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Escaper & Survivor

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Its interesting, how internally I have had this 'survivor' and 'escaper' struggle within me. When I first developed PTSD and then the subsequent horrific depression, I felt like the 'survivor' in me was more consuming and kept trying to hold the 'escaper' part of me off.

Now its different. The escaper is more powerful, and I can tell that what I want is to escape. I want to die now. I know there must be this "if you want to die, why havent you" question....and the reason I havent, is that there is still this survivor part of me that just keeps me alive. I hate that part of me.

I'm reminded of this feeling you have when you really truly give up. Its a feeling of ....wherever you are, whatever you are doing, right at that very moment, you just stop. You lay down, and you stop. You dont care. You don't care who sees you, or who tries to stop you. You don't care if anyone does see you or anyone does stop you. You just stop. You curl up on the floor, right where you are, and wait for everything to stop.

I am reminded of an experience in my life that I equate to this feeling. I was terrified of heights and had to climb a 20 foot high cargo net when I was about 14 or so, at this outdoor education thing. I was terrified, and we had to climb to the top, climb over the top and down the other side. I climbed up to the top. Got there, and froze. I couldnt get myself to climb over the top, and I didnt even think of climbing down. Instead, I just let go and fell. Smack on my back. I just let go, not caring, but knowing I couldnt climb over it.

I also once went hiking in a cave in Slovakia, and I had a major panic attack. I got terrified. I was so terrified, I stopped moving. It was at that point, I couldnt go forward, and I couldnt go backwards. I would have been ok to just live there forever, because I was too terrified. It was another moment of, just quitting, giving up, the escaper becoming powerful, and just laying down like a hedgehog and curling up, because I couldn't move. I ended up being carried out of the cave by one of the men with us. So thats how Im not still in the cave now.

Anyway, those feelings - of just quitting, of just decideding, that I am in too much pain, and I am too tired, that I really, truely, do not care....I remember it and recognize it. I feel it now sometimes and I know that is the escaper part of me that is trying to run away. And the survivor part of me is what gets me up to go to work in the morning.

Before I went into hospital, I started taking medications and mixing them and whatever...this is a common theme for me over the past few years. I've only been out of hospital for about 2.5 months, and Im doing it again. And far worse. I made myself horribly sick last night, and I keep doing it. I am 'experimenting'.

I dont know where to go anymore, or what to do. I truly feel like there is no hope for me, and I really have tried so hard. There are no answers anymore, I dont know what to do. I am afraid to tell my therapist any of this, because I dont want to put him out or bug him.

I dont know. I hide this from my partner and from everyone. I didnt go to work last friday, and I've been up for only about 2 hours at a time since then and its now sunday evening.

I know I need to go to work tomorrow, but I really dont know how I am going to get through at all...

I kind of just think that I need to die and that its the only answer. Its not right to keep going like I am. I hate the survivor part of me. I hate it.

It is interesting, how the two sides have somewhat changed positions.
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Staff Alumni

Your therapist is exactly there for you to listen to those thoughts you are having. If he was not willing to deal with this, he would give knitting class. So don't be afraid to confide in him. If he is any good, he will help you working through those feelings.

Its normal to resent to some extent what you call your survivor side. Its the part that tells you that at some point, you'll have to go through a lot of pain, fear and discomfort to get all of your life back, that somebody wont always be there to bail you out of the cave or that next time you fall, you can injure yourself. Running away from our fears is exhausting, leads to more pain and eventually costs us the joy of experiencing our life to the max. Its okay to be afraid, its okay to be open about it with people. They cant carry you out of the cave you are in right now, but they sure can be there to counsel you, to reassure you everything will be okay and be by your side to root for you. But the only way you will eventually be free of it, is not by hiding or giving up, it's by confronting it. At some point, there was one place I was very afraid to go, so I asked my brother to accompany me there. And we walked through it singing some silly army song. Build for yourself a mental safety net, enroll support, confront it progressively and you will get through. Don't give up, life has many gifts for you on the other side of fear.


Staff Alumni
I truly understand what you are saying. I think part of PTSD is depersonalization and dissassociation, both of which will cause the escapist mentality...over time and under differing stressors, I think each defense mechanism comes into play, especially as PTSD continues to haunt a person. The survivor creates the power by opposing the perp; the escapist no longer has that to hold on to...I have fluctuated between both positions with a much shorter cycle, one day feeling I must keep going, and the next feeling like I could not care less...J
I dont even know what I am afraid of anymore. I just feel so exhausted. I imagine it a bit now, like there was this wall and I thought I was climbing up it alright, there were footholds and things to grab on to, even when I thought there wasnt. But now, the way to the top is sheer glass with nothing to hold on to and if I keep going, I'll just fall...and I cant go back down, because its impossible...

I dont know where to go from here. I dont know where to get more help, I dont know who to tell. I dont know what to do. I've had therapy, and I've had drugs, and I've had hospital stays. I feel like going to my GP - I will just be saying the same thing over and over again. I quit seeing the psychiatrist I had been seeing, as I hated her...

to be honest, when things get this way....the trauma of the past, and the intrusive memories and all that impact doesnt even matter anymore. I start to think that there is just something so wrong with me at this point.



Fiber Artist
Safety & Support
SF Supporter
Ayuria, there is nothing wrong with you other than suffering from trauma and pain. I understand that very well. Trauma affects us so deeply and affects our daily lives.

Perhaps a different psychiatrist? I know that is not easily done, no matter what health system you are under, but I know that sometimes you get someone you just don't fit with.

I don't have any great wisdom for you, other than keep trying, and know we do care and support you here.



Well-Known Member
You can get past the feeling of wanting to quit. You just need to try to climb down the other side of the rope ;). I know that seems impossible sometimes, but it helps to have friends guiding you along the way. I know the world seems pointless and living is even less purposeful, but there are reasons to live. Your 'survivor' is trying to tell you that. There's something keeping you alive and instead of hating it, you should try to make it stronger again.
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