A better day…

Today saw a little lift in the thick black fog which has been suffocating me for the last fortnight… 🙂 I can feel it wearing thin so will probably go to bed before I totally crash again, but so far, so good..

I’ve been a hermit since leaving hospital. Up until today, I hadn’t met with any friends, and had no wish to either. I wanted and needed my own space. I still do. However, this morning when I woke up I felt a knot in my stomach and more tears, and had another meltdown on the carpet…crying until my ribs felt like they were going to break, again. This is becoming a morning norm. I don’t like it. After I’d calmed down, I thought you can’t lock yourself in this mess forever Jade. Push yourself today…and reward yourself tomorrow.

So, I pushed myself. I met with a friend who lives a short distance away, but it involved me being able to get a train, get off, and not freak out in the meantime. Two weeks ago this would have seemed simple, but today it filled me with a lot of anxiety. What if I flashback on the train? What if I see an abuser? What if I see a friend and have to talk to them and be all smiley? What if I burst into tears for no apparent reason? countless thoughts making me panic. It’s a vicious cycle. I want to avoid panic attacks in public, but get so worked up about the prospect, that I inevitably have them.

Today’s count was just 5 in total, with only two being biggies. That’s pretty good I think 🙂

I met with my friend, and we talked in some depth about a photography project. It felt good to be talking and planning something productive again; that bit of my brain had fallen asleep and I felt it creak reluctantly as it was rudely woken up. I felt safe with my friend, in his pub. Nobody knew I was there, and it’s such a cosy place set in a beautiful landscape. I felt myself relaxing for the first time in two weeks, and felt the pain in my shoulders and neck as this happened. Wow, I had been tense for a while.

Afterwards, I caught the train back. Then I had to catch a bus to hospital, because I had a therapy session. (Yes, I decided to push myself on the day of therapy, so that if I needed catching…the person was only a matter of hours away!) I was filled with nerves though, wondering how I could tell her I’d been back to hospital. I suddenly felt absolutely ashamed of myself, convinced I’d gone backwards in recovery and that she’d be annoyed. I got so lost in these thoughts that when she came into the empty waiting room to get me, I jumped out of my skin. Her eyebrows rose just slightly, and she smiled.

In her room, she said “so…how are you?” I smiled, crossed my legs neatly and placed my hands on my lap; perfect posture, perfect mask. “Okay,” I said, but then hesitated before saying, “I was back in hospital last week…” I said it quietly, watching her face for any sign of anger.

There was none. She rose her eyebrows and her mouth made a perfect ‘o’ shape, before she said “oh! So not okay then!” with an almost amused expression. My mask shattered and I slumped into my seat, and she smiled at me encouragingly. Me and her have been getting on a bit better recently, now that I’ve grown to trust her a little more and she’s come to accept I’m not textbook. She asked me what had happened, and I told her. I refused to cry but it came very close, and she was very good. Afterwards she said “okay. well this is going to take some time to recover, and the next couple of weeks in particular we need to focus on bringing your heightened fear levels down to something more manageable, so we can work on the rest…”

We discussed my current behaviour. I told her I was hermitting, and said it’s because I feel safer. If I simply don’t let myself near *anyone*, then I can’t get hurt, can I? Simple logic, and made me feel much safer. I could practically see my personal space, and knew nobody was around, so knew nobody could invade it. However, I don’t last very long on my own, as she well knows, so we talked at some length about the hermit behaviour. I said maybe baby steps would be a good plan, so I’m not thrown straight into panic. She agreed. I said after therapy I might head onto campus for an hour and just show my face in the music office. Just an hour, I said. Then I will go and hide at home and let the anxiety levels drop a bit. Tomorrow I’m getting my hair cut, and then I will hide at home some more.

She offered some techniques and ideas for calming my heightened fear senses down…and when they’re calmer I’ll be able to cope more with the other emotions.

I’ve been plagued by body memories lately. They’re horrible. There’s zero emotion attached to them but my legs will suddenly kicking. All of their own accord. I’m awake, I can see it…I feel like I’m possessed. But it’s a pure body flashback. Or I’ll suddenly feel like someone’s squeezing my neck and choking me. My eyes will water, I will feel the intense pressure, feel my lungs screaming and the pain in my neck…and then it all stops. Or I’ll feel the cold chains on my wrists, tying me to the wall, cutting into me. Or the feel of a gun being pressed firmly into my head, cold and hard, and oppressively painful. I blink, and it’s gone. I told the therapist all of this and she assured me that it’s quite normal; just a different layer of processing.

I told her I’m struggling with grief, that I can feel my babies in my chest screaming, and I don’t want to scream because then I’ll lose them, but the pressure is so intense I feel like it’ll literally break my heart. I told her my arms go limp because their job as baby-carrier and soother have been rendered useless. She nodded her understanding and agreed that it was intense, and said “there’s a lot of layers of grief there. Grief for yourself, grief for your babies and those you’ve lost, fear of losing them…then realising you’ve already lost them but you can’t let go…” she said it was obviously complex and that my body and mind were understandably overwhelmed with grief, but that it was normal and okay. The grief tied into survivor’s guilt, and I said “I just…I think of all those children who were in that place. And I’m the only one to walk out, vaguely in one piece. I survived, and got to university. Only survivor. I really struggle with that…” at this point my voice cracked and I realised I was on the verge of tears, so I looked away from her until I’d taken control. We talked about survivor’s guilt, and she helped me with it.

I said I’d found a website where survivor’s can talk, and that I’d been overwhelmed by the number of ritualistic abuse survivors, and that I’d noticed a lot on the site were from America. She nodded, and said America is currently more open about DID/multi-personality and as a result they’ve had a sharp increase in the number of ritualistic abuse survivors coming forward. She mentioned someone in the UK who’s been doing a lot of work, and how she’s worked with victims from a lot of rings. My therapist said “there are a lot of rings that survivors have talked about. But of course there a lot of rings we know nothing about…”

I was stunned. A few weeks ago she didn’t seem to be so aware of ritualistic abuse, or maybe she was simply trying to get me to tell her what my experience of RA was without letting on she actually knew fine rightly what RA was. I don’t know. But now suddenly she seemed very aware, and talked a bit about this. Someone from this world open to the idea of the RA world being so vast? And largely undiscovered? Amazing. It was so amazing to hear I nearly wept with relief. I just said “thank you…” she didn’t ask what I was thanking her for. I think she knew. I found myself opening up a bit about the aftermath of being in the RA world, and what it’s like being well-known in that world. How it feels like I’ll never escape. But I told her I need to speak out. I need to. There’s so many other victims still trapped in that HELL. I can’t stay silent just for the sake of my own life… I’d end up taking my own life out of guilt, I’m sure.

Bizarrely, I suddenly felt less alone. Like she’d validated me, somehow. Like I don’t need to hold the most gruesome and horrific parts of my past, that I’ve sheltered from *everyone* so far, so close to my heart. Maybe one day I could open up to her. Maybe. Maybe the children’s’ stories will be told…so they will never be forgotten or disregarded.

I left feeling drained; it was certainly an intense session and even the therapist said “okay I think we need to slow down now, it’s nearly time to finish.” I realised I’d raced through so much. Just jumping from one to the next, which is largely how my head feels. There’s not just grief. I kinda wish there was. But it’s not that simple. There’s too much going on and my head feels like a tornado of emotions and memories. But she soothed it a bit today, and for that I’m grateful .

Afterwards, despite feeling shaky and just desperately wanting to hide at home, I stuck to my word and made my way to campus. I felt extremely anxious but as ever everyone was warm and friendly. Nobody was going to hurt me here…

Then I went home. And jumped straight under a blanket and hid, shaking violently after the day. Nothing traumatic or bad happened but my anxiety levels had just been so high and now my body was recovering. I think my body was saying what the hell was that? why?! it had been trying to tell me it wasn’t happy all day with the sporadic panic attacks. Tomorrow I will be nicer to it. I just needed to prove to myself that I’m not a complete right-off. Not yet. Still some fire left in me, even if it’s spluttering a bit.

Tomorrow I will go out simply to get my hair cut. Then I will return home and feel safe.

Today was better. I will pay the price for it with nightmares, probably. But it’s okay. I know now I can get myself out of the house and to do tasks, something which has recently been an impossible feat. I’m glad to be home with doors locked and blinds down and in my own little cocoon. But it’s nearly start of term, my friends are all due back soon. I need to do some baby steps now so that I’m not overwhelmed by a sudden increase in population….

Good effort. Nervous about what the price will be…but think it was worth it.

PS – I’ve finally received the news that I will be funded for my degree 🙂 PHEW.

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