Hello Again

For anyone who may actually be waiting for things to pop up on here, I’m sorry that I have really sporadic periods of posting everything, and then months of radio silence.

For anyone who might just pop up and see this, and is all “omg it’s one of those people!”, be thankful because after this I’ll probably fade off into the distance again!

I don’t post on here unless it’s poetry or sometimes memes, sometimes videos, whatever. I try not to blab on too much about my life (although don’t get me wrong, I don’t just people watch and then make up things I think they feel to write my poems), but sometimes this place is my release, a place to cast off things that have been emotionally weighing me down into the vast nothing-ness of the internet. Yes of course, it’s not like writing in a journal or what have you, but sometimes I feel like I’m just this tiny little blot on the surface of WordPress, nobody will see this anyway. Nobody close to me will see it either – because I know next to nobody follows me on here. I’m grateful for that because some of these things, I don’t know who to tell, or how to explain, yet I can on here.

My long, long absence, although probably not uncommon, wasn’t because I was just out there living my life and finding no time or reason to post. It was because I was at the lowest I have ever felt. So I felt it was time to finally tell exactly how bad it had become for me. I am aware that for other people, this is nothing, for some it’s unimaginable because they have never struggled. But this is mine. My story of how I felt, and maybe for someone who is right on par with it, will read this and maybe feel like somehow they aren’t alone, even if we haven’t met. Will never meet.

A quick note: If you are uncomfortable with the idea of reading descriptions of self harm, I would either stop reading, or be brave and prepare for it now, rather than stumble across it later in this post.

I was gone from the internet and desperately cowering away from reality too, because of depression or anxiety, or just some kind of crippling brokenness that I can’t seem to shake.

I realise now that it’s something I may have struggled with a long time, even in my childhood – that punishing feeling of never fitting in has followed me, the hopelessness of feeling like nobody would ever love me again and the first signs of self harm that stemmed from an innocent conversation in a lesson.

At 21, I still obsessively worry that I am doing everything wrong, that people drop me because I am a failure at something, that nobody misses me when I am gone, no matter how many times they say it – it always feels like a lie.

I started my second year of university October just gone. I haven’t been in since late November, my attendance gradually slipping away until right now, when I don’t go in at all. I plan to leave. Because gradually its whole being was suffocating me – I felt like a complete outsider. I picked something I thought I loved and in the first year, I did love it. But I was alone. By the start of second year, I heard how other people were forming better relationships with classmates, how everyone else seemed to interact with perfect ease. I didn’t feel like I could. I realised not long ago, that after serious absence, not one person that I was working on a project with got in touch with me to ask if I was okay, only to shove their deadlines and harsh threats down my throat via email. Only one person actually commented on the fact they hadn’t seen me for a while.

And where was I? When I wasn’t at uni?

In bed.

Most days I genuinely stayed in bed, not wanting to wake up and yet wishing that another wretched day would already be gone. I used to sit with my eyes closed because it felt more peaceful than the habit of staring at walls, which I suddenly gained and spent hours doing every night. It actually felt like if I drifted away far enough, it could be death, and I nearly welcomed it. On some of the strangest days, when I still travelled to work, I would stare at the train as it came rushing onto the platform and think about how much it would hurt to throw myself in front. Whether it would actually kill me or I would wake up in a hospital and suddenly realise what I would have been throwing away. I never tried it because thankfully, it stayed only as a thought, and I stayed as close to the walls as I could. I didn’t want my family to find out any of this and if they did, I didn’t want it to be because a hospital rang them to say their child jumped in front of a train.

So I just tried to carry on. I couldn’t bring myself to listen to music, the one thing that had truly made me happy once. It became noise, meaningless noise that I found I couldn’t connect to anymore. I couldn’t read, couldn’t work. Words just became too much. I used to open Microsoft Word, get ready to finish an article and the most I ever typed on that page was one sentence. Each time I just opened it again, stared at the pathetic piece of typing on the screen and then shut my laptop. Every ounce of creativity left my body and every method I could use to distract myself normally just became torturous.

Then I had a night where an old habit kicked in. I had self harmed before, but it was normally extremely mild, scratches to the surface of the skin that raised up into angry red lines but would have faded within a few hours. It was also when I had been upset, seriously upset and for a long period of time – a few weeks, a few months – which resulted in an eventual breakdown into tears for hours one night. Then I would hurt myself. But even from those small actions, I had almost started developing craving symptoms whenever I slipped back into the same states of emotional distress. My wrists would throb, a dull aching throb just below the skin that would only go when I would hurt myself. I had learnt to recognise it and one night, when I was on my own in my bedroom, I had no idea it would happen, but that throbbing started. It niggled away while I tried to sleep, even though I wasn’t crying, even though I hadn’t had my heart broken or been so stressed I flipped out. I was just trying to sleep after another day of being unproductive, staring at the walls and being alone. That was bad enough for me, because I was always proud of myself for going so long without hurting. But in the end, when it wouldn’t fade away, I drank myself to sleep in a bid to ignore it, and that was when I realized I wasn’t on the same scale anymore. I never got that ache outside of being upset and I had never drowned it with alcohol.

I tried to ignore it for as long as possible, but gradually I did hurt myself. I was so paranoid about marks showing on my arms that I scraped scissors down my things. I carried on for weeks, the number of times increasing and increasing each time until actually, I decided I wasn’t hurting myself enough. I began to draw blood. It was only tiny amounts. cuts shallow enough to just have grazes, lines of a deeper red than merely surface tones.

That was when I went to the doctors. I went originally for a completely different reason, and at the end of the appointment, I told him everything so far. I scheduled another appointment and we discussed it further. He initially prescribed me 10mg Citalopram tablets, which, desperate for something to stop me from getting worse, I took. I never questioned it and I walked out of there, feeling happy for all of two minutes. Or maybe it was just relief but even feeling something besides confused, upset or nothing was a start.

Sadly, I didn’t get better very quickly. I decided yet again, that my current method of self harming wasn’t enough. All because at my parents’ house one day, I sliced a pair of scissors all the way down my thigh, about eight inch lines, maybe more. But they bled. Although I was in the shower and water flow exaggerates how much blood there is, I watched it all flow down my leg and I smiled. I actually smiled with a sick kind of happiness because if I could bleed, if I could hurt, then I was feeling.

When I got back to my own flat, my scissors there weren’t good enough, incapable of producing the same gashes in my skin. I broke apart a disposable razor until both the edges of the blades and the corners were exposed. I used to scrape them across my skin multiple times, preferring the constant rush of pain that repetition gave, until there were enough cuts that were oozing blood. They never ran, it only collected in a droplet.

I went to counselling. The first time I ever went, I had the worst anxiety I had ever experienced in my life. I didn’t know where I was going, I got on the bus and anxiously watched every stop, certain that I had missed it. When a stop had been called that was similar to mine, I asked the driver where I was supposed to get off. I felt myself go red, because not only was I internally terrified, I was certain that everybody could see it or that somehow they knew I had something wrong. Then I felt like everybody was watching me. I only slightly calmed down when a kind elderly lady explained to me where I should get off. I feel like maybe she knew I was so anxious that she often said a little bit more to let me know that I didn’t need to worry and I would end up where I was going. I nearly cried when I thanked her, so many times I thanked her, and the driver before I got off the bus.

When I got in to session, I was asked how my journey was and if I found the centre OK. I cried right there. Sat in my wooden chair in an office, in public. In front of a stranger. I just broke. It was one of the worst experiences I had during counselling. Every first session I had (I saw two counsellors and had a review session for my university counselling) I would end up crying. In hindsight, I also said in one of those sessions that I didn’t feel like anybody from university would miss me – how right that seems now.

Gradually as I spoke things out, all the worries about my work and uni place and my life became so much clearer. I wasn’t better yet, my medication was upped to 20mg and it got to the stage where I wasn’t going to work or uni. I tried walking to uni once and found that the closer I got to the buildings, I felt sick, wobbly. I sat down on a little wall right on the outside of the campus and eventually walked away. I spent days pretending to my flatmates that I was going to lessons that they weren’t in, but really I would go anywhere that I thought would make me feel happy.  Once I stopped going altogether, I then became paranoid that if I did go back in, I wouldn’t be able to cope with the glares of everybody, or the slating I would get from the people I was supposed to have been working with. So that stopped any ideas I had about braving it out.

Over time, when I stopped worrying about the girls and everybody else, and I realised not being in uni made me feel better, I asked for a deferral for my deadlines with the option of an interruption in mind, hoping that all I needed was organised and approved time off. I cut down my work hours, eventually only going in for one day. The last time I hurt myself was shortly after New Years Eve. I wasn’t better, but I felt glad for the fact that I had been lifted out of the stage where I sometimes had to cut myself just to feel like I could stomach the day. I had begun to transfer my cutting from my thighs once it didn’t give me enough of a rush anymore. It travelled from my thighs to my calves, once to stomach and then I would go back to my thighs as though they had merely been having a break. I did one lot on the top of my right arm and thankfully no more than that. I genuinely believe that if I hadn’t been lifted at the right moment, I would have become indifferent to the idea of cutting areas I couldn’t hide.

The marks are still on my arm and my legs. I am terrified of warmer weather coming in case they never fade and I have to explain to my parents why I have them. But I look at them now and while I hate what I did, they show that I am healing, that because there are no more fresh lines of scabs and blood, every day that goes by means I haven’t done it again.

My dose of medication is now 30mg. I don’t feel entirely happy yet, but things have returned to me. I can read, I can listen to music. I can sing again and I cannot wait to start doing it properly with my mate.

But things still need fixing. My relationship nearly broke, I wouldn’t talk to him for days on end, see him for weeks. I had grown used to it and when he got a new job, it spun me out of my cycle. When I needed him, he couldn’t be there. When I wanted to talk to him, I would feel so guilty about needing to disturb him that I would simply not get in touch. We had so many arguments about the fact that I wasn’t OK and how I felt he didn’t understand it or how I felt he never did enough for me to help me feel better. I sometimes wished we weren’t even together because I felt like he was disgusted by everything – my self harm, my choice to take medication, ultimately with who I really was. So I left him in a bid to fix myself, away from all the condescending and patronising I felt I was receiving from him.

I told my closest friends how I had been feeling and found that if I had simply gone to them sooner, they would have understood. I felt like I had betrayed them by deciding in my lowest days that telling them would simply be bothering them. I apologized and explained it all just to hear them say that they understood why I wouldn’t have told them. They still offered their ears and their help regardless once I had opened up.

I have decided not to return to uni for this academic year. Although now I often become drowned in more worries about how I will pay my rent until October, whether I will be ready to go back to work should I need to, whether I will once again decide I am making a mistake. But I cannot deny that I feel better without uni, all the financial worry it gives me, the hatred of their whole system and how they call it education when really it feels more like I’m just teaching myself. I feel settled. Although now I am unsure of what to do and where to go with my life, but it is something I can fix a lot more easily than another spell of feeling how I did.

My relationship is also looking up again. I would write a load of stuff but I just did before and it sounds like such sop I think it may just stop making sense to everyone except me…

Essentially, I have been away battling my own personal hell. But I am back now, and I have things looking up for me. I want to get back on top of posting again, possibly posting more about things I struggle with. I have remained somewhat stable throughout this post – a sign I take as meaning I am no longer held down by the negativity of it all. So I hope it continues, and that actually, maybe somebody will take something away from it. I felt so alone and realised that I am not, no matter how it felt. There is help. There was always help and I am glad I took it.

I would apologise for such a long post, but if you read it all and made it here (and thank you if you did), then it was worth writing and I don’t regret it. Stories like this are meant to be told, no matter how bad they get, because for each one, someone might read it get help or help someone else. We should not ignore depression.

That was deep, even for me.

All my love and even more thanks,

Maria xx