8.29.2015

Something Inside You Needs Healing, Not Killing

To be perfectly frank I wasn't going to write any of this.  I like a certain degree of privacy despite owning a public blog (which I let sit vacant for months at a time for just that reason--I have nothing I want to share) and I'm not even sure why I am going to talk about it.  It's not because I enjoy it.  Maybe it's cathartic, and even though I do like privacy I also like being authentic, and writing authentically.  I will take the fact that I'm open to writing this as a good sign for my health, because I've been especially withdrawn lately.



Life with PTSD

I will start with a short recap.  I have always known I've had PTSD, but I've never done anything about it except cope on my own.  Coping on your own with severe PTSD is kind of like running away, your entire adult life, from a big terrifying monster.  If you just turn your back and ignore it, and pretend things are cool on the surface while inwardly panicking, you can run pretty far.  I ran all the way to Sweden for a year and found my way back.  Years before that, I ran all the way from Tennessee to Utah.  I ran from job to job and relationship to "relationship", sometimes cutting it way too close...that monster almost got to me.

And then you decide to actually do something about the monster, which to continue painting the picture, looks something like finding a salvaged weapon on the ground and turning around to finally face it.  Really, for me, choosing to get therapy and deal with this creature was like any other "hard" choice.  It didn't feel like a choice. I couldn't keep running.  I was tired.  It didn't seem like an option.  I credit this to finding a spot where I fit, at work, and not wanting to leave that place.  I had something I wanted to turn around and defend from the tornado-wreaking-havoc monster, so I turned around and defended.  It's not like therapy makes these things go away gently.  You still have to fight it, but now you're actually standing there with like, a moldy old baseball bat or some other level one tutorial bullshit weapon, and the creature knows you're ready for a fight, so it comes at you even more enthusiastically.



EMDR Therapy

For anyone wondering, the type of therapy I started is EMDR, which sounds like a lot of witchy woo-woo to me, but if it's nothing else it's effective.  Too effective, maybe, because after just three or four sessions I was literally a broken apart mess.  We're talking making blanket forts Vietnam level of hyper-vigilant.  I won't go into the bad spots I found myself in, but there were plenty of them, and shit, I can only take so much.  Cue suicide.

I won't go over specifics, or my thoughts and feelings on suicide in general--that's a whole other rant--but at least for me, it was kind of like that moment you know you're going to lose a boss fight so you just put down the controller or maybe ragequit the game.  I was tired of fighting and not only in that time, was I a shell of myself, but I could see very clearly just how damaged I was as a whole.  That may sound cynical but it's true. It's startling for someone with a literal fortress of walls around even themselves to see the truth about how fragile and vulnerable they are.  I couldn't stand it.

I also felt like I was a burden to my loved ones.  I felt that I couldn't do anything right.  I wasn't able to do my job, I wasn't able to even have a conversation half the time.  If I wasn't being angry and volatile then I was crying or dissociated to the point of being a vegetable.  Who needs something like that around?  There were two distinct attempts I made, and again I won't go into details but I can say that somewhere in the rush of adrenaline saying GO AHEAD DO IT THIS IS A GOOD CHOICE, when I had nothing rational left, Richard Parker came out.



All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in strange, sometimes inexplicable ways. This madness can be saving; it is part and parcel of the ability to adapt. Without it, no species would survive."

— Life of Pi, Yann Martell




Suicide

That 'madness' is not only a state of being I'm more comfortable with than any other, but it's pretty much the basis of what drives post-traumatic stress.  The literal animal brain is in charge far more than it should be.  Anyway, the point is, where I had no rationality or emotional empathy for myself, and definitely no will to live and no hope, I still had that animal with thousands of years of evolutionary priming, wanting to survive--not to hear a charming baby's laugh or see blooms on trees or whatever bullshit it is your big smart human brain later recalls--it just wanted to survive, nothing more.

And usually that "just surviving" is a crippling thorn in my side, but at that point, it did save my life.  I told people that I cared about what I had planned to do.  Both times.  Naturally they protested and intervened.  My reaction to this was strange; amid all the guilt and disappointment I felt for being such a burden and such a worry, I was angry.  I don't really know why, it's probably another 'inexplicable madness', but I think that I just didn't want to worry them more.

I had already figured out in my head that people would miss me, most of them briefly, and then move on.  In my mind, I had strong, amazing friends in my life and they would all be okay.  What startled me was the adamance with which they argued; no, they would not be okay.  I may be a screeching tiger sometimes, but I still have exceptional emotional intelligence and I take pride in spotting sincerity in others.  They were really not okay with what I had planned to do.  Not at all.

This prompted me to take a step back and hit pause on the 'world is better off without you' mixtape I'd been putting together.  I wrote this post about it, but to summarize the reaction it had, my loved ones have convinced me that they at the very least need me, and I do feel an obligation to them.  I would never want to hurt any of them, and they made it clear that my death would be extremely hurtful.  So, here I am, thanks to them, and that instinct I had, to speak up.

Forward

I have no idea what that means.  I talked to my therapist (after brushing her off for two weeks to run around and desperately try to off myself) and she believes (and I know) that the overpowering urge to die, all the dissociation, nightmares, heightened awareness, panic attacks, are not just the effects of bringing trauma to the surface, but that I actually have repressed memories.  Again, it's always something I've kind of known about myself, but I was running from that monster so long I never actually thought I would have to deal with them.  And I guess my scumbag brain would rather I jump off a building than deal with them.

I recently saw this note from a therapist to a suicidal person, and this part really, really spoke to me: 

Do not trust your suicidal thoughts.  
They are not rational.
They are a symptom, a sign, a cry from inside.
Something inside you needs healing.
Healing, not killing.

I don't know what healed means.  I don't know how to envision myself not like this--I can't even imagine a life where I'm not damaged or traumatized in so, so many ways.  I can limp around in life and make a pretty good go of it and that's all I've ever known.  So to me, 'healed' still looks like a nice safe limp and I don't have any strong feelings about that one way or the other.  Any time I've considered quitting therapy I immediately counter myself--it's too late to start over.  Some things you just don't turn around from, and this is one of them.  It's one of those things where you want to walk back home but you're too exhausted, so you just keep going ahead.  Again, not a choice, at least not one I feel in control of making.

I have guilt for worrying people, and I have guilt for not being better.  I wish I had some kind of groundbreaking advice for others who are contemplating suicide, or people whose loved ones have taken that route, but I don't.  All I can say is, I've been there and I wouldn't wish that place on anyone.  You don't go because you want to.  And it has nothing to do with other people--nobody contemplates that idea based on the people around them.  It's an internal thing, unfortunately, so not something that a loved one can fix or take away.

I guess that's all I can really say on the matter.

6 comments :

  1. Hang in there. It gets better. Not all at once, but it does.

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  2. Wow, I'm in tears reading this post. You wrote this so beautifully, honestly, and explicitly. You're an exceptional writer. I've so been right there too. I had a close friend go through this same type of therapy and she was a total mess from everything it brought up. On the up side, she got through it and, now around 8 years later, she's a different person. She's still her, of course, but she is "healed" for the most part. It's truly a beautiful thing to see. I'm sincerely sorry for the pain you're in. Thank-you for this compelling post.

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    1. thank you for this sweet comment <3 I am so relieved to hear that someone else survived this therapy...haha, it seems like I'll never find my way back to myself. Thank you again.

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  3. I had the same experience with EMDR too! I thought it sounded ludicrous, but found it really unlocked things to the core. I also turned into a hypervigilant mess, but overall, and eventually, it really really helped in my healing.

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  4. I had the same experience with EMDR too! I thought it sounded ludicrous, but found it really unlocked things to the core. I also turned into a hypervigilant mess, but overall, and eventually, it really really helped in my healing.

    ReplyDelete