All I hear…

More than once I have been told:

You are not badly ill, overall you are a healthy young woman.

I know it means, that I can become fine, without loosing myself in the process. It is supposed to mean that I can and will get better. But that is not what I hear. All I hear is:

I am not sick.

And there are a number of consequences to that. If they do not think I am sick, well can I stop trying to get better? Because if I am not sick there is no need for me trying. There is no need for me working. Do I have to stop being proud of myself if I resist the urge? Can I stop trying to distract myself. Stop trying to find alternatives? Can I stop keeping in mind that I cannot drink too much, because I might slip? Because substance abuse is just another symptom for an illness, that I do not have?

Or does it mean I am imposing? Do they really think I would be faking the pain? As a matter of fact I have acted hurt before, which hurt me in return. But really… no human happily physically hurts him-/herself. I do not know if it is even possible to fake being in pain to this point.

Am I creating it all myself. Am I suffering from nothing but an idea, that I created myself? Is it all the exaggeration of a drama queen. A normal reaction of a young woman to extreme fields of tension?

That is not what they are saying? Well… If I am not that sick, then what is that pain I am feeling? Why am I cutting? Why do I hurt myself? Why do passions fade away. Slip away under my hand? Why do I feel like crying might help, but all it does is leaving me more empty and more fatalistic than before.

I know. no one is trying to invalidate my emotions. No one is trying to say the way I perceive the world is untrue. But that is all I hear. If I am not terribly sick, then why did I even put up with therapy? And why am I tossed around on emotions? Why do I feel fine one moment and the next I just… wish for it all to end?

And if this is normal… please tell me how everyone puts up with it. How can one live without breaking if this is the norm? How? How is not everybody addicted to alcohol and other drugs? I am supposed to shut up and deal with it? I will gladly. If I am told how the fork this is possible.

I know it is never meant to mean any of this. I know it with my head. But it is not how it feels. Because, frankly I wish I was not sick. And when I am not spiraling down, I appreciate the efforts to cheer me up. And I am even sure, that when someone says something like that they are telling the truth. And I know that there are a great many times, where I can see that truth myself. Moments where I feel fine. Moments of happiness. But there very same statement can be so devastating when I am at my worst, because it questions my perception of things. And the issue with that is, that there is none better at doubting me than myself and that is not something that should be enhanced in any way.

I am not saying I cannot handle the truth. I am not saying that no one should ever tell me that I am mostly healthy. Because it is the truth. But sometimes what I have described is all I hear. Maybe… because it is all I want to hear.

Before we cut

We do not wake up one morning and decide that now would be a good time to cut. Until we cut we prepare ourselves mentally. We keep thinking about it. For days. Maybe even for weeks. Maybe we even hold the blade in our hands. Stare at it. Unable to do it. But that is not the worst part. The worst part is the cold and confusion. The world of pain we live through before we cut. Because until we actually put a blade to our skin, we have hurt ourselves a lot mentally. And in my experience the depth of the cut reflects the mental pain we have been going though. If we scratch our skin, we are trying to escape a dark pit of pain. If we cut until the blood flows. If we cut until the point where we question when it will stop bleeding. We have walked through hell. Mentally.

This is why trying to make us stop cutting will not actually help us. Sure, if we stop cutting we will be spared the scars on our skin, but it does not mean we are healed. It does not mean that the mental pain is gone. And there are so many reasons for that mental pain. Trauma, being in a field of tension, being alone, being empty, one’s relationship to oneself…. they are uncountable and trying to list them all will never do everyone justice.

All I am trying to say is: if we want to heal, we will have to heal from the inside. This is why forcing someone into therapy may save their body but they may wish for death, because controlling them may silence the part of us that wants to recover. Forcing them into something is most likely going to increase their mental pain. If we want to help someone in pain, we can give them advice and if they trust us we may have a chance at leading them to therapy. Talking them into it. Changing their minds. But we cannot do anything against their will. Because it is them who will have to heal. It is them who will have to do the work to get better. And if we cannot decide to heal, we cannot really get better.

And there is another point: depending on how long we have been in the darkness we may not even know what the light is like anymore. We may not even know how it is to not be so hurt that we cut regularly. And of course we know that we are not well. But we do not know what it means to be well. We have forgotten how it is to be free of the blade’s slavery. And we may have given up hope. But even then: unless we want to heal we cannot get better.

I think deep down we all want to heal. No one likes hating oneself. No one likes being in pain. But we may very well be tired of trying to get better. Why? Because maybe we have tried without results. Or maybe we do not believe that we can actually be helped. Maybe we are afraid what a therapist might think. Maybe we simply do not have the energy to put in the work to get better.

And this is the point where we need support. Of those we love. Of those we trust. Not to push us. But to not give up hope in us, even if we cannot believe in ourselves anymore. Sometimes we need someone to gently guide us because we do not have the strength to make the decision to get better ourselves. And that support is worth more than anyone can imagine. Because it may prevent us, from hating ourselves, as even if we cannot love ourselves, there is someone we trust who obviously does. And who still trusts us. So how bad can it really be?

I know for myself that I would have slipped into the darkness deeper and more often if it weren’t for the people around me who were always there no matter what. They are the real reason I can look into the mirror without disgust for what I see. They are the reason I am not an utterly and hopelessly addicted to cutting. So: Thank you.