Monday, 15 August 2011

Function mode: once and for all

OK, I AM going to write a blog post. I AM! I have tried to write a few recently and not gotten much further than one sentence before giving up or getting distracted.

Today I had one of those moments where you find out you have no recollection of having done the thing you are being told you did. Apparently I had a whole conversation with this woman on the phone and arranged to give her some resources that she needed for a group programme she's running. She rang today to say it is starting tomorrow and she hasn't received the stuff. I didn't even recognise her name and can't remember such a conversation. It's funny because I was only remarking to myself a few days ago that I haven't seen as much evidence of memory lapses lately. 

As the more observant and devoted followers amongst you (that's all of you, I'm sure!) may have noticed from previous posts I've been in function mode lately. I've talked about function mode here, here, and here to name a few (wow, I really like talking about function mode don't I?!) but in case you can't be bothered reading those posts, function mode is a state of being where I am quite out of touch with my 'parts' or alters and have few positive or negative emotions. Life can be quite easy in function mode. I do my job. I don't 'think' and am not in touch with alters therefore I am not affected by them and my energy levels don't get drained by the psychological stress of living with many people in my head. I might find I even have a bit of energy for things like housework or hobbies (not always, but sometimes). In function mode I have a universal lack of interest. I have no interest in myself; no interest in others; I neglect friendships as I drift off into a world of nothingness. It doesn't worry me that I'm shutting down from everything, because I have no interest. It's a catch 22 situation (or is it? I've never been entirely sure what that means... but hopefully you know what I'm getting at).

There are two ways to come out of function mode. One is when I catch on to myself and realise that I need to get out of it and then work really really hard at trying to get out of it over a period of time. I do this by listening really carefully to what's going on in my head (what the voices are saying) and trying to open myself up to communicating with others inside. I also look over things parts have written and sometimes reading my blog is helpful. Trying to write blog posts can help too (which is what I'm doing now. You wouldn't believe how long it has taken me to write this much). It's hard to get out of function mode this way as it takes motivation (something I lack in function mode) and perseverance.

The second way to come out of function mode is with a crash. This is a really painful way and is dangerous. It will most commonly happen if I attend therapy in function mode and am asked to think and talk about parts. Quite often I will feel the parts start to stir and it causes very unmanageable feelings. It could also happen if something upsetting happens in the course of my day, like a bad argument with Adam or if something big triggers me. Then I will most likely plunge from my clouds of nothingness into sudden despair and this I call 'dangerous' because self harm can be a likely option for helping to manage the painful feelings.

So how did I get myself into function mode and how can I get out of it this time? I think it was inevitable. It started off when my therapist went on holiday and I subconsciously (maybe partly consciously) felt it would be best to shut down any feelings or thoughts just in case I might have a crisis while she was away and not be able to contact her. It seemed like the simplest option. But she's back now and I've had two therapy sessions in function mode and am still in it, so what the heck is the problem?

I think it's simply that work has been so difficult lately and my health hasn't been so good so function mode has been a coping mechanism. Keeping on top of work, worrying about my liver and trying to figure out my head all just got too much and something had to go. It puts me in two minds as to whether it's a good idea to get out of it or not though. I'm obviously in it because it is a difficult time, but it holds me back from progressing in my therapy sessions and when will be a good time to come out of it (bear in mind I have spent several years in function mode in the past)? 

Which leads to the question: why not just stay in function mode forever then and forget therapy? Function mode has several down sides: firstly, I am more inclined to feel physically ill (somatization), secondly I am much more likely to self harm (suggesting that things are still going on, I am just disconnected from it: or as T might say, other parts are being ignored and trying to get noticed); thirdly, I don't feel bad but I am alone and eventually, sooner or later, I will feel that 'aloneness' once I have pushed everyone out of my life (not many people left until I achieve that!). Struggling through therapy is painful, but my reason for persisting is that in time, I hope to be able to experience not just 'nothingness' but happiness and peace and enjoyment from life. I hope that one day the world and everyone in it won't seem like a monster that's about to get me. One day I wish to see the world as a place where I belong and can feel safe.
For now, I will have to learn to let pain and frustration and hurt overwhelm me. It's a painful investment I will make which I hope will pay off in the end to give me the kind of life I see others living. One with acceptance... many kinds of acceptance.

This post contained excessive use of the words: 'function mode'. Once you notice it it's like when you suddenly notice the annoying canned laughter in a sitcom and then can't help but notice it at every joke where you may have been watching the comedy for years and it never bothered you before. I put this FYI at the end because if I'd pointed it out at the start you wouldn't have been able to concentrate on what I was saying for noticing my overuse of the words. You're welcome :P


Sandy said...

I hate memory lapses, but you have been very distracted and it is hard for anyone to remember everything with so much going on.
My therapist always suggests I do nice little things for myself when I am just "functioning". A warm bubble bath, paint your nails, buy yourself some flowers. Gentle little ways to say to yourself "I may just be functioning, but I still care about my wellbeing." It sends a message to your parts that while things are rough it is still safe and someone is at least trying to steer the ship. So, in the great words of my therapist Suzanne, be gentle with yourself :) Have you ever seen Finding Nemo? I relate to Dory, the funny fish with a memory lapse problem. And she says just keep swimming! :)

Candycan said...

It's funny, I was thinking about Dory when I was writing that! Somedays I do have a head like a goldfish too.
I like your suggestion about doing something nice to send a message to other parts.
I'm panicking a bit now because I have a session in the morning and I'm so far from myself still.
Thanks for your comments :)

JustEliza said...

My therapist said the same thing about doing nice things for myself -- taking care of myself. It was difficult (and still not a habit) but it did help me be more mindful about the pervasive detachment from and denial of my own needs. We need to learn new ways of connecting with ourselves.