4.13.2014

Goodbye Boob Juice

It's been a day and a half since I last breastfed my 14 month old daughter. I guess that means she is weaned. I know I'm supposed to be feeling free right now but I'm not. I'm feeling very sad. I'm sad that our special mandatory snuggle time is over. Now I will be lucky to get a snuggle, unless she's incredibly sleepy or sick. I'm sad that now I don't get to eat 300 extra calories. I'm sad that her nutritional superfood  isn't  going to be included in her daily intake anymore. I have been proud to know that even when her solid diet was less than stellar at least I was giving her one thing perfectly. 
Breastfeeding is such an emotional experience. It's been so hard but so great. I'm so glad it worked out for us for so long. 

3.24.2014

My Therapist Can Talk to Animals- Part 3

I know you all think that you would never continue going to see this therapist after parts 1 and 2. I had been wondering to myself how she was still in business with such an unprofessional working space. But she almost always had a client upstairs with her when I arrived for my appointments. She must have been doing someone some good.
I was benefiting from my visits in several ways. I had a legitimate medical excuse to get out of the house and leave bedtime to my husband twice a week. I was being entertained and learning more about things I had no idea existed. I was often in a better mood when I left her office because her stories were so ludicrous. But really I kept seeing this woman because I needed her help getting a referral to a psychiatrist, or so I thought.
She was communicating, very slowly, with Tricare, my health insurance provider. She submitted a referral request by fax. I was waiting for the letter to arrive at my home that told me I had gotten a new referral, but it still hadn't come. Finally I  called Tricare they told me that things were submitted incorrectly. I let her know and she resubmitted the request. It didn't work again. So finally she got on the phone with them and discovered that only my primary care provider at the military hospital could submit referral requests.
After this news, I felt less tied to our relationship. During our sessions I was sharing my feelings and thoughts about 1/3 of the time and the other 2/3rds Dr. Griffin was telling me stories about her other clients or about her cats. My interest in our sessions was waning. I didn't know how much longer I wanted to listen to her stories. She did make a point to ask me about my cat at every visit. I told her that he was still peeing outside the box. I had added a second litter box upstairs in my room on the spot he liked to tinkle, but he was going behind it or to the side of it to pee on the carpet. She was very interested in his behavior and wondered what I was thinking to myself when these accidents happened. She thought that somehow I had given him some positive affirmation that led him to believe he was doing the right thing. That he was listening to my thoughts.
Despite her suggestions, things were not getting better with my cat. He had decided to poop out of the box as well. She told me that since my cat was causing me mental distress she would like to visit with him at her home and just count it as a session. I was inwardly ecstatic! This was going to be legendary. Brady thought I was nuts for displaying hope that the appointment could help at all. I told him that we don't know for sure that this lady cannot talk to animals. That it wouldn't hurt. He agreed to watch the girls and one Saturday packed my little Cabello into his black mesh airplane ride carrying bag and headed out the door.
Every time I take my cat in the car, he cries, He cries until he vomits. So when I arrived at the doctors, he was not in great shape. She sees animal patients in a different location in her house than human patients, at the request of her own cats. We went to a door down some steps at the side of the house. When I opened the door, I was shocked. Inside was a room that was without odor, without cat toys strewn about the floor. It was a room that would pass as a room you could see patients in at a regular therapist office, like those I had been to before when I'd gone to therapy in the past. I was baffled as to why she ever saw patients anywhere else.
Dr. Griffin joined us and to be honest I was a little taken back to see that she could walk. I secretly imagined she was like one of those humans out of Wall E whose muscle mass was non-existent and had to use hover chairs, or in her case a rolling computer chair. I told her that Cabello had thrown up. She grabbed some paper towels so that I could wipe down his carrier and his fur. She requested that he stay in his carrier so that he felt more comfortable, less distracted, and more likely to communicate with her.
She told me that she was going to check his chakras again and did some in air massaging around the air of carrier. She told me that there was a little blockage around one of his chakras and that she would heal it. She told me that Cabello had a good self esteem and that he was grounded. She continued to move down his "energy body" and feel all his chakras, never once actually touching my real cat. Cabello sat there not doing much.
We began to discuss what I would like her to ask my cat. I told her that obviously I would like to know why he kept peeing outside the box. I wanted to know if he was okay with my two girls, after all for quite some time he was the baby. I wanted to know what could make his life better. I wanted to know what his favorite memory was. And which neighbor he preferred as a cat sitter, Svetlana or Claire.
What comes next still makes me smile. Dr. Griffin put one of her hands on her heart and extended her other hand towards my cat in the cat carrier. She closed her eyes and went silent. It was the darned silliest thing to witness and it went on for about 10 minutes total. The whole while Cabello was uneasy in his carrier, walking it circles, sticking his little cat nose up to the mesh trying to maybe break through and get to me. I thought how strange it was that if he were finally speaking to a human why he was not paying better attention.
Finally she opened her eyes and brought her arms down. "He did chose to communicate with me," she said. "When I made contact with him, I asked him to show me his favorite thing at your house. He showed me what looked like a red ball of yarn with lots of strings coming out of it." I had no idea what he could have meant.  "When I asked him why he chooses not to pee in the litter box, he showed me a view out a back window. Down below the window were people raking leaves and laughing. There were also squirrels and dogs playing in the leaves. I think that your cat is angry that he cannot go outside." Okay, really?! "He says that he is fine with the girls. Just be sure that they are gentle with him." That's good. "When I asked what would make his life better, he showed me a swinging cat canopy hanging in an outside room of your house." Yes, I do have a screened room in the back of my house, but I don't think that I am gonna hang a cat canopy in there. "When I asked what his favorite memory was, he took me to a place where there are wood floors. There is a Big Wheels and the sound "clackety clackety". But he is not scared. He is watching from somewhere safe." Why the heck would that be his favorite memory? I cannot ever remember him enjoying watching my girls drive around the Big Wheels in the basement. "He prefers Svetlana to watch him when you go away" Good because I already asked her to be the one to do it.
From all this information, I was feeling doubtful. There is some information that sounds like it could have come from him, but I'm not convinced. She could have made all of this up. I decide to have her ask him something that is pretty straight forward. I ask her to ask him what is his favorite bed. She does the hand to heart and extended arm thingy again for a minute. "He showed me a bed on top of a train. There are curtains around the bed. There are stars above the bed. I see the colors turquoise, pink, and purple." What the Frack!!!! She might be going somewhere this time! My cats favorite place to sleep is on my daughter Aurora's canopy bed. She has glow in the dark stars above it and stores her trains underneath. Did she hid the jackpot this time? Is Cabello really communicating with her? Do I have to put up a stupid cat canopy in my screened in back porch?
This was my last visit with Dr. Griffin. My primary care doctor successfully put through the referral for a civilian psychiatrist. I started seeing Dr. Solo and she seems pretty normal as far as psychiatrists go.  She suggested that I get a therapist with similar beliefs, which is precisely the information I left for Dr. Griffin in my breakup voicemail. I believe I uncovered the reason for Cabello's peeing. He has a sensitive bump that has grown on his head and therefore does not want to use the cat door or the door on the litter box. So that was an easy fix. But I can't help but wonder if anything Dr. Griffin said on that day actually came from my cat. After all, we have an Elmo puppet that looks exactly like a red ball of yarn with stings coming out of it ( :

3.23.2014

My Therapist Can Talk to Animals- Part 2

On my third visit to Doctor Griffin, I brought Brady and baby Lizabelle with me. The doctor wanted to know how he saw things with me and our relationship and have me share how I saw things with him. Brady was of the opinion that anything he could do to help me feel better, he would do it. His opinion started to change the moment we entered the "waiting room."
He, like I had, wondered if we should knock or something before entering. I told him it was fine if we just went in and waited. He, holding Lizzie, entered the room but would not sit down by me and my orange furry cat friend on the garbage sack lined couch. Lizzie wiggled to get down, but he would not release her. He told me he was going to wait outside and to let him know when the Doctor was ready.
"Come on up!" I opened the front door and called to Brady. We went upstairs and sat down on the same couch I had chosen last time. The doctor greeted us and made small talk with Brady. Lizzie decided she was comfortable enough to leave Brady's lap and explore. She walked over to a pile of small cat toys and picked up a little fuzzy ball. Then came the inevitable, she stuck the little fluff in her mouth. I had gotten used to seeing Lizzie put everything in her mouth, binkies that have dropped on the ground, mulch at the park, week old Cheerios from under the rocking chair. I was not very sensitive to what I saw, after all the doctor had explained that all her cats were disease free and she made sure of such before letting any of them live with her. But Brady was visibly bothered by what had happened and pulled her onto his lap again. The doctor got out a case of extra large plastic Legos to try to help. Brady released her and she was occupied by the new things while we did some talking.
Brady told the woman what our life at home was like. We heard a cat yak somewhere in the room. The doctor brushed it off as nothing. "She does that all the time. She has a weak stomach." We continued our discussion.
Then it was my time for sharing. I told her how I felt, that I was lonely and sad that my husband was so busy all the time. As I continued, nobody seemed to be listening to me. They weren't even looking at me. But then I saw the reason. Lizzie was coming back from behind a couch at the other end of the room. She was moving her jaws and there was something in her hand. "What do you have Lizzie?," I said as I went to her and pried her little hands open. In her hand was dried cat vomit!
The rest of the session is a blur. What I do remember is Brady asking me if I should induce vomiting in Lizzie. If I thought she could catch a disease. That I was never allowed to take her to that house again. I was stunned silent, but that was not my last visit to that house.
I returned, without Lizzie, the following week. I learned that not only did Dr Griffin communicate with and heal animals, she heals people's energy too. She is a Reiki master and does hypnotherapy. Reiki is the belief that all the world is energy. We have our physical bodies and we have our spiritual bodies and our energy bodies. She believes that the things that are wrong with us come from blocked energy. She helps patients learn to restore the flow of energy to our spiritual bodies through EFT, Emotional Freedom Techniques.
EFT is an interesting practice that is apparently semi effective; Brady even said when I mentioned it to him that there is some evidence to support its effectiveness at treating some mental illness. Basically there are points on your body that are energy meridians and when you tap them while making affirmative statements you attract abundance and positive energy to your body. I will admit that I never fully committed to EFT, but I did find some comfort in using some of the affirmative statements with myself. There are lots of sites you can go to for further investigation of EFT, but really I'm just giving the woman credit for actually talking about something applicable to humans. But that doesn't mean we are done with our animal talks. In the next part of the story Dr. Griffin communicates with my cat in person.

3.21.2014

My Therapist Can Talk To Animals- Part I

Last Fall, my depression got so unbearable that I finished a quest I started nearly three years prior to get a referral to a civilian psychiatrist. My husband is a military psychiatrist and we felt it best I didn't visit his colleagues for my mental health care at the military hospital where our insurance prefers we go for care. I was so desperate for help that when the referral incorrectly placed me with a psychologist, rather than psychiatrist, I called and made the appointment anyway.
On the phone, the doctor told me that she saw patients at her home and asked if I had allergies to cats. I said no. She told me that when I came to just walk in and take a seat; she would call for me when she was ready. On the date we'd specified I drove up a street lined with normal middle class houses wondering which house Mapquest would tell me to stop at. Mapquest needn't utter a thing because as soon as I saw the eery grey house with the red door by which hung a "Danger: Beware of Cats" sign I knew I'd reached my destination. As I got out of the Jeep, I looked up at the second story window lined with colorful plush animals, backs to the window, as though they were part of an intervention for their friend sock monkey who'd huffed one too many fluff balls. I trudged forward imagining perhaps I was there to bust the poor monkey free.
When I reached the door there was no placard indicating this was a clinic or even a Post It note saying "come in," so I was reluctant to follow Dr. Griffin's instructions. It was my curiosity that gave me a push to discover whether or not there really were rabid cats inside as the sign warned.
The door opened into a living room. The first thing I saw was a kitchen chair on which sat a mountain of magazines and mail. All around me was the stench of cat urine. There was also a table with three piles of magazines, a couple chairs around it, an armchair and a couch whose arms were lined with black garbage sacks and two cat activity towers and three cats sniffing my diaper bag. I was a little confused as to whether I had entered a quarantine zone for wild peeing felines or a waiting room of sorts. A women appeared from a door behind the table and I asked her if I was in the right place. She just smiled and said something in Spanish while she started to gather the trash bags from the living room and the kitchen which was behind the door from which she came. I noted many more cat towers in the kitchen and the room beyond that.
"Come on up!," sounded a voice from somewhere up the stairs directly in front of the front door. The stairs were equipped with a handicap lift I noted. At the top of the stairs and to the left was a door cracked open. "In here?" I pushed my way in. "Hello, I'm Doctor Griffin."
The room had five couches, a cat wheel (like a hamster wheel for cats), a single armchair, a bookshelf, a desk, and a rolling chair on which appeared to be molded a large women in a cotton dress with long curly grey hair and the driest feet I had ever seen. There were also dozens of stuffed animals and puppets and cat toys. She had me sit down wherever I desired. Logically the couch in front of her is where I chose.
There were a couple different cats in this room. I told her I liked cats too, that I had one of my own. She proceeded to tell me about all of her cats and how she had acquired them. She had twelve cats in total living in that house. Some of the cats were given to her by clients. One upset client had told her that her cat was possessed and she had requested that one be left with her. "After all," she said, "cats are never possessed." An hour went by and she told me that our time was up. We had gone the whole session talking about nothing but cats.
I drove home amused at what had just happened. I wasn't alarmed though. After all, I had been asking questions and enjoying her stories. My mood had even improved a little. I looked forward to seeing how our future sessions would go. It had just been a little cat small talk that had gone on too long, that's all.
When I arrived for our second session, Dr Griffin told me one of her cats had just gotten her hair shaved to prevent matting. That she would not come out because she thought she looked ridiculous. I'd seen cats shaved like lions so I knew exactly how this cat must look. I told the doctor that I thought cats shaved like that looked cute. She told me that her cat begged her not to shave her. "Your cat talks to you?," I asked. She said yes. That all of her cats communicate with her. I had to know more.
She told me a story about how one of her male cats had gotten out the front door and gone missing. Every night, for months, she communicated with that cat and told him to come home. Finally one night the cat communicated back. He said he was ready to come home. She told him she couldn't leave the front door open for him because the other cats would get free. She said that she would leave a window open in the upstairs bathroom at dusk and that at that time he should use the trash can to get on the roof and climb through. Sure enough the cat came home that night, she said.
She told me that she had healed the spirit energy of a giraffe who was dying at our local zoo. He died peacefully the next day. She told me she had helped a family keep their dog after he had started to act poorly following a second dogs arrival into their family. All the old dog wanted was his own spot in the sun in the backyard all to himself.
My gut instinct told me this woman was crazy, but I consider myself a very open and tolerant woman, so I listened and responded as though what she was claiming was completely normal, rational, and natural. I even told her that I was having some problems with my own cat. He had recently decided to pee outside the box. Specifically, he was peeing in my room on the floor and sometimes in my bed. I wondered if she had any guesses as to why he had changed his habits.
She told me that she would like to check his chakras and heal them, if needed.
She closed her eyes and rolled her hands around in a circle until an invisible cat sat upon her lap. She spoke aloud to my cat and told him that I loved him and that "Mommy wanted him to stop peeing outside the box." She pinched different spots on my invisible cat as she described to me what each chakra she was touching was called and what it was for. She said that some of the chakras on my cat needed heeling and massaged them. I gawked at her. I could seriously not believe what was happening and wished all  of my friends were watching this because this was bonkers. Wasn't it? She looked absolutely ridiculous.
My cat was waiting for me by the door when I got home. I looked him in the eyes and asked him if he'd had a nice chat with Dr. Crazy. He gave a little meow and led me to the cat bowls. It's nuts right to believe any of this? Have you ever had a doctors visit stranger than this? I have. This story gets better
, but it will have to be continued at a later date.

3.20.2014

Myself, a Mystery


Do I know myself? 
I know what I like. I like dancing to upbeat music. I like trying new hobbies and foods. I like packages arriving on my doorstep. I like change in weather and pace. 
I know what sets me off. I hate when people offer help they know they will never give. I hate when people listen half heartedly. I hate doing the same housework over and over again. 
 I get bored easily. I'm honest. I'm impatient in a patient way. 
Despite all these things I know about myself, I'm still a mystery. I don't really know the extremes of who I am. I don't know what would make me happiest. I don't know what would force me off a ledge. We are all so very complex and we may never truly know the whole soul inside our bones. 

3.19.2014

10 Steps to Being a Best Friend to Yourself



1. Stay in contact
For your friendship to work you need to get to know yourself. Take time frequently to notice what you have being doing lately. What you'd like to be doing. How you've been feeling. Write it down so you can remember where you've been and plan where your going. 

2. Make joy happen
The best friends listen and watch you to discover what will make you feel joy and then they act on it. They are the friends who drop by with a Coke. They are the ones who ask you to go on a walk. They are the ones who send you an encouraging message. Notice what you need and give it to yourself. 

3. Make your birthday a big deal
You made it another year. Likely that year had some rough patches. Celebrate your resilience and endurance. You are the most special and important person in your world. Don't let your birthday go by without cake, presents, and dancing!

4. Compliment yourself
You know how you stand in front of the mirror and frown at your belly fat? How you scold yourself for not doing more fun things with your kids? Stop that! Friends don't nit pick. When you stand in front of the mirror, find something nice to say. If you can't, then don't say anything to yourself. Or say "I completely love and accept myself even though _______. 

5. Write yourself notes
There is not anything that is a better pick me up than someone cheering you on or saying something nice to you. Be that person. Write one of your compliments from step four and put it somewhere your likely to feel stressed. 

6. Feed yourself
I know your busy but it's important to find a moment to give yourself the nutrition you need. You wouldn't let a friend starve themself. If you knew a friend didn't ever get lunch you would take her lunch. Do the same for yourself. 

7. Know your goals and help yourself achieve them 
Let's say your goal is to lose weight. Would it be the right thing to do to bake 3 dozen cookies? No. You cannot lose weight by eating cookies. You can help yourself lose weight by determining how many calories you need to consume per day to do so and then sticking to the plan. Make your environment conducive to success. Don't sabotage yourself. 

8. Make yourself laugh
Watch silly Youtube videos. Surround yourself by comedic people. Watch funny movies. For your mental health's sake, don't let things get too serious. 

9. Take yourself on dates
When you get some time off work or away from your kids, take yourself somewhere you'd enjoy. A restaurant, a book store, Target, the makeup department, a concert. It's important to reward yourself with a good time or you'll get burned out. 

10. Smile
When you see yourself, smile! When your driving your car, smile! When you you want to cry, cry... but then smile! You are the only one who can make your life happy. And happiness starts with a smile.