I’m not having a very good time at the moment, which has been reflected in the fact that I’ve not written a word on my blog for nearly a week. I can give you several reasons for this, including problems with my job (I’ve written a separate, password protected post on that, although really it wouldn’t have been much of a blow to have it discovered and be fired over it), a dose of post-holiday blues (still!) and the fact that it is late autumn/early winter. I usually struggle around this time of year: last year I relapsed in pretty much every way possible (restriction, self harming, drinking too much), the year before I had a brief return to self harm along with a stagnation in my recovery efforts, in 2008 I was very underweight, in 2007 I was…erm, very underweight, in 2006 I was suicidal and about a month from being admitted to hospital, and so on. I think it is safe to say that I may suffer a little from SAD. If light boxes weren’t so damn expensive I might get one. I think you can have them prescribed on the NHS actually, but I’ll see how things go.
The upshot of all this is that I’m feeling really quite low. It’s that awful sort of exhausting sadness which sits right on my solar plexis like a brick. I feel isolated and lonely even when I’m with friends and spend most of my late evenings and early mornings trying not to burst into tears at the thought of having to get through another day at work. I also got rather freaked out at college this week during a session on (amongst other things) Beck’s dysfunctional attitude scale, when we had to identify which of the most common results applied to ourselves. Mine was easy to choose: a combination of fear of vulnerability and avoidance of weakness, partly because I appear to have been born that way (I’ve never been comfortable with expressing “negative” or intense emotions in front of others, whereas my parents and siblings don’t have the same problem) and partly related to my experiences with mental illness. When I was much younger and hadn’t been unwell for very long I believed in the movie-style fairytale ending regarding eating disordered and suicidal teenagers: someone noticed how much they were hurting and gave them unconditional support until they were better. Maybe there was a brief hospital stay or a nice therapist involved, but one way or another things would be okay in the end. It wasn’t until I was 18 that I realised that however desperate I was, and however honest I forced myself to be about my feelings and need for support, no one was going to save me. Not even close – in fact, I eventually came to accept that no one was going to intervene even when my life was at risk. Even when I knew my life was at risk and was begging for help – it just wasn’t going to happen. Those moments of utter horror dotted throughout my life have stuck with me. Those moments when I knew that my survival was completely dependent on my ability to survive, and believed that I was nowhere near up to the task.
I hate whinging (aaah! Showing weakness!) and I hate sounding like I’m feeling sorry for myself, but when I’m already down I do tend to get these sorts of thoughts playing on an endless loop in my brain. Sometimes stuff like I’m describing, sometimes rape flashbacks, other disturbing or (to me) disgusting images, nightmares which persist long into daylight, or obsessive thoughts about dying and nothingness. My brain, essentially, likes to kick me when I’m down. Stressed over work? Okay, lets throw in some extra strong self harm urges. A little low from the lack of sunlight in December? Awesome time for those rare eating disordered thoughts to start poking you even more frequently than your uncle when he’s drunk and on Facebook. Only I can’t unfriend my brain, I’m stuck with it.
I want to get through one winter without having a minor meltdown. To be fair it’s been a while – the last time I was on decidedly shaky ground in regards to my abstinence from self destructive behaviours was July, right after I started my job. Things are improving, slowly, and there are longer and longer periods of time between lapses and near misses. I just wish it didn’t take so much effort. And although it’s quite logical that this is the case, I wish I didn’t have to fight three times as hard to stay on track when I’m already feeling depleted. I wish, I wish, I wish, and I know it won’t make a difference. Wishing is useless. Recovery, relapse, life, death and everything in between – it’s all up to me, and that thought still terrifies me.