Poetry Corner – The Real Me

Sometimes you forget
Sometimes you believe
Sometimes you don’t pretend
You are not who you are
Not make believe or fantasy

You believe the empty words
The things they say because they should
Because they should be kind
They are the encouraging sort

Some days I forget they expect me to fail
Some days I believe their belief is real
Some days I am not pretending, it’s not an act

But then I see what is real
And I carry on, no big deal

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Monday Night Reflection: Slow Boat or Express Train

I do make a point of writing my Monday Night Reflection as close to real time as possible and today is a case in point. Today I got news that following my twenty minute EEG, which was, of course, a downgrade from the ambulatory EEG originally ordered, I have after an administrative delay, being booked for a three-day ambulatory EEG after all. This suggests that the short EEG was not good enough to show me the door.

This is significant because I have felt that my recovery has been very much more slow boat than express train and that I have significant skills deficits that are not really coming back in the area of motor skills, something showing up in my typing error statistics which are up over 500%, if ever there was a measure that a skill was a bit affected. Although thanks to Grammarly, it would appear my writing vocabulary is largely unaffected, those who know me have noted that I still lisp, slur, stammer and have vocal issues previously not present and that my memory defects are noticeable, especially when I get tired.

So while I am no fan of a reflection heavily medical in focus, it is difficult because I am two people. The person I can talk about and the person I can not talk about too much; and at this present moment the person I can not talk about a lot is driving and in charge, it is a very important week, it is probably the most important week of my year in that life. This upcoming weekend being the most important weekend of the year for that life; without melodrama what happens will determine the rest of my year, where I go, what I do. So, rather unsurprisingly, the combination of my motor skill issues which massively impact that life, my problems writing, which are my other life, and my recovery which is all my life have given me what is, in the day to day, a very quiet life as I have had an extraordinary narrow focus as we as a team, been focussed on this one goal and getting through it.

It is partly frustrating that I have to separate lives, but it is a necessity, after all, I lost the battle for public identity to my abuser and this blog is for all those who like me lost that battle and have to find their voice. Because, I made it back, in that life although I am a long way from where I was, I am still on course to make my year-end goal, and I am still processing that. It is hard to reflect on anything else, it is dominating my physical and mental landscape that I left hospital first week in April will partial paralysis and speech issues not knowing when the next attack would be, the longest I have gone is 6 days without any sort of attack, yet despite all the issues and challenges, I am 6 days from being a competitive athlete again; taking my first step on the road to a World Championships where I am likely to be considered a legitimate contender.

How do you think about anything else, whatever challenges I face today, and I hurt, and I ache and my motor skills are awful, my coordination is woeful, the fact that is a sentence that is possible does not seem like it is real life. Yet, it’s my life, and I could very possibly be writing a Hollywood ending in my own little life.

So apologies, it’s not about Mr Mouse, it’s about Me, but not about me because my abuser is out there and she would ruin everything with her lies, so I don’t want fame or to be famous, so it’s not a big sport that gets into newspapers or internet headlines. The Mouse and I will tell our story together because it is our journey together, from the abuse of childhood and being held back for years by first an abusive parent and then abusive wife who would both sabotage or make me give up my dreams, telling me I was selfish to the wife who did more than just give permission, but who did what it took to put their wrong right.

Success may be a slow boat, it can be an express train, but it is never our own story, it takes people to help us, support us, open doors, believe in us and hold us up; every cliche about teamwork making the dream work is made real every time we come together and help someone even just a little bit.

After this week I am taking some time off everything, and I have been working on some poems to publish, I have to photography trips planned and my car will hopefully be fixed soon so I can make those, so gradually I am getting back to my normal. While hopefully, I can draw my line and Mr Mouse can create again; Mr Mouse is committed to a book called Squeeking At the Top of My Voice sometime late in 2018, I am really excited at what he has planned.

Dear Diary: 20th February 2017

Don’t stroke the Mouse!

Mouse was rushed into hospital last Tuesday with a suspected stroke.

Nearly a week later all we can say for definite is that Thursday night his brain showed no sign of damage.

20 stroke like episodes later Mouse can barely move his left side or speak.

His NHS experience is far from positive but with every reason to be down my brave Mouse is still upbeat and planning new projects for when he finally comes home.

Mrs Mouse

Poetry Corner: Regent

With heavy heart and weary soul
My thoughts turned to that cliché
I think of the people who will never know
The truth that haunts me now

The kind, the gentle and warm hearted
Generous of all they gave
I arrived rejected, bitter and weary
Never accepted, never one and all

You took me in and did not judge
Showed me love by your own choice
Let me grow and see the light
No more outside, family you became

I cannot say thank you for it all
No chance to tell you that I did well
The record is not straight
And the truth not seen the day

I must act as if the shame is real
Stay away, no door to darken
The past that is not mine
My present haunts once more

My eyes they leak to think
What you must think of me
I cannot judge nor blame
Were it true I would hate me too

My happiness forever  that shadow casts
A family I can no longer share
Perhaps the day will pass
Once more I am welcome there.

I am Strong and Courageous

 

strong-and-courageous
Created using an Imperial War Finish Typewriter: A Postive Affirmation for Everyday.

 

 

Sertraline and me

Sertraline is an SSRI, commonly this class of medication is used to treat depression, this one is also used to treat anxiety. For much of my life, I have taken medication, my experience has varied between somewhat of a train wreck to quite helpful. The worst was carbamazepine, which turned my intelligence to mush. I knew I should be able to do things, but I couldn’t. I was frustrating, and as I have later found out, it could never have helped me because it was not my moods that were unstable – many abuse victims will be labelled bipolar because their abuser manipulates them, convinces them that they have the problem and so by way of explanation you have to have a mental health problem to feel the way you do.

It is vicious, you believe this person loves you, you believe they want the best for you, and so when manipulated and controlled they tell you what reality is, and you believe them. Isolated and without external references to contradict their view, along with other tactics, you believe you are mentally ill. You accept the label because the label gives you a framework with which to explain what is happening. Violence is much easier to see as abuse, but emotional control changes you, and you become complicit in your own abuse without knowing it because you are trying to make sense of the world with the wrong information. You explain you experience, and you explain it internally because that has to be true, it also fits nicely into the amorphous belief that you are a bad person, that an abuser leads you to believe.

Sertraline came much more recently, once out of the relationship, things got worse. It was not depression that struck, instead fear. People tried to hide from me what my ex was doing, this made things worse, because while using the internet, social media, and other means, even emailing where I used to get my hair cut, warning them about “I was really like”, I felt even more vulnerable and alone. I found myself trapped once again, scared, not of one person, but of everyone. At this point, I was scared of going outside, although she knew where I lived, I did feel safer in my house, with her bail conditions keeping her off my street, my broken glass was a constant reminder of course. I began to think uncontrollably about death, it dominated my thoughts. I would wake up from nightmares drenched and screaming: “I don’t want to die”. Which is where sertraline came in. Just 50mg a day, and within 2 weeks the nightmares went, the overwhelming fears withdrew. I would still have anxiety attacks, which had plagued me for years, but they lost their sting and technically were no longer full anxiety or panic attacks lacking the right number of diagnostic criteria by 1 item, this was, for me, a massive breakthrough, and I coped so much better.

Sertraline scares me, it has been a few years now, and I have like most forgotten a few doses. And miss 3 days and the nightmares are back, the fear is back, the comfort with never leaving the house is back, the thoughts of death are back. I can talk myself out of the situations, but on the drug, there are no thoughts, there is no need for coping. On the medication, no one would suspect I have any anxiety at all, except those who could see the exhaustion of it all. This drug changes my very thoughts. Imagine, going cold, sweaty, trembling, feeling overwhelming dread to paralysis, unable to watch anything where someone dies without floods of tears, and emotional engagement (comedy seemed worse somehow), or hear a talk that mentions death, let alone be in a Church – and 3 days later be unfazed, normal in your reactions, physical and emotional. Am I an addict?

A drug changes what I think; if it is changing my thoughts, it changes my beliefs, and how I relate to the world; how is this drug changing me as a person, what is long term use doing to me. I know what it is like without it, I recently tried a slow taper off and boom, right back. Even though in that time, I am very different, the stranglehold of the past is not even a grip now, it is more the marks, scars and wounds, the emotional limps left from the damage that is slowly being healed. I am certainly a prisoner of the past in so far as contact with my children requires. Dare I say, I am very much moved on, it might be slightly damaged goods that are moved on, but moved on they are. In a new town, with new people, the people of my old town left behind by their choice, in touch with friends again and making new ones, new job, new hobbies, a new wife that is understanding and supportive.

Luckily thanks to sertraline, thoughts of fear do not consume me; I am concerned about the long-term effects on me, my thoughts, beliefs as well as the physical implications of long-term use, given what we do not know pharmaceutically speaking. I also wonder, is this the grip of the past that will never go?

My Faith and Suicide

Before you read any further, if you are looking for a Bible referenced theological piece, this most certainly is not it. This is one man’s experience, it is not about sympathy; the past is done with, instead it is the hope of understanding for others. I am fairly sure no one sets out in life wanting to be able to write an article about the time they took an overdose and how their faith impacted on that decision, and I certainly would never want anyone else to be able to write it either. So here goes.

On the outside, I had everything going for me, the Christian life ideal, not a perfect life, but one many aspire too. I had enough trappings of worldly success to be comfortable without so many we appeared overly materialistic. I had my own business, we went on day’s out in summer, we could give pretty generously. Inside I cried daily, I would sit in the quiet and wonder why I was not allowed to be happy, I felt broken, worthless and unworthy; a walking fraud. I immersed myself in positive literature and self help material, looked to focus on the journey, embrace the grind and looked at Biblical figures. I took advice from elders and my pastor. Inside I felt I was failing, my work meant I was working a lot, which made me a bad father missing great chunks of my children’s lives, a bad husband because I could not be there, a bad person because I could not really fulfil any practical contribution either. I was told to love my way through it, I pretty much came to know verses about the responsibilities and duties of a husband off by heart. The more I learned about my role, the more I came to feel I was a failure. Time with my wife was dominated by all the things I had not done, the things I had missed, the emotional support I had not given. A birthday trip to Paris for the weekend for my wife became an illustration of how I did not get it, my extravagance, wastefulness and lack of appreciation for other people, their commitments and feelings. I remember pulling up a the hotel (in my enthusiasm I booked a 4 star suite) and dreading the reaction, silent treatment was actually a blessing.

Daily, I felt, further and further away from being a success, and more I came to feel excluded from my own life. I knew, oh so well, my failings, failures and shortcomings, and somewhere I stopped believing that happiness was around the next corner. I was a failure, life hurt. There was no redemption, no making it up, when I hurt, I knew I deserved it, the solution to simply  “man up” and deal with it.

Which is, of course, where Jesus, comes in. This is supposed to be the bit where I tell you that I rediscovered Jesus, my faith grew and I turned it around in his name relying on God for Grace. If only that was true. Instead, I read about salvation and grace and how Jesus paid the price, his intercession, about wiping our tears away. If heaven is a better place, and this is all true, then if death has lost its sting, it is okay to take the pain away. The thought of a day without the torment started to dominate my waking thoughts. I knew I could not talk about it, no one had understood so far, and “everyone knows” that suicidal talk is just attention seeking, it is selfish, and think of the children. I was, I could not bear another day failing them as well as everyone else. If their father was their role model, like every book and advice says, then they were learning to be failures and life’s losers. Suicide would put one last piece and draw a line, and dead at least I was supposed not to be there. What about your wife; I knew what a burden I was, I knew that in her eyes I had “made myself unattractive”, I knew a lot, except her touch in tenderness not anger.

Literally, there was a saviour and salvation, an end and a new beginning. Who would lose, I would no longer be lonely in a cacophony of sound, my tears would be wiped away, I would no longer hurt, physically or emotionally, I would no longer endure days. I believed that should I live, at least the crisis services would sweep in, I would get a day off in hospital at the very least, maybe there would be someone who would understand somewhere, I clung to two hopes in the three outcomes. If I died I would accept my salvation and no more tears, if I lived I would get help; secretly i knew if i lived it would make things worse.

I rolled my dice, I passed out, I woke up chewing at my line, discharged with the blood pressure cuff still attached. The hospital had apparently assessed me and said I was ok, the community team said I could not be assessed but when they did, I was ok. I have no idea either of these happened. No one swept in, within days, it was not as if nothing had happened, it was worse. To the world I had a dose of food poisoning and dehydration. Behind closed doors the piper required payment. Inside I wanted to feel dead, I encouraged numb but it never came, instead I was alone and forsaken.