|>||Content warning: frank discussion of suicidal ideation||<|
This week has been the most trying week that I’ve had in a while. And that’s saying something. I’ve had a metric ton of Weeks-from-Hell in my life, and though this hasn’t been the worst, it’s pretty damn close.
Sunday night, my anxiety kicked into high gear. I was taking the absolute most Ativan possible because even that didn’t feel like enough. I was afraid of everything and afraid of nothing. Anything that could (or couldn’t) happen flashed through my mind and every thought was worse than the last. I had suicidal thoughts even though it’s been months since they were last around.
I fought urges to down all the pills I had and follow it up with the bottle of wine I knew was downstairs. The first thing to give me pause? I didn’t think I had enough Ativan. The second? I don’t want to die… I never really have. I just want it to be over. I’m tired of feeling this way, of waking up in the morning knowing every small move I make that day is going to take ten times the effort it used to.
I’m tired of not working. Tired of not sleeping. Tired of my body. Tired of my brain. Tired of having to try so damn hard.
My thoughts can spiral so easily and quickly down the never-ending path that depression and anxiety lead me down. Trying to stop it feels like screaming at a train barrelling towards you — fat chance it’ll work. Thankfully Ativan and eventual sleep started to help slow it down. And I was able to focus on what started it…
I got an uninvited and unwanted message from my past.
A message that wasn’t rude on its face, but poked at wounds that haven’t healed, and reminded me exactly where those wounds are. It sent my thoughts back to my past and I literally lost my mind.
The message looked almost kind, but had the history and subtext that made it dismissive and cavalier instead. The worst part about this message was trying to explain why it was so painful; to others, it looked sweet.
But I’ve been fooled before. And I’ve spent the last five years fortifying myself against the exact things that tore me down five years ago.
There are some questions that you get asked all the time when you’re being treated for mental health. Every new doctor or therapist has the same set of questions that they seemingly don’t trust anyone else to ask right.
What do mean when you say you’re depressed?
Are you struggling with your sexuality?
Have you ever been abused or assaulted? Experienced any trauma?
These questions seem to annoy me more and more every time they’re asked, but I always answer them the same way.
Standard stuff. Low mood, motivation, fatigue…
No, no acute trauma.
And I swear, I don’t think anybody’s ever followed up on that last answer. Of course, a year ago, I wouldn’t have even given them that, it would’ve just been a straight ‘no trauma.’ As I go on in my recovery, I’m getting more comfortable giving myself labels and descriptors that I’ve been avoiding. I haven’t necessarily avoided them because I didn’t think they applied, but more because I didn’t think they applied ‘enough’.
Yeah, I’m lucky enough to not have had any capital-T, acute trauma, but the reality is that a childhood full of experiences has left me scarred.
Last week, I mentioned two of my core beliefs that really get in my way the most.
People can’t be trusted.
People will hurt me if I give them the chance.
Those beliefs didn’t come around without reason, they came from a pattern in my life that’s hard to ignore.
I’ve often heard that the best indicator of future behaviour is past behaviour. So, if all the evidence I have is that people are shitty, how can I be faulted if that’s what I expect from them?
If I spent years forcing myself to act as though they weren’t going to hurt me this time and I should open myself up to them and I was wrong every time, why should I continue to leave myself open to it?
From as far back as I can remember, my relationships have gone through the same cycle: acceptance, indifference, abuse, rejection.
Simple enough. I meet new people or get closer to new people, usually requiring a lot of lobbying and effort on my part. Molding myself slightly to fit the group best, to convince them I’m worth the trouble.
After a year, or a couple years, or sometimes mere months, they grow indifferent to me. Not looking out for my best interests or feelings, accompanied with subtle jabs at me. Leaving me out, poking at my insecurities, what have you.
The subtlety turns obvious and without the self-esteem to stand up for myself, I take it for as long as I can. Some of my clearest memories from elementary school were hiding in the corner of the field during recess, crying to myself. My trust in them is turned against me when they play up on my insecurities. From my personality, to romance, to my sexuality, my family, my abilities, whatever they could grab.
Friendship over. Whether it’s forcefully ‘drifting apart’ or a real explosion, the relationship I invested in disappears.
The message I got this week was from the friend I lost the last time I let it happen, five years ago. In my final year of high school, a relatively small disagreement turned into a terribly archetypal high school girl war. I had finally developed a little self-esteem and I wasn’t standing for it, but I also made an effort not to sink too low.
I received horribly abusive text messages, had rumours getting back to me, and the friendships I had thought would last me decades imploded. At the centre, was one girl. My very best friend was suddenly a complete stranger, hurling abuse at me in ways I never would’ve thought possible. Some days I really wish that I still had the blackberry with those saved messages…
Over time, I learned that this wasn’t a new side of her, just one that she had hidden from me. I found comfort in a new friend that had faced her abuse before but I couldn’t trust my judgement anymore. I started building walls.
The first hint of any trouble in any relationship and my instinct is to fly. I don’t let people in as deep and I avoid leaving myself vulnerable. I try my best to stay uninvested while I wait for the other shoe to drop — I know they’re hiding it from me, and they’ll try and get me any day now.
My deepest, scariest thoughts don’t see the light of day and I don’t ever admit how broken or hurt I am. That information can and will be turned against me.
So, I’m alone. I can’t, and I won’t, trust anybody again. It’s just too risky. Because apparently, even five years down the road, they’ll pop back in just to tear the stitches out.
And it just might break me again.
I hate how much her message affected me, how much it threw me into a tailspin and fogged my brain. I hate that it feels like she has some power over me that will never go away. I hate that everyone who’s screwed me over has left me so damaged that I struggle to build any sort of new relationship. And I hate that they gave me the proof my brain needs to try and keep me closed off.
I want to change my beliefs. I want to be able to trust people, but I need someone to prove to me that I should, and I just don’t have enough of those people yet.
There are two people in my life that I call my friends. And I really do cherish them. And I fight hard against my instincts, even if it doesn’t always work.
Because it’s tough to be friends with me. It’s tough to be friends with someone who is always assuming the worst of you (and the world). And it kind of sucks to be that person too. Because I’m just sitting around hoping that someone will want to put the hard work into trying to prove me wrong.
My past is complicated and it’s made me a complicated person. And though complicated is interesting, it’s not always better…
What about you, does your past ever get in the way of your recovery?