I confess

The drugs just aren’t doing it for me,
chemical sleep has lost its appeal
and I confess, I considered tonight
that it might be easier just not to feel.

To slip away, to take a bow,
Admit defeat and fall from my grace
and would you miss me, would you notice;
how long would it take to forget my face?

You forgot me once, you can do it again,
after all, this is only a release
breaking free from the prison we built together
in the hope, of maybe, one night of peace.

I confess, this is serious,
and if I had the strength I would leave tonight
I wish I was brave, that I wouldn’t miss you
that this time I could really give up the fight.

An empty bottle in front of me,
and pills I know I’ll never take
just further proof of my personal failings
evidence of the depression I could never shake.

Another scar to my collection,
a canvas I paint to remind me of you
to prove this reality was never a nightmare
but a waking hell, which I’m still going through.

I confess, it would be so easy,
Just a slip of the hand, just one step too far
but I’m not brave, I feel too afraid
to let myself go, to reopen these scars.

Yet I fantasise of how easy it would be,
for you to live your life without me there
I confess I think of setting you free
sometimes it’s the only way that ever seems fair.

If I left today, would you notice?
Would you realise, I did this for you?
If I slipped away past an exit sign,
would you see it as failure, or something I needed to do?

I try to remember every word you ever said,
the times you loved me, the times you were sweet
I confess, I want to forget
to make this easier for me to leave.

But how can I go when you hold me like that;
when you whisper so quietly only I can hear?
I confess, you keep me from dying,
from collapsing under the weight of my fears.

(c)

“Suicide” is a word I don’t like typing. It’s such a final solution, and the word itself makes me feel uncomfortable about the actions I’ve taken in the past. I may occasionally mention my flirts with causing my own death, but I try not to go into much detail because, in truth, I’m ashamed.

I’m ashamed to know I even tried, mostly over such trivial things. New colleges and threats of break-ups. Arguments with my mother. They seem such petty reasons but back then I couldn’t judge whether an incident was serious or minor, and everything felt like a horrific attack on everything I am. The panic and psychosis (for there was psychosis; hallucinations and imagined conversations) drove me into a ball of fear and confusion and, somehow, I decided that suicide was the only logical answer to a world of horror. 

Last week, a man lay down on the train tracks between my house and Z’s, and killed himself. I heard the sirens and saw sketchy details appear on Facebook, but I still can’t let myself accept that somebody was in so much torment that they felt the only way to solve it was to climb over the barriers as traffic waited at the crossing, and wait for the train to hit; somebody just a couple of roads away from where I was sitting was going through something most people never – thankfully – have to experience.

I find myself wondering what he was like; why he felt he had to take that step, and do something so damn final. I wish I’d had the chance to know him, somehow.

Unspoken

Sitting together and so far apart,
a thousand words unsaid and truths unspoken,
I never felt more alone, more out of place,
as I do tonight,
sitting by your side.

.
A bottle in my hand and a cigarette in yours,
I open my mouth but no words will form,
it all seems so trivial when I feel this broken,
when you’re sitting so close to me,
yet not here at all.

(c)

Writing about 2008 is more difficult than I ever imagined. On one hand, I almost feel uncomfortable writing about my past relationships now that I’ve been with S for eighteen months; I know he probably wouldn’t mind, but it must be weird for him to know I’m writing about my exes. On the other hand, it’s only now that I can see just how low I sunk; I knew I was falling apart but what I didn’t realise is that I’d totally cracked long before it got to this point. I can see that now. It’s difficult to think about. I acted in ways I’m not proud of and damaged my body god knows how much with handfuls of amitriptyline, tramadol, diazepam, co-codamol, small antidepressant overdoses to get me through the night in a dazed drug-fuelled stupor instead of having to deal with the reality of everything in my life going incredibly wrong. 

O and I… we stopped speaking one day. Conversation turned to bitter arguments and shouting matches. Slammed doors and a smashed laptop. Midnight chases down the street; it was always me doing the running. I just couldn’t face any of it. 

I remember sitting on his swivel office chair, gulping from a bottle of cheap peach schnapps and watching him smoke cigarette after cigarette, sitting on his bed and brooding. He threw me out that night. 

Of course, we got back together. We did a lot of getting back together. 

In absentia

It’s a strange feeling. Sitting on the sofa, listening to 4 Non Blondes, drinking coffee, and realising I finally made it. Knowing it took what felt like forever to get here, and trying to accept that I now have my own life. My own rules. My own independence.

Neglecting my blog, and everyone involved… it hasn’t felt good. The occasional tinge of guilt sneaks up on me, knowing that so many people have supported me for over a year and are still commenting despite my absence. However, sitting in the front room and seeing my belongings mixed with S’s… I honestly never believed it would happen, and real life has to take precedence.

Yes, we moved in together. I escaped; and not only do I have freedom for the first time in years, but I also have access to my own finances for the first time in my entire life. I got the bus into town two days ago – a feat in itself, considering how long it’s been since I felt brave enough to use public transport – and checked my bank account. Seeing money in my account for the first time since receiving my stepfather’s inheritance… you don’t know how amazing it feels. Knowing that, for the first time in twenty seven years, I am entirely independent. For the first time, my life is my own and not controlled by anybody but myself.

The past couple of weeks have been an unbelievable nightmare, culminating in a full-force BPD freak-out where I cried, screamed, howled, and eventually called a taxi to take me to S’s. I couldn’t cope with anything at all, and I admit there were a couple of situations where it looked like I was going to lose it entirely. I hit myself in the face. Toyed with a razor and a pair of scissors. Pulled a chunk of hair out, just to feel anything but the horrible pain inside of total loss of control. Stopped eating entirely for a week, living on strong coffee and the last of my dope stash, codeine; anything I could get my hands on to numb the fear just for a short while.

In truth, I don’t know how I got through it all. Trying to explain just how wrong everything seemed to go…it’s impossible. You can’t put such things into words.

You see, it wasn’t just the move stressing me out – although it really didn’t help – and my habit of not being able to cope with more than one thing at once really didn’t help. Quite why I decided to stop taking my medication for a few days, I’m not sure… I should know better, and can only assume that BPD was telling me I’d be better off without them. It’s happened often in the past but I thought I was over it, and had more sense now. Obviously not.

Within two days I’d gone back to the old ways. Panic. Everything was a disaster. The world was ending. Paranoia, beyond belief. Constant – and I mean constant – tears. The need for reassurance. Grabbing onto anything to survive. Laying awake at night hearing the slight whisper of the voices creeping in. Shadows and movement just out of my vision. Feeling victimised by things which hadn’t even happened.

I don’t know how I used to live like that.

Along with everything else I was trying to deal with – the return of fibro pain from not taking Lyrica or Celebrex/Naproxen, the tendonitis getting much, much worse, my mother freaking out over every little thing connected to the move – I finally got to the Biomechanics appointment which had been moved around so many times; I thought I’d never get there. Waiting was pointless though, as nothing was achieved. In fact, I may as well have stayed at home and abandoned any hope of help.

After months of waiting, after being discharged from physio after nothing helped, all the appointment involved was being told I need to do exercises to help the pain in my ankle and foot. In other words, I waited months – and worried – simply to be told exactly what I was told at physio. Told exactly what I already knew. I tried explaining that I’d had to stop the exercises since they were so painful but was simply told to do them regardless. Then, I was referred back to physio.

What is it about me? Why does nobody take me seriously?

I pondered this for a while after the appointment. There’s no denying that I’ve been let down by the NHS a ridiculous number of times; pushed from pillar to post, sent from one specialist to another, and always been made to feel like more of a nuisance than a genuine patient.

So I sat, and thought, and came to perhaps a controversial conclusion; that my past history of mental illness is affecting my treatment. I know this sounds paranoid – and it’s understandable that perhaps the idea of doctors refusing to treat me due to mental illness is something many would pooh-pooh as ridiculous – but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made.

You see, I’ve never been able to shake the feeling that many see me as a faker. A chancer. Someone who goes to the doctors just to get attention and treatment I don’t need. Munchausen’s syndrome comes to mind.

It’s possible that some of my symptoms are psychosomatic; in fact, I know some are. Others however… you can’t fake them. It’s impossible to fake things like hair loss, swelling joints, jaundice, constant coldsores, endless urinary infections, weight loss, tendonitis, crunching knees and fingers, sciatica… all these things are real, physical symptoms, and have been proven to exist. So I can’t be faking it; doctors themselves have confirmed a myriad of symptoms and illnesses.

Yet… I’m not getting the treatment I’m entitled to.

Last week, I discovered something I’d never known, and it’s only served to confirm my suspicions. I spoke to my mother about accessing my medical records – she agrees that I’m not being treated fairly – and I found out that when I was seventeen, I was sectioned.

I never knew. Nobody told me. I assumed I was simply being ‘kept an eye on’ when I was stuck in hospital after a failed overdose, but in reality the truth was kept from me to protect me. I can understand why, but still… it’s a lot to come to terms with. I’ve always held onto the belief that no matter how crazy I’ve been, I’ve never been sectioned. Somehow that belief helped me cope. Now everything’s been turned upside down. A lot of my life has been a lie.

It’s a weird thought. I was sectioned, and never knew.

It makes me wonder what else I was never told. Just what my past involved. I know for a lot of my teens I was out of it, and couldn’t take much in except for the difficulties and problems I experienced, and I know I was often trapped in some form of psychosis; living my life in a bubble created to protect myself. There’s so much of my teens I can’t remember – medication, craziness, lack of sleep, lack of food, drugs, drink… it all blocked out memories – and it’s entirely possible that things happened I wasn’t aware of.

So much of my life has been pieced together from flashes of memory; some of which may not even be real. In truth, I don’t know half of what I’ve lived through. I just… locked it away somewhere.

They should have told me. I had a right to know.

Right now, I’m trying not to think about it too much. I have an appointment with my GP on the 9th, and I’m planning on talking about all my worries. I’m really not up to it right now – a lot needs to be done to the flat – but this needs to be sorted once and for all.

If we get through this alive, I’ll meet you next week, same place, same time.

I stayed away from sharp things. Suffered from the codeine; entirely self-inflicted, and I’ll never be proud of shoveling bright red pills down my throat until the anxiety stops. Binged on Kits Kats and plain crisps at 3am. Lay awake in bed on Wednesday night, swimming in a sea of chemical highs and sweating out every last bit of water in my body, determined to sleep but flying too high from the codeine and dope.

I don’t know how it works elsewhere, but in the UK codeine can only be bought mixed with paracetamol; 500mg per pill. More than two tablets is therefore an overdose, and I usually need eight or so to give me enough chemical serenity… and I know my liver is paying for it. My addiction… once, I thought I’d be okay, that I wasn’t like other people who had to rely on drugs to get by in life. I convinced myself that I wasn’t addicted. I could stop any time.

 

Now, the lower back pain and constant diarrhoea is telling me otherwise. The headaches and nausea and bloating… it baffles me how I can be terrified for the health of my liver, but still continue to assault it with large doses of paracetamol.

I’m not a stupid woman. For all my failings, I know I’m pretty intelligent. However, I have the ability to create my own strange logic; to remove myself from situations and become convinced I’m okay and won’t damage myself so long as I take the occasional break. And on the whole, I’ve been doing well – since deciding to give up codeine, I’ve managed months at a time without even touching the stuff. Recently though, it’s been harder to resist. The world has been heaped on my shoulders without my permission – with the tendonitis and the fraud allegation – and I’ve retreated to the old habits in order to cope.

This is what relapse feels like.

I intend to make it as short as possible, because cutting myself and overdosing instead of coping with situations isn’t emotionally or physically healthy. Thinking about purging is a dangerous road to travel down; I made myself sick a few months ago, and don’t want to get back into that habit so soon – or at all – because I’ve been doing so well. It’s one of the few things I feel I can be proud of, and I’ve let myself down far too many times in the past. Over a decade of bulimia, and I’ve almost cracked it… I don’t want to go back there; don’t want the puffy face and swollen fingers and constant taste of bile in my throat.

 

Sixteen years, in fact. Sixteen long years since I first stuck my fingers down my throat in a tiny blue cubicle, skipping a lesson so I could throw up everything I’d eaten. Sixteen years since I first realised that fat = unhappy,  and I had to do everything in my power to prevent it.

Seventeen years since I first cut myself. Since my first overdose.

The codeine? That began when my relationship with O started falling apart, six years ago. I would stay awake at night, smoking out of my bedroom window and waiting for the chemicals to kick in and squash the rising panic dead. If O didn’t call, I’d take a handful, knowing it would take away all the anxiety and paranoia that he was cheating on me. When I found out he was cheating on me, I stepped it up; packets of amitriptyline, diazepam and co-codamol, taken as and when I needed to calm down. Days and nights spent tripping on Tramadol overdoses.

I’ve had a lot of abnormal liver function tests. Still, I punish my body so my mind can feel okay.

When you’re young, you think nothing truly awful can ever happen to you. When those bad things do happen, you still think you’re invincible and no amount of abuse could ever harm you. Even years later, when the dentist points out the eroded tooth enamel… it’s not real. Bulimia, self harm, pills… they’re all an addiction, and the brain plays cruel tricks so you don’t give the bad habits up.

 

This weekend, I plan to sit down with S and tell him what’s been going on. About all the stress and bad thoughts. I’ve told him a little about the rising anxiety, but brushed it off somewhat. I don’t like talking about these things in person, and I’m always afraid he’ll find it too much to deal with.

Most people do.

 

Falling through the cracks

I was chatting to Z on Facebook earlier, and the subject of J came up. When we first moved in to the Georgian house, everything – and I mean everything – was falling apart. The walls were full of cracks and running with damp. There were no electrics and no gas, and the kitchen had wires hanging out of the walls. By the time I left six months later, there were few improvements; the house – once utterly beautiful if records about it were to be believed – was pretty much a cracked shell waiting to fall down. I messaged Z wondering if the cracked exterior wall had fallen down yet, and it got me wondering what J was up to these days.

Despite his paranoia and obsession with protecting himself from the powers that be, J’s Facebook wall is open for anyone to look at. It’s always confused me; this is the guy who bought a crossbow and ball bearings to kill anybody (“instant death with a headshot”) who was planning on breaking into the house, and who sent text messages in code in case the government read them.

His wall was no surprise. Links to petitions demanding legalisation of cannabis. Articles about Anonymous. Bad jokes and inappropriate sexual comments female friends he added purely to try to seduce.

It made me a little sad. Despite everything J put me though, J is sick. Very sick, unless his mental health’s improved since I left him. Somehow that seems unlikely. While we were together, J made no attempt to control or help his bipolar. After I’d walked out on him, we tried to stay friends. Well, I did; I was worried about him – he’d not long been released after being sectioned for months – and despite my reservations, I wanted to make sure he was okay.

 At first he really seemed to be trying. He took his medication – it was easy to tell because he put on weight and ate like a pig – and spoke to the community care woman who visited weekly. After I told him I’d started seeing S, I never heard from him again. To this day I have no idea whether he stopped talking to me because he was jealous, or because I had served my purpose.

J not only slipped through the cracks, he kept right on going to the very bottom. After multiple sectionings, arrests, psychotic episodes in public and a spell of homelessness, J is still sick. He’s forty-two now and, having been diagnosed with bipolar at twenty-six, is still just as fucked-up as when it all started.

As well as sad, it makes me angry to know that, like him, I slipped through those cracks. There were so many chances for somebody to step in and suggest that something was wrong, but nobody ever took the time, and it’s only with retrospect that I realise just how many times I was shrugged off as being “just a teenager”.

Self-harm was, I suppose, the first real indication that something wasn’t right. Unlike some, I had no desire to hide the blood or scars; they were my battle-wounds and if people didn’t like it, then tough. I did, however, hide it from my mother and she only discovered I’d been cutting myself with dismantled Bic razors when the school headmaster summoned me into his office one day and asked me about the scars.

You can always come and talk to me, at any time. But you have to realise that school is a tough place and you’re a bit of a square peg in a round hole. You need to attempt to fit in more“.

Like I was just doing it to be different.

When I was first sent to the psychiatric unit, I was labelled “completely sane”. Despite the obviously fresh cuts on my arms and habit of running straight to the toilet after meal times to throw up, the staff said I was okay. I always wondered why they didn’t see straight through me; nobody gets locked away in the crazy home unless there’s something wrong, and my habit of smiling constantly and always being polite to staff should have shone like a beacon. I was faking it all and keeping the madness locked inside so I’d be sent back home. Nobody acts that perfect unless they’re crazy and trying to get discharged.

During my second admission – a few weeks after my plot to be released worked like a charm – I eventually broke down and the staff concluded that perhaps I was a bit troubled. Still, their attentions were focused on the more severe patients – the anorexics and the violent kids – so my terror at being faced with food and the collection of  razor blades in the bedside cabinet were overlooked. When I stood and banged my head against the wall just to feel something, nobody saw. Staff left me mostly to my own devices, because I was “okay”.

At fifteen, I met the man who became my first serious boyfriend – eight years older and with Asperger’s Syndrome, he was possessive and prone to fits of temper but I worshipped him because he paid attention to me. When the police came months later, they said I didn’t have to leave if I didn’t want to. The chief told my mother that I was competent enough to make my own decisions. Legally I was still a minor, but the police ruled that I was capable of understanding the risks.

At sixteen, I was taken to the local A&E with a stomach full of paracetamol and coffee. A member of the crisis team was called in to speak to me, and I told him it was an impulsive act; just a cry for help. It wasn’t. I was allowed to go home the same day. With the second overdose at seventeen, I was kept on suicide watch for 24 hours in the local psychiatric hospital. I kicked and screamed as I was taken in. Cried the entire time. The mental health team decided I wasn’t a danger to myself and sent me home.

A few months later I ended up back in hospital after taking my entire pack of venlafaxine and a fair handful of diazepam. I had a fit in college, having woken up still alive and disappointed. Unconscious for a while, I missed any procedures which may have been done on me when I arrived. When I woke my mother was sitting on my bed, crying.

This time they didn’t want to let me go, but not because I’d taken more than enough tablets to kill an elephant. I needed all sorts of injections and IV’s. I was unable to pee and needed a catheter, which I pulled out more than once because it burned like hell. I’d done some actual damage this time, and needed medical intervention.

No psychiatrist or crisis team was called this time. The fact that I’d taken an overdose was never mentioned. I went home a few days later – earlier than my consultant would have liked – still unable to pee and with a bruised body from smacking into the floor when the fit started.

Somebody should have seen me falling.

In more ways than one.

Dear Diary – 14th/15th/16th January 2006

< 9th/10th January

< 11th/12th/13th January

Saturday 14th January 2006

When I’m alone a million fears creep in. I get insecure, anxious, panicky; but the second I’m with O, I find those fears evaporating. I almost wish they didn’t, because then I find it impossibIe to talk about my thoughts and I really need to. He goes to Hull for training on Monday and I’m worried how I’ll cope with not being able to just call him or go for a coffee together.

Every week I get nervous about going in to college on Tuesday, but the thought of going back next week makes me feel sick. I really don’t know what I’m going to do about the course; it’s looking more likely that my health – long and short term – is going to make it difficult. I’m desperate to get the anaemia sorted before it kills me; who would have thought that something so common coud feel so horrendous. I’ve lived with it for six months now and I just want to stop feeling so tired and drained. I’m 21, yet I feel like an old woman.

I think I need to write a letter to O and give it to him in person. I know that if I try to speak, it will all come out wrong. I don’t want him thinking I want us to split up or anything; that’s the last thing I want. The thing I’m trying to prevent. Perhaps I’m blowing things out of proportion anyway; it wouldn’t be the first time.

Sunday 15th January

Found it hard to get to sleep last night. The room was too hot and my legs were restless, my mind clunking along. Lay in the dark with my leg touching O’s and thought too much. As usual.

I feel guilty for staying at his every weekend; I worry I’m imposing on his family and putting them out. O says it’s fine but I’m not sure it is. I wish we had enough money to get somewhere to live, but that seems impossible. It’s embarassing, wondering if his family can hear us having sex, having to go through the living room to get to the loo, being seen with no make-up on. I suppose I don’t think enough of myself to believe I could be welcome.

Monday 16th January

Woke up thinking about college tomorrow; I’m dreading it. I’m so convinced I’ve made a mistake with my career choice*. I feel like I should go back to something academic, my brain feels useless. I’m not used to more manual thinking and it’s just not me. I worry I’ll turn out losing the things I know; I’m already having trouble remembering stuff and backing down far too easily in debates. I was devastated when my memory didn’t return after the overdose, so what if this is the same thing, happening again for a different reason?

O got to Hull okay. He had to go on his bike, which I admit I was a bit worried about but I don’t want him to lose his job. As much as I hate him working at the bike dealership (where everybody hates me) he needs to do it. Like college; I hate it but I have to do it for money in the future. It all seems to come down to money at the moment.

*hairdressing

Dear Diary – 9th/10th January, 2006

A few posts back, I wrote about finding one of my old diaries in my mother’s bedroom. Over a few days I read what I had written, and realised that although I’m still angry that she betrayed my trust after I thought we were doing well building a relationship, in a way I’m glad she kept it; I’ve learned a lot about myself through those diary entries, and I’ve decided to share some of them.

Monday 9th January, 2006.

I’ve always written a diary with the idea that maybe somebody else would read it. I think that’s why I always give up a few months in. So this diary will be written by me, for me, and nobody else.

I have been alive for 21 years and 1 month. 2006 is my 22nd year; something I’m finding hard to digest. I never thought I would see 21. It always seemed like a million years away, a goal I could never achieve, an age I didn’t want to reach. I find it hard to imagine how low I sunk through the years; the overdoses, the starving, the running away, the total disregard for myself. I never thought I’d get this far. I didn’t want to.

I’m not entirely sure how this year is going to pan out. There’s no denying it started off badly; nearly breaking up with O, the arguments, the fact that as new year arrived I was alone… I can only hope it’s not an indication that 2006 is going to be a crap year.

Met Elizabeth in town today*; we planned to see Brokeback Mountain but our cinema isn’t showing it. I can’t wait for the day I can move away from here. Sadly, since I have another two or three years left of college, it doesn’t look like it’ll be soon.

* Elizabeth and I were best friends for a number of years; we met at college and she called me her sister, said we were soulmates. Like most things in my life, I ruined the relationship (although she played a part) and we no longer speak.

Tuesday 10th January

06:56

Eventually got to bed at 2.30 last night, but didn’t get to sleep until 6. Tossed and turned for hours, opened the window, kicked the cat, put the light on, but just couldn’t sleep. Woke up half an hour later after a horrible dream and I know there’s no way I’m going to sleep after that. O is so cruel in my dreams, and I know it’s not really him but they’re so painfully realistic sometimes that I woke up fully believing he would leave me crying on the floor, that he would cut me out of his life. That’s my biggest fear.

Diary

22.55

I didn’t go into college today. Set off as normal, feeling a bit agitated after the dream, then halfway there I started shaking and feeling panicky, like I was closed in, like everyone was staring at me. Got off the bus and sat down at the bus stop and tried to call O but got no reply. Sat there for a while, getting more and more anxious, sweating, wanting to cry. Phoned college in the end and left a message; Ros will probably think I’m a crazy woman, I was stuttering and losing my train of thought. Took me forever to get hold of O and by then I was so stressed out I could only shout and rant at him for not answering earlier. Feel so guilty about it now. I know we desperetly need to talk. Otherwise, I think we might just fall apart.

Ate some soup then fell asleep when I got home. Tried speaking to O again but I can’t get the words out. I feel utterly useless today.

Depression – why it was never about sadness.

I start to think there really is no cure for depression, that happiness is an ongoing battle, and I wonder if it isn’t one I’ll have to fight for as long as I live. I wonder if it’s worth it.
Elizabeth Wurtzel

I was diagnosed with depression as a teenager. I can’t remember the exact year, or the way in which I was diagnosed. I cannot remember if it was my own doctor or a psychiatrist. I simply know that one day I was given the answer to the all-encompassing numbness and apathy I had felt for most of my life.

I was a melancholy child, prone to fits of high-anxiety and crippling shyness. Shy and often self-absorbed, I preferred playing on my own to joining the groups of screaming schoolfriends; it’s not that I didn’t want to join in, I just didn’t see a reason to. I had friends, but my habit of wandering off on my own and staring into space for hours alienated me in a way I didn’t understand until much, much later. As a child, you assume that everybody else thinks the way you do, and it’s only when you’re old enough to see outside your small world that you realise that not everybody lies awake at night wondering what it would feel like to be dead, how your funeral would pan out. Not every seven year old takes a large handful of hayfever tablets, just to see what might happen.

I have often thought that I was born depressed. Not born with depression, but naturally prone to feeling numb and unhappy with nothing in particular. Depression runs in my family, and genetically I have both a mother and father who have lived with it. Environmentally, I’ve seen family members crushed under the weight of depression throughout my life.

So, what is depression?

For me, it’s a feeling of total lack of respect, for myself and others. It’s a deep, dark numbness which can’t be alleviated by anything. It’s the inability to laugh or cry with any real emotion; it’s the total lack of emotion, the opposite of feeling. It’s a wall which comes slamming down around me, removing me from the world and trapping me behind unbreakable glass. I can see the world, I can see and hear people and conversations, but they’re blurred as though seen through frosted windows in a soundproofed room. It’s when food and drink is tasteless and unsatisfying, when music becomes an annoyance rather than a joy, it’s the need to keep my bedroom curtains closed at all times because the sun is simply too much to cope with.

Depression is the beast which makes me sleep for days on end, an unrelenting tiredness. It’s lying awake at night, counting the seconds until morning when I can tick another failed day off my ever-growing list. It’s the inability to lift a coffee cup without huge effort, the climb up the stairs which feels like a trip up Mt. Everest. It’s staring at a wall for hours, completely unaware of time passing.

I once had to fill in a form in the local out-of-hours GP clinic, after refusing to get out of bed for over three weeks. I wasn’t eating, was sleeping strange hours, and felt removed from everything around me. I started to consider just how easy it would be to overdose or simply disappear. In a rare fit of concern for myself, I decided to get medical help, if only to save my family the heartache of thinking they’d failed me.

One of the questions was, “have you felt sad or tearful for more than two weeks?”

I hadn’t. I hadn’t felt anything, anything at all. I hadn’t cried or felt sorry for myself, and I remember thinking that I would give anything to truly feel sadness. To feel something real. As a result, I was sent away with the advice to “try and take it easy for a while”. What I wanted was a referral, even a place in the local mental hospital. Anything to save me from sinking further into the dark blanket which had become my best friend and protector. I wasn’t crazy enough though, I was supposedly coping; all because I wasn’t sad.

I have attempted suicide in the past. However, it has never been when I’m depressed, because depression saps my energy and takes away the will to do anything, let alone end my own life. In a way, depression has saved me many times because although the thoughts and feelings are there, the sheer effort of peeling myself off the bed and finding tablets or a razor is just too much for my exhausted brain to contemplate. Each time I have attempted to kill myself, it’s been during a fit of anxiety, during a panic attack. When I experience those, I have boundless energy. I can cry, I can laugh, I can even run. However, depression takes away my ability to do any of those things. It removes everything I love; music, reading, gaming, writing. It puts them out of my reach and convinces me that there’s no point in even trying.

I don’t shower. I don’t brush my hair. I don’t wash my face or brush my teeth for weeks on end. I stay in my pyjamas, too lethargic to even get dressed. At my worst, I sleep with the light on. I ignore the phone and answer questions with grunts and silence.

Wikipedia describes major depressive disorder (what I suffer from) as:

A person having a major depressive episode usually exhibits a very low mood, which pervades all aspects of life, and an inability to experience pleasure in activities that were formerly enjoyed. Depressed people may be preoccupied with, or ruminate over, thoughts and feelings of worthlessness, inappropriate guilt or regret, helplessness, hopelessness, and self-hatred.[7] In severe cases, depressed people may have symptoms of psychosis. These symptoms include delusions or, less commonly, hallucinations, usually unpleasant.[8] Other symptoms of depression include poor concentration and memory (especially in those with melancholic or psychotic features),[9] withdrawal from social situations and activities, reduced sex drive, and thoughts of death or suicide.

Insomnia is common among the depressed. In the typical pattern, a person wakes very early and cannot get back to sleep,[10] but insomnia can also include difficulty falling asleep.[11] Insomnia affects at least 80% of depressed people.[11] Hypersomnia, or oversleeping, can also happen,[10] affecting 15% of depressed people.[11] Some antidepressants may also cause insomnia due to their stimulating effect.[12]

A depressed person may report multiple physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, or digestive problems; physical complaints are the most common presenting problem in developing countries, according to the World Health Organization’s criteria for depression.[13] Appetite often decreases, with resulting weight loss, although increased appetite and weight gain occasionally occur.[7] Family and friends may notice that the person’s behavior is either agitated or lethargic.[10]

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_depressive_disorder

I think that ‘low mood’ is being very generous. It’s the lowest mood it’s possible to feel. It bypasses the entire idea of mood and becomes a feeling in its own right, one which there is no word for. Psychosis is something I can relate to; I often have auditory hallucinations when severely depressed, or see shadows out of the corner of my eye. I’d be afraid if I wasn’t so incapable of reacting. Sometimes I hear whispering in my head, unclear words and mutterings which seem to come at me from every angle.

Self-hatred does feature, but usually I feel so detatched from everything that my whole sense of ‘self’ is skewed and pointless. I feel entirely unreal, like in the book Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen. In it, she describes biting her hand in an attempt to ‘feel’. To know she’s real. I relate to that. I have often bitten my own hand, or slapped my own face, or chewed the inside of my mouth until I bleed, just to reassure myself that I’m not  existing in a dream.

There is a reason why depression is called The Black Dog; it dogs you. It follows you around like a faithful companion, begging to be fed and entertained. It lies on top of you at night, crushing you under its weight and refusing to budge.

10 Day You Challenge – six places

I wasn’t quite sure how to take ‘six places’. It could be favourite places, places you’ve been.. so I’ve gone with places which mean something to me, whether positive or negative.

1. My bedroom. I have spent years in this room; living in it, sleeping in it, eating in it, crying, loving, hating in it. My walls have seen fights, heartbreak, tears, sex, drugs, breakdowns and happiness. The essence of who I am is contained in this small room; from the purple flowery duvet cover, to the Buddah. From the wicker basket of knitting yarn, to the stacks of CDs and horror films on DVD. From the pre-pubescent me, burning incense and writing bad poetry, to the present day me; still burning incense, still writing bad poetry. The carpet is stained with evidence of late-night drink and food binges and is black and grey from spilled ashtrays. My clothes, my music, my books, my knitting, my shoes, my posters… they’re in here. This one room has seen so much of my life.

2. The embankment near my house. It used to be part of the sea defences, before they were moved nearer to the coast. I live a 15-minute walk from the coastline, and you can see the beach and the lighthouses in the Irish sea from the embankment. I often go there to sit and think, to simply be alone for a short while. It’s used by dog walkers, but they tend to ignore me; I suppose they don’t often see someone just sitting there, staring at a sand dune. I’ve been going there since I was old enough to discover it, often sneaking out of the house as a young teen to watch the sun rise from behind the water treatment works. I’ve gone to sit there when my heart has been broken, when I thought I couldn’t face another day alive and breathing. I’ve gone there to escape the drama of my family. I’ve sat up there, screaming into the phone at O, begging him not to destroy me. I’ve sat there and contemplated suicide. I’ve smoked dope and stolen cigarettes up there. I’ve had sex, hidden away in the tall summer grasses which grow next to the cow field. I’ve spied on the houses of other people, watched the occupants go about their lives. I took S there, and we sat together, talking and smoking dope. We kissed. I told him how much this place means to me.

3. A local college. When my child psychiatrist failed to diagnose me with anything exciting such as schizophrenia or bipolar, he decided I had Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s taken me a long time to write about this, as it still pisses me off. At the time, Asperger’s was the diagnosis of the week; everyone had it. If you didn’t have it, you had traits of it. Now, I have nothing against anyone with AS, or any autistic disorder, so I apologise if I sound insulting. I was incensed by the diagnosis; I had hardly any traits, and those I did have could easily be accounted for by the bullying I experienced in school, my ever-loosening grip on the world, and the incredibly stifling atmosphere I grew up in. I refused to accept what I saw as a negative label; I may have problems, but I did not have a learning difficulty. I didn’t lack empathy or find patterns in things. I didn’t misunderstand sarcasm (it’s my favourite type of humour), I was terrified of numbers, and I knew exactly how to fit in with the world and society; I just didn’t want to. I was a normal, albeit fucked up teenager. Still, the diagnosis was stamped, at at the age of 17 it was decided to send me to a college for young adults with learning difficulties; everything from ADHD to Down’s Syndrome. The night before my first day, I overdosed on my antidepressants. I cried, I begged, I pleaded, but it seemed I had no choice.

The decision damaged me, without any doubt. I had nobody to talk to bar the staff, and they treated me like I was stupid. I spent my days doing very basic English skills and acting out social situations in drama with a partner who couldn’t even eat by himself. I was sexually assaulted in a hallway by another student, but it was dropped by staff because “he couldn’t help it”. He grabbed my crotch and licked my face. Still, I had to turn up.

Nowadays, I have the Asperger’s diagnosis struck off my medical records. The psychiatrist who diagnosed me was later sacked for malpractice.

4. Haydock Park. It will always hold a place in my heart for being where O proposed to me. It wasn’t the most romantic of situations (we were in a tent and had been arguing), and the relationship came to a bitter, damaged end, but at the time, I was happy. Although I look back now and realise he probably never meant to propose, and that he was always scared to tell me… at the time, it meant everything. I don’t believe in letting go of the happy times in life, no matter how much they end up hurting you in the end.

5. A local bookshop. It doesn’t just sell books, it sells crystals and comics and fossils. It’s tucked away in a little side street on the main shopping road, and I’ve been going there since I was a young child. Along the alleyway entrance there’s shelves of books; books on every topic you could imagine. Books from the 1900’s, maps, instruction manuals. Inside, it smells of old leather. Floors creak under the weight of thousands of books; from modern classics to rare first editions. You can’t touch some of them, they’re worth so much money. Leatherbound editions of Alice In Wonderland rub shoulders with pieces of meterorite and shark teeth. I love it in there.

6. I honestly can’t think of a sixth place. I’m sure one will come to me as soon as I publish this.

Trust.

  Today, I received a message on Facebook, from someone I don’t know. The quotes in bold/underlined are about me.

L: haha aww only messin calm down lad!! do u wanna know who **** an *** are! they are both COCKS!
Yesterday at 00:16 · Like

P: Hahahaha, I know :P And, yup, there not the best to...Id bang *** mind, but apart from that….hahaha. There both in **** little prick gang
Yesterday at 00:18 · Like

L: EERRRR ud bang that moshery pierced skanky slut! she is gettin slapped off me when i see her! fukin fuk wits cunts all of them!! omg i just wanna go in the forum now an start a massive argument! it was that fukin slag ***** who banned me l…
See more
Yesterday at 00:23 · Like

P: Hahahaha. I, cos I hate the tit, report **** every time he swears, or user letters to repalce, 5hit for example, and asks why he doesnt get banned. I shall mention your banning the next time :P And id take the piercings out first mind. How do you know her?
Yesterday at 00:24 · Like

L: haha i dont know her some one told me her name an i nosied on here!! fugly fukin bint!! i reported ***** twice for calling me a tw@t but nowt will get done i so wanna know who that cunt is!!!
Yesterday at 00:31 · Like

P: Is she? She had a really close up shot of her eyes as her profile pic, and im a sucker for big blue eyes. So to be honest, i only went by that pic! And yea, would love to crack that prick. But then he’s in that clique that apparently doesnt exist!
Yesterday at 09:21 · Like · 1 person

Both of these people claim to be adults, so it beggars belief that they would be so immature as to say such things on Facebook, especially since I’ve had very little to do with either of them, and in fact had left that forum a while back due to becoming upset and irrational over people’s attitudes to mental illness (in hindsight, it probably wasn’t irrational – the idea of the majority seeing those with mental illnesses as ‘scum’ is never a nice thing to hear when you’re struggling yourself).

It naturally raised issues about trust, because, in all honest truth, I don’t know who I can believe or what people have been saying about me. I’m opinionated online, true; I always have been. In real life, although I’m beginning to open up more, I’m still quite shy and insecure, and I do take it personally when somebody says something about me. So I can understand why some may feel it’s acceptable to kick out at me online, as it looks like I can take it. Of course I can’t. After reading that message, I had to call S to distract myself from self-harming. The urge to grab a knife and rip my arm apart was stronger than it’s been for years, I came so close to doing it, and that makes me angry. Angry that someone else can make me feel that way. Angry that someone would talk about me in such a public place as Facebook, when I’ve done nothing to them (and I truly know I haven’t done anything to them).

My instinct is to run from everyone. Run, and leave it all behind, so I know nobody can hurt me or talk about me. That’s classic borderline, right there, which is why I know I should ignore that instinct and just carry on as normal. It’s so difficult though; I’m heading towards a panic attack as I write, and I know I have very little in to calm me. No codeine, no weed. A little alcohol, but I’ve tried not to go down that route. I may have to tonight though, which disappoints me. I want to be stronger.

I feel so insecure. Looking back over the past few days, I’ve been quite wary without really realising it; I’ve been quietly questioning my relationship with S, wondering if he’s going to tire of me soon and leave. The more I think about it, the more rational it sounds, and I don’t want to mention those fears to him because it’s clingy behaviour,  and he deserves more than my insecure ramblings. I feel bad enough about phoning him earlier.

My own mind frightens me sometimes. An hour ago, I was standing in my bedroom, staring at the wall, thinking about overdoses. Not outright suicide, but just… really irrational thoughts. How it would feel to suddenly not be here. How easy it would be to disappear. I quickly shook myself out of it and gave myself a talking to, but why am I feeling that way over someone I don’t even know? I honestly thought I’d left that behind; the outright panic when I get upset, the sudden fear, the urge to damage myself. I thought I’d dealt with it. Obviously not.