All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


Leave a comment

30 Day Self Harm Awareness Challenge: Day 20

Today’s prompt in the 30 Day Self Harm Awareness Challenge asks
What is the most vivid memory you have of self harm.

trigger_warning

The year, 2004.
The month, December.

It had been a rough month. The person with whom I was co-managing a backpacker hostel was on extended medical leave, placing me solely in charge of the hostel in her absence. Although stressful, I grasped the opportunity with both hands to prove to all and sundry that I was magnificent in my fated profession. Day-in, day-out, I cycled the ten kilometers to work the 12 hour shifts that I was rostered to work. Day-in, day-out, I threw myself into my job. Serving customers. Making reservations. Marketing the hostel. Ensuring everything was running smoothly. The odd bit of maintenance. Room checks. My job was part manager, part receptionist and part general dogsbody, but at the time I loved it. I relished the challenge and loved spending time in the hostel that, over twelve months, I had slowly made my own.

But working 12 hour shifts day-in, day-out started to take their toll. Being on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week was exhausting. When I wasn’t in the building, I was on the phone to people who were, extinguishing spot fires and making sure everything was ticking over nicely. Although I didn’t let on to the staff how stressed I was becoming, it wouldn’t have taken a genius to work it out. I hadn’t had a day off in nearly a month, every day was spent at the hostel, or on the phone for hours on end to the staff on duty, or attending meetings at head office with management. And it was after one of these meetings that I snapped.

Four and a half weeks of working every single day, sometimes as much as eighty hours a week, had frazzled my synapses. All I wanted was a day off. All I wanted was a little time to myself. No hostel. No guests. No staff. Just me and my thoughts. But it wasn’t to be. For on the one day off I had organised for myself, I was called in to head office for an ‘urgent’ meeting with the marketing department. So instead of relaxing in my unit, I was cycling the ten kilometers to head office to have a meeting with a staff member I despised, a staff member who never took my comments or opinion seriously. For nearly an hour we bickered about the best strategy for advertising the hostel, all of my suggestions falling on deaf ears, all of her suggestions being treated as if they had been spoken by the second coming of the messiah. After ten minutes I knew it was pointless being at the meeting, but being manager in my co-manager’s absence, I wanted to prove I could handle whatever was thrown at me.

At this point in my life it had been nearly four years since I’d last self-harmed. I was in a happy, fulfilling relationship. I had people to talk to, people to spend time with. Aside from overwork, everything in my life was rosy, everything in my life was as I wanted it to be. But something triggered in me during that meeting, that fateful meeting of conflicted minds. After four and a half weeks with no day off the emotional turmoil was at its peak. Something had to give. Something had to ease the tension. And with no other option, I fell back into old habits. As I left that meeting, stressed, tense, emotionally unstable, I realised I not only wanted to self harm, I needed to self harm. Not later. Not hours after the event. But right then.

FreeGreatPicture.com-18393-feature-matches

I walked from head office to a 7-11 convenience store. I purchased a pack of smokes (at the time I was a non-smoker), a box of matches, and left the store knowing full well what I was going to do. I was going to take a cigarette from the pack, place it in my mouth, light a match, light the cigarette, and then place the lit match back into the box. So I did. And as soon as the match was back in the box I closed it, gripped my hand around it, and waited for the inevitable. Within seconds the lit match ignited the other matches in the box, and in that split second, the entire box exploded in my hand. The pain was instant. The fire burning into my flesh. I immediately dropped the flaming box and stamped it out with my foot, ignoring my fellow pedestrians who had witnessed the incident during their busy lunch hour. I stood in the street, the city moving quickly around me, and stared at my hand. A large blister had erupted on the palm of my hand, smaller blisters popping up on my fingers and thumb. It burned. It hurt. But the pain wasn’t intolerable; it was beautiful. In that moment, as I stood amidst the hustle-bustle of city life, I felt completely and totally at peace. All of the stress. All of the frustration. All of the emotional distress. All of it ceased to be. In that moment I was lost to the magnificent pain that throbbed on my flesh. It was just me and my pain; me and myself.

I stood in the street for nearly five minutes, smoking my first cigarette in over a year, flexing my left hand, enjoying the pain that burned on my skin. After finishing the cigarette I walked to a bin, disposed of the butt, and casually began walking to a nearby public convenience. I could have run. I could have walked briskly. But I wanted the journey to be as slow as possible. I wanted to feel the pain for as long as possible. Eventually I reached the toilet and began drenching the blisters with cold water. It still hurt. It was still beautiful. But it helped ease the pain a little. After several minutes I left the toilet and visited a chemist, purchasing some plasters that are intended to cover burnt skin. I had self-harmed enough to know you should take care of yourself after an incident. After all, the moment had passed, I had relieved the emotional distress, and was focused on self-care.

That night I told my girlfriend that I had burnt myself on a stove. She didn’t know about my self harm, no-one did back then. It was something I had kept to myself, my own little secret, my own little coping mechanism. She didn’t suspect my lie. She had no reason to. She merely scolded me for being an idiot and carried on with her day. A week later, on Christmas day, the blister was still prominent so I showed it to my girlfriend’s mother, a GP, and she passed on some self-care tips and once again chastised me for being so stupid. For placing my hand on a lit stove top. She didn’t suspect my actions either. Why would she? I had never given her, or anyone, reason to suspect my secret methods of relaxation and psychological coping.

Even though other events have been more painful (the infamous self-flagellation incident of 2000, the even-more-infamous knocking myself unconscious on a tree incident of 2007), that moment, that blissful, beautiful explosion in my hand has remained my most vivid memory of self-harm.

I have never repeated the action, I have never even considered it. That moment was the only time I have ever ignited a box of matches in my hand. At the time it was exactly what I needed. It was exactly what I deserved. And I have never – ever – regretted doing it. If I hadn’t done it my emotional distress would have overtaken me, I would have been flooded with suicidal thoughts and rendered unable to do my job, the job I was so desperately trying to prove I could succeed in. It is a moment in my life that I will never apologise for. However much I dislike self harm, however much I hate who it turns me into, I will never apologise for doing something that, at the time, felt so right, so perfect. But I will, until my dying days, urge others not to repeat my actions.

So if you’re thinking about it. If you’re sitting there thinking now there’s an idea I could implement. Don’t. It really isn’t worth it. You deserve better.


2 Comments

Incidentally, what is happiness?

what is happiness

Panic Attacks…

On Tuesday afternoon, at approximately 4 ‘o’ clock, I dropped my basket of meagre foodstuffs and collapsed to the floor of a Coles supermarket. It was all I could do to stop the tears from cascading as I struggled to regain enough composure to stagger from the store to the nearest public toilet. Once safely entombed, I dropped to my knees, vomited the contents of my stomach into the toilet and burst into tears. Suffice to say, the sight of a grown man with a sick-streaked beard, blubbering like a baby, was not a pretty sight!

I have no idea how long I sat on those cold stone tiles, nor how many people I was inconveniencing with my far-too-public-for-my-liking panic attack. I couldn’t even tell you what was racing through my mind during those long, lonely minutes, though I would make an educated guess, based on previous attacks, it was am I dying, please God let me be dying liberally mixed with you’re useless, worthless, pathetic, what the frack is wrong with you man self-critical thoughts and a seasoning of both intense physical pain and intolerable emotional anguish.

That’s the problem with panic attacks; they are completely irrational reactions, but when they’re happening, when you’re trapped by their power, all thoughts of rationality and reason are replaced with the all-consuming belief you are literally in the process of dying. The speed in which your heart races, the tightness of your chest, the uncontrollable urge to vomit, the way the world spins out of control and you slip in and out of consciousness with your life’s regrets, pain and failings playing back before your eyes.

Eventually, somehow, I was able to get it together. I picked myself up, threw some water on my face and made my way home as quickly as possible. The moment I ensured all doors and windows were locked and I was completely safe from the evil of the world outside, I curled under my doona and allowed the memories of being safely ensconced within my mother’s womb to sooth my bleeding soul.

This singular event – which in hindsight lasted no longer then twenty-five minutes – has become the defining moment of my entire week.

…capsaicin…

On Wednesday, I refused to crawl out from the safety of my doona until my urge to urinate overwhelmed all else. For the first time, I missed my 8-Ball pool group, choosing instead to move my computer under the table where I built a fortress of books to hide and protect me. I crouched in my darkened solitude for the majority of the day typing a post about biopsychosocial models in the hope it would distract me before finally crawling out into the darkness to procure myself some capsaicin cream.

For those of you who are unaware of capsaicin cream, it is an ointment used to relieve the pain of arthritis and shingles. Capsaicin, as with several other capsaicinoids, is derived from chilli peppers and used, amongst other things, in the production of capsicum-spray; that delightful riot-controlling weapon of choice. As such, when it comes in contact with the skin, it can be quite painful due to the amount of heat it produces.

Although I am not (in any way) advocating its use, after discovering this information many years ago, I began occasionally using it when the urge to self-harm overwhelmed. As I am currently trying to reduce my invasive self-harm, after such a terrifying panic attack, I needed the distraction that only capsaicin cream could provide. Thus, upon returning home, I crawled back under my doona and applied it to the body part of my choice, before closing my eyes to allow its fire to burn the pain from my soul.

Regardless of your opinion of this action, without this cream I would still be lost to the nightmare of that panic attack. Without nurture, without comfort, without support, I have long had to resort to more ‘creative’ ways to cope with the ever-increasing and painful setbacks in my mental health. The fire burned to such a degree that by the time Thursday rolled around, I was able to leave my doona, demolish my fort and approach the day’s activities with far more focus and determination.

…and epiphanies.

One such activity was an appointment with my support worker. Expecting to be interrogated about the post I had written on Monday, I was initially reluctant about attending, but decided sharing this particular trigger – especially after the reaction it had provoked on Tuesday – was probably the best course of action.

However, although I shared that it had been a bit of rough week, I fell back on the usual but everything is okay appeasing attitude that I was forced to perfect throughout my abusive relationship. I said nothing of the horrifying nature of my attack nor my resorting to capsaicin in the absence of hugs or someone to talk to. Even though I had spent hours working out how I was going to explain the nature of my trigger, the insecurity I have over how this will come across prevented me from sharing it.

Instead, we continued with the Maastricht Interview before discussing my inability to exist in anything other than a heightened state of anxiety and fear.

“When was the last time you were functioning around a 1 or 2 on the anxiety scale?” They asked, following my admittance that my base-line was usually an 8 or 9.

“Probably early April 2008,” I replied, thinking about, but not sharing the details of my day in Glasgow with Samantha.

“Do you remember what it’s like to feel happy, contented and relaxed?”

“No,” I replied without hesitation. “I really don’t,”

Later that night, as I worked through my Mi Recovery and Victim to Victor workbooks, I realised that exchange had perfectly summed up my primary issue:

It doesn’t really matter how much effort I put into controlling triggers, reducing anxiety, stabilising my mood, fighting self-harm urges or combatting the debilitating panic attacks that can strike at any time or place. How can I expect to accomplish anything – to live – when I can’t even remember what happiness or relaxation feels like?

The problem is, even though I’ve had this epiphany, I have absolutely no idea what to do about it.

Incidentally, what is happiness?

Since 2007 my life has revolved completely around survival; every second of every minute of every hour of every day of every week of every month of every year has been about getting me through the next second, minute, hour, week, month or year. It has been about discovering creative new ways to control my pain and diffusing the anguish of whatever aspect of my mental health has decided to rear its ugly head. It has been about appeasing all those around me – be they friends, family, support workers or strangers – into believing that I am fine, where in reality I am vomiting in public toilets and isolating myself from the terrors of the only world that could bring me any solace.

How does one allow themselves to relax when they’ve been conditioned to believe they must work continuously in fear of being seen as ‘lazy’?

How does one share their problems and pain with the world when they’ve been conditioned to believe that no-one cares and they must fight everything alone in order to prove their worth as a human being?

How does one find happiness when they have no real memory of what this mythical state-of-mind feels like?

If this week has proved anything it’s that regardless of how far I thought I’d come…I still have an awful long way to go!

~◊~

Six things I’ve learned this week:

  • Don’t be afraid to be honest about how you feel; for the trap of “always putting on a ‘brave face’ when in reality you’re dying inside” is almost impossible to escape from!
  • If you are going to attack a trigger head-on; make damn sure you have a network of support in place who know what you’re doing, for if you don’t, chaos will ensue!
  • Women have a much, much, much, better selection of clothing (especially underwear!) than men do. In fact, I’m so jealous I’m considering becoming a cross-dresser! :p
  • It is much easier making a fort out of doonas or blankets than it is books. Especially if you decide to read a book you’ve used as a foundation stone.
  • Do at least one thing every day that makes you happy. For the longer you go without happiness, the harder it will be to find again.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And don’t let anyone make you think otherwise!

Six things I want to do next week:

  • To give myself permission to do something I enjoy and enjoy it! (i.e. to not allow my negative self-talk and fear of being perceived as lazy prevent me from doing it!)
  • Share my trigger with my support worker, regardless of my insecurity over how insane, pathetic and weird this will make me look.
  • Stop scaring people away from my blog with talk about voices, pain and badly written blog posts. It’s starting to look like a ghost town around here! :/
  • Complete my Mi Recovery homework assignments; what are my beliefs about mental illness and how did I learn those beliefs?
  • Catch-up on my favourite blogs as I’ve been incredibly slack of late, sorry! :)
  • Brainstorm ideas of what I could do to bring some happiness, joy and relaxation back into my life.

Have a fantastic weekend everyone! And remember…there is nothing wrong with allowing yourself to be happy! :)

 


5 Comments

But who can remember pain, once it’s over?

East Beach, Port Fairy

East Beach, Port Fairy © Addy

“But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see.”
  ~ Margaret Atwood ~

Seven years ago today I went to Port Fairy to end my life.
Weeks of planning culminated with me sitting on the East Beach with a knife,
my pain having grown too severe for me to deal with.

To this day I can remember with intimate clarity how much I wanted to die,
how much I craved for my insignificant ‘life’ to be over.

Alas, it wasn’t to be.

As I stared out over the Southern Ocean I was reminded of all I would miss,
of the passions that burned in my soul and the desires I’d yet to achieve.

A part of me has always regretted choosing life on that lonely night,
but hidden beneath this regret is pride; of my strength, of my belief,
of my stubborn determination to not let life beat me.

Perhaps one day it will,
but not today.


5 Comments

Beating addiction out of you – literally

Several weeks ago I confessed to having succumbed to the demons of alcohol.

On most days from Christmas/New Year onwards I consumed alcohol – sometimes as little as a couple of glasses, sometimes as much as four or five bottles. It’s not something I’m proud of nor is it something I’ve beaten myself up over. After all, as someone kindly pointed out to me, they were surprised I had taken so long to turn to alcohol after all I’ve been through!

As of today, I can proudly admit to being alcohol free for thirteen days. Although there have been many occasions  that I’ve wanted to drink (such as after my session with the counsellor on Monday and the Munch I attended on Tuesday evening) I was successfully able to steer myself away from the wine; usually by replacing it with unhealthy comfort eating, soft drinks and mooching around the house doing my best cranky bear impersonation.

So no matter how proud I am of this achievement, this period has reminded me not only how vulnerable I am to addiction but how sodding difficult it is to give up the booze.

Which is why I found myself nodding in agreement with an article I discovered today on The Siberian Times.

Deep in Siberia, scientists claim they have made an astonishing breakthrough in curing drink and drug addicts, as well as helping workaholics and even those obsessed with sex – by using corporal punishment.

The moment I began reading this article it reminded me of an article published several years ago about a Russian scientist who believed a possible treatment for depression was regular canings on the bare buttocks (a standard treatment was 30 sessions of 60 strokes each). The belief was that such treatment caused the brain to release endorphins, which has a similar effect on pain to the drugs codeine or morphine, but does not lead to dependency.

As I read on it became clear that this was a far more detailed article on the same theory.

The psychologist behind (the pun is not deliberate!) this ‘cure’ is Dr German Pilipenko who with fellow practitioner Professor Marina Chukhrova has treated more than a thousand patients, and is now getting foreigners travelling to try his unconventional ‘method of limited exposure or pain’, often as a last resort.

The cure involves literally beating the addiction, obsession or depression out of the patient. Dr Pilipenko claims he is restoring or modernising a method of treatment known to previous generations including notorious cane-happy English schoolmasters and monks in medieval holy orders.

‘We cane the patients on the buttocks with a clear and definite medical purpose – it is not some warped sado-masochistic activity,’ says Professor Chukhrova, a psychiatrist with more than 25 years experience treating drug addicts and alcoholics.

In simple terms, addicts suffer from a lack of endorphins often known as ‘happiness hormones’, she says, adding that the acute pain of corporal punishment stimulates the brain to release endorphins into the body ‘making patients feel happier in their own skins’.

Now, most people would scoff at such therapy or crack jokes loaded with deviant sexual innuendo. But I’m not most people. My first thought upon reading the article several years ago was quiet agreement. Part of me could see where the scientists were coming from, even though the article itself was presented in a condescending and patronising fashion. After all, why subject yourself to such an ordeal when a course of antidepressants and/or talk therapy is a much less painful way to manage these conditions?

The simple fact is these options don’t work for everyone and when you’re at the end of your tether – as I am – you’re willing to consider anything.

Beating addiction out of you (I)

Image © The Siberian Times

In the case of Natasha (22), her heroin addiction had begun at the age of sixteen. After nearly overdosing her parents took her to hospital after hospital for a variety of ‘conventional’ treatments, but none of them worked. After a religious retreat failed to help her, Natasha’s mother suggested this new unconventional therapy.

‘There were so many deaths around me. I nearly died too – I just couldn’t see a way out. It was then that my mother heard about this new method of treatment in Novosibirsk, her home city. I agreed to try it’.

‘All I was told at first was that it would involve some physical pain but that Professor Chukhrova believed it could really help me’.

Like other patients, Natasha is given psychological counselling before each session of 60 lashes (those with alcohol or other addictions face 30) – and also undergoes a electrocardiogram to ensure the shock therapy is not causing unexpected heart problems.

‘I was so scared before the first time – and I am still frightened many months later’, she says.

‘I’m not a masochist. My parents never beat me or even slapped me, so this was my first real physical pain and it was truly shocking. If people think there’s anything sexual about it, then it’s nonsense.

‘With each lash I scream and grip tight to the end of the surgical table. It’s a stinging pain, real agony, and my whole body jolts. Often I cry, and the doctor sometimes asks what I am feeling, and if I am ok.

‘My body gets really hot and my palm starts sweating. It’s really unpleasant – but after each session, I can see that it works. In fact, it’s the only thing that has worked for me. As he strikes me, the doctor explains the danger of the drugs. But this treatment is not about punishing me for taking heroin. It works because of the effect on my body – the release of these endorphins – that is letting me get rid of the addiction.

‘The pain helps me understand the dangers I have caused to myself, how I was simply killing myself’.

The doctors echo what she says, and insist that they are not seeking to humiliate Natasha and their other patients; nor is punishment their primary aim.

‘Despite this, in a strange way I suppose I do feel I’m getting punishment which at the same time brings me back to life. After each session I have red lash marks on my backside but it doesn’t bleed. It’s not easy to sit down for a few hours afterwards.

Unlikely as it sounds, Natasha is adamant that this treatment has transformed her life.

‘I wouldn’t keep coming back for this if I didn’t think it was working’, she says. ‘I know many of my friends think I am mad to trust these doctors. But I want to live. For the first time since I because an addict five years ago, I feel I have a chance.

‘I just want to be like all those thousands of girls who have a normal life – finding a man, getting married, having kids, going through the problems of life together. I want that kind of normal life – and finally I can feel I am coming back to it.

Several months into her treatment, she got a new job and – against expectations – was holding it down, working as a dispatcher in a local taxi company, she says.

‘It’s a simple job, but for me it is a start. I feel I have my self respect. So far I don’t have a new boyfriend but when the right man comes along, I now feel I could cope with a relationship again’.

Natasha is now free of the drugs. ‘I still have cravings, of course I do. But it’s getting less and less. I really feel on the way to a new life’.

Beating addiction our of you (II)

Image © The Siberian Times

In the case of Yuri (41), like Natasha, he had undertaken many conventional therapies. After waking up in a drunken stupor with three empty bottles of eau de cologne by his bed, he decided to contact Professor Chukhrova.

‘I also went to hypnosis – but everything I tried worked for one year at the most. Then came the desire for more vodka to help me cope with the stress of his job. I had heard about the caning treatment and rejected it. Then one morning I woke up in a drunken stupor and found three empty bottles of eau de cologne by my bed. I realised my real choice – try Professor Chukhrova’s treatment, or die.

‘They checked my heart and spoke to me in detail about my drink problem and my work pressures. It seemed like the usual psychiatrist’s stuff, much as I had gone through before. She told me the science behind it but also explained that it had been used to cure addictions in the past.

‘She checked my heart and said all was OK, then told me to remove my clothes.

‘The first strike was sickening. I screamed, and swore like a drunk sailor. Somehow I got through all 30 lashes. The next day I got up with a stinging backside but no desire at all to touch the vodka in the fridge. The bottle has stayed there now for a year.

‘I feel that my psychological craving for alcohol has gone. For three months I made secret visits to the clinic, not wanting any colleagues or friends to discover. Of course, I feel like a fool having to undergo this humiliating treatment. Now I just come once a month.

‘The toughest part was hiding the marks from my girlfriend. Eventually she saw – and there was the most appalling scandal.

‘She suspected me of all sorts of weird things, from a secret affair to visiting the local Dominatrix. I told her the truth – and when I explained it all she said she was proud of me for taking such a risky step to cure myself’.

Yuri says he has changed so much that his girlfriend says she wants to have a baby with him.

‘For the first time, she thinks she can trust me to be a good father. And our love life is better too. I don’t mean from some weird consequences of the caning. It’s better because I’ve given up alcohol.

‘I know people react strangely to such an extraordinary way of getting rid of addiction, but it was the only thing which helped me’.

It should go without saying that many conventional doctors have openly dismissed this method of therapy, with many commenting that there are many other ways to achieve endorphin release, such as acupuncture, exercise, chocolate, massage and (most obviously) sex. The Siberian psychologists say none of these are as effective as caning. ‘But you could eat chocolate, do a lot of exercise, and then have a caning – that way you’ll get a maximum dose of endorphins’, joked Dr Speransky.

The history of caning goes back to the 12th and 13th centuries’, says Dr Pilipenko.

‘Monks practiced it. They referred to caning like this: ‘If you are persecuted by some trouble or suffering in your life – come to us, we’ll help you end it, so that both your memory and you are freed from it’.

‘We, too, help our clients to realise the reason for their stress and their suffering, verbalise the reason and its consequences  – and create a different reaction to the stress. The pain works like an injection against stress. It also helps to wake up the consciousness and makes the patient understand why he or she got into the stress in a more rational way.’

He insists: ‘We find a verbal analogue to every feeling, and create words of support from within the patient to himself or herself. We help create like an internal dialogue so that every stress is met with a clear understanding of what the patient is feeling, who they are, how they are going to deal with it, and how will they will win over this situation.’

The treatment is, he claims, ‘an old method of carrots and sticks, which works in two ways. We mark with a pain a mistake that the person made, and stimulate him or her for future deeds, so that he or she does something better in the future, fulfilling their dreams.

‘The pain acts like a warning so that the individual doesn’t let offence, annoyance, anger, laziness, desolation or hopelessness  get in his way of going towards the next achievement.

‘We are helping by talking them through the painful experience, making sure that there is no confusion or fear over the feeling of pain, but instead a clear understanding of how he or she should overcome this pain being in a clear mind and observing one’s own reaction.

‘Our method is like a once-in-a-lifetime event which the patient remembers forever. It helps to have another look at a patient’s own inner resources – which makes many people healthier and happier.

‘It is the same way as we do vaccinations to make the immune system stronger. So we do an anti-stress jab to the nervous system. Out method helps to shorten the emotional reaction to the stress, and make it conscious and controllable.

‘A large number of various psychosomatic illnesses can be sorted by this fast and dynamic method. We get a lot of patients annoyed with themselves and with the world, weak, apathetic, tearful, and tired. We help them to change the way they react to the stresses, and help them overcome any worrying situation in the future’.

Like all therapy, there is a cost involved. Each session costs 3,000 roubles ($99), with each session lasting for two hours with three separate caning sessions within it – each with psychological analysis afterwards and express therapy. The recommended treatment period is two beating sessions a week for three months – with follow-up visits every four weeks for the next year. Even with taking the twice weekly sessions into account, compared to the cost of therapy in Australia, this is actually damned good value!

Given the unconventionality of the treatment, it is certainly not something most people would ever consider. However, as I said earlier, I’m not most people.

If I were being completely honest – as I always strive to be on this blog – I would definitely be willing to give this course of therapy a chance. Over the years I have taken many different medications, undergone countless different therapies and tried every last thing I can think of that could help me get my life back on track. So far, very little of this has worked.

With my episode worsening and the recent collapse back into alcoholism, I’ve reached a point where I’m willing to give anything a shot – even if it means sacrificing my ability to sit comfortably! Although thinking about it, I’d much prefer this to some of the more severe side effects I’ve received from medication over the years!

Unfortunately, Siberia is 2495km (1547 miles) from where I am, so the chances of me getting the opportunity to experience this treatment is slim to none.

Ah, well, maybe one day I’ll be able to see if I agree with Natasha or not.

‘I am the proof that this controversial treatment works,’ Natasha says, ‘and I recommend it to anyone suffering from an addiction or depression. It hurts like crazy – but it’s given me back my life. Without it I seriously believe I would now be dead’.

~ YOU CAN READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE FROM ‘THE SIBERIAN TIMES’ HERE ~

So? How far are you willing to go to deal with depression and/or addiction? Would you put your ass on the line (so to speak) over such an unconventional therapy? I’m genuinely curious as to what people think about this and any of the other unconventional therapies that are out there.

 


21 Comments

[SOC] Demons of depression

I wrote this confused stream of consciousness last night (1/1/13) but was unable to post it due to my current internet issues. I don’t know why I’m posting it today as it’s merely me realising I have once again become lost to depression and no longer know what to do about it. But…at least it’s a post, something that has been sorely lacking from this blog of late.

Apologies for any grammatical or spelling errors that occur throughout, they are part and parcel of stream of consciousness writing. Additional apologies for the depressing nature of this post. Not all of us are happy at this time of year.

Demons_of_depression_by_flina

Demons of depression © flina

To say I am struggling at the moment would be an understatement.

On numerous occasions in the lead up to Christmas, and in the only post I have been able to write over this period, I wrote of my hatred of this time of year. The endless stream of articles, radio shows, television reports and newspaper columns devoted to letting us know how wonderful it is to share this time of year with family and friends, with scant regard to the millions of people who have no-one. The people who exist in an isolated state desperately hoping that one day their sentence will end and they’ll finally be able to find some peace.

When I used to write journals, way back when I had a ‘life’, I would always write the obligatory ‘year that was/year that will be’ entry. I would relive the joyous moments I did not want to forget and plan for twelve months that would move me closer toward my goals. But I can’t do that anymore. The only highlight of this year was getting my unit, but I am starting to look on that as a curse, rather than a gift. Years of hunting and working myself to exhaustion finally paid off but for what? All it has done is become my prison.

Every day I wake up to be reminded of how alone I am, how poor I am, how uneducated I am, how worthless I am, and every moment I am reminded of this my abuser laughs her cruel laugh and reminds me that this was all I would ever amount to. That this is all I deserve.

Her, and my other voices, have increased in volume and frequency over the last few weeks. Each and every day a cacophony of voices accompany my every waking moment, rendering me unable to think, focus, work or function. I have done little to nothing of value aside from resort back to alcohol and self-harm in order to achieve even a few moments of peace amidst the din.

I cannot leave the house. I cannot eat. I cannot shower. Smile. Or laugh. And I definitely can’t sleep. The moment I close my eyes the demons rise and the nightmares reign. Over the last few weeks the dreams have become more vivid and painful than ever; no longer flashes of confusion but HD replays of the most painful, regrettable and destructive moments of my life.

All of which reminding me that I have achieved nothing in (nearly) six years. In fact with every year that has passed since my breakdown I have devolved. My mind has slipped further and further into the abyss with every month that passes. Every effort I have made to gain support, education, employment, respect or to achieve something that I could be proud of has failed, and as a counselor put it a few weeks ago,each successive ‘failure’ proving (to my broken mind) that everything my abuser said about me was the truth. All those words of colorful description; pathetic, useless, a waste of space, better off dead, disgusting, repulsive, worthless, evil, becoming much harder to fight, much harder to believe are not an apt description of myself.

Six years ago today she publicly humiliated me for expressing an inconsequential opinion – yet the burn of my blushing cheeks, the sound of the laughter, the shame that filled my heart, the wetness of the water that cascaded over my hair, the dampness of my shirt as it clung to my chest can still be felt as if it were yesterday.

The event played out in my dreams last night, was relived at various moments throughout the day, feeding into the whirlwind of negative thought that has ravaged my heart and soul over the last several weeks, further proving that no matter what effort I make to move past it, my mind is still lost in the trauma and pain of that period.

At least when I was on the streets I could focus on survival; a repetitive cycle that distracted me from the ‘failure’ that is my ‘life’. But now I am in my prison the only cycle is the endless reminder that she was right. That no matter what I do I will never succeed in anything. That her words and actions were not insult or attack but incidents of truth, all of which I deserved.

A cycle that feeds, rather than distracts from, my depression.

Yes, to say I am struggling at the moment would be an understatement. My mind once again has become the residence of the hideous demon that is depression; a demon that with every year that passes is becoming harder and harder to fight.

I cannot look forward to 2013 because no matter what I would like to achieve (return to education, have a holiday, write an eBook, cross item [1] off the things to do before I die list, move past the trauma of the past) I am convinced it will amount to nothing, for all five of these things have been on my list of ‘things to achieve in the year ahead’ since 2007; only now, the trauma of the past is ten thousand times worse than it was then!

I’m tired. I’m exhausted. This endless pain is becoming harder and harder to deal with without external aids (such as alcohol) and, not for the first time, I am losing hope not only for myself but for the world.

You’d think I’d be used to ‘living’ like this by now. That being alone should no longer get to me. That having nothing shouldn’t bother me. That I should have just accepted being inconsequential is my destiny. But I’m not. And I don’t think I will ever get used to living like this.

For no matter how much I’ve been convinced that I deserve all that has happened to me, I still have vague memories of the man I once was; creative, passionate, caring, determined, imaginative, sensual and the things he used to do; laugh, talk, hug, kiss, tickle, squeeze and smile. And as long as those memories are there, however distant, however unbelievable, I will keep trying to prove that the world has me wrong.

That this is who I am – not who she made me believe I was.

So although I’m not looking forward to this year in any way shape and form, I do have one sneaking suspicion. This is the year that will change everything; 2013 will either make me or break me completely.

Simply because I can’t deal with another year like the last six of my life.

I just can’t.

I won’t.


7 Comments

I couldn’t help but think of Jon Favreau

I went to bed at 12:30am this morning, watched the latest episode of Merlin and then nodded off to sleep. Not because the episode was boring – although not vintage Merlin it had some beautiful scenes, the closing shot especially – but because I was exhausted and was desperately in need of a good night’s sleep.

So imagine my frustration when, at 2am I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep. Unlike usual this had nothing to do with PTSD fueled nightmares, hallucinogenic conversations or sexy dreaming but everything to do with a crippling toothache I’ve developed over the last few days. By 3am this morning the pain was so intense I seriously considered walking to the ER to get them to yank my tooth out with a pair of pliers (or whatever torture instrument they would prefer!)

However, given I didn’t want to bother anyone, I endured the pain until 9am when I roamed down the road and, for the first time in years, visited the dentist.

Note: For non-regular readers of my blog, I suffer from social anxiety disorder. Part of my social anxiety is a fear of important people, such as police, academics, psychiatrists, librarians, David Tennant and DENTISTS.

So by the time I arrived at the surgery I was wrestling with the intense physical pain I was in and the intense anxiety that had built-in my system. But however masochistic I am, I couldn’t take that pain anymore so entered, paid an extortionate sum of money and entered the dentists surgery. My knees were shaking, my palms were sweaty, there were tears in my eyes and I thought I was going to drop dead from a heart attack; by the time I removed my jacket and collapsed onto the chair every limb was shaking uncontrollably as I awaited the dreaded man in a white coat to walk into the room.

The moment he did, I couldn’t help but think of Jon Favreau.

Note: Not because he resembled the acclaimed actor/director, but because Jon Favreau once played a psychotic dentist in an episode of ace television show Monk; a show that anyone with an interest in mental health should watch purely because of the genius of Tony Shaloub

As the anxiety coursed through my body I tentatively opened my mouth, held my breath as he began poking around and sincerely expected him to do something to ease me of this damned pain. Instead, he told me to close my mouth, replaced his instruments and wrote a prescription for some antibiotics. Apparently, there’s nothing he can do to fix the tooth until the swelling has been reduced and he’s examined an X-Ray of my mouth.

So, after toing and froing between the hospital (to get the X-Rays) and the chemist (to get the antibiotics) whilst in immense pain (I’m not exaggerating!) I made a new appointment so I can get my tooth fixed.

This appointment is next Monday; so I now have seven days to anticipate my next appointment, all of which will no doubt be spent in constant agony. And as most people know, expectation and anticipation usually end up being ten times worse than the event itself.

So, in order to try to control the pain I have dosed up on painkillers which are making me feel incredibly strange and light-headed. Especially given I had a mere 30 minutes or so sleep last night! However, I’m still tempted to rip my own tooth out with a pair of pliers. Or tie it to a slamming door. Or do something to end this bloody horrible throbbing pain!

But on the plus side, at least I faced up to my fear of dentists.

Hopefully I’ll be able to do the same next week :)


Leave a comment

The turning point of my life

Yesterday’s WordPress Daily Prompt is:
Go back in time to an event you think could have played out differently for you. Let alternate history have its moment: tell us what could, would or should have happened?
(Yeah, I’m running late again. Sorry, a virus ate my brain…ok, just kinda messed it up a bit :p)

Over the years I have spoken to many psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors and therapists. Some have been decent human beings who have been able to emphasise and help me piece together the shattered remnants of my mind. Others have been arrogant, obnoxious, sociopathic fuckwits whose God Complex rendered them completely unable to even understand what the word empathy meant, let alone show it toward another human being.

But what all the decent ones have had in common is simple, their shared belief that my life would not have taken the direction it took had one incident not happened in early 2007. In fact, I have said many times over the years I’ve been writing this blog, that I consider this moment the turning point of my life.

What actually happened…

Whilst suffering from Glandular Fever, three days after being diagnosed with another serious illness, less than two weeks after I had returned to full-time tertiary education for the first time in five years, five days after she’d asked if she could move in with me because ‘she loved me more than anyone she’d met’ my girlfriend sent me a text message – that came without any conversation, warning or explanation – informing me: ‘not to contact her for 14 days under any circumstances.’

She then listed several ‘demands’ that I would need to make if I wanted her to ‘speak to me again’. These demands amounted to: overcoming Glandular Fever, changing my entire personality, eradicating mental illness, never talk to my friends (or her) about my problems again and understand that her life, stress, issues and problems were the only thing that mattered.

The snowball…

The suddenness of this message, coupled with the stress and pain of my illness(es), meant that: three days later I lost my college course, and with it my chance of university and a career. The isolation had a negative impact on my Glandular Fever recovery and increased my physical pain and suffering. Three weeks later I suffered a complete physical and mental breakdown, I began self-harming on a daily basis, I lost my entire social network (bar one person), all forms of income and every possession I owned. Three months later I was rendered homeless after leaving Melbourne to escape her continual abuse and harassment.

Why she sent the message…

“I didn’t want an emotional situation the day I went back to university,” (Feb 2007)
“I had to teach you that what you did to your [ex-girlfriend] was wrong,” (March 2007);
“I don’t know. I didn’t want to. Why are you shouting at me?” (April 2007);
“People are telling me it was a stupid thing to do. I agree with them. I don’t know why I [sent that message].” (April 2007);
“I still love you,” (May 2007).

What if…

If the text message had never been sent, it is highly likely that: I would never have lost my college course, within weeks I would have made new friends through college, a part-time photography course I had enrolled in would have commenced, I would have recovered from Glandular Fever much, much quicker and the breakdown would never have happened as I wouldn’t have lost everything in my life (the root cause of the breakdown.)

The new connections I had been making online would have happened in reality, in fact I had arranged to meet someone the day she re-appeared fifteen days after sending the message. I would never have lost my income, student finances would have been approved and I would never have had to sell everything I owned. My social network would have been unaffected, I would never have been forced out of my home (thus, even though I don’t like drawing the connection) I would never have been assaulted and raped.

By now, I would have graduated from both college and uni – with many people, including myself, believing I could have excelled at both – and be working in a career of my choice, choosing and passion. I would have a home, a social network, a relationship and (possibly) a family. My mental and physical health would never have reached the nadir that they became and I would be happy.

I’m sure of it.

But hey, like she and my friends told me, I deserved it.