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Nov. 19th, 2010 @ 02:36 pm Living On a Thread
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
A strange thought has been with me as I've taken my anti-depressant medication the last few days. I have a beautiful wife whom I love dearly, and for reasons I cannot fathom, loves me back the same way. I have two fantastic children that are a light to my life. Life is good. Yet, if I stop taking these little pills every morning, in about four months time I will literally want to die. All because, for whatever reasons, some stupid chemicals don't interact properly with some stupid wiring in my head. Everything between now and four months in the future might be exactly the same, yet I will be incapable of feeling happiness, pleasure or joy. Instead I will feel anxiety and fear – about everything, anything and nothing. It will all be too much. I will want to die.


“Why aren't you happy?”
“Because I have depression.”
“Well then, why are you depressed?”
“Because I can't feel happy.”
“Couldn't you try not being depressed?”
“You mean pretend I'm happy even though I'm not and maybe I'll be able to shake it off?”
“Yeah, why can't you do that?”
“I tried that once.”
“Did it work?”
“No, it made me feel worse. I ended up sitting in the bottom of my closet measuring bits of cord, just so I knew if they were long enough to hang myself with.”
“Oh.”

“So you can't just shake this off then?”
“Nope, too depressed.”
“And you can't feel happy because your depressed?”
“Nope.”
“And you're depressed because you can't feel happy?”
“That's right, you got it.”
“I don't understand.”
“I know. That's okay though. There's a little piece of me that is glad that you don't understand and hopes you never do.”



The number of depressed people in your social circle may stagger you. (Especially the number of guys.) And no two may end up dealing with it the same. For me, treatment involved finding the right medication to make the stupid chemicals and stupid wiring work better. These things are not asprin and not to be taken lightly. Medication is a trade-off of the desired positive effects, against undesirable side-effects.

Some people use meditation. Others have ongoing therapy. I had therapy for the first few years after my diagnosis of PTSD to debride the huge amounts of shame and self blame over the years of sexual abuse I suffered. I don't need the therapy any more. Indeed, I was doing so well there was even thinking I didn't need the medication any more, but four months later...

So, for me, it's medication for life. For others it's something else. It could be looking in the mirror every morning and saying, “I'm a pretty princess.”  If that works or you, then great! I envy you.

There is no silver bullet. Pragmatism trumps opinion. If, and I stress, if what you are doing is working for you, then I wish you good fortune, and would never tell you you're doing it the wrong way.
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Sep. 30th, 2005 @ 05:11 pm New and Interesting Things I've Learned About Drugs
Avanza is okay for day to day, but doesn't really hold me up well under stress.

Thus, while things seemed relatively calm thought it was a good time to go back to Effexor, which seems to work well for me apart from a few side-effects which I can live with.

Coming off the Avanza, or re-starting the Effexor can trigger incredibly strong panic attacks which, after a week were actually getting worse, not better.

And lastly, Xanax is your friend. Xanax can make drilling a hole in your head perhaps not look like quite the best solution for releasing the pressure build up.

But don't worry, every day I'm getting better and better. That's what the little green men from Mars keep telling me...

Dic. H.
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May. 9th, 2005 @ 11:46 pm More Invective
In my previous entry I talked about the five love languages and pondered if the sexual abuse I experienced as a child of nine effected my primary love language(s) or not.

Comments from da_rosas and sparklndymnd got me thinking a bit more on the topic more with regard to abuse survivors in general, and not just my own predicament.

First, if you are interested, below are a few links to some online quizzes to determine your main love language(s). I make no claim as to the veracity or accuracy of these. Caveat emptor:

Quiz 1
Quiz 2
Quiz 3

Note that I think we can and do express and receive love in all ways from time to time, but one or two of them are the main ways you recognise and have the most impact with you. For instance — as Sophie will testify — I am not one for expressing love through acts of service, I'm not good with the little things, but if you're a friend of mine and you need someone to help you move house, or need a ride because your car has broken down, then I'm your man.

I think abuse can really effect the way you receive and/or express love. For one thing, it can really screw up your notions of what loving behaviour is and isn't, just as it screws up your perceptions of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in general, leaving you to question yourself a lot sometimes.

I see two main types of effect of abuse to a person's acceptance and expression of love: desensitisation and craving.

Desensitisation

One of the symptoms of PTSD is shutting down emotionally or feeling emotionally numb. This includes having loving feelings or feeling any strong emotions. This may also manifest as a distaste or refusal to accept expressions of love in particular forms. For instance someone who is verbally abused and put down all the time may not be able to accept affirmation or compliments, always suspicious. Someone who was physically or sexually abused may find physical contact uncomfortable or disconcerting.

It seems to me that desensitisation can lead to two opposite forms of behaviour:
  • Withdrawal — where you take the emotional numbness to a high art form. Rarely expressing any genuine positive emotion other than cynicism and disdain.
  • Indulgence — seeking out something, anything, to make you feel something again. This would often be self-destructive things like drugs or promiscuity.
Craving

Craving would be trying to find love in any way that you can. If your view of love has been distorted by abuse, you could be trying to find love in behaviour similar to the abuse that occurred in the first place. Some victims of abuse can find themselves easily involved with other abusers in the search for love, becoming prey for the abusive predator.

Others craving love can find caring and genuine suitors, but paradoxically be unable to accept that these people can really love “the real them”.

Thoughts?

Dic. H.
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May. 8th, 2005 @ 06:12 pm Vulgar Language
Have you every heard of the five love languages? Apart from being a series of books, its also a theory that there are five different ways that people express and receive love:

1. Words of affirmation
2. Receiving gifts
3. Quality time
4. Acts of service
5. Physical touch

I'm not sure how widely accepted this is in psychological circles or if it is just Dr. Chapman's pet theories that he's been able to spin to a money making series of books (yes I am cynical), but I definitely am the physical touch type when it comes to receiving and expressing love and affection. Words of affirmation or encouragement would be my second most common.

(Funnily enough, Sophie is an acts of service kind of person — sometimes opposites really do attract!)

I was thinking about this this morning. Hmmm... physical touch and words of affirmation... two things that really get used the wrong way when you are sexually abused. I wonder if these are my love languages because they were really hammered badly when I was nine years old — many parts of my psyche still forming — or if the they have been (or would have been) my love languages all along.

Dic. H.
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Apr. 29th, 2005 @ 11:27 pm Confronting the man behind the curtain, part II
Things have been very busy of late. I've been working on a contract which has involved a lot of long days and weekend work, so I haven't had a lot of time to stop and smell the roses, let alone introspection.

Anyhoo... what things have been like since confronting my brother?

To be honest, I was really, really flat for a while after that (as Sophie would definitely testify to!).

Didn't really understand why until I talked with my therapist about it. One of the aspects of confronting my brother and his admitting responsibility is a kind of validation of the fact that, hey, it was a bloody awful thing I went through, and I'm allowed to acknowledge that fact now. The immediate associations of shame and guilt are loosened a bit, allowing other things through.

So, while you might expect a great weight off your shoulders, or some kind of euphoria, there's actually been a period of grief. Grief for what happened I guess.

Also, while knowing in your head that this was no magic bullet that would cure me, I suppose there was a little bit of disappointment that it didn't anyway.

At any rate, I think I'm pretty much past that period, and being kept as busy as I have has probably helped in some ways.



Working as a contractor, I'm having to learn to handle the insecurity of not having regular work lined up for long periods at a time, which is very new and quite challenging for me. I'm winding up on this current two month project next week, and it looks like I've got three weeks of bits and pieces stuff after that, and then we'll see. At any rate, so far, so good.

There's probably a bit more I could ramble on about, but its getting towards bed time and I'm not feeling the most articulate. Just wanted to lodge a brief status update with my lj friends.

Dic. H.
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Mar. 14th, 2005 @ 12:24 am Confronting the man behind the curtain...
Current Mood: numbnumb
At the start of last month I posted an entry called Fear and loathing in Dichotomy Hubris.

It was about how I feel so cut off a lot of the time from support from other people because I can't share what happened. I am bound up by shame and humiliation over being sexually abused by my own brother.

Well, I ended up taking a copy of that entry to my therapist, as I felt I needed to talk about it more. We discussed the aspects of my abuse that really involve his instilling of shame and humiliation in me as a form of control and dominance.

That shame translates in a large way to the fact that it was my own brother, a family member that did it. Now a few of my friends know I was abused, but the identity of my abuser is the one little kernel of fact I haven't told anyone except my wife and health professionals.

This excerpt from my previous entry sums up a lot of it:
Some of these people I have known a long time. Some of these people have also known my brother for a long time. None of them would have an inkling of what he did to me before they knew either of us.

I'm isolated by my own shame and fears. What would they think of me if they knew. If it had been some stranger or something it might be different. What would they think of my family.
Now besides the fact I've just realised upon re-reading that I should have had a lot of question marks instead of periods on those rhetorical questions — there is a lot of pain and shame bound up in those words.

One thing my therapist said was that the only way to really, really know how people are going to react if you tell them who abused you it to actually tell them and find out. My immediate response was, “Well, that's no good to me, tell me another way!”

I don't agree with every observation my therapist has made about me, some we've discussed and others we haven't (or at least I haven't), but — damn her eyes — I think in the end she is right about this one.

So, for me, the first step to talking to other people about this, people who know my brother, is to talk to my brother about this. To at least warn him.

You're reaction to that may be, “Stuff him! He deserves what he gets and you don't owe him anything!”, and you'd probably be right. I didn't say I owed it to him to warn him, I said the first step for me was to warn him. I had to do that, to at least treat him fairly or decently on that level, without compromising what I need to do to heal myself.

If you've survived abuse that may not be an aspect for you, but it was for me. The only common factor I have seen in survivors paths to healing is that they are worked out in excruciating increments.

So I've been working up to it. A few weeks ago I told him I wanted to talk to him about some stuff. Hadn't seen him since then because he was away on a business trip, so I had a reprieve for a while.

So this afternoon, brother drops in to return some stuff he had borrowed of mine, and to pick up a book I had borrowed of his. We're sitting there talking about some stuff, all the while the back of my head is going “how do I do this?”

Sophie knows what I'm planning so she's staying out of the room and keeping the kids entertained down the other end of the house. I start talking about how I've been having therapy lately for something called PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, sort of easing myself up to it.

So then I say, if I've got Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, then there must have been some Trauma to be Post, as it were. He agrees. I say the trauma occurred when I was about age nine and that I was sexually abused. He looks me in the eye and says, “By me.”

“Yes.”

Long silence.

“Why did you do that?”

“I don't know.”

We started to talk more. This may seem a bit surreal but we were having this calm, casual conversation more or less. No hysterics, no accusations and denials, no outpouring of emotions. We, just, talked.

Like me, his memories of that time are a bit hazy and fragmented too. I've mentioned before how my brother is a bit of an odd person and it wouldn't surprise me at all if he had some form of Asperger's Syndrome or similar condition. Well, one thing he mentioned was that our mum would tell him she didn't understand him at all, and vent that frustration verbally in a lot of ways. He always saw me as the favoured sibling. I believe he even said that mum told him she wished he hadn't been born. I don't know about any of that, I don't recall, but while I'm a bit surprised I can believe it possible. However he did say that while it may, in part, explain why he did what he did, it doesn't excuse what he did.

We talked for a bit. Some of the relevant things to come out of it were:
  • He takes full responsibility for what he did. He may not really know why he did it, but he knew it was wrong and there are no excuses.

  • He regrets it. He apologised for it. He understood that may not be worth much, but he offered it for what it was anyway.

  • He can understand my need to talk to others about this, and I should do what I need to do. He wasn't giving me permission, he knew I wasn't asking for that, he just acknowledged that I need to do this and he appreciated my giving him a heads up.

  • He knows this has been a big silent wall between us for a long time. He hopes that perhaps we can repair our relationship in the future but will understand if that never happens.
All in all it went about as well as I expect these things could go.

All in all, I think he's been expecting this for a long time.

So how am I now? To be honest I'm numb. After he had left, Sophie and I sat on the bed and I told her about it all. We had to go about to a friends place not long after that for a while, so I really haven't had a lot of time to process it all yet. There's reaction going on. I think there's some relief. I can feel my heart racing a bit every now and again.

I'm glad tomorrow is a public holiday here because I suspect reaction will come to the surface tomorrow, once I have some space, it's all happening in the back of my head at the moment, and will come forward once it's processed a bit.

I guess that's one excruciating increment dealt with. I don't know exactly what it has achieved, or where it leads, but I think the path is going upwards... one less dark secret killing me slowly...

Dic. H.
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Feb. 7th, 2005 @ 01:07 am Chalky Cheese
First, I'd like to thank the_sad_girl for giving me permission to reference her journal entry and her identity. She is most gracious.

One of the community groups I read regularly is abusesurvivor, which is a “a place where all survivors of all kinds of abuse can share and heal”.

Often members, especially new members, will post an entry introducing themselves, and will often give a description of the abuse they survived, sharing what they went through.

It may sound morbid, but believe it or not it can be a healthy thing to be able to share things like this with a group of people who have been through similar experiences as yourself.

My therapist used an expression a while ago which I really like, which was “Emotional shorthand”. People with similar powerful experiences such as abuse have an emotional shorthand where they can convey a feeling or concept in just a few words, or a turn of phrase, or a shrug of the shoulders that is totally foreign to those who haven't been where they've been. You don't have to explain everything explicitly, you have a... communion... a rapport. Being able to share your experiences or what you're currently going though with people with the same emotional shorthand can be healing.

One thing I've noticed in myself, and judging by comments in entries from others, is a habit when reading about other peoples experiences to immediately compare their level of abuse to your own. It may not even be something conscious that you do, and it definitely isn't a case of trying to judge if they qualify or not, it absolutely isn't that, its just... I don't know... kind of automatic. There's this rating scale, you just rate their experiences on the scale compared to yours, then it's gone again. Usually.

I'm gonna put a cut here because some things start to get graphic.

Here be dragons...Collapse )

Dic. H.
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Feb. 6th, 2005 @ 11:27 pm Fear and loathing in Dichotomy Hubris
(I posted this in abusesurvivor, but have pasted it in here to keep a record of it in my own journal. It's a raw one.)

I am sort of a member of a missional community. (The “sort of” is a long story and not really relevant.)

Anyway, tonight about forty people gathered together in a home to share stories about out community which has been going for about two years now.

One of the guys was talking about how they have had a very hard time in the last year or so coming to terms with discovering their son is a high-functioning autistic. He mentioned the support and acceptance he and his family have had in the group as they come to terms with this, and for some reason it just hit me in the guts.

I feel so cut off a lot of the time from things like this because I can't share them. Although in my head I know it wasn't my fault, in my emotions the shame is still there. How can I access this support? How can I get what he got because I just can't talk about it, and it's so difficult for outsiders to understand. We are so isolated by a veil of unexperience.

Some of these people I have known a long time. Some of these people have also known my brother for a long time. None of them would have an inkling of what he did to me before they knew either of us.

I'm isolated by my own shame and fears. What would they think of me if they knew. If it had been some stranger or something it might be different. What would they think of my family.

Maybe I should have titled this entry, “Damned if you do, damned if you don't”.

That's it, I'm spent.

Dic. H.
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Dec. 30th, 2004 @ 04:42 am Unsupportive support?
Being a bit of a newbie to blogs and weird things like talking about your feelings and stuff, I sometimes find when adding a comment to blog entry made by someone else I'm not entirely sure what is proper and what is not.

Tonight (or rather this morning) has been a prime example. One person mentioned they are are having a lot of flashbacks lately and would like some support. I'm thinking, “Okay, you can just say 'sorry' or the usual 'hang in there' when you don't really know what else you can do or say. I can say how I can identify with how they are feeling if I have had similar circumstances, or is that just a case of misery loves company? Is there anything practical I can suggest?”.

Lots of swirling thoughts like that.

Another case in point tonight was a fairly complicated relationship situation another friend described. Again, you want to be supportive, but in the face of something complicated or painful, a simple “Gee that's rough, I hope it all works out” feels tantamount to saying “Sucks to be you”.

Then again, it certainly ain't my place to tell someone else around here what I think they should do, and so how far should you go on giving opinions that may or may not be welcome?

I end up spending a lot of time reading and re-reading what I say, trying hard to be inoffensive while still expressing the facets I feel important or want to say.

It's a balancing act between not wanting to just offer empty commiseration, but also not wanting to be rude or butt in or give an opinion when it was not wanted in the first place.

Besides, I'm getting to like a lot of these people and I don't want to offend them. I worry too much.

Maybe it's also one of those male/female things. When Sophie talks about a problem sometimes she just wants some support, or acknowledgment, or affirmation. Sometimes she just wants the listening ear. Now all that acknowledgement and affirmation stuff I can do, but I'm also trying to figure out a solution to the problem too. And if she gets huffy about that is like, “well why did you tell me in the first place if you didn't want me to help you fix it?” Bad impulse! Go to your room!

And to make matters worse, I'm a computer programmer. I make a living out of trying to fix problems, so it's kind of second nature.

Anyway, I'm rambling a lot, mainly because it's four-thirty in the morning now and five hours ago when Sophie went to bed I said I would “be there soon”.

Dic. H. (who can't at the moment think of an analogy that doesn't suck)
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Dec. 25th, 2004 @ 08:52 pm Inconceivable!
Current Mood: amusedamused
“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

-- The Princess Bride

I love the English language, if for no other reason than the countless opportunities to be misconstrued.

Example one:

I was at a gathering at a persons house, there was a young lady there who was sitting on a footstool. One of those soft, usually stuffed vinyl misshapen things that people usually rest their feet on.

Someone mucking around accidentally knocked this young lady onto the floor, and I made the comment that she got knocked clean off her poof.

Now “poof” is an old word for exactly what she was sitting on, a footstool. (They call them “ottomans” these days, I don't know why.) It is also a British and Australian slang term for a male homosexual. Guess she didn't know the original meaning, and only knew the slang one. Good first impression to make, eh?

You would think from the context she would figure perhaps I wasn't saying what she thought I was saying. It's like the word “gay” use to mean you were happy, but now it almost exclusively means your a — errr — poof.

People can take anything out of context, and that is why comic writers avoid the word “flick”.

A comic book writer named Peter David wrote a column where he mentioned a letter of complaint that he got from a parent over some dialog in one of his comics, where the villain says something like, “I could crush you as easily as I would flick a bug from my shoulder.”

Two salient details: Lettering in comic books is usually all capitals, and sometimes the ink can run a bit.

Thus, the “L” and the “I” kind of ran together to look more like a “U”, making another word that is not exactly a good out loud word.

The kicker is that reading the sentence that way didn't make any sense at all. But she still complained rather then use logic.

It could have been worse, he could have named the villan “Clint Flicker”.

Example two:

Organising lunch after a church service. Lots of people were still in the main hall and not moving out into the foyer where the food was, so, being the sound guy on duty that morning, I plugged a microphone into the board and asked if people could move out into the foyer so we could say grace and commence mastication.

Granted, I intended for people to do a double take, but one little old biddy got most upset with me. Not sure what she thought I said...

Anyway, being December 25th, allow me to wish you a gay yuletide season, and the opportunity to masticate with friends and family.

Dic. H.
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