Swerve

There were many times before i was diagnosed, when not knowing how to handle my thoughts and feelings caused some wreckage. I don’t like looking at them, because they’re mostly mortifying, and because often when they occurred my multiplicity would be in play, so the details can be hard to recall. This week though, my mind keeps turning to some of these events, and i haven’t been able to shake the feeling that i need to examine them now, or i’m risking a return to those behaviours.

What i’m referring to is somewhat hard to define for a couple of reasons. One reason is because the emotions are so intense, the people who live in my brain take over, which often leaves me with little or no memory of what’s happened. Another is that scrutiny can be difficult just because the events precipitating them are unpleasant to recall, and my behaviour is so embarrassing to me that i must fight dissociation to even examine it. I’m sitting here with my morning cup of tea, my husband is beside me doing his morning guided meditation, and i’m struggling hard to concentrate. I was feeling out of sorts yesterday around suppertime, and so i went to bed early, thinking i’d read to relax and try to get some extra sleep in.
Ha. I woke every hour or so all night.

I’ve been going back to bed after the guys head off to work/school for this last week. I’m tired and not sleeping well, plus i’m still working on getting back to reading fiction, a thing that fell by the wayside when i began learning to deal with DID. I can and still do read a lot of non-fiction, but the imagination stuff was like skating on thin ice – i’d fall through the thin, brittle membrane that held me up, and begin flailing around in a panic, the cold, slushy soup of all those who live just underneath quickly deadening my limbs and pulling me down into the murk. I still struggle staying present while reading good fiction, but it’s worth every effort.

Allow me a brief digression from the topic at hand. I know that this  may be reading as a bit strange (maybe more like, HUH?), so let me try to make it a bit clearer.
My therapist told me that if some people really had mutant superpowers, that mine would be imagination. The mind of a multiple is capable of internal flights of fancy that can seem real. I know that there aren’t actual people inside my head, yet they seem real, and they’re capable of accomplishing daily activities and handling emergencies when the consciousness that my brain recognises as ME can’t be located. They aren’t real and yet they absolutely are. They’re so real it just took me nearly 5mins to be able to recall the word “integration”. That word is hard to remember because to all of us who live here in my brain, it carries a connotation akin to “murder”. It happens every time i try to remember that word. I could go deeper with this, and i likely will someday, but for now, if you’ll just take that little description and think on how that ability might apply itself to Tolkien’s works, or King’s, or to Gaiman’s, Bradbury’s, Vonnegut’s, Atwood’s, Well’s, Shelley’s, Pohl’s… Yeah, i’m partial to sci fi/fantasy – act shocked.

So, i’ve been going back to bed every morning this week, laying there and trying to read and rest,  but not accomplishing much of either. Part of my inability to get enough sleep may be due to depression, which i think has hold of me, although its grip isn’t nearly as rough as i’d anticipated. I’m vaguely tired and mildly irritated all the time, and i lost a much-loved family member on Sunday, which i know has intensified all the depression stuff i was already feeling prior. I try to concentrate on anything right now, and i can’t quite do it. My head is foggy. I can see the smudgey outlines of my thoughts speckling the mists like grey shadows, but the ground is like a skating rink beneath me, and squinting at the images makes them no clearer, rather they seem to disappear in the watery blur that swims between my eyelashes. I can’t think a thought through to its conclusion, or follow a question to its answer. The path fades before i can find firm footing – i’m not even clear what direction to go. And these attempts leave me cranky and frustrated, with one of those headaches that feels like a bass drum being repeatedly struck by a pedal-beater that’s been covered in muppet-fur. Fuzzy-thump, fuzzy-thump, fuzzy-thump… Hitting so hard i can hear the distant metallic rattle of the wires on the bottom of the snare above it.

I usually give up at this point, but this time i can’t. I can’t because i think i may be building up towards that kind of blow-up that i mentioned at the beginning. The kind of explosion that causes a lot of collateral damage. Like the time when i was 21yrs old and i ruined a funeral because i found out my girlfriend had cheated on me. Or the time i got drunk for 2wks and my Peanut Gallery all thought i was dead and my kids all hated me and were hiding from me. So they took a bunch of pills and first destroyed my own home and then went to the place the kids were at and put a metal chair through the front window and we wound up committed AGAIN.

And in a couple of days i’m going to a funeral, and it’s for the person whose window i demolished all those years ago. She’s my mother-in-law and she’s been a better mom to me than my own mother ever was, and i’m devastated to lose her. Over the last 2yrs dementia has stolen her from us all, a piece at a time, and last Monday morning she had nothing left to give.
I must look at the ugly past, learn as much as i can, and prepare myself in case anything comes up for me.

Wow.

This is why i write.
This right here.
These moments of clarity.
Of insight.
This peace i suddenly have inside me, because even though i was dreading it, even though i feel embarrassed and humiliated looking at those past events, those awful things i did, i am committed to doing the things i’ve put into place to do when life happens to me. When even death happens.

Be present in the moment. Practise mindfulness if necessary. (It’s necessary.)
Avoid triggery people, places, and things.
Do not attempt to eat, drink, drug, or fuck the problem away.
Write about it.
And most important of all…
WRITE ABOUT IT.

Well i did, i have. Er… I AM.
Suddenly it happened. I just realised that, although i need to look harder for what i was feeling and thinking that preceded my destructive outbursts, i’m not going to behave that way this time. It’s a non-issue. I’ve grown up enough and i’ve learned enough about myself, how i work, and the world around me, that i won’t be losing control like that in any fashion, due to my MIL’s death or the upcoming funeral.
It’ll all be okay, and i’m going to be all right.

I’ve fashioned my own Guide To Happy Usefulness, and it works when i work it.
I had to force myself to sit down and write about it, but once i did, it worked.
Holy fuck, H.

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

~William Carlos Williams

Under My Dome

This is one of those days where i really, really wish i was normal.

I’m not having that glib toss off comment that people often make about no one being normal, or what the heck is normal anyway. I understand where it comes from, and i know people don’t mean any harm or offense when they make it. And it doesn’t harm me or offend me when it’s made, either. I’m just saying that for today, if one were to make such a comment regarding this post – that might be considered by me to be a little insensitive.

I’m not referring to everyone’s little quirks and oddities. Yes, we all have those. I’m talking about living every single day of your life with a brain that works -in some very significant ways- much differently than most people’s. In ways that slow me down in my daily life, and have even held me back from achieving some things that i’ve wanted to do.

I’ve always had a terribly short attention span. I’ve struggled with concentration. In recent years, with the addition of bipolar disorder, i’ve had an awful time reading. Reading was one of the biggest things that saved my life growing up, and it’s been a slow and exasperating process trying to retrain my brain to read for pleasure again.

My thoughts either race so fast with mania, or process words so slowly with depression and dissociation, that i stopped reading novels. I forced myself to deal with the issue starting with non-fiction. As a person who’d finally broken free of my childhood programming that had taught me not to think for myself or question authority, i was hungry for information. So i started reading a lot of news articles, science articles, political pieces, and learning about philosophy. I’m not entirely sure why it’s been so much easier to read non-fiction, but i suspect it has something to do with fiction triggering my dissociative behaviours because it stimulates my imagination.

I’m trying though. I’ve had to, because i’m currently on a news/social media fast. The last year’s worth of campaigning, leading to the most frightening and disappointing election result in the US in my lifetime, necessitated a break. I’ve got too much going on in my personal life to even begin to process that event. Even typing this little bit about it in my blog is ramping up my anxiety level. And the Peanut Gallery in my head is on hypervigilant alert, meaning social media isn’t a good idea, either. I’m at a high risk for switching, and i can’t ask my online friends to go through that with me. It’s confusing enough for my husband and my children, i can’t imagine how much harder it would be when you don’t live with me, and don’t even have experience with me outside of the internet. (I was gonna say, “in the flesh”, but that sounded a bit dirty. Heh.)

Anyway, i’m trying to read a book i’ve been trying to get through for 2yrs. I’ve read other novels over the last few years, but King novels are especially hard for me, i think because he’s my favourite. I didn’t understand until a few years ago that my experience of imagination is different than most people. My therapist says that i am a superhero, and my mutant power is imagination. I was able to create people and worlds inside my brain in order to escape some of the awful things that happened to me as a child. My brain is a whole different level of creative. Not better than you, but very intense. Like, for those of you around my age, think in Technicolor, with Sensurround! If you’re a more recent arrival on the planet, think over 9,000!

When i found Stephen King novels it changed my life. It was more than just giving me an escape, the fact that they were based in horror helped me stay alive and be more sane. No, really. There were things that happened to me that i never spoke about. As years went by, they became like dreams i had, and as i grew i eventually “forgot” that they were real events and believed instead that they were only dreams. When other young people would talk about their dreams, i would wonder why mine were so strange and terrifying compared to theirs. I think King’s stories made it easier for me to, in due time, accept that there had been true evil in my life, as there is in the world, and that it can be overcome. As if reading about it in well-told stories made what i had lived through a bit more palatable. It was art. Dark, terrible art. It was maybe more romantic/poetic to me, seen through a writer’s eyes. That may not make sense to anyone else, but it does to me. Stephen King helped soften the blow in a way. His stories helped me to acknowledge and accept that my life was a story that he could have written.

For a week i have sat with this massive book in my lap. Forcing myself to read half an hour of this novel every day. It’s laborious and sluggish work. I have echobrain right now, meaning that i hear the sentence i just read bounce around inside my skull over and over, until it gradually fades. This forces me to say the sentence silently in my head as i’m reading it in order to cut down on the echo. Unfortunately, it also sloooows me doooown. I find it demeaning. I know i shouldn’t, but my reading speed and comprehension was something i was always so proud of, and here i am slogging away at a snail’s pace. And when i get frustrated i can always count on a voice or 2 to pipe up in there, which makes concentrating even more difficult.

So this is why i’m whining and wishing i was normal. It goes much deeper and darker than that though. It starts with the once-star-reader-turned-plodding-toiler and ends with oh-for-pity’s-sake-i’m-almost-50-and-i’m-barely-functional.

You thought this was gonna be a bombastic tirade on how you non-crazies have it so good, didn’tcha?

Nah. I’m just PO’ed because all i want is to read my dang story. *sigh*

Who you lookin’ for
What was his name
you can prob’ly find him
at the football game
it’s a small town
you know what i mean
it’s a small town, son
and we all support the team
~James McMurtry

Y’all have yourself as good a day as you can.

Love and Peace,
~H~