Living Better with Depression, Bipolar Disorder and/or Anxiety: strategies, tactics & tools for the short, medium & long-term. Based on my long journeys back from the Dark Side & and falls from high places, past, present & continuing....


the danger of making assumptions you don't know you're making...

"yes, but have you noticed there's no STOP button?"  (c)#artbysense

Ok, I got sent a response to one of my posts that has pulled me up short and got me chastising myself for an arrogant fool. 

I'm kicking myself because without realising it, I have been operating this Blog on the unconscious assumption that anyone reading it has had their Long Dark Teatime of the Soul, and is already at or past a point where they have decided on at least one reason to keep on breathing.  Which is patently stupid, as I know from personal experience it's neither true, nor can I claim to have reached that point myself as a permanent state. 

It's a visceral blow to me tonight as I reflect on the message I've just read.  Not least because I know and respect the person that sent it, but also because I have been writing under the misapprehension that although I take great care in writing & editing these posts, I really didn't think they would have any power or meaning for anyone.  I see so much lightweight faff online posing as helpful or useful info, I had an unconscious belief that people wouldn't be able to tell the difference between superficial information and an attempt to go deeper anyway.

And I apologise most humbly in advance if it seems in the least that I am mining another person's hardship for blog-fodder. I can't emphasise enough this is not the case.  

No, what I'm trying to highlight here is my own arrogance and the utter imprudence of blithely making assumptions, even if they were unconscious. I feel sick at my hypocrisy and slapped in the face. "WAKE UP!!"

Because I know. Every cell in my body knows how it is to need a damn good reason to not just blot out existence and finally be done with it. Moment by endless, aching moment. First searchingly;  a reason, a reason, but there is nothing to latch on to. The heart will take no joy in all the usual dependable, meaningful actions.  Then desperately; why? Why? Still nothing, but then the horrible suspicion there might be nothing, nothing you can touch deeply anymore, that the previous spark in your eyes was there because you were hungry and Lyfe had something of sustenance for you to Eat.  Now stomach is ashes and you could not digest any flavour or nutrition anyway, were it even set before you.

I feel powerless right now; finding One's Self bereft of the will to Lyfe is such a fragile, lonely and utterly precarious place to be, and I am devastated to realise that I have no heartening words of encouragement to offer.  Because truthully, I believe the only point is the one on the end of my finger, and that it actually DOESN'T matter if I am here or not.  But strangely enough, I find a peace and freedom in that, that the pressure to find a reason to live just can't match.  

The need to find a point to one's existence is one of the most fundamental acts of personal free will that one will ever have the chance to discover and put into practice.  But it needs time and space to reach our real breadths.  Our society does not require or even openly recommend that individuals have any training and/or practice in reflecting on the meaning of one's life.  Our society makes a competitive virtue of keeping busy, headlines and advertising throw us from one heightened state to another. We are manipulated & motivated for the most part by vague, nebulous urges to "fill your life" FILL. YOUR. LIFE.  Like empty space and quiet is the enemy; like all the simple melodies that make up moments of your existence should be piled atop one another in a simultaneous set of symphonies.  You are encouraged to play the game, as if there is no other way.  So when trauma or chronic struggle, or ongoing unfulfillment starts to make everything in our life lose all value, we are left floating in a big, empty space with nowhere firm to set our feet.  And who amongst us can look into that abyss and not eventually flinch at what stares back? (If you put your own hand up you are lying, drop the front).

Fuck trying to look for a reason to live.  I really think you come to understand the reason long after you have made the decision, and it can just be overwhelming to go that deep when you're in crisis.  You only need a reason for now. Just one to get you off the roof. 

 My most powerful thought that draws me back is thinking of the mess that my loved ones will have to deal with when they find my body, and I just can't put anyone through that trauma. (Dead bodies are icky and tragic and traumatic). That and I can't leave my dog with no owner.  Whilst I empathise mightily with people that do feel they have to go through with it, on a personal level it eventually makes me feel super selfish, and I lean heavily on that fact time and time again.  I don't know whether that's my politics talking or just my personality, but it has worked so far.  And this is how you start..

Call somebody.  

It sounds a lot simpler than it often is when you're messed up, but if you feel you are being driven to jump and you don't know where to go or how to stop that feeling get on the phone.   
I'm gunna insert part of my reply to my friend, because I can't find a second set of words to explain and encourage:

"I am still here because of two things; one short term for the immediate now, and one straightaway for the time needed. You need to get in the direct company of people that either care, or people whose job it is to look after you. you must not be alone. I have called Lifeline with the packet of pills and water in my hand, when I had noone else. I have called the Crisis Assessment Team (CAT) when i had tried and missed and was looking to try again. They didn't lock me up, like I was scared they, would, they just listened and then helped me. Just DON'T BE ALONE.

You probably don't feel worth saving, that's ok but please don't trust those feelings. the very fact that you wrote me means that some deeper part of you really wants there to be a brighter day, and I promise you that while there might not be some big spotlight shiny forever, or a rainbow-tinted 'other side', there are precious and golden bright moments somewhere ahead of you, if you just take one more breath right now.

do it for the people that love you, do it for your dog
[or your cat/horse/snake], do it to spite every stupid fool that ever disrespected the spark that makes you You.

Now the immediate thing. take one breath.... see if you're still there at the end of it. Now see if you are still there at the end of another breath... still there? try another and see if you are still there when you finish breathing that one out.. keep checking. just one breath, check, repeat. I have gotten through whole hellish nights just trying for one breath at a time. it's not fun, but somehow it often works, and you're not having heaps of fun now, so what's to lose trying it?

I was (am) scared to reply to you, because I don't feel qualified to be of any help, but the thought of not replying, especially just because i was afraid, was much worse to contemplate. Please don't wait for someone to ask if you're ok. If you've stopped functioning, however you define that for yourself, please please try to take that first step in letting people know you don't work any more and you need help. I only know that eventually I couldn't do it alone anymore, and laying that at someone's feet (in my case, a doctor at the health clinic) was instrumental in helping me get to a position where i had my basic needs sorted out (shelter, food, services etc), which then enabled me to start the long road to addressing my fucked mental state.

We really need you on the planet.  Honestly, it's the people who have the hardest time here that we need the most.  Because you will not just exist without a good enough reason, you do not accept this world the way it as (and you shouldn't, look at the place!), you will not just blindly keep doing what everyone else is doing simply because every one is doing it so it must be normal. IT IS NOT NORMAL, IT IS JUST COMMON, and you have every right to feel uncomfortable, and wrong and pissed off and overwhelmed.  You are a product & a reflection of our sick world, and it is actually a sign of mental health that you have trouble making your way here.  Any sensible person would!   The only thing we have to change around, is our need to harm ourselves in the face of it.  We are simultaneously powerful and powerless. Our single voice is lost against the vast wall that is humanity, but person to person we have the power to change our world. I don't totally know how, I'm still working that out as I go, but I do know that we each,  and the personal connections we forge for ourselves, are the most powerful reasons we have for keeping on going.  

I have lost more Loved Ones to suicide than most people have had hot dinners. I don't want any of us to add to that number, or for any of you to read my obituary any day soon, so I promise I will keep looking for reasons to breathe if you will promise also.  I'm not asking you to commit to living, but let's commit to the spirit of the search. I'll think of you when I'm on the ledge, and you think of me when you are on yours.  We are each a strand in the web of life, each assisting all other strands to maintain the whole form. Every strand that snaps makes the whole weaker, makes a light go out and lessens any chance we have to bite back at the world, and shape it a little more to our liking.  

The world is a big place, but your world is as small or large as you need it to be, and it's yours to live how you like, regardless of what any person, law or convention has to say about it. 

 IF YOU DON'T FEEL COMFORTABLE CALLING A FRIEND, CALL SOMEONE WHO KNOWS HOW TO HELP: You won't just get thrown in a funny farm, you will just get a chance to take the pressure off yourself RIGHT NOW. Stuff the future, it's only now we have to get through. I'm sorry I don't have answers but I do know you are not alone, you only feel like it.  We are out there, help us help you to hang in there, by hanging in there too.  Just for Now.

Suicide line: 1300 651 251
free, professional anonymous help, 24 hrs a day, across Victoria

Lifeline 13 11 14 (these guys have helped me in the past)
https://www.lifeline.org.au/Get-Help/Online-Services/crisis-chat - online live chat counselling

Beyond Blue 1300 22 46 36 
24 hour support service 

Alternatively, just visit any doctor or Health Service, plonk yourself down and tell them you don't work properly any more.  Most Health Centres won't charge you, or require an appointment.  I don't know how to end this neatly, but I have a picture in my head of all of us sticking our middle fingers up to the dickheads and yelling "THE BEST REVENGE IS AN INTERESTING LIFE!" Up yours, haters and judgers, life is messy and we are Real. xx