When you live with depression and anxiety suicide can be deadly!
If you’ve ever heard the phrase, time heals all wounds, you’ll be familiar with the fact that the more time that’s passed since the wounding, the more pragmatic you can be about it. The more circumspect.
I suspect this is a combination of how our memory works and the way our endocrine system rouses chemical activity in extreme moments.
A great deal of discussion has been undertaken about the ‘scarring’ of this emotion producing network in research about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s now reasonably well accepted that one extreme, perhaps life threatening situation can make a person so sensitive to the production of stress related chemicals (adrenaline, cortisol, etc) that a new, elevated base line is set for their production. A new, heightened ‘normal’ is created. That is; the new calm is in fact a highly stimulated (but carefully veiled) state of nervous arousal that has us on alert for any potential ‘danger’.
To the casual observer, being afraid of the most innocuous activity can be seen as quite ridiculous. A walk to the letterbox; A trip to the supermarket; A train ride; can have us quivering in our proverbial boots almost to the point of hysteria. And to what end? To retreat and let our now exhausted mind and body submit to the deriding of our sensible, logical voice berating us for our pitiable attempt to be ‘normal’.
Frankly, this is an agony, a dichotomy between the rational and emotional. Not unlike making a major purchase, the car with better fuel economy is the logical choice. The car with better ‘street appeal’ is the emotional choice. The indecision that emanates between these choices pushes us to begin making the emotional choice a logical one. The ‘street appeal’ will make me feel better about myself which will help me get a better job, that will pay me more money, that will mean I can afford the prettier car!
When we’re dealing with anxiety, we know that there is nothing logical about the fear we feel. We know that the entire world can leave their house without fear. We know the entire world is worse off than we are. We know there is nothing for us to worry about. We know. We know!
But not going out, means not being afraid. That’s a logical choice.
Interestingly, you don’t need to have experienced a traumatic event, for these stress chemicals to be set at a higher than ‘normal’ level. The same as your hair colour or height or toe length! It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a case of that’s the way you’ve been made!! You can berate yourself for not being ‘normal’ but frankly, sooner or later you have to come to terms with it.
To be honest, I’ve had so much counseling that I’m a little bit immune to the niceties of coming to terms with ‘who I am’. Of how my family of origin impacts the way I do life and how making better choices or responding differently will make my life more manageable. If I had a key to the box that holds the answer I’d have already made a million copies to give away. But, that’s not the point.
The reality is, (to me) that life is about being productive. It’s about being engaged (we could call this relationship). It’s about the risk of bumping into situations that you may not want or enjoy and that your ‘emotion producing’ chemicals will act to keep you safe. But it’s also about bumping into situations that have you laughing until your stomach hurts. Stuff that makes us amazingly, wildly happy and wonderfully alive.
You might be surprised to hear that my ‘normal’ tendency is to isolate myself and spend my time ruminating about all the things I’ve failed at. I have a tendency to believe that bad things will happen and that I will have no ability to protect myself (or others). And, I believe I’m so completely f****d up that I’ll never find out who I am or who I was meant to be or what I am meant to do.
The truth is however, that I was created for a purpose. I am here not just because my mother was unable to fully protect herself against another pregnancy (pregnancy was generally not the concern of men). I’m not here by a chance encounter of some lucky piece of pond scum and to be completely frank, I believe if humanity continues to tell us that we are nothing but lucky pond scum, then there seems no reason to fight against a rising suicide rate. You cannot tell people they are nothing and then expect them to rise above it.
If you’ve ever felt that life wasn’t worth living. That the pain you’re in is too much to endure. That the situation you’re in means making decisions you’re incapable of or that you’ve been abandoned and you have nothing to live for (I’ve felt all these things) then, based on the premise that we came from nothing and are going to nothing, the desire to end our life becomes a reasonable and logical decision to make.
However, the trouble is, we were not created for death. That endocrine system that looks after us when we’re confronted with a frightening situation, the system that gives us the strength to stay and fight or to get away fast, tells us when we think of death, that it’s something to be afraid of.
When we justify logically that our death would be a solution to whatever emotional space we’re in then we have retreated to a position that confirms we are nothing. That there is no more to our existence than our own incorrect understanding that there never was a reason for humanity to exist.
If we can convince ourselves to buy the wrong car because of the possibility we might be able to afford it, then surely we can convince ourselves that living provides more hope for a positive outcome than death.
Ambrose Bierce – Logic: The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding.
If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Deb Shugg is an awarded businesswoman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety.
If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor.
(Abuse of another person is NEVER okay. If you are being abused or, if you are an abuser please seek help.)