But to get back to what I started off by saying... yes, things went downhill last year, or as one psychiatrist once put it: "tits up". This time it sort of went 'tits up' quite gradually at first but at around October last year, made a rather dramatic belly flop which saw me going off on sick leave from work and losing the ability or will to do much at all. October was over four months ago and I am still off work but I have now been off longer than the entire duration of my sick leave of the 2012 'crash' and I don't feel anywhere near being able to go back to work. I can't imagine managing it.
"So what went wrong last year?" I hear you ask (the question every health professional I've seen since October wants the answer to). I don't know. I hypothesise that it was not any one thing on its own but a number of things that combined to mean I was struggling a lot and then there was a final straw on my back that just sent me over the edge.
First, I think having DID maybe just makes me fragile. Don't take that the wrong way, I don't mean that if you have DID it's because you're weak or anything... I just mean... if you're managing having a dissociative disorder, you're already managing A LOT. It can be hard just coping with daily life when you find yourself variable, triggered without notice, losing yourself, losing the world, absorbed then detached, exhausted... whatever way you find yourself. It's hard. Dissociation is only useful when it's useful. In other words, it was once useful for me to blank things out and forget or not feel when bad stuff happened but nowadays it causes more trouble than it's worth but it still happens. So when everything is hunky dory, it can still be tricky managing 'normal' life and it doesn't take an awful lot to make managing impossible.
The happenings of last year in a nutshell were because of family stuff. I don't want to delve into this too much but to summarise: someone who hurt me a lot and who I still have trouble thinking about moved to live near me, having been far away for a long time. OK it was my father: it's no big secret that he hurt me. He's a very volatile person and I'm pretty sure is completely narcissistic (if not a psychopath). I have managed my feelings about him by not having much to do with him recently. The knowledge that he was moving to live near me sent me into a tailspin and I noticed a clear decline in my functioning from the very week I heard about it.
This has been a huge thing actually. I didn't see him after he moved and after being ambivalent about if I even wanted to see him, he cut me off from the little contact we did have. You know how it is... it was a relief in a way but it still hurt. I don't want my dad in my life because he still hurts me, yet I love him and there's nothing I want more than to be loved by him. I guess last year involved a further realisation (because I'm so thick the previous years' of my life hadn't proved it enough) that he doesn't love me and being rejected by him was hard even though it was a relief not to have to worry about seeing him. I still do worry though. He knows where I live and I know what he's like. I wouldn't be surprised if he turns up on my doorstep one day.
What happens when narcissistic people have kids? I am no psychologist but I guess they end up producing people like me, who believe they are worthless and feel like they will never be good enough to be loved. They also seem to be able to produce people like themselves too and that is where two of my siblings come in, who have inherited or learnt to be completely self absorbed, combined with completely lacking in self worth but at the same time feeling like the whole world owes them something and feeling the need to constantly criticise and put others down. Nothing and no one is ever good enough for these two and the problems in their lives (of which there are many) are everyone Else's fault, including mine apparently. One of my siblings fell out with me last year because I stood up for myself for the first time after always ignoring their outbursts. We haven't really spoken since as they refuse to talk about what happened.
The other one, just never contacts me unless I contact her and I miss her, yet having seen her once last year and once this year so far, I'm afraid I may be better off missing her rather than spending time with someone so self obsessed and uninterested and then feeling bad about that. I saw her recently for the first time in a year. I've tried to arrange meet ups before but she just wouldn't bother replying. I finally managed to get her to come to my house and I made loads of effort to make it really nice for her. I asked her all about her work and made conversation about her interests when we were chatting, as you do when you're interested in someone. She didn't ask me one single question! She just went on and on about herself and how fabulous she is. And there I was worrying about what I'd say if she asked me how work was going; turns out I needn't have worried. Not that I'm really surprised. I shouldn't be at all surprised by now.
I think it's easy for people around me to look at my family dramas and think 'that's nothing new' because my family has had its dramas for many years (honestly, we could have our own show). It may not be obvious to people though that the past year might have affected me more than others because I am not usually involved in the dramas to the extent of last year. I mean, people got annoyed with me for no reason in the past and fell out with each other and all that but I never made a stand until the past year or so. I always let people just get on with it. I am proud of myself for standing up for myself to some degree but I am sad because I feel I have lost my father for good and two of my siblings.
My remaining grandparents died within the past year or so too, in unpleasant circumstances and although I wasn't close with them, it was another strain and also highlighted to me what I hadnt had with them.
Ugh, this post is full of self pity and I didn't mean it to be like that. It's also way too long. I wanted to write a summary of what happened, not a book.
The other thing that has been hard was work. I'm definitely not going to blab on about this. It's just been really hard to manage even while taking annual leave a day a week to help me attend clinical psychology sessions and recover. My functioning was not so good after the family stuff and what little EMDR we did manage affected it further and then I started getting negative feedback and negative 'vibes' from my team and my confidence in my ability got a real knock... I don't think it recovered. I don't know if it is me or not that is the problem. In a way I think the demands placed on me were unrealistic but then I wonder if I'm just protecting my ego by thinking that. In reality it was probably both unrealistic demands and my decline in functioning that was making work become a real nightmare. I was really struggling to manage working as my mental health was not good but it wasn't doing me any favours as I was just getting told I wasn't good enough. I should have gone on sick leave as soon as I felt unwell really instead of trying to keep going and not managing well. The demands aren't likely to get any easier if I do go back and if I'm honest, makes me scared of getting well enough to go back. If I get back to my DID baseline, I still won't be able to manage.
The final straw on the Candy's back last year came when I basically sabotaged my relationship with T, my clinical psychologist, just as we were getting started on the EMDR. I had noticed that she was acting differently towards me for a month or two (she seemed cold and unresponsive) and I think this triggered off my internal debates about my relationship with her and her feelings about me. There was so much going on in my head, a lot to do with thinking she hates me and parts wanting to know if she really would be there for me if we needed her and I guess I thought the best way to handle that was to try to find out from her what she actually did feel and to see how 'there for us' she could be... that backfired (or worked perfectly depending on who's looking at it) when she told me, and I quote, that she "neither likes nor dislikes" me. SLAP IN THE FACE! I know I'd worried that she didn't like me so I should have been reassured but I think some part of me felt like she did like me; I thought I had sensed an affection from her.
I also asked if she minded me emailing as I had used this as a way of managing when I was having a particularly bad time between sessions. I'd done it for a while and she generally would have just given me a short reply but I'd never really discussed with her if she minded and I guess I got to a point where I wanted to know if she did because I didn't want to do it if she didn't feel happy with me doing it. She said she didn't mind but that she couldn't guarantee she'd read it immediately. I was fine with that but then she decided to make some kind of 'boundary' and say that she wasn't going to read anything I sent her until just before my session with her and that she wasn't going to send responses. I felt bad about this as the point of me sending them really was to feel like I had shared my pain with her and she could hold it until I met with her. I didn't really mind her not replying as she never had said much anyway, only to acknowledge the email but knowing that it wouldn't be read meant I hadn't really shared my pain with her, it would just be sitting in her email folder waiting until the session, so what's the point as I wouldn't feel like I'd told her and she'd hold it (this may not make sense as I haven't explained it well, but it does in my mind). She also let slip that she didn't like me emailing her, even though she said she didn't mind, but it came out without her meaning to say it or I think, noticing that she'd said it, later in one of our painful discussions where we were trying to understand each other and why it was such a big deal for me. She also said something, another slip, about not being a match or something. I can't remember the words but at the time it seemed like she felt we weren't 'working'.
It is hard to be told by someone who to you has become the nearest thing to a healthy parent relationship you've had, that they don't like you and to find out that your emails, which have been a real coping mechanism for you, are actually bothersome to them. Especially when some of your biggest issues are to do with feeling like you are unlovable and you grew up knowing that you came into the world 'a mistake'.
I just can't get my head around it. It may seem like a small setback, but those conversations with T shattered me. That was not the straw that broke the camels back really, it was the avalanche that completely engulfed me and the truth is I'm still lost in the snow, although I think now, four months later, it's like I've managed to craft myself some sort of igloo underneath it and I'm surviving by passing each day not thinking of how to get out, because escape seems unlikely, but just waiting for the days to pass to bring me closer to whatever way I will die. I think I've lost the will to even make it out. I'm painfully content in this dark place where I don't have to be living anymore, even though I'm not technically dead.