Locked in and out

Alone

Locked in, or locked out?
Going towards the light, or away from it?
Hurt, or hurting others?

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been experiencing emotions that I’ve never knew existed.  Nights have gone from being black holes of dissociation, to an awareness that I spend the entire night curled up, rocking, whimpering.  This is in stark contrast to my daily functioning, where I’ve managed to get huge amounts of work done.  It almost feels like my total lack of functioning outside of work, is needing to be compensated for somehow.

I know from past experience, that this type of dichotomy and partitioning is dangerous.  It leads to exhaustion; audio and visual hallucinations; self-injury; and other negative consequences.  The problem with the scenario this time, is what I’ve hinted at in my previous two posts.  I’ve been experiencing ongoing problems accessing assistance from the mental health crisis team.  I don’t know how to ask for help in a way that is useful.  I also get discouraged very quickly; as I don’t see that I’m worth saving, or able to be helped.

This leads to a situation, where I feel locked in, and locked out.  Locked into a hell of my own making, and locked out from accessing the help I need.  I can easily see my own culpability in the scenario.  I can see how the responses from the crisis team, set-up that scenario.  They are under-funded, under-staffed and drowning in clients.  As a result, their emergency response is to send the Police around to pick you up and take you to the Police interview rooms to wait for the on-call psychiatrist.  The psychiatric wards are set-up based on geographic catchment, rather than diagnosis or risk level.  Even at my worst, I still have ones within the system who know this, and will do anything possible to avoid the triggers of the Police and the alcoholics on the over-crowded ward.

Where does this leave me?

The other night, I managed to hug a soft toy for the first time that I can remember.  It was for less than a minute, but it was something.
Last night, I drew a flower on the window with glass markers. I’m not aware of enjoying it, but I think part of the system did.

So, may be this leaves me with another round of making connections, soothing, distracting, drawing.

I don’t know.

—————-
Now playing: Audioslave – Show Me How to Live
via FoxyTunes

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17 thoughts on “Locked in and out

  1. Hey,

    Just stick in there, you are well worth saving. This hell is not your own making, others put you there, but you will find a way out.

    I know you understand my last two comments, but may not agree with them. I am sort of out of my depth here, so I hope others can provide more useful comments.

    (Dumb question) Did you draw that? It is amazing. I am not sure what I make of it though.
    I don’t think I would make it as an art critic :p

    • Thanks 🙂

      The mind vrs emotions is always an interesting tussle… There’s never a winner.

      No, I didn’t draw the picture. I definitely don’t have that sort of talent. It’s a collage I created on Polyvore. Most people do collage work from magazines, but I can’t handle cutting into books and I’m OCD about making messes; so, I do my collage work online.

      Don’t worry, I don’t know what half of the collages I create mean. I sure don’t expect anyone else to understand them 🙂

      I used to go through the art galleries when I lived in Nelson. Half the time the mother and I would end up in the middle of the room with our heads tilted going “Oh yeah, I get it now”. Art’s good if it means something to the creator… it’s a bonus if it also speaks to others. Some people can do both spectacularly well!

      Take care,
      CG

  2. “I know from past experience, that this type of dichotomy and partitioning is dangerous.”

    Yes, I so relate to that. This is when my system begins to break down. We automatically compensate for the breaking down by partitioning even more. Which leads to more decompensation. It’s an ugly cycle that I don’t know how to break.

    And the concept of being locked both in and out? That’s really powerful. I’m beginning to understand how devastating repetitive no-win situations are for children. The fact that there’s no escape possible, over and over and over, is just crushing. It breaks a person. And as an adult, when we find ourselves in no-win situations, it’s suffocating and the hopelessness feels so total. I shouldn’t say “we.” I should say “I.” The truth is, I don’t know if you or anyone else with DID feels that way. But your words – locked in and locked out – felt validating to me even if that’s not what you meant.

    It shouldn’t be that way – that you have so few options, that you’re stuck.

    • Hi Holly,

      You’ve summed it up well. The no-win situation is the ultimate mind game… It was funny today, I had an appointment with a mental health occupational therapist, she kept on saying that the goals we were establishing were useless without my input – as she created the goals and wrote them down, without my input. I think she waited for me to contribute twice. She had the best of intentions in the world, but I was too fragmented to contribute beyond shy nods.

      I’m glad my words were validating. I definitely feel what you have described.

      I often listen in wonder when I hear others talk of their positive hospital experiences. I don’t understand how people get a sense of safety, acceptance or validation there. But yet, I know it is possible by reading Paul’s experiences regarding hospital. I’m grateful he and others, are able to access that level of care.

      Take care,
      CG

  3. CG you already know how I feel about you and your incredible worth as a person 🙂
    Your statement of being locked in or locked out was amazing. I also appreciate Holly’s comment about no-win situations, that was very good. Your picture? W-o-w! That’s very telling and very creative (you made me go to Polyvore). You are worth everything and it makes me mad that you’re not getting the help you need. Is it possible to gather enough of yourself or selves together when you’re with the OT to tell her a simple statement like “I’m fragmented right now” and that’s it? Would being able to get a couple of words across be enough to tell them you need help? You don’t have to feel like you need to make a speech, maybe just a few words would be enough to get the message across.
    ONE of the hospitals I have here makes me feel safe. the other is a facility that they also use to treat drug users and addictions etc. It’s not them that’s the problem it’s just that mixing people together who have different issues can be scary.And worst of all it’s dirty there! Ewww! I have instructions that I am never to be sent there again. The hospital I’m ok with is safe for me because it’s sterile. Everything is nailed to the floor and there are only two people to each room when you sleep. The bad part is mandatory group therapy yuck! And they won’t let you stay in your room during the day. You have to be outside of your room until bedtime. I only feel safe there because it’s clean and I’ve been there 4 times so it’s familiar.
    I will be thinking about you ALL day. Of course you’re in my thoughts everyday anyway but I want you to know just the same.

    • Hi tai,

      I’ve only met with the OT twice, and I don’t know if she believes in the possibility of DID. I try not to talk about anything specifically DID related when talking to the mental health professionals here. I learned the difficult way that it’s not overly accepted as a diagnosis. So I talk in general terms about the symptoms I experience… that’s what I’m trying to heal, the dysfunctional symptoms.

      The hospital you don’t like, sounds like the one here. The last time I was there, it was total chaos. There are some genuinely dedicated staff there, but they are in the minority. The facility was badly designed and as a result, is intrinsically unsafe. It’s also more of a holding tank, rather than a place of healing, so I’ve never encountered any therapy practices being done. Because there’s such a mix of diagnoses on the ward, I doubt therapy would be possible. There is an art room with supplies though.

      Thanks for the thoughts 🙂
      Take care,
      CG

      • I wish I coud DO something to fix it! I hate not being able to fix things grrr. I don’t know what to do for you. What would you like? Is there anything I can say?

        • There are some things you can’t fix. My only option is to try and find a way to navigate the mental health system here. An optimist or therapist would call that part of my healing journey… Shame I’m a cynical realist 🙂

  4. CG I know exactly what you mean about being locked out and locked in…we are locked within our world and then locked out of the helping world. I cannot believe this deal with the police coming to pick you up….that experience alone sounds like more trauma in the making. Just terrible and not at all helpful to people who are already suffering. I would do everything I could to avoid that kind of help…I am so sad that you can’t even feel safe in calling them. Do you have anyone you can call that will help you get grounded in times like these? I pray that you do.
    This all sounds like a terrible mental health system available to you. It’s almost like it revictimizes the victim. Terrible.
    The hell you (and I) are locked into is not of our making. Keep in mind that we have incredible strength to have survived it to the point we have. WE are already strong women and men who have made it thru all the odds and road blocks put in our paths. We’re still here…today and fighting to heal. I know we can all do this but it does get so hard at times.
    My littles giggled when you talked about hugging a stuffed animal. Even tho it was for a short time I think you’ll want to do it again and then again. It does help comfort even tho it is kind of like throwing a cup of water on a blazing housefire.
    Do you have a regular therapist that is not the OT one? Maybe you could set up a plan with him/her and arrangements could be made for you for when times like this happen. I just wish there was a better way for you to access help during times like these.
    Has this period passed for you yet or is it still in full swing? I pray your ok! BIG HUGS!

    • Hi Nansie,

      I wish I knew what to do, to make the mental health system here work for me. I try it, get burned and run away for several months, before going into another downward spiral. I keep thinking that I should be smart enough to figure it out. But then, the only times I’ve actually gotten assistance from them, is when the angry ones come forward and start yelling. That’s too scary.

      I freely admit that I have culpability in not getting care. I should react differently, or show how bad things are, or something. I don’t know. Tonight has been difficult. I’m regularly forgetting who I am, where I am and what century it is. My mind is a blank slate, then I get a brief flicker of something, before descending back into confusion, then the comfort of oblivion.

      I think I survived out of stubbornness, rather than strength 🙂 I suppose it could be argued that they are one and the same… not sure. I see the strength in the healing community though. The struggles, the validation, the acceptance, and through it all strength. I was talking to someone the other day who is going through a rough time, I told them that they are an incredible person, but that they are also incredibly human, so need love and support to help them through…

      I think we cried when holding the stuffed toy, I’m not sure.

      Yes, I have a therapist who I see outside of the public mental health system. She’s really good. I think we trust her… although some of us hate her 🙂 Because she is an individual therapist, she has no after hours assistance available… that’s what the mental health crisis team is for.

      I’ll find a way through, I always do.

      Take care… remember what I said about taking it easy this weekend! Lots of taking good care of you…
      CG

      • I am going to try and take it easy this weekend. I know exactly what you mean by confusion/oblivion. I visit that often. The more therapy I get the harder it gets to maintain my focus for long periods of time. There is not a day that goes by that I remember it all in a clear and flowing way. UGH. Maybe your T could give you some guidance with this mental health system you deal with? She probly knows an angle it can be worked? I wish it was easier for you. Maybe you could bring forward your “caretaker” part and have her set out on this mission? Just a thought. I know sometimes I have to pull different parts out for different projects. Stuffed animals are awesome. Soft and cuddley and so non-threatening. I hug them to the middle of my chest where the little ones can really feel close to them. Someone told me once that all soft stuffed animals had magic powers…they make little kids feel better and safe again. I always think of that.
        I know I have parts that will advocate for my little ones if I need them to. I only have my T for help but he is available to me anytime. He is great about returning calls. I have not let myself spiral downward into a real needy place YET. I am afraid to…also embarassed that I have that much weakness inside waiting to come out. I don’t like being real vulnerable and needy of someone else to take care of me. I panic at the thought of that. My inner system is supposed to take care of all that for me but as therapy goes on the system is supposed to break down little by little so I can heal. That scares me too.
        I am very detached from my last post. I see it as a technical issue right now with no feelings attached or stirred up within. This makes it easier to deal with for now. Usually information comes back to me this way…as just information with no feelings attached. For now this is easier than it will be in time when the feelings come back. My home and daily predictable routine are what makes me feel the most safe. Growing up life was so unpredictable and unsafe so I really gravitate toward hubby’s and my predictable and sometimes boring life. But it works for me.
        One thing I want to mention about trust. Because we instictively have so much trouble trusting that we, I have to make an effort to trust people when they deserve to be trusted. Part of trust is always a leap of faith…that’s the hard part. But when I got to know my husband I had to have a talk with myself about building up trust for him. I wasn’t let down either…best thing I ever did but I had to work at it and talk to myself regularly. I knew he was a good man and deserved this trust. Same with my T…I have to let go and trust this guy…he knows what he’s doing and he will take good care of me. I fight to remind parts of this….when they start their isolating and insecure feelings. Sometimes children just have to be told and then experience it in order to really learn it. Children basically learn from doing and seeing consistance. I try to keep that in mind with them but I am still gentle with them. But there are times when they have to be nudged along. I remind the little parts that even if they aren’t getting individual attention with him and building their own relationship with them that they can still experience it thru me. AND that I am taking care of them now and they will get all of their needs met eventually as I learn how to do this. I will not let them down or let them get hurt…they will always be safe with me. I don’t let awful things happen to little kids. So this is an ongoing regular conversation I have with them in my head. Even tho the littles are full of “buts, ands or ifs” I remind them that the bottom line is they are her with ME now and are safe at all times. And they do need to hear it over and over again. When I feel like I am spiralling downward I repetitively remind everyone in my head that we are here, at home and safe…none of this is taking place now nor will it ever again and we are safe within these walls.
        I do have days where I cry and am very disorganized inside. I try to just muttle thru them telling myself that tomorrow things will be better and easier. My fight is to just hang in there thru it all, reexperience it and this time process it all properly….the way it should have been back then. Sounds easy maybe? Hardest thing I have ever done. At times there are feelings that are unbearable…can you say “xanax”? I can and do. I don’t call my T much…I am saving that for the real tough stuff. I know it is coming so I am kinda saving up my calls to him.
        Sometimes I feel like my life has been one big tragedy. I also know that it will get better tho. I feel like without therapy I will be doomed to live it forever…with therapy comes hope and healing. It’s hard work but the end will be there at some point…I know this in my heart. I just have to do my part in getting thru it all.
        I don’t know if any of this helps you and your mind set on all of this pain. I’m sending you good thoughts and prayers. We’ve gotten this far and we can go the rest of the way…all of us!

        • Hi Nansie,

          I’m really sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner… concentration has not been my strength lately.

          I’ve been told that there is great strength in vulnerability… especially showing it. I’m not in a place where I can experience that, or feel comfortable with it; but I do believe it. Our therapists are there to guide us through that vulnerability and confusion. We have to trust them and us.

          I hope you did have a quite weekend. The soft toys sound like a good grounding and soothing thing to do.

          Take care and thank you for commenting,
          CG

  5. dear castor, i’m sorry you’ve been suffering so much. and your mental health system does sound terrifying. i hope that as your trust deepens with your therapists, that you are able to develop plans that help you feel safer. that there are better avenues available to you than that tank environment. it does sound retraumatizing.

    but i agree, it does sound like huge progress you’ve been going through lately. one, that your nighttime dissociation has lifted enough so that you can see what you go through at night. in my experience, the ability to weep is a good thing. is part of the healing and grieving. and two, i think it’s so important that you’ve been able to hold a stuffed animal lately! that’s wonderful! in my experience, a huge part of healing isn’t so much getting to the place where i don’t feel pain, but getting to the point where i’ve developed enough tools, inwardly and outwardly, that i have resources to pull from when the pain comes.

    reading your post reminded me of another post i read today. did you see dr. kathleen young’s post recently on survivor strengths? she said we often focus on our deficits, and so do our therapists unfortunately, and not enough balance by focusing on our strengths also. i don’t know if this will be helpful to you, but here’s the link in case you didn’t see it:

    http://drkathleenyoung.wordpress.com/2010/11/12/trauma-survivor-strengths/

    wishing you peace in your heart, and for all of you~ will be thinking of you and sending healing, safe thoughts your way~~~

    • Hi katie,

      I’m so sorry I didn’t reply to your comment sooner… I didn’t realise how out-of-it I’ve been lately.

      I’m trying to find a way to get the mental health system to work for me, but I’m not quite sure how yet. Like most big organisations, it seems like an unstoppable force that is all too willing to consume you, and spit you out. Despite that, I know there are incredibly dedicated and talented people working within the system, doing the absolute best they can for their clients.

      The stuffed animal incident was important. I’m aware I cried while holding it, which I’m sure was soooo odd to the friend I was talking to at the time 🙂

      I totally agree with your take on healing. We will always experience pain of some sort… even the healthiest of people experience pain as part of usual, everyday living. What we need, is the resources to help us cope with the usual bumps that life throws our way.

      Yes, Dr Kathleen Young’s blog is one of the few therapist blogs I regularly read. She offers insight from a place of empathy and professionalism.

      Thank you for your kindness katie… kindness helps me breathe.
      Sending positive thoughts your way…
      Take care,
      CG

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