Mental Illness, Escapism, and Addiction
She asked me when the wheels came off and I couldn’t pinpoint it. In summary, months was the answer to the timetable. Something had happened, but what? We started retracing my steps. Tears welled up in my eyes when I talked about losing both my dogs within the same calendar year, but I broke down, shaking….sobbing, when I recounted the month of October and that was when she stopped and set the paper and pen down.
“Stephanie, trauma is not linear. It never goes away. Some days you’re in acceptance, others you’re going to find yourself right back in the grief. You were exposed to your trauma. You faced your abuser down in Court and then you isolated yourself away where it was safe.”
I told her what I thought I did wrong or should have done better, or at least different. I talked about all the digestive issues, my hair falling out, the fatigue —oh my god THE FATIGUE, the brain fog… the break up.
“Be gentle with yourself.”, she says.
I thought it was a prudent reminder that I could work into my DBT/CBT skills. I must confess that since putting this into practice, I have lost count of how many times I’ve had to use it and it hasn’t even been 12 hours.
I also kept my promise to journal.
“People talk about depression all the time. The difference between depression and sadness is sadness is just from happenstance—whatever happened or didn’t happen for you, or grief, or whatever it is. Depression is your body saying f*ck you, I don’t want to be this character anymore, I don’t want to hold up this avatar that you’ve created in the world. It’s too much for me.
You should think of the word ‘depressed’ as ‘deep rest.’ Your body needs to be depressed. It needs deep rest from the character that you’ve been trying to play.”
This week was suicide prevention week. It occurred to me that for all the mental health awareness there is in the world, it still seems lost on the people that you want most to love and support you … your family. For the life of me, I cannot understand it. Ive seen my own family reeling from a suicide, all of us asking ourselves what we could of done differently and wondering where we went wrong, regretting not reaching out sooner or more often.
Yes, it’s too late to change anything about those who were lost to the depths of depression along their own life’s path, but, No, you do not get to ever go back to being naive to the darkness which swallowed them. Please remember, you cannot forget.
What about the ones who have grappled with the depths of despair that are still among us?
Maybe in your truth, you see this as a consequence, but for what exactly? Being touched by fire? Do we deserve to be burned? And if the opposite of this is you…are you touched by ice?
Seems like a zero sum game.
Perhaps we could just trust each other to pay attention to our own truth. I’ll stay out of yours, you stay the hell out of mine? Maybe family could learn to treat other relatives with slightly more dignity than a complete stranger?
Is that the best we can do?
That saddens me, but then again what do I know, I’m the sick one …
Look, you can throw a shit ton of pills at PTSD and it’s really not going to do anything, at least in my experience. When the brain suffers this trauma there is no going back. You can have something similar to remission but it’s always the fucking boogeyman under the bed. It might not grab you but it’s there.
On this night last year, at just about this time the lying bastard that depression is got me in the corner and beat the hell out of me.
I didn’t want to feel anymore, didn’t think I could. I was ready to find a peaceful dream…just fall asleep and let the pain fall away. With a handful of sleeping pills and another of pain pills, I made an attempt.
I penned the following note to my children:
You both are a dream come true. I never loved anyone or anything as much as I loved you. I know that may not seem like a lot right now, but with all my heart with every fiber of my being I have prayed over your lives, for your very existence. I dreamed you to life. I know I have failed you miserably. I hate myself for it. I hate that I have given you less than you deserve in life. That I was too young and ignorant to pick a better father for you. You both deserved better than that. NONE of it is your fault. It is mine alone. I could never forgive myself for that. Today would have been Chris and I’s 15th anniversary had we remained married. I was never strong enough to leave him, always stuck in codependence but I had to be strong enough for you. The stakes got too high. Please know that you were planned and dreamed and hoped for and so very loved. Please know that. It is not a lack of love but my own weaknesses, my failing mind, spirit and body that I do not want to burden you with any further. I want you to be free of me and my inadequacy. Please believe me when I say that there have been countless days that the only reason I went on was for just the you. I just couldn’t anymore. My heart and soul were beyond saving and repair and there is no one to blame for that. It was a seamless stretch of circumstances with no bounds in which I was buried by hopelessness. I am tired and have nothing left to offer in this shell. I only have my love and guidance which I pray I am given enough of Gods grace to allow me to protect you from my poor choices and mistakes from a distance, but allows you to know Im always with you. You are my life, my legacy. You must go on and be the change this world desperately needs. The light that casts away darkness as you always did in my heart. You alone are enough just as you are. You always have been and always will be. Love and carry one another to the finish line. Ill be watching. Ill be the biggest fan of your lives.
I love you.
Please forgive me.
A phone call came through despite my phone being on “do not disturb”. On the other end, an angel.
There were police and paramedics.
An ambulance ride.
Saying: “I fucked up. I don’t want to die”
In and out of consciousness.
A hospital transfer.
Conversations I couldn’t stay conscious throughout.
I lost days but not my life.
A year later, I find that I am stronger than I ever thought possible.
I have to keep finding that strength on my own.
So I kept living.