Posts tagged ‘mental illness’

We Connect.

One of my talents, before and after, has been making connections. Bringing people together, fostering relationships, maintaining them. I’ve been thinking about connections this week, both personal and professional, both IRL and virtual. I’ve been exploring social media for business promotion purposes. I’ve spent a bit of time online over the last few years – try to contain your shock – and I’ve seen the way communities, friendships and relationships can grow. I’ve been an early adopter of most forms of social media and can see how they can be utilised for promotional purposes. For the small business owner the beauty is there are heaps of things you can do with no outlay except an investment of time. I’ve been working on some things for the owner of the cricket coaching facility that my Son Number Two attends each Saturday. The cricket guys and the involvement with cricket has been so positive for Son Number Two. The guys there are all great and working on this has been fun and reminded me that I have skills I can use. Watching word spread, and more and more people ‘liking’ the fan page I’ve set up is almost as cool as seeing how many people read my ‘Whatever gets you through the night’ posts.

On a personal level I’ve been connecting online with a group of ex-service men and women. They are a tight bunch but very welcoming and we share diagnosis’ of PTSD and related issues. They are funny and super supportive of each other. Our individual roads less travelled, our highways to Hell, may have been different but we have all ended up in similar places. Talking to someone who knows how you feel cannot be underestimated, nor can sharing with someone who gets the associated black humour. The thing is though, is that they have left themselves open to connecting with people. With a lot of mental illness it is an uphill battle against detachment. The temptation to isolate yourself, to curl up into a little ball and shield yourself against a world that is too harsh, too noisy, too in your face is huge. After my Daughter Number One died it was a conscious effort not to live in anger, hatred and bitterness. I felt that would be giving more power and allowing more to be taken from me by someone who had already taken so much. Fuck, it’s been hard though. To trust, to make friends, to love. The effort cannot be underestimated. Because if you do leave yourself open to the good you also leave yourself open to the bad, and no one’s life is completely plain sailing. You always hurt the one’s you love and they you, because those are the people you leave yourself vulnerable and exposed to. The point though, is that the payoff is so worth it. To have someone know you as well as anybody could, to have someone who understands you better than anyone else, to have someone who hears you when no one else can, to have someone who sees you as you truly are and have that someone love you anyway. With all your faults, your imperfections. Through good times and in bad. For me, that’s absolutely worth the risk of hurt. Because for me, that is what life is about. Living is loving.

Not everyone can do it. I understand that. For some it’s just too big an ask to let anyone ever be that close to them again. You can only do what you can do. My very special friend, who introduced me to all his special friends has found a new love and they have been very open about their affection for each other. Being privy to that has been so cool. It makes my heart so glad. It is a privilege really. It’s all about hope. And how lovely of them to share that hopefulness with their happiness. For me, hope is what you need to carry on through the tough times. Hope things will get better, easier. Hope that the good times will return. Hope things will work out. Without it there is no reason to get out of bed in the morning, no reason to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

The kicker is, though, is that you have to find the energy, and the guts to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and soldier on. There’s a whole wide world out there and in spite of many indications to the contrary there are lots of good people out there too. You just have to be open to it. It’s like using the world-wide web for small business promotion. The potential is there, but the fact is unrealised potential is the same as no potential at all. Maximise your potential. You are the only one who can.

Travel safe guys x

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Whatever gets you through the night – Part One.

I think I’ve used this song title as a post title before but it’s appropriate and I cannot be fucked to check, so that’s that then. It will be in two parts, so hold on to your seat – we’re in for a wild ride. There will be strong emotion and strong language – you’ve been warned.

Lori, over at RRSAHM, wrote a post recently about grieving publicly. She ended with the words “There’s just that deep, black grief… and getting through it. Any damn way you can.” As regular readers know three days ago it was the ninth anniversary of my Daughter Number One’s repeated rape and murder. Just because that day CLEARLY wasn’t hard enough I received the following email (all spelling and grammatical errors as per original):

Dear Kate,

My heart goes out to you today, it has gone out to you every day since I was told what you’ve been through… a day you will no doubt be reliving minute by minute, hour by hour in it’s ugly entirety to mark a time no-one will ever be able to comprehend what it has been like to walk the marathon in your shoes.

By default we know each other… albeit from a distance, which may in fact never change after this message, … if it doesn’t, I will understand.

I don’t claim to be psychic, nor advertise openly what some people may interpret as a ‘gift’.  That it is not!  XXXX only as of only a few minutes ago is aware of it, and I am prepared for what potentially may happen to our friendship as a result.  I am hoping she’s known me long enough to realise I’m not a freak (it’s ok because I sometimes think I am)…perhaps a little wierd, but not totally psycho (but hey there’s always potential ;)).  It is however, a casualty that will be out of my hands, one I am prepared for as I have done with my marriage and other special relationships with people in the past I have lost, so I can remain true to myself.  I have only said this so you can hopefully understand that I don’t take lightly intruding into your grieving space, without what I believe to be good reason.  Well honey, Sam sure as shit isn’t giving me much of an option, and I’m sorry but I’m not having her piggy backing my ass until I eventually admit defeat and do it anyway.

My so-called ‘gift’ is being an occasional ‘portal’ … a messenger girl if you like.  It is very rare that I am seconded…usually only in extreme cases, which I’m not even aware of until the time.  And for Sam it is now.  I had no idea until this-morning…and she has been up my ass (figuratively speaking) the past four hours and is not giving in until you hear her out… Man she is one persistent woman!

She will only come through the once, that is their promise to me and my rules, so I am not an ongoing portal…that is something you have to refine and tap into over time… so go and make yourself a cuppa, grab some tissues coz we’re going to have a chat.

Ok, before she starts she wants you to raise your right hand, ..

Now give yourself a bitchslap mum! And another one for good measure…and then a hug….

I love you mum, I don’t think I ever really showed you how much…to me you were and still are and always will be so beautiful…no-one or nothing can ever take that away mum, not ever.   I have hovered around watching you rot for so many years, I hear your thoughts, I watch you cry and feel your pain and relive what happened day in day out with you…

But enough is enough because I’m not completely the fuck (sorry) dead (she’s pissed off) yoo-hoo I am still here..  I may not be there in person buy hey, look at it as a daughter with benefits… you don’t have to wash or cook or clean up after me.  I know it’s not the same and yeah I’d rather be there to, but that sure ain’t going to happen, so just work with me a bit.

What’s done is done and I’m ok really, it’s kinda groovy over here anyway so will you quit reliving this shit, it’s getting boring and so yesterday.  You don’t even know it but what happened to me happened for a reason, and as my legacy we are both now working as a team so other people can get help.. It is through my story…our story mum, that they are doing that.  I know you can’t see me, and your pain and guilt numbs you from being able to feel or hear me, but I am here.  Talk to me sometimes, come for a walk or write me a letter… hell take me for a burger, and you will feel me come through (yeah journal idea was mine so don’t blame XXXX or XXX).  I’ll play a song on the radio sometimes and you’ll know it’s me, just listen…listen with your mind’s eye… and smile, please smile, I loved your smile.  Ok that’s all…oh one other thing I love you lots and lots and to the stars and back and around the moon… Big hugs mumma… I’ll be here and dry your tears, I’m not going anywhere.

xoxoxoxox

I don’t know what to say now Kate… it is what it is and up to you if you choose to take it on board or not.

I hope you’re ok and we do get to meet one day, which if it is meant to happen, will, in it’s own time and space.

Whatever will be will be.

Take special care.

Ok then. Just to get you guys up to speed you should know that I HAVE NEVER MET this person. They are a friend of a very recent friend. To say that receiving such an email, particularly on that day, was distressing in the extreme would be an understatement of mammoth proportions. The sheer audacity that this stranger had in offering her unsolicited fantasy is breath-taking. I am not discounting that there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio. I am open-minded about most things. But today I am not. Today I AM ANGRY.

Let’s break it down blow-by-blow, shall we? Because that’s what it felt like, the first time I read it; physical blows to my body that left me violently shaking and nauseous and crying, not to mention the instant upgrade to pounding headache that came with it. I already had the usual bonus physical symptoms anyway. The all over soreness and stiffness from holding tension in my body, even as I slept; the shaking and the headache were constant too, but now increased exponentially. The roaring of a deluge of flashbacks filled my head; “They are both gone.” “You won’t need to identify the body, but we are sure it’s her. Can you tell us where her dental records are held?” “Were you thinking cremation or burial?” and on and on and on and on. And I forwarded the email to The Man I Am In Love With (hereafter referred to as The Incredible Hunk) and ran from the room. The Incredible Hunk’s Daughter had a pupil free day so was at home with us and I didn’t want to collapse in front of her.

When I had calmed myself enough to read it again incredulity slammed me.  What this COMPLETE STRANGER had felt compelled to share with me, on the ninth anniversary of my Daughter’s death was that the first thing my Daughter wanted to give me, after nine long years, was a “bitchslap mum! And another one for good measure”. Righto. That’s worth repeating really, just so we can all get our head’s around it. The first thing my beautiful, kind, thoughtful, caring, loving, gentle Daughter, who left my life nine years ago and now has the opportunity to finally make contact with me, wants, is to get me to give myself a “bitchslap mum! And another one for good measure”. Well, guys, I’ve got to tell you, that WAS worth waiting for!

This COMPLETE STRANGER feels the need to share with me that my Daughter doesn’t think she ever really showed me how much she loved me.

“I have hovered around watching you rot for so many years”

“look at it as a daughter with benefits… you don’t have to wash or cook or clean up after me.  I know it’s not the same and yeah I’d rather be there to, but that sure ain’t going to happen, so just work with me a bit” – Gosh, silly me! All these years I’ve been thinking about my Daughter’s death in such negative terms. I really should thank the author for showing me the silver lining, glaringly obvious to me now really. “A Daughter with benefits” – the benefit, of course, being that she’s DEAD. That she died a brutal, violent death after hours of sexual assault and psychological torture. And the glass half full thing is that I don’t have to wash or cook or clean up after her, or any of the other things that MOTHERS do for their CHILDREN. Imagine the financial benefits! The money I’ve saved on university fees and wedding day expenses. Not having to buy birthday presents for the pesky grandchildren she may have one day given me. I did have to shell out for a coffin and a funeral, and plan the whole thing, but instead of my despair that these were among the last things I would ever be able to do for her I should have been jumping for joy that I’d been let off so lightly. Instead of the wake I couldn’t bear to have I should have planned a party. It’s amazing this has never occured to me before.

“It is through my story…our story mum”

“XXXX only as of only a few minutes ago is aware of it, and I am prepared for what potentially may happen to our friendship as a result.  I am hoping she’s known me long enough to realise I’m not a freak (it’s ok because I sometimes think I am)…perhaps a little wierd, but not totally psycho (but hey there’s always potential ;)).  It is however, a casualty that will be out of my hands, one I am prepared for as I have done with my marriage and other special relationships with people in the past I have lost, so I can remain true to myself.” – I can’t tell you how pleased I am for the email writer that they prepared themselves for any consequences TO THEMSELVES. Because they clearly had scant regard for any consequences their actions may cause me.

The Incredible Hunk responded to the writer by email. I won’t bore you with the transcripts but while repeatedly and creepily calling me a ‘beautiful person’ (HOW WOULD THEY KNOW?) they also suggested that The Incredible Hunk was not concerned with my best interests and reminded him that it was between my Daughter and I, not the writer, or The Incredible Hunk or anyone else – IRONY MUCH? Actually, that is not correct. While completely true that it has nothing to do with the email writer at all, it actually does have something to do with The Incredible Hunk because he is my partner. He is there for me. He stands by my side and travels with me along a not so easy road. He absolutely has a vested interest.

So, over to you, dear readers. I’d love to hear what you think. And tune in for Part Two tomorrow, which will be on a much more positive note. I’ll catch you then!

Like a Candle In the Wind

We find a place for what we lose. Although we know that after such a loss the acute stage of mourning will subside, we also know that we shall remain inconsolable and will never find a substitute. No matter what may fill the gap, even if it be filled completely, it nevertheless remains something else”.        — Sigmund Freud

A friend sent me this quote. I like it. After almost nine years I’m thinking perhaps Siggy knew his stuff. On this at least. You can debate his other stuff at your leisure and get back to me.

Another quote for you, from another friend; “Not every day is PTSD day!” And not a truer word was spoken although some days it remains an uphill battle. Our experiences undeniably mould who we are to a certain extent, but the aim of my game is to not let myself be defined by them. I read this post from Lori, in which she talks about her own experiences with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Once again it echoed closely my own. I emailed the link to several people. “Look at THIS! THIS is how I feel!”.

But people are complicated, man. Just as I don’t want to define myself by PTSD or depression or traumatic events in my life nor do I want others defining me that way either. If I’m upset about something it’s not necessarily because of the diagnosis’ I have. My perceptions and reactions may be a bit out of whack but that doesn’t automatically nullify any thought or emotion I, or anyone else with mental health issues, has. Even if my reaction may be out of proportion that doesn’t mean it has no basis. I don’t use my issues as a get out of jail free card, or feel they entitle me to bad behaviour, just that sometimes I might need more understanding. But you know what? Sometimes EVERYONE needs more understanding. EVERYBODY has their off days. Not just us card-carrying members of the crazy club.

I’m not perfect but neither is anyone else. I should cut myself a break sometime and remember that.

“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”  ―    Marilyn Monroe

Knock, knock….

Baby Daddy generates a lot of conflicting emotions in me. It would be simpler for me if I thought he was just a bastard. But I truly believe he is ill. I still care about him deeply, despite past hurts. He has given me one of this life’s greatest gifts. I feel an obligation to him for Daughter Number Two’s sake. Weeks like this just break my heart.

 

I had anticipated hiccups. School holidays have thrown the routine of contact visits for Daughter Number Two out a bit, with the venue being unavailable this week. Also visits become more complicated because I have Sons One and Two home from school.

 

At 7.50am on Tuesday there was a knock at my door. Although I have made it clear, verbally and in writing, that I am not comfortable having him at my home anymore Baby Daddy was on my doorstep. He had realised that a doctor’s appointment conflicted with the time we had arranged to meet for a visit. Baby Daddy’s mobile had been temporarily disconnected so he couldn’t call or text me from it. He had left me a message online which I had received, but which he had no guarantee I would see. Baby Daddy had been worrying about me not knowing why he hadn’t shown up and about Daughter Number Two being disappointed that he wasn’t there.

 

When he is in this head space it is almost like he is on fast forward. His anxiety levels go through the roof , he speech is fast, thoughts and emotions are exaggerated, his sleep is chaotic and minimal, he is smoking even though he is supposed to have given up, reactions are over the top and out of proportion and he can’t seem to slow his thought processes enough to grasp simple solutions to problems. Like walking to a public phone and calling me to make new arrangements for a visit, instead of landing on the doorstep after catching an extremely early bus at an ungodly time of the morning and making the half hour trip over here in person.

 

Baby Daddy seems to have no idea how inappropriate his behaviours are either. Later on in the morning we were in a park in town. I’d arranged for him to take Daughter Number Two to a show but Son Number Two and I were waiting with them until the show started. We came up to a bench and I said to Daughter Number Two ‘We can’t sit on it because it is wet’ . Baby Daddy said ‘Don’t worry. We can use Son Number Two to dry it off!’.  I thought he was just making a joke in poor taste but as I turned around I saw him grab Son Number Two by both upper arms and wipe him along the seat. I yelled, as did Son Number Two but the smile never left Baby Daddy’s face. Despite my obvious anger and Son Number Two’s discomfort  Baby Daddy then proceeded to make ‘jokes’ to Son Number Two that he had wet his pants.

 

A friend asked if it was possible to talk to him calmly and rationally. While he is in this state it is not. I mean, I can be calm and rational but I run the risk of enraging him, like I said above his reactions and emotions are heightened, and he doesn’t really hear me. And he really has no clue, no grasp of the concept that turning up on your ex-wife’s doorstep early in the morning, when she has specifically asked you not to go there, is wildly inappropriate. Or that manhandling a child and causing him discomfort, followed by belittling and humiliating him, is just not on and not funny. When I have tried to discuss things with him before I have been told it is all in my head. That I am imagining things. That I am exaggerating things. I can almost hear him protesting that he was only joking around, he was only playing with Son Number Two. That he didn’t want to worry or inconvenience me, or disappoint Daughter Number Two by not being at the appointed place and time.

 

Throughout our marriage I begged him to let me come with him to a doctor’s appointment, to share with the doctor my observations. Because how can you get help for a problem that you cannot see yourself is there? But Baby Daddy always refused. Which is the part that breaks my heart. Because I want to believe that this is not the person he wants to be but part of me thinks it must be, because no matter what I said or did it was always more important to save face than to accept he needed help. Now we are no longer together it is too easy for Baby Daddy to believe that I don’t really care about him, that I do not have his welfare at heart. He can write me off as a vindictive ex-wife just trying to bring him down. But I don’t have to try to bring him down because what goes up, up, up just as surely goes down, down, down and when this full on mood ends he will crash and burn in usual spectacular fashion. Because that is what happens. That is the pattern. And all I can do is watch.

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