CW: Suicidal thoughts (nothing specific), depression
For sixteen years, my inner Sarcophagus (see part one) held for the most part. There were emotional leakages here and there, of course, but nothing too serious. Nothing that brought me even close to my near-disaster in college.
Then this year happened. In March I made a truly startling discovery about myself. In retrospect, it shouldn’t have been that surprising, but this was a highly emotionally-charged thing that had never even been an option for me to consider so it caught me by surprise.
In order to remain true to my own integrity and ethics, I had to tell two people about my discovery, which was terrifying because I fully expected them both to immediately disappear from my life upon hearing my realization.
Amazingly enough, they didn’t disappear, which baffled me. Here were two people I cared the world about who weren’t freaked out by me having some pretty intense emotions. That had never really happened before.
About two weeks after talking to them both, my Sarcophagus sustained a breach. Apparently there was a door and instead of behaving like a normal door, it had only two settings: locked shut or jammed completely wide open. My feelings came spilling out, overwhelming me again, although not as fully as they had in college.
I reached out for help and received it, but was not yet able to even put into words for others what my realization had been and so wasn’t able to ask for specific advice for my specific situation.
Even so, the help I received allowed me to patch the breach well enough, but come August, my Sarcophagus received a fatal blow. I received news that was so horrifying to me that I struggled nearly constantly to not get overwhelmed by my feelings.
Looking back, I believe I became both needy towards my friends as well as withdrawn from them. It’s a bad combination, believe me. In the middle of all this, one of my children had to go to the hospital and almost died piling more emotional trauma onto overwhelm.
I’d begun having weekly meltdowns in August then twice-weekly meltdowns of increasing severity until a little over two weeks ago when I was right back at college, emotionally speaking. I was completely overwhelmed, couldn’t deal, my Sarcophagus was completely non-operational. It was smashed. It was utterly destroyed. I couldn’t move for a good hour after it happened. It took half an hour for my brain to come back online and have thoughts.
To my dismay, the destruction of my containment system, my protective mechanism for myself as well as others, happened at a dear friend’s house. I disappeared from her home with a text stating simply that I needed to leave and wasn’t mad, but had to go now. It was the best I could do at the time as my brain was breaking under the strain of a lifetime of emotions unleashed all at the same time. I had to get home. I had to run.
The next day I tried to gain more understanding by talking to another dear friend, whom I instead triggered with my erratic inability to communicate in any sort of productive way.
And thus I descended into a bottomless abyss. Not self-medicating this time because I knew that had only helped temporarily in college. Drowning as I felt myself to be, I was not capable of reading anyone’s responses to anything I’d written to try and assuage my friends’ worry about me. I’d been abandoned by all my friends before when this happened and it had been devastating.
I wanted to survive. To do that I needed to get to the root of it all.
I couldn’t bury it all again, but I couldn’t handle any sort of even perceived rejection by anyone either. So, for that reason as well as other past traumas relating specifically to texting, I turned off all my phone notifications.
My interactions with other people and the outside world were blurry and didn’t feel real during this time. I only remembered to eat when I was brought food — I had no appetite whatsoever — and most of my time was spent reading, writing, and trying to stay present as much as I could manage for my children’s sake.
But my inner work was solid and necessary. I went deeply within, working on myself. Digging into my past, looking into what may have brought about my then-current state of being. My therapist asked me right before this time why I had so much guilt about so many things that I really shouldn’t feel guilty about. So that gave me a feeling to start with. Guilt. Why so much guilt?
In the beginning, I discovered that I felt guilty for even existing. Digging more deeply, I realized that I felt guilty for having emotions — for being human — which explains why I have expended so much effort over the years to contain said emotions and hold myself to impossibly superhuman standards of behavior.
I do not believe that I have Dissociative Identity Disorder, but it was very helpful to use a framework from the DID community to examine what I’d done by shearing off my emotions from the rest of myself. I am grateful beyond words to their community because even back in college I knew that framework seemed helpful, but there was nothing from the first-person perspective that I could find. So the information I found then was all very scary and pathologizing.