Nadine Dorries: "Abstinence Only Education Will Help Prevent Child Sex Abuse"

EDIT TO ADD: A petition has been created calling for Nadine Dorries’ resignation in light of the comments below. Please don’t allow her to get away with this unscathed – add your name to the list of signatories right here. Thank you.

How many times do the political and mental health blogospheres have to highlight and respond to this bloody woman’s insidious, dangerous views? First she whinges that genuinely disabled people are incapable of using social media (“get back to work, you layabouts!”). Next, she uses deliberately loaded and offensive language to slur an individual she has decided she doesn’t like because he had the bare-faced audacity to take her to task on something (“nutter nutter nutter nutter nutter!!!”). Now she is saying that we, ie. the victims of childhood sexual abuse, asked for it. Yep, you read that correctly: if young females, in the face of potentially unimaginable terror and bewilderment, had just said “sorry, not today, thank you”, all would have been well! Those poor paedophiles misunderstood gentlemen, being led astray by these slatternly young sirens!

Her quote:

If a stronger ‘just say no’ message was given to children in school then there might be an impact on sex abuse…if we imbued this message in school we’d probably have less sex abuse…when sex abuse takes place [girls] don’t realise that that was a wrong thing to do. (Source I, Source II)

This in light of her ridiculous Parliamentary bill to teach girls – and girls only – ‘abstinence only’ sex education.

I could go and dig out statistics on this whole abstinence debate if I could be arsed, but I’m sure there’s dozens of other bloggers that have already done so, so I won’t (leave me links in the comments if you wish, and I’ll add them to the post). I will instead respond to this in light of personal experience.

As far as I can remember, I was first raped at the age of five. It could have been slightly earlier, or slightly later, but it was at about that age, because I have a conscious recall of, during the assault, my agonised fat face lying wide-eyed on the ground with my long, light-brown hair cascading around my enforcedly-horizontal body (in a perfect rape-victim stereotype, I had the majority of my lovely mane’s length hacked off shortly afterwards).

I had a playground knowledge of sex, I suppose. It was a taboo thing in which adults engaged – if you did it before you were married, it might even result in a baby coming! My childhood naivety – my belief that sex wasn’t required after a marriage to ensure procreation; one’s offspring just sort of arrived in one’s arms – makes me laugh a little now, yet also disturbs me in that such anti-sex-before-marriage-rhetoric probably harked back to the horrible Presbyterianism that was forced upon me around such matters. Dorries would, presumably, be pleased by this sort of dogma.

Anyway, a playground knowledge of sex does not equate to a fundamental (or even rudimentary) understanding of the mechanics of the act of sexual relations, nor does it suggest an understanding of the physical sensations nor psychological impact of engaging in said activity. I knew it was something to do with genitalia, but no more than that.

So that first time, during that first rape, not even knowing I had an orifice in that location, I thought that my uncle was stabbing me. The pain, mental as well as physical, is almost impossible to describe.

Fast forward six years or so. We had sex education in school, much to the sniggering amusement of all the boys and a majority of the girls. I had already worked out what was happening to me by this juncture, but had assumed that my younger self’s belief that sex was the exclusive domain of adults had been an unsophisticated child’s mistake. To me as an 11 year old, childhood sex was a normal practice in which to engage.

It was only as a teenager that I began to properly realise that this was not the case, and to some extent I still struggle with the idea.

Anyhow, despite the apparent evils of standard sexual education both at primary and at secondary school, I did not willingly have sex until I was 18. I was an adult – albeit a traumatised, disturbed one – and the action was desired, considered and undertaken with considerable precaution. My partner did not abuse me; I consented to having sex with him. I consented because I wanted to, not because I was unaware that I could say ‘no’ to the man. I knew that I could say ‘no’, and what’s more – I knew that if I said ‘no’, but he made me sleep with him, that that would be rape. He would be forcing himself upon me; he would not somehow be encouraged nor spurred on by my not having some requisite words of objection as taught from some crap sexual education class. If I had not wanted to have sex, and he had continued, the fault – as with any situation of this nature – would lie entirely with him.

Such knowledge is not available to a child. You don’t know that you can say ‘no’ – not just because the situation may have a gruesome normalcy to it, nor conversely (if it is the first time) because you are utterly mystified as to what’s happening to you – but because, simply put, you cannot say ‘no’. You are option-less in this scenario: in the terror of a fully grown man forcing himself upon your tiny body, you have little choice but to lie still, grabbing whatever laboured breaths you can, in order to remain merely alive. Saying ‘no’ is likely to only provoke further determination and violence from the perpetrator. At the risk of being repetitive, you cannot say ‘no’. Your very life may depend on you not doing so.

Sexual abuse is deeply traumatic and has the power to considerably affect its victims long after it itself has ceased. I have lived with a life time of mental illness, much of it trauma-related, and am still wading through the murky waters of therapy in an attempt to gain something that approximates an ordinary life, as understood by society at large at least. The notion that I brought this on myself by not ‘standing up’ to my rapist(s) is so incredibly offensive that it nauseates me to my core. Righteous anger pulsates through every vein, artery and capillary of my being. I know there’s a dichotomy here – regular readers will know that I often say, “yeah, but it was my fault” or “I should have stopped him” – but those are the words of a petrified, traumatised child. The echoes of such ideas by an elected MP on a national television programme merely serve to re-enforce a victim’s (misguided but natural) sense of shame and self-castigation, to add to the stigma of sexual trauma and any mental illnesses resultant therefrom. And that’s not to mention a word of the blithe assent to misogyny inherent in Ms Dorries’ insulting remarks.

If we have an abstinence-only message in schools, there will be no miraculous drop in the statistics of child sex abuse. As alluded to briefly above, I would contend that the perceived “defiance” of a child saying ‘no’ to an abuser four or five times her/his size could actually be dangerous.

Does Ms Dorries really think that a perpetrator, hearing a young kid saying, “please don’t!” is going to cock his head and scratch his chin in a moment of stark realisation? Oh right, she doesn’t want to have sex, so I’d better not go on. Augh well, some other time maybe. The idea that this is somehow easily obtainable is ludicrous.

Why? Because, as has been consistently shown time and time and time again, rape and sexual abuse are only secondarily (if at all) about sex. They are primarily about power, about control, about the twisted, megalomaniac thrill of seeing another person made vulnerable and degraded by one’s own dominance. In other words, if a sexual criminal has the will and the opportunity to rape or molest, (s)he will take it – no matter what his/her victim may say.

Oh yeah, and another thing, Nadine. Plenty of people did say ‘no’ and were raped anyway. I suppose they mustn’t have protested fervently enough, eh?

Dorries will no doubt claim that her comments have been taken out of context. I don’t care, and I don’t care what context they were meant in. What she said is still fallacious, victim-blaming and reductive in the rightful apportion of blame to a rapist and/or abuser. Her mens rea is irrelevant; her comments are still grossly offensive and morally (not to mention factually) wrong.

Links

Disclaimer: As discussed in the comments, Ms Dorries is unlikely to be saying, straight-up, that sex abuse survivors were directly to blame for their traumas and rapes. It is indeed probable that the woman has used a poor turn of phrase for what she was trying to imply. However, that does not make her nonetheless distasteful remarks any less controversial or offensive; she should think before she speaks and make her points thoroughly unambiguous. As I noted above, her intent matters little amongst the offensive terminology and implications, deliberate or otherwise, that her comments were laced with.

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It's My Birthday, and I'll Die if I Want Two

It's My Birthday, and I'll Die if I Want To

Fortunately (or unfortunately) for the not entirely insignificant number of readers this blog has, I don’t ‘want to’. Or even ‘want two’. Even if my posting here has dried up markedly of late, my little corner of cyberspace intends to remain alive and well for the foreseeable. The picture above amused me, and made me think back to some of my most suicidal days earlier this year, and thus I thought it was apt that I bring it to you along with my news…

…which is the announcement that it’s fuckin’ party time. Confessions is two years old today!

A Will Like This

This time last year, I wrote quite a long post with a sort of “where I’m up to at this point” theme, plus some stats. I’ll do the stats bit again – renewed for the blog’s second birthday – because that’s always kind of entertaining, but in terms of the ‘my life in the last year’, I’m not going to bother detailing everything that’s happened; instead, I’ll just note a few major events and hat-tip a few significant people.

Life and Times as a Mentalist

There were four major developments in my life of madness in the last year:

  1. Therapy with C ended, pretty much destroying my life.
  2. Therapy with Paul started, pretty much making my life better.
  3. I started taking 300mg of Venlafaxine and 600mg of Quetiapine, and the prescribing NewVCB proved herself to be thoroughly on my side.
  4. I was allocated a CPN.

2 – 4 inclusive have had the surprising but highly gratifying effect of improving my life, to the extent, indeed, that last month I realised I could no longer be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Whilst I still struggle with issues relating to complex PTSD, am frequently afflicted with (sometimes very debilitating) anxiety and know severe depression will once more return, I am, right now, doing fairly well, and getting rid of borderline (even if it’s unofficial) feels like a big deal. Life is OK.

In these ways, it feels like I’ve come on a long way in the space of a year (particularly in the space of the last few months), and I feel ever so slightly proud of this. However, it could not have been done alone: Paul, NewVCB and (to a lesser extent, but only because she’s new) Christine have been invaluable in the relative success of this process. In personal terms, A, my mother, my regular blog readers and Twitter friends have all been worth their weight in gold too. Thank you all for your continued support.

Blogging as a Mentalist

In terms of stats, the blog at the time of writing has 243,724 hits. Just short of the magical 250,000 that I’d hoped (though not really expected) to get, bah!!! I know that, in terms of blogging overall, this isn’t a huge amount – but in terms of a personal blog about a personal subject by a personal, provincial non-entity, it’s not bad. It’s certainly exceeded by expectations by…well, by about 243,273 hits, I suppose. I don’t think I’ll ever understand what it is that you like about this blog, but whatever it is, I’m humbled by it and very grateful for it.

I don’t think it would be a huge exaggeration for me to say that blogging has saved my life. At the very least, a combination of this and Twitter has; without the support that I have been almost unconditionally offered through these ventures, I strongly suspect that I would have caught the bus sometime in the last two years. I’ll never be entirely grateful that I’m alive, I suppose – I still can’t understand how some people aren’t suicidal. How the fuck does that work?! How the fuck can that even be?! But still, as of right now, I’d probably rather I have my life than I didn’t – and a large part of that can be attributed to the never-ending friendship and encouragement that you lot have shown me.

I got more blog awards over the past 12 months – see here and here for the main ones, and here for others that I somehow managed to rack up along the way.

The most popular posts this year were:

  1. Thoughts on the DLA Changes in the Budget – 6,501 hits
  2. BPD vs C-PTSD – 1,841 hits
  3. Self-Harm: A Warning – 1,012 hits
  4. Suicide – 950 hits
  5. Suicide Attempt Epic Fail – 832

The most popular static pages have been:

  1. About the Author – 2,811 hits
  2. NEW? Start Here! – 987 hits
  3. The Alter Ego – 953 hits
  4. A Mentalist’s Glossary – 719 hits
  5. BPD & PTSD – 592 hits

Over the last 12 months, I’ve had an average of 16,330 hits per month, and with the data available (only about six months’ worth), I see that, at a rough average, I’ve had between 3,000 and 4,000 hits a week and about 500 daily visits. Even when I haven’t posted for a while, for whatever reason there still seem to be about 200 – 250 hits daily, but this goes up notably when I do write more regularly.

The top three traffic providers have been StumbleUpon, Twitter and BlogSurfer. The top three other blogs sending visitors here were Bippidee (her old blog, and for the second year running), Mental Nurse (RIP) and My 13th Sad Day.

The top search terms arriving here are:

  1. (Confessions of a) Serial Insomniac (and analogous terms) – 2,474 hits
  2. DLA Changes (and analogous terms) – 2,229
  3. C-PTSD – 274 (bit of a gap there)
  4. Peccary – 248 (yes, I know – how odd. It’s because the picture on this post ranks highly on Google Images).
  5. Mental Nurse Blog – 238 (lots of people missing it, then)

Mentalist Acknowledgments

This is always difficult, but let’s give it a whirl. Mega thanks to bourach, Phil Groom, UselessCPN, Narky, Maria, Maybe Borderline, Sanabituranima, Seaneen, Little Feet, Autumn Delusions, Zarathustra from the erstwhile Mental Nurse, Kate (all three Kates!), Tit Flasher, MCBL, Splint, tai, Clarissa, Ali, Nick, Null and Mental Spaghetti. Thanks also to all of those on Twitter that I regularly chat with, and indeed those on Facebook :) (Please, please do not be offended if you’re not mentioned here – it’s me that’s shit, not you. I’m sure I’ll come back here to add people as Venlafaxine memory-lapses allow me!).

Many thanks as always to A, Mum (not that she’ll see this), Daniel, Brian (not that he’ll see this either), Aaron (not that he likes to be called that), CVM, K and everyone from the Mad Up.

Meh

Things have changed around here lately; because I’ve been keeping relatively well, my writing on Confessions has gone down proportionately. But make no mistake – my recovery is far from complete. It’s started well, but there’s a fuck of a long way to go. This blog will continue until, at least, I am able to return to normal, paid employment. I’ve no idea if I’ll have achieved that by May next year – probably not, I’d guess, for even if I feel ready for it, the economic climate is still pretty shit. Even if it does happen by next May, I do have to keep you updated here and there, don’t I? And also, I’ll probably still be under Paul’s care then, in our second run of therapy. And who am I to deny you your vicarious therapeutic pleasures?! (Before someone says it, I know you’re owed three session reviews. Soon. Really. Yes. Honestly, soon. I promise. Yes! I really do!).

So I think Confessions will see its third birthday, at least. Whatever the case, thank you all for all your comments, emails, tweets, FB messages, RTs and so on. Thank you for the never-ending support and encouragement. And thank you for making this venture the modest but important success that it has become.

Much love

Pandora <3 xxx

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Mentalist Appointments and Other Boring Faff

I’ve been very sick this week. I was throwing my guts up and, to be euphemistic, losing matter at the other end almost continuously from Monday morning to sometime yesterday. Well, not quite; what happened on Monday was that I was sick (as in throwing up) from about 9.30am to 2.30pm straight, meaning that I had to cancel my session with Paul and a subsequent arrangement for lunch with a friend. Then, suddenly, I stopped hurling everywhere, and seemed temporarily fine. Even though there was almost no risk of it, I convinced myself that I was up the duff and drove round to Boots to buy a pregnancy test. It was negative, of course, as I knew it would be. But knowing something is or isn’t true and actually being convinced of it is, when you’re me, not at all the same thing.

Shortly after I got back from Boots, the diarrhoea started, and on Tuesday the vomiting came back – though this time not confined to the morning. So I’ve been feeling sorry for myself, but I’ll live.

Had I seen Paul on Monday, today (or yesterday, if you must be pedantic) would have been the fourth consecutive day of appointments. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it yet again; being mental is a full time job.

On Tuesday I went to see Christine, my CPN. I ate nothing beforehand, other than to stuff Immodium down my throat, as I didn’t want to cancel what was only our second appointment. I actually managed to talk to her reasonably well, all things considered.

As I mentioned, in my last psychiatric appointment NewVCB had said to me that she wanted Christine to focus on ‘practical’ stuff in her interactions with me. As you might imagine, this caused me a certain amount of anxiety given my general disdain for the supposedly therapeutic properties of basket weaving, ‘changing’ your thinking, flicking a fucking rubber band on your wrist or ringing the Samaritans (with no disrespect meant to said organisation).

It turns out that Christine’s approach is considerably less shit than the above. I had told her about this blog the last time I saw her, and mentioned that it had been moderately successful over its almost-two years of existence (I mean, compared to the big blogs, this site is nothing. But compared to what I expected, it’s considerably more than nothing). On Tuesday, she brought this issue up – basically she said that if I had an audience, that if people bothered to read the shit I splurge here, that if people interact with me because of it – then I must have some sort of ability to write (personally I don’t think this is the case, although some of you have been kind enough to make contrary assertions in the past. Thank you).

I shrugged at her, and asked her what her point was.

Not a bad one, actually, as it goes. She was wondering if I had considered submitting some of what I write to some of the local mental health charities – Charity A, Charity C, Aware Defeat Depression, Charity B etc etc. She said that these organisations often produce newsletters, and in her opinion they would be “crying out for” a patient with an ability to articulate him/herself to produce a few pieces for such publications. I have to say that I would never in a million years have considered something like this. It simply would not have occurred to me.

I have noticed in the waiting room at Nexus that the organisation compiles and advertises writings from some of their (former?) clients (or clients of related organisations). One lady to whom they frequently allude wrote a book, published by the small, socially-run house of Chipmunka (who are mental health specialists). The verse of others features in the originally-titled Nexus Poetry Book. I remember finding these publications interesting, but I wasn’t somehow inspired into submitting anything of my own.

So, I told Christine that I hadn’t thought of it, but that it seemed like a plausible idea. She said, “have you considered writing professionally?”

Who hasn’t? Seriously, doesn’t everyone grow up wanting to be best-selling novelist? It was something that certainly crossed my mind many times. (Aside from the fact that I haven’t written any fiction since…God, probably since my GCSEs). In real terms, though, I did apply for a few freelance contracts some months ago, and based on samples from both this blog and Not as Smart as Pandora Braithwaite, was successful in securing all of them. The problem was that they, reasonably enough, wanted exclusivity on all submissions.

So what? Well, my writing for me comes first. This blog comes first. Writing here, especially in the highly verbose manner in which I do, can be energy-zapping at times, meaning I don’t have any va va voom left to write elsewhere. If one of the magazines who offered me freelance contracts had been willing to budge on the exclusivity matter, I could have simply sent modified versions of posts from here – but I understand why they won’t do that. By the same token, I have my terms. I am not going to prioritise money-making articles over the therapeutic concern that is this blog.

I told this to Christine, but she reckoned that the local charities wouldn’t really give a shit. She repeated the term “crying out for”, suggesting to me that in their apparent desperation, exclusivity on articles would be the least of their worries. In which case – fine by me. Though as I said on Twitter, if indeed this comes to pass, I will have to edit out the multifarious instances of the words ‘fuck’, ‘cunt’, ‘dickshaft’, ‘tossface’ etc. Null has offered to help me. He is going to be my editor, bitches, yeah! Null advises that I must henceforth use the words ‘fudge’ and ‘cumberbund’ in place of my more typical parlance. For fudge’s sake.

What else? We talked about my ability to get out of the house, and I said that although it was still reasonably poor, it was improving. I told her that I had developed a small but fairly active interest in geocaching (though this was a difficult conversation, because anyone who engages in this practice sounds…well, mad to non-cachers. “It’s a high-tech treasure hunt!” I enthused. She raised her eyebrow, scribbled something down and gently moved the subject on) that was taking me out a little. I discussed how A and I would often go out at weekends.

“But can you go out alone?” she queried.

I laughed in her face. “Of course not!” I said, incredulous.

“Why?”

I thought about it for a minute. I had arrived at the CMHT alone, after all. Why not elsewhere? But the very idea of going almost anywhere else by myself made me anxious, and I started blathering idiotically at her.

She saw my distress, and duly steered the conversation away slightly. “OK,” she said, “but how are you when you’re out?”

“Alright if someone’s there, usually – unless there’s a crowd, or someone sitting close to me or something.”

“And then what happens?”

“I go mental and simply have to get out of the situation.” I thought back to a recent trip to fucking Tesco and shuddered.

“Have you ever been prescribed Diazepam?” she queried. I told her that I had a stash of it at home.

“Not to throw down my throat in a moment of existentialism, you understand,” I assured her. “Just…for emergencies. For when the GPs stop being willing to give it to me.”

“Like a comfort blanket,” Christine said.

“Exactly.”

The long and the short of this discussion was that she believes that taking a Diazepam, using Diazepam when needed, is better than not going into what I perceive as difficult situations. She told me to take some with me in my pill box and to just take one (or two, whatever), as needed.

She opined that most GPs, if satisfied that you’re not addicted to the things, will be willing to give them to most people. I thought back to Dickhead GP‘s abject refusal to give me anything other than that which the consultant prescribed, but kept my mouth shut.

Christine then talked about volunteering for a while. She agrees with me that I’m not ready to go back to work any time soon, but does think that a few hours a week of this would be a good thing. I explained that volunteering was certainly on my long-term agenda; from an entirely selfish angle, it’s a good way back into work, both in terms of the CV experience and as an ‘ease in’ to a more demanding position. However, for once in my sorry life, my greater priority in planning to volunteer is the altruism involved. If they would be willing, I’d love to do some admin or something in Nexus, given the difference their service has made to my life. Failing that, I’d like to work with Aware or one of the other charities listed above, because their work is so vital to people with mental health problems. For some, maybe those who are not considered worthy of seeing CMHT members or something, such charities are their only lifeline.

Ultimately in terms of volunteering, I’d love to join the CAB, as they have been truly excellent when I’ve seen them regarding benefit issues. That’s a serious commitment, however, as (a) you have to be willing to give them at least 16 hours a week and (b) you have to do (at least?) a year’s worth of training (an NVQ in Advice Work, I believe). Of course, they accept applications for admin and so on as well, but these tend to be quite oversubscribed and anyway, I think that ultimately the proper training would be an excellent opportunity both in terms of my career and vis a vis ‘giving something back’.

Anyhow, Christine was essentially suggesting I apply for some sort of volunteering position now. She agreed that the CAB one should be much further down the line, but went on to say that in the case of the other charities, they may only want a few hours a week from me, and in any case, that the application processes were notoriously long (probably because of a dearth of resources). I said that I took her point, but I wanted to be certain that I was ready to move into this domain, and that right now I’m not. She accepted that, but told me to keep thinking about it. I will. In the meantime, I will see if the aforementioned charities are indeed interested in any of my written ramblings as she suggested.

I told her that I was having an ECG the following day to see if NewVCB could increase my dose of Venlafaxine to 375mg daily. Christine said that she thought that would be great; she said that she knows that that dosage is pretty hardcore, but given the chronic and severe nature of my depression, and especially given that 300mg has made such a difference so far, that she agreed with NewVCB that it could be a productive way to proceed.

This led to a brief discussion on NewVCB. Christine loves her. She told me that NewVCB does home visits to the most ill in the community – apparently this is exceptionally rare for consultant psychiatrists (I’m sure it is, though I was reminded that when Paedo first started going really mental, a consultant was at his house within 24 hours. The McFauls seem to get everything they want from the NHS, which is odd in itself; it is made all the odder by the fact that they are under the same Trust as me!). She went on to proffer the view that NewVCB is the best consultant in the area – she meant in terms of her personality and devotion to her patients, I think, but there was also a suggestion that she meant medically too. Based on my admittedly limited experience of psychiatrists, I would agree with this assessment. One thing that continually sticks in my head is the time that NewVCB said to me, “you do know that you can ring me if you need to, don’t you?” I didn’t – not before she said that. I thought that, unless I was crisis-team mental (does that kind of state even exist? I loathe the crisis team beyond words), that I was completely alone out here on the outside.

Finally, we had a discussion about Paul, and about how things are coming to an end with him in the next six weeks or so. I told her that NewVCB had intended to discuss my care with her in relation to the immediate aftermath of that, but Christine didn’t take the bait on that, and instead started wanking on about whether or not I felt “abandoned” or something.

I told her that I didn’t feel abandoned in the least. In part, that’s because Paul himself thinks that the time limit is a crock of shit and is enforcing it only because he has to. In part, it’s because whilst I’m very fond of him, I’m not reliant on him the way I was with C. In part, it’s because I am stronger and less borderline now.

What my problem with the discharge is, I said, is that very productive work had been going on with Paul – but that it is far from finished (by his admission as well as mine). I was abused, badly, for years. Not to mention all the other crap that came with life – Hideous Ex, V, bullying, grandfather’s death, yadda yadda. I’ve read the literature. I’ve spoken to others in similar positions. I’ve even asked the fucking professionals. And the consensus is the same: trauma therapy cannot be adequately conducted in a matter of weeks. It can take years. I told her so, and she accepted that.

And that was that really. I’ll see her again in three weeks, at which point – particularly if I haven’t seen NewVCB in between – I’ll ask her if we can increase the frequency of our meetings whilst Paul is out of the picture. I have no idea if she’ll agree – though I think NewVCB would be happy for her to, so there’s no reason why not that I can detect – but we’ll see.

I like her. I feel able to talk fairly openly to her, which is not normally an easy thing to do. I can’t necessarily see myself getting close to her as such, but I can see her being helpful and supportive, and right now I think that’s all I really need her to be. As you know, I was cynical about the role of CPNs when the idea was first mooted to me about a year ago, but I am happy to have been proven wrong in this instance.

The next day I turned up at the same hospital for the ECG. I was 20 minutes early, but went into the “waiting room” (a few broken plastic chairs strewn over the corridor of the crap mobile building) anyway. Immediately, a young girl stuck her head around the door, into where I stood (I was too scared to sit). The poor cow is obviously marked for NHS redundancy, because she actually didn’t keep me waiting and didn’t fuck about. Despite my o’er-timeliness, she brought me into the crap room straight away, cheerfully gabbled out the usual small-talk (traffic, weather, her fiancé), hooked me up to the machine, waited 10 seconds, glanced at a print-out, then advised me that I was “all done”.

She was obviously not a doctor, because she couldn’t read the results of the test herself. She said that she’d sent it to NewVCB for analysis but – and this is hilarious – it needs to go, firstly, to Big Bastard Hospital That Everybody Hates to be lodged on the computer as “[they] don’t have a computer [there]”. Once lodged, it then goes back to this hospital (the same one in which I see NewVCB and Christine and, formerly, C).

I arrived back at my mother’s house before my allocated appointment time. I couldn’t have been in the room for more than five minutes.

Finally, to today (or rather yesterday, but meh). At 8.30am, I had an appointment with Lovely GP. I cursed myself for booking such an early slot when my alarm went off this morning, as I do each and every time I see him. The reason for doing so is that, as his first patient, I won’t have to wait for my predecessor to take up more than 10 minutes of his time like I normally do.

I had essentially made the appointment to discuss the usefulness or otherwise of Orlistat, which he had prescribed me the last time I saw him to try to help combat the weight issues resultant of taking Seroquel. Knowing, however, that I had stuffed my face with more chocolate in one day than can be found in an entire Cadbury’s factory in a decade, I chose not to bring the subject up.

Instead I told him how much better I was feeling, and we had the same discussion around Venlafaxine that I had had with Christine on Tuesday. He said almost exactly what she had: that yeah, 300/375mg is a fuckload to be taking, but that my issues are severe and chronic and if that’s what it takes to mitigate them, then that’s what it takes to mitigate them.

I don’t remember a lot of what was said, as I was still under the influence of Zopiclone. I do remember that he commented, as many people have, that he could see the positive difference in me – to use his term, I seemed a lot more “responsive” (an interesting way of putting it, I thought). I told him about being allocated a CPN and that how, in light of Bye Bye Paul, this was A Good Thing.

Then, cautiously, I decided to ask The Question.

“She [Christine] said…hmm…well, she said I need to keep getting out but…well, crowds still kill me. She said…um…I should maybe…well, you know…”

He looked at me with bemused enquiry etched across his face.

“…God, I feel like I ask you this every time I see you…she said…’get out, take a Diazepam if that helps you get out. It’s better than not doing so’. So I know I must seem like an addict…but could you maybe prescribe me some? Please?”

He sat back in his chair and laughed. I looked at him in irritation and asked what I had done to arouse such amusement in him.

“‘I know I must seem like an addict’,” he repeated. “I last prescribed you Diazepam months ago. And it was only 14 of them even then. No, Pandora, you are certainly not an addict. You are clearly not abusing these pills in any way.”

True – after all, I haven’t taken any of them. They’re all sitting there in my stash box taking up space. Not that I told him that though, because he wouldn’t prescribe any more if he knew that, or at least so I assume. (And at this juncture you might validly ask why I need more of them despite already having loads. The simple answer is that I have no idea. I just know that when I give myself permission to even take a couple of the things, I feel like I have to make up for their ‘loss’ by gaining three-, four- or five-fold more. As Christine said, they function as a security blanket).

LGP said that he “completely agree[d] with the CPN” that it is better to get out and about and pop a Valium than it is to sit terrified in the house and not pop a Valium. He talked about my need for confidence building, the need for me to develop some sense of routine and ‘normality’, and so on and suchlike – though not in the irritatingly patronising fashion normally employed by GPs. The long and the short of it is that he too is pleased with my progress. Result.

I was trying to grab my scripts and scurry away when he asked me about the Orlistat. I had a moment of guilt-ridden desolation in which I considered making a run for it without saying anything, but I decided to be ‘brave’ (!) and admit that my cravings have been completely out of control.

“Let’s weigh you anyway,” he said – to my utter horror.

In a fluster, I went to frantic pains to remove my boots, belt, mobile phone and other encumbering objects from my person in order to fool the scales into saying that I was lighter than I am. I would have fucking stripped naked and picked off each scab on my body if I had thought I could get away with it. Again, LGP seemed to find amusement in my behaviour. I glared at him, and he apologised – but then added, to my utter astonishment, “you do have great capacity to entertain, you know.”

I asked him what he meant. Apparently, I am “charismatic and articulate” and that will “stand [me] in good stead.”

Initially I thought he was joking, but when he said, “really!” and followed it up with an appropriately reassuring smile, I knew that he was being sincere (or, at least, that he thought he was). I could happily have hugged him – how sweet! There are a lot of cunts in the NHS, but I seem to be becoming increasingly lucky in terms of avoiding them.

Anyhow, my efforts to unladen myself worked. My weight is a pound less than when I last saw LGP. A reduction of a pound is fucking crap, I know, but I was genuinely expecting to have gained a fair bit. The Orlistat mustn’t be completely useless, then. He asked me a lot of questions about its (notorious) gastrointestinal effects, and I admitted that whilst they were frustrating and embarrassing at times, that they weren’t that much in excess of my pre-existing IBS. Furthermore, they’ve reduced in severity over time. (Interestingly ((or not if you’re a vaguely normal human being)), the drug’s manufactures, GlaxoSmithKline, admit to indulging in a bit of the ol’ A Clockwork Orange in terms of said side effects. The worse the side effects, they feel, the more likely you are to stick to a healthy diet in order to avoid them).

LGP said he’d give me another script for the stuff, and see me about it again in six weeks. After 12 weeks on it, if you haven’t lost weight you’re supposed to discontinue it, though I suspect LGP may be flexible on that exact timeframe. Either way, I’m glad he was willing to give me more at this juncture – even if the stuff doesn’t work a fuck, I feel less guilty eating when I know I can take it afterwards.

Finally, I asked him if he could prescribe my Venlafaxine on a two-monthly basis, in the same way as the Seroquel is currently issued. After last week’s disaster, I wanted to make sure that I have a decent stock of the horrible stuff at all times – and besides which, Fat Pharmacist is still proving himself to be an incompetent fuck and thus needs about six years’ notice to allow him to practice pharmacy in his pharmacy. I was somewhat surprised when LGP agreed to this request, in the same way that I have always been surprised by Seroquel being issued in this way. I’m a mental. Is it really sensible to give me two months’ worth of both drugs at any one time? (Which is to say nothing of the Zopiclone and Diazepam stashes). As it happens, if I ever do decide to do myself in, it’ll not be by overdosing, as I know that only certain cocktails work reliably, and that if anything else does kill you, it’ll be slowly and horribly. But the GPs don’t know that I know that.

Still, I don’t care, because this will save me an awful lot of hassle in future.

And that was about it. He asked me to come back in six weeks, said he was glad that things were on the up, and told me to take care. I reciprocated, left, hung around the car park for ages waiting for the pharmacy to open, got my prescriptions, drove back to my mother’s, had a few slices of bacon (plus Orlistat, mais oui) and went back to bed.

And now I am back at A’s and about to go back to bed again. Which is a good thing because this nonsense is waaaaaay too fucking long even by my standards. I don’t think Christine had this length of article in mind when she suggested I sow my blogging seed across Northern Ireland’s mental health outreaches.

Goodnight, lovers.

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 ;)