Spinning Around Like Nobody’s Watching

Been sitting here for over an hour, thinking “You really ought to update your blog!”. Only I’m finding it hard to paint in words today. Don’t have a clue what’s really going on inside of me. Maybe I’m over-tired, maybe I’m just a bit off.. I don’t know. But I feel oddly detached from my own reality this evening.

So, what do I do? Well, same as always. I put some music on. See what fits the mood, and go from there. Land on Sister Hazel’s “Everybody”. Serious makemehappymusic with fantabulous lyrics:

Like a junkie to a rush
I’d trade my mama for your touch
Oh, wait! That might just be too much
Well, I’d do anything but that…..

Stuff to make you smile. Make you want to crazy-dance around your room.

And so I do. Smile. Manically. Grin, really. And crazy-dance, too.

It helps. It really does. Puts me in the mood for living. Freely and happily.

Another line, from another song, has been on my mind throughout the weekend.
What it takes to be me. I’ve been thinking about it. What does it take to be me?
Could anyone do it? Or am I the only one for this particular job? It feels like an important question. A big one. One that warrants its own blog entry. Perhaps.

But not tonight.

Tonight I am happy to just be spinning around like nobody’s watching.

Feel free to join me. Go on – you know you want to.

I dare you!

xx

Everybody by Sister Hazel [Two videos]

Thinking I Can’t Survive What’s Below..

My favourite therapy session of the week – timewise – is my Tuesday session, which doesn’t start until six thirty in the evening. In the autumn and winter this means that it will be dark already when I get there, so there is always that feeling ofnothing exists apart from me, A., the room we’re in and the things we say. And often this sets the tone for the sessions themselves; I tend to be more still within myself, more in the moment, better able to just talk freely.

So, too, this week. Talked about how it’s coming up to a year since I first saw my adoption papers which – among other things – state that my parents wanted to adopt boys and that I’ve not yet been able to talk to either of my parents about this. I have, however, spent a fair amount of time in session talking about this and how I feel about it, so it wasn’t new material per se.

And then, about five seconds before the end of session A. made the comment “..and of course, apart from telling you what your parents did and didn’t want, those papers are also an inescapable reminder that you were put up for adoption in the first place. And that is something you never talk about.”

So I left session with that comment in my head, feeling actually quite upset with A. for doing that to me; bringing something so indescribably big up at the very end of session, when all I could do was to go home and react to those words on my own, with no one to talk it through with.

Now, I have a session on Wednesday afternoon – so in reality there isn’t more than a few hours between sessions. But sometimes those hours can last an eternity.

Spent a sleepless night, basically for the first time ever really thinking about what it means to have been given up. It wasn’t nice and it wasn’t pretty. And, no, I don’t think I was really ready to go there – not like that and not on my own, but I couldn’t stop it, couldn’t change the fact that the dam had been breached.

Yes, I know, this is not A.’s fault. Things don’t come out by chance, regardless of the trigger. Whatever my mind was serving me it came from me. I know this. But, it was still scary as anything. Because I genuinely didn’t know if I’d be able to cope with it. There is a reason why people build protective walls around things that are terrifying.

Still, come Wednesday, I was determined to not repeat my habit of avoidance, of choosing to not talk about things that scare me. So I started out by saying how I felt about A. leaving me with that comment, and then went on to spend the rest of session talking about the thoughts that had been rocking my soul all night.

I’m not going to go into detail about what I said, because it’s all kind of raw, and this feels too public a forum to verbalise the deepest thoughts that I have spent so long trying to shy away from. I mean, this was, literally, the very first time I spoke about any of these things, in fact many of the thoughts and emotions were new even to me, most of them only just starting to take form, to crystallise.

But, leaving session, I kind of knew that..

I’ve spent life hovering above bottom
Thinking I can’t survive what’s below
But I’ve known through the kicking and screaming
That there was no other direction to go

That, eventually therapy.. life.. would lead me to this point.
That I’d have to touch the sorest of sores.

xx

It’s A Bitch To Grow Up by Alanis Morissette
[scroll to bottom of page for lyrics in their entirety]

It’s A Bitch To Grow Up
[from the album Flavours of Entanglement]

It’s been 10 years of investment
It’s been one foot in and one out
It’s been 4 days of watershed
And I feel snuffed out

It’s been 33 years of restraining
Of trying to control this tumult
How I did invest in such fantasy
But my nervous system has worn out

I feel done, I feel raked over coals
And all that remains is the case
That it’s a bitch to grow up

I’ve repeated this dance ad-nauseum
There’s still something to learn that I’ve not
I’m told to see this as divine perfection
But my bones don’t feel this perfection

I feel done, I feel raked over coals
And all that remains is the case
That it’s a bitch to grow up

I’ve spent life hovering above bottom
Thinking I can’t survive what’s below
But I’ve known through the kicking and screaming
That there was no other direction to go

I feel done, I feel raked over coals
And all that remains is the case
That it’s a bitch to grow up

Alanis Morissette

 

Lyrics from It's A Bitch To Grow Up © Alanis Morissette

Precious Illusions And Letting Go of Them

“I’ve spent so much time living in survival mode..

These precious illusions in my head
Did not let me down when I was a kid
And parting with them is like parting with childhood best friends..

But, this won’t work now the way it once did..

Once I know who I’m not then I’ll know who I am
But I know I won’t keep on playing the victim..”

Yep, you guessed it.
Ms Morissette again. This time semi-disjointed lines from her song “Precious Illusions”. Let’s take it from the top:

I’ve spent so much time living in survival mode
Alarmingly true. Having spent so many years as a child and young adult living in this way it’s as if my brain has got stuck in this mode. Long after the danger is over, my body, mind and soul still react to things as if I am still existing in a permanently heightened state of emergency. My defences spike at the smallest provocation.

Did not let me down when I was a kid
And parting with them is like parting with childhood best friends.”
A highly esteemed way of protecting myself; telling myself that no one knew and no one could have known. And, if they didn’t know what was going on, then they also didn’t fail in their job of safeguarding me. Simple and bullet-proof reasoning that got me through for years. No need to think that people simply couldn’t cope, didn’t know what to do, didn’t have the guts to act. Why in the world would anyone want to let go of that idea?

But, this won’t work now the way it once did.”
Maybe the idea isn’t quite as bullet-proof as I’ve been telling myself? Maybe through thinking about what happened, through talking about it in therapy, through hefty doses of reality-checking, a tiny seed of doubt has been sown, growing into a vine of “doesn’t quite add up“. And if it doesn’t add up – then that’s a massive challenge of my own home-spun defence of those around me. A big blow that is causing the coat of armour to crack. And if those oh-so-precious illusions are let go of, what does that mean? It changes everything, and at the same time it changes nothing – because, I’m guessing, maybe that seed of doubt wasn’t actually sown in therapy. Maybe it was always there. Maybe it’s something that has merely been uncovered, allowed to surface? And now I have to deal with this more real reality.

“Once I know who I’m not, then I’ll know who I am
But I know I won’t keep on playing the victim.

Not quite there yet, so the search for who I am and how I truly feel about the discoveries I make goes on. The struggle to understand and finding better ways of coping continues.

And off to therapy I go.

xx

Lyrics from Precious Illusions © Alanis Morissette

Birthdays, Psychotherapy & London Rain

Called my little brother today. I rarely talk to him other than when I’m home and he happens to be there at the same time. We don’t really stay in touch much in between. But, today is his birthday, so a phonecall was due. It was nice to hear his voice, but, for some reason, on the phone we are quite awkward. The conversation isn’t exactly free-flowing. But, I’m still glad I called him. He’s my little brother, and fraught as our relationship is, I do love him.

My very first memory is of him. Well – technically – the more vivid bits of my memory is of riding the lift up to the maternity ward, but I do also have a fleeting memory of seeing my little brother for the first time. I was very nearly three at the time.

In other news:
I’ve finally “outed” myself in therapy.
No – this isn’t a sexuality related thing. It’s faith related. Which most of you reading this post will already know.

It’s taken me the better part of eight months to get to the point where I felt able to talk about my decision to convert in therapy. That – by the way – says more about me than it does about A. Or.. hm.. is that true? Maybe it says something about the both of us? Our relationship? Just having a few random thoughts in my head, as I’m writing this.

I have talked about this to pretty much everyone of importance in my life. My various family members, my close friends, most of my workmates, housemates.. Pretty much everyone but A.

For some reason something has held me back in these past several months. I mean, some of the reasons I feel quite aware of; the question of “Am I allowed to do this?”, the worry about intruding on someone’s turf.. [Someone meaning A.’s turf]. But I’m sure there’s more to it than just what I can see on the surface. And I’m looking forward to exploring what those reasons could be.

What else?

Went out for dinner with some of my workmates on Saturday evening. Really enjoyed it. It’s a really good, friendly gang. Got absolutely soaked on the way home, though.

That said, I kind of like torrential rain. There’s something quite purifying about it. Like being washed clean, spiritually, somehow.

It’s like Heather Nova says: “..nothing falls like London rain..”

Just love the opening lines of that song. Used to be a favourite text message to send to my ex on a rainy day.

“..I’m coming..
..I’m coming home to you..
..I’m alive, I’m a mess..
..I can’t wait to get home to you..
..to get warm..
..warm and undressed..”

London Rain [Nothing Heals Me Like You Do] – Heather Nova

Lyrics from London Rain [Nothing Heals Me Like You Do] ©  Heather Nova

Gravitation, Psychotherapy & Letting Go Of Control

Those in the know claim that gravity is the weakest of the four fundamental forces [interactions], proven by the fact that even a very small magnet can pick up a paperclip, and thereby out-power gravity. I’m not sure, but maybe this is why I sometimes feel like I’m falling off the face of earth the second I let go of even a little bit of control.

In most instances I’m actually not much of a control freak. But when it comes to being in charge of feelings, boy do I keep my cards close to my chest!

This is, naturally, something I am trying to challenge in my therapy. Allowing myself to feel the full force of my emotions, and also letting A. catch a glimpse of it every once in a while.

It’s hard work, letting go of control. It’s frightening and draining and sometimes excruciatingly painful. But, you know what they say; no pain no gain!

So, lately, this has been my objective in session. To try not to fight whatever emotion is roused within, but to let it come, if not quite to the open, at least very close to the surface.

And, I think I’m doing reasonably well. I mean, I’ve yet to cry in session – but I am getting much better at sitting with my feelings and trying to dress them in words. Also, I am trying to bring all of me to session. By that I mean that rather than sharing some things with some people, and other things with other people [thus spreading the risk of over-burdening any one person], I am trying to be as open as I possibly can with A.

That said, there is still one area which I am very much struggling to talk about in session, but I think I am nudging closer to perhaps daring to share it with her.

You see, the thing with therapy is that it’s not a 12-step program, going from A to B to C; it’s a process, and as such you’re allowed to take your time, to test the water. Dip your toe before taking the plunge.

In the last few sessions I have got really close to just go for it – to take a deep breath and let go and trust that A. will catch me. I feel like I’m at the very edge of my fear, and any session now it will happen.

Hopefully.

I leave you with this Swedish track: “Gravitation” by Kent.
(Be a bit patient with the commercial at the beginning of the clip).

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

D.A.M – An Entry About Memories

I feel sick. Stupidly wolfed down a pizza on my own in less than fifteen minutes. Somewhat unlike me to binge in that way, I’m too much of a control freak to do that, usually – but lately I’ve been continuously hungry, and I can’t seem to stop eating.

Listening to my D.A.M playlist as I’m writing this. D.A.M is short for Depressed Angry Music. Has everything from Rammstein to Nitin Sawhney on it. Quite a wide range, in terms of genres – but all tracks are on the theme of depression, anger, frustration, gimme-a-plate-and-I’ll-smash-it..

“..I just wanna be destructive
trash everything in sight
beat the d’vil at his game
abuse myself all night

I wanna bitch the world out
one loud aching scream
don’t want anybody
wanting anything from me

I just wanna be destructive..”

You get the idea.

I’m just feeling very very frustrated at the moment. Had a few really rough sessions last week in therapy. The one I crowned ‘roughest one yet’ the other week was, it turns out, tip of the iceberg material. In last session things tumbled out of me that I hadn’t remember until in that moment, and that’s a pretty scary thing to cope with; the not knowing what might come next. It wasn’t in the form of flashbacks, which I am grateful for, since flashbacks – in contrast to normal memories – you have no way of shielding yourself from. But even without the re-living through flashbacks, sickening memories are still.. well.. sickening.

Had to pause a few times in the session, covering my head with my hands and arms, and repeating out loud that “I really don’t want to remember this, I really don’t want to remember this”.. Almost as if by covering my head, by closing my eyes, I might be able to stop the memories from emerging.

And yet, as hard as this whole remembering things is.. maybe it’s a good thing? Maybe it’s a sign that I’m better able to manage this now? Maybe I’m more ready to let my feelings come out? And the fact that I remembered things in session, maybe that is an indication that I actually feel safe enough with A. for that to happen?

Also, now that I’m at home, alone with my memories – rather than switching me into must-get-scalpels-out mode – well, it seems to come out in very sudden bursts of anger.

That’s right. You heard me. I used the A word.
About me.

Goes to show, doesn’t it? That anything is possible.

And that’s a good thing.

xx

PS. The lyrics above are from LeAnn Rimes’ “destructive”. Fantastic version of the song below – recorded at legendary Abbey Road Studios. (Also check out the Dann Huff produced album version.)

Lyrics from Destructive ©  LeAnn Rimes

Sadness, Loss & Choices

I’m feeling very lost at the moment. Lost and sad and full of grief.

A friend of mine died recently. She killed herself. She made the same decision I made, the only difference being that she succeeded. Only that doesn’t feel like the right word. She failed to survive. And now she is in a place where I can’t reach her.

Those of you who know me, also know that I don’t cry easily. Almost as if I don’t know how to. But in the past week I have cried more tears than I can ever remember. Not just for my friend, but for all the ones I have lost, who I miss, who I wish I could have just one more minute with.

I’ve not really felt able to do much since I found out about my friend. It feels too hard. And yet I keep thinking that I should. I should be doing all the things she will never get to do. Write the poems she will never write, have the children she’ll never have, talk to the people she will never get to know..

Do I feel guilty? The honest answer is that I don’t know. All I know is that she used to call me when things were rough, and this time she didn’t. And that I wish things were different, but they’re not.

I know that when a person makes that decision, when they make it for real, nothing anyone says or does can change it. I know, because I’ve been there.

And yet, I am here, and she is not. The difference is enormous, and at the same time only seconds apart. Half a breath, a heart beat missed. All that stands between her and I.

I’ve been saying lately to my sisters and my friends, that it feels as if something inside of me has changed. Something big. Important. I’m not sure I can put into words, but it’s the difference between seeing death as an option, and knowing that it’s not. I still believe in a person’s right to choose for themselves. But believing that a person has the power to choose, doesn’t mean that the decision they make is the right one.

There are no guarantees, no way of knowing that I won’t ever dip as low as I have before, that I won’t lose hope. But I hope that even if I do, I’ll remember my friend. Remember my feelings in this moment. That life is a precious gift, something to protect. To make the most of.

xx


“How many days are left
And what to spend them on?
Should I keep working
Or sit and marvel at the sun?”

HN

PS. I found this blog some time ago. An entry about one of my favourite songs, and about death: How To Save A Life

Lyrics from Drink It In © Heather Nova

CBT, Irony & An Icelandic Wunder Woman – An Entry About Human Behaviour

As part of a course I am currently doing I have lately been brushing up on my understanding of various approaches to counselling and psychotherapy, and the other day I found myself reading a chapter on CBT.

Now, CBT not being one of the approaches that sits best with me for a number of reasons (at least not as a stand-alone approach), I soon allowed my mind to wander off elsewhere. Like a good pseudo-student I was still reading, I just sort of didn’t really put my heart and soul into it. I jotted down the odd comment here and there, but really, I was basically skimming, rather than studying. While I was doing this I began tapping the back of my pen against the desk and soon enough I had got into a rhythm of sorts.

Then suddenly, out of nowhere, Icelandic wunder woman Björk decided to join in my little game of playful study-distraction. Naturally not in a literal sense, as this was all happening in the comfort of my own home, and Björk rarely happens to drop in on me, but a melody began playing in my head. (You know what it’s like; suddenly you get a tune in your head, and it just keeps playing on repeat.) At first I couldn’t quite make out which one of her songs it was, so I started humming along (as quietly as I could, as I severely lack in musical talent and wouldn’t want to frighten my unsuspecting house mates), half-singing, half-saying the words, as I happily tapped away.

I wasn’t paying any real attention to what I was doing, it was just one of those semi-automatic things that you find yourself doing and it wasn’t until several minutes later that I realised what it was I was actually singing..

“.. oh, and there is no map.. and a compass wouldn’t help at all.. there’s definitely, definitely, no logic.. to human behaviour..”

Now, if that’s not irony, I don’t know what is. Reading about cognitive behavioural theory, while internally stating to myself over and over that there’s definitely no logic to human behaviour.

xx

Lyrics from Human Behaviour © Björk

Drifting – An Entry About Finding Your Way Home

Don’t quite know where to start this entry, so.. three deep breaths and here we go.. Don’t forget that spoonful of courage before you dive in!
Seriously.

Today is a week ago since my little brother’s wedding, and it has been a pretty hellish week for me. Went down, deep below the surface of living, drowning in pain. And I’m only now, slowly, slowly re-emerging.

It’s what I do when I’m in the depths of despair (to use an Anne of Green Gables-ism). I disappear. I cut off from everyone who could possibly make me feel better. It’s a many faceted thing; it’s firstly self-deprivation – a sense that I simply don’t deserve to be in touch with the people who love me the most and who would actually be willing to do anything to help me. It’s also a wish to protect them from the blackness that I’m feeling, almost as if I worry that I will somehow drag them down with me, tarnish their purity with my own darkness. And I don’t want them to see me when I’m at my very lowest. Because it’s an excruciatingly frightening thing to witness. I know this from personal experience. This last aspect – the wish to protect – extends first and foremost (although not exclusively) to my sisters. But it’s a double edged sword.. I want to protect them from the experience of seeing me at the verge of suicide by not being in touch with them, but because they know me so well, they know that I would never ever cut them off in this way unless I’m actually at that point. Which, I imagine, is just as frightening. And so knowing that I’m doing that to them, well, it feeds into this cycle of self-disgust, and I end up being even more angry with all that I am. And round and round I go.

During these last few days I have been going from being all-consumed with pain, just curled up in bed, crying, unable to move, speak, think, to completely switching off all emotions. From one to the other in three quarters of a split second. And it completely freaks me out. Because it’s when I do that – when I switch off suddenly like that – that my impulsively destructive behaviour comes into play. Spent two full days playing the choking game repeatedly, coiling a cord round my neck three times and pulling hard until I black out. A dangerous game, that really isn’t a game at all, since it could potentially have a deadly consequence. But I just can’t stop myself when I’m like that.

It’s like there is so much pain that I forget – or worse – ignore the rational part of myself, the part that wants to live and wants to work through my issues, and all I can think is to make the pain go away, any way possible, including killing myself.

Needless to say, it’s been a pretty rough week for me. And I’m not entirely sure I’m over it. But, yesterday I had another worried text from my sister, which, for some reason got through to something inside me: “No blog and no sound.. Makes me wonder where you are..”

And I thought to myself, I just can’t keep doing this. I can’t keep punishing myself and others for something that simply wasn’t my fault. So I texted back.
A single word. “Drifting.”

To which my beloved more than sister replied:

“..but somewhere below you there’s people who love you. ..and they’re ready for you to come home..”

So, I guess that’s what I’m doing now; trying to find my way back home.

xx

Drifting by Sarah McLachlan

Lyrics from Drifting © Sarah McLachlan