Okay, some of you might get a bit lost by this post. This is Suzi and Katie giving you a bit of an update, Kate’s struggling at the moment and not on social media or writing much, she’s okay though, she had a nice day catching up with a friend on Friday, they went to the coast, rode a big old horse called Homer and enjoyed chatting for the whole drive. So we are going to be talking about some dissociation problems that have been happening (as we are feeling them right now). Yes, it will come across as weird if you have not read other posts about this or been in this situation personally. Note to new readers, this is not related to Bipolar Disorder, it is a separate struggle that we are still trying to understand fully ourselves, we have written individually here rather than all together like we sometimes do. those who know the backstory already read on, if you don’t feel free to skip this one.
Now Bel has been mostly AWOL for a long time, which has been the best thing for me as I can’t really cope with her among all the dramas happening for us at the moment, but Bel appeared out of nowhere on Friday during a trip to CostCo. We have been to CostCo before, we are not members but we used to buy things there occasionally for work functions when we worked for the government and were on the social club committee. Anyway, Bel hadn’t been around during those visits but we were with Kate’s friend J this was the first time Kate had ever been ‘fronting’ (so to speak) in that store and she isn’t as good at keeping Bel down as we are. So long story shorter, Bel was triggered really badly by the sheer quantity of unfamiliar foodstuffs and the general “OMG how many calories are in this shop?” Eating Disorder mentality and started having an internal meltdown.
This made for an interesting trip with my poor friend J who couldn’t quite grasp why her friend Kate who she’d just been at the coast horse riding with for the day went from excited and chatty to suddenly completely overwhelmed and having a massive anxiety attack in the middle of CostCo. Luckily J is a pretty forgiving sort!
Bel if you didn’t know, is the forever 14yrs old rather impulsive, sometimes aggressive part of us with the most serious eating disorder behaviour and associated anxieties – having Bel near you is kind of like experiencing intense intrusive thoughts with their own stream of consciousness and personality that argue back at you. And she was giving Kate absolute hell wanting to physically get out of there. Poor Kate was trying desperately to hold her back because they were waiting on some Pizzas to be cooked to take back home for a birthday celebration. Then Bel noticed a group of police at the registers who were buying some things and she started eyeing off the guns in their holsters wanting to break free from Kate and run over and take them by surprise, essentially with some half baked goal to shoot herself or get shot trying. *sigh*
It was really hard for Kate to manage her, grounding exercises will only get you so far when part of your mind seems hell bent on having a crisis. Luckily the police left quite quickly and then the pizzas were ready so they were able to leave, although Kate had to take a photo of the coffins on the way out for Bel, because, well she’s Bel. And Kate thought it was pretty hilarious that you could buy a coffin to use after you have died from a heart attack after eating the ridiculous quantities of food they sell. Anyway, Bel calmed a bit when they got to the car and faded back enough that they enjoyed the rest of the night. Kate even ate a slice of the pizza (which was the size of her head) as a bit of a ‘screw you’ to Bel. Which is oh-so-mature, and yet apparently still weighing on all of our minds three days later because I’m mentioning it here…
So, the next day, Saturday we went to a dear friends 50th birthday bash and our other wonderful friend E was there too, E is the only person in ‘real life’ who is aware of the full extent of my mental illness and associated issues, including the dissociation. E has known me for over 12 years as a general combo of Suzi and I, and fairly recently she met Kate, as just Kate for the first time. Which was weird for E but she was absolutely awesome about it, Kate loves her as much as I do and is trying to carve her own identity and wanted to say hi properly.
E has been having issues with her 15yr old daughter who has some severe mental health problems that are only getting worse and she has been getting bugger all useful support from the mental health crisis team etc. Now I hadn’t actually seen her daughter (who I will call C) in a couple of years, we tend to catch up away from the children so we can really talk, anyway I knew all about C’s issues which include a level of dissociation (but in a very different expression to ours) but when we saw C again I felt Bel suddenly come up and she was really excited. Bel apparently related to C and wanted to come out and talk to her, she wanted to ask her where she got her nose pierced, if it hurt, she wanted to know how C got her eyeliner like that and if she had told the nurses in the ER the previous night to go fuck themselves (C had been there for another MH crisis- and been sent home) She wanted to ask all sorts of things and yet I absolutely couldn’t let her because, well where do I start….
Have you ever tried to keep an extremely determined teenager from what they want? ITS REALLY HARD! And when you are in a crowded party scenario with other adults who know you but don’t know your situation it’s even harder. Its also hard to tell which thoughts are yours and which are hers, when she pushes like that they start blending and you have to try and speak without suddenly becoming her. Its difficult to explain properly but I liken it a little to trying to act like you are not really drunk or stoned in front of your parents…
Between all this Bel wanting to get out and talk to C, her Mum E and I were trying desperately to have a catch up deep and meaningful Adult conversation in the corner, but C kept walking over and in turn, that kept triggering Bel. It was really freaking hard to concentrate and I have absolutely NO IDEA what the best way to handle this sort of situation is, it hasn’t happened quite as intensely this before, certainly not in public. Any helpful ideas from those with similar experiences would be most welcome!
We had to leave the party, but I am going to catch up with E again privately soon, do you guys think I should tell E about this conflict? She knows a little about Bel, but she also knows about Bel’s issues and I wonder if Bel relating to C like that would just be an unnecessary worry to her? I also want E to be able to feel like she can keep talking to me, she really needs me to be a safe person to vent to.
It’s not that Bel would be intentionally malicious, but I definitely feel like she wouldn’t have anything helpful to add to C’s situation and I think we should definitely avoid C until we can understand how to handle Bel better. Should I ask my Psychiatrist M for advice on how to work through that situation if it happens again? Or better yet, prevention? Bel is obviously craving attention from someone she can relate to. I also don’t know how much we have really told M about what is going on with us, I think she knows more than I know for sure she knows because others have said things and I don’t really remember properly (if that makes sense) but if I just ask her what to do without enough background context she’ll wonder what the heck I am talking about. I also don’t know that she would know what to do anyway – she’s a bloody good shrink, but it’s a bit of an odd situation! Okay, I will leave it there for today.
Apologies that we rarely seem to find time to write or visit blogs anymore, thank you to those that have been checking in. Life is overwhelming right now and Kate will definitely try and get back into it properly when she has the time and strength.
Love, Suzi and Katie