Category Archives: history

I don’t have words to effectively communicate what this is…

Been really out of sorts lately. Can’t totally pinpoint what the exact precipitating event was, but maybe it’s just everything from the last several weeks… There have been so many triggers and stressors (L’s mom has been really sick, and recently diagnosed with congestive heart failure; I didn’t get to visit my own mom much in the two weeks she was up because I cought a cold; stuff’s just been seeping back lately anyway; one of the ladies in the trauma group I attend is really struggling, and her struggle really hits home… It’s something I’ve been through over the years; I actually, out loud, explained to my mom why I think having a service dog would be beneficial; I’ve started to look more intensely for a suitable sd candidate…

The triggered feeling had me craving a way to express itself, or feel more pointedly whatever this feeling is, so I ended up watching Unbelievable on Netflix… Watched the whole 8 or 9 episodes last night, so I didn’t sleep well yet again (between being sick for 2 weeks with this cold, and bring concerned about L’s mom, and just scheduling, I don’t think I’ve had more than 2 hours sleep in a row for about 3 weeks now)… I really related to Marie’s character; not so much the rape and police reporting, but the experiences of the flashbacks, of saying whatever just to appease the one with the power, of trying to explain things, but getting confused and flustered, so shutting down instead of communicating, of having huge walls around myself, of being inadvertantly hurt by parental figured who mean well, but can’t see past their own shit… There’s so much of her character that hits home that I don’t even have words for…

I feel like I’m just shuffling in circles and bumping into myself today. This past week has triggered old stuff, but it’s still so far away. I feel it, but I don’t quite know what it is. It’s old, but… I dunno. It’s still walled off.

I really wish I could talk to Dr C about it… Monday feels so far away.

It’s kinda what Marie’s character felt, but it’s much older; I was much younger… Or maybe not? Maybe I was a teenager when I started putting those lessons together like that? They’re kid lessons tough; older than SJ-old lessons… How old was SJ again?

I kinda want to at least reach out to L about it, but I wouldn’t know where to start, or what to say… This is all stuff I stumble over about voicing. I don’t have words for it really. There’s not really a language for it… I kinda wish I could just pull all the clips of Marie’s character from that series, and take it in to Dr C. Maybe at least I could point to the parts that really hit home, maybe… I don’t know what…

I hate feeling so lost and floaty and trapped inside the feeling. Grounding doesn’t really help right now. As soon as I turn my attention from the act of grounding, I’m floating again.

I don’t even know what I’m floating in! It’s this fog soup of the past or something

L offered to go to Dr C with me one day so we could try to talk about this. She had mentioned just now while taking the dogs out, feeling like she wished she could help, but she didn’t know how. I admitted to her that I wished I could talk to her, only I don’t know how. I don’t know what to say, or how to explain this. I don’t know how to put words to whatever this really old thing is… I don’t think I’d know how with Dr C either… I dunno… I… I dunno. I wish I had words or expressions. I wish I could point to a feeling, or have her feel a bit of what this is just to be able to express it, but… That kind of communication doesn’t exist. Even if I had her watch Unbelievable, and I pointed to the moments I relate to, she wouldn’t know how it relates… That’s the trouble with feelings that have no words, or thoughts that only have feelings… If I can’t grasp on to it, if I can’t find a way to describe it or talk about it, then how the hell can I communicate it? I could art journal about it, but would she understand it the way I do? Even I don’t think I understand it the same way twice, so how the hell do you effectively communicate that?

I want to get lost in music and cuddle Beary… I wish I could cuddle the dogs, but they’re not huge fans of that… I miss having cuddly dogs… I really want a huge, cuddly dog to hide with right now… It feels safe… Floppy was safe like that when I was a kid. I really miss her…


I feel like a fraud (derealization, depersonalization)

… i feel like a fraud. It’s not a new feeling. Been struggling with it for so, so long. The depression in high school felt fake because I couldn’t think of a legitimate reason for it (read: blocked out the ickier stuff, and felt the domestic violence at home wasn’t reason enough). Getting into an out-of-state university felt like a pity move on their part; they must have needed to fill a certain quota of out-of-state students, so they let me in. Passing any of my classes at all was both a miracle & a fluke. It was both easy and incredibly difficult. Mental health was nose-diving hard, but for some reason they didn’t kick me out; another pity move on their part. I frequently dissociated weeks or months at a time (landing in the emergency room, or not making it to classes due to major depression), but some part of me showed up and did enough work to get a degree.

After graduation, I’m not totally sure how I landed the jobs I landed, or kept the ones I did. The only one I’m not surprised at is the kennel job. I busted my ass at that, and the animals helped balance me. I don’t know how I convinced my supervisors that I was good at what I was doing, but they seemed to think I was. I even got promoted, and hired away for better jobs with better pay… Still totally baffled by that. It’s such a stark contrast to what my life is currently like… I’m half waiting for L to figure out I’m worthless, and finally run in the other direction.

I can’t hold down a job because stress and physical stuff inevitably takes me down… But almost all my testing comes back “normal”, & I don’t believe my own stories of some of the things I remember. There’s again zero connection to any concept of abuse (until my mind & body reacts to something vaguely reminiscent of something from the past… Then Dr C reminds me that’s how trauma works. But… Then why don’t any of my medical tests confirm this? Even the neuropsych testing pointed to me being prone to exaggeration of the negative due to high levels of depression…).

There’s no conscious connection to any of the stuff I remembered while living in my old house again. It seems fake; like a story line from a book I read long ago. The story line is present in my memory, but the emotional connection isn’t. It can’t be a real memory of real events if there’s no connection to it, right?

Even things that happened in the past decade+, and I have documentation of happening, don’t really feel real. My emotional connection to memories doesn’t seem to last. I have a concept of the relationship with my ex, and there’s physical evidence of it, but it still feels just like a plot from a story I read once. Everything I remember from the past feels like a well-rehersed script. It’s frustrating. It leaves little room for feeling like a real human being (though, as I mentioned in group today, there’s stuff lower than pond scum; I’m that… So, technically, not human).

There’s also a whole lot of shame and embarrassment and… Feeling like I have no right to feel sad around the death of L’s dad 2 years ago today. Part of it stems from G being such an ass around who “truly mattered” (read: #1=him, #1.2 & 1.3 = my brother & I, and everyone else was miles below). It feels like I would fall into the “miles below” category for L’s family, so I have no right to feel anything at all around his death (when in reality, I know L thinks I should feel something. Wants me to admit to feeling something around it). It’s just so difficult to get past that early training sometimes…

I feel so undeserving of taking up space & resources.

Part of me feels strongly that I would benefit from having a service dog trained to mitigate both the mental health stuff, and the physical. When I’m put on the spot and asked to explain my reasoning though, I falter. There are other people out there who really need a service dog to get through their lives. It would just make mine more comfortable. That’s not a good enough reason. I don’t deserve the special considerations, or special accommodations. I’ve gotten through life this far, I should be able to get through the rest of it without asking for special treatment. I don’t deserve it. There are others out there way more deserving than me. Who do I think I am asking for something so huge?! It wasn’t freely offered by someone without prompting, and I’m being entitled for asking. How dare I?!

Old tapes are often impossible to erase…


dumb question…

can you have flashbacks of non- trauma memories?

Or, at least I don’t think that bit was traumatic…

It happened at mil’s house tonight, both the kids were doing their homework. Our great niece kept doing anything but reading, and MeeMa kept telling her to “read [her] book”. For a few seconds, I was a kid, hearing that same phrase while doing homework… it was my aunt saying it? Or maybe my mom? I’m not really sure, but it was an adult female in the family and it wasn’t bitch… Or maybe it was?

It was so strong in the moment that it happened, but it’s mostly faded now.

I did recall feeling uncomfortable, like i was waiting for more fighting, but… it was such a weird moment… and it wasn’t a flashback directly to a domestic violence moment (the only kinds that come with visuals and sound for me. The sa memories are 90% physical with only the vaguest sense of what the situation actually was)…

I dunno… it felt so real though, and it’s so dissolved now…


jumbled, confusing, pre-verbal stuff

Some days, the sensations in my body make me want to rip my insides up so I could stop feeling them.

We talked a bit about memories and sensations and interpreting pre-verbal stuff. She said that sometimes the pre-verbal is all a jumbled mess, and sometimes it’s interpreted by what we can later connect to it, even if its not accurate to the moment.

I told her sometimes it feels like I’m one of those plastic dolls whose legs pop off if you twist them back enough… I know it can’t possibly be an accurate memory because I have both my legs still. She pointed out that it may have simply felt as if my legs would rip off, but I had no other reference for it at the time, so my brain made the connection to those toys, and kept it because it’s the “best explanation”…

We also talked about how there’s still this internal pressure/compulsion to talk about some of the flashbacks sometimes, but it tends to get caught up when I walk in to her building. I no longer have words for it, and the connection to it leaves, so I struggle to bring it up… We talked around that for a bit, and got a tiny bit in one direction, but then time was up.

Some days I wish I could bring her home with me in my pocket so I could pull her out and talk when the strong drive was present… it only still feels ok to talk when it’s almost impossible to do so. I guess there’s a measure of safety in the impossibility of it.


Endings suck…

…Even stupid, meaningless ones that shouldn’t suck as much as they do.

Like tv shows that let you escape yourself.

And fictional characters dying.

Because they tug at the old hurt of all the losses that came before, and were actually meaningful…

It compounds when more than one loss is piled on at the same time. Then suddenly everything else comes flooding back, and it sucks…

The stupid, meaningless losses take on all the hurt and emptiness the previous ones left you with…

At least Lucifer wrapped up the series well, almost as if they were planning on ending it this season. They could take it further, but this is a good stopping point. They gave is the closures we needed to be able to walk away from the show satisfied.

Scorpion, not so neatly wrapped…

Totally left without closure; Chris passing away Monday. She had gotten through so many health issues over the years, ones that were true miracles she recovered as well as she did… I guess her body finally gave out. I’m not even sure if it was the cardiac issues, the kidney issues, the cancer, or something else that finally took her. Before this week, she had beaten cancer, recovered from kidney failure, and was recovering from bypass surgery… she and L were friends for a quarter century (give or take a year or two). I had only met her after I stated dating L, but she was an amazing person. She is greatly missed.

… Then the older stuff picks up; L’s dad, Chow, ButtButt, K & T, Floppers, Twigs, Tigger, Dizzy, Sugar Cane, Almond Joy… De, Chrispy, LKB… All the endings that were sudden, painful, and unresolved.

It all gets rolled into a giant ball that feels choking and overwhelming.

This time of year seems to hold a disproportionate amount of those losses…

And then there’s July 7th (the anniversary of K’s death, and almost 14 years later, my first suicide attempt… there were only ever 2 thought-out attempts where it was a conscious choice. Anything else resembling one was an impulsive, desperate attempt to find some peace, but not necessarily an attempt at ending my life… I blame it on the meds. I’ve never done anything like that when I wasn’t spiraling out of control on psych meds. Even when I was ridiculously depressed, I never gave in to the impulse when not on psychotropics. They work wonders for some people, but I am not one of them)…

Back to the original point of this post: grief sucks. Losses suck. Especially when the biggest, earliest ones were never resolved…


family

I think that word has very different meanings for me.

We were always taught separation. My dad’s blood family was all that mattered to him, so that’s all he acknowledged. Everyone else was just “shit”. He didn’t promote contact with anyone outside his immediate family of origin (foo). We were isolated from almost everyone else, and even within his own foo, bitch was top, then him, then grandma, then K. Mom factored very little. K’s husband, T factored very little. Moms family was just unheard of (he made sure of that). We talked a bit about them and to them, but overall, they were essentially non-existent (in his eyes anyway).

I’ve only recently (like maybe the last decade or so) gotten in somewhat more regular contact with one of my cousins. We chat online a bit, but I think I’ve only seen her maybe 6 times my entire life (and we lived relatively close, like maybe a 4 hour drive, for several years). I’ve seen her parents a few more times, but that was only after she & her siblings had grown up and moved out… even then, I think I can count less than a dozen times.

Tonight, my mom informed me that her brother (my cousins’ father, my uncle) had gone to the hospital for a head injury. Apparently, this happened sometime last week, and no one thought to tell us (at least my brother and I. Mom may have known, but she’s not big on communicating stuff like that about/with anyone).

When I found out, it hit me just how disconnected I am from my extended family; I have no real emotions around him being in seriously ill health… I’m not even all that connected to any emotions my mom may have around it (though she’s never been big on emotions either. None of my family has).

I feel like it’s wrong somehow, like society is generally connected with their families unless there’s been some big rupture. The only rupture was my father. I should be connected with my aunt & uncle & cousins, but I’m not… and I think I’m a bit resentful about it.

I see L with her family (it’s a HUGE family), and I feel like we got the short end of the stick.

My dad made enormous effort to keep us isolated from everyone.

It sucks.

So now I have no real connection to family. I get the concept that we have an extended family, but… it’s just not in my radar for the most part. And I’m mad.

His isolation enabled the abuses that happened night after night. His anger resulted in a fear of reaching out, or attempting to connect with anyone (after all, any connection would be promptly severed once found out). We weren’t allowed to care for anyone outside the little dysfunctional circle that happened to include his foo…

The dissociation doesn’t help any. I feel like I’m just floating in a world where I don’t belong (or even truly exist). People have no clue about so much of my life. Everyone’s merely an acquaintance. Aside of L (and as of today, our friend DO), no one knows I have a dissociative disorder. At most, they’ve been told I have ptsd, but no one knows what it’s from; they assume I served in the military…

Most everyone in my life sees this shell, this act. They might notice I hit some bumps along the way, but mostly, I’m either shy and awkward (99% of the time), or chatty and awkward. I’m the crazy animal lady with the pet snakes, who also does art here and there…

I feel like I don’t actually exist. I must just be a ghost floating around.

I never expect people to remember me from one meeting to the next, or care about anything about me. I’m the awkward tag-along friend you invite because you feel sorry for them. I’m the wife you tolerate because we come as a package deal. I’m really not sure why L married me. I’m just the awkward one tagging along behind her to family functions. I don’t deserve to be there, nor am I really wanted there, but I’m crashing the party…

I shouldn’t be here still. I have no purpose or usefulness… but here I am, tagging along in this weird body that feels like a poorly-fitting borrowed dress. If I think hard enough about it, I can kinda find some connection to the C they think they’re supposed to get, but… I dunno. It just feels like a suit, like pretend. That girl who graduated college? Not me. The one who had a career? Not me. The one with friends and family? Not me.

I’m just that shadow in the corner… nothing to notice or want to be around; no substance, no presence, no worth…


Long-term effects of growing up around violence

…Well, one long term effect. For me.

I worry about and see anger in everyone. I want to appease it, and apologize for it, even if it has nothing to do with me.

Perceived anger frightens me.

Someone was trying to get in the front door of our complex, but it’s locked. They walked back around. I’m assuming they grabbed a key, then tried again. They looked frustrated when it didn’t work.

I started to become scared. I wanted to both hide, and walk over to see if I could help in any way.

It had nothing to do with me, but I reacted as if I needed to fix it because they were mad at me specifically (I’m not even sure the woman knows anyone is home in my apartment)…

My heart is still racing. I’m still ambivalent. It happened 20 minutes ago.

I’m doing nothing wrong. The woman isn’t here for anything related to me, yet I’m scared she will come in and yell at me…

G would have done that. He was (and is) unpredictable and volatile.

This woman is not G.

I will keep repeating that to myself until my inner kid believes it (or stops the panic)


Inconsistencies

It’s funny how my thoughts and opinions can be so different from one moment to the next.

I like raisin bran. I hate raisins. I know for sure I’m worthless. I fight for the things that matter to me because I matter. I’m seeking out adrenaline. I want nothing more than the safety of my corner of the couch…

It drives L nuts that she thinks she finally has me figured out, only to realize what she thought was accurate, is opposite to what I’m expressing in the moment.

They’re not all hugely drastic inconsistencies, but they are there… and they are enough to throw people off when they notice them.

Sometimes I wonder if my dissociation isn’t more than just spacing out. I know Dr C and I have had this conversation a few times, but right now I can’t remember what she said about it…

Part of me knows everything’s just an elaborate story because I’m just a bored teenager. I have a really active imagination. I can get lost in the books I read. I can picture what they talk about. I can feel the atmosphere, hear the sounds. It’s like watching a movie, but in my head… and the smells… they’re so real. Only I know I’m reading, so… I have a very vivid imagination.

When I was younger, I dreamt a huge white stallion visited me at night. He came back because of the horse shoe I found while playing in the backyard. He promised to keep me safe… it was such a realistic dream, but a dream none the less.

When we moved from Canada to Florida, I stopped talking as much. Before, in school, I would always get in trouble for chatting with my friends. Then we moved, and it all seemed pointless. What good were friends if you’d lose them anyway? And even if I did have friends, it’s not like I could talk about stuff. “You don’t talk about family business to outsiders”.

So I didn’t talk much. I listened. I became the good girl who didn’t talk much, and almost never got in trouble (there were two times, but i only really got in trouble the first time. I forged my dad’s signature on a note he was supposed to sign acknowledging that I missed a homework assignment. The teacher got really mad. She didn’t care that I begged her not to tell my dad; that my mom would sign the note, just don’t tell dad… she told him anyway. She thought I was being a brat about it, and wanted me to learn my lesson… joke was on her. Dad taught me how to properly forge his signature so next time I wouldn’t get in trouble. I cried that whole day, I was so scared. I didn’t talk the rest of the day in school… I learned my lesson, but I don’t think it was the one she meant me to learn. I thought he was going to kill mom he was so angry at her (because I embarrassed him & made him look like a bad parent). I can hear them fighting. I can hear her screaming to stop, to get off of her. But they weren’t fighting, they were just having “a discussion”…

It’s all a lie. I blow things out of proportion. That’s not what really happened. Nothing happened.

I used to read so many books that they refused to buy them for me anymore. I would get so lost, time meant nothing. Hunger meant nothing. Bodily sensations meant nothing.

I would devour a book a day, sometimes more than one.

He would tell stories to show how smart and learned he was. He spouted theories from physics and math and psychology and philosophy. He wanted to make sure we knew them, so we could make sure others knew we were better than them. No one was as smart as us, or as special, but he was specialest of us all, and smartest… only blood family mattered. The people who married in, or weren’t in his immediate family meant nothing; they were interlopers. They weren’t one of us… but no one was as worthy as he was. He deserved everything, and people should be honored that he paid them any attention at all, especially the interlopers… no one was as special and wonderful as he. Everyone outside the family was a stupid imbecile who didn’t know greatness if it punched them in the face. Everyone should do exactly as he said, because only he knew what was right and wrong, good and bad… and never talk about what goes on at home with anyone; can’t tarnish the family’s good name. Can’t bring him shame or embarrassment, or you get in trouble… mom got in a lot of trouble all the time. Anything that went wrong was her fault, and she could never do anything right. “How dare you give away my money?? MY money, that I slaved in a stupid foreign country alone for months for?? HOW DARE YOU?!”… “it was to your own kids”… “I DON’T CARE! IT’S MY MONEY. ALL OF IT!”…

I don’t want to remember the rest…


On using psych meds

… that Sarah Silverman tweet got me thinking…

There’s so much info and support out there for people taking meds, but nothing for people who react badly to meds.

I’m not sure I ever really talked in detail about my struggles with psych meds.

I tried them briefly in college, but came off of them after a short time (can’t remember why, or how long I was actually on them). Then, 4-6 years later, I was convinced to try them again. It was against my better judgement, but my therapist at the time was adamant that I needed them. I wanted to trust that she had a less biased view of things than I did, and that she was more knowledgeable about it all than I was. I battled her about it for several sessions before I caved and agreed to try them once again.

I had trouble finding a psychiatrist I felt comfortable working with. I must have cycled through 5 or 6 before I found one who I felt listened & cared (read: didn’t try to push the same meds I reported as having not worked when I tried them; wasn’t cold or condescending; sat with me for more than 3 minutes before handing me a prescription). Sadly, she moved out of state after about 3 months, and my search began again.

I really don’t remember much of the details at this moment, but I do know at one point I was taking roughly 15 different meds up to 4 times a day. It started with one med, then another med to combat side effects, and another to augment the first, then another to help with side effects from the one helping with the original side effects, and so on.

The meds didn’t work for me. I kept getting more depressed, more anxious, and more suicidal. I cycled in and out of hospitals. Each time, they added meds, or switched them out, or increased doses, or all of the above. None seemed to help.

They started blaming me for complaining about the side effects. I was called willful and resistant to treatment. I was told I was being manipulative; that I didn’t actually want to be helped; that I was enjoying the depression; that I was not trying hard enough to get better. I was told I would never be able to live without medication; that I needed to accept it as a part of life… at one point, doctors told me that I would never be able to survive on my own because of my level of self-sabotage.

I was seriouslly depressed, constantly anxious, extremely impulsive, and actively suicidal 90% of the time, not to mention my mounting ptsd symptoms (an enormous difference from my demeanor when not on meds, but few people had seen me prior to starting them by this point. Even I was mostly convinced that I would certainly die without meds (which was honestly part of what prompted me wanting to stop them. At least if I managed to kill myself, the pain would end)).

During one of my last dozen hospitalizations, it was strongly suggested that I not be released back to my home, but rather permanently be sent to a residential facility, as I was an inherent danger to myself. The doctors were shocked that I had survived this long. Even less believable to them was that I had a successful life and career prior to my most recent hospitalizations. I had held down a full-time supervisory position, as well as 3 other part-time jobs up until that final year on meds. I would be hospitalized one week, then return to work as soon as I was released. I attended intensive therapy programs during first shift hours, and worked in the afternoons. I taught trauma informed care workshops. I attended professional trainings. I was very high functioning professionally even as I was crashing personally…

I was lucky enough to have family and friends on my side backing my insistence to receive more intensive treatment (mind you, this was 4 years after I started meds, and roughly 40 hospitalizations in by that time). I knew I was metaphorically drowning. I knew the treatment I was getting wasn’t sufficient (most psych units, even in psych hospitals, don’t offer therapy so much as physical containment), but I did not totally know what might actually help. Dr C was a great resource. She helped me figure out that a specialized trauma program would likely be beneficial. She’d also advocated strongly with the doctors at the local hospital to send me to a more intensive program. Between her, my family, and my own insistence, I was finally admitted to a trauma clinic, The Center at PIW.

There, I finally found some meaningful & intensive help. Despite reading my recent history, the psychiatrist agreed to help me come off all the meds. By the time I left there 2 weeks later, I had tapered off most of the meds. Those last ones I was able to come off of with the help of the psychiatrist at the day program I attended following my discharge from The Center.

The first day back to the IOP, the staff commented that I was doing the best they had seen since I first attended there 4 years ago. They said I seemed clear-headed, articulate, calmer… they asked what changed. When I mentioned I was tapering off the last 2 meds, they seemed incredulous. After all, how could the person who was so debilitated for so long be better not taking the thing they believed was her biggest hope at normalcy? Initially, the psychiatrist was ready to refuse treatment because I was refusing to take medication again, but upon seeing how differently I presented, I was allowed to stay in the program. I was, however, requested not to mention that I was no longer taking any regular psych meds. They claimed it was to avoid compliance problems with other patients in the program. I guess I was seen as an oddity.

After my shortest time “completing” the program (3 weeks or so), I was deemed stable enough to graduate. I returned to only doing individual therapy & the trauma group with Dr C.

Since that time (2011), I’ve only tried psych meds 3 times. Each time I noticed the impulsive drive to kill myself return in less than a week’s time. They faded just as quickly once I stopped taking the pills. The depression still hits hard, but suicide is no longer my first and only thought on how to deal with it. I’m also better able to avoid cutting (actually, I rarely think about using it as a coping tool these days).

Doctors still react with shock and disbelief when I deny being on psych meds despite my diagnoses. I’m pretty sure most believe I’m lying when I tell them I only take something for asthma and stomach issues. Even the neurologist did a side-eye when I mentioned the only 2 meds I take aside of the pot.

In a society where pharmaceuticals run the medical industry, and they are the be-all & end-all of mental health treatment, not taking meds is seen as going against medical advice. Hell, we take away people’s basic human rights when they say meds don’t work so they’d rather not take any. They are deemed an immenant danger to themselves, and not competent enough to make rational decisions… all because something we are indoctrinated into thinking is the only way to treat mental health issues harms some people more than it will ever help them.

I can’t tell you how much I loathe the phrases “you just need to find the right meds or combinations),” and “the benefits outweigh the side effects.” Sometimes there is no right combination, and the benefits definitely do not outweigh the side effects (because for some, there are no benefits). I wish medicine understood this…

Maybe we need to start another movement; that sometimes meds do more harm than good, and there’s nothing wrong with choosing not to take them. There are several notations in my records that insist I’ll die within 6 months max if I were allowed to stop all psych meds, yet here I am, 7 years later, more stable than I ever was on the meds. Oh, and check it out, I’m still alive! Who knew that was possible?! ūü§Ē

It’s time we stop forcing everyone with mental health challenges into a medication routine. They can definitely be helpful for some, but we also need to acknowledge that they can be detrimental to others.


Me at 20 (assignment for a self Рdiscovery workshop) 

The assignment was to find a metaphorical image of ourselves at a selected age. I had originally picked the number 27 because she first had us just pick a number, without telling us what the number was for.

At 27, I was internally severely depressed, suicidal, and a general mess, but presented as very together to the outside world. I worked almost 80 hours a week. I was a manager at a group home. I had my external shit together… I would land in the hospital for a week, get discharged, and head back to work the day of discharge, or the following day. I worked full-time while attending intensive outpatient treatment around my work schedule… I can’t count anymore how many times I was asked how I could manage that so seemingly easily…

The perfect picture for that would be an ad for the exorcism movie (a b&w photo with a girl sitting in a room alone, her head facing the wrong direction, and the words “there’s a fate worse than death”… I kinda regret not bringing it now…

So yeah, that felt like a bit heavy, and a bit much to bring to this workshop.

The second age I picked was 20 simply because L picked that one. The image for it is an ad for The Good Place…

It’s perfect for me at 20. There were a few bumps, but I was generally unaware. My internal systems did a good job of convincing me everything was fine. I was oblivious except for a few things not going great (hugely depressed, but no real clue why. Trying to work on it in therapy and constantly getting the question “was there anything else?” Because the interventions that should have worked just didn’t…). So yeah, that works well for 20.


It feels weird; like part of me is still living back in the space that had me hospitalized so often. I get these little glimpses of remembering being in the hospital, and it feels so real in that flash of a moment. The other times, it feels like I’m living in both times at once, only I’m separated from the past by this frosted window. I know the gist of what’s happening, and I can kinda feel it, but it’s distant and away at the same time. It’s almost like knowing and faintly hearing someone watch a movie in the next room; I can hear it, I know the movie enough to mostly know what’s happening moment to moment, but it’s still something I’m not directly experiencing in the moment. The flashes of memory are like walking through the room for a moment and catching parts of it as I pass the tv. I’m not totally paying attention, but I notice it…

Yeah… kinda like that…

I’ve been remembering the various hospitalizations since Wednesday when Dr C brought up the drawing I left with her a few weeks ago… it’s not all restricted to the content of the drawing; its just all of the experiences mashed together. It’s not linear. It doesn’t really make linear sense, but it’s all memories of those times…

L had an unusually late chemo today, and there were a few times I really had to work to ground myself. I kept panicking that I was there because I was locked up, not because I was supporting L through chemo… being the only ones in the room, and it having gotten dark intensified the fears.

Psych hospitalizations are really dehumanizing. It didn’t matter that you likely already feel like crap; the process and experience make it all that much worse…

I dunno…

I hate when all of this comes up when I can’t actually process it for several days. I don’t know what to do with it. It pulls me in, even when I don’t want it to. I know I’ve been distant and spacey a lot today. I’ve been having a lot of trouble seperating from the memories. My brain is living in both times at once, and it’s distracting (even if I feel like I’m mostly in the present, it’s difficult to concentrate when the past is so “there” but indecipherable…).


Oh. I guess that makes more sense…

Dr C managed to piece together for me that today’s flashbacks were probably related to a duckboy anniversary i never really paid attention to: he stalked me at my college freshman year right around thanksgiving… i knew it was an event in our relationship, but i never really thought that it would cause ripples so far forward.  she hypothesized that, since it was finally the last interaction with him, it stuck with me. 

I guess it makes sense then that today’s flashback involved him… 


Flashbacks (**trigger**) 

I was laying in bed, trying to avoid waking up, when a memory of duckboy hit me out of nowhere. 

**trigger** I could feel his hand holding my wrists above my head. I could feel his crushing weight on top of my body. I could feel his fumbling hand. I could feel his slimey, sloppy kiss, his grinding body… and everything else he did that time. **trigger**

It was all condensed into about a minute or less, but my body is still tingling. There are still echos of the memory…

He used to insist it wasn’t sexual because we had our clothes on. I only resisted so many times before giving in. It was always easier to get it over with than to try to squirm away from under his almost 300lb frame…

For the longest time (we’re talking almost 20 years), I was adamant on only calling it “very insistent”. Whomever was hearing it tried to rephrase it as assault, and I would correct them. I refused to put that label on what he did (partially for his sake, partially for mine)… I had flashbacks at the time, but I wouldn’t remember them after they passed (or even understand that I had one). It wasn’t until my long bout of hospitalizations, where medical records contained notes of me crying and trying to explain the memories, that I finally realized something more than just the memories of my parents fighting was bothering me… Dr C was the first person who heard me admit that what duckboy did might have been rape. I was still terrified to tell her any details, but at the same time, I started desperately trying to write down what I remembered in the flashbacks while they were happening. I knew if I didn’t write in the moment, I’d forget it again as soon as it faded. 

The first time I wrote it out, I was journaling on my phone. It was the early days of smartphones though, before apps saved what you were doing should you be interrupted. A call buzzed in and erased everything I had tried to write down… I took that as a sign that no one needed to know the details. I also switched to trying to capture it on paper. I was anxious someone would find it, read it, and know the things I had done, but i really wanted to be able to read whatever it was I kept remembering and forgetting… It was maybe a year later before I tried to bring up the content of my flashbacks again in treatment. 

—————————-

I was hoping writing about the flashback this morning would help it fade faster (it sometimes works that way), but I’m still feeling echos of memories. I guess my body wants to make me listen. Stuff had been stirring all week, but none of it had been this explicit; there were no real defined cognitive memories, just body sensations. Now, even the echos have snippets of whole memories attached to them… I guess its good group was cancelled and I was able to get individual instead. I don’t want to have to keep sitting with this all weekend. 


They feel far away

It doesn’t feel real anymore, those “memories” that felt so real when I lived down south. The further I get away from having lived there, the less convinced I am that they were real…

Dr C says that it’s “normal” for trauma memories to be encapsulated & only accessible during certain conditions… I believe her because I trust her expertise, but at the same time, I doubt the validity of my own experience. Yes, if they are true, they explain a lot of seemingly random and unexplained things (like my strong negative reaction to male genitalia, my intense dislike of being touched unexpectedly, the weird body sensations that seemingly never leave, the huge gaps in my memory…). But…none of those memories feel real anymore. As out-of-touch with my earlier adult life as I felt while living at home again, that’s how out-of-touch I feel with what came up living “at home”. The only difference is that I had proof of my early adult life (a resume I could look back on, friends, my wife, journals to re-read, etc). I don’t have that for my life growing up. The only journals I still have are ones that talk about friendships and kid things. There’s nothing in the book I found that would corroborate the story in my head. There’s no person that could or would validate it. Bitch took my journals from middle and high school when she stayed in my room after I had moved to my aunt & uncle’s house down the street for my senior year in high school (they were already dead and the house had been sitting empty for a few years. Some vandalism happened. I jumped at the chance to get away from my parents’ constant battles and offered to “live” there). It started as only sleeping at their house, but eventually I spent more and more time there. At the point I left for college, I had been living at the house full time for several months. My mom moved in there shortly after I left for school; she needed an escape from my dad also… he was really abusive to her. I think she used the excuse that I had left my animals at the house and they needed tending, combined with the house needing the “security” of being occupied. My brother stayed with him in their house, but he had always been safer with G. There were a lot of double-standards flying around when I was little, from both sides (though it took me a lot longer to see some than others). My brother got away with a lot by my dad. He was held to much different standards by my mom & K. The same was true on the flip side; I got away a lot lighter with mom & K than I did with G… I realize now that so much of what I thought was normal growing up was actually really abusive. I had thought my brother escaped much of it, but in reality, he just caught it on another front. 

I’m connecting with some of those memories that came up while living down south simply by having talked more about growing up, but they still feel just barely out of reach. It feels like something I can just barely brush my finger tips against if I reach out really far. They don’t feel totally fake when I think about the specifics of growing up there, but they still don’t feel real either. Part of it is that I don’t want to delve into describing them too much here. What if they really are simply a sick, twisted story I tell myself. If I wrote about them, they would potentially be damaging to those others involved. Unlike the domestic violence incidents, I have no corroboration to them and they are not “public knowledge” within my circle… it feels irresponsible to write too much about them right now. Another part is simply that they are very disturbing to me. I’m afraid of thinking about them and accidentally flooding myself with trauma memories I can’t contain. They do enough of that unbidden, there’s no use inviting it outside of the safety of Dr C’s presence… 

They’ve faded again for the most part. It’s back to the faint tingles in my body, the echos of touches… these I can handle at this level for the time being. There’s no drive to cut the memories out of my body. They don’t trigger a desperation to be rid of them at the moment. They had in the past; it’s how I ultimately ended up at The Center in DC 5 years ago this past week. They had tripped me over into desperately doing anything to change the sensation in my body. I didn’t understand them at the time, I just knew when they got bad, I needed to cut the feel of duckboy out of my body… and in my dissociated state, I admitted to the doctors that there were other memories I was trying to cut out, but the only ones I consciously remembered then were the duckboy ones (it was a combination of disturbing and validating to go back and read that the concept of other sexual abuse had been brought up years before I “remembered” it down South. I have no memory of telling the doctors at the er, but apparently I did during more than one visit. And I didn’t read those files till after the memories surfaced with De; after I had switched to TL)… if I think too much about them, or let my brain wander towards those memories, they intensify and threaten to flood again. I can’t afford that right now…

Now I’m afraid to write any more and also afraid to put this down to try to sleep. They feel closer again, threatening again… I feel like I have to keep rambling to “hold the door” against them, but not rambling in a direction that helps them push forward. Maybe if I put this away and try some music I’ll be able to sleep for the hour or so before I have to wake up. I could ease some of the tension and just cut, but that would bring about a whole host of external consequences I really dislike. Better to sit with those urges instead of giving in. I’d break my “clean” steak also, and that would be frustrating to realize in the morning… yeah, better to try to listen to music and sleep a bit more.


Damaging things adults say to kids (link) 

Damaging things adults say to kids… http://erinjanus.com/6-psychologically-damaging-things-adults-say-to-children-all-the-time/

To this day, I still have trouble crying, let alone doing it in front of anyone (and how this was challenged yesterday as I grieved the death of a favorite pet both as she was being put down, and a few hours after)… 

Another one that sticks with me too this day, and prevents me from explaining myself or saying much at all most of the time was “don’t talk back” (similarly final as the “because I said so” in the article). There was no defending yourself, clearing up misunderstandings, or speaking at all while being reprimanded. You took the wrath and punishment regardless of fairness, and you simply did what you were told…


Surprise! Another trigger…

There was a scene in the Empire pilot where one of the sons was remembering the first time he dressed in his mom’s heels in front of his dad. The dad got really mad and grabbed the kid. He stormed out of the room with the kid under his arm. The mom yelled after him, scared and angry…

Something about that scene hit home, but I’m not totally sure how or why. It hit really hard. It winded me and made me cry. It felt overwhelming and heavy. It still feels overwhelming and heavy… I can’t tell if I related more to running after him screaming, or watching him storm off with the kid, or being the kid under his arm… or maybe all of it? But it dug at something deep.

Part of me wants to reach out to Dr C, but I can’t justify bothering her on her weekend. I’ll just try to cover it Monday (along with everything else I want to cover – how to deal with her month away, more of what was in that journal entry from 2 weeks ago, the anniversary, the growing depression…)

I want my heart to creep back into my chest; it’s still on the floor…


train of thought crashes into a memory?

Was on the way home from a friend’s house. In the lane next to me there was a dog barking out the car window. I mentally noted how happy I was that this set of dogs doesn’t do anything like that… I thought how annoying it would be to have to drive with a dog that needed to pace back and forth between windows and bark at everything. I remembered an old dog who did not ride well in the car. She would do ok on short trips, and if the windows were open, but the long drive I took was a tough one. I remember her sounding like a squeaky door the whole way. I remembered who was with me on the drive. I remembered how annoyed he was with her, and some of the mean things he said… and then I started feeling things in my body. I had a brief flash of something specific, but it had to have been a mixed-up memory. The angle of the image I got was off… actually, it’s a near-impossible angle to get (at once laying down and sitting up)…

Can’t shake the creepy feeling since. Can’t shake the body memories.

It’s one of those times where it hit at a moderate level and has remained that way since. It’s bearable for the time being, but I hope it fades soon.


Write the saddest story you can in 4 words…

I saw this on fb…

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“I loved you once…”

it can have so many endings:

…but then I remembered.

…and you betrayed me.

…then you used me.

…and I saw your true colors.

…you broke my heart.

…I still love you (and I don’t know why)…


Insights

In talking to TM today, something hit me. We were discussing my utter surprise any time someone actually likes me or wants to see me again. She asked if I’d heard it often growing up. I realized that the only person who ever told me I was worthless was bitch. Everyone else kept telling me how wonderful I was (but don’t let it go to my head). G always felt fake and over the top. Then I realized that hearing how good I was, and how smart I was is coupled with memories of some pretty shitty stuff. It felt like such a revelation when I was able to voice to her that I didn’t want to believe I was good because that would mean crappy stuff was going to happen, yet I don’t want confirmation that I’m as horrible as I believe I am…

Part of my shock when people like me comes from the incongruence of knowing those people won’t deliberately hurt me. How can I be good if that’s not coupled with abuse? That doesn’t compute in my brain, at least not in the emotional one. She was trying to ask if being aware of it made a difference. Sadly, the negative voice in my head is so loud and overpowering, I have trouble believing my rational side.

When I say people should hate me, I’m not looking to hear the opposite from them, I’m just mired in an old emotional/cognitive pattern. I’ve been aware for a while that I have a confusion around associating violation with “genuine care”, but I hadn’t put together that my emotional brain associates being liked and worthy and good with abuse…

Too bad this is coming at the end of working with TM… at least I heard back from Dr C this morning, and she is willing to work with me when I return. It’ll be much easier working with her. And I’m SO glad I don’t have to “start fresh” yet again. (Telling TM about returning to working with Dr C was what prompted the admission that I’m constantly surprised when someone wants to associate with me again).

Oh, and now TM and I are back to the original end date… we talked about it, I avoided making the decision. I attempted to distract her, then we returned to it at the end of the session. I told her that I was unsure, but that I needed to feel in control of the ending. In a moment of weakness, I admitted that I would really like to keep seeing her through the next 2 weeks if it was still an offer. I started to give voice to that negative stream of thought that said she was probably really just wanting me gone, then I stopped myself and let her tell me what she thought or felt about it. She said the offer still stood, but that it was also going to be accompanied by the plan to call her or the crisis line if I started to get overwhelmed. Check. I can promise that. I work really hard to keep my promises, especially to people I care about. Now I just have to keep from getting overwhelmed because I really don’t want to bug her between sessions, and I certainly don’t want to have to call their crisis line.

Now I’m off to the beach for some centering time. And I’m feeling good after talking to TM today, so hopefully no further planning will happen while there (like I said, don’t want to bug TM between sessions). I’m sure I’ll post pics later. It’s funny how I used to hate the beach, now I want to be there all the time.


Wow, this turned long. and tangential. Sorry.

They say insight helps move you forward. But what if you have all this insight, and don’t know what to do with it? It doesn’t magically change things. It still takes a lot of work, and struggle, and… I’m tired of having insight and not knowing what to do with it.

I called TM and left a message because I realized that my pattern was to crash if I didn’t reach out. So I told her I needed to reach out, and I was hoping just leaving the message would help. It did in the moment, but now I want to crumble again… knowing the reason for the “crisis” isn’t helping to avoid it right now. And having alternate coping skills is not making much of a difference. I guess it’s the small victories: I made it out of the house for a bit. I put off crashing… I guess that’s a positive. And I called TM in hopes of heading off a bigger, harder crash (so far it’s working). Only what happens next week when she suggests an iop again? And what happens when she refers me out even though we have maybe a month left? ūüė¶

I hate that trust comes so hard. I hate that I need to find a paid someone to trust and reach out to. I hate that it always ends so soon. I’ve seen more therapists than I have been in years of therapy. There have only been 3 I was able to see for more than 10 months (and 3 out of the last 4 I only saw for about 4 months each)… JF was an intern when I started seeing her, but she got hired on to keep working at the clinic, so I saw her for 2.5 years (until I graduated). LKB was the first private-practice therapist I saw. She ditched me after 2 years because I was too acute… then Dr C I saw for 2.5 years until I moved. Everyone else was an intern, except De & TM, who were/are limited by agency policy.

There was JJ, DJ (saw her one year during two of the school breaks, so maybe 10 times total), B, CS, JF, TB, JG, LKB, SC (dbt), Dr C, BGR (iop), L (dbt), Dr GD (the center), D, JP, De, TL, and TM… I’m missing a few because last count TM was #18 or 19… who am I missing? I hadn’t included therapists I saw fewer than 5 times, or any psychiatrists, or clinicians associated with hospital programs who I would have only seen a very few times.

Anyway, yeah. Trust is hard, but I seem to have to get around to starting again every few months. It gets tiring. It makes it really difficult to get anywhere. I finally get through the “data dump” stage and it’s time to switch again. That’s why I’m so stubborn around trying to tackle more stuff with TM before our time is up. I need to get further in all this… and I am not sure I will find a therapist I trust would know how to handle the blowout from the sexual assault stuff. I know Dr C tried to get me to deal with it, but I couldn’t get over the shame. Maybe if I can get back in with her, it wouldn’t be so hard this time, but I don’t think she will be around… and I’m still not sure I trust her not to think horrible things of me. There’s some safety in TM working for the sexual assault clinic. She’s likely heard it all, or her colleagues have heard it all, and the judgement would be less… I still have trouble telling TM some things because of the shame involved, but I think the chances of her having heard the same thing before are higher than with Dr C… I dunno. I really miss Dr C though… and JF… and Dr GD… and De. They felt safe. TM feels safe when I’m not caught up in walls and transference… I miss TL, but more in a colleague sense than a therapist sense. She kept me in a more professional head-space during sessions. She was the first to be able to keep the more adult side of me present more times than not. I think it came from her expecting me to be more “professional” and aware. There was something about the transference with her that allowed me to be competent as an adult and a professional. I don’t really know how to explain it…

…I hate that the emotionally safest relationships are all paid ones. But I guess that contributes to the safety. If it wasn’t so one-sided and professional, I would be seeing the judgement and emotional reactions to my crazy, and I would be walking on eggshells with them to the same extent I do my friends and family. I still walk on eggshells with therapists, but it’s not as careful and distanced as it is with people who could really hurt me with their reactions…

Anyway, I digress again. Trying to avoid being the drama queen De saw me as. Trying to pull out of the crisis cycle that is threatening to come barreling in full force. Trying to put all this insight to use. Let’s hope it all works. o_O


More art journal progress

I was all about avoiding stuff yesterday. To that end, I played a bunch with my art journal. It doesn’t look like much progress, but lots of time was spent organizing my supplies because, well, avoidance.

wpid-img_20150425_223137.jpgI finally got around to making use of the little buckle findings from the Tim Holtz line (had gotten an “as is” pack several months ago and meant to make a closure for my first art journal, but that didn’t materialize). Anyway while catching up on Arrow and a Sleepy Hollow, I did the buckles:

 

wpid-wp-1430025053079.jpgI also worked on the tiger wing page more. The writing is excerpts from lyrics to Faith Hill’s “if you’re gonna fly away“. I changed two lines where she spoke of prayer to more accurately reflect me. “Has the sun gone down on you?/Have you given up on truth, oh?/I wish I could say all the right things/To make your pain go away/I wish you knew how beautiful/You are in every way/…So you’ll take a thousand pills/Hoping to be numb/Lie awake in bed/Counting all that’s wrong//No one understands/No one ever will/Trust me when I tell you/I know just how you feel…”

 

wpid-wp-1430024972849.jpgAnd finally, I added lyrics to the rose page from the other night. There’s a Tori Amos song called Blood Roses that fit the page pretty well… “Back on the street now/Can’t forget the things you never said/On days like these starts me thinking/…Now you’ve cut out the flute/From the throat of the loon/At least when you cry now/He can’t even hear you…”

 

Like I said, it doesn’t look like much progress, but it took me all day (probably because I couldn’t concentrate to stay on task for the life of me).

The depression is definitely still here. I was going to try to go to the beach today, but it took all my energy just to shower (which was a first in 5 days). I could have left the house, but I’m finding it harder and harder to do. The overwhelm of what it would take to get out of the house, coupled with the huge lack of reward, is making it seem nearly impossible. What’s the point trying?

I also find myself once again doubting these recent memories. If they really are accurate, how come I didn’t remember them before? Sure, they explain my intense anxiety around going to bed, and some other behavioral or cognitive things, but… memory can be unreliable. It could all just be something I’m fabricating in order to make sense of those symptoms that make no sense. The visceral reactions to certain triggers may just be a learned response. If they are false, no restructuring needs to happen around my understanding of life. If they are false, then it was all just for attention… If they are true, the world changes. I’m not sure which I prefer: am I narcissistic and unable to survive without a sob story, or did yet more really crappy stuff happen in my life that will change my understanding of childhood? Can I pick neither?


Tonight’s Art as Therapy

Yeah… kinda had a melt down on the phone with my wife. Wasn’t her fault. The way she reacted to something I said was just “the last straw” for the day. And lemme tell you, that meme that points out that angrily hitting “end call” just doesn’t fill the need to slam the phone down is SO accurate… not that she deserved me slamming the phone down, but I was having a moment. Being able to slam the phone would have helped get the churning emotion out. Instead, I pushed “end” about 30 times as I gently set the phone down next to me… anyway, there was no real reason for my outburst. I felt bad about it, but I just couldn’t rein it in in time… the stress of the day finally cracked me. I almost cried…
We talked about it a few minutes later and I apologized. She apologized also, though she didn’t have reason to.

Anyway, I figured after my craptastic display of assholery, I needed to let off some stream. I started finger painting a journal background. It was too bright though, so it got covered in crackle medium then black paint. Ahh, the comfort and security of a black background…

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I played some more, added more paint, and am now waiting for those layers to fully dry before I figure out where to take the page next.

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While watching paint dry can be spectacularly entertaining, I needed to risk missing the excitement and move on to another project. I decided I was going to put more effort into the happy timeline TM asked me to do. I came up with this:

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It was supposed to be a rose vine with leaves (and thorns), but after putting down the vine, I realized it kinda also looks like a dragon. The vine would have great symbolism (growing the “happy” in life), but I just like the thought of a dragon better… so I’m undecided where to go next with the artistic “line” of my timeline. I’m going to sleep on it, and see what I decide another day.

I wanted to put more effort into this one because I want the positive stuff to be a more salient memory than the negative stuff. This is also less overwhelming, even if it does have its triggers and sore spots. I might end up gluing it into my art journal as a fold-out spread. I want it to be something I want to look at and remember.

Anyway, yeah. The cats did their best to hinder progress, but I figured out how to work around them.

Rora is weighing the value of sitting on the project I’m currently working on vs walking through the wet paint on the journal page.

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And Biz absolutely had to have a bath immediately as I started drawing… he actually woke up from a sound sleep on the coffee table to make the most of this unique opportunity.

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What can I say, they are too cute trying to be annoying for me to actually be annoyed at them.


Self-compassion & recognizing limits

An article on self-compassion and understanding your limits was definitely something I needed to read today.

The last few days have me slamming hard into my own limits around processing my trauma. I am working towards acknowledging them to myself, and admitting them to TM (as much as I don’t want to in the moment because it means we will need to tweak our approach). I certainly want to push past my limits, but I need to do so carefully. I really wish I could keep seeing her for longer, and maybe a bit more often to help move past this, but therapy has its own limits and boundaries.

On another note, a friend pointed out something to me last night that was hard to hear, but definitely something that needs addressing. She was suggesting some coping strategies that I have used in the past, but have become huge triggers in the last year (mindfulness around breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation… well, they were always triggers, but not this intense in the past. I could utilize at least breathing techniques in the presence of someone I trusted. I can no longer do that without triggering or intensifying flashbacks). My problem comes from the memories that have surfaced recently. In them, I would pretend to sleep in order to “get it over with” faster. Pretending to sleep involved slowing my breath and relaxing my muscles so the person would believe I was asleep… I didn’t understand why these two techniques were so difficult for me until last year, when the cognitive memories started accompanying the physical and emotional ones. Since then, my reactions to the two techniques are incredibly intense and visceral. In the past, I would panic when I tried them, but I was able to try them without my whole body shaking; not so much any more. I know I need to work on this, but I’m not totally sure how. Time with TM is limited in so many ways, and there is so much to cover. ūüė¶

Anyway, back to the article on self-compassion. It can be found here on GoodTherapy.org. While their articles are often geared towards professionals in the field, they have a wealth of articles for clients, friends, and family. I don’t always agree with what they post, but some are spot on, like the one mentioned.


“50 shades” controversy, & the lasting effects of childhood trauma

So, after first writing this up almost a month ago, I have yet to put more effort into it. I had contacted a few people claiming to be connected to the BDSM¬†community in an effort to get “honest” perspectives. Publically, they strongly supported the notion that the community is respectful and vigilant of “safety”. Privately however, some denounced the community as seedy and very unsafe. I was warned to “stay far away” from anything even remotely having to do with BDSM, including looking further into the different aspects of it. The few people I know personally and trust, and who also have some experience with the community express otherwise: that their experiences have been safe and respectful… This has me confused. I am more apt to believe the people I know in real life, so I guess I will go with that… Continue reading


Dear one of my first therapists…

Dear JF,
do you remember me?  If I called with questions, would you 1) be willing to talk to me about them? 2) even remember anything about me from that long ago?
Things have come up, and I wonder if they are true. Would you at least be able to tell me if I mentioned it to you?
You would probably not be surprised to find out I’m still a mess. I have not made anything out of my life. I’m still pathetic and a looser…
would you want to know I still remember you? Would you care that stuff you said still impacts me in a positive way? Would it be weird if I told you that first time you hugged me and didn’t let me go right away both scared me and made me feel like someone cared for the first time in a long time? I hope I didn’t contaminate you… I hope your daughters are doing well. I’m not sure why I think you have 2, because I’m not sure how I would know you had a second one… I’m sorry I couldn’t do anything but cry when you told me you were pregnant. I really did think you’d make a great mom…
if I tried to contact you with my questions, would you respond at all even if you didn’t know the answers?
Should I take the risk? I think I could leave you a voice mail if I could dig up your contact info… but I’d be afraid to tell you that I’m still stuck, that I didn’t do anything meaningful with myself.¬† I’m still a failure, and any accomplishments listed under my name feel fake. I have no connection to them, I was faking it all along. Apparently I could fool everyone enough to let me graduate and find jobs and move ahead. I guess I’m really good at faking it. Still haven’t made it though. Don’t want to have to admit that, because you tried so hard to get me to believe in myself. ūüė¶
would you believe I finally admitted to myself that the DuckBoy stuff wasn’t my choice, and wasn’t ok? It took 18 years, but I’m starting to deal with it. I remember talking to you about it, and you trying to tell me it wasn’t ok and it wasn’t my fault… I finally believe you (most of the time)…
I lost the little glass stone you gave me “for protection, even from [myself]”… I didn’t mean to. It slipped out of my pocket and into the space next to the emergency break in my car. I tore the car apart looking for it (literally. some pieces don’t fit right anymore. Oops). I still have this sliver of hope that I will find it some day. I might pay someone to dismantle the car so I can double-check everywhere…
thank you for believing in me, and for putting up with me even when I’m sure you wished you could pound sense into me…
I miss you a lot sometimes. Now is one of those times…
hope you are well. You may get a message from me, though I’m not sure I would ask for a call back because I’m afraid I wouldn’t get one. I’m not memorable for anything good, so you are probably really happy I’m long gone…
anyway. Yeah. I miss you.
Thanks for all you did. It really did make a difference, even if it didn’t look like it at the time…
-sam

 

___________________________________________________________

(I left a message at her office. here’s hoping she will return the call and maybe be able to help out with my questions…)


Waking up can be hard to do…

I woke this morning to a very specific body memory. I couldn’t place it right away. It was physically uncomfortable, and initially emotionally uncomfortable. Once I started thinking about how it felt and what it felt like though, the emotional discomfort faded. It took me about 20 minutes, but I was able to place it as a “safe” memory.

This happens more often than I’d like. It’s probably related to dreams I don’t remember (though there are plenty I do remember). Some mornings it’s an ok body memory, like it was this morning. Other times it’s the kind I never want to remember. Both throw me off for hours though. The body sensations linger long after I can pin them to specific memories, but they definitely stay longer if I can’t…

So yeah, waking up can be hard. Here’s hoping that’s the worst of it for the day (Though I did set up my coffee and sit here waiting for it to brew for about 15 minutes before I realized I forgot to turn it on. That may just be the worst thing that happens today regardless of what else goes on because coffee is the most important beverage in the morning ;)).


huge reality check

I just spent the better part of the day reviewing most of my medical files from social security. wow… I was (am?) really fucked-up. I’m seriously questioning 1) how I am still alive to this day, 2) why in the world my wife stayed with me, 3) if there’s ever a possibility of getting better for real… I mean, I can’t tell you how many times my records noted what a hopeless cause I was, and how I am destined to this struggle forever. And it wasn’t just one provider, it was almost all of them… I was hospitalized over 21 times (if my count is correct), 15 of which happened in the span of a year and a half. I’ve been tried on 30+ meds (with varying degrees of success or failure). I know some of the records are not consistent from page one to page two, but most of them concur on 3 major diagnoses (depression, bpd, ptsd), and my prognosis (utterly hopeless)… o_O ¬†I think I am the definition of a “lost cause”. I’m really glad I will be seeing TL¬†tomorrow, though this wasn’t what I had in mind to talk to her about. I think it’s only fair to warn her how futile it all is though, so she doesn’t put much effort into this only to start pulling her hair out in a few weeks… wow… yeah. There’s still some records not included in their files, but it’s not much. The sad part is, I was dissociating for so much of that time. There are several hospitalizations I don’t recall ever occurring… now I’m sitting here a bit shell-shocked. I had known much of it was going to be bad, but didn’t realize quite how much of it, and quite how bad.


Wtj: ugly draw

 

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Demons always win.


“Surviving” (post link)

…why is it that we are shamed not only by those perpetrating the abuse, but also those that don’t want to bear witness to it? ¬†“Surviving” is so well-written in its brutal honesty… what happens to those of us who survive whatever degree of abuse we endure? ¬†We are labeled “impossible” and “worthless” by the system and by society that has made a choice to ignore the conditions of survival.

I really struggle with not being able to speak about what I endured. ¬†There is so much to the foundations of my shame. ¬†One phrase that always echos in my head is one my dad said often: “what happens in the family stays in the family” ¬†It screamed in my head as I was telling De about some things yesterday. ¬†His voice thundered in my memory as I was suddenly hiding under the bed again, terrified that he was coming into my room… The memory drowned out De’s voice. ¬†The memories to follow sent shudders through me, and yet I couldn’t tell De how loud my head was in the moment. ¬†I couldn’t give voice to the full-on virtual reality playing behind my eyes. I couldn’t even tell her I was lost in the memory. I noticed my mouth moving and speaking to her, but I was hiding under my bed again. G had just had a huge blow-out with mom, and I had run to hide. ¬†I tried to take the dog with me, but she stayed with mom… I don;t know how long I was hiding, but I do remember my brother coming into my room looking for me because the house was so quiet. ¬†I screamed and jumped when I saw his feet from under the bed, I thought he was G… I scared my poor brother. ¬†He had been at a friend’s house while hell broke out that night. ¬†He was spared. ¬†Mom got most of it… and the dog, she got a lot of it… G would kick her just because he could, because he was mad and needed to hurt the thing that everyone loved more than they loved him… and she just took it… :(…

Why is it that society underscores what our abusers tell us?

(With the way some of this stuff slams me, I do not know how my mom survived… I just watched my dad, but she was on the receiving end of so much more… I don’t know how it hasn’t crushed her. ¬†She has some incredible strength…)


when we are taught that “no” means “yes” but “yes” also means “yes”… (TRIGGER WARNING)

…and there is no real “no.”

A friend posted this blog link on facebook tonight. ¬†I had wanted to see Divergent anyway, but now I want to read the book before seeing the movie (I tend to find they skimp on messages in movies). ¬†It got me thinking; not only are movies and tv glorifying sexual violence, but we are trained that being “hard to get” is a turn on, and no never actually means no. ¬†This is more pronounced with people who grow up in chaotic and abusive situations. ¬†

When I was discussing the concept of rape with a co-worker many years ago (she was working towards licensure as a therapist and in the process of completing her PsyD), she defined rape and assault as needing a decisive “no” with physical resistance. ¬†At the time, I had not mentioned my experiences with Duckboy to anyone except my own therapist, but even to her only in the most vague terms. ¬†I was taken aback by this friend’s rigid and adamant definition. ¬†I tried to gently give “other” scenarios (my own experiences without divulging that it was myself I was speaking about, but hypothetical subtleties in situations), but she refuted it all. ¬†She said if the woman was truly not wanting any contact, she would fight back and scream “no” until her voice was hoarse if she had to… “what if she says no, but he doesn’t pay attention? …what if she was trained to refuse once, but if he pushed the idea, she had to go along with it? …what if he laughed her “no” off and continued what he was aiming for? … what if he said she was leading him on, so had to do it? what if she was scared because he was so much bigger and stronger? what if he could hold both of her hands in his one and pin them above her head? what if the “no” caught in her throat as she was trying to say it but all that escaped was tears and shaking her head? What if…” To all this, her reply was that it did not meet the definition of rape, and was barely teetering towards assault. ¬†That conversation was had early in my acceptance of what had happened (there’s something about being in a situation that makes it feel normal, especially when you have always been taught to go along with whatever the stronger/louder/older person says without argument). ¬†Prior to this conversation, I had started talking to JF about what had happened with Duckboy, but this conversation had me ashamed for feeling that any of it was something that should not have happened. ¬†I started telling JF that it wasn’t anything wrong; that Duckboy had just been “a little forceful about the sexual stuff, but it was ok…” ¬†I think she had tried to get to the truth of it all, but I was too ashamed. ¬†It was not only not ok to fight back, but it was not ok to be disturbed by any of it if I hadn’t fought tooth and nail to get away. ¬†If he had no scars or bruises, I was consenting… I think it’s at about this time that the cutting had moved to my legs. ¬†I don’t really remember doing it, but I do remember having the gyn ask what the words on my legs were (and later JF asking about them because I had flat-out denied the existence of the cuts that were most certainly visible to the gyn). ¬†The gyn thought she read “slut” and “whore”, but she wasn’t sure about it so JF wanted to talk about it. ¬†I told her I wasn’t sure what they said, and that I didn’t remember writing them (I honestly did not remember it. I think that was one of the many times I had “checked-out” and cut myself only to wake in the morning to new cuts)… I remember telling JF that I didn’t really know why that would even cross my mind. ¬†When she asked if it related to Duckboy, I reiterated that he never did anything wrong; he was just a little forceful… I stopped talking about it shortly after that. ¬†Words appeared in blood on my legs, but I refused to talk about it. ¬†I was lost in the shame of feeling wronged when I “obviously” wasn’t. I started OD’ing on pills to help drown out my head (though only once was I “caught” and sent to the ER. One other time I was sent to the ER because the nurse thought I meant I had taken that many pills only 2 hours ago, not 14 hours ago), and to help ease the dissonance between what I felt, and what “society” (or at least a handful of “friends”) said was right or wrong. ¬†Mind you, my therapist, the nurse I trusted, and the gyn all colluded on the idea that what they understood had happened was indeed “wrong”, but for some reason I didn’t listen to their opinions… I didn’t address any of the assault or abuse stuff again for almost 15 years, but it crept back to my awareness regularly in the form of body memories and flashbacks. ¬†I remember the times I would close my eyes and “just get it over with” when a friend asked for “benefits” even though that was all purely consensual. ¬†He attributed it all to my coming out later that year. ¬†I never told him about Duckboy. ¬†For years, I was adamant that what went on with Duckboy was all in my head in terms of “appropriateness.” ¬†Even when the flashbacks interfered with my relationships (apparently I went pale and stopped breathing for a few seconds the first time my ex pulled out a realistic dildo. She had offered to stop, but I recovered my bearings and did my best to ignore the flashbacks taking over enough to convince her there was nothing wrong), I refused to acknowledge the damage done by Duckboy. ¬†It was only after the millionth recommendation from the millionth hospital social worker that I sought sexual assault counseling this past summer. ¬†Even when the body memories caused me to cut severely in an effort to rid myself of them, I refused to acknowledge a history of assault. ¬†When asked about it, I attributed it to the body memories, but refused to give details or call it anything other than him being forceful. ¬†There were the body memories that came before Duckboy, but I had no actual memories to pair them with, so they “didn’t count.” ¬†You can’t really work on something you don’t remember except on a physical and emotional level… at least, I have no idea how to do it, and I thought it was all in my head (ok, so it is, but in a different way). ¬†I know the basics of the situation from second-hand stories of what went on, but at the same time, my involvement is constantly denied after the first admission of occurrence. ¬†I was too young to really remember, so I only have the stories they told me about it. ¬†I know the guy served time for it. ¬†I know he assaulted more than one kid at the parties. I know I was told I stopped going to bed when the other kids went because I would throw a tantrum at the parties. ¬†It was before my brother was born, so I can assume I was younger than one and a half. ¬†The only reason I even know anything happened was that I was told to alert my parents if the guy ever tried to contact me (after he was released… I might have been 12 or 14). ¬†But all I have of that time are distorted nightmares and vague body memories. The stuff with Duckboy isn’t too concrete, but I remember more than I do of the earlier stuff. ¬†I have explicit memories of what he did, and fears connected to specific events. ¬†I react strongly and violently when touched without expecting it, especially by someone I don’t know and trust. ¬†I have scared family friends with my reactions when they were only trying to be genuinely, harmlessly playful (things that are harmless to someone who has never been violated turn into assaults for someone with a history). ¬†Triggers are rampant in medical settings because of the nature of medical exams. ¬†Even when I trust my doctor, dissociation is almost inevitable. ¬†I have yet to figure out if it’s more helpful to be alone with her, or have my wife there. ¬†It gets confusing and full of flashbacks either way. ¬†Speaking of doctors, I’m surprised more gyn’s are not more sensitive to assault histories. ¬†I think they are almost as uncomfortable addressing the possibility of abuse (past or present) as we are divulging it. ¬†It took me years to find Dr. F. ¬†Before her, no one asked about any specifics beyond the existence of an assault history. ¬†Dr. F actually sat down and talked before having me strip for the first time. ¬†She checks in regularly and is always asking what helps to make it all easier. ¬†I have not yet made any effort to find a gyn here because it’s so difficult to find someone that’s willing to take time and space to make things feel safe… Even at the hospital, when the doctors knew there was a history and those triggers had led me to the hospital, simply labeled me as “resistant” and “defiant” when I insisted on a female doctor for any exams. ¬†There was more than one occasion when I was not given a choice to refuse the exam or ask for a female doctor. There were several “unwarranted” exams that I was not able to refuse. ¬†Then they wondered why I “left” during the exam. They deemed me a danger to myself for dissociating in a very uncomfortable, vulnerable, and triggering situation… They replayed the old scenarios in new ways. ¬†You would think that with a greater push for awareness and understanding of assault situations (and trauma in general) that they would work harder to keep from triggering people and re-victimizing them. ¬†There’s still a lot of growth that needs to happen in that field…

Anyway, what was my original point? ¬†Oh, the thoughts on the rape scene in Divergent… well, I guess I addressed it. ¬†I’m glad that our kids are now being taught more often that “no” means no, and not a veiled “yes”. ¬†I’m glad that we are educating everyone on the concept of respecting boundaries. ¬†I’m glad that society is changing, albeit slowly. ¬†It gives me hope that one day my future kids will know that they don’t have to do anything that feels so wrong. I will never tell kids not to fight for their right to refuse to do anything. ¬†I will make sure they know they can always look to my wife and I for support around anything… and I will forever be vigilant for signs of abuse with the people I care about. No one deserves to be hurt.