Trauma Therapy

My old Clinical Psychologist is back. Today was our first appointment for a year. She’d been off to have a baby. She said I looked well and that she was glad to see me. It was a small lie but I took it anyway. Nobody can really enjoy sitting all day listening to shit like I come out with, but I like her. Savvy people are hard to find, in my experience. And she is savvy, despite what she has to go through at work. It hasn’t dulled her intellect or her soul. I’m thankful for it.

She’d heard about me breaking a couple of my own ribs a couple of months ago by punching myself. She didn’t even blink when I talked her through the moment. It’s things like that which give you a clue to exactly how much pain and anguish people like Psychologists get to hear on any given day. I don’t blame her for it. And I don’t envy her.

We are starting something called ‘Trauma Therapy’. It’s all about digging through the cesspool of my past and finding the really stinking, rotten parts. She warned me it’d be tough and that it might test our relationship. I told her I was ready for it – I mean, how hard can it be to relive the bad things you’ve been through and have replayed again and again for years? She told me it might raise my propensity to self-harm and my suicidal ideations. I told her, ‘So what?” and she sighed. I guess it’s hard to get across to the uninitiated exactly how little regard people like me can have for ourselves on any given day. Elon Musk wants to go on a tourist trip to the moon, and if he gets back without being fried into tiny microbes by the 3000 centigrade re-entry phase then he’ll never adequately be able to explain how it felt to look back on the earth. I guess that’s as good as any analogy for what I’m trying to say.

But I’m glad my old Psychologist is back. She’s a highly intelligent woman with a good sense of humour. If we’re probing the depths then I can’t imagine anyone I’d want to guide me through the whole foul mess more than her. It’s not something I’d do for a living, but then again not everyone can be a circus clown, or the president of the USA… Oh, wait..

So, here’s to the future – or at least the next year – digging through abuse and childish nights of terror and torture. Here’s to the loss of my childhood.

It’s codeine time. I think this is about the right place to stop typing.

 

 

  • Painting by Anthony Caruso.
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The last ride

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By then I’d switched to lemonade. There had been a point twenty minutes earlier where I thought I might tip over the edge completely. Booze can do that to you without a seconds notice. One minute I’m there, the next I’m gibbering to somebody about how Tyson Fury once punched me in a Belgian forest. The lemonade tasted shitty but my head wasn’t freefalling anymore, despite the conversation.

I don’t see this friend all the time, but enough to know he’s still there for me – and for him to know it’s reciprocated. In fact, he is the only friend I have left after years on the BPD treadmill. The others could only take so much, and I don’t blame them. This friend is a guy I’ve known since we were young. We grew up in the same small village in the North of England; totally flat lands going right over to the boulder clay ridge where a Steelwork town belched into the skyline. It was all under-age drinking and smokes of hashish up at the churchyard until we could get into the pubs and get really legally wasted. We were the village fuck-ups, polite and well-meaning, but always on the look out for ways to get out of our heads. We’d gone through cheap sherry, hash, speed, LSD, even lighter gas, and I was pitching in and out of irregular heroin use.

We ended up separately after we got to our mid twenties – I married and started work in a prison, and he drifted from job to job, got with a girl, bought a house, and had a baby. In the end we both got fired, fucked up, and divorced, quite independently. He ended up in rehab and I ended up in a psychiatrist’s office. Fun times.

About five years ago we got back in touch in a good way and we’ve seen each other fairly regularly ever since. Through a quirk of fate, despite me moving away from the village, he now lives pretty close to me.

This night was a get-together with our partners. We were enjoying it. He’d made me cry again with laughter. Now we were arranging his stag do (I am the Best Man).

It was going to be fairly simple. I’d found a remote recording studio for us and his band to stay at. He’s a great drummer. I play guitar. We’d spend maybe five days recording whatever we wanted. On the shore of a Scottish Loch we’d play our hearts out, talk, laugh, and get a little drunk maybe. It would be a liberating and cathartic week for us both. But talk had turned to what to bring.

It started out with clothes and food. We’d take booze, for sure, and a little weed, but now we were on to serious enjoyment. He thought for a moment and then said he’d like to take some cocaine with us. I didn’t ever have a problem with that, but he did. Then I heard myself offering to stockpile my codeine and pregabalin, even my diazepam prescription. Before we knew it, the drug bag was growing and we were both wrapped tight up by the prospect of one last blow-out up there away from civilisation. The last ride of the junkie brothers.

“I’ll be found slumped naked on the loch shore with a semi-on in my hand,” he said.

“Man….this could be the best week of our lives.”

“Or one of us has a stroke.”

We laughed. We would be ok. It always was. Outside I told my partner that she had nothing to worry about. I said I had always believed in picking the right people to get fucked up with – people you can trust in a tight spot – and he was the only one left. We’d been there enough to know the way if one of us got lost. There would always be someone tending the light at the end of the tunnel.

And I forgot everything of the last twenty years; every tear and moment of distress was gone. Things were no different now to the yahoo of youth all those years ago. We were the same people as back then anyhow, weren’t we? There was no danger in a drug-fuelled trip into the past. There had been no consequences before. The drug gods had been kind enough to erase all the hurt and the terror now they were getting closer on the horizon again. We were old hands. Lead on. Nothing could be simpler..

Soma

SOMA noun, plural somata

 

[soh-muh-tuh] (Show IPA), somas. Biology.

1. the body of an organism as contrasted with its germ cells.

2. the body as distinct from the soul, mind, or psyche.

I am a Soma. I am my Soma Yes. That’s it! Eureka moment. All else, mentally and the rest of the stuff I like to lump in that bracket, are simply just external and incapable of being positive.

A soul is a fantastical religious concept (meaning I’ve got to believe in sky fairies etc), and my mental processes are just binary biological computer program results. It’s really that simple. Isn’t it? I am cells, blood, muscle, skin, hair, teeth, eyes, fingernails. That’s all. The rest is superfluous and is ultimately where the problems lie. Anything goes wrong with the soma I can go and point at it, a doctor can help me with it, and I can see the enemy I need to fight. Collapsing mental health is vague, has no origin point you can stick a needle in, and you can’t prove to someone that it is not your own fault you can’t function. Give me a broken leg any day; every day, if you like. I’d prefer the dull crack of splintering bone to having BPD.

Yeah, but…. Since I am now me (physically) I have to start taking care of that precious Soma and the rub of mental illness is that you don’t – least I don’t. I eat wrong, use drugs, and I self harm. No decent way to care for your physical being now, is it. So I’m damned even though I’ve found the answer.

Meanwhile I’ll get used to the feel of cold rain on skin, the fullness of a hot meal, my breath after walking up a mountain, and the itch I can’t scratch. It’s all that’s important, right? Forget love, art, music. They can’t heal a wound or help my heart to beat.

DO I really believe this? Nah. If only. It is the fractured wishing of a man who can’t control his emotions, or how he interacts with the world. It’s a savage mental trick. I’m not just a biological robot, and mental illness is not a simple germ-like organism that can be washed away in bleach. I am my personality disorder, unfortunately. Sometimes I like to think, on cold wet days like this, the feel of sun on my skin is all I need to solve everything; that everything can be put in a petri dish and scraped over until it’s well again.

Peace has a price

Yes. It was me half an hour ago standing in the street offering to kick the shit out of two delivery men. I kind of want to say it was their fault – one of them mouthed something at me when he thought I wouldn’t stop and deal with it – but ultimately the thing lands with me. Their faces dropped when I came back and started shouting. They didn’t fancy the job. Luckily.

I was all ready to fight there in the street. It was pathetic. An aged Rocky carrying on like a gorilla in the winter sunshine while cars stopped and people took out their phones ready to call the cops. The men locked themselves in their van. Terrible scene.

I left and raged to myself for a while, then remembered I hadn’t had my medication. I stopped the car again and put on the radio to take a breather. They were talking about the costs of medication in the UK. I’d never considered it, I just go, present my card, then leave. So I looked it up when I got in – taking the meds first with large gulps of cheap sugar-free energy drink. I don’t drink those kinds of drinks but I figured that I couldn’t get more high.

Here are my meds and their cost to the NHS for a years worth of my dosage:

Pregabalin – £772.80p

Codeine – £59.04p

Flupentixol – £55.00p

Diazepam – £3.18p

My total yearly medication cost = £890.02p

Cheap? Expensive?

Life saving, life-affirming, comforting, numbing, safety net, painless, calm, helpers…all of them. I’d say they were worth every penny.

And now I’m going to relax as those tablets kick in and I leave the threat mode and enter the world of flat-line. No emotions for me for a couple of hours. Saved again until next time. In a while all I’ll feel is guilt, and that can lead to self-harm sometimes, but it’s less destructive to the community at large. Safer to be unsafe sometimes, weirdly.

The Pro

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Her bulbous nose was booze red. Without it she’d have been attractive. I think she knew this because she was dressed to compensate in revealing clothing. They say you always end up with a mirror image of yourself, and that was sort of true in this case because her partner had an identical nose. But similarities stopped there; he had a huge underbite and a large lower lip that drooped and made him look like he was slobbering.

There was a storm outside. The pub was almost empty. They were sitting eating a cheap meal when I came in and sat at the next table. People were talking all around us and sometimes they’d join in. They knocked the alcohol back quickly, as I did. There is nothing like a booze rush in the early afternoon. It beats all other times of the day, even in winter when you have to sit inside and where the conversation is less easy to escape. She finished her wine in maybe three gulps and sent him back to the bar for more. He lisped the order through his jaw with its slobber and smiled without a break until he sat back down.

People engaged them, mainly her, in shouted conversation from the bar to the tables where we sat. She laughed it up, despatched advice, or reprimand, and moved silkily in her chair as if to hypnotise the guys pouring the cheap lager down their throats who were watching her out of the corner of their eyes when they weren’t plucking up the courage to shout something amusing and throw it her way. Even the landlady’s tits weren’t enough to turn the heads today. They bounced up and down behind the bar with flicked blonde hair crossing over them and caressing their milky cleavage. It was for nothing. The bulbous nose held some form of spell over the crowd.

A woman in old dirty white trainers came into the pub and the tone changed. She sat with the silky woman and started to cry. I heard snatched phrases “Dead…. Too many times… Funeral… They would only give me paracetamol but I need more to help me… he was expected to go but I need drugs.”

I guessed it was her father who had died. Silky woman had an arm around her and was saying things like “If you ever need me….” Her words fell like royal favours out of a golden carriage.

“I know you will, Deborah, you’re the kindest person I know,” the crying woman said. She stared straight ahead and shook. They talked for ten minutes more then the crying woman finished her orange juice and left, walking unsteadily, twitching at something unseen by anyone else, ever. Deborah laughed a little.

She finished her drink, got up out of her chair and passed me by, draping a hand on my shoulder and leaving it there, moving her fingers a little as some kind of signal. The eyes from the bar watched with jealous expressions. Then she moved off  with her slack-jawed partner, wiggling her peachy ass as she walked down the length of the pub.

Somebody plucked up the courage to ask me if I knew her. I didn’t, but I felt knighted by a serious pro lush who’d been around long enough to know what buttons to press on old drunk guys with nothing in their lives except alcohol and the thoughts of maybe, coulda. Dreams in the guiness haze.

I sat on my own and drank and popped tablets until the storm died down outside. Had I had an horrific glimpse of my future? Sitting in pubs and bars waiting for scraps of body language or half-meant words to be tossed my way for me to use masturbating later, drunk? What was Deborah’s purpose? Did she care? No. She was too good at what she did to care. Caring meant you wouldn’t carry on that way; that you’d be so disgusted in yourself you couldn’t bear to be that way. She was a throwback to gin palaces and dive bars near freeways, truck stops, seedy 70s discos, and the wrenching coldness of the human condition. I wondered what had happened to her to make her that way.

Eventually I got drunk.

 

Journey to paradise.

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The house next door was used as a holiday retreat by Justin Bieber. Like our one, it overlooked the Caribbean sea and the curving bay of Pidgeon Island. We had a housekeeper, and a gardener – called ‘Dragon’. At night the tree frogs sung me to sleep and every morning the mosquitoes ate my ankles and my neck until the sun really got warm. The house reeked of decadence and money. We’d been told it was recently on the market for six million dollars. Only a rich fool would pay that kind of cash to have a holiday home on a mosquito infested island where the murder rate is higher than south central Chicago.

The sea stretched out into the West and at night the sun set hugely over the blue/turquoise horizon. There was a romance to it all, for sure, but I couldn’t unsee the shanty towns, burned out cars, and the poverty of the beach hawkers and the average Joe local. Something about lording it up in paradise, under a palm tree, didn’t sit well with me. I was just another fat, white, wealthy guy with too much ready cash and too few morals. Ripe for fleecing at the beach, and a heavy draw for disdainful looks from anyone and everyone who called St Lucia home.

Every time I went in the warm sea I worried about sharks. There was a point on the island where they used to throw live goats off of some cliffs and watch the Tiger Sharks rip them to pieces down below. And if the sea life didn’t get to me first then there was always a drug gang or some street punk high on crack and in the middle of the worst financial period of his short life. Dangers are high in paradise.

We ate huge meals in expensive restaurants, avoided the gazes of the staff, got drunk on rum, and bathed in the night in the house pool while huge bats flew inches above our heads under the Milky Way sky. I miss the stars and the heat. But it felt shitty being pumped full of expensive rum in a private pool when two miles away someone was sleeping hungry in a tin shack. Things like poverty make the high life a little less ‘high’, even when you’re wafting past it in an air conditioned luxury car.

Maybe I’ll go back there; I doubt it. If I do, I’ll question the reasons more than I question most things. It’s sickening actually, when I know right now that people are starving to death in Sudan, that I even have the choice.

If you think this is a travel review then you are wrong. This is a damning indictment of all that is shitty about human beings – most of all, me.

Muse(less)

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“Deep in our hearts we know it: that you weren’t much of a muse, but then again, I weren’t much of a poet.” – Nick Cave

A relative of mine knows Nick Cave. She knew his son, too, before he threw himself off a sixty foot beach cliff with his 15yr old head full of LSD. Mind expansion is one thing, but drug-induced suicide is another. For every good part of any drug there is always the flip side. The cannabis brigade lobby anyone within earshot about the healing properties of weed, but then again, looking under a microscope in a lab somewhere someone in a white coat is watching smoke-related cancer cells mutate. You pays your money and you takes your choice, eh.

My relative says Nick is a twat. I’ve never met him.

 

I walked yesterday for an hour and a half. I didn’t meet a single soul for an hour until I saw a local landlady jogging along the canal with her two dogs. She had oversized headphones on and wore a shiny black bodysuit that I tried not to look at. At the end of the canal I passed the cottaging area filled with the nervous sexual tension of middle-aged men waiting for a transvestite to turn up and make a good go of things in the toilets. Even in winter some people can find comfort in a remote toilet block with someone who’d never turn them down. Or tell a wife.

The main feeling today is I’m out of ideas.  A while ago I started to jig together a loose book form to sell on amazon kindle, but I’m apathetic and still lacking confidence in anything I write. I mean, there is nothing more self-indulgent than writing about your mental health – like I’m doing here. It’s boring, clichéd, and riddled with hyperbole. You struggle sometimes in life too, right? Why have I got it any different to you?

I don’t. We’ve all cried at overwhelming sadness, and we’ve all spent the dark hours of the pre-dawn thinking about the past, or the lack of future. It’s a commonality of the human condition. So why would anyone pay to hear my bleating?

In time everything I’ve ever done, including these words right now, will just be lost in the ether with no reader or anyone to understand why I’m writing them in the first place. I’m ok with that.

Shit….. Self doubt is a real bummer. See you when the mist has lifted.

Polar opposite

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‘Out of the blue and into the black, they give you this but you paid for that.” – Neil Young

Strange start to the day. I dreamed that Mark E Smith had died in the early hours, then my drunken neighbour’s headboard started to knock on the wall again. Another alcohol-fuelled masturbation alone in the dead of night.

Then the news this morning: a team of women are about to walk to the South Pole. This is an incredible feat and worthy of either praise or derision. They’d dressed them up in little pink jackets like the female gang from Grease. It didn’t suit them. They were doing two hours of training a day in Norway; a  group of female British army soldiers, all organisation and clipped speech with few vowels. The reporter looked cold, but out of all the questions he could drill down to, all he wanted to know was how they’d go for a crap out there in the snow. I’d never considered it.

“We build a little wall, then a hole,” one of them said, “then we scoop up the poo in a bag and carry it with us.”

What? Had I heard that right? Three months of scooping up your shit into bags and then carrying it along like Santa until you finally get rescued. What happens then to the shit? Jesus Christ…. These things play on my mind. Eight women pulling sedges full of their own shit is not an image to stay with you if you want to enjoy your day.

I imagine that the realities of walking for months in a blizzard are worse than the magical story sold to the participant on expedition sign-up day. Polar Bears and nuclear submarines are in the north, leopard seals and UFOs in the south. And always the freezing cold. Nobody needs that kind of challenge. Not me, anyhow. There is no fun in sleeping outside where the wind howls and where a thin layer of nylon won’t stop nature if she really wants your blood. The frozen wastes are littered with the bodies of goofy explorers who tried desperately to prove they weren’t failures in life, generally. I have the edge over them in that respect: I realise I’m a failure and I can accept that fact. It’s knowledge like that which has kept me alive so far and out of the jaws of an eight hundred pound Polar Bear.

The day is breaking now. Dawn is here. I’ll be walking today, too. No shitting into a bag for me. My walking is prescribed by my Psychologist. It’s a time honoured way of creating the right chemicals in your brain and of not dying from apathy. I’m sure there’s plenty of research about it somewhere. What’ll happen today is anyone’s guess. I’ll start out with good intentions and, if I’m not careful, I’ll end up trying to have a fight with anyone and everyone, or hurting myself. The least that could happen is carrying my own shit behind me – which, of course, metaphorically speaking I do.

The savage owls have stopped screaming in my garden, the sun is up. Might even be a nice day. Walk carefully out there, my friends.

Acid Dumb

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She’d needed to take a shit. The public toilets in the little village were locked so she went around the back of the small building and squatted among the garbage there.

When she came back around the corner she made me promise not to go look at what she’d crapped out. She said it was green and red. I laughed; there was no way I’d be looking at her shit seeing as it was 3am on a June morning and we both had heads full of LSD. “I’m thirsty,” she said.

Across the way from the toilets was a house, and outside the front door they’d had a milk delivery. I took a pint of milk and left forty pence on the doorstep. We shared it as we sat in the village marketplace and watched the sun come up over the low rooftops.

It had been a weird party. First someone got a bottle of poppers out, like we were going all-in for an orgy, then later a guy got set on fire and had to leave in an ambulance. Nobody saw anything. It was that sort of crowd.

In the marketplace we sang and danced in the dawn in beautiful acid comedown time. I could still taste the metallic acid taste in my mouth even over the cold milk. There would never be a more marvellous time than an acid comedown, no matter what I did, or who. I just happened to be with a girl that night. She was irrelevant really; just a girlfriend from school days; half-good company, looked like Patsy Kensit, and didn’t mind my drug use. All positive traits for an 18yr old in my position. But we had grown up apart in just a few short years. How may years of youth did we have left? One? Two? Too many people had died and too many people were turning old before their time. We were part of a lost generation, cosseted by wealth and the comfy countryside surroundings of the Isle, too dumb to know any different and too greedy to learn the hard way.

Sitting there on the wooden bench the sky turned from black to blue and the birds sang loudly up on the rooftops. Jet liner trails stretched out over us towards wherever. I wished I was up there too looking down on the world. God would understand me, surely I was just a whisker away from seeing him right now. I always regarded acid as a spiritual thing. Sacred.

She retched up the milk onto the stone flags. “I’m fucked up,” she said, wiping her mouth on the back of her hands.

Good for the Gander…

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“Mental heath problems can be something perceived as ‘cool’ that, unfortunately, a few young women are aping the symptoms of because they get a kick out of having a specific, mainly Bipolar Disorder, diagnosis. It’s a real bummer.” – My CPN.

Do I buy that? For my part there’s no ‘aping’ required because I really do have my diagnosis, but it did get me thinking about some of the people I’ve met along the therapy way. Am I doubting their stories now? Are they any less factual than my own? I think, with one exception, the answer is an emphatic No.

This one particular guy seemed ok to me, friendly, normal conversations, normal appearance, pretty bog-standard kind of guy I guess. Not at all how you’d expect somebody with Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Multiple Personality Disorder, Autism, Dissociative Disorder, and OCD to behave. And he supposedly had all of those diagnoses.

Nah, this is turning mean. It’s not meant to be. I’m a bit lost today. Things are slightly out of focus, shifted a little out of view. I’m not expecting to find much positive in today. I’m floating away on a barrel of mental pain today; self-doubt, self-hatred, and all the rest of the shitty construct.

Here’s some snippets from my latest Psychological valuation:

“..engages in self attacking mode which expresses itself through his cognitions.”

“Should be encouraged to engage in rational thinking when he begins to experience paranoid ideation.”

“..risks are likely to increase in times of stress; as such requires regular monitoring.”

Not ground breaking reading for anyone out there. Nothing extraordinary or worthy of bragging about to friends. That’s why you know but my partner will never read my reports.

Yeah, it’s a real bummer of a day today. The diazepam is calling, maybe some weed too. Who knows? At some point I will be the laughing stock of some innocent conversation or train of thought. Today is a good day for that to happen. I recommend it, folks. Hate on me too.