We’ve experienced denial, then anger, then bargaining, and now we come to depression.
Already mentally exhausted from coming to grips with the abuse, we can easily feel like we are at the end of our rope.
I’ve been there, I still battle depression. It normally hits me randomly rather than being a constant state in my daily life. Sometimes it hits right after a particularly intense session with a professional. Other times I’m triggered out of the blue and down for the count for an evening or a weekend.
Those mystery ninja triggers are so frustrating and just irritating. You don’t see them coming and they hit like a freight train!
We sit at home on a weekend, not wanting to go out because we just don’t feel like it. We don’t want to be around other people, to begin with, much less happy people. Even going to the grocery store and needing to interact with a happy cashier seems like “just too much work”.
We don’t want people to come over and try to cheer us up, because it’s either going to feel like they are placating or we don’t want to bring them down because then we’d feel even worse.
Besides, they couldn’t possibly understand what we are going through anyway. I admit I’ve thought like that; totally not ashamed to admit it. It’s reality here people.
It’s so much easier to sit alone in the dark, to stay at home and just sleep or watch TV, than try to fight through the sadness. The thought of picking ourselves up by our bootstraps and going on seems pointless.
We feel like we are damaged goods. We were sexually abused, raped, trafficked, abandoned, starved…insert your own experience here.
Why would anyone want to hang around us if they knew the truth of what we went through? We feel dirty, used up, cheap, and like we just don’t deserve to be out and about, living our life the way others are. Much less living a life we hoped to have for ourselves.
We can’t trust anyone to keep their word, and on top of that, we can’t trust ourselves to make good decisions. The fewer times we have to put ourselves in a position of opening up to others and risk getting hurt or hurting someone we love, the more justified we feel. We can rationalize that so easily…I know because I’ve done it.
This stage can last a very long time because depression has a way of getting ahold of us and not so easily letting go.
In the case of survivors, when we are going through the stages of grief about our past, it can be a frustrating situation.
Not only are we depressed because we are aware of the emotional and physical trauma we endured, but we may have suffered from depression before we ever knew why in the first place.
Talk about a double whammy!
A study by King’s College in London showed that after reviewing 26,000 people, those who experienced at least 1 of the following situations as a child were more than twice as likely to experience depression as an adult.
- Rejecting interaction from their mother.
- Harsh discipline reported by a parent.
- Unstable caregiver throughout childhood.
- Self-reports of harsh physical or sexual abuse.
So, once we come to grips that we were twice as likely to experience depression, we get even more depressed. Then we find out why we are feeling depressed, and it gets even worse.
The whole situation is a chain effect and it’s like, can we catch a break?!
Exploring our past is deep, powerful, work and the truth is painful to accept.
We need to be aware of how intense these feelings are, and not try to go it alone. It’s important, as I’ve found out first hand, to seek out help. I know it sounds cliché, trust me I get it.
What’s the alternative here? We stay home, secluded in our safe room, away from a cruel world that doesn’t understand why we feel the way we do. While it’s true that not everyone understands, we can’t use that as a reason to stay closed off from the world forever.
You deserve more than that, whether you believe it or not right now. Once you do start to embrace that you can sit with the depression and slowly crawl your way out, it can be very powerful. You start to believe what others have told you and what you wanted to believe for yourself all along.
When you break down your feelings and analyze them with someone who understands, you can start to piece together why you feel the way you do. You can begin to see that there is a healing light in the distance that may not have been present before, but it begins to shine just a little bit brighter as we work through our past.
I challenge myself as I write this and I challenge you, to accept that it’s ok to go through depression during your survivor journey. Sit with it, feel it, embrace it, but most importantly seek out help to work through it so it doesn’t continue to rule your life.
There is hope and there is healing, and the fact that we’ve come this far in the 5 Stages of Grief means that freeing feeling of Acceptance is ahead just waiting for us with open arms.
Feature image courtesy of pixabay.com – other images credited in tags and urls.