Archive for anxiety

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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Vulnerability and Self-Disgust with C – Week 36

Posted in C, Moods, Psychotherapy, Triggers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Tuesday, 12 January, 2010 by Pandora

Thursday was the first day back to therapy after C’s Christmas break.  It was a successful session in a long-term sort of way, but was nevertheless very traumatic for me, tackling as it did a lot of hurt and vulnerabilities that I don’t want to face nor admit to.  There was nothing specific that was so stressful about it, but as I said to C towards the end, I felt very “battered and bruised”.

I was glad to see C again, having missed him and craved his protection over the three weeks since I last saw him.  However, he has committed a cardinal sin.  He has grown a beard.  Not like the goatee, Derren Brown-esque beard he had when we first met, but a full-on, proper beard.  I’ve nothing especially against beards, but honestly – he looks like something out of a children’s illustrated Bible.  When he came to the waiting room to get me, I was aghast to be greeted by Jesus (or Judas if you prefer, he could be either).  It took me a quite a while to stop fixating on this newly arrived hirsute feature.

As has been the case since C has been back in VCB’s stomping ground (as there is building work going on in his office), we opened by taking a few moments to compose ourselves.  The waiting room in the place is usually full of people, unlike that for C’s proper office which is always empty.  The people unsettle me, and C has realised now that he has to give me a few minutes for this anthropophobic anxiety to abate somewhat.

Of course, I had C anxiety as well.  I always feel nervous before I see him, and it was especially strong on Thursday given that I had not seen him for three weeks.  To that end, initially I was stubbornly refusing to speak in anything other than one word answers to questions.

Eventually, he asked me how Christmas had been.

“I’m not going to discuss that,” I brattishly declared.  I knew, of course, that he would follow that up with a question as to why I was not going to discuss that, so before he got the chance to do so, I changed the subject and told him about the latest troubles with the health service.

The first thing was the whole bullshit about the GP talking down to me, just after I’d last seen C.  I told him all about it, going so far as to re-enact some of the mannerisms that Dr Arsehole had employed during his irritable rant towards me.  This was before the reply to my complaint had arrived.

“How dare someone earning as much as a GP does behave in that fashion?” I raged.  “How dare the jumped-up twat speak to me like that?”

“How were you in the room with him?” asked C.

“Pathetic,” I admitted.  “I just sat there and took it.  I did try to argue with him at one point, but he just kept on and on, and I backed down.  As I was leaving, I even thanked him!  A reckons I need to discuss my remarkable ability to be so horribly passive with you.”

The second NHS issue, which I’ve only mentioned in passing here, is that apparently VCB is no longer my consultant psychiatrist.  When I last saw her in November, she said she’d see me again in a month, which she didn’t (surprise surprise).  Then, when I finally did get a letter inviting me for an appointment with Psychiatry, it merely said that I had an appointment on 20 January with Dr M, not VCB.  It made no reference as to the change of individual whatsoever.

C said, “as far as I know there’s been a shake-up in Psychiatry in terms of geographical location.  They’ve changed the boundaries that each consultant operates in.  Is that what happened?”

“No one told me anything, so I wouldn’t know,” I spat, disgusted.

“I’m not going to lie to you,” I continued, “I’m not VCB’s biggest fan.  But at least I had some sort of relationship with her – I knew her, and she was at least in some ways familiar with my case, so this is incredibly frustrating.  It strikes me that Psychiatry is possibly the worst branch of medicine in which such nonchalance and disruption should be in evidence, what with issues of trust and attachment being so much a part of certain illnesses.

“But what do I know,” I added bitterly.  “I’m just the mental that sits opposite you people.”

“Is that how you see yourself?” C jumped in.

The truthful answer to this is that I don’t know.  The comment had been intended as a slight on the Psychiatric “service” and indeed on mental health services on the NHS in general, but of course I exist in a perpetual state of self-loathing and self-disgust, whether im- or explicit, so yes, it probably is – to some extent – how I see myself.

I told him so, adding that I have no right to be mental because what has happened to me is so considerably less serious than that to which many others have been subjected.  This came up a couple of times in the session – basically I feel guilty for being a mental when other people who’ve endured worse aren’t or, if they are, then they have more right to be than I.

C mulled it over for a minute or two, then said, “one thing about you is that you’re defined by contradictions.  You mentioned earlier about being passive – there is that side, yet there’s another side that can be extremely assertive in the right circumstances.  It’s the same with your belief that you are somehow not entitled to be a mentalist [interesting use of that word, I thought].  You hate yourself for being this way, you think you have no right – yet you will fight to the death to get the treatment to which you feel you are entitled.”

“It’s hardly rocket science, though,” I responded.  “In some ways, whether or not I’m entitled to be mad is irrelevant; the fact is, I am.  Regardless of the reasons for that, I should be entitled to treatment, under the foundations on which this health service was based.  If I kicked that wall over there and broke my toe, the stupid manner in which I broke my toe would be irrelvant to those treating me; I would still be entitled to their medical attention.  I don’t see why it should be different for one’s mental health.”

“It shouldn’t,” he agreed.

Oh really?  OK then, why are you cutting short my fucking therapy?  Not that I brought up that issue specifically, because I didn’t want to engage in the pointless navel-gazing that had been the previous session.  If our time is limited, it must be used effectively.

Anyhow, I don’t remember how he phrased it, but basically he said that a person’s history and indeed how they respond to it is completely relative.  He said that we can only develop from our own experiences and, essentially, that I really shouldn’t beat myself up for being mental.  Later on in the session, he almost went so far as to say that I have every right to be, but I’ll come to that later.

Of course, I can rationally accept a lot of this, and indeed I know that certain mental illnesses with which I have been diagnosed are thought to exist in individuals who are biologically predisposed to having them, the symptoms manifesting after some sort of psychosocial trigger.  So of course I am not to be blamed for being mental…says Rational Me.  In-Control-Irrational-and-Ironically-Mental Me does not agree.

We also discussed how the anger I feel is sometimes misplaced.  I contend absolutely that my anger towards the health service is completely just, so that’s not one such example, but I will fly into a genuinely murderous rage at either myself or, say, my mother (particularly my mother) for something ridiculously stupid like dropping a pen – yet I am not angry at my uncle.  I am angry at my father, but that miserable sod had the audacity to die, so I’m hardly likely to be able to direct that towards him.

Of course, mention of my uncle in the context of anger was A Very Bad Move.  C said, “so, are you going to tell me what happened at Christmas?”

I glared at him.  “Did I not already say that I don’t want to talk about that?” I sneered, eventually.

“You did, yes.”  He looked at me enigmatically.

Oh, but you can read my mind, can’t you C?  Saying that I didn’t want to talk about it is some sort of conspiratorial Newspeak for, “I want to discuss that with you in intimate and excruciating detail”, isn’t it?!

“You don’t want to tell me about your Christmas, do you?  No – you don’t.  So why should I tell you about mine?” I challenged.

It was meant mainly as a sarcastic and rhetorical question, but he answered anyway.  “If we met in other circumstances, that’s probably exactly the conversation we’d be having,” he mused.  “But I know that you know that this circumstance has to be one-sided.”

As it happens, I do know, thanks very much – and I don’t like it and it isn’t fair.  And yet it protects me from the probable sheer ordinariness of this man that I so pathetically look up to.  But that’s another matter.  I told him, truthfully, that if we met socially, I would still not be telling him the specifics of what happened at Christmas.

Actually, if I’m 100% honest, of course I wanted to discuss it with him (in his capacity as my psychotherapist) – aspects of it anyway.  I was horribly mortified (as well as disturbed) by what ‘They’ wanted me to do on Christmas Night, and didn’t especially want to outline that in specific terms, but I did want to tell him of the fear and anguish that took me to that point.  Yet I felt absolutely unable to give myself permission to do so.

We sat in silence for a bit.  I knew he would break me sooner or later, but I decided to fight him anyway.  I was thinking about the psychoses, which led me to question how I had described them here on WordPress.  In doing so, I was reminded that I won an award for this blog on New Year’s Day from the fabulous Mental Nurse blog.

“My blog won an award,” I randomly blurted out at him, with thinly-disguised pride.

C seemed quite excited by this news and congratulated me, then paused.  “I really want to ask you more about this,” he began, “But I’m wondering if we shouldn’t leave it until later – I don’t want to avoid the issue of Christmas.”

I wanted to avoid the issue of Christmas.  It’s my fucking therapy, can’t I talk about what I like?

But I gave up the fight, and gave the man what he wanted.  “There were issues with the voices,” I admitted finally, tapping my head (as if he didn’t know what voices I damn well meant).

“OK,” he started.  “What sort of ‘issues’?”

“No, no, no, we’re not going down that road.  It’s enough that you know that the day was stressful and I went doolally in the evening, though mercifully not in front of the 3,820,691 people with whom I was forced to spend the whole sorry day.”

“But how could it not have been traumatic?” C asked.  “I really fail to see how it could not have been, what with you having to see and interact with your uncle.”

“You’ve built it to be all about him,” I replied.  “It’s not – not entirely.  To say my family is a freakshow is to insult freakshows.  I just cannot put into words how fucked up and weird they all are, and how much I have nothing in common with them.”

“I remember you saying before that their ‘weirdness’ was difficult to convey, but I do have some sense of that.”

“They’re worse in a collective,” I continued.  “As individuals – well, I can’t pretend I’m their biggest fans, but they’re more tolerable.  But their group dynamic is seriously – epically [not that that’s a word] – bizarre.”

Moving away from this slightly, C went back to the voices.  I told him that I had already said I was not going into that and requested that he left it be.

“I’m not really so concerned about what they actually said,” he told me.  “At present I’m more interested in why you don’t want to tell me about it.”

I should have been expecting such a question, but I hadn’t been.  I thought about it for a moment.

“I’m very aware that we’re sitting in Psychiatric Outpatients and that the bin’s over there,” I said, leaving him to infer the rest.  “I can’t get away quickly here.  At least in your normal office I have time to flee before you all catch me.”

I got the usual spiel of crap about how he would only call a psychiatrist or my GP if I was at a serious and imminent risk of harming myself.  Or others, he added, almost as an afterthought.  I laughed bitterly.

I don’t remember the exact discussion that followed, but he seemed to have established that on Christmas Night it was ‘others’ that ‘They’ were trying to get me to hurt.  He never said it straight out, and I never confirmed it, but there seemed to be a shared, implicit understanding that this was what had occurred.  He sought to reassure me in as strong terms as he’s allowed to that he would not call anyone to have me sectioned unless he thought that such harm was absolutely imminent.

“I don’t believe you,” I told him.

Ouch.  I think that one cut him a little (no pun intended, not that I’ve been too bad vis-a-vis self-harm of late).  He asked why I doubted him.

In part, it is because I feel that some of the trust has been broken between us, owing to the whole uncertainty over the continuation of treatment – though in fairness, he was good in this session and I feel it might have been built up a little again.  Other reasons are just how terrible the episode was – I mean, I was told to kill a fucking not-quite-two year old, how much worse does it get? – and the fact that I’m preposterously paranoid.  Probably the simplest reason is that I often genuinely feel that I should be fucking sectioned, though I really, really don’t want to be.

In any case, I do believe that C wouldn’t section me unless he felt it absolutely imperative, yet I don’t believe it at the same time.  I believe two absolutely polar opposite things simultaneously – not an unknown state for me.  I told him so, and he seemed to understand that.

For some reason, presumably relating to all the discussion about Paedo and the multitudinous weirdness of the McF dynasty, C and I ended up discussing how my mother didn’t believe me about the sexual abuse, and about how she seems to go out of her way sometimes to put me down, or to compare me (negatively) to others (particularly SL, who she seems to fucking idolise).

C said, “it seems to me that your mother has been severely traumatised by her relationship with your father.”  Now, I genuinely don’t recall what he said next, but I think it was something along the lines that she therefore seeks solace in the McFs and, despite what she may say, finds it hard to believe that they are capable of fault – even when it’s rape of her daughter.  I don’t want to put words in C’s mouth, though, so don’t take that as gospel.  Of course, whilst I cannot disagree with the aforesaid conjecture, my own take on things is that she will always remember that I am my father’s daughter (she will even say it from time to time when she wants to hurt me).  In any case, I am certainly not the daughter that she would have wanted.

I agree with C that she is completely traumatised (not that she’d admit it herself), but was surprised by him coming out and telling me that was his view in such forthright terms.  In any event, this tangent didn’t especially add much to the session, except to exacerbate the rawness of the hurt I was already feeling.

So that was his next tactic – the perennial, “how are you feeling?”

I couldn’t verbalise it at first.  I just felt so something, so indefinably sad and upset and low.  He quietly encouraged me to try harder to express it more exactly.

Eventually, through gritted teeth, I seethed, “I feel hurt and sorry for myself and vulnerable, are you happy now?”

Unfortunately he thought this comment was sarcastic, intended as a snide take on what he wanted to hear.  Admittedly, the manner in which I had said it could easily have been taken that way, though it was meant to have come across as a dramatic, “there!  I’m finally admitting the truth!  I’m deflated but this is progress, isn’t that fantabulous?” kind of gesture (fail!).  I apologised, and advised him that the content of my comment was serious.

Yes, I admitted to being vulnerable.  What I didn’t admit, of course, is that I want C to protect me from all that which makes me vulnerable.  I want him to put his arms around me, stroke my hair, tell me in his gentle voice I will be OK, and protect me from all the bad that exists in the world.  Of course I didn’t tell him that, but admitting to this hideous vulnerability that I’ve been repressing for I don’t-know-how-long was a start.

“Unwillingness to feel or express feeling of these things is very common in people who’ve been brought up in abusive and traumatic backgrounds,” he told he, tilting his head to gauge my reaction.

“‘Abused’,” I repeated wistfully, looking away.  The branches of the trees outside were blowing back and forth in the wind, stripped bare of their leaves.  I felt as emotionally naked in front of C as they looked.

“You don’t think you’ve been abused?” he checked, apparently confused.

“No,” I replied quietly.

“You were sexually abused by your uncle!” C said, determinedly.

“And I responded to that and other things by dissociating and emotionally numbing myself.  Fat lot of good it’s done me.”

“It probably did at the time, though.  It was a means of self-preservation during those times.”

There was a pause, then I randomly spat out, “I disgust myself.  My vulnerability disgusts me.  I disgust me.  Fucking schizo bitch!”

“You’re one of the most self-critical people I’ve ever known,” C told me, taking a very slight tone of authority.  “My worry is that this is a major stumbling block.  I really think if we can develop some self-compassion in you, it will help a lot.”

“You said a moment ago that dissociation etc was a means of self-preservation.  It ties in with the psychology discussed in a book I’ve been reading.  It is, shock horror, a self-help book, one designed to teach you strategies to soothe yourself when you go mental.”

C was delighted by this.  He asked me if it was any good, my response being that a lot of it (as with any such text) was “wank”, but that despite this, there were some good, and vaguely intelligently written, parts to it.

The thing is, I’m not always as critical of myself as I seem to be in psychotherapy.  I can only surmise that that is when the truth really comes out.  The raw, visceral nature of everything that’s gone or is wrong with my life is so palpable and explicit in those 50 minutes, and the true depth of my self-hate is exposed.  Eugh.

He went on to say that it was not desirable to rid me of my “sarcasm and [my] wit” (he said I was witty!!!  Smiley me!), but that he thought aspects of that fed into my lack of self-compassion, and that we needed to strike a balance.

“And I’m encouraged by the fact that you’re trying,” he concluded.

I left feeling psychologically battered and bruised, even so much as allowing myself a tear as I drove home (how self-compassionate), but I was also quietly encouraged and reassured.

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Flogging a Dead Horse with C – Week 35

Posted in C, Everyday Life, Psychotherapy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, 6 January, 2010 by Pandora

Christmas and the arrival of 2010 have seen some disruption to your usual service from SI. It seemed impossible to get a chance to write on the latest C session, given as these post seem to be the most ridiculously detailed.

This post shouldn’t be overly detailed, as a lot of it was repetitive bullshit regarding the annoyances of the previous week. Nevertheless, here we go.

Upon leaving C’s company the previous week, we had agreed that we would use week 35, the last week before a break of three weeks owing to Christmas, as a session to discuss how I would manage the so-called festive season.  In reality, that bit ended up taking approximately five minutes at the end, and although it was ever so slightly more helpful than some of the nonsense he’s come off with at other breaks (“breathe!”), it was still not entirely helpful.  But then again, he’s not my guardian, is he?  Much as I would like it that way.

I say we were flogging a dead horse because the majority of the discussion centred around the same crap we had discussed over the previous week (leave a comment or get in touch if you need the password) and the week before that, ie. my anger and distress about his decision to cut short my treatment, and my general disgust about the NHS’s abject failure to adequately treat me since I first sought help for my mental health problems.  I do understand that in some ways maybe C sees exploring my reactions to this as a form of projection or transference, and maybe in some ways it is: perhaps I feel so rejected and aggrieved because that’s how I was meant to feel about my father, uncle, ex, etc etc.

However, it endlessly frustrates me that I cannot just simply be angry because I have been so horribly fucked about by the health service.  Again, in this session, C reiterated that the 24 week limit (starting from tomorrow) was his decision; he said he was “not a robot” controlled by the NHS.

It completely contradicts all the stuff he says about my right to be annoyed and about how BPD should really be treated, and we went round and round in circles on how I could not reconcile his two contrasting views, and about how he either couldn’t or wouldn’t explain it properly.

I also, having decided as a result of the preceding week that he hated me, went to find out whether or not this was indeed the case.

I said, “if I ask you a question, will you promise not to answer with a question?”

He shifted uncomfortably, then admitted that he was unsure as to whether or not this was achievable.

I asked him anyway, on the proviso that if I thought he was “blagging” his way through his answer I would pull him up on it.

He did come off with the form bullshit such as, “why is it important for you to know that?” and whatnot, but I was pleased when he finally admitted that he too had found the preceding week “frustrating”.  So he is a human after all!

He said that I had been “very angry” with him, which I thought was unfair.  I told him that I genuinely hadn’t been angry with him, merely the system, until he confessed to having been the one that decided on the time limit.

“But you were angry with me then,” he pointed out.

“Yes,” I said.  “You had seemed so supportive of me prior to that; you agreed that my situation was wholly unfair.  Then you completely contradicted that by admitting to this arbitrary limit crap.”

And so back we went to flagellating that deceased equine.  More questioning demands from me, more bullet-dodging from him, no progress from either of us.

He had asked me in week 34 to seriously consider whether or not to continue with therapy, as I “had” to agree to the time limit as part of the contract (which strikes me as being quite unreasonable, as contracts are meant to be negotiated rather than forced in this type of setting).  Apparently if I don’t accept the limit, I cannot continue treatment.

“On that note,” I told him, “I am prepared to accept it, but only if you accept – because this works both ways – that I am going to fight it.”

He asked what I meant by ‘fighting’ it, prompting me to withdraw a copy of the letter to the advocacy groups out of my pocket.

“It’s only fair that you read that, given that you’re going to be involved,” I told him, handing the document over.  He took it and began reading.

I sat there and watched him reading it for a minute or two, then stood up and walked to the window, knowing perfectly well that he would almost certainly comment on this, as he had done two weeks previously.  Indeed, he didn’t disappoint.

“I’m wondering why you got up, SI…” he pondered, as he continued reading the letter.

“It’s not reflective of anything,” I spat cynically.  “I’m not denying my hurt or failing to face up to my problems.  I’m simply looking out the window whilst you are occupied with reading that.  Am I not allowed to get up, C?”

He shrugged and muttered something along the lines of that I was, in fact, allowed to get up, then continued reading in silence.

He eventually looked up and said, encouragingly, “it’s a good letter.  Who all are you going to send it to?”

I told him about the advocacy groups, Mindwise and the NI Association for Mental Health.

I was astonished – and delighted – when he then proceeded to actively encourage me to also send it to both the Chief Executive of my Trust, and the head of the mental health directorate of same.  In the end, he forgot to give me the person’s name, but as it turns out it’s been passed to him anyway (more details on how the letter has progressed in a future post).

C said, “you’ve also made reference there to people I think are in England – perhaps it would also be worth adding information about provision for personality disorders in other Northern Ireland Trusts.”

I asked him what such provision existed, knowing that people with the most serious PDs are in fact sent to specialist units in England as there are no facilities to treat them here at all.

C said a self-harm team exists in one of the other Trusts here.  “Although not everyone who self-harms has BPD, and not everyone with BPD self-harms, they would probably see a disproportionately high rate of people with your diagnosis,” he said.  “No such team exists in this Trust at the minute.  There’s discussion ongoing about making the existing team a regional, cross-Trust one, but it hasn’t yet come to anything.”

He talked on for a few minutes about plans our Trust has for action on personality disorders, and how they don’t seem to much be coming to fruition.  But the best part of the session was when he asked me if he could have a copy of the letter.

“I think it would be good for my line managers to know how you feel about all this,” he said.  He went on to say something (I don’t recall what) indicating that there might be some benefit to me in this, but was very quick to point out that it was my choice as to whether or not he did take a copy for them.  I readily agreed, of course, delighting in his apparent desire to act as my advocate to the bureaucrats above him.

Now, of course, I am convinced that he took the letter so he and his twatfaced bosses of evil can formulate some plan of self-defence in advance of hearing from the advocacy groups.  It was not in my interest at all – merely their own.  No doubt over the next few weeks we’ll see which way it actually is.

Eventually – I don’t remember how – I said that he must get sick of his job, what with all the whinging he would have to listen to.  “I accused you of being a sadist a few weeks back,” I said.  “Now I think you’re a mashochist.”

He accused me (sympathetically, to be fair to him) of splitting, which on reflection makes me slightly irritated, but at the time I agreed and called myself all the names of the day for employing this “silly psychological process.”

C leapt to my defence.  He said he knew that I had long since known I was guilty of splitting, but that it’s now “emotional for [me]”, not just something I recognise intellectually.  And it is OK, I do not need to berate myself for it, because I have suffered serious traumas, apparently, that have caused this defence mechanism (which is not silly, he contends) to develop.

On that note, as I recall it anyhow, we moved on to the discussion about the dreaded Christmas.

C’s advice was basically to get the fuck out if I felt anxious or overwhelmed.  I said that was easy to say, but he didn’t have to listen to my mother’s wrath if I did so.

He advised me to talk to her in advance, but I protested against this as well.  “When I told her about what happened with my uncle, she said I made it up to avoid going to his house,” I reminded C.  “So how can I justify my anxiety?”

“Blame your crowd phobia,” C said.  “She can’t be critical of that, can she?  There will be a crowd there, won’t there?

“Yes,” I replied.  “And they’re all part of the problem – it’s not all about my history with my uncle.  I have nothing in common with them and it’s a weird matriarchal set-up, where about 18 different generations all live under the same roof.  They’re freaks.”

He said, “are there children living there?”

I was horrified.  He was obviously wondering if anyone else is presently at risk from Paedo.

“Now you’re angry with me for putting the baby and all the other generations in danger.  I’m sorry,” I raced, in a bizarre panic.

C looked at me, his eyes wide-open.  “Where did that come from?” he enquired, surprised.

“Oh, you’re not angry with me?  Then I’m using you as a board for my anger at myself, am I?”

“OK, you’ve lost me,” he admitted.  “Just…just remember – get out.  Talk to your mother in advance, blame your crowd phobia if you have to, but if you feel yourself becoming tense, get out of there, even if only for a few minutes.  Allow yourself to be anxious about this.  How could you not be?”

And that, folks, was really that.  Of course, you know how ridiculously awful Christmas turned out to be, but I did remove myself from the others when I went so horribly mental, so I suppose I did at least follow the advice given.

As I was leaving, I wished him a Merry Christmas.  He said, admittedly cautiously, “you too,” causing me to laugh bitterly.  I think he knew that it was inevitable that the season would be utterly shite.

So, the three week gap is due to be over tomorrow.  Of course, I am convinced that C is dead again; either that or therapy will be cancelled due to the stupid, horrible, pointless fucking snow, and I need him so desperately at the minute.  Though I have not heard anything about a cancellation today, and I suppose I would have expected an advanced notification were the snow to fuck everything up on the monumental scale that it has in Britain.

The last time he was on holiday, in August, I didn’t miss him that much.  But this time I have, and I need him to help me pick up the pieces of the last few weeks.

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Reflections on 2009

Posted in C, Everyday Life, Moods, psychiatry, Psychotherapy, Random, Random Mental Health Related Philosophising with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Thursday, 31 December, 2009 by Pandora

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…

THE BAD

Being Mental

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

–> Psychoses

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.

–> Dissociation

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).

–>  Self-Harm

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.

Christmas

It was fucking God-awful dreadful.  Enough said.

C

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…

THE GOOD

C

‘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.

Diagnoses

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).

Turkey

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!!!

This Blog

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.

Twitter

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

CVM*
K*
@bourach
@woundedgenius / @behindthecouch
@notbovvered
@fromthesamesky
@error505
@an_other
@kimshannon
@helentaustin
@benpolar

* 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:

Alix Rites
Crazy Mermaid
Borderline Case
The Prozac Queen
Pumpkin
Vanessa
NiroZ (no longer blogging, alas)

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.

Friends

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 🙂

A

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.

AND FINALLY…

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.

Yours ever

SI x

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Christmas…Revisited

Posted in Context, Everyday Life, Moods, Triggers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, 30 December, 2009 by Pandora

I feel I should say a few more words in addition to the last post.  Firstly, thank you all for your concern – to those that commented here, contacted me through Twitter or indeed those that contacted me directly.  I am OK, and all the better for your concern, for which I am extremely grateful.

Despite what I said on Boxing Night, I don’t think a hospital admission is necessary or desirable just at the minute (well, not that it would ever be desirable, but you know what I mean).  It is my belief that the delusions and the severity of the hallucinations the previous day were induced by severe stress, and are hopefully ‘just’ transient.  ‘They’ are usually there these days, even to the extent where they are stealing my thoughts (schizophrenic-esque thought-blocking?) but fortunately their desire to cause harm in the same way as the day they first arrived has not been present since I’ve been taking Olanzapine.

I was discussing with C at the last session (which I have yet to blog about – hopefully by early next week) about how I hadn’t been (consciously) bothered about my history with Paedo until fairly recently.  As this was towards the end of the session, we didn’t have time to explore the possible reasons for that, but no doubt it was lying in my unconscious, unprocessed, the whole time, subtly and insidiously contributing to my chronic depression and severe breakdowns.

Anyway, for whatever reason, it bothers me now, and the feeling of horror and dread about it and about him was very acute on Christmas Day.  The McFs were going out for Christmas Dinner (good, because it meant slightly less claustrophobia), but it started out badly when it was decided (after an unnecessarily protracted debate) that A and I would travel to the restaurant alone with Paedo and MMcF.  It was an utterly vile 20 minutes trying to make smalltalk with the two of them and when MMcF surreptitiously handed me £10 to buy A and myself a drink, she said, “I hope you have a very happy Christmas,” causing me to laugh incredulously in her face.

By the time we arrived at the restaurant I was highly agitated, and upon sitting down (trying and failing to not be close to Paedo) downed two Valium.  It was not just him.  It really was not just him.  There were about 16 or 17 people around the table, and I just cannot tolerate that.  Groups make me endlessly nervous, especially when they are all talking loudly and demandingly at once, and especially when (despite knowing them all my life) I am deeply nervous around and have nothing in common whatsoever with the personnel concerned.  My history with Paedo just exacerbated something that would have already been there.

The Valium helped, and I relaxed a bit, but it was still bloody awful.  The meal was nice enough, but I threw half of it up and my IBS was out of control.  A and I forced our way through it, but the worst was yet to come.  Rather than go back to MMcF’s house after dinner, it had been decided to go to SL’s.  I have nothing against SL and her husband, but for some reason the dynamic in their house is always different from elsewhere; everyone congregates in the same room on top of each other, whereas back at MMcF’s, at least people break into factions, making the group more manageable.

SL’s was tortuous.  The overbearing crowd, the inanity of the stilted conversation, the obsessive fixation with MW (whose nose will be put out of joint when his sibling is born in March), my mind recalling my history with Paedo and my Mum’s disbelief when I told her about it – it all got on top of me, and indeed of poor A.

‘They’ had been telling me all day what a horrid, fetid slag I am, but I’ve learnt to…not ignore them, and not push them to the back of my head, because that’s where they reside anyway.  I don’t know; I’ve learnt how to not respond to them, I suppose, when they are wittering on like this, which is a lot of the time.  However, it’s pretty much not possible to fight them when they turn into the all-powerful screaming cacophony that they were the first day I encountered them.

Well, didn’t they start it again, just as we had managed to escape the worst bit of sitting about in the living room, joining as we did ScumFan and DMcF, who were playing the X-Box in the kitchen.  ‘They’ started screaming at me that I was evil for keeping my mouth shut about the rape and the molestation, that I had put all the other generations at risk and that it would therefore be a mercy for me to “eliminate” MW, given that he could expect “nothing but” the same fate from his great-grandfather.  I tried to ignore them, really I tried, but the more I fought them, the more and more effort they put into their critical wailing.  I was ordered to go to where MW was sleeping and smother him.

Of course, the last thing in the world I want to do is kill someone, especially not an innocent kid, so by this point I was hiding behind A and covering my ears and muttering a poem (as well as some ‘shut ups’) in order to try and distract myself.  The next thing I remember was being in the utility room in tears banging my head against the washing machine (!).  I tried to get past A, who was standing their blocking my exit, but he wouldn’t let me past for fear that ‘They’ might have successfully compelled me to go to MW’s room.  I think I slid down the wall in defeated resignation then; I was convinced ‘They’ had finally taken complete control of my mind.  The fight was over.

Well, luckily ‘They’ hadn’t managed to take control, and the fight wasn’t over.  I honestly don’t recall how this all finished, but the next thing of which I do have a clear recollection was having a discussion about something or other with SL, MW’s mother, in a calm, almost seemingly jolly fashion.  Yet all the time I was thinking, “the voices in my head just now wanted me to murder your baby son, you know.”  Thank God people generally can’t read my mind.

When A and I went to bed, and I don’t remember saying any of this, apparently I was convinced that A was not A but in fact his sister.  I also apparently believed that ScumFan – surely the most innocent and naive of young men – was involved in a serious way with drugs.  Needless to say, these ridiculous delusions disturbed A considerably.  And then, thanks to Zopiclone…nothing.

Boxing Day was better than Christmas Day, but still awful.  In the morning, I completely defied ‘They’ by playing with MW as I normally would (obviously in others’ company).  ‘They’ mumbled and whined a little like they usually do, but mercifully it was nothing with which I could not deal, and at no point did they try to persuade me to harm the baby.  Shortly after midday, A and I headed off to his father’s house.

Normally, it’s just A, his father, step-mother and me for Boxing Day, but on this occasion his aunt and her husband turned up.  I just wanted to sit and vegetate, as is the norm on our visits to A’s Dad’s, but the aunt would not shut up for more than three seconds.  Nice enough woman, but she began to grate on me not just through her constant demands for conversation, but also as she made underhand insults directed at A, inferring (and not at all subtly) that he was less intelligent than her children (which is not true, but since they have degrees from Oxford she feels that it is so, apparently).  A told me later that she had been intensely jealous of his parents when it was realised that he was a smart kid, and she always wanted to better them.  What a poor, sad cow.  How pathetic and meaningless must one’s life be to be so utterly fixated on bringing up intelligent children simply to compete with others?

One thing I’ll say in her defence was that despite her laughable level of inebriation she didn’t at any point attempt to embarrass me by quizzing me on the reasons for my present lack of employment, presumably having been warned in advance by A’s step-mother not to do so.  It’s not that I’m ashamed of being mental, but it’s hard to convince people of the sincerity of the conditions sometimes, especially (I’d imagine) when they’re as plastered as she was.

Eventually A and I escaped to his mother and step-father’s house, which is always fairly relaxed.  Upon getting in, knowing I wouldn’t have to drive again, I opened a bottle of red and downed it in literally about five minutes.

And now it is over.  It is over.  There surely is a God!  We are keeping out of everyone’s way on New Year’s Eve, having booked into a hotel for the night.  We’re not attending any function – we’re just going to sit in either a quiet corner of the bar, or in our room with a bottle of wine.  Alone.  All a-fucking-amazingly-lone.  Then, on Sunday 3 January, we’re going to another hotel, this time for two nights, thus using a Christmas present from A’s mother.  Both hotels are fairly plush, with pools, nice restaurants and bars, beautiful settings and privacy.  AI hope these will prove just what is needed as a tonic to the horrors of the past week.

I had strongly considered killing myself on Boxing Morning, but I need to remain alive for the duration of these sojourns, as I hope they will serve to relax me and hopefully mentally prepare me in some small way for the year ahead.

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Countdown to Abandonment – C: Week 33

Posted in C, Moods, Psychotherapy, Triggers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, 9 December, 2009 by Pandora

Those that follow the Twitter stream that I have allied with this blog will know that I did not intend to write a blog today (LATER: yesterday). I was feeling a bit low after CVM called me this morning to report that her father had sadly died early this morning (LATER: well – technically now yesterday morning). However, sitting here brooding won’t do either her nor me any good, so I decided to go ahead and write it anyway.

CVM is very much in my thoughts and I wish I could do something to ease the pain of her and her family. I am publicly sending my sincere condolences here. ❤ xxx

I know that I have an annoying tendency to open these posts on C with, "today was weird," or some such. Well, Thursday really was strange. It was totally bizarre. C was evidently puzzled by certain directions it took, and when I told him at the end that it had been “weird,” he actually responded by saying that it had, indeed, been “different” (for what it’s worth I feel reassured rather than invalidated by this).

I’m not sure if the written word can adequately convey the oddness of the session, because although it can look disjointed, it would take a better writer than I to convey the sudden and sharp shifts in mood, the nuances of the spoken tones, the randomness and subtlety of the non-verbal communication that took place. Nevertheless, as ever, I shall try.

It was very much a meeting of three parts. During the first – I dunno? – maybe 10 or 15 minutes I sat there petulantly, stubbornly avoiding his gaze and giving one word answers (at best) to any questions he posed. For once he had the decency to open proceedings, and not piss about waiting for me to do so. He said he was aware that part of me was attached to “here” (this annoyed me, though I did not say anything to him – I am not attached to his fucking office for Christ’s sake, I am attached to him!) and that I was concerned about the cessation of therapy. Wow, insightful. I’m absolutely profoundly impressed, Dr fucking Freud-Einstein-Mary Poppins.

I’m ranting about him now for stating the obvious, but I also got really pissed off when he strode into the territory of conjecture. He said he was also aware that I was unhappy that I only had 50 minutes of his time each week and that I was annoyed that I couldn’t just turn up or phone him or whatever outside that time.

This sent me into a rage. At no point have I ever said such a thing. Struggling to control my anger, I snarled that his comment was unfair, and that he was putting words in my mouth. I asked him to exemplify exactly when I had made these assertions to him.

He admitted that I hadn’t, and moved on, but I think I now realise where he got this from. Some months ago – I can’t find the relevant post offhand, sorry – I had asked him who I was meant to contact in an urgent situation (because if my life depends on it I still want to avoid the fucking Crisis Team). Could I have a CPN, a social worker – anyone at the two CMHTs based at C’s hospital? I don’t remember his answer but it was some nonsense about ringing Lifeline or the Samaritans. Yeah, thanks C. So he had obviously read this request – a reasonable one, in my view, given that CMHTs are meant to be multi-disciplinary and he is only one tiny part of them – as a demand for his attention outside of our sessions. This was profoundly irritating. If he had failed to understand my question, then he should have asked for fucking clarification.

Anyway. To follow on from the uncertainty of the last couple of weeks, he brought up the matter of how long he can continue to act as my psychotherapist. Apparently, he can offer 10 week blocks, with four weeks at the end to deal with the closing of the relationship. Fair enough? Well, no, not really; he can only offer me two of these blocks – ie. 24 further weeks (beginning on Thursday 10 December) in total. Now, that will amount to something like 57 total sessions (including the three assessment sessions at the beginning and the four ‘leaving’ sessions at the end) which ostensibly sounds fair enough. Unfortunately for me, BPD is well known to take a very minimum of a year to treat properly, and usually three or four.

I didn’t tell him this as, in the past, every time I’ve made reference to my diagnoses he’s come off with (or at least inferred) some crap about fixating on labels. Heard it all before, C. So instead I asked what I was supposed to do if things weren’t adequately improved by that point.

He said, “I would expect you to have made progress by then – I feel you have made progress.”

Great – I’m so glad one of us does. Most reassuring. I pressed on. “But what if I haven’t?”

He said something suggesting that I shouldn’t be expecting cures from psychotherapy, at which point I interrupted him by telling him I didn’t even believe in cures and, in fact, didn’t especially want them. My question, I insisted, was in the context of alleviating the worst of the psychological pain and providing me with coping mechanisms and greater understanding that I could take onward in life. What if that had not been achieved within his stated timeframe?

I honestly don’t recall his answer, but there was a strong inference in whatever it was that if we were unable to progress by then that there was effectively nothing he could do for me (an assertion with which I do not agree, but what do I know – I’m just the stupid mental that sits opposite him).

No arguing with that, then. That’ll be it. The end. Finito. Fuck you, SI. In response, I just sat there looking at the ground for a while. It’s difficult to articulate how I was feeling. It was a veritable cocktail of fear, dread, hurt, anger, bitterness and depression. I fought, ironically using the breathing exercises that C had so fervently espoused, against tears and rants. I fought them because I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of knowing that this abject rejection completely fucking cut me to the core. But he knew. Of course he did.

After a minute or two, he proceeded with that usual question of ultimate annoyance, “how do you feel about that?”

One thing I’ll say in his defence was that at least he was completely straight for once. Often he dodges and dives from material that he doesn’t really want to bring up with me for fear of setting me off (or such is my supposition for why he avoids it), but on this occasion he was upfront and honest, and through my anger and hurt, I felt appreciation for that. I told him so.

He told me to think about this over the next week (“but not so much that you end up ruminating on it” – as if that wouldn’t happen!) and bring all of my thoughts and feelings on the matter to him in the next session. He said, “you’ll probably feel anger, frustration…”

Once again, I got really mad at him for putting words in my mouth, so he desisted from that angle of probing. Whilst it will indubitably be the case that I am angry – I already fucking am – and whilst it was indubitably the case that, in an ideal world, I could phone and/or meet him outside of scheduled sessions, how dare he presume any of that. If he wants to know my thinking on these matters he should fucking well ask me – it’s not like he’s never asked before. He shouldn’t just assume that his suspicions are gospel, regardless of the probability of their accuracy.

During the silence that ensued, I fought a mental battle with myself. One side was crying out, “but that’s another six months! You should be grateful!”

The other responded, “the NHS has failed you yet again, SI. They are ignoring all research on your diagnoses.”

For once, the negative side was, I am convinced, the more rational. BPD takes a long time to properly treat. It is as simple as that.

Finally I said to him, “why do you do this job?”

I knew he would respond with a question, and indeed he didn’t disappoint.

“Can you tell me why it is it important for you to know that?”

“I’m curious.”

Once more, I knew he would fail to answer, and instead question me again. Once more, I was correct.

“But what is it that gives rise to that curiosity?”

I laughed cynically in his face. “Just answer the fucking question,” I demanded. “Please.”

He looked away and appeared thoughtful for a minute. Eventually he said, “because I think it is of value.”

I nodded non-committally and waited for the backlash.

Well, apparently my questioning his decision to practice clinical psychology ties in with my intense rage towards him / the health service (because that couldn’t possibly be fucking justified could it? Oh wait, it could!) and my assertions last week that he was a ‘headfucking sadist’.

I winced. “Yes, sorry about that,” I muttered awkwardly.

“No, no,” he insisted. “You should bring that anger with you.”

I ignored him and said that it must be something of a nightmare to spend an hour with me every week.

He sort of laughed and said that I have to spend all the time with myself. (This could be read as an invalidating statement, which it shouldn’t be – there was more to it than this, but I don’t recall the specifics. Whatever the case, the point was actually made more sympathetically than I’ve made it sound).

“Yes, that is a disability,” I mused. “But honestly – I’ve been such an angry child here recently, it must be shit for you.”

I saw his eyebrow quiver slightly at my use of the term ‘angry child’. Excellent. It had been intended to pique his interest.

“I’ve been reading about schema models recently,” I proclaimed, triumphantly.

This is where part two of the discussion began. Let’s call it Intellectualise my Mentalism.

The other week, when I was convinced my therapy with C was coming to a dramatic and premature halt in January, I rushed to the Yellow Pages looking for suitable therapists. I was looking primarily for practitioners of psychodynamic therapy, as I have been receiving from C, because it’s the only type that I have found remotely effective to date. However, I was open to exploring both schema and gestalt therapy, having read quite a bit on both, and found practitioners of both in the vicinity. As two major studies have demonstrated its effectiveness for all symptoms of BPD (unlike stupid DBT), I have more faith in schema therapy, even though it does involve some wanky (if apparently advanced) CBT, for which (as you know) I have no time, so – convinced I was in imminent danger of abandonment from C – I Googled “Schema therapy borderline personality disorder” and came up with this book. On a whim, I bought it.

The book contends that people with BPD have five main strands to their character:

  • The healthy adult (the authors admit this seems an unlikely component, but make the reasonably fair point that many with BPD are not always going mental. Not that they put it quite like that, of course).
  • Detached protector – this mode sees the patient protecting the harmed brats that form part of her consciousness.
  • Punitive parent – “everything is my fault” mode. Must punish myself. I am usually pretty good at this, especially in session.
  • Angry or impulsive child – furious, mainly as a defence mechanism. It is convinced it will be fucked over. It is also angry that its needs / rights are not met. (I am a walking stereotype).
  • Abandoned or abused child – alone, no one cares about it, whinges, cries, blah de blah.

I told C that today I was the protector. I was avoiding his questions, getting irritated when he probed me – classic protector traits, according to the book.

We had a discussion around the whole concept of schemas, schema therapy and its development, which to my amazement resulted in him bringing up the term ‘borderline personality disorder’ in a completely unsolicited way. He went on to explain the schemas seen in BPD in more detail, to the absolute delight of my ears and my mind.

Feeling that we were on something of a discursive roll, I presented him with a print-out of this post from Kathy Broady’s blog. I had analysed the piece bit by bit in terms of its applicability to me.

I pointed out that it was written by a DID therapist, however, and that therefore it might not all apply directly to me.

He sort of shook his head and said, “there’s a debate in psychiatry and psychology as to whether or not DID and BPD exist on a continuum. At the very least, there’s often an overlap of symptoms. So therefore I’m sure some of this stuff can apply.”

(For the record I think I’d identified about 18 of the 20 signs Kathy listed as being applicable to me to one extent or another. Fuck! Is there more I don’t know about?!).

Satisfied with this response, I gestured for C to go ahead and read the list. Not wanting to sit there like a numpty whilst he read it, I stood up and looked out the window.

I could see out of the corner of my eye that he was looking at me, puzzled. I turned to him.

“What, am I not allowed to stand up now?”

“Well, yeaa-ahhh, you are,” he began, doubtfully, “but I’m just wondering why you’re standing up.”

“You’re reading that, so I’m going to look out the window,” I replied.

“I think you’re trying to distance yourself from the material in this article,” he told me. “It would be better if you sat down and faced it.”

So, the mere gesture of looking out the window is reflective of an entrenched tendency to avoid confronting one’s problems, is it? Well, fuck me, I’ve heard it all now. I was going to argue, but decided against it, not really seeing any point. I made an arm gesture of “you win” and sat down, internally laughing at how absurd I felt his deep reading of my meaningless action had been.

C read the list – to my annoyance, he read a lot of it out loud – then paused on one particular point. I don’t remember which one it was, but I’d provided an ‘analysis’ at the end along the lines of, “I do this, I do that, blah de blah.”

“Blah de blah?” he queried. “What does that mean?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “It’s just flippancy.”

“Yeah,” he agreed, “but where does that flippancy come from?”

“It’s stylistic,” I argued (I’m sure most readers of this blog will agree that I have a penchant for flippant remarks). “It’s just my writing style. You haven’t read any of my writing…”

“But…” he went on.

Enter stage three of the session – the mad, maniacal bit.

“Right,” I said authoritatively. “You don’t believe me that that’s how I write? Well, let me show you.”

From my bag I pulled out a print out of this post, my (latest) rant on the NHS. I began randomly reading some of the more colourful parts of the rants, in a deliberately exaggerated and dramatic voice. When I finally drew breath at the part where I talked about reading Grey’s Anatomy at the age of five, the completely befuzzled C interrupted me, exclaiming, “what’s happening here today?!”

He looked completely bemused, and on reflection I can’t say I blame him. It was a bit of a random tangent.

I defended myself on the grounds that I wanted to demonstrate to him that the flippant comments he’d seen on the trauma list were sod all in comparison to the flippant comments made by me elsewhere.

“But,” he said, metaphorically stroking his chin, “we’ve been all over the place today [I’m not sure that he phrased it quite like that]. For the first while I thought you were quite upset, quite agitated…now I’m not sure what you are…angry? And in the middle we perhaps intellectualised matters a little.”

“Oh fuck, I’m sorry!” I cried. “I led you into that.”

“These meetings are a co-construction,” he insisted. “I’m just as culpable for any straying off course as you are – we just have to be careful not to head into intellectual territory too much.”

He pondered for a minute and, referencing point 10 on Kathy’s list of trauma signs, said, “your rush to apologise just now ties in with that.” He noted that I had commented on the list that my self-blame wasn’t excessive because that for which I blame myself is, in fact, my fault.

“You do realise, objectively, that it is excessive, don’t you?” C asked.

“No no no, it’s my fault. It’s my fault,” I contended. “Just now I seduced you into that discussion on academic psychology. It was my fault, I’m sorry.”

Readers, why – WHY?! – did I have to use the word ‘seduce’? Why? A dozen other words would have sufficed. It just rolled off my tongue, as hyperbolic metaphors often seem to do.

He raised his eyebrow and narrowed his eye slightly. “Seduced?” he enquired.

Fuck. FUCK. FUCK FUCK FUCK! Now he thinks I want to fucking fuck him. Fuck fuck fuck.

I felt my cheeks turn red in utter mortification and in my rush to defend my use of the term, on the grounds that it was figurative, probably made an utter tit of myself – thus reinforcing any belief he might have that my transference is of an erotic nature.

Fucky fuck, shit and damn. I did try my best to explain what I’d meant, but I was flustered, and in any case it probably looked like a case of the lady doth protest too much. So eventually I gave up, looked down and gestured for him to continue to read the trauma list.

Thankfully for once he had the grace to do as he was told and not press me. He read on in silence this time, and when he’d finished I asked him if he thought the points included were applicable to me.

He said that he thought they were, and indeed that a lot of it had already come out in therapy and that we were beginning to address those issues.

He handed me the list back, and I read over it. For some reason I then went into a dysphoric but energetic rant against myself, telling C that I was “nothing but histrionic” for thinking any of the list was applicable to me, and indeed for bringing it to him.

He listened to and watched me in a kind of bewildered way. Perhaps he’s not that familiar with mixed states.

“Well, this has been weird,” I declared.

He cleared his throat, as if for dramatic effect. “It’s certainly been…” – he searched for the word – “…different,” he acknowledged finally, with a slight wryness I thought, which I found bizarrely reassuring.

“I was nervous about telling you about the schema book,” I admitted to him, rather randomly. “I’ve always got the feeling from you that you think to so much as mention a diagnosis is to fixate on a label.”

“Not necessarily,” he began. “It’s very important not to fixate on it, indeed. You mustn’t allow yourself to be ‘built’ around a diagnosis. But it can have benefits, yes.”

“I’ve found it helpful,” I said. “For one thing it’s enabled me to connect with a range of people who have been a great support network.”

“Good,” he declared. “No, I have no problem with diagnoses. It’s just important that you know that it’s not ‘borderline personality disorder’ that comes into this room, it’s [my name].”

I nodded. I think I do keep a sense of perspective on the diagnoses; if someone asks me about myself, unless it has been directly in the context of mental illness, I’ll usually tell them I’m a rock bird with a love for reading, writing, pubs, sci-fi and Newcastle United. The illnesses are part of me, and I am not ashamed of having them, but they’re certainly not the whole story.

As I was about to leave, C asked me to think over the prospect of there being a maximum of 24 weeks of the process left in order for us to discuss it at the next session. He all but begged me to “bring the anger with [me].” I protested that I couldn’t do so with absolute impunity, as I couldn’t face being heard screaming at him by those in the offices adjoining his.

He looked extremely taken aback at this, which I still don’t fully understand. I have social anxiety for Christ’s sake, does he honestly expect that I can allow anyone but him to be party to my rants? In any case, his secretary phoned today. Having convinced myself at the weekend that he was dead (whilst simultaneously reckoning that he wasn’t dead, but nevertheless believing that he was), I was horrified about what she had to say. Mercifully, so far C is not dead and will see me on Thursday at the normal time – just not in the normal place, due to building work. He is temporarily moving back to VCB’s stomping ground.

In a way, it’s worse to lose it with him there than in his own office. The office in which I suspect I will meet him is next door to the one VCB shares with other psychiatrists. These cunts all have it in their power to section me should I really lose it, which is hopefully unlikely but frankly not impossible, especially with ‘They’ still hovering about from time to time (though wouldn’t you know it, the anti-psychotic has seemingly killed Tom. Just my luck to lose the ‘good’ psychosis and retain the ‘bad’). On the other hand, an advantage of this location is that the building is attached to the day bin and adjacent to the actual bin, so hopefully they’ll be used to having crazies losing it on them fairly often.

As for now, I don’t know what I think. The argument is still ongoing in my head – More NHS Fuckovery, I’m Calling an Advocacy Service vs. Well, It’s Another Potential Six Months, Be Grateful. The truth is I feel both at the same time. A little bit positive, but more than a little bit lost.

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