Category Archives: Mental Health

Not Out of the Cave

I have neglected this blog for some time. I think it is a couple of years since I posted anything.

It started as a blog about my “recovery” from PTSD, but along the way it has taken several meandering detours.

What I have learnt along the way is that you never truly recover. You may go into remission, you may find ways to better deal with it when it does come snarling, but it never truly goes away. Ad so, I find myself in something of a relapse. The 25th anniversary came this year and, although I expected some reaction, it has triggered much more of a downward spiral than I expected. Including full blown waking flashbacks which is something I have not experienced for some time.

To explain the title of this I am copying below something I have posted before.

“Here’s what PTSD is like, and why people kill themselves over it. Think of life like a cave. If I send you into a cave with a lantern and tell you there are no bears in the cave, you feel safe. You will walk around the cave and enjoy yourself. Now what if I give you a lantern and a gun and tell you that there is a bear in there? You can still go down, but you’ll be careful to look for the bear and ready to run or shoot if you see it. Now, what if I send you down there with a gun but no lantern and simply say “bear” to you? Pretty soon, you’re in there, you can’t see the way out, and every rock you bump into feels like a bear. After a long enough time being down in the cave, you realize you don’t have enough ammo to shoot everything that might be a bear. It has nothing to do with running out of food or water or feeling like you’re fighting some unwinnable battle with the bear. You just get sick and tired of the uncertainty. Are you going to live through the night? Are you going to wake up to a bear gnawing your intestines? You get to the point where you just wish the bear would come along and end it. And when he doesn’t come, you decide to do it yourself.”

Therein lies the problem when it comes. The hyper-arousal and hyper-vigilance with no productive outlet for the anxiety, stress, adrenaline et al becomes incredibly exhausting. Emotionally and physically. Exacerbated by the fact your fearful brain keeps you awake at night. This impacts completely in your life. Small decisions become impossible to make because you are just too tired to make them. And so the downward spiral into depression begins.

One positive is that having been down the road before I recognised the signs much earlier. So much earlier have sought intervention and time out. I am lucky to have the support of some particularly good GPs and others who have facilitated that intervention and time out. Not just that, they have given me the time for my sometimes rambling musings on my situation.

So, this blog is likely to become more active again one way or another. I will also revisit and update on some of the meanders!

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Once There Was A Great Storm

Once there was a great storm
Pushed my head beneath the waves
I was gone.

On this date, several years ago, a young woman took a boat out to sea and didn’t return. I have spoken about her before on this blog but I always mark this day in some way. I still miss her very much.

She almost certainly intended to die. The inquest verdict was misadventure but, knowing her past and the state of her mind, it is almost certain the she knew she was taking herself to her end. It was possible she was reckless but she was experienced with boats so she knew the likely outcome of taking a boat out at night in the particular part of the coast she chose to and in the weather at the time. She was in incredible emotional pain (physical pain too actually) and it does seem with the distance of time that she could only end that pain in this way.

We were incredibly close and had a bond that is difficult to describe. People frequently ask if we were in love. We were not in the sense that people are asking; the sense of a romantic relationship. It was never like that. Gender (and all other connotations) was completely irrelevant to out friendship. But we were very close and we loved each other hugely.

Despite the fact that she probably took her own life I have never lost the sense that she was actually killed by what some people had done to her a couple of years before. A truly awful and evil act. I have only ever told one person the full account of what happened to her and that was part of a therapy process to try to overcome long standing difficulties I had with the whole thing. I will almost certainly never recount the whole thing again. The fact is that following this awful event I was the only person with her for three days and nights. So she and I were the only people that knew the full awful story (and possibly her twin sister who died just over four years ago). I have felt terribly alone and burdened with this unexpressed knowledge. As well as beating myself up with a feeling I didn’t do the right things or I didn’t do enough. I have managed to move on quite a long way with that because of the counselling and therapy. I still have moments when guilt raises its ugly head but it is far better than it was. I still feel a massive sadness and I have not fully grieved for her.

Over the past few years I have found a new friendship with an acquaintance who was also a huge, very close, friend to both of the twins. Ironically that friendship came about by a very circuitous route and despite interference from someone trying to prevent it. I think it has been comforting for both of us because of the shared common bond.

There is another recent unexpected twist of friendship associated with this. Recently I was away from home having physical rehab following spinal surgery. It also gave me the opportunity to have a bit of a top up of psychological therapy. Whilst there I spent some time talking with another person there for therapy. I found myself telling her something of what happened to my friend. It wasn’t planned and I took myself by surprise. It isn’t something I would normally do with someone I had recently met. Because of this we found we had some common ground and it has led to a new and important friendship. Strange how the universe guides us sometimes. We spoke of synchronicity; there was quite a lot.

During the top up sessions I talked with the counsellor of how, now her twin sister has also died, that I like to think of them reunited somewhere. There energy enjoying the close bond they had somewhere. Somewhere out there I will raise a glass to you tonight K and S. Always remembered with huge love.

Sweetness, I was only joking….(365)

I haven’t posted a picture from the 365 self portraits I did for sometime.

Like all of them, at the time I did it purely for myself. This one was a bit of an ironic joke to myself. There was a particular issue bothering me and then I listened to the Smiths’ song. Bigmouth Strikes Again.

Sweetness, sweetness I was only joking
When I said I’d like to smash every tooth
In your head

Oh … sweetness, sweetness, I was only joking
When I said by rights you should be
Bludgeoned in your bed

So, with the juxtaposition of the two things I shot this, as I say, meaning it to be an ironic joke. In fact, the thing that was bothering me was and is very far from funny. It centres round the lies of an ex that I have mentioned on here before. I was bothered that she had renewed her campaign of lies about me. Perhaps not renewed. I had just become aware again of an ongoing situation. The particular lies this addresses were the story she likes to put about that I used to beat her up. Two particular expressions come to mind. “He used to beat the crap out of me on several occasions.” and “He beat me to a pulp on more than one occasion”. These phrases paint a very specific picture. It just isn’t true. But it’s not a ver nice picture for someone to be painting. Especially to some of the people she involved. One of those people has since died. Before I had a chance to correct this picture. That saddens and angers me. Historically her lies have seriously impinged on long-term friendships. Which is also saddening and angering. Added to the additional sadness that these friends seem to have believed at least in part. There is also the issue that the liar was comfortable to say these things around these people.

I have attempted to address these lies with the person concerned. I have even cited these specific examples. She just says that she never said. (I know she did). You can’t even begin to deal with a person like that. Someone who knows that you know it is true they said them but just denies it. There is nowhere you can go forward from that. Although I do suspect that she no longer knows what is true or not. She has that ability, once a lie has been accepted or repeated, to believe it as absolute truth. She likes, also, to tell people I am totally crazy or mad. An easy target because, of course, I have had mental illness. But these are depression and PTSD. Crazy? At least I know what is true and what isn’t. It all calls into question a lot of other things. For instance, when we were going out she told me tales of abuse by a family member. I accepted this without question at the time but now I have to winder. More about that on a future blog.

There is another interesting thing. She threatened me, both directly and indirectly, with violence from her husband if I wrote things she didn’t like on my blog. Whether that actually bothers me is not the issue here. The issue is that SHE seems to think that violence is an option for her to use or threaten. It also implies very strongly that her husband is prone to aggression and violence. Under the circumstances quite an irony. I think that explains, to a degree, her need to demonise me.”Dark and dangerous” is also an expression she has used about me. Definitely a bit of projection going on there. This implication of his tendency is very much reinforced in documentary form from a different source on the web. A different but very damning source. I intend to use it in a future blog where I will deal with this catalogue of lies. It continues to affect my life and I have had enough of it. I will name and shame.

So, here is the ironic joke of a picture.

sweetness

“Never Let Me Go.” In Memoriam K

Yesterday I spoke for the first time ever about something that happened some years ago. About something that happened to a very dear friend. Something awful, beyond awful; carried out by people I can only describe as evil personified. For lots of reason I’m not going to go into detail here. I was involved in the immediate aftermath of this awful event and spent several days shut up with my friend. That was awful too. It has been suggested that I have vicarious trauma because of this.

Talking about it was hard. To do so for the first time after these years, I suppose it was always going to be. To talk about brings up the emotions from that time but also images of it all in my head. Some of the are too upsetting to contemplate for too long. There were only three people who knew exactly what happened to my friend in all the detail. My friend of course; she’s no longer with us. Life became too hard for hr and she left us. Her sister knew too and she left us through illness a couple of years ago. And me. Whilst her sister was alive, in some ways it felt like a burden shared even through we never discussed the actual event in detail. It now feels like a burden that is all mine and it has become time to deal with it.

Right now I feel emotionally and physically exhausted. It was a hard thing to do, to talk about it.

Very much in my mind at the moment is “Never let me go” a song by Florence and the Machine. Video and lyrics below.

Looking up from underneath
Fractured moonlight on the sea
Reflections still look the same to me
As before I went under

And it’s peaceful in the deep
Cathedral where you cannot breathe
No need to pray, no need to speak
Now I am under all

And it’s breaking over me
A thousand miles down to the sea bed
Found the place to rest my head
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go

And the arms of the ocean are carrying me
And all this devotion was rushing out of me
In the crushes of heaven for a sinner like me
But the arms of the ocean delivered me

Though the pressure’s hard to take
It’s the only way I can escape
It seems a heavy choice to make
And now I am under all

And it’s breaking over me
A thousand miles down to the sea bed
Found the place to rest my head
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go

And the arms of the ocean are carrying me
And all this devotion was rushing out of me
In the crushes of heaven for a sinner like me
But the arms of the ocean delivered me

And it’s over
And I’m going under
But I’m not giving up
I’m just giving in

I’m slipping underneath
So cold and so sweet

And the arms of the ocean so sweet and so cold
And all this devotion I never knew at all
In the crushes of heaven for a sinner released
And the arms of the ocean delivered me
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go
Deliver me
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go
Deliver me
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go
Deliver me
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go

And it’s over
(Never let me go, Never let me go)
And I’m going under
(Never let me go, Never let me go)
But I’m not giving up
(Never let me go, Never let me go)
I’m just giving in
(Never let me go, Never let me go)

I’m slipping underneath
(Never let me go, Never let me go)
So cold and so sweet
(Never let me go, Never let me go)

Lying Like A Hairy Egg!

I am about to take a short break. During which time I probably won’t post. But I will be using the time to write some difficult posts that need some thought to get them right. Difficult for a number of reasons including the fact they, largely, use someone else’s words. They will deal with a situation I have spoken about before on this blog and finally blow the lies of a lying person out of the water. The words of the other person are not just about disproving the lies. The say a lot about the person I need to debunk. Not just that, why it is they have this drive to lie about me.

These are not casual lies. They have had an effect on my life and relationships with people for too long. I am tired of that situation and no longer prepared to let it go. When someone is repeatedly unkind and offensive and dishonest with it there comes a time when you have to draw a line in the sand. For self-respect as much as anything.

Difficult too because, by instinct, this isn’t the way I would choose to do it. In such a dramatic way. But when you try and try and no other option is left open to you, ultimately, you don’t have a choice.

But it’s not just that they won’t undo the lies they have already told. They go on to tell new lies to new people. As I say, there comes a time when you have to draw a line in the sand.
Even worse they turn to a friend for advice on how to deal with my reaction to their lies. Except they tell a pack of lies to that fiend too. So any advice is completely invalid. Leave alone the attitude that drives that advice is coming from. The sort of friend who back in the day thought the serial infidelity of the person I am talking about was all terribly amusing and a bit of a lark because we’re all having such great fun. Oh what a lark and jolly fun it was when this person picked up a random stranger in a bar, minutes later took them home and shagged them and then had to look in their wallet in the morning to find out their name. Oh those were the days! It’s not such much that behaviour I am criticising, just the fact it happened whilst they were in a relationship with me. So old-fashioned of me. It demonstrates an attitude to other people and honesty in general.

Sociopath-Empath-Apath Triad

So, with reference to the image below. It is this that is so difficult when dealing with this type of person. The fact that they turn on you when challenged on their original offensive behaviour.
“How dare you tell me how I should act”. So they make you look like the bad person even if this involves gross lying. Usually they have got their warped version out there before you have told the truth because they rely on your natural tendency not to broadcast. This creates its own problem. Once people have been taken in by a lie they don’t want to see they have been. Because they will feel foolish to have been duped. So even when the truth is out there people don’t want to see it. So you become the bad person whilst the instigator carries on playing the victim and enjoying the sympathetic attention it brings. “Quite honestly I enjoyed the drama and being the centre of attention” was a comment made to me about this behaviour. Never mind that whilst your enjoying the drama you’re tearing someone’s life and sanity apart!

The other problem is that they turn to their friends for advice, having portrayed themselves as the victim of some awful injustice. Their friends give them advice to help with this terrible thing; but invariably the advice is actually wrong if not harmful to the overall situation. This is because it is based on a false situation. Like a computer, wrong information in, you get the wrong answer out.

Another big problem with this type of person. Once a lie has been believed, or worse repeated, by another person, in their head it then becomes absolute truth. They can’t be shaken from it no matter what is presented to them.

sociopath

Cognitive Dissonance.

I am posting the screenshot below because it rang so many bells for me. Such an accurate description. Add to that the trick of lying to portray the victim as the abuser and you have the perfect picture.

image