Some colleagues at work were talking about suicide. One in particular, he is very religiously driven and had loud opinions on suicide being failure a giving up.
The compassionate side of me sees his fear, in the face of despair to judge may be a sign that to contemplate that despair is just too painful.
The threatened part of me thinks that if I were to kill myself that he would just say I was a failure. It’s a kind of strong negative feedback loop. It tells me that the fact that I think about suicide on a daily basis means that I am a failure, so therefore I should just kill myself.
The fact that the threatened part of me had a longer paragraph than the compassionate is interesting. I have more fear than compassion….. I should feel more compassion for frightened me…… hmmm I’ll work on that.
End of transmission
In the last few years it could be said that I’ve ‘come to consciousness’. Meaning that I”m more self aware and that I stay in the moment, some of the time. I’d like to think it was most of the time but I know that actually I stay in the moment for fleeting moments.
But the flip side of this is the darkness. Previously I knew this as a foggy confusion. Now I see it – I name my demons. Depression, suicidal ideation, despair.
For the physicists among you, I see it as ‘intensity is conserved’. Meaning that however good I feel in one moment is matched and balanced by the darkness I may feel in another. It can taint my positive moments but doesn’t really lift my darkness.
I’m there just now. There is a recess of my consciousness knows that it is the flip side to knowing real joy. But it is so dark. My worry is that in a moment of weakness / impulsivity / despair that I’ll do something that I regret. I do want to live, but sometimes it is so hard. Like now. It’s a ‘What’s the point !’ moment. I may derive much meaning from some moments. but this particular one feels hopeless.
The isolation feels complete.
Depression – I am getting a little better at noticing the signs.
My usual routine can unfold over months or weeks and goes something like this :-
- Feel fine – slightly wired.
- Anxiety kicks in, it’s all about work – I know I’ll just try harder.
- Anxiety about everything joins the work anxieties – I keep trying harder at everything
- Cracks in my idea that I’m fine become apparent to me – I don’t feel fine, it is still all about x,y,z. It it wasn’t for those things I’d be good.
- An inkling of realisation that even if x,y,z were totally and permanently fixed that I’d still be feeling bad.
- Suddenly, I want to kill myself – now where on earth did that come from.
Just now I think I’m at about 4 or 5.
Well meaning friends making comments that use balanced argument to ‘help’ me see the world as they do.
They aren’t suicidal so their point of view must be healthier.
I’ve seen the other person’s side for most of my life. I can see that people behave in a way that was in a reaction to their own problems. But if their actions (for very good reasons I know) have had an effect on me that means that I want to kill or self harm. Then please
- don’t ask me to try and understand their side
- don’t ask me to stop seeing my hurt ‘because theirs is more understandable’
In order to stop the self destruct I need to see my side. I need to remember that from my point of view they damage me (not meaning to I know, I KNOW, I KNOW).
The desire to harm / destruct myself is an effort to validate to myself the pain that nobody else can see.
Please don’t drive me closer to it.
…. A bit of a Trigger Warning here……
I don’t condone self harm, this post is an attempt to clarify why I do it. To myself and anyone that chooses to read this.
Some films like Source Code or The Matrix play with the idea of alternative realities and asking which is ‘real’.
-Spoiler Alert – for Source Code.
The protagonist experiences life in the ‘real’ world but we discover that all is left of him is a damaged torso and a head kept alive in a box so that his brain can function. The brain is unaware of this.
So what does this have to do with self harm?
Well, I do suffer from depression, it has been quite extreme. I can see now that the darkest times have been when my experience of life has been in the ‘real’ world. Vague shadows flickering at the edges of my ‘perfect’ life.
Only in hospitalised in a psych ward did I have the realisation that my real life was the brain’s construct, that really I was damaged in many ways. That might not sound very positive – but actually, seeing myself as having been ‘damaged’ in some way explained why life felt the way it did. It explained why I felt so awful when I felt pressure to be happy.
So actually I felt permission to be sad, depressed, unhappy. I could also find some element of self love when I could see myself and my experience in the context of early trauma.
But I find it hard to hold that permission for long.
I sometimes cut myself.
In the moment that I start to cut I suddenly can see that I am that head and torso in a box, very damaged and suffering. It is clear I have reason to feel as bad as I do. I take myself seriously for that brief window of time. Ironically I feel my most sane at the moments when I am doing something so damaging to myself.
It may sound crazy and you may wonder why I can’t hold on to the ‘sane’ view of myself and know that I do feel pain, and have reason to, all the time. But the habits of a lifetime are hard to break. For the moment I have some unhealthy strategies. I have to be very pragmatic, what does less harm, self harm or suicide ?
Put like that, self harm is the least bad option.
I know now that when I have the thought, ‘it all feels so mundane’ I should be careful, there could be dangerous times ahead.
Mundane for me means ordinary, nothing special, endless. Sometimes I feel that’s what life is. The thing is I know life isn’t mundane. But today….
Today going about my work and home life I was struck by how it felt very dreary and that I don’t really choose to have more of this. The mistake I’ve made in the past is that I’ve discounted such thoughts as the idle background chatter of my head and not important. In the past I’ve then been taken by surprise by the suicidal thoughts crashing in seemingly out of the blue.
What makes life feel not mundane – connection.
Is it too much to ask for there to be someone I can connect with in life ?
It clearly is, I mean I have friends and colleagues, but the feeling of real connection is so rare. Emotional honesty, therapists and counsellors call it congruence, is the life blood that surges through the best relationships and I hanker for it like an addiction. The few places I’ve found it in my life have been rare. I wish I had a friend in my life that would understand congruence and have it as their way of being – these people are so rare, so precious.
Another factor is that I am in the process of reducing my medication. I know this is probably significant, but the side effects of what I’m on do make life harder (have been for a while now, gradualy tapering off that last 6 months or so). My choice is wade through life under the fog of medication or walk more easily through a life whose reality cuts me to shreds. I can no longer face the weight of the side effects and I’ve been on soo many different things I’m really not up for trying anything new. So I feel it should be life without meds.
But it is so hard – the reality, the mundane nature of days that stretch into the future.
So, things that make me feel better, connection and medication. But medication just slightly anaesthetises, connection heals.