Are cucumbers cool?

I have perfected the art of looking fine and feeling like absolute rubbish. I am a smiley, bubbly person, I make lots of eye contact, listen, ask questions, make jokes, appear as cool and calm as a cucumber (are cucumbers cool? – maybe they are just pretending like me).

Yesterday I had a work meeting and spent the entire hour smiling, laughing, feigning confidence, offering to do whatever work was needed and more. At times I thought to myself “who are you?!” I left the meeting and got into the lift almost in tears. I reached the ground floor, went into the toilet, entered a cubicle, crouched on the floor, cried, and self-injured. I felt absolutely rubbish. If my boss could see the sorry state I was in she would wonder what happened on the journey from sitting in her office to entering the toilet. What did happen? Absolutely nothing apart from the ‘front’ crumbled and was left at the entrance to her office.

I want to feel like the confident woman I pretend to be. My confident persona is much better than I am. I spend my life at home, often in bed, often fighting suicidal thoughts, climbing the walls inside my own head. I stare into space, achieving nothing as the hours slip by. Who am I? And what am I doing here?

‘Confident me’ wants to do all sorts: PhD research, public speaking, charity work, art, music, reading, writing. ‘Real me’ wants to self-injure, curl up into a ball, and sleep forever. How on Earth do I bring those two very different personas closer together? I’ve  been feeling like this for years and it only gets worse. I spend so much of my life in the sorry state and only have the confident edge when I am at a meeting (maybe 1-2 hours per week). I’m at a loss of what to do.

 

Pretend happy Demeanor

“Cheer up! It may never happen”

I was sitting on a bench in a supermarket waiting for my partner to go through the checkout. I was staring into space and a chap said the above quote. I gave him a smile and laugh, waited for him to be out of eyeshot and continued my staring. I feel crap for numerous reasons and sometimes I don’t have the energy to smile whilst staring into space. I have recently had a multiple sclerosis relapse, my blood sugars are up and down, and I am battling a way to recover from years of emotional trauma. Perhaps it feels like ‘it already has happened’.

I look back at things I wrote 8 years ago and it feels like I could have written it yesterday. Where has my life gone? Why is everything as messed up as it was back then? I am a problem solver and like to find ways to get through…but I feel completely trapped in my situation and I cannot find any solutions.

Where are my tears? I never cry but I wish I could. The distance between the person I am during meetings and the person I am in the rest of the 95% of my life are so different. I’m taking ‘faking it’ to a whole new extreme.

If I were to be a ‘fly on the wall’ and watch myself in those meetings, I would think ‘this woman has a good outlook, she’s very resilient, and somehow seems to find a way to keep going. How does she do it?’ I imagine a lot of us have a certain facade we wear to get through the day. When asked ‘how are you?’, we often say/lie ‘good thank you!’ I wouldn’t necessarily want that to change in my life. I am quite content with going to meetings appearing together. However what I want is to feel more like that resilient woman who seems fine. Or even if I don’t quite reach that stage it would be better if I was half way there, or even a quarter. How do I get there?

 

Does anyone have Bernard’s Watch?

I don’t know what it would look like if my psychological distress showed itself physically. It’s 12:35pm and I’m back in bed after being up for four hours, achieving nothing and feeling like rubbish. I have no idea how to make myself feel any better. F*ck it, I can’t even be bothered to write this blog.

I wrote that 5 hours ago. What have I achieved in that time? Absolutely nothing. I have laid in bed, wrote a few depressing paragraphs in my notebook and battled with endless urges to hurt myself. I feel so broken and I am not sure there are sufficient words to describe it.

Do any 90s kids remember Bernard’s Watch? Oh how I wish I had one. Bernard’s fancy pocket watch would stop time so that he could do things whilst the world was paused. Then he would be able to continue time. What would I do if I had this tech? I envisage spending months recovering from all the hell of the past 10 years. I would take my time and do the things that I wanted to. I would read the books I want to read, visit places I want to see, write a novel, become a yoga expert, meditate, all whilst time was frozen. I would have no work commitments, no PhD deadlines, or medical appointments to attend. My energy would 100% be invested in finding a way forward.

Alas, B’s watch is not available to me or anyone (unless you know something I don’t). So with time passing by how can I focus on myself with so many other things to think about? I don’t have the time to be feeling this crap. I have spent 9 hours today battling the monsters in my mind and feeling frustrated by physical symptoms. On the outside I must look like a lazy de-motivated woman. On the inside I’m an extremely distressed woman desperately trying to hold on each and every day.

I know there is no quick solution, no magic wand, no magic pocket watch. This is it. I only have this day, this moment, this breath. Although I remind myself of this every day I cannot stop the past from strangling me and chaining me to the floor. Making it impossible to get up, move forward, or live.

If anyone has a solution or owns their own Bernard’s Watch please do share. I would be forever grateful.

Pause her Death

What does it feel like to have suicidal thoughts? The answer will be different depending on who you ask, when, where, and why. For me, it feels like a whole-body emotional burn. Let me try to explain…

I imagine most of us have had an accidental-kitchen-related-burn, whether it be a hot saucepan or a toaster incident. Let’s imagine we’ve accidentally burnt our hand, you feel the initial sharp pain and then spend the whole day being aware of the sore wound. People may tell you to ‘rest’ your hand and you may do that but you can still feel the pain. Others may tell you to try and ‘distract yourself’, so you try to read/watch TV but you can still feel the burning pain. You are aware of the discomfort no matter what you do, where you go, or how hard you try. There is no escaping it.

This is similar to living with the suicidal demons inside my head. No matter what I do, where I go, or how hard I try. There is no escaping them. They are insufferable little *****. They aren’t even small, they are enormous and suffocate my mind. Sometimes I will spend the entire day in bed feeling unable to move. Not because I physically can’t, but because psychologically and emotionally I feel beaten to my core.

Sometimes I can see the reason why I feel so low and I can find something to help but other times I feel like my emotions have gone too far. It’s like I’m on a bus and I was planning to get off at Stop 1 but now I’m at Stop 8, completely lost, and Without a Map.

I can be at Stop 8 for hours, days, or weeks. Time feels meaningless. Each moment can feel like an eternity.

The past few years have been horrendous. I keep landing at Stop 8 thinking ‘why am I here again? How did I get here? I just want this to end’. But I hold on.

One of the main things that helps me is the concept of ‘change’. No two moments are the same. They may feel similar but they can never be 100% the same. If I spoke to 8-year-old me I would never have been able to outline what would happen through the years. I could have tried to guess but that would have been all it was, a guess. Similarly, I cannot predict what will happen in the next 5 years. Things may get worse, but they also could get better. That horrendous kitchen burn could heal and be a memory rather than an present day agony.

At the moment it feels like it is taking ages to heal and, unlike having a kitchen accident, I don’t really know what I’m healing from. Too many things. Patience is difficult because it implies you are waiting for something, but I don’t know what I’m waiting for. I want to feel better but I don’t know how or what that would look like. Sometimes the best survival tool for me is living moment-by-moment. I try not to think about the uncertain future or trauma from the past. I focus on now and getting through this moment, this moment, this moment. Breaking it down like this helps life feel slightly more manageable. I am not trying to solve all my problems, I am simply trying to be. Right now, at Stop 8. I don’t have the energy to wonder why the bus driver kicked me off at this hell hole, or who the bus driver is, or how long it will rain for, or why my glasses are covered in so much crap. It takes all my energy to place one foot in front of the other in a direction I chose to go. And step-by-step, breath-by-breath, I seem to be moving towards a less hostile environment.

 

Note. If you need someone to talk to the Samaritans is a free, 24-hour, safe, and non-judgemental service. You can call, email, or visit a local branch. More info here