Fictional parallels

So, the plotline of one of the characters on Blindspot continues to unfold. I had initially thought that they dropped the story line, but they moved forward with it the last several episodes. 

It originally stared last season when one of the agents ended up arresting his former coach/mentor on child sex abuse charges. The agent (Reade) initially thought that only his peers had been abused, but one of his old friends from that time clued him in to his own abuse. Reade had no memory of any of it. His only hint at proof came from a tape with his own name on it that he found in the coach’s apartment among the stash of tapes the coach made of the abuses.

They introduced some minor hints around it being accurate, but they didn’t focus much on it. Mostly, they showed Reade’s avoidance of it. Looking back, they did a pretty decent job of portraying the denial/overwhelm stage of remembering abuse. 

The most recent episode ended with Reade sitting down with Zapata to watch the tape he had stolen from the apartment. 

The whole story has my interest piqued. I can relate to so much of it: the total dissociation of any memories for decades, the sudden confrontation with an alternate “truth”, the anger, the denial, the pushing it away… I find myself holding my breath to see what happens next. I want to know that I’m not totally alone in how I’m experiencing things… and I want to have some sort of guidebook through all of this. I know Dr C says this isn’t abnormal, but it’s nice to see it presented that way more places than just her office. It’s kinda like feeling alone for so long, then finding someone else that sees things the same way you do. I know it’s just a TV show (and they can still take it in the direction of Reade never actually having been abused), but it’s relatable… it’s the same relief I find in going to the new group (though that is technically over as of Monday). 

I dunno… I forgot where I was going with this post. Maybe it was about finding something to relate to? I dunno… Blindspot is proving to be a decent show despite the frequent cheesey-ness. And unlike Nashville, it’s handling the child abuse ramifications more accurately. Nashville introduced ptsd basically in one episode, then “resolved” it in the next. Blindspot is taking a more accurate approach to the topic. I just hope they follow through on it rather than end it with the whole thing simply being a “scare” for the character…


More loss

Tuesday evening, L’s dad passed away quite suddenly. We don’t normally stop by on Tuesdays (it’s usually a day spent being at home after I return from work), but this week, L wanted to go hang with her mom. I’m so glad she chose to do that…

A short while after we left, she got a call from her mother that she thought her dad had died. I was taking the dogs out at the time L ran past me in a panic, yelling that she thought her dad died. It took me a minute to process what she said as she was running towards the car. I dragged the dogs to the car (I’m pretty sure one was pooping at the time I yanked them with me). I drove us the 5 minutes to their house. It was the longest, slowest 5 minutes I’ve felt in a long time. It seemed like every car was going 30 miles an hour too slow. 

We turned on to their street, and you could see fire trucks and police lights on both sides at the end of their drive. The truck driving in front of us had to slow down to figure out where/how to get past them. It took everything in me not to lay on the horn and fly up their driveway (their house is set back quite a way). I know he was just being safe, but I really wanted to get L there to be with her mother. 

Up the driveway, there were yet more police cars and ambulances. I’m not sure how many first responders were there, but there were easily a dozen or more emergency vehicles. L’s mother was sitting in her car watching them work on her father… 

They worked on him there at the house for a good 30 minutes to an hour, then took him to the er. I had L and her mom ride to the hospital with one of the officers. My car had been blocked in by one of L’s brothers, so I stayed till after they took her father away,  and the rest of the family went to the hospital. I ran home to drop off the dogs and pick up a few things for L. By the time I got back (maybe 40 minutes later… I kinda got lost on the way to the hospital…), he had been pronounced dead…

We were all kinda in shock. We knew he wasn’t feeling well, but he wasn’t one to let on how sick he really was, not even to his doctors. Heck, he had even been to the doctor that morning and they bs’d about country living… 

The hours and days since then have been spent with L’s family making funeral arrangements and just hanging around. It’s not totally sunk in yet. Tears and sadness comes in waves… the worst part for me had been seeing the emergency vehicles every time I turn down their street. I can’t get the image out of my head even away from there, but it’s most intense there. 

I wasn’t very close to her dad, but way closer to him than my own father. I wrestle internally with feeling like i’m intruding on their sadness. I know to a large degree that’s old family values leaking through on my part, and not much basis in reality (her family has been nothing but loving and welcoming). It’s still difficult to shake though. I’m sure I’ve driven L nuts with my constant checking and asking if they’d rather I be away… I’m trying to do most of the reality checking within myself…

I have to work tonight, so that will be weird. Hopefully I can get lost a bit there… I’m sad for L. I’m really sad for her mother, who had to find her husband. I’m sad for L’s family. We’re all going to miss her dad. He was the kinda guy that might talk a lot of shit about people, but he also wouldn’t hesitate to drop everything and go help someone out if they asked… I’m pretty positive he knew most of the town. Almost everywhere we’d go, we could find someone who knew L’s family through him (it’s not exactly a small town. I know I keep saying “town”, but it’s actually, technically a city)…

I dunno… there’s been so much loss lately. I’ve become even more paranoid about the dogs. I worry about L’s mom. I worry about my own mom. I worry about Dr C… 

These recent deaths bring up stuff from decades ago when my aunt and uncle died a few months apart. I start to worry that similar things will happen. I worry we will lose Sadie & Alex a few short months after Chow died (it happened that way with my last pair of dogs also, and even with my favorite snakes. We had to euthanize Sandy, then Gizmo got really sick less than a year later. Sugar Cane died suddenly, then Almond Joy had to be put down several months later…). I worry something may happen to L’s mom (she’s talking already like she’s going to be gone soon. I get some of that is grief. They would have been married 60 years this year, but given the patterns I’ve experienced, I worry)… I really don’t want more loss right now. 

Like Dr C said, grief is complicated…


Triggered

I want to rip my insides out. The body memories are back… 

Between the new group, added work days, recent attempts at contact from my dad’s sister, and other stressor, I’m feeling really triggered lately. 

I told Dr C. I also voiced that I was afraid she might tell me group was not a good idea, since it was contributing to the triggering. She didn’t say I’d have to leave though, so that’s good. I hope she doesn’t change her mind. Yeah, group is triggering, but it’s also nice to know some other people who can relate. I’ve never sat in a room with other people who understood (and voiced their understanding) my symptoms. They understand what it’s like to dissociate, to jump at triggers, to feel things in their bodies that were over decades ago… there’s a sad relief in knowing I’m not alone. 


So. Restless. Today. 

Nothing is keeping my attention. I start to write, then I get distracted or bored. Can’t pay attention to TV or music or art or anything.


Sorry I haven’t been around much lately. Losing Chow has been difficult to adjust to. I’ve been withdrawing into myself, yet, paradoxically, throwing myself into things outside the home. It sounds contradictory, I know. 

I’ve been burying the emotional part of me behind a bombardment of stimuli and activities. There’s rarely a moment when I’m not desperately distracting myself.  I’ve not been doing much by way of art or writing though. It’s been mostly “mindless” stuff, like going to dinner with friends (and avoiding anything other than surface conversation), taking the dogs to the park, that kind of stuff. 

I’ve even avoided taking much in therapy. At least, I have up to now. Today’s session might be different. I’ve started attending a group Dr C put together for adult survivors of [mumble, mumble, mumble]… I still cringe and have a small freak-out moment when I hear the title… we’ve met twice so far. The first one was mostly intros and basic group guidelines. The second one was a bit more topic-oriented around explaining PTSD, the symptoms, and how early abuse plays into it. I was ok for the psychoeducational piece of the group, but struggled to stay present when it turned more into talking about the effects on a personal level. 

I think part of my problem with that comes from the walls I’ve put up around the abuse “memories”. I know I was totally convinced at one point that what I was feeling and experiencing were true, but I’ve detached from that the last several weeks. This last group started stirring things below the surface but they still remain below the surface. 

I dunno. On the one hand, it’s a huge relief to have people that seem to struggle with similar symptoms and experiences. On the other hand, I feel like an interloper. They all seem to know what happened to them, and to connect with it. I’m here still trying to remember what the hell it was that came at me in those flashbacks. I know I struggled a lot with them, but they feel foreign to me at this time. It’s like I watched a movie a long time ago, and can kinda remember the plot, but have no idea of the details. And i’m certainly not connecting to it emotionally…

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Eternity and no time at all

It’s been 2 weeks since Chow died… yesterday would have been her 7th birthday.

It feels like she’s been gone forever, and like it was just yesterday. 

Ordered new name tags for the other two yesterday because Shutterfly had a promo going. Both L and I felt like we should be picking one for Chow also…

It’s so weird without her here. 

My anxiety is hitting hard again, especially days when I work at the front desk at the kennel. It feels really wrong without her there with me. I bring the other two, but they get noisy and need to be sent back into the kennel when that happens… Cow would just sit quietly with me and I didn’t have to worry that she would disrupt things. 

The other two dogs are also experiencing a lot more anxiety. They don’t want to be left alone anywhere. They used to tolerate being home alone for a few hours, but now the little guy barks himself hoarse. Sadie doesn’t like us sleeping in past 6:30 am anymore. If we are in the bedroom too long, she yells for us to wake up. She also panics a lot after we get home. She still sometimes goes outside looking for hints of Chow in all the spots she used to frequent… neither tolerates that half-hour alone in the camp room at work between the time we get there and the time camp actually starts…

I still expect chow to knock me in the head with the bathroom door if I don’t close it all the way. Both L and I look for her to pick up dropped food in the kitchen… 

It really sucks…


Musings on emotions

It feels like this huge, crushing weight (grief does).

It seems like I’m feeling it too intensely sometimes… 

For some reason, it struck me today that some people have “sensory processing disorders” around emotions rather than sights, sounds, or textures… 

The same way loud noises  (or lots of sources of noise) can be overwhelming to someone on the autism spectrum, “loud” emotions can be overwhelming to some people… 

What if that emotional overwhelm they try to always pigeonhole as “borderline” is really just an autistic glitch around emotions as opposed to one of the other senses? 

What if introducing trauma/abuse/neglect into the mix early-on intensifies the inability of a person to deal with this emotional sensory processing disorder? 

We’ve all heard the theories that borderline is better explained by c-ptsd (which I totally agree with). What if we took it one step further and explored the possibility that “borderline”was actually in part an autism-like disorder? 

If you consider that one “symptom” of borderline is “feeling too intensley”, and you understand that even trained clinicians minimize the difficulty of dealing with extremely intense emotions (as they’ve been trained to do; “know that emotions come & go, like waves”), it’s easy to see the disconnect in effective strategies for clients. It’s something along the lines of comparing a stubbed toe to a shattered foot. Sure, you can probably take over-the-counter Tylenol for the stubbed toe & it will likely help, but doing the same for the shattered foot probably won’t make a noticeable impact. For such an intense injury, you need prescription-strength stuff. We should have something more than “Tylenol” to offer people. 

What if we understand that pushing someone to sit with intense pain (physical or emotional)  will likely lead to various ways of procuring relief… so you take a kid who can’t handle loud noises, and you tell them they need to sit through a rock concert. You’re going to get a tantrum and various, inventive ways to deal with the pain from the noise (think stereotypical autistic behaviors like flapping, screaming, hitting self, or attacking others). Now take a kid who feels emotions incredibly intensely, and ask them to tolerate those emotions. You pretty much get the same acting out in search of relief: self injury, tantrums, physical and verbal outbursts…

I’m a huge proponent for dropping the borderline diagnosis from the dsm. It’s an antiquated and “cop-out” diagnosis with way too much stigma attached. While there’s a push to remove the stigma, it’s still very much taught to young clinicians. Professors and supervisors alike instill fear and disgust around the diagnosis. Myths are perpetuated. Doctors do the same. It’s quick to be diagnosed (often inaccurately), and it’s near impossible to step away from even if it’s found to be inaccurate. It follows you and colors every other interaction with every other professional that sees the dreaded diagnosis anywhere in the file…

What if, instead of just working to destigmatize the diagnosis, we came up with more accurate understandings, and got rid of it completely. It was, after all, just a catch-all category for people who didn’t quite fit any of the other categories… 

What are your thoughts on this? Does it kinda make sense? Am I way out in left field?