Saturday, 31 October 2009

Ice -olation

The other evening, I hurt someone to hurt myself.

Now, I'm sitting on an iceberg, wrapped in razor wire, in the middle of a half frozen sea.
If I move, the wire sinks deeper in and anyone who comes close will be shredded.

Writing this, I'm wondering whether I am perhaps, waiting until my flesh is so frozen that I can no longer feel.

I can't believe I hurt someone else so much.

Friday, 30 October 2009

What I Dont Know About Anorexia

I want to try to finish what I began in the post My Sister - Anorexia Here, I established that having shared living space with anorexia, there really is very little that I don't know about it.

Seeming to be either too clinical or too compassionate, I have rarely read anything about Anorexia. In the very early stages of my sister's illness, I may have read leaflets of the kind you find in doctors' waiting rooms, but these were as far as my research went.
At 14 and with a family desperately in denial about what was happening, knowledge was not welcomed.
In fact, the only thing welcomed was a refusal to believe that this "finicky eating" was anything more than just "a phase".
I never believed it no matter how many times I was slapped or shouted down, and by the time they came round to it, it was far too late.
In my sister's case, I don't honestly believe that there was a point when it wasn't too late. But that's another post.

I digress.

Ignoring the title of this post (focus girl - focus), I DO know that the stats for anorexia make pretty grim reading.
Up to 20% of anorexics will die of complications caused by their illness. That gives the illness one of the highest mortality rates of any psychiatric illness.
Although the figures vary depending on who is publishing them, it is estimated that only about 60% of anorexics will make a "full recovery" (I'm skeptical). Of the remaining 40%, half of those will make a partial recovery although they will struggle with eating for the rest of their lives, and the remaining 20% will be unable to shake the illness and will remain seriously underweight and in and out of hospitals and clinics for as long as their bodies allow.

You can guess which percentile my sister falls into.

I also know that although again, the figure varies, it is often estimated that roughly 10% of all anorexics are male.
I would suggest that society will see this a sharp rise in the incidence of males with eating disorders. I have been watching the 'emo' culture closely and observe a worrying trend towards a blurring... a diluting, of sexuality.
(Again, another post).

So... I digress again... Perhaps to avoid...

Referring once more to the title of this post... What I DON'T know, is how, after living in the grotesquely monster like shadow of this illness for so many years, and after having been forced to witness the gaunt fear on the faces of my loved ones... (and for all the words in the English language, I will never be able to describe the agony that has etched itself on my family as they have watched so helplessly) HOW it is that I too, seem to have made this illness my ally.
It feels harsh to say that I have chosen it when I can't begin to work out how it is that this has come about; but my own locus of control won't allow me to say that I have merely "fallen prey" to it.

This is a long one and I still haven't got close to what I want to say.

Monday, 26 October 2009

In My Defence

The last post I wrote here was a very hard one for me.
Discussing my sister, trying to capture even a snapshot of the past, feels like a very hollow endeavour. It's as though language was not really created for such depths of pain...
I realise, with a large degree of shame, how melodramatic that sounds... Almost as though to imagine or to admit that anything over superficial pain / suffering is a form of arrogance, worthy only of disgust or dismissal.
I also realise that admitting to suffering leaves me open to the thing I fear the most, which is being branded as someone who has a 'victim' mentality, deemed 'pathetic' or known for showing a lack of resilience.

All this in mind, I feel the need to defend myself against the potential judgements that might be made by asserting that:

1. I do not talk about my family or my sister's illness to anyone.
2. Outside of family and a few old friends, nobody would dream that I struggle with life in any way.
I am regarded as a person who is wise, self aware, stable, grounded... whichever of those kind of terms you use, I'm it.

So... Don't go thinking that I'm some rather weak, pathetic, hapless little creature who bathes in soft self pity and then wraps themselves up in the fluffy words of whoever wants to listen.
I'm not.
Nothing inspires greater disgust in me.

It has been a huge fear of mine that, in writing this blog, in writing about the things that have impacted me, blown me apart, people will judge me to be something repulsively feeble. Now that I come to begin to write about what has been, I feel that fear all the more acutely.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

My Sister - Anorexia.

I've been looking at some stuff to try to help me make sense of what is going on... I suppose in some ways I want to give a part of me a voice without having to go through the agony of trying to find the words.
I feel like I have spent a lifetime doing that in some respects. Music... I have spent my whole life looking for a song that will somehow sing me... There's no such thing of course.
"Write your own then", I hear you say. But, it's not like I haven't tried. It's just that words slip into obscurity when I try to gather them.


There's not a lot I don't know about it.
I've sat and watched it devour my sister for over seventeen years.
I've watched it's grotesque form gnaw at her from the inside out and then superimpose itself onto her once beautiful body.
I've watched her scream into her bones as they become more and more hollow. Her shoulders, a branch from which the rest of her hangs.
I've seen her eyes sink deeper, the cage of bones around her cheeks protruding sharply, her chin just a point. I've watched her face become a skull, her skin stretched like canvas.
I've showered in the bath blocked by chunks of her broken hair.
I've cleaned my teeth in the washbasin blocked by the food she used to have to eat.
I've existed next to her tortured screaming and ranting. Her desperate sobbing. Her silent streaming tears.
I've watched her punching and kicking my parents as she has been dragged screaming into ambulances and cars to take her to hospital.
I've turned from her retching as she pulls out NG tubes and rips out cannula's.

I've watched her turn into someone I no longer know.
I have loved her as I thought I could never love anyone and I have hated her and longed to beat and bruise every inch of her fragile body.
And all this...
All this doesn't even begin to describe anything.

What I am left with however, is absolutely nothing.

I don't feel a thing for her.
Not a thing.
3 stone or 7, I don't feel anything... except maybe, a sort of brokenness somewhere too deep to mend.

Given all this.
I should know better.
But apparently, I don't.

I started this post because I found an article I wanted to write about.
I wanted to explain something about myself that I feel is almost incomprehensible.
My sister is relevant but it is my own recent struggle I was going to write about.

Perhaps another time though.

I'll leave it at, 'there isn't much I don't know about anorexia'.
Just for now.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Silence is...

... not really golden at all.

It's too hard to write here right now.
I WANT to.
But I feel too exposed as it is.

I'm on a rollercoaster at the moment.
Ever watched Final Destination?

Thursday, 22 October 2009


Feeling as I do right now, it is neither wise nor advisable to be writing here. However, I need to say something in order to puncture my own silence and thus make it a little easier to come back when my words are going to come out bearing some semblance of order.

Sometimes it feels as though I am surrounded by a force field that will only allow people to get within a certain radius. Any closer, and they become a risk. One which I find so frightening.

Yet, it's not others who are the risk... It is me. It is the way I will feel or react. It is the terrible prospect that I will accept something that should be unacceptable.

My therapist (unaffectionately referred to as 'the woman') feels miles and miles away from me, particuarly when we are sitting in the same room.
Today somebody told me that it is not she who is far away, it's me.

Projection - The name of this phenomenon.
I feel something so strongly that I imagine that the therapist is feeling that way. (Please correct me if I'm wrong)
So, because I am bent double with the frustration at my own attitude ad behvoiurs, I assume that it is in fact HER feeling the frustration and anger.

If I feel that she can't ever help me and that she feels at a loss as to what to do with me, then, the theory of projection propounds that it is in fact, ME who is feeling those things about myself, not her.


I'm in a difficult situation.

Does projection rule out the possibility that perhaps she really DOESN'T know how to help me? Does it mean that there is no longer such a thing as an objective reality?

I am ovewhelmed by both my options.

1. To keep going to see her.

2. To give up.

Both seems to lead to the same barren place.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Still Breathing.

Kind people have suggested that sometimes it's important to just stay breathing and it reminded me of this song which was on the last album released by Lifehouse, a Christian band who, despite that fact, are very good.
- Apologies offered for (not wholly unfair) prejudice.

Depression is like a magnet which locks onto you and drags everything 'living' out of you.
Sometimes, barely breathing is as much as you can manage.

The Broken clock is a comfort
It helps me sleep tonight
Maybe it can stop tomorrow
From steeling all my time
And I am here still waiting
Though I still have my doubts
I am damaged at best
Like you've already figured out

I'm falling apart
I'm barely breathing
With a broken heart
That's still beating
In the pain
There is healing
In your name
I find meaning
So I'm holding on (I'm holdin on)(I'm holdin on)
I'm barely holding on to you

Saturday, 17 October 2009

The End.

I dont think I will ever see my therapist again.

I feel utterly hopeless and just cannot see any point in anything.

This is not what people want to read. I'm aware of that.
In one sense, I'm angry with myself for appearing to be so lame. In another, I'm furious with the world for wanting me to live behind such a convincing act, wearing the mask with the fixed grin when the insides pulse with black and bloody clots.

Behind the mask, I'm on the offensive. I'm reactive.
If someone seems frustrated or angry with me, despite the fact that logic tells me that it may just be my perception, I will turn to the blade for punishment.
Because I will hurt me more than you could ever hurt me.
I am the only person who has the right to abuse me.
My mantra from days when i was a lot more ill than I am now.
Tonight I want to wear my skin as red gingham.
Claw at the silent, unfeeling flesh until it screams in long red streaks and white subcutaneous fat.

Platitudes, positive mental attitides, slogans, cliches, cognitive challenges, kindness, gentle words, listening, empathy...
They amount to nothing.

In the face of their own hopelessness, people meet despair. In the face of another's, people find anger and disgust.

My walls, bejewelled wth cut glass, crowned with razor wire, offer poor protection against the ghosts of shame and disgust who swoop to whisper that nobody knows and nobody will ever know.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

The Joys Of Disorganised Attachment.

A few weeks ago my therapist noted that I had a very disorganised attachment pattern.
At the time, I wasn’t the least interested in what she was saying and put it down to just the usual psycho mumbo jumbo that abounds in that particular sphere.
I have blogged about this before. It’s the second or third time she has mentioned it in passing. I’d love to have the ... whatever it takes...(guts perhaps?) to have asked her what she meant but at the moment, for reasons that are, quite churlishly, sticking their fingers up whilst urinating up the wall of the logical corner of my brain, I feel as though her kindness is a poisonous solution being drip fed into me. Hence, no questioning the therapist.
However, alone I crumble. And so again, I knelt at the font of Google in search of answers.
What IS a disorganised attachment? And for that matter, what the hell IS attachment? (I saw dozens of brand new Dysons being showcased and demonstrated by men with very white teeth (not sure where that came from) each displaying a technologically ingenious array of attachments).
Anyway. Turned out it has nothing to do with hoovers.
In brief, and I’m not remotely up on psychological theories so, if you know better, feel free to correct me...
There are all different types of attachment but they all concern the relationship between a child and its caregiver (often the mother).
A secure attachment appears to be th 'ideal'. The child's world is hunky dory because the mother is attentive to her baby's needs therefore allowing the child to build a healthy dependency, sense of security and protection.
With me?
Ok. In all honesty...? How many people get that.

The following is information I found on a Canadian website called AboutKidsHealth
Disorganized/disoriented attachment
There is a group of children (15-20%) who do not fit into Ainsworth’s original three-category scheme. Mary Main, another influential attachment researcher, added a fourth category to include these children.
Whereas children in the 3 primary attachment groups have organized strategies for dealing with arousal, disorganized children either lack an organized pattern to their behavior or have strategies that repeatedly break down. When stressed, in the presence of their caregiver, these children appear disorganized or disoriented displaying unusual behaviors such as approaching the caregiver with their head averted, trance-like freezing, or strange postures. These behaviors have been interpreted as evidence of fear or confusion with respect to the caregiver. Disorganization is considered an extreme form of insecurity.
Many children who fall into the disorganized category have experienced some form of maltreatment or have a parent who has been traumatized by severe loss. Other stressful situations involving reorganization of the family such as family moves or the birth of another child may also temporarily disorganize attachment patterns in a child.
The unusual behavior of the disorganized child is more difficult to understand even when considered from the child’s perspective. Many children with disorganized attachment patterns have been subjected to highly stressful, chaotic, and frightening environments.

So basically, pretty much anything could create a disorganised attachment. What interested me though was this...
Disorganized attachment sometimes occurs following extreme loss on the part of a parent. Researchers speculate that parents who are unable to recover from tragic losses (e.g. death of their own parent, abuse by a parent) subtly communicate a sense of anxiety and fearfulness to their child. This situation is highly disorganizing to the infant because the person who is supposed to be a source of comfort is also a source of fright and anxiety. Faced with this impossible situation, the child’s attempts at an organized strategy break down.

My mother lost her mum as a young child. Sent away to a boarding school within a year, she never got over the loss.
As a very small child, I remember her father as a stern but formidable old man who wore beige cardigans and smelled of cigars. The unresolved loss of her mother must have near killed her when he died.
Then, her most treasured sister died.
I was about 5.
I have an unaturally bad memory. 1 gig at most. I jest but I have considered the possibility of early onset dementia. You laugh, but you don't know just how much of a black hole so much of my mind is.
Children who show disorganized patterns of attachment in the Strange Situation Paradigm at one year of age have the greatest risk of aggressive behaviour, conduct disorder, and dissociative behaviours later in life. Dissociative behaviours involve a breakdown in a person’s perception of his or her surroundings, memory, identity, or consciousness.

The point I was making (before I rudely interrupted myself with a quote) was that although I remmeber nothing, my younger sister remembers my mum crying every day for a long, long time.
I don't know.
This disorganised pattern begins to look... Well... I won't say convincing because my layers of cynicism are not THAT easily pierced, but.

I could go on but I won't. It'll be another post.
Given that I have been attempting to articulate this post for over a week now, it is fair to say that I am finding it a real battle to allow myself to make anything too concrete or 'real'.
This whole journey is proving to be a lot harder than I thought, and for different reasons.
When I started out, I never figured that I would be my biggest obstacle.

Friday, 9 October 2009

This Week...

AGAIN, I have so much to say and yet so few words.
This is becoming something of a norm for me.

Last few therapy sessions have been reasonably gentle in response to a terrible session last Friday in which I actually thought my insides were going to cave in and I would implode.

Wednesday left me reeling after I had a really bad panic attack in the hairdressers and had to leave with soaking wet hair.

This weekend, I hope, will afford me a little time to put myself back together a little and to collect my thoughts and maybe try and get some down.

I'm finding it hard to write for a number of reasons. Mainly a reluctance that is borne out of fear but also just out of a general inabiltiy to express.

Monday, 5 October 2009

I Need Something

Newton Faulkner says it so well.

I need something to believe in
Cos I don't believe in myself
I'm sick and tired of getting nowhere
Guess it'll all work out

Friday, 2 October 2009

Hopelessness, My Disease.

I'd been psyching myself up to write something positive, or at the very least, poetic, but tonight I am faced with the profoundly disquieting aftermath of a Friday evening therapy session and it feels a though a storm has raged through my being and left me for dead.

I wish I had words to describe the despair that lies on the inside.
The depths of it are indescribable.
Hopelessness. And it is absolute.

My therapist sat and talked and the more she spoke the further I away I moved.
In the end, her words became a meaningless blur of sound.
I sat in pitch darkness, frozen, staring at the wall and counting.
It felt as if I was counting to save my life; to save myself from shattering; to save something from falling so far that it would never be able to get up again.

Inside of me is a death that is too old and too tired to be turned to life.

Depressing? Yes. Perhaps that is what this is.
I think depression has become such a part of me in the last fifteen years, that I no longer recognise it as being a seperate entity.
Depression is like a tree which grows INTO and incorporates any immoveable object in the path of its growth. It is entwined in me and it is so numb and so normal that I can no longer identify it.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

So Much To Say...

...and yet so few words to say it with.

Depression is like an anaconda in my chest, suffocating my words before they can even take a breath.