Monthly Archives: January 2015

New art journal in progress (with periodic updates)

I don’t have a working title or anything, but this is layer one. Not quite sure how to proceed. There will be some level of cover up, but not sure what. There’s an idea I want to combine this with, but again, not sure how to execute it… the face was inspired by the journal pic I found online. Her’s is better I think. My pen face sketches and color need lots of work.



2/1/15 – The next layer isn’t as bad as I had feared. It still needs more, but it’s coming along. It’s a combination of the above reference pic, another journal pic from online (which I can only find in the google search, it no longer seems to exist on, and the Sandman character from s1e3 from the series Sleepy Hollow.



There’s still a lot fo work to do on it, but I am waiting for the image transfer to dry on the opposite page so I can start connecting the two halves of the image… I’m glad I was finally able to get past the initial block of staring at the blank page without knowing where to start. Sometimes a blank page is your best friend, other times your worst enemy.




I don’t know who said this, as the person quoting it did not cite it, but I think it’s something to think about:

“Give up all hope of having a better past.”

Nothing in the world you can do (short of time travel, which we have not figured out) can change the past. We can only hope to make the present and future better…


been trying to do some art, any art really, but can’t get past staring at the blank page. I have spurts of half-formed ideas but as soon as I sit down to try them, I lose motivation.

I have nothing to write; I have nothing creative…

I feel totally emotionally drained. I’m not sure why. The narrative I did for TM wasn’t that triggering (at least I didn’t think it was). Though I did forget the whole emotional upheaval around the bitch situation. That was an emotional rollercoaster. I went from elated to relieved to angry to sad in the matter of a few short hours. I slept a lot, but it was full of nightmares. I’m not quite sure why I had forgotten all of that till this moment. Ok, so that explains the emotional draining…

I guess it’s time to just breath through the weekend. This week has felt incredibly long. I hope the weekend goes by quickly.

Tiny Buddha article on growing self acceptance

I found this a few days ago and wanted to share it, but I also wanted to write something about it… Unfortunately, I’m not in the head-space to pay attention to it. I still want to share it though, because it’s pretty good. Check it out if you are interested.

If you have time, it’s a good site to float around on also. Lots of good articles. I first found it when De gave me an article on grief from there. I didn’t like all the points of the article, but a bunch were good.

Anyway, yeah. Good site. Good article.

There’s finally hope for a sense of safety in the world

I’m not sure how to explain this without sounding like a scary psychopath, so please bear with me.

Earlier this morning, my dad (whom I no longer have contact with and who lives in another country) was Skyping with my mom. The topic of his oldest sister came up. He described some of the things she has been saying and doing lately that have caused even him to sever ties with her (she would probably qualify for a dx of psychopath. she was always horribly abusive to everyone in the family, but my dad was wrapped around her little finger for a lot of years)… Anyway, he was concerned about her behavior and current level of delusions. I chimed in that he should probably call social services on her and ask them to check up on her because what she was saying leads the family to believe she will seriously harm someone… He actually agreed (something he has never done before, but I guess even he is scared of her now).

The part that has me feeling shitty is my reaction to the thought of someone coming in, forcibly taking her away and forcibly medicating her: I’m elated. This is more than just happy, I’m ready to jump for joy and throw a party… I would love to be a fly on the wall if they actually do take her away, and I would be smiling from ear to ear as she screams that they are just trying to kill her (I think she’s got some dementia going on at this point, because she’s quite delusional). This reaction is so far from who I see myself as, that it really bothers me. But, she is the only person on the planet that elicits this kind of reaction. Literally anyone else I will argue that their background has brought them to where they are today, and I will feel bad for them. Pick any horrific serial killer or psychopath on the planet, and I will feel compassion for them (not saying they shouldn’t pay for their crimes or abuses, but that I can see how what they went through in life brought them to the point they are at and I feel bad for them). I can understand the same with bitch, but I don’t feel bad for her and I still really want her to suffer. I don’t care about her circumstances growing up, I don’t care about her trauma history, I don’t care about her mental illnesses. She fucked with too many people I do care about for me to even remotely feel any compassion for her at all. She was horribly abusive to everyone… I want to see her suffer for it.

While I would never act on some of the fantasies I hold about what I would like to see done to her, the level of pleasure I get from thinking about them scares me. I don’t like this aspect of myself (it makes me too much like her)… The more I think about what may happen to her if social services steps in and gets her out of society, the more relief I feel. I really want this to happen. I really want her not to be able to hurt anyone else any more. I would love to find out that they took her and have her on high levels of antipsychotics and sedatives. Finally, the world would feel kinda safe…

Does being so utterly happy about the thought of her locked up and heavily medicated make me as bad as her?


Someone on a support forum helped me re-frame his pretty well. She pointed out that it sounded like I was looking for validation around the abuse. She hit the nail on the head. My whole life, the only 2 people who ever agreed that bitch was a horrid person were my mom and my aunt (the middle sister on my dad’s side). Everyone else bought into her charm and her “woe is me. they hate little, innocent me for no reason!”. She was really good at charming the pants off everyone while she beat you down behind their backs. Seeing her finally have to face some sort of consequences for her behavior would finally be external validation that we are not the crazy, abusive ones…

When therapists throw a wrench in your plans.

So, I did the trauma narrative last night.  It had me feeling “off” ever since finishing. I agonized over leaving a message for TM all night and most of today. I finally settled on taking the risk of sounding overly needy and leaving her a voice mail. I remembered her saying Wednesdays are her late days, so calling at 11 am should have given me the safety of being able to leave a message vs having to speak to her. I thought about what I wanted to say, and rehearsed it in my head over and over again. I took a deep breath and dialed.

(OK, come on vm, pick up so I can talk to you before I forget what I want to say)
:ri..:”Hello, this is TM”
(Panic. Shit! She wasn’t supposed to be there yet! Cue being totally tactless and stupid) “Doh! You weren’t supposed to pick up… I…”
“Is this Samantha?”
“Yes… sorry. I had something to say, but you threw me off by answering…”

I appreciate she answers her phone when she has availability, but… ugh! It was such an awkward phone call and I didn’t manage to say what I needed to. Luckily she laughs at my dry humor, and I totally appreciate that she tried to get me to articulate what I had intended to say… sometimes I miss that calls to TL went straight to voice mail.

“Disgustingly happy art” was approved (and thoughts on today)

disgustingly happy artMet with TM again today and showed her the finished Unicorn Pegasus picture. She really liked it. We talked about how difficult it was to do, and how it didn’t really meet my standards, but that it was growing on me. I had intended to explain that trying to do the happier piece in my art journal was very triggering, but I forgot to bring it up. I wanted to explain that the art journal needed to be where I could be genuine with the expression, but we ended up talking about how taking the art journal classes was helping me be less critical of my work.

I also mentioned that the Unicorn Pegasus piece may or may not find a way to go up in flames after session, so she asked if she could keep it. :shrugs: All good. I had to think I was making it for her to keep anyway in order to be able to finish it, so I was ok with her actually keeping it. At first she had said she wouldn’t hang it up because she knew how uncomfortable having my other piece up had made me. I came to the conclusion that the piece in the hallway was too vulnerable, which made me feel exposed. We kinda talked about that a bit. While I know a lot of my art expresses stuff, the more vulnerable and “dark” a piece is, the harder it is to have it seen by random people. It’s kinda like having my journal hanging up in the hallway for anyone to read; just too personal. The Unicorn Pegasus was a piece done “on commission” so it doesn’t make me feel as exposed.

I showed her my art journal that I had started in May. I told her how it was an easier way to express things than in writing, and it was safer in many respects. I have had my written journals read by too many uninvited people to have that feel like a safe way to get things out of me. At least with the art journal, a lot is left up to interpretation. Unless I tell you exactly what I was trying to express, you either interpret it correctly or you don’t. And if you happen to guess it but I don’t want you to know that, I can explain it as something else…

She used the title of “counselor” today and I was able to correct her in real-time about it. I told her how and why it made me uncomfortable. I joked with her that I “get stupid” as soon as I walk through the door to the building anyway, so even if I had gotten my degree, I doubt I could come up with anything intelligent. She kinda laughed at that, then agreed to change her wording to “former intern”. On the heels of that discussion going well, I took a breath and asked for a reality check around whether or not she had believed me the last session when I told her I cut my finger by accident. She admitted that she didn’t know me well yet, but was going on the assumption that I was being honest. I told her that I do my best to be as honest as possible in therapy. If there’s something I don’t want to answer, I will stay quiet rather than lie about it. I was relieved that she didn’t think I was lying, and told her so. We talked a bit more about working in therapy and trying to get out of the rut I seem to be in. I think she may have been generalizing a bit about noticing that I am trying (because really, she’s seen me 3 times. Yes I put forth effort, but I don’t think it’s as obvious as she made it sound… though maybe it is and I just don’t notice it). I may have to bring that up with her, because I don’t believe people when they say nice things about me, especially if I don’t think they would have the knowledge to make a particular statement. It feels fake and forced and like something G would do (either right before or right after harshly criticizing someone else), so it makes me wonder. I know she is not G. I am pretty sure she would not act like he did, however positive stuff towards me always makes me cringe (I know I felt this same way towards TL, and it brough up a lot of transference. I hope TM will be able to tackle it a bit more if it comes up with her also)…

This week’s homework is a bit different: I’m supposed to “practice” doing a trauma narrative. I’m supposed to pick a stressful memory and write about it more formally (beginning, middle, end). I could also do art around it if it’s easier. I may end up doing both… We talked about my desire to be pushed on the trauma work. She mentioned that she normally would not move this quickly, but I seem to have coping skills at my disposal. She is trusting that I will manage myself safely. We reviewed how I have been trying to cope when triggered. She wanted to add to it calling the office hotline. I told her how uncomfortable I was speaking on the phone, and how I often trip over my words or minimize things if I actually get to the point of speaking to a human being (normally I hang up before that can happen).  I told her I will sometimes contact the crisis chats and she seemed ok with that compromise. I guess if it ever gets to her really wanting me to speak with someone at the office, then I can ask her to warn them that I have a difficult time on the phone and it may take more effort on their end to get me to talk… Anyway, this homework is only practice because we are trying to keep triggering to a minimum. She doesn’t even want me to pick a trauma memory, just something more stressful. I’m supposed to describe the event in detail and add as much of both the emotions and thoughts surrounding it as I can recall. I’m also supposed to stop if I get too triggered or stressed. I tried to explain that I am triggered regardless, but she still wants me to take it slower. I’m still trying to figure out what to go with. One thought is the whole incident around Dr. Ass-Wipe wanting to force me into ECT. It’s something I have yet to really process, and I actually remember most of it. It’s also something that reinforces my desire to stay away from psych hospitalizations. Even if I am triggered and freaking out, it will be a very loud reminder to stay safe at all costs.

Can someone remind me to talk to her next week about the difficulty of doing a trauma narrative around something that comes splotchy and fragmented? I don’t really know how to do a “beginning, middle, end” when all I can remember is flashes of various “middles”…

Titles and faking it

Last week with TM, the concept of feeling like a fraud my whole life came up. I was explaining that I know I have these accomplishments and education, but when I’m not in an intellectual space, I don’t connect to any of them. I can look at my resume and my degree and see my name, know I was there, understand that I knew this stuff at one time, but it all feels so removed.
A few sentences later, she called me by a title I never internalized; she called me a therapist. I visibly balked when she said this. I don’t identify with it at all. Yes, I have education towards it, and yes I was in that role at one time, but I only ever considered myself an intern or trainee. I never finished my schooling. I didn’t hold that job for more than a year… Yes, I had individual & group clients. Yes, I was the person they talked to about their “stuff”. Yes, we did “therapy” things, but I never felt like a therapist.

Therapists have their shit together. They don’t fall apart at the slightest trigger. They know how to handle stress. They are good about their self care. They stay working…

So no, I don’t consider myself a therapist. It’s something I’d like to get to some day, but most days I don’t consider myself a very good adult, forget the responsibility that goes along with the title of “therapist”… I hope I don’t ever come off as knowing more than I do. I don’t mean to.

I appreciate the sentiment but…

A follower posted a comment on my previous entry. I apologize, I had to delete it. The sentiment was awesome, and he said nothing mean, but it’s hugely triggering for me. I don’t do religion in general, but Christianity is a really sore subject…
I just wanted to say thank you to him for posting it. I appreciate the thought.
I don’t normally delete sincere comments. The only things I delete are spam comments, or anything deliberately hurtful. This comment was not, but it’s left me shaking and crying. Sorry. I know that wasn’t the intent…


Today’s flashbacks are not stopping. I’ve been able to keep them bearable, but that’s slowly turning to unbearable. My body is sore, as if everything has happened again today, not just memories of it. This doesn’t happen often. Normally I’m only hurting during the worst of the flashback intensity. Tonight, it’s the whole time…
I’m running out of energy to deal with this in “healthy” ways. The benadryl isn’t helping me fall asleep, nor is it numbing my brain and body to the experience of the flashbacks.
I have that Taylor Swift song, safe & sound, on continuous repeat and it’s helping the panic and neediness a bit, but it’s not touching the flashbacks…
I tried connecting to the crisis chats for over 2 hours tonight. They must have super-high volume because the line was always 16-35 people, and I was always timed-out before I got to the front of it. I guess I could call the hotline at TM’s agency, but it’s so difficult to speak on the phone, let alone to someone I don’t know…
But my body is vibrating and sore from all this today. I need it to stop already somehow… 😦

Needs and neediness

Feeling quite needy today. Last night was another rough night with flashbacks. Another “new” one popped up.

I had been fighting them all day. We were at a local orchid show when they started, so it was both a bit easier to distract and easier to get lost. There was a whole ton of sensory information. It was crowded, but it was also novel things to engage in/with. On the one hand I was dizzy and disoriented from everything there, but on the other hand there was plenty to bounce between when one distraction stopped working. I concentrated on taking pictures and trying to see all the different plants. I had given myself permission to purchase something inexpensive, so a lot of time was spent cruising around trying to decide on what to get. While there were 100’s of thousands of plants to pick from, most of it was the same basic stuff. After the third go-around, I finally settled on a few small plants. I didn’t want to spend much because I have a really bad habit of not paying attention to the conditions in which the plant thrives. That usually ends badly for said plant…
Anyway, I plugged my music in my ears when things started to get too intense. I even kinda opened up to mom about it. I managed to keep the flashbacks to a 5 (on a scale of 1-10). I knew they were there, but they didn’t completely take over. They kept creeping up a bit the rest of the day, but not by much. Then I tried to do some more “happy” art for TM.

I didn’t feel like working on the original piece, so I started in my journal. The darkness kept wanting to poke through. I noticed the more I tried to keep it out, the worse I felt. Suddenly, I wanted to shred my arms and cry hysterically. It was an intense and violent urge that hit and stayed there. I haven’t cut my arms in about 10 or more years (I had moved from my arms in college, but would occasionally try there again once or twice. Anyway, it’s been a really long time). Then my anger intensified. I resented being asked to be fake in both my art and in therapy (yes, I’m aware she didn’t actually ask me to be fake in therapy, and this is my generalization). I was hurt that I’d have to hide again. My inner kid was crying and sobbing and begging not to be forced to hide it all again. This all happened in about a minute. Then it switched to the flashback…

I was really small in this one, no more than 3… and it was incredibly intense (closer to an 8 or 9 on that 1-10 scale). And it was the full sensory experience (another rarity. I generally only get sensations and emotions followed by cognitive memories. Sometimes I’ll get auditory stuff, but that generally only happens with the ones of my parents fighting)… this one was physical sensation, emotion, auditory, visual, olfactory, taste… it was the total virtual reality experience. And it exhausted me, though I couldn’t fall asleep without help.

Echos of it were there again this morning. The sensation piece lasts the longest,  closely followed by the emotional fallout. The monsters are breaking out of their closet. It’s not fun… they get me desperate to put them away in any way possible. The instinct to self harm is huge when they get bad, but I promised TM I would try everything else first… so today’s plan is to try to be productive. I need to do laundry (and shower, though that can be triggering, so it’s up in the air at the moment), take care of the zoo, kinda clean the house… I can head back out to the orchid show I think (unsure if my tickets are good for the whole weekend, or just one day and we used them already). I can also head out to the craft store to wander (there’s actually nothing I want to buy. This is a first). I may just end up outdoors though. The weather is windy and overcast with storms threatening. I love it. I love being outside in storms. I love the rain and the wind. I love watching the clouds. The rain feels refreshing and cleansing and comfortable… yeah, maybe that’s what I’ll end up doing (and will mother nature to get on with the raining piece)…

Hopefully the icky stuff stays at bay today. I’m not sure how much energy I have to devote to fighting it. I did remember though that TM works today, so if all else fails, I can leave her a message or talk to someone at their crisis line. Still feeling very needy and small, but trying to suppress that.

Oh, here are a few of the pictures from the show.


Recently (the past several few months), I have noticed I get confused easily.  I give the dogs supplements with their breakfast. Two of them should get 5 pills each. I find I can count to five in my hand, can understand that in sequence I reach the number five, but can’t visually distinguish that I have 5 in my hand. I will understand I counted to five, but I can’t figure out if that’s the correct number, or how I got to it. It’s quite disturbing. It happens more often than not lately. I’m also hitting more periods of being unreasonably tired, no exhausted, for no discernable reason. I can’t move or function, as if I’d taken a sedative, only without having taken anything.

The confusion with comprehending counting is compounded by a growing confusion with stringing individual word’s meanings together. Sometimes I listen to people talk, or I read something, and know I should understand what I just witnessed, only I don’t. I can get individual meanings, but I can’t string the meanings together in my head to understand what the person is trying to convey. I know the definitions of each word, but I can’t discern a meaning from them used together.

Less often, but again increasing in frequency, I cannot communicate. I stumble over words or can’t figure out the words I need to use to get my meaning across.

I started noticing this first in therapy, but it’s seeping into other areas of life. I find myself staring blankly at my mom as she talks to me. I can listen to her words, I can understand and know the word as it is spoken, but I have no idea what she means. At first I thought it was a stress reaction (because it was most pronounced during stressful therapy sessions), but I’m doubting that assessment now. Sensory information gets very confusing coming in. Occasionally it’s also confused on the way out… I think I will try to talk to a doctor about this relatively soon. I’m fine if it’s a stress reaction and I just need to work harder on relaxing, but I want to know also if it’s more than that…


Since the flashbacks kicked in again, my head has been in a fog. I’ve been trying to ground. I worked a bit more on the horse, but I kept getting stalled. I tried to visit my usual online support forums, but it felt (and still feels) impossible to think or comprehend anything. I read things, but they don’t penetrate.
Spoke with a friend for a long time today (both of us suck on the phone, but we know that about each other). I think that was actually the longest conversation I’ve had with her in the 13 years I’ve known her… it was good, but I was so disconnected. I think we made plans for her to visit soon, but I’m not sure. It would be cool if she came. I miss her a lot…
The flashbacks were still strong, so I decided to take other friends up on the offer to meet for drinks. I felt bad because I was so distant… I don’t mean to be such a drag.
Anyway. Thank you everyone for your comments. I’m sorry I’m not in a space to be able to respond to them in any meaningful way at the moment. Hoping sleep will help.
Peace. Pieces. Peace.


I’m minding my own business, working away in this piece for TM, and out of nowhere really intense body memories hit with a flood of emotion. Wtf?!

I suddenly want to scream and cry and rip up the piece. I want to break every brush and pencil and art supply in sight… I want to smash everything to pieces, including my body.

What the hell? Where did this come from? Why was there no warning? There’s usually a build-up and hints that this is coming…

new art challenge: “disgustingly happy art”

Therapy was better today. While I didn’t talk about everything I had wanted to, I was able to give TM part of a journal entry to read. She had asked about the flashbacks, but I couldn’t speak it, so I just handed her the pages. I warned her it was kinda detailed, and she could skim if she wanted… After reading the paragraph about the flashbacks, she back-tracked to read the beginning part of the page. I’m kinda glad she did. There was stuff there I had wanted to ask her, but couldn’t bring myself to say. To her credit, I couldn’t pick up on any outward reaction from her. I’m glad. I think I would have interpreted anything at all as judgement…

I also showed her the “monsters in the closet” art journal. We talked about all of it a bit. I ended up describing some recent history from the last batch of hospitalizations. I was trying to explain why I think L is justified in her panic responses sometimes (even though I dislike it and I wish she didn’t worry so much, I understand why she does). I’m not sure if it was the lighting and shadows in the room or what, but I thought I saw TM tear-up. I really hope my eyes were playing tricks on me. If not, I worry about breaking her too. The point that I thought I saw her eyes get wet was not a point in the story that was particularly emotional to anyone that does not know me. That would mean that she was reacting to something on her end. I don’t want to bring stuff up for people. I don’t want to break them just in being me… I did that already with one therapist. I really don’t want to break another. If there’s any credibility to the threat of me possibly contributing to her being broken, I’m out. No way. No more. I’ve broken the dogs, I broke N, I broke L, I broke De… no more breaking people…

10940461_10153013715089892_3865196304632814884_nAnyway, TM tasked me with focusing on the positives this coming week (probably to contrast all the crap from last week). I am to create a piece of “disgustingly happy art” with unicorns and Pegasus and rainbows. “The happier the better” even if it’s totally fake. And I’m supposed to journal about the process. I’m also supposed to journal/track when I feel “ok”. It all feels hugely, frustratingly fake. I’ve already started the painting, but I also already want to tear it up. The proportions and shading is all wrong. I can’t figure out how to do the wings correctly… It was supposed to be a white horse on a celestial bg, but because I screwed up the shading, it’s now a black and brown horse. That means I need to come up with a different bg scheme now. And I need to add other annoyingly, disgustingly cute and happy things, but I’m not sure what. Probably butterflies and flowers and [ew!!] pink things! If I don’t shred it, I may throw up all over it… The only way I got this far was telling myself I was making it to give to TM (or L, who actually wants it. though darkness would seep in to L’s so I have to keep thinking it’s for TM right now)… Another friend also wants it, but she is third in line. I joked and told her I would have to make prints so everyone could get a copy.


So yeah… that’s that. I think I need to try to sleep now before my cranky mood returns.

Thoughts on self harm

I recently posted on a support forum about my reasons for self harm. One reason was again pointed out as “eye opening” (when I had mentioned it to De, she had admitted that she never thought of it that way, and it helped the whole thing make more sense to her), so I thought I would share it here also.

“people will help with profuse bleeding, but I am expected to handle intense and unbearable emotions on my own”

Regardless of your skill-level in dealing with physical injury, there is no expectation of figuring out how to heal the wound on your own if you are bleeding badly. People will not look at you with an incredulous stare and tell you that you should be able to stitch yourself up and get on with your day. Even doctors are expected to seek medical help with physical illness or injury.

With emotional hurt however, a person is expected to develop the skills necessary to carry them through even the darkest times alone. The emotional equivalent of evisceration or amputation is expected to he handled with grace and poise and completely on your own. Yes, you are allowed to seek help, but you are not allowed to expect hand-holding or much support outside of a quick check-in. You are expected to “take a deep breath and use your coping skills”. Would you tell me to use my coping skills until I found one that worked if I got into an accident and became trapped in my car? Would you tell me to use my coping skills to try to cure cancer? Then why tell me to use my coping skills again and again and again in response to flashbacks or depression or anxiety?

Sometimes, when you ask for help over and over again only to be met with dismissal, you find the help any way you can get it.

I’m writing this not to invalidate the usefulness of healthy coping skills, but to offer another perspective to the concept of self harm being “done for attention”… sometimes it’s the only way to start to get the level of help you need, or the only way to allow people to understand the extent of the hurt.

When the intensity of my self harm had gotten dangerous in the past, it was always directly proportionate to the level of emotional hurt. People stopped saying “go deal with that shit on your own” and finally started asking “how can I help?”

I guess I had hoped to have this post speak more to the stigma of mental illness than it is actually doing. My frustration with the way mental illness is treated comes not so much from the general public, but from the standard of functioning treatment providers set up for clients. While they often acknowledge that it is “difficult to overcome,” and “issues that have been with you your whole life should not be expected to change overnight,” they still are expected to change and improve in relatively short order with relatively little intervention.

A cancer patient has support in so many forms, but a person with depression gets ostracized for “not trying hard enough” when they can’t get out of bed, or told they are being resistant to treatment when the medication side effects prove too taxing (or they report the medication not working)… we need to keep examining the way we treat mental illness. We need to keep looking at the expectations placed on individuals who deal with this day in and day out. When you are exhausted from fighting with the world inside your head, you shouldn’t be expected to fight the world outside alone, yet we do it every day…

Monsters in the closet (art journal)


This journal page started out with an idea around trying to “find your voice”, but took a bunch of turns. Was kinda trying to both prompt myself to talk openly to TM about the monsters, but also convey the fear and desperation around trying to cram the monsters back into the closet as soon as they appear. There’s the shutting-down when faced with talking about them, the frantic push to keep the monsters out in the first place, and the knowledge that they lose their power when finally talked about. The key to talking about them feels just out of reach, but they threaten to burst through the door anyway (the locks are failing and the door will soon give way)… trying to keep it far away and disconnected, but build on what is already spoken about. All shrouded in darkness except when the flashlight gets turned on in therapy.

Cheesy! But whatever. Maybe I can lead with this tomorrow, because it kinda covers everything from the fear of talking about it to the fear of not taking about it, and the need for safety around it… also much more condensed than the 30+ pages worth of journaling I’ve done this week… hmm.

Now the question becomes: do I warn her I have heavy stuff I need to dump somewhere and need help with dumping it safely? Or do I just go in and hope I get to it so I don’t torture myself all next week about it? (And maybe not waste time on the stress around G coming for a visit next week even though that might be easier to talk about)…

Quote – mistakes are learning experiences

A mistake doesn’t mean you’re bad or wrong, it just means you’re learning. And it takes a lot more courage to learn than it does to just be right all the time. – The Girl Who Lived

This!! This is what happens with all that emotional crap with me!

randomly stumbled upon a blog called The Girl Who Lived and started reading (I do that sometimes. I stumble upon something without any clue what it actually is, and I start reading…) and it hits home. THIS is what I cannot seem to actually explain to anyone, and why therapists often look at me like I have 5 heads when I tell them I have no idea what I’m feeling… (she was describing an occurrence of being triggered without actually knowing what triggered it, and then what came after for her).

And I sat on the couch and folded laundry and but on some mindless television. The American Idol auditions, in fact: something dumb and non-taxing, but which occasionally provokes an emotional response in me through some manipulative back story. The perfect outlet for the emotionally-crippled, who tend to take our tears where we can find them.
I found some there, that day. Only once they started, they were hard to stop. A little desperate, those tears. A little scary. Something big seemed to be threatening to happen.
It’s happening, I found myself thinking, wildly. It’s happening.
What’s happening? the Sherlock part of my brain barged in and asked. What’s going on here?! Have I authorized this?!
Oh. Hmmmm. Tears immediately ceased. Trying to analyze what was happening seemed to be the quickest way to stop it from happening.
then a short ways down:
My husband came down from his office around then to see how things were going, and I told him what had happened with the tears, and he asked what I was feeling.
“I’m not,” I said.
“No, I mean, what feelings is this bringing up for you?”
“I’m not having feelings,” I said. “I’m having an emotional reaction.”
He looked at me. “Um.”
“Yes, I realize that those technically mean the same thing.”
Raised eyebrow.
“They do not necessarily mean the same thing for me. My body is having the reaction. My intellectual brain is not involved, and if my intellectual brain tries to get involved, it makes the reaction stop, so I’m just staying out of it and letting the reaction happen without trying to figure out what’s causing it, you know?”
I might need to show this to TM at some point… It may be effective in heading off the “you seriously have 5 heads right now” stare at least in regards to emotion-labeling. (I think this phenomenon is also what tripped up De and I: I was in an intellectual rather than emotional space when we worked on identifying my emotions. Intellectually, I knew the emotions I should be having, and what they would be called, but I couldn’t necessarily tell her what they actually felt like. Had I been stuck in my emotions, I would have gone round and round without being able to tell her anything. She would have suggested things, and I would have blindly picked a few because that is what would have been expected of me). Maybe I need to specify that I have no concept of what the emotions are when I am actively lost in them. I lose the capacity to understand what labels go with what feelings, and what I’m currently feeling actually is… I can grasp the concept of confusion, terror, relief, and happiness, but the subtle nuances that would separate out other emotions elude me at times like those. I can recall several times I have been asked “what [am I] feeling? what’s going on for [me] right now?” and I have no answer. Heck, when De announced her resignation from the agency, tears spilled from my eyes, but I couldn’t tell her what I was actually feeling. I still have no real idea what it was; sadness? anger? fear? loss? grief? I don’t know. Maybe all of those, maybe none of those. Maybe it was resignation? Anyway, yeah, I have no intellectual grasp of the emotions I tend to feel when I am feeling them. I can hazard a guess based on what I someone suggests I should be feeling, but I have no real concept of what the particular emotion actually feels like. A lot of the time, my intellectual understanding of an emotion does not match the emotional experiencing… And if I ever really try to examine and label an emotional experience, I lose touch with it and switch to the intellectual side of things.
I’m not the only one who experiences this?? This is awesome. Not in the “yeah! another screwed up person in the world!” but in the sense of “Yeah! I finally have a description and someone else gets it!” kinda way.

Childhood trauma and adhd

Another link to an interesting article. I know, I’m full of referrals today. Enjoy the break from my chatter while it lasts 😉

Link to an editorial about mental illness in a marriage

An interesting thing to think about, and another perspective on living with mental illness in a marriage… longer read, but worth the different thoughts.

The memory debate

Ever since these new memories have surfaced, I have questioned them. I’m still incredulous about having not remembered anything about these events prior to last year, but on the other hand, they make sense in context of some other unanswered questions.

My original search started in an effort to find the description on of body memories. I remembered reading it once and finding it was not the same context in which I was using the term when trying to describe what I experience. I couldn’t navigate back to where I found it (and my memory of the content is very vague), so decided to try a general Google search for a definition of the term “body memories”. It was through this I stumbled upon everything from websites describing the role of body memories in trauma, to websites refuting the claim that body memories even exist. In all of these websites, I think I found a small handful that used the term in the way I use it. I guess I will have to be specific when talking to anyone new about what I mean when I say I experience body memories: the physical sensations associated with an act or occurrence. For me, body memories are generally experienced as the feeling of hands or other body parts on or in my body. It’s not limited to that though. I also experience body memories of instances of self-harm (cutting or burning). While the body memories of being assaulted/abused trigger cognitive memories of the assault as well as the emotional effects, the body memories of the self harm often bring about the same relief that actually engaging in the self harm would. I get the rush of relaxation, the slowing of thoughts, the release of bodily tension, and respite from the flashbacks or suicidal thinking. The “flashback” of the self harm is experienced the same way as a flashback of any of the other negative stuff that went on in my life. It holds true to the experiencing of the self harm and its emotional aftermath. Honestly, I wish I could induce the self harm memories whenever the flashbacks of the assaults became too overwhelming. It does the same thing as the cutting, but I don’t get in trouble for it… and maybe if I mastered control of the self harm flashbacks, I could master control of the assault flashbacks.

Anyway, I had mentioned coming across sites that try to refute the concept of repressed memory and body memories. I read through two of them, as well as a few websites that sided “with” the concept of body memories. I must admit, the ones “for” it were somewhat better written than the ones “against” it… one “against” site sounded like it was written by someone with a personal, vested interest in proving the concept false. There was no explanation of their terminology, no references (on the page I read), and lots of teenage-like bashing. I must point out I did not explore the rest of the site beyond reading most of the linked page. I found the “interview” transcripts a frustrating read since most therapists I have had the pleasure of meeting are more well-spoken than what was presented there, but again, that’s my own bias. The other site simply pointed out the dangers of unfounded allegations and offered a few references. That said, one of the pages I read “for” repressed memories and body memories offered real scholarly evidence and critical thinking around the topics. It also pointed to several other articles both supporting and denying the claims that repressed memories of trauma are valid. I would like to point out here that none of the pages talking about the validity of repressed memories actually gave a definition of body memories, used the term “body memories” very often, or described them in any detail beyond calling them a physical re-experiencing. Most of the pages spoke about flashbacks without separating out the physical re-experiencing of the events. I am unsure why this is, since as recently as last year, I was able to find this info quite readily. Perhaps it is related to the controversy around body memories and “false memories”, as well as the lack of research on the topic.

Some other sites I found that would be good to read through:

I could not find the second page refuting body memories this time around (didn’t think to save any of the links the first time I went through my search yesterday afternoon). I’m sure it exists out there, and that there are more, but I cannot find it at this moment.

Anyway, it’s got me again questioning the validity of the memories attached to these flashbacks. The above mentioned well-gathered page for repressed memories cautioned that anyone wanting to tackle previously forgotten trauma ask themselves a few questions, including:

  • “Why do I want to recover (more) memories?”

  • “What do I hope that recovering memories will do for me?”

  • “Why do I wish I could know for sure whether I was abused?”

  • “What problems and suffering in my life now do I believe will be changed by remembering abuse?”

I know for myself, I simply want the flashbacks to subside. I want to be able to stop experiencing the sensations of being assaulted over and over again. I want my life back. I want to function again. I hesitate to tell anyone close to me the details because I am aware that newly discovered memories can be misleading. I want to talk about it with a neutral third party (therapist) so I can explore it, get it out of me, and hopefully move on from it. I don’t necessarily want to discover more memories because honestly, this is plenty, but I do want them to stop popping up. So if there are more locked away in my brain, bring it on and let me deal with it so I can stop being so strongly and adversely effected by it. I also want to figure out how to be ok without ever knowing for sure if these memories are accurate. My only goal in dealing with them is to make them leave me alone already.

All that said, I think I have a slightly different take on what body memories are, at least for me. I’m not sure I believe that we remember specific incidents at a cellular level unrelated to the brain. I think the memories are stored in the brain, but just separated out from the conscious, cognitive remembering. Muscle memory is the concept that our muscles “remember” frequently used motions and can return to it at any point in the future, even without much practice or conscious thought (the rough definition paraphrased from here). In school, we learned about muscle memory in relation to fitness, learning to play musical instruments, repetitive physical activities, etc. I would hazard that what I am experiencing as body memories are actually just muscle memories (which I would say are more subconscious memories, rather than ones actually stored in muscles, but I  have no evidence for that). Anyway, my personal theory is that traumatic events or ones causing great stress can also cause “muscle memory”. If we go with the theory that traumatic events are more salient because they allow us (as a species) to survive and avoid such traumas again, then it makes perfect sense that we would store those memories in a number of ways for quick access. Think of it this way, you’re walking along in the wilderness and stub your toe on a rock. It slows you down, you’re not able to get where you are going, and you may be sick & hungry for a while. Once you heal, you notice your toe still kinda hurts sometimes, but not all the time. You pay more attention to it when it hurts. You then start to notice that the hurt really only comes when you are in a place with more rocks around. You begin to pay attention to the rocks in order to avoid stubbing your toe again. I think body memories are quite valid. I also think they evolved as a way to enable us to pay better attention to the things around us to which we need to pay attention either to make life easier, or to spare our lives. With PTSD and flashbacks, this all somehow got kicked into over-drive. Our brains are desperately trying to protect us, so it throws this stuff our way. It is also trying to make sense of stuff that doesn’t compute well with our conscious thoughts… Take PTSD theory, toss it in a blender with muscle memory, and you get body memories that accompany the flashbacks (after all, most flashbacks also include a physical re-experiencing of an event)… I think the intensity and salience of “negative” body memories can be explained with the same theory that explains the intensity and salience of negative cognitive memories. Afterall, most people do not claim to experience “flashbacks” of really happy times. I have not yet heard of people being randomly triggered into remembering their happiest moments in the same full-on, 3D, THX, IMax experience of traumatic memories. There are no anecdotal stories of people re-living the good times to the intensity of the really bad ones. There’s no body of research on the spontaneous re-experiencing of strongly positive experiences, so why is the argument against body memories centered around the lack of body memories for positive experiences? Just some things to think about.

(on a side note, and only marginally related to all this, I’m kinda frustrated/pissed/angry/sad that Dr. Glenn Doyle seems to have disappeared from the blogosphere and the internet in general. I was trying to link to the post where he described flashbacks as 3D, THX, IMax experiences, but his blog is gone. His fb page is inactive, and his practice seems to have moved according to I worked with him very briefly while inpatient in DC back in 2011 and really liked his style. He has a similar sense of humor, but writes much more eloquently than I do. I hope he is well, and I hope he reappears again soon… I miss reading his thoughts on things).

nightmarish dreams

I tried to slow some flashbacks by napping today. While I did get sleep, it was filled with the content of the flashbacks and other nightmarish things. One in particular woke me in a panic so hard… I had looked up TM’s last name yesterday, but she had only put her last initial on the card. In my nightmare, she was the wife of DuckBoy. In the nightmare, I didn’t realize this and gave her DuckBoy’s real name. In the nightmare, she became mean and condescending… So when I woke up, I freaked out for a bit until I realized that she would have her full name on her voicemail. I quickly dialed and breathed a huge sigh of relief when I heard that her last name was not actually DuckBoy’s last name (from what I understand, he still lives in the area, and his wife works as a clinician somewhere in this county)… I would have run out of there if she was related to him. I had not given anyone his full name because I know he is still active in the community. I still have a lot of shame around all that went on with him…

Feeling urgency

I’m not sure what it is. I’m trying to figure out the driving force behind this intense desire to see TM again and to try to talk about this again. It always kicks in. Once I open the door to starting to talk about anything vulnerable at all, I need to just be able to spill it. All of it. At one time.
I feel this desire to talk myself into exhaustion. It’s like all this stuff needs to come out of me and into… I don’t even know. Someone who can safely hold it? Someone who can throw it out? Someplace other than myself, but also someplace safe.
It’s not attachment related, because I have no attachment to TM at this point. (Actually, I think this need to divulge is stronger before I know the person… maybe. I’m not sure though, since I know this urgency is also there after I’ve grown to know and trust the therapist). Maybe it really is just related to a need to share this with another safe (neutral, non-judgemental, uninvested) human being, to not being alone with it all…

I find myself trying to think about history and diagnoses, and how this desire (though gods, does it ever feel like a need) fits into the puzzle. is it part of the ptsd, the bpd, the self esteem issues, the anxiety? What? Where does it fit? Is it legit to talk about and ask for? Is it just part of the human condition to need to be able to be completely honest with someone? I know there’s thoughts floating by that contradict one another right now. One questions if anyone would actually like me as a human being if they knew everything, every dark secret? Would I still be worthy of breath if they saw the real me? Another thought wonders if they may be more OK with the concept of me as a human being if they knew all the motivations and fears behind everything I think and do. One thought looks for validation while another thought is sure judgement will follow. Will I turn out to be the horrid person I’m afraid I am if you see everything that makes up “me”? Or will it give you a deeper understanding of all that appears to be random craziness and weirdness and awkwardness? Please don’t hate me, but please prove my fears right, and prove them wrong, and hate me, and…

There’s so much inner conflict around my self-worth. There’s all these years of that little voice saying I’m worthless and stupid, but it’s being countered by the voices of everyone who has tried to convince me I have value. It’s very loud and confusing. Sometimes one is winning, other times the other is. Right now, I think the voice that whispers “they will (should!) hate me if they knew everything” is the driving force behind the need for disclosure. I want validation that the voice is merely a fear, and not reality. And I need to find that validation. Right now, no one knows everything. No one has all the puzzle pieces with all the disconcerting revelations, so I’m not sure they wouldn’t hate me if they knew everything. But I’m also not sure I would believe they knew everything if they didn’t hate me (because how can you look at me, all my dark secrets and blackness and not hate me, not think I’m vile and disgusting and scary?)… I think I need people to prove I’m worth life, but I have a feeling I won’t believe them unless they say I’m worthless. It’s a wonderful little trap. “Please, please, please say I’m an OK human?” You’re an OK human being “Fuck you, you don’t really know me unless you hate me! (But gods, please know me and don’t hate me)”…

Monica’s closet

You know that episode of Friends where Chandler finds out about Monica’s closet? To the outside world, Monica is organized and together. She has her moments, but she’s actually quite OCD about her house being clean and perfect. Everyone believes this and goes with it. That’s how they categorize her. Then one day, I think it’s Chandler who stumbles upon a locked door hidden away in the apartment. He breaks into it to find a cartoon-esque closet packed to the hilt with stuff. It’s disorganized and messy and you can’t pull any single thing out without everything else falling out behind it. Chandler is shocked, and Monica freaks out that he’s found her secret…

Going to therapy is like Monica walking Chandler to this closet, telling him to watch as she opens it, pulls something out, then gets covered in the contents… and then Chandler has to leave for work, and Monica’s left stuffing things back into the closet by herself (totally frazzled, overwhelmed, and vulnerable).

Sometimes I wonder why I bother, yet I keep going back hoping this time I’ll get more help with it all. I hope that this time I’ll be able to finally organize things so they are not as overwhelming… coz even if I hid the closet away behind locks and chains and furniture, I would know it’s there and is a complete mess…

What would you do?

What would you do with memories you weren’t sure are real? I experience them as real. They come like the other flashbacks, but… they suck. And why didn’t I remember them before?

It’s been over 25 years since the time they would have taken place. I know most of my childhood is a blank. I know even high school is sketchy, but I remember more than from earlier times in my life. But… shouldn’t have some inkling of this popped up before? Forget that the events would fill some holes very nearty. Forget that they would enable other things to make sense… How do I know I didn’t piece them together and weave a story subconsciously?

Yes, they feel exactly like flashbacks. They come in the same way the others do. They feel very real when they are happening. At the time of the flashbacks, I know they’re just something I forgot about, but when the flashbacks fade and the body sensations dissipate, I can’t wrap my head around it. I second guess the validity and reliability of memories that surface so late. When there are no active flashbacks, it’s easy to question them…

I guess it’s stuff to bring up with T next week. (I should find out her last name so I can distinguish her easier in my writing. Her card is in my wallet. I should look at it).

On another note, a clinician from TL’s agency called earlier today. I just checked the message… I should thank her for calling and decline, though part off me wants to wait to return the call until after meeting with T one more time. I’m inclined to stay with T because of where she works, but I’m getting more and more unsure about tackling these memories right now. I’m not sure I’m ready for the possibility of them being accurate. I wouldn’t feel so pressured about it at an agency where it’s not their main focus…

who is easier to talk to?

This whole new therapist thing has me wondering: who is easier to talk to? I know face-to-face is really difficult for me. Strangers are difficult. Family & friends are pretty much impossible to talk to. I worry a lot about judgements. I worry about people’s opinion of me, so the things I bring to therapy are really difficult to talk about with anyone. But I have figured out that speaking with professionals who specialize in certain things are easier to talk to about their specialty… like with De, I was able to tell her things because I knew she was a sexual assault counselor. I knew she would have likely heard most anything I was going to tell her from another client or from other clients in the agency via clinical meetings. I had a reasonable assumption that she would not judge me for anything I opened up about. I have a similar assumption about T, even though she has only been with the agency since De left the agency (4 months? 5?). But she’s been there, and she’s heard some stuff in her experience at the agency…

Anyway, I’ve come to the conclusion that I find it easier to speak to a specialist about the subjects they specialize in. Second to that, it’s easier to speak to a stranger, and only after those is it then easier to speak to a therapist I trust… It’s never easy to speak with family and friends about anything vulnerable. They see me more often and know more details. They can use anything and everything they know against me… and they can judge me without the professional courtesy of not telling me… At least people I see in a professional capacity would only judge me behind my back, and I will not know (hopefully… though as my med records from precious treatment show, that’s not always the case)…

So, who do you find it easier to talk to about all this crap?  Why?


I’m in a weird disconnected head-space today. I napped for 30 minutes and it felt like hours should have gone by after I woke up. It wasn’t so much that I got great sleep, but it felt like a long time had gone by. It’s only quarter to 4, and feels like 8pm… I’m still really tired.

I hate this disconnected feeling. It’s like I’m floating above myself, in a jar of fluid. I’m about as mentally responsive as if my head really was in thick liquid.

Gonna watch some tv and try to muddle through the fog.

Therapy update

Met with T for the first time yesterday. She seems nice enough. I got the sense that she may have been nervous, but I may be projecting. I certainly was nervous. I ended up stumbling over my words and getting stuck unable to speak. Suddenly everything I had written as a goal sounded stupid to me. I only read her about 2 of the 6 or so I had come up with. I couldn’t read the rest because I couldn’t bring myself to talk about the body memories in that much detail (most of them related to the body memories and flashbacks in some way)… she didn’t ask specifics about the self harm, so I didn’t give her any (it’s all in De’s notes anyway, so I’m sure she knows or can find out pretty easily).
As I walked out, I noticed the art I had done for their display last April was up on the wall where two hallways t into each other. It freaked me out. I’m not sure why. I thought it was stupid and ugly and I totally freaked out… I feel bad now, because she said she’d take it down. I didn’t mean to freak out over it. It was just suddenly really weird and vulnerable to see it there. It made me feel naked and exposed to everyone that walked past it. 😦 I’ll have to apologize to her for freaking out…

Anyway, she had asked me to journal about the week and about any flashbacks or body memories or anything. She’s banking on me being better at writing than I was at speaking today (generally, I am)… got a jump on it tonight as I was writing a “response” to today’s session. It triggered flashbacks, and I just wrote about their content. Not sure I’ll be able to read it to her next week, but maybe I’ll just hand it to her if I can’t get the words out again.

I hope she’s ready for the mess that is me. She said she only started working there a few months ago, but she’s been in the field for over 16 years. I hope she knows what she’s doing. I don’t find her as easy to talk to as I remember De being, but my memory around the first session with De is likely tainted by the trust I developed towards her as time went on. T seems nice enough though. Her office has lots of stuff to look at, which is kinda nice and kinda intimidating all at once…


It’s building. I feel like I’ve done something wrong, and I’m about to get in trouble for it. I see the new therapist tomorrow, and I’m terrified she will yell at me. I know there’s no basis for this fear, yet I can’t escape it. Maybe it’s the subject matter that will be brought up. Maybe there’s a fear of being judged for it. Maybe it has something to do with going back to a place where I was supposed to have “completed the program” so there’s failure in going back? I really don’t know, but I’m freaking out. Distraction is not working. Rationalizing through the fear and concluding that is it baseless is not helping. Actively working on my breathing is not working.
I cleaned the cat room a bit, but even that physical work didn’t discharge the anxiety.
I showered after and just couldn’t feel clean. I scrubbed my whole body three times before I could contemplate turning off the water… I still feel gross, but I know it’s in my head at this point.
I need tomorrow’s appointment to come already so the outside authority that would know if I’m in trouble can voice whether or not I am…
I’m reacting to the concept of seeing T tomorrow like I had to TL when she triggered old stuff. Maybe it wasn’t just TL. Maybe it’s more about the contents of these body memories and flashbacks…