Tag Archives: pain

This is tricky!


Life in DBT and Hepzibah land has been eventful… The challenges and opportunities to grow and develop continue to present themselves with sometimes alarming frequency and intensity!

DBT began to develop into a new chapter a couple of months ago. This was sparked by me receiving a proof of my interview for the sexual fantasies of English women book I did some months back. (See previous posts for the background to that particular event!) As I talked through the chapter with Penelope, my sessions have ventured more into trauma work. That is all fine. I signed up to this process and I will do whatever I need to do to come through the other side. But then some things happen that have the potential to really floor me…

In my sessions and with one particular friend the issue of my toe nails has become a hot topic. Random I know but a significantly painful one for me. This sounds completely irrational what I am about to say but it is currently my experience. My toe nails are a major reason why I have stopped going to church and stopped referring to myself as a Christian. Let me try and explain… (I’m more trying to explain to myself than anyone else…)

I have had a number of unpleasant toe nail and feet experience- details are irrelevant to this boog but they have left a difficult legacy for me. But throughout my 20 years of trying to follow Jesus, I have been haunted by the fear of being tortured for Him by having my toe nails ripped off. I’m sorry I’m just trying to be honest. Christian martyrdom in the 21st century is a fact. Christians all over the world are being killed and tortured purely because they love Jesus. In many accounts I’ve read of persecuting Christians finger and toe nails being ripped off seems to be a common form of torture. I’ve always lived with the fear that if ever I was being tortured by this method I would denounce Christ- and that has always been a devastating thing to me. That my faith was so shallow I would deny my Saviour. And a couple of years ago, I felt unable to live with this hypocrisy that I would deny Him. So I just stopped trying to convince myself that I loved Jesus and decided to be honest and I feel unable to call myself a Christian as i feel totally unworthy of His most beautiful name…

In my bid to try and address my body image issues etc I have begun to try and face the toe nail situation. Last week I let a good friend cut my toe nails. (I’ve only ever let another friend do this once before). I can’t cut them myself either. To my friends I’m happy to try and talk about this at another point. But last week I let a friend touch my nails. I was shaking and crying but I let her do it.

Today I had an accident at work. I dropped a video and DVD player directly onto my big toe from a height. I genuinely screamed in agony. I now think it is likely that my big toe needs lancing to alleviate the pressure under the nail. I can’t do it. It is just too much for me. So I am lying in bed drugged up with as many painkillers as I can, ice around it and elevated… The pain is rough but the fear of needing my nails to be touched is even worse…

I was with special friends when it happened but in that moment I was trying not to vomit from the shock and I just didn’t want to try and explain why this was such a big deal to me… It all seems so silly…

As I write this I wonder why I’m blogging about it. Sometimes I blog as a means of processing my thoughts. Sometimes I blog as homework. Sometimes I blog because I just really enjoy it. At this moment I blog as I really am feeling the need to be listened to. I’m not quite able to randomly text a friend and tell them about my toe nails- I know I should but I just can’t. My sister has seen my toe tonight and knows they need seeing to but she does not know my problems with my toe nails and I don’t want to tell her why so I’m feeling very alone and frightened. Gosh it sounds so weak doesn’t it!!!!

Last week I thought God reassured me about the toe nail thing. I felt He was saying that my ability to endure pain for Him was not about my strength of faith but about His strength of power. Tonight I’m not in pain because of Him, I’m in pain because I dropped two metal boxes, one after another, directly onto my big toe nail… But the challenge to me is the same. Can I trust His ability to see me through the night and to face tomorrow… I hope so.

Thanks for listening.


And so it starts…


Today was my first session with the facial equality charity, Changing Faces. I had my assessment in December and such a lot has happened to me since that time. In some ways as I travelled into London I was trying to remind myself why this seemed like a good idea! I’m always amazed at how easy it is to bury pain at times… I can switch my emotions off quite quickly when necessary and as I journeyed there, I knew I was very detached from myself.

I got the tube and for the first time I didn’t really think about it as such a big deal. I’ve only been on the tube 6 times, so for me to take it more within my stride, is really encouraging. Every time I do it, I feel slightly more empowered.

It was my first time of meeting my practitioner. For the purposes of this blog, her name is Maria. She is a counselling psychologist just finishing her PhD. She looked younger than me. She has a facial difference herself.

This is my third time in the head office and I could tolerate looking at all the pictures a bit easier. The reception area is full of these advertising campaigns. Normally I just look away and feel slightly queasy- today I could hold it together a bit more.


Fortuitously, I did not find Maria’s facial difference difficult to look at. So that was good. I felt she got the gist of me very quickly and she released me from all pressure to make improvements or get better. She kept encouraging me to take this process very slowly. I am grateful for that freedom.

The greatest gift Maria gave me today was to just ‘let me be’. I weeped, I was silent, I was wracked with shame… And she just let me be. She didn’t try and make it better, she didn’t pretend it wasn’t as awful as it is, she didn’t offer platitudes… She let me be.

I have blogged before about the pain of emptiness and loneliness I constantly battle with. Nothing to do with the number of people I know, but that awful isolation that comes from feeling misunderstood. That terror that comes upon you when you feel like no-one in the universe can understand just how awful this moment is. I know many of us feel this about other things in life we have experienced. Today I was able to get a momentary glimpse into this consequence of having facial difference.

Two things were significant for me. Firstly I have very clear memories of trauma related to my face. I can picture and articulate exact conversations, incidents and time lines. For other area of my life which have been equally tricky I can be very fuzzy about chronology and accuracy of events. Today I re- lived experiences with the clarity of a first hand account.

Secondly, I responded differently to myself. It doesn’t happen very often, but sometimes if I am very distressed I start pinching and scratching my face. Sometimes it is because I am so repulsed by my face, I want to scratch the skin off, sometimes it is because I want to bleed and let some of the pain out. I HATE my cheeks. They are fat and round (mainly induced by years of taking steroids- I can’t bear the mole like features… So sometimes I try and literally squeeze all the fat out. In the session I began attacking my face. I had to get it off me.

Maria led me in a safe space visualisation. I find visualisations very difficult as I can’t picture myself… But I went with it. As she led me through my safe space I realised I had begun to stroke my cheeks gently. They were very sore from where I had been hacking at them… But I began to caress and stroke them. I have never done that to myself ever. I stayed with it and tried to soothe my raw skin. It was a moment for me that I was able to let be.

I don’t know where these sessions will take me. I can’t imagine feeling different about my face. But 2 years ago I couldn’t imagine all the things I have been able to do since starting DBT. My goals are deceptively simple. I would love to not feel physically sick whenever I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror or in a photo. I would like to be able to hold eye contact with new people- especially men, without looking away. I would like to feel different about the way I look. I can’t be more specific than that at this point, as I’m still at the stage of, is this as good as it gets? I hope not.

Who knows, maybe I might cope with my face on a poster at some point?

Thanks for listening.



I did it!


A massive thank you for all the comments and support I received about my dentist dilemma. I have been aware that so many people struggle with going to the dentist- and sharing coping strategies was really great for me. Thank you.

I just wanted to let you all know- I managed to have my filling done- without sedation. It was not a pleasant experience but I did it. Barbara Streisand singing the sound track from Yentl on my iPhone certainly helped…

I feel very grateful that after 20 years I only needed one filling- which is now done. I plan to go for annual check ups if I can tolerate it. I liked having really clean teeth! I am trying to value my achievement.

Thanks for listening.