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

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Upon Exiting – Early Morning Panic

Friday morning and I’m up early, early, ridiculously early. Apparently our water supply is due to be switched off at 9 am, so anyone wanting to be reasonably clean today needs to perform their (hopefully) daily cleansing ritual before then.

But that’s not the only reason I’m up. No. Of course not. That would be far too simple. No, I’m up since my brain has decided to go into overdrive and repeat thoughts of Therapy Crash at break-neck speed.

Saw A. at the old place for the last time yesterday. It was re-scheduled from today, to – I assume – accommodate The Move. Session went reasonably well, but all through it I kept glancing over at the half-empty bookshelf next to me. For some reason it really got to me, really unsettled me. You see, to me there is nothing that spells The End like the boxing up of books.

I wasn’t born with that nesting gene that so many women seem to be blessed with. I’m not great at creating a cosy atmosphere or a tranquil ambience (or whatever they call it these days). I use books to decorate. Pile ’em up ceiling high, allowing them to cover the walls, fill the window sills and stand to attention on the mantle piece.

Thus, seeing three empty shelves at the bottom of the case in A.’s room, well, it freaked me out. Something like “If the books are going, then the move is happening for sure”. (In all honesty those bottom shelves are usually occupied by randomly stacked camera boxes and folders – but the gaping emptiness of the shelves still created that sense of lacking in books).

I did try to talk to A. about it, but, as often happens – I just couldn’t really get to the feelings in the moment. I knew they were there. Only the words needed to express them weren’t. So all I really said was “The half-empty book case unsettles me”. A. then asked Can you say more? This classic phrase has recently become her favourite way of prompting me, and ‘though I don’t like to admit it, I have to say that I like it. Something about the way she says it manages to acknowledge that talking about feelings isn’t easy for me, and a gentle nudge feels like welcome support.

Only, in this case I couldn’t say more. I said a few things, but, really – they were lacklustre and bland and didn’t at all get to the depth of fear that this move stirs in me.

So, instead I am now sitting in my room, much too early for any sane person to be up, panicking over the doom that this move must certainly spell.

Leaving A.’s flat for what was inevitably and frighteningly the last time, walking out of the door, kissing the mezuzah as I went, that’s when all those feelings suddenly washed over me.

I’m not coming back here. Anything could happen.

And that’s the mode I’m stuck in.

Frightening stuff. Many deep breaths needed.
Happy thoughts, happy thoughts.

Heeeeeeelp!

xx

PS. Didn’t wish A. a happy move before I left, and I feel really bad about the subconscious implications that could be read into that. Contemplating sending her a text now to make up for it. How neurotic am I? Double panic!

Question Marks & Exclamation Points

A. is moving. And though I’ve known ever since she initially told me about the move that I’ll be moving with her, it’s still stressing me out. I know it doesn’t quite make sense, but even that tiny change is rather unsettling to me. The last few sessions the pile of moving boxes in the narrow hallway has grown, and something about it really gets to me. I guess it creates something of a dent in the constant that I want therapy to be.

Adult Me knows that going to a new place won’t really change the therapy or my relationship with A., and that in a few sessions’ time at the new place, it will be absolutely fine. And yet Little S is reacting to this change as were it the onset of the apocalypse.

And I wonder why.

I have a few layman’s theories. Or, two, at least.
The first is that this could be a perceived echo of the fear I may have experienced as a baby, being brought from India to Sweden at the age of six months. A sort of non-accessible memory or fear being triggered by A.’s move. The second theory is also childhood related. It goes as follows: Despite the fact that as a child I was fortunate enough to to grow up in a single home, for a variety of reasons I didn’t form strong enough attachments to my parents to feel that the ties to them were secure, safe and permanent. (Or, as A. typically puts it: I didn’t experience the relationship to my parents as being unconditional.) Therefore it follows that since I, even in a reasonably constant home environment, felt that important relationships could easily break down or even be destroyed, the prospect of an actual move (as is the case with A.) becomes all the more frightening. And I panic.

Of course it’s impossible to know for sure why we react in a certain way, but I do find it helpful to at least consider the different possible reasons. Trying to understand how past experiences may influence us in the here-and-now might not actually change the way we react, but if we can see some sort of underlying reason, it may make it easier to accept the way we feel as something natural. (As opposed to telling ourselves that we ought to be able to control ourselves and our emotional responses, something which tends to be neither helpful nor productive).

Also, I have to admit that I generally find it easier to live with exclamation points than question marks. Even if the exclamation points are somewhat crooked..

All the very best and more,

xx

PS. Winter Olympics rocks. Why can’t people in this silly country getthat? Ice-hockey, figure skating, half-pipe, ski cross, Super G. Ultra-funky stuff. Sincerely.