The External Hell Within, by Carol Anne.

 

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So many tears in grief stricken eyes

So much shame behind the lies

So many scars on such young skin

So much pain lies within

All the pain builds in side

All the tears you try to hide

You know it’s not the right thing to do

But no one seems to understand you

One more cut, not that deep

The blood will finally let you sleep

The calm has come after the storm

You are alive, the blood is warm

You know that now you must hide

And keep the shame you feel inside

You wish there was some other way

You wish you knew the words to say

Fall on deaf ears and unopened eyes

You aren’t proud of what you do

You wish the wispers weren’t about you

Nobody seems to understand

Except the blade you hold in your hand

You need proof that you are alive

Not cold and dead like you feel inside

The hurt is so much and it will not fade

It is your own flesh that has payed

You pay for pain and lies and shame

You feel the guilt when people speak your name

You just want someone to understand

And tell you it will be ok and hold your hand

Not ignore the problem and hope it will pass

Not say its a phase or even a fad

One more scar, there is nothing to lose

You don’t do it for them, you do it for you

Do you still try and hide it or make it known

You live in a glass house, do you cast the first stone

You know that some will call you insane and some will call you even worse

Before all this you were peoples dream

Now you are their curse

You don’t know how long you can hide behind the lies that you tell

Being clumsy may be hard but it hides the truth so well

How else do you explain the cuts, scrapes burns and broken bones

You fell down the stairs, slipped with a knife

And sometimes, you don’t even know

They don’t see what they don’t want to see

And you don’t feel what you don’t want to feel

The pain may subside but it always comes back after the last cut heals

Sometimes you wonder if you will run out of skin before you run out of pain

Or if you will finally be able to stop it all before you go totally insane

You know that you’re not trying to die, you’re actually trying to live

You’re not trying to take your life, it’s life you’re trying to give

You’re trying to make people see the hurt you feel inside

Trying to use your pain to help them open up their eyes

You don’t do this for fun or to try and fit in

You’re making external, the hell within

 

By Carol Anne, an alter in a did system.

 

Find more of Carol Anne’s writing here;

blog: http://therapybits.com/

twitter: @manymultiplied1

 

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‘Sharing Stories’ – A life with Depression, By Andrew.

“My name is Andrew. I’m 44, married with two lovely kids. I have suffered with depression since my early teens. This is my journey.

The depression came about because of an accident, not to me but to my Father. We jokingly say that he fell off the back off a lorry; actually he was leaning against a support on the back of a wagon when it collapsed, he and a fellow worker fell, and my Dad was left with a fractured skull and an altered personality and has never worked again. I can’t remember exactly how I was told, I think it was by my friend’s Mother and I vaguely remember having to stay with them for a few days.

I do remember walking into the living room when my Dad got out of hospital; I was warned to be gentle as he was quite fragile. He had two black eyes and looked very frail. At the age I was at the time your Dad is Superman! He wasn’t supposed to be like this! I seem to remember vowing that I would have to be the man of the house. I say dad never worked again, he did work for a little while because he had another accident at work when he cut his head open!

As I said, I believed I needed to be the man of the house, a role I was not ready for, although no one else had any expectations of me. There is something else that prayed on my mind at this time. When my Dad was 16 his father died, I was paranoid that history was going to repeat itself especially how ill he was. I remember being very relieved when I turned 17, we had cheated history.

When I left school I went to Art College to do my Btec in fashion. I had been ‘well built’ for most of senior school, I decided I was fat so pretty much stopped eating. I’m not going to say I have anorexia but it was pretty close. I went from a 38” waist to about a 24” at my worst, I collapsed in a bathroom in Paris on a college trip, and I wasn’t well. It got to the point where it hurt more to eat that it did to not eat. I have a picture of me during that time, wearing a baggy jumper to hide my body; I look like I could snap if I bent over.

After college I started working in the fashion industry, probably one of the most stressful environments to work in. I lasted about 15 years with various episodes of the dog but I still didn’t know what it was, I had talked about suicide with my then girlfriend (now wife) but I thought that was normal! Eventually the first glimpse into what was actually happening to me came about. We were told the company I was working for wanted us all to move to Leicester as that was closer to head office, this was never an option for me as my wife worked here and we had just had a baby and moved to a new house we loved. Of course the alternative was redundancy. I became ill, I would sleep up to 22 hours a day, I became dehydrated as I couldn’t stay awake long enough to drink. I kept going back to the doctors who kept sending me for tests, diabetes, thyroid, all sorts. I asked if it could be stress related. He then asked if I was stressed. I explained that I was being made redundant; we had just had a baby and moved into a house that was about twice the mortgage of our previous home (in our previous house we had been broken into 4 times over 2 years including twice in one week). After three months on the sick the doctor decided I was ill because I was overweight!

After I left the fashion industry I started a business making clothes and soft furnishings, my wife went back to work full time. I also started a part time degree in textiles, this had become a pattern for me; taking too much on so I would fail, this would then prove to me how useless I felt; how much of a failure I was and why I was not worth knowing or loving.

Eventually of course it all came to a head.

My wife had to go to Austria with work and it would be over a weekend, it would have been almost impossible for her to come home so her company paid for me to meet her in Saltsburg. We had a long chat as things had not been great between us for a while, we decided I needed to go and see a different doctor and tell him what was going on. I flew back home and my wife went back to work. I didn’t eat while Nicola was away, I was punishing myself; food felt like the one thing I had control over. I sat one night, kids in bed and took every pill I could find and quite a lot of whiskey, and sat back, feeling calm for the first time in years. This was it, my time to clock out.

Of course it suddenly struck me that it would be my kids that would find me, I was a horrible person but I couldn’t do that to them! I took myself to the toilet and made myself throw up until I had nothing left then stayed up all night in case I fell asleep and didn’t wake up. It’s funny but shortly after this we had a party for my daughter’s birthday and lots of people commented on how well I looked! I had shaved my head as my hair was falling out; I had a hunted look in my eyes.

We went to the doctors and told him how I felt; he asked Nicola if I ever hit her or the kids. I was horrified at the time but I can see he was asking all the right questions. My life was in freefall and I had absolutely no control. I was prescribed anti-depressants and sent home and told to wait for the crisis team. They arrived at our house not long after us, two ladies, one went and spoke to Nicola and the other sat and let me talk. They visited a couple of times until I was relatively stable. I’m not sure if it was a complete nervous breakdown but it’s as close as I ever want to be!

The doctor recommended MIND to me, they were great and dug into what was causing the depression as well as giving me coping strategies. The first time I went there I felt like the world was in colour and not the black and white I had seen it for years. I went on to see MIND several times after that as the depression would find its way back.

I finally felt strong enough to ask the doctor if I could have some counselling which he arranged. I remember sitting in the waiting room with Nicola; everyone had various nervous twitches, no one would give eye contact; and when you caught a glimpse of their eyes it was terrifying, I wondered what they saw when they looked at me for sure I had the same.

I felt terrible about the amount of medication I was on, largest dosage of anti-depressants plus another type to help me sleep – all of this just to help me feel ‘normal. I had told my Therapist that this felt like the last chance for me as I couldn’t go on feeling the way I was, I realise how melodramatic that was now but I meant it at the time. I think I realised that this might work and I was ready for it too when the therapist asked what I wanted, previously when asked I would say that I just wanted to be like everyone else, this time I said I just wanted to be comfortable being me! I can see now what a huge shift that statement was.

I had a full course of CBT which I feel gave me the tools finally to get to grips with my issues.

I’d like to say that that is the end of my journey, I had hit rock bottom and over the course of about 7 years I had crawled my way out of it, from near death and self harm to loving life. Growing up I could never see myself growing old, I was sure I would be dead by 37! I started to become ill again a few years ago and after a lot of tests I was told I had Ankylosing Spondalitis (a form of arthritis that affects any joints) but the medication was often worse than the illness. Earlier this year my diagnosis was changed to Fibromyalgia which can apparently be brought on by depression. I have been unable to work since my latest flare up in January, at the time of writing this it’s the end of July.

For people who don’t know what Fibromyalgia is, it’s basically constant pain, all over. I can’t walk far; I have no upper body strength any more, can’t lift, can’t even put my arms above my head without pain. So of course the depression is back. I’m waiting to be referred for more counselling as I type but I at least know what is happening this time so I feel better placed to cope.”

-By Andrew.

 

 

Stories are still needed!

Do you have a mental health/recovery story of your own that you’d like to reach out and share to others? Whether it be overcoming depression to addiction to eating disorders… no matter what your area, there will be a chance that your experience will touch someone elses life.

Send your story with your name to themanicyears@gmail.com and i’d be happy to publish on the Blog.

Sharing saves lives –

M x

Art Therapy.

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Following my post from Sunday night, due to two accidental med misses, I have crashed.

I was so grateful to have a session with Jan today.

I’ve attempted to mainly sleep through this one, that was my strategy. Meds at 7pm Sunday night, lie there hurting and letting my razor moths burry their way in to my chest and feed off me until my Seroquel sent me under in to the dark.

5.30am alarm for work.

6.30pm return home. Rinse and repeat.

Today, that black heaviness in my chest was so raw that I just couldnt concentrate on my work…. So after a couple of days of persisting I got up off my swivelly chair, put my coat on and power walked to the nearest chemist where I expertly lied through my teeth to get what I wanted. I dosed myself up and continued with work.

In other words, I relapsed to cope through the day.

I have been through this cycle endless times, and each time it hits me like I have slammed full force and unexpectedly in to a slab of concrete. Each time I am winded by the shock of the fall, I forget how hard it is. How do chronically depressed/anxiety live like this? With Bipolar, the storm seems endless, but we know that everytime it rains, it will end.

Even if we have a billion stoms pass through our life cycle.

The coedine helped numb whatever it was that needed to be numbed and I got through work.

Jan made me draw today. She asked me to visually produce on paper this physical anxiety that burrows itself deep in my chest and latches on. I grabbed the chalk from the box and started immediately scribbling, like I’d done this before. I knew exactly what colour, shade, shape it forms, and I even described to her how heavy it was – like the centre was a huge solid ballbearing that weighs down in me, making my breathing heavy and sapping my energy from the rest of my body. I sat with this image burdening down on my lap for a good part of half an hour before I told her “I want you to take this off me, I can’t even bare to directly look at it.” She instructed me to rip it up and put it in the bin.

I got a little relief from producing my anxiety on paper, however physical it was to me was portrayed on paper as a real object. I got it out in the open and I finally got to show someone in visual context.

I shared with someone my personal burden, the dreaded vicious anxiety – my razor moths in which I have to carry around with me when that dark cloud hangs over my head. The burden in which I have only familiarised it’s dispersion through taking painkillers to numb it or slicing my skin with sharp objects until I release some of it’s energy. The main seed of my blackouts, my rage attacks, my overdoses, my ‘it’s not fair, why me’ tantrums, my isolation, my psychosis. The black energy that has had me begging to die and end it all.

I can’t figure out exactly what I have gotten out of today’s session, however, I will keep reminding myself that I do not carry this around alone anymore.

And so I wait, watching the world go by until the storm passes.

Denial.

I had my addiction assessment this week.

Much to my surprise and probably for the first time since I got involved with the Mental Health system, I got treated like an adult. There was no pressure to quit or go on any detox programmes, no pressure in to talking therapies or substitute prescriptions, and best of all, no lectures.

I didn’t get treated like that naughty school kid who is dabbling about with substances for the fun of it – and for the first time I got to see it as it was. I am an adult with a serious dependency who wants to find a way out. And they was there to simply guide me in the right direction.

It was refreshing. The action plan is to wean me off within about a month or two, pop me on either suboxone or methadone (frightening to say it has close links with heroin) and that should slowly ease the withdrawal. I explained to them that i’d honestly rather die than experience the anxiety I was suffering through back before the opiates numbed it for me. And so we are tying everything in with the access and crisis team at my local hospital (where i’m getting help for the Bipolar side of things) and anxiety management should hopefully run smoothly along side of the detox. The anxiety management I have to admit I’m highly sceptical about. I do not believe that it is going to totally eradicate the anxiety. Its too vicious. The hypnotherapy, positive thinking, changing thoughts, distraction techniques that I put myself through weeks ago certainly lessened it with time, but it never went away. I’ve made my choice – I don’t want to put up with it and its as simple as that. I’ve suffered to much in the past year due to it.

I know it’s normal to doubt yourself when planning to change your bad habits, but the majority of myself believes that I won’t give it up. I’m enjoying this too much – even with the sickness; which is occurring almost every day now, I have waves of nausea, the odd over the toilet bowl incident where I have to bring my last meal up to feel relief from it, and light headedness. I have read that when Tramadol interacts with Sertraline it can be potentially toxic. I’m poisoning myself. The lack of appetite, I just can’t be bothered to make a meal, sit down and eat it. I’m getting increasingly tired – I believe this may be chemically induced as I do increase my intake to get myself to sleep at night. And the isolation – I need that me time, to be alone and embrace my high. My relationships are suffering from it…

But the anxiety is non existent. I’m not feeling… anything. I’m having a break from those intense emotions and it feeds me exactly what I need. Its just everything else has to suffer as a consequence of my actions. I think I might just need that little extra push to realise that what I am doing is not worth it. A little voice to convince me otherwise. I don’t feel ready yet. I want to shut the door, draw the curtains and tell the world to leave me alone. Leave me with my pills, they are my friends and we are doing fine.

Councelling session number 5.

Tonight’s session was an interesting one, and came at exactly the right time.

Due to my mood totally sinking since Sunday afternoon, my risk score was up from being at baseline the past few weeks and my ‘well-being’ score had changed too. The first thing he asked me was “Have you made plans to end your life?”

Ermmm… Yes, but not intentionally.

I told him about the manic/dissociation ‘switch’ that occurred as a result from some bad news last week, when i was feeling high anyway. Good energy turned in to bad energy, i lost control of it, i blacked out. I explained that these impulsive thoughts that i have (and the actions i have carried out in the past) i feel are out of my control, and its not me who is thinking them and making these decisions that lead to my behaviour.

This has happened a few times in the past, not necessarily when i’d been feeling down, but more of when i’d had the ‘energy’. The blackouts are always a result of when that energy turns bad. I know if someone wasnt there i’d have either taken a handful of pills, drank myself silly, self-harmed or ran out of the door in to the night and gotten up to all sorts of shit. I know this because it has happened SO many times in the past. Its just scary that its not me who controls my thoughts or behaviour when that bad energy gets its suffocating grip around my neck.

He pushed me to really pressure my GP for that assessment, and the session made me feel so much better and stronger about it all as its like i finally have a confirmation that this is not normal behaviour i have been dealing with for the past ten years. I finally have someone behind me, to back me up when my mind fails me. He believes in me, and thats what i’ve needed all along.

He made me think about how lucky i am to have my whole family (and friends) supporting me, guiding me and just being there for me when i fall. I got home and it was like someone had taken the knife out of my stomach and stopped torturing me with it – a huge weight had lifted off my shoulders and that black dog who had been gnawing at me since sunday had been tamed. Well, when i say tamed, it is still there, that dark hole is still there – but i have recognised that i have a whole support system around me to make me believe i can handle it enough to get by.

I told him about the Sertraline, that i’d stayed clear of reading up on the side effects and that i believed that it may just be making me cycle faster – instead of having seasons with my moods, it seems like I am having a week/days or ups and downs, with two days maximum of stability in between. Which is a good thing in which they dont last long, but in the context of jumping from one extreme to the other much faster makes the crash seem harder and more intense.

The suicide urges, the self injury and the pill popping have been put on hold for tonight, and i’m forever grateful for the people around me for that.

Until the next boom.