I’d love to say that I’ve allowed myself to plunge into the darkness again, but the truth is – I allow nothing! I am not someone who has ever sat around feeling sorry for myself, not for more than a moment that is. I refuse to inhabit a victim mentality. I loathe the label of such. Yet, here I am, fully aware that I am depressed. Something I almost never think to myself and certainly never say out loud. Because to do so makes it real – gives it a name. Owning it terrifies me! I’ve struggled my entire life to fight the assault and subsequent consequences of my insidious inner critic.
That is not to say that I was aware of the battle I was fighting; most days I was either unaware or misinformed. Fed a potpourri of psychological diagnosis and pharmaceuticals for as long as I can remember. Always seeking the cure, the answer. The secret to why I felt immeasurably lost and out of balance. Believing that if I looked hard enough, I would find the person who with all the answers. The person who would rescue me from the world – from myself. I never found that person – a futile journey indeed. But worse, not a single soul along the away mentioned that what I may be struggling with is not typical depression, bipolar disorders, or anything of the like. Though to say so seemed the easy solution.
Only after my head-on collision and subsequent breakdowns (“The Fall”), I was forced to make a decision. Sink into the abyss; quit; give up the fight; turn my back on my family or take it upon myself to seek the truth. I discovered the truth in 2015. I was desperate to escape the darkness of my own prison but terrified to take a step in the direction of hospitalization. I had to find an alternative. I was aware within a year of my accident that I was suffering from PTSD but deep down I knew there was more. I wasn’t simply suffering and struggling through the memory and consequences of my accident. My past had also started invading my every thought.
Suddenly, the girl who had avoided, pretended, and disconnected from the hurts of the past was thrust dead center into the muck. Unwillingly, kicking and screaming, literally. Every word I had ever buried – every emotion I had ever stifled – and every tear I had never cried, drowning me alive! I knew I had two choices; dig a deeper trench in which to hide or turn and face it all – EMBRACE it all! Cry the tears. Feel the pain. Seek the truth. “Be who you were meant to be, before disgust, disappointment, and betrayal broke you.” This was my breaking point. I had to act.
I wanted to connect with others who were feeling what I was feeling. People who could understand – fully knowing the consequences of “The Fall.” I considered group therapy or support groups locally, but fear of the unknown slammed the door on that idea. My next option? The internet. I scoured Google for an online support group and came across a wonderful site that houses many types of support groups. Of course, when I first joined I had no idea what I was seeking. I knew I had been diagnosed as bipolar and that I suffered from a form of depression and PTSD. With this knowledge, I joined groups with these headings and began to interact.
This moment was probably one of the most pivotal moments of my life, but it was just a moment. I knew right away that I wasn’t meant to camp here, communing among those who had married their labels and diagnoses. Those who embrace the darkness, all the while begging for the answers to life and light. Don’t get me wrong, many of us have been there, and probably needed to live there for moment or two. We do not however need to take out a 30-year mortgage on a home in the desert. We are just meant to pass through. For this reason, I dipped my toes in, got what I needed and dipped out.
What I learned was amazing. In sharing my story, I found a pattern among survivors of trauma – a pattern that has always existed among those with PTSD and C-PTSD (complex). In one of the forums, I came across a link to Pete Walker’s website. I had never heard of him or C-PTSD, but I was curious. I clicked the link and immediately started reading. It was like unlocking the secrets of the world – my world. Every word dripping with the knowledge and understanding of what I had been through – what I was going through. He was talking to me – he had heard my cries and answered with a resounding “Yes. I understand.”
Where had this information been my whole life? Physician after physician happily labeling me as bipolar, never considering I might be suffering from trauma. Never explaining that trauma disorders are not synonymous to soldiers. I was already having a hard time accepting that I could suffer from PTSD due to a car accident. Truly believing that my accident wasn’t bad enough. Trying desperately to pretend. To continue the facade. “I’ll do the rehab. I’ll get back to work. Everything will go back to normal.” Wave after wave pounding me into the sand. And now this – the possibility that I had unknowingly suffered most of my life.
See, it’s not that I suffer from depression for depression’s sake or because I’m sad. My depression is a direct result of a volatile cycle created inside a lifetime of trauma. Feelings of fear and shame, feeding the inner critic, and turning you against yourself. Instantly transporting you back to a moment in time – a memory, feelings attached that memory, and you react. I used to react much differently, always choosing “flight” over any other response. Yet at times, when the pressure had built up, I would be known to respond with “fight.” These days I’m capable of any response but what I feel the most is the numbness of it all.
My mind and body taking over to protect me from further pain – emotional or otherwise. Shutting down the pleasure center of my brain – keeping me from feeling much joy in anything. A constant undercurrent of detachment and fear. People often think, to be numb is a gift but I disagree. Being numb to the pain and darkness of life means to also be numb to all that is good. How infuriating it is to want to feel joy yet be completely void of it. I am depressed – not because I choose to be but because my mind and body have had enough.
I’ve been here before – I will get through.
“I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought.” Hosea 13:5
Photo by Dikaseva