Archive for trauma

Article of the Week: Week 1

Posted in Article of the Week, Mental Health Diagnoses, psychiatry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, 6 January, 2010 by Pandora

I’ve decided to undertake a new venture for a new year.  Whilst I feel very lucky that so many people enjoy this blog (why?!), I also thought it would be good if I could make it of some use too by sharing some of the most interesting psychiatry and psychology articles I come across through my travels on teh interwebs.  To that end, every Wednesday where possible, I shall put up my Article of the Week.

Article of the Week

The first is from Current Psychiatry, who have an excellent article on the differences between borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder.

There’s an analysis of the overlapping symptoms, a look at what is different between the two illnesses, and possible reasons as to why one illness is often misdiagnosed as the other.  The article also points out that there is, genuinely, a high correlation of co-morbid BPD and bipolar disorder (especially type II), nodding at the possible biology underpinning both conditions.

A slight warning: some of this stuff is technical (well, it is for psychiatrists!), but if that doesn’t faze you, this is a very insightful article.

Borderline, Bipolar or Both?  Frame Your Diagnosis on the Patient History.

Honourable Mentions

A mention too to Kathy Broady at Discussing Dissociation, who writes a moving post on the hopelessness and despair felt by those who have been affected by psychological trauma.  She also advises on how to combat these feelings.

Hopelessness and Despair

The Canadian Globe and Mail asks whether or not psychiatrists and therapists have their own significant mental health difficulties.  The author says at one point that she has wondered if her therapist has, and I can certainly confirm that I too have made the same mental queries.

The Secret Life of Psychiatrists

Finally, Psychiatric Times posted a decent entry on how therapists and psychiatrists can end the therapeutic relationship with minimum disruption to the patient’s well-being (maybe C should read this).

Psychiatric Abandonment: Pitfalls and Prevention

Any Suggestions?

I find most of these articles via interesting links from Twitter, as well as my own explorations.  If you want to suggest an article for inclusion here, I’d be delighted.  I can be contacted in a variety of ways, or you can simply leave a comment here.

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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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Posted in Context, Everyday Life, Moods with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Saturday, 26 December, 2009 by Pandora

…has been fucking awful. I had a complete psychotic break on Christmas Night after the stress of engaging with the MMcFs (and in particular Paedo) all day and heard ‘They’ telling me to kill MW. Obvioulsly I didn’t. I also told A, apparently believing completely, that ScumFan was a drug-dealer (he’s not) and that A was actually his sister in disguise (!).

Boxing Day has been a fucking nightmare too, though on a lesser scale. But the psychoses of last night are what matters. It is time to be hospitalised.

‘They’ told me that smothering MW would be “a mercy”. Maybe or maybe not, the very thought of harming him is beyond contempt.

Enough is enough.

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Christmas Mourning

Posted in Context, Everyday Life, Moods, Triggers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, 2 December, 2009 by Pandora

I alluded briefly to the fact that I find Christmas a profoundly difficult time of year the other week.  I have hated the day and all its build-up since, I would guess, my early teens.

I still do, and I rationalise it on the grounds that it is a commercialised load of crap borne purely out of capitalist greed and people’s insatiable desire to get completely wasted with apparent impunity.  But as with seemingly everything in my existence, nothing is quite as simple as pure rationality.

I wouldn’t have seen a deeper side to my dislike of the festive season but for some weird behaviour that’s developed over the last couple of years, that I would say correlates roughly with the development of borderline tendencies in my psyche and behaviour.  I have found myself uncharacteristically emotional over ‘cute’ images or statues of Santas or snowmen, feeling sorry for them (?!) to the point of tears.  The odd sentimental Christmas song will do it too.  Anything, I suppose, that is a non-tacky or potentially ‘sweet’ way of communicating how supposedly special the occasion is meant to be can bring this ridiculous behaviour.

Last night I ended up in tears because I ‘felt sorry’ for Christmas because I had ‘rejected’ it for so many years*.  It was triggered by a cinnamon candle which smelt ‘Christmassy’.  What a complete and utter moron of complete imbecility I am.  Who does this?!

A discussion with A ensued when he enquired as to why I was upset about rejecting Christmas given that I hate Christmas.  I have developed two armchair psychological theories for both the hatred and the development of this over-emotional nonsense.

  1. The most obvious theory is that I associate the entire season with the McFs and, specifically, the fact that I have to see PaedoMcF (as he shall, I think, henceforth be known on this blog).  I spent, as I recall, every Christmas with them until I was about 21, and once I’d reached adolescence, gone through the rape, grown increasingly contemptuous of my family, I began to dread and dislike the season more and more.  It’s not just about Paedo; MMcF is overbearing too, as is the entire group dynamic that permeates the culture in which they live.  One way or another, they are at least partly responsible for my dislike of December.
  2. There is a deeper thread to this; it’s clearly about abandonment by both my father and then my subsequent surrogate father-figures.  Part of the sadness is pathetically (in the original sense) childlike – it’s like a little girl weeping because she knows she’ll yet again be rejected.  Thus, she has to reject all circumstances surrounding that rejection first.  Except that it’s not that simple, because it eventually comes back to haunt her.  Eugh.  Fuck you, V.

Yes.  Christmas is, in part at least, supposed to be about families – about parental love and a parent’s desire to see their child happy, the pleasure and joy the parent takes from seeing the child’s delight in receiving that for which she has so fervently longed all year.  I only ever had 50% of that.  My poor mother, dear love her, tried her best to make up the deficit, and I suppose on the face of things that seemed to be enough…but it wasn’t really, was it?

In the absence of my actual father, I built my grandfather into the supreme male figure in my life.  However, his senility began in my earlier teenage years, and he finally succumbed and died when I was 15.  None of that is his fault, of course (I mean, of course!!!), but it could still be considered abandonment by the deepest, undeveloped corners of my psyche, those dark recesses that have still failed to develop healthy object relations.

If I’m completed honest, I probably had allowed Paedo to be a semi-father figure too, but sadly he chose to violate the sanctity of that relationship.

When I was about eight, my mother met and fell in love with B.  Although B and I didn’t always get along perfectly (how dare he ingratiate himself into my life in the place of my father?), I got used to him being there and was stunned when he died very suddenly and unexpectedly just before my 11th birthday (which is not that terribly long before the accursed Christmas).

So yeah.  Christmas must remind me of childhood abandonment.  No waking up at 5am on Christmas morning and dragging Daddy out of bed to see the joy on his daughter’s face.  Only ever futile hope that maybe one day he might care enough to at least call me to say, “happy Christmas darling,” only ever futile hope that maybe one day he might care enough to even send a cheap card.  And now he is gone permanently, as to all intents and purposes are those that ‘replaced’ him, and that hope is lost and gone forever.

Anyway, I relayed this information to A last night, and then just sat and cried for a while.  My overwhelming feeling was of grief.  Grief.  This, and all these apparent projections, kind of affirm my belief from the other week that I am in mourning for the little girl that was in many ways denied her childhood.

A thinks the fact that I am feeling this and indeed even recognising it is progress, and I suppose in an objective sort of way it is, but the pain is raw and lately I feel horribly vulnerable and weepy all the time.  I am not looking forward to the next few weeks.

For the record, I still hold to the logical arguments against Christmas – the drunken revelry, the crowds and the commercialisation of a festival that, by rights, is applicable only to Christians (regardless of the fact that 25 December was originally a Pagan festival) does annoy me.  But I don’t think that is, in itself, enough to explain a feeling much stronger than ‘bah, humbug’.

* Although the smell of the candle was the main trigger, I was in something of a fragile mental state yesterday anyway; I’d had a minor car accident (my own stupid fault), I’d had a minor operation with LGP (a lump removal) and, most of all, I’d learnt something horrific from A.  On the night of the Sunday 22 November, a point at which I’d thought the psychoses had died down a little and that my moods had regulated somewhat thanks to the Olanzapine, apparently ‘They’ answered the phone when I tried to call the local Chinese take-away.  When A protested that ‘They’ weren’t there, apparently I went off my head at him, screaming and behaving like a wild woman.  I have absolutely no recollection of this whatsoever, though it must have been the night I made the ‘Bitch’ cut, because I discovered that on the Monday.  I was horrified because (a) it’s just plain nasty to A, (b) ‘They’ had always previously been in my head, not outside it – this is a bad ‘progression’ and (c) the amnesiac properties of this incident are frankly terrifying; who knows what could have happened that I wouldn’t later recall?

Admittedly, we had been drinking that night, but I remember very disctinctly phoning the Chinese the first time, then I recall nothing until later, when I was trying to get A to come to bed rather than sleep on the sofa.  Again, my recollection of this is distinct, so I don’t think the amnesia is alcohol-induced; it sounds like a dissociative episode to me.

On the plus side, when I saw Lovely GP yesterday I said that although I thought the Olanzapine had been,overall, a good thing, that the return to 75mg of Venlafaxine had hit me hard.  LGP told me to go ahead and start taking 150mg again.  He said that if VCB objects I am “to send her to [him] and [he] will take care of her.”  Love LGP.

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Signs of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Posted in Context, Moods with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, 21 October, 2009 by Pandora

I found this insightful (if concise) article via Twitter today. I was utterly astounded by how much of it describes my behaviour after my uncle raped me when I was about 10.

I don’t really fancy getting into the ins and outs of the incident at the minute, though I’ll explore it more in a future post.  For now, though, these are the paragraphs that resonated so strongly with me:

The most common symptom for children is sleep disturbance or more specifically nightmares.  They don’t seem to be able to be explicit in describing what is happening in their dreams but they do know that “it is bad.”  Children that have been abused have advanced knowledge beyond their years about sex and they often act very seductive or sexually inappropriate around adults.  They are usually angry and either will cry or they are aggressive towards younger children without exactly knowing why they are behaving in that manner.  Often times in younger children they  display regressed behaviors, such as talking like a baby or they start wetting the bed.  In older children, they will often begin finding places in the house in which to touch themselves or masturbate.

Other symptoms that may be present are self-mutilation, usually seen in older children, lying or stealing, sudden changes in behavior, running away from home, eating disorders*, excessive fears, drugs/alcohol**, or threatening to kill themselves. There is no one sign/symptom or behavior that is proof that a child has been sexually abused, however these are some key symptoms for parents to look for to help them determine if abuse has occurred.  As always, a professional whether it is a pediatrician, psychiatrist, or a mental health professional should be consulted in order to assist with the behavioral/emotional symptoms that are being displayed.

(c) Tara Tamanini, Kid Awareness Series

The italics are mine, denoting signs that I exhibited.

* -ish.  I often behaved in a psuedo-bulimic fashion, throwing up my food for no reason other than not wanting to gain more weight.  But not often enough, I think, to actually be considered to have that illness.

** I started drinking when I was very young – perhaps 12.  No drugs, though.

As I’ve stated several times before, I think very little about my late childhood and early adolescence, but this brings back a lot.  Whilst recognising objectively that I have no reason to feel to blame, I am so horribly ashamed nevertheless.

Ashamed that I flirted with anyone, especially him, ashamed that it was seemingly a catalyst for my fairly early sexual self-explorations, ashamed that I lied and stole at times, ashamed of my aggression (which still hasn’t gone away), ashamed that I ever let any of it happen.

It makes my fucking skin crawl.  But I am glad I found this article.  As long-term readers of this blog know, I’ve been quite neurotic about MW, my uncle’s great-grandson.  This is now especially troubling as MW’s mother, SL, is due to have her second child in early 2010. Whilst I am terribly concerned for MW and any future brothers he may have, I’m pathologically terrified that SL will have a daughter.

I know that child sex abuse is not really so much about the perpetrator’s sexual orientation as about the fact the victims are children, and, of course, about the perpetrator’s power (as is the case in any instance of sexual abuse).  Nevertheless, although I certainly wouldn’t rule out the possibility that he would act inappropriately towards a male child, I am (perhaps irrationally) terrified that a female is at an even greater risk.

Whilst obviously this article is short and therefore far from definitive, it is a half-decent start.  The problem is, without ruining the family and potentially putting the children in further risk, what can be done before he touches any of them up?  All of these signs are reflective – ie. something will already had to have happened for anyone to recognise them.  For very obvious reasons, I’d rather pre-empt any abuse.

A thinks it’s unlikely that anything is likely to happen. MMcF’s husband is getting on in life, I’ve seen no evidence that any of the other generations have been effected and, due to his medication, he is exhausted and sleepy all the time. I can appreciate that it’s unlikely, at a rational level.  But is that enough?  ‘Unlikely’, almost by definition, is suggestive that there is still a possibility.  And that’s what scares the fuck out of me.

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