Tag Archives: Trigger warning self-harm

Some months

April

  • Almost mid-quarter, midterm season, stress from studying and exams, and classes were harder than expected, but it should be okay, it’ll be okay
  • Promises, promises. Tears and late nights, close contact and human warmth, it had been too long, I had almost forgotten, I love you’s and things will change and it will be okay and we will make it through this I promise, promise promise promise, I will be there in the end.
  • Betrayal #2 or #3, I don’t know, I lost count, it is too many, more than I expected, more than I had ever wanted, more than I am equipped to handle, because I didn’t handle the first one or the real first one or the second one, and I never learned how to handle betrayal, because as soon as I had gathered the pieces and started gluing them back together, I was shattered again, and I don’t know how to keep going.
  • Promises were empty empty empty, you lied, you lied but you said you wouldn’t, they always say they won’t lie, they always say promises won’t be broken, but promises are always broken, why make them if you won’t keep them, gone gone gone, frantic texts and more frantic phone call, bright cellphone light under thick blanket, trembling hands and shaking legs, tears streaming down face onto pillow
  • No one to stop, no one to say no, nothing can be done, jacket on and shoes on and glasses on even fogged with tears and walking walking walking, cars are loud and fast and they are giant hunks of metal, and freeways have many cars, and brakes are only so good, and human reaction time is only so good, so close so close so close
  • But I don’t do it.

May

  • Mid-quarter, midterms, didn’t study enough but somehow pulled through, always pull through, thank you great memory, it’ll be okay
  • Let’s catch up, lunch is good, hanging out with friends is good, hi how are you how have you been, how are classes how are midterms how is the boyfriend, i miss you i missed you so much, are you still talking to them? OH you are, I hope they are doing well, not that I would know, and no, I never found out, why – did you want to tell me?
  • No no no, they don’t get to decide. Betrayal #1 or #2, I don’t know, I’m not sure how to count, they don’t get to decide what is good for me, that is not fair, I am old enough to make my own decisions, you do not get to take away my self efficacy and my self worth and my self confidence and my ability and my strength months after you broke all of those down in the first place, you do not get to break me down again and again, it is not fair, and now I will never know what I can do
  • You do not get to walk out of my life and stay in it because everyone else but everyone else went with you anyway, you do not get to do this, this is not fair, I was over it, I was done, how dare you break me again
  • Crying crying crying in restaurant in public, crying under stairwell as friend holds and shakes and begs and pleads, please do not go down that road again, but how can I not? I never left it in the first place, I was steered off, why cannot I go back down, why must I stay away from points and edges when I did it out of spite in the first place, why do I have to do anything, let life liquid run free, I don’t want it anyway because not even promises promises promises meant they wanted me, I did it yesterday because I couldn’t hold it, but friend says no more no more no more, but I want no need need need
  • But I don’t do it

June

  • School ends
  • What will summer be?
  • I cannot wait to be home

July

  • Birthday, twenty now
  • Summer still going
  • Crazy crazy crazy, stuck in this house but moving to another house
  • At least I have my dog

August

  • Just starting. Why do I remember so much and so little?
  • Summer has come and gone and is going going going gone, what have I done with time, nothing, there is so much to be done and so much time to do it, but so little is accomplished.
  • But moving and staying still and not moving at all
  • And most nights mind does not rush and race, and mind does not go deep and dark and there
  • I don’t do April or May again.
Advertisements

Death was my “friend”

If you are reading this, then I hope Death was never your friend. That was one persuasive, enabling son of a bitch.

But damn, he used to be a “friend.” He was the bad influence “friend.” He was the one who always urged me to drive a little faster down winding canyons roads and a little closer to freeway dividers, to walk on the street-side of the sidewalk, to cross at the very last second, to jay-walk, to hold my breath just a little longer underwater, to swim a little farther out into the ocean, to run down steep stairs a little too quickly, to leave my inhaler at home, to drink just a little more.

He was always there in those moments, skeletal face in the barest of glimpses of my peripheral vision, ghostly whisper in my ear. And when I listened, he was there with a bony hand on my shoulder and frosty air on my neck. And if I obeyed even further, if I grasped sharp edges and pressed them to soft skin, then his cloak of shadows would threaten to envelop me oh so softly.

Death is dangerous. He was there when I wanted him most, and he was there when I didn’t want him at all. His presence was invasive, his whispers infiltrated every nook and cranny of my mind, and I was stuck in his grasp, and his shadows hid any escape route, and all I could see was Death and every single path leading towards him. At the time, it made sense to follow those dark roads.

But once I escaped his hold, I realized how close I was to falling into his realm, how near I was to saying goodbye to Life forever. And I hadn’t even met her yet.

So I turned around and walked away, even now I can’t help but glance back and see his inviting arms, but I push onwards in search of Life and her musical laughter and bright face and shining smile and scarf made of knitted flowers and leaves.

I am always one step behind her, and Death is always one step behind me. But like you should with any toxic “friend,” I cut him out of my life and do my best not to look back.

I cannot deny that he was there in my darkest of times, but for reasons far more sinister than solace and comfort (which is what it seemed like at the time). But Death is no longer a “friend” of mine, not that he ever really was.

I said goodbye to Death, and I hope not to say hello to that bastard for a long, long time.


I want a tattoo

Stranger: “It’s your birthday? What are you wishing for?”

Me: “I don’t know. Maybe to finally get the tattoo that I want?”

Stranger: “Oh, what tattoo do you want?”

Me: “An awareness ribbon with butterfly wings.”

Stranger: “I get the awareness ribbon, but why the butterfly wings?”

Me: “Butterfly wings usually represent rebirth, new life, change, and transformation.”

Stranger: “So, let me guess, you overcame some adversity?”

Me: “Something like that hahaha.”

I laughed it off because I had no desire to explain further. I did not want to explain that the awareness ribbon I wanted to get would be half-yellow and half-orange because those are the colors of self-harm awareness and suicide prevention. I did not want to explain the butterfly wings as representative of overcoming self-harm and surviving suicide.

“Adversity”? Accurate, but my god, what an understatement. I overcame years of severe depression. I have self-harm scars and mental scars (from all the thoughts of suicide plans).

I want this tattoo to remind myself of where I’ve been and of how far I’ve come. I want the world to see that I am one of so many survivors, and you would not think it just by looking at my face. I want a permanent mark on my skin that will last long after all those self-harm scars have faded.

I want a reminder to myself that my story still has a long way to go.


Numbers

  1. It’s 1am when I tell you that I self-injure, when I tell you that I take sharp edges to my skin and etch in bright red lines up and down my legs. It’s 1:15am when I tell you that I have a butterfly drawn in in on y thigh because that’s how I remind myself that self-harm hurts me. It’s 1:30am when you ask me how many people I’ve told, and I say you’re the only one. And you thank me.
  2. It’s been two days since I’ve told you my darkest secret. It’s taken two days for it to finally sink in exactly what I’ve done. And all I can do is lie in bed and think about every word I’ve said to you. Before I know it, it’s already two hours past midnight, and I’m still crying in fear of rejection and abandonment. I send you a text about how much I regret telling you my secret, and you send two back telling me that you care about me and that you will always support me.
  3. The longest I’ve gone without self-harming this year is three months and three weeks, and I’m actually so very proud of myself. I tell you, and you look just as happy and proud. And you show me the depth of your feelings in three ways: a caring a smile, a tight hug, and a whispered “thank you.” It’s three hours later before we finally get back to studying. We were too distracted celebrating with my favorite movie and my favorite chocolate (which you bought because you knew me better than anyone else).
  4. It’s the fourth time I’ve called you in the middle of the night, but this time, it’s so much worse. Because I can’t keep going. I can’t anymore. I just can’t. I’m terrified and broken and sobbing and I’m this close to ending it all right here, right now. I can’t breathe but I’m breathing too fast, my thoughts are racing, my heart is pounding, I can’t feel my fingers or toes, my blood is ice, and my eyes are wild. But you do your best to ground me, and after of four hours, I’m okay to let go of your shirt and pick my head up from your chest.
  5. You end our friendship in five sentences. One, “I’m sorry I hurt you.” Two, “I’m sorry that all of my promises turned out to be lies.” Three, “All of this was my fault.” Four, “I’m sorry I can’t give you more closure than this.” Five, “I hope this doesn’t affect our work relationship.” Everything we’ve been through together, destroyed in five simple sentences. Five minutes later, I’m still standing in the courtyard sobbing, uncaring of all the staring strangers.

But you know, what we’ve been through can’t be reduced to simple numbers. We were more than that. We were hurt and heartbreak, love and healing, life and close brushes with death. We were life, and life can’t be reduced to numbers.

But that’s the only way I can cope. Because if I don’t trivialize it, I wouldn’t be able o stand. I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed. I wouldn’t be here.

Because I burn your things, your possessions, every bracelet or jacket that reminds me of you, but that won’t be enough. Because I know that memories don’t burn. Because I can try to walk around campus and avoid your usual haunts, but I still have to work with you, and I can’t trigger warning your very presence. Because I would have jumped on a fucking grenade for you, but now you’re the one who threw it at me and shattered me into more pieces than I can find and collect.

I’m broken and all I can do is tell myself to breathe in, hold for five seconds, breathe out, and repeat. I’m going to be okay.

Suicide did not defeat me one, two times, and neither will you.


Transcript of My Story

(If you want to see the live performance of this, please go here)

Hi everyone. I’m a university psychology major, and I’m here today to share my story of depression, self-harm, and suicide. Now, these are some pretty heavy topics, so if anyone feels that they need to leave at any time for any reason, please feel free to step out. Your well-being is far more important than anything I could say.

I’m currently in recovery from depression, and I want to share my story to show all of  you a first-person account of really serious depression. Depression is a very individual mental illness in that each person’s experience can be way off from what is typically considered “depression.” But it’s also universal because it can affect anyone at any time. Like me, I’m just your average student. I came from a supportive family, didn’t really get bullied, and I know I’m so grateful to be at this university. But demographics don’t determine depression, and neither does your personality. And people who know what I’ve gone through have told me that I always seemed so happy and chipper and outgoing, and that it seemed impossible that I could’ve experienced depression.

But I did. Behind that public facade of peppiness and cheerfulness, I was struggling with seriously heavy stuff. For me, depression hit really sudden and really hard. The beginning of January 2014, I started feeling off. Really sad and down, and I thought it was just a phase. Just a bad day, just a bad week. But then it kept going worse. It wasn’t just a bad week. It was a bad month of consistent negative mood.

And it wasn’t just feeling sad, it was not enjoying time with friends or time doing my hobbies. It was not feeling the motivation to go to class or study or do homework, and then  it was not feeling the motivation to get out of bed or eat or shower. And that sounds ridiculous right? Eat when you’re hungry, shower once a day. But it really became this inability to do all of those basic things. Because I wasn’t hungry. I didn’t think the effort of a shower was worth it. And it eventually became this fight in my head of my brain saying “Go eat, go shower. These are healthy things.” And the rest of my mind saying, “No, stay in bed.”

And then I was just so tired all the time, so I just slept. And I was still tired but I couldn’t sleep anymore. And with all of this lack of motivation turned to actual inability to take care of myself, I started feeling worse. These thoughts of “I’m stupid, useless, worthless. I can’t even do these really basic things.” And as much as I hated myself for not taking care of myself, I honestly couldn’t do it.

At this point, I realized that I needed to do something about it. Because things weren’t changing, if anything it was getting worse for me. And again, depression doesn’t take this course for everyone, but it did for me. It was worse, ad part of me had this really reasonable idea of reaching out to people and getting support from friends and family and also professional help. But even though this part of me knew how reasonable it was, it was one of the most difficult things for me to do. Because how do you tell people this giant secret that you’ve been hiding? How do you tell people that you’ve been hiding how you’re really feeling behind this mask? And at the time, I had no idea how to answer those questions. I still don’t really know how to answer those questions. Because telling people is really hard. Because you have to find someone that you trust and shatter their perception of you. And that’s essentially what I did. I was studying with my best friend one night, and then during a break in our studying, I just flat out told him that I’ve been struggling with some really dark thoughts. And he was surprised but he was also really supportive. He convinced me to check out CAPS on campus, and I got connected with some really helpful resources.

But even though I had the options of regular counseling and therapy, and even medication, the part of me that was still feeling really pessimistic about my situation turned to a much unhealthier option, which was self-harm. So at the same time I was reaching out, I was also hurting myself. I’m not going to say what it is that I did, but I will say that I have scars on my legs, and they’re still here after a year. And this is a really difficult thing for most people to grasp. Because why would I hurt myself? What’s the point? What does it help? And the simple answer to those questions is that it’s a coping mechanism, a really harmful and destructive one, but still a way to cope. And everyone who has self-harmed  has their own reasons, but for me, it was a combination of things.

It was a way to release this huge storm of emotions that was building up inside of me, it was a way to make physical and tangible all these really negative thoughts and feelings, it was a way to be able to fix at least some of the pain I was going through because I could put a band-aid on my own skin but I couldn’t put a band-aid on my heart… And it was a way to feel something, anything, because on the days when I wasn’t feeling so sad and broken, I was feeling numb, you know just nothing at all… And it was a way to ground myself, to remind myself that I was a living, breathing person who was still here. And it was a way to punish myself for being useless and worthless. So lots of really dark reasons, and I would never wish any of them on my worst enemies because it takes a toll on you. It really does. And today, even in my recovery from depression, I still struggle with self-harm.

And when I was going through all of this, I knew self-harm wasn’t really helping. It was just a way for me to get to the next day. And it wasn’t as if it was my only coping mechanism. I had a whole arsenal: counting breaths, sketching in charcoal, finger knitting bracelets (hey, I’ll make one for you if you really want one), journaling and doing spoken word, solving rubik’s cubes, holding an ice pack in my hand, drawing butterflies on my skin, and there are tons more. But even with the support system and the healthy coping and the not-so-healthy coping, it was starting to feel really pointless and hopeless, like I was never going to feel better or get better. And then, feeling like I was at the very end of my road because I was just so tired, I started thinking about suicide. And I want pause here to say that people always say that suicide is the selfish, easy way out. But it’s really not.

Because I thought about it and argued with myself over it for months. Because I knew there were people who cared about me and I wanted to stay for them. But depression makes it really hard for you to actually want them. Because you just see all this darkness around you, at the end of every pathway, and you can’t escape it. And you’re just so exhausted of fighting your own mind at every single thought, so exhausted of having to fight yourself. Because your brain is being logical and trying to tell you to keep fighting, but your mind and your depression is trying to tell you that it’s not worth it. That it’s never going to get better and fighting is pointless and useless, and life is really not worth it anyway, and everyone in your life would be better off with you.

So at this point, it just felt like suicide was my only option, my only way to finally escape from all this pain and hurt, a way to finally get some relief. And it’s not that I wanted to die, it’s just that I wanted some relief. And when I was writing my notes and making really serious plans, I always felt so guilty because I knew I would be hurting the people who loved me, but I couldn’t anymore. I just, I couldn’t.

But I didn’t. And I will be forever grateful to all the people in my life at the time who helped me make the decision not to go through with that last step of dying by suicide. Because I’m here today. I am here, standing in front of all of you, as living, breathing proof that depression is real and serious and absolutely terrifying. I am here as proof that depression is not something that you can just get over through willpower, and I am here as proof that suicide isn’t the “easy way out” that the media portrays it as.

And really, I am here as proof that it gets better. That no matter how hard it is, no matter how absolutely awful you feel, no matter how much you feel it’s not worth it, no matter how much you feel it’s useless to keep fighting, It Gets Better. I am proof that anyone can go through some really dark times and come out the other side, you know maybe scarred but still okay. Still here.

And I am still here because I realized that it’s really important to reach out, to build a good support system of people you trust and feel comfortable with, to get professional health and to not shy away from therapy, and  to maybe try medication of some type. And there’s a lot of medications that are really affordable.  Personally, I had to try a brand that was a little bit more expensive, and it was really intimidating for me. You know, I’m a college student, I’m here on scholarship, I didn’t have a job, and I just really wasn’t sure that I could afford it. But that’s where your support system comes in, and they really did help me. So again, it’s really important to reach out, and it’s really, really hard, but I did it. Somehow, I did it. And you can too. For the people in the audience right now who are struggling, you can do it. And you’re going to make it. It gets better. I promise.

And for the people in the audience who know someone is struggling, if you can do so safely and without sacrificing your own health, please stick by them. Please support them and encourage them, and please try not to get too frustrated and try to understand that this stuff is really rough on them. And I know it’s rough on you too, it’s definitely rough on the supporters, but if you can be there for them, they will be forever grateful. And really, you don’t have to do al l that much. Just be there for them. If they want company, maybe do your homework in their room? Or if you’re going to eat lunch, invite them with? Or if they’re really not okay with being social that day, shoot them a text that says that they’re going be okay and that you care for them and that you’ll leave your phone on in case they need you. It’s little things like that, just reminding them that you care and that you’re going to stick by them. And you I am forever grateful to the people who stuck by me and saw me through to where I am now.

Because where I am now, it’s better. I have scars on my legs and I can’t always tell the truth about why those scars are there… Because I wish recovery and it getting better was this upward linear trend, but it’s more like this wavy line full of ups and downs. Because there are still days where I feel like I did, and there are still days where I have to use every coping mechanism in my arsenal, but I still struggle with self-harm. And you know what, that’s okay.

Because it’s okay to struggle with depression and self-harm and suicide. Because it’s okay to reach out for help and go to therapy and take medication. Because it’s okay to experience everything that I’ve gone through. Even if it doesn’t feel okay, even if it doesn’t feel like it will ever be okay, it’s okay to struggle, and it will get better. Because it gets better. I promise, even if it takes months or years, it gets better. Thank you.


Nightmare-Dreamers

In the deepest, darkest recesses of your mind, do you have a dreamer? And I am not referring to the stereotypical dreamer, the dreamer that imagines happy futures and wonderful events and accomplished goals and an almost perfect world. No, I am talking about a nightmare-dreamer, the part of your mind that is hidden away at all times because it thinks only of nightmares, of terrible events that no one would ever wish on anyone. It is the part of your mind that wonders what it would be like to cut yourself, to have a sharp blade run across the skin of your wrist. It is the part of your mind that wonders what it would be like to starve yourself, to see your stomach concave because you can’t remember the last time you’ve eaten. It is the part of your mind that wonders what it would be like to break your knuckles and wrists from punching walls and smashing mirrors. It is the part of your mind that wonders how much it would hurt to get hit by a car (either by accident or by stepping into the street), to feel your broken body sliding across the asphalt. It is the part of your mind that wonders how terrifying your life would be if you got a fatal diagnosis of something, if you had to deal with impending death at any moment. It is the part of your mind that wonders how you would manage to drown yourself in your shower, how you would suffocate yourself in your pillow. It is the part of your mind that wonders if the feeling of flying as you jump off a building is worthy of being your last feeling ever, if the pain at impact will even register in your mind.

(It is the part of your mind that wonders what would happen if you stopped taking your asthma medication and stopped carrying your inhaler around, if it would be as bad as it was before the medication or even worse.)

It is the part of your mind that asks if anyone would care if any of those were to happen. It is the part of your mind that does not dare to hope that your loved ones will care for you if any of those were to happen. It is the part of your mind that wonders if your loved ones even love you at all (even though you know that they do).

This nightmare-dreamer is a terrifying thing. It’s not that you wish any of these on yourself or anyone else. It’s just that you wonder, in those hidden recesses of your mind. You wonder about these dark things when you lie in bed, staring at the ceiling at night. You try not to wonder too much at those times, though, because you worry you will spiral into an ever deeper part of your mind, a part that terrifies you to the point of a pounding heart and gasping breaths. No, you avoid thinking these things when you’re alone. Except that you don’t. When you have an idle moment, when you’re walking to and from somewhere, you find yourself imaging yet another terrible scenario- maybe a variation or even a continuation of an older one. And then you have to tell yourself to stop. Because you’ll be with people soon, and you can’t drift off into those dark places when you’re with people.

Except that you can. Even when you’re sitting in the same room as your loved ones, you can still clearly picture the darkness within your mind. (Even when you’re sitting next to a good friend, you can imagine showing him the still bleeding cuts on your wrists, calling her to tell her that you’ve been starving yourself and can’t stop, asking him if he has briefly considered suicide too.) And you have to wonder, is there something deeply wrong with you? Is it normal to imagine all these horrific things? It can’t be. Are you depressed then? No, that doesn’t fit. Are you crazy then? But you don’t actually do any of these things. And you haven’t experienced anything particularly traumatic, nothing that had the capability to break your mind (at least you don’t think so). So then what? Do you just continue imagining these things until they no longer worry you?

But they will always worry you. They will never stop. Maybe you need to be fixed. But how? And are you even broken? But you must be. Why else would you imagine all these things? And it’s just a spiral of questions and worries and nightmares that lead no where, and you wish you could just stop.

But that’s one of the hardest things. Stopping. You don’t know how to stop. You don’t even know how you started. Sometimes, you wish you could tell someone these things. But who? Do you tell your loved ones and have them worry about you all the time? They worry about you enough, and it’s not like you’re actually suicidal anyway. There’s no point in bothering them with even more of your problems, especially since you don’t think they could fix you even if they tried. So what do you do? What can you do? Your problem isn’t even that big. Your nightmares are not even actual issues. They exist, yes, but only in your mind. And so what if there’s darkness in your mind? There’s darkness in everyone’s mind. You just have to move past it, or at least let the light in the rest of your life push the darkness back more often.

But until the light in your life, no, until the dreamer that is in the light of your mind can conquer and squish/kill/delete the nightmare-dreamer out of existence, you’ll just have to deal with your darkness on your own. And that’s scary.

(But at least you have this blog to write on. Maybe someone out there can relate to you?)


Dark nights and Dark thoughts

Sometimes, when it’s nighttime and you have nothing to occupy your time, you get these dark thoughts. They rise from deep within your mind, unbidden, and you don’t know how to handle them. You don’t know where they’re from or how they came to being in the first place, but you know you have them and don’t know how to get rid of them. Because they shouldn’t be there. They have no reason to be there. They are too dark for you, too dark for anyone. They are unnecessary and unwanted and unneeded, and you just want them to go away. What is so terrible in your life to warrant them anyway? Nothing. You have had a good life, and you have a bright future ahead of you. You have friends and family and loved ones, and you know you’re precious to all of them. You don’t have depression or anything like that, and besides, these thoughts don’t even rise up on the days that were particularly terrible. No, they rise up when you’re even the slightest bit melancholy, and yet they don’t when you’re actually feeling terrible.  They don’t make sense, and you just want to stop thinking them. How many times do you have to wish that they’ll go away until they do?

Because you shouldn’t be wondering what it would be like to stop. To stop getting out of bed in the morning and just lie there and stare at the ceiling and wonder what you’re doing in life and cry brokenly. To stop trying so hard in school. To stop making an effort to be social all the time. To stop eating. To stop resisting. To stop everything.

And then you wonder what it would be like to start. To start letting the dark thoughts conquer you. To start acting on those thoughts. To start looking for a small silver blade that you can hide easily. To start holding that blade in your hand and testing its sharpness on your finger. To try sliding that blade across the skin of your upper thigh (where no one will ever see). To experiment with how much pressure you should apply to get the depth that you want. To start harming yourself. To start harming your loved ones around you (regardless of whether or not they know). To start doing the unthinkable. To start letting your blood flow from your skin willingly.

And then you pause because your thoughts are now too dark. How dare you think of harming yourself? You’re okay. You honestly are. You don’t need to harm yourself. You don’t need to harm those around you by harming yourself. You don’t need to scar your skin. You don’t need to do this. You are happy. You are living a happy life. You have no reason to do this. So you slowly begin to put those thoughts away. You crush them into pieces as much as you can and shove them away into a box. You lock the box and hide it as far away in your mind as possible. You know that won’t actually do anything, that those thoughts won’t just disappear.

But that’s the best that you can do, so that’s what you do. And then you hope that you won’t get these dark thoughts ever again (a futile hope, but an existent hope nonetheless). And that’s that. You stop punishing yourself (for now) and try to have more of a presence with your friends (because you’re with them right now, and just, what are you doing?).

And they are here, and you want to be with them and involved with them and as happy as them. Because they’re happy, right? And oh my goodness, so are you. So stop.

Be happy. Live.

And don’t you dare ever act on those dark thoughts. Because no one ever should. And don’t think further either. Because no one ever should. No one should ever get even a little close to dying from brokenness. And I’m not broken. I’m not.