Therapy today: Hold on hope

Sometimes I think I want to retrain as a therapist. Other times are like today. I can’t imagine ever having to sit with someone as hopelessly depressed as I am. I hate myself intensely and I’m not sure how I could find compassion for a person like me.

Today I didn’t want to speak. I loathed my words before they even reached my tongue. There was just a swirling mass of bile in my brain that I didn’t want to share with anyone, not even J. I don’t want to possess those thoughts. I’m ashamed and disgusted by them. I am scared of some of them. For whatever reason, I wanted to avoid confessing to their existence.

I wonder occasionally whether I could get by if I totally shut down on myself. I’m stubborn when I need to be and I’m pretty sure I could convince myself not to think a certain way if I made the effort. After all, it worked for almost 20 years of my life.

My psychiatrist describes depression as the mind ‘blowing a fuse’. He says that you can only load so much stress into the circuit before that failsafe is triggered. He probably does have a point. I know I can’t go on denying my feelings, to myself, my wife, J or my family. Not indefinitely. Not without another breakdown and all that entails. I literally wouldn’t survive it.

In therapy today I kept retreating to my withdrawn place. I go silent and my only cohesive thought is generally a lyric from a song I’ve listened to on my walk to J’s. It’s dissociation for sure. I know if I stay focused on those few words I can remain guarded against what really wants to come up.

Of course, J knows this. She recognises when I am cutting myself off and trying not to feel. But I get so bored of telling her that what I feel is despair. I don’t want to keep repeating how much I despise myself. It’s an old strategy of isolating myself in the darkness, for fear of what sharing it would mean. As a child, that was protecting my parents from my feelings. I thought if I could make sure they were OK, it wouldn’t matter that I wasn’t. That’s a behaviour that is deeply ingrained.

J always says she sees a conflict in me. She calls it; ‘I want to have an impact / I don’t want to have an impact’. I want my parents to change, but I don’t want to hurt them. So I wedge myself in a hopelessly stuck place going back and forth between the two. She often reminds me that if I don’t voice what is going on for me, we can’t work through it. I know that, but I’m still trying to deny I even have those thoughts.

Rage is one that I really push down. I know it’s there. J knows it’s there. But I see no point in ranting about it. I can’t stand how angry I am, so I work really hard to ignore it. Today she asked me about my anger and it just made me feel sadder and more emotional. I don’t want to be an angry person. I particularly don’t want to be angry at my family. So I try and avoid talking about it. I have no idea how I can ever reconcile with my parents, grandparents and all our family friends who let me down so significantly when I was a child. If I start acknowledging the anger, I get scared I won’t ever move forward.

I called this post ‘hold on hope’, because that song has been playing in my head since I got home this evening. It’s a tune by Guided by Voices, with a few pertinent lines that are stuck with me; ‘Everybody’s got a hold on hope, It’s the last thing that’s holding me’. I feel like everyone who cares about me is holding hope on my behalf, and that’s all that holds me right now. I don’t feel it, but I need it. And I know that’s what I have to find to get through this – hope for myself.

Photo: Sean McGrath, Creative Commons.



4 Comments Add yours

  1. oake31 says:

    Anger or rage is a frightening and powerful emotion, sitting on top of deep hurt. She is guarding and protecting the little hurt princess that you have looked after in your fortress for many years.
    Depression in Latin means “to depress” my therapist like your psychiatrist always refers to my depressive states as what I am depressing/pushing down
    I hear your words Laura and the pain you are in, keep that hope and it will pass
    I am sure your words help many going through this journey in therapy. I relate to every word you say x
    ‘Healing through feeling’ there is no way around it

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I want to share my “angry” post with you:

    I have a blogger friend who has a good term for depression — she calls anger a “lying @sshole”. I’ve thought about that and it pretty much makes sense. Never thought of anger that way … but it helps me when I get depressed to call depression out, for what it really is.

    Sorry you’re where you are today. ❤ Keep writing! Please.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura Black says:

      Thanks for that. I’ve also been told that depression is anger turned inwards. That made sense to me too.

      Liked by 1 person

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