Rubber, Meet Road

Hello,

I’m not doing very well today and i’m not sure what to say about that. There are terrible and private things going on in my life that i’ve no one to talk to about. I have a therapist, but money is very tight, and we can only afford for one person to be seeing her right now and that person is not me.

I have no close friendships and i’ve suspended my social media. I’m so dissociative right now that i don’t feel like i have enough self-control to be on there. Everything everyone says either frightens, angers, or hurts me. These things that i want someone to talk to about involve the only people i have to talk to…

I don’t know what to do. All i have is this little piece of cyberspace and i don’t know what inside me is currently fit to print.

I do NOT like crying and i can feel my throat tensing up. I’ve got that terrible, painful ache that lives in the space behind the bottom of my sternum. That ache that spreads behind my breastplate, reaching up to fill the gap between my shoulder blades. The headache i’ve had for weeks is now at full throb and my sinuses are swollen and painful. And there’s a piano on my chest playing anxious music that sounds like something from a 60s British horror film.

Okay, i just took an hour’s break from this.

I’ll confess that i’ve been so low that i let my personal hygeine slip last night and this morning. Hey, i wasn’t dirty or smelly okay? Just slow, heavy, tired… sad. But y’all can read other blog posts that refer to the importance of regularity and regimen in my life, and particularly in this area. Clean house, clean person. I have set these routines in place when i was in a better frame of mind, to help get me through the times when i wasn’t quite myself.

So i thought, “Well, that will be a positive thing i can put in my blog, which will be better than going full Eeyore.”

Never go full Eeyore.

So i got up and stripped off my pajamas that i’d been in all day, and i dragged my unwashed arse into the shower. After that i did my skincare and took proper care of my teeth. I even flossed and gargled. Heck, i also lotioned and spritzed and put on a clean outfit.
In part, so i could come here and report that i’d done it.
I’d set that in place, too. So yay me.  /ns (not sarcastic)

Honestly, i didn’t feel much better. A little better, but still so low.
I had defeating thoughts. Like, “It didn’t help. Nothing’s gonna help,” and “I’m not gonna get through this without screwing up.”

Anyone who deals with this sort of self talk may be able to relate when i share that i almost bought in to those thoughts. I mean, that’s what has usually happened, right? I feel this way and i can’t get out from under it. So there’s this feeling of inevitability. And then there’s the lack of energy or fighting spirit. These feelings use up so much energy. I spend most of my will coping, with not much left with which to fight. None left to fight, it seems to my exhausted mind.

But i think about what could happen if i give in and stop trying/fighting:

– police involvement,
– involuntary commitment,
– suicidal feelings/attempts,
– pain and suffering for my loved ones,
– loss of my “streak” and at least some modicum of starting over.

So i tried to focus on getting supper ready.
My worldview shrank to very small chunks of time. Minutes.

Hang in there until my husband gets home.
Put finishing touches on pot roast.
Set table.
Distract myself with an engrossing program.

I made it until he got home. I’d shared with him by text that i’d lost a large part of the day and was not doing well mentally/emotionally.
He was gentle and kind and asked concerned questions when he got home.
He provided a buffer between me and a somewhat contentious teenager (hey, it happens, and he doesn’t know how awful my day has been).
They enjoyed the meal and said so.

After supper my husband hugs me and says how sorry he is about my day.
He asks if there’s anything he can do to help.
I say he’s already helped some, and i thank him. He works 12hrs a day, 6 days/wk, and so i keep supper late, and he sits down to eat before he showers, so that we can eat together as a family, before our son retires to his room.
While he’s showering i’m sitting right here and staring at this screen, trying to think of what to type. I want to be both honest and uplifting.

And that is when i realise that i can be.

You know what?
I’m in trouble. My mental health has been threatened by a terrible event and things could go very badly for me.
I have done all this hard work because, not only do i want to be happy and good, but i know that my mental illness can be a serious impediment to achieving those things. Especially when life happens. Which it does and it always will.

So i am sitting here with my fingers poised over my keyboard – waiting for something inspiring and poetic and deep and true to zing into existence inside my brain and zap my fingers into a rhythmic ratatat-tat on these blasted keys.

Last night my busy, busy, anxious AF brain wouldn’t let me sleep, so i made 4 1/2 dozen refrigerator cookies. Chocolate Haystacks, a childhood favourite.

Today i realised that i’d lost time and i texted my husband and told him i was in a bad place.

I knew things could go badly and i knew i didn’t want them to and i knew that it’s up to me to cope.
I reminded myself that my brain works in weird and fantastical ways, and i may not handle things as well as i -or anyone else for that matter- might like.

Today, i made a labour-intensive, slowcooker pot roast, while switched.

I have made it through the day without going full Eeyore.

While i am not currently suicidal, i can feel it, looming in the background like dark wings ready to fly. Whatever comes i feel even more committed and competent to handle it than i did yesterday. And that is a reasonable expectation realised.

This piece may have a metric fuck-tonne of mistakes in it, but i think i should post it without proofreading. That’s something i never do, but i don’t want to overthink this and end up not posting because it’s so raw and lacking any flowery accoutrement. I admit i checked my spelling of the fancy French word. Heh.

Love and Peace and THANK YOU,

~H~

So, That Happened

The other day everything exploded. Why doesn’t matter. It happens to everyone. A bomb goes off in your life and then you lay there dazed and check if all your parts are still attached. I went immediately into shock . I was numb, but really panicky. I recognised the gravity of what had happened and i knew right away, that THIS MOMENT is where the rubber hits the road. All the work i’ve done in order to beat the odds. To find a way to live with my past and to live with my crazy and be useful and good and happy. These things happen to everyone and one major reason for all this work i’ve done is so that when crisis hits, i handle it without wrecking my world. I made an appointment with my therapist for the next day.

After Tuesday’s dazed, numb, and panicky, was Wednesday’s hurt. It reopened that pit inside me that sucks everything into it. That ache that begins way back in the ether of my emotions that i imagine filling up my insides instead of my guts. Emotional pain always has an affect on Fibromyalgia, and so my flare-up, well, flared up. Anxiety was there too, of course. Sitting on my chest and somehow reaching inside and squeezing everything with frantic fists. It hurt to breathe. I went to a group of online friends that i’ve had for over 10yrs now, to let them know i was going through something awful, and could really use their support in the coming days. They’re perfect for me because, as i discussed in my prior post – i don’t people much anymore, but i still like and need people. They’ve been there for me since it happened, and i return to them daily just to check in emotionally and reaffirm that i’m okay. That part is important for me, of course. I’m not really telling them I’m okay, so much as i’m telling myself. I’m still here, still breathing, and the world is still in one piece.

I had a phone appointment with my therapist, and as soon as i heard her voice i felt more grounded. Her voice reminds me of years of work. Years spent figuring out how to deal with the ugliness and pain in my past, along with all the resultant dysfunction. Learning and practising new ways to think and to cope with thoughts, feelings, people, life. How to stay present at all times, no matter what’s happening around me or to me. It was an opportunity to speak directly to the crisis itself, and i felt heard and acknowledged. I listened to her suggestions and felt calmed. I had some educated and trustworthy perspective outside of my own. We made another appointment and i promised to touch base.

On Thursday i got angry. The first thing i want to say about that is how amazing it is that it took me so long. See, when i used to get hurt, you could count on one of two things happening. One, i shut down and disappear, or the other, I feel angry and i get mad. I go on the offensive. I attack. You hurt me and you’d better run, because i’ll come for you and hurt you. Not physically, but i’ll say things that will deeply wound you. I learned from a very young age how to read people. It was a survival mechanism that carried on past the constant imminent danger of my childhood. I didn’t know i was doing it, let alone that it wasn’t always particularly helpful in my quest for good relationships with other people, but it persisted and it’s only been in the last year that i’ve been making an effort to stop. So before around a year ago, if you hurt me, and i might read your personal mail to you. Strip you naked and make you look like a fool. Say things that might very well haunt you for a long time. Now, i only did that on a rare occasion, i usually just closed myself off from you and that was it. But the closer our relationship was, the larger the latter possibility loomed. Someone very close to me was the one to toss the grenade, and yet i didn’t even see the need to make a choice between get mad or dissociate until Thursday. That’s good.

And even better – i didn’t do either of those things. I did something completely different. Something i’ve been putting into practise for some time now. It’s taken a lot of practise, and will continue to take more. I have the angry conversation without the person being there. It’s a fine balancing act because i can easily dissociate, but if i couple the pretend conversation with grounding techniques (i.e. being present in my body and aware of my surroundings), it can be effective in deescalating any intense feelings.

I have a pretend conversation. Well, it’s one-sided in the literal sense, but mostly in the figurative one as well. I say -sometimes out loud and sometimes just in my head- the things i would say if i could let ‘er fly, so to speak. You see, my brain is never quiet. There are always conversations going on in there. So yes, now you know – i hear voices. (But they’re always mine, and they’re always inside my head, so i don’t hit on the shizophrenia spectrum, just in case you wondered.) My point is that my brain is always busy and always full. When something upsets me, the intensity of the conversations can rise, and even more voices can be added. This can cause what i call a “bursty” feeling, like my mind may explode. I begin to panic, partly because it’s overwhelming and frightening, but in recent years it’s also become because i know it leaves me vulnerable to dissociating, something i try not to do. So, i say all the vicious, hateful things that are inside my head -all the things that i would say if i really wanted to get under someone’s skin- within the bounds of an imaginary conversation, where the other person can’t be harmed. It’s like bleeding a pressure valve, which leaves more room for problem solving and positive thinking.

Which left me free to be sad on Thursday. Which i was. I felt heavy and hopeless and lonely. I felt numb and anxious and hurt. But i took care of myself and i took care of my house – we’re both clean. That is much improved from the last time i was hurt and upset this much. I was able to remember some of the things i’ve put in place and practised to live a better, happier life. I knew i’d feel even worse if i allowed my house to get messy, and didn’t try to cook some kind of meal for my family – even if all i could do was set the table and microwave something in a box. As i got up and began to do these things, only doing them because, while i didn’t expect to feel any better, i sure as hell didn’t want to feel any worse, i discovered i was able to do more than the bare minimum. And that did, in fact, make me feel better. Not just not worse, but actually better.

I kept in touch with my therapist and my online community once a day or so. Even just to say, Everything is awful, but i am alive and have no plans to change that. I was careful to maintain my schedule as much as possible, but i did allow more time in bed. I drank a bit too much, and i ate waaaay too much, but i knew i was doing it, that i was choosing it, that i was coping as well as i could while i processed what had happened and waited for the next appointment with my therapist. I tried to write a few times, but it was a minefield. I’ve banged out a bit here, but my mind fogs over really quickly, either that or i suddenly feel like crying, and i am currently avoiding crying like a junkie avoids their old neighbourhood. It’s a dangerous place to go, because who knows who you’ll meet and it’s hard to say No to some of those people.

***NOTE: This was the week of November 7-11. Although i’ve written something every day since, it’s devolved and not even as intelligible as this – if this is at all. I waited to publish it until i was certain it wasn’t just chock full o’ crazy, but i’m still not sure. In fact, i fear that i may be careening in slow motion towards some kind of head-on collision with something in the road that i can’t yet see… Something my son said to me yesterday encouraged me to post it anyway. I write this blog to try to help someone, to help anyone, to help even just one, by sharing how my brain works and how i try to cope and strive to be a happier and more functional human. I’m currently completely shut off from the rest of the world, and trying to piece together something to post for Monday the 12th of December at the latest. I’ve written a fair bit, but i don’t know what i’m willing to share and what i’m not. What would be helpful to me or you or both of us is hard for me to figure out right now. I’m not fully in control of my thoughts or actions as i’m in a highly dissociative state.

I’m hypervigilant right now. I’m easily hurt, and when i’m not quite myself, i’m liable to hurt back. I can’t do much about it except associate with people as little as possible.

And that’s where we’re at.

Thoughts That I Have Pt. II

“The heart wants what it wants.”

About that…

My heart gets it wrong. A LOT. I mean, a lot a lot. And my heart doesn’t “know” anything. It’s just one of the areas that manifest the feelings generated by the thoughts in my brain.* And as i’ve mentioned before, my brain doesn’t always work well or properly – and my choices in both sexual and non-sexual relationships is often a stark example of that fact. So yeah, sometimes i want relationships that aren’t good, healthy or otherwise beneficial to me. I’ve often heard it said the heart wants what it wants, and the tone of resignation that usually accompanies it. It seems to hint that one is helpless against its desires. That against the onslaught of emotions (especially romantic ones) i’m just along for the ride, and i should allow myself to be swept away. “Don’t fight it, H. The heart wants what it wants, after all.” Insert shrugged shoulders and a deep sigh.

It almost seems like an excuse to me. Like, i want the person i know isn’t a good choice to be in a relationship with, so i’m gonna blame the destructive inevitability of my heart’s desires to abdicate responsibility for this choice i am indeed making.

And so while i’m not gonna stop enjoying love expressed through art -the poems, ballads, epic romances, the sweeping historical novels and all the rest- i need to see it for what it is and what it is not. What it is, is the way we communicate with each other regarding how it can feel to care for someone. What it isn’t, is the organ with which i make decisions. Not simple ones like whether or not to return a passing smile, and certainly not much more complex ones like whom to marry and/or create a family.

You may think that’s obvious, and maybe it should’ve been, but it certainly wasn’t to me. Based on results, i was choosing my relationships on the whims of some nebulous idea that my heart was its own little person, with a mind of its own. I thought my heart always knew what was right for me, even if i didn’t know it intellectually. That –along with a large dose of religion and an absurd belief in romantic predestination– led me to make some (mostly) disastrous choices in both friends and intimate partners.

What happens in my heart when i meet someone i’m attracted to, whether for friendship or something more, isn’t something i should follow blindly. Nor am i helpless to resist such feelings. Sometimes my taste sucks, sometimes i’m just plain wrong, and sometimes the feelings simply aren’t reciprocated. Perhaps they aren’t returned as much as i’d like them to be, or (the worst) they stop being returned at all. That last one has happened to me many, many times.

Getting dumped is the absolute shits. It’s painful, and for me, embarrassing and shameful. I was the family scapegoat until i slipped their grasp, but i wasn’t able to shake the feeling that everything that went wrong around me was my fault. I was terrified of rejection and it caused reflexive blame, self-loathing, powerlessness, and a pervasive sense of doom. Quite often it also triggered depression or mania or other behaviors associated with my mental issues. Sometimes the price i paid was high, and often my children and eventually my husband paid, too.

My heart though? My heart just wanted them back. Every one of them. It wasn’t until i got distance from them along with some traction regarding my mental health that my feelings were gradually overridden by my brain. I see now some of them weren’t right for me, some of them were no longer a good fit, and some of them had done me a huge favour by leaving.

* Again with the obvious statements, i know.

IMAGE: Robb North