Street

I recently came across a video by James Nares called Street… What struck me about the clip wasn’t its beauty – although it is visually stunning; instead, what hooked me into watching it, was how well it describes a state of dissociation that I sometimes experience.  I consider it a form of derealisation, but this might be inaccurate… it’s a disconnect from the rest of the world… feeling as if I’m there, but standing back from my eyes, observing.  At times it can be a little scary, as it feels as if I have no control over what is happening, and that my actions are running on auto-pilot… other times, that lack of control can be calming, and serene…

If you look at the clip, you’ll notice that there is little connection between the people being filmed, and the camera… no one seems to look into the camera to meet your eye.  This is also an important aspect of my dissociation… an inability to connect with the people around me… a feeling almost as if I’m gliding through the world, totally invisible, even when in plain sight… It feels as if no one can touch me, and I can’t touch anyone…

The slow motion effect shows how it feels as if the world is slowing down, and yet speeding up at the same time… It seems as if everyone is walking around, totally oblivious to the disaster that is about to happen, or the pain that I’m experiencing.  What’s worse, is that I’m incapable of expressing that pain, or imminent disaster, in any meaningful way…

It is often this state of being, that would often lead to the worst of my self-injury…

Self-injury could break through the derealisation, and make the world seem real again… make me seem real again…

The problem is, the self-injury added to the pain that created the derealisation to begin with… it became a self-fulfilling cycle of dysfunction, pain, and confusion.  Thankfully, I’ve managed to stop that form of self-injury… I just wish I could say the same for the disordered eating.

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Now playing: Brooke Fraser – Scarlet

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Falling

When I returned from Wellington, I thought I was making my way out of the abyss.  Things seemed more settled, and my thinking clearer.

I was wrong.

During the past week I have reconnected with dysfunctional people from my past; and set-up emotional scenarios which mirror different aspects of my past.

I’m a train wreck.

I’m trying to live in the present, and failing.  The past has begun haunting me with a vengeance.

I would tell you how my week has been; but I don’t know, it’s a blank.  I see from my tweets that there was a problem over the weekend with a neighbour… my hair has been cut… I see from emails that I was concerned about friends… I had Christmas cards to put in the post today, so things were getting done… I was appearing normal.  But, I don’t remember it.  There’s jumbled glimpses of other things… putting on trackies when I was getting cold talking to a friend on the phone Friday night… It’s Monday, right? That means I need to get the rubbish ready to put out tomorrow… Panic in the mall on Saturday… I hate Allison… Take the team at work to afternoon tea on Thursday, but tell them they can go downtown for an hour if they want – one small way I can make up for them not getting a bonus… I don’t trust anyone…  Why is our work Christmas function in a sports bar?

Just a mess of thought fragments being tossed around my head.

I was scrolling through my YouTube playlists, and came across this piece which calmed me briefly…

If I’m falling, I wonder where I’ll land?

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Now playing: Arvo Part – Spiegel Im Spiegel
via FoxyTunes

Murmuration

I came across the word “murmuration” today, and stumbled across this video.  I don’t know if it’s the music, the dance of the starlings, or both… but I found it calming, so thought I’d share it.

Thanks to Frank and the @postsecret team for the tweet that piqued my interest.

Late edit: If you hadn’t already tried it, it’s great to watch in full-screen 🙂

Amazing Grace

It’s considered to be one of the most recognisable songs in the English-speaking world.  It’s also the only song that is almost guaranteed to make me cry.

If you’re not familiar with the origins of Amazing Grace, it was written by John Newton, an English poet and clergyman, and is a song of forgiveness and redemption.  It is considered to be a Christian hymn, and is sometimes played at funerals, often by a solo bagpiper.  John Newton was involved in the slave trade; but on a particularly rough voyage, he began his spiritual journey.  Amazing Grace was written for a New Years Day service in 1773; and has been known to be sung to over 20 different melodies, as it is unknown if the there was any music to accompany it on début.  It’s now most closely associated with the tune “New Britain”, and can be sung acapella, with music, or as an instrumental.

What I find interesting about this song, is that despite it’s Christian overtones, I still strongly identify with it.  I don’t believe that I will ever be forgiven for what I have done, or that I will ever be redeemed; instead, for me, the song is about grief.  It’s about pain and releasing that pain.  It’s about death.

There are many versions of the song available… some of the more popular ones on YouTube are by the Celtic Women, Elvis Presley, British Airways Pipe Band and Hayley Westernra (a fellow kiwi).  One of my favourite vocal versions is by LeAnn Rimes…

I’m unsure about the reasons why I am seeking this song out at the moment.  I’m still in a very bad place, and this is one of the songs that I want played at my funeral – another is by ABBA, just to make people laugh.  So am I adding to the pit that I am in by listening to this, or am I releasing the grief and pain that I feel?  I’m not really sure.

There are so many thoughts floating through my head, that it’s difficult to make sense of them.  I know that I’m sucked dry.  I’ve been running on empty for about four months now, and it doesn’t look as if it’s going to improve any time soon.  I know my safety is a huge issue, and I was expecting Allison to send me to hospital last week… instead there was a misunderstanding, and I shut down.  Any glimmers of trust that were starting to be built, have gone.

I’m trying not to be reactionary, but it’s difficult.  After the session on Friday, I created this Polyvore set…
No one is perfect
What’s interesting, is that the rabbit is looking in a mirror… is the set saying that Allison was at fault, I was, or we both were?  Is this about me seeing the reflection of my dysfunctional behaviour, and not liking it?  Or is it a cute graphic about no one being perfect, no matter how hard we try?  I wish I knew…

Myth of high functioning

I’m often described by psychiatrists as high functioning.  They arrive at this conclusion through my ability to work, pay my bills and turn up to appointments.  This perception is consistent with how most of the people that I interact with on a daily basis, view me.  But, that’s only part of the picture.

High functioning is often associated with being driven, focused and goal orientated.  I can be all of that… and more.

The problem is that when I’m focused and goal orientated, I’m ONLY that.  There’s no balancing influence from any other part of my being.  I skip breaks at work, I work longer, I do work at home… all of this adds to the focus on work, to the exclusion of everything else.

Then something snaps, and I lose time.  I wake up in strange places.  My thoughts start coming in sing-song poetry.  And I get hurt.

But the hurt doesn’t matter; because, as soon as I wake up, I’m high functioning again.

It becomes a cycle.  All I remember is the high functioning work.

This is the place I’ve been in for the last fortnight, or so.  It feels like my only reality.  I don’t have access to anything to do with healing.  I don’t have access to anything, unless it’s for work.   I don’t care that there is nothing but work.

I know I’m losing time.  But because I don’t have any sense of that as being distressing in any way, I really don’t see the problem.

I’ve been in this place before, but not for this long.  It’s usually associated with denial, but I’m fully aware that there has been abuse in the past… I’m just not connected to it in any way.  But then, as a contradiction, I watched this flash mob video yesterday morning (which is aimed at raising awareness of child trafficking, sex slavery and exploitation), and cried.

I’ve always liked Annie Lennox, but never really connected to this song until I heard it in this context. The girl in the video is ignored, despite holding a rather large sign. Then, people come in to be with her, before leaving her again… alone to deal with the world around her. People will soon forget that anything happened, and nothing will change.

Some of the lyrics touched a nerve…

I wish that I could be that bird
And fly away from here

and then…

For I am just a troubled soul
Who’s weighted…
Weighted to the ground
Give me the strength to carry on
Till I can lay my burden down
Give me the strength to lay this burden down down down
Give me the strength to lay it down

But my my I feel so low
My my where do I go?
My my what do I know?
My my we reap what we sow
They always said that you knew best
But this little bird’s fallen out of that nest now
I’ve got a feeling that it might have been blessed
So I’ve just got to put these wings to test

Then, when the girl was left alone, there was a change to the lyrics, which highlight the isolation that is felt…

My my I feel so alone
My my where do I go?

You would think these tears would mean something, some connection; but they don’t. All there is, is an intellectual reasoning as to why the video moved me to tears. I’m not even aware of the reason for the tears now, or that it was “me” crying them. I can now watch the video with no emotion. It’s a puzzle to work out, rather than to connect to.

I know this state is dangerous, but because I’m not connected to anything, I don’t get a sense of urgency to alter what is happening.  Maybe high functioning isn’t a myth, but for me, I get a sense that it’s lonely.  But don’t worry, I’m not connected to that feeling for long either… time for more work.

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Now playing: Pink – Don’t Let Me Get Me
via FoxyTunes

Reflections: Part II

Yesterday I wrote a happy shiny summary on 2010.  It was accurate, and covered many of the positive things that had happened last year, but it wasn’t an accurate reflection.  The purpose of a reflective exercise is to put the past into a learning framework, and that’s what I failed to do.  By looking only at the positives, I sidelined and ignored the struggles I faced, and how those struggles influenced the positives.

When looking at the overall themes of last year, it’s easy to see that I was concentrating on safety and consistency.  To me, these issues are intertwined.  I’m at a stage in my healing where I need a consistent structure in order to find safety.  If this structure is absent, as it was when my therapeutic relationship with Liz disintegrated, and my friendship with Matthew fell apart; there were serious consequences for my safety.  I lost an anchor that I had relied on – no matter how dysfunctional it was, and I allowed it to push me into a downward spiral.  This was even more evident, when my cynical work friend started having an affair with a married man.  The triggers associated with the relationship were too close to my parents relationship, that I was unable to relax around her like I used to.  Unlike the rupture with Liz and Matthew, I was able to maintain an altered friendship with my work friend.  The key difference, was that with Liz and Matthew there was hurt in the present, whereas I had the awareness to realise that my work friend wasn’t hurting me directly in the past or present.  I may not agree with her moral choices, but the friendship was maintained, if somewhat modified.

Throughout the year, I’ve had ACC decisions hanging over my head.  This was one of the drivers which lead to my suicide attempt, and to my withdrawal from life.  The thought of a faceless case manager deciding my therapeutic fate, without having ever met me, basically did my head in.  This is a fairly consistent story across many sensitive claims clients.  The power imbalance in favour of ACC, is such a trigger to the old abusive situations, that it’s difficult to work your way through to a rational interaction with them.  Despite my fears, the assessing psychiatrist was incredibly supportive and gentle.  He gave me a significant impairment which should hopefully allow me to access therapeutic care for awhile yet.

This leads onto the therapeutic relationship with Allison.  I’ve avoided talking about her and what happens in therapy, mainly because I want to protect the relationship.  As with any human relationship, there are ups and downs, but the strength of Allison, is her ability to encourage me to slow down.  My default coping mechanism is to dissociate and rush through anything that feels scary; but Allison is helping me to realise that this doesn’t have to happen.  I can tolerate the emotions that are a part of living.  They may scare me, and I may not understand what I hear within sessions; but what is said and felt, is me.  It’s that simple, and that complicated.

I still struggle with denial, minimisation, comparisons and other circular thinking.  But, Allison helps me to work through this through validation and acceptance.  She doesn’t encourage blind faith, and is open to questioning about the validity of what is being said, and her experience with dealing with what I present.  Not that I challenge her on a regular basis or anything… well, actually I don’t as much as I did.  There is a sense of respect towards Allison, even if there isn’t consistent trust.

Last year, I also briefly saw WPT and an occupational therapist.  They were at opposite ends of the helpful spectrum… WPT helped me realise that by saying how strong the young ones within the system were, I was re-enforcing the idea that they were meant to stay strong and protect me.  This was so obvious, but yet, I thought I was showing respect by mentioning their strength.  But the young ones need care, not more pressure.  In contrast, the occupational therapist was not a good therapeutic match.  She reminded me of a cross between a cheerleader and an unskilled kindergarten teacher – lots of loud enthusiastic talk, with very little substance or experience.  Thankfully she discharged me after meeting one of the three goals we’d established.

One of the things that worried me about seeing these other therapists, was that I wondered if my life would revolve around therapy and healing.  Considering my work commitments; this would be unlikely, and it would probably have been helpful if they had worked out.  But, there was that nagging fear that I would start to define myself and my life through my mental health.  Which when I consider that I spent so much time this year caught up in self injury, the change of focus to healing, might have been a good thing!

Yes, my old nemesis… self injury.  It also bumped into my suicidal ideation and intent this year, which wasn’t a pretty sight or feeling.  But a shock can sometimes be good for the system, and near the end of last year, I got one.  It wasn’t the suicide attempt, but instead the health of a friend bringing up all sorts of memories.  Consequences, accountability, fears and reality all collided.  Repercussions were felt throughout the system, and as a result, one dangerous form of self injury has been largely controlled.  There is yet to be any sense of accomplishment about this, and there is a fear that the triggering presence of the mother is going to release a tidal wave of self injury this weekend.  All I can do is plan for it not to happen…

So much of my life now, is about trying to live from moment to moment.  I had hoped to be further along in my healing than this by now, but I’m not.  This isn’t to take away from the accomplishments that I have achieved, but rather a sense of “not again”.  This Christmas, I did cope better than the previous year; but then I had hayfever, so could barely speak or raise my head.  The hayfever has eased, and with that, the triggering memories and intolerance of the mother has returned.  The mother has been here two weeks, and that’s about three weeks too long.  Wish me luck for the rest of the week…

As so much of my year has been on exploring the creative arts, I thought I’d do the following summaries of the positive, and difficult work that I’ve been doing.  As a warning, the second (Polyvore) video may trigger.

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Now playing: The Beatles – Here Comes The Sun
via FoxyTunes

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Now playing: Yo-Yo Ma – Unaccompanied Cello Suite No. 5 in C minor, BWV 1011: IV. Sarabande
via FoxyTunes