Friday, March 28, 2014

Come So Far, Yet Still So Far To Go

There are a lot of things I'm still trying to come to terms with about my life, my illnesses (mental and physical), who I am, who I want to be, regrets, mistakes, worries, dreams...

I underestimated just how much I would end up turning my life inside-out and completely upside-down by leaving my 7 year marriage and beginning the long journey towards finding my own independence. I am constantly learning things about myself and about those around me, both strengths and weaknesses. The most interesting realisation is just how VERY skewed my thoughts and emotions are from my mental illness and experiences up until this point. One of the most difficult symptoms to deal with from depression and other mental health disorders is that you are, to put it bluntly, delusional. Your brain cannot tell the truth from the utterly disgusting lies it is creating. As I've been in treatment, I've understood this to be true, but the actual extent of it is still surprising to me.

The harsh truth of the matter is that my marriage was an extremely unhealthy relationship for me, and I'd even go so far as to label it emotionally abusive overall. Not intentionally, of course. And you can forgive a lot of things based on good intentions. But still, intertwined with the abuse was co-dependence and the roles of carer and caree, and so I felt trapped long before the actual marriage ended. While I've escaped it physically, there are so many mental traps I keep falling into; 7 years of habits and thought processes I need to unravel and unlearn. This process will be slow, and part of the solution is simply going to be time.

Recently, I have finally understood that how easily I forgive and forget, which I always considered a good thing in relationships, is also a huge weakness for someone recovering from a situation such as mine. I'm the sort that doesn't anger easily and, if I do reach that point, I tend to calm down quickly afterwards and it's like it never happened. Where it becomes problematic is if I allow myself to forget about things that are actually quite hurtful and damaging for me and happily jump back into the same situation all over again, often because I'm clinging to whatever I feel is still good. Recently, I got caught in an unhealthy cycle with a close friend which was really painful and terrible for both of us. Despite the fact that I agreed I needed the space as much as he did, I find my mind ignoring how hurt and angry and self-destructive I've been over the past couple months and simply missing what's now gone from my life. And once that begins, I start falling down the hole of self-blame and guilt and begin to believe all the lies my depressed, anxious brain always whispers to me. It feels like a vicious maze my mind has trapped me in that's so well hidden I didn't even realise it was happening until now.

I was on the edge of that abyss tonight, beginning to fall, when somehow I was able to pull myself back and say NO, it was a horrible place to be in your life and you don't want to go back there! Like, it was a shock to me that I ever really forgot in the first place. I am so trained to squash down all of my negative emotions and feelings to, I don't even know what... keep the peace? Tolerate terrible situations? Fool myself into thinking I needed certain things to be 'whole' or 'healthy', despite how blatantly that isn't true? I haven't really sorted it all out, even if I can see the pitfalls in my own mind. That is a conversation I will be having with my therapist the next time I see her.

Mostly, I was just horrified at how natural it was, and still seems to be. It's like I will keep getting dragged back there against my will if I'm not vigilant enough against my own thoughts. I wrote huge notes with a texta which now live above my monitor:




The fact I feel the need to have a constant reminder in front of me is still pretty frightening. I've been questioning what other thoughts and behaviours I need to examine and pour over with a fine-tooth comb to find what else I trick myself into believing, as naturally as my body makes me breathe. I mean, I've been in therapy a long time now. I'm pretty aware of a lot of things that my brain makes me think that are simply not true, and I'm much better at talking myself through things that I was resistant to before. The idea that there's still so much there under the surface, in my unconscious, that is holding me hostage to my mental illness... that I'm still so beholden to my broken mind... can you even imagine that? Anyone whose experienced depression and anxiety and related disorders will have some idea, of course. I just imagine it must be unfathomable to most of the world who don't fight with their brain and thoughts constantly that something could be so very wrong with it, so wrong that you have absolutely no idea it is remotely wrong in the first place.

I've been going through a bad bout of insomnia the past couple weeks, so I'm not entirely certain this is making sense outside of my exhausted 5am brain... but I guess the bottom line is that I'm a bit scared. Not because my illness is so severe, because I've battled it most of my life. I've made enough improvement to know that I WILL beat this, in the end. I'm just wary of how far I have yet to go. It's a lot further than I thought it was, even just yesterday. What I don't lack, at least, is determination, and strength from pushing myself as much as I have already.

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