Empty time

My brother set off for our parents’ house this morning, so I’m house-sitting on my own again. The best way I can describe the current situation is that I’m existing in empty time. I just need it to pass, preferably with minimal awareness on my part.

I’m not doing anything useful. I’m a walking waste of space right now, and this is almost a crime given the extension I recently applied for on my dissertation. I’m reasonably sure the point of no return is around here somewhere – the point where it doesn’t matter if I complete my dissertation, because I’ll have so little time for Finals revision that I won’t be graduating anyway. Those exams are currently five weeks away. Maybe I’ve already crossed the line. I don’t know.

I’m ashamed of myself, and angry. I’m sure it won’t surprise anyone that I want to self harm, but I’m not sure what to do. The burn on the back of my hand is still one hell of an unsightly mess. If I’m honest, I think it might be infected. And my deep cutting scars bother me even more. Sleeping pills it is. And I take this as further proof of what a waste I am – how often do I do this, and mess about with meds, or blades, or lighters?

I’ll get by, for now at least. Perhaps I can sleep through tomorrow. Then Saturday/Sunday I’ll be with family, and Dr T is back on Monday. How I can even go and see Dr T I’m not sure; I don’t want to describe or explain any of this. Empty time, and empty space. Except it’s borrowed time in someone else’s space.

Ideal scenario: some kind person comes up to me, and says ‘Hey there, I’ve found this really awesome cave on a coastline in the middle of nowhere, and I need someone to look after it for me for the next few years – do you fancy moving in? I’m afraid it might be a little lonely; no one else knows this cave exists, and there’s no phone signal or internet. Are you interested..?’

Absolutely, take me there now.

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Shadows

What if I just ‘did it‘? Set a date, say in a couple of weeks’ time, got what I needed, and…just did it?

My brain is firing off in all directions at the moment, none of them productive or useful. I feel like I don’t add up to very much. I used to. I used to be this intelligent person who soared up through the education system, organised events, volunteered, made a difference. Differences. Something happened to that person, and I haven’t seen her in a couple of years. Instead I live as a shadow. Everyone says to wait and the picture will be restored…but who actually knows that for sure??

What if she isn’t coming back – what if she died? What if her time is done? My time? I don’t know that that’s such a terrible thing. She had a good run.

And I’m not sure how much I want her back anyway. Sure, she was a ‘success’, but it wasn’t the pure, happy, all-rounder success you see in the movies. Her success was achieved through distraction; a way of hiding from a sorry picture at home. She shut it out and buried herself in books, and in doing anything and everything to help the community around her, to make up for not being able to help her parents with their addictions and their broken relationships.

Plus she was never really the socialite. Throughout primary school education, one by one her ‘best friends’ turned their backs with no explanation. The lesson was learnt: don’t trust that people will be there forever – they won’t. You mustn’t need anyone, unless you want to be hurt. Her secondary school friendship group was golden, but she made herself the glue and poured her energy into entertaining and supporting others rather than accept care; that was new, and dangerous. Unreliable.

The academic success couldn’t last. She saw the warning signs at sixth form college, and now in her (repeated) final year of uni she seems to have burned out. The genetic disposition to depression finally made the light. It took a year to accept her mental illness, and unable to understand it herself let alone share it with others, she shut the rest of the world out, and effectively weakened or severed all her remaining friendships.

The shadow treads water. Breathing. Moving. Sometimes she tries to make it back overground, with a handful of pills, or hours of therapy, but the light burns. If she tries to stay up there for long she finds herself frustrated by how difficult she finds life compared to those around her. Self-blame brings blades. Trying not to self-blame brings more frustration and blades. Or burns. Or overdoses.

I don’t see a guarantee this is going to improve. And maybe that’s depression talking, taking the colour out of any picture of the future. But what if it isn’t? Or what if it’s right to leech that colour out? Condemning this shadow to another twenty, thirty, forty years of life, perhaps a lot more…how can I do that?

I realise this is a bit of a random word-vomit post, but I feel a need to express something of what’s going on in my head at the moment.

Drifting along

I got an extension on my dissertation, no problem. I didn’t have to argue my corner at all; even though this wasn’t my regular GP, she knew me well enough that she immediately started writing a medical letter to the university giving me an extra two weeks.

So that’s great, but now I’m feeling guilty because I haven’t done any work today, and I didn’t do any yesterday. This extension is not an excuse to take longer than I would otherwise on this dissertation. And I’m not using it as one, at least not deliberately anyway, but I am a bit disappointed with myself. I think I was hoping it would motivate me to really get a move on.

The burn on my hand blistered over in a couple of places and burst today, which has been pretty painful. A couple of raw patches of skin have me worried about infections, so I went out and bought some fancy-looking blister plasters and antiseptic wipes etc. I hope they work; the back of my hand is a bad place to have a serious scar (well, comparatively at least).

Mood wise…I’d still describe myself as detached, although not quite on the same peaceful level as yesterday. There’s work-related anxiety trying to poke its way back in, but it isn’t too strong. If I can get through tomorrow I’m hopeful I’ll be okay until Wednesday, as my brother is joining me in this house I’m looking after for a few days. Beyond that we’ll see, but I’m not going to worry yet.

Suuuunshine

We had a hint of summer today, but whereas that would probably raise most peoples’ moods, it brought mine down a notch. It was hot, and suddenly everyone seemed to be stripping down to t-shirts and shorts…except I can’t do that. Not without revealing some rather obvious deep red marks on my arm.

There was a time when I would have been really angry at myself over ending up in this situation, but not anymore. I’m not proud of my scars, but I’ll stand by them (ha, like I have a choice). I just hope the scar-reduction cream I have starts to make a difference, except given the size and depth of a couple of the wounds I made I can’t say I’m overly optimistic.

Sadness aside, today hasn’t been too bad. My anxiety levels have gone way down after it occurred to me last night that I could ask for an extension on my dissertation deadline on medical grounds. I don’t know if it would be granted, and either way I’m not sure if it’s a great idea given that it would mean eating into my final exam revision time, but for now I’m just grateful that the idea at least makes me feel a bit better.

I also realised I needed to call the psych hospital to cancel my appointment for this Friday – it was supposed to be a six week review of the trazodone, but since I’ve been taken off it I don’t see the point in a review. To be honest I think my GP should have been the one to contact my psychiatrist on that front, but he’s busy and on leave now so I figured I’d make the call…I only spoke to the secretary, but she didn’t seem very impressed at the change of plan and told me to expect a call back. Hmmm.

Wound inspection

Today I had the appointment with the nurse that my GP insisted on, the appointment to have my self-harm wounds looked over. I was very nervous. With the exception of seeing my GP, I’ve had some unpleasant experiences with receiving medical attention for DSH. My past hospital visits didn’t involve any explicit nastiness, but it was always clear that the staff weren’t impressed. I didn’t really blame them; after all, my deliberate actions were taking up time that other patients might have benefitted from. But then again, I was only ever at hospital on the instruction of doctors, and I was already scared and ashamed. The roughly-performed treatments, the bad attitudes, the judging looks, they didn’t help me at all.

I was hopeful things would be a bit better with the nurse at my GP surgery though, because I’ve seen her a few times before for blood tests/travel vaccinations, and she’s always been nice (although she did once tell me off for not eating enough, but that was fair). Unfortunately her computer was running slowly, so when she called me in I had to tell her myself why I was there.

To my relief she didn’t ask me about the causes behind the DSH; she just commented sympathetically that I was having a bad time, and then took a look at my right arm. I have about 15 or so cuts scattered across my forearm, all scabbed over except for one that isn’t really cooperating with the butterfly stitches. But the nurse smiled and said I had done a really good job of taking care of myself with these injuries; all of them are clean, and the stitching has worked really well on most of them. Within a minute of entering I was allowed to leave, with some strong reassurances that if I ever have a wound that isn’t healing I should come right back, and she’d help me without judging.

I’m pleased that’s out of the way, and pleased that I was right about my GP overreacting a little. Maybe he’ll trust me more next time (although lets hope there isn’t a next time).

I KNEW I should have cancelled my GP appointment

Note to self: next time just cancel it. Don’t question whether or not it’s sensible, or mood-related, just cancel it.

So I saw my GP this afternoon, and came out almost in tears (pretty rare for me, ‘soldier on‘ and all that). Why? Well, I’m pleased to say it wasn’t because my GP was angry, or told me off. My GP never does that; he might screw up his face or sigh when I’m reporting something bad, but there’s never anger.

Initially I didn’t think I could tell him anything – I just sat there and looked at the floor guiltily. To be honest that told him most of what he needed to know, but eventually I admitted to cutting. And I admitted to my pill-related activities, and how much I hated myself for promising him that I wouldn’t abuse last week’s prescription meds.

The first thing my GP talked about was meds, saying that slowly titrating off sertraline (Zoloft) and slowly building up the trazodone (Desyrel) doesn’t seem to be the right approach. Instead we made a plan for the next two days: come off the sertraline completely, and move up to 200mg of trazodone. Except he didn’t give me enough of the latter for me to do that, but by Thursday I’ll be taking 150mg which is three times what I’m on now.

With the meds sorted, he moved onto ‘keeping me safe’:

Should I be ringing the hospital, asking them if you can be admitted to stabilize…?

‘NO, THAT IS NOT HAPPENING. NO WAY.’

…okay, remember I’m asking, not telling…’

Is there a friend or someone who could stay with you for the next few days? No. Generally people don’t know, and I refuse to inconvenience the ones that do. They have their own problems. Okay…well look, given you’re not managing to work, and that this pain you’re in is only going to get worse as your deadlines and exams come closer over the next two months, perhaps you should drop out and save yourself the agony? No. I can’t. My parents don’t know about any of this. Okay…so you tell me, what could we do to make you safe? Nothing. I can’t think of anything that I couldn’t undo.

And then as I privately muse over how I should tell him there isn’t a solution and leave, he makes things worse. He tells me he’s going to make me an appointment to see the nurse tomorrow so she can check the damage I’ve done to my arms. I said that really wasn’t necessary, that I’d stitched them up myself with strips, but he wasn’t convinced (not that he looked, and I had them covered up anyway), and said he’d also like me to see the nurse so she can check I’m okay tomorrow. Oh fantastic. And he wants me to check in with him again on Friday.

AND THEN my GP very firmly told me that there is absolutely no point continuing with my studies right now, and that I should consider dropping out of university altogether. Bring my parents in to meet him and explain everything. Find a job, move on from academia, and get better. But I’ve heard this before; when I argued against taking time out this time last year, I was told I needed to give studying a break and would get better as a result. And we know how well that has worked.

My ‘homework’ is to think about a dream job, so we can work backwards in planning how to achieve it. The appointments are made (I’m now seeing the nurse on Thursday). I left. And tried not to cry.

I wish I didn’t have a brain; it hurts. First off, I feel awful about this appointment, because my GP was trying SO HARD to help me, and I didn’t help him in the slightest. That wasn’t deliberate and I wasn’t trying to be difficult; I had my own firm reasons behind every ‘no’ I gave. But I’m also stubborn, and very reluctant to believe that other people might know what’s best for me. My GP cares A LOT, and I try to shut him out. So yeah, I feel very guilty at how frustrating and difficult I made things.

Second…this dropping out thing…it can’t happen. It isn’t an option. I sometimes feel kind of pathetic when I admit that the thought of my parents suddenly finding out that a) I’m seriously mentally unwell right now and b) I’m dropping out for a second time scares the hell out of me despite me being in my twenties, but actually it’s fair. I’m financially dependent on them, so me suspending again means loaning me more money (a job would maybe cover rent, but this city is expensive and I’d also need to pay tuition fees etc). There’s also the problem that they don’t really understand depression etc, and would be firmly in the ‘laziness’ camp. And of course there’s the fact that I’ve effectively lied about my health improving continuously for the last few months (their current impression is that I have mild depression).

I can’t think anymore. I don’t even want to go to therapy tomorrow because this is such a contrast to how I was feeling last week. I don’t want to describe what’s happened since then.

I want to curl up and disappear.

P.S – want to know a secret? My GP doesn’t even know the worst of it. On Saturday I realized that although my highly impulsive, reckless state of mind was strange, I’d actually experienced it once before…about a month ago, minutes before I tried to kill myself.

Possessed?

**Trigger Warning**

Something really weird is going on. It’s almost like I’ve been partially possessed by something evil.

I’ve been self-harming on and off for the last couple of hours, and I’ve introduced myself to burning. The pain is a lot more intense than cutting, and my arm is now host to a scattering of blisters and red lines that sting.

Before I started on that, something inside me decided that I’m too fat, so no dinner, and an hour on my exercise bike. No more food. Lots more exercise.

I was eyeing up my pillbox, but there isn’t very much in it. And I used up all my Nytol last night, so that’s gone. I didn’t take my trazodone because I really wanted that Nytol to knock me out, so I’ve doubled up my dose tonight. 100mg of trazodone has me kind of spaced out; brain/movement disconnect, feeling a bit sick, shaking etc.

I might call my GP surgery tomorrow and cancel Tuesday’s appointment. I don’t want to see my doctor.

I don’t know what’s happening right now, but if I’m perfectly honest, a little part of me is scared. The rest of me is smiling.