Are you going to kill yourself?

I recently met with the most helpful, encouraging mental health worker that I have experienced so far. He approached mental health in the way a doctor would approach any other health complaint, he requested the symptoms and largely left sympathy out of it; he was not delicate with his words and he asked the questions he needed answers to. I’d answered all but two before, but those two have been resonating through my head for the past week and one of them is the title of this piece. 

It’s a question I had never prepared for because it is a sentence that is not used. I’ve been asked if I was suicidal, I’ve been asked if I ever made plans, but it had never even occurred to me that someone might ask directly if I were going to kill myself. I said “no” mostly out of shock and to make the question go away, but also out of hope that I would believe it. Declining felt like a huge commitment though; in the mindset of that day I did not feel as though I was out to end it all, but my mindset is never, ever exactly the same on any two days and it is a topic I do find myself considering frequently.

I did have a plan once.

I set a date and wrote a letter said goodbye to people (I rarely used to say goodbye to anyone at all, it always felt so final) and the feeling of relief in the week leading up to that date was incredible. I felt lighter and lighter each day at the thought of leaving my mind forever. I was smiling more than I had for a long, long time. But then the date came around and my mum decided we were going out that evening and so it didn’t happen. And for that night I rather enjoyed being alive. So I stuck around.

Thinking about that part of my life is what keeps me here now, even on my darkest, gloomiest days, because there are so many times I have been thankful that we went out that day, so many times I have realised that life gets better. However pointless or painful this life can seem, the promise of a day of sunshine every now and then makes all the rain tolerable.

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Know your quirks.

Everyone is unique in the way their brains work. Everyone has different aspects of their personality that they have to learn to work around and everyone approaches this task is a different way, and everyone takes different amounts of time to figure out which parts of themselves they have to keep an eye on.

I am not allowed to make decisions of any magnitude in September or October. As a teenager this was the time of year I would develop my new annual infatuations. At seventeen I was desperate to leave school in favour of bumming around doing sod all. At eighteen I was determined I would not go to Uni because I was rejected by my first choice institution. At nineteen I was too stressed to think, so I beat myself up and (sometimes literally) and convinced myself I was being used to get back at someone. At twenty I decided to spend almost all my money on tights,and then decided I needed hamsters. And most recently at twenty-one I decided that I needed to run away from a new life because my mum’s house is safer.

I warn the people around me when that season comes around, but every decision I make is more genius than the last and I somehow feel that each one is an exception to the “no decisions” rule and that I should go through with it.

You never know, I might actually listen to me next year…

Why I hate smalltalk.

“What do you do?” is a question I dread.

I do nothing. There you go, you can judge me now. I do nothing. And I am in no particular hurry to change that.

When I get asked what I do or what my plans for the future are, I can decide how I am judged out of two options; lazy or crazy. I can tell people I do nothing and leave it at that (lazy) or I can explain why I do nothing (crazy). I despise the thought of people considering me to be lazy, but I do not go around flaunting the strange ways in which my brain interprets the world. Even some people who know my circumstances think I am just being lazy.

Mental health conditions are trivialised to the extent that the advice I often receive is essentially to shut up with my excuses and do something. They speak as if getting a job would magically make everything better. It will give my life meaning and the depression will go away. It will give me something else to think about so the anxiety will go away. I am completely, totally unconvinced. I am looking for work, yes. But I do not at all feel it will be a magical cure to every problem I have ever had and, contrary to making my imagination calm down, I am rather worried that working might add more things to worry about to my ever-increasing collection.

Whilst writing this I opened a cupboard to get something out, a lipstick tube fell out on me, and now the world is spinning faster, my breathing is irregular and shallow, and I am starting to shiver.

I wish I could make people feel what I feel, think what I think, for even a minute before they ask those questions.

Aside

The man inside my head

There is someone living inside my head. For a while I believed for a while that it was my mum’s voice booming out from the depths of my mind – and I think it still is sometimes – but for the most part it is a little man who is very hyperbolic and very dramatic, and very loud. When I do things he doesn’t approve of then he informs me of his displeasure very quickly by shouting threats or just starting to scream. And I do mean scream. Sometimes when I am in a busy place with lots of people, the little man in my head begins to scream at full volume and it fills my head. And then all the noises around me become amplified and everything moves faster and this little man is sat in the back of my head grabbing at handfuls of nerves and messing with my senses and all I can do is run away from the situation and wait until it stops.

Even as I write this, the little man is sat in a darkened corner in an armchair muttering away to himself, occasionally shouting a word or two to remind me he is in there and I am not going to get away with anything tonight.

I used to go to a climbing centre every week. Then my brain decided to kick off and I was very ill for a very long time so I couldn’t go for a while, and then when I tried again a few months ago the little man screamed and screamed until he lost his voice (and took mine, too) and then he curled up into the foetal position and rocked gently back and forth for a few hours, whimpering softly. The little man gave berating me up as a lost cause for the evening, so I was pretty much free of him for a while, and I took full advantage of this. All he had done was take my voice, and I didn’t need that to climb a wall, so climb a wall is exactly what I did.

It was the first time I had properly managed to override the little man since he first appeared. I have done so again since, but it takes a lot of energy and I don’t particularly enjoy the aftermath once the adrenaline kicks in. But progress is progress!