Have you ever confused a dream with life?

First of all, I would like to thank everyone who has supported and been kind to me over the last couple of days. It really, truly means a lot to know that I have people behind me. So, thanks.

This is going to be a weird blog, because I don’t normally write when I’m like this and struggling to form coherent thoughts. But I’m going to give it a go.

I guess I should start by saying that I suffer from psychotic episodes. Since my last hospitalisation last February, I have been on antipsychotic depot injections once a fortnight. For about eight months it was brilliant, I improved so much, my auditory hallucinations (hearing voices) virtually stopped. Then, a couple of months ago, I had another episode. Fortunately, I’ve become really good at asking for help. I reach out much, much sooner than I did before because if I don’t, if I ignore it and let it escalate, I would probably be hospitalised again. So, I caught it early, got on a higher dose of my medication and that sorted me out again. Until now.

In the last couple of days, things have become more confused. I start to notice myself living more in my head, of not being able to look people in the eye. My concentration goes. My ability to focus on a task. Even simple things like watching television become extremely difficult.

The voices are repetitive, and I find it very hard to repeat what they say. I’m going to try;

‘The TV is sending you messages. You mustn’t watch it. It can control you.’

‘You need to burn yourself.’

‘Drink cleaning fluid, your insides are dirty.’

‘X is dead, or dying, and it’s your fault.’

‘You have a parasite growing in your brain.’

‘There are bugs under your skin. Cut them out.’

‘Everyone around you is an actor. You are not real. You don’t exist.’

Etc etc etc.

These voices and paranoid thoughts are really distressing. They cause me to feel suicidal. They isolate me. They make me unsure of what is real and what is not. Of what and who I can trust.

Now, I’m not stupid. I know that this episode has been triggered by starting to talk a bit about the abuse, but that realisation doesn’t mean much when everything is so chaotic and frightening and I’m consumed by relentless paranoia. Knowing what causes it is one thing, being able to stop or control it is quite another.

There is a very small window between knowing these thoughts are irrational and false, and 100% believing everything they’re telling you. In that small window of time is when I have to seek help. Because once you start fully believing, and acting on paranoid delusions, you really are in A Bad Place.

I’m trying to keep that window of time open for as long as possible. I contacted the Crisis Team and they’ve agreed to see me tomorrow. I don’t know what the course of action will be. That scares me. But if I don’t act now, then there really is only one place I’m going to end up, and I’m trying my hardest to avoid that.

Have you ever confused a dream with life?

Once the mouth opens, the words start to come.

Today, I had my assessment with the Rape Crisis Centre. Yesterday, my suicidal ideation was seriously awful. I genuinely felt that I would rather die then have to deal with this shit. I couldn’t see a way through it, but there is always a way through it and sometimes you just have to dig a little deeper to find your courage.

So, today, I met with a really lovely lady who immediately put me at ease. We talked about my general mental health quite a lot, and she really seemed to understand me when I said about the psychosis ‘protecting’ me from difficult feelings and memories. She said that can happen sometimes after trauma.

And then, the inevitable happened and we talked about what had brought me there. I told her everything. Not in great detail but still, it was hard enough just saying ‘I’ve been raped twice as a teenager/adult and was sexually abused at school’. The school stuff is something I’ve never told ANYONE about in ‘real life’, so that was really hard. I told her about the nightmares, flashbacks and anxiety that are hounding me at the moment.

She asked me what I wanted to get out of counselling, and I said I wanted to be more in control of things and she said that was something they could help with, which was reassuring, and we did a sort of ‘star chart’ about how I was coping with different things, so that when I start counselling, we can see if there’s any improvement. I really liked that. I like having something solid and tangible and practical to hold onto.

After all that, she put me on the waiting list to see a counsellor and I left feeling really hopeful and positive and hopeful and just Had A Good Feeling About It All.

I know I have a long wait ahead of me just to get a counsellor, and that talking to them is going to be super painful but I feel like I can face it. I have found such courage in myself over the last couple of weeks and, at times it runs out and I breakdown and want to die and just feeling FUCKING AWFUL, but I dig a little deeper and find the strength to keep going, somehow.

I’m so damn proud of myself. I can’t believe I got through it, how honest I was and how much I feel like things could change.

Once the mouth opens, the words start to come.

Courage doesn’t always roar.

Today, I rang the local Rape Crisis Centre. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I’m not good at making phone calls, I get paranoid about spies and bugs and all other sorts of things, and as this was obviously a ‘sensitive’ subject to be talking about on the phone, the paranoia was extremely high.

I’ve spent months, probably years, looking at their website, holding their number in my hand, weighing up to pros and cons, the fear of ‘speaking out’ about things you’ve kept hidden for so long, the fear of repercussions, of something ‘bad’ happening. You are told, by your attacker, by society, by the media, by your own internal voice that ‘you must never talk about it’ and for years you go around believing that.

I don’t know why it’s come to a head in the last few days, I’m not in a particularly bad place right now. I’m slowly getting back to ‘mostly okay’ after a recent psychotic episode (that’s another story for another day!) But I guess with that, with coming back to ‘reality’, I am made painfully aware of a lot of bad shit that the psychosis makes me forget. I don’t really want to go into what psychosis is like, mainly because when I’m psychotic, I have very little insight into it and I find it difficult to recall what it was like. Basically, though, it’s like being in another world, a world that’s terrifying but also a world where you are someone else, where the life you are living is not your life. You forget yourself. You lose yourself. But then, with the help of medication, you become more grounded in The Real World. For me, The Real World is full of painful memories and feelings, and I am forced to confront them again.

Also, a simpler answer to it all is that I guess it’s a new year, a new start, and I want to resolve my issues, I want to process my past in a way that will make me understand it better. I want to be heard. I want to be believed. I want to be able to say;

I was raped when I was seventeen by my ex-boyfriend. I was raped again aged twenty by the boyfriend of a close friend. For years I have blamed myself. I have felt like it didn’t even happen. I have thought I was making it up. When I did believe myself, when I could admit to myself that it happened and it was real, I felt like it was my fault. That I could have done something differently and prevented it. I was drunk. I was stoned. I didn’t lock the door. I wasn’t forceful enough. I didn’t scream or fight or kick back. Which leads to me believing It was my fault. I carry so much guilt. The guilt of it happening in the first case, and, on a really good day where I believe it and don’t blame myself so violently, I feel guilty for not reporting it. I feel guilty that these men may have assaulted others because I did nothing to stop them.

I want to be able to talk these feelings through with someone who will believe me, who will not judge me, who will help shift some of this enormous guilt. I want to know what options are available to me. I want to learn to trust. I don’t want to be terrified of sex and relationships. I want to feel better about myself. I want to improve my self-esteem. My self-confidence. My self-worth. I am ready to talk. I am ready to tackle the things I haven’t been able to in therapy, because I have never admitted the second rape to anyone, even to my old therapist who I did a lot of difficult work with.

This is MY CHOICE. For the first time in my life, I have chosen to do this. To speak out. That’s empowering. That makes me feel in control. Sometimes, on a good day, on a day where I’m less self-blaming and feeling less guilt, I’m angry, bitter and vengeful about what’s happened to me. I want revenge. I have no weapons, though, only my voice. Maybe my voice can be my greatest weapon of all.

I have an initial assessment next Tuesday. I am terrified but I’m going to go. I am going to be heard. I am going to fight back. I’m nearly thirty, I don’t want to enter a new decade of my life with this awful weight around my neck.

I can do this, right?

I can do this.

Courage doesn’t always roar.