Now I lay me down to sleep – Art and Poetry by Charlotte Farhan

now-i-lay-me-down-to-sleep-1

 

Now I lay me down to sleep

Art and Poetry

by Charlotte Farhan

Now I lay me down to sleep,

eyes wide open and thoughts a plenty,

to numb to even weep,

my mind full but my soul empty.

If I should die before I wake,

please know I tried with all my might,

but could not survive the heartbreak,

I have been waiting too long for daylight.


This art and poetry portrays the ordeal of intrusive thoughts which are brought on due to mental illness, specifically complex trauma, anxiety disorders, personality disorders and psychosis.

My intrusive thoughts have been dominating my life since I can remember. As young as 5 I recall laying in my bed and reasoning with myself, internally bargaining:

“If I die in my sleep, I wont know, I will just die and then it will be over”.

Scary things had always happened at night in my world, the dark couldn’t be trusted and nor could most adults.

As I got older my intrusive thoughts took on an internal shaming ritual, whereby ripping myself to shreds about how I looked, how I had acted or how no one loved me and I would be alone forever – hence why these thoughts turned suicidal. Repeating to myself again and again:

“you are fat, you are ugly”,

as if I were counting maniacal sheep – one named fat the other ugly.

Sometimes the thoughts can turn external and onto others, fearing you may hurt someone or even kill someone – not because you want to but because you fear you will lose your mind. I used to fear that one day whilst travelling to school or college that I would push someone onto the railway tracks. Visualising it was horrifying, playing it out scene for scene , watching others scream in horror and watching myself be carted away by the “men in white coats”.

With psychosis the intrusive thoughts are there but take on a hallucinogenic  dimension. In the dark seeing evil angels looming over me or small fairy like creatures guiding me to safety, another world would open up – but what if I got trapped there? What if I wanted to stay? Reflections in mirrors can cause dysmorphic appearances, my eyes would disappear into my sockets, skin looked to be hanging off my face and seeing other people as myself.

Traumatic experiences cause flash backs which take you back to your trauma and hold you there in order to relive the ordeal again and again. Or you try and recreate the trauma and imagine a new ending – all the while punishing yourself internally, blaming yourself for what has happened to you or for what others have done to you.

Medication can help but it can be so much worse if you miss a dose or have to come off your meds for whatever reason, as well as very unpleasant side effects. There are so many drugs I have tried over the years and the ones that worked best were always the ones which left me like a zombie during the day, which is fine if you wish to be a zombie and there have been times this has suited me, to barely exist. However when you want to survive and possibly even live you can’t compromise on the “being awake” part.

The important thing to remember when dealing with intrusive thoughts or if a loved one is experiencing them, is to take this seriously – it is like any other health concern, such as finding a lump or a cough that just wont go away. Intrusive thoughts are an anxiety driven issue due to:

“THE AMYGDALA CONSTANTLY SENDING US FALSE SIGNALS THAT WE ARE IN DANGER”

Fight or flight is triggered with the obsession (the intrusive thoughts) and then the compulsion (is the bargaining – the fear) and the cycle repeats like groundhog day. Many people suffer in silence with these feelings and become trapped in their own isolation created due to living this way. So if you feel this is you or someone you know – please know first and foremost:

YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

There is support out there for you and your loved ones.

Here are some helpful links:

Sane 

Mind 

International Helplines

END THE STIGMA!


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Am I Real -Art and Poetry by Charlotte Farhan

am-i-real-1

 

AM I REAL?

by

Charlotte Farhan

The nature of reality perplexes most,

nothing can “be . . . ” and “not be . . . “,

so when I tell you I feel like a ghost,

please believe me.

Anything outside your mind can be unsure,

but how does something exist?

Does one have to have thunk it – to be sure,

of flesh and bone is all I consist.

Am I mentally constructed,

are my thoughts my own?

or possibly I came to this earth abducted,

or maybe I arose from my tombstone.

Is my conscious mental state related to my body?

for I see myself below,

separating self as I disembody,

left behind is but a puppet show.

 The earth is like water inside a fishbowl,

diminished in size and dimensions,

all unreachable as it slips into a black hole,

staring at my own reflection.


This piece of art and poetry addresses how it feels to be in a state of depersonalisation or derealisation. I experience both as symptoms of my anxiety disorders (OCD, GAD, CPTSD and AGORAPHOBIA) as well as my borderline personality disorder.

Find out more HERE

These sensations and feelings of being unreal or not being able to know what is real or not – have been causing me issues since I was a very young child. The worst times were when my voice used to speed up and I would hear myself speaking a million miles per hour, but others around me heard me speaking at a normal speed, or when I felt objects were to large or too small causing me to question all perspective, but by far the most disturbing is when you feel like an illusion, like a left over imprint.

As someone who has a degree in philosophy and who has studied philosophy for over 10 years now, “the theory of mind” was and still is one of my favourite subjects within philosophy. It has simultaneously helped me to accept that none of us truly know what reality is, as well as further perplex me and leave me questioning everything even more.

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There is not a lot of understanding when it comes to these disorders, often when people do not understand something or have not felt the things being described – it is easy for them to dismiss. However – why would anyone assume their reality is the same as another? There is evidence that we all experience the world differently without having any kind of mental illness or neurological damage.

How am I to know what you see… and how are you to know what I see…?

When I am touched does it feel the same as when you are touched?

When I eat do I taste the same flavours and interpret the textures the same as you?

Do I see the world as a “glass half empty kind of place or half full”?

Do I think the same thoughts?

The list goes on and on…

It is never as simple as “reality is reality”.

So question these ideas more, never judge another persons reality to be wrong or fake and remember that 1 in 5 people will have a mental illness at some point in their lives and some of us will have it for life.

End the stigma and learn how to better understand others and their reality.


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Like moths among the whisperings – Art by Charlotte Farhan

 

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Like moths among the whisperings 

by Charlotte Farhan

 

Anxiety can make one very small,

compressing you within,

it can keep you away like a mothball,

with depression as its conjoined twin.

The light draws us out,

but not for long,

however we stay alert – on the look out,

not sure if we belong.

We see others as butterflies,

fluttering with ease,

with their calm – we idealise,

where as we would be lost in a strong breeze.

When waking our hearts burst,

our minds race,

life pulling at us – being coerced,

forced to adorn our poker face.

We are like moths among the whisperings,

manoeuvring through the polite conversation,

like candles pulling us in – glistening,

so familiar – marking the end of our adaptation.


This painting and poem were prompted by a line in the Great Gatsby ,

There was music from my neighbor’s house through the summer nights. In his blue gardensmen and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.

but the line “like moths among the whisperings” made me think of how it feels to live with anxiety disorders whilst among others who don’t. It conjured up this image of anxious people as moths and non-anxious people as butterflies.

The irony is that most of the people who visited the parties in The Great Gatsby were probably butterflies. However even there I am sure a few moths anxiously found there way around , maybe with some dutch courage to aid their cause.



 

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The darkness creeps in – Art and Poetry By Charlotte Farhan

The darkness creeps in - art and poetry by charlotte farhan
The Darkness Creeps in – By Charlotte Farhan

Hearing everyone else cry
but no one asks
tears fall easier for them
my cheeks still dry
every day adjusting masks
staring at the sun
happy to comply
the darkness creeps in.

Mother loves with conditions
distance is key
with my confused contrition
more sadness dies
ignite the family tree
save ammunition
guilt injected lies
the darkness creep in.

Privilege protects them all
the abusers
predators blame accusers
before nightfall
enablers allow for this
take it on the chin
bury it within
the darkness creeps in.

Reality is fleeting
inside nothing
never staying in focus
with eyes bleeding
letting in all the nothings
hopeless neurosis
crushing psychosis
the darkness creeps in.


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Clouding of Consciousness – Art and Poetry by Charlotte Farhan

Clouding of Consciousness by Charlotte Farhan
Clouding of Consciousness by Charlotte Farhan

Clouding of consciousness,
adaptive defence kicks in,
my mind is filled with fogginess,
thoughts start to fade into rottenness,
no longer within my own skin.

I left me so I could survive,
muted and distorted,
reality and make-believe collide,
identities become contorted,
memories remain unsorted,
personalities I must contrive.

The world becomes bottomless,
no up or down,
just godlessness,
walking through a ghost town,
life is now preparing to shutdown,
parts of me are now autonomous.

There is no sense to be made of this,
autopilot is safer than being discarded,
why would it be better to reminisce,
instead let me be transported,
away from that place still haunted,
throw me into the abyss.

Dissociation has to exist,
without it we would not have been revived,
our pain and abuse dismissed,
leading so many to suicide,
washed away with the tide,
so some of us remain inside.


 

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Everyone is Watching – Art and Poetry By Charlotte Farhan

Everyone is Watching - By Charlotte Farhan
Everyone is Watching – By Charlotte Farhan

With this unseen malady,
the world is set to a different frequency,
faces move past with only apathy,
when they can’t fit you into a box,
intelligent, irrational, focused, erratic…
you seem a paradox.

Knowing people question me,
life feels scrutinised,
under the microscope,
wishing to be disguised,
not made to walk this tightrope.

Being able to be free,
not continuously analysed,
a participant, not an absentee,
hearing my voice,
without having to be patronised,
without having to prove my disabilities,
they love to give you the third degree,
have I not proved my invincibility?

We the stigmatised,
are not your problem to fix,
not here to be tamed and civilised,
neither will I be cured by your crucifix ,
“God only gives us what we can handle”
is this a joke – a chance to poke,
superstition and dogma we must dismantle,
instead with these ideas they provoke.

Everyone is watching me,
no longer left alone to recover,
my life is not something you can disagree,
they want to rip it away – uncover,
these things you can’t see,
no one would want this,
so with this plea,
stop watching me.


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Make it Stop – Art and Poetry by Charlotte Farhan

Make it Stop - Art and Poetry by Charlotte Farhan
Make it Stop – Art and Poetry by Charlotte Farhan

Waking up,
whipping eyelids open in panic,
heartbeats pound at my chest,
a frame of mind completely manic,
inside is emptiness,
depressed,
with nausea rising as if volcanic,
anxieties flood and infest,
unwanted thoughts,
borderline satanic,
the compulsions arise,
obsessed,
a lump in my throat,
gigantic,
memories pushed down,
repressed.


 

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This Body Survived – Art and Poetry By Charlotte Farhan

This Body Survived - By Charlotte Farhan
This Body Survived – By Charlotte Farhan
Since my first awareness of inhabiting this body,
my knowledge was somewhat confused,
feeling detached – sensations running through me,
seemingly rational when your anatomy is used,
with unwanted attention and unwanted affection,
with bruises and cuts – now an absentee,
apparently this carcass is a gift,
it feels removed – adrift,
terrified,
but this body survived.

Poetry and Art By Charlotte Farhan

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Time to Breathe – Art and Poetry By Charlotte Farhan

Time to breathe - By Charlotte Farhan
Time to breathe – By Charlotte Farhan

Time to breathe is a luxury,
many do not have the privilege,
a condition for recovery,
confused often with forgiveness.

Time ticks faster – lungs clench,
pressure mounts further inside,
enemies to avenge,
memories like cyanide.

There is no freedom from this tyranny,
like vines weaving through the undergrowth,
holding you to the earth – in captivity,
the past is like a murderer – cutthroat.

Time to breathe is not possible when dead,
life is your only time to salvage your liberty,
the story which follows is still unread,
the chance to respire remains a possibility.

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) Art by Charlotte Farhan

CPTSD - By Charlotte Farhan
CPTSD – By Charlotte Farhan

This piece of art is a visual representation of what it is like to live and suffer with complex post traumatic stress disorder.

Since childhood I have been repeatedly subjected to trauma, which went on into my adolescent years and then further into my adult years. As an toddler I was sexually abused by a family member, my Father suffered from alcohol induced psychosis and begun to act threatening and was a risk to myself and my Mother.

My Mother psychologically manipulated me from then until present day – through gaslighting, with emotional and narcissistic abuse. Abandoned on numerous occasions by both parents, with my Father abandoning me completely by early puberty, and my Mother leaving me to fend for myself whist she was in hospital, at the age of 12 (with only an 18 year old lodger to look in on me, who was not well themselves).

Then at 15 I experienced a violent rape by a boy in my school, causing me to have internal surgery and being put into a psychiatric hospital, where I was sexually assaulted a further 2 times by male inpatients. Abandoned once more by my Mother – whist in hospital experiencing one of the worst ordeals of my life. After leaving hospital the abuse from my mother continued, until leaving home at 17, from 17 until 26 drugs took over my life and whether illegal or prescribed a haze of denial took hold and saw reckless or complete social isolation as the two extremes I swung between.

Then at 26, upon seeing my rapist face to face I suffered a breakdown and have not fully regained control of my life since. With chronic illnesses and disabilities setting in from 28 onward, further isolation has occurred. The emotional captivity my Mother had me in was finally broken by myself last year (2015) when she asked to “have a break” as my dependency on her for help with my illnesses was too much for her, this – coming from a woman who used me as a care giver rather than raising me as a child, (as she suffers from co-morbid bipolar and BPD).

All the while stigmatised, marginalised and disenfranchised by teachers, doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, employers and the higher education system, pushing me further down with no civil rights or options. This is how I developed C-PTSD. This is a short description – an outline of events, rather than the detail of all the encompassing experiences which led to this disorder.


Here is some information on C-PTSD:

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), also known as complex trauma, is a proposed diagnostic term for a set of symptoms resulting from prolonged stress of a social and/or interpersonal nature, especially in the context of interpersonal dependence. Subjects displaying traits associated with C-PTSD include victims of chronic maltreatment by caregivers, as well as hostages, prisoners of war, concentration camp survivors, and survivors of some religious cults.
Situations causing the kind of traumatic stress that can lead to C-PTSD-like symptoms include captivity or entrapment (a situation lacking a viable escape route for the victim), as well as psychological manipulation (gaslighting and/or false accusations), which can result in a prolonged sense of helplessness and deformation of one’s identity and sense of self. C-PTSD is distinct from, but similar to, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), somatization disorder, dissociative identity disorder, and borderline personality disorder.

Repeated traumatization during childhood leads to symptoms that differ from those described for PTSD. Here are symptoms and behavioural characteristics in seven domains:

Attachment – “problems with relationship boundaries, lack of trust, social isolation, difficulty perceiving and responding to other’s emotional states, and lack of empathy”
Biology – “sensory-motor developmental dysfunction, sensory-integration difficulties, somatization, and increased medical problems”
Affect or emotional regulation – “poor affect regulation, difficulty identifying and expressing emotions and internal states, and difficulties communicating needs, wants, and wishes”
Dissociation – “amnesia, depersonalization, discrete states of consciousness with discrete memories, affect, and functioning, and impaired memory for state-based events”
Behavioural control – “problems with impulse control, aggression, pathological self-soothing, and sleep problems”
Cognition – “difficulty regulating attention, problems with a variety of “executive functions” such as planning, judgement, initiation, use of materials, and self-monitoring, difficulty processing new information, difficulty focusing and completing tasks, poor object constancy, problems with “cause-effect” thinking, and language developmental problems such as a gap between receptive and expressive communication abilities.”
Self-concept – “fragmented and disconnected autobiographical narrative, disturbed body image, low self-esteem, excessive shame, and negative internal working models of self”.

Seeking increased attachment to people, especially to care-givers who inflict pain, confuses love and pain and increases the likelihood of a captivity like that of betrayal bonding, (similar to Stockholm syndrome) and of disempowerment and lack of control. If the situation is perceived as life-threatening then traumatic stress responses will likely arise and C-PTSD more likely diagnosed in a situation of insecure attachment than PTSD.

References

  1.  Cook, A., et. al.,(2005) Complex Trauma in Children and Adolescents,Psychiatric Annals, 35:5, pp-398
  2.  Lewis Herman, Judith (1992). Trauma and Recovery. Basic Books.
  3. Cook, Alexandra; Blaustein, Margaret; Spinazzola, Joseph; et al., eds. (2003). Complex Trauma in Children and Adolescents: White Paper from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, Complex Trauma Task Force(PDF). National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Retrieved 2013-11-14 
  4. Cook, A.; Blaustein, M.; Spinazzola, J.; Van Der Kolk, B. (2005).“Complex trauma in children and adolescents”. Psychiatric Annals. 35 (5): 390–398. Retrieved 2008-03-29.
  5. Patrick Carnes (1997). The Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships. HCI. ISBN 978-1-55874-526-1. Retrieved 28 October 2012

 

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C-PTSD

woman-alone C-PTSD