Today, coincidentally, I had an appointment with Aunty C my counsellor so I limped off to hers, still a bit shell shocked by yesterday’s events.
And whilst she poo pooed Dr Grey Fox’s diagnosis a little, I noticed that she didn’t look that surprised.
‘Ah, some practitioners need to pigeonhole people like you in order to process them and get them the right treatment. Believe me, you could probably make anyone fit the emotionally unstable criteria as we’ve all been hurt by life and behaved, erm, abnormally or irrationally at some stages of our lives’ she said, smiling encouragingly.
‘Ah, C, I appreciate your support, but the criteria fits me like a top of the range Saville Row suit.’
1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. – Yup. HATE rejection and will reject first if I get so much as a sniff of it.
2. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterised by alternation between extremes of idealization and devaluation. – Check
3. Identity disturbance – markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self. – ‘Oh Yes!’ (said in voice of Churchill)
4. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging, e.g. spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving or binge-eating. – Yes. Not so much nowadays, but in the past? For sure.
5. Recurrent suicidal behaviour, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behaviour. – The latter and the desire not to be here
6. Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood, e.g. intense episodic dysphoria, irritability or anxiety, which usually lasts for between a few hours and several days. – YES
7. Chronic feelings of emptiness – YES
8. Inappropriate, intense anger, or difficulty controlling anger, e.g. frequent displays of temper, constant anger or recurrent physical fights. – Again, not so much of late, but I used to be a bit of a maniac, and I am on a lot of medication nowadays
9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms. – Yes
C sighs. ‘Why are you so keen on labelling yourself?’
‘If it helps move me forward, I’ll have it tattooed on my forehead.’
We laugh, albeit a little sadly.
‘Look, I know I’ve improved and I know some of these symptoms are mainly in the past, but I’ve plateaued, and now I’m stuck. Frozen. Still scared to go out and face the big wide world. And I know you think the ‘good parent’, ‘the inner child’ and all that lot will help me out, but they don’t and I just can’t do it alone. And if I don’t do something quick, I’m going to be in real trouble financially.’
Aunty C looks sad.
‘I don’t think you appreciate how well you’ve done’
‘I totally do, thanks to you, I’m not going to use the diagnosis as an excuse to write myself off, and I won’t necessarily buy into everything they throw at me, but I know I’m still quite a bit bonkers and think group therapy might be a good “dry run” for interacting and learning to deal with people outside of my comfy safe circle of friends.’
She looks at me with real warmth.
‘You are not bonkers. You have a beautiful mind. It’s creative, insightful, caring, lyrical, instinctive, even psychic but you let it wander off to dark places. It rules you, not the other way around. Try and catch yourself doing this, make some notes and we’ll talk about it when I see you in the New Year.’
‘OK, I’ll keep that mo fo in check, sho nuff!’ I quip jokingly.
Aunty C grimaces in frustration. ‘See how you talk to the child! The language! Learn to be more gentle on yourself!’
You’ve probably heard this ‘catching my thoughts’ thing before, so forgive me if i’m going over old ground, but it’s a tricky old ting this ‘beautiful’ mind of mine. One minute it’s my ever faithful companion, and all ‘Oh it’s Christmas, how lovely!’ then the next it’s trying to creep off somewhere without my noticing.
‘Oh, you’re missing out on so many parties, and no one is missing you…still jobless, still on your own, just as well they don’t want to see you…’
And before I know it, it’s twice the size it was, has grown big, sharp teeth and claws, and has dragged me down some stinking filthy rabbit hole, where it’s all dark, stinking and rotten, and it takes me forever to get out.
‘..and everyone is having a good time without you, but let’s face it, no one would miss you if you weren’t here at all would they, I reckon by next year you’ll be dead and…’
But I’m trying. And hopefully this extra therapy will help. In the meantime, I’ll just have to adopt the ”Ere, where do you think you’re going?’ approach, implement the use of a choke chain when necessary, and maybe this time next year there’ll be no doubt about who’s in charge anymore.
‘Who’s a beautiful boy then? But I’m the boss. And if you ever want a walk again, don’t you ever forget it!’
Whoops. I forgot. That’s not a nice way to talk to it. I’d better modify my tone and try again.
‘OK Mind/Child/Whoever you are, this isn’t somewhere we want to linger is it? Look at all that mud, poo, and I don’t even want to think what that thing is over there in the corner. You are loved and liked and will have a lot of fun this Christmas if you put yourself out there and try. Look there’s a bit of light winking over there, shall we head in that direction, climb out of this hole and go home for a nice hot bath?’
‘OK M/C/WYA, I thought we were doing some business research, so why are we searching eBay for coats/vintage sewing machines/boots/monkey fish mermaids that we cannot at this moment afford? Let’s close those windows and focus on the job at hand, hmmm? And then maybe, just maybe we’ll be able to buy this kind of stuff again one day.’
‘OK M/C/WYA, you’re obsessing about things that may not even happen, and if you think more optimistically you’ll have more chance of preventing this hideous glimpse of a possible future. Focus on the now please, OK?’
‘OK M/C etc, etc, maybe she did betray and deliberately hurt you and maybe she didn’t; fact remains that she only has power over you if you give it to her. Leave her stew in her own juices and go out for a nice dinner with someone else. She’ll be back, you’ll see her again if and when it suits you, and the balance of power will be a whole lot more even.’
Exhausting all of this Mind monitoring, but hopefully one day in the future it will lie at my feet, trusting and contented, and I won’t have to police it anymore.
Well I can dream, can’t I?
‘There’s my beautiful girl!’