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Shutdowns…

December 11, 2021

Decades ago, during my first marriage, I used to shut down every day after my husband would leave for work and my son for school. I slid down against the cabinets in the kitchen where they met. My back would be leaning into the corner and I would just shut down.

I used to try and push through and be productive, but I found I was pretty useless. I would feel emotionally and mentally drained and as if I was physically slowed down. I could not think or really do anything well until I gave up and shut down. Once I shut down and came out of it, I would be fine and able to be productive and full of energy.

What does a shutdown look and feel like? The first thing I experience is the need to shut my eyes. I can hear just fine, but I am blocking my vision. In my mind, I am pulling inside of myself, yet I am not really going anywhere. I am very present and aware of my surroundings. I am not in Haven. It is as if I am just “being”, but taking a break from the world. Iam not thinking about anything. Trying to pull out of it before I was ready was difficult and pointless, but if the phone rang, I could handle it.

I was always alone during these shutdowns and never allowed them to happen in front of anyone else. Until…I did it one time in front of a therapist. It just happened.She just waited it out and then asked me where I went. I told her I did not know because I remained aware of my surroudings the whole time. That was decades ago.

In the last few months, I have felt an increased need to shut down, but did not do it. Until…this week. I was in my therapist’s office and we were starting to explore what might be behind my over eating and I just shut down.

My therapist did not know what was going on and tried to talk to me. I ignored her. I hated to do that because I did not want her to be concerned, but it can be hard to pull out enough to speak. When she called my name sharply, I just shook my head briefly to let her know I heard her and to reassure her I was OK. She got the message and just waited.

I felt pressure to push myself out of it, especially since it was not how I wanted to spend my appointment time. I did push out earlier than I really wanted and it was challenging. I tried to explain what happened.

I started to feel some anger, but could not place the source or reason, although I am sure it is connected to the trauma being reflected in my eating. I certainly have reason enough to be angry.

So that is what a shutdown looks like…or at least, the best I can explain it.

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