Grief is terrible. Grief mixed with guilt and depression is downright dangerous. And that’s where I’m at now. Doing marginally better than yesterday – I can at least see I’m in a dangerous place, whereas yesterday daytime it felt only like the ‘right’ place to be…I’m at least nearer to reality again, but no nearer to being more ‘stable.’
It took until nearly 3pm today to muster the strength and energy to get up and stop hoping the world will cease to exist if I keep my eyes closed for long enough. In the end it wasn’t me who got up anyway; one of my other alter parts took over. I guess this is what DID came to exist for – to live for me when I am overwhelmed. I’m sick of people telling me to look at how ‘wonderful’ my life is now, at all the amazing things that fill it – at no point am I trying to dispute those things exist. But if you’re being suffocated, I could show you all pretty pictures and tell you all about how lovely your present life is, but if I don’t actually provide you with oxygen, then it’s pointless, you’re still going to suffocate and probably with a high level of frustration towards me. Having a wonderful present life is not going to give me oxygen now is it. So please, nobody read this post and harp on at me about ‘just look how great your life is now.’ I don’t need to be told. I am very aware. But there is a distinct lack of mental oxygen reaching me at the moment on account of being psychologically suffocated…
My bedroom floor has come to be a representation of my head. I am normally quite obsessed really with keeping it neat and tidy – scared of it being messy on account of what happened in my childhood if my room was deemed untidy. And yet, over the last few weeks, the sheer effort of folding up newly washed clothes and putting them away has been too much. I have taken clothes off the drier, and put them on my bed. When it comes to sleeping, I’ve just shifted the clothes from my bed onto the floor, kidding myself that I’d ‘sort them out tomorrow.’ But the pile has remained, and I just pick clothes out of it for me to wear. That means the neat pile has fallen over. Then extra washing the week after, and week after, and week after… the last time I managed to put clothes away was the very beginning of April. I’m saying this to try and reach every other depressed person who suddenly can’t do the simplest of tasks; there’s nothing to be ashamed of, you’re ill. If you had the flu, you probably wouldn’t have the energy to care about how neat your clothes were either.
Anyway, the fact is there’s hardly any floor visibly left in my room. There’s just a mountain of clean, creased clothes…a jumble of unsorted chaos, just like my head.
In the bathroom this afternoon I stared at the toothbrush and inwardly sighed. I had no willpower even to manage my personal hygiene. If I didn’t have DID I’d have a) stayed in bed and b) not brushed my teeth or washed or even changed out of my pyjamas. As it was, another alter came out and did it all for me.
I promised myself that the one thing I’d do today is write a blog post. So here it is. The words of someone in a period of really quite severe depression. Triggered by grief, guilt, exhaustion, and traumatic anniversaries. Oh, and my dad texting me for the first time in 2 years the other day. That definitely helped. Not.
Quite frankly, if you told me that I wasn’t going to wake up tomorrow, I’d feel nothing. Not panic, not even relief at this point. Just nothing. Because I feel like I’m not alive anyway. I feel like I’m in a state of zombified existence. I don’t want to talk to anyone… the only person I’ve managed a half-normal conversation with today is my partner…I’ve assured her I’m going to be okay, which sounded like the blind ramble of a desperate person, but hey, I’ve been okay every other time I’ve felt like this. My success rate for making it through each terrible day alive is so far at 100%. Not bad. Not bad at all.
I don’t know if suicidal is even the right word. I’m just tired. I’m just surrounded by blackness. I’m being suffocated. For those of you who know Harry Potter, that scene in the philosopher’s stone where Harry, Ron and Hermione are being choked by that freaky ivy thing at the end? That. That’s how I’m feeling. Tightly crushed. I tried fighting it, and just like that scene, the crushing and suffocating sensation worsened massively. So now I’m just relaxing into it. I’m just going with it. In some twisted sense, maybe it’s healthy I’m feeling this…half of it is probably repressed emotional memory anyway, and if it surfaces and is processed, then that’s gone. Done. Dealt with.
Despair. That’s the other word I would use to sum up this suffocating existence. The grief is so intense I feel permanently winded and my breath keeps catching in my throat, as though I’m gasping for air to come in. I’m being crushed by depression and imploding inside with grief and in the middle of that feeling tremendous guilt. My therapist described it the ‘burden of being a survivor.’ This sums it up perfectly. Being a survivor is a burden. Survivor’s guilt is worse than anything the abusers put me through. Feeling that I need to make each day ‘worth it’ in order to justify my survival is an exhausting feat. Feeling that I’m supposed to present myself as being eternally grateful for surviving is also exhausting, and a downright lie. Of course 90% of the time I’m grateful and relieved and feeling blessed for surviving, and watch the world in awe and wonder. But this is not permanent. I’d be living in another reality if this was permanent. My life was a living hell. And I now have to manage the aftermath of that – which is more painful and frightening and chaotic than I care to describe. Who would live 100% relieved in that state? Once when I felt this terrible a fairly close friend said to me, “cheer up, you survived didn’t you?” as though I was being selfish and childish, pathetic even, to have very dark periods in recovery. Her words still echo in my head when I’m feeling this awful. Am I being stupid? Do I even care?
I’ve watched one of my alter personality parts make food, take clothes out of the washing machine, hang the clothes up, complete a wordsearch. I’m genuinely in awe. These tasks seem monumentally huge to me right now. The idea of thinking of something to cook, preparing the food, cooking, eating…god it just seems too tiring, too huge, too unmanageable. I can’t.
My will to live is vanishing, but that’s because I don’t feel like I’m living anyway. I feel like I’m existing. Choking.
I want my babies back.
I want to hear the children again.
I wish I understood why I was put through all of this.
I want to believe that I am a clean, worthwhile human…not a dirty piece of vermin like they made me feel. I’ve never quite shattered their belief.
I want life to just pause temporarily whilst my head stops spinning from being choked, my therapist said I looked frozen, like I was bracing myself against the whole world. It’s true. Except now I don’t even have the energy to brace myself. I’m just being thrown about in some invisible tornado that nobody else can see.
And my mask, in public, is as ever unfaltering. I can smile, laugh, engage in conversation, and you can all marvel at how well I’m doing.
And inside I’m past the point of even being able to cry. I’ve cried my eyes out, I’ve sobbed on friends this week and felt raw with emotion. That’s passed.
I’m just existing.
And you know what? It’s good that I can go through this phase now. Because before? Before I could not have the space to. Not really. Not if I was going to survive. And even if my will to live faded, my will to beat them never disappeared completely.
Depression is often dismissed by people as ‘feeling a bit sad’ and if you look at something pretty or smile once, then you’re fixed. It’s so much more than feeling a bit sad. It’s profound and world-changing, dangerous if not caught, and like living in your own personal black hell of suffocating ivy and tornados, where even brushing your teeth becomes the most challenging task.
Grief is crippling. For every lovely moment of my life, I wish my baby was here, old enough now to understand the world around her, and share these moments with me.
I am in a very fragile place. This week I managed to give two talks, do an exam, get through my birthday in one piece, and the weeks before I managed to complete coursework on time. I knew I was running on adrenaline. I knew the moment the workload dropped, once the talks were done, my head would suck into a vacuum. I also knew it was needed.
So, if you don’t mind, I’ll just sit through this state of paralysed depression, of overwhelming grief, of a suffocating existence and despair. Because it’s needed, it’s right, and I’m in a safe world now where I can actually properly process the level of damage and harm inflicted onto me for the first 20 years of my life. Let me be. I need this phase right now. For those near me, you can help me by not trying to push me out of it, however much I realise you’re worried… you can help me by acknowledging this is needed, and believing in me when I no longer truly believe in myself, or my right for my future. Carry on as you are, carry on doing and planning things for the future – I need you to be a silent hand to pull me into the future, not to stand next to me and fall into meltdown too…
I fought non-stop for 20 years. It’s okay for my energy to finally run out, and for me to crash. What else could you expect. I am not invincible. I do not have endless amounts of energy – the vast amount needed to give me willpower given everything that has happened. Sometimes it fades. Let it. Even this is part of recovery. And my DID ensures I can still exist, even if I don’t feel like I’m living.
For now, I’ll just focus on breathing for the next hour, and next, and next…