Anger, hurt and frustration

 

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Trigger warning. Please be aware the content of this blog may trigger some people.

Over the past few months I have slowly become more aware of some of my alters; the different parts of me, it’s an interesting journey of discovery. But this past week I have had to face up to the reality that at least one part of me is angry, and contains anger that frightens me. I discussed this at my therapy session this week in the hope of trying to understand more about this part of me and why they are angry.

In fairness to the alter I have to say that the anger isn’t aimed directly at anyone, it builds as a result of incidents that cause us fear and hurt. The outcome is that this part of me vents verbally the frustration we feel, though the venting isn’t done towards any individual it’s more an outburst verbally of anger.

In the last few months there have been three incidents of verbal venting and all have occurred around my eldest son who is 26, he isn’t the cause of the anger or frustration that we feel. Unfortunately he just happens to be around when it becomes too intolerable to contain anymore and this part of me takes control and out comes the rage we feel. These incidents have lasted no more than a few minutes each time and yet the aftermath is huge.

The last incident took place last weekend and I am told that the children could tell it was brewing so were well prepared. I had no idea at all that the frustration, upset and hurt that was inside of me was coming to the fore and was about to pour out in a verbal venting that wasn’t nice for them or me.

The moment I exploded the words poured out of my mouth in one long verbal rant and I was aware this was happening and yet had absolutely no control. Immediately afterwards I felt wracked with guilt and sorrow, I hated the fact I had lost it and I hated that I couldn’t control this angry part of me. I was also so concerned about the children my son and my daughter witnessed the last incident and they didn’t deserve this it wasn’t their fault. They tell me they are fine and can cope with this, but I still worry about them.

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My frustration had been building for weeks, I had been hurt by someone and that hurt and betrayal felt horrendous and despite trying to deal with it I obviously hadn’t. For me the fact we felt betrayed, let down and hurt was really difficult and the pain and anguish that I felt just didn’t go away. The difficult part was a number of parts of me felt this hurt and so I wasn’t just carrying the hurt of one but of many and that was hard.

I have been trying to rationalise my feelings for a few weeks now, telling myself that it was ok to feel this way and I’m learning that I have every right to feel hurt. I have also spent time trying to tell myself that none of this was my fault because it wasn’t and yet the person who hurt us had tried to put the blame on me. Now for most people when someone tries to blame you for something you haven’t done, you can just bat it back and refuse to accept the persons attempt at transferring their guilt onto you. Sadly for someone like me who has been through years of abuse it’s not so easy, my default is to take the blame.

I didn’t realise this until recently, but I’m good at self blame, I’m good at taking responsibility for things that aren’t my fault and I’m learning why. As a child and into adulthood it was common for my main abuser to put the blame for everything onto me. I was the bad child who would get locked up if I told about my abuse, it was after all my fault or so they told me. I was also the child who was always getting things wrong, upsetting them and making them angry at me, thus justifying their physical abuse inflicted on me.

Things didn’t improve as an adult this main abuser would still tell me that every thing that went wrong was my fault. When one of my children was diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder, I was constantly told by them it was punishment for me being a bad person. When the car broke down that was my mistake too I must have driven it badly, I was so bad at everything. The sad fact is that at the time I believed them, I was so used to their constant put downs that it didn’t matter how much others would counteract their lies, I always believed them.

Hence my default position is to take the blame because well that’s just how I have become wired over the years. Its taking time and a lot of patience from my psychologist to get me to stop being so self critical, and to think about blame. So when the person who hurt us tried to transfer the blame too I think initially I took it. It was only as time has progressed and I have carried on working at rationalising this incident and their betrayal, that I have accepted it wasn’t my fault.

But of course I hadn’t dealt with the pain and hurt I justifiably felt, until it all became too big to contain anymore and then the part of me that gets angry did just that. I spoke to my psychologist about this anger and how it made me feel and we talked about how everyone has an angry side, they just vent it in different ways. Perhaps they kick the wall or slam the door, people have different ways of letting go of their hurt or anger, I’m just learning about mine.

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I now realise that as a child I bottled up my anger, it wasn’t safe to show it or let it out. I can recall that on one occasion I tried to tell my main abuser how much I hated her and that she was nothing more than a big bully. I recall I lost out big style, and was sore for a few days afterwards as she and my brother gave me a beating. The beating was to teach me a lesson they felt I needed and I guess it worked, I never dare express again my anger or hurt.

I lived with anger all around, my main abuser would get drunk and explode with venom at a moments notice. Though to be fair she didn’t need the drink to make her do this it was part of who she was. I grew up soaking in all this anger, this rage and I contained anger and rage from the times I couldn’t express my hurt, pain and frustration too.

It is no wonder there is apart of me that finds it hard to contain her feelings of hurt and frustration and who at times loses control and vents. Of course now I want and need to work through all this anger, not just the present day stuff but the past too. The good thing is I feel guilty when I have lost control and vented, and am I not venting directly at people, so there is hope.

This week when I have felt my frustration levels building I have taken myself off to my room, sat quietly and talked internally. I’m trying to tell all of me that it’s ok that we feel hurt, it’s justifiable and it’s ok to vent if we use art or some other safe means. We are coming to terms with the fact anger is an emotion like many others and it’s ok if we use it well, I’m 48 years old and just learning it’s ok to be angry.

Maybe that’s the reality of being a survivor of childhood abuse, the reality of Dissociative Identity Disorder is that I’m just learning to live, live with all my parts. The part that feels angry isn’t bad she just needs time, patience, space and I guess lots of loving, of course I need to give that loving or self nurture to me because this angry part is a part of me.

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Copyright DID Dispatches 2014

 

 

 

Self harm and the attitudes of medical professionals

Self harm and the attitudes of medical professionals

 

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This week I heard from a friend who had to attend her local hospital to receive treatment as a result of self harm and her treatment was unfortunately not very helpful. This led me to thinking about the times I either attended A & E or was taken there by the police for treatment, usually as a result of self harming or being deemed mentally unwell and requiring treatment.

It is nearly ten years since my first ever hospital admission, but for many months before I had hidden the self harm that was taking place. I tried hard to wear long sleeves to hide the cuts and dressings which I needed to stem bleeding etc. I was determined not to require anyone to know that I felt so desperate and confused that I could only survive by self harming. This was in the form of cuts, burns, starvation, restricting my fluid intake or overdoses, by the time I was admitted to hospital my self harm was a daily occurrence such was the turmoil I found myself in.

I hid my self harm from medical professionals, my family and my friends no one but me; I thought, knew I was living this life. I can recall going out for days with the children carrying implements in my bag ready to harm, and hibernating in bathrooms and cutting during these days out. I would feel myself getting so distressed during the day that I couldn’t survive any longer and so self harm took place. Yet once it was done and I felt a wave of release that I had punished myself which I felt I deserved I could then calmly walk back out and carry on with life.

I was confused to such an extent that I believed I needed to punish myself because that way I would be safe from others hurting me, and I was terrified that past abusers would come and hunt me down and hurt me. I even had a notion that because one of my abusers was my mother that I was bad as I had her blood inside me, thus if I bled enough I would rid myself of her badness.

Now all this time no one knew how much I was struggling, the GP knew I wasn’t too great but all they kept saying was ‘take time out and relax more’, and ‘all women go through these phases’.
They never asked if I felt suicidal or what scale my mood was, they did eventually arrange for me to see a doctor and thereafter just told me I was on a waiting list to see a psychiatrist. Yet in the meantime I was continually told to ‘hang in there’, occasionally they’d tell me things would improve.

Of course things just kept getting worse and when I attended the GP one day and I saw a different doctor who asked to test my blood pressure; because I looked like I was going to faint, he saw the wounds that by now littered my arms. Recent cuts had been deeper and the blood loss alongside starving myself wasn’t helping me feel any better. It was then that he made the call and I was suddenly being sent to the local psychiatric unit for assessment. At this time I realised my eldest child had sensed something was wrong and had suspected I was self injuring, but we had both said nothing until I was en-route to the unit.

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A & E staff from the start were slightly arrogant and mainly uncaring, if I had to attend as a result of cutting I lost count of the times I felt to blame by their attitude towards me. It was as if they weren’t best pleased to be treating me after all in their eyes I had self inflicted this injury upon myself, they never looked beyond the injury to the person. On only one occasion can I recall a doctor being helpful, he was actually concerned for me wanting to know why I hurt and was I getting help for my mental health. He treated me like a human being and not an attention seeking time waster which is what many other medical professionals seemed to treat me as.

The sad fact is the attitudes that I faced ten years ago still exist today, that means the medical profession has failed to learn about or understand self harming behaviours in a decade. That concerns me because I am aware of the efforts of so many different groups including government health organisations whose aim was to educate about self harm and improve outcomes for patients. A decade ago these organisation were trying to produce guidance to end the stigma that exists around those who self harm, if attitudes haven’t changed does that mean their efforts failed?

Self harm is not something we should ignore or take for granted for behind every scar, every injury there is human suffering. I didn’t harm for the fun of it and if I wanted to seek attention believe me I can think of lots of better ways of doing that. I wasn’t time wasting either, I was in acute emotional distress and I needed help. I couldn’t explain the anguish I was going through, the only way I could find to deal with the turmoil that was my life was to inflict injuries upon my own body.

Be that cutting, burning, overdosing or restricting the amount of food or fluids I took in, each act was either an attempt to deal with intense pain and turmoil, or the result of irrational thoughts. I wasn’t doing this because I enjoyed it, truth be known I hated myself for doing it, in fact I loathed my scars. The reality was I tried so desperately to avoid seeking medical attention as the last place I wanted to go to was A & E where I would be made to feel even more ashamed and be stigmatised.

Self harm controlled me a decade ago and at times of crisis it can still take control of my life today, it is sadly my default position when the pain is too much. Now when I lapse back into self harming I tend to injure in other ways in the hope it’s less visual, but it’s still harming all the same. Now I am not proud of the fact I self harm and I don’t want these feelings either, I would like to be free of self harm and yet I now understand it is a symptom of the life I lived as a child. A life which caused untold damage and will take a long time to deal with and heal from, my self harming is a symptom of my mental health not the cause.

The cause is my past and today I am having to face the harsh reality that I was betrayed, abused and psychologically damaged. Currently I am feeling emotions for the first time and I am starting to grieve over the fact I was hurt, I’m starting to come to terms with the dawning realisation that the horrific memories I hold and continue to recall don’t belong to my alters at all. They just carry my memories, and it was this body, it was me as a child and a teenager who the abusers defiled. Believe me that’s tough, it’s a harsh journey survivors walk there is a lot of pain and anguish that has to be processed and dealt with.

Perhaps when dealing with a person who is self harming instead of vilifying them and judging them medical professionals should remember to gently seek out the cause of this symptom. They should in my opinion treat those who self harm with the dignity, care and respect they so badly need, and they should afford them the right treatment to help them move forwards.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2014