Archives for the month of: December, 2013

I have been feeling really weird for the past few days. It seems that my level of dissociation throughout the day has increased to the point where it is noticeable to others. This is worrisome for me, because obviously I don’t want anyone to find out about the problems I have. When people ask about it, I usually just say that I’m tired (which is also true), but I’m sure that people can see through that. My partner is especially able to tell when something is not right, and asked me yesterday if I’ve been dissociating over the past few days. I told her that I have been.

I feel very unreal, like I don’t inhabit my body anymore. Depersonalization is nothing new to me, but it is more bothersome lately. I don’t feel things, and I feel like any display of emotion is forced. I want to be a genuine person and have real experiences, but I live in a fog and operate on autopilot.

I have also been noticing that people are telling me things that I did or said that I cannot remember. Or I’ll think that I’ve done or said something but it turns out I actually haven’t. I go to tell my partner about something, and she looks concerned and says that I told her that yesterday. Or she asks me about something and I wonder how she knows about it. I reference something that I think we’ve had a conversation about, and she is confused. It is frightening to think that I’ve been doing and saying things without remembering.

I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know if I’m getting worse, or if I’m a mess because I’m on break right now. I’ve been sleeping a lot, but I still feel like I could sleep all the time. When I am awake, I am ambivalent in that I want to be a real person, but the trance-like state I can so easily slip into is almost intoxicating. It would be so easy to just curl up and go inside and never come back out of my head. To be alone. I’ve been fantasizing about my partner breaking up with me so I can just be alone all the time, live out the rest of my life in a hazy solitude. Just come out to work my solitary night shifts and then retreat. It would be easier than faking a life and existing among others.

I feel as though I am actually enjoying the holidays this year. I tend to be a bit of a Scrooge, as the stress of getting things ready and spending too much money on gifts and being in crowds shopping is just not my cup of tea. This year, with the help of my partner, I ended up getting my shopping done fairly early and thus was able to avoid the crowds and do a better job of budgeting. In addition, I am still in email contact with my father but not having to deal with him at Christmas is a gift in and of itself. As a young child, I was always expected to buy extravagant gifts for him and all members of his extended family (with my own money, somehow…). And if I screwed up, didn’t buy a nice enough gift or forgot somebody, there were consequences in the form of guilt, emotional abuse, and rages. So this year, I focused on buying thoughtful but not expensive things for people I love and who love me, and it was actually enjoyable.

I am not a Christian, but my family celebrates Christmas (mostly in a secular way, with the exception of my Grandma). My partner’s family does much the same thing. We attended her extended family’s Christmas party over the weekend, and it was pretty nice. There are two uncles that are not so comfortable with the gayness, but they were polite and the rest of the family is fantastic. They obviously love and care about each other. It makes me kind of sad to see all of that love, with no undertones of abuse or controlling behavior, and age-appropriate expectations of the children. Unlike my childhood Christmas parties, the role of the children is not to entertain the adults. The role of the children is to play and have fun with each other, be loud, and break things without being screamed at or shamed. I wish that I had had that as a child; maybe I wouldn’t be so anxious and timid now.

When I think about childhood parties at my father’s house, it is easy to wallow and forget the wonderful things about time at my mother’s house. My mother is very loving, and although she hates Christmas, she always put this aside to make it nice for me and my siblings. Perhaps she was trying to make up for the hell that she knew was waiting for us at our father’s house. In any case, I am taking time today to appreciate her love throughout the years. In addition, she has invited me and my partner to sleep over tonight before my partner goes to her family’s home on Christmas morning. We both have siblings that are ten years younger than us, so although they no longer believe in Santa Claus, the traditions of Christmas are still important to them. Hence our decision to spend Christmas separately with each of our families. For my mother to invite to have us both sleep over is important. She has known that I am gay for a long time, but I think it took her a long time to fully accept and be comfortable with it. She would never have let me sleep over with my partner a year ago (part of the reason for which is that my sister is 15, and she didn’t want to set the precedent that boyfriends/girlfriends would be allowed to sleep over, but I think another part of it was discomfort with us being gay). Both she and my stepfather have been supportive all along, but they have come a long way in their comfort level with it. They both love my partner, and I think they have begun to see us as more of a permanent couple now that we live together and are technically engaged (no wedding plans in sight just yet). I think of us as married already, and I think they do, too. So I am thankful that we will be able to spend Christmas Eve as a family, including my partner.

I know that this can be a very difficult time of year for people. Some are dealing with the holidays with nobody to spend it with. In addition, some sick people choose to use the holidays as ways to abuse others and program them to deal with distressing and painful flashbacks, memories, and urges to hurt themselves every year at this time. I will be thinking about all of those people over the next few days, and although I am not religious, I will be trying to send my most powerful thoughts and prayers to all who are hurting during this time. Much love to you all, you are strong and deserve to be happy, safe, and healthy.

“Dissociation is a wonderful coping mechanism…I highly recommend it.”

– My most recent professor

Play is something that I never really participated in as a child. My family jokes that I am lacking in imagination, as I never had any imaginary friends or played pretend or anything. I never colored, drew, or painted. My younger sister (ten years younger than me), upon hearing my mother remark about this a few months ago, looked alarmed and asked, “Is something wrong with you?” (not sarcastically). I never really thought about it that much, because I always had other stuff I was doing. I learned to read at a very young age, and most of my childhood was spent absorbed in a book. For me, this took the place of regular play. I was not interested in toys, and didn’t much like playing with other children. I thought I was happy in my little world of books, but I’m beginning to question that now.

I recently did a group project on play therapy, and it really got me thinking. I read a lot about different types of play that children engage in, and about all the types of materials one can use in play therapy. I realized that I had never really done many of these things, and if I had, had never really enjoyed it. Kids are supposed to like playing. That’s what they do. But I was so serious as a child, my mother has said that I was “born thirty.” I still am quite serious. I wonder whether I didn’t play as a child because I didn’t like it, or because I was afraid to do so. I’m beginning to think it was the latter.

To truly play would have meant that I would have to let my guard down. I would have to let go and submit myself to whatever my imagination came up with. I would not be fully in control, and to me, that is a frightening thought. Thinking about it now, I believe that I felt threatened by play and other creative pursuits like art. In elementary and middle school, I always got points taken off my otherwise perfect assignments for lack of creativity. I just couldn’t allow myself to go there. Even now, I feel uncomfortable when I am around children, because I know I should engage in their play, but I just can’t let go enough to do it. I feel like some sort of grouch who doesn’t like to play with kids, even though I love kids.

The other day, my partner and I decided to make some stuff that she remembered from her childhood: homemade playdough and oobleck. She had spent hours and hours playing with these simple materials as a child. I was not too excited about doing this, but felt I could humor her and go along with it. It turns out that some part of me had been dying to play, probably for many years. As I squished the playdough in my hands (we added lavender oil to make it smell nice and be calming) and oozed the oobleck around, I felt more and more relaxed. I focused only on the feeling of the materials in my hands. My partner asked me several times if I was okay, because I appeared to be in some sort of trance (dissociation). We spent a pretty long time with the playdough and oobleck, and I felt really great afterwards.

I wrote awhile ago about having a feeling of having parts. I don’t know if I do or not, vacillate between the two. But I did feel as though some part of me (whether a dissociated part or not) had been waiting forever to get to play, and was ecstatic to finally be doing it. I’m glad that we did it, and I’m really excited to do more.

Things have been kind of tough around here. I’m doing okay, the PTSD crap has been letting up a little bit the past few days, but I feel that this is only because of other stuff that’s going on and taking up the majority of my emotional energy. My partner is going through a really tough time right now. She has pretty severe depression in addition to her own trauma stuff, and it’s really bad right now. She has been having some suicidal ideation, and while I know she would not do anything to harm herself, it is still scary. Her antidepressant is clearly not working and is perhaps making it worse. In addition, she does not have health insurance, so has not been seeing a therapist. We are going to work on finding someone for her to see who does a sliding fee scale, but until then she just needs to figure out the medication issue (she goes to a community health clinic for meds).

She feels so alone and useless and hopeless and sad. She is crying all the time. She seems fine at times but it seems like every time I have to go somewhere away from her, like to work, she gets so sad and upset. And I feel really bad, but I get annoyed. I can’t help having to work, I pay all the bills. I certainly don’t ENJOY working 70 hours per week, 40 of them overnight, but it’s something I have to do. It makes it so much harder to have her get terribly upset every time I leave. It’s exhausting, in fact. She has basically no friends outside of certain people at her work, but she doesn’t see them outside of work at all. She is pretty isolative, and it would really help her to get out and make some friends and do some sort of activity, but of course the nature of depression is that it makes it nearly impossible to do these things.

I want to help her, but I know that only she can help herself. I can be supportive, but she needs to do the things like call her doctor, find a therapist, and get herself out of the house. I don’t want to enable the depressive behaviors such as isolation and being upset every time I leave. It’s hard for me to know what will be helpful as her partner. I have never been in the position of being in an intimate relationship with someone who has severe depression before, I have only helped people who are my clients professionally, which is obviously completely different. My own depression has been well-controlled with medication since before we met, so I don’t know how she could have helped me, which would inform me on what to do for her. For people who have had severe depression: what has been helpful for your partner(s) to do?