Lately I've not been particularly happy with my blogging. It has been feeling like an arduous task and I feel my writing has not been up to scratch. With little response it's difficult to know whether I'm doing ok or not. I seek validation for everything I do… See number 4 below.
On 05 February, it was Take 5 Day. An incentive run by Time to Change to encourage people to take 5 minutes to talk about mental health. Myself and a few others decided to write 5 things about our mental health conditions that may come as a surprise to people. Here is my five;
1. I have a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder with Bipolar Tendencies. It used to be both Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder but because I've never had a "crisis" they changed it. I also have Generalised Anxiety Disorder, mild Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Insomnia, Sleep Paralysis, and I hear voices. I also scored 90% on the Psychopath Test...!
2. I'm incredibly socially awkward thanks to the GAD. Meeting new people freaks me the hell out and I'm very shy. My loud "outgoing" personality is just a mask.
3. I've self harmed since I was very young. I'm lead to believe it has been going on since I was 2 years old. That's part of the reason I have so many tattoos.
4. I'm incredibly insecure. I hate almost everything about myself and I crave attention and acknowledgement of my achievements from people and if I don't get it I feel like a complete failure.
5. I have been writing this blog for 3 years or so about my experiences with mental health issues and I recently took it public. I used to write under an assumed identity until it became to difficult to maintain both lifestyles. I would love to have it made into a book some day.
One thing I didn't include on this list is one of the issues I find hardest to discuss. It's something that seems to make perfect sense to me in the moment but when I try to be open about it, it gets confusing and makes me feel [something I don’t know how to describe]. That one thing is suicidal ideation.
I'm not suicidal. At least, not all the time. Not often at all in fact. I have made 3 attempts on my life since the age of 15. Each of these times, I wanted to die. Each if these times, something or someone intervened. Suicide is always a touchy subject. People say that suicide is "a permanent fix to a temporary problem". Isn't that how all temporary problems get resolved though? By being permanently fixed, thus preventing them becoming permanent problems? I think we need to be more open about suicide. I also think that the outlook on suicide needs to change greatly. Besides, how long does a temporary problem last? Five minutes? Five days? Five years?
People talk about "committing suicide". I don't like this term. It's dirty, it sounds aggressive. Completing suicide is, I guess, a better term. Suicide in the UK was a criminal offence until 1961. This makes me very angry. Why is it a criminal offence? Who is it a crime against? God. What if you don’t believe in God? The Crown. Who cares about the crown when you’re in dire straits? Following the death of the beloved Robin Williams, I got into an altercation with a relative in relation to suicide. He said; "Robin Williams killed himself". I explained to him that actually, he died from suicide. He asked how that was any different. I began to explain to him about my own sufferings with suicidal ideation and I will explain it here too.
Suicidal ideation is defined as an unusual preoccupation with suicide. It is also considered to be a “hallmark” of Borderline Personality Disorder.
On an incredibly regular basis, I will catch myself thinking about ending my life. It's not that I want to die. I don't. Not in this moment anyway. I will be crossing a bridge and an intrusive thought will enter my head, often accompanied or encouraged by a voice. This becomes some sort of dialogue between my thoughts and the voices and typically pans out thusly;
Thought: "This is a high bridge. I don't like high bridges".
Voice: "Hey, imagine if you threw yourself from this bridge right now. You will probably die"
T: "I actually probably would die right now if I jumped"
V: "You would die but then you won't hurt any more"
T: "Ending the pain would be so good"
V: "This is your answer then! Jump from the bridge, no one will notice."
T: "That's not true, there are people around. There are cars down there too. And people. Someone will notice"
V: "No one will care though, you will disrupt traffic for a bit whilst they scrape you up but then normal life will resume for them"
T: "Yes, but what about everyone else then? So many unanswered questions, so many sad people left behind"
V: "Yeah people will be pissed for a while and might grieve too but not for too long. They will get over it"
T: "No one will even remember me within a year..."
V: "That's because you're insignificant. You might as well jump"
T: "I would do it but I don't want to inconvenience anyone"
V: "Wow, you're so weak. Pathetic. Stupid. You had the chance but you blew it. Loser!"
T: "I should have jumped"
This occurs on an all too frequent basis, this wrestling between my thoughts and the voices. When I take the tube on a daily basis. If I cross a river - I can't swim. If I'm in a tall building on a high floor... In the harder times, I believe the voices and they take over, it usually results in some form of self abuse. Other times I can rationalise my way through the dialogue and come out a little stronger. So, what is the reason I haven't taken my own life? Mostly, guilt. I couldn't stand to hurt people around me. To feel that I'd let them down. I don't want anyone to feel an ounce of sadness because of me. I also don't want people to think I'm weak. That I took the "easy" option.
If I'm not battling my thoughts and the voices, I often feel worthless, useless, hopeless. I know that I actually have quite a lot going for me which actually makes me feel incredibly guilty for having these thoughts. I'm not one of those people who will think "...but some people have it much worse..." Because there are also people who have it better but that doesn't stop me being happy.
The thing I guess I struggle the most with is identifying my feelings. I'm not ever sure if I'm happy. I like my job. I'm very good at it. It makes me smile and laugh a lot. It's rewarding. I guess those things amount to happiness? I don't quite know about love. I've told people I love them. I think I mean it. There are people in my life that I know I couldn't live without. People who at least try to make me feel good about myself. People I would do anything for. That's love right? As far as relationship love goes... I don't quite know.
There's one guy I've known for about 13 years now. We'd had an on/off thing for quite some time. The last two out of three times I saw him, I wasn't particularly nice to him. I'm not excusing myself here, I know I was vile towards him but neither time was solely my fault. The most recent time I saw him, I wanted to tell him that I needed to walk away from him. For the sake of my sanity mostly... However, as soon as I saw him I knew it wouldn't be possible. I know that he feels nothing for me but I can't turn off these feelings. When I spotted him walking towards me I felt utterly sick. I felt winded. I felt dizzy. Then I felt that all was right with the world again when he enveloped me in one of his hugs! I don't know what this feeling is. It could be love. I don't know.
Love is such an odd thing. It's mostly chemical and has a lot to do with evolution. I covered “love” in a unit I took in Psychology. Honestly, it bored me. Being a "defective" individual, I know that I am not the optimum mate. I wouldn't want to pass my genes on to a child. I am a very difficult person to deal with. However, the one thing I do know about whatever these feelings are, I feel them to my very core.
I get angry, everyone gets angry. However, when I get angry I feel it inside me. It's white hot. My anger is often coupled with violent outbursts. I used to smash stuff up. A lot!
All of the negative feelings seem easier for me to identify. I know worthlessness, hopelessness, loneliness...
As a kid I was often reprimanded for showing my feelings. If I was crying I would be told "stop crying or I will give you something to cry about". If I was happy or excited I would be told to "calm down or get a smack". Any wonder I now have difficulties expressing these emotions? All my life I've suppressed my emotions, kept them hidden from people until something inside me snaps and it all comes tumbling out. I hate it! I wish I had a healthier way of expressing myself. I try, I love to craft. My problem there is staying focused. I have difficulty committing myself to a task. I will start something and then either become bored with it or I will think of something new and more exciting...! Take my current flat for instance. I've been there for about a month now and I've still not unpacked! Granted, I work very long hours and the last thing I want to do when I get home is sort stuff out. I just know though that when I get started with tidying or sorting I will find something I forgot I had or I will come up with an "awesome idea" that I absolutely MUST execute immediately! I guess I'm much the same with my blogs. I have a lot to say. Sometimes one blog will set me off on a tangent that will give birth to another blog.... Etc!
I have spoken at length with people about suicidal ideation and very few seem to understand it. The most frequent question I get asked is "So why do you think about killing yourself if you're not suicidal?". I don't know ok? These thoughts have always been there. For as long as I can remember. They are not conscious thoughts. They are automatic. The just happen!
The reason I am sharing this particular experience, as with most of my blogs, is so people don't think they are the only one experiencing it. Just knowing someone else is going through the same difficulties as you can help a lot.