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  1. Thank you. Heading off to bed now. Just posting this so I don't seem rude in case there are any more responses. Thank you all for the support.
  2. Thank you all for your posts. It feels weird to acknowledge that I suffered actual abuse. I never got a black eye, busted teeth, or anything like that, nor was I ever molested. You hear some pretty horrible stories out there. I know - it's the starving African child fallacy. Other people's suffering doesn't invalidate your own. And yet... calling myself a victim of abuse... just sounds wrong. I must be in denial to some extent, I guess. I agree that my actions were closely linked to the abuse I received (it's strange to call it that; it doesn't seem dramatic enough to fit the bill... but in retrospect, what happened to me was definitely messed up... and to be honest I'm reasonably certain that there's more to it that I don't quite remember). But to describe the animal abuse as a direct consequence of what I experienced seems to deny my part in it. I ultimately feel accountable for what I did. That may mean nothing - I was only a kid, etc., and I *do* have some compassion for that past self - but the B*tch of it is that even if I do get over this, confront all my childhood monsters, and come to terms with everything, I'll still have the memory of actually doing it. It's absurd - I'm an adult, I'm essentially a completely different person now, my cells have been replaced twice over... but underneath all that, there's a sense of enduring self... and as illusory as that may be, I feel an undeniable connection to the experience of having hurt and betrayed someone repeatedly. I see myself do it. It may as well have happened 8 years ago. It all actually surfaced during an... experience with some cacti ~2 years ago. (Sounds funny, but that was actually a crucial turning point for me psychologically - it helped a lot, even if old wounds had to be uncovered in the process. I started therapy in part because of it.) I only started therapy 6 months ago... about two decades late, but better than never. I created this thread because I know that it's time for me to start moving on. I don't know how creating this thread helps me achieve that, but reading your responses has been helpful, so thanks. And Purist, that sounds awful. I'm sorry.
  3. Re: the letter - " Should I make it seem like I'm doing sooo much better now (even though I haven't gotten my depression under control)? " No. Communicate the challenges you faced/are facing. Show that you're working through them. What are you doing to work on yourself? What's changed? How do you anticipate handling future challenges when they occur? TLDR: describe and acknowledge the problems, and show evidence that you're working on overcoming them. But first, contact the university's Disability Services, describe your situation, and find out how they can help you with your application.
  4. I hope you're already pursuing therapy with a clinical psychologist - whether psychodynamic, CBT, group therapy, or whatever, it can really help. I was in exactly the same situation as you. For 8 years, I tried everything - moving to another country (twice), changing universities (three times), etc. The same thing happened every time, and I remained stuck. Then I started therapy. It's not a magical solution, though, and it's hard. As for your letter, be honest to a reasonable degree. Many universities nowadays have extensive resources for, and can be very accommodating towards people facing the kinds of challenges you're fighting through (I don't know which uni you're planning on attending, but you're probably not the first student whose academic career has taken a hit from psychological issues)... but they can't help you if you lie. And if you don't address the underlying issues - but especially if you "hide" - there's a likelihood that you'll fall back into the same cycle.
  5. Hey! Welcome. I'm sorry. I grew up with an alcoholic mother. It sucks. Moving out on my own at 18 was a huge relief for me. I'm not implying that you should just "stick it out" for another 3 years, though. It sounds like your situation merits some swift action. I'm sorry about your boyfriend, too - that feeling of betrayal is the worst and I hope you never experience it again. I don't really have anything useful to say. I'm not from the US, and I don't know who you could turn to with stuff like this. Especially since you mentioned how unhelpful Social Services have been. Hopefully someone else will step in with practical advice on what you can do. As for drug abuse - I've been there. You said "the closest I'll get to being dead" is to go down that road, but while I sympathise, I have to tell you that you're wrong. It's much, much worse. It's a living hell, and by the sounds of it, you don't need any more of that in your life. It sounds trite, but things do get better. One day you'll look back at this period with pride, because even through horrible circumstances, you kept fighting every day. I have no less admiration for you than I would for a soldier surviving alone behind enemy lines for 2 years without shelter, weapons or food. Whether you realise it or not, you're a survivor and a badass.
  6. Warning - in this (long) post I'll talk about physical (non-sexual) abuse in some detail. (None of this fits into the SAAM subforum. I hope I'm in the right place.) ---- As a child, I suffered some abuse. I also inflicted it upon others. It's the latter that I have trouble coping with. I'm in my mid-twenties now. The events I'm about to describe occurred 14-19 years ago. However, it's only recently (the past 2 years) that the memories have resurfaced, along with overwhelming guilt. I don't know why. -- My babysitter used to abuse (hitting, slapping, holding me down until I panicked, shoving, hair-pulling, etc.) and generally dominate me. On a few occasions, I tried to struggle or defend myself, but she was a big woman, and I didn't stand a chance. I don't think I ever outright hated my babysitter, though. I recognised (even at the time) that she was a decent person who genuinely cared about me. I think the abuse was a cultural byproduct of her upbringing, where "educating" children physically was simply the norm. I was also physically punished by several different school teachers throughout my childhood. The worst incident involved a male teacher kicking me repeatedly as I tried to hide under a classroom table. The feelings of humiliation and betrayal were far worse than the pain itself. None of the abuse I received particularly bothers me. I think it was unfortunate, in hindsight... but I don't feel strongly about any of it. If anything, there's pity there for the adults who mistreated me. Just pity. Maybe even some sympathy. I don't know. Now here's the part that bothers me: I hurt the family cat. Let's call him Sam. The first time it happened, I was 7 or 8, I think. I was playing with Sam quite innocently in the study. For some reason, I began throwing the kitten in the air repeatedly. At first, I caught him every time - it was just a game; I had no intention of hurting him. But I accidentally failed to catch him once, and he fell. As soon as that happened, a sadistic impulse washed over me like a wave. I threw him higher and higher, and he kept dropping. I only stopped when I noticed that he appeared hurt. Suddenly, I realised what I had done. The magnitude of that sudden realisation was terrifying. Overwhelmed by concern for Sam (I loved him, despite what I did), I ran to my mother, cradling him in my arms, told her (lied) that he had an accident and begged her to help him. The poor guy was shaking and sneezing blood - that's how bad it was. Thankfully, I hadn't seriously hurt him. He was fine. Physically anyway. The next time anything like this happened was years later. I must have been 11 or 12. I was alone, at home, and Sam was meowling and pestering me. He was probably hungry. Or maybe he just wanted some affection. Whatever the case, it annoyed me. I ended up kicking him. "Gently", at first. But something about his reaction - his defenselessness, his weakness - triggered a surge of anger within me. I kicked him again - harder that time. ...and then I kept going. He ran under the bed, so I pulled him out and kicked him again. Then, I suddenly "woke up" and stopped. I apologised to him repeatedly (for whatever that was worth) and did what I could to make him feel safe around me. I never raised a hand against him again. I lived with him for 12 more years before moving out, and during that time he showed no sign of emotional trauma or distrust. We got along well, took naps together, etc. He seemed perfectly well-adjusted, and he still sought me out for affection. -- I don't think I can accurately capture what I felt as I was abusing him - a mixture of utter disgust, self-loathing, pain, and an overpowering sadistic urge that compelled me to go on. It was almost demonic. So far, I've focused on myself - what I felt, what I feel, etc... but what about Sam? Does he remember? (He's still alive - old, but in good health. I don't see him much anymore as I've moved overseas.) Did I traumatise him? Did I damage him in some way? I'll never have the answer to those questions. That's a kind of torture in itself. I will never know what it was like for him, to be assaulted for no apparent reason. It must have been terrifying and confusing. Whether or not cats are sapient is beside the point - his capacity for suffering is beyond question, and I made him suffer. Part of me wants him to remember. I want him to be aware of what happened, and I want him to hold me responsible. But I know he doesn't. Either he's forgotten, or he's forgiven me. Both possibilities are frightening. Forgiveness because I don't deserve it. Forgetting - because that leaves me alone with the knowledge of what I did. I feel like it's my responsibility to carry that burden. No one's going to punish me for what I did. The universe certainly doesn't care. And no matter what I do, no matter how hard I try to atone, I can't take any of it back. That's the worst. The knowledge that those moments are frozen in eternity like a bug fossilised in amber. It happened. It will always have happened. That's an indelible fact. --- I'm undergoing therapy for various issues at the moment (anxiety, depression, avoidance, BDD), so I'm trying to work through this. But I just can't get over it. And I have no idea why it's become such a problem now. I was a child, I know that. I had problems, I know that. But none of that makes it any better. I've always hated seeing people **** insects. As a child, I'd routinely make "patrols" to my grandparents' pool just to fish out all the drowning bugs. I refused to **** mosquitoes. I still do, in fact. I never **** anything on purpose (except viruses, plants and bacteria, I guess.) I watch where I walk to avoid stepping on ants. etc. This Jain-like behaviour came very early on - as far as I can tell, I've always been like this. It's not an attempt to overcompensate; it's genuine, from my very core. So how do I reconcile these vastly different parts of myself??? (The darkness and the light?) How do I stop indulging in emotional self-flagellation?? How do I move forward? I'm currently studying to be a veterinarian. I plan to do rescue work with abused animals. I love doing what I do. However, I can't deny that I partly chose this career out of a desire for atonement. If I save enough animals, surely the ledger of life, or karma, or whatever, will balance out? But I really need to understand what happened and why it happened. The darkness inside hasn't magically vanished. It's still there, even if I don't recognise it... and while I'll never deliberately hurt a living creature again, that same evil might manifest itself in other ways.
  7. Seems like a mild form of dissociation. Perhaps a manifestation of anxiety? You might be depressed, but your description makes it sound like something else. Don't take my word for it though. I'm an armchair psychologist whose prestigious qualifications include watching TV shows with psychiatrists in them and reading stuff on the internet. I hope someone more helpful comes along to answer your questions. You mention that you started experiencing these things "suddenly". Have there been any recent changes in your life?
  8. Thanks for your responses. The mid-20s are a period during which you are expected to fully transition into adulthood. Throwing depression into the mix at this point really adds to the guilt of not living up to societal standards. You're right about shame, etc. being an important element to tackle before I can make meaningful progress. Good point. I tend to fall into the trap of thinking that my depression is fabricated, not real or somehow 'less valid' than others'. I suppose it's one of the many tools I use to chastise myself and reinforce my feelings of worthlessness. To deny the validity of my symptoms is just as harmful as wallowing in them. It's a trick to avoid dealing with my issues head-on. You're right about 'depression' being a general descriptive term for a collection of symptoms. It is not a value judgment. You just made me realise that - despite knowing better - I've been telling myself that since my symptoms probably lack a 'purely neurological' cause (e.g. brain damage), I am not 'entitled' to the level of misery I've been experiencing. How does one walk the fine line between self-acceptance and self-indulgence? How do you acknowledge yourself and treat yourself with kindness without enabling yourself? Self-love (not that kind) is all well and good, but if you don't know how to love yourself, any attempt at doing so seems doomed to include tacit approval of one's destructive habits. As for therapists, I had one session with a university counsellor last year. Like SpaceAce, she quickly identified guilt as being a major defining characteristic of my depression. It was difficult to open up, and I was incredibly anxious during the meeting, but it was also cathartic. Thrilling, even. She gave me some forms to fill in whenever I felt anxious or depressed. I was to describe the feeling, rate its intensity, jot down my response to it, define the context in which it took place, and identify any possible triggers. The exercise took place over a week. Any longer, she said, and it would encourage rumination, making it counter-productive. I diligently completed it, and had every intention of returning... but on the day of our next appointment, I cancelled and never went back. However, on the basis of that one consultation, I can see how regular follow-ups with a professional could be helpful. By the way, I have sought treatment. Kind of. The first person I consulted was my GP about 3 years ago. She was the first person I talked to about it. She went through the checklist, identified me as severely depressed and prescribed 50mg of Zoloft, which eventually progressed to 150mg. I took sertraline for 2 years but saw no improvement. (I was naive enough to hope that medication alone might give me the kickstart I needed. I'd like to say that I'm wiser now, but I still cling to the hope of a miracle drug. Which is why I asked about Adderall.) Anyway - I'll start looking for a therapist. PS - need to rant: it is incredibly frustrating to deal with an illness that affects the only organ with which you are able to perceive it. It is a vicious, self-reinforcing thing that cannot be grasped or adequately defined as distinct from the self (unlike, say, a broken leg). I find it difficult to stop trying to 'figure it out' and 'think my way out of it'. It's hard to accept the futility of trying to untie that gordian knot. Earlier I said "I feel like I'm drowning". Here's a more accurate description: it feels like I'm living in an Escher painting.
  9. (I'm replying to myself not to bump my topic, but because it looks cleaner that way. I have some questions that don't fit in with the OP.) How do you separate depression from yourself? At which point does depression 'fuse' with your personality, making it impossible to distinguish where the 'self' ends and where the depression begins? 8 years is a long time. I fear that, by this point, my actual personality has been sublimated/absorbed by depression - or whatever the hell it is that's making me this way. As for sharing my feelings, I'm not sure that it helps. Exposing myself like this fills me with shame and revulsion. It feels masturbatory and exhibitionistic. Like I'm looking for an excuse not to change. "It's not me, it's the depression!" But it is me. I have to be accountable for who I am. Whatever choices I've made have led me to this. It seems too easy to simply point at a common, poorly understood mental condition and use it to deny responsibility for my current situation. Who knows if it's even depression? Could be a personality disorder, could be a thyroid problem, could be a lack of vitamins... or it could just be self-reinforcing laziness that has taken on a life of its own, my poor choices snowballing and leading to depression as a symptom of the laziness that engendered it. Edit: putting the navel-gazing aside for a minute, I do have a plan (kind of) to extricate myself from this rut: -attend the gym regularly -eat balanced meals at regular times -apply to university to get some purpose and a schedule back into my life.
  10. Hi. I've been depressed for 8 years. I also have slight/mild social anxiety. I'm 25 now. While everyone my age seems to be moving forward in life - advancing their careers, socialising, leading healthy productive lifestyles - I stagnate and regress. I stay in every day. I play video games (when I can motivate myself to play, which is only if I am in possession of a certain prohibited plant). I watch TV shows. I waste time on the internet. I'm pretty sure I've lost all my friends, since I stopped talking to everyone years ago. For me, social contact involves putting on a mask (in order to appear normal) and lying through my teeth about everything. I dread innocuous questions like "what did you do today?" or "what are your plans for the weekend?". They feel like condemnations, and require me to lie. While I wither away at home, my girlfriend - whom I admire - works 2 jobs and pursues a full-time degree. It's only a matter of time before she leaves me (no one wants an unmotivated burden for a boyfriend), and we've had many 'talks'... but even that isn't enough to get me off my ass. My parents know about my depression. They are supportive and, even though I dropped out of university, still send me a monthly allowance. When people ask me how I support myself despite being unemployed, I tell them I'm "living off my savings", because I'm supposed to be a grown-ass man, not a developmentally delayed manchild still mooching off his parents. Being an able-bodied, able-minded, white, upper-middle-class male, I was born into privilege. I have every resource & advantage at my disposal... and yet I continue to squander it all. I don't exactly hate myself. I like who I am on the inside. Or rather, I like who I could be. But that person has been suffocated by laziness, shame and failure. I don't want to die, but I often fantasize about fatal accidents or terminal illnesses because they represent an easy way out. I feel like I'm drowning and it's all my fault. What can I do? (Aside from seeking therapy, which is a daunting task in itself.) I've heard that some ADD meds (e.g. Adderall), and some anti-psychotics, can increase motivation. Could something like that help? Or is it a very bad idea?
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