Archive for cutting

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

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

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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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Wanking Yourself Sane (or at Least Calmer)

Posted in Psychotherapy, Random, Random Mental Health Related Philosophising with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on Tuesday, 1 December, 2009 by Pandora

First Signs are a UK-based charitable organisation devoted to the prevention, or at least the minimisation of, self-harm.  Whilst as regular readers of this blog will know, I don’t really see the big issue with (controlled) self-harm, I can and do admire the work that FS are undertaking.  If nothing else, at least they’re raising awareness on the issue – why people self-harm, that most people who do it aren’t dangerous to normals and so on.

However, as you can see from the title this isn’t a post espousing the worthwhile cause of this user-led charity.  I am writing in response to this supposed distraction technique.  Yes, folks, they are arguing that bringing yourself off is a viable alternative to cutting or burning yourself.  Riiiiight.

I read a lot of articles on psychiatry and psychology, much to the detriment of my Twitter followers (not so much on the account allied to this blog), but I rarely feel the need to respond to them.  However, I just find this article so ridiculous that in this case I felt compelled to do so.

The first thing that struck me about the piece was that FS had devoted the entire thing to masturbation.  I mean, even if you do accept that wanking is a credible alternative to self-harm, it’s not the only distraction technique that exists out there.  When C and I first discussed the stupid DBT bullshit way back in week 12 of our therapy, some of the stuff in the material he gave me was devoted to distracting oneself – and, as it happens, masturbation was mentioned (to which I responded with an ‘LOL’ which I know is really rather puerile)…but the difference was, it was only mentioned in passing, as one technique amongst dozens available.  No 1,300 word article on this topic per se was deemed to be required.

Personally, I think distraction techniques are all bollocks, but that’s not really the point.  The point is, to what extent is masturbation really a viable alternative to self-injury?

FS pose this question:

When you’re urging to hurt yourself, aren’t you looking for a release, and some relief from the emotional distress you’re having trouble coping with?

This basically forms the central tenet of their entire argument as far as I can see.  In fact, looking again at the article, it seems to be their only tenet.  What a convincing argument they must have if they only have one major thread to their point.

That said, OK – successfully orgasming undoubtedly does relieve tension, and no doubt endorphins are released upon climax just as they are in cutting.  But for goodness sake, how obvious is it that it is an entirely different type of release?!

I wrote about the satisfaction, if that’s the correct term, that I get from self-harm in this post a few weeks ago.  I suppose my main point was that bloodletting is beautiful because one feels, temporarily, that they are watching their own evil flow away along with their blood.

Which, to be objective, is the only point I really made – but it feeds into the idea that many people will injure themselves as some sort of ritualistic punishment for their perceived inherent evil, or for the self-disgust they feel.  I know I have been known to cut for this reason.

Why, then, would I allow myself the satisfaction of a pleasurable activity?  If I am a bad person, I need some obvious form of punishment, not a reward, whether that’s sexual or otherwise.  Now, satisfaction is undoubtedly garnered from the ‘punishment’ of cutting – but it’s not a premeditated satisfaction (masturbation is in my view, even if a sexual urge comes on one quickly, because it usually has a clear objective that one is trying to meet).  And in any case, the satisfaction is, primarily, mental, not physical (which is all masturbation, unless conducted mutually with a partner, can ever be).  You are satisfied because you have done what needed to be done to this bad individual; you have hurt them.

Of course, that’s only one aspect of self-harm.  One other major function of it is to reorientate oneself when going doolally or, as FS admit, to release some psychic pain in the same circumstances.

Now let me get this straight.  When I am going off my head in a mixed state or panic attack, am I seriously going to sit down and analyse distraction techniques (this is why I think they are all complete arse, as discussed here, for example, or there’s always this epic rant specifically about methods of distraction)?!  In particular, am I going to think, “Christ, life is so fucking terrible right now…an orgasm would make it better”?  Well, maybe it would actually, in an ephemeral sort of way, but would that really be forefront in my mind?  The idea, as any one who’s experienced such a state will appreciate, is ludicrous.

All one can think about when going mental is the mentalism.  The ‘decision’ to harm, if it can be termed that as it is not always conscious, is almost innate.  OK, so sexuality is innate too, but there the comparisons end.  Perhaps the reason for the visceral nature of self-harm in these circumstances is simply that its effects are instantaneous (my mantra to C: “it’s quick and it works”).  Even if we (erroneously) were to agree that an orgasm can have exactly the same physiological effects as self-harm, time (for most women but I reckon to some extent blokes too) is required.  One does not feel like they have time when one is going mental.

Another issue that escapes them, and my aforementioned post on blood being beautiful ties in with this, is that cutting isn’t always about pain or distraction; sometimes it’s about blood.  Personally speaking, I love watching the blood.  Occasionally I cut only to watch the blood and how it flows.  Again, if we make the false assumption that orgasm release = cutting release, where is anything tactile or tangible from that?  FS do state that “…masturbation doesn’t cause any physical problems..,” and in doing so of course acknowledge that cutting can and does of course have physical consequences – but, as I said, they miss the point that that can be exactly why it is done in the first place.

Above all, what antagonises me most about this article is how it trivialises the issue of self-injury.  Now, I don’t think it’s a big deal if done under controlled circumstances, but neither do I think it can simply be equated as having similar physical and mental properties as something that most people have done in their lives and that is seen, rightly or wrongly, as something to be sniggered about at the back of a classroom.

FS state several times in the article that they fully recognise that self-harm is a serious issue, and to be fair they wouldn’t exist in the first place if they didn’t think so.  Nevertheless, singling out masturbation as a distraction technique in this fashion strikes me as counting it as some sort of panacea in a path to recovery from self-harm.  That probably wasn’t their aim, and what they have written was clearly with the best of intentions, but it has sadly worked out as over-simplified and utterly ineffective.

It may seem like I’m saying, “fuck distraction techniques, self-harm for the win!” in this and other posts – I am not.  This may be what I think for myself, but I would not advocate such for anyone else.  One thing FS got right in this article was to remember that everyone is different, and so other cutters / burners / whateverers may find a range of distractions, including this one, effective.  To that end may I reiterate that I admire the work that First Signs do; I applaud their very existence.

But wanking is never going to be a viable alternative to the scalpel for me.  Sorry folks.

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Be Angry With The Filthy Whore – C: Week 31

Posted in C, Moods, Psychotherapy, Triggers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Tuesday, 24 November, 2009 by Pandora

Thursday was fucking traumatic, a state of affairs of which you are probably aware given my citation of the disturbing imagery of Metallica’s Until It Sleeps that evening. You’ll have seen on that post that my iPod was reading my mind again in playing it – and other songs on similarly dark themes – but what is most interesting about this is that this strange form of electronic ESP took place as I was driving home from an utterly pointless dissociative trip to a coastal town about 20 miles from home.

My first proper awareness of going to said town was when I realised I was in the centre of it. I do have a very vague recollection of noticing my normal turn off and thinking that the traffic was heavy, but at no time did I think, “why the fuck are you not in that heavy traffic?” I don’t remember deciding to drive on, and I don’t remember the journey. Another small-scale fugue-like episode. Sweet.

I had been quite good on the self-harm front of late, but the good spell has been broken. ‘Bitch’ and ‘grief’ are the latest, though I don’t remember doing the former (it must have bled like fuck though as I had seemingly used a towel to stem the bloodflow). Grief. Am I grieving for myself, or for what I should have been? If so, is that good? Presumably one is meant to say, “well, the self-harm bit isn’t good,” but you know me folks – not really one to listen to that sort of argument. A is raging with C; in A’s eyes, it is C’s fault that I have taken to cutting myself again. But it isn’t. It really isn’t. All C has done is facilitate triggering discussions, and been someone to whom I am hopelessly attached, which is hardly his fault. We can’t avoid matters of this importance simply because there is a risk it may act as a trigger; the entire psychotherapeutic process would then be pointless, and I’d be left as mental as I ever was.

I’m unsure as to what exactly this entry will amount to, as I remember surprisingly little of the session – perhaps unsurprisingly. But let’s start at the very beginning and see what happens.

C pointed out that he’d been looking through his diary and saw that our current contract was due to end shortly (he thought there were two sessions remaining after Thursday; I thought one, but as it turns out it will not matter). This was something of which I was horribly well aware. Having only begun to open up to C properly in the last few weeks, I was convinced that he’d see me as a manipulative bitch – it looked, to my cynical mind, like I was trying to wrangle more time out of him by leaving the avalanche of confessions until this point. Given that my primary diagnosis is borderline personality disorder, it reasonably follows (in my eyes) that he could believe me to be manipulative, as the psychiatric establishment still seems to think that about those who have BPD more than any other psychiatric problem.

Of course, he didn’t like either the idea that he would find me manipulative, nor in particular that he would think this because I have BPD – that fixates on labels, don’t you know. Actually, it doesn’t, because it’s what I think he should think anyway – the fact that BPD is the only psychiatric diagnosis to still be treated with open contempt by mental health professionals just reinforces that point – though to be fair, I have not experienced that disdain personally, thank God.

I honestly don’t think I was being manipulative – not consciously, anyhow – but it did look like it, and that had been my worry all week. Of course, C refused to concede that this was the case in his eyes. Did he point blank deny it? I think he may well have done, but I don’t remember clearly enough to say for certain. What he was willing to admit to was that I may, consciously or otherwise, fear the end of the relationship, and act accordingly to preserve it. Which is apparently not manipulative. Hmm.

The issue of the end of therapy raised its ugly head a couple of times during the meeting. What he said at this juncture was that we should “…continue seeing each other until Christmas, at which point [he’ll] be off for a fortnight, and then we’ll review the situation in January.”

Review the situation in January. You can take a wild guess as to what I think about that. He is going to throw me out with the dirty water in cunting January. Just over a month away, after the most stressful time of the year for me (ah yes, I’m sure you’ll be treated to a delicious rant about fucking Christmas in the near future, dearest readers). A tells me that this is not what C meant; apparently, he literally meant that we shall review the situation, and if further therapy is required (as if it won’t be), then that is what the case shall be. Well, Ms Rationality of course says, “yeah, right” to that. He is going to abandon me.

I honesty don’t remember how I reacted in session to the comment about ‘reviewing things in January’. I think I simply agreed and didn’t voice the aforementioned rejection worries, but I wouldn’t swear to it. As I said, it did indeed come up again, but I don’t remember under what circumstances. I can and do appreciate that the relationship can’t be permanent – in the most rational of ways, I don’t want it to be. I want to live an independent life, free of a need for a surrogate daddy. But can C realistically expect to change 13+ years of misery and being fucked about by the NHS in seven-ish months, particularly when I have such a strong neurotic attachment to him? Trying to be objective about it, I cannot honestly fathom that as reasonable, except in especially productive scenarios (which are about as applicable to me as…um…er…something that is very un-applicable to me). This is a personality disorder. It is ingrained into every metaphorical fibre of my self, the conscious, the unconscious, whatever – and it is causing me to self-destruct. Can something of such enormity and longevity honestly be treated adequately in just over half a year?

In any case, eventually the discussion – predictably enough – returned to the eminently delightful subject matter of the preceeding week. Eugh. It was me that raised it, though not exactly through choice; we were talking about something else (no idea what now) which triggered some sort of memory – it’s a shame I’ve forgotten what that subject was, as it would be useful to know these triggers, especially in cases where there is no obvious correlation, as I think the case was in this instance.

I became rather agitated and told C that I wasn’t “going there”. I hid.

Despite my telling him to leave it, he continued to probe me – but gently and quite subtly, to be fair. I eventually admitted that I was thinking about the Pandora’s Box.

My memory is even more fragmented from here on in, though some things do stick out in my mind very clearly. I was very, very careful not to verbally articulate much at all; at one point I desperately begged, “look, don’t you see where I’m going with this?” But it appears that he believes that I need to say the words. I still have not used the word ‘rape’, and strictly speaking he could still be under the impression that it was something other than rape – but he’s not that stupid.

He must have asked what was so troubling about verbalising this material, because I remember then telling him that I am fairly tolerant of articulating the gruesome information on this blog.

“Which is odd,” I mused, “given that it is all the more real when it is written down, even more so than if I verbally discuss it. It’s there, on the blog, in black and white.” (See here, for example).

I went on to postulate the idea that perhaps it is easier to deal with in writing because I can rationalise everything; life events become something that is seen in the third person, by a narrator, an observer with at least a modicum of theoretical knowledge of that about which she writes. If I have to talk about it, I have to feel it. I am there, in the midst of it, with the rawness, the vileness, the trauma of it all.

He agreed. He didn’t say so, but a sense that he wants me to feel that repressed pain was very palpable. Maybe that is why he was such a cock when I put this, and other shit, in writing for him – in fact, I’m certain it is. What kind of profession capitalises on other people’s grief? If I asked him why he became a clinical psychologist, I’m sure he’d respond along the lines of that old cliché, “I want to help people.” What, by making them relive their darkest memories, by making them suffer through them all again? Does that not take a special kind of sadism?

I am, of course, being a little facetious; I don’t believe C to be a sadist in the least, and I do believe he is in his job for the right reasons. But the human mind, and the sciences that arise therefrom, are odd things indeed. It strikes me as strange that it is an apparent psychological necessity to directly face that which you most revile in your past, before you can heal from the wounds it inflicted.

But this is not a post about the curious concept of psychology as an academic discipline, nor is it a post about the mindsets of those practising this form of figurative alchemy; it is a post about a session I had with my therapist. So…was it at this point that I lost it? I’m not sure, but anyway, in my next clear memory, all I could see in my head was the INCIDENT, or more specifically, the moments during which I was pushed to the floor of the outhouse in which it took place and served up as tasty piece of young meat for the delectation of my uncle. I recall very strongly that (in C’s office, not in my mind) I had my head in my lap and was pelting my skull with both fists with as much strength as I could muster. I have never done anything of this ilk in C’s company before.

And so he too did something that he has never done before; he raised his voice to me. He didn’t shout, but he did raise his voice just enough to try and penetrate through the mentalism that had tenaciously gripped my mind.

“SI!” he called. Well, he didn’t of course – perhaps it will surprise some of you to learn that I have a name, a normal, very ordinary name, and he used that instead – but you know what I mean. One thing I’ll not forget about this session was that he actually used my name three times, and at one point I used his too – these things are unheard of in the whole time we’ve known each other. Does it mean something? Why do I attach such importance to something so apparently normal and trivial? Is it because using names is personal, and that I want to see him as a person, not a canvas? Who knows. I certainly don’t, but I do know that that memory sticks with me.

I think he must have somehow brought me back from this mental place, but I don’t remember the specifics. The next part of the conversation that I recall was when he asked me how I felt about myself and that I told him that I felt like a “dirty, fetid little slut.” I then rationalised things for a bit, proclaiming that I am in actuality not a slut. Unfortunately, I still felt (feel) like one.

Then I lost it again. “I’m a filthy whore,” I spat, hiding from him again with my hands.

I think he actually went as far as to tell me that I am not a whore, but that could be a phantom memory. I mean, how the fuck would he know? I could have sold sex in 28 European capitals for all he knows. One thing he definitely did do was try and help me regain my composure. I sat up and pretended to be fine, sticking out my hand to measure how much it was shaking. I have used an incident when I was about 15 as a yardstick to measure anxiety; the day after I found out about an incredibly twisted lie from my first real boyfriend (a long story that I will have to detail some day), I went into school and, in English, happened to notice how much my hand was shaking. That denotes severe anxiety and/or anger. If the shaking is less than that, things could be worse.

I told C about this. However, a brief reference to the lying cunt of an ex must have touched on the self-disgust I was already feeling over my own lying to C about the INCIDENT (when we first met I told him it was ‘mere’ touching, but that was only part of it, obviously. More on this shortly). I told him this – still without using that word – and went into a major self-invective of utter disgust and abhorrence. It was filled with ranting about how much of a shameful, lying, grotesque, hateful slag I am, lying to the one person that might be able to bring me back a little hope in this sorry mental battle, and about how guilty and sorry I am, blah blah de blah.

When I took a second to draw breath, he jumped in to try and (a) reassure me that I had nothing to feel guilty about and (b) establish exactly what it was that I felt I’d lied about.

I answered (b) first, at least to the best of my recollection. He’d specifically asked in our initial assessment sessions what form the sexual abuse took. As is my wont, I had avoided articulating myself properly, and instead managed to answer the question merely by his probing. I think, though I am not certain, that he asked if I was raped, and that I said ‘no’. I am sure that when he asked if it was inappropriate touching that I said ‘yes’, and that I led him to believe that that was all. In my defence – and I told him this in the session to which this post refers – I have dissociated a lot of the INCIDENT. I remember ghastly, loathsome pieces of it in fleeting glimpses, like looking at still pictures in an album or, sometimes, short video clips. I remember the sensations of pain and terror in these moments too. I am grateful that the memories are so brief, but also resentful of it too, as it feels like it removes my power to understand the INCIDENT and my reactions to it. Furthermore, obviously part of me does remember it, and that part is mentally fucked – perhaps it would be easier to address were it all consciously there at the front of my mind.

Anyhow, I then proceeded to respond C’s (a) point. “I lied to you,” I said simply. “Aren’t you angry with me?”

“No, of course I’m not angry with you.”

“Why not? You should be.”

He sort of laughed (he mustn’t have realised I was serious), but seeing the look on my face, he desisted from doing so abruptly.

“SI,” he said again, firmly, looking straight at me. “Do you seriously think that I should be angry with you?” His tone was a more compassionate version of ‘incredulous’.

“Yes,” I began, “fucking dirty, lying, grotesque little bitch, fucking…”

“One,” he interrupted, rather dramatically, leaning forward and counting on his fingers as he did. “We had only just met and you can’t honestly have expected yourself to deeply discuss such sensitive matters with someone you didn’t know. Two, you didn’t lie, you omitted some information…”

“But then that’s a lie of omission…” I began.

“Three!” he went on, raising his eyebrow in a surprisingly authoritative fashion, signaling that I was to let him finish, “three, this is hard for you to talk about, so it is not surprising you withheld it. What is there to be angry with?! I am not angry with you, and neither should I be.”

Well, that was me told, then. I was quite taken aback by the forcefulness of his tone. Actually, ‘forcefulness’ is a horrid word to use as it has negative connotations – let’s say ’emphatic’ instead. He was incredibly emphatic. I gaped at him in a sort of stupefied disorientation for a minute or two.

He sat back in his chair, recovered his blank canvas and either asked me how I felt, or signalled for me to speak.

“Um…” I muddled. “That’s reassuring. I do feel reassured. But it also confuses me; you have a completely different attitude to it from me.”

He seemed to understand that in fairness, which not an awful lot of people would. He was able to see the black-and-white chain of logic that I was following in believing that he ought to be angry, but luckily for C things in his world do not seem to be as black and white as they are in mine.

I don’t remember how things ended. I know that I was battered and bruised psychologically (and physically to boot what with punching my head). At no point had I been tearful, but one does not need to weep to mentally suffer. I went and sat in the car and phoned A for catharsis and reorientation purposes. Although the trauma of reliving the INCIDENT had been the most awful aspect of the session, the fact that I fixatedly whined to A that C ‘wants to abandon me’ before I even touched on the rest of things is very telling.

In later discussions A urged me to tell C about this abject fear. What’s the point? C already knows I’m terrified of him abandoning me. Perhaps the real question is ‘is my attachment to him healthy?’ There have been mixed views on this from the readership of this blog. cbtish, for example, thinks it puts me in an intolerable position (cbtish is a therapist). Vanessa from eTransference, a clinical psychologist in training who has a particular interest in the phenomenon of transference, thinks it ought to be encouraged in many ways. Others undergoing therapy – bourach and thesamesky (who’s also a counsellor) for example – have their own struggles with the therapeutic dyad (bourach in particular will understand why I thought C should be angry with me, given this post of her’s).

I don’t know what the answer is; just that the attachment is very real. Just that I feel guilty for withholding information and for lying (though he wants me to stop that – and I’ve just remembered that the session ended with him asking me, again, to try and not post-mortem things in therapy. Oops. He was also worried, after what happened with VCB’s SHO in September, that his actions or words could have a…er…detrimental effect on me. Double oops. All I can say is that I think our current dialogue is progress, regardless of any self-harm that follows). And at least I am far from alone in withholding, and even lying.

But it’s still all a bit of a quagmire, yes?

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The Questions I Never Wanted to Face – C: Week 30

Posted in C, Moods, Psychotherapy, Triggers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Tuesday, 17 November, 2009 by Pandora

I’ve been avoiding writing this entry, in part due to a continuing malaise with being arsed to do anything, never mind soul-searching and expunging myself across the internet. But it’s not just been that. There’s nothing that I am going to say that is unknown amongst the circles that read this blog, but talking about this shite in therapy and then making it a concrete black-and-white reality in a journal make it real, and it is not allowed to be real, not by me at any rate. So I have been avoiding it. You should note that I am deliberately going to refrain from putting some details here, due to their personal nature, but I am sure you can forgive me.

Thursday’s session with C was one of the most frank and revelatory that I’ve experienced to date. It was a strange meeting, because initially I thought it was going to be one of those useless, ‘let’s both stare at the floor’ encounters, but if anything it ended up becoming one of the more useful (if difficult) sessions I’ve had in psychotherapy, because we finally began to face some of the stuff I’ve been so strategically avoiding in the last six months (and, frankly, for much of my life).

I was greeted with that usual opening gambit of, “so where would you like to start?” I know why he does this (“the dyad is a co-construction but you have to help inform it by raising issues of concern” or some such, no doubt) but seriously, is it really so much to ask for him to just ask me a question about something he thinks is worth discussing? Although I wasn’t in the same agitated mood that I was last week, I sort of shrugged off the question and we looked at each other.

Two points of interest arise for me here. One – why do I have such trouble just telling him where I would like to begin? Let me try to articulate how I feel in the moments immediately subsequent to his opening question. I suppose the closest I can really get to it is to say that it just feels inappropriate. Is this a boundaries thing? Is it something to do with a possible perception on my part that he is an authority figure? It just feels like I’d be breaking a rule, that it is something of inherent embarrassment to me, like I’d be showing myself up like a child humiliated by her teacher or parent.

Two, regular readers will know that C has directly confronted me – if I may use artistic licence with the term ‘confront’, for want of a better one – about the fact that I hide from him. I mean that I literally hide, not (just) metaphorically: I have fairly long hair, and I either wear it loose in his office and hide behind it, or I take it down from a ponytail in his office, and hide behind it. I also put my hands over my face to avoid him. How, then, is it that I can stare him out at other times (note that above I stated that we stared at each other for a bit)? In fact, I do the stare with such intensity at times that I think I unsettle him – whether or not that’s correct, at the very least I usually win ‘stare-outs’ with him. I stare and stare and stare, confrontationally, challengingly, defiantly even, all in a strange dance of intellectual seduction, no doubt designed to avoid actual exploratory psychotherapeutic work, which is no doubt exactly what this o’er weighty prose is also designed to do, so I shall forthwith desist from it. To try and answer the question, though, my suspicion is that the ‘hiding’ occurs when I am vulnerable or open with C, and the staring when I feel confident or (probably erroneously) believe myself to have the upper hand in the dyad. I am a walking Freudian stereotype.

The beginning of the discussion – and in fact the first 30 or so minutes – were really pretty innocuous. One thing that completed cracked me up was that he made enquiries as to the nature of my finger injury. Initially I was slightly taken aback by this – why the fuck would he show friendly concern over a cut finger? That is at most a medical problem, surely? However, I explained the circumstances in deliberately pedantic detail.

He nodded and smiled slightly in that irritating ‘oh-right-that’s-nice way’ that he does when I have said something that he deems irrelevant (which was most frustrating in this case, as he instigated the discussion), seeming apparently satisfied with my response. I wasn’t going to let him off with it though (more avoidance?) and said, “you thought I did it deliberately, didn’t you?”

He hesitated; I think he was reluctant to answer that, but for once he did give me a straight response, stating that, “that had been [his] thinking.”

For some reason I found this preposterously hilarious, and laughed and laughed. Although he tried to humour me, C was clearly puzzled by this amused lunacy, and retrospectively speaking, so am I. OK, so trying to severe my finger hasn’t exactly been my self-harm MO to date, but then this is the girl that recently bought, for the purposes of cutting herself, a surgical scalpel from eBay, and as a young child tried to amputate her foot. His supposition was not that terribly unreasonable when you think about it.

By whatever means of progression, we ended up engaging in a fairly length discussion about ‘They’ and the VCB’s prescription for an anti-psychotic to combat ‘They’. C, correctly, kept calling ‘They’ ‘them’ when ‘They’ were the objects of his sentences. He then went about correcting himself and apologising to me, apparently believing his ‘incorrect’ term was some sort of invalidation of me (because throwing a whole ream of hard work back in my face isn’t, but whatever), but I honestly couldn’t care less. It doesn’t matter what C calls ‘They’ – it’s not exactly going to rid me of their malice, is it? And his ‘mistake’ isn’t a mistake – he’s correct. Allow me to honour Dr Freud again; does my refusal to name ‘They’ in correct grammatical terms hark back to childhood trauma, when such niceties of the English language were only beginning to be understood? No, it probably doesn’t, so let’s move on.

The discussion of ‘They’ led on to further perusal of my recent psychoses (as detailed in the ‘They’ post and in this tweet); namely, the knocking, whimpering and music. I told C how I sinister I found them all, in particular the heinous music, but that in some odd, vaguely altruistic way, the whimpering was the worst. My desire has been to help the whimpering creature, to rid it of its obvious pain, but of course I cannot do that as, oddly enough, it isn’t fucking there because it doesn’t fucking exist. On the other hand, I explained, even if I could find the source of the whimpering, my pathological fear is that it is a trap laid by ‘They’ to somehow torture my mind further…or indeed worse (if you can euphemistically call taking me out ‘worse’, and I am not convinced that you can).

Anyhow, so far so tame. Well, not so for a normal, but yeah – let’s stick with ‘tame’ anyway. Unfortunately I walked into a trap at this juncture. Well, that’s unfair; C didn’t mean to dig into something right at this point (or at least I don’t think he did), and even if it had been a probing question, it would not be fair to consider that entrapment. He merely asked how I experience these sounds.

I won’t go into my answer nor the next 10 minutes of conversation, as this is the personal information to which I alluded in the opening paragraph. This remains private, between C and me, and no one else; all I’m willing to say is that it relates to me protecting myself. I’ll make only two other points about it. Firstly, this particular subject could have been horribly uncomfortable and awkward – and with the wrong person, it indubitably would have been. But I felt at ease with C, relatively speaking, and thought he dealt with it with tact and sensitivity. Secondly, this part of the session ultimately led to one of the topics I have been dreading to face in detail.

“You’re opening a Pandora’s Box here,” I cautioned at this point.

“Do you want to tell me what’s in the box?” C responded on cue.

I very deliberately turned round to look at the clock, noting only 10 minutes remained of the session.

“What a shame we don’t have time for that,” I smiled, probably patronisingly.

He took another route. “Can you even tell me the name of the box then, or give some details as to its contents?”

I took a deep breath. “You are aware of what happened with my uncle.”

He nodded, and what followed was some slightly circular discussion about my continuing worries about MW and his soon-to-be sibling (my cousins twice removed, or third cousins if you prefer the more common, yet inaccurate, assessment), and how that’s diminished a little of late*. Another point was regarding MMcF’s husband’s exact relationship with me – ie. that he is my uncle by marriage. There was subtle reference as to what extent the incident (lovely word) has consciously impacted upon my life in the last 16-ish years.

Finally he said it. I don’t remember his exact words, but it was something like, “you haven’t told me it all, have you?”

That sounds like he phrased it in a sort of blaming fashion, but honestly, he didn’t. I just remember that it wasn’t something like, “there’s more to this”, because I’d have said ‘yes’ to that, whereas the correct answer to the question above was ‘no’.

I didn’t feel like a child, or at least I don’t think I did. I did, however, bow my head, look up at C from this submissive position and shake my head slowly, sadly and in a horribly resigned sort of manner – just like a child does when faced with a similarly awkward position. Submit submit submit. You lied to him, you little bitch, you lied.

I would reiterate that this is my thinking and that I got no sense of blame or recrimination whatsoever from him. Still, I hate the fact that I actually outright lied to C about this matter in our early discussions. I hate it. I hate it almost as much as confronting this bollocks itself.

We didn’t talk about the whole shame issue I mentioned in the sex abuse post, simply as there wasn’t time. We did spend the few minutes that were left exploring who else was privy to the information – A is one of only two ‘real life’ person to whom I’ve actually spoken the word ‘rape’ in this context, though a few others will have now found out thanks to reading the material I’ve written on the blog.

The other person who heard me use the word was my mother. Her reaction to the whole thing is a subject for several sessions with C as, to be honest, her way of handling it wasn’t exactly in my best interests. I gave C the brief version, which is what follows, though of course it will be revisited I’m sure. When I first confessed to my mother that anything happened, she said that I had misinterpreted McMF’s husband’s actions, as “he loves children” and would touch them in innocent, companionable sorts of ways – that must have been what happened, SI, you silly girl! Mum still holds to that position, on the very rare occasion that there is some sort of reference to the INCIDENT. When I told her, on a separate occasion, the full extent of the INCIDENT, she – knowing I am not a fan of the McF dynasty – said I made it up to avoid going to their house. Cheers mother.

Of course it was not just the INCIDENT that permeated this period in my ‘relationship’ with McMF’s husband, though that was always the worst bit – well, obviously, I suppose. The fact that I mainly have flashback-like recollections of the worst part – ie. my wriggling under him as he pushed me down and did what he wanted – is presumably suggestive of dissociation from there onwards, for which I am both grateful and resentful. There was more to it than just than one day too, and God forgive me, I played up to it. I did. I played up to it. I would wear short skirts in front of him and make suggestive comments to him – not because I wanted him to touch me ever again, but because I wanted him to suffer (the rationale being, “oh, you want me, do you fuckhead? Well, you can’t have me!”). When he did later touch me again (once in a room full of other children – thanks for that memory, mind), I would seize up and eliminate myself from the situation with as much speed as possible. It makes my skin crawl to think of this.

Yes, it makes my skin crawl, and my reaction to it makes my skin crawl. I know I was a child, and I know flirtatious and sexualised behaviour is a common response to child sex abuse, but I feel like a grotesque little slut nevertheless.

Readers, I cannot do this. I cannot face the enormity of not just this hideous link to the past, but also that of the first boyfriend saga, and that of the desolation of grammar school, amongst others. How can I face this all with C? How? I can’t even face it with me! I am not strong enough. I am weak. The word flows through my blood and inhabits every cell and fibre of my being. Weak, so, so horribly, pathetically weak.

OK, I have totally digressed. This post was about a session with C, and I have turned it into a mini discussion on child sex abuse and my failure as a human being. Sorry. To return to the point, C and I had to finish the session after the talk about my Mum not believing what I had told her about her brother-in-law. A Pandora’s Box indeed. I should have kept my mouth shut – the next few weeks are, I suspect, going to be tough.

And yet I should not have kept my mouth shut because it needs to be confronted, and in this way I am heartened too. Even though I don’t think I can do it, it is a real development. It’s only taken six months, but what’s half a year between therapist and client! 😉

The session ended with C advising me that both offices on either side of him are being renovated shortly and that as “we can’t do work of this nature with such noise”, we’ll have to have an office change. It will be the second, which is a completely cuntified state of affairs – but there is an upside to it. The building work, which is starting in two or three weeks or so, is due to last for 12 weeks. Our current therapy contract is due to end on 26 November which would mean only two more sessions, which from my point of view simply cannot happen or I’ll be straight into the bin (or the ground – who’s discriminating). But C said something like, “so we’ll have to move out during that time…”, which is an excellent statement, as it strongly infers a continuation of treatment for the foreseeable future. Certainly, he once told me before that there would be a minimum of a four-week preparation period prior to any cessation of therapy, and very clearly that has not come to pass, but whatever way he phrased his words it sounded like he still expects to see me back in the current office when the work is over, so that’s a decent extension to the current timeframe.

What I expected to be a reasonably short post has turned into my usual 2,800 word bullshit. I see, reading back, a lot of pontificating about words and language. More avoidance?! Anyway, I’m going to bed. Goodnight, dearest readers.

* I’ll blog on this in a future post. Suffice to say, I saw MMcF’s husband the other week and he really is a pathetic shadow of his former self which, for the benefit of his great-grandchildren at least, is a most beneficial state of affairs.

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The Beauty of Blood

Posted in Moods, Random Mental Health Related Philosophising, Triggers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, 28 October, 2009 by Pandora

I have been incredibly good recently and haven’t self-harmed for about a fortnight. That’s good going for me since May.

That does not mean it isn’t on my mind, though. I think about it almost all the time – well, either self-harm or suicide. As things stand right now, it isn’t about feeling pain, or distracting myself from the mental agony of a severe mixed state or whatever. It is about a desire to watch the blood. The beautiful, dark, flowing krovvy.

A lot of other cutters get this, but I’m not sure normals do, or frankly ever will. At least in part that’s probably because it’s so difficult to articulate why watching your own self-inflicted wounds bleed has such ethereal beauty.

One argument is that it’s like watching the psychological pain flow away, however temporarily. However, when that pain can be contained (as in my present case), I’m not sure to what extent that point of view is applicable.

I think – for me, at present – it’s symbolic in a different sort of way. It’s such a perfect delight at the time because, by average societal standards, it is a dark and forbidden pursuit in which to engage. Enjoying it, wanting it – nay, needing it, at times – that’s “bad”, right? Yet it isn’t when you’re me.

It is beautiful because it’s representative of the darkness that inhabits me, and becomes a temporary acceptance that it might just be OK to be so internally flawed. That my ‘real’ being, with all her twisted, gruesome little thoughts, might just be, in some sense, a beautiful persona.

Of course the effect is, as stated, temporary, and the endorphins that (presumably) create this illusion leave after a short while, and you feel all the more fetid and grotesque looking at the scars that scatter your body.

But in that one glorious moment, it seems worth it.


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