Invisible suffering..Invisible illness…Invisible pain…Chronic illness….Mental suffering…Domestic abuse…Mental abuse..Narcissistic Victim Abuse Syndrome…PTSD…Chronic Pain…
These are all real illnesses and disorders, that other people cannot see. It can be hard for other people to understand what it is like for you. The lack of people supporting you…or even believing you …causes re-traumatization.
There is the initial trauma of the illness, pain, or abuse and then there is a whole new kind of painful suffering caused by what happens next.
People do not see your suffering and so..
…some people do not believe you at all..
…they do not believe that it is that bad..
…they think you can just “shake it off”…
…they do not believe that you cannot do the things that they can easily do.
…they think you are lazy…
…they think you are a big baby…
..they think you should have gotten better by now..
…they forget that you “still have” that invisible illness…
…they get tired of hearing the same things…
..they lose patience with you..
…you do not want to tell people..
…you lose friends…
..You self isolate…
Yes, that is often what ends up happening. Self isolating can be a relief from dealing with interactions with people. Over time the isolation can cause worse depression.
The only people who really understand are people who have been through it or are going through it.
The isolating process can begin with other people giving up on you, getting tired of you, or not wanting to listen to you anymore. You lose one ot two friends and family members. The you are afraid to lose the rest of them.
You do not actively go out and seek new people because you fear the pain of rejection from them. “Why should you put yourself through this again”….is what your brain is saying.
The isolating can begin with ourselves, because it is too much effort or too painful to interact with other people, especially if they do not believe or understand what we are going through.
The retraumatization can be severe. When people just simply do not believe you or think you are exaggerating, that is one of the worst things you can go through.
Then, of course, there are people who are predators, and they prey on the weak ones, who are desperate for understanding and companionship. If you have been set up and abused, because of your invisible condition, then it is very difficult to trust people again…or to trust your own judgement of who is safe and who is not.
We can also be retraumatized by bad therapists, counselors and insensitive doctors and nurses. I have heard horror stories of what people have gone through at treatment facilities, rehab facilities and emergency rooms. I have also experienced insensitive therapists and healthcare workers.
So where does this leave us? In pain…suffering…in need of human compassion…and isolated…
Some people physically isolate themselves in their homes. Other people build walls up around themselves and self isolate by disconnecting from other humans emotionally.
We can be around people all day long, yet be completely alone.
Some people cannot leave their house or apartment.
Other people just leave the house to go to work, and do necessary errands, and then self isolate themselves in their house, the rest of the time. This would be me…
When you have reached your limit of being traumatized and re-traumatized, then your mammalian instinct of self protection is going to kick in. Your brain wants to protect itself from any more trauma and abuse.
Sometimes the world appears to be a dark and dangerous place. Interact with people is just a risk of being injured, when you are suffering from an invisible enemy.
No one can see your enemy and therefore it feels like you are fighting alone.
You energy is going into fighting against your invisible illness, mental illness, or trauma from abuse. You do not have a whole lot of energy left for reaching out to people who might end up hurting you. You do not have a lot of energy to explain and re-explain to people about your invisible illness.
You do not have energy to make new friends, knowing that at some point you have to explain to them about your invisible enemy. There is no guarantee they will understand you or stick around once they find out, anyway.
Your energy is focused on survival. Your little bit of energy that is left, is focused on just getting through one day at a time. Relationships take time and energy and after a while it can seem like there simply is not enough energy to go around.
I do not have any simple answer for this problem. I wanted to at least validate the people who are nodding their heads up and down, as they are reading this.
You are not alone, in being alone. You may be alone in your house at this moment, feeling isolated and different than everyone else. But there are other people who feel the same way.
The isolating is a normal reaction to being traumatized, suffering mental wounds and suffering pain of any kind. It is an instinct to survive be separating from potential danger.
It is also an instinct to preserve whatever energy is left, in order to use to heal and survive.
If there is any approach to this problem that could work, it would lie in the matter of balance. We have to constantly balance the various aspects of our lives. Find new methodologies for healing and for dealing with stress.
We cannot have the same amount of energy every day. Some days we feel better than other days.
On our better days, we can try to reach out a little bit. Go somewhere with people or call someone on the phone. Text someone or send and email. Whatever is in your comfort zone for that particular day.
There will be days when interacting with others is impossible. But some days we might be able to reach out, just a little bit.
Do what you can and take advantage of any days that are kind of good. If you cannot go out, then try to find people online to connect with.
Who you should reach out to and talk to, depends on what is good for you. Some of you have friends that you can all on the phone. Some people would be able to go out to a place where there are strangers and interact a little bit with them.
Another way to get some compassionate human interaction, is to do some volunteer work. Nursing homes will often let you come and visit.
You may have to set things up, to be a volunteer ahead of time. The people you visit at places like this, will not judge you in the same ways that you are afraid of your friends or family judging you.
Going out of the house depends on your condition. Some people are completely housebound. Reaching out to those people can be a way of helping yourself too.
Animals are also great. Pets are good companions. As you know, if you read my blog, I get great joy and comfort from my bunny. I also like to go to places with a animals. There is a place called Sun High Orchard, near my house. They have bunnies and sheep that you can pet and feed.
Sometimes you can go to speciality stores where the people will talk with you. Some places like that would be: comic book stores, craft stores, tattoo parlors, hobby shops and book stores. Any place where people gather, that have a similar interest.
It is okay to self isolate to a point. Sometimes we need to self isolate for a while to heal our brains. But if the isolation is becoming a problem for you, then do a little bit of interacting on the good days and just rest in bed on the harder days. Balance is the key to most problems in life.
We are supportive of each other here and WordPress has been a blessing for me. I love hearing from the people that follow my blog and I consider the interactions meaningful.
Blessings to all,
Whose depression is worse? Which mental illness is greater?
Who suffers the most?
When does a depression become a mental disorder? At what point does regular anxiety become an anxiety disorder?
How long do you have to feel depressed, before you should be evaluated for depression?
At what point do depression and anxiety cross over from mental issues, and become a mental illnesses?
Do you have to have a diagnosis to have a “real” mental illness? What did you have the day before you received the diagnosis?
Is one person’s mental disorder more important than someone else’s?
Is one person’s emotional suffering “worse” because they tell you it is worse than yours?
Does the “squeaky wheel” tendency also exist in mental health?
Is the squeakiest wheel the person with the worse mental disorder?
Is having to be the loudest squeaky wheel a disorder in itself?
Should you feel bad talking about your mental illness if you are not on medication?
Is someone who tries holistic methods like yoga and NLP hypnosis, less proactive about their mental health, than someone who takes antidepressants or anxiety medication?
Is the reverse true?
Can you tell from looking at someone, just how depressed they are? If they are suicidal? If they have PTSD?
Is the person who shows, or talks openly about their mental disorder, more mentally ill than someone who keeps it to themselves?
These are all valid questions to discuss. I wonder which of these situations you have had to deal with? Which side have you been on?
Have you ever had your mental pain minimized, denied, or rejected? Have you been told you don’t “look sick” ….you don’t “look depressed”….you don’t “seem anxious”…
Have you ever had to hear…
…”well everyone else can do it”…..”mental illness isn’t real”…..”anxiety is something everyone else deals with”….”just get over it”……
Have you ever heard….
“I suffer worse depression than you do”………”I know someone with a real mental illness”…
Narcissism runs throughout the mental health field, as far as therapists and psychiatrists go. Just something to keep in mind when you are seeking a therapist, or in a therapy session.
Psychopaths and narcissists gravitate towards fields of work that they can feel powerful, and have influence over the minds of others. …just something to keep in mind…..probably 5 or 6 percent of mental health professionals are either narcissists or socialized psychopaths.
Everyone cannot afford mental health treatment. Some people have no way to get to appointments, for any number of reasons.
People that are currently living in abusive environments have many reasons why going for mental health diagnosis or treatment could make their situation (hence their mental health) much worse.
Some people are much more extroverted than others. Introverted people are more likely to keep their mental illness to themselves, rather than telling the people they associate daily with, or people they see on a regular basis.
People with a history of abuse and severe boundary violations, is less likely to feel they can trust people to talk about their mental suffering with. Introverted people, with a past history of abuse, or who are currently living in abuse, are even less likely to feel safe talking about it.
Talking about mental illness has to feel safe. Just because someone does not feel safe being treated or diagnosed with mental illness, does not mean they do not have a mental disorder that interferes with their lives.
Some mental disorders make it difficult, or impossible to leave the house, get to morning therapy appointments, or to go to any kind of doctor appointments.
Some anxiety disorders make it difficult or impossible for the sufferer even to make the phone call to schedule the appointment.
The mental health system is better in some parts of the world and worse in others. Socioeconomic state makes a difference in how the client is treated by intake workers.
People doing intakes can be so rude that they can drive people away, who never try again to get mental health treatment. The system can be disheartening, violating, and depressing.
Everyone is not in the same circumstance.
Everyone does not have the same background or experience with the mental health system.
Everyone has different triggers, different fears, different sleep situations, sleep disorders, and different living situations.
You cannot tell from looking at someone, if they have a mental disorder or not.
You cannot tell from talking to them for a few minutes, from working at the same job as them, or from being in the same family as them.
No one can tell you that you are not really suffering. Well….they can say it….but just because they say it, does not make it true.
Someone saying they have worse depression than you do, does not make it true.
Someone saying you don’t really have any “legitimate” mental disorder, does not make it true.
Someone that tells you what you “should” and “should not” be able to do….even if triggers your emotional flashbacks or triggers your fight or flight” response….is not really a person who is on your side, or someone that supports you.
You need to be surrounded by people who support you.
You need to detach emotionally from people who trigger you or put you in situations you have asked them not to put you in.
You have the right to know how you feel, and to be the one to determine how bad it is.
You have a right to decide if your depression or anxiety is to the point of being a “disorder.” A disorder is something that has gotten bad enough to make your life “disorderly” …and ” unmanageable.”
You know whether or not your mental pain is interfering with your daily activities, your work, your social interactions and your life.
You know if it has gotten worse , better, or is staying the same.
No one can know these things more than you, because you are the one living inside of your own head.
If you wake up every morning feeling anxiety, depression and completely overwhelmed at the thought of scraping through another day, you are not alone.
Once the day gets going after a few hours, you can get into autopilot mode, or somehow tolerate the things you have to do in order to survive. But upon waking up, you feel like one more day of painful suffering existance might be too much.
You feel alone and like there is something horribly wrong with your life. It is so severe upon opening your eyes in the morning that you cannot imagine anyone else would understand.
You are not alone. This is an important situation that gets worse being left in the darkness. Feel free to express your feelings in the comments here….if you are experiencing…or have ever experienced this.
Depression is different for different people. While there are similar experiences and feelings, there is no typical pattern that everyone has.
However your depression feels to you is real, and just as valid as anyone else’s depression.
It can hang on for long stretches on time from a few weeks to a few months. It can seem to go away and then reappear without any warning.
Some people have periods of the day where they are mostly fine only to wake up feeling the darkness of depression covering them like a black blanket in the morning. Depression can feel like the enemy.
There is no normal way to have depression because depression is not the normal way for the brain to behave.
There are organic differences in the brains of people who suffer from depressive disorders. It is a real illness with physiological evidence. Anyone that tells you that it is not real has not done their homework.
One of the worst things about having depression is that people will invalidate you and tell you that you are being a baby. They are able to shake off their sadness and frustration …so why can’t you?
Well, it does not work that way. People with depression cannot just shake it off or will themselves to get better. There is no magic pill to take or fairy wand to wave.
Depression haunts you and threatens you.
Medication can sometimes help but it is not a magic pill that cures you.
If you are suffering with depression, please know that you are not alone. There are many bloggers that write about depression. You can find support here so that you will not have to feel completely alone.
People with mental illness are threatened and tormented by their own brains just like people with physical diseases are threatened by their own bodies.
In addition mental illnesses like depression also cause physical pain. There is a real feeling in the body that depression causes. It is different for different people but there is always pain in the body.
Don’t give up. You are not alone. Your mental health matters and you have just as much of a right to feel well as anyone else does.
The desire to set up camp in your bed often goes along with depression.
Some people wonder if they are depressed or if they have an actual “disorder” of depression. A disorder is just what it sounds like. Your life has become disorderly…unmanageable.
You want to do things like set up camp in the bed. and only come out of bed for necessities. The bed is familiar thus the brain perceives it as safe.
Your brain wants to keep you safe. Your subconscious brain leads you away from anything it associates with pain or danger. This could be any kind of danger incuding emotional trauma.
If you have mental illness then there are some things that are a threat to you but would not be a threat to other people. For example, if you have a severe anxiety disorder, depression or PTSD then going out to the mall can be riddled with possible threats.
An uncontrollable environment like a store, or driving in holiday traffic, can be triggering to those associations in your brain.
There are images, feelings and emotions associated with the sights, sounds and situations all around you. It feels safer in the bed, because it is a more controlled environment.
The holiday season makes it harder to go out and deal with the uncontrollable, unpredictable environments like the crowded stores.
The fear center of the brain is on high alert. It may even become too much to be in fight or flight mode and then your brain may throw you into a derealization/ depersonalization state.
This is that detached from reality state. You float through the motions as if you are watching a movie or you are in a dream. Your brain has become so overloaded with pain that it pulls your conscious state away from reality
The bed can feel like the only safe environment to be in. It is comforting and it is your personal space.
You are not alone if you ten to retreat to your bed when you are experiencing depression or severe anxiety. I have done it many times.
If you are stuck in the bed now, take time to get some nutritious food to eat. Just think about the food groups and eat a little something from each one.
The nutrition is critical for your brain function snd your physical strength. Your immune system needs to be supported by foods and perhaps vitamin supplements.
Be compassionate with yourself. You do not have to be judgemental of yourself. The inner tapes of negative thoughts about yourself were put there by others.
Show kindness to yourself. Offer self love and acceptance. The holiday season is very difficult for people with mental illness.
Emotions should be treated with kindness and a gentle spirit. When an emotions feels like it is too overwhelming you can console that feeling and care for it.
Think of your emotions and feelings as children who need to be taken care of and nurtured. If you abandon your feelings they will only grow more. You have to walk with them and hold their hand.
When you feel sadness, grief or anger there is always a reason for it. Sometimes the reason is obvious and other times the emotion is coming from an old emotional wound.
Emotions are always trying to tell you something. They are trying to protect you from something.
It can feel like we cannot handle feeling the emotions and so we try to bury and repress them. But this is a way of abandoning ourselves.
You have already been abandoned by other people in your life. You have been rejected by people and hurt by people. Your emotions are telling you that you need to be cared for.
Self love is a powerful thing. It is not selfish , even though you may have been taught that way. Often the people that discourage us from caring about our own feelings, do so for their own agenda.
In another words, they try to get you to forget about your needs and feelings, because they are protecting their own needs and feelings. This is kind of hypocritical …isn’t it?
Refusal to listen to your emotions will cause you to break down and become fractured. Emotional wounds are often fractures parts of you that were hurt and abandoned at an early age.
These fractured child parts are trying to get your attention. They want to know that you have not abandoned them. Your inner child needs to know that it has not been abandoned by you too.
Nurture your pain.
When emotional pain comes up please nurture it as you would a sick child. Care for your feelings and console those wounded parts of yourself. Ask them what they need and have not been getting.
You can find ways to heal the emotions if you listen to them first. It is not selfish to care about your own feelings and the needs of your emotional body. Your emotional health is connected to all of you.
Separation from the emotional body
In order to give of yourself, you have to have something left to give. When we neglect emotional wounds, part of ourselves becomes separated from the whole.
You need to be whole and your emotions need to be integrated with all of you. Your spiritual health and emotional health are connected. Your physical health is also connected to your emotions.
Listen to your inner child and all of your emotions and feelings. Nothing comes up for no reason. There is always a reason if you are feeling something.
You have much to offer the world. You are a unique person with very special gifts to offer and to explore.
Acceptance of self
Everything about you will flow better when you nurture your feelings. Do not abandon yourselves by stuffing down your emotions. Allow your feelings to be accepted without judgement.
You can survive the feelings as you experience them as a caretaker. You may fear that you will be overwhelmed by your emotions but you cannot push them away from you.
Old emotional wounds
When you nurture and care for your feelings, the pain will release from you. You may find that the root causes are from long ago and the wounds have been re-opened by some person or situation.
If this happens then the old emotional wounds were never healed from the past. They are coming up in order to ask you to care for them.
Touch is a fundamental communication between people. It allows us to communicate compassion better that words or facial expression.
Touch is the most important element of bonding and compassion between humans.
There are neurochemical effects of skin to skin touch. Compassionate touch is critical for the brain and the body to be healthy. We need human touch to be well.
We need human touch in order to have good mental health. People who are touch deprived can develop mental illness.
People with mental illness can become worse from a lack of pleasant physical touch.
Compassionate touch reduces stress hormones, including cortisol. When someone touches your skin in a pleasant way, it makes you feel calmer and safer. Anxious feelings can be reduced and your nervous system can be calmed.
People deprived of pleasant physical touch can develop high levels of stress hormones.
High levels of stress hormones on a regular basis will cause a condition of severe anxiety disorder. Depression is often a condition that goes hand in hand with anxiety disorders.
“When a person receives a pleasing touch, the hormone oxytocin is released in the brain. Oxytocin is linked with human bonding, socializing and maternal instincts. It helps alleviate anxiety and fear and is critical in trust-building. There is even a specialized part of the nervous system in our skin, known as tactile C fibers, that is specialized to pick up compassionate touch.” Pracha Touch
Physical touch can promote healing in the body and reduce the likelihood for disease and illnesses.
This includes both physical and mental illnesses. Insomnia can be relieved by the hormone balancing effect of skin to skin touch that is pleasant.
Some people with mental illness may have been touch deprived as infants and as children.
There is research about the necessity of touch for proper development and growth.
There was research by John Bowlby and Renee Spitz, during WW II, about the effect of touch on infants. Infants that were orphans, living in institutional settings were not held by the caregivers.
The lack of compassionate touch caused a 75% mortality rate. Also, the infants had a lower weight and length than infants of the same age. They did not develop properly due to the lack of being comforted. The compassionate touch of the mother is comforting to an infant and reduces fear and anxiety of the baby.
Babies need to have their nervous systems regulated by the mother. Infants do not have the capacity to regulate their own nervous systems. Infants even regulate their breathing with their mother’s breathing. Babies that sleep with their mother have a dramatically lower incidence of infant death syndrome.
If the baby forgets to take a breath, the mothers breath on the baby’s face will cause the baby to draw in a breath. The baby will be calmed by the sound of its mother’s heartbeat.
“In some of the most dramatic new findings, premature infants who were massaged for 15 minutes three times a day gained weight 47 percent faster than others who were left alone in their incubators – the usual practice in the past. The massaged infants also showed signs that the nervous system was maturing more rapidly: they became more active than the other babies and more responsive to such things as a face or a rattle.” Daniel Goleman New York Times
The United States is one of the most touch deprived countries in the world. In studies, we come up second to England
In the 1960s, psychologist Sidney Jourard, studied the conversations of friends in different parts of the world. He observed friends as they spent time together in a café.
In England, the two friends touched each other zero times. In the United States, there was an average of 2 touches during the conversation. But in France, the frequency of touch was 110 times per hour. And in Puerto Rico, the friends touched each other an average of 180 times!
It is possible that the mental health crisis in the US has something to do with the fact that we are a “No-touch” culture.