That phonecall I actually made, and its aftermath…

I went into therapy feeling really really spacey. I had a head floating away into the clouds, a mind that retreated away somewhere safe.

Dr K noticed it straight away and asked what the problem was. I told her I had psyched myself up to call the sexual assault referral place, and she made sure with me that I was ok to do this seeing as we aren’t able to see each other next week (she’s on holiday). I said that the longer I left it, the worse my anxieties would get.

She sat with me whilst I dialled, encouraging me and helping me just by her presence. My fear was there but I pushed on through it and spoke to two separate people about my confusion and worry.

The receptionist and the doctor who talked to me both agreed that I need to talk to my GP about the problems with the pain and bleeding I’m still getting, but the doctor also said that she would get an independent sexual assault advisor to contact me and help me out if I decide to report what happened to me. They were both so kind and respectful, and believed me without question. The doctor also told me to contact them again if I felt upset or needed any more information.

Dr K was so proud of me and all of my fractured jigsaw-piece parts. The younger parts, fourteen and fifteen year old me, were both upset but ok with the fact that I was trying to get help and also that they were believed through me. I floated out of therapy feeling like I’d achieved something but wanting to curl up and sleep.

Tomorrow I travel along the country to teach. I have a train journey to master, two classes to teach, socialising and responsibility for myself in a station I’ve only recently had a panic attack in. I think I can do this. I will just be careful with myself, take a puzzle book, and try to sleep well when I’m there.

I feel scrambled still but I hope that I will feel more with it tomorrow. I am so proud of myself, but I’m tired too.

Thank you for supporting me today.

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Therapy is not for the faint hearted- part two. TW- stuff gets intense.

Last week, I went into therapy with my head packed full of thoughts again, singing, buzzing, my heart pounding and my nerves zinging. I let Dr K know I felt weird the minute I got in- before I’d entered her office, I had been flittery-minded and really cheerful, but during the wait to come in my head had started to play games with me again. Dr K immediately saw that there was something wrong and I let her know that my head was doing that panicky thing, where I can’t focus and the panic forces my heart to thunder in my chest.

She let me know that I was safe, and asked whether I would like to talk about what was wrong.

I explained that the mania, I think, stops me really taking in what happened and that I’m frightened that it isn’t processing properly. I explained that I thought there was more that I wanted to talk about from last week, but also that I was feeling so jittery and on edge that I was having a hard time concentrating.

We spent a little time concentrating on calming me down. Dr K helped me visualise my thoughts, swirling as if in a hurricane, and asked me to immobilise it. I pictured a freezing spell from Harry Potter (I love to read, and Potter novels helped shape who I am. I idolised Hermione Granger!) and trapped my thoughts still, so I could organise them into a timeline. Dr K seemed pleased by my quick thinking, and happy that I had managed to control the raging whirlwind in my mind.

She asked me if I would like to try something new today, once my raging panic and my hideous anxiety were manageable enough for me to concentrate. Dr K had said a while ago that she thought it might be beneficial if we tried EMDR, to try and put the shadowy fiends in my head to rest. I’ve read up on EMDR before, trying to understand what I would be in store for, and have found the idea to be a good thing- who doesn’t want to lay these howling, screaming demons low?

I agreed. We moved our chairs to face each other so that I was dead opposite her. Dr K explained what would happen. She said that she would use her fingers to set a steady pace, moving them side to side so that I could follow them, and let me know that whatever I experienced there with her, I would still be safe, and to just let the images or memories come.

I let her know it was ok, and that I was hoping that my torrent of thoughts would calm down afterwards. I wanted the acute anxiety I was feeling to go, and for the reason behind it to be confronted and laid to rest.

Dr K started to trace her fingers through the air, and I found myself falling back into dissociation, watching the fingers in front of me move through the air with solid repetition. I found myself suddenly seeing flashes of things. A shaft of sunlight across my face, a hollow feeling in my gut, a leaden weight in my arms. A feeling suddenly happened on me- suffocation, my face pushed into a pillow, my lungs straining for air…

And then, boom.

Flashback.

(Here’s where the trigger warning comes in. This happened to me and I had no idea it was wrong, because a sociopath convinced me it was normal.)

I was in my ex’s university halls of residence. It was sunny- his grandparents had helped us move all his stuff in and had left us alone to unpack. I was naked, lying on his unmade bed on a heap of clothes or something. There was a shaft of sunlight falling down onto my face, and I felt leaden. I felt dead. I felt like I was being devoured.

I heard myself narrating what was happening to Dr K, and somehow I was aware of her being there too. I stared at the wall opposite me, seeing things that didn’t make sense. I was trapped between two worlds, helpless to escape but able to explain in a detached way what was happening to me.

The sunlight was really uncomfortable, quite hot. I was leaden. My legs were just immobile. My head was as far out of the room as it could be, detached from what was happening below my waist, detached from the man that was holding my wrists to the bed. I wanted to fly out of the window into the sunlight, fly above my body. I was terrified that someone would knock on the door, but I also really wanted them to. That way, the man would stop and suddenly become my boyfriend again-

His face was a blank nothing. It was a face that was basically devoid of emotion, a face with an agenda. That agenda was not love. That agenda was not pleasure. He had set out to devour me, and that’s what he was doing. I was lying there being eaten alive by something that was supposed to be my boyfriend but had turned into a demon when my clothes had come off.

Suddenly I was on my stomach, kneeling on the floor, my head forced down into the pillow and a hand on the back of my neck. My body suddenly burned. It was on fire. My stomach was cramping and I wanted to scream to stop it all, but my throat felt funny. It didn’t work any more. My tongue was forming words in a dry mouth that would never be spoken. I was gasping for breath, my chest felt like there was a hole in it, and I realised I was without any options.

I started to ask to get out of the room. I was not having sex for the first time with my boyfriend- his body was there but he was not, and he was some sort of soulless shell with defilement as his aim. I was panicking, I didn’t want to be there any more- and Dr K was suddenly talking to me, reassuring me, explaining that I was safe and I was ok, and that all I needed to to was try and think of some way to get out and I would.

I started sobbing: J burst in through the door. He pulled my ex off me, wrapping me in a blanket and scooping me up into his arms. He told my ex that he should never lay hands on me like that again, and I saw in the doorway there my parents and sister. R appeared, looking just as she had done when I was 18, and she had an icicle in her hand. This icicle meant business- it was there to go straight through my ex, to gore him in what passed for a heart.

I let them take me away, persuading R not to stab him, because I wanted to lock the door and leave him in there to starve and die and blow into dust. I was handed the key, and I asked J to melt it into a blob for me, so that I would never have to worry about that bastard getting free again.

Dr K slowly brought me back into the room, helping me remember who I was, what age I was, where I was. I was shaken. I had remembered the first time my ex and I slept together before, but I’d not really made the link between how I felt and my assumption that that’s how sex was. I have said before that I was shocked to discover that sex didn’t hurt, that it was how they said it was supposed to be in film, but now I truly understood why. I had been raped that day.

Dr K and I discussed how horrible it was to have my ex change the way he did in front of me. That face that usually smiled when he saw me had been devoid of any feelings and had become this soulless, evil-looking thing. He didn’t look human. He looked like some sort of nightmare figure, something pretending to be the man I cared about that had suddenly revealed itself to be terrifying- a true monster. No wonder I’ve had nightmares of being devoured by an evil, giant male creature, taking my internal organs for its food and devouring them all into some hollow, cavernous mouth. No wonder I drew the he voice with this giant, sucking maw: that’s what I saw that day in the man who was supposed to love me.

I understand now that he was the evil one. He used my trust and dropped the sociopath’s easygoing, seductive, charming mask and played on my innermost fears. He ate me alive and spat out my bones, wearing the real face inside- the sociopath face, the face that never gets revealed because it literally gives people nightmares. He let the Church tell me I was evil for wanting sex and used that against me in so many ways. He hurt me so badly that day, I’m surprised I didn’t run from the room naked as I was and screaming. I’m pretty sure I bled.

Dr K and I probably have more things to work on using EMDR. It’s not for someone who doesn’t have something they can cling to in order to pull them out of a flashback. I have J and my family and R, and they pulled me out and helped me slam the monster in a room to die. I told him in my memory I wanted him to die. I wanted him to be gone forever and never return.

I think that I’m finding the connections between things that I previously split apart, things that I pushed into separate corners of my mind because it was all too much to deal with. Now I have started to make the connections, I’m seeing things that I wasn’t safe enough to be able to see before.

What I learned from that EMDR session is that my ex probably dropped his mask that day on purpose and let me see the scavenger within, the thing that hungered to split me in two, raid my body for my bones and drink down my life. I saw a real monster in that room. I saw a sociopath unmasked, without pretences or airs and graces, without the lies and the charisma and the front. I saw the truth, and it terrified me. However…

He has not won and I was able to beat him quite easily. I added into the memory of that horrible afternoon something that will always help me remember that I got away, I left him, I am in control now and there are some wonderful people here to help me. I will never forget the gratitude of being rescued. I know logically that they never entered that room, but I see that wonderful rescue party now as if they really did… and, in a sense, they were there. Had they all known that little eighteen-year-old me was being completely torn apart in that room, they would have been there. J has wrapped me in his arms to comfort me- it makes sense that he would wrap me in a blanket. My parents, tough though my relationship with my mother can sometimes be, have never let me down and have always stood up for me. My sister has never left my side and pines for me if I’m away. R will never leave me- she’s essentially another sister.

I am so amazed by the power of the EMDR session we did. It found a dark secret, let it out into the light, and I can now see it without the terror being quite so present. It is, thank the gods, nothing more than a bad memory now.

A bad memory with a shaft of light running through it.

A shaft of light that pulled me out of the void.

It isn’t BPD if there was trauma there too. (TW- certain things described in the link may be triggering)

On Being Invisible in the Mental Health System

This article explains, better than I ever could, about why so many people who endure child sexual abuse (or adult) and then get labelled obstructive, bitter, attention-seeking or violent as a result. I am so pleased it’s not just me that thinks this attitude is wrong. All the other diagnoses this woman received damaged her too, but my theory on the BPD diagnosis being slapped on traumatised people just blames them seems to be supported here.

Please, seek a different diagnosis if there was trauma in your past and you have been labelled with something that doesn’t fit. PTSD is probably what it is- a healable brain injury which was NOT your fault. NO abuse is ever your fault.

Struggling through these dark times but dealing with it better now that I’m resting. So much support through various people commenting and liking my posts, and following me, not to mention all the love I’m receiving from my friends. Keep fighting all, I’m trying my best. I’ll try and post again with what’s been happening as soon as I can.

Progress?

I think I made progress today.
At my mum’s dance school, I had just finished teaching my little ones class and the teens were coming into the studio. The second one in came in, looking rather flustered. She’s a tiny, pretty little thing with long blonde hair and big blue eyes, but a great fiesty attitude I admire. She takes shit from no-one.

“Right, when I was walking down here,” she said, frustrated, “this guy followed me all the way down! He was yelling, ‘oy, come here,’ and I just came and stood in the porch until he went.”

Immediately my brain sprung into action the way it would have done before PTSD.

“What did he look like? What was he wearing?”

“He was in a grey hat, pulled down over his eyes, and a grey tracksuit.”

“Right, thank you,” I said, and I headed speedily for the doors.

On the way, I met some of the other girls. I quickly explained the situation to them and they all said they had seen him too. At that point, I rushed downstairs to let the parents of the small children I’d just taught know there was someone weird hanging around.

When I got there, one of the mums was helping her children into the car. I warned her about the strange man, and she said that she hadn’t seen him.

“You’re brave,” she said, “coming out here alone like that.”

And then it hit me. No fear, no shaking, no dissociation, no flashbacks- just a genuine desire to protect the people I was caring for.

This may not happen quite the same again, or it may- who knows? The great thing to take away from this is that I did NOT freak out, I was calm and I managed the situation.

Tomorrow’s big challenge?

Getting the train alone to my massage course.

Missing you.

Tonight, I’m missing J an awful lot. I was lying in bed this morning and I looked at my room, and wished that there was a comforting and familiar weight lying next to me. I wished that I could roll over and slide an arm along his side, and hear him mutter sleepily, “You ok baby?”

I usually reply that yes, of course I am, but had he been there this morning I would have told him that yes, I am ok with him. I’m always ok with him.

J has been having a tough time recently. He has his own issues and on top of that he is quitting smoking, which is pretty hardcore and I admire him so much for it. Still he is there for me, despite the fact that some nights he is too stressed to chat on Skype. He always sends me little emails of encouragement- funny stuff he’s found on the internet or stuff he knows I will be interested in.

In America, I was lying next to him the night I told him I loved him and I was bursting with the need to tell him, and I wasn’t frightened at all when it spilled over my lips. He has told me every night since that he loves me, and it’s not tinged with that horrible fake feeling I used to feel whenever I said it.

It’s because this time, it’s real.

Interlude- Crawling feelings of shame, scars, intense self-loathing and suddenly a ray of bright hope.

My skin was crawling. I wanted to scrub my skin raw- so I did. I stung a little in the shower, sun burn on my back smarting against the bath sponge. Still the crawling. Was I unwell?

But there was no crawling during the day. The crawling started the minute I lay in bed.

I still sleep in the same room I was in when my ex insisted, as there was nobody in, that we had sex on the floor. I remember feeling completely uncomfortable with it and hating the fact that he picked then and there, on MY floor in MY room in my PARENTS’ house. And now, as I lay there, I realised- the crawling was body memories.

Now there is no more crawling, but I’ve had a very heavy period that’s sucked the energy out of me. I realised that I was suffering because I once had sex in a room that was meant to be my sanctuary- well, not for him. He ruined it.

But I am taking it back.

Soon, there will be a new bed. Soft and wide and inviting. There will be new cupboards, wardrobes, new storage spaces. Places for me to put my shoes so I see them properly. I’m finally having my room redone, and I will soon feel totally at home in my new, calm place, just for me.

I was looking in a mirror last week. Standing there, hurting so badly it made me want to cry. Instead of the usual muscular slim girl I see, I saw a fat scarred freak in a bikini she didn’t suit. The red scars on my legs gleamed, mocking me. My body, in the dim lights of the chop changing room, looked huge. I placed my hands over my eyes and I tried to ignore the dark passenger. That day, I had to take an extra dose of promazine to shut them up.

The upside?

I tried on the bikini at home and loved it. There was that muscular shape I’ve always known, and the bikini looked lovely. I was pleased that I had bought it and hadn’t freaked out. I vowed to myself to never call myself fat again, when I’m not. Most people call my skinny, if anything. I rarely get comments on my lack-of-weight now. I used to be teased about my stick-thin legs, frizzy hair and glasses. Now, I’m proud of the body I’ve honed through hard work.

I talked to Dr K today about all of this. She was concerned that the shame of the rape is still affecting me this way, and that I still suffer body memories. She was also saddened about my hatred of my scars. She has been polite and professional about them, and also very reassuring. I am not scarred badly- my skin heals lightning fast – but I can still see those telltale white lines that point out my fading addiction. I talked to her today about the nature of my self-harm: repress all emotion, it is all too overwhelming. Feed the dark passenger. Kill yourself.

Right now, I’m ecstatic because I am FINALLY going back to America to be with J, for nearly a month! I decided to book the flights and not give a damn what anyone else thought. I have the issues I’ve just written about, it’s true, but I am ok. I am getting through this. I have J to see and look forward to. I am going to see him for the first time since February! I can’t wait to hold him close again. He has to know I love him, and one day I will manage to say it properly. Not a scared little whisper, but I want to look into his eyes to tell him. He deserves that.

The voices? Right now, the dark passenger is drugged up, sedated. I am too, I’m very tired. I am staying in a different room in the house whilst I’m having my room done and I can’t wait to feel safe again.

 

admitted part six.

Hi everyone- I’m sorry if I’ve frightened anyone with my silence, but sod’s law, my phone broke and I am making do with my mum’s very irritating and unreliable phone. It barely connects to the internet but, you know, it’s better than nothing.

Currently I’m at home for overnight leave. I love how quiet it is here. I forget how noisy the ward is and how hard it is to sleep sometimes. I am lucky that the promazine has helped me sleep, and that it’s taking effect now as I write.

I tried to post this earlier today but the phone didn’t save it, grr… At least now everyone isn’t panicking!

I had a flashback this afternoon at the ward whilst eating lunch. I couldn’t finish what I was eating, but getting in the shower for a healthy scrub (not one of those that peels your skin off) really sorted my mood out.

I have been chronicling what has happened to me in my journal, so when I come home I will write it up so everyone can see what’s been going on. Right now, I’m chasing my American… Come on J, pick up!

It feels nice to have some more normal worries for a change.

Thank you to everyone who has commented. I miss you all and I promise I will respond when I have the time.