Cannot

I suddenly feel I cannot go on. I will call in sick to work tomorrow. I just can’t do it. I’ve felt exhausted all day and didn’t get groceries or much else done. Though I did get my new couch set up, and i’m happy about that. I did go to church. I get something out of services, but I feel socially like a failure there. I did try and meet the eyes of the two women sitting in my area, but they wouldn’t meet mine. I felt I wanted to have a conversation, but I couldn’t bear small talk, I just couldn’t. So I decided coffee time is not for me. The minister and one of the wardens do kind of reach out to me….I feel like they’d like to know my story. Just I’d have to go up to them and start talking, and it’s difficult. I don’t go there that often. They’re a very small congregation, so want more members. I like that they’re small. They’re super left leaning, for a church. For instance today, they showed a video of the congregation’s views on the necessity of gay marriage in the church. I’m all for it. Just they seem a bit behind the times…that issue is so commonplace to me, I don’t know, shouldn’t they have resolved it and moved on by now? If Christ welcomed all, how can the church exclude so many? The whole debate feels so quaint and old fashioned to me. So maybe I don’t get Christianity as practiced by the church.

I want to be able to cope. I’m supposed to take my son out to dinner and can’t face it. What is wrong with me.

It’s like a huge greyness. Maybe it is ‘depression’. Just a hopelessness and fatigue. I do feel though if I could just get enough rest, I’d be better. But then, rest never comes. I am so revved up and tense, that I wake up after a few hours sleep, obsessing about details at work. Then I can’t fall back asleep without a pill.

Or maybe it’s withdrawal from Xanax? I’ve been taking one pill at night when I wake, because it works, and I don’t have a hangover from it. But I don’t want to take it every day. But every day it seems is like an emergency, so I’m taking this stuff. Last night I didn’t take any. Could I have withdrawal symptoms from that? It is the lowest dose, but I’ve been careful to not take it every day, before this job stress hit.

I want to cope. I really really do. Making a living is so important to me.

If I could articulate what’s wrong, maybe it would help. It does seem as if my body and mind have gone a bit haywire. I’m used to needing lots of downtime. But this is downtime all the time.

I’ve been reading a book by Erich Fromm – The Art of Listening. Nice title, eh? I like it anyway. Nice black and white photo of Fromm in profile with his head bowed a bit, presumably listening.

I enjoy the book. But towards the end, he starts ranting a bit. And of course, I take it personally. That people should not be obsessed with their own problems, but take an interest in the wider world. Read great books. Listen to classical music. Study art.

And I feel that yes, I should do these things, and stop obsessing about my problems. If only I had the energy to devote to the study of art. And didn’t need to lie down all the time. And was able to work without it exhausting all my resources.

So for that part of the book, I feel Fromm is unsympathetic. I am reading along, picturing him as this kind analyst, wishing to listen….and then, bam, he starts criticizing his patients for not having a wider view.

I hope you are all well. I am grateful for my couch and the friend who helped put it together.

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18 comments
  1. leb105 said:

    Hang in there, E! You did a lot of good things despite the difficulty. You’re getting stronger. Things will get better, soon!
    Thoughts are only thoughts. Feelings change – even if you do nothing at all! that’s what I’m finding…

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks Laura. It’s true – this too shall pass. So easy to forget. I appreciate the encouragement.

  2. Ellen, I’m going through a phase where I am just starting to be able to dip my toes back into the pursuit of the things that I have long loved. For the last 3 years, I have only been able to sustain the emotional energy to take care of my family and do therapy. At first my T pushed me to engage more in outside things, because she had seen me do intensive therapy work, work full time, and work part time on a masters degree at the same time. She was convinced that it would help to pull me out of the state that I was in, but eventually she saw that I really didn’t have any more resources to take on anything else. Yes, being involved with things outside of myself and my misery would have been good for me, but I had to work through enough to get to a point where I had pulled myself up enough that it was possible to engage.

  3. Sorry, hit post too early.

    So, Fromm probably is right that it would be helpful, but if you can’t do it, you just can’t do it. I can see that some people may persist in navel gazing when they actually do have the resources to reach out and engage and I hope that’s who he was thinking when he wrote what he wrote.

    Have you ever heard of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? It basically says that basic needs have to be satisfied before more advanced ones can be taken on. Physical safety, food, shelter, affection/relationships are all basic needs. Self actualization and things like learning more about music and art high up on the hierarchy. You have parts that are convinced that your basic physical safety isn’t secure. Of course you have to deal with those sorts of internal issues first!

    I’m sorry that you got side swiped and am sorry that you are feeling so drained…

    • Ellen said:

      I’ve heard of Maslow of course, but hadn’t considered the famous hierarchy of needs in terms of parts. Interesting. I wonder if it’s true that parts of me don’t know they are physically secure. Food for thought. It could be my priority needs to be growing these parts up, or helping them feel safe….

      The case history Fromm links his comments to is about a woman who has an unhappy marriage, but otherwise copes well. So you could be right. Though he does seem to say this in a scolding way, and he doesn’t qualify it at all.

      I really like hearing a bit more of your story. Wow, that you were able to do all that at once. It’s great you are getting your toes wet once again. I really am stuck at the survival level – therapy and work. That’s about it. Thanks for commenting on this.

  4. Your doing your best. There will always be days where we just simply cannot face the world or things we must do. Roll with it. Things will look up eventually. Sending hugs! XX

  5. I’m sorry you hare having such a rough time. I went to an early church and then slept all afternoon. I remind myself that everyone has sick days from time to time. However it is difficult when you can’t trot out an illness that people understand and recognize. Like you mention above, this too shall pass.

    • Ellen said:

      I believe in naps. The good, restful kind. Thanks Ruth

  6. Ashana M said:

    I think Fromm was either in favour of using denial to cope–which shifting your attention elsewhere partly is–or he wasn’t aware of serious problems. I also think psychoanalysts for decades saw either very, very sick patients or very, very rich patients and don’t have a clue what life is like for ordinary people that are neither having hallucinations nor in possession of trust funds. Figuring out to cope really is a full-time job sometimes. I wish these things had a simple solution. Take care.

    • Ellen said:

      I chuckled at this. It’s true. Fromm was writing fifty years ago. I think for psychoanalysis, you were on the couch four times a week, and usually with an MD. It would cost a fortune, and only the rich could pay. He doesn’t draw attention to it, but the one case study he presents is of a woman from a very wealthy family who doesn’t seem to have huge issues, though painful for her. He doesn’t discuss anyone who suffered outright abuse, or dissociation, or any of the issues people with trauma have. Yeah, I agree.

      I know what you mean about coping. Thanks Ashana.

  7. Cat said:

    I have to agree with you on the Christianity front. Somewhere along the way, early Christians and church fathers, got it all wrong. If you’ve ever read the new testament from start to finish, you might notice that the Gospels are full of love, honour and forgiving. However, as we turn the pages and become swamped with the Apostle Paul’s interpretation of Jesus, something goes seriously wrong. Jesus taught, “The kingdom of God is within” I think he meant, life/maybe death is what we make it and each of us has an entitlement to conduct that in whatever way we please and without judgements. The Christian church has come a long way in recent years, no more evident than their attitudes to gays and their rights. There is still a very long way to go. The people who can bring about the most significant changes are the members of the congregation.

    I would agree with Cat’s comment. Processing therapy and then working is hard work. Sometimes we don’t realise exactly what those sessions are doing to us, but they can shake us up big time. It would be lovely to be as Fromm suggests and maybe one day we will be in that peaceful slot, but for now, we are still swimming towards the shore.

    Hope it all improves soon

    • Ellen said:

      I have to admit, I haven’t studied the Bible in depth as you have Cat. It’s interesting to think what was meant by “The kingdom of God is within.” That’s a good way of interpreting this. My actual opinion, which I wouldn’t share with anyone there, is that they should be very happy anyone wants to join, and they need to make them welcome. I mean, most people, gay or straight, don’t care a whole lot what the church has to say. The church seems kinda crazy and out of touch restricting and shutting out, when their membership is ever shrinking. Anyway. This congregation has a lot of gay couples, mostly married, and everyone is accepted.

      Yeah, processing therapy is hard. In this case though, that’s not what’s troubling me. I think it’s more that I am horribly triggered by this boss, thrown into the past where I was helpless and alone. That’s more my problem at the moment.

      Thanks Cat

      • Cat said:

        I’ve only skimmed the surface of the Bible. I think you’re right about the boss, Ellen. It’s very hard going… keep up the good work!

  8. Ellen,

    You are not alone in this. Although it feels very lonely, like nobody else is with you, there are those like myself who do care and feel connected to your experience. Your experience matters. Your thoughts, views, opinions, all of these things are important, as is the trauma you endured and survived.

    Remember that the difficult times do in fact pass and you will grow stronger having gotten through this.

    • Ellen said:

      It does seem lonely. I think I’m being triggered into past bad situations, with those feelings from the past, while the present is actually quite a bit more hopeful. I wasn’t thinking when I wrote ‘ I cannot go on…” because I meant with day to day life – I felt I couldn’t cope with keeping it together and working. Nothing more than that. This is a mental blog, so I can see on reflection this could be taken as a much darker statement.

      I feel somewhat better after a day off. More like myself, where I recognize my self and more of my usual feelings and states of mind.

      Thanks for the encouragement. Loneliness is a part of this. I do wish sometimes there was someone else here, someone kind. Maybe I will find someone like that.

      I appreciate that you care.

  9. Jay said:

    Sounds like a rough and confusing patch to be in at this moment. What I read from this post are a lot of “shoulds”, “ifs” and “coulds”… I wonder whether you feel pressurized to know what’s going on for you, how to solve it and how to improve in every way? I hope you know that wherever and whoever you are right in this moment is perfect. Honestly. It’s something I struggle with too but accepting that it’s okay to not know or not do can be very empowering. Thinking of you.

    • Ellen said:

      Yeah, that’s very astute. I do feel like I should ‘improve in every way’. LOL. Sometimes you just have to roll with things. Thank you Jay

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