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I like to think that I'm reasonably well read when it comes to psychology but this is an idea which I have yet to come across (I might be wrong so please feel free to correct me). There's been plenty written about how trauma causes depression but I haven't seen anything about how experiencing it can itself be a form of trauma. I've mentioned this to my counselor, albeit in not the clearest of terms. Something along the lines of "But what do I do with all this shit?" But I think it's a key question when trying to overcome it. I've had chronic depression all of my adult life, which has fucked everything up. While most people were forming happy memories which they can fall back on - picnics and flying kites. Shit like that - when I look back it's all crap. Remember when you hated yourself so much that you harmed yourself? Remember when life seemed so hopeless that you wanted to kill yourself? Remember when you felt so alone that you didn't feel like a member of the human race? And if I'm to become a happy and productive member of society then what do I do with this shit? It's a problem with mental illness because it's you. You get cancer or something then it's easy to separate yourself from the illness and hate it (not trying to belittle cancer or say that depression is worse or anything like that. It's different but definitely not better.). It's not separate with mental illness though. So much of it is you, and hating it just means hating yourself. "I don't hate myself, I hate depression" sounds good in theory though I don't know what it means in practice.

Accept yourself! I guess that's the answer. Talking here it's OK because you all know what it's like. In the real world ... I mean say I manage to pull and me and a lady are going to have sexy good times and she wants to leave the lights on? Now, before I get naked I should explain something first. No it's not about my penis, I have a lot of scars on my thighs and I don't want you to be shocked. Mood killer! Yeah look at this record of how miserable and fucked up I've been and get horny baby! But running away from it doesn't work. That was me, and ignoring it makes me half a person at best. Hating it doesn't work either - freak! loser! nobody will understand because I don't want anyone to understand. Better to die alone than to let anyone in and allow them to see all that crap. But that's a shit plan. And I'm trying to get better and sort out my life but dealing with all the shitty memories is an issue, and it drags me back down there.

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When I was symptomatic from 19 to 34 I thought my illness was just a part of me. When I stabilized I was finally able to seperate myself from the illness. I think you have to be completely clear headed to be able to do it. When you’re in the midst of symptoms it begins to feel like it’s your personality. 

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I definitely think living with depression or other serious MI is traumatic, especially if you've experienced thoughts or actions of self harm, or hospitalizations. I can separate who I am from my MI, in that I know that I am more than my MI, but I have a hard time separating my history and things that I have struggled with in the past or continue to struggle with from myself, because here I am living with all of those entrenched bad feelings and their consequences for years of my life. There's also the trauma even when relatively healthy of wondering when will it come back, will I be able to fight it off this time, etc. When I'm feeling my best I can internalize the idea that I have survived these things, and therefore I am strong, but it's difficult to hold onto that idea when symptomatic and I feel like contemptible mush.

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Posted (edited)

I have a hard time sussing out which came first.  I think I was susceptible and started displaying patterns of emotional vulnerability since I was 12.  Sprinkle on some major life events/trauma and then I was a total wreck and my symptoms could look like some other forms of "mental illness" but it was mostly just reoccurring trauma.  As I got away from traumatic events I just experienced dysthymia/anhedonia with what looked like mixed depression.

Doing actual work on this now with low doses of antidepressant to help me sleep.  It's helping.

What I know is when you feel bad everything is bad.  You forgot you left the house to exercise.  You forgot about the things that helped you and made you feel better and you became more closed off to new experience and this keeps you stuck in a negative loop, or self defeating behavioral patterns.

Depression erases a lot of good things.

 

Edited by wookie
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2015-2018ish was a time of severe and horrible depression and anxiety for me. i was passively suicidal a lot of the time and came pretty close to hospitalization at one point. a lot of my memory from that time is foggy and unspecific. that depressive episode was completely life changing for me. it intercepted with (or was exacerbated by) me graduating from high school and starting university. as a result, going back to school terrifies me. not because of the work, or the classes, or the tests -- it's because i don't want to go back to a place where i was so afraid and miserable and self-loathing. i don't want to feel that way again. even now that i'm better than i used to be, i'm still trying to work on seeing myself as a person with value. i'm still trying to figure out what makes me happy. 

when i was really deep in the pit, i used to walk to this highway overpass near where i lived and look over it into the traffic. i would watch the cars go by and think about jumping. i'd stand on the rails to imagine what it would feel like to go through with it. i know a lot of us have been in a similar place here, but i think we can all agree, it's a horrible place to be. it's awful to constantly be looking for ways to off yourself. i don't do that anymore, but it's stuck with me. i just look back on it and it's striking and awful to remember how fucked up i felt.

i think self harm is traumatic too. it doesn't really leave you, even when you haven't done it for months or years. your brain just does not forget the feeling of doing it, or the sight of seeing it. and yeah, the shame afterwards when all you have is scars is amazingly powerful. i don't think that ever really goes away either.

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Another way to talk about this is to imagine someone else doing the things mental illness has made you do to yourself. You say that someone kept you isolated, convinced you that you are worthless, sometimes hurt you and often threatened to kill you?

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On 8/20/2020 at 10:10 AM, Fluent In Silence said:

In the real world ... I mean say I manage to pull and me and a lady are going to have sexy good times and she wants to leave the lights on? Now, before I get naked I should explain something first. No it's not about my penis, I have a lot of scars on my thighs and I don't want you to be shocked. Mood killer! Yeah look at this record of how miserable and fucked up I've been and get horny baby! But running away from it doesn't work.

Just wanted to say, as to your example, I'm female, several visible (obviously self-inflicted) scars scattered over my body, and it has not been an issue that has come up in a significant way during "sexy good times". It may come up, but usually not "in the moment". Maybe because most of mine are on my arms so they're already usually seen long before the question of clothes coming off?

I have seen scars on a guy once that I can recall, on the inside of a guy's arm who I chatted with. I think I asked him about them. So long ago and my memory is crap. IIRC, I haven't seen any scars on guys during "sexy good times" other than from surgery/accidental injury, stretch marks, etc. Then again, I was/am fairly dysfunctional when it comes to men/drinking at certain times in my life so there are blackouts and crazy shit that went down and lord only knows what I may have missed picking up on being so absorbed in my own self-destructive habits.

I have been with men who've dealt with their own various issues/demons. I mean, people are human (or at least most are). So I've found most people can kind of relate, some more than others. It's people that seem totally "normal" that tend to freak me out. I always think they must be hiding something because who gets through life that unscathed? So I don't trust the "normalcy". I'm also afraid I might rub off on the "normal" people and ruin them somehow. I would say the "normal" people I speak of that freak me out are a very tiny minority. And sometimes if you scratch the surface a little bit and get to know them better, they turn out to be not-so-normal after all and that's reassuring to me in a weird way. 

But anyways, back to sexy times...I was just trying to say that at least for me (back before I became a recluse), it's not been a mood killer or deal breaker or anything. Strangers who see my scars (like doctors and nurses and people who draw blood) don't even bother commenting on them for the most part or asking probing questions anymore. They used to back in the late 90s/early 2000s. Maybe because I was younger? Or maybe medical professionals have seen it all now and it's more common or normalized or something? Kind of weird in a way now that I think about it...how the scars no longer seem to raise any more eyebrows or prompt any more questions than having a cute butterfly tattoo would. Or maybe my scars look so old they figure it's ancient history so why bother commenting?

Sorry, turned into "all about me". Not sure this was helpful at all in fact.

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9 hours ago, aquarian said:

Sorry, turned into "all about me". Not sure this was helpful at all in fact.

No it is helpful to hear about your experiences. I do tend to expect the worst from other people. They'll think I'm disgusting or some sort of psycho if they saw that. Would they though? I've gotten better at talking about my mental health problems but there's still the fear that they'll think I'm damaged and broken and best avoided if they knew the truth. "The truth" about me always seems like something awful which needs to be hidden. I'm not an awful person. I'm trying to accept that but saying that much seems so arrogant and my mind revolts against thinking anything good about myself. Nah you're a piece of shit. Thanks brain! I'm not sure if it's so much the fear of what other people will think or that I'm ashamed of who I am and don't want anyone to see. Jesus! I'm a laugh a minute aren't I?

You're a recluse? I was pretty much a hikikomori for more than a decade. It's a Japanese word for someone who has withdrawn from society, and I don't particularly like it because it makes me sound like a manga nerd - I'm not an otaku, but it was apt in many ways. Definitely not good for your mental health to be a recluse. I don't mean to sound preachy or anything, just that I've done that and it was terrible. But don't take life lessons from me. My life is rubbish.

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On 9/3/2020 at 2:33 PM, Fluent In Silence said:

Another way to talk about this is to imagine someone else doing the things mental illness has made you do to yourself. You say that someone kept you isolated, convinced you that you are worthless, sometimes hurt you and often threatened to kill you?

That was literally the start for me.  Once the damage was done I took over from there.  People doing shitty things and trust issues can leave you trapped.

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21 hours ago, Fluent In Silence said:

You're a recluse? I was pretty much a hikikomori for more than a decade. It's a Japanese word for someone who has withdrawn from society, and I don't particularly like it because it makes me sound like a manga nerd - I'm not an otaku, but it was apt in many ways. Definitely not good for your mental health to be a recluse. I don't mean to sound preachy or anything, just that I've done that and it was terrible. But don't take life lessons from me. My life is rubbish.

I try to avoid this.  I am naturally introverted and can be withdrawn in the presence of others.  It's a self protective mechanism but my brain needs some form of socializing even if it's just friendly banter with a grocery clerk.  I just assume we're all fucked up on some level.  I have "normal" friends who have some demons that they deal with daily.  I try to remind myself to just keep trying.

Self isolating causes me to blow up my fears bigger than they are.  It just becomes my own self fulfilling prophecy if I shrink down socially too much.

I try to normalize my experiences.  I have had enough people in my life who had tried to pathologize my reactions to their own fuckery and abuse that I feel I owe it to myself.

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