Posts Tagged 'Sleep'

Perfect daughter – where are you?

While growing up, I tried very hard to be the perfect daughter.  I was polite, quiet, obedient, a good student, tidy, shy and seemingly happy.  This is the daughter my mother knows and loves.  She doesn’t know the daughter she is now faced with.  She doesn’t recognise the woman who can’t go outside unless it’s for work; the woman who will stand in the middle of the kitchen and start scratching her hand while staring into space; the woman who says that she can’t serve up dinner because the food has suddenly become dirty and disgusting; the woman who sits on the Internet until 2am because the idea of sleep is too scary for her and she needs the distraction.

This week, the mother has been faced more and more with the daughter she doesn’t know or recognise.  The session on Monday with Liz stirred up all sorts of issues internally and I’ve been struggling to cope with the reaction.  It got to the point on Tuesday night that there was going to be some fairly serious self-destructive behaviour occur if there wasn’t some intervention.  That intervention came in the form of someone coming forward to take photos.  They realised we were too unsafe to drive anywhere, so the usual routine of driving somewhere to take photos was out.  Instead they decided to use some props from around the house to see what they could do.  The mother could tell we weren’t well, so she ended up helping by having a look for different props to photograph and holding the torch we used as a light source.  This is one of the results…

Apple

Apple

Because the mother helped us with all of this, she could monitor us more closely.  She said that it wasn’t until after the photos had all been taken and we were putting them onto the computer for processing that we sort of “came back”.

Awhile ago, Sophie tried to apologise for the not being that perfect daughter the mother remembered.  The mother said that we were probably never that perfect daughter, but she didn’t see it.  She didn’t see what that perfection was hiding.  I think she really does want to help sometimes.  But her own dysfunctional thinking and lack of healing, mean that she will never really be able to help us.  I don’t resent her inability to help us, but I do wish that she would seriously look at her own need to heal.  She went to therapy for a couple of sessions, but then stopped as she thought it wasn’t going anywhere.

I’m aware this makes us sad or uncomfortable or something.  I’m not good at naming or understand emotions, but I noticed that the body was feeling very cold and I need to do up the jersey we wore to work.

Time to go back to being the perfect working daughter…

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Now playing: U2 – Running to Stand Still
via FoxyTunes

Time to take a deep breath

The last few weeks have been difficult. The prospect of ACC mediation on Tuesday (21st) had us going off on all sorts of tangents. Then last Thursday (16th), ACC made a decision which meant that the mediation was no longer needed, although they have yet to look at our corrections which will odds are require another round of negotiation.  Despite this apparent cancellation of the meeting, the potential sat within the system.  Some of us considered it to be like the tricks played on us when younger. At any moment we were going to get a phone call on Tuesday telling us to get to the meeting. Thankfully that phone call never happened, instead we got to spend the two days we had arranged to have off to recover from the meeting as time to breathe.

On Monday night we chatted with a friend who’d been on holiday for what seemed like a very long time.  He helped us smile, laugh and shed a tear.  Through a photo slide show he took us on a tour of where he lived – it was fascinating.  I’m always awed by the historic nature of where most of the people I talk to live.  To put this into context, New Zealand has had only been a British colony since 1840.  We don’t have the old buildings that are present elsewhere around the world.  To show him a little of where we live, we went out taking photos (at midnight)…

Mural

This mural is in a car-parking area in the middle of town.

This was the only photo that turned out viewable – we have an essential tremor which doesn’t mix well with night photography and the long exposure times needed.  We might have another go at doing a tour of where we live on a fine day.

On Tuesday we needed to get out of the house – possibly the fear that they’d call and we’d have to go to the meeting.  So we went around the gardens and took more photos.  Photography is fast becoming our main means of distracting, focusing and self-soothing.  Part of the soothing, is to take photos of plants.  I know that many people consider this type of photography boring, but for us it’s about finding peace for a short time.  It’s something that each one of us can enjoy on some level – I’ll get a message to take a photo of the purple flowers…

Lilac viola

Lilac viola

Purple viola

Purple viola

Sometimes, the camera feels very cumbersome in my hands and I’ve taken to wrapping the strap around my right hand several times, I’m not sure if this is a switching issue, or me being a klutz. I also know that not all of us are happy with this new interest – I’ve been told that the camera is going to be thrown into the lake or smashed into the pavement.  I know that these threats are about us not being entitled to any form of enjoyment.  It’s awful to hear, let alone realise that part of this brain is wired to ensuring that we don’t enjoy life.

On Tuesday night we ended up talking to another friend.  I mention this because it was the first time in over a week where S didn’t come forward to self-injure, which had become more severe as the week went on.  Again, there was laughter and a sharing of knowledge.  It always amazes me that those who are going through difficult times can put that aside to help someone else.  To those friends, I say thank you.  I hope we can reciprocate what you both did for us one day.

This reminds me of Faith Allen’s entry over at Blooming Lotus about how we can Make a difference.  You don’t have to be rich, pretty or popular to make a difference, it’s all about being willing to learn and share that knowledge for the social good.  I stumble badly with this sometimes, the fear and anxieties put up barriers to my learning.  But I can’t use this as an excuse to give up.  When teaching information literacy to cynical and usually technophobic students, I tell them it takes practice.  Information literacy is all about lifelong learning – being curious about new things.  It would be hypocritical of me not to gently work on those barriers in the same way that I get my students to question every scrap of information they find.

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.

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Now playing: Dixie Chicks – Wide open spaces
via FoxyTunes

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……….

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Now playing: Christina Aguilera – The Voice
via FoxyTunes

Reflections and realisations

Today we were doing some work on our old blog when we realised something which tells us a great deal about our coping mechanisms and psychology.  Reading through the December entries it is obvious that we were struggling with what Bob was asking us to do – evicting one of us from our internal house.  But what is also obvious is that we were fighting!  We were arguing, trying to learn, working it through.  There was humour obvious in our entries despite the confusion – for example Today’s lesson on how to bang your head against a brick wall… When we compare these entries with the entries over the last few months, it appears obvious to us that our fighting spirit has gone.  Things are no worse than they were then.  In many ways they’re better.  What has changed is our reaction to the things around us.

Potential reasons for this –

  • We’ve been trialled on several different anti-anxiety medications, none of which have been effective and have often caused very nasty side effects.
  • We haven’t heard from Ellie (affectionately known as the “Irish Bitch” by Carrie) since before Christmas.  Ellie takes on many of the characteristics (and accent) of an amazing Irish uncle who told brilliant stories about his times as a policeman in Rhodesia and running black market flights in and out of Africa.
  • Management has been around only sparingly since that time as well.
  • The restructuring at work was badly handled and our job was changed to one that we don’t get any satisfaction from.
  • Our levels of exhaustion caused by chronic insomnia have not been able to be relieved by any catch-up weekend sleeps.
  • We took the risk of caring for Kriss and it proved to be a disaster.
  • People around us who knew about “us” mentioned that they wanted to talk to the “real T” and that they didn’t want different ones coming forward to perform their roles.  This told some of us that they weren’t wanted and were being rejected.
  • We don’t have anything concrete in front of us to fight.  We don’t have the husband to get rid of, Liz doesn’t generate the anger that Bob did and we don’t care about our job.

Little OneWhat we’re going to do about it…  kick ourselves in the butt.  Remind our collective selves that the reason we survived that kindergarten fort, rugby clubrooms, parties etc is because we are stubborn fighters!  It’s about time we remembered that.

At the moment we need to poke and prod at ourselves to get that fighting spirit back.  We need Management, Ellie, S, Sophie and every one of us to fight back against this apathy.

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Now playing: Iggy pop – Lust for life
via FoxyTunes

Protected: Desires

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Trio meet Liz

Up until today’s session Liz has predominantly talked to Sophie.  Today, Liz got B acting as a filter for M and One.  This group present quite differently to Sophie.  Sophie is gentle, shy and talks very softly; while the trio are observers, direct and carefully consider all responses.  As an example, if Liz asked who was present, Sophie would immediately respond with her name; while the trio would want to respond with “it’s none of your business”, but would mull it over and then say “mainly B”.

This trio is what Carol used to call the no-affective response powerhouse.  It can be quite intimidating and definitely throws an inexperienced therapist.  But for the trio, there were questions and issues that needed addressing – informing Liz of what happened at the support group appointment and questioning the whole “who have you become” statement.  It also made the observations of Liz easier, as the softness of Sophie was eliminated from the equation.

It became obvious that Liz has decided that father abuse is the main issue – despite the fact that there is no mention of this abuse on our records and us not having mentioned it within session.  We’re losing approximately half to three quarter of the sessions to stress and dissociative related memory loss, so it’s possible it has been mentioned and we’re not aware of it.  Liz is looking at the family dynamics and trying to understand them – we wish her luck.  I thought that’s why they invented ambiguous labels like “dysfunctional”, so that you didn’t need to poke at some things.

We made our discomfort with the “who have you become now” phrase known.  Liz clarified that she wasn’t meaning anything about us acting different roles when there was a switch.  It will be interesting to see if she uses it again.

I’ve often thought we must be an awful client for any therapist.  We don’t attach in any sort of way to anyone and because of the compartmentalisation we appear to contradict ourselves so often it must be hard for the therapist to keep any sort of event straight.

In other news, it’s all over with Kriss and the young ones have just started a blog of their own to help increase communication and participation – worked a little too well last night with us being woken up by a young one who wanted to write that they liked the header image that was used :)

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Now playing: Audioslave – Cochise
via FoxyTunes


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