Useful background: I slit my wrists a while back. I don’t talk about it, or even think about it, that much these days, mostly because I don’t need to. But I decided, at that point, not to self-harm again. Partly because I seem to have a push-everything-as-far-as-it’ll-go-then-stop-and-try-something-else schtick going on that’s probably pretty healthy; partly because Other People; partly because I like the sensitivity of the scars; partly because three fairly obvious eight-inch suicide slashes is plenty to make the point (and have to hide on the rare occasions I need to pretend to be a grownup.) It seemed, and seems, the right and only decision to make at the time, and I stand by it.
Thing is, that leaves me with a bit of a problem.
I started self-harming, as this blog testifies, because it was the only language I could use to describe the pain I was in to which people would reliably listen. I’m not quite the same person as I was then, and I’m certainly not in the same kind of pain – it has been noticeable the extent to which the ongoing litany of practical disasters and insecurity constituting my present life have been mitigated by the love and support of my partner and my friends. I feel loved, which to a great extent means that emotional repercussions of my present instability fade into the foreground.
But by that same token, they’re hard to miss.
I’m tired. I’ve forgotten how to sleep. Ever since ME, I have basically been able to lie down and pass out – but suddenly, now, I am mostly awake and alert, my mind flicking fretfully through plans and possibilities – where to go, where to work, what to do. Contingency plans. Places to run to next. If I’m woken or interrupted, it takes me hours to calm down enough to get back to sleep – even if my terminally insomniac boyfriend gets up to go and have a bath so’s not to keep me awake, the chances are I’ll be staring at the phone or my ceiling for hours anyway. If I’m on my own with no warm person touching me, it’s even worse.
So I’m going slowly crazy. Everything is fragile, all of the time – I am febrile and frantic, only the thin veneer of everyday separating the outside world from the flickering whirling mess inside. Touch me, and I’ll either bleed or burst.
It’s hard in unexpected ways, the homelessness and the rootlessness. Nothing is ever quite safe. I’m never quite safe. No tenet of my selfhood is unassailable by the twin agonies of being worthless to the world and having nowhere to hide from it.
The trouble, then, is how to deal with that. And I confess, I don’t know. But it’s no less significant for being entirely unsurprising that my go-to response has consistently been to reach for self-harm or suicide. There have been whole weeks where everything is punctuated by flashing cravings– or careful considered planning – for precious oblivion, whether momentary or mortal. It’s been the last place left I could go.
I’ve been properly depressed only a few times in my life. It’s odd, while being in some senses quite emotionally positive, to be continually wrestling with the same thoughts and feelings – that I’m a burden on everyone, that I’ve already failed at everything, that I’d be better off dead – and more than anything with that dull overwhelming craving for nonexistence shot through with the constantly-resisted impulse to cut. To say, publicly, that I’m not okay any more – even though, in some senses, I am. It’s unexpectedly overwhelming, and oddly destabilising. Combine that with the endlessly shifting cities and sleepspaces and you get me, unsure quite what I am anymore, or quite how to carry on.