When Trauma, Depression and Anxiety Make It Impossible to 'Count Your Blessings'
Today, I sat and watched the newsfeed on Facebook fill with Christmas greetings and people talking about doing their shopping and filling the house with food, drink and presents. They were eagerly anticipating the arrival of family and friends, all looking forward to spending time with them, all passing on good wishes to the rest of us.
Today, I also received texts and email messages from well meaning friends telling me, “You’ll be fine,” “Life is good,” “Have fun,” “Enjoy Christmas,” “Count your blessings,” etc, etc, yah de yah, blah, blah, blah. I responded in the way I always do, with a “Thank you,” and a “I will.” Yet inside, well most of you reading this will know, inside I am screaming, my head is pounding, my stomach is churning, my hands are shaking and my eyes fill with tears.
Today, is the end of the fifth month that I have been signed off sick, and my statutory sick pay ends next month with little possibility of me being able to return to the job I was doing. When my boss called around to discuss my future, he left with my work phone and the unsaid understanding that we would never see each other again. Today, I effectively lost my job.
I did not ask to be abused as a child. I did not ask to be married to men who used and abused me. I did not ask to be the victim of an attempted rape and sexual assault earlier this year, and I most certainly did not ask to struggle with depression and anxiety. That’s just the thing, I never ask for anything.
Conditioned as a child to, “Be a good girl,” “Don’t make a fuss,” and “Don’t tell anyone what is going on at home,” it is hard as an adult to ask for anything from anyone. My whole life I have felt unworthy and useless, even when to the outside world I was so strong and confident. For the last 40 years, I have hidden behind a mask and when the “crash” came, there was a hell of a bang while my world collapsed around me.
Unable to cope with the most basic of tasks, like getting up in the morning, getting washed and dressed, eating a meal, all the things I had done every day of my life were now only a rarity. I completely lost my identity and my will to live. I made my plan. I wrote my note. I picked the day, but at the last moment, the thought of the pain I would cause my children was just too much to bear. I knew I had to stay alive. Yet, that is as far as I have come. I am simply staying alive.
Today, I am not filling my house with food, drink and presents as I simply do not have the money. Today, I am not eagerly awaiting the arrival of friends and family as I really can’t face them right now. Today, I am not full of Christmas cheer. Today, I am screaming.
Today, I want to take your, “You’ll be fines,” and shove them down your throats. Today, I am angry that I am so incapable of telling the people who want to help me that I am near the edge of that black hole yet again. Even more so, I want to tell them I am angry that, despite all the times I have told them my depression is not something I’ll just “get over,” they still insist on telling me to count my blessings.
Today, I am not counting my blessings. Today, I am simply fighting to stay alive.
If you or a loved one is affected by domestic violence or sexual assuault and need help, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.
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