Reaching out

– So, how are things this week?

– Fine. It’s been fine. Last week, it’s been different. The session last week, the light bar, it was different. I wasn’t in the event as long, not really. Not reliving. And I roamed a bit, my head was in various places. When you brought me back it was. You know?

– Quiet. Empty. There was low distress.

– And that continued. Through the session. Afterwards. On the train home. I was tired. But I didn’t have that hit, the inability to. And the day after’s usually bad. I’m tired, keep quiet, sit in front of episodes of Quincy because I can’t concentrate to read. But I didn’t have that dip. Not until a couple of days after. It was the weekend that was a bit worse. When there were more people around, and I was overwhelmed. I hid away for a while, let things quieten down a bit. And it was okay.

– And the days after. It’s been fine.

– The past few weeks, since that bad period, the drop. It’s been. I mean this week I. I did stuff six months, even a few weeks ago, I wouldn’t have. I’ll try to, you know? Explain. To explain.

– My wife says I look better than I have for five or six years. I feel it’s been longer. I. I started

– I started shutting down about ten years ago. I can see it now. When I was at Uni, when I started work, I could avoid. Distract and avoid. And keep going. And I functioned well. I functioned at a high level. I wrote. Poems. Stories. And looking at them now. The poems are rubbish, but some of the stories are okay. And there were exams and I was good. I did well. And I contributed to work, big things, big projects. And then there were books, lots of stuff. I was good. I could. And then. Things stopped. It was in my head. And I had to shut parts of me down to keep going. And the writing stopped. The concentration went. And I shut down. And over the years with flashbacks and the stuff in my head it was. It was too much. That circle of working contracted. It closed down. I stopped being able to do lots of things. The bandwidth to cope was increasing and I had less. There was less. I’d stuff half done. Things started. But I didn’t think they were worthwhile. Why would anyone care what I thought? Why would anyone bother? If I was worthless, what I thought, what I said was worthless. And so it contracted and contracted until I was left doing the stuff I could only do on automatic pilot. But even then, even then. That ground to a halt too.

– But that’s only part of it. I didn’t have lots of friends through school, through University and work. I found it hard. Giving myself. Because to have friendship you need to give yourself, to emotionally engage, to be open, to trust. And I can’t. I couldn’t. It was hard. So hard.

– I told when I had to. When circumstances made it unavoidable. I voluntarily told once. She’d trusted me so much. I. I.

– I couldn’t give myself. Found it, find it, hard to trust. I find it hard to give myself. I could once. Be there. Be open. But I cut myself off. Every step through life. I don’t keep in touch with anyone from school. There was a reunion I was invited to. I ignored it. Never replied. I couldn’t face it. For a long time the only people I kept up with from Uni were the people I worked with. And my jobs. I’ve lost contact with nearly everyone. And the people I work with now. I’ve come to regard them as people I’ve met. I never had massive heart to hearts. I keep up barriers, withdraw. It’s not necessarily deliberate. It’s benign neglect. Unanswered invitations. Social things I avoided. And so that circle of friends contracts. And there are other circumstances too. Families. Relationships. Children. You lose touch. It’s easy to lose touch. But you feel that no one wants to be in touch with you. You attribute motive. Requests are unnecessarily made. Someone pitying you. They don’t want the contact. And so you reject it. And as you feel more worthless, more valueless you shut off. And it’s tied to work too. As things go on I see it. The bandwidth to cope, as that expands, you lose belief in your self. You’re not worth it. You isolate. You close off.

– But these past few weeks.

– A friend from years ago contacted me. She’d got my out of office, the stark message. She was worried. She bothered. I arranged to meet her. And it was nice. Catching up. We met a couple of times. It was hard. I was tired. But it was nice. So a few years ago I got an email from a former colleague. I didn’t reply. But after. Well, I emailed her. Told her I was ill, that I’d lost contact with people, that I regretted it. And we arranged to meet. And we had lunch. And it was lovely. She’s married now. A child. And it was nice to talk, and she was so understanding.

– It’s all evidence you know. Challenging your negative beliefs, your negative assumptions. They contact you because they care about you. They think you’re worth bothering with.

– I’ve met a few other people, folk I’d had contact with on twitter. And I’ve been quite open. Sometimes they’ve worked it out. They’ve read the blogs or the tweets and. But it’s been nice. I wouldn’t have done that a few months ago. And it’s not always easy but.

– That’s great. You remember you always asked how you would know it was working, and I told you you’d know?

– You understand now?

– Yes. I’ve started reaching out. Reestablishing connections.

– That’s important for the recovery. After you’re well again. New networks. New old networks.

– Do you remember the woman who helped me at University? From my school?

– Yes.

– You know how important she was, how she.

– Well, I found her. A few weeks ago I’d not have thought of looking, but I was searching for her name and I found her.

– I told you I’d never told her how grateful I was. I wanted to write to her. But I was scared. We’d not been in touch since her wedding. That’s nearly twenty years. I was scared. I was worried about upsetting her, worried about how to word it, worried that she’d not reply, or would reply and

– I wrote to her. I found her and wrote to her. I told her I was ill, had been off for months, sick for longer. I told her about the PTSD, about the despair, the haunting. She knew, of course. I’d told her then. She was the first person I told. She told me then to have therapy, that it would help.

– and she was right

– And she was right. I told her about coming here, about the treatment, about the sessions before with the counsellor. And I told her I remembered what she’d done. I told her she’d come up. She’d come up in the counselling and she’d come up here. That I remembered she’d fed me, listened, cared for me. She’d made me feel that I’d mattered. So I thanked her. I told you the other week that she had saved me. And I told her. I told her she’d saved me, she had transformed my life. Without her I’d have left, maybe more. I wouldn’t have the job, wouldn’t have.

– I wouldn’t have

– And I told her that she didn’t need to reply, that I just needed to thank her, because whatever else she did she had made a difference. She’d made a difference and I just needed to thank her.

– She replied.

– It was lovely. It was so lovely. I.

– I got a bit teary. I wasn’t expecting.

– It was. It was lovely. And we talked about our families. And we exchanged email addresses and we might. We might try to meet. And I know we’d not be able to pick up where. But

– Thank you.

– No really. Thank you. You’ve been. This is being so. You’ve been so supportive. And this has been transformative, genuinely transformative. Thank you.

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About loveandgarbage

I watch the telly and read when not doing law stuff and plugging my decade and a half old unwatched Edinburgh fringe show.
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3 Responses to Reaching out

  1. Pingback: Some personal posts | Love and Garbage – some commonplace musings

  2. Chris says:

    Once again, beautifully written.

    I was tearful as I read it. I recognised the fear, the horror of potential rejection.

    You are loved.

    Much love,

    Chris

  3. The smile on my face right now, reading this. There’s a cheesy song on the new Frank Turner album that I can’t help but adore, called “Little Changes”, which he’s said was inspired by his experiences with CBT. Reading this update has given me the same feeling.

    Twitter can be a toxic cesspit at times, but you wouldn’t believe how much it’s made me root for somebody whose real name I don’t even know.

    Much love you you, pal.

    x

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