Be careful which company you keep

There is an argument that we all know and we all set our beliefs around – nature vs nurture. Like politics and religion, it’s something that can be argued about to the death, with strong research for both. Personally I have always stuck to the nurture argument. Of course, swapping opinions is one thing – but what if the debate effects your very life and those around it. What about if the person you fear most, the most dangerous person you ever personally meet has family that integrates with people you know? The nurture argument dictates that this person had precursors, learnt behaviours, anger, beliefs, narcissism, even psychotic tendencies that came from somewhere. Or were at least acknowledged – probably ignored. If someone can destroy a persons life, and show a side that is so evil, so angry, so violent, how can anyone want to be friendly with anyone that’s part of that. That’s maybe even created that? How can anyone justify that to the person that suffered the trauma? As though what that person has suffered is what? Time expired? Not that bad? Am I to believe that these ‘roots’ can be really good? Really nice? I sense that if I look into the eyes I will see a resemblance so deep that I will be rocked to my very core. That I will be sick and thrust into a world of new pain and memories.

Oh, it’s easy for those that are removed. Those without the evil, those that don’t hear the screams, know the struggles, those that were blind at the time. And that’s it, that’s what it’s all about.

SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL.

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Bad day – therapy that never happened

Today has been truly awful. I had hoped for the relief of therapy. But it didn’t happen. Rather than explaining the whole thing, I will paste the email I just sent to my therapist – as it explains it all for me;

“Hi Anne

You told me last week that you had to be very strict about allotted time slots because of your work load and clients. I had been the one previously that said it was impossible to offer clients set hours as needs vary so you know that I do not take issue with appointment times that lag and think its unrealistic to get people in and out within an hour, if it was that tidy – I think something is going wrong. People can’t be unzipped and tidily zipped up 58 minutes 58 seconds later.

I waited zipped up in that waiting room until 1pm. Slowly I became uncoiled. It’s unlike me to have that emotion, but I have been triggered and could no longer hold the barrage of emotions. The ones we try so hard to reach. By 1:10, I was sobbing. I had no intention of knocking on the door, of revealing my plight to anyone. That’s my choice – and I don’t have a level of trust with anyone else. I opted to get out and dodge.

Your voicemail was, to be honest, quite shitty. You might as well have said, hey, what are you being unreasonable for? If our appointment goes late -you want to hope someone else has more patience. Might you have considered that perhaps I didn’t take off because of impatience – have I ever.? But because I was so frail and emotional. I had moved the car and parked and toyed with going back, I wanted you to know the reason I left was because of my very public upset. Your text ‘I’m sorry you didn’t feel you could cry here’ no I couldn’t cry in the waiting room. By default that’s not its purpose. You know me well enough to know I associate crying with shame and fear, embarrassment and failure. And your “I’m sorry you didn’t feel you could cry here” is classic putting it all onto me. Again, you could say, “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

I’m sorry I broke down in the waiting room. Technically it was after 1pm, so within my allotted time. But I couldn’t zip it up, I couldn’t pull myself together, I didn’t want to talk to anyone.

Anyway, there is no purpose to this email then to tell you what I’m thinking,”

The Therapist’s response

I wanted my Therapist to fully understand the depth of emotion I have felt since our session. I felt my last blog entry succinctly described those emotions, so I sent her the blog entry. I received from her a response that I wanted to post here. Both as a reference for myself, and perhaps to help anyone else:

“thank you for your bravery and honesty. You are completely right in knowing that this territory feels deeply sad, desperately lonely and at times heart breaking. I am pleased though that you are feeling yr feelings and that despite the pain, you are managing to stay mindful and in the present. You are in the middle of a life changing process of healing through integrating the pain and reality of the past with the present. You are not stuck, you are working hard emotionally in what sometimes feels like fog and quicksand aye. Please remember that you are not alone, other people including myself know some of the terror and grief of the emotional landscape you are in and are here in present time to listen and be with you in yr grief and fury not matter how long this may take.”

Sometimes it helps to be reminded of where you are and to get some clarification on what is going on.

The emotional fallout

Since therapy Anne warned me that the emotions might come over the next couple of days. She wasn’t wrong. In fact since Thursday I have found myself incredibly emotional. Friday I was so exhausted, I’ve not known anything like it. Like I had been hit by a freight truck. I couldn’t keep my eyes open. And when I was awake I was tearful. It was unusual for me. I felt lost, quite alone with these feelings. I wanted to blog about them on the Friday, to explore the different feelings and fears, but the tiredness was too great. It was an oppressive tidal wave that wouldn’t relent in strength. Sleep didn’t seem to help, I never felt restful. The loneliness hasn’t subsided. Who can possibly understand these array of emotions? The fears and pain? The confusion and need for answers? The frustrations and anger and others as well as at myself for being weak?

I thought that therapy had become stagnant. I was worried that I couldn’t reach deep inside anymore. Clearly I have been able to and I feel conversely relieved and afraid.

Its amazing how much sadness one can feel as though something occurred only yesterday. The shame, the anger, the loneliness. Feelings that have been contained for so long. Feelings I have been trained not to feel.

WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY

The only question for so MANY things.

I’m tired. Therapy is ultimately meant to be freeing. But it also highlights to me that I have so much to confront and it is but a lonely road.

I feel my mood is stronger and stable to deal with this. I need to look inside myself. I am so sad for myself. And why not? No one else has been. 

Psychiatrist, Therapist, medication, II

Today has been a long and exhausting day. With varying degrees of success and progress, concern and failure.

Starting with the Psychiatrist, a random check of my mobile number revealed that most of my information was incorrect. Confidential information had initially been sent to my GP, but then for some reason been sent to another GP incorrectly.  Also my next of kin of someone I had never heard of, finally, ethnicity was wrong. I was infuriated that these mistakes could occur. I don’t appreciate my personal information being available to anyone. I have encountered in the past confidential information being accidentally shared and it causes me great stress. What people don’t realise is that the ramifications can be huge, there is life insurance, criminal matters, and information that can be extremely distressful if heard when not expected from someone not trained or qualified to have that information. You fill in forms, sign consent forms, give away personal information but you don’t expect receptionists and administration staff to make lazy and haphazard mistakes. As I say, its not the first and it won’t be the last time this happens to me. But I urge people to be extremely cautious when sharing information, signing waivers to medical staff.

On the progress side, the psychiatrist is pleased with my mood. She was surprised by my ability to drive the distances under such strong medications. I concur that I am easily more tired, which is why I’m keen to lower the quietiepiene. Most people can barely function on a relatively low dose, I’m sitting at 400mg every night. My lows are not just feeling a bit down, ‘come on, get up, have a walk’ I’m talking festering in bed, convinced demons are going to get my soul. Its terrifying. And medication like Seroquel is quite literally a life saver. But now its served its purpose. It didn’t make me sleepy when I was low. But now I feel the side effects because I’m functioning normally. Well, relatively normally!  There’s some anxiety I could drop again, but I feel that if that happens, I could increase the meds again. And I’m staying on the lithium now, and as a mood stabiliser, technically I shouldn’t fall down again. Decreasing the medication starts tonight. It will be increments. I am relieved.

Moving on, I saw my Therapist today. It was a particularly tough session. We talked about my inability to ‘feel’ the work I need to get through in relation to my past. It seems that as my mood has stabled, my brain has protectively stopped me from lingering over events of my history. Although its tempting to want to forge on and forget about it, the truth is I live my life with this baggage and periodically it will always flare up. Particularly in the form of PTSD symptoms. As well as in other ways, effecting my relationships, as a Mother, a Wife, a friend, physically, emotionally, etc. And I wouldn’t be true to myself if I didn’t face these things and deal with these things, as during my entire life – I never have. 

So as I worked today with Anne, I suddenly felt incredibly tired. Like I could fall asleep on the couch tired. I mentioned it and she told me that apparently that’s another form of disassociation. My body is finding another way to avoid something that’s difficult. Interesting.  I was keen to work through it. Desperate to start making some headway. It seems like ages ago Anne and I were really getting through the tough stuff. I tried very hard to stay focussed and not disassociate in any way shape or form. We talked about physical things that were extremely uncomfortable. But we felt at the moment talking about those things might psychologically prepare me for the intensity of therapy. Of how I feel about these things, what upsets me, what triggers me, why I feel ashamed, how I have learnt to manage these things over time, how to learn to feel and open up.

I spoke openly. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I tested the waters. I wanted to feel something. To spin the wheels of grief.

But aside from speaking some truths, my emotions remained intact.

Anne was happy with what I contributed though. She felt I had progressed. I just felt tired.

I was pleased to get home at the end of the day. I have to say, I did take another tumble, in style! – hurt my other foot!

Onwards and upwards!

  

Turning a corner (and predators)

The last few days were a road trip for me. I love road trips. The freedom, seeing the open expanse of my beautiful country, meeting different people.  Its refreshing and recharging. It gives me a  much needed  break from the daily routines and some quiet time from chores and demands of having a large family.  I made sure to make the most of it.  Stopping in Rotorua to indulge in some spa treatments that were greatly received and hot pools that warmed the soul.  I faced some of my recent fears induced by the low, going out at night and just doing things alone, despite the fear and anxiety.

I only had one nightmare while I was away about being suffocated and woke up in a panic, but otherwise I did extremely well.

On the whole I have felt more content,  more relaxed in my mood. My symptoms of PTSD tend to rise up occasionally, the last few days I have been quite jumpy and felt on the defensive – which is probably because my therapy is becoming consistent again.

Its frustrating that I can see the beauty of my country. Can feel free, can feel alive and to an extent feel safe. But then I can actually be free. I must rely on medications, there are periods when my PTSD symptoms can be stronger than others.

You know I see all this media around Rolf Harris, Max Clifford, etc. And I see these comments all over popular media. People are so judgemental of historic cases. Calling victims money grabbers. Doubting their stories. Doubting their credibility. Why? Because famous people cant possibly be guilty? Because if a case is so many years old it can’t possibly be true? What are people  so afraid of? That a predator could have walked undetected for so long? Then anyone can fall foul? That no one is actually safe. Is that the concern here? That the safe bubble we all live in where predators wear long dark coats and hover in shadows is what we have come to believe is the real world and these friendly looking family sorts are not?

People that make these comments, they have no idea. Time doesn’t heal all wounds. The media is right to bring it home -the devil comes in all shapes and sizes, socioeconomic backgrounds, marital status, and friendly faces. Life can never be the same once innocence is taken.

Tomorrow I catch up with the psychiatrist and the therapist. I really hope it will be time to start lowering medication. I feel that whilst my mood might still peak and trough I feel more confident about managing it. Its time now, I need to start taking some control or I might become too afraid to ever let go.

  

An ex – but so much more

When I was 18 I fell in love with a guy significantly older than me.  He was devastatingly good looking. Wherever we went women would stare with wild abandoned after him. That old adage, women wanted to be with him, men wanted to be him was entirely true. He owned a room. He was confident, mysterious, the whole bad boy persona. He had a complete disregard for the law, his friends were his lackies that would lay down for him. He feared nothing. Everything was handed to him. He was invincible, untouchable. I both feared and revered him.  I watched as criminal charges never stuck to him, alibis were always formed, other people took the rap, he was as I say, untouchable.

His greatest weakness was Jack Daniels. He woke and that was his first taste. At night that was his last taste. As time went on, my role became to put him in the recovery position to ensure he didn’t choke on his own vomit. Of course, the women that lusted over him didn’t see the drug habit, the paranoia. Eating raw meat in the night, the anger and growling like a wild animal, that still haunts me today – I have never heard a man make a noise like that since. I don’t know if it was him, the combination of drugs and alcohol, but that primitive growl is something I can never forget. The threats, convinced I had been seeing other people (I was totally devoted to him). The gradual isolation from my own friends, from my own job. Locking me in the bedroom one weekend and taking my clothes as a punishment and a reminder that I was his property. That I should rely on him for bathroom breaks and food and water. That I only needed him. The things he would force on me because I was ‘HIS’ and thus he was entitled to do as he wished when he wished. If I cried he would get angry, if I tried to object he would be angry. He knew about my history, he would say, I’m not a bad person, you will give me this or you will kiss me like a boyfriend because that’s what I am. You love me, so you will do this, etc. Sometimes I would be in pain. Sometimes I would feel so terribly unclean. He caught me once in the shower (I was not under any circumstances allowed to lock the bathroom door) showering using bathroom cleaner, he was absolutely livid. I paid for that. On a business trip I took him and we stayed in a hotel, I was showering, he turned the lights off, whipped me with a spun towel until I bled and then shut me in a dark bathroom (I’ve always been afraid of the dark). Now when I stay in hotels, I have never been able to shut the bathroom door, and if someone is with me I have to beg them to be careful not to turn out the light by accident.

This relationship lasted nearly a year. I was young and naïve. I thought it would get better.  It didn’t, it got worse. One day his brother in law stopped and said, ‘If you don’t leave him now, you will leave in a body bag, is that what you want?’ I was shocked as hell. No one had ever spoken out against him before. It rocked me to the very core, but the fact was, it was true. He was getting worse. Police were turning up regularly and he was dodging some serious charges. His drugs and alcohol use was out of control. My friends had all but given up on me. I have no one.

The final straw came one day, he took a knife and threatened to stab me.  I ran. I and kept running. He left voicemails to say he would find me. He didn’t.

That was a long time ago. Why mention it now? Because I just saw a programme with domestic violence on the television and it triggered me. Because I’m an advocate for Women’s Refuge. Because it never really goes away. Because people have no idea how easy it is to get into that situation. I’m a strong, independent, assertive woman. You wouldn’t think it would have been possible for me to fall for someone like that. But I did. Gradually he wore me down. What previously I never in a million years would have taken, I started to see as normal.

It still hurts to think of it today. I am still afraid of things because of that experience. But I am also a little bit more sensitive and understanding to women whom are in that situation today. So many people can say, just get out, just leave. But when your confidence is torn to shreds, when you’re told that you’ll always be found no matter where you go, and when you are told to believe that is all you’re worth over and over. You start to believe it.

 

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