Vanity is a lie

Vanity is a lie

I look in the mirror far too much.
I fish for complements.
I paint my face, a mask,
I put blood on my lips
I wash my hair of everything bad that lives inside my head
I comb it and curl it
Until you can see every shade of beautiful honey blonde that shines there.

I look in the mirror far too much.
I admire my glow,
My radiance,
My perfect lips.
I see the beauty that everyone tells me I possess
And I ignore the faces of people who have ruined my dignity that I see beside me
The hungry spirits that possess me.
I watch those people staring at me
Thinking
‘god look at that beauty
what a pretty little thing
Look at that vanity’

But really
When I stare into my own eyes in the reflection
I blink back the tears
to stop the black paint running from my eyelashes
And I ask myself
How can this body
Hide the thick repulsive poison that sits inside?
How can it conceal the pain
That burns up the organs inside of me?
Vanity builds the blooming garden of roses across my cheeks
and the sunflowers that reach up my legs
To hide the bundles of stinging nettles that fill out my bones.

I look in the mirror far too much.
So tell me
How can it be that I am so beautiful?
When so much ugliness has been bred inside me?
What a treasure
That people see vanity instead of vulnerability
Vanity instead of years of violation.
What an absolute
Beautiful
Treasure.

Toxicity- trauma, abuse, me

Toxicity- trauma, abuse, me

There’s this feeling I get a lot of the time. The feeling of enlightenment that not everyone’s life is riddled with turmoil. That some people feel safe in their own home, or even with just themselves. That people can trust themselves to keep out of harm’s way, and not throw them into dangerous, reckless, stupid situations because of impulse issues and self-destructive tendencies. And the one that hits me so deeply; that people feel safe with their family. I feel this countless times, especially when I’m at friends houses.

I see the way they sit around their parents, their dad, comfortable, entitled to the seat they lounge in, unafraid. I see the way they talk to their parents, eye contact is something they can bear to hold with each other, and they can speak without screaming or saying nothing at all. To see their mums talking (not slurring), and draws are used for pots and pans, and wardrobes for clothes, instead of wine bottles.

This is the kind of freedom I realise I do not have. To live in a home instead of a house is not something I have had the privilege of doing.

I realise how much of an empty space this has made in me. One that means my friends are more family than my own blood. Feeling no care from my parents sometimes had left wanting more from them, all the way up to my 18th birthday. This wanting ‘more’ has been utilised in soft toys, changing my hair colour, impulsive spending, binge drinking and alcohol abuse myself, dangerous sexual relations, self-harm, and starvation. And a whole lot of thick, grey, emptiness. An emptiness that has almost killed me, many times. People showing me care is like me, a small moth, to a huge chandelier of light. I love you instantly if you show kindness. I can barely hold myself back from hugging you because I’ve never learnt that such kindness should be normal between people.

But it has put me in much more sinister, harmful places. I have been taken advantage of numerous times because of that emptiness it’s brought me. I can become so defensive and aggressive when hurt, trying to protect myself from that familiar pain. I can be out of control with alcohol and in mania, that I drink until I am seriously vulnerable. And a combination of this brought me to the worst night of my life when I was sexually assaulted. Violently, and degradingly. All because I never learnt how to protect myself from the real dangers because of my emotions, and because I did not know how to trust people who showed me some kindness.

Abuse is the toxic film over the eyes. You can’t see or even feel other people properly while it’s there. And like genetics, abuse like mine in childhood moulds you, usually permanently (although you can heal don’t worry), into the adult version of myself. My deep-rooted personality. My person.

The thing is with abuse, it often starts with one toxic person taking things out on you horribly, but the more you endure it, the less you truly feel the reality of abuse. Then them hurting you, can turn into you also hurting you, just to cope. For me, it was as if hurting myself, in whatever form, became soothing. I was used to being hurt, so I made it okay when I was doing it myself. It is sad, but it is also okay. I have never experienced abuse as we show it in the media, the hitting, serious physical neglect of small children, isolation from school due to injuries. No. But I have experienced extreme emotional and psychological abuse, along with a parent with her own demons. Each ‘blow-up’ was a trauma, and this repetitious traumatising grates on the mind and I feel like it just kept breaking me down. As much as I felt myself crumbling, it was hidden. And that’s almost what makes it so bad. It’s invisible.

Emotional abuse is just as serious as the other kinds of abuse. It fucks you up just as much. It catches you off guard. And it feels like being burned alive. (And oh god that horrible feeling of knowing you just can’t escape it, and even if you can physically leave that house, parts of you are always left there). It makes us extremely emotional, but colourful. Deeply loving and loyal. Kind, compassionate and empathetic. A wonderful human. And when the abuse has passed, bury it. But the bits that you are left with, I want us to turn into the most beautiful rainbow in the sky. Run with the parts of yourself that are troubled, build them up into flowers and watch them bloom. Beautiful, and stronger than ever before.

by Emma Catherine

thelilaclysander.com

instagram- @rain.on.rosy.cheeks

 

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

 

Validation and severity ~in trauma and mental health~

Validation and severity ~in trauma and mental health~

I think of ‘trauma’ as a massive umbrella term used to describe an event or events that have occurred in your life, and what you experienced was unpleasant and/or distressing and has been hard to cope with and had an impact on your life in some way. But this term is very flexible and means different things to different people. There are no set limits on what can be classed as a trauma. Personally, I’ve been treated mostly with respect when talking about my trauma, but for many people opening up about it can leave them feel not only vulnerable and upset, but sometimes very invalid. It is not okay to invalidate someone’s trauma, don’t let anyone tell you that it wasn’t severe or ‘bad enough’ to be serious (every trauma is serious). The same can also be said for forms of addiction, no matter how long your addition lasted for, or how serious the physical impacts were- you are still valid, in the same way weight, inpatient stays and how you look do not impact how valid or serious an eating disorder is. Often playing in to these natural and common insecurities about how severe and valid a mental illness, addiction or trauma is, can encourage an unhealthy, toxic and often deadly sense of competitiveness in mental health communities. The trauma is valid no matter if you did or didn’t develop a mental health problem like PTSD or anxiety because of it. How long it lasted, the age you were when it happened and who it involved do not have any impact on the perceived ‘severity’ of the trauma. And of course it is absolutely never your fault. I think the way to think about it is that trauma is not about *what* happened, but about the way it affects/affected you and the impacts of what you experienced. Everyone is allowed to work through, move on and heal from what happened- you are worthy of that. Always.