THAT Exam

My doctor has suggested it.  My therapist has suggested it.  My psychiatrist– if he were so inclined– would probably suggest it, too.  When she was just a bit older than me, my mother went in for a routine pap test and found that pre-cancerous cells were forming in her uterine lining.  Now, I need to get a bloody pap test, and I cannot seem to even schedule the appointment.

For those of you who don’t know, pap tests involve using a speculum to expand the vaginal opening so that the doctor can see the lining of the cervix.  Then, cells are brushed off into a specimen jar.  To end the exam, the doctor inserts two fingers in the vagina and presses on the lower pelvic area to feel for the size, shape, and location of reproductive organs.  ‘Written out’ it seems fairly innocuous.  Why, then, have I had to pause this post to go and be sick?

For me, the panic starts when I have to lay my head back.  At that point, I can’t *see* the person touching me.  As I was often tied up and blind-folded during sexual trauma, this is terrifying for me.  I don’t want to lie there with my head back unable to see this person who, at that point, will feel all-powerful to me.  That utter lack of control makes me physically ill.  I don’t want anyone even thinking about that area of my body, much less concentrating on it and even touching it.

Logically, I know this is a very simple medical procedure that will be performed by a female physician who has probably done thousands of these.  I know it only takes a few minutes and isn’t likely to cause me a great deal of pain.  Yet I cannot bring myself to even set the appointment.

Any strategies, dear readers?  I know this is incredibly common amongst women with sexual trauma histories.  What has helped you through?  Thanks in advance.

Advertisements

Stop Arguing with the Voices

Although the title of this post can be made hysterical by implications, I’m actually referring to voices *not* related to multiplicity.  I’m referring to those haunting disembodied voices that tend to frequent my psychotic periods.  They have been most problematic lately, and my therapist suggested a seemingly simple technique that has actually worked:  stop arguing.

No, really.  Think about the physiological concept of arguing.  When you argue, your temper tends to flare.  This leads to racing pulse, shallow breathing, dilated eyes, increased muscle tension, et c.  In other words, it brings about the fight-or-flight response.  This directs your entire focus to the voice(es), which become more and more real.  You begin to argue with the voices, as any good opponent in a strange debate would do, thereby justifying their position in your life at that time.  Your focus is on those disembodied voices by then.  You’re listening for them acutely and readying your defence.  You’re in a state of panic, on edge and waiting for the next comment that will need refuting.

So what happens if you simply do not argue?  In my recent experience, the voices stop, even if only for a moment.  My disembodied voices tend to bring up horrific images and assert that I *will* have to see or do the things they are explaining.  This reads directly in to my trauma background, of course, but it is a symptom unto itself, as well.  After a somewhat heated therapy session yesterday, I came away with the idea of thanking the psychotic voice for bringing my attention to a concern and then reality testing.  A somewhat innocuous example:

External Person:  Wow, the weather has been terrible lately!

Disembodied Voice:  See?  The weather is becoming more violent.  You’re gonna see that violence.  The whole world is becoming violent, and you’re gonna see all the death and destruction.

Me (silently):  Thank you for drawing my attention to this connection that I’m making.  I can cope with the violent weather.  If I see violence in the world, I might feel bad about it for a while, but I won’t be responsible, and I’ll get past whatever I see.

Voice: Bollocks.  She got me again.

Ok, I’m only imagining the last line.  I do hope, however, that the voice leaves with a little indignation.  What’s a psychotic argument without a little whimsy?

Alive

As I transition from the manic part of this episode to the depression part, cutting has become a problem again.  It’s not a way to self-soothe or express intense feelings.  It’s a way to *feel.*  Full stop.  Thursday afternoon, I felt like I’d stepped outside my life and was merely in the audience of a play.  One might think this is a good reaction to what had been the chaos of mania, but it’s too much of a change.  To go from feeling everything to feeling completely numb in a few hours’ time produces an odd sort of panic, at least in my experience.

I tried everything I could think of, but the numbness just got worse.  I went outside and concentrated on the feel of the wind and the sun.  When that didn’t help, I turned to the more physical activities.  I worked with clay, forcing myself to notice the temperature, texture, and even the scent of it.  I coloured intricate geometric-patterned pictures.  I even tried holding ice just to feel the sting of that.  Nothing.

When I finally did give in and cut my arm, it took a minute before I even trusted the cascade of blood as proof of my existence.    The razor was sharp and cut immediately, but I didn’t feel it.  I just cut deeper and deeper until my arm looked angry and the blood flowed steadily.  This has become daily, and both of my arms now look angry.  No one will ever see these cuts, and no one is meant to.  They are simply reminders to me.  I feel my shirt scratch them or feel them burn slightly, and I know that I am capable of feeling something, at least.  As those sensations lessen, though, more are needed.  More cuts, more blood, more proof that I am alive.

Triumphant? Return

I’m peeking my head ever so slightly out of the sand again.  One of the stronger internal folk has done the day-to-day interactions since I went inside a few days ago, and I’m very tentatively becoming more involved in things again.  At least it was a very short time this go round.  I’m at a point in my life, too, where there are external people I can almost always be present around, so I miss less.  When I’m around these people I can relax and catch up on whatever I’ve missed while ‘away.’

In any event, I’m back now and attempting to put into place the strategy a few of us worked out while I was inside.  I’ve been trying for most of my life to get myself to a safer environment, and it’s frustrating for me and those who’ve tried to help me that I always end up back at square one.  I’d say ‘all things in time,’ but I promised myself I’d scream at the next person who told me that.  And it always looks odd when I scream at myself.  😉

Good to be back.

Disconnected

I’m looking for a way to disconnect from everything for a bit, and I can feel someone else starting to front. It’s been one of *those* weeks already, and it’s only early Wednesday.

I get so frustrated sometimes by the fact that triggers pop up out of nowhere. Sometimes it seems like everything is a trigger. That’s what it’s been like today. I take great pains to keep myself safe. In fact, it probably hinders my quality of life. That’s why on days like today I feel like simply shutting down.

It’s odd to be going into Someone Else mode for a while, but I think it’s necessary as well. At least going inside will keep me safe for a bit.

Signing off.

Delightfully Scattered Flashbacks

Or something of the sort.

My mind seems to be working against me these days. I keep having these random flashbacks for which I can’t find triggers, at least in the moment. Over the years I’ve become really good at realising when a situation is going to set me off and getting out of that situation. Sure, I sometimes get caught up in things still, but it’s been better. Now, though, completely unrelated things keep starting chains of memories that leave me zoned out beyond comprehension. As I wrote in an earlier post it’s infuriating when things that should be good turn into flashbacks.

Some days I feel very old. Perhaps it’s an older alter close to the front, but sometimes I think it’s just tiredness. There’s such a thing as body memories, that information stored in the body independently from the mind. Oddly, when certain flashbacks come for a visit, these body memories can be triggered. It’s the reason a few years ago I woke up with my hands bruised and cramping so much I could barely move them. My doctor was puzzled– he saw old injuries on x-ray, but nothing that would cause issues in the present. Seeing that x-ray brought my mind back to when the injuries were fresh, though, and I was surprised that I drove home safely.

Many of you who are trauma survivors will probably recognise this. I just feel the need to shut my mind off sometimes and take a break from things for a while. I’m not suicidal or even close to that; I’m just tired. A reasonable question would be why not let an alter take over for a bit so I can go internal and get some rest. The problem with that is, although it was absolutely necessary when I was growing up, dissociation isn’t so necessary now. I don’t need to lean on DID simply because I need a break. It’s definitely tempting sometimes, though.