Rebooting Is Hard To Do

So, as you may have noticed, there has been a gap in my blogging. A big one. I mean, I’ve written tons of blog posts in my head, but actually putting pen to paper – or finger to tablet, as it were, – not so much. I just couldn’t seem to get around to it. Everything felt too.. uphill.

I have been wanting to get a laptop for a long long time, in part to make blogging that little bit easier, or at least to remove some of the obstacles that made writing that little bit harder to do. But, money isn’t exactly on tap in my house, and this was a pretty darn big investment for me. So, I went back and forth for nearer to a year on which laptop to actually get. You know the dance; get the current 12” FruitBook, maybe a refurbished one, or wait for the next FruitBook Pro, suffering severe FOMO in case there was a massive spec bump, or – crazy thought – step outside of the FruitLoop altogether and save some dosh by getting something just as functional, less pricey, but also far less sexy, even though I knew what my heart truly desired? And, seriously, should I even be spending that money? What if? What if? What if? And then, late-ish last year, I was given a handwritten card from all of my Most Special People and it said: ‘It’s your birthday and we love you. We are so blessed to have you in our lives. You are Special to us, so we want you to have something Special. Stop fretting. Stop thinking. Get the new Fruity one that you know you really want!

So I did. I got Mumin. [Or Moomin, if you want to be international about her.] She’s the loveliest laptop in the world, and she has the power to remind me that I am Special and that I am Loved. Every single day.

 

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Meet Mumin                                                – the Loveliest Laptop in the World!

This wonderful gift should by rights have lead to an instant reboot of my blog. After all, that was a big reason for wanting a tappety-tap laptop in the first place. But, somehow, it just didn’t. Somehow, despite this amazing gift which reminds me that I am truly loved every time I start her up, I was still me. I was still as caught up in the throes of my everyday struggles as I had ever been, and I still couldn’t find a calm enough space inside to to sit down and write about my life. To share what was going on with you all. I absolutely wanted to. But I just couldn’t. The energy simply wasn’t there; or rather, what little there was needed to be reserved for breathing in and out all day long. And the blog laid barren and desolate, void of new content.

Then, in the last two and a bit weeks I received – I kid you not – fifty-three emails from various people around the world, people who I have never met in person, but who have in one way or another come across my blog and have been wanting to know not only where the heck I’ve disappeared to, or why the self-same heck I’ve not been updating my blog, but, have expressed a genuine and heartfelt concern about my well-being, wanting to know if I am OK, letting me know that I have been on their minds. On top of this, these people have sent tons of positive energy my way. And you all, each and every one of you, have my eternal gratitude, because those emails (and blog comments!) have really meant a lot to me. I may not have been able to reply to all of you – in fact, I know I haven’t – but just knowing that people who have never even met me, who don’t even know my name, have been wondering how I am, have been thinking of me, well, it’s kind of an amazing thing. It restores my faith in humanity. And I feel so very grateful to you. And it is time to repay you by getting back to blogging.

I know that this particular post hasn’t exactly been laden with emotion or posed any serious philosophical or life altering questions – it is certainly a far cry to my usual offerings – but; it is a start. I do have a lot of ideas of what to write about, some stemming from things people have written to me about, and I hope that I will be able to return soon with another post.

In the meantime; do be kind to your Selfs.

All my love and gratitude,

xx

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Talking Openly About Suicide

I hadn’t meant to leave it this long, but life got in the way, in a very real fashion.

Two weeks ago my life was turned upside down; a decision was made about me which affects my entire future. It was made by someone who doesn’t know me and without meeting with me or even letting me know that this decision was being made –.

I don’t feel quite ready to write about the details just yet, because I am still trying to process it. Also, it is excruciatingly painful to think about, hurtful far beyond anything I have ever experienced before. If this decision were to stand.. well, it is truly major, life-changing, stuff, and has hit me straight in the heart.

The past two years I’ve been on a very specific path, and now someone has taken an enormous, big, black boulder and placed it on what was already a twisting, winding and steeply uphill path, completely blocking my way forward. And, sadly, this is not a stumbling block that I can simply scale or find an alternative way around – I am completely and utterly dependent on the person who placed it there to remove it.

Therapy has been challenging since my last post. The honeymoon is definitely over. For both A. and for me. But in a strange way, that is probably for the better. Although this has required me to be braver than I have ever been in my therapy before, has pushed me to open up more than I ever have, in spite of the very real fears I have regarding what that will do to A., it hasn’t been without benefits; two weeks ago, after three and a half years of seeing A., I cried for the first time in session. It wasn’t a massive cathartic kind of outpouring of raw emotion, but it was real and naked.

In today’s session I made myself be brave again, forced myself to talk about something that is incredibly hard to talk about, something which isn’t easy to broach in an open and honest way.
The last two weeks, ever since that boulder cut off my way forward, I have been carrying a piece of paper in my journal, which I have been wanting to give to A. but haven’t quite had the courage to do it, because of what the implications of handing her that piece of paper are.

For whatever reason, when I first began seeing A. she never asked to have my personal details – you know – address, next of kin, contact info for my GP – the usual stuff. She has had my email and mobile number, because I’ve emailed and texted her a few times, but no more than that.

Since this boulder was dropped in my way things have been, well, pretty dire. It wouldn’t be unfair to say that my life has been hanging in the balance. And although I am trying to challenge this decision that has been made, it has also forced me to consider the possibility that it may not be changed, no matter how many valid reasons there are for that to be done. And, everyone who is close to me, who knows what this is all about, also realise that if that were to happen – if that decision were to stand – well, it would amount to having the one thing that has always meant more to me than anything else being taken away from me. It would mean taking all hope from me.

And without hope, I can’t live. I don’t think anyone can.

I have talked to A. about this in session; that if hope is taken from me, I can’t go on, and I think that she, too, can see that this is a very very serious situation. I have told her that if what is about to happen were to happen, I would come to session and I would say goodbye – and it really would be goodbye. I have talked about ending my life before, and it’s never been done lightly, but I think this time, it is almost tangibly different, and I think it is obvious both to myself and to A. that there is a very real risk that this time, it could really happen. And, I think that the thought of that scares her, that it really scares her. I think it scares her nearly as much as it scares me.

So, today, when I finally gave her that piece of paper, a piece of paper which doesn’t look like much to the world; some contact details written on the back of a random re-used calligraphy practise sheet, it was a key moment in our work together. I explained to her how I had wanted to give her this piece of paper in the last two weeks, but that it has just felt too hard, because, of what went along with it; the reality that if I were to go missing – as many friends and loved ones as I have, and as often as I talk to them – my sessions with A. are really the only things which are regular enough to trigger a definite knowledge that something was amiss. The way I put it to A. was that, were I to not show up for a session – having not missed a single session in three and a half years – and, were I to not get back to her, should she ring to find out where I was, there would probably be good cause for concern; just reason to suspect that I have taken drastic action to end my life, that this time I probably won’t be coming back.

A. went quieter than she ever has when I was saying this. I mean, she doesn’t talk a huge amount generally, but this silence felt completely different, felt like she was holding her breath, unsure of what to do with this. Frozen. Not uncaring or distant, but in a paralysed kind of way. All the colour completely drained from her face. And it really frightened me, because I’ve never experienced A. reacting in that way to anything I’ve said in all these years.

I can understand it; as I’ve said many times before, therapist or not, she is only a person like everyone else, and having worked with me for as long as she has – as closely as she has – of course it would be extremely frightening to hear me, in so many words, put her in a position where she would be responsible for raising the alarm that I may have killed myself, to make the decision to send police round to my place.

I know that having a client kill themself is every therapist’s worse nightmare, and yet, the nature of their chosen profession means that they necessarily have to find a way to stay with a suicidal client, in the hope that they will never have to deal with an actual suicide.

I truly regret having to put A. in this position; it was not an easy thing to do – I care about her, deeply – of course I do – and I worry immensely about what it may do to her, were she to have to actually do what I am asking of her.

But I had to have that conversation with her. There was no way around it.

I did make it very clear that I am not going to kill myself today or tomorrow or even at all, unless I know that all possible avenues of having this decision, which has brought me to this very sharp edge, have been exhausted. That I would not do it without knowing that all hope has been truly extinguished.

I’m not sure that made A. feel any better, but, maybe, at least for a little while, she can rest more easily.

Maybe I can, too?

xx

Paths and Journeys – An Entry About Life

I’ve got that Friday feeling. Well, really, it’s more than that, but for now, let’s just call it that. I’m feeling quite at peace for the moment, despite having had some very sad news recently. It’s that knowledge that sometimes bad things happen, and we can’t possibly understand why, we can’t find a reason no matter how hard we try. But, just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Managed to finish two mini-essays for my course. They’re not fantastic by any stretch of the imagination; in fact, I’d be surprised if I even make a pass grade. But right now, where I’m at, somehow that doesn’t seem to be the point. The point is that despite having had some very difficult things to deal with in the last few months, I did manage to write them. I could have just said that Nope, this is too much for me to cope with on top of everything else, I’m not even going to try. But I didn’t. I gave it a go. It may not actually be quite enough from an academic point of view, but, from a live-and-learn point of view this is really important.

I think these Big Things I’ve been talking about in previous posts have helped put things into perspective. But also, I have made slow and steady progress, even these Big Things aside. Just through staying alive and learning as I go.

I see life as something of a journey with many different paths. Life is not a race to get to the finishing line; sometimes you choose a path which is more winding than another, but even so, it’s still heading in the same general direction. Also a path is about the knowledge and wisdom you pick up along the way, and sometimes the longer, more winding paths will teach us more than the ones that run neatly ahead.

Just a thought.

All the very best and more,

xx

Thinking And Logic vs Feeling

It’s been a while, I know. Just stuff going on, which have stopped me from feeling able to sit down to write.

But, I’m still around.
Please don’t worry.

I’ve done a lot of thinking lately. Only I’m not sure if thinking really is the right word. Maybe it’s more that I’ve done a lot of feeling. And it’s made me realise a few things. Big things. Important things. And in time I will be sharing it with you all, I’m sure – or else it will eventually become self-evident.

But really, what I wanted to get to is that whole thing about thinking and logic, versus feeling. I think that, although I often apply active thinking and logic to work things out, when it comes to those really big and important things, I’ve always operated on gut instinct. If something feels right, I generally trust that it is. People may ask me for a more specific definition of what exactly it is that makes it feel right, and more often than not, I’m unable to give a real answer – because all I know is that it feels right.

So there you go.
Even though there are big things on the horizon for me, for now, I think I’ll keep them to myself.

Because, it feels right.

Still – before I forget..
For those of you who – and let’s face it, this would be the vast majority – were planning on buying me great big expensive luxury Christmas prezzies, I just want to say that you’re off the hook. I’ve made a conscious decision not to celebrate Christmas. This is on the basis that I’m not a Christian, and it feels wrong to celebrate something I don’t believe in. Especially since I actually believe in something different.

If you still feel a burning wish to spend your hard-earned money, maybe you could donate a quid or two to one of the charities listed in the “Tikkun Olam – Healing The World”-section to the right? That’s what I’ll be doing. Those of you who know me know that this is what I usually do, anyway, instead of sending out seasonal greetings cards, left, right and centre.

I’m not dissing Christmas or cards – if that’s what feels right to you, then you should be doing all that. It’s just that, for me, I feel better not going down that route.

All the very best and more,

be good to your Selves,

xx

Decision Time – An Entry About Trusting Your Instincts

Sometimes it takes time to reach a conclusion. I know this to be true. And yet, yet I find myself struggling with that. It’s not that I don’t have patience – I do – but it seems it’s a very specific type of patience I possess. I have near endless patience with children in particular and a reasonable amount of patience for people in general. What I don’t have is patience with myself. When it comes to me I want to know now. No waiting period, no trial and error. I want the results right away with no delay. Clear-cut and ready to serve.

Unfortunately that’s not the way the world works. Or maybe it’s more of a fortunate than an unfortunate? In some ways I think it’s probably a good thing to have a little frustration in your life. It gives you the drive to focus, to set goals – to strive for things.

I am now into my eighth week of therapy with my new therapist and I’m still very much struggling to come to a decision as to whether or not she really is the right person for me to be doing this very important work with.

Two weeks ago I finally plucked up the courage to actually tell B. (my new therapist) that I feel there is no connection between us, that there is something absolutely vital missing from our relationship, and that I’m not entirely sure whether or not we should continue working together. I held my breath, counted to three in my head and waited for her reaction. Only there was none. So I carried on, trying to quantify what it is I feel is missing, hoping that at some point she’d say something back to me. Which, eventually, she did. But only after I actually asked her what she thought of what I had just said. Only then did she spring into action, so to speak.

I think one of the things I find difficult with B. is the fact that she very much seems to be putting her therapist hat on (as opposed to just being herself, doing therapy for a living). It seems to me that she is often holding her own genuine reaction back in order to give me the ‘correct response’ to whatever I have just said. Now, B. is still in training and so I can understand the wish to do things The Right Way, that she may not yet have the experience to trust her instincts. Going by the book when you’re starting out is, of course, a lot safer and I’m sure that she will, eventually, find her own style – find a way to be more congruent and personal and genuine. But, the bottom line is that until she gets there I’m not sure that I want to be her guinea pig.

As I think I’ve mentioned before I went to see a few different therapists for initial assessments before being set up with B., and that I was turned down more than once, for various reasons. Having said that, regardless of their individual reason for turning me down (risk factor, not feeling able to offer what I need, being unable to find suitable timeslots on their schedules), they all seem to be saying this same thing – that I am a fairly challenging client and that what I need is long term therapy with a very experienced therapist.

So, here I am now, trying to decide whether or not it’s time to move on – yet at the same time worrying about what will happen if I do make that decision. Will I be able to find someone else who’s willing to take me on? What if I again feel that there is something lacking? Am I setting my hopes too high?

It’s not entirely a case of try and try again.
I mean, in many ways I suppose it is – but I am also very keen to not create a pattern of starting therapy with someone only to decide that that’s not quite right, either.

Even though I know that so far my pattern has actually been more in the opposite direction (sticking with something that isn’t quite right rather than face dealing with it) I am very aware that on paper it doesn’t take very many therapeutic Start-And-Stops to make it look like I’m not really committed to do the work, that I will inevitably always find a fault in order to repeat a pattern of moving on to the next bright thing.

Oh, I hear you all muttering that the solution here is pretty obvious, that sometimes you have to take a chance and that it is very possible that the next therapeutic experience won’t at all be a mere repetition of the one before, just like this one didn’t turn out to be a repetition of the one before. I know, I know.

I’m just a bit scared.
That’s all.

xx

Standing tall at a hundred-and-fifty centimetres

I’m not into drugs. Never have been.
Then again, since I’ve never actually tried any drugs, maybe that’s a bit like saying that I don’t like base-jumping or storm-chasing; I’ve never felt the rush it’s meant to give you, and maybe if I had I would think differently? What do I know?

As a child I was on a lot of prescribed but experimental drugs, however.
I was very short and begun showing signs of entering puberty when I was only about six or seven, so my parents decided that they’d try to find out if there was anything to do about this. I’m not entirely sure how, but eventually they were put in touch with a Germany born specialist; Dr Westphal, and I was started on the first of many treatments in order to help me carry on growing.

This was in the early 80’s and very much cutting edge. At first I was given testosterone tablets, which I assume were meant to stop me entering puberty. One pill taken three times daily. A few years down the line, when I was around eleven, this was switched for a nasal spray called Buserelin, also on a thrice-daily cycle. Buserelin is a man-made form of the hormone gonadorelin, which initially sets off an increase in both testosterone and oestrogen, but will in the long run solely cause testosterone production and stops oestrogen production altogether. I was kept on this medication until I turned fifteen and in the last two years it was combined with daily injections of a synthetic growth hormone; Genotropine.

What does this have to do with depression and dysfunctional families you might ask. Well, “I don’t know”, is the honest answer. And, I fear, this is the answer I would get myself, were I to ask anyone else.

To the best of my knowledge Buserelin is (these days) mainly used to treat certain forms of infertility and advance stage prostate cancer, and you are advised to talk to your doctor before starting this treatment if you are suffering from depression. I haven’t been able to find an answer what the reason for this is. Is it that it may interact with anti-depressive medication? Does it tend to heighten the risk to enter depression? I don’t know.

But, it worries me somewhat that I have been on various medications for such a long period of time, and at such a critical developmental stage, not knowing what the long-term effects may be. I was one of the very first in the world, to be given this medication – especially at such a young age – and I can’t help but to wonder what this may have done to me. Has it made a difference to the way I behave? The way I think? The way my body works? I just don’t know.

Surely being put on a medicine which will increase testosterone production and cease oestrogen production must cause some sort of chemical imbalance in a person? Especially if you are a very young girl. And how do I know that I’m not still suffering from the effects? I’ve never been a girly girl, I’m attracted to both men and women and I am generally hopeless at traditionally female chores. Is the medication to blame for this? That is not to say that any of the above traits are at all things I dislike, I am only asking from an intellectual point of view. Has the medicine made me more prone to depression? Has it veered me towards more radical suicide methods which are more commonly used by men? Or is this all a psychological side-effect of the sexual abuse I experienced as a child? Maybe the answer is that both have had a profound effect on me, maybe it is neither. It’s impossible to say. But wouldn’t it be interesting to know? To have a black and white nature vs nurture chart, where you could see exactly what has made you who you are.

The medication issue also poses another important question. How do you as a parent decide that you’ll take a gamble on your child’s present and future health? A shot in the dark that you will hit the target?

I’d say that I’m about 98% happy that my parents made the decision to put me on these drugs. It has been estimated that I would have been around thirty centimetres shorter had I not undergone the treatment, and while thirty centimetres may not sound like much, the difference between being only 120cm tall and being 150cm is enormous. It’s the difference between being viewed as very short and being seen as a midget. Those thirty centimetres have made it possible to live a normal life. Yes, I have to ask Dev to reach for me, but there’s no need for custom made lowered worktops and although I sometimes struggle it is possible to walk into a shop and buy a pair of trousers that fit without being taken up. So, they have definitely made my life easier in many ways.

Still, there are those 2% of me which can’t help but to wonder – was it the right choice? Would I have made the same one, had it been mine and not my parents’ choice? Would I give up those thirty magic centimetres if I knew they were definitely the cause for my recurring depressions?

Again, the answer has to be that I don’t know.

But it’s food for thought.

xx