These wounds are all self-imposed

I fell apart yesterday. In hindsight, it was coming; there’s only so long I can keep things secret before I blow, and I just couldn’t keep it in anymore. I cried all day. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much.

I’m not coping. There, I said it. Why has it taken me six months to admit this? I know I’ve admitted that things are hard at the moment, but not how hard – I suppose there’s still the fear someone I know will read this. You know what? Fuck them. This is my outlet, not theirs.

Depression

My Medicated Cartoon Life

I’m horribly, hideously depressed. There aren’t words to describe just how lost I feel, and I’m so worried about admitting this because I don’t want to be seen as an attention seeker. Things have… escalated, very quickly. I’ve stopped eating properly – avoiding food all day then binging at night – and the urge to self-harm over the tiniest thing is incredibly strong.

Yesterday, I had an appointment with a doctor. I’d been vomiting for three days, unable to take any medication and struggling to cope with the combination of disability and needing to run to the bathroom every five minutes. The anxiety was beyond extreme, and I could hardly speak without bursting into terrified tears. As soon as I got to the surgery I started panicking and crying, begging my mum not to leave me (she insisted on coming to my appointment because I was so on edge), and once I saw the doctor I became an absolute wreck. I explained how I hate being on so much medication, how my life had become a pathetic cycle of pills, sleep, and insomnia. It went… okay, I suppose. I have another appointment in a week – I assume to check I haven’t topped myself – and I’ve been taken off the anti-inflammatories because my stomach’s utterly destroyed, and been given a much lower dose of the anti-depressant to stop me withdrawing. Duloxetine simply isn’t working for me, so we’re going to try putting me back on Cipralex next week in the hope it’ll stop the panic, or at least control it a little. It used to work wonderfully, and I was useless without it.

Dylan Moran

It took until 1am for me to finally break down in front of S. I haven’t really spoken to him about my mental health – it’s something I’ve always wanted to keep separate from our relationship – but last night was impossible. I simply couldn’t stop crying. I tried to go to bed early, but just lay sobbing in the dark. Eventually, I wrapped a blanket around myself, walked into the living room, and said, “is it okay if I be an emotional wreck in here with you? I’m not keen on doing it on my own”.

He was amazing. We sat on the sofa, his arm around me and my head on his chest, and I told him everything. Not about the tablet abuse, but I think he knows about that anyway. I told him I couldn’t see a future; not just between us, but no future at all. I was too scared to even try looking forwards because everything fucks up eventually. Truthfully, I’ve given up. There have been times recently where, if someone had offered me a quick and painless way out, I’d have taken it.

Somehow, its harder now that I want to make something of myself. In the past, I wasn’t bothered because I didn’t believe I would ever amount to anything, but now… I want a life. I want to go out and see people and speak to other humans. I want to be able to use public transport without having to put mental blinkers on so I don’t panic. I want to be able to eat normally, and sleep properly. I just want to be something close to normal, whatever that is. I want to feel okay.

.

 

There and back again

During my brief* flirtation with cognitive  behavioural therapy, I found my first stumbling block to be the advice I was given to follow when I’m having a panic attack:

“Remember, it won’t kill you“.

Really? Because that’s not how I felt last night.

Terrified Woman Screaming

Images.com/CORBIS

Of course, it all worked out fine. It always does. This is the frustration; I know nothing terrible is likely to happen, but still I obsess and panic until I can’t see straight. Throughout my life this has happened hundreds if not thousands of times, and while bad stuff undoubtedly does happen… has the world ended yet? No.

I’m sick of not being able to make sense of myself.

Talking of sick, the Tramadol made me vomit. Penance, I guess.

 

*one session. I’m amazed I lasted that long.

So why don’t you slide

Earlier, S asked if I fancied a takeaway – curry from our favourite restaurant – and I agreed. Later he went out with a friend to buy some tools. They’re working on the basement beneath our flat, as technically that’s included in the rent. It’s currently filled with the last owner’s belongings; stacks and stacks of paintings, canvas, frames, lamps, chairs, books… Bob was a hoarder, and a painter. His work’s pretty good actually. Now he’s dead and his wife is in a nursing home (she went downhill very rapidly when he died), somebody has to clear it all. The basement is pretty big, taking up most of the floor space of the house, so it’s a mammoth task.

Anyway, while they were out I got a call from S. He asked me if I wanted to go to the restaurant with his mates instead of getting a takeaway.

Did I do the right thing when I said, “it’s okay, I’m not up to it. You can go along anyway”?

I wasn’t lying. I’m truly not up to it. I tried going for a short walk earlier, and by the time I returned, I was struggling to breathe and sweating like crazy. It’s been so long since I’ve had ‘proper’ exercise. That walk used to take me five minutes. Today, it took thirty.

Straight away S’s tone changed; the first time I’ve ever really heard it do so. He said, “oh. Okay. But we were going to have a takeaway.”

I shrugged him off, “it’s fine, I’m really, really not up to it. We can do it another time”.

He agreed, but… he didn’t sound happy. It’s only when I ended the call that I began to feel that familiar twinge of panic.

Image

Oh god. Oh god oh god oh god you fucking idiot oh god oh god.

I have never once done something (to my knowledge, anyway) to make S angry or disappointed. Unlike my relationship with O, I’ve managed to keep my irrational emotions in check; at least until I’m alone. I’m so determined not to fuck this up. I know it’s classic BPD to say, “oh, I love him so much, he’s my everything, I want to be with him forever” but all that’s got me in the past is a string of disastrous relationships and far too much bitterness. I almost have my head around that now, and the medication certainly helps me keep the more extreme aspects of my behavior in check. So while I know that these feeling might be BPD tricking me and that mental illness has a habit of making me cling to somebody like fuck… I want to believe this is real. I’m pretty sure I know, deep down, I love S with all my heart; how could I not? He’s the only man who has never condescended me. Who has never given me reason to suspect him of wrongdoing. The only man who I’ve felt comfortable enough with to let the mask slip.

I know I love him.

And now I’m scared.

scared-woman

So what did I do? I went straight for the Tramadol.

I’m now sitting at the kitchen table, trying and failing to calm myself with a joint. The urge to crawl into bed and hide under the duvet is overwhelming.

“I wouldn’t be buying plug-in air fresheners if I didn’t want to live with you, would I?”

We’re nearly there. Empty boxes are beginning to outweigh full ones, and the hallway carpet is finally visible. S spent today sorting tools and electronic bits into drawers, while I painted the underside of some shelves I started yesterday, and a shelf S build from some scrap pieces of wood to attach to the blackboard I made from the backing to an old painting I found in the basement. We’re putting them up in the kitchen; I’ve accepted that my piss-poor memory isn’t going to improve any time soon, and any tools to help me remember the most basic things would come in pretty handy.

We’re finishing off tomorrow, and putting the Christmas tree up. After years of making sure my mother’s collection of decorations was in her will – I’m not kidding, I really love those decorations – she announced a few weeks ago that I could have them. Neither S or I are particularly big on Christmas, or public holidays of any kind, but I sort of want a tree and some sparkly lights for our first Christmas living together. We went to Tesco tonight to pick up some essentials, and ended up getting excited over festive food; something I never thought would happen.

lights

 

I confess, my first solo-ish Christmas combined with finally unpacking has brought the BPD out a little, and I’ve had a couple of outbursts; panic-driven, tear-stained, get-the-hell-away-from-me-or-I’ll-explode. I’m getting finicky about calories again and standing in front of the full-length mirror, loathing everything about my silhouette. Started wondering, “what’s the point in worrying about all this when i’ll inevitably go wrong anyway?“.

So I was quite surprised when S, who was leaning his head on my arm as I read in bed, said, “you are still enjoying living with me, aren’t you? I know I can be a pain.

It’s rare for S to show any real vulnerability. Not out of some misguided macho pride; he just doesn’t, and it seems to work for us. It’s always a surprise when he does, and I never quite know how to deal with it. After all, could I really be 100% honest without terrifying him? “Actually, I’ve never been so happy, and just being around you is making me more comfortable than I’ve ever felt in my life. Waking up with you is the best thing ever, and I feel like I could explode when you make me a cup of coffee because it’s so damn awesome to finally be living with you”.

No.

Past relationships – especially those with O and J – have taught me that it’s very easy to say the wrong thing, and sometimes it’s best to just keep my mouth shut if I want things to run smoothly. So I just stroked S’s hair, kissed him on the nose, and said “I wouldn’t be buying plug-in air fresheners if I didn’t want to live with you, would I?

Couple-on-Sofa

 

The past week has been strange to say the least, and I feel guilty for writing posts and not responding to comments. I had planned to get stuck in to this blog a little bit; find the time somehow to sit and relax and really think about everything which has happened and all the little occurrences I should be writing about. I do read every single comment, and it’s not like I simply shrug them off; many of them stay with me while I’m going about my day, and I find myself thinking of certain readers, wondering how they are.

I never really explained in my last post why I had a great big needle stuck into my ankle. In truth, I haven’t really wanted to speak about it much because although it’s wonderful that I’m finally – finally – being taken seriously and tests are now beginning to show results, it’s also scary. Words are being thrown around which I’m not entirely comfortable with. Suggested diagnoses. Referrals back to rheumy. Discovery of a misdiagnosis, and something big which was missed entirely.

Long story short, my ankle/foot pain was never being caused by Achilles tendonitis, despite it being diagnosed by physio, the bio-mechanics clinic, and orthopaedics. I’ve actually damaged a tendon in the side of my foot, meaning that the exercises I was all but bullied into doing despite my protestations of pain were just exacerbating the problem. The ultrasound I had a couple of months ago showed a tear in the tendon, and also a light mass in my ankle joint. Fluid. Lots of fluid.

So I was rushed through X-Ray. Being rushed through any department in my local hospital is a miracle in itself.

Then finally, after almost two years of constant pain, referrals, tests and appointments, it all began to come together.

Xray

 

The damage to my tendon is a symptom, and the reason why I’ve been in so much pain is because my ankle joint is incredibly inflamed, so I’m getting pain from both things, and the tendon can’t heal because the swelling keeps it constantly stretched.

So far, so normal, really. Dr. B did say I have osteoarthritis in my knees and fingers, so why not elsewhere? Only, my othopaedic consultant sat down and asked me a load of questions about my health; when I had pain, where the pain was, how well I slept, my eating habits, the history of my fibromyalgia… read back through my notes, and spoke to another consultant.

I’m going to send these results to Dr B. With your history and symptoms, we may well be looking at rheumatoid arthritis“.

He’s the third medical professional to say that in the past six months.

Only this time, they have actual pictures. Proof. Proof that I’m not faking it, and that there is something wrong with my body. That ultrasound scan.. just one scan, 15 minutes of my time, and finally things are happening.

Do I want RA? Hell no.

Do I believe I have it? Yes. It all fits. Everything. Almost too well.

Tests are beginning next month.

I’m not normal.

“I’m getting sick of this. I bet if we did a poll right now, nobody else would be doing what you’re doing. You’re not acting like a normal person. It’s as if you’ve given up”.

I sat on my bed, laptop balanced on my legs, and wondered if my mother would really put money on my abnormality. She’s not the betting kind – she’s free of any vices unless you can count chocolate – so I’d guess not, but it still struck me as somewhat insensitive. I never act like a normal person; surely she’s used to it by now? I tried to concentrate on the screen as she carried on, determined to ignore anything negative.

If you carry on like this, I’m calling the psychiatric unit“.

Last week, she threw this old gem at me – a claim she’s been making since my teens – because I was shouting. Admittedly, I’ve been shouting a lot recently, and there’s no doubt it’s making me look entirely crazy; especially when I’m slamming doors like an angsty teenager and bursting into tears for no reason. My emotions have been running all over the place for a couple of weeks now, and having my mother remind me that I’m not part of “normal” society really doesn’t help.

This was always going to be the risk I took by starting on Lyrica. The side-effects read like a list of psychiatric disorders, and my GP warned me that I was likely to experience more anxiety and depression if I took them. What can you do though when faced with both physical and mental illness? You take those risks because otherwise you’d never get anywhere; unfortunately most medications seem to end in a cycle of side-effects and more pills to calm those down. Some may say that scrapping the meds would be the ideal answer. If only life were that black and white.

Lyrica works. It works better than I ever imagined, and being able to do simple things like lifting my arms above my head has done a lot to improve things for me emotionally. I can stand up for more than a couple of minutes now; a few months ago, I had to sit down almost permanently. However, that freedom has come at a huge price, and I’m starting to worry a little.

I should be writing about S’s bithday celebrations – he turned thirty on Thursday – but instead I’m panicking over nothing, and putting off completing this post because I know it’ll all sound ridiculous. I feel selfish; I’m here complaining about my problems and haven’t made any effort to reply to comments or read other blogs. I mean, I have made the effort, but couldn’t write anything. Or even take anything in.

 

“We can’t let her think we’re unintelligent, T”

My mother is still stressing out over the benefits situation. This morning found her surrounded by bank statements again; double, triple and quadruple checking dates just in case she’s made a mistake somewhere. The living room floor has become a holding pen for pieces of paper, pens and cups of cold tea as she tries to ensure every last little bit of money in her account can be explained. Pension credit. Money my father occasionally paid into her bank for work on the house. Gifts. Every last penny is being accounted for, and it’s driving me crazy.

I don’t know if she’d ever understand this, but they’re investigating me, not her. I’m doing my best to ignore all that’s happened and let it wash over me, but the constant stress of my mother’s obsessive perfectionism is ruining my attempts at coping. I want to slap the bank statements out of her hand and shout at her; tell her it’s my life on the line, not hers, and if I can try to deal with it then she should too. I know that’s a selfish attitude to have, but I wish I could make her see that she’s just winding herself up. The fraud officer… she doesn’t need all this information. I wish I could explain that, but my mother doesn’t hear me when she’s determined to prove some sort of private point to herself.

I had to type out a couple of cover letters earlier, to put in with the collected statements. My mother’s wittering and stressing and tutting… I made so many mistakes, and each time my mother pointed the errors out and said, “we can’t let her think we’re like the others who get accused. We’re intelligent”.

She reads the Daily Mail.

I haven’t felt able to think rationally all day. It’s 1am now, and I’ve been trying to write this post since early this afternoon, with little success. Every time I sit down to type, I get distracted. I get like this sometimes; I go from laid-back and lazy to almost-ADHD within a second, unable to stop my brain running away with itself. Today was one of those days, with a hefty dose of panic thrown in.

All day I’ve been on the edge of tears for no damn reason. I hate it when I get like this. I can remember standing at my teacher’s desk in primary school, being told off for something stupid, and bursting into tears. I felt so ashamed; no other kid reacted like that. I still do it whenever I feel threatened or backed into some sort of corner.

Before we even got to town, I was panicking and snapping at my mother. I didn’t mean to; I just had no control over my emotions. Again, I hate it when this happens… everything in my life is about control and knowing exactly where I am emotionally, and when I freak out it feels like I’m going to die. All the protection I build around myself gets stripped away by anxiety and I feel utterly exposed. Like the whole world knows I’m a big, fat failure.

It’s now 3am. I tried to sleep, but my bedroom is too warm and my mattress is at an odd angle since my mother flipped it over at the weekend. I keep thinking back to today/yesterday, and realising just how much anxiety still rules my life. It’s not just a one-off either; I freaked out at the weekend too, while S and I were in Liverpool. I was frustrated that everything was hurting, and walking was near-on impossible. I couldn’t keep pace with S and even though he tried to slow down for me, I still felt angry that I couldn’t walk normally. That I had to keep stopping and sitting down to give my hips and legs a rest. I felt like I was letting S down; he’d gone to the effort of taking me for a day out, yet I bitched and griped my way around the city.

I tried eating at the restaurant he took me to – a bistro we’d visited before – but even the Greek pizza tasted like disappointment. On the train home, I sat next to S while he chatted to an old man sitting opposite, feeling utterly miserable. I know I shouldn’t let the pain get to me, but sometimes it’s hard not to wish I could just be normal. Just for one day.

We got back to his landlord’s house and sat in the garden for a while, smoking and drinking coffee. We chatted a little, and I made a few jokes about my inability to cope. S seemed unusually introspective, and something inside me decided to take the BPD view on things. I asked if he was okay. S said yes. I asked again. I worried. I thought perhaps I’d ruined the whole day by being me. I said he looked sad; he said he was just tired. It took all my strength not to ask again, to avoid grabbing onto his arm and begging him not to leave me.

It’s now half past two in the afternoon. Managed to sleep, eventually, after going downstairs and stuffing myself with mango jelly. I’m quite proud of myself; I wanted chocolate cake, but forced myself to go for the low calorie option instead. For now, the binge cycle is somewhat under control.

Yesterday ended up being a total disaster. I was angry and defensive to begin with, and my mother commented on my paranoia; something I hate being brought up. I know I’m paranoid. I don’t need to be told. I tried to keep it together as we walked around town, but everyone seemed to be staring at me and getting in my way on purpose, and half way around the shops I realised I hadn’t taken my medication – which only caused me to panic more. Life without the cipralex and beta-blockers is unbearable, and it amazes me how quicky I can go from coping quite well, to a nervous wreck within hours of missing a dose. Especially without the beta-blockers; they slow my heart down and stop me going into the fight or flight response because of entirely ridiculous things.

I complained. Bitched. Moaned. I felt bad, but I couldn’t help it. My brain said one thing and my mouth said another. The pain in my ankle was frustrating me and every tiny little noise set me off. Our main shopping street isn’t particularly big, so it gets very crowded. Even though it was pouring with rain, the crowds were enough to make me feel entirely insecure and vulnerable, and my mother kept telling me off for being irrational, which didn’t help at all.

I’m sorry for this post. I know it’s mixed up and confused. I don’t even know what I was trying to say.

It’s not a relapse if you only do it once, right?

I’ve been trying to avoid it for three days, but I’m planning on taking two tramacet and going to bed. At Z’s barbecue she gave me a couple of pills; I was only joking when I hinted for some but I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to space out in a lovely chemical calm. Tramadol and I… we have a history. I was addicted. Just like the codeine.

I took some codeine a few days ago. 5 pills, then 5 more the night after. I haven’t touched it for a while, but the urge to blanket my fears with opiates was too strong.

I’ve been tired all day. Tired, sore and anxious. Panicking over nothing and trying to avoid food. Counting calories. Wasting time until I can sleep.

I’m not sad. Just so tired. So filled with thoughts. I want to rest for a while.

It’s not a relapse if you only do it once, right?