Rage Against Recovery


“Are you enjoying your art therapy?” she said.

I shook my head, partly in answer, and partly in disbelief that a mental health professional should have so little understanding of psychotherapy. In what universe is exposing your screwed up self to another FUN?

But this is the world of Recovery, in which any vaguely pleasant or rewarding activity can be dressed up as therapeutic. So there’s therapeutic art, therapeutic gardening, therapeutic baking, therapeutic kindness to others. And from there, of course, it’s not such a leap – and this is already well on the way, inveigling itself into government policy  – to the concept of therapeutic employment. You can see the appeal. Cut the benefits bill and solve the growing mental health crisis in one fell ideological swoop.

And if these dumbed down “therapies” don’t work? The blame is easily located in the service user and their poor “coping strategies”. Treatment…

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Elephant/Shark/awful mixed metaphors

[‪Contains mentions of suicide.]

I feel fractured. Shut down. There’s probably feelings hiding in the part I’m cut off from, stoked up by the recent appointment, laying things bare and putting words to my dismal reality. But I’m ignoring the bigger elephant in the room, I’m ignoring that I’m suicidal.

It might sound like a rubbish strategy but it’s the best of a bad lot. If I actually give it any time and attention it’ll likely only seem more appealing, make more sense, begin to be logical and inevitable and right. If it pulls me under I know there’s no place to go with it, fighting it is a solo effort; I survive it or I don’t but at least by ignoring it there’s a chance I won’t have to fight it head on at all.

Sounds like avoidance, but the other thing sounds like ruminating. And so the conflict in my head goes, already telling me I’m dealing with this all wrong. Every path is wrong, every step the wrong one, whipping up fear into terror until I can’t do or say or feel or think anything.

This took an unexpected turn, I think I should leave it there.


I’ve had conversations lately about art, creativity. I like the idea of creating something, expressing, but previous attempts have been unfulfilling, frustrating. Since I discovered I have aphantasia, the difficulties make more sense. So I’ve been courting the idea of trying again. Of using my complete lack of understanding of the concepts of art and design to my advantage. Of not giving up just because it doesn’t come easily & I’m afraid of sucking at it. I’m mulling, slowly, cautiously, as is my way. But then that familiar dread, that knot, that utter fucking paralysis.

No, you can’t do something purely because it might be therapeutic or nurturing or enjoyable.

 If it’s not self-improvement via achievement, it’s not happening. And this is how it’s always been, a truth that I never had words for before (not that I’m sure these are the right ones, at all). I can tell it’s terror, I know it so well, the vice-like grip.. and I know I’m powerless to move against it.

Don’t Speak

There’s a fallout whenever I achieve anything. There’s a bigger fallout when I talk. Where my mind (Steve) picks it apart, tries to ruin it, tries to sour it. Even when I do everything to mitigate, even when I really trust the person, it’s bad. And if I’m honest, it’s getting worse. Idk how to quiet my head. Idk how to make the dread lessen. Idk how to deal with this monster… can’t talk about it, that’s for sure. I feel utterly stuck.

I got nothing, except an apology for my existence. I try to think of the things to remember in this state, for comfort, but my mind goes blank. I used to feel like there’s a monster living in my head but now I feel more monster than not myself. People say anxiety is like a sign something is wrong, not to be ignored… if that’s right, my major problems are only fixed by not existing, never having existed at all. There’s so much shame built up inside me I feel the dreadful, familiar burning of my cheeks even when I’m alone. I don’t know why I’m writing, I don’t know if it helps or if I’m sharing things people shouldn’t share. But nothing I do, say, think or am will go unquestioned & uncriticised right now so I have absolutely no idea what’s right, what’s ok, what’s me.


It’s been about a week since I went more than about four hours without crying. Not cathartic sobbing, but a slow, defeated stream. On and off. I shouldn’t mark time. I’m losing my grip a little, saying things I never want said, things I shouldn’t say, things that make me wish I hadn’t and feel unsafe and make other people sad. Suicidal ideation has shifted from passive to active. From an idea of an escape, to a torturous decision. When the thick, hopeless fog of depression means I can’t tell what’s me and what’s lies any more, combines with the worst bits of anxiety, adding urgency to the bits right in my core, that know I must not be, I must *have never been*. I’m past calling any kind of crisis services; I make it or I don’t. That’s the best way. But it is a horrible realisation, when I’m toe to toe with the abyss, the reflex is to wonder what to do… but the reality is there is nothing I can do.

Trying to find truth

People say, if I can’t have hope for the future, my future, they can have that for me, for now. And that’s the only way I have any hope at all.

People say, depression lies. I say something awful, and they tell me it’s the depression, that’s what it does, like a mouldy grey filter on everything.

People say, ‘you’ll find youself’, or things about listening to my gut. I’ve been trying, but mostly all I hear is what other people have said, or what I imagine they would say. All of them. Completely contradictory and conflicting. Or I hear the depression. Or I hear Steve, the collection of ideas and thoughts that seep out from the back right hand side of my brain,  a low-level but constant reminder to keep things even, not show distress, and remind me that I’m awful… like I’m being held hostage at gunpoint by a hidden intruder, but ordered to never reveal that to the person in front of me. Sometimes it screams, if I step outside the acceptable boundaries, reveal too much.

My guts tell me bad things, horrible truths. They churn every hour I’m awake with anxiety. Sometimes GAD gets distracted by nonsensical (but always deeply horrific) worries, sometimes it motors on with only the idea of my existence to fuel it.

I’ve managed to somehow seek out a tiny online circle of people who will tell me good things (for which I am immensely grateful). Things I want to believe over all the bad stuff. And since my faith in myself is non-existent, I can defer to them and hold the ideas they give me as possible truths, alongside the ones being hissed or screamed at me from inside.

I don’t know where I’m really going with this, except that I don’t know how to have faith in myself when all that’s keeping me pushing onwards is a half-belief that everybody else is right and I am definitely wrong. I can’t reconcile it, I’m absolutely stuffed full of internal conflict, and I can’t tell my own opinion in here above the noise of all the others.