I had a difficult time this past week.
I went to a book-signing by an author whose blog helped me out during the recovery from my last hospitalization. It was a book about her own struggles with depression, anxiety, and various forms of the latter: dermatillomania, trichotillomania, phobias. I read most of it, and I applaud her for her candor and for her ability to find light in the darkness.
However, it was a challenge for me to relate to it in the way that I thought I would.
Perhaps, because the premise of the book is to take the depths of emotional experience that we plunge into and take advantage of the depth of the highs to make them truly high. “Furiously happy” rather than just content. And I appreciate that sentiment. When I recover from a particularly crushing depression, which can take months, the ability to enjoy life’s simple pleasures once again is astonishing. To have the energy to swim, to hike, to feel joy for other people, to not feel as if one is trudging through physical muck with every step. To jump out of bed with vigor, instead of cowering under the covers dreading the day as if it were filled with excruciating, high-stakes exams – which, really if you have anxiety is nearly every day. Like every interaction, thought, movement is really a test of profound meaning and value and you are failing miserably at every turn. Or if you are not currently failing, then you are just about to. And if anyone thinks otherwise – that you are a beautiful, capable, intelligent, competent, worthwhile person – then you are either putting on a remarkably good charade, or they are markedly bad at perception, and lack the insight to see through the facade. I actually believe this, and it has been a core belief of mine for at least the last 11 years. I know, rationally, this does not make much sense, but somewhere along the way, likely when I was being bullied at school, faltering at sports, friendless, with little support from a dysfunctional family , I began to believe that there was something deeply, deeply, wrong with me. And that is the rancid soil out of which a garden of psychiatric disorders has sprung.
Maybe I haven’t really recovered.
I asked Eric if he could change anything about me, what he would change. This was at the end of a day in which the suicidal ideation and psychotic thoughts had briefly returned, and I had to take a tranquilizer to prevent myself from doing anything. Instead of dreaming up ways of ending my life, and convincing myself that Eric found me hateful and was about to throw me out of the house, I lay on the couch in a medicated, but benign stupor. When I had gotten enough rest, and the sleep had somehow corrected the flood of neurotransmitters and glial cells in my mind, I asked him that question, in case he wanted to talk about what happened.
And he rapidly said: “self-mutilation. You’re so beautiful, it pains me to see you destroy yourself.”
Which felt, at first, like the very least of my problems.
So, I randomly pick at myself, bite my nails, chew my lips, scratch any mark on myself until it bleeds. So, I have to wear band-aids on my fingers to prevent myself from tearing off my fingernails. That seems so minor compared to the rest of the psychic distress he witnesses.
But maybe, it isn’t. Maybe the self-mutilation isn’t just about my nervous hands. Maybe he sees a beautiful, full, balanced women who is so capable of love and being loved, and who prevents herself from seeing that. Like a rose that refuses to grow, but hides under the ground. And in hiding, down safe in the dank depths, she cuts off her own petals with her thorns, and never sees the beauty that was within her. In doing so, she prevents herself from being seen. From ever being a token of love or ephemeral wonder.
I stand in my own way – I cut off my petals.
Because I hate myself.
And when I rand0mly adore myself, when I can see what he sees, my ego is so tattered and shaken, that it cannot do a thing but want to be fed.
When the feeding stops, my fragile self-concept turns on itself. It doesn’t have the strength necessary to withstand failure, rejection, stress. It just crumples.
This feels so hard. My mind has just come to some sort of conclusion that “It’s almost time. For real this time. You disgust me, and I will end you.”
“It’s almost time.”
What can I do… I can’t do this. I can’t just leave. I have to keep fucking trying. Just. Keep. Fucking. Trying.
Even if all you come up with is failure after failure. Just keep on keeping on.
Suicide is not an option. Not. An. Option. Not. An. Option. Not. An. Option.
Jesus Christ, if your therapist was reading this she’d send you to the fucking psych ward. 11th hospitalization.
We have to do something, we have to do something.
The only thing getting in the way of you is you. Do something.