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Starting a healing process - a different approach.

For many months now I have struggled with severe depression and have asked myself the question, how do I break this cycle? How do I get out of this? I’ve asked myself if I actually want to get out of this because in a strange way it feels comfortable and I can’t imagine anything different. My only solution for a way out has been suicide. I have my plan in place and know exactly what I’m going to do. I’ve practiced out my plan many times and have frightened a lot of people. I have spoken to and told a number of professionals, had cbt and talking therapy but none of it helped. If anything I crawled deeper into my hole and became more determined to carry out my plan.

Following a complete breakdown at work they referred me to occupational health and I spoke to someone who had a very different approach to anyone I’ve spoken to before. I want to pass on some of what he said to me. If this helps even one other person here it will be worth me sharing. I don’t know if I can remember everything he said because I was quite emotional at the time but I will tell you what I remember.

He asked if anyone had ever explained to me why these things were happening to me. Why I had got into this cycle which feels as if I can’t get out. This is what he said to me.

Starting at the beginning of your story whether it be trauma, guilt, pain an event in your life, your body responds chemically to the situation. The adrenaline starts pumping and your body prepares for action. Blood is pumped to your brain to allow you to think and moved away from areas like your stomach. Under normal circumstances this should then calm down when the situation eases but what if it doesn’t ease? What if the high alert, the stress, the adrenaline continues or even increases? What if something else happens and your body reacts even more? Your appetite is affected because your stomach has been shut down and you can’t process food properly. You stay permanently in high alert mode and you find it starts to effect your sleep.

Disturbed sleep causes a big impact on your ability to cope.

Imagine your brain is like a computer. Every day information is input into your brain. Over night when you get into deep sleep your brain processes this information, sorts it out and stores it in an organised way. If you don’t get into deep sleep then the information is not processed. If your brain is on high alert you don’t reach that deep sleep. The following day your brain stores more information again on top of the previous day’s unprocessed information. And so this continues until your brain starts to slow down. It can’t cope with the amount of information that is being stored and unprocessed. You start to forget things, can’t think straight, make mistakes, can’t find words; you become more frustrated and still you can’t sleep. Eventually your brain becomes overloaded and shuts down, only runs on ‘safe mode’ and you can no longer function properly. This safe mode, he said, was depression.

A sign that you are not reaching deep sleep is waking every night at 2-3 o’clock? During deep sleep your brain tells your body to go into night mode. This slows down your kidneys and your bladder is able to hold more. If this signal is not sent, by 3 o’clock at night you are woken because you need the toilet. Then you are back in the cycle of your head racing and being unable to get back to sleep.

Having heard this, for me it made sense. I haven’t slept properly for months. If I do sleep I wake around 3 and then can’t get back to sleep. It’s all very well knowing this but how do you get out of it? He said he works on a triangle approach. Exercise, self care and talking. Exercise every day, even a walk for half an hour each day. Talking, I have been fortunate enough to be referred for trauma counselling. Self care, learning to look after yourself again, eat, sleep, drink properly etc.

Personally I have two main barriers to overcome. The first is actually wanting to get better. I have plenty of people around me who want me to get better. In fact my work are paying for my private counselling. So if nothing else I feel obliged to try. So perhaps as a start I will make an effort for them. My second barrier is self care. It will take time for me to feel comfortable to do anything positive for myself. My usual reaction to anyone telling me to look after myself is to do the exact opposite and I spend most of my day trying to abuse myself physically; my aim to finally collapse and be carted away. However, I said I would give it a try for their sake, not for mine, so I have been exercising with a short walk these last few days. I’ve also started to take sleeping tablets so have managed to sleep for the last couple of nights which is unheard of for me.
I start my trauma counselling tomorrow which I suspect will be gruelling. So I consider myself as being at the start of my healing journey. I have quite a long way to go. My aim, if I have one, to be able to say to my husband that I will never leave him by taking my own life. He has made this promise to me but I cannot say it back. I still need to have that option and will not give it up easily. I will know that I have made it when I can finally promise him that.


Sim Addict
Safety & Support
SF Author
SF Supporter
I always say the nothing changes if nothing changes. But it's impossible to make big changes at the click of the fingers. Good self care doesn't have to be an arduous task. Sometimes for me it's a pyjama day watching netflix with some snacks or playing my favourite computer games. It can be a nice lavender bath with clean bedding and clean pj's, it could be going out for a nice walk. It doesn't have to be something difficult. It takes a lot of practice but start small.


SF grey-haired bear 🐻
Staff Alumni
@Holding my breath Thank you for sharing this information and congratulations on having the courage to try something new. The self-care may have to come in bits and pieces. We can't change everything at once. But it is so cool that you are trying. Please let us know how things go.


SF Supporter
Thank you for letting me know how you are doing. I have been wondering/worrying about you since we chatted in the thread a couple weeks(?) ago. It sounds like this new person's approach is really appealing to you. I hope that it is super effective in helping you :)
I wake up every night to use the restroom too since a few years ago maybe.. I told myself it was for other reasons, but this new information is giving me something to think about.
Take care. *hug
Thank you for letting me know how you are doing. I have been wondering/worrying about you since we chatted in the thread a couple weeks(?) ago. It sounds like this new person's approach is really appealing to you. I hope that it is super effective in helping you :)
I wake up every night to use the restroom too since a few years ago maybe.. I told myself it was for other reasons, but this new information is giving me something to think about.
Take care. *hug
Thank you for thinking of me. *hug I’m pleased some of this information may be of use to you. The chap I spoke to seemed to link all the physical effects of depression with the emotional side. He says he looks at the whole person rather than just one aspect of the problem. I have no idea if his approach will work but it was so different to anything else I’d heard before and when he explained it, it seemed to make sense. My resilience and ability cope with anything at the moment is non existent but perhaps this new approach will make a difference. Xx*brohug
Had my first counselling meeting today. I think I know in some ways what I need to do to try to make things feel better. But knowing what I need to do and actually doing it are two completely different things.

1. I need to find myself again, work out who I am, what I like, what I don't like. Make my own decisions without feeling guilty or choosing what others want instead. I don’t know if I have ever truly known who I am because I’ve always been an extension of someone else. So finding myself after 50 years is not going to be easy.

2. I need to learn to build a barrier around myself to protect myself from other peoples pain. I always try to absorb everyone else’s pain in an attempt to remove it from them. I tell myself that it is my responsibility to ensure that they are ok. But in reality I can’t remove their pain and it is unrealistic to think that I can protect them from everything life will through at them. I end up absorbing so much pain from everyone around me that I can’t cope under the enormity of it.

3. I need to come down off high alert. I’m like a meerkat, always on guard and waiting for the next problem to tackle. I never relax, never settle and wait in high anticipation for something to go wrong, for someone to come to me with a problem or upset . I need to notice when there is nothing wrong and learn to relax. Allow the adrenaline to calm down.

Identifying these has taken months but now I have them clearly in my head, somehow I need to tackle them. It’s not easy because others around me expect me to behave in a certain way. They expect me to be there and support them in the same way I always have; everyone turns to me for support. They also expect me to go along with what they want and not have an opinion of my own. Change can’t just come from me but also from others and their expectations of me.

I came away from my counselling session with a small glimmer of hope that perhaps this is something that is possible. As the day has drawn on I’ve felt that optimism fade and I’ve found it more difficult to see a way through. Tiredness I’m sure doesn’t help. The smallest of knocks tends to send me flying. And at the end of the day that ache is still there; if I allow myself, I am still very actively planning my escape route.

I need to remember the promise that I one day may be able to make to my husband. ‘I will not leave you by taking my own life’. I cannot make that promise yet but perhaps, maybe, one day, I’ll be w me to say it.

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