Doldrums

Well, I’ve slid into a pit of loneliness. I had been congratulating myself on feeling a lot less desperate and alone than previously. Not that there are more people – just for some reason, I felt I had enough to do with managing myself.

This is my second week of working from home, plus a therapy free previous week. And it’s been hot.

I don’t do at all well with heat. I’m not sure what it is, but I wilt. My air conditioner doesn’t cope once temperatures go above thirty. I think I have a tendency to dissociate when I’m uncomfortable, so I end up feeling quite spacey. I wanted to go out to a group on the weekend, but it’s held on the second floor of a church, and I thought it would be just sweltering, so I didn’t go.

Today I didn’t do much. I went out at noon to sit in a cafe and then got my nails done, in an attempt to break out of my lassitude. It didn’t help much. I’ve been needing to vacuum and clean my bathroom, and that hasn’t happened.

I feel miserable.

I talked with a friend on the phone on the weekend. She lives in another province, so we never see each other, but we talk sometimes. We first met about twenty years ago in a support group, both trying to work through the effects of abuse. Since I was in a frightening and abusive marriage at the time, not much working through was able to happen, as my PTSD was simply triggered over and over by my situation. She seemed better off – she was working, unlike me, and she was  in love with her boyfriend.

However, things worked out badly for her. Her boyfriend left her, and she fell apart, to the extent where she needed to be hospitalized. She got herself a major diagnosis (schizophrenia) and some heavy duty medications. And she went back to her family in a western province, to live on disability and stay with a (formerly) abusive brother.

No way on this earth is she schizophrenic. But….she is afraid. She is afraid of not getting her insurance money, she is afraid of doing her own research, she accepts doctors are smarter than she is. She is a lovely, kind person, but she is living a nightmare as far as I’m concerned. If I was stuck, dependent on my insane family, my life wouldn’t be worth living.

I on the other hand found a very slow way up and out. I went back to school for a writing qualification. I slowly separated from my ex, despite complete economic dependence on him. Finally, finally, fifteen years ago, I found steady work which paid enough to live on. And just five years ago, I finally moved completely out of my ex’s house, found a therapist, and was able to start healing my PTSD.

My life is difficult. But it’s going in a good direction IMO. My friend’s life seems to have crashed and burned. She said she’s struggling with ‘motivation’, getting out of the house even for a walk is hard for her. She thinks it’s part of her ‘condition’ – apparently with schizophrenia, lack of interest in life is supposed to be an issue. Well – I wonder, is it the ‘condition’ or is it the anti-psychotic meds that cause that? And to me, if I was trapped in a small apartment, living with my abuser – I would completely shut down also.

So it’s painful to talk to her. It’s good, in that we’ve shared a lot of our struggles with each other, and I can talk about most things and she’ll understand. But her situation seems so very sad to me, and I can’t really say much about it without offending her. She has no prospects of ever getting off of disability, off of meds and working. Of ever being able to afford much of anything, like being able to live on her own or with someone she chooses.

I always want her to get angry. Maybe you can’t get off the couch because you’re angry? No, she doesn’t feel angry. Then I remember trying to get her to feel her anger twenty years ago. It didn’t happen then either.

I am so sad this friend’s life has gone this way.

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22 comments
  1. That is very, very sad.

    I find the heat really hard, as well. I’ve come to suspect that I find being uncomfortable to be more triggering than I realized. The thing is that it triggers the dissociation, so I don’t really notice the discomfort until it’s severe. So often I never notice the discomfort part and never do anything to help make myself feel better.

    I hope that the rest of your week goes better. I know that we are about to cool off a bit, hopefully you will, as well.

    • Ellen said:

      Sorry you suffer from the heat also, but interesting. Dissociation is so tricky. I also don’t notice very soon – for instance, I could turn on the AC much sooner, when there’d be more chance of getting things cooler in the first place, and I don’t. Once I’m dissociated, everything feels a bit unreal, and I’m less able to cope and think about how to make things better. The trick must be catching things very early.

      Thanks for the good wishes. We are also to cool off a bit. I seem to check the weather every hour, and that’s what it says. 🙂 Hope you catch some cooler breezes as well.

  2. We all have to make our own path in life, but it’s hard when we see a dear friend or family member on a path that doesn’t seem to lead anywhere. It’s hard to know sometimes if they truly can’t take another path or only believe they can’t, but they actually could. I think about this a lot because my older son is a young man with autism who does essentially nothing. He receives a small amount of social security (just $700 per month, really not enough to live on), and he hangs out in the home of his girlfriend’s parents. He doesn’t look for a job. He doesn’t go to college. He doesn’t volunteer or take a class or participate in sports or belong to a club. I’d love for him to do any of these things, but he doesn’t have the motivation. Maybe he can’t help it, I think. Maybe his developmental disabilities prevent him from feeling motivated to do anything. Or maybe he has let his anxiety make himself so afraid of failing that he is refusing to try anything. I honestly don’t know, and I often wonder how I should respond to him. The one thing I do know, however, is that it’s impossible to make other people do what you think would be good for them. So for now I am just trying to let him know I love him, and to be good role model by taking care of myself and my own life.

    I hope the loneliness and the doldrums are just short-term visitors that will soon depart. Best wishes, Q.

    • Ellen said:

      It is very hard to know isn’t it. I’m sorry about your son. I also have a son who is similar. He doesn’t have a diagnosis, but the last two years, he has not been able to do anything at all. He dropped out of university, and now stays with his grandparents. He believes he is allergic to dust, and it completely disables him, however, the doctor didn’t find he tested allergic. I also just keep showing up to take him to dinner and chat. I don’t know what else to do. I’ve offered to pay for therapy, naturopaths, anything he wants to try, but he refuses everything.

      It seems positive that your son does have a girlfriend, so is able to sustain a relationship. I know it’s impossible to get him to do anything. I actually went to a group for parents when he was a teenager, and that’s what they taught – you can’t make them do stuff. You can let natural consequences happen.

      It is distressing, but I think you’re right – taking care of our own lives is a good step. I personally feel guilty that I didn’t give my son the childhood he needed. But all I can do now is try and be there for him however I can.

      Thanks for sharing your story Q.

  3. Andi said:

    Heat makes me groggy and lethargic, which always makes me more dissociative. Sorry about your friend – that’s tough stuff.

    • Ellen said:

      Sorry you too are suffering….interesting about the dissociation. I am not alone I see. Thanks Andi

  4. Kelly said:

    I’m sorry about your friend, and the heat. The things you have accomplished are fucking amazing. You got the skills and means to take care of yourself and get away from a destructive mess. That is a big deal, especially when women are still paid less. Loneliness definitely sucks. I personally have a really hard time with loneliness. I use a kind of new age-y concept to help me with my loneliness. The concept is that we are never alone because the goodness of things is all interconnected, and if the Universe is our home, then we are never lost. Its abstract, it may not be something that helps you, but in any case, you are quite a strong lady. It is unfortunate that your friend has not decided to do the same, and it must exacerbate the loneliness. It is also a testament to how much you have grown, because when you met her you were a different person. Geez, Ellen, I wish we could go have a cup of coffee and take a deep breath. Thanks for sharing what is difficult. Thanks for sharing yourself.

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks Kelly. I like your ‘new agey’ concept of connection. It sounds similar to a Buddhist view I also like, a way of feeling that all beings are connected. Sometimes that helps me also.

      I don’t think my friend could have simply decided to go in a different direction. She’s doing the very best she can do. Just – it hurts to see it, plus I need to bite my tongue, because I don’t believe some of the things she believes.

      It is a testament to how much I’ve grown though, which I kind of realized while writing. Coffee would be great. 🙂 Thanks for the kind words.

  5. that situation with your friend is so tough. i’m sure she’s really unhappy inside. she might not say so but she probably is. heat is icky. makes me really dissociative too. XX

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, it’s a tough one. It’s cooled off here, and I feel quite a bit better. Hope it’s cooled off some where you are too. Though I think it does not get as hot over there in England (I think that’s where you live?).

      Thanks Many.

      • No I live in Ireland not in England, it doesn’t get hot over here really not super hot anyway

        • Ellen said:

          My great grandmother was Irish. I think I have an Irish type constitution that doesn’t expect hot weather.

  6. It seems like the triggers are really intense just now. Ron is away, you don’t have much work, you are home alone, it’s hot…Take care.

    • Ellen said:

      They were intense in the heat, but it’s cooled off, so I’m doing quite a bit better thanks. Sometimes such chance things make a big difference. Thanks Ashana

  7. cardamone5 said:

    It is sad when we encounter a friend who can’t seem to help themselves, esp. when a mental illness is involved. You did the best you could be listening.

    • Ellen said:

      It is sad. I don’t really believe in ‘mental illness’ as per the medical system, but try not to say much about it. She is doing the best she can.

  8. Cat said:

    That is a very sad situation for your friend. I think you’re right, there’s little chance of any improvement in MH until she breaks free from the hell hole…tut…I am so thankful to live alone.

    I had no idea you only split from your ex 5yrs ago. You’ve done remarkably well to have moved so far after the abuse of a narc (was he a narc?). I have a similar reaction to heat, but thankfully we’ve had perfect temps in London, very unusual for this time of year.

    • Ellen said:

      I am thankful I live alone also. It seems key to my healing to be away from any hint of abuse.

      I actually split from my ex before that, but as I had no income, he split his house into two apartments, and I lived in one. It wasn’t that good of a solution, and five years ago I finally moved. I don’t think of my ex as a narcissist. He’s got some kind on anxiety disorder, plus can’t control his rages – almost like borderline maybe? I really don’t know.

      Glad you’re enjoying a temperate summer.

      Thanks Cat

      • Ellen said:

        Sorry, I forgot you identify with ‘borderline’. Um…I have no flipping idea what is wrong with my ex, but something definitely is. How’s that for a diagnosis? 🙂 Take care

      • Cat said:

        Sorry to hear you’re still sweltering. Would you believe me if I said I just put the heating on for an hour? It’s the coolest I’ve ever known London in July

        • Ellen said:

          Wow. I’m pointing my AC at me wherever I go! But it’s normal for July here. Hopefully it’ll warm up a bit for you, just not too much!

          • Cat said:

            It’s now official – July is the coldest on record in London

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