Coronavirus & My Mental Health.

It’s a concerning time for everyone right now, with Coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading across the world. Many countries are going into lockdown and confining people to their homes. In the UK people are panic-buying toilet roll, hand gel and paracetamol, and leaving the shelves bare of many other things too.

 

Many events are being cancelled. Social distancing means appointments are being cancelled as well as groups. People are working from home. Social gatherings are being banned. Restaurants are closing their seating areas and becoming takeaways. Schools are closing until further notice. Pubs, clubs, theatres, zoos are closing. We are now effectively in lockdown and can only leave our homes for essential shopping, medical reasons, work or exercise. Groups will be dispersed. People may be fined for ignoring these rules. Initially this is three weeks, but will be much longer no doubt. It’s worrying times.

 

I want to tell you about my own personal worries and how this is impacting my mental health. I really feel for everyone out there right now, who has a mental health condition and is facing the prospect of months of isolation, with no support. I’m with you.

 

Last Tuesday my peer support group got cancelled for the foreseeable future. It hit me really hard for so many reasons. I don’t have friends anymore. That group was the only support I had… socially. They were my only contact with actual human beings outside of my house.

 

In the year or two prior to attending the Wellbeing Centre, I had isolated myself. I didn’t leave the house. I didn’t talk to anyone, besides family. I didn’t have hobbies. I didn’t have goals. Things were incredibly bleak and black. I was on the verge of ending my life. I obsessed about it daily. I felt certain it would happen in the next six months or so. So attending the Centre has helped me tremendously….

 

I felt human again, after being out of contact with other humans for so long. The journals we keep in the sessions helped me to look at things more positively. I found more gratitude. I recognised my achievements. I started wanting to achieve more. This year I’ve signed up each month to walk 25 miles… trying to collect medals for my efforts. I’ve also got back into hobbies such as drawing and poetry. I’ve taken up new ones, like crochet – that’s helped me so much. I love learning all about it. I looked forward to seeing everyone and being able to talk about things with someone. So losing all of that now, it’s really upsetting.

 

It’s made worse by the feelings and I guess a form of attachment I have to one of those taking the group. I’ve battled so hard with that this year, secretly (other than writing about it on here). I’ve talked to the Centre about it. Unfortunately things weren’t left on a great note, as after the last session I had a conversation that sent me backwards in my recovery. I also think I upset the person I have the attachment to, and so didn’t get a chance to apologise for it. (This has changed since writing this – he’s reassured me he wasn’t offended and I’d just misinterpreted his comment…. so that’s okay, even though I wasn’t basing my belief on what he said but rather his body language… so I don’t believe him, but at least that’s ‘resolved’).

 

But now I don’t know if / when I might see him again. I already dreaded losing him one day down the line. But I knew it wouldn’t be just yet. I wanted to focus on the time I had with him rather than thinking about the inevitable loss… but with everything closing down for God knows how long, I’m forced into a ‘loss’ situation with him. I have a sense of grief for being without him. And worse than that I fear for him… I worry something might happen to him. And I worry I won’t get to see him again. I feel silly for caring about him. He’s not mine to worry about. But I do. And I can’t keep him safe. I have no control over if he’ll be okay or not. I won’t even know if he’s not okay. And I miss him already. The thought of weeks or months without him feels unbearable. I wasn’t ready for this. It feels like a darkness that will never end. It takes me to a place I’m scared of.

 

He brought the light back into my life. Even a three week break was too much for me. The light faded. It’s gone again. I fear it won’t ever return. At least I knew after three weeks I’d see him again… now I don’t know when it’ll be. This will be longer than three weeks, I’m sure of it. Without seeing him, having contact with others, or having any friends to talk to during isolation… I don’t see how to survive it. I won’t be the same person at the other end. I know that for sure.

 

I had just started making progress, which unfortunately got ruined a bit last time, but this is going to take me back to square one. It’s the not knowing when it’ll end or what life will be like afterwards… who’ll still be standing. It’s terrifying.

 

Not only that but the three year anniversary of losing my granddad was this weekend just gone, and I needed that support from the group. I needed to go last week and this week. Because nobody supports me online. I’m invisible to everyone online. And I have no friends. So that’s all I had. Also in a couple of months it’ll be the first anniversary of my friend’s suicide. Again, I have no support with that. Nobody talks to me. I needed to know I had the group to hear me. I’ll be all alone with these difficult dates. I’m highly aware of all the loss I’ve faced in the last few years…. and now there’s more loss, of the group and the person I care for.

 

It’s highly likely that every event I had booked up last year, to keep me alive this year will also be cancelled. I’ve got the theatre next month…. was going to see Queen in June and Westlife in July and August – was going to actually see them on my birthday this year – it would’ve been the best birthday ever….. but as usual it was too good to be true… just like last year getting front row seats – that was too good to be true, so my friend who was going with me took her own life five weeks before… turned a dream come true into something to just get through and grieve. I can never have a good experience. It’s true. Something always, ALWAYS ruins it. Every single time. So this takes me to a depressing place where I just think ‘what’s the point?’… Life was hard enough without all this.

 

Add to that the anxiety I feel. Before, my anxiety symptoms tended to happen outside the house – my blinking tic, my palpitations were associated with leaving the house. Now I’m having them at home. The fear of the unknown, the sheer scale of this and all the drama of it, it’s too much to cope with. To someone with anxiety it feels like the apocalypse… for real. I actually said the other day, this is pretty much like an asteroid situation isn’t it….. to which I was told it isn’t – because in an asteroid situation you’d just have to accept that’s it and you wouldn’t survive, whereas with this at least there’s hope and we will survive it. But it still feels ‘end of the world’ sort of stuff. Maybe because of my depression and that it is kind of the end of my world right now.

 

I’m also seriously concerned for loved ones. All of my family would fall into at least one of the vulnerable categories. I seem to be the only one who doesn’t. I’d say at least that’s something. But the thing is I’m not concerned about me getting it. I hate life at the moment. If something happens to me so be it. But losing someone I care about to it? That I can’t do. I can’t lose anything else. I have a very small family. I can’t lose any of them. I would gladly sacrifice myself, catch it and die if it could spare them all. Some of those family members I won’t get to see now. All I can do is worry about them from afar… again not knowing if / when I’ll see them next. What if something happens to them and I never got to see them again? I hope to speak on the phone to the people I care about. I have an older colleague / friend who lives alone. I really feel for her being isolated. I know she will hate it. So I will try and stay in touch with her too. I wish I could do more for them all, but I can’t risk carrying and passing anything on to them. So I have to keep my distance and not go out.

 

I’m used to isolation. Before I went to the Wellbeing Centre I’d stay in my room most of the time, with the curtains closed. I’m not one who typically gets bored. The only reason I’m struggling with the idea is the lack of support and social interaction with real human beings, beyond these four walls. It’s the fact that I had stopped totally isolating myself for about four months…. and now I have to go back to isolating again. It’s demoralising. It makes me wonder if I’ll ever be able to break back out of my shell again one day. I’m not sure I will. It took a lot of effort to get where I did. If I hadn’t been shown the light for a few weeks then I wouldn’t miss it. I would find isolation an absolute breeze, as it was my reality for at least two years! It’s being given something and having it taken away that I struggle to cope with. But I will do my best to cope nonetheless.

 

I’ve decided to make a list of things I can do with my time. I plan to avoid the news, forget the reason why this is happening, and just treat it as an enforced holiday. I will do things I enjoy. I will look after myself and see it as a period of recuperation. Here are some of my ideas:

 

  •  Catching up on sleep!! Anxiety is affecting my sleep cycle at the moment, so I’ll try and get extra sleep and find a routine.
  •  Binge-watching boxsets…. from things like LOST, to Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars, even Dawson’s Creek – many episodes of old shows to watch.
  •  Exercise – if a time comes when I can’t even go out for walks, I can still do exercise – either DVDs or online workouts, or the exercise bike.
  •  Trying to improve my drawing skills.
  • Get back into painting again.
  • Keep learning more about crochet and creating lovely designs. I bought another batch of colours the other day to keep me busy.
  • Playing guitar.
  • Listening to music.
  • Playing old Wii games.
  • Playing online games – on Facebook, Royal Games, Sporcle, or doing all the Escape The Room Games online. There’s lots to be played!
  •  Tidying and cleaning. Necessary stuff.
  • Playing board games with family. If none of us are going out then we can’t pass anything on to each other.
  •  As long as I’m able to leave the house and go to the postbox down the road, I’ll write to those I care about, living alone, and keep them in the loop. Otherwise I’ll just phone them.
  • Writing poetry.
  •  Blogging – on this blog and on my poetry blog. I can find old poems I’ve written and design the banners for each of them, which is fun.
  • Keeping a journal about all of this so that one day when we look back, I can talk about how we got through it.
  •  Learning new skills. I taught myself crochet by watching YouTube videos. I could learn other things too.
  • Brushing up on shorthand now I’ve found my shorthand dictionary.
  •  Losing weight. So that by the time I next see other people I’ll be a whole different person. They won’t even recognise me!
  •  Jigsaw puzzles.
  • Puzzle books.
  • Reading.

 

There’s SO much I can do with my time. I certainly won’t get bored of that. I might just feel a bit lonely. I’ll miss people. I’ll worry for people. But I can keep myself busy. Or not. I can equally just rest and do guided meditations to relax. We do what we must to get through this. And then hope that life can continue afterwards as it was before.

 

Staying at home is no problem for me. That was my life last year and most of the year before. I only went out for appointments or to volunteer. I didn’t see anyone socially. I didn’t go to the shops. I hardly left the house. So in a way it’s no different for me. The way I’m struggling, already, is the thought I might not see people from the Wellbeing Centre for months on end. The light at the end of the tunnel has been snuffed out. Also while I was going out to the Centre and meeting with people, I placed less focus on people online. Now I have no contact and have no friends to chat to, I find myself noticing how invisible I am again. I post and nobody notices. Nobody talks to me. I liked not caring about that for a while. Now I feel very isolated again. It has turned my mind back to things I’d pushed out of my mind – the friend who abandoned me, and the friend who took her own life. Wishing I had both, or either of them right now. I feel very lonely already. It’s forcing me to face all that again when I really don’t want to. I had started moving on.

 

Having experienced a change to the isolation I knew, I now feel it more to have to return to such isolation. It’s like being shown love, to have it cruelly ripped away moments later. With mental illness I find that hope can be dangerous… despair is my life. If all you know is despair then it doesn’t feel as bad as things improving and then getting worse again…. the despair then feels so much worse and like something you can’t survive. It makes you think it’s better to stay down in that pit and never see the sunlight for a moment. You start to fear happiness or hope. The darkness feels even darker after the light.

 

Anytime I’ve looked forward to something, something has ruined it. And just as I started to try and turn my life around this year, this has happened. What’s the point? By the time this is over, most if not all of that work will have been undone.

 

Nothing can replace what I feel I’ve lost at this moment in time. I  fear losing more. But I’ve decided that every Tuesday I will blog about the things I’d normally write in my recovery journal at the Centre. I will list three things or so that I’m grateful for, one thing I struggled with in the week, what I learnt from it, and three things I’ve achieved. It won’t be the same. But it’ll keep my mindset on recovery, gratitude and achievements.

 

It’s taken a while to get this post done. I’ve felt a bit under the weather the last few days. Was worried I had this Coronavirus thing, as I’ve felt breathless and been coughing ust a little bit. But probably just anxiety. I feel better today.

 

Anyway I hope everyone stays safe, follows the advice and rules and you can all find your way through this difficult time. We’ll come through this together. But I fully understand how hard it is for people like us. Stay strong and take care.

 

xxxx

 

 

My Experience Of IAPT.

My Experience Of IAPT.

 

 

*Self-harm & suicide*
*Pictures of dressings shown but no scars etc. visible*

 

 

One year ago tonight I had a breakdown at my group therapy session, and self-harmed in the break. That was the point my life spiralled down to the mess it is now. I still vividly remember that night.

 

I had arrived early, to ask to speak to one of the therapists afterwards about an issue. That issue was what I called ‘transference’. I wanted help to know how to cope with it, so that it wouldn’t become a barrier for me in the group. I was terrified about talking about it. I felt sick with anxiety in the time leading up to it. I felt I had to do something, and this was definitely something new for me, so very hard to do.

 

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I got to the building and pressed the buzzer to be let in….. no answer…. I tried again, and again…. no answer. I phoned the therapist we were told to phone to be let in…. no answer. So I stood there for fifteen / twenty minutes by myself, until someone else turned up. It was almost time for the session to start by this point. We were the first ones there. We went in when someone else came out, and went up in the lift and stood outside the doors to where we had to be. A couple of others turned up, having done the same, so four or five of us were just lurking by the lifts, wondering what was going on. I was really angry that on this one day where I needed to talk to them before the session, they ignored me. And that now there wasn’t time to say anything! In the end another member of the group phoned the therapist… and this time he answered! Which given that I was transferring on him, made me feel personally rejected, like the other person was special to him but I was irrelevant and to be avoided. I was nothing. So it all set me off in a very bad way… It turned out the buzzer wasn’t working. I don’t know why the therapist didn’t answer my call, but answered the other person’s. I’ll never know that.

 

There was no time to ask to talk to them later. But I knew I had to say something. I spent the first half of the session zoned out. I couldn’t focus. I was so anxious about confronting the problem, that I wasn’t paying attention to what we were doing. I hobbled to the break and asked to speak to Matt. I told him I wasn’t able to take anything in… that I had a problem and could I speak about it afterwards… he said the line I heard far too often on that course – that there’s limited time as they have to be out of the building by 7:30pm. I was starting to cry by this point for holding it all in. So he said we could have a chat there and then. We went into the next room and sat on one of the couches. I don’t remember all the words – not to quote them anyway. But I remember I was following a plan of how to tackle the issue. I had problem-solved and decided how to approach it, to save any misunderstandings or embarrassment. I was building up to saying what I needed to. But before I could ever get to that point, Matt steered the conversation away. He skirted round the issue, and kept talking about me having an appointment made with my individual therapist. He wasn’t hearing me. He wasn’t giving me the opportunity to say what I needed to. Okay, I should have just blurted it straight out, but I was scared, so I was working up to it. I’d done all this problem-solving homework that week, to figure out what to say and do about it….

 

 

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It didn’t go at all to plan. I didn’t get beyond three or four points, before he led the conversation. With all the skirting around it, we ran out of time and had to go back in for the second half. I was still heavily burdened, and in fact felt even worse. I felt unheard, misunderstood and rejected in a sense, in that he was stopping me speaking to him and forcing me to do things a different way. In one pocket I had my grounding object. In the other I had something to harm myself with, wrapped in a small bandage. I had never intended to use it. I had hoped things would go better than they did. It was ‘insurance’. It was just in case things went so badly I couldn’t cope anymore. I shouldn’t have had it on me. I know that. But I was in a very bad state of mind, and it was so I felt I had options.

 

I followed Matt out of the room, and was so close to making the right decision. I was just behind him as he went in the door to the main room. I had my hand in my pocket on my grounding object, but the prospect of going back in that room, with nothing feeling better, nothing released, for more of the same – hearing nothing and being lost in upsetting thoughts, I felt ‘what’s the point?’… I couldn’t do it. I felt trapped. So I told Matt I’d just be a minute, he said okay, and I walked in the opposite direction, to the toilets.

 

I was beginning to cry and was muttering to myself as I went. I had difficulty getting in the toilet door, as another door was open just inside, and it was preventing the door opening. This added to the feeling of frustration. When I finally got in, I went to the farthest cubicle, shut myself in, pulled out the tool, and with one quick and impulsive movement I had gone too deep. When I saw what I’d done I began to panic. I was hyperventilating. There was no pain at that point, and in fact it took a while to even bleed, but once it did, it really did. I grabbed some tissue and as I did, the blood went all over the floor. I’d never harmed myself that badly before, and I still graphically remember seeing it, and hearing the blood hit the floor. I’m not trying to glamorise it. And I am actually leaving details out. I am traumatised by the experience and still have unwanted flashbacks. It’s not something I can forget.

 

I don’t know how long I was in there, but it was the loneliest feeling I’ve ever felt. I was speaking out loud saying ‘I don’t know what to do… what do I do? What am I going to do… I don’t know what to do’. I was panicking. I was kicking the side of the cubicle whilst crying ‘NO! NO! NO!’…  I felt sick seeing the wound. I had already had a bandage on my arm from previous self-harm. I used what I had taken off to put over the wound and bandaged myself up, just so that I could come out of the cubicle, to the taps with some tissue and clean the floor up. I was worried someone would come in and I’d be caught. I thought I could hide what I’d done to myself, but if they saw it on the floor that’d be it for me. So I cleaned the floor up. And then I tried my best to clean my face up. I had cried so much I had panda eyes. I had all the signs I’d been crying, and I didn’t want people to notice if I went back in. I knew I had to go back in, because I didn’t have anything to treat myself with. But in my bag I had steri-strips and a dressing. This would seem odd to people. But just as I had ‘insurance’ by having the tool with me, I had ‘insurance’ just in case it happened. Again, I never thought I’d need it – that’s why I didn’t have that on me in the toilets! When I self-harmed I wasn’t in my right mind, so I didn’t think of the consequences in that moment.

 

I didn’t know what the time was at this point. Had I missed ten minutes? Half an hour? Was the session almost over? I walked back to the session, went in whilst trying to hide my face. I sat back down in my seat nearest the door. I wasn’t present. I think the therapists were trying to include me, but I was just focused on how to treat my arm. It was throbbing by this point, and I felt really sick. I decided I had to do something, so I just grabbed the bag that had the treatment stuff in, and dashed back out again.

 

This was what alerted Vicky, the other therapist, that something was wrong. I don’t know what happened in the room after I went out. All I know is that initially I went to the room next door, sat on the couch and started to search for my steri-strips. I then realised what I was doing and how foolish it was to sit in a room that anyone could walk into at any minute. I then went back to the toilets, to the end cubicle, having wasted valuable time, and unbandaged my arm. I was searching in my bag for what I needed, and I heard someone outside the toilets talking. It sounded like they were calling me. I didn’t answer. I started panicking more. I had to rush to treat it before anyone saw. Then I heard Vicky come in. As lovely as she was, she had quite a brusque tone, and it made me feel scared that I’d be in trouble. I didn’t want her to know what I’d done.

 

But I realised I didn’t have a choice. I think she was asking me to come out. I reluctantly told her I had a problem. That I’d hurt myself and it was the worst I’d ever done it. I was crying the whole time. She had to persuade me to come out and let her see if I needed treatment. I felt so ashamed – nobody ever sees my wounds and I didn’t want her to see it. She had to tell me she wasn’t mad with me, she just needed me to come out so she could help me. Eventually I reluctantly came out. It didn’t feel real. She said it would need stitches. I got a bit distressed, as I didn’t want anyone to have to know. I hadn’t needed to seek treatment for self-harm for about ten years… after that one experience I said never again. I hated worrying my family like that. I talked things through with Vicky – about not wanting to give my family more to worry about… we’d had a bad enough year. I don’t remember everything we said, but I remember her saying ‘old habits die hard’. I remember her reaction when I said I had something to treat it with. When I got the bits out, and she was like ‘What is this? Is this your kit?’… It felt attacking and judgemental at the time… and looking back actually. I felt so ashamed. I can still feel that kick of shame right now. As it turned out it was just as well I had something, as they’re not kitted out for things like that. She got me to hold the wound closed while she put the strips on. She advised me to get it looked at for stitches still.

 

I was so apologetic. I didn’t want anyone to know. One of my first questions was who would have to know about it? She said ‘Well I’m going to have to tell Matt’. That was one person who I didn’t want to know about it. I didn’t want him to feel it was his fault, having just spoken to me. She said my individual therapist would have to know. And then as the session was coming to an end I had the choice to stay in there, or to sit in the room next door to the group. I asked Vicky to put my stuff in the room next door, so I could avoid seeing anyone at the end. I had been getting a lift home each week, but that particular week, because I was intending to have a chat at the end, and didn’t want anyone to know about it, I said I’d get the train. So I was suddenly stranded at the end of the session. So after another chat with Vicky I phoned my dad for a lift. And initially waited in that room. Vicky tried to lift me up by saying to look at the positives – that I came out and got help from her…. that I knew it was the wrong choice and regretted it… She said one of them would phone me the next day to check in on how I was. Matt tentatively popped his head in the door whilst we were talking, and I felt so guilty seeing him, as obviously he knew at that point something had happened. Apart from how to tell anyone I needed to go to the hospital, how Matt felt about it was my biggest concern. Daft I know.

 

I had to wait for my lift, so walked over to the train station to be met there. I got in the car – obviously my dad knew something was wrong as I’d said I wasn’t good and needed picking up. But I couldn’t admit it. I said I wasn’t sure whether to tell him or what…. but I waited until we got home, and told my mum instead. We went straight back out, to the minor-injuries unit. It was all a bit of a blur. It didn’t feel real. I didn’t want what was happening, but just had to go with it. I think on some level I zoned out… detaching myself from the reality of it all. I remember sitting in the waiting room, feeling so completely drained and flat, and noticing how sparkly the floor was…. mesmerizingly beautiful. I found an odd sense of peace in it. I was seen really quickly, probably because it said I had ‘a cut on my arm’ on the form I had to fill in… I guess they prioritise things like that in case it might prove fatal. They commented on what a good job Vicky had done closing it. They decided to leave it as it was, and not to stitch it, but to put special dressings on it, and I had to go back in every couple of days to have it checked and changed.

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They were really good about looking after it. I never felt judged.  Until the last check-up I had, where the nurse made me feel like shit, took the strips off too soon and fiddled with the wound until it hurt. She interrogated me, and made it sound like I shouldn’t have been there, and should have gone to my doctor’s surgery to have it checked – despite having been told to come back there. Lucky I had someone in there with me – we just got up and walked out on her in the end. I complained about her.

 

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But going back to that first night with the wound – it was difficult. I found it hard to sleep. It hurt so much and I couldn’t risk sleeping on it. I was also haunted by the visions of what had happened. I started writing a letter to them about it, because I was so angry that I’d been left in that situation. I was angry that I hadn’t been listened to, and that I’d been made to do what I did (yes, I know it was my choice), and for everything I’d gone through that night as a result. I was so angry I was crying about it. So I wrote it out. A part of me felt I wouldn’t go back to the group. Part of me felt they wouldn’t let me. I was worried I’d be in trouble and I’d be abandoned in that state. I decided not to make any decisions that night. The next afternoon Vicky phoned. I couldn’t tell her why I did what I did, but said I’d written something to explain it and would let them read it the next week. I was excused from doing the homework that week.

 

This is a sample of what I went through in those first few days after it happened:

 

 

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It was a difficult week – full of pain, flashbacks and wound checks. The flashbacks I was having were so vivid… graphic… disturbing. I had to keep my senses fixed on the present, so took to colouring and other visual activities like jigsaw puzzles, to try and keep my mind off it.

 

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I had tendon pain, from the wound up towards my thumb. I had this for several weeks and had to be careful what I did. They checked I had sensation in my hand, so were sure it was okay, and just bruising or something. I felt I had no right to complain about that pain though, as I had done it to myself. But family kept reminding me it wasn’t my fault, and I still didn’t deserve to be in that pain, just because I self-harmed. It did wear off eventually, but I’ll never forget that pain. I even drew on my arm to show the area where I felt pain…

 

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That week was just about surviving and getting through it, and catching up on sleep I couldn’t easily have. When I went in the next week I texted and asked to come up earlier, as having to catch public transport I had to wait around in town for a long time, and I was really anxious about going back there. They said that was fine. Vicky spoke to me before the session to check in. I gave her what I’d written. I apologised again, saying I never wanted that to happen again. I asked them what the group knew about what had happened, and they said that I just left and wasn’t coming back into the session. I don’t know what the truth is. I don’t know at what point Vicky told Matt – was it quietly at the end, where someone else could have heard? I was worried this might be the case. But that session I really threw myself back into it positively. I joined in more. At the time it felt like a turning point…

 

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I later wrote about what I learned from the experience myself…

 

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At the end of that more positive session I apologised to Matt, saying I hadn’t wanted him to feel bad about it. He said that he actually learnt from the experience, that he should get straight to the heart of the issue early on. He realised I was close to releasing something and he didn’t give me the opportunity to do it. We spoke briefly about my self-harm, and how it had come from a sense of feeling ‘trapped’. I said I’d written to explain it. Then they offered me some of the left-over biscuits from the break and I left… knowing that the next time I saw them they’d know what had happened and why.

 

This was part of the previous ‘problem-solving’ homework – where I assessed how it went.  This was written in a bad moment where it was hard to find positivity!

 

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The rest of the course was difficult. There were better weeks, and others where I didn’t cope well at all. One week I was really anxious (I took a diazepam before the session, despite not having it prescribed for that) … I had difficulty speaking out and asked Vicky for help with it by giving her a note… she nodded to say she would help, but when it came to it she didn’t. This was so I would push myself to do it without help. But I wasn’t happy with this. It happened the same week that someone was a bit abrupt and stand-offish with me, and also the next day Matt had seemingly ‘ignored’ a text from me, saying I wanted to leave the group and why. I was angry about all these things… and hurt. I brought it up at the next session, but it felt unresolved, and I self-harmed in the break again. They didn’t know this time. Vicky came in to check on me, but I managed to bluff my way through it, talking to her through the door whilst bandaging my arm, so that she never knew. I told her I was just upset and needed a minute. When we came out of the toilets Matt was at the end of the corridor waiting to speak to me, to say he was sorry he didn’t get my text. We realised because his work phone is an old phone, and my text went over a certain length it came through as a multimedia message, and he thought it was spam. So he didn’t open it. He said he would never have knowingly ignored me in distress, he just didn’t get the message. So that felt a bit better, but it felt like a rejection, and that doesn’t heal immediately. This is what my text had said:

 

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And these are to illustrate the struggles I continued to have throughout the course…

 

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Another week I asked to speak to Matt before the session. I wanted to know how to detach from someone, and if I would get any help with transference issues after the course. This time I asked if I could just say my bit before he answered or asked anything. So he just made notes. I didn’t get wonderful answers. The bits I remember were to remember my values … that from reading literature on it, transference tends to sort itself out, and if it doesn’t you’d normally just not work with the therapist anymore… and that I had the option of quitting the group and having some alternative help. I don’t know what that would have been. He talked about people wanting therapy to ‘fix’ them. And about transference being about wanting solace from our struggles. I felt a lack of validation and understanding. And I also heard ‘If you yourself can’t get over your fear of losing me, you’ll have to lose me’. I felt zoned out by that point. I felt despondent. He asked if I could do the session today. I said I didn’t feel safe. He asked if I had the means on me to harm myself. I said no. I was telling the truth. He asked if I could keep safe that night. I said it would be difficult. I knew in that moment I would be going home and harming myself. I wished I had something on me. I had decided to avoid that option that week though. I went into the session, didn’t join in at all. Didn’t say a word. Nobody even looked at me through that whole session – particularly Matt. I felt invisible and rejected. They did a role-play about how to say no to things, a made up excuse they joked about was that ‘my granddad died… no the other granddad’ – and given my granddad had died six months earlier it kicked me to the core. It felt like a personal attack. Insensitive. I wrote these notes during the session, desperate to get out of there…

 

 

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Dashed out of there at the end, ran down the stairs, got in the car and said ‘don’t ask’. I went home, harmed myself and had to go for treatment again. My family were desperate for me to stop going to therapy at that point. They didn’t know what my problem there was. I couldn’t tell anyone. They just saw me getting worse. It was only once the therapy finished I finally admitted it to them. But even I was questioning why I was continuing to go to the group when I was always left in this state…

 

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By the halfway point of the course I was painfully attached to Matt. I couldn’t understand it. It was overwhelming and distressing, and nobody else knew how much I was suffering or why. I saw the end in sight and I was so desperately upset about the impending loss. I couldn’t admit to the group the reality of it, so made it sound like I’d miss the group. Consequently I felt misunderstood. It was a heartbreaking experience.

 

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I wrote a note to Matt about that chat I’d had with him, the one that led me to go home and self-harm…  and how misunderstood I felt. I also spoke to Vicky a couple of times, breaking down in tears at the loss I faced. They were both really good about it. After giving Matt the note he seemed more understanding and caring, saying he knew it’s not easy, and he understood. He said he’d have a word with my therapist so that I could get more urgent support. I had my appointment two days after the course ended. I thought this was because she was aware of everything that happened. She wasn’t. She made me tell her everything and then trivialised my feelings for Matt. It was all handled wrong. I was then told that was my last session with her, and effectively abandoned, two days after that loss of Matt and the group.

 

But I’ll come to that…. going back to before the final session… Throughout the course I found that I would spend Thursdays crying because of my feelings for Matt, and the loss I was going to face. The thought of never seeing him again was unbearable. It’s a thought I still haven’t come to terms with a year later. To have to spend ‘forever’ without him. Forever is a long time. I don’t cope well with ‘forever’ or ‘never’. It tends to make me suicidal from the pain.

 

The days leading up to the session were tough. I had support from group members who added me on Facebook, but I still couldn’t tell them what I was going through.

 

 

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That night of the last session was hard. I was very emotional. It was made harder because Vicky wasn’t there – she had supported me through the course and my feelings, and wasn’t there at the end. At that point the only people who knew how I felt were me and Matt. I had told another member of the group a couple of days before, who wasn’t there for the last session either… I only told her because I knew I wouldn’t have to sit in that session with her knowing. So the only people in the room who knew the pain I was in were me and Matt. The burden was too much. I got upset in the break and admitted it to one of the others. The very last mindfulness session we did I still remember. I remember thinking ‘this is the last time I’m going to hear his voice’. It was to be my last memory of him. And I started crying during it for the first time on that course. I’d often hear others during mindfulness exercises, but it was never me. I couldn’t hold it back at that point. And then it was time for goodbye. It felt empty. Unsafe. People gave me hugs at the end… still not aware of why I was upset. While I was hugging one of them I saw Matt notice and look away… to this day I wonder how he felt – was he relieved I’d be gone? Did he feel bad for me? Was he even worried how I’d cope? I doubt it. He probably didn’t think a thing about it. I was so upset at the end that I never really said goodbye or thank you to him. I regretted that for a long time. Anyway a few of us went next door to the pub, and I told them about it and broke down in tears. They were wonderful… they validated me, they understood, they picked me up and made me smile again.

 

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And then I went home, and watched The Apprentice… hiding my face the whole time, as I kept crying. As soon as it was over I went to bed. Only I sat up for hours crying, and self-harming instead of sleeping. The emotional pain was so vivid and loud.

 

Sometimes when in distress I take photos. It may seem odd to some, but sometimes it feels like it captures the emotion and feeling. Just like a self-harm scar says ‘Look, I was upset and this happened’, the photo proves there was real emotion and pain. Often though I’m not even that aware of what I’m doing. I have taken photos of my self-harm before too. I know it seems an odd behaviour – it’s one I might dedicate a post to soon, to explain. This photo captures the raw, ugly despair I felt that night…

 

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I got to the point I didn’t feel I could live in that amount of pain. No amount of self-harm could stop the emotional pain. Nothing would stop reality – that I’d lost him forever. And I thought if self-harm can’t fix this, then the only thing that might is suicide. It took me a very long time but eventually I phoned the Samaritans. I had sat with the number in my phone for ages, and hovered over the call button…. I couldn’t bring myself to do it…. I’d never called them before. I didn’t know what to expect or what to say. There was a lovely lady on the other end who got me through that night.  And somehow I got through a lot more after that. I got through Christmas, the New Year and many reminders. I even saw Matt in a shop during this Summer. We looked at each other, but he appeared to not see me or recognise me, so I didn’t say hello. It upset me and dredged everything up, but I’m still alive at least.

 

These were some of my thoughts from that night of the last session:

 

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The whole experience was very traumatic. From start to finish it wasn’t handled right. From not being given the space to say what I needed to, and breaking a vicious circle, to having to deal with it on my own throughout the whole course… to being led to believe I’d have more support at the end…. to being told that was it, they were done with me. I know they feel bad about it, but this is one time that therapy did me more harm than good. And I think there were lessons they could do with learning from it. Talk to each other – my therapist didn’t seem to know anything about my experience on the course! Listen to what your ‘clients’ say and what they need. Don’t run a course right up to the time you have to vacate the building, because then you’ll have time to help people who need it at the end, so they won’t go away and self-harm! Don’t abandon someone just after an ‘abandonment’ or loss – my therapist went to do that two days after I was suicidal from a loss. After I broke down in floods of tears in that appointment, could hardly breathe, and almost had to beg to not be abandoned she offered me one more appointment… four days later.… as if that was any better!! Ridiculous. All so they could tick boxes and ship me out of the factory. Yes I’m still angry about it. I saw another therapist for four sessions to work through issues from the course. But the damage was already done.

 

I had had such hope that I would get help in that appointment after the course. It was disappointing how it went… it left me suicidal – I decided it best to catch a bus the short way home, as it didn’t feel safe walking over a motorway bridge to get home. I finally admitted everything to my family that day, as I was not okay, and didn’t feel at all safe…

 

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I’m not okay. I’m not recovered. I’m not over Matt. But I survived. Surviving it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt… it doesn’t mean I’m okay now… it doesn’t mean it wasn’t the hardest thing I’ve been through. I’m still vividly haunted by it. And in all honesty I need someone I can talk to about it, frankly and without judgement or being told to just move on. The whole experience was traumatic – I can’t forget my incident at therapy. I can’t forget everything I went through, that nobody would know about unless they read this blog. It’s scarred me so much in many ways. My self-harm is out of control as a result of doing that therapy and being abandoned. I’m in immense pain emotionally even to this day, because of the way it was handled, because I was denied the opportunity to heal and because I miss Matt so much. That wound has never healed. It’s still gaping wide open, and the infection of this horrible life has seeped in and destroyed who I once was.

 

I guess in some ways the pain has faded a little bit…. like the scar…. I have an arm full of scars now since doing that course, but I still know exactly which one happened that night. I know which one happened the night I dashed out of there, went home and hurt myself… the first time I had to have one glued. As a self-harmer I don’t remember every single one and what caused it. I’ve done it much too often to remember every one. But something as traumatic as that I would remember.

 

The pain may not be as extreme and impossible to survive as it felt at the time, but it is very deep pain, that nobody gets. They all think I’m over this now, or at least should be. How do they expect me to be over it if I never talk about it? Even writing about this experience here, which I needed to do, I’ve felt like I’m back in those times. I’ve felt the emotions… even felt pain in my arm. I’ve felt urges to say and do things like I did back then. I’ve felt under threat. I’ve felt suicidal again. I had to stop several times writing this post, to remind myself that it’s not happening now. That although it hurts and I’m not over it… it is over. It’s in the past. This self-reassurance isn’t actually of any comfort to me. I have no professional support now. I’m not over my feelings for Matt, and cannot talk to anyone about it. Nothing can help the pain I feel. And it’s not like my life is in a good enough place to say ‘I’m not in that time now’. Because I don’t like the time I AM in. So it’s no comfort to say it’s not happening now, when I’m still wounded from its happening in the first place.

 

I know it took a lot of strength and determination to get through the course to the end. I had times I wanted to quit. I had times people were wishing I would quit. But it couldn’t be for nothing. I had to keep going. I had to find every ounce of strength I had left in me to push me through that course. And I did it. I don’t know if it was the right decision or not. A part of me wishes I never mentioned the transference and just carried on with the course, sitting there thinking ‘Matt is so lovely’, and avoided all the embarrassment, and didn’t start self-harming like I did. Because it’s only spiralled down since then. Part of me wishes that instead of going off and self-harming, I’d gone in, grabbed my stuff, left and never looked back. It would have avoided the attachment growing. It would have avoided the loss. It would have saved gaining a new physical scar for every week of the course, and so many emotional ones too.

 

I have to try and find and hold onto the positives. The strength and determination it took to go there every week. How hard I worked, doing my homework, creating my folder and creating my own homework. Meeting new people who feel the same ways as me, maybe not in exactly the same way, but to know I’m not alone in the things I think and ways I behave. There are many lessons I could take from it. I haven’t given them much thought lately though, as it’s been a mixture of flashbacks, grief, love-sickness and also trying to put it all out of my mind. But it’s something I should consider…

 

 

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This was me six days after my incident at therapy… putting on a brave face, through the pain and the flashbacks. Oddly it’s one of my favourite photos of me that someone else has taken. If nothing else it shows me that I can come through anything, still be strong and smile. I carried on living. I continue now to carry on living. Whilst everything inside me screeches at me to end it. I’m in a worse place now than I was back then, and I don’t really have the strength to smile anymore. Nobody would want to feel how I do at the moment. I wish they could so they’d understand the mess I’m in. It’s not just about this situation – that only plays a part in my current struggles. But it was the start of the accelerated decline in my mental health. Somehow I now just have to hold on long enough, to get to a place where I can start to believe in recovery again. It’s a long way off, and there’s no support in sight for me. But now it’s come to the point of just hanging on, it literally is ‘do or die’.

 

 

 

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Raw Reality Of Transference.

I sometimes film video journals, when the pain of something is too great to keep inside, and writing doesn’t do enough to release it. This is the first of a series I’m likely to do on mental health issues.

 

I felt the knot of emotion in me, and didn’t know what to do with it. So I picked up the camera and hit record, and started talking until it all came out. No script. Just raw emotion. Sorry, it’s not pretty.

 

I just feel there’s a lack of understanding of transference, especially in this country, even among professionals. From my experience I sensed it was not something they were that used to… which when you’re in immense emotional turmoil with it, makes you feel isolated and desperate. They did what they could for me eventually… but it wasn’t enough. At my three month review after being discharged from the IAPT service, I wasn’t even asked about my feelings for Matt. Either they didn’t want to stir it up, they’d forgotten it was an issue, or they honestly thought I’d be over it by then. But they don’t know me. And they don’t understand BPD and attachment. The intensity of it. I’d love to educate these sorts of people on the reality of it all. I think all mental health staff could do with learning by hearing directly, from those affected by certain mental illnesses.

 

I’m actually in the process of making a couple of other videos – they’re in the editing phase… where I speak to the camera as if I’m speaking to them. Matt is one of those I did this with. I felt it was a way to say the things I never got to say to people. It was to try and find my own sense of closure and peace, as I was never given any. Sometimes it feels good just to let it out. Both videos I’m making are based on things I no longer talk about to anyone. That’s a lot of pressure to leave on yourself. I don’t like being on camera – hence my style of just the eyes…. hate my voice too. But sometimes you have to let go of these insecurities and express your feelings vocally. Since I have nobody to do that with, I make these videos.

 

This video below was a spur of the moment decision, as despite having made the other video, speaking to him, it wasn’t enough…. the memories of the course are weighing heavily on me almost a year on now, and I knew it was something I had to open up about. Though the pain is still there, it helped a little to let it out….

 

Here’s the link to my video on YouTube –

Raw Reality Of Transference

 

 

 

 

Poem: Footprints In My Dreams.

Footprints In My Dreams

 

No sight can be seen, so bittersweet
As your footprints in my dreams.
The soothing sound of your footsteps
Walking the labyrinth of my mind all night,
Searching for my weak spots –
Sweet memories, unresolved feelings, desire.
You sing your lullaby straight to my heart
And I fall all over again.
You whisper my name so beautifully,
Caressing my soul with your shy, loveable smile.
You speak of love … with love,
And we both know it’s forbidden
But the truth cannot remain hidden …
I know it,
You know it.
Your affections cannot walk the daily plane of existence;
It can never be in this life,
I have my illness; you have your wife.
But somewhere inside you dwells a seed of a feeling,
An intrigue,
A wish.
For things to have worked out different to this.
You cannot sleep at night
So you stray into the realm of dreams,
Wandering through my mind,
Hoping to find some hope or chance
To share with me, one kiss, one romantic dance,
One single moment to be alone
And make it known
You miss me too.
Dreams of you bring pain,
But only in the waking world –
It’s why I’d sleep forever if I could,
For when I am with you, life is good.
A part of you is with me always,
You’re a treasure locked within my heart.
And as nobody is aware, they can never rip us apart.
Only I can choose to let you go …
I never will.
I adored you once and I love you still.
Come meet me in my dreams,
Each night if you may,
And tell me all the words we never got to say.
As fate has sent us our separate ways,
We now must love in dreams.

Things I Wish You Said.

These are things I wish people had said to me when it mattered…. this can be from friends past and present, family, bullies, men, or anyone who ever crossed my path and left a mark in my life. The impact of these few words would be tremendous for someone like me. So it’s sad that I’ve rarely heard such sentiments. The fact these things most often have gone unsaid has broken me. A series of imperfect people in this imperfect world, neglecting to be kind or help at all with a sense of closure, have left open wounds all over my body and soul. I know life doesn’t always allow us closure…. but from guys disappearing from my life, to friends betraying and hurting me with no remorse, to nobody saying I mattered to them, to leaving it too late to say ‘I love you’ and never being able to hear it back, to being ripped away from someone I was attached to in therapy… it’s all too much. All I’ve ever wanted was ONE person to prove that there can be a good ending in life. After too much of it I put my final faith in therapy, thinking they’d help me do this. They did not. It was a missed opportunity. So I struggle on with life, awaiting the next hurt, the next betrayal, the next loss, knowing I will never hear a single one of the things I need to hear in order to heal….

 

  • I’ll never forget you. I’ll always remember you.
  • Your friendship means / meant a lot to me.
  • I’m glad to have known you.
  • I miss you / I’ll miss you.
  • I’m sorry. What I did was wrong. Please forgive me.
  • I love you.
  • I care about you / worry about you.
  • I value you.
  • You’re special.
  • You’re beautiful.
  • I couldn’t live without you.
  • You’ve give me such lovely memories.
  • I’m flattered you feel that way for me.
  • You deserve better than me.
  • Is there anything you want to say or to ask me?
  • I lied to you. I lied about you. I’m sorry.
  • I was selfish. I’m sorry.
  • I let you down. I’m sorry.
  • You have every right to hate me.
  • I trust you.
  • I admire you.
  • You matter to me.
  • You’re not a burden, and I’ll kick the ass of anyone who makes you think that!
  • Thank you for everything you do and for being you.
  • I believe in you. I have faith in you.
  • I’m proud of you.
  • I have your back.
  • I don’t want to lose you.
  • I’m not going to leave you.
  • Nothing changes how I feel about you.
  • You’re a good person.
  • You mean the world to me.
  • I’m so lucky to have you.
  • I will help you through this. You’ve got me on your side, we’ll do this together.
  • Your feelings matter most to me.
  • I had feelings for you too.
  • I made a mistake.
  • I never wanted to hurt you.
  • Losing you was painful for me.
  • I wish I could undo what I did.
  • You didn’t deserve that.
  • I wish we could have had our chance.
  • I wish I’d met you sooner.
  • You make me happy.
  • I want you to be happy.
  • You deserve to experience love. I hope you’ll find it soon.
  • I understand you.
  • I want to understand you.
  • I want to learn everything about you.
  • Tell me how you’re feeling…
  • It’s okay that you feel that way.
  • You’re not alone.
  • I wish you well.
  • Goodbye.

Six Months Ago To The Day, I See You Again.

 

Six months ago to the day, I said goodbye to you. I walked out that room knowing your life would go on but I’d never see you again. It crushed me. I finally let the other members of the group know what had been eating me up for all those weeks. It was good to unburden myself. Keeping it a secret for so long was so painful and lonely. Yes I was embarrassed, but you can’t help who you have feelings for.

That night was a terrible one. I wanted to die. It was the first time I called and spoke to the Samaritans. I guess the theory was that if I could get through that night then things would gradually get better… that with time I’d forget you existed. I haven’t. I’ve never forgotten. I think of you every day. I tend to be in denial that I’ll never see you again. I escape in my mind sometimes, to a fantasy land where I have you in my life. I even dream of you. Time will never heal the way I feel about you or about this loss.

I was thankful that my therapist didn’t ask me about you today. I didn’t want her to know that I haven’t dealt with or overcome my feelings for you. I didn’t want to have to talk about you, as I knew I’d likely get upset. I don’t talk about you anymore. I’ve locked you up inside. Nobody can get to you there…. nobody can rip you from my heart. It’s enough that you were ripped from my life, but I have to know there’s a place inside me where I can keep my feelings for you. I won’t be told it’s not real. I won’t be told to get over it and move on. This is my heart. These are my feelings, and nobody can take you from my mind. I won’t let them.

After my session I went into the shops… got to the end of an aisle, and as I came out of that aisle, you came into it… a foot to the right and I would literally have bumped into you. I looked at your eyes, then looked away, only to do a double-take as I realised it was you…. but when I looked back towards you, you stared straight ahead. I don’t know if you saw me and chose to avoid me, whether it’s policy to not acknowledge past ‘clients’ out in the world, or whether you just didn’t see or remember me.

It kicked off so many emotions in me. It shocked me. It brought a sense of happiness to me, that I’d seen your face again. Sadness that you hadn’t said hello. Pain, in remembering I’ll never speak to you again. Excitement in wanting to spot you again. Fear and anxiety that I might spot you again. I quickly got what I needed and got out of there. You probably did the same once you saw me. I didn’t see you again.

I’d say it churned up my feelings seeing you again, but they never went away. All it did was make me question if I really did see you, or if it was my mind playing tricks on me, showing me what I wanted to see. I wish I could have at least said hello to you. But the fear of ‘rejection’ got the better of me. I realised I’m a nobody to you. I can’t expect you to remember who I am or how I felt. And perhaps you were relieved six months ago, to never have to see me again. Perhaps seeing me today filled you with dread. It certainly wasn’t expected.

I was going to meet someone and get the train, and I couldn’t wait to get there. It felt too overwhelming, the appointment I’d just had, and then seeing you. I still feel churned up. I did this visualisation thing when I got home, where I ‘unscrew my mind’ and I poured my thoughts, memories and feelings into a jar, took the jar outside and released them in the garden. But who am I kidding? You’re still in there. You never leave. I might be able to forget the unhelpful things said to me in my therapy session, and how they made me feel, but I cannot forget you. Part of me wishes I could get over it as easily as you therapists seem to think people recover… I wish there was a pill I could take to forget I ever met you. But the rest of me doesn’t want to forget you. That part of me wants to remember you, and to be able to slip away into a make-believe land when I choose to, to be with you there. It’s better than the reality of never seeing you again. At least in my imagination I have something to live for.

I still remember that dream of you the other day, where you said if we’d met a few years earlier, then maybe… You kept lurking, talking to people near me. My friend told me you liked me. Funnily enough this dream took place in Sainsbury’s  – I saw you in Sainsbury’s today! Odd coincidence… I had to wake myself up from that dream, even though it was a good dream… I had to groan my way out of it, as though it were a nightmare, because it was heart-breaking that it was only a dream. I became aware it was just a dream and didn’t want it to continue if it wasn’t true….. I was quite upset upon waking up. I wrote it down so I could remember.

I know it’ll make me sound weird, and nobody understands it, but I need to say it… for my own peace of mind….. and to acknowledge how I truly feel…… I miss you. There’s so much more I could say, but let’s leave it at that. I miss you, and it hurts.

 

Always in my heart…
Lily x

Lost In Grief.

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*Names have been changed. May be upsetting as I discuss grief and death*

 

I’ve noticed I’m dealing with my transference issue in the same way as my grief. In that I’m not. I’m not letting the pain in. I realised this the other night when a memory of *James entered my mind, and it hit me like a lorry. I burst into tears and couldn’t get myself under control. It was just such a silly little flash of something… just how he used to sit, talk, smile and laugh – I could see him and hear him, and it was like an emotional dagger plunged into my heart.

But I’ve noticed for a while now I’ve been putting off truly thinking about him. Just like with my granddad, James is always in my thoughts, every moment of every day… I know this isn’t normal by the way… I don’t claim to understand why someone I hardly know holds as much importance to me as my own granddad, but it’s the way it is. Anyway, although they are both in my thoughts, I don’t allow myself to delve into the reality of their loss. It’s almost as if on some level I’m in denial of reality.

With my granddad I accept he’s no longer here – I can’t see him, hear him or hold his hand. But I try not to let in the whole truth… to try to shield myself from the pain. If I think about all we went through with the hospital, nearly losing him; the change in him mentally afterwards; the months of watching him waste away; saying goodbye; the day he died – all the grief of that day; his body leaving the house; the funeral; never seeing him sat in his chair again; never being able to ask him anything or tell him anything; not seeing his nose crinkle up in a smile; not having him insist I have a biscuit; not having him worry; not hearing his stories; knowing my nan has lost her life partner; knowing he won’t be at my wedding nor see me have children; knowing he’ll never see me be happy…….. if I let all that in, you’d have to scrape me off the floor. Just writing this paragraph has left me in tears. But I’m still trying to keep it all held at a distance. The reality is I never pictured a world where I didn’t have my grandparents. This was my first loss that’s affected me deeply. Now the world feels unsafe. It feels uncertain. I spent so many years being prepared that one day they wouldn’t be here anymore… I never thought that ‘one day’ would ever come. He should be here. I wish he was here.

Sorry, I’m getting upset again, because I’m having flashes of feelings and memories like I had the other night with James, where I can hear my granddad’s voice in my head, I can see him. It’s the good memories that kill us.

But one thing that still haunts me, is the last time I saw him, as himself, before he was hospitalised, whilst he was lucid, and I went to say bye to him before going home, there was a moment where we just looked at each other, and it felt like we were communicating ‘I love you’ to each other, but I couldn’t say it, because I have such issues with saying those words to anyone. And he didn’t say it, but I felt as though it was silently said. That haunted me because I then didn’t see him for a while, and the next time I did, I was in a hospital, holding his hand, effectively saying goodbye to him. Everyone had given up hope, but I would tell him to keep on fighting. And sure enough he did. The hospital had stopped treatment, but his own body fought back and kept him alive. But he didn’t recall anything that had happened. He didn’t know what we’d all been through, nearly losing him. He wasn’t himself after that. He was distant… frail. He would live out the remainder of his days in bed at home. Until almost a year ago when he went downhill, and we knew the end was coming. One night, I think it was a Monday we went to see him, and I went upstairs, closed the door, turned off the monitor so nobody could hear me, and I stroked his head and told him everything I wish I could have told him in life… everything he deserved to hear. But I had waited too long, because no matter how much I told him how much I loved him, he couldn’t say it back. I don’t even know if he heard me. His breathing was shallow, his cheeks were hollow, and his eyes wouldn’t close fully… but he was unresponsive. Seeing him like that scarred me. In less than a year he had gone from the man I shared that silent moment with, to this. I still remember saying goodbye for the last time… knowing it was the last time. Every other time I had said goodbye I followed it up with ‘I’ll see you again soon’…. I didn’t that time. That time it was simply goodbye. I walked out of the dimly lit room, partially closing the door, looked back one last time, knowing I would never see him again. (The next day my parents would do the same, and the following day, the Wednesday, he passed away with my nan and aunty by his side… I still remember getting the phone call just after it happened…) It’s odd, because at the time I don’t recall being too emotional about saying goodbye. I think I wanted to be strong for everyone, so didn’t let my emotions show. Also it didn’t feel real. It was a new experience for me. It’s only thinking back on it now, that it leaves me sobbing into a pillow like I just did.

But this is what happens. I don’t deal with the pain and sadness. I don’t let it out, because I never fully let it in. And then one little random thought will set me off without warning. And this is how I’m dealing with my grief for him, but also for James. I was in pieces to begin with, for weeks. I wouldn’t stop crying. I was harming myself. And as I started getting support for it, I shoved the thoughts and feelings away. I didn’t let them close enough to hurt me. Some might see that as a good thing. I see it as bunging it all under the rug for now. I don’t know the alternative.

All I know, or rather can assume from self-analysis, is that I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to my granddad. I had a certain build-up, knowing the end was coming and I would have to lose him. I had a chance to say goodbye, which many people don’t get, but it was too late to hear anything back that may have helped me. I will never see him again. James… I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to him. There was the build-up towards the end of the course, so I knew that I was going to lose him. I had a chance to say goodbye at the end of the course, but I didn’t say it properly, and I didn’t say thank you to him, as I was too emotional about the loss, so just left. I could have done with a closure in the form of being wished well personally, after the trauma of the course, but circumstances don’t allow for that. So I couldn’t hear anything that might help me. And I will never see James again… ever ….. I face the rest of my days without both of them… two men I admired so much, wasn’t ready to say goodbye to, but had ripped away from me. And I don’t know how to cope with that.

Two losses, both feeling the same, in the same year. I know it sounds wrong, but I’ve said on several occasions that losing James feels worse than losing my granddad, for a few reasons –

  1. I had years with my granddad. I had hours with James. I didn’t have long enough with him.
  2. I’m the only one to feel this pain. When losing my granddad, the whole family felt it and understood it. This is only my burden to carry.
  3. We didn’t have any kind of relationship to legitimately mourn.
  4. But worst of all…. James continues to live.

I can do nothing about the fact my granddad has gone. There is no way to bring him back. I don’t have another option. He’s gone. I can believe he’s watching over me. But with James, he’s long forgotten who I am. He’s carried on with his life, he has his own personal happiness, I’m just a number to him, and I have to keep on living knowing he’s out there still. It is so hard to mourn the loss of someone still living. Because it feels like something that doesn’t have to BE. I have to accept a death. But a part of me still fights reality that James cannot be in my life…. it feels like there’s a choice. And while he’s not dead, and I don’t have to accept eternity without him, why do I have to choose/accept eternity without him?? I will never do anything about this way of thinking, but I’m just saying it causes conflict in my head, that he’s still here, and in that way it feels like the loss is being INFLICTED on me, against my will.

I know that death feels like that too. But death is a fact of life. It’s what happens, hopefully at the end of a long well-lived life, if we’re fortunate. My granddad was 90 when he passed away. I guess you could say it was his time. I wish it wasn’t. But with James, he hasn’t died, but I have to live my life as though he has. I find that incredibly hard to do. It’s the same feelings – that I’ll never see him again. It’s beyond my control. I feel powerless. Whilst my granddad may be watching over me, James isn’t. He’s about my age, and living his life. He’s not and never will be watching over me! Simply forgetting me. That makes it even more painful, to know I’m that irrelevant, and I feel so emotionally attached to him, to this degree, not understanding what the hell is wrong with me. So I have this replica of grief with no comfort in the fact that James will be watching over me. With no hope of being reunited with him in a better place after this life. With no personal memories to hold on to like I did with my granddad. With no shared stories from other people. With no pictures. With nothing. Just my memory. This is grief multiplied. It makes no sense whatsoever, and that makes me feel even worse, like I’m a weirdo and an idiot.

Nobody understands it. I don’t understand it. I just know how painfully real it feels. How sickening and devastating it is for me. I’ve never felt something like this before. I’ve never experienced such an intense emotion that makes no logical sense to anyone, that in some way terrifies me, isolates me, and destroys me inside.

I don’t want to do life. And anytime I say things like that, I feel nobody gets it. Nobody would ever understand why losing James makes me not want to do life. I didn’t ‘love him’ they’ll say. They’ll tell me it’s not real. They’ll tell me it was unrequited, as if I actually thought I stood a chance. They’ll tell me to find someone else, but they don’t realise this is more complex than that. This is not about me being with James. This is about never seeing him again. Just the other day I was disturbed to experience jealousy… of his baby. I wasn’t wishing to trade places with his wife. I was wanting in that moment to trade places with his baby, because that is one lucky baby… whether he/she likes it or not, they will have James in their life forever… they’re family. He will always be there for them. He will protect them and love them, comfort them and dedicate his life to them. They’re lucky… that the only way they’ll lose him is when his time comes. And then he’ll watch over them. Do you know how utterly messed up I feel, that when I first met James I was physically attracted to him….. I grew to like him in a different way…. this morphed into a feeling of love and attachment …. and has ended up with me wishing I was his baby… that he would be my father, so that I wouldn’t have to lose him from my life against my will. This is so messed up!!! 

I don’t know if this is some kind of a mash-up between losing my granddad, and all the losses I’ve had in life, of people I didn’t want to lose – friends, guys etc. I’ve had one guy I didn’t want to live without, but he was a dick, to put it bluntly. I had a ‘nice guy’ as a friend, and lost him to a ‘best friend’ who stabbed me in the back. It took me a while to come to terms with that, as that felt like it was against my will. But now I pretend these people are dead to me. I don’t know how to cope with loss any other way. I have to pretend it’s eternal and was beyond my power to choose… beyond the power of those people to choose to leave me. Or I have to hate them. It’s going to take a lot for me to come up with reasons to hate James. I don’t want to pretend he’s dead. I can’t. He’s very much alive in my head. I can’t escape reality. But I keep fighting it.

So I think I’m in the ‘bargaining’ stage of grief. ‘Depression’ being the other I’m experiencing, hence not wanting to live life anymore. I know I can use a bereavement service for my grief about my granddad, but who on this planet can help me with grief from losing someone like James? It’s not even like I can say it’s a break-up… it’s nothing like that. I don’t even know what you’d classify it as! So how anyone can help me with it, I really don’t know. I just wish someone out there truly understood what I’m experiencing…. so they could tell ME… because I haven’t the foggiest. I feel like a freak. I feel beyond help.

Do I just grieve for him like I do with my granddad? It feels like a disservice to my granddad, that I would grieve the same for someone I spent a total of 24 hours with! Simple fact is I don’t want to grieve, I want it to not be this way. But then I know that’s the ‘bargaining’ bit… the ‘denial’. Which I guess shows I AM already grieving for him. I just can’t take any more loss. But I’m slowly learning that life is loss. Life is pain. Life is hard. And right now I really don’t want to partake in any of it. Nothing could make this right. I just want to take a pill, fall asleep for a very long time, have a break from the world, and wake up with no memory of any of this hurt…. no attachment to anyone I’ve lost… no ties to my past, and only hope for my future. Life feels bleak right now. And I wish I’d never gone for help last year. It backfired spectacularly. Now I’ve got double the problem. No wonder I want to give up. It was bad enough this time a year ago…