Come on make it easy

Say I never mattered. Run it up the flagpole.

Every time I try to explain my brain, it causes more pain and frustration. I don’t know who it hurts more, others or me.  I’m starting to get better at numbing down, I think.  Real life, that is. (Obviously not with my dream fuckery from the other night.) I’m so tired of fighting with people. Every time I open my mouth, a fight follows. I guess I really should go back to isolation. I just don’t know if I can trust myself anymore. Or anyone else to not fuck with my brain issues. 

It’s all over now. Before it has begun. 

I got a sketch pad tonight. I was sketching some. This is a good thing, I guess. I used to draw all the time to calm my brain. Except… the only time I’ve ever been able to draw well are under two conditions. I’m either drunk, or depressed to the point of, well, everyone knows where I’m at now. I need to either do it or sunshine up. Im teetering on the edge. Do you know you’ve almost pushed me too far? 

Tonight, the foxes hunt the hounds.

I’d forgotten how good cutting felt until I did it a few weeks ago, and now I want to do it again. I want to feel the hot sticky blood ooze down my arms. I want to feel it drip off of my skin. I want to smell it. I want to feel the physical pain so I can figure out how to handle this pain I can’t process. But I also want to go too deep. I want to see that deep dark red ooze, then slowly flow from that clean, razor sharp cut. I want to feel the dizziness that follows as it drains.

We are wild. We are like young volcanoes.

When do I ever get what I want?

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I’m wasted, I still taste it.

The forecast, a car crash. It’s looking like another breakdown, rebound.

I had a night terror last night. It was bad.  Worst I’ve had in a long time.  It’s still rocking me all day today.  It’s been over 15 hours later, and I still can’t get it out of my head. Every time I close my eyes I can see bits and flashes. I can smell the smells, and hear the screams.  It won’t stop.  I’m sure there’s some kind of psycho babble to explain it.  Maybe I’m just going crazy-er.  Maybe I’m just trying to explain something to myself, to re-blame myself for things that’ve happened in the past, or explain something to happen in the future.  I’m a horrible person.

And I can’t deny your eyes, you know I try to read between the lines. I saw a warning sign, and then you threw me up against the wall.

There isn’t really any way to push the things out of my head when they get there. I’ve tried, but they tend to dig deeper.  I just wish I could make it stop. Claw out my eyes. Claw out my brains.  I woke up with a scream last night. Yowl?  Didn’t know where I was. Curled up in the corner, hyperventilating, couldn’t figure things out.  It was fucking terrifying.  I’m a horrible person.

I’m wasted, I still taste it.  Yeah it’s so hard to let go.  So breathe in now, and breathe it out.

It was all my fault.  But then again, when do I ever think it isn’t?  We were running.  It was run or die. The door was there. All we had to do was go through.  I closed the door. I had to.  I thought he’d made it through. I thought they’d all make it through. But they didn’t and I had to shut the door. And then the screaming started.  The gun shots. The choking. The gurgling sound of drowning in their own blood. I can smell the blood. It’s sickeningly sweet, ya know?  It has a metallic almost sugary smell. To me, anyway.  I can see the blood pooling under the door. The door that I had closed. That I had closed and locked everyone out. The few people who’d made it through looked at me in horror. I’D made the decision to close the door. The DOOR. It was my responsibility. They trusted me. I decided to let them all die. The blood was a bright red. It hadn’t even had a chance to darken yet. I can smell it.  The screams are few and far between after only a matter of seconds.  So much gone and so much sacrificed. But yet, I lived for what? For who?  I lost the only thing that mattered. I don’t know who it was, but he was the only thing that mattered to me. I thought he’d been through the door. And when I heard his yell before it was drowned out by the gunfire, I knew I was wrong.  I just stared at the door. Smelling the blood. Hearing the screams. Seeing the pool of death… All my fault. I condemned everyone to die. I’m a horrible person.

This could be my last goodbye. You cross your heart, I hope to die.

I can’t stop seeing it. It’s everywhere. The looks of horror, the sounds, the smells. I eventually fell back asleep and it wasn’t so bad.  But now that I’m awake it’s just as though I’m still asleep. It’s on replay.  Or maybe it just hasn’t stopped. Is it looping? Or is it just some kind of punishment?  Whose?  Mine? Someone else’s?  I’m a horrible person.

When you were going in alone, and all your different faces, and all your different ways are making everything a mess. 

I just can’t let things go, can I? I just can’t seem to get things out of my head. I can’t just walk away from the things that I want to, or need to.  Everything is just fucked up in there that it needs beaten out with a baseball bat.  I’m a horrible person.

6 Things People With Mental Illness Might Be Scared To Admit

I think this is one of the better written blogs on how it feels for me on a day-to-day basis. This is pretty much just it. These are my thoughts and fears, too.

Let's Queer Things Up!

You know, it’s possible that everything on this list is just me. But working in mental health advocacy for some time now, I’ve learned that it’s never really “just me” or “just you” – if we’re struggling, it’s almost guaranteed that someone out there knows that struggle.

Confession: I was hospitalized four months ago and I’ve been afraid – afraid of myself, afraid of my friends, afraid for my life – almost every minute since then.

Of course, I was scared to open up about it until I realized that it’s the fear that holds us back. If we never admit that we’re hurting, we can never find the support and reassurance that we need to pull through.

It’s true that I don’t know your story or your struggle. But I hope that, by knowing mine, you’ll feel less alone.

Because it’s okay to be scared – and you’d be surprised…

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You Think YOU’RE Sick of My Shit…

I wonder if people without these diseases know how much we hate ourselves for having them.

There’s a shocking amount of self-loathing that comes along with anxiety and depression. Even though I’ve educated myself, even though I’m a huge advocate for being open and honest about my diseases, even though I never hold anyone else’s diseases against them, today I hold my diseases against me. Today, I hate myself.

I pride myself on being a strong person, see. I don’t cave to other people, I stand up for myself without being a strident bitch, I’m firm and unyielding when it comes to calling people on their bullshit. I’m outgoing and friendly, but I will not hestiate to shut the door on someone who doesn’t treat me well or at least with respect. You don’t have to like me, but you don’t get to act like an asshole to me and think I’ll put up with it.

Today started fine. Then there was a discussion online about how men, good men especially, are often simply blinkered to the fact that women, by and large, have to maintain a defensive mindset at all times. It’s completely foreign to them that we habitually avoid dark areas in parking lots or do not take an empty stairwell if we’ve seen one lone strange man go down just before us. We do not stop at gas stations late at night if there are no other cars there unless it’s that or run out of gas.  That’s just our default. It’s so automatic in most women, we don’t even think about it anymore. We just take constant precautions and keep a constant lookout.

And still we get assaulted, raped, harassed, and told “Well if you hadn’t/weren’t _______…” If you had worn a longer skirt. If you had locked your door. If you weren’t walking alone. Because no matter what precautions we do take, there’s always one we didn’t and if we had just done THAT, then it wouldn’t have happened. It is our fault.

What they mean, I suspect, is “Of course that guy shouldn’t have attacked you, but there were things you could’ve done too.” They just leave that first part out. Really, it wouldn’t matter if they put it in there because let’s face it, victim-blaming is bullshit. Ok, sure, you shouldn’t leave your purse sitting out on the table while you go off to play pool or whatever. You can’t leave your car unlocked with the keys in it and then be shocked when someone steals it. Truthfully, I’m not sure where that line is, and I suspect most people aren’t.

So anyway, after all that, someone linked a (very brave, very horrifying) story about her particular rape and how she learned that a) men don’t know how to react to a woman who says “I’ve just been raped”, b) victim-blaming is all about making someone who feels horrible feel even worse, and c) when you’re attacked you suddenly realize how little you know about anyone. Her attacker, who covered her head so she couldn’t see him, could’ve been anyone. The person she reported it to. The neighbor she never really got to know who seemed to have a sweet, boyish crush on her. A total stranger. Anyone.

That was the end of my peaceful day. I couldn’t breathe around the pressure in my chest. I could taste my own heart in the back of my throat (it tastes like nickles, btw). My palms were actually, honestly, cliche-filled sweaty.  And I had to leave for work in about 5 minutes. I took the dogs out for one last wee. My next door neighbor, who’s seemed a very nice guy, said hi and waved. I bolted for the door.

I went to work anyway. Just go, I told myself. Power through it. You’ll feel better, and avoidance only ever makes fear worse. Avoidance never helps. Go to work, once you get into the routine you’ll calm down. I went. I logged in. I started to work. I realized I had tears running down my face. My hands wouldn’t stop shaking. I had to give up. I had to surrender. I had to go home.

And now I hate myself. I hate that I can’t win, that I’m not strong enough to get through it. I hate that I have to, HAVE TO, back off. I do not back off, not from anything. Not from anything but this. It makes me feel weak, and while I’d punch in the brain anyone else who told me I was weak for giving in to a panic attack, I cannot punch my own brain. I try to answer myself with sympathy, with kindness. I try to treat myself as I would treat other people, with the same level of respect and understanding.

But mostly, right now, I’m just sick of my shit and am tired of putting up with me. That’s something I think I’ll need to address in therapy next time. I wonder if people who have to deal with us, who get sick of our shit and get tired of putting up with us, know that we often feel the exact same way about ourselves. I wonder if they know that this feeling is part of what makes it so hard to lean on other people or to reach out for help. After all, if I’M sick of my shit, it stands to reason that everyone else is, too.

Logically, I can say that I’m not psychic and I have no idea how everyone else feels about me and my bad days. Emotionally, I know they’re fed up. Emotion never answers to logic. I can tell myself all day long that other people are supportive, that they care, that they want to help. I can tell myself that all these “I know what they’re thinking” stories are fiction I’m making up and I should make up better stories because these stories suck ass. I can even hear all that from other people. Emotion never answers to logic.

It’s crippling, and it feeds right back into the bullshit loop. I feel bad, I hate myself for feeling bad, I think everyone else must be tired of this shit too, I feel worse. It’s like one of those loop-de-loop roller coasters, only you can’t stop the ride and basically everyone starts barfing on each other which just makes everyone barf more.

Anyway, I wonder if people without these diseases know how much we hate ourselves for having them.

He blew the horn and the walls came down

When I was asked to contribute here I was at a loss as to what to write. That I WOULD write was never in doubt. I was given the suggestion to tell the story of how/why I finally got help, and I had to laugh because that story LITERALLY affected everyone at least a little.

What follows is very disjointed and for that I’m sorry. My memories of that time, and most times when my depression is at its worst, are like that.

It was my 32nd birthday a beautiful Tuesday morning in mid September of 2001. I felt great, well as great as I could having to be in work at 6AM, but still I felt good. At about 8:30, that started to change. A coworker said “A plane just hit the towers in New York.” I figured it was some small prop plane gone awry, tragic, but not the most major thing. Twenty minutes later I knew just how wrong I was.

The world changed and I broke into a million pieces.

I walked up to my boss in a daze and said I had to leave. He asked why, so I told him it was my birthday and he said “I am so sorry.” We all knew something massive had just happened; we just didn’t yet know the severity of it. That came later. After that brief exchange, I walked out to my car and drove the 15 minutes home. I remember nothing of it, not one thing. Not a single second until…

I walked into the house to see the South Tower collapse. I vaguely recall exchanaging some words with my Dad and climbing the stairs to put on green sweatpants, sitting in my chair and staring numbly at the TV for three days crying endlessly.

I was in a deep pit of dispair. I was so sad for all those directly affected, I found out later I knew in passing a few folks who perished, but also really feeling sorry for myself. I was broken; I had been for years, and I saw no hope, no way out. I didn’t want to die, but I had no idea how to live.

In the middle of this, some sense of reponsiblity kicked in and told me I should call work and let them know what was going on. That call made all the difference. I was refered to our EAP (Employee Assitance Program) and they gave me a list of doctors covered by my insurance plan. My very first call almost ended my journey; while she was very nice she was booked solid. She did however recommend the doctor I still see to this day. I got an appointment for the 17th (my Mom’s birthday), and I haven’t looked back. Well not TOO much it’s only natural to want to see how far you’ve come.

The important thing to remember is that getting better is a change to your life, not some “quick fix.” Better mental health takes commitment, and you will still have bad times, but they will be rare and short-lived compared to what you are likely dealing with now. If you’ve read this far I urge you to make that life changing call for yourself.

In which group therapy fries my brain.

My therapist runs a therapy group for depressed people. She was pretty adamant that I go.  Fine, fine, fine.  I go.  We learn skills on how to relax, cope, step back, assess, calm, etc.  Amusingly, meditation is one of the things on the list.  Needless to say, it doesn’t work for me.  Most of the “lessons” we learn in there, I can’t actually do.  Sure, I try, but it’s just not possible.  “Clear your mind.” Hahaha. No offense, but go fuck yourself.  “Focus on a color.”  Seriously? No. I think of green, and then I think about which shade of green I’d like, so I think of all of the different shades of green I like, and which ones I dislike, and then I think of why I dislike them, and events that relate to those color greens, and it goes downhill from there.

Ever notice how someone prefaces something offensive with “no offense?”  Yeah, me too.  I do it.  Often it’s because I genuinely say something in jest and mean it to be so.  “Please don’t take offense to this, because I’m seriously joking.”  Though usually, I don’t even bother.  Most of the time I open my mouth it will offend someone.  I’m aware of this.

There is a lady in my group.  I can’t STAND her.  For the first time in a very long time, I’ve found someone that I genuinely would like to throw in front of a bus.  She actually brings out the violent streak in me.  This is the real reason I actually go to group therapy.  No, you silly silly goose. NOT so I have an excuse to beat her with her drama cane.  So I can learn to NOT beat her with her woe-is-me-pity-me-stick.  Everything out of her mouth is, “my life is horrible, you should feel bad for me.”  Followed by, “the world owes me, YOU owe me.” Lady, I don’t owe you shit, everything said is something that starts or ends with “I can’t.”  Ironically, I’d go into more details, but I can’t.  What’s said in group, stays in group and all that crap.

Though I will say one thing.  Two weeks ago she made a comment. I’d made a quip about something and she exclaimed “Oh now we’re seeing the REAL Siobhan!”  I just glanced in her direction and said “Nope, I’ve been here all along.”  She started to argue, and I ignored her for whatever was going on at the time, I think someone else had been talking about one of their experiences.  But here’s what she is too self-absorbed to notice… Who I am doesn’t change.  Who people see doesn’t change. What they notice, does.  I watch. When I’m around people I don’t like, I’m much quieter.  When I’m angry I have several stages. One is, of course, yelling. One is crying.  One is seething silence.  That’s the scary stage.  If I don’t like someone I won’t tell them to piss off, or something.  I just won’t acknowledge them or to the best of my ability ignore them.  THAT is what she’s seen, that I’ve ignored her, that I’ve sat in silence observing everyone.  I have sat there mostly silent and absorbed who I like, who I don’t like, who I trust, who I don’t.  The thing that angers me the most? She crossed a line a few weeks ago, and I can’t pummel her for it.  And the fact that I haven’t shows that I’m growing.  … Or that I just can’t bring myself to beat old women with their pity-me sticks.  I haven’t decided yet.

Therapists On Parade

Fridays are therapy days for me, which means it’s supervised navel-gazing. I like my therapist. I trust her. If you need therapy or even just want it, don’t settle for less than that. And reach beyond what you think you want. I wouldn’t have chosen her at first glance. I mean, I knew there was no way I’d trust a male therapist, but this kid looks like I probably babysat her once upon a time. But she’s good for me. She was good at not making any sudden moves, she was good at settling my fears. She’s good at laughing at my jokes, and giving me space to cry.

Mostly she’s good about letting me tell her she’s full of shit, then chatting with me until I figure out she’s not full of shit, and never saying “I told you so.” So there’s that.

I’ve had other therapists. I’ve been aware for a long time that I’m fuckball nuts, that I have trust issues and that I tend far too much toward solitude. They weren’t all good therapists. There’s the one who, when I was a teenager, told my parents that I had sought out a therapist thus turning the drama in my life up to 11 when what I needed was just someone to vent to and with. She wasn’t licensed, by the way. She was a well-meaning “volunteer” at a teen crisis center, and she sucked ass. There was the therapist my parents took me to, the one I didn’t get a say in choosing. I have no idea if she was any good or not. I resented everything about the process (except doing inkblots, that part was cool… up until the shrink told my parents about it all and I realized I couldn’t trust her either). There were brief meetings, attempts at finding someone, but I never found anyone I could stomach. Eventually I gave up.

After my suicide attempt, they took me to the hospital in an ambulance. I honestly don’t remember much of that ride, mostly because I was still gorked out on pills I guess. I remember the moments of dark hilarity, like when they brought me lunch in the hospital. They had posted a guard to watch me, one that had a gun and everything. I remember thinking, what’s he gonna do if I try to kill myself? Shoot me? They took my clothes, took my shoes, took the drawstring out of the scrub pants they gave me… and then gave me a fork with my lunch. I couldn’t explain why I was laughing, though I was still crying at the time. The guard just chalked it up to me being fruitier than a nutcake, I guess, but I laughed my ass off. A fucking fork.

Anyway, therapists. There was a suicide counselor. Talk about professions named completely what they aren’t. She wasn’t there to advise me about suicide. She was an anti-suicide counselor. Why did you do it, how do you feel now. She was there to see if I was still a danger to myself or others. She was the one who got to decide if I got a 72-hour psych hold or not. Sometimes I wonder if I coulda lied my ass off and gotten out of there, but I don’t think so. I mean, I’m a good liar. I’m a really, really good liar.

But as it happened, I wasn’t in the mindset to lie. I was… To embrace the melodrama of a post-suicide hospital watch, I was In Despair. I didn’t want to be alive, I wasn’t happy to be alive. I wasn’t glad I’d been stopped. I was so angry that I had failed to kill myself, that I had fucked it up. I felt like I had blown my chance and now it would be just that much harder to do it right. I told the woman, calmly as I could while still crying, that she and I both knew that no one could stop me. The second they gave me an opportunity, I was going to try again and I’d get it right. I argued with her about why they stopped me, why they felt they could lock me up.

To what purpose, I wanted to know. What were they saving me for? It was my life to use or discard as I wanted. I hadn’t done anything massively destructive, I hadn’t even charged a police station with a gun to make someone else kill me. I had considered my options and chosen this path. It wasn’t up to anyone else to choose a different one for me. Naturally, she disagreed. Or rather, she said it was her job to keep me alive, not to debate the philosophy behind it, or even the morality of it. It didn’t matter if she agreed or not.

Yeah, so that’s how I ended up in the nut house. Enter my next set of therapists, the people at Snowden. I got lucky, y’know. I coulda ended up someplace worse. Here’s the thing about this facility: they weren’t there to make me better. They were there to give me a few days to come to my senses. If I didn’t get my feet under me, they would have transferred me to a more long-term facility. In line with that purpose, the therapy sessions weren’t real therapy. They were group therapy.

Group therapy in a psychiatric hospital, for those of you who don’t know, is the most pointless exercise in emotive bullshit one can experience, excepting group therapy out of a psychiatric hospital. We sat in a circle every morning. They’d go around and ask one by one how we felt, what our goals were for the day, and was there anything we wanted to say. Then we got to do nothing until afternoon group activity, which was as awkward as it sounds, and then we had evening therapy where we got the same routine as morning except they asked us if we felt we’d accomplished our goals.

Here’s the thing, though. Once I stopped fighting it, it kinda worked. Kinda. In 72 hours, I learned how to give up control and let someone else help me. This, right here, is major for me. My entire life revolves around maintaining control and what I think will happen if I don’t. What happens if I let someone help. If I let people in. If I am not always strong, self-reliant, and super-capable. Or better stated, what happens if I let people see or even think that I’m not strong, self-reliant, and super-capable.

The first breakthrough happened because of a nurse there. I don’t know her name. I couldn’t sleep and we technically weren’t allowed out of our rooms after lights-out, but they let us as long as we were quiet. My psychiatrist hadn’t prescribed any sleep aids for me (dur), and I was unable to let go and sleep. A nurse came out to talk to me. She had a Jamaican accent. She soothed me like I was a friend, not a child. She made me a cup of chamomile tea. And she talked to me with that lovely voice. She helped me. I let her. I slept.

She’s one of the many reasons I’m alive. She should’ve been my first therapist.