I started art therapy today. I like the therapist and the group seem nice too. They all worked on really lovely paintings and pictures but I couldn’t, I’ve never been able to. Whenever I draw, sketch, or paint it’s because I have something I can’t express through words – and those feelings have never really equated to puppies, rainbows or unicorns.
Today I made a family portrait. It was a barren desert landscape with cacti, vultures and balloons. The balloons were all tethered to a cactus or a rock. Some were deflated and others were struggling to escape the spines on the plants. I know, I’m weird.
I made the cacti and vultures out of paper on which I’d written some of the pieces of ‘advice’ and more choice opinions I’ve received from people who I know care about me but struggle to express it. Their spines might be a defense mechanism but it doesn’t stop them hurting just as much as if they were malicious. Some of the spines were well-intentioned interference but no less sharp for meaning well. The vultures sat in a tree, staring and waiting. Get me drunk and I’ll tell you their names…
Today’s art is a repeating theme but with one exception – I drew myself as a balloon and not as a cactus. When I realised what I had done I tried to make amends, first by colouring my balloon black and then by smudging out the charcoal so that I polluted the air with grey, choking fumes. It didn’t make a difference, the damage was done. I had asserted myself as being something other than bad, albeit only for a short time.
I didn’t arrive at the Recovery Team planning on making that picture, it just happened. When the session was over I came home and am now on my own, with no idea what to do with the feelings that were stirred up. I don’t know what to do with any of it.
Sometimes I think I’m OK and can accept it. Other times I know I’m not and I can live with that too. What I really struggle with are days when I think I’m OK and then realise I got it completely wrong. Those days just increase my self-loathing – not only am I utterly vile, but in pretending otherwise I have only served to compound my crimes.
Let’s be clear: because I drew myself as a balloon and not a cactus I’ve spent three hours fighting the strongest urge to self-harm I’ve had in months. I know, laugh if you want – honestly it’s fine, it’s utterly absurd. Sadly only part of me (Sensible CNS Blogger, as I call her) can see this, F@!*ed Up CNS Blogger cannot. Irrational, ridiculous thoughts – it kind of goes with the territory (see name of blog site). For at least 40 minutes I thought I was an OK person and now must redress the balance.
I found out today that my care coordinator, who’s been off sick for seven months, isn’t coming back any time soon. I know that I struggle with rejection, whether it’s perceived or real and so I do wonder whether it’s this news that has sent me reeling and is the cause of me feeling so alone and pointless. I do miss her, she’s my NHS Mum. And despite Therapist 1’s best efforts, having nobody to coordinate my care for over half a year has led to me getting absolutely no practical help with day-to-day living at all. Cracks that began to show months ago are beginning to widen.
Some of you reading this will understandably think that I’m a lucky bitch. I get it – not only do I have a therapist but I have one who cares enough to refer me to another, in preparation for him leaving in the summer. There are far too many people waiting far too long for help and every day of waiting feels interminable. There is also an outrageous number who know that help will only come if they win the lottery and can afford to go private.
I’m sorry – sincerely – but as I stumble around trying to find fragments from the part of my life that has just been shattered into a thousand pieces, I really do wonder whether it’s worth asking for help at all.