I’ve been finding it difficult to start writing recently. That’s not because I have nothing to say. I think I’ve just shut down and cut off. That felt like the best way to get through Christmas, and it also often happens when I’ve got a therapy break.
I have an unsettling sense that I’m only just out-running from what’s going on in my head right now. I’m avoiding my feelings as much as I can. I am scared to stop and get stuck in it. All that dark and frightening stuff is still there, and I don’t want to have to cope with it when I can’t see J. It just feels like way too much to handle on my own.
It’s been a busy time, not only because of having to deal with Christmas. Prior to that, I had a very nasty shock when my dog cut an artery while we were out on a walk. The bleeding was like something from a Tarantino movie; her leg was actually squirting blood with every beat of her heart. I couldn’t stop it. We were both drenched in it and I was convinced she would die before I could get her to the vet.
My stress tolerance is as low as you’d expect for someone with PTSD, so I’m not sure how I didn’t completely go to pieces. Some kind of crisis response kicked in and I just got on with it. I ran her home, got her in the car and got straight to the vet. I was shaking so much it was difficult to even drive. Caught up in traffic, I could only feel sheer panic that she was going to bleed to death as we waited. That was an awful, helpless feeling of terror that isn’t entirely unfamiliar to me.
Anyway, we got there in time and the vet patched her up. I thought I might pass out when we arrived, but they were very kind and did a bit of first aid on me too. It was a horrific experience, not helped by the fact that after some bad incidents of self harm a few years ago, I find blood more than a little bit triggering. But I coped with it. I did what was needed, and ultimately everything was OK. After the shock settled down, I actually felt quite proud of myself. I realised that my (surprising) ability to cope and respond to the situation had saved my dog’s life. Which is a pretty big deal because she means the world to me.
Here she is looking grumpy while recovering in her festive hat.
Unfortunately, all that drama meant I had to miss my last session with J before the break. It would also have been our last Thursday session together, as the structure of my therapy will change in January. We planned to go for a walk, and I’d been looking forward to that. I was hoping it would be like last time we walked together, and would help me feel a more solid connection with her. I wanted that because it felt important to me to mark the end of our Thursday sessions. And I needed to feel close to her before going into this long break.
I was totally gutted when I had to cancel. I managed to drive up to J’s to borrow a ‘transitional object’ blanket and collect a note she’d written for me. I was glad I got to see her, but it wasn’t what I’d hoped for. It was just five minutes and I was preoccupied with the fact I’d left my miserable hound in the car.
Therapy breaks are always tough. They stir up all my attachment anxiety. I inevitably feel unimportant, insignificant, abandoned, rejected. That’s not all of me, but when those insecure parts are active, it feels extremely painful and sad. My tactic for coping is to make myself incredibly busy. But while I seem to have felt manically busy in the past week, I can’t list anything I really achieved.
I survived Christmas. Which I suppose is an achievement in itself. It was only a day with my family, but I was really worried about how that would feel. I haven’t spent Christmas with them since I had my breakdown three years ago. It was hard, and I was fairly dissociative for most of the day. A lot came up for me, but that’s probably going to need to be a separate post. But overall, I thought it hadn’t gone too badly.
Then Boxing Day arrived and I felt terrible. I was hit with this massive emotional hangover. I spent the day staring vacantly into the distance, with intervals of uncontrollable sobbing and outbursts of non-specific rage. I felt utterly miserable and thought about suicide a lot. I opened my note from J, which I’d usually save for further into the therapy break, and that just brought about more crying. Eventually, I gave up on being awake, and knocked myself out with meds.
Lesson learned. Even when being with family feels tolerable, I can’t really tolerate it.
In light of this, it isn’t surprising that I ended up coming down with some nasty flu-like virus. All that emotional stuff really took it out of me. This bug has kept me horizontal for the past few days, which I imagine is my body’s way of forcing me to take a break and recover. But it’s horrible having to be with my thoughts; it is insufferable not being able to distract and obsess on the pointless busyness I usually occupy myself with.
In an effort to tolerate sitting still all day, I’ve been learning to crochet. I’m not good with fiddly things, but after a lot of frustration I managed to figure out the most basic basics. Now I’m addicting on a little blanket for my niece. Here’s where I’ve got to so far.
I’m relieved Christmas has been and gone for another year. In a few days, the normal routine of things will kick back in, and I really do find that very reassuring.