When faced with my demons I clothe them and feed them…

Archive for September, 2010

The Meaning

I happened on a little paperback called ‘The Search for Meaning’ by Viktor Frankl which had come free with a newspaper some time ago but which I had not looked at. It is a Holocaust memoir by a psychiatrist. How strangely comforting it can sometimes be to be reminded of the very extreme sufferings others have endured and still managed to hold on to hope.

Well at any rate I guess it should put my own stuff into some kind of perspective.

Anyway, I felt my mood lift around Sunday. My appetite returned…a huge relief. R came over and helped me sort my house out, and I cooked tomato soup from our home grown tomatoes and made bread. That I found the ability to do this (and really enjoy eating it) was cheering of itself.

Today I was assessed for a stay at Alexandra Road Crisis Unit. They’ve given me two weeks. I was a little unsure whether to go ahead, but on balance decided to do so. Later today I have my first meeting with my new counsellor. Fingers crossed it goes well.

Whether it’s the meds, I still feel punch drunk, a bit numb and sedated. ‘The Search for Meaning’ never came at a better time, because now I am coming out of the grim ‘survival mode’ I still wonder what to make of the Hell of the last six months.

Viktor Frankl comments that the concentration camp prisoners had stopped expecting meaning from life but that life could still set them a meaningful task…even if it was simply to bear suffering as best they could.

I can only hope and trust that I passed the test of my own relatively small sufferings. To be honest, I’m sure of very little right now. In the book Frankl uses the metaphor of gas filling a space, to describe how suffering permeates human consciousness fully, regardless of the cause.

I have a sense of emotional flatness and lack of ‘affect’…as if all feeling had been used up and exhausted. I have the sense that nothing much matters. That I no longer care. That all passion is spent.

If a beloved friend can turn and betray you and your partner does not defend you…well that’s it. There’s little point in loving or caring.

I might be better off avoiding intimacy, as R does. He avoids any extremes of suffering such as I’ve endured.

Then again I have to ask myself how much of this I brought on myself.

Right now I have no neat answers. Only questions. The main one, as ever with me, is ‘why?’


Painfully Needy

I think I may have an ‘insecure attachment style’. Then again, I might not.

I’m somewhat fearful of intimacy but I still seek it, sometimes fearing rejection and abandonment. This is from my reading of ‘The Highly Sensitive Person in Love’.

And what we fear can often become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The events of this year triggered a massive emotional reaction in me, that’s for sure.

I have hopes of mending fences eventually with both my partner and my friend. But I will have to protect myself better in future, and not put too many eggs in too few emotional baskets.

A few good things happened today, though I was in a needy and desperate place. Messages and calls from friends, a good chat with R on the phone, a therapist getting in touch with me (she lives locally and is skilled in dealing with spiritual issues which was important to me). And my Dual Recovery meeting in central London, which felt safe and comforting (though central London didn’t).

I prayed for strength to get through this depression and this evening I feel more hopeful for the first time in about a week.

Depression kills your sense of identity. You feel worthless and empty, and that you have nothing to give and no redeeming features. A truly horrible place, and dreadfully lonely, because you are in a glass prison. You can see and be with people but there’s this core of disconnection and isolation.

Still not really eating. What I do eat tastes like cardboard (smoking heavily doesn’t help) so it’s not fun trying to force myself. I desperately want to get back to having an interest in food (even if it was excessive at times!) It’s frightening to lose that over such a long period. I used to love to cook, even just for myself and it was a way of showing myself love and nurturing as well as a therapeutic activity.

Please God. Let this depression lift. Enough already. I want to hoover and tidy my house, put my papers in order, and start shopping and cooking again.

But of course it will lift. Of course it will. Just a matter of time. Lots love, Z xxx

I can be nice!

I decided to trash the last two posts. They are not deleted. I can restore them any time I like. I thought they teetered on the edge of ‘blog abuse’, and maybe even abuse of my gentle readers!

There’s such a thing as ‘too much information’. R was not happy. He felt my account was distorted. Though I have to say, he’s the one who is very keen to tell you (when it suits) that ‘everyone has their own subjective reality!’

Folks, in an ideal world, no adult would feel beyond criticism, or incapable of looking critically at their own choices rather than choosing a convenient scapegoat.

Equals and R appear to lack this ability, and this would be a clue as to why their conflict resolution skills are precisely nil.

They are also painfully unaware of basic psychology. Bullying and scapegoating (especially when it’s a close friend and a partner doing it) will not result in a happy, smiley scapegoat!


Emerging from the Shadowlands…

Why oh why do I insist on thinking for myself?

Why can’t I blindly obey authority?

What’s with having an independent opinion or original thought?

Look how I suffered for it!

The books and website by Elaine Aron on The Highly Sensitive Person yield some clues.

I have a rich inner life and plenty of time to indulge it. Then when I am in a group, being a people-oriented person and liking to communicate, I want to share all I have gleaned from many hours of solitude, thought, contemplation and reflection. ‘Pressure of speech’ sometimes makes me a bit mouthy and urgent.

This trait got me into a shedload of trouble this year.

I couldn’t tolerate having my views dismissed by an authoritarian trainer (who knows nothing about mental health problems). Then I became Demon of the Year. It’s all so pitifully stupid. And stupidity is my own personal demon.

I’m still dealing with the emotional fall out from this situation. But the depression has lifted and I’m getting out and about. I haven’t become permanently phobic about groups, because they have been a big source of strength and pleasure to me in the past over many years.

People who have nothing to move on from like to tell me to move on because I’m making them feel uncomfortable (Gavin at the Clarendon Centre, Richard). They can just f*** right off together with their agenda. I’m moving on right enough. Moving on to a new self. They will be forever stuck with their inadequate old selves, and that’s why they have such a deep-seated resentment toward me.

‘Been to Hell and back…I can show you vouchers’.

And if this is what it takes to be authentic and real in this life I guess it’s a price worth paying.

I WILL rise again. It’s inevitable. And these motherfuckers will feel sick. With everything they have in their lives (and everything that they DON’T) they will never be happy, and never know joy, because they are sell-outs. You hear me? Integrity is not even a word they can COMPUTE for God’s sake, but they sure feel threatened seeing it in others…

Am I sounding a little hip hop folks, for the first time in ages? That’s because for the first time in ages I’ve given Eminem’s ‘Recovery’ a spin.

I’m not beaten yet. X

Evolutionary Purpose of Depression

What is depression, why is it and what is it for?

By nature I am nothing if not a meaning-seeker and my life gives me abundant opportunities and reasons to seek for meaning long and hard.

Depression is such an abominably painful state that I must meditate endlessly on what could possibly be its purpose and benefits.

I’m lousy at doing links right now folks and so won’t link you to a long piece I read yesterday on the evolutionary purpose of depression (cf, how not to blog).

The science bit will all elude me as it doesn’t interest me enough. But what I got from it is this.

A period of almost total shutdown while the mind ruminates endlessly and painfully around such topics as ‘I am a total failure’, ‘I am completely alone’, ‘I am not likeable or lovable’, may yield the following benefits.

Often such a phase follows a major life event or triggering situation. It gives us time to figure out what needs to change in order to avoid a future recurrence of said trigger.

I have to follow that up by saying I can think of few crueller and harsher ‘coping strategies’ than depression. But if you need cheering up (and I certainly do) just reflect how many great thinkers, artists and even political leaders have been plagued by the ‘black dog’.

Is this just the price we pay for insight, originality, vision and creativity?

To anyone out there currently depressed, I want to give you a big hug! To anyone out there who isn’t and struggles to understand those who are: let humility and compassion be your watchwords. Do not try to ‘fix’ your depressed friend or relative. Let them know you are there to listen, for a hug or for whatever else they think might help.

Never tell them what R told me. That depression is a sign we need to do something differently. Of course there is some truth in that, but it will just result in more self-blaming and self-loathing on the part of depressed person.

When they are in it they are in it and the waiting game they have to play for it to lift is excruciating and frightening. Be kind, be gentle and show love. Getting angry or impatient with them will only make matters worse.

Think of it this way if you are spiritually inclined. The hand of God is on these people and it weighs very heavily indeed.

My own faith has been tested to the max over the last months. But as they say in the Fellowships, ‘nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world for no reason’.

I’ve invested heavily in the Bank of Pain. I believe I will reap great benefits from these months in insight and wisdom gained. I’ve died the ‘little death’ of depression and now I’m getting ready for rebirth into a fitter, happier, more realistic Zoe. With God’s grace.

I hope I’m not annoying my atheist readers too much. Maybe you are stronger than I, and I’m certainly not trying to convert anybody. But the presence of a Higher Power is how I make sense of suffering. My faith is a very personal one and I draw on all traditions.

Lots love…especially to anyone currently in depression. You are not alone! X


Yeah, despite everything.

The pain of depression seems to be receding like the tide…though weary I am getting ready to live again. It really is a death of sorts. John of the Cross guiding me again. Attachments to creatures get in the way of union with God. And while the company of the wise makes our burdens lighter, we do better alone than with fools.

We have to choose our friends wisely, and having chosen them, refrain from becoming overly attached to them.

Too often my friends and I have been the blind leading the blind. They will fall into a ditch!

Am I morphing into a Catholic? Not yet, though I definitely have some kind of crush on John of the Cross.

Thank you God. Thank you for showing me the error of my ways. Thank you for these harsh lessons and for showing me my sin and weakness. It seems only a harsh lesson was enough to open my eyes. You had tried to show me many many times, but I was sunk in my attachment and did not want to let go.

Lord Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy on me, a sinner.

I am blessed to have you in my life. Blessed with a thankful heart.

Joining a Support Group

Hi folks. Today I found the London Support Group. They hold monthly meetings for those suffering the effects of bullying in the workplace. They also have an online forum. I have also posted on the BullyOnline forum and sent off for the book ‘Bully In Sight’ by Tim Field. As I am apparently the bully here at least I should be able to find myself in the description???

The reality is that it is a very common tactic of serial bullies to counter-accuse and play the victim, which is exactly what Equals Training have done.

It’s all bonkers of course. How am I as a humble mental health service user and hapless ex-volunteer for this ‘firm’ in a position to bully them? Apparently by writing emails such as I posted a while back. Apparently by trying to appeal to my ex-friend’s friendship.

I went to see the manager of the Clarendon Centre yesterday. I was feeling pretty desperate and it was NOT a good move, as so many desperate moves are not. He is a practised fence-sitter. He pretends to be concerned about how I can ‘move on’ when I have asked him to intervene or request mediation and he pretty much ignored that request. I ended up throwing a wobbly and literally screaming.

He frames it as ‘a dispute’. It is not a dispute. It is bullying, when a group of people with a little bit of power and authority (they had funds to run their course etc) gang up on a relatively powerless individual.

My huge ‘mistake’ was thinking I could take them on by writing emails about what had happened. This has then been construed as ‘harassment’ and ‘bullying’ by me. Oh for God’s sake. They even made a complaint to the police!

OK Equals. Since I am, in your eyes, so powerful and scary that my emails make you feel (sob) ‘harassed’ and ‘bullied’, maybe you would like to join me at the London Support Group for  targets of bullying in the workplace?

Experiencing PTSD? Depression? Unable to function properly for months? I’m the cause? Have a look at BullyOnline and the London Support Group. I will be writing more about this topic and will keep you posted about any new insights I can gain.

In the meantime I’m off to access some free walk-in counselling at St James’ Church Piccadilly and The Samaritans. I am also hoping to have a stay at the May Tree Sanctuary for the Suicidal.