Tag Archives: triggers

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.

Advertisements

10 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

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.

15 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

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.

19 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Intrusion

I’m feeling frustrated with myself.  In particular, my difficulty setting boundaries is frustrating me.  Also the fact that everything is triggering me right now, even things that wouldn’t ordinarily trigger me.

I think the trigger for all of this was a visit from ICM today.  She sprung a surprise “health and safety” inspection on me.  It sounds innocuous when I write it, but for me it’s not.

Since I got away from my family, having my own space has been critical for my sanity.  When I was growing up, I was allowed privacy only when my parents decided I did.  My father would come into my bedroom any time he wanted to molest and rape me.  My mother was, in some ways, worse than him.  She never sexually abused me, but she regularly invaded my privacy under the banner of “for your own good.”  She searched my room, read my journals, monitored my emails.  If I asked for privacy, even as a teenager, she decided that meant I was hiding something and used it as an excuse to invade my privacy even more.  She would frequently take my bedroom and bathroom doors off the hinges, leaving me without any place to use the bathroom, shower, or change clothes without being on display.

So when I got away, having a space that was mine was a novelty.  It became the first outpost of safety for me.  No one could come into my space uninvited, so I was safe.  It was like I could finally breathe for the first time in my life.

Any time my space is invaded, it feels like abuse.  Technically I consented to ICM’s inspection, but it was because I felt like I couldn’t say no.  I have my parents’ compliance training to thank for that, I think.  I felt like I couldn’t say no to ICM, so I let her in, the same way I let my father into my room sometimes.  In both cases, it felt like there was someone in power who was going to do what they wanted regardless of how I felt about it, so it was better to be compliant so you wouldn’t get punished.

The inspection was really demeaning, too.  I mean, for starters, I’m almost 28 years old.  I’ve been living on my own in the world for most of the past 10 years, and no one’s ever suggested I was incapable of that (besides my family, and they don’t count).  But that felt like the entire implication of this inspection.  If my appliances didn’t work, I’d get my landlady or her partner to come fix it.  My kitchen may be cluttered since we have very little cabinet space, but it’s clean, so keep your bitchy comments about “define clean” to yourself.  Yes, my toilet is clean; I take responsibility for that since I spend so much quality time with it.  Yes, my door works just fine–don’t let it hit ya where the good lord split ya.  I had to tell her that no, she could not just walk into my roommates’ bedroom because they don’t know who she is or what she’s doing here, and one or both of them might not be wearing pants.

I did tell her that she couldn’t go in my bedroom, which I guess is something.  But what I wanted to tell her was that she couldn’t come in my house because it’s my house and it’s rude as fuck to just announce that you’re coming to inspect someone else’s house.  I mean, Christ, under state law, landlords are required to give advance notice of rental inspections, so why is it okay for her to just say that she’s doing an inspection today?  She never asked if it was okay.  If she had asked, I probably wouldn’t have been so triggered by it.

But she didn’t ask.  Neither did my mother or my father.  And that’s not okay.

And now I’m in PTSD-land.  It feels like everything’s a trigger, and I’m very on edge.  It frustrates me because I want my ability to identify and understand the trigger to make it stop being a trigger.  It frustrates me that it doesn’t always work like that.  It frustrates me that I can’t logic my way through this.

12 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Triggered, Part 3

Still feeling very triggered and unsafe.  I’ve checked multiple times to make sure all the doors and windows in the apartment are locked.  But the front door to our apartment is flimsy–someone could easily kick it in if they wanted to.  There’s a main door to the house, but the landlady doesn’t even know where the keys to that door are because they never lock it.  This is one of those neighborhoods where people just don’t lock up.  It’s a dead-end street two miles from town, so people don’t really come here by accident.

But this guy was IN SOMEONE’S HOUSE a few doors down.  To be fair, knowing the neighborhood, he could’ve just walked right in through an unlocked door, but I don’t know that’s what happened.  He also could’ve broken in.  And on top of that, my landlady said her car was ransacked over the weekend.  So how often does this creeper wander around here, and WHY?

My sister offered, only half-joking, to give me a gun.  I would never have a gun in my house mostly because I worry about what I might do to myself with it when I’m not doing so well, but right now it sure would make me feel safer.  I’m seriously considering buying a bo staff and/or some other martial arts weapons just to make myself feel safer, but a long stick doesn’t strike fear into people’s hearts the way a pistol would.  Maybe a big knife.  There are enough outdoor stores around here that those should be easy to come by.

I only got a few hours of sleep, and not until it was light outside.  Even with my sleep meds, I mostly just tossed and turned.  I’m exhausted, but I don’t want to go to sleep.

My UC is flaring big-time too.  I had doubted that stress was much of a trigger for me until now because I handled all the campaign stressors without a flare (except the ones caused by going off steroids).  But apparently my body is just so used to that stuff that for it to be stressful enough to trigger a flare, it has to be a major PTSD trigger.  I’ve been to the bathroom 6 times already, and the pain is pretty bad.  Until last night, things had been improving since I’d been back on the steroids and an increased dose of 6-MP.  But apparently dealing with this was stressful enough to overcome the drugs and trigger a flare.  Fun times.  If that guy shows up again, I’m just going to fling shit at him.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Triggered

Some fucker just banged on my window again.  This time I decided that I may be 5’4″ and sick as hell, but I didn’t take years of martial arts classes for nothing–I can defend myself if I need to.  It was some young guy in khakis and a button-down shirt, and he said he was looking for Christina.  I told him no one named Christina lives here.  He just stared at me for a minute and then said he’d wander around and try to find her.  He seemed…I dunno, stoned or something.

I’m trying to decide if I should call the cops.

When I told my landlady about somebody banging on my window a couple weeks ago, she said she thinks the previous tenants were selling drugs, and my bedroom was their bedroom.  But I’ve lived here since January, and I know the apartment was vacant for several months before that because they were renovating the apartment.  Wouldn’t the former tenants’ customers know they’d moved by now?

But I don’t really want to call the cops because then I’d have to deal with my cop issues.  I’m sure I’d do fine in the moment, but I’d fall apart later.  That’s usually how it goes for me with triggers.  People think I’m handling everything great, but then once things calm down, it all goes BOOM.  And I’m already struggling since I found out about my grandmother dying, so I don’t really want to deal with more triggers right now if I don’t have to.  Then again, I also don’t want to worry that I’m going to be raped or murdered in my sleep because I decided not to call the cops.

Okay.  Calm down.  That guy seemed too out of it to really do us any harm.  Plus, one of my roommates is a large guy.  Harmless, but he looks intimidating, and sometimes that’s all that matters.  I’ve locked the front door and the door to my bedroom, so if somebody tries to get in, I’m gonna know about it before they actually get in.  In the morning, I’ll call my landlady and see what she thinks I should do.  If I need to, I can make a police report then.  She also mentioned that there’s a cop who lives two doors down who’s a really nice guy, so maybe he can handle it informally.  I am not going to freak myself out about this tonight.  Well, no more than I have already.  (Yeah, I’m still shaking.)

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Blame

I’m so angry right now I can’t think straight.

A “friend” of mine who I was stupid enough to trust and tell how much I’m struggling has been on my case about going to the hospital.  I said being shamed and treated like I’m less than a person was not what I needed to get better, and she asked why I was so opposed to getting “help.”

So I told her.  I told her about how I’ve been yelled at for self-harming or being suicidal.  How a doctor refused to suture a cut that clearly needed it because he had “real patients who didn’t cause their own problems.”  How I’ve been strip-searched.  How I’ve been watched while showering and using the toilet.  How I’ve been forced to take medications that made me sicker.  How I’ve been threatened with restraints and worse “treatments” if I refused.  How my attempts to get help have been written off as “attention-seeking” and “manipulative.”

I told her about being in the state hospital.  I told her that one night, another patient came into my room, grabbed me by the throat, and hit me in the face over and over again.  Staff refused me any medical attention (I later found out the woman had broken my nose) and told me to “forget about it and move on because she didn’t know what she was doing.”  No attempt was made to protect me.  I told her that one of my roommates repeatedly sexually assaulted me, but I didn’t tell anyone because I knew they wouldn’t care and wouldn’t help me.

And this “friend” blamed me.

She said I should’ve reported any doctor who treated me poorly.  She said if I’d fought back against the woman who beat me up, she would’ve stopped.  She said I should’ve told someone I was being sexually assaulted and they would’ve stopped it.

She blamed me for all of it.

I’m trying to hang onto believing she’s wrong, believing I did the best I could to survive, believing it wasn’t my fault.  But I’m not doing very well.  Not hanging on very tight.

I want to hit her.  I want to beat the shit out of her.  But that turns almost instantly into wanting to slice myself to ribbons and then kill myself.  This is the hardest thing for me–I try so hard to stop blaming myself for all the traumas, but when someone I trust blames me, I fall apart.  I blocked her email and cell number, but her words keep replaying in my head.  I can’t stop that.

I’m really not okay right now.

18 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Triggered

Really not okay since therapy this morning. Normally I’d call my team leader, but she’s away on vacation. I don’t really feel like I could talk about this with the other people on my team. And it’s almost the weekend, and I’ll be all alone.

I tried taking a nap. I tried knitting. I tried watching DVD’s. I tried playing dumb iPhone games. I tried reading. I tried looking at pictures of cute baby animals. I tried taking a PRN. I’m doing all the things I’m supposed to do, and none of it’s helping.

My head is all chaos and I have a pounding headache that Tylenol doesn’t touch and someone in my head–maybe me, I don’t even know anymore–wants to slice me up because then the feelings would stop.

I wanted to stop freaking out in therapy this morning. I knew I could–I’m good at shutting down feelings, but I didn’t really want to do that. I wanted to survive it and let it pass without doing any lasting damage. That’s what I really want. I keep getting told that the feelings pass, but they never seem to for me. Or at least, it takes a hell of a lot longer for me than other people.

I keep thinking I’m faking it for attention but then why couldn’t I even keep my eyes open. Name three red things in the room, five purple things, four brown things. That’s all she was asking me to do. If I made it all up, then why did that freak me out so much I couldn’t do it?

But why would that freak me out? Why would that freak anyone out? It happened at Sheppard Pratt a bunch of times too. It was terrifying and overwhelming, but I felt like my therapist there would get mad at me if I didn’t do what she said. She’d just keep pushing and pushing, so I’d name whatever things in the room she asked, but there was this rage because she didn’t understand how terrifying it was and I couldn’t tell her. Somebody HATED her, wanted to scream at her whenever she made us open our eyes.

I don’t understand it.

I don’t understand most of what’s going on right now. I think I know what set all these bad feelings off, but I don’t know what the feelings are or why I’m having this specific reaction or how I can survive it.

I just know I hate this.

4 Comments

Filed under psych