Tag Archives: PTSD

Trapped

I think it’s the feeling trapped that’s worst for me.  Feeling like I can’t get out and I can’t say no.

My NP was not insensitive or ruthless.  I think my post yesterday made her sound that way, and she wasn’t.  It just felt that way to me, and my feelings do not always reflect reality.  In reality, she was kind and understanding.  I know she recognized that the discussion about an exam triggered me.  I mean, we went from joking about Star Trek and debating the merits of particular knitting patterns (seamless sweater patterns FTW) at the beginning of the appointment to me staring at the floor and giving one or two word answers.  She knows I have a history of sexual abuse, although she doesn’t know the severity.  (She may have guessed from the severity of my reactions that it was pretty bad, but we haven’t discussed any details.)

She tried to make me more comfortable with it.  She said she wouldn’t do an internal exam because she knew I couldn’t do that (yet).  She said I could bring someone with me, and they could stay with me but not see anything.  (I didn’t tell her I’m so pathetic I don’t have anyone to bring.)  She said some people take Valium or Ativan right before the appointment.  She even said that if I couldn’t do an exam, we could just talk about how things were going with the Nexplanon.  She said it was my choice.

But for me, it never feels like what happens to my body is my choice.  I lose the ability to say no to people in positions of power and authority.  It feels like they’re going to do whatever they want to me anyway, so it’s better to agree to it.  Then they don’t get mad, so they don’t hurt you as bad.  So I say yes and okay when what I mean is I’m so scared you’re going to hurt me, and I really need you to be kind and gentle with me, and I need you to make me feel safe.  Since I can’t say what I really need to say, it never feels safe.  It never feels like my choice.  No choice, no voice.

I felt trapped in that exam room yesterday.  I guess I could’ve said, “I’m sorry, I just can’t deal with this right now.  I need to go.”  Or I could’ve said, “I’m feeling really overwhelmed, and I’m starting to dissociate.”  Or I could’ve said, “I’m trying to work with you, but I need you to slow down even more with me.”  Someone could’ve said those things, but I don’t think I could’ve.  It was taking everything I had not to go into a total dissociative shutdown.  My vision kept going blank, and I kept blinking over and over to bring it back.  My ears were ringing.  I couldn’t be articulate; one or two words or a nod was all I could get out.  And then she wanted me to look at her when I said I’d come back in three months, and I don’t think she understood why I couldn’t make eye contact.

People who don’t live with the extreme shame can never quite understand it.  It doesn’t make sense to them.  They don’t understand the intensity and persistence of the shame of someone else abusing me, even once I’ve accepted and come to believe that it wasn’t my fault.  Then there’s the shame of having a body, which is impossible to explain since everyone has one, and I don’t find other people’s bodies shameful.  The shame of not having anyone close or trusted enough to bring with me for an appointment.  I couldn’t explain my shame that instead of being my normally intelligent, articulate, adult self, I couldn’t help shutting down and turning into a terrified, barely-verbal child.  None of that makes sense to normal people.

I was trapped.  In my reality, I couldn’t leave or say no.  I couldn’t even communicate the depth of my distress, so I was completely alone with it.  And now I’m alone with the aftermath.  The acute trigger has subsided, but I’m still feeling raw and vulnerable.  Body memories, phantom touches, intrusive thoughts and memories, severe anxiety about an appointment that’s not for three months.  A feeling that I was violated, even though I know I wasn’t.  And the incredible shame crushing my chest.

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Leave Me Alone

My case manager keeps calling me.  I’ve been avoiding her for the last few weeks because I just can’t fake it anymore, and I’m afraid if she sees how bad things are, I’ll get hospitalized.  That whole agency is really enthusiastic about hospitalizing people, and I feel like I can’t trust any of them.

I mean, they haven’t exactly done anything that would inspire trust.  This case manager’s not quite as bad as the last one, but she’s still pretty much useless.  The sum total of what she’s done for me in the months I’ve been seeing her is that she brought me one housing application and took me grocery shopping once.  Pretty fucking impressive case management, huh?  I still have no therapist.  I’m still constantly broke, behind on all my bills, with no hope of ever catching up.  I’m still effectively housebound.  But hey, she took me grocery shopping once, so clearly they’re rendering highly effective mental health services.

I want to pick up the phone the next time she calls and scream, “Stop fucking calling me!  You’re not going to help me, so just leave me the fuck alone!”  I want to lash out.  I want to make her hurt because I hurt worse, and instead of helping like she’s supposed to, she just leaves me to suffer alone.  I mean, she’s never once asked about my symptoms or how I’m coping.  Nothing beyond the rote, “Hey, how’s it going?” when I first see her.

Eventually I’m going to have to answer the phone or she’ll send the cops after me.  That would trigger the hell out of me, and I’d probably end up in the hospital.  Of course, if I try to terminate, she could use that as “proof” that I’m refusing necessary treatment (hah, what fucking treatment?) and get the cops to drag me off to the hospital.  It feels like I’m screwed no matter what I do.  I just can’t keep seeing her and acting like everything’s okay, knowing that if I said things weren’t okay, the only additional services I’d get would be hospitalization.  I can’t see her because I just want to scream at her.

I don’t know why I’m so angry at her.  I don’t like the person it turns me into: it makes me want to hurt her, to make her cry.  I don’t like the part of me that makes me want to take out my pain on other people.  There’s no reason for me to be this angry at her.  I mean, I don’t even want to hurt my father like this anymore, and the things he did to me were far worse.  I want to destroy this nice but useless woman, and I don’t even understand why I hate her this much.

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Drowning in Triggers

It feels like they’re everywhere right now.

My mother wants to talk about Ferguson and how people just need to take personal responsibility because clearly that would solve all the problems.  My sister the cop posts an “I support Darren Wilson” badge on Facebook.  She wants her department to have more riot gear to crush the race riots she thinks are inevitable.

These are two people who know–know–what cops can and will do to people who can’t defend themselves.  They’ve seen it; they’ve lived it.  Just like I have.

My father, my mother’s first husband, was a cop.  He sexually abused and raped me for sixteen years.  He hit me.  He nearly drowned me in a bathtub when I was three years old.  He regularly suffocated me, though I don’t know whether it was to keep me quiet during the abuse or to make me think he would kill me or both.  He put his gun to my head more than once.  He made me watch him kill my dog.  He forced me to choose whether he’d rape me or my sister.  He let his criminal justice students rape us too.  And he taught me that no one would ever believe me if I told because he was a cop and I was nothing.

My mother doesn’t know the details, but my sister the cop does–she lived it too.  I sheltered her from as much of it as I could, but she still got hurt badly.  She was the one who told, originally.  I would’ve gone on denying it forever because I needed to have one parent who didn’t hurt me, but once she disclosed, I had to support her.  She’s my sister.

We tried to have him investigated–well, my mother did, really.  I don’t recall her ever asking me or my sister if that’s what we wanted.  It was a complete joke.  No jurisdiction wanted it.  The abuse occurred across three states and several cities, so no one wanted it.  Everyone said it was someone else’s jurisdiction because who wants to investigate the cop-turned-criminal-justice-professor?  Finally, the Iowa State Police took the case.  They wouldn’t talk to me at all because I’m crazy.  They interrogated my sister, who would’ve been 16 or 17 at that point, until she threw up in a trash can.  They polygraphed my father, got an inconclusive result (OMG, a cop might know how to fake the notoriously unreliable polygraph?  Inconceivable!), and dropped the whole case.  Welcome to the Blue Wall of Silence, where victims don’t matter because cops have all the power.

Do they really not see the connection?  Do they really not think that giving people nearly unlimited power over people’s lives, freedom, and even bodily integrity with almost no oversight is dangerous?  Do they really not understand that the system that let Darren Wilson shoot Michael Brown and abuse protesters and journalists is the same system that let our father get away with raping us for 16 years?  How can they not see that?

I feel so, so alone in all of this.

And then there’s Bill Cosby.  Another upstanding citizen who gets away with sexually assaulting women for years because he’s such a nice guy and has influence and power.  It’s all the same: the victims don’t matter because the rapists are such nice guys, you know, aside from all the rape.

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I’m Still Here

For now, at least.  I’m just tired of talking.  It doesn’t seem to get me anywhere; it just leaves me feeling more alone and hopeless.

Everyone wants to tell me I should live, and honestly, I just can’t take hearing it anymore.  That probably makes me an asshole, but I guess that doesn’t really matter anymore.  Maybe you’re seeing who I really am now, when I can’t keep up appearances anymore.  Maybe you’ll hate me.  Maybe it’ll make you understand why I can’t live.

I’m tired of people trying to fix me and solve my problems.  I’m pretty damn smart, okay?  And I’m pretty damn resourceful.  If there were resources to be found, solutions to be invented, I would’ve figured them out already.  I’m tired of being polite when people suggest the same things over and over.  Yes, I’m on disability and food stamps and Medicare and Medicaid, I’ve applied for energy assistance, I’m on the waiting list for housing, I’ve been to the food banks, I’ve tried the buses, I can’t afford paratransit.  I’ve tried forums and self-help books and support groups and CBT and DBT and EMDR and psychoanalysis and ECT and the Department of Mental Health and Community-Based Flexible Support.  I’ve been to respite, the ER, more psych units than I can count, two trauma units.  I’ve gone to church and prayed and mediated and done yoga and changed my diet.  I’ve been on antidepressants, anxiolytics, mood stabilizers, stimulants, and anti-psychotics.  I’ve taken 5-ASA’s and steroids and chemo and immunosuppressants and biologics.  I’ve consulted psychiatrists and chiropractors and reiki masters and neurosurgeons and physical therapists and acupuncturists and gastroenterologists.

Nothing helps enough to make my life survivable.

You can’t fix me because I’m too many problems to solve.  It’s depression and complex PTSD and DID.  It’s ulcerative colitis and hearing loss and brain surgery and mobility impairment.  It’s disability and isolation and poverty.

And you can’t solve just one because they’re just a big knotted mess.  You can’t untangle one thread from another; they’re all felted together now, and there’s no extricating them.  And nobody can fix the whole big mess.  Not even me.  I did everything I was supposed to do.  I tried so hard for so long, and things just get worse.  Now, I just can’t try anymore.

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Dis-integrated

C wants me to have a sit-down with my landlady and my roommate.  It makes perfect sense, except…well, I don’t know if I can.

I’m in PTSD hell, and I just can’t deal with anything else right now.  It’s too many triggers all at once–the bar thing last weekend and now this bullshit drama.  And I have nowhere to turn, no way to process any of it.

I know that if we have a meeting, one of two things will happen.  Possibility one: I will switch to a terrified child part who will just apologize and try to make nice or will freeze and shut down because she can’t handle conflict–it’ll all be about avoiding the abuse that comes with conflict.  (I know, the two aren’t always linked, but in this case, roommate has actually been verbally aggressive, even though it was indirect, so this fear is not invalid.)  The other possibility is that I’ll switch to the angry teenage part who will just want to verbally annihilate the roommate and is very well capable of it.  That would be the part who posted the gif post yesterday–the one who’s just like, “Bitch plz.  I am stronger and smarter and a whole lot goddamn scarier than you are, and if you wanna know what a REAL threat looks like, I’ll fucking show you.”

I know that, at this point, given my levels of stress, panic, and dissociation, I won’t be able to stay me without switching.  C asked me today which part of me could deal with the situation, and the truth is there’s nobody.  We’re triggered in different ways and by different aspects of the situation, but we’re all triggered.  That seems to be the way it usually works in my system–the boundaries between us are not rigid, so the responses to situations blur together too.  What affects one of us almost always affects all of us.

It’s times like these that I really need a therapist.  I need someone who can help me sort out the triggers and get all of us more grounded in the present.  I need to be able to integrate the child parts’ desire to be nice and not hurt roommate with the teenage part’s “I’m above this and you can’t hurt me with your stupid drama” sense of self-assurance.  I know they’re parts of me, and I can see them and feel their feelings, but I can’t integrate them into me, and I can’t manage to stay present when I even hear or think about the roommate, so I know I won’t be able to if we sit down face to face.

I know what I need to be able to do to manage this meeting, but I have no idea how to get there.  It feels really hopeless and terrifying right now.

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Triggers

Sorry I’ve been absent.  I have been/still am really triggered, and I haven’t been able to read–blogs or anything else longer than a few sentences.  Still really struggling and not sure I’ll be able to write coherently.

See, Thursday we went to Boston for a post-election party.  I thought it was just going to be the party, an overnight at someone’s place in Boston, and then home.  Instead it turned into bar-hopping with the campaign staff.  If you’re thinking that sounds like fun, you’re wrong.  See, alcohol is a trigger for me because my father was often drunk when he abused me.  Between the UC and the meds, I can’t drink.  Well, everybody else is getting fucking wasted, and they just leave me sitting in a corner by myself for hours, not even talking to me.  I told my RFD that I’m not physically capable of running all around Boston, and it was raining to boot.  Usually he’s really considerate about my limitations, but that night, he really didn’t seem to give a shit.  Maybe it was the alcohol, or maybe it was just that it was his last night with the rest of the campaign staff.  Whatever it was, he basically treated me like I didn’t matter–I got dragged to four different bars, and predictably, I eventually fell on a slick sidewalk at 1:30 in the morning and couldn’t get up for several minutes.  Oh, and for most of the time we were bar-hopping, our 20-year-old intern was just left sitting in his car because she couldn’t get into the bars.  I wanted to go sit with her instead, but my RFD made me stay because his phone was dead, and he needed my GPS to find our way back to where the car was parked.

In the second bar, while I was sitting alone in the corner, the only sober person, this drunk businessman in a nice suit comes over and starts hitting on me.  Then he grabbed my breast, and I just froze.  I just sat there and let him.  I have extensive martial arts experience, and even though I’m not physically capable of as much as I used to be, I could’ve gotten away from him.  If nothing else, I could’ve hit him with my cane.  But I didn’t do any of that.  I didn’t say no, I didn’t say stop.  I just sat there and let him do it.

Now I really hate myself.  It’s just like with my father.  I mean, okay, when I was a kid, there wasn’t really anything I could do about it.  Even as I got a little older, he had me believing that he’d kill me if I fought or if I told anyone, and I didn’t have the reasoning skills to realize he wouldn’t have gotten away with that–he’s really just not smart enough.  So back then, I had an excuse.  But I let it go on when I was old enough that I knew he wouldn’t kill me and I really could’ve stopped him.  I mean, I was 19 the last time he raped me.  There’s no excuse for that.  I just let him.  If I’d fought or said no, he probably would’ve stopped, but I never did.  So that’s on me.

Now I just want to tear myself to shreds.  I want to cut my breasts off–I never wanted them anyway, and if I did that, no one would want to touch me.  I’m also really struggling with sexual self-harm urges.  It’s something I used to do but haven’t in a long time.  But I can’t stop the flashbacks and the body memories, and it would put me back in control.  I know how fucked-up that is, but sometimes it’s the only thing that works.  If I do something worse that any of them ever did to me, then what they did can’t hurt me anymore.

And on top of everything else, my roommate is being horrible.  I came home to a gross apartment–mold in my microwave, a half-empty beer on the kitchen counter, an unflushed toilet, and sopping wet washcloths and a giant hairball in the bathtub.  I just pulled the washcloths and hairball out of the tub and dumped them on the bathroom floor, and this morning, she pitched a hissy fit over it, stomping around and slamming doors and shit.  (Another big trigger, on top of all the other triggers.)  I’m sorry, but you’re fucking 29 years old, and I’m not your goddamned maid.  I pay rent too.  I don’t mind messiness–books and papers and stuff sitting around is not a big deal, but I don’t want fucking mildew growing in my bathroom or mold growing in my kitchen.  In general, I don’t want things growing in my living space.  (Although right now growing some pot for myself sounds pretty ideal.)  How fucking hard is it to dump out the rest of your beer or to hang up your fucking washcloths?  But EVERY FUCKING DAY when I go to take a shower, there they are.  I don’t leave my shit for you to clean up, and you have the goddamn nerve to pitch a fit when I move your messes somewhere obvious as a reminder that maybe you should, you know, be a fucking adult and clean them the fuck up?  Bitch, get on the NOPE train to Fuckthatville.

My landlady is away for the weekend, but I’m thinking about talking to her about this when she gets back.  I’m hesitant to do that on the one hand, because I feel like we’re both adults and should handle our own problems.  But on the other hand, I’m so triggered by her screaming and slamming doors and stomping around that I literally CAN’T deal with it like an adult because I dissociate and switch, either to a terrified child or a really aggressive teenager (hence all the swearing in the last few paragraphs), neither of which is good for dealing with a tense situation.  Plus, if I do want to kick her out, I’m going to have to go through my landlady because Roommate is on the lease now.  I’m not even sure I legally CAN kick her out.  I just know I can’t deal with much more of this.  I’ve been taking photos of the grossness when it happens as documentation, but I’m not sure what the laws are.  I just know I can’t live like this.  I spend a lot of my time afraid to come out of my room when she’s home because I will snap if she starts yelling or bitching at me.  I just have so much other shit to deal with that I really cannot deal with hers on top of everything else.

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Stress

All the pre-election stress is kind of getting to me right now, unfortunately.

I got through a very long day, but I didn’t finish all the things I needed to finish.  I’ve already got a list of things to do tomorrow that I know I won’t get through, and I know my RFD and FO are just going to keep adding more and more to it.  And EVERYTHING is top priority.  They’re throwing things at me constantly.  One will ask me to do something that needs to be done ASAP, so I’ll stop what I was already working on to do the new task.  Then the other will ask me when I’m going to be finished with the first task.

To be fair, they’re not angry or mean about it or anything, and they’re working just as hard too.  And I think some of it’s due to my utter lack of working memory–I honestly cannot hold more than one thing in my mind at once without things falling through the cracks, and I’m being asked to hold 15 things in mind at once.

There’s also a power bill I can’t pay.  And I don’t know how I’m going to pay it next month either.  Every month, I’m just getting farther and farther underwater.

And I’m really triggered by a discussion on a forum that got taken over rape apologists who think it’s perfectly acceptable to make women totally responsible for rape prevention.  Seriously, if you ever feel the need to mansplain rape prevention, just fucking don’t.  And the mods/admins won’t do anything about it.  They don’t care that this is creating a hostile, triggering environment for survivors of abuse and rape.

And I’m pretty sure my PMDD is kicking in.

Right now I just want to do something, anything, to turn off all these fucking feelings.  I want to cut or OD or binge and purge, or something.  Just make it stop.

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“Just a little easier.”

I never imagined at $55,000 a year, I’d have trouble making ends meet. And my wife brings in another 25. My son’s in public school. It’s no good. I mean, there’s 37 kids in the class, uh, no art and music, no advanced placement classes. Other kids, their mother has to make them practice the piano. You can’t pull my son away from the piano. He needs teachers. I spend half the day thinking about what happens if I slip and fall down on my own front porch, you know? It should be hard. I like that it’s hard. Putting your daughter through college, that’s-that’s a man’s job. A man’s accomplishment. But it should be a little easier. Just a little easier. ‘Cause in that difference is… everything.

–The West Wing, “20 Hours in America”

Tonight/last night (it gets fuzzy; I’m not sleeping again) was good.  We had a Get Out the Vote (GOTV) summit for the coordinated campaign, and I finally feel like I’m back in the loop again.  It turns out that I was right–I basically got lost in the shuffle when things got rearranged for the coordinated campaign.  The field organizer I’d been working with got shifted out toward central Mass, and they pulled the field organizer from that part of central mass out here to western Mass.  (Don’t ask what the logic is there.  I have no idea.  Welcome to campaign life.)  But we have a dry run this weekend, and I’m all signed up for that.

Plus, I snagged some rally signs for my Halloween costume.  I’m going to be a yard sign, and on my back it’s going to say, “I’m a yard sign.  I can’t vote, so go knock some doors.”  I haaaaate yard signs, and the old guard organizers in my area are obsessed with them.  They started in on it tonight, and I wanted to stand up in a chair and yell, “LET ME TELL YOU A THING.  Yard signs do not work in anything bigger than small-town school board elections.  I don’t care that you think they work because I can cite four peer-reviewed studies that say you’re just WRONG, so please, for the love of the old gods and the new, can we SHUT UP about yard signs?”  I didn’t, of course.  I just covered my mouth and laughed silently until they shut up.  And then some guy started in on, “When I was in Bangkok, they advertised on the ice cream trucks that would drive around all the neighborhoods.”  At that point I had to excuse myself to the bathroom because ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS I CAN’T EVEN.  Just because you’ve been working on campaigns for the last 60 years doesn’t mean you actually know what you’re doing.  The demographics have shifted, the technology has shifted, and we have lots of studies proving that the things we’re asking you to do work and the things you want us to let you do don’t work.

Political organizing has taught me many things, but patience is probably not one of them.  I mean, I can tolerate it, but not especially well.  And at some point, something snarky would slip out of my mouth because sometimes I just can’t contain it.  Like, “Hey, this is not Bangkok in 1955,” or “If you mention yard signs one more time, I will impale you on one and you can be the yard sign.”  This is also why I’d never get elected to public office.  Remember Joe Biden in the 2012 Veep Debate?  Multiply that by ten and add a bunch of words they’d have to bleep out, and that would be me.  I’d probably be all composed and smart for half of it, and then my opponent would say something really provocative, and I’d slip.  It would be hilarious, but it would make me unelectable.

biden_malarkyJoe Biden is my snarky Platonic soul mate.  But if you think he’s a loose cannon, I promise you, I’d be like a loose…I don’t know, ballistic missile launcher or something.

(I swear I’m not actually a serial killer or anything.  I wouldn’t actually impale anyone.  I just get really sick of people who have no idea what they’re talking about hijacking meetings run by people who do know what they’re talking about.)

Anyway, it was cool because somebody I’d worked with on the Obama campaign in 2012 showed up.  She was our neighborhood team leader, and she became a bit of a surrogate mother figure to me.  We’ve been in touch sporadically–she now runs a pro-choice group–but our paths haven’t crossed in months.  It was really cool to catch up with her.  And she invited me to a meet and greet tomorrow night.  It’s our lieutenant governor candidate, our state senator and representative, and some other state senators and reps.  I’ve met most of them before, at least the ones from my district, but meet and greets are always kind of fun.  But the location is this diner where nobody under 70 goes ordinarily, and they play Fox News.  Interesting choice of venue for a Democratic party event.  *shrugs*

Then, because I was feeling pretty good, I decided I was going to go online and apply to the state university near me to go back and finish my undergrad degree.  They use a common application, so I went to that site and started doing it.  First of all, they want a $75 application fee.  I can’t even pay to heat my house, and that’s almost two weeks’ worth of food.  You can apply for a fee waiver–but your high school guidance counselor has to verify your financial need for a waiver.  I graduated in 2004, for fuck’s sake.  I don’t have a high school guidance counselor.

Then they want your parents’ entire life history.  Well, okay, their educational history.  Which meant I had to Google my father’s resume.  The father who sexually abused, raped, and tortured me for 16 years.  The father who was a cop.  The father who’s now the chair of the criminal justice department at a Midwestern college.  I thought I was going to die from a heart attack–I don’t even want to know how high my heart rate jumped up–but I managed that.

But the final straw was standardized test scores.  You can’t submit the application without test scores, but you can only enter test scores going back to 2009.  I took the SAT and ACT in 2003.  I remember what my scores were, but I don’t have the proof anymore.  And it won’t let me enter them because the dates are invalid.  Oh, and you can’t submit it without contact info for your high school guidance counselor, which, as previously mentioned, I don’t have.

The whole thing is clearly meant for high school kids.  I know I cannot possibly be the only nontraditional student trying to apply to college, but they’ve made the application literally impossible.  I probably shouldn’t have even bothered trying–I’ve been in such a bad place, and I know my sanity is very fragile right now.  But I tried because I’m an idiot, and now I feel totally hopeless.  I feel like the whole world wants me to fail, like they don’t want me to be able to get a degree so I can never get a job that will let me escape poverty.  I feel like they want me to kill myself because I’m a worthless burden on society.  I know that’s crazy, bordering on paranoid, and yet…I can’t convince myself out of believing it.

I hate my brain.  I really, really hate it.

I don’t expect things to be easy.  Like the quote at the top, I think things should be hard.  But not like this.  My life right now is too hard.  It’s impossible for me to succeed.  It’s the Kobayashi Maru, only it’s not a simulation and it doesn’t end once I accept that I can’t fix the impossible situation.  Making my life work should be hard, but it should be just a little easier.  But I don’t have the advantage of running into any White House staffers in a bar who can craft policy inspired by my difficulties.  I barely have a voice, and nobody who has power to change things really notices me, not enough to see how hard things are.

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Hypersensitive?

I don’t know if I’m being hypersensitive or if my roommate is being a passive-aggressive asshole.  Or possibly some of both.

I know I tend to be overly sensitive, especially with people who’ve triggered my PTSD.  Once I’m in that state of heightened alert, everything seems like a potential threat.  I know I’ve been wound up more than usual since her screaming-on-the-phone-and-banging-around-for-hours thing a few days ago.  My anxiety’s been through the roof, and my depression has been worse than usual.

Then this morning I get this text: “Not to be a pain or anything cuz I’m sure your [sic] busy knitting or something but my older sister is stopping by tomorrow night for dinner so I’d appreciate it if there was some type of usable communal space on the counters or living area so that I can be able to cook and quite frankly I’m not going to make her eat in my bedroom.”

I’ll ignore the blatant abuse of the English language here, but this whole thing comes off as really snide to me.

For starters, half the crap on the counters is hers.  Yeah, I had some empty boxes and stuff, but that took all of about 30 seconds to get rid of.  I’ll wash the dishes I left out.  No big deal.  Meanwhile, has she cleaned up any of her stuff off the counter?  NOPE.  Has she even taken the trash or recycling out a single time?  NOPE.

biden_cameralook

I told her from the get-go that I’m disabled and can’t always do a lot around the house.  I never made that any kind of secret.  In the three weeks she’s been living here, I’ve had three doctors’ appointments and an ER visit, so it’s not like she doesn’t know I’ve been sick.  The fatigue has been really bad the last few days, and I’ve barely managed to make it from my bed to the bathroom without passing out.  Doing anything more than that has been virtually impossible.  Still, I cleaned the bathroom last night, on my hands and knees, because it was gross, and I didn’t want her to have to live with it.

This morning, I tried to clean up more, but I had to sit my butt down on the kitchen floor because I was about to pass out.  And if you’ve ever tried to sweep or mop while using a cane, you’ll know that’s pretty much impossible.  So if she wants to floor clean, she can damn well do it herself.  As far as I can tell, she’s done no cleaning since she moved here.  Ordinarily, that’s not a huge deal to me as long as things don’t get gross.  But then she wants to act like it’s all me?

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(Yes, I think I am going to illustrate this whole post with Joe Biden gifs because of reasons.)

But I think what really got me was the line, “I’m sure you’re busy knitting or something.”  I don’t know how to read that as anything but bitchy and passive-aggressive.

biden_no

Again, this is a case of, “You knew from the get-go that I’m disabled.”  I never hid that.

Most of me wants to jump in with, “Nah, bitch, I’m organizing a third of the state for a fucking election in two weeks, much of which, yes, I do from home.  But that doesn’t mean it’s not fucking real or important.”

But the truth is I haven’t been doing much organizing the last couple weeks because I’ve been too sick and fatigued.  And you know what?  That’s fucking okay.  I don’t have to justify my goddamn existence with what I do.  I get that she has a regular nine-to-five job, and I don’t.  But that doesn’t make me any less of a person.  It doesn’t make me any less worthy of respect or compassion.  Just because I don’t get a paycheck the same way she does doesn’t mean that what I do isn’t also important.

biden_factsmatter

(I do have Biden gifs that aren’t from the 2012 VP debate, but that debate was just so glorious.)

But I have Chronic Nice Girl Syndrome, so I’ll go clean the whole kitchen and living room, do all the dishes, and pretend like none of this bothers me.  I’m so afraid of conflict that I’ll literally sacrifice my health to make Roommate happy.

But after this, I’m done.  She’s done no housework, so I’m not going to either.  Eventually she’ll get the point, or so I hope.  Just because she has a regular job and I don’t, that doesn’t make me automatically responsible for all the cleaning for an apartment we use equally.  If she’s not going to do any work, then I’m sure as hell not going to either, especially since it takes much more of a physical toll on me than it does on her.

biden_dealwithit

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When you least expect it

I’d thought I was doing really well handling my PTSD symptoms.  Turns out I’m only actually good at handling them when there are no triggers.

All morning, my roommate has been yelling at her parents on the phone, banging around the apartment, slamming doors.  These are major triggers for me.  These were the things that came right before my mother’s rages.  Then there would be hours of her screaming at me, telling me I was a terrible person, telling me I was ruining her life.  Sometimes she’d hit me.  Sometimes she’d throw things at me.  Often, she’d threaten suicide and blame me for it.  Then she’d disappear–sometimes for hours, sometimes for days.  I would be left alone with my sisters, and I never knew if she was coming back or if she’d actually kill herself this time.  I’d do the best I could to take care of my sisters–we ate a lot of cereal, sandwiches, and macaroni and cheese because those were the only things I could cook.  I made sure we all got on the bus on time in clean clothes.  I didn’t know exactly what would happen if any grown-ups found out my mother kept disappearing, but I knew it wouldn’t be good.  I hid it all, but I was a child.  Children aren’t really very good at hiding things, but no one noticed because they didn’t want to notice.  When I was ten and my depression got so bad I couldn’t function in school, when I tried to kill myself the first time (albeit very ineptly), no one ever investigated why such a young child was so severely depressed.  No one investigated what was going on in my life, and I couldn’t tell.

I was left completely alone with a situation too huge for me to deal with, but I didn’t have any choice.  I didn’t have any way out.

And that’s how I feel now, even though I know it’s old trauma stuff.  My roommate is not actually going to hurt me, and even if she tried, I know how to take care of myself.  But my heart is racing, and I can’t stop shaking.  Every noise makes me jump.  I have my earbuds in with music on, but that only helps a little.  It becomes overstimulating–sound is the worst for me, for some reason–but that’s better than listening to my roommate.  I’ve done all the grounding stuff, and I’m not dissociating–but I don’t feel safe.   I really need to get something to eat, but I can’t leave my bedroom.  I can’t deal with seeing her or talking to her.

I really, really wish I could afford to live alone.  I do so much better that way.  Living with people is triggering, even if they’re people I’m comfortable with.  I just never feel entirely safe when there’s someone else in my space.  Roommate is nice enough, but it turns out she’s kind of immature and a drama queen.  From what I can gather, she’s having some kind of dental problem, and she’s upset because her parents didn’t call her or come take care of her.  I mean, she’s almost 30.  I try not to be judgmental of people’s distress, but when her distress is so out of control that it causes me distress, I lose tolerance.  I mean, I nearly died when I first got sick with UC, and there was literally no one there for me.  I was 500 miles away from home and 600 miles away from my family, and my family wouldn’t have been terribly concerned even if I’d been right next door.  My mother didn’t take care of me when I was sick as a child, let alone as an adult.  It sucks, yes.  It hurts when our parents don’t take care of us the way we need them to.  But you grow up and deal with it as best you can.  You don’t spend hours screaming about it.  You acknowledge that it sucks, but then you take care of yourself as best you can.

I hope this screaming and crap doesn’t become a long-term issue with Roommate.  I really cannot deal with that, at all.  Somebody just buy me my own place so I never have to live with anyone again.  Those tiny houses are pretty cool; I could go for one of them.  Just as long as it’s mine.

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