Song of the Day (2): Stone Cold Sober by Paloma Faith
(Photo Credit: Connie Snow- This Little Blog of Mine, available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License).
Warning: this post includes content on suicide and self-harm.
Seeing as I’m having a bit of a dark day myself I thought I’d tackle the subject I’ve least wanted to write about: self harm and suicide attempts. I’ve been there. These were some of my darkest hours when I could see absolutely no way out- I was a lot younger then and had yet to find the right medication. All I know is it was 11 years ago and I still haven’t gotten over it. It only happened once, because every time I’ve been close to it since then, I’ve managed to go back to all the regret and pain it caused- there is no way I would ever do it again. I don’t want to go into too much detail mainly in case people I know read this, but also because it’s a horrible thing to read about. At the time I thought I was the only one, it was like being on the moon with no one else there- only rock and dark and emptiness. No colour, no air. No hope of being rescued. I could watch everyone else from a distance, but no one could hear me or see what was really going on inside.
During the different cycles I’ve been through over the years, other deep, despairing depressions have come and gone and I would like to emphasize GONE! They do go, you may have to be bloody patient, grit your teeth, kick and scream and survive in any way you can, but they’re gone! They go. It’s about SURVIVAL. It hurts, it can be so painful and so lonely, but just survive on the darkest days. I found ways to survive and one dysfunctional behaviour stays with me still: binge-eating; apparently a common comorbid condition with Bipolar. I see it as a residual symptom of suicidal days- it pains me on days like today where I hate it with every fibre of my being, but I have to remind myself- it helped me survive. Don’t consciously go out to do it- there is no way I would recommend it to get through suicidal ideation/self-harm periods, it can cause more heartache. But for now I try and see it as something that kept me alive and I’ve no doubt it did. It is something I can work on now that my meds are working (thank God for Lamotrigine). But I am exceptionally strong- I see that now that I’m out the other side. I didn’t give in.
If you are in one of these dark places right now- tough it out. Do what you can to get through. Survive. You don’t have to be anything other than alive during these times. Getting to the end of the day is an achievement. Stay in bed all day, watch TV all day, play computer games all day. I wouldn’t recommend this unless you are at your lowest point, but if that’s what you’ve got to do to distract yourself do it. Call the Samaritans, your psychiatrist, community psychiatric nurse, tell them the truth. You’ll feel less alone for just having told someone. Get emergency counselling- there are many organizations who will do this either for free or a very low fee.
One of my therapists once gave me a great suggestion for the worst days- the Emergency Box. The idea is that when you are feeling like you want to self-harm, or worse, you open the box and rummage through the contents. You can customize the box any way you like, which is actually quite fun in itself. The best boxes to use are shoe boxes or something of a similar size. Here’s the kind of thing you can put in:
– Photos from brilliant times you’ve had/of people you love.
– Old letters people have written you.
– Certificates, medals, artwork you’ve created- anything you’re really proud of. I’ve even put my school reports in, there were some really nice things said.
– A dose of anti-psychotic/anti-anxiety meds if you’ve been subscribed one for these particular times.
– I’ve written letters to myself when I’ve been well – to remind me how to get through it all and that it wont last forever- and put them in the box.
– Also leaflets for local counselling services, number of friends to call, massage therapist contacts, holiday brochures, anything that can remind me of the positive parts of my life so far. When we left school we all had a book in which we could get everyone to write in, so I’ve put that in there too and cards I’ve received for Valentine’s Day, Christmas, birthdays, etc.
There is one little book which I found extremely helpful during depression with little sayings in it- so you don’t have to concentrate too much. That’s there too. It’s called “When I Loved Myself Enough” by Kim McMillen and I would totally recommend it for the dark days.