Category Archives: history

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…

Advertisements

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?! 🤔

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.