Introspective Spiral

I’ve just sent off my draft to my counsellor talking about my most recent experience of suicidal thoughts and actions and of the journey back. Unsurprisingly it has raked up a lot of thoughts, emotions, and memories.

What has surprised me has been how much more difficult it has been to get it all down on paper rather than talking about it. It has done more than just make me stumble over those words, and had me in tears in the kitchen this evening.

Quite impressive for something barely over 900 words long. It took me five attempts to start, and in the end bluntness was the only way to make it happen. It mirrors the process of taking these things into session – building up and digging over implications and deductions to work out the whys and connections.

I may post it here at some point. If I do it will be heavily marked with warnings.

If you are in that dark lonely place, dare to reach out. Don’t let go. People will listen and care, and they may be the people you least expect. Don’t give up. Talk.

Return of the Mini-Weekend

So my weekend started today after working my Saturday, and I’ve been quietly enjoying the sunshine, that and the knowledge that I’m also off on Monday. I’ve been mostly just enjoying being in my own head after a week of being around people at work – and I definitely plan to spend some time quietly by the river tomorrow – mostly reading and writing.

And following my most recent counselling session this evening, I’ve got an interesting challenge. I’ve been asked to write a piece that can be used in a training session as a testimony – in this case to talk about when I’ve been suicidal: both in terms of lead up and what came after on the counselling side. I’ve agreed to do it, so a quiet spot by the river without interruptions sounds a good spot to have that introspection.

It’s not the first time I’ve written about my “journey” for use in a class. It’s been a while though. The last time was more focused on recovery from self harm and was both challenging and rewarding to be able to be a coherent voice speaking to people directly and give a perspective on what they may encounter. It’s the same reason I’ve agreed to do it this time – because I want to talk about how I didn’t make it obvious to people that I was in a spiral, but also how it felt to be able to talk about it in counselling once the crisis moment was past. If it helps someone with a future client its worth it.

Good days, Bad days

With the weather a bit cooler today, its made me realise what about the steady heat blanket of this week has had me struggling a bit.

Essentially the lack of breezes had brought a heaviness that was reminding me of the dissociative parts of my depression. Everything was feeling dull and distant and my head was responding to the familiarity of those sensations.

Being a reasonably smart cookie, I recognised this on a subconscious level at least, because I’ve been making efforts to drag myself outside the flat in search of light and sound, and at least hints of moving air. Being around people, talking online, keeping busy, these have all kept my brain shaken from the old tracks. So thats a good thing, possibly even means I’m learning to look after myself.

That said i didn’t really put it all together until counselling this evening, but then that’s what its there for.

Filter Silliness

I probably spend far too much playing around with the silly filters on social media – mostly as we send updates to each other to put a smile on each others faces.

I’m a cute lil devil apparently

What I find interesting is to see how much fun I can have to produce the more unusual poses rather than just the stereotypical straight to camera glares. It appeals to me on an aesthetic level, and can be a fun way of practicing for the cosplay photos.

While that may seem of limited use – it a) is something that makes me happy and b) means I have more confidence when more official photos are taken. I recently had a shot taken at a work event to go on an ID card, and was able to pose enough within the limits that I actually appear to be full of life rather than sapped of the will to live.

Fabulous, or demonic? The jury is still out

Being able to have confidence in my own appearance is a relatively new development. My weight gains due to disordered eating while depressed were huge – at one point I weighed over twenty-one stone (135kg) which played no small part in my developing type two diabetes. I came to loathe images of me, especially when I compared them to the slim and athletic appearance I had when I was younger.

It has only really been the last couple of years since I’ve started cosplaying that I’ve begun to be comfortable with having my photo taken. Dressing up and putting myself in the hands of photographers keen to help me make the best images has both boosted my confidence and given me practical guidance in how to hold myself in healthier and more flattering ways – and to stop caring about looking silly along the way.

Discarding the voice that cares and frets about not looking ridiculous has been a freeing experience and helped me feel more comfortable in my own skin. It has helped me in my own journeys to know myself, and it has helped reduce my retention of stress.

And that’s why I love playing the Fool for selfies. I can let go, laugh at myself and with others. I can welcome the silliness and feel both childlike and more adult in my appreciation of using my body with at least a little less shame.

Yes, I do actually go out in public and pull faces too

Fireworks

It’s Diwali, and fireworks are in the skies around us, celebrating the Festival of Light. A small gathering with sparklers and fountains was held on the main green outside, and the pictures in our local social media look lovely.

In the meantime I’m twitching and nervy, trying not to cringe in response to the sounds all around, while my body seems intent in remembering old injuries. This is a hard week every year, and it will pass.

I love the visuals of light in the dark, celebrating life and new growth. It’s a healthier celebration than the remembrance and symbolic destruction of a group of attempted murderers, but the memories still cling hard. This year is at least better than last year, partly from just being so stressed at work I’ve barely time for my own traumas.

But each explosion tonight reminds me of the sounds in the skies above the terrified boy in an alley being used and that’s why I’m at home with curtains closed, and not really wanting to be…anything right now.

Ruminations

I was in therapy last week, talking about various events in a busy couple of weeks, and how I’m keeping on top of some things, and how other things are knocking at me, and otherwise having a mental and emotional check-up.

As anyone who’s worked their way through counselling can tell you, it’s hard work that spares no blushes when everything clicks – and your relationship with your therapist can be as intimate when it comes to knowing each other as a long term partner. They learn what makes you tick, your tells, your buttons, and at their best when to back off and let you do the heavy digging.

That’s certainly the relationship I have with my counsellor – leading to more than one conversation where we’ve talked about her being as much my partner as either Lady M or lady s when it comes to our therapeutic relationship.

One of the things we explored was my sexuality, and in no small part how the attack so long ago has impacted on how I’ve expressed it over the years. The conversation veered between romantic and platonic connections past and present, and while contemplating it, I said the following (slightly paraphrased):

“For years I’ve not been comfortable showing or talking about myself, let alone exploring what it means to be me. Fear has been with me literally for decades, mixed up in the memories of the assault, but it’s only been the last couple of years that I’ve been able to start to reconcile things in my head.

Over the last couple of years I’ve met and got to know such a wide range of people at kink events and general social occasions that it’s helped me to start to separate the pain and violence of the attack from the sexual aspect and honestly come to be more comfortable in who I am and how my attractions manifest.

It’s my partners, metamours, and friends that have surrounded me with love and accepted me as I start to let go. I’m still having hard times, by more and more I’m just getting irritated and angry about them than being overwhelmed.”

Now, we talked about a lot else and the above is mildly edited for brevity, swearing, and other material that I’m either not going to talk about or that is irrelevant right now.

When I finally stopped talking, my counsellor gave me a picture to consider and think on, based on what is been saying – telling me that it matched the mental image she had of me while I talked.

The picture, if you hadn’t guessed, is the lion in the picture in this blog entry. It has a lot of resonance for me – and for my partners for various aspects they have experienced of me.

There’s all sorts of symbolism of fierceness, nobility, pride (and indeed Pride), polyamory (multiple lionesses tolerating me), and protectiveness. There’s a lot more to unpack, and I’ll probably have a whole string of blogs as I pick over the various meanings, projections, and inferences that I bring to it.

So that’s what I’m quietly ruminating over at the moment

Climbing Back

Maybe because I’ve been doing this for so long, but depressive moments don’t really tend to hold any terrors for me. It’s more like a “oh, okay brain, you’re pulling this shit again? Fine, but we’ve got stuff to do so you just tag along.”

Yes, I know about the spelling mistake, I just haven’t got the energy right now

Keeping busy, getting out and about, and taking my meds are all part of the survival net that more or less works for me these days. I kid myself sometimes I don’t really need the meds, but then my brain reminds me that feeling okay is actually my meds working. That still confuses me more than it should.

The other thing I’ve had to get used to is that sometimes there just isn’t any discernable thing that has made me stumble. Sometimes with a bit of digging in counselling I can come up with a weird working hypothesis based on past baggage unfolding in a weird way, but sometimes it can be as random as having a sinus headache in the morning escalating into another round of self excoriation.

On the plus side, sometimes it’s the littlest things that make all the difference. Today I had a brief text from a friend touching base. Later I had a lovely message from lady s. Some comments in reply to a stupid graphic I posted online helped too. All of these things reminding me I was loved, had people thinking of me and that I’d made a small difference in some people’s lives, even if that was only a groan of moderate amusement.

I’m still not really back up and running properly – this feels like a lingerer – but comedy shows and keeping busy are keeping the lid on things mostly. Reaching out and communicating is still hard work – this post has taken about three hours to slog through and create for example – but hey ho, I’m sure I can find more nonsense to entertain people with soon.

Cosplay Confidence

I think one of the great skills I’ve learned through attending conventions and dressing up in silly costumes has been to leverage my customer service skills and old stagecraft from performances at school to strike poses and appear confident in public in those costumes. This in turn has bolstered my confidence at work with knowing I can wear sometimes ridiculous outfits and have people admire them.

What it doesn’t do, and I still have great difficulty with, is managing the socialising side of things. In large part I think this comes from imposter syndrome and that dreadful temptation to take people’s social media representation at face value. I’m dreadful at remembering names or being confident in having conversations at times. If I let it, this fosters huge feelings of isolation as I see other people interacting and making plans.

But then I remember that I have a great number of people who I quietly just know and get on with enjoying things with. They’re not the showiest, they’re actually capable of deeper connection and empathy, and who always have time for me.

It’s just a measure of my own baggage that I don’t feel I deserve it, or that people are just tolerating me. Adult brain knows it is false, and also celebrates not embracing shallow showiness, but it is still a head siren call to resist.

Lady M reminds me that the quiet strength and conviction, and no small measure of stubbornness are signs of the strength that she admires. In other ways, so too does lady s. The chorus is strengthened by my counsellor, and by coworkers who prize my ability to tell and sell people unpopular news without flinching, and not alienate them in the process.

I wouldn’t wish the twists and turns of my path here on anyone, and I’m proud of who I am, even if the black dog disagrees. My hobbies, upbringing, lifestyle, and hard work have tempered my confidence and presence. If that inspires or gives strength to other people that’s a grand thing too – whether that’s in cosplaying, work, or the quiet of their lives.

Accidental Boosts

If you follow me on any other social media, or know me in real life, you might have noticed that I’m drawing and doodling and sketching and painting, and generally being an expressive soul all over the place. I have work colleagues who are reassured to see my doodles all over scraps of paper as they know I’m based out of that location for a while, and others who in the past have zealously gathered up those scraps before I can throw them in the bin to keep hold of them.

I mention this because I’m starting to return to writing and drawing in my journals, especially as I’ve been gifted with, and also acquired for myself, a number of different sets of brush pens and other lineart tools. It has prompted me to develop new refinements of my artwork. It has also meant that I’ve returned to drawing around odds and ends that I’ve written in the books as I can’t stand having wasted space in them.

Drawing and Writing as usual

Sometimes these are fiction fragments or bits of a story that I’m working on, and sometimes they are more thoughtful pieces that I’ve written – often while the black dog is barking and worrying at my heels.

I write these pieces to ground myself and force myself to acknowledge the positives and available options around me. Sometimes they are light and fluffy, and sometimes they are from a lower and more stubborn place, plodding along like a donkey pulling a cart through the mud.

Many of these pieces end up on Instagram to break up the flow of selfies, cosplay pictures, book covers I’ve enjoyed encountering, or other random facets that I highlight in any given day. I present them “as is” without comment, simply because I want to preserve them somewhere, and I like some aspect of technique or design and want to show it off. I certainly don’t expect to enter into long conversations about them as they’re usually just dashed off while watching tv or something.

This piece however got a response from someone who read the text and found it spoke to them – that it was what they needed to hear at that point – and that even though they often use writing for similar purposes they don’t feel the confidence to post them online. This spoke to me – partially in recognition of the power of similar moments as I’ve encountered them, partially being glad to have been able to give someone a lift in that moment, and partially a disbelief that I have been able to affect someone in that way. Its humbling and more than a little cool to receive that kind of feedback, and I hope I managed to not sound completely awkward in responding to that person.

Drawings

I’m still drawing all the time – it’s what I do to focus and distract with equal fervour and I now have staff who use the sight of my many doodles as sketches to recognise that I’m based at a given location at any time. (People who have worked elsewhere with me over many decades will know that one)

I’m doing a lot of them at the moment, which on the creative side is wonderful, as I’m pushing some new techniques and composition styles that I think are really broadening my confidence.

And yet the perfectionist in me still sees every flaw and I throw most of them away. Furthermore that then darkens my mood – which isn’t great on days like today where I’m drawing as a distraction because my head is not in a fantastic place.

Oh well. Two steps forward, one step back and all that. I am at least filling my sketchbooks with good material and studies for bigger projects down the line – and it’ll soon be Christmas and a chance to get the whole polycule back in one place again