Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Oh, the Irony. Coming alive in a time of pandemic.

Oh, the irony.
30+ years of being various degrees of suicidal
an now we have a pandemic -
I want to live.

I'll take a moment to unpack this one.

My depression started somewhere in seventh or eighth grade. It's possible it started earlier, but I have no memories earlier except for a very few, so let's say - around 12.

At age 12 I started to self-harm. And 'escape' was always in my thoughts.
I didn't know much as a pre-teen, but trust me I knew I wanted out.
Out was still a fantasy in my head of rescue or of running away.

Other people, with other mental issues might have managed to escape on their own.
I couldn't.
I was the very epitome of learned helplessness.
Added to that was incredible ambivalence and no idea of who I was.

Where would I escape to?
Who was I to even think that escape was possible?
Who was I to think I even deserved better?
This was my lot. Suck it up. Manage.
Who did I think I was?

As a teenager, my resources changed.
I had access to a car and endless mountain roads.
I was always safe in my car. I felt 'in control' of something.
And here I started to think that maybe I could control at least my death.

My fantasies of escape became fantasies of dying.
I wore black constantly. I was erasing myself from my own life. (Not that there was much to erase.)
I was vanishing before my own eyes.
And I was content with that.

I was content with this process of unbecoming because I had a way out. Sitting in the driveway was a 1980s bright orange mustang. Ugly as sin. But the straight 6 engine was a beast.

Having a way out made staying easier.
Because I knew I didn't have to stay.
I had a choice.
Of all the things in my life that were broken, out of my control, dangerous, or terrifying.
I had control over one thing.

How does all of this relate to today's situation?
For better than 30 years I managed to face tomorrow because I knew that if I didn't want to, if it was too hard, I didn't have to.
I could stop.

In my 20s, as I saw all my friends growing and flying and becoming these spectacular people. I was sheathed in lead.
The learned helplessness and the 'shoulds' of my family ruled every aspect of my life.

I slept a lot.
And I hoped I wouldn't wake.
And when I was awake I would actively ideate suicide.
I came close to death a couple of times.
And I had my first hallucination. Thankfully also my last.

The 30s were calmer, at least on the surface. I finally found help for the depression, but not for the problem at the root of all of it.
Ideation swang back and forth between passive and active.

As my 30s wore on I found the pendulum spent more time towards the passive side.
That was good. I was more able to function.
But that was all it was - function.

This joi de vivre that people seem to expect other people to have was completely missing.
I'm not saying I was never happy, but I am saying every day was a trudge. An exercise in existing.

So, where I slept through most of my 20s, my 40s were marked by a type of emotional numbness. And on occasion, the ice beneath my feet would break.
That would plunge me into terror.

A couple of years ago (2,3) I finally made the connection with cptsd and found a good therapist to work through it. I'm still working on it. I will for the rest of my life.
I'm over 50 and only now discovering how to live. I mourn so much of my life because I missed it.

So here's the irony:
I'm writing. I adore my husband. I am finally discovering who I am.
I have put most of my desire for death aside.
I want to live. I have something to live for.

Here, at a very scary moment in a world that I have always shunned because of fear instilled in me, at a moment when life seems most precarious, most easily lost.
Now - I want to live.

Coronavirus and Mental health and Cptsd (April 20, 2020)

To all my extrovert friends. I'm sorry you are suffering from this prolonged visit to my kind of world. But, in all honesty, if it were not for your discomfort. I would wish the world like this always.

I like quiet. I like silence. To me, these things are good.
They are safe. They are peaceful and without violence.

As you feel uncomfortable in a world that is moving a bit too slowly for you, the "normal" world feels a bit too fast and crowded for me. The lights are too bright, too harsh.

This slower world, with its breezes and the patter of rain on the roof, I'm happy with it and I will be sorry to see it go.
Something I haven't told my readers before is that at one point in my life I lived alone for nearly two years. There is a little house, by a creek, on a road that leads nowhere, in Meat Camp, NC where I spent 2 years healing.

I was removed from the world for a little while in my 20s. In a time of life that most people equate with experimentation and adventure, this tiny house became one of the most important shelters of my life.

I have so many stories from that time of my life. The house was near the bend in the creek, and stories were caught daily in the thickets along the banks. There was always something new to see or learn.

I think the reason that haven is in my thoughts today is that I learned so much in the silence. I learned how to sit with myself again on the steps at the kitchen door. I found my laughter caught in the tangle near the footbridge.

I found so many of the pieces that I had surrendered or cut away to please someone else. A toxic person that even though they were hundreds of miles away - I still feared, because of what they had shaped me into. But, those tales are for another day.

Today I wish all my extrovert friends could see the world as I do.

To me, this isn't a dull boring place. I'm not lonely. What I see is a sky that is so clear and blue that it makes my heart ache. I see people walking. Not hurried steps desperate to "be there" - but slow steps of people who "are here"

The colors are more intense, the green of the maple leaves against the sky is a shocking clash of color. The silence lets me hear the trees sigh in the breeze. I can hear the birds overhead and the squirrels chittering as they race around the bottom of the trees.

I wish all my extrovert friends could see what I see

And, more than that, I wish that it could be as great a balm for them.

But, I know that many, perhaps most, people want to resume "normal". This quietude makes them restless and irritable. The world on pause feels so much more welcoming to me. Without clashing noise of the constant burble of voices, I find the world welcoming. I might even say "better.

I know this condition won't stay.

But I hope that all my extrovert friends will remember these days when all the noise of life is resumed. Perhaps they can then understand a bit, what it is like for me to live in their world

Like the wildlife, I am enjoying the respite from the persistent human pace of normalcy. Until the world breaks out again in progress and activity I'll just be over here. Enjoying the quiet.

Well, I've been lax. Actually, no. I've been over on Twitter.

For some reason, this year I have discovered that Twitter is more to my working method. I have no idea why. Because I am still petrified by it.
More on that from one of my first posts: Yes, I'm afraid of Twitter

But, right now it is providing an immediacy that I need.
I might go think about that.