Trigger Warning: alcohol use, sexual assault
There have been two times in my life where I’ve ‘lost’ chunks of time – without the aid ill-advised beer-before-liquor combos.
In my last “the Appointment” post, I mentioned that I had seen a new doctor, and will be seeing her shortly one more time. Something she said in that appointment struck me, and I’ve been thinking about it since.
She asked me if I’d ever ‘forgotten’ a chunk of time, and of course I had; not recently, but twice as a child. So I told her as much, and she replied that it must have been scary.
I nodded, feeling like that was the right response, and not sure how to explain the truth – that it wasn’t, not at all.
It was a huge relief both times, to go on with my day without the weight of whatever those minutes or hour (it’s difficult to know which it was, as I didn’t admit to anyone that I’d lost time) would have brought upon me.There was also a vague fascination with the idea that I could just suddenly find myself transported safely out of a terrifying situation. To my young mind, it felt like magic – and I did chase magic for as long as my youthful naivete allowed me.
Later in life, I would remember that relief when I systematically drank to blackout each Friday night in my first year of school, crying it all out without the burden of remembering my shame and loss as a result of sexual assault earlier that year.
I had less “embarrassing” fits of crying in my crowded dorm room. I could make friends and focus more at school. My flashbacks became fewer and more far between as I drank, cried, forgot, lived, repeat. Just like magic, it was over – I thought.
I no longer get blackout drunk, for safety and for my friends’ sake, who would remember me falling apart each Friday even when I, blessedly, could not. But neither do I have a moral to the story.
I guess what I’m trying to highlight is the complexity of the apparently not-uncommon experience of dissociating. It certainly doesn’t feel like a box I can check on a symptom list and be diagnosed. I’m certainly still confused about what it meant to me.
Not to mention the unsettling fact that my teenage binge drinking produced the same not-unpleasant ‘shielding’ effect as my own brain had done earlier. I was lucky that the drinking didn’t have worse consequences, and have only incredible friends, female and male alike, to thank for protecting me. I am aware that alcohol often has deadly serious consequences. It is the #1 date rape drug in terms of popularity, and I take that very seriously.
But first-year ‘me’ was certainly too overwhelmed with trying to forget previous assault to be worrying about the possibility of any in future. I was raised in the widespread culture that tells us rapists are few and far-between ‘monsters’, and I had assumed one was all I was ever going to meet – this was false, unfortunately.
Thanks for reading,
trigger warning: shocking lack of sensitivity with regards to mental health, belittling, questionable figure of authority
From an anxiety/depression group director, when I told her my therapist strongly encouraged me to find additional intensive treatment, and I wondered if she could provide me with any information, being that she is part of the psychiatry department at a major hospital.
I think all you really need is a good YOGA INSTRUCTOR. That should do the trick.
As she smiled serenely, and I stared disbelievingly.
You can kiss my downward dog, Madam Le Strange.
trigger warning: speech about extreme violence and suicide, total disregard for human feeling/mental health, classism, racism
After a long talk in Professor Poop’s office, during which he held me responsible for every student that has ever needed a mental health accommodation, and asked me to guess their motivations.
Someone from the Sudan who watches their sister be killed in front of them should have anxiety, NOT YOU.
I mean, you were born in Canada (false)…
But you know what, I’ll give you that extension. Because I don’t want to be responsible for anyone killing themselves.
Thank you Professor Poop, for that enlightening soliloquy (because let’s be real, you were taking advantage of my presence in your office to vent, plain and simple).
Please go fall down a pit of horse dung.
In my every day life, I like to tell darkly funny anecdotes about the Shiz People Say, related to my anxiety disorder. It keeps me sane – you know, relatively. So without further ado, I am launching my first ever, blog Category :)
It will most likely come with trigger warnings, so everyone can brace themselves.
“Shiz People Say” – the new ‘it’ thing at Anxiety and the Girl.
Here is an article I’m ruminating on. Lots of good points, even though I skipped the anatomy bits.
Like I say, this is a good article, though.
The doctor I saw at the appointment was a nice lady, as far as I could tell. She opened by telling me that through that intake appointment, I was officially in the system of the centre and also her patient, and that she would find out what was available in terms of programming and help me get access to anything I decided might be helpful.
But she told me she thought I had PTSD that had lingered untreated and gotten worse, not generalized anxiety. That were it to have been GAD, the treatment I’ve received to date should have led to me feeling a lot better.
Maybe I mentioned this earlier in the blog, but it’s always been easier for me to look at the world as though everything is my fault, the fault of something inherent to myself. GAD would have in a sense allowed me this – allowed me to face the smaller things that are difficult for me, then tackle bigger and bigger challenges. Health care as self-improvement.
Check marks on neat little lists.
However, as hard as I try, I just get more tired. I have small victories in the short term, but in the long term, I never move on to the big things that terrify me the most. I can’t do, because it would interfere with me going about even the simplest tasks of my day. My most difficult challenges are like monsters whose eyes I cannot meet for more than a second.
The doctor asked me if I live life like I’m in survival mode, and I can’t deny it, that’s exactly how it is on a GOOD day! And I’m grateful to be doing it even, because on the bad days, it stops looking like I’ll survive.
I look at my choices, at my hard work and my most carefully considered plans, and I realize I’m never thinking of happiness. I’m thinking of making it to the next day, the next month, the next year. Of holding on to some integral part of myself during what I assume will be a storm.
And I’m just so tired.
I don’t know what to think. But I do believe that a diagnosis is only useful insomuch as it allows you access to the most helpful health care.
No, right now I am not comfortable with the very serious title, which I often worry should be earned by something much more difficult than anything I have experienced. But if this doctor wants to use it, I have to believe that it’s for the very good reason of giving me access to more helpful services for my particular situation.
Also, I didn’t have to PAY to see the doctor!
It will be very important to me in the fall and later to make whatever therapy becomes available to me through public health a priority. I couldn’t be more grateful that I have this option, because I do not have money of my own and having to beg for and justify gift money for brain appointments is not especially good for my brain. I can’t imagine how much worse this issue would be for someone sinking deeply into debt trying to get their mental health on track, only to have it destroyed by financial ruin. Horrifying. I am firmly in the “health care is a human right, not a consumer good” camp here. Support public health care!
And stay ‘tuned for the appointment part 3 :)