Rose tainted lens

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Lately I’ve noticed how much I resist being in the ‘now’ because my life doesn’t look like how I want it to. It doesn’t look ANYTHING like how I thought it would, dreamt it would, believed it would, hoped it would, or wanted it to like…so it just means I fucking hate a lot about the ‘present’, if I really let myself be in it…like, proper in it. Not just mindfulness within myself, my body, but mindfulness of everything around me. Not just the trees, the birds singing, the beautiful sun shining through the clouds…I mean really looking at where I am geographically, in front of me and on the map, and really breathing that in and really noticing how that makes me feel.

Heartbreak. Hatred. Longing. Hating. Wanting. Wishing. Hoping…they are normally the sensations and feelings I notice. When I’m being mindful with a little bit of me left outside of the ‘now’ and sitting in imagined reality, then I have a bit of peace. I have a bit of hope. I am not left in a pit of wondering how the FUCK I got here…wondering where the FUCK I am going. When I allow myself to daydream or to look at the present a little differently, a little with rose tainted glasses and a hopeful grin, I am okay with where I am. But when I look at it with what feels like ‘real eyes’, I almost cannot handle it. Hence hardly doing it very often.

This is not where I want to be. This is not who I thought I would be. This is not what I wanted to be. This is not what I was going to be. This is not what I was going to do.

Is this being twenty-something? Is this me still finding my feet with where I find myself in adulthood? Is this me ‘coming to terms with’ the person I am becoming? Is this me wondering where on earth I am going? I laughed when I wrote those last two questions. ‘Coming to terms with the person I’m becoming’…that feels sad, but quite funny, that I would write that!

I feel like imagination and rose tainted glasses, make things hopeful. I see things how I want to see them. But maybe this is okay? Because it keeps me happy. It keeps me from feeling the grief, the pain, that I feel when I really see myself for where I am now. The grief and pain of when I look at my life how it is now doesn’t overwhelm so intensely, when I have on my rose tainted glasses.

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Another thing I’ve noticed, with the refusing to allow or accept for where I’m at, is the resistance towards feeling supported by the world, life, the universe. “When I look back, I see only miracles”, is one of my favourite quotes (I have no idea who it’s by…) but when I hate how much my life has not felt like mine, and how much it’s felt like a dream, I cannot help but feel MEGA resistance to the fact that actually, when I look back, I have always been so, so, so looked after by life and where I have found myself. I have always, always, had what I need…in times I have had NO idea how it would come to me.

But this feeling of being in a dream and this feeling of life not really belonging to me, not being truly mine – the idea that I am not where I wanted or should or ever thought I would be, feels at the root of this resistance. And it kinda makes sense.

How am I supposed to be grateful, when where I find myself is not where I want to be? How am I supposed to feel looked after when the support is for a life I didn’t think I would lead? How am I supposed to allow myself to grieve for what was, when I don’t fucking like what is now. Sure there is a shit tonne of beauty, but there always is, wherever I am. Thing is, the rest of what is, is shit…it’s not where I want to be. But I can look at it through the rose tainted, hopeful, glasses. Or I can look at it through the ones that don’t fit me – the glasses that don’t agree with me.

Either way, I do want to feel more present with the present. I do want to be able to sit with the now, more. To sit with where I truly am – rose tainted lens’ or real, uncomfy ones – and be able to be with the feelings, the realisms…I think part of this is growing up, but I also think that part of this is recovering from the overdose. I remember my therapist saying that people have told her that the time following an attempt is like a ‘bad trip’. I’ve never had a bad trip, I don’t even really think I’ve ever had any kinda trip (except for ones involving rucksacks). But I defo feel like that’s how I feel – like my life is a trip, a dream, a surreal – so surreal – time that I keep expecting to wake up from.

And I know this isn’t a dream, and it hasn’t been a dream (at a lot of points I have definitely said it’s felt like a fucking nightmare) but I do feel as though I’m waking up, slowly. My eyes feel like they’re opening wider than they were before. They’re letting more of life in, and letting more of love out. And all the other shit too. I do feel like I’m waking from a dream, and where I’m finding myself is reality. And I’m getting a bit of a shock.

But I reckon this is probably a good thing. A really, really, healing thing. I just need to stop trying to drown out the feelings that I’m waking up to, too…

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It wasn’t for me.

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Right now, I’m writing a piece about my overdose with the hope to get it published and seen. As I write it, I’ve been swinging between concise, conscious writing, and just allowing myself to free-write all over the page, because I can’t seem to stop myself. It’s a bit fucking annoying, but I also feel like it’s part of the process. Talking with a friend last night she said to just let it happen – let the words spill out if they need to. This Is Writing. I realise that hours and hours can so often go into writing just one thing, but I just want it to be concise and easier! I just want to have my words all neatly packed in paragraphs so I don’t have to fucking sort through them afterwards to edit and filter what I want.

But I think I realise this isn’t me, nor will it ever be me. I’m not entirely sure why I thought it would be any different this time round. When I think back to uni, and any other piece I’ve written, I’ve exploded thousands of words onto the page and only used half of them, or less. Part of me does neat and tidy, concise and ‘together’, but the other parts of me Do. Not. And that’s creativity.

Anyway, as I was writing just a moment ago, I was in a phase of spilling the words out onto the screen – them hitting the blank page before I realise what they say – and I found myself writing this:

“It’s a place that I think I needed to visit to know it wasn’t for me. I think it’s a place I needed to visit to know it wasn’t for me.”

I had to write it twice because it blew my mind. I was referring to my overdose, and I was referring to that time in my life. I spend so much in time in total fear and terror that it’s going to happen again. Not because I want it, but because it’s trauma. And trauma can make you feel deluded to the truth, and make you feel terrified that it’s going to happen again. It’s not a case of rationality or reason, it’s a case of terror and a lack of sense of freedom. So when I wrote that just now, it almost made me cry. Instead I found myself sat with a gaping mouth at the screen… maybe this is really true. Maybe it won’t happen again, maybe it was somewhere I needed to go to know that it wasn’t me.

To know that time in my life was perhaps a place I needed to go to find the deepest, darkest medicine that I could ever get. To know suicide is not for me. To know that following the path of my mother wasn’t, and isn’t, for me either. To know that I am who I am today because of what happened, and everything else too. To know that my fear of it happening again, is just a fear. It really was just a stage, a time, a chapter, a nugget of sea salt in this entire ocean of my life blows me away. But I think  I really knew that. I think I always have. I think I’ve always known that I won’t go back there again, but  the fear of really giving myself that feels greater than living with the fear and the hypervigilance that it might…because that’s known ground – the confidence is wayyyyy foreign territory.

As I heal though, and as I type this, I find myself frowning at the screen…do I really feel that? I really do… and that shows me I’m healing because these norms and these levels of thinking or ways I’ve believed I need to live in, aren’t truth anymore. I’m discovering newer and healthier ways of being that are relevant and are real. Like living with trust – for myself and for my life, and for the universe around me.

That’s nice. I’m off to eat some food and – temporarily – drag me out of this writing stuper I’m in. It’s not a bad one, but sometimes I feel like I realise things that literally blow my mind out of my room and into next door’s garden…I think that just happened with what I wrote about, so I best go find it and celebrate.

Love.

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The waves meet the shore

For so long I’ve seen my suicide attempt as a mammoth mega awful crime that I did. I’ve been swamped with shame and guilt and trauma around just my own self judgement about it. There has been compassion for myself in there too but not enough of it. But recently I’ve noticed a shift. And I know it’s down to EMDR. I’m remembering the event with a light of love and support and not the dark and intensely isolating and terrifying time it was. Because there was also a load of love in there too – a TRUCK LOAD. I can literally feel my brain reprogramming and remembering the event for what it truly was, rather than looking at it through the lens of my own deep & dark self judgement and the lens of my terror. Each time I rest these past few days, something else has shifted. The healing happens when you sleep, following EMDR. It does what REM sleep does. I wake up feeling like another little nugget has shifted, has healed.

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Last night I had a proper sob about my missing of California. Fuck I miss it, a lot. It was the culture, the landscape, the people. There I felt like I was seen. In England I’ve never felt that, until now. Despite what happened I was in love with that place. My soul shone and so did the rest of me. But there was the wounded part of me that was struggling and had been for a long long time, and then crumbled and collapsed in the wake of speaking with my mom…and overdosed.

But what’s different is that the memories that are surfacing are ones where I had support to share the experience with too. Rather than remembering the times of terror, I am now beginning to feel the sense of support I had around it too. It was a truly terrifying and haunting time – one that brings a knot so tight I could hurl, when I think of the details – but it was also a beautiful and really defining time too.

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Just how I can look back on my childhood and wish for it to be different, I could and have looked back at certain aspects of the overdose and wished for this too. This has been so painful. It’s like I’ve been unable to integrate the goodness and the pain, the love and the isolation. The memories of the time have felt so so so disjointed and so split – in many ways it was a terrifying nightmare but yet in other ways it was a beautiful loving and mindblowingly supportive time. But these two angles have never felt like they’ve met each other, and got to know one another…I’ve just felt lost in the waves of be aftermath. Not all shitty messy waves but all really split and confusing.

But now these waves are meeting and kissing the shore of health. They’re beginning to land on the beach and walk barefoot together, painting a picture of that time that closely encompasses all of it – the pain, the joy, the relief, the sorrow, the love, the support. Because, as with everything, there is always a combination of all of it, it just is healing enough to find it and let the waves meet at the shore. Sometimes we can do it ourselves, other times we need a helping hand from a therapist to unlock the anchors that had been rocking around in our waves for hours or days or years before.

And now, after all this wave talk, I just want a good surf.

Keeping schtum

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My last post talked about the juicy subject of guilt…something I thought I was in the depths of feeling, but now I realise this guilt quickly became shame, I just didn’t clock on. Shame literally does no good. It feels like something that riggles its way so subtly into your life, only to sit there and fester, turning your days into depressive inner chatter and withdrawal, isolation and self hatred…all coming from somewhere you can’t quite put your finger on, or without you even realising it beginning to happen.

That’s what it’s been like for me. This last week has been so bizarre. I have lost myself to the above scenario, and I have felt overwhelmed by it, but unable to get out of it no matter how much positive self talk or love I try to give myself. It’s all been shame based on what I did last year. All based on the fact that I attempted suicide… and all the self-judgement that has come from this. I have literally had to force myself to see friends, with a constant dialogue of “why are you still my friend, you shouldn’t be, I shouldn’t be here with you trying to be funny and normal after what I did, you must think I am so awful, I am awful…” running through my head. I have managed to perfect the art of avoiding talking about it when I do speak to friends because the vulnerability it takes to share this is WAY too much, and way too daunting…and I’m scared.

But tonight I asked a friend on the phone: “you don’t think any less of me because of what I did last year, do you?”… There was a pause and she laughed: “I can’t work out whether you’re being serious – is that a trick question?!” I went on to laugh too, but say that no it really wasn’t and I was totally serious… She went on to reassure and say lovely things. It felt like medicine. And it made me realise that when we get left with our guilt or self-criticism, doubt, and judgement, it becomes a big ugly bear that follows us around. To us it becomes massive, inconsolable and all encompassing. But when we share, the empathy and love, immediately softens it down.

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“Empathy is the antidote to shame.  If you put shame in a petri dish it needs three things to grow exponentially, secrecy,silence and judgement.  If you put the same amount of shame in a petri dish and dose it with empathy it cannot survive.”

Brene Brown

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Speaking with my therapist yesterday, she called this ‘toxic shame’. The shame that grows and grows when kept isolated from people, and the kind of shame that can only be healed, soothed, or told to sod off, through love. Without risk of sounding cheesy, that really is how it works. Since hearing that, I realise that really is true. It is love from mother/father or boyfriend/girlfriend that is the key to this passing, apparently. But, seeing as I don’t have those treats in my life, friends are the people I can turn to, to give me that love and reassurance. At least some of it anyway. I realised the beginning of this shame-fest was a tonne of grief about not having a mother to turn to. I suddenly felt an overwhelming and desperate longing for a mum to call up, to visit, and to tell that I overdosed… to have a mum to hug me and tell me it’s going to be okay. To tell me that she doesn’t think badly of me for doing what I did, that I am not any less of a person because of it, to tell me that she understands and that she is here for me always, that she still loves me, and that doing what I did doesn’t change anything… that’s what I needed/need, and after speaking with my therapist I realise that this is an innate human need that I was experiencing. But something that has been so blocked from my radar out of pure unavailability that I didn’t know what to do with it, so I buried it out of fear. As well as the scenario above with my friend on the phone, I have had two other times I have shared this shame briefly with a friend and immediately I just cried…simply hearing someone tell me all that I needed to hear, the shame just cannot help but disappear, even if for just that brief moment. This proves the love theory to be true.

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“Shame works like the zoom lens on a camera. When we are feeling shame, the camera is zoomed in tight and all we see is our flawed selves, alone and struggling.”

Brene Brown

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The other day, in the midst of this ‘aftermath of an overdose’ shame-fest emotional shenanigans that I was experiencing, I was longing to pick up something and read experiences of other people’s journey with their healing of suicide…in every little detail. Not just the overall paragraph about it. Like, each and every nitty gritty and not-so pretty detail that only those who have attempted suicide can truly know. I couldn’t find it, and so this is why I want to document this journey. The feelings feel so alien, intense and bizarre…and SO flippin’ hard to express – in my journal, through the blog or in person. And given the nature of the topic, it feels hard to truly trust it is safe to share. So, instead, I need to keep typing and keep on finding my way back to the keyboard, and hope the spoken words will come properly soon.

This week  has felt like I am learning how to do things from the beginning again. But maybe this is just a deeper level of healing. Letting love in at the moment feels almost impossible, but is the thing I crave the greatest. I am still allowing it to be around me despite this inability to feel it. I long to just keep schtum, keep withdrawn, keep myself to myself…but I know in my heart that’s not what I want. All I can do is prove this shame wrong. Keep on gently giving myself love or letting it be there from others, despite whatever self hating critical chatter is going on and whatever urge to withdraw and keep schtum is there.

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Shame, sod off.

What they don’t tell you about the aftermath of an overdose

There is so much that I wish I could have been told about these eleven months that would follow that day it all went a bit tits up. There is so much I wish I could have been warned about so I could have been prepared. There is so much I wish I could have had a chance to get to grips with, before this time of healing and processing hit me hard in the face.

My days are haunted with a fear that it’ll happen again. Not because I want it to, but because it happened once, so why would it not happen again? This can sound confusing, and something I don’t really share, because it sounds as though perhaps I want it to happen again…I most certainly DO NOT. So I fear sharing this fear with friends, in case it gives the impression that I am leaning that way again. I most certainly am not. I don’t share this fear because I am scared of raising fear in friends. This fear is here, not out of desire, but out of self-protection. But also because of the PTSD. It has stayed around because part of my mind is still stuck back in the event. Part of me is still on guard in case it happens again. 

This is hypervigilance. It is PTSD. It is not suicidality. Suicidality is a longing…a desire. It’s completely different. This is a fear. Something that shows me that I do not want to do that ever again. If I did, I don’t believe I would be this scared…or this ‘on guard’ CONSTANTLYAs much as I hate this fear, I feel bizarrely reassured because it shows me quite how much I really do not want it to happen again…ever.

But when you have experienced trauma, a natural part of what follows is a fear that it’ll happen again. Mix this with PTSD and it is intensified into a seemingly uncontrollable fear. I have now learnt that with counteracting and reassuring self-talk, this is something that can slowly be softened. But sometimes it can’t. It feels physiological. And in many ways, it is. The experience stays in your bones and in your mind, waiting there to keep you on guard, in case it happens again. My mind still thinks the overdose is happening – the ‘off’ switch has not yet been properly flicked.

I wish someone could have warned me about this fear. There is no desire there at all, there is just pain and fear. I wish someone could tell that inner child in me – the terrified and convinced one – that it is safe to have this fear. It turns out, I am the one that can do that. That needs to do that. And as I have done that – reassured and compassionately explained that I am safe now – this fear is beginning to settle. My distance with the past and my awareness of the present, is ever-increasing. And with this, brings healing.

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The other thing is the self-disgust. The way that I want the world to swallow me up. Not because I don’t want to be here, but because I don’t feel I should be. I tried to take my life away…so what right do I have to be here and live mine?

The way these waves of self-disgust mean I predict the thoughts of others. The way I do not believe that the people around me truly can love me whilst knowing that I took an overdose. I do not understand how this is possible. I do not understand how people do not see me with a different light. I do not understand how people do not see me as someone who should be treated differently…less deserving, less loveable, less like me. I do not understand how the fact that I did this, doesn’t taint everything.

I get swings of confidence. Waves of it. I embrace the fact that I survived. I embrace the fact that I lived through all the pain previous. I don’t judge myself that I got to a place that I couldn’t take it anymore. I see it as just something that happened…just a part of life. I see it in the way I would see someone else’s: full of kindness and compassion, not judgement or hate.

But suddenly something will bring this wave to a quick halt. Always my inner critic’s dialogue. This is what brings these waves of self-confidence, acceptance and love to a tumbling crash. They suddenly remind me of the words, who am I to feel like this? Who am I to think I can be loved after what I did? Who am I to think I won’t be treated differently? 

And then I want the ground to swallow me up all over again. Not because I want it to, but because I don’t see how it shouldn’t.

Those are just two of the many things no one tells you follows an overdose. There are these painful things, sure. But there is also a shed load of positive things that no one tells you follows one too. And with this, is always a knowing that despite how loud your inner critic shouts, your deservability and your lovability is there by the shed load too.

Never do it. I hope you never put yourself in this position. But if you have, know that despite the chaos that this situation brings, there is a tonne of healing that it brings too.

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Love.

Why did I call my mother?

Regret. It’s a nasty word. It’s one that just sometimes can’t help but seep into our bones on the odd occasion. But it is one of the most unhelpful and most draining things for our Soul, that we could do.

I realise, instead of regret, I tend to wonder

Why did I do that? Why did I think it was a good idea to do that? Why didn’t I do that? Why did I not just keep going a little bit more, and push through and finish that project? Why…? 

This wondering can cause a spiral to self-judgement and self-disgust, doubting the decisions I have made and wishing for them to have been different…just that one fucking time. But my Wondering, as much as it has loved to take that path, it seems to prefer the path of inquisition. The Wondering becomes a genuine inquiry into why I did what I did. Not for judgment of myself, but almost like a ‘why’ to the World…to life. Why did that stuff happen, why did I do what I did, life? What was it to bring me next?

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One particular thing that is running through my mind when I think about this is the question…

Why did I call my mother…? 

Two days before the overdose. The thing that fundamentally caused the overdose: a conversation with my mother. Why did I call her? What the FUCK was I thinking?

I had been living in California for 5 months. I hadn’t spoken to her for the entire time. Except for a Skype call on Christmas day, and a phone call a couple of days following, but these didn’t count because she was on her Breakdown/Pre-Psychosis Planet. During these 5 months in Cali my PTSD and anxiety had been developed, had slowly riddled its way into my daily life, and was now what I was facing to deal with. My mother was the main trigger for the PTSD…the main cause of the all the shitty trauma (bar one thing). She was the one that fucking started all of this.

So it just makes sense that she was the one that almost ended it too. In a way it feels logical that she had this role. But I didn’t succeed, and fuck I’m glad I didn’t. But why did I call my mother that day? What was I thinking?

To call The Route Cause Of Your Trauma when you are in the world of reliving it (through therapy or flashbacks), is just plain silly…it is not a done thing in the land of PTSD.

I remember it so well. And I do know what I was thinking. A couple of things. I was thinking how I wanted to try for one last time to have a mum. I needed money…I was skint. I had about $40 to my name. I had some in a savings account, but I needed the telephone number of a distant family member in order to access it. The thing is, I didn’t need to call my mother. I could have called my sister. I could have emailed my mom. In fact, I could have emailed the lady that I needed to phone…I had her flippin’ email address. And I didn’t even need to call her…an email would fucking do.  So why the fuck did I CALL my mom?

There was this part of me that went ahead and dialled her number, despite all the inner instinct that this is not the right thing to do. This part of me that called, wanted to try to see if I could take my mum up on the offer she used to throw at me from time to motherfucking time:

“If I’ve fucked you up so much, I’ll pay for your therapy.”  

I remember this flying out of her mouth. I never did anything with it because, fuck, I was NOT going to therapy. Not to sit there and speak about this fucking lunatic that raised me. That was the last thing I wanted to do. Mainly for her sake, I realise now.

But in California I did. I spent 4 months twice weekly, in therapy.  And so, seeing as I had been spending $100 a week, and this had been a big reason as to why I had dwindled my funds, I remember having a baseline intention for my phone call. I didn’t want to acknowledge it properly at the time, but basically, the reason I was calling my mum up was to see if she would follow through with her offer she used to throw at me for all those years. I wanted to see if, for once, she would be my fucking mother. I wanted to see if she would give me the money I needed.

But she didn’t…she wasn’t.

She was the complete opposite. She was indescribably awful. What came during the call was trauma – another fucking shitload.

In that moment of inquisitiveness…that moment of wondering…I called the person I wanted so much to have changed. I called the person that I KNEW had not, would not, and will not ever change, but the person for whom I had always carried a candle of hope that she might…that this time it would be different…that she might finally be the mom she could be.

I called her because something inside me must have known that I needed this to happen, to bring me to overdose, to bring me to where I am now. That has to be it. That has to be the Why. Why else?

I don’t regret that I called her, I just wish I fucking hadn’t. But I wish that the whole thing – the overdose and what followed – didn’t happen. Or didn’t need to happen. But when I sit and wonder what would have happened had I not called her, I see that actually what followed this call, really was something that needed to happen. As fucked up as it sounds, I think I needed to overdose. The way I work is that I don’t do things in moderation. I either do them or I don’t. I needed a kick up the ass, a rebirth, a transformation, to enable me to crumble and fall, and ultimately: heal.

I regret that my mother was the trigger for this. I regret that she got this role in this story. But she got this role because in those twenty minutes when I needed her most, she showed her true colours. She showed me her what she is made of. She had shown me what she was made of for the 24 years previous, but I had not been in therapy, or been out of the situation enough to truly see her. That day in San Francisco was different. I had begun to create the me that was solely me, and not her, and calling her took me right back to her. And this shit and abuse that came with it.

So actually, I don’t mind that she plays this part in this story. Because, for once, I get to show the world what a true mess it was. She was.

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The Shame of a Suicide Attempt

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The past days have felt blitzed with anger and hate. For the world and for myself. In my eyes, there seems to be two types of anger. We all have those ‘natural’ anger states that kick up as a result of our thoughts/thought processes about something, be it in the present or in the past. But then there is the other anger that follows something like PTSD. It is the anger that rushes through your body, knocking each cell into a raging frenzy. It is this anger that is triggered. ‘Flooding’ happens. Flooding of rage, fury, hatred for yourself and others. You literally can only see red. All you can do is ride it out, bring yourself back to the Earth, let the thoughts just be thoughts (no matter how intrusive they are) and grip onto the glimpses of calm, rationality and light that flutter in, in the midst of this Angry/Hating Flood.

I was trying to work out where all this anger and blinding hatred was coming from. The triggered kind, but also the other in parts too. For me this is rare for it manifest as all-encompassing as it is now. And then it clicked…

As I’m dwindling off these disgusting drugs and into the delicious reality of my own complete emotions: pure and un-tainted by chemicals, so many feelings have surfaced about my overdose back in April. It has now been almost a little over 9 months, and I see how the journey of healing is so closely linked to the journey of time. With the months that pass, so do feelings about what happened. And new ones come in their place. And then the circle begins again, and sometimes those old feelings are revisited, only to be found wearing slightly different jackets.

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When I first got home from Cali (where It happened) I remembered feeling a TIDAL WAVE of guilt, shame and embarrassment for what I had done: I had attempted suicide…what the HELL? What the hell was I thinking? How could I be so stupid and SO selfish? How could I think that was a good idea? How could I put everyone through that? What. An. Idiot…What a Selfish Idiot.

For a long time afterwards, and still sometimes since, I felt so much guilt about being happy or having any spell of comfort, joy, or ease… Because of what I did I had a deep feeling of only deserving the worst for doing something like that. This is something I have had to work on since: this inner dialogue of deservability. The foundation of this Inner Critic’s theory of mine, is actually a LOVE FOR LIFE. Because I love it so much and feel it has to be embraced, LIVED, honoured and valued, the fact that I actively tried to take mine away makes me feel (in the eyes of my Critic) as though I should be shamed forever more. My inner critic’s theory goes a little something like this: no one should live a happy, lucky or blossoming life if they have tried to end theirs. They simply do not deserve it.

For the record, this is a load of bullshit. It’s just the way the critic speaks right now. Anyone and everyone – suicide attempt survivors or other – deserve a beautiful life. ALWAYS. We all have our inner critic and inner dialogue of self-hate-ridden theories…and this, sadly, is one of mine.

But, I’m working on it.

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These feelings of guilt for what I put my friends through, embarrassment for what they may think, shame for what I did have continued to come in gentle (and at times, not-so) waves for the last nine months. And right now, I am in a roaring tussle with this tide of emotions.

There are other waves that come through, and have always. The more beautiful and loving kind, of self-compassion, forgiveness, understanding, sorrow, pain, grief and my utmost gratitude for my friends and all that they did around that time. But right now I am wearing the Self Hatred wetsuit, and those gentle waves feel far on the horizon, with the ripple of shame closest to shore.

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I hate myself for what I did. So I want the world to hate me too. For the first time in my life I notice myself purposely wanting to PISS those around me OFF so they don’t want to be with me. So they hate me as much as I hate myself. So those that loved me and were there for me unconditionally over the initial overdose aftermath, and all these months following, realise they made a mistake. So they realise they don’t actually love me like they say they do, and then they’ll stop being so damn loving and supportive and wonderful. So that me hiding myself away from the world, will mean people will forget me and will see me for my true Selfish Ugly colours. So that by me swimming in this wave of self hatred for myself, I will turn into an Ugly Duckling, with no shine, no spirit and no lovability left.

That would all be so much easier, wouldn’t it….? NO. No it wouldn’t. Yet no matter how much I remember that I actually know this is a load of trash, my mind becomes distorted with past trauma and a post trauma state. Emotionally and physically it just feels as though it would be so much easier if the world hated you and everyone in it did too.

Because, when you hate yourself so much, why should anyone love you? The truth is though Friends, that is a big load of bullshit too. No matter how much you hate yourself or you feel determined to push friends away because of what you did, they are still there.

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Splash in the Shallows of Self-Hatred if you need to (I do believe that sometimes we need to feel whatever it is we are battling against, so we then realise how much we hate it), but please allow yourself permission to refrain from diving into the Tidal Wave of Self-Hatred. This can so easily turn into the Sword of Self-Destruct, and nobody deserves this. Or the self hatred bit either. For me it hasn’t become self destruct the past few days, and for me this is a MEGA, HIGH-FIVE WORTHY, achievement. Hell yeah. This is healing, baby. However, self-destruct does appear in subtle ways, not just the literal physical ways.

This shame that follows a suicide attempt, can become self-destruct in Splashes of Self-Sabotage kind of way. All the hiding yourself away, hating the world so that it hates you back, hating those around you so that they hate you back and abandon you like you so desperately want, is ALL self-sabotage. But just notice it. Don’t give yourself an added brick of weight to your already bulging rucksack of guilt. Just notice that it is what you are doing. Just notice that this becomes your ‘pattern’ at times of Self Hatred. The power of Noticing, not Changing, works wonders. And it will pass. I promise.

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Suicide attempt survivor, witness to a loved ones attempt, or any other sweet soul reading this, know that all the emotions, feelings, conversation topics, that follow something like this are Bitching. They are intense. They are seemingly chaotic. They are painful. They are scary. They go against the sheltered grain of society. But they are beautiful. They are life. And they need be heard, welcomed and honoured. For they are healing.

As I get my surfboard out and try to ride this bitching Wave of Self Hating Shame, I hope you can do this too, if you need to. I hope you can find whatever it is that becomes your board, and ride it. For me, right now, my board is Writing, Mindful Meditation and Moments in Nature.

What is yours?

All my love to you.

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The unknown

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.

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Wiping your trust slate clean

The numbness, the unnatural depression, the anger, the frustration, the weirdness, the fatigue, the deep feeling of ill-health. Why do I prefer this to what I know I am actually feeling? I feel trapped, I feel lost, I feel confused, I feel … Continue reading

Until now

Until now, I have been living with a deep ridden fear that every choice I make or every route I take, be it big or small, will lead me to life happening as it has done until now. It has only been this way the last six months.

What if maybe, this is just life?

What if maybe actually, those things that have happened to me might not happen again? It was just something that came along in my life’s path. It wasn’t something I created or made.

This doesn’t really make sense…but it does to me.

Six months ago I took an overdose and after ICU, ended up in a haunting traumatising psych ward. (The latter was not due to any state of mine, only due to the covering of medical profession’s back).

Since then I have been living each and every day, moment and millisecond in a mist of bone rattling anxiety, trying to make sure I live a life that doesn’t lead me to that happening again. It was a blip. A massive blip that happened. But what has come from it is huge. I can’t even begin to explain the transformation it began and in many ways, solely created. But I never want that to happen again. Ever. It was haunting, terrifying, traumatising, scarring and hideous. And many of those scars are now only just being seen.

But just the past few days I realised that this fear has been literally ruling every decision I make. The most recent being which therapist to go with and which route to go down. I don’t share this fear, because I don’t think I had quite realised how directly it was linked to the trauma of the overdose, and what followed. I’ve heard myself share my pain that it was me who made it happen, and that all of what I did before in my life, led to the overdose. Almost like a build up to this end finale. But as two therapist friends of mine have both said: No. I see that as a blip following a traumatic call with your mother (which, for the record, was what it was). It wasn’t that you were building up to that, or that all your choices before that had been ‘wrong’ and resulted in you doing that. You were desperate, you were scarred, you were scared, you were hurting so deep you could only see that way out. 

What’s weird is that only now am I maybe starting to believe that.

I realise now that perhaps this is the trust for me growing and building. Doing something like that – attempting to take your own life – must be the number one crusher of trust in yourself. For me it was. For me it took weeks, and months in fact, to really even trust that it was safe to be on my own. That I wouldn’t do that to myself. This shows me deep inside how little I wanted it, or want it, to happen. It was out of a dissociated desperate state that it did. And it wasn’t even, consciously, a cry for help. It was real. 100% real attempt. Not that others aren’t, but I believe there are different after effects of if an attempt is 100% real and if there are edges of awareness that it is a cry of desperation. I do believe though, that every attempt, whether you realise it yourself at the time, or not, is a cry for help – sometimes it just comes deep from within your spirit. And I think that’s the scary thing. Afterwards I saw how determined I was and how definite it was to work. There wasn’t even a question or a doubt, anywhere below.

So how could I not think that all of what I had done to lead up to this state, was wrong? Or my fault? Or, if I had only done things slightly differently, I would not have been hurting quite as much. Or would not have been in quite so much of a traumatised, dissociated state.

The thing is, I cannot think like that. It’s understandable that I might, and that I have, but what if actually, it was just a fluke hideous and tragic thing that happened?

I find it easier to let those worries go with the overdose but I think the element to it that I struggle the most to believe is what followed. I can’t share the words yet, but the hospital was haunting. Haunting beyond words. And every folk from San Francisco will know what I mean. I have seen the reaction on Californian faces when they hear that is what happened, and their face says it all.

This is what I struggle to not see that I made happen. What if I could just have done things differently? The overdose – sure, that was one thing…but this? This exposure to such terror and trauma, and proof of my deep rooted fear that I’m crazy or might end up crazy. This seed was watered and grown into a blooming tree within 24 hours in this place.

So how can I not sit here and think that I could have done things differently? But, as my therapist’s text message read to me in the ambulance over there: they are just covering their backs. Only she and I knew what this meant for me. What was about to follow once I stepped foot in that door. And even I was blown over sideways at what did follow.

I’ve gone off track, as I tend to. And am feeling a little spaced from the trauma of this post now, so will gently bring it to an end. But what I wanted to share from these words is the shift I’ve felt in the letting go of these fears, and a growing trust to go with the ebbs and flows. Meaning: that what happened above, won’t necessarily be a part of my life again. Just because it’s happened before doesn’t mean it’ll happen again.

I fear, deeply, beginning with a therapist in case I reach that state again. (My trauma was heightened and brought to the surface through therapy…which was kind of inevitable I think, but has left me really fearful of beginning again in case this unmanageable PTSD state occurs again. I began with a therapist 4 months before my overdose, and in my subconscious angst mind, I put the two and two together…but I realise this is not how it works. It’s just hard not to trust that sometimes.)

Does anyone else find that – that trauma creates such obscure and deluded logic in your mind? That you wind up linking events before, after, during the traumatic time, that leave you totally believing that something caused it to happen, that you caused it to happen, that if only you had not done this thing, or if only you had not done these million things, then it would not have happened, and so you must never do that thing again…??

As I go for a swim down the pool lanes, I just wanted to share a glimmer of hope. A little candle of maybe. Maybe I can slowly let go and begin to trust this funny path called Life. Maybe what happened before were simply boulders for me to climb and collect, to build the mountain of strength that’s mine. Maybe the choices I make now, even if they aren’t the best ones, will not lead to that happening because they aren’t right. Maybe I can afford to make some mistakes in this path of healing, and know that these mistakes won’t lead to that trauma happening again. Or even any other. What if I am free to choose, and free to trust, and free to STOP ANALYSING every single decision I make.

What if I can trust that I will take care of myself. That I will cope. That I have always coped, no matter how distant from coping I’ve felt. That I have grown. I have changed. I have begun healing. My PTSD is changing, and is different now. My way of dealing with it is so different now too. I was in the midst of new pain I did not know how to handle. What if life is ever different and moving and changing and growing, as am I. It would make life a hell of a lot easier, that’s what if.

I hope you can all hold some trust in letting go of these theories we create for ourselves, based on the trauma we have seen or been. Know that it was not your fault. Know that sometimes in life, things happen. Sometimes all the time. But it does stop. It does stop eventually, and when it does, please find moments in that space to see that no matter how many theories or conclusions you can draw up that prove that you did it, it was your fault, you failed, the choices you made led to that/it, hold a little flicker of faith that actually: it doesn’t work like that.

As buckwheatsrisk would say: there is hope.

Big love.