Ten Years On

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Content warning for talk about suicide.

It was 10 years ago today that I tried to end my life after going through a lot of anguish in the prior year or so. A lot of it was documented on this blog, it seemed like I used to write about it endlessly at that point until I got tired of repeating myself all the time. It’s difficult to know what to make of what has happened in the time since. Every year I think back and to be honest I don’t really know what it was that triggered me to do it at that particular time. It was far from the worst time in my life, I was much more miserable during my first job for instance. I had a part time job that I actually liked and I was about to start the second year of my degree. I seemed to be constantly preoccupied about how far I thought I’d fallen behind where I was supposed to be, which seems laughable now considering I have achieved nothing since then.

Nobody ever really talks to me about this stuff. I know it’s uncomfortable and no-one really wantes to consider what it is like for a person to reach that point where death is preferable to spending another day on this earth. I can honestly say that I had given it so much thought for hours every day and I didn’t want to live any more, it was not a cry for help or anything like that. I didn’t take any half measures, if I hadn’t been found then it would have killed me for sure and it took months for me to recover from what I took even after I left hospital. Every year I think about whether I’m glad that I survived and then make myself feel guilty because I am honestly not glad or relieved that I didn’t die back then.

I have re-read some of the final words I left (I remember handwriting some more at the last minute but don’t know exactly what I wrote) and one of the things that I feared the most is becoming the person that I am now. I’m pretty much in the same position as I was back then except without potential and youth on my side any more. I know it sounds stupid, but I secretly wanted people to think about “what could have been”, I was grasping on to the tenuous remnants of promise that I’d shown early in my life and had the foresight to know that with each passing year I would drift away from the young man with his life ahead of him to the pathetic loser who wasted it all and wanted to get out while I could. I doubt many people who read this will understand that thought process, I think it requires you to be someone whose life peaked very early.

My therapist would say to me that if I was so good at predicting the future I should tell him next week’s lottery numbers. I know this was a humourous attempt to try and challenge my certainty about where my life was/is heading but when you are as single mindedly self-obsessed as me then you become an expert on these matters. I saw the writing on the wall. The phrase “hideous 30 year old still living at home with his parents” was in that note and I’ve surpassed that by 4 years already.

I suppose there are a few things I have done in the mean time, and I feel like I am a different person now to back then. I did eventually graduate, although I have never managed to make use of my degree despite it being in one of the subjects people always tell you is desirable. If I could go back to 2012 and force myself to immediately try to get into work then I might have made something of myself but I didn’t, I let myself slip into one of my infamous avoidant cycles that continues to this day, getting worse and worse with every passing moment. It’s virtually impossible to explain this to anyone who just wants to think you are lazy (most people when it comes down to it). I’ve tried to write about it on here before, but when someone can’t understand how you end up in a situation like this what you need to realise is that the easiest thing in the world to do is ‘nothing’. Unless there is some external pressure on you to take serious action then it becomes too easy to slide into putting things off to the next day, which becomes the next week and then the next month. I am guilty of not taking drastic action earlier and now I have got myself into an almost impossible situation once again, just like I did at university the first time, at college and then again at my second attempt at university. Those times I was able to somehow escape by either quitting or someone taking mercy on me, but there’s no easy way out of this.

Deep down I knew back then that my life wasn’t over and that I still had potential, but it scared me to admit it because I knew that I faced failure if I tried to carry on with my life. It turned out that I was forced into continuing and I have failed in just the way that I knew I would. Is it partially a self-fulfilling prophecy? Probably, but I know myself too well and I know all too well how much other people want to tear you down and I can’t open myself up to letting them again. I could have tried harder years ago but I was afraid of becomig trapped in a situation like I was at my first job that scarred me for life. I simply cannot take living like that again.

This is what I can’t fully express to people in real life because nobody wants to hear that you might try to kill yourself again when you already tried once. I know that people who have attempted suicide before are vastly more likely to die from suicide and I always have to hold back when it comes to mental health professionals because I don’t want to raise any red flags there, and when it comes to my family I don’t want to worry them. I am completely trapped in my current situation because the fear of being stuck in an environment like I was at the first job has imprisoned me here. I got close to telling my therapist, but held off the last part, that what I fear the most is becoming stuck in a place like that around people who want to tear me down because I know now that I would end up killing myself for sure.

I didn’t do it back in 2006/7 even though that was the absolute most miserable, wretched period of my life for a number of reasons. One was that I hadn’t crossed that line into genuinely considering suicide at that point. It’s difficult to remember back to a time when I hadn’t made that mental leap and I have to remind myself sometimes that most people (nearly all? I don’t know exact figures) never actually consider ending their life as a genuine thing they might do, but once you have crossed that line I don’t think you can ever go back again. It took a good 3 years of depression for me to get to that point and I can’t see myself getting away from it again unless I go through some significant upheaval which seems more and more improbable every day. Another thing is knowing how to do it. I don’t want to get into details too much because I don’t want to give anyone ideas, but it’s easier now than ever to get access to things that you couldn’t back in 2006. When you are 21 no matter how depressed you are, there is still a tiny part of you that knows, even if you can’t admit it, that things can still change. I got a second (and third if you count my university reprieve) chance but I don’t know that if I fucked things up again in my mid 30s that I would get a fourth.

I’m running out of time and options. Sometimes it spurs me to desperately try and make strides towards improving my situation, but I can never stop from getting overwhelmed by how far away I am from getting back on track. The events of the past 9 months have not helped matters (I will write about what has been happening with my mum soon, the short story is that she has been through a hell of a lot but is hopefully on the road to recovery now). Being alone is the constant thorn in my side when it comes to this. I meant to write about it before, but you simply cannot imagine how much it impacts your life when you are so isolated if you haven’t been in that situation youself. It drains and immobilises you on every level and in almost every aspect of your life.

One thing I have learned, much to the chagrin of my younger self is that it’s not possible to live a fulfilling life purely inside your own head.

There have been many times when I have been in the dark place and life not only seemed not worth living, but I actively wanted to die but so far I have never put myself in physical danger since then. I will admit here that when my mum got her cancer diagnosis and I feared that she was going to die, I got to the point of buying pills because I didn’t think I could survive mentally, or materially without her but I have got past that for now.

I write here because this is the only place I can be brutally honest about how I’m feeling. I know the reason why is because I desperately crave some kind of validation for my feelings and there is no way I can talk to the people I know in real life this candidly. It’s shameful really, but what I actually want is for someone to hear about what I’ve been through and what my life is like and tell me that I am justified in being so miserable. That it *is* fucked up. That I don’t deserve it. That I am not a terrible person. That it is understandable, for large periods of time, that not being alive seems vastly preferable to living like this.

The only people I ever speak to in real life are my mum, dad and ever more rarely, my sister. I can’t honestly accept what they tell me though because they are not objective about me at all. I think I did manage to get some genuine thoughts out of my last therapist after my usual mental jousting that I always end up engaged in, but 50 minutes a week for a couple of months barely scratches the surface of my messed up life.

I feel as though I’ve gotten massively off track here… To be honest, the reason posts on this blog became more sporadic was because it was easier for me to try and supress my feelings and avoid facing up to things than to endless rehash them like I used to. Coming back here always makes me think back to when I first started writing about my mental health. It was the beginning of a chapter of my life that I have very mixed feelings about. In a lot of obvious ways, it has been extremely painful, but I have also grown a lot over that time. As weird as it sounds to type this, I like the person I am now a lot better than who I was in 2007 when I first admitted I had mental health problems. My earlier writing embarrasses the hell out of me and even though most of it has been done in relative isolation, I think I’ve experienced a lot of good things and escaped the limited existence of my teens to early 20s, even if only briefly and was better for it. Physically, I am yet again back in the same room, sitting in the same bed writing this post as I did in my earliest writing. As I have done before when reminiscing like this, I decided to look at the social anxiety forums where I made my first foray into reaching out and see what some of the people I used to talk to are up to. One of them I recently removed from facebook because of their horrible reactionary views, one I still occasionally talk to but I am afraid to let them know how pathetic my situation still is because they’ve moved on to bigger and better things. Another, who I probably wrote about extensively on here because I had a stupid crush and minor obsession with, surprised me because I just saw that she is engaged. Maybe I can see it as a small success that it didn’t make me miserable or jealous to read that. I’m not proud to admit it but a few years ago that would have devastated me because I had such a stupid unrealistic desire to be with her. When we first “met” I remember reading about how she was in danger of being kicked out of college and her story resonated with me so much because I was in virtually the same situation myself a year earlier. Of course, it’s a nightmare actually trying to get to know and stay in contact with people who have severe social anxiety and I ended up losing touch with her but never forgot the few conversations we had that gave me hope and helped me more than it logically should have. Of course this just hammers home the point that yet again I am being left behind by everyone I have ever known. I’ve written before about childhood friends have gone on to have normal lives and how pathetic I feel in comparison. It’s almost got to the point where it doesn’t hurt so much any more because I expect it.

It’s depressing to contemplate the fact that I am in a totally different universe to everyone else. I will keep on getting left behind, in the dust of everyone I ever knew. Simply getting through the day without actively wanting to die is the best I can do, and although I have just managed 10 years without crossing the line, I can never rule out the near certainty that my life will end that way. I don’t know when, all I can do is hope that I can find a reason to carry on. It seems ever more remote, but perhaps I can force myself to take solace in the fact that I have come this far so maybe there is something deep down, as I now know there was in 2009, that I have to live for besides not wanting to upset the dwindling number of people who would notice if I died. I just decided tonight after all this reflection that I will try to find something. Wish me luck.

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Steps

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I’m not sure what happened but something finally spurred me into action and I finally made it to the doctors at the end of November. It was a year ago when I went to re-register with my GP here and I remember it being Christmas time and lying to my mum about where I’d been. It was yet another year before that when I realised that I am not able to cope alone and even if it’s only a placebo effect, the medication that I took before seemed to help and I had my most productive and happy time in 20 odd years when I was taking it. The doctor didn’t ask much, it didn’t seem as though they had any of my records from when I was at university but I took one of the old boxes with me and she wrote me a new prescription for the same one.

It has been about 6 weeks since I started back on them and I think it is helping. Although they tell you it takes 4-6 weeks to take effect, I noticed around an hour after I took the first one that I felt different. It could be placebo, but my pupils were dilated and I felt energised by it like a (recreational) drug. It was almost as if I needed it. It’s difficult to know how to feel about that. I have long suspected there is something wrong with how my brain works. I know that there isn’t a very strong case for SSRIs being effective but I feel better for being on them again (despite it adding another monthly expense I can ill afford).

My general mood has improved but I still have the deeper underlying sense that life is meaningless and a crushing sense of alienation. I have been so isolated for 3 years now, it takes its toll. I still think about suicide, it seems like the only sensible thing to do sometimes. There isn’t really any reason that I want to be alive besides not inflicting the grief on my family. It’s bearable for now though. Maybe there’s still some hope for me.

Ages ago I joined a Social Anxiety group on Meetup but I’d never been to any of them since it seemed like a lot of the people in the group knew each other and I was afraid of being the new person. I did make it to one in December though, we were planning on going to a Christmas thing in the Arboretum. Only about 6 people were meant to be attending but the weather got so awful (after I’d already gone out..) that only 3 of us actually turned up. It went ok, I didn’t really say a lot but the two people I met seemed quite nice. I might go along to the next one and see how it goes. The thing is, I always feel as though I’m putting on a performance by trying to appear normal. If you are a dark, miserable person like me then you cannot “be yourself”.

The loneliness has been getting to me. I want to write more about this but it’s late and I haven’t been sleeping well. Hopefully I will remember to write more than one post every two months this year. Let’s hope 2016 is a good one.

Changes

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I remember sitting on a bench with my dad some time in the early 2000s talking about how England were bidding to host the 2006 World Cup and I started thinking how I would be 21 by that time, which seemed a very long way off, and that I would probably have a good job then and would hopefully be able to pay for me and my dad to go and see some of the matches. Back then people used to tell me that because I was good at computer stuff I would get a good job and have a lot of money and I foolishly believed them. As it turned out, that world cup was eventually hosted in Germany and by the time it rolled around I had already dropped out of university, gone to a virtually useless college course and was about to begin an extremely low paid (less than the minimum wage if you worked it out hourly) tech support job that I hated and have written about at great length on this site.

One of the traps that I fell into then and several times afterwards was assuming that, given time, things will work out or change for the better. Many times in the past before I was depressed, I used to think about things might be better in the future. The thing is, unless you can do something about it then nothing will change. I have wasted so much time and that’s why I still find myself in virtually the same situation (except massively in debt) as I was back in 2002 or whenever it was.

I don’t know how other people do it. There must be something (or many things) that I am just incapable of doing because I can think of no end of people who I used to know in the past who you would think didn’t have things together as much as me, but they have turned out vastly more successful than me (not that that is difficult, but you know what I mean). It sounds bitter and I supposed I really am bitter, to talk about this but I can’t help but feel defeated when I think about the people I knew at school that were very far from being the most intelligent or hard working, people who probably got bullied as much or more than me for being weird, who have managed to make something of their lives.

I hate showing these ugly emotions, but when I think about how I used to be thought of as clever and was picked on for that reason (among others) I feel fucking furious that I have absolutely nothing to show for it all. Why did I have to get all the downsides of being intelligent but get none of the supposed rewards?

What changed? How did they do it? I know what changed for me: nothing. In some ways I am the exact same person I have been for years. Hating myself, terrified of what people think and say about me. I think I might have been mistaken in the past. I probably could have made something of myself if I’d been able to get some kind of help and know what I know now. I didn’t used to be a completely lost cause, but with each passing day I crept closer and closer to what I am now.

I have written about this before but it bears repeating. The easiest thing in the world to do is nothing. Things will never change if you don’t make things happen. I don’t know how to do that any more, I don’t know if I have the chance to change things for the better. I will address this in a future post but there is a vicious cycle keeping me where I am and every part of it makes it impossible to break out of any of the other parts.

When I first seriously contemplated the idea that I had social anxiety and depression back in 2007, I can distinctly remember sitting exactly where I am writing this post now and I reading a forum about social anxiety which essentially started me off on what I think of as a new “chapter” of my life. One of the people who I met on that forum eventually gave me the courage to think about going back to university and even moving away to a different city, which had previously been unthinkable to me. The next two years saw probably the biggest changes I had been through in my life, including it almost ending.

That I have been on a backslide ever since I left university causes me a lot of anguish. To some people it doesn’t mean a lot, but even though I went through some enormously testing times including long periods of feeling suicidal, it was the best time of my life. I felt like I had a purpose. I sometimes wonder now if it was just escapism, but back when I was there I didn’t feel like I should be ashamed just to exist. I would not have described it this way at the time, but I was proud to be a university student at last. Nowadays I feel like I am looked down upon just for walking along the street. People here have an almost psychotic hatred for those without a job.

A few months ago I went back to the city where I lived while I was at university and it was the first time I had returned since I went to my graduation ceremony in 2012. I didn’t write about it here, only in a personal journal thing. It stirred up some strange emotions though. Last year I had seen a photo of the view I used to see from the road that led to my flat and I felt very sad that I didn’t live there any more but I wanted to go back there. It’s not an amazing place, just your average English town really. I thought about going back there a few times but I didn’t know if it would make me too sad.

Almost on a whim one day in July I decided to get the train and just go for a few hours since it doesn’t take too long to get there. When I got there I realised I could conceivably have started and finished another bachelor’s degree in the time since I left. I wrote in my journal that it felt like a dream, and it really did. I almost went back into the same routine, walking down the same part of the pavement I did for 4 years and almost as if I was on autopilot. It seems odd to write about it like this because it’s probably not a special or deeply significant place to anyone but me, but the whole experience was so surreal. I walked past where my old flat was in the halls of residence and up to the university building itself. It’s changed a little bit in appearance but it felt different somehow.

At the time I wrote how I felt as though people knew I shouldn’t be there any more, this was no longer my place to be. I walked along the roads I still knew so well but I didn’t feel welcome any more. Nobody said anything to me of course, why would they? but I felt so sad that this was no longer home to me, I was just a visitor now. I was glad I had sunglasses on because I actually got tears in my eyes.

As I returned to the train station this feeling was underlined. I used to go there most Friday’s to come back to my parent’s house for the weekend but I knew I’d be heading back to uni in a few days. This time I was going back for good though, I was only here temporarily. In my journal I wrote that, with hindsight, I was wanted here. I was welcomed by people I never thought would want me to be there, they asked me to share a house with them. I had members of the university staff fight for me to get my fees waived for the year I had to re-sit. I didn’t know how lucky I was at the time and I feel a deep sadness now that has all passed.

I don’t know if I will ever have anything like that again. I did not appreciate it at the time and I now feel like an idiot for ignoring all the good things I had back then.

I sit here, right back where I was in 2007, on the same bed, feeling the same feelings of hopelessness. This time I am older and have let another chance at making something of my life slip through my fingers. I was ridiculously lucky to get a second chance in 2008. I don’t know that I will ever be afforded another opportunity like that again.

Self Fulfilling Prophecies

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Tell people why they should dislike you enough and eventually they will. I don’t know why I do this, I just can’t seem to help it. It’s like I have to convince anyone who may have a positive opinion about me that they are wrong. This is something I have done over and over, driving away what few people who have been kind enough to talk to me.

Maybe deep down I just want people to hate me? I don’t know or understand why.

Getting Things Done

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I made a list of things that I wanted to try and get done this past week, it was mostly small things that I kept putting off for one reason or another like replying to some message that I was nervous about reading etc. I managed to get a few of them done but I’m still left with a few that are very difficult. I am not in a great situation financially and there is a bank account that I opened while at university pretty much only because it came with a free railcard and I was taking the train a lot at the time. Anyway, this account was overdrawn by a small amount and I tried to get it back in credit and just leave some money in there so they didn’t bother me but somehow it got charged again even though I wasn’t overdrawn so now it’d back in debt again. I really need to phone up and get it sorted out but I hate using the phone, especially for things like this where I am going to have to give them loads of information and I just can’t face it. There is another thing that I need to phone up and cancel because it’s costing me £20 every few months, which I can hardly afford but it’s so daunting to me that I have just left it for well over a year…

There are so many ways in which being this way has cost me huge amounts of money. The most obvious is having a degree which is supposedly in demand but not being able to do anything with it. Even if I could call my old workplace up and face going back there, I was still only getting just over minimum wage. I dropped out of university and going back ended up putting me into way more debt than everyone else my age.

One of the more pressing things I want to try and accomplish this week is something I have been trying to do for like 2 years now and get back to the doctor. I just find it so hard going back there, I can’t really explain all the reasons why. I am scared of them telling me I can’t go back on the medication I was on, the only one which worked. I am scared that even if I do, it won’t work this time. I am scared of everything about calling them to make the appointment, going there, talking to the doctor, telling them everything all over again, what they might make me do regarding mental health workers etc. I can’t go on like I have been for the last few years though. It’s getting too much to try and handle alone.

Paradoxical Feelings

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Over the last week I started talking to a new person I met online and had a few nice conversations which you might think would make me feel better but strangely I actually feel worse. I have been trying to break it down in my head as to why I feel like this and it kind of happens in a few stages. First of all I usually expect to be rejected by everyone because it is my honest belief (I don’t just say this to try and make people disagree and reassure me) that I am a boring, worthless person who is fundamentally unlikeable. If this doesn’t happen then I can occasionally have positive experiences, like how I described in a post from last year (I cannot believe a year has passed since that already..) but afterwards I start to get a sense of dread building up. On rare occasions I can fight it for a while but I inevitably end up replaying conversations or things I did over and over in my mind and thinking about how stupid and inept I came across. I usually get the urge to try and correct it by giving some sort of apology or seeking approval in some way. I feel ashamed admitting this because it sounds so pathetic but that’s what it is really. The alternative is what I am feeling right now about the most recent experience, that I feel guilty for deceiving the person into thinking I am more interesting or less of an idiot that I really am.

The main conclusion that I have drawn from this crude self-analysis is that a lot of my problems come from my fundamental beliefs about myself, which have been formed from years of experience both personally and from listening and reading about what people say about others. I know I am the kind of person who is almost universally thought of as a complete loser and looked down upon by pretty much everyone. The thing is, I don’t necessarily disagree with them. I don’t like myself at all, and I’m not just saying that for effect. This leads me to think “if I don’t like myself, why should anyone else?”

This is a big sticking point when it comes to trying to get better. I have been feeling very depressed just lately (but not actively suicidal) and fed up of not knowing how to deal with it. I read a book called Reasons to Stay Alive because I thought it might have some insight. The author gives a very good description of how depression can feel (at least in my experience) and obviously had more acute and severe anxiety than me. I couldn’t help but come away with the feeling that our situations, and the situation of a lot of people whom I have read describing their dealings with depression are very different and come from a completely different place. I think for some people, depression is a completely irrational thing. This guy had a loving girlfriend, to whom he gives enormous credit for helping him through what was a very difficult time. I’m not trying to play down anyone’s experiences, but I can see why it might not be quite so hard to find reasons to stay alive if you have that kind of support.

I find myself in the same old situation of not having anyone besides my immediate family who I can talk to or get any kind of support from. Even this is very limited because I don’t like talking to them about things because I don’t want to upset them any more than I already have done in the past. I never talk to my dad about things, my sister is so busy and stressed out by her job I don’t want to add to her troubles and my mum seems completely unable to understand why I feel the way I do even though it is clearly not a normal situation at all. Even though they are sympathetic, I cannot shake the feeling that it’s because I am related to them and doesn’t really reflect on my value as a person because people often support their family members even if they are truly awful. Maybe this makes me a bad, ungrateful person, I don’t know. I simultaneously crave, but cannot believe that I will ever have, acceptance and friendship from other people who aren’t obligated to give it.

The common thread I have seen when people write about recovering from depression is that they try to invoke the fact that you can return to some sort of state that you were in before you were depressed, and I can see why that is valuable because if you used to be OK then I’m sure it would be possible to be OK again. The thing is that some of us don’t really have those memories or experiences to look at and think “I can be like that again”. I can’t remember any prolonged period in my entire adult life where I have not been depressed. At 18 I felt like my life was falling apart because I couldn’t cope with university and this was the first time I fallen off track from what I was “supposed” to do. 19 to 21 felt like an extension of my school days, at 22 I realised work was just as bad and that people there could hate me and make my life a misery just as much as they did at school. At 23 I spent a year unemployed and isolated (as I have done from 2012 to now) my mid 20s were spent battling suicidal thoughts and actions that I have described in tediously great detail on this blog. The closest I can think of is the last year I was at university. This would hardly rank as a great situation for most people, I spent virtually every day alone and only briefly spoke to one person in my classes every now and then. I didn’t feel utterly hopeless though, perhaps that is the high water mark I have to aim for.