Yesterday I had what I could class as one of the most brief but intense anxiety attacks of my life. What made it unusual was the cause and the fact that it wasn’t really mine but that of one of “The Others”. I want to tell you about it, but you are going to have to keep an open mind because it’s a little bit on the weird side. My regular readers know that along with Bipolar Disorder, I also suffer from some issues with dissociation and have different ‘parts’ which I call ‘The Others’ there are quite a few of them some are like different versions of the ‘original me’ and some are totally different, we sort of help ‘run my body’ together…
New here? I know I sound crazy! I guess I am (all the best people are) but it’s okay, I promise, just stay with me… – Kate
Firstly, I am/ we are not diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder but I guess what happens to me/us is quite similar in nature and our psychiatrist is working closely with us to help figure it out and manage it. One day when we have it figured it out I will give you all more details, but honestly it’s really confusing for us to understand and we are having a lot of trouble with traumatic memories re-surfacing at the moment that we don’t understand or that are just frightening. Please know that we all contribute to this blog, most of the posts are a collaboration between myself (Suzi) and Katie (original body owner) or just by Kate (she’s the more ‘out there’ one of us particularly when she’s manic- she prefers the term fun, I say annoying, ahem.) The blog entries that are more poetic or spiritual in nature and get comments about being ‘well written’ are usually stories of what is felt by everyone but they are mostly written through Hannah, (she has a way with words) Hannah doesn’t speak or use our body, she lives happily ever after off in the either somewhere spouting occasional words of wisdom. We don’t usually sign off individually, we will usually use the terms ‘I’ and ‘me’, as it’s just easier anyway, most of the posts are relating to bipolar anyway and how it affects us. The three of us (Hannah is seperate) kind of ‘run the show’ or ‘host’ and look at this blog as all of ours.
Still here? Wow! Thanks for that, its probably a lot to take in for some people. Stigma of course is ever present and there is unfortunately more of it aimed at this kind of ‘crazy’ than at people with only the Bipolar kind of ‘crazy’ hence the reason I don’t usually mention it. But this morning I told Twitter quite forcefully that I am an honest person and why that is important so I should probably practise what I preach for once. Also, the wonderful blogger extraordinaire Eve from “Revenge Of Eve” gave me a massive plug this morning which was extremely flattering and centred around my ‘rawness and honesty’, so I have a reputation to live up to and thus, we are throwing caution to the wind and letting it all hang out. Also, a little FYI – for those that follow us on Twitter, 99% of tweets are by me (Kate) and the 1% that isn’t will be Katie and the people she talks to usually know its her or she tells them.
(The following which is the actual post for today has been written by Katie)
I had a sudden memory that was triggered from seeing an image of a journal in a movie, its content reminded me of the one I had kept with me when I was in hospital for depression and suicidal ideation back in 2015. One night in the hospital the journal, which I had left on my bedside table, suddenly went missing. The implications of the journal being read seemed insurmountable and so rather than simply asking the nurses if anyone had seen it, I freaked out and overdosed on some medication that I had previously smuggled into the hospital with me you know, ‘just in case’.
I have always struggled with the fact that I went in there to get better and yet had prepared a ‘plan B’, packed it and kept it concealed whilst there. I never understood why self sabotaging like this made me feel protected, I counter intuitively felt that I would surely die if I didn’t have the safety blanket of my ‘plan B’ with me. Then the journal disappeared. Among poetry and details about the boredom of psychiatric incarceration, the journal was also filled with pages and pages of self directed hate speech, large scrawled words of abuse and anger written around and around in circles and strange patterns. I didn’t remember putting those things into it when I had written my poetry and notes, I didn’t recognise the writing and yet there were secrets nobody else could have known scattered among the oddly formed bitter truths and wild words that I believed about myself, so I guessed I must have done it.
Seeing the journal on the movie had suddenly reminded exactly what was in that journal, I had sort of forgotten about it, I had remembered the poetry and that anxiety over the missing journal had led to the overdose, but I forgot about those other pages until that moment. I suddenly connected the dots and realised that Bel was the one who had written those things, it gave away her position of power to me, it proved her existence and it was she who had felt like her very being was based around the need to protect it, not me.
At that moment I started feeling Bel’s presence around me and the feeling of extreme fear about having a secret revealed overcame me. It was the same feeling from that night in the hospital and I realised she had actually been the one to take that overdose, not me. I guess I already knew she had planted it, but she had convinced me that it was the best thing to do and I was easily convinced. Bel had always stood up for me, even though she was my harshest critic I knew that she knew what was best for me so I went along with it. We had agreed that it was just a ‘plan B’ incase things got too rough. I think deep down I didn’t expect to come home again even though when I went into the hospital initially it was for help, I wanted to stay alive for my family.
She doesn’t accept my husband and children as her family in anyway, she operates alone, except for me, always has. She didn’t harbour the same guilt I did and now that I see it, of course she was the one who grabbed the tablets and she is the one who took them.
I was surprised by this sudden revelation but not upset by it at all, if anything I thought it was interesting and slightly empowering, it eased the guilt a little and it felt of epiphany level importance. But I was also gripped by a sudden feeling that I wouldn’t remember it later, so naturally, I went to write it down. Also, I thought if I wrote it out it would really help me figure it out more. But as I started to get up (i’d been lying in bed watching the movie) I felt myself being “blocked” that happens if I go to do something or say something that one of “The Others” doesn’t want me to do or say.
When I am ‘blocked’ its like a forcefield is stopping me and I generally have to just give up on what I am trying to do and move on, but this time I was desperate to write it out quickly and so grabbed my phone off the bedside table to type it on the notepad. All of a sudden I felt myself starting to dissociate, my vision tunnelled and the world around distorted, I could feel myself being ‘pulled back’ and my fingers started shaking violently and they simply wouldn’t type on my iPhone screen, my hands were useless.
Bel was right on me, she was flipping out and really didn’t want me to type it, she wanted me to forget about it and she was trying with all her might to pull me back. I just couldn’t understand why this was so bad for her to admit. I now know something about Bel that I hadn’t known in previous times when she was being abusive or blocking me from doing things though, I knew she wasn’t an adult, and I knew she was acting this way because she was frightened, not because she was more powerful or that she was right and I was wrong like I had always felt before.
This was not the same feeling as an anxiety attack (well not ones I have had) but that’s probably my best reference for people to try and understand it), I knew it was Bel causing it and I could feel her fear overwhelming me the same way it had back in the hospital, the same way it had at other points in our life.
In all the years she has been near, I have done what I was told and let her take over at her will, even if I haven’t felt quite right about it. She was always the one who burns or cuts me, the strongest voice of verbal abuse and ill will in my head and yet I have never stood up to her because she seemed so, so powerful – and sometimes I really believed that she was my only friend.
So, this time I did something I have never done to Bel before, I fought back.
Ive never felt anything like her strength. It felt like she had grabbed me internally by the stomach and was twisting it and pulling it out of my body towards the floor and then pushing down on my chest at the same time as she frantically screamed NO! The pain of the moment was sheer guttural pressure, not at all sharp, it reminded me of vomiting or that moment when you are giving birth and your body takes over and pushes for you leaving you powerless and possessed. It was intense, innate and completely uncontrollable.
The knowledge that she was a teenager gave me a lot of power because this time I saw her as a hurting adolescent rather than an overbearing expression of the devil incarnate and it gave me the strength to try to push back. She backed off a bit but instead of trying to keep typing which seemed futile I hit the record button on my phone camera and tried to blurt out what was going on that way, I was scared of being blocked out completely before I could record it and The Other’s then forgetting the whole thing had happened.
Now I have it on video, well sort of, it mostly looks like a video of me ugly crying and trying to blurt out the short version of what had happened while it was still kind of happening, but I got the gist of it out and then I felt someone else (?) helping me push her back further and then calm us. One day if everyone gives permission and it could possibly help someone else I might post that video snippet on here, but at this point its very raw and deeply personal.
I wrote to my psychiatrist straight after and told her what happened and while I was typing to her Bel was pulling at me again begging not to be revealed, but not as violently, she seemed defeated. It took hours for us all to calm down, I’d like to say a big thank you to the Twitter people who helped us with supportive words and jokes afterwards too – the online mental health community really is wonderful!
Bel is not really bothering me at I write this now, although I can feel her unhappy presence I think its layered with a sense of acceptance too. She’s officially been ‘outed’ and now we have to finally deal with our ‘relationship’. We have had a tumultuous journey together and I need to make peace with her and have her accept that I am now on the same level as her and she can’t control me anymore because this has gone on for too long and is overwhelmingly exhausting for both of us.
The titillations, tribulations, vicissitudes, and oxymoronic cogitations of a very lucky and unfortunate Neuroscientist with Bipolar Disorder
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Torn. Broken. Writer. “For me, writing is an art of converting feelings to words.”
Read between the lines
The ups and downs of my recovery
On Being Creative, A Mother & Bipolar
Stationery Enthusiast & Mental Wellness Advocate
Speaking Out on the Unspeakable
Creative Writing. Book Reviews. Adult Humour.
NOT ALL WHO SUFFER ARE STRONG
Shattering the Magic Mirror