So today is a bit of a weird day for me. This time last year I was in hospital after having taken an overdose in an attempt to end my life the night before. In fact, around about this time I think I might have been making the hospital stay of the other patients just a little bit more unpleasant by very noisily becoming reacquainted with the copious amounts of alcohol I’d used to wash down the pills. That day all I could feel was disappointment. I’d failed at so many things in my life already and now I couldn’t even kill myself properly. I’d promised myself that it would be over, that I wouldn’t need to cry or feel any pain anymore. Yet there I was, still breathing, still having to deal with life. In effect I’d broken my promise. Actually, in a sense I’d caused the opposite of what I wanted. Now people knew and they would be watching me and forcing me to keep going when I didn’t want to. When I went back to the house that I’d already said goodbye to the evening before, I wasn’t happy to be home, I was just so, so disappointed.
As the weeks passed I slowly began to piece myself back together, thanks in no small part to the love and affection I received from Burly. As I started to receive formal help I realised that if I was going to go down this road then I needed to make a commitment to myself. I needed to care about what happened to me, and caring meant that I had to make a new promise to myself. So I took a deep breath and solemnly swore to myself that in a year’s time it would be better. It wouldn’t hurt so much and I’d be well on my way to a brighter and happier future.
Fast forward now to today and where am I? Still unemployed, still battling demons from the past and still depressed and anxious despite being on more medication than ever. Not exactly what I’d envisioned. I knew that this date was looming and during the week and as it got closer and closer, I felt the panic and sorrow start to descend. In spite of all the effort I’d put in during the year; meeting with an employment officer, being employed briefly, starting medication, meeting with a psychiatrist and a psychologist regularly, I’m just back where I began a year ago.
So I did what I usually do in these situations. I made myself a duvet cocoon and refused to acknowledge the world. It was a pretty effective duvet cocoon equipped with all the mod cons, namely my kindle. I could happily spend the entire day and night hidden away with ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ and my cuddly toy bunny for company.
But even the fabulous eleganza extravaganza wasn’t enough to shut everything out. Like some very poorly timed joke, I received yet another job application rejection yesterday. Fan-bloody-tastic. It wasn’t even particularly fancy, just a part time job as a receptionist at the doctors practice and I wasn’t even offered an interview. I told my psychologist about this and what did he suggest? Taking my BVMedsci Degree off my CV so that I look less qualified and therefore more appealing to employers. Wow. And how do I explain the massive six year gap where my degree took place? And then do I just lie forever?? And then what was the point of putting myself through absolute hell for six years just to pretend it never happened??!! No mister psychologist, I think on this subject you and I disagree profoundly.
Ok rant over.
Anyway, so receiving this letter led to the inevitable sobbing, shivering, wailing mess that I knew had been brewing all week. I’d broken yet another promise to myself. I’d told myself that by this time things would be better, that I’d be happier. Well nothing was better, nothing had changed, I’d let myself down again. I started to wonder, was it really a good thing that I was still here?
Luckily, Burly was once again on hand to soften my harsh thoughts. He held me while I was crying, despite my protestations that I wanted to be left alone. He knows by now that that’s a complete lie, I just want to punish myself by not allowing myself comfort when I think that I’ve failed. When I could finally breathe again between sobs I ran a hot bath and just let myself melt into the water. Slowly I began to feel the tension drain from my body and I gradually allowed myself to relax. My tears dried and I finally started to listen to what Burly was saying to me.
Things had changed. Everything that I was pointing out as a negative was only half of the story. Yes I’m unemployed now, but I did have a job at the Uni for five months. Not only that, I was good at my job. Not only THAT but I loved my job!! I was popular with the rest of the team that I worked with, I always strived to do my best and I felt like I was genuinely helping people. Yes I’m still having issues with my past, but I’m not as tortured by it as I was this time last year. I hardly ever have night terrors anymore and, although I am still having nightmares, I’m finally starting to tackle them through my therapy sessions. My mum and I are closer than ever since last year and that has really helped me to open up and talk about the past more. And yes, I do still have depression and anxiety, but I’ve been trying, and that’s actually a massive achievement. I’ve cared enough about myself to keep going to the sessions that have been set up for me. I’ve really put an awful lot of effort into helping my mind to be kinder to myself and prevent my default setting from always being ‘it’s all your fault, you should die’. And it is better, as much as my depression wants me to believe it isn’t. People are aware now and I’m being looked after and helped. Ok, so I don’t have the amazing job I envisioned and I’m still am battling away at my mental health issues, but that doesn’t really mean that I’ve failed. First of all, believing that I would be better after a year was probably a silly promise to make to myself. My perception of what ‘better’ is changes all the time and knowing my mind, I would have always been disappointed with where I was. Secondly, I tried. I’ve achieved much more than I’ve given myself credit for this year and I’m actually visualising the future. This time last year I didn’t even want a future. That’s the most important thing to remember right now.
So I shifted my view. I shouldn’t beat myself up for not reaching some arbitrary deadline that means nothing to anyone except myself. For once I should be glad that I ‘failed’. I didn’t manage to kill myself a year ago and that’s a good thing. I should view today as a day to be celebrated and not mourned. I’m still alive. I’m not in hospital today, frightened, frustrated and broken. I’m not at rock bottom without any desire to be anywhere else. I’m actually alright.
Today is the first anniversary of my Undeath day! I’m alive guys! I’m still here! And I want to be here, I’m happy I’m still here. That’s something I’m more than happy to celebrate and I’m hoping you’ll congratulate me too.
So where will I be in a year’s time? Who cares as long as I’m still here.
Oh and also I baked my very first undeath day cake. For once the cake isn’t a lie…