Creating and loving scar tissue

So readers…. I was very affected by Michelle Weber’s post this week. Very moving, courageous and sad. It rather opened old wounds. That’s okay, I mean life is about learning to create and love scar tissue. But today for a while I need to think out loud.

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


Really – do I have to just keep going !

In response to Writing 101, Blogging U course.

Ok stream of consciousness – I’ve to write for 20 minutes then press ‘Publish’.

So it’s going to be messy, no editing, no finely honed phrases. I’ve permission to been ordered to be carefree.

The thing is this….

It’s a bit like meditation – the breathing one where you just watch yourself breathe in and out. But I start having thoughts about thoughts about thoughts, like Russian dolls. Each thought I always perceive as the outermost Russian doll only to find that actually the following thought was watching the one before.

Here I’m writing and watching myself be ‘carefree’ and by definition I’m being care -full. So I suppose it is hard to be spontaneous on demand.

Spontaneous on demand – also known as – awkward fun. Team building days when we’re asked to take certain ideas and express them however we wish, someone always jumps up and says ‘I know let’s do a dance’ and I shrivel up inside while it seems everyone else leaps to their feet and says ‘Oh yes lets’.

So maybe it’s only me that finds difficulty with spontaneous carefreeness.

I’m sure it’s not.

Really – really – do I have to just keep going…. my first spout of words is drying up. I know !  Is this the point where I come out with something really good ? Yeah right.

Looking at myself in the mirror that is facing me just now I realise that I am not ready for the outside world today. I don’t feel or look presentable.

It is interesting therefore that I however do choose to present a stream of consciousness to a potentially large number of readers. When I don’t feel I can present myself to a shop assistant to buy milk just now.

I’ve frequently pondered on the blogosphere and how it feels like a safe place. It is the place I bring my ‘stuff’. Nobody I know in the ‘real’ world reads this blog. I would change the content if they did. There is something unique about knowing that your words will be read but not knowing any of the people that read them.

I have a relationship with various bloggers, we chat, acknowledge each others’ blogs in our posts – but for all I know I have passed them in the street, neither of us would know. Much of my content is of a dark nature, I talk about depression, self harm and suicide frequently. New readers take note.

In the risk of repeating some of the content of my About page, I will try to describe why I blog.

I need somewhere to vent my stuff. I live mostly very functionally and seem well. Much of the time my head is full of loud unpleasant thoughts, so loud that I sometimes wonder how come other people can’t hear it.

The process of passing the stuff through all the filters and getting it down into writing seems to help. The added bonus that it is actually read and that I get feedback is huge. It helps me to remember who I am, and not who I present to the ‘real’ world.

So, getting to the end of my 20 minutes and desperately trying to wrap up neatly.
Messy, verbose, dark and a little meandering, in 20 minutes this is who I am.

Thank you for listening.

Darkness that feels permanent

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.

Noticing the signs

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 :-

  1. Feel fine – slightly wired.
  2. Anxiety kicks in, it’s all about work – I know I’ll just try harder.
  3. Anxiety about everything joins the work anxieties – I keep trying harder at everything
  4. 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.
  5. An inkling of realisation that even if x,y,z were totally and permanently fixed that I’d still be feeling bad.
  6. 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.

They aren’t suicidal so their point of view must be healthier

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.

SELF HARM IS SOMETIMES THE LEAST BAD OPTION

…. 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.

THE ONLY PROBLEM WITH ADVISING EXERCISE FOR DEPRESSION IS THAT YOU NEED A BIT OF ENERGY TO GET GOING AT ALL

The only problem with advising exercise for depression is that you need a bit of energy to get going at all. Even then, at my lowest when I’ve dragged myself out for long long walks in the past it just made me physically tired, didn’t lift my spirits at all and I didn’t help me sleep.

I’ve taken up Karate. I’m hoping some anger can go into a controlled place rather than self harm, or self destruct.

This evening as I faced a huge guy built like a mountain and holding massive padding I was encouraged to punch and kick…. very cathartic.

But sometimes the extra energy just powers the violence towards myself. The high from the exercise is followed by an equal and intense low full of suicidal thoughts fuelled by a real drive to follow through.

So like anything, it is not a simple cure all.

MY DOORS

Quote

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Just a Dream.”

You’re having a nightmare, and have to choose between three doors. Pick one, and tell us about what you find on the other side.

Trigger warning  – mention of suicide

This happened. I had to make a choice to leave a life that frightened me, I was awake it was real.

It had come to the point that my ‘perfect’ life was driving me to suicide. I didn’t know it for a while I just kept trying harder at the perfection.

Doors were the possibility making big scary life changes. How come I never saw those doors before?

I found myself in a psych ward.
Safety.

I owned my own life and at last I saw the doors.
It was suddenly so clear. Make a choice – go through.
Choose a door.
Any door.
They were all my doors and I got to choose. They would all take me away from the nightmare.

Safe on the other side I can now see the nightmare I had left.
Good job it’s a strong safe door.

Heading for a rocky patch

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.

Asking for help

I met up with a friend this morning and we discussed how to access various forms of support. There are some counselling services made available by employers and provide a 24/7 helpline. My friend phoned one and they didn’t even pick up. When chased up on it they promised to phone back but didn’t. So, my friend went to see her doctor, who wasn’t blessed with the best listening skills. She was let down by support services.. badly.

The problem is that when people need help, by the very nature of needing help are not in a position to look after themselves. When I know what exactly is wrong, what is the cause of the problem and what I need……AND can say all that out loud to a stranger – well by then I’m starting to recover. Why is that so hard to answer such simple questions.

What is wrong
Knowing and naming my demons, is so hard. Much of the time I think it is ‘low level’ depression. But is there such a thing ? It bubbles away at the back of my mind but can turn in a flash to really high level darkness. I think that when it feels low level, actually I’m just not owning it. Then I suddenly completely see it for what it is, full blown terror/ anger/ self-destruct button pulsating red. Most of my most dangerous times (life threatening) have been when I don’t own the darkness, then can’t quite understand how I found myself on the brink of self harm / suicide. So when I’m asked what is wrong, when I’m in a denial place, the dangerous place, I can’t yet see it and give a useful answer.

What is the cause of the problem
In my head when in a crisis the cause of the problem might seem very clear, but with the passage of time it can look very different. I tend to mumble apologetic causes and feel they aren’t good enough to justify feeling the way I do.

What do you need
Would a doctor expect a patient to know what the exact surgery/ antibiotic / therapy was the best for themselves….. so how can I be expected to know when I’m in crisis ?

Conclusion – when I call for help – I need to be helped to ask for help.