Deb Shugg Diary of Secrets Depression and Anxiety

Are thoughts of suicide deadly?

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 Diary of Secrets Depression and Anxiety

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.)

Deb Shugg Diary of Secrets Depression and Anxiety

The way you see it…

When you live with depression & anxiety it’s hard to find the real you.

Amid the multitude of drugs available for treating dysfunctional emotional health symptoms, there doesn’t seem to be anything that leaves us emotionally “in tact”.  The feeling that we are somehow disconnected from our “true” self can have us believing the treatment is worse than the illness.

For some, the distress caused by the treatment is enough to reject it for a life of manic emotional swings, unpredictability and dangerous behaviours.  For others, it’s just that nagging feeling that we’re not quite ‘present’.  That somehow there’s a part of us that’s missing.  But, in a lesser of two evils approach, for me, part of us missing is small price to pay.

I have to confess to feeling a bit disconnected myself recently.  I’ve struggled to write even the briefest of pieces.  I’ve chosen to isolate myself further from the rest of the world and I’m riding an emotional merry-go-round that because of it’s predictability, is entirely boring and unfulfilling.

On top of this, my medication is known to cause weight gain because of it’s (side)effect on whatever part of me processes sugars.  My taste buds have difficulty determining what I’m eating and I am in a state of perpetual tiredness.  In-fact, it’s only the guilt I have over my inability to earn an income, that keeps me from sleeping my life away and dedicated to perfect housewifely behaviour.

And amid all this, I’ve had no significant improvement in my illness.  I’m still stuck!

Mr Me is gracious in his understanding.  He’s tolerant and (mostly) gentle.  (I don’t know how much more gentle he could be!)  And, while his expectations of me sometimes feel unkind, they’re not unreasonable.   After all, who wouldn’t expect an award winning business-person to get up and go to work.   It’s not like I’ve lost my capacity to think!

But here’s the thing, I appear to have lost the ability to feel confident.  In the absence of praise, I automatically default to failure, and by extension, I withdraw.

Now, I can hear you all thinking “how silly”.  Just because no-one tells you, you did a good job, doesn’t mean you’ve done a bad job.  However, from somewhere within my illness, a voice of disbelief is broadcast.   Sometimes it’s so shrill that no other sound can be heard above it and at other times, it’s like rain on a tin roof, a constant drone beneath all other noise.  It’s message, clear and constant, is only to remind me of my ineptness.  My inability to be anything more than my self-perception allows.

This arousal of dissonance, between my cognitive desire to be worthy, acceptable and of value and my cognitive belief that I am a disappointment, seeks a resolution.  Without any external evidence to support the belief that I’ve attained my desires, I must conclude that I am what I believe myself to be.

Of course, we could debate my self-perception for hours on the basis of whether it’s a pre-set biological outcome as a result of the DNA responsible for my being (like Blue Eyes).  Or, perhaps it’s the result of the way I was nurtured (like an Attachment Disorder).  Or perhaps, I’ve acquired a chemical imbalance as a result of increased chemical production due to a life-threatening trauma (as in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).  It could even be the result of an autoimmune type condition, where my body’s own defences kill off any feel good chemicals before I am able to use them (like Type 1 Diabetes).

But for now, it’s not the question of why that drives me to seek a solution.  It’s the how and when that keeps me striving to find a treatment that will allow me move forward.  After all, I was not created for a life of despair.

From Anais Nin:  It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it.

If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Deb Shugg Diary of Secrets Depression and Anxiety

Deb Shugg is an awarded business woman, 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.)

Deb Shugg Diary of Secrets Depression and Anxiety

All the lost children…

On and off throughout my life I have been known to keep a diary of my struggles with depression and anxiety one of which I published as the book, Diary of Secrets.

So I’m no stranger to laying my life out as an example of what living with depression and anxiety (and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Dissociative Personality Disorder) is like and how I cope or not cope as the case may be.

Interestingly, I write because I feel I’m lead to do so. I have a heart for those who believe a diagnosis of an emotional health illness means that they are in some way less worthy than those who do not.  And, I also write for the large number of people, both men and women who have been subjected to sexual, emotional and physical abuse.

These survivors who often struggle with the legacy the abuse has left, not just in a diagnosable emotional illness, but with the shame and humiliation of being unable to protect themselves from the unwelcome and often illegal attentions of others. The feelings that they have somehow ‘submitted’ to unwanted sexual activity and cannot cleanse themselves of the cacophony of emotional responses that cannot, once introduced, be silenced.

In the shadow of Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse there is the lingering and much broader issue of ANY Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Whilst we willingly and rightly so investigate the abhorrent behaviour of institutions charged with the care of the most vulnerable members of our communities, we forget that sexual abuse and violence against children in their own home appears far more prevalent.  And we are yet to establish an ‘enquiry’ or other vehicle to improve our culture’s attitude and response to domestic violence; our sentencing and parole provisions for sex offenders; or our general attitude to sex and sexuality.

To me it seems an easy (I use the term easy quite loosely) task to point the finger at institutions, tell them they acted unconscionably, and hold them in some way accountable.   The current ease of this task is due almost entirely to the victims who would not remain silent on the abuse that occurred and it’s enduring effects.   Those people will be without doubt the heros in any positive outcome this Royal Commission may effect.

It seems a little sad to me, that we have forgotten that the precept of family is the care and nurture of each other. Forgotten that our sexuality is a gift for the giving and receiving of pleasure. Forgotten that the human spirit requires attention. Forgotten that the love we desire is for the benefit of others. And, that we are no more or less feeble than our ability to stay strong in the midst of adversity.

For me, my sexual assault at the age of 9 was the result of a stranger coming to the door of my home where I was home alone. This is possibly the most rare type of sexual assault. An unknown (later known and arrested) offender.

Sexual offenders of children are more often family or friends of family. They’re the people we should be able to trust to respect the sanctity of family. They’re the people it’s the most difficult unveil. They’re the people who are able to use the trust and vulnerability of others to select their victims.  They’re the people who have the ability to coerce and manipulate their victims because they understand what will motivate and silence their victim. They know what the victim will lose as a result of the crime’s exposure.

Sadly I became a victim of sexual assault a second time during my early teens at the hand of a family friend more than 10 years my senior. I was told during many repeated assaults, “you enjoyed it”; “you want it”; “no one will believe you”; “you’ll be in trouble”; “you asked for it”; And, in my naivety I was unable to refute these assertions. (Not the least of which was my seeming ability to attract sexual attention.) After all, this was a person I loved and respected. I didn’t want to expose him because I genuinely liked him. I was prepared to keep his secret because I was fearful of being exposed as the perpetrator. I didn’t want him to get into trouble. And, if anyone had tried to intervene (as happened infrequently and with greater naivety than my own) I could not admit that it was happening.

Enough about me.

How many children are currently at risk or held captive in abusive situations because they are convinced they will be one found guilty? How many children are reluctantly accepting sexual abuse because they are scared of how disclosure will affect the people they love? And most of all, how can we, as a society respond appropriately and meaningfully to an abhorrent crime that seems to be unstoppable.

I think, like the survivors of institutional abuse, perhaps it’s time for the silent majority of sexual abuse victims to unite in a cause that will assist in defining how our society responds to the coming generations who, without change, will endure the same silent fate as those who went before them.

Today, from the scriptwriters for the movie Fried Green Tomatoes: “A heart can be broken, but it will keep beating just the same.”

If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Deb Shugg Diary of Secrets Depression and Anxiety

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.)