This Little Light of Mine

Shut up shut up shut up!

Why can’t I make them be quiet? These voices/thoughts in my head. They can be anyone; people I know or anonymous or even myself. Sometimes it’s detuned radios. A negative cacophony. I feel like there’s fifteen of them but they’re impossible to count.They suround me. If I try and get up and walk away they come with me. I can try to ignore them but they stay. They are summoned by light. The light of a positive thought. When they see that I have light they swarm around me to extinguish it. I am doing better. I know I am doing better. So they’re here. Surrounding me with their you’re so worthless you idiot we hate you everybody hates you you pointless piece of shit you will never escape us we keep you safe you should be grateful you fool you’re disgusting and pathetic. They never tire but I sure do. If I think of the light I have as a Christmas tree light perhaps I can smuggle it up my jumper? The only way to stop these thoughts is to give into them and acknowledge that yes I know I am worthless etc etc. Only when I agree with them and am lying broken will they start to move away, one by one. Often the little light of positivity I had is broken and I mourn it: my treasured thing broken. Again. Now though I think maybe I can hide this little light this time and keep it safe. I’ll fall to the floor and play dead and do all the usual things I need to for them to disperse but…I won’t let them break my little light. It’s mine. I can already feel that some of them have gone. Good. My little light is safe. That’s one. I’ve got one. A little light of positivity smuggled up my jumper but still glowing. 

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Because the Universe Will Take Her Away

I’ve made progress. Even I can see that. I am no longer suicidal. Previously I knew that I had to stay alive as a duty to my children. Now I want to stay alive. It feels very different. I still get the daily thoughts repeating ‘I want to die I want to die I want to die’ over and over but they are less powerful; noises instead of compulsions.

Yesterday I cut my forearm. It was an experiment just to see a little bit what slitting my wrist would feel like. Not to die. Just curiosity. I also had to do it. I owe it to the Universe because I’m getting better…so for reasons I can’t explain as there’s no sense in it, I cut my arm. By last night I had decided: I am done with self harm. Done. I’ve done it. I’ve kept up my side of the deal and now I want to say enough. There are better ways forward. 

In fact I was going to get Nora to participate when I ceremoniously dumped my knives in the bin today. A bit pompous, I know, but fuck it. Anyway I didn’t get Nora to help because I didn’t dump the knives because she didn’t ask about self harm. Instead we talked about how much better I am because I really, really am. Isn’t it great? It is. I mean there’s work to be done but I am a lot better. Which is good because…

…Nora quit.

Well, ok, that’s me being over dramatic. She hasn’t quit. She is retiring and rightfully so. I wasn’t surprised when she told me. I had always known that she would be taken. Obviously she was going to withdraw from my care at some point (in the very near future actually) but I suspected it’d be more than that. So no surprise here. I’m actually happy for her. I completely understand her decision and am pleased that she is being taken in a good way, moving on to better things. That’s much better than some of the alternatives. 

But yes of course she was going to be taken. I know it sounds stupid. No one ever understands. Look, the good is always taken away. Andy and the kids being the exception to the rule I hope. Although I do get mad anxious when the 3 of them are out in the car. Please don’t take them. Anyway there are 3 hcp that I rate: Nora, Monica and Dr H. I knew that couldn’t continue. I just hope the other 2 are ok. I worry poor Dr H will just have a massive heart attack or something. 

Now I’ve typed this out I see how twisted my thinking is. I just feel like this because I’m a person disordered. Wise mind is keeping quiet again. Cheers mate. You wanna consider speaking up every now and then?

My brain has been very busy and I wish I knew what that sneaky little bastard was up to. Well, I am still making progress and that’s good. One day I might even think it’s ok that I exist. One day. 

I’m actually embarrassed by how crazy this post is. Embarrassed. Posting it anyway in the name of honesty/stupidity.

The Quetiapine Question 

I’m not ok. I keep trying and trying to be ok but I’m failing. I’m not ok. I rang the DBT support line yesterday and spoke to Monica. I told her I was “shit scared” because of urges to cut my own throat, or slit my arm lengthways or, quite bizarrely, to cut a very basic skeleton outline on to my body. I’m not ok. We’re getting that aren’t we? There’s no way round it: those thoughts are distressing. And they persist. All the time. All the time. All. The. Fucking. Time.

Monica was really helpful and by the end of the call I felt that I had the control, not the thoughts. I felt peaceful when I went to sleep last night. I had hoped I had turned a corner.

I hadn’t.

Another night of vivid nightmarish dreams filled with people from my past. I woke up with that dread – you know the dread when you have a full day, filled with minutes, ahead of you? Yeah, that one. I had my daughter today so was really determined to be the best mum I could be (accepting my current limitations).  In truth there were two points in the day when I did think positively about myself and thought hey, you know, I am quite good at parenting. Ugh. Having a positive thought just causes the negatives to pile on and kick me harder. Die positive die. 

So, is it time for the quetiapine I wonder? The quetiapine question. It was first suggested by the psychiatrist back in July; five shitty months ago. Then when I saw him again a couple of months ago we discussed quetiapine and the side effects. Sorry, that should say god-awful side effects. Nora’s mentioned it a few times since, particularly when I see things or have the whole believing I can fly thing. I spoke to the GP, Dr H about it too. Without telling me to go on it he did describe a lot of the potential positives. So why not take it? Why not indeed.

The weight gain. 

That’s it really. Like all psychiatric meds it has a huge list of potential side effects but there is one thing that is universally acknowledged about quetiapine and that is weight gain. Sigh. I’ve lost 10kgs. It’s not been easy and I have more to lose. A magic pill that will put it all back on? I’d have to be mad to take it. I am mad though. Mad enough to be scared of cutting my own throat. What is a girl to do?

The scientist in me knows that the only way to know what quetiapine will do to me is to take it. To experiment. I’m so scared. You know once upon a time when I was a ‘proper’ chemist I worked for the company that discovered quetiapine. I sat in many a meeting where it’s sale projections were presented. Licensed for schizophrenia the drug was having greater success than initially anticipated. As such it was being investigated for other uses. Things like major depressive disorder. People like me. It’s that line again – the line between the normal observer and the mad patient. The them and us line. The line I’ve crossed. Well, that’s depressing but in reality there isn’t a line is there? That’s just my black and white thinking again I suppose.

So the quetiapine question rumbles on. So much to gain; in every sense. I feel defeated that I’m having to consider this med on top of the venlafaxine, the propranolol, the promethazine, and the lorazepam. How the fuck did this happen?! And I’m using DBT skills as best I can. What will it take?! What?! Someone tell me please! 

I just want to give up but I can’t. Can’t. Won’t. There is no question about that. 

How can you do that to yourself?! 

It feels like being chased. That’s the only way I can describe it.

When things are good I can slow to a walk, I don’t have to look over my shoulder for I know It is gone. Then I might catch sight of It out of the corner of my eye. Alarmed I’ll quicken my pace in the hope to avoid It. If I just keep walking it’ll be fine.

Now I have to check over my shoulder occasionally for I know It is in the neighbourhood. Hopefully It hasn’t spotted me yet though so it’s ok. For now. Who knows I might just shake It off.

Shit. It’s behind me properly now. It’s spotted me so I’ll hurry up and try and lose It.

No no no no no no. Panic. Its running now. Properly running. It’s going to catch me. Oh shit how can I get away? I’ll run as fast as I can. My legs turn to jelly. Please no, let me lose It. I’m slowing, I can feel it. Why am I slowing down?! I need to run faster but I can’t. I’m spent. The inevitability of it; I thought I’d escape this time. I thought it’d be different this time. 

And It catches me. It grabs at me and I crumble to the ground, adrenaline still pumping. I curse myself. I probably secretly wanted this to happen. I surely could have shaken It off if I’d tried, if I’d really wanted to. I could have, couldn’t I? But I didn’t. I let It take me. Fucking weak, that’s what I am.

As I come around I look at the blood from my wound; from my injury that I have inflicted upon myself. Fuck. Best tidy up. Clean up. Put the knife away. It is satisfied. Maybe that will be the last time. I won’t hurt myself again. No. Absolutely not. 

I pick myself up and begin sauntering casually. It is nowhere to be seen. I’m ok. Everything is ok. Nobody even saw anything. It’d be easy to forget it had even happened except it left a mark. Another one.

Waking up suicidal

Woke up. 

Immediately the thoughts of ending my life filled my head.

Then I considered just running away.

I’m trying to use my DBT skills: acknowledge the thoughts, don’t judge them, thoughts don’t have to control me.

Sigh.

So it’s the weekend, the kids and husband are here. So somehow I will manage this feeling. I’m scared though, I’ll admit that. It’s a bit like falling into a pit but trying to scrabble up the side to get out.

On the plus side the beauty of BPD is that I may well be full of the joys by lunchtime as my mood switches uncontrollably. Fingers crossed. 

…then there’s the quetiapine question…

When I feel like this I think I should try it but…I don’t want to.

Through

There’s a quote I often think of:

“When you’re going through hell, keep going”.

Apparently Churchill said it. Through hell. Through. I like it as it acknowledges that the current place is hell, but, each step brings you closer to leaving hell behind; that hell can be escaped from but it’s going to be hard work. So if we can summon the strength to keep going then the flames will not consume us. We will not let them. 

The other story I’ve been thinking about is We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. In the children’s tale a family go on a bear hunt and on their quest they encounter various obstacles. As they reach each obstacle the conclusion is the same:

“We can’t go over it.

  We can’t go under it.

           Oh no!

  We’ve got to go through it!”

‘Ain’t that the truth? That seems like the only way to leave the past behind. I can’t go over it, I can’t go under it. Oh no. I’ve got to go through it. That’s not good news is it? The only way out is through. Through DBT, through nightmares and flashbacks, through medication, through excruciating examination of my thoughts and actions. But what if I don’t make it? What if I fall and flounder and stay stuck in hell? Well, I’d have to die. I couldn’t live like this forever. As a I write this my vision is disturbed by strange sort of bright pulses. I feel sick. The creeping sensation covers my neck as if invisible ghostly hands are touching me. 

Speaking of living, there’s a song lyric that gets stuck in my head. 

“If you live through this with me, I swear that, I will die for you”

The song is called Asking For It by Hole, Courtney Love’s grunge band whom I did go and see live back in 1994. This lyric resonates with me as it feels like my two selves, my two minds trying to barter a deal. Like Reasonable Mind is trying to implore Emotional Mind to perhaps lay off the suicide stuff. Let me live and, when the time is right, I will die. I agree to that. The person I think of when I hear this song is my 14 year old self. The person who had to Live Through This. (Not surprising really as I was 14 in 1994!) Unfortunately she’s been calling in her debt and thinks that having lived through this it’s the time to ‘die for you’ bit. She’s wrong though. This isn’t the time to die. This is the time to live, or to try. At least to try. To keep going. There can be a good life I think. I’ve just got to go through this. Not under or over or roundabout. Through. 

I really hope there’s something good on the other side because this journey is hell. I hope it’s not a sodding bear! 

Tits

Awful word: tits. I hate it. I’ve nothing against breasts – I possess two! It’s the word, tits, specifically. Of all the words for breasts that one just irks me. To me it sounds insulting which is daft because breasts are not insulting and that’s just a word for breasts so what’s the problem? It’s quite a hard sounding word I suppose.

Well, it’s what my husband loves about me apparently – my tits. Over our 13 years together I’ve asked him a few times what is the best bit of me, my best feature, why he loves me. The answer is always the same “your tits”. Right. You see I ask this question craving to hear something good about myself. I hate myself and feel like I shouldn’t exist. My husband is the person in the world who knows me the best so my hope has always been that he might see something in me, something good. Instead it’s two fatty lumps on my front. I’m not sure why my breasts are particularly special over any other women’s.  I know what you’ll be thinking, poor guy being asked such a loaded question but it’s not like that. He never ever says anything positive about my personality and obviously I crave to hear something positive about my personality, about who I am. Now with my borderline personality disorder diagnosis that craving makes a lot of sense. 

I accept who he is. I recognise that spontaneously telling me that he loves my sense of humour or ambition or caring nature or whatever just isn’t going to happen. There won’t ever be a special message written in a card. That’s just not him. However I have this need and it doesn’t seem that big an ask, if I’m honest, to know what it is that my loves about me. My tits. In more recent times I’ve tried to help him out “no silly! I mean something about me! As a person!” (I laugh, keeping it light, whilst silently praying he’ll actually have something more appropriate to offer).

“Your arse”.

Then I crumble inside. My tits and my arse. Brilliant. That’s totally what I meant. That’s exactly the sort of reaffirming thing I want to be told by my soulmate. 

 

I’m not being funny but my ears would look banging in a nice bra….

 
If it was a one off then fair enough but it’s not. It’s 13 years of not hearing anything good about myself (disclaimer: he does say I’m clever and that I’m a good mother. However these are used in arguments, not as compliments but as ammunition against me. It’s his way of saying how easy I have it compared to him.) Obviously there wasn’t much in the way of praise from my parents and if it did come it was backhanded (you probably could have been a good swimmer with such broad shoulders…that type of thing). 

So there we have it. Next time I feel utterly despicable I can just remember that my husband loves my tits. That’ll get me through. Although after breastfeeding two kids and our good friend gravity I wouldn’t say they’re anything to write home about (despite doing a blog about them!). Oh dear. To have my own husband choose “tits” as the best thing about me leaves me feeling pretty hollow. Empty. Yet I know he loves me, I know he cares about far more than my breasts. It’d just be really, really awesome to have that explicitly pointed out…maybe every few years?

So…tits. Right. Well, I would say it’s all down from here for my breasts.

So where does that leave me? Oh right.
Arse.

Not ok. Shhhh.

Arghhhh! What’s happening?! This feeling. What is it?! Make it stop. 

My skin has been crawling all day, especially my neck. It’s awful. I’ve wrapped a scarf tightly around it to try and help but even that sensation prickles at me. Sometimes I really tighten the scarf to see if a choking feeling helps. It does a bit. The hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I want to cry; to crumble. Please no. I can’t though. I’ve tried to participate as much as possible with my husband and kids today. I’ve sat on the sofa  but I just wanted to be away. My daughter and the cat have clambered all over me. I’ve wanted to throw up at the feeling of invasion.

Right now I feel like I could die. Panic. My hands are like ice – I think my fingernails are turning blue. I know I can’t trust anything I think because I’m in a bad way right now. I don’t know what to do. It’s ok though because I know why this is happening. I’ve mistakenly been taking half doses of my venlafaxine. I muddled the pills up. I don’t how many times I’ve taken a half dose. At least the last 3 doses I think. I’ve taken the correct dose now having realised my mistake. All this weirdness if probably just chemistry. Fucking chemistry. She’s a cruel mistress to me.

I’ve broken my phone too. Dropped in the toilet it’s currently drying out in rice but I hold out little hope. I didn’t know to switch it off so a short circuit (ie phone death) is likely. This is a problem as my phone is my brain. It’s also my lifeline whether it’s browsing or just being able to make contact with other people, it’s gone now. No wonder I feel panicky.

It’s daughters birthday tomorrow so I’ll have to get up soon and help sort out her presents. I’d better not be like this tomorrow. I have her all day. 

I’ve decided to quit teaching too. Seems so obvious now that I need to do that. Shame cos I loved being a teacher.

And nothing makes any sense. I can’t think about anything except how bad I feel and how I can’t talk to anyone about it. I’m expecting Andy to come and have a go at me any minute about the state of me, am I fit for tomorrow etc etc

I want to talk talk talk talk but I can’t. CAN’T. Contain it. Contain it. Shhhhh it’ll be ok.

Just repeat “ok” until true. (Not ok).

DBT#8: Boiling Point

I left it until the absolute last minute to leave for DBT today. I was an unpleasant mixture of completely flat with exhaustion and absolutely wired with anxiety. Cycled to DBT. It was freezing but I didn’t wear a coat to try and minimise the venlafaxine sweats. Didn’t work. I still stank of B.O. despite a liberal spraying of deodorant. Good times.

I was still shaking with anxiety when we went in. I felt like I wanted to puke and pass out. I’ve been feeling like this a lot recently but I can usually try and manage it with some kind of control over what I’m doing. Not so in a two and a half hour group therapy session. 

Normally we all sit in the same seats around a table but some people moved place just randomly. WTF?! Sally led us in the starting mindfulness exercise. I really thought I was going to pass out. I couldn’t close my eyes as I felt terror. Instead I stared at my mug of tea on the table. Everything looked weird – like a dream or something. In the feedback I said this. No one nodded in agreement. Errrr just me then? Sally checked I’d eaten, which I had. Ummm…ok that was embarrassing. So I mumbled about being fine in 5 minutes and withdrew into my pit of panic. I listened to the others feedback about their half-smiling, willing hands homework. I found myself feeling quite in awe of the others. Each has gargantuan struggles. They are so honest about how hard they find things. The box of tissues was passed back and forth. There were four individuals that I would dearly have loved to have gone over and comforted. Life is shit to people, it really is.

I refuse to feedback until I can avoid it no longer. I’m last. That’s good though as we’re over running so I can be quick. I say I tried it a lot. I found it fine although it’s a bit weird as it reminds me of the religious statues from growing up. Anyway…yeah…just me again.

Break!!!! I am out of the room before most people have even stood up. I jitter about. Make another tea. I talk to the others but I feel like I’m too much; like I’m belching words out without any control. Excuse me! Pardon me! I don’t say it though as I don’t want to bring attention to myself. I can tell I smell bad too. Ugh.

Back in and Amy the psychologist is doing a session on mindfulness of current thoughts. I engage as best I can. I’m genuinely interested in this stuff but there’s the de-tuned radio chorus in my head. I feel my palms get sweaty again. We watch a YouTube clip about how we are not our thoughts. It pokes and prods at my core belief that I am wrong, a blip. The video goes like this:

I have hands, but I am not my hands.

I am nothing I think.

I have legs, but I am not my legs.

I am nothing.

I have eyes, but I am not my eyes.

I am nothing.

Every time the narrator makes one these “I am not…” statements I think “I am nothing”. Even worse it stars the Shadow Man! Not the actual real-life guy of course but an animation. Fucking hell. I internally congratulated myself on not walking out. Anyway the point was that we are not our thoughts and thoughts are not facts. This confuses the life out of me so I decide to speak up – not to be difficult or wilful but because I want to understand.

Just because something is a thought does not make it untrue. Some thoughts are facts. (Amy has an ‘oh shit’ look on her face. I continue). So I have this core belief, these thoughts, and people keep trying to tell me that it’s not true; it’s just thoughts. The thing is though how do they know it’s not true? I’ve got evidence to back up my thought and I should know: I’m with me all the time but they’re not. They hardly know me at all. So this is an idea that I can’t get my head around because some thoughts are true. In fact, to be honest, I feel like it’s everyone else being wilful because they won’t consider that what I’m saying might be right. They should at least consider it. That’s all.

Amy’s face was flushed. She didn’t know what to say really so she breezed over it and moved on. See? They won’t even enter into a dialogue about not entertaining the idea! Wilful much?!

We did some more stuff about thoughts but it wasn’t working for me. When I visualised my thoughts removed from my head and placed on a leaf to float downstream the picture was of a bizarre floating horror show really. I didn’t admit that though. The things I had admitted in the session hadn’t been worth it.

When the session ended I darted out of the room again. I never knew I could move so fast! I went to wash my cup up. There is a boiler thing on the wall because the hot tap isn’t! I looked around. I was alone. I put some boiling water in my empty mug and then stuck my fingers in. Ouch! I was chicken though and didn’t commit. I dipped them in and out. Then I threw out the water and replaced it with more fresh boiling liquid. I quickly tipped this over the back of my hand. Fuck! That’s sore! Perfect. I washed the cup up and left. I couldn’t decide if I was pleased or ashamed at my behaviour. I could decide that I didn’t care so that is what I’m doing – not caring.

I cycled home in the freezing cold pouring rain. Tomorrow I have to go back and see Monica. No doubt I can look forward to having all my wrong thoughts and actions gone over. Oh joy. 

Waking and Sleeping Nightmares 

Need to sleep. So tired. Can’t sleep. Buzzing. Or anxious. Or both?

Andy and I both struggled to get to sleep last night interrupting the darkness with periodic “are you awake?” “Yes”. We did both finally get to sleep. Then I was woken at 1.30am by my daughter crying quietly. When I went to her she’d had a nightmare about spiders. I tried to settle her back to sleep but she was wide awake. I sat on the floor next to her bed. It was freezing cold and the darkness prickled at me. It was suffocating. I felt the panic rising. Oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck. Got to stay ok. Got to stay ok.

I couldn’t take it. I needed to escape so I brought her into our bed. After all I would never leave her alone and afraid in the dark. I know that feeling. I feel safest in my bed but my daughter wouldn’t sleep. Now Andy is disturbed too. He’s already ill and exhausted. I feel such an idiot. Imagine not being able to sit in the dark with your own daughter for fucksake!

Eventually it’s too much for Andy. He tells our daughter that he will take her back to bed and sit with her. She cries and clings to me. I can’t bear it. I don’t know what’s right. He gives her a last chance and we all get some sleep. 

At 6am Andy’s alarm goes off. He can’t find it to turn it off so that’s everyone awake. My son bounces in. He’s super excited. It’s his birthday. We troop downstairs to where, I must admit, there is a pretty nice little present pile. He loves his presents. Awesome! Then Andy is gone. I get both kids ready. I’m so tired. My eyes burn. The anxiety is always there. Eventually my son leaves for school and my daughter is collected by her grandad. I immediately head back to bed.

I can’t sleep. For a start Trump has been elected US president. A man accused of multiple sexual assaults in the White House. That’s pretty depressing. All this stuff I’m trying to battle to process my own assault seems pointless really if a guy like that can become president. The thought crosses my mind that this terrible thing happened because I’m still alive – it’s the Universe all out of kilter because I exist. My rational mind gives a derisory snort get a grip! I don’t think you’re so important as to sway the vote of the whole of America! It’s a mad thought but I am mad so…?

I lie in bed unable to sleep. My mind is time travelling back and forth. I try and stop it but I’m too tired. Nothing feels real. Even my own hands feel odd – as if they belong to someone else – like I’m some sort of bodysnatcher. When I look in the mirror I look different. I can only describe it as marshmallow face. It’s me, but equally, it’s not. I’m confused by all of this but I guess it’s just dissociation. 

Physically apart from burning eyes I have the ever present nausea and a leaden feeling in my abdomen. I would really like to cut a wrist. Just to see. I can’t though. I’m starting to feel scared of myself again. It’ll pass, right? My weight has plateaued at 87.4kg. Bollocks. Need to get below 87kg to be overweight rather than obese. I was expecting a plateau as it’s been going quite well. I know plateaus can last a few weeks and I just need to stick with it. Should be easy really I don’t really want to eat much. I have to eat with my family at mealtimes so it’s difficult. I don’t want to raise unnecessary concern. I’m suffocated enough at the moment.

I need to get up. I’ve got so much to do. Nothing feels real. It’s frightening just how realistic this nightmare is. Time to wake up.