i have the biggest hair in the world. i think too much. my attention span and self discipline need a lot of work. this is why the internet is as good a place as any for the likes of me.
I’m up in Northampton, in the suspended motion of my mother’s house. I’m doing not much more than watching re runs of mashed potato tv, trying to fill a sick feeling with food that isn’t good for me, and using all her beauty products. I’m starting to get that feeling I do at the end of all my visits, where I feel like I need to get back to London, like if I’d had surgery and was finally being given permission to take the bandages off. I know I won’t like what I see but I need to know how bad it is so I can adjust my mood and life accordingly.
At the moment I keep repeating to myself that I’m 26 years old, that I shouldn’t keep hitting bottom like this. I shouldn’t keep letting myself down like this. But you know, I still do, I can’t seem to stop myself breaking down and forgetting or neglecting things, myself included. And then holding myself to this standard of what I should or shouldn’t do.
Right now I’m so frightened by the rest of my life that I am finding it difficult to get things back into focus, break them down into chunks. My brain is doing these big, wild, black brushstrokes of ‘what if you never get a job again and what if you can’t ever pay rent and you end up with nowhere to go’ which is obliterating the voices that say ‘you can pay this month’s rent, that gives you time to figure out next month’s if you just stop panicking.’
In a nutshell, I’m panicking. I’m panicking so much that I can’t even tell you the story straight; I can’t even tell myself, lord knows I’ve smeared it down enough times in that neat white notebook I bought to try and live a neat white life. The words come out in unbudgeable clots, underpinned with me needing to constantly ask what’s wrong with me, why it always comes down to me not coping, why I drown my personality in booze to try and hide the panic that everything isn’t perfect, that I’m not in control. I think about all the ways I tried to get rid of that feeling of impotence and inadequacy before, violence against myself, pillowing myself full of food, depriving myself of it entirely. I think about the fact there’s always been some way I dull myself, dull all sensation, to try and stop the self criticism and self loathing. The truth is I never feel good enough, I never feel like the core inside me is a decent person who does decent things, who people will like. And I pour more and more energy into maintaining the surface, or what I feel is the surface, taking on more things for other people, being more and more obliging, pushing myself harder and harder to be liked and appreciated in ways that wear me out and leave me feeling more and more like I’m pretending, because I end up so tired and frustrated and resentful at the thought of getting up to put a smile on that I feel like that likeable, obliging side is disingenuous and I crack, try and fill the gap between how I feel and how I am behaving with something, anything that I think will mute the noise. and it undoes all that work I’ve done to become a people-pleaser, to gain that approval and love that I never feel like I get a solid handle on anyway. It’s cyclical, I know it is. It’s been this way all my life.
When I was a teenager blotted out the pain of loneliness, of violence, with more violence towards myself. The scars from that have healed, but I’ll never forget the stillness and quiet I used to feel after I’d hacked at myself. The crescendo like feeling of inflicting pain on myself was always followed by a quiet stillness in which I felt empty enough, nothing enough, to have a sense of peace in myself. When I got hospitalized I started silencing my feelings of being ugly and worthless with food. There’s not much available to you in a hospital environment to fuck yourself up with, and I was on wards with anorexia sufferers who used me as an example of what a fat body looked like, long before I ever acquired one. It was easy to come back from a gruelling therapy session and stuff myself so full I felt sick, to blot it out. Which gave me that fat body, which perpetuated the need to blot more things out, gave me another reason not to like myself.
And then alchohol came along. Filling that gap between how I feel and who I am everytime I needed it to. I felt fat and ugly and worthless but alchohol helped me to pretend I felt bold, confident, fun. The same way, I guess it does, for everybody. As I settled into uni life, where we all drank, copiously, together, I stopped stuffing myself and got shitfaced with my mates instead. I don’t think drinking to blot out my internal storms happened while I was at uni. I don’t think I had them there. I think at uni I was in an environment where everybody was working hard to be liked, and to be seen a certain way, and I didn’t feel like an alien.
But you can’t be in uni forever, and my post-uni life has been a ricocheting from bereavement, to loss, to rooting up my life and changing it completely, to disappointment, to letdown. And every time I’ve been trying to look competent, and in control, and not like a self loathing little nutcase who can’t hold her life and self together for more than ten minutes. And I feel that familiar chasm open up in myself every single time and I just fill it with with booze. And sometimes, I know I’m doing it. Which is what I’m trying to get at now. I need to figure out a way to deal with these storms that doesn’t involve blotting them out with something. The problem is there’s always something I’m frightened of losing by admitting that they’re happening to me, have always happened to me, will probably never stop happening to me. I live in a very lonely city and so the thought of losing things, be they friends, a job, a living situation is sharpened, bought into frightening relief. And so I panic, I blot out the conflicting messages in an effort to pretend that everything’s fine, that I’m competent, that I’m in control. I’m more afraid of somebody noticing what I live with than actually living with it. I spend my whole life finding ways to force it down and get on with things. And somehow in my mind that’s coping. It’s time, I think, to just admit that I’m living with the depression, sense of worthlessness, self loathing, and the perfectionism and neuroses that arise as a result of that.
I’m not sure what’s going to happen when I get back to London. I’m frightened to think about it, so I’ll save that for the train journey back, I’ll let the clouds come over me then. Right now, here, I’m trying to be nothing, think nothing, feel nothing. To get my breath, to try and steel myself for the stressful time ahead. I’m not even sure who’s still going to be with me on this when I get back. I’ve let down and alienated a lot of people by sinking down into myself, saying I’m fine when I’m not, saying yes when I should say no, holding back when I should have reached out. For fear of looking difficult, or lazy, or crazy. It’s fucked up that my desire to be liked is what ultimately makes me do things that stop people liking me. I need to find a way to contain this fear and anxiety that I live with all the time. A way that isn’t going to destroy me. Because I know when it gets overwhelming, that I personally don’t care if it does destroy me (I reach a point where I figure that the loss of me is nothing, that I’ve got nothing to offer, will have nothing to offer, it ultimately won’t matter if I do burn out), but I’ve felt loss, and it would be self absorbed of me not to care about how it might affect other people. I’m just not sure, at this point in time, what to do about anything. So much is broken that I’m not sure where to start fixing first.
One of the more helpful and insightful things I’ve seen about depression/suicide in the last couple of days.
This accurately illustrates how I’ve felt about the whole thing.