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.

Reconnecting

I’m going to try, at least for now, to update this blog more frequently.  This is part of a grand effort to reconnect with myself.  Yesterday, I felt like nothing.  Not in the degraded sense.  Just in the emotionless-floating-in-nowhere sense.  I read some quite old posts from this blog and realised that I feel almost no connection to who I am now.  This might be due, in part, to the integration, but it’s also due to my secluding myself.

Years ago, I had school and work outside of the home.  Now, I have an in-home job and almost no social circle.  I do not attend social functions, and even a trip to the shops can be overwhelming.  My social anxiety feeds on the lack of need to leave my house, and it’s time to reconnect with the world, as well.  It’s time to force myself out, kicking and screaming all the way.

So what are my grand plans?  I have been looking for a job outside my house, but that will be debated with my therapist soon.  In terms of socialisation, I’m thinking of attending a local support group for people with mental illnesses.  What better place to start than somewhere where others are struggling, too?  It isn’t much, but it’s a start.

In terms of the deeply personal, I do plan to start blogging again.  I also plan to start journalling again, or at least writing fiction.  Something to draw me out of my head.  When I had alters, it was easier to escape my thoughts; I’d just let someone else get lost in theirs for a while.  Now, it’s up to me to plan my own escape from my mind and in to the real world.  Again, kicking and screaming all the way.

Update

I just realised how long it’s been since I’ve posted on this blog.  This year in general has been bad for writing.  I’ve rarely journalled, even now that I have my own space again.  It’s like my brain prefers not to remember right now, even though things aren’t particularly difficult.

The other aspect is therapy work.  We’re in the midst of serious discussions about ritual abuse overall and cult structures, which is making me want to guard every ounce of information I’ve put on the Internet regarding the subject.  I’m worried that my therapist will change her mind about my sanity and decide the whole bit has been nothing but a fantastical story.  That’s a risk I’ll have to take in order to move forward with therapy, though.  It’s such a precarious process.

Other than that, my mind has been reasonably quiet.  Life and work and learning go on with the past as a shadow that is, for now, not winning.  I’ll take that.

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.

Obstacles

Since my mood episode has passed, we’re back working on grief issues.  Specifically, we’re working with my sister’s death.  I asked the therapist if she found this repetitive, as we do keep returning time and again to this one loss, but she said we deal with another aspect of it every time we discuss it.  This time, we’re dealing with the extremes.

I have a tendency to bottle emotions (gasp from crowd).  As it turns out, merely intellectualising my feelings or stating them as fact does not count as actually expressing them and processing.  My therapist told me that I’m merely doing circles about them and will have to open them up in order to heal them.  Then, we discussed obstacles to that.

Obstacle one is easy to understand:  culture.  The stereotypical English stiff upper lip isn’t as stereotypical as some might think.  I’m not accustomed to overly emotional displays.  I’m more accustomed to the quick acknowledgement and subsequent containing of strong feelings.  This is separate from abuse issues or any kind of disorder.  This is simply culture.  Overcoming it is probably a question of pride and modesty.

Obstacle two *is* the trauma issues.  I grew up in a cult where people were literally killed for showing emotion sometimes.  Funnily enough, I have trouble with that now.  Then, Dr Freud, there’s the abuse my mother handed down.  On the day of my sister’s funeral, she was kind enough to remind me that, since it wasn’t my daughter, I had no right to be upset.  When I was a child, she taunted or hit my sister and me for showing emotion.  Again, small reason I have trouble with that.  Overcoming this is my biggest challenge.  No idea where to start.

Obstacle three is something I’d never considered: bipolar disorder.  My therapist pointed out that, given bipolar disorder is a condition of extremes, we spend some time attempting to keep me from giving in to strong emotions.  My emotions can’t always be trusted; some result from psychosis or other bipolar symptoms.  To overcome this, I guess we’ll just have to be overly cautious about the pace at which we attack the pesky little emotions.

There’s a danger in opening this box.  Sometimes, I follow down the path of wanting to be with my sister and follow her lead.  I don’t think that is a problem now, though, as I seem to have got a decent amount of control over the suicidal feelings.  Self-injury is the more likely problem, but I’ll deal with that when/if it happens.  It’s time, regardless of how much my mind fights against it, to at least begin the raw work of true mourning.

And Then There Were Singles

I don’t write alot about the personal aspect of DID any more.  Although the subject is a focus on this blog, it’s more a general sense.  I decided quite some time ago that the details of my particular experience are private.  Today, however, I’m breaking with that thought to make an announcement.  We’ve been busy over the past year or so, and the personalities have been reduced from 250+ to eight.  Imagine the difference.

A major decision was made, and therapy has been a major part of that.  The therapist isn’t too keen on DID, and I understand that.  To get the full benefit of therapy, though, I’ll need to work through the full extent of memories.  To work through memories, I need to be aware of them.  The process has been find person, write out objective accounts of memories, discuss memories in therapy, assimilate person.  This will not work well for everyone with my particular condition, but it has worked quite well behind the scenes for me.

No case of DID is going to be like the next, and I might catch some heat for this post.  For me, standing on my own is essential.  Some deal with co-consciousness and are fine with that.  Others, like me, are not satisfied with it.  I need to be able to stand completely on my own.  I don’t want therapy to continue for years on end, nor do I want to give up a single minute of my life to a personality that may or may not share with me.  This is a very personal decision that is right for *me.*  I do not in any way suggest that it’s the right way to do things (there isn’t one) or that everyone should follow my lead.  It’s simply what’s best for me and the general consensus for moving forward.

Eight remain, and the goal is for only me to remain by the end of the year.  My thoughts on that are varied, and my emotions are extreme.  For me, however, this is what needs to be done.

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?

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.

Into the Fire

It’s the title of a Sarah McLachlan song that fits well with the upcoming new twist in my therapy journey:  ‘I will stare into the sun until its light doesn’t blind me.  I will walk into the fire until its heat doesn’t burn me.  And I will feed the fire.’ 

At a recent session, it occurred to me that I’m through part of the trauma processing.  I can think of the physical abuse and not shrink back in horror (most of the time).  When memories get triggered, I’m good at picking a coping skill to lean on (most of the time).  And most of the time is the best I’m going to do.  Therapy is about learning to cope with memories, not erasing them.  The scars of my past will always come back to haunt me.  The thing I’m proud of now is that, when flashbacks and negative feelings about the physical abuse surface, I can force them in to submission before they take over.

All of that said, I asked the therapist if we could re-assess my treatment plan and go over new goals.  A major part of our journey together is done.  Now, the time has come to deal with the sexual trauma.  Even thinking the words causes me to feel nauseous.  Saying them aloud makes me physically ill.  Still, I’ll never get past this if I keep avoiding it.  When there was so much physical trauma to contend with, trying to deal with this bit was too much to consider.  I go kicking and screaming in to this new part of my journey, but I go nonetheless.

Already, I feel dirty inside and out.  I feel hopeless and want to shrink away from any source of light, lest someone notice this secret of mine.  Any time I think closely about this journey I’m taking on, the memories swirl all about me, and I start to feel like a spoiled little child who is whining because things didn’t go her way.  I feel like hiding somewhere dark and quiet so that no one even notices my existence.  Shame.  Fear.  No good.  Hopeless.  Alone.

Wish me luck, folks.  This could get interesting.

Elements

As a practising Wiccan, I’ve always turned to nature to help hold me together.  I hadn’t the space to work through the Full Moon rites of November and December, nor was I able to hold my usual ritual to mark the Winter Solstice.  These are things I’ve done for quite some time now.  They hold me to the Earth, to all of time and space, and to what I recognise as Spirit.  Gutted by grief as I am right now, I decided to do a simple mandala representing the four elements– earth, air, fire, water– and the Spirit that binds them all together.  I’m sharing that mandala here in hopes that some of you who are also feeling adrift these days can use it to focus your minds or simply to meditate on the image.  This is something my therapist taught me.  The process is to put on music that does not have an emotional attachment and just let your mind wander where it will as you gaze at the image.  It’s actually neurobiological at its base, but it does wonders (in my experience) for the soul.

Wishing everyone peace for now and in to the New Year.

Element mandala