When therapy has a hitch

I’ve been seeing my therapist for about six months now. She’s a trauma specialist. I’ve told her things I’ve literally not shared with anyone else. She has seen me disassociate, panic, stare gloomily out the window for a good 40 minutes.  She has seen me shout angrily, WHY WHY WHY?? She has seen me sob. She has seen me vulnerable, which is even hard to write because I find that such an excruciatingly hard position to be in. With Anne, I have shared fears, I have looked to the floor in shame and recounted events, I have spilled nightmares and fears.  Whispered things that I never thought would leave my mouth. And when things are just too hard, I have scrawled things down on paper and shown them to her. I have also laughed with Anne, talked about my family, shared anecdotes of daily life. Aside from my husband, Anne knows the deep intricacies of my life. What makes me tick. What scares me, the insidious evil within me, what sets me aside from everyone else, what distorts me, when I’m genuinely happy, when I don’t understand things, I have seen counsellors and therapists before, but none I have felt safe with or trusted.

I understand that therapists can get sick, That they have holidays and that they have families that can get sick. The odd change in appointments was fine. But it became forgotten appointments, changes within weeks, promises of rescheduled days but not following through. We talked this through and she was very apologetic and said she would try harder. Now, come Monday, I am sitting in the offices.  Its been three weeks because she has been sick again and then had a holiday – that’s ok I understand. But there are things I am keen to discuss. I wait patiently sipping coffee. Time ticks by. After 15 mins I text her to see if she has been held up. She calls immediately. She apologies. She forgot our appointment. I tell her that’s fine, no problem. I put my half drunk coffee down, walk over to the lifts. The lift takes so long. The tears are welling up. Come on, pushing the button over and over. I will not cry in public.

I need to get to my car. I need to get my sunglasses on, I need to start driving, I need to pretend this hasn’t happened.

So many things I wanted to talk about. So many things that will be left unsaid.

I had a call today from the manager of the centre. Turns out Anne had called her concerned and had wanted to explain to her, for her then to explain me how sorry she was and how much she was committed to the therapeutic process and, well, to see if I was ok.

But I was raw. I don’t open up often. There are few people that I am able to confide in. I don’t intend on making any snap decisions where Anne is concerned.

Some people say there’s no timer on getting over things. But maybe there is after all. It certainly seems no one wants to listen.

Revenge

We’ve all been in situations or at least known someone at some point in our lives when revenge becomes a hot topic. The ‘cheating partner’ or the mean person at school/college/university/work.  Someone has betrayed you, made a fool or you, or you feel its your place to put them in their place.

But what about if someone hurts you very badly. What if someone demeans, demoralises, terrorises you, hurts you, shames you, wounds you, irreparable changes your life for the worst.  Impacts your entire life so enormously that life will never be the same, That the damage is so great, so deep that a part of you dies?

Other people, outsiders, they might suggest a form of revenge. To them, to the outsiders, it seems an obvious form of getting equal. Of getting peace. And I’m sure there are some people that having fallen victim to that, might agree.

I’m not to judge that. No one can judge anyone unless they have walked in their shoes.

But for me, revenge is something I could never truly comprehend. If I hurt someone physically, then surely I am no better than anyone that hurt me? If I incite fear, am I not repeating what was done to me? If so, what is to gain? Would I feel better? Or would I feel less of a person?  If I let someone else hurt someone for me, I am merely allowing someone else to break the law on my behalf. Why would I want someone I care about to break to the law and put their own future at risk?

I used to believe in the justice system. I consider myself a smart woman, Naive at times, but certainly not to the degree that I would have expected when it was put to the test. The justice system is seems, is not infallible. A very upsetting and shocking wake up call for me. But that doesn’t mean I believe people should become vigilantes and take the law unto their own hands.

I feel miserable that while I am left to carry a burden, others are left to be free.

When I was in the UK, I thought the ‘moment’ when a chance encounter would render me the powerful one. The smart words, the one in charge, no longer living in fear, in the shadows, But it was only a fantasy. It will only be a fantasy. The truth is, I’m scared. I will always be scared. When it comes to matters of the past I will always regress.

So I can fantasise about my moment when I am big and brave and the one in the control, but all it is is a fantasy.

Reality can be a brutal punch sometimes. But then, better to live in the knowledge that I don’t have it in me to be evil. That although at times it feels like insidious evil was forced into me, That I feel damaged and wrong. The truth is, I don’t have it in me to really do anything at all. Does that make me weak? Him win? Or me the better person? The riddle I will live with for eternity.

Truth and loyalty

I’m a complicated person. There is nothing special about me. I don’t proclaim to have all the answers. I’m far from perfect. I make mistakes often, I speak out of turn. I infuriate people, I offend people, my failures haunt me for years. No one can give me a harder time than I give myself.

But there’s one thing I offer my friends that remains consistent, it’s my honesty and my loyalty. Believe me, if my friends want to take me to some party to impress others – I am NOT that friend, if my friend is dating someone completely inappropriate, I am NOT the friend that they will take to introduce. I offer my honest opinion and I stand by loyally. Often it means people I care about hear truths that perhaps they don’t want to hear. But you know what, never can I be accused of saying something behind someone’s back. I call things as I see them. I try to manage not being too blunt. And I ask, rather expect the same of my friends. If I hear mixed messages and this confuses me, it angers and upsets me. I would rather take the initial hurt and process it then find out later. To deny someone honesty and loyalty in any situation is the greatest show of disrespect and disregard there ever is. I find that inexcusable. Because in life, we don’t have much to offer our fellow man. Basic courtesy is something that can never be taken away for us. That can never be manipulated, or twisted by anyone else. Even during my darkest hour, when I feel sad and alone, my friends know, I will be there for them. That if they ask me a question, I will answer honestly. So although I struggle with my demons and my moods, and nightmares tear at my sleep and my past will grip me in a vice, I know, and my friends know, you ask a question, you get the truth. You need me, I’m there. It’s amazing when you learn that very few people can offer the same. Those that can you need to hold onto with both hands and cherish. Those that can’t are best left, usually in the past.

So, I’m on the increased medication and I’m certainly functioning a lot better than I was. I can’t say as if I’m skipping around town, but I’m certainly doing a lot more than I was. The children are on Easter holiday. We had gone away for the long weekend which was lovely and relaxing and nice to be out of the city. For the remainder of the time they are in a holiday programme which they are thoroughly enjoying as it has lots of activities. I’m happy to see them getting out and about.

I’ve not had therapy for a while as my therapist has been on holiday. Perhaps this has been a good thing as it’s given me a break. I had one set of terrible nightmares while we were away, which isn’t too unusual as we were away and then another bad night when we returned. I believe that second night might have been triggered by a programme on television. It’s strange that my symptoms of PTSD have generally subsided with the reprieve in the therapy. I do feel anxiety from an argument I had with some people from my past. Unfortunately, when you confide in people, there is always a risk that you choose the wrong people and they are unhelpful. Their responses are callous and selfish. You just have to be so careful. I guess I expected too much from the wrong people. That kind of judgment call doesn’t get easier to deal with. But there’s no point wasting more time and energy getting upset over it. And I refuse to be made to feel bad by others inability to act with honesty and integrity. Unfortunately this isn’t the first time I’ve been made to feel bad by the same people. Sometimes you have to recognise the pattern – even though it hurts.

I’m not sure where I’m going from here. I’m still waiting for the medication to balance out I guess. I seem to be in limbo. My confidence has taken a knock so I’m unsure about looking at getting into contract work again. I’m anxious about resuming therapy. It always feels difficult after a long break. I guess we’ll see….

My Nan

This morning, for some reason, I’m thinking a lot about my paternal grandmother. She was everything to me. A wonderful, close loving Nan. The only person that I can honestly say has ever truly seen me, and offered me unconditional love. For many hours we sat chatting over tea in her kitchen. She really saw me. She listened.

I honestly considered telling her my hidden truths. Sharing with her my deepest secrets, if anyone could give me some light and make me feel less alone it would be her. And I genuinely believe she her love, as unconditional and pure as it was, would have protected me. Would have tried to heal me. But the words, they always caught. Our time, our relationship was so special. I couldn’t bare to taint it. It was a special bond. Sacred. I wanted to bask in its beauty. Relish my Nan’s love and adoration, not drain her nor form expectations and certainly not hurt her.

My one perfect person growing up. When she was diagnosed with cancer I was NZ, and my parents as usual decided to hold the truth to ‘protect’ me. Unfortunately they left it too late. So I flew back in time to see her in her very last moments of conciousness. She was ravished by the cancer. Tiny, fragile. I hardly recognised her. Intermittent moments of being lucid. I didn’t want her to leave me. I wanted her to wait until she could she me marry and have children. But that wasn’t meant to be. In one of her most lucid moments, I told her, I understood she had to go. That it was her time. That she should go and be in peace with my grandad. She looked into my eyes, smiled weakly, said she hoped so, that it would be nice, and then and drifted away. She never woke up again.

My heart broke into a thousand pieces.

Of course my family don’t do emotion. They do don’t do grief or tears or anything like that. It was stifling. Suffocating.

I next saw my nan at the funeral home in an open coffin. The grief rose like a painful bubble and I doubled over and screamed and cried. My father shoved his hand around my throat and mouth, and dragged me out of there. He made me feel guilty. He made me feel bad.

But I’d wanted to scream and cry. I’d wanted to grieve and let go of the hurt. To grieve for all the conversations over the kitchen table, all the giggles like best friends, the fact she would never see me have children, the fact she was the only person that told me she was proud of me, the only person that would love me fiercely and that I loved so deeply. As usual I was muted, aggressively.

At the funeral, I did a speech. It took everything I had not to break down. My fathers expectations kept me from being emotional. I felt so suffocated again. No one cried. My family don’t do that.

After the funeral, I had to leave the UK again. I couldn’t bear to be around all this hurt. All these stifled emotions. All these lies.

My darling Nan, god I miss you.

Moving but not getting anywhere

So the usual Monday routine. I’m so bored of writing it! I’m so bored of it happening!

See the psychiatrist.

How am I sleeping? Not great.
Suicidality? Not present
Delusions? Not present – we can all hear that plant singing right?
PTSD symptoms? Better, my therapist is ill again – she’s the most unhealthiest therapist I’ve ever met!
Motivation? I’m upright.
Regular showers? BOOM! On it! Not so stinky anymore.
Time out of bed? Increased

I say, I’m fed up. I’m in a hole. I ain’t getting out. She says, ‘we met one month ago. You disassociated constantly, you couldn’t string a sentence together, and you didn’t want to wake up in the mornings. I’d say there’s been marginal improvement.’ It’s good to hear. I can’t see markers. That’s the problem when you’re in the thick of it. I can see that I’m turning into a big butterball though. Medication is great, but most medication comes at the cost of increasing your waistline, even though like most people in the thick of a depressive episode, you hardly eat anything. How the f_ck that happens I’m not sure. But it’s not fair. I told the dr that these anti psychotics are great for me, they have a good history of working for me, but they also have a history of fattening me up like an Xmas Turkey. And after a month of taking an increased dose, I’m already feeling weight coming back quickly. And the thing with depression is that I severely lack motivation to head out to the gym and if anyone writes to me about the correlation between exercise and mental health, I might have to do evil voodoo spells about you. We all know what the leaflets says. And when I’m in a good headspace I will be back to the good healthy gym going bunny I have been in the past. But for now, I’m too busy being a mother of 4, and trying not to stick my head in the microwave.

So, we’ve agreed to the ceiling of 400mg of quietiepine and I’m going back to trusty old lithium as a mood stabiliser. So that’s lots of blood testing and a whole new regime of self care. But at least it should stop my mood from dropping again. I had hoped to avoid that again, but it wasn’t meant to be. My brain clearly can’t be trusted to regulate itself. Gradually I can come off of the quietiepine. That’s a good thing.

Generally I’m feeling a bit fed up with things. It’s Easter weekend this week and we’re heading away for the weekend out of the city and I’m really looking forward to it. I need a change of scenery.

My daughters principle is being a real wanker. It all started when they were in after school care and a 14 year old boy from a different school expressed an unhealthy interest in my 7 year old daughter, and there was no supervision. A cleaner intervened when my daughter lifted her skirt to him. And my daughter got told off. Er, HELL NO! I was as at the school quicker than anything to have a word with the principle. Firstly, my daughter is 7 and not to blame, second, why are my children unsupervised during a paid for supervised after school care programme, thirdly, why is the cleaner intervening, and fourthly, who the hell is this boy on school grounds?

The principle didn’t appreciate my no nonsense approach. He looked to my husband. He is the sort of principle that has mothers draping themselves over him, but isn’t used to a mother tearing a few strips off of him. He got defensive. He really is a small silly man. We went to the board of trustees. We had a meeting. My recommendations were more teachers, currently it can be anything around 35/40 kids and 2 teachers, they have no idea where the kids are, it’s poorly managed. And no one knew who this older kid was, I wanted his identity found out a trespass order notice issued and the police notified. I just think he, and his parents need to be spoken to. I’m frankly shocked that the principle could show such a lack of knowledge and such a obvious show of victim blaming culture.

Anyway, the board and trustees and the ministry of education have been very supportive. Since then the principle just likes to pick at me wherever possible. Usually where I stop the car to drop the kids off. It’s petty stuff. Its like he wants to reinforce his position at the school. Or his manhood or something. Unfortunately I have this capacity for resorting back to my own school days when I see him. A natural disregard for him and his authority.

So I’m just ticking along. Locking horns with the local hick principle. Living around my routines. Hoping to experience some joy. Hoping to get some passion back. Wishing I didn’t feel so tired.

Meh, I bore myself.

2 steps forward, 10 steps back

The nature of the beast. Last week I tasted the sweetness of what I thought was healing. I saw and felt the sun, I felt positive, I felt happy. I allowed myself to believe this was the start. I smiled, I felt the shifts beginning inside of me.

My psychiatrist had been away working nights, so on the Monday after not seeing her for a couple of weeks, I looked forward to showing her this improved self. More like myself.

However, this was not to be. The beast took its grip once more. Reminding me that to extent I am it’s mercy and I can never become complacement.

Sunday night I had a succession of cruel, violent, shocking nightmares. Unlike anything I have experienced for long time. I have no idea what prompted this. Each one woke me up in panic, terrified, upset, rocked to the core. I was able to sleep again, but then another nightmare. Equally as shocking, vivid, violent, graphic. I felt ripped apart.

By morning I was just a shell of myself. I could barely think/move.

By the time i saw the Dr, I couldn’t fake the mood I’d previously been in. I sat there with lank hair, no doubt the 1000 yard stare, I was anxious, jumpy, sad, I just felt terrible. I tried to tiredly and without much enthusiasm sell how id been the previous week. It sounded unbelievable. I WAS happy, I WAS content, I WAS feeling better, it’s just the nightmares you see.

Clearly she struggled to imagine anything past the state I was in and increased my medication again.

The following day, I heard news about someone from my past. The information was volunteered in a bid to make me feel better.

But here’s the thing, for some people, closure comes in knowing other people are suffering. And that’s fine. I can understand that, and respect that. For me, when the devil has come into my life, I don’t want it to come back into my life. Ever. Through any form. Particularly through the someone I care about it. It reinforces it’s insidious, dark nature, that it can always get to me. That I can never be free. There is a part of me, the dark curious part that wants to know, but that’s just natural human curiousty, I refuse to give into that. It’s that same curiosity that wants to look at a car crash. It’s morbid.

I feel miserable. I’m wondering if I can get through this. I feel weak and tired. Last week I’m sure was a promise and not a cruel joke.

Damn these stupid nightmares.

Everyday life

This week has been an odd little bundle of complications. Of frustrations and blindsided punches. I’ve been left feeling tired, but thanks in part, well ok mostly to good medication, and an unstoppable desire to keep fighting the good fight, I have ridden through it. Saturday sees me heading out to the city – yep, leaving the comfort and security of my bed, and taking a stroll around my beautiful city on a warm, sunny, Autumnal day.

One of my ‘bundles’ was a teleconference with the ‘select committee’ that consisted of representatives from the various political parties, and the press and then me giving my oral submission as to why rape crisis centres in New Zealand should qualify for more funding. I was terrified! I knew the majority of oral submissions would be professionally given and I had never done such a thing before. I felt so anxious after the call, I literally almost passed out. A little dramatic I know. It was in part the crass and cold nature of the call as well as the introduction to the large audience listening. I wish I had the capacity to listen to it back. I am of course my own worse critic, so I have started to doubt the things I said and worried I didn’t get my point across very well.

My husband was away for a night and a couple of weeks ago there is not a single chance I could have coped with that, but we all survived unscathed.

I’m taking good care of my health, I know when to rest, I know to avoid too much stimuli via television programmes or movies that will prompt my PTSD symptoms, my therapy sessions are less intense, I know to continue with my daily objectives but not push beyond that.

Some people, they see taking medication as a weakness, or they worry that the medication means they are not ‘truly’ happy. It is sad that people have a chemical imbalance in their brain, like people can’t control their insulin, or their heart rate. We must all take measures, dietary, holistically, physically, and medically to reach a healthy balance. I don’t feel weak because I take medication. I don’t feel like I’ve failed, and I certainly don’t feel fake. I don’t believe I’m meant to feel like I live in the bowels of hell every waking moment! And the pills aren’t magic, I’m not dancing along the streets either. It takes work – credit where it’s due people.

Don’t judge anyone that takes a paracetamol for a headache, insulin for diatebes, antidepressants for depression, quietiepine for the psychosis aspect of a terrible low, that needs a pacemaker for a tired heart, glasses to aid vision, in fact anything you don’t understand or doesn’t sit comfortably within the realms of what exists in your existance.

Everyone is on a journey. It takes a hell of a lot of courage to speak up. And I say to anyone, ANYONE that is feeling so terribly dark and low and alone, simply, LIVE. There are many more experiences to have in this life. A few weeks ago I wanted nothing more than to go sleep and never to wake up. I asked for help. I got the right medication. And I don’t care what anyone says to that. It’s my quite literally, my life.

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