Saturday, August 31, 2013

Shadow Work and Introspection Season

I'm soon to begin work on my dark half for the year. This is the time of the year when I retreat inward to muck out my hidden issues.

I suffer from quite a few....neurosis? I have not been seen by a professional since 2002, but I know enough about my past and some of my life long problems to know that I suffer from things that I need to face.

I have food related phobias and OCD. I have generalized anxiety disorder (this was why I was seen from 1996 - 2002), social anxiety and panic disorder. Also, from talking to a therapist friend of mine, it's very probable that I have PTSD (no idea how badly, and I can't afford therapy to find out) from my childhood and an abusive parent. I am thankful that none of the above issues is as bad as I've read from some other people who suffer from them, but I do have a lot of muck to deal with. The food related phobias have caused me the most problems. Having a couple of actual food related physical problems (allergies, etc), it's really caused me to go off the deep end about food. I had lost an obscene amount of weight in 2011 and I was actually starting to get very scared about my health. Me being scared about my health is a bad thing because I teeter on the edge of legitimate concern for my health and full blown hypochondria. I can't watch health programs on TV or shows like House or ER. Those are damned death sentence for a person like me.

I watched a show about hantavirus once. Just once. And, then I saw a mouse and about had a damned heart attack and was convinced for about 4 weeks that I was going to die of hantavirus. My husband had a heart attack in 2008. I'm so glad he survived and is doing well, now. But, I've been waiting for my heart attack ever since. Every twinge on the left side of my body is an oncoming heart attack.

As for my generalized anxiety, it's mostly controlled now. But, I have to do a lot of work to keep it that way. I have to plan absolutely every single social interaction. Nothing can be spontaneous or it sends me into fits. I shop during off hours because going to the Walmart or grocery store is an exercise in control that I'm only now starting to get good at. Crowds make me want to vomit and I'm very uncomfortable in them. Where I live, there is no such thing as person space, the people here will crawl right up your leg until you can smell what they've had for lunch. I also don't do very well with small talk. If I don't know you well enough to have a full on conversation with you, I'd rather you just nod and move on. Stopping to talk to obscure people I don't know well makes me want to run for the truck and I'll return at midnight when everyone should be sleeping.

It takes me days to recover both mentally AND physically from social gatherings. I recently went to my in laws' for 5 hours. It took me 5 days to shake the "social gathering hangover". My panic attacks are caused by stress and too much anxiety. If I get worked up without a break, I have attacks. I also can have random attacks for no reason, but those are rare now.

The food thing is....actually kind of funny in a way. I've always been really weird about food, even as a toddler. I wouldn't eat anything. I ate 3 things for like 4 years of my life and none of my food could touch. Ever. I'm still like this, only am a little better about it. If it's meat and potatoes, it can touch. If my dessert touches my gravy, I will squeal like a stuck pig. It grosses me out. My mother puts fruit in her salads. In her green, dinner salads! Those are two flavors that shouldn't even be in the same room at the same time, let alone in the same bowl! Gross. I'm very close to divided plates.

I also have this crippling fear of food allergies. I have some legitimate ones. I'm allergic to melons. Deathly. That one allergy has caused me years of torment. Not because I like melons, I don't. But, because my mother used to torture me with this phrase: "You can develop an allergy at ANY time." Now, I'm afraid to eat. All the time. I've got IBS, so this doesn't help. Gluten intolerant doesn't help either. I haven't eaten seafood since 2000. Not because hate seafood, I love it. But, because my mother told me I could be allergic to it at any time. Haven't eaten it since.

Trying new foods? Nope. No can do, Chief. I might be allergic to it. What's that? You want me to try frog legs? Not only is there the chance of an allergy, but yuck. No. You can imagine what it's like to live with me. Here's the cruel twist to this. It's coming up to pumpkin season. Each year, I must fight my food related OCD and phobias to eat my favorite veggie, the pumpkin. I might be allergic to it, now.

I'm also deathly afraid of under cooked food. Chicken, pork, both deadly. I love both chicken and pork. But, either me or someone I trust must cook it! I would never order pork at a restaurant, and very rarely order chicken. I'll get steak all day long, med. rare please (this is an enigma to me, I don't know why I can eat almost raw steak). But, chicken just isn't something I will do when I go out to eat. Fish? No.

These are the things I work on during the dark half of the year. I don't face any of these to any serious degree until Autumn Equinox and after until Mid-winter when I take 30 some days off to switch to the light self. The time between Mid-summer and Equinox is my time off , as well. I just meditate for peace during that time.

Starting on Equinox, I'll be meditating on my mental hang ups, on my generalized anxiety, etc. I will be socializing a lot more than I do during the light half of the year. I will be facing some of my very crippling fears about food and actually, I usually try a new food during this time. I will be having a few panic attacks I would imagine. I usually do when I do shadow work. Nightmares, too. But, I wouldn't be as far as I am in dealing with all this stuff without meditation and exercise. Those are two life savers, believe me!

I'll also be dealing with something that only pops up during the winter. Germ related OCD. Now, please don't get the wrong idea. I don't have this as badly as a lot of sufferers do. I don't suffer from this like some people I've read about and I'm both thankful for that and sad for those people. My problem with this is bad only because I have to go places where sick people are. I have to take myself and my son to the doc's office at least once during this time of year. That place is a death factory. I don't touch anything in doc's offices. I won't use their pens, read their mags, touch their chairs with my hands, nothing. I bathe in germ-x so much during the winter that we go through 2 gallons of the stuff. Every time I get a virus, it's very tough to keep myself calm because I'm convinced it's going to turn into pneumonia and kill me. Or, that one of my kids will get sick and die, I'm really anxious about my kids, too.

These are not fun things to deal with. Back when I was kid, most of this stuff was already making itself apparent. Instead of helping me like any normal parent, my mother would chastise me and call me a faker or a hypochondriac. Hypochondriac isn't a slur, it's very real disease and it's not funny. But, for some reason, she finds it hilarious. Even though I have had some very real health scares that could have been very deadly and serious, and still have a couple, she would call me a faker, or a hypochondriac. She would never give them any real thought, or care. So, my work to overcome my mental hangups is pretty daunting. But, the first step was even admitting I had these. That's been in the works for years because I denied them for a long time.

I'm hoping to include drawings with some of my shadow work. I don't know that I will be able to, or can. I'm not a good artist and never have been. But, we'll see.

What will you be doing for the dark half of the year? What "shadows" plague you?

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