Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Oh, the Irony. Coming alive in a time of pandemic.

Oh, the irony.
30+ years of being various degrees of suicidal
an now we have a pandemic -
I want to live.

I'll take a moment to unpack this one.

My depression started somewhere in seventh or eighth grade. It's possible it started earlier, but I have no memories earlier except for a very few, so let's say - around 12.

At age 12 I started to self-harm. And 'escape' was always in my thoughts.
I didn't know much as a pre-teen, but trust me I knew I wanted out.
Out was still a fantasy in my head of rescue or of running away.

Other people, with other mental issues might have managed to escape on their own.
I couldn't.
I was the very epitome of learned helplessness.
Added to that was incredible ambivalence and no idea of who I was.

Where would I escape to?
Who was I to even think that escape was possible?
Who was I to think I even deserved better?
This was my lot. Suck it up. Manage.
Who did I think I was?

As a teenager, my resources changed.
I had access to a car and endless mountain roads.
I was always safe in my car. I felt 'in control' of something.
And here I started to think that maybe I could control at least my death.

My fantasies of escape became fantasies of dying.
I wore black constantly. I was erasing myself from my own life. (Not that there was much to erase.)
I was vanishing before my own eyes.
And I was content with that.

I was content with this process of unbecoming because I had a way out. Sitting in the driveway was a 1980s bright orange mustang. Ugly as sin. But the straight 6 engine was a beast.

Having a way out made staying easier.
Because I knew I didn't have to stay.
I had a choice.
Of all the things in my life that were broken, out of my control, dangerous, or terrifying.
I had control over one thing.

How does all of this relate to today's situation?
For better than 30 years I managed to face tomorrow because I knew that if I didn't want to, if it was too hard, I didn't have to.
I could stop.

In my 20s, as I saw all my friends growing and flying and becoming these spectacular people. I was sheathed in lead.
The learned helplessness and the 'shoulds' of my family ruled every aspect of my life.

I slept a lot.
And I hoped I wouldn't wake.
And when I was awake I would actively ideate suicide.
I came close to death a couple of times.
And I had my first hallucination. Thankfully also my last.

The 30s were calmer, at least on the surface. I finally found help for the depression, but not for the problem at the root of all of it.
Ideation swang back and forth between passive and active.

As my 30s wore on I found the pendulum spent more time towards the passive side.
That was good. I was more able to function.
But that was all it was - function.

This joi de vivre that people seem to expect other people to have was completely missing.
I'm not saying I was never happy, but I am saying every day was a trudge. An exercise in existing.

So, where I slept through most of my 20s, my 40s were marked by a type of emotional numbness. And on occasion, the ice beneath my feet would break.
That would plunge me into terror.

A couple of years ago (2,3) I finally made the connection with cptsd and found a good therapist to work through it. I'm still working on it. I will for the rest of my life.
I'm over 50 and only now discovering how to live. I mourn so much of my life because I missed it.

So here's the irony:
I'm writing. I adore my husband. I am finally discovering who I am.
I have put most of my desire for death aside.
I want to live. I have something to live for.

Here, at a very scary moment in a world that I have always shunned because of fear instilled in me, at a moment when life seems most precarious, most easily lost.
Now - I want to live.

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