Last year, this year.

Last year, I had no energy to send any proper presents to anyone. I was four months away from the break with reality that hospitalised me. I was exhausted and upset and scrambling over voices and hallucinations.

This year, I was heading into town to see my friend and I saw my ex.

There he was, standing under the notice boards. He wasn’t a hallucination. He was real.

I ran. I fled. My heart hammering, my eyes wide, head turning to check he hadn’t followed me. I just fled blindly and didn’t stop until I found a shop where we used to go, but I’d drag him in because he hated it. I knew he wouldn’t come there to try and track me.

Next, I phoned two friends. One picked up, R, and I knew I was safe the minute I heard her voice. I cried, she asked me if I was safe. I said I was. The next question was had he seen me? I didn’t think so, although I couldn’t be sure. R thought he hadn’t seen me as he hadn’t tried to talk to me or follow me. Next, she asked me had I told the friend I was meeting what had happened? I told her I hadn’t, so she told me to tell her, then ring back when I had done.

Luckily my friend was very understanding and said that I should wait where I was.
I rang R back and she talked calmingly to me until my friend arrived.

Now comes the part I’m most proud of.

I got on with my fucking day. I had a great time. I enjoyed it! I managed to laugh and joke and shake off the sheer terror that had been the start of my day. Admittedly my hypervigilance and terror resurfaced when I had to return to the station to buy a ticket, but I was managing it well by keeping my stone clutched in my hand, and by leaving it another half hour to return to catch my train.

The worst part by far of stumbling across my ex like that was the feeling that I had to go and beg for forgiveness, that I had to get down on my knees and plead for him back. I thought that part of me had died. I thought that I’d killed it long ago, with realisations of the horrors he’d put me through. Apparently, it’s much tougher to kill than I’d thought.

When I told R what I’d found the most horrible, she responded with the fact that it had taken my ex a long time to get me that way, so sadly it will take me a long time to get rid of that part. She’s right. I will get there, but it’s a scary process that involves thinking you are better than you are, learning you are better than you were last year, and understanding that therapy is working and I am getting better.

H said on the phone to me today (yes, she’s doing a bit better! <3) that I did the sensible thing by running away. I took myself out of a bad situation and focused on caring for myself and sorting out my emotional needs.

That is a fantastic start to the new year.

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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.

Slam the door.

I was in the shower yesterday when I got a set of three unwanted callers- that’s right folks, the dark passenger was back and smarting with it’s earlier defeat at the hands of J. The voices proceeded to let me know what a whore I was, how awful I was, what a stupid bitch I was for believing that J truly cared for me- the list went on. I argued back a lot, telling them where to get off, but they kept wanting me to pick up a razor, get hold of the blades and make a mess of myself.
Eventually, when I was feeling awful, I snapped. I got angry.

I squared up to them and told them the following- “We’re not having this conversation. I’m going to be happy and I don’t give a damn what you think.”

After that I slammed a door on them, hard, in my head, and I let them just bash against the door in my head.

The image of that door is very important to me. It is blocking them from talking to me- but more than that, it means that I am still very capable of fighting them alone.

ALONE. Without shrinks or medicine.

It proves to me that there is a power in me I am starting to learn to control, and I will one day beat them forever.

Success, persistence, and a huge thank you to you all.

Guess who woke up with her boxing gloves on today?

I decided to ring the psychiatrist back and explain how sad and angry I was. Luckily, I got through on the second ring to the consultant’s secretary.

“Hi, I’m just ringing because I’ve recently been to an appointment here and I’ve been thinking about it a lot…”

The secretary was lovely. She listened carefully to my concerns about my diagnosis, the time between appointments, and my desire to get an appointment with the psychologist. She was polite and understanding, and immediately took my number so she could talk to the consultant and then ring me back. She asked me if I had been referred to secondary care psychology, and I said that I had. She assured me she would get back to me as soon as she could.

That in itself was pretty good, so I gave myself a tick for being assertive and arguing my corner. I had a nice rest of my day: my dog is really sick now but he is so up for cuddles still, and I managed to get him to eat something today. I talked through the whole situation with my mum, who is of the firm opinion that I just need talk therapy, and she always has been.

I went out with my mum and sister to the dance school my mum owns, and Ive had a great time teaching the children here. They’re bright and hopeful and innocent, and it makes me so happy to teach such uncomplicated souls. I feel protective over them, and as a result I only ever raise my voice to them if they need it. I am determined that in their dancing lives they should feel capable and not knocked down. I want these children to have good self esteem and good self confidence, something which the voices have tried to drive out of me.

I was in the middle of explaining a point of technique when my phone went off. I ran to check what the number was, and was surprised to find that it was listed as private. Hope welled in me- perhaps this was the psychiatrist! I asked my mum to quickly take over for me, and she did so as I left the room to answer the phone.

It was the lovely secretary again. She had talked to the consultant and he had agreed to take over my care. He agreed that it was too long in between appointments to leave me, and I would be sent a letter detailing when I would be seen. Also, she had asked about the progress of the psychology and it turned out that my letter had been dictated today, to be sent on Monday. I should hear back from them within two weeks.

Apparently, if you ask politely but firmly, and insist you need something different, people are inclined to listen.

I am so proud of myself for doing this, and so grateful to all of you here, my parents and sister, and of course J, for all your support, advice, sympathy, encouragement and help. You are truly a crisis team all by yourselves, and I want each one of you who reads my blog to feel proud of yourselves too. Without your backing, I would be so much less than I am today.

The voices are pathetic at the minute. I think they are scared of all of us.

They’d better be.

Go die in a hole, dark passenger.

Is this going to last? I bloody hope so.

I had a morning of the dark passenger’s spiteful voices whispering filth into my ear. I was getting angry, and what pushed me over the edge was the minute my mum left me alone in the house-
“Right, now stop fucking ignoring us and go and cut.”

I flipped. I started yelling at them. I swore so much a sailor would have blushed. I threw their own filth at them and made sure that I gave as good as I got. I told them they were a bunch of goddamned fucking liars who deserved to be eradicated from existence, and I was better than them. I told them they had no fucking right to tell me to die.

I also told them that they should be scared of me, because I have the power to silence them forever.

They had been arguing back pretty strongly but at that they were deadly silent. I knew I had hit a nerve, so I started being as cruel to them as they are to me. They faded and shut up after that, and then my mum came home to pick me up and take me out.

I am ecstatic. This is the first time I have ever been able to shut them up by myself. I am under no illusions as to being able to repeat this every time they attack me, but I know now it can be done.

Fuck you, dark passenger.