I’ve not posted anything for seven months because I became overwhelmed in my Life – with life. I know now that I spiraled into major depression and acute anxiety. This has happened to me a few other times in my Life but I believe this episode has been the worst.
If you have ever found yourself in this sort of situation, you have my heartfelt empathy. All sorts of facets of what was your everyday life gradually slip away until you’re left with a mere existence where just ingesting enough bites of food each day to stay alive is about all you can handle, and some days even that can be overwhelming.
What brought me into this downward spiral was a combination of things that had been going on for some time. Any one of these could have been enough, but all together it was devastating. The major contributors for me were:
1) the toll from caring for an elderly narcissistic parent with probable undiagnosed dementia,
2) being a hospice nurse for my terminally ill pet of 18 years,
3) isolation and stress induced by the pandemic,
4) no longer being on anti depressants and anxiety medications (my prescribing doctor had retired a while back), plus I decided to try a more holistic approach in dealing with my mental health
5) delving into the world of attempting to both understand and begin healing from a life of narcissistic abuse as a child and throughout my life.
Dang! When I see this list I can fully understand why I felt sometimes that I just wanted permission to collapse in a dark corner somewhere in the fetal position.
I am writing today because this is the first day I’ve felt the desire to write, plus had the emotional fortitude to do so, since last January – and, since I was twelve years old I have considered myself to be a writer. I made a couple of feeble attempts along the way but would dissolve into tears and not continue.
In addition to no longer writing, other parts of me went by the wayside as well… I no longer took photos, or created art, or took care of my garden I loved or my yard, housework fell by the wayside, as did basic self care. My whole existence withered.
My mind was tortured with all sorts of swirling thoughts that would jump all over the place constantly from unpleasant childhood memories, to personal regrets in my adult life, to thoughts about my own lack of parenting and life skills based on my upbringing, to what my coping mechanisms were for decades when I didn’t realize they were a result of trauma I’d experienced, to excessive worry and on and on.
A mess, right? Yes. A complete mess. But, through it all, as a result of my childhood learned behavior of “acting ok” when I really wasn’t, and being conditioned that my feelings weren’t important or even worthy of expressing, I faked it through telephone conversations and a few in person encounters. Only one close friend and possibly my daughter had any inkling of what I was going through. I could barely speak about myself without choking up. The sadness was huge.
Recently, I realized that if I didn’t somehow get a grip that I was going to be in serious trouble although realistically I already was. I remember thinking I was so fortunate to not be feeling suicidal. The only time I’ve felt that way was when I was about 16. I devised a detailed plan but didn’t carry it out. I am glad that for as low as I’ve found myself at times in my life, I am not at risk for unaliving myself. I just plod along in misery. Ya me.
One thing I did during this time period was delve into lots of information about growing up in a home with narcissistic parents. It’s been kind of a two-edged sword. On one hand, it was comforting to find communities of others who have experienced that same hell. On the other hand, it was devastating to realize all that my childhood and adulthood could have been had that not been the situation. I arrived at the understanding that I would need to heal from the trauma I experienced in order to go forward in life in a healthy and grounded manner. But, how? I ordered quite a few books on the subject but wasn’t able to read much of it because it was too overwhelming. Also, my mother in particular caused me so much anguish that reading about her “kind” was like a punch to the gut.
Of course therapy was always recommended for people like me but… pandemic, the cost, and lack of trust in finding one that would be right for me didn’t allow for that. Finally, I thought one day that I had spent enough time and energy on dissecting my upbringing and my parents’ issues and that I should instead just concentrate on healing. Didn’t take very long to feel even more broken when I realized I had no idea how to begin that process.
I persevered though, and eventually began finding helpful content which I kept honing to get to a place where I learned some coping skills… little bits at a time. I am working now on learning how to set boundaries – a skill I never understood or had before, and also how to adequately express my feelings and emotions – which was always suppressed by my parents and still is today by my one surviving parent. I am at the beginning of my healing journey and I understand it takes quite a bit of time to get there fully – if that is even possible. But, the fact that I already feel a weight lifted and I’m not crying as much is so encouraging.
As I’m writing this today, I am amazed that there are words of mine on a page! I feel so happy that I’ve arrived at this point. I realize there will be bumps in the road as I continue along on my healing path but I am feeling stronger at the moment and I believe I can get through this and have a healthier and happier life ahead. I believe I can get my Life back on track again and enjoy it. I can become a better person, parent, friend. I definitely want and need that!
One recommendation I’ve found that is mentioned often which can help with the healing process is to journal, so… here we are! I’ve no idea really how this will proceed, I’m just going to take each day as it comes. I am just glad to have made it this far. 💗