Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I'm okay... and an explanation of sorts

I've had so many emails, facebook messages, and texts since my last post. I really appreciate how much my real life friends and family and my bloggy friends care about me.  I felt like it wasn't right for me to just vanish for over a week after such a sad post.

I am doing much better and I think it is because I hit on why I had a sudden case of depression.  I'm a fairly introspective person and I am forever searching for the "why" to everything.  To be honest, I think the world just got to me.

Let me explain..... when I was in college I hit my lowest moment ever with depression.  I did try to commit suicide and I was hospitalized for 3 days at a local mental health facility and then at a hospital outside of Atlanta for two weeks.  In addition to the depression I was suffering from PTSD stemming from sexual assault.  I had had my low moments in the past, but for some reason that spring of 2003 was horrible.  Constant flashbacks. Terrifying nightmares.  Dissociation.  And yes, I had even gotten to the point of not bathing.  I cared for Hope -- but only the physical aspects.  She was fed, clothed, bathed, and I numbly read children's books to her, but I was not emotionally present.

In my post-suicide attempt recovery I was talking with a therapist and trying to figure out what made everything so bad.  She randomly asked me about my course work... some English classes.... and a Gender and the Global Environment class.  She asked me more about the class and I explained that we discussed different issues each week:  Bosnian rape rooms, female genital mutilation, honor killings, sexual trafficking, rape culture, forced marriages, domestic violence, and all of the equally awful discrimination and violence towards gays, lesbians, and transgendered persons.  I cried and heaved and sobbed while I explained this class to her.... it was a great class and taught by one of my favorite professors, but it just really impacted me emotionally.

When I came home from class and looked at my beautiful, sweet, vivacious, and trusting toddler daughter and I couldn't fathom how I would ever be able to tell her how bad the world is... and yes bad things happen to boys but the world is just stacked against girls.  I felt helpless and guilty. While I ate my eggs at breakfast somewhere in the world a woman was having acid poured on her because she is a victim of rape.  When I complained about staying up until 4am to write a paper in the back of my head I felt guilty because ... hey... at least I wasn't forced to work in a brothel at the age of 7.

The world weighed on me.  I could consciousness raise, donate money, protest, write, learn.... and it seemed like if one problem of gender-violence was addressed another popped up in its place (pssss... I won't go into my patriarchy + capitalism + heteronormative ideology means that if you are not a 1st world straight white man you're screwed...).  What made this information all the more painful is that I know what it is like to be repeatedly raped, mocked, and physically hurt.  That vulnerability, shame, and terror is unique.  You may be able to feel sorry for people hurt by sexual violence, but once you go through it yourself ... let's just say you cannot even imagine what it is like and trust me, you don't want to.  So I'm thinking about all the women and girls worldwide experiencing various types of sexual exploitation and violence and I'm taking the feelings from that nightmare I lived through and I'm multiplying it my hundreds.... thousands.... maybe even millions.

Does it make sense to you why I thought of giving up the world?

I think I've ended up in another place where the world was getting me down but this time it isn't sexual violence ... just the ever presence of death...first Piper died of cancer... and that just wasn't fair.... then a few months later one of my best friends was in a horrific car wreck.  She is alright...but initially all I knew was that she had been life-flighted and I had this horrifying fear she would die..... then that tragedy in Aurora struck.

I was horrified that someone would walk into a theater and just start shooting.  Why?  It makes no sense and it hurts my heart.  Then there are two things about the situation that bother me on top of the sheer violence and cruelty:
  1. Oh let's make it political..... the Left says this is a call for stricter gun control laws.... the Right says give everyone guns!  Then James Holmes would have been taken out by the theater audience.  Both sides are not functioning in a realistic world and the constant rhetoric is making me nuts.
  2. In America, we are HORRIFIED when someone invades our safe spaces (home, theater, school, bus, subway) and commits a violent crime. How many times have I read or heard about a bus bombing killing a dozen people in another country and no on blinks an eye? Oh because that's them over there not us... Does anyone care that the Syrian death toll is over 19,000?  Humm... anyone?  I have yet to met one dratted -- okay I know of one other person -- who is even aware of what is going on on the other side of the world.  
Yeah... the world was getting to me again... and I think over emotional pregnant lady plus world badness is getting me down.  Now that I know what is bothering me it is much better.  I read somewhere on facebook that someone's mom told them that when horrible things happen one should look for the helpers.  For example, some of the medical personnel who helped after the shooting worked 40 hours in a row... those are people who really care. There are bad people... and death... and atrocities... but during these times you can see the good people really are good.  They shine. I need to focus on that.

Also, a note about the cutting statement:  As soon as I published my last post I regretted it.  I didn't want anyone to KNOW.  I've oddly always prized myself on being a secret cutter. Oh, yea... I'm not one of those slice up my arms so everyone can see and I've mocked showy cutters for their lack of being able to handle the pain on their own.  This is fucked up logic... it is like an anorectic mocking a bulimic or an alcoholic berating a heroin addict.  I still have an unhealthy problem... it doesn't really matter why or how I do it.

It really bothered me that now I'd told everyone and I was open to judgement.  But folks haven't been judgey at all.  To be quite honest, I'd thought about "coming out" as a self-mutilator because I get tired of erroneous perceptions of mental illness.  Yes, I am a 32-year old professional, wife, and mother of 2.5 kids and I cut.  I'm not an emo teen weeping in the corner.  Mental illness,depression, addictions, harmful behaviors reach across age, gender, race,nationalities and isn't limited to one type of person. . In fact, I function better when I cut.... I am as calm as a placid lake because I've physically handled my emotions.  When I'm grumpy or snappish or critical it probably means that I am not cutting.  I'm working on how to better handle my emotions and on dumping all of that guilt/punishment bullshit.

Now I've posted more than I meant (I tend to do that). I am still plugging along and I will be back to regular posting in August.  I do feel much better and I feel that I am dealing with things constructively and that really gives me a sense of purpose and hope.

Thanks for being good people and listening!


Chris said...

Oh I really do love you, Amanda...for statements like this: "Mental illness,depression, addictions, harmful behaviors reach across age, gender, race,nationalities and isn't limited to one type of person" and for so much more. I really am sorry for everything you've been through :( We have a treatment program here at the hospital that treats PTSD and I see the life long pain that people go through as a result of sexual abuse. I went through my own crap as a child and don't really talk about it and I guess I'm one of the lucky ones who have managed to not live a life with dissociations and suicidal thoughts, but I can totally understand how someone can get there. Anyway...thanks for writing posts like these, Amanda...They're important posts not just for you, but I promise you they make differences in other people's lives too. A friend once wrote a post very similar to this that changed my world in all good let me unsilence myself, and I would bet someone will see this post and it will do the same for them. *hugs*

Giggly said...

I have been in the same head space as you recently, but I have been forcing myself to remember what Mr Rogers said, Much like what your friend's mom said... "When I was a boy I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, Look for the helpers".

Sometimes it is really hard to keep that in my mind, But it's the only way I am surviving.

I really appreciate your honest posts. YOU are one of the helpers. :)


Andi said...

I completely missed your previous post until now, but I'm glad to see this post and that you're exploring your thoughts and emotions. I love you to pieces so so so much. If talking (or typing or writing) ever help, I'm always willing to listen, be a sounding board, or just be here for you. Love and hugs, my friend.

Lindsey Sparks said...

Just wanted to drop in and tell you I'm thinking about you. I hope you feel better soon and can work through this. It took courage to admit you cut and hopefully that will help you heal. I know when you're in a fog of depression you can't understand why people like you, but we really do! :) I always enjoy reading your blog, whether you're posting about books or family stuff or whatever. You always have something interesting to say.

Eva said...

I've been out of blogosphere, but this post really resonated with me Amanda. I regularly read nonfiction books that make me weep, because they're about shitty things that happen to people, especially women, all over the world. I pick up these books knowing that they'll make me tremendously upset, because I think it's important to be a witness. But, I also make sure that I only read them during times when I'm feeling emotionally strong, that I have plenty of comfort reads/watches on hand for distraction, and that I space them out. When I have a fibro flare-up, my serotonin levels get really low, so I have to be v careful w myself to avoid slipping into depression. Sadly, that means I have to cut pretty much all international fiction from my reading during those times-I mean to write a post one day about how publishers tend to favour 'issue'/depressing international fiction. Anyway, my point is I can understand how all of that added up to not wanting to be in this world anymore.

I don't watch *any* tv news whatsoever. Ever. In fact, I won't even let friends & family talk to me about the horribly depressing stories they inevitably hear on the news that are actually utterly pointless to know about. Because they haunt me.

I'm fortunate in that outside of my fibro serotonin issues, I've only experienced actual depression once. It was awful, and lasted for a few months, and it was just so, so bleak.

Eva said...

Whoops! Didn't mean to hit publish.

Anyway, I think it's brave & good that you shared all of this, and I'm sending you lots of good thoughts that you'll make it to your one year in September.