Continue the Story

I wanted to write about the therapy session I had yesterday but a piece of news had shocked me so much last night that I feel it pertinent to address.

The mental health community has been rocked by the news that Amy Bleuel, the founder of Project Semicolon, has passed away from suicide. She had been an amazing advocate, a strong voice within the community against the stigma of mental health, a positive, and encouraging person to all those who struggle with suicide. So when the news came to me, I was shocked. Not only that she had passed, but that she had died from suicide.

I felt it ironic because just last night, when my temporary tattoo kit had arrived, I decided to tattoo my arm with a semicolon. When I have something tangible that I can see, touch, and read daily, it helps me keep going. So I figured if I had a tattoo of the semicolon, I’d be able to look at it and realize that my story isn’t over.

Then the news came.

It made me think.

I told my psychologist yesterday that sometimes I feel guilty for being an advocate, or for doing something contrary to what he and I have discussed because I know I shouldn’t beat myself up, I know I shouldn’t feel the way I do, etc, but I still end up in the anxious/depressed situation.
“S, sometimes I feel really guilty… I feel guilty because I hear your voice in my head saying, ‘Jules, these thoughts? They’re not your reality. They’re just thoughts. They’re fleeting, which means they won’t stick around for very long. But they don’t define your reality’ and I think to myself, ‘S’ is right. Why am I moping then? Why can’t I stop moping? Why do I want to just die?’ and I feel guilty,” I’d said to him.
He sat up. He always pays extra attention when I talk about something that relates to our therapeutic relationship. He’s always very conscientious of the fact that sometimes the things he says could affect me.
“Oh yeah?” He asked.
“Yeah… I feel guilty because I know that recovery isn’t a straight path upwards. That sometimes I may regress. I know that…”
As I said that, S smiled because I had answered myself. Recovery isn’t linear.
The news of Amy Bleuel’s passing gives a lot of clarity to the issue. It teaches me that every single day is a battle, and sometimes, you may lose but hopefully if you have a good support system, you’ll never have to consider losing. Or ever find yourself at a place where you could potentially do some serious harm.
 
It’s awful to lose someone to cancer, or a disease, or old age, or accidents, but how much more awful is it to lose someone to suicide? This is in some ways a wake up call because it’s telling us that if we don’t check in with the people we love or give them our support, we may lose them forever.
 
All it takes is for one person to say “I care” to the person struggling with depression, for them to realize that they are worthy of love, and life. All it took for me were people who cared. The staff at CAPS had been that for me, but since then, my support system has grown. I’ve slowly learned to start loving myself as well through that.
I know what it’s like to stand in the dark, feeling like I’m all alone and that my only choice is to kill myself. And now, I also know what it’s like to be in the dark, but then have someone reach out their hand to me to walk me back to the light. Knowing these two sides, I really want to encourage anyone and everyone who is reading this to reach out to their loved ones, to let them know how much you care for them.
If you’re hurting, afraid, or need someone to talk to, please reach out. Someone will reach back. Please stay. You are so deeply valued, so incomprehensibly loved—even when you can’t feel it—and you are worth your life. You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 (U.S.) or 877-330-6366 (Canada), or The Trevor Project at 866-488-7386. If you’d like to talk to a peer, http://warmline.org contains links to warmlines in every state. If you don’t want to talk on the phone, you can reach Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. (**Note: I stole this from Facebook, from Dese’Rae Lynn Stage)
RIP, Amy Bleuel, you have made an impact to many – and I was one of them.

Still Alive

Anyone who follows my Facebook, my blog, or knows me personally knows that I’ve been through a hellish year with processing the traumas of my life, processing a painful and messy divorce, battling suicidal thoughts and intents, battling self harming tendencies, processing my sexual orientation and what it means to be Christian despite it, dealing with the pain of intense self-shame, self-punishment, self-defeat, as well as experiencing all those feelings as I project them onto others, working two jobs while contributing as a Peer Educator, and struggling with financial issues.

At the end of the day, we’re on the cusp of the beginning of the final month of the year – I’m still here, after all that shit, I’m still fighting.

I’m going to fail all my classes – in retrospect, that shouldn’t add to more shame for me right?

Then why do I still keep feeling like I’ve wasted an entire semester doing nothing? – Even though, I’ve done more in this semester where my mental health is concerned than I’ve ever done in my life.

The critical voices in my head need to stop.

After all the shit, I should get a medal for still being here. What are 3 F’s in a transcript compared to how I’m still alive?

A Life Saved

I would’ve died if not for S.

I know that statement is dramatic but I am person who quite enjoys adding dramatic flair to the things I say. In any case, dramatic or not, it’s the truth. I’ve been struggling really badly as I’ve mentioned in my previous post so I came up with a plan.

The plan involved alcohol and it involved a large quantity of it so that I could poison myself, fall unconscious, and just die from the effects of alcohol poisoning. It didn’t specifically involve any actual time or place I’d do it so it was a rough plan at best.

Still, S was concerned because a plan is a plan. On Wednesday’s session, he told me to promise him that I would neither buy nor consume any alcohol. He also said to me at the end of the session, “So it seems like it might be good to meet tomorrow”. He usually leaves it up to me whether or not I’d need a second session that week – I almost always say yes because I’m so dependent on him to keep going – but this time, he made the call himself.

I had nodded.

“You think so?” He had asked for confirmation.

“Yeah…” I said before hastily adding, “Probably…” I wanted to see him. I didn’t think I’d be able to get through the night if I didn’t have the hope of seeing him today in my mind. I was going to drive to the liquor store after our session. I felt desperate for an escape. I was hurting too much. I couldn’t bear it any longer.

“Okay… We can agree to just be okay between now and tomorrow?” S asked again.

“Yeah…” I whispered, looking down on the ground the whole time. I felt ashamed of my desire to escape. I felt ashamed that I’m trying to push away the very man who is trying to help me – the only one right now who has any idea how to as well as the one I am the most severely dependent on.

I told him that today in our hour and 45 minutes long session. He definitely has good intuition because he had responded with, “Yeah, I felt like since we talked about your trauma, you had been very distant with me…”

I then admitted that I had been trying to push him away more actively than I have been. I told him that it was because he had seen me at my most vulnerable when I talked to him about my childhood trauma and so now I felt too ashamed to face him anymore. I felt like I had to pull away because I didn’t deserve to face him. I felt like he would be disgusted with me. Who wouldn’t? It was such a shameful experience.

S assured me with no uncertainty that he is there for me. That he does really care. He told me, even during yesterday’s session, that I am not a burden and that he does care and does worry about me. He told me that I seem to forget that very often but no matter how many times I forget that, he will keep reminding me that he’s there. I bawled when I heard that. The amount of concern and love he showed me touched me.

He also told me that I’m at the stage where I really do need him and that it was ok for me to be at that point. I told him that I felt bad because I always seem to go over time lately. I’m almost always taking up 10-20 minutes extra. Today, I took up an extra 55 minutes.

“It’s time well spent,” S said. “It’s time you need and I’m glad to provide it. We’re not wasting time. You’re not wasting my time.”

I felt much better about my guilt after hearing that. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in my own anxiety. It was so easy to hear the critical voice and be afraid of what the critical voice could make me do.

Yesterday, in the midst of my suicidal despair, S told me that, “I think you have a lot of potential, and the ability to create a lot of good in the world. And I think you probably already have. I think if you would have died, it’s not just that people would feel bad, it’s that your presence would no longer be here and you wouldn’t have the positive impact anymore that I believe that you do have on people” It has to be one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. I felt so touched.

“And I meant every word,” S said today when I mentioned it again. I told him that it was hard for me to register such kindness and tell myself that I deserve to hear it because the critical voice tells me that not only do i not deserve happiness and peace, that I also deserve punishment and pain. I told S that whenever people praise me, they are all empty words. It’s hard for the messages to sink in but some do stick around and I do think about them again later down the line.

Anyway, we did talk about a lot more things during the session – things I’d have to hash out more on when I’m more awake, less upset, and less exhausted. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be able to post a “Thought From Therapy” post. For now, I just wanted to point out how amazing S is (I know I say it a lot) and how he has saved my life more than once.

Sure, I may not have died from alcohol poisoning had I really went through with my plan, but at least he cared enough to make me promise not to even attempt it. At the moment, it’s the only thing standing in the way between me and the bottle of liquor I could easily get at CVS, any grocery store, or any liquor store. I thanked him and told him how grateful I was for him. He smiled and nodded. It felt good to tell him that.

I didn’t know how much I needed help and it’s still hard to accept that I do but baby steps, right?

I Had A Plan

I woke up this morning with a semblance of a plan. It wasn’t a good plan – not the kind where you plan for a holiday/vacation. Not the kind where you plan to conquer the day. It wasn’t the kind where you were hopeful and happy. Not at all. Far from it.

I woke up this morning with a half-formed plan to end my life today.

As I lay in bed, groggy from the 4-hour sleep that I’d had, I thought about the Calculus final exam that I had to do at 3.30pm today. I felt more hopelessness heap onto my already full plate.

I thought to myself, “Maybe I’ll do it today. I’ll write an email to everyone who matter. Tell them I’m sorry. Tell them I love them and that I hope they’ll forget about me” – even as I type these words, tears spring to my eyes. I know I can’t do this to people, yet I also can’t stop this despair that I’m enveloped in. I don’t really want to leave the people I love – yet going through each day is getting more and more difficult. More and more painful.

I thought to myself, “I’ll go up to that parking garage that’s across from CAPS after Calculus. Then maybe I’ll just end this suffering…”. It all seemed logical, in my grogginess. It wasn’t a plan backed with real intention because if it was, I’d have gotten up then and written the email. Yet, instead of doing that, I fell back asleep – my mind and body exhausted.

The shift I had from 3.45pm to 4.15am the day before had taxed me mentally and physically. At the end of the day, the restaurant I worked in had been filled with drunken “amateurs” as the bartender put it. Right before we closed, someone had decided to puke all over the door of the women’s bathroom, the floor and even the toilet. It turned out that since I was one of the closing servers, it was my job to clean the disgusting mess. I don’t think I’d ever felt so defeated and broken until that moment.

I thought about how pointless everything is in my life, how painful my memories are, and how triggering everything I am experiencing is lately. Something even more drastic than just cutting off 10 inches of my hair had just happened on Monday and though it’s already Saturday, I have yet had a chance to process the event. I don’t think it’s even really sunk in yet. However, throughout the day, I’ve had brief moments that triggered a landslide of negative emotions.

SH, someone I met over the Internet because of our mutual struggle with suicide, had recently volunteered to be my “human” – someone he says, who listens without judgment, who provides what a therapist/psychologist provides but instead of only an hour a week, every day as needed, someone who is just there to help and support. He checks in on me almost every day, usually with a simple, “You ok?”. He keeps me accountable lately.

He tells me that what I’m feeling is normal. That it’s to be expected. It is a fresh wound. A wound that I haven’t even acknowledge is there yet, let alone treat. S had been helping me talk about some of the things that this wound entails but I haven’t yet allowed myself to look at it. If I don’t move too suddenly, I won’t even notice the wound there but sometimes I forget that it’s there so I accidentally jostle it and blood gushes from it, hence the triggering moments throughout my day.

Tonight, I accidentally found some photos of a time when things were a little simpler – times when I was momentarily happy – and I jostle the wound again. It reminded me of the plan I had this morning. It makes me cry to think about it. It makes me cry when I back myself into a corner and convince myself that I’m better off disappearing from people’s lives. I don’t really know why I cry. I just know that I hurt so much that I can’t stop the tears.

As I sit here with my tears, heaviness in my chest and pain in my broken heart, I remember what S said to me on Thursday as I sat in his office; at that time, I was also telling him how meaningless everything seems to be for me. I told him how afraid I was to lose him, to lose the attention I get from him every week. If I can lose this one thing that I thought I’d have for many more years to come, what more him? I remember now what he said to me.

He said, in his gentle, kind voice, “Jules, I don’t know if this makes a difference but whether you’re sitting here or whether you’re out there, I do care about you. I do feel connected to you, you matter to me. And even when you’ve graduated, even when we don’t see each other anymore, you’re still going to matter to me…”

When I heard that on Thursday, I couldn’t stop the tears that came. I can’t stop it now as I remember his words. As I think about this anchor in my life, I realize that there is the slightest glimmer of light in all this darkness. Even if I have to rely on him to get back up, I think I’m going to do it. I have to.

Although S has said that he cares for me many times now, I still don’t take his words to heart. There’s always some kind of doubt attached to it; part of it has to do with my own critical voice who tells me that I’m pathetic for relying on my psychologist and not someone closer (like a family member or a friend for example) and part of it has to do with my own fears of putting trust in someone who might/could leave. After all, things happen. At any moment, anyone can leave. I’ve experienced this at least a dozen times over now – people I thought I could trust, people I did trust, just up and leave. Now, the latest tear in my heart has left me with a gaping wound – a wound I can’t fill back up.

Anyway… I had a plan this morning. I didn’t go through with it. I don’t know if I’m thankful or not at this moment that I didn’t make that drastic and permanent decision to end my life. At this time, I just know that hearing S’ voice in my head telling me that he cares for me is helping just that little to calm me down.

If only hearing his voice helps lessen the pain and suffering I’m experiencing.

Couldn’t Be Cheered

I had a great therapy session today but the rest of the day sucked and now I’m deep in the pits. I know I should be doing my assignments but I don’t want to.

I’m pretty sure I failed my Calculus final class exam. I didn’t even attempt two of the questions.

I feel like a failure. Hubster tried to cheer me up but I felt bad that I couldn’t be cheered up.

I just want to hurt myself. I know I shouldn’t but I really want to feel something other than this deep pain in my chest and this hopelessness.

 

Oh also, on a different note, two different people told me today that I can’t possibly be depressed because I just look so lively and so happy. *sigh* I’m not upset with them for thinking that because I do present as happy and jovial in my demeanor. I just don’t like showing my depressed side.

Tired of Not Being OK

It has been a difficult day. I’ve been struggling with my program all day and I don’t even know what it is that I’m really struggling with. I just know that I know what I want to create but I don’t know how to go about it.

My Computing Professor told us before that when we say we don’t know how to make something, it’s because we don’t really know what we want to make. I’m pretty sure I know what I am trying to do but I’ve had moments where I’ve wondered if I really do.

Of course, all day today I’ve been questioning my place in Computer Science and whether I can cut it. If I am struggling so hard in this class (which is the beginner class), I don’t know how I’ll survive the next Computing class because that’s actually a weed-out class.

I texted the friend who is responsible for influencing my decision to go down this path and he told me that the project that I’m currently working on, “Cryptography”, was also the same project that made him wonder if he was cut out to be a programmer/computer scientist. It made me feel a little better hearing that because he is, aside from my genius husband, the most intelligent person I’ve ever met. He’s so much more talented than I am in the field of math and computer science. So to hear and to know that he had such a hard time with this project a year ago when he took this class, is comforting. Now, he’s one of the best in the program.

This friend of mine, C, tells me that that he believes that I can do it and that I am smart enough to get through Computer Science. Of course, this puts a lot of pressure on me. And today I realized that this is also tied very closely to my problem with shame. I suddenly realized today that I probably feel a different kind of affection for S because he’s the only person in my life who doesn’t have expectations of me. As much as I love the people who make up my support system, I have a self-perceived impression that all these people have expectations of me because they often tell me how much they believe that I can do it. This is related to the shame because I feel ashamed knowing that I don’t believe in myself although they do. I also feel ashamed or at least, I would feel ashamed, if I don’t live up to said expectations. It was an interesting thought – and one that I am looking forward to sharing with S when I see him next week.

Anyway, Hubster told me to take a break from my programming project and go to bed. He said that perhaps sleeping on it will help. I’ve been frustrated all day and earlier when he and I were at the hardware store, I kept looking at all the sharp implements that were in the store and was absentmindedly noting the prices. There was a pocket knife for sale for $4.99 and I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, that’s a pretty cheap and sharp looking knife. Cheap way to go I guess…”.

When I caught myself thinking that, I remembered my verbal promise to S that I would call the crisis line or 911 if I am at the point of harming myself. It was a strong reminder for me to not do anything rash. Still, while I know it’s silly to want to end my life over something as insignificant as a college assignment, at the same time, I can’t help these thoughts. I can’t stop them and I can’t escape them. And no one is more frustrated about it than me.

I am tired and no amount of sleep or rest can heal that. Sure, there are moments of color and some brief moments of what I might describe as “happiness” but there is also so much grey and darkness that these moments of color are too fleeting to grasp.

I’m struggling. I am tired of saying that. I am tired of saying that “I’m not ok but I’ll be fine” to people. I think I lied yesterday when I told S that I was feeling hopeful. I really don’t feel hopeful, no matter how much people tell me that things are going to be ok or that I’ll be ok.

At The Edge of Giving Up

I just had the biggest meltdown that I could ever remember having. I cried all through my 10 minute shower, I tried to talk to Hubster and when that threatened to devolve into an argument, I retreated and cried some more. Then later, I went back downstairs, hugged him and told him that I didn’t deserve such a kind and patient husband. Then I cried so much more.

I told him of all the things that I’ve been feeling and thinking today. The trigger was the 78% that I got in my Calculus exam. I left the exam feeling confident that I was going to get at least a B+ despite knowing that I’ve made a few mistakes. When I saw that it was a 78, I was so disappointed.

All kinds of irrational thought flooded into my head – too many to list them all but among the most prominent being, “You’re such a disgrace. You don’t deserve to work at the Math Assistance Center when you can’t even ace your exam!”, “Hah. And you think you can make it as a computer scientist? You don’t even know how to do basic Calculus. How can you go on to do Calc 2 and Calc 3?”, “You’re never going to make it as a computer science major. You barely understand programming and it’s already mid semester!”, “You work three jobs and you’re still barely making any money. You’re pathetic and you’re just wasting time!”, “You keep making your husband feel like you hate him. You treat him with such contempt. You’re a horrible human being for being so cruel, selfish and unkind. He’s your husband. How could you?”, “You’re awful. People’s lives are better off without you”, and worst of all, “You’re so much of a coward that you don’t even have the guts to take your own life!”

It was like getting beat down and punched in the gut over and over again in a street fight, except this all happened in my head and the abuser was my own mind – maybe a depression-influenced mind, but still my own nonetheless.

Hubster tried to assuage me but I wouldn’t have it. I would counter everything he said. I finally just sobbed and told him the I feel like I should just die, that his life would be better without me in it because then he doesn’t have to put with me and my terrible behavior anymore. It’s the same pattern over and over and I reasoned with him that he must be sick of it by now. He said nothing. Instead, he just sat beside me, half hugged me and kept patting my arm.

Then I decided that I was going to just going to go to bed. I couldn’t cry anymore. As I’m writing this, I feel spent. I feel sore, exhausted and just drained. I wasn’t going to write this but then I saw something on my Facebook feed that came from a random page that curates Steampunk related items. They normally only post Steampunk items but today, they posted this:

image

It was posted 19 hours ago and by right, shouldn’t have even showed up on my feed anymore since I had just refreshed it. Yet, somehow, it did. It showed up and I read it.

For some reason, a page that never ever talks about anything other than Steampunk posted this message. And I happened to read it. I am amazed by the timing – this and many other reasons is why I believe, despite my self loathing, that there is a God who is looking after me, even when I don’t believe I deserve His love.

I don’t know what tomorrow will be like. I will see S on Wednesday so at least if I can hang on until then, help will be there. I also have group therapy tomorrow so even if I don’t find what I need tomorrow at group, I know I can pull one of the two therapists aside and talk to them if I need to.

For tonight, I think the kind words from my friend, B, and the uplifting words from this Steampunk page on Facebook will carry me through the rest of the night.