How much longer?
I'm tired. All my life I've had recurrent periods of low mood and a sense of pointlessness, from about age 8 or 10 . I remember the first one, it struck me so hard I had to sit down. I think the medical term is cyclothymia.
After these episodes I would doggedly go on with the normal activities required by life but the dark cloud always came back, 'the Nothing' I used to call it. I used to distract myself with reading, and I reckon I spent a total of ten years of my life reading just to avoid 'the Nothing'. Being older now, with the main tasks of life behind me I thought this would be the time to dive deeper into the spiritual areas that have always interested me and I could find a way to peace.
Maybe I could, if not for these relentless intrusive thoughts about a relationship that ended about 8 months ago and nearly destroyed me. Tbh I don't know yet if I'll survive it. This morning I cried and thought I can't live with these memories. It was six years of drama on and off, and we reunited a year ago with great belief on my part that it would be forever, because he appeared to have changed in positive ways and got his life in order, and we talked about healing each other, and other noble aims, but once we were together he hadn't changed. He was controlling, paranoid and disrespectful and I couldn't cope with it eventually. It ended explosively with him threatening my life, based on some false accusations.
That's all over, firmly no contact, but now I'm in a cycle of grief that keeps circling back, and anything can trigger it. I had some EMDR for trauma which helped at the time, but the memories and images haunt me. That, with the periods of nil motivation, and I have to wonder, How long can I go on like this?
I have a good son and daughter, both with kids. I help them out where I can. I have a supportive sister and ex. But few people I can talk to about either the depression or the aftermath of the relationship. It seems to have damaged me, - my self image has changed, I don't think I have much to offer anyone anymore, I feel old and washed up. I used to work in mental health and aged care.. I used to paint pictures and was selling some. I don't work now, there's no motivation to look for a job although I need the money. I don't paint. I'm tired of the day to day struggle, pretending I'm okay, that I'm normal, that things are okay. I long for a deep connection with someone, a friend or partner, I feel so alone.
Thank you so much for posting on here. It sounds like you've been through hell. I'm so sorry to hear about how badly the breakdown of your last relationship has affected you.
I feel I know what you mean by the "nothing" place you're describing. It's not just depression in the sense of feeling down about yourself and your life, but a deep sense of emptiness and pointlessness. For me this feeling can creep up very subtly, then take over before I realise what's happened, and then be hard to dislodge.
Over time I have found that my rational brain cannot overcome this "nothingness" feeling. I am a scientist by profession, and don't consider myself religious per se, but during COVID I started going to church regularly, and I found something about the atmosphere created at the church alleviated the "nothingness" feeling. I think doing the deep dive into your spiritual interests that you mentioned is therefore a good instinct. There's a BBC documentary called "Divine Women" that I found super interesting that you may also enjoy.
I also think the way you're feeling is perfectly normal, and a very natural response to the serious trauma you've experienced. I think it's fantastic you're looking at therapies like EMDR. I also think that for some of this stuff, it just takes a lot of time before the pain and grief becomes manageable. Eight months is not a long time - it may be another 18 months before things start to turn around substantially. I think it's great to keep trying all the different things that may improve your mental well being, but also be realist about it, and try to accept it will probably take a while to get past the worst of it.
I also think it's fine to take a lot of time for yourself during this recovery period. If you take on work or volunteering, I think it can be helpful to give yourself very small, achievable goals while you're still suffering a lot. E.g. maybe even just one hour volunteering a week.
Thank you again for posting on here. We would love to hear more if you want to tell us more. Look after yourself as much as possible. All the best,
Thank you so much for posting about your experience, and I welcome you warmly to our forums.
I'm so so sorry to hear about your experience. I really resonate with what you're saying about recurrent periods of low mood and hopelessness. That speaks to me, as somebody with similar experiences. I think 'The Nothing' is a fantastic way of conceptualising - just sometimes we can feel so empty and numb.
The cycle of grief you've described that followed your relationship is also very normal, and how your sense of self may be shaken after such experiences. I've only recently had quite a significant break-up, and my own self-image has done a complete 180. If you feel comfortable, you could even have a chat to your GP, a therapist, counsellor or psychologist about your experiences. They may also be able to offer you some professional advice to help you feel better.
As yggdrasil has said, try to look after yourself as much as you can. Self-care is so important. Whether it be taking some time out of your week to paint, volunteer, read, meditate etc., these activities can be very rejuvenating.
Take care, and feel free to chat some more with us if you'd like.
Wellcome to our forums.
Im sorry you are feeling this way, I understand it would be difficult for you.
Are you currently receiving professional help to help you to deal with these intrusive thoughts?
Can I ask what type of spiritual practices you have tried?
I believe that it can lead us to a more peaceful place inside ourselves.
You really do have alot to offer, just start to believe in yourself again.
Im sorry you feel damaged but I think sometimes when we go through certain things in our life’s we become a bit lost in ourselves but while we are in that darkness theres a new you being created a new you that wouldn’t fit the old version we just need to keep persevering through these times because once the new you is truly born and healed you begin to understand the process and thrive ❤️🙏
Thanks yggdrasil for your kind reply and good suggestions.
It helped that you reminded me how long a recovery from this kind of trauma takes. It's not linear at all. I thought I had more or less processed what happened but it keeps catching me sharply. I'll have a too-late insight, for instance I wish I'd known more about personality disorders then, notably paranoid and narcissistic, and the unfixable nature of them.
Often there's a crushing pain from just a sudden thought-feeling-memory - the psychological fallout from these relationships is immense. It comes with a feeling of worthlessness, hard to describe how a person can virtually dismantle you but that's what it feels like.
You mentioned that you also experience this 'Nothingness'. As you said it's not ordinary depression. I think it's more destructive because it tends to undo everything. With pointlessness flooding in, projects don't get finished, the motivation completely zapped with nothing to replace it. With this happening fairly frequently, I haven't reached anywhere near my career potential.
I started going to church in 2020. At a very low point when I wanted to die, suicide not being an option (I couldn't do that to my family) I reached out as I had nowhere else to turn. It gave me great comfort, and I continued to go for about a year, but unfortunately I felt I didn't really fit into the church 'family', which gets a bit awkward. It's a belonging thing. I find it hard to fit into groups, but I love connecting one-to-one with people. I really liked the sacred space, the contemporary music, the readings and ambience.
I was thinking of suicide again this morning, but I know I would never do it. I have joined a group called 'Alternatives to Suicide' which meets online. It's a non-judgemental peer support space where people can say what they like without fear of being reported to a mental health team. It's a new approach that interests me a lot. We need more and new resources and to undo the stigma. The question of whether to live or not is real for so many people.
Thanks for your suggestion of attempting very small goals, like an hour or so of voluntary work. I could manage that.
I watched the trailer for the BBC's Divine Women, it does look interesting, I'd like to see the full version. Spiritually I've been interested in the non-duality tradition which is the esoteric arm of many different faiths and seems to offer a way out, a red pill (but I've run out of characters.)
Thankyou for your suggestion of self-care, I'd sort of forgotten about that. I know it's good for you, but atm I don't even know what that would look like. I'm imagining a bubble bath or something, (but my bath is too shallow and the bathroom is too cold.)
At the moment, to be honest I'm just surviving by the hour.
I so appreciate your, and the others' responses to my first post. To think there are people out there who would take time out of their Sunday to respond with kindness and warmth. You don't know what it means - well you probably do. Tears are running down my face. Thankyou.
Thank you Petal22
What you said about being damaged leading to a new self is something I believe too. There are lots of feelgood stories about it. I thought I was changing and getting stronger, a new self tempered in the flames of a horribly painful experience. I trusted that.
It all fell apart today. This morning, I couldn't connect to my internal source of strength, because the images of this man and what happened kept filling my mind and I collapsed. I've done so much work to connect with the peaceful inner self that is there, which I've found many times in meditation and I believe it's our reality. Well, clearly I'm not there yet but gosh it's getting late for me.
Yes to your question on whether I've had professional help. My GP was very understanding and put me on meds and a mental health plan, and with that psychologist I had EMDR therapy for trauma, which seemed to reduce that man's impact on me for months. I'm off the meds now, as the helpfulness decreased over time. I also had counselling with the national family and domestic violence service. Thinking about this I might need to get more help, but they can't surgically remove the bits of my brain relating to him.
If I could summarise the issue I'm dealing with it's that I feel that there's nothing here for me anywhere in this world. It's like I'm done with it. I really tried. This is not living, yet I have to keep going. Can I?
I'm so glad that what I said resonated with you Suncloud, I know this to be true because it has happened to me and I'm so grateful for it.
At the time I didn't understand while I was in the darkness, but now it makes perfect sense and I now see what I went through as a blessing for without what I went through I wouldn't be the person I am today a new stronger wiser version of myself the darkness taught me many things including the person that I wanted to become. I feel reborn again and I'm still growing.
What you are going through now won't be for nothing......." something beautiful will grow from all you are going through and it will be YOU".
I have a lived experience of sever anxiety OCD and my condition crippled me with horrible distressing intrusive thoughts... it was unrelenting.
I did a certain therapy for this condition I was experiencing and one of the skills we learned in therapy was meditation, meditation got me over the line I still meditate and it contributes to my calm state. It taught me that Im not my thoughts but the watcher of my thoughts.
Please keep practicing your meditation with more practice the better you will get at it and when you are feeling distressed you can drop back into your calm place you learned in meditation and your body will take you back there.
I also practice reiki I have done two levels, reiki also helps me to stay calm and balanced.
I'm so sorry you callapsed I understand this would have been very distressing for you.
Suncloud YES, there really is something for you in this world really there is please believe me when I say this, we all have a life purpose ... something we can give to the world.... I didn't know what mine was until I got through the darkness so hang in there because yours will be revealed all in good time...... just search for it and believe in it and it will present itself...... it's something that will light a fire inside you.... something you never dreamed of doing or helping with in such a way........keep persevering.... perseverance always pays off! you CAN!
Would you consider talking to your gp again about the way you are feeling? I was also put on a antidepressant to help with my condition and I believe it has helped me also to recover.
Hang in there and please chat to me any time
The phoenix can rise from the ashes.... believe me...
I've also written another thread in 'staying well' that you may want to read it's called "Finding your inner calm"
It's a pleasure replying to posts on here, I love helping people and offering advice where I can 🙂
It's okay, sometimes I find it difficult to motivate myself to do any kind of self-care activities. Even the most small activities can be so meaningful sometimes, like taking time out of your day to read a book, or take a walk, or even treat yourself to a tea or coffee or something. Bubble baths, spending some time doing something you've been meaning to do for a while, writing a to-do list, cleaning... just a few ideas if you need.
I very much understand the concept of surviving by the hour. And if that's what you're comfortable with at the time, then that's perfectly okay. Healing is by no means a linear journey, and some days will feel easier than others. That's very normal.
Please feel free to keep chatting, sometimes chatting to people in this way can be so cathartic.