Anxiety Disorders
My own way #1 Tags: health illness mental health my own way healing


Being in a state of complete physiological and psychological burnout is not easy. The immense fatigue is hard to describe to anyone who has not experienced it. Stemming from a psychological breakdown starting early in 2015, to which I have previously alluded and will elaborate on at some later point, I spent 2016 and 2017 recovering as best I could. The breakdown lasted until sometime in late 2017, when I finally managed to sleep properly again. Up until late 2017, i had been running on empty since early 2015, averaging three hours of resless sleep each night.

It should go without saying that this took a great toll on mind and body, and as the recovery proved nigh impossible without proper sleep, I turned to seeking help, comfort and understanding. I then turned to despair when I realised that there were no proper help to be had. Neither during my breakdown, nor during my recovery. What I realised trying to get professional help was that there was noone willing to listen properly I sought action, practical applications to get me through whatever it was that I was going through at the time, either in the midst of my breakdown, or at the beginning stages of my slow recovery. I received medications and a constant stream of "therapeutical" talk which did little to help. The meds made my sleep worse and my behaviour even more erratic than it were, alien even, as I quickly became someone I was not, due to the medications crackling in my brain making me seek constant action of some sort or other. To combat my insomnia, I was put on stimulants with a chemical buildup, I later learned, closely mirroring amphetamines. Not a wise choice, one would say.
I spent six months tapering off this medicinal treatment. And another six months still suffering withdrawals and sideeffects. The therapeutical talk did little to help as well, every session being nothing but a rundown of the previous session. I know this pattern too well, having been in therapy for seventeen years. One would think that, after seventeen years, some good would have come of it. Rather than gradually being cured from whatever psychological ailments I might suffer, I was medicated into apathy and isolation, misdiagnosed and treated for several ailments which I did not suffer. Treating the symptoms, not the cause. The assumption being that I could not get better. It seems to me, in hindsight, that all these years of therapy have been nothing but a vicious cycle of symptoms medication for symptoms more symptoms more medications. On and on.

During my breakdown of 2015, there was no help to be gained. My psychiatrist had gone on vacation without informing me. Desperate calls from both my wife and myself to health services rendered nothing. What I needed was instantaneous help. Help in crisis, pure and simple. Nothing was done, nor could anything be done, I learned.
Hindsight being 20/20, we should have pushed and pushed until they had to render help. But the lackluster response were of a sort so unsympathetic and callous, so cold and clinical and bureaucratic that hope was lost and the willingness to proceed on my part gone the way of my sleep and my relaxation: blasted into dismal and confused oblivion.

Seeking help from the personal sphere proved difficult as well, as the responses I got were to suck it up, followed by questions about how my wife were doing through all this. The message I received being that the wellbeing of my wife mattered more than my own wellbeing, despite me being in the midst of a complete breakdown where nothing seemed familiar to me. Of course, this did nothing but add a layer of bad conscience to my fractured and fragmenting psyche. Which brought me to a point of absolute despair, come mid-2016, where I wrote something like "No matter what I do, it all turns to shit. I give up." on my Facebook wall. Obviously, I am paraphrasing, as I can`t remember my exact wording. That matters little, though. I got one response, being told to "Not make myself so pitiful". As if this would alleviate my very obvious breakdown. I replied with anger. To which I only received the answer of "I have said what I wanted to say". Not much empathy nor understanding to be found.
Now, to be clear, I do not consider Facebook a place to seek comfort, understanding or reason, facebook of course being the land of unreason and kneejerk reactions. But at that point in time, I was not thinking clearly. What was clear to me then, however, and still is, is this: my suffering did not matter in the least. The reason for this response was that the "culprit" found what I said uncomfortable, not that I should not make myself "pitiful", but that I should not make this person feel uncomfortable. It was not born out of compassion for me. Better that I suffer in silence, than let this person feel uncomfortable about my state of mind. Or my non-state of mind. Nevermind the fact that my original post was born from despair out of not receiving any support at all; a last and desperate cry for help. This reply proved to me, without a smudge of doubt, that I would receive no understanding, nor support from anywhere. A cynical outlook, for sure, but born from experience and carried ever forward as the weeks and months and years of unrest and lack of sleep carried on, me still being expected to drop everything in my life to rush to the aid of others instead of receiving aid myself.

Fast-forward now, to december 22, 2017. Mind getting calmer, sleep getting better through meditation and the application of antypsychotics, calming my mind a bit. The only medication, I migt add, that has ever worked properly for me. At this point in time, I have been receiving proper professional treatment for some time, after slamming my head into the wall. Had I received immediate treatment during my breakdown, I would have fared way better. Anyhow, I am sitting in the doctors office, completely exhausted, with every part of my body aching, my mind feeling foggy, sluggish, uncomprehending. And I am told that I now suffer a condition of chronic pain and fatigue: Fibromyalgia, which seems to me to be another modern ailment, brought on by stress and societal madness. A catch-all diagnosis for a variety of aches and ills, all different, yet close enough to be caught under an umbrella-term, bunched together and given a name. A name, but no cure. I am aware of the reasons for my current predicament. It is easy to say that this is brought on by my breakdown in 2015, but the truth is that 2015 was the catalyst. It has been building for untold years, repressed anger and fear and confusion brought on by unacknowledged and untreated/poorly treated trauma. My chaos of 2015 brought it all out into the light, and showed me myself to myself, my history and the core of my madness.

Now, this diagnosis brings with it the necessity of re-evaluating ones life. There are no two ways about it: things must change, in order for the mind and body to function properly together. When one wanes, the other follows. Psychological stress brings forth physiological pain, and vice versa yet another vicious cycle handed me by my psyche. Everything I previously had sought and worked towards had to change. My planned career of art and writing tossed out the window in a catastrophic collapse of my body and mind. I have become unable to work as hard as I want to work on my art and my writings in order to achieve whatever success I might have achieved had I not "squandered" it all by getting ill. Through becoming ill, I have had to take a objective look at my life, my hopes and my dreams, my values and my passions. I have been forced to sort myself and my life out. In many ways, it is a blessing in disguise. This fucking ailment has made me truly seek my own way, to carve my own path through life based on my own values and desires, my own loves and passions, my own interests and hobbies, as well as my own strenghts and weaknesses.

This ramble serves as a short introduction to a series I have entitled "my own way", in which I will ponder my values and wax philosophically on the meaning and eventual goal of my life. Make no mistake: this is written mainly for my own development and healing. I am, however, hopeful that some of what I write might be applicable to the life of others, that someone will find some advice, perhaps even words of wisdom, in my ongoing ramble.

- Kim Solvang Andersen, Sandnes, 2018

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