Tag: psychosis

The guilt I feel when I’m met with no response – Part 2

This is Part 2 of a 3 part post. You can find Part 1 HERE

I wonder how much of my misinterpretation of emotional facial expressions is because the people I grew up with, my current family members and I myself express emotions in a different way from the typical?

It occurs to me that I’m told that often I show no emotion outwardly, or that people can’t work out what I’m feeling. In a family member’s words, “we just have to have some kind of reaction out of you,” and “we have no idea what on earth is going on with you so it feels like – aargh – we can’t be dealing with this!” I’m often told this when internally I’m having really strong emotions of loss, hurt, upset, abandonment and fear, and having flashbacks. Sometimes I’ve wanted to keep my emotions hidden. Almost always I’ve tried to turn my feelings inwardly so as not to bother or hurt anyone else with them.

However at the same time I’ve frequently thought other people understand what I’m feeling inside (but don’t want to discuss it so I just have to keep going) when it may later transpire they had no idea what I was feeling. I will then find it really hard to believe they had no idea. I will also be upset because my attempt to keep inside the sad feelings I have, to keep going as you’re meant to and not draw attention to myself, then backfired and seems to cause anger and upset and accusations of being childish, spoiled, rude or disrespectful, and of making other people responsible for me. People have said things like “It looks like you’re accusing me of not looking after you,” “I’m not responsible for how you feel,” “Its not anyone else’s job to make you feel better,” “You’re a spoiled little brat”; I’m told I have to stop thinking about my own problems, should push them aside, should think what other people have gone for me, etc. Which is often exactly what I’ve been trying to do and nearly broken under the strain. I don’t know how I get it so wrong. I don’t know what other people are seeing at these times that is childish or rude etc. If I did I would have some chance of correcting it.

This reminds me that as a child being abused, I was daily really distressed, inevitably expressed it (til I learnt better) and got no help. I was at best ignored. More often the punishments redoubled and threats got worse – more threats of how I was breaking up the family, of how the couple of people I had and loved would die because of me and graphically how I would find them, of how my parents would be taken away. I was told I was a liar, faking what I was feeling, behaving as I was in order to cause worry and hurt to my abuser, to punish them because in some way I didn’t get what I wanted. One of my abuser’s paranoia about us being watched increased too. Her bizarre, possibly psychotic behaviour, and ridiculing of me, came to the fore. I tried my hardest not to express any feelings, even physical feelings. When I got ill I was terrified what would happen when my abuser and others complicit in the abuse found out. Basically I got no response or a terrible response, and none of the help I needed, from my main abuser and the person enabling her.

Both my abuser when I showed my emotions as a child, and family members now when I try not to show my emotions, said/say that I am childish, spoiled and hurting others.

When I do express my emotions now, the reaction from my family is rarely positive. Occasionally it is, but often it isn’t. The fact that it fluctuates is really hard to deal with. But that’s another story for another post.

My abuser’s emotions could change in a couple of seconds so I had to be constantly on the alert and do what I could to stay safe. She was either emotionless in all her expressions, or furious, or distraught, or ridiculing me. Occasionally she was happy but you got the sense it was only on the surface and sometimes it seemed like a trick, especially when it quickly flipped to anger or ridicule. (Her severe psychotic episodes were somewhat different.) Whilst I had to be on the alert to her emotions, I didn’t learn anything from her about normal emotional expression.

My other immediate family members’ emotions are also hard for me to judge, in facial expressions and verbally. I can fail to spot the onset of anger with me. At other times I’m overwhelmed by how they express it. I often interpret anger when they are actually feeling concern or upset. I interpret disinterest or rejection when they say there is none there.

So…. on the whole that does seem quite messed up, doesn’t it!?

To be continued in Part 3 (which will be what I thought I was going to write about originally!)

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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

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.

They’ve found her

My mother has been found. My abuser has been found.

It has been a little over a year since I first reported to the police the abuse done to me by my mother in my childhood and early adulthood.

Since I made my statement, the police had been searching for my mother to question her. It had come to the point that with her not being found for so long, part of me felt perhaps she never would be. Had she chosen to disappear? She had gone from her last known address, disappeared and ceased contact with the hospital that was treating her, no information about her whereabouts was known by the very few former friends and similar, and none of the few leads I could think of helped (a relative she might have had contact with, a place she worked a very long time ago and so on). Even the police’s searches of records held by places like the DWP or tax office yielded nothing (very strange since she must surely be claiming a Benefit, or a pension, or working). The police had even searched the death and marriages registers and were talking about the possibility she may have passed away. It was in my mind whether the time would come that I might have to accept that, though bizarrely without ever really knowing what happened to her.

Then at the weekend I got the news that the police have found her.

Shock. I was stunned.

So, now I am to meet with the DC who is working on my case, the same person who took my statement. He has spoken to my mother. I don’t know if he has interviewed her. I expect he must have. He has things he needs to tell me but felt we need to meet face to face to talk about it.

I’m in a sort of suspense til our conversation. There are so many questions and uncertainties and fears. Where was she? Probably the DC won’t be allowed to tell me. How did they find her? Perhaps he will be able to tell me how. What state is her health in? She was not in good physical health when I last saw her and her mental health conditions are severe; she never believed she was ill though. Has that changed? I doubt it – but perhaps that’s too much of an assumption. No, actually, it isn’t; given the years and years history anything else would be astonishing. What has happened to her since our contact ceased? She disappeared from contact with the hospital team – not surprising, sadly – so has she had no treatment since? What’s she doing? What danger is she in? And what danger is she to others, that’s in my mind too, because of what she did to me, and because of her violence when she is ill.

For me, what now? If she’s been questionned, what happened? What did she say? What do we do now? I can imagine what she will have said to the police about me. I’m trying not to imagine too much in general about this, as it can lead to no good. There is no point in imagining scenarios until I meet the DC. A big issue will be her mental state now, I think, and whether she has capacity to understand proceedings. I think another big issue will be how will there be any evidence of what I went through? So much happened when I was alone and isolated with her. The lack of evidence gives the voices in my head power and I’m stifled and paralysed quickly with the flashbacks on the one hand, the voices telling me liar, disgusting, your fault, you wanted it….

The last 2 days dissociative episodes have taken hold scarily often. I’m fighting them, sometimes. But often that makes me break too much or I’m too far in.

If I have to make some decisions over what happens next, how can I choose for good?

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

World Mental Health Day – William, Kate & Harry

World Mental Health Day – William, Kate & Harry

I’ve been impressed by the work the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry are doing to de-stigmatise mental health conditions and raise awareness of the importance of being able to access the help we need. You can read about what they have been doing today here.

To my recollection their work and their discussion of their own personal experiences (for example, following Princess Diana’s death) is the first time I’ve heard  a member of the Royal Family openly discussing mental health and wellbeing and the importance of responding with compassion not judgement and stigma. It’s encouraging to me to see this change. Recently, many friends of mine have met with really painful and dangerous discrimination and absence of help when they were really in need (as I have I too in the past).

I’m putting in an application for an opportunity through a service user involvement network to speak, from a service user / patient’s perspective, to medical students about mental health, discrimination and support. I’m happy students recognise the need to learn about it. I don’t know quite how this will progress or if I’ll be chosen but I’ll let you know.

Ginny xxx

Image thanks to http://www.aol.co.uk

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

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

Walking this Borderland #13: Tangled!

(For an explanation of the intention of this series please click HERE. )

In learning to sit with different emotional states, I’ve discovered that tactile, sensory experiences are important for me. I find warmth, softness, different textures, tastes and so on soothing and a major way of soothing and coping with anxiety and distress. Creativity and surrounding myself with an environment that feels safe and contains pleasant sensory experiences is a necessary part of staying stable and well for me. 

It’s not surprising then that I find certain objects are good for aiding self-soothing. One habit I fall into when I’m anxious, upset or emotionally uncomfortable is scratching and pulling at the skin on my arms, hands and sometimes face. Often, until it starts to bleed this is an unconscious thing, though it can also be something I’m aware of but irresistibly compelled to do in response to psychotic thoughts about evil inside me or mental images of having to cut things out of me.

Meet my new toy – it’s a Tangle.

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The Tangle is a bendy, twisty, small plastic form, made of lots of smaller sections connected together so it can be stretched out, bunched up, wrapped round and twisted into different shapes between your fingers. It has a smooth, pleasing texture. It’s very light and little, easily fitting in your pocket or bag. I’ve started carrying this with me and in times I’m likely to start scratching – when I’m waiting for something or when I’m nervous, for example – I hold the Tangle and fiddle with it. So far it has worked well to reduce the unconscious scratching.

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I’m sure no end of other objects would also serve this purpose and I also use a special pebble and a tiny stuffed animal toy for similar purposes.

Now, on the subject of Tangled, here’s another kind of “Tangled” – one of my goddaughter’s favorite Disney songs (from the movie of that name) which I have to admit is quite uplifting, for all it may be cheesy. We all need a bit of happiness sometimes and this scene is quite magical.

Ginny xxx

“At last I’ve seen the light” from Disney’s musical “Tangled” sung by  Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi.

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