Friday, 1 March 2019

Self Harm Awareness Day - A Snippet from 21

In light of Self Harm Awareness Day I thought I would share a chapter from my book... I hope you enjoy and know that you are never alone.

Chapter 11: The Reality of Recovery

Dear Diary,

I really thought that last year’s depression was far behind me. But, this year, it seems to be in full force. Since coming back from holiday, I am certainly suffering from the dreaded post-holiday blues. Coming back to the real world sucks.

I am ready to tell you what happened on that fateful evening, dear diary. You know, when my friend gave me the harsh truth I couldn’t bear to stomach? It is time for me to be honest. Whether I like it or not, I have to take ownership of my mistakes.

It sounds strange, but I just needed some time to ‘recover’ from my recovery. A few weeks in bed seemed to be the only solution. But, I know to keep that terrible night a secret will only continue to wreak havoc on my already cluttered mind.

Sadness is an emotional release. When you feel sad, you let it all out -  you are feeling something. Depression is a loss of emotion - it’s the one thing that's supposed to make us human. Emotion. Nothing feels like it has a purpose anymore and you become numb. Not sad, but empty.

Before that moment, no thoughts of suicide or even harming myself had ever crossed my mind. I knew I had issues. I couldn’t possibly hide that fact as I quite literally hid away in my room for days on end for no valid reason.

Suicide seems to be one of the dirtiest secrets - one we all try so desperately to wash our hands of.

I know too many people who have either attempted to - or successfully taken - their own life. Some are young teenagers trying to figure out their place in the world. Some are older adults who know exactly what evil the world is capable of and just can’t live among it anymore.

There is something you should know - suicide and mental health will never discriminate. Whether you are happy, rich and in love or sad, poor and lonely, there is no barrier big enough that can come between a relatively healthy person and their mind, no matter how strong they seem.

Strengths. Weaknesses. None of it matters in the town of the depressed. One day, you come home and your bags are there waiting for you, already packed along with what feels like a one-way ticket.

You begin to wonder whether you are trapped in that dead-end place forever, with suicide or harming yourself being the only escape. I know how it feels. Somehow, I had travelled to the state of depression without a choice or chance to find an explanation.

My brain is often filled with negative spirals of hate - it has done so since I was 13. I have grown accustomed to it, now.

This night was different. I have used alcohol as a way of masking my emotions for a very long time, despite my young age. But, this time I relied on my old and toxic friend a little too much. I wasn’t drinking for entertainment anymore - I was drinking to escape the pitfalls of reality.

Depression is such a lonely place from which to try and find shelter. It just rains, rains and rains there. Offensive graffiti litter the walls and there are far too many stray humans lingering and searching for answers - fighting for them, in fact. It’s a dog eat dog environment and, whilst we seem to be at constant war with ourselves, there is no time or energy to fight it. Although I managed to leave that dreadful place of despair, I have often found myself running around in circles.

Sometimes, I actually miss it. Having depression is my golden ticket or get out of jail free card.

It is the perfect excuse to exclude myself from everyday and mundane life. Pure laziness takes the reigns and I am very good at cowering behind my mental health the minute things get tough.

Maybe that's why I ended up in this particular situation.

Things were looking up for me yet I couldn’t have felt more petrified to lead a regular life, like everyone else apparently did. I would no longer have the warrant to justify my outbursts or inexcusable actions. I had become far too used to being the ‘girl with depression’ and, I admit that I enjoyed it when loved ones would tiptoe around me, like little ballerinas.

They feared me. I could get away with murder, if I actually had the vigour to pursue it.

The control could finally be in my hands, even if my mind was elsewhere. I had something to hold on to, something that could finally make me feel. No more numbness. Cutting at my skin no longer satisfied my hunger for hate.

It’s funny that before I ended up like this I could never understand people who self-harm. I would watch documentaries and even snigger at those who described it as an ‘escape.’ How could hurting yourself ever set you free?

Boy, was I wrong. My karma was soon delivered to me and I didn’t have the receipt to return it.

As much as I craved the special treatment, I knew I needed to escape. I had begun to outgrow it but, I now realise just how much creating those wounds would let me breathe fresher air, even if it was only for a limited amount of time.

I stood there, arms crossed, shivering in the cold 4am air. Alone with mascara and bloodstained cheeks, from aggressively wiping tears with my bloodied wrists.

How did I even get here? When did I hit rock bottom to the point where I couldn’t think of any better solution than for my head to hit the pavement? I know how dark that must sound but it was my honest truth.

Truth be told, I couldn’t have felt freer. I could finally feel emotion, even if it was gut-wrenching. I was seconds away from taking that leap from the edge.

A matter of centimetres, to be exact. But, I just couldn’t. Regardless of the sadness and hopelessness that I was feeling, I couldn’t cope with the consequences of hurting those around me, even if I wouldn’t be there to witness it.

Pure panic came over me and I was back. I was over to the safe side without a second thought. The whole matter felt like seconds but I had spent at least thirty minutes contemplating death that evening. It was like my alter ego had immediately left my body after that, despite the struggle to get rid of her for so many years beforehand. Perhaps it frightened her more than it did me - I had shown her the strength that she believed didn’t exist.  

Despite my open and expressive nature, I kept that memory a secret for quite some time through fear of hurting those around me.

Of course, it quickly became a topic of conversation when my entire personality died. It seemed like my mind was the only thing left living. That was the most insufferable area to get stuck in and even worse than taking residence in the town of the depressed.

I know how much it will hurt my family to read this. I hope that they never have to. I can confidently say that this incident won't occur again, no matter how tempted I get. Life is much too precious to take for granted anymore. Someone I know once told me that 21 is a magical age. You can live for 21 years of your life, four times over. Perhaps even five times, if you make it to triple digits. That really resonated with me. There is so much yet so little time. I must not waste that - none of us should.

So many humans suffer on a daily basis. They have a reason to feel heartbreak. Whilst I deserve to sulk in sadness on some occasions, I have a much simpler life than others. I don’t want to be selfish. It’s not the prettiest of traits.

I admit that I already feel a sense of relief from finally writing the ongoings of that disastrous event on paper. I have released the demon which clung onto my heart, clenching it so tightly I could barely breathe. I feel lighter now.

Like Christopher Morley once said, ‘Heavy hearts, like heavy clouds in the sky, are best relieved by the letting of a little water.’ I am not thirsty for pain anymore and I am definitely not a victim of my demons, either.



In light of Self Harm Awareness Day, I decided to publish a chapter from my book for free over on my blog. Please know that you are never alone and you shouldn't feel ashamed of your past or present situation. As always, I'm here for any of you if needed - zero judgement. It gets better. x

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