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Topics - bluepalm

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For over a year now, my local chemist has dispensed a particular generic brand of Fluoxetine antidepressant when I filled my GP's prescription. When originally asked if I would accept a generic brand  of fluoxetine, I did not hesitate, assuming that the active ingredient would be identical to that in the original brand, Prozac. I tolerated this particular generic brand well and over some weeks I experienced a growing sense of emotional stability and ceased the constant crying, suicidal ideation, bursts of anger, acute startle reflexes, rumination and other symptoms of deep depression which had overtaken me, yet again, when  I decided, with the chemist's advice to help me, to slowly cease taking my previous anti-depressants (Lexapro) altogether - thinking I was well enough to manage without. 

What I learnt from that experience is that I cannot risk being without the help of antidepressants because, despite living a secure and undemanding retirement life, physically and emotionally removed from my abusers, without the help of antidepressants my body reverts to the state in which i lived for most of my life - struggling with deep depression. The involuntariness of the constant crying amazes me - the grief feels overwhelming, paralysing and absolutely out of my control.

Two weeks ago I was unexpectedly dispensed another generic brand of fluoxetine. The chemist said my previous generic brand of fluoxetine had become unavailable in Australia. I thought nothing of it and assumed the change would be seamless.

How wrong I was. Within a few days I felt my mood lowering dangerously as my mind became lost in rumination, suicidal feelings and despair and the tears started to flow ceaselessly. I returned to my chemist and explained I was feeling nausea and had no appetite and felt my mood lowering. The chemist advised taking ginger for the nausea. Within two more days I was becoming frightened of my fixation on thoughts of self-destruction and went back to the chemist and explained I felt the drug was not working and I was becoming in danger. The chemist said my original brand was still not available and did I want to try another generic brand or persist with the current one. I decided to persist but made an appointment with my GP to ask for his help. However, I returned to the chemist the very next day frightened, unable to stop crying, and pleaded with them to help me. It turned out that they had just been restocked with my original generic brand  - apparently the packaging was being redesigned - so they dispensed those and I have now taken nine days of my original generic brand.

Two days ago, in the middle of the day, I suddenly became aware that I'd crossed a threshold, that I'd surfaced, that I had regained my footing in the present day world and could pay more attention to 'now' without being dragged back into recriminations and ruminations and unending grief. I'm still not back to where I was three weeks ago but I feel confident that I'm getting better.

I'm sharing this experience because I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who has had a similar experience when changing between generic brands of fluoxetine or any other antidepressants. I've lost confidence in generic brands now and will talk to the my GP tomorrow about whether it would be better to take the original brand, Prozac, assuming that it is reliably available in this country.
Thank you for reading.

I hesitate to write this because there are so many people suffering terribly at the moment, but I feel so surprised at my body's paradoxical reaction to being 'locked down' in the midst of a pandemic that I want to record my reaction to see if any others who are affected by CPTSD feel similarly.

I am an elderly woman who lives alone (with two dogs). I will shortly turn 72 years old, have a recent history of illness from flu and pneumonia, and I'm probably considered high risk for a severe illness if I catch this contagion. I live in a rural location, physically remote from any family or long-term friends, with limited access to hospital facilities. If I become ill, it is likely I will need to manage it myself, alone at home, and I could well die alone at home. In recognition of this I have now arranged for the RSPCA to rescue and re-home my dogs if I become critically ill, because I have no-one else to help me do that.

Nevertheless, I feel safer and more relaxed than I ever have before. I feel protected in a way I have never felt before. After an initial few nights of nightmares and waking screaming, my sleep is now restful. My dreams are warm and sensuous in a way I've never previously experienced during my entire life. I feel cocooned in a way I've never felt before. As far as I am concerned, I wish this state of 'lock-down' would continue forever until I die and am safely off this earth.

The essence of the change is that I am protected from other people in a way I've never been before. No-one will come to my front door and expect to come inside. I no longer need to wish I could build a brick wall across my front door to keep people away. I do not need to engage in any activities with people (other than virtual ones). I feel 'the law is on my side' in keeping other people away from me, even when I am out walking my dogs. In short, I no longer need to struggle with my raw vulnerability, my continuing inability to set boundaries to keep people from hurting me.

My body's reaction feels amazing to me. My sense of safety and relaxation amazes me. It is a deep bodily 'letting go' of vigilance at a time when the whole world is in fact being told to be vigilant against Covid-19. For me, this situation is the first time I can genuinely relax what has been an ever-present state of extreme vigilance, not against a virus, but against the pain other people inflict on me.

And it is throwing into sharp relief how 'under siege', how profoundly threatened, how deeply dangerous I have experienced the world and other people to be throughout my life, including and most importantly my immediate family. It is throwing into sharp relief how I've carried a deeply wounded body, mind and soul through the years.

In a small way, I feel my body's reaction to feeling protected from other people in the middle of a global pandemic, the fact that my body reacts to protection from people more than it worries about dying from a virus, is yet more evidence (as if more were needed) of how important it is to protect children from the injuries caused by abandonment, abuse, neglect and other adverse experiences. And how important it is to provide access to effective treatments for those who've suffered relational trauma. I do hope this mass experience of trauma will accelerate understanding of these needs.

And for me, it's as if I've been given a small glimpse of what life must feel like for people who've experienced bonding, security, attachment, love, touching, kindness and warm human connection.

I'm grateful for this unexpected blessing from a tragedy.

Successes, Progress? / Cutting my tormentors down to size
« on: February 21, 2020, 09:09:06 PM »
I dreamt last night that I was still with my former husband and suddenly realised very clearly that the marriage must end and I accomplished that almost immediately ; in that I asked him to go and he went out the front door and, after turning once to threaten to punch me in the face,  he walked away. In real life, nearly 40 years ago, it had taken me many many months of painful turmoil to convince my husband that our marriage must end (a marriage in which my husband said he felt 'complacently happy') and there were many moments when I felt I would not survive the process. Certainly I knew that I could not go on living if I had to continue living with my husband.

Waking from this dream this morning, I have felt a new freedom and realised how I have inflated my tormentors in my mind for so many years.

Recently I have been talking with my therapist about how the pattern of abandonment, neglect and abuse that I experienced with my parents was carried on through my marriage and then carried on to my life with my adult sons (although not with my sons during their childhood, thank goodness). It has been a long and reluctant process for me to acknowledge that my adult sons display characteristics and  behaviour towards me that mirrors that of my husband and my parents.

It is painful to acknowledge that my adult children distress me, trigger me, in ways that infiltrate every day of my life. This is not how life should be and it's hard not to feel ashamed of my urge to run away from them to escape the threat. After all, they are still my babies, my life has revolved around caring them and I know that they have limited control over how they are as people, given that we are all creatures of our DNA inheritance through the ages.

This dream has somehow allowed me to realise how I have inflated my husband and my adult sons in my mind so they have the size and presence of my huge parents, looming over me, threatening and frightening me when I was an absolutely helpless infant and tiny child. 

Something about my ability to get my husband to walk out the front door in my dream has allowed me to realise that I can cut these people 'down to size',  I can release the sense of looming threat and shame that I carry inside when I think of them. It's a holdover from the trauma of my infancy.

I feel this freedom to see  them at a 'normal' size will be good for our relationships as well as for my peace of mind.

However, because I'm not sure if this sense of freedom will last, although I dearly hope so, I wanted to record my realisation here on OOTS to see if that will help me hold onto it.

And also to ask if anyone else has had a realisation that their tormentors in adulthood loom in their mind with the same enormously inflated size as the tormentors of their childhood.

Poetry & Creative Writing / The impulse to cling
« on: January 15, 2020, 12:33:10 AM »

The impulse to cling

I was never allowed to cling
to anyone.
Not to mother or father
or husband,
and now not to children either.

The impulse to cling is deep,
fundamental, primitive,
and, if constantly denied,
seems to persist forever, 
leaving me achingly bereft.

Poetry & Creative Writing / Hunger denied
« on: November 25, 2019, 12:09:51 AM »
Working with my therapist this past week reminded me of a little poem I wrote years ago that encapsulates a central cause of the suffering that continues to trouble me on a daily basis more than 70 years later....

Hansel and Gretel ate the house.
Nibbled at it like a mouse.
I shut my mouth and hunger denied.
To save my mother, my soul, it died.


I'm struggling with shame and guilt today, berating myself yet again for terrible choices I made that have led to so much pain; principally getting caught in a dreadful marriage straight from a dreadful childhood. But pitted against my shame and guilt today is a new understanding about developmental arrests that I'm getting from reading Pete Walker's wonderful book 'Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving'. His writing is giving me a stronger sense of what I was 'up against' in trying to protect myself from predators all those years ago. I knew even then that I was terribly poorly equipped to make good life decisions, but I can see now that it was not through my own failures that I was left so poorly equipped. I had been deprived of what a baby girl needs in order to learn how to protect herself in this world. 

I wrote the following poem when I first entered therapy as a young woman, expressing how it felt then to be trying to manage my life while constantly lost in self-doubt, shame and fear.

Flitting shade-like, hugging the walls

Flitting shade-like,
hugging the walls
along the corridors of my mind
they come quite silently,
my devils,
and silently they lay me waste.

Doubts come confidently,
arrogant in their sureness,
aware of the multitudes
that creep persistently
behind them.

Hot shame pants quietly,
sure of its mark,
certain that its touch
will scorch, that its heat
will burn holes in
my wholeness.

Fear sneaks and springs
and darts through any crack,
cutting through freshly grown
roots, severing the tender tendrils
of my being, throwing the earth
in my eyes.

And as defence I seem to have
so little.
My forces stand unsteadily beside me,
unformed as yet into coherent cohorts,
unable to spring as one at my command.
They engage in swift uncoordinated forays,
retreating for rest at
too soon intervals,
leaving me vulnerable, afraid, teetering.


------Trigger Warning - thoughts of suicide------

This morning I was reading articles discussing 'chronic' suicidality, and what 'chronic' conveyed and how best to describe constant thoughts and/or multiple attempts at suicide.

What struck me was how lucky someone could be, to be in such a safe place that they could consider intellectually whether the use of the word 'chronic' was helpful or harmful. I understand the helpfulness of this consideration. I appreciate the thought that goes into considering 'tips' to deal with such thoughts. And I feel so lucky that there is a sense of calm detachment now for me in my reading these interesting articles this morning.

The contrast between my current calm detachment this morning and what I remember as being the sticky, molasses-like turmoil of being caught in such feelings is sharp. I have been caught in these feelings in recent months, they hover always on the edge of my life, I can probably never fully escape them. And they have dominated my mind too often to count during my life.

I remembered a poem I wrote in the past about being so caught in a life lived 'skirting death' where I linked this to its cause - the void inside me that was caused by the hostile abuse and neglect I experienced from those into whose care I was born.

Being able to remember this and now know that my thoughts were a natural result of my circumstances - and that my poem (written well before the concept of CPTSD was formulated) was an accurate depiction of this - is one of the many ways in which having the framework of complex PTSD to understand my lived experience helps me.

It is impossible

It is impossible to pin pain down in words.
Words cannot stretch around
The aching, irrevocable sense of loss
that comes from a life lived
skirting death,
flirting with death,
taking death to heart
as the ultimate comfort.

It is impossible to fill words
with the feel of fear.
Thin words can never  encompass
the suffocating endless blackness
that comes when there is no human comfort to be had.
Long moments lost in panic,
endless moments spent running,
frantic for relief.


Poetry & Creative Writing / Why was I not loved and kissed?
« on: September 20, 2019, 10:44:42 AM »
This poem was written during a recent rough patch upon my waking from a dream of being kissed that led me to fall back on the question that has haunted me all my life: why was I not loved?

It is really hard, even as an adult, not to feel it's all my fault. Even though I now know, intellectually anyway, that the reason lies in the personality or developmental disorders affecting my parents and my husband, not in some inherent defects in me, it's really hard not to fall back on blaming and shaming myself as I did, unquestioningly and constantly, as a child.

Why was I not loved and kissed?

How do I express the anguish
of a lifetime lived
without experiencing
a genuine
loving kiss
from my parents
or my husband?

Two quick kisses
in a dream
feel intensely wonderful.
But it's only a dream.
Only my sleeping mind
giving me an illusion
of being loved.

How to explain this?

It is hard not to feel
I stand on this earth
untouchably ugly, unlovable,
deformed, repellent,
isolated by the hostility and fear
that my very existence seems to generate
in those who are supposed to love me. 

Recently I saw an artwork referencing abusive relationships that contained these words inscribed in a heart: "I love that you're so open and vulnerable with me. Makes me feel like I'm winning without trying".

This hit home. I have been open and vulnerable with everyone who has abused me in my life.

Looking back I can see how those people took advantage of my openness and vulnerability and exploited these to damage and betray me. And I can see that at the time, or even now for some who are still alive, they may feel they are 'winning', they may feel gladly triumphant in their ability to have 'got away with' damaging my life and not being confronted or held to account for the damage they wrought. 

However, I have come to the conclusion over the years that engaging in vengeance or confrontation or otherwise trying to 'get my own back' against these triumphant abusers would result in my acting against my sense of how I should behave and still retain a sense of myself as being a decent human being.

It actually doesn't hurt me that they feel they 'won', when living as an open or vulnerable person, being kind to people, feels 'right' to me. It feels healthy and decent and gives me a sense of calmness. Feeling I'm behaving as well as I can is more important to my inner sense of peace and dignity than is any knowledge that I've 'got my own back' at those who've harmed me.

But I can remember when, as a young woman with responsibility for two small children, having recently escaped an abusive marriage and with my entire FOO shunning me and opposing my escape, I said to myself 'living well is the best revenge' and it felt so hollow, so tiny, so weak when lined up against my isolation and the damage that had been done to my life. 

I guess what I am saying now is that I'm glad I hung onto that hollow comfort because over the years, as I've held steady on a course of understanding what happened to me and living my life well, not on taking revenge against my abusers, that comfort has grown stronger and my life has become so much richer in every way than my abusers' lives have been. 

And now almost all those abusive relationships have ended, by death or by my putting emotional and physical distance between me and those people over the years. 

I wish I could have told that young woman, enmeshed in her struggles almost 40 years ago, that she would eventually be vindicated in hanging onto her 'hollow' comfort.

And although my every day is still filled with struggles about issues that came from all that trauma, I can say now, with confidence, that 'living well', through focusing on my own values, my own inner work, accepting the slow and uncertain nature of recovery but hanging in there anyway, taking responsibility for my own behaviour first and foremost, despite provocation from abusive others, living a responsible life; all of that really feels to me to be the best revenge.

Poetry & Creative Writing / Sorrow
« on: September 15, 2019, 02:41:31 AM »
Many years ago I wrote this poem about sorrow; about how I carried my sadness around with me.

Looking back, I feel I've carried this burden in front of my body all my life and certain events can stop me in my tracks as I come up against other peoples' expectations of how I can or should behave.

I feel it most when people ask me to participate in 'group fun', just fooling around, acting the fool, relaxing into playing group games. When faced with these expectations, I feel myself stop, I feel my body 'freeze-up', I feel my face fall involuntarily into a mask of sorrow, my cheeks lengthen, my mouth sags and I feel exquisitely vulnerable. It's a horrible, lonely feeling that is impossible to explain in the moment.

I've never learnt how to 'play' with other people. I've not learnt how to 'have fun'. Life has been too hard, too isolated, too urgent, too sad. Thoughts of death have been too present. I've not known normal family life or normal social life. And I just can't do it.

I sang for years with a very professional choir, where the very formality and seriousness of the choir protected me from this kind of expectation. It was a truly wonderful experience. However, I lost it when I moved to live in another part of my country. And now I've recently withdrawn from trying to sing with a local community choir in my new location because these expectations of group participation in fooling around and doing skits were just too much for me; which, of course, has only increased my sorrow.

It's yet another way that complex trauma limits my experience of life.


Spongy, black,
and surprisingly easy to hold,
is this ball of sorrow
I clasp in front of me.

Frighteningly, it seems to me
that it grows
and I wonder that
people approaching me
donít bump into it,
and exclaim at my burden.


Symptoms - Other / Feeling entitled to breathe
« on: September 11, 2019, 12:32:17 PM »
In the past few weeks, as I've recovered my equilibrium after a rough patch, I have realised something strange and I wonder if others have experienced this too.

As part of slowing down and being kinder to myself, I've found myself at times just stopping moving and sitting down to quietly breathe. Nothing else. Just breathing. And it has felt strangely new to me to do this - despite the fact that for some years now, from therapy and reading, I've understood the power of breathing and meditation to calm and centre myself. The strange part is that I now feel 'entitled to breathe' in a way I've not felt before. I feel it's my breath I'm breathing, it feels warm and calm and it fills me up and it's mine.

This is a new thought and a new feeling and it's made me realise that for most of my life I've not felt fully entitled to breathe. At some fundamental level, I have felt  estranged from the right to breathe.

As a very young child, I knew from the way my parents treated me that I had no right to be alive. I knew that, as a girl, it was a mistake that I was alive. I felt guilty for being alive, for taking up space on this earth. The way I thought about it then was that 'I am breathing air that a boy should be breathing'.

In addition to this early sense of guilt about breathing, in my childhood home I was constantly on 'high alert', basically holding my breath waiting for anger or punishment to fall on me. I repeated that pattern with the man who became my husband - silent, observant, barely daring to breathe, apologising for my existence, which seemed to cause him so much anger.

It amazes me to look back and realise that, at a fundamental level in my being, and for over 70 years of my life. I've not really felt entitled to breathe.

I feel tonight grateful that my involvement with this OOTS community has helped me understand that I was injured by those closest to me; that my sense that I had no right to be alive, no right to be breathing air, that I was stealing air that a boy should be breathing, was the result of an injury done to me, not something inherent in me.

It feels a relief to have had this realisation. I wonder if others have also experienced this fundamental sense of guilt about being alive and breathing air.

Checking Out / Leaving, for a while at least
« on: June 25, 2019, 11:56:46 PM »
I'm recording this here in case it's of help to others. I've been so grateful for the support I've experienced on this forum but, for reasons I can't quite understand, something seems to have triggered me and I've lost the sense that this OOTS is a place of refuge for me at the moment. So I'm going to leave for a while. I can't imagine this matters to anyone (I state that as a fact - how my mind works to devalue myself!) but I see other people explain their absences so, given I've been posting poems in particular, I felt it may be both courteous and useful to record this.

Maybe it's because I feel I've been too open and I'm now too exposed. Maybe it was reading a couple of posts (having nothing to do with me at all) filled with anger. (I find I cannot read Out of the Fog at all because there is so much open anger there.)

Maybe it's because I feel I engaged with people too closely and now I don't know if they are real people or not. I've not posted anything on the internet before posting on this forum and my trust in other people is very low. This is in no way a criticism of those who've responded to me. I've been very grateful for the support and validation I've received and I'm puzzled right now as to why I've lost my trust.

This may be useful for others to hear. There may be others who struggle as I am at present with trusting any response from the world. I find people generally to be very menacing, very frightening. Just as I'm afraid to turn on the TV because I don't know what violence or anger or misery I'll be exposed to if I do.

In any event, I can feel I'm struggling to hold onto myself at the moment and feel I need to retreat to the natural world, to my books and my music, and avoid people, even people in the virtual world.

Please understand this is in my mind, due to my personal struggles right now, not a criticism of OOTS, which I continue to think is a hugely valuable resource, which I have recommended to my GP and my therapist and others similarly placed.

I hope I will return when I regain some equilibrium.

Poetry & Creative Writing / Life seems always to be so violent
« on: June 19, 2019, 11:09:07 PM »
A kind and perceptive response by RiverRabbit to another poem of mine prompted me to remember this poem, which I wrote in my early thirties, when I was acutely aware that I had been, and continued to be, under assault every day of my life and that I needed to escape a toxic marriage if I was to go on living. At that time I had no understanding of trauma or its effects. I only knew I was in a fight for my life with those closest to me who I felt kept pushing me closer and closer to self-destruction. I use 'closest to me' in the sense of physical proximity only. In reality, I was trapped with predators.

Life seems always to be so violent

Life seems always to be so violent.
A continuous battle that surges
from one theatre to another.
Now bombardment, now sniping,
now chaos, now flight.
It is wearying, so wearying.
Even the bones seem ground
about with the dust of battle,
the stench of death
hovering at the edge of the nostrils

Poetry & Creative Writing / Finding my centre
« on: June 14, 2019, 04:34:01 AM »
I wrote this poem this morning under an impulse to mark a new stage in my healing; a new sense of being grounded and centred.

'Uluru' is a beautiful, large red sandstone rock formation in central Australia that is sacred to the local Indigenous people.

Finding my centre

There has been no Uluru
inside me to ground me.
There has been nothing but
doubt and confusion.

There has been a readiness
always to disparage myself.
A readiness to erase
my existence and achievements.

But now, towards the end of this long journey
I'm daring to sense my centre.
All that doubt and confusion has led
to something solid and beautiful.

(See how my fingers hesitated
to type 'beautiful' - is this too much,
too bold, too outrageous a word
to apply to me?)

I stand on top of my own rock now,
having climbed from that
black hellish nightmare
almost always isolated and alone.

My rock is built on my courage
in the face of an empty universe.

I recently discussed with my therapist the danger I've put myself in with men through being silent and compliant until the abuse and exploitation become unbearable, whereupon, with controlled anger, I become wonderfully articulate in my defence and in calmly and carefully ending a relationship.

I explained I have always assumed that my articulateness, my thoughtfulness, my ability to express myself, if displayed earlier with a man, would repel him, would make any relationship impossible. And, I can see now, inevitably, my experience has been of men who are too weak to hear a woman speak out. They are the ones who have preyed on me.  And so I have literally been told, in an angry voice, to 'be silent', not to participate in social conversation, to allow the man I'm with to totally dominate the conversation. When I was a young child, my father told me that 'nothing that comes out of the mouth of a woman is worth a man listening to'. This fear of speaking out to a man, on top of my instinct to freeze in the face of danger, has left me woefully vulnerable.

My therapist is suggesting that I should try expressing myself well from the start and see what happens. She is telling me there are gentlemen who can hear a woman speak. This morning, wondering about the origins of this pattern of behaviour, I not only remembered my experiences and my father's cruel words, I also thought of a poem I wrote some years ago, when the admonitions of my parents, designed to silence me, came to mind. I have no memories of having any articulate, two-way, sustained, conversations about anything with either of my parents, ever. I was a silenced child.


Be quiet

Stop talking

Donít answer back

Donít speak while weíre eating

Children are to be seen and not heard!

Be quiet

Sit still child

Go to your room

Stop being so disruptive

How dare you even think such a thing!

Be quiet

Go away

Go to sleep now

Stop asking me that all the time

Donít interrupt me when Iím speaking!

Be quiet

No you canít

Donít disturb me

Youíre irritating me again

Stop bothering me all the time!

Be quiet

Off you go

Just go away

Stop saying that to me

I donít want to hear you anymore!

And yet I still wonder why I stay silent.

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