Tag: safe

I don’t remember why – the guilt of my dissociative episodes

It is scary sorting through piles of possessions I do not remember buying.

As part of my recovery work I’m allocating time to take care of my home, household related tasks (bills, organisation, housework etc), in order to take responsibility for living an ordered life, to not get into trouble or overwhelmed with unpaid bills and tasks ignored until they become insurmountable, and to make a safe calm and even beautiful home. I had no home for many years, moving from room to room, moves often prompted by my mounting distress. When I was blessed to find this place, it took a long time to feel at all safe or dare to believe in any stability. Then gradually, it became an escape, flight not by constantly moving around but by means of a protective enclosure. Which is good in some ways and something I still need when things are too much, which is frequent, but now it is time for my home to be more than that; even a place and a life that supports my health.

Part of this is continuing what I’ve been trying to do for some time, which is clearing through accumulated items and clutter and organising the things I decide I do need. I’ve been working on this for some weeks or months on and off, tackling different areas. I’ve acknowledged for several months in therapy and with my support worker how I bought and accumulated items as a desperate attempt at escape, distraction and protection. I acknowledge how out of control my spending used to be and too often still is and how impulsively I buy things when in my dissociative episodes, apparently driven by some desperate need at the time that leaves me sick at myself and painfully empty afterwards when my consciousness returns, a massive blank missing in my memory and emotion, but the fallout of my actions apparent – money spent, arguments had, horrific things said, tablets taken, sometimes alcohol drunk and most of all items bought (usually clothes, makeup, accessories, things I’d never buy for myself “normally” or rationally). I hate myself then, most of all for the money spent on myself and the hurt I’ve caused other people.

I’m coming face to face with all this as I’m clearing through hoarded possessions. Much as I’ve been aware of and fighting these problems for months, it’s still very scary finding things I don’t remember purchasing and don’t know why I have. Perhaps it’s even scarier because I don’t really know why I do this when I’m dissociated. Why? Why do I buy things? Why do I become what the evidence means I am in these times – selfish, irrational, irresponsible, needy, childish, bad? What else am I doing in these times? The violent emotion that takes over and hurts people around me, but still I can’t control it – who am I and where is it leading? Why do I behave in ways I can’t remember, that people close to me say are terrible?

I’m scared. I want to take responsibility. I’m trying to carry on gradually sorting out my home. It occurs to me whether looking at items I bought in these dissociative states where there are huge memory gaps, will help me connect at all with what I was doing and who I was at these times. I don’t know.

Ginny xxx

What you aren’t allowed to admit – the shameful secret that I want to be cared for

The service where I am in therapy at the moment has suddenly (from our point of view as patients at least) changed our care coordination appointments from monthly to quarterly. Less than quarterly, in practice. I was supposed to see my care coordinator today. The appointment has been moved to the end of September. This will be 4 months since my last appointment at the start of June. This comes at a time that I desperately needed care coordination and when everything feels on the edge of fragmenting.

I am furious at how this change has been made, for myself and for other people in my therapy group. I’ll post about that next.

I spoke to my care coordinator about it on the phone and one of the most hurtful things that he said was that this has been an “ongoing clinical decision over several months” and they think this is the best way to challenge us to have more independence because instead of having a care coordinator we’ll have to take the initiative to sort out our problems. I’ll set to one side for the time being the hurt caused by having been kept in the dark, not warned, let alone involved, in the “ongoing decision”; the apparent total lack of awareness of why care coordination is needed; the assumptions about knowing what is best for us….

One thing that really really hurt and I wanted to scream and felt utterly betrayed again by the people supposed to help me and understand me was – we do not need a test, or a challenge, or to be forced to be “more independent”. We desperately need to be heard and to get help. I have been in this service since November 2014 and I am still screaming inside and falling to pieces and trying to be heard over the same issues as when I first came to the service. We have always been on our own. We have had to do everything with no help and knowing everyone will leave us. We just start to trust this service and dare to think perhaps they’ve understood a tiny bit of what it’s like, and then we get proof it was all an illusion. Never in my whole time with the service have I felt safe, been kept safe.

And here comes the thing it’s so very shameful and not allowed to admit. Sometimes – even a lot of the time – I don’t want to be independent. I want to be heard and I want to be cared for. The abused and terrified and frightened child inside me has never ever been heard or believed and has never been cared for. I have fought and fought on my own and I cannot do it anymore. I need help. I can shut up the child for so long by cutting and starving and drinking and overdosing. But there is a point of breaking. And I’ve passed it. I’ve never been safe. Never been safe from my abuser. Never been safe from what goes on in my mind, the pain, the hallucinations and flashbacks. 

I know these feelings aren’t allowed. We have to take responsibility. We have to be independent. We have to be adults. We have to function.

Is it so very wrong to want to be kept safe? To want someone to hear and know how utterly painful it is? To want someone to care for us? To want someone to stick to what they agree to and not trick us, not tell us they understand but then leave us alone when we most need help? If I am not independent is that really the most important awful thing? Why should I not be allowed the help I need because it’s so desperately important I be independent? Nobody kept me safe as a child. Nobody cared for me. Over and over again my abuser tricked me and left me powerless. The service I should be able to rely on now in my treatment, to understand and help me, makes me feel the same. In no way is it an empowering kind of being made independent. It’s being pushed away and tricked and all the cuts made deeper still.

I’m ashamed to admit it but I want someone to care for me. Before I can start to get any more ability to cope on my own I desperately need someone to understand how loud I’m screaming and how much it hurts and not to leave me, hold me and stop me from falling to pieces, stop me from losing all grip on reality because the pain and terror is so utterly consuming, hold me and allow me not to be okay. Then maybe I might be able to take very gradual steps to take back responsibility for one thing at a time. I don’t need to be tested, tricked, pushed away, not believed, not heard, used over and over again and taken to the most vulnerable desperate point then what tiny little things we hoped in taken.

I am full of anger and pain and rage at being tricked and used all over again.

G.

What do you do to stay safe?

Today I’m going to the hospital again for another meeting with the CPN. I’m very scared of going after I lost it there on Tuesday. I think I’m scared what will happen, scared of losing it again, ashamed about what happened and still feeling very out of it, although not in the way I usually am when I dissociate. That gives some kind of protection. This is raw at the same time as shaken and disconnected.

Also I’ve got an inescapable question that has been in my mind for several weeks. I’m not at all stable or safe at the moment. I want to continue with therapy. I committed to the group that I’d do it and not give up. I promised to God and Mother Mary in prayer. I’ve made quite a few sacrifices for it – I don’t think I’d have had to leave my last job if it weren’t, at least in part, for my therapy appointments (though my last employer were definitely at fault too, in my opinion). I’ve seen the therapy as the only hope of learning how to get better and manage my condition. I’m privileged to live somewhere MBT is actually available (there aren’t specific PD services in all areas of the UK). I really don’t want to have to stop therapy.

However, at the moment I’m actually more unstable, at least in part because of the therapy and the emotions, memories and questions that it raises. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Other people tell me they can see positive changes in me, for example communicating more clearly about emotions and things that happened to me in my childhood, none of which I can yet see for myself. However I trust the people who tell me this and think it has to be a good thing. It’s another thing I don’t want to waste.

So the big question is, what to do.  I can’t keep myself safe at the moment. For example I’m “coping” by cutting, taking overdoses or higher than prescribed doses of medication, drinking* (and this really isn’t me, I do not enjoy drinking in this way), escaping from daily life by ignoring letters, calls, etc and not able to keep on top of the basics of looking after my home and myself (cleaning, cooking etc). I’m more unstable in my moods, especially anger, and I’m struggling more to hide everything to try to participate in daily life by eg going to work. Things like hallucinations or paranoid thoughts or feeling dissociated are pushing their way more into the working day.

I don’t know what to do to change this.

I’ve some hope that medication changes could help and I’m seeing the psychiatrist on Friday. But I doubt that’s going to be the only answer. I’ve tried to exhaustion (both daily and when in crisis moments like the extreme distress or wanting to end everything) the techniques I know like distraction and grounding and self care / self soothing (this latter is very hard for me to do when I feel as I do about myself). It isn’t working. And I feel that the things other people could do to keep me safe, many of which are on my crisis plan, are not happening or not working either. I’m experiencing more and more let downs where xyz help is promised then doesn’t materialise (appointments canceled, calls not returned, planned sources of support withdrawn, mistake after mistake, discharge plan not followed). Or I’m told that the help I want to keep safe doesn’t exist or I don’t qualify. What is offered – and don’t get me wrong I’m grateful that it is offered and I know it’s more than many other services provide – is not enough to keep me safe. For example when I’m suicidal a 5 minute telephone call may calm me a bit for a few minutes but an hour later in usually feeling worse than before and – this is key I think – still on my own trying to cope.

What do I do in this position? Are there other techniques I can learn to cope better? Are there other or higher doses of medications? When I so so much feel I am not safe on my own and really need someone with me (especially when I’m really distressed but also day to day because the slightest thing, as little as a letter that makes me panic or a canceled appointment,  can thrown me into extreme distress, self harm etc) what can I do? The PD service are adamant I mustn’t be admitted and don’t qualify for any carer help and ongoing support in person isn’t possible. I haven’t any other way of getting that kind of support. I live alone, my dad and step mum live hours away and I don’t have friends very locally or whom I see regularly.

So how do I do my therapy and stay safe as well? How do I either answer this need not to be on my own when I’m so much at risk and unstable, or what solution do I have to learn instead?

What do you do to stay safe between therapy appointments or between times you can access support?

I know this probably sounds silly and I do get a lot more support than most people and all I’m talking about coping with is simple daily life. Right now this is where I am.

Ginny xxx

*just to be clear, I’m not diagnosed with any alcohol problem and I’m not comparing my struggle with that of someone who is struggling with alcohol or other substance use. That is a much more painful place. I sometimes use what is probably an objectively average amount of alcohol taken with my tablets to make myself fall asleep when I can’t cope. Not a great thing to do but I’m not trying to compare the two.