Trauma is a bitch. The anxiety it causes following the trauma, leaves The Unknown as a bundle of fear and worry, rather than excitement and mystery. Today I have seen that no matter what place I am in, the unknown has become my worst enemy, whereas it used to provide me with that rush of adrenaline and a buzz of excitement for what might be. And the fact that generally I never have really had any idea of my plans at any future length, I always embraced and wrapped my arms around this mystery of life.
But in my last seven or eight months of living in a blinding haze of trauma memories and anxiety, the unknown has become my worst enemy, no matter how much I try to rationalise it or see it as exciting, or intriguing…or simply just not what I need to think of right now so quit the stressing, woman. And that’s what pisses me off.
I long to be able to relax and ease into the fact that I don’t know what’s gonna happen. I long to be able to be how I used to be and embrace the fact that I have no idea where I am headed in life. I long to be able to see how many skills, abilities and talents I have that will lead me far. I long to not look at what could go wrong. I long to not spend my days in fear of falling apart again. Of completely and utterly going mad, and falling of the wagon.
The more I learn about trauma and the more I learn about myself, I see that all these fears and inabilities of trusting the future and the unknown, are stemmed from a lifetime of evidence of things going tits up. Especially in the latter year. I overdosed. This is enough to leave you living in a constant, daily fear that any decision I make will lead me to that. And it is so so frustrating. I hate it and just long to be able to let go of this worry. But I do see that beneath this layer of fear is a lot of self love – to try and take your own life away is, in my opinion, the most destructive thing you can do to yourself. And I don’t want to do it again. Or more, I don’t want to be in the place of wanting to do it again and so I want to do every tiny little thing possible to not be. And to me this means I have a tonne of love for myself that I am not giving proper acknowledgement.
That day I saved my own life. I freaked out and called the ambulance. My fingertips could not stop calling. Every inch of me wanted to hang up and leave it be, but for some reason I just couldn’t. It was the weirdest thing I have ever experienced and will never forget it. It was like something within me was rising up and taking charge. Every time I went to hang up, I couldn’t. I just kept on talking to the emergency controller. I kept on telling her my location. I didn’t want to, I wanted to let it be. But I couldn’t.
So in an act of total self destruct, self hate and self loathing, came the most self loving thing you can do: save your own life. This feels so profound to have experienced, and the latter is the one that I forget. I focus on the fact that I overdosed. I focus on all the facts around that, and what led up to it. But I don’t focus enough on the fact that in my deepest darkest moment, I coped. But I not only coped, I shone through and saved my own life.
Today I realised that the reason I am living in such fear of the unknown and what might be, is because I have drawn up the conclusion that everything I did in the months leading up to the overdose was wrong. It leaves me analysing everything that I do now, and if what I am doing feels familiar to that time before the overdose, my stomach ties itself in a anxious knot and doesn’t let go until I stop what I’m doing or continue doing it but soften my mind with rationalising the fact that so much is different now. So much. Where I am now and what I am doing now is so different to where I was and what I was doing in the months leading up to the overdose. Sure, there is a lot that is the same, but that is bound to be because I am still me.
The thing that I want to really grasp a hold onto, is the fact that what if actually, all that I did leading up to it was okay? It wasn’t wrong. It wasn’t right. It was what it was, and it was me doing my best. It is a long and complicated story behind what happened in the months before and what happened the days before I overdosed, but in a little nutshell: I was beginning to fall apart slowly. I developed PTSD and severe anxiety, and it was brewing slowly, and not so slowly, whilst living a winter in the beautiful Northern California. On a week in my home hub San Francisco, in between changing location, I spoke with my mother (the root cause of a fundamental proportion of the PTSD). The phone call was hideous and horrible and full of so much hate, which was completely normal but I had not spoken to her for the whole six months I had been out there and diving into therapy, for the first time in my life. So suddenly I found myself speaking with the root trigger, and to ice this trigger cake, she laid down such a traumatic phone call. And it tipped me over the edge. Hanging up, it was as though I enveloped a black cloud of severe depression and I simply checked out. It was too much for my already fragile being. That evening I almost overdosed. 48 hours later, I did. It was as simple, and as fucked up, as that. I had not spent the months before dreaming about it. I had not spent hours and hours planning my attempt. I just did it. And that is what, in many ways, was the most scary. One sunny Californian afternoon I went to the park, sat beneath a tree, wrote a note and swallowed 150 Tylenol. Thinking, that with every inch of my being I wanted no more. It felt tragic, it felt sad, but it felt the only option and the one that I just had to do – there was no way I could cope anymore.
But what I didn’t know was that it wasn’t every inch of me thinking, believing and wanting that. There was that extra strong inch that kicked in and pushed through and made the call. And at the time, and often in the moments that followed, I hated that inch. But I now love it, and am learning to love it and know that it is always there, no matter what. That inch of survival always seems to cling on and kick in, in the deepest and scariest moments.
So, what if actually, all the months leading up to the overdose are not something I need to look at and work out what I could have done differently? What if the overdose, as I have been told, was a blip along my path? Sure, I was on my way to my breakdown, and that breakdown happened (and sometimes still feels as though it is flippin’ happening). But what if this breakdown is a sign of pure health, and pure health to come? What if the overdose was just triggered by a traumatic call with my mother, not by the months leading up to it? It just happened to get wrapped up in a haze of events, and due to the intensity, the overdose is the thing that I cling onto as the thing that perhaps I could have avoided if I had just done things differently.
As I sit here and see that this really is true – that the overdose and the trauma that followed, was purely as a result of an overwhelming and mind numbingly painful conversation with my mother. Nothing else.
When I think like this, The Unknown feels exciting. It does not feel something I need to overanalyse and worry that my decisions and path will take me to where it did before. It feels true. It feels an inspiring mystery. And it feels like something I can begin to wrap my arms around again and know that it is going to be okay.