The past (again)

I’m still reeling from last week’s therapy session. Memories, feelings, anxieties. I have no idea if that’s a good thing or a bad thing as I have no one to talk or compare with. At times I feel very emotional and I find memories tend to float up randomly. Other times I find triggers and struggle to manage them. I can recognise that I’m on a journey, but I’m running this strange parallel concurrently. The mother role, organising kids, house etc, but then trying to work through this tidal wave of memories and emotions. Some feel old, but some feel like they were yesterday. Describing situations and conversations to my therapist last week brought so much back that I had buried away. The confusion and unanswered questions rise to the surface again. The pain and the desperation.

I ran into a friend of mine recently. I hadn’t seen her for a while. She is always losing her number, so maintaining contact with her is difficult. I didn’t think too much of it. Last time I saw her she had split with her partner. And these prepay phones still seem fairly popular. When I saw her she seemed stressed, distracted. She quickly told me her ex had her on ‘lock down’ had taken her bank card, her phone, and was taking her out to her visits. This run in happened in a pharmacy. She told me nervously he was waiting outside. I told her she needed to leave, but she’s lost her jobs because he wouldn’t let her go out. I asked her to call the police. But she’s scared that social services will get involved and take her kids. I’ve told her that there are agencies that can help her – I used to work for them ages ago. I want her to be safe. She seemed to be considering it. I told her that no one deserved to live like this. She told me he was coming. And sure enough he was making his way toward us. I didn’t intend on being polite but I wasn’t going to make her life more difficult. I nodded and went to the counter for my prescription. I watched the interaction between the two. As he walked back outside I quickly scrawled my number on some paper and gave it to her. I told her I would offer help, whatever she needed. And than reminded her that no one deserved to be treated like that. She told me thanks and hurried away.

I got back into my car. No one would guess that this woman was in this particular situation. She’s outgoing, assertive, gregarious, loud. There is this stereotype of someone more submissive, quieter, the easier target. My heart breaks for this woman.

Equally I am reminded of my own relationship. My first real relationship after everything that had happened to me. The degradation, the shaminig. Using my history against me. My ‘punishment’ when I had been bad. Being locked away. Being dependant upon him for basic needs. That is what I thought my total worth was. Afraid to sleep because of what might happen. Hands around the throat, things being done that he knows you hate to teach you that you are his. That angry guttural noise.

I do have this overwhelming need to reach out and help as many people as I can. Because at not one stage, NOT ONE STAGE, did anyone ever tell me I didn’t deserve any of what happened to me. And it’s too late for me now. Why would you put cream on an old scar?

Aftermath

Since I let some things go on Thursday in my therapy session, I have felt overwhelmed, overtired, over wraught, drained, torn between numb and emotional. On Thursday night I was so shattered and physically tired I had to have an early night. I knew there was no point fighting it. I was emotional on and off and it felt like vulnerable, unknown territory.

On Friday morning my husband took the kids to school. Every morning for me there are arguments, screaming, and we always end up running late regardless of best intentions and the arguments continue all the way to school in the car. My husband had them up and out, smoothly and in time. Not to mention since he returned from his business trip in Australia, he’s moved furniture around and scrubbed the house moaning about how dirty it is. So in all he’s made me feel like a complete failure of a mother and wife.

I had an interview on the Friday morning – which was why he was here. My confidence already in my boots. I was asked at point have I ever had a lot of demands on my life, lots going on, people needing things, time specific, etc, of course, I’d just had therapy the day prior so all my brain could conjure up were things related to that. I envisioned myself shouting at the guy – you have no idea what I’ve ‘managed’ what I’ve been through and survived’ – obviously I didn’t ! I came up with some boring work story. But the situation was difficult for me. I’m talking about my mental health on Wednesday, some pretty painful stuff on Thursday and then I’m interviewing on Friday.

Friday afternoon we went and checked out a potential new school for the kids because they are simply not happy at the current one and neither are we. So it’s back on parade again.

I’ve felt so cold, unable to warm up. I feel my husband made such a display about the house that I’ve failed in that area too. I’ve tried to let him in with the therapy – but I know he doesn’t really understand or seem to care to. He’s made no effort since Thursday to make me feel safe or appreciate how I might be feeling. Him not being there for me has made me recoil more into myself. I’m determined to do the work, I want to get some closure where my history is concerned but I think the reality is that really I’m doing this alone. I shouldn’t expect anymore from him.

Brain drain!

This week has been quite intensive in the old brain department for me. I saw my psychiatrist on Wednesday and my therapist on Thursday.

My psychiatrist is overall happy with my stability. Although it’s obvious my lithium (mood stabiliser) needs to be increased. For the last few weeks she’s been pushing this. Every time I try, I become increasingly nauseous to the point of reaching for anti nausea tablets. I’ve told her every time this occurs that this isn’t usual for me, and that I’m sure it’s because she’s prescribing a slow release brand. For some reason (perhaps the pharmaceutical company gives her a nice holiday to the Seychelles every year) she hasn’t heard me and this routine of increase, sickness, complain has continued. Finally on Wednesday she said, ‘I have an idea, let’s change the lithium to a different brand that’s not slow release.’ I kept my mouth closed and nodded.

I feel that my baseline mood could be better, but then I could do be doing more to help myself. I recognise the rut I’m in, just need to feel my way out of it.

I’ve been considering how to get more out of therapy. One of my issues is that I don’t talk. I write on my blog, but my mouth will never voice my secrets or pain or fears or struggles. I’m the loudest person you could meet, and I would fight hell and high water for the people I care about – but for myself, my own story is one held tightly in silence. In therapy I skirt around the issues, I dodge, I digress, I disassociate. I don’t want to hear the words coming out of my mouth. I guess I don’t want to own it.

So considering this I realise that I MUST find my voice. I said this to my therapist today. Strong, decided. Tall, valiant and proud. Well, she said, let’s go. I was tempted to start talking about the weather – after all it was a sunny morning, but ever so cold out. I didn’t. My eyes bounced off of the walls. I told her I had absolutely no idea where to start. She said that was fine and to start with where I was most comfortable. Again, my eyes flew around the room. She told me I needed to trust myself.

Where could I possibly start? What could I say? She looked at me so patiently. I had a lot in my head.

Then I started talking a little. A few things. Nothing emotive, just details, benign, informative. Then that made me think of something else, and in turn more things trickled. It wasn’t a momentous outpouring of hours of heart rendering tales. It was roughly an hour of disjointed thoughts, memories, situations, conversations, but things that don’t get said out loud.

I didn’t fall on the floor and wail. Or become catatonic (my fears). I just felt overwhelmingly tired and extremely sad. I’m not even entirely sure how I drove the 20 minute ride home. I was pretty spaced.

I don’t know the way to do these things. But something about talking out loud feels right at this stage. The only thing I know for sure is that what I’ve been doing so far hasn’t been working.

New Therapist – time to talk

My new therapist is not what one would expect. When I think of therapists I think of women in knee length skirts, surrounded by books, slightly bizarre manner, probably not the most gregarious person in the world. Or a male, glasses, slim, stuffy, practiced smile, uncomfortable in a social setting. I’m stereotyping – GUILTY! Shoot me now! But to be fair, I’ve seen so many therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, mental health workers, etc I’m sure with all statistical probability I could provide a good approximation of the right image.

Now this woman, I didn’t expect. Dressed like she’s going for a champagne brunch, nice heels, styled blonde hair, nice handbag (not designer, but hey, we’ll let that slide), make up on. This is a woman that screams, I’m having a Pinot Griogio and a salad with girlfriends, not counselling a poor little messed up bunch of clients.

In our first session her cell rang. Yep, the thing RANG. My eyebrows shot up to the ceiling and I must have looked at her accusingly. She said, ‘oh, of course I’m not going to answer it,’ with a nonchalant wave of her hand.

Further on in my session she told me she trained as a grief counsellor initially, but now she simply ‘loved’ (almost with a drawl) this work. To be honest I couldn’t decide whether this woman drove me insane or in fact I found her rather honest and different approach refreshing.

I decided to see her again. And again.

Thus this rather awkward and at times bemusing relationship has begun. She always turns up dressed immaculately making me feel like a scruffy mutt. We actually used to live on the same street it transpires, and without sounding too petty, my car is better than hers (!), but the roles have been set. She sits with her platinum blonde hair and perfectly applied make up seemingly humouring me, and I sit with my scruffy red hair and no make up.

The work is good. Let me tell you. I spend the drive there wishing I wasn’t going. I feel every second of the hour. The ‘rock’ I keep buried in my heart, I feel it, grinding, cutting, pushing to get out, the tears they want to fall. The room feels small, she waits expectantly for me to break, because to her, that’s what happens. To her, it would be completely unreasonable to move forward without grieving for the past. She is non judgemental, she’s open and patient. She asks point blank questions – what are you scared of? Why? There is no room to move. I understand more and more. I’m out of my comfort zone. But it’s where I need to go to see.

At the end of the hour, I’m exhausted. She hugs me. Every session is a hug. I wouldn’t usually like that. It seems odd, but with her, it’s sweet.

She wants me to start talking now about things I never talk about. I joke to her that maybe we can skip that part, and she can say something really inspiring like in a movie, and I cry and then BOOM! I’m healed! The end.

I realise I need to put the hard work in. I need to really find my voice. It terrifies me.

Blog for mental health 2014

20140715-104625-38785013.jpg I follow a few blogs that interest me. My blog was meant to be a way for me to make sense of jumbled thoughts, rants, moans, feel sorry for myself and be carthetic . I didn’t realise until I started looking around how many people like me were out there. I wasn’t alone. I made what I feel was a brave decision to link my blog to my Facebook page. I was going through a terrible low. But my statuses only conveyed these tiny polarised shots of mood and/or misery. The ones that made me sound ungrateful, the perpetual grumpy old woman. After all, I have a wonderful husband and kids, a nice life – who am I life to grizzle and groan?

The feedback was fantastic.  People admitting they had no idea how bad things were, more admitting their own experiences with mental health problems and medications. People that knew people, etc. suddenly here I was admitting the bare uncomfortable truth, I could hardly do my kids laundry, get up in the morning, do the school run, everything was a struggle, it even hurt to breathe. Even the one that seems on the surface to have it all, that seems to be so strong and so confident, is a second from breaking.

My sordid affair with mental (un)health has been going on for a long time. I have been on so many different medications over the years, people tend to treat me as the Wikipedia of pharmaceuticals. I have been hospitalised, and at my very worse a suicide attempt. My husband is whom I feel most sorry for. He has sat by my bed waiting to know if I’ll make it, he has visited me in hospital, washed me, cared for me because I’ve been so medicated, I’ve sworn and shouted at him, broken down in tears before, woken in nightmares, I have my odd routines and fears. He has to carefully watch my behaviour for precursors of mood changes. He has found me after I have cut quite badly. All of these ugly sides to my mental health he has taken on. He has managed and has continued to love me.

My mental health is further complicated by PTSD. What I have come to learn is that no one can fully appreciate how exhausting this life is. It is a constant battle with yourself, with these demons. I need pills to get me through the days. I’m both grateful yet saddened at this reality. I should like to have a day with common anxieties. Rather than my brain turning everything into a Shakespearean tradegy, complete with paranoia and dramatic failure thrown in.

So, after reading about this movement, I felt it was something I might be able to contribute to.

 

“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.” “

 

 

 

 

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Link: Blog For Mental Health 2014 | A Canvas Of The Minds
Blog For Mental Health 2014

Pills

I’m lying in bed and I look over at the pill box for my daily medication. Clearly marked with the letters pertaining to the days of the week. The little boxes filled with a medley of shapes and colours. Can you believe I’m in my 30s and this is what I need to get me day by day? Tonight I have rifled through my routine of pills. The ones that help me sleep, the one that helps prevent migraines, the lithium dose. Then there’s the PRNs if I need them – the diazapam or zopiclone.

My life wasn’t always about pills and dosages but I don’t remember that time.

I ask my husband if everywhere is locked. Some nights I ‘ll wake him and ask him to check again.

My dreams are usually about being chased, or being carried away in the sea as I fight against the tidal wave. Or they are nightmares loosely based on the past. Either way I wake often and when my alarm goes, I wake tired.

I’m not a fan of these winter evenings because the dark comes in so quickly. I carry a torch in my car. I try not to walk the dog in the dark. If I run errands – minimal like dropping off DVDs or getting bread and milk from the servo in the dark I find myself battling the greatest hypervigilance. I swear a feather could land on my shoulder and I could rip it in two.

So why oh why must I be so complicated? Why must there be these little pills in there little boxes? Why must winter put a temporary hold on how I live my life? Why do I have be so different?

I see a psychiatrist who happily puts me in a box. I must not expect this and that of myself. I must apparently just plod along keep breathing and be grateful I’m not in a padded cell I suppose. I see a therapist who puts me in a box, the recovering box. Apparently I shouldn’t expect to much there either – emotionally I’m stunted it seems.

When I’m not in a box, I’m a mother and a wife. And there is certainly no time for being in a box.

So the pills apparently help me go on. Help me to live.

But what life is this? My days are preordained on my pill box. My nights follow the same routine.

Keep plodding. Keep breathing.

The truth of the matter

I had a bad night again. I was triggered over something silly, a wrong call actually by someone in the night which wouldn’t mean much to anyone else but to me the ramifications were much greater. The panic, the emotion. The foreboding sense of danger. I might be across the other side of the globe but when it comes down to it, danger has no bounds.

As usual my brain played out a million different scenarios in the time it took the person to realise their error and apologise for the mistaken call. But by that time the primal sense of survival had kicked in and the sense of immeninent danger hung in the air. The howling wind battering the house blurring my senses only heightened my sense of unease.

Sleeping tablets and a couple of Valium later as well as my bear of a husband’s assurances that I was safe later I fell into a fitful sleep. This morning I awoke feeling like I had a hangover but without the drink. A raging migraine, dry mouth, nausea , sense of dread. My brain still keen to tease me on what last night could have meant.

I did the usual drop offs minus one daughter who is sick with flu. She has been ill all week so I’ve been pretty much confined to the house looking after her. Of course it’s not an issue, when my children are genuinely sick I nurture them as most mothers would. Perhaps the only downside to this though is that it allows me time to brood.

Already feeling down, I find myself constantly triggered by the media from the UK. I can’t exactly not watch the news and it’s impossible to avoid.

First there was Jimmy Saville, Max Clifford and then Rolf Harris. So many people quick to say the victims are lying. So many opinions and victim blaming. So many sordid details. All dinner table fodder for those that really have no idea at all. I’m sick of people being shocked and I’m sick of people asking why only now people are speaking out. I’m sick of the jokes and I’m sick of the idle chatter to pass the time.

You people have NO IDEA. Lives are ruined. Do you seriously think something happens to a person, they forget it, suddenly remember, report it, go to trial – BOOM – it’s OVER??? You might be able to wrap your chips up in that newspaper the next day but some of us, we are haunted forever. Every noise, every person, every nightmare, every anniversary, every reminder , every procedure, every mistaken call – it’s reliving the whole thing over and over and over and over.

So if you want to judge someone for decisions they made, make jokes or consider that there’s ‘no way someone like him could have done that’ or, shouldn’t they have moved on by now? why don’t you think about how you ‘d feel if that were your daughter, son, wife, sister, brother, etc telling you what had happened to them. Once it occurs in your family first hand – you will find it a lot less easy judge.