TRIGGER WARNING. This article deals with self harm and suicide. If you are self harming or are suicidal, there is help available. Please visit our help page instead of reading this article.
If this article upsets you stop reading.
Depression is suffocating. It’s can be a full time job and sometimes it has the tendency to ruin your life. Today I find myself sitting at home, written sick off work because of my depression. Days off work can be beneficial for recovery, but they also leave you feeling unsuccessful and ashamed that you aren’t a reliable worker. Then begins what they call in German a ‘Teufelskreis’, which literally translates to ‘Devil’s circle’. A perfect name for something so horrid. It’s a viscous cycle of thoughts that build on themselves. I think ‘I’m useless because I’m depressed’, then I think ‘I’m so depressed and will never get better’, and now we’re back were we started, but now I feel worse than before. The cycle continues and I just feel worse and worse. And this is when I feel like I’m stuck in a hole. I imagine myself in well, with ever growing walls. I can try and climb out, but what’s the use? The well is getting deeper, the walls are increasing in height. I’m suffocating. I can’t breath. A heaviness settles on my chest. I can’t breath. Stop. Time out.
I wonder what it’s like to be ‘normal’ -if that even exists. What’s it like to have never had depression? Is that even possible? I can’t imagine it. I mean every one gets sad from time to time, of course. But are there really people out there who have never experienced a depressive episode? (Notice that I’m differentiating here between having a depressive episode and being sad? -It’s not the same thing.)
Anyway… back to the title.
I never understood self harm until recently. The last week I’ve really been battling hard. I’ve really wanted to harm myself. It’s different from how I’ve felt before. I understand the motivation behind it this time. Self harm isn’t the same for everyone and there may be different motivation behind it and different methods of self harm (which I will NOT get into, because I don’t want to give anyone ideas… but I will say if you really, really can’t help but harm yourself, maybe try putting ice against your skin or flick a rubber band, it’s a lot less damaging and is recommended by therapists).
Previously when I hurt myself it was an automatic thing. I can recall when I was hospitalised and was telling the nurses I couldn’t stop. Some nurses were really helpful and gave me mandalas to colour in (which was a great recommendation by the way), others weren’t particularly helpful and just told me they couldn’t help. Battling with thoughts of self harm for the last week I understand that it’s a pain thing. As a child if I hurt myself my dad would recommend hurting another part of my body as a distraction. That way I’d stop thinking about the first pain and think about the second instead. This is exactly what’s going on here. I want to give myself physical pain so I can escape the psychological pain. It’s just too unbearable.
Side note: this isn’t the same for everyone. I have a friend who self harms out of self hatred. Which I’ve probably also done.
Self harm is not about attention. Self harm is something I do when I’m alone (mostly…). It’s desperation. It’s seeking a way out. It’s trying to alleviate pain. It can be almost automatic, something you can’t help.
Let’s talk about suicide. This is something I’ve thought about a lot, seriously contemplated, planned out to an extent, and even thought was ultimately inevitable. (Sorry Mum, I know that’s hard for you to read.) It’s never been about wanting to die. It’s hopelessness. It’s giving up. It’s a belief that nothing will ever get better. It’s a thought that this pain will always exist. I never wanted to die. I just wanted to escape the pain. I wanted a way out. An emergency exit. It’s not a wish to end things, it’s a wish to never have ever existed.
Lots of people complain about people committing suicide as being selfish. To that I say: yes, depression is selfish. Depression takes all your focus and attention. It’s cancer. It takes over. Depression is ‘me, me, me’. And to recover from depression you need to be selfish. You need to say no when things are too much. You need to be able to say, sorry I wish I could help you, but right now I need to focus on my own needs. And you know what? That’s ok. That’s why this is my first post in… a year? 18 months? No idea honestly.
If someone ever tells you that you are selfish because of your depression, good. We ALL need to be selfish sometimes.
If you are suicidal or know someone who is suicidal, seek help immediately. Call a suicide hotline or if a life is in danger call emergency services. Mental illnesses do not need to be fought alone. Don’t wait. Get help.