It’s a beautiful spring day and an unassuming 10m x 5m concrete pad sits quietly in an open space surrounded by green grass. This innocent slab of concrete has seen more than its share of carnage, loss, desperation and fear in its time, but it has also held in its grey speckled surface the power of hope.
I guess I knew it was here somewhere, but I hadn’t actually seen it before today. 100 meters to the right is the hospital and the mental health unit where I nearly lost my life in 2015.
As I sit here in the car park waiting for Red, I look over from the helicopter pad to the red brick building where we took our final breath and I recall a freezing winter night standing outside after someone had pulled the fire alarm and we all watched, huddled in blue blankets as a helicopter flew down over the bricked courtyard of the high dependency unit to land. It was so close you could almost touch it and we had joked about jumping up to grab its skids and escape our confinement.
At that time Deaths Landing had in fact held me before, for a few minutes as I was taken away by air to another hospital in a big city far more equipped to manage my condition.
I don’t remember that flight; I wasn’t conscious, none of us were. When people told me later what had happened, I didn’t believe them for months.
It’s odd sitting here, looking over at the place where part of me left us forever. For years after I couldn’t even drive near this street without having an anxiety attack, now it’s oddly numb.
I’m slowly healing from this grief, tending to the shame and trying to process the pain. I feel the same sitting here now as I do driving along the road where a friend died, loss and a need for unanswerable answers.
I wonder who was there, what they said, how they felt. I wonder about the last song they heard, last word they spoke and what happened around them as the world kept turning when for them it had simply stopped.
A little piece of my heart throbs in the recognition that we will never be the same again.
This week, the universe has forced me down the road to some sort of closure I’m only now realising how desperately I need. I have been half expecting for this awakening for years, but now that it’s finally here, I am nervous.
I know this sounds nuts, but it’s actually not the point of this post, purely an explanation for what followed, which seemed far more representative of a sign from the universe… Where was I? Ok, so if you’ve been a reader for a while, you’ll be aware that I am technically a ‘voice hearer’. Let it be known that I don’t like that term but haven’t got the wherewithal to come up with a better alternative right now. Sorry, it’s 1am, and I’m emerging from a rabbit hole.
Anyway. The “voices” vary in… style? That’s definitely not the right word. Some are absolutely alters, that’s fine, I’ve almost accepted that. Others though, well… let’s just say I’ve been pestered by what I can only describe as entities from a spirit realm. This is a whole thing, largely because it conflicts with my world view, but that’s not the point of this post, so for context I had an ‘entity’ scenario – it was in the form of a name, which was in relation to a situational link to another name which upon investigation turned out to be an unsolved murder case. Not liking the potential implications of this, I ignored this second name, apologised to the first name and then eventually relented and looked up name #2.
A specific Name #2 search directed to a magistrate’s court document page. I scrolled down a few names and rather than Name #2, I instead saw an inquest relating to a familiar name in my personal life. This person was someone I had worked with who died by suicide many years ago. I actually wrote about their funeral here.
So I read it, didn’t I. Over a hundred pages of the inquest into her death. Couldn’t help myself. You see, this death, well it was two months before our last attempt and as much as I loathe the connection people make between suicides and other suicides… This situation had absolutely impacted our own. I’m avoiding details so this might make no sense to you, but our attempt from then has been fucking with my head a lot lately, in many ways and for many reasons and I just need to write something out. So coming across this particular piece of information so bizarrely and right now, well. It’s weirdly cathartic and simultaneously mind fucky.
I now know exactly how this person, the woman I knew, died. I know where & how she was found, who’s been blamed, what measures have been undertaken to prevent similar circumstances. Reading it was an ordeal. A grief for her, a grief for us, anger at the mental health system’s inadequacies, a sense of injustice for her, a lot more questions about our own experience. Frustration, sadness. But I’m glad I read it. Like a sort of partial closure I didn’t know I needed.
Just as I wrote that I heard that entity again, the one that gave me the name (it’s not my deceased friend) – She said that’s what she wants, a sense of closure. It was pleading, hopeful – now the room is suddenly chilly and I feel so incredibly guilty that I can hear her asking me for help and while I’m hardly capable, I can’t even bring myself to even try. The name she gave me, maybe I can look into it a little further, see if any other paths cross. I couldn’t find him in those court documents Google claimed he was in. Maybe Stalkbook will have more answers. Then at least she’ll know I tried. I don’t even believe in this stuff. It scares me. Fuck. 😔
The world inside my mind is on fire. They’re running, screaming, begging and I’m lying down with my popcorn ready to watch it all burn.
The truth hurts. If they really wanted me to speak then they should have realised they’d have to suffer the consequences. My words don’t fit into their nice little narrative, there’s no hero in our story, only demons, lies and secrets that won’t go untold.
You can’t close Pandora’s box my friends, the damage is already done. Maybe they shouldn’t have ever picked up that pen, a lunatic is more acceptable than a biographer that speaks in cold blood.
Time falls around me like broken glass, glinting in the sun. Memories reflect off the shards, twisting, turning.
I remember you in a warm glow. A laugh, a smile, a red ribbon in your curly blonde hair, you were flying on our hill.
Then you were gone again.
She met you for the first time in 1999, on that hill, 14 years before you were finally born. She had waited for you to arrive. Four times she waited, but each face that came belonged to another.
Fate eventually brought you though, in its perfect way. She met you, before she died. She held your tiny hand and knew you were safe, knew you would take on anything the world would throw out, she was so proud.
My little ghost, I ache when I see your face as you look just like her. I see her eyes in yours and I grieve a loss I can’t describe. One day we’ll meet her again, atop our sacred hill and we’ll fly together into the wind, red ribbons in our hair.
Time falls around me like broken glass, glinting in the sun. Memories reflect off the shards, twisting, turning, disappearing beneath me as though they were never there.
I remembered just now the birth of my second son. Not entirely, but a little, mostly watching from across the room. Reading the story of a fellow blogger just now jogged this back into existence and I have tears streaming down my cheeks from the overwhelming joy it’s brought me.
You see, Ive finally remembered it for the first time as images and feelings all tied together, not just a second hand story from The Husband and it is incredible. I remember actually being there, 18years old, in labour, standing in the warmth of the birthing suite shower and wanting to stay in there forever, I remember what must have been a little later lying on the bed in the hospital room and he was born. I remember looking at him for the first time, tiny, squirming and knowing he was different somehow and feeling terrified of what that might mean but the nurses said nothing so nor did I.
Then the next day or perhaps it was the one after, looking into that little Perspex hospital crib next to my bed and feeling so much intense love for this tiny child with the elfin features wrapped up tightly in a blue rug sound asleep and I felt a surge of love so intense I could barely breathe and the will of a lioness ready to protect her young at whatever cost.
Tears sting at this memory, for that child has now grown, he overcame a multitude of difficulties and is an amazing human being, I’m so proud of him. That time went by so fast that I blinked and missed it. I know some of the history, but it isn’t mine to properly feel or reflect upon, I’m not yet privy to its heartache or wonder.
I had to write this out just now because it may be lost again tomorrow and I want so badly to hold onto it, hold onto that powerful love a parent should feel for their child.
I hate what this disorder has stolen from me, but at least I know it’s still inside us somewhere, locked away by someone and they’re sharing more and more of the keys.
It’s too much for now, my head throbs and my eyes sting, I want to push it further but I need to be patient, I need to let go and trust in the process.
For now, I have this gift, and I am so very grateful.
I was angered recently on behalf of a fellow blogger who was, in my opinion wronged very badly by her therapist. I won’t say who, as it’s not my place, but they had what seemed to be a close therapeutic relationship and this was very out of left field.
Reading about what happened conjured up quite an emotional response internally for us, aside from the obvious empathy for our friends situation, and right now I’m trying to sift through and cross examine the way it’s effecting us. They say Anger is a secondary emotion, one that stems from underlying hurt or fear. I suspect the culprit here for me personally is fear.
What if M got hurt or angry at us? Would she talk about it with us openly to repair the rupture or would she become suddenly cold and hostile like our friends therapist did? I couldn’t imagine her being that way, but my friend couldn’t imagine that from her therapist either. What if M decided not to work with us anymore?
Cue over thinking and abandonment issues.
We have had, in my opinion, a close therapeutic relationship with M, just like our blogging friend had with their therapist. Recently however, our relationship with M has felt very distanced. We have not been able to see her in person for a month now due to the Covid situation where we live and while we’ve had longer gaps between sessions, because of issues with closed state borders, it could realistically be several more months before we can physically see her again.
Our efforts to speak with her via Telehealth a few weeks ago had failed as I had forgotten to remind her ahead of time that she’d need to call my landline as my mobile reception doesn’t work at home. I realised about 5 minutes after the session was due to start and sent an email to ring the other number but she didn’t see the email so we missed the session. While those things can’t be helped and she apologised for not reading the email until it was too late, essentially this means we have been without therapy and that is hard.
Now, it wasn’t intentional at all, logically I know this was not an abandonment. It was however incredibly disappointing to unexpectedly miss the session and that kinda has the same overall feeling.
So, we obviously have insecure attachment issues as a system and as such we each react somewhat unhealthily to that feeling of perceived abandonment. Our attachment style seems to vary but I’d say it is some sort of complicated mix between preoccupied and avoidant. Personally, I’m on the preoccupied end. We’re pretty much always scared of being yelled at, judged or rejected really but we don’t really dwell on what people think of us when we aren’t specifically triggered, or at least I don’t. I do dwell like crazy when I am triggered.
If a situation activates our fight/flight response then our go to reactions seem to vary depending on the alter present and the situation. We don’t tend to react outwardly if we are angry (unless you are a misbehaving piece of technology) so we aren’t likely to defensively yell at you if you’ve upset us (unless perhaps, you are unfortunate enough work at Telstra).
But inwardly when there’s an external relational conflict we can feel in turmoil on the inside.
Trying to smooth things out with the person/ persons involved in a relationship rupture tends to be the first go to move for most of us, I know it is for me and it happens so quickly that it’s completely subconscious. I always need to fix the problem somehow and this is approached from a state of fear rather than a state of calm desire for resolution. I’ll give in, give up, say yes when I mean no, agree and people please. Whatever it takes to prevent them from being angry or disappointed in me and in turn, prevent me feeling disappointed in me and reaffirming the schema that I’m unlovable.
I gain an illusion of control by pandering to someone else’s needs. If they’re not upset I’m less likely to be yelled at, belittled, rejected or lose the relationship entirely. Early in childhood I learned that any relationship was better than no relationship and so I learned to put my own needs last in favour of any sense of connection, even if that connection was unhealthy and detrimental to my psyche.
This is why the others nicknamed me Fawn.
In regards to this missed phone appointment with M, it was a very little thing in the scheme of things, but it still activated our fight/flight response. But unlike 90% of my life to date, I noticed it as it happened. Several things occurred in that moment with a few of us present at once. V actually reacted initially in anger at M, ‘M knew we had dodgy service, wouldn’t she think to call the landline?’ I refuted immediately with something along the lines of ‘she’s probably working from home & can’t access our landline number anyway’.
Someone else, I think it was Kate stated that it didn’t matter anyway because phone appointments are pointless as we have a lot of people in the house and there’s no privacy to do any meaningful work anyway. Catherine said we don’t need therapy, we can therapise ourselves. One of the little ones just wanted to hear her voice and was very sad when they realised that wasn’t going to happen and two weeks until the next appointment felt like an eternity.
Shortly after the appointment would have been due to end we got an email reply from M apologising for missing us and seeing our email too late. Someone other than me responded to that rather curtly which upset me when I saw it. I would have been a lot more likely to lead with the whole ‘no need to apologise I should have reminded you blah blah’ because it felt like we had been rude and now this was some sort of accidental rupture and the need to fawn my way through it emerged as I didn’t want her to think we were silly enough to be affected by this, let alone that V was upset at her and then for M in turn to get frustrated with or upset at us and potentially reject us. 🎻
After an internal discussion about M being a big girl who is able to manage her own feelings quite well thank you very much, I refrained from sending an apology laden “please don’t hate me” follow up reply and left it alone. Parts of us had catastrophised the situation and essentially decided at that point that we were never going to see her again and that as such, we had to move on emotionally as a form of self preservation.
It must have been hours later, I’m not sure what was happening in between, but I saw a text from a friend asking how my appointment had gone and I was suddenly aware that I couldn’t remember M. Like I knew the storyline of missing the phone call but there was zero feelings of hurt, anger or any connection at all for that matter. M was now a part of my history and I felt completely indifferent to that fact.
Considering we’ve been seeing her fortnightly for six years and after all we’d been through you’d think that the impression she was now gone from our lives forever would make me upset or there’d be some sort of grief there wouldn’t you? Nope, complete acceptance, well I should probably call it numbness. From me, the chronic over feeler.
I’ll overthink feelings or overthink the lack of feelings. Good to know either way I’m still overthinking 🙄
We have quite the talent for compartmentalising, in case you are unaware, and so I guess in our brains typical fashion, once we realised this lack of access to therapy could be ongoing, we subconsciously walled feelings related to M off in our mind and she went from an integral part of our life to a long lost memory in a finger click.
Because our mind is a curious thing and parts of us can apparently be a tad impulsive, the day after the phone call that didn’t happen, I received an email, which was in fact a reply from a different therapist “I” had apparently contacted in regards to starting treatment.
Oh. My. God.
That obviously wasn’t a well thought out plan, putting the fact that we already have M aside completely for a minute, this therapist is based in the city like M is so they would be equally as inaccessible right now due to Covid anyway. We also haven’t got money to be chasing down extra therapy.
I’m not entirely sure why part of us had really reached out to this other therapist, the email wasn’t overly clear. It could have been a combination of things. There has been some inner frustration about our painfully dramatic life getting in the way of healing old wounds. Parts have stated that they want therapy that doesn’t get hijacked by our current life situations, some want to concentrate on specific pervasive issues and others are more inclined to focus on the present. It seems like someone may have thought they’d sort it out by getting a second therapist or maybe they just thought M was now out of the picture but hadn’t stopped to realise that it was only due to Covid restrictions. Maybe they were mixing up our reactions to our fellow bloggers situation with our own?
This whole thing is weird and has turned into a bit of a thing that feels like it was entirely avoidable. Even though we couldn’t connect emotionally to M, I knew we certainly didn’t want to stop seeing her or at least I didn’t and if the others didn’t want to see her they could just not come to sessions.
So after some deep consideration, I replied back to this therapist while backpedaling in such a way that he hopefully wouldn’t think we’re completely mad. We’ve had a few back and forth’s since and honestly he seems quite lovely. I neglected to mention the DID factor which probably makes things more confusing from his angle, but there’s now at least a plan in place with that whole thing that I now need to get the courage up to discuss with M.
I spoke with a friend today, we were discussing the current lockdown situation and she expressed her frustration at not being able to go to therapy right now and that there was no realistic time frame for when things would go back to normal, if ever.
In that moment I realised that I couldn’t remember what M looked like. I mean I knew her hair colour and could intellectually explain how to drive to her office, yet her face was a blur and emotionally it was as though she had never actually been in my life.
For someone who supposedly feels so deeply, I’m painfully good at forgetting people. It’s been less than 12 months since my Dad died. It’s simultaneously like he is still alive somewhere or he never even existed in the first place. I think I grieved for around a day after he died and then it was over. Nothing. His ashes still sitting in a drawer.
Like my friend, I live in a rural community, so to see M I travel an hour and a half and cross state lines to get into the city. Due to the current Covid situation, the two states have shut their borders and as a result I can’t get across. I can’t help my elderly mother move into her retirement home, I can’t see my GP or oncologist and I can’t see M. I can technically apply for exemptions for these things but I’d have to quarantine for two weeks after returning home each time and it’s just not viable.
Zoom isn’t possible where I live and I was supposed to have a phone consultation with M last week but I don’t have enough mobile service to get calls and I’d forgotten to tell M to ring the landline so I sat by the lounge room window at the allotted time hoping the phone would miraculously get enough service to tell her to try the other number, but all I got was a missed call notification. I emailed, but she saw it too late. In 6 years, aside from when I was in hospital this was the first session I’d ever missed.
There are 7 people in this house right now anyway and zero privacy, so other than attempting to maintain a brief connection for attachment purposes, there’s really no point in even bothering.
I think when the gravity of this initially hit me, I realised I quite realistically may not actually be able to go back to see M in person for the remainder of the year. At that point I think I mentally withdrew from therapy. Like some sort of defensive amnesia, M had become a part of history in that moment, a vague whisper of a memory now mostly lost from my mind, just like my dead father.
I survived on my own for a long time before I met M. They say people come into your life for a reason or a season. I think with M it was both, she showed me people could be good and kind. She showed me consistency and care, she taught me what a secure attachment felt like. But maybe the season for change has come.
Subconsciously I think I know that when it really comes down to it I can only really rely on myself, my selves. There are too many variables with other people, but we’ve got ourselves until death do us part. There’s no grief, no sense of loss, the emotional light switch flicked off and 6 years of building trust and connection suddenly disappeared like yesterday’s dream.
Maybe it’s something that can be recaptured one day, maybe it’s gone forever.
A baby bird sometimes needs to be pushed from the nest by it’s mother in order to fly. Covid has come and pushed me from my comfortable nest and now I can only spread my wings and have faith that I won’t fall.
Kim F, this one is for you (and anyone else who needs to hear it right now). You are already enough, and so much more. 💜
I know things are impossibly hard at the moment and it feels like life outside this pain has never existed and can never exist again.
I know that when the clouds descend they steal the light from your eyes, the will from your body and the hope from your soul.
But this beast in the darkness is telling you lies.
It screams and shouts and stomps and tantrums.
It tells you that your worthless, it tells you you’re a burden or a failure.
The more you resist, the louder it gets.
But the beast is far more scared of you than you are of it.
Because the beast knows that you are brave, it knows you are strong and the beast is terrified. It knows you will rise up and beat it again as you have so many times before and it knows it doesn’t deserve to win.
Because the only thing better off without you is in fact, the beast itself.
In the darkness the beast shrieks and rages, because it is fighting you and it is losing. It is fighting a powerful warrior with a battle to win and a world to conquer.
For once you have shown the world the beast can be defeated, others too can see it’s weakness and through your strength they learn they too can stand.
But you are not alone right now.
You are not the first to come against this beast and you won’t be the last. We find strength in each other.
The survivors that have come before you hear your call to arms and we are here, standing beside you in solidarity and fighting with you in this war.
Because your story isn’t over yet.
You still have the victory scene to write, and it’s going to be magnificent.
I wear a lot of metaphorical masks, but I can’t wear the face kind. This isn’t because I don’t agree with them, quite the contrary I think they’re an important method of keeping everyone safe through the pandemic.
I can’t wear a mask because I have crippling PTSD and even the thought of being asked to put one on can send me into a full blown panic attack. Given the current mandated mask laws in my state, right now and my fear of being yelled at, video’d and labelled a “Karen” on Facebook. I find it easier if I simply don’t leave the house.
Reading the news today I saw a story about a woman who was fined for not wearing a mask despite claiming to have a medical exemption. She had continued to refuse to put one on despite police requests and had allegedly become verbally abusive towards the officers. The result of this was that she was summoned to appear in court.
When the court date came she was refused entry to the building for refusing to wear a mask and appeared via video link instead. The article has stated the magistrate has set a new date and told her she must appear in person and wear a mask should they still be mandatory in the state, or she’d be arrested.
I don’t know the people in the story, it’s one article that I read. I don’t know if the person in question had a genuine medical exemption or if she was just saying that to avoid wearing one.
I do have an exemption from M, but apparently they’ll only get you so far. I’ve already learned this the hard way by not being able to have tests at the hospital for abdominal pain after my GP and gastroenterologist had sent me in fearing a cancer recurrence. I would either have had to wear a mask, or sit in the separated area full of people with Covid symptoms. Having just completed chemotherapy neither option was safe and so I just went home.
When I had symptoms that could classically have been related to a heart attack weeks later, I didn’t bother to seek treatment at all.
So, I have a PTSD issue bad enough for me to avoid important medical tests and treatments. I also live with chronic mental illness and have struggled with suicidal ideation since childhood. When I read this article, being the over thinking type I am, I immediately put myself in the shoes of the woman and had a mini anxiety attack.
As those of you who know my history are aware, I don’t respond well to being cornered. If this was me, and a judge had threatened to throw me in jail if I didn’t attend a court appearance and wear a mask, even though my mental health has been steadily improving with therapy, I think a situation like this one would throw me right off the metaphorical edge.
I can honestly say, the depth of the anxious feelings coming up just hearing this story (which has nothing to do with me personally at all) are so overwhelming that I would be likely to take my own life just to avoid being forced to wear a mask for a court appearance.
Yep. I am completely aware of how ridiculous that sounds. I am also completely aware that there are doctors and nurses wearing full PPE and masks for over 12 hours straight every day and I am incredibly grateful to them. Maybe I’m just weak, maybe I’m pathetic, maybe I’m a selfish ungrateful so and so. I know my feelings are illogical.
But PTSD isn’t logical, nor something I can just put on pause or ‘choose’ not to have. This situation terrifies me so much that death is a preferable option. The state of pure anxiety is so strong that I will completely forget my loving family, my children and friends and how my death would impact them. In that moment the only thought I can process is the need to GET AWAY and if the only escape I can see is death, that is the option I will take.
Given my bias on the subject, I can’t decide if the magistrate is being reasonable or not in his demand for her to appear in court physically. I also know that a lot of people will claim they have conditions that they don’t really have just to get around the rules. Those people make it harder on folks like me who are just trying to get through without the humiliation of a public breakdown.
I’m also not commenting on whether the initial fine she was issued is justified or not, or if her response to the police was acceptable. Assuming her claim for the medical exemption is legitimate, I’m mostly upset that the magistrate is able to have a warrant for her arrest if she refuses to attend court in person because of the mask mandate. I feel there should be alternative arrangements available. Why would video link not be acceptable?
I feel that this sort of precedent could dramatically affect the mental health of people who suffer from genuine medical concerns that make mask wearing impossible. Would the police even accept my exemption? If not, would they let me go home without a mask or force me to put one on?
There’s already so much stigma when it comes to mental health issues and the police, what would happen if I were to have a mental health crisis over this time and the police became involved? Being forced to wear a mask would likely cause a total breakdown potentially escalating a situation that could have been largely preventable.
What do you think?
Last night I said goodbye.
Packed up my mind, my heart, your lies.
Tomorrow came, in its inevitable way.
And the months became memories, soon fading away.