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
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.
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.