Tag Archives: Depression

Seeing Beyond the Void

As we go through life, each of us develops defence mechanisms that help dealth1W15UEW3 with a wide spectrum of stressful situations and to protect us from painful memories. Two clever tactics that I know very well are suppression and repression.

Suppression is something everyone does. It’s when we think about something, but then consciously squeeze it to the back of our mind. This doesn’t need to be in a negative way and can act as an aid to filter out one thought while we deal with something else.

Suppression and repression are very similar, although repression is a little trickier to identify because much of the avoidance takes place on a subconscious level as we deny the memory or emotion even exists. I’ve only just become aware of my own repression, which unravelled during a poignant moment in therapy last week.

When I became a victim of an attempted murder, which I wrote about here, I was extremely lucky to survive, but what I hadn’t realise until now, was a fundamental part of me died inside. While the experience was particularly traumatic, the history of my assailants past crimes, including murder, would only add to the horror and hinder any path to recovery.

I’ve always abhorred any kind of violence because abusiveness has been a prominent pattern in my life since early childhood. Each incident of physical, verbal, emotional, and even sexual abuse would slowly hamper a willingness to recover, while placing significant strain on my ability to bounce back. My traumatised brain soon interpreted life as dangerous territory and wise to be devoid of trust.

Trust is the necessary ingredient for all human interactions, from casual acquaintances to personal relationships. Losing the ability to trust means everything about life feels unsafe. Meeting new people or visiting unfamiliar places eventually becomes something of the past.

th43ZJN5J0The more vulnerable and withdrawn I became, the more I developed an unhealthy need to protect myself from any kind of attachment. My need for love and affection or to trust and be trusted, had sunk beneath years of repression and there was no awareness of just how cold and distant I had become.

I painfully recall the pleas of significant people to consider their feelings and wishes, even if I had none of my own. It felt like they were on the attack, rather than trying to save me from an emotional black hole. As time progressed, the empty space became so vast, it was impossible to see beyond the void.

The dissociation from reality eventually made me inaccessible to those who had spent years trying to hold on to the person they once knew. The consistent pleas meant nothing and I slowly cut everyone meaningful from my life. The diagnosis of Depression, PTSD and Agoraphobia were my new companions in life, but the Disorders also became my shield against any expectations to change.

In the last fifteen years, venturing beyond a two-mile radius of home hasn’t been on the agenda and there are only six places I can visit, anxiety free. While I do believe in my ability to overcome these phobias, I’ve made little effort to push the boundaries. In all this time, I cannot recall boredom or loneliness ever featuring within my comfortable agoraphobic cocoon.

For reasons that may always remain a complete mystery, I once believed this dysfunction lifestyle was not only justified, but also acceptable. I had repressed my emotions to such a depth that I forgot they even existed.

When I learned of my friend, Anne’s, death recently, via the extraordinary coincidental telephone call, my mind became flooded with memories of a time when I viewed life very differently. Over the course of the last couple of weeks, these new realisations are like awakening from a fifteen-year coma to find that I’m living an unacceptable reclusive lifestyle.

There were a number of stark moments in therapy last week, as I recalled the pain caused to othersthAQ8EK2XX and the injustice I dealt to my own potential. Repressing the fundamental emotions necessary to human existence only blocked the flow of healing and tainted my perception of trust.

Fifteen years of extreme isolation is a very long time and I’m careful not to get ahead of myself. I’m excited, fearful, and fragile, all at the same time. It’s impossible to find a way back to something familiar, any previous point of existence no longer exists. The unknown feels a scary place to be and the challenges ahead won’t be easy, but somehow I need to find the courage to move forward.

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Memories of Violent Crime & the Feelings.

I don’t usually remember the anniversary of this occasion, but I was supping morning coffee when something on the radio reminded me of today’s date. The kitchen clock eerily read, July 12th 9.20am, the exact same date, and time when the horror began, twenty-four years ago. That may seem a heck of a long time, but in terms of recovering from this kind of crime/trauma, it is merely a blink of an eye.

I’ve already written about this attempted murder experience, so I’ll not go into details here. I posted about the actual incident in, “My Attacker.” If violence and blood ‘triggers’ you, it might not be the best post to read.

The location was rural and as I crashed head first through my assailants bedroom window, the sound of breaking glass was like a bomb going off and people came running from the next street, only to find a blood soaked body lying motionless beneath a 20ft drop. The first neighbour on scene happened to be a nurse.

It was raining heavily that morning and as she tried to keep me conscious, the raindrops were splashing the side of my face and running through my hair. Don’t ask me why I asked the most bizarre question, “Excuse me, but do you have an umbrella?” I’ve always been partial to dissociating from the emotional pain, but the flippancy was a sign of the years to come.

A local police officer arrived seconds later and recorded the time as 9.30am. I couldn’t feel any part of my body and neither could I move. My assailant crouched over my head and for a moment, I thought he might just finish what he started.

This morning, as I watched the second hand slowly tick from 9.20 to 9.30, I recalled the details of those life-changing minutes. Despite undergoing specialist therapy for PTSD and months of sessions over the years, I’ve never been able to connect with the emotions, but today was different.

This experience just happens to coincide with yesterday’s post about our resistance to what hurts the most. In the last 10mths, Paul has listened to my story cover to cover. We encompassed everything that I originally set out to address, but I wasn’t expecting this foreboding sense of emptiness and uncertainty. What now?

I read somewhere that this is where some of the most important work takes place in therapy, when we stand alone with only the emotion. The Therapists already know the details, now it’s time to share the raw feelings. I wish we could just skip this part of the healing process.

Paul is the best Therapist I’ve ever met and if I can get through this with anyone, I can do it with him, but time is not on our side. This is only a Two-year therapy programme and I am already half way through.

There is no room for jostling around with ‘resistance’, but the prospect of actually experiencing those long-denied emotions is not only frightening, it feels like one of the most unnatural things to do.

Yes, July 12th is a day that usually goes unnoticed, but the tears were surprisingly different this year. Maybe this date will go down in history, not as something tragic, but as a new beginning.

How do you Cope with Someone’s Suicide Ideation

This might be the one of the worst subjects for me to open up for discussion and some might view my opinions as a little controversial or maybe even cruel and unsympathetic. I would be interested to hear what other people think, even if it is to help me see the error of my ways.

There were times in the past when I was just as suicidal as the next person who suffers from a mental health condition. I imagine most of us have experienced this kind of dark ideation. I do get that.

I seldom say that I feel suicidal, although I may well have used that terminology as a means of expressing the sheer hopelessness of depression.

I remember once admitting to a Psychiatrist that I was a suicide risk, but my intentions were purely to seek the appropriate help I needed at that time.

I understand and admire all the reasons why someone would be brave enough to admit their suicide ideation.

What doesn’t sit well with me is when a person chooses to elaborate on the ins and outs of their half-hearted attempts at suicide without any apparent purpose to their testimony, other than to express how bad they’re feeling.

Maybe I should feel more sympathy, but I just can’t identify with this need.

We are all partial to various degrees of self-pity but there are other ways to indulge, rather than talk for an hour about an insipid set of events, which supposedly portray a serious suicide risk.

I don’t want to listen to stories about climbing to the top of a tall building, only to remember that vertigo stands in the way of jumping off the edge.

I would rather not know about someone buying two bags of heroin to swallow with the very last £20 state benefit money, even though she is currently on a medication that cancels out the effects of the drug.

While I do know how it feels to sit at home isolated and unable to answer the phone, I do question why anyone would then take a call from a relative, just as she begins to feel ill from taking an apparent overdose.

“Sorry, auntie, I can’t talk because I am just about to die,” is hardly the voice of someone wishing suicide.

I have watched people in seizure and as far as I am aware, they usually experience amnesia before and after the event. I am sceptical if someone describes a convulsion in detail.

When I have listened to someone’s wishy-washy endeavours to die for an hour, my patience runs out.

I am not a mental health worker. I have no responsibility for anyone who is on a ‘woe is me’ trip and neither do I need to take it seriously… I just wonder if I should, morally.

Maybe I should have more empathy. Maybe I should feel more concerned for someone’s state of mind and safety. Maybe I should, but I don’t. The only emotion I feel is anger, which feels confusing to someone who usually possesses bundles of compassion.

I tried last night to think about any experiences from the past that might contribute to my lack of empathy for this kind of scenario. I don’t know if this is it, but I had a flashback to my mother’s depression.

Mum was a very moody and temperamental character and we all know how everyone in close vicinity suffered the brunt. I remember her speeches of martyrdom and even though dad provided a comfortable life, she was always having such a terrible time. Her suicidal depression was my fault.

They say psychotherapy unlocks memories buried deep within our subconscious and perhaps this is the root of my agitation. Nevertheless, the realisation does not help me feel any more compassion.

I would love to know how you deal with other people’s suicide ideation.