26 September 2013 @ 11:13 pm
oh, dear heart  
I'm having trouble sleeping tonight.

I spent a great deal of time today with a young woman who's very recently been sexually harassed.

Trigger warning for sexual harassment and sexual assault )

eta: cut tag fixed. My sincere apologies to anyone who saw the whole thing while I worked on unfutzing the code.
15 August 2012 @ 08:08 pm
knowing more  
It's time to work on your mother issues, says my therapist. You're grieving your friend's mom, but you're grieving your own as well – she left you to face your abuse alone, abandoned you in body and purpose. There's a loss there that we have to face.

I don't want to.

I have consoled myself for years with the fact that I have a mother who loves me – but I ministered to my hurts for years before that by valorizing the fact that I had parents who were still together, and that turned out to be a hollow prize to claim. I know my therapist's right – I've had nights of late where I've cried over my friend's mom and felt the grief bleed into anger at my own mother, into dejection, into wishing things had been fair. I've asked empty rooms, the universe, my own self why things weren't different. I hate the questions; what's done is done; you're stronger than this; why cry over what can't be?

But it isn't done, not while I turn away from it. There exists inside of me an emptiness that I've tried not to get to know, and looking away from it makes it impossible to fill.

On Monday, my therapist had me float back to the first time I could remember feeling the anger and frustration I so often feel today when I talk to my mother on the phone. I swept back to being seven; I felt the solidity of that emotion like a weight on my chest. "What's the worst part of the memory?" my therapist asked.

"There's nothing happening," I said. "Just feeling."

"Your mother isn't there?" she asked.

And oh, the ache of that washed through me like acid. I fell to pieces. No, my mother wasn't there – I could find no memory of her when I was seven at all. I was standing in a void, bewildered and lost, and I wanted her, but she wasn't there.

It was the first time I'd let myself feel that loss. I fought it before I could surrender to it, to the jagged, staggering, painful pull of it through my bones. I saw what I'd been avoiding. It was all I could do to breathe.

There's a story behind that feeling, even though I don't yet know what it is. My therapist – kindly, gently – told me that we'll find it, that she'll guide that seven year old to vocalize what she couldn't back then, to articulate the specific moment that's lodged in my memory this way. I know it's possible; I even know it's necessary. What I know most of all is that it hurts.

I've struggled to write this. I feel ashamed – an old echo of other thoughts, the sense that I must have done something to earn such lack of care. Don't make waves, that same voice tells me. Don't talk about your mother like this, don't make her part of this process – what if you lose what relationship you have? What if you make yourself alone? Don't be so self-absorbed. Stay safe, stay quiet. After all, you've lived with worse.

So I write, because it's what I know how to do in the face of voices that urge me toward silence. I write, and I grieve, and I try to figure out what might look like peace.
01 March 2012 @ 06:16 pm
hissing, scratching, comfort, self  
Today was All The Mental Health Professionals day – first, Dr G, who gave me a thumbs up on all things medical (someone explain to me how my blood pressure is 72/110?) and some lovely validation. "It's not that you're in a hole that matters," she said, "it's that you realized you were in a hole and you started making plans for getting out of it."

And then there was therapy, which was wiiiiiild.

Discussion of rape and its after effects under the cut. Please read (or don't!) with your own self-care in mind )
17 August 2011 @ 06:32 pm
Understanding comes from the strangest places  
During this week's Hoarders, Dorothy - a loving, compassionate, spitfire of a personal organizer - took a mother to task for failing to love and provide for the needs of her fourteen-year-old daughter. The mother cared her family less than she did her dogs - or perhaps it's more accurate to say she thought of the dogs as family, and refused to see how her actions left her daughter devastated and bereft. Dorothy spoke on the daughter's behalf, pointed out how filthy and dangerous the home had become.

And I had a flash of understanding.

Oh, I thought. A parent's supposed to prioritize the health and well-being of their child.

This shouldn't be a newsflash to me, but it was. I sat with the idea for a good few minutes, turning it over in my head like an interesting pebble. And I realized that on some level I've been thinking there's something a little unreasonable about me expecting my mother to look out for my interests when I was a kid. In my head, I'd written a script in which that was an imposition.

Imagine the impact that's had on almost every other relationship in my life.

It's stunning to contemplate, and a little hilarious, truth be told, to realize it because of Hoarders. But I will take enlightenment wherever it comes.

It is not unreasonable to expect others to care. That's a whole new mantra to apply to my life.
17 June 2011 @ 03:32 pm
Ends up "complex PTSD" is actually a medical condition  
Where to begin?

Discussion of therapy, and the after effects of sexual abuse and assault under the cut )
14 May 2011 @ 09:40 am
my week  
Things got really, really bad this week – too bad to talk about easily. But with each passing day I'm realizing anew that talking is part of healing; talking is refusing to keep secrets; talking is trusting that the world will meet me with kindness even when I'm scared.

My story is beneath the cut. The usual warnings apply – please feel free not to read for whatever reason, but particularly for your own self-care. Contains discussion of sexual abuse, depression, PTSD, and suicidal ideation.

Read more... )
07 May 2011 @ 10:55 am
"The basic nature of our mind is essentially good," said the first line of the Buddhist essay I read this morning. I kept reading, but my eyes drifted back to that first line, lingering, turning the thought over. The basic nature of our mind is essentially good. We are, at heart, good – we trip up, we get mislead, we think some things are true that aren't, and we are certainly prone to confusion, but at heart, we are essentially good.

I felt like a bell had been struck. A dozen memories floated up, asking to be looked at, and so I sat down to write, to try and connect one to the other, to tease out why that idea was so shocking to me, and so dear. This meandering, rough-edged, messy, and unpolished post is what resulted, my attempt to articulate to myself where I've been, where I am, where I'm going. I can make no claim to it making sense, exactly, but it's part of where I'm at.

(Includes discussion of sexual abuse and assult; please feel free to skip for any reason, but particularly with your own self-care in mind.)

Read more... )
06 May 2011 @ 07:39 am
brain, part II  
Mention of sexual assault beneath the cut. As ever, always feel free to pass these posts by, but particularly if you need to do so for your own self-care.

Read more... )
23 April 2011 @ 08:53 am
punching through  
Wednesday through today - so much . . . stuff.

As ever, please feel free not to read for whatever reason, but particularly for your own self-care. Discussion of PTSD and the after-effects of sexual assault under the cut.

Read more... )
20 April 2011 @ 10:12 am
Discussion of the after-effects of sexual abuse and assault beneath the cut. Please, always, feel free not to read for any reason at all, but particularly for your own self-care.

Read more... )
18 April 2011 @ 09:12 am
the next thing, and the next thing  
My therapist consistently reminds me that I don't have to do everything at once, heal myself in a heartbeat, process all there is to process, even deal with next week until next week gets here. Just do the very next thing, she tells me. And after that, do the next thing. The next thing and the next thing - that's how we get through.

contains discussion of recovery from sexual assault - may be triggering )
25 March 2011 @ 07:40 pm
the medication diaries (8)  
If I'm going to talk about the good days, the ones where I'm sure of my healing and can square my shoulders and face down my illnesses, then it's only right that I should talk about the bad days too.

This evening I fell apart - cried myself almost sick, and the feeling was such kin to grief, so nasty and hopeless that it felt too large to fit inside my chest. It baffled me - nothing was commensurate with this sadness - and that was frightening, to feel something so overwhelming and not know the cause.

Until I went into the kitchen to put on the kettle for tea, and said aloud to the empty room, "I am so sad to be sick." And the pieces slotted into place - the completely harmless act done by a completely harmless individual that my brain took all wrong today, telling me unsafe, unsafe when that just wasn't true; the small, asked-for change that suddenly felt like a rejection of something important, when it was no rejection at all, no risk, no severing of ties. My brain gets things wrong, and I don't blame it - I understand why it functions this way, and I have no judgment for it firing and whirring and connecting the dots as it does. It's been trained by circumstance, and fear, and isolation, and I'm coaxing it to remap what it thinks it knows, but that process will take a long, long time.

And it makes me sad. It levels me, once in a while, to see my illnesses so clearly, to know one thing and feel another, to be unable to prevent myself hurting, to have to let these things run their course and then mop up the mess, take the pill, drink the tea, burrow into the blanket.

To wish it was different is futile - this is what it is. To work for it to be different, step-by-step is what I'm already doing. And I suppose it makes sense that every now and again it should do this, demand a grieving from me, shake me up. This isn't how people are supposed to live their lives - we should all be protected from trauma, and so few of us are; that alone is worth some tears.

I'm sad that I'm sick. I'm sad that so many of us are. And so I mop up the mess, take the pill, drink the tea, burrow into the blanket.
23 January 2011 @ 11:29 am
I wrote this some time ago, drafted and redrafted it with the idea that maybe one day I'd put it into print. There's a long way to go between where I am now and where I'd need to be to see that to fruition, and in the meantime I feel like I need to let these words go.

This is an essay about depression, about me, about learning something unexpected. There's a description of sexual assault behind the cut, so please read with your own self-care in mind. And . . . I have absolutely no idea what else to say. Voila. C'est tout. etc etc etc.

Read more... )
15 January 2011 @ 04:31 pm
my brain. a land of much bafflement  
Last night's MRI was a much better experience than the one last year, in part because I had so much more information with which to navigate the experience. I could make more plans, gather more resources, and the place I had the MRI was much, much nicer, with the sweetest possible staff.

Yet I still ended up feeling like I'd been punched out by the experience, and in all new ways.

more under the cut. includes discussion of childhood sexual abuse )
11 January 2011 @ 07:19 am
on crazy  
On yesterday evening's Daily Show, Jon Stewart said many sound, reasonable, beautiful things in his monologue about the Tucson shootings.

Boy would it be nice to be able to draw a straight line of causation from this horror to something tangible because then we could convince ourselves that if we just stopped this the horrors will, will end you know; to have the feeling, however fleeting, that this type of event can be prevented forever. But I . . . It's hard not to feel like it can't.

But he followed that with this:

You know, you cannot outsmart crazy. You don't know what a troubled mind will get caught on. Crazy always seems to find a way. It always has. Which is not to suggest resistance is futile – it sounds pretty dark what I just said there, now that I reconsider it in my own head. CRAZY PEOPLE RULE US ALL. Um, I don't think that's true.

To which I say – oh please. Can we not do better than this? Can we not be precise in what we mean, and admit the things we don't know?

Crazy, as used above, means mentally ill – "a troubled mind," in Stewart's words. Yet we don't know that Loughner is mentally ill. There has certainly been coverage in the press of Loughner's unpredictable, aggressive, even frightening behavior – but there are a multitude of physical illnesses that can cause poor impulse control, language difficulties, mood swings, and paranoia.

Even if Loughner's behavior is caused by mental illness, we're in no position to know what that illness is. To say someone is mentally ill is to paint with so broad as brush as to say everyone in a hospital is "sick" and expect doctors to be able to treat patients on that information alone. The range of illnesses subsumed beneath the catch-all of "mental illness" is staggering – do we mean to say Loughner suffers from anxiety, or that he has borderline personality disorder, or post-partum depression? (The last seems unlikely, no? But it's just as unlikely that we can diagnose Loughner's potential illnesses from our armchairs at home.)

"Crazy" plain does not suffice.

The word "crazy" carries cultural baggage. When someone invokes "crazy" they don't invoke images of people engaged in active care of their mental health. "Crazy" people don't take medication, or see a therapist, or seek psychiatric expertise to help them manage the effects of illness within the brain. On the one hand I'm crazy, because I'm mentally ill. On the other, I'm not the person Stewart's invoking, because I'm receiving care.

And there's the rub – when "crazy" is invoked, it describes someone suffering from untreated illness, but rarely does anyone ask why not? If Loughner is ill, did he know it? Was there non-judgmental information available to him that would promote the benefits of monitoring mental health? Did he have insurance or the means to pay for medical treatment? If he had the necessary coverage, what limitations would be placed on his care – 10 visits to a therapist a year? 20? What clinics, what therapies were available in his area? What stories had he heard in the media, in his home, in his schools, in his places of work that might make him afraid of being labeled "crazy" and therefore refuse to seek help?

Let's try an experiment – let's try not to use "crazy" when we mean we don't understand something. Let's not suggest mental illness is commensurate with criminality, and let's not suggest having a mental illness exists outside the realms of common human experience. Let's not invoke mental illness as causation in any number of situations without also considering that most Americans don't have access to good mental health care, and that millions of people don't have insurance, and that a lot of people live where mental health resources are scarce.

We can do so much better than scapegoating crazies. Jon Stewart – I'm looking at you.
04 December 2010 @ 08:32 am
Ooooooo, I'm ticked  
There's a meme going around on facebook at the moment, and it's making me a little nuts. I let out some hot air beneath the cut - feel free to move past this if you need other kinds of things in your morning!

Discussion of child abuse beneath the cut )
12 November 2010 @ 10:59 am
My mind, truly, is stuck in a limitless boggle  
My brain is full of so much stuff today that I feel like a dog intent on chasing its tail, while getting distracted time and again by all the new smells in all the world. Imperfect metaphor, I grant you, but that's a symptom of my brain boggle. So I'm putting it down on paper (for some value of thereof, involving typing and screens) to free up just a little space inside my head.

includes some discussion of sexual abuse )
11 November 2010 @ 07:16 am
dear _______. (part two)  
If you are a survivor, or you know someone else who is, there's a post full of messages here from people who care about you.

Bookmark the page; come back whenever you need to. The words are for you, and they're offered freely. You don't need to comment - likewise, if you want to comment you can. There's no right or wrong way to use the post - it's yours. Use it however makes sense to you.

If you're someone who'd like to add a message to survivors, please do. There will always be room for more messages.
10 November 2010 @ 06:42 pm
dear ______.  
Discussion of sexual assault beneath the cut )