Sometimes depression is referred to as an elephant in the room.  I always feel a little sad for the elephant.  I like elephants, and to associate them with depression seems unfair.  That said, I understand why people do.

Today I’m not talking about depression and I’m not talking about elephants.  I’m talking about the unspoken.  To give you a metaphoric picture of the unspoken, I’ll call it the grizzly bear in the room.  Grizzly bears are also animals I like (at a distance) but when they’re in the room you sure know they are there.  Strangely enough though, often no one else realises the grizzly bear is in my room.  No one sees it, no one expects it, it’s just this quiet, seemingly docile being in the corner that you could be mistaken for thinking it would harm a fly.  But then we all know that grizzly bears can do a whole lot of damage given half the chance.

What remains unspoken is something that most people prefer to think of in terms of fairy tales.  Most people don’t want to know the damage the unspoken has done in the past, or continues to do.  It’s easier to think of the unspoken only as far as it eats a little girl’s porridge.

We can talk about the unspoken in terms of fiction, because it’s somehow easier that way.  I wish I was a fiction writer and could do that here.  Because I know it would be easier to read, and more acceptable.  Instead it remains unspoken.  It has to.  Because experience tells me that no one wants to hear that fairy tales aren’t true.  People say they want to hear, but then change their mind, once they know.  No one wants to hear that the grizzly bear can inflict lifelong damage, that goes on day after day.

If I speak of the unspoken, then I am likely to be judged.  If I speak of the unspoken, I will become not a very nice person.  “How could she say things like that?”  “Surely that can’t be true?”  “It can’t be that bad.”  Actually the unspoken has spoken that last one to me on many a time.  And it is that bad.

Sometimes it seems that fiction is easier to read.  I can accept that.  Non-fiction can be more than we ever wanted to know.  I get that.  But while the non-fiction remains unspoken it builds in the corner, to be a bigger, uglier and more dangerous grizzly bear.  Sometimes it gets so big that the seemingly innocuous becomes just plain dangerous.

I don’t speak of the unspoken here for lots of reasons.  Out of love maybe.  Out of fear too.  I used to have one place I could speak of the unspoken, and that was with my therapist.  There, he could handle the dangerous grizzly bear for me, and keep both me and the grizzly bear safe.  Therapy ended for  a few months back (see ‘Being There’ in Psychotherapy)  It was a good move in terms of other things that were going on at the time, but right now I miss the ability to address the unspoken.  Now it’s just me and the grizzly bear, and some days that scares the hell out of me.

“All of these are layers of layers of unspoken words that we never said that we rather ignore and stay in comfortable superficial layer” 

― Vira Luna


19 thoughts on “Unspoken

  1. boombloomlyon

    I can relate to you on the “unspoken” concept. As I become more aware and understanding of my unspoken(s) I find I am losing discretion because why should we have to hide? Why are we limited to only having an outlet through our therapists? I’m standing up for my mind because I want to make people aware of the unknown. So its an uncomfortable elephant, grizzly bear, tiger, bunny whatever it may be and although its awkward for others and painful for us, it is also beautiful. Don’t forget that!

      1. theLyon

        My pleasure. I know its hard to appreciate the very thing that can also be debilitating, but you did write a very expressive, metaphoric and poetic post about it which was, in turn, beautiful!

  2. If you remember what you graciously allowed me to write on your blog, you know I know about grizzly bears. No matter how far away I get chronologically from what happened, it’s always in my mind. Whenever someone unknowingly pokes the bear, it’s horrible. It’s why I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD.

    I’m so sorry, Cate!!

  3. If you don’t mind Cate, I would like to refer to this post on my own blog later…. It really helps me to express exactly how I feel right now. I’d like to tag this post…

  4. Howisbradley

    Great post, Cate,

    I’m lucky enough that I have an environment that allowed me to come out of the mental illness closet. It was and is a freeing experience. I live in California, though, where it’s practically the law that everyone has a therapist. 🙂 I’ve lived in other states where I wouldn’t dare express what I was going through, mostly in the southern U.S. That big nasty bear laid dormant smack dab in the middle of the room.

    1. Thanks Bradley. I’m glad you are able to speak out about your mental illness. I think that it is so important to to be able to do so. In my post I wasn’t actually speaking of my mental illness, but rather something that can’t be spoken about which contributes to my illness. Hope that makes sense, and apologies for not making it clearer.

  5. Pingback: When Depression is Looming | My Travels with Depression

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  7. Cate…. I just re-read your post this morning and it is very clear to me now that you were not referring to depression – sorry for my foggy brain!

    I completely understand now. I also have that unspoken, I write about it in “A tale too tragic to tell” in the about section on my blog. I have the ability to touch on a little of my own unspoken, but fear I might never be able to reveal it all. My fear is not for my own peace of mind, but for those who might not like what they hear.

    I totally get missing the ability to address the unspoken in therapy. I imagine giving up therapy was the right decision at that time. I have been in and out of therapy for most of my life. I realise through this post, that I’ve only been able to address a little of the unspoken each time. Sometimes it gets too painful and much too complicated and it is best to take a break. Do you think you might consider a return to therapy?

    1. No need to apologise Cat. I know sometimes I have something clear in my head but it doesn’t remain so clear once it gets onto the screen. As well as that I think we read what we need to read at the time. Maybe it was a combination of both.

      As for therapy, I’m not sure what to do. Time will tell.

  8. So well written, Cate. Blogs are like that, and so is life. At least, for you and me it is. Does your current situation (assuming I still know what it is) make you want to have that place (therapy) in which you can let the unspoken out again? Don’t hesitate to ask if you want a different place to let some of that out, by the way.

    And how about this? I’m actually visiting blogs tonight, which I haven’t done in a month or more. No guarantees I’ll keep it up, but I hope to.

    1. Well I’m happy you’re visiting my blog (and of course, others) but I am sad for you that means you are back home. I’m sure though your girls are happy to have you home. 🙂

      As for therapy and my current situation (yes, it is the same) I think I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that I need some type of therapeutic input in my life right now, even if simply some overall guidance. I feel a bit like I’m swimming in a pool with the lanes, and I’m a bit all over the place. I hope that makes sense. 😉 I just need to work out what form those lanes will take and how it’s going to happen.

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