Anatomy of a Breakdown

I’ve been reading through my blog from the very beginning.  I am once again in the 12 year cycle, at a time when Jupiter in the sky is opposed Jupiter’s position when I was born.  Ever since 1972 I have had a breakdown every 12 years, and I have worried about 2020 for a long time.  I am going through a strange time right now, but I think it’s actually a process toward a new stage of health.  Can’t tell yet.

I went back to my journal for 2008 and pulled out entries that seemed to relate to the breakdown.  I had hoped to be able to write a commentary that would explain what was going on, but I am finding verbal comment to be very difficult at this time.  Here are the entries:

Saturday, August 9

Dear Guides and Guardian Spirits, I’m tired and bummed out.  All the talk around me has been of people struggling with unfair governmental, bureaucratic, societal practices, and people who are too numb to care or fight about it.  Please help me.

Dear Jenny, we love you.  The real world is much bigger than the human world of misery and grief.  There are stars and planets, mountains and oceans, trees growing and rain falling.  Millions of organisms going about their business.  And many humans of courage and compassion doing their best: The Dalai Lama, Joanna Macy, Al Gore, and many many others “under the radar.” There are also ranks upon ranks of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, Angels and Devas and Nature spirits, all watching over your planet with love, encouraging growth and health and compassion.  You are not alone, dear, you are profoundly accompanied and watched over by many spirits.  Relax.  All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

Wednesday, August 13

I’m feeling pretty completely bummed out.  I’ve decided to raise my meds.  Took 25 right away.

etty: “I try to look things straight in the face, even the worst crimes, and to discover the small, naked human being amid the monstrous wreckage caused by man’s senseless deeds.”

Friday, August 15   posted on March 29, 2010

I’m finding it hard to accept that I need to keep taking 50mg imipramine just to be able to keep going.  It feels like such a defeat, such a proof that I’m a weakling.  I was so proud that all my hard work in S.E. had brought me to a place where it was possible to have the experience of what it would be like to live a “real life.” But I can’t stay at that level.  I don’t have the strength, and I don’t have the support of a community.  So I blame myself for not having what it takes.  But do I blame someone struggling with poverty for not having “what it takes”, not being willing to work hard?  No, because I know that the mechanics of Western Industrial Culture have made poverty inevitable.  Just as the same mechanics have meant that large numbers of us, struggling with invisible childhood wounds, have been unable to live out our real potential for creating a healthy and sustainable society.  So, despite having been born with “all the advantages” I too am one of “the poor.”

Monday, August 18

Wounded too badly to live.  I’m sitting here looking at the broken pieces of my life and acknowledging that I don’t have what it takes to pull it together and to even live a little of that wild, wide, and creative life that I think I had the capacity for.  Though who knows, maybe I’m wrong.  But I feel a tremendous pressure of unlived life inside me — that led me to the Nia training and the drama project — but I don’t have the physical strength and psychological robustness to keep going, to make up new Nia choreographies, etc.  I don’t have the base of support — a community of like-minded friends, some way to have meals be easier.  Without that greater level of support, I don’t see how to live that bigger life — but without some aspect of that bigger life, why go on?  Why go on fighting the daily battles: to get food, to walk the dog, to deal with the bureaucracy, to keep up the house, etc?  Only if it could support a life worth living.

Wednesday, August 20

I’ve stopped trying.  I feel completely defeated by life.  I’m on a death march, and I want to keep going as well as I can, to strengthen my comrades, or at least not be a nuisance, but to stop fighting the inevitable.  It’s so funny, I was so proud of myself for being a fighter, for keeping going despite all the odds, and to arrive at a brief flowering of what my life might have been.  I’m glad I had that experience, I’m glad to know that what I always thought was possible, and kept striving for, is real.  But I see that I can’t sustain it by my own efforts, and that I don’t have enough support in my life for that level of good living to be sustained.  It takes everything I’ve got just to keep going, to keep feeding myself, walking the dog, and honoring my commitments.  At least I feel strengthened, that I can/will keep going as best I can.

Thursday, August 28

Took 100 mg last night.  Woke after 3 in a state of complete self-hatred, frozen self-rejection.  I’ve been praying for help but have no sense of anything but cold stony indifference.  I listened to both Sharon Salzberg CDs, tried to feel compassion for myself, prayed for compassion for myself.

I keep thinking “I just want to die.” Then I say No— I want life to be easier.  I want to be in touch with the sacred.  And I want to have compassion for myself — my poor foolish arrogant stupid self who wanted to have more and wrecked what she had.  Wanted more excitement in my life & got overtired.  And am finding it incredibly difficult to forgive myself.  Tho maybe I just got there — imagined I was somebody else and how bad they would feel, and then something softened.  There, there, dear, you didn’t mean to do it.

Still doing very badly.  My brain isn’t working well enough to make the computer solitaire work as a distraction.

Friday, August 29

Woke early & used the Salzberg CD.  Felt a level of frozen despair I don’t think I’ve ever felt before.  At first I tried to avoid it, but then tried to be with it.  It doesn’t last, comes and goes.  “May I be free of suffering.  May I be filled with loving kindness.” It makes sense that this is the way a baby would feel when it’s been left alone too long.  It’s a kind of ultimate helplessness.  I feel like I’ll never move again.  Sitting here trying to describe it, I felt a momentary movement of compassion for the baby that happened to, then I’m back to being completely swallowed up by her suffering.

Tuesday, September 2

I emailed Kevin to get an appt with Caryn for Somatic Experiencing.  I see Karen today thank goodness.  I suppose I’d better call Dr. L & ask about taking buspar.  I read through the first part of 2007 and it looks like the first 3 months were pretty rocky.  I was struggling with depression and terror.  I got up to 175 mg imipramine and 20 buspar.  But I can’t tell from my journal if it actually helped.  

I also checked the Ephemeris: Jupiter is in Capricorn, Rx.  It was also there in ‘96 and in ‘84.  That’s really fascinating.  There’s a lot about this current bout of terror that reminds me of ‘96.

Saturday, September 6

Doing very badly.  Anxiety pretty bad, brain not working very well.  I come out of it, sort of, when I have something very straightforward to do like going to the dump.  I’m wondering how the hell I’m going to get thru the next 9 days until my next appointment with Caryn.  I looked at two books L had, but they’re too grown up for the state I’m in.  It feels almost like a story of an alien species, and I get waves of despair and terror.  Fortunately the despair doesn’t last long.  But the terror just doesn’t calm down.

Sunday, September 7

It’s pretty clear that I’m going through a PTSD replay of the Paxil episode in ‘96.  If I can get in to see either Dave or Caryn or both, I think I can make it to the 15th.  Otherwise I may be looking at hospitalization.  Unfortunately the triggers are fear, being alone, and medication.

Tuesday, September 9

I feel the hot electrical zingy fear and then there’s the cold strangling nauseous fear.  That’s what I felt with Karen, that awful lost fear of the baby.

There, there, Little One, I’m glad you’ve waked up in my life.  It wasn’t fair what they did to you.  You deserved better than that.  You deserved to be cherished and nurtured and comforted when you were hurt or scared.

To give an image to the fear: I’m all alone in a bleak landscape.  There is no food or water.  There is no one to help me.  It’s the end of the world.  How horrible.  And that’s what mom let me feel because she couldn’t be bothered, or she was drunk, or she thought it was OK to let me cry.  I deserved better than that.

Friday, September 19

Slept hardly at all, 2 hrs before midnight but nothing after that.  Anxiety has spiralled out of control.  I’m too exhausted to do any of my coping strategies — EFT, yoga breathing.  I can’t even read.  I left a message for Dr. L asking her to prescribe Ativan — since I know I’m OK with it.  I don’t dare try anything new.  I think what’s happening is flashbacks to the Paxil episode.

4:30 Emergency appt with Dr. L.  Gene drove me.  Dr. L gave me some seroquel and a prescription for ativan.  The seroquel certainly calmed me down but I got scared again when L gave me her take on it: she thinks my medication is not working for me, and I’ll need to find something new — a hospital would be the best place.

I quit this morning.  Just gave up the struggle and put myself in the hands of    whoever.  Fortunately I did get ahold of Dr. L and she seemed able to help.  At least I did feel contained talking to her, and even after I left.

Saturday, September 20

Checking Jupiter opposition Jupiter in Robert Hand — says it’s basically a good transit but with warnings not to overdo, not to take on too much, and a reference to “restlessness”, to feeling the “everyday world not ‘big’ enough” which could lead to a danger of overdoing which is just what I did.  sigh.

Just out of curiosity, Jupiter was at 18° Capricorn for the first time back in March.  That was the week I was at Kripalu for Ingrid Bacci and Kali woke up.

Monday, September 29

Work with Caryn was fascinating.  I started by crying, and then shaking, and then talking about my fears about my dog who has a bladder infection.  She said it was too much, to stop piling it on and connect with resources, with the present moment, location etc.  So I did that and then my shoulders kept jumping/discharging while I was aware of my lower body containing and grounding me, and also being able to talk to Caryn about all kinds of things.  Nia, the drama workshop, Journey, the fall from the ladder, my pain about never really being part of theater.  The warrior reappeared (with 6-pack abs!) Kali reappeared, the articulate spokesperson for the journey women appeared.  Caryn suggested I find a story to reframe what happened at the Nia training — the fall and not being able to insist on what I needed — but I couldn’t quite do it — it feels like the pieces are still moving and not yet ready to integrate.  I’m being OK with the slight discomfort of that.

Tuesday, September 30

Another interesting piece from the work with Caryn — I was talking about how the drama project had been disappointing, how there is no way to show what it’s like to live with PTSD.  Then I said maybe a movie could do it, I’d be walking down the streets in Littleton and suddenly it becomes a battlefield: grey, dark, ruined buildings, burning cars, dead bodies…  She asked how did my body feel and I realized there was a sort of layer of greyness, like grey armor, down the whole front of my body — beyond it was the battlefield — but at the same time I was aware of my body in the corner of the room, pressed into the cushions, the floor, and the walls, held securely in present time.

I talked a bit about the scientist, my search for truth, my training in paradigm shift — Caryn said I was building bridges between the trauma vortex and the present.  Certainly I am much more present than I was the first time I saw her.  I’m also back in touch with many resources that I just couldn’t find when things were really bad.

Found this in a more recent blog post.  It’s a good description of the process delineated in the above excerpts:

In the late spring of 2007 I was feeling pretty good about myself.  I’d had some big successes.  But I did too much, got exhausted, once again tried to get off medication, and plunged down into a pit of terror and despair that was worse than it had ever been.  It took me a year and a half to climb back out and it was hard work.  That struggle appears in many entries in this blog.  I finally learned to love myself even when I was too depressed to cope with daily living and had to ask my friends for help making meals and walking the dog.   posted on April 22, 2010

This entry was posted in Breakdown, Journal, Trauma. Bookmark the permalink.