Sunday, October 15, 2006

Timor mortis conturbat me

The preceding, as the devout amongst us will readily recognise, is a line from the Office of the Dead. It is part of the Liturgy of the Hours, and is normally read on All Soul's Day. It means, literally, "the fear of death confounds me", or more commonly, "I am scared to death of dying".

Why bring that up? (the actual title of a book on seasickness written between the wars, when people probably needed something to distract them)

Well, it was true for a fortnight or so. It's part of the reason I haven't written for a while. Part of the reasons is because I have been a bit low - I am still so.

I will try to explain what this is like, although I suspect I cannot.

For me it is the somatic symptoms - weird sleep, initially waking early in the morning, always tired, wanting to be in bed by nine, then eight. There's the usual voracious eating - I've gained four kilos in two weeks, I lumbered back into the gym today.

Then there's the purely cerebral stuff. I get a mind full of odd thoughts, ideas about the past and the future and how I must make recompense for my many sins. I get rumination, my mind going over and over on things, scoring furrows deeper and deeper into the earth. Like a bullock-cart or a blindworm, each time you go down that track you make it deeper, each time you think that thought you make it stronger, neurons entangle and make stronger connections.

And there's that strange, almost inarticulable feeling of fear, that focussless, formless fear, a fear intransitive. I get a feeling of almost physical pressure that gets me in open spaces, a sensation that some vast weight is going to crush me, that there is something solid and massive in the sky above me, a sensation that I am a cripple on an anvil. Something is coming, something crushing and killing, and I don't know how to run or hide from it, and perhaps it is better that I do not.

And of course, the endless mental judo where I try to convince myself of how people will be better off without me, how the ripples of even something like this fade away, how people will get over it. Deeply stupid thoughts, and ideas that cannot withstand even a moment's analysis.

If anyone is reading this, believe what I am saying because I have seen. Suicide damages the survivors, those around you. And it selectively damages only those who love you, the ones you wish to hurt the least. There is no way of preventing this, no way of insulating them. The more they love you the deeper they will be hurt.

Anyway. Things are on the up. I went out a few nights ago and had what had all the appearences of a good time. The problem with my friends, family and workmates is that they are basically ornery - they refuse to co-operate with my feelings of worthlessness, self-loathing and guilt when I am depressed, and still write, visit, chat, etc. It's difficult to lie hunched in bed, softly singing "Are you loathsome tonight?" and reflecting how I am alone in the world when people keep on talking to /texting/emailing me.

Plus, not even the most determined narcissist - and there is an aspect of some depression that is that, that is a form of dependent, needy narcissism - not even a florid monomaniac could feel his/her problems were worse than those of my patients.

To give a taste of this, one of my patients today was estranged from her family because her husband had run off with her sister (after informing her that her niece was actually fathered by him). This was before the house burnt down but after the tribal punishment.

In terms of betrayal this ranks alongside the woman who found her husband in bed with her mother, and the three (count 'em, three) women in the last six months whose male partners left them for their daughters.

At least one girl I know (sixteen, this was when I was at that Child and Youth Health place) was ejected from the family home by her mother (thirty four) because mother didn't trust her in the same house as the new boyfriend (twenty five) , because he'd already made appreciative comments.

You don't get to be poet laureate by being stupid.

Anyway. Things are on the up and are largely better. No more whining. Will blog more soon, and will now go off and read other people's stuff.



Blogger Niamh Sage said...

Ha! That last verse is particularly compelling. I like the wording very much (of all of it, actually).


I think you're brill.

11:03 PM  
Blogger lauritajuanitasanchez said...

I can relate to every word of this.

8:31 PM  
Blogger Juanita J. Sanchez said...

Thank God for those horrible, ornery friends and family who refuse to cooperate! You remind me of a friend I once had: intelligent, articulate, engaging, funny, bipolar...unfortunately, he wasn't as wise as you are in evaluating his choices.

11:19 PM  
Blogger Foilwoman said...

Like Juanita (Why did Laurita and Juanita's mother give one daughter the middle name that was the first name of the other daughter? It's a mystery.), I'm glad your friends and family are so hardheaded.

And you, BJ, don't remind me of my not-soon-enough-to-be-ex-husband, who is mentally ill but also stupid. It is so heartening to see the stuggles associated with such a disability explained, analyzed, and put into context. And anyone who likes the Larkin poem obviously has his head screwed on straight anyway. Just saying.

10:36 AM  
Blogger Juanita J. Sanchez said...

Foilwoman, our poor mom doesn't deserve the blame. We are self-named, dating back to 7th grade Spanish class. Twenty-five years later and we're still getting a giggle out of it.

12:45 AM  
Blogger Gothqueen said...

Love your description. When I was at the point you are now, I described it as feeling like you have just jumped out of a plane without a parachute!

& if you ever find the secret of reversing the voracious appetite - PLEASE don't keep it too yourself. I've gone up 2.5 sizes in 12 months & feel like a whale.

11:08 AM  

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