My breakdown, when I hit the wall, was about 3 years ago; since then I have been in recovery. The ‘wall’ was the realization I had been abused as a child. When I say ‘realisation’ I mean … I mean an all-consuming melt down (I could attempt to re-iterate this last sentence too but I can’t describe the intensity).
I want to convey something to you reader. I want to help you and by doing that and by writing this, it will help me too. I want this to be pragmatic – a ‘how to’. This is a ‘what I put in my kit bag’ blurb.
You are on an Odyssey (see Victims no Longer, Mike Lew) and you need, metaphorically, to know how to build a shelter, how to find food and water, how to be safe … we need to grind this down to basic survival skills for the survivor going through recovery.
Recovery is possible. It does exist. You can get through this but getting from A to B is easier if you have a map and the tools.
I’m scared of heights; don’t know why and frankly I’m not going to bother combating this fear; I just don’t go up things. Having said that I feel I have spent the last 3 years climbing a sheer rock face often in freezing sleet. The other day the piton came out (that’s the spike the climber puts in every so often so as to be fastened to the cliff face), just when I thought I’d reached the top! I thought: finally I’m done with this stuff. I’ve sobbed and sobbed, I’ve dry wretched, I’ve blamed, I’ve analysed, I’ve evaluated, I’ve learnt, I’ve been brutally honest with myself, I’ve talked, I’ve learnt more, I’ve analysed more, I’ve spoken out, I’ve slept and slept, I’ve convulsed, I’ve despaired, I’ve been throttled and choked by hopelessness, I’ve created self-worth, I’ve listened, I’ve lapsed, I’ve spat venom, I’ve taken responsibility, I’ve found inner peace – then, when I could see light consistently … the piton came out.
So, the fall seems almost worse because it’s loaded with disappointment. How can this be happening? If I’ve come this far and still fall, then surely it can only mean hopelessness. Like before I started this journey, no matter what I do, no matter how hard I try it’s going to be against me. I am a creature that is destined for suicide, aren’t I? Self-destruction is the antidote. I am alone. I don’t fit. This life is not for me. It’s just not going to work.
Firstly, I remember something I learnt: I can be wrong.
I’ve been here before: hopeless despair. Don’t get me wrong – this is not a familiarity I foster. You see I decided at the beginning that I am going to take responsibility for my journey, and I’m aware that wallowing in self-pity has its limits, its natural but it is not a haven. Yes, self-pity is familiar and seems safe but I made a pact with myself. I made a choice and that is to beat this trauma; to weaken its pain and effect on me. That’s a choice I can make. Wallowing in self-pity can ultimately only mean re-victimising myself i.e. choosing to be a victim. Ok, there’s a balance and we are all different – we need to experience the pain but when, if you’re honest, does that re-experiencing switch from expulsion to re-inflicting upon yourself because it’s familiar. Has it become your label?
I can look up and to the light because I’ve been in it and it feels good.
I’m not being righteous here, I’ve lapsed many times.
The fall is familiar. My stomach grinds with chronic, debilitating angst. I am falling. All possibilities except destruction close off. I want to curl up and sob and coldly step off this life, this is unfair and too much to bear.
So what do I do? You know what? I have an almost military recipe!
- I decided at the start of my journey I’m not going to kill myself. Why not? Because I know, ‘though impossible to image at the time – the feeling will pass. I have no business killing little Greg. The wonderful boy that lives inside that endured so much and made it this far! I have a responsibility. I grasp this and hold it. Once I made the decision and decided to stick to it then regardless, the decision has been made so I don’t have to wrestle with the concept of suicide. Whatever, I choose life. So therefore … I don’t get angst about whether I should or shouldn’t because I have previously made the decision! A close friend, like a brother, took his own life. I saw the devastation to others it caused. Think. You know you’d regret it. Make the decision now, then it’s done.
- Oh yes, there’s all sorts of rational and reason to end it all, they always come along, but they go. No matter how tuneful and right those thoughts are, they evaporate, eventually. I deal with them and I carry on. I’ve done it before and so I acknowledge I have hit a ‘patch’. Just a patch. It’s hard. It hurts, but it’s just a patch. It’s normal. It’s to be
- I accept the situation. I accept that the darkness is getting me. You see, once you accept a situation you can deal with it. When I accept, panic dissipates. This happening. I feel like this and that’s ok.
- I stop. I stay in the moment. It’s hard. I want to run. I want to numb; to destruct. I recognize. Once I recognize that I am in emotional pain I can stay in the moment longer. I can stay with it. Each second that passes I am winning. The feeling may grip harder at first, but I hold fast to the knowledge it will weaken. And it does.
- I breathe. I breathe in. I breathe out. That’s all I have to do. I only have to breathe. I breathe in; I breathe deep. I hold. I breathe out. My breath stutters. I breathe deep. The feeling attacks again. It’s the feelings’ desperation – I know this – just trying its worst.
- I can do this. I can get through. I will get through. Full f**king stop! F**k off despair!
- I reach out. I could write a book on this. Reaching out is important. I don’t expect much back so any return is good. Nowadays I don’t judge any misinformed, clumsy, seemingly judgmental, or non-response. All response is good.
- NO ONE IS GOING TO CARRY ME THROUGH – IT’S MY RESPONSIBILTY! It doesn’t seem fair. It isn’t. I accept that. I must accept that. My survival is my responsibility. My safety net is what? You’re reading it! I acknowledge and give gratitude for all support. I AM NOT ALONE. I think I am but that’s just the feeling playing tricks.
- Perhaps a healthy-ish treat. I eat an orange. I savor a cup of tea. I breathe. I rest. I walk in a familiar pre-planned non combative place. I put one foot in front of the other. I know with each second the feeling is passing. It may change form but it will give. I am doing the right thing for me. I may sleep. If I’m angry I throttle the living [email protected] out of a cushion. I don’t whir round, I get it out but without damage.
- Maybe I will sob. Good. I go with it. I sob. I wring it out.
- I tell myself I am fantastic. I tell myself I love myself. Just now they may just be words, but they do help. They help stem the bleeding. I can do this. I owe it to myself. My survival is my revenge.
- I wait. I stay with myself. I breathe and I look towards patience. I am patient with myself. This is all ok. I’ve been here before. You have been here before. She has been here before. He has been here before. This is not unusual. It is not exclusive to me!
- I begin, when I am ready, to project forward. Maybe I let go and float. I force positives into my mind and then positives will come. I have a pre catalogue of good times in my mind. I bring one in. I’m digging my way out. I’m getting traction, even if I’m floating. Everything is right.
The above is my CPR routine. I’ve learnt actual CPR. I’ve done CPR in a live situation. If you have a plan, a blueprint, it helps. It makes it easier. You can accept what is happening to you and you can more easily pull yourself through. If you have pre-decided what you will do in a crisis then it’s easier to do the right thing and get through.
There’s on-going maintenance. Get yourself a programme. Listen to others. Talk to others. Share. It may bruise at times but it’s better than not. Your programme is yours. Their programme is theirs. Take what you like and ignore the rest. Offer respect and give yourself respect and acknowledge respect. They didn’t abuse you. Read about being a survivor. Make the effort. You’re doing it for you! Move towards being healthy. Eat healthy. Do healthy. You’re a beautiful creature. Treat yourself well. You may lapse, that’s normal just carry on. Get back on the programme.
Paint a picture of a happy to be you you. It doesn’t come just like that. But, how else are you going to get somewhere if you ain’t got an idea in your head?!
It’s your responsibility! You can do it – hey you’ve come this far and you know what? You’ve done a great job! You’ve a lot to be proud of. You’re unique and special and just like everybody else.
Use that adult you that resides within us all. That reasonable rational adult. The you that is fair and decent and cares. Give that adult you a plan.
Love yourself every day.