Learning

2018 was undoubtedly one of the toughest years I  have experienced as Adult Chloe. But aside from learning in depth about loss and fear, there is something that has come from it and which prepares me for 2019. A definite sense of self is forecast. As I itch and scratch and wish I could have a glass of wine, I remember the feelings last January as I became more adept at forgoing alcohol and as a result found my sober skip. This next year will hopefully see me qualify as a nurse and subsequently start a new career. The LO and MO will change schools and there will be a lot of transition to manage. Somewhere in the midst of this, I know that I need to nourish the broken Chloe, feed her some nutrients and watch as new shoots grow. In the last couple of months, there was a darkness that grew from the depths, like wispy smoky tendrils snaking around my ankles, steadily climbing and wrapping round my body, tight like an angry cloak. Impulsivity, anger, resentment, bitterness and an inability to ground left me drunken and craving for debauchery. Hedonism. And it’s strange, as the higher self looks on, almost in amusement, as she watches the unfurling of chaos. I picture her, leaning back against a wall, right leg bent and anchored, with her arms crossed. A wry smile worn on her face as she chews on a piece of wild grass held in her hand. Watching, waiting. She knew what would happen. We both did. It was the only way I would reset. Even the toxicity of the past few weeks has been a learning curve. I never knew I was susceptible to abuse. How the powers that be must have guffawed at that one. I am doing domestic violence for my dissertation and I stated to a few people in the last few months that I have never suffered from this type of abuse. And still I haven’t regarding the physical aspect of it but little did I know that via some random law of attraction, I literally opened the door to another form; emotional and mental abuse. I am lucky that I recognised this for what it was but there are some less fortunate. I am also fortunate that I have a good support system around me who also warned me early on that this behaviour was unwarranted and therefore manipulative. But it is strange how a sense of love can alter one’s perceptions. The pushing and pulling, like a dance, building up into a crescendo and as the wave crashes down, you realise that your body and mind are no longer joined, you have lost your sense. Lost your self.

Today, I felt a new strength. No longer did I want to play that game. Each time I felt a pang, I reminded myself of what I would say to a loved one, a friend. I am not perfect. I know this but equally I am not to be put down; lied to; manipulated or treated with contempt. A month was long enough. Long enough to remind me that no-one is exempt from this type of abuse, but equally it doesn’t take much to react. That there is, within each of us, a vulnerability that can give rise to bad behaviour. Reactive and angry. Thankfully, I have woken up, bruised from a bad dream but with the hope that out of this experience, new growth is born.

 

Emoanxidefidepressitis.

The time has come where I admit my brain has recently developed an updated malfunction error code. It can’t get past the start up mode. Instead of number and letters, I have compulsive and obsessive thoughts flashing by like some sort of sodding space storm. As a self-medicator I knew that not drinking would threw up some delightful debris but feeling compelled to do five things simultaneously constantly, whilst snapping at everyone in my family or bursting into tears combined with the inability to stop picking at every inch of my face or scalp, was not something I had bargained on. Yep, it feels that bad.

Fortunately (unfortunately?), it doesn’t look that bad to the outsider.. I can chat, laugh and function. However the cracks are starting to show. I have had to leave social events early or avoided doing things with friends because I can’t stop the chatter in my mind. I feel that unless I am constantly engaged in something, then I need to be on my own. I am unable to focus when watching TV shows so now it is only films or really good documentaries that I can sit still enough to enjoy. The good thing is that reading a book is my lifeline, even if I do have a bad habit of skimming the page before being able to read it properly. And I constantly forget who new characters are.

As I look back historically I have realised that this behaviour has always been there but it has been masked by alcohol. When people visit, I find it difficult to sit down and relax – unless I am pissed. When camping, I struggle to sit down because I can always find something to tidy and I remember when I went to Thailand in my early 20s, nearly having a melt-down because everyone was relaxing in hammocks – I couldn’t cope with the lack of stimulation. I thought that ditching nightly glasses of wine would mean I would be able to concentrate more, have less low moments and the Shitty Guilt Fairy would fuck off. Apparently, she is still knocking about.. only she doesn’t harp on about wine any more… just about my general level of shitness.

I think back to being a teenager and telling my mum that everything was going too fast.. my thoughts and my actions.. they were on a motor.. I used to have to turn the tap on to quieten it all down. Slowly I can piece it together.. the hours of crying when I was in my teens? I was bored. I couldn’t self-soothe, until I opened another can of cider.

I have mentioned before that I have been accused of a penchant for drama and more recently how I never stop.. that there is always a new project to undertake, be it diy/a new hobby/getting an animal.. I see the similarity between my MO and I. I see the despair when he is thwarted and how it is mirrored in my own behaviour.

The last four months, the irritability has worsened. The concentration levels are plummeting and I can’t find my off switch. My highs and lows feel even more pronounced; worry and guilt have taken top spot. So I have accepted I need more help, not just for me but to benefit my relationships too and also to ensure I don’t fall off the nursing degree wagon.

I have been to the GP, she will write a letter of confirming my ‘long term condition’ (ironic that we are doing that particular module at the moment 😉 ) to my uni so that I can buy more time for my essays and I can get a learning support plan in place.

Writing this isn’t easy. It’s not a cry for help (already done that at the doctors 🙂 ) – I am not heading towards an abyss but I am slipping and one of the most important things when you have somewhat sketchy mental health, is to recognise it. This post also has a purpose; to highlight that even those who appear to be doing ok, or maybe are just a bit eccentric, or neurotic.. they sometimes have an illness. A real bonafide illness. Mine was (unbeknownst to me) labelled by medics as a borderline personality disorder, (now known as an emotionally unstable personality disorder…how rude) – back in 2003 – combined with anxiety and a history of depression – these can cross over with attention deficit hyperactive disorders too.. which could explain a lot of things. Little did I know when looking at behavioural symptoms our MO was having, that on the adult ADHD screening sheet, I would resonate with the vast majority of them.

It’s difficult for my lovely family and wonderful friends and I love them so, so much for sticking with my highs and lows. My unpredictability. My new obsessions. I used to hate what I perceived to be judging comments but now I have begun to realise that unless you are in my brain (and thank the bejeezus you ain’t), you wouldn’t understand. So now I try and recognise their opinions for what they are; they come from a place of love and most probably, a place of innate frustration! As a parent of a child who is exhibiting these very same characteristics (if I have to listen to him harp on about fucking Joella one more time, I will explode); I now understand how draining it can be trying to support someone like him. And like me.

In the main I try and hide the majority of my ‘quirks’.. when I am really struggling I build my wall and camp down behind it until they subside, so that no-one sees how bad I am getting. For my husband and children though, they aren’t so lucky.. they are generally also stuck behind the wall with me.

 

 

Clipped Wings

It’s just before 3am and LO has woken me up complaining he needs a cuddle from his dad. I pack him back off to bed unhappily (he has form) and then, wide awake now, I turn to check my phone. It’s in the boy’s room, by the MO’s bed. I had given it to him last night to listen to a mindfulness meditation in another attempt to try and calm his ever-increasingly bad behaviour down. As I look at the phone, I see an email from his teacher that arrived later in the night, after he had fallen asleep. We correspond regularly to try and keep on top of the issues that he has at school and at home. What I read, feels like the worst one yet; he spent another morning out of his yr 5 class and was with yr 3 instead. She is worried about how this is affecting him academically; I agree but equally I understand that this ‘low level’ behaviour has a ripple effect on other children’s learning and let’s face it, it’s downright wearing.

At home, we deal with the manipulation, the anger, the tantrums. Equally, there is humour, compassion and affection. I watch him flit from emotion to emotion like a butterfly, unable to land for long before being tempted elsewhere. Like a motor he is propelled by his thoughts and his ego, what can he do to impress next and if that fails, who can he mentally destroy? He somehow sets us all up, himself included; maybe a request to do something he knows he can’t do so that when he is declined, he over-reacts, a ready-made vent for his anger and emotions to pour out of; unrepressed steam from an engine. It’s like having a car that constantly overheats, you live in fear of being stuck in traffic on a hot day; eyes straining to see if there are tiny tell-tale wisps of steam creeping up from the radiator over the bonnet. A bottle of water lying in the passenger footwell, just waiting to refill the arid void but knowing that it’s always a bit too late. Everything is a bit too late.

I worry about his future. I worry about our future. How is he going to get through the teenage years? Will he get his school qualifications if he can’t even sit still during a class or is constantly moving to a different one? Will he get expelled? Will he make college? Will he hurt someone? Will he go to jail? What, to some, may seem extreme fears, for a mother who has watched, like a car crash, their child struggle with regulating their behaviour since they were two and a half, these fears seem real. He slips through the system like a piece of mercury. He hasn’t hurt himself or anyone else so CAMHS won’t touch him and he doesn’t ‘qualify’ for NHS help because he isn’t severe enough. Even friends and other parents of his school friends don’t completely understand what it is like to live with him because he is so highly functioning; so utterly charming and clever. Only those closest to us can see the cracks that show when he is denied. When his speech gets so bad that his voice becomes shrill as he forces his words to get out. I feel like inside this locked cocoon is this child desperate to break free of his shackles but unable to find the key. His wings are clipped.

We have strategies (which fail) and we have plans (which we hope won’t fail). I hope to get him on an intensive stammer course in London this Summer and I am waiting for another CAMHS referral to be refused but will push on regardless and we have other appointments in the pipeline, some NHS, some private.

In the meantime we shall continue to tell him we love him and we shall continue to ground him when he is mean. And until he can break out of his cocoon, I’ll continue trying to make his butterfly house the best it can be so that when he is ready, it is has all the nourishment he needs.

Fragility

Like an icicle melded to a branch, as the heat rises the tell-tale shadow of a hairline crack snakes its way through. It drips.

I drive to work, empty. Even the sound of the radio would be too coarse, too damaging to my heart. It contracts, not just as a means to an end but with pain. He can’t help himself. He is young. He ssss-stammers his anger out, he literally writhes with his emotional angst because no-one can understand his grief. He is incensed that he is questioned, that he has been denied. His small, lithe body squirming as he screams vitriol. My heart hammering, blood pounding in my ears as I try and control the torrent that courses through my veins. I cajole, I threaten, I comfort, I cry. Nothing changes the pattern. It is on repeat. It drips.

Letters and emails, phone-calls and a million conversations. Should have dones, would have dones, a zillion recriminations. Nothing changes.

I stroke his head as he sobs himself to sleep. I place my hands on his head and back, willing energy to pass through. I need to heal him. For him. For me. For everyone. It drips.

I arrive at work. I brace myself for the day ahead. It must have got colder because the icicle has stopped melting. The threatening minuscule divide has ceased to explore further. But I remember, nothing changes.