Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Meaning

*** This post contains triggers***

For some reason, at the moment, I crave meaning to some of the events of my life.  I need to believe there is something not that makes things worthwhile but at least provides them with a meaning.  When I don't find a meaning my head strives to create one and that one tends to be a load of fucked up nonsense.

This month they fucked up my pay and left me short a four figured number.  This is a substantial amount of money for them to fuck up and it has caused me stress.  I have phoned them on maybe a dozen occasions and they have promised to sort it out in 24 hours, have the money in by close of day Monday and close of day Tuesday.  None of this has happened.  Now they say it will be in my account by close of business today.  I don't believe them.  This on it's own is not the end of the world but it is the 27th set of pay in the last 36 months that has been wrong and trying to sort the previous mess out has taken me eight months.

To a normal person the response would be something along the lines of, 'aren't the pay people at my work fucking useless.'  But that doesn't work for me.  That has no meaning.  My mind immediately goes to the point where I believe pay section are persecuting me because they want me to kill myself so they don't have to pay me at all anymore.  Now I'm aware that written down this looks like irrational paranoid bullshit but at least it has meaning.  Things are not happening randomly but because of a specific malign reason.

For some reason that I'm genuinely unsure about this incident has been on my mind the last couple of weeks.  When I say on my mind I don't mean that I occasionally think about it, I mean that my mind keeps revisiting it over and over from all the angles I can find.  I replay it constantly in my head.  Over and over again.  My mind cannot escape from it.  I think this is because I crave a meaning for what happened.  This doesn't mean that I think I'll find some consolation or some resolution for it, how can there be?  But an event as big as this has to mean something.

Maybe it isn't me it means something for.  Maybe it has meaning for one of the boys involved.  Maybe it's only meaning is the provision of masturbatory fantasy for them.  I don't want that to be the case.  Maybe it has caused one of them guilt and made them look at their life.  That would be a good meaning.  But I'll never know and speculation is useless.

At the moment all that massive event means to me is that I was utterly usable and disposable.  That is probably the reality and the true meaning but it seems so little for such a momentous event.  And it also results in my vulnerability, which I hate and which I wish I could deny, being the only meaning.  That is too painful to process.

Is searching for meaning pointless?  Is it just another means of beating myself up, torturing myself because of a reality I just can't handle?  Are some events just truly meaningless?  Is looking for meaning sidetracking me along an unhelpful road?  Would any meaning be enough?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Two Sessions Later - Advice needed

Last week I started telephone CBT.  He seemed alright.  Had a west country accent so D has named him mutton chops which is as good a name for him as any.  I was very nervous but the whole thing was very introductory.  I told him a bit about myself and he told me about CBT, pretty much what I knew anyway but then I'm a mentalist geek.  I told him I didn't want to discuss the PTSD side of things as that was covered by the serial killer and he seemed to think that was fair enough.  I also said that because I have paradoxical anxiety things like mindfulness, relaxation exercises etc make me more anxious rather than less.

Last night we had our second session and I feel like I've been left reeling.  I spent most of the night in tears and as a result phoned in sick to work today which is very counterproductive.

He started of asking me what I thought was good about me.  I mentioned a few things and he seemed to agree then it all started going downhill.  First of all he argued with me for about twenty minutes that I should change my job.  I kept telling him all the reasons why that wasn't an option but he kept going on at me.  Eventually I said that changing my job wasn't going to happen and this discussion was somewhat pointless.

Then he asked me what resources I had that I could use to go to work more easily.  I said that I had reached the point where I had run out of resources and that was why I had been put in contact with him.  He then said that I did have the resources and that I needed to 'get a grip.'  That infuriated me but I felt that I couldn't say that to him because of the whole middle class niceness thing that I sometimes get.  I honestly thought that telling mental people to get a grip was a cliche of what stupid thoughtless people do and I was genuinely appalled to hear that phrase coming from a supposed trained professional.

He then asked what the problem at work was and I mentioned that I had asked for help over the last few months from management and it hadn't been forthcoming which was one of the reasons I felt so anxious.  He told me I should keep asking.  I said that when you banged your head against a brick wall over and over and it was still brick then there was no point in doing it anymore.  He said that the next time it might not be brick.  Personally I thought the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again with the same result but apparently that's a good thing.

He then said that the length of time I'd been in therapy with the serial killer was 'nonsense' and he'd never heard of anyone being in therapy that long for PTSD and that he favoured a quick fix solution to stop me being a 'victim.'  I said that I didn't feel like a victim and I favoured what worked rather than what was fashionable.  He said that I was clearly trapped with a victim mentality and until I 'got a grip' (that phrase again) things wouldn't get better.  I had to stop thinking negatively and start moving on.  He asked me what moving on would feel like and I said that it would be working regularly and not having the past impinging on my life.  He asked how it impinged and I mentioned flashbacks and nightmares.  He said I should think positive thoughts about them and they'd go away.

By this time I was very upset.  I felt like he'd broken the boundaries about what was and wasn't up for discussion but I didn't know him well enough to challenge him.  I felt that he had clearly put me in the role of victim and then had lambasted me for a long time about how wrong it was to be in that role and if I just thought more positively I wouldn't be a victim anymore and everything would be magically alright.  However he didn't offer any concrete or positive methods or strategies on how to do this.  He just said 'you clearly manage it sometimes so you should be able to do it now.'  By this time it felt that he thought I was to be blamed for the current circumstances and if I just thought happy thoughts everything would magically be better.  So the battle I have fought all my life not to blame myself for everything has been forcefully been put back in my court (to mix a metaphor) and I found this incredibly distressing.

He then told me that I should try mindfulness.  I just said 'uh huh' because by this point the session had run on for almost an hour and a half and I felt completely emotionally battered and had nothing left to argue with him.

I agreed to an appointment next week but now I don't know.  I know I was extremely distressed by what he said and in fact I'm crying now thinking about it.  I don't know if it's him or CBT at fault.  It's the same issue I had with CBT 10 years ago and the reason I have avoided it up til now.  But I also feel that he was incredibly crass in what he said.  I texted D who has had CBT in the past for anxiety and has found it very useful.  She was of the opinion that it was him who was behaving inappropriately, that what had happened bore no resemblance to the CBT she had had, and that I should contact the Employee Assistance Programme and raise my concerns with them.  But I don't know where that leaves me.  I need some kind of help to get back to work but this has left me feeling worse about myself then I have in a long time and has dug up all sorts of old ghosts that I fundamentally don't have the energy to fight again.

So what should I do?  Should I offer him one more chance next week and see how it goes?  Should I just not answer the phone when he calls again?  Should I raise my concerns about his walking all over my clearly stated boundaries, blaming me, pissing all over my therapy with the serial killer with him? Should I phone the EAP and raise my concerns?  Or should I just give up on CBT as the load of old bollocks I tend to think it is and try, magically, to get the resources myself to sort out my problems going to work?  All I know is that going backwards, which is where I feel I am at the moment, is not an option.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Entering the Big Bad World of CBT

As I may have mentioned in a somewhat roundabout way, I'm having big problems at work at the moment.  I think they're on the way to a solution but months of building stress and anxiety have made a massive dent in my confidence, ability to cope and basically my ability to make it into work at all.

This has major implications.  Now when I go off sick I don't get paid.  Clearly this is a problem as it would be for anyone but even that just adds to the anxiety that prevents me going to work as opposed to acting as a push to turn up.

My levels of sickness are horribly high.  This is an issue for management and they are clearly going to run out of patience relatively soon.  This has been signalled to me quite clearly.  And as of the beginning of March I move on to a new attendance policy that will restrict quite considerably my ability to be unwell and not go into work.

All of this is piling on top of me and adding to the original issues which were causing me to struggle in the first place.  The specific issues are on their way to be solved but it seems that senior management can't seem to understand that there will be a delay between solution and sanity.  That I have to rebuild my confidence, reduce my anxiety levels and return to my usual levels of madness as opposed to the high frequency awfulness of the last six months.

I have asked for support from my cpn but she has not exactly been overwhelming in her response.  The serial killer clearly believes that the therapy I receive from her should be related to my PTSD not my GAD and doesn't want to help.  All the workarounds and strategies I have built up over the years to cope with work have been overwhelmed like a sea wall in Cornwall at the moment and I feel trapped.  I am meant to be on a night shift tonight and since 4am when I woke up stressing about it I've had to take 3 diazepam just to stay calm enough to exist.  It seems unlikely I'll be going in

On Thursday I phoned my work's Employee Assistance Programme as I had run out of places to go.  I phoned them because I had almost 50 100mg tramadol tablets that were lingering in my brain as the best way forward.  (They are currently residing in D's house so I don't have access to them).  The person on the other end of the phone was very helpful and we discussed the random anxiety - that I'll be ill, that I'll feel trapped, that I'll cry, that I'll have a panic attack, that I'll humiliate myself in front of my colleagues, my bosses and the general public, that I won't even be able to leave the house let alone get into work.

He suggested that I try CBT.  I've always been somewhat resistant to CBT.  I did attempt it about a decade ago in relation to my PTSD and found it awful.  The message seemed to be that all the bad things that had happened were just in my head and if I thought about them differently everything would be ok.  I found this patronising, unhelpful and that it diminished what I had experienced.  It made the genuine feelings I had in relation to being beaten and raped multiple times all about me thinking about things in the wrong way.  This infuriated me.

But now I have to try something.  I have to find a way of being able to attend regularly at work.  I clearly cannot build up structures and coping mechanisms myself any more.  I no longer have the energy to fight the anxiety monster on a daily basis.  I'm heading for giving up and losing my job which I can't do as I have no plan B.

Miraculously, when compared with the NHS, the EAP managed to organise some telephone CBT starting on Monday evening.  I think I only get six sessions but hopefully that will be enough to build up some ability to fight again.  I need this to work so I have to swallow my misgivings and give it my all.  I think this is the last resource I can access.  This scares me.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

I am such a bitch

I decided I was going to avoid Hogmanay this year.  Too stressed, too exhausted with trying to exist, everything just too much.  I went to bed early and took a sleeping pill so unusually I was asleep by 11.  At five past midnight the landline rang.  I ignored it.  A few minutes later my mobile rang.  It was in my bedroom so I decided to answer it.  It was my little sister.  She was a wee bit excited.  Her partner had asked her to marry him at the bells.

I made all the happy encouraging noises to both of them and to my other sister and brother in law who were also there.  I then went back to bed and cried my eyes out.  This is where being a bitch started.  Although part of me wants her to be happy, part of me is gutted that she is all settled down, going to get married and have babies.  I am going to end up a mad, lonely old cat woman (although my friend D helpfully pointed out I will need to buy a cat first.)  I am a spinster.  How I hate that word, how I wish it could jump off the page and strangle me.

I know I'm being inconsistent because I've said many times that I can't handle intimacy, that I want to be alone.  I've had my chance at being a mother but my children are dead.  But part of me still wants to be with someone.  Not because I want to be with someone but because I dread a lifetime of aloneness.  I'm now 37 and the chances of me ever being happy with someone are slim and the chances of me every having children are close to nil.

And now my family are increasingly pissing me off.  My wee sister is fine - she's just chuntering away thinking about how to organise her wedding.  I spoke to my older sister this afternoon.  She managed to tell me a) my problems at work are stupid and I should give up on it; b) can't I hear my biological clock ticking and c) if I didn't start looking for a partner she would set up a profile for me on an online dating website.  Yay thanks.  So I'm a failure at work, I'm never going to have children and I can't be trusted to choose someone for myself.  And the between the lines statement that I can only be happy if I lead a life like she leads, that I should be having it all.  I don't think she realised how distressing this is for me.  I know she doesn't know that this is pressing all my buttons.  It just saddens me to see that she cannot perceive me as being fulfilled in the life I have at the moment.  No, I'm not fulfilled but that is not because of my life, it's because of my madness and that madness will still be there even if I'm married with half a dozen kids.

Then I phoned my mother.  I know it was a bit self destructive but if I phoned her today it meant I don't have to worry about her phoning me at a point when I can't cope with speaking to her.  She told me my little sister and her fiancĂ© are coming down for dinner.  She already had the tripod out so she could take engagement photos, something my sister will be immensely pissed off about.  I thought about texting to warn her but decided not to - bitch again.  Then she started telling me how she imagined my little sister's wedding and who would be coming and where it would be.  I know her plans are directly opposed to those of my sister and her fiancĂ©, whose decision it actually will be, and I know they will piss my sister off enormously.  Then she told me this long story about a member of my family who hadn't married til she was 45 and how happy they had been as a couple.  Subtle mother.  She compounded this by asking if there was anyone special in my life.  I thought about saying the serial killer but decided just to grunt instead.  Then she told me how much she wished I was settled down with kids.  I found a wall and smashed my head off it with vigour.

I am consumed with different wants.  Part of me would adore being settled with a child.  Part of me would love to be loved.  The other part of me would rather run a million miles from the idea.  I don't want to have to touch and be touched by someone.  I want to be alone.  I have nothing to offer someone.  All I am is madness held together by loosening old brown sellotape.  Although my family don't know it they are pressing the buttons that destroy me.  The guilt and grief that surrounds the loss of my children, the fear of a future alone, the fear of having to let anyone in.  And most of all the fear that with my little sister married there is only me for my father to bother.

It has left me seriously contemplating lorry jumping.  I have spent most of today crying and cutting, neither of which achieve anything.  I would phone the crisis team but they'll only tell me that I need to calm down.  And I feel so much guilt that I feel so bad because my sister is happy.  Bitch

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Randomness of 2013

Well I did this last year so I might as well do it today as I'm not at work and my cleaner has cancelled (Oh no, I'll have to make my own bed).

Days of sick: 69 - better than last year but not good enough.

Days of sick because of problems at work that I'm trying to get converted to not being off sick: 44 - not a happy situation but I have a meeting with senior management next week to try and sort it out.

Amount of trips through Eurotunnel: 118 - fewer than last year but I still hate every second of it and would travel by ferry if ferries were not the worst thing on God's earth (or sea).

Number of trips to hospital: One about the constant vomming which they've put down to anxiety and two to the emergency dentist, more anon.  One due to the development of allergy to penicillin.

Number of appointments with the psychiatrist: 0.  They got rid of the nice guy and replaced him with a twat, I therefore see no reason to talk to him.

Number of sessions with the Serial Killer: 36.  For some reason this year there have been lots of cancellations.  Accidents on the road to hers, my drivers window getting stuck down so I couldn't leave the car in the car park, antibiotic related stomach badness, tooth problems etc.  Been seeing her 5 years now.  I should be sane.

Number of sessions with the CPN: 16.  I find her difficult as she constantly cancels sessions, changes their times and when I text her asking for an appointment she usually takes about a fortnight to get back to me.  When I'm there she seems so spend a lot of time bitching about her work, boyfriend, life and a lot less being useful which frustrates me.

Number of appointments with GP: 14.  They won't do madness pills on repeat so  have to keep bothering them.

Number of appointments with dentist: 10, including two with the emergency dentist.  Eight months with toothache bad enough to require morphine.  One rotten tooth needing removed.  Waiting list for getting it done under sedation due to the madness, unknown but I've been waiting since August.  Number of courses of antibiotics - 7.  Allergy to penicillin developed.  I cannot explain how stressful, painful and unbearable this has been.

Number of trips to Scotland: 3 and the family came down once.  Went better than expected but still remarkably difficult.

Number of books read: 348 which seems a lot but is fewer than last year.  Probably because I've had fewer trips on Eurotunnel and I've tried to read the complete works of Anthony Trollope and they are loooooong.

Favourite books of 2013: Murder must Advertise by Dorothy L Sayers, Bad Science by Ben Goldacre, The Noteable Brain of Maximillian Ponder by JW Ironmonger, Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, May we be Forgiven by AM Homes, A Time for Machetes by Jean Hatzfield, Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, Bedlam by Christopher Brookmyre and Why be Happy When You Could be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson.

Number of Orders from Amazon: 83.  I'm cutting down my addiction but then a package did arrive today.

Best thing of 2013: I'm going to sound incredibly middle class but getting a cleaner.  My house has turned from literally a rat infested shithole to a nice house where I can happily invite people (not that I want to).  I just don't feel so oppressed when I walk in the door now.  The other good thing was the discovery that I find meccano incredibly relaxing so I spend hours making random things.  Yesterday I made a radar.

Worst thing of 2013: A joint tie between the problems at work that hopefully should be resolved soon otherwise I might have to spend 2014 under the bed and the toothache from hell.  Tenth of January should sort this out although it won't be under sedation because I still don't have an appointment for that.  The dentist will have to cope with the panic attacks and flashbacks.

So there you go.  Shite year really.  Scared that next year will be worse.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Noises

***Trigger warning***

Yesterday at the serial killers we (or rather I) was talking about noises.  Not nice pleasant noises like birds twittering or the sound of someone else doing your hoovering, but the sort of noises that haunt me every single day.

We were lying in bed.   The three of us sharing a bedroom.  My mother comes in, the door slamming against the wall signalling that she is angry for some unknown, irrational reason and that one or more of us is going to get beaten.  I lie there thinking.  Part of me is praying, 'Please God don't let it be me.' The other part praying the opposite.

Being beaten badly is terrifying.  You curl up in a ball, trying to make yourself as small a target as possible and then you just endure.  I've written before that part of that endurance was a kind of glee, the built up anxiety about when the explosion would happen has gone and you are now part of that explosion.  It is a totality, nothing exists outside of it and you can retreat into your head and hide in the place that music sings and inventive internal chaos blocks out the real external chaos.  It is awful but it is complete and it is also compulsive.  You don't want it to happen ever but when it does it is such an enormous event that every part of you sings.  You are barely aware of the pain after a while, or the terror.  Your mind takes you away from it and allows you to escape.  In the worst of times you can be in the best of places.  The paradox of awfulness.

But what if you're not chosen?  Then you have to deal with the noises.  You have to lie in bed absolutely still with your eyes closed to prevent being noticed.  Then your major sense is hearing.  I know the noises my sisters made when they were beaten, intimately in a way you can only know the noise of something that is terrible and dreadful.  My older sister with her gasping sobs.  The wee one with her grunts reminiscent of an animal being tortured.  I don't know what I sounded like, I want to believe I was silent, I know I didn't cry but I don't want to think I gave my mother the satisfaction of hearing what she did to me.  I don't want to think that my sisters were tortured by the same noises that I am.

Every muscle in your body is tense.  Your mind races.  The noises are beyond unbearable.  They are like the drip drip of water torture to your soul.  You desperately want them to stop.  My desperation never led me to want my mother to stop the beatings.  That was too inconceivable an option.  Instead I got angry with my sisters.  In my head I would scream at them to shut up, to stop torturing me with their noises.  But mostly I wished they would be killed.  Because then the noises would stop.

I was a child with an age in single figures and I wished with an absolute desperation that my sisters would be murdered.  That is so fucked up.  That thought leaves me with such enormous guilt that I cannot bear it.  The combination of that guilt and the eternal repetition of their noises in my nightmares and flashbacks leaves me feeling utterly weak and destroyed.  After talking about it with the serial killer I wanted to wrap myself in a blanket so warm and fluffy it couldn't exist.  I couldn't do that.  It wouldn't work anyway because I'd still hear those noises echoing through thirty years of the sad.

(And I still have bloody toothache.)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Battling and failing

I have a job.  I have has it almost thirteen years.  I am relatively good at it, not to the level of Olympic gold for working, but I can hold my own.  I am currently finding it impossible.

The whole thing fills me with incredible anxiety.  I'm not talking about the 'oh I'm a wee bit nervous' type anxiety, I'm talking about the type of anxiety which makes me want to scream with terror every time I think about work.

I am trying to work.  I try to go in.  I get there sometimes.  I spend twelve hours trying to swallow the panic and I get home.  While I am there every single atom in my body screams about escape.  I sit there doing my job while my stomach churns with fear, I hide in the loo and try not to cry, I desperately try not to shake.  I plaster the smile on, chat to my colleagues and the people I deal with and pretend to be normal.

I am not normal.  I am a pathetic failure who can't manage the battle to get to work more days then I can.  Every day I get up and intend to go to work.   I cannot explain the terror that engulfs me.  I sit in my house before I go in and concentrate on breathing.  Sometimes even breathing becomes impossible.  So I fail.

My veneer has almost gone.  That bit of myself that shows itself to other people and creates the pretence that I have even a vague connection to normal.  The chatty, silly, friendly pretence that people recognise as me.  It is paper thin at best and most of the time the paper has worn away to nothing.  How can you explain to a boss or a colleague that you can't cope because the real you is leaking out and it is going to cause you to be despised, destroyed and hated?  How can you explain to people that everything about you is a lie you use to pretend you are a real human being not a despicable, discardable evil that needs to be destroyed?

When I make it in it takes every single ounce of energy I have to appear normal for such an extended period of time.  There is no hiding place, nowhere I can shed the skin of pretence and rock back and forth with the engulfing awfulness.  They know I have an anxiety disorder, they know I have panic attacks, they don't know that I am exhausting myself stopping myself from self destruction.  The anxiety hides the self hate, the constant feeling of doom.  Even my anxiety is a way of lying about who I am.

Every time I phone in sick I fail myself.  I fail my colleagues.  I fail my boss.  I fail at being a human being.  Every time I make that call I crawl deeper into the reality of the evil that is me.  Every time it becomes harder to re-emerge.  I don't know how to win what feels like an epic battle with myself.  I am constantly failing and each failure at a battle makes the overall war seem a destructive hugeness taking me over.

Notgod has not constantly taken over my head.  I don't even bother mentioning him to the cpn or the serial killer.  I have lost that battle.  He will never go away.  He screams at me constantly telling me to jump, to swallow the pills, to set light to the petrol, to self destroy destroy destroy.  How do other people fight their Notgods?  Should I fight or should I just give in.  Should I curl up in a corner, my hands over my ears and stop the unnecessary battle of work and concentrate on the battle to breathe?

I don't want to give up.  I know all the arguments - work gives me structure, company, self esteem, something outwith myself to concentrate on.  I know all this to be true but the battle just feels so hard.  I feel an exhaustion that stretches to eternity when I even think about it.  I don't want to give up but everything about me does.

And the toothache is still fucking rancid.