I am officially 30 years old and like so many of my birthdays, I spent it a depressed anxious wreck. What can I say that I have not said so many times? I did not plan to live this long. In school, they often asked what I wanted to be when I got older. I said a Writer or a Teacher. In truth, I wanted to be dead. Dramatic perhaps, but if Depression makes you anything, it’s dramatic.
So how did I handle the crushing realization of my continued existence this year? I crawled up into a ball on my bedroom floor and sobbed like a child and perhaps because I was feeling nostalgic for high school I took a pairing knife to my forearm. I cut into myself, quickly at first but found my skin much tougher then I remember. Sawing back and forth with the knife I could barely make a mark deeper than a bad cat scratch.
That was it….that was my grand gesture of defiance to living. Nearly a ten years since I last did anything like that broken. But some childish part of me felt I needed to do something. It was unhealthy and stupid, but I suppose it was a better act than a handful of pills or walking into traffic that my young self-promised would happen by now. Still, my young self could not foresee the support I would receive from the friends and family I have now. It’s snowing outside, and it is so very beautiful.
Self Harm is a scary trait seen in people with mental illness. It’s something both hard to describe and explain to people who have never experienced it. I used to cut myself. Most often I cut my forearm with a knife used for model building. Although the scars have faded a bit over time they are still noticeable if you know where to look. I often lie about what I was using to cut myself, the rush of endorphin’s caused me to act like an addict. If i did not have a knife I would use my own fingernails. Digging into my skin like am trying to rip if off.
Why did I do it? That is a complicated question. The most simple answer would be to say it was for the chemical rush but there is more to it then that. That need to feel something, anything when your mind is going out of control…that self loathing feeling, I did not have the self value to think it was not ok to be hurt. The pain helped to focus the mind on something…anything. I haven’t self harmed in a long time…but the thoughts still occasionally cross my mind. All I can do is let the thoughts pass, and try not to dwell.
Many who suffer mental illness soon learn their greatest opponent is themselves. There is no worse bully then your own mind. Your mind attacks you constantly, always taking every opportunity to put you down. You try to fight it, but you can’t win. Every attack you try is only another attack against yourself. So we look for ways out. We hurt ourselves or seek drugs to numb the mind. When that inevitably does not work we start to question suicide.
One of the worst things to tell a suicidal person is “You will go to hell if you do.” Our lives had already become hell, we can not see anything possibly being worse than the now and then. If Hell exists it be a welcome change then the hell on earth our lives had become. If there is no hell then the void sounds just fine.
There is no escaping your mind. You can only learn to live with him. Fighting makes things worse, letting him win makes things worse. So you must compromise your life. You learn more about the foe in your head and you learn how to control and live with it. It is not a storybook ending but it is life. Take your time, learn, live.
Fear rules my life, it has been in control of me for a very long time. Fear is the reason i only take paths i know, it is the reason i don’t meet anyone. Fear has kept me locked in my room for….i cant even remember. How long have i been in this room? Hiding, crying myself to seep. I look around and see many marks of my pain. Holes in the wall, old stains of blood i don’t want to wash away. Taking action is hard, and living this long has made me tired. Its always just one more step, just one more step away. I try, i really do. My life has been a challenge, was i really supposed to live this long?
No matter how far forward i get, there are still many steps ahead of me. I don’t want to be alone anymore. How is a person who is afraid to be around other people supposed to end his loneliness? That’s a question i’ve asked myself for a very long time. I’ve moved so far forward…so very far, but there is no end is there? That’s life, its always moving forward, even as i hide, as am scared, life moves forward.
Dissociation, apathy, out of sorts, disconnected, all words used to describe the experience many depressed people feel often. I felt this way again today, i felt myself going into the motions with no real control over myself. Its like watching someone else. According to wikipedia, Dissociation is a term in psychology. describing a wide array of experiences from mild detachment from immediate surroundings to more severe detachment from physical and emotional experience.
Its a coping mechanism to deal with stress. Work has made me feel a lot of stress lately and am falling back into old habits like this. How can anything hurt you when your not even there. Some people have to drugs to enter this state, us “lucky” depressed can enter this state all on there own, the human mind is amazing in that way. I want to escape reality, am sure am not alone. I have no self esteem, and i dont deal with stress well. Its unsettleing to feel this way, but familiar. There was a time i go every day like this, just watching another person live my life till i got home and collapsed. I collapsed under the weight of my emotions coming back to me. Then i cut myself to let the emotions back out again, sometimes i cut myself to bring me back from dissociation as well.
I can understand why i get into this state, i can understand how i came to use this coping mechanism. I like to say this knowledge will help me past it. Its hard to say really, but understanding your actions and your very strange thought process and mind set goes a long way. Its the foundation to build new healthier coping mechanisms. No matter how hard i try i may likely fall back to this state from time to time. In a way, the battle with depression never ends, no matter how many years you seem to move forward.