THIS IS A LOW

Another candid share. I believe in honest blogging without any filter, so this is what I just sent, in desperation, to my therapist. Warning.** Triggering content- This is written by someone (me) while experiencing severe depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation/self-harm cravings. Only read if you feel strong enough ❤


“I’m emailing again because I need to communicate, but I only want it to be with you, and that’s because you’re my psychologist and you understand and have proven you understand again and again. 

I have no time for my friends (truthfully) and only want to communicate with you. I’ve done as much family interacting as I can muster for one day. I’ve shut social media down and feel nothing that I’d normally feel about anything or anyone. 

The world doesn’t understand what happens in here *pointing to head*

I’m tired of humanity. I’m tired of this lack of belonging and sheer inept uselessness I feel about myself and the contribution I make by being alive. I’m not meant to be here, living like this.

The conflict and chasm between what I feel about myself and who people think I am is cavernous.

My risks are higher lately. I feel the risk evelating, then only to subside (to lull me into a false sense of security) before the water level rises again. I don’t even cough or sputter when the water gets up to my face. ‘Learned helplessness’ is what you’d call it.

Right on the base of my own hierarchy of needs would be the basics of staying alive. That’s enough. Self actualisation isn’t even on my radar anymore. 

Depression has set in. The depersonalisation leads me to feel as if I am already dead so literal death seems like the natural choice.

Hubby didn’t go out today. I told him he couldn’t, but tomorrow he can (as if a day will make all the difference?) 

Will I not feel as suicidally desperate tomorrow? Who knows.

I don’t care about much right now. My emotions are numb. I need sleep and to not be a part of this body. I want to poison myself and poison the badness away and to never have to feel anything ever again.

Hope? No chance.

But I can’t attempt again. Because that’s what I promised. 

Why do I make these fucking promises? 

Because mums can’t *morally* take their own life, because it’s not fair to inflict the damage on those depending on you. 

Yeah yeah. I know all the theory.

I really fucking long to though. 

I just don’t know how much more toleration for this I have left.”

SummerSHINES© 

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SMILEY SADNESS

The truest sentence that I know, is that a smile can conceal great sadness.

Speaking from my own experience, I don’t only cry when I’m sad and only smile when I’m happy. It just isn’t that simple.

I have perfected the art of smiling sadness. I suppose you could say it’s a semi-conscious process. I have to put some effort into it, but the effort is instinctive and done by me more or less on auto-pilot.

As a child I’d feel sad, but be told “don’t be sad, be happy” and the way I demonstrated to them that I’d ‘learned my lesson’ and conformed to what they expected, was to smile.

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A smile is the universal non-verbal sign for happiness, approval, social attunement.

So used to smiling when unhappy am I, (due to this parental indoctrination & brainwashing), that I still now often automatically smile when I feel sad, even when I’m absolutely alone. I don’t need any audience present to compel me to smile when unhappy, I just do it. End of. And they lived happily ever after. etc.

I caught myself doing this a few minutes ago when lying alone in my outdoorsy bed shed (so called because it’s a shed in my garden, with a bed in it!- my sanctuary away from the world.  And I thought, why the actual fuck am I smiling?? I’m feeling bloody AWFUL here. Vulnerable. Low. Empty. Frustrated. Needy. Insecure. Why on earth smile about it?! But then I reasoned, I am not smiling with unbridled enjoyment at my current state of melancholic moodology. I am really just smiling to conceal exactly how sad I really feel, at a time when no fucker can see my face. How does that work? Why summer!? Why!?

I am so good at smiling when I’m unhappy that I spend a lot of my time doing just that-smiling whilst inwardly wilting and sinking and drowning and frowning. I like to think I’m not a fake person. I like to think I am authentic and share my emotions readily and openly and honestly with others- and verbally, I very much do. I am extremely honest and I usually always tell people how I’m really feeling, BUT, I can say all that crap feelingy stuff with a grateful smile plastered all over my face, and that totally does not resonate with what is going on underneath. I say the honest stuff, but in a non-verbal way that communicates the polar opposite of that.

‘Incongruence’ is the posh word for it. My face is incongruent (mis-matched) with my mood.

People say they don’t find me too draining, because (paraphrasing) I’m a ‘cheerful sort of depressive’ and see the humour in my state of mental mis-wiring .

I do actively like to be a non-draining friend to my friends. That’s important to me as I don’t want to drive my friends away, so I suppose I do try and put my best foot forward and not linger too long on the shit stuff, but actually physically smiling to myself when I’m totally alone and unwatched and inwardly feeling terrible IN A GARDEN SHED no less, is just bonkers, isn’t it?

I find the line between sadness and smiles to be paper thin, as is the line between happiness and it’s supposed opposite, pain.

Surges of happiness and euphoria and gratitude, [which to me are experienced particularly intensely due to my BPD], invariably invoke stabbings of pain and sadness- the sad yang to my happy yin.

What they should have taught me at home and at school though, is that life is far more than just discrete categorisations of happy and sad. A sense of one can be coloured and polluted by the sense of an other.

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You can cry happy tears, and/or you can smile the fuck out your sadness. I’ve had to learn all that over the last 36 years on this strange planet.

There is usually some sadness tucked behind my smile, and often a freeing sense of release (that brings accompanying euphoric feelings) when I am acknowledging and sitting with my feelings of sadness, so the confused emotional mix is there, ready to make you smile when alone in garden sheds when you’re feeling shit.

Smiling when you’re sad might well be about (learned) social concealment of genuine emotion to enhance relationships with other humans- it might alternatively be a subconscious attempt to change your mood by manipulating your facial expressions. Smiling when you’re sad is (one of the) key skills of emotional regulation in DBT Skills, a psychological treatment for people with BPD, as it physiologically tricks the brain into thinking we are happy and secure, when we’re actually in pain and feeling threatened. Facial expressions give feedback to the brain about what is happening in the outside environment, so maybe smiling when we feel shit is a good way of diffusing all that internal crap-ness. Or maybe, it is just that emotion is so damn complex that many conflicting emotions can simultaneously be firing off in your brain all at once so you can’t help but smile, no matter what might be happening to you psychologically.

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Whatever the reason, maybe next time I catch myself smiling when feeling sad in the shed, I’ll experiment with allowing my natural emotion to etch-a-sketch its way onto my face, and see what happens to my mood state then.

I shall report back. But until then I shall end this post with a genuine smile, at my enjoyment of my mental health blogging, and how it can make sense of the senseless (or I might just cry about that too) :P

summerSHINES©

Post-Traumatic SPARKLE

Everyone has heard of PTSD. But not everyone had heard of PTSS (most probably because I literally just made it up!).

On my email signature I describe myself as a ‘mental health blogger of post-traumatic sparkle’ @summerstartstoshine etc, and ”PTSS’ is the new phenomenon that I totally just made up, which is essentially a fancier and sparklier way of describing post-traumatic growth.

PTSS is post-traumatic-sparkle syndrome :)

I think I have this. I invented it 😉

I’m a person who believes in post-traumatic GROWTH, as well as post-traumatic stress.

Since the box of horrors opened in my subconscious mind, making my traumatic memories conscious and very much out there, I have suffered one hell of a lot of post-traumatic STRESS. I have experienced many other mental health-ish things beginning with the letter ‘S’ besides stress.

Suicide (ideation, preoccupation, attempts.)

Self-harm (to relieve tension enough to deal with the above.)

Silence and shunning (when I accused my perpetrators of their crimes and they responded with rejection.)

All of those things are awful things for anyone to deal with and cope with, but a relatively new thing to come out of my trauma is something which is really quite fabulous is……S.P.A.R.K.L.E.

People who are early on in their post-traumatic healing will most probably get annoyed at me for saying there is anything at all sparkly or growth oriented about living with the psychological and physical effects of a traumatic history, but please reserve judgement till you’ve the post.

I hear you. I know what trauma does to you. I know all of the awfulness of it first hand. I am not a trauma victim who hasn’t suffered, believe me. I would NEVER minimise trauma. And a couple of years ago I would have scoffed at the concept of post-traumatic sparkling, because I was so poorly back then, literally fighting for my life.

I nearly died and that wasn’t at all sparkly.

I have HATED my trauma history and everything about it almost as much as I hate the abhorrent people who did this to me.

I have lived trauma. I am shaped by it. I have hated and despised my past and have wanted to die because of it. In truth, some days, I still wish I could.

Wishing I could die is my NORMAL. But I made my no suicide attempt pact with my hubby, and I promise to stick to that always.

So my basic choice is, what the hell do I do with a life where I don’t really want to be here at all; chronically, strongly, and all the time? How do I tolerate living with a near constant death wish?

Well…..my answer is, I create meaning from it and purpose. I make lemonade from these sour face-pulling life lemons. I taste the lemon, but instead of spitting it out, I think these are the most perfectly awesomely designed ingredients to make the most zingiest most refreshing and most delicately and beautifully tasting lemonade EVER.

I want to create something GREAT out of something miserable.

I want to turn the evilest black to the purest and most innocent white.

In order for me to do that, I am having to learn to sparkle in whatever way I can. I am having to create something, when once there was nothing. There is no handbook for this. I’m carving out my own niche.

I have learned it is OK to shine, and the only people who have a vested interest in preventing me doing that are those who perpetrated those dreadful acts in the first place.

Another thing I’ve noticed is how survivors (including myself) often look towards others for permission to shine, because we are so used to having our inner light dimmed by very unshiny people. But the people who try and do that are, I believe, only doing it because they are stuck in their own darkness, so the only way they can feel any better about that is by dragging everyone else down to the murky depths with them.

Why do we need to be granted permission from others to shine? We are adults and can make our own decisions, right?

I’m having to make some important decisions myself lately about my future and how I choose to move forward. At every decision point I will aim to choose the sparkly way-(the PTSS way).

It really matters to me that I use my trauma and I own it.

I have assimilated trauma into my identity, but not in a victim way. I prefer to try and focus my attention on the positive aspects of my trauma history (on my better days when that is possible.)  I prefer to marvel at my own strength, rather than dwell on the extent I’m broken. I aim to live with a strong sense of survivor pride instilled into my character. I tell my story, because I am proud at what I was able to survive, and because I believe everyone should find their voice, if they want to find it and know it is there.

My intention is not to tell people my story so they say POOR YOU. I want them instead to say BRAVE YOU! I want people to know just how much a human is capable of tolerating without breaking. I want people to not take for granted the gift of safety. I want parents to know how precious their children are and what a privilege it is to care for and raise a child. I want people who are survivors to not feel limited by their history. I want it to be OK to share your truth without fear that people will back off if they know what happened and what exactly you endured.

I am gutted I was a victim, but I am proud of how much of a resilient survivor I am. I am proud of all of you too!

Please believe me when I say it IS possible to sparkle after trauma. It IS possible to use your pain and transform it into personal contributions you can make that benefit both individuals and wider society.

My trauma is what made me. Like hell am I gonna let it break me.

Without my traumatic history and motivation to help other survivors I wouldn’t be making the contributions to benefit others that I’m making now. Without my trauma I wouldn’t have the same drive and persistence and inner motivation. Without my own trauma experience, I wouldn’t know how on earth to support others going through similar difficulties. I’d have no mission- no purpose that means quite as much as this does.

Of course I wish what happened hadn’t happened. Of course! But it has happened. And I will make good from it.

I suggest to all survivors that we try and retain hope and faith that we can come back from what happened to us, stronger and fighting. If not now, eventually.

I give that message to myself too, hoping I remember this on my low days when everything gets on top of me and I find it almost impossible to believe the words I’m typing now.

I’m healing, but I’m not healed yet.

I’m broken, but my repair WILL happen.

I’m ok today. Tomorrow is a mystery. My personal hell is behind me.

I’ll be alright. That stuff is over now.

It is time for summer to shine.

Here are some happy summery images I found on tumblr… 😊

SummerSHINES ©

 

 

 

LONELINESS: THE QUIETEST EXPOSION

Loneliness is the quietest explosion you’ll ever [not] hear

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It explodes peacefully in never-ending waves; breaking against the shoreline of our hearts

There is no sound of exploding on the outside

The sound is all on the inside

We are alone and at one with that sound

The hurt sits concealed and contained under our sagging skin

No one knows we are feeling lonely, unless we say we are

But we don’t say we are, do we

Loneliness is something which is felt, but rarely expressed or shared

Maybe you can imagine I’m lonely by the bowed head, the down-turned once sparkling now grey eyes, the way my shoulders slump and my wrists turn inward- protecting myself, not letting anybody in; because we don’t expect anyone to want to be let in

Or maybe you are too busy to notice me, after all I am invisible, aren’t I?

or at least I feel I am

That herd and that in-group you speak about, I’m not part of that

I sit outside of that circle

not by choice

I know I don’t belong here

But all I ever want is to be invited in

Loneliness fills my head up with lonely thoughts, lonely feelings, and lonely sensations

All I see ahead is nothingness

All I hear is the sound of a little child crying in the gloom

All I taste in my mouth is disgust as I reject and spit out my own revolting company

All I touch is the surface of one hand with the fingertip of another

All I crave is to hold someone else’s hand for comfort, or to feel you embrace me with warm welcoming arms that tell me “I’m here for you, and don’t worry. I’m not going anywhere”

All I feel is afraid. Afraid that this feeling will persist and linger on for infinity

Sometimes I am alone and OK with being alone

But being ‘lonely’ is a different thing altogether

I can feel lonely when I am in conversation with you

Loneliness is an ache, a weeping wound, a squiggly mess of jumbled up unwelcome rubbish

At it’s worst, the loneliness of my mental illness causes me to wonder why I even exist at all

Why am I here? I ponder,

But I know there is a reason for my being here

I bare all when I write, just so people can become aware they are not alone

Please know you are NOT the only one

There is me too

and I am feeling what you’re feeling

I feel for you, feeling the things you feel

I fully know what you feel

Why? because I feel the exact same inner explosions pulse through me

Our journeys are similar even though we travel along different pathways

We are alone, together

Exploding, but surviving

To the rest of you, seek out the lonely ones

You don’t know what you’re missing out on if you don’t

Watch for the quiet explosion of loneliness reflecting in the eyes of the people around you

If you’re the one doing the silent exploding, please know you are NOT the only one

Let’s be alone, but together in that aloneness

summerSHINES©

 

 

 

 

LOTS OF LEMONS

Life is currently uncomfortable. It always is, to some degree, at least some of the time. Sometimes it is really uncomfortable all of the time, and other times it is mildly uncomfortable, bits of the time.

Happiness is nothing else but a temporary escape from the discomfort of life and living. Suicide is something contemplated by people when life is too hard for too long.

I am someone who experiences a wide range of moods and emotions in their rawest acutest purest undiluted and strongest form, and they change almost all the time, or sometimes they resistantly stay in a particular groove, not of my choosing. That isn’t just a blogger’s claim. It is true. Hence my official psychiatric diagnosis of ’emotionally unstable PD’.

I am a human spirit in it’s purest form.

There is no tonic to water down my personality. I am just gin.

There is no coke; I am just neat vodka amidst a national shortage of ice cubes.

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There is no watering down. No mixers. No ice. But life sure gives lots of lemons.

I am citrus splashes. I am eye wateringly fruit-infused and carry an acidic punch.

lemon

I am as sour as I am sweet.

I am bitter, yep. But not in a cloudy bitter lemon, lemonade mixer way, but in an angry way. There is no disguising my true feelings on metaphors.

I am crystal clear and say what I feel and voice my thoughts.

My thoughts right now are that life is horrible. Life is hard. Life really HURTS….a lot. I am weary of this thing called life, that I am ‘supposed’ to be grateful for.

I was not caught up in the Manchester terror attacks. That meant I felt grateful initially. But a few days on, I feel trapped by life yet again. I feel clamped into an uncomfortable position. Life is so bloody difficult. Yet I’m aware I am supposedly lucky to be alive.

I am lucky I am here to raise my children. They need me and I need them. I am lucky to share my life with my soulmate, confidante and best friend, my husband.

The challenges don’t let up though. My pain does NOT lessen. It just fades a little, sometimes, usually when I am immersed in something with my whole mind, body, and soul.

Lately I have escaped from the difficult thoughts I want to escape from via excessive busy-ness. I have made sure I have been incredibly productive and incredibly caught up in focussed tasks that require  lot of physical effort and mental concentration, also creativity and problem solving. I have basically spent THREE whole days dismantling everything in the house in terms of possessions, and decluttering and reorganising and shifting and blitzing and cleaning. This is what I tend to do when I have troublesome thoughts that just sit there and refuse to budge. I still haven’t finished these tasks where my ultimate aim is perfection and nothing less, but I am taking a mini break today, as my exhaustion has be listened to, I guess.

The depression sets in as soon as my activity stops though.

I am trying to push bad feelings away. I know what they are, but I am not especially keen on acknowledging them or writing about them or talking about them, because they are feelings I am not happy to admit to. I know that’s ‘wrong’ and it is out of character for me, but sometimes (especially when the kids are off on half-term holidays from school), I HAVE to put my difficult feelings on a mental shelf to be dealt with. that shelf is labelled “some other time”.

These feeling are for the “some other time” shelf.

The “some other time” is going to arrive tomorrow and the day after.

Tomorrow is therapy, and the day after that is the last time probably ever that I’ll see my psychiatrist. Two emotionally intense experiences coming up that are going to be testing emotionally, given how I’m feeling. I want to cry at the mere thought of them to be honest. But I will attend and I will cry, and maybe/hopefully talk a bit of sense inbetween the tears.

I’m just not in a good place. But I say that so often, that I wonder whether the good place I’m searching for exists? I know I have two main modes in life, “in a good place”, and “not in a good place” because I have described myself at being ‘at them’ at various points throughout my life.

Maybe the good place is to do with the relative ratio of lemons to my human spirit. My human spirit is contaminated by too many biting lemons inviting my attention all at once, at times when I’m not in a good place, and the ‘in a good place’ ratio is minimal lemons, and the only ones being present, being the old mellow ones, not new fresh life lemons of acute sourness.

Right now, there are lots of lemons, and my lemonade production line is functioning a bit awry.

Hopefully the therapy and psychiatrist double bill will help fix the current malfunctioning on the factory floor of my lemonade-producing production line and I’ll soon be making lemonade to rival Britvik’s finest. But tonight, I have a notable excess of lemons.

summerSHINES©

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