Tag Archives: self-harm

A therapist and a psychologist walk into a room …

No, I shouldn’t be joking; or perhaps I should. Thing is, it’s Wednesday morning as I type this. I saw my therapist on Monday, and he suggested hospitalization. I saw my psychologist on Tuesday, and he suggested hospitalization. So – you might be asking – why on earth am I still at home?

Yes, I’m surfing waves of suicidal urges – but I’m surfing them, not succumbing to them. Yes, it’s a bit of a battle not to harm myself – but I’m fighting the good fight, and managing not to do those things.

It’s quite exhausting, managing all these things at the moment, but I am managing them, and while hospital is a wonderful place to be when you need to be there, I don’t feel that I absolutely need to be there right now. So I’m still at home.

I love my professionals, and I’m also completely honest with them, so if I’m having suicidal thoughts I talk about them. Thing is, I’ve been living with this stuff for a long time. Perhaps that’s part of my problem! My capacity to tolerate psychic pain without succumbing is quite high. They must take a conservative approach; it’s part of their code of ethics. I know that if they believed I was definitely going to harm myself, they would take action to prevent that. I love that they trust me and my self-knowledge enough that if I say: “It’s tough, but I believe I can manage it” they believe me.

For me, urges to suicide or self-harm are indicators that my mind cannot cope with what’s going on for me. At present, I am facing a whole heap of horrible psycho-social stressors, most of which are out of my control. This means that the best thing I can do for myself right now is focus on controlling those things I can control, and actively put the other things out of my mind, for the time being. In other words, I need to be taking positive, proactive steps to reduce my stress levels, doing nurturing things to bolster my sense of self, and constantly monitoring my thoughts and mood for negative trends. For instance, last night I had the stray thought: “What on earth will my next job be, and how on earth will I get it?” which instantly started a cascade of negative thoughts and feelings and urges. I’m proud to say that I noted the thought and feeling, noted that it was a valid concern, but also pointed out to myself that it wasn’t a problem I could solve last night, and deliberately started a new task – cleansing my face and then reading a book – to distract myself. I won’t lie, it took about twenty minutes to calm down, but I managed it. Yay me!

See? I can handle this.

Having said that, if you’re in my situation – experiencing waves of suicidal or harmful thoughts – I trust that you will seek out some help. You’ll notice that I’ve made the decision that I’ve made with the support of two professionals, and (although I haven’t mentioned this already) I’ll be speaking with them both today, and I have another appointment already made for Friday. Even though I am feeling terrible, I also feel supported and believe I have the skills to get me through. I have my crisis list drawn up, with phone numbers written down of the local CAT team and Lifeline and other people I can call to talk to.

It’s not so much that I’ve ignored the advice of my professionals, but more that I’ve worked with them to create a survival plan. If you’re having suicidal or other destructive thoughts, I’d suggest you do the same, and follow it – even if it means doing something you don’t want to 🙂 Yes, I am prepared to go into hospital later this week, if that’s what it takes!

Stay well, sweetlings.

xx DB

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Fingernail Days

Some days you’re just hanging on by your fingernails…

…but what’s important is that you keep hanging on.

Here’s to everyone who’s “fingernailing” it today. We’ll get through, and there will eventually come a day which is less awful.

Fingernail days

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Hello world! I’m back

Hello sweetlings!

I’m back after a self-imposed “time out” from WordPress and the world in general. Don’t worry, my withdrawal was in a good cause; I was becoming extremely stressed about my financial situation, and about the outcome of an insurance claim – stressed to the point of my hair coming out in handfuls (ugh!). I couldn’t do anything about either of those situations until yesterday, so I gave myself permission to veg out and distract myself from those situations until 9:00 Thursday 24 April rolled around.

My visiting psychologist came on Wednesday. Gee, it was nice to see him! Not only that, but he was full of praise for my distracting technique for dealing with these stressors. It had been hard for me to feel good about them, because I come from a family in which values such as “usefulness”, “hard work” and “facing reality” are highly regarded, and words like “relaxation”, “self-care” and “watching hours and hours of TV” are looked down upon. As we were talking, it suddenly dawned on me that I was proud of taking such good care of myself. He made me write those words down. Boy, that was difficult! But it felt good 🙂

Thursday dawned. The fateful hour rolled round. I called my contact at the insurance company at 9:00 and was told he’d be out of a meeting “within half an hour or so”. I immediately emailed him, explaining that a four weeks had passed since he told me it would take about a month for him to give me further news about my claim, and also explaining how stressed I was, and that I wanted to speak to him before the long weekend. After that, I kept phoning on the hour until I finally caught him at midday.

Sadly, he still did not have all the information he required to complete the assessment of my claim, despite all my hard work supporting his queries (and, believe me, days have been devoted to these tasks). That was quite difficult to hear. Then he told me that as of Monday he was moving to another team, so my ‘case’ would be given to another worker. Why does this keep happening to me, I wondered? It’s as though there’s a universal law which states that anyone good or useful who comes into my life will be moved out of it by powers beyond my control!

The good news was that everything he had received so far supported my claim, and that he had come across nothing which did not support it. I guess this was the best possible news I could receive, under the circumstances; however, he went on to say that even if the new case manager receives all required information early next week, there will still be a wait of “a few weeks” before the claim could be paid out. Given my current financial state, this was bad news.

After the phone call, I felt overwhelmed by anxiety and depression and that voracious, hopeless helplessness which many of us know so well. I felt suicidal and the urge to self-harm was very strong. I am proud that I was able to surf those urges and just cry it all out.

Later on, I was able to see the positives: that the claim is progressing, that there are no hiccups yet, that it may still be paid out … hopefully in time to avoid having to move out of our home.

There’s just one more thing I want to say.

I was surprised at my decision to stay off WordPress for a few days. For the past few months, this has become a real haven to me, a place of community and support. I think I felt the need to distance myself for a little while because I am honest here, and I was taking care of myself by not feeling the intolerable anxiety and stress which I felt was lurking in the shadows, waiting to grab me.

It’s good to be back. It will take me a couple of days to catch up on posts, and I might take it easy, but I can’t wait to read about what’s going on in your world!

xx DB

 

Tulips

 

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Simple Things

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This picture means a lot to me. Not much to look at, is it? But I used to run alongside this creek, back in 2009 – the year I replaced drinking with jogging as my coping mechanism for stress (and lost 20kg in the process, yay!).

Well, actually, that wasn’t the only reason I gave up drinking. I realized that alcohol had a strong influence on my mood; there seemed little point in doing therapeutic work when I couldn’t hear a whisper amid the storm, so to speak.

Back to the picture. The creek wasn’t usually this full; it’s in flood, here. Actually, I think I took this picture in 2010, after various dramas ‘flooded’ my life. My coping mechanisms weren’t up to the task, and I became very unwell, spending quite some time in a psychiatric hospital.

You know what? I’m still recovering, almost four years later. Floods are like that: once a flood’s been through an area, the ground becomes saturated, which lowers its capacity to absorb water and makes a second flood more likely. Bushfires, on the other hand, deplete the fuel load of the land, making a repeat fire less likely. Sadly, the way our brains/minds react to traumas is more akin to flooding than burning.

I used to carry cards in my purse, cards I’d made myself with pictures on one side and things to remember on the other. This was on the back of the first card I ever made. It was my “Things To Try” list if the urge to self-harm or suicide became overpowering. Funny, until writing this post I never made the connection  between the fact that the creek’s flooded in the picture, and the emotional state I was in when I made the card: overwhelmed, barely coping, at serious risk of not making it through … I’ve just dug that old card out, and I had even included the  phone numbers of my emergency contacts. Me, the numbers girl! I certainly was prepared for a worst case scenario, prepared to be in a state of mind where I couldn’t remember numbers or operate my Contacts list properly.

The psychiatrist who was treating me at that time was amazing. I honestly believe I wouldn’t be here today, if it weren’t for him. If my mental illness was a flood which threatened to wash me away, he was the stone wall which held the flood in place and protected the me. He went above and beyond. It was impossible to doubt his commitment to my best interests, my recovery. He is a truly good man.

That creek – it will have been through quite a few flood / drought cycles in the four years since I last ran alongside it. (I’ve moved cities since then.) It will have bounced back, though. That’s what creeks do.

I’m glad I’ve still got the card – what do they say, those who forget history are doomed to repeat it? I guess I have come a long way, since then. I know myself a lot better. I cope better, even if I still have bad days or bad moments. I’m not working at the moment, but there have been times between then and now when I was able to work.

That creek will still be there. Perhaps another woman is running alongside it, right now. Perhaps things in her life aren’t going so well.

I hope she makes it safely home.

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What the hell’s wrong with me? Oh yeah, that …

I got some maybe-good news today; but now, a few hours later, I’m feeling even worse than before. What the …? Oh yeah, I’m depressed.

Let me back up a moment. The maybe-good news could potentially be absolutely-fucking-fantastic news: the man from the insurance company which is processing my income protection claim going back to the last time I was able to hold down a full-time job reckon they’ll actually pay the claim, pending a few routine inquiries. He listed these, and the company’s requirements for whether the claim will be successful or not, and provided they don’t do anything weirdly screwy, I should actually get some money in about a month’s time.

Apart from blowing apart my paranoid delusion that all insurance companies are essentially evil and out to get me, this news should have me bouncing off the walls, right? OK, preparing to perhaps bounce off walls – because insurance companies have, after all, proved time and time again that they are in fact out to get me, and I’m still not confident that the claim will actually be successful.

Instead of celebrating, or feeling mildly happy, or even feeling less stressed, I’m actually far more stressed than I was a few hours ago. Thoughts of SH and That Other Thing keep crowding my mind. I feel completely worthless, hopeless, crushed. I’m so agitated that even my beloved electronic valium (TV) isn’t calming me.

I’m in a bad way.

I think it’s because knowing that the end of all this stress might be in sight, I’ve actually allowed myself to feel the full weight of worry which I usually work so hard to deny. For a short while, I allowed myself to think things like: “I’ll be able to get out of debt! I’ll be able to buy some new clothes! I’ll be able to catch up on all my medical bills!” let alone things like “I won’t have to make difficult decisions between food or petrol!” and even “This money might come through before my car registration is due!”

I let all those thoughts into my mind, but now I’m stuck with them – and the reality that I have to live with their opposites for at least another month, and maybe forever (if the claim fails).

So, back to my original question: what the hell’s wrong with me? Well, sweetling, you suffer from anxiety and depression. This is what your mind does: it takes something nice, something pleasant, and twists it around into something stressful and yucky.

I “joked” with a friend yesterday about wanting a new brain. I wasn’t really joking. I’m tired of this stupid game of hating myself, watching myself think irrational thoughts, not being able to do things … I’m just so tired of it all. Some days I really do just want to curl up and, well, not have to be me any more. I want to claw the skin off my face. I have to stay out of the kitchen, because that’s where the knives are. I can’t go into the laundry, where the bleach lives. This isn’t living. This is cowering inside your own home, inside your own skin, not even watching life go by because you’re too frigging scared of what might happen if things get too real.

Two days ago, I was glorious Diana. This afternoon, I’m barely a filthy slug. I’m not worthy of being alive. I’m not worthy of friendship. I don’t deserve good news, because I can’t even rejoice in it.

Please let this end soon.

Today, I feel less than a slug

Today, I feel less than a slug

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