The mental health system often does more damage than good. As I reflect on my own journey, I realise I was actually better before I started seeing therapists. My experience has been a little like losing a beloved parent over and over. This is because my clinicians become attachment figures. As Julie Wetherell writes in her article “Complicated grief therapy as a new treatment approach”, “Attachment figures are people with whom proximity is sought and separation resisted; they provide a “safe haven” of support and reassurance under stress and a “secure base” of support for autonomy and competence that facilitates exploration of the world.” But it is the wrong place to look for closeness because these relationships are fragile. The service is not long-term, the clinician moves jobs, the clinician retires, we can no longer afford therapy… there are plenty of things that can sever the relationship and send us into a very deep, primitive kind of grief. Really these people can only be a tiny part of our lives and relying on them for such large things like safety and security is only going to disappoint us. I am now a shell of the person I once was. The day I started counselling was the day my world started to shrink. I went from being a full time student to part time and finally not studying at all (and not because I had found a job). I was once dux and now I am on social security and in and out of psych hospitals. I used to be an activist and involved in a lot of groups on campus. I now barely see anyone apart from my mum and dad. I’ve lost touch with most of my old friends because I suck at maintaining relationships. Everything that has happened to me is consistent with what happens when we lose an attachment figure. “In acute grief following the loss of an attachment figure, the attachment system is disrupted, often leading to a sense of disbelief, painful emotions, intrusive thoughts of the deceased individual, and inhibition of the exploratory system,” continues Julie. Continue reading “Attachment trauma with therapists”
“And now you are just a stranger with all my secrets.” lauraklinke_art
She swept into my life while I was at my lowest. It was my first time being in a private hospital for my mental health and she was my nurse. I remember being blown away by the level of care shown towards me, which sat at stark contrast to the public hospital I was in a few years back. She told me she felt protective of me like she was my big sister. She was always looking out for me and said that during handover she would ask to hear about me first. Continue reading “Betty”
“The tide recedes, but leaves behind
Bright seashells on the sand.
The sun goes down but gentle warmth
Still lingers on the land.
The music stops and yet it lingers on
In sweet refrain.
For every joy that passes
Something beautiful remains.”
Martha Vashti Pearson
An excruciating sense of loneliness has followed me all my life. I never had a solid group of friends as I moved schools seven times. I was always the new girl, the outsider, and wherever I went, I was told how much I was hated. I was bullied at nearly every school and this took the same form each time: exclusion. No hands were laid. Sometimes no words were even spoken, I was simply glared at from across the room. We called it “the evil eye”, a glare reserved for the most despicable. Sometimes I wonder whether that is why people’s faces are a blur to me, my mind’s attempt to protect me from seeing such hatred again. Continue reading “I am not alone”
You list all that you have accomplished: clarifying my diagnosis, getting me on the NDIS, getting me into Spectrum.
“Is there anything we’ve missed?” you ask me. “Is there anything else you need?”
“I need you,” would be the honest answer, but I do not let it escape my lips.
As you summarise your progress, it sounds as though you’re wrapping up our time together. You don’t see a need for you anymore. Pain builds inside me like a tsunami, yet no tears reach the shore.
“Are you trying to get rid of me from this service?” is all that comes out.
You tell me there are no plans to finish up with me in the immediate future. It is not the answer my mind is looking for. I need you in my life not just in the immediate future, but forever. Tell me you will stay with me forever. Continue reading “Life inside the BPD mind”
The other night I had a good, long talk with myself. I had to call myself out on my attitude towards an important relationship. I realised that I had not been as grateful or appreciative of what I’ve had as I should have been.
I found myself always wanting to spend more time with my friend. Always thinking about planning for the next meeting or activity together. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to spend more time with somebody. When you meet someone you connect with it’s only natural to want to spend time with them. But I wasn’t being as patient or understanding as I should have been. Not as much as they deserved. I would hope to see them and be disappointed when it didn’t happen. I would often be upset because I couldn’t see them as often as I would like. Continue reading “To be grateful”
The clothes drier is a drill into my scull.
It’s hum incessant, pausing only briefly before continuing to deepen its reach.
Clothes spin round and round,
Thoughts spin round and round,
Why am I going round and round, in and out of hospitals, getting no where?
Looking in the mirror one morning I realised that I didn’t remember the last time I was happy with myself. I’m not talking about my negative view of my physical appearance, which is something I also struggle with, but my inner self.
I hide behind a veil of confidence and humour trying to hide a deep seeded self-consciousness. Ever since high school I’ve been putting on an act, some theatrical character, because I figured people would like him better than they would me. There was a point early on where I was me, the real me, but I wasn’t accepted. I was cast out and bullied and made to feel like a freak for being who I was. And so I became someone else. Somebody who I hated. Somebody who I wish would go away.
There are only a handful of people whom I can be my true self around. People who I feel safe enough around to drop the act, to stop pretending. It’s strange but I’m almost scared to stop acting for fear that I won’t like what I find.
As I said most of us are broken and are merely trying to fix the cracks. But I want to stop pretending. I want to be able to be who I am and not fake it. To show everyone that I can have the confidence to be myself regardless of whether people like me or not. Then I would be able to look at myself and like what I see.
We are like flower buds with many layers/dimensions. The Energetics Institute breaks these layers down on their website.
There is the self we present to the world. This is called the “Social Mask”, and is what we pretend to be so that we will be accepted. Behind this is the “Lower” or “Shadow” self, the “Primal Wound”, our dark side which we learn to hide. But there is a side even deeper than the Lower Self. This is our “Higher” self, our core, our soul self, our Life Force. This is the pearl which only the deepest sea diver will get. We need to go through our shadow self to find it. Continue reading “Layers of self”
The coronavirus is giving many people a taste of how I’ve been living for YEARS now… the isolation, the lack of touch, the lack of structure, the aimlessness and lack of purpose. Little has changed for me, and yet this existence suddenly feels more unbearable than ever. I know I can still see my friends one-on-one but it all feels pointless because I’m lonely even when I have company. Something separates me from people. My therapist calls it a “space suit”. When we have experienced trauma, we pull back from the world, and only relate to it via the space suit. But it starts to get very lonely in here and actually it’s like being starved to death if we keep the space suit on for too long. We can’t feel the things that make interacting worthwhile/meaningful, we can’t experience intimacy, and we walk away frustrated that people don’t meet our real self. Instead all they know is the space suit, and some even fall in love with the space suit believing they have found true connection.