One step forward but how many back?

Posted on January 9, 2008

I am not doing so well today.

I tried to stay with the feeling I wrote about on Monday but it was elusive and by night time I was simply too tired. Yesterday I woke feeling even more tired and by last night my anxiety was really high. I managed to stop pulling hair and got out the brush from my anti-anxiety kit and proceded to work on pulling bristle hairs out. I should add it is not as easy as it sounds.

Then I felt the old familiar icky feeling, criticizing me for pulling bristle hairs out, that I was destroying this perfectly usable brush, commiting myself to destructive actions, and wasting the money spent on this brush just to tear it apart. Hairs at least, the feeling said, would grow back and wouldn’t cost me anything.

I tried the self-talk I’ve been working on in therapy against the feeling: everyone else would rather see me pull bristles out of a brush than pull my own hair out; this is what I bought the brush for; better I hurt the brush than hurt myself.

And the feeling returned with images of my torturing this poor brush when I was the one who deserved the pain.

I told my husband I wasn’t doing so well, about my anxiety. He thought it was due to exhaustion and he had a point. I had slept maybe 12 hours in the past 4 days. So I took my Lunesta and went to bed and fell asleep quickly.

While sleeping, I dreamed. I dreamed that I had a conversation with one of the Rabbis quoted in the Talmud. He expressed great concern over my urge to hurt myself, even to harm a single hair.

And then somehow in the dream I knew that he was quoted in the Jerusalem Talmud but not much if at all in the Babylonian Talmud and how the BT is generally considered more complete and consequently more authoritative than the JT and I wondered in the dream what it meant that I was visited by someone less prominent and if that was a reflection on me. And before he left he said something about how this was concerning that even in my sleep I was looking for ways to put myself down.

I woke groggy and still very tired and with a tremendous headache that encompasses the entire left side of my head. It is hard to concentrate. I think I should not be driving. I fear I am wasting time by not accomplishing anything productive today.

I was certain I was doing better, improving. Using my brush instead of myself. And on Shabbos I used my plan again. I was feeling a bit fragile and rather than invite opportunities to feel marginalized, I went up to a woman I know well, who knows what’s going on with me, and said, I’m feeling a little fragile right now; can I hang out with you for a little bit? She said of course and included me in her conversations with others and about 20 minutes later I felt much better and was able to stand on my own again.

If I am doing better, making better choices, managing better, then why do I feel this way? Why do I search for a negative in what would otherwise have been a very intriguing dream? Does this increase in anxiety have anything to do with the overwelming feeling I had Monday? Am I expecting too much too soon? Why am I still convinced I have wasted today because I didn’t get anything “done”?

And why does the thought of tomorrow bring with it more fear than hope?


  1. Rivka

    Keli: it was a cool dream looking back on it. At the time I couldn’t get out of the negative thinking though. He was compassionate, yes–very much so. But somehow I knew he was not prominent, not someone easily recognized these days. As far as dream interpretation I have no idea what that means.

    Friend of Ezzie: I am glad you’re back. I’ve been thinking of you since you wanted me to email Ezzie. I hope you are doing okay too.

    Daniel: yes, knowing and believing are two very different things for me. I am hoping this blog will perhaps be the written record that shows how far I’ve come. My counselor says I’m definitely healthier even if it doesn’t always feel that way. Thank you.

  2. Anonymous

    If I am doing better, making better choices, managing better, then why do I feel this way?

    And why does the thought of tomorrow bring with it more fear than hope?

    All change is difficult, even change for the better. It involves the unknown, which is always scary.

    When you’re depressed, the temptation is always to focus on how far there is still to go, rather than on how far you’ve come. The fear that you’ll never arrive unless you keep pushing yourself harder and harder is stronger than the satisfaction in making any progress at all.

    You sound like you are improving. Actually, it sounds like know you’re improving, but you find it hard to believe it. Does writing down the things you’ve done help? I know it helps make my achievements seem more ‘real’ to me.

    Shavua tov.

  3. Anonymous

    I haven’t visited your blog in awhile but I share many of your challenges, and I hope today’s a better day for you…

  4. Keli Ata

    What an awesome dream, to be visited by a sage. The rabbi sounded very compassionate. I wonder if it was Rabbi Akiva, or perhaps Hillel?

    I was listening to a Chabad audio tape a couple weeks ago and one of the rabbis explained how there was a sage who knew one of the Talmuds and had to go to “hell” to forget what he knew about the one Talmud before he could learn about the other.

    The gist of the story was that we carry so much of what we learn on earth that it’s hard to ascend and move on.

    Can’t recall which talmud he knew and which he had to forget to learn the new stuff. Anyone know? Which did he have to forget? Babylonian? Yerushalami??

    Wish I could be more help on this. I’m no Talmud chachim by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe your rabbi can help with this.

    And I should keep a notebook next to me when I’m listening to these audio lessons lol.

    I hope you’re feeling much better tomorrow 🙂

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