The Collapse Phase

Written yesterday
Hard to get out of bed.  Feeling — not exactly depressed — but some sense of no future, or of getting through the day being a chore.  Lonely?  I know I didn’t feel like this at Dance Camp.  I really need to connect with someone I love.  There are people I could call and I’ll see Cory for lunch today.
O gosh.  I feel tired and demoralized.  I have no energy for the projects I’d like to work on.  I really want to just lie down and give up.   and die?  that’s not what I want.  If it could be any way at all?  I’d really like to know that breakfast will be waiting in the Community Hall, and there will be friends to greet.  And then either I’ll join in a community project or do one of my own, until lunch.  And if I wanted to dance, I could do it, with or without other people.  And when my morale was low, I could talk to a friend, or go meditate in a chapel.

I called Lynelle and asked for a hug before she left for the day.  She came and  I talked about how I’m feeling, waves of discouragement, everything I think of doing feels like an impossible chore, I just want to lie down and quit.  She said “This is the core of trauma.”  She said she’d just read it in Peter Levine.  She brought me the book.

    In an Unspoken Voice by Peter Levine, p 49
“In freezing, your muscles stiffen against a mortal blow, and you feel ‘scared stiff.’  On the other hand, when you experience death as being unequivocally imminent  …  your muscles collapse as though they have lost all their energy.  In this ‘default’ reaction (when it has become chronic, as it does in trauma) you feel that you are in a state of helpless resignation and lack the energy to fuel your life and move forward.  This collapse, defeat and loss of the will to live are at the very core of deep trauma.”

A little easier getting up today.  Lynelle was a big help.  Just understanding that my discouragement was not me being morally weak, but the last stage of trauma that happens when you expect death.  I remember describing the collapse to Karen, like one of those toys on a platform.  You push the button underneath and the whole thing collapses.  I saw that I was being triggered, and at that time I had started doing S.E. but I was not yet convinced that I was dealing with PTSD and didn’t have any understanding of the process.  I also remember seeing how easily I went from reading one of R’s invalidating letters to wanting to die.  I couldn’t find any cognitive connection, so I made up a phrase “worthless-and-rotten-and-should-be-dead.”  I thought, because it was so all of a piece (that’s what the hyphens are for), not reasoned from step to step, not describable in words, that it must be something from infancy.  I didn’t really understand that it was one of the stages of trauma, and was determined by the physiology of trauma, had nothing to do with the mind or the will.  Writing it out, I see that I have never understood that those collapses were determined by trauma.  Every time, in some subtle way, I thought they were something I could overcome by will power.  So I always saw them as me being morally weak and/or wrong.
The collapse happens to me, I do not choose it.  But I thought I had a choice to pull myself out of it.  Many times I’ve bullied myself through it — sometimes it turns out that if I get up and move my body, I do come out of it.  Especially if all I have to do is make breakfast, or wash the dishes — something where I have an established routine and don’t have to make choices.  Other times I’m simply unable to do anything.  I look down the list of things I “should” do and things I want to do (or did when I wrote them) and feel no motivation at all.  I’ve learned at these times to treat myself as a convalescent.  I play Solitaire on the computer (it’s one activity where I can actually get a sense of having completed something successfully) I read or type journal.  Sometimes I even curl up under a blanket and listen to a comforting tape.  Writing this out, and coming to a better understanding of the degree of paralysis, I can bring more compassion to myself when I’m in the collapsed phase.
Yesterday morning was hard.  I could not possibly have gone over to Neskaya in such a vulnerable state.  I thought I would type up what I wrote yesterday and expand it into a blog post, but I simply couldn’t do it.  I wasn’t exactly angry with myself but I wasn’t able to be compassionate or comforting.  Though I think seeing what I was feeling written out in Levine’s book, I was able to stop pushing myself.  Also I would be having lunch with a friend and knew that would help.

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