Tag Archives: suicide

The Demon

Yesterday was World Mental Health Day. I considered posting on social media about my own mental health journey. But I decided against it. What if my housemates/family/extended family read it? 

Revealing my deepest darkest demons could work against me, I feared. So I kept silent, ashamed of what I’ve been through.

But today, a sadness overwhelms me. So many gorgeous, creative, fun people come to the conclusion that the only solution is to die.

I pause in remembrance of these people and all they had to offer the world. And this blog post starts bubbling up inside me. And when that happens, I have to stop everything and write.

I was a sensitive child, one who thought and felt deeply. I still do. I grew up to be extremely insecure- lacking confidence and filled with fear.

I had my good times of course, periods when I felt and looked good. When I excelled at school and college and when I was prolific in my writing. When I enjoyed hanging out and partying with friends, flirting with men, holidaying on Greek islands and adventuring across continents.

But the demon was always lurking, only a scratch beneath the surface. Ready to remind me that I wasn’t good enough, that I’d fail, that there was something wrong with me. That I’d never be fixed.

Brainwashed by this beast, I hated myself and wished I were different. I’d try to be normal but my version of normal was an unattainable, unsustainable perfection. I’d push and compare and question myself so much that I’d eventually be spent, both physically and mentally.

Devoid of energy, I’d withdraw. Afraid to show my face. Feeling as ugly on the outside as the inner voices that belittled me and held me back.

In my teens, I developed an eating disorder and in my late teens, I was put on antidepressants. I stayed on medication for years, hoping to feel better, do better, be better.

But my low self-esteem brought me to people and situations that reinforced my opinion of myself. I gave up hobbies, left jobs, dropped out of college and went on the dole. I didn’t believe myself capable of anything more.

depression

At 22 years of age, I met the man who would become my husband. He begged me to stop smoking and drinking alcohol. He asked me to dress differently and not have male friends. He convinced me to start practising Islam. He wanted me to change my name and wear a headscarf.

I knew I couldn’t succeed at my own life so why not take on a new identity? Losing myself in baggy robes was a relief. Maybe I could be saved.

The relationship was tumultuous. He wanted a completely different wife. Here was yet another example of my inadequacy.

After we got married, I hit a really low point. I was so agitated, I wanted to bounce my head off the walls.

I took a few days off work and when I admitted to my boss that I suffered from depression, she fired me on the spot. I didn’t contest it. I wasn’t able for anything. I wasn’t able for life.

Family and friends marvelled at how I wasn’t fulfilling my potential. I was academically clever and I won awards for my writing. I was attractive, articulate and athletic. Yet I consistently doubted myself and gave in to the negative self-talk.

Time and time again, I’d make a decent stab at living in the real world. But before long, I’d wear myself out, self-sabotage then crawl into a hole for another while. I simply couldn’t handle grappling with the monster in my mind AND being a functioning member of society.

In those moments, I honestly believed that I’d be better off dead. I felt lost, alone and so broken that nobody could get through to me. Nobody could love me out of the chasm.

It’s taken me many years of highs and lows, hard work and self-care to get to where I am now. I’m proud to say that I’m doing well.

I’m living on purpose and helping others to do the same by sharing what I’ve learned. I’m showing people that they’re not alone, that we all go through hard times and that there is a way (there are many ways) out of the demon’s stranglehold.

The monster is still only a scratch beneath the surface. When I don’t practice self-care, when I’m not true to myself or when I have a few too many drinks, I tunnel under to where he’s waiting for me. And then, despite all the personal development I’ve undertaken, I can still be hypnotised.

Thankfully, I always catch a glimmer of light and I pull myself back out again. Then I shine that light on the monster and ask him what he wants. I understand where he’s come from and I listen to what he tells me. He’s not as scary as I once believed.

The purpose of this blog post is to tell you that I know how it feels – I’ve experienced the craziness and the desperation to make it stop.

What I’m trying to say is that you’re not alone. How you’re feeling right now won’t last. Nothing does. You will feel better. You’re worth fighting for. Look for the light because it is there.

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Images: Google

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“Depression is a friend, not my enemy” by Conor Cusack

Have a look at this amazing blog on depression, written by Irishman Conor Cusack. Conor bravely, honestly and perfectly describes the pain of depression. The most amazing part of this article is when he calls depression his friend, not his enemy. He admits that:

“Once or twice a year, especially when I fall into old habits, my ‘friend’ pays me a visit. I don’t push him away or ignore him. I sit with him in a chair in a quiet room and allow him to come. I sit with the feeling. Sometimes I cry, other times I smile at how accurate his message is. He might stay for an hour, he might stay for a day. He gives his message and moves on.”

Emotion welled up in me as I read his words. Conor believes that depression is “a message from a part of your being to tell you something in your life isn’t right and you need to look at it.” I agree.

It’s so important to sit with how you’re feeling, to ask yourself what’s needed for you to be able live an authentic life, and to really listen to yourself even when all you want to do is run away.

If you would like an insight into how someone with depression is feeling or if you would like some reassurance that you’re not alone, this article is a must-read.

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Alive

On Sunday, I put my back out at the gym. For the rest of the day, I was in a considerable amount of pain and could hardly move. I felt rather sorry for myself as I lay in bed. I was cranky and bored. I realised that I don’t make a very good patient. In fact, I am incredibly impatient because I want to get better quickly so that I can do all the things I had planned.

Last night, I went to see The Sessions in The Riverbank Arts Centre. The movie is based on a man with polio who was mostly paralysed from the neck down. He was a poet and a journalist with a great sense of humour. Despite his predicament, he was able to reach out to experience life and love.

This morning, I sipped a soy latte in the Keadeen Hotel while a large group of deaf people laughed and signed excitedly beside me. They were full of fun and togetherness.

And I just watched a clip from The Saturday Night Show with 16-year-old Donal Walsh who is terminally ill with cancer. This brave, inspiring young man spoke out about suicide and how he is grateful for every extra day he has to live. He hopes that his death will make people appreciate life more. He is sad to be leaving behind all the beautiful things of this world. Since his prognosis, he has given up school, travelled, and raised over €50,000 for Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin.

It was as though I was being constantly reminded of how lucky I am and how I need to put things into perspective. A healthy or seemingly perfect life may not be as rich as the lives  of some of these so-called dying or disabled people. If you are able to open yourself to love, able to share and enjoy the wonderful moments of life with family and friends, able to laugh and learn and experience, and able to really live life, then you are truly blessed. It is then that you are really alive.

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No More Excuses

It’s all well and good having brilliant flashes of insight into our behaviour. It’s marvellous to come to some understanding as to why we might be miserable. We can have many an Aha moment as we read tonnes of self-help books and watch endless YouTube clips of Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra. But what’s the point if we never actually change? We moan:

“I’m exhausted because I push myself too hard. I’m constantly striving for perfection. Because I think I’m only worthy of love and acceptance when I’m perfect.”

What a wonderful realisation! But what can we do with it? We might take a little rest (if even) and resolve to love ourselves unconditionally, before falling right back into our old self-destructive patterns. Working too hard, exercising and dieting to excess, and denying ourselves any morsel of pleasure in life… until the next time we binge or act lazy or reconnect with a bad habit; until we fall ill or get depressed and can no longer do all those things that make us feel we deserve a space on this planet. And yet again, we punish ourselves and cry, and wonder what’s the point of life… And if we don’t break down completely or (worst case scenario) decide to take our own lives, we pick ourselves up, wipe away our tears, root out those Mooji clips and dusty Thich Nhat Hanh books and start all over again…

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this. At least we’re trying. I know I do the exact same thing, time and time again. I thought my life would never be the same after watching an inspiring movie, after being introduced to Byron Katie’s work, after reading Awareness, Mutant Message Down Under, Veronika Decides to Die, The Power of NowAnd I really believed it. Every single time. Until my next spell at rock bottom, when I was left wondering where it all went wrong.

Maya Angelou wrote, “When you know better, you do better.” So, if we know what’s to be expected from that sort of conduct, why not save time, energy and heartache and just change, once and for all?

All the motivational books and videos and quotations do help. But they can only bring us forward a certain amount. It’s not called “self-help” for nothing. Ultimately, it’s you, and only you, who can help yourself. People can give you advice, tips and recommendations, but if you’re not ready to take them on board or if you’re unwilling to change, then it’s not going to do much good, is it?

“You can’t teach anybody anything, only make them realise the answers are already inside them.” Galileo

It’s much easier telling others how to live their lives, and to spot where they’re going wrong. We can talk all we want about needing to transform our thinking, but when it comes to actually making a change, most of us chicken out. Because it’s unfamiliar and scary. It takes courage, determination and persistence to change.

I’m not going to finish this off with a persuasive video clip or a book list that’s guaranteed to change your life.

Just change. Do it.

Images: http://blamethecrane.tumblr.com/; http://stylishwebdesigner.com/50-stunning-photographs-to-refresh-your-mind/

Self-hatred: the boogeyman beneath the bed

Self-hatred is rarely spoken about. You dare not breathe its existence because you don’t wish to acknowledge its dark presence. You wouldn’t dream of admitting that it plagues you because you presume that everybody else is free of this scary demon. Yet it is evident in many people’s lives. You may not have witnessed the tornado but you can watch the footage of the carnage it has caused.

Self-hatred is very real. Why else do you eat until you throw up? Or drink until you’ve lost your loved ones? Why do you gamble away all of your possessions? Or do so many drugs that you repeatedly fling yourself into life-threatening situations?

As you read this, you may be thinking that you’re one of the lucky ones. You must not hate yourself because you don’t suffer from such a horrid addiction. However, some of us keep the self-hatred at bay by pretending that we’re perfect, and engaging in other less visibly destructive behaviours. We strive to win self-imposed challenges. We educate ourselves. We go to work every day and earn lots of money. We exercise. We score a wonderful partner and raise a family.

Sounds idyllic, right? But how many of you are terrified that you’ll be found out? That others will discover that you are not as perfect as you’ve portrayed yourself to be? If you were sure of yourself, you wouldn’t be so insecure about your partner’s possible infidelities, or the prospect of your peers hating you. You wouldn’t dread the impending disaster of old age, when you’ll no longer be fit and beautiful, when there will be no more reason for anyone to love you. Because you don’t love yourself. If you loved yourself unconditionally, you wouldn’t be so afraid to stop (doing, giving, achieving) in case the self-image you have so carefully constructed implodes and you are left with nothing.

The moment any of these suppressants are removed from your life, the monster of self-hatred rears its ugly head. You lose your job. Your partner leaves you or your children move out. You’re too old to play sport and you’re not as attractive as you used to be. You spiral into a deep depression. You hate yourself.

For those of you lucky enough to have escaped the clutches of this awful affliction, I will describe to you what it is to hate yourself. It is the worst kind of agitation. You cry a never-ending river of tears. You want to smash the mirror and claw at your arms. You tell yourself that you’re no good, that your life isn’t worth living, that you’re a burden on your loved ones, that you’ll never get better, that you want to die.

If you’re feeling so lost and confused that you don’t know which way to turn, if you don’t know what to do to make this pain go away, and you have no idea how to silence this ogre of self-hatred, this is very good news indeed. It means that you are no longer willing or able to suppress these frightening feelings. You have nowhere left to run and hide. Know that you are just about to reach the summit of a long and arduous climb. Possibility stretches out to the horizon and beyond. Yes, it’s scary to be so high up but the view from here is a promise of beauty and peace.

If you have reached this point, it is time to confront your self-hatred. Really look at it. Gaze into the jaws you had so feared. What is it trying to tell you? Stare into the swirling fire of its eyes. What do you see reflected there? Ask for its name. You might be surprised to learn that it is not called self-hatred after all. Really listen to what it tells you. Then thank this strange creature for roaring loud enough for you to finally hear it.

Why do you think you hate yourself? Why do you feel you deserve such violence? Figure out if these thoughts have really, one hundred per cent, come from you. Maybe you took on a misguided belief system at a young age. This might have come from society or loved ones. For many years, you held their beliefs as your own. Perhaps, now, because they don’t ring true for you and you’re straining against them, you’re beginning to doubt yourself. You fear the unknown. And this fear turns into hate, which you are directing at the only person who will take it- yourself.

It is extremely painful to question all that you have known. You (and those around you) may not want to hear the answers you come up with. Perhaps you don’t belong in third level education or behind a desk or in front of a computer. You might not fancy the type of people you think you should. Perhaps you have been living a lie for your entire life.

It is possible that you took on a distorted image of yourself as a child. I’m only deserving of love if I behave in a certain way. But this was your perception seen through the eyes of a child. You are no longer three years old! You are an adult. You can change the rules. Isn’t that liberating?

The world doesn’t have to be a difficult, hostile, scary place. You don’t have to work so hard to be allowed to feel okay. You can enjoy life, find out what you’re passionate about, laugh, and have fun. You can learn to love yourself, not for how much you work, how many compliments you receive, or how many miles you run a day. Love yourself for the radiance of your spirit. That bright ball of light and colour that goes beyond form and structure and makes you who you are. And every time you silently scream the sick song of self-hatred, remember that vibrant energy within. And smile. Because you are going to do things differently.