Everything we see, or experience leaves an impression on our being… is it positive or negative, and does it balance out over time?
As I’ve descended into the depths of suicidal ideation and intent over the last few months; these sorts of questions, have played on my mind. I questioned why I was here, what my purpose was, and how far I had fallen short of meeting any expectations – my own, and my perception of what others expected of me. I could say that I was caught in the thinking, but I wasn’t… I was still working, existing, and being “normal”. However, everything was very superficial, and in the moment. I had no concept of anything long-term, and all I felt was the confusing extremes of nothingness, or utter chaos.
Earlier this week, I had to go to Wellington for a conference. Not only was the conference in the city where my father lives, but it was going to force me to interact with a group of strangers for long periods of time without any downtime. This was the proverbial straw that broke the camels back; all of the emotions that I’d been bottling up from the different stressors over the last few months, came bubbling to the surface. In my rather typical fashion, I didn’t tell anyone what the problem was; instead, I descending into mute chaos, unable to even pin-point what was going on. All I knew, was that I had to go to Wellington, and that going to Wellington was going to be the place where I tried to destroy myself – either physically, or psychologically. There was so much rage at the thought of being in Wellington, that I was barely able to function.
Most people would have tried to avoid going to the conference. Most people would have tried to communicate with their therapist about what was causing the chaos, especially after asking for an emergency session because things were out of control. Not I. Nope. I sat there, almost mute. Allison tried to encourage me to talk. I shut down further. She tried different techniques to try to encourage me to open up, and I dismissed them. All I could do was scream internally, and not say a word until the very end of the session, when I mentioned that I wouldn’t be seeing her at the usual time because I was going to be in Wellington at a conference. A nice parting cry for help… too little, too late.
I went into the weekend, planning my own demise. It was going to be spectacular!
Possibly the only reason why those plans weren’t carried through, was that a friend I hadn’t talked to in a while contacted me. Thankfully, they know me well enough to understand my warped codes… my signals of distress… the warning signs that I was planning something very bad. They pushed through their own problems, and forced me to confront my own. They tried to be a voice of reason, when I wasn’t prepared to hear anyone, or anything. They listened to my rants about no one understanding… countering my rant with simple questions regarding how I was communicating. They know me all too well… I can walk out of a conversation sure that I had said A, B, and C; only to realise that I might have said A, B, and C… but it was buried amongst the rest of the alphabet in such a way that there is no way that anyone would be able to understand what I was really trying to say.
As part of this interaction, I wrote one of the most honest emails I’d written in a long time. I laid out how out of control things were, what had caused the chaos, and the reasons why I had been slowly withdrawing from everything for months. I tried to show how much I was failing at everything, and that I could see no reason to keep on going. I thought I laid it all out very nicely… my friends counter point was that I wasn’t a quitter, so why was I quitting now. It seemed a pretty weak argument. It didn’t change my plans for self-destruction. I flew to Wellington with everything set.
What I hadn’t counted on, was the quiet determination of my friend. There were texts to see how I was. Often arriving at a point when I was about to jump off the metaphorical cliff. Those seemingly simple acts kept that part of my brain that seems determined to heal, somewhere nearby.
I honestly don’t know how I made it through the conference. There were triggers everywhere… crowds, noise, alcohol, hotels… and one of the worst… a former team leader. A woman who seems to know exactly how to push my buttons in a way that will tear me apart without thought. This time around was no different. My colleagues and I met her outside our hotel, as she was waiting for someone to come and pick her up. She greeted us with a smile, and then said that she had recognised me because of the tattoo on my right shoulder-blade. As this tattoo is quite low, I said that I was surprised that she could see it… she said she could just see the top of it, and then grabbed my jacket and blouse, pulling them down to expose my back, and show everyone what she had seen. This invasion of my personal space was too much. I immediately dissociated, and lost the rest of the night… in one move, she had shown that my personal space was meaningless, and could be invaded at any moment without consent.
So now I sit, having made it through the conference in one piece, despite my best efforts. I’m left wondering where to next. I sent the email to my friend, to Allison as well. On Thursday we had a very difficult session. She admitted that she didn’t understand my code. I told her I was difficult, and that every other therapist I’ve seen has said the same thing. She read things in the email that she had no idea about. All I could do was mention how difficult I am to work with. I hide. I avoid. I cloak unbearable pain in pretty words and say them as if they were nothing. When she doesn’t understand, I take that to mean that the unbearable pain is indeed nothing. So, I withdraw even further.
Yes, I am difficult. I would hate to be the therapist that tries to help me heal. Part of me thinks that this is Allison’s way of easing me out the door. Another part of me thinks that the fear of that, is a good distraction from having to deal with the pain of what happened in Wellington, and what led up to it.
Time will tell. Time will tell if it really is worth the pain of being.