Phoenix Fights

Fighting the FEAR, depression and BDP on a daily basis AND making my own bread. Bring it on 2016….


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SOME PEOPLE SAID I’M BONKERS, BUT NOW I THINK I’M FREE

tiffany-blue-the-color-of-style-c

About a month ago, I did one of the most risky, drastic, scary things I’ve ever done.

I walked out of my therapy group.

I had been thinking about it for months before, as I had started to feel how I used to feel before going to work, i.e. dread, depression, feeling that I didn’t belong, that I couldn’t trust people, that I had to squish down who I was in order to fit in and get along with everyone.

But of course it wasn’t work, it was 3 x 90 minute sessions per week in a grotty room in south London, so every now and than my rage, frustration and resentment would eagerly burst out through the tiniest crack in my composure, to which the shrinks would leap up in glee, parry it, and press me back into the confined identikit one sixth of an egg box which replaced my desk in that office building in Soho as another, less salubrious, prison of my own making.

Back in the day I used to manage my fury by working out, and if that didn’t work, I would stay away from the rest of the human race in order to protect both them and myself from the aftermath of the explosion, but I was urged to attend therapy however I felt, the moodier the better.

At first I thought this was to make me feel accepted, but I soon realised that footage of me throwing a fit was great material for Shrink 1 & 2 to exploit by sallying forth to use their book sourced, emotionally inept techniques to try and bring me under control, which invariably only made things worse.

Not only that but on that final fateful day, I told them that I was not in a good place and they once again insisted I attend. And when my irritation started show Shrink 2, Ann, making sure the camera got her good side, took me to task with a faux puzzled expression, telling me that I sounded very angry, that she didn’t like my tone and was taking issue with it.

So they blatantly laid a trap and set me up, and I, the fool that I was, staggered smack bang into it.

That was the last straw.  I reacted badly, but on realising what was going on, took a deep breath, gathered my belongings and left that room for good.  And as I exited onto that sunny street that morning,  I realised just how much it had all been chipping away at me.

  • The blatant insincerity.
  • The being spoken to in a babyish voice as if I was some mentally subnormal infant.
  • The ignoring of me, that is to say everything about me that made me different to everyone else in the group, especially any advantage or skill that others didn’t have.  It was more convenient to pitch the course at the youngest/least educated/most damaged instead of treating us all as individuals.  For example, Shrink No. 1 Jolyon invited me to a ‘Cuckoos Nest’ style outing to an exhibition with the others soon after my defection.  Sounds innocent and perfectly pleasant you might think.   But he spoke to me, a 53 year old, a sophisticated, cultured, urbane, well travelled woman as if I’d never set foot in a gallery in my entire life.  He actually used the words ‘I really think you’ll like the pictures’ and implied earnestly they weren’t always how they appeared but sometimes the most simple image meant something else and that he would explain them to me on the day and it would be fascinating.  I swear to God had we been in the same room and that room contained a cushion, I would placed it over his earnest little vole like countenance, sat on it, squashed every last breath in his body, then legged it out of the window.  I can laugh about it now but the humiliation, the shame, the realisation of how far I’d fallen was almost too much to bear.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 19

  • The refusal to acknowledge that my points of view in our one to one discussions were valid, well thought out, emotionally intelligent and rational.  As soon as he was out of his depth, he would either switch subjects, simplify my point so that it sounded ludicrous, or lapse into ‘you’re crazy so I’ll just fuck with your head till you think I’m right’ mode.  In this, he was as much a bully as my ex boss.  Talk about frying pan to fire.
  • The complete lack of real emotional connection with either of them.  I suspect this was down to a lack of real empathy (as opposed to textbook sourced techniques), and maybe this wasn’t their fault, but to my mind, this is something that cannot be compromised on if one is to share of themselves.  I still thank God everyday for Auntie C (my psychologist for over a decade) who was, is, and always will be, the real deal.
  • The inauthentic, horribly strained relationship that I had with Ann.  She didn’t like me, my humour, the way I expressed myself, and that would have been fine had she been honest about it.  But she would coo flattering comments at me like a constipated pigeon that both of us knew weren’t true, and I cannot bear fakes.  The truth would come out during her ham fisted attempts to address my behaviour and I truly marvel at the fact that she every got the qualifications she did, let alone her position at St Psychos Hospital.
  • The putting their study before my needs, even the most fundamental.  I’ll give you an example.

Me:  ‘I won’t be able to stay on the course long term anyway’

Ann: ‘Oh no Sista, why not?’

Me:  ‘You know why, I have to sell my home and move somewhere cheaper, otherwise it will get repossessed and I’ll lose the only financial security I have and end up homeless’

Ann:  ‘Oh.  Well, that sounds very stressful, but we hope that you can stay as we care for you very much and you need the support of the group at this time’

Cue pointed stare.

And of course, my writing stopped dead as I didn’t believe that I had any to say of value to anyone anymore.

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture.

Not that they believed that I meant it.  And when the penny did finally dropped, they went all out guns blazing to get me back into my cage like a good little lab rat.

Like I say, this was not easy to keep them at bay, and Jolyon the medical professional to whom my wellbeing was entrusted to, used every trick in the book to make me stay.   

Whether you believe in the Devil or not, his moniker, Father of Lies has never made so much sense to me.

I was psychologically bludgeoned every which way, time and time again, to make me stay put. 

The ‘You don’t know what you’re doing because your damaged’ tactic. 

The guilt card for letting everyone else down. 

Raising his voice at me in order to make my lose my temper so he could regain control.

Promising to not try and make me stay if I came in for a exit meeting only to renege on this the second we sat down. 

The implied backing down without admitting guilt (‘Suppose you were right about Ann behaving inappropriately…’) in the hope that this would be enough to appease me and make me return followed by an immediate retraction when it didn’t work.

The denial of my rights. 

The refusal to hear my voice, my rational, honest, emotionally intelligent voice pleading for understanding and support, because my label of EPD meant that he though he was entitled to do so.

I thought my battle with my ex company was bad, but it was a walk in the park compared with this.  But I hung in there in stuck by my decision, and instead of passing me onto someone else like I requested (as if I’m that fucked up, I’d need a replacement ASAP, right?) I’ve been flung back onto an NHS waiting list by way of punishment.

But I can tell you with all honesty that I have yet to regret that decision.

Sure, there have been many bad days and my faithful old companion Fear is never far from my side.  I still have nightmares about my future, worry about losing my benefits and am still have to deal with the stress of trying to sell up and move.

But gradually things have gotten better.

And in the last week something extraordinary happened and for a week, I was made to feel how life could truly be if only I had a little faith.  More on that later.

But to all you BPD’ers, EPD’ers etc, I beg of you, if you can possibly avoid it, try to avoid giving up on life and throwing yourself upon the mercy of the NHS.  Because when you hand the keys and allow someone else to captain your ship, you only have yourself to blame when you eventually hit choppy waters in a land far away where there’s no shore in sight, and those fuckers don’t let you anywhere near the helm anymore.

I came very close to being Randled by those fuckers, but like the Chief, I’m only just beginning to know who I am again.

And this little egg, whilst still be cracked and streaked with guano, may still have a chance to release it’s potential again.

Namaste x


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ANGER IS AN ENERGY

Lord_of_the_Kraken_by_SteveArgyle

I can’t be around people I know right now.

Or, more to the point, people who know me, know about me and profess to love me.

I can’t contain the anger see, no matter how I try.

Even if I keep schtum, it twists my mouth, bleeds from my narrowed accusing eyes, and emanates from my core, surrounding me in such a huge miasma of unvented vitriol, I wonder how my hair doesn’t crackle and stand on end.

And whether they know it or not, they sense it.

You see, I may mock these Schema sessions, but it’s only taken three for them to bust through my ‘accepting’ Zen like veneer, and release the Kracken, and since the last meet, I can’t stop the fury.  My lying, weasel of an estate agent, the patronising sexist caretaker, a faux Facebook friend, Oscar Pistorius, and subsequently ‘alternative’ comedian Jimmy Carr have all felt the rough of my tongue, and I don’t quite know what to do with myself.

Even before I got to the session, I was bubbling and roiling with resentment, and when I remembered that (a) we were being filmed, (b) I’d consented to this and (c) the fucking camera was pointing in my direction, (ironic given that in different circumstances I’m perfectly happy with being filmed), I was absolutely determined to give not an inch.

Nada.

They prompt me, you see.

Gently and with apparent concern (retch), but I’m not having it.

‘How are people feeling today?  Sista, would you like to start?’

‘No.’

‘Ah….’

And everyone shifts uncomfortably in their seats.  It’s quite funny really.  They’re so grateful to be there and desperate to be ‘cured’, but I’ve been here so many times before, that a ball of wool, bits of felt and sympathetic tones cut no ice with me.

They don’t care about us.  We’re just lab rats and something else to put on their illustrious CV’s.

Then they start discussing the ‘Punitive/Demanding Parent’ (close relative to Aunty C’s ‘Bad Parent’ I believe) and that, whilst our parents damaged us, they probably did their best at that time, and when everyone seemed keen to embrace that theory, that is when I cracked.

‘Sorry, I don’t buy that at all.’

Shrink No’s 1 and 2 whip their heads my way and frown.

‘They had a choice.  Even if they had a bad childhood, they could have decided to transcend that experience and give their child that which they missed out on. But they didn’t.  They decided that if they were hurt, why should things be any easier for us?’

One of my fellow inmates pipes up.

‘Yeah, but that was back in the day and they didn’t know about all, erm, all this then?’

I know what she means and I know she means well.  But she’s talking arse.

‘I was dragged up in the North West in the ’60’s and believe me, I know that there was no psychological awareness there when I was a kid.  You were either a looney and to be jeered at, or normal and accepted.  No one knew about this “Good Parent, Bad Parent” malarky that’s for sure…’

And I mime inverted commas with slightly excessive force and more than a touch of sarcasm.

‘…but my cousin took his shitty childhood and did the opposite to what his father did and became the best parent he could, and all his kids absolutely adore him.  See?  He had a choice and decided his kids deserved better.  Our parents chose the other path.’

‘That’s a fair point actually, and yes, this is sometimes the case’ agreed Shrink No. 1, and the others mumble in acquiescence.

Then I notice another girl is crying.

No. 2 is on it.

‘Bella*, what’s that bringing up for you right now?’

‘I don’t know, I’m…’ then she lets out a shaky sigh and meets my eyes.

‘….I….just don’t like anger’ and she shrugs apologetically.

I feel a bolt of shame lance straight through me, and I am silenced.

I know that I scare people sometimes, without even trying.  That said, she should see me when I really flip out.  But to be fair, us BPD’s are hypersensitive and I’m sure she senses the molten fury bubbling under my relatively composed facade.

As if reading my mind, No. 1 pipes up with ‘Please remember that this is a safe place people.  We are here to take care of you and Bella, I know Sista isn’t angry with you or anyone else in the group.’

I should say something.

‘Yeah, honestly?  I think you must be stronger than me if you can forgive and still love your parents.  I’m actually the weak one here.  And I’m sorry if I made you cry.’

Bella rewards me with a watery smile.

No. 1 then decides to chime in with ‘Believe me Bella, I don’t think Sista is that angry right now.   Believe me.  I’ve seen her when she’s angry!’

Whaaat?  Thanks Doc.  I’m now the groups very own Incredible Hulk and everyone will flinch if even my top button strains.

I reward him with a mock scathing sneer, everyone giggles and we move on.

But the shame stays with me.  Because the Jolly Green Giant is a mere tantruming toddler when compared to me at large, as I can destroy with my tongue as well as my fists.  And I clearly remind Bella of someone who hurt her very much.

I regularly mourn the fact that I am childless, but right now I thank God that I never reproduced, because who knows whether I would have lived up to my own exacting standards or gone classic ‘Mommie Dearest’.

But the anger’s still there.  If anything it’s worse.

I tried to do the best for myself and kept a pre arranged trip to the cinema with a ‘close’ friend, I haven’t seen for three weeks just to get me out of the flat.

How hard could it be?

1. Buy tickets

2. Small talk till the ads start

3. Watch the movie

4. Drive him to the station

5. Go home

Quite hard as it happens, as after three weeks silence, as went enter the cinema, he mentions that he’d deducted that I’d had a hard time of late from my posts on Facebook.

<yes, but you still kept your distance hey?  funny that….>

I fought to keep control.

‘Honestly Dean?  I really don’t want to talk about it, it’s too depressing.  Let’s focus on what you’ve been up to?’

Great parry.  He filled up the minutes with tales of his full, fulfilling social life until mercifully the trailers started, then the movie commenced.

But oddly my underlying mood clearly seeped into his personal space as unbeknownst to him, his body language clearly communicated his discomfort as throughout the film, he shrank away from me, turned his form in the opposite direction, and even whilst the movie itself was riveting, checked his watch on a regular basis.

When we got out it was late, the pubs were shut so the only option was for us to go to our respective homes.

<not that you’d linger anyway, hey Dean?  skint friends are such a bore and you have much more amusing things to do with your time I’ll bet>

‘Wanna lift to the station?’

‘Please!’

Then it went horribly wrong.

‘So what’s actually going on with your flat?’

‘Oh you know estate agents!  Full of shit until you sign with them!  To cut a long story things ain’t looking good re my great escape and I’m very worried about my future.  How are things at work?’

‘But can’t you rent out?’

<fucking drop it will you? drop it, drop it, drop it>

‘Nooo, because I won’t make a profit and won’t get my rent paid.’

‘So, there’s nothing on the job front either?  Odd because Steve says there’s load of temp work out there right now?’

<shut up, shut up, shut up….>

And then it all comes tumbling out.

‘I can’t move because there are no interested buyer plus it’s unlikely to sell for enough to get me out of this hell hole.  I can’t rent out.  I can’t get a job because I’m over 50, bonkers, can’t do full time because i have to work around my Schema Therapy, and everyone I’ve ever worked with, including my FRIENDS have pretty much distanced themselves from me so would not recommend or help me get something.  If I stay I’m fucked, if I move I lose my therapy.  My bills are bigger than my bank account and I could get repossessed and of course everyone who said I could stay with them is shitting themselves because let’s face it, who wants a depressive and two cats on their sofa?!’

I wink at him mockingly and before he can interject I continue.

‘No one that’s who.  It’s like the Budda says, you can never rely on others only yourself.  I can’t afford to go out and I can’t afford to stay in. My family like my FRIENDS are lying low just in case I ask anything from them and I’m essentially on my own in all this.  There!  Think that covers everything.  Questions?’

And as I take in his shocked little face by the light of the station lamps, I realise I’ve killed off yet another friendship, or at the very least, drop kicked it into intensive care.

‘I erm, well, I didn’t know things were that bad.’

I smile with faux jollity.

‘Well ya do now!’

We stare at each other.

He doesn’t move.

<get OUT of the fucking car Dean>

‘Erm, I didn’t know given you’ve just been a bit distance the last few weeks…’

I feel my mad Joker grin widen even more.

‘I haven’t been distant Dean!  You’re the one who said you’d be too busy to do anything for two weeks!  I just didn’t want to crowd you!’

His mouth is kind of moving but the words don’t make it out.

<get. out. of. my. car.>

‘You’re going to miss your train?’

‘OK, yeah, well I’ll….we’ll…’

‘Indeed!’

We air kiss and he opens the door.

‘See ya!’

And I drive away with a feeling of palpable relief, a furious grief and a howl of pain that never seems to end.

Another one bites the dust.

end_friendship111

But still the anger roils and boils.  I need to find a way to vent this shit before I take down entire cities.

I need to forgive the people who’ve let me down so badly.  Or have they?  It’s hard to tell when you’re certifiable.

I could be wrong.  I could be right.

This anger is the only energy that ever motivates me to do anything. Such a shame it’s a force for evil.

If I ever get to harvest it for the good, that’s when I know I can Rise.

But I ain’t holding my breath.

Ciao for now x

* FYI all names are changed to ensure anonymity, even though I blog under a pseudonom.

http://www.oldielyrics.com/lyrics/public_image_limited/rise.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/jimmy-carrs-controversial-oscar-pistorius-joke-goes-too-far-at-the-q-awards-9812847.html


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HUBBLE, BUBBLE, YARN & TROUBLE

MAIN-Lynda-Bellingham

Today I have been mostly sighing.

I reiterate – sighing.

Not crying.

Despite things not going so great of late, I was doing OK.  I’ve been doing a bit of buddhist meditation and trying to accept my fate and was staying on a relatively even keel, until I went to my first Schema Therapy session.

To clarify, whilst this was my first session, it was the group’s second meeting, because, after all that angst filled waiting, I managed to miss the first one because I’d got the dates mixed up.  I’m pretty sure they (the two shrinks) thought I’d done it deliberately but I hadn’t.

One day seems very much like the next when you don’t have a life.

So, when I rocked up last Thursday, they were very effusive when welcoming me to the flock.

But I don’t trust them.  Partly because (as the scorpion said to the frog) it’s my nature, and partly because I haven’t forgotten them pretending my financial situation didn’t exist and that this would ensure that I was going to be there for the entire two years.  I was quite frankly amazed that someone so intelligent and well qualified would resort to behaving like an ostrich.  Well I’ve told ’em and if they still choose to pretend that my imminent departure isn’t happening, that’s their funeral.

Also, the list of participants they showed me were women and there are men in this group. That’s going to be awkward further down the line.

The first, my first, session started with the ‘bubble’ exercise where we had to close our eyes and visualise being in a lovely bubble that none of our worries or anything bad could penetrate and where we were safe, at least for the 90 minutes we were at the hospital.

My friends, there are only so many things that a bubble can repel.  And an gang of burly baliffs would smash that motha to pieces, so I stared at the carpet by way of compromise and played along.

We then did this thing with a ball of yarn where we had to say our name wrap the yarn around our hand then throw it to someone else, until everyone was tied together, thus illustrating the unshakable bond between us.

Oh God, how I itched to take the piss out of it, so when they asked us what it looked like, I kept schtum.

But then they had to ask me, of all people, what I saw.

‘It looks like a pentagon.’

‘Ah yes’ enthused Shrink No. 1, ‘I can see that, so it’s like we’re points on a star?’

‘No.  A pentagon.’  As used in black masses? Fortunately I managed to keep that bit in my head.

Then, ten minutes in when one of the girls got emotional, Shrink No. 2 broke out some lengths of felt fabric for us to cuddle and link between us to signify softness, and a comforting bond.

What the absolute fuck?  Is anyone actually falling for this shit?

Well yes they were.  From what i could tell, I was the only cynic amongst them.  And that’s when the penny dropped.

Even in an entire group of misfits and outsiders, I’m the outsider.

That’s no mean feat is it?  Practically something to be proud of.

Except all I felt was despair.

I have nothing in common with the others.  I’m older, from a different area, a different background, and I’ve had lots of therapy over the years, whereas all the jargon, tools and visualisations seem to be new and wonderful to these people.

It’s not their fault but my trust in them is zero.  How can I bear my soul here?

On the plus side, I kind of feel that I might be able help them, and in that sense, help myself.

At one stage I pulled out my bottle of water for a drink and copped a worried grin from No. 2, then when one of the girls asked if she could drink from her flask of tea, everyone froze.

‘Um…’ said No. 1, ‘well, what does the rest of the group think?’

Everyone shifted uncomfortably.

‘Yes’ chimed in No. 2, ‘I think this should be a group decision.’ She nodded gravely.

Sorry?  It’s green tea, not methadone!

I had to pipe up.

‘I’m sorry but it didn’t even occur to me that drinking wouldn’t be allowed’ I said incredulously ‘I get very dehydrated from my meds, and can’t go 90 minutes without water, so as long as it’s not a can of Guinness, I don’t see what the problem is?’

The group burst out laughing and even the shrinks allowed themselves a faint smile.

‘Yes, well if everyone’s OK with that, we’ll agree that you can bring drinks into the group.’

Oh, goodie, goodie gumdrops.  Am I going to have to put my hand up to go wee wees too?

I reported back to Aunty C and she laughed.

‘Try not to rubbish it too much and see what you can get from it.’

I took that on board and congratulated myself on surviving the first session.

Except I haven’t.

Today I watched brave, ballsy Lynda Bellingham’s (British actress) final interview, when she spoke of her incurable bowel cancer and her resigning herself to imminent death, but was planning one last Christmas with her loved ones before popping her clogs.

But it never worked out that way as she died on Sunday.

And here’s me planning the most Scroogy Christmas I can because I feel unloved and let down by my family.

If I had to describe that moment, I don’t think I can do it justice, but I felt a combination of shame, sadness, anger, envy, shame, resentment and pain.

I didn’t cry but I can feel all those unshed tears lodged in my thorax again, and I keep doing those big shaky sighs that you do when you’ve bawled your eyes out.

Maybe it’s a matter of time.  I just pray God that it doesn’t happen there.

Maybe I’ll go and see the Munsters at Crimbo after all.

Namaste x

http://www.ok.co.uk/celebrity-news/lynda-bellingham-final-appearance-loose-women