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A key word that you will see:

Fragmentation: a mental process where a person becomes intensely emotionally focused on one aspect of themselves, such as “I am angry” or “no one loves me,” to the point where all thoughts, feelings and behavior demonstrate this emotional state, in which, the person does not or is unable to take into account the reality of their environment, others or themselves and their resources. This is a term that my therapist and I use and is on the continuum of dissociation.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Okay, I'll try to explain!!

So, what happened. I’m not sure if I can explain or not. I’m feeling rather detached. I just really want to retreat right now. Several things happened in which I reacted by fragmenting and dissociating. One, you know about which is the comment about whether my memories were planted by my therapist. The other is therapy itself and coming to terms more and more with what I wanted and didn’t get from her started from when I was born…of not being wanted.

Then, there is this dilemma of when I don’t get what I want, which I generally don’t know, I feel like I’m bad for having it and for not receiving it. Which is the situation that I’ve always had with my mother except for the addition of her reinforcing that I was bad. So, basically…no matter where I turned I was bad. I don’t know if that mad sense when my therapist was explaining it, I was fragmenting and my memory gets fuzzy.

At the end of last week, a situation occurred on a social blog that triggered the feelings more intensely on a personal and human level. I was involved in a discussion where things got nasty and there was much conflict. I don’t do well with conflict even if it is just written, so I began to fragment.

Then, someone made light and joked about depression in a personal way where I felt personally attacked. No matter my response, I felt like I was being told I was too sensitive and that my depression was my fault. This combined with making light or fun of mental illness really angered me and then, my feelings were very hurt when I didn’t get the sort of response that I had hoped.

A couple of people were helpful, but by then I was not just fragmenting I was dissociating. So, I decided to first respond and then to stop all together because this was obviously hitting a trigger and a bad one. I’m still dealing with it in therapy and having a really tough time. I just feel like the pictures I’ve been posting. I feel quite raw and vulnerable and want to protect myself from being hurt anymore.

Anyway, the following is a part of my response with names changed to “protect the innocent.”

Having a mental illness, for me, unless the person knows me and I them, it is hurtful to make light or fun of my illness. Basically, no matter the intent, it is not a situation in which make light of. That is why it is personal because my feelings were/are hurt.

No, it isn’t just a different point of view when light heartenedness touches something painful. If you had cancer, would it be okay for someone that you didn’t know to be light hearted about it online. Think about it…for most, it wouldn’t be, so it is true for mental illness.

(Someone was renamed “suicidal thoughts. I was renamed “clinically depressed.”) I don’t know who that is, but when it comes to mental illness renaming people to reflect depressive and suicidal impressions is dangerous because you really don’t know how that person will react to that comment. Responsible blogging does not make light of a person’s illnesses no matter what they are unless it is in the proper context of the person themselves making the comment first.

“So, I can call you Cancerous Carla now? How about Epileptic Edward, Jaundice Jason, Asthmatic Anne, Bipolar Brian, etc. I am sorry if I offended anyone and I do not know people’s illnesses, so please don’t take it like I know what you have or anything at all. I am simply trying to illustrate my point.

Mental illness has a stigma associated with it and comments like the one made today added to the pain. The comment that was left about someone’s “psyche was bruised,” is exactly the point. Obviously, it was wounding and to me and in my opinion, in poor judgment to use someone’s illness as a point to make light or to attack.

It doesn’t help that I am being seen as the “sensitive” one than can’t handle lightheartedness. I felt like some were just telling me to toughen up. Well, that is part of the illness. I felt very little support or understanding.

I can handle quite a bit and have, but this is a very tender area for me. And when I was working and more social, I listened to all the whispers and negative comments and these were from other social workers. I can also be quite tough skinned, but this area gets poked at enough where there isn’t much time to heal. For some reason, people think it is okay to attack someone with a mental illness, which is why most moderate or make their blog private.

So, try living a day in my shoes if you simply think that it is a point of view issue and not something hurtful. To me and many other people, joking about mental illness is mean spirited. It makes me question what to share because I don’t need to experience this kind of pain again. Hugs do not soothe this type of pain.”

My therapist and I still have a lot to work through with what this all triggered, but the most important point is that my feelings were hurt and I wanted someone just to say they were sorry that I ended up getting hurt. I wanted someone to simply know how hurt I was. So, I acted it out on my blog. I think, it was one of the only ways to express how deeply hurt I was.

I know these are my issues and my response does not match the situation, but it triggered a really tender and well-defended part of me. So, I just want to hide and protect myself. My depression has been really up since this started. So, that is sort of what has been going on. My therapist even cautioned me about blogging about this given the place I'm in. I keep fragmenting or dissociating because I still am in pain which now has very little to do with the situation.


Anonymous said...

You know... you could look at this situation as an opportunity.

Your comment: "I know these are my issues and my response does not match the situation, but it triggered a really tender and well-defended part of me"

Okay. So, here's a clear example of how the response doesn't match what happened.

Use it. To try and break this down.

If you can ofcourse... but its a chance to dismantle at least some of this reaction so if (and when - people are always insensitive) this sort of thing occurs again... perhaps next time it won't hit you as hard?

I hope that makes sense and I hope you don't think I'm trying to tell you how to suck eggs. I'm talking from my own recent experiences, and being able to identify just that - not just the hurt, but the over-reaction and why... and perhaps... if there's a next time, I'll be better able to cope.

We can't control how other people behave but we can handle how we deal with their slings and arrows... with some effort!


Border Life said...

I'm sorry you are going through this kind of pain. With what you've been through, I can see how you would feel and react the way you do. It makes sense that you want to withdraw. You'll get through it. *hugs* <3 BL

Mike Golch said...

Peace to you my friend.I'm not gonna on my computer as much as I onec was due to the seizures and the computer may be a contributing factor.I dropped a lot of blogs from my reader.
Take care my friend.

Wandering Coyote said...

I really liked your response - firm but clear and respectful. And I can totally understand why your feelings were hurt and why you began to retreat. I have reacted the same way to similar situations.

Clueless said...

@Svasti...oh shut up!!! :-)It hurts to stay here and it hurts to go deal with it and either way I get more depressed. Great choices!! At least, there is a choice. :-)

@Border Life & Wandering Coyote. Thank you. Withdraw that's the answer, right? Thank you for your understanding.

@Mike. I'm sorry that you are going through this. I understand. Take care of yourself.

Anonymous said...

You are so right to get the hell out of there. In fact, the length of your responses goes way beyond what I would have done. I know there is the natural desire to fight back against thoughtless and offensive behavior - but I always feel like I've fallen into a trap when I go there. It feeds my obsessiveness, and I keep playing the scene over and over again. I've seen so many bad exchanges in forums that I'm super cautious about them these days. You come first! Take care of yourself however you need to - and don't worry about explaining. It's not a question of right or wrong behavior but of doing the necessary thing.

All my best - John

Clueless said...

Hi John D.

There are two different places one I care about and the other I don't. This post is about the one I care about. I am no longer responding to "attacking" behavior unless it really bothers me and I need to respond for me. Which has been good for me. I also know that when my feelings outweigh the situation that I need to look at what it triggered...not a fun thing to do. This particular site is usually really good about self monitoring and addressing newcomers. This was just a really bad week there...very surreal. I think, I am taking care of myself...it is just the things that were triggered that really got to me. Something would have triggered it anyway. Thank you so much for your support.


Laura said...

Making light of someone's mental illness is just wrong. No wonder you want to retreat. I'd do the same thing.

April_optimist said...

Oh, geez. I don't get people making light of mental illness. Well, actually I do. I suspect it's based in fear. If you're weak not sick, then that person can't get depressed or suicidal because they aren't weak. In other words, magical protective thinking. It's why "blame the victim" is such a popular game. If something is scary, invent a reason why the person made it happen to them then if you avoid doing that (whatever it is) the scary thing can't happen to you.

So...any time someone makes light of mental illness, I figure they're pretty darned scared about the idea of being that way themselves.

Anonymous said...

Your feelings are always valid, even if they are exaggerated more than you'd like.


Angie said...

thoughts to you. It is so painful when something like this happens online.

Anonymous said...


One of the things that helped me so much early in my recovery was the serenity prayer. I know you are not an addict but this prayer is a good one for just about anyone who is struggling and/or in transition.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.

Svasti is right--the only thing you can change is what you do and what your reaction to others is. You cannot change the fact that there are ignorant and/or unkind people in the world.

Remember, that for every insensitive person, there are several more sensitive ones. I try to bypass those who would prefer to do harm than good. Perhaps you an try to do that as well?



Clueless said...


I've taken care of that stuff, but what I am left with is processing what was triggered and facing the reality of who my mother is and her responsibility in my whole complicated system of "I'm bad." Really, quite exhausting, confusing, intense and well defended. I just don't seem to want to talk about really. As expected defensive depression, self-harm urges and suicidal thoughts are increased. But, it is either a flashback type or a defense, so as long as I keep that in perspective I'm okay. Still don't feel good, but I am okay.


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