Month: December 2015

Alone again, naturally

What do we do when we desperately wish someone could hear us? When we know fully that it is not anyone else’s responsibility to save us, yet we wish there were someone beside us. Is it disallowed, not to find oneself alone in the end?

Why do we keep trusting when we know what will come and know soon enough they will no longer choose to be there and why does the alone hurt more every time?

When we know nobody would choose us first, nobody would willingly turn and open to us, nobody really thinks we can bring good, but we long most desperately to give, give at any cost, and we are always here, for it is just obvious and right to us to be, though we are almost always dismissed – where can we try to be a friend?

When we’re screaming and hiding and hurting and clinging by a thread and falling over the edge, fragmenting, when maybe we dared share a little to someone or count on a tiny thing – and even that doesn’t come or they don’t respond – what do we do as we fall apart?

Is it terrible to be angry when we’re left there?

I don’t ask anyone to rescue me but just someone to answer and sometimes stay a little while beside me and please, please not disappear. To sometimes name the first move, come willingly and share and please not hate me when I cannot do all you think I should, please remember it is not an equation and I can’t always give out what you think I should.

I so so much need you right now and I am so much here if only you would allow me.

But perhaps most of all I should stop longing because I’ve learnt well enough what the end will always be – gone away, left alone. Alone should cause less pain as there would be no more losses so why does my inside scream and make alone so painful too?

I wish I could trust someone to answer. To ask how I am and actually want to know the answer, nor just the portion of it they deem acceptable or allow to be considered. To maybe call me or send a text if they know it’s a very bad time. To keep to an arrangement to meet and know how I will shatter if they cancel at the last minute because I was clinging so very very tight to that little bit of strength the meeting would give.  To stay a little while in understanding when I’m terrified, not just say it’ll soon be over.

All these little things are obvious  to me and so natural to give to a friend I would not think of doing anything else. Yet so very rarely do I ever encounter them myself. I suppose this tells me again if I had any doubt that I’m not if any value in a relationship to anyone and am not allowed even these most basic things.

And anger burns behind the hurt, with everyone who left and with myself, for needing, yet again.

 

(Title from song ‘Alone Again’ by Vonda Shepherd)

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Love me there

I stumbled across this quotation a few days ago and thought it just perfectly expresses a deep longing I dare never verbalise,  and I wonder if others with BPD, PTSD, or other mental health conditions may find something that resonates with them.

Here it is:

“Crawl inside this body.

Find me where I am most broken.

Love me there.”

Anne Lazuli

(I do not know anything about the author and plan to see if I can find out.)

Ginny xx

Wobbly week

This has been a very odd week.  At the beginning I was very distressed by ongoing problems from my old job. Having tried not to judge my old employer or make assumptions or blame them,  things that have happened now leave me in no doubt they are covering up what happened, lying about me and what happened whilst basically telling me I’m lying, and discrimination, bullying and harassment is going on, worse still, still affecting people who still work there.

I felt anger I’ve never felt before and determination not to let this rest. Also extreme hurt, very alone because two people who I thought I could count on for help have in the case of one apparently cut off contact and in the case of the other,  he seems to think I should just be able to ‘let it go’ and let them get away with it. He doesn’t think it was that bad.

Again I was hurt beyond what I could cope with. And the obsessional thoughts about being worthless and everyone knows it and I deserve to be alone, went wild. Then a friend cancelled a meet up I had been so ridiculously desperately holding on n to. And I was going to thousands of pieces and hating my childish self for it.

But then Tuesday night I became very ill physically from my ongoing gynaecological problems (endometriosis etc). I blacked out and was very unwell. On calling the out of hours GP I was told to go straight to A&E. So off I went. I won’t bore you with the whole story but Tuesday night to Wednesday lunchtime I was in hospital with a lot of pain, sickness and lovely things you certainly don’t really want to picture 🙂 !

Anyway, before slipping into the realms of distinctly too much information… My friend’s mum brought me home Wednesday lunch time. She was so kind to me and stayed with me whilst I washed and changed and got settled to make sure I was safe. She even swept the leaves away from my door where they’d blown in strong winds overnight. She was so so caring. She did so much beyond what I’d ask or imagine, to look after me when I was that unwell. I have a very good friend more than I knew!

So amidst these horrible days, that was a gift.

Also, the physical pain and shock somehow flung me away from the internal mess that was going on with all my feelings at the start of the week. Since then I’ve been so tired I’m not very sure what I’m feeling. I’m mixed up.

Tomorrow I’m back at work. Fortunately I only missed one day as Thursday was my day off and I don’t work Fridays as I have my therapy. I’m hoping I’ll cope okay, mentally and physically.

Ginny xx

 

Psychosis… trying to process that word…

I saw a psychiatrist at the personality disorder service yesterday. I’d asked if I could have a medication review and talk to someone about my fears about my hallucinations (because of the focus of MBT therapy we don’t really talk about them at length in group or regular 1:1 sessions).

I was scared why are the hallucinations getting worse and why it seemed to be getting harder to know they aren’t real. They used to be voices inside my head. Now they’re often outside and at the time they’re totally real. Only after can I work out they couldn’t have been. And I’m seeing things too.

My mother had hallucinations and I’m just a year younger than she was when she gave birth to me and after that things got really bad for her. So I was scared is the same thing happening to me at the same age?

The psychiatrist was really nice,  understood me, understood my terror, understood the frightening experiences of my childhood and she took more interest in this background than I’d expected. Which was important because it allowed me to tell her about unusual, possibly hallucinatory (is that a word?!) visual experiences as a child and the very strong imaginary world I created to escape into, away from the bizarre experiences day to day caused by my mother’s weird beliefs and behaviour. I told her about feeling I dissociate into different personalities and worlds.

Then we talked about psychosis and schizophrenia. The psychiatrist used the words psychosis and psychotic symptoms for what I was describing. I asked if she thought I had Psychosis as another illness separate from my Borderline PD. She said it is hard to separate because having unusual external experiences is part of Borderline and I could be at a more extreme end of that, worsened by stress and perhaps as therapy is opening things up. Also she thinks I had a sort of ‘propensity’ towards it as a child – I can’t remember the word she used – and this interacted with my mother’s schizophrenic behavior and the abuse to make things worse.

I knew I have hallucinations. I was scared of Psychosis. One of the drugs I take is actually anti psychotic though I didn’t realise that.

It’s still scary that the word psychosis and psychotic symptoms is used for what I have. Partly, I think this is because I fear I’m going to lose all knowledge these things aren’t real and lose contact with the world and become as my mother did. Partly, it’s saying for sure I’m experiencing things that aren’t real. And I’ve so many fears about what’s real and what’s not real. Partly I don’t know yet.

I’m holding on to what the psychiatrist said, that if you keep taking the medication you do not tend to lose the knowledge that the hallucinations aren’t real. They might even go away.

So she’s writing to my GP for changes in my medication and higher dose of the anti psychotic meds.

I don’t know what to think right now. There seems a lot to get my head round again.

Ginny xx

Walking this Borderland #2: Grounding

Please read Walking…#1: Introduction before this or any other post in this Series. Thank you.

Six ways to ground yourself when you notice the early stages of an overwhelming emotion building (eg, panic, fear, anxiety)

I find these particularly help me. The aim is not to deny or stop feeling the emotion, but to reach a safe state where you are not overwhelmed with distress or driven to compulsive actions, and where you can perhaps begin to recognise your emotions and also recognise that they are not permanent and are not all there is of you or of the world – they are valid and they are allowed and also, they will sometime, somehow, pass.

I know the ideas below sound as if they couldn’t possibly make any difference when you’re feeling terrible but somehow, sometimes, they do. I was taught that it is good to practice using them when you are feeling okay, so that they become familiar, and to try to use them as early on as you can when you first feel your emotions rising, because when you are already in a state of peaked, extreme emotion, it can be too difficult to be able to try to use them.

  1. Step outside if you can, or if not, just into another room. Notice all the sensations around you. What does the ground feel like under your feet? What can you hear? What can you see? Can you touch anything – the wall, the door? What does it feel like? You are here and now. These things you see around you are concrete. They will remain. The emotion, no matter how terrifying, really will somehow pass.
  2. Touch a favourite object. What does the surface feel like? What colour is it? Does the sensation of touch calm you? Is it an object that reminds you of a happy time or place or someone you love?
  3. Count backwards in [threes] from 100 to 0. [Especially occupies your attention if, like me, you are not very good at maths/logic 😉 !]
  4. Clench and unclench your hands rapidly, focussing on the sensations in your muscles and on your skin.
  5. Make a hot drink. Hold the cup whilst it’s still hot. Focus on the sensation of the spreading heat relaxing the muscles in your hands. Breathe in and out deeply and focus on the scent of the drink or the warmth of the rising steam.
  6. Repeat a grounding “safety statement”, even if you can’t really believe it at first. For example (replace the […] as appropriate): “I am [Jane Doe]. The date is [5 December 2015]. I am [35] years old. I am [in my room in my flat] in [name city].  I am in the present, not the past. I am safe now.” I am relatively new to using safety statements but my CPN told me that this is a good way to recover from flashbacks / re-experiencing memories.
Walking this Borderland #1: Introduction to the “Walking…” series

Walking this Borderland #1: Introduction to the “Walking…” series

I’ve decided to start a new series which I’ve called “Walking this Borderland”. I’m going to try to make each post in this series short and readable. My idea is that each will share an idea, skill, or thought that I find helpful in coping with an aspect of the symptoms of my Borderline Personality Disorder. Some of these are things that have been suggested to me by health professionals. Some are ideas a friend (perhaps who also has BPD) has given me permission to share. Some I have come up with or encountered myself in my path living with BPD.

I am sharing these in the hope others may find them interesting or helpful. Perhaps if you suffer with BPD or another Personality Disorder or know someone who does, you may find they are things you can identify with or are relevant or helpful to you. Perhaps they might equally be helpful to people who struggle with other mental health conditions – or even to anyone curious about emotions. Perhaps as a reader you would like to share your own experiences and ideas that help you, in the comments. I’d love it if you did want to do that.

As I have said many times before on this blog, what I’m sharing is personal and every person is very different in what is helpful to them or how they experience emotions. I really hope there is nothing I post in this “Walking…” series that would be unhelpful to anyone reading but please bear in mind that I am only sharing from my experience. Though I have worked in many mental health treatment settings and had some non-clinical training, and receive therapy myself, I am not a doctor, I am not clinically trained, I am not medically qualified to provide support or help to people with a mental health condition. So whilst I hope that this series is going to be useful, I very much urge you to please please access and rely on support from clinicians who are trained to help you.

Ginny xx

“Stop arguing with the fish,” and other helpful business philosophies

There’s a poster up in my workplace with a quote from our founder: “If you want to catch a fish, you don’t start by arguing with it.” The text goes on to expand on this, saying how, if we hope to attract and keep customers, we need to give them what they want, provide a service and resolve problems – not delay, debate, or refuse to sort things out. I like that very much and I like working that way.

It got me thinking because I have felt incredibly frustrated in the last month by what to me are some very poor experiences of customer service. I really don’t like complaining or asserting my rights or making a fuss and if I think I have I am very angry with myself afterwards. However one thing that really winds me up and at the moment, uncharacteristically sends my externally directed anger shooting right up (ie angry feelings towards the outside as opposed to just the anger I feel to myself), is customer service that really is not serving the customer. I’m not quite sure why this angers me so disproportionately at the moment.

In particular, when the focus of the person who is supposed to be helping customers seems to be not at all on helping and resolving but on at all costs emphasising how they are not personally responsible, have done nothing wrong, are completely in the right, even have no duty to provide customers with explanations or information. They even seem to do all they possibly can to be obstructive and argue and prevent access to further sources of support (information, colleagues, their manager etc). To the point of talking over the customer, refusing to give information, refusing to connect to a manager, threatening to hang up unless they are allowed to continue saying various lengthy obstructive things, refusing directly to answer questions or giving one-word, irrelevant and rude answers, refusing to send written confirmation of important contractual information and discussions, refusing to diverge from sending automatically generated form letters even when numerous conversations or correspondence has been had that makes them irrelevant yet still full of threatening, scary demands….

Is it just me, or is this kind of experience of customer non-service on the up? In the last months I’ve had this experience to the extreme with a mobile phone company, a bank, a housing office, shops and a hair salon. In a couple of cases it caused me a lot of stress and I’m sure others are equally affected by it, especially the vulnerable (unwell, elderly, poor, etc).

It can be hard to pick apart whether what’s so distressing is the unpleasantness of the interactions, the complete non-service provided at times when you very much need help and are already likely experiencing considerable anxiety, the delay, the fear and panic caused by threatening letters (in the case of the incident with my bank) that come after you have done everything you can and everything you were asked to, or even the complete clash with one’s own values. Honesty, helpfulness, providing a service, taking responsibility, acknowledging the customer’s feelings and needs and being willing to undertake everything I possibly can to help them, are so central to me.

What is the more distressing part of it? I’m not sure. Are my reactions totally out of proportion? I’m not sure. I’m scared by the explosiveness of my feelings of anger.

Still, I wish more people would stop arguing with the fish and swim alongside them for a while instead.

PS re my customer service model: I think sometimes you don’t even need to “catch” the fish to keep them there. If you make them a lovely clean pool, light and air it right, make it pretty* and give them just the right kind of food, then they’ll like to stay there or make return visits of their own accord and perhaps they’ll bring along their fishy friends. [*Okay, perhaps not pretty, I haven’t yet seen many fish that appreciate interior design, but I still think they should have a pretty pond to play in. Potential over-extension of fish pond metaphor alert. Probably time to stop writing now 🙂 .]

Ginny xx

The fear of what lies within

It was my MBT therapy group this morning.

I was very sad at the end and the frightened abandoned child part of me was crying.

I do not want to risk breaking any confidences so I will just say that we shared our feelings and thoughts around abuse suffered, memories, trauma, and times of finding out that a loved or trusted person has done something very very wrong, perhaps the most terrible wrong of violating the most delicate and intimate part of another person’s physical being and emotional soul.

I wish I could write more freely but I am very afraid to break or betray confidences, even though I do not give personal information or write under my real name. Too much rides on that to ever risk it and it would cause too much pain to everyone else in the group.

[Note – at this point I know that my writing that follows has not become very coherent. This post is a lot of things I had to get written down for me and it may not make any sense whatsoever to readers. I am sorry for that. I am not sure that any good can be gained from reading it, actually. I feel I have to write it to start to unravel some of the terror I’m feeling right now about the experiences we explored and to start to pick out some of the emotions. I don’t know well what they are right now. This comes with a warning about painful and scary themes in the writing that follows although because I don’t know if it makes any sense at all, I’m not quite sure what exactly to warn for. It does mention a memory of someone threatening and abusing and physical violence. Just…. warning…. xxx]

I am sad and cold now and desperately wish someone were with me to hold me; to hold me here and tell me what’s real, what’s not real, what’s no longer real, and maybe the hurting child part of me would be protected. She knows only she is wrong and she has harmed and she could drive someone to death – and the flashes come of the terror of finding her, there, like that – and she must be alone and she must know the bad that she has done and if she just watches hard enough perhaps she can get away before it all happens again. But still she’s crying and hurting and nobody comes. Nobody held her, nobody told her it was alright, nobody told her being loved and being able to love didn’t mean being able to get it right enough, disappear enough and fill everything she needed without fail. She cried on her own and she wished alone would stay forever then, in the little room and her make believe world with the “children” she cared for and made real in her mind and for her eyes only, where she didn’t do harm, and later where she was even allowed to cry and someone would hold her and tell her she was good and it would be alright. She could even save people in that world, be brave and strong and rescue and save, suffer hurt herself to protect and save the others. She could slip into that world.

If only the alone time always lasted. If he didn’t come home, didn’t open her door, and know instantly from her frightened watching and sometimes her attempts to block the door, and her mother in her own bedroom in the dark in bed (sleeping? Silent and still, certainly.) If he didn’t come and Mother didn’t get up (one day would she not get up? would it have happened that she’d gone away as she threatened, or even that she was dead?) then alone would last. It was frightening and panicky and hollow but it was safe and she could slip back into the other world, with her “children”. But he always came home. He knew straight away – without a shadow of a doubt she thought this – what had happened that day and what she had “done” to her mother and what had happened and what her mother was going to do because of her. He’d go in to her mother and her mother would tell him what she’d done. Then down they’d come, and he’d be cooking dinner, and the evening and night “session” would start, of Mother crying and screaming and threatening and asking her over and over why she had done it, until Mother came up with the explanation for the evil thing she had done, to punish Mother and get her own back in some twisted way. And the child wouldn’t even understand what the initial deception was supposed to have been, sometimes, let alone how that was punishing. The wrong, you see, was only a wrong if she had intended the evil and the punishment in her action. The action wouldn’t have been wrong without it because it had not any value, it just was. But there was the evil motive and intention and Mother always knew it exactly. And all the time she’d be asking, watching, shouting, accusing. And the child would be crying. Nobody came to her. Nobody helped her. Father comforted Mother, hugged her, sat beside her, stroked her feet and legs, sat with her when she went up to bed when she’d made her so sick she couldn’t cope. He brought Mother the wine and coffee she drank and the cigarettes she chain smoked. (Did he know she threw the glass jars at her? With practised precision to smash into thousands of shards directly at her feet, I know now.) Nobody brought the child anything to comfort her and nobody held her when she cried at the threats and shouting or being left alone when Mother went away and she wondered if that would be the time Mother didn’t come back – look what you’re doing to your Mother… stop crying like that, that’s what people do when they’ve had something really serious happen to them, stop sitting there dripping like a blood machine – and nobody went to her when she cried at night and nobody was there when she got up and was terrified to move and terrified of the stairs. She couldn’t tell anyone when she wet herself because she was too frightened to open the door of her bedroom to go to the bathroom in the night because she thought Mother would be dead outside and that would be the night she would find her – but if she didn’t go out it wouldn’t be real in that child’s mind – she tried to hide the wet things and when Mother found them stuffed into the back of the wardrobe, smelling, she didn’t answer why she had done it. Mother was always there. Father took completely her side and the totality of everything she claimed was the entire truth in his eyes. But nobody was there for that child.

She’s still there and scared and she wants a hug and in the flashbacks she’s all I am and I’m frozen and terrified. She needs someone to take her and not let go and never let go and she really really wants to be real and not be bad, just be the real little girl she is and not the terrible other evil things that Mother said she was doing. Is she a little girl or is she manipulation and evil and danger and damage? Is she real? Is the world she prefers to escape into real? Because it’s so much better and so much safer and it’s there that somebody wants and needs her. Please could she be real.

It really really hurt when Mother did the things she did with her body, in front of the mirror and on the bed and in the bathroom and……. inside…… it really hurt and Mother told her how to breathe so she could do it.

Why didn’t she know it was wrong?

Why was it her normal?

Why didn’t she tell? Why didn’t she stop it?

Especially in the bathroom. Because she was older then. Why did she just let her. Why even when the problems started later did she still not connect it.

Why.

Why is she so dirty and disgusting.

And most terrifying of all what if all this is a lie. What if she’s a foul ugly silly little thing and she’s repeatedly punishing Mother and that’s all this is and it’s all a lie.

Voices. Voices. And crying. Crying tired. Crying for it to stop. Cold.

And was there anything that was good?

****

And what if someone so bad – as what Rev. F. did with the young men… what about me? I thought he was kind to me. I thought he encouraged me. I thought he was kind and he always remembered my name, said hello and said he’d pray for me, and told me hope when I was in the grip of bulimia and losing the plot. I held on to the peace in the evening services as we prayed. But then he did – was doing? – that with the young men. And that was pure hurt and wrong and never never can in any way be alright and so so much harm has been caused to them. What does it mean that I thought something he did was good? What was his thinking when he did the things I thought were good? Would I have become complicit? Why did I think he was kind – someone who could do things like that? Am I so so bad too if I could think he was kind? Am I somehow open to being taken? Taken and used and used to hurt even without knowing?

Yet again. There it is. Used to hurt, doing bad, doing bad without knowing.

Can good be done without good being the intention?

Does that just reinforce that bad can be done without knowing too? Does that mean you can be bad without knowing?

Ginny – – – but not Ginny, really, tonight. Ginny’s got a bit lost right now. Tonight I’m still the frightened child. (Dissociating again.)

I’ve called her Lily – the child. I’ve called her Lily. She’s always there.

Lullaby (5) – Makes my heart smile, to know that you give love so freely

I met my friend and her new baby B. today. She is perfect, beautiful, adorable, cuddly, with inquisitive eyes (when she woke up!), rosy little cheeks and already crowned with lots of soft black hair that loves to stick straight up and you can tell will soon make cute little bunches on top of her head.

There is something very special about the rush of love that fills me when I hold a little child. Much as I fear having my own children and fear I would not know what to do, would not know how to be gentle enough or how to keep my patience when they cry and cry or do not sleep the night for months, or how to know what they need, holding B. today the perfect trust she showed as she cooed and nestled in to me and went to sleep soundly, as though she had found a “safe place” of her own, pulled at my heart with protective love.  As she laid on my chest I knew it was a privilege to be loved by her unconditionally and to protect and adore her and wish to give her everything good.

And B. is not my child – how much more must those feelings be as a mother!

B’s mother, who has encountered with varying degrees of proximity many distressing family and childhood situations, including ill treatment and abuse, said that she has asked herself how inconceivable it is that anyone could ever do a child harm.

Part of me would long for my own family and I have been touched by love for and delight in my friends’ children, including my godchildren. Equally I am stunned that my friends did choose me as a godmother, being so sure myself that I do not have anything good to give and if only they knew how very bad inside and dangerous I really am. I even won’t go to spend time with my friend if her boys will be there, sometimes, because I am so afraid I might do something that hurt them – either unconsciously, in a dissociative state, or because I’m just bad really – or that I would only upset them. If I were a mother I’d be afraid I had no idea how to raise a child, what to give them, how to teach them, and that my patience would run out.

My fears intensified when I was babysitting years ago and the child I was caring for was in the midst of a tantrum and the voices in my head started telling me that I was going to hit her. I was terrified. So terrified that I shut the child in her room and myself into another room and left her alone crying because I thought that was safer than what I was going to do. I was very disturbed afterwards and starved myself in the following days as punishment. I have never babysat since. It was all the proof I needed how the evil was going to erupt from me.

Today B. slept in my arms. Today she just wanted cuddles and love. Today the love cast out some of the fear, whilst I held her. It really touched me that I had been open with my friend about some of the awful things going on in my head – my BPD, my hallucinations and obsessional thoughts – and still she wanted to come to see me and let me hold her child and trusted me.

“For perfect love casts out fear,” the Gospels say. In the moments that little baby melted the fear in my heart, I began to understand.

There’s a fight in my heart and my head right now because as soon as I left my friend and baby B., the anxiety grabbed at me and I’m terrified again; something cold and horrible is clutching at my chest. It’s as though all the knowledge that I’m bad and fears of the evil in me are redoubling their efforts to break me, so as to punish me for loving and trusting and being happy with B. Tonight’s going to be a very hard and scary night. I’m going to try to keep loving.

Ginny xx

This song by Vienna Teng, “Anna Rose”, speaks very much to me of the tender love between a parent and child and the delight children’s non-judgemental acceptance and trust gives us.