Tag: dissociation

Q – “Have you got your hearing aids in?” A – “Pardon?”

I thought I was losing my hearing. Over the past 2 years or so, I’ve found myself asking people to repeat themselves more and more often. I noticed it particularly when I was working in the department store. What customers said came over as a jumble of sound to me, often as though far away, or sometimes I’d miss it entirely. At the day centre where I volunteer, a couple of the elderly clients remarked that my hearing was terrible an I needed a test. Discussing this with a friend, she commented that she’d long thought that my hearing was worse on the right side.

So I booked a check up and hearing test.

I had my ears checked and syringed. Nothing remarkable was found. No mountainous heap of gunk blocking my ears 🤪.

I had the hearing test.

Everything came back normal.

What is happening?

I’m left thinking that my hearing “disturbances” are to do with attention, dissociation absences, or the effects of overwhelming anxiety. Certainly, high anxiety affects my attention span and my memory. I can talk to someone but not take it in, or not remember what someone has said. Dissociation definitely affects my memory and I lose big chunks of time, not knowing what I’ve done whilst I’ve been gone. If I’m very emotional, I may be unable to remember events before and after the time of heightened emotion.

Is my weird hearing loss / confusion also because of anxiety, distress or dissociated absences? So not only is my memory affected, but also the information does not come into my brain normally in the first place?

Does anyone else have this problem?

Whatever it is, it’s scary. It disconnects me from the people around me, as if I’m floating in a vacuum or surrounded in bubble wrap. Sound doesn’t pass through the bubble wrap wall at all, or if it does, it’s chaotic noise that’s very unsettling deep into my mind and body. It makes me scared and I just want to get away.

Maybe it gives me some insight into what it’s like for people who live with deafness.

Ginny xxx

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Coming back at 2.45am

I haven’t slept yet tonight. It’s unusual for me as my medications usually knock me out soon after my night time dosage. That sleep is one of the much needed escapes I rely on. My head is all light and floaty now but … no sleep.

I think it’s because I’m still in the process of coming back from a dissociated state that I slipped into at some point early yesterday evening. This is one of the times the process of coming back is awful and drawn out. The time for which I was gone was good on this occasion. I think it gave me some kind of release. I am not totally sure. I know the little-child-me took over. I think she was happy when I answered her at first. But she got very scared in the end. But coming back is horrible, partly because of the guilt about what I did whilst I was gone (it’s automatic before I have any evidence to know what I’ve done) and partly because of the confusing emotions I get whilst I’m coming back. Tonight the start of coming back brought this sudden switch to emptiness combined with a feeling of being bereft. Time felt distorted. Then jumpiness and feeling sure I was being watched developed as well, along with the recurring notion people were standing just outside my field of vision waiting to grab me (and do what I don’t know but it’s scary).

Suddenly exhaustion is tugging at my brain and I feel as if I’m swaying and I know I’ll sleep now. Writing it down seems to have helped.

Ginny xxx

Frozen, slipping, returning

I’ve a list of things I need to do. Call my energy supplier as my current gas and electricity plan is coming to an end. Write Christmas thank you notes (I always have them done by New Year so this is late for me). Type up notes for some admin I do to help my fiancé’s work. Read the material to prepare for a meeting on Friday. Clear up the house. Sort the TV licence payment.

Why do I feel like I’m drowning… no, stuck in a block of ice too frozen cold to move again? I can’t do any of it. Waves of exhaustion, vacancy, cold, fear, dread, crash over me even though I can’t find any immediate cause. I slip in and out of presence and dissociation. The guilt intensifies on every return.

My to-do list is an insignificant lot of things to most people, I know. I know if I told someone I am struggling with this they’d say it’s nothing and just day to day responsibilities. This brings back so many memories of times I’ve struggled before and family members have told me I have no responsibilities and I’m a spoiled brat. Here comes more guilt and fear wrenching inside.

What I have to do overwhelms me but it’s not really what overwhelms me – the waves, the cold, the dissociating and returning do. It hurts and takes all of me and if it weren’t for my fiancé I don’t think I’d be able to come back at all. I’d have no strength left.

Why now? When so much has been so good? (Ungrateful little brat, look what everyone’s done for you, why isn’t it enough – the voices scream, preventing me telling anyone about what’s happening because that’s what they’d say again.)

Is that just what trauma and depression and borderline do?

How can I try to escape from this ice and reach out and reach forward again? I know sometimes doing even the tiniest thing can make a difference at first. I forced myself to get up this morning, get dressed and put on makeup. Afterwards I was shaking and exhausted. Being more ill physically than usual doesn’t help. After some rest I made a little start on the paperwork I’ve just been sent that needs to be read for Friday. My mind was a blank for hours after that and I was gone for much of the time but at least I had achieved something not absolutely nothing. I’ll write this down in the journal I resolved to keep, to see if this helps me when I look back. I will be able to acknowledge what I did and somehow find a way to see good in this day and give thanks. Creativity sometimes breaks through the ice so I made a paper origami ball and did a few steps towards decorating the photo frame I’m giving my dad as one of his birthday presents. Then I really, really struggled with so much pain in my head and inside me, anxiety, hallucinations and unbearable voices and just… numbing cold.

I want to sleep now and I will soon and hope rest can shut off this state for a while. I don’t know if I believe even that right now. I forced myself to write this post bit by bit over a couple of hours because when I wake up tomorrow and read this, I’ll know I got through it thanks be to God, and something, however small, will be different in the morning.

Ginny xxx

Anger management courses – do they help?

I’m scared that I’ve become increasingly angry and less able to control it. Maybe I never could control anger. Under my abuser’s control I never felt it, except for a very few occasions where some feeling that probably was anger exploded, always severely punished. When I did start to feel it, when rebellious feelings grew, fear of myself almost always grew stronger, and so I channeled it towards myself with anorexia and self-harm. I lost control eventually, years later, but bulimia and binge eating, overdose and cutting still did well to numb my most frightening emotions. But then, and I don’t know why, I started to scream. Rage burned and exploded and my control was gone.

I did not learn, in the therapy I undertook for my personality disorder, how to control the anger.

It may not be the first emotion that takes hold of me but every difficult, unwanted, feared, painful emotion seems to work its way to uncontrollable anger that I can’t control. I still turn it against myself but it explodes outwards as well. Dissociation possibly gives me and others some protection but my “others” can get angry too and that’s so dangerous.

Recently, someone suggested to me that I could try an anger management course.

I’d never thought of this. On one level it’s an obvious thing to try. Why hadn’t I thought of it before?

I’d be very interested to hear about your experience if you’ve tried an anger management course, especially if you also suffer with PTSD or personality disorder/s. How did you do the course, for example a self help course or taught? How did it help or not help you? Is there a particular kind of course that will help those of us with PTSD or PD?

Thank you in advance.

Ginny xxx

2018

I haven’t managed any Christmas or New Year posts, at least not as I wanted to. Some wonderful things happened over Christmas so far yet I feel totally blocked when it comes to writing. After intense emotion I feel exhausted and shut down, even if the emotion has been good. Then shut down leads on to dissociation and being unable to be with anyone. That’s BPD. A lifetime of experience of Christmas and New Year as a very unstable, frightening time (abuse, rejection by family and so on, continuing well into adulthood) must add to why I find this a strange time. I need to pray and act to change this for my fiancé as well as me.

I wanted to be able to write about the immense gratitude and astonishment I felt at the wonderful parts of this Christmas and to share all the hope there is for my fiancé and me this coming year. I see that I’m going to have to take that slowly as it’s overwhelming.

So instead, I’m going to share what comes to mind now that I’m thankful for in the year just past, and how I’m resolving to make more space for gratitude in 2018.

  • I started working as an “expert by experience”, sharing my experience of my mental health conditions, my life, therapy, and getting (or not getting) help. I’ve been working with medical students, researchers and clinicians. Doing this has meant battling massive anxiety and some of my symptoms temporarily being triggered stronger in a scary way. But it has been a massive positive in the end. It’s given me the chance for my mental health not to be solely something problematic – for me to be something not solely problematic. If I can help students gain an understanding of mental health, if I can contribute to shaping research materials and methods, then my experience is working to the good.
  • This is a mixed one for me. It’s about 3 weeks short of 1 year since I was discharged from the specialist personality disorder service, because I had come to the end of the treatment course they offer. It’s mixed because of the difficult relationship I’d had with the PD service and because all mental health support abruptly ending like this was really really hard. I was left without the ongoing support that several doctors all agree I still need and with some conditions (such as my PTSD) left untreated and no prospect of getting therapy for them. Despite this, during the past year I have stayed out of hospital. I have needed crisis support on a few occasions and once this involved several days of help from the crisis team at home. However I haven’t been admitted as an inpatient. And I’m still here, somehow getting by, sometimes more than getting by. Though it’s hard to hold in mind, this is a massive change from say, 4 years ago, and I owe massive thanks for this.
  • This little fluff ball joined the household and she’s brought me abounding snuggles, purrs, laughs and love (as well as her fair share of moody or mischievous moments).
  • My greetings card making has very gradually taken off and it has been so great to see that other people enjoy and appreciate my designs.
  • I’ve discovered a relationship I never thought I could know in my fiancé’s care for me and his love that continues constant through all the things I’m ashamed of and hate about myself. Never did I imagine this kind of relationship, this kind of life together, could be.
  • Every week I look forward to the Day Centre where I go to keep elderly people company and lead art and craft activities. There I am “okay”. There I am part of the team and I am deeply thankful for that. We pray together. We are strengthened together. We share a little of how we really are that day and it’s okay. We find hope not the need to hide. We find creativity we often deny ourselves. The voices that crowd my head sometimes leave for a time as I’m engaged working for our elderly people’s happiness.
  • This year 2018, I want to really notice gratitude – preserve time each day to notice what has happened, what I’ve done, what I can give thanks for and to record this. One of the ways I do this will be keeping a handwritten daily and weekly diary, not much, just a few lines or words some days, but enough to maybe stop everything slipping by so fast, to help me to be present here and now. Too often dissociation means scary voids behind me when I try to remember the day or week just passed, whilst my physical and mental exhaustion mean overwhelmed panic at the next day and the future. Neither fosters gratitude or being present for my fiancé – or for God. I’m going to protect time each day to reflect and give thanks.

I’m praying for blessings of hope and for time to notice the good for you as we step into 2018.

Ginny xxx

The peculiar significance of treacle

Every year I forget how evocative certain Christmas smells are. Not just the more obvious things like candles and oranges and mincemeat and brandy, but certain specifics. It was black treacle and spices the other day, as I was making gingerbread dough. Suddenly as I counted out the syrupy spoonfuls I was taken back to being stood in front of another cooker, aged maybe 7, stirring the pan dissolving the sugars, with my mother watching. Chain smoking, of course. A knot of emotions expanded inside me as they did then. Excitement for Christmas. Some kind of enjoyment of doing a grown up thing. Delight at wanting to make pretty biscuits. Wanting to get it right and please my mother…. well, the desperate need to get it right, impeccably following the process she had shown me. That meant tenterhooks and anxiety and churning emotions, too often teetering on the edge of me ruining everything again (I thought). One mistake, one deviation from her instructions, her watching would explode into anger, ridicule, accusations and threats. Hours of shouting and violence would follow. And everything, I had made her do, and each time I’d have that sick terror inside that this time it was over and the threats were being fulfilled. Looking back and seeing how little was needed to tip us into that disaster, it’s bizarre. Laying a biscuit onto the baking tray in the “wrong” way (ie not the precise arrangement she required), not getting the bow on a package right fast enough, touching the wrong switch on the oven – even simply letting any of my anxiety show. It sounds almost as if it should be funny. But it isn’t funny when someone has you isolated, under their power and in fear; not in fear of them but in fear of yourself. Because one sure thing to me at the time was that it was my fault.

So, standing there measuring the treacle it all came back. As I’ve been making the biscuits over the last day or so, I keep being catapulted into so many emotions and suddenly reliving snatches of good and bad … And to tell the truth I’ve been pulled into the bad too much. Exhausted.

I’m fighting it, because there’s no way my abuser’s having this Christmas. This Christmas is for God and the present and my fiancé and it’s about all the good we can do and are thankful for today. I speak briefly, quietly to God as I roll the dough, cut, bake , ice, package these cookies. I’m pushing through the dissociation to do all I can to hope for this Christmas and for every flashback find twice as much I’m thankful for today.

Ginny xxx

House clearance

The house clearance turned out to be more emotional than I expected. The small local firm that did it were very good. Three guys came in a big van and 2 hours later I was looking at my emptied home. Unfortunately I was also looking at the large patch of hairball sick the cat had left under the bed without my knowledge which the workmen politely didn’t mention. Guess I can always hope they thought it was an unusual pattern in the carpet?! Actually I felt utterly disgusted. How badly had I been living that I could be unaware of a pile of cat sick?! That the damp in the bedroom had taken hold on even the one piece of furniture in that room I wanted to keep?

Clearing through my possessions in the days before the workmen came, as well as the hairball incident, left me with a question. How could I have let my home fill with clutter and hoarding, yet despite this frighteningly surging tide of possessions, I am still without certain much needed items? So many things incomplete? For example, though I’ve been over 2 years in my flat, I have not got the painting done and the walls are still patchy and stained just as they were when I moved in. The same shelves are broken in the cupboards, just as the day I moved in. I still don’t have a table to eat at. Yet I had 14 nail polishes pretty much untouched, baskets of broken jewellery, pieces of ripped paper I might supposedly use in a craft project one day, clothes stuffed tight in cupboards (shamefully hidden and many of them purchased in dissociative or irrational episodes for an identity other than “me”), and cluttering nick nacks covered in a film of dust.

My head was full with disgust at myself, confusion, failure, not knowing who I was. Who, what part of me, unquenchably acquired all these things? I am wholly responsible for it, but frighteningly out of control and unable to connect with who or why.

***

The neighbours must have thought I was moving out with all the bustle.

Despite the exhaustion and disgust I am gradually starting to see that this is a new start. My home is emptier. It is different now. The furniture I have left is not broken. It matches together as much as I can manage. Surfaces are no longer jam-packed. I can see space and calm and bit by bit I am attaining some of the mental quiet I so desperately need and I have been trying to achieve.

This is going to be a home I can make good for my fiancé and I; when we get married please God next autumn our home will be my flat. He has not had a home of his own, at least not one where he feels safe, for a long time. It needs to be different now for both of us. I need to look forward.

Ginny xxx

Absence

So many times I have tried to start posting again and been unable to write. Tonight at least I’m going to write something even if it’s rubbish.

I stopped because I felt I was constantly moaning, constantly apologising for the same failings then failing again, constantly sad, ill, unthankful, dissociated… and I’m in about the same place now. Shakier actually. When I started this blog I really didn’t want it to be like that.

Tonight I’m days into yet another period of being half gone, needing to be out of it, but knowing I can’t be too. And it’s twisting inside my chest, pulling me, dragging me, itching, hurting, voices getting louder, so desperately needing to do anything to turn it all off, but I mustn’t and I can’t. And this is rubbish. I can’t even get a tiny part of what’s going on inside, out. I used to cope in bad ways but I can’t even go to those ways now …. and everyone says oh it’s really good, you’re doing really well, but I’m losing my grip and imploding. Despite so so many things that are good or should be good and that makes it even worse.

Needing too much again

I need someone. And there isn’t anyone. It hurts.

I know that’s ungrateful. It really hurts right now and I’m very low. There’s never any answer to this longing need as we have no call to expect it to be answered when we’re adults. And I do have people. I have my GP, my support worker, the project worker who’s helping me continue my volunteer work, and my weekly art therapy. I have my friend L and her family. These are much more than many people have. I’m so fortunate to have art therapy and to get support towards volunteering and to be able to ask my support worker for practical help managing Benefits and finances. All these are extra blessings that help me go on. I’m thankful.

Why does it feel so dark right now? Why am I shattered and crying and really near giving in? Why am I still longing for someone to be here and hold me? I really wish for a friend here, someone who would be with me in some of the worst times when I’m scared and can only cry. The little side of me, the child, is hurting and my escape world too close, pulling me in stronger whenever I’m alone. Either that or I feel utter pain and loss. For all the support I have, I have no friends here near me. Let alone talking to anyone or sharing what it really feels like, the two people I know in the city where I live have ignored me or said they have far too much going on to meet at all. Based on so many lost relationships so far, I assume they find me too much of a burden to have any contact.

I cannot trust anymore as I used to try to. I’ve learnt what happens to friendships when I’m honest or admit I need help.

The police are still searching for my mother. I can’t begin to describe what I’m feeling knowing she’s missing and what it means, the indefinite loss, no answers to what happened to me…

All the time I was seen in the personality disorders service, I fought the feeling that they didn’t believe me, thought I was a fake, didn’t believe what had happened to me, didn’t believe what I was feeling when I was overdosing and suicidal, thought I was just making threats. They never kept me safe. I gradually built a tiny bit of trust in my group therapy. I found some things out this week that pretty much proved they didn’t believe me. And that took with it any trust I’d built and and hope that any of them, the service or most of the other group members, thought I’m anything other than a fraud and evil and nasty and manipulative. And anything I had gained in therapy starts to unravel and the voices in my head are right.

I’m trying to be there for my friend R and keep giving and listening and being responsive and compassionate. But I’m on the edge of a precipice with him and so close to falling. I can’t keep holding him when nobody holds me. Nobody helps me.

God holds me. God – “and I will say to You, my rock, my stronghold, my God in whom I trust.” God knows me better than I know myself. God knows my inmost being. I used to fear this. I used to fear Him because He knew how bad I really am and all the evil that will get out that I can’t control. But I just can’t see anything anymore. I can’t have any certainty myself and I can’t put my trust in anyone else. All my feelings seem twisted and wrong and corrupted by the abuse. I trust God. He sees. He sees whatever I do.

I don’t know. I’m confused. I have an uncontrolled childish need for comfort and not to be alone.

I have to fill in forms for going to see the lady who is helping me with goal setting and voluntary work tomorrow. But I can’t get my head round them and feel too low to do anything but sleep.

Ginny xxx

I don’t remember why – the guilt of my dissociative episodes

It is scary sorting through piles of possessions I do not remember buying.

As part of my recovery work I’m allocating time to take care of my home, household related tasks (bills, organisation, housework etc), in order to take responsibility for living an ordered life, to not get into trouble or overwhelmed with unpaid bills and tasks ignored until they become insurmountable, and to make a safe calm and even beautiful home. I had no home for many years, moving from room to room, moves often prompted by my mounting distress. When I was blessed to find this place, it took a long time to feel at all safe or dare to believe in any stability. Then gradually, it became an escape, flight not by constantly moving around but by means of a protective enclosure. Which is good in some ways and something I still need when things are too much, which is frequent, but now it is time for my home to be more than that; even a place and a life that supports my health.

Part of this is continuing what I’ve been trying to do for some time, which is clearing through accumulated items and clutter and organising the things I decide I do need. I’ve been working on this for some weeks or months on and off, tackling different areas. I’ve acknowledged for several months in therapy and with my support worker how I bought and accumulated items as a desperate attempt at escape, distraction and protection. I acknowledge how out of control my spending used to be and too often still is and how impulsively I buy things when in my dissociative episodes, apparently driven by some desperate need at the time that leaves me sick at myself and painfully empty afterwards when my consciousness returns, a massive blank missing in my memory and emotion, but the fallout of my actions apparent – money spent, arguments had, horrific things said, tablets taken, sometimes alcohol drunk and most of all items bought (usually clothes, makeup, accessories, things I’d never buy for myself “normally” or rationally). I hate myself then, most of all for the money spent on myself and the hurt I’ve caused other people.

I’m coming face to face with all this as I’m clearing through hoarded possessions. Much as I’ve been aware of and fighting these problems for months, it’s still very scary finding things I don’t remember purchasing and don’t know why I have. Perhaps it’s even scarier because I don’t really know why I do this when I’m dissociated. Why? Why do I buy things? Why do I become what the evidence means I am in these times – selfish, irrational, irresponsible, needy, childish, bad? What else am I doing in these times? The violent emotion that takes over and hurts people around me, but still I can’t control it – who am I and where is it leading? Why do I behave in ways I can’t remember, that people close to me say are terrible?

I’m scared. I want to take responsibility. I’m trying to carry on gradually sorting out my home. It occurs to me whether looking at items I bought in these dissociative states where there are huge memory gaps, will help me connect at all with what I was doing and who I was at these times. I don’t know.

Ginny xxx