My post the other day inspired a lot of positive empathetic comments and texts so I figured I need to follow up, let everyone know that I am already getting better. I wouldn’t have written the post that I did if I wasn’t already on the rebound. I feel now that if people are identifying with this, and/or still concerned about me, then I should complete the process.
The morning after I didn’t kill myself I didn’t go to work. I figured I wouldn’t have gone to work if I had died so ultimately same diff. I knew I wasn’t going to work or answering calls but other than that I just stood around like a zombie watching it rain. In the days leading up to the breakdown I’d started my day by listening to two Frank Turner songs (I am disappeared & Balthazar Impresario) on repeat and crying but the day after I felt nothing. It was then I glanced over and saw my vitamins. And the thought went through my head that I should eat breakfast and take my vitamins, like normal, to get back to normal, to fix things, and then I thought… no. It isn’t going to get better, I can’t fix things, everything’s too fucked up.
And I stopped myself and said ‘this doesn’t have to fix everything, it’s just a baby step, don’t pressure yourself to fix everything or nothing.’
And so I did. I think the mental shift of not trying to fix everything was the key. I was so mentally and emotionally blank that the pressure was gone, I couldn’t think too far ahead, or worry too grandiosely. All the other people’s voices that guilt and shame were gone and I was able to treat myself gently without feeling self-pitying.
I ended up taking a really long walk and it’s when the Why I Can’t Go On essay starting to form and I knew I wanted to write in a public way about it. Everyone says ‘talk about it’ which is utter bullshit. I’ve been through the spiral enough times that if you start talking to someone before they know just how far gone you really are it’s awful. They’ll either argue with you that life isn’t the way you see it so cheer up – which makes you feel more alienated – or they’ll agree and say yeah life sucks but it is what it is so you just have to go on – which is infuriating because you’re trying to tell them that’s exactly what you can’t do.
But I do recommend writing. And not journaling because you’ll just affirm and reinforce your bleak outlook. If you’re not the type to write openly (I’m used to it because spilling my guts to strangers is what makes me a good songwriter) then I’d say send an email to someone.
After that really long walk I had a full dinner and went to bed. I slept for nearly twelve hours. During which people read the aforementioned post and I woke up to a flurry of notifications and texts. I got a lot of I Love Yous but more importantly I got a lot of empathy, people telling me they’ve been there and they liked that I was able to write it out. Which feels like what I do as a songwriter, putting my emotions out there in accessible ways so that people less able to express themselves can feel expressed. I feel good that when people can’t find the words or can’t pinpoint an emotion they can turn my writing to feel explained and understood. It’s a big part of why I’m writing this.
There was one thing I have to mention in all the responses. Someone who is also going through a bad time right and who I feel very close to said “You don’t kill yourself so I don’t kill myself” and the new gentle internal voice said “Nope. Remember not to take on other people’s problem, it’s too soon. You make your choices and she’ll make hers, you don’t control and aren’t responsible for anybody else right now while you’re recovering.”
And I think a natural instinct for those trying to help someone who’s spiraling is to tell them how important they are. That’s not always a good thing. Those of us who go through this often feel so pulled and pushed by everything else we feel a pressure to be good enough, strong enough for everybody when deep down we know we’re not.
I want to be clear that I’m not casting myself as an expert here, this is entirely subjective. What helps or hurts when dealing with just me just this time is all I can say for certain. The only advice you should take away when trying to help someone is to not assume you know what they need to hear but to really be open, listen lots, and gauge their reactions to what your saying to see if maybe you’re helping or hurting.
So I got a good night’s sleep and made sure to have breakfast and take my vitamins again. Then I spent sometime trying to force myself to write a song and it was a mistake. I jotted down a lot of lyrical ideas but once again the gentle voice told me not to force myself to understand this whole experience at once, not to condense it into a song and feel cathartic. Because I was and am still recovering. Trying to put a bow on it and call it done and say I understand it was just me pressuring myself to fix everything at once again. Baby steps. So again, I’m writing a long, disjointed essay about it because this is me still picking up the pieces.
But I set up a causal band practice. We played some songs, we even got some work done on newer stuff but I told myself, gently, not to try for a cathartic artistic expression but just to play music with my friends. No expectations, no pressure.
I went to my second, far less stressful job and let myself get lost in the work. I chatted with my co-workers more easily than before because I wasn’t gauging the drastic existential meaning of the fact that I’m thirty and I’ve only ever had dead-end jobs, I was still in that sort-of blank state and it was pleasant to have something simple to do and simple people to do it with.
Another long sleep and now I’m here. And that’s all I am. Here, no future and no past, just making sure to go through the steps of getting better.