Addiction saved me, and then I had to save myself.

Addiction saved me, and then I had to save myself.

I feel like, since I was young, self destruction has flowed in my blood. Then it’s divided and multiplied like a pathogen or parasite inside me and it’s lived there, among my organs, ever since. I don’t know why I’m so attracted to the prospect of destruction and excited by recklessness. Why do I prefer to live my life in chaos rather than serenity? To thrive in chaos is an omen. This is something I learned only recently, after 5 or so years of starving myself into non-existence. I’ve known a big part of me is an addictive side to my personality, the part that can’t ignore impulses and doesn’t want to acknowledge consequences for my behaviour. It was first the anorexia, then the self harming, then sex and then alcohol- almost like my mind can’t help but find new things to get stuck on. A big part of me is fearful, but somewhat darkly excited by the question: what will it be next?

I think in some ways, addiction is addictive because we know it’s toxic. It’s that kind of mentality that it’s so wrong but it feels so right that the part of my brain that just can’t get enough, bows down to. But no matter how much our brains romanticise the things that are going to kill us there is one thing we have to remember, as much as it feels like a lie, it is an illusion. As much as we repeat the same old thing in our heads, like a mantra ‘to convert a dystopia to a utopia, it must be destroyed’, it is and will always be a lie. There’s that parasite that lives inside us that we mistake for ourselves. It blooms like algae when we feel the most hopeless and the more dependent we become on it, the more is grows and grows into the body of us. And what started out as a problem, finally goes by our name. A shape-shifter of sorts. But the secret that keeps growing inside us can’t stay hidden. It shows itself on the outside, empty bottles of vodka, clothes that keep getting looser and looser around out waist, scars or long sleeves and a sadness on our expression. You see, what started out as something to help tame our unruly feelings, or keep us safe or give us an escape, didn’t just destroy the things we wanted to rid ourselves of, it destroyed us and everything else around us as well.

The long process of recovery and rebuilding begins when we, our family or our body can’t keep it up anymore. Someone or something says ‘that’s enough’ and we come back down to earth much faster than we ever went up. It is excruciating. Learning to restrain the parasite that’s made a home within us. You fight yourself whilst also trying to save yourself, because as much as the addiction saved us from what we wanted to forget about our lives, it will never make it go away. It will never be enough. With help, that impossible process can be made possible. A life that seems too painful to bear becomes kinder, and somewhere we want to be. And with every step towards peace and serenity we take, the air we breathe says ‘welcome home’.

-Emma Catherine

Instagram- @rain.on.rosy.cheeks

WordPress- thelilaclysander.wordpress.com

 

Love Yourself beyond your body

Love Yourself beyond your body

love the parts of you that you never even think of
your elbows and your brain
your laugh, your stride, your expressions
love the bits of you that you hate
snores, sneezes, dodgy hip, achy neck
make sure you love the things you can’t see but know are there
the attitude that sparks blazes
and the shyness that makes your cheeks glow amber
most importantly
love yourself beyond your body
love yourself when you give more love than you take
or when you ache in your stomach from feeling
everything all at once or nothing at all
that part of you that feels every emotion of your friends
even when it seems like no one understands your brain
the mind of so many ideas its like a firework display
or the gentle calm you bring when you smile
remember to love your voice as well
not what it sounds like, but the words it speaks
love the chaos in what you scream
and the power in what you sing
(even if it’s only in the shower)
love yourself because of who you love
and
love yourself because you’re learning to love yourself.

-Emma Catherine
Instagram @rain.on.rosy.cheeks
thelilaclysander.wordpress.com

Dissociation is weird and so am I (my experience and how to cope)

Dissociation is weird and so am I (my experience and how to cope)

It’s kind of strange to describe dissociation to people because although its something I experience frequently, I’m often too dissociated to even know how to describe it when I’m in the grips of an episode. I feel the strong pull of depersonalisation and derealization as part of this jumbled up brain I’ve got between my ears. What I do know, is what it feels like when you start entering one of these episodes (which, for me, last a few hours to a full day, but some people experience it for much less time and some, much longer).

Multiple times I’ve turned up to an appointment and I’ve been going through a tough time and as soon as we start talking about any of it I will rapidly start to space out. It feels like slowly losing a hold of reality and drifting away from the present. My thinking is slowed down and my brain just kind of sits there until the perceived danger it thinks I’m in has passed. Another way I’ve described it is like watching the world around you through water or dense fog. It’s like my eyes can see all around me, but I can’t make sense of what I’m seeing and I can’t fully *observe* (oh wow, I think that may have been a Sherlock reference). It’s like being in your bedroom and looking around it, but my brain isn’t able to go ‘oh that’s my bed’ or ‘that is my wardrobe’. I’m in the room, but I’m not really there. My senses are dulled sometimes things go slightly quieter, also, I notice I can’t smell very well and I often find anything I can smell unpleasant.

Dissociation is technically a symptom of an illness, but I do have first hand experience with derealisation/depersonalisation. When derealization takes hold I feel like the world is flat and almost 2 Dimensional, it’s duller and it feels almost cardboard and like I’m not fully present in it. Quite literally, the world just doesn’t feel real. Derealization can be quite alarming and so can depersonalisation. Depersonalisation is also something that differs from person to person but I notice that when I shut my eyes I can see images of my limbs and face getting really really small and then really really big again. I don’t quite feel things properly like my legs are numb (but not really physically, just perceived that way) and it becomes hard to recognise my own reflection in the mirror. Imagine watching your own body as if it’s from above- it’s kind of like that.

A part of learning to manage dissociation (which is really bloody hard) is knowing it’s our body trying to shield us from something painful/ distressing, something that our brains can learn when we’ve been through trauma. As in my case, it can happen after a particular traumatic event that happened when I was 16 and prolonged distress when I was young. (People tend to throw around the word dissociation sometimes but it’s actually a response to real or perceived trauma, as your body detaches you from that distressing situation it’s in- it’s a confusing and frustrating experience, but it’s actually our brain trying to keep us safe). But it’s important to remember that dissociation is a spectrum, which ranges from what people without a mental illness may experience as ‘feeling spacey’ or ‘spaced-out’ to an amplified version where you dissociate, or when you feel you ‘blacked-out’ or have missing parts in your memory. And as always, every person dealing with dissociation deserves healing and help <3.

I only really get it in episodes but some people can have it as a permanent presence in their lives which must make it so hard to get stuff done when you feel like you’re not real. Reaching out for professional support can help with the actual route of the dissociation (but you probably already know that). But some things that I’ve noticed can keep me more present are:

  1. Grounding techniques- I find these really hard to do but they work with practice. This can be doing things like listing 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch and so on. Or it can be going from head to toe and noticing all the sensations every part of your body feels.
  2. Sensory- spraying a little perfume and really focusing on the scent can help you tune in and remind you of where you are (especially if there are good memories associated with the smells. (If you’re out and about spraying a sleeve of your top that you can smell could help). Also clapping your hands to feel the slight sting in your palms and the noise it makes to keep you present. Keeping something small like a shell or a pebble or a stone that you can feel in your hands.
  3. Preventing stress- If you can feel yourself getting more stressed than usual or you begin to get distressed try and self-soothe or talk and resolve things with people.
  4. Sleep- I’ve found dissociation whilst being tired can be 10 times worse, so sleeping in when you can and making yourself comfortable before bed so you sleep well (hot water bottle when it’s cold, or with a light sheet when it’s warm). Having said this, once you’re already spaced out, I’ve found napping doesn’t work for me, I wake up feeling much more confused and weird.
  5. Using alcohol a lot and drinking when you’re already spaced out is not a good idea (it has led me to get way more distressed and way more spaced out) and sedative meds may be making things a little more sleepy during the day if you’re finding things are getting worse (but always take your meds as you’ve been told and talk to your doctor if you have questions).

Hope this helps you understand dissociation or can help you cope with it 🙂

-Emma Catherine

Instagram @rain.on.rosy.cheeks

Blog thelilaclysander.wordpress.com

 

Poem- To Rebuild a Body

Poem- To Rebuild a Body

The desire to starve, destroy, bleed, break apart and balloon
Is a gaslight where our stomach should be and a bonfire between our ears
Like it’s the only thing that’s keeping us warm
It’s the blood that carries our oxygen and our glucose
And it’s nerves that are threaded through our bodies
And to rebuild a body to make it work
Feels like the thought of splitting every atom in the soil of Earth and growing worms in their place
Because when your body grows brittle from the riptides of euphoria
And your neck becomes sore from carrying the poison that you can’t seem to get out of your skin
It’s time to say
If it takes flooding my stomach to extinguish that fire
And a blot of lightning to calm those nerves sewn into me
And an explosion of those infinite atoms that make up the earth beneath our feet
Just to make sense of ourselves and rebuild ourselves
Then
That’s what it takes.

~by Emma Cunningham

Poem- The Earth Beneath The Canopy

Poem- The Earth Beneath The Canopy

Trigger Warning- Sexual Assault

It only took one right to realise exactly who I was to him
Weeks of sharing and sharing and oversharing
And in that hour all I was to him was a fallen leaf to pick up and take away to wherever he wanted
I learned I was most wanted
When I was undressed instead of speaking
I was no longer a person when my voice was unheard
And I was all his when I gave up and gave in
No matter what I said or didn’t say
I was silent to him
Actually
I was a leaf picked from a growing tree
And once admired
Joined the ones growing brittle on the earth beneath the canopy
And from that place I could see
Exactly how far and how fast I had been pushed
And exactly how far and how long it would take me to climb all the way back up

~by Emma Cunningham

Poem- Will You Love Me When You Realise It’s Not An Act?

Poem- Will You Love Me When You Realise It’s Not An Act?

I swear to god I wish it were a movie
I wish at the end of the day I could push the scene around me down to the floor
Take of the makeup from my eyes
And the skin off my face, neck and limbs like it was latex

Step out of these clothes that feel tight against my knees and my chest
But I know that
Once I am home I can’t stop being her
Me
I can’t close the script and turn off the accents and the mannerisms I never chose in the first place
Oh the luxury of being an actor

They know what sadness, anger and elation feel like
But living in the shoes of someone who never stops feeling
Who can never stop aching when the curtain comes down at the end of the show
Who can’t quite just
Be

The music doesn’t stop playing
And the dramatics don’t stop exploding
And the spot light will keep on shining
Even if it’s a bank holiday or a birthday

It’s not
And it never will be
A play that I put on life like it’s a stage
Don’t think for a second I got lessons on surviving this
Because you don’t audition to be ill and weak and lonely
And I’m never sexy and sad, or exciting when I can’t stop drinking or fashionably mysterious like you wish I was

So you better quote me like I’m your idol
You better clap and throw flowers and cry with me when I bow
I hope you start to love me
I hope you start to understand me
When it’s over
When it’s the final scene
I hope you love me

Will you love me when you realise it’s not an act?

-by Emma Cunningham

Identity and Me (living with Borderline Personality Disorder)

Identity and Me (living with Borderline Personality Disorder)

Who am I? Every morning I wake up and I feel like I have to build myself into someone. I construct a style, a temperament, an interest. But even so I never really know who I am *underneath* it all. For so long, I’ve had to get a grip on my gender, my sexuality (which sometimes still gets me in a muddle) and who I am without all of that and my mental health. I know identity disturbance is common when you’re struggling with complex stuff in your head. And anyway teenagers are meant to be going out into the world and ‘finding themselves’ blah blah. But it’s more than that. It’s getting confused, and switching from person to person every few days, it’s evolving your handwriting to be like the person you admire, or picking up your friends’ phrases. I find so much comfort in my friends sending me things because they remind them of me, or noticing things about my character or my attitude. It is in those moments that I find out things about myself that I find so confusing sometimes. Knowing that you have Borderline Personality Disorder, makes me confront that a huge part of me, my personality, my body and my soul is dysfunctional, erratic and volatile at times, but it makes me realise just how passionate, energetic and expressive, unique and interesting I am. But also, there’s a lot of Emma that I’m discovering too. I like as much colour as possible. I like cats, bees, bats and elephants. I’m an absolute weirdo with my friends like wow. I find so much beauty in the sky and flowers are just so fabulous (when I’m less impulsive I want to get some tattooed on me). I’m affectionate. I love books and I’m doing English at uni. I feel good with my make-up on and with dyed hair (for the future I’m going by: the brighter the better). I want to work in publishing or therapy. But this is me right now, I know I’ll evolve from the second I post this. Let’s see who I become.