Tag Archives: stress

“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.

Diary excerpts

This is a piece I have always intended to post, but have put off to a degree.It is very emotionally revealing of my thoughts and for that reason makes me feel exposed. But, as someone pointed out, it is very much part of a full account of my illness. I have mentioned before that I was encouraged to keep a diary. These are some excerpts from it. I have taken some at random. They are as I wrote them at the time apart from removing some names.

What is striking, reading these random excerpts now, is the overwhelming air of gloom and hopelessness. Except these were not the worst times. At the worst times I was unable to write anything at all. I suppose that fact goes to show just how awful the worst times were. I have had some dip days recently. Referencing what I see as a low day now to these excerpts help to keep the perspective of how far I’ve come.

10.8.10

2230. Mood suddenly slumped. Feel, very low, very sad, very empty. So tired. Suicidal thoughts. Not wanting to go on, not seeing any point.

11.8

0300. So frustrated that I can’t sleep. I am so tired that you’d think falling asleep and staying asleep would be easy. When I went to bed last night suddenly started sobbing.
14.8

0200 Very little sleep. Woken by nightmare.

1030. So flat, empty and hurting. This is real pain. No interest, no motivation. Can see no point. I’ve had enough. Feel very strongly that not only can I not keep going but there is no point.
15.8.

0300. Woke very distressed. Nightmare. Bodies, feeling trapped etc.

1600. Gardening. Nagged to do it by by S. It will be good to do things I used to enjoy. No motivation. Managed 10 minutes.

All day, sad, frustrated, angry, anxious. Overiding emotion; you die eventually, whatever. Why put up with all the crap first!
16.8

1000.Feeling really anxious and tearful. This is no way to live; feeling on the verge of a panic attack or tears or both so much of the time.
And I also feel guilty. Guilty that I am this depressed when I have a great relationship with S who is so lovely and supportive. And I have a lovely family. Also guilty that I feel pain and regret about an old relationship when I have such a good relationship now.

1200 Forced myself to go to gym. Started crying half way through work out. Just feel I am never going to get better.

1600. Very nearly cut myself today. Bought razors and dressings. Didn’t because D is in the house and because it will upset S so much.
25.8.

2000. Difficult morning this morning. It is so hard to see S distressed when it is completely down to me. It doesn’t exactly help the feelings of guilt. Dr. U is correct when she says that S and I have a good relationship and we have a good family environment. But of course, I have a huge guilt issue there. Because S is so amazing and I have a good family I feel as if I don’t have a right to be depressed etc. This is not a new thought. I discussed this with S this evening. Part of her response is that she thinks that I feel as though I don’t deserve to be loved and consequently I don’t believe that people really do love me or that it will all fall apart at some point. Typically perceptive of S. She reads me totally. We had a long talk this evening. What is also interesting is she says she knew I was starting to slide on Friday evening; which is before I realized I think. And I thought I was disguising it.

26.8

1600. Just returned from gym. Worked harder than I have for a long time. Interval type stuff on cross trainer. Working hard into pain, easing off then repeating. It hurts but I suppose it’s a much more positive pain. And my sleeve rubbing on my upper arm has made my cuts hurt a lot more. So a win double!

27.8.

A virtually sleepless night.

Very low day. Just feeling out of it and tired, anxious and tearful. D away at a sleepover at her friends. Haven’t achieved very much more than lying on the sofa for most of the day. Drinking at lunchtime to dull the pain which deep down I know is not a good move. Self-medication as S calls it.

13.9.10

Really, really, really not looking forward to this appointment today. Hmmm now let me go over the same old ground for a fourth time in a few months. I feel like a bloody freak show. I also feel incredibly anxious (what’s new) with anger bubbling under the surface.

I won’t give you the drugs I think you need and that have had some effect in the past because there may be an interaction with the ***. But I may give you a drug that isn’t licensed for what I’m intending to prescribe it for. Where is the fucking logic in that?!

“What do you feel you need from us to get better. Well I’ll totally ignore that then.”

15.9.10

During my appointment this morning I hit a very important nail on the head. It IS 18 years since the Baltic Exchange. And I really don’t want to be like this in another 18 years. Even if that means I get better (as I have done before) and then go back to this. The thought of it really is demoralising; frightening actually.

I really don’t have time to think about how I want to proceed. Some sort of intervention needs to happen sooner rather than later.

Evening. Had a long talk with S about where we need to go from here. My feeling is that some sort of drug intervention is needed now (actually some weeks ago.)My need to sleep is over-riding. Then I can get the other strategies in place that will help me get better long term. But otherwise it’s just going to drag on and on, the work situation will get worse, I’ll get more tired and it seems there is only one way from there and it’s not an improvement. Waiting just seems like such an unrealistic option. It’s now that I’m at the end of my tether.That’s the thing about depression: You can survive almost anything, as long as you see the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end.

What talking to S has reinforced is what an amazing person she is. The most remarkable person I have ever known, simply for being who she is. But once again that raises the guilty edge that I have no right to feel as ill as I do.

18.9.10

0400. Can’t sleep at all. Most times when I close my eyes I get alternating images of the bodies at the Baltic Exchange and Admiral Duncan. Not flashbacks. Just pictures in my head.

18.9.10

21.9.10

No real sleep at all. Another flashback during the night.

1200. Feel absolutely awful again today. This just can’t go on. One way or another something has to change and very soon. What do you do when you become too scared, too scared to live, too scared to die, too scared to love, too scared to even care?

1600. Spent a lot of time crying today. Have spoken to Sharon a few times on the phone. She tried to get hold of Dr. V again today and having not heard back from him has decided to call our GP. Whilst waiting for the GP to call back Dr V. did call S. Seems he is still being very intransigent and has no intention of prescribing anything to help directly with sleep or anxiety.. S then spoke to the GP when she called back and explained the situation. She is going to call Dr V herself as , apparently, she can’t understand his reluctance to prescribe for the purpose of respite and helping my recovery.
2000
Back home after spending a lot of time just walking aimlessly around. I am very low and very desperate. Very tearful and just so very, very weary.

2300

Had a long talk with S. She is very angry and upset following her conversation with Dr V. She says she had the impression he wasn’t listening to her and he spent a lot of time just talking across her. S was both upset and angered by her conversation with him. Bearing in mind this is S who is one of the most tolerant people I know and is always able to see both sides of a story to the point of annoying me at times! Apparently when he said that he wasn’t prepared to prescribe S went on to say how ill and desperate I was. His answer was that I would have to be sectioned!!!!! How totally ridiculous a position is that. Either no treatment at all or treatment by compulsion.
Apparently he did say eventually that he may consider prescribing but only if I go and see him again and I have to phone him to make the appointment. It seems to me that there is a degree of control going on here!

A couple of times this evening D came into the room I was in and just stroked my head or shoulder and asked if I was ok. Very touching. And probably the main reason I’m still here.

25.9.10

Dissappointing lack of sleep despite taking a sleeping tablet. Whatever it is that keeps me awake must be very strong.

28.9.10

2100 Not a very good day today. Very low mood, very anxious, very tired. Finding it hard to deal with the fact that even though I am taking the sleeping tablets I am still not sleeping. But added to the tiredness is the “hangover” effect of the sleeping tablets.
I did make it to the gym despite it all.

Midnight. Been very offhand and bad tempered all night. Spent a lot of time just lying on the floor and cuddling the dog but not communicating with anybody. But when I do communicate it’s aggressive and angry. Ended up arguing with S but I can’t actually remember what it was about and what started it. Then went for a walk which I think also distressed S.

0300. Flashback

1200 Again a very anxious morning. Anxiety levels through the roof. Not helped by the fact that D has decided to blow up balloons and burst them twice despite being asked by S to stop after the first time. Startle response as you’d expect!!

2.9

1400 Not a good morning. Someone had stacked a pile of about 4 big glasses by the sink. I knocked them over and they smashed to bits on the floor. Initially just stood there and burst into tears. Then had a flashback. I think this may have been caused by the amount of glass on the floor….a major feature of both the Baltic Exchange and Admiral Duncan. But has never happened before (as far as I can remember) when I have dropped glass. This happened shortly before I was due to go to see psychiatrist. Nearly had to cancel as I didn’t think I was going to get out of the house. Made it in the end.
But the g d has become a major issue with him again. I really don’t get it. Basically, he is saying that unless I stop taking the *** they will withhold other medications. (obviously not quite worded like that but that is the bottom line). Leave aside that if I suddenly stop taking the *** it is likely to actually cause an increase in depression etc. I am having a really shitty time, the level of anti-depressant I am on doesn’t seem to be lifting my mood and I think it needs to be increased. I am suffering from massive and intrusive anxiety and I am exhausted not just by the illness but by lack of sleep. There are drugs that could help with this and they are being withheld. I tried to explain all of this but this bloody illness makes me so inarticulate, I start to feel tearful when explaining things that might be confrontational so I don’t explain it properly. I can’t get better all the time I am so overwhelmingly tired and anxious. I am, frankly, totally, totally fucking pissed off with the whole situation. I was thinking this afternoon that I really don’t want to make the effort any more……serious suicidal thoughts.

2330
Flashback sitting in the lounge watching the tv. I was aware I was going into a flashback and then I lost awareness. “Came to” with S holding me and saying “it’s ok, you’re in the lounge at home, nothing is going to hurt you” Really don’t know what set this one off.

4.9

Virtually no sleep last night. The first hour in bed spent crying anyway.
Spent a lot of time sitting on the sofa downstairs in the dark; just thinking I have really had enough. I would like to just tidy up what needs to be done and just let go.

26.9.10

Bed at 2300. Asleep at about 2330 and awake at 0130. A whole two hours continuous sleep!

1700. In-laws came to lunch. Whilst clearing up I knocked a glass off the work surface onto the floor. Started to disconnect. S was aware of this and just touched me and talked quietly. Managed to keep a lid on it.