Tag: childhood

Lost and hurting

[WARNING: this post contains content that may be distressing including mention of past abuse and things said and done to me by my abuser; it also reflects my very distressed and confused state. If this may be upsetting or unhelpful I would suggest giving this one a miss.]

It’s been a really bad day.

I’m sorry I can’t post quite what I said yesterday that I would although this is quite closely related.

I can’t do anything right now really. I’ve never felt so lost and fragmented. My thoughts are racing but I can’t get them into words. I’m freezing cold. I literally feel far from everything real. I tried to go for a walk to calm down. Everything around me – trees, people, sounds of talking around me, the ground – seemed to be existing and happening further away than usual behind a screen. The pain and exhaustion is intense and shattering.

Something inside me that was the last thing pushing me forward even in the mess things are, seems to have switched off. I can’t do anything. I don’t want anything except desperately wanting someone to hold me. I don’t know for sure what I feel apart from lost.

I feel a total failure. Failure as a friend. Failure in what everyone else can do. Failure as a Catholic. Failure at being. Not enough.

My friend told me he’s known for years I’m angry. That terrifies me. I have done everything to stop it getting out. I stopped eating. I cut myself. I overdosed. In the end it came back to stopping the evil getting out of me. It didn’t work. Everything I feared. There are evil things in me I can’t control. They got out when I was a child. What my mother said is coming true. I can’t even hurt myself enough to stop it getting out.

He said I’m too angry to let God in; that I don’t want God to love me,  I always want there to be a barrier, I won’t let God love me.

But I thought nothing could stop God’s love. I so want to love God. It has never occurred to me to think I don’t want God to love me. I don’t think I please God and I don’t think I love Him enough and it is very hard to truly believe He does love me. I find it very hard to think He does want me and I’m terrified whatever i do, in the end He’ll reject me and everyone will see how bad i am and I’ll be damned. But to think I don’t want God to love me? It terrifies me.

The thought terrifies me constantly that my real desires and motivations are evil however much i want them to be good and even when I think they are good. That God knows and other people know they’re bad really. That it’ll be exposed sooner or later. That it means I can never be loved and never be good.

Just like when my mother told me, she’d be taken away because of me or whatever she was threatening at the time, I’d fool people it was because of her but she’d know and I’d know it was all because of me really. Nobody would believe a child could be that bad but really it would all be because of me. When all along I didn’t know what I’d done wrong and desperately tried to do what she wanted and needed, it turned out that was how bad I was really. I took in totally on board.

And – they’ll know you enjoyed it, she’d say after she put her hands in me. They’ll know you wanted it and you enjoyed it. Mind you don’t do that,  don’t breathe like that,  or they’ll realise. It hurt and I was frightened but she told me they’d realise I wanted it. It plays over and over in my mind now. The thought that I wanted it, is  as bad again as what she did. And when she had me do things. You love that don’t you, you really like it…. I wonder if anyone’s listening. ..no one would believe it’s all because of you, daddy and I would be taken away and you’d be sent to a special school for morons. Are you a moron?

Another time, just because i couldn’t do something – Look, this is a toddler walking rein. This is what you put on babies when you go out. So if you’re going to pretend, we’ll put this on you whenever we go out so everyone knows you’re a baby.

As a kid I knew I was evil. But even as a kid I wanted to be loved. I wanted it but I knew I was too bad really.

I’m fragmenting now.

Now my friend has said I don’t want God’s love. I don’t want a relationship with God. I want to put up barriers. I’m too angry. I didn’t think it was possible not to let God love. My only hope was we can’t stop God loving. But he said I refuse to receive it. What I feel is shaken and darkness and alone and losing one by one everything that gave me any stability at all. I try to read the Bible and I feel fear. Where I should feel hope. Where my friend tells me i should feel hope and joy and I just have to keep on doing it and i have to make the choice and if hopelessness carries on it’s a choice. My friend said he doesn’t think I’ve really tried to pray. That I haven’t kept doing it. That if I don’t feel hope I have to stir myself back up to it. That it works for most people so why would I be different, why wouldn’t it work for me? I repeat words I cannot believe and promises I cannot feel and try to follow a God I cannot find, I am twisted inside trying to act against everything I feel and say only what I want to believe but isn’t real in my heart.

I am completely lost. The relationships that meant most to me all broke down and it turned out I’m not a good enough friend, that when I was trying everything I could to do good and to keep all the frightening horrible evil things inside me, I was just a burden.

I have lost any grasp on what I can trust. I’ve lost any grasp on my faith. I think I desperately want my God – i thought I did, at least that was sure, although I found it impossible to believe He could want me. The terror of the harm I do and the evil that will come out of me and knowing I can never really know if I think or mean or want what I think I do, was too great. But now I have been told I don’t even want God, am too angry to want God’s love. I’m utterly shaken. Have I never had any faith. …if despite everything I really don’t even want God and everyone but me knows that then I’ve never had any faith and I’m lost.

This is absolute pain now. I cannot function. I am so frightened.

Ginny xxx

Slipping through our fingers

There have been several cases in the news recently, in particular two this week, of children suffering unfathomable cruelty at the hands of their parents / caregivers. Much has and will be made of the failings on the part of social services and social workers. How could the horrors and suffering go unnoticed and why were concerns not followed up, staff nor taking a more joined up approach, so the children could slip through the net?

I don’t doubt that there certainly were failings in the services. I’m not denying that. I can’t imagine the guilt the workers involved in those two cases are feeling right now. I’ve suffered myself and so did my mother and so have several other people I care about, because of failings in the organisations that should give support and protection, which let us fall through the net without intervention in times of crisis and without promised follow up or communication across different services. Sometimes the services involved have seem totally unaware of the harm this causes and unwilling to take responsibility. That hurts even more. Fortunately I have never suffered anything approaching what the children in this week’s cases did.

I’m not trying to deny that there were failings and I don’t want to hurt anyone who has been through similar experiences. However I think the somewhat understandable jump to publicise the blame attributed to the social workers and agencies masks some important points.

First, the perpetrators of the terrible abuse the children suffered were their mothers, father’s and family members. That’s the greatest horror. It is terrifying that as humans we are capable of inflicting such suffering on another, let alone on one of our own family or our own child. It’s particularly horrific that a mother can do this to her own child. It so negates every good and nurturing thing a mother is. It means no relationship and no home is immune to evil actions and absence of love.

Secondly, that is such a frightening fact and we want to know why. How and why can a person do that? What does that mean about what’s possible? About our human race? That sounds like an overly broad concept really. But I think it shakes us. Can we conceive that our world is one where what should be the safest and most protective relationship, mother and child,  is used to inflict fear and hurt and pain?  We don’t want to. We at least need some explanation. It’s easier to label the failing of a particular social worker or agency, because that we can understand. That we can name. What brought the abusers to use their own children that way, we can’t.

Thirdly – and this is something that’s hard to explain but significant to me as a survivor of childhood abuse – these horrific abuses can and do happen in secret and undetected. Trying to come to terms with what happened to me and questioning over and over whether the things I can remember done to me are true, I’ve often doubted myself and told myself it must have been my fault or I must be mad and inventing it all, because at the time nobody else realised what was going on and nobody intervened and people thought my family was normal (er okay maybe not but they didn’t often suspect the full truth). These two tragic cases in this week’s news show the awful fact that abuse much worse than what I suffered can indeed continue in secret. Therein lies the abuser’s power to control, manipulate and deny.

Fourthly, no more resources are coming for social workers and care and protection teams at the moment. The little glimpses I’ve seen from my work in hospitals, psychiatric services, care teams and so on has shown me loud and clear that there simply are not enough hours in the day and not enough people on the ground to have the contact and communication and time to spend directly with children, families, patients in need,  as well as following the ever more extensive proformas and completing paperwork that is required to meet the rules and regulations (which are supposed to ensure good care is happening but at the same time take you away from doing it).

This is no new or ground breaking feeling. I think most people in nursing or caring services have been saying this for years. But it’s still frighteningly swept under the carpet and denied by those in power. When I worked in a service that supported teenagers and young adults with mental health needs and social support needs, I would take the minutes of clinical team meetings. In one such meeting, changes to documentation for care planning and recording were being introduced, which would require nursing staff to (a) spend much longer away from patients, sitting at computers completing databases and reports and (b) in many cases require nursing staff to spend already limited professional development time on training in IT packages, not in patient care.  Of course, the aim of all these whizz new care planning systems was supposed to be a magical improvement in compliance with regulations about good care. However, nobody could answer who was going to be delivering the care during the time that the already over stretched nurses were completing the compliance paperwork. I wonder whether there’s a box in the risk assessment screen to record the increased risk caused by the fact the nurses and carers are filling in the [expletive deleted] risk screen instead of assessing the patients? 😉 Time and time again there was no answer to this impossibility. In that meeting, one or two nurses directly asked, how in the same shift with the same staff,  were they to fit in their work with their patients, as well as completing the new compliance activities being introduced. How could they do both? Which was to go when the time ran out? In my eyes the response was appalling. The nurses were told that was an unacceptable attitude to display and there was simply no choice and the compliance work was to be done. This came from a senior clinician who I had greatly respected and her response was totally at odds with her usual very reflective approach. Of course I don’t know the history with that particular member of staff who asked the questions and perhaps there was more to it than that, but there seemed a forced denial of the impossibility of continuing to provide good care and the level of presence on the ground with those we are caring for,  which is so important if we are to prevent tragedies like the children who slip through the net where abuse and suffering goes undetected.

I left the service I mentioned because more and more changes were taking clinicians, and support staff like myself, away from being able to maintain the personal contact with patients.  (I’ve since regretted leaving, I’ll admit.) Clinicians left too, at least in part due to stress and sadness around similar issues. They were a great loss to their patients, in my opinion.

A little later I worked a temp cover role as a secretary for the legal team that supported my local county council’s child protection services. Round about this time I thought about training as a social worker. I didn’t in the end. I thought I’d find far too many situations where my hands were tied and too many times bureaucracy stopped me doing the good that was needed.

….

I cry for the children that suffered and for those who so want to be present on the ground to help those at risk but who are taken away and whose voices are silenced when they highlight the lack of resources and impossibility of meeting the demands of keeping children safe in the field, and complying with everything that’s supposed to be ensuring children’s safety. One thing is sure and that’s that it is far too easy to be silenced – again both in the case of the victims and the carers pointing out the shortage of resources to help them. Let’s keep on speaking out.

Ginny xxx

Trying to be curious about trust #1

As you may know if you stop by regularly ( 🙂 thank you lovely people!!) I’m finding it very hard to trust the personality disorder service at the hospital (where I go for therapy) at the moment. It has become harder and harder over the last few months, in part due to repeated occasions where, in my experience at least, I’ve been let down, not had the promised support, or been turned away when in desperate need of help. I feel they do not believe me and do not think I deserve help and the more I’m in crisis the more they don’t believe me. Everything that happens confirms this now. In my last care coordination appointment I felt again completely dismissed, not listened to and that what was recorded on my care plan did not reflect what I was going through or needed, until I’d insisted time and time again that my care coordinator write what I actually said rather than re-phrase it in a way that minimised and avoided a lot of the issues at stake. Aargh….

I can’t explain it more than this right now because I will get so angry and out of control. Plus you’ve all probably heard me go on about it so much you’re bored 😉 ! Sorry.

I’m trying to be curious about my feelings about trusting the service and how they see me, as Mentalisation Based Therapy focuses on this and trying to be curious and open to different feelings and uncertainties about what is in our mind and other peoples’.

Right now, although I can try to examine different possibilities, I’m certain in my heart that the service don’t believe me. This doesn’t apply so much to my 1:1 and group therapy sessions. In some way the group feels honest and safe. Perhaps it’s something to do with my commitment being to the other people in the group, listening to them and being there for them, present with them, and sharing honestly as much as I’m able, rather than it being a relationship just with the service or the therapists. It applies more to when I need support between sessions, or when I’m in crisis, or talking about support outside therapy with managing daily life, or in my care coordination appointments.

After the experiences I have had so far, I am not sure what would now reassure me that they did and do believe me and do want me. I got on to thinking about how my recent falling out with a close friend N. involved my absolutely unchangeable feeling that she didn’t believe me, didn’t really want me, didn’t think I deserved help, and I was just a burden and irritation. I don’t know what would convince me otherwise (except, just perhaps, if she had come to help me when I was at my worst, in some of the times she was adamant she could not or should not come).

Not being believed and not deserving help is a big theme for me. Ultimately, I do it to myself too, because I can’t really believe myself. Some of my psychotic symptoms feed into that, with the voices in and outside my head telling me I’ve lied, I’m a fraud, that everyone knows and is thinking and saying I’m a disgusting fraud, cheated people to get help, and no matter if I may think I want to be good and try to do good, there’s all the bad things in me really and everyone else knows and I’ll hurt everyone in the end. Only self-harming in some form quiets this.

In my last 1:1, we talked about my recent falling out with N. We started going slowly through my feelings and thoughts step by step from the beginning of the day things really fell apart between us. We didn’t get very far through. Nevertheless it brought back a lot of the feelings of that day. I’d been feeling very bad about things I said and how things were left at our meeting and in our exchanges the week after (since which, we haven’t been in touch – I couldn’t anymore and felt she didn’t want to either, really). I’d been trying to write to apologise. But in the 1:1, what was even harder than this was that guilty as I felt (and still feel), a lot of the hurt is still there too.

As the memories of these feelings, and more of the feelings, surfaced in the 1:1, I suddenly felt sure that my therapist must think I’m a horrible, childish, needy, jealous, selfish, demanding, nasty person who thinks terrible things about people. Then I started thinking these things about myself together with feeling guilt, disgust that I was so evil, and worry about what would happen to my relationship with my therapist now she thought these things – I couldn’t say what I thought would happen at the time but now I think it was feeling that, oh now she’s started to realise that I really am bad after all and she’ll leave me and not want me around any more.

I was certain about what my therapist must think. Just as I was/am certain about what N. thinks about me. It was actually very hard for me to think curiously about what N. (or my therapist for that matter) would feel. I spend a lot of time certain and horrified about what the people I’m interacting with think about me, and feeling bad for what I am (because of what they’re thinking), what I cause, and the feelings that are then in me, confirming my self-disgust and self-hate. My self identity is somehow, in a way I can’t yet express properly, bound up with what I am certain the other person is thinking about me. My own feeling follows immediately being so certain of their thoughts. I am not necessarily at all able to access beforehand what I am feeling, and I am not necessarily able to think about what the other person is feeling (separate of me, as opposed to being convinced about their thoughts about me).

I am not necessarily bad at picking up what other people are feeling. Actually, I can be very accurate in it, and sense it before other people do. I’ll post about that separately and will put a link here when I’ve posted. However, in these situations, I’m entirely sucked into the certainty of their thoughts.

I am not at all able to “mentalise” – to reflect and be curious about what is in their minds and what they are feeling and what I am thinking and feeling. There is no possible questioning or genuine entertaining of different possibilities about the other person’s mind. I am absolutely certain of their thoughts about me and I have absolutely certain thoughts and feelings as a result. Even though I may at some level be able to come up with a distant idea of other possible thoughts that could be in the other person’s mind, it is completely disconnected from my beliefs and emotions.

Written down like this, it is quite easy to see that this could lead to or be part of my psychotic experiences. I am certain of other people’s thoughts about me. The voices repeat them to me. I feel disgust and guilt and horror of what I’m doing to people. Somehow I become linked with the thoughts I think the other person is having and I am all those horrible things.

I am starting to wonder whether I am actually having the thoughts (which I attribute to the other person) myself, and having the resultant feelings myself, but I am unable to recognise them or feel them in myself, and then for some reason attribute them to the other person as though I know for sure that they are thinking these things. Really they are just my own thoughts or feelings about myself.

Perhaps my certainty nobody believes me or wants me and my resultant inability to trust, is in fact simply nobody else’s thought but rather just what I think of myself – and the fact that I cannot trust or believe myself because I always doubt my own motivation for good or evil, because I have no identity except what I find in what I think are others’ thoughts.

I don’t know quite where this came from. Certainly my mother’s very unwell beliefs about thoughts and emotions during the time I was growing up, clouded my learning about my and others’ feelings and thoughts and the demarcation between them. Her deeply psychotic beliefs were pervasive and persistent. She believed that I knew exactly her thoughts even in advance and when I did not, she told me this was deceptive; she believed she knew my thoughts and intentions; she frequently presented to me my intentions as malevolent and manipulative in incredibly complex ways, when I was unaware of any such motives or thoughts (precisely because they didn’t exist, but I didn’t know that as a child); she made inconsequential, morally neutral actions (such as being able to do some particular thing or not) have a moral value or manipulative power (“repeatedly punishing her” for example); she perceived my emotions as controlling her and done to her (unless they perfectly matched hers); and this was coupled with dire threats (including her suicide, my father’s death, the family breaking apart, my parents being taken away) because of my emotions and thoughts – and of course, with the abuse.

I don’t know quite how to unpick that to find out how much does it explain how I now feel about others’ thoughts about me. Maybe I don’t need to and just need to find out how to change my certain, set-in-stone thought patterns now.

Oh my days I’m tired now and I need a hug. Think I’m going to have a hot bath and curl up under my blanket when I get home.

Ginny xxx

How often do you “need” to spend time with others?

I’ve been trying for a long time to arrange to meet to catch up with a particular friend. We used to be close and live in the same city, but we haven’t met since a very brief meeting at Christmas, and before then the last time we met was at a an event at her Church in September. I miss her a lot and have been feeling very sad that we live so close but meet a handful of times a year and never in such a way we can catch up properly.

Part of the reason we don’t is that she has a family now, including young children, and I completely understand and agree that family comes first before friends. Still I’m sad to see her so very little – and also (and this is a big part of my feeling) worried for her. She gives all her time to her children and various numerous volunteer works at her church and parish. She home-schools her two older children. She almost never suggests meeting up, she never seems to socialise except for seeing other mothers at home-ed groups, and she told me she hasn’t met up with a friend for over a year. She never takes any time for herself and she does not seem to have any desire to socialise.

Should I be worried about her? I am, very. I feel like she must be so tired and drained and stressed and never have a moment to take care of herself or do something she wants to. Most of all I fear she never has any time that really is for talking and sharing with her friends. I know I wouldn’t be able to cope with even one day of her schedule let alone the foreseeable future.

I think she is amazingly strong, dedicated and generous to her family and she is responsive to their every need (let alone all the time she volunteers). She has clearly made big sacrifices. She says she loves it and never feels the need for any break or to see any one. I just can’t see how she can possibly be well or happy and it seems really isolating to have so little contact with others.

At first I was hurt that she had no interest in meeting – i made no end of suggestions and she declined them all and didn’t suggest any alternatives and pretty much said she doesn’t do that kind of thing. I was lonely and upset already and I’m sad that we are no longer close friends. She really matters to me and I care for her and miss her. There’s only so much you can keep a friendship going and only so close you can be when you only text message and email. And I’m worried for her welfare, as I said.

Perhaps I should just accept that she says she’s happy and she is. It got me thinking, perhaps it’s a difference of personality. She’s happy not to leave the house for several days at times, whereas I usually feel compelled to go outside, see the outdoors, be around people,  even if I’m not meeting or speaking to anyone (except when I’m very low and not going out is then a sign I’m very unwell). Meeting up with someone is of no interest to her, whereas it’s very important to me, although there are few people I trust and am able to be with at the moment. That probably is a particularly bad combination and makes me particularly needy with the few people I do trust! I need time alone too and have times it’s all too much but loneliness is a big struggle for me. So I’d silence, which is another thing she loves. Perhaps it’s as impossible for her to understand my needs, or values in a relationship, as it is for me to understand hers and how she can be well and happy in her current situation.

I wonder whether she doesn’t value meeting in person, spending time together in friendship, catching up, doing some things for herself outside the family and so on? Or does she just need less of them?

This got me thinking, do we all have such very different needs firstly for contact with other people, and secondly beyond that, what I somewhat inadequately call deeper or more meaningful interactions (a good conversation with a friend you trust and can be “real” with,  as opposed to eg a passing interaction in a shop or talking to a work colleague – all are important but I know I very much need to be able to share how things really are sometimes, not just keep up the acceptable businesslike front where I seem to be well and in control of myself! ).

What do you find that you need? What is important to you in a friendship? How do we know which is normal?! I think my therapist would say that’s one of those questions where there isn’t a definite answer right or wrong. … I’m left wondering in this friendship,  firstly if she’s really okay or not and then how can I be there for her, when she has no interest in regular contact? How do we keep up a friendship with someone whose values here are very different from ours?

Ginny xxx

A closing drawbridge and a silent cry – Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder – #4

 

Protection in emptiness

Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder

Chapter 4 – Frozen

So, this is the first chapter of several in which I want to explore some of the things my eating disorders “provided” to me as a way of coping.

Please note a lot of the thoughts in this post are from my eating disorder and my psychosis and BPD – they are not ways in which I’m advocating thinking and I’m not saying that starvation is a good thing even though it did have a purpose for me. I’m in therapy partly to find other ways to cope rather than turning to methods that hurt me.

Emotions are frightening. Feeling is frightening. Feeling with such intensity is deeply painful and more suffocating and gripping than I can stand. Needing is not allowed, greedy, out of control, dangerous. My body and my longing centre that wants all these things (love, comfort, that I am good enough, that I can be safe, understanding, a parent, security, home, someone there…) is despised and resented. Inside me is evil, bad and ugly and it might get out. I want and I hurt and I do harm, I’m a liar and a fraud and I punish and it all comes out when I don’t even know.

If i dont feel it’ll be alright. If I don’t feel then I can walk one day more. If only the pain of knowing everyone around me feels so much will go away. If I can stop hurting them. If I can get away, because I so need to get away and shut off and sleep. I need the thoughts and the voices to stop. I need out and away from the terrible things I can feel all the time, that hit me and grip me and tell me I’ve caused hurt yet again.

There’s one thing that stops it. Don’t eat. Go on. Just a little bit longer. Stick to the plan of what you’ll eat. Count the tiny crackers out. Slow as you can take the tiniest pieces. Stick to it all and you’ll be rewarded with wonderful emptiness. Even go longer than you planned before you eat, by the minute then the hour. .. and the emptiness will grow and the high will rush through your body leading and lifting you to a higher and whiter and emptier place.

Keep going. You can keep going now. The starvation opens the door to aclosed off, frozen place. It’s good there. The thoughts and the needing and wanting and feeling stop. All you need is empty and all you feel is cold and numb and closed away.

It’s your place alone. You’re alone and safe. The voices are silent for now and you needn’t engage with anything your body or heart demands because you’re separated from those disgusting needy screams. In your frozen place the pain has dimmed and everyone else is safe too because you’ve gone well away.

Starvation created that empty place, as though it carved it away in your mind and it’s a sure retreat for you alone. Stick to rules and emptiness and no temptation and you will stay safe there. However frozen cold it is there and however much you feel your energy slipping away and your heart pounding and your muscles weakening, it is too dangerous to leave it. The feeling and needing (yours and others’) and consuming demands are just too dangerous. The emptiness and starvation has carved out this safe place and consumes more and more of your mind, like a cave in rock that becomes bigger and bigger, empty but consuming its surroundings with the very emptiness, so that it becomes harder and harder to leave.

To recover you are drawn slowly from this place or something throws you out of it forcibly and it is taken from you.

However much I am thankful to be recovered from the terrible physical effects of anorexia and the destruction it caused to the lives of those who care for me, a big part of me still wishes that this frozen place hadn’t disappeared. In my recovery I consciously said goodbye to this place as I knew I had to leave it. I cried for it. It hurt me and my loved ones badly yet also it had protected me.

Now without my eating disorder the terror of all the feeling and consuming is around me and there isn’t any escape. And added to it is knowing that I “should” be fine,  better, out of danger. Out of physical danger, yes, but ironically into pain beyond what I know how to stand, although I also know how very weak I am not to be able to stand what others deal with day to day, and that adds still more to guilt and longing for escape.

Perhaps my therapy will show me how to walk through these out of control feelings and how to continue when there is no escape and no freezing out.

Ginny xx

 

 

I am…. (she said)

(My mother told me that) I am:

Ugly. Greedy. Too plump here. Fat.

Pretending. Deceiving. Manipulating.

Pretending to be a little girl. Doing my act.

Punishing. Getting my own back. Repeatedly Punishing.

Deceiving.

Holding her in chains since I was a baby.

Not supposed to be crying. Look who should be crying, she’s the one who should be crying. [And she was – and shouting and screaming and ridiculing and sneering and shaking me and throwing glass…]

Going to make her have a heart attack.

Wearing her out. She’s lying on the floor unable to move because of what I’ve done. [I called out and nobody would come. ..]

Going to make my dad so upset he’ll have a car accident. He’s lying on the floor curled in a ball unable to breathe. Because of me. That’s what I’ve done to him.

Going to come down the stairs one morning and find her … [dead – I will not write here the graphic description she made].

A silly little thing.

Madam treating everyone like servants.  Reclining like an emperor on the cushions.

A baby that has to go on a walking rein. To show everyone what a baby I am.

…Pretending….

Repeatedly Punishing. ..

A threat to her personal safety. Putting her in hospital. The reason she goes into hospital because I frightened her so much. God help anyone I ever work with.

Impossible to live with.

When I’ve got what I want…

Reacting so weirdly to everything and I have to remember how all my reactions are weird and the damage I’m causing to the family.

Getting too much fat again.

Demonstrating that I’m damaged.

Leaving things hidden in places so that she finds them so as to show her that I’m damaged.

Pretending ( – I’ve already told her!)

A genius. Nobody is able to understand my incredible intelligence. She planned the moment of my conception and the moment of my birth. She wrote freedom into my very name. I was a genius and they could not cope with my intelligence. I was going to change the world.

Aware of her every thought and she knew exactly mine. Knew everything she was saying (on the phone to someone else). Knew exactly what she wanted.

Wearing her out( – look at her with 4 children and look at what my one’s done to me! )

Stopping her ever having any more children.

Causing the end of her and my father’s marriage.

Copying.

Pretending to be…

Testing. Testing the testers. Objecting to the test.

Those are just some of the things my mother (with her psychosis and disordered and abusive,  the doctors said) told me I am.

(She’d ask) what if:

Anyone’s watching?

Anyone hears?

Anyone from the government is watching?

The police are going to be called?

Anyone can see what you’re doing?

Anyone found out?

Anyone saw [what you can’t do]… are you very worried about the effects of your pretending. ..at how bad you ate at x … (you must remember you’re a whole school year older. ..stop associating with the little ones. ..)

If anyone found out. She’d be taken away. My father woUld be taken away. I’d be sent to a special school for morons. If anyone found out, they’d never imagine it was all because of me. They’d think it was her. Nobody would realise it was actually me. But I’d know and she’d know it was actually me. And she’d be taken.

So we had to cover it up.

Those were some of her ‘what if’ threats.

He (Father) agreed. Can’t you see how much you’re upsetting her? Look how much she’s smoking because of you. Stop snivelling like that. That’s what people do when they’ve had something really bad happen to them. Could you actually make a bit more effort? Is mummy even in the room to you? He’d sit there hugging her and stroking her feet and nobody would help me whilst I was crying and terrified and didn’t know how to end it.  This was the first day I felt I didn’t need to phone up to see how you were getting on with each other. Now look what I’ve found out. Why were you pretending? Where is she? What are you doing in here? Look how exhausted she is because of what you’ve done. She wouldn’t have to go to bed all day if you didn’t do these things. We could have had a nice day if you hadn’t done that.

She’s very lovely, he’d say. Isn’t mummy lovely? She’s very good at all of this… She’s amazing when she does that…isn’t that fantastic. ..

And he says he didn’t know what she was doing.

The threats and what ifs and horrible things I was, stopped for a while when I was anorexic. That was all. At least then the anorexia and my body was all mine and in me it was hurting, cleaner,  safer, nothing, numb but burning, longing but cutting off,  hidden, weakening, less, smaller, not, not needing. As soon as I got stronger it all came back and all the horror too. I was the problem and the evil one again.

So I am – evil,  dangerous, liar, fake, deceitful,  hurt people, going to cause the greatest harm, greedy, ugly, selfish, nasty, like a ruler with people in chains, disgusting, foul… all without knowing the harm I’m doing. I didn’t know it then when I was a child but it still happened and all this awful damage erupted from me, she said.

How did I stop them coming to take her because of me? How did I keep her alive? She didn’t give me care. I didn’t need care from her. I learned to manage without. All I needed was to stop the damage and awful things I was doing.

Ironically I did end up having to actually call them to take her! They did take her as she’d threatened. And they did say it was her with the problem and the illness and being abusive. And they did say it couldn’t possibly be me. So everything she said would happen, did. And that was to be when she and I would know it was all because of me. 

Oh yes – I know it. It never leaves. 

So cut cut cut and purge and punish myself and maybe I’ll get all the badness out or else keep it all in and hurt only me.

When I controlled enough in anorexia all the evil seemed to have stopped. But I can’t get back there.

I still hear it and believe it all even though I’ve started to feel angry in the moments my rational mind tells me how it was twisted and wrong and she did what she liked and he let her do it all to me.

And I can’t even write yet about … those other times. In front of the mirror. In the bed. With the bathroom. Telling me how I liked it.

 

 

 

 

 

Psychosis… trying to process that word…

I saw a psychiatrist at the personality disorder service yesterday. I’d asked if I could have a medication review and talk to someone about my fears about my hallucinations (because of the focus of MBT therapy we don’t really talk about them at length in group or regular 1:1 sessions).

I was scared why are the hallucinations getting worse and why it seemed to be getting harder to know they aren’t real. They used to be voices inside my head. Now they’re often outside and at the time they’re totally real. Only after can I work out they couldn’t have been. And I’m seeing things too.

My mother had hallucinations and I’m just a year younger than she was when she gave birth to me and after that things got really bad for her. So I was scared is the same thing happening to me at the same age?

The psychiatrist was really nice,  understood me, understood my terror, understood the frightening experiences of my childhood and she took more interest in this background than I’d expected. Which was important because it allowed me to tell her about unusual, possibly hallucinatory (is that a word?!) visual experiences as a child and the very strong imaginary world I created to escape into, away from the bizarre experiences day to day caused by my mother’s weird beliefs and behaviour. I told her about feeling I dissociate into different personalities and worlds.

Then we talked about psychosis and schizophrenia. The psychiatrist used the words psychosis and psychotic symptoms for what I was describing. I asked if she thought I had Psychosis as another illness separate from my Borderline PD. She said it is hard to separate because having unusual external experiences is part of Borderline and I could be at a more extreme end of that, worsened by stress and perhaps as therapy is opening things up. Also she thinks I had a sort of ‘propensity’ towards it as a child – I can’t remember the word she used – and this interacted with my mother’s schizophrenic behavior and the abuse to make things worse.

I knew I have hallucinations. I was scared of Psychosis. One of the drugs I take is actually anti psychotic though I didn’t realise that.

It’s still scary that the word psychosis and psychotic symptoms is used for what I have. Partly, I think this is because I fear I’m going to lose all knowledge these things aren’t real and lose contact with the world and become as my mother did. Partly, it’s saying for sure I’m experiencing things that aren’t real. And I’ve so many fears about what’s real and what’s not real. Partly I don’t know yet.

I’m holding on to what the psychiatrist said, that if you keep taking the medication you do not tend to lose the knowledge that the hallucinations aren’t real. They might even go away.

So she’s writing to my GP for changes in my medication and higher dose of the anti psychotic meds.

I don’t know what to think right now. There seems a lot to get my head round again.

Ginny xx

The fear of what lies within

It was my MBT therapy group this morning.

I was very sad at the end and the frightened abandoned child part of me was crying.

I do not want to risk breaking any confidences so I will just say that we shared our feelings and thoughts around abuse suffered, memories, trauma, and times of finding out that a loved or trusted person has done something very very wrong, perhaps the most terrible wrong of violating the most delicate and intimate part of another person’s physical being and emotional soul.

I wish I could write more freely but I am very afraid to break or betray confidences, even though I do not give personal information or write under my real name. Too much rides on that to ever risk it and it would cause too much pain to everyone else in the group.

[Note – at this point I know that my writing that follows has not become very coherent. This post is a lot of things I had to get written down for me and it may not make any sense whatsoever to readers. I am sorry for that. I am not sure that any good can be gained from reading it, actually. I feel I have to write it to start to unravel some of the terror I’m feeling right now about the experiences we explored and to start to pick out some of the emotions. I don’t know well what they are right now. This comes with a warning about painful and scary themes in the writing that follows although because I don’t know if it makes any sense at all, I’m not quite sure what exactly to warn for. It does mention a memory of someone threatening and abusing and physical violence. Just…. warning…. xxx]

I am sad and cold now and desperately wish someone were with me to hold me; to hold me here and tell me what’s real, what’s not real, what’s no longer real, and maybe the hurting child part of me would be protected. She knows only she is wrong and she has harmed and she could drive someone to death – and the flashes come of the terror of finding her, there, like that – and she must be alone and she must know the bad that she has done and if she just watches hard enough perhaps she can get away before it all happens again. But still she’s crying and hurting and nobody comes. Nobody held her, nobody told her it was alright, nobody told her being loved and being able to love didn’t mean being able to get it right enough, disappear enough and fill everything she needed without fail. She cried on her own and she wished alone would stay forever then, in the little room and her make believe world with the “children” she cared for and made real in her mind and for her eyes only, where she didn’t do harm, and later where she was even allowed to cry and someone would hold her and tell her she was good and it would be alright. She could even save people in that world, be brave and strong and rescue and save, suffer hurt herself to protect and save the others. She could slip into that world.

If only the alone time always lasted. If he didn’t come home, didn’t open her door, and know instantly from her frightened watching and sometimes her attempts to block the door, and her mother in her own bedroom in the dark in bed (sleeping? Silent and still, certainly.) If he didn’t come and Mother didn’t get up (one day would she not get up? would it have happened that she’d gone away as she threatened, or even that she was dead?) then alone would last. It was frightening and panicky and hollow but it was safe and she could slip back into the other world, with her “children”. But he always came home. He knew straight away – without a shadow of a doubt she thought this – what had happened that day and what she had “done” to her mother and what had happened and what her mother was going to do because of her. He’d go in to her mother and her mother would tell him what she’d done. Then down they’d come, and he’d be cooking dinner, and the evening and night “session” would start, of Mother crying and screaming and threatening and asking her over and over why she had done it, until Mother came up with the explanation for the evil thing she had done, to punish Mother and get her own back in some twisted way. And the child wouldn’t even understand what the initial deception was supposed to have been, sometimes, let alone how that was punishing. The wrong, you see, was only a wrong if she had intended the evil and the punishment in her action. The action wouldn’t have been wrong without it because it had not any value, it just was. But there was the evil motive and intention and Mother always knew it exactly. And all the time she’d be asking, watching, shouting, accusing. And the child would be crying. Nobody came to her. Nobody helped her. Father comforted Mother, hugged her, sat beside her, stroked her feet and legs, sat with her when she went up to bed when she’d made her so sick she couldn’t cope. He brought Mother the wine and coffee she drank and the cigarettes she chain smoked. (Did he know she threw the glass jars at her? With practised precision to smash into thousands of shards directly at her feet, I know now.) Nobody brought the child anything to comfort her and nobody held her when she cried at the threats and shouting or being left alone when Mother went away and she wondered if that would be the time Mother didn’t come back – look what you’re doing to your Mother… stop crying like that, that’s what people do when they’ve had something really serious happen to them, stop sitting there dripping like a blood machine – and nobody went to her when she cried at night and nobody was there when she got up and was terrified to move and terrified of the stairs. She couldn’t tell anyone when she wet herself because she was too frightened to open the door of her bedroom to go to the bathroom in the night because she thought Mother would be dead outside and that would be the night she would find her – but if she didn’t go out it wouldn’t be real in that child’s mind – she tried to hide the wet things and when Mother found them stuffed into the back of the wardrobe, smelling, she didn’t answer why she had done it. Mother was always there. Father took completely her side and the totality of everything she claimed was the entire truth in his eyes. But nobody was there for that child.

She’s still there and scared and she wants a hug and in the flashbacks she’s all I am and I’m frozen and terrified. She needs someone to take her and not let go and never let go and she really really wants to be real and not be bad, just be the real little girl she is and not the terrible other evil things that Mother said she was doing. Is she a little girl or is she manipulation and evil and danger and damage? Is she real? Is the world she prefers to escape into real? Because it’s so much better and so much safer and it’s there that somebody wants and needs her. Please could she be real.

It really really hurt when Mother did the things she did with her body, in front of the mirror and on the bed and in the bathroom and……. inside…… it really hurt and Mother told her how to breathe so she could do it.

Why didn’t she know it was wrong?

Why was it her normal?

Why didn’t she tell? Why didn’t she stop it?

Especially in the bathroom. Because she was older then. Why did she just let her. Why even when the problems started later did she still not connect it.

Why.

Why is she so dirty and disgusting.

And most terrifying of all what if all this is a lie. What if she’s a foul ugly silly little thing and she’s repeatedly punishing Mother and that’s all this is and it’s all a lie.

Voices. Voices. And crying. Crying tired. Crying for it to stop. Cold.

And was there anything that was good?

****

And what if someone so bad – as what Rev. F. did with the young men… what about me? I thought he was kind to me. I thought he encouraged me. I thought he was kind and he always remembered my name, said hello and said he’d pray for me, and told me hope when I was in the grip of bulimia and losing the plot. I held on to the peace in the evening services as we prayed. But then he did – was doing? – that with the young men. And that was pure hurt and wrong and never never can in any way be alright and so so much harm has been caused to them. What does it mean that I thought something he did was good? What was his thinking when he did the things I thought were good? Would I have become complicit? Why did I think he was kind – someone who could do things like that? Am I so so bad too if I could think he was kind? Am I somehow open to being taken? Taken and used and used to hurt even without knowing?

Yet again. There it is. Used to hurt, doing bad, doing bad without knowing.

Can good be done without good being the intention?

Does that just reinforce that bad can be done without knowing too? Does that mean you can be bad without knowing?

Ginny – – – but not Ginny, really, tonight. Ginny’s got a bit lost right now. Tonight I’m still the frightened child. (Dissociating again.)

I’ve called her Lily – the child. I’ve called her Lily. She’s always there.

Lullaby (5) – Makes my heart smile, to know that you give love so freely

I met my friend and her new baby B. today. She is perfect, beautiful, adorable, cuddly, with inquisitive eyes (when she woke up!), rosy little cheeks and already crowned with lots of soft black hair that loves to stick straight up and you can tell will soon make cute little bunches on top of her head.

There is something very special about the rush of love that fills me when I hold a little child. Much as I fear having my own children and fear I would not know what to do, would not know how to be gentle enough or how to keep my patience when they cry and cry or do not sleep the night for months, or how to know what they need, holding B. today the perfect trust she showed as she cooed and nestled in to me and went to sleep soundly, as though she had found a “safe place” of her own, pulled at my heart with protective love.  As she laid on my chest I knew it was a privilege to be loved by her unconditionally and to protect and adore her and wish to give her everything good.

And B. is not my child – how much more must those feelings be as a mother!

B’s mother, who has encountered with varying degrees of proximity many distressing family and childhood situations, including ill treatment and abuse, said that she has asked herself how inconceivable it is that anyone could ever do a child harm.

Part of me would long for my own family and I have been touched by love for and delight in my friends’ children, including my godchildren. Equally I am stunned that my friends did choose me as a godmother, being so sure myself that I do not have anything good to give and if only they knew how very bad inside and dangerous I really am. I even won’t go to spend time with my friend if her boys will be there, sometimes, because I am so afraid I might do something that hurt them – either unconsciously, in a dissociative state, or because I’m just bad really – or that I would only upset them. If I were a mother I’d be afraid I had no idea how to raise a child, what to give them, how to teach them, and that my patience would run out.

My fears intensified when I was babysitting years ago and the child I was caring for was in the midst of a tantrum and the voices in my head started telling me that I was going to hit her. I was terrified. So terrified that I shut the child in her room and myself into another room and left her alone crying because I thought that was safer than what I was going to do. I was very disturbed afterwards and starved myself in the following days as punishment. I have never babysat since. It was all the proof I needed how the evil was going to erupt from me.

Today B. slept in my arms. Today she just wanted cuddles and love. Today the love cast out some of the fear, whilst I held her. It really touched me that I had been open with my friend about some of the awful things going on in my head – my BPD, my hallucinations and obsessional thoughts – and still she wanted to come to see me and let me hold her child and trusted me.

“For perfect love casts out fear,” the Gospels say. In the moments that little baby melted the fear in my heart, I began to understand.

There’s a fight in my heart and my head right now because as soon as I left my friend and baby B., the anxiety grabbed at me and I’m terrified again; something cold and horrible is clutching at my chest. It’s as though all the knowledge that I’m bad and fears of the evil in me are redoubling their efforts to break me, so as to punish me for loving and trusting and being happy with B. Tonight’s going to be a very hard and scary night. I’m going to try to keep loving.

Ginny xx

This song by Vienna Teng, “Anna Rose”, speaks very much to me of the tender love between a parent and child and the delight children’s non-judgemental acceptance and trust gives us.

A super quick question about BPD / PTSD and physical pain

This is a theme I want to come back to in a longer post. I have been meaning to write something on this for a long time. For now, a very quick question, if I may.

As well as my mental health problems, I suffer with fibromyalgia, endometriosis, chronic back pain following an injury, some degree of hypermobility and potentially now a nerve pain condition as well.

I have noticed from therapy and support groups I have attended that pain conditions and joint conditions seem to be suffered by lots of people with personality disorders, PTSD / complex PTSD and/or who have suffered abuse (often in childhood). Certainly in a group I participate in at the moment, I think a higher percentage of us suffer these physical problems than you would expect to find in a random sample of the general population, if that makes sense. I have also read a couple of articles on this theme recently.

I don’t want to push people to disclose something that feels too personal so please don’t feel any need to answer. I just wonder if anyone reading this also suffers pain conditions as well as mental health difficulties? And do you find any interaction between them eg when one is worse, another also is? Or do you feel that psychological things you have suffered have had a physical impact as well as an emotional one? If anyone did want to exchange thoughts on this I’d be really interested.

Ginny xx