Tag Archives: self harm

To Dr. C

Dr C,

Talking to A Monday brought stuff up, but I’m not totally sure what. There’s a lot of the past floating around, and I’m finding myself really easily startled and frightened…

My head was literally spinning today, it triggered vertigo somehow.

There’s body stuff I’m feeling, and… I don’t even know what else. My heart races over nothing. I feel shaky, like I haven’t eaten in days, but in reality, I’ve been stuffing my face. I wanted to cut; to destroy my body; to pulverized it and stab it and shred it and break it and burn it… and by my body, I mean my pelvic area, where the feelings are creeping in again.

I wish we hadn’t talked about body. The kid really wanted to reach out, but my mouth was glued shut. I wasn’t sure how to speak about it without just screaming… so I kept quiet.

Only now the things I didn’t say are finding other ways to be noticed.

I really wish you were here coz I could talk to you about it, but you are still away through Monday… I don’t feel comfortable bugging A about it. There would be too much to explain… she kept saying she didn’t know my history; she hadn’t read what you gave her. Part of me wished she had. That way I wouldn’t have to figure out how to cram an explanation into the session and still have time to address what was happening in the moment… or just skip it all together because I couldn’t condense it that far.

I can feel the anxiety rising again. There are memories and fantasies and fears all happening in my body at the same time. It feels like I’m throwing imaginary scenarios in to drown out whatever is trying to surface. Imaginary stuff that I create in my head is much easier to control (and tolerate) than the stuff that actually happened (maybe? They’re memories, right? They’re valid? Or maybe even those are all stories?…).

I want to do that body drawing stuff she mentioned because it feels like something the kid could use to communicate. He still needs a translator, but maybe that would help? He seems connected to the idea…

I want to try some more kid techniques sometimes. Maybe the stuff that’s stuck would become unstuck? The kid that talked to De while I colored really likes that idea too. She wants to do more of that. She liked talking… I think she told the boy, because he keeps peeking around the corner wanting to try it…

There’s really not these others inside, but it just feels like there are others there, and I just don’t have a better way to describe the feeling.

SJ’s gone. I miss her. She was the most brave about talking. She was the face of the other kids. I dunno where she went. The boy misses her too, and the other girl and little blue monster all miss her. She was both 7 and 70. She was protective, but little, but also… I dunno. A container for the other kids? Now that she isn’t here, the others have to speak for themselves? Maybe she split into them when she ran off? She was older when she left though. She felt… I dunno. She wasn’t really older, but now the memory of her feels older? Does that even make sense? She left as a kid, maybe 5 or 7, but now the memory of her leaving feels like a young adult having moved away from home to get on with her own life. She pops by to say hi every once in a while, mostly to the kids, but she’s moved on with her life… like the babysitter going off to college or something.

I know these are all constructs of my head to order and make sense of things (and to keep safe), but it feels so separate. It kinda feels like other people who maybe speak a foreign language, or are extended family, or something… I dunno.

And they shift and change over time. I guess it’s me shifting and changing things as my understanding does the same. Sometimes they make sense as they were, other times the narrative needs to change to compensate for discrepancies. I guess it makes total sense if you look at it all as constructs of my head to help navigate life… they change with my understanding and head-space.

I’m really glad you will be back next week. I hope the trip was fun. I’m really glad you are back (and I was really relieved when I saw you post stuff on ig)…

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ramblings about interim therapists and trauma work and body stuff

I’ve been seeing another therapist in Dr C’s practice while she’s been away. It’s been weird, but helpful in maintaining balance, especially with all this physical stuff going on. I didn’t really talk to her about much outside of “safe” things (things going on in the moment, dealing with the physical stuff that doesn’t have a medical explanation yet (or ever?), surface stuff). There were times I wanted to cover other stuff that wove its way into the session, but I couldn’t open my mouth. It felt like my lips were glued together, and even if I did manage to open them, all that would come out were sobs and screams…

That’s not a new phenomenon for me. I’m not sure I’ve ever managed to open my mouth and tried to speak at a time like that. It taps into something I still don’t have an understanding of, and it never feels safe or comfortable enough to just let that part of me do whatever it needs to do for release… maybe I can bring it up with Dr C once she’s back again next week. I wish I could remember what it was that triggered that feeling.

I know before walking into the building, I had wanted to address the body memories that always get triggered (or more intense) when I get my period. We had kinda started taking about bodies, and how comfortable I was in mine (or not comfortable). We had talked a bit about liking or hating any particular part of my body. I said there wasn’t any part I liked. I should have said, there wasn’t any part I liked anymore because at one point, I had liked my eyes and my hands… but both have failed me since. My eyes either hide too much or tell too much; and my hands don’t create to my standards anymore (stupid trembling and fatigue). So no, right now there’s no part of me I like.

She also asked if there was any part I really hated. Of course there are parts I hate more than others, but there wasn’t enough time in the hour to tell her about it and still come out of the session balanced enough to go on with my day… I’m not totally sure I even want to write about it now, though there would be less explanation involved here than with her… I hate my pelvic area, and my stomach, and the insides of my legs. It’s where I feel the most uncomfortable memories, and what triggers the easiest. It’s the fastest way to send me to space…

A had asked if I’d ever done any body work (on paper) with Dr C. I told her I hadn’t, because even though Dr C had offered it, I panicked at the thought of tracing my body. A clarified that she meant doing it smaller scale. No, we never did do that… I’m not sure why the subject changed with A in that session. I think I started panicking and backpedaling into my head, because at some point, she asked how present I was & busted out a ball as a means of grounding (side note: it worked too! Who knew playing catch could actually bring me back? Normally, I can still do that stuff while dissociated. This time, the act of catching and tossing was balancing. Maybe it was the inconsistent way she did it? She would pause, look at the ball, change the speed of her toss… whatever it was, it worked).

Anyway… yeah. There were so many times I could have said more to her, but I didn’t want to get into it knowing that the hour would end too son, and I’d be left dealing with whatever came up for the rest of the week. At least with Dr C, I can reach out during the week if I need to. A did say to call if I needed anything, but I wouldn’t bother her. It takes me a long time to trust that it’s really ok to bug someone outside of the time they are getting paid to interact with me. Even with Dr C, I still hesitate much of the time, and I’ve worked with her on and off for almost 10 years now…

Oh, I remembered what I was originally going to say about the body drawing; it’s another thing where I feel frozen for fear of what I might do or say. There’s still that urge to destroy my body, even if it’s just a drawing. I still want to take a knife and stab the drawing on the parts I hate the most… or, since I no longer carry a knife with me, stab it with the pencil… that would probably freak her out, so… maybe some day I can mention that to Dr C, and we could find a way for me to be ok doing it in some form. The kid really wants to talk about it still. He has no words, just screams and sobs and anger… or silence. He’s usually just silent because the other stuff is not acceptable…

I really wish Dr C was back now. I wish this could be addressed while it’s still here & “relevant.” It’ll be gone again by next week. This is when that concept of easily accessible, more intensive treatment would be helpful; when stuff comes up and would benefit from being addressed in the moment, so it would be nice to be able to walk back into the room and get to work… let’s tackle this shit coz it’s here. Gimme that little body drawing, tack it to a tree, and let me stab the shit out of it. Let me rip it up and scream and cry and cover it in red paint so it bleeds like my body would if I did that to myself. Let me burn the page so it all goes up in smoke. He needs the release. I need the release…

Let me rip the legs off a toy, and bash it and destroy it… but then I’d need to apologize, because the toy did nothing, it’s just a receptacle for the anger. So let me run out into the woods and scream until my voice is hoarse, and my legs are so tired they want to fall off, and my breath burns in my chest (maybe my lungs would actually burn up. That would be an interesting medical & scientific impossibility)…

Sometimes the anger and the hurt is too much. Sometimes I want to disappear to a safe place where I can do something about it without weird looks and panic over my safety, because ultimately, I’ll be safe, this just all needs a release…

Why aren’t there trauma treatment centers in the middle of the woods, with animals and drop-in massage and art and yoga and holistic therapy like they have for substance abuse? And why is nothing local? Why is the only treatment center even remotely like that all the way across the country, and religious?! I want something with no BS about higher powers or gods or spiritual anything. Why does that not exist?! And why aren’t there more art or play therapists around? The kids want time too, but everything’s in an adult world, so they use translators instead…


working helped

I was still struggling with dissociation and being stuck in my head most of Wednesday. Nothing i was trying helped to bring me out of it.

Luckily, I had work that afternoon.

I pleaded with the universe to make it an easy, but distracting shift. She came through for me.

I ended up training a new hire, so I had to constantly think of what I was doing, why, and explain it to her. The dogs were also relatively mellow (though the look on the girl’s face when I mentioned that it was an easier day makes me wonder if I’m not just habituating to a higher level of chaos).

In the end, spending time with the dogs, and having to interact with another human for the whole shift helped ground me for the evening.

I did wake up to some intrusive, uncomfortable thoughts, but overall, today has been much more “present” (Though let me not jinx that at 9am)…

I had some bloodwork to get done this morning, and I was supposed to get a CT scan done at 8, but I messed up the directions, so it’s been pushed to 1pm. I could have gone through with the 8am thing, but it wouldn’t have given the greatest results. I’m having ongoing gi issues, so I want to make the scan worth the effort. I already feel like most of this stuff is “in my head” since previous testing hasn’t shown anything… but then again, my aunt had gi issues for over a decade before the testing finally showed the real problem. I don’t want things to get that advanced in my case…

I hate having to balance worrying that I’m just experiencing psychosomatic stuff with legit medical issues. Dr C says it’s all valid, and even if it does stem from past trauma, there’s still likely a physical reason as well, it’ll just take more time to figure it out…


Authenticity (of expression) 

Authenticity of expression is something I struggle with often. I’m constantly worried about what people may think, and the consequences of their opinions. 

This is especially true of my art. While it’s often the most authentic expression of self I’m able to reveal, I worry a lot that people will change their opinion of me based on what they see. I worry they will hate me, and deem me less worthy than even I deem myself. Sometimes I’m able to get past that in my art journals, but lately, even that has been censored. 

I feel stuck around being unable to express what needs to be expressed in any authentic manner. I find myself replacing the reality of what I want to create, with a “rainbows & butterflies” edit. I’m stumbling in therapy and focusing on the same, safe methods of expression; the ugly, scary stuff is replaced with a unicorn sticker…

There’s so much “icky” stuff floating around in my head, but I go silent when it comes time to talk about it. There’s a buffer between my brain and my mouth, and my brain and my hands. Things leave my brain one way, but get “prettied up” before they have a chance to be expressed. 

This piece wasn’t supposed to look so peaceful and serene… it was supposed to represent the struggles around trauma. It was supposed to express the loneliness and alone-ness of experiencing flashbacks and memories no one else knows are even there. It was supposed to be more graphic… but in the last minute, I froze, and changed the “gore” to “pretty” and ” socially acceptable”… 

Lately, no matter what I do, no matter my intentions at the start, everything gets censored for the comfort of everyone else. That all just leaves me feeling more alone and distant than before I started. 

I want to be able to convey what it feels like to constantly remember the physical sensations of things long past. I want to express the hopelessness and fear and loneliness and frustration and betrayal… but I end up stuffing it down and covering it up. 

It’s a betrayal of a different kind; a betrayal of my inner voice… it’s really frustrating. 


What dissociation feels like to me

I’m aware this may be different than what I’ve written before. My understanding of it tends to be limited to what I can access in the moment. 

Today, my understanding of my dissociation is as follows: 

My dissociation is varied. When heavily triggered, I lose all memory of a period of time. I have very spotty memories from my childhood, maybe a handful from my entire 18 years before moving to college. I’m starting to regain some of those memories, but they are all trauma memories coming back. 

When I’m less dissociated, it just feels like i’m floating in a grey fog far away from everyone and everything. Sometimes I can’t hear people talking to me. I’m not always aware of the dissociation until someone points it out to me, but there are times I’m very aware. Those times it feels like i’m on autopilot; saying and doing things because that’s what’s expected of me. 

There are times when I’m surprised at my appearance and the fact that I have a body & a face. That used to happen a lot more when I was younger. I would walk past my reflection and stop to stare at it. I needed to study it because I had no clue that’s what I looked like, or that I even existed as a corporeal being… those instances have lessened in severity. I still stare at my reflection at times, but it doesn’t take as long to understand I’m actually a person. 

Regardless of the type of dissociation, I generally don’t feel anything like physical touch, or even pain… Sometimes the dissociation is accompanied by flashbacks, but other times my mind is blank…


What’s your experience been like with it? 


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.