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Hello!

Welcome to Shattering Soul: Stories From a Survivor. I hope visitors will see that they are not alone, and find hope in my often chaotic and frustrating struggle to overcome a lifetime of abuse and trauma. For survivors, our life doesn’t become wonderful when the abuse stops. In fact, for many of us our lives become more difficult. By sharing my own personal journey, resources I have found helpful, and opening up my blog for others to comment on their own experiences, I hope to offer a place where survivors can grasp that they are not alone in their struggle, and that people do care, even people around the globe. Best wishes on your journey ~SS

This is my personal blog, discussing the progression and regression of healing from a lifetime of abuse. Please proceed with caution. This blog may contain triggering material, and triggering posts will be labeled as such for the safety of my readers. I hope that you will feel free to share your own experiences and struggles on the journey. I offer my experiences so that other survivors will know they are not alone. Please be respectful of all posters. We all are trying to heal from a shattered past.

Why Self Injure?

I do not know if i can help anyone understand it…. It’s about expression as much as anything. Feeling so overwhelmed that your head is spinning and everything is a blur, all emotions clouded. You try everything else to ease the stress, the tension, the need to explode: writing, singing, blaring loud music until your ears bleed, running outside, doing cartwheels like an idiot, holding ice, shredding paper, everything else you can think of. Still, there is no relief, no outlet. It’s gruesome and horrid, the idea that the only thing which makes you feel alive, sane, is the one thing that could kill you, steal away your breath and it would be an accident. It’s shameful, morose, the way the whole addiction works, and you get this high from it that nothing else gives you. That’s why you do it again, and again. In those moments, as the red river flows, adrenaline surges through your body and it feels almost euphoric. For once, you don’t feel numb. Guilt follows, you know it’s dangerous, wrong, addictive, stupid, but it’s the only way you can express and let out the anger, frustration, stress, depression, anxiety. So you keep going back and the blade becomes a friend. The river flows deeper, into an ocean. The arteries become damaged, and eventually, you go too far. Whether you come back from that abyss, I know not. I only know that fighting against the current of desire, against the impulses, puts it off, but not forever, and then it’s worse than before. So, if it helps, and if delaying that help causes more danger, more damage, why not just do it and get it over with?

Hello friends and readers. Please excuse my absence as of late. You see, after being in the hospital for monitoring, things became quite crazy.

I started treatment, including meds, at a new facility. After two weeks I was switched from Lexapro to Celexa, as it is available on the $4 list at Walmart. I have since been re-evaluated by my psychiatrist and started therapy last week.

Summer is upon us and year-round school is starting tomorrow. My classes begin on August 16th. In the mean time I am working through therapy homework, catching up with my blog, and working on my writing.

dearest little ss,

for so long now, i have avoided looking at you. your eyes, they are mine, the same steel blue. the same pain runs through them into my soul. your freckles, i have them too. those scars, look here. see, feel. they are there, we share the same heart and the same pain. the same memories run through our veins. we are one, you and i.

i am older; i grew up. i can protect you now. i’m sorry that i couldn’t then. i am with you. i can see you. i can feel you. i can hear you. i am listening. take my hand. hold onto me. i will help you out of the darkness. i will guide you, protect you, love you.

precious one, you are not undone. your life has only just begun. look to the stars, look to the sun. i am here, little one.

logic meets a daggered end
experience begins
taking over mind and space
filling every empty place

despair convulses silently
hope reborn from tragedy
a brushstroke, art created
life penned, death suffocated

journey beyond the dark abyss
search out peace and happiness
leave behind old fruitless ways
breathe and gloat in life, today

One of the weirdest things about being on antidepressants is that my mind is stilled. It’s quiet. Silent. Gone are the deep, dark thoughts. The broken hearted cries. Banished into the abyss, for now.

I feel numb. I don’t know what’s worse- the mental and emotional anguish I was living, or the numb void left in my mind. Do you know what it feels like to sit silent for a whole minute and not have an entire thought cross your mind? I do now, but I didn’t before today.

Day three on medication, and the whirling and turning, the creeping venom of unfiltered thoughts has ceased. It’s an odd phenomenon. I feel weird. I keep waiting for another virus to interrupt this quiet space in my head, this empty place. So far, none has come.

Even as I write this, my mind is still, only thinking of the words in front of me. No interruptions, no landslides, no tornadoes ripping me to shreds. Just silence. What is wrong with this picture? It’s going to take some getting used to. I don’t know if it will always feel this way, or if this is just a nice break from the usual chaos in my head, but it is alien.

Lexapro- Day 3

I heard this song on the radio today and wanted to share it because it really says so much about how I feel right now. I’m doing the best that I can.

So, the meds have some not so great side effects: nausea and stomach ache are the two I’ve noticed. I also have a sore throat, but that could be unrelated. One positive side effect is that I find my appetite has decreased. Perhaps this will be a blessing in disguise.

Like all antidepressants, it can take 4-6 weeks to notice any major changes towards better moods and decreased anxiety. Thus far I have not noticed a decrease in my creative ability or any adverse effects. I have noticed that my mind does not appear to wander as much. I am not having as many anxious thoughts. This is a welcome change. Only time will tell whether it works for helping me overcome my depressive moods.

Well, I know this is brief, but I’ll come back and update more later. Have a good day, and best wishes on your healing journey. -ss

I had a psychiatric evaluation in 2008 which diagnosed me with major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, and post traumatic stress disorder. Okay, I accepted the diagnosis, even if I didn’t feel it was all that severe.

Yesterday I met with a second psychiatrist as part of my follow up after being discharged. She confirmed the primary evaluation and prescribed me an antidepressant (Lexapro) to help with the depression and anxiety. I took my first pill yesterday and have felt nauseous since then. I do not know for sure if this is a side effect of the medication, or a delayed reaction to the tylenol pms I took Sunday night. I am hoping it is the Lexapro, and that it will work itself out in the next two weeks. I did put a call into the psychiatrist to make sure that this was anticipated and not something I needed to be seen for.

The official Lexapro website lists the side affects of the drug:

In clinical trials, the most common side effects associated with Lexapro treatment in adults were nausea, insomnia (difficulty sleeping), ejaculation disorder (primarily ejaculation delay), fatigue and drowsiness, increased sweating, decreased libido, and anorgasmia (difficulty achieving orgasm). Side effects in pediatric patients were generally similar to those seen in adults; however, the following additional side effects were commonly reported in pediatric patients: back pain, urinary tract infection, vomiting, and nasal congestion.

These are not all the possible side effects with Lexapro. Please see the Important Risk Information, including boxed warning at the bottom of this page, and the full Prescribing Information.

After meeting with the psychiatrist yesterday, I have better understanding of my mental health issues and feel confident that this new treatment plan will work much better. She made it  clear to me that I cannot work through therapy without being stable and to be stable I need medication. “It’s not an option for you” she said, “some of my patients can choose medication or choose not to take it, but you MUST take it.” So, I’m now officially “medicated” and hoping that this will be effective. I don’t want to be another one of those patients who has to try a dozen different drugs before finding one that works for me. I hate taking pills as it is and am hoping I can remember them.

Because my current counseling office does not provide psychiatric services at a reduced rate, I will be meeting with my therapist to have a closure session and process my transfer of services paperwork. Following that I will have intake processing at the new treatment facility and meet with my psychiatrist, who I met yesterday, for my first counseling session.

My new counselor, Dr. H., is a childhood psychiatrist who generally refers anyone over 18 to one of the male psychiatrists in her office, but because of my history of childhood trauma, she feels that she can help me. If at any point we come to an impasse on her ability to help me, then she will refer me to one of the male psychiatrists in the office who work with adult patients. For now, I feel confident that we are going in the right direction. This way, I can receive my medication and my counseling services at the same place and not have to worry about the demands of transferring charts and updating therapists and such. It will be easier to have all the communication done in the same office and the same agency.

So just wanted to provide an update for those who are following my blog. As always, best wishes on your journey to healing- ss.

I spent the better part of the afternoon in the psychiatric section of the trauma unit. Fun, huh? Not exactly!

It’s a long story and I don’t really feel able to share the details right now. But if you could, hold out some good thoughts for me. I have a meeting in the morning to follow up and hopefully get some medication to overcome this darkness.

I always tell myself that when I am hurting the most, that is when I need to reach out. So, with humility and hope for receiving compassion, I am going to share about the last few days.

The last few days I have been seriously struggling with my urges to self-injure. I have an interview for a job coming up mid-week, and I need my arms clear of marks. Since I could not resist the urge or compulsion to cut, I found a new spot, one less visible. The problem is that I cannot get the same relief from it. And I have to make a larger number of cuts to feel any relief at all. So for three days I have been injuring in this new place and last night I became really frustrated with myself.

In my desperation to make my world stop spinning, to feel grounded, to stop the pain in my heart that just wouldn’t quit, I took a large amount of pills and crawled into a bed. I woke up some hours later feeling dizzy and disoriented, but surprisingly not at all ill.

Saturday evening when I began feeling extremely low, I called my therapist and left her a voicemail. I knew that she would not receive it until today, but I reasoned with myself that at least I had attempted to do other things before I gave in to self-destructive behaviors.

I feel very groggy and everything seems to be moving in slow motion. The numbness is unreal. My whole body feels slightly tingly, but my emotions are almost completely absent today. I have a slight headache and am rather irritable.

I finally caved in and ate something. I was trying to avoid it in case I became nauseous, but that side affect is entirely absent from my system thus far. Remarkable really.

So here I am, with my mind barely here and my emotions nearly dead, writing this out. Some might call what I did a cry for help; others might call it a need for attention, but I don’t believe it was either. I believe I was trying to just make the world silent for a few minutes. It worked. I slept last night, almost an entire 6 hours. I’ve only been getting 2-4 hours of sleep a night this past week, so six straight undisturbed hours is a major accomplishment.

One of the things I am doing to help with my awareness of my mental state is to keep a mood chart. It tracks my highest and lowest moods, anxiety and irritability levels, medications, sleeping patterns, and level of functioning throughout the month. Since starting this chart on June 1, 2010, I have already noticed that my depressive state is much more dysfunctional than my heightened state. What I mean by this is that when I am in an elevated mood, I typically do not experience non-functioning days. I am able and zealous about taking care of my home, self, and family, almost to the point of being overbearing and over critical. I am certainly productive and even run myself ragged in those elevated moments.

In contrast, my depressive state leaves me functionless. I find it difficult to shower, take care of my house, tend to my children, and be a good wife to my spouse. I struggle with daily tasks that are seemingly insignificant on  good days but feel insurmountable on bad ones. For example, taking a shower becomes a dreaded chore, and playing with my children exhausts any energy I might have left over from the last time I was in an elevated state. It is as if any movement depletes me of vital life energy on those dark days. I struggle with feeling numb, and yet crying for no apparent reason. I stare at blank computer monitors and tv screens and see nothing but a blurred box. I become a shell, not a life. Depression looms over me like a thick grey cloud threatening rain.

So if the depression renders me useless, how do I find my way out of it? This is one of the things I want to discuss with my therapist at our next session. I know there are things I can do to help myself not feel so depressed, but they all seem to just be distractions and not a real “cure” for getting out of a depressive state. I journal; I write here. I force myself out of the house with my children. I call friends. I make myself do things that bring me joy most of the time in hopes they will stimulate less threatening emotions. I tickle my children because their laughter is contagious. I draw; I scream, I cut. I don’t know if any of this really helps. It does for the moment, but not for the long term.

Perhaps life is about the moment. Taking each moment and overcoming it, enjoying it. Perhaps if I can string together a dozen successful ways to overcome depression and do them all back to back I will steal an hour of joy from my sorrow. It’s just a thought. For this moment, it is all I have. Best wishes on your healing journey. ~ss