Depression Comic 225 by Clay: Numbness

It’s always a challenge for me to distinguish grief and sadness from depression. I have to ask myself: is this grief? Is this appropriate sadness for some loss? Or am I actually depressed, and should do something about it, if I can? Today I am very sad because I gave up doing something I really wanted to do, but I had to acknowledge that I can’t do it because of the arthritis in my neck and shoulder and hands, and the fact that the course I had signed up for begins at 8 am. In order to get up at 8 am I would have to take my meds at 6 pm, but that would mean missing the important evening practice sessions. I cancelled, and now I am overcome with sadness. I hope I can use the time I would have spent taking the course to go somewhere beautiful in my new camper van…but this comic of Clay’s describes me to a “T” most of the time. A lot of it comes from the combination of being depressed and the enormous amount of trauma I’ve endured both in my personal life, and in my role as a pediatric emergency physician, seeing and attending to so many tragedies…so many times when I had to tell parents and loved ones, “I’m sorry…we did everything we could do, but we couldn’t save your….” You have to become numb, or you’ll just go instantly crazy. I never cried one tear during those days and nights, but I was afraid to go to sleep because of the dreams…and my only friends were also doctors…sound familiar? Like war veterans. We were on the battle front of life and death, and the PTSD is just the same as war veterans. We are the wounded warriors, and we have to stay numb because if we start feeling, all those dreadful memories might come flooding back…but I’ve learned to distinguish sadness and grief from depression and PTSD, but I am still afraid to go to sleep…so I take four different drugs to cause unconsciousness, and they don’t wear off until 9 am, so no refresher acupuncture course for me. And I’m genuinely sad about that, and about the conditions that limit my abilities. As my grandfather, may he rest in peace, used to say: “If you have your health you have everything.” And he knew that by experience. He lived with depression his whole life, in the days when it was considered a shameful thing, so he never got treated and died a bitter old man. And he was numb to everything, or at least he never had a cheerful word about anything. But he did spin quarters for me, and bought me tiny loaves of bread, and slathered me with olive oil when we went to the beach. I can still remember the grit of sand in my mouth, and becoming more and more covered with sand as it stuck to my skin. But even then, I saw things as if from a distance, already numb at eight years old. I did not cry when he died.

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  1. im part of this group too. yay?

  2. I feel your pain,my friend
    Love, hugs and lite
    My prayers are with you

  3. Laura, I could so identify with your experience as a wounded healer, PTSD from working the ER. I had similar experience working with battered women and SED youth. As a teenager, I volunteered in ERs. Growing up in an alcoholic family prepared me well for working in the midst of crisis and chaos. So sorry, though, about your childhood trauma. Some trauma is without doubt worse than other trauma.

    • I don’t think one can compare one person’s trauma with another’s and say one is worse than the other. Each person experiences their trauma subjectively. I think it has a lot to do with resiliency. I’ve seen some kids with horrendous physical illness or injury, inflicted or accidental, who managed to retain their sense of self and sense of humor, and did not consider themselves injured in any permanent way. On the other hand I’ve seen people with severe PTSD from events that we might consider trivial, but were clearly traumatic to them. I am a big fan of resiliency theory.

  4. Excellent post. Today I woke up and sobbed over the death of someone who died over thirty years ago. I had never cried. My therapy involves melting layers of emotional ice.
    Now I have feelings that I’ve never had. I had a talk with my therapist today. I’m not well..I always do worse when my partner is gone…I don’t sleep, I switch, I can see from the posts that I’ve been all over the place. I said, “If my partner wasn’t in my life I guess I’d be dead.” and she said, “No…you’re resilient-but you’re disorder is florid, You’d probably be in and
    out of the hospital.” and I said, “I’d rather be dead.”

    I know about the trauma you describe. I worked in acute psychiatry for many years.
    Sometimes it feels like trauma on top of trauma…and now I’m not really sure the pain is worth it…If this feels like an emotional dump on your stream please know that I won’t be offended if you delete it.

    • Rob, I’m touched that you trust me and our group of friends here to dump. I hope this is always safe space for any of us who are having a hard time, need support, need to vent….need to find a compassionate, non-judgmental listening heart.

      It’s so painful to start processing things you’ve stuffed for decades. I’m sorry your partner isn’t with you right now. You’ll get through it, though. I’m right on course with you with the suicidal thoughts. Found myself composing a speech to deliver to my grown-up son, about the fact that there will come a time when I am overwhelmed by the suffering, and when that happens I must go. It pains me so to have to think of leaving him…He is such a sweet bear of a guy. In fact that was his tribal name in an outdoor therapy program. The other kids would give the kid his name. My son’s was “Honey Bear” because there’s nothing but sweetness on his inside.

      I bring this up partially because I am free associating, but also I sense that exquisite sensitivity in you. It’s like you’re either experiencing at full blast, or not at all. Am I way out in left field? It’s OK to actually tell me. I’m big into sharing meaningful conversation. Love ya, Rob. —-Laura

      • The words “Love ya” brought a smile to my face and tears to my eyes. I’m grieving all if the people I lost to AIDS. When I tested negative for HIV 20 years ago I did what any good dissociative would do: I created a functional version of me and AIDS and everyone associated with it went into a memory hole — as I work my way through the journals that I wrote at each phase of my life I find that I am beginning to connect emotionally to the material. I realize that Bobby Is me and Bob is me and Sara is the me I invented to please my Mother and I realize it’s been like this for so long that I may never know what it feels like to really be fully alive…but for all of that I am loved, and nurtured and articulate and yes…prone to moments of serious self doubt. I have an ongoing wish-fear that I will die before I complete the edits on this work…it takes so much time for me to focus because of the emotional noise —

        But I’m doing it…and it helps when someone drops in and says, “Love ya”…and reminds me that I am more than DID–I’m a person who deserves love…

        Your friend,

        Rob Goldstein

  5. ❤ sending you love


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