Out of Despair 2 – Frameworks free and bind

I’ve been doing a big shift in frameworks lately. I was conceiving of my severe bouts of depression and the fibro flare this year as an indication I was doing something wrong. I couldn’t work out what it was, what I needed, where I’d stuffed up. Framing the problem like this was immobilizing me.The mental health framework was offering me another idea, that of ‘depression’. It was presented as a mysterious, incomprehensible illness, striking randomly without warning, disabling and destroying. One you cannot fight, cannot understand. There are meds, there is waiting it out. That is all. This bogeyman was preying on my mind. It loomed larger and larger in my thoughts, bringing with it an incapacitating terror. What if nothing I try works? What if this is part of my life now? What if I never feel better?

These are the frameworks we give to people with psychosis; that it is insanity, incomprehensible, impossible to interact with. Pointless to attempt to understand. Endure. Take your meds. Endure. Hope. Lower your expectations. Don’t listen to the voices.

(I’m not anti meds. You do what works. I work a lot with people they don’t work for. There needs to be more than one approach.)

The framing of the problem was killing me. I tried turning it all around. What if getting sick and being depressed doesn’t mean I’ve done anything wrong? What if I’ve made excellent choices in difficult circumstances? What if my circumstances have changed now and the approach I’ve been using isn’t working anymore? What if I stop everything, let go of all of it, and go back to listening to myself? This letting go has been the most miraculous thing. My heart is singing again. I feel alive, my emotional connections have returned. There’s certainty and focus and hope, where there was terror, confusion, and despair. Language has power. You cannot find the answer when you’re asking a question that don’t permit that answer.

I’m ignoring the bogeyman of ‘Depression’. I’m embracing the idea of letting go, of a retreat, of a cocoon, to build something new. To reconnect with the heart of me.

Take friends. I’ve been a desperately lonely child and young person. I craved human connection and contact, dreamed about having friends I could hug, talk to about things that scared me, people who would support me when I was hurting, remember my birthday, be happy to see me, miss me when I was away. I’ve carefully worked on friendship networks over years and had something catastrophic – like PTSD – suddenly open a Gap I can’t bridge and take them all away. My multiplicity has deeply and strangely affected my relationships. I have trouble building relationships with parts of other, so called normal people, they usually keep buried. I also tended to push relationships hard. There was a big hole at the middle of my life, where very close relationships were meant to be. I took wonderful friendships and destroyed them by trying to make them closer than they were ever going to be. It’s like there was a black hole in the middle of me, and I couldn’t stop it drawing people inwards to something more personal, vulnerable, and intense, than they wanted. So I had nothing instead.

Several years I realised that this loneliness, this yearning need, was killing my friendships. So I disconnected from it. I changed focus and deliberately started seeking out acquaintances. From those, I started to make some slightly more close friends, and so on. I’ve reached a place now where I have a whole network full of really awesome people, more than I can keep up with. For a weird, lonely, mentally ill freak, I’ve been astonishingly successful at rebuilding social support. And I’ve hit a wall, where I can’t let anyone closer.

Because this approach is goal-oriented, top-down, intellectual, disconnected from that lonely, yearning, intense heart of me. Shielding people from it has been effective, it’s helped me build good caring relationships where I don’t bleed all over them, where I’m not raw, prickly, angry, scary, or in their face, most of the time. It’s helped me put my best foot forwards. But it also keeps at bay those I have come to love, walls them off from my vulnerability, cuts me off from my own yearning. So the time has come to let go of one approach, and grasp another.

Out of Despair Part 1 – Language is Powerful

Out of Despair Part 3 – The Tribe

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