Working On Myself

Last night my husband said he was disappointed in me. That made me feel sad. I don’t want him to feel disappointed in me. He was referring to the weekend we spent in L.A., and his brother’s cancer walk. We didn’t arrive at his brother’s house until 2:30am Saturday morning, so I didn’t end up taking my medication until around 3am. At home, I usually take my medication around 10pm, not in the middle of the night! When I woke up about 9am, I was feeling dizzy. I fell while I was getting ready in the bathroom and bruised my tailbone a little. I figured my dizziness was due to the medication, and taking it so late at night. When we went to the high school to get set up for the cancer walk, I was still feeling dizzy. John drove me back to his brother’s house, and I ended up spending the rest of the day (and night) in bed sleeping.

John thought that my dizziness and reluctance to participate in the walk was also due to my anxiety, and being around strangers. Last night he asked me what I wanted to work on. I told him I wanted to work on my communication skills, and to also be more motivated. I really need to work on motivating myself. I have to push myself, rather than letting my husband do all the work. I have to admit that sometimes it feels like pulling teeth just to get myself to do 4 exercises in the morning. I made a point of doing my exercises right after chanting this morning, and when I actually laid the blanket down and started exercising, I found that it really wasn’t so hard after all!

This morning I also realized that I had accomplished quite a bit Friday before we left, and last night after we came home. On Friday, I did the laundry, washed the dishes, emptied the trash, and cleaned the apartment so that when we came back last night, everything was put away and organized except for the duffle bag we had brought with us to L.A. Last night, I unpacked and put everything away so I wouldn’t have to unpack this morning.

I still tend to worry quite a bit, and I don’t like disappointing my husband. I will keep working on myself, on motivating myself, on my communication skills, and on my appearance. I know I need to keep working on myself, so that we can have a long, happy marriage.

Going To L.A.

We’re riding down to L.A. to visit John’s brother for the weekend. We’re going to spend Saturday walking for the annual Relay for Life, an event that supports cancer research. Right now it’s almost 1am. I took some notes on some voices I heard a little while ago, and decided to post to my blog. This time from my phone.

I heard someone saying something about my book. They were trying to get me to make an agreement with them. They want me to agree not to publish a book or post to my blog about my past experiences. It seems like the same situation as a few months ago when they were trying to get me to stop practicing Buddhism. They say that I’m selfish, that I only care about myself, and that I have to give something up because they also had to give something up. I seem to be at the center of it. They are also worried about the effect my book might have on former coworkers, roommates & friends. I am not sure about this.

I used to live with the constant fear & threat of someone dying because I believed their threats. I don’t believe them anymore, but sometimes they still threaten me. I think we’ll have a great weekend & I’m not giving up.

My Book Project

My husband and I were discussing moving out of our apartment complex last night. We are looking at our options and considering what types of housing are available in Sunnyvale in our price range. Houses are pretty much out of the question, but we have been considering condos (preferably a 2 bedroom), and mobile homes in this area. It’s a tough decision, but we don’t want to wait much longer to buy something, and we don’t want to spend the rest of our lives in an apartment. So we may be moving soon!

I told my husband last night about what I heard a voice say. They were telling me I had to choose between practicing Buddhism, writing in my blog, or writing my book. If I didn’t choose one, then my husband would be killed. My husband thinks it’s crazy, and a bunch of nonsense. I wrote this threat down on the notes app in my phone. I have a few pages of notes recorded on my phone from the past couple of days. I started writing down what the voices have been saying, and typing the notes into my phone to keep track. Then I’ll look at my notes before I write in my blog.

This morning while I was doing laundry, they started talking about my book. They said that the reason I am writing my book is to get back at them, and because of this, my book will never be published. They also said that I think that writing and publishing my book will get them to leave me alone, and that they are going to do everything possible to keep it from getting published. I am going to do everything possible to get my book published. I believe that my story should be told.

My husband said to be prepared for rejection. I submitted my book proposal to 8 prospective agents, and so far I’ve heard back from 2 of them. Both said they weren’t interested. I decided to wait a month or so, then revise my proposal and send it out to a few more agents. I think it’s a worthwhile project.

First Day of Tutoring

I went for my first day of volunteer tutoring this morning. It was great. A really good experience. I met the 2nd grade boy I was paired up with, and he was very bright and enthusiastic, also a little nervous. I was a little nervous myself, but I think we’ll do well together. The site coordinator was friendly and helpful, and there were a couple of other tutors there with me. One said she had been tutoring with the program at a different school for three years, and the other said it was his first time. I have been teaching and tutoring for the past six years or so, but this is my first experience as a volunteer with this particular program. I’m tutoring once a week through May, so I think that’s a manageable commitment. Hooray for reading!

During my tutoring session I was pretty focused on my student, so I wasn’t worried about the voices. Last night I told my husband that I heard a voice say, You have to be honest about it if you want other people to believe you. I told him I didn’t know what they were referring to. He said not to try to make sense of what they say. I should be ignoring them. Most of the time I can, but not always. Earlier this morning, while I was chanting, and then getting ready afterward in the bathroom, I heard them say, You should work on having more compassion. Why don’t you get rid of yourself. She’s just doing it to get back at us. Your every thought is being recorded. Sometimes it sounds as if there are different people talking at the same time, and what they are saying gets all mixed up. Other times, it’s just one voice, sometimes male, sometimes female. I thought briefly about having my thoughts recorded. One of the symptoms of schizophrenia is “thought broadcasting”, where it seems like your thoughts are being broadcast out into the environment. I can’t imagine anyone sitting around actually writing all my thoughts down. Who would spend their time doing that? No one.

I have to make sure not to get carried away or caught up in what the voices say because it leads to paranoia and pointless worry. I found another Buddhist quote yesterday in my newspaper. It reads, Doubt is the source of fundamental delusion in life; it is what Buddhism calls fundamental darkness. It gives rise to anxiety and drags us into the depths of despair. Faith, meanwhile, is the struggle against the doubt that resides within our hearts. The power to win in that struggle comes from chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. The quote is referring to doubt we may have about ourselves and the existence of our own Buddha or enlightened nature, as well as the Buddha nature of others. Every day, twice a day, I chant to tap into my Buddha nature so that this enlightened part of me becomes stronger, and so that I am not discouraged by the voices or by what I hear. It takes consistent effort, but it’s definitely worth it.

Life Is A Multitude of Opportunities

I had a better day yesterday than on Saturday or Sunday. I met with my therapist last night, and we talked about my depression over the weekend. I told her how the voices affected me and made me sad. We discussed mindfulness for a little while. I had started doing research online about mindfulness, but I didn’t get a very clear idea of what it was. She told me it is about staying focused and in the moment. Sometimes I have a million thoughts going through my head, and I can’t keep my mind focused on what I am doing. It takes a lot of effort. Julie also suggested that I not pay attention to the voices, but rather focus on my own thoughts, and how they affect my emotions and my behavior. I keep moving forward and try not to get caught up in what they are saying. If I do, it’s like I’m falling into a trap, a swirling vortex that goes nowhere.

This morning while I was filling out some paperwork, I heard someone say, We want you to be truthful about it. I think they were referring to the paperwork I was filling out. I noticed that my voices start a lot of their sentences with that phrase: We want. In the past, they have said things like: We want you to give up on it, we want you to give up on your life with your husband, we want you to take responsibility for it, we want you to give up on your Buddhist practice, we want you to give up on your book, we want you to tell your psychiatrist you don’t have schizoaffective disorder, we want you to go through this alone, and the list goes on. I have no intention of living my life according to what they want. So far, I haven’t actually done anything they’ve wanted me to do except I stopped chanting for about a month after I was in the hospital in May. It didn’t change anything. There was also the time I tried to make an agreement with them. I said I would only chant for half an hour a day, and they were supposed to stop threatening me and my husband (they were always saying they were going to kill John if I didn’t stop chanting). That didn’t work either. I still heard threats.

I chant for courage, wisdom, and compassion. I need the wisdom to make the right decisions, courage to achieve my goals and conquer my illness, and compassion for other people. My husband and I were watching the movie Evan Almighty a few days ago where Morgan Freeman plays God and tells Steve Carell to build an ark. Toward the end of the movie, Evan is talking with God. Even tells God how he prayed for his family to grow closer together, and for courage. God tells him to think about how his prayers were answered. God didn’t magically bestow him with courage or his family with love. Instead, he gave Evan the opportunity to be courageous, and he gave his family the opportunity to grow closer together through their experience building the ark.

I like that perspective. Rather than our prayers somehow magically transforming us, life gives us the opportunity to demonstrate and develop the qualities we are praying for. I am praying for courage, wisdom, and compassion. My own life experiences are the opportunities I have to develop these qualities, and encourage others. Thanks Evan!