Saturday, 31 December 2011

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Yeah... not really sure what this is about so feel free to check it out by clicking on the title of this post or ignore it. Just trying something new. C

Friday, 30 December 2011

Altercations with alters

Ugh! Fuck.

...gathers self...

I mean, 'Hello World.' You may have noticed I am feeling a little bit peeved just at this moment. That is mainly due to two things, one being that I went back to work today. Did I tell you about the email I sent my manager on my last day before Christmas? I can't recall if I did, but it was basically explaining that the 'little extra work session' she had given me to do each week is turning out to be much more than that and that I don't have the time to do all of my other work. Well today I found a courteous email from her saying that we would need to discuss my workload and that she had looked at it previously and felt that I didn't have too much on! (Fucking ba&"*&d c$^"!!!!... ....gathers self again....). Now I am fucking shitting myself because I will have to defend myself face to face and confrontation makes me crumble like a fucking digestive biscuit. OK don't panic people... breathe... be logical. There's only one thing for it: I will have to prepare my case. Enough thinking about it for now though.
The second thing that has gotten on my goat is fucking SHAN (alter). She doesn't bother me much. She doesn't engage with me much. For the most part she doesn't come out much. She has a relationship with the world and Adam but not so much with 'us'. I am generally happy not to think about her or engage with her too. Not that I don't appreciate the role she has in our life, but I just don't feel the need to be best buds with her. But I can't help but feel she is responsible for T's Christmas card going missing before we got to give it to her.

For some reason, this year Shan decided to write her own card to give to T. Don't ask me why because as far as we're aware she has never really communicated with her in the sessions but meh. Candy did feel a bit embarrassed about the fact that Shan felt the need to write T a separate card whenever we had planned on sending a card from Candycan that would surely do as an all rounder. So anyway, we had the card from 'us' and the card from Shan and a letter from Pan which was really special. We really liked what Pan had said in it and it held an explanation about a picture that Pan and Little C had done for T with some assistance from Candy.

So the last thing I remember is it being the night before we were due to see her before Christmas. I had the card from 'us' and I was putting the letter and the card from Shan inside the envelope of the card from us. At this point Shan told Candy she shouldn't be so fucking arrogant and pompous to think that Shan was just an alter and Candy was the 'main person'. She didn't want Candy to put her card inside the other one and said that she had every right to give it to T herself and was not a sub part. Candy kind of ignored her and kept putting it in, thinking that it was fucking embarrassing anyway that we even had to give the fucking card to T... and that's the last I remember about it. I can't for the life of me remember what I did with it after that and I haven't seen it since. I felt sure it would turn up but this was now (erm hold on, I've lost count of what day it is...) over a week ago and I have looked everywhere I can think of, several times. I am coming to the conclusion that Shan has done something with it and not told me to spite us all. She's so stubborn! Ugh!

T said that if it turned up it would be OK to drop it into her tomorrow, which I think may be her last day. But it hasn't turned up and it doesn't look like it is going to. I just hope it hasn't gotten into someone else's hands cos that would be really embarrassing. It's embarrassing enough showing these parts of myself to T, even through written communication. I would not like for someone else to be reading things written by us. I'll get over it. I'm sure it's no loss to T, it's more Pan's letter that I am annoyed about. Shan, if it was you, why and where the fuck have you put it?!

So anyway, those are the two annoying things. Sorry for the swearing; although my apology is probably a bit late because anyone who is offended by the F word  will likely have stopped reading long ago. Sometimes it just needs to be used though I'm afraid.

My final thought for the day (I'm aware that I still haven't told you anything about Christmas and there are a few other things I need to talk about too but they will have to wait for another day) is that whilst combing through every scrap of paper and diary I own this evening (again) looking for the cursed card, I noticed that I didn't keep any kind of written record of the time between my old psychologist leaving at the end of 2008 and my starting with T or the weeks surrounding that time. From memory, I know it was really, really hard and I was not coping well or functioning on any real level, but I didn't write a thing down about it. This has always been my way. I've kept diaries on and off from the age of eleven and when I've looked back to search for words written about my pain years ago, I find pages and pages of writing about stuff but very few mentions of the real pain and the real hurt in my life. I have tended to shut down from those things and not record them. There is very little talk of my father in any of my diaries, even though he has been probably the biggest cause of why I am so fucked up now. The first psychologist leaving was really hard and I did the same thing obviously. I went into myself and didn't express how it was on paper because I didn't want to have any reminders set down on paper for the future, I guess.

So, presumably, one day I will look back at the end of 2011 and wonder how it was for me then when T left. I will want to find some words of expression about how I reacted and what I was feeling, so I will try hard not to hide from blogging. Although at the very moment I say this to you I am aware that while I was combing through the papers earlier, I was piling them up and putting them inside a plastic folder and shutting it and someone inside me was saying "good bye everyone, I'm locking you in here until T comes back." So I guess I need to think this through and make a decision. Am I going to face how things feel and try my hardest to express them and even to feel them, or am I going to let a shut down happen and switch myself into function mode? Part of me is tempted to not go to see the new psychologist next week and just see what happens if I try to pretend I am not someone with mental health problems for a few months.

I also went to the doctors today and asked about medication. She invariably has tried to convince me to take it every time I have seen her and I've usually declined, but now I am seriously thinking it's time I stop being a fucking naive ostrich and realise that I'm not doing too well on my own. She spent half an hour talking through the different types of tablets and wrote me a list of names of types. She said I should research them myself and let her know what I thought. They are: SSRIs (which I took before and she said we would probably avoid because they made my already barely existent libido, non existent altogether), venlafaxine, duloxetine and mirtazepine (she seemed to think this mirtazepine one might help with my sleeping problems a bit). She also talked about tricyclic antidepressants and said that these were too sedating and not beneficial enough to warrant that effect so she wouldn't recommend these. She also questioned whether my problems with libido were due to being on an antidepressant or other factors and I felt my head whooshing and she started to look a bit blotchy but I managed to get out that I knew it was to do with other things but that the SSRIs had made it worse.

She strikes me as the kind of lady who thinks that we should all just look on the bright side and that things are never that bad and maybe you're just being a bit over dramatic and you can't be that sick cos you go to work etc. That's great for her. I think that's a good ethos... I doubt she would be saying that if she saw what is going on in my head and perhaps got a few snapshots of me at various moments throughout any given week when I'm not going to work or sitting in her office looking like a half normal person. Or perhaps if she had some of the flashbacks and nightmares, she might feel a bit less motivated to look on the bright side. Not that I would want to burst her bubble, and besides, my hope rests in the knowledge that people like her exist: people who don't know what it's like to feel like your innocence and joy and peace and ability to trust were taken from you before you even knew the meaning of those words. I rely on people who see the good in life, because she help me to think that perhaps there is good in life and there is a way to wake up in the morning and feel like you are embracing being alive in this world.

So that's all for today. I am still feeling surprisingly OK. But then, I am still knowing that T is at work, I get  a lot of reassurance from that. How will I feel come next week when I am sitting in the waiting room outside of her office waiting to meet new psychologist and T is not there?

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The final session

Today was my last (ever?) session with my psychologist, T. I have been dreading this day now for a year and found myself not wanting to go to bed last night because you know how when you fall asleep it's suddenly the next day? Well, I had some kind of theory that if I stayed awake, tomorrow wouldn't be allowed to arrive. I think I had trouble letting go of the theory because even though I fell asleep by about 2am, I sort of felt awake all night.

I spent the day yesterday trying to do as much housework as I could manage. I felt pretty exhausted all day. One of those days where my heart is constantly doing palpitations, my eyes have constant black blotches in front of them and all of my joints ache. I thought I'd better try to get as much done as I could though because I feared that after seeing T for the last time I might be rendered incapable of functioning on any level. So; slow, lethargic, laboured, dragging movements with frequent sit downs was my day yesterday. I managed to get a lot of underwear sorted out and put in drawers, most of the clean clothes off the floor and into cupboards, two toilets cleaned, my bedroom partially tidied and the bedding changed as well as several goes at trying to get the seemingly dead washing machine door opened.

I also managed to get my toenails cut. This was well overdue and I have been hobbling around for weeks telling myself I need to do it. I think I partially avoid doing these self maintenance things on purpose. I intentionally neglect myself. I think it's an extremely passive form of self harm. The only reason I actually did it yesterday was because while tidying my bedroom I found a list I had written called 'How to be alive' and the first point on the list was 'Cut your toenails.' I then subsequently found my nail clippers under the bed and well, I thought, if this is not the right time then it never will be and frankly, I was having trouble getting my slippers to fit. The housework I did was for me monumental in terms of recent activity and thinking about it now I feel kind of proud of myself. The problem with doing housework is that once I start doing it, I start becoming aware of how much there is that still needs to be done.

So anyway: today... T... Last session... we talked about the meltdown and email I had sent her on Friday. Well, I talked, T asked the questions. She wanted to know what had caused it and what had happened afterwards. I told her about calling Lifeline etc. She didn't give much feedback except to say that maybe crying isn't such a bad thing and perhaps I needed it? I know they say a good cry can help but I feel like when I cry it just brings to mind and heart a lot of the things I spend my life avoiding thinking about. "Candy, you're not exactly thriving with your current avoidance tactics", I hear you say. Hmph!

Well, maybe you're right. But it's not like I feel like crying and don't let myself. Most of the time I don't feel like crying. I think the avoidance is more unconscious. I do shed the odd tear. I felt my eyes well up in the supermarket on Christmas eve when I saw an old man looking at the ready meals and I felt so sad that someone might be alone and eating a microwave dinner on Christmas day. (I do have a heart!) I have cried in therapy sessions but it always feels more detached. It's more like a physical shedding of tears without the understanding about why and certainly not the intensity of the sobbing of last Friday. I don't think it would be easy for anyone to sit and watch me if I was crying the way I did then in a therapy session. Anyway, I still feel bad about ringing Lifeline. I feel like it's not for people like me. I should not need to ask for help from a stranger. And maybe I shouldn't have. I don't know. I don't want to think about it just now. T didn't say anything about it either and I wondered if she thought I shouldn't have either. I feel like enough of a drain on society as it is.

We talked about a few other things and rounded things up with some general chat. T suggested that I might be feeling abandoned and annoyed with her for leaving. I was surprised that she said this given that I felt before like she didn't want to talk about the feelings about her departure. I honestly don't think I am angry with her. My old psychologist often used to say that I might be angry with him. Do I look angry? I know I have a very serious face and sometimes an unintentional glare (I have inherited that from my dad although with him it was often a sign that he was about to let rip at me) but I honestly don't feel angry with her and didn't with old psychologist either. Maybe I am just completely in denial of anger? Well, if I am angry and don't know it, then doesn't that mean I'm not angry?

Anyway, moving on. For it being the last session, it went quite well. I wasn't sure what to expect and I had visions of one of the kids taking over and me clinging onto her leg crying and refusing to leave. I said we would all miss her and she said she would be thinking of us and felt confident that we would be cared for while she was away. I didn't feel that expected sinking feeling as I walked out the door and I didn't get to my car and plunge into despair. I got home and changed into my pyjamas, half expecting that at any moment I would be struck down with the despair and physical heaviness of sorrow. I sat on my bed for a bit quietly, wanting to let things wash over me before Adam realised I was home. I became aware that he was boiling the kettle, which could only mean he knew I was here because he doesn't drink tea, so I made my way downstairs and saw him just as I was coming down. He came out of the kitchen and I could see him looking at me expectantly, waiting and trying to assess how bad things were. I could see the surprise on his face when I opened my mouth and a chirpy sounding child said: "Hello!" in a friendly way. No one was more surprised than me. That was at lunchtime.

I have been feeling in limbo all day since. I feel really surprised and pleased that I haven't felt bad at all. In fact, I have felt surprisingly good. At the same time, I'm nervous that at any moment it is going to hit me that she is gone and I will crash. I am treading very carefully, because maybe if I can avoid anything triggering, I might be able to prevent the crash from happening. I have warned Adam that he should be nice to me. I have a suspicion that another fight with him could seal my fate. I'm not counting my chickens; we'll just have to play it by ear. But I will say, it has been really great to not feel bad today. It has felt lovely to enjoy being off work instead of lying in my bed crying as I had expected to be. My feelings about T just now are that she is still real, she still exists and she will come back and it's only six months. It's not forever. I know I might not be able to maintain this view and maybe I am just one part who is helping today, but for now, it's a good thing.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Calling Lifeline

I'm feeling behind with my blogging, which if ever I am going to be, is probably OK at this time of year as you may all be as busy as I have been... I feel your pain.

Last Friday I had a meltdown. I was off work (although being off work apparently means getting up in the morning and writing up clinics on the living room floor for an hour) and we were invited to Katie's and her husband's for a roast dinner with some of their friends. Katie is the sister I see most of despite our history. I think of her as a different person now. Yet it's still difficult and if I see her too much I find I feel the need to avoid her for a while. I don't know if the fact that I've seen her a lot lately had any bearing on what happened on the way home.

Adam and I got into an argument about something and we got really angry with each other. I don't want to relive it with you now but I felt SO angry with Adam and he was obviously angry with me. He drove home like a maniac and went in the house and slammed the door, leaving me in the car. That's when the meltdown happened. I can't cope with fighting with Adam. When we are not friends I feel like I have nothing left in the World. I have so little in my life that I feel is good that when Adam is angry with me I feel I have nothing left. If I don't have Adam, I have no one. I think this feeling was made much worse by the approaching departure of my psychologist, T, who as you may know from previous posts, I am much too attached to for anyone's good.

Ebony was out now. I put my seat back in the car and curled up in a ball did what I very, very rarely do: I cried and cried and sobbed and cried and bawled my eyes out (Ebony did). I must have stayed there for over an hour sobbing my heart out. By the time I sat up to look in the mirror my right eye was swollen up so much I couldn't even open it and I had lost the ability to breathe through my nose a long time earlier.

It's hard to describe how low I felt at that point. I thought about my life and the people in it and I felt so alone; I wanted someone to comfort me and talk to me. I realised that T and Adam are the only people in my life who have any idea of the pain I carry and who can support me in any way and at that moment, I had neither T nor Adam to lean on. I realised how lonely my life really is. My heart hurt so badly I wanted to die. I hoped it was actually going to break so that I would just stop living. It felt like it would. I was feeling all the pain of every hurting moment in my life. I didn't know what to do. I knew if I went back in the house, Adam would be there and the opportunity to self harm would be there if Adam was asleep. I couldn't bear just doing nothing so I wrote my T an email (from Ebony). I knew she wouldn't get it as she would be off on holidays but I didn't care, I just hoped it might help me to feel less alone somehow, or unburdened in some way. It was this:

I know you won't get this T but i don't know anyone else i can 
contact for help just now and maybe sending this will help me even 
though you won't get it until Wednesday. I'm in my car and i can't go 
in my house because i know what will happen if i do. i want to use the 
glass i hid in the house and if i go in i will an closer to it. i want 
to run away but i know I'm better to stay in my car. i feel so alone 
just now. i have no one. i don't know what to do. i can't stop crying 
and feeling all the pain at once. i need help but i don't know who to 
call. i can't go on like this anymore. I'm sorry for this and it not 
making sense. i just don't know what to do. it hurts too much. I'm 
sorry for bothering you. E

It didn't help much to be honest. Later on I found myself getting out of the car and walking down the road. I was still sobbing. I walked and walked until I reached the main road and I didn't know what to do so I went into the car park of the local health centre and curled up in the corner by a wall and continued crying. I knew it wasn't safe but I didn't care. I remembered that T had given me the number for 'Lifeline' before. I couldn't remember if it was only for people who were suicidal but I felt so lost and alone and hopeless and it was the only thing I could think of to help me at that moment. Maybe if I spoke to a stranger they could help me feel better enough to go home so that I wouldn't need to sit in the freezing car park all night and risk goodness knows what happening to me. So I dialled the number and braced myself...

A young sounding lady answered and asked how she could help. I hadn't thought this through; I didn't know what to say. The memory of ringing 'Childline' as an eleven or twelve year old and hanging up because I didn't actually know what was wrong with me to be able to verbalise it so someone popped into my head. I wasn't going to hang up this time. After she asked me if anyone was there I managed to express that I didn't know what to say. She asked me lots of questions about where I was and so on and wanted me to give her my name and address and date of birth and telephone number and I felt pressurised. I didn't want to share those details but I didn't have the strength of mind at that moment to protest too much so I gave in to all but my address.

We must have talked for a while and I did calm down while she was asking me questions but I couldn't help feeling that she didn't want me to explain to her what was wrong or help me in any other way except convince me to go home where I would be safer. I was surprised as well because I felt like she wasn't really listening to me. She kept interrupting and trying to finish my sentences and I picked up on a couple of things she said that showed she hadn't been listening to me earlier. I would have felt more angry if I hadn't been so desperate just to talk to someone. I tried to explain that I was scared to go home because I knew I would self harm but she didn't really seem to be getting it. The conversation helped in that her hassling me to get out of that car park was a distraction enough to bring out another part momentarily but as soon as she talked about going home or hanging up, the horrible feelings surfaced again and the sobs started again.

In the end I realised that this lady couldn't help me to feel any less alone. She talked on the phone with me until I got back to my house and then I got back in my car despite her protestations that I should go into the house and let her speak to my husband so she could tell him to remove my blades and glass etc. I said goodbye and continued sobbing well into the night. I don't really remember how I got back into the house but I do remember that Adam was asleep. I got into bed and cut my wrist with the glass and tears continued to seep out of my now balloon like eyes. Later on Adam woke and comforted me and I must have eventually fallen asleep at about four a.m. on what was now Christmas eve.

When I woke up in the morning my face was still swollen up like a balloon. My eyes were tiny slits in two big puffy balloons (does that happen to anyone else when you cry?). I continued to sob and cry as though the sleep had just been a short interlude and Adam did his best to talk through the argument with me and we decided to forget it. I wasn't crying about it you know. It was just the catalyst. The tears were for everything: for him, for my history, for T leaving, for my wanting to be dead, for my life that I am hating...

But Christmas goes on, whether you are happy or a puffy eyed, depressed alter and so I dragged myself out to Tescos to get provisions for the family gathering which was due to take place at our house that afternoon. I didn't care that people were looking at me in the shops in a way that suggested they were wondering what was wrong with my face. I didn't care that Adam's family would arrive at the house and wonder what the heck had happened to me. I didn't care that it was Christmas eve and I couldn't stop crying. I kept going and sooner or later the switch happened and huddling in the corner of a car park at 2 am seemed like a scene from a TV programme I had seen but not really taken in.

That was Friday. Now it is Tuesday evening and tomorrow is my last session with T before she leaves me for either six months or forever, depending on which way you look at it. I am dreading tomorrow. I am dreading how I am going to cope. I have been feeling physically rough today; I think just a consequence of the last three days of Christmas socialising and too many hugs and the chronic fatigue, but I have been pottering around the house, very slowly and feeling a bit like today is my last day to get things done before the inevitable crash tomorrow. I kept looking at the time and thinking 'this time tomorrow I'll probably be lying in bed crying'. I know you may say I am expecting the worst so I will probably get the worst, but I am not knew to this experience. Last time my psychologist left me I was completely naive and thought somehow it was going to be a positive thing for me and boy did I get a shock. I know exactly what to expect and if I am pleasantly surprised then that will be great.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

How suicidal do you need to be before you talk to someone about it?

I wrote this post on Friday afternoon but got distracted before I finished it. A lot has happened since I wrote it but I'll post this first and hope for some blog time again before too long.

Friday 23rd December
It's hard to believe it's Christmas! I mean that because I have been dissociating a lot over the last weeks... in the way where the world and I seem unreal and unconnected. Derealisation? You'd think by now I'd have the hang of the different types of dissociation and what they mean but it's still unclear. I kinda have my own words for things. I can see the tree and the presents and hear the music but I can't connect with it somehow. I normally love Christmas and get so excited but this year I feel like I am just going through the motions.

I have had a lot on my plate I suppose, what with work stress and T's imminent departure and the prospect of the new year and what it will bring: a new job, a new psychologist and probably a new schedule of hospital appointments for my blood disorder :( I'm not looking forward to any of these things. I'm not relishing the thought of being another year older either. When I first started psychology I felt like I was only just an adult. I felt young. Now I feel old. I'm not old, but I'm aware how quickly time has passed me by over the last ten years and I worry that before I know it I will be old and I will feel like all I've managed to do is struggle through life and with what goal? What actually is my purpose for going to work? It's to pay the mortgage and bills and be able to eat. But why? If my life is taken over by work, what's the point in prolonging it? The only point really is the hope that change will come. Maybe one day I won't be in a job that leaves me with no capacity for a life. There are times when I envy the people who are on DLA (Disability Living Allowance). God knows I'm sure I could qualify for it if I decided to try. Sometimes I think the only thing that stops me is that I have a mortgage to pay so I must go to work. Sometimes I'm not sure what keeps me going but I feel sure that whatever the reason is, it isn't going to keep me going forever.

I'm eventually going to have to face the fact that I don't know what I believe about God and Jesus anymore. I'm going to have to try to come to some sort of agreement within myself about what mybeliefs are in terms of if there is a heaven and hell and what I need to do in order to make sure I don't go to hell if so. It sounds like a stupid concern for people who don't believe, I'm sure. For me it is so huge that I avoid thinking about it because I know I am not going to find definite answers and if I do, the answers are not likely to be the ones I want. This is all very vague, I know. I guess I don't really want to get into it just now. But going through life avoiding it isn't doing me any favours because it's still going on inside. There is still that voice reminding me that I am going to burn in Hell for eternity if I don't get myself sorted out.

I mentioned before that T and I talked about suicide last week. It seemed to be the theme again this week. I find it hard to talk about. T was surprised because I mentioned that last year I had written a suicide letter and she wanted to know a lot about it: why I wrote it, what was in it, had I intended to use it, what stopped me from ending my life etc. Hard questions. I had mentioned it because my thoughts had been centred a lot around suicide recently and I said I was concerned that after she goes things might get a lot worse. She was trying to assess the risk. She wants me to promise that I would ask for help if I felt I needed protected from myself. My problem with that is that I don't know at what stage I should ask for help. If I tell someone when the thoughts are in my head and I'm planning out what way I would do it, without actually having decided for sure that I am going to, I'm just going to cause unneeded stress and upheaval and interventions that might not be necessary if the feelings pass. But if I wait until I have made the decision, I'm not likely to want to tell anyone am I? If you decided suicide was the right choice, why would you then want to tell someone when you know they would just stop you? I felt T didn't really get what I was saying. She kept telling me that I would know when things had got to a stage where I needed to tell someone. I hope she is right.

She also said something which hadn't occured to me before: she said that when people tell her things like I did (ie that they wrote a suicide note last year because things were so bad) she is concerned that they didn't share that at the time, despite coming along to sessions. She said it puts pressure on the therapist because they can't trust that the client will inform them if things are really bad in future. She said it can become an issue that is always hanging over the sessions and affects the therapist's confidence in whether the patient is going to be able to cope with things that may be covered in the sessions. They may then be wondering if delving into certain issues is going to put too much pressure on the client or if it is the right time because they wouldn't know what the client is feeling at that time.

I felt guilty and sad when she said this. I don't want to hold my therapy back in any way and I don't want people to worry about me. I'm desperate to feel progress. So I think I will need to agree the suggested contract that while in therapy I am to tell someone if I feel this way. But something holds me back. I don't like to break my word and if I agree a contract, I need to know I can stick to it and in all honesty, how can I promise that? And how can I speak on behalf of others? And we are never going to get agreement from all of the parts.

T ended the session quite abruptly then and I found myself struggling. It may be normal for her to talk about these things with people every day but for me, it had stirred up a lot of pain and I was feeling myself dissociating in a physical way (my head feels weird, my vision goes weird, my hearing and all my senses go weird... not a great explanation but hard to explain). I felt sure she just wanted to get away promptly, it being her last day at work before Christmas. I didn't feel OK to leave, I felt really bad. I was struggling but I got myself out the door and to my car where I sat with my head buried in my scarf in my hands for probably a long time before I felt present enough to drive home. By the time I left the car park T's car was gone so she must have come out while I was sitting there. I wondered if she saw me and just decided not to see if I was OK because she wanted to get home. I felt hurt when I thought that could be the case. That was Thursday evening.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Reflections of reflections

So my session with T last week was on.... Tuesday? I think Tuesday. She wasn't being defensive this time round, thank goodness. She started off the session by saying that I had left with a lot to digest after the last session. I agreed and she said "I'm aware of that" in a closed kind of way. I inwardly laughed to myself at this short but sweet summary of her desire for me not to talk to her about how I am feeling about her leaving. She moved on to say that she hasn't found somebody to replace her yet, but that she was working on it. Should I be worried? I'm kind of not. She will get it sorted. She had better. It has only just occurred to me this moment that she might not actually have it sorted out. One thing I won't cope with is a big break after she leaves. I'm going to need more support, not less.

T talked a bit about what the expectations of seeing someone else might be. She said, I wouldn't likely pick up where I left off with her because so much of the work we have been doing relies on feeling safe enough to tolerate emotions that come up when talking about the issues I have. She said that the new person won't know the detail although they may read it in my file (doesn't that mean they will know the detail?). She said, because it is a time limited period, that it wouldn't be about getting them up to speed so that they could continue with me from where I am at the moment but rather it would be for monitoring how I am and having space to just talk about whatever I want to talk about.

I reflected that I agreed with this but that I wasn't sure if other parts would be happy just to put a hold on things, because I do feel an internal pressure to deal with the big stuff. I get frustrated if I feel like I am just talking about everyday life. But perhaps it would be a better focus for that time and maybe what I will need as well. But I don't know if all parts would feel happy with it.

T responded that it wasn't for her to say how things should be and that it is my choice if I want things to move forward. I agreed though that it probably isn't realistic to expect that I will be able to move forward with the big things when it has taken me so long to get to this stage with her. T talked about if there is a way I can internally discuss how we can come to an agreement that the pause button would be put on things and deal with the frustration parts may feel about that. She also said that she was conscious of how her leaving would affect Ebony and Little Ebony and what could be done to care for them in the mean time. She suggested that we have some round table discussions about what the view regarding the news is.

I lamented then that I still feel so separate from the parts (you may remember that this separateness started in the summer of this year) and that I feel I have lost the ability to communicate with them.

We discussed a few things that I felt would be important. I expressed that if the sessions didn't have a focus and I was left to do all of the talking, it would be harder for me and I'd be more likely to dissociate because in the long silences, the parts get louder and the chaos stirs in my head. I expressed that I find it easier with her than with the old psychologist because she often had a focus and a plan in mind of what we would talk about and didn't allow really long silences all of the time. She said that it was important information and would make a note of it.

She asked me then, how often the sessions should be. I asked her what she thought and she said that it would be up to me and new person to discuss but that it may not be realistic to continue weekly sessions (WHAT?!) and even if it was, it could be more demanding on me. If anything, I think it would be easier seeing someone I don't know more frequently, because at least then the horrible anxiety in between sessions would be less and the overall time taken to getting used to someone new would be less. I didn't say that but I did say that if my reaction last time when M left was anything to go by, I was not going to be doing well and would need regular support. T asked if by support I meant regular sessions. I said "Well, I don't have any other support that I can put in place so that's the only thing I had in mind, but if you have any other suggestions..." (like a six month sedative perhaps?)

I dithered a bit about whether I was being naive in hoping I'd be OK when she goes or whether I actually would and I went back and forward for a bit saying I didn't want to assume that things would be OK and then be shocked. T let me go on for a bit and then said: "I think we should consider that it is going to be difficult. We should prepare for the worst and hope for the best." She said that it should be different this time though because she would be coming back and quickly followed it up with: “But that's not what we're talking about.” This was the only hint of defensiveness I noticed in the session. I explained that there is part of me that doesn't think she will though and she acknowledged what I said and let it sit to my relief. I was expecting a lecture but she just reminded me again that she doesn't have a crystal ball. She then said:

“But we go on the basis that yesterday I got up and got dressed and got out and today I got up and got dressed and got out so the chances are that I'm going to do it tomorrow and the next day...”
I started to wonder at this point if she had read my last post because she said: "otherwise we couldn't cope with life because it would feel like chaos and we couldn't tolerate the uncertainty. If things were more uncertain than they are, we couldn't tolerate it... which I think you have had experience of... uncertainty... and unpredictability and you know the stress of it. And I think this is probably what is being evoked."

Just to remind you of what I said in my last post:

"And she's one person who is consistent. 
She's the kind of person who gets up every morning and makes herself presentable and goes to work and eats lunch in the middle of the day and at the end of the day, goes home and does the same the next day. That is so important to me. I struggle with all of those things. Consistency has been foreign to me in my haphazard strewn together life. I have loved having a consistent, safe person in my life. It hasn't just been about the hour or so a week; it's all of the moments in between when I feel so changeable and unreal and I'm in my chaotic, unstable, morphing mind, hanging on by my fingertips to my 'normal' life and I think about my T and I remember how consistent she is and it helps me to remember what kind of life I want. Solidity, structure, boundaries, safety, energy, positivity, certainty."

I reworded my thoughts on this to T and she responded: "A therapist can act as a sort of symbolic anchor for the client, to stop them from drifting off somewhere, which provides them with a space to bob around in the water and feel secure, so that they can let go and look around them a little bit." (I am paraphrasing, I don't have that great a memory but you get the gist). This comment by T got me wondering even more if she had read my last post because to quote, I wrote:  
It's just that, T is like my anchor. I trust her... not completely, but more than I've ever really trusted anyone..."
I am sure she hasn't been reading my blog. T has better things to do with her time, especially at the moment. And I don't think she would read it unless I sent her something specific to read. I think that would be one of her principles. I think she has strong... not morals (well, she may do, but that's not the word we're looking for) but strong ideas of boundaries and what is respectful. I think, even though I've told her she can read my blog if she wants, I think she never would. It's good in a way. It helps me to trust her.

I told T about how seeing her as a consistent person helps me to feel secure in my own life, as a reminder of what 'normal' is. I explained that it is reassuring to think about her and that she is a 'real' person who also helps me to realise that I am real and my life is real and that this is important. T said that it would be important for me to develop that sense of realness and consistency in the next person. T also then talked about how you 'get to know' your therapist based on their interactions with you and their consistency of speech, accent, mannerisms and way of talking so that it's easier to bring up an idea of them when you think about them and this is consistent and reassuring. This is something else that took me aback because I again quote from my last post:
"You know their name; you can probably take a guess at what decade they were born in and you can make a few assumptions based on their accent, dress sense or body language... but at the end of the day, you don't know them. You know nothing more than what you create in your mind based on their interactions with you. So, why then do you end up in pieces when they go on holiday, or God forbid: leave you for good?"
How fucking weird is this? But kinda great that we are thinking the same way and that she understands how it is. The difficult thing is, it won't matter if she understands or not because in a few weeks she won't be here. It will then matter that new person understands. 

Later on in the session we got to talking about suicide, which was difficult... but that's for another day methinks. I've been looking forward to taking this Friday off to get my house etc sorted out before Christmas. I am having a family do (Adam's family) here on Christmas eve. But it just occurred to me that I still have my full work load (which is already too big) to fit into the four days instead of five so I need to at least try to get to sleep at decent hours (easier said than done) this week. I've got a lot of clinical work, as well as two talks to prepare and deliver this week. That's beside the list as long as my leg (which is long) of other work that I should have gotten finished ages ago. Do I use brackets too much? In my head it's like another part chipping in with their sarcastic comments to everything I say.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Reasons why it's really hard when your therapist leaves

You go to therapy. You talk to a person who, for most of the time, sits there without expression and basically takes in what you have said and feeds it back to you in a more eloquent way. Sometimes they ask you carefully worded questions that are designed to get you thinking about the right kinds of things, or talking about the things you need to talk about. If you're lucky they may even add in a word of wisdom or two, if the moment calls for it. You leave, you go home. You know their name; you can probably take a guess at what decade they were born in and you can make a few assumptions based on their accent, dress sense or body language... then you start to feel like a Sherlock Holmes wannabe... but at the end of the day, you don't know them. You know nothing more than what you create in your mind based on their interactions with you. So, why then do you end up in pieces when they go on holiday, or God forbid: leave you for good? Why does it matter that this blank slate has abandoned you? Why not just move onto another one and do the same thing all over again?

Here are a few of the reasons why it FUCKING STINKS when your therapist leaves:

1) You tell your therapist about stuff you wouldn't talk to anyone else about. For most of us this takes a leap of faith: trust. If you're like us you would have spent months and possibly years sussing them out to see if they can handle what you have to say. You test them with small pieces of yourself and they cope well, and you feel understood; validated and even cared for for possibly the first time in your life. This feels great even though its a difficult process. You then feel great about this person because of that and you learn to trust them and they become someone great in your eyes. 

You might even start to think that they are so great they are better than anyone you know in real life. Fair enough, this is because you are only seeing that one sided, polished act that they have spent years learning how to perform and you have added this onto your carefully composed picture of what you think they are like the rest of the time in their perfect, harmonious, well balanced life. This picture can become a safe place for you. This picture of this person might be all of the things you crave for your own life. This is the person who can save you and help you. No wonder you feel great about them. Unfortunately, you have now instilled them with a lot of power, because if they don't live up to your expectation of them, there is a long way to fall. Suddenly, they tell you they are leaving and it's no fucking surprise you feel awful really is it?

NB When I say 'you', I am not lecturing. I am talking to my own self. Don't feel bad. If anyone should know better it's me. I of all people should know that therapists/psychologists/counsellors are as human as I am, with all of my flaws.

"But T understands me too and that matters a lot. It's not just that I need 'a' person; any old person. It's something that works for me that she has. She has an ability to take my jumbled up mumbled words that are so ineloquent and decipher what it is that's going on in my jumbled up brain and feed it back to me in a way that makes sense to both of us. I don't want to face the prospect of seeing someone else, who can't get what I'm on about and doesn't take the time to try to understand. I know it's not necessarily so that another person would be that way but it may be so. There are fits and there are non fits."

2) If, like me, you have a dissociative disorder which makes for a wonky life, where sometimes you're just not sure what's real and what's not, having a stable presence in your life can be a very reassuring thing; even if it's only for an hour a week.

"It's just that, T is like my anchor. I trust her... not completely, but more than I've ever really trusted anyone and it has taken a long time to build up that trust. I know it's still fragile too and as I say, not complete. I still wait for her to hurt me and reject me... and leave me like others always have. And now that's what she is doing: leaving. I know she says she's coming back but there is a big part of me that just does not believe that. Good bye is forever. Oh my God! I struggle when she takes a week off on holidays!

I feel reassured when I drive past her work on my way to mine in the mornings and I see her car there. 

I like how her car is there. 

It reminds me that she's real. 

And if she's real, I must be real. 

And sometimes I struggle to believe I am real. 

When she goes away I feel like she has stopped existing: no car outside her work equals: did I make her up? Do I even exist? Car there equals she's real; I'm real, maybe other parts of my life are real." 

And she's one person who is consistent. 
She's the kind of person who gets up every morning and makes herself presentable and goes to work and eats lunch in the middle of the day and at the end of the day, goes home and does the same the next day. That is so important to me. I struggle with all of those things. Consistency has been foreign to me in my haphazard strewn together life. I have loved having a consistent, safe person in my life. It hasn't just been about the hour or so a week; it's all of the moments in between when I feel so changeable and unreal and I'm in my chaotic, unstable, morphing mind, hanging on by my fingertips to my 'normal' life and I think about my T and I remember how consistent she is and it helps me to remember what kind of life I want. Solidity, structure, boundaries, safety, energy, positivity, certainty."
And we have gone through a process. A long, long process. I've been seeing her for three years now. That's a fucking lot of time. I don't want to start again with someone new, with the old insecurities and fears. When I first met T, it was months and months before I stopped worrying about ridiculous things too absurd to even start to tell you about (and I've told you about some pretty ridiculous worries I have in relation to T).

That's just two reasons why it fucking stinks. I'm sure there are more. You may have some in mind yourself. I'm sure I will have plenty of time to think up more over the next few months.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Therapist: "We need to discuss my leaving and what support you'll need but if you say anything I'll be defensive and snap at you."

So if you missed the last post, I was telling you that my psychologist, who I have now been seeing for three years, broke the news that she is going away at short notice for an extended period of time. I talked about my initial shock but there was more than just that in the session and I didn't want to overwhelm you with too much reading at the one time so here is some more (note I didn't say 'the rest'!) of what happened in the session:

So the session went on... T talked about options for support as I said and I couldn't really engage in any useful way in that discussion. I was still getting my head around the 'she's leaving' part. The thing that made this so much harder, and always has ever since she first told me she would be taking leave at some point, is that I feel like she is defensive when we talk about it. She's defensive in her answers to ANY questions I ask about it and she's defensive in her reflections about anything I say. It's not reasonable. It's not nice and it makes me feel like I can't really talk to her about how I feel. I feel like she must be defensive because she feels bad for giving me bad news, but she's trying to remind herself that she doesn't need to feel bad, but then she ends up expressing that sentiment in everything she says, as defensiveness. 

For example:

Me: “So you have no idea how long you'll be going for?”

T: “I think I said to you before... six months. It was better that I give you a clear cut time.”

(I'm thinking: what does that mean?) so I say something like: “so you're thinking it'll be about six months?”
T: “At the minute, yes.”

Me (trying to get clarification in my head because things like 'at the minute' to me mean, 'I might not come back at all actually): “So it's likely to be about six months?”

T (in a stern/blunt tone and raised voice): “It's six months! It's better that I be clear...”

Me: “Yes... but I don't want to think it's six months if it's going to be a year...”

T (more normally toned now) tells me that she hopes to be back within a year but that if it makes it more clear for me she can tell me a year and then I can be confident that she will be back in that time... but then she tells me that that wouldn't necessarily be true (what does she mean? I'm getting more confused by the second). She then tells me that a year would be a more 'cast iron guarantee', if that's what I'm looking for.

So I'm feeling a bit taken aback at her response because it seems a bit defensive but meh... but then in an incredulous tone she adds: “but I can't give anyone a cast iron guarantee; you know... I don't dictate the future! I know that's what you need, but it's not what I can offer.”

OK so written down, it seems not too bad, I admit, but you had to be there. You know the way you can say the same words two different ways and it sound warm and kind or cold and harsh? Well she was saying these in a blunt and defensive way if you ask me and I felt like I was being scolded for asking.

Later on I expressed that I had really hoped that when she left it wouldn't be at Christmas and that the timing was bad. She then kind of defensively said that it was bad timing for her too. I said: “I know it's not easy for you either.” I said that because her response was said in a way that suggested she wanted me to know that it wasn't exactly her ideal scenario either. When I said 'it's not easy for you either' I was acknowledging that it's hard leaving a job because there are always a lot of things to finish up and loose ends to tie. I am under no delusions that it would be in any way difficult for her to sever herself from me. I don't need reminded of the fact that the only reason she sits there and listens to me blabbering on pathetically each week is because she is paid to do it. But apparently T felt I did need reminded and proceeded to make it quite clear that it was not in any way difficult for her because of me; that I provided her with 'no additional challenges' and that she must arrange support for all of her clients in the same way etc. What the fuck? She totally misunderstood me and I felt hurt by her reaction. Even if I had in some crazy way thought that she cared about me and would be sad to end our meetings, her response would not have been appropriate. There's a way of saying things you know!

It's difficult because she's the one person who I am supposed to talk about difficult stuff with, but this has always been an issue I feel we can't talk about. It didn't matter so much a few months ago when I raised it and she gave me very blunt responses and didn't seem to want to talk about it. Now, it matters, because if she's leaving at the end of December that gives us by my estimates only a few more sessions in which to get things sorted out. If she's going to snap at everything I say, we're not going to get very far and we're not going to end on a good note either.

I was so close to saying to her that I felt she was being very defensive

Anyway, besides all of that annoyance about her attitude, the fact that she is leaving is making it's way in to my system but still hasn't completely sunk in. When I got home from the session I went into the kitchen and stood with the meat knife on my wrist. I wanted to slash it but I was scared. I made a few cuts and then switched it all off again inside and got in my car and went to work. I haven't allowed myself to really feel anything (I can't if I try) but I have been wanting to kill myself for a few days now so I guess it is having an effect. I've been needing pain killers for migraine symptoms too and the last few days I've been feeling like I've just been hit by a truck. My body aches. The relationship between my physical symptoms and the difficulties of attending psychology and all it brings up disheartens me because I have been telling myself that all of my physical problems are related to this genetic disorder I have now found out I have. Weeks like this remind me that it's not just as simple as that. Certainly the blood problem is going to be part of it but getting started on the blood therapy is only going to help me so much.

Anyway, getting back to the point: I don't think wanting to kill myself is just because of T though. Going back to work on Monday was like a crash back into reality after my week off. I got a lecture before I'd even got my coat off and when I looked at the amount of work I have to do and the little time I have, I felt so trapped. Two of my colleagues greeted me and asked how my holiday had been and the rest of my office acted like I didn't exist. I felt like a few people were being frosty with me too and I know why that is (having been in work until 2am and midnight all week preparing for the big event I had to run, I had accidentally neglected to do another task which I was on the rota to do that week. Not that I would have had time to do it even if I had remembered), but I couldn't just shrug it off the way I usually would. I sat at my desk trying to hold back tears and thinking about killing myself to get away from this hopeless, doomed life. I feel trapped in a life I don't want to be living and that's why I want to kill myself. There really doesn't seem to be any escape.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The time has come: my therapist is leaving

It's Tuesday evening and I want to be dead. Yesterday was Monday and my first day back at work after a week and a day off. I hate going back to work after a break. I never feel refreshed and renewed as you might imagine one would. I struggle to back into a routine. It's like the part who does 'work' for me doesn't come back right away and the real me is left to try and get on with things in a so much less efficient way.

The day started with a trip to Clinical Psychology to see T. Probably not a great start to your first day back at work at the best of times and definitely not this time. Going to psychology first thing is never a great start to any day really. I am not liking having morning appointments. It's just not working for me at all.

This time round we talked about the letter I sent her. Did I tell you about that on here? I can't remember if I did or not but it was from a part who had come to the conclusion that we were sexually abused. They wanted to tell T so that she would know that there is a part who knows it now. I can't really explain that very well just now; maybe I'll tell you another time.

We talked about a few other things. I went over old ground explaining how sometimes I am so separate from other parts of my life (including the whole DID/mental problems/therapy part) and if I get a reminder of it at that time it doesn't make sense to me. It's shocking. I got on to talking about what is 'normal' for people who don't have mental health problems. I told her that most nights I lie in bed thinking about taking a big knife and cutting my wrists open and this is the thought that drifts through my mind a lot before I fall asleep. I asked (rhetorically) was that normal and T gave the standard psychologist's speech about 'what is normal?' and said that it's not how psychologists think etc. It would probably make me feel much better if she just said: 'No, that's not normal Candy. I think you could use that as evidence for yourself to see that you are pretty fucked up in the head and not wasting my time coming here, as you might think'. 

Later in the session the conversation (if you could call it that) went something like this:

"Candycan I need to raise something with you... I'm going to be taking time out.
I've been thinking how I would say it to you and I haven't been able to so I thought I'll just have to say it." 

Silence from Candycan....

It's very short notice... I'll be finishing at the end of December."

Silence..... silence.... silence....

I sat there staring blankly in front of me. Outside I probably looked like I'd just been turned into a statue by the Queen of Narnia. Inside I felt like I was standing beside a roundabout that was spinning fast trying to get on but unable to get my stepping right to jump onto the moving ride. It was like I had been frozen in time. Her words were floating there in front of me but I couldn't take them in. I heard what she said, I just couldn't get my head around it. In a way, it's probably that I didn't want to get my head around it because letting that sink in would mean feeling the emotions that it would bring. I wanted to push it away and pretend I hadn't heard her.

T talked a bit about the options for support for me when she is gone. I couldn't really take it in either. I was still struggling to believe what she had just said. Eventually I asked: "Did you just tell me that you're leaving at the end of December?" I wanted to ask her if she could just keep saying it over to me so that I might be able to absorb the information. I felt like I had become one dimensional. I was simply a cardboard cut-out of myself with the ability to hear but not process. I knew the others were gone. It was like a total shutdown... just cardboard Candy desperately trying to put some information into a depth that didn't exist at that point. I could see her in my mind's eye with the information in her hands, trying to push it into her brain but her hand just going through and out the other side of the flat, cardboard head. So the information sat there, in her hands... it filled up the room but couldn't penetrate through to me on any real level.

I don't want to sound like a drama queen: as T reminded me, she will be coming back eventually. It's just that, T leaving is really, really, really fucking bad. This happened to me before; the first psychologist I saw left after I saw him for three months and I was devastated. I mean, devastated. I don't remember many times in my life as hard as that time. I was a mess. I didn't want to meet T and start again with her. I was so gutted that the person I had started to trust had left and to start again with someone else was horrible. Well, I think in the end I was better off with T, but I didn't know that at the time and if I had known I don't think it would have helped much anyway. But now, I have been with T for nearly three years. Not three months; three years! How much worse could it be this time? Am I going to fall apart again? Will I need to stop work again? 

Or will I be OK, because she is coming back isn't she? It's just, I don't believe that she will, despite what she says. I don't believe promises like that. I don't trust that she will come back. Or if she does, maybe she won't want to take me on again. Maybe she'll have been happy to get rid of me and want horrible new psychologist to keep me. Maybe horrible new psychologist will tell me there's nothing wrong with me and I'll have been discharged by the time she comes back and will be like this forever.
I could give you a list of reasons why it's fucking bad that she's going and I may do so, but not today, you'll be relieved to hear.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Who are you?

Winter is here. The first snow fell this morning. The heating and fan in my car has broken and soon I won't be able to get away with driving with the windows open to demist it. Last year I sat some mornings for ten minutes in my car waiting for the heat to melt the ice from the inside of the windscreen! I always loved winter but last year was the coldest we've had in this country in many's a year and I don't know if I have the balls to cope with another one like that. Especially not if my car is going to be practically undriveable. I live on a steep, steep hill now which seems to have it's own weather system which runs several degrees lower in temperature than the rest of the city; often with stronger winds than I feel completely confident letting my cat out to roam in. And getting down the hill safely in the ice is really just a matter of sheer luck.

Tomorrow I go back to work. Today I am not real. I keep 'coming to' and panicking that I'm so spaced out that I might forget to go to work tomorrow. It's hard to imagine me; this person, going to work tomorrow. I wonder where I am going to muster the energy or capacity from. I remind myself that it won't be me, it will be her and this settles me.

I went to the Christmas markets again yesterday and looked at all the candies and fudges and weird meats and cheeses. I stood staring at the olives wishing I could take some home with me and once again my husband asked me if I'd like him to buy some for me and once again I shook my head, taking heed of the voice that tells me that nice, expensive things are not for the likes of me. I put my tree up yesterday. It's not exactly finished yet because I ran out of energy (that and Adam left a box of decorations in the loft, despite my usual "Did you definitely get every box because you know we always seem to miss one?" and his usual ''Yes, that's all of them.") but it's pretty. The snow is outside. I have wrapped half of the presents and am wearing Christmas pyjamas as we speak. But where is Christmas? I look at the tree and think it's odd because it couldn't be Christmas. I look at my body sitting here in my pyjamas and think it's odd because I don't know the person I'm looking at. Who am I? I look around the room and wonder how on earth I ended up in this house, with this husband. Who am I? What is this life? I know this cat cuddling up to my leg, but while being familiar, it's suddenly unfamiliar... foreign... new... not my life. Where should I be? Who should I be?

Tomorrow morning I go to see T at clinical psychology. I wonder what I am going to be able to talk about. I feel I will be meeting her like it's the first time. I find it hard to imagine what she could know about me. I feel like I should go in and introduce myself and hope that she will explain what I am going to be doing there... yet at the same time, I know her. I know what has gone before. It's just not exactly mine. I feel like I have read over a report of what Candycan has been doing in therapy and now I will have to go along and pretend to be her, when I'm not. I'm not! I'm not Candycan! Who am I?

Saturday, 3 December 2011

don't hate me

im just feeling a bit...
and I have really no idea why this has started. Hopefully I will get over it soon. Hopefully I'm not all of these things.