Saturday, January 28, 2017

Fawn, Freeze, Flight

My heart hurts, I wake up, I didn’t go to practice because I would have to walk a long way in the cold, it’s early on a Saturday, I’m tired, I was up late. I feel terrible. It’s the weekend but I’m thinking about the quote and branding work I’ve said I will provide some concepts for. I feel that I can’t do them, terrified, I’m so scared of the pressure and failure, to avoid the pain I stay in bed and read, trying to hide, dissociate. I remember my mother telling me off for reading too much, for not living in the real world. I didn’t want to be in the real world. I dreamed I tried to go on a children’s water slide and broke it. Always too big, too grown-up, not innocent enough, not clean enough, not small enough. Breaking everything I touch. 
I want to either lose myself in work and praise, to fawn and please, or dissociate and hide, neither of those is healthy, I’m avoiding incredible pain. I need to be able to sit with myself, to know what I want and to do that. Not to be always acting or not-acting to avoid something, to avoid pain/shame/retribution. I feel incredibly frustrated with myself for this paralysis. I don’t know how to not be in either of those states, to be my authentic self. I’m tired. I’m treating myself for anxiety with an anxiolytic but it might just make me tired.

I decided to get up and make us banana pancakes - is this a subservience/pleasing response in an attempt to run away from the pain again? I think partly. We need breakfast anyway, and sitting in bed didn’t feel good, I could numb myself a little by reading but I feel useless, I’m angry with myself for not getting to practice, I’m tired, I’m uneasy. I don’t know what I want to do with myself today, how I want to be. We are planning to go to drink & draw tonight, it might be useful to think about what I want from this, what the purpose of it is, plan for it.

(I spent some time in bed this morning reading Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving and the author's model of trauma types: fight, flight, fawn, freeze). 


When I had my tattoo started maybe 18 months ago or longer it was to cover my SH scars, a symbolic restart because I hadn't done that in a long time, I felt okay, and I wasn't going to do it again. I finally had some shading work done on it today. I am not in that positive space, things have been really hard for some time, but it's a permanent reminder that I did feel that sense of optimism and gladness and working on it today reminded me that I can feel that way and I can again even if I don't right now.  plus I felt much less dreadful than the last time I was there a few weeks ago. So I have moved forward. I may move back again but I have moved forward.

Also in the context of the book I'm reading (Complex PTSD: From Surviving To Thriving) I realised maybe moving here into this more permanent domestic situation has been a trigger for depression and hopelessness because it reminds me of being a child, desperately trying to please, function and prop up an adult who wasn't coping in a chaotic environment, friendless, withdrawn, powerless and full of shame. It helps give some shape, some sense to my despair - even if it's just theoretical. calling it an emotional flashback feels more productive and hopeful than just a baffling and meaningless period of depression and anxiety.


I’m terrified of succeeding, of coming close to succeeding, it’s like a cliff I can fall off, and it’s my self belief that’s the problem. I don’t believe in my ability to believe that I can succeed, I know I’ll trip myself up so I stay well away from even coming close to some sort of success. I think I would like to be a tattoo artist, that the inherent people-pleasing aspect of it and the fact individuals will be asking for something that they truly want with all their heart, something important to them, might drive me forward and make up for the motivation that I lack in creating things purely for myself. It’s a service, a craft and a trade.

But I hold the idea at arm’s length, I don’t think I could cope with how good it might be. I’m not good enough, not shining and bright enough, not positive enough, not robust, real, committed, cool, confident enough. What I am is foul, decrepit, melancholic, bitter, shy, cowering. And I’m scared of my anxiety rendering me unreliable and the pressure being too much. It’s been too much before. My heart is in my throat thinking about it, seeing other people’s work, looking at my portfolio. My heart sinks.

I’ve always run away from things I might not be good at, the best at, things that seemed too ambitious, even socially. I’ve taken a step back when friends surged forward, just dipped a toe in.
Or I’ve forced myself to move forward, I read ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ and tried to do everything I was scared of, but ended up in situations that felt like too much and ran away again. And now I’m just paralysed. 

It’s hard to breathe now, I don’t think I can think properly to write. I want to cry as apprehension at even the idea of trying to find a tattoo apprenticeship squeezes me in its fist. I looked at a character sheet by an accomplished artist and felt the cold fingers tighten, felt myself give up before I’ve begun, because I don’t know which way to swim in this vast sea of possibilities and impossibilities, so I just let myself go limp and heavy like a  doll, like a petulant child and sink down into the murk.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Papering over

I do things like click on 'email your MP' about stuff and then am horribly triggered when I see they've responded. I don't read the responses. I know they're mass responses too. But just seeing them sets off my terror and internal agony and my inner bully starts saying shut the fuck up you stupid bitch. being addressed by authority and feeling that I have voiced an uninformed opinion in an arena I don't belong in = risk of unbearable psychological pain which sets my inner critic off and my SH urges to silence, soothe, punish, distract.

Did my volunteering interview, I don’t feel any more sure of whether I would be able to cope with the helpline or if I am in far too much emotional turmoil and anxiety still to commit to any such thing. It didn't fully trigger off the above reaction, I've tried to be there for myself and notice the pain and the reaction and the voice inside me swearing at me, trying to soothe instead of punish. How is my self esteem still so devastated, I've partitioned it off in a way, it's not so easy to tell how much self disgust I have but it's twisted up in there for sure. This pain has been under the surface waiting to pop up with incredible ferocity for months. I hope this means healing, so often in therapy I seem tot go through all the motions of progress and healing but in the end I'm not really getting anywhere. I have very sophisticated inner coping mechanisms which only paper over the fear and pain.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Little demon

The exquisite pain of a grief captured inside the ribcage, as a child becoming an adult, it grows with the host, an animal in a small space.

Sneaking into the front room to pick up one of the babies, mum stampeding in, burning white hot. Then I knew I was not to be trusted to hold the babies, to love them, to keep them safe.

Baby basket, white lace and a tranquil room, twins newly minted. Unsplit silence, something for her new husband to love. my brother and I were not to be loved, I could only conform and curry favour, gain praise for being good, but that spluttering flame of anger and fury would come from nowhere when I was bad or was wrongfully accused of wrongdoing. She saw an evil in me who would perform acts of mischief and spite without my knowledge, a demon shadow. It stoked up an anger, an outrage at being so condemned.

I’ve felt the loss over and over, the pain, the inadequacy, the clandestine visits at their grandparents house and the knowledge that I was only causing trouble by turning up there, an imposter in an innocent world which didn’t want me; my heart, as it was, filled with darkness.

Saturday, December 24, 2016


I wish you could take a pill for self esteem or a pill that gets rid of shame. I am so sick of feeling worthless, I have missed out on so much because I didn't think I was good enough, spending time with friends, doing exciting things. I've run away from so much. I want to do things but I'm scared that I'll decide I'm not good enough and run away, so then it becomes this fucking meta-fear of fear or lack of belief in believing in myself.

I had a shameful thought/memory come up on the way home from training and it felt so paralysing and awful and I didn't know how to get away from it or how to deal with it or how it would ever go away. And now a few minutes later I can't even remember what it was. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Functional nouns

I’m 30 and I’ve had depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember. I’m never sure whether I like to refer to it in those terms - nouns, diseases, discrete afflictions that can be separated from the self. Illnesses that can be treated, put to one side and removed from the core personality. I am chronically unhappy, uneasy, uncomfortable in my skin, and why should I take up any space if I can’t feel at ease, pouring dissatisfaction into the world, itching and scratching at my existence and calling out to be soothed by people who can’t help me? I am exasperating. 

I’ve been asking for help since I was 14, because I felt like I wanted to die and got through emotional pain with self harm, alcohol and drugs, starving myself, binging and purging. I’ve been prescribed 7 antidepressants which seem to help at first before I crash and burn and destroy whatever I’ve been working for. Bouts of counselling where I seem to do well, I have so much insight, but insight doesn’t change things in the long run, not on its own. I feel the exasperation of professionals assigned to my care. I fall into a gutter where I function too well to be in crisis.