Rock Bottom, Part 2

Being hospitalized brings up such mixed emotions. In a way, it’s a relief; you get a break from life for a while. But then you realize that when you get out, life is going to be the same, if not worse. Missed school, missed exams, late bill payments. Whatever anxiety was reduced quickly comes back tenfold.

As I rode in the back of the ambulance for an hour and a half, my mind kept coming back to two things. The first, why the fuck do these people care about me? I didn’t get it. Why did my friend care enough to take time out of her day to bring me what I needed? Why did she care enough to comfort me when was scared to go? Why did the therapist care enough to wipe my tears away? Why did my therapist care enough to not give up on me? Why did my psychiatrist care enough to save me? Why won’t they just let me be? Why is it so wrong to die? What good am I to these people, to the world?

The second thing stemmed from a conversation I had with the nurse while I was waiting for transport a couple of hours prior. In our conversation, I told her about my writing work with HealthyPlace, my articles on DID. I’m normally very hesitant to share my professional work with anyone on the outside ever since it was used against me. But I trusted her, so I told her about my diagnosis and my writing.

She read through a few of my articles.  Then she stopped and asked if she could ask me a question. I told her it was okay. Then she asked me “why don’t you take your own advice?”

It took me a minute to process. I understood her point. I’ve spent the last two plus years writing about DID, sharing ways to improve communication, work with your system, ask for help. I gave people with DID hope that life could be doable. Yet I had done very little of what I had written. I was giving others hope when I myself was hopeless, telling others to do things I gave up on doing. Why? Because I was different. Because I didn’t think I was worth it. I wasn’t being realistic with myself or with anyone else, and that bothered me.

I held on to both of those thoughts throughout my entire hospital stay. People care. I matter. It probably helped me get through the hospital stay more than anything else did.

I realized early on that the hospital wasn’t the place for me. The first night when the psychiatrist did my intake, she not only made me feel guilty for leaving my brother, but she also didn’t know what DID was. Instead of explaining it, I told her to forget about it. I didn’t have to energy to fight her on anything, or to educate her on things she should have already known. I told her about my heart condition, and my need for sodium-laden fluids. She told me they didn’t do special diets there, and I’d have to deal. At that point, I was done.

The only positive of hospitalization, aside from the friends I made, was being weaned off of my heart medication. The psychiatrist I spoke to the following day agreed that the  medication can have severe side effects in rare instances, and can cause increased suicideality and worsening depression. While I had that before the medication, I certainly didn’t need anything making it more apparent. I appreciated that this psychiatrist listened to me instead of brushing me off as knowing nothing.

I did feel a little bit better once I weaned off of the medication. I was still suicidal, and still very much depressed, but I knew that staying inpatient wasn’t going to help that in any way. I had already been there a week, and it was hell. I wasn’t allowed to leave the floor because I was considered a fall risk. I couldn’t go to outside groups or go to the cafeteria for meals. It was isolating. I called my friend every night. That helped me get through. I knew she couldn’t visit because I was sent somewhere considerably far away; it hurt, but I understood it. I cried the first two nights I was there, but after that, it got easier. I learned of her son’s plan to come in an armored truck and help me break out; I halfway wished that plan was possible.

I was placed as a dual diagnosis patient — which I had to explain several times that I was there for PTSD, not for substance abuse (which, unfortunately, I just discovered they have added DD to my medical record). Most patients there were dual diagnosis — a telling sign of the opioid crisis and its aftereffects. Psychiatric facilities here now have more patients with drug or alcohol abuse than they do general psych. It definitely changes the experience, and the needs of DD patients become priority, at the expense of other patients.

They wanted me to stay longer. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it. I was starting to get stir crazy. One of the patients had become indirectly threatening towards me. It started to feel more unsafe as the days went on. I did everything I was supposed to, so they discharged me, with an appointment the next day for intake at the program I was in before I was hospitalized.

It wasn’t as easy to come back to life as I thought it would be. I felt like a failure. I had to restart program. A program I had been in since August. I saw so many people come and go, and I was still there. And now to be there again, starting all over. Why can’t I just get over everything already? Why can’t I just be cured?

I wish I could say I climbed out of rock bottom, but I’m not sure I have.

The letter to my grandmother

Grams,
I am sorry I haven’t reached out to you sooner. I had to make sure that I was safe, and that meant cutting contact with anyone who was still in contact with my immediate family.

I am safe now. I graduated from college (with high honors) and already started graduate school. I’m working at a great job, I write semi-professionally, and I recently started an organization to help others that have been through circumstances that no one should ever have to face. I am doing great things now.

I am not sure what my family has told you regarding my sudden disappearance, but I can be certain it hasn’t been the truth. I left to escape. I realized that I didn’t deserve to be controlled, hurt, taken advantage of, and abused any longer. I made the decision to leave on my own. No one made me leave. No one helped me except for a close friend. I left with two bags of clothes and shoes, my computer, and whatever money I managed to hide away. I left everything and everyone else behind.

I left because my mother is not a good person. She lies, manipulates, and controls people. She has abused her own children since childhood. She is dangerous. That is why I left. She will never change. I deserved better. R deserves better, too, but I worry that he is far too controlled to escape her.

I won’t get into too many details, because that doesn’t matter. I just want you to know the truth. My mother tries to discredit me by telling people that I am bipolar and a liar. I am neither. I have post-traumatic stress disorder, which is why I was hospitalized so many times in the past 18 months. I wanted to die because the memories of what happened to me were too painful to handle.

My mother has no genuine concern about me or why I left. She was and always has been only worried about herself. My mother sent me one text message a few days after I left. No one – not her, or my father, or Robin – has contacted me since. I have the same phone number and the same e-mail address I’ve had for the last decade. No one is blocked from contacting me.  I specifically didn’t change my number because I knew my mother would make this claim. They are lying when they say that they have tried to contact me.

I worry that they are using you to create rifts in the family, and it’s not fair. They aren’t concerned, they are using you and others to get to me. If they really needed to contact me, they would have. It’s been seven months of nothing. My mother is playing a game. Please don’t be a part of it.

You don’t have to respond to me. You don’t have to believe me. I know the truth because I have lived it. Others know the truth because they have seen it, but they are too afraid to come forward, too scared to stand against my mother. I am not afraid. She can’t hurt me anymore.

I’m sorry that it came to this. If you take anything from this, know that I am safe and well. I am healing now. I struggle every day, but I am getting by. It’s better than the life I had before. I will be okay, and I will love you regardless.

I read the letter out loud to my therapist in our session yesterday. When I finished reading and looked up, I could see the emotion written all over my therapist’s face and I immediately turned away.

She told me my strength really comes through in my writing…the same strength that I so often have difficulty finding when I need it the most. I know I am strong, but I still feel so weak.

I could have said a lot more. But what would that have done? I didn’t even mention my father’s involvement. That’s her son. I am not doing this to hurt her; I am doing this to protect her. I don’t want her to be among my mother’s countless victims.

I don’t know what I’ve gotten myself into. This can be the beginning of something. I just don’t know what that something is yet.

A much needed return to therapy

I admit it.

I can barely handle going an entire week without a therapy session.

My wallet would certainly approve of one therapy session a week. But for right now, my life is still a little bit of a mess and I need more therapy than normal. And that’s okay.

I brought my list with me, but I ended up being able to remember most of what I wanted to discuss. We were able to tackle the most notable events of the past week. I saved a couple of topics for the next session, but they aren’t too serious so I can handle waiting a couple more days.

I told her about my experience on Black Friday that led to the panic attack and flashbacks. Even though it took hours, I managed to finally calm myself down completely. I told her how my coworkers reacted and responded to my needs. I guess I was fortunate in that way, because some people would not be understanding at all. It happens that there is another worker there with PTSD (combat-related), and people at work weren’t really knowledgeable about it. I used it as an opportunity to explain what PTSD is, what causes it, and what can happen, and I think that was helpful for all of us.

My therapist asked me if I had dissociated at all during the incident. I told her I didn’t think that I did, but I couldn’t be 100% sure because I was feeling so chaotic. She said I handled it well, that I knew what I needed to do so it wouldn’t get worse and I was able to assert my needs. I did tell her that I may have dissociated at work in the days prior. On Thursday, a few coworkers asked me if I was okay, because they said I was “out of it” and fumbling around the day before. I remember the earlier parts of my day just fine, and I remember walking to work and starting my shift. I don’t really remember anything specific after that, which makes me think that I did dissociate.

This prompted my therapist to ask if any of my coworkers know about the DID. I have one coworker that knows, only because he found my blog and read it. He doesn’t really know what DID is, and I haven’t made any wholehearted attempts to explain it to him or to anyone at work. My therapist reminded me that I was able to explain about PTSD and had positive results with that. I told her I found PTSD easier to explain than DID. I think that DID needs to be explained through a process. If you try to explain everything in one sitting, you are going to overwhelm a person. I feel like I would need to give out a few tidbits at a time and see how people react to them, and then go from there.

Disclosing and explaining DID is just not something I’m ready for yet. Oddly enough, one of the managers made a comment about her other personality coming out (which had a name) and made jokes about it the other day. I felt a little uncomfortable, but I tried to be understanding in that most people just don’t know about DID and how those comments could be offensive. With that being said, the only way they would know those comments could be offensive is if they knew the reality of DID. I just don’t want to be one of those people who are labelled as sensitive because they find everything offensive. I try to understand both sides, I really do. But I also recognize that, in my attempts at understanding, I am also perpetuating the lack of knowledge about DID by staying silent.

We moved on to discussing graduate school. I completed Monday night of last week and finalized my application that Tuesday night. I’m still stressing about how I am going to be able to handle everything, especially financially. I can use loans to help ease the financial burden, but it’s not going to be enough to live on. I will still have to work, and quite possibly get an extra job if I am cut back to part-time after the holidays. I’m pretty good at stretching a dollar. I can live on little food (one benefit of the bullshit I went through as a child), and have been managing quite well doing that. I’ve been selling some of my things for extra money. But I still know that realistically, I’m not that far away from financial hardship. It’s nearly impossible to get benefits or assistance when you are single and childless, so even if I wanted to go that route, I can’t. Maybe I just need to play the lottery.

Despite the chaos that I still see my life as being, my therapist thinks I have made so much progress, even in the last couple of months. She brought up possibly restarting the trauma-focused therapy, more specifically delving back into the mother-daughter sexual abuse…the same subject that led us to stop intense therapy more than two months ago. I wasn’t expecting her to bring it up. After thinking about it for a minute, I did agree that I was in a different place. I still don’t think I’ve made as much progress as she thinks I have, but I also know that my self-perception is a little distorted. I told her I would be okay with trying it and seeing how it affects me. If it sends me back to a bad place, then we can take another break. I don’t expect miracles. I don’t expect to be emotionless.

We’re starting next session.

This shit is hard.