la quemada means “the burnt one”
I first chose that name when I first created this blog. At the time, I sometimes dealt with my emotional distress by burning myself. It was a little clunky for back-and-forth conversations with others here on WordPress, however, so it quickly got shortened to simply “Q.” Now, nearly three years later, Q feels like a part of my identity.
For years, I used to think of my depression as a chronic condition that needed to be managed to avoid or minimize “flare-ups.” When I started this blog in the spring of 2015, I was in the midst of the worst flare-up I’ve experienced in the last 20 years. Many of the coping mechanisms I had used over the years weren’t getting me anywhere (I’ll admit, some were not especially constructive). I had been using tools such as
- repressing or minimizing abuse experiences
- taking psychiatric medications, so many different ones
- harming myself intentionally (the burning I referred to)
- burying myself in work
- reading psychological research, usually looking for “proof” that my abuse was minor or made-up
- hiding my despair and trying to put a bright face on things
I finally reached the point where I literally could not keep going as I had. I realized that although I had been going to therapy, but I wasn’t giving it my full effort. I was somehow thinking that E was going to “fix” me. (And why couldn’t she hurry up about it?!) Something had to change, or else.
I began to invest in my therapy more deeply. I began to speak of experiences that I had kept hidden for years, even from my therapist. I started to approach the trauma that hurt and shamed me the most.
In the midst of those early efforts, I started this blog. I didn’t have any particular goal for it, except to put what I was thinking and learning and struggling all in one place. I noticed that when I let myself express what I was really thinking and feeling, it was a bit weird, but in an interesting way. I wanted to document that interesting weirdness.
In September 2016, I quit a fast-paced, high-stress, though interesting and rewarding job. For a little while, I managed on savings, but I have had to figure out something else to do for an income. Currently (winter 2018), I consult part-time and try to protect time to improve my health, physical and emotional. It’s a long-term project, with lots of stumbles along the way.
La Quemada Blog
Over time, I have had a variety of story lines running through my posts. One that continues is about what’s going on in therapy and my work to heal from past sexual abuse and to learn to trust deeply. For a time, I did this by writing about the characters–Depression, Self-Loathing, Hope–who populate my internal emotional House. This faded away for a time, but I may resurrect it. Another story line documents my experience going through pelvic organ surgery in April 2016 (follow the tags “hysterectomy” or”sacrocolpopexy”.) And then every once in a while, I write about trips I take. International travel is still my favorite anti-depressant.
Some days I think I am making progress. Other days I think I’ll always be depressed. I expect that the tone will continue to fluctuate over time. Hopeful or not, I do know that writing for this blog, reading the blogs of others, and reading people’s kind and encouraging comments have been part of what has helped me through this challenging year. Thank you for visiting my site.
If you want to know a bit more about the person behind the blog, there’s more here:
Clinical and Personal Details. Diagnoses, medications, where I live, how I write about real people and places.
The Backstory Not everyone will want to know my whole history, but if it helps you understand me, you can get a sense of the abusers who’ve shaped my life in the past. I wrote them all down as a way to decrease their power over me. (I’m working now on learning to shape my own life.) Warning: it’s pretty explicit in places, so not for everyone.
My favorite posts (these change periodically):
The Path From Lost. I wrote this in March 2016, when for the first time I felt that everything I was learning in therapy was finally starting to come together and make sense (which doesn’t mean I can always apply it, of course.)
25 Reasons Not To Trust Your Therapist. I do trust my therapist! She’s calm and wise and really there for me. But that doesn’t stop me from being irrational about it all sometimes. And seeing some humor in that irrationality.
Developing Mindful Empathy to Heal Toxic Shame. This is what the work of healing is ultimately about, I believe: creating the mental space to hold and accept all of our feelings, even our deepest shame.
Please call me Q–it’s shorter and easier.
You can email me here: firstname.lastname@example.org Just realize I don’t check this every day, so please be patient. I will reply.
Check out my Pinterest page for articles and inspiration.