Saturday, 19 July 2014

Why Not Me?

Yesterday I was discharged from Mental Health Services after four years. Unlike many people I read about on here my discharge was well managed and took account of some moments a few months ago when it was not appropriate to end the relationship. So it was a positive ending of a relationship with my Care Co-ordinator. I was able to express my gratitude to her and she in turn reinforced the positives in my progress. My week began with a visit to a Breast Cancer Unit following a routine screening which revealed some suspect lumps. In one way I had to laugh - timing was perfect - one week bookended with physical and mental health issues - I'm nothing if not equal opportunities with regard to illness!

In the past the uncertainty caused would have resulted in a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions centred on my (imagined) ability to mind read, predict and anticipate the future. At some points I found myself 'reading into' the kindness and professionalism of the clinic staff as confirmation of the worst news possible. I certainly felt the shock of the speed of appointments offered - not to mention the fact that within the space of two hours the clinic had: confirmed the presence of five tiny lumps, the fact that they couldn't tell from the range of tests whether they were benign, and then to have them removed, a dressing applied and instructions given about care for the small wound and details of the appointment to receive the results of the biopsy taken. However, I found myself using my mindfulness skills to keep me focused on what I knew, which was exactly what I had been told by the consultant, and what my senses could tell me was happening around me.

In the past I would have collapsed under the weight of the uncertainty, whilst being swamped with the pain of every trauma I had lived through in my life - quite an emotional burden, I'm sure you'll agree. I would also have been plagued by the constant thoughts centred around 'Why Me?'. Such an event would have confirmed my life role as 'victim'.

This week, though, something had changed - the pain of the past is where it belongs - in the past. I really don't need to be carrying all of that as I deal with life as it is in the here and now. After all as the Bible says 'Today has enough trouble of its own.' (Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount). The other thing that has changed is that I have learned that I am not some toxic person who attracts trauma. Unfortunately, the term Borderline Personality Disorder does seem to confirm this thought, but just because that's the label they've chosen doesn't mean that it has to be a prediction of who I am or who I can become. I may have been a victim of circumstances, or other people in the past, but right now I am not a victim anymore. I am a human being who is experiencing the sort of difficulties that any other human can face. My thought has changed to 'Why not me?' In a week when children and whole families have been indiscriminately murdered in the Middle East and Ukraine, why not me, why should I escape the pain (both emotional and physical) of life in this world?

Pain and suffering is not something I have sought out. The trauma I have experienced throughout my life, has been survivable. The burden of guilt from the abuse perpetrated by others is where it belongs - with them. If they have any conscience about their actions, then it is only right that they bear the emotional burden of their own guilt - not me. Again, I continue the journey away from feeling guilty for the actions of others towards me. The pain and the emotional scars that were left have FELT as if they would kill me, but they didn't and they haven't. I have grown stronger through the life experiences I have gone through and today, along with all survivors, I am one strong 'Mama'.

My current health concerns have a physical pain associated with them - I have managed to cope with needles going into a sensitive part of my body. I know there are many who suffer unending physical pain, so why would I complain about something that has hurt only for a time? And yet I need to acknowledge that this is my pain, I have a right to feel it. My ability to cope with it is different from everyone else. I do not know what the limits of my coping are until I reach them.

With my mental health issues, though my biggest battle will always be with my emotional impulses and the circular thinking that has fed them in the past. I am learning through this experience that the DBT skills that have helped me to manage my emotional issues are helping me cope with the physical discomforts of my current experiences.

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