The inside voices.

*There are some references to suicidal ideation and suicidal thoughts. Check your mental state before you continue.*

I made my father feel awful the other day.

To be fair, I’ve asked for space. Repeatedly. From more than one parent. I’ve even said, explicitly, that it’s because I get mean when I’m triggered like this. I’m thin-skinned, reactive, and aim the knife well. This would be fine if I didn’t suffer buyer’s remorse, but I do. And feeling bad makes me mad again, and then the inside voices start to question my character.

Who get’s angry at someone they’ve just hurt?

Me, apparently.

Then again, who has to deal with six phone calls (and one text) about non-emergency stuff in one day, especially when they’ve asked said family for space?

I don’t think I was untruthful. I was just unkind. And really, there’s no point in mentioning the dysfunction and passive-aggressive behaviour that makes up the weirdness that’s my family (one of the reasons my stepdaughter’s passive-aggressive behaviour is triggering me so hard is a lifetime of it in familial settings). My parents are old. Change is unlikely. I need to let things go.

I’m better at Zen when I’m not ragged.

(One of my inside voices points out that the above is only my point of view. My parents likely feel differently. The voice isn’t overtly negative, but it’s always there, asking me if I’m being fair.

Oddly, she’s absent when I’m on Twitter.

Really, she’s often more about being agreeable than being fair. I’m going to have to think about that.)

My heart is bitter.

It would be nice if people listened to me, and by people, I mean family. My friends would listen if I talked to them, but I mostly don’t. In the early stages of decompensating, I don’t because I worry about being a drain on the friendship. In the later stages, I don’t because I’ve isolated myself far from the maddening crowd.

(I would talk to some of my friends. Know who you’re asking for help. I’ve one friend who’s convinced a stiff upper lip fixes everything. She’s great much of the time, but not my go-to when depression is calling.)

If only I could leave my brain with the same degree of effective ease. Just stop taking calls and answering texts. And the neuroses, getting no response, would push off for greener pastures. Or August.

(I want to say “neurosi,” though that would be wrong. So is “octopi,” something I learned yesterday. “Octopuses” and “octopodes” are the correct plurals. Something about the root being Greek and “pi” being Latin. Whatever. But, I digress.)

I have new drugs that don’t keep my brain quiet enough yet. I still have the hateful, destructive, brutal thoughts that feel like they’re beating me down. I’m allowed to increase the dose a lot before I see my psychiatrist next Thursday.

New drug.

You know things are dire when your doctor wants to see you again in a week.

I’ll add more milligrams today despite the lovely metal taste in my mouth because in addition to a brain that’s telling me horrible stories, I have a brain that’s allowing the occasional thought about suicide to creep in. These are dangerous thoughts, not because they’re ideation, but because they aren’t.

(I’m not actively suicidal. People who have ideation and thoughts about suicide aren’t necessarily actively suicidal. They can get that way, however, if they can’t talk. The stigma that envelopes talking about suicide needs to end. It would save a lot of people.)

I do have people. I have two counselling appointments this week, and as long as I can be honest, they should help.

Unfortunately, the wall between me and other people seems much more insurmountable when I’m spiralling down.

(Why do we never spiral up? We crash at alarming speeds, but the climb back to something even closely resembling normal takes what feels like forever longer. I’m already dreading it. Do you suppose it’s a gravity thing? Gravity certainly hates collagen.)

Where I’m at now is a walking, talking example of why self-care is important, even when things are dark and dire, even when we think we don’t have time (I’m really about adjectives and adverbs today. Stephen King would not approve.)

I try. Not today, but sometimes.

Going backwards, my father’s near-death heart problems throughout the spring; my mother’s concurrent chemotherapy; my kidney infection in November, my father’s near-death pneumonia in late October; and, my mother’s lobectomy in early October, make for an impressive list of stresses.

My stepdaughter’s refusal to talk to me in response to “something I said” in April, refusing also to let me talk to or visit with my grandson have added more. I’ve lurched from calamity to disaster without doing enough in the way of self-care, even when faced with an aggressive flare of arthritis and fibromyalgia, my body’s attempt to tell me to treat myself right.

I forget sometimes that I’m not neurotypical, and that there are consequences to acting like I am. There are consequences to abandonning self-care that go beyond unkempt nails and overflowing laundry bins. When I give up on self-care, I get those, but also flaring depression and raging PTSD. In hindsight, the moments I didn’t take here and there were a mistake.

(Interestingly, I’m maintaining my eating disorder recovery. I still have a minor cutting problem, but recovery on that front is holding despite some seriously inclement weather. I’m grateful. A flare of bulimia would be nasty icing on a horrible cake.)

It may feel self-indulgent to look after ourselves when our world is falling apart, but if we don’t, we can find ourselves in dark places. We can find ourselves in places where are thoughts aren’t our own, where we imagine awful, hurtful things almost constantly.

Though “imagine” is the wrong word; it suggests a voluntary element that’s missing as the dysfunctional thought train leaves the station. I get off eventually, but that can take time: I don’t always realize I’m being taken for a ride. That awareness comes after the unpleasant emotions get going.

Getting off the train is neither effort nor consequence-free. Unreal thoughts have real effects. It’s also not one and done. My brain has an infinite supply of trains. And then there’s my well.

It’s empty.

Empty well is in part why I’m here.

Self-care is looking like a missed imperative in hindsight.

No one is served by a hero’s complex. I knew that once upon a time. Trying to do everything oneself while ignoring all attempts at help until it’s too late are the actions of a toddler. Too bad the mindset doesn’t come with toddler skin.

I’m starting to look rough around the eyes.

This is fine.

If you're having suicidal thoughts, please reach out. There are people who want to help.
There are other national resources available online. If it's an immediate emergency, call 911 (or your local emergency response number), or go to the emergency department of your hospital.

Canada: 1-866-456-4566 or 911. The chat option is at 45645 from 4 p.m. to midnight. More information available here. 

United States: 1-800-784-2433 (1-800-SUICIDE). There are also options for text, chat, and more specific counselling (LGBTQIA, Veteran) here. 

UK: in the UK, one can call or text 988 for emergency help. 

11 thoughts on “The inside voices.

  1. You’ve had a tough go of it lately. Be kind to you. Then again, be kind to your family. I understand the frustration. I suspect them not leaving you alone is an attempt to check up on you – to make sure you’re OK. While you have PTSD, perhaps they do to.

    It sounds like you’ve got a good plan, though. You’re letting the professionals help you. I hope you’re able to be honest and talk it through. Also, never hesitate to tell your friends, regardless of how long it takes. Listening is a top friend skill. So is advice. So is being able not to take their advice if it’s not good for you.

    And I love an adverb. Steven King isn’t always right. 😏

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have above my desk a framed photo I stole from a magazine in my psychopharmacologist’s office about 30 years ago. Its a businessman dressed in a suit with his head in his hands, a flurry of printed words supposed to be racing thoughts and the title: Powerful Medicine to stop intrusive thoughts and acts. I thought at the time; wouldn’t it be nice? But I don’t believe its possible unless we convince ourselves it can be. Let me know how the Loxapine works. 😵

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That is a long list of stressors, Michelle. You’ve written about it beautifully and I hope the self-care and added milligrams start to change the direction of the spiral, even if it’s slow.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Your step-daughter’s reaction seems extreme (barring you from seeing the grandkid). If it was so bad, then she should be able to tell you what it was. It’s rather immature on her part. (I’ve said something similar in the past and it was because someone kept doing the same thing over and over again and I got tired of telling them what they were doing wrong as I knew it led nowhere. Is there something like that you can think of?)

    The anger at parents – definitely a familiar tale. Whatever you do, just make sure you will be OK with your words/ actions once they pass. I feel like I was always reasonable when talking to them (even if it was not what they wanted to hear) so I’ve made peace with it, but I know some people struggle with regret about things like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m pretty sure it’s about a conversation we had the last time I babysat/she visite. We’ve had concerns about my grandson. He has some delays. Not dire, but they need help. I brought that up. She seemed fine, said we’d talk about it later, and then left. That was it. She takes any conversations about him being less than the most amazing and perfect human ever badly, so we avoid them. This had to be addressed, however, but it was the first time. And he is amazing. But, he has a language delay. His aunt had the same one. We took her to speech therapy for about a year. Anyhow, it was pretty much the straw, I think. I’m clawing my way back. And letting my brothers take lead with my parents while I refill the well.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah, some people can be pretty touchy about those subjects. I’ve encountered a similar scenario myself (as a bystander, though). Things are OK now, but it took a moment. In the end, it’s the kid that needs to be focused on and what is the best for them, not the feelings of adults…

        Good to hear you have some time to breathe.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you 💖 It feels like forever, but I try and remind myself it probably won’t be. And, he will get a referral once he starts school in the fall. But heartbreak is hard to manage. At least the sun is shining, so I can manage while getting a tan 😉

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Why do we never spiral up? We crash at alarming speeds, but the climb back to something even closely resembling normal takes what feels like forever longer. I’m already dreading it. Do you suppose it’s a gravity thing? Gravity certainly hates collagen.

    I wish I knew the answer to this question, Lovely One. The climb back up is always arduous… perhaps because it requires work on my part; and spiraling down does not. Freefalling is more frightening than the climb, but takes much less effort.

    Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. It helps me to feel more “normal” in a world where non-neurotypicals are deeply misunderstood (and often, undervalued).

    Here’s to you finding your climbing gear, and securing the ropes! You are braver than your ideations, Love!


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