During the past week, I’ve had periods of feeling “good”… I’ve felt as if I’m together, emotionally consistent, and as if I can do this thing called life. It’s at these times, that I wonder what all the fuss is about regarding my mental health. I don’t remember the periods of disconnect, and everything seems to be going really well… But then, someone tells me of something that happened a few hours previously, and I have no recollection of it. I sort of know the event happened, but I have no connection to it, and don’t remember it as something “I’ve” done. This throws me into confusion… am I being consistent now, or then? Am I in denial? Am I attention seeking? I’m left wondering what’s going on…
It seems more and more as if my life is becoming a series of sound bites. Each bite is disconnected from the previous one; but could be connected to one that occurred yesterday, or last week… It’s all very confusing, and yet not. That’s the odd thing about it all… part of me thinks that there should be some panic about my functioning, but I don’t feel it. Sometimes, I’ll feel a sense of confusion… but, its minor. The disconnect seems to be minimising the emotional impact of it all, thereby increasing my apathy.
Yet, despite saying that I’m disconnected, I’ve had times of great connection. Last Friday, there was a major rugby game played in town; because I talked to a friend, I left work a little later than usual, so met the rugby-bound traffic, and people walking to the stadium. I was blind-sided by terror and flashbacks… memories of the past overwhelmed me. I immediately started to look for ways to escape, and self-injure. But then, I thought of the potential impact my actions might have on others… how would the friend that I was talking to after work react if they found out that I got hurt? Would they connect my staying after work to talk to them, with my self-injury? Would it hurt them to know that I was hurt? I’ve often thought of the implications that my actions might have on others, so this line of thinking isn’t new… but, there was a different impact this time.
While thinking of my friend had an impact, the bigger realisation came by looking at the crowds walking to the stadium. There was a high number of families amongst the crowd, many with children aged about 10 years, and above. As I saw these children, I realised how small they were… walking in amongst these crowds, they looked so defenceless. The adults were watching the children… making sure that they stayed with the family, that they watched traffic as they crossed the road… “normal stuff”. But, that “normal stuff” is something that I don’t remember as a child. I remember being alone. I remember being taken places. I wasn’t interacted with, I was just “there”, left to my own devices. Some would say that this encouraged independence, resilience, and all those good things… that may well have some merit, but it also taught me that I was alone in the world, that I couldn’t ask for help, and that no one would protect me. The children in this crowd were different… they had families who seemed to protect them. But the thing that continued to affect me, was their size… so small and defenceless… how could anyone that small stop the abuse? I realised that if I self-injured, ones within the system who were smaller than the children amongst the crowd, would be hurt. No matter how tough these ones say they are, and act… they are smaller than these children in front of me. There’s no way that I would allow any of these children in front of me to be hurt, so why was I willing to allow myself to be hurt?
I decided that I couldn’t, or wouldn’t, allow the self-injury. Anger towards myself, and my friend, hit… I was removing the only way that some within the system get relief from the confusion and pain. It’s now a week later, and I’m still feeling the impact… There is a need to isolate and escape from the emotions stirred up last week. Those emotions have been fuelled by the weekly stresses occurring within my life (work, family, etc). When I look at it like this, the sound bite life, makes sense… it’s the old way of coping with events that are beyond my control, or ability to deal with. I know that a large part of my current state is due to a sense of control, or a perceived lack of control. When I was a child, I felt the illusion of control through my solitary, insular existence… part of me is so very desperate to get that feeling back.