I know that you have not been taking me seriously, so I have decided to spell it out for you. On April 30th 2017, I was in the hospital having overdosed on painkillers. I took them at around 1pm. I had not been drinking. It was logic that led me to this point. I have been feeling low for quite some time now and despite me constant cries for help, I am usually unanswered. I fight on my own. On this particular day, I did try. I told myself outside on a walk. I like to be outside and around nature to feel better. I sat in a tree and I cried and cried. I remembered everything. I remembered all the pain and the hurt. I remember every unbearable pain I have had to experience. You say I should be grateful that I am still here alive. I am grateful for a life. You have to understand though that I have come to a conclusion that I have no future. I have a long, lonely and painful existence ahead of me. I merely exist. I cannot allow people near me or into my space. I long for people and things that are just too far out of reach, because of the person that I have become. I hate myself for being this person. So after the tears would not stop, I went home and I sat in the shower. The pounding in my head was becoming unbearable. The water could not wash away the tears and the pain as it often is able to. So I got out the shower and took the pills. It was meant to be just two, the recommended amount and I would sleep of the headache and drink loads of water. However, an uncontrollable force in me took over and I swallowed the whole strip one after the other. I did not want to hurt myself and this seemed so easy and pain-free. I had not eaten and the first thing I did was go online. I wanted to know what would happen. If I would suffer greatly or die. I knew that I had essentially poisoned myself. The internet was absolutely useless in telling me what would happen so I called a helpline just to enquire about what I could expect to happen before I died. I figured with an overdose, I would have time to write letters and make peace with the goodbye. Instead the woman on the phone got an ambulance to come as close to me as possible and it arrived a few hours later. I had been sleeping and was feeling slightly dizzy and disoriented. They checked my liver and kidneys and gave me an antidote in the hospital for the toxins that were building up in an attempt to break down the pills. They told me they were trying to prevent liver failure. I was completely out of it in the hospital and after a lot of crying and protesting because I hate people touching me, I fell asleep. I screamed at the man who woke me in the night to take my blood pressure. As he was doing it, I saw two women at the end of my bed – the psychiatry team. We went to a room to talk for a while about the goings-on in my head and they let me know that I have a complex array of mental illnesses. I have been this way for quite some time now. The longer it goes on, the more I pretend, the worse it gets. I am breaking down. So whilst you may not want to admit that you have a daughter with a problem, I am here to tell you that you do. I am so ridiculously complicated that they are struggling to determine what is wrong. They have gone from thinking it is post-traumatic stress disorder to depression to psychosis to anxiety to obsessive compulsive disorder to autism spectrum disorder to borderline personality disorder to dissociation to bipolar and they still have no idea what it is. This essentially means that I have no treatment, whilst I receive no support from the people who I thought cared. It is not a joke. It is not something that is all in my head. Logically, I know that I have a great life. I know that I have something to hold onto and achieve if I could only get better. Rational thinking escapes me in these moments. It is not an act of imagination. It is real. It is terrifying. It is the darkness seeping in. Taking over. I lose all control. I have ben going to counselling for a very long time and I continue to relapse back to the darkness. This was not my first attempt at suicide. However, it was the one that got me the attention I needed from services. The attention that I have needed from the people around has not come. I have slipped away each time and continued pretending that I can live like this. The truth is, I cannot survive it not like this. If you cannot understand that I am suffered from a fatal illness, something that is going to kill me, because I will become so exhausted that I stop fighting, that is shocking to me. This is a leading killer in this world. I know that I am so damn strong because as bad as it gets inside, I am still here. I am desperate. I want all the help I can get and that in itself is remarkable. I refuse to suffer in silence anymore. I am here trying not to cause pain to others and that is the only reason I have to fight. Luckily, I have good people in my life so that is a pretty amazing reason. If medication is the answer, I will try it. If it is cognitive behavioural therapy, I will try it. Nothing is working anymore. I have stopped looking after myself and eating well and exercising. I try really hard because I know these things allow me to feel better, but I have no energy and no will anymore. So I need help, desperately. If you cannot understand that then I am shocked. I am ashamed to be your daughter, because althoguh you may be ashamed of me for being this way, your crime is far worse. It is not all in my head. It is not my fault. It is not a phase. I am not weird. I do need help. For now, that is all.
Today, my heart ached. It ached as it often does and I know always will. It ached for sisters. For women helping women. We are blessed. We are the ones more in touch with our emotions. Often more vulnerable. Often misunderstood. We are women.
I recently learnt the importance of eyes. I avoid eye contact. It turns out you really can see right through a person when you look into their eyes. The term depression eyes is accurate. The vacant stare. The hopelessness. There is nothing behind those eyes. When you recognise that in another, it feels like eyes meeting your own same expression. You relate. You ache. You cannot walk away from that. So you help. In whatever way you can. You talk. That is what I do. That is what I will always do. I will always be that safe place to fall apart. I do not judge. I listen. I feel with you. I sit with you. I put aside myself for you.
Today, I did a very me thing. Suddenly, I felt like me again doing it. I saw those eyes, that expression, that worry, that panic. I sat with it. I spoke and calmed it and read to it. I listened. I sat there being a source of what every young girl needs and I realised, this is what I do, over and over. This is my gift to this world. This is my way of saying thank you for all the lights that have appeared in my life. I have seen so many angels come and go. They inspire me. To never leave a girl alone. To talk. To support. To make her a cup of tea. To buy her chocolate. To give her my time and my attention if that is what she needs. I realise my strength and my kindness in these moments. I realise my gifts. Giving is important.
All that I need sometimes is women helping women. I need to nurture because that way we will all grow together. I choose to pick people up. I choose to walk with them. I choose to ensure people know their importance. I am the stranger that will stop for you on the street and you can come to me, anytime you need. You can cry to me. I am the one who will always pick up the phone. I do not care about sleep or who I am with or what I am doing. I care for others. I will never change that gift. It is one of my favourite things, because it is the thing keeping me alive, after all. I have received more unasked for help than you would believe.
I am angry because I have come to realise that this is not the first time I have been depressed. I do not even think that this is the lowest I have been in my life. This just happens to be the first time that I am able to put words onto my predicament. This is the first time I can speak eloquently about triggers and warning signs, coping mechanisms and low mood.
Considering all the childhood trauma, I am surprised that no one was keeping an eye on me. No one was waiting for the day that I eventually exploded. I was exposed to far too much. Unfortunately, it is far too common in modern times that so much is overlooked. You turn 18 and suddenly you are an adult with no support system, struggling. Spending everyday just surviving. Barely managing to cope and suddenly they want you to get a job and pay bills and cook and support yourself. They never prepared us for this.
I have considered the possibility that writing causes depression, but then I see what happens when I stop. There is nothing left. Just more pain. Unexpressed.
It makes me angry that 50% of all the victims of sexual violence will experience another event in their life. Why does no one tell us that? Why do they not prepare us? We already make our bomb shelters and shut off from the world and in doing that we may still get hurt, because there is some kind of appeal in that which you cannot have. It makes me angry that people think it is the same as sex. That people can honestly say discussions about it make them feel uncomfortable. Well what about the people who had to go through it, how do you think it makes them feel? It is not the same as sex. That sentence makes me hate. As much as I do not want to hate. As much as I think this world has too much hate. That sentence hurts.
The way people react to milk and honey tells me so much about them, their views on sexual abuse. It is not taboo. It is real. If we cannot discuss it then I want nothing to do with you. I have so much to say and I will not be silenced.
It makes me angry that type A people do not understand. I know they cannot relate. I know that there are more than two types of people in the world, but to simplify it, these are the ones I hate to talk to. These are the ones who tell me to pull it together and make a plan. The ones that tell me to do something with my life. The ones who do not understand survival. When you are simply surviving, success is unattainable.
I never know what to do with my anger. I sometimes let it go. I sometimes release it. Right now, I am hurting. When I am not angry, I am hurting, because everything seems unexplained. So where do you go from this? How do you move forward from anger?
I want to run away,
But the voices, they
Are in me. They will
Go with me. I can never
Escape them. I have to
End it. I cannot go on,
Not like this. This is a
Cruel existence. I will
Not survive it. Nowhere
To go. Nothing to do.
Sometimes I forget how brave I am,
I forget how much I do for others,
I keep smiling through the exhaustion
And it is exhausting. Pretending.
It is heartbreaking that the moments
Are so fleeting that they become
Unrecognisable. Unimaginable, even.
I keep going, keep pushing forward,
Figure that if I stay busy long enough,
It will not catch up to me, but it does.
It always does eventually. I am brave,
But I am broken, into so many more
Pieces than I even comprehended
When I began to pick them up, putting
Them all back together and realised
That I could not carry them on my own;
That I needed help. What a wonderful
Realisation. I think that is bravery.
Not faking it, after all these years and
Being strong enough to address your
Flaws and being willing to fix them.
That is me. Exhausted, but brave.
I nearly died. I guess it is important to say that rather than pretend it never happened. That is what I am doing. Telling no one. Carrying on as normal. Being seen to participate in the social world so that no one even questions it.
Dying did not bother me. I just sort of accepted it as a reality. I am fascinated with what it would be like. Then I read a quote: ‘Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one’s head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no tomorrow. To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace.’ I guess that it is all sort of a lie though. We do not know what it will be.
I was not bothered until I heard the words. Liver failure. Then I thought, that is what my died from. I do not want to be like him. He was a disappointment. He gave up. He left me behind. He got to escape from this hellish existence and that was not responsible. That hurt. I do not want to be that. I may feel like a disappointment now. I am ashamed. I know, however, that I am human. So I will make mistakes, but you are defined by how you overcome times like these.
So I do not tell anyone. I get help. I overcome it, anyway I know how. I do not want sympathy or pity. I want that vitality back. It will come. They can help me. That it something I am sure of. It may be unhealthy to shut off like this, to pretend, to increase the fairness. It may weigh on me, but I know that soon I will have someone to talk to and soon I will get better.
I just thought that since I have this here, I will tell it to the blank world of the internet that is my coping mechanism. That is far easier than trying to say anything out loud.
The truth is: I do not know why. I do not know why I do the things that I do. I cannot explain why I feel how I do. I am terrified. Terrified of myself. When you live a life like this, a life with no vitality…simply survival, it becomes pathetic. I have to fight with myself every day and the conflict is simply exhausting. You come out on the other side, feeling even less than when you started.
I do not know why I do it. I thought that I maybe wanted attention, but then the shame is so great that you do not even tell anyone. You just sit silently judging yourself for a long time. Even when you snap of it, you do not understand. The worst part is that you just sort of block it out, pretend none of it happened so that you can move on, move forward. There is no forward, though, not really. Where do you go from here? From nobody knowing, from all the pretending to just pretend some more. I think it is the secrets that kill me.
I was naïve. I had this image in my head that they would diagnose me as mentally ill and my mother would finally see clearly. I envisaged her taking me into her arms and telling me it was all going to be alright. I thought that she would hold me until I slept and I would finally make it through the night. I would finally feel the love that I have been craving. I feel even less than before. She will never understand. She does not care about anyone else enough to see that I am hurting. All she says it that she failed. It is all about her, again. My pain, my hurting, it gets pushed aside. I crave her love so badly. I want to be taken care of. I have lost the strength to do this on my own.
You come out the other side though and everything is much worse. You are still alone. You cannot tell anyone. Now, you have a secret. It is dirty and dangerous. You are in danger. No one to hold you. No sleep. No feelings. Just danger. You know that if nothing changes, it will happen again. You will end up back in exactly the same place.
I cannot explain the urges. I cannot explain much. I am switched off, completely shutting down. That is all that I can be sure of. There will be no human left. I am afraid. Not afraid of death. Death seems easy. I am afraid of this life, with no vitality. I am afraid, because I have given up hope. I am no longer concerned with happiness. I just want to feel alive.
Sometimes the right words help you to feel. I was pretty confused until I said the word. Wrote it down. Ashamed. Then it was like a ton of bricks. It hit me. A panic attack. Grasping for air. Fighting the voices. I could hear them all. What a failure. What a disappointment. Why can she not just get a grip? Then I was asking myself the same questions. Who am I, if I cannot make it through this? Why am I so weak, when I thought I was strong? Why can I only save myself sometimes? It made it all worse. I regretted uttering the words, because then it became real.
I thought I would learn a lesson from this. I thought if I could try to describe the good feelings with words, I could feel them. I wrote that I was unbelievably happy and excited to see my inspirational figure in the flesh. I should be. This is a true event and a very real part of my life that will happen. I still feel nothing. It is so unfair. Why can I not feel the goodness sometimes? I know I blocked out the sad, but I still get the shame. So why can I not have the excitement? It is just not there. I tried really hard. If it was me, sat there, seeing the payment go through, I would have cried. All I did was laugh at the pathetic irony of it. Something you wanted so badly finally comes and you cannot even feel. That is the worst part about all of this.
So I say, I am going to make it to 21. I say that I will hold on. I only have a few weeks to get through. A birthday. Final assignments. Seeing my inspirational figure on stage. Seeing my friends from my exchange. One last exam. My tattoo. Books to read. Lying in the park. My first festival. Parties. Midsummer celebration. My holiday. Graduation.
I say it, but it means nothing. I say it like I want to believe that I can do it. There is nothing here though. No motivation. No strength. No joy or excitement or happiness or anticipation. I do not feel a sense of achievement. I feel fear.
That is the emotion breaking through all the barriers. Fear. I wonder why. Why can I not have the joy? I am afraid. I am afraid, because I am still not working. I am still switched off. The plans, they do not matter. I still do not see to a tomorrow until I open my eyes in the morning. I still do not believe in anything. I am struggling to believe in me. I can do it. I can do all of it. None of it is that hard. I just have the voices, over and over. Telling me to end it. Telling me I am nothing. Telling me that I am burden on everyone around me. They tell me I do not belong here. I am scared of the voices. I try not to believe them, but they are so overwhelming. I spend too much time alone. So I try to drown them out, by singing as loudly as I can, but I lose my voice. Then I feel weaker than them. They are winning this battle.
So one week until 21. One week is easy. One week should be easy. Apart from the fact that I have nothing left. No emotions, no voice, no fight. So what am I supposed to do? I cannot miss out on life. I love life. I have so much to live for, so much I want to do. So why can I not do it? I want to be an adult. I want to be able to despair, without giving up. I promise to try. I promise to fight. Those are the promises that I owe myself. That is as much as I am sure of. I am fading though. Drifting, terribly. I forget the people, the places and what good there is here. That is how it overtakes me. That is why you should know that if I give up, it was never my intention. It had nothing to do with not being loved or successful or good enough. I am unbelievably blessed. I am just cursed by the voices and a pain that I cannot live through.
They will not say she was not loved. They will not say she did not live. I did it all. Now I am weak. Terribly weak. So do not judge me if I give up. It is not what I want. It is just because there is nothing left. I will hold on for as long as I can. I make promises to myself, but I cannot promise any more than doing the best that I can.
Laughing feels good, really good.
People rarely tell you that when
They talk about the suffering.
They rarely tell you that you evolve
Into this new person who learns
To recognise the good and bad.
They do not tell you that your days
Become based on calculations, risk.
They should tell you that good and
Bad are extremely fluid. They should
Say that goodness is always seeping
Through. They should tell us that
We are special, we are unique and so
Incredibly blessed, because we know
What it means to feel. We know that
Life is precious, that nature is precious,
That everything around and every
Moment is more amazing than you know
Until it is over. So I live in the moment.
I learn from the moments, my strength
Comes from every moment of my life.
You really cherish that goodness.
Those moments come and go, but
Oh when they are here, they are beyond
What you could have imagined in the
Darkness, they are beyond beautiful.
When it comes and your eyes light up,
Like it is the core of your being,
Being put back into place, you have
Returned home, you are alive again.
The whole world just begins to fall
Away as you are lifted up in an
Intense moment. It overwhelms you.
A fragile body that cannot contain
Such an emotion. How lucky to have
So much joy, so much love, so much
Happiness that you cannot contain it.
How amazing to be in a body that
Knows what to do with it and gives
You so much more joy until it is
Followed by a silent moment of peace.
The balance has come, the emotions
Are released for all the world to receive
And you are calm, you are free!
I know the power of a laugh like that.
You savour it, every single second as
It goes by and then you hold on as
Tightly as you possibly can manage,
You know that it is your weapon to fight
The pain, to keep the darkness out.
It is there, ready for the battle and you
Are armed with more strength than
You realised. You are blessed. Remember,
Not everyone can feel that. Not everyone
Has a light like that inside of them.
It is special. It is what makes me. I will
Never let the suffering define me, only
The strength. That is why I stifle the tears,
I know my body, it can cope with it,
It will choose to take another path and
Remain strong, it will choose to laugh.
I am fortunate. I am fortunate because my illness does not define me. I am fortunate because sometimes others see it before I see it myself. I am fortunate because there is so much that I can do. So I do not focus on that which I cannot do. I focus on the good all around me. I focus on those who support me, those who love me. I hear about people who struggle with loneliness. That is not me. I hear about those who get no visitors for mental illness, but I have not moved. People come to me. People always come and check up on me. People know that I am not ok and that ultimately makes me ok.
Mental illness sometimes means losing your self-awareness. This is something I have worked so hard for. I have always felt I know myself. Anxiety makes me doubt myself. Depression makes me not feel myself. Dissociation makes me not want to be myself. I hate losing my self-awareness. I like to know my triggers and act upon them. It is scary when you do not detect them. When life gets in the way. When everything becomes difficult. That is what your support system is there for. I am extremely fortunate with mine.
I have friends who come and see me and how I am doing at my lowest points. I have a sister who stays on the phone talking and reassuring until I fall asleep. I have friends who make me laugh when I want to cry. My support is invaluable to me. I have several places to turn to and go. That makes me fortunate. That is partially why I write. I want everyone to know that I am here to support them. We may be strangers, but we are all in this together.