Blog Move

Posted in Moods with tags , , , on Sunday, 30 January, 2011 by Pandora

In January 2010, I moved this blog. I have had a year’s worth of redirection from this location to the new one, but am no longer paying for it, hence why you might find yourself here.

The blog is now located at www.serialinsomniac.com. If you have this URL bookmarked or blogrolled, please change your links – thank you!

I can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

See you over at serialinsomniac.com!

Cheers

Pandora / SI

A Time of Not Being Suicidal?

Posted in Context with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on Tuesday, 19 January, 2010 by Pandora

In the last post, the lovely Karita who blogs at If Narky, Feed Profusely commented that she had never felt suicidal.  This got me thinking.  Was there a time when I didn’t?

I have had a fixation with death and dying from as far back as I can remember.  My mother was disturbed when as a four year old, I told her I wanted to be a forensic pathologist when I grew up (seriously).  Although I didn’t fulfill that dream, I did academically pursue what I thought would be a related discipline, the most interesting aspects of it being those that discussed death – including, indeed, a quite in-depth exploration of suicide in a sociology class.

I cannot say whether or not I actually wanted to die myself when I was four, but I wouldn’t rule it out.

It was certainly the case in my later childhood.  I first tried to kill myself when I was about nine or 10.  I have a very vivid memory of it; I tried to strangle myself behind the closed door of my bedroom.  Clearly this was a ludicrous attempt, but an attempt it was nevertheless, and I remember the despair and frustration I felt when it became evident that my actions would fail to bring about their intended result.  I was distraught at the prospect of my life continuing.

Since then, I’ve tried walking in front of vehicles, taken two overdoses (which saw me hospitalised), tried to slit my wrists*, ankles and elbows, hanging myself and suffocation.  I think that’s it.  (* Including, of course, the incident from Friday).

I know what you’re thinking.  Anyone who’s serious about committing suicide wouldn’t have such a number of silly attempts under their belt; they plan their death, and that’s that.  Fair enough.  I can only defend myself by saying that in most of the cases, the most serious ones at least, the desire to not exist felt serious.  The most serious attempt was a massive overdose when I was about 16, which did nearly kill me.  A couple of these attempts were gestures or based on circumstantial factors, I admit – but mostly they weren’t.

When I wasn’t actually actively trying to top myself, I was probably thinking about it.  I can honestly say that I’ve almost certainly fantasised and/or ‘planned’ my suicide for every day of my adult and adolescent life, and a lot of my late childhood too.  This even includes periods of mania and contentment.

In short, this is how I perceive normality – to all intents and purposes, I have never known anything else.  I’ve been sitting here for a while trying to imagine what it’s like to not feel suididal, and it’s just beyond the bounds of my imagination.

Well, there’s more proof – as if it were needed – that I’m a headbin ;-)

Tomorrow is my first appointment with NewVCB, about which I will blog as soon as I can.  I don’t know whether to be amused or incredulous by the fact that my first appointment with this woman will be in the wake of a suicide attempt.  And then I have to face C on Thursday, and that will not be fun in the least.  Alas.

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Suicide Attempt Epic Fail

Posted in Moods, Triggers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Sunday, 17 January, 2010 by Pandora

*** STANDARD TRIGGER WARNING: POSSIBLY TRIGGERING MATERIAL IS UPCOMING; I HEREBY ADVISE YOU AGAINST READING IT IF YOU FEEL THAT IT MAY SET YOU OFF…BUT I KNOW YOU’RE GOING TO READ IT ANYWAY, SO THAT’S A BIT POINTLESS, BUT I PROBABLY LIKE YOU BECAUSE I LIKE EVERYONE THAT I KNOW READS THIS DRIVEL, SO PLEASE DON’T HURT YOURSELF.  NOT BECAUSE OF INADEQUATE LITTLE ME ANYWAY.  IF YOU DO SO I WILL HAVE TO COME ROUND TO YOUR HOUSE AND SHOUT AT YOU AND/OR KILL KITTENS AND/OR CLUB BABY SEALS AND/OR SLEEP WITH RICK MAYALL.  NOW YOU WOULDN’T WANT THAT WOULD YOU, SO EITHER DON’T READ THIS SHIT OR A LEAST MAKE SURE YOU ARE NOT COMPLETELY MENTAL AT THE TIME OF DOING SO.  OK?  OK.  THNXBAI. ***

I’m sure that most of you are familiar with what I did on Friday night(well, technically, Saturday morning) given my bizarre running commentary on same on Twitter.  Of course, not everyone who reads this blog uses Twitter, but nevertheless, you can derive the basics from the title of this post.

It wasn’t a “cry for help” or some sort of silly borderline strop.  It was an absolutely pathetic attempt, I will admit that, but it was a nonetheless serious attempt.  I genuinely wanted to die.  I did.  No bullshit, straight up – death, not attention, was what I sought.

Nothing especially bad had happened on Friday – I was just miserable for most of the day.  I met A for dinner and a few drinks, which was pleasant actually, and when we got home, we listened to some music and were generally rather contented.  But I kept thinking how much easier things would be if I wasn’t in existence.  Not just for me – although I admit that was a major motivating factor – but for everyone.  I add nothing to anyone’s life.  A million people could tell me otherwise, but I’d never believe them.  I am a worthless, useless slut of sheer, unadulterated and fetid disgustingness.  Or at least that’s what I thought then.

So when A went to bed, circa 1.15am, I laid into myself with the scalpel.  Few parts of my body are unaffected – self-harm is strongly in evidence on ankles, arms, abdomen (there words there, just slashes elsewhere), elbows – the works really.  As I was doing it, I thought that I might as well go one step further and slit my wrists, the hopeful and intended result being my bleeding to death.

Now, people could say, “but a serious suicide attempt requires planning, and this was an impulsive act.”  I do accept that, and can see why it looks like nothing more than a pathetic gesture.  All I can say to convince people otherwise is that it felt absolutely and completely genuine at the time.  I wanted to die.  I really did.  I always remember (or rather don’t) the nothing that I experienced under general anaesthesia when I had an operation a while back.  I longed so fervently for that nothing again – and for it to be a permanent state.

So, I took a few minutes to write a note to my mother and A, with acknowledgements of a few friends, then went in search of an analgesic spray that I keep for sprains and the like.  An attempted suicide is not like self-harm; it’s not performed in the pursuit of pain.  No, pain was not a commodity that I lacked, so I sought to minimise more of it.

I’ve read this on the suicide newsgroups, but I was nevertheless surprised (or at least I am retrospectively) by how calm and contented I felt having made the decision to kill myself.  It was reassuring and comforting to know that I would not have to continue with this sorry excuse for a life, that there would soon be nothing.  Nothing was all I wanted.

I cut my left wrist first.  I tried to cut deep, but my skin was ungraciously unco-operative, refusing to slit to any meaningful degree.  This irritated me considerably, but I let it pass and decided to return to it.  So off I moved to my right wrist, which curiously proved considerably easier.  I’m generally right handed, so wielding a scalpel with my left hand would not be the most obviously effective way to garner a major life-threatening wound.  But initially, I thought I’d spotted success.

I was captivated by the blood.  It was the most blood I have ever seen from a deliberate act of self-harm.  Dark, and think, and oozing, and beautiful.  It completely mesmerised me, and I could almost feel my life ebbing away with it.  That was an eminent comfort to me, and I felt moved and calmed, yet slightly euphoric.  God, what a beautiful and welcoming thing death seemed to be!

But wait.  The blood was oozing, not spurting.  That meant that I had failed to sever a major artery, and rationality came flooding back: if one is going to off themselves by cutting, they really should cut vertically on their arms, not horizontally as I had done.  Vein cuts generally won’t lead to a successful suicide, and indeed artery ones don’t always either. Plus such wounds can lead to nerve damage in one’s hands if they fail to bring about death.  This was the shittest suicide attempt in the world!

I was filled with self-disgust, but even more than that, irri-fucking-tation.  Not anger or fury, but irritation.  I was irritated that my peaceful comfort in an imminent death had been shattered.  For fuck’s sake, I can’t even kill myself with any fucking gusto!

I sought advice on Twitter (that well-known bastion of medical knowledge), still watching the blood ooze heavily from my wrist.  The consensus was that it wouldn’t off me, but that I should go to Accident and Emergency nevertheless and get the thing stitched.

I considered this.  The thing wasn’t going to kill me, self-evidently, but it may have led to nerve damage.  If I was, however unfortunately, going to remain alive, then I might as well do so with a functioning right hand.  I rang a taxi to take me to the hospital, which is less than five minutes’ drive away.

Whilst waiting for it, I cleaned both wounds up a bit (although superficial, the left one was bleeding satisfactorily) and bandaged the right one as best I could.  The bleeding was still very heavy though, and before the taxi even arrived, it needed changed.

I called up the stairs to A to tell him that I had been advised to go to Casualty.  He got up and told me that he was coming with me, a suggestion against which I protested, though admittedly rather mildly.

I don’t remember the taxi trip at all, and have only the vaguest recollection of checking in at the A and E reception.  I remember telling the woman that my suicide attempt was one of the most pathetic in history, and being surprised by how much data she was able to access on me from her computer (1984 is with us, readers).  I also recall that the waiting time was estimated at seven hours, but for some reason I allowed myself to believe that it would never come to that.  How absolutely and completely wrong this assumption proved to be.

To be fair to them, I was very quickly seen by a triage nurse, who opined that the slit on my right wrist probably needed stitches.  She put steri-strips on it to close it as much as possible until such times as I was seen by a doctor.  She was a young girl – I’d guess younger than I am – and was remarkably sympathetic.  I was bawling my eyes out like a bloody baby by this stage, but this girl did not try and rush me, nor patronise nor judge me.  She simply listened and tried her best to be supportive.  Alas, though, eventually I had to go back to the waiting room.

And so it began.  The mind-numbing, seemingly endless, hideously interminable wait.  It is, I imagine, exactly what the final wait on death row is like – though at least if you’re a suicidal, schizo bitch you can expect a satisfactory outcome at the end of that particular interim period.  I had no idea what to expect at the end of this one.

Wait.  Wait.  Wait.

Heat.  Heat.  Heat.

Atrophying mind.  Atrophying mind.  Atrophying mind.

If swear to God that if one wasn’t suicidal to begin with, it was enough to make them so.  I can’t describe why it was so bad, but it was.  It really was.  Thank God for Twitter (on which I will remark later) on my mobile, though of course the bloody thing’s battery packed in on me eventually, leaving me once more to the doom and nothingness that was Casualty.  Well, I know earlier I was extolling the virtues of nothingness, but that particular brand of nothingness has the decency to lack consciousness.  The A and E version does not demonstrate such wonder.

After the seven hour mark had passed, I went back to the desk and asked was I going to get seen.  By this point it was after 9am.  The woman consulted with a doctor and, interestingly, he almost immediately proceeded to take me through the double doors of doom.  I’ve said it before, but I’ve wondered are there gas chambers through there.  I felt like I was walking the plank.

I was led to a room that, aside from the lack of bars, did a wonderfully accurate impersonation of a prison cell.  It, like the waiting room, was painted (if you could call it that) in one of those bland non-colours that are designed to half-sedate people into compliance.  Just like they have in customs halls at airports.  I was utterly exhausted, mentally and physically, yet my agitation just increased more on arrival in this room.  I found myself barely able to even speak to the doctor, though he seemed like an amicable enough man.

Amicable…but competent?  I’m not sure.  He asked a few questions then went to call the liaison team from the bin, without examining my wrist.  I called him back and asked him did it not require stitches.  He looked at it, in a horribly cursory sort of way (without even removing the steri-strips), then declared that that with which it was already dressed was “quite adequate”.

Again, I’m not sure.  The cut was pretty deep and the resulting blood loss, whilst not life-threatening, had been relatively considerable.  It wasn’t as deep as the (accidental) cut to my finger a few months ago, but it wasn’t that far off it.  Lovely GP told me that I should have had that injury stitched, so I was surprised at this doctor’s belief that this one didn’t such treatment.  I was especially surprised that he didn’t remove the steri-strips to check.

Surprised, yes, but at the time I was so indescribably fed up and so unbearably consumed by exhaustion that I didn’t care.  I just wanted to go home (so any attempt to admit me to the bin would not have gone down well, not that I’m sure I’d have had the energy to fight the bastards).  I said so to the doctor, who said that he wanted the psychiatric liaison woman to see me.  I asked how soon that was anticipated.

“Oh, she’ll be over shortly,” he said nonchalantly but apparently genuinely.  Based on that premise, I agreed to stay and meet the woman in question.  I went to get A and brought him back to the cell, where at least he was able to sit in a slightly more comfortable chair.  I used much of the time between the departure of the doctor and the arrival of the mental woman to apologise to A.  I was horrified that I had put him through such trauma.  From my own perspective, I didn’t – and frankly don’t – give a toss about my suicide attempt, but I absolutely abhor myself for putting him through it.  I kept telling him that his life was better before he met me, which as far as I can tell it indubitably was.  He denied it, claiming that he had been lonely prior to the crossing of our paths.  But surely loneliness is preferable to having to tolerate a borderline freak with a scalpel fetish on a daily basis?

There was plenty of time for such apologies.  Plenty indeed.  The doctor left my cell about 9.15am, and the woman from psychiatry finally arrived just before 1pm, after three enquiries from A to staff about her whereabouts.  If anything this waiting was even worse than the seven hour one of earlier; perhaps it was because we were so completely brain-dead exhausted by then, or perhaps it was simply because the ‘examining’ physician had strongly suggested that the wait for this woman would be pretty short.  It must be that, in A and E, anything under three years is short.  Absolute fucking shit.

Anyway, eventually she did arrive, just as I had finally persuaded A to leave.  I figured there was no point in both of us losing even more of our wills to live (not that I had any in the first place, but you know what I mean), and in any case the poor cats needed fed.  So as I went to a “more private” room with the woman, off A went.

She was a nice woman, but perhaps unsurprisingly was about as useful as a rolled-up election manifesto being shoved up my arse.  We discussed what has stressed me of late (Christmas, C’s dickery, just general mentalism), self-harm in general, the history of my mentalism, my physical health, my weight (“it’s not uncommon in people who’ve been sexually abused to deliberately but unconsciously become overweight, so as they make themselves – in their eyes – less attractive to potential abusers”, apparently) and current eating habits (don’t eat – binge – throw up), and other related wank that I don’t really remember.  She did keep asking if I still wanted to die, and I kept being very careful with my response.  On the one hand, I didn’t want to lie to this woman who was being understanding and down-to-Earth with me, but on the other I didn’t want to say ‘yes’, and find myself sectioned.  I doubt that I would have been, given the low level of resources that this Trust seems to have devoted to mental health difficulties (this isn’t my usual Trust, for the record, as this all took place at A’s house and my normal Trust is based on my address at my mother’s house), but it was always a horrible possibility.  So I just said that I didn’t know.

I told her about C’s intention to cut my psychotherapy short and about VCB constantly fucking me about.  I also told her that I now have a new VCB, a woman who I am to meet for the first time on Wednesday.  The liaison woman reckoned she knows NewVCB, and says if it is indeed the same woman that she is “lovely – really bubbly and friendly.”  That’s better than her predecessor I agree, but ‘bubbly’?  How does a mental who’s just tried to catch the bus deal with someone chirping about and loving life?  Fuck.

The long and the short of it is that she is going to ring LGP, NewVCB and, crucially for me, C, tomorrow morning to report on Friday’s occurrences.  I say ‘crucially’ regarding C as I profoundly do not want him to know about this.  A and A’s best mate W (who A was keeping in touch with during this whole episode via text message) both place the blame for my suicide attempt solely at C’s door.  Naturally I have been trying to defend C.  I have my own psychological agency; he is not responsible for my actions.  A agrees, but still strongly believes that what he feels is C’s ineptitude has at least “precipitated” this.  I don’t know what I think.  I just don’t know how I am going to face the man after this.  I don’t see why I should be so mortified – after all, A, W, all my Twitter friends and now all my blog readers have been party to the most minor of details in relation to this, and C will know a mere few (unless I confide further in him, which as of this writing does not seem likely).  I suppose that I am worried that he too will think that I did what I did solely because of him, and I don’t want him thinking (knowing?) that he has that level of power over me.

Anyway, the woman told me that when I got home I was to give the scalpel and its associated blades to A.  I protested most vehemently against this.

“If I want to kill myself, I’ll find a way,” I said.  “Removing the scalpel will not prevent that, but it will prevent the only real outlet I have for calming my mentalism when it’s at its worst; non-suicidal self-harm.”

She said, “have you ever been referred to a self-harm team?”

I responded in the negative, and she said that she would, therefore, try and refer me to one.  It is difficult because I officially live with my mother, and therefore in a different Trust area – my Trust, surprise surprise, doesn’t have a self-harm team (one thing I ranted about in the advocacy letter, at C’s suggestion).  Nevertheless, she said, she will try.  So I suppose that was one positive to come out of the whole awful experience.  As I said to her, I actually don’t want to stop self-harming as things presently stand; it is the only way to cope sometimes.  What I do want, though, is to want to want to stop it.  I don’t put much faith in these self-harm team people really, but it is at least an avenue to explore.

She once again asked if I had any thoughts of going home and trying again to kill myself, and once again I made some sort of ambiguous noise.  However, she took this as a ‘yes’, and to that end took me back to the doctors’ station to seek my discharge, which was instantly given without any further examination or questioning.  I left, and walked home alone.  I had been there 12 hours, and not a thing of any use – save for the possible self-harm team referral – had occurred.

When I got home I found evidence of what happened all over the living room floor.  Mercifully, there were no blood stains on the carpet, but there were maybe eight tissues that were absolutely saturated.  Blades lay scattered everywhere, though the scalpel itself was curiously absent and has remained elusive (A swears he didn’t find it).  I tidied the place up, grateful that A had been seemingly oblivious to it all.  He had had enough trauma.

I found him in bed listening to the radio.  I crawled in beside him and begged for his forgiveness, and I am very lucky to be able to report that it was granted, on the proviso that I don’t do this again.  I promised I wouldn’t, though A wonders if that is a promise that can be kept given how strong the compulsion to die can be at times.

All I can say is that I will try my best.  I really will try my best.  To look at it from a cynical perspective, I really don’t want to have to go through 12 hours of unmitigated hospital shite like that again.  The inadequacy and comical inefficiency of the NHS never ceases to amaze me.  I mean, OK – had there been some big emergency in, I could have understood the waiting there like complete numpties for 28 years – but there wasn’t.  There were a handful of other minor injuries, so it was just complete and utter shit.

How do I feel now, about 30 hours after getting home?  I feel remarkably not-too-shit, though there seems to be a permanent, cynical sneer across my face (though that was quite possibly there long before Friday night).  I still think the world is a shithole and that my life is a mess, but I am simultaneously touched by the generosity of some people, both out there in the ether and here, in ‘real life’.  See here and here for just some examples of individuals that prove that Twitter is very, very far from the facile, meaningless shite that many in the media present it as.  I fully believe that were it not for Twitter, I may well have successfully killed myself in the last nine months – not on Friday probably, admittedly, but at some juncture.  It is the best support group that I can imagine.

W and of course, in a beyond-words sort of way, A, also prove that maybe, in the midst of all the darkness, there are some people who make this existence less shit.  I am grateful that people care.  I hate my life, very profoundly do I hate it, but in terms of having people to give a shit, I am glad to declare myself a fortunate individual.

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The Advocacy Saga Continues…

Posted in C, Context, Psychotherapy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on Thursday, 14 January, 2010 by Pandora

Following on from the original letter to the advocacy charities and the inadequate response received, here is the latest. I will also be sending the original letter to my Trust’s Patient Council.

Hopefully I will not have any more two-posts-in-one-day-marathons for a while.

Dear Admin Woman Who Wrote to Me the Other Week

Re: Advocacy

Thank you for your letter dated 4 January in response to mine of 17 December. I must confess to feeling very disappointed by the surprisingly brief response of your advocate; however, I did take the advice given, and I discussed the matter with both my consultant and, again, my clinical psychologist [actually, I didn't discuss this with the consultant, as I don't see her until Wednesday, but they will never know. C absolutely assures me that it is not the consultant's decision, but his].

Both advise me that the length of treatment provided by the psychologist is decided upon by the psychologist himself and not the psychiatrist as your colleague believed. My psychologist unfortunately maintains his position of ceasing psychotherapy after the period previously specified (now 22 weeks from today), despite acknowledging that my illness should really be treated through long-term therapy. This contradictory position is a clear illustration of what seems to be unwillingness on the part of the Trust to prioritise and allocate adequate resources to the treatment of mental illness.

In light of the above, can I please again ask that your advocacy service looks at this case. I am very concerned that if treatment is halted prematurely that not only will I have failed to have made any significant progress, but that in fact my mental health will be seriously negatively affected. Arguably, given the number of difficult issues that therapy brings up for an individual, starting but not completing a full course of therapy is more damaging to a patient than receiving no treatment at all. I would be extremely grateful for your help, as I do not feel that I have the cognitive resources to fight this battle against what amounts to medical negligence myself.

To summarise, the decision to cut short my treatment has no proper basis in a clinical analysis of my condition. The clinical literature is very clear that borderline personality disorder requires more intensive and longer duration treatment than I am being offered. I would suggest that this is an illustration that the Trust is not appropriately prioritising the allocation of resources to the treatment of mental health difficulties. I would hope and expect that this is a matter of concern to Mindwise and look forward to hearing from you soon.

Thank you in advance.

Yours etc.

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Protected: Pointlessly Stupid Navel-Gazing Repetitive Nonsense – C: Week 37

Posted in C, Moods, Psychotherapy, Triggers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Thursday, 14 January, 2010 by Pandora

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Article of the Week: Week Two

Posted in Article of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, 13 January, 2010 by Pandora

The Main Course

My favourite psychiatric article this week was on schizophrenia.  Specifically, the piece from X-Ray Technican Schools (I agree that this seems a curious place to have an article on schizophrenia) provided a concise, accessible but intelligent refutation of the many myths that surround this illness.

One of my pet hates is the mistaken belief that so many seem to hold that schizophrenia is, or at least shares key symptoms with, dissociative identity disorder.  I suspect I’m preaching to the converted on a blog about mental illness, but lest there be any doubt schizophrenia does not involve multiple personalities!!!

Another mistaken and highly stigmatic belief that I despise is that mentally ill individuals (especially schizophrenics) are more dangerous and/or violent than normals.  This simply is not true, as statistics frequently demonstrate.

This article analyses these two myths, plus eight others, discussing how they’ve arisen and why they are false.  Many thanks to Wounded Genius for posting this for us to find.

10 Myths About Schizophrenia

For Afters

There were so many excellent articles upon which I stumbled this week that it’s hard to narrow them down.  Here’s the runners-up that I’ve come up with.

A close second to the above schizophrenia article is a piece in the New York Times that discusses the “Americanisation” of mental illness.  By “Americanisation”, as far as I can tell they really mean “Westernisnation” (not that that’s a word).  This is quite a long article, but its well worth sticking with.  It goes into considerable and fascinating detail as to how some mental illnesses are (or were) culturally dependant, and how they now seem to be becoming increasingly homogenised – in line with Western interpretations.

The Americaisation of Mental Illness

Jonah Lehrer at Science Blogs have a post on daydreaming, and why it isn’t necessarily such a waste of time:

Intelligence and the Idle Mind

Science Daily reports that migraines may have links to child abuse.  This could explain a lot…

Abuse in Childhood Linked to Migraine and Other Pain Disorders

Finally, I want to have a look at two articles from Psych Central that discuss transference and the therapeutic relationship, both written by Sonia Neale.  The first discusses how the therapist can never really return your transference – not in a manner in which you would know it anyway.  It discussing how what it terms ‘transference love’ is very real, given as all any of us ultimately want (allegedly) is to be loved, but will always (sadly) be one-sided.

Transference is Not Transferable

The second article explores a similar, but distinct, aspect of therapeutic relationships – that fantasy that we can or will, eventually, be friends with our psychotherapists.  Ms Neale discusses why this is a bad idea, but argues that it’s not necessarily transference but a genuine connection that drives this.

Why You Can’t Be Friends With Your Therapist – Ever!

*SI walks away, whistling innocently*

Anything Else?

Any suggestions for Article of the Week are very welcome, as are comments on those posted here.  Get in touch or leave a comment.

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Changing My Name

Posted in Context, Everyday Life, Moods with tags , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, 13 January, 2010 by Pandora

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen the other day that I had asked the Twitterverse how difficult it was to change one’s name by deed poll (it turns out that it’s actually very easy, if logistically something of a pain in the arse).

I have been thinking about changing my surname for ages – at least two years.  During that time I’ve been fairly to absolutely sure of the new name that I would adopt, and I think I have thought through all the ramifications of the whole thing properly.

Despite what many people think, there is no official or central register of name changes in the UK.  Theoretically, you can simply write a letter yourself stating your intention to use a new name, though that tends not to work much in practice when you involve banks and passport agencies and the like.  The lack of such a register means that you have to inform everyone yourself – preferably using certified copies of your deed poll – of your new name.

This includes passport agencies, driving licensing authorities, the health service (and specific services therein that you use), banks, credit and ‘store’ cards, insurance companies, utility companies, pension companies – the list goes on.  That’s not even considering your personal contacts.  It’s a profound logistical hassle.

But, for me, it is worth it.  I have long since hated the fact that I have links to my father via my name, as of course the man was a detestable piece of shit.  This was exacerbated after the whole kerfuffle over V’s will; I don’t want to share the same name as my American relatives either, after them virtually glorifying my ‘father’ and then stealing my bloody money.  I want to sever connections with that whole side of the family absolutely and completely, and this gesture is a symbolic way of doing so.

Furthermore, my surname is a completely shit one.  So much so that it was the brunt of endless verbal pestering when I was at school, which wasn’t exactly fun (not that that was what made me so inherently miserable there, but the name-calling and teasing certainly didn’t help).

I haven’t discussed changing my name with with C, although I probably should.  Perhaps this can be touched upon briefly tomorrow.  I did discuss it in some detail with Margaret, the CBT therapist I saw in 2008, and she felt that if I was prepared to go through the hassle of informing everyone, that changing my name could bring some “closure” [hate that word] on the many mental health issues I have that are attributable (at least in part) to V.  To be honest, I think that’s a very simplistic way of looking at it – changing my name is not going to change what he did to me, nor to my mother.  However, it’s one thing I can do to publicly acknowledge that I want no part in his legacy.  A token gesture, some might say, but I think it’s an important one.

I determined towards the end of last year that if I was going to do it, I was going to do it in 2010.  So yesterday (as intimated last night on Twitter) I took a deep breath, filled in the online deed poll application, and – after dithering a bit – hit ‘submit’.

The lack of a central register means that my name is not changed at all until I sign and date the deed poll (which should be with me by early next week), and in practice it remains unchanged until I send the certified copies to the aforementioned agencies and they update their systems, my cards, etc.  But I’ve taken the first step – and as I said, it’s a big step, in my view, as I have lived with this name for over 26 years.

I’m really nervous about what I am doing, but it’s a new start in a kind of symbolic way, and to that end I’m terribly excited too.

So up yours, V, and up yours, V’s family, for contributing to my being completely batshit mad.  Shortly I will have no links with you whatsoever other than my mother and genetics, and I cannot wait.

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