A chat with mental health 

So. Everything will be ok. The Taylor Centre say so. They are impressed with how strong and brave I am, and how well I’m putting structure into my life to cope with the various stressors I am dealing with. Everything will be just fine.

Except when I tell them that’s I’m doing worse than the day they saw me last, which was the day after I split with my boy and the day after I turned 30 largely alone, they just ignore it. They tell me how well I’m doing. Like hell I am. I fall apart every night. I stare at my drugs and wonder what a lethal dose is. I look up timetables for the main trunk line. My thinking spirals ever lower, and in the end I don’t know how I keep going. 

I’m doing everything I can to stay alive. I’m trying really hard this time. I haven’t given up. I’m still fighting. 

The Taylor Centre wouldn’t have a clue though. And they want me to go to WINZ to get funding for counselling. Completely missing that I’m already IN counselling, and that the WINZ process is so fucking bad that I would rather die than fight them again. 

I once said I would die before I went back into the psych unit, or back into community mental health care. And yet, here I am, broke as shit and not having any other option. And it’s killing me. They listen but they do not hear. They tick the boxes but there’s nothing in their service that makes you feel like they care. 

Everything will be just fine. I’m strong and brave and doing all I can. Everything will be ok.


Do not go gentle into that good night

Rage, rage against the dying of the light

Signal phrases – TW suicide

Everyone has phrases that they use that say one thing and mean another. “I’m fine”. “Dinner is delicious”. Whatever they are. 

For me there are two really important signal phrases you should know. They’re the ones that signal danger, depression, suicidal thoughts. Responding to them might save me one day.

“Everything will be ok”. The reason everything will be ok in my head is because soon I will find a way to die. Then everything will be ok for me.

“I feel peaceful/I am at peace”. This means that I have made my peace with death, and I’m actively suicidal and looking at options.

Why am I sharing this? Because as messed up as I am, I know intellectually that death is not the answer and I know I need to stick around, and if people I talk to are aware of my signal phrases they can respond.

Why not just use plain language? God knows I’ve tried, but I can’t do it. I can’t frankly tell someone I’m suicidal right now, maybe ever again. I need people to recognise signal phrases because they’re my last scream for help.

Today

Today I wear my wedding dress, for the first time since my wedding two and a half years ago. It fits me well, although my waist is smaller than it was back then.

Today I wear my wedding dress in honor of my husband, who turned 31 yesterday. I hope to the bottom of my heart that he had a good day. I broke again last night as I caught sight of the dress, peeping out of my closet and taunting me with everything bygone.

Today I wear my wedding dress to feel and acknowledge everything that went wrong, and to formally say that I will honor my past but I will no longer let it hold me. I will not be the person I was that destroyed my marriage any more. I will learn and I will grow and I will make better decisions.

Today I wear my wedding dress and I make a promise to myself. I will heal and grow and not throw myself into another relationship. I will learn to be strong on my own, and not lean on another for my lifestyle or my emotional stability.

Today I wear my wedding dress and I mourn what was, but I look forward to what I can become.

Today I say goodbye to a great love of my life, and I promise to make the next great love of my life myself.

The day I formally lost day to day care of my littlest one

Last night, I was informed that my ex-husband had been granted interim guardianship and an interim parenting order for my youngest daughter. I’m not going to lie, it hit me like a punch in the gut. It was just a formalising of our current arrangement, but it underlined my failing as a mother. My baby girl is his now, and while I have equal say in important decisions about her life, her day to day care is ordered out of my hands. 

It shouldn’t hurt so much. It’s the right thing for her. It’s the right thing by me. My ex is thrilled (I think). It’s just legalising what was already in place. But I’m dancing on the edge of tears and have been since the message came through last night, and I have dissolved into them more than once.

I thanked my ex for everything he had done, and he saw the message but didn’t respond. I think that might actually hurt more. He has been amazing through this whole process, and I wanted to acknowledge my gratitude for that, but he stonewalled me. I should have realised that he really wants nothing to do with me, but will tolerate me for my girl’s sake.

It broke me last night. I loved him. Love him. Whatever. He was the most amazing thing in my world. So much love and support and care and dedication, and I broke everything and will never have it back. It makes me hate myself more than a little bit sometimes.

I’m building a new life, with new, amazing people in it, but the shadow of the old life still casts its pall sometimes. I can’t look back, or I will break. I can only go forward.  Life after that kind of love is very very hard.

And the shit sprayeth further still

TW – suicide

When I wrote my last blog post, I at least had a head space that was fairly strong. Well, that’s dissolved to the point that my ex-husband says I’m more fragile that he has ever seen me. I’m millimetres from being inpatiented, after a stint in respite last week. I can’t keep myself safe any more. They took my stash of medication, so I’ve come up with a couple of much more lethal plans.

I planned to end my life on October 31st, but I broke down and told my partner, and he convinced me to seek help, which led to the stint in respite. But he’s not around to save me from myself again. So today, after a medication change set me to less than five hours sleep, I decided to make a go of dying.

I made a series of promises of what I would do before I died, and I started on the checklist. I called the Taylor Centre, my local community mental health centre. I was trying to tell them that I was going to go and step in front of a train as soon as I’d completed my required steps. I was advised to make a cup of coffee, have something to eat, and read a book, and they’d call in a couple of hours.

Ahem. What?! Apparently this is something to do with distress tolerance, but I was beyond sitting with my distress and letting it subside. I’ve been doing that for a good month now. I’m beyond that capacity, I was reaching for help, and I was told to make a fucking cuppa. So I made a cuppa, and went on to Stage Two – writing to the people I love and telling them they are loved, individually and personally. That’s where I’m currently at – it’s a longish process.

Meanwhile, my partner, who’s overseas now, knew what was going on and convinced me to reach out – to Mum, and to my ex-husband. Both came through for me – my ex called and didn’t hang up until he was on my doorstep, and didn’t leave until Mum arrived. He supported me, good man that he is. Meanwhile, Mum called the Taylor Centre and repeated verbatim what I had said to her, which was that I was going to write what I needed to, make the calls I needed to, and then go kill myself. The Taylor Centre, to their credit, decided to send someone over in the next couple of hours. And so the process with them begins again.

When the Taylor Centre people arrived, Nigel was there. I spoke to them, and they started talk of how I needed to practice more problem solving. Nigel intervened and told them that he had never seen me so fragile before, and that keeping myself safe was just not going to be practical. It was only when he spoke that they took me seriously.

What is it with mental health services and minimising the voice of the patient unless they have an advocate?

They Taylor Centre said they would talk about my case and get back to me in the evening. Which they did, but they smoothly talked me out of the hospital where I would be safe, and elected to give me enough benzos to knock a horse off its feet. I took those benzos at 9pm, and here it is, midnight, and I’m writing this to distract myself from writing goodbyes.

I don’t know what to do here. All that’s in me screams to keep writing, so I can check that off the list and it’s shorter so I can through more of it next time the impulse and the opportunity arise.

It’s very simple really. I want to die. Life’s downs are far more common that its ups, and the ups that I get, the hypomanic highs, destroy my life over and over. What does it matter whether this low is the one that kills me, or the next, or the next? I may as well go before I hurt more people. Yes yes I know, dying will hurt people, but it’s inevitable sometime and living is hurting a fair swathe of people too.

I’m going through all the motions of rebuilding my life, but I don’t believe in any of it. The black dog alternates between sitting on my shoulder and gripping me by the throat with iron jaws, shaking and trying to rip that throat out. One day he’ll win. Why not now?

An update for those cheering on from the sidelines

For those playing along in the ‘what shit has fallen on Judith’s head this time’ stakes at home, the last three months have been pretty off the wall. I went manic and lost everything, is the short version. The long version is considerably longer!

About four months ago, mania reared its ugly head, with its favourite companions restlessness, agitation, and hypersexuality. This went about as well as can be expected, and as of July 1st I lost my husband. I had to start my life over again, and that was hellishly expensive. All the debt I’d crawled out from under in my time of being married fell on me again like a tonne of bricks. So I’m . . . fiscally challenged, shall we say. But I still had my job, so there was a way through this.

‘Had’ being the operative word. I parted ways with my employer on September 22nd. I’d had some inkling something was wrong, but it was still unexpected. I now have a few weeks to find a job, before my savings run out and I lose my apartment. I don’t know what happens from there. It’s a 13-week stand down for the dole, and I don’t have 13 weeks of savings. Perhaps I should chuck in the apartment now and go live in a hostel where it’s cheaper? That would stretch my savings further.

On the child front, the child that I got the hellishly expensive apartment as a sanctuary for has decided that she doesn’t want to live with me any more, but she wants me to fly down every 2-3 weeks to see her :/ . I have a bunch of flights already booked and paid for, but once they are done I don’t know if I have the resources to keep doing that. It all depends on me getting a good job, fast. Which in turn involves the investment of money – I need to get my hair dyed back to a natural colour, from blurple. It’s not as easy as just colouring over or lifting the dye out – I need to get it professionally done or I’ll turn green.

The other child? Oh sweet mother of Jesus. Her new diagnostic papers have her with Valproate Syndrome, ADHD, and a provisional diagnosis of being on the autism spectrum. Holy shit. It feels like a weight has been lifted, as something I’ve been saying for years is vindicated, and then dropped back down, as I realise that she’s not just a little special, and she needs a lot more help than she’s getting. On the school from they’re putting a ‘behaviour plan’ in place as she gets more and more unmanageable in the wake of the split. How far that is from disciplinary action is not entirely clear, but her teacher seems to be of the opinion that she’s deliberately defiant, not just not understanding. This may be true, but on the other hand, with the autism diagnosis, what new things do we need to understand about her? What new ways do we need to devise to deal with her? These are important questions, and I feel like they’re already not handling the ADHD diagnosis well, so I worry about how well the school can really cope with her. We have referrals to child mental health for her in the works, maybe that will help? She was also kicked out of after school care for the rest of the term, but with any luck she will be ok when she goes back next term, because otherwise I’ll have to be a mother from 3-6pm every day, and that’s not ideal for getting a job.

On top of all this, I had a series of seizures, after about 5 years seizure free, and now I’m back to not being able to drive and trying to get my anticonvulsant medications right again.

In better news, I’m seeing someone, who is rather sweet and lovely. I don’t know how this will play out, as there are significant challenges in our future, but this sensible, sweet man is who I need to stay grounded in this moment.

So that’s what’s new in my world. The shit hit the fan, and it’s currently still spraying out in all directions. I’m waiting for the next blow. Death of a friend or family member? Inability to get a job? Child kicked out of after school care, or worse, out of school? Troubles with the other child? There’s so many ways the shit could splatter, most of which I haven’t even thought of yet but will kick myself for not foreseeing earlier. I just have to roll with it and hold on, hoping that it gets better.

Sexual assault happens to people you know

It happened to me. Four times I have been raped, the most recent only a bit more than a week ago. This is my story and my feelings. It is graphic and confronting – take care of your own mental space if you read this.

I am happily married to a monogamous man, but I am polyamorous. For a long time I have been burying that part of me, but with a recent bout of hypomania it has resurfaced. I struggle to love just one person, and my husband has been very understanding about this. Thus, recently I began dating again.

I made the call to try Tinder, and initially it worked really well. I was looking for casual hookups that I hoped would sometimes develop into friendships that would last, and this has happened. But the world is a dangerous place, and it was only a matter of time before  met someone who was not as good a human being as I credit them for.

I met Suman in a hotel off Queen Street, and he was incredibly respectful and caring. I was running late because of family stuff, and he was considerate and understanding. He had a clear understanding of consent – he asked if it was ok to hug me, to take my sweatshirt off, everything. He was the most respectful man I have ever had the pleasure to meet, and we had very nice vanilla sex.

He got up, and pulled out a pipe and some pot. I figured, why not, he’s a bit tense and this will relax him. He had admitted to having OCD and anxiety, and to smoking pot quite often to help deal with it. We went outside, and smoked up. I had only a little, but he drew deep and often. Before long he was buzzing and floating, happy as anything, and relaxed. We went back to the room.

As soon as we walked into the room, things changed. I took off my boots and stood up, and he wrenched my clothes off and threw me onto the bed. I was scared, and I froze up. What happened next is a mess of flashes. I can’t put it in any logical order. He forced me to go down on him, grabbing my by the hair and forcing me deeper and deeper until I choked. He pulled me by the hair til I lay on my back again and choked me. He slapped me. He bit me, and the bruises are yet to fade. He licked me all over, and that makes my skin crawl. He masturbated over my body, dripping sweat all over me. He penetrated me. All this, while I pretended to enjoy it so that I could get out of there in one piece.

Perhaps I should have said no, perhaps I should have fought. I was terrified, though, not knowing how far his violence was going to go. I shouldn’t have to excuse not fighting a sexual assault though – it’s not on me, it’s on him.

Finally, he collapsed, buzzing out, and I gave him the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert to watch. It was perfect, he was enthralled, and I got dressed and left.

I got home, threw everything I was wearing in the wash, and showered and scrubbed the sweat and stench of him off my flesh. Twenty minutes in the shower, and I felt clean enough to step out and begin the road to healing.

My husband has been amazing through this, supportive and loving. I proceeded into a four-day bender, kicked off at a wonderful friend’s place who helped me write a note to Suman telling him why I would never see him again. She poured me G&Ts until the pain was numbed, then another friend took me to dinner and poured cider down my throat.

That night, a lovely man helped me get totally plastered in a safe place, and showed me respect and kindness. It was the first step in trusting again, and I am grateful to him for how he treated me that night. The following days were spent in Wellington, soaking in wine and tequila and being cared for by wonderful women and men, and my journey continued.

Thank you to all of the people that have helped me to move forward. I’m not going to name you all, because some will want to remain unnamed and I’ll inevitably forget someone wonderful and important but I am ever grateful and I love you all.

There have been questions raised about going to the police, and it’s simply not going to happen. I know what it’s like, I’ve seen people go through it and supported them, and I will not risk my mental wellbeing for it. I will brook no condemnation for this decision. It is mine alone to make.

To the men who accept that I’m a bit broken, and deal with my freakouts and freezing up when they touch a trigger they didn’t know existed, thank you and thank you again. You’re helping me heal, and I value you deeply. To the women who have listened as I poured my heart out, you are my rocks and I appreciate you. You stand in the swirling waters of my emotions, and you hold me tight. It is wonderful beyond measure.

I will not let this stop me loving and trusting. I have known for a long time that there is no such thing as a completely safe person, after my oldest friend raped me. I choose to trust and to love, deeply and passionately. I will not let this change my heart.