Sweethearts and sickness

Its my high school sweet heart’s birthday today.  We’re Facebook friends.  We don’t talk to each other, just the odd ‘like’ on comments.  Way back when, everyone thought him and I would marry.  We ‘dated’ as you do in school, often split up and then made our way back to each other.  We were odd bods, which seemed to intrinsically link us.  Where others saw him as frankly a bit crazy (a candidate for manic depression), I understood his ebbs and flows.  His moods, and his little routines.  And I think in that, he felt safe to be himself with me.  Although he often chased the girls that were known for giving a bit more in the relationship physically, so to speak, he would often seek a respite with me.  Perhaps that’s because I was pretty damn crazy myself! – And as for the all of the politically incorrect statements I’m throwing around, I’m referring to our time in school.  Back then, labels weren’t applied, just observations.  He wasn’t my first kiss, that was DL. A local boy who went to the same first school and then secondary school as me.  I did think I was in love with him at the time.  I remember him dancing with Samantha at a school disco to the Bangles and I cried like a baby in my heart-break.  DL was also a larger than life character, he dabbled in some professional acting, and I believe does some acting now.  But DL and the first love that I refer to, AB, didn’t get along.  Perhaps their ego’s were too big for each other.

DL and I kissed in a cupboard for chairs one summer afternoon in a local village hall.  I was so terrified, but so excited.  We were dared to kiss.  When the kiss happened it felt so forced, I didn’t feel all ‘floaty’ as I would have expected.  I suspect he had kissed a lot of times before me.  I was 13.  I still picture it perfectly.  The room, the chairs, the lingering dust, the warmth of a summer’s afternoon, the other kids daring us.  It makes me smile.  Of all of the boys, DL was a great person to share that moment with.  A cherished fragment in a young life.

I never gave any thought to my first time sexually.  It wasn’t something people talked about.  Even AB chasing the other girls hadn’t considered sex, just even a look or a touch! – that’s his words!

Perhaps in a different world, AB would have been my first time.  Beneath his boyish humour and manic ticks, he was sweet and gentle.  We took many walks around the fields near his house, and not once in all of those times did he try anything.  I always managed to feel safe around him.  Even when he kissed me it never felt like a promise.  Perhaps we were never meant to be more than a dance of what could have been.  Certainly I have no doubt if we had have ended up together, it wouldn’t have lasted.  We both share the same moods and egos.  Both too passionate about our stances to back down.  We would have come to hate each other.  Both of us need someone calm, consistent and patient to counter our imbalance.

But life would have been better had I have chosen the person.  If it was planned.  And not necessarily even like in the movies, with the roses, candles and bed made by the fire.

This morning I went constantly into panic attacks.  My son was sleeping soundly in the bed, so I had to go into the bathroom and try to get a grip.  Then I got back into bed, drifted off to sleep and the same thing happened.  I don’t know what triggered me.  I guess a dream I had.  But clearly a lie in this morning wasn’t going to happen.

Already triggered, I decided to unblock HIM [the rapist] on Facebook and look at his profile.  See if anything significant in his life had happened, make sure we didn’t have any friends linked.  I wouldn’t usually do this, S has always done periodic checks for me, but it’s not his place anymore.  I need to bite the bullet.  Of course with Facebook settings as they are, I couldn’t see much.  Seeing his photos and I felt an odd shut down.  In my mind his image is set to back then.  His mouth, eyes, his demeanour is still clear in my head.  So the photos are hard to place.  I didn’t look for long, I didn’t want the revised image burned into my retinas.  I didn’t want any image to cause me distress.  So I didn’t find anything of interest.  Unfortunately now with Facebook I have to wait 48 hours to block him again.  So I live in fear of him seeking me out, I’m counting down those hours.

Seeing AB’s birthday was a reminder though of some of the better times in my young life.  Some of the possibilities that could have been.  But of course I feel sad, painfully sad for the loss of having a special memory for my first time.

S has decided to extend his stay in Auckland for another week.  So I’m up at the house.  I don’t have time to process any thoughts or feelings, and fighting this mood is difficult as I’m on call all the time.  S has also not left much in the way of funds, which is really stressful for me.  I had arranged for a babysitter to come on Sunday for a couple of hours so I could enjoy the women’s only swim, but I’ve had to cancel that, I can’t afford the babysitter.  I’m a bit annoyed that the one thing I enjoy I can’t do.

 

 

The lowdown

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The thing with depressing lows, there are ‘better’ days, sometimes I’m lulled into a false of security, I’m well again!  Other times, the lows can be worse than other days and I only realise that retrospectively.  So yesterday I had cleaned my house, briefly attended my daughter’s birthday and then come to the house and relaxed in front of the TV with the company of my children.  I didn’t know it then, but that day was better.  Although I was tired I faced my fears of attending the party, I didn’t speak to anyone, but I was present.  And I got things done.  Then in the evening, I really enjoyed a calming evening and appreciated the quietness away from my noisy neighbours.

Late at night, with everyone in bed, I became CONVINCED that my house was going to be burgled.  I knew I’d left some windows open, and in windy weather they can come off the security latches and become huge, gaping holes – an easy entry to a passing opportunist.  It was a particularly windy night.  We are in windy season, something Wellington is notorious for.  And just to give that some context, people from Chicago have come here and observed its worse than what they’re used to!  Wind makes me anxious as I’ve mentioned before.  It distorts noises, blocks my senses, shadows become aggressive dancers, and I become hypervigilent.  So last night as I lay on the good old mattress on the floor in the office, I considered the windows. I thought about anything I might have of value.  I thought about what they might do, and then I thought about how statistically burglars tend to return.  What if I was in??  I considered that things would be covered in insurance and material goods are nothing compared to my family.  But how would I feel that people had been in the my house?  Would they be tidy or would they mess things up on purpose?

I really convinced myself that was what was going to happen.  I would have gotten in my car and driven down, but I had taken my meds, so though I felt ‘awake’ my reaction time would have been slower.  Plus, going out in the dark, in the wind, alone to a house where there might be unwelcome visitors – not the most appealing adventure.

It’s incredible how things go from worries to full-blown certainty in the night.  I lay awake troubled by images.  Always listening out for the tell-tale signs of someone outside this house (obviously after being my house, I’d be unlucky enough for them to come to this house!).

This morning I was almost bouncing off the walls in anxiety and desperation to get to my house.  Hurrying the kids to get ready and then leaving really early to ‘assess the damage.’  Although the windows gaped open and even the curtains flapped around in the wind, my house remained untouched and tidy from yesterday.  Phew!

For the rest of the day I’ve been up at the house.  I’m still soaking up the peace, even in the brief time I returned to my house at 8am, the neighbours were revving engines.  A brief glance over and I could see outside lights left on (must have been a late one last night) and a welding mask, so either one of the is a serial killer, or more work is going on there.

Today, I can barely move.  I’m absolutely shattered, I feel miserable, and I have achy flu-like symptoms – a medication side effect.  I also keep feeling on the border of a panic attack.  My chest feels tight and painful with anxiety and it doesn’t take much to struggle for air.  Even as I write this I know I probably sound like Darth Vader hyperventilating.

I emailed my lecturer out of courtesy to advise that I was seeing disability services regarding his tests and tutorials.  He reply was curt, probably just succinct but I sensed annoyance.  Or am I transferring?  I can’t tell.

The trouble with lows, the inconsistency, the tiredness, the physiological effects, the inability to know an acknowledgement from a negative connotation and the ability to become convinced of an outcome – such as the burglary.  At least I’m in a position to know I’m not thinking normally.  As opposed to determined to ignore the signs.

I just hate this struggle.  I hate feeling like this.   I hate the feeling of despair.  I want to feel normal but I don’t even have the energy to smile.  Everyone and everything is a threat.

Tea and peace 

It is SO hard. I am really bloated and irritatable on the olanzapine. Uncomfortable bloating, I feel like I’m full of water and air. I feel so fat and horrible. I tried stopping the meds as im taking lithium now but I ended up anxious and sobbing and miserable. I’m clearly not ready to be off of them. At least I know they’re helping my mood.

Last night I didn’t take the antihestimine for sleep because I wake up with such a painful headache. Instead I didn’t get to sleep until after 2. I heard my partying neighbors come back and continue to make noise. It’s really starting to grate on my nerves now. I consider myself a considerate neighbour. I don’t have parties, I don’t rev my engine, I don’t run my mouth off in the middle of the night and I make sure my kids keep quiet at night. I don’t moan about their partying, I don’t call noise control in the middle of the night to complain about their parties, I don’t complain to them about their constant revving engines, even though the exhaust fumes seep into my home, the incessant drilling (woodwork) and the groups of bodies drinking and smoking. I appreciate that they’re young, they want to party, they don’t have responsibilities or commitments. I used to be like that! But today, on a Sunday lunchtime, I’m over the music and shouting. I’m too irritable, too tired, too sore. I need some peace. 

The monthly support group was on today, but I couldn’t face that either. The wallowing, the emotions, everyone vying for the ‘who’s doing it worse’ position. Too much. I’m already feeling triggered and anxious so it probably wouldn’t have helped, probably more hindered.

Egg had her birthday party at the pool today. I couldn’t face that either to be honest. The parents I don’t know, the stifling sticky heat, random kids running around, forcing smiles. But for my daughter I turned up, she looked so happy.


I kind of avoided the parents, S is a better showman at these things.


My son is such a water baby. I wish I’d joined him in the pool, but it was very busy and I don’t feel confident at all about being seen in my swimmers.

I disappeared while they were all busy swimming to vacuum and clean the floors at my house. Keeping the house tidy is such a priority to me. It’s the only thing I have any control over. Although just cleaning is tiring.

I had then wanted to lie on my bed, doze off, feeling relaxed. Unfortunately my neighbours wouldn’t shut up. So I decided to head up to the house. I wanted to be surrounded by family, but isolated from the noise of surburbia. I wanted to see my son and aside from the excited chatter of my own children, soak up the peace. 

So here I am


A relaxing cup of green tea.

The day has been long. And testing. Side effects troubling, but better than the misery of the low.

I’m supposed to be at uni tomorrow, but I can’t imagine having the concentration to study. At least I have an appointment with disability services. I’m determined not to fail – but I have to recognise my limitations at the moment. I’m scared to get worse.

My chapter ‘what ifs’

I’m currently reading ‘Asking For It,’ by Louise O’Neill.  Its been a long time since I read a book with this subject matter (rape and subsequent suicidal thoughts).  I cant remember what made me pick this book on my Kindle, I’d read about it somewhere.  The book sees our protagonist, Emma, raped after a party where she took drugs and drank a lot.  She is 18, and the setting is Ireland.  The consequence to the rape is her repetitive thoughts of shame, self blaming and self hate.  And the small Irish town divided between her and the boys involved, as well as the subsequent trial.  The author has captured her jumbled and repitive thoughts extremely well, as well as the protagonist observing her family falling apart and blaming herself.  Her inability to use the word rape and her suicide attempts. With this level of insight, I can only assume the author did extensive research, or was a victim herself.  I have never read such an accurate portrayal of life after rape in the guise of a story.

Anyway, this blog post isn’t a book review.  I have only referred to the book as a premise.  I always find myself thinking about the way things should have been dealt with after my rape.  I can list the ideals in number and often do mentally.  This book reminds me of my contrast list of wishes if you like, and I can identify where it all went wrong.  So for the first time ever, I will write my list here.  My main objective is to bring it out into the open.  A document of things that should have been done, and if its useful to anyone else, than that is a bonus.

1, My friend at the time wasn’t equipped to recognise what happened, so I don’t blame her for that but she did have the knowledge to take me to a clinic – that’s a relief or else I may very well of had a child, as I certainly didn’t know about these thngs.The clinic should have discussed things with me in detail, recognised my state of shock and if I refused a medical exam (it wasn’t given at the time), given me the options available at a later date.  As I was under age, the proper authorities should have been notified, at least then I would have stood a chance of bringing charges forward sooner.

2, my parents should have confronted me about my behaviour.  Clearly something serious had happened (they later confessed in my last stint in the UK that they ‘had a feeling’ and my bed wetting and night terrors could have been helped.

3, my first suicide attempt.  No one really talked to me about it or addressed the issues.  Although family counselling was ‘forced’ on us – which my parents were none to happy about.  I should have had a safe place to communicate, but I felt like an inconvenience.

4, I was never talked to about rape, sexual violence or STIs, why??  Even I couldn’t identify what had happened was wrong.  I just had a ‘sense’ of it not being right.  Why wasn’t this mentioned?

5, moving forward, to the medical involvement, when I sought help.  Why wasn’t my testing reported to the police?  I was referred to an in-house counsellor that told me on my first visit she could understand why I was so upset, she likened my virginity to the time she lost a necklace that her Mother had given her and tried to hug me.

6, The signs were everywhere.  My behaviours at school,  self harming, nightmares, constant UTIs, why didn’t anyone address these issues?

7, the things I needed to hear: 

it wasn’t your fault, I believe you, you have been raped and you need medical attention, you may not want the police involved but now, but if you want to later it would be easier, you didn’t ask for it, you need a specialist counsellor – I will take you, it’s up to you whether you continue seeing her or not, you are grieving – take all the time you need, you will get through this, you’re not alone.

8, the police investigation came years later when we went back to the UK.  I wish there had been better practices in place, and more experienced officers.  I felt like I had to micromanage the whole thing.  Ultimately it led to a breakdown.

There is no right or perfect response to rape.  I could have had all of the above and still felt the terrible despair and self loathing.  But its identifying what could have helped that gives to discussion, that leads to openness and better support for people who need it.

I am scarred irreparably by the act and the subsequent lack of care.  2 decades on and I’m still fighting the aftermath.  The only solace I find is that my life isn’t a book that has ended.  I am still writing the chapters, and I hope that as my own protagonist in my book, I find the peace I so desperately need.

 

 

Poem of mind and pain

The corridors are long and dark,

Demons linger, their meanings stark.

Passing doors where shadows lay in wait,

Full of anger and venomous hate.

There is no hope of escape,

Confronting the memories of violence and rape.

Feeling afraid and forever lost,

Her survival comes with a very high cost.

With no light to follow

or guides to rely on

She continues alone,

Her sanctuary unknown.

Dark is her enemy, the light is too strong,

Everything highlights all that is wrong.

She seeks compassion and care

she seeks comfort and repair.

She is damaged and broken,

Her fate is unknown,

deep wounds are left raw and unspoken.

Memories are nightmares and flashbacks replayed

Time still passes but the pain will never fade.

She needs to find her solace along the way,

Can hope possibly give her this day?

No one can see the madness she faces,

No one is able to visit these places.

For this is her walk deep within her mind

The atrocities and torture remain her only bind.

Although no can see the pain she endures,

And platitudes are lost over the dragon that roars.

Her mind is a maze of bitter twists and turns,

The pain is like fire leaving its burns.

Onwards she trudges in her daily fight

No one understands her, although try as they might.

She has to believe that she will get well

That demons will die,

and she will leave this hell.

For she believes that peace awaits her and she has to be strong,

She has to rise above all that is wrong.

Losing marbles, can’t be bothered to find them!

T0day has been a ‘bumpy’ day.  I didn’t get to sleep until after midnight.  Then I was plunged into this awful nightmare.  I don’t want to about the details because its graphic and quite horrific and involves me being a young girl.  I was awoken at 6.30 by what I thought was hard pounding on the door, I jumped out of bed, expecting to see cops or something.  No one was there and for a moment I thought I had dreamt it.  Instead I heard a strange banging noise from next door, like someone dragging a bin or something and I realised in my half asleep state my brain had interpreted it as a door knocking.  I feel so groggy in the mornings, part because of the medication and part because no matter how much I sleep, I never feel rested.  This over exertion of adrenaline caused me huge anxiety and I knew that despite being tired, I wouldn’t be able to sleep. As Spring has well and truly arrived, it’s another beautiful sunny, warmer than average day.  I should have been able to go for a stroll this morning.  But I couldn’t face it.  I can’t read because my concentration doesn’t retain the last page and tv is just static noise.  So I all I do could do was lie in bed and browse the internet or mull over old thoughts.

As the day has progressed, I’ve hardly achieved anything.  But I did see my psychiatrist.  I really didn’t want to. I wanted to stay in the house.  I really had to push myself.  I had to tell myself that this appointment could be the key to my getting better.

My first complaint to her was the olanzapine and the weight gain.  I said this, combined with the anti depressant was a good buffer to stopping me from going lower and then I’m plateaued but the weight was a real issue.  She agreed my concern was valued as I suffer with high cholesterol.  So she suggested AGAIN that I go back to Lithium.  Looking over my notes we concluded that the slow release had caused nausea in the past, so I must stay on the standard, but my levels at .7 were therapeutic and there was a definite improvement.  I have been keen to avoid the medication.  I don’t like the insatiable thirst, weight gain is an issue but much less so than the olanzapine and  I don’t like feeling ‘medicated.’  That said, at this point I would eat cat poo if it would improve my mood and motivation.  I begin today at 250 in the evening and then 250×2 for 5 days, then a blood test – another reason for avoiding this medication is the maintenance, the regular blood testing and of course looking after myself if I get dehydrated or a bad tummy because of toxicity.   I also suffered with thyroid issues.  My dose will then be 1000mg, and as users know it’s all about the levels.  Most people function at .5 quite happily.  I’ve noticed if the level fluctuates from .7 I start having problems.  My psychiatrist and I agree that as lows go, this is by far not the worst I’ve experienced.  But the fact its been a month now with no improvement means medication tweaks, and regular appointments.

I start uni next week and I’m so anxious to be ready for it.  Although my dr said she’d write a certificate for me, I don’t want to fall behind anymore.  Hopefully disability services can help. Although I was LOATHE to rely on them and make myself seek support from them because I just want to be bloody NORMAL and not need all this crap.

I’m taking my eldest daughter to the GP tomorrow because she keeps getting dizzy spells and feeling faint.  I suspect the problem is some sort of deficiency.   Hopefully easy to remedy.  So for a time when I wouldn’t usually leave my bedroom let the alone the house, I’m fairing pretty well.

Kudos to the fat mental one with more baggage than Heathrow airport!  I’d like to sleep now.

 

bleugh

I went to the hairdresser today.  Even though I’m so tired and drained.  I had to sit in front of the unforgiving salon mirror.  See my tired and fat reflection in the strong lights, the staff all skinny and trendy around me.  The frumpy, awkward old woman with the bad hair.

The medication is obviously peaking now.  I have these weird periods where my brain feels a bit drunk.  I feel a little less in control and everything seems to be in slow motion.  My tongue feels thick and heavy, so words come out awkwardly.  I worry I sound like I’m slurring.

S and I had an argument via text today, I almost broke down sobbing in the salon. How can he be so cold after a long time together?  I am astounded by his basic lack of respect.  He is bordering rude.  I can’t even talk to him AT ALL anymore.

I emailed my parents.  We’ve been estranged for so long.  I’m disappointed that they didn’t make an effort to contact me.  If any of my kids and I had a ‘falling out’ I would camp outside their front door.  And what’s even more annoying is that the reasons for our estrangement will never be discussed.  It’s all ‘water under a bridge’ – why would we discuss the bad things out loud?  To talk about upsetting things is just a silly waste of energy and the past can’t be changed.  and all of those clichés.

I’ve tried to talk directly with them of course.  But it’s no good and that’s what caused this cessation of communication.  They still live in the 1950s and they will never change.  Some of the things my parents have said and done is unforgivable. However, I decided to reach out.  I updated them on the last year.  The basics, my separation, the kids, my study.  Mum replied quickly to say I’d made their day.  That was nice.

cleverly she refrained from ‘jokey’ digs, or put downs.  She didn’t blame me for the marriage break down, and she didn’t immediately blame me for my motorbike accident in Cambodia.  Believe me, after my car accident, they were full of accusatory comments before they even knew the facts when I was hospital years ago and desperate to speak to them for comfort.  She kept it light, friendly.  I appreciated the tone.  I didn’t want advice or guidance.  Just an acknowledgment – which is exactly what I got.  I’m not expecting that they’ve changed.  They’re in their late 60s/early 70s now, and very stuck in their ways .  Nothing is going to change.

I feel better for contacting them though.  Although I swore I wouldn’t bother or set myself up for hurt, I decided to break my own rule.

It has brought some memories up, I won’t deny and it’s not comfortable.  But I will work through that with my therapist I expect, whom I havent seen for a while again.

Tomorrow I see my psychiatrist to discuss the medication.  I’m anxious about that. I’m anxious about everything.

Not.  Good.  Times.