Friday, 11 July 2014

To be, or not to be... medicated.

I've had a tough year. It all started to go downhill this time last year and I have been in very dark places since the autumn of last year. I was on the highest dose of Venlafaxine and had previously had a good year on it but when things went downhill I was advised to wean myself off it in order to change over to Sertraline. The problem I encountered was that once I had achieved the long and slow process of weaning off the Venlafaxine, I found myself not wanting to start medication again.

My reluctance to be medicated is something I have always struggled with when not on it. I don't like the idea of being on meds. That's not new, so I suppose in a way it wasn't surprising that I didn't want to restart, even though stopping the old one was with a view to starting a new one. What made it harder is that in stopping the Venlafaxine, I lost weight (a positive for me), my bowels were a lot better (long story), I had improved libido (a little bit of interest compared to very little), not to mention the cessation of muscle spasms and the awful withdrawal symptoms if a tablet was missed (brain zaps).

So I stayed off medication for several months to see what would happen. In that time, I continued to struggle with depression and I found my emotions very up and down. For me, this was somewhat new as having a lot of dissociation, my tendency is not to really feel anything and when difficult emotions do arise, I tend to dissociate or self harm to manage them. During this time, I did do both of those things at times, but for the most part I found myself having to actually experience the painful emotions... which usually involved hours of bawling my eyes out in despair. I really struggled to know if this was a bad thing or a good thing. On the one hand, it is hard feeling like my emotions were up and down more than a rollercoaster and never knowing just when something little might set me off. On the other hand, I wondered if this was progress. I have never in my life been able to just experience the despair of sadness and stay with it and let it out in sobs and in a way, I need to begin to develop an ability to feel emotions and understand them. I talked about it with T, my clinical psychologist and I think the overall impression was that it was progress. But in between sessions, it was hard to always believe that and it didn't feel like it would ever end or improve.

Last month I made the decision to start medication. I didn't feel like things were progressing enough for the prospect of going back to work to be considered and I've been off now for a long time. Occupational health are monitoring me and although it wasn't plainly said, I felt that if I am refusing medication or not progressing enough without it, the chances of my job being held open for me to return to would be slimmer. And I really don't want to lose my job. I do acknowledge that there is no way I could manage full time work again but I want to be able to go back to what I was doing part time. I have worked so hard to get that job and I deserve to be able to keep it.

The other reason, which may seem silly but was probably a big factor, is that I am going away on holiday soon with a few people, one of whom is a member of my family and this for me will be a huge challenge. Katie and I get along together quite well these days but we have a lot of bad history and she can very easily trigger off a lot of really hard feelings in me. Usually if this happens I cope by just getting away from her, which is easy if you're not on holiday with the person. So in a way, I started the medication so that I could cope with the holiday, telling myself that I can review it afterwards.

I've been on the Sertraline now for coming up to a month, so I realise it hasn't had enough time to fully take effect. Since starting it, I have noticed my appetite has dramatically increased and this is not good. I felt so happy to have lost a bit of weight and now it's already fluctuating with me struggling to keep it at a level (and I had hoped for a lot more weight loss if I'm honest). I had a lot of headaches at the start although this has settled a bit and I wasn't sleeping well. This has improved too although still isn't good. My interest in sex has completely disappeared. I don't know if this is all due to the medication. Adam has been talking to me about how he wants more sex and how he feels I'm not attracted to him and at times how he thinks I'm not enjoying sex. There's nothing that puts me off sex so quickly as feeling pressure to have it, so that is probably a factor as well.

Another thing I have noticed since starting the Sertraline is that my emotions have completely flattened out. I was crying several times a week; I haven't cried once since I started it (good or bad?). I don't feel good. I just feel unreal. Really, really unreal. I feel like I'm dreaming all the time. I'm just drifting through my days. I'm more dissociated. This does happen when I'm tired so the lack of sleep might be worsening it but overall I am disappointed that my emotions have gone. Don't get me wrong, I don't enjoy bawling my eyes out every time someone says a cross word to me but I realise that in order to feel like I am alive and to make progress, it's crucial that I start being able to feel emotions and then learn to manage them myself, in a healthy way. I would like to understand my emotions: be able to identify what I am feeling and think about why and then be able to help myself not to be overwhelmed by them. I think if I could do that, I would be able to do better for myself in a lot of areas of life.

So what do I do? I am certainly going to stay on the medication until after the holiday, but then what? I saw a psychiatrist who said these side effects would settle as the medication takes effect, but I'm not sure I trust that. If I am feeling numbed by it already, how am I going to feel any less numb as it takes more effect? How am I going to be able to make progress in my therapy if this is the case? But if I come off the medication, I have no chance of being able to consider going back to work any time in the foreseeable future. I could lose my job and if that happens, then what? I don't intend on working in a job that pays less because I truly believe that pay level doesn't indicate the quantity of stress expected from a job. The most stressful jobs I had in my life were the least well paid. But I can't manage work as I am.

I have avoided work thoughts up until recently but I just can't see how things are going to go for me. If I don't work at all, I feel like I am a burden on my husband and the country as a whole and it puts financial strain on us. But I feel that if I do get well enough to work, I will be sacrificing making progress in my therapy because I wouldn't have the energy for both. I have come up with no answers to my predicament. Hopefully in a month it will be clearer what I should do.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Puzzle pieces: my parents, memories of abuse etc.

I think I developed Dissociative Identity Disorder partly because my mum has a dissociative disorder and I have sort of learnt/inherited it from her. Maybe her variability was a factor in my insecure attachment to her. She was at times affectionate and caring, at other times unavailable and my needs weren't met. At other times she was unpredictable and frightening. But there were other factors too. The 'church' I grew up in, that my father lead, my father, family issues, siblings, school and other things.

My father was often distant and scary. He could be fun at times and would have spent time with me; he liked to tell me things, like imparting wisdom. That was the main way we interacted when things were OK: him educating me about useless facts he knew and me being interested/acting interested for the sake of having his attention. He could be funny too. He had a good sense of humour at times. He mostly saved that for people outside of the family but at times we had banter in the family. And he was good at cooking nice meals. He'd do a Sunday lunch regularly in my teenage years, I remember that. He hated Christmas but he'd often get into it once the day arrived and cook a great feast. 
He was variable about affection when I was small. Sometimes if I'd try to hug him he would welcome it and give me a hug and scruffle my hair. At other times he seemed repulsed by me. I'd often climb up onto his knee when he was talking to other people to try to get attention or affection or both and he'd get annoyed and push me off. If he didn't get annoyed he might say: “How did you get there?!” after a while, like he hadn't noticed. I'd pull at his skin. He had very elastic skin on his face and arms. I liked pulling his cheeks and touching his face. He'd get angry and tell me to get my filthy hands off him and he'd say goodness knows where my hands had been. I remember asking if I could sleep in his bed with him when I was about four (I think my mum was there but she was to be away or something) and he said I wasn't allowed to because little girls aren't allowed to sleep with their daddies. I remember being confused about why I couldn't because I would get into bed with mum and dad sometimes if I had a nightmare. I didn't understand why it would be any different. 
He would have what I now know were phases of depression, that lasted a long time. Possibly actually longer than the periods where he wasn't depressed. He'd be very angry. 
Most often I remember being ignored by my dad in the extreme. He just refused to acknowledge I'd spoken to him. It seemed like he would go out of his way to make me feel ignored. He'd talk over me and just not respond when I spoke to him. When he was not in good form (most of the time) I would avoid speaking to him as much as possible. Sometimes it would make me feel really sad that I was in the same house as him but he acted like I wasn't there. Then after a time he would notice me, but because something I said or did, or didn't say or do would infuriate him. Usually it was something I could have in no way prevented or done differently, I just infuriated him by being there and he would shout at me. He had a very loud, deep, horrifying shout and a glare more fierce than any scary thing I'd seen. He rarely needed to do anything except glare at me (which he did most times he looked at me) for me to feel hated and afraid. He was not often violent. At times when I was small, he did hit me hard. I remember thinking I was playing a game with him and I ran outside and hid behind a tree. He came out of the house and hit me so hard; he hadn't thought it was funny that I was playing a trick on him. I remember being asked about bruises on my legs by my teacher but I made up an elaborate lie as I thought she would punish me if she knew how bad I had been to deserve to be hit. 
I don't recall him hitting me as a teenager. I think he would have if I had dared to challenge him and maybe he did and I don't remember, but I did everything in my power not to aggravate him, so the glare was all it really took to keep me in line. My dad did not like being the butt of a joke; I only realised that looking back. The tree incident was one example. One time he was looking in the bonnet of the car and I beeped the horn as a joke to scare him. Again, I did not predict his reaction but I don't know what words can describe how angry he was. I think it would have been easier if he didn't sometimes have a good sense of humour. I probably would have figured out sooner not to try to do anything fun. 
I don't know about other stuff, I mean other kinds of abuse. I have some images that come into my head frequently. Some are really blurry and don't make sense and if they are memories of sexual abuse, some of it was when I was a baby. One was when I was about three and only the first part is there, where I was in the bathroom naked and a man came in and was looking at me but I have no idea what happened; he may have just left again. It just stops. There are other things I remember, like being naked at the beach as a baby (I know I must have been one and a half to two because I could walk but not speak and I walked very late) and crying because I felt so exposed. There were men there and I felt so naked in my baby skin. I wanted to have clothes on but I couldn't tell anyone. I remember clearly how distressed and helpless I felt. Why did I feel that way at such a young age?

I remember several incidents from the age of five to nine, where I tried to get my playmates to take their clothes off. In one or two, I forced them to take their clothes off. I remember feeling powerful despite the child being upset. I remember that I was sexually abused by my sister. I don't know about other people. Some of the images I get in my mind that cause me to dissociate or feel so bad and have physical reactions are adults. Some of the images are of my mother. These are the most confusing and painful to remember. These are confusing because it is surely impossible. That's why I dissociate. It is too hard to think about that and I'm sure my brain has gotten confused somewhere along the road and created stuff that has an innocent explanation. 

As a teenager I was often afraid at night also. I had an irrational fear of someone coming into my room during the night. I'd wake up in the mornings feeling exhausted, like I'd run a marathon. Sometimes I'd wake up with no clothes on but not recall taking them off. I don't believe these things are related to anything sinister, but I'm saying them so I don't know. Mostly I just don't believe I could have been abused other than the things I do remember. Like my sister. And I was sexually assaulted by a stranger and I remember more than my fair share of other incidents with various men: men in my church perving at me in my home; a stranger following me home when I was eight, trying to get me to come with him so he could show me 'something exciting' and give me money. And there was an older man who became obsessed with me. He tried to force himself on me; I managed to push him off but I can still feel his tongue on my neck when I think about it. And a friend, a man, who took things too far whilst playing with me (I had a boyish side to me in my teens) he pinned me to the floor, breaking my ribs. I can vividly remember the feeling and the sound of the popping as my ribs broke and his breath in my ear as he held me there and every hard inch of his body on top of mine and the sense I got that it was a power thing. I think I only fought with him because I wanted to be strong and be able to prove I could fight off a man. 
Sometimes I can't remember anything including all I've told you. Other times, I am told I remember more than I've told you... or other parts/alters remember. I am quite separate from the parts lately. Sort of in denial of them I suppose. But this is what I remember today.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Self protection by repressing libido

This is something I was hypothesizing about this week...

Maybe my low libido is my way of protecting myself from the difficulties of dealing with my super high libido. I had a really high sex drive until my early twenties which caused me a lot of hurt (and rejection from Adam as we weren't married). I was so driven by it, not in a way I wanted to be. Then almost overnight, about a year before we married, it changed so that I didn't have much desire for sex at all. It happened after a build up of rejections from Adam. Our religion didn't permit us to be intimate and I had trouble with this. We both did, but a lot of times, it was me trying to tempt Adam. Of course, I'd feel awful if he was strong and said no. I think it just got to a certain point where the benefit of trying was not significant enough to outweigh the damage it was doing to me to feel rejected and so not consciously, but so suddenly that I did consciously notice it: I stopped wanting intimacy at all. Sex was very difficult when we got married. It took several years before I was able to enjoy it without pain and I never felt in the mood for it. In fact we barely had sex at all four about four years. Nowadays it's better in that we have sex more regularly for the most part but it still has issues for me and I know it's not as often as Adam would like. I know a lot of it is to do with my own trauma history; of course sex can be very difficult because of the memories it triggers. But I think it's not just that. When I first started therapy, T asked me if I was 'punishing' Adam by not wanting sex. I was horrified at the idea that I would be so cruel. I rejected that theory but I didn't acknowledge that it was perhaps not 'punishing him' but 'protecting myself from rejection'. Of course, it doesn't make sense that I'd keep feeling the aversion after marriage when I can now have sex as much as I want, if I want. That is where I begin to hypothesise about the libido theory.

If I subconsciously allowed myself to start enjoying sex again, my libido would perhaps increase to a level that even Adam wouldn't enjoy. If I was to realise my high libido and Adam wasn't able to meet my needs, I would again feel frustrated and rejected and probably other things, so on some unconscious level I have to switch off those feelings. It used to be 100% of the time: I would have happily never had sex again, so being able to masturbate and have sex nowadays is actually progress. About a year ago things started to improve with my feelings about sex; before that the idea of masturbation was about as appealing as the idea of licking a toilet seat. But when things started to improve and I started to enjoy sex, it felt really good. But then it got that I felt sex was so intense that my arousal lasted afterwards on into the days following; which I couldn't handle. I mean, my body remained in a state of sexual arousal right into the next day and days afterwards no matter what I was doing. I couldn't be satisfied. It was very difficult to feel that way especially around family. It meant I was getting triggered so easily as well. Feel aroused when not wanting to be, around someone who abused me... worst feeling ever... nightmare begins again. So I had to shut it down again.

Sex with Adam also now makes me feel worse about our relationship problems, as we haven't been getting along too well recently. If we have sex and then fall out in the day afterwards, it feels worse somehow than if we hadn't had sex. So it's just easier not to want sex. I suppose in a way I could be quite content about how things are now. Adam initiates sex most of the time. I often don't want it, but I can enjoy it once it happens, provided I am not dissociated into a part that hates it. I can't enjoy sex without fantasising about scenarios that I don't see as 'healthy' for me though but that's an issue for some other time. It may not be healthy, but it helps me to enjoy the physical feeling of sex. 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

How do people react when someone 'comes out' about mental health issues?

I wrote this post in draft a while ago when I was very angry but I have expanded it and removed the expletives. I haven't changed the points because even though I may seem unsympathetic to the difficulty of being in a situation where someone discloses to you that they have mental health problems, the frustration of the person doing the disclosing is no less real just because it might understandably be an uncomfortable subject for person receiving the information.

The good thing about my current state of having given up on life in a big way, is that I don't see the point in hiding it from people anymore so when I talk to people I haven't seen in a while or new people and they ask me things, say; how work is going... I will just tell them I've been out of work for a while because I have mental health problems/depression. If they run a mile that's fine. I will have succeeded in pushing someone else out of my life... and if they don't run a mile, well at least I won't have to pretend I'm a normal person with them. And it is surprising how many people will then confide in me that they have had mental health problems too. 
There are various reactions really and having reflected on this briefly, I have noticed that these reactions could probably be categorised into groups where a person's reaction may fall into one or more category. The types I have noticed (so far) are:

Awkward Turtles
Denying Doofuses
Nosey Parkers
Frustrating Fixers

Awkward Turtles are those who initially look like they wish the ground could swallow them up. They may struggle to form some sort of response and when they do respond the content could come from any of the other groups in its approach but seasoned with awkwardness in tone and expression. Subsequently they may avoid you or act strangely around you forever onwards. For example, my Father in law. I only told him I was depressed because he put me on the spot about why I was off work on sick leave. There was a painful silence and his face turned a peculiar shade of crimson. He then asked if I knew what caused it. I gave a brief explanation and said it was a complicated condition of which depression is just one aspect and he then changed the subject completely. Now when I see him talks to me with a tone one might use if someone has just died and asks: “How are you feeling?” or "How are you feeling now?" instead of “How are you?” which pisses me off big time because it's highlighting to others in the room that there is something 'wrong' with me and the 'now' suggests that he is waiting for me to get better.

I get angry and say: “How are you feeling?” which probably just confuses him more because he means well. He just doesn't get it. Besides, it's not really any of his business how I'm feeling and I'm pretty sure he wouldn't know where to look if I actually told him how I am truthfully feeling. I don't think he really wants to know either so why ask?

Denying Doofuses are the people who can't accept that you are ill and wish to tell you that you are not. Or can't accept that something might have caused you to become depressed. I believe they do this to protect themselves. Some people, like my Mother in law for instance, have a need to believe that everything in the world is wonderful and evil doesn't exist. My mother and mother in law both tick this box. My mother, we have talked about in recent posts so I won't go on about. She just can't accept that her efforts weren't good enough and me being mentally ill makes her feel like she has failed so she needs to deny any 'nurture' issues and convince me that it is all my 'nature'. My mother in law doesn't deny that I am depressed but she blatantly refused to accept that I had anything but the best childhood because I am a 'nice' person when I told her that my parents weren't exactly brilliant. She has a need to deny that anything bad even exists in the world. This was very distressing when it happened. 

It's hard to have gone through a process of accepting that the past happened after having blocked out so much of my awareness of the neglect and abuse for many years, to then be able to verbalise it in some small way and immediately be told it didn't happen and have someone tell me that my parents didn't do anything wrong when they don't know the details. And then even if given some of the more 'easy to accept' details, like basic needs not being met, for that person to still reject what I am saying and refuse to hear it. These Denying Doofuses are just protecting themselves and I understand why someone might need to do that but it still makes me so angry. Child abuse happens. Could it be prevented or stopped in many cases if adults didn't need to protect themselves by denying it?
Nosey Parkers are the ones who are not just interested in a supportive way, but are just plain old morbidly curious past the point of considering what might be appropriate or inappropriate to ask someone. My mother falls into this category as well. She feels that it's OK to ask me every detail about my mental health just because I told her I am depressed (again, only because I was asked directly why I am not working)... Who did you see about it? What did they say? What medication are you on? What dose? etc etc. It wouldn't occur to her that I might not want her to ask me these things. I find it extremely triggering to be honest. My mother violated boundaries she shouldn't have when I was a child. I am very protective of my boundaries now. I keep her at a distance because any sense of her imposing on me brings up a lot of feelings that are extremely difficult to handle. The worst kinds of feelings. Ugh. Let's move on swiftly...

My friend P also falls into this category. She knows that I have Dissociative Identity Disorder, although she hasn't met parts as far as she knows. I've told her before that I don't want to be asked 'what caused it?' yet she just can't help herself. Her curiosity about 'what happened' to me outweighs her concern for my well being and she repeatedly hints at, comments about or just outright asks what it might have been.

Then we have the Frustrating Fixers. Fixers are a hard bunch to deal with because they really do mean well and may actually have a good understanding of mental health issues but just can't hold back from telling you how you can get over 'the depression'. One friend advised me that if I eat healthily and exercise I will get better. I spent my whole life trying to do that. My mother in law seems to think the sunshine will be the answer to all my problems. A bit of sunshine wouldn't hurt but it certainly won't fix what is broken in me. I have been going to a support group recently and here I am provided with all the advice anyone could want, from 'cut out caffeine' to 'the past is in the past'. Some of the advice Fixers give can actually be spot on, but I find fixers irritating because I don't like being given advice when I haven't asked for it; it verges on denial of my feelings and it sort of merges into the Nosey Parker category for me. It also makes me feel hopeless and worthless because it feels like I am being told I'm doing it wrong and should try harder. That's what I interpret it as. There are exceptions when advice can be welcomed. I am usually more receptive to advice from my therapist, T (usually) and in the moment, Adam can be helpful but that is more 'encouragement' rather than advice. If I am lying in bed at two in the afternoon and Adam encourages me to get up and dressed, this is helpful because it is encouragement when I need it.

I don't invite people to try to help me and again, I am protective of my boundaries and those who want to tell me what to do jump over that line, plus can easily offend. I mean, maybe I do need to make sure I get dressed every day, but I don't want to be told that. I already know it. It is not the knowing of how to go about functioning that eludes me; it is the ability to bring it to mind in the moment and then having the desire, motivation, presence of mind and energy to do it that is lacking. I could write the self help manual for depression myself. It's not the knowing, it's the feeling like there is value in it and being able to do it in the moment and someone at a support group telling me I should get up and dressed in the mornings is not going to help me the next morning when I'm lying in bed feeling hopeless about life. I am aware that for others, advice is very helpful. It just presses my buttons unless it's the right person at the right time.

My instinct when people act this way is to just agree and act like they are being useful but being how I am lately, I might respond that I don't really see the point in doing anything because I don't see the point in living. This is obviously going to make things awkward and it's a defensive response (even if it is true). I spent a lot of my life not being allowed to feel anything bad about things I should have felt bad about. Now when people give me advice to help me feel better, a big part of me feels like they are telling me I am not allowed to feel this way. I am protective of the reality of how it is now. I am very sensitive to any suggestion that this didn't come about for a good reason and frankly, at the moment I just think I need to feel bad. Why shouldn't I feel bad? I mean, in a way, my whole life was a lie I had to believe at the time and now I don't but I need to feel bad for all that has happened.

Last but certainly not least are the  Accepters, plain and simple. These are people who aren't freaked out by your information, don't feel they have to understand it or fix it or change you. They may know all about it or may not know the first thing about mental health issues but it doesn't matter because they react the same way that a person might react if you told them you had a bad kidney or a knee problem. It's simple. I like the experience with these people. The ones who don't feel the need to start giving me advice on how to get better but just talk about it frankly, the same way you might share experience or conversation if someone said they had a bad leg and you had also had a bad leg or knew a bit about what it's like having a bad leg. You might be a bit sympathetic but you wouldn't change how you treat that person really, except perhaps not asking them to climb a mountain with you. But you wouldn't really think of them much differently. That's how it should be with mental health, but it often isn't. They might ask questions but none too invasive and they don't feel the need to provide any sort of pathetic sympathy or graveness in their tone. To them you are still pretty much the same person you were to them five minutes before you told them you have depression or whatever you have; they just have a bit more information than they did then. They might think differently of you in some ways, but not in a negative way.

The other day I was talking to a girl I've met a few times and she was asking how I'd been (I couldn't remember why but she asked in a way that suggested she knew I'd had difficulties) and when I said I'd been off work with depression recently she was really great. She was sympathetic, in the same way she would have been if I said I'd been off work with a broken leg. She was an Acceptor through experience I suppose because she told me how she'd had struggles with anxiety and we were comparing notes. She didn't try to advise me but she did talk about how it is for her and the difficulties in her thinking and in this way, I felt good because of being able to share experience and she had empathy. We both talked about the things we do to try to overcome our daily issues and the hurdles we experience. Neither of us was telling the other what to do but it was a positive conversation and I was the same person in her eyes and she in my eyes, just someone who I now knew more about and could relate to even better. She said if I ever want to meet up for a coffee and a chat to let her know. I wish there were more people like this in my life. Funnily though, I am reluctant to meet up with her. It was a positive experience to interact with her and I almost feel I should leave it at that so that there is no risk of it being ruined. It feels good just to think about this nice person who doesn't know much about me but knows a bit and was OK with it. I guess I'm scared if she got to know me in much more detail she wouldn't like me anymore.

So those are the kinds of reactions I have encountered so far. Maybe there will be more. Maybe you have experienced others. Maybe people's ways of responding to mental health can change over time. My husband's responses these days might go into a further category for those who are so drained by the continuing state of depression that they can only seem bored, disappointed and deflated. But that's another story.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Go away, why don't you want me?

Being depressed makes me push people away. I have probably done this a lot my whole life when I'm struggling to function. I find it hard to manage being around people; even the thought of the effort required to meet friends is exhausting, having to put on the happy mask. At the moment I am just finding people so irritating to be around. By now I don't have many friends anyway and most of my family is completely self obsessed so there is not a lot of effort needed to avoid seeing people if I don't feel like it.

I felt very let down by my friend who is probably my most friendish friend. As in, she knows more about me than my other few friends, I see her the most (which isn't much) and I don't have to put on too much of an act around her. She has always let me down really. I went through a period some time ago of wondering if I should break up with her because we saw each other loads and then when she met her partner, she started cancelling our plans every time there was a chance she could see him. She's pretty self absorbed too. She likes to always get me to tell her how I am and my news at the start of our meet ups to free up the space for her to spend the rest of the 90% remaining time to talk about herself. Often it doesn't bother me because it's a welcome distraction and I don't feel like talking about myself anyway and she's too nosey about what having DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) is like, how things are going with clinical psychology...and always, always...what caused the DID and often I don't want to even think about that stuff. But sometimes it just bugs me that she does that thing of getting my bit over and done with. She actually recently told me that this is what she does so she can feel free to talk about her own stuff, not that I hadn't already figured it out. But clearly she thinks that's fine. 

But yeah, I had a big birthday and she was the only non family member I invited but she didn't come in the end because she wanted someone to give her a lift and then leave the party half way through to bring her home so that her dog wouldn't be alone. My sister was organising it and was not so patient with her as I would be... she sent me a text saying: “I'm sorry, I didn't realise it was her birthday party, I thought it was yours!” In the end my friend was getting so stressed out about getting home by 7pm and driving me up the wall needing to know exactly how I was going to arrange it, that I told her if it was too much trouble I didn't mind her not coming and we could meet up another time. So she didn't come, but I did mind after all. I felt offended that her dog is more important than her friend actually. I mean, she leaves her dog all day to go to work Monday to Friday. Just because it was on a Saturday, shouldn't have meant she didn't come. 
That was months ago and we still haven't caught up. She sent me a text in February saying was I free on the 20th March at 2.30pm because she could fit me in for an hour coffee date. I just felt pissed off about that too. Why do I have to be slotted into her schedule that way? I'm clearly very low on her list of priorities. I cancelled that date in the end because I didn't feel up to it but I said could she give me 'some dates' when she's free. I saw her at a wedding recently and she said she'd try to get a couple of dates to send me. I just thought: “Fuck off. I'm not your charity case.” But I just said: “OK” because I also like her and want her to be my friend. I decided long ago that an unreliable, self absorbed friend who I enjoy being with when I do manage to see her is better than no friend. I may change my mind about that. 
But having been avoiding human interaction for months, with a friend like her, it's very easy to see how little effort she puts in to meeting up with me. It can be surprising how easy it is to distance myself from people; I mean, it highlights how people just don't really seem to notice. I have been avoiding everyone by not arranging to see people and not initiating contact with people. But then I feel lonely because I see that people don't appear to miss me either. I get angry that it's been so easy to remove myself from the lives of my friends and family. I feel like I wish they would have made more effort to notice me. But then I don't want to see them anyway, so what am I complaining about? For instance, I woke up today (Sunday) alone because Adam is away and I felt sad that the people who know Adam is away are probably out enjoying the good weather without me even entering their minds to wonder if I would have liked to spend time with them. 

That includes my mother, who contacted me the other day to see if she could call round for coffee but I was going out to the shop and didn't want to see her. I said that Adam would be away at the weekend so maybe the two of us could go out or she could come round then but she didn't respond to that and Sunday afternoon is upon us. And she knows about the depression now yet it still wouldn't occur to her to even let me know if it didn't suit her and send a text to see how I am doing. Yet, I'm glad not to have to see her and if she did text me to ask how I'm doing, I'd feel annoyed and wish she'd mind her own business. So no one can win with me can they? And in all honesty, if I felt motivated enough to go out and enjoy the sunshine too, I'd do it on my own because I much prefer my own company to anyone else's at the moment. Yet still, I feel so painfully alone too. What do I want from people?! If they make an effort, I feel annoyed, often patronised and intruded upon and I wish I could shut myself off from the world and live like a hermit. So I do that and then I feel lonely and resentful of the same people for not caring. 

I don't know what's going on in my head. I want relationships but when they are there I want to run away from them. Is this all to do with having an attachment disorder? I am pretty sure that I do have an attachment disorder but I only really saw how it played out with my feelings about my clinical psychologist and in the past, with Adam. I thought that nowadays the main issue with me not having friends was not a lack of wanting friends, but a lack of the skills or normality needed to develop friendships with normal people. Perhaps all along I have been ambivalent about even wanting relationships with people. I know a part of why I tend to back off when people are wanting to be friends is because I feel like if I let them get to know me any more than they do, they will start to find out about my mental health problems and this sadly, does scare some people away. But maybe it's not just that. People cause pain and I have had too much of that, so I try to protect myself from pain by avoiding people. But as they say, no man is an island and attachments and relationships are seemingly a human need and that's where the loneliness comes in I suppose. What can I do? Alone, I'm lonely; not alone I'm angry and defensive.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to

I have a tab up there at the top of the blog for dreams but I'm not sure what I'm doing with it. Sometimes I write my dreams down on paper when they seem meaningful, other times I don't. I thought I'd like to start a blog for my dreams but at the moment I don't think it's realistic if my frequency of blogging here is anything to go by.

My dream styles vary: there are the mundane ones that include fragments of the day's events, conversations and things I've seen and the ones that are muddles of strangeness and bizarrity (first made up word of the day?). Then there are fascinating vivid adventures that could be made into movies (I really should be writing those down). And then there are the ones that seem to be telling me something about what's going on in some part of my brain that I'm not fully aware of: symbolically. I really appreciate this tool my dreams give me to help me understand myself. I know some people don't think dreams can have meaning but I don't doubt that for me they do and in a very significant way. Many times in my life I have been able to identify what's bothering me after having a dream that plays out the issue in some form of analogy or other for me to look at when I'm awake. The feelings about what's happening in the dream are always a good clue as to what my issue is.

There are phases lasting from days to weeks, in the types of dreams I have too. There will be a period where almost every night there is a dream that seems meaningful, then they will stop and the dreams will be more normal stories and mish-mashes and then there are phases where I don't really remember the dreams at all. I also have phases of sleep where my brain is working on a lot of stuff: but more practical everyday stuff. Like it will figure out the answer to a problem or remind me that I have to do a certain thing. And there are the ones that interfere with my day: they are short, vivid dreams of actions or conversations that I can't then tell if actually happened the next day. I will be convinced I put something somewhere only to not find it and eventually remember I dreamt it.

Anyway, to get to why I'm here. Today in my session with T I talked about a dream I had last night and she suggested it might be useful to note it down and I think she is right. I should record my dreams more. A family member recently told me about a fascinating dream I told them I had once but I had no recollection of it and I though that a pity. Seeing as my sleeping life is often much more interesting than my waking life, I might do well to journal it to look back on rather than journalling my everyday whinings. It's something I love about being me actually: the way I have an amazing dream imagination and that I remember my dreams; and there is not much I love about being me, that's for sure. So I should embrace that I suppose. Eek, I feel bad for saying I love something about me; I'm hearing the voice telling me I'm ridiculous to even think there is one thing to like. So here is the dream. It's not that interesting in itself but it was symbolic to me and I'll try to explain what I thought it meant.

My mum was throwing a birthday party for me in a house (not a house I know in life but in the dream it was one I knew... mine or my mum or sister's perhaps). She was preparing lots of food and there were lots of people there: my sisters, friends, people I don't know (although in the dream they weren't strangers), people from my old church. I went into the next room where a film was being projected onto the wall (something about a girl and demons and evil spirits but this doesn't seem relevant) and I fell asleep even though it was all still going on around me. While I was sleeping I vaguely heard people in the kitchen singing 'Happy Birthday to You' and when I woke up after a while, someone next to me had a plate and was talking about the food. I remarked that I didn't know there was food and they said that there was food, in a way that suggested it had been out for a while and everyone had eaten.

I went into the kitchen to find most of the food gone and the birthday cake eaten. There were just crumbs and left over bits of food on the table. I felt angry that no one had woken me up for the food or the cake and that I had missed the party that was supposed to be for me. I looked for my mum and asked her why she had let the party happen without me there. My mum said something to suggest they just hadn't realised I wasn't there, as if that was completely reasonable. I expressed that I was annoyed that she hadn't saved me any food. She told me I was being ungrateful and rude and had a bad attitude. She was very cross with me and then gave me the cold shoulder. I was holding some straggles of lettuce/salad leaves that I'd picked up from the table and I slapped them against the table in anger and I think I said something angry. Then I felt ashamed that I had lost control of myself and shown people how angry I was. I was ashamed because I could see no one else understood why I was annoyed and they thought I was being ungrateful and inappropriate and had a problem with my attitude.

As well as being angry I myself also felt like I was being ungrateful. I thought: they didn't have to have a party for me. It was nice of Mum to do it and I should just make do with what was left over. I got two bits of white bread and shoved the salad leaves in between them and ate them and I thought that it didn't taste too bad actually. I just ate the sandwich and thought I would just have to make do. But I felt alone and despairing. I was looking about at all the people, wondering who I could go to who would understand my pain but everyone was just absorbed in the party and I knew they wouldn't understand. There was one guy who I thought would understand my pain (a guy from my old church: one of the only people who didn't cut me off when I left, but who I don't really talk to despite that because him keeping me on Facebook seems like more of a condescending grace on his part rather than an actual act of mutual friendship) but I felt I couldn't talk to him because he seemed to have his own pain and I knew mine would be too much. So in essence, I felt alone and despairing even though it was 'my' party and I was surrounded by people.

This is what it symbolised to me:

The birthday party is me: my life; me being born and being alive. My mum preparing the birthday party represents that my mum looked after me as a child and cared for me throughout my life (not always very well, but she did put in effort to doing it). But in the dream, the party wasn't really about me was it? I fell asleep and no one even noticed because the party was more about them having a good time. No one was interested if I was having a good time... or even awake for that matter. That is like my life as well. My mum brought me up and cared for me to satisfy her own needs. She didn't really care if I was happy with how my life was going. I mean, she cared, but only in that I had to be happy to validate her feelings of being part of a 'happy family'. If I wasn't happy, she didn't want to accept that. And if I expressed it to her, she was angry with me and chastised me for being ungrateful, just like in the dream. T added an observation about the salad. In anger I slapped the salad leaves on the table, but then I felt ashamed and then I made a sandwich with the salad and ate it. I didn't think much of that bit of the dream until T said: "You swallowed your anger". I supposed that's true isn't it? The salad in a way represented my anger. I expressed my anger by slapping the salad down and then I suppressed my anger and gobbled up the salad... swallowed it. And I do feel ashamed at my anger and I feel I am being ungrateful for being angry too.

Let me explain why I said my mum didn't really care if I was happy as a child. My mum makes no secret of the fact that she had an unhappy childhood and all she ever wanted was to have a 'happy family', so that's what she went about to create when she married my father and started popping out kids. Her love for me as her child was really a means to an end to satisfy her own need to be in a 'happy family' whatever that looked like to her. Perhaps her efforts at being a good mother were so that she could feel loved by her family. That's all very well and until about a month ago I thought that was not something to hold against your parent.

Because why does anyone have kids really? It's largely a selfish thing isn't it? You have them to satisfy some need you have to be loved or to have meaning in your life, or to create something you can manipulate, but still you love your kids and do the best for them and want them to be happy and healthy and that's all fine if you really do put their needs first. But what if there is something your child isn't happy about or what if they are sick? It goes wrong when your child's lack of perfection disrupts your idea of what your life should be like so much that you have to deny that there is anything wrong and chastise them for telling you about it.

Recently I have come to reflect on the times in my life from childhood throughout life until very recently when I told my mum that things weren't right and how her reaction was that of anger and denial. It has hit me like a tonne of bricks that my mum wants a happy family so much that she has punished me or denied reality to my expense. In the dream the denial is represented by her going ahead with my party despite me not being there and the anger she had when I confronted her about this was like her anger when I have talked to her about issues and her likely anger if I told her how I feel now. There are a few occasions that stand out to me from my life that showed how my mum couldn't accept reality: once when I went to her in tears and said I didn't think my father loved me. I said that because he acted like he hated me; he despised me. He ridiculed me, called me names, ignored me, treated me badly... did everything a person might do if forced to live with someone despicable and unworthy of being treated well. I guess I hadn't really thought through why I was confiding in my mum that I thought he didn't love me but I clearly hadn't anticipated that she would shout at me and tell me not to be so ungrateful and give me a lecture about how he worked long hours in a hard job to put a roof over my head. I felt so ashamed for having been so ungrateful and for having had such awful thoughts about my father.

Another time, my mum got called up to my school because I'd been found out for self harming. I always blamed my school for not helping me after that day. There was a suggestion of counselling but it never came to pass. I have felt so angry for years that they knew there was clearly something very wrong with me yet they did nothing more than tell my parents about it. But what about my parents? What did they do to help me? Why did they never get me any help? Why did I never feel angry with my mum for not helping me then?
Oh there have been other occasions. I think I learnt pretty quickly not to show emotions to my parents, unless it was gratitude, admiration or 'happiness'. I would get the odd interrogation from my mum where she would accuse me of being depressed. But it was never said in a way that would make one feel comfortable to confide in her. Not that I was even aware of being depressed most of the time when she said it. By that stage in my teens I was quite adept at not feeling anything. I wasn't even allowed to be physically ill. I mean, I had stern lectures from my mother about it not being acceptable that I was having stomach cramps and diarrhoea several times in every day. I remember one specific lecture was when we were driving home and I was in agony with cramps and she said I clearly wasn't praying enough because if I was I would be healed by God. It was never an option to go to the doctors to check I was OK. If I had a cold for more than two days I would have been told off for my lack of faith, so you can imagine how much tolerance there would have been if I actually had known about and talked about my psychological problems?

I would also get told of for studying too much. Yes, you read it right... too much. This was also an attitude problem because I should not be putting so much effort into things that weren't God's work. One day I let slip that I hadn't felt supported through my school studies and my mum really made me regret saying that. After a similar 'We put a roof over your head' lecture, she barely spoke to me except in a cold and chastising manner for several weeks. Again I felt so ashamed for how ungrateful I was.

Things never really changed, even after the church. Like I said, I learnt not to show my emotions for the most part but I remember once in my early twenties, when I was going through a really hard time it all bursting out in a flood of tears in front of my mother. I had no money to buy even bread or milk (I'm not exaggerating: after about half way through university I decided I never wanted to 'owe' my parents anything so I didn't ask them for financial help and my student loan and part time job earnings were barely enough to cover my rent and university fees), I was failing my degree, being bullied, I'd just left the church and a million little things were going wrong too. It all came out at once one day... about the money problems and that I was being bullied and didn't have anywhere to live and all this stuff. My mum listened then said she would help me. She said we would sit down and work it out together. I felt better; I wouldn't be on my own with it all. I waited for the time to come that she would help me but it didn't come. She didn't mention it again. Ever.

And so I learnt once and for all that I love my mum but she can't handle my unhappiness. There have been things I can't avoid. I know how it irks her that I am not well often... although at least now she can't blame my lack of faith in God. She used to talk like a parrot about how her side of the family were so genetically robust and any of my illness couldn't have come from her. Then when I got diagnosed with, wait for it... a genetic illness, she refused to believe I had inherited it from her side until she had a blood test done that she couldn't deny and then she was mortified and truly apologetic. She found that hard to handle.

So to recent days. I have not shared anything about my mental health with her where I can avoid it. I don't mind telling her about my physical problems. I guess I feel safe that I can say those now. However, recently she asked me direct questions which meant I would have to lie to her if I wanted to keep my mental health secrets so I told her I have been depressed. She wanted to know more, more, more. So she didn't get angry or deny it or anything. But did she? Is it a coincidence that she seems annoyed with me every time I see her since? Is it a coincidence that she has recently given me her other well used speech entitled: "The mental problems in our family are all genetic" although now renamed: "YOUR mental problems are genetic". And am I imagining things when I feel like she is giving me a silent treatment and that she is expressing her anger at me by not responding to my texts or contacting me and making narky comments and giving me freakish glares when I do see her?

Well you know what Mummy? If you're angry at me for trying to further shatter your delusions of a happy family, I'm as angry at you for denying all the unhappiness that I lived with for my entire life. I'm angry with you for making me feel ashamed for having feelings that should have been taken notice of. You could have helped me. You could have helped me to be able to know the things I had to not know and you could have acted for me to make things different so that I could experience what real life is and what being a child should have been about. I'm angry that I am only now learning how to feel emotions without channelling them into something less dangerous. And now there is so much anger, I don't know if it's ever going to end. And it's all very well me saying it here, but the fact is, I can't ever tell my mum how I feel because I know how she would punish me.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014


I have been incredibly angry a lot lately. It's really hard work. I feel sorry for poor Adam having to live with me... well one moment I feel sorry for him and the next I feel so angry with him and wish he'd go away or at least be a bit more useful, interested or understanding. He's a good guy and many others would have given up on me by now. So I swing between really angry at him and breaking my heart at how awful it is for him to have ended up with someone as messed up and horrible as me.

The anger is not only at Adam, in fact it's more so with everyone else in the world. I just can't help seeing the worst in everything. In one way I know I am being overly negative, but in the moment I am incredulous that others wouldn't be as incensed as I am by the situation or person. I am having to completely avoid human interactions because I could ignite at any moment. Family are particularly annoying and I feel I must hibernate to recover for several days after each encounter... and Facebook. Everyday I look over my Facebook news feed to see what my friends have been posting because that's what I used to do out of interest, but now I find myself having to bite my tongue (or thumb) because I can think of a disagreeable thing to respond to almost everything on there.

It's very hard work feeling so enraged constantly. It flares up sometimes for no reason at all. I'll just be sitting on my sofa minding my own business and then I'll remember something that I already got annoyed about days ago, eg an interaction, and then I'll be angry all over again. And I find it almost impossible to not want to verbalise it then. Adam is sick of hearing me complaining and he rarely agrees with anything. I think he notices negatives even less than the average person. In fact, mostly he's just completely oblivious to people being rude or unfriendly to him, whereas I always pick up on any hints of an attitude and feel a need to talk about it with Adam afterwards. It would just be nice if sometimes he'd go: "Yeah, I know what you mean, she was rude!" and then I'd feel better and could forget about it. But we're polar opposites in this area and I just don't seem to be able to learn to keep my mouth shut. It's like I always expect telling him well help and it never does. The other thing is, if I didn't speak my woes, I'd have nothing at all to say because it's mainly all woes.

It's not only people that infuriate me; my patience is non existent. If I'm trying to do something and it's not going straight forwardly I am enraged. Even my cat has been annoying me and he's just an adorable fluff ball really. But I think he senses my anger and doesn't cuddle me as much and then I'm angry with him for not cuddling me. I don't like being this way. I hate myself as much as I hate the world at the moment, if not more. I am a horrible, horrible person and no one would want to be around me like this (and yet I get angry at Adam for not seeming 'into' me). I am being just so destructive. I'm being like two of my siblings who I've never been able to understand: they are mean and angry and see the worst in things and act like the world has done them a disservice and I never understood why they couldn't just see the best in things and get along with people. Yet suddenly, it's like a monster has invaded me and taken over my being and all I want to do is scream and break stuff and throw things and tell every person all the things they've done to annoy me, of which there are many. I've punched mirrors, banged my head off doors, thrown my phone at the wall, smashed stuff. It just doesn't help.

I'm trying to see the positives in things. I don't want to be this way. It's so exhausting. I believed we make a choice about how we look at things but it feels like I have no control. The only thing I feel I can do is try to keep away from people so that I don't destroy my relationships. Unfortunately I can't get away from Adam.
I've said to him it would be better if I go away and he doesn't respond. I know it would be better for him. I wish I could go away and get better and come back and appreciate my life and my husband. If things go on this way, my relationship might not be able to recover.

Apart from angry, I'm also feeling a lot of sadness and despair lately too. Everything makes me cry. I mean EVERYTHING. I can't watch the TV for more than five minutes without having to blink back tears. Most times it's something ridiculous like a soppy moment in a comedy. Or someone won the 'Win the adverts' in Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway last week and I almost burst into tears. What the heck. I've also had more full on bawling my eyes out in despair sessions in the last month than I probably had in the previous five years.

I don't know about all of this. In a way, much of my trouble is that I don't usually feel. It usually gets displaced into physical symptoms or I dissociate, so does that mean this is a good thing? Because it doesn't feel like it. And my physical symptoms are nearly as bad recently as they were before I ever started going to therapy (that was one thing that had drastically improved for me). I'm getting sickness, pains, headaches more frequently. I feel like I am in mourning for something. I feel like I'm mourning my entire life: my father, my mother, myself, what I believed I had from T; the loss of hope. I always had hope. I always believed I'd get better, that T could help me. Well, she said she could, so I believed her. I don't anymore. I have little belief that things can be truly better. I might not always feel as bad as I do now but I feel hopeless about ever really being able to live. I'm feeling sorry for myself in the worst possible way, but it just feels like I'm finally being real and seeing things as they really are.

 I feel like I am out of control. I'm in a very dark place. I'm sabotaging every good thing in my life. My self esteem couldn't be lower. If Adam were to challenge me, I would crumple into a bawling heap of despair and self loathing. And I still don't know what, if anything, is going to help me get through this. At the moment, I am seriously considering looking into asking if I can get NHS funding to go to a residential unit that helps people affected by trauma. I contacted the hospital in the past and they said they felt I would be a good candidate, but at the time I couldn't imagine the prospect of leaving Adam for up to a year, especially with it being across the water and what would I tell my family. Now I feel it might be the best thing for both of us before I completely destroy my life. And if an intensive treatment could help me get better and start living it would be worth the time investment, because let's face it: I'm no better now than I was five months ago. I could be in this bad place for another five months yet and I could have gone and come back in that time.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Gaps in the Service (NHS)

In the last depressing post, I told you about how things went pear shaped last year. So what happened after it all went wrong? November was pretty awful. December was really bad but less 'risky' and January to March have just been dark; not risky, but dark.

In November (I think), there was one miserable day that started with dissociated cutting (it happened out of the blue while I was loading the dishwasher); then a child part calling T on the phone to tell her that she was scared which then resulted in me going down to see her at her office and her having to try to make arrangements for my safety. Because T was concerned about the risk of me ending my life she tried to refer me to the 'Home Treatment Team'. I was having suicidal thoughts and couldn't promise her I would be safe, you see. The Home Treatment Team assess people to see if they need to go into hospital or if they can be supported to stay at home with daily visits etc. I agreed to the referral, partly because I knew I didn't have a choice and partly because I was also scared for myself and felt if I could just be locked in a room I couldn't do too much until this passed. She rang them to refer and they basically told her they wouldn't accept the referral because I didn't have 'a serious mental illness'.

In these parts there is this thing about mental illness being different from conditions like personality disorders. The Home Treatment Team don't accept people with personality disorders because they don't see that as mental illness. I'm not really sure of the details of this so correct me if I'm wrong, but it might be something to do with absence of psychosis that they reject you for.  I don't have a personality disorder, to my knowledge (and I have checked with T a few timesabout this). I have a dissociative disorder. Because this is seen as something that is caused by experiences, it's not seen as an illness ie it's an adaptive coping mechanism or a neurosis. I agree, my problems aren't going to be all sorted out by medication; my problems are more likely to be sorted out by someone helping me to work through the trauma. BUT, if I am suicidal I am still in need of protection and probably medication to see me through that time and prevent me from ending my life. Also, who's to say that the two are mutually exclusive? It may be that I have Dissociative Identity Disorder but also have a depressive episode that is serious. And surely if one of my alters is trying to end my life, my thoughts are in some way disordered at that time? It just seems like a bunch of words and definititions that have been made up, probably for a good reason, but a side effect is an issue where real people who need help don't get it.

The problem is, if someone who doesn't have a serious mental illness diagnosis is suicidal then what is to be done for them; because to my knowledge, hospital admissions have to go through the Home Treatment Team? (I would personally question how someone can be suicidal and not mentally ill: again, it's all just words isn't it?) What are these people to do? Well, T was advised to refer me to psychiatry and the Self Harm Team. These would have been wonderful ideas, perhaps for me on any day over the previous few months where I was going downhill but in my crisis at that moment, waiting three months for an appointment with a psychiatrist wasn't really very helpful. Or as T put it: "there is a gap in the service".

So because I fell under the category of not mentally ill, in the Home Treatment Team's opionion I was refused the only route of access to safety and protection the local Health Trust had to offer. It seems like, if you don't have this magical diagnosis then you can f**k off and die somewhere else. Having a diagnosis of DID is just a slap in the face from all angles. My doctor won't acknowledge it: ask my GP what my record says and she will say I have chronic depression, not DID, not even a dissociative disorder, because her computer doesn't have a code for that. And so she will not talk of, or acknowledge anything but depression with me. Yet ask the Home Treatment Team to help and they won't acknowledge me because I have a dissociative disorder. More words and definitions that forget about human lives. What about individual human beings who are real people? If the people in that team were dealing with a member of their own family who was suicidal, would they be refusing them an assessment? I very much doubt it. They'd be doing everything they possibly could to make sure that person was safe.

If my understanding of any of this is wrong, I DO NOT apologise. Because, I am not stupid. If I can't understand how the services work then there is something wrong with how the services are communicating with service users. All I know is, I needed help and it was refused. I wonder how many people have been in the same situation as I was in and did not live to complain about it in a blog post? Who speaks up for those people? A gap in a service where it involves people who are in danger of death is not going to be highlighted by those who die by suicide. They can't speak up and tell the world that they were refused help.

For me, at that moment, on that day, I wasn't surprised. I knew enough of how that team works. In fact, if I'd been more my usual self I would have thought to tell T not to bother calling them as I would have known how it would go. I was actually relieved not to be taken on for assessment because the last thing I wanted was interference that wasn't simply just locking me up so I couldn't hurt myself if I switched to the part that wanted to die. I would have accepted going into hospital for my safety but I did not need someone coming round my house daily to check I was still alive. My issue at that moment was not that I was planning to end my life, but that another dissociated part was planning to do it and I was afraid I could not control that part. I felt I just needed a place of safety.

So what happened? Adam came to T's office where I was waiting, wishing the ground would swallow me up. I love my T and sympathise that she also could not find support that I needed and probably felt a bit alone at that time too but I could see how the process needed to go. She had a professional responsibility to ensure I had a safety plan; I'd already said I couldn't promise I wasn't going to end my life so she had to act on this. She was denied help as much as I was. So what was she to do? She needed to have it recorded that I had a safety plan; I suppose that's something they have to do. In the end I just had to lie. I had to say I wasn't going to hurt myself, even though I didn't know if I would or not. I'm sure she understood that it wasn't in my gift to make that guarantee but she needed it documented that I had a safety plan. I still feel bad about the fact that I just had to help her tick that box by being dishonest. She'd only recently told me that she admired my honesty (as a quality that I have in general) and there I was clearly just agreeing to something I didn't honestly believe I could stick to if I dissociated into the other part.

We also agreed Adam would look after my medication because I admitted I had been Googling how to take an effective overdose. I felt angry about this; like a child being punished. You know... "If you can't act responsibly 'insert something you own here' will be confiscated until you can". I know my feeling angry is my own issue and that they were just trying to help me. I know it's to do with feeling like people were trying to control me and take away my choices. I'd already discovered from my research that an overdose really isn't the most reliable way to go about ending your life and I knew that if I wanted to hang myself I could always find the means, but the latter was agreed by T, that we couldn't eliminate everything but we wanted to minimise risks. I did not agree to giving Adam my blades and I think T could see that it would make things worse to do so. They are a safety net for me. I'm a bit like Maggie Gyllenhaal in 'The Secretary' when it comes to my precious blade set. Getting rid of them completely has never been possible.

I felt SO ashamed that Adam was there having to be a part of my mess. So, so, so ashamed. I felt defensive inside and exposed and I felt like I was being punished for self harming just as I did when I was a child (more of my own issues when others are trying to help). I just wanted to die. I just sat there, between T and Adam, being asked to make promises I couldn't know I could keep and wishing I could just disappear and not exist anymore.

Well, I'm writing this post so clearly I was not at risk and the Home Treatment Team were right about me anyway weren't they? Or am I just one of the fortunate ones who managed to stay alive despite them? I would like to know if someone is keeping a record of the number of times people seek out help when they feel they are in danger and are refused and what happens to those people. Not one person should end their life after calling out for help or having someone seek help for them and it being refused. If that has ever happened (and I know it has), it is too many times to have happened.

What did I learn from this situation? Unfortunately, it further confirmed to me that if I am in a desperate situation, I can't expect help from my health service. I believe T did everything she could have done for me. She always treats me with respect. I think I have been lucky to be treated by her and I go about expecting the same of everyone else I encounter in the health service and am then constantly horrified when I am treated like an inferior being or a time waster. T always takes me seriously. I can see that she treats everyone as equal, including herself. Not everyone has the same life experience and this affects people in different ways but that doesn't mean they are better or worse. Also her understanding of my predicament in relation to it not being 'me' but another dissociated part was clear. I take that for granted actually. She 'gets it' so well that I forget how weird it probably sounds to other people because it's so normal for me and talking about parts with her feels as normal as talking about anything else. It's not something many people in everyday life would understand when they think of suicide: the idea of dissociation coming into play. They think of someone in a desperate place, full stop. They don't think of someone who feels like they are posessed by another entity who could take over and kill them at any moment, even though they themselves don't wish to end their life in that way. And believe me, I don't wish to.

I have considered suicide in the past; long and hard. That is my nature: I think things through. And I am logical. Although I struggle with feeling like I don't want to be alive at times, I also have the capacity to see that suicide would devastate people who love me and have very negative effects on other people who know me. I also have the capacity to realise that if I can tolerate being alive, there is always a chance that things will get better. And life is tolerable for the most part. Sometimes it feels awful and I feel hopeless and wish I didn't exist but I don't want to hurt other people and if I keep breathing in and out and time goes by, maybe things will change. And sometimes I do laugh or feel the sun's warmth on my neck or listen to a bird chattering in a tree and in those moments, I am alive.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Where it all went wrong

Last year things started going downhill for me. I'd had a good year on Venlafaxine since my previous 'crash' at the start of 2012 that was triggered by the departure of my clinical psychologist, T who went away for six months. After she returned and I had returned to work on a high dose of the aforementioned Venlafaxine, things were OK from summer 2012 to early 2013. Things are never brilliant for me: I still have dissociative identity disorder and I still struggle on a daily basis with all of the issues it causes, but I could function reasonably well and I felt 'OK'.

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. I apologise for how long this is. No, wait! I take it back. 

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.

This old draft proves the point I failed to make...

I found this draft of a post I started to write called: 'Flitting'. I just found it humorous that I was trying to write a post about my inability to complete a task and then I failed to complete the task...

"I can't complete a task at the moment. There is so much I want to do with my weekend. I mean, just little things in the house but each time I try to do one thing I get overwhelmed by the complexities of the task. Or I just don't get to trying one thing because there are just so many things that I don't know where to start. To illustrate the former; I tried to go online to buy a replacement part for the shower... who knew there were so many options when it comes to showers?..."

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

I see a darkness

I haven't been on my blog much in quite some time for various reasons. I haven't decided not to, it's just not happening. I would like to be doing it but finding words seems quite a challenge.

I just wanted to say a 'thank you' to readers who have left comments and I want to apologise that I haven't responded to each one. It is still encouraging to read comments from people who can relate to my experiences and who find my posts useful and it's always meaningful to me when I read that others can relate.

Therapy is very difficult at the moment. We are having a bit of a prolonged crisis in our relationship and I have no idea how we will get through it. I don't have the words today to explain it but I guess the labels underpinning it all would be 'attachment disorder' and 'transferance'. Depression is with me and my functioning is very low. I have been off work for a while now.

 Maybe once I stop avoiding, I will get something in words. For now, this song says things quite well...

I see a darkness

Bye for now