Sunday, 18 September 2016

I did my time.

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh here we are.

I don't know what to say sometimes- I often don't know what I'm even thinking. There's just a mill in my head with a thread caught in it, spinning around and around. Writing used to be my way of dipping my hand in, trying to catch an end, trying not to lose my fingers. Now I think writing might just be my way of observing. Watching the thread wind around and around.

University was a mistake? I guess is the thought I want to unravel. I came to university hoping that it would finally change my life, as nothing so far had. And it did! I experienced trauma that will maybe be with me for my whole life. I saw a worse side of people, and the worst thing about it was also seeing how well it hides in plain sight, and how people can convince themselves that it doesn't exist at all. I went to art school hoping to be understood, and to push myself. Instead I was pushed backwards into a trench I'm only just beginning to struggle out of. Instead I learnt what it was to be truly, truly misunderstood by the people around you. University is insane. So many things here are "OK" that are really, really not OK.

Time at home sort of confirmed this for me at last. A working day in the office feels good. Left to my own devices I eat well, exercise regularly, work hard, feel a little fire start in me when I get into a project. I love to learn. I seek things out. I don't panic- that's the main thing. I was at home for only a couple of months but it's the longest I've been home- out of that university environment- since I first moved out. Now I moved back on the first of this month, and... if I'd been left to my own devices I'm sure some goodness would have continued. I set myself up at a new desk, I decorated my room, I slept for long enough and not longer, I did my physio in the morning and at night. And then uni started.

Uni is... other people's lives. I love other people's lives, but when I get too involved, other people's thoughts bleed into my head and keep me awake at night, trying to feel other people's fear, joy, pain, peace. Uni is daily updates on everyday dramas which stick to me for too long. Uni is... no sense of scale. Everything weighs something. And in the meantime, you are trying to perform- for every act of creation, drawing, art, thought, becomes a sort of performance for good grades and affirmation that you are not wasting your time, that you are the right sort of person to get the right sort of job after uni. A performance to prove your worth. Everything is.

I've never been the right sort of person. I'm aware of that now! I'm not built to succeed in art school, or art school isn't built for me to succeed. It feels wrong to feel that way, but nobody's really ever given me enough reason to convince myself otherwise. I panic, and the panic keeps me from sleeping, and the panic turns into psychosis. There's no allowance for when flashbacks or hearing disembodied voices knock me down like a wave. There's no time to explain that presentations require my careful, rude, constructed distance, because when I talk I feel like there are a host of hundreds of people watching my words as they form. How do I explain any of that. By industry standards I'm being too strange and rude and arrogant when really I'm just protecting myself. Essentially, I'm not worthwhile. Whatever promise there may have been in my work drains out of the hole in my head where common sense escapes. No matter how hard I try to fill it back up, I have never found a way to stopper that hole. The only option I ever had was to fill it in with the cement of antipsychotic drugs, which make me stable, but useless. Stable, but asleep in every way. Stable, but so... unable to live my life in any way.

So uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. How do you make it work. How do you accept- at this stage!- that this is how things are? I revel in small moments. This week I remembered how I like my hot chocolate. I bought a packet of mini marshmallows so that any time I want to, I can recreate this little moment when a friend made me hot chocolate in an oversized mug, late, late at night. I revel in small comforts. This week I made plans with somebody who wanted to see me, knowing that we delight a little in each other's company, that there is such a warm distance between us. This week I tried to feel like I was in one place, instead of pinging from one mistake to the next with my head buried in my arms. Listened to the voices beyond my door. Hung my wet clothes over the radiator. Lay on the floor. Didn't think about much. Just let the mill in my head spin slowly. I'm sick, which helps. I have a cold, which makes things so much slower.


Can't remember how much I ever wrote about self harm before.

But in a way- self harm was important to me for many reasons, and I think the most important one for me was to prove that time can pass, and the body is always working to heal itself. I burnt my hand a little badly before I left home, and the marks are shiny and pink-silver still, the skin seeming forever altered, but really still just healing. I've got a cold and my body is fighting it off whether I want it to or not. I take painkillers and they fill the doors in my head where pain gets through. I sleep and my cells regenerate. I haven't self-harmed in a couple of years, and the scars are thin and white. The evidence of my healing persists, just like the soft, thin skin of my wrists, just like the small knots of scar tissue along my jaw, just like the tissue I break up in my heels when I do my physio. Time is passing. Like my skin, I am always slowly growing back, whether I choose to or not. I will look different when it's done. But I will still be whole.


I want that-

I want to be myself again.

University is such a mindfuck. I feel like there are people in my head constantly, reporting on what I'm doing wrong, what I'm not doing at all. It feels strange to interrupt a week in which- I've seen things that will haunt me, heard things that terrify me in a specific way for the first time, felt frozen with fear, scrambled to react fast enough to keep everyone involved as safe as possible- just to present work at a crit that gets soundly torn down. I expect myself to care but really I just react- upset, but unsurprised at my own failing. I'll fix it. But also, kind of, why. Is this work I care about. Is this work I did for myself, or is it work I pulled together hoping it'll be good enough but knowing it can't be. Does it make sense at all to be doing this?



I keep thinking about dropping out. I think it'd be better for me. I think it'd make myself love myself again. I think I'd finally care about myself and what I'm doing again.

But that's not how it works. I'm not ready to do things for myself yet, I keep realising. I don't want to do anything that will make my parents disappointed in me, think that I'm not grateful for everything they've done, they do, they give up for me. The same reason why I tell myself I can't transition, can't live authentically. I know how much they care and need this for me. The expectation for what I should be, how I should experience my life... overwhelms reality. Overwhelms my gut instincts, the actual experience of things. The projection of how things should be overlays the truth until I can't really make out either.

I'm disappointed in myself sometimes. Not because I can't succeed here- but because I keep trying to. Insanely. Knowing what the end result will always be.

There is meaning somewhere else.


There has to be meaning, somewhere else.

I don't want things to get broken through sheer apathy ever again. I don't want to let my life happen to me. Staring at the ceiling trying to say the right thing instead of GOD! Doing something! Now I know that every little thing you let yourself experience can break you for life! Now I know how every moment of inaction, of words blocking your movements, how these things can stay with you. How they freeze you in place.




23 in 12 days, by the way!

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Ease off.

I'm trying to relax. I want to enjoy it.

As always I never realise things quickly. My first reaction is anger, to get angry and frustrated with myself for not figuring things out sooner, for not taking action, for letting it happen to me over and over again. Everyone else deals with these things, or doesn't have to.

And then I pause. I'm not everyone else. I don't have to be. Maybe I don't measure up in a lot of ways, maybe I am lacking. But if nothing else I'm always trying. I'm doing the best that I can do.

Last week I wasn't feeling so good. I was dizzy, jumpy. This week I just... felt a crack that was a hair until Monday suddenly open up. Like the ceiling that fell down in our house, I was secretly bending underneath the hidden weight of years of rain drops, holding myself up on rotten beams. When I burst open there was just a sudden mess of everything on the floor- last week's depression, mixed in with last year's insecurities, and then among it...
God, I keep rewriting this trying to justify it to my imaginary audience. I don't need to. I spent the last year living in a house with my best friends, so I told myself my worst days were over. They had to be, because this time everything was right. If I couldn't make it work this time, it really was me. The thing is, it was always me. I am fundamentally a broken person now. I... think I am becoming OK with it. I've stopped being a brain floating outside of a broken self and tried to reconcile myself back into my own body. I see things through my own eyes now- I'm not floating up at the ceiling watching my pathetic body struggle. When I started writing this blog, in a lot of ways I was trying to be a whole host of different people watching myself write, trying to channel their thoughts. I was such a non entity.

But I try not to be now.

I'm a broken person. Other people have been through worse and didn't ever break. I just got unlucky- maybe I was made a little weaker, or just had those stress fractures running through me from the start. Maybe I just got hit hard enough at the exact right angle, at the exact right time. I don't know. I'm tired of defending it- I don't want to have to keep convincing myself, never mind anyone else. I dropped out of school and tried to kill myself because I knew I was broken, but didn't know I could still, you know, carry on doing my thing anyway. By the time I got to living in this house with these friends, I'd sort of- abstracted myself from myself. I reminded myself sometimes that these things broke me once upon a time. I spent most of my time trying to remind people to care.

I thought about it one night coming back from the cinema. Last year I ripped a tendon in my heel and I've been limping every since. It's much worse after sitting still for a couple of hours- like after watching a movie. My friends marched on ahead up the road home, chatting about the film, and I got left behind. Limping, angrier and angrier that this is what I am now, unable to keep up. And I thought about it then, how I'd said every single time we went out that I couldn't keep up, that I was in pain. And I thought about how if you keep shouting I'M IN PAIN, I'M IN PAIN, eventually you're just telling yourself. I'm in pain. I'm in pain.

I blocked it out.
This week a bubble burst in my head and I felt it all at once.


I found it really hard at the time to admit that living with my friends made me suicidal. That parts of it retraumatised me. That having my pain ignored, invalidated, made me think that I deserved it. The- many little instances of cruelty or carelessness built up like the rain in my roof. And I'm already broken- I cracked. I'm not like them. I can't be handled on the same level, I can't hold up to the same scrutinies, I... can't fulfil the same expectations. I couldn't. Now it's overwhelming me, the ocean of pain and sadness and loss I was containing in my fist, shaking at other people, saying I'M IN PAIN, LOOK AT ME. Now the pain is just mine and it's all out in the open again.


Last night I heard his voice telling me over and over again that I'm worthless.


But in a weird way... I'm mine again. My pain is my pain and I can choose to feel it, take it in, allow it, tell myself I didn't deserve it. I matter again because I'm the person who can give this to myself.

I'm not the statue they built of me. I'm not trapped inside the stone any more.


I cried all night and it hurt but it felt good to feel it again. My own pain. Back in my own body. Not astral projecting into other people, wondering how they can't care.



I fantasise about love. Being loved, being understood. Being valued enough that my pain hurts them too, that it matters that I should feel OK. That it's easy to reassure me. The words well up like blood, truth. I love you. You didn't deserve this. You deserve better. It feels like one day it might happen. To not be made to justify my every emotion, cite sources, defend my position. To not be denied myself because someone can't handle me. To be allowed. To be welcomed in. I'm so ready for that.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Isn't it over yet.

I keep starting to write, and then losing what I'm trying to say in the words. Trying to work out my imaginary audience. Who am I writing for? Me. It's just me.

It's weird how linear the narrative is. I read back- my last complete blog post was last September- and I see runes, the framework of what the next ten months were going to be like. As if I knew, as if I ever prepared for any of it (I didn't, I never do.) I relate back to myself, these previous versions. As if they're different people who are older than me because they experienced being me before. I feel brand new all the time.

I'm so weak. I'm so stupid.

I'm coming off my tablets. I've just- had enough. Sixty extra pounds is a lot to carry. I'm lined all over now with stretch marks, cut deep and red into my skin. I'm tired. Plantar fasciitis in both feet, sciatic nerve pain in my back, neck wound so tight it hurts to lie flat on the ground- I just hurt, I'm tired. I didn't know the weight gain was such a thing when I was first put on the antipsychotics. I didn't know the brain fog was a thing either. I got screened for ADHD recently because my focus problems became such an issue, but I think it was just the doctor and I both baffled that I didn't just accept the "brain fog" as a necessary evil. A kindness, even, because in the fog you just keep drifting, your little boat doesn't see the rocks. But I guess in this metaphor it doesn't see the lighthouse lamp either.

I'm tired of the fog, and the sudden bursts of anger, and the weight piling on, and feeling out of my own control. I'm tired of it. I'm living at home right now, over the summer, and I just thought, fuck off. I can't do this any more. I want to be well. Maybe I just need to act out wellness better.

The jacket arrived. The big Metal Gear one. It looks amazing. It doesn't fit around my middle though, and I almost immediately went mad imagining everyone I know looking way better in it than I do. I want to cut my middle out. And cut off my injured feet and cut off my damaged head. No part of me feels good any more. I just woke up in this body again and it's newborn and fake and stupid. I want the satisfaction of putting the whole thing in the bin.

This year, I:
got a gym membership back home and went to yoga again, for the first time in four years. I'm terrible now, and I have so much of myself in the way. The teacher told me not to push myself too hard. "I'm talking to your body, not your ego." I felt calm, but in a sort of terrible way. I used to meditate every day (ish), and I did yoga every week, and I was pretty into it. Meditating during that session was terrifying. It was like opening a door to a dark room I hadn't opened in four years and stepping inside. And over those four years I heard muffled screaming and thumps and then nothing.

I made my mum cry. I keep doing that. She makes me cry too, though.

I don't know if I'm a good person any more. That's, more or less, what tipped me over the edge with the pills. My mum told me today that she didn't feel like I was the same person on them. She says I'm hard to live with, I'm too angry, and I'm dull. If I was gonna describe myself in a few words lately that'd just about cover it. I'm hoping it's the pills. I'm hoping there is this switch I can hit that will stop me from being irreversibly like this. If not maybe I'll just pretend to myself that there was so I have an excuse to be a better person.

Good things happened too.
I'm trying so hard to keep a hold of them.
I realised I've forgotten most of last year. I used to keep such an obsessive catalogue of memories to dip back into, but I just didn't form any in the last year. It's unsettling to reach back and feel nothing stretching for ages. I was unhappy but I couldn't let myself feel it or change it, because the situation said I should be happy. I was depressed and tired and my self esteem ticking down by the day and I kept telling myself it was my fault. And in a way, it is. Every time this happens, it's because I elect to stick around in a situation I don't need to be in.



I just want to be alone.
I just want to be myself, alone.

Right now I feel like a viewing deck with a dozen people peering into a specimen. I just feel watched, transparent, totally evil. I feel like someone is checking my thoughts before they clear into my mind. I feel so bad. I just feel horrible.


Good things happened, too. I'm trying so hard to keep a hold of them. But it's hard sometimes.


Soon will be better.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Obvious exits.

So, funny thing, I think I've developed social anxiety.

It's always been a weird one, because I guess my anxiety has always either been a camouflage for another, deeper running disorder (eg. my anxiety about leaving the house after being assaulted, the result of PTSD, or my anxiety about the state of my relationships as symptomatic of borderline.) But maybe it's also smokescreened by those other disorders. Social anxiety is a weird one because I don't think I've ever just had it- I feel awkward and nervous around new people, and old people. But I also love and thrive from being around people. Social anxiety has always felt artificial when it's happened to me, caused by something else.

I've had this black and white thinking post-event, where I've divided my life into good- before I got seriously ill, when everything was better- and bad- the useless, helpless pariah I became afterwards, void after the fact. Not suicidal, but not really feeling worthwhile. Just- occupying the hinterland in between, with miles to go to get back to either side. It never really occurred to me to try and diagnose this person I've become. I've either tried to paint myself good again (and become frustrated when it hasn't worked), or gone on unhappily knowing I'm bad. It was a conversation with a pal I went to college with that got me thinking, actually. College was a bad time for both of us- a horrible year with an awful, cruel tutor, a group of peers that neither of us gelled with, and work that we both despised. And he said about social anxiety. I thought about it, the dent that year put in my confidence, and I guess I was pretty confident in myself and around other people until around that time, too. And I've been so caught up in my good/bad, black/white thinking that I failed to notice that a similar thing has happened again- I'm doing better because I've worked hard on my recovery so far, but I'm not doing "good" because there are some new little things that hold me back now.

It's funny to diagnose these very obvious little things. I was sitting in the lecture hall for our welcome back meeting earlier today, and my heart was thumping, and my hands were shaking, and my voice had gone all high pitched. I could barely look around at all the people in the room with me. And I was thinking in my head, oh my god, everything's terrible, I've made a mistake coming back, look at me, I'm not better at all. And then a little later, once things had quietened down, I somehow managed to take a step back and look at how I was acting. And my god, look, I was just nervous. Super nervous. Super aware of my every wrong move, how my hair was sitting, the shape I was making. And super scared of people looking at me, looking through me. Social anxiety! God I love explanations for things.

Cos you know what? You can fight social anxiety... You can work on it. The one, pure, golden thing about finishing therapy is the sense of, like, OK, I've done this once, I can do it again. I can keep doing it. INSIGHT! ~*~*~*~

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

In your shadow.

Mental illness took my body away from me. Mental illness took away my ability to think my own thoughts. I'm only now getting these things back, and I'm scared of what they'll look like when I find them again.



With this disorder I've always felt like I'm constantly moving house, vacating identities and setting off in search of a new one to inhabit. This one, maybe. Maybe this one will be right. I still don't know what questions to ask before I move in. I still don't count the rooms, picture the places I'll crawl into. I just hope each time that this'll be the one. I don't change the space to suit myself, I just dress it like a stage with the few things that indicate my presence there. And then I act out my life, my identity, following the script I've picked up, word for word.

I guess this is where I get my sensation that the world I enter during my dissociative episodes is the "real" one- it's the only one where I'm finally abstract from the structures I've had built all around me (and I'm using passive language even though I'm the one doing the building.) When I dissociate, I forget everything about the script. I forget the character I'm playing. I wake up on the stage when all the lights have gone off and everyone's left. I'm just me, confused and mostly in wonder, spectating the show I've been putting on in my other life. It feels so real. It feels so unreal. I don't know how to get to that person without dissociating. It's beyond just putting on a bit of a face. I feel like even my own thoughts are being edited as they come into bloom, trying to shape themselves into what another person might be thinking. Trying to become someone else. I used to play these telepathy games all the time when I was younger, where I'd close my eyes and shake my head and pretend another person had taken over my body, and then try to act out what they'd do, even if it hurt me. Now I can't stop playing.

What happens to a room when you move out of it? When I clear out everything that made it mine, including myself, does the room live on when I move everything into a new house? Does time stop, somewhere? Is the empty room entwined with the discarded identity, both existing and not existing? If they no longer exist, were they ever there?


...

Therapy taught me to survive. Therapy taught me to love my job, acting. Therapy maybe taught me to get into character, to love my character, to protect my character. I value all of these things. I even value my life. But this darker current- the brightly coloured shadows of delusion, the psychotic waters- still runs through me. The disorder accelerates and decelerates time around me. I'm flung back and forth until the concept of a "present" is meaningless- because all of it is always happening and not happening at the same time. I walk out of the room and the shadow lengthens for every step. I don't know if I'll ever be out of it.


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Babies.




In a week I'm moving. The flat's already emptied out. All my stuff is in storage or back home in Glasgow (and man was there a lot of stuff.) It's... weird. It feels weird. There's about five days between this lease ending and the new one beginning, so I'm in the same weird situation as I was when I moved out from halls- an empty flat with nothing in it but a laptop, a duvet and a toothbrush. And probably the same destiny of ordering a ton of pizza at some point to ration out since I have no food.



Yeah. It does feel weird. It's been two years almost to the day since I moved into this flat. I tried to make a home out of it, but my flatmate and I fell out over some fairly critical stuff early on and I ended up just lumped with the task of keeping it clean, since she never did anything about that, and otherwise keeping out of the way. I had my twenty-first birthday party here, which was the best party I've ever been to. Before all that, I had the worst summer of my life. I can look at the empty walls now, as they were two years ago when I first moved in and lived by myself for three months, and I can still see the dark stains of those horrible days. I was sitting here most nights, on the floor next to the window in the living room, listening to the street noise at three in the morning and wishing I was dead. My empty fridge and my window sills lined with empty bottles. I did so much damage to myself. I walked out to the botanical gardens with my face all cut up and made a call to the Samaritans. I locked myself out of my bedroom where all my pills were waiting on the desk. I cried a lot. Me and my pink hair and my blue mascara and myself all hollowed out, ready to end.

I never thought it would get better. I didn't think I could ever get beyond that feeling- that numb, eating away at the inside of your head, eating away at the inside of your chest feeling, that cold, panicked feeling of needing to disappear, or destroy, or scratch yourself out. I couldn't have conceived of not feeling that way, it was so consuming. I've done what I told myself then was impossible- I've forgotten how that feels.


I feel happy. I feel content. I feel peaceful. I don't feel disturbed by anyone or anything. There was a lot I'd lost that I didn't think I would ever get back, but it started coming back. I got back more than I ever thought I would- I've gotten these years that I never believed I'd survive to see, because I was so sure at nineteen that I was going to kill myself, sooner or later. Now I don't know. I don't always know for sure that it's getting better. I know that it's not getting worse. Every two weeks at the hospital I'm given a chart of numbers and asked to rate my life against how it was when I started therapy, almost two years ago. It's never gotten worse.

There's stuff I've learnt through doing therapy. Like these bad spells come in cycles. Every couple of months I hit a bad low, and then I level out. Some things trigger it- my schemas, the lenses that tint everything I see. Working through it helps. I've been able to be open and honest with friends for the first time, imparting my diagnosis to a couple of people, explaining what I need when things get bad and giving them the option to be the person who can give it to me. I've started getting myself back- and it's not a good person, or a perfect person, or a person who isn't traumatised, but just the person I was all along. I like video games, and electronic music, and I love dancing and I love to draw. I like reading books and playing CDs. I love laughing really hard until my chest hurts. I love walking around at night, and talking to people, and watching movies. It's all small stuff but it's stuff I never let myself have, in all this time. I couldn't be a person who loved doing anything. I compressed myself into nothingness. I'm always building silhouettes of myself out of sand.

But I feel good just now.


My friend and I dyed half my hair blonde. Doesn't it look weird? I love it.


Friday, 8 May 2015

Cacti.

I've been writing, and stopping midway, and starting again for a few months now. I don't know what I want to say. So here's some writing about my cacti instead.

My first plant (if I remember correctly) was Jónsi. He's a little succulent that I rescued from the bin on my parent's anniversary one year. I say he was my first plant. I grew some hebes in our front garden when I was younger, and I cared for them a lot, and I helped pick out some plants from the garden centre for my mum and the back garden, though I didn't care for them so much. Jónsi is a fragile-looking, twiggy little guy in a tiny pot, a donkey's tail I think, too delicate for the road trip to Dundee when I first moved out- so I left him in the care of my dad, who in the past three years has seen him rise up and climb out of his pot to crawl along the windowsill in our kitchen at home. Every time I came home I said, DAD! Repot that guy! Because the pot was seriously tiny, and he was getting seriously big.

Well, last weekend we went to Homebase and got a big bag of cactus soil (cactus soil is different from regular soil because it's got more rocks and sand in it) and I repotted Jónsi. I've been worrying about him ever since. Some cactuses freak out when they're repotted.

I'm always very anxious about my cacti, because I take it very hard when they die. Two of my cacti didn't make it through the winter this year- Vegeta and Kakarot, who were both from IKEA and caused me some worries from the start. Vegeta was so named because of his perfect yellow Super Saiyan-style hat, and Kakarot was just named to match (he had a spiky red hat, so I suppose he looked a bit like the SSJ4 from GT, but I hated SSJ4). Both of them caught cold, despite my best efforts in keeping them safe from draught. Sometimes these things happen. I was very sad.


I kept them on the windowsill for a while after they'd died because I didn't want to just put them in the bin, but eventually it seemed too sad, so today I took them out to the flower shop across the road and asked if the owner could compost them. They're now on their way to a new life as new soil. The florist also told me they were both grafted cacti, or "moon cacti", which are two different types of cacti fused together. I wonder if this contributed to their early demise. Either way I wish I'd been able to save them. Poor little Z Fighters.

The rest of my cacti are still on the windowsill. I'm moving flat at the end of June, so I'll have to find them happy new places to chill out. I'm not sure if my new bedroom has an appropriate windowsill (my new window faces the west.) We'll see.


In the glass jar is Jem (and the Holograms). She's grown a little bit since I got her when I first moved to Dundee. The coloured pots were named by a friend, but I didn't think they suited them particularly, so I renamed them Simon (tall and green), Lumps (short and orange), and the Brothers (two and yellow.) They've gotten a little taller too. I hope when the time comes to repot them that I'll be able to find some colourful pots again. The very tall one is Steve Reich (and the Kronos Quartet). His fuzz is very soft if you're mindful of his spines. He's grown the most of them all, and I think he'll need repotted soon. I think Steve Reich's grown the most because I talk to him and play him music the most. I love the others too, but I find Steve more accessible than the rest.

I got some new friends when I was back in Glasgow last week.


That's Jónsi in his new pot on the right. The other guys are Big Lebowski (look at how spiky!), Lemongriese (whose hair is very yellow), and Agent Cooper, the tiny succulent. I met them at the garden centre when we were getting compost. They're in my parents' care in Glasgow now but they'll be joining me in Dundee in a while.

(I'm already nervous about Agent Cooper, but look how perfect. I had to try. I hope he'll be OK.)

So that's all about my cacti.

A few years ago, I saw some cactuses performing live. I think it was part of Glasgow's Minimal festival, which celebrates Minimalist music. I go every year. The band looked like this:


In searching for the piece of music that we listened to, I found this:


How nice. But I think the piece was actually John Cage's Child of Tree (or possibly it was Branches):



So many things have happened and been happening. It's good to stop and reflect on some plants sometimes.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Emptied out.

If you're going to survive with bad mental illness, you're going to have to make some compromises. If you want to live at all, you have to live with it.

I think of my life, fractured up with this dissociative nature of mine, as a series of saves. Sometimes I wake up and I've been put back in the wrong file, or the file's been corrupted. My body becomes the scene of many different events- grief, violation, anger and hopelessness- and with each of them my mind does its best, as if it's taking up the controls for the very first time each turn. Every time I catch myself wondering which save is the real one, I lose something. I only stay connected sheerly through wanting to. I want the world I live in to be real. I want, one day, for there to be no others.

The trick that I'm being taught, every two weeks when I've done my required reading and obediently reported to the hospital for therapy, is to forget. When I feel anything I can't tolerate, I have the responsibility of being my own caretaker, gardener, taking the branches of different feelings and reactions and gently clipping them off entirely. This is how I stay stable. The trick is that you sacrifice yourself in exchange for your own life. 

I didn't write for a while, but I turned 21, ended up in the emergency room again, had a birthday party, got a job as illustrator in residence, passed the semester, came off quetiapine provisionally (switching onto something lighter), found a new place to move into next summer, and now 2015 is here. I spent Hogmanay in Dundee with friends, who'd also fled home after tense, argument-filled Christmas breaks, and we played board games until the bells. Everything's felt so emptied out. I feel like I barely recognise my parents, and I actually barely recognise my sister. I don't recognise all the things that have been going on in my family, although I think it's just a bit of the veil lifting and revealing the truth. People who've been battered and hurt for years are finally showing their scars. And me having to accept- that I'm helpless as I've ever been. There have just been times when I felt more powerful.


I saw a shooting star the other day.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

You're falling apart!

I know! I know I am.

I've said before, things along the lines of "I'm worried things are getting bad again" or "I'm scared it'll end up like last year". Today I've realised that things really have gotten bad again. Like before, it crept up on me unseen. I thought I was doing OK. Feeling a bit vulnerable, maybe dipping into depression, but staying on course. Trying to ignore these little blips, warnings. I am an idiot. Case in point: I wrote a letter to send to Liam a few days ago.

Today was hard. Most days aren't, now that I've learned to be more patient. As I get through everything I need to do, I keep my line loose, reeling it in when I need to, letting it spool back out when I can. But today was hard, which made me alert. I missed an appointment with my psych, having slept clean through it after three days solid without sleep and an eventual desperate measure of taking more quetiapine than usual to knock me out. I woke up mid-panic. I'd been dreaming intensely about a friend coming to visit- a friend I haven't seen in over a year now- and how I'd budgeted for so much food to stock my fridge with so that we could eat well while he was here. I woke up with the numbers still in my head. I woke up late to go to the cinema for a friend's birthday, but was in such a panic that I fainted twice while trying to get ready, so I stayed in and baked cookies to make it up to her.

At the end of her quiet flat party, cake half gone, vodka bottle sitting placidly under the table, rattling a Playstation controller listlessly at a TV screen, mostly everyone in bed, someone starts asking me about sexual assault, and I go into such a terrible state of mind- of total, submissive quiet. I answer her questions and listen to her observations obligingly, feeling hollow, wondering (not for the first time) why I don't say "stop". Came home in a daze, still in a dress and heels, alert, come in the door and the electricity is out and the alarm is beeping steadily, and while I'm trying to disable the sound, I set off the piercing alarm for the entire building.

Deactivate it. Slump in anxious pile. Won't sleep tonight. Can't feel my brain. Today was hard.

I don't like this flat. Every dark corner is stained with the after-image of me crouched with a razor in my hand, scoring lines into my arm to revive me from my grief; stained dark with psychosis, empty with the constant sorting and destroying; empty from lack of furnishing, lack of love. The stupid electricity meter and its piercing wail. My flatmate skulking behind her heavy locked door, ignoring me for some minor fault. Separate cutlery trays. The noise. I'm angry. I should have grown, but in this place, I'm stunted. An adult trying to grow in the shoes of a child. I need out, but I'm bound into my contract until next June. I hate it. I want to live in the studios. Or I don't want to live anywhere, just phase in and out of my life at different points.

Anyway, today was hard, so I had to examine why. I did the working I've put off, ignored for a while, and I thought, oh shit. That letter to Liam. I've been hearing voices, thinking they were normal and then instantly forgetting. Round one was psychosis. I forget that it comes in stages like this. Round one, psychosis, unpleasant, physical distortions, get through it, ground. Round two is delusions. They're hard to destroy because they're even harder to detect.

WELL, SHIT.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Someone great.

Tomorrow, I'm welcomed back into the warm and bright embrace of the art school.

I've also been a year on quetiapine now. A couple of stone, a few hundred nights of sleep, the colour grown out of my hair, another summer passed in an empty flat, and I've got a few things to comb out until they sit right and stop hurting my head. Problem number one, quetiapine and generally being sedentary and tired all the time has made me put on weight, and my self esteem is still uncomfortably tied into how well I can wear my clothes and how easily I can find the strength in my arms and legs when I reach out for it. Solution number one, I've got friends who want to take up swimming with me, and swimming is one of the most joyful and strengthening activities I can think of. Maybe once I get some of my strength back, I can start going to combat classes again. Good. Focus on it.

Problem number two, quetiapine and generally being unhappy has made me far more irritable and aggressive than I'd ever be previous. It kicks in violently and hangs around like a cloud circling my head and I barely notice until I reflect on things I've said, and it's frustrating and I don't like the kind of person it's making me into. I need to find some way of sifting through these things that are cutting me up so, like grit burning against my skin, and cleaning it out so I can get to the clean sensation of anguish, feel it, get it over with, move on. I think I ought to start meditating daily again. I've let myself steep in warm, dirty waters, lying awake at night driving myself through the thickness of stupid sick thoughts. I can do better than this.



I've been sad. I've been in pain. I still end up in a stupor some days sitting unhelpful thoughts, backing myself through the same stupid hedge I wrote myself out of, thinking, you don't deserve to think these thoughts. Isn't that strange. I reminded myself, through some chatting with incredibly tolerant friends, that it pays better to try and be kind to yourself, at least until you can stand back on your own feet.

My worst fear last year was that I would live to see the age of twenty. I was scared senseless by the idea that I would be dragging myself endlessly through a life I was never meant to be in, one that was crafted to be empty no matter how hard I struggled to fill it up. My dissociative episodes still drag me back to those strange, out-of-order times, lifting me out of my day and depositing me in a blank save, an empty set, double-exposed photograph. Now, my biggest fear, the smallest terror that runs itself into my life like a thread of black ink in clear water, is the ever-imminent collapse of this incredibly fragile world that I've built, where I've experienced successes and worthwhile relationships and began to see a future at my feet. Recently I've grown scared that it'll be me, not the illness, that throws it all away.

I've got to do better by myself. I've got to remember that I'm not immune to the seasons of recovery. It's so easy to turn around and see that towering schema still behind me, still reminding me of the unavoidable truth that I carry with me, that I should be dead. I've got to put more in front of myself to distract me until maybe one day it'll disappear altogether. There's this stupid way you get into when you're suicidal, which is believing that you can't be hurt by anything until you die. The smallest woes and injuries that a normal person might stop to tend to get ignored. In a literal sense, the scene of me pouring the kettle out over my hand last year. In a less obvious sense, someone forgot about my upcoming birthday. I had a fight with my sister. There's been news about Liam's killer, and I feel helpless and sad, alone without anyone here to share him with, reminded not of the empty days after his death when I turned myself to stone, but of the more vulnerable memories- of his last visits to our house, of our time together as children.

You know. These things would make you sad. Why wouldn't they? When you're suicidal, every feeling, vivid and demanding to be felt, is churned by the mill into the same lethal, vibrating mist, torturing you like an animal into desperation. Why shouldn't I be sad? What does real emotion feel like, when it's not numbed and then let back through in a slow trickle of poison? I feel sometimes like I don't know myself at all. I've been going around apologising to everyone I know for my every strange habit, terrified I'll lose them, or that things might change and grow, and if they move out of place, I'll lose everything again. It'll just not be there any more. Why should anyone be sympathetic, if I should start talking? I've talked enough.

I need to be nicer to myself, and it's out of necessity- if I'm nice to myself, I'll be more inclined to be nice to other people, I'll deserve their kindness, I'll be able to clear my head and work hard, and I love to work. It's fine being able to trace a curled root back and say it's all stress, and then sit ill at ease but content with the diagnosis, but wouldn't it be better not to be so stressed to the point of total immobility... When I have the constant pain and exhaustion, the eyesight flickering on and off, the ever present threat of another breakdown in the future, why not give myself the best chance I can. Wouldn't it be nice to not just survive, to not just feel things again, but to experience them. To care about them. Wouldn't it be nice to feel real? OK.
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