Reflections on 2009
Wasn’t it 1992 that the Queen said was her annus horribilis? Well, let’s fast forward 17 years to now, New Year’s Eve, 2009. This year has turned out to be the annus horribilis of your humble narrator – mostly. I’ve been on the brink of sectioning on a number of occasions, the brink of suicide on others, I’ve developed serious psychoses, I’ve been twatted by the system and I lost my job. Yet, there are a few glimmers of non-shit somewhere in there.
To that end, here, for your dubious delectation, is the good, the bad and the ugly (well, the bad and good anyway) of the last 12 months in the world of this PsychoFreakBitch…
Perhaps rather obvious, but yeah, being mental hasn’t been a great deal of fun. I know I’ve argued that if I could flick that figurative switch to the sanity setting I wouldn’t do so, and I still hold to that, but nevertheless, the panics, depressions, mixed states, psychoses and frantic states are not exactly things that I enjoy.
As you know, faithful, darling readers, I have been mental for many years – my first diagnosis was in 1998, but in reality I did have some manifestations of madness well before that juncture. However, 2009 was by far the worst year for it, as I think most of those close to me would attest. The dysphorias, the exceptional levels of anxiety and the psychoses, all having existed before, have been exacerbated so considerably during the last 12 months. I’m not sure why; maybe it is the intensity of psychotherapy, maybe it’s medication, maybe it’s simply the ‘proper’ development of BPD and/or bipolar disorder, given as they tend to manifest most strongly in one’s 20s, maybe it’s another psychiatric illness altogether. Maybe it’s nothing more than coincidence. Either way, it is.
Specific Issues on Mentalism
Tom was alright, but ‘They’ have been a hideous bloody curse. Even with the anti-psychotic, ‘They’ are almost ever-present, though their severity was mostly reduced with said medication. The worst manifestations of ‘They’ were when they tried to get me to kill myself and, worse again, when they wanted me to kill MW on Christmas Day.
Of course, the psychotic symptoms were not limited to hearing voices. The shapes continued amok throughout 2009, though in retrospect I think I can say that I maybe noticed some abatement of their severity when I started taking Olanzapine. However, I also developed new hallucinations, such as music, knocking and whimpering. And I hallucinated my erstwhile stalker once. Fuckin’ A.
Oh, and let’s not forget the delusions – A was in collusion with GCHQ, the sun and signs were watching and/or communicating with me, ‘They’ steal the thoughts from my mind, my cousin ScumFan was a drug dealer, A was not A but A’s sister, yadda yadda.
This has been pretty fucking annoying and at times highly disturbing. There have been a number of times that I have found myself in dissociative fugue states – being in random places some distance from home, having no idea how or why I got there. I need not explain the potential implications of these (admittedly relatively minor) fugues to my readership.
Of course, it does not take a fugue to make a dissociative episode. Despite my ability to write 3,000 or more words on my sessions with C, my psychotherapist, it is not infrequent for me to dissociate parts of these meetings, particularly (unsurprisingly) when we are tackling something difficult together. Several of the fugues have been in the wake of sessions with C.
I’ve also found myself in amnesiac states during or after arguments or highly stressful events, and of course I have the standard BPD features of depersonalisation and derealisation – forms of dissociation, I believe – on a frequent basis.
Although I’ve experienced depersonalisation and derealisation for years, I’ve only knowingly experienced full dissociative episodes – ie. proper periods of amnesia, losing time – in the last year. Well…maybe it began in 2008, but it would mostly have been in 2009.
However, I only remember the rape and other parts of the sexual abuse in flashbacks, for example, and in discussion with C we have found that I have many ‘symptoms’ characteristic of someone who dissociated something traumatic in childhood. The suggestion has been that, given the strength and quantity of these symptoms, there may be more than I don’t consciously remember. I hate the idea for its own sake, obviously, but I hate it even more by virtue of the fact that it is not recalled (if indeed it did happen); it leaves me with a distinct lack of control over how I now react to triggers. Perhaps that can be addressed in therapy over time (if therapy even fucking continues over time).
Is self-harm even bad? Sometimes I really do wonder. As a way to cope, it works. As a way to fascinate (by virtue of watching the beautiful krovvy), it works. As a way to seek absolution, it works (albeit temporarily).
Still, it serves as a permanent record of a very horrible year of my life, and I suppose in that way it could be considered a bad thing. It’s something that, as of this writing, I feel quite nonchalantly about, but who’s to say in 10 years or something, I won’t look at my scars and feel triggered back into mentalism from which I may have found some relief?
I’m classing this as a bad thing of this year because, prior to 2009, I hadn’t engaged in any serious self-harm for years. 2009 saw it return on a relatively frequent basis.
Losing My Job
In reality, I was nowhere near as upset about this as I should have been, but one thing I really do detest is being in the hateful position of being dependent on the state for my living. I had always dreamed of a career (not just a job) and the opportunity to use my intellect in a meaningful fashion. I did not want to end up being a dolescum, and this is still something that I am hoping to change in seeking treatment for my madness.
So I suppose that is the worst part of losing my job; I now am officially everything that I never wanted to be in my adult life. It’s also awkward from the perspective of my developing my career; having to explain a gap in employment of whatever length and an incapability dismissal will not be a lot of fun.
Trouble with the NHS
It all started with all the trouble with getting an appointment with, and then sustaining appointments with, the VCB. Then C waded into the quagmire with his ‘I can only offer you 24 more sessions’ bullshit. As you know, of course, I am fighting this.
Then there was Dr Arsehole just before Christmas (about whom I will write in the next ‘C’ installment), and the latest is that I have an appointment with Psychiatry on 20 January (more than a month after I was meant to have my most recent review appointment)…but not with VCB! No, readers, apparently I am seeing ‘Dr M’. What in the fuck..? I might not like VCB, but at least I had got to know her to some extent. But now they’re fucking me about again. Arsecunt.
It was fucking God-awful dreadful. Enough said.
Not C himself; of course I don’t know the man in any realistic way, but my sense of him is positive. OK, he does wind me up sometimes, and it is not at all unknown for him to actually anger me, but generally I am very fond of the man, regardless of whether or not that is simply a case of transference. However, psychotherapy is not a fun process. It’s not fun at all. In fact, I believe firmly that it has made me more mental than I already was.
It therefore seems ridiculous to continue with it, but there’s method in the madness…
‘Him again? You just said he was a bad thing in this year!’
Yeah, I did, but he’s also been one of the most fabulous things. Aside from my absolutely obsessive attachment to him, which I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have were I not very fond of him in a non-transferential sense, I believe the therapy is good for me, and is working. Yes, it has made me more mental, but I believe this is a temporary state.
In being forced to (re)live some of the most horrible things about my past and, to a lesser extent, my present and potential future, it seems inevitable to me that my conditions would be exacerbated. I had to get worse before I get better. That was what I expected well before I commenced therapy with C, and that is still my belief.
Additionally, and this is probably related to the transference issues, C is the only person to whom I will talk completely openly. For a long time, I would literally discuss many (not all) things with him, but it is only in the last couple of months that I really have stopped abstracting things. I’ve now let my guard down and allow myself to be vulnerable around him, and I trust him. That kind of relationship, however strangely asymmetrical, is a big achievement for me, and I think if it is allowed to continue as it should that it will pay dividends in terms of my mental health.
Some people hate them. There are a number of other mental health bloggers for whom I have the utmost respect that consider diagnoses ‘diagnonsense’. I do get where they’re coming from, but I am grateful for mine.
It helps me to be able to attribute certain symptoms to an actual illness. Now I’m not saying I use the conditions as excuses, but they do explain some erratic and bizarre behaviour, and I find that rather comforting. Furthermore, in saying I have certain illnesses, it makes my range of symptoms part of something, rather than just a nebulous bunch of ‘things’; quantifying it in this way makes it seem more real, I am convinced, to others. Just throwing the term ‘depression’ out makes it sound like a cop-out (NB. please note that this is not my view of real depression at all – I just think that some people, ignorant of mental health issues, view the word this way. They believe that “I have depression” equals “I’m depressed,”, which of course those of us who have been there know to be a fallacy).
One further positive I’d add about the diagnoses is that they have enabled me to connect with others that have the same (or similar) disorders. I will be eternally grateful for that, and for the support and kinship those individuals have given me (see more on this below).
Our holiday to Turkey back in September was probably the happiest time of this year. As I wrote at the time, I felt entirely contented throughout our stay, and indeed we enjoyed it so much that we are returning to a resort close to the one from 2009 again in May 2010. I will never forget the crystal clear waters, the warmth of the locals and the sheer relaxation of lying about in secluded coves. Whilst reading Social Factors in the Personality Disorders: A Biopsychosocial Approach to Etiology and Treatment, of course. I mean, obviously!!!
I will always be thankful that I started writing this blog, and indeed that I kept writing this blog. My initial hope was that it might help me to identify triggers, but to be honest in that regard it hasn’t been as successful as I might have liked. It has, however, given me a focus – writing is an activity that, despite the sometime difficulty of it, is something that I enjoy, and can direct my energy towards. It also serves as a chronicle of what has been an extremely difficult period in my life, but one that is also likely to be a highly formative one too, if I don’t end up offing myself. I’ve found it fascinating to rediscover diaries I kept in the past, and no doubt I shall find the same with this – though I hope that I will still be maintaining this journal well into the future.
I’ve been ever so grateful for the wonderful feedback I’ve been given on this blog too. Some people find my writing style engaging, which is a huge compliment; others find solace in the fact that they are not alone, as what I’ve written correlates with their experiences and/or feelings; yet others seem to be grateful to learn directly what everyday life, therapy or whatever with my various diagnoses is like.
On a similar note, the blog has enabled me to meet so many people with whom I have found affinity.
By far the best thing I have done this year was join Twitter (I’ve met many brilliant people through the account allied to this blog, but even more again through my ‘main’, slightly less anonymous, account). I have met so many wonderful people – both mentals and non-mentals – through this service that I could not possibly thank them all here, much as I’d like to. The support, friendship, empathy and, frankly, in some cases love that I have been shown has been a source of immeasurable help, more than the personnel concerned will ever know.
–> Thank Yous – Twitter
* Both of whom I now consider ‘real life’ friends – I have met K and communicate with her most days; I haven’t met CVM, but again communicate with her most days and certainly will meet her when finances and circumstances allow the travel. I love them both.
The above is far from an exhaustive list, but there are others that I cannot mention to protect either their or my anonymity. Some to whom I am incredibly grateful are not even aware of the fact that I write this blog. That does not mean I value them less, however.
–> Thank Yous – Blogging Buddies
Some of the above-named individuals of course keep blogs, but they are not people I met originally through this medium. The following are. Thank you to:
Again this is not an exhaustive list.
It is my honestly held belief that were it not for the aforementioned individuals – both the Twitter friends and blogging mates – I would either have killed myself or been horribly sectioned this year. So thank you to all of you listed, to many not listed, and extra special thanks to a select few – I hope you know who you are.
Of course, real life friends have been of immense value to me this year too. I haven’t been fortunate enough to see my best friend D an awful lot, but we’ve have corresponded via email and communicated via the hated telephonic device, so of course I am very grateful for his support. In spite of an acrimonious break-up of a serious relationship, not to mention other problems, D has still been there for me through all of this sorry year, and for that I am significantly in his debt.
B has also been very supportive. It’s not that we tend to go into great detail about issues of concern, but he’s just there, and that means a lot. In particular, like D, his ability to provide a metaphorical shoulder to cry on whilst dealing with significant difficulties in his own personal life is testament to his integrity and the strength of his friendship.
AC has also been great; as well as actually giving a shit and supporting me through mental illness, AC has also been there just for those ordinary, everyday things that friends do together – the theatre, lunch, whatever. I also must hat-tip DL for this too.
Honourable mentions to A’s friends and family too. Even though they’re (mostly) not conversant with the finer points of my mentalism, they nonetheless have been a source of fun and comfort.
And of course a re-acknowledgement of CVM and K 🙂
Saving the best for last. He’s seen it all, and it all ain’t pretty. Yet he is still there. Still loving, still comforting, still supporting, still protecting, still fighting the corner, still providing, still entertaining, still staying sane.
There are no words. ‘Thank you’ seems so woefully inadequate, but it is all I have. I just want to make it publically known that I will always owe a debt of gratitude to A for everything he has put up with this year.
This post might lead you to believe that there was more good than bad this year, and I suppose in the most objective of senses that may be true. This is why something like CBT will never work therapy-wise for me; it doesn’t matter how much evidence there is or is not for a belief – the belief is still held. The reasons for the belief need to be explored fully and processed. But I digress. My point: 2009 was an absolutely fucking shit year, and I will be glad to see the end of it.
But I have hope. A small glimmer thereof, but a glimmer nonetheless. Not of a miraculous cure, but of some stability maybe. With the help of C (I hope) and the love and support of my fabulous friends, both those in the physical world and those online, there might just be a path to stability somewhere down the line.
Happy New Year folks. If ‘happy’ is ambitious, then at least I wish you peace and something approaching sanity in 2010.
This entry was posted on Thursday, 31 December, 2009 at 3:30 pm and is filed under C, Everyday Life, Moods, psychiatry, Psychotherapy, Random, Random Mental Health Related Philosophising with tags 2009, anxiety, attachment, bipolar 2, bipolar 2 disorder, bipolar disorder, bipolar II, bipolar II disorder, borderline personality disorder, bpd, clinical depression, cutting, delusions, depression, dissociation, hallucinating, hallucinations, hearing voices, hypomania, insanity, madness, manic depression, mental health, mental illness, panic, panic attack, psychiatry, psychodynamic psychotherapy, psychology, psychoses, psychosis, Psychotherapy, review of the year, sadness, self harm, social anxiety, suicidal ideation, therapeutic relationship, therapy, transference, what a shit year that was. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.