The Suffering of Not Feeling Pain

Sometimes my heart contracts and closes. I picture a hollow metal sphere divided into segments. Sometimes it opens like the petals of a flower.

My being is designed to find the things that give it nourishment, pleasure, wellbeing. Having located them – grasp for more of them. Meanwhile ignoring or rejecting sources of pain.

Opening myself up to be vulnerable to the pain of rejection or failure or shame actually is an experience that brings me great nourishment for the soul. To risk and be vulnerable is truly exhilarating. To connect with someone completely and be present for them is like peeling off my skin and letting the wind hurt the raw sensitivity underneath. The risk of such pain or rather the risk of really really feeling any pain is high. The thing that changes is my ability to feel. Then I realise that so much of the time I have chosen to not feel.

When I close down it can happen like a gradual grinding of rock slowly eroding definition of the world to a Henry Moore esque view of life. Rounded pebbles where there were sharp defined edges, missing details and the uniqueness that every thing and moment possesses. Or, my heart can snap shut, fast and reactive, closed against the possibility of hurt, reacting to anger or threat or rejection.

But the very act of closing withers my soul. The mistaken act of keeping out threat hurts. Each tiny closing of my heart twists an exquisite pain into my psyche, a snapping shut hurts so much that I just go numb. Too much pain to bear too fast.

I repeat the closing despite the hurt. My psychological reflexes shut my heart fast to keep out the pain.

Sensations keep me alive, but I shut them out. Closing down is like poison but I keep drinking it. When something makes me shut down I think I am frightened of pain. But actually I am frightened of being alive.

Creating and loving scar tissue

So readers…. I was very affected by Michelle Weber’s post this week. Very moving, courageous and sad. It rather opened old wounds. That’s okay, I mean life is about learning to create and love scar tissue. But today for a while I need to think out loud.

Some colleagues at work were talking about suicide. One in particular, he is very religiously driven and had loud opinions on suicide being failure a giving up.

The compassionate side of me sees his fear, in the face of despair to judge may be a sign that to contemplate that despair is just too painful.

The threatened part of me thinks that if I were to kill myself that he would just say I was a failure. It’s a kind of strong negative feedback loop. It tells me that the fact that I think about suicide on a daily basis means that I am a failure, so therefore I should just kill myself.

The fact that the threatened part of me had a longer paragraph than the compassionate is interesting. I have more fear than compassion….. I should feel more compassion for frightened me…… hmmm I’ll work on that.

End of transmission


Noisy Medication

I am a musician and sound is significant to me. Pitch, rhythm, timbre I notice it all. I hear the regularity of footsteps and how some people seem to pound the ground as they walk what energy they spend on each step, I often stop to ponder wonder why.

So it is not that strange that one of the ways I have experienced anxiety and depression is as a kind of background noise. I saw one person on Twitter refer to it as a kind of tinnitus. In my darkest times my head feels very noisy, I don’t hallucinate as such, but somehow I can’t hear myself think. At the worst points my head is bursting with undecipherable screaming and shouting.

Once, after meditating – Mindfulness of Breathing – I suddenly was aware of silence in my head. It was as if I’d taken off very loud headphones. The relief was enormous. My muscles  relaxed and everything felt okay.

I do take medication over the years different kinds. One thing about medication is that is feels a bit like background music. It increases the noise in my head, but sometimes that’s a good thing because it helps to drown out the hiss of depression. But, when I’m feeling better I become aware of the noise from the medication, the muzak suddenly becomes annoying.

Just now my head is quite quiet and I’m aware of the fact, I feel well. That’s the other thing. The whole idea of noise is something I’m only aware of when it stops then, I frequently have another thought at the same time. Somehow, I know it was a part of me all along making all the noise.

Darkness that feels permanent

In the last few years it could be said that I’ve ‘come to consciousness’. Meaning that I”m more self aware and that I stay in the moment, some of the time. I’d like to think it was most of the time but I know that actually I stay in the moment for fleeting moments.

But the flip side of this is the darkness. Previously I knew this as a foggy confusion. Now I see it – I name my demons. Depression, suicidal ideation, despair.

For the physicists among you, I see it as ‘intensity is conserved’. Meaning that however good I feel in one moment is matched and balanced by the darkness I may feel in another. It can taint my positive moments but doesn’t really lift my darkness.

I’m there just now. There is a recess of my consciousness knows that it is the flip side to knowing real joy. But it is so dark. My worry is that in a moment of weakness / impulsivity / despair that I’ll do something that I regret. I do want to live, but sometimes it is so hard. Like now. It’s a ‘What’s the point !’ moment. I may derive much meaning from some moments. but this particular one feels hopeless.

The isolation feels complete.

What a thought!

Quote

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “It’s a Text, Text, Text, Text World.”

The difference between me talking in the real world and writing in the blogoshpere is that this is my stage. This blog is my world. People may reply, respond. But nobody gets to interrupt. Nobody.

So I can think or write as slowly as I choose without fear of somebody finishing my sentence or stealing my punchline. So, I can write at my speed, be as spontaneous or deliberate as I want.

I have enough followers to know that someone will read this. Whereas in the real world every time I speak I may think ‘Did anybody hear this?’.

So there is a guarantee of being heard……. WOW  that’s a thought !

Noticing the signs

Depression –  I am getting a little better at noticing the signs.

My usual routine can unfold over months or weeks and goes something like this :-

  1. Feel fine – slightly wired.
  2. Anxiety kicks in, it’s all about work – I know I’ll just try harder.
  3. Anxiety about everything joins the work anxieties – I keep trying harder at everything
  4. Cracks in my idea that I’m fine become apparent to me – I don’t feel fine, it is still all about x,y,z. It it wasn’t for those things I’d be good.
  5. An inkling of realisation that even if x,y,z were totally and permanently fixed that I’d still be feeling bad.
  6. Suddenly, I want to kill myself – now where on earth did that come from.

Just now I think I’m at about 4 or 5.

Only as lead player do I get to live this moment

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In the life of my movie – that inspired the movie of my life.

The producer and director sound like they have control, make decisions, pull the strings. But, they don’t get to embody their own visions.

Many people are director / producer / writer of the events in my daily life

  • Employers throw in curveballs that mean I have an eventful day – cue the volcano eruption
  • Family and health throw huge events in my direction – earthquake
  • Social norms dictate much of the dialogue I have with acquaintances, to the lady I hardly know but pass in corridors ‘how are you today?’ …’very well thankyou’ – background music time passing, clocks going round at speed, pages being torn off a calendar as the months fly by

Give me the role of lead player because only I get to embody the content, live in this skin, breathe this air, feel this moment and know what it is like to be on the inside of me ………. When I remember………………

Because much of the time I don’t remember and don’t live my life. I sit and watch it slack jawed as part of a passive audience. I watch things happen to myself and live in knee jerk automatic response to much around me and not noticing the slide downwards.

But even as someone that sleepwalks through life much of the time. It is all worth it for the odd moment of mindfulness, when I dive into my body and drink in the sensations, good or bad and just rejoice at virtual reality 3D life. That beats director / producer / writer every time.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Show Must Go On.” If you were involved in a movie, would you rather be the director, the producer, or the lead performer? (Note: you can’t be the writer!).

They aren’t suicidal so their point of view must be healthier

Well meaning friends making comments that use balanced argument to ‘help’ me see the world as they do.
They aren’t suicidal so their point of view must be healthier.

I’ve seen the other person’s side for most of my life. I can see that people behave in a way that was in a reaction to their own problems. But if their actions (for very good reasons I know) have had an effect on me that means that I want to kill or self harm. Then please

  • don’t ask me to try and understand their side
  • don’t ask me to stop seeing my hurt ‘because theirs is more understandable’

In order to stop the self destruct I need to see my side. I need to remember that from my point of view they damage me (not meaning to I know, I KNOW, I KNOW).

The desire to harm / destruct myself is an effort to validate to myself the pain that nobody else can see.

Please don’t drive me closer to it.

Do you believe in fairies?

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “I Walk the Line.”
Have you got a code you live by? What are the principles or set of values you actively apply in your life?

My code. I try try to stay present for people and myself
namely

  • Listen to what people are really saying
  • Listen to my own honest reaction
  • Respond to them by including my reaction

A real example from today.

A colleague –

Well I like to keep up the pretence of fairies because it’s nice to think they’re really real.

(said in a joking manner)

My reaction was – whoa what planet are you on ! I’ll just smile and pretend you didn’t say that.

But I managed to take a second….. after a pause

Hang on a minute – you really believe that don’t you. I’m trying not to judge… but that is a bit strange.

We were both smiling and laughing by this time – mostly at the honesty of it all.

She said

Well I am from Ireland… and part of me likes the thought that it could be true.

Me

Okay I am judging, that is going to stay with me for the rest of the day.

It was both absurd and very honest
She could have denied believing in fairies and I could have pretended not to judge.

We both enjoyed the honesty and the absurdity ( apologies to any fairy believers).