Tag: hallucinations

Unenchanted April

I have wanted to post but not been able to find what to write. I’m sorry it has been nearly a month. Even this post I started nearly a week ago. I don’t know quite what’s making it so hard to express how I really am.

My friend’s health continued to deteriorate. I was fighting desperately to get him help as the danger he was in increased. Everyone in a position to keep him safe seemed oblivious to tune dangers and I could see how close he was to the edge but with no professional’s help I could not do anything more than what I can as a friend and that is not enough. It’s terrifying to be the only one knowing and believing the risk and I know that sounds like I am very arrogant thinking I know better than the doctors, but time and time again now I’ve known what’s happening or going to happen, the doctors have done nothing, refused even to listen to my concerns, and the thing I’ve known will happen, happens. The toll is greater each time. He has liver damage, blood clots, he’s starving himself, he is barely even drinking anything, there’s much more I wish I could write but it’s too personal to him for me to feel I can share here.

I don’t know how to carry this knowing.

I cannot save him alone. What someone else can give you, or trying to carry on for someone else, will not ultimately be enough to keep you safe or even alive. (I know this from my own darkest times, when I’ve been irretrievably low, hurting myself and planning to end my life, and someone close to me – who didn’t know the half of it – screamed at me, look what everyone is doing for you – why isn’t this enough for you? The answer is a post for another time but I know if he continues it must not be for me, not just for me in any case, so I alone cannot save him.

I can pray. I can try to give comfort. I can try to give compassion. I can try to show I love him and that he’s a good person not as he sees a problem, a burden, someone who frightens people, is bad, is not wanted, is no good. I can try to help him find some ways to build a safe, stable home and life. We can find short times of hope, happiness and laughter together. He has an immense capacity to love others, care for them and about them, to rejoice when they are happy, to fight to help them when they are hurting and share their pain. But none of that can he do towards himself.

He may die. He may end his life. I don’t know how to hold this knowledge and all the feelings that come with it.

****

I have been in crisis myself in the last few weeks and was in hospital for a couple of days. Then I had help from the crisis team at home for a week. When crises come I still flip out and instinctive reactions and thoughts take over along with the hallucinations just as much as they ever did before I had therapy. My “little child” gets out and she really isn’t very nice sometimes. It’s scary. I feel like a failure.

***

I’m realising that my mobility has got a lot worse in the last year. I’m particularly weak physically at the moment. I was diagnosed with POTS a little while ago (a heart, blood pressure and autonomic nervous system disorder). I’ve a lot to learn on how to manage the symptoms. Being very faint, muscle spasms, digestive problems and poor circulation have been hard to deal with this month. I’m now very fortunate to be in touch with a pain clinic at the hospital and there are some good possibilities from what they can offer, so I must be hopeful.

I really will try to post more regularly again and share happier news next time.

God bless you.

Ginny xxx

 

The wrong voices calling

The voices are very bad at the moment. My emotions are soaring and plummeting at the moment since my last group therapy and discharge on Friday. So it is not surprising the voices are worse. They often are when I’m emotional and stressed.

It’s as if now this stage of therapy is completed and I’m trying to hang on to the good and the real, the voices are getting louder (stronger?) trying to pull me back to the blackest darkness and terror where “reality” was my abuser’s words and threats. All morning I’ve heard her calling out to me. Sometimes just my name. Sometimes the things she’d say – mocking, detesting, making me an animal, less than human, threatening, confirming my evil and the terrible things that would happen (unless I gave in and gave her total control). I hear her. And it is terrifyingly real. It is totally outside, not an echo in my head. I turn towards the voice and dread grips me. It stays totally real to me even as I try to repeat my safety statement.

I am Ginny. I am 32 years old. Today is January 30th 2017. She is far away. I am safe now. I trust in God. …He created me for good not evil.

These aren’t the only voices I have but they are some of the most frightening and separate me most from reality. I don’t know how or if there is any way to stop or change the voices. If there is I haven’t found it in the therapy I’ve had so far. If I can’t change them can I lessen their power?

I try to remember,although the world created by my abuser was my reality – the only reality for 11 years and the most of it for another 14 or so – it is not the truth. The voice is not trying to do anything, or pulling me anywhere. It is a hallucination. It is a memory. It is not a person (now). A hallucination does not have a will or an aim. A hallucination is not physical so cannot pull or drag me. So why does it have power to cause me terror, to return me into the frightened child, to make it impossible to believe in my freedom or any goodness in me?

Several other people I’ve met who have personality disorders have shared having experiences of voices. In my 18 month MBT therapy, we talked about hearing voices in the group sessions. Sometimes for example, I’d share that I was struggling to stay present in the room because the voices were loud and scary and I was constantly being pulled away from reality. But in therapy we didn’t get to explore the experience of voices or how to cope with them, how they may interact with what you’re feeling and what is happening in reality, how they affect interactions… in therapy the focus was on using grounding techniques to move away from them and be present in the group and able to focus on others. Sometimes we talked a little about how the voices may affect our thoughts about ourselves and about others, for instance when we’re interacting with someone, leading to assumptions (they think I’m evil, the know I’m bad, that’s what the voices are saying) rather than curiosity about the other person’s thoughts.

However we didn’t talk about how to cope with them. We didn’t talk about their emotional effect on us, the way they pull us with them, the control they have even though it makes no sense, how they bring traumas right back, how what they tell us and make us feel is more gripping than our current experiences, if there is any way we can respond to lessen their power…

There is a place for using grounding techniques to cope and this is valuable. There is great worth in learning to be able to stay present for others here and now. Probably a value to staying present in the moment for ourselves. Yet I wish there were more than grounding techniques because there’s always next time the voices come. Their apparent power stays the same.

Perhaps I’ll look to see if there are any books that explore voices and how to cope. I’ve pretty much been told that the voices won’t go away but if I keep taking my medication, I won’t lose my grip on understanding they aren’t real. I feel I need to find more than that.

I would be very interested to hear about experiences of voices that anyone would like to share.

Ginny xxx

Tinsel, trees and memories

[Written on Tuesday 20th December]

Thanks be to God I made it in to the day centre yesterday, despite having been ill and “out of it” over the weekend. It was a ridiculous struggle to go, on the way I thought I was going to faint as I was so dizzy and all the way I was praying and fighting what the voices were telling me (and my body aching to stay in bed!). I feel so sick with myself that I was reluctant in doing a simple thing, just keeping my commitment to the day centre for half a day. Then again I did want to do it, really, in my heart. It’s the voices and pain, mental pain having more hold than the physical, that stop me. I pray my resulting weakened and ungenerous desire will be forgiven and eventually transformed if I do all I can to keep on the path and make my actions loving, whatever is going on in my head.

The Lord heard my prayers and guided me. Doesn’t He tell us He keeps us beneath the shelter of His Spirit’s wings! When I felt I could do nothing He gave me the peace I needed and carried me to the right place. It turned into a beautiful morning.

I had been a bit worried because the activities leader was on holiday, so we were to be short staffed and about 15 elderly people come to the centre on a Monday. When I arrived, I found out a new volunteer had started the week before and of course this was a huge help. I was facilitating a craft activity session. Four ladies joined me and we started making mini Christmas trees from empty plastic bottles, tinsel, felt and card. Whilst it was a difficult start, the idea of having an ornament to take home seemed to appeal, as did the brightly coloured tinsel. I was amazed how everyone got right into it and quickly adapted their designs so each little tree was unique. One lady in particular seemed very discouraged and for several minutes kept telling me how rubbish she was at anything like this and that she should throw her tree away. She has a disability affecting use of one of her hands and I think this makes her feel very sad and frustrated. However, during the activity somehow, she grew a little happier and interested in choosing the colours of felt and glitter for a star to top her tree. By the time she finished, she was talking about taking her tree home and she started everyone talking about where they would display their trees. “I’m going to put mine in the front window so all the children can see it when they go past,” one lady said. I was overjoyed that together we’d created some happiness and a sense of achievement.

The other activity I had planned was making a paper star / snowflake. This didn’t go down quite as well on a practical level, partly as we were a bit short of time. It also seemed to be more confusing and less enjoyable than I’d anticipated. This is a valuable experience for me to learn what’s enjoyable and what’s not. I thought the snowflake would be easier than the trees but that was not so. Possibly it was harder to see what we were working towards and for people with some dementia maybe following a set sequence of steps which had to be done in a specific way, was more frustrating than an activity like the trees which didn’t have such a right or wrong. However, though we didn’t make snowflakes, the topic of paper decorations brought back memories for the ladies of Christmases in wartime or when their children were young, when making ornaments from newspaper and scrap paper was popular because there weren’t the materials or money to purchase decorations.

My soul is emptied of a little of the chaos in times like these mornings at the day centre, as I’m focused as completely as I can on creativity and trying to bring encouragement to another person, love them and show them care.

Ginny xxx

Awake but locked into my dreams

I had a terrifying experience whilst I was waking this morning. Recently my flashbacks and intense dreads have blended with nightmares so that the flashback will first work its way into the dream, then I’ll be locked for a long time into a state where I feel I’m conscious (and I’m aware of physical sensations in the real world like the feel of the mattress under me or noise outside) but the flashback continues all around me and I can’t move  and often can’t open my eyes from it. In my hallucination / dream I’m screaming and panicking to move and get free but for a long time I can’t. Usually when it eventually ends I’ll be able to move and full consciousness returns and I’ll be very upset. Occasionally I go back into sleep for a time.

Today’s experience has left a peculiraly lasting fear with me although it was bizarre and did not involve explicitly reexperiencing a past event or threat. Afterwards my anxiety was really high, I was shaking, crying and for about 4 hours I felt as if I was bordering on a panic attack. I spoke on the phone to a family member, about what had happened but also about other nice things like how they were decorating for Christmas, to ground me and draw me back to the real world. A little later I forced myself to go out, pushing through the panic and feeling so dizzy and faint. This also helped and I was rewarded with beautiful gentle afternoon sunlight. Ducks and gulls were circling over the river and the sunlight in the trees through the mist gave a delicate pastel glow. I went into town and got the last couple of Christmas gifts on my list. Somehow, reality became a little firmer and safer.

I apologise that the rest of this post may not be terribly interesting to anyone but me. Reading about my dream or hallucination probably isn’t very appealing! I have written about what I experienced as a way of processing it and accepting that it happened, facing it and hopefully making it a bit less scary. Also, I think what I experienced tells me about ways I am feeling (in the real world) trapped, scared and dissociated from a couple of identities within me which I don’t allow to speak or feel and one of which doesn’t really dare be heard. I think it may be useful for me to come back to this later.

****

In one of these bizarre conscious-but-trapped states (is this the horror people with Locked In Syndrome feel?), I was panicking desperately trying to fully awake, open my eyes and get off the bed, when a woman I couldn’t see came to me and told me that my friend A was very sick and going to die. She had not asked for me and wouldn’t, but I must go to see her.

In real life I lost touch with A several years ago. We were never very closest friends but we connected over various work and discussions at church and spent some time together and I felt somehow that A, an extremely private person who very rarely spoke of herself at all and shrank away from any time spent on her, struggled deeply inside with fights I could somehow empathise with.

In my hallucination this morning, I decided immediately that yes, I must go to her, and so I stopped screaming and panicking about not being able to force myself up off the bed. I started to go with the woman I couldn’t see to A’s house. I asked her, what about A’s husband G (in real life A is married). The woman told me G was overcome with sadness for A and couldn’t any longer reach her. He didn’t know what to do but he wanted me to come. The woman I couldn’t see and I went to some kind of building I don’t remember, except that there was lots of wood and it had lots of rooms or passages. The woman I couldn’t see was gone suddenly and I wondered how would I know where A was. But then suddenly I found myself in A’s room. I was aware that her husband G was in the room but further away in the corner not able to come closer, though he wished he could. At the same time my terror resurfaced and came to its peak and I remembered again how I was trapped and couldn’t move. I was being crushed by terror and dread. A was in her bed; she was really sick; she was dying; though I was really afraid I absolutely had to look at her without fear. Despite the fear I was longing to look and be with her.

So, with all my courage and in so much pain I looked. Suddenly I was right by her bed kneeling on the floor wanting to take her in my arms and hug her. Then the utter terror returned because at first I couldn’t see her. Then I realised with horror she was all covered over with these richly embroidered sheets and cloths – like altar cloths or priests’ vestments, I thought – and her hair was covered as though she were a nun… but somehow she had become fused or blended with the bed. It was surreal and frightening. Then she looked straight at me and I remembered the pain she was in and how her husband was hurting so much but couldn’t reach her anymore and couldn’t go on. She smiled at me and told me I do not need to be afraid.

Then suddenly she was in intense pain. It gripped her. She was no longer fused to the bed but sat up then fell forwards near the foot of the bed. She was no longer covered up by the sheets or dressed as a nun; instead her hair was loose and she wore a childlike flowery dress. I reached out to soothe her and rub her back and cried out, what should I do, all her muscles were rigid with pain. Was she going to die? Panic cosumed me. I started to pray the Hail Mary, but part way through I suddenly could not remember the words even though I pray that prayer many times a day. I was looking right at her hurting, and completely helpless.

Then suddenly the bed and room was gone. She was taking me through corridors I didn’t know. Where was G, I thought. Where were we going? I wanted to get out and get away. I couldn’t even say one simple prayer. I must be going to go to hell. That must be where she’s taking me. I’ve run out of time. Again, I was fighting and crying so hard to move and get off the bed and open my eyes and make it stop. Still I was totally frozen.

Then somehow, we were in an elevator going up through different floors. My friend A was in front of me now. She was still wearing the flowery dress. She was going to heaven, I thought, and I wished I could go too. A wasn’t ill anymore. She was happy. As the elevator went on I got more and more scared and kept trying to move though I still could not. Each time we stopped at a floor I was sure this was my punishment and damnation. I was going to be thrown out of the elevator doors. I couldn’t see or don’t remember what was on the floors we stopped at. I was scared but eventually A was smiling and telling me not to be afraid. We were on the way up.

Eventually we stopped and the doors opened. You see, A said. It’s all alright. We walked out into a room full of tables and there were people I somehow knew to be A’s family members, as well as her husband who was no longer separated far away and could now reach her, and the woman who I couldn’t see when she had led me earlier. Don’t be afraid, it’s the way to heaven, said the woman.

Then the hallucination ended and suddenly, at long last I could move and stand up. I was in intense pain through all my joints and in my muscles, as though they had been cramped or under exertion for a long time. Despite having felt so frozen still, actually at some point during the night I had moved a lot because I had kicked covers off the bed and knocked booklets off the bedside table. Waking, I felt unengaged from the real world for a few minutes, then dread and anxiety boiled up inside me and it became terrifying how I had been unable to move and unable to step out of the hallucination. I was intensely afraid for a short time that something had happened to A, yet then I saw clearly that what I’d seen did not mean that, this time. Sometimes I do have thoughts and dreams about people that tell me something isn’t right with them, but this was not one of those times.

I think this is all to show me important things but I have not yet figured out how to express them.

Ginny xxx

Self-care

Yesterday I put on makeup for the first time for a long time. It was an ordinary day. I used to always wear a lot of makeup and coordinate some of the colours to my outfit. Then I stopped. I was exhausted and down and couldn’t find any will to take care what I looked like. The emotions that would surface when I looked at myself in a mirror for any length of time were unbearable. I felt revulsion. I’d start scratching at my skin, the emotion seeming to creep there and take hold like a rotten, evil force that I wanted to cut away.

Yesterday I was motivated to begin to take better care of myself. I got out the mirror and for the first time in as long as I can remember, the hatred and revulsion didn’t come overwhelmingly to the fore. I started to put on makeup and actually once I’d got through starting, I enjoyed it. Somehow, I began to feel a bit better, more prepared and lifted from the pervading exhaustion.

I carried on. Later in the day I painted my nails red. I used some nice moisturiser. I began to try to think caring thoughts towards my body and come up with caring replies to counteract the shouting voice in my head telling me I’m disgusting.

It’s a tiny couple of steps but it’s a start and each time I can do something caring to myself, it reminds me and strengthens my resolve to come up with new images of myself and new answers to the voices.

Ginny xxx

Fear, tears, pain, joy, guilt, thankful, anger, strength, shaken…

The emotions are crashing over me now. They stayed temporarily a little distant in the activity of yesterday afternoon and today. Now the activity has stopped. The rush of mixed experiences of the past week is temporarily still. I am physically utterly exhausted, shaky and hurting and it’s all I can do to get across the room. Sitting I feel like I’m being crushed. I’m cold and my chest aches deeply. I’m curled up in my dressing gown and blanket, needing all the comfort and grounding I can get. I feel childish and guilty for saying that, because I have no right to – what have I been through that’s so bad? – but it is true.

There’s so much to take in right now.

Intense waves of scary emotions jolted me through the week, especially fear and anxiety I cannot attribute to a logical cause that was there at the time. On reflection perhaps it was an emotional flashback to earlier times and threats, both distant (childhood) and more recent.

The hallucinations strengthened – auditory, visual, sensory – and scared me more.

My escape imaginary world was closer than ever and its pull stronger than ever.

Anger is raging and rising uncontrollably in me against my stepmother. All at once I feel huge guilt, fear, hurt, rage, the need to express what I feel and the impossibility and danger of ever actually doing so.

It’s feeding anger against my dad again; then against both of them together.

More memories of specific painful derogatory, demeaning, restricting, humiliating things my abuser did have been coming to the fore, along with memories of how her abusive power was perpetuated, and then in turn, more thoughts of how it feels – and this is so scary to write – similar patterns still repeat in my family. I need to get away from that.

It was goodbye to a friend in my therapy group for whom I care very very much. I’m still crying for her.

Another member of my therapy group to whom I also feel a particular connection, has suffered an unimaginable avalanche of hurts, struggles and illnesses. Now, he has been diagnosed with cancer which is likely to be late stage. The end of his life could be close. I’m crying for him.

Today was a special day. I had a little coffee morning to fundraise for Macmillan Cancer Support (part of the “World’s Biggest Coffee Morning” Macmillan run nationally). It is the first time I have ever done an event like this at home (following on from the courage I gained from having had some close friends over for my birthday earlier in the year). My anxiety was huge. I put as much as I could into the preparations. Good things happened today. My guests’ care and kindness was wonderful. This fills me up with gratitude.

So here I am now, afterwards, with this whole mix of soaring emotions. All of them I need to face and there is a lot of work for me to do. My individual therapy is tomorrow and I’m so glad. When the emotions are too much, every so often, I’m going to try to return to the thankfulness for today and remember everyone’s enjoyment and generosity. Somehow, this just a little restorative.

Ginny xxx

Trying to climb back up out of this ice

It has been a really full month. I feel disoriented realising it’s September already and so much of the year has slipped past. I so much want to write today but I’m feeling shattered and something else weird and disturbing. Just low and empty and I can’t find my thoughts or find the way out of it. I guess it’s just emotionally cut off. I was really upset, really anxious, then happy and something almost felt like it woke up part of my mind that is not usually there as I felt hopeful about something…..but then hallucinations and then with no warning, this. Never felt quite like this before and nothing that’s happened today explains it or touches why I’m feeling this way. I used to self-harm in this kind of state. Now I can’t even do that. It feels like I should sleep but sleep is far away. There isn’t even anything harmful in this state itself. It’s only inside me. So why is it so unbearable…. I don’t know how to wake up out of it. I’m trying to fight through by writing, trying to do any little creative thing, draw something, keep on grasping to try to find the so so many things I should be knowing I’m thankful for right now no matter how I feel, and even was feeling thankful for, really was, until a couple of hours ago.

I haven’t blogged for ages because so much has been going on this month and taken all my energy. I’m sorry. I know I owe replies… I haven’t been here and haven’t kept up reading or keeping in touch with everyone…through everything you’ve been going through. I’m sorry.

I’m trying to find the way back up. There are several topics I do want to write on when I can manage to process the words and get them down, and so many posts I want to get caught up reading and comments I know I owe replies to!

Ginny xxx

Not my GP

I’m very fortunate to have been able to consistently see the same GP most of the time over the past two years and to have a mostly good rapport with him. I know this is a help that lots of people don’t have. My Surgery recognises the importance of seeing the same person if you have to attend regularly and have ongoing health problems. I find it helps so much practically, in not having to constantly go over your history every time and the cost on time and your emotions that this incurs, as well as gaining confidence in someone. I don’t find it easy to trust new people and the effect of the voices and hallucinations can be worse when I’m meeting with someone new and afterwards.

Tomorrow I have to see a different GP. The Surgery called me this morning and explained that very sadly, my usual GP has suffered a family bereavement and will be off for many weeks at least. I am sorry and sad for him, all the more as I think he is a really good person, so I feel all the more empathy with him in this loss. It’s very sad.

Tomorrow I am seeing a GP who I have not seen face to face before but I have spoken with on the phone. The conversation and trying to get help has almost never gone well. She has been what felt very dismissive to me. I don’t think she believes me. She has told me that I’m making nasty threats when I’ve been feeling suicidal and self-harming and trying to get help, absolutely at the most desperate I’ve been. She’s hung up on me. I’ve ended up getting very angry and distressed in response. It was after speaking with this GP that I completely lost it at the Surgery a few months ago. They called the police and I know that I scared people by being so angry and losing control and that they were worried about me. When the police came I was sure they needed to arrest me and begged them to take me away because I was so afraid I was going to hurt someone and was terrified of my loss of control.

I’m scared of losing it again and also scared of not being believed. Things haven’t been good this past week but I’m scared of talking about anything in case she interprets it as me making threats or thinks I’m lying. I’m sure already she’ll think I’m lying and that she hates me. I was sure of that as soon as I spoke to her last time and I’m even more sure now after how badly I behaved when I lost control. I need to get my medical certificate renewed but I don’t know what she’ll do – she has not seen me before and doesn’t know me – and I’m scared she won’t agree to do it. For some reason I’ve already convinced myself she’ll think I’m lying and she’ll say nothing’s wrong with me. She’ll think I’m a fraud and don’t deserve any help.

The voices are screaming at me in my head about what she thinks of me and all the evil, fraud, liar kind of accusations, telling me what to do to hurt myself, telling me all the terrible things I’ll do if I don’t, horrible images behind my eyes that disgust me.

There was no other GP I could see tomorrow. I didn’t feel I could say I didn’t want to see this GP or explain why because it would be rude and I feel so guilty for how I lost it before and how I upset people. I’ve booked in next week with another GP I know and trust and I know that will help and that it will mean however tomorrow goes, I still have this appointment next week with someone I am comfortable with. So that’s a help.

I’m already so anxious thinking about it and having panic attacks. I am so tempted to just cancel the appointment tomorrow. But I know I need to talk to someone and I do need to try to get the certificate renewed. I’m getting triggered so quickly by feeling I am not believed, which is ironic because I struggle to believe myself as the voices rarely give me rest from their suggestions (sometimes slowly increasing doubts, sometimes overwhelming screams) about how I’ve deceived people or how the evil inside me will be exposed. The emotions associated with the past abuse are so uncontrollable and coming back to me separate from the memory of specific instances of abuse and it’s really hard to understand what’s happening.

At least after the GP appointment I see my support worker, who is someone I trust, so that will help me to stay a bit safer.

Ginny xxx

Feeling very useless again

I am feeling bad because I’ve not managed to post on several things I hoped to and a couple of them I’d promised to. I should just stop saying I’ll post on x at a certain time because too often I fail to! I should be able to stick to these things. It’s not just about posting; there are so many daily tasks that are taking me much longer than usual and things I want to get done that I haven’t done. It hasn’t been a great few days. I keep saying that. I’m trying not to think of them as bad days because that dismisses the good things that can still happen and the fact that the Lord is always bringing good from every situation.

I haven’t been feeling stable. I’ve had a lot of forms to fill in for out of work / disability Benefits. I’ve had to try to explain my conditions and go to assessments. My support worker is helping me a lot and the hospital I go to for therapy is providing supporting letters that have to go along with the forms I submit. Things are not going badly and without my support worker’s help I wouldn’t be getting through it as I am. It’s still difficult and raises a lot of obsessional thoughts. Whenever I talk to people about my health conditions in this kind of context, or ask for help, afterwards the voices go mad and shout at me that I’ve lied and I’m a fake and everything becomes terrible and hollow and full of dread and guilt. I feel so stupid because this means even when things go well and get sorted out, instead of pure relief, I feel stressed and I’m having to overcome what the voices and hallucinations tell me: that I don’t deserve the help, that I’m a fake.

Physically I am really struggling and getting scared by how little I can walk at the moment. I’m needing to sleep a lot. The pain means I’m needing to lie down often and I’m trying not to give into it as I know doing nothing isn’t good for me either. I’ve tried to keep at least stepping outside into my little garden and enjoy so many things I do have which are good, like talking to a friend on the phone, trying to create something pretty with my meditative colouring books, even an interesting TV programme or passage in a book.

I don’t want to keep on complaining and being negative so I won’t keep writing but I just wanted to try to explain how things have been.

Ginny xxx

A Very Hungry Caterpillar finds a home

I found this little guy when I was sweeping my patio. I thought he’d prefer a nice leaf to curl up on, rather than the paving stones.

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I am trying to tidy up my patio garden. It isn’t big at all – I have a patio door that opens onto a very small paved area and then a small flower bed beyond. I haven’t given this little space the attention I should since I moved in, largely as my physical challenges make gardening tiring and painful. Plus I’ve never particularly enjoyed it!

This week I’ve made the promise to start caring for it better. It is a blessing that I have this little outside space. I didn’t expect it at all and living in a flat it’s a privilege to have any garden. It’s a help for everything from being able to hang out washing to getting to sit outside, breathe, pray, ground myself in all the sensations of outdoors, and feel less isolated when I’m not well enough to walk far – I don’t have to stay totally indoors.

So I want to behave more thankfully for my little garden and take care of it and find ways in which, just maybe, I can create something pretty. It can be part of learning to give some time to creating a permanent and stable home, which I’m really not used to having, as until I came to this flat I was living between different kinds of shared and temporary accommodation where most of the time I stayed shut away in my one room, too scared of interacting with other people and too locked into my obsessional thoughts and hallucinations to leave it unless I could fulfil my compulsive behaviors and unless I could be sure I’d see no-one. I’ve had to leave so many places when I lost jobs, couldn’t make the rent, broke down mentally and was so disturbed I’d be asked to leave by the people I was living with.

Some level of security (though I’m not without financial problems) is a new thing for me and it’s hard to build on it. Any home I have, I expect to lose. Actually, for some strange reason i haven’t figured out yet, having a home and taking responsibility for it frequently fills me with panic. I feel like I’m losing control or can’t manage it, I’m out of control with everything I’d want to be in order (paperwork or cleaning etc) or other times I’m not sure what I’m scared of; something to do with I’m not allowed my safety, knowing it’ll be taken away, fears of being attacked or watched by my abuser and flashbacks associated to particular places in my flat. Having said that, I can feel safe in my home and I even have a place within my home where I surround myself with comforting and grounding things that help me stay safe when I’m dissociating, having flashbacks, the emotions are too much, and the like. I thank God for that. It’s so important for me to learn how to build on this otherwise I ignore the goodness of everything I have. Giving myself permission to trust in having security and knowing how to create an ordered home that I care for and give thanks for, is a new thing to me. I’m trying to take some little steps towards it, with my garden and trying gradually to bring more order to each room in my home.

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(Thanks so much to Cathy and her lovely blog at  https://cathylynnbrooks.com/ for reminding me how nice it is hanging out washing in the sunshine 🙂 – and as ever encouraging me so much to appreciate the beauty of the present moment in the little things. )

Ginny xxx