Bye, Bye Borderline!

These are the criteria, at least five of which are required to be met, in order to be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Apologies if this is too much of an echo of my year-old post called ‘BPD vs C-PTSD‘ – but there’s method in the madness, I promise :)

But what is that method?

I realised something last night, when I commented on Frankie’s blog, The Sunshine Diaries. I was saying to Frankie (who has both schizophrenia and BPD, the former being an illness that she is managing well, the latter being something she still struggles with at times) that I had felt so much better lately, showing that (contrary to a lot of uninformed but sadly popular opinion) there is hope for people with the disorder. As I typed, the following words seemed to roll of my fingers

I’m not sure I meet the required five criteria any more and if so, only just.

I hit the ‘reply’ button largely without thinking…then I realised what I had said, and the possibly enormity of it. Could that possibly be true? Honestly, literally true? That I might no longer meet the criteria for BPD? Really?! Surely not!

Well – this is not official in any way, but stilll…as it turns out; yes, it could be true. I no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for BPD!

:D *does a happy dance* :D

Let’s examine it one by one.

[BPD is a]… pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image and affects, as well as marked impulsivity, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

  1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. (Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behaviour covered in Criterion Five)Me? NO. I’m not even that anxious in terms of abandonment issues any more, never mind going to extreme measures to avoid it. I don’t suppose I ever really went out of my way to prevent rejection, other than to make the complaint against the Trust about the end of matters with C – but really, that was more about morality and rights within the system than it was about me and him per se (not that that wasn’t part of it, admittedly. It just wasn’t the whole story).
  2. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealisation and devaluation. Me? NO, and this has never been true. I have had issues with splitting in fairness (although this is increasingly less true as time goes on), but it’s very rarely been the case in the context of my close relationships. A and I will have been together for eight years this month. My two best friends from school are still my two best friends. Aside from the normal ups and downs any lengthy connections go through, all of these relationships have been pretty stable.
  3. Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self. Me? NO. Not significantly more than anyone else anyway, I think. In the last few months my self-perceptions have been stable, or at least consistent with an ongoing mood. When severely depressed, I don’t like myself – who does?! When I’m feeling euthymic – as I think I am at present – I am reasonably content with myself. So yeah, it changes occasionally – but it’s not some sort of yo-yo disparity at all.
  4. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (eg. promiscuous sex, eating disorders, binge eating, substance abuse, reckless driving). (Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion Five)Me? MAYBE. The binge eating thing still applies, though in fairness that’s only really gone out of control since I started taking such a high dosage of Seroquel. Even if we can assume that it is a BPD symptom, is there (at least) a second such trait? It’s hard to say. I used to do a lot of stupid shit when I was driving, like seriously exceeding the speed limit. In the past few months, I’ve actually noticed myself being exceedingly boring whilst ensconced behind the wheel. I haven’t even gone beyond 60mph on the motorway in the last few months. *zzzzzzzz* Oh, and – assuming we’re talking in terms of consent (*coughs*), then I’m about as far from promiscuous as you can get without being one of those no-sex-before-marriage people. Yeah. I should vote Conservative.
  5. Recurrent suicidal behaviour, gestures, threats or self-injuring behavior such as cutting, interfering with the healing of scars (excoriation) or picking at oneself. Me? YES. Not threats and gestures; I’ve actually never been guilty of that. And I haven’t attempted suicide in well over a year, though I have seriously toyed with the idea since. Suicidal ideation is still a very big part of my life, and I can’t see it ever going away. However, it’s about degrees; right now, it’s fairly low by the standards to which I am used. As for self-harm, I’m perennially guilty of the whole ‘interfering with scabs and picking at self’ thing, and I do self-injure with my old friend the scalpel from time to time. 18 months ago, though, I was doing that at least once a week. I find it hard to average out its frequency in terms of today, but it would be less than once a month anyway – perhaps not as often even as that.
  6. Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (eg. intense episodic dysphoria, irritability or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days). Me? YES, but also NO – not in terms of the specific criteria detailed here. The DSM says that people with BPD have reactive moods, and that said moods last a few hours or days, and only ‘rarely’ longer. This is not me at all. My mood ‘episodes’ last for weeks, quite often months actually, and – in an opposite to the DSM criteria – only rarely last for shorter periods than these. In this way, any affective ‘instability’ is much more consistent with major depressive disorder and/or an anxiety-related difficulty.
  7. Chronic feelings of emptiness. Me? NO. No! I don’t feel empty at all. One can feel hugely depressed, anxious, traumatised or whatever without feeling empty. I have all those issues and more, but no – no emptiness. Not any more.
  8. Inappropriate anger or difficulty controlling anger (eg. frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)Me? NO. I rant and rave on this blog all the time, but as I discussed somewhere else (I can’t be arsed looking for the link, sorry), that’s often because I’m really pretty submissive in ‘real life’. I have occasional tiffs with my mother and with A, but – shock! horror! – that happens in such relationships. Big wow! All that said, my types of ire can alternate – but even when it’s internally explosive, my old skills at acting allow me to behave, mostly, in a measured fashion. I am not constantly angry, and the one, solitary physical fight I’ve ever been in was when I was being bullied at school and had no choice but to defend myself.
  9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation, delusions or severe dissociative symptomsMe? YES. This is still the main criterion that applies to me, though things are a lot less severe in this regard than they used to be. They could also be explained by other illnesses with which I am diagnosed, but I accept that they could certainly still be BPD ‘traits’ too. NewVCB has told me on a couple of occasions that, in her observations, there are two main strands of people with BPD: you have one bracket of folks who are (to use her phrase) “classically emotionally unstable”, then another who tend more towards dissociation and psychosis (which is much more in keeping with Stern’s original observation of the phenomenon, ie. that it was on the ‘borderline’ between psychosis and neurosis).

So! There you go. I have two of the main symptoms, and a couple of others remain arguably applicable. That’s probably still enough to see me considered to have ‘borderline traits’, but by the definition of the full-blown disorder, I can no longer have its ‘complete’ version.

It’s weird to write this, you know: in a way, it even feels uncomfortable. Waaaaaay back just after I started writing Confessions, I debated the issue of whether or not if, if given the option, I would flick the fabled switch to bring me to sanity. I said that I wouldn’t, and I still hold to that largely. Yet here I am, effectively devoid of an entire set of insane-ish personality characteristics that seemed such a normal part of my apparently abnormal life for so long. Someone once accused me of being obsessed with the diagnosis, which I don’t think I ever was; I did, however, embrace it in many ways – in terms of learning how to be able to manage it, of interacting with others in similar boats, of advocating and trying to fight that ridiculous stigma that permeates it.

I am not ashamed to have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder; the stigma is unfair, and the histrionic, manipulative stereotypes are blown out of all proportion and are in no way representative of the majority of people that have the illness. You can’t base everything on what you see in an A and E department on a Saturday night, and if you’re stupid enough to think that you can, then you’re not worthy of further words on the subject from me – aside from screw you.

So no, I’m not ashamed, but at the same time, I’m relieved that it’s seemingly no longer with me too. The diagnosis will never leave my medical notes so it’s not about that aspect of things; no, it’s about progress. If I can no longer be diagnosed with BPD, then I have moved forward considerably – and, maybe, returning to work is not a million miles down the road. That is still my ultimate benchmark of ‘wellness’ and ‘recovery’.

All that said, perhaps oddly I still meet the criteria for the similar psychiatric problem of complex post-traumatic stress disorder. I won’t bother to go through the whole thing with it like I did with BPD, but perhaps the reason that it could still be applied is that it puts more emphasis on dissociation than the BPD definition does, or that some of the more specific sub-criteria are applicable to me in a way that the BPD symptomatology is not. Since NewVCB first told me that I “couldn’t not have” complex PTSD, I’ve tried to embrace that diagnosis much more than borderline – not because I was ashamed of the latter, as I’ve noted, but because it seemed politic, wise and even affirming to acknowledge the trauma partly associated with my illnesses.

Furthermore, it’s evident that I still have major depressive disorder, (social?) anxiety, psychotic and dissociative episodes (potentially part of C-PTSD or a BPD trait, but possibly independent thereof too), plus arguable issues with agoraphobia, panic disorder, yadda yadda. But still. It’s progress. I’ll never be rid of everything. I don’t believe that for a second, as well you know, good readers. But if I can manage some of it, eliminate other bits – then maybe I can go back to work and stop wasting my life like this.

How did we get here, this point of non-borderline-ness? Intense, in-depth therapy, with a competent, vaguely integrative (but non-behavioural!), caring and demanding therapist. Someone with whom you’re comfortable – but not obsessed. Someone who cares about you and not targets or looking good to his or her colleagues. Someone who asks a lot of you but is willing to give a lot back in return.

However, therapy is only one part of the equation. I have to say that Quetiapine and, in its higher dose, Venlafaxine, have both worked wonders. It pisses me off that NICE strongly recommend against the use on medication in BPD – the right combination, under the supervision of a good psychiatrist, has made my life better. Simple as, end of. I don’t think therapy would have improved things so much on its own – not in less than six months, anyway. And would I have been able to even have undertaken such intensive work without the relative stability the medication gave me in the first place? Probably not.

In fact, although I think therapy with Paul has been incredibly useful (and will continue to be), the timing of my positivity* is consistent with starting to take the higher dose of Venlafaxine. Placebo? Given that I formally thought it was a useless pile of wank before and had no expectations of it, higher dose or otherwise, whatsoever? Placebo my fucking arse.

* Well. There we go, readers. I’m bored with the newfound positivity of this blog. This is not me, is it? I mean – don’t get me wrong – life is still shite and everything…but it’s a little less shite. Tolerable. Acceptable and passable. This is new and different, and is less bollocks than it is normally. That’s good, but I feel like I’m becoming some sort of saccharine fucking cherub here, and that makes me want to vomit all over this screen.

So…

As I said to my CPN yesterday (blog on her tomorrow, I hope), it’s all going to go tits up again before long. This is probably a calm before a gargantuan cunt of a storm.

Random rant to prove I still can: the human race is an out-of-control fucking virus of much disgusting-ness and David Cameron and friends are cunts who need to have their smug, wanky faces beaten in by ASBO yobs. And, whilst I wish both concerned parties well, who in the name of all that is HOrwell (geddit?! Holy Orwell! HOrwell?!!!1!!!1!!11! No? Sigh :() gives a damn about the Royal Wedding? And this fucking post has taken me about three hours, not because the content is so amazingly refined – it certainly isn’t – but because WordPress is shit. gah. I feel sorry for WordPress now; I didn’t mean that, I’m sorry. I do actually love Wordperss, but honestly – they really, truly, honestly need to revise the user’s ability to create bullet points and so on. This has been eminently frustrating to format.

Bla. Blafuck. Fuckblah. Fuck. FUCK! FUCK!

There’s more to say and more to rant about, but I have a more general update planned for tomorrow so it’ll go there.

I’ll sign off with this. tai has been creating some collages based on her perceptions of her blog readers and commentators. I was pretty chuffed when she did this one of me:

Pan by tai

Isn’t that class, and isn’t it a brilliant idea? I love tai’s creativity, both in her art and in her prose, and feel very privileged to have been part of this project – so thank you, tai, very much indeed! :D

‘Night everybody. x

Missing a Dose of Venlafaxine, and Inevitable Post-Consultant Blah

When I first started writing this blog nearly two years ago, I was – as the title suggests – plagued by almost continuous insomnia. It is a truly dreadful affliction, but it’s surprising how much the human body and, to a lesser extent, the mind, learn to adapt to it. I remember when I was still at work, about three years ago maybe; I would lie awake all night, often for a number of respective daily cycles, getting a maximum of ten minutes’ sleep if I was lucky – and then I’d get up early, frustrated, and be in the office before 8am. Very often I stayed until after 6pm, sometimes without a lunch hour or even a tea break. It fucked with my head undoubtedly, but I still managed to undertake the duties of my position competently and courteously.

However, since I was prescribed Seroquel* last January, sleep has been much less elusive, to the point where I partly regret naming the blog what I did – though it’s established under this moniker, so I have no intention of changing it. Seroquel does tend to lose its soporific effects over time, but as my dose has increased on several occasions, I’ve been more immune to that than many that take it. I’m presently taking 600mg daily, and have been since October-ish. It’s a pretty hefty dose by UK standards, and so far although I often have difficulty in falling asleep, I usually get there eventually. The trade-off for both the management of psychosis and getting some rest is that one has a horrible, drowsy drug-induced hangover the next day, but it’s a balance I’m prepared to accept.

[* Please note that I use the terms Seroquel and Effexor interchangeably with Quetiapine and Venlafaxine in this post. For some reason, I've got into the habit of calling the former by its brand name, despite more typically using the generic medication terms, as I do with the latter in this case.]

So when, on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, I was still wide awake at 3am, I was puzzled. I was at my mother’s house, and mused briefly on whether it was being out of my normal bed, but I dismissed this fairly quickly as I usually stay with her one night a week, and am therefore not exactly unfamiliar with the sleeping quarters to which I am allocated.

Then it dawned on me: I had forgotten to take my medication.

I was beyond furious with myself. After this bizarre incident last year, I know what missing both Venlafaxine and Quetiapine means, and it is not fucking good. I mean, on that particular day I ended up quite hypomanic, but it wasn’t all so pleasant; I have this gruesome memory of lying in a toilet cubicle in Newcastle, shaking my tits off, struggling to breathe, alternating between hot and cold flushes, desperately trying to throw up and being so consumed by ‘head-zaps’ and dizziness that I thought I might die. Even though I thought I was already dead. So yeah. I’ve had better times.

At about 6am I got up, still not having slept, and took the Venlafaxine. I decided to omit the Quetiapine in case its sedative properties caused me to end up passing out, especially as I knew I had to see NewVCB at 9.30am.

I sat with a coffee and watched the sun rise. As I did, it began to start. I could have blamed it ‘merely’ on insomnia at first, but as time wore on, it became clear that it was to do with missing the tablets. Not for the first nor last time that day, I cursed my idiocy in forgetting to take the damn things.

At 8.30am, I went to my mother’s room, where fortunately she lay awake. I explained that I was mental and did not feel in enough control of myself to be able to drive to the hospital, and asked if she would take me. She agreed and duly arose.

All the time it was getting progressively worse. I nearly fell over with the unquantifiable dizziness at one point and several times I was surprised that I didn’t faint. I was shivering. I was hypervigilant, jumping out of my own skin at even the most subtle noises. I was restless and agitated. Suspicious and ‘zappy’. Nauseated and sore.

By the time we got to the hospital I could hardly stand. In fact, when NewVCB came to get me from the waiting room, I had to drag myself along the wall all the way as I followed her to her office (getting a few looks as I went – but what do they expect? It’s a psychiatric service for God’s sake!). As I sat down, I just went completelybluegh at her. “I’m fine, really I’m fine – just not today. I forgot the tablets last night, and I’m going out of my mind.”

She swung into action, telling me how to manage having missed the stuff. Apparently I was to go home and take 150mg straight away (I neglected to mention that I had already taken the full 300mg. For some reason, I am still scared of doing something even remotely opposed to her advice, even though I know that she’s nice). Then I was to take a Diazpeam or two, as required, before taking the second 150mg as usual. I was not to take any of the Seroquel until the normal time.

As the minutes passed, I was feeling worse and worse. I hadn’t noticed I was clawing constantly and fervently at my skin until NewVCB pointed it out to me. She said she was reminded of a man she’d see a few years ago who’d been stable when she’d last seen him, but was literally clawing off his face the next time she met him. He had missed three doses of Venlafaxine.

She asked about the symptoms I was experiencing, and I told her it was beyond description. She asked me to try anyway, so I did. I said I felt like I was being attacked from the inside. My muscles felt as if they were on fire; I needed to pace or hop about to mitigate this, but as soon as I tried to my head was overwrought with dizziness and I felt faint. I said that I was incredibly cold one second, but sweating my arse off the next. I tried to describe the head-zaps but couldn’t – the best I could do was to say that it felt like a million minuscule guns were shooting something toxic into my brain, from inside my brain. I tingled. I shook. I was agitated. I felt sick. In terms of mentalism, I was paranoid and filled with a feeling of unspecific dread. Reading that back, and remembering what yesterday was actually  like, it actually reminds me a good bit of akathasia. How odd that one can feel that as a side-effect of not taking a drug…as well as a side effect of taking said drug! (It’s normally seen as a side-effect to anti-psychotics, but has apparently been observed in some that take Venlafaxine).

“It’s the Effexor, not the Seroquel,” NewVCB said, certainty lacing her tone. I have just checked it out, and indeed I must have seemed like a textbook case to her yesterday. I had almost every symptom of it in remarkable abundance. She reiterated the need to go home and “straight away” take half of the missed dose. Since I’d already taken the full dose, albeit 10 hours too fucking late, I hoped that this would indeed lead to a reduction fairly quickly in the horror story that I was living through. It took its time as it turned out, but I’ll come to that.

NewVCB said she realised that given the circumstances it would be difficult to discuss the general state of things, but I’m generally OK at seeing what some arsehole manager somewhere would call ‘the bigger picture’, so despite my physical discomfort, I instigated a conversation with her on how matters had been since our previous meeting.

Firstly, given her intention to ultimately increase my dosage of Venlafaxine to 375mg daily (God forbid I ever miss a dose of that), I have been ‘invited’ (yeah, it’s going to be such a laugh, isn’t it? RSVPiss off) for an ECG on Wednesday 13th April. Other than that, I didn’t really have much on which to update her – other than that matters with Paul are due to come to (a hopefully temporary) end in less than six weeks.

I told her that luckily Paul had advised me that I could simply return to Nexus a few months after last seeing him, and that he would intend to simply pick up my file when my second application had gone through the system. “However,” I said, “that means – I don’t know – eight, ten weeks with no therapist, so I was wondering if I could continue to see Christine during that time? I know we’d both intended for her intervention to be pretty short-term, but I really think it would be helpful to have some support during those months.”

NewVCB was nodding her head vigorously. “Yes, absolutely,” she assured me. “I’ll talk to her about that this week.”

She paused, then continued by telling me that she wanted Christine to discuss practical matters with me. The term ‘practical matters’ reignited a subtle fear somewhere in my mind – it always reminds me of those types of therapy that I utterly despise, such as C- and DBT. However, NewVCB surely knows me better than that; she would know that I cannot abide anything that I even vaguely perceive as patronising, and to that end, I (hope that) I can trust her not to make the ‘practical matters’ with Christine to be some wank of this ilk.

She asked me how things had been with Paul in general, and I advised that I thought the work had been very productive overall. I tried to explain what we’d been doing but it’s hard to put it into succinct terms, so I ended up saying that he was basically trying to convince me that everything that’s happened wasn’t my fault.

“Despite working for who he does, though, he doesn’t just focus on sex abuse, which is good,” I said. “Certainly, that is a big issue, but it isn’t the only one.”

“And that’s part of the reason why 26 weeks is often enough for Nexus clients,” she opined. “You get a lot of people there that have maybe one or two incidents of abuse, or have much fewer defensive mechanisms or complex issues than you, and so in a relatively short period you’ll often find that they can resolve many of their difficulties. Unfortunately that’s not the case with you – but then, as they’re essentially a self-referral organisation, it means that as Paul says, you can return.

“How have the last few weeks been with him?” she continued.

“Introspective,” I replied. “I don’t think it’s been useless, but I’ve found myself sitting there in silence a lot, thinking about things rather than verbalising them.”

“Do you think you shut down when you know there’s an ending coming?”

It did sound that way, certainly. However, unless it’s very unconscious, it hasn’t been the reason for my recent long silences – all that has happened is that a lot of strong shit has been brought into the room, and I’ve been sitting there experiencing it, rather than talking about it. I’ll try and write about these sessions shortly.

“At an unconscious level, maybe a bit,” I ventured, finally. “However, I don’t think that’s really the case. I still expect the next six weeks with Paul to be productive, unlike the last six months with C were.”

To my amazement, she said, “therapy on the NHS can be pretty questionable.”

Obviously I know this, but I did not expect a consultant psychiatrist to say it to a patient’s face. I cocked my head in query at her.

“Well, you know…” she shrugged. “Finances, bureaucracy, targets. Sometimes voluntary and private sector organisations provide a much better service.” She laughed lightly. “You of all people know what we’re like..!”

Still clawing away at myself, I managed to laugh a little myself. Oh yes, NewVCB. I know what you’re like alright. Except that I don’t like including ‘you’ in my general derisive view, because you’re alright. It’s the sprawling mass of red tape and management-speak bollocks that you’re part of that I hate.

She went on to question me on things more generally. Mood? Awful at the time, thanks to the Venlafaxine withdrawal, but overall actually fairly reasonable. Anxious and stressed at times, but not completely pre-occupied with bringing about my own demise nor unable to get out of bed. Trying to live a little, rather than just hanging on to mere survival by a thin thread of second-by-second-ness.

Voices? Nothing much. Whispers occasionally, but no real commands and comparably little hassle. Delusions? It’s not a delusion but GCHQ and related organisations are still reading my blog, Twitter and Facebook messages. Why is it not a delusional? Because I know people who are involved in such agencies and am aware that they do this. But do they actively do it to you? Yes. Well, does it stop you from writing what you want to write? No, I stick to fingers up at their unseen faces and think, ‘if you don’t like it, you can sod off’.

She laughed. “OK. I think that you’re maybe reading a little too much into their motives, if they have any, but it doesn’t seem to be bothering you unduly.”

“Not really.” Pause. “Seroquel really is a wonderful drug, you know.”

“It certainly seems to have worked for you.”

“Paul’s not a believer in the medical model. He thinks mental illnesses are social issues. I don’t agree; medication has been instrumental in making me feel a bit better.”

She shrugged. “Whatever works is what’s important. Medication, therapy, no medication, no therapy, whatever. A combination of both seems to have made a real difference in your case.”

At this point, she turned and looked me straight in the eye. “Compared to the girl I met here last January,” she said, “you’re almost a different person. I know progress is slow, but take it from me – it’s evident. There will be times when things are bad again – it’s the nature of the beast – but overall, I really think you’re moving forward.”

I found myself smiling slightly, and I agreed. “I don’t know whether it’s a combination of the therapy and the drugs, or just the latter,” I told her, “but one way or another, I think things have improved, yes.”

There was little remaining to be said. Yet again, she advised me to go off and dose up on my missed dose. I apologised for “being stupid enough to forget it,” but she said that it happens to everyone from time to time, and that at least it might encourage me not to do it again! As I was walking out the door, she said – surprising me again – “bye, Pandora, it was nice to see you.”

NewVCB has generally been a pleasant and helpful woman to work with, but she’s never before actually given me any compliments, however vague that one may have been. It was a weird but nonetheless appreciated gesture.

Not that my body cared. I stumbled back to where I’d come from to collect my waiting mother, then went into a spin of dizziness and fell out the front door. Fortunately, the rail for wheelchair users prevented me falling flat on the concrete and splitting my face into 22 pieces.

The journey from the hospital to my mother’s house is a short one, but the motion of the car sent my withdrawal symptoms out of control. When we got back to the house I retched several times (being unsuccessful in my attempts to vomit, given that I had a completely empty stomach), then stood at the back door smoking and jumping about in an attempt to curb the physical agitation. Apparently I was also babbling endlessly on about some stupid nonsense with barely a pause for breath; I remember a little of that, but not a lot. My mother, who was going to the doctor’s surgery to have her monthly blood checks, decided that she had better take me with her. Originally she had instructed me to return to bed after seeing NewVCB, but upon seeing me so mental, she decided that it wasn’t a good idea to leave me alone.

I went with her without complaint, but it just got worse and worse. I didn’t go into the surgery, as I feared that if one of the GPs came out and saw me, they’d see how mad I was and try to bin me (realistically, I know now that that was highly unlikely, but it’s still a good thing I didn’t go in as I’m fairly sure I could have upset other patients with my evident insanity. I was even fucking drooling by this stage.). I sat in the car, audibly moaning from time to time, dissociating in some places, being miserable in all.

When my mother returned, she offered to take me home again, but I demurred. I didn’t want to stay out, but I didn’t want to go home either. I didn’t want anything. I didn’t even want the paradisical escape of unconsciousness – just nothing. I know that makes absolutely no sense at all, but there aren’t words to describe what I’m discussing (or if there are, they – like so many wonderful concepts – are foreign terms that are not at all easily translatable to English). I only existed in the moment, and anything beyond it was out of reach.

My mother had to go to the bloody golf club, so I accompanied her. I was scared of running into some of the pretentious fuckwits that permeate the place, thus mortifying my mother, but fortunately she has a tendency to hide in deserted offices when there anyway. I sat. I tilted my head to the left, I tilted it to the right. I stood and paced a bit. I sat again. I stretched. I moaned. I spaced out. I shook. I flushed. I sweated. I froze. I stood. Sat. Moved. Wiggled my fingers and toes, stretched my leg muscles. I banged my head off the wall once in an attempt to stop the ‘zaps’. My mother asked me to desist. I did. I sat. I felt my eyes dart from left to right. Up and down. I scrunched up my face and shook my head speedily. I clawed at myself. I punched my muscles. I bit my lip.

And so on and so on and so on.

However, towards the end of my mother’s tenure behind the golf club computer, it subsided a little. Encouraged, I dared to look at my iPhone; I’ve got quite into geocaching recently (assuming someone’s with me, obviously, as I can still hardly go outside alone) and wondered were there any caches in the near vicinity. As it turned out, there was one right across the road. I said so to my mother, prompting her to ask if I wanted to look for it. Had it not been across the road, given my fucked-up state there was no way I’d have bothered, but I figured since I was already there…

The fresh air seemed to have some positive impact upon my condition – or maybe the medicine was simply starting to makes its mark by that point, who knows. In the end, I was able to have lunch with my mother in the town, although I picked through a lot of it.

The hot/cold flushes remained with me all day. I wrapped myself in a blanket on the sofa, but the next minute I’d throw it off again. Only to pull it back 10 seconds later. The zapping significantly reduced as time went on, but didn’t go away entirely – the same was true of the agitation and akathasia-like restlessness. I didn’t have to get up/sit down every five minutes, but I would have to alternate between lying down and sitting up. Overall, although I felt better than I had, the afternoon and evening were still quite wretched; however, I determined that I would stick things out and go to bed at 11pm, a fairly normal time, rather than oversleep.

I did so, and passed out within minutes – with one of the most peaceful night’s slumber I’ve had in ages (though not before I found a fucking packet of fucking Zopiclone sitting on the fucking bedside table that I had failed to fucking spot the previous fucking evening. In a furious rage at the sod’s law involved I threw them at the wall, but upon getting into bed I was able to roll my eyes a little and see the humourous side of this frustrating turn of events). I suppose I had been awake without a single second’s interruption for about 40 hours, so a good sleep was deserved.

When I woke up today, I was still exhausted – but I felt half-human again. Thank Christ. Of course, being half-human leads to half-human thoughts, or at least the thoughts of a half-human who’s a mental anyway. I mulled over NewVCB’s positive words about my mental health progress, and started panicking that this meant that she was imminently planning to discharge me. Here we go again: rationally, I doubt that this is likely, but since it’s actually physically possible, I am now convinced it’s going to happen.

Rather than sit and obsess about this all day, though, I let my tiredness consume me, and went back to sleep. Having been unable to drive yesterday due to being mad, I finally came back to A’s this evening, where I was distracted firstly by taking him out for a coffee and, secondly, by writing this post.

Both last night and tonight, as soon as my phone alarm went off, I dutifully whipped the pillbox out of my bag and knocked the fucking tablets back right away. I have no intention of letting yesterday’s awfulness happen ever again.

I’m tired again now, and have written over 3,700 words for a post that could have been done in 10% of that. So I shall bid you good evening, lovely people. For those of you that do – keep taking your tablets! x

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Anonymity and the Beginning of the End…Again

I got a laugh this week when someone asked me why I write this blog anonymously. What is it that I’m scared of, they mused? Is it that I want to perpetrate the stigma that permeates mental illness by hiding behind the dark cloak of the internet? In which case, can I even genuine in what I write? (Incidentally, Astrid ((on her blog about multiplicity)) also got the latter question recently because she, as is her absolute entitlement, wishes not to disclose the nature of her trauma).

Well, aside from the fact that the majority of mental health writers of whom I’m aware write anonymously, I personally have given my reasons for same elsewhere.  See here, for example. As noted in that post, I keep the blog anonymous to protect the personnel that are discussed here, not me, and certainly not because I wish to stigmatise any mental illness. In real terms, my anonymity is to protect Paedo, and those whose lives would be ruined if my ‘real’ identity were openly linked to this blog. If it just affected Paedo, it wouldn’t be so bad. Although as you know I don’t wish him particular ill, neither do I wish peace, joy and some sort of permanent contentment upon him either. However, it isn’t just Paedo, is it? It’s my mother, my cousins, their children, a few of my aunts, probably even people I don’t know who are allied with the McFauls in some fashion or another. These people do not deserve the consequences that would befall them if my revelations about Paedo came to be within their knowledge.

As for not believing I’m genuine – ha! Thanks for that, twathead. I may doubt some of my own claims, sure, but if you seriously don’t agree that I have significant amounts of mental health difficulties after reading the millions of words of whining dirge on this blog, then I don’t really think that I’m the deluded one here. Even people with fabulous imaginations cannot properly understand mental illness unless they have lived through it, and I would have thought the vividness of my mentalist experience (and, by extension, my words here on the subject) would have adequately conveyed the honesty lying behind it. But it’s a free country. Think what you like; that’s your right. But I don’t have to justify or prove myself to you (not that you can read this, since I blocked your IP ;)), so you can suck my non-existent dick.

Backtracking a bit, on the point of protecting the family: no, they haven’t done anything to deserve this kind of hurt – but herein lies another point. Neither have I. Yeah, there you go, I said it – I haven’t done anything wrong. (Well, I could start an entire philosophical discussion here on the nature of sin and moral wrongdoing or something, and conclude that of course I’ve done something wrong; I’ve done plenty of things wrong plenty of times, which is simply the nature of being a human being. But I am, as you might imagine, referring specifically to sexual abuse).

I am increasingly starting to believe it. I don’t know that the doubts will ever go away entirely, but I am at least beginning to believe (however temporarily) that I am not responsible for being sexually abused. As for actually believing that I was abused – well, you’d think that believing that I am not responsible for it would mean that I would have to agree that it did, in fact, happen. Not entirely, I’d have to say, despite how self-contradictory that is. However, tai0316, in her blog Living and Dealing with Bipolar Disorder, DID and the Consequences of Childhood Abuse has grasped it well in a recent post: something happened, and even in the unlikely event that the rest didn’t, those things still did, and that deserves my recognition. In my case – and based on my reading of tai’s blog, in her’s too – the evidence clearly points to much more having taken place, and I sort of intellectually know that it’s all true. I don’t fully feel it, but I am starting to, and that’s a good step in the right direction. It’s neither productive nor necessary to keep fighting myself on the point, but it is of course easy to say all that. The main thing is that subtle changes are taking place, as this reversal of fucked-up-ness can only ever be taken in baby steps.

You might therefore say that Paul has been very useful to me over the last six or eight months. I owe this blog two session reviews, those of weeks 19 and 20. As long-term readers will know, when I first approached Nexus in August, I was told that ongoing therapy lasts for 26 weeks.

Without going too deeply into today’s session, as I will do that elsewhere, the issue of the ending of our time together was raised this afternoon. There is good news and bad news. The bad news is that he has no choice but to discharge me after 26 weeks and that there’s no room for manoeuvre on that, though he himself stated that this kind of trauma therapy really requires a minimum of two years of work, and even then with twice-weekly meetings. The fact that I will have to leave in six weeks filled me with a profound sadness – not the soul-destroying abyss of devastation and grief that came with the end of things with C, because my relationship with Paul is so different – but sadness nevertheless, because it’s been such a useful endeavour, and although positive things have been achieved, it is realistically very far from finished.

There is a ray of hope, though. Paul said that when the 26 weeks are up, which would be about the middle of May assuming no holidays or illness or whatever crop up, there is an option. For “a few months” after discharge, I’m fucked. No Paul, no therapy*, meh. However, he said that I can “re-apply” to Nexus after said “few months”; I’d have to go through another assessment, and then wait for a counsellor to become available, but apparently he “would just pick it up again” anyway. So whilst I don’t relish the prospect of having no therapist for a few months, that would still give me another half-year’s therapy with someone I know to be reliable and competent from, say, about July or August of this year.

I am seeing NewVCB again on Wednesday, and intend to advise her of this. She had initially seen Christine, the CPN, as a short-term support, but if Paul is going to be effectively dead for a few months, maybe I could continue seeing her for some sort of support at least until I can re-commence proceedings with him.

I haven’t asked yet, but I do intend to enquire also as to whether or not Paul would be willing to offer me private therapy. He lives a good distance from me, but I can be flexible on times and am willing to pay him a decent rate (I don’t know how, mind you, but I’d find the money somehow. This kind of thing is too important). I don’t think that this is a realistic option, to be honest, but there is no harm in asking him. If he can’t offer this, then I’d ask if he could give me a personal recommendation of another like-minded therapist who would be able to see me on a private basis. This would give me options for when I can no longer see Nexus at all.

* Of course, another issue remains. You haven’t heard me ranting about the Trust for a good while, so let me explain the absence of my hitherto never-ending ranting on them. As you know, I was can’t-get-out-of-bed-can’t-even-fucking-move depressed in January, February and some of March, and during this period was having a fantasy love affair with a canister of helium that almost became a reality. This meant that my crusade against the Trust fell by the wayside considerably. Now that I am a little better, I would like to continue to pursue the complaint – but doing so will force me to read my medical notes in detail, and frankly I’m terrified of doing so. I’m concerned that they have it in their power to set me back considerably, given the propensity of some of the personnel concerned to twist, fabricate and embellish, and I wonder if it is worth endangering my relative mental health for the sake of that. It’s a balance between that and justice, and I haven’t worked out yet which I value more.

Assuming I do read the notes and pursue the complaint, my advocate Derbhla seemed to think that there is a possibility of the NHS re-referring for therapy within their services, so long as I am willing to meet them half-way – half-way, to Derbhla’s mind, being defined by my ability to return to work, rather than being completely mentally healthy (not that the latter is even achievable, as I am constantly mantra-ing on about here).

The problem is, this approach is imperfect. I genuinely still feel that I’m owed it, but that does not mitigate its flaws. One is, simply, that it’s the NHfuckingS, who (with the exception of NewVCB and possibly Christine) have proven themselves to be about as trustworthy as Ted Bundy and the Liberal Democrats. Secondly, any potential therapist within services would be an unknown quantity, because I refuse to see C again. Is that churlish? No, I don’t think so; I don’t like unfamiliarity, but C ruined my life and behaved more erratically and inconsistently during our last months together than a rebellious teenager does for his/her entire adolescence. It would only ignite more bad blood and resentment all round to see him again, so it would need to be someone new. This possibility unsettles me, but not as much as seeing C would.

Thirdly, I already have a therapist I like, trust, and know I can work productively with. Yes, there may have to be a gap in my treatment with him, but I know him, and based on how things have gone so far, I believe that I could make further progress with him. If I fuck about in the middle of that trying and, let’s assume, succeeding to get another NHS therapist, then what becomes of Paul? Do I see him as well as the NHS person (something the psychotherapeutic profession tends to frown upon) or do I delay going back to him on the off-chance that the health service person might not actually be shit?

In short, I have a lot to think about, and I don’t know how I’m going to think about it. My mood is still relatively OK by my own dire standards, but over the last few days I’ve been perpetually tired and listless and thoroughly without motivation. I may be able to remedy that with a bit of decent sleep and time taken to relax, as in the wake of my dose of Venlafaxine having been increased, I was starting to feel slightly more productive. However, as you can appreciate, given the nature of the therapy, and indeed the therapeutic relationship (not to mention my bitterness and anger vis a vis the Trust and certain individuals in its employment), analysing this all these differing, uncertain options could be terribly triggering. Thinking about ‘losing’ Paul has already led to a bit of a slump.

I haven’t really written much here recently. Apart from the psychotherapy reviews, I have very little to say – so what the fuck will become of Confessions if and when therapy ends?! I’ve often shied away from just general moaning here, even though I do it on occasion. For some reason, although this is a personal journal, I keep feeling like I need to say something when I write. Yet I read the blogs of others, and they talk about their thoughts and feelings rather than some pretentious cunt-gazing shite, and their blogs captivate me. So why can’t I allow mine just to follow a similar, much more healthy pattern?

Mind you, isn’t that what this post has been? A simple update about where I may or may not go from here? Let me then continue with the ‘ordinariness’, briefly. Last year I wrote a brief diatribe about Father’s Day (a flick through the archives in looking for that link reminds me of the series I wrote on the local political parties’ manifestos on mental health. There are Assembly and Council elections coming up here in a month, so I suppose if I must attempt ((and fail)) to weave profundity in my blogging, I could look at that again, to see if anything has changed. Of course, having had the politicians involved in my complaint against the Trust, I have some new views to add myself). Any of you that have read my second blog (which is currently sleeping whilst I experiment with it – please don’t threaten me with any lobby groups that are against testing on blogs – it’s necessary sometimes ;)) will also have seen an epic rant against Valentine’s Day too.

My point, of course, is that yesterday was Mother’s Day. I regard the occasion with no less derision than the other two aforementioned Clinton Cards Constructs. However, occasionally it becomes necessary to put your own views to one side and try to honour those of others, so I sent my mother a nice bunch of tulips and a box of chocolates:

 

Tulips

She rang yesterday morning at 11am, but I couldn’t answer the phone at the time for a variety of reasons. I assumed that she was calling just to thank me (which would be in her nature), so figured it was not searingly urgent for me to return her call.

To that end, she herself rang back a few hours later, sounding irritable. Her PC is fucked, she reported. She wanted to discuss the issue with A; although he is knowledgeable and qualified on computing issues, he is not being a computer-mind-reader and was thus unable to make a diagnosis of the thing’s illness over the twatting phone. Mum then asked to speak to me again, and when I confirmed that I would see her tomorrow, she thanked me and rang off. She didn’t not mention the flowers at any point.

It is possible that the delivery company fucked my order up and didn’t deliver the damn things, which if the case will result in irate correspondence from me demanding my £40 back, along with some form of compensation. However, if they did arrive and my mother simply didn’t mention them, then I have to admit I’ll be quite hurt. I know that flowers are an easy way out of more original gifts, but (a) my mother loves them for some reason and (b) that I got her anything for a commercial festival in which I don’t believe surely shows that for once I was trying to put her first?

Meh. I’ll find out tomorrow, I suppose, when I take her out in lieu of not having done so yesterday.

Operation Fag-Death has failed, as I strongly suspected it would. When I got back from Paul’s this afternoon, I was so sad about things coming to an end with him that I desperately wanted to smoke. I didn’t, as it happens, at that point – but when A got home and was understanding about it, I sort of said, “fuck it,” and went out the back and lit up. bourach commented on the last post that she didn’t/doesn’t want to give up, and I think that this has been very much my problem this time around. In 2007, I really did want to give up; I was going to do so, and that was that. This time, as the previous post testifies, I was much more ambivalent, and without that rugged determination, I did seriously doubt my ability to stop indulging myself with the fucking things. I am very unhappy to have been proven to be correct in this belief.

It’s the wrong time to do it in many ways; I’ve been thinking for a few weeks now about the end of therapy, and although things are substantially better than they were, I’m not stable like I was four years ago. I can’t afford to smoke, but my mental health (or, rather, sort-of-lack of it) controls everything at the minute (and please don’t comment with some bollocks about my having the power to ‘change’ or ‘improve my quality of life’ or ‘empower myself with positive emotions’. It won’t work and will merely serve to irritate, and I’m Not Very Nice when I’m irritated. OK? OK. Good). I’m its slave – I accept that. When I know what how I plan to play the therapy card, and when I feel like my distinctly relative stability isn’t just a very short-term thing, I will try again. And I will succeed.

Anyway, pointless post over. I hope you’re all keeping well and as ‘happy’ as this sorry plane of existence allows. Take care, lovely people. <3 xxx

Smoking (and its Possible Relation to Mentalness)

I quit smoking, after about a decade of engaging in it, on 1 January 2007. The smoking ban was coming in here in April that year, and I thought that would give me plenty of time to adjust to being a non-smoker before everyone was (in my view justifiably) forced outside to practice their lung-destroying habit.

It was a success. What worked for me really well was being absolutely decisive and certain that I simply would not smoke after that New Year’s Eve, to the point where I didn’t need any of the traditional aids that are recommended. I had bought some of that nicotine chewing gum, but (a) it was absolutely bloody rancid and (b) I was surprised to find that I almost never craved a cigarette at all. That led me to the conclusion that, in my case at least, smoking was more of a habit than an addiction.

I had had a smoking routine prior to quitting, that depended on whether I was at work or not. If the former, I got up, checked my email with tea and a fag, went to the bus-stop, smoked a fag there, got the bus, went to the coffee shop and smoked a fag there, went to work, went out for a smoke break with the others at 11am, went back to the office, went out for lunch smoking between one and three cigarettes, went back to work, smoked on the way back to the bus-stop, went home, had dinner, smoked a fag, went on computer, smoked a fag, had a cup of tea, smoked a fag. If I was not at work, I got up and sat at the computer for hours, with smoke after smoke on the go. Etc etc etc.

Yet, if I came to stay with A (I lived at Mum’s at the time), I would go for days without even thinking of the things. Mum and I even went to America for a fortnight once, and as we were staying with Aunt of Evil, we didn’t smoke the whole time…well, until we got back to the airport to go home anyway, at which juncture it all started again.

So yeah, it seemed like a habit, and a potentially controllable one at that and furthermore, one that I got very easily out of by determination alone.

Until late last year.

I don’t remember how I got back into smoking precisely. I could sit here and whine that therapy (and, in particular, the end of therapy with C) was difficult, and whilst that’s true, I don’t think it serves as an adequate excuse for lighting up again. I did it because…well, I don’t know why entirely. I think I just felt like it. Which is indubitably bad.

It’s funny; when I quit in 2007, I didn’t notice all those supposed health benefits people wank on about, such as being fitter and whatnot – but now that I’m back on the heinous things, I notice losing fitness. I have regained a smoker’s cough and am not particularly good with hills (which had been something that had been improving since I’ve lost some weight).

The weird thing about my recent re-foray into smoking is that there’s no pattern to it in the rote fashion that there was before. Some days I might smoke a lot, others I may only have one (or even none at all). This may sound more encouraging than sitting here chaining all day, but I don’t think is. I think I’ve developed a sense of complacency that I’d much rather I didn’t have; the unconscious thought process seems to be, “bah, sure you don’t smoke much anyway – why bother quitting again?” I don’t rationally think that, of course, but there’s something blasé at the back of my mind. When I was a frequent and/or heavy smoker, no such pseudo-ambivalence existed.

Of course, I have no money. In fact, I have less than no money – so the finances from the bastarding things come mainly from my ever-expanding overdraft. This, more than the health thing, is my main impetus to stop again – I mean, it’s through no fault of mine that I’m disabled from working at present, but I still think it’s a travesty that public money is going on this grotesque pursuit.

So, in light of this and related concerns, I had determined that I would quit again on 4 April – ie. Monday coming. Rather than celebrate this in the way I had when I had planned on giving up fags before, I’ve been sort of nervous about it. I know that the claim that smoking relieves stress has physiologically been proven to be false, but I think that in certain circles it is accepted that people psychologically gain relief from it, in much the same way that one might do with a placebo drug. And I have been under some stress recently – not much by comparison to times in the past perhaps, but not insignificantly nevertheless. Poor A has been under immense pressure at work lately, and it’s hard not to worry about him. Psychotherapy, whilst productive at present, is fucking hard work. I’ve also been completely obsessed that my mother is about to die, and have now got it into my head that the McFauls will find out the truth (not that they would believe it as the truth, of course), and that Paedo’s life will be ruined. I mean, as stated a million times, if the McFauls never speak to me again, that may be very vaguely unfortunate for me personally, but I’d get over it. I’m not their biggest fans, after all, even if one or two of them are OK. However, I don’t particularly wish to tar him with the brush of paedophilia this late in his life. I don’t like him, but I don’t wish him ill either.

So, I’m led to wonder – is this odd sort of “oh well” about quitting smoking related to my tendency to panic about not very much? When I quit in 2007, life was pretty reasonable. I had just recovered from a major breakdown (not at all as major as this one, but the most significant one to that point) – so much so that I was going back to work. Things were fairly good, insofar as existence can ever be said to be good. Now – life is not abjectly, unspeakably awful in the way it was a few weeks ago, and my mood feels stable-ish – but “what ifs” and a sort of low-level agitation can be quite independent of mood, I’ve found. I’m still on edge a lot, and up to my usual old tricks of perpetual catastrophising.

I went to see Mum, newly tanned from a holiday, yesterday – and was quasi-horrified to find that, instead of buying me some sort of tourist tat as she normally would have done (she and I tend to exchange crappy fridge magnets from our respective foreign trips), she’d brought me a big packet of cigarettes. Enough to do me for the next month, or maybe even more.

My pointless little story gets particularly pathetic here. I don’t want to not smoke them, because that would apparently be insulting to her given that she put the money, time and effort into buying me the bloody things. Rationally, I know that’s preposterous – she’d rather see the fuckers binned and her money lost than me not give up as intended (though apparently my intended date has skipped her memory, but she’s nearly 70 now so we can forgive her that). But I have this nonsense in my head now. It reminds me of certain circumstances that commenced way back before I started this blog: I’d randomly feel sorry for Any Old Thing, and then want not to “reject” it. In this case, it feels like I am vicariously rejecting my mother if I reject her present, which was purchased with every goodwill.

I am glad to be an idiosyncratic person in general, but I often wish I wasn’t in this sort of domain. What possible reason do I have for this stupid sort of – as bourach once put a similar phenomenon – dilemminating? In this specific instance, it’s particularly counter-productive and idiotic.

So will I actually stop smoking on Monday as intended? I hope so, but I’m really angry with myself that my intentions feel so vague, so wholly different from last time. It’s a disgusting, filthy habit – and as discussed in the comments of a recent post I wrote, it’s ultimately a more destructive method of self-harm than that which we traditionally associate with such actions. I am ashamed of it, more so than many things that are generally much less socially accepted. I keep worrying about Paul smelling smoke from me – yet I am quite happy to call myself a dirty whore and talk intimately about sexual issues to him.

I did get a “help with quitting” kit this time, and will indeed purchase additional aids as required (pricey, but cheaper to me and the British taxpayer in the long-run). I just can’t guarantee it’ll be this week, as planned. And now that I’ve admitted that, of course I feel like the big fat failure of fuckery that I am.

On an unrelated note, there’s very little to report. Monday’s therapy session was not one of those conversational ones that for some reason some of you seem to find enlightening; it was very introspective, but there’s probably something good in that. I’ll write about it in a day or two. Mood-wise, things are alright-ish – in fact A and I have have just been crying with laughter at this…

:D

…but still, as observed above, a bit of anxiety and worry. Part of me is vaguely concerned that my increased dosage of Venlafaxine might be inducing a mild mixed state, but on the other hand, there’s lots of exhaustion – ah, insomnia, how I hast not missed thou. Boring all round, really. Part of me almost regrets getting so up to speed on all those weeks of therapy reviews, because now I only have one thing to write about. So I thought I’d do one of those weird speculative filler posts, ie. this one, that I sometimes write when I have nothing to say ;)

The Sad Story – Paul: Week 18

Beware. There is a lot of ranting in this post. My ire is mainly the rage I usually harbour on the relevant matters, but the particularly belligerent style of some of the following is also partly attributable to the fact that I’m listening to Metallica as I write this.

So, if you’re averse to cursing or aggressive outbursts, then you’d better fuck off now.

Triggers: domestic violence, sexual abuse (including the idea of a resulting pregnancy), self-harm, suicide (vaguely), religion (loosely and rantishly, sorry), parental violence, general un-karmic unfairness.

I felt that Monday’s session was extremely productive, if extraordinarily difficult in retrospect. After the usual initial ‘what do I say now’ questions, I found myself on a sort of discursive roll, and talked openly and honestly for quite a while. When he inevitably had to end the session, I was frustrated rather than my usual relieved.

The truth is that very little of the more meaningful work centred around sexual abuse. I spent the vast majority of the useful part of the session discussing my parents, their relationship, and my relationship with them. A lot of the stuff discussed has already been covered elsewhere on this blog already, so forgive me for any repetitiveness.

I’ll warn you again of triggers – revisiting this material as I have been writing it up caused me to end up in tears. Perhaps it’s not particularly triggering to outsiders – I think my upset comes from my closeness to it – but consider yourselves cautioned nevertheless. [LATER: I've just tried to proof-read this post, and I can't help but feel that I've been overly histrionic in my trigger warnings, expressions of harrowment (yes, it is a word) and various breakdowns in the course of this post. The material certainly isn't all fluffy and dainty, but still - if I've been OTT I'm sorry. I feel like a bit of a twat, but the stuff herein is both close and important to me.]

The session opened with a rant about how shit NHS mental health services are. What a surprise! The short version of this conversation is that Paul thinks I’ve been treated like utter shite by them. Yeah – tell me something I don’t know, mate.

The conversation arose due to my telling him that I was meeting my new CPN the following day (and shitting myself regarding same) and further, that NewVCB had requested a surprise encounter on Wednesday. Paul asked why I felt they were “upping the ante” (have we heard that phrase anywhere recently, readers?) by suddenly throwing all this extra ‘care’ at me.

I proffered the opinion that they were running scared, as when I’d last seen NewVCB, I was on the verge of exit-bagging myself to death. (I later retracted this criticism a little. I am a cynic, pessimist and misanthrope by nature, and until I have definite proof that people aren’t out to get me, I both choose to believe and innately feel that they are. In reality, NewVCB is not a bad person to have as a consultant ((despite her (((inherited))) nickname on this blog)), and I don’t necessarily believe that she is acting to cover her, or indeed the Trust’s, arse).

I told Paul about how his ‘upping the ante’ phrase reminded me of that two-faced whore from last January. I also added that she had apparently told C that she had “no concerns about my mental health” (I still can’t get over that one – how offensive and disgustingly inaccurate!).

Paul said, “it’s like they only care if you die. They don’t care how much you suffer, as long as you’re still alive and they don’t have to justify themselves to anyone.”

Nails on heads there, Paul. I couldn’t agree more. I mean, I think NewVCB does (and perhaps Christine will) give a flying shite about my actual welfare as opposed to my mere continued existence, but as a bureaucratic entity, I distinctly feel that the NHS does not – and as long-term readers will know, that is hardly a new opinion. (Though having said that, the deeper I go into mental health services, the more I see how much my care lacked over the past 13/14 years. I touched on that a little on Wednesday, and may elaborate in a future post).

I assume that my continued rage is palpable from the tone of this narrative. It certainly was to Paul, though I tried my best to remain measured. The reality was I wanted to kick the living shit out of the poor, innocent shelf on my left, imagining it was Mr Director-Person‘s smug, elfish face. I wanted to take the phone on said shelf and use it to smash his management-wrinkled cheeks into smithereens.

This inevitably led to a conversation on transference. I would make clear at this point, again, that Paul agrees that the Trust have treated me like some turd they stood in, and believes my anger towards them to be fair and absolutely just. Yet he also has a theory about the sheer strength of it. Essentially, he wonders if I unconsciously see the Trust in loco parentis – is my hateful anger displaced towards them instead of being focused on my parents?

Of late, I have become completely obsessed with the idea that my mother is going to die. Well, of course she’s going to die – aren’t we all? But you know what I mean; I’m terrified she’s going to drop dead in the next few years, which is something with which I do not think I could cope. I’m both advantaged and disadvantaged by the fact that my parents were in their 40s when I was born – on the one hand, I had a mother that had lived already (insofar as my father allowed, at least), with all the knowledge and education that that brings. On the other, of course, that means that I’m statistically more likely than my peers to lose her when I’m fairly young. As you know, my father has already snuffed it, not that I care about him.

Anyway, when Paul asked me about my apparent anger towards the two of them, I told him that I was not allowed to criticise my mother for the above reason. Furthermore, she is on holiday this week. If I am in any way critical of her before her flight on Saturday, then the plane will crash and I will have killed her through my horrible words.

He raised his eyebrow incredulously and said, “you’re very bloody powerful.”

I laughed bitterly. “You should have seen me last week,” I sneered. “I was responsible for Colonel Gadafi’s evil and have caused a potential mass genocide in Libya.”

I watched his face carefully. He may claim he’s not an intellectual, but when he furrows his brow in a certain way, you know he’s processing, analysing, computing. Had his skull been transparent, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a full system of cogs turning in there. Cogs that say things like ‘magical thinking’, ‘delusions’ or ‘psychosis’.

Of course, Paul does not like “labels” (I word I still abhor in this context), so rather than merely accuse me of any of these things, he was evidently trying to work out why Colonel Gadafi is my fault (perhaps I was his mother in a past life? Who knows). However, he surprised me when he didn’t quiz me on that particular supposition.

Instead, he said, “in that great psychological tradition, tell me about your mother.”

Ah, I see. He thinks Gadafi is a deflection. It probably was, to be fair.

“How do you feel about your mother right now?” he continued.

“I feel sorry for her,” I told him.

“Why?”

“Because my father was such an epic wanker. She deserved better from him…and probably from me too.”

Talk about opening the fucking floodgates.

“She deserved better than me because I was very difficult for her to deal with as a teenager,” I went on. “In my defence, I was clinically ill – but how does a person with no frame of reference [I'm an only child] distinguish severe depression from ‘mere’ teenage angst?”

Paul asked for more detail. That detail is something I’ve shirked from on this blog, because I can’t bear thinking about those horrible days. I hated my first five years at grammar school; they remain, quite steadfastly, the most dark and bleak of my life (even though these last three have sort of been more mental, if you get the distinction). Just thinking about my complete desolation back then can bring a tear to my eye.

How is this linked to my Mum? Well, as noted, not only did I hate school, but I was utterly crippled by major depressive illness. These issues conspired together and rendered me completely incapable of even getting out of bed for virtually weeks on end. There were times I didn’t even rise to take a piss, which I know is repulsive, but there you have it. It was that bad. Mum, in part acting on manipulative information fed to her by my Head of Year (a grotesque, vile little man), assumed that my behaviour was standard jadedness and sloth.

This resulted in Some Bad Stuff. Only she, I (having been there) and A (as I told him) know of this, but here goes. In order, I assume, to ruse me out of my pit of despair, she used to beat the living shite out of me. I have very distinct memories of lying, staring at my purple bedroom wall, my back to her, as she brought her clenched fists down – on my arms, abdomen, legs. Even my head and face at times. She would do this in blind fits of seeing-red-rage, meaning, of course, that the fist/me impact was all the greater. One side of my body would end up being as purple from bruising as the wall that I non-reactively fixated my eyes upon.

“Of course,” I said to Paul, “it’s not her fault; not really. She didn’t know what was normal teen moodiness, and what was serious, raw suffering.”

He pursed his lips slightly and asked if my teenage self had realised that.

To be honest, my teenage self hadn’t realised anything much. A lot of the time I didn’t even feel the agony with which I should have been faced after such violence. Depression was all I was. It was all I felt, physically, psychologically, every -ally. I didn’t register anything else for the majority of the time.

“Where was your father when all this was happening?” he queried, carefully.

Cue another scornful laugh. “You tell me,” I said, my bitter spite hardly curbed.

But I thought for a minute. Where was my father? Yeah, probably drunk in a ditch after trying to rape some woman then beating her up because she fought him – but, on a wider level, where was he? He died in 2007 (I think), which would have made me 23 or 24. So we would have been talking about nine or 10 years previously.

That’s where he was, I thought, having one of those rare ‘aha’ moments of existence. He was in a nursing home.

I’m sure I’ve alluded to this before, but for the initiated or those that don’t have photographic memories, V (father) developed MS, and was placed in a home as the illness progressed. I have always resented this with more bitterness than I can describe, even with all the pejorative words and expletives of the English language at my grand disposal.

Aside from raping and beating my mother, cuckolding her, trying to kill her, throwing her out windows etc, he also completely fucked her financially. He took every spare penny she had, and spent it on alcohol. When she divorced him – which was done to protect me, the final straw for same being after he (accidentally, but drunkenly) dropped my few-weeks-old self onto the hearth one day – she even agreed to his demands to pay the remainder of the mortgage, just so as she could get rid of him.

Then. Then! He gets his nice benefits, and they pay for him to have a nice room in a nice home with nice staff treating him to nice things, like nice papers in the morning and nice trips to the football in the afterfuckingnoon. I’m sorry (especially to Christian readers), but there can be no God in this despicable universe. If there was, how would – how could – He allow such outrageously unjust acts to permeate this gruesome species that He created? How in anyone’s estimation can that be considered a reasonable way to conduct the universe You own? (And please, please, no ‘God works in mysterious ways’ shit. I know most of you would never condescend me in that fashion, but avoidance of doubt is always a good thing).

I remembered Georgie and Merv, the fucking cunts, who went to see V when he was in this home. I remembered whatever their son and his bitch are called doing the same, and said bitch feeling sorry for the nasty cunting fucker. For those that don’t know the fucked-up dynamics of my family, Georgie is my mother’s sister, and is married to Merv, my father’s brother. Nice bit of pseudo-incest going on there, oh yes.

My mother’s sister. MY MOTHER’S FUCKING SISTER. She spent 20 years idly listening to tales of my mother’s horrible life from the other side of the Atlantic, and then – then – just because that FAT FUCK became ill, he is somehow worthy of her flying eight hours to come and fucking see him?! FUCKING CUNTWHOREBITCH. I hate her. I fucking despise the fucking nasty, hypocritical, self-righteous CUNT. (Much as I love it, sometimes I wish I didn’t use the word cunt with such frequency, because it loses its impact in this circumstance. But rest assured, dearest readers, I despise her with a passion almost unrivalled. HATE HATE HATE).

Then they took all the money when V died, despite the rightful entitlement to same lying with my mother, after the financial rape he inflicted upon her. But this has never been about money; just indescribable injustice.

Something randomly occurred to me at this point in the session. I met Paul, and indeed first went to Nexus, last August. A good half-year since I changed my name.

“Are you aware that [Pandora Serial-Insomniac] is not my born name?” I asked Paul. “I wasn’t born with this surname. I changed it to dissociate myself from V and his family.”

“No, I didn’t know that,” he returned thoughtfully. “Did it work?”

“I feel better for having done it,” I nodded. And I do.

[An aside - he got the reference vis a vis my new name. I am most impressed ;)]

So, my anger towards V was abundantly clear by this point. My earlier sweet, sweet fantasy of battering Mr D-P’s face in with a phone was superseded by an uncomfortable but viscerally murderous rage towards my father and his pack of cunts. That was not enough to satisfy Paul, however.

“Where’s the anger at your mother in all this?” he asked again, looking over his glasses intently at me.

Part of me wanted to say there that wasn’t – there isn’t – any. Whatever she, in her at-the-time ignorance, did to me as an adolescent, pales into abject insignificance when compared to what he did to her (and by extension to me). She didn’t do any of it because she’s evil, or because she hated me or something. She did it borne out of frustration and ignorance. She is better informed now.

But that denial wouldn’t be entirely true, would it? Any of you that have read the archives here or follow me on Twitter will have seen me rant about her with not-inconsiderable frequency. I know, I know – all daughters find themselves irritated at their mothers from time to time. Often, though, minor instances of irritation between us blow up into screeching, blazing rows (again, I know that happens to the rest of the world on occasion, but it seems to be frequent within our relationship). Having learnt the dynamics, I sometimes have to try really hard to bite my tongue rather than express even the most basic opinion to my mother. It may well be the same from her angle – I have no idea.

I relayed the information to Paul. “And when I rant about her online, then either she’s nice to me, or I catch a glimpse of her wedding photo, and I burst into tears of both guilt over my actions and of sorrow for the shit life she’s been given.”

The wedding photo one is the worst. She was only 21, and she was educated, attractive, personable and smart. Life, and the future it brought, should have been so encouraging and bright for her. Instead there was nothing but pain and bitter anguish throughout. She deserved better than that.

“You said your father raped your mother,” Paul said, interrupting my introspective musing. “Did you ever witness one of those incidents?”

I’m amazed that I was able to answer this. How can I speak to a virtual stranger about something I’ve never spoken to anyone else about before? (Well, technically I spoke to one person before him, which I shall explain forthwith).

I’ve had a picture of one particular evening in my mind for virtually all my life. V had left our home at the time, but it was before I was at school (I think), so I must have been three or four. I got out of bed for some reason – possibly simply because I knew V was still there, or maybe because I heard something – and, apparently surreptitiously, made my way downstairs. When I opened the door into what was then the living room, I was confronted with a…scene.

My mother turned her head in horror and ordered me back upstairs. My father just sort of…I don’t know…hung (?) there, trying to avoid my gaze. I retreated, though, as I was told.

The next day, when V had fucked off again, I confronted my mother about what I had seen.

She looked confused (which I’m fairly certain was an act, given the context, but what do I know) and said, “but your Dad wasn’t even here after you went to bed last night. You must have been dreaming.” [LOL, Mum. Yeah. Pre-school children really dream about their parents fucking].

“I wasn’t dreaming,” I protested assuredly.

“Now, now, Pandora, you must have been,” she replied nonchalantly. “He wasn’t here! Now then, let’s do…[end of conversation].”

I never raised it with her (or anyone else, obviously) again, though I’ve thought about it often enough. There are a number of possible explanations for it:

  1. I did witness them engaged in sex, but it was consensual.
  2. I did witness them engaged in sex, but it was rape (more likely, given their estrangement).
  3. I genuinely was dreaming.
  4. It is a phantom memory.

(4) has been the one I’ve always tried to convince myself of, because I remember so clearly that I was absolutely adamant (to myself as well as Mum) that I wasn’t dreaming. As noted, what small kid dreams of such things anyway? If it is real, then I hope (1) is the applicable explanation…but my mother has always been governed by morals when it comes to sex. I really can’t see her willingly engaging in so-called ‘ex-sex’ in any circumstance.

It does get worse. Sorry. My mother has advised me that raped her a lot, inflicted physical violence on her on an almost daily basis, he threw her out a window “a couple” of times, and he tried to kill her on several occasions. Smothering, strangling, crushing – asphyxia mostly, but there were other methods too. However, the worst comes in the untold stories. She has admitted all this indescribably terrible stuff to me – but, she also tells me, there is a fuck of a lot more that she will “take to her grave and never share with anyone.”

How can it get any worse? Seriously? How unimaginable must the rest be, given how really-quite-a-bit-unimaginable the stuff I do know is?!

They had been married, if you can call such a violent sham a ‘marriage’, 20 years when I was born. I presume that violence of every conceivable manner was the staple of my mother’s existence at the time. There’s no evidence that I have ever been party to, and no reason to presume that any even exists, to suggest that they had any good times together by that point. Well – ostensibly they occasionally did; they wore their dainty little masks of smug-married-ness to the golf club and so on, even though the vast majority of those they knew were aware of the reality – but in real terms, no. She stuck with him because, she claims, she had “meant her marriage vows”. He stuck with her, I’d surmise, because she brought in most of the household income, and was an easy scapegoat for his repugnant aggression.

I’m rambling now, but there is a point to this. By the early ’80s, after 20 years of this, there can’t have been much love between them. So…how did I come into the world?

My mother has denied that I am a product of rape. I have confronted her on the issue twice, and though I’d like the truth, I’ll forgive her for lying to me on this occasion. One characteristic I inherited from my father (not a particularly appealing one, but then what genes from him would be?) was the ability to lie to someone with great skill. My mother, coming from a differing bloodline (though with the Georgie/Merv thing, one could be forgiven for getting confused on that!), has not got that particular attribute.

Is the line the lady doth protest too much from Hamlet? I think so. Clearly my mother hadn’t read the play on the occasions on which I asked her about my conception. If it wasn’t so tragic it would actually be funny – here’s an example of what she gushed on one occasion:

Of course you were not conceived by a rape! Not at all, no! No, it was lovely [incidentally, I don't want to think about the mechanics of it either way, but meh]. I knew right away that I was pregnant [yes, of course you did, Mum - reproduction is instant after all ***cough***], and I was so happy, it was the one such incident at the time where we were actually really happy together!

Even assuming that were true (it’s not utterly impossible, but it does seem unlikely), how can she be so sure which incident resulted in her pregnancy? If he was sexually assaulting her as frequently as he was inflicting grievous bodily harm on her person, then she could have had virtually no way of determining that.

After I’d finally concluded my verbal narrative on this issue to Paul, he said, “you were born out of a toxic, horrible place…and all too soon you were forced back [by Paedo] to a toxic horrible place.”

“The thing is,” I said flatly, “I connect all the dots. Once again, I’m the common denominator in all of this. It’s about me, something I’ve somehow brought about, not others. It’s all my fault.”

[When I first re-read my notes on this session, I completely collapsed at this point with a raw, profound, overwhelming sadness, the like of which I have not experienced in years - perhaps since my grandfather died].

Paul said, “you take on the burden of being the ‘common denominator’ too easily. The common denominator is not you – it’s an abusive family.”

Actually, it isn’t – my father and Paedo are completely unrelated, other than by their respective marriages. Nevertheless, writing this, I find myself struck dumb by Paul’s statement. I detest V with every fibre of my being, and I know this is an irrational thing to say, but I’ve never seen my family in this way. They just are. They might be freaks, they might be dull, they might irritate the living fuck out of me – but abusive? They’re not abusive! And yet – two of them are. Two of them were. V and Paedo. Paedo and V.

Abusive. It’s a strong word.

I conceded that my family were/are “not the bastions of moral upstanding” (typical Pandorian deflective-response there) and added that if all of them – Mum most assuredly excepted, though – sunk into the Irish Sea tomorrow, I wouldn’t bat an eyelid nor shed a tear. Perhaps that’s not entirely true, but it’s a reasonable reflection of my ambivalence.

And then…

“We’re going to have to finish there,” he said, apologetically. Actually, I think he was almost embarrassed. For my part, I was profoundly frustrated. I’d got into a sort of rhythm where all this stuff just seemed to roll off my tongue without any real cerebral planning, and now it was being cruelly broken.

I tried to play it down, but my annoyance was pretty obvious. It wasn’t directed at Paul in the least, but at the whole arbitrary 50-minute-hour bullshit. Therapy is such a weird construct.

He asked how the session had been for me.

I said that I was bad.

“Why?!” Paul queried, apparently genuinely confused. “I actually thought we just did some really good work.”

Thank fuck for that, then. “Actually, me too,” I admitted. “I’m just aware that I’m here to discuss one type of traumatic incident with you, and here I am blathering about my parents. I can’t help but think it’s still very relevant, though.”

He nodded. “It’s all inter-connected, all part of the system that you’re now dealing with. Inevitably this informed your childhood a lot, so it’s definitely relevant. And going over gory details of your abuse every week isn’t necessarily therapeutic.”

So. That was Monday’s meeting. Now, this is the weird thing. Apart from the two instances of anger I described in the foregoing prose, I sat there and spoke quite matter-of-factly as I detailed all the sordid, horrible truths to Paul. I left the building and went to the shop as I often do, returning to house to start writing Monday’s post. I went to see Christine on Tuesday and the only thing that concerned me at the time was my unfamiliarity with her.

On Tuesday night, I read the notes I’d taken pertaining to this session, and at the ‘common denominator’ point, a mental paradigm shift starting slapping me around the face. I broke down and wept…proper wailing, sobbing, snot, the horrible works. I wept for my mother, and her undeservedly horrible, shit life. And I wept for myself. And as I’ve typed this up, I’ve broken down several times. In fact, in the nearly two years I’ve been blogging here, this has been the most harrowing post I’ve ever written. Harrowing. Another big word. But the only one that fits.

When A inevitably noticed my upset on Tuesday and asked what was wrong, I said, “it’s just such a sad story.”

“What is?” he asked gently.

“My life!” I sobbed. “No child should ever have to go through any of that!”

What’s that you say, lovely reader? Compassion? Moreover…a little self-compassion? Acceptance? Grief?

I don’t know. I really don’t. I do know, though, that I don’t think I have any meaningful secrets left to tell you. All of this material was the last major batch of Stuff You Didn’t Yet Know About Pandora. So there you go, readers. You know, to all intents and purposes, everything about me. Everything about my life.

My life, the sad story.

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Baby Cuts – Paul: Weeks 16 and 17

Mwhahahaha! I am finally getting up to date with the backlog of this shit. I am so awesome and stuff (hello, strongly narcissistic traits, how are you today then?). The post on my most recent session with Paul will be published tomorrow, so for now here are the two that preceded it.

***Trigger Warnings – Child Sex Abuse, Self-Harm and Suicide.

Some of this is quite graphic, so tread carefully.***

Week 16

After a slow start, this meeting actually developed into quite a productive one.

We opened the session by discussing the depression that had so strongly preceded the meeting, my intention to commit suicide, and NewVCB’s plans to get me extra support in the form of a CPN (who as you probably know I’ve now seen).

The suicide conversation was quite interesting, because it focused on my rational mind versus my instincts. I told Paul that it is my honestly held belief that if a person has exhausted every reasonable method of treatment available to them, but are still seriously mentally ill, then they should have the option to end their life should they so wish. I ranted briefly about the hypocrisy of the laws on suicide and mental illness in this country (and, I’m sure, others). The act of self-deletion was legalised in the UK in the 1960s, yet if a police officer or mental health professional has a genuinely held belief that you are going to top yourself, then they can virtually imprison you. Which is it, cunts? Is suicide legal, or is it not?!

I admitted to hypocrisy, though. Some of you will have been at the receiving end of this, and I apologise for any wrongdoing in which I might have engaged, but when I encounter someone saying that they’re going to kill themselves, then the rationality flies out of the window and I start desperately trying to help them, in whatever pathetic way I can find. It probably annoys people more than it assists, but I can’t seem to help myself. Sorry.

However, Paul actually welcomed this reaction. He says that my instinctive, nurturing side is quite right to push my rational side out of the equation and fight for people’s lives. It proves that I care about them, apparently. Of course I fucking care for them – but isn’t that the point? Isn’t it selfish for me to wish a continued existence of misery on people about whom I give a damn?

Anyway, we talked around this for a while, the discussion never receiving a proper resolution. A few other issues came up that are of little consequence. The lack of forward-movement was beginning to grate on me – for which I blamed myself – and, indeed, before long Paul opined that it was “hard to reach” me.

So I made an effort, and said that for a while I had been really starting to believe myself about my abusive history.

“For a while?” he queried.

I explained that my recent depressive episode had robbed me of my confidence in my claims, and he surprised me by nodding. He thinks that returning to claims of False Memory Syndrome or Münchhausen or whatever is something I do when I get close to the raw pain of everything, which could be seen in being so viscerally and deeply despairing. He actually went so far as to accuse NewVCB of “colluding” with me by increasing my “happy pills”, causing me to lose a certain amount of visceral feeling.

This irritated me a little, and I found myself defending her. She has always said that she wants me to be in a mental position to face the truth, but I cannot do that if I can’t get fucking out of bed in the morning, can I? Therefore, she tries to find some moderate sense of stability for me through medication, so that I can actually do this profoundly difficult work.

Paul passed over this a bit, and asked me what I now (as in, in this session) believed. My response was that intellectually, all the evidence points to the abuse – but, yet again, I found it extremely difficult to “feel connected” to it.

There was a bit of pointless discussion that I can’t entirely remember, but eventually he said that he felt we were going round in circles. Out of proper context, that sounds like he was being rude, but it wasn’t like that. When I started slagging myself off for not progressing the meeting, he responded by saying that it may have nothing to do with me: he might just be a crap therapist.

“You wouldn’t be in this job if you were a crap therapist,” I told him.

He scoffed at this. “How many crap mental health professionals have you met in your time?” he asked drolly.

Good point, well made. Paul 1 – 0 Pandora.

Blah blah blah. Sorry this is so disjointed, but that was pretty much the nature of the session to this point, this point being the one where my older self-harm habits came up for some reason. I told him about how I’d write things like ‘hate’, ‘bitch’ and ‘slut’ across my abdomen. Incidentally, when I was examining my scars the other day, I was interested to note that (one of ?) the ‘slut’ one(s) is still quite evident if you look closely.

Paul said, “as far as I know you are not a slut, certainly in my understanding of the definition. So whose words are these?”

“My adult self is not a slut,” I clarified. “My child self was.”

“How could your child self have possibly been a slut?” he asked, witheringly.

“What the fuck would you call someone that bangs five people in one day?” I shot back in defiance.

“You didn’t ‘bang’ five people in one day!”

“I did. I told you about it.”

“You told me about how you were gang raped.”

Quit it with the fucking semantics, Paul. It’s the same fucking thing.

He went on to say that my insistence that I am slut is a projection of what Paedo wanted me to feel. It was, to Paul, how he justified his actions: it doesn’t matter what I do to that brat, she’s just a little slut anyway.

“Why do you co-operate with that thinking?” Paul asked me.

I shrugged. “It’s been engendered in me for 20 years. What else can I do?”

I thought about myself as a wee girl for a bit. My usual revulsion predictably arose, and I cast the images out of my head. He asked me what was going on, and I said that if I were to feel any compassion or pity for my younger self, then I had to substitute my face with that of someone else.

But something struck me then.

My mother was burgled recently, and she had a lot of expensive and sentimental jewellery stolen. For the insurance claim, she had dug out masses of old photographs showing her wearing these items. In one of them, she was holding a young baby.

“Who’s that?” I’d asked her, pointing towards the infant.

She’d laughed at my question. “Who do you think it is?” she said. “It’s you, of course!”

So, here I was in this therapy session, seeing this little tiny, helpless thing, and all I could think about was what awful things awaited it. It was going to grow up to be horribly abused and end up hating itself for it all. This saddened me deeply, and it must have been evident to Paul. He proclaimed my reaction to the baby to be “very real.”

“I have another client, who’s mother is a very evil, sadistic woman,” he told me. “When my client’s wife gave birth to their daughter recently, the mother came round to see her. He’d left the baby with her for a few minutes, and when he returned, the mother was shouting at the baby, calling it a ‘whore’, calling it ‘evil’, calling it all these hideous names. Isn’t that obscene?”

I was surprised by just how disgusted I was by this tale, and told him so.

“So you as a baby – you accept that you’re innocent?” he checked.

“Yes. Like your client’s baby. Not evil, not a whore.”

“OK, so…”

“I know what you’re going to say, Paul,” I sighed. “Yes, the baby was innocent. No, the child wasn’t.”

“How?” he challenged.

“Babies are completely defenceless. As a child, I wasn’t. I was reasonably strong for my age, and in any case, I was meant to be bright. There were a number of defensive options at my disposal that I failed to utilise.”

He sighed. “It’s a common belief,” he admitted. “But it’s completely unrealistic.”

I sat in silence.

“Did you know what it was, the first time?” he asked, fairly abruptly.

“I had an idea,” I began cautiously. Then the usual nonsense of stammering, stuttering and general inability to speak kicked in. For the sake of prosaic flow, I am not going to exemplify that here.

“I had an idea that adults had sex. I think I even had some rudimentary knowledge that in the right circumstances this led to pregnancy,” I told him.

“Is that realistic?” Paul asked. “At five?”

It wasn’t a case of it being realistic, in my mind. It just was. I said so to him, pointing out that just because I had this vague awareness did not mean that I was cognisant of any of the specific mechanics of sexual acts. I hadn’t been.

“How did you feel that first time, then?” he pressed.

I recalled a sense of wrongness – despite not really knowing what was happening – and abject confusion. I told him that I could not begin to describe the pain – the shocking, searing pain – and that I hadn’t even been fully aware that what was done could be done. I hadn’t known I had an orifice there, so thought he had somehow stabbed me. He was on top of me, and on top of this immeasurable pain there, I felt crushed by his body and couldn’t breathe. And then, when it was over, just as relief was starting to kick in, horror and panic duly followed when I saw blood everywhere. Blood mixed with something else.

I stopped at this point. “I keep thinking about the baby,” I confessed. “I keep thinking that this, this is what happened to that poor tiny baby. It’s appalling.” He quietly agreed, then gestured for me to continue.

Panic. I was panicking about the blood, assuming that I would bleed to death (though, I mused, that might have been welcome as an escape from the still-searing pain). Paul wanted to know why I didn’t go straight into the house (this was in one of the out-buildings) and tell someone that I was hurt and bleeding.

“[Paedo] didn’t tell me not to, I’m fairly sure,” I said. “He just told me to get dressed and said he’d wait outside. Then we went back to the house together. He must have gone back to the shed later to clean up the mess.”

“What happened when you got back to the house?”

“Have you ever read the novel A Clockwork Orange?” I asked him. A curious question, you might think, but there was to be method in this madness.

“Yes,” he responded (puzzled). It’s a bloody good thing he did respond in the affirmative, because I send poxes to people that haven’t read this masterwork of wonder.

“OK, it was like that. Not in terms of the plot, nor the characters – but the title. I was this organic thing [the orange] behaving in this rote, by-the-book [clockwork] fashion. I went in, I sat down, I said the right things, I behaved the right way.”

A memory struck me. I have a recollection of being in their (old) bathroom clearing up the mess between my legs. Fast forward five or 10 years, when I had gone through puberty, and such instances were commonplace thanks to menstruation. But there is something horribly stark and gruesome about a five year old having to do that. I am struck by the sheer nastiness of the image as I type.

Paul was still trying to ascertain why I hadn’t spoken of the ordeal. I hypothesised that it was not because Paedo told me to keep my mouth shut, for I genuinely have no recollection of that being the case. Instead I suggested that it was simply due to the massive taboo (whether it’s societal or just familial I’m not sure) about acknowledging anything to do with one’s genitals.

“I was ashamed,” I told him.

Paul believes that Paedo projected his shame onto me, which is entirely possible. He thinks that, somehow, he made me feel like I had encouraged it, or wanted it, or otherwise seduced him into doing it. He still seems to be convinced that there’s something that I’m not remembering – language used, looks shot, whatever.

There is no familiarity there for me at all, but I do entertain it as a possibility.

Anyhow, at this point he started to draw things to a close. “How do you feel concentrating so directly on this?” he queried.

“It’s like I’m back there,” I said, and this was true. However, it wasn’t in a sort of flashback sense; it felt safer than that, which I suppose is the point of covering such material in the therapeutic context. “It’s almost…well, it’s probably a good thing to get out of my system,” I concluded.

“I felt for a while like I had [Aurora] with me,” Paul said. “Some of that discussion was very powerful. And it all started with that one incident. It was then that everything changed, and as such it’s crucially important that we explore it perhaps even more. But for the meantime, I’ll let you go.” He smiled reassuringly.

It is hateful, but he does put me at my ease. Well, mostly :)

Week 17

Coming in the wake of my stabbing myself, a lot of this session focused on self-harm. I don’t really want to repeat what I wrote in that post, but since a lot of the conversation on the subject fed into other relevant areas, I may cover a little old ground. Apologies if so.

Basically, I went in, sat down and rather cheerfully greeted Paul, before rather blithely stating that I had stabbed myself at the weekend. He asked for a lot of specific details about the nature of the injury – how deep, what I got out of it, yadda blah etc. Of course, I was firmly in There is Nothing Wrong with Self-Harm so Please Just Get Over It, Thanks mode, but as ever he sought to challenge my apparently self-vituperative views.

He agreed with me (although he said he had no direct personal experience, only vicarious encounters through other clients) that self-harm works. It works as an anxiety-reliever, it works as a distraction from other painful shit, it works even as a form of entertainment. It made a refreshing change from C’s constant, “yeah but, yeah but” routine.

Not that there wasn’t a ‘but’, that said. Paul’s ‘but’ was that it works – but only if you don’t give a fuck about the body you are harming. I shrugged at this. That sounded about right to me.

“So, you’re admitting that you don’t matter?” he checked.

“I suppose so,” I agreed.

“Right. That makes sense, because when you were being abused, you didn’t matter, did you? There was blood, there was pain – at times you even thought you would choke to death. I think, judging by what you’ve told me, that that was part of his fun. All child abuse is inherently sadistic, of course, but in your case, that element seemed very strong for him.”

The stammering started as soon as I sought to reply to him. Unable to speak, I let Paul continued.

“I know you’ve said that [Paedo] was not very intellectually smart [that's the understatement of the eon, Paul], but in a way he was a very clever man. He was able to disguise what he was doing for years, and further he never completely disabled you, hence he never arose suspicion.

“What do you think you’re doing here with the self-harm? You cover it up [true, in the main, though I had arm scars on show in this session - I don't mind Paul seeing them], you’re careful that it’s never serious enough to require intervention [mainly true, last January excepted, though on that occasion I chose to go to hospital]. So basically what I’m saying is, you’re continuing what he did to you. Sticking a scalpel blade as far into yourself as you can? Watching the blood coming out of the wound? There’s a certain amount of sexual imagery in that, isn’t there?”

Well, I suppose if you’re the author of Mills and Boon: Emos in Love there is, yes. His direct comparison actually amused me slightly; I take on board all the psychological writings out there, and indeed Paul’s own admission that nothing is reasonless. I do get that, and I do not think that it’s without merit. But if I had a criticism of Paul – and this has come up once or twice both in conversation with A and in comments on this journal – it would be that he takes the inter-connectedness and imagery of everything very seriously, whereas I (admittedly a layperson) am a good bit more liberal in my thinking on many relevant issues.

Anyhow, he asked if my self-harm sojourns had been ongoing for a long time, and I told him that I go for months without even thinking about it, but then cycle into little ‘pockets’ where I’m regularly engaging in it.

Up came the inevitable, “so why now?” question.

I said that the cuts on my arms had been inflicted in the wake of the fuckery from the SSA/Jobs and Benefits people back in January, but that the stabbing was “because I was bored.”

He did not accept that. “Everything happens for a reason,” he added. (Deja vu, anyone?).

“OK, I’m sure there’s a pile of unconscious shite going on that may be spurring me into it, I don’t know,” I offered. There was a brief, inconsequential discussion around this point.

Eventually, he said, “have you ever tried different coping mechanisms?”

I laughed bitterly. “When I was in NHS therapy with [C], he tried to get me to try dialectical behavioural techniques. I gave them a chance, I really did. But seriously – fuck me! Ping an elastic band on your arm? Pour nail polish over yourself?* Fuck off! Is DBT not the shittest indictment on humanity in the history of our sorry little race?”

“Not the shittest,” he replied playfully. “That’s CBT!”

I laughed until I thought I would cry. This is where I’m quite happy to put up with all his Freudian-it-is-all-related stuff, because this kind of comment, as you know darling readers, is exactly on my level. Needless to say, I agreed with the sentiment. There was a bit of a chat about how behavioural therapies, whatever their actual intentions, rarely cut through the shit and uncover the source of mental illness. All they do is treat symptoms and, potentially, mask pain.*

Anyway, Paul opined that my cutting wasn’t necessarily about pain, but about the (medical) trauma of the wound. This seemed to me to be a fair distinction to make, even if it’s subtle. I admitted that I didn’t actually mind having scars, and he noted that he felt complimented that I was comfortable enough in his company to have bared my stricken arms to him. It was a reasonable thing to say, as obviously I don’t go about showing them to everyone. That would be seriously fucked up.

In short, he believes – whether I consciously agree or not – that the injuries are as simple as they seem. They are outer manifestations of much more serious internal, unseen wounds. “No one sees those,” he said. “But they’re every bit as vivid.”

He said that he couldn’t get his head round the sheer invisibility of my pain as a child, so couldn’t imagine just how serious it had been for me. For some reason, this comment caused an intense loneliness to rise up in me. I tried to tell him so, but the words stuck in my throat.

“You always choke when we get close to this material,” he observed, rather obviously. “I mean this in the most metaphorical of senses, but does it – in some way – feel like I’m raping you again?”

The comparison seemed extreme, but I saw his point. I said that it was very obvious when I thought back on therapy sessions that it was only when we came to “the nitty-gritty” that my difficulty in speaking arose (incidentally, Christine noticed this about me on Tuesday too. She claims that it’s pretty common).

“I make you go through all this horrible stuff again,” Paul said sympathetically. “That can’t be fun.”

“No, but I’ve always accepted that you have to go through the most difficult stuff to get through it on the other side. I accept that a certain amount of re-traumatisation is necessary in this process.”

“You found last week [above] very painful when we got into the dark stuff.”

“Of course.”

“Do you think that could have triggered your stabbing?”

I thought about it. It didn’t seem to have done, but I accepted that it could have been an unconscious possibility.

There was a lull, then he said, “this is going to sound horribly crude, but I think you appreciate directness [correct]. It’s almost like there are two forms of ejaculation when it comes to sexual abuse. One – the actual, physical one. It’s like a toxic poison being placed in your body. Two, there’s the toxic poison of the resulting internal scars.”

The word ‘internal’, although he was using it metaphorically, reminded me of a related, more literal comment left on Confessions a few weeks back. Therein, commentator Gaby wondered had I ever had a gynaecological examination and if so, if internal scarring had been observed. As I noted in my reply to the comment, I have never had reason to see a gynaecologist, so I have no idea if I’m thus afflicted.

Paul asked if it would be in some way validating if I were. I reckoned not, but did muse as to whether my self-harm is in some way beneficial in that regard; if it is, then perhaps the same would be true of internal scarring too.

“The problem is that even if it was somehow useful to have the information, I could never go through with a gynaecological examination,” I sighed. “It’d be like being sexually assaulted all over again, even though I know otherwise rationally.”

“I know this is a difficult question, but what do you suppose such scarring would look like?” he asked.

I supposed that given the circumstances there was bound to have been fissures and rips. I imagine that some remnants of that must remain.

In my reply to Gaby, I had referenced an incident where a query was raised. I said at the time I wasn’t going to discuss it, but I brought it up with Paul at this point, so here goes. When I went to Maisie and Paedo’s house as a child, it was commonplace for my mother or Sarah to bathe Suzanne and I together (she is only a year younger than me). This mortifies me now, but I am led to understand that children bathing together is fairly commonplace.

Anyway, one such day my mother must have caught a glimpse of something; she said to me, (and I’m paraphrasing here) “can I see your genitals, Pan? I’m a bit unsure about their development…”

Instinctively, I took a step back. “No,” I stammered, desperately searching for an excuse to avoid examination.

Ah! The obvious, Pandora. Use the shared bath to make your point!

“Everything is the same as Suzanne’s!” I declared triumphantly. Of course, sharing a bath does not mean that I had any idea about the accuracy of this claim. Suzanne’s private parts are not of great interest to me.

“Are you sure?” my mother asked, her eyes narrowing in query.

“Of course,” I replied nonchalantly, drying myself with the towel dismissively. I was desperately relieved when she left it at that.

I cannot believed I have just detailed that story in public.

“You were terrified of being found out,” Paul said.

I expressed a bit of retrospective surprise about how horrified I had been at my mother’s raising of this issue. As an infant, she’d changed my nappies. It wasn’t like there was something new to her there, and we only attach meaning to these things as we gain life experience (ie. I couldn’t have supposed genitalia were somehow a private matter without life and/or society and/or people telling me so).

“It’s simple, I think,” Paul said. “You didn’t want her to see what a ‘bad girl’ you’d been. And you wanted to pretend you were like every other girl.”

For some reason, that comment floored me, and I fell silent.

He left me to it for a minute or two, then asked what would have happened if Mum had been allowed to examine me, and had uncovered evidence.

I said that she would have put two and two together and got 700. No one, least of all her, would ever believe that it was him. Someone at school, maybe, or a friend’s father – almost anyone but the actual perpetrator. I monologued for a bit on how revered Paedo is in the family circle, largely because he puts up the pointless waste of space that is his wife (who is, in fairness, a massive ((literally and metaphorically)) pain in the arse).

“So you’d be a life-ruiner and a liar on top of everything else,” Paul said. “You’re mother wouldn’t have assuaged your anxieties, but exacerbated them.

“And he’s still untouchable,” he continued. “And he is responsible for every one of those scars on you.”

I was, yet again, silent for ages. Then I started hitting myself about the head. When he asked why, I said that I hated silences in therapy. I said that I hated to waste time.

“You think you’re not giving me what I want, more like,” he offered. Ah, transference. It is is everything to Paul sometimes. It might seem odd, but I think I’m inclined to agree.

“I have never, and I will never, ask(ed) you to stop cutting,” he said, changing the subject. “I’m meant to, but I won’t – I don’t want to take away your coping mechanism if you need it. But I do think it’d be really nice if he could stop controlling you, stop persecuting you. It’d be really nice if somehow you could stop being a victim.”

Pause.

“‘Victim’,” I repeated, wistfully.

“It’s a vile word,” he replied. “What word would you prefer?”

“Not ‘survivor’. I hate that too. Why can’t I just be a person?”

“Just Pandora?”

“Yes.”

“I agree with you 100%. But you can’t just be Pan until you’re no longer helpless. It’s not your fault you’re helpless, and it isn’t a criticism. But you can take this step, even if it’s only a little one. Even if it only postpones the cutting, or even if it only stops one episode, it’s a positive thing. But I don’t want to remove it as an option if you ultimately really need it.”

“Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘the stick in the cupboard is the biggest stick of all’?” I asked him. Funny the things you remember from school sometimes. He responded in the affirmative.

“So, if I know I can do it – that can be as or even more reassuring than actually doing it per se. It’s the same with my stash of Diazepam. So…I’ll put the scalpel in a storage box.”

“I’m not forcing you to, just to reiterate.”

“Yes. I know.”

“Perhaps we can try to think of alternatives, and I’m not talking about some nonsense with elastic bands. Have you any thoughts?”

“A hammer?!” I joked. Paul threw back his head and laughed – he has previously opined that I have used humour as a defence mechanism, so I was surprised and glad that he took the quip in the spirit in which it was intended.

Basically, I’m not confident about other means of coping/distraction/whatever you want to call self-harm. But I’ll give what he’s suggested a go. I like his halfway-house approach; he’s not condemning and banning the actions left, right and centre like most mental health professionals do, but neither does he like the idea that I don’t give enough of a fuck about myself to stick a scalpel in my stomach. So, meeting him in the middle seems like a reasonable thing for me to attempt.

* Yes, I know this is a very simplistic analysis of both DBT and CBT. Please do not assume that because it is crude that I do not have a greater understanding that discussed. I do. I still don’t like either of them. That’s that, the end. Thanks.

So. The end. More tomorrow, and then I will be fully caught up with all of my therapy sessions to date.

Good night, muckers!

Insert Witty Title Here – CPN and NewVCB Appointments

I was writing this as a combined post of this week’s entire set of mental appointments – ie. these two and Paul – but the Paul stuff has completely taken on a mind of its own and needs to be separated from these, which are broadly factual, rather than introspective and ‘deep’. I’m feeling very belligerent tonight, and that shows in the following, and in the stuff on Paul (which I intend to publish on Friday, after the intervening two sessions tomorrow). So beware of ranting, bitchiness, cursing, nostalgia – but there’s a little hope thrown in there somewhere, too.

I’m not going to proof-read this yet either – I need to keep my flow up with the Paul stuff – so apologies if it’s complete and utter wank fodder.

This is still quite long, so here – have some clicky links :)

The CPN / NewVCB / A Random Encounter of Which I Epically Failed to Make Use in Which You Are Probably Not Interested

TUESDAY – First Meeting With Christine, My Newly Allocated CPN

The short assessment of this is that she’s actually quite likeable. I’m not really go greatly into the details of the appointment – not because it wasn’t useful necessarily, but it would simply be pretty repetitive. The meeting seemed mainly for her to get a grip on me, and take a proper, verbal history, as opposed to relying on the (fabricated) notes that are in the (fabricated) file.

She is short, fat (she makes me look slim, and that’s quite good going) and has spikey red hair. My guess is that she’s well into her 40s. She has a local working class accent, and ergo does not exhibit the middle-classness of the other members of the CMHT that I’ve met. I liked this; it made her seem more down to Earth. She called me ‘love’ a few times, which normally irritates me – but in this case, she wasn’t doing it in a patronising fashion. It just seems to be part of her demeanour.

She was rather surprised that given my history of command hallucinations etc that I’ve never been hospitalised. I was surprised that she was surprised. I said that no one within services had ever taken enough notice of me to feel hospital was a necessity, or even vaguely desirable. She had the grace to blush slightly.

Another point of interest was when she said, “…and how are things when you aren’t suicidal?”

I sat back in my chair in confused aghast. “Sorry?!”

“You do have times when you’re not suicidal?” she checked, raising an eyebrow.

“I have times when my finger isn’t hovering over a ‘buy’ button for a helium canister,” I said. “But there’s no such thing as ‘not suicidal’, is there? I mean – everybody wishes they were dead, don’t they? They just don’t don’t have the bollocks to go through with it.”

“No,” she said, firmly. “The vast majority of people do not want to die.”

I’ve read such contentions once or twice, but apart from A once saying so (and my assuming he was saying it to disabuse me of the idea of suicide), I’ve never heard it verbally. This is truly an absolute revelation to me. People actually, actively want to live?!!! Seriously????????? Why?

Anyhow, eventually she filled out a risk assessment form. This is another thing that’s entirely new to me. Christine said, “we have to do this as you know,” then upon seeing my confusion, she added, “you have had one of these done before, right?”

“No,” I said. “Never.”

I’m not saying being asked if you’re going to go out and knife the living fuck out of some poor stranger is fun. It’s not. But if these things are so fucking standard, why haven’t I experience them before?

I blame C. I absolutely, completely blame C. I’ll write another post explaining this in more detail some time. For now, let’s just say that my perennial suppositions that he didn’t take me seriously seem to have been proven. I noted with passing interest that a number of his files were to be seen in the filing cabinet in the room. As I idly eyed the documents, I wanted to take my lighter to them and watch them burn to ash. Fucking cunt of cuntishnessfuckerywankshafthatefulness. But anyway…

Christine quizzed me on suicide, and it was instantly evident to her that if I was going to do it, that I would succeed. They find that terribly frightening. Hahaha! They think people will say, “oooh, look at me and my overdose!” and that they can breathe collective sighs of relief as it’s unlikely to be seriously dangerous, so when she asked me if I had any ideation about taking ODs, I laughed right into her face. She didn’t need to ask me why, but I nevertheless said that I would only even consider taking a suicidal overdose if I could acquire the complicated ingredients that are fundamentally necessary to be peacefully fatal. Since I can’t – legally or otherwise – I’m sticking with my party box.

That said, I’m not actively planning anything, and may not do so for some time. Possibly ever, but I don’t believe that. Whatever the case, in short: I’m still not sure exactly what I’ll be doing with Christine, nor how long I’ll be seeing her for. But based on Tuesday’s meeting, I do think that maybe – just maybe – she can be useful to me.

WEDNESDAY – NewVCB

The appointment went pretty well, despite my being irrationally terrified. I’ve known NewVCB for over a year now, and she’s generally been quite supportive of me, but for whatever bizarre reason, I have developed a terror of psychiatry.

She was very nice to me today. She’s usually pleasant enough, but occasionally lacks sincerity in my estimation. On this occasion, I found her to be thoroughly genuine – this is a breath of fresh air in mental health services (particularly in psychiatry), as I’m sure so many of you can appreciate.

I could go into a lot of detail about the appointment – wank on about the dialogue, the subtlety of the non-verbal communication – but I don’t see the point. The essence of it was this: I told her about how I became hugely upset last night, in relation to the Paul session that I was originally writing here, and she opined that therefore my therapy with him must be going well as that demonstrates that I’m starting to experience “emotions” in an “appropriate, constructive way.” She asked if I agreed.

I told her that crying was a sign of weakness and that I thought my behaviour had been pathetic. I said that I was meant to be an aloof, calculated, analytic droid.

She asked me to look at it from her perspective, and I was forced to admit that of course, rationally, it is progress. That objective knowledge doesn’t stop me from fully believing at an I Feel It Like This level that crying and emotions are a pile of fuck. She laughed and said that she didn’t expect me to change my view quickly, but that the fact that I could even look at it logically without flying into a self-flagellatory rage was encouraging. Broadly speaking, I agree with this. Sympathetically, she said, in what I think was an attempt to reassure me, “crying is not a sign of weakness.” Hmm.

We discussed Venlafaxine, as you might imagine. I suggested that maybe I had been too quick to condemn the drug the last time I’d seen her, and said that I understood from some sources that it came into its own at higher doses. NewVCB agreed, stating that its operation on norepinephrine was more pronounced from about 300mg.

I essentially asked her would she increase it again. Things are much better since I’ve been taking 300mg, but I think they could be better again. When I was at sixth form school and on a laughably high dose of Fluoxetine, I functioned fairly well. To that end, I am quite happy to take a laughably high dose of something else if it can assist me in re-achieving such a state. I’m aware that Venlafaxine is a nastier drug than Fluoxetine, of course, but if it works at higher doses – well, then it does. I’m prepared to accept the (numerous) negatives that go with it.

She said that I would need to have an ECG, for which she would refer me; apparently it’s worth having whilst I’m taking the 300mg dose anyway. All being well with that, she agreed to raise my dose of the horrid-but-seemingly-useful stuff to 375mg next time I saw her. “That’s as far as I’ll go, though,” she added.

Hmm. That’s potentially unfortunate, but I do understand the medical rationale for it.

We had a brief conversation about Nexus. Obviously, I’m now into week 18 with Paul, and judging by the discussion I had with the secretary when I first approached the organisation, that only leaves a matter of weeks left. NewVCB seemed unaware of the time limitations. I was interested to note how she phrased the relevant question:

Are they going to give you a more appropriate timeframe than we [scrunches her face in dismissal at her use of the word 'we'] gave you here? [Dismissive hand gesture in C's general direction].

I told her how long was left, and said that whilst it concerned me, I felt that if anyone was likely not to play by a silly rulebook, it would be Paul. I hope that assessment turns out to be the case. This kind of complexity cannot be solved in 26 weeks.

As I wrote the other day, an appointment letter for NewVCB had arrived stating that she wanted to see me on 6 April. I asked her, given that this (ie. Wednesday’s) appointment had been organised as well, if she wanted to keep the later one. She said that she did, because she still wanted to keep an eye on me. It might have been nice if she’d seen me within the fortnight she originally proposed, but I’ll forgive her. Just this once ;)

As I was leaving she said that she knew things weren’t ‘good’, but that there was clearly a change in my demeanour since last month. And I think there is. It’s weird, and I don’t trust it. Epically severe depression is seemingly my default setting. I’m not not depressed, of course. But I am a little better. Is the simply the drugs, or is it them plus therapy? Or just the latter? I don’t know. Either way, I cautiously welcome it, but again, I don’t trust it. I’ve had stable-ish periods before, and they always fall flat around me eventually. So I will leave presumption on the issue for another time.

An Odd Encounter

Something really interesting happened when I was waiting for Christine yesterday. I mean, it won’t sound interesting to you probably, but it was for me. As I walked into the CMHT building/Old Bin, I caught the eye of someone in the waiting room, and did a fucking double-take. It was the mother of my long-lost friend, Louise, that I discussed here. As I noted in the post, she had been diagnosed with schizophrenia when I last heard of her.

We (A and I) reported to reception, then proceeded to the waiting room ourselves. I walked past Louise’s mother (Brenda), terrified to speak to her. I saw out of the corner of my eye that she looked up at me, but I withheld my own gaze and sat down as far away as possible, my mind racing.

For the sake of context, my address is at Point A, my alma matter about six miles west at Point B, and Louise’s last known address about six miles further west from that. I tried to figure out why her mother was there, then, at my CMHT. It’s nowhere near their house.

Of course, in supposing that she could not attend the same place that I do, I made (given my experience) the fundamentally stupid error of assuming that this fuckhole country has adequate mental health services. Louise’s house would be equilaterally between this CMHT and the next one in the Trust. Ergo, her possibly attending my local bastardhole is an entirely feasible eventuality.

I stared at the floor until a blonde woman poked her head round the door. Brenda got up to talk to her, and I leaned forward to gawk. I was hoping that Louise may emerge from an appointment or something. If she had been there, I would have spoken to her. Of course, I thought, it was entirely feasible that Brenda was there for her own reasons. Caring for a schizophrenic daughter is bound to present its own set of mental challenges.

However, the blonde woman sort of touched her sympathetically on the arms, uttered a few hushed words to her, and led her further into the building. A few minutes later, Brenda left alone.

It is daft of me to speculate, but still – I am supposing Louise went mental, and Brenda had to take her to the CMHT…and leave her there (for assessment and possible admission – there is no psychiatric ward at this hospital, but of course they have contacts with others). Brenda and the blonde woman seemed to be on familiar terms, so I’d guess it’s unlikely that this was the first visit.

Fuck my social anxiety. I so wish I’d just spoken to Brenda. What was she going to do, fucking punch me? I still think about my old friend a lot, and have tried desperately on many occasions to find her on Facebook or at her old email address, or whatever. I had the most obvious fucking opportunity in creation to re-establish contact the other day, and I blew it. I mean, even if Louise was completely psychotic, her mother knew me, and could have passed on a message when she was a bit better. Stupid, stupid fucking cow!

I even considered asking NewVCB about it today. Obviously she would not be allowed to tell me anything, but I considered telling her what I’d seen, and asking her if Louise was somehow under there care, could she pass on my email address (without her confirming or denying Louise’s presence or otherwise within the system). But, nice as NewVCB is, I thought it was most likely a futile request, so I kept my mouth shut.

Alas.

Equality and The 'Opposite' of Narcissism – Paul: Week 15

This week is going to be the fullest mentalist-related week I’ve had since September 2009. Today, I saw Paul (week 18). Tomorrow, I will meet my newly allocated CPN Christine for the first time. On Wednesday, apparently, I have to see NewVCB. I should have booked Lovely GP in on Thursday to complete the fucking set.

Someone called my mobile at 10am today. I ignored it, as I always do, especially given that it was from an ‘unknown’ number. I waited for the caller to leave a voice message, but same was not forthcoming. When they (for I presumed it to be the same person) rang again about 11.30am, I once again ignored it. This time, however, a message was left.

It was a secretary from the CMHT. She didn’t say what she wanted – only that she would like me to call her back. Thinking the CPN was off with ebola or something, I was happy to do so for once in my sorry life. I think that, in theory, Christine ought to be useful, but I’m still terrified of meeting her.

Anyhow, no such luck. The call had nothing to do with Christine; it was a request for me to come and see NewVCB on Wednesday morning.

This is annoying in a couple of ways. Firstly, there’s enough professional madness this week to do me for about seven years, especially when coupled with the stress of someone new in the equation. Secondly, though, I am irritated by NewVCB’s general behaviour. When I last saw her, she wanted to see me again in a fortnight (which, given the circumstances of the time, seemed reasonable). Then I received the usual shite letter telling me my next appointment with her was on 6 April – about a month after our previous meeting. That was unacceptable, but nonetheless, I let it pass.

Now this. It’s as if she thinks she can just summon me whenever she gets a cancellation, or she remembers that I exist (fortunately for her, of course, though perhaps less fortunately for me, I do exist. If I had done myself in after her failure to see me as agreed, then she might have found herself in a spot of bother).

Anyway. I’ll live, more’s the pity (actually, I’m in a fair frame of mind at the minute, but you know what I mean). A’s boss, Trevor, has very kindly allowed him time off to come to the CPN meeting with me tomorrow, as I’m terrified of going alone to engage with this new, unfamiliar quantity of humanity. Ordinarily, I’d have taken my mother, but she’s fucked herself off on a continental golfing holiday until Saturday. Fortunately for me, Trevor has a son who is mental, so he understands the difficult position that A is in.

This post was not, however, intended to be a general rant/update. It was intended to be about Paul. I shall try to get to the point.

My intention is to employ (relative) brevity in this post. Bear in mind that brevity, for me, is 3,000 sodding words per therapy session. So if it seems long, then let’s just hope that it’s not really ;)

This session was characterised quite frequently by silence. I found this to be an unproductive use of both my time and Paul’s, and by the end of the session was apologising for it. To quote him, though, I was forcibly silent as a child, so apparently this is permissible. In any case, there was still a lot of relevant interaction.

Themes:

  • I told him about how unbearably, inexorably depressed I was, and had been. This session was in the wake of all that fuck with the Jobs and Benefits bellends, and shortly prior to my proposed dalliance with a helium canister.
  • I also told him briefly about my medical notes, and about how I allegedly have “very strong narcissistic traits”. Paul said that he felt that I was the opposite of a narcissist, an analysis with which I didn’t agree. I said that I was self-obsessed and fantastical, and that I basically told (Old)VCB that I had NPD. He responded by saying that she must simply have taken my word for it, because there is – in his mind – no evidence for it at all.
  • Apparently he is scared of personality disorder diagnoses, as they create pigeonholes for that which should be seen as perfectly normal in the context of historic abuse. I don’t entirely agree with this position, but I do think there is a certain merit in what he says. I admitted to being very frustrated to not have any official, written acknowledgement of a PTSD diagnosis,especially when BPD was splattered all over my fucking file. Once again, I found myself reminded of Seaneen‘s fitting comments: to paraphrase, the ‘good’ abuse survivor gets PTSD, the ‘bad’ gets BPD. I admitted to Paul that I felt like some mere ‘case’ or ‘number’ within NHS services, whereas I felt like a person with him at Nexus. He seemed pleased, and said that he enjoyed spending time with me. I don’t understand that particular plane of reality, but there you have it.
  • His view, predictably, is that there isn’t something wrong with me; I have very extreme coping and defence mechanisms as a result of very extreme experiences. He pointed out that people with NPD need to be worshipped all the time, whereas I actively and instinctively cower away at the first hint of a compliment. Paul said that Paedo made me ‘horrible’ and ‘evil’ (in my mind), and that was clearly not what narcissists think of themselves, at least at a conscious level. I accused myself of “inverted narcissism”; yes, I was (am) highly self-critical, but I don’t have any altruism in me at all. I’m selfish and, further, self-obsessed, even if I’m not desirous of being put on someone’s misguided pedestal. He said that that isn’t true: my perceptions of myself in this light are clouded by the toxicity that Paedo has planted in my head.
  • He asked why he had never seen my psychotic symptoms in session. I kept my gob shut for ages on that one, as I had loads of psychodynamic explanations therefore, but knew I’d be asked to stop turning the therapy into an academic debate if I voiced them. Eventually, I muttered something about it being “some sort of weird transferential shit,” a description that seemed to amuse him substantially. I continued by saying that I didn’t want to be seen as psychotic, but that in my very saying so I felt tremendously guilty, because no one should be ashamed of having a mental illness. “I want to be seen to be in control,” I concluded.
  • Paul said that my hallucinations are ‘contained’ (a word I loathe) in therapy, and that “the weird transferential shit” was indeed responsible for that. My transference towards him reflects my past needs, which is then of course met with his counter-transference. He postulated the position that I needed someone to essentially be nice to me, which he then did (‘nice’ being my word here, which grates on me, as it’s so fucking trite and inadequate. Nonetheless, I cannot think of something more descriptive and/or appropriate for that which I am trying to convey). My unconscious fear, therefore, would be that ‘They‘ wing themselves out of my mind and into my vocal chords, insulting and hating Paul, at which point he will no longer be nice to be. Of course, in reality Paul would have a fucking field day with ‘They’, and there is no danger of him abandoning or discharging me if they happen to show up. But that, I am told, is an adult reading of the situation. The child part of myself merely sees herself as being constantly rejected, and cannot fathom that she is safe from that happening again.
  • Somehow the meeting turned to a question of who I am really am. He said that I was certainly intelligent and analytical, characteristics that I seek to amplify, but that he felt that somewhere there was more to it. I responded by saying that anything other than intelligence and analysis was profoundly weak and of course he jumped on this straightaway; I do not (usually) cry or openly show fear, anger, etc etc because my abused child self realised very quickly that (a) it achieved the sum total of fuck all, and (b) that it was easier to just quietly ride out the storm of rape and degradation without complaint.
  • This led to a rudimentary analysis of my first (known) experience of penetrative rape, in which I was “instantly changed forever,” apparently. Paul alluded to the fact that my behaviour in its immediate aftermath – even something as simple as walking – should have been noted to have been strange by my care-givers, and that it wasn’t. I protested that this was not my mother’s fault, for it seemed to be primarily her he was on about (my father was probably drunk in some ditch somewhere, so he wasn’t exactly much use). Again, Paul told me that this was my adult head talking. The abused child just wanted her mother to comfort and protect her, he claimed.
  • I conceded the point, but then added that no one tells you when you’re a little kid that adults aren’t meant to have sex with you. You’re generally not meant to understand anything about sex (although I did have some vague knowledge of it), so you aren’t ever going to be party to that information. To that end, you don’t know that the paedophile’s behaviour is in any way wrong, and the whole situation becomes normalised.
  • I said that I couldn’t connect to the sadness that I should feel. Paul contends that this is because it would threaten to overwhelm me completely. On the occasions on which I begin to get close to it, I withdraw into my own world – I dissociate, I hallucinate and I self-harm, because anything is better than the enormity of the feeling.
  • He asked me how I felt our work was progressing, and I responded by saying that overall, I thought things were going well, but that I wished I could speed up myself up in terms of ‘feeling’. I talk much more openly to Paul about my abusive history than I ever did with C (though if I had not done what I did do with C, maybe I would not have been able to get to this point), but I still dance around things an awful lot. He knows this, of course. He said that he found working with me “challenging” because of my innate abilities to deflect any potentially threatening material, but added that he “enjoyed a challenge”. He wonders if I unconsciously protect him in some way (as I did with C in the early days of our relationship), and I think there is some truth to this hypothesis. Everything I can say to him will be something he’s heard before but perhaps he hasn’t heard it from such an evil bitch? Will my disgusting, fetid nature poison his mind? If so, he must be shielded from it. Yadda yadda. He said that whatever the case, he genuinely enjoyed my company.

Someone commented on the blog a few weeks ago that Paul’s willingness to compliment me at times was vaguely disturbing to her (amongst other things). Given his broadly dynamic/analytical standpoint, I can certainly see the rationale for holding that view. However, any time he does this, it is not done in an inappropriate or intense sort of fashion at all. I think the thing I didn’t realise about therapy until recently is that some therapists are just like some other people and that they’re not extraordinary, all-powerful alchemists or something – they’re actually just ordinary, and they’re just nice. They’re friendly. They put personality and client welfare before supposed best practice, at least within certain appropriate relationships. Such is the case with Paul.

It is such a different experience from the one I had with C. Through no fault of C’s particularly, things with him were inherently asymmetrical, and I sometimes wonder if it was that that allowed the breeding of my complete and probably desperately unhealthy obsession with him. I am not in any way obsessed with Paul, and I’m beginning to feel that that’s really quite beneficial (although I haven’t always thought so). We feel like equals – not as friends as such, but at least two people who can be honest and direct with each other. The only one-sidedness of it is that he is there to help me, and I can’t return the favour in any way, other than to donate £20 to his employers once a week.

I will review week 16 done as soon as possible. Of course, with this week being as ridiculously full of mentalness as it is, I will have a fuck of a lot to write about. Así es la vida, and anyway it’s my fault for being too fucking lazy to have written even this until now. I’ll write something tomorrow, regardless of which hopefully-maker-of-sanity-professional may be the subject…

Why is Self-Harm Bad?

***Beware of self-injury related triggers***

I’m being a little repetitive here, as WillFindHope wrote a post on this very issue only the other week. But the question is still bugging me. What is it about self-injury, in whatever form, that is meant to be so bad? It’s a genuine query. I don’t get the horror that permeates it.

I know there’s a few ostensibly rational considerations. Cut yourself in the wrong place, and you could hit an artery, or simply go too deep. OK. Usually you’ll develop scars. Fair enough. But is the general horror surrounding the phenomenon really based on logical issues of such a nature?

Occasionally I lash out at myself in a fit of pique or whilst consumed with overwhelming anxiety, but the thing is, such injuries are by their nature superficial. They are a means to a panic-reducing end, nothing more and nothing less. A simple, quick and efficient means of relieving psychic pain.

People wank on and on about it being destructive. Why is it ‘destructive’? Being mental is fucking destructive, so surely having a means to deviate from that state of mind is, if anything, a positive thing. Yeah, I have scars. So what? They don’t bother me. I think there’s a twisted part of me that actually likes having them.

I stabbed myself on Saturday night. I inflicted several injuries, but the worst was about an inch deep. The assumption to all and sundry (and, indeed, in my above paragraph) is that I must have been going mental that night, but I wasn’t. This is a different type of injury, but one that I don’t think is unique to Little Old Me. I was, truly, simply curious to see how far I could stick the scalpel into my stomach. I also just love watching the blood flow. If find it seductive and mesmerising: I am fascinated by the paths it takes, the little tributaries it meanders into as it departs from the wound.

Is that normal? As I understand it, no – it isn’t. But ‘abnormal’ doesn’t necessarily equate to ‘harmful’, nor should it. Uniqueness and idiosyncrasy are good things. So is it dangerous? In this case, it’s highly controlled, my scalpel is really pretty small, I prepared (and later dealt with it) with disinfectant, tissues, steri-strips and dressings. I cleaned it the next day and have done so today. It’s not particularly painful. So what is it that disturbs people so much?

Paul thinks my new-ish stabbing obsession (this wasn’t the first time I did it) is about ‘reliving’ rapes. You know, the whole penetration with an object thing, blah blah. He said that “every single wound on [you] is inflicted by [Paedo].” I laughed in his face, and defended self-harm in the way I have done in this post. To be fair, Paul said that he doesn’t want me not to have this outlet – he just wants me not to hate myself, to see me as an object worthy of “something better”.

That would be all well and good if I thought my self-injury was about self-hatred, but I don’t think it is. It’s a tool. A resource that allows you some control back over your otherwise insane life. I was quite honest with him, and said that I actually didn’t care about having scars. He thinks that’s about showing the world that I have been somehow injured.

Again, I don’t know if I agree. I mean, I don’t go out of my way to hide the scars – I’m not ashamed particularly – but usually they’re covered up, largely because of the locations on which I harm myself. So it’s not some elaborate borderline “look at my poor hurt self!” conspiracy. Or if it is, then I am epically failing at it.

For me, it’s about coping, or surviving. I know there’s a danger of becoming addicted to it thanks to the physiological reactions that take place it its wake (endorphins rushing to the wound site and whatnot), but since I only do it every now and again, I don’t believe that I am a slave to its lure. The seductive element is very real, but it’s occasional. It’s exploratory and captivating – not some sort of attempt to seriously endanger myself.

So honestly – if it’s controlled, safe and at times even helpful, what is really so wrong with it, no matter how far removed from societal conventions it may be?

In other news, I have an appointment with a CPN next Tuesday. It’s a fucking woman. I jumped up and down in anger, screaming expletives at the letter, when I read this. I have made my distrust and fear of other females quite clear to the CMHT, and would happily have waited a while for one of the few blokes that does this job to act as my new nurse-person-thing (you’re doing a great job at being a feminist there, Pan). All the same, I’ll try not to pre-judge her – the letter was quite friendly, rather than the usual cold bile I’m used to from Psychiatry, so I concede that point to her at least. She shall be known, for the purposes of this bollocksy blog, as Christine.

After NewVCB saying that she would get me a CPN, she also said that she herself would see me again in “a couple of weeks”. By that estimation, I should have seen her last Wednesday…and guess what? I fucking haven’t! I should be getting used to this kind of pathetic ‘care’ from these wankers.

Anyway, I asked my mother to ring her tomorrow and see what’s going on, though I suspect I know the answer – the last time there was a big fuck up in my being seen, it was due to NewVCB’s secretary being off on long-term sick leave. Now the secretary is away again (to get married this time), and it seems that the Trust have (as usual) failed to hire competent temps. Hopefully, though, it can be easily sorted out – after all, NewVCB did tell me I was allowed to phone her should such difficulties arise.

A and I are going to a cottage in the country on Thursday, which is St Patrick’s Day. I do not like St Patrick’s Day. In fact, I actively hate St Patrick’s Day. People get leglessly pissed and are loud, selfish, generally pain-in-the-hole wankshafts.  So we’re doing a runner to where no one will come near us, and we’re staying for three nights :)

It will be just the kind of break I need before I start actively panicking about meeting Christine. I am sick of having to meet new people – or meeting people full stop. I’m sick of being mental.

I’ll try and continue my catch-up of posts about Paul tomorrow. In the meantime, this is the shittest post I’ve ever written – and that’s saying something. I actually don’t know why I’ve written it, but since I have, I’m hitting ‘Publish’. Now.

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Validation, Faces and My Purpose in Life – Paul: Weeks 13 and 14

Yeah, I know, I know. I asked at the end of the last (random and lazy) post that you castigate me aggressively if this material was not published before midnight on…Tuesday? Wednesday? Meh. I failed. You failed too, readers. Only two or three of you had a go, and 227,000 of you have read these absurd writings from my perverted mind. (Admittedly that figure is over nearly two years rather than the last two days, but if you don’t care for my gross generalisations, then sue me and see if I care). Nuh-nuh-nuh-NUH-nuh!

Since I have four psychotherapy sessions to catch up on here, I have elected to write minimally (*chuckle* – as if I know the meaning of the word) and mash a few together. I hope that normal service will be resumed after next week’s meeting. That I feel capable of wading through this bollocks at all is testament to the fact that I must be feeling better than I did a few weeks back. I couldn’t have done this a fortnight ago.

I’ve often been asked how I retain memories of these sessions, and nowhere is such a question more pertinent than in this post, where one of the discussions was over a month ago (and the second not far behind it). This is the answer:

Scribble-Scrobble-Scrubble

As soon as I leave the Nexus building and get into the car, I scribble down everything I can remember. I used to type it all onto my iPhone, but to be honest I’ve found that random scrawls are quicker than two-fingered on-screen typing, so here we are. If I later remember something else – which is frequent – then I go back to the notes and scribble it on the side of the relevant area (or at the end if it’s unrelated to anything else I’ve noted). Not hi-tech, but certainly functional.

Anyway, enough procrastinating around the issue. ***Beware of child sex abuse and related triggers, as always. Some of the following is fairly graphic***.

Week 13

As is usually the case, this session opened with Paul asking me how I was, and my responding with “OK.” Apparently this was the wrong answer. He claims that I go in and proclaim myself to be fine most weeks, when I’m clearly more off my head than Charlie fucking Sheen (I wonder, will someone read this as an archived post in two years and wonder what I’m on about? Probably not, but just in case: clicky). I was told that I use the term “OK” as the easy option.

That may well be the case, but it seems thoroughly odd to me to sit down and scream, “everything is fucking shit!” As has always been the case in psychotherapy, I need prompting from the professional in the room.

This session was in the wake of the fuckery with the twatbags at the Jobs and Benefits office (Christ, that seems like millennia ago), and so I admitted to being highly pissed off, mainly in relation to that. Then, predictably, I launched into a full-scale attack on myself for being unable to work. Paul asked me why I couldn’t.

I remember mumbling some drivel about my pathetic concentration, complete inability to socially interact and my pathological fear of the phone. For some reason, he started banging on about what he called “ego strength” and my demonstrable lack of it.

He said, “I have ego strength. I’m self-assured, I feel confident in my abilities. I think you find it difficult to maintain that sort of thing.”

Slap me sideways with a dead fish. Revelatory stuff, Paul! 10/10 for observation!

I’m being unfair. It was obvious, yes, but of course he was using the point to lead elsewhere. In any case, I agreed with him, adding that whilst I was at least well aware that I have a moderately decent brain (ooh, listen to my ‘strongly narcissistic traits‘, ooh!) inside my skull, that possession seems kind of redundant when it’s rarely, if ever, put to any proper use.

He seemed to disagree with that, referencing briefly my perennial penchant for analysing and intellectualising matters that he feels should not be analysed nor intellectualised. Of which more later. He went on thus: “ego strength is based on our value as a child. When I was a youngster, I was – and, crucially, I felt – loved, cherished, protected and safe.” He cocked his head questioningly at me.

I responded in a rote, but honest, fashion. “Those words are alien to me,” I said, laughing nervously. I instantly felt guilty about this admission, though, and said that thinking that was grossly unfair to my mother, who had tried her best for me. And she did. None of this is her fault.

Paul accepted that point and nodded, but continued by saying that regardless of my mother’s love and good intentions, I still hadn’t been safe or protected.

“In your case,” he told me, “interpretations of a lack of worth seem to me to directly correlate with a lack of safety. Tell me – when did you last have any sense of self-worth?”

‘Strong narcissistic traits’ aside, I admitted truthfully that I could not ever recall such a state of being, at least internally (to an external observer, I was extremely self-assured and confident as a child. Not that that’s necessarily mutually exclusive with a lack of self-worth, mind you: I didn’t feel I had any worth, but I wasn’t un-confident nevertheless). I thought about this for a few seconds, and was reminded of something I mentioned briefly on this blog a few weeks ago: that Paedo had once raped me with some sort of pole (I retrospectively assume that it was the end of a mop or some such). I made the connection with this discussion because to rape someone with an inanimate object is to see them as someone not even worth fucking properly – I had no worth to him, just like I have very little to myself.

I started trying to tell Paul about this incident, but of course as ever the words stuck firmly in my throat. Cough, cough, splutter, splutter. Eventually I managed to say that “a pole [had been] used against me, if you know what I mean.” He did.

I gave him my analysis – ie. that in whatever twisted way, someone had to give a fuck about you in order to make the effort to rape you in the more conventional sense of the word (I was quite pleased that I managed to use the word ‘rape’, but of course this was my sitting back and reviewing the matter rather than talking directly about my experiences). For someone to rape you with a pole, they don’t have to give any sort of damn. It’s the ultimate in degrading, because it completely dehumanises the afflicted individual.

Paul agreed. “To put it crudely,” he said, “he couldn’t even be bothered to get a hard-on.”

“Exactly.”

“Which completely validates the idea of ‘worthlessness’ in your mind.”

“Quite.”

He paused for a bit, then asked me how long I’d be carrying that memory for. Had it just emerged, had it always been there, what?

I found this hard to answer. As you know, a lot of my memories of the abuse are skewed by the dissociation I invariably experienced at the time. This was one of those memories that had been on the periphery of my anamnestic consciousness – I’d sort of always ‘known’ it, but it was pushed away and compartmentalised. I estimated that the actual visual recall had solidified in my brain maybe about two months prior to this meeting, but it’s really hard to put a timeframe on this kind of thing. It sounds odd, but it just is sometimes.

There followed a discussion surrounding my recollections of the abuse. I complained that whilst I understood the science behind dissociation, the fact that certain memories just randomly appeared sometimes merely served to reinforce my long-held belief that I’d made the whole thing up. I have written on the notes that I said that it was “odd” to ‘forget’ things, then just remember them out of the blue 20 years later. From an academic perspective, it actually seems obvious – but from a I’m here, I feel it point of view, ‘odd’ is the understatement of this entire geological age.

Paul said, “it’s like you have a cupboard. It occasionally opens, and something falls out. What stops the rest emerging?”

Forgive my naivety, Paul, but I would have assumed that was rather obvious. As he himself has said in the past – why would I want to remember?

I reminded him that the previous week I’d told him about my hallucination of a fucking peccary (of all fucking things – how creative my subconscious is), and how terrified I’d been by it.

“This concerns me,” I told him. “That terror was so strong, so visceral…it was overwhelming. I wonder if that means I’m blocking something utterly horrific out of my mind. What more is there to discover?!”

“But of course the terror is immense,” Paul replied. “It doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s reams more to it – terror is an entirely appropriate response to what you’ve already described to me. And in my view it makes perfect sense for your mind to externalise that in the form of a hallucination. It’s a massive internal cross to bear, so it translates itself into psychosis.”

He went on to opine that psychosis is also a “clever way” of me showing myself that what happened was, in fact, very real indeed. My mind constantly terrorises me like this. It’s trying to communicate something.

I looked out the window behind me and avoided his stare.

After a few moments, he said, “you’re uncomfortable now. This is too close for your liking.”

He was perfectly correct, of course, but I wondered how averting my gaze gave him so much information.

“Do I have tells?” I asked.

To my astonishment, he didn’t know what a ‘tell’ was. I explained that it was a poker term, denoting subtleties that gave away clues to a player’s hand.

“OK,” he said, playing Dr Freud on me by over-reading my use of a poker analogy, “do you feel that your hand is becoming exposed?”

“I want it to be exposed, but my mind never lets me co-operate.”

“You need to cut yourself some slack, girl,” he said (which sounds hideously patronising as I type it, but it wasn’t delivered that way). “You’re here, you’re talking to me – your mind co-operates as much as is possible.”

I was reminded briefly of my 63 sessions with C, and how I didn’t even admit the extent of the abuse until…*checks archives*…week 46 (I knew this blog was useful for something). Yet here I have been, in a mere 13 weeks, discussing the finer, horrible minutiae of it with Paul. Admittedly, I went to Nexus with that clear mandate, which was not the case when I met C – but still. This stuff is A Big Deal.

He asked me what kept me coming back each week. “I’m guessing it’s not my animal magnetism,” he joked, which made me chuckle. With every respect to him – no, it’s not ;)

I provided him with my old disclaimer about not believing in cures for psychiatric problems, but added that I felt that therapy was the only proper means to “get back on track. Or, rather, get on track in the first place.” I added that I felt the only promising path to resolution of the issues was to go there, face them, and ultimately process them.

Paul nodded, seemingly encouraged. “But the first part of that resolution process is acceptance – accepting that it really happened.

“I have another client,” he continued. “Her life has been ruined by mental health problems. There’s an overwhelming amount of circumstantial evidence for her abuse – but she can’t and won’t believe that it happened.”

“I empathise,” I muttered.

“I know.”

“Well, I don’t know about her – but rationally, logically, I can fully believe that this happened to me. But I just can’t always…feel it. So how does one accept it? You can’t just flick a switch, Paul.”

“But what’s the benefit in making it up?”

I hypothesised that I knew that something had happened (which he proclaimed to be a good start), and that my imagination had spiralled out of control since.

“Right,” he said, definitely. “I am certain that you were abused. It’s absolutely unequivocal in my mind. You doubt, but I accept. You criticise yourself, and I defend you.”

“Sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry – I think you need me to.”

“Yes…I suppose so. It’s certainly nice to be validated. Thank you.”

“You needed validation then, and you didn’t get it, so you certainly need it now.”

True enough. I thought of my mother and her denials of what happened, and ended up banging on about this to Paul.

“She had one friend that went psychotic and had to be sectioned,” I explained. “During her psychotic phase, the woman alleged that she’d been abused by her mother, but later denied this. So whether that was true or not, my mother is of the view that anyone as mentally unstable as myself cannot legitimately make such claims, because we can’t tell fiction from reality.”

As you know, Paul does not adhere to the medical model of psychiatry. His view is that all mental illness somehow relates to trauma. That I disagree is temporarily irrelevant: his response to my anecdote was, predictably enough, that psychotic people are, in a sense at least, the most qualified to make such claims.

Of course, I hadn’t developed any psychotic symptoms when I told my mother about (some of) Paedo’s activities, but if I tried to tell her now – well, she’d be even more convinced that I was just “away in the head” and ergo incapable of reliably telling the truth.

“Well, I believe you,” Paul concluded. It is nice to hear it validated by someone not directly involved in it.

This saw the end of the session. His final comment before we said our goodbyes was that it was his challenge to help me see the certainty of what happened, and take ownership of that (or some such). I felt a passing draft of DBT in this statement, but I’m pretty sure it was just a turn of phrase and furthermore that he’d have been horrified if I’d likened him in any way to a DBT therapist. Paul is very much an analytical/dynamic practitioner, not at all a behavioural one, and I thank my lucky fucking stars all the time for that. Fuck behaviourism!

Week 14

Remember the depression rating scales? This week was in the wake of those. This time, I didn’t go in and tell Paul that I was OK. Instead, I told him that I was, apparently, extremely depressed.

“Apparently?” he queried.

I told him about the dichotomy of these apparently scientifically verifiable questionnaires versus my internal sense of utter normality. “Is it possible to get used to being severely depressed?” I asked, mostly rhetorically. “My blog readers seem to think so.”

Before he could formulate an answer, I trainwrecked my way forward to the rest of my week, telling him about how I’d burst into tears over the recollection of my old ragdoll, Mr Friendly. In doing so, I unwittingly strayed into one of Paul’s favourite areas of psychology: that of early attachment patterns, and how they affect the subconscious mind.

He banged on a bit about transitional objects and about how they serve as a means of healthy attachment. Whilst true of children who do have healthy relationships with their parents and/or other caregivers, he claims that their effect is especially amplified in abused kids: in such cases, the transitional objects are the only form of healthy attachment.

Which makes sense, but then – aside from Mr Friendly, as a child I mainly regarded cuddly toys and suchlike with complete derision. Now the fucking house is falling down with them. Am I trying to live a robbed childhood?

I told Paul that my first reaction when I started bawling about Mr Friendly was to consult Detective Inspector Google about obtaining a new version.

“Hmm,” he said. “You know it’s not about the doll, don’t you? You can’t search Google for a new parent.”

“Who knows these days?” I interjected, trying to be droll.

Paul laughed briefly, but then asked me why I had been crying.

I must have employed a lot of phrases such as “I was trying to work out…” and “I hypothesised that…” because he told me to stop it, and to just ‘feel’.

“At the first hint of emotion [would someone please ban that fucking word from the English language], you wrap everything up in intellectualising, in analysis. I can do that – but that’s because I’m not you.”

I defended myself on the grounds that going through therapy was pretty useless if I couldn’t make sense of the issues in my own mind.

“True,” he admitted, “but that has to come after. You have to feel first.”

I know this to be true, but it disgusts me nevertheless. I sat in silence for a very long time.

[Cue random memories of therapy with C (again). I used to sit silently every single week with him, and it was something I had fervently sought to avoid - mainly successfully hitherto - with Paul. I hate it; it feels like such a complete and utter waste of time...and, further, a waste of time that is hugely limited].

I apologised for my quietness, and he asked me if I disliked silence. I told him that as a general rule, I welcomed it – but not in this circumstance, where I am trying to do something productive. He admitted that “the pressure [was] on” to get things done in a measly 50 minutes.

I told him about my frustrations about my medical notes being delayed, and how raging I was with those responsible within the Trust for their continued incompetence. I also told him how a blog reader, Faith, had asked why my fury was directed at them – and not at Paedo.

Of course (as you’ll see if you follow the link) I responded with all the form bullshit – they are a public body breaking the law, they’re an arm of government who should comply with their responsibilities, yadda yadda, whereas Paedo is just some miserable individual git. I still hold to all that, I have to say, but on reflection Faith did make a fair point, and I should have acknowledged that in my reply to her.

I told Paul that I felt nothing other than indifference towards Paedo. This is absolutely true. A detests him and I can see why – but I simply don’t. He’s just sort of there.

“What did the little girl think of him?” Paul asked. [I really wish he'd stop calling her that].

I shrugged. “I don’t know. A lot of my memories are in the third person, so it’s hard to access my then-thinking. At other times – you know, those times where I was trying to sustain a continued existence on this plane, like when I felt I was choking to death etc – I was investing all my energies in just surviving it, so it’s impossible to tell what I thought about him.”

“Why not hate him? It’s not dangerous to do so – not now, at least. I think it’s because you transfer that hate to her [Aurora, or my younger self, whatever] – in some capacity at least, you feel that it was all her fault.”

I nodded. “That’s true – additionally, there’s the issue that I didn’t realise that it was somehow an abnormal way to live until I was a lot older. I mean, I had a rudimentary understanding of sex from the offset, but probably didn’t really realise that it’s not supposed to happen when you’re five.”

“It became normalised,” Paul confirmed. “Just like you were saying about your depression at the start of the session – it becomes a standard part of your life.

“So you have plenty of anger – not so much at the girl who was sexually abused, but towards the girl that had sex. Do you see the subtle distinction?”

I did. “It’s ridiculous,” I replied, referring to my objective view that blaming the abused child is an absurdity.

Of course, as is so typical, the word ‘ridiculous’ sent me off on a tangent.

“Last night, I told A that GCHQ were reading my blog,” I said. “I think he thinks that I’m delusional. But they are reading my blog, narcissistic as it sounds,” I protested. “Is that ridiculous?”

“No,” he assured me. “Nowhere is safe, is it? You didn’t have any safe place to turn to as a child. You have super-strength barriers up against all the dangers you perceive around you even now. Why should your blog be any different?”

It shouldn’t. Therefore: HELLO THERE, GCHQ! WELCOME TO MY LIFE! (Actually, would you mind giving me a job sometime when I’m feeling vaguely sane? I can do corruption with the best of them and I am good with codes. I was a master codebreaker as a child – at least when I wasn’t being a pretentious little fuck, or, indeed, being fucked).

He asked me what made me feel safe, and I responded by saying that I had to lock myself in the house with all the doors locked.

“And in here?”

“Metaphorically speaking, the same thing.”

“Exactly,” Paul said. “It’s the fact that everything is ‘locked’ in this room – we have boundaries, confidentiality, and everything’s enclosed. Believe me, if GCHQ are bugging this room, then I’m in deep shit!”

I laughed. Shame I can’t keep to the confidentiality bit given my reckless blabbering about everything here, meaning that GCHQ will find out about it all anyway.

He said, “psychiatry still describes psychotic people as ‘being out of touch with reality’. I say, ‘that’s crap; psychosis makes total sense to me’. If you were sitting here after all that happened to you and were happy or what society regards as ‘normal’, that would be out of touch with reality.”

We engaged in a short discussion about societal conformity and the nature of (in)sanity. Paul referred to the author or Going Sane – Adam Phillips – and how he contended that we are all born ‘insane’, but that convention dictates that as we grow, we learn to kowtow to certain prescribed behaviours and thought patterns. For my part, I ventured that when you considered the so-called bigger picture nothing was sane or insane: it just is what it is, and it all boils down to a pathetic case of moral relativism.

“So,” Paul concluded, “all those diagnoses you have – they’re time-structured, and constantly subject to re-evaluation. Therefore, the only real evaluation is that of your own experience.”

Paul and I don’t agree on the discipline of psychiatry, nor on the medical model. I don’t like psychiatry, but I do think it can have value. However, he’d got me on this point. Once before he’d exemplified by stating that homosexuality was once a DSM diagnosis, which of course it (quite rightly) is no longer. So whilst it’s unlikely in the short term, in time it’s quite conceivable that BPD will simply be regarded as a perfectly normal state of being – a reaction to something, rather than an illness.

Another silence ensued. I wanted to respond, but I couldn’t think of anything to say, so I sat there playing with my hair and chewing my lip absent-mindedly. Eventually, his voice broke into my thoughts.

“This is going to sound awful, but…was there any part of you that enjoyed it?”

It does seem like a horribly inappropriate and grossly insensitive question, but that was not how I took it. I saw (and see) it as perfectly valid. Sadly, I am aware of a few people who were abused as kids that did enjoy parts of it. Not because they’re bad people, never that, but because they reacted as they’re supposed to in a purely physiological sense.

I consider myself fortunate not to have felt such ‘enjoyment’ – or, if I did, that I don’t have any recollection of it whatsoever. I told Paul so.

“It’s just that it strikes me that – although you ‘disappeared’ a lot – maybe you had a bit of acting to do,” he suggested.

The honest answer to that is, again, that I don’t know. I don’t recall ‘acting’, but then I don’t recall a lot of stuff. It’s entirely possible. In a hideous but sensible sort of way, it holds a twisted logic; play the part, make him enjoy it, get it over more quickly.

On a related note, I admitted to Paul that I was “…doing…um…sexualised…er…things…” at quite a premature age (I made brief reference to it here ((back in the days where a Pandorian post could be less than 2,302,227 words long)), but I didn’t and won’t discuss the specifics). I thought about Paedo, and suddenly felt utterly nauseated.

Good? Feeling the disgust of it all there, Pan? No, not really – or at least, not in the sense one might expect.

I said, “it’s not because I hate him – it’s because having sex with someone who looks like that is abhorrent to me.” (Paedo is very ugly).

“Interesting choice of phraseology,” Paul observed. “‘To have sex’. Adults ‘have sex’. Children don’t ‘have sex’. Children get raped.”

I ignored him and continued. “I’ve told you several times that the occasions that were worst were those where I was choking and so on. In my never-ending quest to contradict myself, I might now say that that wasn’t so bad – I mean, at least I couldn’t see his face.”

“You’d rather choke than see his face.”

“Yes,” I confirmed, and he nodded acceptingly. “But now my mind is pervaded with disgusting images of his face contorted in orgasmic delight. It’s fucking repugnant.”

“How was your face?”

“Probably completely blank. Well – not the first time, I suppose. I was so bemused, so confused, that I probably looked appropriately mystified. But after that came resignation. Reluctant acquiescence. Simply a wait until it was finished.”

He again picked up on my terminology, blathering on about how I never ‘acquiesced’.

“‘Tolerated’, then,” I chanced. “The first time he touched me – as opposed to the more serious stuff – I tried to push him off. But after that I didn’t. I just let it happen.”

“You’ve fallen into a trap of thinking that ‘fighting is helpless’ equals ‘I have to let him’ equals ‘I do let him’,” Paul said.

“Yes, but I was meant to be intelligent, strong and decisive! I epically failed to use those tools.”

“As a five year old?” he said, witheringly.

I looked away and neglected to answer, but inside I was completely enraged. Yes, as a fucking five year old! I wasn’t like other five year olds. I was precocious, determined and stronger-willed than Maggie fucking Thatcher (who would have been at the height of her power at the time. Maybe she subconsciously influenced me). So yeah, of course I should have been able to do something about it. I don’t get why he doesn’t understand that. I don’t get why anyone doesn’t. I’m not saying that I deserved it, but I could have done a fuckload about it, and I didn’t. Not all – not even most – five years could (or should) have done, but I could (those pesky ‘strong narcissistic traits’ rear their ugly heads again, but I’m actually serious. I was a vicious little brat. I could have done so much, but instead I just lay there and took it).

“I was at a training course the other day,” Paul was saying. “One recurring theme was about how abused kids, by about the age of six, can become very good not only at actual sex, but at masturbation. It serves as a ‘tool’ to make them better at sex the next time their abuser wants to rape them.” He looked at me probingly.

How else can one respond to that but with abject disgust? It is unspeakably vile that someone so young should be in that position.

Evidently, my repulsion was palpable. “This is your world, Pandora,” he urged. “Of course it’s disgusting, but it’s not all about third parties. It’s about you!”

[Eyes down, lips curled, brow furrowed.]

“I have this lovely memory,” he went on, “of when I was a little boy. I can’t remember my age, but I was old enough to have been out walking alone, so I can’t have been that young. I was dandering up this road, and suddenly, from nowhere, I realised that boys and girls were different [biologically speaking. I don't think he's a raging closet misogynist or anything]. I remember that moment with such fondness – I had this gentle way about me – such a lovely childlike naivety.

“You didn’t have that, did you? And you were far younger than what I was at the time. You knew that men and women were different and you knew – or thought you knew – what you were for: your purpose in life was to have sex.”

This was deeply disturbing. Not the concept, but the way he phrased it. I had literally been within half a second of saying, “my purpose in life is to have sex.” Had he read my mind?

I stared at him goggle-eyed for a minute, then told him why. He hadn’t read my mind, he claimed – he just knew that that was what the circumstances dictated. Your purpose in life is to have sex. Yes.

So, knowing my purpose, I decided to deflect the apparent seriousness of the moment away by stating, again, that it wasn’t that bad. “I know of one woman whose mother prostituted her out to the highest bidder each time,” I said. “That poor girl was made to think her purpose in life was to have sex. So if it was mine – well, at least it was generally the same fucking person each time.”

“In a way, though,” Paul replied, “it’s almost worse – you had a pre-existing relationship with this man, you continued a relationship with him throughout, and you still have a relationship with him.”

We discussed the fact that I still have to see Paedo from time to time. I stoically grin and bear it; A sits and seethes and tries not to rip his cock off. I confessed to being terrified of getting into one of Maisie’s notorious and epic fights or getting pissed or something and blurting it all out.

“I don’t particularly care for my cousins,” I said, “but I wouldn’t wish this on them; they haven’t done anything wrong. It’s moot I suppose – they wouldn’t believe me anyway.”

“That’s the thing with abuse,” Paul sighed. “It’s always the victim’s ‘dirty little secret’. It’s you that would destroy lives. It’s you they wouldn’t believe. It’s you that would be persecuted.

“But,” he added, nodding pointedly in my direction, “they’d still never look at him in the same light again.”

And on that note, things drew to a close for another week.

M. E. H.

I have absolutely no idea how to end this post, so I won’t try to develop some prosaic / pretentious / uplifting conclusion to it and shall instead just fuck off. Cheerio.