Image from Crystal
- It will be sunny one day (thereinventedlass.wordpress.com)
- 12 of Stephen Fry’s Wise, Witty Quotations (mentalfloss.com)
- The Stephen Fry Effect (traceypallett.wordpress.com)
Sitting together and so far apart,
a thousand words unsaid and truths unspoken,
I never felt more alone, more out of place,
as I do tonight,
sitting by your side.
A bottle in my hand and a cigarette in yours,
I open my mouth but no words will form,
it all seems so trivial when I feel this broken,
when you’re sitting so close to me,
yet not here at all.
Writing about 2008 is more difficult than I ever imagined. On one hand, I almost feel uncomfortable writing about my past relationships now that I’ve been with S for eighteen months; I know he probably wouldn’t mind, but it must be weird for him to know I’m writing about my exes. On the other hand, it’s only now that I can see just how low I sunk; I knew I was falling apart but what I didn’t realise is that I’d totally cracked long before it got to this point. I can see that now. It’s difficult to think about. I acted in ways I’m not proud of and damaged my body god knows how much with handfuls of amitriptyline, tramadol, diazepam, co-codamol, small antidepressant overdoses to get me through the night in a dazed drug-fuelled stupor instead of having to deal with the reality of everything in my life going incredibly wrong.
O and I… we stopped speaking one day. Conversation turned to bitter arguments and shouting matches. Slammed doors and a smashed laptop. Midnight chases down the street; it was always me doing the running. I just couldn’t face any of it.
I remember sitting on his swivel office chair, gulping from a bottle of cheap peach schnapps and watching him smoke cigarette after cigarette, sitting on his bed and brooding. He threw me out that night.
Of course, we got back together. We did a lot of getting back together.
All alone, or in two’s,
The ones who really love you
Walk up and down outside the wall.
Some hand in hand
And some gathered together in bands.
The bleeding hearts and artists
Make their stand.
And when they’ve given you their all
Some stagger and fall, after all it’s not easy
Banging your heart against some mad bugger’s wall.
- Outside The Wall, Pink Floyd
The smell of rose and amber shower gel. Cupboards full of donated plates, huge bags of pasta, Christmas leftovers and fake Pimms I can no longer drink. Twinkling lights on my mother’s Christmas tree, now placed between S’s desk and the huge Marshall amps; decorations passed down from my childhood, now belonging to me. Fudge cake in the fridge, and a shiny new Morphy Richards coffee machine sitting on the worktop. The ridiculously ornate mantelpiece covered in Christmas cards and candles, the bedroom lamps illuminating our Ikea bed and my beautiful dressing table. Roses and mistletoe arranged in glass milk bottles, and shelves filled with Discworld books.
My mother cried. She said this is what she always wanted for me. She admitted she never believed it would happen.
Christmas was wonderful; quiet and easy, without the usual stress of arranging the tree lights absolutely perfectly to calm my mother’s slight obsessions.
This is all so new to me, and I confess it’s a strange feeling, knowing I’ve reached a major life goal. Where was the fanfare, the confetti, the slaps on the back and heartfelt congratulations? Of course, life doesn’t work like that, and in a way I’m glad. It’s no secret that it’s taken me far longer to reach the basic life-targets than usual, and in a way I’d much prefer nobody knew that, at 28, this is the first time I’ve ever felt safe. The first time I’ve been able to have a relationship without ripping it apart at the seams. The first time I’ve moved out of my mother’s house and known I’ll never go back. Known that I’m not doing it just to escape. The first time I’ve been independent without breaking down and ending up in hospital or riding home in a police car.
In a way, it’s like losing your virginity. That first time you see yourself in a mirror afterwards, and you check your face for signs; of knowledge, of growing up, of, well, sex – finally reaching this point in my life should change me physically. There should be something in my eyes, some sort of peace. A difference. But there isn’t, they’re still the same ice-blue, and I’m almost disappointed by that. I’ve wanted this from the day I realised life wasn’t going to give me a smooth ride, shouldn’t something feel different?
You see, I’m worried I’ll take all this for granted. Becoming too used to a situation is… a problem of mine. Considering how terrified I am of losing everything I hold dear, I have an ability to forget to try. I stop making the effort, because it’s scary thinking of making the next step up. I’m very aware that what I have now – the flat, S, independence – all relies on me not going batshit crazy. For someone who breaks down at least once a year, it’s hard knowing that I have to put the effort in this time if I’m to keep what I’ve worked so hard to achieve. I can’t just sit back and let life pile up around me; it’s never worked in the past, so why would it work now?
I know; I’m analysing too much.
Trying to access my blog has been a nightmare today; it’s almost as if I’m being punished for putting off writing. I sit in the living room or the kitchen, staring at my laptop and willing the words to be there, but they just aren’t – I don’t particularly want to think about the negative side of things at the moment – and not being able to log in to my account all day has driven me half-crazy. Finally, I have the words… and the fear that I will never get my blog back. Similar issues have been had across WordPress according to their support forums, and my natural cynicism makes me wonder if they’ll ever fix it, or if I’ll be in blog limbo for the rest of my life, unable to download my content or ever update. It’s frustrating.
I’m going to write anyway, because I received email notification of a comment from one of my old posts – Borderline Personality Disorder – and although I try not to put too much pressure on myself to respond to negativity, it was too tempting to reply, rather than let it go.
I can’t stand people with BPD!!!!!!!!, My soon to be ex-wife has ruined or should I say destroyed everything i built for the last 21 years. I’m retired military, she put me into 25k debt, sold my retirement gift (1972 Plymouth duster), took money from me, calls, texts, emails, hoovers, threatens, plays the victim, has filed PFA’S on me to hide her lies, told a judge she tried to commit suicide 3 times, told that crap to my youngest daughter, lied about 6 surgeries, accused me of killing the dogs when she had possession of the dogs, sold items of mine, harassed county attorney, hide my cell and car keys, twice told my daughter she doesn’t want to be her mom, called and emailed my family members about our sex live, hates my other kids, took all parental rights away from me with her son while we were leaving together, called child protective services on me for child abuse, lied about receiving taxes (my taxes 3.5k) and spent it all, gave her 4k for my daughter’s ortho and she never paid it, keeps getting into my retirement account and changing crap (it’s a federal crime!), every three days would be arguments until i apologized or caved……and so much more……..you people with BPD SHOULD ONLY BE ALOUD TO MARRY EACH OTHER!!!!!! The total destructiveness you bring into peoples/family/loved ones lives is just criminal!!!! Now I have to pick up the pieces; my daughter cuts herself, oldest daughter is on depression meds, claim bankruptcy, and start all over again age the age of 44. You BPD!!!! should never be allowed to date/marry/have kids……I feel so sorry and sick to my heart for all of your next victims…..GOD help them so they won’t be put through this hell I’m going through.
Wow. Where to begin.
It’s difficult not to take such opinions personally when somebody says that the likes of myself and many of my readers should never be able to date, marry, or have children. Attempting not to take such comments to heart is nigh-on impossible. Those like myself already live with ridiculously low self-confidence and constant snipes from society and the media, without being told these things in shouty capital letters on a blog which – I like to think, judging by many comments I’ve received – has become a safe place to discuss issues like BPD and mental illness without being judged. Although I know there’s no way to stop such comments – and I wouldn’t want to, as everyone is entitled to an opinion – I don’t like to respond to them, as it makes me feel like a victim. The very act of explaining why I behave the way I do gives more ammunition, and I’m not always sure it’s possible to change somebody’s mind on mental illness when their beliefs are so set in stone.
I will be the first to say that living with someone suffering from BPD must be a nightmare if they are experiencing the fully-fledged out-of-control side of BPD. If they refuse to take their medication, won’t or can’t accept help, or have attempted to get help but the system and/or friends and family have let them down, as is so common with borderline personality disorder. I will never deny that my past behaviour has been controlling and has caused pain to those around me; to lie about that would be to lie about my entire life from puberty onwards.
However, that controlling behaviour has never been out of malice, or acted out with any intent to hurt or cause distress. Describing the BPD mind is an impossible task; but, like everyone else, we have our own distinct personalities. Although outwardly we may appear incredibly bitter and resentful, hell-bent on causing mayhem wherever we go without a single thought for the consequences, inwardly can be an entirely different story. Inside there could be somebody who simply has no control over their actions, and who is lashing out because it’s the only way they know how. It may not be the right way, but it’s their way, and it’s the only thing they have at that moment because their entire being is consumed by all-enveloping fear.
BPD is not a free license to abuse people; when I was first diagnosed, I noticed a lot of resentment around the internet regarding relationships with BPD’ers, and their ability to destroy everything within sight; emotions, furniture, families, friendships, affairs… to the non-BPD partner it seems that everything their boyfriend/girlfriend touches turns to shit. That they get off on controlling others, and seek attention at every available opportunity.
This is a myth.
I have never, ever enjoyed having BPD. Since my symptoms started in puberty, my life has been an uphill struggle to find some form of sane balance. To connect with others without clinging to them. To know who I am, and why I think the way I do. It’s been hard; heartbreaking at times, and a nightmare for everybody around me. I’ve sprinted through life like a whirlwind, grabbing onto others for safety and leaving chaos in my wake. I’ve said and done terrible things. Threatened to harm myself when I had no intention. Lied. Cheated. Stolen. Caused undeniable pain and, yes, abused others.
Of this, I will never be proud.
However, I have made every effort to change, and gain control over the tangle of self-abuse and denial. Comments like the one I quoted above, and many I have read online, seem to suggest that abandoning those with BPD is the only solution. When I was first diagnosed, my mother bought Stop Walking On Eggshells by Paul T. Mason and Randi Kreger. After she read it, her suggestion to me was that I didn’t look at the book, as there were heavy hints that walking away from somebody suffering from BPD is an easy option. I haven’t read the book myself, so she may have been exaggerating, but it wouldn’t surprise me. BPD is a mental illness like any other, but it seems acceptable to cast suffers off with “they’re a cruel person” or “it’s not worth it”. Or, as above, suggest that we should never marry or even date.
I have worked hard to get this far. I’m twenty-eight in ten days, and there was a time when reaching eighteen seemed impossible. Admittedly, I find it difficult to recognise any achievement, but I know my life is massively different to how it used to be. Medication has the anxiety and panic attacks mostly under control, and stops me going too far into depression. Without the anxiety, I don’t overreact, I don’t convince myself that everybody I love despises me. I don’t believe that the world would be a better place if I were dead.
So, people with BPD can change. They can grasp some control, if they work at it. We’re not hopeless cases.
I called this post “the personality of BPD”, because the comment above angered me. It totally disregarded any of his partner’s personality, and attributed all her behaviour to borderline personality disorder. Just like anybody else, people with BPD can be cruel, regardless of their condition. They can also be kind, although sometimes the kindness is muffled under sheer panic. Somebody living with BPD is not the whole of the condition; they’re still the person you know, with all that person’s foibles, beliefs, experiences and knowledge. BPD may be a massive part of their lives, but it doesn’t entirely consume; they’re in there somewhere and not everything they say or do is dictated by BPD.
I don’t know if this post makes much sense; my head is everywhere right now. There’s a lot to write about.
I’ve been trying to write a post for the past week or so, with no success. Many have been written in my head – as I’m tossing and turning in bed next to S, trying to sleep through another fibro flare – but when it comes to making myself sit down at the little Ikea table in the kitchen and get those thought out onto the screen, I just can’t do it. So much has changed recently, and my mind is in a constant state of bemused flux; after years – decades- of absolutely everything being out of my control it’s near-on impossible to get my head around it all. I expected it to be difficult, but I don’t think this level of confusion was anything predictable. The excitement of finally standing up on my own feet masked it all for a little while, but now that things are settling a little and a routine of sorts is being established, those little niggles and worries are seeping back. Minor issues. Small things. Nothing important, and nothing which can stop the happiness I still feel at finally being free, but enough to remind me that I can make as many changes as I want and fight as hard as I can but it’ll never be easy.
Which is why I’m taking yet another big step and – against every fiber of my being – have made an appointment to see a new psychiatrist, almost two years after my last very brief foray back into the mental health system.
Like everything, I did mean to write something about that decision last week, and it was briefly mentioned in reply to a couple of comments on my last post, but – again, like everything else – I’ve been putting it off. I’ve always been open of my mistrust surrounding the UK mental health system; past experience has taught me nothing to convince me it’s worth feeling otherwise. While going back on the staunchest of decisions and beliefs is a classic symptom of BPD, I’m pretty convinced that isn’t the case this time. I sat on the decision for months, considering the options available and finally coming to the conclusion that if I want this to last – this normality I’ve found – I can’t go it alone, and although S is beyond wonderful and living together has boosted my self-esteem a lot, there’s still only so much I can speak to him about. I trust him implicitly but I’ve spent enough of my life being a burden on others and I’m constantly aware that I can’t spend our relationship putting pressure on S to care for me.
The appointment isn’t just about that, though. It’s about everything. Every last little thing since that day in early puberty when something snapped inside my mind.
Over the years, all the things I’ve experienced have fragmented into a thousand threads of craziness. All match yet… don’t quite fit together. The ends are frayed and loose, tangled around each other in a huge knot of confusion. For a long time it was easy to accept that would never change and I would spend my whole life walking around with voices in my head and the inability to stick with anything worthwhile without sabotaging it. Comfort – even terrifying comfort – can be hard to leave behind. I’ve made so many mistakes; walked away from hundreds of chances to better my life, slept around in the vain hope of finding somebody who took all the pain away, thrown pills down my throat just so I wouldn’t have to feel, denied myself even life’s very simplest pleasures for no discernible reason at all. I’ve walked away from treatment. Fought against everybody who tried to help, convinced they were all part of the problem and could never be the solution.
It wasn’t an easy decision to make; not in the least. I’ve been in and out of the mental health system – more in than out, especially in my teens – more times than I care to count, and so far there’s been very little positive gleaned from the experience. My mother, she calls it damage. She says she sees the damage years of questions and let-downs and tablets and therapy has caused; can see it in my face. In my eyes. In the way I react whenever the system is mentioned.
In truth, it scares me. The thought of sitting on yet another cheap NHS-issue chair opposite a psychiatrist who knows nothing of the more subtle details… it’s terrifying. I’ve come so far, and I’m painfully aware that the slightest thing can bring my world crashing down like it always has before. Despite appearances I’ve never been strong – not in the least – and yet another failure is something I simply can’t afford anymore. Life now… I know I keep saying it, but it’s changed and I confess to being tired of change. As wonderful as everything is living with S, I want to stay here for a while. In this place. Where everything makes sense for once. I don’t want to make big plans, or look too far into the future. I just want this. Now. Here. Safety.
Yet, change has to happen.
I’m stubborn; and I’m still not quite ready to give into the crazy.
“You know, we’ve spent every day together for a month now. Are you bored of me yet?”
It was said in jest – I still refuse to be clingy with S – but, as always, there was a nugget of truth in my words; a small fear I covered up with a nervous giggle. Since S and I first discussed the possibility of moving in together over a year ago, I’ve worried that spending so much time in each others pockets will cause some sort of breakdown between us – we’re both so used to our own space – but so far it seems to be working. I don’t want to question why it’s going so well, in case I somehow jinx it, and going well it is. I’m still in some sort of weird denial; I keep expecting to wake up tomorrow in the little white bed in my old bedroom, with the sheets covered in loose tobacco and ash, my head fuzzy from co-codamol overdoses. All that feels so far away now, yet too close for comfort. Life doesn’t work this way for me, it never has. It’s never been so good. I don’t think I can be blamed for worrying, can I?
We’re still living in chaos, but it’s a strange, enjoyable sort of chaos. The large hallway of the flat is filled with boxes, as is the living room and temporary bedroom, and the kitchen and bathroom still have no floor coverings. It’s a bit of an awkward situation; we’re renting the flat from a friend’s mother, who lost her father a few months ago. Her mother is in a nursing home with dementia and arthritis. I don’t think she was quite ready for us to move in, or maybe she forgot when we were supposed to be taking over the flat, but the bedroom is still filled with their belongings – paintings, books, old clothes – which is starting to cause a problem. Perhaps I’m overreacting as usual, but it’s frustrating that we can’t move in ‘properly’. I want to unpack, I want to see our belongings together so it all feels real. I want to sleep in the bedroom with the big bay window and built-in wardrobes, instead of a small room which the bed can just about fit in. I want to be able to make this our home. We’ve been here a month, and the bills haven’t even been sorted out yet.
I’m probably the only person in the world who wants to pay bills.
On the whole though, it’s wonderful. I always imagined I’d end up on my own in a cheap bedsit, living off cigarettes and peanut butter from the jar. If I’d stayed in school long enough to have a yearbook – if we even had yearbooks in the UK – under my picture it would have said “most likely to end up alone, eaten by cockroaches”. Honestly, I never believed that life would throw me the lifeline it has. That it would change so dramatically.
On the subject of change, everything has been shaken up on the medical side of things. I saw my GP on the 9th, determined to finally make my point about the way I’ve been treated; or not treated, rather. Moving out has given me the motivation to stand up for myself, if only because I don’t want to burden S with all my problems. Now we live together – I can’t stop repeating that we live together, it’s still so unreal – I can no longer hide all those freak-outs and breakdowns from him, and the last thing I want to do is make him feel like my carer rather than my boyfriend. Living with J taught me just how difficult it is to be constantly bombarded by mental illness, and S doesn’t need my craziness hanging over him. Neither do I.
So I sat, and explained to my GP just how difficult things have been.
“This is probably going to take longer than usual“; and take longer it did. He listened though, and made all the right noises; nodding when I explained how let down I feel by the treatment I’ve received from the specialists I’ve seen recently.
“Physio has been worse than useless, referring me to the Biomechanics Clinic, then when the appointment finally came ’round after being cancelled once and pushed months ahead, they referred me back to physio. Told me to keep doing the exercises on my foot, regardless of how painful it is. Told me there was nothing really wrong except for a bit of tendonitis. I can’t walk. I can’t sleep. It’s the worst pain I’ve ever felt, and I’ve had gallstones. I don’t think I can take the constant backwards and forwarding anymore. I can’t take the tiredness, the lying awake at night wanting to cut my foot off. I’m sick of it all”.
He looked at me. Put his head to the side, and leaned forwards.
“Has the anxiety and depression become worse?“
So it all came flooding out. How I simply can’t cope anymore; with the pain, with the panic attacks, with the hospital visits and disappointment. I can’t pretend that things have been rosy over the past few months; the combination of medical let-downs and moving house has sent me somewhat over the edge. Not enough to truly worry anybody; just enough for me to know that things aren’t working properly. My brain… it had become tired. Cynical. I think I’d given up in many ways.
And I didn’t want that, not when I have this chance to assert my independence and live the way I’ve always needed to. For the first time since I can remember, I have a little potential. Not much, just enough to reassure myself that I do have a place in the world.
“And the fibromyalgia? Joint pain? We need to deal with that too. I’m going to put you on Cymbalta; it’s an antidepressant and works for anxiety much like Cipralex did, but it’s also licensed for nerve pain. Cipralex just doesn’t seem to be working for you anymore. You need to stop taking it, wait two days, then start the Cymbalta. That way there shouldn’t be too much of a gap where you’re without some form of medication for the depression and panic attacks. I’m also giving you Arcoxia, which should be more effective than Celebrex at controlling the pain. Finally, I know you’re tired of referrals but I think you should see orthopedics. I’d have referred you sooner but with your history I thought rheumatology would be more suitable. We’ll do some blood tests, to check for RA again, and see where we go from there. See me again in a month, and we’ll look at how you’re doing on the new tablets.”
I left the surgery with a prescription, an appointment with orthopedics for the end of the month, and a small sense of hope. Of course, it’s not the first time I’ve felt that hope and been let down, so I refuse to get too excited by the possibility of finally seeing some improvement.
I’ve been taking the new meds for six days now. Yesterday I began to feel the real effects of Cymbalta; fuzzy head, dry mouth, misplaced energy, and bizarre dreams. However, I haven’t panicked, and the dark mood has lifted a little. Taking a new antidepressant after years of Cipralex working perfectly is a little scary – I’ve relied on it for so long – but so far everything seems okay. Nausea, but no vomiting. Stomach pains, but not unbearable. Most importantly, the pain has decreased dramatically, to the point where I can now walk without a stick. I’m still stiff, and I still stumble, but I can walk to the shops; a massive improvement.
Living with S is everything I had hoped for, and more. We cook together. He brings me cups of coffee and rolls cigarettes for me when I’m tired. We have a huge leather sofa with a chaise longue. A low Ikea double bed with new sheets and a king-size duvet. A communal garden – currently waterlogged – and neighbours who say hello when I bump into them. We live in a village now; still in the same town, but nicer somehow. Slower. Less stressful. There’s a grocers. A butcher and a fish shop. Spar. A hairdressers and a shop which sells frozen yoghurt with fruit in.
I know we won’t be here forever. Renting is probably our only option for the rest of our lives – we simply can’t afford a house and probably never will – but for the time being, I’m in my own little paradise. A place I can be myself, without pressure to perform and be ‘normal’. Somewhere I can exist without feeling I should always be doing more to be like everyone else. Most importantly, perhaps, is the fact that I’m getting on well with my mother. We speak regularly on the phone, and I visit at least once a week. She now agrees that we needed to be apart. That I needed my freedom.
I have freedom.
You don’t know how amazing that feels.
It’s a strange feeling. Sitting on the sofa, listening to 4 Non Blondes, drinking coffee, and realising I finally made it. Knowing it took what felt like forever to get here, and trying to accept that I now have my own life. My own rules. My own independence.
Neglecting my blog, and everyone involved… it hasn’t felt good. The occasional tinge of guilt sneaks up on me, knowing that so many people have supported me for over a year and are still commenting despite my absence. However, sitting in the front room and seeing my belongings mixed with S’s… I honestly never believed it would happen, and real life has to take precedence.
Yes, we moved in together. I escaped; and not only do I have freedom for the first time in years, but I also have access to my own finances for the first time in my entire life. I got the bus into town two days ago – a feat in itself, considering how long it’s been since I felt brave enough to use public transport – and checked my bank account. Seeing money in my account for the first time since receiving my stepfather’s inheritance… you don’t know how amazing it feels. Knowing that, for the first time in twenty seven years, I am entirely independent. For the first time, my life is my own and not controlled by anybody but myself.
The past couple of weeks have been an unbelievable nightmare, culminating in a full-force BPD freak-out where I cried, screamed, howled, and eventually called a taxi to take me to S’s. I couldn’t cope with anything at all, and I admit there were a couple of situations where it looked like I was going to lose it entirely. I hit myself in the face. Toyed with a razor and a pair of scissors. Pulled a chunk of hair out, just to feel anything but the horrible pain inside of total loss of control. Stopped eating entirely for a week, living on strong coffee and the last of my dope stash, codeine; anything I could get my hands on to numb the fear just for a short while.
In truth, I don’t know how I got through it all. Trying to explain just how wrong everything seemed to go…it’s impossible. You can’t put such things into words.
You see, it wasn’t just the move stressing me out – although it really didn’t help – and my habit of not being able to cope with more than one thing at once really didn’t help. Quite why I decided to stop taking my medication for a few days, I’m not sure… I should know better, and can only assume that BPD was telling me I’d be better off without them. It’s happened often in the past but I thought I was over it, and had more sense now. Obviously not.
Within two days I’d gone back to the old ways. Panic. Everything was a disaster. The world was ending. Paranoia, beyond belief. Constant – and I mean constant – tears. The need for reassurance. Grabbing onto anything to survive. Laying awake at night hearing the slight whisper of the voices creeping in. Shadows and movement just out of my vision. Feeling victimised by things which hadn’t even happened.
I don’t know how I used to live like that.
Along with everything else I was trying to deal with – the return of fibro pain from not taking Lyrica or Celebrex/Naproxen, the tendonitis getting much, much worse, my mother freaking out over every little thing connected to the move – I finally got to the Biomechanics appointment which had been moved around so many times; I thought I’d never get there. Waiting was pointless though, as nothing was achieved. In fact, I may as well have stayed at home and abandoned any hope of help.
After months of waiting, after being discharged from physio after nothing helped, all the appointment involved was being told I need to do exercises to help the pain in my ankle and foot. In other words, I waited months – and worried – simply to be told exactly what I was told at physio. Told exactly what I already knew. I tried explaining that I’d had to stop the exercises since they were so painful but was simply told to do them regardless. Then, I was referred back to physio.
What is it about me? Why does nobody take me seriously?
I pondered this for a while after the appointment. There’s no denying that I’ve been let down by the NHS a ridiculous number of times; pushed from pillar to post, sent from one specialist to another, and always been made to feel like more of a nuisance than a genuine patient.
So I sat, and thought, and came to perhaps a controversial conclusion; that my past history of mental illness is affecting my treatment. I know this sounds paranoid – and it’s understandable that perhaps the idea of doctors refusing to treat me due to mental illness is something many would pooh-pooh as ridiculous – but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made.
You see, I’ve never been able to shake the feeling that many see me as a faker. A chancer. Someone who goes to the doctors just to get attention and treatment I don’t need. Munchausen’s syndrome comes to mind.
It’s possible that some of my symptoms are psychosomatic; in fact, I know some are. Others however… you can’t fake them. It’s impossible to fake things like hair loss, swelling joints, jaundice, constant coldsores, endless urinary infections, weight loss, tendonitis, crunching knees and fingers, sciatica… all these things are real, physical symptoms, and have been proven to exist. So I can’t be faking it; doctors themselves have confirmed a myriad of symptoms and illnesses.
Yet… I’m not getting the treatment I’m entitled to.
Last week, I discovered something I’d never known, and it’s only served to confirm my suspicions. I spoke to my mother about accessing my medical records – she agrees that I’m not being treated fairly – and I found out that when I was seventeen, I was sectioned.
I never knew. Nobody told me. I assumed I was simply being ‘kept an eye on’ when I was stuck in hospital after a failed overdose, but in reality the truth was kept from me to protect me. I can understand why, but still… it’s a lot to come to terms with. I’ve always held onto the belief that no matter how crazy I’ve been, I’ve never been sectioned. Somehow that belief helped me cope. Now everything’s been turned upside down. A lot of my life has been a lie.
It’s a weird thought. I was sectioned, and never knew.
It makes me wonder what else I was never told. Just what my past involved. I know for a lot of my teens I was out of it, and couldn’t take much in except for the difficulties and problems I experienced, and I know I was often trapped in some form of psychosis; living my life in a bubble created to protect myself. There’s so much of my teens I can’t remember – medication, craziness, lack of sleep, lack of food, drugs, drink… it all blocked out memories – and it’s entirely possible that things happened I wasn’t aware of.
So much of my life has been pieced together from flashes of memory; some of which may not even be real. In truth, I don’t know half of what I’ve lived through. I just… locked it away somewhere.
They should have told me. I had a right to know.
Right now, I’m trying not to think about it too much. I have an appointment with my GP on the 9th, and I’m planning on talking about all my worries. I’m really not up to it right now – a lot needs to be done to the flat – but this needs to be sorted once and for all.
3.30am. We were outside. Me sitting on a slightly damp mesh chair, S standing; smoking and drinking white wine.
S kissed me on the forehead.
Me: “If I had a problem, and felt weird talking to you about that problem, would that be silly?“.
So I told him. Confessed I’d lied last weekend about feeling ill, and in fact I was trying my best not to eat. Explained how it’s all about control and, haltingly, listed the reasons why I’m grabbing onto a past ED to cope.
He didn’t ask why.
He didn’t tell me to stop.
And he didn’t get angry.
He just kissed the top of my head and rubbed my shoulder.
“How are we going to fix this?”
Washing ashes down the sink,
as though it would always be so easy
to wash away memories of you
and everything you meant to me.
Finding all the lovesick notes,
crumpled and faded under your bed
- at least, I imagine all the words I wrote
now mean as much to you as the words I said.
Words like “I love you”, I know mean little to you now
soulmates no longer, or that’s how it seems
all the carefully constructed speeches and promises
now lie strewn around us, torn apart at the seams,
and the one thing you never considered
was that I could be hurting as much as you
that I could be regretting every last moment
I could be hating myself for everything I put you through.
Hurting myself to forget the pain,
and pills to help me sleep at night
how could you believe that I knew it would happen;
and that this was something I thought was right?
Alcohol and Tramadol,
quick fixes which never seem to last
uneasy sleep and confused dreams,
and morning always comes too fast.
I slide further downwards and I don’t want to stop,
this is all I believe I ever deserved,
bittersweet lullabies and a twist in the tale
how can you say that I never cared?
Three weeks by the window,
three weeks on the floor,
21 days in the corner,
1260 minutes by the door.
Waiting impatiently for your call,
knowing I could mean so little to you
compared to my feelings, which never changed
despite everything we put each other through.
Despite it all, I still reach out,
I still never felt safer than I do by your side
I still think of you last thing at night
I still want you, and only you, to be mine.
Washing my hands but I’ll never come clean,
I’ll always be stained by all that I did
it was never as easy as you’d like to think
I always told you the truth, more than I hid.
Lovesick letters, secreted in books,
where you’ll never see my weakness for you
I kept the letters, the pictures, all the photographs
despite everything we put each other though.
2008 was the year of poetry. Clichéd late-night ramblings fueled by painkillers and cheap bottles of red wine. Cigarette burns on the PVC bedroom window frame and knocking myself out with tranquilisers to hide from the inevitable breakdown. Things with O were coming to an end and his habit of breaking up with me then coaxing me back into bed – speaking of how he couldn’t live without me – confused everything to the point where I fell apart entirely. Poetry was the only way I could stay in reality.
I cheated on him; slept with a 45 year old man. He cheated on me; throwing himself at a nineteen year old. Everything was messed up. We never recovered.
I have S now.
Eventually, I slept. Uncomfortable, sweaty sleep; the kind where every nice dream has a hidden monster and you wake every so often, afraid of the dreams but fearful of staying awake. Sleep which does nothing to ease the fatigue, and probably contributes to it.
Yesterday I told my mother that I didn’t want to look at the newly-refurbished market, or go in Superdrug, or buy anything from Boots. Avoided TK Maxx and insisted we have coffee outdoors, all because I couldn’t stand the feeling of being watched by everyone. Paranoia is raging through my head at the moment, and there seems to be little I can do to stop it apart from avoiding public places
When I lived with J, I became agorophobic. Not of open spaces… just of people. Eye-contact became a nightmare of “what are they looking at? Is it the piercings? Do I have mascara down my face? Is it because I’m ugly?”. I did try to go outside for a while – forcing myself to speak to shop assistants even though I was sweating and shaking – but it just didn’t work. The space outside of the front door became the enemy, and I locked myself away rather than face the stares and the comments I never heard, but knew people were saying cruel things as I walked past.
It’s easy to hide, you see. Since I moved back in with my mother, my bedroom has become a fortress; a sort of physical representation of the wall I’ve been building around myself since childhood. When life becomes too much to deal with, I can retreat to the safe space, knowing nothing can truly hurt me when I have my belongings around me and familiar things I can touch. It grounds me. Knowing where things are going to be and having everything just as I want it… it’s a security blanket.
I’m starting to give in to the paranoia again. It’s always been there – there’s never been a time where I don’t believe strangers are staring at me and weighing me up – but recently… it’s blossomed. A rise in anxiety was always the risk with taking Lyrica, and so far I’ve been weathering the growing storm as best I can, but it all feels like it’s becoming too much now; I don’t have time for it. I don’t want it.
Which is why, when S and I are settled into the new flat, I’m going to ask my GP about speaking to a psychologist. This is a big thing for me – I’ve had such negative experiences with the mental health system that I lied to the last specialist I saw and told him everything was fine, just so I didn’t have to go through with all the shite – and to be honest, I’m scared. I coped on my own for so long, and I thought I was doing well… but I’m still having delusions. Still hearing the voices.
I need someone else’s take on it.