Tonight I cried, for the first time since leaving the hospital, for myself and what I’ve come through. I cried with purpose. It was a: snotty nose; ugly bawling face; help me I can’t breathe kind of wail and it was honestly so refreshing. I mean seriously, I reckon I could have set some sort of record with that crap. I made sure all the windows were closed though…so hopefully the neighbours don’t think someone was being murdered in here. Guess I’ll find out if I see any flashing lights before I’ve finished writing this.
Crying has been a real issue for me lately. I’ve been holding back on letting a lot of emotion out because, because I think it made me feel human. Which is a pretty strange statement to make I know. What else could I think I was? I’m not exactly sure what the answer to that is but I’m not really sure that it’s as important as my realisation that I am human is anyway. And I’m not really sure I’m going to do myself justice explaining this but I’ll give it a go. I swear I’m not completely mad!
As a child, I was extremely sensitive. Often I’d become upset at the tiniest thing, often I would feel slighted at comments most others may not have even noticed and often I would take on the emotions of the people around me. That could be a good thing because it meant that if the people around me were happy then I could be too. It did also mean though, that I would soak up negative emotions as well. I observed people a lot and as kids often do, I listened in to adults talking when I probably should have been off out playing. The problem was twofold: I didn’t always catch everything and I definitely couldn’t fully wrap my young mind around half of the conversations I did catch anyway. What I could sense was the underlying emotion. I can only describe it as a feeling I could absorb and unknowingly blow out of proportion. I couldn’t comprehend the true complexity of the conversations or interactions at such a young age so I took on the simplest part I did recognise and fixated on it. I know now that things I will have been sad, confused or frustrated about will have more often than not, been fleeting, unimportant occurrences. Hindsight is truly great. I could have saved myself hours, days, even weeks of my life had I understood I was distraught for no reason. It was an exhausting yo-yo of emotions bouncing from one extreme to the other and just never quite managing to find a middle ground.
At some point in the last five or so years the negative emotions really took control in my mind. I stopped trying to fit in or to be happy because it felt like it was only causing me more pain. Instead I became addicted to making myself numb. A lifetime of self-hatred and belittlement led me to a stage where I convinced myself that nothing anyone (including myself) ever said or did to me or could possibly do to me could be bad. If I was this monster I believed myself to be- there’s the answer to my question from earlier- then I had no right to ever feel upset or wronged or depressed about anything. I’m not sure how that will sound to someone else but to me I really, truly believed there was never a reason to feel hurt anymore. Which led to an awful lot of confusion as to why I always felt so damn bad all the time. Hence the numbing. It’s been a vicious cycle of feeling horrendous, being unable to find justification for my feelings, refusing to deal with them and then shutting down completely.
Which brings me back to the crying issue. I’ve been through a hell of lot lately- I’m pretty sure it would have made anyone cry. The times I have cried, I’ve mostly been crying because I’ve been upset about that fact that I’m upset. The rest of the time that I’ve not been numb I’ve been needing to cry and actively doing everything in my power to stop it which has led to me tearing up at the slightest thing. I thought I might have to accept that I would be living life with a permanent lump in my throat. Not exactly an ideal way to live. But this acceptance that I’ve been through a lot is a big deal for me because if I believe I’ve been through a hard time then somewhere inside me I must also believe that I’m one person as undeserving of pain as the next. But pain is part of life, it’s what makes us grow stronger. Experiencing it and learning from it is something that’s wired into our DNA. It’s part of what makes us human. I haven’t wanted to feel human because I thought I wasn’t strong enough to survive being a part of humanity. I forced myself to believe I wasn’t. No humanity means no emotion and no emotion means protection from the negativity of the world. The reality is though that I haven’t succeeded in making myself numb all the time. If I had, the past few years would have been nowhere near as challenging as they have been. And the amazing truth in it all is that despite everything that’s happened I have survived it.
I’m not sure when exactly my opinion of myself changed. Just a few weeks ago I felt my self-hatred was at an all-time high. Now that has dimmed somewhat. I’m not going to lie and say it’s gone but I have made a dent in it. All thanks to the little things I’ve been doing. Getting up and dressed every day. Forcing myself to eat. Walking the dog at lunchtime. Going to watch classes at JHM. Exercising. Sticking to a bedtime routine, even if I still don’t sleep. All things I have questioned over and over again. Things I have said there is no point in doing because they’re not helping. Only they are. The person I was three months ago and the person I am now are like night and day.
In my last post I said I was making a commitment to letting people help me because my way wasn’t working and I’m so glad I have. My GP has been absolutely brilliant since I left hospital, I can’t imagine getting through the last few weeks without her endless empathy and determination to help me. I’ve also been getting loads of support from a local gym. Cammie at Victory Bespoke Fitness has been working with me in his spare time to get me active again but the sessions have been about more than just pushing through cardio and lifting weights. His greatest achievement with me so far is getting me out the house, socialising and laughing on the days when I’m feeling at my worst. Sometimes that means we just go out for a walk instead of working in the gym but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t push me when he thinks he can. Today, for example, I’ve had to walk downstairs backwords because my legs hurt so much from yesterday, I can barely bend them!! You can never underestimate the power of exercise when it comes to your mental health, even if some of the mood boosting endorphins come from having a laugh at your own expense. Then there’s Declan who left me with the task of creating a list of things I like about myself while he was off. Which I thought was pretty harsh of him at the time but after my reflection I’ve yet again accepted that he knows what he’s doing because it seems that I’ve made real headway whilst working on it. Yay for progress!
For a while I was struggling to cobble together another piece worthy of putting online but I’m glad I waited out the bad weeks and tried again instead of just abandoning the writing because that’s what recovery is all about. Life in general I suppose as well. You have to just keep clinging on because even when you can’t possibly see what difference it’s making…it’s actually saving your life.