Little Chloë

It’s her turn to be nurtured. Her time to be reassured. Her chance to have her needs met.

One thing about intensive therapy is that stones tend to be uncovered. The lichen moss stripped back to reveal an intense, constantly shifting dark hard mass of unresolved pain; insecurity and agonising self doubt. The stones can’t be shifted but they can be worked upon. They can be softened, they can be polished so that angry, distorted screams aren’t reflected back and instead a quiet acceptance can be acknowledged. I cannot turn back time. The wounds which were inflicted, etched into my brain can only be changed in time. By me.

Trying to learn to love oneself more than another seems impossible. I can manage it part of the day, in increments. Then the self hate comes flooding back and I search, desperately, for validation and love from another. Yet these links I yearn for are so tenuous that they disappear before I can get a hold on them. These links are made with others who are also damaged. Also broken. They aren’t strong enough to hold my greedy little hands that clutch and grab for a lifeline. Instead I must turn these hands towards my own self and instead of grasping, they must stroke. They must be gentle.

The well of love I have within me seems never-ending yet at the same time empty. Slowly, slowly I am trying to tease out self worth and appreciation. Collecting it and giving it in small sips to Little Chloë. She needs it. I am taking her out to the beach so that we can sit and listen to the waves tumble into the shore. We garden so that she can feel the soil in her fingers and sense the life that is ready to grow. She sits with me as I paint and draw and make rudimentary clay sculptures in the shape of the Mother Goddess. I look at her photos and I tell her that I love her. That she was enough. That she is enough. That the 43 year old woman who looks back from the mirror can finally grow up and stop tearing chunks out of her being.

Tears roll down as I type. This growing pain hurts. It rips my insides apart, I feel the desperation as I wish for arms to comfort me. There are no arms, not only would the ease be short-lived, it would be vacuous. I must use my own arms and my own heart to learn to soothe.

Mother Goddess

Leaky Vessel

Sitting in my room on my bed in between lunch and a workshop. Reflecting on a) how much I cry and b) how I might be able to pull a sudden sickie and be excused from another excruciating hour of ‘let’s pull the addicts apart and bare their souls until they howl for mercy’.

Yes I am feeling a little dramatic and if I were a cat (which alas I am not.. I have never seen an alcoholic cat before so can safely assume I wouldn’t need to be in a rehab if I were one..), I would be painstakingly licking my fur so that every strand of hair was laying in the correct direction and then would sprawl out and knead my claws into the soft blanket under which I am currently hiding. Right now, being a cat would be the ultimate solution for my weary brain that has had enough of the constant barrage of therapy.

The thing is that I am fully aware that out of this pain comes growth. It’s just it hurts so fucking much. I struggle to sleep when I go to bed and then can’t wake up in the morning. My first thoughts as I stir are muted and fuzzy but within seconds negativity bombards the mind, like shots being fired from a gun. The idea is that I pray first thing and meditate. Unfortunately the fatigue is crippling first thing and I struggle to get down to the kitchen to make a cup of tea let alone pray to my higher power. Ideally I would pray to my higher power whilst simultaneously receiving a cup of tea but I feel that asking for tea and serenity might be pushing it.

Relationships throughout my life are fast becoming an obvious issue and I witness from my mind’s sidelines how I play out my role in relationships now. In fact I almost feel like I have just been thrown back to being a young child and I am having to relearn how to be a friend, a daughter, a sister as well as a mother. And god knows what hell being in a relationship now would manifest. Almost 6 weeks in and I have realised that not one of my past relationships have been healthy. Blood red ‘Codependence’ is stamped condemningly on each one, as I file them into the ‘LOVE – archived’ cabinet drawer.

With shocking clarity as I sat on a bus coming back from the Portobello market, I realised that each time I envisioned being with a partner, I was looking for someone who had the same values with a shared sense of humour, who liked the same things, adored animals, listened to the same music.. In fact, I was looking for me. I don’t actually need anyone else to fulfil me or make me whole.. I have already found that person. It is me. I have everything I need and now I just need to love her. The tears that threaten to drown me also come from the stark realisation that there is no person alive who can save the little girl who resides within, that critical time has passed. The loneliness and fear that stemmed from instances of neglect needed to be addressed between the ages of 0 – 16. They simply cannot be fixed now by anything external. That boat has most definitely sailed. Love, material objects, new hair styles or multiple piercings and tattoos.. it is time to accept that they are nice-to-haves. The only way that this vessel can be repaired is via a self-care manual that incorporates the instructions to fixing one’s container so that it is supportive, can bear rough seas and doesn’t leak. And to do this I assume I need to do a bit of work on self-love, self-care and self-esteem.

Through drawing and painting, meditating, writing and (my latest addiction) collecting house plants, I endeavour to create a safe space whilst I am here. My essential oil diffuser puffs out therapeutic steam whilst changing colour and the salt lamp exudes a warm glow. Fuck knows what the cluster of healing crystals are actually doing by my bedside but I do seem to think that shoving a different one down my bra each day may help with something. I’ll keep you posted on that one.

Emoanxidefidepressitis.

The time has come where I admit my brain has recently developed an updated malfunction error code. It can’t get past the start up mode. Instead of number and letters, I have compulsive and obsessive thoughts flashing by like some sort of sodding space storm. As a self-medicator I knew that not drinking would threw up some delightful debris but feeling compelled to do five things simultaneously constantly, whilst snapping at everyone in my family or bursting into tears combined with the inability to stop picking at every inch of my face or scalp, was not something I had bargained on. Yep, it feels that bad.

Fortunately (unfortunately?), it doesn’t look that bad to the outsider.. I can chat, laugh and function. However the cracks are starting to show. I have had to leave social events early or avoided doing things with friends because I can’t stop the chatter in my mind. I feel that unless I am constantly engaged in something, then I need to be on my own. I am unable to focus when watching TV shows so now it is only films or really good documentaries that I can sit still enough to enjoy. The good thing is that reading a book is my lifeline, even if I do have a bad habit of skimming the page before being able to read it properly. And I constantly forget who new characters are.

As I look back historically I have realised that this behaviour has always been there but it has been masked by alcohol. When people visit, I find it difficult to sit down and relax – unless I am pissed. When camping, I struggle to sit down because I can always find something to tidy and I remember when I went to Thailand in my early 20s, nearly having a melt-down because everyone was relaxing in hammocks – I couldn’t cope with the lack of stimulation. I thought that ditching nightly glasses of wine would mean I would be able to concentrate more, have less low moments and the Shitty Guilt Fairy would fuck off. Apparently, she is still knocking about.. only she doesn’t harp on about wine any more… just about my general level of shitness.

I think back to being a teenager and telling my mum that everything was going too fast.. my thoughts and my actions.. they were on a motor.. I used to have to turn the tap on to quieten it all down. Slowly I can piece it together.. the hours of crying when I was in my teens? I was bored. I couldn’t self-soothe, until I opened another can of cider.

I have mentioned before that I have been accused of a penchant for drama and more recently how I never stop.. that there is always a new project to undertake, be it diy/a new hobby/getting an animal.. I see the similarity between my MO and I. I see the despair when he is thwarted and how it is mirrored in my own behaviour.

The last four months, the irritability has worsened. The concentration levels are plummeting and I can’t find my off switch. My highs and lows feel even more pronounced; worry and guilt have taken top spot. So I have accepted I need more help, not just for me but to benefit my relationships too and also to ensure I don’t fall off the nursing degree wagon.

I have been to the GP, she will write a letter of confirming my ‘long term condition’ (ironic that we are doing that particular module at the moment 😉 ) to my uni so that I can buy more time for my essays and I can get a learning support plan in place.

Writing this isn’t easy. It’s not a cry for help (already done that at the doctors 🙂 ) – I am not heading towards an abyss but I am slipping and one of the most important things when you have somewhat sketchy mental health, is to recognise it. This post also has a purpose; to highlight that even those who appear to be doing ok, or maybe are just a bit eccentric, or neurotic.. they sometimes have an illness. A real bonafide illness. Mine was (unbeknownst to me) labelled by medics as a borderline personality disorder, (now known as an emotionally unstable personality disorder…how rude) – back in 2003 – combined with anxiety and a history of depression – these can cross over with attention deficit hyperactive disorders too.. which could explain a lot of things. Little did I know when looking at behavioural symptoms our MO was having, that on the adult ADHD screening sheet, I would resonate with the vast majority of them.

It’s difficult for my lovely family and wonderful friends and I love them so, so much for sticking with my highs and lows. My unpredictability. My new obsessions. I used to hate what I perceived to be judging comments but now I have begun to realise that unless you are in my brain (and thank the bejeezus you ain’t), you wouldn’t understand. So now I try and recognise their opinions for what they are; they come from a place of love and most probably, a place of innate frustration! As a parent of a child who is exhibiting these very same characteristics (if I have to listen to him harp on about fucking Joella one more time, I will explode); I now understand how draining it can be trying to support someone like him. And like me.

In the main I try and hide the majority of my ‘quirks’.. when I am really struggling I build my wall and camp down behind it until they subside, so that no-one sees how bad I am getting. For my husband and children though, they aren’t so lucky.. they are generally also stuck behind the wall with me.

 

 

Clipped Wings

It’s just before 3am and LO has woken me up complaining he needs a cuddle from his dad. I pack him back off to bed unhappily (he has form) and then, wide awake now, I turn to check my phone. It’s in the boy’s room, by the MO’s bed. I had given it to him last night to listen to a mindfulness meditation in another attempt to try and calm his ever-increasingly bad behaviour down. As I look at the phone, I see an email from his teacher that arrived later in the night, after he had fallen asleep. We correspond regularly to try and keep on top of the issues that he has at school and at home. What I read, feels like the worst one yet; he spent another morning out of his yr 5 class and was with yr 3 instead. She is worried about how this is affecting him academically; I agree but equally I understand that this ‘low level’ behaviour has a ripple effect on other children’s learning and let’s face it, it’s downright wearing.

At home, we deal with the manipulation, the anger, the tantrums. Equally, there is humour, compassion and affection. I watch him flit from emotion to emotion like a butterfly, unable to land for long before being tempted elsewhere. Like a motor he is propelled by his thoughts and his ego, what can he do to impress next and if that fails, who can he mentally destroy? He somehow sets us all up, himself included; maybe a request to do something he knows he can’t do so that when he is declined, he over-reacts, a ready-made vent for his anger and emotions to pour out of; unrepressed steam from an engine. It’s like having a car that constantly overheats, you live in fear of being stuck in traffic on a hot day; eyes straining to see if there are tiny tell-tale wisps of steam creeping up from the radiator over the bonnet. A bottle of water lying in the passenger footwell, just waiting to refill the arid void but knowing that it’s always a bit too late. Everything is a bit too late.

I worry about his future. I worry about our future. How is he going to get through the teenage years? Will he get his school qualifications if he can’t even sit still during a class or is constantly moving to a different one? Will he get expelled? Will he make college? Will he hurt someone? Will he go to jail? What, to some, may seem extreme fears, for a mother who has watched, like a car crash, their child struggle with regulating their behaviour since they were two and a half, these fears seem real. He slips through the system like a piece of mercury. He hasn’t hurt himself or anyone else so CAMHS won’t touch him and he doesn’t ‘qualify’ for NHS help because he isn’t severe enough. Even friends and other parents of his school friends don’t completely understand what it is like to live with him because he is so highly functioning; so utterly charming and clever. Only those closest to us can see the cracks that show when he is denied. When his speech gets so bad that his voice becomes shrill as he forces his words to get out. I feel like inside this locked cocoon is this child desperate to break free of his shackles but unable to find the key. His wings are clipped.

We have strategies (which fail) and we have plans (which we hope won’t fail). I hope to get him on an intensive stammer course in London this Summer and I am waiting for another CAMHS referral to be refused but will push on regardless and we have other appointments in the pipeline, some NHS, some private.

In the meantime we shall continue to tell him we love him and we shall continue to ground him when he is mean. And until he can break out of his cocoon, I’ll continue trying to make his butterfly house the best it can be so that when he is ready, it is has all the nourishment he needs.

Fragility

Like an icicle melded to a branch, as the heat rises the tell-tale shadow of a hairline crack snakes its way through. It drips.

I drive to work, empty. Even the sound of the radio would be too coarse, too damaging to my heart. It contracts, not just as a means to an end but with pain. He can’t help himself. He is young. He ssss-stammers his anger out, he literally writhes with his emotional angst because no-one can understand his grief. He is incensed that he is questioned, that he has been denied. His small, lithe body squirming as he screams vitriol. My heart hammering, blood pounding in my ears as I try and control the torrent that courses through my veins. I cajole, I threaten, I comfort, I cry. Nothing changes the pattern. It is on repeat. It drips.

Letters and emails, phone-calls and a million conversations. Should have dones, would have dones, a zillion recriminations. Nothing changes.

I stroke his head as he sobs himself to sleep. I place my hands on his head and back, willing energy to pass through. I need to heal him. For him. For me. For everyone. It drips.

I arrive at work. I brace myself for the day ahead. It must have got colder because the icicle has stopped melting. The threatening minuscule divide has ceased to explore further. But I remember, nothing changes.