August And Everything.. erhrm .. Up Until Then

It’s August, people. Can you believe it? Whatever happened to June and July? I must have blinked and missed them.. How ’bout you?

Stuff is happening here. Good stuff, bad stuff – and stuff too complex to even contemplate categorising. You know how it goes.

Went home at the beginning of July. Lovely drive up with my sister, her dog and her partner. [My sister’s partner, that is, not her dog’s partner..] Groovy stuff. Funky times. And music to match.

Also, pre driving up north I got the chance to spend a bit of time with my friend E., who I hadn’t seen in wayyy too long. A person who understands the unique and magic healing powers of good friends and a cup of tea.

Driving up north was kind of cool, and not only owing to the A/C. As we set out pretty late in the day, it should have grown darker and darker, but since we were driving closer and closer to the arctic circle, it was actually getting lighter and lighter. One of the many fantastic things about The North. Big time funkiness.

Stayed at my mum’s place, which was what I had been wanting to do. And even though it’s always a bit of a juggle getting the balance right between spending time with her, hanging out with my sisters and seeing my friends, I think it went reasonably ok. Sadly this time my friends drew the shortest straw, but hopefully it won’t be too long before my next visit. And, thankfully, I have the most amazing friends, who stand by me despite hardly getting to see me. Ehrm.. or maybe they’re sticking with me because they don’t have to see me too often. :) Nah! Not really.

Had a blast getting to know my newest nephew better, once he, my other sister and her husband joined us in our hometown.

Other happy memories include my 4-year-old niece teaching us all how to lawn-surf, spending a night at the summer house partaking of a traditional Sister’s Day meal, cuddling up on the sofa with my oldest niece, and watching my mum’s King Charles gulfing down a pound of sweets in seconds flat, only to be projectile vomiting the rest of the evening. Ok, so the last wasn’t really all that funny, but still..

That said, the truth is that being home does take something of an emotional toll. I don’t think it will ever be entirely straightforward going home. “You can always go home, but you can never go back”. True, that.

What else? Well, I’m still doing a shift a week at work. Has been a few times when I haven’t feel able to go, but on the days when I have it’s always been a very positive experience.

Therapy has shifted up a gear. I’m seeing A. three times a week now, which makes for a much better session-to-session flow. Also, I think, I am more ready to really challenge myself to delve deeper. To not come up for air at the first sign of being under water. Wow – that’s an exceptionally poor metaphor – my apologies, but let’s surf with it just the same; hopefully you still get what I’m saying.. Basically, I’m trying to avoid a deus ex machina ending to my therapy; to stick with it, rather than to look for a desperate ‘out’. [I feel my literature professor from uni would cringe at my casual implementation of one of his favourite Latin expressions.]

Last week felt like a pivotal point in therapy. Big time. I guess I have reached the conclusion that therapy is about daring to be honest. With myself. To sit with my feelings and to accept them, even the ones that I’d rather not admit to having.

Anyhow, my dears – the hour is getting late.
[Yup – that’s a lie, but, so what? This isn’t therapy.]

All the very best and more,

xx

This blog was sponsored by the word FUNKY, the expression BIG TIME and the letter BEIT. No animals or children were intentionally harmed in the writing of this blog.

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

Back? Home? Or ‘back home’?

So, I’m back in the UK. Big trip home over and done.
Or maybe this is just the beginning? I don’t know. It feels as if I haven’t yet absorbed or processed my trip yet. Like whatever feelings I have about it are hidden under a very thin coat of ice. Only that protective layer is slowly, but surely, beginning to melt. Or is that ‘cracking up’?

I don’t feel very in control at the moment. I’m feeling distinctly low. And this is despite the fact that there isn’t really anything concrete to feel low about. On a surface level the trip went basically ok. Not fantastic, nor a disaster; it was ok.

So, why am I feeling so low? Why do I feel like I’m going to crack open at any moment and a torrent of emotion will come flooding through?

People have, naturally, asked me how my trip was. And all I’ve said is that I don’t really know, that I need to wait a bit to answer that question.

For some reason the lines “..you can always go home, but you can never go back..” keep playing in my mind.

A. is still off, so no therapy for me this week. Doesn’t feel too great. But it’s just how it is. Soak it up, Champ.

In the last session before the break, before my trip home, I talked quite a lot about how worried I was about how I’d be able to cope with this week between me coming back to the UK and A. returning to work. A. said at the very end of session, just as I was leaving, that if I need to contact her in that week I can. We’ve never really established any clear rules around out-of-session contact, so for her to tell me this, it means a lot to me.

Only I know that I will always hold myself back from using that ‘lifeline’. This fear I have of intruding on A.’s off time, I can’t overcome it. I think that even if things got really desperate I wouldn’t pick up the phone.

Anyway, I think I’m going to keep this entry short. I don’t want to get too stuck in my own worries.

Be well,

xx

This Little Voice In My Head – An Entry About Mixed Emotions

Few minutes to spare before I’m off. To Sweden.
I’m flying over for a few days to celebrate my sisters’ mum’s 60th birthday. I wasn’t going to go initially, seeing as I was over there in March. (My youngest sister and I travelled there as a surprise for the middle one). So, I had decided not to go. But a special, and very sweet, request came through from the birthday girl, and I decided on the spot that I was going to join them for this special day.

I am really really looking forward to seeing them all. Even though I saw my sisters in March I haven’t seen their mum or brother since Christmas, and I know it’ll be good for me to be around people who have a knack for making me feel better about myself.

Still, I do have somewhat mixed feelings about this trip. My mother called the other day. Our second conversation since April of last year, and I ended up telling her I’m flying over for G.’s birthday celebrations. I didn’t say it in order to hurt her, but because it seemed wrong to somehow conceal my going there. I know my mother finds it difficult to deal with my relationship to G., that it brings out all sorts of feelings in her, but it just seemed a really bad thing to do to not tell her. Especially since I had already told my dad, and even though they are long since separated, chances are that she hears it from him. And I didn’t want that. Letting her hear it through someone else would have been both cowardly and cruel.

Unfortunately, the side effect of having told her is that I now feel really bad about going. I mean, I’m still looking forward to seeing everyone, but the sheer joy I was feeling has, undoubtedly, been tainted by something else. Something not so pleasant. I could hear it in my mother’s voice when I told her; how hurt she was by it. How she feels like I’m favouring G. over her. That’s not actually the case, we just have a very different relationship, but I know that’s what my mother will be thinking.

Fast forward to my therapy sessions: I can see a very clear echo of this same thing happening there. As you know I had to stop seeing D., my previous counsellor, back in December last year, and I’ve only very recently been able to find a person who seems to suit me in a similar (but different) way. Only I’m really struggling to allow myself to engage properly. As much as I want to I can’t help but to feel that in talking to A., in allowing her to take over that really important part of my life, I am somehow being unfaithful to D. This is, of course, not the case, nor an idea D. would want me to entertain. I know that. But I can’t help it. Big time transference. I can see that. But, it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.

I think what I really need from D. (and consequently also from my mother, although I’m not sure I’ll be able to get either) is to hear, and to really feel, that it’s ok for me to move on. That she isn’t at all jealous of A. taking over, that, in fact, she is happy to hear of the progress I’m making. I think it’s necessary for me to be able to really take things further with A. Because as long as I keep hearing this voice, false as it is, telling me that I am being disloyal, I just can’t.

A. (or G., for that matter) telling me that it’s ok, that I have every right to move on, to do what I need to feel ok about myself, – well, it just doesn’t cut it. I’m way too pre-conditioned to tune in to that little voice at the back of my head telling me the opposite. It doesn’t matter that I can see exactly where that voice comes from, or how little sense it makes to listen to it, I just can’t drown it out.

So, there you go. Textbook example of transference in action.

Anyway, must rush. That plane won’t wait for me!

xx

Changes – An Entry About Moving On

I really shouldn’t be writing this entry right now. I have a million and five other things that I should prioritise. But, me being me, I put my writing before pretty much anything else. That’s just how I am.

I’m a bit stressed out at the moment. To say the least. Dev is off to spend Christmas with his brother early tomorrow morning, so today is technically the last day we live together. And although I know that the decision to split is the right one, well, it’s hard to not become a bit sentimental looking back at the five years we’ve shared. We’ve been through so much together. And I will really miss seeing him on a daily basis. I know, I can always pop in and visit him at the flat every once in a while, but it won’t be the same, will it?

Had a Christmas card from my father the other day. It was really sweet what he had written, so it really means a lot to me. I texted him back to let him know that. At the same time, there are a lot of things that remain unsaid, and I think that in order for us to be able to move on it’s important that we find a way to communicate with one another. So I wrote an email to him, trying to be as honest as I could about my thoughts on our relationship and our family as a whole. It was quite similar to a letter I wrote my mother some time ago, and equally difficult to write. I can’t help but to worry that they won’t understand that I’m not writing in order to hurt them, but because I’ve come to a point where it’s important that I get to say things I may never have said before. As I said earlier; I think it’s our best bet to be able to find a way back to one another. Even if it’s painful while we’re still getting used to it..

Dreaded last session with D. tomorrow. No thoughts of not going, though. Again, it’s one of those things I simply have to do to be able to move on. Saying a proper goodbye. So that’s my mission for tomorrow. That, and not crashing completely once I get home after.

Had a letter in the post today, from the mother of the twins I used to nanny. Haven’t opened it yet, but I’m pretty sure what it is. See, ever since I stopped working for them (although in many ways, it feels wrong to use the term ‘working’, since I really was welcomed as a part of their family) I’ve had a calendar from them at Christmas. And not just any calendar, but one with photographs of the kids taken throughout the year. My kind of gift! It’s always lovely to see how they’ve changed each year; how they are becoming more and more grown up with every passing year. They were always two seriously funky kids – despite having had a nanny who’s absolutely bonkers – and it’s just wonderful to see how they are growing into these amazing, intelligent and independent people. Nothing could make me more proud! I am in touch with most of the kids I’ve nannied throughout the years, and it’s the best feeling in the world to see and hear from them years later, realising that they’ve turned into young adults. It’s very very special.

Flying out to Sweden early Saturday morning. I’m really looking forward to it. Nervous as anything. But I’m sure it’ll be ok. I still don’t know whether or not I will see mother. A big part of me really wants to. It’s her birthday when I’m over there, and I’d just like to be able to wish her a happy birthday. So, I was thinking I might ring her then. Communication has to start somewhere.. And change doesn’t have to happen in one go. It’s ok for it to happen slowly. As slowly as it needs to.

xx

PS. For those of you who care; it’s Kylie Sunshine’s birthday today. :)

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

Reflections – An Entry About Buying More Time When It’s Needed

I am aware that it’s been a while since I last updated my blog, but there is good reason for it. I’m not merely neglecting my blog writing duties for the fun of it; the last few weeks have been somewhat overwhelming, and thus I’ve needed some time to myself to think things through.

Normally I write my blog and it helps me understand things. This time I really needed to understand things before writing about them in my blog. Hence, the delay in serving you the portion of S-related news I know you have all been so eagerly awaiting.

I don’t quite know where to start, so I’ll start where my mind is at in this very moment; Christmas. I’ve decided to go home for Christmas. I know it doesn’t sound like much of a decision to make, but for me it is. It’s been a huge decision. As you may be aware I haven’t been in touch with my family since April, so, a trip to the small town that is home is pretty big for me. I haven’t told anyone in my family about this yet; I’ll be staying with my bonus family – my More-Than-Family, and haven’t even decided whether or not I will tell my own family that I’ll be around. I think, going home and all that that may entail will be my focus for the remainder of my counselling sessions with D.

That’s something else I’m dealing with; my beloved fifty-minute hours with D. coming to an end. I obviously always knew that the counselling sessions would have to end at some point – in fact – they’ve already expanded far further than anyone could have anticipated when I first began counselling. (I think I’ve been seeing D. for something like five times longer than what the original deal was.)

December 19th is to be the last session. And I’m dreading it already. It doesn’t matter that I am well aware that the cessation of counselling is as much part of the process as actually undergoing it – it still freaks me out. Not only the uncertainty surrounding what help and support I will have in place when that day comes, but the actual saying goodbye to D. (Even as I am writing this I can feel my brain and my emotions completely separating; the brain calmly stating “It is normal to feel this way, everyone does” and my heart going “I don’t care if everyone goes through it, no one has everstruggled more with this issue than I am right now, no one has ever felt such pain.”) So, that’s another big thing going on in the little person that is me.

What else? Well, Dev and I have decided that although we’ve had five incredibly good years together, the time has come for us to move on. Separately. It’s been in the pipeline for some time, especially since we – even before my depression reared its ugly head – had the Baby Issue laying between us (the Baby Issue being that I want nothing more than to have a child; it’s all I’ve ever wanted, what has always kept me going, what gives meaning to my life – and he not having the remotest desire to ever become a parent.). But, I guess the reason why we’ve decided to split now, rather than earlier, is that we’re no longer getting what we want from one another. And we’re not able to offer what the other needs. We’re not arguing, we’re not at each other’s throats (save last night when I – having not slept for God knows how long – threw a fit after dropping a plate of grilled cheese sandwiches face down on the table, and in sheer frustration blasted a “No, it’s not bloody ok!” at Dev, who foolishly had tried to be understanding and calming..). It’s just one of those things that happen.

To say that we’ve had a rough year would be a serious breach of the generally accepted definition of the term ‘rough’. Between my two suicide attempts, Dev’s mother passing away and my not being in touch with my family things just got too much, and it’s not healthy for us to stay together. There is absolutely no blame placed between the two of us. It just got too much. It’s sad, and it will be painful as hell to get used to, but it is nonetheless inevitable. The “I want from you / I wish I could but I can’t”-cycle can so easily turn into a severely destructive “I demand / You refuse”-pattern. And, if possible, we’d rather like to avoid that.

Unfortunately it puts us in a very tricky situation from a practical point of view. As I haven’t been working for more than about seven weeks since the beginning of December last year I have no savings to fall back on. At all. Also, I have, since my last blog entry had to leave my job. And even putting that aside, it would be completely and utterly void of any form of realism to assume that I will be able to go back to full time employment any time soon. It’s not for lack of trying – because I did, and it’s certainly not from lack of want – but the reality is that where I’m at now I can already barely get myself through the day – and any added pressure is likely to be detrimental to me.

So, the ideal scenario that Dev and I had naïvely thought out was that he’d be staying in the flat, (since he’s the one with an income), changing the contract from a joint tenancy when it comes up for renewal at the end of the month, and me being given help with re-locating, based on the fact that we are no longer together, and so I should qualify for income support, housing and council tax benefits etc.

But, as always seems to be the case, things just don’t run that smoothly in S-land.. Not even when it comes to something like declaring yourself as at risk of becoming homeless.

Enter the phenomena of legal Catch-22. Since it’s a bit of a jungle of rules (none of which seems to help anyone, I might add) I’ll break it down for you:

– The council doesn’t feel that I fit the criteria as a being at risk of becoming homeless, as I – from a legal point of view – have an interest in the property where I am currently staying. They are therefore unable to help me.

– I can’t simply move out or allow Dev to take over the contract without fight, since that would mean that I have relinquished my right to the property, and I have thus made myself intentionally homeless. Again meaning that the council has no legal obligation to help me.

– Finally, I can’t sign the tenancy agreement on my own, since doing so knowing that I can’t afford the rent will lead the landlord to evict me – and again – I will have made myself intentionally homeless, and the council gets away with not offering me any kind of help.

So what are my options? Well, according to the council; to remain in the 1 bedroom flat that is also occupied by my former partner until such a time as I am able to secure alternative accommodation on my own.

Seems crazy? I’d say so. But who am I to argue? I am, after all, suffering from a mental illness and my view carries little or no weight. And the fact that I have been paying taxes all my life in order to help people in my situation, well – forget it.. Apparently the fact that you have done your bit doesn’t mean that you have a right to help when you need it.

I have been in touch with Shelter, a charity helping people who either are or are at risk of becoming homeless. They have decided that they will try to help me, but unfortunately, no matter how you turn things around, I do have a legal right to remain in my current accommodation. So, we’ve had to come up with a different argument in order for me to get the help I so desperately need. The argument is that it is not reasonable for me to occupy the property on the grounds that doing so would have a detrimental effect on my mental health condition. In other words; staying in an environment which has previously been highly supportive but no longer is, is very likely to make me more depressed, and is therefore equal to putting me at risk. As such I would be considered an adult at risk, and the council would have to house me.

As I’m sure you can understand, this is, no matter how true, a horrendous thing to have to do, knowing that there is no way I would still be alive, had it not been for Dev sticking by me up until now.. Although reality is that it isn’t healthy for me to stay where I am, it just seems such a harsh thing having to argue this point against someone who genuinely has given his all to help for as long as he has been able to.

There are a few other really big things going on in my life right now, but, again, I need to allow myself some more Thinking-It-Through-time before sharing this with you.

Although the basis for this blog is to be as honest as I can about what is happening in my life – I think that it is of equal importance to sometimes reflect before sharing. I’d rather wait and be able to write nakedly and honestly about it later on, than to tell half the story now, leaving too much to the imagination, too much to chance..

SO, once again, thank you for your patience

All the very best and more,

xx