Notes to Self

July 16, 2012

Do you Death Spiral?

That’s what my husband calls it; a Death Spiral.

I start with one issue/obstacle/event and just pile on more and more until I end up in angry tears, blaming myself for ‘everything’ that is wrong and am unable to connect with the world around me. The trigger could be something as simple as running out of tissues or it could be a comment someone made (or what I inferred the person was really saying). Then I pile on the immediate (somewhat superficial) issues (e.g., messy house) and then get into the thick of it (e.g., I am a terrible mother because I cannot keep this house clean enough). As I go deeper and deeper I get more and more frustrated and angry. I withdraw and shut down. My cup runneth over with self-blame and criticisms. I can’t interact with my family and I sit trying desperately to keep it together enough that I don’t pitch a fit. I can’t find a way out.

Then comes the post-Death Spiral guilt.

I am doing it again and my daughter is picking up on my anger and frustration and now she is getting cranky and is a little nervous. I am teaching her to be angry and frustrated. I said I wouldn’t do this again but her I am – I am such a failure!

So I retreat (leave my daughter with my husband). I hide. Put a pillow over my head and hope the fighting stops. Cry a little. Scream a few times (into a pillow of course).

Then I hear my daughter crying – she wants her mommy. It’s not her fault I can’t deal with life. She needs me. So I go to her.

I try to put on a happy face and most of the time I succeed (she transforms me!). Or she will take a nap and give me some breathing time. My husband will sometimes talk me through (and out of) it. Eventually it dissipates. Sometimes I am left with defensive resentment, sometimes it helps clear the air. But I never feel resolved, just pacified.

I know it is just a matter of time until the next Death Spiral occurs. I need to stop them from happening. I don’t know how.

I realize it is happening. I realize it is crap that I do it. But once it starts….

I realize the flawed premise(s) upon which these Death Spirals are initiated. But I still believe there is some truth to them!

My therapist says I need to examine the facts surrounding each thought, determine if I really believe them and then go from there.

Obviously I am neither capable of doing this once the spiral starts nor capable of recognizing it before the spiral starts.

So now what?

I am worried that if I stop being so hard on myself I will become more of a failure than I already think I am (and then it will be true!). Note I say think because when I look closely I am relatively successful. Other than some challenges (e.g., my weight), I have accomplished a good deal (and don’t think too highly of myself!). Lower your standards and expectations and you will become what you fear. Does that even make sense?

I am a big fan of trying to answer the question “why”. I feel that if I understand from where an emotion/thought originates then I have a better chance at coming to terms with the situation. (yes, back to my parents). I recall getting to a point in my childhood where I couldn’t figure out why I was always wrong. It seemed as thought my parents were always telling me that what I did, thought or said was incorrect or not good enough, that I was making the same mistakes over and over and that I wasn’t paying close enough attention or giving it a good enough effort. But I didn’t agree and I never understood. I always looked for a reason as to why my parents thought I was so “bad”, and I guess I eventually just figured it was innate and out of my control. As a result (in hindsight of course) is my constant fear of being wrong and my tendency to admit my faults without hesitation (I will just offer up my short comings so no one can point them out to me later).

Which full circles back to my fundamental negative muse. I am failure.

Looks like I need more therapy.

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1 Comment »

  1. Occasionally, something like this happens to me – but not as deep. I know it is not a good place tp be, so GET OUT & STAY OUT!

    Comment by memyselfandkids — July 16, 2012 @ 1:35 pm


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