Cruel summer

I think a certain level of acceptance of how long we will be living like this is gradually settling around the country now. I’ve known in my heart for a while [I say a while, it’s probably been a week, time is moving so strangely at the moment and it feels like years have passed every time I sit down to write. It is like this for so many I am sure] that it will be many, many months till K and I resume face-to-face sessions, till Nina returns to school, till life goes back to some semblance of normality. I am constantly having to push away fears that K and I will never see each other again, or if we do it will just be to say goodbye because weekly sessions are no longer feasible long-term. It is always hard to know what could be real. I am trying to trust that we will come through this challenge and our work will go back to normal, because it is all there is to do. It is hard though.

Last night I watched a beautiful sunset from the country park where we live. The sky was wide and open and I felt free for just a few minutes. Life at home is stifling but we are doing okay in some ways. I feel more restless than overwhelmed. Either a calm acceptance or a huge amount of dissociation is engulfing me, who knows. There is a lot of worry that if the bunnies get ill during this time we won’t be able to get them vet treatment. This seems to be where the anxiety is being channeled today. Yesterday it was mostly freaking out that my job really isn’t safe. I text my old Head of Department and asked if our jobs are safe in the medium term. He says many institutions like ours won’t survive this, but that we are among the top and so in a strong position and I don’t need to worry. He knows a lot about how our institution works, and particularly its financial position, and it did reassure me. It’s just hard to shake the sense that this is how our world, here in the UK, will end, that this is just the start of the great unravelling that is well under way in many parts of society and across the globe already.

One of my friends also triggered me last night when I mentioned the fear of redundancies where I am, as she responded that we need Universal Basic Income – of course we do, I know this and I think it is coming, but I don’t think losing my job and having UBI would leave me with enough money to pay for therapy, or for the car I need to run to get to therapy. My mortgage is astronomical. I have zero savings and still more than £6k of debt to pay off. I have spent a TERRIFYING amount on therapy over the past five years, it makes me feel quite sick. I try to tell myself it was needed, still is needed, that probably we would just have a slightly bigger house, a newer car, memories of a few more holidays, had I not spent the money on that. I also try to reassure myself also that had I not done the work I’ve done with K I could (would!) have totally screwed Nina up and possibly even killed us both as this was my plan when I started therapy in August 2015, but it is hard to shake the sense that I have been really stupid spending so much money on that when I could have been saving for the end of the world. To be honest, I don’t really understand how UBI works, I just know that as things were (still are for me, it is important to remember – my job isn’t immediately under threat) I would be out of debt by August next year and able to save a little amount each month and pay for therapy too. I am so careful with money. I just wanted a little time where I didn’t have to be, before the climate crisis sweeps across the UK and life as we know it drastically changes…

K has always said I’m the person who reminds her most often how important it is to trust in the universe, to not have a scarcity mindset that attracts the very thing we are all so fearful of, but it is hard to hold on to this trust when all around us is panic and fear of everything running out and disappearing and no one having enough (loo roll stock-piling really epitomises this dominant mindset!). And at times it feels like such a privileged way to be living, to be able to trust that money will work itself out and to use evidence that despite difficulties during my PhD and the uncertainty of getting a post afterwards, it always has in the past, and that the universe is on my side because once I started to trust it, it has always brought me the right houses at the right time and brought me K, because not everyone has these luxuries I know, but at other times I think a safe home and a therapist who knows how to work with the identity fragmentation that follows childhood abuse and trauma isn’t really a luxury at all. I don’t know. I do want to trust though, that K and I will carry on working during this challenging time and pick up face-to-face sessions when we can.

I feel so angry that this is happening, sad that we are losing the Spring and Summer, fearful for those who are not safe at home due to abuse or neglect. I am angry that China are continuing to lie and have been giving us all false hope. I am apprehensive about how work will be for the next year and how rather than getting less stressful as we enter ‘the quieter time’ it is about to get even more stressful and reactive there. I nearly lose my shit when I see people talking about how living like this, physically distant from each other, will become ‘the new normal’ because it can’t – we are being deprived of the basic necessities of a life worth living. It is vital for now, of course it is, but virtual connection will never be as good. We are relational beings – we need regulation from others, we need companionship, we need community, and we cannot get these things through a screen. They are obviously important to help us manage through this time but they can never replace what we get from each other and being part of the world – natural and man-made, and I do really hope people never get used to this new, and hopefully temporary, way of being. It is not that I want to be surrounded by people all the time, but that I enjoy being part of everything so much, and solitude is something I value highly only because it is such a rarity for me and helps to bring me back to myself.

I have also been wondering what it is about my particular brand of attachment trauma that means that without meeting I don’t feel K is my therapist anymore and I don’t feel we have a real relationship. I am aware on a cognitive level that we do, that what we have endures across time and space and distance, that I am held in mind and in her heart, that she knows me and that won’t stop because she doesn’t physically see us, but at the same time I still feel somewhere deep inside that I am losing her and that as the months of phone and Skype go by she will slip further and further away and that she will let me go. I see others who are struggling with what is happening around us but are able to transition more easily into working remotely, and I am unsure why not being able to physically get to K is such a huge trigger for me and activates my attachment system so extensively. Of course there are concerns that I won’t have privacy for our sessions because Nina will be here, but it is not just that which is causing this.

After crying all afternoon on Friday I reached out to K by text, explaining that I wasn’t going to manage until Monday without contacting her so was doing it before the proper weekend started. We had spoken earlier that day but young parts hadn’t been reached. It is so hard finding time for everyone when life is so utterly crazy. You really know you have a complex dissociative disorder when you have parts getting triggered by not having ‘time with’ your therapist despite a phone call! In our phone session I had told her that the text exchange on Tuesday and Thursday mornings was really helping. She was pleased to hear that and said we would need to review it – we panicked and she said ‘no, not to take it away’, but that I might need more support in a month. This is scary. Every time she mentions the length of time we could be forced to work like this or says the C word we feel jarred and triggered – it makes it all feel much too real, that she is talking about something that really cannot possibly be happening. I asked in my text if we could talk about putting more planned support in place for a while, particularly for young parts, and said that I would look at money…

She said of course we could make a plan. I know she wants to support and hold all of me and to be there for young parts throughout this. More contact time is definitely needed at the moment but I’m not sure in what form or if it would even help. What would be enough right now? I prefer speaking by phone as it feels closer and I know K feels she can listen and hear much better on the phone than with a screen that sometimes freezes and so on, but I think Skype is also needed and I think a time that is dedicated to young parts is needed – when we work in-person young parts are settled just from being with K, but I don’t think they get the benefit of phone contact unless they are being addressed directly. It’s weird, but I think time they know is theirs, to ask questions and have stories and maybe do some ‘remote crafting’ would be helpful.

I feel so conflicted over needing and planning extra support. Part of me is thinking if I have the means to pay for a little extra support and contact during this time I should, and I do have the means for now because obviously some outgoings will reduce for the next six months (refund on tickets for Taylor Swift in Hyde Park, sob). But then there are parts who are fearful that we should be saving money for what comes next, that spending too much on therapy now could mean Nina has to go without food in the future, or that I can’t afford to see K at all. I can’t work out what are adult worries and what are young worries, what is adult caution and what is a young part trying to exert control over something that is ultimately impossible to control. And of course always is the need to balance what I spend on therapy with the fact that for an extended period of time now it has kept me ‘stable enough’ to work. Without therapy during a global pandemic I sense that my ability to work would be severely compromised! I also feel selfish because whilst I’ve donated some money for PPE for NHS staff and will donate money to a food poverty charity tomorrow when I get paid, I could obviously be helping a lot more if I wasn’t spending so much money on therapy.

Every so often I think it would be easier to take a break from therapy, from K, for the whole 6 months or more that this shit show lasts for because it is too triggering to have contact with her and not be able to physically reach her. There is some sense in this, when so much of my overwhelm is due to not being able to reach her. I could forget about her, stabilise somehow, maybe. I don’t think it is the answer though. Too much is coming up, my family situation is too present, my dissociated parts too present, my old unhealthy coping mechanisms too activated, to suddenly plunge us all into a life without K or therapy. So I am left wondering what to do, whether I can afford another half an hour session per week to help contain this crisis, and whether even if I can it is what I should be spending money on…

There, brain dump over! Thanks for making it to the end of this post if you did, and hoping my dear readers are coping as well as possible during these turbulent times.

I need you

I thought I’d turned a corner yesterday. Maybe I had, but today I’m back in the abyss. I cannot survive without seeing K all these months. I don’t want to survive. I’d finally reached a place where all the parts trusted her and felt safe with her, where we had begun to take for granted that we would see her every Monday, where we trusted that she wouldn’t go away and didn’t want to leave us, and now this f*cking virus is keeping us apart.

I honestly want to die. I can’t see how this is going to get better. I don’t want to think about how a world after this pandemic could look because it could be one in which weekly therapy isn’t a thing and there is no way I am ready to lose her yet, on the back of this change that has been so abrupt and so all-consuming. The sense of permanency I had begun to trust was only ever an illusion though – it has been ripped away in a way I never expected, years before I expected society as we knew it to end.

K and I did a phone session today. I have big stuff going on because I’ve heard through my sister that my disabled brother is really, really struggling with isolation and the loss of his routine. I don’t see him because he lives with my mum but I love him so much and my heart is breaking for him. K and I talked about this a lot and I know she gets it, knows this is a long-running story, knows how complex and gut-wrenchingly sad it is. My family is a broken mess and a global pandemic shows up all the cracks and things that can never be mended. ‘I just want to see you’ I wailed and as she said ‘I know’ I could feel her holding me in all this. But it doesn’t change the fact that for 4 and a half years when things have been this bad I have been able to see her, every week and more, whatever I’ve needed. And now I can’t reach her.

She says we’ll review the support, that I might need more, things might change in a month and I need more support – ‘A MONTH!!!’ I wanted to scream. The truth is it will be so much longer than that. It is unsurvivable.

Young parts are screaming and wailing. I cannot hold them. I’ve cried all afternoon. I’ve run out of space to cut on my thighs and I think about cutting my arms, which I’ve not done since before I was pregnant. I don’t know how to get through this. I’m scared of the distance that could grow between K and I. Young parts aren’t getting what they need from her but worse is if they give up and disappear. That’s always when things get very bad for them, when they go quiet. I’m scared of needing K like this the whole time we must be apart but I’m just as scared of stopping needing her, of cutting off and my brain wiping her away so I can’t remember her at all. I’m scared my brain will erase all memory of her, like it has before, and that without seeing her I’ll never find my way back to her.

I don’t know how to do this and I wish I did.

I know places

****TW mention of suicide****

Last night I saw in the news that a 19 year old girl took her life last week due to fears over the isolation needed because of Coronavirus. She had told her family days before that we should expect the suicide rate to increase as a result of the outbreak and that more needed to be done to support those with existing mental health problems during this time. I found it heart-breaking – I’d already said to a few people that I suspected this would happen, and I highly doubt she will be the last as so many are plunged into uncertain times and losing the support they depend upon. I also read that new research indicates that if a country’s GDP falls below a certain level for a certain period of time there will be more deaths in the medium term as a result of it than there will be due to the virus itself. This poses a clear moral dilemma for any government as they will need to balance harm averted with harm inflicted by the measures and reach a decision that citizens find palatable (whilst also not wanting to risk being voted out at the next election!). People are much better at ignoring threats that are invisible and far enough ahead to not affect daily life (think climate crisis!) and so I suspect most would not agree with the decision to stop measures to prevent the virus, despite knowing this may cause more harm in the longer term… Anyway, let’s just hope testing improves so we can get back to normal sooner rather than later.

I do find it really surprising that more isn’t being done to support those who are already really struggling with mental illness. There is, rightly, a huge amount of support that will be provided by volunteers for the 1.4 million UK citizens who are ‘extremely vulnerable’ to getting hospitalised because of the virus, but it makes me fearful for all those who won’t be on this list but are extremely vulnerable to the impact of having their ordinary support and coping routines disrupted. My GP said on the phone yesterday that whilst almost everyone is struggling at the moment, they are aware that those who are already dealing with things like I am are really having a difficult time. She said they will continue to support me but I just don’t think people without mental illness understand that a 5 minute phone call every two weeks or more really isn’t much support. I am lucky to have such a good GP, who understands the complexity of what I am dealing with, but the idea that this is ‘supporting me through this crisis’ is so far-fetched. K said I needed tell her about the self-harm, suicidal thoughts and research into Cyanide availability, and that I’m not eating, so I did and I told her that my therapist has said she’ll need to speak to her if things don’t improve, but she didn’t seem hugely concerned and I ended up just reassuring her that I would be okay and would get through. I do this so often, such a well-engrained habit of protecting other people from feeling any discomfort because of me.

I also thought last night how hard this is for people with eating disorders, how easy it will be for those with anorexia who have not yet come to the attention of their GP or other services to drop to dangerous levels of food intake and weight because no one will see them for weeks on end. I have lost 9lbs in 16 days and I am aware of the risks of not eating at this time and have been trying to eat protein shakes and porridge and dahl. I was in need of losing a little weight and I also want to be strong enough to cycle, so whilst I can see that things can’t keep going and that even two a half weeks is a long time of barely eating and not good for me, I am not too worried (maybe I also want to act like I’m in control of this and it is not ‘too dangerous’, I see that. I am at least trying not to keep it hidden). There will be so many more who are triggered into old eating disordered behaviours because of this outbreak, or who were already deep in it when it started but no one knew, and it worries me how invisible it could become.

It also makes me feel lucky – some of the support I have been getting isn’t helping and it definitely isn’t enough, but I do know people are there. They may not understand attachment pain and panic and the depth of the work K and I are doing, but there are at least people who know I am struggling. After I wrote on Monday I had my phone session with K and then felt completely bereft and afraid and called the crisis line and spoke to the same person as before but this time she completely triggered me because she wasn’t listening or engaging and was leaving huge silences and was clearly texting or emailing with others whilst we were talking – surely this is something that just shouldn’t be done. It would be better if they are busy just not to answer, or to check if the person is actively suicidal or self-harming at that moment and if they are physically safe to arrange to call back later. It made me feel so pathetic and like I wasn’t in enough need, in enough of a crisis, to have called. She told us to ‘have a bath’ (FFS, this is like the worst mental health crisis advice ever!) and call later if needed but we all felt so triggered and rejected and ashamed that we won’t be calling again. We self-harmed really badly afterwards, loads of cuts that are still sore today, but it did really settle and soothe things. That is the sad reality – it does help when other ways of calming things are unattainable.

It does seem as though K is really the only person who can provide the support we all need at the moment. I do have lots of friends who are definitely helping, but because this is about my fear of K and I being separated she is the only one who can really soothe it. So maybe it is better that it is only her I go to for regular support and then just use other things to distract during this time. When I’m desperate I kind of expect that I might call a helpline who make things worse, but I don’t want to have someone who says they are there to support us all through this then being weird and triggering us all. The between (phone) session contact, especially the morning texts on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with K is really helping. Most mornings I wake early in a total panic, dread clutching at my chest and my tummy tight and tense, feeling totally unable to get through this time away from K whilst everything else is so uncertain too. Being able to text her and know a response will come straightaway is really helping to settle things. Last night I was doing better, definitely feeling calmer and more contained and adult, and then got triggered in the evening (see below) and knowing I could text first thing this morning really helped. We text at 8.30 and she replied straightway with the perfect response. It is amazing how one text from her settles everything now, how she always knows the right thing to say, and how everyone inside can take it in now. In response to our worries she said she hears and sees us all as much as ever and that she hopes things can go back to normal as soon as possible (we are worried she’ll decide to work without face-to-face forever, or will give the second half of my double session to someone else so it is not there when we can go back to meeting). She reminded me I can do this and to keep cycling and eating dahl!

Yesterday ended up being a mildly better day. On Monday evening Nina thought she had started her periods but it turned out to be blood from a kidney infection – we ended up at A&E to see the out of hours doctor on Tuesday night as she was feeling very unwell with bad pain above her right kidney. She is doing much better now with antibiotics and having to switch into my adult and be very present on Tuesday evening really helped to ground me, so that was an unexpected benefit of her getting ill. The reason I then got triggered again last night was because I saw on K’s website she is offering reduced online sessions of half an hour for people who are overwhelmed by the Covid crisis and it makes me worried she will take on too much and make herself ill, but I tried to remind myself she has worked in maximum security psychiatric wards and state hospitals before she went into private practice and that she is good at dealing with other people’s crises. She also doesn’t have anyone else at home (her partner returned from Portugal last week with their other 3 dogs but she has sent them to live in the stables building down the lane with a camping stove which makes us all laugh a lot – she’s definitely settled into living alone since he moved abroad and doesn’t want him full time in the house again!) and looks after herself well. I think everyone is worried at the moment about their Ts burning out or getting ill, but I have to trust that she will be careful and would prioritise existing clients if things got too much.

Nina is doing better emotionally since Sunday. It’s possible she was getting ill then which is why everything felt so hard (she had a huge strop when we were out cycling, amongst other times), but also I’m sure she needed space to experience and process her big feelings around her life changing so dramatically. She was in a much better place on Monday and is her usual self again now – at the moment she is in the study (thank goodness we moved house before this outbreak!) doing her school work. Her teachers are emailing work according to the students’ normal timetable and then are available to answer questions about it during the normal lesson time. She took yesterday off due to the kidney infection so she will have lots to do today and that is keeping her busy. Yesterday we read in the garden and watched the bunnies and guinea pigs most of the day. Things felt more spacious and I could tell that Nina will be OK during this time, even if she has understandable dips in mood and frustrations. I am really lucky she doesn’t really have struggles in life as this is making parenting through this crisis easier. The biggest challenge will be not having any space for myself at home, but when she is feeling okay the house feels more spacious and she is respectful of my needs. And luckily her and I really do like each other and laugh a lot, I know this is not the case for all families at this time! My friend who also has CPTSD has a 12 year old daughter who experiences depression and anxiety and is really struggling without her routine and with all the fear and anxiety around generally at the moment. This is making it really hard for my friend who has to support her daughter through multiple meltdowns and provide lots of emotional support and mental stimulation each day despite finding things hard herself, and I really feel for her. Nina is very good at entertaining herself and seems to automatically know to do things that are good for her in a way that has taken me years to develop – eating well, staying active, varying her activities, doing creative projects. Nina’s ability to express her worries and feel her feelings – even if they are a little out of control at times – and then return to baseline during this uncertain and strange time is providing me with more reassurance that she is securely attached and a generally happy and content person.

On Monday I return to work (from home, obviously) after my sick leave. K is not sure I should, she is worried the stress will be too much for me, especially as Nina is on Easter holidays next week so won’t have school work to keep her busy, but I am going to try. I only have a week and then I have a week and a half annual leave, and then when I go back Nina will be ‘back to school’ and being emailed work so we will be able to settle into a routine. I am hoping having work to focus on next week will help me, plus also I don’t want an extended time off because if the institution I work for cannot sustain at its current level without international travel next year and less attending due to a global recession then I don’t want to be one of those who is made redundant. Plus it is about to be the ‘quieter’ six months at work and there will be many days when no one will really notice what I am doing – or not doing – because we have to set our own work and goals around research. I’ll see how it goes anyway, but sometimes my work does help to steady me and provides a clear sense of purpose and fulfilment.

So today I am feeling OK. Not my usual self by any means, but OK. I am going to spend some time outside reading and go on a bike ride again. The house is it’s normal tidy and organised state again which always makes me feel better, and I am going to do a thorough clean of each room when I’m on annual leave after next week. I said to K in our check-in email yesterday (even that moving from Friday to Wednesday feels incredibly unsettling!) that I know I have all the resources and spiritual practices needed to get through this period, I know there is a peaceful place that lives inside of me and enables me to do the right things to care for myself, but it is very hard to do these things and access this place when my attachment system is haywire. It gets to the point where nothing else matters but her but yesterday gave me a small glimpse of that stable and calm space I was so often in before this crisis, where there are other things in my life aside from K. I also feel incredibly lucky that so far I feel connected to her still and able to tell her exactly what I’m experiencing attachment-wise, without shame or fear, and receive what I need in response. Every so often I worry that what I need will be too much for her (which is partly why I asked for daily contact of some sort each week day, because I know this is easier for her than regular crisis support and extra sessions) but I think it is important to remember that now she knows how to support me and what I need and so we are not both activating each other. I don’t feel suspicious or mistrustful of her and I know she misses seeing us all, and that we will see each other as soon as we are able. She said on Monday that we are both in agreement that how we are working is not as good as face-to-face work and this is reassuring. I think it is really important for every single person who is living under lockdown that we don’t get used to not seeing each other and being outside because this is what makes us human and part of this incredible universe. People getting used to this feels like a death sentence and I hold hope that we all survive it and come out the other side remembering how important it is to hug and share food and be together, even when we are not saying anything at all.

Everything has changed

***** TW talk of suicide ******

Things continue to be incredibly difficult. I’ve been searching for how to buy cyanide online and how quickly it kills, not for now but to be prepared. To make matters worse Nina is really struggling – she has gone from someone who reports ‘feeling happy at least 95% of the time’ to feeling flat and hopeless and experiencing huge outbursts of rage. I’ve told her it’s amazing she’s never felt this way before, but of course it means she has no resilience to it and no sense that it will pass. So I am trying to hold myself and all the freaking out parts, but also her. I had been feeling as though parents of young kids would be struggling so much more than the parent of a teen, but at least they love parental attention and are possible to entertain, it’s just hard work and monotonous for the parent. With a teen they just want their friends and however hard I try I cannot be enough. Plus she has a sense of time and knows we are in this for the long haul. She is being sent work from school this week which will hopefully help, but then it is 2 and a half weeks Easter holidays and after that who knows how long of this strange new life we all find ourselves living.

Because there are so many selfish shits in this country totally ignoring government guidance we are going to end up in lockdown soon. This will mean Nina can’t spend some of the time with her Granddad and we will be together 24/7 probably till September at the earliest. At the best of times this would be a very tough proposition but whilst in mental health crisis this feels like something I just cannot handle. I will not even have time on my own in the house to fall apart and put myself back together again, as I’ve relied upon ever since I became a parent. It will all be holding it together and holding someone else together too. It feels absolutely impossible to cope with, especially without my weekly escape and sanctuary with K, where I can breathe and let it all go.

There are so many memes about how to make the best of this time and loads of advice for parents who ‘suddenly find themselves home schooling’. It is such bullshit and clearly not written by people with shredded nervous systems who will also be trying to work full time at home. I honestly don’t know how I am going to manage when I go back to work from this sick leave on Monday. My whole system feels totally broken and hyper-sensitive and I don’t know how I will cope without time in the house by myself, with a teenage daughter who goes to bed later than me and is going to be struggling with such a huge change and loss herself. She was swimming 10 hours a week and just getting her independence with her friends, so to have all that taken away overnight, I’m not surprised she is struggling so much. It doesn’t help that most of her friends’ parents haven’t got the memo about social distancing saving lives and are letting their children have sleepovers and get togethers. Hopefully this will stop soon.

K and I will be working by phone this afternoon but an hour just doesn’t feel enough to connect and settle this storm. In addition my neighbours are clearly spending their first day ‘working from home’ having a massive party and have music on really loud and I find it impossible to focus on anything when noise is intruding on my space, but particularly when I feel this way. It’s just incredible that so much has changed so fast. It is two weeks since I thought K was over-reacting by making me sit further away, but she really wasn’t. Already our NHS in London is overwhelmed, 30 and 40 year olds waiting to be treated in intensive care, facing death because there are not enough ventilators. I am trying to hold on to this being temporary, trying to believe people who tell me we’ll get through this as a country and things will go back to normal, that weekly face-to-face sessions with K will resume, but I don’t really believe it, not because I am catastrophising but because our economy will be in tatters and the climate crisis was already threatening collapse.

I keep getting these huge waves of panic and grief and despair. I don’t know how to survive this – I scan every development to try and work out what it means for my therapy, for my recovery, my ability to survive this. Half the country is freaking out and the other half have no clue because they don’t read the news. Both of these are problematic responses to live alongside. I worry for the physical and mental well-being of all those who are confined and separated from those they love and rely upon. Reading what is happening in Italy helps me keep things in perspective and remember that this really is a life or death situation, and that I want K to stay safe even if it means we don’t meet for a year and so I will do my part in that. It is really f*cking tough though, and if one more person tells me ‘therapy isn’t stopping’ or asks ‘can you contact your therapist by phone instead?’ I will kill them.

A light in the darkness has been the NHS local crisis support line I was given – after I rang the first time I was given a number I can call 24/7 but also can keep contacting their line 6pm-midnight each evening. The woman I first spoke to has been incredible – she understands DID and attachment trauma and the importance of the therapy relationship, she is compassionate and kind, reassuring but also full of practical advice and makes sure I don’t try and be too positive or fall into total negative thinking. I’ve spoken to her twice, on Thursday and Friday evenings, and she texted with a young part on Friday and Saturday evenings too and helped us to go to bed. It is so unusual to find someone who ‘gets it’ so this has been such a blessing. She says the other people on the helpline are lovely too, but she wasn’t sure on their knowledge of DID. She is working this evening so says if I’m triggered after speaking with K I can call again. It really helps us all feel less alone and I wish it was available elsewhere in the country too. I haven’t been able to ring as often as I’ve needed to because Nina has been here, but knowing they are there is a real lifeline.

If this was a movie

K has suspected Coronavirus. She text to say she has chills, pain, a cough and a mild cold but because we live in the mother-f*cking UK where people in the community aren’t being tested she doesn’t know for sure. She has been advised to self-isolate for 7 days and says we will work by phone tomorrow and make a plan for me to see her dogs (who have just got home from Portugal today and I was expecting to see tomorrow). Obviously this will depend on how she is though as she may not be well enough to work by phone. I also have a tight chest and tickly throat so maybe I am getting it now too, as I saw K on Monday and we did cutting and sticking together, but it could also just be the amount I’ve cried this week. I’m not too worried if I am – I think the general consensus is that most people can only get it once (a few cases of people seemingly getting it twice have been reported, but it doesn’t appear to be a common thing) and so presumably we could meet if we’d both had it and I could also reduce the levels of anxiety over touching things and going to the shops and so on. I am obviously worried about Nina’s asthma, but to be honest getting it sooner rather than later is better for her as it would be before the NHS was totally overloaded if she were to need to go to hospital with exacerbated asthma.

I guess the issue is that because people here are not getting tested unless they are hospitalised we may not know if either of has had it for sure, but K rarely gets ill and has had her winter flu jab so to me it seems likely. I guess we just wait and see. I worry she will get very ill with it because she has underlying health conditions, but is vegan and eats well and takes good care of herself so hopefully she will be fine. She has been sending photos of the dogs this afternoon and says she is okay. The hospitals here aren’t completely over-burdened yet as far as I know, so if she were to develop breathing difficulties she would get the treatment she needs. And she will take care of herself afterwards so that she recovers properly.

It’s interesting how my attachment system reacts. We had a cry when we first got her text, as it is scary for little people when their attachment figure is unwell, but we are relatively calm and okay now and not freaking out about not being able to go tomorrow. I think it is that ever-present fear that we won’t see her that is really difficult to manage. I still feel completely awful and anxious and on edge and cried as soon as I woke up this morning about managing an extended time without seeing K in person and all that brings with it. My GP called earlier and has advised that there is crisis support I can access from 6pm to midnight every night if I need it, so that is good. She says it’s hard because my needs are complex and only my therapist knows how to help really, but that the crisis line is staffed by mental health professionals so should have a good understanding of what is going on for me and therefore are unlikely to trigger me further.

It is awful witnessing how much fear and hardship is unfolding across the globe, I am trying really hard to switch off from it tonight because I really need to get myself in a better place if I am to cope with what is ahead for humanity. Food is still not happening and I don’t know what to do about this. The thought of eating feels very unsafe. We are making cards for K and the dogs to put in the post later as a friend dropped round some stamps earlier. I worry my blog sounds like all I care about is myself and my therapist as this global catastrophe unfolds, but of course that is not true – this is my place to write about what is going on for me emotionally and I am deeply aware of how much suffering and fear there already is, and that it will get worse, and my heart hurts for all that is happening.

 

 

 

 

The last time

K and I agreed during our phone call that we will work via Skype, email and text from Monday. We are meeting for a final face-to-face session (for now I hope!) on Thursday or Monday, depending on when her car is fixed. So unless one of us gets sick before then we have two more hours with her and she is going to lend us lots of books and it is a relief to be going there with the knowledge it is the last time for a while, rather than being cut off suddenly. This feels utterly horrendous but the right thing for both of us. It feels too risky to keep meeting when her and Nina have asthma and K has the thyroid disorder – imagine if she got hit badly by the virus and had a massive health flare. And it means we won’t be on edge every single week wondering if the next session will go ahead. It will be hugely challenging and I have wailed and sobbed a lot this afternoon and felt so unsafe I’ve called my GP to ask about crisis support, but nothing about this current situation is not challenging, for anyone.

We are going to split the double session to do hour long phone sessions on Mondays and Fridays,  with our usual quick email check-in on Wednesdays (we’d both individually thought this would work best) and I’ve asked if at the start I can pay a bit for text check-ins on Tuesdays and Thursdays because I’d rather know that is there then need to be in absolute crisis to get contact on those days. It will be good to know it is there however I am doing. My biggest fear is totally cutting off from her and becoming incredibly dissociated and forgetting who she is. I hope the level of contact will stop this. She also said she would let me know how she is if she got sick, because that would be awful to know she’d caught it and not know how she was with it. I really hope I can start to stabilise, not least because I need to build my immune system up and I’m still not eating. Today I had 3 chick pea rissoles at 6.30 plus a Vitamin C and Zinc drink. This is not enough and is more than I’ve had some days. I am going to try and sort this out tomorrow.

The call was helpful but left me feeling utterly bereft and I’ve struggled a lot this afternoon. It is just too much to think that I won’t see K every week or be in my safe space and there is so much fear from young parts that we won’t be as close, won’t be special, won’t be real anymore, that she won’t see and hear them and hold them. It is really so much to cope with, for all those whose therapy is disrupted – K said it is just so difficult as my work with her has been such a consistent source of support, but she is heavily invested in our work continuing. After we spoke I felt really desperate and rang a friend in floods of tears which I rarely do. She really calmed and soothed me and says she’s really here to help me through this. She really understands my attachment to K and doesn’t judge me for it. It settled me for a while but then I got overwhelmed again and sobbed and wailed and wanted to die. I thought about going to hospital because I felt so unsafe, but obviously that is not ideal at the moment. K has said she thinks I need 24/7 support really and she is very worried about me.I don’t want that on top of everything else she has to deal with. I’ve rang my GP surgery and hopefully my GP will call tomorrow (again! She only rang this morning!) and let me know what crisis support is available. I said to the secretary that I was aware that it is the wrong time to have a crisis but that this is probably the worst my mental health has ever been (I don’t necessarily feel worse than I ever have, but it all feels utterly hopeless) and I need some help. My sister is a counselling psychologist with the NHS and she says there will still be crisis support. I hope so as I genuinely am having a lot of suicidal thoughts and feelings and am scared I’ll get the virus really badly due to all this emotional stress and lack of food.

I am going to take sleeping tablets now and hope I actually sleep tonight because that would definitely help. Nina just said that “day 1” wasn’t too bad and I told her I was struggling because I wouldn’t see K for such a long time – I said it was like if she was told she could only talk to me on the phone for months and perhaps longer (we are 12-18 months from a vaccine) because K is the most important person in my life apart from her and she did understand that. Tough times ahead but I do feel K and I have a good plan in place at least. Love to all who those who are also struggling with these types of issues and thanks for the comments on my last post – too tired to respond now but I will.

 

The moment I knew

My session yesterday was beautiful, as beautiful as it could be given what is unfolding. Started to freak out at the end but managed to hold it together. Then at 11pm I found out through a friend that all those with asthma are being advised to self-isolate for 12 weeks  at least – Nina and K both have asthma. Cue meltdown. Then another friend said something hugely unhelpful about societal collapse and I had panic attacks all night and didn’t sleep at all. It feels like the end of the world as we know it. How can things return to ‘normal’? I don’t want this post to be about the f*cking chaos that is unfolding globally though, because I don’t want to add to that drama and fear.

Luckily I went sick at work yesterday, and will be off for at least two weeks. I decided to do it as I was a total state and knew I needed some space to get myself together and have some time at home and in nature by myself before the end of term, so I was as prepared as possible for a lot of time at home entertaining Nina. I didn’t realise she’d be off today too and for the foreseeable future.

I text K at 8.30 asking if this latest guidance changes our work, telling her Nina and I are now self-isolating, asking to speak. We are speaking at 2. I am holding out for that and having some support because I’ve not slept and Nina is devastated also and holding her feelings about this when I want to die is pretty tough, but at the same time dreading what she will say – not being with her for 3 months or more is unthinkable. It says people with the most serious health conditions will be asked to socially isolate within days – K said yesterday we could go for a session on Thursday this week as well. I am hoping that can still happen, so we can be together knowing it is the last time for a while. This may not be possible though, or it may be that she has thought this through already – her asthma is controlled and she seemed to be ahead of the curve in seeing what was ahead for us as a country, so surely she’d have said no face-to-face already if this was going to be the case. Of course I want her to be safe though. Phone will work for a while because we have such a strong attachment now, it’s just that this whole thing triggers bigger attachment fears about not being able to get to her. I want to trust that this will pass, but it is hard to believe that when looking at the global economic mess that is upon us and worsening. ‘Business as usual’ has been disrupted. I am trying not to catastophise as it is definitely unhelpful!

I am desperate for some support. I am feeling suicidal. The problem is reaching out to people who don’t understand attachment trauma makes me feel worse. People are saying about communities coming together and new world’s being built after this and I want to scream because I don’t want anything else, I only want K. I don’t want a new world if it doesn’t involve seeing her. I recognise the value in all these things, in self-care and nature and (virtual) community and presence, but right now all I want is her. I considered calling The Samaritans but they have triggered me in the past trying to rationalise with my attachment disorder. Lots of my friends are, understandably, having a really tough time or just cannot understand my concerns.

I also wasn’t prepared for suddenly not being able to get things – someone in my village is getting a prescription for me and dropping it outside with, hopefully, some loo rolls! But I need someone to post things for me, collect my sick note, pick up schoolwork for Nina. We can still go out to wild places and for bike rides, and will do when I am more together, but all I want is someone just to come and sit with me and that is not possible. If anyone has any ideas for where I can get more support please let me know, like any organisations or online groups where people who know about attachment trauma but aren’t in crisis themselves are able to provide support to those who are in attachment panic. K says she is here for me to talk to about all of this but she can’t be there 24/7 which seems to be what I need right now. I’m also scared she’ll buckle under the pressure of all this – she must have so many clients freaking out and her own concerns too. I don’t want my needs to get too big for her and make her go away.

What a shit time to be in need of crisis support when our NHS is buckling.

Love and strength to all during this uncertainty xx

 

Hold on

“I know how to hold you all” have to be the most soothing words I’ve ever heard because not only does it mean we are all held, but also that it is safe to be held – K knows what she is doing, it is not an accident that she makes us feel better, it won’t just stop working between us and disappear. Just had (another!) crisis phone session – me sitting in my car in the pouring rain with a cup of tea and my duvet in case Nina woke up whilst we were talking. I meditated this morning and then fell into an absolute panic stricken state again, racing heart and total craziness. I text and said I couldn’t survive this and she offered a phone session but I said no initially because of money, but then got worse because tomorrow feels forever away, so I text back and said could we (let’s face it, none of us are going anywhere or spending much money for a while and this doesn’t seem the time to be worrying about debt (for me personally, I know for others there will be genuine and very frightening financial implications of this outbreak and I am donating money) and we spoke straight after.

It really helped, thank goodness. The panic had been triggered, among other things, by her partner emailing me yesterday to say he was trying to get home (he moved to Portugal with two of their dogs who we are very attached to two and a half years ago, so he’s kept in touch sending photos of them and telling us what they are doing) with the dogs as soon as he’s got their passports (the dogs’!) sorted but that lots of Spain is in lockdown so it’s difficult. It wasn’t a very clear email and was totally triggering (would I still be allowed in the house if he was there (he’s much older than K)? would he have to self-isolate? would he disturb our sessions? would the dogs be home and us not allowed to see them (this was the first fear that came out on the phone!!)?) and I did eventually email him back and say I was triggered and could he explain a bit more (wish people would slow down and be more mindful in their communication, now more than ever that is needed). He said the syntax was that I might be seeing the dogs soon, so it was meant to be a good email!

Just hearing K’s voice helped – she is so calm. I hadn’t wanted to reach out to her about Steve because I didn’t want to make it about me when it’s probably worrying for her, but she says she’s not worried and hadn’t asked him to come (I had visions of her pacing the floor in anguish about never seeing him again, as my mum would be), but he had felt it was right to try. He might not be able to get home as he has to take the ferry because of the dogs and has to wait till Tuesday when their passport requirements are signed off at the vets, and by then most of France and Spain may be in lockdown, but he wants to try. If he gets here then I will still be allowed in the house and to see the dogs, and Steve will go back to Portugal at the end of the summer.

We were honestly hysterical on the phone trying to explain that everything else feels manageable in terms of what is ahead in my own life apart from the fear of loss of attachment, and that this means every single mention of the virus is a huge trigger. I said (sobbed) how in that place I lose sight of everything else in my life, the focus is solely on attachment because it feels threatened, and I said Friday’s call hadn’t helped but Thursday’s had (I think I was in too adult a place having just finished work, so young parts fears didn’t come out properly until after the call so that is important to notice at this time especially). And we talked through that this is because young parts need to come out and connect in order for them to settle enough for adult me to look after us all – if young parts don’t feel connected or visible to K when they are distressed everything falls apart. And I think also they need to talk to her check she is the same to them, and hasn’t forgotten how to be with them, because her not being the same is a big worry and isn’t always resolved by her being the same to adult me. So she said we will support them top down (helping adult me so I can look after them and so they benefit from the support she gives adult me) and bottom up – so she holds them and soothes them and they have time with her being quiet and held. She says how brilliant I am at resourcing, but that I can’t do that when young parts are this distressed and she asked what young parts needed today. I said they need to hear her say about us (K and us) being special and joined together and why we are special and she said how she knows all of us now and that we’ve known each other so long and that she knows how to hold us now. Honestly it was the most soothing thing because she is so right, she really does know how to hold us – I cannot imagine what this outbreak would have done to my system 3 or 4 years ago when contact with K was a lifeline but felt like it was killing me. Back then when a crisis call ended I would be plunged right back into abandonment despair and would be unable to cope because it just wasn’t enough, now mostly I feel better after talking. It has taken so long to get to that point but I am grateful I reached it before this current situation!

I still feel utterly rubbish but less on edge and able to surive until tomorrow afternoon at least. This morning Nina and I are going to buy loads of craft stuff so we can make decoupage animals over the coming weeks (sounds as though schools here will close for SIXTEEN WEEKS, it’s gonna take more than decoupage animals to survive that) and to stock up on pet food. Later on it is my turn to do the 100 mile round trip for swimming training, which I could really do without today but I guess I need to just get on with it.

Sending love to all my readers and hope you are staying strong and well during these uncertain times.

Stay stay stay

I’m in the worst attachment crisis I’ve been in for over a year and a half. It is utter hell and because it’s in large part being driven by the disruption caused by the Coronavirus outbreak it seems impossible to settle it, because it is based on real things that are unfolding and I can’t reassure myself that K and I will be continuing to meet and she isn’t going away because that just isn’t true right now. We don’t know what is happening when or how long the measures will last. We worked by phone again yesterday evening – I’d had an overwhelming day at work as we are moving everything online and so there was loads of stress over how to do it and levels of anxiety among our international students in particular were palpable as they decide whether to fly home and risk not being able to get back here, or not being able to travel on to their home cities once they land. Every adult decision I had to make and thing I needed to do was triggering young parts further and further into attachment panic.

The call was fine but didn’t settle things, which I think K could tell, and then I self-harmed a lot after we spoke not because the call was triggering but because it wasn’t enough and didn’t land and then I was by myself again. I was really feeling as though I needed the crisis team or to go to hospital, so to be honest if cutting helps me manage things a bit then it’s okay – not ideal, but okay. My friend came over and I managed to distract a bit while she was here (didn’t tell her about the cutting because I think it sounds more dramatic than it is, for people who don’t get it) and I slept with diazepam which was a relief.

We text K first thing this morning and said we are basically in constant terror but also already in annihilation flashbacks so it’s like both our worst flashback states together (I can’t even explain but it is like the body memories of total annihilation and death due to loss of attachment whilst being in constant fear of being abandoned whilst feeling that bad) and she said she hears it and she is here. She said on the phone yesterday that she can’t see that anything will stop us meeting on Monday and that we will still work if after that we can’t meet face-to-face, but it’s not the lack of work that bothers me, but that not being able to physically get to her triggers all my attachment stuff and then I cannot seem to ground into my life and connect with all the things that aren’t K that make my life safe and okay. The attachment fear takes over and becomes the only thing that matters. On Thursday she had explained how my attachment system works and why it is only her that can soothe it, and that has helped a little with lessening the shame over not being able to just do other things that are important and helpful to me.

I made it to see one of my oldest and most special friends today – she moved to a city that is 80 miles away a couple of years ago so I drove up there for the day. It was lovely to see her and we had a nice walk in the woods and talked about lots of things and she was so understanding about what this f*cking virus has triggered in me attachment-wise and totally gets that it’s not that K is the only thing in my life, but that when it feels like my time with her is under threat it totally takes over everything. I would honestly rather die than lose her when things are this bad and it means every f*cking thing unfolding globally becomes a trigger for a potential loss of connection with her.

I picked Nina up on the way home and have reassured her that if we end up at home a lot over the holidays and with school closures afterwards we will build a routine and not just sit on our phones all day and that we’ll be fine, but I don’t feel capable of following this advice for myself. I’m scared if I do things to distract I’ll lose K, so I’m basically stuck in this awful place. I’m still not eating, though K has told me I need to and I said I would (‘because you won’t go away if we eat, that’s silly?’ said someone little on the phone yesterday, but I’m not sure they believe it). My mouth is constantly dry with a rancid taste regardless of how much water I drink because of all the toxins. I will probably cut again. I honestly seem unable to stabilise and am scared this crisis will last for months.

I am hoping it will become easier now I’ll be working at home until at least early May and can avoid all the fear and anxiety people at work have been experiencing and also once I’ve seen K face-to-face on Monday, but I am worried I’ll get into a total state again when I see her and especially being in the different room again and with the chairs so far apart. When will it stop being so hard? I really hate that my experiences as a baby have left me with this forever, that I actually feel this way in the present as a result of things that happened so long ago. I am so cross that I feel perfectly capable of handling what this virus is throwing at us and yet it is still triggering the hardest feelings imaginable in me because K is my attachment figure but not my family and however hard she tries, she may not be able to preserve our therapy in the face of what is ahead.

Breathe

I had reiki this morning which really calmed my system, like everything inside softened away from the surface where I’ve been clinging on for the past few days and I settled and expanded deeper into myself. I text ahead and said I’d been in a huge emotional storm since Monday and was still very activated and that it helped for me to know she knew that before I arrive. The reiki master, Sophia, I’ll call her as I’m sure she’ll come up on here again, is very stabilising and grounding, and it is nice because she doesn’t know my history, only what has been relevant to share, and we are really careful around boundaries because I’m in therapy obviously. The first thing she said was that she imagined I was struggling, like her, as an empath with the amount of fear and anxiety in the world right now. I said yeah, how at work yesterday lots of people were so anxious and it felt more harmful than the threat of the virus. And I spoke a bit about what happened on Monday with K (she was also surprised by the distancing thing but knew that the focus really was on what it created in me) but said I wanted to be careful not to get into talking about my therapy with a third party.

After my session I felt much calmer and more contained and K and I had a phone session planned for as soon as I got back and I felt it was good that I was a little less agitated going in to that. It was a really huge struggle not to reach out to K yesterday because it was her birthday, so I text asking for a phone session at 8.30 and she replied straightaway. (Towards the end of the call she says she’s here for me so just to text and I said how hard we found it not to contact her yesterday so we text as soon as we could this morning, and she laughed and said she had noticed and that she appreciated it).

The call started with breathing and a body scan and I said I felt like I had died and also was about to die, like I was completely broken but also on the edge of an abyss, clinging on so I don’t die, but not in a good place to die in the first place if that makes sense – broken and in agony and then left on the abyss edge. I said ‘I just want to feel like our attachment system isn’t under threat – not a big ask then!!’ and she said it was good because it was clear and showed awareness of what was happening for me. And I managed to tell her that sitting so far from her when I was so upset on Monday and that she didn’t move closer or offer me a hug like last time was absolute agony and she really understood that.

It was kind of awkward when we were talking at first because I talked her through the last few days but didn’t want to open up a debate about Coronavirus. I said it had helped seeing my new friend because she shares the same anger as me at how the media has whipped everyone into a frenzy that was causing more harm than the virus itself. I said I knew that disruption is ahead but that until Monday I was managing to stay present and just see each day that is not disrupted as a gift, which we should do every day anyway. And I said it had helped me to turn the news off and to look at the actual statistics and to remember that the numbers of people infected, even in Italy, are pretty miniscule, and that the fears are mostly over what it will do to the economy. K said it helped hearing my perspective because she’d said she’d thought it likely that I would be totally freaking out about it. She also said she’s not actually worried about her own health but about the elderly and vulnerable people she comes into contact with, and she said she thinks of me as someone who would be very vulnerable to getting very ill from the virus because of my pre-existing conditions. I found that interesting as I had’t put myself in that category at all – I think it’s likely I will have a lot of pain if I get it because my nervous system is over-sensitive, but I’m not systemically unwell – but she had and that was partly why she did what she did on Monday – she had thought I might be relieved she was taking precautions. I do maintain that what she did on Monday was mad and clumsy, but I do think it was well-intentioned, and was in part a way of making sure she can keep working if/when things escalate here.

She said it’s clear we have slightly different perspectives on the Coronavirus, and that this doesn’t matter as our work is to support what it brings up in me. I think that actually we don’t – we agree that there is going to be a big period of disruption ahead, I’m definitely not disputing that, but I don’t think the virus itself is a huge threat compared with everything else going on in the world, and I think the media is being really irresponsible and making it seem a lot worse than it is (there have been 1.1 billion news stories on the Coronavirus (most of them really scraping the barrel for things to write about) since the outbreak started – that is utterly bonkers!). And I also don’t think the level of cases means that plans and behaviours should be changed at the moment – let’s make the most of things being normal while they are. Anyway, this post is not about the Coronavirus and whose perspective is right or wrong – as K said, the outbreak has actually caused a huge disruption for me because of the threat it poses to my therapy, and that is what we need to work together with.

I kind of skirted around stuff and was slightly combative and she asked if I was grown up Charlie and I said ‘yes!’ and then ‘no, there are lots of parts around (clearly a teen part being argumentative and a little supercilious!) and everyone was very noisy and there were definitely little people and then someone little managed to say that we are not scared of anything about the Coronavirus apart from not being able to get to therapy – we can handle ANY disruption apart from that, but that makes us want to die because it is TOO SCARY. And then the screaming and wailing and sobbing started again (though managed to refrain from clawing and digging my face this time!). We were nearly at time so she suggested we worked for 45 minutes instead and she said to let it out and that it was so helpful that I could articulate that fear. I said all of us would rather die than not be able to get to therapy and it really doesn’t feel like an exaggeration. Even though we are not in the thick of the work now, and I am so much more stable and only have one session a week and rarely need extra support between sessions, I really don’t do well at all without therapy and the thought of not being able to get there AT ALL does feel life-threatening.

It’s honestly so completely ridiculous to see it written like that, but that is how it is. I can see from what happened on Monday that when I’m triggered into that place I am completely unable to regulate and it really frightens me that I will be in that space and not able to go and see her. It actually has helped knowing that even if we can’t get there it won’t be an abyss with no contact, it won’t even be a therapy break with planned contact as she will be home and if there’s a crisis (e.g. Mum dies or gets ill) then extra support will be possible. She said she’s seen me in some states about things similar to this before so was expecting that this time, and I pointed out that the terror over climate breakdown and the ecological collapse is, at a basic level, just terror over not being able to get to her. (I do feel a lot of grief over what humanity has done to our home, and a lot of apprehension over what is ahead, but it feels manageable from an adult place, whereas loss of attachment just feels life-threatening). I still don’t feel I could survive without her, particularly if it happened suddenly. She totally understands that, and she knows we’ve never attached to anyone like this before. She knows how scary it is to be that attached to someone and have the fear of them not being there, and she says she’s here to provide as much support as I need over the coming weeks as she thinks this heightened anxiety will last a while as things unfold in the UK.

So anyway, her plan is to keep working throughout the outbreak, just with extra precautions, and the only time that would change is if the government says we are not allowed to leave our houses at all (or one of us has to self-isolate obviously). So this is a big relief as we won’t stop working if schools and universities close, or even if we go into lockdown like Italy, because that would just be to stop lots of people being together and risking infecting lots of people, and there are just two of us. And she says if for any reason I couldn’t get there we would work by phone and probably more often, and that we could try Skype so that we can do cutting and sticking together and things that we might do in the room together. And we will have a big hug as soon as this is over (which I still think is over-cautious for now, I’ve not stopped hugging other people, but my friend says at work today people have been throwing used tea towels into the recycling and wiping down staplers with sanitiser, so I guess there is a lot of fear around and a real need for control that is just not possible for us to have). She also says on Monday I can have something transitional from the room like the Eeyore and little yellow Miffy (who has stayed with her a few times and even went to Portugal with her 3 years ago!) is going to sit close to her (and stay with her too though she doesn’t know that yet, just in case of any sudden changes).

I said that this is the worst attachment storm I’ve had since June 2018 (the ‘I’m taking a year off and we are ending’ debacle) and then we told her we’ve not eaten since Monday and we talked about how it happens in order to try and preserve attachment when we feel unsafe, and she said I do need to eat and take care of myself even more at the moment because of what’s happening. So I have to text her later to tell her I’ve eaten and been out and looked at nature. And then we can work by phone again tomorrow if needed or I can go for an extra session. So I feel very agitated still but also heard and held. We asked K if she feels sick knowing we are attached to her and she said not at all, that it’s a good thing because it’s healing. ‘And we are joined together?’ ‘Yes’. ‘And I am not a limpet?’, ‘No you’re not a limpet.’ It really is such a relief to be able to tell her exactly how bad it feels to not be able to reach her or to worry that we won’t be able to, that it really does feel like a life-or-death situation, because for so long it just felt too terrifying to be that vulnerable with her (though she knew by the constant crises of course). There is so much less shame over that now, although still fear that she will go away because of it, but that’s usually alleviated easily now, and the fact this hasn’t happened for so long when it was basically a weekly occurrence for the first few years of therapy, is testimony to how hard we’ve worked.

I hope other people who are worried about the disruption to therapy because of the stupid virus can get some reassurance from their therapists soon too. And let’s hope this whole thing blows over soon!