Nightmares & The Dark

I’m having a hard time with my sleeping routine.

I’m naturally a night owl, so go to bed quite late. I try to go to bed before 2am though. Sometimes I manage that, other times not so much. I usually wake up sometime between 10 and 11am.

At least that’s how it used to be.

I’m craving the blissful state of non-existence for a while, but instead I’m bombarded with nightmare after nightmare. The really bad ones wake me up in a panic and it takes me a couple of hours to be able to turn the light off again and go back to sleep. The dark is deafening. Terrifying. I’m acutely aware how alone I am in those moments. At night the monsters are lurking in the closet, under my bed. Sitting on the edge of my bed, watching me. Waiting.

My longest continuous sleep time over the past two weeks has been 3 hours. This broken sleep is obviously making things worse. Sleeping until 3pm, because I was up for hours, too scared to go to sleep. Or having fallen asleep and woken up after yet another terrifying dream. So many people from my past in some of those dreams. Lies, betrayals, violence, death. So much blood and death.

Saturday and Sunday were two of the worst days I’ve had in years. I honestly don’t know how I got through it. Maybe I didn’t after all, and I’m not actually alive right now. I wanted to go into the clinic, but couldn’t get there. I didn’t know where to turn. Everyone seemed to have abandoned me. Unanswered messages. Cancelled visits and meetups.

New complications with regards to my uncle. I just want him to come out of this already. He has to. I can’t lose him, I just can’t. I had spoken to him a few days before he went into hospital, because he had sent me money for my birthday, which was so appreciated (more than he could ever know). I need to hear his voice again. We need him.

I need my mommy. There’s that. Even though everytime I’ve been with her, there’s never that mother-daughter bond and feeling, more like just a friendship. But she’s my mom, and I love and miss her. I’ve never been able to cry in front of her. But still, I long for that comfort of not being alone when I cry. When I’m not feeling good. The reality is never quite like the imagination, is it?

Remembered on Wednesday that my therapist had told me that I could email her while she’s gone if I need to. So I did just that. I wasn’t writing from a very present state of mind and it wasn’t a long email. I told her I was angry with her for reasons I can’t quiet think of. Told her I was thinking that maybe she wasn’t coming back. That she didn’t feel real anymore.

She replied that same evening. That didn’t feel real either. I wasn’t expecting a reply, since I wasn’t all there when I sent it anyway. There had been genuine moments during the day where I was so confused, believing that I had made her up the entire time. That nothing was real. That I wasn’t alive. Or human. The next morning I had to make sure that it hadn’t been a dream. She is real. She actually sent me an email. An email that let me know that she’s proud of how I’m managing, and encouragement to keep going even though it feels tough. Letting me know that she is coming back and we’ll have our video consultations soon. I don’t deserve her.

I don’t want to be alone anymore. Being bombarded with messages and photo’s of people finding new jobs, starting families, new relationships, it seems that nearly everyone I know is moving up in life. And I’m just here. Stuck. Trying to keep my head above water. Trying to build a business that’s just not going anywhere, no matter how hard I work, how many things I try. Seeing all these new businesses in my field that have sprung up with sub-par work, yet they’re the ones getting all the clients, using techniques that aren’t working for me. I’ve been trying for years now. Am so tired, and feel like a failure. A fraud. Maybe I’m just not good enough.

So far away from everyone I know. Longing for a hug. A warm hand to hold. If only for a day.

Under Again

I’m so angry, I want to break and destroy things and certain people. My rage has been so intense and I don’t know any other way to release it in a satisfactory way, other than hurting myself.

I haven’t seen my therapist in over two weeks, and won’t be seeing her tomorrow (and probably next week either). She needs a few weeks to acclimate to motherhood and recover from the operation. She couldn’t give me a set date or time. I don’t deal well with uncertainty, but this specific uncertainty was expected. Doesn’t mean it’s not driving me crazy anyway. The fear that I’ll never see or hear from her again doesn’t help matters.

Saw my psychiatrist last week as I needed a new script. So got to talk to him about stuff at least. But I hold back quite a bit from him for some reason. I don’t feel that comfortable being too vulnerable with him.

My uncle went into hospital after a heart problem. The nurse and doctor made a HUGE mistake that might destroy his future, and that I know he won’t want to live that way. If he even comes out of this alive. All because they didn’t listen. And there’s nothing I can do. I’m too far away, and even if I was there, with this Covid shit, they wouldn’t let me see him anyway. They will pay, even if the rest of the family don’t go ahead with the legal stuff. I’ll make sure of that.

There is so much uncertainty in my life right now, and losing my car has just made me feel even less in control over my life. I can’t just get in my car and go for a drive. Something I used to do when I felt upset. I feel trapped. Useless. Helpless. I’m frustrated with myself because I’m struggling with even the most basic things. Nothing is going right.

I want to see my mom and my sisters so badly too. I haven’t seen them in years. It’s just not fair.

I’m also frustrated and fed up with friends and certain other people in my life. I just want to scream! It feels like I’m losing my mind.

A Lifeline

Last week my therapist cancelled our session due to a personal loss.

My heart went out to her.

It was a strange experience. Usually a cancellation would trigger my abandonment issues. But this time all I could think and feel was an intense sadness for her. What this cancellation means to me didn’t even enter my mind (at least not consciously). For the rest of that week I carried on with life as normal.

Of course, I thought about my therapist often, and experienced those same feelings of sadness for her situation. Along with a deep sense of care, and hoping for comfort for her.

Something inside me shifted on Monday. Certain frustrations in my life intensified, and I received some bad news regarding my emigration (a new plan has since been made however). I was feeling extra intense pressure from my dad and everything starting going haywire inside my head. I felt overwhelmed. To the extent where I just wanted to end it all, just wanted to make it stop.

And then the panic set in. The desperation. I wanted my therapist. She would understand. She always does. She was the only one I feel safe with emotionally. Our session was a couple of days away, but what if she cancels again? What if she doesn’t come back? What if our relationship changes due to her loss? Yes, now the attachment demon had arrived. Now it was about me again.

I felt ashamed by these new thoughts and feelings. How could I be so selfish? That’s when the self-hatred kicked in.

On Tuesday came the message I feared. My therapist was cancelling our session this week too. This brought back the memory of another attachment figure, my OT, cancelling two of our sessions back to back, and then sending an email weeks later terminating our work. The reason for the new cancellation was also a trigger. The memorial service was on the day my session was supposed to be. My therapist had said that she would be back in the office this week. So the thought that she was going to be seeing some other clients this week, but not me, felt devastating.

In panic mode all I wanted to do was beg her for a time, any time this week, even just a 10 minute call, which we had done before. I wanted her to know how badly I was taking this. The effect it was having on me. I felt like I had been on the edge of a cliff since the previous day, and now I was slipping. But despite the frame of mind I was in, I resisted my urges. Because I didn’t want to make things harder for her than they already were. Because I care about her.

But I knew I needed to do something because at that moment I didn’t trust myself with myself. I knew I needed to talk to someone. A professional. I thought of the therapist who I had two sessions with when my therapist was on leave. While I had been comfortable with her, I wasn’t comfortable enough in this situation. I didn’t want anyone that was even remotely connected to my therapist. I wanted A. Other than my current therapist, A knows me best and knows how to work (and deal) with me. We worked together for more than two years after all.

I reached out to her and asked whether we could schedule an appointment for sometime this week. I was worried that she wouldn’t have time available. But thankfully, she did. So we scheduled a video session for the next day. And even though I was in a horrible place for the rest of that day and evening, there was that little sliver of hope peeking through. Keeping me going. Keeping me safe.

Still, leading up to our session, fears that she would cancel as well, kept showing up. But she didn’t cancel. She showed up. It was like coming up for air.

We’ve had contact since we stopped working together when I moved over to my current therapist in 2018, but they were just text messages here and there. She still reads my blog. This has all been enough to keep our connection strong.

I didn’t know what to expect after such a long time of not seeing her. I thought I’d be nervous. That it might be weird. But it wasn’t. It was as though no time had passed. It felt familiar. Comfortable.

For some reason, my distress of the past few days and hours fizzled out as soon as I saw her. We caught up a bit. Some nice moments.

It was easy to open up about everything going on. And it felt so good to be able to talk to someone about this situation with my therapist. Especially with someone who is a therapist herself, and at the same time, knows me well. She provided different perspectives. Possibilities. Got me to list the evidence for why I can trust my therapist and know she cares about me. This exercise was extremely helpful, and not something I had been able to do, or see, in my distressed state.

What was also helpful was when A told that I’ve grown since we worked together, and pointed some of it out. It helped because I’d been feeling like a failure. A therapy and personal failure. Like I had regressed completely. It also felt really good when she said that it was nice to see me again. A much-needed boost to my self-esteem.

Ever the ethical professional, she asked whether I would be okay with her contacting my therapist to let her know that we had a “emergency” session. I actually really appreciated this because like she said, she doesn’t want to interfere in my work with my current therapist. Feeling protective though, I asked her to rather send her that message next Monday. I want to give therapist some “space” this week. She doesn’t need to be thinking of me right now. I’m seeing her on Monday (still struggling with the fear of yet another cancellation), so then we can discuss it as well.

This session was exactly what I needed. It felt like a warm, comforting hug. It was as though I had been stuck in a pit of despair and negativity, but had been pulled out of it. Of course, this doesn’t mean I’m completely okay. I’m still struggling. But I’m coping.

We do what we have to in order to survive.

On Accidents, Trauma, and Fighting for a Better Future

In over 15 years of driving, I’d never had an accident.

Sure, I’d been in a few with other people driving. But this time I was the one behind the wheel.

It was after threapy and I had just taken my car for a desperately needed wash, so was feeling pretty good. It happened so fast, and yet, in a single moment time seemed to slow down considerably. The traffic light was green, and while I always slow down somewhat before crossing an intersection, it wasn’t enough this time.

A car running a red light came speeding towards me. Within the space of a second, my brain had me realizing that if I braked too hard, or tried to swerve, I would either hit another car, or take an impact right on my side. And I suddenly felt myself relax into it, knowing it was inevitable that we were going to collide. It always amazes me how at times the brain seems to have superpowers, such as in this instance, while other times it feels as though it’s not doing it’s job.

The sound of metal hitting metal drills down deep inside your head and bones. And then, just like that, it was over. I pulled over to the side of the road, and turned off the ignition, an eery calm settling over me. Two guys had also pulled off and came to see whether I was okay. I was. They were surprised by both my calmness and the fact that my car withstood that much force with minimal damage. They gave me their names and phone number in case I needed witnesses.

I went over to the lady who had hit me, and tried to calm her down enough to have a sane conversation. Her car had the most damage, but thankfully only to the back door and side, nowhere near her. The police station was just a few minutes away, so she followed me there. We were there for almost two hours before I could finally go home.

Once I was back in the safety and comfort of my room, exhaustion set in. And the loneliness. While at the police station, the lady was almost constantly on her phone, telling family or friends what had happened. I didn’t call anyone. An old habit. Withdrawing within myself. When the loneliness set in though, I desperately wanted to call my therapist. It took every ounce of strength I had left to resist the urge. So I wrote her a letter the next day instead, one that went unsent. I’ll share part of that letter in my next post.

The days following the accident were miserable. I was exhausted, my body ached, and I just generally didn’t feel well. I had eventually told a few people what had happened, and was both grateful, and sad, that for a week my phone was silent. Grateful, because part of me didn’t have the energy to talk or explain. And sad, well, for obvious reasons.

It’s been about 3 weeks now, and I’m finally able to drive without going into panic mode when certain sounds and sights occur that remind me of that day.

On Trauma

Like so many of you, my past was traumatic. It has subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, affected my life in negative ways. It would be easy to just give up on having a good future. And there are times when I do. Days where I just give in to what I see as my fate of a crap life forever. But I know deep down, that the past, and our current circumstances, aren’t guarenteed to lead us down bad roads. There’s no such thing as fate. And I certainly don’t believe in “everything happens for a reason”. Sometimes bad shit just happens. Trying to find a reason for why something happend, the silver lining, while good in certain situations, can also cause more turmoil, and take us away from truly dealing with it. From choosing how to respond to it, and ultimately, move forward in a positive direction.

This minor accident brought up a lot of old trauma, and the days following it were a challenge to get through. That’s the thing with the long-lasting effects of trauma. It isn’t always logical. It can get tangled up in little things we do, in minor things that happen.

I’m still dealing with a lot of my demons. Depression and anxiety show up regularly. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t fight and strive for a better future.

And So, I Fight

I have to fight. Against the desire to die that is a regular foe. The pull of the darkness. It’s real. It’s not some mere concept. I’ve learned the hard way that just because a person has escaped that pull over and over again, doesn’t guarentees someone will always come out alive.

Of course, there have been beautiful patches of light throughout my years, and I try to hold onto those when the darkness is suffocating. And when I’m at my lowest and feel like I just can’t fight anymore, I made a list the other day to help guide me:

  • Stop pressuring yourself to “just get over it”. It’s okay not to be okay.
  • Allow the emotions, all the emotions, to be felt, heard, and understood.
  • Be gentle with yourself.
  • Rest, take it easy.
  • You’ve been here before. You got through it then. And you’ll get through it again.

I’m slowly learning to love myself. At least the deep self-hatred is gone. I’m finding my voice. It’s the voice of a survivor. A warrior. And as long as I have breath, I will fight for a brighter future.

I hope you will too.

It’s Not Okay

I shouldn’t be drinking wine (or any form of alcohol) when I’m on my own.

Yet that’s exactly what I’m doing. There’s a sense of rebellion in it, and for some reason, tonight, that feels good.

You see, I told my therapist I wouldn’t, yet here I am. I lied to the one person who has been my rock during a very confusing, overwhelming, and difficult period.

I’m struggling with this whole living alone thing. I’m so done with it. I always thought that’s what I wanted. But it turns out I need that knowing that someone else is around. I want to be alone, together… If that makes sense to anyone else. I have been getting out and spending time with my best friend every now and then, but I’ve found it’s getting harder and harder to leave and face the world. When I’m out there I just want to come home. But once I’m home, I’m relieved, but alone once again.

I have reminders set up for everything, because without them I tend to get lost in some or other world. I have a few special interests, and once I’m “in the zone” with them I struggle to get out of it. I’ll be working on a website design project and before I know it, 6+ hours have passed and I’ve forgotten to eat, go to the bathroom, sleep, etc. I don’t realize I’m hungry or haven’t eaten in 10 hours until I feel dizzy and nauseous. So, as you can see, reminders are a necessity for me. When living with someone I basically follow their lead, and am reminded and more motivated to take care of myself and do the basic things.

The whole pandemic thing doesn’t make things any easier. Everything feels messed up and out of sync in the world. And personally as well.

So, therapy. Had my session today and told my therapist about a dream I had where she was pregnant. I then asked her whether she was, but wasn’t expecting the answer to be “yes”. I had meant it more as a joke than an actual question. It felt as though I had just walked in front of a truck, and I have no idea why I had such an intense reaction to that news. I think I tried to make a joke about how my mom always had this thing where when she would dream someone was pregnant, it would turn out to be true, and that maybe I got that from her. I didn’t want my therapist to know that I had just become extremely uncomfortable. But obviously she noticed. She told me that she hadn’t told any of her clients yet, that I was the first, and she was open to any questions I have. I asked her whether she would adopt me. Seriously. So weird I know.

I didn’t really ask any questions, other than things to make myself seem as though it didn’t affect me. Of course, I did have a couple of very quick tearful moments. She mentioned something about how she’ll still do online video sessions with select clients during her maternity leave. I told her she’ll be too busy with the baby and she’ll wear herself down. “Babies sleep.”, she said. And then I went on about how new parents quickly realize that babies are exhausting and she’ll probably be too tired. As if I have experience with that (which I don’t, other than being obsessed with babies, baby books and magazines when I was a teen). I think it was near the end when I asked her whether she was happy about the baby, and her answer and expressions warmed my heart. I’m happy for her, I really am. So then why do I feel so messed up about this? I’m guessing there’ll be more conversations and emotions coming from this. It shouldn’t matter anyway. I’ll be moving to Sweden probably still this year, and we will be switching to online sessions while I adjust anyway. But it feels like it does matter.

Since our session, everything makes me want to cry, and for a few seconds every now and then, I do. But mostly, it’s just sitting there, wanting yet resisting expression.

I didn’t realize until last week just how much my family moving to Sweden is actually affecting me. They’re over there having a great time, constantly out and about, living the good life. I feel like I’ve been left behind. Abandoned. Another big struggle has been my relationship with M (the lady I used to live with for those that don’t know). For the past few months I’ve been the only one initiating contact, and every time I’ve tried to arrange to visit her, she’s had some excuse. She also confused me so much. Her words and actions never lined up. The few times I got to visit and spend time with her and doggy, I would leave confused or hurt. She would go on about how great the guy who moved in after me is for her. I felt replaced. I felt that she was comparing us. So I tried so hard over the past few weeks to pull away from her. Not letting her know when I was going to be in the area. But I would slip up, only to have my call go unanswered and no contact. It was making me feel like shit every time, so both my therapist and myself thought it was better for me if I just saw our relationship as one that was only supposed to last a “season”.

But the “pull” I feel towards her isn’t that easy to ignore. And I gave in again today. I thought I couldn’t feel any worse than I already did, so what the hell. I called M, and she actually answered and we arranged to meet at our favourite coffee shop. She genuinely seemed happy to see me. But I’ve gotten that wrong with so many people before. So I could be wrong. And even though she also told me that it’s nice to see me, I found myself doubting her words. She brought doggy with her so I could see her too, which I was really glad about.

Today seemed to be a day of shock news. M told me that she’s engaged to the guy who moved in when I moved out. It happened on Monday, and again, I’m the first person to know. They’re 30 years apart in age. Not that I care about age, love is love. But it was the last thing I ever expected to hear. Her husband passed away two years ago, and her son in March. I once told my therapist, months back when the guy first moved in, that I think M has some unconscious process going on. Her daughter, who’s name I share, passed away a year before M asked me to move in with her. Then, she told me she needed to live alone, so I had to move out. Then shortly after that, this guy moves in with her, into what was my room. His name is the name of her son. So I thought that maybe she was “using” us on a subconscious level to try to fill those holes. It was the only thing that made sense to me at the time. When I saw her a couple of months back, she told me that this guy reminds her so much of her late husband. And now she’s engaged to him. She said she’s happy, and I want her to be happy, but I’m just worried. I didn’t tell her about the worried part, and am not sure whether it’s my place to share my concerns with her.

I think I’m having a bit of a mental health breakdown. I even sent my previous therapist a message last week asking whether she was angry or disappointed with me. That’s something I haven’t done in such a long time, so that’s a definite sign that I’m not okay. I’m not okay. Not even a little bit. My therapist will be taking a week’s leave in two weeks time, and we’re arranged a check in. She offered to do a video session during her off week to keep that stability there for me, but I don’t feel that’s right. She deserves a break, so I said we could just do a 5-10 minute phone call instead. I know she’ll only be gone for a week, but with how I’ve been, I don’t think I would survive a whole week without hearing her voice. Hell, it feels like I’m barely surviving as it is.

There’s just been too many changes. And for someone who takes months (and on a few occasions in my life, years) to adjust, it’s just too much.

Nothing feels okay.