Halloween, Part III

| By Paul | | Comments (17)

The centered space I found myself in the morning after Halloween did not last. I hoped that maybe the difficulty would recede and that the safety risk would lessen. But it did not turn out that way. Instead it became more rocky. I was oscillating between functional and non-functional and safe and unsafe and cohesive and fragmented (which was orders of magnitude beyond frazzled or scattered). It was a roller coaster and had become too much of a risk.

I held on to see my therapist Thursday evening, the day after Halloween. That, in an of itself, was a strong indicator of how tenuous a situation I was in. Holding on like that is not all that common these days for me. When we met, I told her that if this escalates to what it was like on Halloween the night before, then I was not able to go through that level of distress on my own. I said once was enough. Plus I assumed the risks would be greater because I would be weakened by the other night. That was our agreement.

My time with her helped. I had a spurt of being functional that evening. At that point, I thought maybe that I was on a positive trajectory. But after my functional Friday morning at work, I started falling apart dramatically in the afternoon when I got home. I knew clearly that I rallied simply to do get through my responsibilities. I so quickly knew that it was serious and that I could not solve it by adding more and more responsibilities or tasks to my schedule.

The "plan" from the other night on Halloween was coming up again, but with greater force, just as I had feared. I was certain it was not just an expression or idle threat, and I knew I had to get help while I still was able. There was too much at stake.

I was remarkably decisive. I had to be. At 3 pm I texted my psychiatrist: "Can you find out if Proctor 2 has a bed?"

It was a struggle to tell and allow my wife to drive me. I knew that meant the option of serious self-harm was removed, though I never told her that was the issue. She knew I was having a hard time, and mostly, that is all she needed to know. So, I made it past that hurdle. As we were leaving, I told my kids who took the news in stride.

My wife was stressed about it all, and I promptly changed my mind on the drive in. I wanted to go back home and try harder. But by this point, despite my growing panic, the decision had been made. The admission was all arranged. They were expecting me. Changing my mind was not an option.

Just a couple hours later I made it through admissions and was on McLean's Proctor 2. There are few words to describe how it feels to be in your home and then a few hours later on the same psychiatric unit I have been coming to for over 20 years. It is surreal and, as always, conflicted. While I felt safe from self-harm or worse, I did not feel safe "in my head." I know coming here means I have a lot of work to do so I can leave in a place where I am grounded and confident in my ability to stay safe and live the life I have built for myself.

Because it was all surreal, I needed to reality check and assess what got me here.

First, is that I was able to get to the hospital without actually hurting myself. It does not usually happen that way.

Second, is that I was able to have the accomplishment of getting through Halloween on my own, whereas in the past that kind of experience would have landed me in the hospital, and many times in restraints. Being able to prove that I could get through that kind of off-scale internal response was enormous for me.

Third, and perhaps the most important, is about trust. I wrote this in my journal:

"Do you realize how much awareness I had to have and how much presence I had to maintain in order to make all the decisions I did safely? I think parts of me know that there could not have been a more perfect chain of events. Parts of me were majorly triggered. I held on, even though it didn't feel like I had much control over the "internal slider." The threats of imminent self harm would have happened and would have been extremely serious. I think part of it was that we had had enough."

"Internal slider" is a new analogy to help me think about and experience the active process of staying centered. Last January, in a post titled Unity, I wrote about thinking about my psyche in terms of "parts on left" and "parts on the right", and how my challenge is to find a bridge between them. The real world experience is of sliding back and forth. Sometimes there is more activation of parts on the right and it becomes harder to stay safe and live in the present. Sometimes the focus is on "work" and I lose touch with everything from the past and enter denial. A visual image of a slider and a bridge is realistic, and it is consistent with the view that dissociation exists on a scale. Where someone is on that scale is different from person to person, and also different for a person over time.

Coming here does not mean that certain parts need to go nuts or dump a lot of memories or any of that. In other words, they do not have to continue the trajectory I was on. I came here precisely to change that trajectory.

I knew how to get all of me to safety. I knew when the time was right. I knew it had to be after Halloween and not before. That has to have created a huge amount of internal trust.

I know this past week or more was very dicey. I get that. But the payoff has been enormous.

And now my work here begins.


Lulu said:

I am so happy that you were able to take such good care of yourself during such a rough time. You challenged yourself, stayed safe, & got the help that you needed.

Paul Author Profile Page replied to Lulu:

Thank you Lulu.

castorgirl said:

Hi Paul,

I'm very glad you were able to utilise the support system around you, and get to the safety of hospital. I know it will be difficult work while there; but you did accomplish a great deal in making it safely through the days leading up to your admission. There is hope, co-operation and strength in that safety.

Please take care, and wishing you all the best,

Paul Author Profile Page replied to castorgirl:

Thanks CG. In many ways I think my main accomplishment was actually what happened to get here. Now, here, it's less about doing work and more about just sort of getting grounded.

Evan said:

Good to hear you are safe. Hope the work goes well.

Paul Author Profile Page replied to Evan:

Thanks Evan.

OneSurvivor said:

I have no words of wisdom, really. I just want to honor you in your journey. You are showing so much progress, even if it does not feel that way and I am glad that you are OK. I've been thinking about you, but have been balancing between busy and paralyzed, which affects my online presence quite a bit.

Paul Author Profile Page replied to OneSurvivor:

OneSurvivor, Thank you. No, it certainly doesn't feel that I'm making much progress. But I do appreciate you saying it. Hope you are well. I completely understand the busy and paralyzed dilemma. Hope you find some balance. Paul.

OneSurvivor replied to Paul:

Thank you, Paul. I am well...just sometimes very overwhelmed with all that is on my plate. I am working on the balance, which I know you can appreciate is a rather slippery thing to grab hold of. :P

Justin said:

I was inspired by your story. I have never been inpatient before but have had many, many exhausting arguments internally and I seem to pull back from self-harm before crossing that tipping point. My therapist believes I do need some intensive DID work at Sheppard Pratt Trauma Disorders unit.

So it was good to read your story about how you had a process to follow and that you have a caring wife who didn't judge, but she showed care and support. I admire you for making the safe choice. You are a hero to your self.

Paul Author Profile Page replied to Justin:

Justin, Thanks for writing. I have a hard time hearing a word such as 'inspired'. But thank you. I never shared such a detailed story like this, though I've had many similar situations written out in my journal. I guess I felt like the time was right. All this does get complicated, and I felt it was important to sort of lay out all the details. I'm glad you found it helpful. And I hope you find the help you deserve.

Nel said:

Kind thoughts and best wishes. I am in awe of your ability to do what is best for you.


Paul Author Profile Page replied to Nel:

Thank you Nel. I hope you are able to do what's best for you too.

Sanity said:

I'm glad you were able to reach out for help when you needed it. I'm jealous you have such a good safety plan in place. I wish I had one like that where I could simply call someone for support and it happens.

Paul Author Profile Page replied to Sanity:

I hear you Sanity. It is not always like this for me. No matter how much support we have externally, any plan we have is only as good as our dedication to sticking to it.

wantstorun said:

Letting you know I've been here to read/listen, and will keep thinking of you. Take very good care.


Paul Author Profile Page replied to wantstorun:

Thank you wtr. I am sending you warm thoughts on this day.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry published on November 6, 2012 11:58 AM.

Halloween, Part II was the previous entry in this blog.

Sandy Hook Elementary is the next entry in this blog.

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