESERVE to be healthy and happy." I don't believe it. I don't know why. I don't know what would make me deserving. But I'm going to keep repeating it to myself. And I'll wear my Lucerne Recovery bracelet.

Wish me luck! I start tomorrow!


  1. Good luck on your adventure to recovery. You can do it. Why? Because you deserve it.

    1. Oh I didn't see this comment earlier! Thanks for the vote of confidence!