Today I brought my therapist a trauma narrative showing ten years of ritualistic sexual violence. I haven’t been able to speak the words to her in all the years we’ve worked together, so I just took a chance and wrote it out. She read it in session and assured me that she saw no difference in me. I am glad of that.
We’re going to work through the trauma paragraph-by-paragraph until it no longer has a hold on my life and mind. It took five years to do this with my memory of physical trauma. I have no idea how long this journey will take, but I am so lucky to have a wonderful therapist at my side.
I walk in to this a terrified person who feels ashamed of her body at all costs. I hope to walk out of it with peace and pride. It has begun.
It isn’t often that I feel proud of myself, but today, I do. For the first time in 18 years, I had a ‘Well Woman’ exam this morning. This includes a breast exam, smear test and palpitation to check the uterus and ovaries. That’s a great deal of physical contact in very personal areas. My therapist and I have been working on this for a year or so now, and it’s finally done.
As my therapist and I planned, I identified myself to the nurse as a survivor of sexual trauma before even starting the prep. She told the doctor, who, upon entering the room, told me how brave I was to be there. This woman who had just learnt a dark secret from my past called me brave. She walked me through the whole process, even showing me the instruments that would be used. I began to relax a bit.
The nurse held my hand through the entire exam. When I got scared and dizzy, I just looked over at her and knew someone was on my side. It isn’t that I thought the doctor was against me; it’s just that she became a danger to me in my survivor’s mind the minute she touched me below the waist. The whole exam probably took five minutes, and I am proud of each one of them.
I’ve put this off for so many years now. It’s humbling that a doctor and nurse could work together so well to help me through it.
Tomorrow is a new month. Maybe I can get it together and do better at work. Maybe I can manage my diet and exercise routine better. Yes, it’s a new month. I will be better.
I have said this to myself at the start of every month for probably six months now, and it never comes true. At this point, I’m actually frightened about work. I need to do better there, but depression makes me forget there are real-world consequences to my absence. I try to work, and racing thoughts drive away my concentration. Mania causes me to not worry about whether I have a job. Who wants to worry when they’re manic?
As for diet and exercise, these are closely linked to mood. Manic Me can count calories and exercise with the best of them. Depressed Me can sometimes barely get out of bed. Middle of the Road Me does a decent job of things. She just isn’t seen often these days.
I’ve had so much trouble with mood symptoms that my psychiatrist is frustrated and considering personality disorders. He just can’t make me fit in to one of his boxes. The therapist told him that maybe the problem was him and his medicines. I wanted to hug her for that.
So here we are. March. The end of the year’s first quarter. Maybe I’ll do better now.
That’s the best way I can describe myself right now. I have choices before me, and none of them sound like the right answer. I’ve been working from home for many years now, and, whilst it’s done wonders for trying to work and manage bipolar disorder, it has greatly weakened my ability to function in public. I get too nervous, too worried about being hurt. I don’t let anyone in, simply because the last time that happened in a workplace, I did get hurt. Badly.
Now there’s a possibility of working outside the house, and I am terrified. I haven’t been offered the job yet; I merely applied for it after realising I wouldn’t be able to take over my friend’s house in the event of her death. She is elderly, is leaving me her house, and has two cats alongside my three. As well, she feeds half the strays in the area. That’s a great deal of financial responsibility, on top of her bills and mine. So if I am offered this job, I’d be mad not to take it. Right?
The problem is, I feel like I would become a working mum. I have lost every person I considered a child, including actual children, and these cats are like my children now. Only another dedicated pet parent would understand that. So I worry about leaving them to go to work each day. I worry about their safety in terms of anything out of sorts happening. I worry they will feel unloved or will grow away from me. If not for them, I would take the job with no questions. Because of them, I question everything.
So the choices here are to keep working my current job and hope I could find something in the case of my friend’s demise or to take a second part-time job and risk detriment to my cats. From where I’m sitting, neither option seems good.
We’re 25 days in to the new year, and I am still dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts. I’m managing. Work is getting done, bills are getting paid. But I’m miserable. I wonder sometimes how long the part of me that wants to live can fight off the part that has decided it’s time to die. It’s a scary place to be.
The one thing that has been my refuge is Fawlty Towers, the John Cleese/Connie Booth comedy from the 70s. For some reason, my darkened mind can concentrate on the show. I can laugh and not feel terrible about it. I can lose myself in the troubles of Basil, and for 25 minutes or so, I’m in someone else’s life.
My cats save me time and again. People can understand the concept of suicide, even if they don’t understand the reasons behind it. Cats will just feel abandoned when one of the people they love stops coming to see them. This has been my life force of late. I know that, as long as my cats are alive, I will not follow through with my suicidal thoughts. I just can’t imagine outliving those cats for long.
I’ve recently been followed by a chain of folks with odd email addresses ending in @outlook.com. Can anyone with more blogging experience than me let me know if this requires action?
Warning: This will very likely trigger anyone who is sensitive to the topic of self injury.
My depression has not improved, my suicidal thoughts have not lessened, and I find myself returning to the behaviour that has seen me through for over twenty years. I find solace in the touch of a razor on my skin. I find comfort in the blood. It is a sick and twisted little dance I do with my mind, yet it keeps me from going through with the suicidal intentions when things get this bad. Proof of my life saves me somehow.
If you are an adult who self injures, please know you are not alone. Emphasis is always placed on teenagers, especially teen girls, but there are many people who continue with SI or even start it long after the teen years. It’s not talked about, because most of us are so ashamed of what we do. I couldn’t talk about it without the anonymity of this blog. If you want to talk about the issue, please leave a comment or email me. I will not discuss pro-self injury topics, and I’m not at all qualified to give mental health advice. If what you need is someone to share your suffering, though, I can be there for that.
The suicidal feelings have come. Like a dark wave, hot and cold at once, they surround me and pull me under. I’m fighting against them. I know what it’s like to be the surviving one. But they’re still there, eating at me. It feels miserable.
I hold on for my cats. The people in my life would eventually understand. You can’t explain suicide to the cats who would miss their ‘mum.’ The thought of hurting them like that makes me sad beyond belief. It’s not that I don’t love the people in my life. It’s just that my suicidal brain tells me they will just leave me in the end, anyway. That I will be alone once they move on to more stable people. I’m tired of being the one who’s always a second from going over the edge.
So here we are, three days in to the new year, and I’m fighting for my life once again. Sometimes I wonder how many times I can face this fight and win.
It’s January. The start of a new year, full of promise and hope. So where does this leave me? Mildly suicidal and horrendously depressed. It started yesterday and has just continued to get worse over time.
It occurred to me that, whilst I am perfectly happy to spend the rest of my life at the side of my best friend, he might well wish to spend the rest of his life at the side of an actual romantic partner. My head spun as I realised that things could change in a major way. My entire lifestyle could be smashed. It would be a good thing for my best friend, and I would never begrudge him of that. I would just miss being centre stage in his life as opposed to an understudy. I like us as us. Not a couple, but definitely a unit.
So I recognise that part of this is situational; my big realisation isn’t helping my low mood. I realise, as well, though, that this is a bipolar depression. The sun is dimmer. That’s a sure sign to me that I am falling in to an episode. The sun looks noticeably dimmer even high in the sky. In short, I am depressed.
Fortunately, I see my therapist later this week. We will talk through my realisation, talk through the suicidal feelings, and make a plan for coping with it all. She’s patient but firm, and I know I can hold on long enough to make this happen.