mckarlie

I have happiness in my heart and a thorn in my soul

The many masks of mental illness

Sometimes i feel like a vapid fraud. I think all of us adjust the way we act or speak depending on the company we are with at the time, but it doesn’t usually adjust one’s actual sense of self. For instance, around one’s parents you’re probably less inclined to discuss your sex life and how you got so drunk friday night you may have peed yourself a little. You may have friends that you tend to use more colloquialisms with, more relaxed syntax and what not, you probably have friends that you swear more around and so on.

See for me, the issue is that my sense of self is as fluid as the company i keep, and i have determined that it’s predominantly because of my mental illness and the trauma i experienced in my formative years. I wont bang on about what happened to me because many of you already know, but in a nutshell – i was sexually abused by my mother’s first husband from ages 7-9 then physically emotionally and mentally abused by her second husband from ages 11-26, true, i was 26 the last time he got drunk and had a go. Added to the abuse i have abandonment issues with my mother, we are trying to resolve all of this now but it’s a long and drawn out process. I am bipolar and have ptsd, boy am i fun at parties!

I feel like my masks run deeper than most and that it’s dysfunctional. I feel like almost an entirely different person depending on who i’m spending time with, it’s bizarre and exhausting. I’m trying so hard to look like i have it all together, there’s no one that sees all of the real me, not even those closest to me. I hide my pain, I hide the ways I deal with my pain, i try to look like i have it all together but i’m really just treading water, no matter which version of me i’m being at any given time, i’m always treading water. My sense of self is skewed, i know things about myself that are definite, i have opinions and views and inclinations but no true character, no definite being. Maybe that’s what your 30’s are for? Figuring out who you are?

xo

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Low Bits

So the last couple of weeks have been really unpleasant. I’m really stressed about moving and it’s effecting my mood quite poorly and so I’ve really struggled recently. I get to a point where I can fight it and blog and comment and share and catch up with friends to force myself to feel better, force myself back into the world from the safety of my bed or sofa,where i stare numbly at the tv or read if I’m able. I do this to keep my mind occupied so I don’t lose my shit. I get negative mantras in my head, when I’m alone they get so loud I sometimes vocalize them but stop myself from saying them out loud in their entirety as it feels like i’d be giving these words too much power.

This is the inside of my head, it’s a strange place to be and I’ve been fighting really negative feelings and thoughts but I know I’ll be successful. Well, honestly….I sometimes doubt if I’ll be successful, but figure saying that I know I’ll be ok eventually makes me sound less crazy lol

I am bipolar….it’s not who I am but by golly it sure has a lot to do with what I do, how I think, how I feel and how I effect others. It’s very close to being who I am isn’t it? But it’s not always the way, as I’ve gotten older my manic episodes have become less destructive and actually really productive. I don’t get delusions of grandeur or too much trouble sleeping these days, I just feel happier and more productive and good. So my “manic” episodes are what I feel to be my real life, and the depressive episodes, which last longer, are basically life on pause, life in sepia. I find myself treading water most of the time just to get by, all my energy being poured into just being ok for my kids that I literally feel exhausted just from such simple things. I hope I don’t sound sorry for myself, it’s hard not to when explaining the inside out of feeling utterly shitty, but it is what it is, many people suffer every day, my suffering is no greater or less than most people’s, but I try not to measure such things, comparing one’s sorrow to another and convincing yourself that you’re feelings are insignificant compared to other people’s problems and woes, well it’s really reductive to mental health but so so common. I am trying my best not to do that, we need to be feel of some worth and part of that is realizing that our feelings DO count and we ARE having a hard time and we deserve good things and not this shit we feel we’re wading through.

I’m going to try and get some writing done while I’m feeling so clear of mind, I hope you are all well xo

 

 

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From rock bottom to…..something else

It’s hard to believe it was just a few weeks ago I was in hospital on suicide watch, every moment hurt to just be, it was pretty dire. For 25 years I had known terrible things had happened with my first stepfather, but i kept it buried deep and by drudging it all up at once i overwhelmed myself and ended up drowning in trauma.

In hindsight I feel a little silly for thinking i could take it on without consequences, there’s a reason it was buried, my sub conscious was looking out for me in it’s own backwards way, so when i dug it up and thought about the details and talked about it often and openly, it all became too much and i hit rock bottom. That place most of us know, those of us with a mental illness. It creeps in the shadows like a monster in the closet, it’s a place we don’t want to go away but it’s always in the back of our minds that we will be there again. Rock bottom is not a fun place, it’s despair and turmoil and pain, so much pain, and it hurts so much that it feels impossible to go on.

But, you go on. If you’re truly worried about harming yourself and/or ending things, you check yourself in somewhere and tell people, let people know that you’re close to the edge, they’ll hold you back from falling temporarily while you need them to. I’m going on holiday soon and it’s been a while since we’ve been on a holiday, i’ll be sitting by the beach soaking up the sun and the fact that not long ago i could barely hold onto my life will be but a distant memory. But it does leave it’s scars, every time we visit that place i think it takes a little bit of us away, and we have to fight to get it back. I spent a couple of weeks treading water after my episode, and i’ve been a lot quieter on my blog than usual, which i know is the opposite of what i should be, because the more i write and share the better i get. so this is just that, an update if you will.

I’ve had so much encouragement and support from some of you, it’s meant a lot to me. I adore all you wonderful broken beautiful people, broken just like me. But there’s nothing wrong with being broken, this is something i’ve come to learn, so long as you are trying to be the best version of yourself, then the rest are just details.

So for anyone near rock bottom, i hope you hold on. I’m not far past it and life is good. I’m not at full capacity but i’m happy enough. I can’t say I’m happy, because that’s a work in progress, ultimate goal if you will, but i’m happy enough and that’s a good place to be. everything can change so quickly, we can be so miserable and pained one week and a few weeks later the world looks a lot different. there’s always the exhausted treading water phase after such an episode but that’s necessary, it takes a physical emotional and mental toll on a person being that low.

Peace 🙂

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Rebuilding

Piece by piece and bit by bit

I will dig myself out of this pit

When hope has gone and all is bleak

When I feel hollow, fragile and weak

I try to find the smallest spark

To guide me through the darkest dark

When every moment hurts to be

When you close your eyes you see depravity

You’re taken back again and again

To when you originally felt the pain

Search for the spark and hold onto light

It isn’t now but it will be alright

Sometimes all you can manage to do

Is tread water just to make it through

But once you’re through and find your fight

Hold on and make the wrong things right

I know I still have a long road ahead

But I am focused in my stead

I don’t want to be defined by the past

The scars of which will always last

But the wounds themselves with someday heal

I will learn how to live and how to deal

 

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Picking at repressed memories

I’ve found myself in a crisis this last week, and it’s mainly because i picked the proverbial scab of repressed memories and didn’t take the care necessary when doing such a thing.

One of the problems of being bipolar is you sometimes feel like you can take on the world, invincible. This is when you are ‘up’ of course, when you’re down it’s a whole different story.

For a very long time I knew that ‘bad things’ had happened when my Mother was married to her first husband, but that’s as far as I would let myself think about it. I wouldn’t identify with sexual assault victims, I didn’t class myself as a victim of sexual assault, I didn’t recall the details of what had happened, I just knew that something went on and that I didn’t want to know about it.

Recently when I started writing, a poem pretty much fell out of me, it was a detailed account of one of the visits my ex Stepfather paid to my room as a child. At first I felt strangely numb then empowered, I was slightly manic at the time I wrote it and decided to confront the whole thing head on, believing it would define me as strong.

I would urge anyone considering such things to do so with great caution, it’s true that we have to eventually deal with any repressed issues if we’re going to gain happiness but do so carefully. I decided I was super human and not only recalled all of the abuse but I wrote a letter to my Mother talking about it, wrote poems about it, thought about the details at great length, analyzed it all and then SNAP, it overwhelmed me and I spiraled out of control and wound up in the hospital on suicide watch.

I’m still feeling pretty weak, leaving the house is hard at the moment and I feel kind of empty and sad, but I’m piecing myself back together. The flashbacks are pretty intense and at the moment it’s just a matter of distracting myself when they happen, but with each day I get a little stronger than what I was a week ago and I feel a little more able to deal with what happened to me and the memories that are drowning my brain.

So for anyone dealing with similar issues, do tread carefully. Know your limits and be careful not to dig too far too fast, it’s a very brave thing to confront your issues so don’t get carried away like I did, thinking the more you do the faster you do it the better a person you are, it just doesn’t work like that and you will end up out of your depth and in trouble. The way I felt when I went to the hospital last week is something I wouldn’t wish upon any person, even those who have harmed me in the past, I was desperately and devastated and barely tethered to my sanity, each moment of being hurt, and it was through my own actions that it happened.

I’m not beating myself up for what I did, I’ve learned my lesson and am sharing it in hope that anyone else currently going through this kind of thing can learn from it too. Dealing with it at all makes you strong, don’t try to rush ahead of where you are, go slowly and remember that you are the victim, these things were done to you and you did nothing to deserve it.

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Stained Memories

I fell down and grazed my knee

Saw my beating heart in front of me

It was black in parts and broken

From holding onto pain unspoken

I took a shovel and started to dig

I couldn’t have known what I’d find be so big

And once I remembered just a little bit

Once I opened the door just a tiny slit

All the darkness came flooding through

All of my memories, painful and true

The things that man did to me

When I was a small human unable to see

The damage being done to me

Would later cause insanity

But I won’t let this be my plight

I may be down but I will fight

I still have much life left in me

I wont let him define what I am to be

The flashes haunt me every step

In healing I am not adept

But I will somehow find a way

And I will somehow reach the day

When the memories are faded and gone

And I don’t feel small and all alone

I will beat this pain in me

I will pass these memories

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Rock bottom again

So i’ve had a crazy few days. I spent the night before last in the hospital, on suicide watch. I’m not being treated as an outpatient by what they call the “CATT team” here in australia.

How did i arrive at rock bottom? Well, all these years I knew deep down that I had been sexually abused when I was young. But i have opened the proverbial pandora’s box and thought i was dealing with it, but i wasn’t keeping up.

The flashbacks of the abuse started to fill my head constantly, i could almost feel his breath on my neck, i could almost smell his smell and feel his moustach against my cheek. I took some old oxy that i had laying around from my back issues, trying to block it all out, it gave me temporary peace, as anyone who has abused an opiate knows, the good feelings you get when you take it, you end up paying for later in bad feelings.

Then, on wednesday of this week someone close to me screwed me over badly and put me in a difficult situation, and it made me spiral. I ended up hysterical, wanting to end my life. A close friend took my children for me and i went to hospital, i collapsed in the waiting area and was rushed through with heart palpitations and an extremely fast heart rate. It’s all a bit of a blur, There were nurses and doctors all around me, stripping me off and attaching sticky pads to all parts of me, there were questions asked, many questions. I can’t remember a lot of it, i was in and out of consciousness, then my heart rate settled and i came to. They moved me to an emergency ward bed and had a psych consultant come by. He said he wouldn’t be able to see me that night but that i was first on his list for the next morning and that then nurses would be there to help me with anything and keep an eye on me, which was true to the point of them knocking on the toilet door when i was more than 3 minutes.

For anyone who has spent a night on an emergency ward, you would know that sleep is sparse and noise is plenty. So many people coming and going, so many  machines making so many noises, i managed to get a few hours sleep until a patient came in screaming in pain, she was right next to me in the next bay. It’s all quite grim really, but if you are worried that you may harm yourself it’s better to be there than not be there.

The psych consult came back the next morning and we had a talk, we decided that i would be treated as an outpatient by the catt team. Basically they are social workers, nurses, case managers those kind of people, they come out to your home and sometimes provide you with medication to get through a temporary situation. The urge to do it is still there but my husband took a couple of days off work to be home for me and with him and my kids around, i know i will be safe. I know that if things bubble up too much again i will either call the CATT team or go back to the hospital.

So here I am again at rock bottom, it’s not a nice feeling and each moment is quite painful, it’s hard just to get through. It feels like i’m moving through time but time has become a thick jelly like substance and i can’t move freely or with ease. Almost every time i close my eyes i see his face, my abuser, i hear the things he would say to me in my head, i remember how small and insignificant i felt while i was being abused and it all rushes back to me, i feel small and empty.

Suicidal thoughts are nothing to be taken lightly, i sometimes find myself slightly frustrated with those who constantly say things like ‘i’m just going to end it all i’ve decided to die it’s just a matter of time’ – it’s posturing really, not to say their pain isn’t real but if you are seriously worried you may kill yourself, get yourself to a hospital, like i’ve said, it’s not the most comfortable environment but it’s important to hold onto life, because as much as things hurt right now, i know they will get better. i know i will get better and be able to function again and put positivity out into the world again. i know i can make positive changes in the lives of those who care about me, albeit small it doesn’t matter, i have to hold onto these thoughts and the hope that i know it will get better. Never use suicide as a threat to get attention, if you want attention just ask for it, just say what you’re feeling and you will get attention. As someone who has genuinely been scared by my own thoughts and possible actions, i implore others to take it as seriously as possible.

I owe a couple of my fellow bloggers an email, I’m sorry i fell off the radar this week but as you’ve read, things have been quite intense for me and i’m sorry if anyone feels let down. I’m always here for you as much as i can be, but sometimes i’m not able to look after myself and need help too.

I hope all of you are doing well, i can’t wait to get better and start to write more poetry again and contribute more positivity.

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Do you feel completely alone and misunderstood?

I think one of the biggest challenges with having a mental illness is that we keep so much locked away. We worry that if we share what’s inside people will ostracize us and quite often, it’s true. I think all of us have had an experience where we’ve had a friend tell us ‘you can tell me anything’ and when we give them a glimpse of what’s going on underneath, they pull away or it overwhelms them.

The fact of it is, if you haven’t been through similar experiences with mental illness, it does freak people out. It does overwhelm people, and it’s not their fault, people want to be good friends and want to know us well because that’s how people bond, but when we have an experience where we put ourselves out there and share with someone who hasn’t necessarily experienced something similar, and it ends up pushing them away, it makes us build walls around us.

I’ve had a few experiences where i’ve had a ‘good’ friend who has sensed something was wrong and has asked me to open up and share, only to back away when i’ve done so. It hurts so much to bear your soul only to feel rejected, and it’s only with a bit of age and experience that i’ve learned that it’s not their fault, people do generally have good intentions but it just isn’t something a person can understand without experiencing it.

My husband doesn’t suffer any manner of mental illness, he’s felt ‘blue’ on occasion, he has mood swings within the ‘normal’ realm of human behaviour, but as far as mental health goes he’s a picture of wellness. He’s quiet, deals with things as they come and doesn’t really have any kind of inner turmoil. It’s taken over ten years for him to understand what goes on with me. he’s the only ‘non mental’ person i trust to tell what’s really going on with me but like i said, it took years for us to get to a place where he really understood my mental illness.

The problem with keeping all of our issues and turmoil locked away is that we never truly deal with it, we convince ourselves that we are ‘too crazy’ or crazier than everyone else and that sharing what’s going on would only alienate us from others and compound our problems. After being burnt from sharing my issues, I spent many years locking it all away and refusing to let anyone know what was going on beneath the surface, convinced it would just end badly and end friendships. The truth of it is, when we share with others who have had similar experiences, when we relate to others and feel understood by others, it helps more than I can express. We can start to gain the strength to confront our issues when we feel less alone in our pain, and it’s only by confronting our issues and our past and shining a light into all of those dark hidden places, that we will ever gain any kind of true peace. We can take meds and have good patches but when your mental illness is due to or in conjunction with past issues and trauma, you will never be able to move forward without dealing with these issues, and it’s almost impossible to deal with them alone.

So, for anyone feeling alone right now, like no one understands or just that you’re scared to share because you don’t want to be rejected, I urge you to find the ‘right’ person, not necessarily your best friend, not necessarily your neighbour, but you can find someone on wordpress who has been through what you have been through, not exactly perhaps, but something similar enough to gain understanding.

I started this blog a couple of months ago and the progress I have made with my own past and struggles has been more than I’ve made in the past 15 years. It’s amazing to me, I opened up and started being as honest as I could be, decided to put it all out there and literally in two months I have healed more than I have in the past 15 years. It’s all because I’ve been able to connect with others who are like minded and have suffered similar shit to me.

I have received training as a counselor, so if you want an ear and the anonymity of a relative stranger, feel free to email me at mckarliebear@gmail.com – i will reply to any emails i get. If you want advice or just to tell your story, I’m happy to listen and be there for you. It doesn’t have to be me, just find someone who has been through something similar to you and try to share, I can’t tell you how much it will help.

A lot of us think we will never be free of our burdens, but only we can heal ourselves, and it takes hard work and effort and we need to be brave. But the first step is opening up, knocking down some of those walls that we’ve built around ourselves to keep it all out, but by keeping the world out we also keep ourselves locked in, and we wont get anywhere that way. 

So many suicides could have been avoided if people didn’t feel so alone and hopeless in their lives, if they could have had someone say ‘i know exactly how you feel’ and related to them. I am bipolar, only diagnosed a year and a bit ago, until then I was told I suffered depression and anxiety. I was sexually abused as a child, then physically abused by my Mother’s second husband, I was then abandoned by my Mother and spent years abusing alcohol and drugs and partaking in dysfunctional sexual relationships. So if you want to share or talk, then please feel free.

Peace

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Falling Flower

Her beauty is obvious to all who gaze upon her

She likes her pretty things and has a collection of fur

She has a high rise apartment with city views afar

When you walk down the street with her she leaves mens jaws ajar

One day I noticed on her arm a trail of hand made cuts

She noticed that I’d noticed and made her ifs and buts

I wondered why this beauty, who could turn heads with a smile

Would feel so out of control, somehow see herself as vile

She told me next time I saw her that it was rape that began her pain

And that her Father left her, she had never been the same

She wears a smile for the world to see because she feels it’s best

She says people are nicer to her as she’s prettier than the rest

What would people think if they knew she had her flaws

She’s scared that showing vulnerability will somehow close down doors

I told this pretty flower what is inside makes it’s way out

And if she keeps hiding her pain so deep she’d break, I had no doubt

She assured me that she had control and only did as she chose

She couldn’t let the world see that inside she’s broken and morose

I tried to break the shell outside to pull out what was hidden

But after time and time again I learned it was forbidden

So imagine how sad it was to hear the most heartbreaking news

That apartment with the fancy furs and amazing city views

Had a balcony, up high above – oh what a choice to choose

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suicide: the saddest solution

after doing my usual morning routine i sat down to read that stephen fry attempted suicide last year, and that paris jackson attempted suicide overnight. this makes me so sad. it was a few years ago i watched stephen fry’s documentary the life of the manic depressive, i identified with many of the stories and information so i went to my GP and said “i think i’m bipolar”, he got me to do some flimsy ten question thing and confidently stated ‘no, you’re not bipolar, you still have depression and anxiety’. it wasn’t till i started seeing my psychiatrist about a year ago and did a very long, in depth questionnaire and after doing so sat down with him and he said to me “have you ever suspected that you could be bipolar? because i strongly believe this is what you suffer from” – it was a dark time for me, and having a name for it, an identity for the shadows that stalk me shone a light on the dark places. it didn’t instantly cure me, but it gave me a starting place to learn more about my illness and triggers and tricks. i have always been thankful to stephen fry for being brave enough to make such a documentary, it may have taken a few years for the connection to be made with myself but if i hadn’t of watched it i would have blindly gone along with the wrong diagnosis.

i get the appeal of suicide, i really do. it’s not a place i go often, but i’ve been there more times than i care to admit. sometimes just existing seems to hurt so much that you can’t go on for another minute, it seems a chore just to breathe. you feel so alone and isolated, like nothing could possibly make things ok again, it just hurts so so much. and i know that in these times it can take every bit of strength a person has in them not to give in and quit, because that’s what it is, quitting life.

on the rare occasion i do get that low, it’s my kids that pull me through, i could never do that to them. and i think every one needs to find at least one thing to anchor themselves to, that one thing that makes them want to go on even when it feels like they can’t. i wish i could be there for anyone feeling this kind of pain, just to tell them that it passes, it always passes, it feels impossible right now but it always passes. and it’s only through such empty and sad times that i have come to appreciate any glimpse of happiness i get, any chance to feel good and positive is one that i hold onto for dear life, and when you live for those moments you’ll find yourself paying less attention to the pain.

so, search for happiness. for me it’s the little things, a kind gesture from a friend, an entertaining article, a blog post i really relate to, anything, find happiness wherever you can and focus on that. when the darkness comes, don’t allow it the power to end your life, experience it, hold onto your anchor and you will always make it through.

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