Monday, September 14, 2009

That Which Does Not Kill You

Posted by Anonymous.

There's this thing in my head that I can't bring myself to talk about. Oh, I'll talk about the very big burden that sits on top of this thing, that everybody knows about. But nobody knows about the thing in my head. The thing is part of the bedrock of my mind. It is not a challenge to be overcome. It is something that is; something that has been there all along. Sometimes I can tap dance right over the top of it, completely disregarding it's existence. Sometimes I can steamroll it with a series of events and activities. But the last six months have torn away at the bedrock, flipped it over and exposed all kinds of things, gouging at the familiar landscape of my mind and completely changing my perceptions about myself.

But what to do with this thing? I am not a secretive person by nature. I like people to know what's going on with me. If I struggle, I don't mind people knowing that I struggle. If I'm happy, I like to share it. If I screwed up, chances are you'll hear it from me first (if I'm aware of it). But I don't know how to articulate this thing, and I don't want to know about it. But the longer I don't speak it, the larger it looms and the more distorted my perception of certain situations becomes.
For a year now I've been trying to write a thesis. I have not made much progress. This lack of progress makes me feel foolish, stupid, worthless, unprofessional. I know I am none of those things. I am a wife and mother, daughter and sister, friend and coworker. I know I am loved and valued. That is what keeps me from telling anybody about what actually has been going on inside my mind for the past six months. The thought of trying to finish my thesis actually sparks recurring thoughts of cutting my arms or of swallowing handfuls of pills. I have never been suicidal in my life. I don't want to die. I have no idea why these thoughts take shape in my mind, but I can see them vividly. They impress themselves upon me multiple times a day.

When I'm not feeling the pressure, the thoughts are not there, but when I am, they are frighteningly present. Just yesterday I went to the bathroom medicine cabinet and checked to see if we had razor blades and did a quick inventory of the medicine bottles. Their presence comforted me. And all of this I did rather matter-of-factly. I did not contemplate it. I just up and walked in there and did it with the same absentminded mechanics as one gets up to reach a ringing telephone. It was what the moment called for, it seems.

I know that some people who know me, who are around me, can see that something is wrong. A couple of dear friends have told me so. But what they see is the surface--the stress, not the depths--the darkness. And what they probably assume is that once the thesis is finished the stress will go away. What they don't know, what I hesitate to tell them, is that I don't know that it will. I am scared that it won't. I am not a fearful person, but that scares me. Some things, once their strength is tested, are forever weakened by the test even though they pass. I have never thought of myself as weak, but I do now.

I try not to feed these thoughts by worrying and wringing my hands about them. I use conversation, television, blogging, Facebook, obsessively cleaning my kitchen, and basically the daily activity of life to try to simultaneously avoid it and make sense of it. I want to be clear: I have NO intention of carrying out what I see in my mind. But I fear what might happen if I don't find a way to deal with this. Getting out of one's own head is not an easy thing to do, especially when the landscape is so unfamiliar. It's a very strange and disconcerting to feel truly lost in one's own mind. To not recognize one's own tendencies or desires or motivations. The temptation is to explore, to try to figure it out, to solve the puzzle. But the landscape here is rather scary. I don't want to know where it leads.


Jenni said...

I say this with all my heart: GO GET HELP!

You may have no intention of following through...NOW, but you may not be able to control that intention.

Go to a counselor, talk to your advisors who are supposed to help you through this thesis process, go call a hotline, I wish I had one for you, but I'm sure someone will leave a link. GO GET HELP!

Sometimes family and friends can't get you through this time.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever thought of clinical hypnosis as a way of determining what is going on inside? It really helped me. I read your post and I see someone who perhaps loathes this aspect of oneself who is not getting the thesis done. I noticed that you don't want to know more about this "thing." Why not? There is a chance it may just go away....OR? What happens if you don't write the thesis at all?

Anonymous said...

There is nothing harder then asking for help. Now for the next step, find a counselor/therepist and get yourself a could be something as simple as your thyroid..or as complex as letting out all that fear to a stranger. Wishing you well


Anonymous said...

Maybe you are subconsciuosly afraid of what it will mean once the thesis is done (ie: will you be expected to get a job in your field? Do you still love that area of work? Are you scared to be done?).
What concerned me is that you "say" you would never do it, but actually getting up to check if you have razor blades/pills on hand is a very conscious step to doing it.
Please get help!

Anonymous said...

I've been there. Soooo there. Just now dragging myself up out of the darkness. 1) Talk to your dr. about it. Anti-Anxiety meds may help. 2) Ask your Dr. to refer you to a therapist. No one but you needs to know and you need to get these scary thoughts (not just of suicide) out in the open so you can deal with whatever is there. Some of us bottle up our feelings and anger and stress --and this is how it comes out. Whatever you're trying to escape can't possibly be as bad as the chaos your mind is in right now--take it from someone who has been there. Please let us know what you decide to do. I'll be rooting for you....

Amelia said...

A bit of confusion - is the darkness you are feeling caused by "the thing" you have in your mind, or is the darkness itself "the thing"?

Either way, please find someone to talk to transparently about this - preferably a good counselor. There is no reason to have to feel this way! *Prayers.*

Heather said...

Perhaps you don't want to finish it. Are you happier if you don't? Who cares if you don't? Do you? There are far too many people I know doing things I know they hate doing but do because they think they have to...or should. It's never easy being somewhere you don't want to be, especially if you tried so hard to get there.
Instead of contemplating suicide, perhaps you should be contemplating your future...and the happiness it can hold for you, once you are doing what makes you truly happy.

Anonymous said...

3 Words:
Go. Get. Help.

The sooner you do, the sooner you feel better. There is no shame in talking to somebody who is trained to help people in your situation.

I put it off, and I couldn't believe that after only a few sessions I started feel so much better. I couldn't believe I waited for so long to find someone to talk to.

I told myself that I had no way of finding a "good" therapist. I love my primary care dr and true to form, she referred me to a great therapist.

You don't need to feel this way, and hiding it by keeping yourself busy is not the answer.

Gina said...

Tell someone. Pick someone you love and trust and TELL THEM what you are going through. There is nothing to be ashamed if - many people have felt the way you feel. But it's important to find someone to talk to. Do it for yourself and everyone who cares about you. Do it now.

mamabird said...

I've been there, too. And getting help was amazing. Terrifying, but what life can be like after is so worth the hell it was to work through all the black sludge that was clouding my brain and my life.

Anonymous said...

I'm where you are right now. And I don't know what to do about it, either.

flutter said...

please please get someone to help you.

Anonymous said...

I have a very good and long-time friend. He comes from a family in which his mother and father teach at Princeton. They both have wikipedia entries. He graduated suma (sp? I am not suma cum laude) cum laude Harvard. Then Hopkins for grad school. Then the thesis. Nothing worked. Nothing helped. Zoloft helped him, but not the thesis thing. Miserable. Pressured. Depressed.
Then he decided to put it away for a bit. Now he's, well, he's a very highly regarded critic and he got the gig b/c the they came courting him.

Maybe this isn't applicable, I don't know. But I guess I'm saying there are a whole bunch of roads on the map, not just the one you're on right now.

Get help. Talk about it. But also consider the other roads.