CPN Appointment

***Possible Self-Harm Triggers, Blah Blah Blah***

Saw Christine on Thursday afternoon for the first time late December. Explained all that had happened in the first few months of 2012 and how things are very, very shit. She seemed to be of the view that this is a depressive episode more generally, because of the self-harm in which I engaged before Maisie’s death (she views it as serious because I was trying to dig out the veins in my hands, and seeing if I could sever the tendons in my wrists. When I shrugged it off, she said, “you do realise that this isn’t…normal, don’t you?” I said that I didn’t know). All that has happened, of course, has not exactly helped me claw my way back up the slippery slope I’m currently navigating.

She was horrified to hear that, as I spoke, Paedo was sitting in my mother’s living room. I explained that the reason for his presence was my mother and the McFauls’ over-compensatory just because the matriarch is dead doesn’t mean we’re not still family! routine. Christine opined that this must have been very difficult for me. I said that I didn’t care, but I don’t think she believed me.

Complained about either losing her or losing NewVCB; went on a rant (well, insofar as I was able to speak) about how much the health service has failed me in the past, and just as it had started to get things right, it was cunting them up again. I must have looked particularly distressed at some juncture because she appeared to think I was about to burst into tears – “that’s really hit you hard, Pan,” she said, adding that the entire CMHT is furious about the changes – at which point I said that I do not do tears and that even when I’m sitting alone in the house and feel the ‘need’ to cry, I do not permit myself to engage in said activity because someone will be watching me through the clandestine cameras that follow me about.

Naturally, this remark piqued her interest, and she asked if I really believed it, or if it’s just a feeling. I said that I knew it was ridiculous – “maybe they were right when they diagnosed me with a personality disorder, it’s just that they got the specifics wrong; it’s not borderline, it’s narcissistic” – but that I believed it nevertheless. Cue the usual questions about voices and visions, of which I was able to truthfully say there are none.

Either way, she was extremely concerned about my levels of depression. I laughed (if one can call such a hollow, cynical sound ‘laughter’) and said that this was nothing. I know how bad it gets, and this isn’t it – even though it’s heading distinctly in that direction, and has been for weeks. Christine said that in a sense this was good – might I be able to ‘get it in time’, she wondered, if I wasn’t yet at rock bottom?  I shook my head. “By the time it’s got to this stage, it’s still gone too far to prevent it from getting to its worst. It creeps up on you so slowly and insidiously that when you get to ‘now’ – the realisation you’re spirally into the abyss – it’s virtually written in stone that the very worst of depressions will be upon you anon. Like a fixed variable in space-time.”

She kept asking me over and over again if I could “guarantee [my] safety”. I kept trying to make non-committal responses, but she wouldn’t let it drop. Eventually I said something along the lines of expecting to be alive at the time of our next appointment. She accepted that, but added that she wasn’t just concerned about my trying to top myself; she was also worried that I’d engage in more self-harm, and this time actually succeed in doing myself some proper damage. I stated that I couldn’t guarantee I wouldn’t do anything of that nature, but that I thought it was highly unlikely. As I told her, you need at least some mental vigour to engage in self-injury, and with each passing day I have less and less of such commodities available. Depression sucks out your very soul.

Christine nodded, but kept prattling on that my safety was the most important thing. Meh. Fuck my safety. Don’t fuck my safety. I don’t care either way. I was just glad that she let me leave without a shiteist crisis team assessment.

She wants me back in two weeks rather than the usual month. In the meantime, I am to contact her urgently if things get notably worse or if I’m running helium cannisters through price-comparison websites again. I said, “I know you always say I can contact you, but can I actually do so? Do you mean it?”

She seemed surprised by the question, and emphatically told me without breaking eye contact (which was odd, because I’d spent the entire appointment trying to avoiding looking at her – mental health professionals love it when you don’t engage in eye contact; it’s always splattered over your notes) that of course she meant it, that she wouldn’t have offered it had she not, and indeed that she wanted me to contact her if things get worse. ‘Get worse’ is a stupid phrase in context – of course things will ‘get worse’. But I think she means ‘really bad’.

I might take her up on it, assuming I can get out of bed.

End of terrible post, and of pathetic pity-party. Can’t be bothered to proof-read, for which you have my apologies. Love to all. xxx

You Know You're a Self-Harmer When…

A little vignette for you.

I’m wearing the same black dress tomorrow to Maisie’s funeral that I wore to the awards ceremony back in November (what a varied experience that dress will have had in its short life). Unfortunately, I didn’t have a jacket to go with it, nor did I have an appropriate pair of shoes (I don’t get this ‘thing’ women are alleged to have with shoes. I wear a comfortable pair of boots for almost everything. Still, they’re tatty and would not go down well at a funeral; nor, indeed, would the preposterous high heels I wore to the awards, not that I can stand on those fuckers anyway). I ergo drove to the shops this evening in an attempt to procure these apparently requisite items. Having succeeded in said endeavour, I finally went into Boots to obtain steri-strips and scar-reducing plasters, thanks to an as-yet-undiscussed-on-this-blog incident of self-harm last weekend (I blame my GP’s “surgery” for completely fucking up my Lamictal prescription. Wankers).

As I was dithering in the first aid aisle, I spotted this:

I was alone in the area, which is fortunate, because, initial head-cocking completed, I visibly started at this product. “Pre-cut knee application”, it said. What the fuck?!

I crouched down and examined it more closely. I even squinted at it to make sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks with me. But yep, it really did say “pre-cut”.

I was aware that my facial features were contorted into an expression of complete and utter astonishment. I mean, I liked the idea – but I thought it was shockingly niche at the same time. Too niche, surely, for a mainstream, walk-in shop.

My mind asked the following questions:

  • Could a well-known and respected pharmaceutical giant such as Boots really allow themselves to stock – and therefore endorse – a product designed specifically to aid a self-injurer in advance of an act of self-injury?
  • The knee thing. Why were the manufacturers so sure that you’d want to cut yourself on your knee? I’ve never self-harmed on my knee. Have you?!
  • The bandage is suitable for “two to three day wear”. Surely you’d need to take it off sooner than that to attend to the wound you’d inflicted upon your poor knee?
  • As I left the shop, I wondered why it was called a “bandage”. Surely anything you would use in preparation for an act of self-harm could not be a bandage? Are you meant to wear it for “two to three” days in advance of an act of self-harm, so that it does something fancy to your skin to stop scarring/bleeding/dying/vampirism/whatever? Is that what they meant when they alluded to the “two to three day wear”?
  • Assuming that the bandage were to be worn in advance of an act of self-harm, aren’t they catering to a even more niche market? I mean, I know a lot of us do plan cutting and other injuries – but two or three days in advance?! Surely there can only be a very small demographic of cutters to whom that would apply?

I got into the car, where A was waiting for me. I apprised him of the details of the bandage, then raised my afore-listed concerns and queries about it.

Imagine my surprise when he threw back his head and started laughing.

“Well, I suppose it is kind of darkly funny to have such a thing on the market, but…” I started.

“No, you idiot,” he laughed. “It’s pre-cut!”

“Yes, that’s what I said…”

“It’s a bandage that has been pre-cut in advance of your fucking purchase! It itself has been cut by the manufacturers to a certain size to support existing knee injuries!”

Oh.

For someone with a high IQ, I can be remarkably ditzy. DUH!!!

As noted sagely in the title, this is when you know you’re a self-harmer.

As noted briefly above, it’s Maisie’s funeral tomorrow. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’m not looking forward to it, and – entirely selfishly as usual – I’m particularly concerned about seeing Aunt of Evil (who arrived surprisingly quickly, which is the reason I managed to stay at home, rather than remain comfortingly at my mother’s, for the last two days). I’m not sure when I’ll be able to detail tomorrow’s events (should they merit detailing), or discuss the back-story to her death, but I’ll update you all as soon as I can.

Thanks to all of you that have commented here, tweeted, emailed or whatever. I know I’m toss at responding but I do read everything and I appreciate it all greatly. Thanks for being there for me. xxx

Baby Cuts – Paul: Weeks 16 and 17

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

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

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

Week 16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“For a while?” he queried.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I did. I told you about it.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

But something struck me then.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“OK, so…”

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

“How?” he challenged.

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

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

I sat in silence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I was ashamed,” I told him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 17

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

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

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

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

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

“I suppose so,” I agreed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Of course.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pause.

“‘Victim’,” I repeated, wistfully.

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

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

“Just Pandora?”

“Yes.”

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

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

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

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

“Yes. I know.”

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

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

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

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

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

Good night, muckers!

Why is Self-Harm Bad?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Will I be Forced Back to Work?

***Beware of triggers: self-harm and (potential) benefit loss***

You may recall that a few weeks ago I wrote about how the delightful Social Security Agency (SSA) had managed to fuck up my ongoing claim for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) rather epically.  The bloke to whom I spoke on that occasion advised that I would get the money owed to me since the fucking 12th of October within a week.

Did I?  Did I fuck.

In light of their continued failures, I sent my ma a text message from the Republic last week asking her to ring them and find out what was going on.  I was fairly sure that they wouldn’t tell her anything – a correct assumption, as it turned out – but still, I figured that it was worth letting the fuckers know that I hadn’t forgotten that they owe me over a fucking grand, so I got her to ring despite the likelihood that they’d reveal fuck all to her.  In the end, they shockingly did advise Mum that they would get one of their people to phone me by Tuesday of this week; ie. 1st February.

No such phone call was forthcoming, of course, but as I was driving home yesterday (Wednesday), a blocked number did call.  Of course as I was behind the wheel I didn’t answer it (though I’ve been known to do so in the past, to my shame), but when I got home I checked the answering machine straightaway.  The message that had been left confirmed that the call was from someone who, it seemed, was allied to the relevant governmental department.  On those grounds – ie. because I wanted to know when I was actually going to be deigned worthy of payment – I returned the call.

Oh dear.

I should have recognised the woman’s name from back in 2009.  I should have known that she was not ringing about the SSA’s pathetic yet monumental fail.  I should not have called her back.

Because she is not involved with payment of ESA, or any other out-of-work benefit.  She is there to get people back to work.

I’m not sure if I ever explained exactly what happened about this matter.  I did rant a bit about it here, and a little more here.  To cover it again in a very rudimentary sort of way (more details are here), there are two ‘groups’ of ESA – the ‘work’ group and the ‘support’ group.  If you are placed in the former, you are considered to have ‘limited’ capacity to work; if the latter, you are essentially considered incapable of employment for the foreseeable future.  I was initially placed in the work group; I appealed against this, and I won (see the second link at the start of this paragraph), thus seeing me placed in the ‘support’ group.

Those in the work group are required to undertake wanky “work focused interviews”, which are allegedly voluntary for those in the support group.  When I first received correspondence from the woman that rang me yesterday, she had invited me to one.  At the time, I wrote back and said that I was way too batshit to cope with such an eventuality, and she kindly agreed to postpone it for 18 months.

So here we are, o my little brothers.  The 18 months is fucking up.  Which would be terrifying but at least understandable if I was still considered to have ‘limited capacity’ for work – but I’m not.  I’m supposed to be too mental to work at all, as the SSA themselves fucking decided.

I rang the woman – let’s call her Pamela – and quite innocently started wanking on about my ESA claim, wondering if she could confirm when it would be paid.  She listened to me without interruption, to be fair, but when I finally shut my gob, she explained that she effectively has nothing to do with social security payments and was in fact calling about work focused interviews.  Did I recall, she asked, the correspondence with her about a year and a half ago in this regard?

My blood ran cold.  I could almost visualise blocks of deep red ice falling out of me, tantalising me into a deeper madness.  In a reverse of what are apparently cultural norms, I saw my future – not my past – flash before me.  A Mental Bird being talked to by things that aren’t there and dissociating into a fucking child nervously opens the door to a large, cold office.  The assorted, hard-nosed personnel turn to see The New Girl, staring her up and down, making crude and probably cruel judgements within seconds.  The voices, probably rightly, scream at the Mental Bird about how much her new colleagues already regard her with utter contempt.  They chatter, chatter, chatter – louder and louder – until the cacophony builds to a sickening crescendo that sends the Mental Bird running out of the office screaming.  Bye, job.  Bye, sanity. Bye, benefits.  Hello, increased dosage of anti-psychotics.  Hello, crisis team.  Hello, hospital.  Hello…suicide?

I must have thus ruminated for a few seconds, because Pamela broke through my thoughts.  “It’s not a job interview or anything like that, Pandora,” she was saying.

“Right,” I murmured, pointlessly, pathetically and frustratingly submissively.

“It’s just…well, its just to see where we are with things, and how I can help.”

“Right.”

“I’ve sent the appointment letter out…if that date doesn’t suit you, sure you can let me know.”

“OK.”

In fairness to her, she is actually quite nice.  Having explained the situation with my lack of ESA payments to her, she said she would ring the fuckwits responsible for same and attempt to ascertain what had happened – and when I should expect to receive the back payment.

“Can I call you back on this number?” she queried.

“Yes,” I said, with that same empty, obedient blankness.

When I had hung up, I sat down on the sofa and stared into space in a sickened daze.  I simply can’t go back to work.  I mean, I want to go back to work, and as noted with Paul in week 11, that is what I’m trying to work towards.  But I can’t do it yet, no matter what the consequences.  I have to sort my head out first, otherwise not only am I screwed, but my potential employers aren’t exactly going to have gained much advantage either.

So much ran through my mind, though if you’d seen me, you could have been forgiven for thinking I was catatonic.  I thought of Ali Quant’s post on her proposed way out if her benefits were removed (ie. suicide), and how I now identified even more than ever with what she’d written.  I thought of the lovely Phil Groom and his admirable idea to save her, which has now morphed into the wonderful charity-to-be, 5 Quid for Life.  I thought of One Month Before Heartbreak and my own post for that campaign.

I had always known that all this stuff was worryingly close to home – but I thought I had a little bit of breathing space before it was knocking right on my own door.  That particular illusion has now been well and truly shattered, as if someone has thrown a rather large rock at a rather small mirror.

Once again, my nihilistic thoughts were interrupted.  This time it was Pamela phoning back, having contacted the cunts at the ESA branch.  She said that they were unable to give her any explanation as to why things had fucked up, but that they had claimed that they were checking the final details of the claim (given that the backpay is so large), and that I would get the money by what is now today at the lastest (I haven’t).  I thanked her for looking into the matter for me and rang off.

I spent the rest of the afternoon lying on the sofa with a tension headache of migraine-esque proportions.  Not only can I not go back to work, I don’t know how I can even so much as meet this woman.  I can’t bear the idea of it.  It’s alright for her to say that it’s informal and friendly, but when speaking to anyone beyond your partner, therapist and, arguably, mother seems an impossible task, how can it be reasonably done with a complete stranger who by virtue of her job is meant to at least encourage you into something that is, for now, inherently dangerous?

When A arrived home, he had already read my despairing tweets on the matter.  He offered to attend the meeting with me, which may be beneficial, and believes that it’s probably an exercise in civil service box-ticking.  Maybe so, but it seems horrific to me that the simple act of a tick on some cunt of a form is allowed to create such appalling distress in those to whom it relates.  I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again: can’t they just contact one’s consultant or GP if they need to confirm your illness or disability?  And in any case, if I’m supposed to be in the ‘support group’, why the fuck am I apparently required to do this?  As noted above, it is supposed to be voluntary for such claimants.  Have they fucked up my particular group designation as well as the last three months of my income?

I couldn’t sleep last night, so at about 3.30am I knocked back a Zopiclone.  Mercifully, it worked – but when I awoke today it was with great horror and dismay.  Out of the corner of my eye, I happened to notice my old friend the scalpel sitting there.  I thoughtlessly picked it up, and within seconds was cutting my lower arms to complete shreds.  When I say ‘thoughtlessly’, I mean it in the most literal of senses; I didn’t think “oh, I should self-harm here, yay” – I merely acted.  Perhaps it was as if I were a robot – behaviour on rote, I suppose, with apparently nothing to actually consider.  As I later sat with disinfectant and bloodied paper towels lying all around me, in a classic example of “too little, too late,” I considered what I had done.  I had cut my arms, which not my MO at all.  The actions of my subconscious now seemed cynical, even manipulative; if I was self-harming to relieve anxiety (and, to be fair, I think at least to some extent I was), then why not cut my abdomen or upper legs as normal?  Why slice my arms?  Stupid, pathetic, borderline, attention-seeking freak. I have clearly cut myself in this particular location in order to ensure that people will see the fucking things (even though this evening, when out for coffee with A, I went to great pains to try to hide the fuckers).

I am scared.  I am really, really scared.  I don’t blame Pamela; she’s just the messenger, doing her job as dictated by our wonderful cunterngovernnment.  But whoever is to blame, I am still – potentially – in a great deal of trouble here.  I am making progress in therapy, but I am very far from recovery – nowhere near enough to even begin to deal with basic human interactions, nevermind the complex stresses often observed within working environments.  If I have to go back to work or face losing my benefits, I have no idea what I will do.  The ‘s’ word strokes my mind from the fringes, despite the campaign that has resulted from Ali Quant’s discussion on same (see above).  One way or another, I don’t think I can cope with the worry, the degradation, the anxiety and the results of everything that this impending meeting is likely to bring.

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Cutting the Crap with NewVCB and Cutting Down Defence Mechanisms – Paul: Week 10

***As usual, please be aware of possible triggers, in this case re: self-harm, dissociation and sexual abuse.***

Wey-hey!  We’re now into double figures in terms of sessions with Paul, so I can now save characters in my review post titles!  I’ve always been a pedant like this; single digit numbers ought by linguistic convention to be expressed in words; double and higher numbers in figures.  Seeing deviations from this render make me murderous.  An over-reaction, you say?  Maybe.  But doesn’t everyone have a few foibles over the correct use of the English language?  Along with things like double negatives, and the use of the word ‘like’ to express something that was said rather than something to which the speaker is comparable, this is one of mine.

Anyway, I was meant to see Paul on Monday 20 December, but if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you’ll be aware that he was snowed in that day and couldn’t make it to work.  Part of me was relieved – I was exhausted that day, and therapy seemed like too much to take – but part of me was irritated in the extreme. It’s only fucking snow.  To be fair, the bloke that left the message on my phone to advise me of Paul’s absence did say that I could ring them and speak to a counsellor if I was in distress, which was a nice offer.  I didn’t take them up on it, of course, but I was grateful to have the option given to me.

The missing of that session means that the last time I saw Paul was 13 December.  I saw NewVCB two days later, and I’ll include a brief overview of that meeting here too.

Paul: Week 10

Things commenced, as they usually do, with Paul warmly enquiring as to how I was.  I told him that I was OK, which was true at the time, but of course this session was in the almost-immediate aftermath of a major psychotic and dissociative episode and I knew (with a slither of regret) that I needed to tell him about it.

“I’m OK,” I repeated, “but…well, I was not so OK the other day.”

“Oh dear,” he replied, raising his eyebrows in apparent curiosity, but with evident and sincere concern in his voice.  “What’s going on for you?”

“You tell me,” I laughed bitterly.  “I don’t remember doing most of it.”  I paused, and tilted my head in thought.  “Apparently I was completely insane on Friday.”

I told him about the harassment from ‘They‘ during the day – one part of the whole nasty business that I do recall fairly well – and mentioned how my mother had been so distressed by what she saw that she saw that she’d started babbling on about getting doctors out, the underlying threat being that she felt I was worthy of assessment under the Mental Health Act.  If that was her thinking, I can’t really blame her.  It was a pretty nasty episode.

I proceeded to explain to Paul my bizarre behaviour of that night.  About how I was apparently muttering the words to the theme of Dad’s Army on a constant loop for about half an hour, and about how Aurora manifested and un-manifested in two nano-second switches, and about how when I woke up on Saturday morning I was covered in cuts I don’t remember inflicting upon my self.

Curiously, I didn’t (and don’t) feel able to refer to her as an alter in front of him.  He doesn’t like diagnoses (and has been exasperated in the past when I’ve made reference to ‘disorders’, particularly those of a dissociative nature), so maybe that’s why, but whatever the case, rather than tell him that I switched to the child alter, I said that “the child part of me started talking to [A].”

Paul asked me what it was that Aurora had to say, and after apprising him of the two or three set terms that she employed, I accused her of being “shockingly melodramatic” for her claim that Suzanne, Paedo’s granddaughter, had seen one of the incidents of sexual abuse.  I clarified what had actually happened: Suzanne merely caught a very brief glimpse of something, which almost certainly looked innocuous to her then-innocent mind.

Paul said, “it’s interesting that what ended up happening was that the child came under attack.  Your mother, seeing you deal with psychosis – the voices representing a primitive, angry part of you – wanted to have you sectioned.   That’s being hit by her anxiety.  And you’ve done the same: you can’t bear your own anxieties either, so you start cutting at yourself.”

I looked at the cuts.  The stupid bitch – for I assume it was her in control at the time of the ‘attack’ – had inflicted them upon my arms, about which I was really annoyed.  I self-harm on my upper legs and my abdomen, where no one can see it.  She clearly wants to draw negative attention to me, and I resent that considerably.  However, the most frustrating thing of all is that the cuts are so fucking shit.  It’s obvious a child is responsible for the bloody things (no pun intended), because no adult desirous of inflicting harm upon themselves would have done so so shoddily.

“They’re not even done properly,” I spat contemptuously, almost to myself, prompting him to ask what ‘properly’ would entail.

“Look at them!” I almost-shouted in disgust.  “They’re so fucking superficial.  They’re obviously done with something blunt.  They hardly even break the surface; it’s pathetic.”

“Maybe she was just making a point,” Paul shrugged.

I looked away in disgust, and we sat in silence for a bit.  Eventually he asked what ‘They’ had to say, and I told him the specifics.

“What I don’t get though is that on Friday they were especially strong and vicious, but they didn’t try to persuade me to do myself in,” I said, still puzzled by the state of affairs in question.  “I mean, I was at my most vulnerable, they were at their most vicious – it was a perfect opportunity, and they didn’t take it.  I don’t understand it.”

“Maybe they don’t want you to die any more,” he replied philosophically.

“But why?”  I went on to muse on this briefly, concluding that “maybe they think my existence is my punishment.”

After a few moments of silence, Paul said that he was trying to work out how experiencing all this stuff must have felt, ultimately stating that it must have been “bloody terrifying, especially losing time.”

I agreed that that was indeed the worst bit.  “At least with the voices, I know what happened and can be to some limited extent in control of it.  This losing time thing ends up without my having any control over it, and that’s disturbing.”

We spent a few minutes discussing the strength of the psychotic elements of the incident, with Paul concluding that ‘They’ were angry because they felt threatened.  “What’s threatening them?” he asked.

“I suppose my hypothesis would be that it’s you,” I suggested, embarrassed for some reason by the statement.  Was I concerned that I was expressing some sort of inappropriate transference therein?

“But they’re not shouting at me,” he pointed out.

“No, they’re not.  And I’m stunned to say that, as yet, they haven’t even mentioned you.  That’s very odd.  They used to despise C, my previous psychotherapist.”

We spent some time discussing the minutiae of how ‘They’ regarded C, the specifics thereof being fairly immaterial to this discussion.  The point was, Paul opined, that in their abject hatred of C, they were trying to undermine my relationship with him.

I felt that this was a fair assessment of the matter.  “If someone came up to me, started throwing insults about, and then claimed it was because of a voice in their head, I would laugh in their face,” I admitted.  “Even though I have direct experience of the same thing.  I just think that to have to put up with such abuse must be a really horrible thing to be on the receiving end of, regardless of how unavoidable the reasons may be.”

“OK,” Paul began, “I’m wondering why they don’t seem to hate me in this fashion.  “Is it because I don’t threaten the same way he did, or are you in a different ‘place’ at the moment, where you feel less threatened by this work?”

“I’m not sure that I’m qualified to make this judgement, but I will anyway.  My sense of it is that in 10 weeks, you and I have done more useful work than C and I did in over a year.  So to that end, I don’t understand why ‘They’ are not really pissed off – what is there for them to like in such intense but hopeful work?  I suppose it must be your second point – maybe I’m simply more ready to deal with these issues now.  I wasn’t for a very long time, but I think I am now.”

“In a way, psychosis is about psychological splitting,” Paul observed.  “And perhaps ‘They’ themselves have engaged in that process; C was the bad object, so I can be the good object.”

I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of this.  I would have thought that anyone who was trying to help me, regardless of their success, would have been a ‘bad object’ to ‘They’.  ‘They’ hate me.  My being helped is not something that they should welcome.

Anyway, he went on to say that in his opinion, everything that was happening for me “in this moment” made sense in historical context.

“The voices, the splitting, the separation of yourself,” he explained.  “I don’t think it’s ‘psychosis’ if it makes sense.  I think when you’re so overwhelmed with self-hatred, it’s easier for someone else to hate you.  What would they get from you killing yourself?  They would die too.  So it’s about your annihilation.”

I sighed.  “I’m seeing my consultant on Wednesday,” I told him.  “I’m concerned that if I tell her about this episode, she’ll just through more Seroquel at me.  I’m already taking 600mg of the horrible stuff daily.  For someone who apparently doesn’t suffer from schizophrenia or bipolar type one, that’s a not-insubstantial dosage.”

“While we’re on that subject,” he began.  “I’d like your permission, please, to contact her…”

[…my heart sank…]

“…because I’d just like to say that I know that you’re finding things difficult right now, and just double check that she’s OK that we’re still working together.”

“She’ll say ‘no’,” I said, my voice laden with substantial regret.

When he asked why, I decided that honesty was the best policy; perhaps NewVCB might have insulted the ability of the counsellors from Nexus in her wariness of my attending them, but that was her issue, not mine. So I told him what she said in September, namely that she felt the psychotic nature of my reactions to issues in therapy were likely to be “too strong” for Nexus to deal with.

Obviously, in the case of Paul, this could not be further from the truth, and I told him that it was my view that he was clearly far more experienced in this specific type of symptomatology than the likes of C, for whom NewVCB had had “a lot of respect”.

Paul replied by giving me a brief verbal CV.  He trained at a therapeutic community organisation specialising in people with really severe psychoses, and quite often was the lone supervisor of the house(s) over weekends. “It was lovely,” he recalled, his mind wandering briefly in happy nostalgia.

Much as I have psychotic episodes, I doubt that they could be classed as “really severe”.  They are usually transient, rather than florid, and furthermore I mostly retain at least peripheral rational awareness during them.  “I suppose I’m a bit easier to deal with then,” I laughed, though without much humour.

He said, “you’re a pleasure to deal with.”

That took me unawares.  What the fuck is remotely pleasurable about being with me, especially in this dubious context, and why would he want to give me the satisfaction of knowing it?

I was kind of mortified to find myself blushing slightly.  I don’t deal well with compliments – I never have.  “Don’t be silly,” I told him, looking down, beyond his gaze.

“Why is that silly?” he inevitably questioned.

When I didn’t immediately respond, Paul smiled in a rather satisfied manner and said, “yes, that was a big challenge for you, wasn’t it?”

“Well, not really.  I can’t see how listening to this infernal whinging for 50 minutes every week can be anything other than a pain in the arse.  But then…well, I have to spend every minute with me.  Not a huge deal of fun.”

“You can’t be that big a pain in the arse,” he retorted.

“Why?”

“How many years have you and A been together?”

Such a sly question.  “Nearly eight,” I admitted.

“So, he can’t think you’re that much of a pain in the arse.”

“But…”

Paul raised an eyebrow sternly at me.  Not in a Fuck You, You Back-Talking, Defiant Cunt sort of way, but in the way a decent school teacher or even grandparent might do, as a sort of friendly warning that pressing further was pointless and/or damaging.

He said, “I look forward to the 50 minutes I spend with you each week.”

My visceral response would be to contest such a statement, but instead I heard myself thanking him.  He nodded warmly in response.  Was it possible that he actually meant what he was saying?  That he actually did enjoy working with me?  But, if so, how could that be?!

Randomly, he brought up my mother again, before I could think of something to say to him.  He said that my mother’s inability to ‘contain’ what has happened to me was, somehow, hugely significant.

“It’s a strange one,” I admitted, citing the dichotomy between her history of not believing me regarding what happened with Paedo versus how nice she had been on the day that I’d gone so horribly psychotic.

“What would have been the best thing she could have done that day?” he asked.  I didn’t know.

I thought about it for a long time, but could only come up with the answer of “ply me with Zopiclone and send me to bed.”

I told him so.  “Think of it in terms of a child’s needs,” he pressed.  “What does a child need when it’s hurt or poorly?  It needs to be wrapped up and have its pain taken away, doesn’t it?”

Does it?  I heard myself make some foreign-sounding utterance of acquiescence, but the truth is that I don’t know.  I don’t know anything about children, nor do I particularly wish to.  I have never even been one, except in a sort of official, census-gathering sort of way.  Well, not unless you count bloody Aurora, anyway.

In any case, his point was that I should have been comforted, taken care of, protected even from all this bad stuff – a “reasonable request”, apparently, both in terms of the abused child and in terms of my ill adult self, given that I am still my mother’s daughter.

I elected to defend my mother.  “She didn’t know Paedo was fucking me,” I told him.  “And she’s dealt with hideous trauma in her own life, and…”

“You’re putting this big adult head on again,” Paul interrupted.

“Sorry.”

“You’re analysing, understanding everything – except what the child felt.”  His tone was sympathetic, but nonetheless distinctly authoritative.  Why is it that all therapists hate rational, considered, intelligent thinking? C did too, though he was easier to seduce into certain intellectual discourses, probably because I was (for a patient) fairly well-versed in some of his favourite subject areas.  “Just remind me,” Paul continued, still in this teacher-tone, “of what age you were when all this took place.”

I was surprised by the question, because I thought he ought to have known the answer from previous meetings.  I realised as soon as I had said, “between the ages of five and 10, if memory serves me,” that he did know the answer; he was getting me to acknowledge the reality verbally in order to make his point.  Which was the usual cack that a child doesn’t understand these overwhelmingly horrible things, can’t/doesn’t rationalise his/her responses to them, that they feel dirty, shameful, guilty.

“And what does that damaged child, going back to Mum, want?” he asked.

“Comfort,” I responded flatly, as if he had defeated my I don’t give a fuck attitude, leaving me metaphorical adrift at sea.

“And if the child can’t get it, what happens?”

I struggled to find a term that seemed like a fair approximation of my views/feelings/whatever on the issue.  I said, “I’m thinking that the child looks for an alternative way to cope – I know, I know – that’s not how it feels [I shot him a droll glance acknowledging my disgust in using the word].”

“You’re standing there, in front of Mum, having been through what you’ve just been through…”

I quietly thanked him for avoiding the actual terminology for the experience to which he was referring.

“…you’re in a lot of pain, you’re terrified.  What do you do with all that nasty stuff?  The fantasy is that Mum wraps you up and takes care of you.  The reality is that your voice has been taken from you.”

I tried to think of some witty retort about extra voices being given to me, but I couldn’t think of any such quip before Paul spoke again.  I would have made a terrible Oscar Wilde.

“Forget alternative ways of coping – what do you do with all this pain and fear?”

“Push it away, I suppose.  Hide it somewhere.  I don’t want to use the word ‘forgotten’, because I don’t think any of it has been entirely forgotten, but you know what I mean.”

“Freud said, ‘nothing is ever forgotten’,” Paul interjected.

I nodded.  That seems like a reasonable assessment of how the human mind can often work.

“So it seems to me,” he went on, “that these feelings of misplaced guilt, shame, self-disgust and so on become the perfect breeding ground for these belligerent voices.”

“It’s self-destruction, isn’t it?” I suggested.  For a while I verbally pondered on the idea, then found myself laughing at the fact that I tried to strangle myself at the age of nine.  It’s not that suicide is funny, but the fact that I thought strangling myself was an even vaguely possible method of doing myself in is, to me, darkly amusing.

Paul does not agree.  He said that someone so young being in so much pain is far from hilarious.  He asked me what I would have thought if had it been another child.  He was right; it wasn’t funny.

We had a brief philosophical discussion on the use of humour as commentary on traumatic and unfortunate events.  We concluded that it was a coping mechanism and, to use his term, that it stops people having to “engage”.

He thinks this is key to my current difficulties.  I strategise, plan and disseminate all thing, all of the time, in order to avoid engagement with what Aurora/I went through, and how that (a) made her feel and (b) makes me now feel.  However, ‘They’ don’t want to disengage; they’re there to remind me of what really happened, apparently.

“No matter how well defence mechanisms work, they always have side-effects,” he said.  “Neurosis, dreams, whatever.  And in your case, psychosis.”

I was interested to note that he had alluded, however briefly, to the subject of dreams.  I decided it might be worth discussing a few of my recent ones with him.

The one I told him about in most detail was the one where I had infiltrated an abuser’s gang, but in doing so had unfortunately ‘acquired’ into my own ‘possession’ children and animals that were in line to be abused.  I accused myself of “self-serving narcissism” by being horrified when being caught by the police, rather than having a reaction of relief that the victims were going to be made safe.

“In your eyes, you’re ‘guilty’ of the abuse,” Paul replied.  “It’s one of the things that your defence mechanisms is protecting; your disgust about being an apparently guilty person.  Whatever happened to you, you seduced them.  You were so powerful, after all [a wry head-nod].  You made them do all these things that they didn’t want to do.  All these men could be seduced by your power.”

“If only that had happened later in my life,” I quipped, unable to help myself.  Maybe I can be Oscar Wilde after all.

I was quite surprised when he laughed heartily, given as humour (if it can be so termed) is apparently such a debilitating defence mechanism of mine.  He did acknowledge that through his laughter, and I apologised for my flippancy.  Nevertheless, I was slightly impressed with myself for being able to make him laugh.  Go me.

We discussed dreams a bit more, and he encouraged me to keep a dream diary (which I’ve been trying to do, but it’s so very difficult when you wake up from them, especially when they’ve been frightening and/or vivid). One of the things that apparently struck him as I talked about the dreams was my insecure attachment; that there was nobody I could ultimately trust for security, and that I, too, fail at every hurdle.  “So it’s everybody’s fault,” he said.  “Except the abuser’s, that is.”

I berated myself for apparently blaming my mother for a lot of stuff at both conscious and unconscious levels, but was once again advised that I was wearing my adult head.  To a child, a mother is omnipresent. Apparently Aurora did not understand that her mother wouldn’t see what Paedo was doing, or would not somehow automatically know.  “That little girl” expected her mother to come and rescue her, apparently.

I must stop using the word ‘apparently’.

I rambled for a few minutes on the ‘normality’ of the situation.  At what point did abuse become normal for me? How would I know that it was somehow strange and inappropriate for adults to have sex with children?  If you don’t have a frame of reference, then does it simply become your normality?

He noticed that my ability to articulate what I meant was lacking, an inability to say certain words or phrases being one of the more somatic effects that he has observed in me before.  He thinks it’s significant because the whole thing centres on an failed communication; I was unable to express my pain as a child, and as an adult (in physical terms, at least), my anger or frustration is depicted by slashing my arms or turning psychotic.

“I was thinking about the incident you described to me last week,” I told him.  “The one where the lady had seen this bloke raping a child, and that the most disturbing element of it for her was that the child knew what she was doing.  I was thinking about how much that wasn’t dissimilar to my own case.”

“To give you back your own words, ‘it hurt, but not as much as it should have done’,” he returned.

There was a pause during which we both considered the implications of such a statement, then he said, “children who are repeatedly abused have to learn how to keep their abusers happy, for the sake of mere survival.  Unhappy abusers do even more vile things.  So I would imagine that there were times when you became what they ‘needed’ you to become: a sexually active child.”

He relayed some stories of which he had been apprised by the police of sexualised children, which made me feel physically sick.  I don’t remember gyrating my hips when men came into the room like one girl he described, but I do recall reacting in some deeply societally inappropriate ways.  I do not want to get into the specifics of that here, and neither did I convey it there.

We talked a little about some tangentially related issues, but then he checked the clock, saw that we were over time, and sighed.  “I always find that these sessions pass so quickly,” he said regretfully.  I agreed.

“Do I have to be concerned right now?” he asked, in reference to suicidal ideation and other serious mentalist issues.  I appreciated the fact that he assumed that I was capable of being honest with him in my answer.

I assured him that I was (relatively speaking) fine.

We talked briefly about my upcoming appointment with NewVCB, and he reiterated his experience in the arena of severe psychosis.  Apparently he trained under quite an eminent psychiatrist too.  I began to feel more confident that I could talk NewVCB round, and we parted on the usual convivial terms.  Unfortunately, due to the bastarding snow and bastarding Shitmas, I haven’t seen him since.  He is due back tomorrow, thankfully.

NewVCB

Despite having felt reassured by Paul’s employment and training history, as well as my own perpetually positive experiences with him, I was still worried that NewVCB was going to be annoyed that I had gone to Nexus against her expressed wishes.  On the other hand, I was enraged that I was meant to have seen her in fucking October, and here we were half-way through December.  I had hopeful visions in which I stormed into her room, righteous indignation pulsating through my veins, accusing her of being just as useless and ineffective as the rest of the Trust and demanding answers.  The fantasy made me smile, but mainly for ironic reasons.  I knew that I would go to the appointment shaking, sit quietly in the waiting room for a few minutes, and then submit to her like some kind of little lapdog.

In the end the appointment passed quickly; I don’t think I was with her any more than 15 minutes, and it could have been a good deal less.  The key thing about it, though, was (as noted here) the fact that she profusely apologised, unsolicited, about not having seen me as planned in October.  She said that she really had no idea what had happened, but that she guessed it was attributable to her secretary having been off ill for quite a while, and the replacement temp being unfamiliar with the systems.

She said, “if this ever happens again – and I sincerely hope it doesn’t -please, please phone and ask to speak to me, and I’ll sort it out.”

I regarded her with slight incredulity.

“You do know that you’re allowed to phone me, don’t you?” she asked, her brow furrowed.

“No…I didn’t actually,” I admitted.

“Well, you are.  So long as you don’t ring every few hours like some of my patients, it’s all part of the service we offer.”

“So,” I began, my head tilted in thought, “if I’m in some sort of crisis that’s not quite Crisis Team crisis, I can contact you, can I?”  I’d rather contact Satan himself than the Crisis Team, mind you, but I withheld that piece of information from her.

“Of course,” she said, nodding emphatically.  “That’s what we’re here for.”

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised – I mean, what are they paid for if not to treat their fucking patients – but meh: I was surprised.  It would perhaps have been helpful if someone – C, OldVCB, Mr Director-Person, anyone – had at some point advised me of my rights and limitations within Services, but I am assuming that for most of them that would have been too sensible a course of action.

And so the discussion eventually fell to Paul.  I told NewVCB that I was offered ongoing therapy with Nexus well before I had expected to get it (true), and that the Nice Lady That Works for Nexus had gone to a lot of trouble to ensure that it the treatment was with Paul specifically (probably not true).  I said that, knowing I had no immediate appointments with her, that I had to make what I felt was the best decision in the circumstances, and that it had been to go ahead and take up their offer of therapy with Paul.

All through my little soliloquy she nodded acceptingly, tilted her head in interest, and half-smiled in reassurance.  In short: she didn’t mind that I had done what she told me not to do.  She appeared to understand and accept that for the most part I retain some semblance of rationality, and am thus usually capable of making my own decisions about what I feel is best for me.

I told her, in brief, of how I felt that Paul was “virtually written for me” and then relayed to her the information he’d given me about his training.

NewVCB was impressed.  It turns out that she does outreach work with the organisation in question, and has very high regard for the work that they do.

I told her that Paul was interested in speaking to her regarding our work together, and she said that although she was now more than happy for me to continue seeing him, that she felt it would be useful to be in touch with him anyway so that all involved in my immediate care were on the same wavelength.

Inevitably, I had to tell her about the dissociative/psychotic episode, but as with Paul I was very reluctant to detail the childlike speaking as a manifestation of an alter.  To that end, I played it down grossly, but I was honest with her about ‘They’.

However, ever-fearful that she would suddenly change her mind about Paul, I started blaming the incident on the triggering nature of Christmas rather than on being an unfortunate by-product of therapy.  I was honest about how depressed I’ve been over the last few months, but again attributed to the season.  Though perhaps that is an accurate explanation for it, I don’t know.

She said, “I’d rather not make any medication changes at the minute, Pandora.  I think it’s possible things may be easier after Christmas, and would prefer to see you in January before I make any decisions on whether to modify doses.”

This was music to my ears.  I hate medication increases, especially with evil Venlafaxine which sends me round the bend for several weeks until I adjust, physiologically and mentally, to the higher dose.  I confirmed that I was happy to wait and see whether or not any medication changes were necessary, and that was the end of the appointment really.  She assured me that she would definitely see me in January, and that if I didn’t receive an appointment letter within a fortnight, to phone her to avoid another silly mess.  She apologised again for the fuck up.

I did indeed receive the appointment letter, and am due to see her again the week after next.

As I was leaving, I wished her a happy Christmas.  I was grateful that she didn’t insult me by returning the wish.

Meh

Right, that’s me finally caught up with all major appointments.  I feel cautiously fortunate, for once, in having the personnel I do ‘caring’ for me.  Paul is an extraordinarily insightful and intelligent therapist, and I actually do feel like NewVCB gives a fuck about and wants the best for me.  Not everyone has those kind of luxuries in this bollocks of a system.

Anyhow, if you are still reading this dirge, you have done well and I salute you.  Goodbye.

Obligatory 2010 in Review Post

So, I come to the end of another year as a mental health blogger – and, judging by the fact that I have not given up on the whole endeavour, as I expected I would, I must be doing something that is not quite as shit as the stuff that clings to the pipes leaving the toilet that deals with the majority of my IBS-ridden concerns. At least, I hope that is what it means; I still don’t think much of what I do here, and don’t really understand the moderate success this site.

Anyhow, there is almost fuck all other than this blog to show for another year of respiration, though I have a suspicion that my customary verbosity will disguise that fact admirably in the forthcoming prose. This time last year I wrote a review of the seven months I had then been blogging, and find myself amused that a period of nearly twice the length in question – ie. the 12 months of this year – is full of much less material of any meaningful worth. I may be able to count this blog as one thing that has been worthwhile in 2010 (and I do), but to be honest, there is almost damn all else.

I mean, 2009 was shit – but at least some stuff actually happened.  For instance, I lost my job in a mental health charity for being a mental health charity case. I received my first proper diagnoses, catapulting me to the ranks of a proper mental. I developed psychosis and watched myself sink into a spiral of dissociated mess. I was ordered to murder my baby cousin on Christmas Day. Fun? No.  Not at all. But at least it was vaguely interesting: shit actually took place.  This year, analysing it retrospectively, has been mind-numbingly, uneventfully, unwaveringly dull.

But, re-engaging my narcisssism gear, let me attempt to dissect something of it, in a fashion similar to that employed this time last year.

TEH BAD!!!1!!!!eleven!!!!11!!!!

In 2010, I hated, became frustrated with/annoyed by, and send poxes in the general direction of:

  • my abject failure to kill myself (pathetically, at that) at the start of the year. It wasn’t my finest moment, but it’s a sign of how desperate I was…well, obviously it was a sign of how desperate I was – people don’t tend to attempt suicide because they’re bored or think it will be funny or something. Anyhow, it was not so much the really woefully awful suicide attempt that was such a ‘bad’ thing; it was the infernal, hateful, despicable A&E extravaganza that became the attempt’s incidental and dubious side order. I don’t even think the relevant post captures the overwhelming feeling of one’s brain decaying before one’s very eyes (not literally, obviously. I mean, obviously! But it certainly felt that way on a metaphorical level). Certainly not one of my more enjoyable all-nighters.
  • the cessation of therapy with C. I can’t provide you with a link to a specific post (this takes you to a list of posts about him) because, despite the fact that I was booted out of his care in August, I have still been unable to bring myself to review the final sessions on this blog – or, even, in my own mind. I (audibly) recorded the final (I think) five meetings; my rationale for doing so was that I knew there would be material discussed therein that concerned my lengthy anti-discharge complaint (see below) – stuff that the Trust might well be inclined to deny. Evidence, in other words. It wouldn’t be the first time they’ve tried to lie to me.  Anyway, a by-product of such aural subterfuge was that I had all the material to capably write-up the final sessions – but the thing is, I can’t bring myself to listen to any of it. I accidentally clicked on one file in iTunes the other week, and upon hearing C’s soft voice, to find how much I still reacted. It was a bizarre, indescribable combination of regret, disgust (at him and his employers), longing, bitterness, sadness, hypervigilance and bewilderment. And thus it all remains unwritten – for those of you that seem to derive some sort of vicarious enjoyment from my therapy session reviews, I apologise.  But hopefully the stuff with Paul (see below) suffices?
  • the endlessly circular and frustrating palaver with the Trust complaint and Mr Director-Person. Seriously, what utter, utter cunts. Every time I got a letter from the putridly elf-like Mr D-P I felt violent, primal urges which had hitherto been alien to me. What an unspeakable wanker. Seriously, what a twat! A fucker of the highest order. Bellended fucking cockhead. Bastarding, twatting…Sorry. I could rant all day. Moving on (…), the more he became a jargon-obsessed, targets-driven fuckstain of absolutely evil fuckery of cuntitude, the more tenacious and pissed off I became, to the point where they actually had to take him specifically out of the picture and instead involve Mr Chief Executive. I’m currently waiting on my medical notes detailing my entire psychiatric history and a meeting with an advocate (see below); thereafter, I am taking up an offer from Mr C E to meet the Head of Psychology and the Assistant Director of Mental Health to “discuss the way forward”. I fully intend to win this fight.
  • dealing with the realisations – or, more accurately, dealing with admitting the realisations – of my childhood abuse in therapy. See here, for example. However, I class confessing to C about the sheer extent of things as a positive development, so in that sense see below. The hallucinatory fallout from the admission wasn’t exactly a barrel of laughs, however.
  • the worry that my family had found this blog (which suddenly exploded all over again yesterday). That would have been a disaster of the like I have never experienced…but, through all the clouds of the associated drama, I saw one slither of silver shining through: I will not be silenced because of those arseholes. I’ve banned suspicious IPs from reading and will continue to do so as necessary. If the family are reading, if they don’t like what I write here…well. If they don’t like it then they can go to hell.
  • the fucking DLA changes and the comprehensive spending review. Nearly as effective a manual for suicide as that penned by Geo Stone in 2001.
  • the recollection of the gang rape. It’s always been something on the fringes of my awareness, and I suppose I was compartmentalising – something at which I am highly skilled – and hiding it away. In a sense it’s a good thing that I admitted it to myself (to Paul – see below for more on him), but although I know that intellectually, it was still very, very hard to ruminate on.
  • planning, and un-planning, to kill myself (again) at the start of October.  This is bad from all angles: if you are a nice anti-mentalist who for whatever fucked up reason thinks I am remotely less than shite, then you might be sorry that I so deeply planned this, and that I know exactly how to do it should the compulsion consume me once more. If you’re me then you see it as a bad thing too – I still can’t even end my life successfully.  Another moronic failure of a not-necessarily-difficult task. How much longer will this silly little dance continue?!
  • feeling the effects of the intensity of my new therapy with Paul was difficult. In the long-run, such intense work is a good thing, I’m certain – but in the short-term, it frankly fucking sucks.
  • going mental in Newcastle.  Actually, I look back on this with a certain amount of humour – I mean, an (admittedly, in the grand scheme of things, low level) experience similar to Cotard’s Delusion is quite amusing – but it was horrible at the time. I wrote that post whilst bizarrely feeling quite hypomanic, but shortly afterwards I was lying in a toilet somewhere retching and shaking like the local crack addict going cold turkey.  Not. Nice. At. All.
  • the usual perennial misery of Seasonal Affective Disorder, plus general late-year malaise and more side-effects of therapy.
  • meeting (and having A meetmy alter, a child that I’ve taken to calling Aurora. I hate her. I don’t know what else to say; her manifestation was – and is – an enormous development, but beyond expressing my abhorrence of her, I don’t know what I should discuss on the matter. She sucks.  The end.

TEH GOOD!!!1!!!!eleven!!!!11!!!!

But in 2010, I derived joy, pleasure, satisfaction or hope from:

  • changing my name via deed poll at the start of 2010 – in order that I may be dissociated from V, the human male responsible for a spermatozoa implanting itself into an ovum produced by my mother, and his kin, Georgie and Merv – and am still confident that my decision to do so was the correct one.  My mother hasn’t entirely come to terms with it, and perhaps she never will, but that’s her issue. It is amusing to watch the rest of the family try and almost perpetually fail to remember it. I find myself wondering if they would be so forgetful if I had changed my name through marriage. I suspect that the outdated cunts would not be thus disabled.
  • meeting NewVCB, my new consultant psychiatrist, in January of this year. That first meeting was perhaps slightly dubious, but in fairness it was just after I slit my wrists (see above), so it wasn’t the best time for the encounter to take place. In general, the relationship is a fairly good one, and I do think she wants the best for me.
  • Seroquel, as prescribed by the aforementioned NewVCB in the aforementioned first appointment. Life-saver. Stick your anti-psychiatry wank up your arse; this drug has not only saved me from probable section and possibly a descent into completely florid psychosis, it has also saved my very life. I don’t give a fuck if you think I should be “mindfully breathing” and not accepting “overly pathological” “labels” (a term I loathe with a passion) and the “Big Pharma conspiratorial pushing” of these “mind controlling” drugs. I really could not give less of a fuck. Seroquel has made my life less shit. (Oooh, wah wah, it’s a placebo man, don’t you get it, haven’t you examined the real evidence [yes, that utterly non-biased body of ‘work’ – why, actually, yes – I have!], wah wah wah, gaaaah, mmmmmooooaaaaannnnnn – look: do fuck off, people. The record is stuck and it’s getting fucking boring now. Cheers).
  • another diagnosis: this time of complex post-traumatic stress disorder. I get the impression that NewVCB isn’t entirely keen on the application of what she terms “emotionally unstable personality disorder” (I much prefer the DSM’s ‘borderline’ myself, as in reference to my specific case at least I find it a more accurate description of the condition – not true of all those thus diagnosed, I know). It is, after all, the most stigmatised diagnosis in psychiatric history, for reasons that I still don’t entirely understand. Anyway, being diagnosed as having C-PTSD was a positive thing in the sense that I could perhaps start accepting that maybe the fault, if there indeed is any apportion-able blame, for my turning out as the unemployed and unemployable tosspot that I am lies elsewhere, and is not as internal as I often attempt to portray. (Hmm. That’s easy to say…).
  • lovely blog awards of joy. I don’t write this journal for such recognition, but it’s certainly an honour to have some sort of impact on others’ lives. Firstly I received a runner-up’s prize from Mental Nurse, later a ‘Top 25 PTSD’ Award from Medical Assistant Schools, then in early December a ‘Top Ten Health Blog‘ award from Blogger’s Choice Awards and finally, completing the circle, more from Mental Nurse in the form of first place for both the “Personality Disorders” and “Psychotherapy” categories (there were a few others along the way, too). I can’t work out what I’ve done to deserve these, but I’m delighted and humbled nevertheless. In all sincerity – thank you.
  • admitting to C just how chronic and systematic my experiences of child sex abuse at the hands of my uncle had been. I mean, putting it into actual, verbal words. I had been completely incapable of saying what needed to be said for weeks (arguably months, arguably even years), and finally doing so felt like an achievement for some reason. It’s just a shame that when I was finally able to let him peel back all those nefarious layers that he kicked me out of therapy. Cheers, NHS!
  • this blog celebrating its first birthday in May. Yay! I’m still so glad started to write it.
  • a holiday! Yay yay 😀
  • the Mad Up – a carnival wherein a range of UK mental health bloggers descended upon a London park and, later, a London pub, to meet the faces behind the writings. It was truly a privilege to meet such an amazingly courageous and charismatic group of people, and I enjoyed their company immensely.
  • PAUL!!!!! A similar yet somehow distinctly different type of therapist to C, Paul is very, very definitely A Good Thing. I knew that as soon as I first met him, and the consensus from my A, my friends and those of you that comment here seems to be universally in his favour. I consider myself very fortunate to have met him, especially when I had been so (unfairly) dubious about the Nexus Institute.
  • telling Paul that my abusers psychologically tortured me too. I had told A of this, but I had been drinking on that occasion – discussing it verbally in an entirely sober state was something of an achievement, I felt, even though I can’t quite work out why that is my view.
  • Twitter and the Madosophere, once again. This year I’d particularly like to thank bourach at Conversations With My Head, Phil Groom, the artist formerly known as Lola Snow, Autumn DelusionsBippidee, Magic Plum, Useless CPNMaybe Borderline, Seaneen, Karita, Zarathustra of Mental NurseSplintered Ones, Sanabitur Anima Mea, and Titflasher. ❤ to all of you, andindeed to many more – I’ve felt particularly supported and/or entertained and/or understood by this lot, but it doesn’t mean that others haven’t been brilliant either.
  • My wonderful friends – Daniel, Brian, CVM, Annie, K, and A’s family and friends have all been brilliant this year, as they are every year. For those of you that read this – I think it’s about five of you – thank you from…no, not the bottom of my heart; I don’t want the arteries leaving said organ to squirt blood all over you, after all. Thank you from somewhere much more psychologically meaningful; the part of my brain that controls positive feelings and affection.
  • A and Mum. Mum has her moments in which she frustrates me, but generally our relationship is fairly good at present, and she has been mostly supportive throughout the year.  A, as ever, has managed to not kill me in his own quiet, unassuming way, and I am perennially grateful and touched for his love and support.

Site Info

I moved this blog from its previous home at http://serialinsomniac.wordpress.com to the self-hosted domain with which you are now familiar in January 2010.  I think it was about half-way through the month and at that stage the blog had about 17,000 hits, mainly from referrals from other blogs and sites that quoted or linked to my drivel.

As you can see from the relevant section of the right-sidebar, I now have over 200,000 hits. Some of the volume has been from being listed on blog aggregation sites and whatnot, but most of it now comes from searches. One advantage of self-hosted WordPress blogs is that it’s easy to install plug-ins that make relevant posts easily found by relevant Google searches.

In worldwide terms, 200,000 hits is what some blogs get in 10 minutes – but Confessions was never intended nor expected to reach such heady heights, and to that end I am grateful for what is for me a surprisingly high amount of visitation. Moreover, I am grateful to and platonically in love with all the personnel behind the statistics – I am now in the enviable position where I can class several of you as real life friends, and even where that is not the case, I care deeply about all of you that comment, read regularly, and engage via other media such as Twitter and Facebook. Thank you all.

The most frequent referrers to this site are StumbleUponTwitterBlogSurferBippidee and Mental Nurse.

The most read post by a substantial margin is Thoughts on the DLA Changes in the Budget, with over 5,000 unique hits. To my utter astonishment, the words ‘DLA changes’, a term that one would have expected to lead to a governmental outline of the modifications of the benefit, renders this post as the first result in some Google searches. Wow.

Other popular posts are:

The most read static pages are, probably unsurprisingly, About the Autho (2,300 hits) and The Alter Ego (900 hits). All of these figures are rounded up or down to the nearest 50.

The most popular search terms landing here are ‘(confessions of a) serial insomniac (blog)’, ‘dla changes [or many analogous terms]’, ‘c-ptsd‘, ‘akathasia‘ and, rather amusingly, ‘nadine dorries‘.

[EDIT: Over Mental Nurse, I’ve just noted some of my favourite random search terms that seem to have fuck all to do with most of what I write.  I thought I should include them here too.  They are: ‘marsha linehan is a fucking bitch‘ (well said!), ‘mum sex‘ (um…), ‘psychodynamic masterbate [sic]’ (oh yes, give me some Freudian lovin’), ‘already oppressive with his worthless refrains, will perhaps be the ultimate exterminator of our human species—if separate species we be—for his reserve of unguessed horrors could never be borne by mortal brains if loosed upon the world. if you think that that’s a frightening thought then consider‘ (OK, not really so random – the quote is on the sidebar.  Still loved that it got here, though) and ‘day of the triffids sexist‘ (yes, gender disenfranchisement was my first concern when giant carnivorous plants decided to take over the world and eat everyone and everything.  Politics is so important at such a time).  If you were one of the above searchers, thank you for entertaining me throughout the year! 😀

EDIT II:  Just spotted these gems in the stats of recent days: ‘thefundingmentalists‘ (don’t know why but it made me laugh – I’m guessing it has something to do with the spending cuts, and is therefore wonderfully appropriate),’will she fuck someone else bpd‘ (yep, all we can do is whore about; there is literally nothing else in our lives ((*watches this blog vanish forthwith*))), ‘hate it blog‘ (yes, given my general nihilism, I probably hate it too), ‘illusion of child rape small xxxxx‘ (what the fuck?) and possibly the best: ‘how will i say goodbye after suicide?‘ (well, I suspect you’ll have to haunt your loved ones, because I don’t think your vocal chords are going to do it for you).]

People most often leave Confessions to head over to Conversations With My Head, Bippidee, Splintered Ones, Writing Myself Sane and Mentally Interesting (alas, the last two are no longer writing, at least for now. Love and hugs sent across the blogosphere to both Ophelia and Seaneen).

The most popular day to date on this blog was 23 June 2010, when there were 2,586 hits in total.

So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish

No, no, no, fear not: I’m not quitting blogging just yet – I just felt like saying that. I’m just signing off from this post, and anyway, it’s a nice phrase (if a strange one for those not familiar with the reference). In the absence of this quote, the title for this conclusion would have been ‘Meh’ or ‘Blah’ or something, and I thought an Adams allusion, inappropriate or otherwise, would be slightly more interesting.

I’m not enough of an optimist to start wishing everyone who reads this blog a happy new year, as I know mental illness and related maladies don’t necessarily lend themselves well to such hopes.  Furthermore, I know that the new year can be intensely triggering for some people – myself included, though mercifully not quite to the same degree as some (my main trigger of winter is, of course, Christmas). Still, the whole thing reminds one rather acutely of the inherent pointlessness of life and, in my case, the pointlessness of my life.

But, in some nebulous way, there is always the small chink of light somewhere that dictates that maybe, just maybe, the next 12 months will be vaguely less bollocks than the previous 12. So if you’ve had a tolerable 2010, I wish you a tolerable 2011. If you haven’t, I wish you a much better cycle of existence this time round.

Either way, you all have much love, affection and virtual hugs from little old me.

P ❤
xxx