Archive for the ‘Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder’ Category
…but thinking of starting a new blog. Fresh starts and all that.
I was almost-recovered & hence completely forgot to update. But since beginning treatment for PTSD, I am now not-very-recovered-at-all and so thinking it might help to start writing again. They say it has to get worse to get better but I’m not sure how much worse it can get.
Hopefully this won’t be offensive to anyone, in general, with its topic matter. Warning for discussions of self harm, eating distress and general madness.
I think when one is first diagnosed with a mental health problem, or first realise it, or whatever… it can become strongly entrenched in your identity. Even others, actually especially others will make it your identity for you. I was Outwardly, the 16-year-old depressive, the 16-year-old self harmer, the 16-year-old bulimic. I was the “overdose in cubicle 3″, the “DSH, known to CAMHS” in the paediatric waiting room. I started out identifying with self harmers on forums, curious about the lifestyle of my brothers and sisters in this futile war against our physical selves. I identified with my brothers and sisters in the futile war against the next meal, the next concerned facial expression from a loved one, the next pound dropped.
Then I identified with the other young people held in a psychiatric unit. We, young people, the next generation, who were meant to be living “the best years of your life”. Drugged into oblivion, occasionally sparking into life when something interesting was on the hospital menu. Encouragement to get out of bed, to get dressed, to go to classes were met with the quite reasonable question: Why should I? Why should we, indeed, when this was how it was. Messed up crazy kids on a messed up crazy kids ward. No outside friends, brief phone calls to family on occasion, feeling the sun on our faces only if there were enough staff to control us outside. Yep. That was us, the Messed Up Crazy Kid Brigade.
Then you start wanting out. You don’t want to be the 18, 19, 20… heck, 40-year-old ”DSH in cubicle 3″. You know that you have a condition or illness or distress to come to terms with, but you don’t want that to define you. You want people to look at you and think of how funny you are, or how bad you are at maths, or that time you wore that shirt that really shouldn’t have suited you but it did. You don’t want people to look at you and remember you being dragged into the back of an ambulance in the middle of the night. You don’t want people to talk to you and remember the time you screamed the vile details of being abused at them while dissociated.
Where is the equilibrium? How much can I forget, forge a new identity and yet still wonder what other people will remember of me? Is there actually anybody in there, in me, apart from the madness? Who would I have been, had none of this ever happened to me?
What, precisely, is recovery? Because this concept is starting to get my goat.
The Mental Health Foundation describes it thus:
What is recovery?
For many people, the concept of recovery is about staying in control of their life despite experiencing a mental health problem. Professionals in the mental health sector often refer to the ‘recovery model’ to describe this way of thinking.
Putting recovery into action means focusing care on supporting recovery and building the resilience of people with mental health problems, not just on treating or managing their symptoms.
Rethink Mental Illness has this to say on the topic of recovery:
Recovery as a concept is about the process of building a meaningful life as defined by the person with a mental health problem themselves.
There are four key component processes suggested:
- Finding and maintaining hope
- The re-establishment of a positive identity
- Finding meaning in life
- Taking responsibility for one’s life
Trying to work out how these relate to my individual story is difficult. Compared to how my mental health was 6 months ago or more, I could be considered “recovered”. My self harm is no longer severe, if it occurs at all. I’m attempting living without medication and I haven’t needed a “break” (of a psychiatric-facility nature) in this time.
There are still things that can trigger a full-scale emotional tits-up, things which I don’t thing are that obvious or understandable. Hearing a story about abuse or bullying in the news won’t set anything off, but I can spend a week or more in a state of constant anxiety over particular nicknames, or songs, or smells, or people behaving in a certain way. I still wake up screaming from nightmares and I still dissociate, quite noticeably “going offline” at times.
This is where I get confused. If I view myself from the point of the “model” of PTSD, these could be thought of as “symptoms” that will be “recovered” from. I’m starting to doubt how valid this is though. Not doubting the validity of the experience, but who would react quite normally and sane-ly when confronted with traumatic experiences? Wouldn’t adapting to such experiences as a normal part of life signal madness on someone’s part? Society as a whole would be in even more of a mess if we had no sense of justice, or self-preservation, or self-protection or… feelings.
So I don’t really know where this leaves me. Maybe the time will come when I’m not as severely affected by things. At what point can I say “that’s enough recovery, the rest of it is just being human”? Or vice versa maybe, how much of my reactions are being human and how much is mental illness?
I thought I’d put together some ramblings about things that I learnt over the course of several years of injuring myself, mainly from cutting. This doesn’t sound like any experience you could learn from, especially when I’m only 18 and therefore not necessarily old enough to have “learnt” anything! However, on reflection, and after going through what feels like thousands of distraction lists on the internet to kick this thing in the ass for good… I think I’ve actually got some good understanding from it. I hope it doesn’t sound too preachy and it’s just my experience but hey. Why not.
Lesson one: Self harm is…. invalidating.
Sounds obvious but it definitely wasn’t to me. I felt/feel/etc. as though being able to injure myself as a way of processing my feelings was very validating. I could “see” my pain. I could “take care of” my pain. I was being nice to myself. I was helping myself feel better.
Being told that you have made yourself look a mess by A+E staff when you are getting stitched up is not validating. Having stitches put in without anaesthetic because “self harmers would like it too much” is not validating. Causing yourself painful scarring is not taking care of yourself. Trying not to get infections, buying first aid supplies, rehearsing your “story” for the triage nurse…. it doesn’t deal with the actual problem. Having to hide wounds, bandages, scars, feeling ashamed to wear shorts or swimwear does not improve bad feelings about yourself. It doesn’t take care of the pain, it just gives you something else to think about for a while but it comes back. And like many addictions, you start off small, maybe “recreationally”. Before you know it, you’re down a road that can be really hard to come back out of.
That’s not to say that self harm hasn’t played a strange role in keeping me safe sometimes. The alternative to releasing those pent-up feelings would have likely resulted in a suicide attempt, and it was very helpful to have professionals that encouraged me to limit my self-injury, rather than ban it completely. But after 5 or so years of hurting myself, I’m not really any further forward. I have a lot of scars that hurt and a lot of horrible memories of being in hospital. It makes me sad to think about. I’m nowhere near recovery as yet and there are times I’ve hurt myself when dissociated and not really in control of what I’m doing. On a conscious level, though, I feel like I’m starting to figure out things I can do that make me feel a bit better without resorting to harming. Self harming didn’t really give me an immediate fix and neither do distractions. Maybe the “trauma” or whatever is just something I will have to deal with at some level for a long time yet. It’s very painful and upsetting but there is a certain freedom in trying to accept how you feel and realising there is no magic quick fix, whether it comes from a blade or from a DVD.
It’s crappy and it’s fine for it to be crappy, cos crappy things happened. And maybe I will go through all those freakin’ distractions and end up slipping up anyway but that’s okay because I’m human. And I tried. I’m not a failure if I slip up, sometimes the distractions just don’t work. But learning about them is a process, like learning to cope with uncomfortable feelings.
It’s a process, rather than a cure. Maybe I needed to get to the states of self harm I’ve been in to go through that process? Who knows.
I think this is the nicer mental-health-services term for “immense psychological collapse”. Whichever it is, I feel like I’m going through one of them.
The dissociative-type thing has come back in full force. I’m losing large chunks of the day with no recognizable trigger for it. I’ve been trying to employ the usual defences that are suggested by the crisis team and the MH team, like regular sleep, fresh air, exercise, healthy eating (?!) and so on; so when it doesn’t seem to be working, I get even more frustrated. I’ve lost my ability to read well which has really upset me. Reading has always been something that’s calmed me down and given me pleasure, but words simply don’t make sense. I can barely hold a conversation, the almost physical sensation of the chaos inside me is too distracting.
I’m still able to do artwork and play music, occasionally, because it doesn’t involve any human interaction and it keeps me active. I sound horribly selfish and blah but I literally cannot cope with people at the moment. Trying to read someone’s emotions from their face, deciphering an onslaught of speech and then forming a reply… it’s just too much. I haven’t self harmed which I’m pleased about, but the suicidal thoughts are becoming overwhelming. I’ve been tempted to take a relatively small overdose of benzos and/or painkillers – unconsciousness sounds infinitely more appealing than awareness right now.
I don’t see the point in harassing any of the mental health team or the crisis team – trauma is not their “area”. I was meant to be starting therapy but there was a mix-up and I am still months away from the top of the list. The professionals that I see have been clear on the boundaries of what they deal with and the effects of trauma are definitely not one of them. So I don’t really see the point in trying to talk to them. Meanwhile, the less-than-well-oiled machine of NHS talking therapy waiting lists continues to grind and my education/social life/hope goes down the crapper. Excuse my language.
I could complain a lot more but my attention span has reached it’s limit and I think I’m ready to go back to bed. Two hours after getting out of it.
Apologies for the poor quality and spelling and content.
Possible triggers for self harm, substance abuse, eating disorders and generally not very nice thoughts.
I have been released into the community, armed with benzodiazepines and not incredibly further forward than when I went in. My first night in my own bed involved DVDs, rum and a very poor excuse for a wound dressing. The night workers at the supermarket barely raise a brow when I arrive in the late evening at the self-checkout (how annoying is that woman’s voice?!) with various bottles and “sharps”. I don’t necessarily expect them to do anything, but seeing as nearly everyone I do know is indifferent at best towards this latest “episode”, it just makes me feel more invisible.
My team and I have come to an agreement that the aim is not treatment, per se, but management. It’s dreadful of me to say, but the term “management” makes me think of a palliative care patient. There is no treatment or hope - the vast arsenal of psychiatric and psychotherapeutic interventions have seemingly been tried, all that can be done for me now are sympathetic faces and making me as comfortable as possible while I wait to die. The poison that invaded me as a child has turned into some cancerous growth that is taking over my existence and I grieve for the person that I could’ve become, had this disease not taken it away.
I get even more upset when I think of how precarious the balance of my mind really is. I sit among people my age at college and wonder how many of them have families that need to know the protocol for having them detained under the Mental Health Act. It scares me that one day, my family will be faced with that decision, that I would have no control over what people do to me when control is the one thing I need so much. I understand now why people call it going mad. You are entering a strange land with laws and regulations that you don’t understand, in a language you don’t speak and every time you end up going down that path, you wonder if you’re going to return this time.
And I’m resentful and bitter and angry. When I eventually sleep, I am tortured by nightmares. When I’m awake, I’m back on the merry-go-round of cut/drink/purge/cut/drink/purge to just escape the chaos in my head. The sound of the phone ringing sets my heart pounding, someone coming up behind me makes me scream, I can feel thin layers of grains or seeds, some irritant, under the skin on my face. I can see it. I want to claw off the flesh and wash it away.
I don’t think I’m going to return from this one. I don’t know whether what’s happening in my head or what’s happened in reality is the scarier thing.
Hello lovely ones in the madosphere! I have been terribly neglectful of late with this blog. So I shall provide a muchly narcisstic bullet-pointed list of how I’ve been over the past few months.
- I entered a crisis house for several weeks, after uh… going mad again! The big, black, back-breaking boulder of depression hit me full force. My hair remained unwashed for a longer period of time than I’d like to admit on a public forum.
- My official complaint to my NHS Trust regarding my treatment has been completed.
- The results of such aree….
…….wait for it….
I am no longer diagnosed as having borderline personality disorder! Yay
But I have some new diagnoses! Woe
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which came as a complete surprise(!), depression & some form of strangely creature called anorexia. I say some form because it’s one of those murky areas of… psychiatric diagnosis that is never really clear. It’s all very smoky & mystical & mad!
- I may be approaching another “hyper” episode because I have not slept at all in several days & various other symptoms that are too boring to type down.
- I am starting college again very shortly, to study art. Oh yes! I am being frivolous!
- I may be changing this blog. As now technically I don’t “live life on the borderline” but “live life as a panicky, depressed anorexic”, I would like to blog more about the issues I (hopefully!) overcome growing up & going through education & blah.
Has anyone noticed I really really REALLY cannot concentrate on what I’m doing? I must sedate myself & try to get some sleep. Eeven 2 hours would be fabulous.
Humble apologies for disappearing off the face of the earth x
So I know this blog is primarily about personality disorder & my experiences of it – this could well be related to it but the following post will mainly have triggers for eating disorders &… I don’t know what. It’s just not very nice things being talked about.
At the moment, I am having real issues with night-time. It’s coming up to “bedtime” for me now & I can already feel my heart thumping. I know this sounds incredibly immature but let me explain..
I don’t know quite what’s going on, but I am… obsessed over the idea of being kidnapped from my bed in the night & nobody hearing. Stolen, for want of a better word. Why? I don’t know. I’m not worth being stolen in the first place. I have researched kidnappings, forced disappearences, missing people, etc. to a great degree. I frequent the UK Missing People website regularly, as well as the Kidnappings & Missing Persons section of the FBI website. As I say, I don’t think I’m worth being stolen, apart from sexual slavery maybe. I can’t see why the governments or intelligence services would want to take me because I have no information. Statistically, I have a better chance of waking up in the same bed in the morning in the UK than the US. Unexplained disappearences are more likely in America, including people that just… aren’t there the next morning. It’s not even what would happen to me if I was taken, it’s the empty bed the next day.
Recently, I’ve been feeling more fragmented in a dissociative sense. I’m going from very young (maybe around 5 or 6), to whoreish teenager (13+?) to some ageless personification of anger & destructive power. I forget periods of time, a few minutes to a few hours. Sometimes I am here but not. I have dreams where *I* have died & nobody wants to touch my corpse because it stinks so bad, so I have to find my remains somewhere. Locked up in the boot of a car, cut up & scattered in a ditch… & what’s scaring me so much is that one day I won’t be here anymore. I will be at the mercy of whatever power is trapped in my mind. My bed will be empty one morning, because “outwardly” won’t be there. It brings a whole new meaning to “losing your mind”. Your mind is lost, but where does it go? Some of these missing people are never found & declared legally dead after a while. Will that happen to me? Outwardly will be stolen by the powers & declared legally dead – it won’t be me inhabiting this body. Where will I have gone? One day I might forget time & never come back & where will have I gone?
I am struggling with my eating disorder at the moment. Obviously I am still grossly fat, my weight is hardly budging except for a few pounds. I am having a lot of blood tests right now as the purging is messing around with the levels of… stuff. I think I’m going to buy an exercise bike & exercise during the night, so I am awake & can try & avoid being stolen as much as possible. Sometimes I think all these weird thoughts with the flashbacks are making me lose my mind.
& so the fight for treatment goes on. At the moment, I don’t think I’m strong enough to cope with a session of being called a horrible person by my care team, so I’m avoiding them. They don’t believe I have an eating disorder, although my physical health provides evidence otherwise, & so the eating disorder team/unit cannot start treatment until the CMHT let go. I’m reaching the point where I don’t want help. It’s enevitable that I will get stolen, or my heart will just give the middle finger salute & give out, so why am I trying?
I will probably delete this at some point, I sound pathetic.
My tutor would be proud I am using my English skills… maybe not in the way I’m having to now, though!
After several phonecalls and messages to the local NHS Complaints Service, I got in touch with someone and relayed my initial concerns. I recieved a letter a few days later explaining my options – see if PALS could do anything, or bring in the big guns and go for a full Official Complaint.
Guess what this crazy little borderliner chose…
….obviously the latter option. We just love the drama!
No, really, I have tried being nice with them. Various family members have tried being nice. My old support worker tried being nice. Hell, family friends have tried being nice! But everyone enjoys, when reaching out for help, being told that “nobody’s keeping you here”. Surely that’s an of-sorts admission of providing a lame service?
I’m glad that I like typing and writing letters, because I am writing a lot of them now! I’m going to request copies of my notes at the CMHT (enjoyable reading, I’m sure) which I have to do by letter. Then there is the official complaint letter where I vomit my woe onto several pages in the hope that something changes. Part of the complaint is detailing what you’d like to happen or be resolved. To be honest, after the treatment I’ve experienced, I would much rather be referred somewhere else or at least see someone different. So much is being locked in while I have nowhere to express it, as I’ve been denied accessing trauma/sexual abuse counselling because I “should” talk to my care co-ordinator. I may be being overly emotional about the subject, but I don’t think you can force someone into opening up about things, especially things like that.
Considering one of the major goals for my transfer from CAMHS to the CMHT was more specialised trauma therapy (whether that genuinely contributed to BPD or not), the lack of it, more to the point, the blatant disregard of sensitivity and respect for my experiences and reactions to it is… upsetting to say the least.
Things in general have been going downhill, relating to my ED and flashbacks/intrusive memories. I don’t want to go into details, I don’t see why I need to, at least at the moment. But things aren’t great and I just wish this complaint process would be over with and I was seeing a team more supportive and just yes.
Only a few weeks left and my first year at college is over. Things are going to get much harder and I just don’t know if I’m ready for it yet. I don’t know if I can deal with anything right now.