Archive for recovery

How to lose support & alienate mentals.

Posted in mental illness with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 06/04/2014 by doyourememberthattime

I would very much like to write a cohesive & comprehensive review of the seeme Scotland conference. I want to be articulate, persuasive & insightful. I find myself completely unable to collate more than a couple of sentences without deleting them in disgust.
The problem is my rage just keeps spilling out. I feel angrier today than I have in a very long time. The doubts I have had about the current state of mental health activism have been confirmed. I am unable to hide from the fact that I am not only fighting the world outside, I am staging a battle against the very people who are supposed to be working for me. In short, I attended a conference aimed at dispelling stigma & felt stigmatised.
I apologise if this is disjointed. I feel more unwell today than I have done in quite some time. I have attempted to create a little clarity with my scalpel. I’m taking a deep breath & diving in.
The conference was billed as a re founding of the organisation. I was invited precisely because I had spoken about the status quo of the big mental health organisations. I did try to be open minded, but correctly thought I was in for disappointment.
I couldn’t even get past the ‘housekeeping’ portion of the event without being insulted. It was repeatedly announced that support lines & trained staff were available should anyone require them. The underlying assumption being that a person with a mental health problem would be unable to make it through the day’s events without hand holding. Oh the irony of being stigmatised at an anti-stigma conference by the very people supposedly fighting for your right not to be discriminated against.
This sort of patronising behaviour continued throughout the event. Whether it was speakers explaining ‘big words’ or delegates being shocked to discover I was university educated. A belief that being diagnosed with a mental illness is somehow incompatible with being a capable adult seemed alive and well.
The organisers of see me put a huge emphasis on the input of those with lived experience. Our opinions, we were told, were paramount. The caveat of course being that we accepted the established recovery bias. Our ‘lived experience ‘speaker was of course recovered. She was careful to explain how different she was now that she was better. She had overcome her brush with mental illness, she now worked, and she now had value.
I kept hoping the next speaker would say something, but was met with more buzz words and self-congratulation. I tired of hearing the same thing over and over. I eventually realised that the much feted ground-breaking new approach was the same tired ideas I had been hearing for years.
I have to confess to ducking out of some of the ketso sessions, used for the participation sections of the day. I found the format, which involved writing on leaves & sticking them to felt, incredibly patronising. It was cringe inducing & very much the sort of thing I would expect to be used to facilitate discussion amongst children. In fact if I was to identify a theme of the conference it would be condescension.
On the second day of the conference I attended the only valuable session of the event. A workshop on ‘the damage caused by the recovery movement’ led by metalpoliticalparent. The discussion was frank and I think for some attendees, surprising. It was only here that I felt I was listened to & only at that workshop did I hear anything that sounded remotely like change.
The recovery model reigned supreme. It is clear that seeme intend to continue with the sanitation of mental illness. They do not & will not hear the voices of those who want to discuss the dirty reality.
I’m aware that this post is weak. I can only attribute that to frustration & the after effects of being made to feel entirely other. I hope at some point to improve on my contribution to the discussion of the seeme event, but did want to offer something whilst the conference was fresh in people’s minds.

listen…

Posted in mental health, self harm, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 01/03/2014 by doyourememberthattime

Today is Self-Injury Awareness Day (SIAD). As expected most of the mainstream mental health organisations have been out in force on social media. This should be a good a thing, but as usual the almost entirely miss the mark. All of the major charities trotted out the same tired recovery narrative with a sprinkling of inspirational bullshit. Did anyone ever manage to quit self-harm by drawing fucking butterflies? I doubt it.
If I sound frustrated, it’s because I am. These organisations are supposed to be for people like me. They are meant to advocate for me, but they are not remotely interested in what I have to say. When I tell them what I need and want, I am ignored. I have approached numerous organisations both directly & through social media to explain that they do not represent me (or the many people I know who struggle with mental illness). I am always met with silence or a patronising we know best attitude.
I don’t want to hear exclusively about teenage girls when discussing self-harm. It’s a stereotype & it makes it perpetuates a stigma that makes my life harder.
I don’t want to constantly hear tales of people who have recovered. I’m happy they are no longer suffering, but their story is not my story. Some people do not get better. Mental illness is a life long struggle for many people. Where are those voices? This representation of mental health difficulties is not accurate or helpful. It creates a misleading picture for people with no experience in the field. Even more problematic is the message it sends to those of who are still ill. It says our lives have no merit; that we will only be worth talking about when we recover.
I’m sick of the success stories. All those wonderful people who fought & won. The ones achieving amazing things. It just makes me feel a greater failure. I want the truth. Publicise blogs like this one. Tell the world the blood and guts reality of this disease. Let me speak. Give me (& others like me) the opportunity to show people they’re not alone. That the daily (hourly) fight to keep breathing is not that uncommon. Our lives are still have meaning & value even if we never get back to work or publish a book or raise a million pounds for charity.
Stop giving me stupid advice. Writing on my arms cannot replace cutting. Ice and rubber bands are just telling its ok to hurt myself as long as it doesn’t get messy. Having a bath will not stop a war raging in head. Ditto a cup of bloody tea. Lavender doesn’t cure insomnia. Painting my nails will not make me love myself.

Most of all, listen to us. We know best. We wake up to every morning. Our knowledge is hard won. Please use it to help others who are suffering.

you win again…

Posted in mental health, recovery, self harm with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 28/02/2014 by doyourememberthattime

I had yet another hospital appointment.
this time with an orthopaedic surgeon.
for the last year or so i have been having difficulties with my left hand & arm.
my gp thought it might be related to my b12 defiecency as i also lose feeling in my toes.
apparently that is a completely separate issue.
my problem is in fact, nerve damage.
damage caused by me.

i have a splint to wear and have injections for the next three months.
the consultant will then decide how to proceed surgically.
i’m not thrilled about having another procedure
but
there is so much more to it.

i feel so very guilty.
i am entirely responsible for this.
most of me feels i don’t deserve to have this impairment corrected.
i feel unworthy
i unnecessarily deplete resources.

worse than that,
i feel that this will never be over.
self-harm will always be with me.
whether it’s the constant desire to hurt myself
or
the ongoing consequences of what i’ve done to my body.

all those years of people telling me how dangerous my cutting was
it never felt real to me.
it’s real now.

i’m living with the damage i didn’t believe i could do
my heart
my hand
perhaps this is my punishment

i should be happy
i always wanted to castigate myself
i’ve succeeded

all i have achieved is becoming even more of a burden
now people i love have another reason to worry about me
i require further medical intervention
i am a drain.

even now, I’m whining.
i’ve done it
i need to live with it.
i could
if other people didn’t have to be involved.

i’m comfortable with pain
i still seek it out.
i am beginning to wonder why i keep fighting the urge
if the shadow of self-harm is going to hang over me forever
why not just give in to it?

the shame
and
the guilt
and
fear
are constant companions

so, maybe i let it win.
isn’t it winning anyway?

A letter from my past…

Posted in depression, mental health, suicide with tags , , , , , , , , on 12/02/2014 by doyourememberthattime

I was looking through some old notebooks & I stumbled upon this letter. It surprised me how hard it was to read it. I am grateful that I am no longer in that awful place, but I am terrified of going back there.

For the important ones,

I’m gone. If my death was avoidable, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I wasn’t stronger. I apologise for anything you feel I’ve robbed you of & the hurt I’ve caused. I do love you all, I’m do very sorry that wasn’t enough.

My days are often bright, but I never feel completely safe. My dark cloud can return at any time, always threatening to bully me into submission. I’m writing this because I’m almost certain I won’t survive another storm.

There’s nothing any of you could have done. I’m broken. The damage is irreversible. I can’t get back. Any peace I’ve found is not sustainable. I’m tired & I’m sad. I know I may soon lie down.

I’ll miss you all, take care of each other.

the times they are a changin’ …..

Posted in mental health, recovery, self harm, therapy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 31/01/2014 by doyourememberthattime

i haven’t written since i returned home.
mainly because it’s been tricky to clearly define my thoughts & feelings.

i am endeavouring to hang into the lightness i felt in australia.
it’s a struggle.
i have mostly been just keeping my head above water.
And
putting on an impressive show.
i believe I mimic OK rather well.
i suppose i am adopting the ‘ fake it ’til you make it ‘ strategy.

i knew australia couldn’t be an overnight cure.
it has however been a positive force.
i have hope now.
i know happiness is possible.
i am certain a woman i like & respect still exists.

it’s a matter of fighting for her.

i intend to fight.

so, it’s the one day at a time cliche.
exploring new options
and
taking small leaps.

it is terrifying.

I still have EMDR on pause. i’ve discussed it with my psychologist & we agreed not to rip the lid from that box yet.
it will have to happen.
delving into those memories again is an alarming notion.
i remain convinced it is the best route to long term recovery.

whatever recovery means.

i am yet to decipher what recovery consists of.
those around me seem to consider not cutting to fit the definition,
i know that is not the case.

the battle continues in my head.
i hanker for blood,
itch to create mayhem.
i’m still not convinced the urge will ever leave me.
that i don’t deserve punnishment is becoming more feasible.
perhaps I can forgive myself.

recovery is an unrelenting war fought on multiple fronts.

i have to forge a new identity without self harm.

i hope i’m ready.

still enough time to figure out how to chase my blues away….

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 30/09/2013 by doyourememberthattime

i’m not cutting.
partly because I simply lack the energy it requires
and
also because, damn it, I need to beat this demon.

it’s hard
so hard

i am still awaiting the day when I do not feel the urge
to be honest I’m losing hope that it will come.

there is still a daily battle
the constant guilt haunts me
i miss the pain
and
the blood
Oh god, do i miss the blood.

my emotions are so overwhelming
it becomes hard just to sit in my own skin
an assault on my flesh would be so welcome
the relief of a savage limb would be intense.
blood would wash my sins away
like a baptism.

i have an intermittent slide show playing in my head
of all the glorious destruction I could wreak upon myself
this is would be so much more bearable if I had a deadline
if I knew this would stop one day
if I knew I would win
i could stand the pain.

what the hell am i doing here ?…..

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 31/07/2013 by doyourememberthattime

therapy was another cry fest.
i have been struggling recently
and
as soon as I sat down in that room, it all came tumbling out

i am so frustrated with my current situation
my slide back into deep depression is soul destroying
and
incomprehensible.
why am I back here when I was making such progress?

nothing has changed.
all the recovery boxes were getting ticked
until it all started to fall apart again.

it’s such a cruel illness
there is no explanation for the sudden blackness crowding my head
i am trying so hard to fight it
but
every tiny little step is exhaustingly hard
it’s so difficult to believe I will ever emerge from the darkness

my psychologist believes that part of my problem is my inability to give myself credit
i do not feel that I should be congratulated for washing & dressing
having tea with a friend does not strike me as deserving of applause.
i struggle to connect with my compassionate mind.

i am critical
i consider myself pathetic for all the things I cannot do

guilt is another struggle
i don’t believe that I am allowed to have happy moments
it seems to me that if I can feel good for a short period of time,
i should be able to make myself ok
all of the time.

the only thing I see worth in
is my voluntary work
i have been donating some time to a children’s & youth initiative
engaging in an activity that is not about me feels good
however, my decline has interfered with this
overcoming me fear & anxiety to even manage the journey has become increasingly difficult
the pressure of Interacting with the other group leaders crushes me
hence, I am able to attend less
and
i am robbed of the one thing that allows me to consider myself a worthwhile member of society.

the battle goes on
i am cutting, but much less frequently
i feel i still have a modicum of control.
forcing myself to see friends & family continues to be a focus,
engaging in voluntary work has become a priority,
i have also begun a new anxiety med until I can see my psychiatrist.

i refuse to give in
with increasing frequency,
i want to.

blood on the rise, it’s following me….

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 10/06/2013 by doyourememberthattime

i cut.
265 days. Void.

in the end there wasn’t any particular trigger
i had bad day
no worse than the few that went before it
a flip just switched
i started to feel like I could
like I should
and
that was that

i had been so scared of forgetting how
i thought I might get rusty without the continuous practise
i needn’t have worried
it had never been easier.

I intended to take my time,
make a small cut
dip my blade in
but
the blood flooded my senses
i was in deep before I was even properly aware of it

it felt good.

the blood under my fingernails
the little globs of yellow fat on my hands
the pulsing blue network
the pain
the calm

i expected to feel worse
i’m a little ashamed
i don’t want people to know
but
if this could be my secret
i’d happily dive back into the self-destructive depths.

constant craving…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on 03/05/2013 by doyourememberthattime

i almost cut today.
i got out my box. lifted the lid on the intruments i have missed so much.
that tin smells of blood.
i like it
i selected a scalpel handle & fitted a sharp new blade.
i spread a towel for the much anticipated blood.
i took my time finding the perfect spot.
somewhere soft & inviting.
a patch of skin eager to submit.
i sterilised my skin
and
sat there for hours.

i wanted to make that cut almost as much i wanted to be alive.

opening that box felt like coming home.
breathing in the aroma
feeling that scalpel in my hand
i was back where i belonged.

the thought of that first incision
the crimson emerging,
slowly sliding down my arm.

my heart is racing now at the thought

i want it.

i want blood
&
gore
&
pain
&
scars

i want stitches
and staples.
nerve damage
and infections.

i crave it so badly that i can hardly breathe.

i nearly cut today,but i knew if i started
i wouldn’t be able to stop.

i thought about the life that might be possible
and of all the people i’d be letting down.
i thought of athena
and
i put that box away.

i don’t believe in fear, i don’t believe in pain…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on 19/03/2013 by doyourememberthattime

i haven’t written much about my physical health problems
i don’t know why
increasingly the physical is as debilitating as the mental health problems.

today has been a black hole of pain
the maximum dose of painkillers has little impact.
i’m not experiencing the worst pain i’ve known
but
it’s constant
day after day

simple tasks have become mammoth jobs
moving hurts
eating hurts
i can’t concentrate on anything long enough for it to offer distraction
the pain makes it hard to sleep
and
wakes me when i do manage to drift off

it grinds me down
i feel trapped both in my home
and
in my body

my stomach is a firey ball
my chest aches
the nerve damage in my arm is causing excruciating shooting pains
and the limb feels like dead weight
it goes weak at random intervals
meaning i drop, sometimes, dangerous items

i’m afraid of the pain
terrified
i plead with god to make it stop

i’m more frightening of the consequences of my pain
i want to work
i want to rejoin society
i am working so hard to resolve my mental ill health
if my physical ailments can’t be managed
it may all be in vain
i worry that no one will ever employ me

i am missing my life.
i am tired of saying no
because i’m sore
or sick
or in fear.

for now
i’m just hoping tomorrow is a good day.