Today, a little, brutal honesty. With myself.
Most of you, who are close friends and family, and some of you, who are on the outer banks of my circle, know that I was officially diagnosed with depression and anxiety/panic disorder a few years ago. It was something I always had, from a very young age, but something I stubbornly refused to admit to or treat. My first suicide attempt was at 14. I was in therapy for about a year after that, and then decided I was cured. Throughout my life, I have made really bad decisions; unwise and dangerous for both me and my family. I simply never felt totally “human” or deserving of anything good, or kind, or loving. I settled for crumbs when what I deserved was the whole cake. (A little bit of knowledge for you: we ALL deserve the whole cake.) A combination of shame/refusal to admit that something left me vulnerable/and social stigma left me in the darkness, unwilling to ask for help. It did not go unnoticed; I was doing self-destructive things and behaving in ways that suggested that I did not care. I was, and remain, pigheaded and the very definition of a “runner”; if you spook me when I am not ready, I’ll disappear, right down into myself. Procrastination, avoidance, building walls – that’s my coping mechanism. My family did not know how to deal with that.
My physical problems have exacerbated everything. The loss of physical strength, the pain, and being a slave to eye drops and still not seeing clearly; all of these weigh heavily on me. Not only is my brain doing me in, but my body seems to be giving up the fight, too. This only makes the mental battle seem insurmountable. It is terribly isolating and allows for self-pity. I detest self-pity in others; my own is intolerable.
Bad things have happened to me throughout my life. From a very young age, I was victimized. It left me vulnerable to those who would take advantage of my desire to simply be loved. The victimization continued, and with that, it extended onto people I love. This became unacceptable for me; the hurt I caused with my choices, the terrible things that happened, as a result, to my family, and the victims I felt I created with those decisions. I have thought about/fantasized about/actually planned my demise so many times, it actually seems almost comical to me. What to use? How to do it? When? What will cause the least fuss?
I have been at the edge for a while now. Over the past few months, I tied myself to a tree in order to be there to help the ones I love more than my own life; the collateral damage of my poor choices has left, in its wake, more damage; damage I would not have dreamed of inflicting upon them. Damage that, as someone who has divided up pieces of her figurative heart and soul and given them out, I could have never foreseen occurring.
The pain is too much to bear. The pain I would cause if I took the easy way out of this mess would be greater. I know it. I feel it. I do not wish for that. But the pull is strong, the ropes are loosening, and there is the desire for peace. Somehow, there must be peace. I’m tired; tired of the struggle. I am tired of being strong, when I don’t feel it. Tired of feigning happiness, when my well is is dry. I’m tired of myself.
I sent up a “Bat Signal”, as a friend calls it, yesterday. Know this: I don’t do that. It’s a new thing for me; something I preach to others, urge them to do. If you need me, say the word, and I will be there. Talk to me.
And yet, I have not been able to practice what I preach.
Yesterday, a wave of panic/fear/self-revulsion/hopelessness washed over me that was so strong, all I wanted was an oblivion of nothing. I could have, should have walked into the next room and curled up in my husband’s arms. The thought came to me that he had to be so fucking tired of seeing the woman who stormed the castle to to claim his love, who rebelled against anything she found intolerable, who fiercely (and falsely) asserted her independence after a marriage of chains, taken down by her own mind. He didn’t sign up for this, did he? I reacted by just sending out a meme. The response was swift. A friend reached out and talked to me. She took me out of that immediate panic, where I was frantically trying to free myself from the tree and just run the short distance to the the edge, to darkness. I was able to move then, to rationalize. I was able to get through a day not without stress and problems. Others reached out in their ways. Two friends – one of 35+ years, and one of a lot less but still a great source of strength – reached out last night and let me talk.
They don’t know it, but they all accomplished the task of retightening the knots on my ropes. They provided a respite from my own mind. They gave me a few moments of clarity and a chance to rationalize. It is so very true that we do not know what battles others are fighting. Had you seen me yesterday, buying groceries, you’d never have suspected that I was flat-out stoned from benzos and still racing away from the panic that was pulling at me. The husband is my talisman; my patronus.
He leads me around safely, not knowing just how very essential his presence is in order for me to feel safe when I am in a blind. The things I preach to you all, in my quest to destigmatize mental illness – about tolerance, realizing that the walking wounded are all around you, and putting yourself in their shoes – has yet to formally embed itself within me. The mantras I whisper internally:
You are loved
You are needed
You would hurt them if you left
Find the good every day
haven’t been quite enough lately. Blame life, blame The Fucking Menopause, blame drugs not being quite as effective. Blame, blame, blame.
But, no more.
It is time to to free myself of the chains of the past and the lodestone of guilt that draws me down into the darkness. Maybe, with the right direction, I can untie myself from this tree and move so far back away from the edge of the abyss that I won’t be able to see it anymore. I have looked out into the darkness for so long, it has become my constant; scenery that is “home”.
Thank you, A, H, and J. In the words of a great singer:
And someone saved my life tonight sugar bear
You almost had your hooks in me didn’t you dear
You nearly had me roped and tied
Sweet freedom whispered in my ear
You’re a butterfly
And butterflies are free to fly
Fly away, high away, bye bye