THE DANCE OF DISSOCATION

It’s a tricky thing, dissociating.  Especially when you don’t recognize that it’s happening.  One minute you’re listening to the conversation around you, and then you’re not.  Someone says something to you, and you realize you have no idea what the conversation is anymore.  Sure, this happens to everyone, once in a while.  Everyone zones out.  It’s the constancy that’s different.  The constant hijacking of the brain, where you no longer know where you are, or, even, who you are.  The black spaces where there is nothing.  Not knowing how you got to where you’re going.  Or why you’ve even gone there.

Then there are the triggers:  a touch, a frangrance, some random piece of conversation and you’re transported back to a not so safe place.  Staring off into space, in your own personal hell.  This happened to me at therapy this week.  We weren’t even talking about anything overtly triggery, and yet, there I was.  Gone.  And when I came back, my ability to talk was gone.  I couldn’t even really grunt.  My poor therapist.  I couldn’t even write down what I was suffering.  I could sort of draw stick figures, like a four year old.  Trying to communicate how lost I felt was impossible.  Fortunately, I had my art book with me, and could point out on my drawing of “The Pit”  who I was (which she had already figured out), and where I was in relation to everyone else.  Now comes the difficult part:  how to tell her one of my emotional parts (EP) self-harmed.  Not me, my skin is still intact.  But my EP did.  It’s a weird thing, to close your eyes to have a pep talk with yourself, and to see yourself with bleeding arms.  Obviously, this was very distressing to me.  But I had already gone over my session by forty minutes.  I wasn’t about to bring that up.  But I will this week.  Young One self-harming and Angry Dude drinking and smoking.  Sigh.  Doing what I really want to be doing.  It was so strong that Friday I even bought a pack of cigarettes.  Gave them to Josh Friday night, and was really craving them Saturday morning. So I’m glad to have given them up.

HOPE

Hope: n. A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen
v. Want something to happen or be the case

Hope is a very pregnant word. Pregnant with promise, with desire, with expectation. A feeling of better things to come. A small word with big meaning. When things are black and stormy in my life, I hope they get better. Sometimes I feel this hope is misplaced, especially when I’m deep in the pit; when it’s hard to reach out a hand and ask for help. It’s getting easier these days. When my therapist says to hang on, the depth of these feelings in transient, I have faith in her word, and trust and hope she’s right. And she always is. I always come through. And lately I can say I come through unscathed. Weary, oh gods, am I weary. But it’s been months now since I’ve self harmed. Even the most recent scars have faded to pale lines, no darker than the rest of them. She tells me that self injury had a place in my toolbox of survival long ago, BUT THINGS ARE DIFFERENT NOW. And she is correct in that. I’m different in my body and being. I see the urges for what they are: lying monsters.

The monsters wail
Begging to be fed
Promising light after the blood
To slumber in the post pain haze

I know the truth
Of their existence
Never sated, always begging for more
The cravings deep

Alone in the night
With the monsters in my head
In my heart
In my soul
Filling the cracks with blood
In the place of tears

SOMATIC MEMORY

The past couple of days have been really really tough. Stuck between hyper and hypo arousal constantly shifting back and forth. Moments where I’m overwhelmed by fear and can’t breathe, and then moments where the slightest sound makes me jump. Even though my mind finds no connection between the here and now and this feeling of doom, I have a full blown fear reody response. My therapist did get back to me today, (YAY!) and she said it sounds like I’m having somatic flashbacks. I should have recognized this right away. What is a somatic flashback? It’s your body remembering, not your brain. “Memory is reminding you about the state of your being all those years in childhood and adolescence when you were in danger” is how my therapist worded it in her email to me today. I lived in fear growing up. Beatings from my father were a daily, consistent thing with him. The only thing that was. And I had a real rough session this week. Last week brought up a lot of history, how no one noticed the sad little me acting out and begging for attention. And this week brought more of that to the fore. And just like I did in adolescence, I’m living a double life of sorts here at home again. My parents don’t know about my cousin molesting me. They don’t know about the abusive relationship I was in at 15. They don’t know about my sexual assault three years ago. They don’t know I’m living with PTSD and Borderline Personality Disorder. They think my therapy is for my anxiety. I have to keep so much hidden, while living in the house where I grew up abused. They say you can’t heal in the environment that broke you, but I am. Granted, things are different now. I’m a grown woman with a voice. My body and being are different. It’s now 2019 and I am no longer in danger from anyone.

So I orient to the here and now. I’m in my room, the room I grew up in, focusing on what’s different. My bookcases, the books in those cases. My bed. The decorations on the wall. The flooring. The sheets on my bed. All things that are from the present. Nothing in my room remains from the past except my bear, Bettina, who has been with me since I was six months old. She has been the one constant in my life. I have been struggling with the desire to self harm this weekend. That, too, was a constant in my life for many years. It had its purpose then. But things are different now. I need to remember this with the very core of my being. All my emotional parts need to recognize that we are no longer trapped in trauma time. I have so many new coping tools and a great support network. Parts of me may be trapped in the past, but I have the strength, courage and determination to show them a better future.

SAFETY CONTRACTS AND SELF HARM

I’ve been with my therapist for about three years now. One of the first things she did was put me on saftey contract. I am proud to say, in that three years, I have only intentionally violated it once. I say intentionally, because the things she considers to be self harming behaviour are myriad. Not using my seatbelt in the car, driving too fast on the highway, not eating right, even not maintaining good sleep hygiene. All of which I’m guilty of at some point. I’m finally at a point where my med compliance is no longer an issue, just a struggle. When I’m feeling good, I don’t think I need them. When I’m not feeling good, I feel what’s the point. So it’s a constant struggle. But the main focus of my contract is the obvious, direct ways I harm myself: drinking and cutting. And after yesterdays session, the struggle is real. I even reached out to her about it last night. She didn’t respond, but as I was in no real danger, I wasn’t really expecting her to.

Self harm. Two little words. The act of hurting oneself. Doesn’t really sound too bad, does it? I even managed to inflict a bit on myself while in her office yesterday, squeezing my hand too hard and leaving deep imprints of my fingernails, took a bit of skin off. She commented on how easy it is to fall back into old ways of coping. It left marks which still are there, though faint, today. It’s so deeply imbedded in my pysche as the only way out of emotional distress, be it feeling too much or too little. And right now I’m feeling too much. Way too much. I can’t even define all that I’m feeling. I tried to in her office yesterday, and last night when I was dying for a sharp to drag across my skin. Lost. Alone. Sad. Melancholic. Overwhelmed. Not present. Broken. Hurt. And a multitude more floating through my brain and body. And that’s what’s so damn hard about this. The feelings are so strong, they’re painful. My body hurts from carrying them. The release of a little blood seems a fair price to pay for the relief. But one of the last things she said to me yesterday was, “Remember your contract. A promise.” A promise to her as well as myself to stay safe. And there are days I curse that contract. That promise. If it was only with myself, it wouldn’t be so bad. I could live with that. But the shame I would feel going into her office next week, and having to say, “I fucked up,” keeps me strong. That and the fact that there are no readily available sharps that I can access. I have a disposable razor in the bathroom, one I keep for emergencies like this. However, the fact of the matter is, I would have to dig it out, dismantle it, and then carry through with the very act I have sworn not to. Many opportunities to pause and think things through. Which she would not hesitate to point out. Something I really value in her is her refusal to accept bullshit answers and provide clarity when things are muddy to me. So rather than face that, I stayed in bed, my safe zone. Except when it isn’t. I try hard to keep my bed a safe place. Injuring myself in the bath, where it’s easy to clean up, or on the floor of my bedroom. My bed is sancrosanct. Not to say I haven’t used an x-acto knife that I forgot to put away while sitting there, focusing only on the imminent relief. That pressure valve which causes immediate and tactile release. But word is my bond. So I suffer. Like Tennyson wrote in Ulysses, “All times I have… suffer’d greatly, both with those/That loved me, and alone… One equal temper of heroic hearts,/Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will/To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

TIME TO SAY GOODBYE

It’s time to say goodbye. To say goodbye to the old me. The stuck me. The unmotivated me. The me that sits on the couch all day, thinking about all the things I’d like to do, if only I could get up of the couch. The habits formed while in a severe depression slough slowly, not wanting to be given up. They certainly don’t go without a lot of will power. Something I have been short of my whole life. I have started seeing a Feldenkrais practitioner, who has done wonders for my extremely bad posture resulting in bad knees and a bad back. I’ve also started Qi Gong, which is also helping with my posture and joint issues. My therapist states that Qi Gong is all about fluidity, something my body is definitely lacking. It’s a Chinese standing meditation, so it’s good for my mind as well as my body. I’m not up to practicing it every day, but I’m up to three times a week. My goal is to make it to every day. I’ve started doing it twice a day on the days I do it. I tend to go back to bed after the kids have left for school, but my therapist wanted me to try to practice at that time instead. My circadian rhythm is completely out of sync. I tend to stay up into the early hours and sleep during the days. I’ve always been a night owl. No one there yelling at you, or hitting you, telling you what a screw up you are. Reading in peace. The world is a calm place. Something my young self needed desperately.

It’s time to embrace the daylight. And with it, life again. Spring is just around the corner, an excellent time for new beginnings. I never understood why we celebrate the new year in January, when everything is just cold and dreary. The spring equinox makes much more sense to me. The earth is waking up from it’s cold slumber, and everything is fresh and new. I always feel more energized in the spring, and this spring more so, as I have been in the depths of soul destroying depression. Thoughts of suicide have been a daily companion for so long that I now only notice them in their absence. The only down side is that with their disappearance, the sirens call of self harm gets louder. It has been months since I caved to their voices, and I don’t intend on doing so again. I quit smoking just after Christmas, now to give up vaping, the lesser of two evils. I am slowly decreasing the amount of nicotine in the juice I vape, so it will only be a matter of time before I completely nicotine free. Another step to the new me. Saying goodbye to old habits.

BIPOLAR OR NOT

Last year my doctor sent me to see a psychiatrist for an assessment and med adjustment. He’s generally a decent general practitioner, but we’ve been struggling for years to get me stable. I have a history of needed to take three months or so off of whatever job I’m doing because of stress. My previous therapist thought I might have a type of bipolar. No one was sure, so off for an assessment I go. PTSD, depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder,
and cyclothymia. Which I didn’t understand. I get depressed enough that I’m suicidal, and I’ve made an attempt in the past. That being said, a mood stabilizer in conjunction with my anti-depressant has made all the difference. That, and I’m now working with a trauma specialist. Doing EMDR. This year, I went for another assessment. A different psychiatrist this time, who read the notes of the previous one. Saw me three times, instead of just forty minutes. No bipolar diagnosis this time. PTSD, persistent depressive disorder, borderline personality disorder, and general anxiety. Says my symptoms of BPD overlap a lot with the BP, and that the meds often work in tandem together when the antidepressant isn’t enough even without the presence of bipolar. We talked about the BPD diagnosis, and the main reason for the diagnosis is history: self injury, suicide attempts, and, most telling, the feelings of self-loathing and feeling empty and numb. She said with the amount of trauma I’ve experienced, it was inevitable that I would wind up with BPD. So now I’m struggling with yet another identity, one that I have avoided for years. I remember my ex yelling at me, at one point, “I’m not the only borderline here”, yet I was the only one actively seeking help. My therapist told me not to worry about the diagnosis. It basically means I have C-PTSD, (Complex Post Traumatic Syndrome Disorder) and I’m doing the hard work to get better. So that’s something at least. It explains these long, empty nights where I feel so numb and the siren call of self-injury is so strong, even though I’m not feeling depressed. Just numb.

A BLACKNESS DARK

In the dark
Defenses are thin
The monsters howl
Begging to be let in

The rain falls down
A staccato beat on the roof
Echoing the tears in my heart
That will not fall

Access denied
Feeling aloof
To the pain in my soul
A blackness dark
Coats my very existence

The monsters wail
Begging to be fed
Promising light after the blood
To slumber in the post pain haze

I know the truth
Of their existence
Never sated, always begging for more
The cravings deep

Alone in the night
With the monsters in my head
In my heart
In my soul
Filling the cracks with blood
In the place of tears

RAVENOUS

Feel the need in your soul

The dark longing

Deep within

Face to the sky

Hungering for truth

For peace

Aching for something lost

An empty vessel

Full of want

Full of desire

Craving something so deep

It will never be sated

The ebony darkness

Caresses you

A lover that calls to you

Seductive and false

The moonlight dances

On the scars on your skin

On your psyche

It knows all your secrets

Even the ones

You keep from yourself

The hunger

The void

The vast emptiness

Within you

The one that calls for comfort

In any shape

In any form

The one that keeps

You up at night

Cold sweat on the pillow

The Beast has no name

Knows only it is ravenous

Rapacious

And under the moon

Most powerful

The starlight

Tickles its hunger

For flesh

For the blade

For release

In any shape

By any means

The Void so deep

An abyss in your soul

Nothing fills it

Nothing sates it

No warmth

No heat

Endless longing

Meaningless sounds

Spew forth

Conveying

How voracious

The appetite is

For flesh

For blood

Anything to take the edge off

If only

For the moment

SIREN

The last few weeks have been brutal. I know in the very depths of my being that things will get better, but right now they’re just so hard.

SIREN

I stare at the water

It’s aqua waves calling

Inviting to slip under

Into Oblivion

I walk away

From the Sirens call

The blades in my hand

Beckoning tantalyzing

One quick swipe

And freedom

I walk away

From the Sirens call

Through the heart

The silver moonlight

Dances on the thinnest of knives

Kill the heart

That causes all your pain

I walk away

From the Sirens call

I walk away

From the Sirens call

WAY TOO FAST

Pulled down by the undertow

Staring up at the sun

Unattainable

Sinking fast

Tired of the fight

Can’t keep my head above the water

Current moving down

Way too fast

The salt on my cheeks

Can’t look up up

Overwhelmed by the tide

Way too fast

Drowning in my tears

Can’t breathe

Can’t see beyond the blood

Life drags by

Way too fast

SHAME AND SELF LOATHING

I’ve been struggling with the facts that I stayed in a very abusive relationship with a much older man when I was 15.  I stayed until he ended it shortly before my 18th birthday because, as he put it, I got too old.  Despite the reassurances of my amazing therapist, Vera, I somehow still feel responsible for staying. Over the holidays, my young teenage self was badly triggered and I spent a solid two weeks,  at least, battling the urge to self harm.  Angry Dude (another part of me that has separated from the rest) has been bubbling up with rage and the two have been feeding off of each other. I finally let Angry Dude out, with some careful boundaries.  NO SELF-HARM!!!  Instead, he did some writing.  Harsh, angry words at me for going back again and again.  Here is his story:
IDIOT
You went back

Again and again

Knowing full well

What was in store
IDIOT
You hungered for 

His small mercies

Carfully played

After he used you
Good Girl

My Slut
Positive reinforcement

Being claimed

Being wanted
IDIOT
Was it enough

Was it worth it
The fist in the hair

The violent sex

The beatings
Was it worth it

Going back

Again and again
IDIOT

Not strong enough

To walk away

Though given ample

Opportunity
IDIOT
You let him do things 

No one should endure

Just for his approval

Those damning words

That get me every time
Good GIrl

My Slut

IDIOT
How could you not see

The end

How could you think 

It would last forever
IDIOT
Did you really think 

He wanted YOU? 

Claimed

He said

Your heart

Your body

Your mind

Mine
IDIOT
To be so naive

The beatings

The gang rapes

The timeouts in the closet
IDIOT
There was nothing you

Wouldn’t do for him

Nothing you wouldn’t

Let him do
Your innocence

Your dignity
You gave it all up
For what? 
A gentle touch

A kind word

Thrown like a bone

To a starving dog
IDIOT
You lost so much

Of yourself

Unable to find

Your true self
Given all up for

A gentle word

A false sense of belonging
IDIOT
How could you not see

What he was doing to you

Using you

Corrupting you

Defiling you
IDIOT
How could you believe 

How could you keep

Going back

For more

And more
IDIOT
Now you’re broken 

Beyond repair

Vera can’t help fix

The shattered

Remnants

Of your destroyed

Soul
IDIOT

FOR A LITTLE WHILE

The blood flows
Taking the pain
The heartache
With it
A temporary release
If only for a little while

Escape as the blood flows
The endorphin rush
Freedom at last
If only for a little while

Past and present
No longer matter
Only the here and now
As the blood flows
Bringing with it
Sweet release

If only for a little while

RELEASE

The blades they beckon
The blades they call
Crimson rivulets
Running down

Release
Relief from the pain
Of too many
Yesterdays

So many years ago
Still torment me
As fresh as though
Experienced today

The blades they beckon
The blades they call
Crimson rivulets
Running down

ANYTHING 

Long days
Longer nights
The scars on my soul
Aching

Aching for the
Unknowable
Unattainable
Dead eyes in the mirror
Staring back

Belie the turmoil
Just under the skin
Marked in the desire
To feel something

Anything

CONTRACTS

So I just realized it’s been almost three months since my therapist renewed my “Contract For Survival”.  Basically it’s a comittment to use my tools before self-harming, and to check myself into the hospital if the suicidal ideation becomes more than just ideation.

What got me thinking about it is tonight I really feel like self harming.  I’m not depressed, I’m not triggered, I just feel the need to feel SOMETHING.  Since my last med adjustment, life has felt flat. As miserable as being in The Abyss was, at least it was something.  I miss the highs, and am starting to wonder if the lows aren’t worth the price to pay.

My life feels like boring pastels, just a shade up from gray.  No vibrancy, no fire.  I miss the fire.  And it’s not as though I get manic, I just suffer from low grade hypomania.  Bad decisions regarding money, sex, whatever.  But isn’t that what life is about?  Making decisions that leave you feeling alive?  NOT stuck in some dull, flat, emotionless pit.  Recently I just had three of my poems published in an ebook.  That were requested. And I was excited for precisely 23 minutes.  And then back to ho hum. And that lack of reaction made me realize I’m missing out on so much emotion because I’m dulled.  Even my poetry is lacking.  It’s so frustrating.  First, the cognitive dulling, now the lack of emotion. I feel like a golem, going through the emotions, pretending to be human.

So this week I’m asking my doctor if we can take my lithium down to 600mg from 900, withough increasing the 15mg of Abilify I’m on. Wish me luck, I think I’m going to need it.

And no, I haven’t self harmed, at least not yet.

SELF FLAGELLATION

Razors and alcohol
Violence upon oneself
Casual encounters
Sitting ’til frozen
Immovable with stiffness

Sleep deprivation
Poor nutrition
Scalding showers
Skipping meds

The endless ways
We punish ourselves
For the sin of
Being human

SIRENS CALL

The sirens call
Ebbs and flows
Like the water
She calls me to

The sirens call
Deep and crisp
Like the lines on my skin
She calls me to

The sirens call
Warm and bitter
Like the drink
She calls me to

The sirens call
Cold and dark
Like the oblivion
She calls me to

Lachrimal Failure

Sorry that it’s been a while since I posted. I’ve been sunk in a black depression where the only way out seemed to be death. Fortunately, I made it through the worst of it. Sadly, I am unable to write when I’m deep in The Abyss. Now, I’m in that gray area I call The Pit. Not clear by any means. But breathing again, if so shallow that I am constantly gasping for air as if I’m drowning. Oh the joys of permanent hypoarousal.

It feels that a lot of my angst would be alleviated if only I could cry. I mean I do shed the odd tear when something touches me. But that’s all it is. The odd tear shed. I haven’t cried in almost ten years. I’m certainly due. But I can’t. Curled up in a ball needing that release so bad it’s a physical pain. And nothing. In the past I would self harm to release that pressure. However, my trauma therapist has me on a no harm contract, so that is no longer an option. I have, finally, found my poet’s voice again. Enjoy.

On my knees
Begging to let go
Unshed tears
A fire in my soul

Heart pounding
Eyes burning
A fierce lump
In the depth of my throat

Lines of crimson
Lachrimal release
The knot in my core
Still ever present

The pain
The ache
The sorrow
No way to let go

And Up We Go

So after months of being one hundred types depressed and anxious,  the past three days have been a glory of the joy of the mixed state.  Hyper and depressed at the same time.  It is a weird place to be and feels dangerous. I hope it passes soon into a full blown hypomanic phase; I could use some feel good time. 

But that brings up an interesting point: I tend to want to deal with the upswings the way I deal with the down swings: by self harm.  A little while ago,  I was forced to look my self harm in the eye with a contract that my trauma therapist had me sign.   And since I’m working hard at getting better,  I decided to inventory all the ways I self harm. I mean,  there’s the obvious types,  the drunken bouts,  the cutting, the casual sexual encounters,  but there’s so many subtle ones,  insidious in their perfidy. 

I came to a semi lucid conclusion that I react to both the highs and lows the same way because the same emotions underlie both states, Pain being first and foremost. 

And that is a hard admission for me to make. I don’t like owning my emotions. Hell,  I don’t like admitting that I even have emotions. I’d love to be an emotionless android, but such are daydreams of childhood. 

Frustration
Irritation
No pain
To release it

Sadness
Anger
No pain
To release it

No rivulets of
Beautiful shades of crimson
Calming
The fear
The melancholic
Despair

Living in pain
With no pain
To release it

Anniversary’s Suck

Life finally settled into a rhythm. Depressed but surviving. Suicidal ideation just a constant companion, no longer a siren song to be fought with every breath. And then,  from out of no where more Flashbacks.  Vivid. Flashback doesn’t cover  the re-creation my mind puts me through.  I can feel his body pinning mine,  his hand around my neck, squeezing until I lost consciousness.  And coming to only to realize he hadn’t missed a beat. 

October 30th. Coming up fast. And the body realizes it. The subconscious mind knows it.  I honestly don’t know how I’m going to get through this.  Yes, I survived the reality of it. But reliving it night after night.  It wears after a while.  My life was a living nightmare after.  I don’t want to experience that horror day and night again. 

The self harm calls strong. The alcohol and the razors. To numb the pain or watch it bleed out. To surrender to the forces of Darkness and have a moments respite. 

Damn my  contract for survival and the fact that my word is the only thing I set of myself as having value. Though I’m sure that I could  loophole the getting drunk. No I can’t. I’d know my intent, and that’s all that really matters. 

Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. 

Frustration
Irritation
No pain
To release it

Sadness
Anger
No pain
To release it

No rivulets of
Pain
Beautiful shades
Of crimson

Calming
The fear
The melancholic despair

Living in Pain
With no pain
To release it

When My Heart Weeps 

A few weeks ago I came very close to drowning myself.  The emotional pain was so overwhelming I was in the lake before I even realized it.  I subsequently went home  and self harmed.  So my trauma therapist put me on a Contract for Survival.  Basically I contracted with myself to in no harm my person.  

My word is my bond. If you matter enough to me I to give you my word I will go to whatever lengths necessary to keep it.  And therein lies the rub.  The contract isn’t with her.  It’s with me.  And I don’t set my life at a pins fee.  So where does that leave me.  Stuck in a kind of limbo.  And nights like tonight…  Well…  the struggle is real. 

When the heart weeps
Yet no tears come

When words won’t come
And all that is left
Is an unnameable
Something
That begs release

Escape

A way out
From the too too much
That cannot be
Identified

How does one
Find release
From what one does not
Recognize

Except to let it out
In blood
And pain