Scaffolding

I was supposed to be dead by now.

It feels kind of strange to write it, but it is true, nonetheless. A little over four weeks ago was when it was supposed to happen. I had booked the hotel room where I was going to go to, to end my life. I had everything I needed to do it. I was completely at peace with the idea of going through with it, felt satisfied that I had tried my very hardest to get onto a different path. There was only One Last Thing I needed to do before setting my plan in motion. Except chance intervened and stopped me from being able to do that One Last Thing, and there was no way I could go ahead with ending my life without that.

So, instead I ended up going another round at Drayton Park Women’s Crisis Centre. I was offered a place, having initially been turned down for it, as I was deemed too high risk to be safely contained there. Nothing had really changed between the time I was initially assessed and when I eventually took up a place, but, I banked on my good personal credit that if I made an absolute promise that I would not act to end my life as long as I was staying in the house, staff would trust me enough to let me have a place. As long-term followers of this blog will be aware, I made a very serious attempt at ending my life the very first time I stayed at Drayton many years ago, and ever since then I have developed a rather special relationship both with the staff and with the place itself. It has been a go-to place for me in times of real crisis, a place to sort out my feelings, to create space for myself without having to worry about anyone else, somewhere I feel safe enough to really stay with myself, if that makes sense.

This time was very different. Not because the above things were no longer true – they still were – but because in complete contrast to all other times I have gone there, this time I went into Drayton Park with absolutely no belief whatsoever that anything was going to change while I was staying there. The reasons for wanting to end my life were – and still are – things that could not change through short term crisis intervention. But, I decided to take up a place at Drayton Park, in spite of this. I went there in part because I wanted my loved ones to know that I hadn’t just given up without one last fight, and partly to buy myself time, because as much as I didn’t believe that anything would really change, I also accepted that I haven’t got a telescope to the future, and consequently couldn’t know for sure that I wouldn’t be proven wrong. And I desperately wanted to be proven wrong. I desperately wanted something to change.

A number of big things happened during my time at Drayton Park.
Firstly, counselling with Z. came to an end on the day I took up residence. Secondly, I made a decision that long term therapy with A. will have to come to an end after more than four and a half years of working together. A. made it very clear to me earlier in the year that she is not able to work with me under the threat of suicide, and as I am someone who simply will not make a promise I don’t know I can keep, the only fair thing to do was to set an end date to therapy. Finally, in the last few weeks I have been under assessment of the personality disorder services to see whether or not I should be offered a place with them. I have had very mixed feelings about this from day one, have very little hope that there really is anything in it for me, but again, I try to keep an open mind rather than closing doors.

With all of these things going on, and feeling completely stripped of any hope that there truly is anything out there that could change how I feel about ending my life, I decided to use my time at Drayton Park to go against what my heart was telling me – a very foreign concept to me. To hold on, rather than to let go.

I spent my three weeks at Drayton Park actively putting up scaffolding around my life, in spite of the very real and painful belief that it was utterly futile to do so.

I put scaffolding up by carrying on with the assessment process with the personality disorder services, even though I was reasonably certain that neither DBT nor MBT were really for me, that I don’t quite fit the bill. More scaffolding went up by re-arranging the end date with A.; it has now been planned so that rather than going from twice weekly therapy to nothing from one day to the next – which was the original idea, and which on reflection felt unnecessarily harsh – we will instead carry on with twice weekly sessions until A. goes on her Chrismukkah break later this week, and then go on to do one month of weekly sessions at the beginning of next year to allow for a tapered, more emotionally gentle, ending. Further scaffolding was created by contacting Z. and asking her and her supervisor to have a think about who they might be able to refer me to, for longer term trauma focused work. Someone who might be willing to work with me, knowing what the full situation is, in terms of suicidal ideation.

I also threw myself into expressing myself through writing, taking part in two creative writing workshops facilitated by the most fabulous Leah Thorn, and was able to share some of my feelings about life and death at a poetry reading during the annual Open Day, which happened to be held during my stay at Drayton Park. [Click here to read one of the poems I read that day].

I was discharged from Drayton Park a week ago today.
I don’t feel any different in terms of wanting to allow my very tired soul to rest. I wish I did, but I just don’t.

However, I am carrying on with the building work I started while at Drayton Park: I am working with the crisis resolution team to have some extra support for the first few weeks of being back home. The extended assessment with the personality disorder people has come to an end. In the only way the NHS knows how an Expert was brought in [in the shape of a clinical psychiatrist I had never met before in my life] to try figure out what the heck to do with me. It was ultimately decided that I was probably right: I don’t quite fit the bill and neither DBT nor MBT is going to be particularly suitable for me. However, although I won’t be enrolled on the personality disorder programme with all that that would have entailed, I have been given a care co-ordinator [henceforth called E.], who I will be meeting with somewhat regularly, to have someone within the blessed NHS who knows me and who I can turn to in a crisis.

Z.’s supervisor also got back to me with a name for a specific psychotherapist who she felt might be a very good match for me for long term work, and I will be having an initial consultation with her tomorrow to see if her gut feeling proves right. Although I don’t necessarily feel that even this type of work will really have the power to change anything, I am trying my best once again to at least be open to the possibility that it could have something to offer – and – for a naturally analytically minded person such as myself, at least this type of therapy [trauma work with an experienced attachment based psychoanalytic psychotherapist] makes far better sense than either DBT or MBT.

In my therapy with A. I have tried to be brave and really explore what this big change, this ending of our work together, means to me, and how it makes me feel, the deep sadness it brings out in me. It’s not easy, but I am hoping that through being as open and honest about my feelings as I can, it will make for a more manageable ending.

So, that – dear readers – is where I am at:
In the process of building something that may or may not stand the test of time.

I do hope that it will, but right now, it is simply too soon to tell.

 

Much love,

 

xx

Cinderella Wolf – A Poem

A drawing Little S drew on a night she feltvery sad and lonely and wanted to let her sorrow out

A drawing Little S drew on a night she felt
very sad and lonely and wanted to let her sorrow out

I am the Cinderella wolf
cast out by my pack.
A loner, I run wild
in a forest
of blackest black.

The northern lights above me,
a curtain of greens and purples and blues.
I run fast
I run free
a she wolf with nothing to lose.

The Huntress has lit a fire
its flames flickering between the trees.
An age-old sign of her desire:
to capture,
to kill,
to bring me to my knees.

Ice cold and sharp underfoot
the snow plays an important role;
Reflecting the shimmering moonlight,
a mirror to my tired soul.

Beautifully sharp and deliciously painful
it breaks
with each step
of my stride.
The sound of its breaking
is scary
and echoes
as far as heaven is wide.

The Huntress listens intently
as I move through the still of the night
Her rifle resting beside her,
still unable to catch me by sight.

I know I should just keep quiet,
but my voice needs to sing,
needs to fly
So against my better judgement
I stop
and I stretch
and I cry

My howl instantly gives me away
and the Huntress gets to her feet
Her rifle now at the ready
– our destinies finally meet.

But something stirs inside her;
the pain my voice has laid bare.
is a feeling she too has known of,
And something we both now must share.

So laying down her weapon,
The Huntress falls to her knees
And joins in my desperate prayer
for stillness
and for peace.

                               xx

 

A poem I read at this year’s Open Day at Drayton Park Women’s Crisis Centre. The rhythm of this poem, and the rhyming, is purposely off-set and slightly haltering, because when read out loud I wanted it to be a little like a wounded animal, limping. Apologies for the poor sound quality and background noise in the video, may post a proper sound file at a later time.

Pregnancies, Therapy Breaks & A Possible Bin Liner

First post of the new year. Can’t believe it’s taken me this long!

So what has the new year been like this far? Well, ups and downs. And lots of them. On the one hand there are some really good things happening in my life, although as per usual I am finding it hard to entirely trust it that it will last. On the other hand there is a lot of unrest, especially surrounding A.’s impending maternity leave, which is really stressing me out in a big way.

Over our two week Chrismukah break I did struggle, although I struggled more in week one than in week two. I think had there not been an impending longer break round the corner, this break would not have been quite so bad; most of my freak-outs over this period were connected with the knowledge that I have this massive break ahead of me.

A. is now back, and therapy has resumed for the time being. Of course there is no knowing exactly how much longer I will be seeing her before she goes on leave, adding another prickly little layer to an already exceptionally difficult situation. As much as I appreciate being able to go to therapy, I do feel ultra-aware that each session I have is another step closer to the time when I won’t be having them, and I really don’t know how I am going to cope for such a long time. Also, A. looking like she is about to pop at any given moment makes it entirely impossible to do what I usually do prior to an upcoming break; going into solid denial in true ostrich style and pretend it’s not going to happen..

For better or for worse, A. and her ever growing bump completely takes that option away. It also makes me have to think about how badly I want children and leaves me unable to shield myself from the fear that that may never happen.. At least as long as A. is still working, I can talk about all of this [to whatever extent I feel able to].. Once she goes off, I’ll still have all those feelings, but I’ll have lost my safe place to talk about it. On top of the stuff I always deal with during a break, I’ll be left with all the feelings A.’s (and other women’s) pregnancies have brought out. I genuinely hate this non-pregnant state I’m in with a passion, and having all these emotional triggers around can be really really painful. Sometimes I feel convinced that there must be a correlation between how badly you want a child and the number of people around you becoming pregnant. Like a cruel joke on the less fertile ones among us.. I know that’s not really the case, but it sure feels like it sometimes. So, I’m under no illusions that this break is going to be anything other than excruciatingly challenging.

On to something a little more positive..
I wrote in a previous post about the need to find something to help contain my emotions during this break, and the worry at not knowing what that might be. And then one morning it just hit me – and please don’t ask how it could possibly have taken so long to come up with something so utterly obvious.. Of course, the thing that could best help me get through the break is – ta-dah! –WRITING! Partly here on the blog, which I have come to realise is the closest thing I get to therapy outside of actual therapy; it’s a space where I can express whatever I want without having to censor myself for the sake of other people. Blogging also has that key therapeutic quality of allowing me to feel heard, through the comments you post and the emails you send. So, please, do keep ’em coming; they really mean a lot to me. Your comments and emails are what makes blogging different to journaling. I suppose you could say that journaling is communicating your emotions for inward reflection, in a completely private way, whereas blogging is communicating outwardly, to tell the outside world what’s going on. And your comments help me feel heard and also give me a variety of perspectives on whatever I happen to be going through.

So, journaling and blogging are two ways to keep me going. But, of course, they are both things that I am already doing, and – as regular readers will be aware – this is not necessarily enough for me to not dip in that rather extreme way I sometimes do. The other way I’ve come up with is to push myself to get back into doing some proper writing. In the past few years I’ve been suffering from a writer’s block of gargantuan proportion, having not really done any real writing at all. Yes, the odd poetry reading, a few bits and pieces here and there, but nothing I would call real writing, only faffing. Fair enough, it’s at times been very useful faffing, but it’s simply not been as emotionally and spiritually consuming as the kind of thing I experience when I’m really writing.

Thus, my brief for myself in the coming several months, is to push myself to take my writing more seriously and to really work hard at it. Not just to do a bit here and there as the wind happens to blow, but to really dedicate some serious time to doing it.

I’ve already started on something, which – naturally – could turn out to be nothing, but at the moment it feels pretty good. I’m not going to go into detail in terms of what exactly I’m writing about, but it feels like it could potentially turn out to be something reasonably readworthy.

I’m sticking to the age-old rule of Write About What You Know, but without making it autobiographic. Of course, there is bound to be a lot of me in what I write, that’s the nature of writing,; the author’s voice will always be there somewhere in the background, spread out in between the written words, but it’s not my story I’m writing, it’s fiction. Or, as I like to call it; semi-fictive storytelling.

And that is what makes writing so exciting for me. That, while what I’m writing is based on what I know, I also have the complete freedom of inventing this whole parallel universe, where anything could happen. And even though the things I write about tend to be fairly ordinary; about how everyday people form relationships and how they relate to one another and so on, it is still all coming out of my own imagination. I always think of writing as the introvert’s opportunity to be a great actor, because, in order to write about people and relationships, you need to put yourself in their place, you need to get into their head and look at the world through their eyes, so that when you’re writing, what ends up on the page isn’t fifteen versions of yourself, but something that feels authentic and congruent for each one of the characters.

Now, of course I am aware that writing also is a form of escapism, a way to get away from my own reality.
I know this. You know this. But, surely, a bit of escapism is a far healthier option to getting those scalpels out, in a bid to get away from what I really can’t get away from?

So, there you are; a possible bin liner.

Do wish me luck.

I may need it.

All the very best and more,

xx

PS. I’m receiving a ridiculous amount of spam comments on some of my posts, and so I’ve password protected them. If you would like to have the password, feel free to drop me an email. I have no idea if the password thing will help with the spam, if it doesn’t I’ll take the protection off, but for the time being it will stay there.

Another Day, Another Blessing – Writing Myself Out Of A Phunk

Another day, another smile. Another blessing. Met up with a friend at a café yesterday, and it was great, as always. I have this café which has become The Café, the one where I usually meet with my friends. And it’s kind of nice. I know the place, the staff, the menu. Very reassuring.

Woke up on Sunday, a day which was ridiculously sunny, and I though, let’s do something nice today. So I decided to try to organise a little get-together for the women from my poetry group. We last met as a group at the reading back in December. We’re overdue a meet. Said and done. Got my phone out and sent a mass-text out, suggesting we meet up. But as soon as I had done that, that little negative voice in my head started making itself heard, and I almost immediately decided that it had been a silly thing to do. People won’t want to meet up, they’ll think I’m being pushy, they’ll have forgotten who I am altogether.

Thankfully the anxiety levels didn’t have time to rise too high before I had the first text back, in the affirmative. Then I had another. And another. Great! People want to meet up, they don’t think I’m pushy – and most importantly – they do remember me.

Next step was figuring out a time and place. Well, a time, at least. The place was basically a given, since most of these women will have shared a hot chocolate with me at The Café at least once before, so it made sense to keep it simple. Time was a bit trickier. As it always is when it comes to finding a time that will suit as many as possible, but after some fiddling and a few phone calls to a few people a time was agreed; next Sunday, early afternoon. Works perfectly for me since I’m basically incommunicado over FriSat, closing down for shabbat and also taking some proper me-time. So meeting up with friends the day after, once I re-connect my various devices, is always nice.

Finished the Maroda book this morning. And as always, it was with a slight feeling of loss. I absolutely love reading books that make me think, both on a more general level, but also to reflect on my own personal situation, and this book certainly did that for me.

As I’m writing this, I realise that this doesn’t feel like a real blog entry. It’s a bit too positive. And, in all honesty, up until I sat down to write this, I really wasn’t feeling all that up-beat; feeling a bit caught up in some sort of greyness, clouding my thoughts in quite a bad way.

But hey, if it works, it works.

Be good and well.

xx

Beryl Markham

When I was little I was Beryl Markham
Or Amelia Earhart
Sometimes even Amy, Wonderful Amy

I opened my mind, like I opened my window
And just flew

I flew my plane over the African plains
Over snow-covered Mount Kilimanjaro
Close, so close, to the Victoria Falls

Hour after hour, day into night
I flew and flew and flew

Away from you..
..and the things you made me do

xx

PS. This poem, I have subsequently discovered, has now been printed on the wall at the Drayton Park Women’s Crisis Centre, only they’ve chosen to leave the final two lines off. Kind of changes the poem into something completely different. You be the judge.

Poetry, Mourning & High Temperatures

“..it feels good, it feels like poetry.. don’t ask me to explain.. it just feels good.. like poetry..”

Those are some of my favourite lines of lyrics. From Heather Nova’s Doubled Up off her absolutely divine 1993 Oyster album. Had to squeeze that in somewhere, so why not at the very beginning of my entry? It may or may not be entirely unrelated to the rest of this entry, but it is never irrelevant..

I know I’m doing a bit of update overload at the moment. A bit like the notorious London busses; first you wait and wait and no bus comes, and then there are three arriving at once. The Heinz effect, if you like.

Anyway, on with my update.

Yesterday I came down with what can only be described as a psychosomatic fever. Some people have a digestive system which is finely tuned to pick up on emotional stress. Me, I get a temperature.

I think I’m having a delayed reaction to Dev and I separating.
Yes, I am well aware that it’s over a year since we actually split up and that we haven’t been co-habiting for eleven months. This is why I added the part about a delayed reaction. But, in fairness to myself, there have been things going on lately which have brought these barely repressed emotions to the forefront; these last few weeks I have been helping Dev pack his stuff up, and on Thursday he actually moved out of what was once our flat.

I don’t – at least not on a conscious level – feel particularly concerned about losing Dev. I feel reasonably confident that he won’t just slip out of my life. I base this on the person that he is.

But I do mourn the loss of The Flat.

That may on the surface seem terribly shallow, but it really isn’t.

Moving into that flat was something very special. It wasn’t the first flat Dev and I shared, we’d already been together for about three years by the time we moved there. But, it did involve rather a large amount of trust. You see, I hadn’t seen the flat before moving in there. Dev viewed it on his own, because I couldn’t get away from work, and he just called me up to tell me he’d found The Flat. We decided to put a bid in then and there, and having won said bid I signed on the dotted without even having seen the place. Still, walking through the door for the first time, I knew Dev had been right; it really was The Flat.

We shared some pretty amazing moments in that flat. Long weekends when he’d be on his computer at one end of the room, programming or writing music, and I’d be on mine by the opposite wall, writing. Free-flowing creative moments mixed with a lot of laughter. (..you left me a song..)

But we also experienced some serious lows at that place.
Those of you who have been along for the ride, even at a distance, know what I am talking about. And so, even after Dev and I separated, that flat held memories that I was still dealing with.

Dev, being the incredibly generous person that he is, has, ever since I moved out, allowed me to keep a piece of myself at that flat, has allowed me to come back from time to time to look at it. To remember. To heal. And to begin to let go.

But now, even though Dev, I suspect and hope, will remain a very important person in my life, The Flat is gone. And, so I mourn. Only I am not good at giving myself permission to do so, and, instead, my sorrow is expressed in the form of a temperature.

But..

“..it feels good, it feels like poetry.. don’t ask me to explain.. it just feels good.. like poetry..”

 

xx

Lyrics from Doubled Up © Heather Nova

Freestyling R D Laing – A Poem In Knots (But Not So Much In Knots As R D Laing’s Knots)

He likes my blog
Therefore I like him
She doesn’t like my blog
Therefore I don’t like her

Because he likes my blog
He must be interested in me
Because she doesn’t like my blog
She must not be interested in me

He is upset with her
because she is not interested in me
because she doesn’t like my blog
when he likes my blog

She is upset with him
because he is interested in me
because he likes my blog
when she doesn’t like my blog

I love him
Because he is interested in me
Because he likes my blog

I hate her
Because she isn’t interested in me
Because she doesn’t like my blog

She hates me for loving him
because he is interested in me
because he likes my blog

He hates her for hating me
for loving him
because he is interested in me
because he likes my blog

In anger
she goes away
to write
a freestyle poem
based on
Ecrits
Even though
neither he
nor she
is interested in
nor
remotely understand
Lacan.

xx

Recipe For A Good Therapy – An Entry About Finding The Right Ingredients

I’ve been seeing A. for a couple of weeks now, although it feels like much longer. Maybe that’s because I’ve been seeing her twice weekly, I don’t know. What I do know is that the twice weekly format seems to suit me, as does A. Or, rather, two sessions a week suit me because I think A. suits me.

It all feels very different to what I was doing with B., which was essentially going there each week more or less because I felt I should. With A. I go because it feels like it could lead somewhere. There’s potential. Real potential. Which is good.

But there is a whole range of emotions that have come into play since I started seeing A., not just “feeling good”. One of the most prominent feelings is in fact fear. Because of that potential I spoke of earlier this is much scarier than what my previous experience of therapy has ever been. I mean, with B. I knew that I was never ever going to go deep enough to really touch any nerves, and even with D., as well as we worked together, there was always a part of me that was acutely aware that at some point our sessions would be coming to an end, and so, in many ways that, too, felt relatively risk-free. I am sure I’d have felt differently if at the outset I’d known that I was looking to do long term therapy with D., but as that wasn’t the case, I never really felt particularly scared at the prospect of going down a path that could stir up some really difficult things.

Still, as frightening as it is, setting out on this journey, I think it will be worth it. I think that it’ll be very hard work, and, I’m guessing, at times excruciatingly painful, but I also hold firm that it is essential work; a sense that to go forward from where I’ve been I must accept that the only way out is through.

Ok, so now I’ve established that therapy is damn hard work I can move on to the lighter side of it. Because, contrary to popular belief, therapy is not all about constant hard work. It’s one of the ingredients, one of the main ingredients even, but it would make for a pretty bland soup if it were the only one.

Personally I like to stir in some humour into the concoction. I think that was one of the things that made D. and I work well together, and was also part of the reason why B. and I just never connected. So, needless to say, a sense of humour [preferably good] is something I look for in a therapist. And, thankfully, it appears A. does have that too.

Speaking of ingredients; below is a poem I wrote two weeks ago. The person who runs the creative writing group I’m part of asked us to write a poem in the format of a recipe.
It’s not the type of poetry I normally write, and not one of my favourites, but it’s a challenge to write according to a set standard.

Hope you enjoy it!

xx

Recipe for a good therapy
[Serves 2, best prepared while on the couch]

Honesty.
A big chunk of it, doused in transparency and generously seasoned with genuineness.

Courage.
More than just a little, from the strongest concentrate you’ve got. (Look deep into the cupboard of your soul to get the best you can find).

Trust.
Start with a single pearlescent grain, allow time – years if needed – for it to mature, solidify and grow.

Humour.
A bit of sunshine just around the eyes, a good laugh now and then to refuel your resolve.

And, finally:

A cupful of magic.
Self-made from scratch (not the mass-produced pre-fab supermarket variety!)

Add one by one into a large cauldron, keeping it on a frustratingly low simmer. Stir slowly, observantly, with great love and care.

Watch your life transform before you

In its own good time.

Jag Ska Måla Hela Världen Lilla Mamma – An Entry About The Joy Of Being Creative

I’ve been painting this morning. A friend of mine gave me a blank canvass for my birthday and I’m putting it to use today. I haven’t really been painting much before, at least not on canvass with real paints, so it’s something of a new hobby, but I really really like it. There’s something so pleasing about messing around with paint. The freedom of it, the way the brush glides across the canvass, the way something is being created right in front of your eyes.
And, also, it reminds me of my mother.

My mother paints, you see. Lovely watercolours. And it’s something she’s passed on to me. Not necessarily the artistic talent, which she has an abundance of – but the joy in being creative.

As a child we were allowed to – no – we were encouraged to be creative. We’d paint on the window panes of our playroom with watercolours and soap (stops the colours from running). We could paint anything we wanted. No restrictions. Mother would paint a season inspired theme on one of the windows and we’d paint on the other window.

And when it was someone’s birthday, before the party started, she’d cover our enormous kitchen table with drawing paper and draw circles in front of each place and let us draw our self-portrait before sitting down for cake. Sometimes – depending on how messy the paper was after the cake eating was over – she’d cut the self portraits out and give them to each child to take home at the end of the party.

At midsummer she’d use the big roll of drawing paper and let it run right across the kitchen floor, so that my cousin and I could make a huge “Happy Midsummer!” banner. I still remember that feeling of laying or sitting on the floor, just drawing all around me, enjoying being in the painting. When we were done she’d help us take the banner outside and staple it to the front of the house (yup, she actually used a staple gun to nail it to the outside wall of our house!) so that people driving and walking past could see our artwork.

It was never about creating something aesthetically pleasing, it was all about enjoying what you were doing and being proud of what you’d made. For example she insisted on us alwayssigning our artwork, because, no matter what, it was something we had created ourselves and so it was something no one else could have made, something to be proud of.

Unfortunately that is something we often lose as adults: the natural ability to be proud of things we have made. Rather than saying that Yes, this is something I’ve done and I rather like it we tend to quickly brush it over with an embarrassed It’s not very good, is it? Too afraid that people will think we are boasting or blowing our own trumpet, so to speak. It’s sad, really.

The last few days I’ve been working on the cover and layout for a poetry collection. I’ve been really thoroughly enjoying it – it’s been a creative outlet for me – but when the person who is running the project said I should put Cover & layout by Ssomewhere on the booklet I immediately went into Adult Mode and thought that No, I can’t do that. People will think I’m showing off. But then, yesterday, while finalising the layout I thought of my mother and how, despite all of our differences, that is something we do have in common; the joy of creating. And how, no matter how many other things were going wrong, she’d always encourage me to be proud of my art. So there it is now, on the back cover, in black and white: Cover & layout by S. Because, in actual fact it was made by me. And I am proud of it.

So, here’s to the joy of creating and letting your inner child rule the adult you every once in a while!

xx