The PTSD chain

The chain tightens around my neck once more. Sometimes, it sits so loose and I am so used to its weight I almost forget that it’s there, until it clasps back around my throat and I am gasping for breath. It can be the smallest things that wrench upon the end, capturing me in my noose, an act of violence on the television, an unusual smell, a taste, and suddenly I am overwhelmed. I might not even realise it’s tightened sometimes as I stare blankly, sweltering my own feelings trying not to let them show whilst my heart hammers against my rib cage “They can hear it, surely they can hear it!”.

On my own, I can fight against the chain. I prise my fingers between the cold and my skin, but the more I wriggle and fight, the tighter the chain gets. 

 I long to put this chain down so much. 

At breaking point with services

Today marks my last day of DBT. It has been a roller coaster of good and bad, mostly good though. Yet today, I feel upset. I feel angry and frustrated ¬†and dropped. I will try not to make this a rant about the NHS, as that’s not what I want to do, god knows I understand the struggles – I work for the NHS too!

So how have I been dropped?

Within the first couple of months of DBT, my one to one therapist went on maternity leave, understandable and acceptable and though sad, I got on with it. The DBT group didn’t feel this void for MONTHS. I had signed contracts saying I would attend all sessions, I would try and help myself blah blah blah and my therapist signed contracts too. But it would seem this was the first one way street I was to drive around as though I would be picked up on my end of the contract if I slipped with self harm, for example, seemingly there was no need for them to upkeep their end of the deal and find a new therapist for me.

So months later, the void was finally filled with another therapist, and though I had quietly sat tight for the time without, I was grateful and a little relieved. She was a good therapist, perhaps not always entirely in tune with me but far better than nothing, she was kind and caring. I saw her for longer than my first therapist and the only real hang up was she had a number of taboo subjects which we couldn’t visit, which seemed counterproductive to me.

So a few months later, she leaves, very near to the end of my years DBT. Again, this isn’t picked up for a while and then when it is? I temporarily see someone twice, someone who I actually liked and could connect with and let me talk about ‘taboo’ subjects, she advocates within her knowledge that we can continue to see each other and work through these things to the end of DBT and beyond. Shortly after this, the system picks this back up and says I can’t see her. She is based at one centre, and due to my address I should receive treatment at a more local centre.

So, I have travelled for a year to the further away centre to receive therapy, both group and one to one, and now that its not convenient to them, I’m not allowed to do this anymore. My second, beautifully paved one way street.

I cannot see my new therapist anymore and I am alone. Rather than handing my care nicely over to my local team, from hand to hand, I am temporarily dropped once more. Someone at my local centre will, at some point, pick me back up out of the darkness, dust me off for another 7/8 weeks and then, probably, drop me again.

So right now I am feeling pretty helpless, hopeless and powerless, common themes throughout my life. Once again I have no choice over where I go from now, I just have to sit tight and wait. I truly feel like disengaging and giving up with services at this time and just keep running until I fall for good, it is just not worth it anymore. It’s too hard and inconsistent and though I appreciate it is not the therapists fault, I truly feel that nobody cares.

Talking out

It is not often I see the pros of ‘talking out’, of telling or sharing my story. I am all to easily silenced by myself or others, but a recent blog post has made me think a little more. 

When you have a thought or memory endlessly cycling in yor head it can be near impossible to get it out. If you picture it physically, you can almost see it there inside your skull bouncing of the walls trying desperately to get out, but with your mouth tight shut it has no where to go, no escape. By opening your mouth you allow it out. You create a tangent for your memory to spin off and finally end its repititive circling. Or you can cry it out, I suppose. If you know how. 

That is all. 

Maybe I am just broken

Maybe it is time that I just accept that I am broken, that I can’t be fixed. I have tried for so long to put myself back together maybe it is time I just accepted ‘me’ the way I am and carried on with my broken and painful parts. 

I have carried this pain for so long, blistered and sliced my fingers trying desperately to put the fractured parts of my soul back together maybe I should just give up. My coping mechanisms have gotten me this far, maybe I should carry on with them. Who says I need to be fixed?

I suppose I do, really. Dancing over the shatterings of glass left after a childhood of abuse has proved only painful, but that is the only footing I have. I cannot just walk away, unfortunately. 

I suppose my hands can be fixed, but if I don’t use them to realign the pieces of my soul I will always be broken. 

Food for thought. 

What does abuse do to you?

This is a very difficult post for me, even anonymously, to share publicly. The word ‘abuse’ is a big and scary one and I wouldn’t classify anything I’ve been through as that, though I know others would disagree. 

In light of my recent post ‘recovery’, I’d like to be able to follow it up with a second post that looks more honestly at the shadows behind that word. In many ways, I think DBT (dialectical behavioural therapy) has actually been unhelpful to me. I feel almost as though the past year has taught me how not to cry, how not to react to terror and torment and so reinforced many of the lessons I learned as a child. My therapist, possibly not to her fault, actively discouraged me talking of anything vaguely traumatic and helped gloss over everything that is my life. This has helped me in some ways, it’s arguable reduced some of the ‘BPD’ symptoms (though, I am not sure if I have just made allowances for this elsewhere). The thing it really hasn’t helped me with, and if anything has pushed me further into the hands of denial with, is my PTSD. 

Post traumatic stress disorder. What a phrase. 

I’ve suffered this arguably since I was a child, though obviously I wouldn’t have seen it that way then and I still don’t really now. I have nightmares every night, sure. I have night terrors still, like a child and wake myself up screaming and fighting. And then there’s the day times. Every half step, something seems to trigger my memory and I find myself wincing or bracing to fight my way out. It’s exhausting. It sounds like something out of a movie, but it’s not. It’s really not. This is my life. 

I feel like I am trapped in my childhood, and that wasn’t a good place to be. 

So these are some of the symptoms DBT has not helped me deal with. These are the manifestations of a constant overflow of traumatic memories, one after the other flooding my brain and frying it’s circuits. 
What is it like to have PTSD? It’s exhausting. 

And what of the original trauma? 

Now that I have finished DBT, I am allegedly ‘robust’ enough to start dealing with it. I am not gloating in anyway, but I have ‘survived’ a childhood of abuse, neglect, homelessness but now after a year of DBT you think I might be robust enough – thanks. 

Anyway, so this means onward referal, which I am entirely grateful for. The downside being I must now try and share my story again. 

If admitting to having PTSD is hard, admitting to having been thtough any trauma is impossible. I just can’t do it. So I start scraping around the top of the barrel for some lesser, more acceptable memories. I need to portray to this team I am struggling, but my inner autos kick in and I simultaneously need to portray that I have never been abused in any way shape or form. 

So what does trauma do to you? This. 

It terrifies you to talk and terrorises you to not. 

Even the memories I class as lesser, the one offs, even they terrify me. And it’s only just dawned on me how freaking scary this all is. 

This is all I can share for now. Thanks anyone who reads.