Thursday, 15 October 2009


Hi Guys. Sorry once again for inflicting all that shit on you last time. Strangely more people "tuned in" and read that post than any other ... well, a cheery title like "Toxic brain dump" really pulls in the punters don't y' know! And I want to sincerely thank the people who left a comment. I realise I made it tough for you because I left very little room for hope in there. Very little that people could respond to. Most of those who did said that clearly I am depressed and need meds. Or possibly could I turn to faith to help me through this. Both valid suggestions.

I certainly don't dispute that I am suffering from major depression. But I can tell you that I've tried every anti-dep going and none has been any good, either due to side effects or lack of efficacy. The one I was on the longest, Lofepramine is highly toxic and had little positive effect. It also caused me to reach my highest ever weight due to the fact that it lowers blood sugar, and blood pressure and slows you down so much that life becomes one long grinding exhaustion. The main way it "worked", if at all, was simply to slow down my thinking, thus I would have fewer thoughts per hour, thus fewer depressing thoughts per hour, thus be less depressed. Talk about being sledgehammered! I had to give it up due to the damaging effect on my kidneys. It also made me agoraphobic, a known side effect of this med. I was agoraphobic from the first tablet I took. I carried on taking it for as long as I did because I was desperate and there were really no other choices. I haven't been able to tolerate anything else. My psychiatrist told me some years ago that I was out of meds. Nothing left to try.

So I am now going through this unmedicated. But that doesn't really bother me I have to say. Even when I was on tablets the side effects were so bad I couldn't lead any kind of normal life anyway. So I wasn't any further forward.

Ultimately meds, if they worked and if I didn't have side effect problems, would only be covering up the pain, a band aid on the situation. They cannot solve the root cause. The root cause being that when I had my breakdown in 2000 I lost my self. I lost my personality. I lost who I was. No tablet can give me my self back.

That's why psychiatry has been no help to me at all. There is no diagnostic category for "person with no personality". In fact I have never really been able to get a psychiatrist to even understand the position I am in. They just don't seem to "get it". Or maybe they do but simply have no answer.

There is no way I've found of deliberately reforming a personality. Well, you may say what about psychotherapy? Therapy of course is designed to help people explore parts of themselves and make adjustments in personality. It depends on you having a personality in the first place to make the adjustments to.

I've been very lucky (or maybe not so lucky) to have had extensive individual therapy on the NHS: psychodynamic psychotherapy, creative art therapy, cognitive analytic therapy (CAT), psychoanalysis (a lot of which was twice a week). Not to mention groups run by the local health trust - stress, creative art therapy and relationship groups. I've also attended independent self help groups for depression and social anxiety.

I'm not stuck like this for lack of effort! This thing has had everything thrown at it. And I still really feel like no-one who's ever treated me has really "got it" or understood what I needed. But then I have no solution either. One therapist said to me that my previous learning (in psychology) must have been really useful to me when I had my breakdown. Sadly not. You can't study what it feels like to have a breakdown or have no personality.

Mainly therapy has simply increased my instability and pain. The only one which did have a slightly positive effect was the CAT which I actually found quite empowering. But it is a fixed short course of therapy (unlike the others) and I feel I needed much much longer for it to have made any lasting positive impact. I also don't think it was the type of therapy per se which had the effect, but the therapist herself. If I could have had a year with her then maybe the outcome would have been more beneficial. And that's one of the problems on the NHS, you don't really get to chose your therapist. You just get who you're given. Of course you can turn down a therapist, but then you're back on the waiting list 'til who knows when.

My last lot of therapy - the psychoanalysis (which ended summer 2008) - was the most damaging. It plunged me into total chaos again. Which is where I was until spring this year. Now I'm simply back in nowheresville.

And still they keep it coming! They are now offering me a three year package of individual psychotherapy, group therapy plus fortnightly support group meetings to run concurrently (as the judge always says). I jokingly said to the Head of Psychotherapy, "So I get out of jail when I'm 40 then??!!" She didn't really appreciate it.

I've turned it down so far as just being too much to take on at the moment. Given the lack of any progress in the past it just seems ridiculous to carry on doing something that only makes me feel worse. It's still on the table though. Mainly because it's the only thing they have to offer me now.

I'm gutted that therapy was so useless for me. I was a true believer in it. I started studying psychology all those years ago because I actually wanted to be a therapist myself. What a joke! I find it hard to sustain any belief in it at all now. I've never known anybody who was seriously mentally ill actually benefit from it. Obviously I can see it may be of some use for people who merely need to make personality adjustments. But that ain't me.

The other suggestion made by some was about faith. I am an atheist. But at this point I'd like to thank those people who said they'd keep me in their prayers. I do appreciate that. I wish I did believe in god because then when I was awake in the middle of the night I wouldn't feel alone. It's wonderful to feel that there is a being of some sort looking over you, taking care of you etc. But belief is belief and not pretending to believe. It's not something you can fake in my opinion.

Strangely enough I did believe in god for the first 18 months after my breakdown. I mean totally believe. I went from being a complete atheist before to a complete believer. There was no doubt in my mind. But I was able to believe in god for that time because I was completely not myself. It was as though a line had been drawn down on my life and everything I was before was alien to me. I couldn't even begin to understand that person anymore. After those first 18 months I came out of that initial headspace and was then unable to believe anymore.

I do believe however in spirit guides due to my own experiences and the healing I have received. But a spirit guide, to me, is a guide that helps you get where you want to be, if it is possible. They don't show you the way, or answer your wishes/ prayers. They don't have the all encompassing power supposedly had by god. They can't show me the answer to my problems.

I say I believe in guides but I don't claim to understand how this thing works. I have no knowledge about my guide.

Well, that's all got a bit deep hasn't it!

I did feel a sense of relief for having got all that shit out last time - so thank you for reading it. It's weird that it makes a difference to have put it out there in public, rather than just writing it down for myself - which I have done many times previously. I don't know why it makes such a difference though.

I can see for example the extent to which I am hung up on not being able to have a "normal" or "proper" job. Really hung up on that. But now it occurs to me I will just have to hope in the future to find something I can do working on my own/ for myself.

I had reached a stage of feeling that there's no point in trying anything in any sphere anymore. But now I think I'm just going to have to try for the best quality of life I can - which is certainly higher than I have right now ie stopping bingeing and getting back on an even keel with my eating and blood sugar level. This would be beneficial on every level. My behaviour, while not deliberate of course, is only making things much worse. Like Fitcetera says, "stop doing what hurts".

I will have to think for much longer to come up with an answer as to how I can be me again. Any suggestions ....? All thoughts gratefully received.

In the meantime, there was no washing this Tue due to work going on in the basement so I was let off the hook! So no bingeing on Tue or Wed. The bad news is that I binged continuously from the Thursday - Monday before that.

My healer also sent me a card which arrived on Wed. A beautiful card with a lovely message in it. I was able to ring her after that and made an appointment for 2nd Nov to go and see her. Maybe having that goal will help me get myself together a bit.

I think the best thing I can do from here is to a) think how I might go about reforming my headspace into something useful which will enable me to lead a happier more productive life, and b) try (yet again) to improve my physical health by eating healthier and slowly building up my walking time.

So thanks for all your input. I am feeling slightly more positive now. Only slightly mind ...


  1. "But now I think I'm just going to have to try for the best quality of life I can" Bearfriend, this is the very best thing you caan do. If your body is healthier, then slowly slowly, bit by little bit, as your body gets heatlthier than your mind will too and you will feel better. Baby steps, one day at a time! It wokrked -- it is working -- for me and I am much older than you. I'll add to my comment on your previous post, it's never too late. (sorry about typos, cat on keyboard). Changing my diet and exercise is what worked for me, it is slow but every day it gets a little easier. It's good to have some sort of contact with other people too, even if it is brief, so it is good that you're keeping in contact with your healer.

  2. Oh Friend!! As a Christian, it pains me to hear you're an athiest!!! And although I know you don't want to hear it, I'd be amiss if I didn't say it. God does love you, whether you believe it or not. :)

    I've been waiting for you to post again...I'm glad you're back. I've found one purpose in life that you obviously have, and it just hit me like a ton of bricks when I read this post. You mentioned that your studies in psychology haven't helped you with your own troubles, but I wonder if you realize just how much it helps all of the rest of us? I've never read such deep, insightful, truthful, enlightening comments until I found you. I see your comments on blogs all over the place in Blogland and you continuously blow me away...I learn so much and have so many A-HA! moments from comments that aren't even directed at me!! So one of your purposes is very clearly to inspire, encourage, educate and lift up others!! What an incredible gift!! What would we all do without you? It sucks that you don't get paid for all of the free therapy that we're so graciously receiving, but on the other hand, having a true purpose in life isn't always about money.

    One thing that struck me is that you said you have no personality. I can't figure out why you think that. I think you have an outstanding comes out in all of your posts, and in every comment I read in Blogland. So I'm totally not getting what you mean by that.

    And yes, I will continue to pray for you...and even harder now that I know you don't believe!! You've given me a new mission in life. :)

  3. I agree with Tammy - you're insightful, and honest - a beautiful combination.

    As for the depression, just realize those medications were created not to "cure" depression, but curb the effects while you get a chance to change your lifestyle. The chemical imbalances that people experience in depression can be altered by either liestyle or drugs. If drugs don't work - keep working on the lifestyle -

    and celebrate the good (however small)we are creatures of energy and we feed off possitive and negetive energy. It has been written "we all have 2 dragons fighting within us - one for good and the other for bad - WE decide the outcome of that battle by whichever dragon we FEED the most" (I'm paraphrasing)

    no matter how small - celebrate every possitive thing in your day - as you focus on the good (however small) you'll see more, find more and eventually your possitive dragon will be larger than your negetive one.

    I realize faith is so different for everyone, but just realize that wether you give it titles like budda, god, or allah is irrelevent - just for now see things in terms of energy, good things make you feel empowered they build you up. Bad things are selfish, they makes us feel despair, emptiness, and abandonment.

    "By their fruits may ye know them" you don't need to believe in God to feel the life changing effects of surrounding yourself with possitive energy. If you do this, for yourself, I know whitout a doubt the problems you've been facing, the binging, depression, even suicidal thoughts - they will leave and you will begin to live anewed.

    you're not alone - we are evidence that although you have given up on a higher power, there is still someone looking out for you, making sure ou feel his love - your friend natalie

  4. I didn't see this post till today - and now I've been beaten to it by people saying pretty much what I wanted to say! No personality??? You have a great personality that comes across in everything you post or comment - its just a very open, giving, compassionate personality that sadly doesn't view yourself with the same warmth as everyone else. Everytime I see you've posted on someone's blog I am amazed that anyone as depressed as you has so much time to give to other people! My depressions (while I admit less serious) are so much more selfish than that - and self-centred, and self-isolating.
    You may not be the person you want to be, or expected to be when you were younger, but quite truthfully I think everything you have suffered has made you the person who always has time to read about other people's problems and genuinely try to help them. I think you'd be a great counsellor - as long as you could maintain enough distance not to be sucked into your patient's despair that is - because you do care so much about us all.
    I know we haven't met in person but I consider you a friend and its very obvious from the other comments that many others do too - that just wouldn't be the case if you were the 'blank' you see yourself as.
    Perhaps instead of looking back to the person you once were you could focus on finding out who you are now? You might like her more than you think - I bet she handles feelings that your younger, less experienced self would have struggled with.
    I hope you'll carrying on 'dumping' online now that you've seen it to be more helpful than writing it for your eyes only. I've found the same thing - I think that if you write it down privately it is very easy to move from self-analysis to self-loathing, blame and 'wallowing', especially as you are writing it down precisely because you're already depressed and negative - but having it out there in the world, receiving comments and interacting with people who are less personally invested can show you a new perspective.
    And by the way, however toxic the feelings being expressed, you're still a wonderful writer.
    Sending you hugs and best wishes

  5. Hi Bearfriend,

    Once again I can't add a thing to the great stuff that's already been written. The "no personality" you claim struck me as almost laughable, and judging from others' comments, they agree. I recall commenting to your toxic brain dump that regarding your self assessment, your judgement is impaired. I still believe that. And it's not impaired about other things...just about yourself. I've told you how much you've helped me and continue to. Others say the same. Personalities don't get washed away by breakdowns. It may be beaten down to a point where your truest self is afraid to claim her existence and independence for fear of being hurt, but it/she, YOU are there as a feeling, caring and quite brilliant woman. "Me thinks thou dost protest too much!"

    And a religious deity is not necessary for spiritual awakening, connection and experience. The comments and listening skills you offer other bloggers are spiritual acts. The love we feel for you and you for us is spiritual, and represents a force greater than any of us. You don't have to call it anything. In AA, some people use the term "GOD" as an acronym for "group of drunks", or "good orderly direction". Glad to hear you sounding a little "lighter". Many hugs to you - Leslie

  6. People here have already said many of the things that I would say. I greatly appreciate the courage and honesty of my blogging friends in sharing their journey and struggles with others. Thank you for putting yourself out there. it matters. YOU matter! Thank you.

  7. Dear Bear Friend... I'm new to your blog but but each and every time I've read it, your words inspire and teach me so much about myself. You've commented on my blog and have given me several AH HAH moments. I find it incredible that you feel you do not hae a personality because from the minute I read your blog, I thought... this woman is incredibly smart, eloquent and wise. Really, I so wish I could have coffee with you and just be in your wise presence, as I could learn so much from you. Perhaps that's becasue you have a background in psychology. This is something new I have learned about you. I had no idea you are suffering so much.

    I know you are not religious. I grew up Catholic, but my mother always told me that I didn't have to go to church to have a relationship with God. I think I figured out what she means. There were many nights that I woke up full of anxiety as I lay in bed with my three children, alone as a single mother. The fact that I was solely responsible for these three lives scared the hell out of me... but then I realized, I wasn't alone. God is with me. I can't see him, and at that moment, I began to trust Him... that no matter what happened, that I wouldn't be alone. I still don't go to church on Sundays and I've only recently attended a few bible study sessions, but I take real comfort in knowing that I'm not alone...

    Before I decided to lose weight, I went to the doctor because I felt sad, crying all the time for no reason, my emotions were way off the richter scale. I was told that I was suffering from depression and given prozac. I got the prescription filled and took the meds for a week. At that point, I decided that I wasn't going to let depression define me. I dumped the pills, and started to walk. Started to eat better. I decided I was going to take care of me... I finally figured out the depression was probably a side affect of turning 40 and menopause.

    You are such an inspiration to many of your readers... to me. I look forward to your wise words and I look forward to your comments because you bring something to the table each and every time. You have personality. I see it in your words.

    I can't help writing these words... they're just flowing. I wish I could help you ease the pain you are feeling. Just know I send you postive energy and all my admiration. You are truly brave. Focus on getting healthy, eating fruits and veggies, walking outside as it is so beatiful outside with all the fall colors. Have you ever thought about volunteering? There are so many kids out there in day care centers that need carign indivudals as yourself. It's just a thought... maybe reading to hospice patients.

    Hang in there Bear Friend

  8. Bear Friend,
    I honestly have to ditto Tammy's comment. Everything she said with I agree with 100%.

    I also wish I could call in for coffee and enjoy your wisdom. You would make a amazing counsillor. You do have a lot of wisdom possibly a bit off on yourself lol! I see it in all your wise comments to so many of us out here.
    Thank you for being you.
    (((big HUG)))

  9. No personality? I don't think so! Depression yes, but your personality comes through in your posts and comments on my blog. Your advice is always reassuring and I have come to look forward to your comments almost every day. You are obviously going through a very difficult battle with depression, but you have not lost your personality!

  10. Bearfriend,

    I know you don't need to hear anything from me, but just wanted to second many of the comments that you've already heard.

    You have an awesome personality, and are wise beyond even your own awareness. I see your writings and your comments and know there is a kind, caring person in there.

    Like Tammy said, I will continue to remember you and your struggles and journey in my prayers.

    Take care,

  11. I am glad to have not faced any "faith" suggestions in my year of blogging (hehe).

    I have had a rough weekend with food/thoughts/foodthinking, and all I wanted were double cheeseburgers, and pizza. I have been a bit consumed in "not"...

    I am at a loss for words, maybe because I relate to some of what you said, and maybe because I have felt the dep sorrow of the "soul".

    I went to treatment about 18 months ago after being debilitated by anger/eating disorder madness- I was out of work before- I felt like a useless waste of space.

    I guess all I can really encourage is that you keep working on your existance, and finding something that might ease the pain inside.

    I hope you can find peace in sleep tonight.

  12. My Friend,
    You do have a personality. You may not see or feel it due to the numbness from the depression but it is there. I practically feel it coming off the computer screen. I look forward to your comments and your wisdom. You have so much to offer, but you are not in a place to see that. You make me laugh, I love your honest, I love how you express your feelings so well and I encourage you to do more toxic brain dumping. As you know, we can't "fix" all you have been through, but we can listen and you can know that we care. Your listening to me has been so comforting and caring, like a warm blanket, over a very cold heart. You have many gifts my friend, your compassion for others, your insights and wisdom, the way you reach out and care, and the way you make me smile. Those gifts make up part of your personality.
    We can't take away your pain, or your past hurts, but know we will be here, as the future marches on, one baby step at a time.
    Do you like to read? Have you ever thought of writing a book about all your experiences with the different therapies and the break up? Use these wonderful talents you have. Please. (((((((HUGS)))))

  13. I have to say writing a book is such a Brill Idea. I would be first to buy it! You are amazing.


All comments gratefully appreciated!