Archive for the 'Triggers' Category



Broken heap on the floor

On Thursday we got a call from ACC.  After three months deliberation on our case, they made one minor change.  M asked how our corrections to the report had been factored into this decision.  ACC response – what corrections?  They had never received them, or lost them.  To put this into context, we started this process in February of last year, it’s gone through about five different variations on the report and now gone to mediation.  It took us two weeks and a lot of strength to write those corrections which involved correcting the details of our abuse and more devastatingly, writing anywhere for the first time that the father sexually abused us.  So this was highly confidential, soul destroying information… and they LOST it!  It could have ended up anywhere, anyone could have been reading it – it had our name, address and everything on it.

When I’ve told people this, their immediate response is “Oh no, do you have a copy on your computer?”  Yes, of course we do.  I know that’s the reasonable response you give to an adult.  But SO holds the secrets on that bit of paper and she is 7.  All she sees is that we should never have told the secrets cos it’s bad and lots of people read it and it’s bad and we’s get into trouble and we’s bad and evil and it all our fault.  It becomes a mantra that we’re bad and evil for telling.  W and SO are closely linked within the system.  SO gets upset and W will react.  This action meant a call to the mental health crisis line on Thursday night to stop the suicide.  In typical form with our interactions with this team, the connection was bad and they were going to call back.  They did eventually – on Saturday.  We had the usual conversation:

Crisis Line: You’re suicidal, lets bring you in for an assessment.
Us: No thanks, your only option is hospital and that isn’t an option for me.
Crisis Line: No, we also have community placements or agree to regular contact for a week to see how you’re going.  We can also get you in to see one of our community psychiatrists.

Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?  Almost like they will be able to help.

Us: In my experience that has never happened.  I’ve been promised community placement, only to end up in the psychiatric ward.  I’ve had phone calls daily from your team and they’re more triggering than helpful.
Crisis Line: Well I’m sorry that has been your experience, let us know if we can help.

I know that those of you who haven’t experienced their services will say I’m being stupid for rejecting this assistance.  I know that they have saved many lives.  But our issues with authority and psychiatric hospitals mean that they are more likely to kill than save us.  We call them for the distraction, nothing more.

One of us called them again on Saturday night and we ended up being hauled in for an assessment.  It was hell.  We need peaceful surroundings and control when we’re suicidal.  But last night it was raining and there was international rugby on TV.  Those two factors meant that a great deal of the homeless had decided to be suicidal that night in order to watch the rugby, have a shower, get a meal and warm bed.  The shelters would’ve been overwhelmed, and they know that if you say you’re suicidal, they have to admit you.

We managed to get out of the hospital and get to the relative safety of home.  But we’re a mess.  The oddest things are triggering.  We know that people need to talk about how they cope with sex as a survivor.  But today, it’s too much.  It’s become about others not being safe – cos all sex hurts.

We’re in trouble and I don’t know how to fix it.

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Hospitals – the psychiatric type

In the town where we grew up, there was a psychiatric hospital.  It was spoken about in hushed whispers as a scary place where crazy people were fenced in and tortured.  In reality, the hospital catered predominantly for those who were institutionalised during a time in our history when those with even minor problems were often hidden away.  We were told as part of our abuse, that if we told the secrets we would be sent to prison or this hospital forever.  So our early contact with psychiatric hospitals was negative.

If you place these experiences within the context of our rather traumatic experiences with the medical profession, you get a picture of someone who has deep seeded issues and fears about all things medical.  The young ones especially react with terror even when driving by a hospital.  We avoid dentists, doctors and nurses where at all possible.  In many ways this fear enabled us to appear high functioning for many years – if there was a threat of having to ask for help through therapy or medication, well that just wasn’t acceptable.  Time to stamp it all back down into The Basement and carry on being invisible.

Then arrives the dissociative train wreck we experienced when about 34.  Our coping mechanisms fell apart.  Then there was the final straw – we were teaching a group of 40 students when something about the interactive whiteboard markers caused Angel to come forward.  So there you have a 5 year old drawing pictures of flowers on the whiteboard while a group of adult students look on.  M comes back to find half the board covered…

So back to therapy we went.  We were in the throes of an abusive marriage and suddenly facing a childhood that wasn’t as perfect as we’d convinced ourselves it was.  These factors led to constant suicidal ideation and intent, which in turn resulted in us needing to find some support to keep safe.

In New Zealand there are a few support lines for suicide help – Lifeline, Samaritans, Youthline, the emergency number or the local mental health hotline.  Lifeline, Samaritans and Youthline are confidential – unless they feel you are in danger, in which case they will try to get your details and send around the Police.  Emergency services transfer you through to the mental health hotline, unless you are already need emergency care.  Once you’re in the mental health system, you are told to call the mental health hotline.  Usually you wait for 5-10 minutes on hold before the phone is answered – ever been suicidal during the Christmas season and had to listen to Christmas carols for 20 minutes while waiting to see if someone can help you stop killing yourself?  You can at least double the waiting time if you call after midnight, as that’s when they go down to one or two operators.

If you do manage to get through to a human, you’re asked for your details – name, phone, address, caseworker and then why you’ve called.  If they consider you to be at risk, they will send around the local mental health workers to assess you.  If they consider that you aren’t at risk, they will discuss grounding skills you can use before sending you on your way.  The problem with this is that at any one time we can have up to 5 suicide plans – apparently that means we don’t really mean to die as we’re not focused on one plan (we consider it covering our bases in case one doesn’t work).  We can also begin the phone call with one who wants to reach out for help; but by the time we get to actually talk to someone, we’ve switched to one who either won’t talk or says that everything is fine.  So in many ways the service doesn’t suit us (and a majority of the population).

If you are considered at risk, you get the joyful experience of being escorted up to the psychiatric ward of the local hospital.  Where you begin the wait for some poor registrar who has been working for at least 10 hours and is surviving on a combination of adrenaline, coffee and sugar.  This person then has to assess your level of danger.  Most registrars haven’t dealt with anyone with a dissociative disorder, let alone tried to understand if there really is a risk.  They have a thankless job of walking a tightrope – is the patient telling the truth?  To make this job more complicated, during our experiences with registrars they’ve encountered –

  • Aimee (9 yrs old and carefree) who smilingly told the nice young registrar that she was too young to drink.  Quite forgetting that the body she shares is in it’s mid 30’s and sitting cross-legged on a hospital bed while drips are hanging from each arm to pump us full of drugs to counter the drugs we’d OD’d on.
  • Sophie (16 yrs old) who is our safest bet for these assessments – no one would section Sophie.  The main problem is getting close enough to hear her as she talks very quietly when scared or worried.
  • M who is the other safe bet.  She’s confident and knows how to work the mental health system to ensure that we are released.  Release is always her goal as the young ones she protects are violently triggered by hospitals.
  • Ellie who won’t be sectioned as long as she can keep her swearing and scorn for the medical profession under control.
  • Frank who is the worst one to front for an assessment.  He doesn’t get suicidal, but doesn’t understand what constitutes aggressive behaviour as seen in the eyes of a psychiatrist.  He doesn’t actually get aggressive, but his anger at being in a hospital is seen as aggression.

It’s at this point where we’ve usually been sent home.  But on two occasions we’ve been admitted or sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Event 1:  Sectioning with two nights in hospital.

  1. Night of admission, put into art therapy room with triggering artwork around the walls.
  2. Given a single room across from an alcoholic man in his 40’s (the father is an alcoholic).
  3. As punishment for being admitted W used all of her strength to try and break the arms by bashing them against the storage unit in the room.
  4. A miracle was there in the form of a part-time night nurse.  She realised we wouldn’t sleep so asked if we wanted art supplies and then she sat and talked to us.  She didn’t care who she talked to, she just sat on the floor and let us talk and draw.  She got us Arnica cream for the bruised, swollen mess that was now our arms without a fuss.
  5. Then there was the daytime registrar.  We had asked to be released as the hospital was too triggering.  He went through the whole assessment again.  He asked why our symptoms made us special.  We tried to explain that we weren’t special, just sometimes experienced dissociation.  He dismissed the dissociation saying it wasn’t important.  Then when returning after talking to the consultant, said that the dissociation made us too unpredictable to release.  Yes, the one symptom that he totally dismissed, became the thing he used to keep us in.
  6. That night the same part-time nurse told us how to get out – say the words “I have no intent”.
  7. The following day a different registrar got the consultant to come in and talk to us.  He was going to let us out for the day, but M came forward and dazzled him with a veil of sanity.  We were outta there.

Event 2:  Admitted to the secure unit with one night stay.

  1. Saturday afternoon attempted suicide through an overdose and was taken to ER by the husband.
  2. Put on a drip and was overwhelmed by the dissociation.
  3. Overheard the nurses say that we hadn’t really overdosed, but were just attention seeking – our bed was right beside the nurses station and strangely enough the curtains aren’t sound proof.
  4. As soon as we were coherant, we asked to leave.
  5. After a 5 hour wait, we were assessed by the same psychiatrist who once picked up the phone while we were in the room and told the DBT specialist that “the borderline actually turned up, do you want to come meet her?”
  6. Because of all the triggers, Ellie and Frank weren’t able to control the anger very well.  We were escorted to the secure unit by the Police.  We didn’t threaten anyone or even raise our voice, but we were considered to be irrational and dangerous because of the barely contained rage.
  7. We were released the next morning.

If we are ever sectioned again, we’ll request to go to the secure unit.  It was comparatively peaceful and safe.  If any of the half a dozen patients even raise their voice, they are immediately surrounded by about four staff and taken away to be calmed down.  The only downside was that the cups of tea were lukewarm – hot water being a dangerous weapon.

This is a very light hearted look at our experiences.  In reality, during the sectioning Sophie was nearly destroyed when her twin came from The Basement to tell her why they were created.  The day after we were released from the secure unit, the ex-husband tried to kill us.  Other incidents have occurred while we’ve been waiting to be assessed, including one I’d like to forget where a patient masturbated while looking through the window at us.

We sit in wonder when people say that they voluntarily go to hospital.  It’s a concept that we don’t understand – why would you volunteer for torture, ridicule and scorn?  We know our perception is warped and that hospitals help people every day.  But it’s not something we identify with.  It was once recommended that we go to Ashburn Hospital for a minimum of six months to try and break our cycle of destructive thinking.  Just the thought of that was terrifying.  I wonder if part of the reason is that in New Zealand the focus within the psychiatric ward seems to be on holding you in a safe place until the suicidal intent goes, rather than helping you in a long term way.  It’s reactive rather than proactive.

—————-
Now playing: Dixie Chicks – Wide open spaces
via FoxyTunes

Hell & Anger

We did this clip over a year ago, but heard the song on the radio earlier and it reminded us about this clip.  Just trying to keep occupied…

Note: It contains images which are only suitable for adults and might trigger.

Photos and coping

It’s been a rough week.  There’s so much happening at work that it’s just chaos.  Work is usually our anchor – it forces us to get out of the house and interact with people.  But there have been so many changes that the anchor sort of got cut free for a few days.  We walked out on a meeting on Thursday – something we’ve NEVER done before (no matter how much we’ve wanted to).  Part of the changes, are a renovation to the office space, which will mean the area being reduced by 30m sq.  The flow on effect is that three people in our office are having to be relocated elsewhere in the organisation and another three people are going to have to be shifted from where they currently sit.  Ordinarily, we would have jumped at the chance to go to another office area, but the new office space is open plan with no walls behind the work station.  We HAVE to have our back to a wall, doesn’t matter where we are, we just do.  But everyone else in the office is suggesting that we move.  Our team leader and the manager know that we have to have a wall behind us, but the manager made a point out of talking about us during the meeting and using us as an example as to why some people can’t work in every office space.  That was the last straw, we had to get up and leave.  She’s a really nice person, but she’s not a good manager.

As a further blow, our cynical friend is one of the people moving out of the office.  She needs to do this in order to stay calm while her husband deteriorates from the cancer.  So the only person we talk to and laugh with is leaving the office.

All of this lead up to a fairly intense bout of suicidal intent.  We contacted (via email) the woman’s programme we go to and Liz detailing what was happening.  The interaction with Liz was interesting, it got to the point where we knew that if we didn’t head her off, we’d be sent up the the hospital for a risk assessment…

To Liz:
… shouldn’t have contacted you or anyone, it’s just attention seeking.  It will be fine, at work now and then go home and forget everything for awhile.

Liz’s response:
I have found that talking about things, hard stuff, etc does help.  If it had not done so, I don’t know where I would be today.

Are you attention seeking?  Doesn’t sound like attention seeking from where I sit.  Although saying it is, will be another way that you avoid talking / dealing with it, aye?  Of course talking about hard stuff can seem to make things worse. Do they get worse before they get better?  Sometimes it works that way.  Sometimes there can be immediate clarity and balance.  I would like you to know that I am available to talk about this situation when you are ready to.
Regards
Liz

She saw through our rubbish, avoidance etc.  Will be an interesting session tomorrow…

As for our photos… we’ve realised by taking photos that our focus of the world is very narrow.  We’re not comfortable with the expanse of a landscape and the idea of taking photos of people is absolutely terrifying.  We tried taking photos of the mother while she was here, but immediately dissociated.  Yesterday we went for a walk and tried to take some photos of the surrounding landscape (managed a couple – try 1 & try 2), but we much prefer the narrow focus (e.g. dew drop).  I wonder if this is about our style of photography, or being caught up in PTSD and dissociative issues?

Why you shouldn’t read newspapers

Today has been one of those last straw days.  It started out fairly normally, the traffic on the way to work was light because the university students are in the middle of exams.  Our cynical friend at work was in a good mood and it was all looking positive.  Then…

Blow 1:  Our cynical friend didn’t come out to morning tea with us all – which is unusual.  When we were walking back to our desk we saw the graphic surgical procedure pictures she was looking at.  They had found a cyst which they are going to operate on.  As if she hasn’t got enough on her plate.

Blow 2:  We’ve been nominated as the union representative for the workplace.  Considering how we don’t like arguments or confrontation, I’ve no idea why they elected us – especially as we refused to volunteer.

Blow 3:  Each website we visited today that had an Ad banner, was advertising the “Death Quiz”.  It invited you to fill in the quiz to find out when you would die.  Considering how suicidal we are at the moment, those subtle messages are not helpful.

Blow 4:  One of the most vivid abuse memories we have is an event that occurred on the grounds of the local kindergarten.  Today in the newspaper feeds, a headline jumped out – that kindergarten had been set on fire.  It started on the couch they kept on the porch.  How the kindergarten is used on the weekend at night as a gathering place for teens was mentioned.  SO and W are triggered so badly.  We were already unsteady, but this has pushed us over.

Blow 5:  We were 3 minutes late for our desk shift because we got caught up in a conversation about a major system upgrade that is happening next week.  Another team leader came up and yelled at us for being late in front of other team members.

It’s now 1am and we’re terrified of trying to sleep.  We know the nightmares will be there.  It’s just one bad day right?  We can do this……….

—————-
Now playing: Christina Aguilera – The Voice
via FoxyTunes

Issues that need tissues *Triggering*

Ever been thinking along harmless, innocent lines of thought only to be flattened by a new understanding or trigger?  We’ve just been reading Paul’s entry about dreaming and his question to David regarding his statement “I don’t think that’s what the dream is about at all. I rarely think that people in dreams actually represent themselves; they’re more likely, I think, to be aspects of the dreamer.”  We were thinking this statement over within our context in a very detached and subjective way.  To us, this statement means that you sometimes don’t want to face your own shortcomings, fears, personality flaws etc., so will project those characteristics onto another person within your dream – the person chosen may already have similar characteristics to create further barriers between yourself and the part of you that makes you feel uncomfortable, but it’s a self-protection strategy.  We were happily going off into a fairly well reasoned argument with ourselves about this when a little voice says “that’s why we created Frank, cos it couldn’t be Daddy doing that to us, so it had to be someone else, so we made up Frank”.  A conversation stopper if ever there was one.

As an explanation, Frank in an alter who is male and in his mid-late 30’s.  He is angry and abusive within the system – usually victimising S.  He’s rarely near the front, but when he is, it is usually as a very heavy form of protection.  I know that doesn’t make sense, but when Ellie and the other ones on the 2nd floor have to take control, Frank helps Ellie to ensure that safety is maintained.

We’ve actively worked against the idea that we were sexually abused by the father.  Some of the reasoning for this is sound, in that there are no memories of him sexually abusing us – we agree that there was a degree of psychological abuse, but not sexual.  Some of the reasoning is a little more shaky – it’s a cliché, he didn’t have the opportunity, it makes no sense and IT JUST DIDN’T HAPPEN OK!

There you have it, a long held argument as to why the father didn’t sexually abuse us.  Then little annoying facts are mentioned – what about after Nan died?  What about when the mother used to go sleep in the lounge because she didn’t want to be near him?  What about the night the ear drum burst?  How did we get to those parties if he didn’t take us?  What about all the late nights at the club?

The games the mind can play…  Two totally opposing truths sit within the one brain.  The very first therapist we saw asked us about sexual abuse, we immediately said “No”.  We’ve always had memories of some sexual abuse, but we didn’t want to look at it.  Part of this was because we thought that what occurred to us was normal.  If it wasn’t normal, then it must have been because we were such an evil little girl.  Who wants to talk about being so evil that people were forced to use you?  Management sure didn’t.  She was protecting Katie, W and SO.  No one messes with those three again without stepping over her dead and beaten body.  It was a double edged sword, M knew we needed help but knew that the help would hurt us further.  So she used the therapy as a form of wake-up call – repress all those feelings again or else we’ll be forced to look at things we don’t want to.  It worked, we didn’t need therapy for another 10 years.

Now we’ve been in therapy for about 5 years.  Once a week we go and sit through an hour of torture.  At times we regret the journey to healing that we’ve begun.  At times it feels as if it would be so much easier to end it all.  At times our desire to fight and heal is incredible.  We were once asked by a therapist if we regret starting therapy again, in many ways we do.  Who wants to know that the “little girl over there” that all those awful things happened to, wasn’t another little girl, but was you?

—————-
Now playing: Natalie Merchant – My skin
via FoxyTunes

Winning raffles…

Last week we won a $50 meat pack.  It’s the first time we’ve won anything in about 10 years :)  What’s rather amusing is that we can’t touch meat.  Today we got the call – our prize was ready to be picked up…

Problem: How do you pick-up a bulk meat pack when you can’t touch meat?
Solution: Get our cynical friend from work to come along as a meat carrier :)

So we sheepishly told our friend that we’d won this pack, but had issues with touching meat.  Thankfully she knows us pretty well by now – she has asked out of blue if we have multiple personalities in the past…  So she knows we have issues that need tissues.  She also wanted a break from work, so was more than happy to go with us.

We got to that school where we won the raffle – did you know that they have 6 foot high metal bar fences around schools now??  Well this school is in a low decile area with a high crime rate so it makes sense, but it was still a bit of a shock to see a school that was like a fortress.  We found the office and had to wait while they went off and got the pack.  Thankfully our friend is also a mother and just amazing woman, so when they brought this bag of meat out from the kitchen area she seamlessly said “Oh, I’ll take that” when the woman went to give us the pack…  It wasn’t a fuss or hassle, just a very gentle intervention that could have been a normal part of any conversation.

When we got back to work, she then broke the pack down so that all we had to do was put the bags into our freezer.  She’s amazing…

If you’re wondering why we still picked up the pack rather than donating back to the school – the mother is still thinking of moving up here for 6 months so it’s for her.

—————-
Now playing: Sunsets (acoustic) – Powderfinger
via FoxyTunes
watch on YouTube


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