Hope and Pain

I realize how volatile I am. How my emotions swing from me loving from the bottom of my heart. From being the girl on top of the world to being sad, pushing everyone away. Hating.

Deep inside me the sensation has grown that I cannot be helped. No matter how many amazing people I have around me, who want to help me. And no matter how much I wish they could help me. They cannot.

This goes hand in hand with the fact that forcing someone to therapy will never do any good. We have to accept the truth at some point. We have to get better ourselves. And we have to walk this path alone. No matter how much we may fear loneliness. The only way out of the pain, is through more pain. And I am not saying, we should all give up hope. Because there is a way out. But it is not as easy as we keep thinking. And we are more alone than we like.

When there is no one there to help us, we have to help ourselves. No human being can take away our pain, no matter their efforts. All there is left to do is for us to be courageous enough to embrace the cold of this sickness and to realize that we are our only way out.

But there is one thing that all those people trying to help us can tell us: We are worth the efforts. We are worth it, even if we cannot believe it. We may not be understood. We may be in the dark. We may be exhausted from all the mood swings that throw us all over the emotional map, but we cannot give up. Because if we do, we are insulting everyone who ever tried helping us. All their efforts are in vain if we stop fighting.

Sometimes that thought is all that keeps me going. All that keeps me from grabbing a blade. Because in a world where every single thing we believe in, every single thing we feel, can become the total opposite in the blink of an eye, the blade, its impartial cold and the pain it causes becomes the only constant in our lives. Becomes certainty.

And certainty is all we long for. And when we loose faith in the people who are close to us. In the people who believe in us. When the emptiness swallows our trust, we seek comfort in the cuts. A friend once told me to put up pictures everywhere. To remind me of the people who believe in me. The people who I do not want to disappoint. Hoping that this will keep me from doing it. However all it does is it makes me feel like I already am a disappointment.

And I know that everyone who does believe in me will contradict me. But I cannot just stop feeling a certain way. I am aware that this is one step of getting better. But when it comes to getting better, sometimes every single step feels like running a marathon. And yet: we are the only ones who can run it.

So all we can do is hold on to the believe that there is a way out, even if it feels like it is going to take everything we’ve got. And sometimes even believing that there is a way takes everything we’ve got. But it is crucial to getting better. Realizing that we are the only ones responsible for what is happening to us. Realizing that we are the ones to change something, if we do not like it the way it is now.

On our way to getting better, we have so many people who wish to help us, but can’t. Well, their faith in us. Their pushing us to get better, may be the thing that gives us the will to heal. May be the thing that empowers us to run that marathon that the next step is.

Being honest about how we feel.

I always ask everyone to be honest about how they feel. I do not want to live in a world of lies. But at the same time I always stress that we should be focusing on the positive. But what about those diary entries stating “I hate myself.” Should we even allow ourselves to write down things like that? Will this not worsen our condition? Manifest our negativity towards ourselves even more?

Honestly, I do not have an answer to that question. On one hand we cannot neglect how we feel on the other hand we should never enhance negative emotion. And I know that hating ourselves for cutting. Hating ourselves in general is wrong. I guess we are all torn apart between being the victim of our disease and being the master of our own fate.

When is something like this a medical condition? When are we innocent, even though we are the ones cutting? It is a crime isn’t it? It is bodily harm. We could file charges against ourselves, couldn’t we? We are the guilty and the injured party. Is the injury enough punishment for the damage we do? How can we just “let go” of all this? How are we supposed to handle it? Us not allowing ourselves to hate ourselves may lead to us turning against ourselves, for hating ourselves, making it all worse. It is a vicious circle. And once we have entered it, we may find a way out, but slipping back into it is so easy that one can raise the question of whether or not we ever been free of it.

Raise the question of whether or not we will ever be free of it. A question I can not answer. I can only hope. And sometimes I fail even to do that. But I guess, we all do.

Balance and Making it count

“Eating is an absolute waste of time. Keep studying!” and “If you take a break now, you will never get back to work!” are just two of the sentences the little voice in my head screamed at me last Thursday. When we try to work. When we try to pour our heart and soul into something, when we try to be good at something, it can easily happen, that we want to make ourselves spend more time with whatever that is at the moment. Because we have a goal that we want to achieve no matter what. This drive is incredible. It can make us become great people. There is just one problem. It is absolutely out of balance.

Also on Thursday I caught myself being irritated constantly. Being mad and impatient. I was swearing and screaming because I go frustrated, because it felt like nothing was working the way I wanted it to. The printer did not print. And I had failed to finish what I had planned the days before. I just hated everything. Then I realized one thing: It had been weeks since I last worked out. My body was totally out of balance. I had been challenging my mind to be disciplined and study, but at the same time I had failed to challenge my body. And this was when I got grumpy.

We may not all need exercise. But balance we all need. Because, eating and sleeping and taking breaks are not just a necessary evil, that we do in order to keep functioning. This is what I tell the little voice in my head. But what we really need is fulfillment. That is what will keep us going. If we do only one thing for days and only eat and sleep because we have to, we run the danger of depending on that one thing to fulfill us. Which can easily become an issue when that one thing starts getting on our nerves for some reason.

That is why we need hobbies and friends and work and family. And all these categories have the right to exist. And all of them have the potential to fulfill us. Sure, we do not want to choose friends that we do not actually like, but we should not rely on our friends to make us happy. Or our family, our jobs or hobbies. They all are wonderful and to lead a happy life, all of these need to be more or less intact. But we cannot depend on one or another. Because that will most likely make us neglect the others and thereby make us unhappy in the long run.

Especially recreational things like taking breaks, eating and sleeping should not be things we think of as necessities. We should be able to draw energy from them. We can actively help doing that, by creating little rituals around going to sleep for example. Or having a designated spot, where we read when we are on a break. Whatever it is, we need to convince ourselves, that we deserve those breaks. And we can be grateful for them and for deserving them, rather than hating on them. We need to believe that it is alright to not study 10 hours a day. Yes, maybe we feel like we might fail the next exams if we stop studying, but if we cannot take a break and recharge, there will be no efficient studying and then we will definitely fail.

We can take this even a step further. Which is typical for people with a positive mindset. We have to go to a doctor or dentist for a regular checkup. Most people would get annoyed by it. Consider it a waste of time. But very few see it as an opportunity. We can talk to our doctor about any concerns we might have and if we don’t we had a checkup and we know for a fact that we are fine. Not to mention the fact that we get out of the places we are on a regular basis. Maybe we can walk there and enjoy the sunshine. Or maybe we just enjoy the time to ourselves. The very same thing goes for running errands and doing groceries.

So to sum it up: there are things we need to do and we need to balance the different parts of our lives, to be able to draw energy from them. But while we are at it, we might as well think about how we can make the the small and absolutely necessary things in our lives matter. This is actively employing a positive mindset and will fulfill us and make us happy.

The vision of who we shall be

I got lucky enough to know that my fear had a deadline. To know that at some point I would have an answer. And I got lucky enough to get the answer I had been hoping for and not the answer I had been so afraid of.

But now what? When we are lucky enough to get the chance to leave our fear behind. What do we do next? When our entire life had been evolving around that fear. (It does not have to be fear. It can really be anything you have been evolving around and now stopped.) How can we move on?

I think there are two crucial parts: One is looking back and figuring out what went wrong. And what went well. This is important, but I think it is quite self-explanatory. It allows us to deal with the emotions and not bury them inside us. But we do not want to live in the past. We shall not be devoured by regret. (In fact this could be the topic for a whole separate blog post.)

The other part is looking into the future. And sometimes, when we have been so caught up in something we need to actively create a vision of ourselves. But why would that be helpful? A vision allows us to measure our actions by. If something makes us more like the person we are in that vision, it is a productive action. But why do we need that?

Because we need a direction. Until this point we have been evolving around whatever it is we are leaving behind. Now it is time to evolve around something positive. Around the person we want to be. In my vision I never say: “I am not a self-harmer.” I say things like: “I am a strong, independent woman.” Such a positive vision, a vision of what we want to be rather than what we do not want to be, is very powerful, because it motivates us to go on. And it gives us somewhere to go. Somewhere we want to go. And every time we are able to take a step towards our vision, we will be able to love ourselves a bit more. Because we did something that made us better.

In the self-harm and self-hate context this is so important. Because we tend to be trapped in all that negativity. And I know I could not even have written this post last week. I think us hating ourselves… as sad as it is: It is part of who we are. And yes, we do have to fight it. But we cannot fight negativity with more negativity. We cannot fight the fact that we hate ourselves, by hating that we hate. That’s… recursive. So instead we need to find something about us, that we can love. And that is why we need a vision: because we want to be like the vision. And every time we get a little closer to who we want to be, we are allowed to be proud of ourselves. Love ourselves a bit more. Trust ourselves a bit more. Experience that we are actually not as much of a failure as we always like to make ourselves believe. And that I call taking control of our lives. Actively fueling our self-confidence instead of letting negativity destroy us.

But how can we create a vision? What inspires such a vision? There are many sources for that: People we admire. Ideologies. Quotes. And more mundane: Books, movies, series, music, pictures. I usually work with 4 categories:

  • Me and university
  • Me and my hobbies
  • Me and myself
  • Me and others

In each of these categories I determine what is important to me. I write it down and that is how my vision is born. Then I take one or two points in each category and figure out a way to actively improve that point. I make a plan. And most importantly: I try to ask myself on a regular basis: “Is this how the person in my vision would act?” or “Is this bringing me closer to the person I want to be?”. This is not entirely about accounting for the progress we make in becoming the vision, it is mostly about remembering that positive vision. Getting into the mindset of that vision. Because we can so easily forget, what we want to fight for. So reminding ourselves of it is always a good idea.

The Spiral. My Prison

I have become toxic. Not that is a surprise to me. But I just realized it. And… I do not hate myself for it. I just hate the fact that it happened. I hate to put the people close to me through this pain. And the more I say this, the more I wonder if this is even true. I keep saying it. And yet I am toxic. Spiraling down in that panic. I cannot stop it. I can’t. I do not have the strength to do that. Maybe I should prove that I mean, what I say. Should leave. Point being: I do not want to be alone, but I isolate myself (why does it feel like I have written these exact words down before?!).

I am locked up, am I not? In Fear. And Pain. And this self-imposed loneliness. I can try to get out. And sometimes it will feel like I was successful.┬áBut I cannot actually be free. I am at that point where I have stopped thinking about whether or not I created this situation for myself. Because now… it is here. It is real. It hurts and I just want it to stop. But I do not have the strength to do that. So I am just letting it happen. Hoping that one day it may end. The definition of giving in.

Just another Darkness

Yesterday I was afraid. Today I dared. I am the only one guilty of this crime against me. But I am not mad at myself. I did not push the blade down. I just let it slide over my skin. Feel the tickle of the metal. My fingers are sweaty. I guess I am still afraid. It is fascinating how such a thin piece of metal can have such a visible effect on a human even if we don’t actively try to make a big impact. I do not know how much harm I would do if I got mad at myself and cut… if I felt unheard and felt like I needed to scream louder. Cut deeper. For now: these cuts… mere scratches are enough.

I am sliding back into addiction. Why? Because I am so afraid. So afraid that I suddenly just think: I gotta leave. And I walk out and into a bathroom until I feel able to return. Or I start crying in the middle of a lecture. Sometimes I see my chest vibrating with the beating of my heart. I shiver and sometimes my hands tremble.

I know I should be fighting the fear without hurting myself. I know I should just be handling the pressure. Study harder. Trying to distract myself. I should be talking back to the voice that says I could be cutting. But all I really say is that I do not want to be alone. And then again… I want to be alone. And I isolate myself because being around people does not make the fear go away. All it does is drag those people down along with me. Just… seeing that I’m everything but okay… it hurts them. And I still cannot talk. I wish I could.

I have been in therapy for two months now. Nothing changed. Absolutely nothing. Actually… when I started therapy I was better than I am now. I thought… I might learn how to prevent me slipping… but I didn’t. I did not even get started in finding a way. I have no idea what went wrong. I thought it would help. I think I will see another therapist. I am not ready to give up yet. Just another darkness that I need to survive… Another darkness that will leave its scars on my skin.

I am so sorry. This whole thing is such a mess… and I created it. I was fine before I was so incredibly stupid. And then I created this blog to share what would help me get better… and all I am doing is explaining why I hurt myself. And… how it feels.

All that is Hell ends.

The sun is rising again. I am waking up from a nightmare. I’m getting out of the darkness. Leaving that hell behind me.

I am not going to lie. I cried. So much. Actually crying and the support of someone close to me was what helped me. And yes, the person who helped me… was not someone who actually understands what it means to self-harm. But she was able to take away my fear. Make me believe for the first time in days that everything is going to be alright. And I know this sounds so old. Sounds like a comforting lie. But now I am able to believe it again. My life does not magically become easy now. But I am not terrified of what will happen anymore.

And now… as I have left hell behind I realize that I wished for one special person to be there with me. I trusted that person. And that person was who made me feel so left alone. I am mad. My pain has turned into anger. Not just raging anger. But sad anger. Because it is not that I don’t understand. It is not that I accuse that person of what happened. I am just disappointed. So my understanding is not what I deny him now. But my trust. I do not hate. But I wish to protect myself.

I am strong. I can live through a great many things without needing a particular person. Because I have my family. And I have those friends who are doing everything in their power to help me. No matter how badly I need them. Those people will always be there. and that is why I trust them.

I once said, that trust violations are the only real way to hurt me. And I have been hurt. Deeply. But this is not the end. I can go on. I woke up from my nightmare. And I am stronger than I was before. Because I know my value. I know that I can do this. Without destroying myself. Without getting lost in a world of darkness.

The lesson is simple: Trust is important. It can lift you up. Or tear you down. There are people who deserve being trusted. Those are the people who will help you when you cannot see where to go. And then there those who you wish to trust, but if you do they will disappoint and hurt you. And for me… when I have been hurt enough, I stop trusting those people. Not because I hate them. Because the first person I have to protect is myself.

Hating ourselves

Self-hate is a problem. For some it is a reason to self-harm. For some it is a contributor. And for some it is just something they bury deep inside them. It devours them. And comes to the surface every time they feel that they failed.

Let’s take a step back. Where does self-hate come from? Why do we hate ourselves? Why? I think there are a variety of reasons. But a prerequisite to hate ourselves is that we believe that we are in control. Because if we have no control, we do not get to hate ourselves. Because if we cannot do anything, we cannot be guilty. And if we aren’t guilty, why hate ourselves?

That’s good news, isn’t it? We are in control. Which means that there is something about us, that we do not like. And we can change that. But what if we make the same mistake over and over and over again? What if we fall day after day? And we reach that point where we feel like it has no point. We do not want to get back up. We want to give in. We just want to hate ourselves for falling.

Again. Why? Why do we keep failing? We do we seem to be resistant to learning? There is no simple answer here. There are a few points that can be intertwined with each other. There are however a two major ones:

  1. We do say it is a mistake, but we do not actually believe so.
  2. We have not found the right way to avoid the mistake.

The first one is pretty much equal to lying to ourselves. It means that we are doing something that we like, but for some reason we think that it is wrong. Our believes collide with what we want. Well… sadly this has happened to me before. Several times. This can happen and sometimes we do not even know it is happening. We are not trying to lie to ourselves. But I think there is one crucial step we have to take, once we notice what is going on: Either we need to adjust our believes, to match our actions. Or we have to adjust our actions to match our believes.

And this is the second point: We might just have not found the right way to make sure we do not fall back into the same old traps. We need to develop strategies and techniques to trick ourselves into not making the same mistakes over and over. And it is fine to not find the right way immediatly. We all have to go our own ways. We are indviduals. We need to figure out what works for us. And often times that is a trial and error process. And that’s alright, as long as we keep going.

Now coming from someone who did self-harm and who has slipped down into the addiction of self-harm before that might sound very hypocritical. And yes. I have struggled with self-hate. Of course. I hate myself for cutting. And I hate myself, if I don’t. So yes. I might always be disgusted with myself, no matter what I do. But I also know that I do not have to hate. No one does.

Again: Failing is part of living. Falling is part of living. But Life is not about our failures. It is about how we got back up again. It is about how we grew from our failures. How we managed to go another day without cutting. How we lived our lives smiling a little bit more every day.

We do not have a reason to hate ourselves, for our mistakes. Not as long as we honestly fight them. Not as long as we try to become better. To not make them. Make plans to avoid them. Take action. Know that we are the ones forging our future. Or choose to make those mistakes. And then deal with the consequences. The choice really is ours.

But no matter what we do: There is no reason to hate ourselves. Because hate is only destructive.