The Life You Save May Be Your Own

DID, knitting, sci-fi, and strong opinions

That I Would Be Good June 30, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — weordmyndum @ 9:29 pm

I’m feeling down today for no real reason, so I’m going to talk about things I’m good at in hopes it’ll make me feel better.  Okay, if we’re being honest, it’ll mostly make me feel like a jerk who has no right to say nice things about herself, but I think it’s a useful exercise anyway.

 

I am smart.  It bugs me a little that this is the first asset that springs to my mind because it’s all my family ever valued about me…but it’s still an asset.  I taught myself to read at age 3.  I was in gifted classes all through school.  I graduated from the #4 high school in the United States.  I was a National Merit Scholar and got a full academic scholarship to college.

 

I’m curious.  That isn’t necessarily linked to being smart–I’ve known smart people who weren’t curious, and they bored the hell out of me.  I want to know things and understand them.  I’m interested in the world around me, from linguistics to politics to cosmology.  I love that there is still so much we don’t know.  I love that there are still mysteries because those are beautiful.

 

I care about people.  I don’t want to hurt people, even if I hate them and think they’re morally reprehensible.  I may daydream about murdering them, and I may threaten to whack people–but I would never actually do it.  Seriously.  After my sister disclosed our father’s abuse, a friend of the family who’d been in prison pulled me aside and offered to put a hit out on my father.  He was dead serious, and I told him thank you but no.  I think there’s enough suffering in the world, and I don’t want anyone to hurt more than they have to.

 

I’m articulate.  I have always been good with words; that’s why I majored in creative writing in high school.  I’m good out loud (most of the time), and I’m even better on paper.  I think before I speak and make sure I’m saying exactly what I want to say.  My freshman year at Bama, I had this crazy Irishman teaching my integrated honors seminar.  When we wrote papers or discussed our readings in class, he’d always bellow at us, “Define your terms!”  I nearly had a nervous breakdown every time we had a paper due, but he was the best professor I had.  He made me even better at saying precisely what I mean.

 

I am passionate and opinionated and stubborn.  I have an opinion on nearly everything, and I will argue you into the ground about it.  I enjoy debates–so much, in fact, that I sometimes have to remind myself that most people don’t like to argue about everything all the time.  I am good at arguing a point.  It’s one of the few gifts my grandfather gave me–from the time I was little, dinnertime would be debate time.  He’d pick a subject, see what side I took, and argue the opposite side.  As I got older, he’d make me argue the opposite of what I believed.  It was exhilarating then, and it’s exhilarating now.

 

I fight, and I survive.  Sometimes purely out of spite.  That’s why  I’m still standing–because I get pissed off and refuse to back down or give in to anyone.  I don’t break.  I used to hate that about myself.  I used to think it would be so much easier if I could just give up and kill myself, or even just passively let myself die.  I hated myself for not being able to do it.  But now…now the depression is gone, and while I still have plenty of other problems to work through, I am damn glad I was too stubborn to give up and die.

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Fight June 28, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — weordmyndum @ 2:13 am
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I have a belt now!  See?

first-stripe white belt
They don’t really have you test at my school unless they know you’re going to pass–I’ve heard Majikan (the head instructor for the school) say it’s more of a celebration of what you’ve learned.  But still, it’s exciting that I passed and have a belt now.

 

At the end of testing, Majikan said to me, “I haven’t worked with you much, and you always came across before as quiet and kind of shy.  But you were nothing resembling shy on the floor.  You had good spirit and energy, and you really fought.”  It was a very high compliment, and it made me happy.  I don’t think anyone has ever called me quiet and shy before, though.  I guess around authority figures who intimidate me (Majikan is a third-degree black belt and just seems very self-assured in general), I do tend to stay quiet and make myself unnoticed.

 

But I do fight.

 

I’m not just talking about martial arts, but I do think that’s what really allowed me to get in touch with that part of myself.  I started studying karate in college on a whim–my friend Jamie Rose thought one of the sensei was hot (he was) and wanted to look at him, so she dragged me to the karate class with her.  I’d never done martial arts before, unless whacking my sisters as kids counts, but it turned out I really liked it.  Within a few months, I was competing around the Southeast, and I got halfway to my black belt in U.S. Yoshukai.

 

I’d never thought of myself as an aggressive person; in fact, I’d done a lot to kill off my aggressive tendencies because I didn’t want to turn into my parents, who were angry and violent.  When I started studying Yoshukai, I wouldn’t hit someone even if we were both wearing full sparring gear.  I’d defend myself, but I wouldn’t strike.  One of the sensei joked about how it was his mission in life to turn me into a “psycho killer woman.”

 

I got better at it, but I still had to force myself to hit people.  It scared me, though I was never afraid of taking a hit.  Then in my therapy at Riggs, I got in touch with the anger I’d spent so long killing off, and I (very slowly) learned that it wouldn’t destroy anyone if I allowed myself to feel it.  After Riggs, I learned to get angry and fight back about my treatment and my life.  That life was far from perfect, but it was mine, and I wasn’t going to let anyone take it away from me again.  I think the only reason Menninger didn’t break me was that instead of giving in and bowing to authority, I got angry, fought back, and refused to let them break me down.  I think anger, aggression, and stubbornness are WAY underrated in consumers of mental health treatment.

 

So when I started kung fu a few months ago, I was in a place where I was much more comfortable with my aggression and anger; I’d learned they weren’t bad words.

 

I fight my best when I’m backed into a corner.  I know that seems counter-intuitive, but it’s the most defensible position–there are fewer directions an attacker can come at you from, and you can see their approach.  This works literally and metaphorically.  Maybe you feel a little scared and desperate backed into a corner–that’s okay.  You fight better when there’s a sense of risk.  You get your emotions involved, and that’s good.  It gives you an edge.

 

I fight.  It’s what I do.

 

No More June 27, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — weordmyndum @ 9:36 pm
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I’m firing NT2.0.

I was really upset when I went to therapy this morning, and I guess it showed because she asked me what was wrong.  It was the stuff with Ex-Boyfriend, but I didn’t really feel safe talking about it.  I told NT2.0, “I don’t know you well enough or trust you enough to tell you.  It’s not safe.”  I thought that was a pretty clear answer.

Apparently not, though, because she spent the rest of the session interrogating me about what was wrong: “Is it something with your Windhorse team?  Is it PMS?  Did you get in a fight with somebody?”

I’m sorry, but WHAT PART OF NO DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND?

Of course, I didn’t say that.  I couldn’t.  I wanted to jump up and run out and keep running for miles, but I couldn’t do that either.  I just sat there and panicked and dissociated and shut down and didn’t–couldn’t–say a word.  I just watched the clock, waiting for her to tell me I should go and hating myself for not having the guts to just leave.

I didn’t even tell her I’m not coming back.

Seriously, what is WRONG with people lately?  First Ex-Boyfriend and now my [Ex-]Therapist.

I’m especially upset with NT2.0.  I was clearer with her than with Ex-Boyfriend.  Plus, she’s a therapist–doesn’t that mean she should understand and respect boundaries?  Don’t they teach you that in therapist school?  Okay, I didn’t actually say the word NO, but I’m fairly certain “I don’t feel safe talking about it” means the same thing.  And I had a shift with Counselor directly afterward and ran it by him, as he has a private practice as a therapist.  He agreed that what I said should’ve been the end of it, and he said it was about her discomfort, not about me.  Well, boo-fucking-hoo, lady; if you’re uncomfortable, get your own damn therapist.  Don’t take it out on me.

I mean, what do I have to do, get a t-shirt with NO in twelve-inch-tall letters and wear it every day?  It shouldn’t be this hard.  No should mean no, end of story.

 

No.

Filed under: Uncategorized — weordmyndum @ 5:42 am
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Ex-Boyfriend and I were friends for several years before we started dating, very close friends.  I knew he was attracted to me, but I tried to ignore it.  We dated for about a year and a half, during which time I let a lot of physical stuff happen that I wasn’t really okay with.  I was in love with him (still am) and thought I owed him my body.  Also somebody inside believed that men are going to take what they want from you anyway, so it’s better to go along with him.
When I broke up with him, it was due to a combination of my issues with physical intimacy and his lack of emotional/relational maturity.  He expected to take care of me, a role I fell into naturally because of my childhood grooming, but when I realized I was repeating old patterns and stopped caretaking, he got upset and insistent, demanding that we talk about it at length and even pressuring me to do couples therapy with him.  There was a period of several months where I couldn’t deal with speaking to him at all, but it was hard because he is my best friend.
We started talking again maybe 5 or 6 weeks ago, and we’ve gotten together several times.  I made it very clear we aren’t dating–even insisted on paying for my own meals and so forth when we got together.  (I did let him pay for dinner on my birthday, but that’s a thing friends do, not a dating thing.)  But most of the times we’ve gotten together, he gets physical.  Not the heavy stuff, but enough that I’m uncomfortable.
Tonight, he did it again.  He kept subtly trying to touch me, and I kept moving away.  I even grabbed a pillow and hugged it, creating a literal barrier.  He kept pushing.  Eventually he grabbed me and pulled me over to him–not violently, but he’s a lot bigger than I am.  He asked if it was okay, and I shrugged.  He grabbed me and petted me and kissed me.  Instantly I was an abused child again, tolerating it because to fight it would mean worse.
I want him to realize that anything short of a yes means no.  Moving away means no, shrugging means no.  But I know I also have a big part in this.  I need to be able to be clear about saying no, but I can’t seem to make myself say it.  It was not a word I was allowed to use as a child, and any physical intimacy bumps me right back into that child self.  I study kung fu; I know how to use my voice and how to break somebody’s arm or knee easily.  So why can I not say no to him?  Why do I keep letting him do this to me?
I feel broken and dirty and ashamed and sick and little and alone and unsafe.  And I hate it more than words can say.
I feel like I’m falling apart.  It feels almost unbearable and I don’t want to go to bed because it’s dangerous and I’ve checked at least 3 times that my doors are locked and I just feel like I’m losing it.  I hate this so much.
The thing is I’ve told him I’m not really okay with physical intimacy.  I thought he understood.  He even told me he felt like a rapist.  But if that’s how he feels, why does he keep doing it?
And right now I’m mad at myself for not saying no directly.  Not just with him–with so many people.  I feel broken and wrong and like it’s all my fault, all of it.  I want to crawl into the closet in the dark and hide under a pile of blankets where it’s small and dark and safe.  Why did I never say no?
And I’m mad at the people who abused me because I shouldn’t have needed to say no.  They should’ve known it wasn’t okay.  And I did say no in a lot of ways, just not with my voice.  But they never want to hear no.  They just take what they want from you and you don’t matter at all, you’re not really a person.  And I hate them for it.  And I hate me.  I want it all to stop.
Sorry.  I’m really a mess.
 

A room of her own

Filed under: Uncategorized — weordmyndum @ 3:26 am
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You guys…I HAVE AN APARTMENT! AND MY GRANDFATHER IS WILLING TO SIGN A ONE-YEAR LEASE!

 

THIS DEFINITELY CALLS FOR CAPSLOCK.

 

It’s a little ways outside of town, but it’s near the bike path, so I’ll get a bike. It’s a one-bedroom dog-friendly apartment, first floor, quiet complex, nice landscaping, and the leasing lady seemed really nice. It’ll be available on August 1. $975.

 

OMG YOU GUYS I AM SO EXCITED. I CAN FINALLY GET A DOG.

 

I am going tomorrow to put in my application and deposit. Then I have to find a bike. Or maybe I’ll do that right after I move so I won’t have to bother with moving the bike. And my landlord at the current place will do the moving for me for cheap.

 

Things are looking up.

 

I’m still hormonal and crazy, though. My fucking period still hasn’t come, and I am way less than thrilled about that. I saw my psychiatrist this morning, and he’s going to have me do a month-long saliva hormone test so we can pinpoint exactly what’s going on. But the fun part of that is I can’t take any hormones for that month. But maybe it won’t be any worse–I don’t think the progesterone I’ve been taking is doing much of anything anyway.

 

We also did a phone consult this morning with the sleep doctor in Boston I saw several years ago, and I have an appointment with her July 6. She said she’d have to do some research because apparently I’m a freak. (She didn’t say it in quite those terms.) The meds I take should kick in after no more than 30 minutes. After an hour or so, I get motor effects (lightheadedness, lack of coordination, inability to focus my eyes), but it’s 4 or 5 hours before I can actually get to sleep. That is not supposed to happen–in her words, I’m taking enough meds “to put a rhino under for several days.” So here’s hoping she can figure this out. I’ve been running on way too little sleep for way too long.

 

Babies and Bathwater: Critical Psychiatry June 25, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — weordmyndum @ 4:09 pm
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Anyone who’s been reading my blog for very long knows I’m highly critical of many of the practices of mainstream mental health treatment.  I feel there is an extremely dangerous power imbalance (treatment providers have nearly unlimited power; consumers have almost none) that frequently does much more harm than good.

 

But I hope I’ve also conveyed that I’m not categorically opposed to psychiatric treatment.

 

There’s this prevalent attitude among anti/critical-psychiatry folks that ALL mental health treatment is ALL bad.  No one should ever be hospitalized, no one should ever be on medications, no one should ever be in therapy.  I think that attitude is just as dangerous as the paternalistic, infantilizing attitudes of mainstream psychiatry.  It shames and scares people away from seeking treatment that could be very helpful to them.

 

In terms of mental health treatment, I believe in choice and informed consent as the guiding principles.  When I say “informed consent,” I’m not talking about a doctor’s quick warning that there could be side effects or the drug information sheet they give you at the pharmacy.  I mean in-depth discussion about risks and benefit in which the doctor is open about all the possible side effects, the true efficacy of drugs (often barely better than placebo) and other treatments, and a conversation in which the patient’s concerns are truly heard and addressed rather than brushed off.

 

Consumers should know that most of the studies and clinical studies about the efficacy of drugs are almost all funded, directly or indirectly, by drug companies who make enormous profits from these drugs.  Consumers should know that “evidence-based” treatments like CBT and DBT are often touted as the best treatments because insurance companies like their time-limited cheapness better.

 

And consumers should be allowed to make choices without force or coercion.  Treatment should be a collaborative process, not a dictatorial one.  Their choices should be respected, and they should not be coerced or threatened into doing what their doctors want.  There are tons of studies that show the most therapeutic aspect of any treatment methodology is the relationship between client and treater, and no therapeutic relationship can form without mutual trust and respect.

 

The point of all of this is: Critical psychiatry folks, please don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!  We have a very important point to make, and it has the potential to make hugely beneficial changes to our mainstream systems of psychiatric treatment.  But if we go too far to the extreme, we exclude people whose voices are incredibly important.  If we reject everything mainstream mental health treatment has to offer, we make ourselves look like fringe lunatics who might very well be mixing up a batch of Kool-Aid with a special ingredient.  Overall, I don’t think that’s who we are, but if that’s who we look and sound like, most people are going to discount our points of view.  It’s critical that we don’t allow that to happen.

 

At the end, Captain, we all stand alone June 24, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — weordmyndum @ 10:37 pm
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I feel pretty crappy right now.

 

It was the dream.  I’ve been off all day because of it, and I feel hella stupid for being this upset about it.  It’s just a dream.  I’ve had a lot that were way worse than this, so why can I not just get the hell over it?

 

I’ve been starting knitting projects and ripping them out all day, not because I messed up the pattern but because I just hate everything that I make.  It’s never good enough.  It’s never right.  This is a thing I do when I get upset.

 

I’ve been in tears off and on all day.  I know probably a lot of this is hormonal (mine have been even weirder than normal this month), but it doesn’t make it feel any less real.  I just feel so alone.  I want somebody to hug me and sit with me and make me feel better, but there’s no one.  I mean, I could probably call someone on my team and ask them to come, but it’s not anywhere close to an emergency.  Plus, it’s kind of pathetic that I have to pay people to get them to care and be there for me.

 

I’m really grateful for my internet friends, I am.  But sometimes I just want someone to be emotionally AND physically present.

 

 
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