It’s time to untangle my thoughts and feelings, I think, after a bewildering few days. This morning was the head fuck shake, that is psychological therapy.

The headline news of the sesh today revolved around a very important and clinically significant fact. I have found out I wasn’t only of half the dose of anxiety meds that I thought I was taking for three weeks, but I’ve actually been on this incredibly low dose since MAY! [which, as now is October, is a jolly long time to be on what you know to be a very low dose of your meds].

It is disconcerting when your therapist lists things you have said and email exchanges that apparently have happened with your ex-psychiatrist that you seriously have no memory of ever happening.

The reason for this total amnesia, confusion and lack of ability to remain mentally present and attend to important details looks like it is dissociation.

Traumatised brains (like mine) are very liable to dissociative spells.

The lights are on, but mentally and cognitively speaking, no one is home.

Dissociation in simple terms is disconnection. Perceptions and sensations and all that incoming data are not processed in the usual ways, and you are left not feeling your usual self. Mild dissociation feels like daydreaming, and we all do it, but the type of dissociation I am talking about is more complex and pervasive and all encompassing/life destructive.

I mentally check out, and my attention funnels down into tiny separated elements. I cannot grasp the whole picture of something and the meaning of words. I hear words as separate words, but not hearing them as full sentences which are conveying meaning. It is perfectly possible for me (who is fairly academically bright) to listen to simple sentence and be absolutely unable to grasp their whole meaning until I have heard the sentence a few times.

Sometimes my brain gets overwhelmed and I can only listen to bits of words, or individual words. Sometimes people’s voices are far away, or other times they are booming and LOUD and make me want to crawl into dark nooks and crannies to hide from that sensory onslaught.

Sometimes when I read things I have to ask my husband to be the second reader, to grasp the whole message, but this has only happened at times when I am dissociated, which lately is extremely regular, and pretty much a key feature of my existence.

So, in this mentally/attentionally vacant and compromised state, I obviously had some email dialogue with my psychiatrist, which quickly tumbled out of my mind, never to be retrieved again, until now, when I am told I am apparently agreed this 50mg dose of anti-seizure drug, Pregabalin (Lyrica) all along!

This really disconcerts me. My actual words when I found this out via my psychologist were “are you FUCKING kidding me??!” [I was not in an eloquent mood today]. I was angry, and underlying my anger was anger at myself. It was not anger with them. It was anger that was self-directed, for my absolute THICKNESS at not recalling that this conversation/decision had apparently been made, all the way back in May, which feel like a lifetime ago.

No-one else but me would label myself as “thick”, and if someone else said it, I’d be hurt, but I can call myself thick, and I think that is more than okay because there is no other word in the English Language that I can think of (during times of emotion and surprise like that) that convey the full disgust and complete head-shaking regret that I feel, all associated with how my damn brain functions so much of the time.

Dissociation is a way to escape the inescapable. It is a brain shut down mechanism that enables people, and abused children especially, to survive the most terrifying and unimaginable traumatic horrors that can happen. Without dissociation, the terror in my childhood veins would have caused some kind of heart attack I’d imagine. That was how explosive my trauma felt to me, so naturally my brain numbed itself out, otherwise how on earth could I have survived in those awful circumstances, feeling pain as I did, and white knuckle fear.

Dissociation helped me, but now it hinders, because at the age of 36, my brain still does it! and it won’t stop doing it!

My brain will just not obey my orders, so the best way I could describe it is I sometimes have experiences that feel like early onset dementia, or MS or Parkinsons.

I feel old. So old.

I feel like a confused old lady instead of a savvy and smart 30-something mum of two.

I am ADAMANT that I had no knowledge of the psychiatrist instructing my GP to put me on 50mg Pregabalin, and they are adamant that (although I may not remember it), it did happen, so it is my memory that is at fault (due to dissociation), rather than them and how they communicated with me about medication options.

So I’m in a sitch where I’ve been on a shittily low dose of a drug since May, have had a very noticeable mental health relapse, stopped running, pulled back on volunteering, became suicidal, started self-harming again, and fell out with a few people, with the added mind pressure that I realise it is probably not someone else’s fault, but the fault truly lies within my own brain and how is dissociates.

If only I could exterminate exterminate the way my brain dissociates dissociates.

(I hope you are familiar with old episodes from the 1980’s of Dr Who, otherwise that reference will be totally lost on you)

That. my friends, is SHIT.

The shittiest pill I’ve attempted to swallow in a long time.

So basically, I have been on 50mg twice daily for months, thinking I was on double. Previously (at my ill-est and worsest, I took 200mg of lyrica three times a day, so being on only 100mg a day is very low for me, and was bound to destabilise me……… and it has.

So I start doing a bit of internet research earlier today about Pregabalin, only to find it is incredibly addictive, people easily become dependent on it, and it is a prescription drug that is commonly used for recreational use, (as the effect of it mimics the euphoria associated with opiates like heroin.)

I read that it is a drug that is incredibly difficult to come off, as the withdrawal effects are powerful, and bearing in mind I used to take 200mg of it, three times a day, (which is the maximum legal amount), 50mg twice a day was a significant drop.

“NO WONDER”, is the phrase that kept coming up.

No wonder you got so poorly.

No wonder you were edgy and depressed and irritable and self-harming and becoming increasingly hopeless and helpless and wanting your life to end.

You had drastically reduced a dose down of something that is (allegedly) as addictive as heroin. I am not going to get into debates with blog readers by the way about the specifics of this, or the various evidence for and against Pregabalin or other drugs. I will say that clearly in advance. All I know is I felt ill, because I was not getting my ‘fix’ of this drug.

I know now, with the benefit of hindsight and through observing my emotional state at different times, that when I am on Pregabalin my personality changes in a good way. I become mellow, and calm, and smiley, and protected by that euphoric feeling. I am friendlier, and more agreeable. The mood swings are not as erratic and I am more content to just ‘be’, and not be such a hypomanic hippo all the time with racing thoughts and agitation and insomnia etc.

My dissociation symptoms have worsened on this low dose of Pregabalin, without a doubt, because dissociation is a response to anxiety- so if we feel less threatened on a physiological level, it makes sense that we’d be less reactive to environmental stressors so there would be less need to mentally check out and space out and cognitively disconnect at times of high anxiety.

I changed from someone fairly oblivious and in my bubble (albeit a sedated one) of high dose Pregablin, to someone who was aware of every little detail and overwhelmed by it all; so at times when my senses became bombarded with incoming stimuli, I dissociated more and more, to the extent I had NO IDEA what pills I was taking.

I was so mentally foggy that for months I haven’t even had the cognitive ability to look at a packet and read the little numbers of it and take that information in.

I just see pills and I swallow them (only prescription ones, OBVS!).

That level of dissociative mindlessness is alarming to me. In truth, it’s been a big shake up for me.

I have sleepwalked through life, in a fog, and now I’m out of the fog and back on 100mg twice a day, I realise what’s been happening; all without me ever being aware.

I am taking now what my brain has been craving all the time, and I want more more more. I had already agreed (with my new psychiatrist) to try an increase to 150mg twice daily, possibly going up to 200mg twice a day, if I needed more.

But now I know the addictiveness of it and it’s similarity to providing effects that mimic heroin, I am thinking, yep, this drug sure makes me feel great, but do I really want to be addicted? and take it long-term?

I hate the thought of dependence and addiction on a prescription drug, but at the end of the day, Pregabalin is a literal life saver for me. I am suicidal and unstable without it. So if I want to be psychologically healthy, for me, Pregabalin is my best bet.

And the box it comes in also makes a very good top layer of a cardboard box (home-made) Egyptian pyramid! made for a school homework project! Here is a photo of it before my beautiful new dose of Pregabalin box was covered in tissue paper :D

I’m hooked, but I’m better on it, so this is what I’ll swallow.





This is a bare my soul post; written to my estranged family, straight from my sad and hurting heart. There’s stuff I need to release…. here it is.

“There’s so much I want to tell you. I don’t know if you already know it though.

Have you found my blog yet, I wonder? Have you sussed out what I’m doing? Has the penny dropped that the family I write about on ‘into the blue’ is YOU? All of you.

Do you know I raise money for local mental health services? (because I’m ill myself, and you made me so.) Do you know I’m a media volunteer for Mind? (because I’m mentally unwell, and you made me so). Do you know I attended parliament? (to raise awareness of the mental illness that your actions directly led me to develop.) Do you know I told my mental health story on the regional news? (The mental health story that wouldn’t even exist as a story, had you not created it.) Do you know that yesterday I attended an interview for a victim support charity? To hopefully join the board of trustees on the basis that I’m a victim myself, of crimes you  commited (yet completely deny happening.) Do you know I contributed to a policy document? about the importance of parents being educated about the potential grooming of their children by abusers, in response to you having groomed and abused me yourself? Do you know I was driven to study for those two psychology degrees in the first place, because I was trying to gain the self-knowledge and objective psychological knowledge necessary to understand you all?

Do you understand the impact you have had on my life and how it’s worked out?

Do you understand the way you made me suffer?

Do you believe me when you heard about my suicide attempts and psychiatric hospital/A&E admissions? Do you hold yourself accountable for placing me in a situation that felt inescapable in it’s pain? Or do you still just dismiss me as being a liar?

Don’t you get, that everything I have done since my breakdown, has been in response to dealing with the inner shit storm that you yourselves created? Can you wrap your heads around that fact? Or do you dismiss it as fictional?

My vocation in life is to support people who are vulnerable, and the only reason I have for going in that direction is your skill at raising someone this vulnerable, and this wounded; someone who is hurting this much.  Someone just like me.

You created my vulnerability, and my way out of my vulnerability is assisting other vulnerable people so we can be vulnerable together, and then empower each other to become less vulnerable together.

You hurt me, but instead of retaliating and becoming someone who in turn hurts others, I try and heal them. My intention is to do good, and the fact that has come from you having treated me with such hatred and selfishness and evil is remarkable.

You could have turned me into a heartless bitch. You could have turned me into someone who barely functions and who abuses substances just to numb the pain.

You could have led to my suicide.

But I’m breathing, just.

I’m surviving, just.

I’m driving my life forwards (to the best of my capability, despite my PTSD, dissociative symptoms, and BPD mood instability always fighting to gain the upper hand.)

I’m impressing people. I’m having an impact. I am not letting myself be forgotten. I’m not letting you win, although sometimes my illness defeats me for a while and I fall metaphorically to the floor.

I have a long way to go, but at least I have fucking started.

Nothing has changed for you. You are still in your bubble of denial and subterfuge.

Why am I travelling this single minded path of mental health and victim advocacy? It isn’t an easy path. This isn’t regular work. It is challenging because it involves talking about sensitive subjects, and I have to manage my illness alongside it.

Instead, you are just travelling along the path of least resistance, as though nothing has happened.

Has my absence from your life created any difficulty for you at all? Has life been harder without me in it?  Or has my retreat only made things easier? enabling you to keep the pretence going that there is nothing to see, that you have done no wrong, and that life moves on.

My life is moving on, but extremely fucking slowly.

Three steps forward, two steps back.

Attending the trustee interview yesterday made me think of you, not that any questions were asked that related to you, but just because all three people in that room knew that the sole reason I was there is because of my history of abuse- the abuse you perpetrated and covered up and flatly denied. That is what means I can advocate for victims, because I am one!

Who sleeps better at night? Me? With my nightmares and traumatic intrusions, but sound morals and peace of mind that I’m a good person.  Or you? With your lack of moral compass but inter-familial walls of protection.

I have protection too. Alone I am not.

I have my husband/best friend. I have two precious children that love me. You cannot benefit from their love. You are excluded from that because you made yourselves unwelcome here. I have a wide circle of friends too who are like my new family. I appreciate them so much….. They genuinely care, and want to see me do well and feel content. And then there is my therapist. She wants my recovery and helps so much. They are my gifts and my replacements for you.

You have each other, but you are empty, I would imagine?

I’m empty too, but maybe that’s just the inevitable wounding effect of what’s happened in my life to date.

I caught myself wrestling with some difficult thoughts earlier when I took my morning walk along the sandy beach.  “What if I never get better? What if I end up taking my life at some point? How much longer can I really go on for, living like this?”.

That’s what you did to me.

You have made me not want to be me.”😔

SummerSHINES ©


TW- **suicidal themes.
Living, for me, is all about dying. I cannot separate out thoughts of living from thoughts of dying. It’s just how I seem to be wired.


This morning the seascape was perfect. Blue sky and sunshine burning through the hazy clouds. Today is the first time the blueness of the sky has been visually detectable as the coastal fret (sea mist) has obscured my clarity, both figuratively and literally. The breeze was blowing in from sea straight towards me, the lone figure walking her dogs on the sand. It was a pleasant breeze, refreshing, but not enough to require the administering of anti freeze. The waves were foamy and the ocean was gently roaring in it’s white noisy way. For once the beach was quiet. Tourist levels are starting to diminish. I am very much looking forward to having the place back to myself. Living where I do, there is something beautiful about the winter, because the people go back to where they’re from and Northumberland becomes a place I really can enjoy.

There is nowhere better if you ask me, especially in the north east, than Northumberland in winter.

The coldness and barrenness of a Northumberland winter allows me to repair myself. There is little need to speak to people, because there are so few people. That’s how I like it.

As a friend said on the phone the other day, Northumberland is the perfect place for a peaceful life, but I am agitating the natural peace by travelling down to London and Newcastle all the time in my effort to make it big.

Fuck big. Right now, I want small.

Right now I want narrow and dark and safe and snug.

I want NO bloody PRESSURE.

I want simplicity.

I want the autumn to end and the winter to begin, so I can do the necessary repair job I need to do on me and my soul and psyche.

Social media makes me want to vomit sometimes. The toxin levels build up and I begin to feel nauseous. Consumerism is another sickness inducing irritant. I rarely buy anything. My husband does all the buying. He puts the petrol in the car, does the Aldi shops, buys knick knacks for me and the girls and the dogs, and occasionally even himself. But I stay in my hidey hole of a home and I tread the sandy beaches and I gaze at the sand dunes and  I do laundry and wash dishes and message friends and organise clutter so it looks less cluttered and I get sucked into TV dramas and I think, ‘what the fuck is all this about?’ What the ACTUAL FUCK!

Why are we here?

Why am I here?

What am I doing?

Why am I mindlessly living?- is it an ok and acceptable thing to do, just because mostly everyone else is doing it too?

If I’m so fucking happy then why do I gaze out into the waves this morning and want to walk right into them and not stop walking? I have tried that before. I got scared. I walked back to shore. I thought my children needed me. I checked into hospital. But I am seriously incapable of looking out to the waves of costal Northumberland, without imagining my body being washed back to shore. Absolutely incapable.

I think of dying every day.

Doesn’t everybody???


Is it really “just me”??

I’ve lived while dreaming of dying as long as I can remember! My autobiography starts with a chapter about my first suicide attempt. I was a pre-schooler! I didn’t label it a  suicide attempt, because I didn’t know what suicide was, or that suicidal is what wishing to be crushed under the wheels of a fast moving lorry was.

I wanted to do it (dying) even then.

I still want to do it (dying) now.

This morning I wanted to walk into those waves. I really did. I OFTEN do.

How can I continue to LIVE like this??

Is this what LIVING is? Wishing you were DYING?

When you wish upon a star, makes no difference what age you are, this is all I’ve ever known, transport me to heaven on suicide’s throne.


Foamy waves- take me in- is suicide human’s greatest sin?


Can’t write anymore- feel too sad- wanna die. It’s because of dad.










I wish you could be exactly the person I wanted.

I wish you could be here right now.

I wish you could comb your fingers gently through my hair, and tease out the tangled mess in my brain and heart too whilst you’re at it.

I wish you could be here beside me, but not with reality putting the spoilers on it. Let me have my fantasy, just for tonight. Please.

This isn’t some sordid piece about sexual fantasies of some red hot fantasy lover. This is about my longing for a mother.

It isn’t ugly to want to be nurtured.

It shouldn’t be forbidden to express what we’re missing and to shine the torchlight into the huge void- the place where the empty space sucks in the joy.

Everyone has an empty space inside.

Some of us are accustomed to feeling emptier and spacier than others.

Or maybe sometimes in life we just feel fuller and more satisfied than at other times.

I am sick of the deep ache.

It hurts, that ache.

Does time really heal hurt of loss?…well I guess the answer is both yes and no (fence sitting is more than allowed in this case). Yes it gets easier, AND no it fucking doesn’t. Both truisms are totally true.

I have a special blogger friend who lost her mum to suicide. Her and me, we connect beautifully, not only bevause we are both shamazing writers 😂 but because we both match up in our very specific mother-shaped emptiness.

I feel for her and her for me.

We counselled each other at the weekend via Facebook messenger.

We were both feeling very childlike and tearful and low.

But while I can enpathise (as far as I can) with her feelings around her mum’s tragic suicide, her mum isn’t there but mine is still alive, and that is where the similarity ends.

Bereavement can be literal, brought about by physical death, or it can be just as real, representative of the permenent death or severing of a mother-daughter relationship.

Both types of losses hurt and ache in a way that time alone doesn’t heal. If time does heal, it must be at the pace of the slowest snail known to man/woman kind, because I haven’t felt any discernible difference in how much I miss my mum now compared to how much I missed her when we first became estranged.

It’s been so long now that I don’t count it in months, and have lost track of the number of years.

I cry less, and less loudly I suppose. There are less minutes overall spent weeping into tear-dampened crumpled pillows with melencholic mood congruent music blaring out of Spotify. But the hurt is still there- it just makes far less of a sound.

Tonight I hurt in the silence. And this kind of silent hurting and yearning is something I can’t help but throw myself into feet first. Of course I don’t want to hurt this much, and I don’t consciously intend to dwell on it, but I’d rather be honest about my loss than pretend I’m fine when I’m definitely not fucking fine.

I am soothed by the rhythmic ticking of a clock. I am all cocooned in this room-my loneliness and longing is contained within four plasterboard walls. Tonight the ticking clock is like a heart beat to me, reminding me of what I would have heard booming out in my mother’s womb- back then when we were connected and I was sustained by that cord of umbilical life.

In the womb, she breathed for me in those early weeks. I was fed by her. She helped me grow and develop from tiny seed to mini alien to pink newborn screechy creature wrapped in snow white terry toweling.

How can I possibly forget her?

How can any child forget their mother?

You may not like them, you may not even love them, but I dare you to be able to try and forget them- try it. I think you’ll find it’s impossible.

What have I got to replace her, or who have I got?

I no longer have contact with any human who has known me all thirty six years of my life.

No one who was there from the beginning is still present.

I am left just with me.

My therapist can’t be a substitute. That’s just FREAKY, and my therapist won’t be around much longer I would imagine.

She will go and continue to nurture other damaged people, for a living.

In my real/non-therapy life I have existed for 36 years, but the longest relationship I’ve sustained is not 36 years, but 20.

Twenty years is the length of time I have been with my husband. The initial sixteen years before that were lived in a climate of fear within my family unit, but no one is around from that era to even validate to me that it even ever happened.

But I know it happened. I know.

The past lives on in the present and future, without the people physically being present to kick or punch or administer chinese burns to in protest for the PTSD shit storm they created.

I have a small number of photographs and a whole internal photo album of memories and cine tapes that play in my mind, but I don’t have my mum anymore even though she is still alive.

I’m bitter about that, very bitter and very lost.

Is she sat quietly in her room tonight, looking out at the inky blackness of the dark skies, wondering about me? Her daughter?

When she hears a ticking clock, is it just a ticking clock to her? Or does she hear my heartbeat, just as I would wish to imagine I am hearing and feeling and imagining hers.

I’ll never know, will I.


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 ©