Tag Archives: cutting

Been a while

Sorry for being mia. Time gets away from me easily.

This past week or two (not totally sure on the duration) have been a struggle. I’m triggered on so many fronts, but at the same time, I wouldn’t be able to tell you what they are… I know some is related to the anniversary of my last major self-harming incident 8 years ago; Some is related to G being in the state; some is probably related to my monthly hormone cycle.

I’ve refrained from taking pain meds this past week in an effort to ground into my current body. If I’m feeling and noticing the immediate pain in my arms & legs, I’m not lost in the flashbacks… At least, that’s the theory I’m going by. It’s not really panning out that way, but whatever. I’m not cutting, so, progress maintained.

The flashbacks are a mix of that time frame when I was cutting uncontrollably, and the more distant past of abuse. There’s other stuff I know I talked to Dr C about, but I can’t remember what that was just now.

I’m super dissociative, stirred-up, and generally lost. I finally was able to be a hair more open with L about it (she asked if i was ok because I’ve been listening to a lot of music these last few days; if my phone’s not playing out loud, i have headphones in. I generally only do this when struggling). I was able to acknowledge it when she asked, but I’m having trouble qualifying it… It’s a bit easier when I write, but even that’s a struggle. My head has been very foggy and fragmented lately. I forget what I’m doing a few seconds into starting it. Art has been somewhat helpful for concentration. Been making little things to sell at an upcoming holiday craft fair. We have a 2.5 month lead-time, so hopefully inventory will be good for it.

Anyway… Yeah. Trigger-y & flashback-y of late. Trying to find balance. Struggling to express stuff, even in therapy. Lots of brain farts…

Super exhausted all of a sudden, so gonna sign off and nap for a bit before L comes home on her break. Gotta remember to wish the peanut happy birthday today while L is home… Someone remind me about that?

K, nap time.

How do you break the cycle?

A friend posed a really good question today: how do you actually break the cycle of [abuse/anger/self-harm/ insert whatever cycle applies]?

I didn’t have an answer for her.

I know my brother and I have both broken the cycle in our family, but I have no insight into how we did it. I know I have a deep-seated fear of becoming my father in any way, shape, or form. I think my brother also has that fear, tough I’m not sure.. since we never talk about that kind of stuff… but… how did that enable us to step back from the abuse?

I know I’ve had bouts with rage. They weren’t anything close to what my dad would display, but they were close enough to have me feeling like shit about myself.

So what helped after moments like that? I have no idea. Other than being scared of myself turning into G, I really don’t know what I did that allows me to control my rage…

I used to self harm, in a number of ways. I no longer use that outlet, but again, I have no real clue what changed. Yes, there is a huge fear of being hospitalized again, but there has to be more to it than that… right?

What is it that enables some of us to change patterns, while others are still mired in them? What’s the push that moves some of us out of the only patterns we’ve ever know, but keeps others stuck?

I don’t think it’s a personality thing, because that would mean only some people can ever change. I believe everyone can change, so that can’t be it.

Is it better insight? Not totally sure, because my friend is pretty insightful (I’d say more so than I am), so it’s not just that.

…but what actually is it?

I’ve been told that changing old patterns takes time. A therapist once told me in response to being frustrated at my slow rate of change; “you’ve spent 20-something years using that skill. What makes you think you can change that in a few short months?”

She had a point.

I had practiced my poor coping skills for more than half my life. It would take at least a few years to perfect not cutting…

But is time and fear the only thing that helped me change? We didn’t focus on alternates in therapy; we just addressed the trauma (repressed or otherwise). Was that the key?

So what happens if there isn’t trauma hiding behind the anger, or the trauma was addressed, but the anger remains? How do you resolve it?


I feel weird. It’s hard to describe. It’s triggery, floaty, disconnected… I’m having trouble putting it into words. 

There were just two of us in group today. Dr C took that opportunity to try to show us both that we are more alike than we might think… 

Dr C and I had been talking about shame around my cutting, and me trying to wrap my head around my recurring “shock” when I hear a dissociative diagnosis in reference to my symptoms…  I think she was trying to allow me an opportunity to talk about it with someone who might understand from a first-hand perspective. 

We ended up talking a bit about extreme dissociation and about coping skills. Something about B describing her DID stirred up my body memories. When she talked about switching, some part of me started to “wake up”… the stirring feelings shifted and swirled and ran through a few “ages”… I dunno. It was weird; and the body memories bubbled up…

Last week, for the first time in almost 2 decades, I connected with a part of myself I had all-but-forgotten ever existed. I suddenly remembered how much I loved to read, and that I used to do it all the time. I connected to the memory and the emotion of it… It only lasted a few hours, but I remembered what it was like. I’m trying to rekindle that part. I’ve started to buy books again and I actually want to read them. I haven’t been able to pay attention to them yet, but there’s an excitement around it (even if it’s just a tiny seedling of excitement). 

Anyway, the rest of today has been emotionally weird. I think I’m still somewhat back in group, trying to process finally not being alone in my dysfunction. I’m also feeling the beginnings of mild flashbacks (at least, I hope they are mild)… I’m guessing the internal stirrings are also playing a part in the weird feeling. It’s like the inside partitions are starting to get hazy and the parts are wandering forward. I’m not sure the walls will always be hazy (they’re starting to solidify again), but they were in group.

I’m getting better at holding conversations, but it’s still difficult. I lose interest pretty quickly… no, “interest” isn’t the right word. I’m not sure what exactly it is, but I lose my motivation to keep talking. I get distracted, and tired, and… yeah. That. 

Sorry, this post is fast losing cohesion. 

More anxiety

My chest is still tight. 

Woke up today… triggered? It’s not exactly the right word for it, because triggered implies more intensity. I was “on”, activated. I started journaling about the story playing out in my head. When I went back to it later to proof read it, it felt hollow and substance-less. I thought I had put more detail, but I guess most of it only played out in my head only. 

The story I woke into left me feeling triggered and on edge. I really wanted to cut. I was aware of the intensity of the desire for the release and balance that comes from it. I was also aware that I needed to try to avoid it… I decided to take a shower.  My usual showers last about 30 minutes on a good day, without that loop that has me feeling unable to get clean… Anyway, today’s shower took almost an hour and a half. I can’t recall any reason it would have. For some reason, I lost an hour in there. And when I was done, I no longer needed to cut. I know I didn’t (I wasn’t bleeding at all), but the desire was abated and my body was a bit sore… 

The loss in time caused me to run late for therapy…

I talked to Dr C about it a bit. She then mentioned something related to family that I had apparently told her previously. I don’t recall telling her anything like that, and I’m not sure I would have necessarily described things in that way, but I believe her when she says it’s something I’ve said to her… that got us onto the topic of dissociation and memory gaps. I expressed my frustration at being faced with more recent episodes of amnesia. I understand the function of it for traumatic events, but this random trigger that somehow connects to the trauma thus leading to dissociation frustrates me. I thought I had gotten to a point where I didn’t completely lose time anymore, but apparently I’m not. I still forget spans of time. Today it happened twice totaling over two hours. The second time happened while shopping after therapy. I thought I had been shopping for maybe an hour, but I had been there for 2.5 hours. Nothing notable happened, but it’s occurrence confuses me. Maybe it was left-over triggering from either the “memories” this morning, or my session with Dr C…

With this sudden increase in noticed loss of time, Dr C suggested I leave pen and paper around in hopes I may journal while checked out. She suggested journaling on my phone may be too complicated in a dissociated state. I dunno. It’s comfortable enough a medium for me… I’ve checked out while trying to journal in my art journal before and ended up just sitting frozen in that position while I was “out”. I’m not sure leaving a pen and paper around would do much. I think i’m more likely to journal on my phone. I know I’ve done that in the past while I was dissociated. Sadly, the app I had used at the time glitched and I lost most of that journaling. I do recall at one point before the app failed that I read several entries I had no memory of writing. Since I’ve started blogging, I’ve found a few entries I don’t recall at all, along with several I’m aware I wrote but cannot feel a connection to. I also know I’ve written quite a bit while dissociated in my private journal blog… none of it looks like anything vastly different than what I remember writing except for the entries that detail the flashbacks and memories; those I constantly have to reread in order to know what they contain. I have the general gist that they describe details, but I wouldn’t be able to recite most of it without reading it. It feels like someone else’s story…

Anyway, I think I lost my point for this post. I feel a bit better though. The anxiety isn’t as crushing after writing for a bit. I don’t necessarily feel grounded, but my chest isn’t tight and twitchy. I still want to cut, but I think I can get myself to bed without giving in. I just hope I can actually sleep tonight. I have work tomorrow. It’ll likely be a 10-hour day again. They are so exhausting, even though they “only” involve camp…

Oh, another stressor; my disability is being reviewed. I think I filled out the form correctly, but I was partially dissociated while doing it. I’m a bit worried I might lose my benefits. I felt weird getting it in the first place, though the providers I worked with seemed to think it was appropriate. I know I don’t have the energy to look for (and accomplish) full-time work. I currently don’t have the emotional head space to succeed at it even if I tried. I feel fake though. I should be able to suck it up and plow through all this. I should be able to be productive in society. I shouldn’t be so lazy and unmotivated… I feel like i’m wasting resources, but Dr C says it’s not a waste. She says having needs and taking time isn’t wasteful… I dunno. I think being so needy is wasteful and a pain in the ass, but she disagrees…

There’s that anxiety again. Guess I should sign off before I send myself into a tizzy over something which I have no control…

Sorry this post is so long-winded. I hope it makes sense and that autocorrect didn’t butcher it too badly because I have no energy to proof read just now…

Intrusive thoughts and insights

I find myself thinking about the past a lot, even when I’m trying to distract. It’s seeping through both my conscious and unconscious thoughts. I try to distract from it only to find it making an appearance unintentionally…

I think that was what triggered my sudden and “baseless” anger that later faded to resignation and defeat. I wasn’t really sure where it came from, or why it would quickly dissolve into sadness. I think I put it together finally; I had been absent-mindedly messing with watercolors this afternoon. I was trying to rekindle the relief I had found in session by painting “blood”, then later painting the feeling of comfort cutting would bring. Without meaning to, the pattern the watercolor took on resembled an image representative of the images/sensations I struggle with. I noted the resemblance, them moved on to another page to experiment with more watercolor. 

I guess the first image stirred stuff up because in less than 30 minutes, I was feeling rage bubble up. I snapped at L about something stupid, and wanted to isolate. The rage fizzled to resignation and depression shortly after… I wasn’t able to identify a potential trigger though till after returning home and contemplating the mess I made with the watercolors. I realized seeing the first piece that reminds me so much of trauma bubbled the anger again… and shame. I’m ashamed that the art I was trying to use to satisfy the desire to cut turned into a trigger. I’m ashamed at what I see in the splotches. I’m ashamed of the conflicting emotions it brings up.  I’m feeling a resigned sense of acceptance about these “memories” being accurate… and there’s grief there too: grief over losing the life I had thought I lived. I guess Dr C was right; this depression is at least in part fueled by grief. 

Am I pushing myself too hard? 

The emdr stirred up a ton of stuff. It’s not settling much, just cycling through things. She called it progress, but not necessarily relief. I’m not sure how well I can handle this, though when I just unintentionally triggered myself intensley, I was able to sit through it.

I’m feeling this huge internal pressure to talk to someone other than just Dr C about what’s going on, but when I try (even anonymously or ambiguously) I trigger myself… I’m back to doubting if I can tackle trauma processing outside of an inpatient (or at least intensive out patient) setting. I guess I’m doing ok because I haven’t resorted to cutting. I’m just scared I might be pushing myself too hard without enough safety nets in place. I mostly trust Dr C, I’m just not sure I trust myself…

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.

I find certain things incredibly difficult to bring up in therapy. I’m not sure if it’s the way Dr C and I go about things, or the topics themselves, or my fear of disappointing her, or what, but sometimes I struggle till the end of session (or even after season is up) with how to introduce talking about certain things.

Last Monday, we had mentioned some stuff at the end of session that I really had hoped to cover today… only today I couldn’t bring it up again in time. The only reason I brought it up at all was because she caught me looking at the clock trying to calculate if I had enough time to get into it. I didn’t. She gave me the option of coming in again this week if I wanted. I took the opportunity, and also asked if we could talk about the self harm stuff that session. She said we can always talk about it, anytime. I told her I wasn’t sure how to bring it up; it’s one of those things that feels irrelevant unless I’m mired in it… only it’s difficult to talk about the “grand scheme” of it when I’m wrapped up in doing it, so it would be good to talk about it now when I’m not fighting urges… we established that it isn’t a current occurrence, but that it’s always in the back of my head (much like the concept of dying is always there).

I hope she can help me break into the subject next session.

Does anyone else find it difficult to bring up certain things at times? It’s not so much that it’s triggering or difficult to talk about (though it certainly can be), it’s just that we get going on another topic, or we seem to stay lighter, and I don’t know a good way to break into the heavy stuff. I find when there’s something I really want to talk about, I stall and sputter and pick something totally unrelated/surface to talk about when there’s actually something much more specific and heavier to talk about. I fall into the default notion of “they don’t really want to hear that stuff because it’s too deep/personal/uncomfortable so I’m just going to avoid it. I know it’s counterproductive for therapy (I mean, heck, that’s what I see the woman every week for: to talk about the uncomfortable/icky/ personal stuff), but for some reason I can’t get out of my own way and simply open up about whatever it is I really want to talk about most sessions. I’m so nervous and anxious about presenting well and progressing, I can’t bring up anything that might hint at any regression…

I know she says I don’t have to worry about disappointing her, but I always do (worry)… :/ I have this intense drive to please people and make them happy in order to make them like me. It rarely works. Half the people aren’t swayed by my frantic attempts, the other half take advantage. I know I should be more authentic with Dr C, but I don’t want her to give up on me or be mad that I’m just always drama…

I need people to like me. I need them to know I exist, and to want me around or I might blink out of existence… I know I won’t really cease to exist if they dislike me or no longer want me around, but the little kid in me doesn’t get that. She’s still desperately trying to please everyone around her in an effort to justify taking up space and resources… funny how much the kid in me is desperate to be real, while at the same time another part of me wishes and hopes for an end (the depressed part. The part that’s so tired of fighting and struggling and trying)… annother topic for therapy “some day.”

Oh, I’m supposed to make “balanced happy” art for Dr C. She was thinking I should do something that makes me happy/feel loved, surrounded by more things that make me happy and feel loved to keep out the darkness (or create a shield against it). She did some concept sketches in session today, and I think it might turn out really cool, I just have to figure out how to execute them in an interesting way… guess that’s a project for this week sometime. It won’t be done by Wednesday’s session, but maybe for next week?

Art instead of other things

As much as I didn’t want to be in therapy on Monday, I was really looking forward to group on Thursday… only group got cancelled 😦

So, in an effort to keep on the right track with my coping skills, I did art all day…

I’m not sure if I posted about my experiment making my own canvas journal, but I worked on that and some ATC’s that will be going out on a swap (if I can ever decide which ones to actually send. I like them all for various reasons. Some have deeper meanings than they may appear to just by looking at them).

Anyway, here are pics of it all. Some are WIP pics, others of completed pages/cards… I used Inka Gold on the canvas. It doesn’t work well. The paint is cracking and chipping already. I need to come up with something as a hard cover for the journal to help protect it better. It works fine on solid objects, but it’s not meant to be pliable once dried.

I’m glad I had the distraction today. Between pms, the passing of one of L’s family members (and what it’s bringing up for me), increased body sensations, stress around one of the dogs having eaten a spoon a week ago and still not passed it, and the thought of a crazy day at work tomorrow, my thoughts have been hovering over the more negative coping skills. Similar to what I mentioned to Dr C on Monday, I just wanted to be drunk, high, and bleeding. Instead I played art and listened to the Ellie Goulding station on Pandora… yay for picking the more socially acceptable coping skills.

change is hard…

I am still struggling so much this weekend.

The one thing keeping me from completely falling apart is the mantra that “I can never get past this point if I keep reacting the same way as I always have…”

Yes, the fear of dealing with all this is huge. Yes, I want to self-destruct more than almost anything… but that “almost” is the hope that maybe this time I can change things. This time, if I don’t fall head-long into crisis (self-harming severely, making risky decisions about safety, winding up in the hospital…), I can finally get through to some progress. I can maybe finally settle my past into the past. Maybe this time I can find a way through the darkness…

So I talk back to the voice in my head that tells me to shred my body, or that tells me to quietly end my life.

I really don’t like that I caused TM to be worried about me. I don’t like that my wife worries, or my mom. I don’t like that my dog gives me that look when she sees me in bed too long, or wrestling the desire to whip out a blade… She was there the first time I seriously attempted to take my life. She stayed far away from me for weeks after that. She came to me for the basics, but nothing else. I see that same worried look on her face again. The other dog will try to coax me out of bed. I hate that I worry them…

So I’m still here. I’m distracting and reaching out, and finding that “pattern interrupt” that TM wants me to find.

I spent time at the beach again today. I might do the same tomorrow… I need to keep doing things differently than I have in the past.


It would be so much easier to just give in and cut, or OD, or disappear… but I can’t do that. So I keep pushing myself to not fall into the old ruts. I’m sure I’ll slip up, but for now I’m trying.

Needs and neediness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

well, that was… triggering.

Went to meet with new therapist, L (not to be confused with wife L, but since I don’t know L’s last name, I can’t think of any way to differentiate her… maybe TL for “therapist L”?). Anyway, met with her last night.  It was pretty uncomfortable in terms of room set-up (gotta love the ironically closet-like therapy rooms at the LGBTQI services center… and the awkward chair placement in that particular room: face to face and only about 2 feet apart). Aside of feeling like my personal space was being invaded, I felt like we were all over the place in terms of what we talked about.  I spilled a lot more than I had intended, and about things I hadn’t really wanted to focus on, but I was unable to lead the conversation (too anxious) so we went where she took it.  I’m not sure how much of the info from De’s conversation with the Clinical Supervisor got passed to TL, but she didn’t really seem to know much.  I know the intake I had done was very bare-bones in terms of info, so even if she had that to read, she didn’t get much from it.

It wasn’t a very chronological or organized first session.  I think I would have liked it better if it were, more like a second intake where I could have gone over more of the basics before getting lost in all the other stuff.  I wish I would have said more about the termination with De, and all the loss that is wrapped up in it, but we got side-tracked on my mention of the huge multiple-anniversary date that had been the previous day (Monday).  We talked a bit about the self harm stuff, and the suicidal thinking. I tried to explain that it’s a reflex reaction for me, that there are almost always thoughts and a plan, but rarely ever intent.  She asked about previous attempts: how many, when, methods… all the basics they always ask around that stuff.

We got a bit off onto the topic of previous hospitalizations and how they were experienced.  It all started to stir more negative feelings in me, but it was still manageable.  Then she brought up safety contracts.  I’m not 100% sure why I react really badly to the signed paper contracts, but I think it has to do with previous experiences of them leading to involuntary hospitalizations (or maybe that they were only really ever done around the times I had to go inpatient, and I don’t feel like this is one of those times). I tried to explain my anxiety.  I tried to explain that I would be fine talking about safety planning; that the paper version really hikes my anxiety, but I was my usual, verbally inarticulate self.  It felt as if everything I said was coming out wrong.  I felt like I was speaking a different language.  I knew why she was likely going to push the topic (being an intern, there’s lots of paperwork that must be done, and stuff that needs to happen because of liability issues), but I couldn’t get out of my own way to get past the anxiety around it.  She had asked if I cared if she left the room to go get the paper, or if I had wanted to write one up there.  I thought nothing of her leaving the room to get it, so I said it didn’t matter to me.  I made sure to tell her that when I say “it doesn’t matter”, I truly have no preference in the moment.  She asked again before she stepped out.  I should have taken that as the universe giving me a chance to bypass a hugely anxiety-inducing experience, but my awareness wasn’t there at the time. Live and learn I guess…

She returned shortly, and we began to fill out the paperwork.  I was having difficulty concentrating on what she was trying to ask me. Had I been more in-tune with myself, I would have been able to notice I was starting to get really triggered.  I should have said something to her, but I didn’t realize the beginnings of the emotional flashback that was about to hit hard.  I just knew I was uncomfortable with the paper form of the safety contract, and we had already talked about that.  Anyway, there was a piece of information she needed for the paper, but we were unable to find it on my phone. She stepped out a second time.  This time it was longer… My panic started going up again.  She popped her head back in and said it would be a moment longer, but she was coming back (at this point, I thought I was just anxious about how long I was keeping her over our hour scheduled time.  We were running into 35 minutes over, and we still had most of the paper to fill in).  Again, I wish I had seen it earlier and simply asked her to return to the room at that time.  If I had, I may have been able to give voice to the real anxiety behind everything that was going on.  Unfortunately, I didn’t figure it out for several hours after I left.  In the end, we filled out the paperwork and she reviewed it with me verbally.  She (unknowingly) mentioned a community resource that I have had really crummy experiences with, and I think that tipped me into full-on panic.  I wanted to bolt from the building and never return.  I held my impulse to run in check though, because I was afraid she would call the police if I left before I was given permission to do so (again, emotional flashback to past situations, but I didn’t realize it at the time).  I made another appointment for next Tuesday for the same time.  I hurried myself out of the building (just about running down the stairs after I was sure she couldn’t see me anymore).  I got to the car shaking and wanting out of there fast.  I drove home in a panic.  It took everything in me not to want to call and cancel immediately after I left.  We had been there 2 hours, and it ended with me in full-on “flight” mode.

Prior to leaving, the really broken part of me apologized to her.  She seemed to think it was for going over by so much time (which she didn’t seem to mind and kept saying the first session often times goes over). I didn’t know how to tell her I was apologizing for not only taking so much of her time, but for presenting how I did; for simply existing… I wanted to ask her not to hate me, not to think badly of me.  The angry, defensive teenager in me was briefly replaced by the scared little 5-year-old…  but then the teenager came back and stayed for a while.

In talking to L, I was able to realize that most of my reaction to the session was emotional garbage from the past.  The memories were not immediately apparent, but the emotions were very much present and coursing.

Later on that night, I left a message on the agency’s general voice mail asking if TL could call me back. I had the intention of telling her my reaction and my fears about going back for next week, but I am not sure I want to have that conversation at this time.  I go back and forth between letting her in on my experience of yesterday, and asking for either additional support from her if she has the availability, or a referral out to some other type of additional support.  I don’t really want to lose the option of an individual therapist at this point, but I think I need more than once-a-week sessions.  All these transitions are very difficult. I’m having trouble even getting out of bed in the mornings.  I didn’t “get up” until almost 2pm today, and I am already tempted to return to the comfort of my little nest a mere hour and a half later.  I’m exhausted. I’m emotionally tired, and it’s making physically doing anything equally tiring.  I don’t even really want to talk to anyone at this point.  I have no energy to find words to communicate with others.  I’m stalled on any art. I’m actually surprised I was able to write this blog entry (though I have to admit I was interrupted a number of times while writing it).  I’m cooked.  And I am not sure I actually want this lady to call back, or if I’d rather just slink away from therapy (right, coz that would be a good idea after admitting I would benefit from more support, not less.. brilliant SJ, brilliant…). I think I’m afraid I left a bad first impression.  I’m afraid she is currently asking her supervisor to transfer me to someone else.  I’m afraid she thinks of me with the same judgement I think of myself… She gave me no indication of it in session (in fact she challenged some of the judgements I voiced about myself, but I wasn’t really in a place to take that in when she did)…

So that’s where I am with that.  Part of me really wants her to call back, part of me hopes she doesn’t so I can use that as an excuse not to have to open up to trusting someone else; an excuse to run away… ::sigh:: I’m a pain in my own ass so much of the time. :/

Updated “no words” and adding #53 Turmoil

I worked some more on the painting.  I think this is a bit closer to what I want the feel of the painting to be:


And then I did this several days ago. It’s also a work in progress, but I have not figured out what else I want to do with it. It started as just an eye doodle, and grew from there… (2014 100 Theme Challenge #53: Turmoil).


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.

The appropriateness of tears

I was journaling to De, and the topic of crying snuck its way in.  I don’t remember if I have talked about it here yet.  It’s not an easy thing for me (crying).  There has to be a really damn good reason to cry “legit” tears (not the ones that seem to spill uncontrollably from my eyes at random commercials or sappy stories, but tears that are backed by deeper emotion, tears that actually mean something or are connected to something).  It’s never appropriate in front of another human being.

Crying was not accepted growing up.  It was never soothed, only discouraged (and in some cases punished).  The only exception to this was when K died; then it was ok to legitimately cry (though only up until the funeral and burial in my recollection).  It wasn’t ok to cry for T though, “because he wasn’t real family” (G hated T and refused to consider him a relative because he “wasn’t blood”… I think love makes a family, not genetic material.  I will never consider Bitch family though she is my father’s biological sister).  T married K.  He was kind to her (mostly), and to us.  He will always be family to me and I have a right to cry when I miss him… But I digress. G never allowed crying.  Mom looks down on it also, though she was more consoling about it than G ever was.  Regardless, crying was like a sick day: hell froze over before it was allowed (or the school kicked us out because we were contagious).

Despite new learning and a cognitive understanding of the benefits of crying, I still have a lot of trouble allowing myself to cry in front of anyone else. That rarely happens.  It has taken me over a decade to learn to talk myself into crying when I need it, not just when it falls under the “ok” column set by my early experiences.  I have to have a drawn-out conversation with myself to convince that gate-keeper to let the tears fall.  Sometimes I can’t convince her to let go, but a few times every few years, I can actually manage to cry as an emotional release.  Most of the time, blood had taken the place of tears… I haven’t cut in months, but I haven’t cried either (except maybe twice in the ER or the hospital).  Tears tumble forth at stupid sappy stories, or emotional moments in movies, but there’s nothing really behind them.  It’s not a full-fledged cry, but just leaking eyes.  I wish I could bring myself to release through crying more often.  I think it might do me some good, but the keys needed to open that gate are stashed away somewhere “safe” from my prying.

One of the few things I remember from my childhood is a recurring nightmare.  I would be crying, and Skeletor would yell at me to stop.  He would tell me that if I didn’t stop right then, he would kill me.  He would grab me and physically threaten until the dream me stopped crying… I think the dream me, conditioned by Skeletor, is the gate-keeper to allowing the adult me to cry.  She’s terrified though, and repeats Skeletor’s words over and over again even when I try to tell her it’s ok to cry.

The other fear of crying comes from the fear of being overwhelmed by it.  If I start to cry, will I ever be able to stop?  I’m reminded of one day in 2007 when I cried hysterically for about 8 hours straight.  I would stop only long enough to catch my breath for a few seconds, then the choking sobs would start again.  I remember calling 211 because I hoped talking to someone would help me stop.  They sent out an ambulance without telling me and I was hospitalized (I cried hysterically the whole time until they drugged me up enough to put me to sleep for a few hours before they admitted me upstairs)… Kinda shitty experience.  Similar in “turn-off” factor as the Skeletor dream.

Anyway, I’m not really sure what the purpose of this post is… We all learn different things growing up (many of us learn really warped stuff), and it tends to affect us into adulthood even when we try our best to shake the lessons.  I look forward to the day that I can cry “as needed” without having to go through a 30 minute back-and-forth with the old tapes.

100-theme challenge 2014

I have participated in 100-theme challenges twice now, and I really liked some of what I produced because of them.  This year however, I wanted to put my own spin on things.  I wanted to come up with one myself.  A lot of my list can be interpreted in therapeutic ways (though admittedly, some were inspired by objects/events in the living room at the time of its creation), so I thought I would post it here in case anyone wants to participate.  The rules are simple: interpret the prompt however you see fit.  You can choose to post your work publicly somewhere, or keep it to yourself.  It can be in any form you wish as long as it can be considered creative in some way (drawing, painting, sculpting, writing, music, sounds, pictures, words, collages, performance, anything).  It’s really just supposed to give you topics you may not have thought of on your own to help spark creativity… I have liked the challenges in the past because I did things I never expected to do.  It forced me to take time out for creativity and story-telling.  Since I have been focusing more on my own art therapy of late, I figured this next one could be a way to help me express to De what I need to get out.  I will try to post anything I do of relevance.  I must warn you however, I go in spurts with these things.  Sometimes a whole bunch of work will show up at once, other times, there will be months without anything.  What I’m trying to say is: don’t hold your breathe for me to get the list finished in a timely manner.  I have had 2013’s list for the past year and only this past month have I started it…  I really liked that list though, so I will continue working on that one as well (rather than incorporate stuff from that list into this one).

Without further adieu, here’s my 2014 100-theme challenge:

1) candlelight
2) magnified
3) left standing
4) aftermath
5) breaking ground or ground breaking?
6) reaching out
7) trust
8) broken
9) in the daylight (everything is different)
10) rats in the walls
11) shattered
12) open to interpretation
13) flashbacks
14) heaviness
15) lighter than air
16) combustion
17) lights
18) hope/hopeless
19) under pressure
20) disclosure
21) history
22) presence
23) disappearing from…
24) gone away
25) at the dinner table
26) unbalanced
27) highlights
28) even snakes get the blues
29) enlightenment
30) despair
31) rave with me
32) the itch you can’t scratch
33) slippery slope
34) in my travels
35) it’s the end of the world
36) here there be dragons
37) firefight
38) spirals/spiraling
39) a blank canvas
40) just a thought
41) reflections
42) big trouble
43) happiness
44) wrath
45) associations
46) to the world
47) on the inside
48) truth in advertising
49) memory
50) deception
51) hollow
52) survival
53) turmoil
54) bad choices
55) comfort
56) falling (is like this)
57) open up
58) feety pajamas
59) what would you do?
60) superpowers
61) once upon a time
62) AWOL
63) hunger
64) the light’s gone out
65) running
66) awareness
67) transition
68) humility
69) conscience
70) memorable
71) convergence
72) destroy
73) buildings and bridges
74) the last time
75) vision
76) burning bridges
77) why
78) the first time
79) meditation
80) technology
81) walls
82) containment
83) distraction
84) anxiety
85) heart
86) it hurts like this
87) play it again
88) talk to me
89) open book
90) animals
91) brutality
92) nature
93) family
94) obsession
95) release
96) skeletons
97) peak performance
98) water
99) drowning
100) rescue
In case anyone is interested, the list I’m working on for 2013 is this (I think I have pieces to cover 7 of the topics… I’m seriously slacking!):
1. Break Away 2. Bites the Dust 3. Innocence 4. Drive 5. Sound of Settling 6. Mother Nature 7. No Time 8. Standing Still 9. Two Roads 10. Foreign 11. Breaking the Silence 12. Keeping a Secret 13. Blind Man’s Bluff 14. Waltzing 15. Traps 16. Mischief Managed 17. Lazy Days 18. Hot/Cold 19. Anyone Out There? 20. Seeing Red 21. Through the Fire 22. Between the Raindrops 23. Safety First 24. Puzzle 25. Gateway 26. Fantasia 27. Everyday Magic 28. Irregular Orbit 29. Change in the Weather 30. Nowhere and Nothing 31. Charge 32. Turn the Car Around 33. Colorless 34. Assassin 35. Daughters 36. Instant 37. Don’t Be a Hero 38. Born Without Time 39. Sound Effect 40. Little Bombs 41. Freak 42. American Boys 43. Clue 44. True Believers 45. Portable 46. Caption 47. So Close 48. Under the Red Hood 49. Dragon 50. Making History 51. Rivalry 52. Death 53. Excuses 54. Colors 55. Family 56. Music 57. Off Topic 58. Black and White 59. Memories 60. Song Title 61. Fighting Chance 62. Childhood 63. Shenanigans 64. Elements 65. First Time 66. Lost 67. Strangers 68. Insanity 69. Mirror 70. Silhouette 71. Zodiac 72. Dreams 73. Hope 74. Misunderstanding 75. Relationship 76. Stay Gold 77. Beauty 78. Alice in Wonderland 79. Runaway 80. Our Own World 81. Kiss 82. Little Things 83. Secret Admirer 84. Sweet Dreams 85. Past 86. Present 87. Future 88. Forgotten 89. Human 90. Silence 91. Breathe Again 92. Breaking the Rules 93. Fairy Tale 94. Death 95. Umbrella 96. Pattern 97. Season 98. Clothing 99. Animal 100. The Ones We Left Alive

crushing weight (triggering?)

There’s a huge weight in my chest.  It feels like a black hole is ripping me apart from the inside…

I need to make it through the weekend without a total meltdown.  I start an IOP on Monday.  I promised I would give it a try.  It’s just so far away.  I don’t want to do anything or go anywhere.  De had conditionally given me permission to stay in bed if it meant I would be safe. Even bed is no longer bringing relief, but it’s better than outside of it.  I want to cry but the training from childhood is keeping the tears in check (maybe if I could cry I could release all of this).  I used to cut instead of crying – tears of blood… But I am not allowed to cut, so the crushing weight stays.  The tears are stuck in my eyes.  Nothing helps.  Music works to help the emotions go in waves (I tend to get stuck without it), but they still constantly cycle around.

De said it was ok to ask for extra help if I needed it.  She said she wanted me to be able to ask for inpatient if that was what would help.  I can’t bring myself to believe her.  I’m afraid it would be the tripping point that sends this spiral out of control.  I really don’t want to lose her.  There’s a lot of care-taker transference going on with her for me.  So far, those I have felt this way about have disappeared from my life.  I’m desperately trying to keep that from happening with her.  I’m afraid if I ask for more help than even the IOP, I will lose the last bit of glue that is holding me together.  I have a past filled with out of control spirals tripped by a hospitalization.  I don’t want to go there again.  I’m trying to hold it together, but it’s SO hard right now.  I don’t want to admit to feeling this bad.  I don’t want to admit the extent of the hopelessness and despair… and I really have no idea what help a hospital stay would be other than physical containment.  I cannot have my most effective safe coping skills there with me (my wife, my dogs, my music).  They force daily meds (something that makes me 100’s of times worse – yes, there is worse than this).  I lose all control when I’m trying so hard to hang on to it.

Every time I think there’s a glimmer of hope (got disability & Medicaid), there’s really just nothing much more it helps with (very limited places take Medicaid, and none of them offer more intensive therapy than an IOP for mood disorders.  No one that specializes in trauma takes it…).  I was hoping the meditation class would bring some balance today, but it didn’t help.  The topic for today’s walk was possibilities.  Count on a depressed brain to turn that negative…  Being in nature helped a bit.  My instinct was to find a secluded place in the park, but I was unable to do so.  The rain was nice (at the restaurant, we sat at a table that was partially uncovered.  The staff was very worried that we were getting wet, but I kept assuring them I did not have a problem with that.  They kept wanting us to move under the roof, but I liked the rain).  I brought a rain coat, but I just wanted it to pour down on me.  I sat next to the water out in the park.  I begged Mother Nature to open the sky.  She just sent a mist.  L challenges her and she gets the challenge.  I beg for more rain and I get a misting… I need L’s power… She complains that the ocean is too still, and in a few minutes the waves are large.  She complains there’s no mud to play in and in the middle of the hike we get stuck in mud up to our knees.  Today she laughed that the cup I placed under the drips was not catching any water.  Within 30 seconds, the rain came harder and the stream of water filled the cup… I envy her power (or the coincidence of the occurrences).

My heart is broken.  My head is broken.  I’m broken.  It never gets better.  I’m just so tired of all this.  Must make it through Monday…

it just is what’s right (and the fluidity of time)

De sparked a thought about this a few sessions ago, and reading it on several forums has me wondering: am I the only one who si’s because it feels “right” and not as a form of punishment? De (and other T’s before her) seemed taken aback when I told her it was never really something that felt “deserved” so much as just what simply “must be”… In my head, there’s no real judgement towards it. It just is what it is. It’s what’s “supposed” to be. Things don’t feel right if I avoid si when I really need it. It’s a release. It’s an actuality, but never a punishment.

Am I in the minority with that? Where does that stem from? I can’t remember a time when I was hurt like that just because that is what was supposed to be… but there were other times that simply felt like the crap that happened in life just happened because they were supposed to…

I don’t know if that’s making much sense. Sorry if I’m unclear. I have yet to be able to describe it well to any T also, so I don’t think I communicated that correctly…

kinda like a kid who gets beaten every day just because – they grow up expecting that to always happen because it HAS always happened… no real judgement, just acceptance.

That’s what si has been like for me. The judgement has always come from the outside.

anyone else feel that way?

(weirdest sense of deja-vu writing this just now… I had formatted this exact post this exact way some “when” ago… It floated to the surface as I was finishing the post. Sometimes I remember things that are happening in the present as if I had been through them before. Sometimes it’s a dream I’m remembering, other times it’s a memory, but I know it’s not the first time I had done the exact thing in the exact way… only it was… time is fluid whether we care to acknowledge it or not)…

the power of distraction in therapy (some potentially triggering stuff in here too – nightmares, relatively graphic self injury talk…)

I was again reminded how much a slight distraction can help me open up in therapy.  De and I were covering some tough stuff (expected) so I brought a coloring book (I couldn’t find our crayons at home, but she came through on that front).  I think I had half expected her to read the stuff I had written to her.  Maybe I had even hoped she would read it before session, even though I consciously wanted to challenge myself to be able to disclose it verbally.  I was going to struggle through telling her about the content of the entry, so I brought the minion coloring book.  I also started off joking as we walked in (not my normal presentation, but I tend to use humor to off-set an uncomfortable situation) and she kept the laughter rolling into the beginning of the session.  I do much better with heavy subjects when they are offset by humor and distraction, so I was pleased she was willing to keep it going.  Then she broke it to me that she decided to see if I had written anything new this week.  She said she had not had a chance to read it all because she had not left herself much time.  She said she skimmed the entry, but there were some things that stuck out to her.  She wanted to leave it up to me if there was any way I had wanted to direct the conversation.  My head was still catching up with the fact that she had decided to check on her own if I had written anything.  I told her that I did not want to alert her to the entry because I had wanted to see if I could tell her about it, but I had wanted to leave it accessible to her in case I could not succeed in doing so.  I began nervously flipping through the coloring book as I told her I would let her direct things (I was suddenly way too flustered to do anything meaningful).  I settled on a picture and we began to talk.  She covered the main points she wanted addressed (coincidentally the same ones I had wanted to talk about), and I was able to give my honest responses to some of her question.  I found myself censoring less when I was concentrating on finding just the correct yellow for the minion.  The veil of self-consciousness was there, but not as inhibiting as it normally is.  A lot of the stuff that floats through my thoughts never makes it past my lips.  This time, some of the stuff that I really needed to say managed to come out.

She called me on my topic-shifting and avoiding some of the touchier things.  I think I was still able to laugh it off and switch back to what she was looking to hear about because my head was still playful from my humor earlier on.  Anyway, I managed to get back to talking about the important stuff.  The session flew by again… I think I made eye contact once or twice, but that’s ok.  It’s much easier to talk without eye contact.  Growing up, I was trained to look away.  Looking at someone was considered disrespectful, unless of course you were in trouble, then you had to look to make sure they knew you understood the gravity of the situation…

We covered self-injury.  We talked about it in terms of the addiction to it (I had mentioned the addiction in my entry, and she concurred).  She had me describe my “relationship” with it.  That was a concept I couldn’t really grasp though, and don’t think I managed to describe it in the manner she had asked… I skipped a lot of years, and she called me on it.  I back-tracked and tried to cover the main points…  When she asked where the initial introduction to cutting came from, I explained that I did not really remember, but knew I had written about it years ago.  I started to tell her the story of the table (the one I only remember because I had read it over and over again).  She asked if I had been introduced to self harm by someone else, or if it had just appeared as a coping mechanism randomly on it’s own.  That’s when I remembered my old recurring nightmare.  I told her of the dream where a guy came into our house, but it was also a mall.  He was killing people.  My aunt pulled me into the little bathroom at the front of the house and closed the door in hopes of hiding.  He shot her several times through the door, then sat me on the sink.  He used a Swiss Army knife to start carving intricate patterns into my legs.  That always signified the end of the dream.  When she asked, I could not remember if anyone around me had ever hurt themselves like that, but I thought not.  I think I may have been 5 or 6 when I started having that dream.  It lasted for many, many years.  I did not start hurting myself until I was about 13 or 14 though.  I was reminded of it at about that age when one of the times I accidentally walked into the corner of the table, it suddenly stopped the inner turmoil.  She had suggested that the physical pain stopped the emotional.  I had to think about that for a second.  I never feel pain when I self-harm.  If it starts to hurt, I don’t follow through.  It’s only ever accomplished if there is no pain with it.  I think I may register the pain at some level, but it’s never consciously felt.  I think it’s just the body shock of pain receptors going off that quiets my mind.   And nothing else works as immediately and as completely as self harm does, even when it’s not working as it should (back to the addiction piece).  Much like a substance addict, cutting is always “chasing a high” so to speak.  I almost always need more than the previous time, and more intensity, just to get the same relief.  If it’s pretty bad, then I need it more intensely and more often.  That last really bad time, I was cutting about every 15 minutes.  The only reason I paused that time was because the blood stopped and it frustrated the hell out of me that I could not get more to materialize (kinda happens when you lose a lot of your volume)… But I digress.  I told De this in somewhat more detail, but still have difficulty talking about it too graphically (mostly out of shame).  It was validating to hear her responses to some of what I said, but I also worried that at times I said too much.  Having been on both sides of the desk (and assuming others can be as empathetic as myself), I did not want to give too much detail with a lot of it.  I know being there for it caused a lot of trauma to a lot of people, I don’t want to increase that number just in the re-telling.


She gave me homework to do, but I’m suddenly drawing a blank as to what it is… needs! that’s it.  We had talked about my difficulty in asking for help because I don’t always know what I need when I reach out (ok, I rarely know what I need when I’m reaching out) so I just don’t do it.  She wants me to collage what it is that I need (or draw, or express in some way).  I tried to get out of it by saying I’m pretty sure it will turn dark.  She countered by telling me to make multiple pictures then, one that expresses my needs, and one that takes care of the darkness.  I’m still horribly unsure of where to even start with my needs, but I’m pretty sure I could cover a million pages in the darkness.  How do you even figure out what your needs are?  How do you represent that?  I honestly don’t know what I need beyond safety (physical and emotional).  That’s the only time I do know how to ask for help: when I desperately need physical safety and it’s about time to go to the hospital.  Outside of that, I don’t know what my needs are.  Support – What does that look like?  Peace – Can someone else even provide that?  What does a normal person need when they are in distress?  I grew up knowing only that my most basic need for safety was not met.  The people I turned to for safety either did not come through with it, or ended up leaving in the long run.  I don’t know what else to look for… This will be a really difficult assignment.

Sorry, I’m getting distracted, I’m waiting at a coffee shop for L to be done with her activity.  I love this place.  It’s chill and friendly and always has something fun on tv.  Tonight it’s Modern Family… I’ve never seen it before, but know the general premise.  It’s quite funny at times, so it has me looking up and losing my train of thought.

little shards of triggers scattered about the “maybe” garden, watch your step… **tiggers**

wishing therapy was tomorrow and not Tuesday… it feels so far away, though I am not sure what I hope to get out of it.  Mental quiet? or a place to tie up the loose ends left unfurled from Friday? maybe put things back into their neat little boxes in the back of my emotional closet?  Or maybe it’s all of the above, as well as a validation again that shit will fall apart before it gets better.

Maybe it’s that I want to make my pictures come true, but that would be a poor choice, so I need to tell someone about it.  Maybe it’s that I need to find someone who is not wrapped up in all that is daily life.  Maybe I just need a safe place to rest while I catch my breath from all this running to escape my head.  Her office is a quiet place.  As hectic as emotions can get in there, it still feels safe to go there in that room.  It’s dim and comfortable and safe… It reminds SJ of her closet.  Or maybe that’s just how we see a safe place: dark and quiet and soft.  She was summoned a week ago, and I think she now feels safe enough to come out, but only there.  She’s so fucking sad.  And the other is desperate.  And it feels all separate, but all together at one time.  The compartments only meld sometimes.  The wall cracks, or the screens are down, or the ice melts, or whatever you want to call it, but it only happens sometimes.  I don’t want to be trapped back there, but it’s nice to have some congruence between the conscious and unconscious.   There really is a lot that goes on behind the scenes all the time, but I only ever know the details when I’m let in… kinda like peeking behind a heavy curtain – you could hear the muffled conversations before, but now you see the whole stage and know what’s really happening.

Why is it that music has to reflect the inside?  It enhances the experience; brings a beginning, middle, and end.  It allows the walls to disappear for a while.  Everything has its own soundtrack though it can change over time and slight shifts in mood.  Why is it that music depicting situations reminiscent of the past bring comfort, even when it’s not necessarily a comforting song?  What is it about the music and lyrical combinations that lull the panic?  Why does a song about abuse, or self harm, or suicide, or rape bring such relief to the chaos?  The only thing I can think of is the definite course of the song – there’s no threat of being lost in it forever because the song always comes to an end; there’s always an out.  Real life is not like that.  Real emotions are not like that.  They float and coalesce around you.  They take over and drown you. Music gives it all an end.  But that doesn’t explain why those types of songs are comforting.  I get that they keep things from lasting, but why go with enhancing the emotions in the first place?  Is it relating to the music?

Did I ever mention that, while growing up, I always imagined myself with an abusive military husband?  I don’t know where the image came from, it was just always there.  I would fantasize about having the crap beaten out of me by my husband.  He was always in uniform, and we were always on some military base.  I always just took the beatings,  sick fantasies.  Fantasies are supposed to be positive.  Mine never were, just a bunch of daydreaming about abuse (I used to call them “daymares”).  No one ever helped in the fantasies.  It was just what I deserved in them.  Maybe being military gave my brain more of an excuse to have him be so abusive?  And it was always a fantasy of being married to a man, though I never felt love for whomever he was… I think even then I knew I was gay, just didn’t really acknowledge that to myself (the times I can remember playing house as a kid, there was never a husband, just “friends” living together and the husbands were always gone away or simply non-existent – dependent on the other girl’s preferences).

I have other “daymares” these days… they suck equally badly, though differently. Again, no real relief in a timely manner (if at all).  I don’t consciously fall into them these days, but they come up if my mind wanders.  They are not flashbacks, because none of them have actually happened, but more like very vivid daydreams.  Flashbacks happen too, but they are more emotional these last few months (they have tamed themselves in visual and auditory content, but not at all on the emotional front). Wait.  (in Gru’s voice) Liiiight-bulb!  THAT’s what went on today!  I thought it was all out of no-where, but I’m pretty sure it all connects to the past in a huge way.  When I explained it to L earlier, I told her it was just all the stuff piling up. It really was.  Gotta love finding explanations for seemingly trigger-less things.  I just have to figure out what the triggers to it were (most likely the mounting feelings of inadequacy, frustration, depression, and resentments).  The image of huge iron bars on all the windows and doors had come up earlier in the week, and intensified after therapy on Friday.  Maybe knowing that will dampen the effects for the rest of the night.  And maybe it will help quell the self-harm urges (the desire to see blood is insanely intense today… lots of it.  The desire  to have it almost all drain out is very prevalent, but not acting on any of it).  The desire to be high is also really strong.  I wish I had access to hallucinogenic herbs, or at least quality pot… I miss the feeling it gave.  I miss the floating and detachment and happiness (it felt so genuine and un-tethered to the depression).  They wonder why so many mental health issues run comorbid with substance use/abuse… that stuff works better than any meds they provide (and some have fewer side effects).

Fuck, all the emotions and urges are a huge jumble again.  I had hoped my realization that it is all an emotional flashback would help lessen the blow.  It did for about 5 minutes.  Everything’s back now.  I wish I had called out of volunteering for tomorrow.  I’m not sure I will be in the head-space to be useful.  Generally, when the walls crumble and the awareness blends, I become wholly useless.

Anyway, speaking of volunteering, I should try to sleep so I can pretend to be useful tomorrow… and maybe it will make the day go faster so I can get to my appointment on Tuesday already.  I was going to just show her this entry, but I’m not totally sure I want to do that now… We will see.

First art therapy session

So, I did my first a.t. session with De today.  I think I may like it.  There will be stuff to talk about after the piece is done. It made time go by way too fast, and I didn’t feel like I said enough, but I was able to say some things I don’t think I would have said to her if “all eyes were on me” so to speak.  I can say things easier when I think someone is not totally focused on me.  It’s less intense and less scary that way. I will have to tell her that.  Then, even if the room is booked, maybe I can sketch or color or something if there’s stuff I need to talk about but can’t… I also have other creative juices flowing, so I will be working on some of that later today. I think I have an idea for the piece I’m doing there, but think I will need more time for this detailed part, so I may do it at home and bring it with me on Friday. Speaking of Friday, I was able to ask for extra support around everything we talked about as well as the increasing depression… so a measure of creative distraction is good.  I refrained from putting an element into the painting today, but maybe the courage will happen next time.
Speaking of a.t. prompts, there was an fb image that I saw.  It asked what you would look like if you looked into a mirror and saw your character instead of just your physical reflection.  I will have to work on that at some point too…

Took a break from writing this, so apologies if it comes out choppy. After walking the dogs and taking to L, I decided to sit and draw some more. Came up with a better version of what I was trying to do with De today. It’s still not finished, but it’s more of what I wanted. Not sure I want to post it just yet. I think I want to talk to her about it. I am slowly remembering how to draw (or maybe just being more lenient with myself, not really sure). I think I need to pick up drawing again on a more regular basis.

De had asked to see some of my older stuff because I had told her I was decent at drawing way back when. I don’t have any of my work down here with me, so I will have to show her the stuff off the web (I have a lot of it online at an art forum site. I’m not posting a link tho because it’s a little less anonymous than here. Also, I’m not ready to connect a lot of that work with here). I think my art had mostly been therapeutic in value, Just never formal art therapy (at least after I honed my skills). I prefer realistic stuff, so much of it was copying images or drawing objects. I used to be half-decent at portraiture. I totally envy people that can do photorealistic work. I wish I had the eye for it. I just haven’t mastered that skill yet. I can pick up on a lot of small details and transform them to paper, but I still miss a lot. I lack a lot of dimension in my work. I also often lack backgrounds (too involved. I’m usually creatively/technically spent by the time I get to the background stage). I also rarely go back to a drawing after putting my pencil down for the day. There’s a weird need to do it all in one sitting. I used to be able to crank out a portrait in 30 minutes, but there were many flaws. Looking back, I should have not tried to finish everything in one season. Also, I’m still learning to be ok with erasing. I think it changes the paper finish, and makes the new sketch texturally different than the rest. I’m noticing that with today’s drawing…

Anyway. Enough about how I used to be good. I just need to practice. Maybe it will help relieve my symptoms.

Something that came out of this drawing, I picture myself much different than I am. My inner self is skinny/fit and pretty. My true self:not so much.

I’m strangely relaxed tonight. Let’s see, what was different? I spoke honestly to De. I talked to L a bit more in depth. We walked the dogs. I’m drawing and listening to music. I’ve given myself permission to find different ways to release stress. And I asked for extra support from De… guess all that added to some relief. My thoughts are still dark, but I’m not so alone with them.

That’s enough chatter from me. Peace. (Pieces). SJ.

More of the same

Today’s session was… I don’t even know.  I was all over the place.  She tried to get me to focus on things, but I kept jumping topics.

I wish I could learn to stop talking in metaphor. I think I would be able to communicate much better that way. But some stuff is just too scary to say outright, so I do the best I can with the words I can say. I was able to tell De what I had written last night: that I love my life but hate my head.  She tried to get me to figure out what it would be like to be out of my head. I think she might want to strangle me at times because I can’t figure things out.  I have no real idea what it would look like to not be stuck internally all the time.  I don’t know what it’s like not to have an escape plan at all times. I don’t know what it feels like without an underlying depression. I know D would say that I may not have felt that way in the past, but it’s not an indicator of the future. I was able to parrot that to De. I also told her that I’m not sure I believe it though.  We talked some about some CBT techniques, and tried to pinpoint what it would take to get me to start to change my thinking. I would start to tell her my experiences with various CBT ideas and then get distracted and talk about something else.  She tried her best to keep me on topic. She also mentioned a few times that to be able to get me out of my head, we will likely need to go deeper in first. Oh, I was also able to express my concerns over her idea of distraction being really good and a sign that I am doing ok. I told her about the stuff that always goes on in the background and how I’m able to function even while falling apart.  It was a survival skill back in the day.  Now it just serves to keep me from getting what I need because I look totally together from the outside. I think she knew what I meant when I said that.  She again underscored telling her if I needed the extra support. That’s when the speaking in metaphor screwed me up again. I’m on that edge where I could likely use the added support, but don’t desperately need it right now (though that could change over time). I wasn’t quite able to be direct about that.  I always worry about being too much and asking for too much. It keeps me from asking for anything most of the time. It also keeps me from accepting help when it’s offered. My mom said she would fill out the Medicaid application for me if I wanted her help.  The stubborn and independent part of me rejected the offer, though I have no motivation or energy to do it on my own.  I just don’t want to be more of a bother than I already am…

Anyway,  De and I also talked about the ever-present depression and suicidal ideation.  Well, I tried to explain it to her a bit, but again I got off topic pretty fast. We ended on the idea of trying art therapy next week.  She will try to get the room, but if it’s booked, we will just do regular stuff. I know I need a better way to express all this.  I’m hoping the art therapy prompts work…

The anxiety about falling asleep is back.  This time I’m worried that I will not be able to fall asleep (though I’m pretty tired right now, my brain is in over-drive), or I won’t sleep well, or I won’t be able to wake up in time. More likely, I will be really tired come morning and having to take the puppy out when L leaves for work just wakes me up. I manage to be unable to fall back asleep until about the time I have to wake up. It’s really frustrating.   Tonight I stayed up because I had to finish a photo book layout so we can order it tomorrow (the day the offer for getting it free expires). I just have to have L take a look at what I did and see if she likes it or wants to change anything.  Then we place the order. I really like the way they come out through shutterfly. The paper and printing is quality (unlike some others I’ve seen), and the software on their site is pretty easy to use. I’m excited to see how this book turns out.  The last one we got (last year for mothers day through a promotion Ellen was running) was awesome.  This one is shaping up to be really cool also. I have one other offer for a free book through Best Buy because of some recent purchases.  I think that one will be a wedding book that L and I put together.  We have one from a friend which is really cool, but this way we can put a story to it also.

Ok.  I should try to sleep now.  My brain is all over the place, but I think I can get it to slow down if I stop trying to write…

I wish you could meet her

Take the third line of the last song you heard, make it your post title, and write for a maximum of 15 minutes. (POD Truly Amazing). (idea taken from hastywords)

I wish you could meet her, that little one inside. She’s shy though… She hides behind walls and blades and in the fog. It used to be a scary place, but now the fog is comforting. It’s all she’s known for so long.

I came to bed tonight at the same time my wife did. The anxiety did not come, but anger rose in me as I got closer to the room. I’m suddenly cranky and want to cry for no reason (though I did accidentally break the marble candle holder I had made a few weeks ago. I very nearly cried when that happened. I will have to put it together again with different glue). Anyway, I’m all over the place and I don’t really have a reason for it.

Something in me wants to run away crying. I’m confused by it. There is definitely a dread connected to going to bed at night. I just have no idea why it’s there. I don’t have nightmares I remember anymore. Some days I wake up with an anxious feeling, but I don’t remember much by way of dream content, so I can’t blame it on that. There has to be something that brings on this anxiety, but what?? I see De tomorrow morning, maybe we can talk about it more (likely she will do most of the talking).  J asked today if there was any abuse or anything connected to going to bed. There’s nothing I remember. I know the guy at the parties was at bedtime, but I don’t remember any of that, and it was a whole different house, different country even. I can’t picture that being the reason for this feeling.

I think I may try to sleep to music tonight. I feel like crying, but I don’t want to, and music helps keep that at bay. J asked L about something in session today, and L said that when she fears I am slipping away, she gets more anxious and demanding and clingy. The one concept that sticks out in my head is L saying how frustrating it is when I tell her something’s brewing inside, but I don’t tell her what it is. I’m not sure if I said it out loud or not, but I don’t always know what it is myself, so I can’t possibly tell her… I feel like that will be another issue tonight, as I’m writing that something is bothering me, but not saying what it is (because I don’t know what it is). How can you possibly tell someone something you have no grasp on yourself. This is why it’s so hard for me to open up… I can say something is wrong, but I have no answers to the questions of “what” and “why”.

Again there is so much ground to cover with De, and we will likely only get to one tiny part. The rest will be tabled for the next session (by which time it will be over-shadowed by something else). I feel I need more sessions or more support to be able to address everything that comes up and that is important. I always have a week of needing to talk about so much, but never get to it.

Randomly during couple’s therapy today, I suddenly had the urge to cut my arms. I haven’t done that in years, so the urge is baffling. I know I had made note of its occurrence, but I can’t remember what we were talking about that might have brought the urge on. Again, more questions and concern with no answers in sight. Maybe it was the name thing; that is what was triggering with De last week… but maybe it was the talk of the anxiety before bed. I’m not sure. It’s probably all related, but I can’t figure out why just yet.

I hate the sketchy nature of all these symptoms. I hate that I only ever run into more questions when searching for the answers. When do I actually hit some answers and solutions? I’m so tired of all this.

When I first started writing this, I had simultaneous ideas in my head. One was to write a story on wishing you could meet the little girl lost inside (I thought of saying “me” or “the girl I used to be” but both of those also brought up a weird inner cringe). Another was a wish to introduce SJ.  Another was to introduce the person I had been (or thought I was)… all of that fizzled though. I don’t know who to introduce with this, so I will just call it a day and end here. The person I once was seems to have never been, so you can’t be introduced….

Journal entry from 11/15/2010 – TRIGGER WARNING & LONG

Found a few journal entries from a few years ago.  I’m afraid I may lose them in my email, so I’ll be putting them here.  Many will be private, but some I may make public… I’m far-enough removed from the experiences to risk putting them out there…  I may make this one private shortly, but for the moment it’s out there for everyone to read.
This one has some graphic descriptions of SI, a suicide attempt, eating disorder behavior, and details of sexual assault… please don’t read it if it will trigger you.
Names have been removed and replaced with initials to maintain anonymity.  Spelling errors have been fixed, but the rest has been left in tact in the form that was sent to my therapist at the time.
had a good day.  signed c’s lease.  we will be moving in around dec 1st… it’ll be a bit weird, but whatever… we need to get out of here, so it’s a step up.. and cheaper over-all then here…
I feel like I should be writing something, but I am not sure what.  Been feeling weird lately.  wanting to take klonpin during the day instead of how it’s prescribed… wanting to drink… wanting to float away.  not as off as I was feeling last week… seem to have alighted on a branch somewhere on my way down.  kinda like that I didn’t take a huge fall.  i can’t afford it; financially, emotionally & in terms of our relationship… it would just be too much for her…  I have fleeting thoughts of od’ing… thoughts of crashing the car, or jumping out in front of a train… just thoughts… and just fleeting.  but fleeting thoughts can sometimes lead to impulsive actions.  I’m not going to go down that road any more… i’m wearing everyone around me out… i’m too much.  too much drama, too much emotion, too much to handle…  I really wish L would get some more support for herself, and use it regularly… she’s frying out her friends and supports and me… it’s a catch-22… I stress her out & she stresses me out in response to my stressing… and it just cycles.  I got her in touch with a therapist in Dr. C’s office, but she only went once and didn’t even call about being sick for the second session, I had to do that… i hope she goes back to her.  she needs more then I or her friends can give her.  and she needs to learn more about depression and ptsd and suicidality…  I can’t teach her that, because I am too wrapped up in it…
I miss Samantha Jane.  she was only with me for a short time (well, she had been there for a while, but rarely showed herself.  just hid in the closet or in the fibers of the carpet…  Dr. C said she thought it may be some mild DID going on, but it wasn’t/isn’t… just someone I can picture loving, coz it’s hard to picture myself as a person during my childhood and much of my teens… I see pictures, but i don’t necessarily connect them to myself.  I try, but it’s hard.  it’s like memorizing what people have said about the events in the picture to know what to say when someone asks what was happening then… I have no real memory of it, just the stories I’ve been told… it’s sad… and empty-feeling, like I’ve just now become worthy of person-hood… but still at the bottom of the ladder…  not totally a whole person, but on my way there… that’s where Samantha Jane should have come in… giving me some link to the world of being a human…  i felt sub-human (proto-human as Andy would call it) for most of my life.  this is a very new feeling.  i don’t think anyone really gets it.  I don’t really know how to describe it to anyone.  It’s just that before I was empty and just a shell… now I’m slowly trying to fill up that shell with something that vaguely resembles a human being… but it’s hard.  I feel like that wire statue that someone has filled with wet sand.  while the sand is moist, it holds the shape.  as the sand dries, it falls out of that form, turning into a pile at her feet.  I’ve wanted to make that piece for a long time now, I just don’t really know how to execute it.  I’ve never really done wire-work before.. and I don’t know how to keep wetting and drying out the sand… it’s a fluid piece that needs that slow progression from emptiness to form to a pile of sand at her feet…  Maybe if i figured out the wire-work, then took a video of the process of filling her up, moistening the sand, then letting it dry… that might work… but I really like the idea of an actual piece that you can see and touch… feel the sand, both wet & dry… pick up the piece in both states and get the metaphor of the feeling… but I will likely sit in my head for a longer while until I gain the skills to produce it.  I wish i was better at my art.  I wish I didn’t take the easy way out with photographs lately… but I just can’t draw anymore.  I can’t paint… it’s all left me.  I try, but nothing looks right… nothing feels right when I’m done… except those pieces from the hospital (and even out of those, I only liked a few).  I need to take a class or something… join a group… anything to get me flowing in art again.  pics are great, but I feel like they take less and less creativity… eventually, everyone’s photos all look the same… even on dA where people are supposed to be growing and finding unique and new ways to present the subject… it’s all really the same.  all the fall pics look alike.  you can’t tell one sunrise from another… even in my own work.  I don’t feel there’s much originality to it…
Speaking of work on dA… I read some moving journals and notes…  they were on recent suicides of people… everyone seems to know how to describe the Hollywood version of it, the romanticized version of suicide where it all goes well and you never have second thoughts… truth is, you do, and it doesn’t always all go as planned.  If it did, i wouldn’t be here today.  I would have died that time with N… No one ever recognizes the second-guessing part.  I don’t even think therapists get it (unless maybe they’ve been there and tried it…).  There’s that momentary feeling of fear and being trapped by your decision… even though you have only made the decision to end your life by yourself, you’ve only committed to doing it to yourself, you somehow feel trapped in that decision… I hadn’t even started taking the pills, but I felt compelled to go through with it, even though I was frightened and unsure… I felt like I had to do it… so I started taking the pills, and the fear slipped away.  I was once again ok (not sure, but ok) with my decision… I didn’t know what to do after I swallowed them all… would I just wait?  would I know what was happening? would I just fall asleep and never wake up?  I grabbed Beary and my iPod on repeat with Breaking Benjamin’s “Phobia” and curled up under the blanket hoping that it would all be quick… I don’t remember stumbling out of bed and throwing up… I don’t remember N finding me.  I don’t remember the ride to the hospital, or having my stomach pumped and charcoal dumped down a tube into my stomach.  I don’t remember getting the IV’s.  I don’t remember watching tv with N and laughing as if nothing had happened… as if I wasn’t in the ICU for a suicide attempt… I don’t even remember the first 20 times my doctor introduced herself to me… (this was all told to me after the fact).  I vaguely remember floating in a soft cloud… someone smacking my hand because it was going for the IV again… someone telling me I would be restrained if I didn’t leave my IV alone… me telling them my arm hurt… them reminding me I had IV’s… vague memories of being tied to the bed… of being talked around and at by the nurses and the visitors (though I have no idea who visited or who my doctors or nurses were…) It was all just a fluffy dream… the impact of not having taken my life did not sink in until I was in IOL…  I became angry at N & those that “helped save my life” because I did not want to be saved… I wanted to put an end to the depression, hurt and emptiness… the worthlessness and chaos inside my head… the feeling of being left alone in this world, because I wasn’t worth the energy to fight to keep me… I had lost someone every time I had gone to the hospital… you think I would have figured it out by then… by now… but it still hits me sometimes… in the car yesterday, L was saying how she never thought she’d be so poor that she would have to go to a food pantry to get food into the house… that she never thought she’d be this sad… in my head, I thought that none of this would have happened if she never had gotten to know me.  If we had never talked that first night… she would be so much better off if she wasn’t with me… if she was with someone stable and caring and easy-going and so much better then me.  she deserves that.  everyone deserves that.  I am not sure why anyone considers me worth a second glance.  I guess I know why when I put on my smile and my happy face… but I don’t know why anyone would want to know me when I’m a mess… which is a lot these days… and people still think I am worth attention… I don’t really get it.  My dad thinks all of this is for attention… all of this is to get away from the attention.  to hide and float away from myself and everyone else.  I threw out M’s pot…  I should have kept it, even though I know it would have messed me up for the next few days, and that I can get better stuff if I just ask around… I want to drink or take pills or something to get me away from myself… but the bad part about it all is that it’s only temporary, and i will “wake up” to myself once the substance wears off… sucks… I wish there was a way to be high all the time, without ruining my life, my relationship, or having all the detrimental effect of substances… cutting does that, but again it’s only for a while… disassociation helps that, but then I end up missing life and just getting myself deeper into a hole… and I want to be present for L & the kids… I want to know and feel them… but at times, being numb would feel great… and not that kind of numb where you know something’s bubbling just under the surface, destined to break out… but the kind of numb where the bad feelings go away, and you are left with the normal, even mood that most normal people experience… where memories don’t intrude daily, and nightmares are about monsters under the bed, not in your bed with you.  agh… I want to cut… I want to float away… I want to be at peace… not pieces… I’m afraid to bring this up to L or Dr. C because I’m not suicidal… and I don’t want to go there (or maybe i really am more comfortable in the blackness and push myself there deliberately…).  I know I should want to be happy, and part of me really does want to leave all this behind… but there’s another part of me that feels really uncomfortable and out of place in a happy world.  she’s the part of me that survived so much… dealt with so much… and gave up so much… she’s the child that Samantha Jane represents… she’s the one who just wants to stop hurting and being scared, but has been like that for so long, that the outside world really scares her… she doesn’t know what to do with it all.  it’s overwhelming and troublesome because the ways she learned to survive all this time doesn’t work there, and she has to learn a whole new way of life… maybe that’s why she ran away… maybe she just doesn’t have the energy to learn it all just yet… maybe she’s really just hiding under the blanket with Beary listening to her iPod to keep her company… music and art have always been comfort to her… and Floppy-dog… I really miss her… I so wanted Budda because he looks and acts like her, though intellectually I know he isn’t her… he just brought me & Samantha Jane comfort… another throw-back to what works… I love Sadie & Alex, but it’s just not the same… there was something very special about Flops… and I think part of it had to do with the situations we were living though.  She did the best she could to protect me, mom & A & K from dad & bitch… she took a lot of abuse for it… but she somehow felt responsible to do it… like I felt responsible to take care of everyone to make it all better… and neither of us succeeded… both Floppy and I ended up just getting more hurt the more we tried… I miss her so much.  And she reminds me of Kl… I miss her too though I’ve been slowly realizing that she wasn’t as great as I remember… she was abusive in her own way… but she also protected us in so many ways.  T tried too… he stayed away from my dad unless he had to physically intervene to protect us… and he stayed away from A because he did not want to end up like his family and abuse him… he really was a good man… but so tortured and protective.  I think that’s why he and K fought so many times… he hated to see dad being abusive to us… he rarely said anything, and was always “a grouch”… but I think that’s how he protected himself from feeling too helpless in protecting us.  I don’t know… nor will I ever know for sure… but i guess that’s my fantasy of him, because I needed to have some sort of positive role-model in my family… everyone else took part in the fights and abuse… everyone else was caught in the mix.  He made sure to stay out of it the best he could…
I feel sad and longing for a real sense of self… longing to have SJ back to be able to assure her and protect her like I couldn’t do with everyone else… like I couldn’t do with myself even with duck-boy… mom even called one time because she thought something was wrong… because she had heard me call out in her head, and needed to make sure I was ok.  I had thought about her helping me just then, but I couldn’t grab the phone, and he wouldn’t leave me alone… to keep him happy, I didn’t tell mom anything, just sat there while he touched me and groped me and told me it all wasn’t sexual… he would lock his bedroom door even when no one was around.  He made sure I always wore short shorts around him so he could feel me whenever he wanted… he would zip open his pants and rub himself on me… but it wasn’t anything sexual… we had intercourse in his parent’s pool… but it wasn’t sexual because we both had our bathing suits on… he put his fingers inside me when we sat on the couch babysitting his little brother… but it wasn’t sexual… he made me dry-hump his erect penis, but it wan’t sexual because we had our clothes on… he made me suck his penis… stroke him and feel him and lick him and fondle him until he came, but it wasn’t sexual… I can feel his fingers touching me and making way for his penis… i can feel him inside me still as I write this.  the memories are strong and painful… it was painful… i remember crying inside, and wishing the date would end so I could go home and curl up… so i could wash him off of me… but I kept going back… for months I kept going back… then he graduated and I thought I’d be free of him when he went away to FSU… it was far enough away, and he would meet other girls… but in reality he called me every night to “chat” which was really checking up on me and grilling me on what I had been doing all day, who I was with, and what I thought about.  Did I miss him?  Did I think of him every second of the day?  Did I know he was coming home this weekend and he wanted me to spend the night at his parent’s place with him…?  We did more sexual acts on those weekends then we had ever done before.  He’d claim it wasn’t sexual, but by then I knew better… I had lost my total submission to him… when he went back to school, I would talk to J and try to find a way to get out of the relationship.  She would even offer me to stay at her house the weekends he was home… but he would come looking for me, so I declined.  I tried to break up with him for months… every time he said he loved me and that we could make it work and that he couldn’t go on without me… the day after he gave me a suicide note, I had J call his school and report it… he got SO mad at me for it… even though I just wanted to protect his life… he said if I really cared about him and wanted him to live, I would not break up with him… so I stayed a few more months, all the time half-assed trying to break up with him… them finally he came home for the summer, and I told him I did not want to see him anymore.  He yelled at me over the phone.  When I hung up, he drove over in the middle of the night crying, begging me to take him back… J and I had written out a script for just this occasion… I kept reading it back to him.  he kept begging me and threatening his life… finally,I told him he had to leave or my mom would call the cops (told him she was there with me, in the bedroom, and if he didn’t leave by 1am, she would call the police)… it made him leave… at least for then.  he kept trying to get back together, but I don’t remember much of that… My anorexia got worse… I started cutting while I was with him… he pretended to care… i pretended to care… but I really didn’t care about anything but being afraid to gain weight… afraid to keep living.  I didn’t remember this part (the early start of the cutting and suicidal ideation) until I read a profile I had written for a website a college student & I had started together… it was supposed to be a peer-run support site for teens and young adults… I vaguely remember doing it for about a year and a half, then it fading away as she & I both got busier (though I think it was mostly her…).  we dropped updating the site and checking the email… so the site closed down… and as I was cleaning to pack today, I found a rough draft of that profile… i didn’t remember that everything had started that early… I know the eating disorder started after K died, and increased significantly while I was with duck-boy… I went from a size 13-14 to a size 3 in a matter of a few months… the woman I babysat for kept asking me if I was losing weight… I kept saying no, coz at the time it wasn’t about the weight, it was just a sub-conscious attempt to deal with life… if I could only fade away, nothing could hurt me anymore… then the cutting started… as scratches with a pin at first for a long time… about the first two years or so of my bout with self-injury remained at scratching with pins, paper clips & keys… that night at the play, when I got no recognition at all for my work behind the scenes, I ran out the back and grabbed the car keys from my pocket.  I scratched my arm so long and hard behind the building that my entire left arm was a huge raw bruise for the next few weeks… I remember G coming after me when I ran out of the auditorium, but not finding me till later… she caught me scratching, but didn’t tell on me… she scratched too… that was the first time I had encountered anyone else that did it. As the months progressed, and my anorexia got worse, J called my parents to tell them about it b/c she was scared for me… my dad said that I was just doing it for attention, and hung up the phone… I had made J promise to call me back after she had spoken to my parents… she told me how it went… i am not sure what else happened, but I remember searching like mad for something to scratch with and only finding scissors… that was my graduation to cutting… she never told them about that though… One time when I got back from Kairos and felt really depressed, I called her and left her a scary message (so she says… I didn’t mean anything by it other then being really tired and wanting an out…)  I went to a Kairos post-event that night, and she almost ended up calling the cops on me because she thought I had tried to kill myself. She had called my mom first though, and she told J that I was at the Kairos thing… later that night J called me and told me how scared I had made her, and that I shouldn’t do that again… so I only left her happy messages after that.  She still knew I was sad and hurting, but we only talked about that stuff in her office… I kept my nightly despair to myself…  She saved my life in so many ways… if she and her boyfriend hadn’t been so caring and helpful, I would have died a long time ago… I forgot I had tried to kill myself then… but it was only a mild overdose if anything… not even enough to make me sleepy… how is it that I forgot all this until writing it?  it’s all coming back to me.  that night after the play, the stays at J’s… the panic of gaining weight again (once it finally became about the weight, and no longer just a method of control),  the vomiting…  the half-spoon of fruit baby food or yogurt that I could barely force down because it felt too much (slowly trying to kill myself with starvation).  It’s funny, I lost so much weight, and refused to eat so blatantly, yet no one noticed except Mrs. K (the woman whose sons I babysat).  Her & J… but J gave up on my parent’s helping me (she had tried so many times) that she just referred me herself to Renfrew for a support group (you had to have been in the hospital before to get out-patient or in-patient treatment…) and then my parents would have to realize I had a problem that was deeper then attention-seeking… so I stuck to the support groups… mom actually came with me a few times… then dad yelled at both of us for wasting gas and time… so we stopped going, and that was the end of my treatment till i came to UConn…  That part is where my memory gets better…
Wow, that was a dump… maybe I should send this to Dr. C and maybe she will have time to read it by tomorrow… (please tell me if you mind that I sent this to you)…

behavioral observations

I have a knack for working with animals… and people.  I have found that my success comes from careful (and often unconscious) observation.  When I worked in animal control in college, I was the worker with the reputation for being able to handle and calm aggressive and anxious dogs and cats.  I would take the time to watch them and pay attention to their reactions to things.  Most of the aggression came from fear, so I would volunteer my time and sit with the animals for hours on end, alternately talking to them and just going about my business nearby.  I instinctively made my posture non-aggressive (see, leaning to tip-toe around abusive and explosive adults can help with something).  I brought animals out of their shells, and worked with them to mold the aggression into acceptable and wanted behaviors.

I have found that most aggression comes from fear.  The fear may be deeply rooted and hidden, but it’s almost always there.  I have found this true with my reptiles as well as my mammals.  I have a snake that will strike wildly whenever I go into her enclosure for any reason.  I am working on hook training her and getting her used to handling.  When she does not feel cornered or uncomfortable, she is a cuddle bug (yes, snakes do cuddle, they like the warmth after all).  By using less intimidating body language and actions, I can communicate to her that I will not try to eat her or harm her in any way.

I think the same is true for people.  I think we are either so wounded or so terrified of being wounded that we often lash out in anger.  I think the anger is a defense mechanism.  People don’t have time to get under your armor if you are busy throwing out spikes.  They can’t get close enough to hurt if you run around bearing your teeth and pushing everyone away.

I think this relates to self-harm in some ways.  Self-harm is a form of aggression, only against yourself.  It is the result of anger and fear turned on the body.  It can be preventative – no one can hurt me as much as I can hurt myself; I’m going to get hurt anyway, might as well get a jump on things.  It can also be reactive – I screwed that up, so I deserve to be punished for it.  Both inadvertently work to keep people at bay.  The concept of self-harm is a scary one.  Most people will cringe at the thought, and bolt at the sight of it. They will over- or under-react to the news, but rarely be helpful in their reactions at first.  Those of our family and friends that have dealt with it in the past react a little better (we have given them reading materials, access to our treaters, insights into our pain), but they still give distance, or at least that is what we hope – that is what I hope.  I don’t want questions about my scars.  I don’t want to launch into my story with everyone that notices.  Why write a blog you may ask?  Well, I still want to tell my story, but I like the measure of anonymity the internet provides.  I can give you glimpses of my inner crazy, and you won’t change your opinion of me if you see me on the street.  If you don’t look closely at my arms, you won’t guess that I struggle (ok, if I’m crying my eyes out, you may have a clue, but that’s rare, especially in public).  If you don’t see me on the psych unit, you wouldn’t know I can barely make it through a day without craving peace at least once.

Even those that know me rarely ask about the scars (we are trained to mind our own business, and I doubt they really want an honest answer).  They look past it.  It’s scary and dangerous to be let into a world that allows someone to do so much physical harm to themselves on purpose.  It keeps people from asking with any real honesty what my life is like.  They anticipate a drama, so they avoid the inquiry.

The long and short of it is that aggression is a defense mechanism, as is self-harm.  It keeps people away from the real you so they can’t reject you and confirm all that you fear about yourself (but in their distance, they confirm that you are not worth it, so it kind of just back-fires).

This train of thought was brought to you by the article I saw online this morning that named 3 small breed dogs as the most aggressive… It got me thinking about the roots of aggression, which lead me to the thoughts on self-harm… lots of branches, but really all the same tree

(I want to add also, that self-harm is not only engaged in for the reasons mentioned above, but they are some big ones.  It can also be relief, a grounding method.  It can be a visual and outward symbol of inward pain and turmoil.  For me, it is mainly a release and grounding method.  It also has the added benefit of being somewhat preventative in that I feel no one can ever hurt me more than I can physically hurt myself… it’s really figurative, because it doesn’t really hurt, and mostly it’s trying to prevent further emotional pain, but it has still been a reason in the past).

The story of Dotty: The Suicidal Rag Doll (possibly triggering drawings and story)

Dotty is my original image and concept.  Please do not use her without express written permission from me.  She is my story, and she holds a sacred place in my heart and head.  While I am putting her out here for all to see, she is still my private world, and I would like to keep her being respected throughout her journey… in short: hands off, she’s mine! 😉

Dotty is a sad little one… She came about during a hospitalization a few years ago and spilled out in a series of drawings.  The first is the most detailed and I spent the most time on it.  Her story started with a single sketch that I ended up spending over an hour on.  The rest came quicker and I struggled to keep the momentum going.  The drawings varied in detail, and most of the last ones lacked effort beyond the basic sketch of the idea (crappy shading and detail, hurried drawings to be able to move on to the next scene).  I had not drawn her for about 2 years, but picked her back up this past week in the hospital.   This time she was not suicidal, just sad and defeated.  I have 2 more elements to add to the scene before I call it finished, but I will post the last one then.  Most of the titles are song titles that fit the image, but the images don’t necessarily depict the lyrics.  The lack of backgrounds is as deliberate as it is lazy – much of my struggles are fought in the vacuum of my head.

Dotty is a suicidal rag doll.  She just can’t get it right. She has tried to kill herself many times, but always fails.  Maybe it’s because she is not truly alive that she cannot die… She parallels my struggles and journey to healing. While I have not attempted suicide as many times or in as many ways, Dotty brings to light the images that have floated through my head or events that have happened in my life either figuratively or literally.  I have never really strung together her story in any comprehensive way before, but this is my best interpretation of her.  I say this because, while she parallels my own story, and is rooted in it, she has a story of her own that I attempt to bring to life (or death) in my drawings.

The first time we meet Dotty: 1) Gravity

Dotty - Gravity

Dotty has tried to hang herself, but soon realizes that she doesn’t breathe, so suffocation will not work.  Also, she weighs about as much as a feather pillow… So much for that.  Next.

2) Bullet With Her Name on it

Dotty - Bullet_With_Her_Name_On_It

Dotty tried to shoot her brains out, but only stuffing suffered…  The dog has done worse damage in the past.

3) Far Away

Dotty - Far Away

Drowning does not work when your body absorbs the water.  Oh, and she has no lungs.

4) Bliss

Dotty - Bliss

Pills only make her high.  Good effort Dotty.

4) Laws of Illusion

Dotty - Laws of Illusion

She sees her reflection, but does not connect.  This “together” little doll in the mirror cannot possibly be the container of the mess in her stuffing-filled head.  She looks at her image and is constantly amazed that there is anything even remotely “human” looking back at her… She will often stare at that doll in the mirror and not comprehend how she and the image are related.

5) These Things

Dotty - These Things

She tries to drown in the river, but the rope slips from her leg and she floats back to the top.  (Dotty, here’s a tip: you don’t have lungs, and can’t breathe, so cutting off your air supply does nothing.  What were you trying to accomplish here?)

6) Seeing Red Again

Dotty - Seeing Red Again

She slices her pain away, but they just stitch her up and throw her back to the toy chest.

7) Lost

Dotty - Lost

Dotty sits alone in the corner, a forgotten toy.

8) Inside Out

Dotty - Inside Out

She tries to eviscerate herself, but they blame it on the dog again, patch her up, and put her back on the shelf.  They don’t know that she was trying so hard to rid her insides of the memory of the dog.  They see a broken toy and fix her up, then put her out of reach so it doesn’t happen again.  They are baffled when the dog gets her over and over again… They don’t realize she is trying to show her darkest secrets.

9) What A Wonderful World (done by my wife)

Dotty - What A Wonderful World

Dotty tries electrocution.  What a Wonderful World plays in the background as her brain fries.  Who needs ECT when you have a good-ole-fashioned socket?

10) Oh oh oh I’m on Fire

Dotty - Up in Flames

She burns herself, or at least tries.  Damn those flame-retardant fabrics they make toys out of these days.

11) Left Behind

Dotty - Left Behind

Her friends and family take off as fast as they can, leaving Dotty behind to deal with her own hell.  She tries to catch up, but the train is long gone out of town.

12) Stuck in the Land of the Living

Dotty - Stuck in the Land of the Living

They pump her full of drugs and drag her back to life.  They tie her to the bed so she can’t hurt herself anymore before they drug her up to a stupor… This is not what she had wanted.  This was not her intent.  She just wanted an escape.

14) yet to be named… but I will put it up as soon as it’s done.

Dotty #14

Dotty #14

15) Don’t have a name for it, but was done around 11/14/13 (nowhere near complete, but as “complete” as it’s going to get anytime soon).


Dotty came by to see why I was crying.  She didn’t realize how deep the tears had gotten.  When she tried to step through the puddle, she fell in past her head… Oops!

16: Dotty: in the Felt.  As part of my “inside-out box” I wanted to make a “living” representation of Dotty.  I had some extra felt lying around, and this is what came out of it.  I wish I had stitched her face a bit better and that you couldn’t see the awkwardness under her “skin”… oops!  Better job next time I guess.  (I hadn’t sewed anything by hand in about 15 years and even then I was a total amateur). Presenting Dotty in 3D:


16) Spark.  Not totally sure where in the line-up this fits.  I do not know if it was done before or after the official “first” Dotty drawing, and I didn’t put a date on the file name (the original is in storage).  I know it was done in 2010… So I guess it fits somewhere in the first 13.  It was an entry for a contest to visualize the Tori Amos song “Spark” off of her From the Chiorgirl Hotel album.

Dotty: Spark  (A lost Dotty sketch)

Dotty: Spark (A lost Dotty sketch)

17) Dark Dotty (Art Journal piece on contrasts: light and dark). The best answers are the ones you discover within yourself, until you come up with something better. You have to discover something better Dotty… (5/31/14)

Art Journal/Dark Dotty


18) Dotty Finally Does It. She pooled all her resources and made her best effort… It didn’t work. She was quite upset after. (7/30/14).

Dotty Finally Does It

Dotty Finally Does It

19) WTJ Dotty: Crack the Spine. Dotty heard about my Wreck This Journal fun and wanted to check it out for herself. She got all excited when she found the page about cracking the spine. She liked the idea that was there, but thought she could pull it off better. I told her it was fine. I didn’t bother to remind her that she has no spine (Snoopy might break it to her though. He’s thinking about it)… (November 2014?)

Dotty: Crack the Spine

Dotty: Crack the Spine

20) Dotty in 8-bit. She really liked the graph paper and wanted to pay homage to early digital graphics… The whole story of this one can be found here. (June 7, 2015)

Dotty in 8-bit

I guess I have a few choices…

I awoke with a bit more clarity this morning (I’m back on the analytical side of the wall). I have a few options to get through this crap: 1) I could keep reaching out and trying to say what it is I need until I get it right and I actually get it;  2) I could give in and fall apart with a slight measure of control so I don’t do it totally out of control,  or 3) I could suck it up and force the pieces back together in whatever way I can so I stay “together” as long as possible in hopes that Medicaid (Medicare?) comes through before I completely lose it…  

Maybe this is all so I’m forced to build up a support network down here…? A way to get through things without relying on professionals as much as I do.  The thing is,  I’ve relied on myself so much growing up,  it took years to learn to trust anyone else to help keep me safe… now to have to learn to do it all myself again seems like a step backwards. 
I am learning to rely on my wife more though.  I’m learning to let her in little by little,  but I don’t want her to be the main support. She has a lot on her plate also, and she needs to be able to take care of that too.  I help as best I can,  but I feel so wrapped up in myself most of the time that I know I’m not a very good resource. 

I was pleasantly surprised yesterday when D acknowledged that the self injury was my only coping method for so long,  it is hard to learn to replace… it was nice to hear someone say that childhood/early learning is more difficult to change – its more deeply written in our psyches than later learning.  I know Dr C seemed to understand it,  but never really said it. I’m glad D did. 

So back on the topic of my choices; I’m not sure what to follow through on.   Even if I do a “controlled burn” so to speak, I can’t until after Saturday (huge volunteer commitment I would feel utterly guilty for missing,  even if it means my mental health may suffer. Tho it may just help me make it through this period). The waves of feeling terrible come and go,  but mostly it feels like a stagnant pool of hopelessness. It really sucks… but maybe if I can make it through the weekend,  I am then that much closer to next Wednesday,  where I have hope of making that session better… of getting farther with it… is it worth it?

some history… (a box of triggers maybe. open with caution)

I read another blog (the few lines that came up on my reader, as it refused to load) and it got me thinking… my methods and preferred spot have changed over the years.  I started with a few small scratches on my left arm… I did it with a pin.  It barely left a mark that lasted for a few short hours.  Like any good addiction, it stopped being enough.  I remember the first day I “graduated” to scissors… it scared me, but I felt better.  I also switched arms – I had run out of unmarked skin… I had bruised my arm up really bad with a desperate attempt at hurting myself one night when I had nothing but a key to work with.  I started wearing nothing but long sleeves at school (in the sweltering heat).  I wore a sweatshirt that 90 degree day when I cut at school and it bled through my light yellow uniform top.  No one questioned it… I was usually cold anyway, anorexia will do that to you.  I’m not sure what prompted me to reach out one day and admit to my guidance counselor that I self-injured.  She took it in stride and offered support.  She had experience from one of her other students from a different school… She agreed not to break confidentiality if I would continue to seek help.  I nodded.  She knew it would be ugly if my parents found out.  My dad had not reacted well to the news of Anorexia, forget self-injury.  It was brought on by s**t at home anyway.  I’m glad she left it up to me to tell them.  I don’t really remember when I actually said something to them (if I ever did before I was first hospitalized… it’s a bit blurry).  Once I went  away to school, the intensity changed, and I branched out in my preferred spot to self-injure.  Once anyone noticed, I had to switch to someplace easier to hide.  That, and I was running out of places to cut…  I didn’t scar so easily back then.  My nurse commented on it one day… I was to check in with her regularly (per my therapist) to assess the damage.  I think I saw her about once a month… She saw the worst of the cuts (relatively deep), and they rarely scarred.  She said I was lucky.  I think her saying that broke my body’s spell, and I started to scar up shortly after that.  I don’t really remember the intensity of my cuts changing, but the scars started remaining on my body… I don’t really remember why, but I know I had to see the gyn a few times (I think it had something to do with abnormal test results… or maybe they were just checking up on me).  A few times she had remarked to my therapist that I had words carved into my legs… I remember J gave me the chance to explain them to her, and tell her what I had written… when I did not fess up to it (I was too embarrassed… wasn’t sure why I had written what I did), she asked me outright “Why the words ‘Slut’ and ‘Whore’? ‘Worthless’ I understand, but the other two confuse me”… I don’t remember what I said, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t even close to anything truthful, as I really don’t remember being in touch with it at the time.  I think I confused even myself with that.  I still am not sure I know why I wrote it… There was a sense of shame from Duckboy and being molested earlier in life… I think I internalized that as my fault… I no longer have access to what I was thinking then.

Shortly after that time, I started cutting my legs more and more… I tried my abdomen, but it wasn’t satisfying… My legs became my next abuse victims.  I did the worst damage there.  Those cuts would take weeks to heal, and my nurse would shake her head.  There were a few she contemplated stitching up, but I never consented… I miss her.  She was gentle and kind, and another non-judgmental person to be accountable to… I wasn’t used to genuine, kind caring, but I liked it.  It was a huge loss when she retired before I graduated.  She had kicked my butt into line for 3 years… my most consistent support yet at that time in my life.  She sent me to the ER one day, and I was beyond hurt and angry at her, but I know she had to do it.  I’m glad she did it during lunch… it was less embarrassing that way, Health Services was more empty… fewer faces to witness my crumbling facade.  I really miss M and my therapist at the time.  They tag-teamed me more times than I’d like to admit just to be able to get me through each year… I don’t know what I would have done if I was kicked out of school and forced to move back home.

The next few years are a blur… I was in and out of therapy after graduating, mostly out because my SO at the time thought it was useless… I held it together as best I could.  Then one day I remembered that feeling of falling… I knew it was there; at a distance, but I was along its ever-speeding trajectory.  I reached out to find a therapist again.  I called so many numbers and left so many messages… one woman called me back.  I met with her, and she became my therapist.  I think it was in that first session that she diagnosed me Borderline Personality Disorder, and said she was “an expert of sorts” in it… She worked hard to convince me that I needed to embrace the diagnosis.  She strongly pushed DBT (I had tried it before in college, but no one ever talked to me about being BPD… or maybe they did and I dissociated it, I’m not sure).  I resisted for quite a while.  She also pushed meds (which I was also resistant to) and finding a psychiatrist.  I grudgingly sought one I could tolerate… I think I went through 3 before I found one I could sit with and remotely trust… She ended up moving away after a few short months.  Back to the drawing board.  I never did find another psychiatrist I liked, but I stuck with meds because I was told I should.  I tried all the ones they had tried me on in college, and continued on through the gamut of available meds that even remotely had psychiatric applications.  I experienced crazy side-effects and was mildly allergic to a few.  My most hated phrase from a psychiatrist (or any medical professional) to this day is “but do the benefits out-weigh the negatives?”… “it’s just a little weight gain” (80lbs in 2 months); “but do you feel depressed when you feel sick?”; “the nausea is just temporary”; “do you really need to drive yourself to work? can’t you get a ride?”; “can you live with the drowsiness for a while longer?” “it clears up in a few days… weeks… months…”  No, it did not clear up.  No, a recently anorexic patient can’t handle 80lbs of weight gain.  No, I can’t rely on others for transportation to and from work over 45 minutes away… No.  The benefits do not out-weigh the negatives (are there really any benefits                       ?  I have been hospitalized more times in the last year on meds than I think most chronic psych patients do in a lifetime)…

Something happened and I was able to maintain a decent facade for the next 2 or 3 years even on meds… I struggled frequently with self-injury and suicidal thoughts, but I was on meds, so it was ok right?

I thought I was well enough to tackle grad school having had 2 years “clean” from major break-downs (little ones littered my days however).  I managed to hold down a relationship, a full-time job, and advance in that job… I had to be ok for school, right?  Wrong!  The pressure and the triggers became too much.  I had not yet dealt with the trauma I was trying to bleed away.  When I encountered it again in the position of helper, I crumbled.  It felt like trying to fill a wire-frame statue with damp sand in the hot, drying sun… I had a new therapist and was glossing over much of the “dirty” stuff in my closet, but we figured I was able to handle a degree in the same field.  The mess at school coupled with the triggers at my internship finally tipped the last domino and I it was down-hill from there.  If I thought my first bout of hospitalizations was a lot, little did I know how often I would be passing through those revolving doors that coming year.  They did not know what to do to help me.  Hospitals are only meant for containment and stabilization on meds… they keep you alive, but don’t help you move on through the pain.  There is physical support, but no real emotional support… their general practice is to medicate to the hilt if anything distressing comes up, and not to help you learn to deal with the feelings that are so incredibly overwhelming… why would they? it gives them more work… I can’t tell you how many times I requested that Haldol be taken off my PRN list at the hospital only to find a nurse had slipped it into my med mix because I was having a rough time.  It would knock me out for 2 days, and I would get shit from family and staff for not participating.  I resent that more than most things… I know my body and I know what medications do to me.  If I specifically ask that something be removed from my available meds, please do so…

It’s amazing how fast professionals can give up trying when their usual interventions don’t have the desired results.  Yes, I’m crashing harder and faster than ever before, but then why are we doing the same old shit over & over again?!  I remember asking, begging for a different program, a different intervention.  I remember adamantly refusing DBT (so far, all 5 times resulted in severe self-injury, suicide attempts, or long hospitalizations; but the 6th time, that one will be different…).  I bought into it, L did a good job of wearing me down on it in the 4 years she was my therapist).  I tried again.  I struggled and floundered and was triggered beyond belief.  I begged for help, and ultimately  I was kicked out for screwing up and “not using my skills.”  Only they didn’t realize I was dissociating so badly I lost several days… I begged for help… it wasn’t good enough.  The week following my discharge that time, I was sent to a PHP program the floor below the DBT program… Apparently the psychiatrist was not versed in DBT despite the program’s proximity.  She committed me for riding the wave of self-harm urges that weekend.  She said I told her I would try to kill myself and could not commit to safety… In actuality, I had said I would use my skills to ride out the emotions because I had done it that weekend, and I was sure I could do it again.  I also said that I would reach out if things got too bad… She only heard what she wanted to.  It was a turning point for me though.  I felt anger towards another person (other than bitch or my dad) for the first time ever.  I was so angry I wanted to pummel her head in with my water bottle as they walked me through the underground tunnels to the locked unit… I was calm outside.  I forced it.  No matter my anger, I would never hurt another person.  When someone walked in too close a proximity to me, I calmly (and barely above a whisper) told them to step away from me… no one thought to take my heavy water bottle from me… I would not have acted on my rage, but boy was I brimming with it.  (How dare you tell me to do all this shit, trigger me to the hilt, have me actually succeed (in my eyes) at something extremely difficult, then negate any progress…  you are just like that bitch…)… I had such a hard time that hospitalization… I was rageful towards everyone in power… I found no one to connect with and no one to seek support from… I was unable to convince the doctors to release me. I was there for a full week… it felt like months (I had just left there 2 days ago).  For the first time in my life, all my anger was focused externally.  I was telling the truth when I told the psychiatrist that I had absolutely no thoughts of harming myself… That time, I lived on Haldol… if it knocked me out for the duration, all the better.  I don’t remember what prompted my discharge, but apparently I was outwardly better, or insurance refused to pay for more.

I do not remember how long after that it took me to find my way back to the unit, but I was back again (multiple times).  While I was intensely suicidal the days before my last hospitalization (and actually planned on carrying out an OD in the woods the day before I was committed), I had no intention of dying by bleeding to death from my self-injury.  That was just an addiction and a release from all the thoughts swirling in my head.  The problem was that I had found a place to cut that was way too dangerous.  I did not realize the extent of the damage I was doing, all I wanted was the relief of the flowing blood.. I actually stopped that time, frustrated that I could not bring more to the surface… I did not know that I had already bled out most of my volume in the last 2 days… there was nothing left to gush, so nothing did.  I reached out to my therapist and others so much those days… I could not go more than 10-15 minutes without cutting… I found ways to do it even with others in the house.

The next day, my therapist convinced me to go see my doctor.  I was worried too, as the bleeding was still pretty heavy (not at all normal for me).  Someone had made a note somewhere in my chart tho, because even though my doctor was on vacation that week and I quickly hung up, the nurse called me back with an appointment time with one of her colleagues.  I was not given much of an option, but told I was expected in at a particular time.  I am not sure how it happened, but my wife was home early to take me… I traumatized a lot of people that day with the extent and nature of my injuries… the sad part is, while I regret it to some degree, I would never have gotten into the trauma program at The Center at PIW.  I would not have started that very crucial step towards recovery… I would have missed out on the trauma of the whole ECT affair, but I would have also missed out on insight and a detox from all the meds they had me on.  That was my rock bottom.  Though I had attempted suicide in the past, this was my absolute lowest point… I was hopeless, frequently suicidal, and easily able to harm myself to within hours of death.  I was dissociating, experiencing very strong and frequent flashbacks, and I was desperately searching for anything to make it all better.  In my flailing, I wounded so many… I truly regret that part…  I’m sorry you have to live with that… If I could do things differently, I would remove you from any instance of my self-destruction.  I would protect you from my demons, because after all, they are mine alone…

That break was not an easy one.  I struggled daily with hating myself and life and wanting to hurt myself again to make the anxiety and pain go away.  I had eyes on me 24/7 though, so I was not able to do anything.  I also had support in DC.  While I was pissed that I was not allowed to dissociate when things got too much, it helped center me.  I was able to find a way to wall off the intense emotions.  I found a way to make it through the days.  I found ways to relieve the stress without self-harming… It was a giant step towards recovery.  It is a rough road, with a ton of bumps… but I have to remember, as D said, the future is not an absolute.  Can’t lose hope just yet.

the power of addictions – what a fascinating dragon

I do not currently self injure, but the urges are there.  I know the consequences would (emotionally) kill me if I picked it up again… but I want to do it again SO badly.  I think about it most of the day, and most of my energy is spent on fighting the urges. I smile on the outside, but that one thought floats around my neurons and synapses.  I know people say you have to stop for yourself, or it will not work (like drugs, alcohol or smoking), but the external consequences have kept me from doing it for a year and a half.  I know that I would lose my marriage (or in the very least seriously damage it), and potentially lose my freedom by once again being hospitalized… but some days I think (just for a fraction of a second) that it would all be worth it just to feel that way again (the relief).  So many people just don’t get this (tho I am guessing other people who self injure and anyone fighting any other addiction would get it).  It’s not that my relationship is devalued in any way, or that I would even want to endanger it.  It’s just that the “high” from the si would feel so good.  That moment of amazing just gnaws at me… I want it again, and have not found any other way to produce it.  It makes my anxiety go away, and my thoughts stop racing, and it gives me a really good feeling, up until the second the regret and shame kick in.  If I could find something that did all that without the regret and shame, I would take it in a heartbeat.  I would do it every day because that part feels so wonderful.  Its powers are great… but so is the crash afterwards.  And that part sucks…

There are days I wish it were socially acceptable to cut.  I wish I wouldn’t have to fight the urges.  I wish I could just do it… but that’s an addiction for you.

trigger warning…

I’m trying to be ok with a comment a friend made on fb, as she has every right to be upset by my comment… but it’s hard. A few days ago I had been having a really rough week, and I was tired of being told to turn to religion. My defenses were down and I was raw. The last straw was when a friend of my wife’s commented for the umpteenth time to “Let go & let god” and that everything happens for a reason, and that I should “pray” about my situation… That last sentiment triggered such a deep hurt and rejection, I lost all cool and composure. I ranted long and hard about how a belief in a god does not make everything better… I was rude and disrespectful and cursed a lot… I can understand that people would be hurt, but I didn’t care. I was tired and hurt myself… My wife said that she would take it down in the morning (it was on a status she had put up) because she did not want her mom to be mad at me for not only cursing, but putting religion down… I was fine with it. I got out my rant and could care less if it was up any longer than that… She never did take it down. I’m not quite sure why, maybe it was the strong responses in both directions about what I said, maybe she just forgot and then thought it was up for that long, might as well leave it… whatever. It is still there. Anyway, a friend of mine read it and was very insulted and hurt by it. She made a comment to that effect on her page, but without mentioning who the comment was directed to. She was very respectful and did a great job communicating her displeasure with my stance (and insults) on something she holds dear.
I shouldn’t be hurt or bothered by this. I shouldn’t feel the way I do about it. But then why can’t I shake it?
I am triggered by religion and inaction in the name of religion because of my experience with one individual, and later with a “spiritual” experience… The first person I ever confided in about the abuse and violence going on at home (and my resulting depression and hopelessness) simply told me to “Just pray about it, and god will help you out”… I had just told her that I feared for my mom’s life, I felt suicidal, and was terrified to be home every day of my life, and she told me to pray about it… That was such a let-down. Everywhere they encourage you to tell someone when things like this are going on, and when I did, I was offered no help. It was a guidance counselor at school mind you, a mandated reporter even back then (she left the school the following year and was replaced by a wonderful woman who helped me so much, and i am now privileged to call her my friend)… I felt so abandoned and lost in that moment. My hate for religion grew from there. The ignorance and uncaring she displayed made me feel totally alone. To this day I have trouble asking for help, and believing that anyone with any power to do something will actually do anything to help (well, that and the countless times the police were called to diffuse a situation at home…). I don’t trust easily, so when I went to her with that information, my little bit of trust crumbled to dust in the moment of her indifference…
I know most people today have no clue why I feel so strongly against any organized religion. I haven’t told many people. I definitely keep my mental health and abuse history off of fb (it is not the place for things like that)… I know this friend has no idea why I said what I did, she is just insulted by it… I should be able to take that at face value and move on, as I know I was rude with it… but it just feeds my rejection and feelings of neglect from so long ago. And now I want to be stubborn and not apologize or remove it because it triggered my rebellious side, and I want to stomp my feet and scream that I am right, but only because I don’t want to tell why I really feel that way. I don’t want to spill that my 1)abuse 2)was not stopped by someone who was supposed to help, but 3)instead thought I should turn to “god” to better my situation. I don’t want to explain myself, I just want to be mad about it, because I have a right to be mad. I know I should have done it more tactfully, but I was hurt… All I ever do is apologize for holding the hurt in, until it gets too much and I burst. I play nice and respectful and pleasant, and no one gets it. They keep at it… They insist that I am wrong and stupid and should “give my life to god”, but they don’t hear my protests when I am nice. They don’t respect my pleas to stop hitting me over the head with that. So I snap, and I revert to being 3 and screaming whatever I want, however I need to, in order to be heard.
I don’t like hurting people. I don’t like insulting them or their beliefs. But I can’t bring myself to apologize for my rant, or to back-track and say it nicer just to appease everyone. But that too is an internal conflict. The part of me that strives to please everyone all the time and be pc and nice really wants to take down the comment and apologize for insulting everyone. The 3 year old in me wants to sit there, stick my tongue out and say “Good!” (now you can be as hurt as I was)… It makes me want to cut and cry and break things. It makes me want to hide and delete fb all together… It makes me hate myself for being hurtful… but it makes me feel good too. And that scares me. I never want to be someone who hurts others because she is hurt… I don’t want to be my dad… I never want to be my dad…