Tag Archives: stress

Not Out of the Cave

I have neglected this blog for some time. I think it is a couple of years since I posted anything.

It started as a blog about my “recovery” from PTSD, but along the way it has taken several meandering detours.

What I have learnt along the way is that you never truly recover. You may go into remission, you may find ways to better deal with it when it does come snarling, but it never truly goes away. Ad so, I find myself in something of a relapse. The 25th anniversary came this year and, although I expected some reaction, it has triggered much more of a downward spiral than I expected. Including full blown waking flashbacks which is something I have not experienced for some time.

To explain the title of this I am copying below something I have posted before.

“Here’s what PTSD is like, and why people kill themselves over it. Think of life like a cave. If I send you into a cave with a lantern and tell you there are no bears in the cave, you feel safe. You will walk around the cave and enjoy yourself. Now what if I give you a lantern and a gun and tell you that there is a bear in there? You can still go down, but you’ll be careful to look for the bear and ready to run or shoot if you see it. Now, what if I send you down there with a gun but no lantern and simply say “bear” to you? Pretty soon, you’re in there, you can’t see the way out, and every rock you bump into feels like a bear. After a long enough time being down in the cave, you realize you don’t have enough ammo to shoot everything that might be a bear. It has nothing to do with running out of food or water or feeling like you’re fighting some unwinnable battle with the bear. You just get sick and tired of the uncertainty. Are you going to live through the night? Are you going to wake up to a bear gnawing your intestines? You get to the point where you just wish the bear would come along and end it. And when he doesn’t come, you decide to do it yourself.”

Therein lies the problem when it comes. The hyper-arousal and hyper-vigilance with no productive outlet for the anxiety, stress, adrenaline et al becomes incredibly exhausting. Emotionally and physically. Exacerbated by the fact your fearful brain keeps you awake at night. This impacts completely in your life. Small decisions become impossible to make because you are just too tired to make them. And so the downward spiral into depression begins.

One positive is that having been down the road before I recognised the signs much earlier. So much earlier have sought intervention and time out. I am lucky to have the support of some particularly good GPs and others who have facilitated that intervention and time out. Not just that, they have given me the time for my sometimes rambling musings on my situation.

So, this blog is likely to become more active again one way or another. I will also revisit and update on some of the meanders!

Advertisements

“Never Let Me Go.” In Memoriam K

Yesterday I spoke for the first time ever about something that happened some years ago. About something that happened to a very dear friend. Something awful, beyond awful; carried out by people I can only describe as evil personified. For lots of reason I’m not going to go into detail here. I was involved in the immediate aftermath of this awful event and spent several days shut up with my friend. That was awful too. It has been suggested that I have vicarious trauma because of this.

Talking about it was hard. To do so for the first time after these years, I suppose it was always going to be. To talk about brings up the emotions from that time but also images of it all in my head. Some of the are too upsetting to contemplate for too long. There were only three people who knew exactly what happened to my friend in all the detail. My friend of course; she’s no longer with us. Life became too hard for hr and she left us. Her sister knew too and she left us through illness a couple of years ago. And me. Whilst her sister was alive, in some ways it felt like a burden shared even through we never discussed the actual event in detail. It now feels like a burden that is all mine and it has become time to deal with it.

Right now I feel emotionally and physically exhausted. It was a hard thing to do, to talk about it.

Very much in my mind at the moment is “Never let me go” a song by Florence and the Machine. Video and lyrics below.

Looking up from underneath
Fractured moonlight on the sea
Reflections still look the same to me
As before I went under

And it’s peaceful in the deep
Cathedral where you cannot breathe
No need to pray, no need to speak
Now I am under all

And it’s breaking over me
A thousand miles down to the sea bed
Found the place to rest my head
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go

And the arms of the ocean are carrying me
And all this devotion was rushing out of me
In the crushes of heaven for a sinner like me
But the arms of the ocean delivered me

Though the pressure’s hard to take
It’s the only way I can escape
It seems a heavy choice to make
And now I am under all

And it’s breaking over me
A thousand miles down to the sea bed
Found the place to rest my head
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go

And the arms of the ocean are carrying me
And all this devotion was rushing out of me
In the crushes of heaven for a sinner like me
But the arms of the ocean delivered me

And it’s over
And I’m going under
But I’m not giving up
I’m just giving in

I’m slipping underneath
So cold and so sweet

And the arms of the ocean so sweet and so cold
And all this devotion I never knew at all
In the crushes of heaven for a sinner released
And the arms of the ocean delivered me
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go
Deliver me
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go
Deliver me
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go
Deliver me
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go

And it’s over
(Never let me go, Never let me go)
And I’m going under
(Never let me go, Never let me go)
But I’m not giving up
(Never let me go, Never let me go)
I’m just giving in
(Never let me go, Never let me go)

I’m slipping underneath
(Never let me go, Never let me go)
So cold and so sweet
(Never let me go, Never let me go)

Image

The Pain (Gore Warning)

the pain

PTSD and Suicide

“Here’s what PTSD is like, and why people kill themselves over it. Think of life like a cave. If I send you into a cave with a lantern and tell you there are no bears in the cave, you feel safe. You will walk around the cave and enjoy yourself. Now what if I give you a lantern and a gun and tell you that there is a bear in there? You can still go down, but you’ll be careful to look for the bear and ready to run or shoot if you see it. Now, what if I send you down there with a gun but no lantern and simply say “bear” to you? Pretty soon, you’re in there, you can’t see the way out, and every rock you bump into feels like a bear. After a long enough time being down in the cave, you realize you don’t have enough ammo to shoot everything that might be a bear. It has nothing to do with running out of food or water or feeling like you’re fighting some unwinnable battle with the bear. You just get sick and tired of the uncertainty. Are you going to live through the night? Are you going to wake up to a bear gnawing your intestines? You get to the point where you just wish the bear would come along and end it. And when he doesn’t come, you decide to do it yourself.”

A Convenient Hook

Something I have noticed as a growing trend with people who know about my illness.

Somebody does something that I find unacceptable or unreasonable or difficult to deal with. I express this. I can express this totally reasonably and within the bounds of normal behaviour. I’m told that just because I’m ill not to take it out on that person or not to be so angry. It’s like a stick to beat me with or maybe a card to trump me with. Immediately I am put on the back foot even though I have a fair point made in a fair way.

I have also noticed an increasing tendency for people to excuse previous bad actions by holding up my illness as a reason. In other words any reaction of mine to another persons difficult behaviour is seen as a spontaneous bad act on my part rather than a reaction to someone else’s behaviour.

It’s difficult to deal with. I am well aware that my illness caused me to behave incredibly unreasonably on some occasions. Is it reasonable or fair that people use that as a get out for any of their own bad behaviour? Not really, but it’s certainly easy.

Slowly Moving Forward

So, the unhelpful anxiety has died down and now I can really start to process things. Sadness without anxiety is still not great but so much easier to deal with.

I mentioned that whilst we were in agreement on most things there were some things we tacitly disagreed on. I don’t think we will ever reach common ground on why I became depressed. To her, I think, it was purely and simply spontaneous internal depression that was always going to happen. To me I reacted to some of her behaviours and being unable to understand why her norms did not match what I thought were reasonable I lost my reference points and became depressed. In other words there was cause and effect. Some of my own behaviour after I became ill was very poor and I understand why she would resent that and that she had every right to do so. We just don’t agree on the starting point. Does that matter? On the face of it not at all. Even if we did agree now it couldn’t change what happened and it would make no difference really to her life or mine in the present. Yet I still struggle with what I see as an inability to see cause and effect.For me, if one particular incident had not happened, things would have followed a different path. It is impossible to know what that path might have been but I’d hope it would have been less painful for us both. My lasting impression is that she feels that the relationship became untenable because I became depressed. My view is that I became depressed because the relationship became untenable. I don’t know for sure that is her view because we didn’t specifically discuss that but it remains my strong impression. Again, does that matter, does it have any material effect now? That particular point really does seem to matter to me. It has always been a feature of mine that if I see something that I think is unfair and unreasonable I have to go at it and I find it very hard to let go. This is something else that possibly goes back to childhood when I feel it was impossible to put my side of a story to my father. In moderation it’s probably a good feature but sometimes in some circumstances it is unhelpful and probably quite damaging. It is one of my traits I’m finding hardest to adjust.

I have another regret from Monday. One that is only indirectly related to the long lost ex. The person she told me had died recently was a bit of a unique character. One of those larger than life characters. You couldn’t help but love her even if you tried not to. She was a person who flitted in and out of my life but knowing she is gone is no less telling because of that. The last time I had contact with her was when she delivered a very strong telling off to me and it’s only now dawning on me why that was. I’m not in touch with anyone else who knew her now. I missed the opportunity to share a moments grief with someone else who knew her. This was because I was so stressed about the forthcoming conversations I blanked it out to avoid distraction. I deeply regret it.

It’s funny how people view mental illness and how scary they find it. As well as often misunderstanding it. I happened to mention to someone of similar rank at work that I was feeling a bit low and it would have been good to have a night off to chat with my OH. Because he knew my history with PTSD it obviously rang an alarm bell for him. A whole train of things then happened which ended with a senior officer phoning me because he was concerned that I wasn’t really well enough to come to work that night. I’d only mentioned that I was feeling a bit low! I’ve previously had a longish spell of sickness after 2 operations on my back following an accident at work. If I’d mentioned my back was a bit sore today would the same thing have happened? I very much doubt it.

Sad v Depression

Currently I am a bit sad. Not to be confused with being ill! And the point of this. When I become sad, when I experience emotions as a reaction to remembering painful episodes of the past I remember just how ill I became. This provokes anxiety that I may be heading that way again which in turn provokes more sadness. So I become more anxious and you have a cycle started. Now I have strategies like CBT in place to help break that cycle.