Search

Support Forum

SANE Support Forum

Painfully lonely and exhausted *trig*

For sharing your experiences and feelings about mental illness
streetspirit
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:14 am

Painfully lonely and exhausted *trig*

Postby streetspirit » Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:20 am

I've struggled with insomnia for over 10 years now and it's slowly but surely destroyed my life. I've developed anxiety, OCD and depression as a result. Before insomnia started I was very outgoing and confident. I thought I had friends too. When insomnia hit it was the most surreal and scary experience and suddenly the things I used to be able to cope with, without a second thought, now felt impossible to do. Since then I've pushed myself to keep going because that's what the multitude of therapists told me I should do. I even went back to university and got a masters in psychology and a pgc in primary mental health care. The message I felt I was receiving all the time was that insomnia is a case of mind over matter. Looking back now I think insomnia is a very poorly misunderstood mental health problem. In all the therapy sessions I have had the therapists have tried to make insomnia a symptom and not a cause of other mental health problems. They have also tried to convince me (when I've tried to explain that it's caused all the other mental health problems I have had) that I must have had depression/anxiety before the insomnia and just didn't realise it! This had lead to each therapist trying to treat the depression and anxiety without dealing with insomnia - the root cause. Insomnia is an anxiety disorder but I was treated as if I had GAD so the focus has always been off point.
I have very few friends now, had to resign from a very good job at the end of last year and have no family (apart from a strained relationship with my mum). I have dropped a large number of friendships because they don't understand or have much compassion for what I go through, despite the care and support I have given to them. I have been so consistently unwell for about 5 years now that I don't contact my remaining friends very often because I can't bear to keep telling them things aren't ok still. It makes me feel like the biggest loser and a burden. Ninety percent of the time I'm struggling and I can't put my last few friends through that with me. But it's catch 22 because this level of isolation is making things so much worse. I have so much love and care to give but I'm only human, need love and care back too. I feel like I am consistently unwell and therfore can't make new friends because no one would want to be friends with somebody like me who is so unwell. Friends have said "I'm here if you need to talk" but on the occasions where I have reached out, my feelings have been dismissed or I feel incredibly ashamed and like a burden and start feeling like the friend nobody wants to.be around. I realise I sound like I'm engaging in a pity party but it's the way I've been feeling for a very long time.
I ended up self harming for the first time in four years a couple of days ago. I wanted to kill myself but I had no guaranteed method and so I self harmed instead. I hear friends say "things will get better", "you're just having a bad period, you'll come out of it" but that's not actually the reality that I know and shows a lack of awareness or understanding and they never actually help me get to that better place. It almost like in saying those words their part is over and done with. There's also an assumption that if I'm going to therapy a) that's the support taken care of and b) I should therfore get better. I think friends think that the therapy I attend permits them to make no effort to be there for me. The thing is I care a lot about people so even when I'm feeling awful I can still be there to support others, but what I can't do is provide support and get nothing in return.
Sorry for how long this post is....had a lot to get out it seems.

Fiona piano
Posts: 56
Joined: Sat Jan 28, 2012 10:37 pm

Re: Painfully lonely and exhausted *trig*

Postby Fiona piano » Thu Jan 19, 2017 1:24 pm

This is only a short reply for now, but just to say I understand a lot of those thoughts and feelings, especially around the effects of long-term isolation. I have some friends who I don't see very often but contact by email and sometimes phone or skype, but many times, I pause and don't make the call due to being too fragile in case the response is not empathetic.
If I have been isolated for too long, I try to go swimming, at least - this 'shifts the energy' a bit. With you, regular activity MIGHT help a little with the insomnia. I realise you must have tried all these things, so sorry for stating the obvious.

Isolation is bad: we end up acting like those poor zoo animals you see rocking and gnawing at themselves due to their distress at not being able to live normally.

I'm not an expert, but would advise you to try to build your self-esteem a little by taking those steps to reduce isolation - even phoning the Samaritans insteaad of a friend just to talk all the problems out: I have phoned so many times when so distressed with sheer loneliness (I am alone 99% of the time) and ALWAYS now when I am on the brink of self-harming - this happens occasionally when I become suddenly very very distressed or angry and is mostly to do with a dysfunctional friendship I have with a man where I have had to battle obsessive feelings. I have known him for nearly four years and at last the feelings are settling a little and the friendship is still there.

If you and I were to build ourselves up a little wih swimming, joining a walking group (in nature), contacting other humans via this forum, or the Samaritans etc., then we are a bit stronger to deal with those 'blows' from friends and family. I have always been overly sensitive and will ruminate unhealthily for days and weeks about a tiny slight from someone, or from them not understanding me.

Even one of my closest friends has shocked me and hurt me badly with her lack of empathy, yet is in other ways the best friend a person could have. This last Christmas I had NO invitation from four different households of my immediate family, including both sets of parents and two sisters etc. THis friend invited me (as she did last Christmas, which I spent with her and her two grown up sons): she knew I had no other invitations and said I would be always welcome in her home - always and at any time. I even lived there for three months between house moves a couple of years ago, and she was/is the most generous hearted person.

YET, she does not share my beliefs and feelings about animals and when I was absolutely devastated when my dog died, she told me to give her dog a cuddle and was very dismissive, because she personally is very strong emotionally and is very 'oh well they had a good innings' about bereavement: even when her own mother died she was very practical and stable about it. She expressed some sadness - she's not a robot! - but so psychologically stable to the point where it shocks and baffles me, as I am the diametric opposite.

Anyway, it hurt me SO much when she couldn't empathise about my dog's death - I thought she might at least pretend to care and comfort me through it but she could not empathise on this issue - full stop. I wanted to scream, if a woman lost a child would you say, here hold this one (another child) and expect the woman to be comforted?

It took me a while to get over that. But over the years I have accepted that we all feel and perceive things so differently. I am a aware some of this may sound patronising and I don't mean it to.

And I've rambled on...! Just to say, I think tackling the existential loneliness is so important here.

With best wishes.

streetspirit
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:14 am

Re: Painfully lonely and exhausted *trig*

Postby streetspirit » Thu Jan 19, 2017 2:19 pm

Hello Fiona,
I'm very grateful for your considerate reply, thank you. And thank you for making suggestions that may help. Insomnia is a tricky beast because it continues precisely because you learn that being tired/exhausted doesn't guarantee you sleep at night so you become petrified of bedtime (apologies if you suffer from it and already understand all of this). In the early days I used to exercise 3-4 times per week but as the insomnia was never treated my mental health declined further and I developed crippling ocd. One of the problems with my ocd is that the more tired I am the worse my ocd becomes so insomnia and ocd feed into each other. If I exercise whilst I am experiencing insomnia the ocd goes off the chart so I conserve the little energy I do have to "cope" with the ocd. I've been receiving therapy for over a year to tackle the ocd which has had some success in reducing my compulsive behaviours. The objective was to try to get the ocd under better control so that things felt more manageable in every day life but all the other mental health problems are severe so I'm battling with all of "them" as well.
I only have 10 sessions left of therapy after which time I will have to wait at least 1.5 years before I can access more.

I'm really pleased to hear that you have a best friend who has given you so much support in the past. But I am equally sorry to hear that they have been so dismissive of the death of your beloved dog. I can totally understand how crushing that must have felt. We can maybe expect/accept less close friends or strangers to elicit unhelpful responses but those who are closest can cause more hurt. We have an expectation (sometimes subconscious) that those that are closest to us "get" us because we have shared so much of ourselves and our struggles with them. But I completely relate to what it can feel like being on the end of someone with apparent psychological resilience you have referred to below. I envy people who can shut down emotionally when it comes to difficult experiences but I think that it's not a form of psychological resilience but psychological avoidance. Someone with resilience, I believe, can face difficulties head on and work through them. Someone who is dismissive or overly practical with emotionally difficult issues is avoiding dealing with the emotion. This is protective in the short term for that person but it can lead to hurting others around you. It sounds to me like you have reconciled your feelings towards this friend and have weighed up the benefits and costs of the friendship and decided that maybe they're not the best person to approach for empathy about animals but is terrific support in other areas. It takes a lot of insight and strength to do that when you're not feeling great so hats off to you!

I have chosen to spend the last two Christmases alone and it was very liberating. The media and advertising builds up a social construct about what Christmas should look like and it's all to create dissatisfaction so that we buy a product to bridge the gap between where we are and what's in the advert or message. Once I stopped buying into that vision I felt freer. Being with family and friends shouldn't be a once a year occurance and I'm not going to fake it for Christmas just because the media is making me feel like I should! However saying that I'm pleased that your friend invited you for Christmas and that you felt able to go, it must have helped your frame of mind to know she cared.

I think you are right about the good that it can do talking openly on here and accessing support from the Samaritans. I feel less alone as a result. Again going back to what I said earlier, having people who get you or what it's like to go through these struggles helps to make you feel less abnormal. Mental health problems affect such a diverse group of people but I feel like we still exist in the shadows.

Thanks again for your reply and I hope nothing I have written has been upsetting for you. You sound like a very intelligent and caring person.

Hugs x

Fiona piano
Posts: 56
Joined: Sat Jan 28, 2012 10:37 pm

Re: Painfully lonely and exhausted *trig*

Postby Fiona piano » Thu Jan 19, 2017 3:20 pm

Thank you for your kind words. It really DOES help to be able to talk freely on here about the thoughts and behaviours which are troubling.

Just a thought before I consider your reply properly, and this thought is quite unconventional (I assume) and is not meant to be tactless:

would thinking about the whole concept of sleep in a different way change things for the better? Such as exploring the field of lucid dreaming? Or looking at the strange art and literature and poetry related to sleep and dreams, so that the concept changes into your mind from one of dread and obsession, to curiosity?

I know, it sounds weird, but it was just a thought. Sleep is such a strange phenomenon...

Bye for now!

streetspirit
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:14 am

Re: Painfully lonely and exhausted *trig*

Postby streetspirit » Thu Jan 19, 2017 4:22 pm

Thanks for your reply and what you have suggested definitely hasn't come across as tactless. I'm grateful you have put forward a suggestion like that. The thing about the insomnia is that it manifested because of fear and dread surrounding the affects of not sleeping. I had experienced sleepless nights prior to insomnia but insomnia started precisely because the physical effects of not sleeping profoundly affected my ability to fulfill the multitude of responsibilities I had at that time. What hasn't been addressed by any of my therapists is why a specific series of sleepless nights turned into chronic insomnia. They have never directly addressed or helped me to explore the cause of the original insomnia episode and so I've never been able to resolve and recover from that experience. Instead they have always assumed that it must have occurred due to an underlying mental health problem and therefore they have sought to treat the symptoms of insomnia (anxiety, depression and ocd) and not the cause. They have wrongly thought that by addressing the psychological symptoms of insomnia the insomnia will naturally go away. But this has never worked. It's like continually putting a sticking plaster on a gangrenous wound.

I'm sorry that is such a long winded and digressional reply to your suggestion! I don't mean to appear dismissive or ungrateful of your reply so please forgive me if it comes across like that.

Thanks again.

Fiona piano
Posts: 56
Joined: Sat Jan 28, 2012 10:37 pm

Re: Painfully lonely and exhausted *trig*

Postby Fiona piano » Thu Jan 19, 2017 4:52 pm

Sorry, I was misunderstanding the root cause, which seems to be the distress and obsessive rumination about the reasons for the first episode of insomnia.

And if I understand, all or most of the subsequent problematic issues have emanated from this lack of knowledge within your mind; the not-knowing the cause. Then, the intensity of obsessional anxiety over this not-knowing perpeptuates the circular thinking.

I am frightened to write this, as it may seem too bold: what may be an acceptable challenging question to me may be too upsetting for you, for example. But I am thinking, does it really matter what the cause of the original bout of insomnia was about? (Please tell me if you feel you're not strong enough for my approach here, as I really don't want to add to your frustrations about people not understanding the true cause of your distress).

Sent with best wishes.

Fiona piano
Posts: 56
Joined: Sat Jan 28, 2012 10:37 pm

Re: Painfully lonely and exhausted *trig*

Postby Fiona piano » Thu Jan 19, 2017 5:38 pm

Sorry, obviously it DOES matter, but I hope you understand what I mean. I am trying to work out if you're worried that a physical issue (aside from the exhaustion) caused this first bad bout, or whether it is the fact it arose from 'nowhere', the crux of this being that something profound happened for no apparent reason, and it this lack of logical cause in itself which is distressing you so greatly...

streetspirit
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:14 am

Re: Painfully lonely and exhausted *trig*

Postby streetspirit » Thu Jan 19, 2017 6:01 pm

Thanks for another very thoughtful reply and it's actually refreshing to have someone other than a therapist to bounce ideas off of. Your approach is very unique in my experience but incredibly insightful and valuable.
I'm probably getting myself in a muddle with my explanations!

I know that the cause of the original bout of insomnia was not triggered by physical ill health but most likely from a combination of factors which were environmental and psychological. I was 26 when it happened and was very carefree but had some ambition too. I led a very busy social life and was coping with everything until a few things happened to rock the boat in my personal life but something I had experienced before so the insomnia was a complete surprise and to be honest I had no clue what was going on, I didn't even understand that I was experiencing insomnia. So I guess it's the lack of logical cause that made the whole thing so immensely distressing - I couldn't understand what was happening and why.
The importance of knowing why you experience mental health problems including insomnia is so that you can recognise triggers that can lead to a decline and to work out what to do to try to maintain a healthy life so that running into triggers are less likely. No therapist (and I've seen a lot over the last 10 years) have ever attempted to help me with this. They have never helped me to analyse that first episode to ensure that I understood what happened and why and consequently the things I could do to manage better in the future. They always focused on the resulting anxiety and depression and treated those, hence the sticking plaster analogy.
I suppose another analogy which may help to explain my perspective on this is that it's like putting someone's arm in plaster after they have broken it and sending them on their merry way once the break has healed only for that same person to come back with a broken arm again the following week. The arm is plastered again and the person is sent on there way again, ad infinitum. A good physician would investigate why the patient keeps breaking their arm and help them identify ways that they can stop doing it rather than simply plastering it up every time the patient breaks it. Because each time the arm is broken the bones get weaker and it takes longer to heal. This goes for untreated mental health problems.
Does that make sense or confuse things further?!

streetspirit
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:14 am

Re: Painfully lonely and exhausted *trig*

Postby streetspirit » Thu Jan 19, 2017 6:14 pm

Apologies if the above comes across as didactic, I've just re-read it and realised it may come across that way. I'm preaching to the choir I'm sure so apologies.

Fiona piano
Posts: 56
Joined: Sat Jan 28, 2012 10:37 pm

Re: Painfully lonely and exhausted *trig*

Postby Fiona piano » Thu Jan 19, 2017 6:28 pm

Not at all! No problem. Damn I just posted an answer and the draft didn't save! I am giving this some thought!


Return to “Mutual Support Group”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 51 guests