Flashbacks, Therapy & Change – An Entry About Finding My Way Back To Life

I had an email from someone who has clearly been following my blog for some time the other day. He [or she – could be a she] asked “What happened to your real blog? The one about your life? I mean it’s interesting to read about Reform Judaism and all that, but I kind of miss the real updates. Like, what happened after you left Drayton Park? How have you been doing? What’s happening with your therapy?”

Now, firstly, I would like to point out that to me the posts about Judaism, and my conversion in particular, are every bit as real as any of my other updates. Being Jewish is part of who I am, and a big part, at that. But, I do take the emailer’s point: it has been a while since I’ve written about what’s going on with me. And it’s not by chance. I’ve simply needed some time to reflect without sharing, rather than reflecting while sharing, if that makes sense.

About two months have passed since I left the Drayton Park Women’s Crisis Centre. And it’s taken me all this time to slowly, slowly get back to myself. In fact I’m still not there yet. I still have days that are very very difficult, have days when I just don’t make it out of bed at all. But I also have days when things seem a little bit better.

The flashbacks still come, but usually it’s a case of having maybe one flashback every few days, and as horrible as it is to have them, it doesn’t compare with the torrential flashbacks I was suffering from a few months back. They still disrupt my life, still make me feel like absolute crap, because being thrust back into an abuse situation without warning is just never going to be a pleasant experience, but on some level they are manageable in the sense that there is enough space between them to be able to look at them and think about why they are happening.

Mostly, they tend to be about things I remember happening, and I think the key in these flashbacks lie within the feelings they evoke, not necessarily the content. I try to allow those feelings to surface, and to – hard as it can be – accept that there is a lot of fear and shame. My conscious memory of the abuse, particularly the abuse my brother subjected me to, doesn’t really conjure up images of myself as a very small, powerless and frightened little girl, but through the flashbacks I can tell that I must have been, even if I at the time was too cut off from my own emotions to recognise this. So I guess what I am doing now is to acknowledge this side of me, this truth which I have kept under wraps for a long long time. To allow Little S space to truly exist.

Therapy is going well, feels helpful. It’s my space to just think out loud. That said, the other session I talked about how when I really get going, when I feel I’m on to something, I often drift off – almost as if I forget that I’m supposed to share my thought process along the way. I just grow silent and still and think inside my head, and I’m sure this must be frustrating for A. at times, but I guess it’s just the way I work. Also, the fact that I am aware of it, that I’ve been able to talk to A. about this tendency to just go quiet, means that I can work on it. And it’s given me the opportunity to talk about why I think I do this, what it is I find so frightening about sharing thoughts that aren’t fully formed, what it is I might be trying to protect or prevent from happening, through leaving A. [and others] out.

While I was at Drayton Park, A. told me something I already knew, but had not wanted to think about; she’s pregnant. I knew this even before going home this summer, but because A. hadn’t said anything about it, I essentially buried it, chose not to think about it. But now that it’s out in the open, well, naturally, it has an immediate effect on my therapy, both in the here and now; the themes that come up in my sessions, and the more practical side to it: that there will be a major break in my therapy in a not too distant future.

There is no getting away from it: there are absolutely days when it is really really hard to come to session and see A. sitting there looking oh-so-very-pregnant, when all I’ve ever wanted for myself is to have a child, feeling very aware that time is slipping away from me and my worst fear; that I may never get to be a mother, forms an icy shell around my heart. There are moments when I feel insanely jealous of her, her baby, her life. But there are also times when I feel genuinely through-and-through happy for her, excited about this amazing little miracle growing inside of her, and noticing subtle changes in the way she responds to the things I talk about – a soft gentleness in her tone, especially when I talk about that frightened little child I was back then.

So, there is progress in my therapy and in my life in general. Tiny tiny steps forward, towards a better understanding of myself, of who I am, of how I relate to others, and how others relate to me. And I feel I’m on the right track. Feel I’m getting somewhere.

But it’s not easy.

And it isn’t over.

There is much to be done.

Be kind to yourselves,

xx

A tiny musical gem; Janet Devlin singing Adele’s Someone Like You

Remember September & Stepping Into The New Year

It’s been a while since I posted a proper update, I know. Things have been very difficult and it’s all felt too raw to put it down in black and white. To pick up where I left off: I went to the assessment at Drayton Park Women’s Crisis Centre and was offered a place the same day. It was very hard going back there, having not needed that kind of help in quite a few years. So much of my time at the therapeutic community I was staying in was designed to keep you away from the NHS mental health system, to find other ways of getting the support you need, preferably away from medication and hospital. So it was a big decision going back to Drayton Park. But needs must sometimes, and sometimes you have to swallow your pride and just accept any kind of help you can get.

The whole first week and a half at Drayton I spent virtually all of my time in my room, feeling unable to be around people other than my named support workers. I simply felt to embarrassed to be around people while I was fighting the near constant stream of flashbacks, as the things I do to ground myself can look quite odd if you don’t know what I’m doing or why I’m doing it. I did have quite a few people come visit me, which felt more OK, because they were all people who know what I’m usually like, and who I knew could handle seeing me in that very very difficult emotional place. I know it’s hard to see someone you love struggle in the way I was – constantly having to fight this torrent of intrusive flashbacks.

Flashbacks aren’t a new phenomenon to me; regular readers will know that I suffer from single flashbacks frequently, and experience periods of sequential flashbacks every so often, but this was on a scale I’ve never known before. I’ve always understood the single flashbacks as an indicator of sorts that I am ready to perhaps deal with that specific incident in my therapy, and the periods of flashbacks tend to begin either when A. is away or when I am very stressed out about other things. But this, it was just something entirely different. A whole different ball game. As I said earlier, initially I was experiencing an incessant flow of flashbacks, most of them reasonably short and all of things I already knew had happened. Though never a pleasant experience, I was able to come out of them fairly quickly. What was really wearing me down – apart from the re-experience of the abuse situations – was the fact that they were so frequent. It felt very much as if as soon as I had worked my way out of one flashback another started, like one flashback triggered the next, and it took essentially all of my energy to remain fully in the present.

Then, one day – and I still don’t quite know why – the flashbacks changed. They became less frequent and were about things I had no conscious memory of. Although the reclining frequency was a welcome break, making it possible to at least go out of my room and spend time in the art room, it was absolutely terrifying. I always knew that there were gaps in my memory, pertaining to one specific person, but some of the things that came out were things I had absolutely no recollection of at all. I know that what emerged in those flashbacks did happen, that they weren’t figments of my imagination [although at times I tried very hard to convince myself that maybe they were].. The best way I can describe it is that it felt like I was remembering things I had forgotten I knew. These flashbacks tended to be more like long sequences, and were a lot harder to come out of, I think, in part because they caught me so unawares, memorywise, but also because the content of them were cruelty on a whole new level, and I felt paralysed by fear, unable to do the things I usually do to come out of the flashbacks. And I have to say, I’m still dealing with those memories now, feeling utterly traumatised by what those flashbacks unveiled.

I ended up spending a full three weeks at Drayton Park, and throughout those weeks, being stripped of the release and relief my various means of self-harm offered, they were probably the worst three weeks in my entire life. Every day I would ask the staff – pleading with them – to please, please let me have my scalpels, just for a little while, just to get a small break from the flashbacks. And each day my support workers told me no, because although their policy is that they recognise self-harm as a genuine coping-strategy for some people, they felt that my cutting would not be safe and could end in me, accidentally or intentionally, cutting to kill myself rather than to just relieve pain. Also, owing to my previous track record at Drayton Park, downing a pint of anti-freeze in a bid to end my life, my trust/credit rating with the staff isn’t the greatest, so their decision to not allow me to use any form of self-harm to cope, is entirely understandable.

I am now back home. Things are still difficult. The flashbacks aren’t as frequent, but I still have them fairly regularly, and it seems that an underlying depression is rearing its ugly head, and I am often struggling to get out of bed at all, unless I have to. I push myself to get to therapy and to not completely disappear in my own misery, but it’s hard work.

One thing that is good is that we’re now in the middle of a period called Yamim Noraim, [lit. Days Of Awe, commonly referred to as the High Holy Days, is the period between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur] – so there are a lot of things going on at shul, and so I have more things than usual that I need to get to. Also, on the days I simply haven’t been able to go to service I’ve been able to follow it online, and I’ve made a point of always making sure I am up and appropriately dressed, even if I’m only attending service via the internet.

All in all, it’s still a bit of a roller coaster; one good day, one bad and so on, but I suppose that it’s better to have some better days than none at all.

So, for a better and sweeter new year,

שנה טובה ומתוקה

~ Shanah Tova Umetukah ~

xx

OK – so this isn’t for this new year, but this Rosh HaShanah video from Michelle Citrin still makes me smile. I mean, c’mon – I named my blog after one of her songs, after all.

Long-term therapy vs. short-term crisis resolution

I’ve been thinking about how to update my blog the last few days, but I’ve not felt able to do it. Partly because all my energy has been channelled towards fighting my way out of a flashback. Again and again and again. Times a million. It really has been kind of never-ending – and the only way that has worked to give me any kind of longer break has been to either make myself black out or to cut, neither of which is particularly healthy.

To say that it’s been a difficult few weeks would be a severe understatement. It’s been pretty relentless, and at times I’ve really just wanted it all to end, because there is only so much a person can cope with. The crisis team have been quite good (well, the nurses more so than the pill pushing doctors) – but it’s also been hard to find myself back in this system. Also, I’ve felt that the crisis team has been quite critical of the therapy I’m doing with A,, and they have frequently asked me if it’s really helpful to have this kind of therapy when it’s made me have such terrible flashbacks. Also, my relationship with A. has been questioned. More than once have they asked me if I’m not a little bit too attached to my therapist. My answer throughout has been that it’s not the therapy which is causing these flashbacks, it’s a combination of going home and then returning a week before therapy resumed, in conjunction with a number of other factors.

I’ve defend both my choice of therapy and the relationship I’ve worked so hard to form with A. on numerous occasions, but it’s tricky when you’re talking to people who see medication and CBT as the cure for all ills. It’s not so easy to explain that the whole point of therapy is that you form a close relationship with your therapist, and that it allows you to look at other relationships and see how they may be played out as little echoes within the therapeutic relationship. That in my veiw CBT is a bit of a band-aid, masking deep-rooted problems, and wouldn’t be at all appropriate for the kind of issues I’m dealing with. That, yes – this is really hard work, and yes it does bring difficult things up, but that it’s my feeling that the only way for me to be able to find some sort of peace within my past is to dare look at all those difficult things and realise that I can in fact survive the pain. And that’s what the work I do with A. is all about.

Despite this difference of opinion, having the involvement of the crisis team has also been of value – I’ve felt held by the fact that I’ve been seeing them on the weekends, when I don’t see A., and that they’re available to talk to on the telephone 24/7. It does help. But, that does in no way mean that I’m any less committed to the work I’m doing with A. I see it more as a crutch between sessions – for the time being – so that I can carry on with what I do in therapy.

Following yesterday’s adventures at A&E when I had my cuts stitched and SteriStripped – with a tetanus shot thrown in for good measure – R. from the crisis team came down to have a chat with me, and she said that she felt that my self-harming behaviour was going in the wrong direction, that it was escalating rather than subsiding, and that she felt I needed more support than what the crisis team can offer, and she suggested she make a referral to Drayton Park Women’s Crisis Centre.

I’ve stayed there in the past – years ago – and it has been helpful, so I agreed to R. making the referral. I think Drayton Park could be a safe option while I’m in the middle of this crisis. To me it seems like a happy medium – I’ll still be able to see A., but rather than going home to a lonely room battling flashbacks and urges to self-harm, I’d be going back to Drayton Park, where I’d be able to talk to someone about my urges to self-harm. Also, I know that they will be a lot more encouraging in terms of doing the type of work I do with A. han the crisis team has been.
Fair enough, I’ve never actually been at Drayton Park when I’ve been in therapy, but I have several friends who’ve stayed there and have felt that the Drayton Park staff have been very much in favour of them carrying on seeing their therapists while they’re staying at Drayton Park. Essentially what they say is that your therapist is your long-term support and who will help you with long-term goals, and Drayton Park is a place to feel safe while being in the middle of a crisis. It’s a short-term add-on support system, not a replacement for your long-term aims and goals.

Anyway, I’m meeting with one of the workers at Drayton Park tomorrow for an assessment, and it still remains to be seen if they’ll deem it appropriate to offer me a place for the week.

Think it’s time to hit the hay now – hopefully I’ll be able to sleep a little more than I have been in the last few nights..

Be kind to yourselves.

xx

Little S At Six Months

Little S At Six Months

Survival – Knowing When You Need Help

Things aren’t going so well.
Downward spiral at breakneck speed, I feel frightened at how quickly I’ve gone from doing really well to finding myself stuck in a pattern of inward turned anger and self-harm. A few weeks and I’ve managed to undo all the hard work I’ve put in these last four years.

Realising that I’ve lost control of things I have been forced to accept that I need someone to help me, and so on Monday I called my GP to make an appointment. Couldn’t get one until Wednesday, and let me tell you, that felt like a very long way away.

These last few days have really have been rollercoaster like, oscillating between trying to stem flashbacks by using cords and scalpels and later on feeling very very angry with myself for not having been able to stop myself from going back to this very destructive behaviour. And it’s becoming increasingly erratic. This morning I woke up and immediately reached for a fresh scalpel to punish myself for having, the previous night, used a cord coiled around my neck to make myself pass out. – There’s no logic to it, and I can see that. Yet, I don’t seem able to stop myself from acting out in this way.

I’ve been trying to do things in the last few days to try to prove to myself that I’m not quite such a bad person as I sometimes think I am. To show myself that I’m not a waste of space, that I am of some sort of value to the community. But it’s hard to hold on to those thoughts when it has to come through external actions rather than from some internal place..

Saw my GP this morning. I say my GP, but really, I saw a GP. I saw Dr H., a newbie doctor, in her own words. This turned out to be a pretty good thing; she listened to me and seemed to really take in what I was telling her, in contrast to some GPs who’ll whack out the ever-so-patronising “How Depressed Are You?” multiple choice questionnaire at the earliest possible opportunity in a bid to avoid having to actually listen to the patient. Given this opportunity to be heard I tried to be as honest as I could with Dr H. It’s hard, when you’re a bit of a people-pleaser like me, and you don’t want to make the other person feel bad, but I think I did OK.

Dr H. made the decision that she didn’t just want to start me on some meds, but that I needed to be seen by the mental health crisis team. She asked me to wait in the waiting room while she sorted it all out, as she didn’t want me to leave the clinic before she knew for sure that I’d definitely be seen by the crisis team. A reassuring touch, I have to say. I’ve certainly come across doctors who say they’re going to make a referral and send you off with a “Don’t call us, we’ll call you” style parting phrase.

As it turned out the crisis team wanted to see me at noon, so I essentially ended up going straight from the GP practice to the Highgate Mental Health Hospital. Felt quite anxious about going there, as I was still experiencing flashbacks and I was worried that I’d become too confused and disoriented on my way there. Also, I didn’t know what to expect. It’s been several years since I’ve been in touch with any form of NHS run mental health service. A lot of my work has been aimed at getting away from this system.

Then I was thinking of the advice I would give – and have given – friends who have found themselves struggling in the way I am right now: accept any help you can get, whatever that may be. This is not a time for pride, it’s a time for survival.

Talking to two members of the crisis team I did feel a lot better. They reassured me that their aim is to support people struggling with self-harm and suicidal ideation in their homes, rather than pushing people into wards, which may not at all be the best for a person. They did – of course – make it clear that if they felt I became more destructive and posed a serious danger to myself they would have to put me on a section order, but that their aim was to find alternative ways of supporting me. They made the decision – based on my previous history – that they’ll want to see me every day for now, and also asked if I would give them permission to liaise with A. regarding what would be the best way to go about things. Initially I didn’t feel comfortable with that, but in the end I decided that maybe it could be helpful to not try to keep different parts of my life separate. As I was a little unsure of A.’s number I told them I would ask A. to call them instead.

My session with A. today was quite difficult. I was just feeling so low, so defeated at finding myself back in this very dark place. I’m finding it very hard to motivate myself to not give up, keep falling into thinking that no matter how hard I try, no matter how hard I work, I will always come crashing down..

A. said a few things that made me feel a bit better, made me feel like I’m not entirely on my own. But it’s still very very hard. She also added an extra session for me this week – first thing tomorrow morning – which felt comforting. Also I have been given the number for the crisis team, which is a 24 hour care service, so I can call and talk to someone on the crisis team at any time between seeing them in person.

I hope this will help stop me falling any further. Because last time I felt the way I feel right now I drank half a litre of anti-freeze and ended up in ICU..

So, if you have any to spare, thoughts and prayers are much appreciated.

xx

Harry Potter, Therapy Breaks & Flashbacks

Woke up yesterday morning looking like Harry Potter. Not because my hair was all messy and in need of a cut (although that, too, is true), but because I had two bright red scratches/cuts on my forehead.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. In actual fact if anyone were to have looked closely at my forehead even prior to yesterday morning they would have been able to make out faint, almost lightning bolt shaped, scars in more than one place on the right hand side of my forehead. This is not a result of self-harm, which people tend to assume knowing my track record, but rather something I do when I’m either having nightmares about a very particular abuse situation, or when I’m re-living it in the form of a flashback. I scratch my forehead until the skin breaks, leaving these not-so-attractive scars. Without going into detail about this particular incident I know why I end up doing this. It’s not something I did at the time, but I can see why I do it now, years later re-experiencing it.

Now although the cuts on my forehead look pretty bad, they really aren’t. They really are the least of my worries. What does worry me is the fact that I’m having these dreams, and flashbacks, because I know that I tend not to deal well with them. At least not on my own.

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that my experiencing flashbacks tend often to go hand in hand with a break in my therapy, almost as if being without that space to talk about things in therapy my psyche instead decides to act out, in the form of nightmares and flashbacks. Regulars may also have noted the triangular cycle of Therapy Break –> Flashbacks –> Self-Harm. In contrast, if I’m having therapy I don’t usually experience flashbacks (except if I am very stressed out about something else) and thus my need to self-harm tends to be minimal. Also, during those very stressful times when I am experiencing flashbacks even while I’m not on a therapy break, I am usually able to avoid turning to self-harm because I have a place to talk about the flashbacks and what they bring up.

During the last few therapy breaks I haven’t actually resorted to self-harm, despite sometimes suffering from flashbacks. I’ve managed to hold it together until A.’s return, somehow found a way to look past the immediate moment and focus on the fact that it’s not going to last forever. This time, for some reason, that’s not been the case. I have an idea of why that may be; there are a lot of things going on during this break which I haven’t had to deal with in other recent therapy breaks, and so I’m trying to not be too hard on myself about this failure, because I know that rarely serves me well.

Although I am disappointed in myself, I try to keep it in mind that this particular break has been different to other breaks, because of all the other things I’m also dealing with, on top of the nightmares and flashbacks. I’m also trying to remind myself that one slip doesn’t equate to being back to square one. It’s just a slip, it’s not a disaster.

That said, I am looking forward to A.’s return on Tuesday. A session is definitely due.

All the very best,

xx

Expectations, Failure & Second Chances

I’m back . Staying at Dev’s. In need of an in-between place, I suppose.
I’ve not done much since getting back, feeling a lot lower than I had expected; it usually takes a while before this happens.
Before the Post-Holiday Stress Disorder rears its ugly little head.

I try to watch things on iPlayer but can’t concentrate, try to read but can’t focus.

I’m feeling very disappointed in myself. Feel I should have been able to do more with my time at home. Feel I ought to have been braver, ought to have got further on my journey.

I’m trying to not be too hard on myself, but it’s hard. After all, taking things out on myself is what I do best. I’ve not yet turned to self-harm, but I feel I’m fighting a loosing battle on that front. Like it’s a question of when rather than if. Oh, maybe that’s not true. I might be able to resist. But, it doesn’t feel good being me right now.

I could have predicted this outcome before I went. In fact A. and I talked about it in the final session before the break: how I keep choosing to not have that very difficult conversation with my family, how – in the immediate moment – it feels like the easier option, but almost without fail means I’ll ultimately turn it back on myself, this sense of failure..

I’ve been here before. I recognise that there is a pattern to my choices and the way I deal with them. Yet I can’t seem to make a different choice. Time and time again I let myself down.

I am trying to help myself, I am. I don’t want to take three steps back in order to move at all. I really don’t. But it’s hard.

Suffered from a lot of flashbacks when I was at home. Especially at night, meaning I didn’t manage to get much sleep. And I guess that ate into my ability to face things head on. I’m not talking about wanting to cause trouble for my family, I’m not interested in playing the blame game – all I wanted to do was to find a way to talk openly and honestly about all those things we as a family – myself included – have avoided talking about. Have refused to acknowledge.

I had hoped that this time I’d be able to be able to do it. To open up a dialogue with my family. Nothing too big, just a tiny little line of communication.

But I couldn’t. And here I am now, feeling pretty crap about myself.

Oh well, life goes on.
At some point or other I’ll get another chance to do what I couldn’t this time.
Life lessons are repeated until they are learned and we always get a second chance to get it right.

And one of these days I will.
Get it right.

xx

What to say, where to start..?

Well, I’m still alive. That’s a start, I suppose. Has been a bit of a rocky road since I got back from Sweden, the highlight being doing laps around the place where I bought anti-freeze last time I tried to off myself, trying to work up the guts to actually go in and get it. Only by sheer coincidence I bumped into D, my ex-counsellor, and of course after that I simply couldn’t go and buy that life-terminating liquid. Not knowing how hard she worked with me to help me overcome my self-punitive habit.

Anyway, things are somewhat better now. I think. I’m currently seeing my GP on a weekly basis, as I’m still not trusted with more than a week’s worth of tablets at a time..

Earlier this week I had set up an appointment with my boss at the place where I’m volunteering, because I felt I wanted to explain my absence to her. I had, already at the interviewing stage told my then boss about my semi-regular cycle of major depression, but he has since left, and I felt I wanted to have a chat with my current boss about it. I was more than a little nervous going there, since my work environment is one where mental health is very important, and I wasn’t at all sure if my current boss would look on my history of depression as something that should stop me from continuing my work there; people have such differing ideas about mental illness, including depression. Some people view it as “the the common cold of mental illness”; something which most people have to go through at some stage in their lives, while others see it as something strange and therefore frightening. Luckily for me my boss seemed to fall into the former category. Basically, her view was that my going into a depression won’t directly affect my work, since if I’m too depressed I simply won’t be coming in. Also, we worked out this deal that when I start over I’ll only be doing the one shift a week, rather than the three days I had been doing prior to becoming unwell. My boss was really good, and told me that what she’d do is to not actually put me on the rota for the first month, so that if I feel I’m not quite ok to come in one day I won’t need to feel bad about it, since they’ll already be fully staffed.

Was meant to start a new course in May. But, for obvious reasons, I’ve not been able to study at all. Feels like such a shame, since I’d really been looking forward to this course ever since I finished the last one in January. I’m not entirely sure how to sort this out, but I’ve emailed my tutor to ask if it’s possible to either push the deadlines for the essays I need to write, or to defer completely and take the course the next time it’s offered (in the autumn). A part of me really wants to be able to just push the deadlines, but at the same time I have to be realistic, and I can’t know that a week or two will be sufficient time for me to get back mentally to where I need to be to do this course.

I finally worked up the courage to ask A. to increase my number of sessions. Up until now I’ve been seeing her twice weekly, but from next week I’ll be seeing her three times a week. I think this will be a positive change, especially since the additional session will be on a Wednesday afternoon, meaning that – hopefully – there will be a natural continuation, a flow, from my Tuesday evening session. I’m really curious to see how this change will affect my therapy.

What else? Well, I’ve decided to go home for a bit this summer. I’m flying to Stockholm, and then spending a night at a friend’s place before going up north by car with my youngest sister and her boyfriend. Roadtrip 2010, here I come!

Finally – to all my friends and to my wonderful wonderful sisters:
I am so glad that you’ve all rallied around me and given me such amazing support over the past several weeks. I feel blessed.

In the words of Ms Morissette:

“.. you see everything
you see every part
you see all my light
and you love my dark
you dig everything
of which I am ashamed
there’s not anything
to which you can’t relate..
..and you’re still here..”

Much love,

xx

Lyrics from Everything © Alanis Morissette

Done Drifting – An Entry About Resurfacing

I think I hit rock bottom the other week. At least I hope I did. Because it really was that hard. And I really wasn’t at all sure I’d make it through, be able to keep myself safe from my own hands.

But I did. And here I am. Fresh air in my lungs and new thoughts in my head. Still me, but different. That’s how I feel.
Hopeful.

No miracle cure. Sheer hard work. And people who understand me well enough to know how to help me break the cycle. Good friends who remind me of my own value. Until I get close enough to believing it. Close enough to move forward.

And that’s where I’m at right now.

Change.

xx

Slipping – An Entry About Doubt

I can feel myself slipping. Only I’m not entirely sure what I’m slipping into, or what I’m slipping away from. All I know is that I’m slipping, that I’m loosing my grip, somehow.

It’s been going on for a while now, and I’m sure that there are a million different reasons why it’s happening. But that doesn’t really help with this feeling I have inside.

I’m not sure if this is depression rearing its ugly head again, or if, maybe, it’s a sign of change. Or if it is, in fact, a combination of the two.

I feel kind of helpless, and I don’t like that feeling. I used to be able to check myself. No matter what was going on, I could always check myself, control myself. Make sure things didn’t go in a direction I didn’t want them to go. But right now I feel like I’m wandering aimlessly in this foggy darkness, and I have no idea how to find my way out.

It’s different from how I felt, say, a year ago. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. There is no urgent wish to just end it all. And yet, at the same time, those thoughts, although half-hearted in comparison, do pop up with frightening ease and frequency.

I don’t think I’m a real risk to myself. I keep reminding myself of things that have been said to me, about how I have what it takes to be good to myself. That the fact that someone hurt me back then doesn’t mean that I have to keep on doing that to myself. But it’s hard. It’s really really hard.

I have started seeing a new therapist. And I’m just not sure about it. Not about the need to be in therapy, to work through my issues. Actually, I’m as convinced about the need for that as I ever was. But I’m not sure if this is the person to do it with. I’m not sure she’s right for me.

As I’ve mentioned before I’ve had a few different counsellors and therapists in my life. Some were very good matches and some were at the very opposite end of the scale. And I think this new person, well, as much as I wanted her to be someone I could do some good work with.. I’m not sure. It’s not just the language barrier (like me, English is not her first language, and she seems to often not understand the words I use), nor is it a case of her not yet knowing my background well enough to be able to respond in a meaningful way. It’s not even the fact that the interpretations she relentlessly throws at me feel very much like Psychology 101. No, it’s something more than that. Deeper. It’s something missing. Something vital. A connection that needs to be there, but that just doesn’t exist.

No matter how much I try to convince myself that maybe it’s merely a matter of allowing more time; that it’s unreasonable to think that anyone would be able to get me after such a short time, after so few meetings – well – I keep returning to that one point; that there is no real connection between us. Because, although – with all of my previous therapists it’s taken a long time for me trust, to test, to suss out what they are about – with some of them I’ve just intuitively known that there was a potential to do some serious work with. And with others I knew that it – real therapy – would just never happen.

And I’m worried that this person falls into the latter category.

I don’t want that to be the case. In actual fact, I’ve kind of decided to give it – to give us – at least another five sessions to find out if maybe, just maybe, I’ve got it all wrong. That maybe there is something there, something that I have so far failed to detect. Because, it would be so much better if that was the case.

I’m just scared to find out how far I will continue to slip before I know for sure. Especially if it turns out that my instincts are right.

Because it’s a long way to climb to get back to where I was.

xx

Here Comes Trouble – An Entry About Accepting The Inevitable

I’m going home for Christmas. Not home home – as in staying in the house I grew up – because, well, I really don’t think that would be a particularly good idea. I’ve been virtually out of touch with my whole family since April, and the reason I’m going home is not to cause a stir or to confront anyone.

I just want to have a nice Christmas break. That’s all I want. Snuggling up on the sofa watching the Disney special. Going for walks in the snow. Mulled wine. That’s it. I don’t want any drama, don’t want conflict, don’t want to avoid conflict. I just want to be me. At home. At Christmas.

Only, I’m from a very small town and it’s not quite as simple as that.. Going home inevitably means running the risk of bumping into people in town who know people who know people. You know how it goes..

My solution to this was to ask G., my sisters’ mother, to tell my mother (and thereby, I assume, also the rest of the family) that I’ll be home, and that I’ll be staying at her house.

I figure it’s only fair that they, my mother and close family, know that I’ll be around, and that they have been told about it before I’m actually there. I really don’t want a scenario where my mother gets to hear it from one of her ex-workmates or anything like that, because, as far as I’m concerned that would probably be the cruellest option, and – as I said – my aim is not to cause upset. I would hate it if she spoke to one of her acquaintances and they said “Oh, by the way, I met S in town – I didn’t know she was back home?”

I am fairly confident that my family hasn’t really told anyone that I’m not in touch with them. And that is their choice, their prerogative. If they’ve decided to keep the situation under wraps, as it were, then that’s not my responsibility – and by rights I shouldn’t really need to worry about it.

But I do. Of course I do.
Because, as complicated as everything is I still do love them, and I don’t want to intentionally hurt them. I mean, I know that I am, by cutting them off, and thereby causing all manner of problems for them in terms of being able to act as if everything is ok. As long as I was being compliant, playing along with their version of what they like to call normality, it was pretty simple; family dinners, laughter and joy for the outside world to see and everything else could easily be choked to silence. And then, the second I decided not to play along anymore, all that was turned upside down, and I’m not naïve enough to believe that that hasn’t made everything a whole lot more difficult. It’s not as easy to act as if everything is fine when a key player is completely missing from the board.

So, yes, I do accept that I am making things difficult. But, the way I see it, I always have. Since that morning in December almost fifteen years ago I have been the stumbling block of my family. I know that the general opinion is that I should have got over It by now (God forbid using actual words and call abuse abuse..!) and that I am creating a major fuss over nothing. I’m not sure exactly where that stems from, but were I to venture a guess I’d say it is because my family have always only heard my oldest brother’s version of what happened, and that that version is more than just a little diluted, and fairly well removed from the truth.

I don’t think that my family are bad people; in fact I know that they aren’t – but they do have a very obvious inability to accept and cope with the reality of things. Particularly when it comes to the abuse that my brother subjected me to. And so, rather than asking me (or themselves, for that matter) Why are you reacting so strongly to what we have been told was pretty minimal? they find it easier to just put my behaviour down to ‘wanting to be difficult’ or possibly even ‘being a bit of an attention seeker’.

Sometimes I feel that my family have completely lost sight of the fact that this situation is incredibly hard and painful for me, too, and in their minds I end up being the trouble-maker. For all the If she just let go of the past it would make things so much easier for everyone‘s they seem to forget that I am the person who actually has to live away from my family, who has to spend hours caught in vivid flash-backs, has had to struggle with depression because of the scars inflicted by my brother.

And that’s not fair. It really isn’t. Because – and as far as I am concerned there are no two ways about it – it isn’t my fault that we’re in the situation we’re in. We ended up here SOLELY because of what my brother did to me, and no matter which way you look at it the facts are pretty simple: I was 4. I did not choose for him to do the things he did, I didn’t ask for it to happen. The abuse carried on for a full twelve years not because I was born unable to say no, but because he took that ability away from me. Regardless of which way you chose to turn it, it will always come back to that; had he not done what he did, we would not be in this situation now.

So, I’m going home for Christmas. And I won’t be hiding.
I won’t be seeking anyone out, either. But I refuse to be made invisible because of something that simply was not my fault.

It won’t be easy, of course it won’t. But I’ll still do it.

Because it needs to be done.

xx