My depression and anxiety have worsened. I attribute this to my recent ‘surgery’. It was only something very minor, but to someone with anxiety it was a big deal. I had a general anaesthetic, though I was offered other options, I didn’t want to know a thing about it. Unfortunately one aspect I did know about – when they took the breathing tube out of my throat. When I first woke up I wasn’t really aware it was in there. It wasn’t until they said they’d just take it out for me, I kind of thought ‘s***!!’ – though in a sedated way. Let’s just say it hurt, and I remembered it. I felt more nauseous afterwards than the last general I’d had. And as I’m emetophobic, it was very anxiety-provoking. They gave me more anti-sickness medicine straight away though which helped a little. And sitting up and drinking sips of water also helped. It was not the best experience in the world. Still, it was better than knowing anything else about the procedure.
I had prepared for the anxiety beforehand, and how to cope. What I hadn’t prepared for was afterwards…
The pain and discomfort which would last for several days afterwards. For the first few days to a week, I was living from dose to dose of painkillers. I was merely existing, waiting for the next load of pills. And in between doses I was in bed, dozing. Ice packs, and then finally hot waters bottles were my friends. I couldn’t eat properly, speak, smile or laugh. It was difficult to get through the days. And therein lies the problem…
I had so much downtime, just sitting propped up in bed, feeling sorry for myself – and to begin with all I thought about was the pain, discomfort, and looking after myself. But as time went on and it became slightly more bearable, my thoughts travelled to other places. I thought about how ridiculously horrible this year has been. The amount of people who have died or gotten ill. The people who hurt or abandoned me when I needed them. Besides 2012, this has got to be the worst year of my life.
This way of thinking spiralled my depression. I feel there was a part of me that thought ‘oh crap’ when I opened my eyes after that surgery. When you have a general anaesthetic, there’s a chunk of time you’re completely unaware of. I know some people wake up during it, and some enter a kind of dreamlike state and see things. I saw nothing. There were no dreams. There was absolute nothingness. I didn’t exist. To me that’s ‘peace’. It’s what I’ve never imagined death to be. I’ve always been spiritual and believe that life goes on. I’ve known someone who wants to believe that once you’re gone, you’re gone. That’s it. Nothingness. And that thought has always scared me. But to me, that general anaesthetic was ‘nothingness’. And the thing about nothingness is that you don’t know it exists until there is ‘something’…. until you awaken. I didn’t know I didn’t exist until I opened my eyes and saw the world I knew.
There’s a strange comfort in nothingness. And I’m scared because a slight part of me wants to go back there. My life has been such a struggle and so much pain. And I watch everyone else getting on with their lives, leaving me behind. I feel I’ll never fit into this world. And the heartache sometimes gets too much. And I just want the pain to stop. I want there to be nothingness.
Also, after you’ve had surgery, your friends and family ask after you, and care about you, looking after you. You feel loved. Over time as you get better, this stops. Your family leave you to it and treat you as if you should be better by now. Your friends don’t check in to see how you are. Expectations come leaping back at you. You go back to work, and nobody really gives a s*** about you, as they’re too busy talking about another colleague who was ill for 5 days with flu.
Everything suddenly goes back to normal, but you feel anything but normal. You’re still in pain and discomfort. You feel ashamed for needing the surgery in the first place. You feel depressed and anxious, plus feel hurt that everyone suddenly stops caring about you. You’re ultra-sensitive to the outside world, find it too much, get home and decide never to go out or communicate with anyone ever again. It’s too much. And you fantasise about ‘nothingness’. As anything is better than the depression you feel.
At the end of last week I was in a bad place. Because I had been in bed for nearly a week, in a dark room, silence, I didn’t want that to change. I know how hectic the outside world is. I know that I can’t handle it at the best of times. And I was feeling particularly low. I was scared to leave the house. Just the thought of having to go out the front door and back into life, had me in tears. I didn’t want to go out. And it was only yesterday that I did for the first time.
I found it too stressful, as I knew I would. People didn’t seem to understand my feelings at the moment. And there’s nothing worse with BPD than feeling misunderstood. I’m tempted not to go out again. I’m meant to go again on Friday, but I’m scared to. I can’t cope with other people’s moods. Someone at work was in a bad mood – okay she was ill – but some people, when they’re in a bad mood and ill, they make it known… they take it out on everyone around them. I was feeling like utter s*** yesterday, and I just kept my head down and got on with things. I spoke to people with respect. I can’t stand people who take their headaches, illnesses and bad moods out on other people. I never do that. At home if I’m ill I’ll tuck myself away from everyone. You can’t afford to make enemies out of everyone just because you’re ill.
I just got on with little jobs here and there, and though I was polite to customers and staff alike, I mainly didn’t interact. I could hear them talking to each other and sometimes to me, but the words weren’t fully going in. I couldn’t understand them. Sometimes I could understand them and that was the problem! When they were bitching about someone who had just left I totally ignored it and stayed out of it. I have no room in my heart for bitching like that. I saw the situation in a different way from them anyway and was on the other person’s side. But I listened to their banter and jokes, and usually I’d join in and involve myself in the fun side of work, but I couldn’t even force a smile yesterday.
I think it’s the first time I’ve ever gone out and not put on my happy mask. I think my face probably told everyone the pain and discomfort I was in, but also the depression I feel. It was freeing to be myself, but at the same time I knew I wasn’t so popular for it. It took a lot of energy out of me, and it took until this morning to quieten the noise in my head. I have no emotional or spiritual armour at the moment, so that’s why I can’t go outside the door. There are far too many dragons out there!
I felt pressured into staying longer than I felt capable of yesterday. I was told to be positive and not be so negative about it. But what they didn’t understand is where I am mentally I needed that safety of ‘If I can’t cope or I feel too unwell then I’ll have to go home… but I’ll do as much as I possibly can’…. how is that negative?? I see that as positive. I effectively felt bullied into staying, and since it’s my time I’m donating, all that’s done is made me think ‘Fine, I won’t come in again then, until I feel better, and able to cope’. So at the moment I have doubts I’ll go in on Friday. I can’t cope with certain personalities in there when I’m like I am right now. The last time I went in before the surgery, was the day I had to walk out halfway through so as not to burst into tears or start harming myself. So I already had fears about going back in yesterday, knowing that I’d face those same personalities potentially. But I tried to tell myself they might be really caring this time, as I had my procedure and hadn’t been in for two weeks…. I was wrong. One of them didn’t even know I hadn’t been in last week as she wasn’t in either. And when I shared my state of mind, that’s when she said about being positive and to keep coming in – this coming from someone who has apparently been through the same feelings herself!
I want people to listen to me. If I say I’m not up to doing something then that needs to be respected. If I feel cornered and forced to cope with something that I mentally cannot do at the moment, then I’m likely to have a breakdown, in public, and it won’t be pretty. I need people to understand a few things…..
- Pouring boiling water from the kettle, I didn’t care if I ‘accidentally’ spilled it on my hand.
- I am now able to swallow tablets if I cut them.
- I find ‘nothingness’ inviting right now.
This is not meant in a manipulative way. I just want people to be aware I am scared of myself. This year has pushed me too far already. And I am terrified of the outside world and of reality. So I want to avoid it. I need to feel safe. And unless anyone can provide me that safety net, then I’d rather stay home, in the quiet… in the dark. Some might say that’s not the ‘right’ way to deal with things. But only I know what is right for my soul. It doesn’t mean forever… I just need safety and solitude right now.
I’ve had to come to terms with a lot of things. My beliefs about death are in question. Falling asleep, forgetting about the world, existence and time, and then waking up again, in this year that I wish never happened, it’s too much. Having people stop caring, has made me recall the past. I’m questioning so much at the moment. Nothing feels safe. Nobody feels trustworthy. Everything I felt before the surgery is back, plus new feelings.
I looked it up the other day actually, as I thought there’s ‘post-natal depression’… is there such a thing as ‘post-operative depression’, and oddly enough yes there is. It’s more common in people who smoke, which I don’t…. in people who are single, which I am… in people who have high cholesterol, angina or heart disease – which I’m not aware of having! And in people who experienced high levels of anxiety prior to the operation – which I definitely did!
The thing is, they don’t prepare you for how you might feel afterwards – only in the sense of ‘take these painkillers; do this; do that’ etc. They focus on the physical sides of recovery. They don’t warn you that you might experience mental health issues afterwards. I think the fact I already had mental health issues probably put me at risk.
I don’t know how to overcome this. I don’t know if it’s just something that will pass. But I have to weather this storm alone. Just as I have this year. I have so many grievances about this year… things I can’t get over. Things I can’t stop thinking about. Things I don’t want to think about and can’t cope with. Things I can’t forgive. And this time on my own, recovering has only allowed me to think about it all, and made the depression and anxiety worse.
People could help me out of it, but that would mean me facing reality, which I can’t do right now. I can’t face ‘the public’ in general – in the streets, in their cars, on the bus, in the shops, at work. I can’t face stress and disappointments. I can’t face being let down, hurt or betrayed. I can’t face rejection. I can’t face more people I love getting ill. I can’t face friends not having my back 100%. I can’t face confrontation. I can’t face the unknown…. or the known. It’s all too scary and threatening… and potentially dangerous.
So I will happily wrap myself up in a big ball of bubble wrap for the time being. And unless anyone will bundle me and my ball of bubble wrap into their car, take me somewhere safe and quiet and accept me for how I feel at this point, and ease the pain of this year, then I will gladly stay at home in that bubble wrap. If nobody else will protect my heart and soul, then I must.