Sometimes I feel a little embarrassed when S talks to me the way an adult would talk to a child.
“That would be nice, huh?” He had said to me near the end of our session today. His voice was kind but also sounded like something you’d tell a little crying child. Something soothing but in a very fatherly kind of way. I mean, it’s understandable how I’d get that from him – after all, he does have two young children and I do sometimes perceive him as my father figure.
It just felt a little embarrassing for me to pull up that memory of him saying that to me in his kind soothing voice because like most of you who have been following this blog know, I do struggle with not wanting to admit that I need help plus not wanting to come across as needy. ‘I’m an adult, dammit! I need to act like one!’ is a thought that constantly occurs in my head – and it’s especially hard when S treats me so tenderly.
I do like getting that tender treatment though. Which makes me feel even more embarrassed to get it because I almost want to hear it again. I think I need to get over my self-consciousness and recognize that I have a need that S fulfills and be okay with that. After all, we all have needs, right?
I had had a very unstable day yesterday – as you could’ve seen in the blog posts that I had written. I was on a roller-coaster ride of emotions – one minute I was up, the next I was down. The night didn’t end well either – it was triggering and had ended in one of the biggest fights I’ve ever remembered having with someone.
The night wasn’t supposed to have ended that way – I mean, I had a dinner at a nice-ish restaurant, and had seen Captain America: Civil War. It shouldn’t have ended so badly. Somehow, it just did. It was partly my fault because I had brought up something that is currently a sore topic between us and thanks to my uncontrollable rage, things spiraled out of control.
When I was all alone with my own thoughts, at 3am, I went to the bathroom, pulled out my paracord bracelet and tried to unravel it because I wanted to make a hangman’s noose. I was over this life. I wanted to quit this “game” called Life. When I was unsuccessful in unraveling the bracelet, I went out to the kitchen instead. I pulled out the kitchen knife and pressed it against my wrist.
Just an hour earlier, I had written an email to S chronicling the details of my fight and talked about how tired I was and how much I was struggling. I had written:
I’m just struggling, S. I can’t do this anymore. I want to stop hurting the people I care about but I can’t seem to stop. It hurts so much. I just want it to stop. I think about the paracord bracelet that I have in the drawer and I want to unravel it, tie a knot and just hang myself and die. This hurts too much. I’m a monster. I feel so unstable. I don’t know why.
I guess right now I’m just writing this to shout into the void. I don’t know if you’ll even get an opportunity to read this before I see you tomorrow. Mentally, I’m thinking if I see you… But let’s not kid ourselves right? The likelihood of me actually listening to this rage/distressed voice to kill myself is probably pretty slim. Will I actually ever do this? Will I actually ever kill myself? Somehow, I doubt it. I’ve been standing on this edge for a very long time – what has it been now? 3 months? I haven’t done it yet. I don’t know if I ever will. As much as it hurts, it seems like I have to keep myself in this pain. It’s like when the teenager refuses to let me die – it feels the same.
I thought about that email as I pressed the knife into my wrist. I felt the cold steel against my warm skin. It wasn’t as painful as I had anticipated it to be as the steel dug lightly into my skin.
All I have to do now is move my hand and the knife will cut. I thought as I held the knife there. My hand was surprisingly steady for someone who was on the edge of losing her mind. I closed my eyes, felt myself breathe in and out.
You don’t want to do this. Another voice said, cutting through my almost meditative breathing as I held the knife steady. You can’t do this. It will hurt.
I opened my eyes and looked at the knife, it had left an indent on my wrist. Surprisingly, it didn’t split the skin despite how hard I was pushing on my wrist.
You’re right… It will hurt… I can’t do this… I responded to that voice. I don’t know who it was. Maybe it was the kind adult. Maybe it was God.
I put away the knife and inspected my wrist. The indent was deep but there was barely a scratch on my skin. I had placed the knife right on top of the bulging vein. The veins on my arms are actually very visible and prominent which implied that they were located really close to the top of the skin. So the fact that I didn’t really sustain even a shallow cut was an interesting thing. I’ve gotten cuts for less.
So because of that, S decided to extend his session with me today. We sat together for an extra 30 minutes. I wasn’t going to tell him what I did at first. But then decided that maybe I should. It seemed like the right thing to do. I don’t keep secrets from S, I try not to anyway.
I told him that I kept the knife on my wrist but didn’t cut and said, “I think that was the part in that email where I said, ‘Who am I kidding? I don’t think I’ll actually do this…’”
“What’s keeping you from doing it?”
“I don’t know… Because… I’m in so much distress that I do want that to happen. But then, then I don’t do it… It feels like… It feels like the same exact thing that’s stopping me from being with women…”
“So it’s kinda this double… On the one hand, it’s keeping you from being with women, and it’s also keeping you from killing yourself. Two things that you want…”
“Yeah!” I said, realizing that it was true. “Yeah…”
“Speaking personally, I’m not saying go do one or the other… I would rather you did something with a woman than kill yourself…”
I gave S a weak smile at that.
“Right… Right… Just… This internal battle that nobody sees… I don’t know what to do…”
We sat in silence for a little bit.
“Yeah… Visually you know… I feel like my current state… Feels like I’m in a mental asylum. I feel like I’m in a straitjacket, I feel like I’m in this white room you know. I’m just throwing myself against the wall repeatedly. That’s how I would describe how I feel right now… So… I don’t know…” I said.
“Jules I am concerned… I mean it sounds… Last night, it sounds like you were closer than you’ve been in a while…” S said, again, concern was clear on his face.
“Yeah…” I said, feeling a little shame bubbling up because he was right. I could’ve lost control last night.
“Are you… I know Dr W gave you some anti-depressants… Are you taking those?”
Dr W had prescribed me Zoloft which I had filled the same day she had given them to me on April 29th. I just hadn’t taken them until today, about a week and a half after she had prescribed them.
“I just took them this morning…”
“I don’t know if it is going to help…” I said, my wariness of drugs coming into play.
“Yeah you know it takes like a month to kick in,” S said.
“Yeah… I thought to myself this morning, You have to take this and I did.”
“Well what’s…” S started to say. Then he stopped and tried again, “Okay… Do you think you can be safe for the next… Next couple of days? The next week?”
I paused for a long time as I contemplated that question. I was unsure. I was unsure because I know that it’s easy for me to say I’ll be ok during the day. But when night falls and everyone’s gone to bed and I’m up with only my thoughts as company, things are different. My rational mind is weaker. I kept opening my mouth several times to speak but would close it again because I realized that I didn’t really have an answer to his question. There have been many times where he would ask me if I’d be safe, and I’d say yes, and I’d end up self-harming that very same night. So I hated making a concrete promise.
“Maybe…” I said, and hesitated. “Probably yeah…”
“Do we need to think about hospitalization at this point?” S said, bringing up a possibility that I had been thinking about myself.
“I don’t know… I’ve been wondering the same thing… I don’t know…”
“Do you want to die right now?” S asked me the point-blank question.
I took a deep breath.
“I don’t think… I don’t think as much as I wanted to last night. I think… A part of me… A part of me wants to keep going. A part of me wants to learn… More computer science.”
“OK good, there’s something!”
“Yeah, and that part is also the same part that reminds me that I still have responsibilities. That I have a job to go to,” I continued.
“OK, that’s good… So you want to learn more computer science… When do… Are you taking summer classes?”
“I’ll be back in Fall…”
“I think uh… That part of me made me sit down yesterday and write down the things that I have achieved this semester…” I said, trying to think of more positive things that I’ve done since I last saw him on Monday.
“Yeah… That’s why I said I was up and down a lot yesterday…”
“There were those up places too…” He asked – he likes to repeat what I’ve said a lot in a statement-y/question-y kind of way to confirm what I’ve just told him.
“Yeah, the up was that…”
“What are some things you can do this summer to… Follow those passions?” S asked.
“Um… I bought a couple of books yesterday. How to learn C, and how to learn C++. Um, so I’m going to start on that…”
“Okay, that is hopeful to me… It sounds like that was before the fight…” S said, sounding a little less concerned than he was a few minutes ago.
“Yeah, so it seems like, if I don’t get triggered, I’m mostly okay…”
“Yeah cuz last week you seemed a lot better… Or even Monday,” S said.
“Yeah I think so… Um…”
S continued, “I know we’re getting over here, I just wanna make sure you’ll be safe…” It was nice of him to let me stay over time despite knowing that we’re severely over time. For him to do that just to make sure I’m safe felt like a big deal to me. “And part of my thinking there is just… A lot of times just coming up with other options – feeling like you have other things you can choose besides ending your life, that’s kind of what I’m trying to focus on right now. In terms of like, I know the finances are kind of a burden too. And I’m not saying you should definitely do this… But just in terms of just another option… I mean, is going back to Malaysia another option? I mean not that I would want that but if it’s between that and being so miserable that you want to die…”
It really warmed my heart to know that he wouldn’t want me to leave but that he would let me consider that an option if it meant being in a less miserable situation. I really liked knowing that he cared enough for me to let me choose the best decision for myself – even if it means a decision that he wouldn’t necessarily want to see happen. I also liked how honest and bold it sounded to tell me that he wouldn’t want to see me leave. It would’ve been something I couldn’t have said myself because I’d be too embarrassed to sound so vulnerable.
“It might be… But I think at the same time, I think I was more miserable there than I was here…” I said, remembering all the painful things I’ve encountered back in the country I grew up in.
“I don’t know. I feel like at this point… I don’t know. That part of me wants to finish what I started.” I was suddenly feeling determination creep in.
“Okay good… There’s that part again…”
“I know you’ve gone to see Civil War… What’s some other fun stuff that you can do that classes are over?”
“Um… I was actually thinking of going somewhere… Just… Maybe go to Chicago and visit. Um… I’ve been talking about it for 5 years. Um… Or visiting New York…” I said, expressing two desires that I’ve had in me ever since I touched down on O’Hare International Airport on December 2nd, 2011.
“I like that!” S said, sounding very excited.
“And a part of me is like You’re free now to do whatever you want… Um… It’s funny cuz you should mention Civil War because when I saw it on Friday, I felt for once, in a long time, I felt like I was alive…”
“And I thought about how, immediately after I thought that, there was a voice that was like That’s so pathetic…”
“Whaaat?” S exclaimed.
“Cuz you live in a fantasy world… It’s sad that a movie makes you feel alive that was the immediate response after I thought to myself, Man this is awesome…”
“I wonder if that’s the part of you that wants to die, that doesn’t want to get better, but if that keeps you from doing some of these things that you love, like watching more movies or something like that…” S mused.
“Yeah, I think it’s that part that doesn’t want to get better…”
“So that’s one way to fight that part… To do that stuff…” S suggested.
“Yeah… I mean… I wrote a blog post about my struggle with my sexuality a couple of days ago, and it was hard to hit ‘Publish’ because it was public. But I did that…”
“In a way, I guess I kinda ‘came out’. And that doesn’t feel as much of a burden as it did…”
“So I mean I can see that a part of me is making steps… Or taking steps…” I said.
“It’s like a lot of you! It’s like last night was so overwhelming but now we talk more about other stuff that’s been going on… A lot of it is pretty positive…” S said, sounding a lot more cheerful than he did earlier.
“Yeah… I mean I got uh… I got my grades back. I got an A, an A-, an A+ and a B-. It was a 3.5 something… Which made the cumulative drop to a 3.83 or something… But I think a part of me was like, How did you do that? In all the things you were going through get to that?”
“Scored a 3.83…”
“Yeah… I didn’t study for Calculus. How did I get a B-?”
“So one of those A’s was in your programming class?” S asked.
“Yeah, the A was in my programming class, which I’m actually really proud of…”
“Yeah! You should be!” S exclaimed.
“I mean I got a 93/100 for the final. I mean, I haven’t checked the median range but it’s hard to even get a 90!”
“But I got a 93…” I said, as I suddenly realized what I’d done.
“Guess your friend was right!” (He was talking about CG, a friend of mine I really look up to because he’s such a genius at programming. Without his help, I wouldn’t have gotten through Computing 1 as easily as I did!)
“Yeah, I sent him a screenshot of the grade and he wrote back to me, ‘That is great! This is a big deal’. I guess it is…”
“It is! It is a big deal!”
“And I think I wrote on my Facebook post as I posted my grades up, ‘I can’t tell you some of the things I’m struggling with, but the fact that I’m still alive. That I’m still here, counts for something, right?’”
“Yeah… You’re still here and you’re succeeding…” S agreed.
“Yeah…” I said, feeling the desire to hurt myself or to kill myself diminish slightly as we talked more about the positive things.
“Well congratulations, I mean that’s awesome!”
“Thank you. I think I need to… I need to go back and reread all the 19 things I wrote down that I did…”
“I think that that would be a fantastic idea. And go see Civil War again if you need to…”
“I think you should tell B if you see her, that I’m still here. I remember what she’d asked me. She’d said, ‘Isn’t it more important at the end of the semester to say I’ve kept myself alive than whatever grade I’m going to get’ so yesterday I thought about her. And I thought about C too. Because she’s right… It’s not just hair…”
“She’s right. I’ll definitely pass that along…” S said, nodding.
I was feeling a lot calmer than I did just 20 minutes ago. S had that effect on me – he’s almost always able to help me calm down. His calm demeanor, his patience, his kindness, his fatherly words – the subdue the raging monster in me and puts it to rest a lot of the times. He stands in front of me – in front of the charging bull of negative emotions – and protects me and that feels great!
“Well, great! Good job!” S said, when he was convinced that I was calm enough to be allowed to leave without having to call an ambulance on me to be taken to the hospital.
I was glad I was able to calm down too because I certainly don’t think I’d want to get hospitalized, even if I had thought about it myself. There are just so many myths surrounding it that it seems like a scary prospect – to be taken to the psych ward and stripped of all my belongings, given clothes with no buttons or shoes with no laces so that I won’t attempt to kill myself again… Being put on a regimented schedule, probably pumped with drugs… It’s all too scary for me to even think about.
However, I know that that is definitely a decision I have to make for myself in the future if I happen to stand in the kitchen with that knife on my wrist again. For now, I’m just glad that S’ influence over me is strong enough to overpower the negative part’s influence. For now, I’m glad I’m still here.