It’s like a car crash

I like analogies. I’d really like to be a bit more understood (wouldn’t we all?). So this analogy came to me.
Imagine growing up that you were in regular car accidents. Sometimes those accidents would be prangs, causing nothing more than a dent and a moment of shock. Sometimes those accidents would be major. The car would be a mangled mess and the emergency services cut you out. Now, it doesn’t take very long before you get nervous around cars. You have no idea when an accident could happen. When you’re in one you don’t know that you’re safe. When you see one you are aware that it could crash at any minute. Desperate to prepare yourself you look for any clues to show you that a car crash might be coming: the weather, the type of car, the noise of the engine, the smell of the car, the colour of the car, the number of passengers. There are all sorts of connections that you desperately look for so that you can prepare yourself for the impact because car crashes hurt. 

Maybe it’s you? Why are you in so many crashes? You must be contributing to them somehow. Think: what is it about you that causes this? Maybe you can change that and it might help. And the thing is no one actually sees the crashes so it begins to feel a bit unreal. In fact many, many people have seen you repeatedly in a car not having a crash. Why would you be nervous about cars? 

Common sense tells you that just because you spent the start of your life in car crashes does not mean that cars are unsafe now. In fact, car safety has come a long way and you pride yourself on being very adept at spotting danger signs. Still, you do feel nervous on occasion buckling your own kids in the car. You know the damage that could be done and so desperately want them to always be safe. 

But those car accidents were in the past. You’ve not had a car accident for a long time. Why so nervous? Well, repeatedly having car accidents caused some physical changes to your brain. That’s not so hard to get our head round is it? These physical changes in your brain caused a type of epilepsy. You can’t control the fits but work really hard on taking medication and identifying triggers to try and minimise the fits. 

Unfortunately the fits may become more regular, more severe. The medication has to be changed and that can make the fits worse. People tell you the fits get worse before they get better. This is unbearable news. Every day tasks become exhausting. You just can’t keep up with day to day stuff but you keep the fits as private as possible. People don’t really see them. It makes them uncomfortable and you don’t want people to see you like that so it’s really hard for them to understand because they can’t see it. It doesn’t make any sense – you can’t go to work because you were in a car crash 20 years ago? Lots of people have car accidents don’t they? And looked at like that it doesn’t make sense. You question if you are choosing this. Maybe if you just tried a bit harder you can stop having the fits. And you want to. You so so want to. Why would anyone want this? 

And that’s a bit what this whole mental illness thing feels like to me. I was in car crashes. I survived. Damage was done. I am not in control of this illness but I bloody try and I hate it and stigma tells me I should be ashamed of it too.

Semi-colon Butterfly 

  • Today I got a tattoo. It’s my second. I had my first tattoo in recognition of turning 30. I was at a good point in my life and I felt happy. Genuinely happy. I knew that life would always be full of ups and downs and I wanted to capture that happy feeling and bottle it. Of course this isn’t possible so instead I chose to have a tattoo. That way I would always be able to physically connect with that moment in time. I have a heart on my hip. It’s all out of shape now as I’ve gained a lot of weight but it’s still there: reminding me.  Reminding me of a time I felt so happy that I had to capture it. That’s a useful thing for anyone never mind someone with depression.

Here I am 5 years later with tattoo#2. I’ve wanted another for a while but just not felt strongly about any image. I mean if you’re going to purposefully scar your body you want it to mean something right?

Well yesterday I woke up and I just knew. A butterfly on my wrist. It was so obvious now. It had to be the wrist becauseof the   compulsion to slit them that I have battled recently. Yes. I’m instead of slitting my wrist I could pay to have someone else scar it for me in a socially acceptable manner. Good. That was that decided.

Next, the image. The idea of a butterfly came to me naturally. Firstly just because they look nice and I like them. Yup, that shallow! Then I thought about it more. They start life as a grubby caterpillar. They have to go into a cocoon to transform into something quite special. They are delicate yet can fight the wind. Ok, a butterfly made perfect sense.

I shared my exciting news with a Facebook group and someone took it to the next level by suggesting a semi-colon tattoo! I’d never heard of this but the idea comes from something called the semi colon project. It’s all about mental health. The quote they use is something like…a semi-colon is used where an author could choose to end a sentence but didn’t. The author is you and the sentence is your life…it’s summat like that! Anyway given how close I have been to suicide this seemed perfect to incorporate into my tattoo.

Somehow I managed to get booked in for the next day. The lady had worked on my design given to her that day. When she showed me I had 2 thoughts:

  1. Wow! That is gorgeous!
  2. That is massive.

She assured me it couldn’t be done smaller without losing the detail. Sod it. I went for it and I’m glad I did. I love it. I love how it looks. I love what it means; this is not the end. Beauty can follow adversity. Some scars are gorgeous.

I can’t come to work today. My brain is broken.

I’m off work ill today. I actually told them yesterday morning as I hit the wall and knew that really a school was not the right place for me today. Fortuitously I have an easy teaching day today so it was easy to set cover. Bottom set Y10 are making a collage about acids and alkalis. My lab will be destroyed 😰.
It’s a strange thing taking a sick day for mh. Doesn’t feel right. I mean I’ve washed and dressed dd, dropped her at nursery, tidied the kitchen and made bread so far. Doesn’t seem like someone very ill to me but actually I am, I guess. I mean if I’m taking 2 different medications, seeing the GP 3 times in a fortnight and having the crisis team swing by then that does seem to provide some reassuring evidence that I am, in fact, ill.
I need today. My mind is fractured and I need to rest it to help it set again. After a very difficult couple of weeks I need to gather some street and decide on a plan. Currently I’m favouring the f*** it and give up plan. This involves just getting on with life. I’m thinking about stopping the private counselling. Whilst each session is helpful at the time it does tend to raise a lot of the darkness within me and then I have no support or way to cope with that so get quite distressed. It’s a helluva expensive and I can’t help but think I’d be better to try and sit out the next 4 weeks(ish) until hopefully the CMHT pick me up. Hopefully. But I dunno. I just can’t juggle it all and for all the platitudes people make when push comes to shove I’m on my own with this.
Someone (you know who are!) asked if I have BPD. So I read up on it. It describes me exactly *except* the outbursts of anger. However I’ve also read that to some people with BPD anger is intolerable and that is very true of me! I’ve read that often BPD and PTSD can be intertwined so that makes sense. I’ve done loads of those little online quizzes and they all say the same thing so it must be true! 😛
A real proper thorough diagnosis would mean the world to me. I know many don’t like the label but that’s not what it would to me. All my life I’ve wondered what was wrong with me. The world just seems a bit different to me. Anyway obviously mh diagnoses are complex things so I’m not daft enough to believe that I’m X or Y cos the internet said so. Errr no! But I am *desperate* for some answers. Maybe if I knew what I was fighting I might have a better chance of kicking the crap out of it? Knowledge is power and all that!

Depression is Depressing 

I’m in 2 minds about writing this. There’s always delete though so I’ll see how I go.’Depression is depressing’ bit bloody obvious that. It’s how I’ve felt all day. I am so depressed of being…depressed.
Today has been one of those difficult depression days: the weather is beautiful; I’m off work; I’m healthy; I have my beautiful family around me. See? Told you. Nightmare. Ok I’ll explain. I am *so* fortunate and yet ‘this’?! This darkness. This weight. This despair. 
It’s a strange thing. Do you remember Roy Castle getting lung cancer? It was outrageous! The man never smoked a day in his life! It was deemed all the crueller because there was no reason for the cancer. Yet, here there remain, plenty of smokers walking about cancer free. Right, I don’t wish cancer on anyone smoker or otherwise. It just struck me as another significant difference between mental and physical health. When you have depression despite having it good no one is outraged on your behalf. In fact, quite the opposite. How the hell can you be depressed you have it so good?! Imagine if we reacted the same to physical illness. What right do you have to have a heart attack? You exercise, eat well, don’t smoke – what on earth has your heart got to be having heart attacks over? Are you sure it’s not just indigestion? Ludicrous innit?
But back to me…
So all day I’ve been snappy and sullen cos why not take it out on the innocent people you love? I despise myself and that makes it worse. My husband acts like I’m useless. I’m not useless! I am depressed. Stop guessing what will help and talk about it. I have tried talking about it but it is frightening to him. He is terrified and so smothers me thinking it’ll help.
I have felt like I wanted to cry all day but I can’t. Is that the medication? Someone will know because, let’s face it, everyone is depressed. It is everywhere and people are struggling through incredibly difficult situations whilst I sit and bellyache about…well, what exactly? 
I found out yesterday (by luck/Google/research) that in my original IAPT assessment I scored as severe depression and severe anxiety and should be assessed for other conditions because of these high scores. Well, that ain’t ever happening because I won’t try and kill myself. Don’t get me wrong, I think about it. All. The. Fucking. Time. My wrists itch telling me to soothe them with a knife but I know this is pointless as it’s actually a really crappy suicide method (more research). I dabbled in a bit of reckless driving tonight. Nothing out of control but just enough that if ‘something’ had happened then I would’ve come off the road. Don’t worry the road was really quiet and I didn’t want to cause an accident that hurt other people. It was just an exercise is pushing the boundaries.
I push the boundaries because I feel invisible. Everyone is sick. Everyone has problems. I’m not urgent or even important or…even, I dunno, noteworthy? I’m just here. Soaking up the oxygen. Caring fatigue sets in. Still depressed are you? Hmmm bit bored of that now.
Was there a point to this? I don’t know. Probably not.

But, you cannot disagree, depression is depressing. And there’s always delete.

I’m not an angry person

I’m really not. I don’t see the point in it. Sure I get wound up by bad drivers or the self-checkouts at supermarkets because I’m a human but, generally, I’d class my rage as pretty low.

That’s because I learned there was no point.

No point in fighting back.

No point in expressing emotion.

No point in feeling wronged because, let’s be honest, I deserved it.

Now there’s a Buddhist type quote somewhere that says somethings along the lines of…anger is like swallowing a poison and expecting it to hurt the other person. I get that. Makes sense to me. The situation is what it is. Sigh.

Unfortunately despite my best efforts at being zen or whatever I still remain human. Anger is a part of that. 

When I was growing up I experienced all kinds of upsetting situations but I had no control over it. I was a child. There was no safe space to be angry. So, what to do with all that anger? Simple. Just roll it up in a little ball and stuff it deep inside of me. Ahhh! That’s better. Ultimately though as the ignored anger grows it gets more and more difficult to contain. Just containing the anger uses an incredible amount of energy. And, according to the therapist, this is why I’m so knackered. I agree with her. Maintaining outer calm whilst internally an inferno creates destruction is actually quite tiring.

I realise that I’m not an angry person but I most certainly do feel anger. Like a big, red furry seething monster. (I might draw it later.) Why  were these things allowed to happen to me?! They could have been stopped. Could have. And I am really, rather pissed off that they weren’t. The number of silent screams I let out: scratched wrists, not eating, writing about it in English, carving a word on my arm, trying to slit my wrists etc etc. Seriously. Why didn’t anyone stop this? Yes, you bet. I am absolutely fucking raging about it.

BUT, that was the past. Now I’m in the present and this past anger is getting in the way. What to do? What to do? The therapist asks what would happen if I let the anger out. I laugh heartily. That, my dear, is not possible. Of course she asks why. Well, I think it would end rather badly. Possibly with me screaming deranged in the street, causing criminal damage and being arrested. I think this course of action is best avoided. Indeed. We are going to need another strategy. 

We do lots of other counselling stuff and then she gives me the angry page. It is a worksheet! Hurray! My little teacher heart leaps in my rage-filled chest. Yes please! This I can do. Actually I’m looking forward to it. I’ve added a picture of the angry page. (It’s from a book so I’m a bit worried about copyright. Please contact me if I need to take the photo down.)

So, maybe I might be an angry person after all…