Happy(?) Holidays

I include the question mark because so many people struggle this time of year.  For me, issues with deep grief and ritualistic trauma frequently permeate the lighter side of the season.  This year I have made a concerted effort to participate, rather than hide myself away somewhere.  I have gone Christmas shopping and made plans for both Christmas and Chanukah celebrations.  This has helped, to some extent, but I find my agita spiralling as the holidays near.

My sister’s death from suicide on 7 December 2000 is the most painful thing I’ve ever been through, and its sting is still just as sharp as it was that day.  I have had quite a few other losses, and they all still sting. My sister’s death, however, still drops me to my knees sometimes.  She was my second self.  We were rarely separated, and I still hold myself partially at fault for not seeing the signs in her.  That day was just as painful as ever this year, and it started my mind down the spiral of grief and fear.  I’m trying to bring it back up.

If you are struggling this month, please hold on.  Somewhere out there, someone needs you more than you know.

In the UK & Ireland: Contact the Samaritans  116 123

In the US:  1-800-784-2433;  TTY:  1-800-799-4889

 

 

 

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What Might Have Been

My thoughts have been going down that road all weekend, and it’s dangerous.  I look back on certain situations in my past and wonder how they might have turned out if x had or hadn’t happened.  This is futile at best and dangerous at worst.  A decade ago, something happened in my life that lost me quite a few friends.  It’s been an entire bloody decade, and the thought of it still floors me.  I felt I had everything going for me.  Then, one person and one event tore it all down.  The logical part of me realises that means it simply wasn’t meant to be.  The emotional part of me wants to stamp my feet and demand the chances back again.

This has left me quite depressed.  I’m not suicidal, but I keep having these fleeting thoughts like ‘what would happen if I just slit my wrists.’  Maybe I just want a visible indication of how I feel whilst the smile sits on my face.  I wish I could somehow communicate to someone exactly how miserable I feel, but trauma dictates that I keep smiling and avoid bothering people.  Therapy this week.  Hopefully, I’ll drop the facade there and actually process this stuff.  In the meantime, I shall sit here typing away and trying to stay in the present.  The past is just so hard to resist.

Dichotomy

That word defines my mother.  She was at once child and adult, beauty and darkness, safety and absolute danger.  Her multiplicity threw an interesting hook in to our relationship; I was more often parent to her than child.  She was very abusive to me and even moreso to my sister.  Even in her death, she left a sting.  The suicide note blamed me.

It’s taken years for me to accept that her death was not my fault but a bad choice on her part.  It’s taken years for me to learn that her treatment of me was not a reflection of me as a person but of her dealing poorly with her own Stuff.  Now, as I make changes in my life, she is on my mind.  I’m thinking of her as what she was, though: a person, separate from anyone else.

My mother had a very difficult life.  She told me in graphic detail about things that happened to her as a child.  She met my father early in her 20s.  A handsome soldier, he must have seemed heaven sent to rescue her.  She told me once he pitied her and married her for that reason.  Instead of rescuing her, though, he brought her to a cult where she was abused further and used basically as a breeder.  In an odd sense, she probably felt more wanted there than anywhere else.  Early in to it, before the serious harm would have started, the cult must have seemed like the first place to *need* her.  That breaks my heart.

She ran out of time at aged 51.  She made the decision to end her life because, if the note is to be believed, she thought I wanted her out of mine.  I had been making plans for both of us, though.  Had she just hung on a little longer, I really think things would have improved for her.  As it is, though, none of us will ever know.

Here

I came home unexpectedly today.  A few nights ago, I woke up unexpectedly in hospital after having taken what I thought was a fatal overdose.  The combination of a lengthy depressive episode and a bad living situation that I can’t escape got to be too much for me, and I attempted to end my life.  Yet now I’m here, typing a blog post I never thought I’d write on a day I never thought I’d see.

Even though the attempt didn’t work, I hurt a great deal of people.  Most of all, I hurt my FOC.  These are the people who taught me family and who expect me to be there for them.  I let them down, and I’ll have to live with that.  How do you apologise enough?  How do you win back the trust of those who never deserved to be put in this situation?  How do you learn to live with the guilt?  I’m wrestling with these questions now.  Nothing I can do will make up for what I put people through, but I’ll do my best.

There’s also therapy– loads of it.  I’m having daily sessions, at least by phone, and working hard at setting things right.  It will take a while; I’m not completely happy to be here yet.  I can, however, say that I’m not a danger to myself.  My therapist told me to hold on to the feeling of pain brought on by putting my FOC through this, and that is a great motivator for staying alive.  In the past, it’s always been enough to see me through.  This time, however, my current situation won out.  My FOC do *not* deserve this.

I’m not sure how to move forward from here.  Slowly, of course, but the path is unclear.  I’ve given my word to two of the most important people in my FOC for the first time, and I keep my word.  Suicide is no longer an option.  In a strange sense, that leaves me feeling helpless.  What can I do if things get to be too much again? That question might well go unanswered for a bit.  Much therapy yet to come.

So I’m here.  And I’m working on it.  For now, that’s all I can do.

A Tribute

For some reason, I have  been missing my mother terribly over the past few days.  Grief for all of my lost loved ones comes and goes, of course, but it’s been a decade since my mother died and it feels new now.  I know it will pass.  Just quite painful in the meantime.

My mother was an enigma.  Due to her multiplicity, she could be sweet and loving or dangerous and angry and everything in between.  I played many roles for her.  At times, *I* was the parent to her younger alters.  At other times, I was a friend to teens or older alters.  Rarely did she seem like my mother, and rarely did the person who claimed to be my mother spend a significant amount of time out.  For as far back as I could remember, our relationship hadn’t been the typical mother-daughter paradigm.

She brought some amazing things to my life.  It’s through my mother that I met the first person who became part of my FOC and taught me what family was about.  She taught me patience and how to be accepting of others’ difficult circumstances.  She taught me respect.  In those ways, she shaped who I am.

She also scarred me physically and mentally to the point that my therapy sessions sometimes remind me of Freudian satires.  Through those injuries, though, I have learnt strength and endurance.  I’ve learnt to guard myself, even to an unhealthy extent, but self-protection isn’t always bad.  I try to draw strength from the dangers she sometimes posed.

My mother died in mid-Spring, just when everything was in full bloom.  Winter is here, now, but I think about the promise of Spring and the promise of her life at that point.  She was finally coming to the place where she might have had a chance to heal, but she decided to end her life instead.  I will never understand that decision, even as I work to accept it.

There are so many things I miss about her and so many questions I have for her.  I miss her both as a child misses her mother and as an adult who misses her friend.  Her life ended much too soon.

Maladaptive Progress

Yesterday was supposed to be my first therapy session talking about sexual trauma.  We did discuss it in very academic tones, but a great deal of the session was devoted to preparing for this.  We had to discuss a safety plan of sorts for the self injury.  The therapist suggested that I write out affirmations about how my body deserves to be nurtured because of what it has been through and that I read those when the urge to cut gets strong.  At the time, it seemed very helpful.  Now it just seems like a lie I’ll be forced to tell myself.  Perhaps that was the point– to keep reading it until I believe it.

The problem is the urges are getting stronger and are actually ‘progressing’ to suicidal feelings.  All day today I’ve concentrated on how I could go through with it.  I’ve thought about the knife slipping a little deeply down my forearm, about the pills in the drawer that could help me slip away.  I’m fighting the thoughts, but it’s difficult when they are so present.  I’ve emailed and texted friends, not mentioning suicidal feelings.  Just making connections and distracting myself all at the same time.  This is not a healthy or safe place to be.

As I told the therapist yesterday, I feel like an adolescent girl with a razor and a Sylvia Plath book.  A request for you, my dear readers– if you are in your mid-twenties or older and have a problem with self-injury, email me at ec1_englishrain@yahoo.com  Only if you feel like sharing, of course.  I feel very alone in terms of struggling with this issue as an adult, and I’d like to hear from others who are dealing with it.  Many thanks in advance.  Also, remember that your emails will be as confidential as you want.  I don’t even need your actual age if you’d prefer not to give it.

Peace to us all.

The Tip of the Scale

Apparently, this significant anniversary of my sister’s death is going to be more problematic than typical years.  It’s been two weeks, and things aren’t improving.  The nightmares are still happening, the flashbacks are still interrupting my day, and the desperation is still a constant thought.  I will bring this to my therapist tomorrow, but tonight it’s overwhelming me.  I’m not sure what to do with the intensity of the emotions, and I’m not sure how to deal with the fact that they are lasting this long.  The black and white answer is that I simply endure.  One foot in front of the other, as I told a very depressed friend recently.  Easier said than done.

With this tip of the scale, my sister’s death seems more significant than her life.  She lived twelve years; she has been dead for thirteen.  It’s like my worst fear realised– her death has been a fact longer than her life.  She feels so far away.  It’s like her existence is fading.  Like her energy has dissipated beyond existence.  I don’t know what happens after we die, but I’ve always hoped that at least *some* version of ourselves lives on.  But for how long?  When is that essence gone?  Does it even exist in the first place?  While the scale was tipped in the ‘positive’ side, I seemed to retain some hope in my sister’s life.  Now, it feels like she is lost forever in every form possible.  It’s like she went from an entity to an apparition, all with one slide of a balance.

I just want to hold on to some part of her, but that feels impossible now.  Perhaps it’s false hope finally breaking.  Whatever it is, though, I just hope it leaves some small piece of her behind.  Right now, it feels like I’m losing her all over again, and I don’t think I can take that loss.  Twelve years was so very short, and thirteen so very long.

Listening

The seventh of this month marked the 13th anniversary of my sister’s death.  She has now been gone one year longer than she lived.  The thought is devastating.  There are no words to describe how much I miss her.  She dances through my mind all the time, and she is a constant presence in my life.  Unfortunately, she also left a constant and suffocating absence.

I had the chance to visit my far-flung FOC earlier this month, which provided me with the strength to get through that day and will surely help through the upcoming holidays, as well.  The night before the anniversary of my sister’s death, I talked a great deal about her with my brother-of-choice, and that turned out to be one of the most important conversations I’ve ever had.  That’s the focus of this post– help for those grieving losses that have never had a chance to heal.

The week of my sister’s death anniversary, I play through the events over and over in my mind.  I look for any sign from that week, trying to figure out what I missed.  My mind holds the false hope that maybe this is the year I’ll be able to stop her going through with her plan, even though I know that will never be a possibility.  I have nightmares, flashbacks of the day I found her body, and a general haziness to my thoughts.  It is a horrible week.

In our conversation, my brother-of-choice simply listened.  He provided excellent advice without trying to ‘fix’ the problem, and he listened.  He listened to me talk about her death, as well as her life, which was essential to me at that time.  I needed to get the negatives and positives of her existence out of my mind so that the space I keep for her was calm again.  I also needed to share her with someone who feels a closeness to her, even though they never met in this life.

If you know someone in a similar circumstance– someone grieving the loss of a young person or of a suicide– you might well feel helpless if they turn to you to talk.  You might feel a need to shield from the harshness of the death, as well as distance from the fact that the person lived.  When you are feeling most helpless, though, the way to help this person will likely be simple.  Just listen.  Let the person tell you about their loved one’s life and death.  Let them get lost in the wonder of their loved one’s existence, and be there to help them stay grounded when memories of the death start to cloud out the present.

By the same token, you must take care of yourself.  If you do not feel comfortable listening to such details, speak up.  You will hurt yourself, as well as your relationship with the person, if you push yourself beyond your own limits.  If you can, though, just listen.  Don’t feel the need to solve the problem of grief.  No one needs that responsibility.  Grieving people *need* to talk about their losses, particularly when the losses leave behind so many questions like suicides do.  By simply listening, you can do wonders for helping your friend or loved one heal.

I will be forever grateful to my brother-of-choice for helping me mark both my sister’s life and her death.

Blanket Apology

I am SO sorry to all of you who have emailed recently.  My life has been completely mental over the past two weeks and things are slowly returning to semi-sane.  I will answer your emails over the next two days.  I’m hoping those who were struggling are feeling a bit better and hadn’t given up hope on hearing from a fellow survivor.  Again- so very sorry!  I’m tagging this post with the subjects of interest, hoping some of you will see the post and know your messages will be answered soon!  Best to all of you.

Descending in to Madness

Things are bad.  Very bad indeed.  I’m having miserable luck which would almost be tolerable if I were not also having mood issues and psychosis.  The food problems returned a few weeks ago, and they’ve hung about to some extent.  They’re better, in that I’m not doing the binge/purge thing on a daily basis, but they’re still in place.  I have a feeling they might be in place for a while.  This feels like it did when I was first diagnosed at aged 19.  I know, logically, that this is very damaging to mind and body, but I can’t quite fend off the behaviour.  Which probably led to the next bit.

The weekend before last, I started getting extremely paranoid.  This is never a good sign.  By that Saturday night, I was incredibly stressed.  By that Sunday, I was suicidal.  Staying alive was quite honestly a fight.  I was awake most of that night debating whether to stay alive and fighting with a very strong urge to swallow every pill in my side table.  The thought was ‘what if my only hope is just to hope it doesn’t get worse.  The SRA component means it never will get better.’  I still feel like that, but I’m trying to ignore it.  My mind flirts with suicide, but I don’t feel a critical danger.  Last week I set the plan and wrote the letters.  This week, I’m just overwhelmed and aware that I could very easily slip back in to that suicidal mindset.

This weekend, the psychosis started.  It started whilst I was driving, and I thought I might have an accident.  A dead woman with solid white eyes and wet, stringy black hair leaned between my best friend and I.  Eventually, her eyes turned dark, and worms started crawling out of her mouth.  I told this to my best friend and said I hoped she didn’t stay once he left.  Next I knew, the hallucination gave me a sardonic smile and nodded her head yes.  On my one hour drive home, I could hear the voice of the dead woman sitting in the car behind me.  Only when I phoned a dear friend did the voice stop.  I don’t typically hold phone conversations whilst driving, but that night it was a choice between trying to drive whilst minding an hallucination or talking with a friend to drown out the voice and (partially) the image.

I went home briefly, but the hallucinations continued.  Once again, the man who calls the dead people stood in my room and told me he would bring them if I didn’t give a blood sacrifice.  Once again, I cut my arm until the blood flowed down it.  Finally, I managed to escape and walked the half block or so to my friend’s house and stayed with her, watching carefully for the man and dead people because I knew they’d be angry with me for hiding.  The psychosis has passed.  The depression is still set firmly, interrupted only by hypo-manic symptoms and hypervigilance.  I have therapy on Thursday and am slightly afraid she’ll put me in a crisis unit until things calm.  The repercussions of that, given my SRA background, could be severe.   I just want to get help, though.  I’m at my final tether now.

Add to that ‘normal’ problems.  A cutback at work that will, once put in to effect, cause me to make less than I need to even pay my bills.  A crap review makes me think they might fire me soon anyway.  And, to be completely honest, I’ve missed a fair bit of work lately because the depression left me too tired to even get out of bed early in the week.  Financially, I have no idea what I’m going to do.  The Americans refer to ‘bleeding a turnip’ as the term for trying to get money from a person who has none to give.  I’m in that position right now.

So this is me: overwhelmed by even the smallest problem, on the verge of suicidal, depressed, psychotic, and hypo-manic all at once.  No idea of the path from here.