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Saturday, 21 September 2013

Fractured

It's been a good 3 months since my last entry and not a lot has happened. I've been in a death-defying car crash, I've turned 22 with still nothing to show for it and I've had my antidepressant tripled in the last month alone. It's safe to say things have been feeling a little bit tough but let's try and go through one thing at a time.

Chronologically it makes sense to cover the car crash first. This is one I've been itching to write about (such interesting events don't usually happen to me) but have kept hush for personal reasons, investigative reasons and to respect my boyfriend. It happened on the longest day of the year - June 21st - and without sounding terribly clichéd it definitely was the longest day for me. Obviously by this time I've forgot most of the minor details (and again, medication changing hasn't aided my memory) but I can remember the basics. It was a pretty rainy day and we had decided to visit the Knockagh war monument for some reason on the way back from Carrick. I have no idea why we decided to but I remember at the time thinking that even with the shitty weather, it was such an interesting area to be that I had wanted a picture with it. We aren't picture people though, so we didn't bother. I didn't mention this to Kenneth but I was thinking I wanted to be able to look back at it some time - a picture of him or of me and him at this place in the rain under an umbrella. As I said, strange thought.

Now, usually when we go to Carrick for a McDonalds like we did that day it's a straight up and down journey that we've taken many many times. This day was different for 2 reasons: 1. We visited the memorial on our way home and 2. Kenneth had got a new car that week. Needless to say, we were coming home a different way and in a different car (the former is unimportant to me, all countryside roads around here look the same pretty much IMO). Aside from that, nothing was amiss. There were no unexpected rabbits running into the road, no pedestrians we had to avoid, there was nothing unusual. We went around a corner. I wasn't paying attention - why should I? I wasn't driving. I was looking at the countryside as I usually do. Next thing I know I look ahead and see the car edging into the side of the road and my horizon went sideways.

People keep saying to me, "that must have been terrifying!" and "you must have been so scared!" but honestly? Something hit me in the back of the head not long after it started. I'm talking as soon as everything went sideways. It was the kind of hit that is so painful you can't concentrate. I wasn't knocked out (although I wish I were.) I was just stunned - I knew what was happening but not how. There was just this deafening noise and a lot of spinning. Imagine your whole body being stuck in a washing machine - that kind of spinning - over and over. It felt like it went on forever. I thought it was never going to end.

And then it did. It just stopped and I'm sitting there with shattered glass covering my feet and my door heavily busted inwards. Simultaneously my right hand feels floppy and extremely sore. My long hair is pulling at a bump on my head. Most of all though, I just want out. I am a naive person; I know very little of car crashes. My only experience with car crashes are those I see in the films and they usually end in fireballs. So obviously hearing the engine still hissing and being unable to open the door I freak the fuck out and start screaming at Kenneth who, despite being a bit stunned himself, seems actually able to function. Me? All I can do after he pries the door open is stumble to the side of the road and sit down in the rain. There are two images I remember clearly at this point: my strawberry milkshake from McDonalds I didn't finish dripping out the side of my door and also a little caterpillar writhing underneath the car. We must have displaced it. I hope we didn't destroy it's home.

Before I sat down Kenneth just held me for a while and I cried. I don't think I've ever cried without tears before but that was the first time. He maintains his composure while only freaking out a little at the fact that his phone is busted and I don't have mine (was off for repair - don't ask.) It's during this time my attention is divided between "ouch my head is reeeeeeeally sore" and "OH MY GOD LOOK AT MY HAND IT IS NOT MEANT TO LOOK LIKE THAT." My little finger on my right hand was indeed sticking out at a fucking right angle to the others. I kept looking at it and looking away because the sight was enough to make me want to faint even more than the ordeal I had just been through.

We had only been around for 10 minutes or so with no phone until another car came along to offer assistance. And another. Kenneth was able to call the police and an ambulance after borrowing a phone from someone and a couple of people helped me into a Jeep to sit out of the rain. They put a jacket and helped pretty much carry me over since my feet were in glass filled flats (and I couldn't even get the strength to walk anyway) but all I could think was how they kept pulling my hair with an arm around my neck and that the hair pulling pulled my head injury.

I ended up spending the night in the hospital after a bumpy ambulance ride. The accident was about 8:30ish but I only got to bed around 3am. I had to sit around for a while, ended up with a neck brace on and had to get half a dozen X-rays done. At one point, I got to lie down in a bed and suck on a wonderful cannister of gas to get higher than I've ever been in my life... oh yeah, while a couple people broke my hand back into place. Lots of pulling. Take a second to imagine someone pulling on your hand enough to move the bone back into place like that. I could still feel it through the gas (although not as much as I'd be able to without it - I imagine that's the point.) Aside from that gas, I have to say for a broken bone I didn't get anywhere near enough drugs. 2 of the 8/500 cocodamol? Are you shitting me? I should point out 8/500 does nothing for me. Call me what you will.

I feel for the other patients in that ward. I was crying most of the night and up and down to the bathroom because I couldn't sleep. After a while you give up trying to cry quietly and just full on sob. I made makeshift earplugs from toilet roll and started to doze off around 5 or 6am... the time the nurses came in to wake people up. The rest of the slow crawl to 1pm when my parents would be coming for me was both boring and seriously upsetting for someone with social anxiety to deal with: it would be rude to just close the curtain around my bed and ignore people but I kept getting asked questions and people tried to make conversation. It's not great at the best of times, never mind without my medication to calm me down. "Are those scratches on your arms from the glass?" is a tough one to field. Simple answer is no, long answer is no and I don't want to talk about it right now.

The people were nice enough. There was a mephedrone user/self harmer in another bed who I found interesting to say the least (then again, how could I not?) One of the nurses looked a lot like Lady GaGa which I found fascinating. There were a few older people (some didn't speak at all) who seemed to find me approachable for some reason and made small talk or asked me what time it was cause they couldn't see the clock. The doctor decided I didn't need the MRI scan they were going to send me for as I hadn't exhibited any suspect symptoms from the head injury during my stay. Eventually, I got to make the wonderful journey home which didn't make me nervous at all (sarcasm) with a massive cast on my arm all the way up to my elbow. Thankfully, when I walked in, Jelly was waiting on my bed for me. I'd like to think it's because he was wondering where I was but it was probably because he was wanting fed.

It turns out I had broken a metacarpal in my hand (the yellow ones in the picture - thanks Wikipedia!) The metacarpal associated with my little finger had the top bit (the knobbly bit) broken off entirely towards the one beside it and there was somewhat of a crack down the main bone itself. Starting a few days after the accident, I had to go for X-rays at the fracture clinic every other week to see how things were coming along (this coming week marks what I hope is my final appointment, actually.) Seeing the bone healing over the first few weeks was pretty fascinating. I could see it form around the broken part and, to quote the doctor, "try to attach and straighten itself". Despite this, I couldn't see the hand myself and so I was very a. annoyed about having a giant cast on my main hand and b. anxious about what state it was in. You're probably thinking: but you had seen it before it went in the cast and knew it wasn't mangled or anything! This is true. But, when the cast came off, my suspicions were confirmed.

Let's just say, I'm never going to be a hand model (oh no!) Part of my right knuckle is knocked out of place. The first few weeks after the cast came off, I had to deal with a large painful bump on my hand from where the bone was still forming to try and heal the fracture. The bump has since gone down but it's still there. It's still sore. I can't make a fist. Don't ask me to throw a right hook. The finger is still at a strange angle but that's a cosmetic thing more than anything else. Apparently, the broken bone is a support bone and so my writing won't be affected. I will say though that it does now hurt to write too much... Thankfully, typing is easy.

Obviously it's hard not to be psychologically affected by the whole incident. The pain had me on 8 painkillers a day on top of my usual medication but whether I took them for actual pain or not is debatable. I broke down crying trying to do the simplest things. I would be trying to eat my dinner and unable to cut something up and honestly it just made me feel so useless having to have my parents cut my food for me like I was a 4 year old again. I feel my mood has dipped and dipped since the whole thing has happened; I've cut myself far more frequently than I was doing before, self-medicating like crazy...

I'm back at counselling just a couple months after finishing with the last person. This new girl seems nice and understanding. It is important for me to keep in contact with the medical services about how I'm feeling and I feel like at least the past month or so I've took some steps in doing so. First my sertraline was doubled and I was given sleeping medication... a couple of weeks later, my sertraline was tripled from the original dose... a few days ago my propranolol was doubled and changed to slow acting and I was given a different sleeping medication. Needless to say, right now I'm a mixing pot of medications and they're all trying to settle. Honestly? I feel quite sick physically. Mentally? I feel like I did when I was 16. I assume this is only temporary but it's that feeling of bursting into tears at any time, unable to look in the mirror, blurred thoughts. I'm surprised I made it through all this writing with some coherence considering I find myself tripping over words or even struggling to remember them.

I suppose the most up-to-date thing I can mention is a recent hospital appointment unrelated to my hand. With the unexpected cold snap of this previous April, I found myself suffering from something in my face I thought was an anomaly when I was 16-17. I had spent the day out and about in this cold snowy weather and when I came back in the house I was almost immediately struck down with this immense stabbing pain in my face. Picture someone getting a needle and stabbing your right cheek/temple kind of area over and over for 2 minutes at a time randomly through the day - that's what it was. I immediately recognised it as this thing I had had before and called up to ask for some medication. I've been on 6 of these tablets a day since this happened a few months ago and found that they reduce the frequency of the attacks and often replace it with a numbness in my face. Yesterday I went up to see a neurologist in Belfast for a consultation about it and he figures I should go for an MRI scan as he thinks it's probably a neuralgia problem. What the deal is with the pain, I don't know but obviously we both agree I don't want to be taking 6 carbamazepine every day for the rest of my life (FYI: they tend to fuck up the efficacy of a lot of other drugs... not great for many reasons.) Just another thing to deal with.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Drawing a Blank/Bloodthirst

Well, it's been quite a while since I've last posted here - long enough for most to think I had abandoned this blog. Not to worry, I've been well aware of this and the thought of posting has been on my mind for quite a while.

I've found it honestly quite difficult to think of what to say or how to process feelings from my head to keyboard. The majority of the time (as I've no doubt mentioned) my mind hits a blank when it comes to writing about how I've been feeling or what I've been thinking about. I can only put this down to the drugs I take each day - mainly the sertraline I would imagine - that numb the bad and in doing so numb everything else away as well. I don't actively think about much any more. I used to go outside and analyse what I saw - from the sky right down to what's at my feet. Everything was filtered through my mind. I'm not sure why this happened, all I know is it doesn't happen any more. I suppose that was due to an over-active mind that worked in combination with a lack of self esteem and depressive feelings - not too great a combination to be honest. The sertraline is my first antidepressant to successfully stem this. No longer do I step outside and think of all the birds around me and process what they may be doing - instead I am deafened by the sound of them and think nothing more of it.

I digress. I have been unable to write here much to my dismay and unable to maintain any kind of creative output anywhere. It's frustrating but at this point when my life is down to eating, sleeping and playing World of Warcraft, unless I'm taken out of my comfortable surroundings, I have no reason to output creatively. Occasionally, my mind goes overboard again with thoughts and feelings which there are no escape from. Over the past few years however, as I am over 18, this has been dealt with relatively easily with drugging myself back into numbness. It was difficult when I was at school, mainly because if you take some pills during break time at school and go back to class, someone will notice when you're derping out over your desk. The physical work of even getting around school also is affected. (I recall vividly going in for school photos and having to stand about for an hour or so while still heavily under the influence from what I had taken the night before. How I managed I do not know but my parents have that picture on display in the living room in all my jaundiced glory).

The issue of medication is bigger now. As well as the two drugs I was prescribed over the past few years that have no sign of letting up, I'm now on a third. I say third, what I really mean is third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth due to the amount I'm having to take each day. Being on 8 pills a day (plus my OTC sleeping aid) is a jarring thought for anyone. The six I have to take are for neuralgia so they're for a physical problem (yay!) that still can't be seen (boo!) I feel quite self-conscious about having medical problems that can't be seen - they're so much more difficult to explain to people. Even the self-harm scars, while off-putting, could be from anything when spied by a stranger in the street.

Again I have gone off the subject of why I started to write this in the first place. As well as my blanked out mind, I'm feeling very opposed to the viewing of things I used to enjoy. Let me explain:

Anyone who knows me well will know I have always enjoyed watching gore films. Not particularly horror films, just gore films. I have in the past not cared too much for a story line as long as there's enough blood and body parts and said blood and body parts are either a. realistic enough or b. so fake looking they're funny. I've been excited year upon year at Halloween for a new Saw film cause I adore the Saw series. I have more DVDs with a dripping red font on black covers than I can count. Even when it came to IRL bloody videos, I'm all for it. Or I used to be.

When I would watch these videos online or watch these films I gained a real bloodthirst. Obviously, one cannot go out and stab someone at their whim so I got blood in other ways... being a self harmer helped. I think the two fed into each other. Watch a video, cut. Feel like cutting, watch a video. They became associated with each other (though not always.) As my self harming waned - don't ask me how that happened - and happened less often, I felt uncomfortable watching anything with blood. Unless the blood was ridiculously fake looking or happening in a ridiculously fake scene, it made me feel nauseous. Nauseous, nervous and anxious. This isn't just blood; cuts or severe wounds have the same effect. I look at them and a part of me wants to go and recreate a wound on myself cause it would feel so good after all or I would need to release some blood out of me. The rest of me knows I can't and tries to prevent it (shaking, going for the pill bottle, asking politely for whatever is on to be turned over or just leaving the room.) My boyfriend, if he detects a scene where the film maker is trying to be -edgy by throwing in a little self harm, will warn me so I don't have to see. This is completely different to how I was just a few years ago; laughing gleefully as someone's arm is viciously hacked off with the blood going everywhere.

While I'm aware it is not considered normal to be excited at the sight of blood, I'm also aware it is not normal to recoil at it either. I figure at some point when everything is under control in terms of how I deal with my mood, I will be able to cope with these things within reason, as any other person would. Right now I think it's too much for me when I am trying to stop doing something altogether (or find a satisfying and safe replacement for) to be expected to deal with such things. I hate to use the term "triggering" but they're called that for a reason. Maybe some day again I can watch Martyrs and not feel psychologically affected.