I woke up this morning at 7 am, after sleeping for about 30 hours.
I wrote this very emotional, desperate thing on a text file right before going to sleep, last Friday night:
“I want to cry. I want to throw myself to the world and not be responsible for myself anymore, not to think… I want to turn into liquid and just flow… forever. I feel scattered. Away from everything and everybody, like a transparent bubble of steel keeping me apart from the outside world. If only it was a hamster ball it would be at least fun to roll around, but no, it just sits there with me inside. It’s awfully boring and doesn’t seem to end.”
That morning I also thought it would be a great idea to self harm. I have never done it, and never considered doing it before, not physically at least… maybe psychologically more than a few times. I have thought about it several times in the past, always thinking about other people who do it and trying to connect my experiences with it, all in a very hypothetical “why do they do it?” and “would I do it in their place?” way. I have grasped enough knowledge to understand that self harm goes beyond the little emo- kid- with- a- razor- who- wants- to- show- their- shallow- scars- to- the- world. Sure these people have their own issues to work through, but for now, this post won’t deal with them. Instead, I’m talking about self harm as a psychological escape measure and when it becomes a habit.
There are many kinds of these psychological escape measures, one for every mind. Ever since I’ve had depression, which is years ago, I’ve created one mechanism after another. The main concept is; if you’re feeling like your world is falling and trapping you inside, sometimes you develop holes that get you out of that reality and offer a temporary relief. It’s what our mind does, so probably most humans have experienced it to some degree.
When the stories spread in uni about my behavior and depression, some people decided to try to get close to me, talking about their own experiences and how they cope with them, and many times advising me to use their coping resources like they were interchangeable. For example, many classmates (mostly guys) drink until their brains shut off completely. Have you had that intense, desperate feeling of wanting to shut your brain off? Well, alcohol seems to be pretty efficient in doing that! If that works, chances are you’ll want to do it every time you need it. If your source of pain is chronic, you might need it more than once for sure. It is only a temporary solution; the original cause hasn’t been taken care of.
And why would we want to choose a temporary solution instead of trying to solve the origin of all evil? Sounds stupid when you put it this way. I mean… Where are your priorities dude?
The thing is… priorities never stay the same at all times. They shift constantly (I have this mental image where each priority is represented with one little block that slides up and down, shifting positions with their neighbors. The one on top is on white, and they become darker and darker as they go down to places we cannot see). ANYWAY, the ones on top are not there by grace; they need to earn their wings. Motivation is usually the fuel to keep them floating on.
So, back to the plot. A person taking the escape path usually knows that this is not a real solution. However, solutions are not important now; comfort is. If it offers comfort, it will be repeated until comfort is no longer a pure white block anymore.
I started talking about self harm and alcoholism. But there are as many ways out as there are people, some more harmful than others, but all of the same nature. Mine? Well, when I’m infinitely depressed, and can no longer take it, I make myself sleep until I think no more. Hypersommnia comes as an inherent symptom of atypical depression, but is my brain somehow using it? I don’t know, and this is the kind of question that always arises when trying to tell my own mind apart from a mental illness… maybe there’s not a limit as such.
Anyway, depending where you see it from, the ability of sleeping on command can be a big advantage… at least when compared to other ways. Most of my problems with work though (that have me on the edge of being kicked out of school) have happened when I’ve been severely depressed, and cannot think, or do anything, much less work, and all my energies focus on getting as fast as possible to a place away from everyone where I ultimately end up sleeping for several hours, and several days with little pauses for bathroom and food. Because I know I’m safe when I’m sleeping. Everything is okay when I’m sleeping. Sleeping is comfort to me like no other thing.
“Sleeping is bad for you”
I haven’t been doing too well lately (days, weeks, who knows, who cares). However, this week I told myself I was going to be strong, and not run away to sleep. Not this time.
On Friday, I returned from vacations to work. I was still not doing well, but I figured staying at home might do more harm, along with preoccupation and anxiety from my family members that never leads anywhere useful. So I went to work… I don’t remember much details of what happened, but I ended up very early in the bathroom panicking really bad. My first impulse was getting the hell out of there into a place where I could sleep. NO. I cannot do that this time; I have promised myself not to.
I thought running away to sleep would just make me lose another day of work… how many of them will be? Am I ever going to be ready? “Get up and face your fears and work, and be brave… stop being so ridiculous.” and all that… I told myself.
There was a mirror in there and I was so utterly disgusted of it. I believe that had never happened to me. I like mirrors… I am a camera whore… I usually don’t dislike my image the least bit.
Maybe I just had never panicked in a room with mirrors before. But it was the most pathetic thing I’ve seen. Nothing made me calm down. I could not escape to the original source of comfort, I had promised myself not to.
And then it happened… “I am in a health facility… with lots of sharp, sterilized things. I can go outside unnoticed, take a couple of these objects without being seen, and return to the restroom. It would now become an even battle against the horrible person in the mirror that was hurting me so bad, now I could hurt her”. One of the things that always told me I would never cut is that my tolerance to pain is Zero. Well, now it didn’t matter much, and the comfort it offered was a thousand times more valuable. It was perfect… “any place in my skin that is not visible, and It would calm me down, and I would return to work, and I would not lose another day of work, and I would not have to use my sleeping resource. Yes, sure, cutting is more dramatic, but not really… it’s much better than missing several days jeopardizing the only chances left to graduate. I need to graduate NOW, I cannot lose more time.”
I noticed I was calm, relaxed and with a grin on my face.
So I got out slowly, but instead of finding a clear path, many people I knew came by. Sensing a lot of talking and a possibility of being “invited” to work, I smiled and said I wanted to buy something to drink and I’d be right back. To my relief nobody payed much attention.
I went to the store on the corner and sat on a table, and asked for a freezing coke. An hour and half passed by and I was there, thinking everything was crazy… I was panicking again.
I stayed another hour and a half, and then I rushed home.
I slept on the afternoon, woke up at night… and I was restless… so I took half a sleeping pill of my dad’s (I had never taken these before, it seemed redundant with my hypersommnia).
I woke up today, Sunday Morning. Over 30 hours after I went to sleep. And with this my story ends.
The only comforting thought was that the people in the health facility won’t miss me, because unlike those times when I worked in the hospital, an intern is not a fundamental part of the team, they’re just there to learn and if they aren’t there, well, nothing changes.
But when will it stop? When will I be ready to come back? Obviously, the original issues have NOT been solved. Not by a long shot. I have lots to think about…
And after all that, I still have the doubt. Is one escape mechanism really better than another?
I can control not cutting… with a snap, because it hasn’t grown into a habit. But it was so satisfying and perfect to think about it… if I ever start, when will it stop? if it ever becomes a habit who will take it away?
Can a person get away from all of this? Is there anybody who actually solves what comes their way? Is there any inocuous way out?