Grief, depression and mental abuse- a lonely journey.

If you suffer from chronic depression, you may have your okay days, and your really low days. I can’t say I have experienced a day in the last 3 years where throughout the whole day I was nothing but happy. Even if I felt very flat, almost lonely in a way. That’s how I would personally describe my depression anyway.

I have experienced infant loss, I have experience domestic violence and mental abuse from a narcissist. I went from one terrible relationship to the next. How? Why? I have asked myself that as well, I have thought maybe I am just not worthy of love. Maybe I am just stupid.
Delving in a bit deeper with a psychologist uncovered something I never would have thought would matter. I am an individual, I am not my mother, I am not her mother, I am me so why does this pattern of abusive relationships keep me in a vicious loop?

My real father, was psychically and emotionally abusive to my mother and she left him when I was a baby. I haven’t met him since, I write to him every now and then and he responds but I don’t have an interest, nor have I ever really had a desire to spend time with him and get to really know him. I have had other father figures in my life and that was enough.
My mother’s, mother was in the same situation when my mum was a baby, an abusive relationship that she had to walk away from.
Now I also was in a very bad relationship, fell pregnant and I too will be a single mother.

History has repeated for a third time it would seem. My psychologist asked me if I have any relationships I can look up to and set an expectation for myself, I don’t actually know of any. I allowed myself to fall into a narcissists trap just because he wasn’t psychically abusive like my last boyfriend. He would often remind me that he was better than my last boyfriend also, I thought it was great. Little did I realize emotional torment would start and I would actually find it a lot harder to recover from than any psychical abuse I had ever experienced.

My mind was more delicate than my body ever was. Especially gone through having a still-born and then not knowing how to cope and isolating myself. I didn’t get the help I needed, I put all my grief and sorrows and locked it away inside the heart of a puppy. This is how my psychologist explained it, I thought I was insane and mistook the puppy for the baby I had lost, even though I knew he was a dog and not human it makes more sense that I would channel my grief into a dog.
It is not uncommon, and sometimes people will put their grief into an object. Then they have trouble parting with it. It becomes a symbol of their loss, something they can look at and touch.

Mine was living and breathing, mine was a puppy and they are hard work not so different from a child really. I knew what he sounded like, I knew he had a little quirky personality, I knew what his fur smelt like.

My grief made me so desperate, I felt like I just had to survive it. I had to survive myself, I had to find purpose otherwise I found myself slipping into darkness. I developed a way to cope with my dog, soon the darkness turned to just grey.
That is when I met someone who saw I was vulnerable and I became a target. I became prey.

I was made to prove myself while they barely lifted a finger, I was forking out thousands of dollars to travel overseas to see them and allow them to travel to me. They didn’t work, they had no money. They weren’t willing to work to afford to see me, they knew I was weak and they knew I would pay. They never offered to pay me back for plane tickets. They would accept it when I would suggest I pay dinner, sometimes really expensive restaurants, hotels, I even paid their bills. I just wanted to be kind because I truly cared for them.

Sometimes it helps to write all this down so I clearly see the way they acted was disgusting.
It gets worse because they were gaslighting me, telling me I had various sorts of disorders. They were using my weaknesses from an abusive past to prove I had all these disorders, just because I was anxious and frightened. They would prolong and heighten the fear so I would act out and then they would pounced on me. They were using things I thought I could trust them with to project any problem back onto me. It came down to it ALWAYS being my fault.

I believed it was, I believed I was a terrible person. I was isolated and felt like this person, this person that I knew I couldn’t trust was the only one I could turn to. I started to have family members turned against me, family members questioned by behavior. It was terrifying for me because that just proved I was losing my mind.
I was told I was negative because of depression, I was told that I shouldn’t be sad any longer for a child I had lost because I was having another, I was having theirs. I was told to find a way out and stop being depressed, basically. It made it worse because I started to force myself to feel happiness when I didn’t and it made me sick.

I have none of those disorders this person claimed I have. I was very stressed, I was very unhappy. Anyone who is working their back side off to support themselves and another adult who doesn’t seem to making an effort in return is stressful. Thinking you’re going insane is stressful, I even checked myself into a hospital one night out of fear of myself. Only to find I was fine, I was rational and I was self-aware, I was explaining the situation and the psychiatrist simply said “You are in an abusive relationship. Get out!”.

I did, and I am fine. I am no longer stressed, I am no longer worried about finances. I am making normal relationships with people and enjoying aspects of life again.
I am not cured of depression, I have my days where I get overwhelmed with grief still but that is okay. There isn’t a time limit on grieving and I found when I allowed myself to have my bad days and stopped forcing myself to have good ones, I began to heal, in my own time.

If someone truly loves you they will wait for you, especially when they knew you suffered all along. If they are impatient, if they expect you to feel happiness when you just cannot find it yet then they’re only inconvenienced for very selfish reasons.

It got really dark before I saw the light- I had a mental breakdown at 25.

Most of us use the term “I am having a mental breakdown” to describe a tough day or just when something isn’t going right, resulting in frustration.
I will never use the phrase loosely again, because I had actually did have a mental breakdown and it lasted months. The most scary part of having a nervous breakdown is that the person experiencing it has no idea they are actually having one. Well, at least I had no idea, I honestly thought I was going insane towards the end.
It had built up over years, my psychical and mental health slowly but steadily declined. I became extremely depressed, but at the same time I found ways to cope, grit my teeth and bare it. It is for this reason I did not seek professional help, I thought I was fine and I thought I was strong enough to beat it on my own.
I am strong, I pushed through the constant thoughts of suicide that entered my mind, I found happiness in the company of a dog and kept sane by my love of outdoors. When I felt my thoughts going to that dark corner of my mind, I knew it was time to saddle up my dog and go bush walking. I say saddle because he was huge, and I quite small so it always felt like I was tacking up a pony, there is no other way to describe getting my dog ready for a walk.

I went in labor at 19 weeks into a previous pregnancy, the thoughts from that night still haunt me and my brain has blocked out a lot of the trauma for me, but of course it’s still there, deep down those memories hide. It was a warm night, I remember that much, I was feeling unwell and thinking I was just over heating. The pain grew, and I knew something was very wrong. We were far from help, far from a town, even to call an ambulance I would still need to wait, and time wasn’t on my side. It was so quick and before I knew it I needed to push, I gave birth to a tiny baby girl in the car that night on the side of the road. Too fragile, too undeveloped to survive on her own. My brain was still logical at that point and I had to accept fate. She couldn’t breathe on her own, her lungs hadn’t developed to be able to do so. The world just could not take her, and she was born just to turn into an angel, at least that’s how my mother puts it.
I was only 23, at that age we never would guess how cruel the world can be until it decides to show us.

This was the starting point for my depression, but denial made it worse. I don’t remember much that happened in the weeks after, it seems like a blurred dream. Sometimes I think to myself “Did that really happen, or am I imagining it?” my psychiatrist said flashbacks are usually caused by the brain remembering a suppressed memory that is triggered by a certain situation, or even a sound or smell.
I have been told I would pace, I vaguely remember the pacing. I remember the soothing but odd feeling it bought me, as if I could pass time really quickly if I kept moving.
I spoke to various doctors, psychiatrists, and lots of other people after it happened but my brain wasn’t taking anything in, the lights were on but no one was home so to speak.

Just because a traumatic event happens to someone, does not mean they are going to immediately have a breakdown, or become severely depressed right away. It took almost 3 years for everything to catch up with me, and when it did, it hit me hard.
Unfortunately I dragged someone down with me, someone who really had no idea what he was getting himself into. He wanted to help, but he wasn’t a professional, he wasn’t psychically with me either, we was overseas but we spoke daily and at the time I thought it was enough. When I met him, well just before I met him I was at rock bottom, I had been in an abusive relationship with my former partner, the one I had the baby girl too. Even though him and I had separated about a year and half after the miscarriage I was free from his narcissistic abusive behavior but I was still struggling.
Then I met this other person, who held out their hand to me, little did he know at the time but he was a lifeline. Little did I know that I couldn’t be saved from the breakdown that was edging closer.

So what are the signs you could possibly be having a mental breakdown, keep in mind they don’t all come at once, symptoms include anxiety, depression, memory loss, distorted reality, flashbacks, unable to stop crying or stop yourself randomly bursting into tears, restlessness, dramatic change in mood, and a strong desire to self harm. There are many other symptoms because we are all different and all experience things at a different level of intensity but my psychiatrist said anything out of the ordinary that you wouldn’t normally be doing can contribute.
It is easy to believe you are insane, you forget the person you were before the depression even started, it becomes harder to imagine what it would be like to return to your former self because it’s been so long you have actually forgotten who that person was.

Pressure and stress makes it worse, unfortunately my quest to desperately recover added to it all. I need to get better, I need to be stronger, was the worse thing I could possibly tell myself as it added more pressure than I could handle. It adds pressure on others as well, those trying to help but are unsuccessful can’t understand what they’re doing wrong. This starts a whole vicious cycle of self blame as well as looking for others to blame.
There is hope yet, I started to receive professional help, I got to know and trust the people I talk to and my psychiatrist put me on medication before tackling my past trauma to make sure I had a more stable mind to avoid anything like this happening again.
Guess what? It is working, I am still very sad, I have lost a lot in the last year and I still have a lot of grieving to do but being able to freely grieve and know exactly what it is I am sad about, which is such a relief than being distraught and not entirely knowing why.

Having a mental breakdown does not mean you’re crazy. It means something is wrong and we are unable to help ourselves in that moment. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness and neither is going on medication. I have heard or even been told myself, that you do not need medication. Well sometimes you do if it helps.
Never let anyone else tell you what they think you might need because it could lead to a tragic ending, and if you or someone you know is suffering from depression seek medical advice because trying to tackle it on your own is a difficult and dangerious journey.

Our dogs can sense our emotions

Until now I have never got professional help for my depression, and even though I am receiving help its early days and I don’t feel any different yet, unfortunately.
3 years ago I had a miscarriage at 19 weeks into my pregnancy, it’s still very raw in my mind because after it happened my brain shut off. I don’t remember my stay in the hospital after it happened, but I have been told I would pace. I vaguely remember the pacing, it’s a haze but I can remember the feeling of stress and not being able to stay still.

I was in hospital for 7 days but the days and nights are the same to me, I wouldn’t eat, I slept all the time and if I was lucky enough I would have a moment where I would forget why I was sad, but it was only for a moment.
I didn’t want to talk about it, even though I wasn’t doing anything I was so exhausted even just to speak.

A little while on and I was given a gift, a puppy.
I know you cannot replace anyone you have lost in your life, everyone leaves a unique print on your heart. This puppy didn’t replace my baby, I know that now but at the time I was so desperate, and it was enough.
He was scared and sad too, he wanted his parents and his siblings and would cry out for them. I realized that he didn’t understand why his world had changed so dramatically and he needed me to make him feel safe and wanted.
I wanted him to settle in and be happy, I wanted him to have the best life he could possibly have.

It helped me to focus on him, I started to smile, at him because he knew that, that was me being happy, his little tail would wag. He knew if I had tears and was sad, and he would rush over to see if I was okay.
Eventually he was toilet trained, and I had trained myself to get out of bed and have a better day than the previous one.

I have been speaking to so many people with a similar story, how their dogs aid them through tough times. This makes me happy, it makes me happy to know that there are people who love and appreciate dogs as much as I do, because they are truly remarkable creatures.

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