**Heads up again folks – I’m talking Depression and Self-harm today… This is your trigger warning**
Alternative title: Contrary to what Elton John told us, saying “I need help” is the hardest thing to say.
I knew the question was coming, we’d already discussed how my body and mind were reacting the new medication with regards to sleep, Anxiety and ‘low mood’ (Depression). I knew the question was coming, but it didn’t make facing it any easier. I knew the question was coming … And it froze me in my tracks. My blood ran cold, tears started to fall, my words became a whisper.
“Have you thought about harming yourself?” my GP asked again.
I considered lying. I considered saying it was one off … But those words failed. Those words would have been a lie.
“Yes … ” my voice small “I have”
I haven’t acted on those thoughts … But that’s not to say that at times they have felt overwhelming. That my insides have twisted as my brain argued against itself, wanting to harm, thinking up possible excuses for any marks should they be discovered but in the deep depths knowing that it shouldn’t be thinking this way. A small voice shouting against the tide telling me that we needed help. A small voice slowly losing momentum.
It took crying in a toilet cubicle at work for me to realise how far I had been dragged back into the darkness, knickers round my ankles, head in my hands, vulnerability palpable even to myself … Knowing that the longer I left things as they were, the more likely it was that the little voice would disappear altogether and in that moment the dripping of poison would be all I had left to listen to. How long would I fight against that? How long would it be before I actually listened and acted on it?
I was … I am … scared for myself.
I was … I am … scared of myself.
I know how strong I can build up walls around me, how internalised and withdrawn I can become … I know how easy it is to fool people with a smile that doesn’t reach my eyes and hopeful words as hollow as a dead tree. It becomes easier with time, especially when I’m regularly around people who help me perpetuate that lie by giving me sharp ultimatums – “Stop being sad as it affects others or …”
Those people do not see the Oscar winning performance I’m giving as I laugh at a joke I don’t find funny with such expertise you would assume I had literally pissed my knickers at the punch line.
Those people do not see what they call ‘sad’ is actually an all-consuming feeling of worthlessness, of self-loathing, of irritability, of a need to simply cry or feelings of guilt for no reason, and sometimes a feeling of nothing at all, emptiness … Just a dull ache.
It all slips under the radar.
So to say to a GP that I’m scared I’m going to hurt myself, that I can’t stop the thoughts, that I feel trapped by them was liberating in a way as I relinquished part of the claim of that demon to her … At the same time it was truly terrifying as I admitted a truth that many in my circle would either dismiss or be uncomfortable by.
I unleashed a secret that had been clawing at me … I allowed someone to step into the darkness with me. To share a taste of what I experience daily. And she, in turn, accepted my cry for help …
If any of you reading this are struggling or considering harming yourself please please please reach out. Please don’t hide! It’s scary but you are not alone, I know it feels like that at times but you really aren’t alone. Speak to a friend, a family member, a GP, a therapist, the Samaritans, Mind, anyone …
But please say something.
PS – I referred myself back to therapy the day before I was due to see my GP … If you’re in Lancashire and need help I can’t recommend Minds Matter enough (they even have a self referral form on their website)!