**TW: contains references to SH. Please proceed only if you are comfortable with the subject matter.**
Earlier this week, I had a bit of a relapse in terms of SH and used some prescription medication as a toxin, rather than it’s intended use. There then followed a difficult appointment with my GP, which has thrown me a bit. It’s the first such incident under the watch of this particular GP, and the trusting relationship we have been building took a knock. It’s hard to make sense of the last few days, but two words uttered (by the Dr) during that appointment are stuck on a loop in my mind, like an earworm; you know when you get some lyrics of a (usually very annoying) song stuck in your head?
The first word he used was profound, the main definition of which is “(of a state, quality or emotion) very great or intense.”
He used this, I think, to describe my illness and to express that he hadn’t quite appreciated how deep-seated some of my behaviours are. He had no idea, I don’t think, that my SH could be quite so extreme, that I could be so ambivalent in terms of my health, that I would impulsively take such huge risks. We have touched upon some of this at random points in the many conversations we’ve had, but I don’t think he had grasped how profoundly my thinking and consequent behaviours can spiral beyond control.
The second word he used was manipulative, the main definition of which is “exercising unscrupulous control or influence over a person or situation”
He asked me if I though my behaviour was in any way manipulative. This word hit me harder, I think. It’s not a word I like used in reference to me, or my character. To me, it implies deceit, and a conniving individual. But that isn’t to say that I don’t recognise that some things I do may be construed as manipulative. I have an Avoidant Personality Disorder, which means that I actively avoid situations or scenarios that cause me anxiety. And when I say ‘anxiety’, I don’t mean the sort that induces a churning stomach in the seconds before you go in to see the dentist. I mean the sort that feels like a fist in my chest, or like my insides are going to fall out through my feet. The sort that robs me of the ability to function, of the power of speech, of the ability to hold a hot drink because my hands shake so much the liquid slops over the lip of the cup.
And so it is that when recovery is playing a larger role in my life, when things are going better, moving along, I panic. I panic that people are going to start expecting more and more from me, that my benefits will be stopped and I’ll be required to look for work. Sometimes, if I happen to be up and about early, I watch daily commuters navigating their way through slow moving traffic, and I wonder how on Earth they do that day after day after day. I did it once; but I found it hard then, and I’m not the same person anymore.
And I panic that the professionals involved in my care will step back, and leave me freefalling from an aeroplane with a faulty ripcord (even though, this week, I’ve cancelled appointments with both my CPN and my Dietitian).
And how do I overcome these difficult notions? I do something reckless, like take an overdose. Something that throws my ‘recovery’ off track, that derails me yet again. I manipulate the situation.
So each of these words probably can be used to describe me, but I prefer to believe that they are part of my personality disorder, and not my personality.