Whirlwind music

I know I could tell you about this, and you’d understand. I have done something very stupid, every once in a while I seek some of the music I used to listen to in such and such a time, because I liked it a lot, I used to sing along to it in the car… and even though I don’t get to drive much at all these days and the chances of singing along to music are few and far between, I missed some of this music and so I looked for it, and, woe is me! I found it. Of course, why wouldn’t I, in the internet era you no longer have to rely on that music whiz friend who could make your whole world sparkle because he got hold of a copy of “Wings of Desire” for you when they were out of print and I couldn’t find it anywhere. This is the era of ask and it shall be given and I asked and was given all these old songs, and stupidly, stupidly, I actually listened to them.
Masochistically, I say that now, but I didn’t think it at the time, I honestly thought jesus, that was long ago, it should be over now. And jesus, you know, there is so much music I no longer listen to for this reason, and it’s such a bloody shame because hey! It was a load of good music!
The only thing that would make me truly happy right now is to book a ticket for the seaside flat where nobody will be staying and stay there, under a blanket, until January. Then I would return and they would tell me what a lovely time we all had, how we got the right presents, and how every one was happy, and we had no money worries and it all went smoothly and you know what? I was there too! Such fond memories we all built together, all these people that I love very much and yet the prospect of celebrating them and seeing them is making my whole body come out in a sweat and my heart racing and my mind just does not seem to want to go anywhere, it’s frozen.
This, my friends, is called social anxiety, this is what it does to you, and knowing it does not make it better. Saying we understand and then feeling hurt because I would rather this whole month disappeared and feeling, knowing that even should I really give in and say no, listen let us skip that birthday, skip that gathering skip it all for the sake of my peace and quiet I would regret it immensely and just be really sad and it would all be bulk material to add onto all those weights that I lump onto myself when the depression strikes. So best not to let them, not to make more of those bricks! Solution?
A-ha! There is none ūüôā
So, perhaps, playing the Witcher 3 might help. You never were very convincing in explaining to me why you had ruled out videogames as a form of treatment, as a form of escape. I mean you said you would get addicted and stuff, maybe that’s it. I know I have to snap out of it when I need to go and pick up my daughter so I guess that works better.
So what should I do with those songs I found and downloaded for my phone? Delete them, of course, as with all those mounds of music that have yet to find a place back into my life, no matter how much I like them.

A word of hope

So yesterday I was at the bus stop, with my daughter and two mums who are often there with their kiddies. The school is having an anti-bullying or bullying-awareness week, as is the rest of England. They have also had sessions regarding sexual abuse, child neglect, all that stuff, and had them memorise the Child Helpline 0800 1111  in the UK (you never know!).

As we waited for the bus, the two often loud kiddies started to talk about stuff in a ¬†rudey/jokey manner and we commented and agreed how it may have been the result of those talks but it’s so good that they are having them, then¬†one of the mums¬†started talking about her son just about getting away in time from a known sexual offender who was¬†protected and sheltered by his family, and then she told us how she was also abused though not violently, physically when she was a child by her father and how she only realised the things he did were wrong when her own daughter started to tell her stuff he was doing with her and she realised that it was just wrong.

She then proceeded to say how she was going to therapy because of it and now has bipolar.

The other mum was sympathetic but I believe a little stunned by the candour and, I guess, the setting (a bus stop, with an extra stranger just standing around). But as I got on the bus and got over my usual anger at how so many children are abused and my own personal issues I thought how refreshing! Finally!

I mean if we had been standing around speaking of bone fractures nobody would have had any trouble talking about their own limbs breaking or my son breaking his wrist because he decided to cycle downhill at full speed in a forest, would we? We wouldn’t have had the slightest problem saying “and I still go to physiotherapy for that!”.

It made me realise how incredibly natural and only right it was that we could talk about these things like that, openly and without fear, without misplaced shame (so many people, including myself, are still ashamed beyond control to speak of their own abuse, as if they had anything to blame themselves for!).

I must admit I am still not really quite there, but I am trying. I didn’t respond to this woman “me too” or “similar stuff happened to me” nor “I know how you feel”. Then again even when we break a leg sometimes we just want to say it, don’t we, we don’t necessarily have to hear that it happened to you as well.

So this is my way of saying that this woman, who as yet I don’t even know by name, I believe, did¬†the best, hardest, yet most productive thing a¬†person with mental health problems¬†could do: just talk about stuff that has befallen you as though it were any kind of misfortune that came your way, in normal conversation, waiting for a bus.

 

 

Getting better all the time…

A very nice song by The Beatles.

It is, life gets better, although I still have to regularly battle against the same old demons, and that pisses me off so much.

It makes me sad that this page opened on my admin and showed me that most of the comments were from myself and then blahpolar.

I was thinking about her this morning. She managed to make me feel at home with her, comfortable, such an incredible feat… but she was in deep deep pain, and now she’s gone.

My husband said¬†one of the millions of things he could say to trigger off my anxiety and/or my depression this morning. He said I was just moaning. And I was! I was moaning about how my hypermobility syndrome means that it is painful to walk four miles each day to and from my daughter’s school, that her own hypermobility meant we had to get her new, better shoes, that the stupid aggressive cows in the field meant we had to walk along the terribly trafficked, stinky, and very dangerous road instead of across the field, which my anxiety is not happy about.
I WAS just moaning.
I just didn’t appreciate him telling me that, not today, because yesterday I spent all day worrying about a client of mine (blooming FAO, I LOVE¬†FAO and I am so proud to be working for them) who wanted to call me. All she did was that, ask me whether I could give her a call. But because it was after I’d just sent an invoice, I went into internal turmoil and panic. I suffer from social anxiety, so the cherry on top of all this¬†was being asked to¬†use¬†the phone. I DETEST using the phone.

I told her no, I didn’t want to call, and asked whether there was a problem. I then corrected my invoice to make it a little less. I started thinking about our imminent move to Italy, and how I had left Italy because I associated Italy with worry, people telling me off, and so on… so I started worrying worrying, will I ever find a place I could call home? Asides form my children and my husband, my only home, the only home I ALWAYS feel safe in, is my dog. Wherever my dog is.¬†I started to think back to all those people and places where I thought I’d found a home, including this one, Derbyshire,¬†only to then be told¬†without much ceremony “we were never as close as you thought we were”.
It was all in my head, all those people…¬†all those places… and the thoughts start to tumble, and jumble, and I feel whirlwinds starting to suck me up, and then I stop them, and I say you know what? I DON’T moan! I don’t moan enough! I¬†feel emotions a tad intensely, I can’t help that, and stuff has hurt me! I must be allowed to moan!

I spend the rest of the day just calming down. I took the bus to school today. I later apologised to my husband for my snarky remarks in response to his comment, helped by his choosing, for once,¬†good words rather than reacting badly and making it worse. Then it dawns on me I’ll redo the invoice, I sent it. Then lovely FAO lady writes back and says:

“Dear Billy,

I wanted to contact you yesterday to tell you¬†that FAO translators normally are paid such and such. We think you charge too little. Would it be ok for you if we paid you our fees?”

I wanted to cry. People CAN be nice. And I’m an idiot fool, no, no longer do I think of myself as an idiot. I have been battered for too long into no longer believing that people are nice. Yesterday an old client, always super professional and proper, added me on Linkedin and said: “This time I’m not writing to ask anything, just to say hello and a hug”. Brought a smile to my face and then tears. I want people to be real with me, and I need to be real with them. I was thinking it was no longer possible.Maybe it still is.

A dream of blood

I woke up from a dream, interacted with our kitten outside the door, came back to bed but I can’t sleep.

This post is written on a phone under the blankets, forgive the crapness.

In my dream I was me, but loooked very different, dark brown hair.

I had told my husband I’d be late, I was visiting friends. They were prostitutes and that night, I was too. Men came, I was to prove to one my bum and my breasts were real. He came but they wanted us to go elsewhere, with some of his mates. One was some sort of rich kid, his mother had to check me out sexually first. Then we went somewhere, a dank underground parking, plots of land, the one where we stood had little puddles. “Of blood?” I asked. I was alone and maybe I wasn’t, the younger man held a yellow dress, it was for me. I looked in a madeup mirror and saw myself wearing it, while in fact I was now a young girl of twelve, with light pink/white shorts. I shied away from this plot, he showed our “handlers” a plot nearby, a mattress on the floor, it was clean. I wanted out, but didn’t say. I hoped he would not kill us, or hurt us. I hoped my husband would believe my lie. We needed the money, and I was too scared to back away now. Another man checked the plot next door, picked up a pair of human limbs, grinned sheepishly and waved as if now all was clear. I knew that feeling of utter dread but the inability to do anything, try to run, stop the madness. The paralyzing fear.

My daughter stirred brusquely and I woke up.

I know the elements that made up the dream, some eluded me till later. At first of course, I thought of Ulla (previous post). I thought of my own past and how I am where I am now but could easily have been where Ulla is now, had circumstances been a little different. Then I saw the girl I was in the dream was the girl one of my oldest friends had been, when she’d been raped in a camping site by her uncle, only a young girl.

That girl grew to be the woman who singlehandedly ripped me away from my suicide plan. That woman is now, last I heard from her, with a good job, a good man, is as happy as she could be. She could have been where Ulla is now. Her form of bipolar if she had it was much milder, but her circumstances were very different.

I will write to her later, tell her once again how I love her and cherish her. I am still sad, because for Ulla things were just so much worse, just circumstances that meant her bipolar had been so aggressive and incurable, though she too deserved respite, and all the help she gave others whilst being torn apart by her disease… Brave warrior, huge soul, I will miss you and be grateful for the little that I knew you, I will keep you in my heart as I try to continue and be happy in my different circumstances.

I hope you have your respite, and your mum near you at last.

Some more

I hope you’ll excuse me, if I don’t follow you back. I hope you won’t mind, if I’m not always responding, if I don’t read you all the time.

Our pal that checked out has once again in the saddest way shown why it is a good idea to stay in your happy place if you have one. I do feel the need to listen more closely to¬†some of you who are bereaved of her presence, but I can’t try to keep up with as many as I used to.

I feel like going on Facebook and blocking 99% of the people there. I know most of the people I have there are people I’ve known, because I do try to keep it “real”, but too many¬†of them don’t have¬†a dog pal, none of them in England do, and the greatest majority asides from very few have any notion, nor do they care, that many¬†people are¬†sufferers like¬†Ulla was, and some of those may just not make it through.

So I feel like blacking them out, so many of them, you know? How many times have I chatted with you feeling this was more real than any other chat? That you knew how I felt and I felt how you could feel more than so many others? And how many that followed you and cherished your wisdom and beauty felt exactly the same?

This is why I know, and you know, how many are left behind. You checked in on so many of us, didn’t you? To see whether we were stable enough? Whether we were ok? Generous, and thoughtful, till the end, Ulla.

I recently discovered a section of a radio I’ve begun to listen to,¬†with all songs selected and dedicated to travel, to journeys. Some true classics, I would have definitely¬†have the urge to share with you, and then not, remembering how music could get to you, how losing the ability to listen to music was one of your many sources of pain.¬†Today, they almost all made me think of you, on your journey, as I like to imagine.

Ulla I won’t be able to tell you about how my climbing roses are growing so prettily, and will soon spread over the top, and how I can see them from my kitchen window as I wash endless dishes. Ulla you didn’t wait. I knew you wouldn’t, I felt it, in the way you didn’t respond at my repeated invitation, at my request, once again, to please just wait a little longer. Wait till we can get together, wait till I’ve met you.

Because you were truly special, truly lovely, and¬†much as¬†we all get it, and understand, I can’t help but selfishly wish you could’ve waited just a little more.

Travel safe mate

 

Ulla

Communicate and keep it real

My knees go wobbly and feel numb as I get up to get some cushions so I can be more comfortable on this chair and write about Ulla.

I am sorry Ulla but not that you’re gone I get to call you by your real name and be less discreet about you. I know you would be smiling crookedly and telling me you’d expect nothing less from me.

These are the dangers of getting close to people via the web, this is why when you are as intense as me and as fragile as I am you tend to get close to people you feel close really fast, and unfortunately, it is real, it is not web, and you want to stretch out your hand and grab them towards you and hug them tight, but you can’t.

That powerlessness drove me to withdraw from the blogs I loved the most, and focus on my increasingly serene…

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Moving on

There are many ways to die. Many times in my life did I come close to both physically and mentally and emotionally dying. If a mental breakdown is dying a little, so is an abortion, a suicide attempt, and what have you.

The thing is, I¬†died a little every time I felt¬†humiliated, slighted, let down. I continued to die over and over again, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. My conscience and heart is so active though, that I learnt¬†not to reach out for the comforting idea of not struggling anymore. I learnt to fantasise about other scenarios, all carefully planned out, to avoid as much pain to others as I could. But I couldn’t help also wanting to live, remembering how I felt just the day before, or just a few months earlier, or the other day, and feeling that back then I thought my terrible urges to let go and give up were simply irresponsible, crazy, absurd. I was happy! What was I thinking?

Anyhow. Counselling will probably be over next week, or soon after. It was helpful. The dealing with distress intolerance module, a couple of good visualizations and exercises I hope I’ll be able to continue later. But more importantly, once again, though with increasing conviction, I am letting go of my old self, of that girl that has been raging and battling and passionate since as far as I can remember.

I apologise to her, feel for her, but it’s time to give up the fight, I said, lay down your arms, I said, and I’m sorry you didn’t get understood, I’m sorry things didn’t go how you planned, but it’s time to let go.

That is why today I also gave up reading and re-reading for the nth time my novel, and waiting for my husband to have a time to draw a cover, and I published my book.

This book is about a future I could have had, at least in my deluded mind. It’s a novel, make no mistake, but also¬†a dream. A dream that I have to let go now, as I know now it will never come true (in some respects, thank goodness for that!).

Next in my plan, the second book to publish. That is being written now. That will likely be longer. After that, I will have let go of all of me, and can live and experience whatever’s left.

I am what i was exposed to, I am what I did, I am what I do. It’s time to give up trying to explain, to be understood. To give up¬†the fight.

So, here it is, it’s going, it’s gone, it’s free. The House of Blue:

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Distress intolerance – Part 2

I have counselling tomorrow, but now is a good time to do Module 2 of the Overcoming Distress Intolerance. As I walked out of the corner shop¬†after dropping off my daughter at¬†school, a man came pushing a pram and shouting in drunken rage at his toddler son, who was walking hand in hand with mum and tinier sister towards the school: “na man! You’re lying! Forget it man!” to the tiny boy, and the little boy’s face with his tiny mouth in a frustrated frown.

To me it’s like a knife in the chest. It seems only right to me,¬†it seems normal, my reaction seems normal to me. But I know, at the tender age of 44, that it is not. Some people will dismiss it, some will ignore it, some won’t even see it, and some will accept it as normal part of¬†that type of family. To me a child is a child. I come from¬†a family that is refined, educated, and yet horrible things happened with us, I had a surprise drunk abusive (you never knew when he’d “turn”) husband, and two wonderful, tiny little toddlers, who have witnessed¬†some things, sometimes. We were what you’d call middle class, I guess. How does that make us any different that little hurt family? Or rather,¬†I get¬†that whereas we will always be working or financing our own food and shelter, these parents¬†rely on the English welfare system, which is devastatingly flawed. But the children?¬†They are merely and solely victims of this. How can anyone be indifferent? How can anyone not care?

I never got it, never understood it.

Then my brain jumped ahead, and couldn’t stop thinking of a friend I had, whose major influence on my life was the way he dealt with¬†my emotional distress.¬†Every friend has special “powers”, his was that. He may or may not have cared about what actually happened,¬†but he cared that I cared, and that I was upset, and somehow, he always knew the right words, the right thought processes to make me feel better. Alas my husband lacks that, sometimes unwittingly making things worse for me, and now that this friend is out of my life I found myself missing him in that moment, and there, the whole process begun, the whirlpool began to open below me, ready to suck me into despair.

So I told myself, well, this is a good time to deal with distress intolerance, part 2. You need to detach yourself from¬†these situations, and I don’t know how. D. used to tell me how. Now I can’t even form a thought in my head that makes what I saw any better.¬†I can, however, stop the usual¬†spiral that used to drag me down: I saw this-this breaks my heart-I wish I could do something-what can I do-there are so many, so many many many children suffering this and far worse right now, this very moment, and so on and so forth.

I needed to stop the spiral, the whirlpool that drags me down. No, not stop: step away from it. So I breathed, and thought of the only way I know how, be nice to my children, be good to them as much as I can, protect them, who knows, I probably sheltered them too much and now they lack skills to make it in life without anxiety or depression, and there it goes again, the spiral catches me again.So now I stop, go make some coffee, and then approach module 2.

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Have read. Insights: I was fairly good at stepping back from the¬†emotions, which didn’t overwhelm me. The image of a whirlpool applies to my emotions, and the tornado applies to my thoughts. Instead of letting myself get carried away in tornadoes or whirlpools, I¬†take a step back and watch them, in fascination, as it happens, because they are two natural events that fascinate me greatly.

Other insight. I have chosen in my life to surround myself with people who hate my emotional side, or at least are impatient¬†with it, and find it irritating. It makes sense, since as a child my parents were very cold (mother) or very quick to anger whenever I got emotional (dad).¬†I could have chosen to be with people who love that about me: that I am sensitive, kind, and have a strong sense of justice vs. injustice. Instead, I chose people who are more rational and level headed. So that’s ok now, it doesn’t mean I have to dump my¬†husband and find someone who loves me more for what I am, but I can start looking at it differently. It’s not that he doesn’t love me for what I am, it’s just that he is different and can’t really speak that language I speak so well, the language of deep emotion. So, I must take a step back from that, stop feeling hurt by his reactions to my emotions,¬†remember I chose him like that, and¬†watch from a very slight distance.

Done some good breathing, too, when all else fails (all else being my pets: they are my anchor to coming back to reality, I do believe having animals around is crucial for human wellbeing).

Baby steps

Overcoming Distress Intolerance

Read: Being a Wuss.

No, I know, the whole point is to lose that kind of language.

Well, this is where my CBT Therapist has got me know. We agree that this might be the main gist of what is wrong with me, the main issue. Possibly stemming, of all things, from a fear of abandonment, and emotional neglect, many many of the things that are reactions that trouble me could be brought down to this.

Here is the link of you’re curious, it’s for everyone!

Everyone has different reactions when they are intolerant to distress, from self-harm to, in my case more than anything else, escape.

What makes me angry with myself is I knew the causes, I had figured it all out and was aware of the whole thing, but still I couldn’t stop myself from overreacting dramatically to what is just, well, stuff that happens in any life.

People die, people leave you, people tell you you were never as close as you wanted us to be, an it’s just up to you to go through the emotions, which are stuff everyone goes through, and not crumble, constantly working and using up all your energy in just picking yourself up. Move the bloody hell on!

I also realised, just as I signed off the first module for today, that my constant desire to further my studies and find excuses or escape is also related to avoidance, in order to not have to go through the experience of failure, frustration, feeling out of place and unable.

But I also have to remember. I must remember Joy. She was a woman whom I’d met with another woman, and they both stopped me one day to say how the English Lit seminar we all attended together was their favourite of all, just because of what I said and especially how I said it – they loved my voice.

A few months later she had thrown herself under a train.

Dear, dear Joy, I owe it to you and so many others to think better of myself, because I can overcome these stupid impediments, whereas you will never get the chance again.

Here goes then.

A dream of movement

I had a dream, a nice one. In it, we were in a city, my daughter, my son and I, unsure which but it didn’t matter. My husband was coming back from somewhere, so we had to start on a journey back. We had our brand new car, a cute little Fiat 500.

Once my husband arrived we began driving back to wherever, and I said to him, why do we have to go back? Let’s keep moving! Perhaps we had dropped off my second son in Uni, so there was only our daughter (9 yesterday!) and my black cat and the birds. We had to pick up our cat on the way, for some reason when people arrived in this city cats had to be dropped off and they could stay in little houselets scattered round town.

I told him of all the cool places we could go, self-sustaining centres where, with his talents and mine, we could become new managers of the place, have our own multicultural and free-gathering centre. So we travelled, passed a couple of cool places, then arrived through a city I have visited before in my dreams, on the sea, very crowded. By then our Fiat 500 had turned into a Campervan, and we had to park it. My husband was somewhere else but I knew we’d meet up with him. End of dream.

I was left with a pleasant feeling of possibilities, and travelling sensations. Life, evolving, moving along, going ahead. Because that is all that matters. Of the people I have lost, the greatest tragedy is not knowing how they could have become, not seeing them grow into that horrendous old hag, that honest old man.

Not knowing how their character would have evolved.

The problem with medication, and designation, and diagnoses, is that they impede development. I am still translating my dad’s book and I see so many indicators, I am not a psychologist but I can see the “mental illness” in many actions and decisions. What makes a difference between the mentally ill and those that have serious mental twists and yet live on, evolve, interact with other people, whether pleasantly or destructively? A diagnosis. I believe having too much awareness of your mental illness stops you from doing loads, from expecting things to change, from evolving, from planning.

Some of the stuff some people in my life have been doing, which have seriously affected many other people, fall most definitely in the field of mental illness. Would a diagnosis have helped? Maybe, maybe not, but the thing is, even the most horrid, disappointing, devastating people have created other people through their actions: some people have become better people because of them, or in learning to battle them, even.

Everyone has a use, everyone contributes to the evolution of a lot of other peoples’ lives: if you, diagnosed as mentally ill and therefore alienated from all life, all people, avoiding interaction as much as possible, remove yourself from the equation, nothing, nothing will change for anybody: you will affect some people, some people you might stop affecting but something else will affect them instead, and that something else may be better or worse than you, more or less productive than you.

Everybody counts. Every single last person, and animal even!

I spent a great part of my daughter’s birthday yesterday in bed with her, as she cried remembering and missing her beautiful cat Booklet, our white cat, who got run over last year. I could have chosen to restrict Booklet to the house. There was an actual decision to let her out, despite our neighbour warning us that she was crossing the super-busy road, despite her getting hurt by other cats, despite my own feeling, that very day, and my asking her “please come back Booklet”. I chatted with the vet, chatted with myself, and decided that I could keep her safe, inside, but unhappy and restless and frustrated (she thanked me, she really did, when I started letting her out again after her injury had healed) or I could risk losing her and allow her to explore, put herself in danger, be happy. I, and my daughter, who even now does not blame me, chose the latter. It was only a few days later than she got run over. She had been extra affectionate with us those past few days, extra happy, extra purring. Did she know? Of course, she was “just a cat”, but I like to think she knew we could have made the decision of restricting her, and keeping her safe, and she was grateful we chose to let her live freely instead. And die, free, too ūüė¶

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The only difference between removing yourself from the equation, either though chosen isolation, hermitage*or the most drastic measure of all, is that you’ll never know how you will become.

That is reason enough for me, curiosity is a strong drive for me I guess. That’s what I replied when my therapist asked me what kept me alive, what thought was strongest in bringing me back from that brink when it loomed. Chaos, and the certainty of change, is my ally.

But given a diagnosis, and medication, and controls, and barriers to live within, I have a pretty good idea of where I would be, and how I’d be. And that is what kills you: the lack of adventure, of possibility, of allowing chaos to come in and ruffle you a little.

I follow the blog of someone affected by Parkinson’s, a constant beautiful source of inspiration (his blog, not the Parkinson’s). Parkinson’s is one of the illnesses that scares me the most, because of how it affects your movement.
He just recently saw a thing whereby a person with Parkinson’s is given a bike and they go smooth and fluid as nothing else. Isn’t that just amazing? Could he have expected it the day before? I sure didn’t!

Those pills I was taking, the Citalopram, which I have yet to pick up, did affect me. I have noticed I am quicker to anger, more nervous, without them. A voice tells me you should go get them, another says don’t, just don’t. You have more ideas, more hope now. Yes you are more volatile, and chances are it might get worse, but it might also get better. My mind is clearer, less foggy, and what I was taking was quite low! What would happen to me if I had a greater cocktail?**

It’s the stagnation, the inevitability, the sentence that really kills you

 

 

 

* speaking to myself a lot here, that is where my thoughts go since I’ve had children: if I walk past the suicidal thought tendency, and I do because I have my children and dependants and husband, I then walk right into the “I must go away, far away” room, and find it quite hard to skip THAT window. If you don’t catch this reference then you haven’t read Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving and you’re missing out.

** In my second to last counselling, I was so low that the therapist said he’d write to my GP so that she might consider upping the dose of antidepressants. On my last one, however, I was relaxed and happy we discussed only CBT ways to deal with my emotional distress intolerance.