Thursday, August 29, 2013

WRITING IT OUT

 Over on my Facebook page someone left a photograph which showed a line of white plimsoles  amongst which was one pair of red  ankle trainers. The message was  "if you are lucky enough to be different,  don't ever change."

 The trouble is if you are different you cannot change.  You can try to change. You can pretend to change. You may even convince others that you have changed. But you won't have you will still be who you are.

I want to make it clear here that I'm not talking about such things as addiction, lying, being nasty to others, stealing. No. Those things can be changed.

Being who you really are is what cannot be changed. I know.

Being different is not being a teenager wearing shocking clothing or shocking hair or even being a fully grown adult doing the same thing.

No. Being different is the way you were the minute your mother's egg was fertilised in her womb. We will never ever fit in with the crowd. We may look like we do. We may do everything we possibly can to fit in with the crowd and when we do that we do it at the expense of our soul.

For me, it was a case of being myself or face death or a lifetime in psychiatric care.  I did not know this at the time. I had taken on board myself my families deeply negative opinion of me especially my fathers disgust of me and the opinion of the religionists that I was evil and always would be. I had also fallen for the psychiatric labels I had been given. I think I wanted those labels because I thought by accepting them by accepting that I had a mental disease that I would never get well from then all this pain would go away and I will just take medication and I would be okay and I could stop hating myself.

However as much as I dearly wanted to please the psychiatrists and myself it was very clear that nothing that they labelled me with and no drugs that they gave me made any difference to me. The self harm continued.  The only time it can be said that the self harm stopped was when I was in a manic state. For those who do not know mania, at least for me, was euphoric. I loved myself. I loved everybody else. But it was clear that I was crazy. Not at first. And not to everybody. I was accepted as a hairdresser apprentice, into drama school, and even as a psychotherapist! I'm not going to lie and say that I do not miss those periods of mania I do. Unfortunately, I cannot control them and so they become more and more intense until only a moron would not realise there was something wrong with me. I was very lucky that I did not get into any serious trouble.

I only ever ended up in hospital when I crashed. Meaning by this when the mania stopped. For me the stop would be sudden. And I would be left bewildered exhausted and extremely depressed and not wanting  to live and having very little recollection of the previous months that I had been high. One of the most painful things was that during those highs I would make friends with people. But the Colin they knew was the manic Colin and so of course when manic Colin disappeared so did they. Not all of them. Three of them didn't. Judy whom I have known since 1979, my husband John whom I have known since  1981 and my friend Dawn who I have known since the late 80s.

 What eventually freed me, was first of all accepting that I had been abused. You would think that this would be obvious. But now it wasn't. I never saw any of what happened to me as abuse. Not even what my teacher did to me who was a child pornographer. I never thought that my father banging my head into the wall or having his hands are my throat or saying how much  I disgusted him or my mother constantly telling me that I was a bad boy and deserved to be sent away and it was only because she was such a good person that I wasn't.  She would make Bedtime stories that were always about little boys and the horrors that awaited them if they were naughty. Both my parents were control freaks. Clearly they had their own issues.

It wasn't until the late 80s when I was watching an episode of Oprah Winfrey and I heard a young man and the young woman sitting on the couch telling their story of their childhood.  I heard them and I wondered why they were making such a fuss about it and I also wondered why Oprah was crying and why when that camera panned the audience they too were in tears. I knew then for the very first time in my life that what had happened to me was not right. It was not really a Eureka moment because I didn't immediately stop hating myself and I still thought I was a bad person.

It was not until 1994 when I started having such severe flashbacks that I thought I was going to die or go insane but I started looking for help. Of course I did not look for that help from my doctor. Oh, yes of course it was the first place I went when I had my first flashback and all they did was give me a prescription Valium and  chlorpromazine. They didn't much care. Colin was just having another one of his episodes. Well I knew better than that by then.

I found a private therapist who specialised in helping survivors of abuse. He was a survivor himself. I believe that only survivor can really help another survivor to recover enough to live a good and productive life. I say recover enough because we never fully recover. It is more a process without an end. I really hit bingo with this man. He made a promise to me that he would be there for me 24 hours a day seven days a week whenever I needed him. All I had to do was call and he would talk to me as soon as he could or even see me as soon as he could. I saw this man for five years. He never once labelled me. He never once criticised me or humiliated me. He never once told me anything. He listened. And he gently pointed out how their words different ways of thinking. This of course was extremely painful for me because I have been told there was only one way to think and at the time it was the way my religion taught me to think and my parents taught me to think. If I thought differently from them I would surely die because God would strike me down dead for being so evil as to even dare to think differently to the way I have been taught.

However, he was expert at the programming and slowly but surely over the five years he got through to me but in the most gentle manner. He was very parental. We are occasionally still in touch. There are professionals who think that what he did was very unprofessional in that he should have seen me for 50 minutes once a week and left it at that. My therapist new that I wasn't going to live very long and he knew that if he was really going to help me then it was going to be a full-time job. It did not prevent him having other clients. After five years it was my choice to end our sessions together. I felt I had done as much work as I could and there had been enormous change in me. There was still much more change needed but I didn't know that. It was still the right thing to stop my sessions when I did. And anyway he was always at the end of the phone for me if I needed him which on occasion I did. Generally, I just got on with living a life that was very much lighter than it used to be.

However I was still not happy, and I was still vastly overweight. I knew that the abuse that I suffered was wrong. I knew that the things that had been done to me were wrong. I am not talking just about my family nor my teacher who was the child pornographer, the bullies that I seem to come across everywhere I went, the so-called nursing staff in the psychiatric hospitals and this car chase in the evil drugs. Some of my absolute worst behaviour took place whilst I was full of chlorpromazine one of the things that I did still haunts me to this day. Knowing that it was not my fault, knowing that were it not for the drug I would never have done such thing does help but the memory of it stays with me forever. And no I did not kill anybody nor abuse anybody.

The real freedom came for me the day I realised that it truly was not my fault. Prior to that day I understood that it was wrong to abuse child or an adult in the manner that I had been. I still believed however that I was abused because of who I was. That little piece of evil was lying right at the bottom of the barrel and it had not been seen by anybody not even myself.

Strangely enough what brought that finally to the surface was meeting somebody that we had agreed to meet on a holiday in another country. From the moment we met this person was unpleasant to me and I do not wish to go into detail but at one point caused me humiliation and anger by doing something that she knew I could not tolerate. She had also left out a very important piece of information about herself.  anyway none of that matters. What follows is what matters and this person did me a huge huge favour.

Soon after arriving back I was at a dog show and I was feeling a lot of fear in my stomach I mentioned it to my friend and she said it was just nerves and it would go away. It didn't. It grew. And it grew. And it grew. I was petrified and I couldn't stop crying. I was absolutely convinced that I had a tumour in my belly.  fortunately I had a wonderful doctor. She sent me for all of the requisite tests and she showed me the results which said that I did not have a cancer in my gut. And I would sit there crying and saying but I can feel this lump there and it hurts badly and I am terrified. And she would reassure me and tell me that it would be okay and that this needed to happen and I would get through it. I had no idea what she was talking about but I trusted her.  over a period of five months this continued. Then one day I had come to the end. I knew that at on that day I was going to die I could feel it. I didn't call anybody. Instead I walked round and round and round my room not knowing what to do. I eventually screamed out that I couldn't take any more of this and that if you loved me you needed to show me now. I don't know who I was talking to. I fell to my knees and my telephone rang and it was my oldest friend Judy and she seemed to understand immediately what was happening and she spoke to me very gently and very motherly and as if I was a small child and she was telling me over and over that it wasn't my fault that it wasn't because of who I was and then this awful tumour in my gut burst and I must've sounded like a wild animal but my friend stayed on the phone just saying comforting things as I howled out the very last of the pain inside me. What I have written I don't think comes that close to what actually happened but I cannot find words to describe the agony of those months and the agony of those last moments when the monster finally left me.

I lost a great deal of weight after this, eight stone, or over 100lb, and the way I dress started to change. The people I had in my life also started to change new ones came in and a lot of old ones went out.

I am still learning and still growing. I still have flashbacks occasionally. I recently had the most humiliating experience of having somebody pushed one of my buttons hidden very deeply inside me. I was in public and I could not get away. I could feel myself crumbling and all I could think of openly is no not here not here not here.  a very dear friend  saw what was happening and she took me back to my wheelchair and made me sit and she did not say more than a couple of words to me before  the tears flowed.  I didn't need to explain anything to her. She is a very good friend with a very good heart and a very good intuition. She knew that something had occurred which pushed one of my abuse buttons.  and then later as I was going home another dear friend could see that I was a distressed and she was very kind to me and she offered me a piece of jewellery that I had admired earlier and jokingly took off her jacket to put  on mine. It was such a lovely gesture but of course I did not take it. But I will never forget that she offered it to me and she meant it. If I had taken it she would have been happy. But I didn't take it her friendship is enough.

Recently and this is very difficult, I have not been feeling good at all. I feel in a very low mood a lot of the time low enough to feel that I would rather not be here. (It is not something I would do now so there is no need to worry.)  I keep telling myself that should not be feeling like this since everything is going so well. 

I really cannot understand… As soon as I wrote that I realised that of course I understand. My disease has worsened a lot. And it is now really beginning to interfere with what I can do and cannot do. And right at this moment I don't really give a dam that there are other people worse off than me. This is me that I'm talking about not anybody else. I asked John last night if he thought I would still be able to be doing this in two years time then he said yes of course you can. How long do you think then? Seven or eight he said or even longer. I am only 54 even eight years only takes me to 62 and that is far too young to become incapable. this recent trip to Scotland I really enjoyed and I handled well because I was well medicated but I was so ill on the Tuesday. The days after dog shows are becoming much worse. Fortunately John is mainly here because most dog shows full on Friday Saturday or Sunday and John only works Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday now that he has retired.

I know people think that I am very much an extrovert are well of course I must be because of the way that I dress. No. It is part of my act. I can't really explain it but it is like putting on a costume and a different me comes out. It is almost like a different version of the manic me, all rather I mean are toned down version. It also distracts from the fact that I'm disabled because people do not remember me for that and I am no longer described as such. If people want to know who I am they don't say looks and a man in a wheelchair all ups and man in the walking sticks they described the man who dresses up or who has odd coloured boots. Don't misunderstand me. I love the show's and I enjoy the nice comments I receive about my outfits. But I am so glad when I get home and I can take it all off and just be me and stay indoors until the next show. I live quietly. I knit, I watched DVDs, I read, and I spend my time on here. I rarely go out I really enjoy my own company and the company of my dogs. So this really extrovert man everybody thinks they know doesn't exist at all. I am very glad though the I have pulled it off.  I am also very proud of myself for doing it. Know one is more surprised than myself that I dress the way I do and that I make myself so visible when all I want to do is shrink away into a hole and be on my own. I certainly wouldn't have thought that I could cope with being stared at but then I also didn't know that being stared at was not always a negative thing. twice at Scotland professional photographers asked if they could photograph me. This is not the first time this has happened. I find it truly amazing. It makes me laugh inside.

 I won. 
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