There’s a lot of frustration runs through this particular amygdala. Frustration and impatience and helplessness at trying ever so hard and wanting ever so much to be better but feeling like I get nowhere. On more than one occasion I have said to a healthcare professional “I may as well bang my head off a brick wall! It’d be about as useful!”. And I’ve asked time and time again: what else can I do? The reply always the same: you’re doing everything you can.
How can that be?
I’m very self-aware, probably too much, and in these frustrating months I’ve tried to understand. You see I want to understand why this wait is more than just frustrating. It’s actually distressing. It upsets me. It causes a volcano of emotions to erupt inside me. Why is that? Two ideas resonated with me: compliance and please don’t talk about it.
Idea 1: Compliance
Ok I have trouble regulating emotions inside me.
They bubble and seethe and flare and pop. All of this turmoil is hidden. I’m a master at it. After all, it’s all I’ve ever known. Unfortunately sometimes, ever so rarely, they pop out. Now, when dealing with the professionals it helps to keep a calm head, remain rational and most important of all: comply. Whatever they ask of us we must comply and do so calmly, meekly, gratefully even. And it is this that drives me so utterly, absolutely bonkers! So if my particular brand of crazy is cPTSD, based on an entire childhood of, well, compliance, hiding emotions and generally being a good girl doing what I’m told it isn’t a huge stretch is it to recognise that repeating this behaviour/feeling/experience (whatever!) is actually triggering. Essentially as I comply with the services, particularly when I feel they are being unfair, it distresses me. The rage flares inside me. I want to defend myself. I want to demonstrate how wrong they are. I want to react, like a regular human but I can’t. I am mentally unhealthy. I cannot react. Reacting means notes made on my records, conclusions drawn and becomes something else I have to justify and explain. It seems pretty simple to me: I think you’re talking utter crap and it pisses me off! Instead: compliance. And it kills me to be living like this again.
Idea 2: Don’t Talk About It
1. You mustn’t talk about it.
2. You should let it go and try not to think about it.
3. Put it all back in the box.
4. Focus on now.
All of the above have been said to me by healthcare professionals, mental health specialists in fact. Number 2 was the psychiatrist. The same psychiatrist who agrees I have cPTSD tells me to not think about it. (Engage head with brick wall or rather, sit compliantly listening). Anyway, this has been the approach since the specialists have been involved: don’t talk about it. It tears at my insides. I finally opened up about my past. I’m now desperate to talk about it. Please. Please listen, please validate me? No. We do not want to discuss that. We must only talk about your current behaviour. It is actually painful that they won’t let me discuss the very thing that is running around destructively inside of me, causing chaos. It hurts. It really, really hurts to have told this secret, to be ready now to finally talk about it, make sense of it and yet be refused. Yes, it’s fair to say that is very distressing. Inside I’m screaming but remember: I must comply.
So whilst waiting is frustrating, of course it is, that’s not actually what’s causing my deterioration. Well, not solely. It isn’t helping that’s for sure! But really, being made to relive the bad bits of my past: be a good girl, comply, don’t make a fuss, do as you’re told, don’t talk about it; the professionals are mirroring my parents. It’s happening all over again. I am powerless and mute because I am mentally unwell.
Maybe they could listen to me? Allow me to let the emotions show without judging it as illness or being difficult. I’m just being human. Like you. Maybe I am unreasonable sometimes but isn’t that ok? Isn’t everyone, sometimes?