*There are some references to suicidal ideation and suicidal thoughts. Check your mental state before you continue.*
I made my father feel awful the other day.
To be fair, I’ve asked for space. Repeatedly. From more than one parent. I’ve even said, explicitly, that it’s because I get mean when I’m triggered like this. I’m thin-skinned, reactive, and aim the knife well. This would be fine if I didn’t suffer buyer’s remorse, but I do. And feeling bad makes me mad again, and then the inside voices start to question my character.
Who get’s angry at someone they’ve just hurt?
Then again, who has to deal with six phone calls (and one text) about non-emergency stuff in one day, especially when they’ve asked said family for space?
I don’t think I was untruthful. I was just unkind. And really, there’s no point in mentioning the dysfunction and passive-aggressive behaviour that makes up the weirdness that’s my family (one of the reasons my stepdaughter’s passive-aggressive behaviour is triggering me so hard is a lifetime of it in familial settings). My parents are old. Change is unlikely. I need to let things go.
I’m better at Zen when I’m not ragged.
(One of my inside voices points out that the above is only my point of view. My parents likely feel differently. The voice isn’t overtly negative, but it’s always there, asking me if I’m being fair.
Oddly, she’s absent when I’m on Twitter.
Really, she’s often more about being agreeable than being fair. I’m going to have to think about that.)
It would be nice if people listened to me, and by people, I mean family. My friends would listen if I talked to them, but I mostly don’t. In the early stages of decompensating, I don’t because I worry about being a drain on the friendship. In the later stages, I don’t because I’ve isolated myself far from the maddening crowd.
(I would talk to some of my friends. Know who you’re asking for help. I’ve one friend who’s convinced a stiff upper lip fixes everything. She’s great much of the time, but not my go-to when depression is calling.)
If only I could leave my brain with the same degree of effective ease. Just stop taking calls and answering texts. And the neuroses, getting no response, would push off for greener pastures. Or August.
(I want to say “neurosi,” though that would be wrong. So is “octopi,” something I learned yesterday. “Octopuses” and “octopodes” are the correct plurals. Something about the root being Greek and “pi” being Latin. Whatever. But, I digress.)
I have new drugs that don’t keep my brain quiet enough yet. I still have the hateful, destructive, brutal thoughts that feel like they’re beating me down. I’m allowed to increase the dose a lot before I see my psychiatrist next Thursday.
You know things are dire when your doctor wants to see you again in a week.
I’ll add more milligrams today despite the lovely metal taste in my mouth because in addition to a brain that’s telling me horrible stories, I have a brain that’s allowing the occasional thought about suicide to creep in. These are dangerous thoughts, not because they’re ideation, but because they aren’t.
(I’m not actively suicidal. People who have ideation and thoughts about suicide aren’t necessarily actively suicidal. They can get that way, however, if they can’t talk. The stigma that envelopes talking about suicide needs to end. It would save a lot of people.)
I do have people. I have two counselling appointments this week, and as long as I can be honest, they should help.
Unfortunately, the wall between me and other people seems much more insurmountable when I’m spiralling down.
(Why do we never spiral up? We crash at alarming speeds, but the climb back to something even closely resembling normal takes what feels like forever longer. I’m already dreading it. Do you suppose it’s a gravity thing? Gravity certainly hates collagen.)
Where I’m at now is a walking, talking example of why self-care is important, even when things are dark and dire, even when we think we don’t have time (I’m really about adjectives and adverbs today. Stephen King would not approve.)
Going backwards, my father’s near-death heart problems throughout the spring; my mother’s concurrent chemotherapy; my kidney infection in November, my father’s near-death pneumonia in late October; and, my mother’s lobectomy in early October, make for an impressive list of stresses.
My stepdaughter’s refusal to talk to me in response to “something I said” in April, refusing also to let me talk to or visit with my grandson have added more. I’ve lurched from calamity to disaster without doing enough in the way of self-care, even when faced with an aggressive flare of arthritis and fibromyalgia, my body’s attempt to tell me to treat myself right.
I forget sometimes that I’m not neurotypical, and that there are consequences to acting like I am. There are consequences to abandonning self-care that go beyond unkempt nails and overflowing laundry bins. When I give up on self-care, I get those, but also flaring depression and raging PTSD. In hindsight, the moments I didn’t take here and there were a mistake.
(Interestingly, I’m maintaining my eating disorder recovery. I still have a minor cutting problem, but recovery on that front is holding despite some seriously inclement weather. I’m grateful. A flare of bulimia would be nasty icing on a horrible cake.)
It may feel self-indulgent to look after ourselves when our world is falling apart, but if we don’t, we can find ourselves in dark places. We can find ourselves in places where are thoughts aren’t our own, where we imagine awful, hurtful things almost constantly.
Though “imagine” is the wrong word; it suggests a voluntary element that’s missing as the dysfunctional thought train leaves the station. I get off eventually, but that can take time: I don’t always realize I’m being taken for a ride. That awareness comes after the unpleasant emotions get going.
Getting off the train is neither effort nor consequence-free. Unreal thoughts have real effects. It’s also not one and done. My brain has an infinite supply of trains. And then there’s my well.
Empty well is in part why I’m here.
Self-care is looking like a missed imperative in hindsight.
No one is served by a hero’s complex. I knew that once upon a time. Trying to do everything oneself while ignoring all attempts at help until it’s too late are the actions of a toddler. Too bad the mindset doesn’t come with toddler skin.
I’m starting to look rough around the eyes.
If you're having suicidal thoughts, please reach out. There are people who want to help. There are other national resources available online. If it's an immediate emergency, call 911 (or your local emergency response number), or go to the emergency department of your hospital. Canada: 1-866-456-4566 or 911. The chat option is at 45645 from 4 p.m. to midnight. More information available here. United States: 1-800-784-2433 (1-800-SUICIDE). There are also options for text, chat, and more specific counselling (LGBTQIA, Veteran) here. UK: in the UK, one can call or text 988 for emergency help.