Month: March 2016

Did I actually just enjoy something?!

Since I came back from my lovely weekend stay with my friend L and her family a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been thinking back to it thankfully and often. In that weekend I felt genuinely positive emotions that have been absent for me for a long time (we’re talking years). Things like happiness at my goddaughters’ interest and excitement at our little activities and projects.  Their unboundedly curious questions showing perspectives so different from mine, especially different from my exhausted autopilot. Time with L. and real thankfulness for the strength and comfort her non-judgmental empathy gave me and really wanting to be there for her too, glad to be able to talk and share in her life, worries, joys, and so on.

Yes, the hard things were still there too. Voices, doubts, exhaustion, anxiety, it doesn’t magically go away. But the good experiences were so unusual for me that they particularly give me pause and I am all the more grateful for them.

Their good is lasting beyond the days I spent with L (nearly 2 weeks so now) in a way that’s more than just a happy memory. Perhaps it’s because it isn’t just a memory in my factual thought; it’s an emotional memory too. That’s stronger and more active and has a more continously creative effect on how I feel. I’m enjoying it and trying to nurture it, in thought and in prayer and in trying to build up some more creative, good experiences, especially where I can give or share something to someone else in even a small way. One thing I’ve been doing in recent days is making greetings cards, which I used to love but had completely lost all motivation or creativity to do. And I’m actually enjoying it, even looking forward to it. I can’t think when I last genuinely looked forward to an activity like this.

Maybe I’m starting to understand what a doctor told me when I was an inpatient in 2014 – that the more good experiences and memories you create, they can slowly begin to replace the terrible re-experiencing of traumatic past events and the automatic nature of obsessional thoughts and the power of the voices. I could not understand how this could work at the time though I really wanted to believe it. Later, in the most desperate times I was furious if anyone began to suggest anything like it. The suggestion seemed to trivialise the terror I was locked into. Yet now, I think I might be beginning to understand it.

Ginny xxx

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All I want is to be your harbour

Sail your sea, meet your storm. All I want is to be your harbour. The light in me will guide you home, all I want is to be your harbour. Fear is the brightest of signs – the shape of the boundary you leave behind….

I love this song by Vienna Teng, “Harbour“. I feel it will inspire a couple of posts over the next few days 😉

I pray I can grow stronger and be able to be there for the people I care about so much, as a safe place and a harbour and a faithful, un-judging, unwavering, companion. I pray we can all find our own harbour.

To everyone who sails this turbulent sea and just by being here, helps me meet this storm –

THANK YOU.

Ginny xxx

 

Happy Easter to you, with love

Happy Easter to you, with love

I should have posted this yesterday, but better late than never!

Wishing you a very happy Easter! I pray that this time bring you good in all the little things, and that each day something brings you hope, something makes you smile, something makes you remember good times, someone shows you friendship, someone helps you know that you are dearly loved, and that peace enfolds your heart.

Thank you so so much for taking the time to come by here. I am very thankful for you. You mean more than I can express.

Sending big hugs.

Ginny xx

5 Things – update

I’m sorry for the late update. Yesterday took a rather unexpected turn. If I tell you one thing to be thankful for was the nice A&E doctor, you’ll start to get the picture! :-0 🙂

I fainted at work and had so much pain I went to A&E. I wasn’t sure whether to go or not especially as this is now chronic, but work pushed for me to go.  It was the worst pain yet. It was probably the right choice to go as if things had got even worse later at home I’d only have been even more stuck and maybe ended up going anyway. As it was, they were able to give me a stronger dose of analgesics which have started to control the pain so that is really good. It took about 4 hours before I could walk slowly without feeling so dizzy I thought I’d faint again. I got discharged home in the late afternoon.

Roll on the surgery…

Still, I promised to update with the 5 things I’m thankful for, so here goes:

1 – That I have a caring manager and colleagues who really did seem to care more about my health than the trouble my absence would cause on a busy Saturday. How different this was from all my previous experience.

2 – The particularly caring doctor at A&E. It matters so much to feel listened to and that a plan is put in place to manage and cope better with symptoms when they can’t necessarily be cured immediately.

3 – The friend who most unexpectedly was in the area and came to bring me some grocery essentials and stayed to talk a while.  Someone caring enough to go out of their way to give practical help and give me company made a huge difference.

4 – A sea of beautiful daffodils spotted on the way to work. Pretty things are close at hand if you force yourself to look.

5 – My hot water bottle and my blanket!

Ginny xx

 

 

Today I will find good

Ouch. The pain is really bad this morning and I’m exhausted, anxious and don’t know if I’ll get through the day at work.

Today I am deciding to find as much good as I can. Today I commit to notice and be thankful for 5 good things around me. Today I commit to hold onto hope. Today I commit to find every small way I can to go that little bit further and bring help and happiness to others.

I’ll post the 5 thankful things later today.

Wishing you good today.

Xxx

Meanwhile, in gynae news. ..

(Apologies gents – look away now if you wish 🙂 !)

A special thank you to those of you who have been wishing me well with the gynae treatment. I got some more good news this week – a date is set at the end of April for my surgery! I’m very surprised it is so soon. I’d expected to be waiting months.

I’m really pleased that this hopefully means some help and some answers soon.  Today I’m in a lot of pain again and feeling very faint and I’ve had less than two weeks between one period ending and the next starting….ouch….. so it’s good timing for this news.

I have to attend a drop in clinic to have a pre-assessment before the surgery. I’m also expecting to be sent for an MRI scan.

All in all I just feel very fortunate that things are moving quickly.

Ginny xx

This is My Body broken for you – Good Friday of the Passion of Our Lord

Today is Good Friday (for another 40 minutes anyway, as I’m so late posting!).

Today we remember Our Lord Jesus’s suffering and death and begin the watching and waiting with Him – in His prayer in Gesthemane, in His arrest, scourging, crowning with thorns, trial, carrying the Cross, crucifixion, death and burial. At the Cross and at the tomb we wait and watch with Mary his Mother and the disciples.

Today tells us Love came down to us. Our Jesus suffers with us and we with Him. He too cried out in desperation, feeling forsaken. He too wept. He too hurt and bled. Today tells us that in the hardest and darkest times when everything seems lost, everything covered in darkness, everything of you poured out – in that very moment love can still be at work and hope, though yet unseen, can be falling to the earth. At the Cross, all seemed lost, all seemed hopeless, in terrible pain Jesus our hope – died. Yet in that moment His love is poured out and His saving work accomplished.

We wait. We kneel with Mary, watching and waiting. Hope is hidden. Our Lord is in the tomb.  Yes, we wait.  We trust. Today tells us, even in this darkness, even in despair, hold on, because you are beloved of God, and nothing is lost. Love and hope fell to the earth and was hidden – but then love arose! We wait in sure and certain hope of the resurrection on Easter morning and when Jesus is lifted up He calls us to Himself.

When we see so much suffering as there is throughout the world right now, when we are struggling with our own pain, when darkness covers everything for us, we don’t know how to respond. It can seem so huge our efforts seem to be of little worth. Perhaps first, part of holding on is learning to wait, and kneel, not in a passive waiting, but in certain hope that though we cannot yet see it, through our time of darkness, love is at work.

We are never alone. We the church are the Body of Christ. As He suffered so do we. At times He draws us closer to His Cross. Just as He is fully present with us and fully sharing every moment of our lives, so He gives us an active part in His Father’s saving plan. In His suffering on the Cross His love poured out and so in the suffering we – His Body – go through,  so His love also pours out. We cannot see the way out of the darkness but we can be sure love is at work and love has won the victory.

“I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and noone will take your joy from you.” John 16 v 22

Is that an absinthe with your coffee? – These fragile little changes.

Is that an absinthe with your coffee? – These fragile little changes.

Wednesday was a really difficult day. I had come back from my stay with my friend and my goddaughters and started to have a glimmer of the thought that perhaps, mentally I was feeling a little bit better for the first time since well before Christmas. I wanted to hang onto the good that the weekend with my friend had given me.

In what has become a frustratingly typical pattern, as soon as I began to take hope in this and the idea that I had a rest day to recuperate before going back to work the next day…. bang went that one.

First I got a letter about my Housing Benefit. Somebody thinks I earn nearly £300 per week and therefore they have stopped my housing benefit. My claim had already been suspended for several weeks whilst they recalculated the (clearly extremely complex – ahem!) change to my income caused by the fact that I am working 2 more hours each week. So I have been receiving no benefit whilst waiting for the decision to be made, and hoping to receive a payment. Now they have stopped it completely so I have nothing. £300 per week coming in would certainly be nice but certainly is not true! I have no idea where they got that figure from. It’ll be another trip to the Housing office on Tuesday to try to sort this mess out.

Then I spoke to the CPN working with the Victim Support services. She had been meant to call me a month previously. I am still too upset about what she told me and how she handled things, to be able to write very much about it. Basically she still flatly refused to help me or even in her terms “signpost” me to support.  The Personality Disorder Service have given her the impression that they are doing trauma work with me and meeting all my needs, which is just absolutely untrue. They are not, they have told me they have no intention of doing it, and they are not helping me access the services that would do it. She continued to block me at every turn as I tried to suggest ways she could help me.  Apparently I am just not allowed to have the support any other victim of crime would receive, just because I have a personality disorder, and apparently, everyone thinks this is fine and wonders why I’d need any help with the nightmares, hallucinations, flashbacks, panic, etc, etc…

I was in complete distress after that call. Once again, I felt as if I’d been tricked into trusting someone, brought to the edge, cut open, left as raw as possible (going through the inevitable distress of making the statement and reliving the memories and the vulnerability of having started to trust somebody to be there), then kicked, ridiculed, not believed and rejected. It was like going through being a victim of someone’s abuse and deception again.

Something inside me was different this time. Something resisted the instant urge to cut and cut til the noise stopped and overdose to freeze everything out and enter the safe, numb world and preferably lose consciousness. Perhaps there was some little thing inside me, built up during the weekend with my friend, or built up from the strength of having resisted self-harming for several days, and the grace and mercy of my God. This time I decided to make it different.

I didn’t shut myself away. I stayed outside and walked. I went to a cafe I know I like and that feels safe. I ordered a coffee (it’s the best coffee there, in my opinion) and the suspicious green concoction pictured. No, it isn’t absinthe 😉 don’t worry. It’s a very refreshing drink made from almond syrup, mint syrup, ice and very cold water. Odd, I know. LS., my favourite barrista there, invented it. Anyhow… so I ordered my coffee and I sat and wrote down everything I was feeling about what the CPN had said and how I’d been treated by her and all the wrong information that had been passed from the PD Service and other sectors of the mental health trust. I sent the PD Service and email to say that I would now be making a formal complaint. I also sent them another email requesting in writing the discharge summary / care plan and letters they have so far refused to allow me a copy of.

I went and got my nails done. I went home and made myself some food for dinner. Okay it was only cooked frozen veg and chicken with considerable assistance from Captain Birdseye*. But it’s the thing most reminiscent of cooking myself an evening meal that I’ve done since autumn. After dinner I didn’t binge-eat. I had some more coffee and I made several greetings cards. (Hand making cards is a hobby of mine when I’m feeling more well.) I took the proper dose of my tablets and I slept. I had nightmares and had to move back to the sofa half way through the night, but at least I slept in the bed for a little while.

So, you see, I did what I could to break the pattern and keep some strength going and not resort to only what hurts me most. Instead of cutting and cutting the hurt into myself, I wrote it all out on paper. Instead of imploding I started to take action, beginning my complaint. Instead of agreeing with the voices shouting ugly, evil, liar, etc, I pushed them away and did something nice for myself and something nourishing. Instead of letting the destruction going on in my head take hold, I tried to create something positive and pretty.

Here’s to these little changes.

Ginny xxx

[*For those readers not from the UK – “Birdseye” is a popular brand of frozen / part-prepared meat and fish products; Birdseye fish fingers used to be advertised by the character of “Captain Birdseye”]

A visit to my goddaughters

A visit to my goddaughters

This Palm Sunday weekend has been a special one. The last couple of days, I have been staying with my goddaughters’ family. They are several hours away by coach so I do not get to visit as often as we might all like, partly as I am very anxious about travelling and my physical pain exacerbated makes the journey tiring too. Visits have always been a blessed time. My goddaughters’ mum L. is my closest friend and when I was at college, I lived with her and her family in holidays when I was unable to live with my own. Though a long while may go between times we see each other at the moment, we stay close in friendship and prayer for each other and don’t seem to lose the closeness despite the geographical distance.

L. is a very non-judgemental person, extremely compassionate and reflective, talented especially in work, study and music, selfless and giving, gentle and sensitive to others and extremely accepting. I am so thankful, in recent years especially, that she accepts me however I am, whatever I cannot do, whatever I’m feeling, however rubbish I feel. She makes it okay. I dare to tell her more than any other friend how I really feel.

My goddaughters bring abounding energy and a lot of happiness. Everything is exciting and new. They ask questions that make me smile and open my eyes to notice and be mindful. They find purpose and feeling in every moment.

We made cookies and iced them. This took several stages through the day and a lot of floury stickiness along the way – mixing, forming the dough, kneading in dried fruits and peel, waiting, rolling out the dough, cutting shapes, building new ones, then finally icing. We coloured. We went to the soft play centre. We read books. We played with the inevitable Peppa Pig Princess Palace. We went to Mass for Palm Sunday of Our Lord’s Passion. I got to watch my eldest goddaughter in her very first ballet show where she danced as a twinkling star.

I’m thankful. My heart melted to see happy eyes, smiling faces, hands outstretched to me for a hug, genuinely and fully pleased to see me, which astounded me. Their trust and unreserved enjoyment found me deeper within and for once I did not feel as though I was only watching from the outside and for a while, the real was stronger and louder than the voices and the noise in my head. I truly am blessed by my wonderful friends in this family.

Tomorrow morning I go home. This weekend is a gift I will carry with me. I am so thankful and so fortunate to be cared about and welcomed and loved in this way.

Ginny xxx

Trying to be curious about trust #1

As you may know if you stop by regularly ( 🙂 thank you lovely people!!) I’m finding it very hard to trust the personality disorder service at the hospital (where I go for therapy) at the moment. It has become harder and harder over the last few months, in part due to repeated occasions where, in my experience at least, I’ve been let down, not had the promised support, or been turned away when in desperate need of help. I feel they do not believe me and do not think I deserve help and the more I’m in crisis the more they don’t believe me. Everything that happens confirms this now. In my last care coordination appointment I felt again completely dismissed, not listened to and that what was recorded on my care plan did not reflect what I was going through or needed, until I’d insisted time and time again that my care coordinator write what I actually said rather than re-phrase it in a way that minimised and avoided a lot of the issues at stake. Aargh….

I can’t explain it more than this right now because I will get so angry and out of control. Plus you’ve all probably heard me go on about it so much you’re bored 😉 ! Sorry.

I’m trying to be curious about my feelings about trusting the service and how they see me, as Mentalisation Based Therapy focuses on this and trying to be curious and open to different feelings and uncertainties about what is in our mind and other peoples’.

Right now, although I can try to examine different possibilities, I’m certain in my heart that the service don’t believe me. This doesn’t apply so much to my 1:1 and group therapy sessions. In some way the group feels honest and safe. Perhaps it’s something to do with my commitment being to the other people in the group, listening to them and being there for them, present with them, and sharing honestly as much as I’m able, rather than it being a relationship just with the service or the therapists. It applies more to when I need support between sessions, or when I’m in crisis, or talking about support outside therapy with managing daily life, or in my care coordination appointments.

After the experiences I have had so far, I am not sure what would now reassure me that they did and do believe me and do want me. I got on to thinking about how my recent falling out with a close friend N. involved my absolutely unchangeable feeling that she didn’t believe me, didn’t really want me, didn’t think I deserved help, and I was just a burden and irritation. I don’t know what would convince me otherwise (except, just perhaps, if she had come to help me when I was at my worst, in some of the times she was adamant she could not or should not come).

Not being believed and not deserving help is a big theme for me. Ultimately, I do it to myself too, because I can’t really believe myself. Some of my psychotic symptoms feed into that, with the voices in and outside my head telling me I’ve lied, I’m a fraud, that everyone knows and is thinking and saying I’m a disgusting fraud, cheated people to get help, and no matter if I may think I want to be good and try to do good, there’s all the bad things in me really and everyone else knows and I’ll hurt everyone in the end. Only self-harming in some form quiets this.

In my last 1:1, we talked about my recent falling out with N. We started going slowly through my feelings and thoughts step by step from the beginning of the day things really fell apart between us. We didn’t get very far through. Nevertheless it brought back a lot of the feelings of that day. I’d been feeling very bad about things I said and how things were left at our meeting and in our exchanges the week after (since which, we haven’t been in touch – I couldn’t anymore and felt she didn’t want to either, really). I’d been trying to write to apologise. But in the 1:1, what was even harder than this was that guilty as I felt (and still feel), a lot of the hurt is still there too.

As the memories of these feelings, and more of the feelings, surfaced in the 1:1, I suddenly felt sure that my therapist must think I’m a horrible, childish, needy, jealous, selfish, demanding, nasty person who thinks terrible things about people. Then I started thinking these things about myself together with feeling guilt, disgust that I was so evil, and worry about what would happen to my relationship with my therapist now she thought these things – I couldn’t say what I thought would happen at the time but now I think it was feeling that, oh now she’s started to realise that I really am bad after all and she’ll leave me and not want me around any more.

I was certain about what my therapist must think. Just as I was/am certain about what N. thinks about me. It was actually very hard for me to think curiously about what N. (or my therapist for that matter) would feel. I spend a lot of time certain and horrified about what the people I’m interacting with think about me, and feeling bad for what I am (because of what they’re thinking), what I cause, and the feelings that are then in me, confirming my self-disgust and self-hate. My self identity is somehow, in a way I can’t yet express properly, bound up with what I am certain the other person is thinking about me. My own feeling follows immediately being so certain of their thoughts. I am not necessarily at all able to access beforehand what I am feeling, and I am not necessarily able to think about what the other person is feeling (separate of me, as opposed to being convinced about their thoughts about me).

I am not necessarily bad at picking up what other people are feeling. Actually, I can be very accurate in it, and sense it before other people do. I’ll post about that separately and will put a link here when I’ve posted. However, in these situations, I’m entirely sucked into the certainty of their thoughts.

I am not at all able to “mentalise” – to reflect and be curious about what is in their minds and what they are feeling and what I am thinking and feeling. There is no possible questioning or genuine entertaining of different possibilities about the other person’s mind. I am absolutely certain of their thoughts about me and I have absolutely certain thoughts and feelings as a result. Even though I may at some level be able to come up with a distant idea of other possible thoughts that could be in the other person’s mind, it is completely disconnected from my beliefs and emotions.

Written down like this, it is quite easy to see that this could lead to or be part of my psychotic experiences. I am certain of other people’s thoughts about me. The voices repeat them to me. I feel disgust and guilt and horror of what I’m doing to people. Somehow I become linked with the thoughts I think the other person is having and I am all those horrible things.

I am starting to wonder whether I am actually having the thoughts (which I attribute to the other person) myself, and having the resultant feelings myself, but I am unable to recognise them or feel them in myself, and then for some reason attribute them to the other person as though I know for sure that they are thinking these things. Really they are just my own thoughts or feelings about myself.

Perhaps my certainty nobody believes me or wants me and my resultant inability to trust, is in fact simply nobody else’s thought but rather just what I think of myself – and the fact that I cannot trust or believe myself because I always doubt my own motivation for good or evil, because I have no identity except what I find in what I think are others’ thoughts.

I don’t know quite where this came from. Certainly my mother’s very unwell beliefs about thoughts and emotions during the time I was growing up, clouded my learning about my and others’ feelings and thoughts and the demarcation between them. Her deeply psychotic beliefs were pervasive and persistent. She believed that I knew exactly her thoughts even in advance and when I did not, she told me this was deceptive; she believed she knew my thoughts and intentions; she frequently presented to me my intentions as malevolent and manipulative in incredibly complex ways, when I was unaware of any such motives or thoughts (precisely because they didn’t exist, but I didn’t know that as a child); she made inconsequential, morally neutral actions (such as being able to do some particular thing or not) have a moral value or manipulative power (“repeatedly punishing her” for example); she perceived my emotions as controlling her and done to her (unless they perfectly matched hers); and this was coupled with dire threats (including her suicide, my father’s death, the family breaking apart, my parents being taken away) because of my emotions and thoughts – and of course, with the abuse.

I don’t know quite how to unpick that to find out how much does it explain how I now feel about others’ thoughts about me. Maybe I don’t need to and just need to find out how to change my certain, set-in-stone thought patterns now.

Oh my days I’m tired now and I need a hug. Think I’m going to have a hot bath and curl up under my blanket when I get home.

Ginny xxx