Fifteen years of therapy, eleven hospitalizations, in and out of partial programs, so many different services and different therapies (DBT, CBT, talk, etc.) Hell, I’ve even undergone ECT, (electroconvulsive therapy), and have had MRI, CT scans, EEGs, test after test, been on medication after medication, dose after dose, and I am sitting here on my couch, full of weeping lethargy but sleeplessness; a restless, nauseated anxiety and hunger for cessation and quiet. I feel so sad and so broken. Beyond tired, beyond depressed, beyond reparation. I know myself well. Years of [self-]interrogation, years of being poked and prodded by doctors, neurologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, counselors, and my own reflection have given me near crystalline photographs of my subconscious. I am betting I know myself more than most people know themselves. I am betting I understand myself more than most people understand themselves. And I am sure as hell that at this point, if I can be saved, only I can do it; and that, that is torture.
At a certain point of emotional maturity or wellness, you start realizing the only one who can “save” you is, indeed, yourself. But oftentimes, when we are sick, we’re hoping that the doctors or our loved ones or that someone–anyone–can help us out of the trap we are in; that there is some information that has been overlooked; that there are tests that haven’t been taken; that there are medicines that haven’t been tried yet. And, I think, for most people, this might be true, or at least at a certain point.
Ok, so, yes, my damage is extensive. I was born with psychological and medical disorders from the get-go, making me hypersensitive to pain, trauma, sensory overload, and ill-equipped to handle stress, further chemical imbalances, etc. I endured sexual, physical, emotional, and psychological abuse as a child and adolescent from a variety of different sources: relatives, immediate family, friends, classmates, etc. I started medication early but didn’t start therapy until about ten years old, six+ years after the first incidents of sexual trauma began, and I had already suffered developmentally. So, yes, my damage is brutal, and my damage is extensive.
But I’ve been in therapy for a long time now. I have been hospitalized so many times. I have been in and out of services, all over the place, and I know everybody heals at their own pace, and that recovery is not really a “measurable” process. But how am I still so sick? How?
I’m on season six of Grey’s Anatomy. It’s not typically my kind of show, but Bf has gotten both my mother and I very much involved in it. Before you begin scratching your head and asking what this has anything to do with anything, let me bring up a key phrase that the creator, Shonda Rhimes, loves to bring up. It’s a phrase I find very interesting, especially as someone who has been chronically suicidal for most of their life.
So for those of you who do not know, Grey’s Anatomy is an American medical drama about a group of surgical interns working their way up the medical ladder in a top-notch hospital in Washington state. At first glance it can seem kind of maudlin, romcomy, and soap-opera-esque, which is why I never had watched it before, but it’s actually very human and beautiful.
Tl;dr, Grey’s Anatomy is about surgeons.
The phrase that Shonda Rhimes keeps coming up with is “respect for life.” This, in the context of surgeons, comes into play in situations such as organ donation and pulling-the-plug crises, murder, even suicide, and other ordeals. Each time it comes up, especially when in the context of suicide, it has made me think, “Do I have no respect for life? Is that why I want to die?”
Because, honesty hour, while I am ultra liberal on most political platforms, I support the death penalty; and, while I am also extremely antiwar, I don’t believe mass murder is the worst crime someone can commit. I am aware these are extremely controversial opinions, and I am more than willing to admit that these are probably largely shaped by the fact that I have been chronically suicidal for most of my life. Death, to me, is not the worst thing. “A fate worse than death” is a very real phrase for me, because it’s something I feel I experience every day.
So do I not have respect for life? This show has made me think about this for literally hours. I have dug through my soul for these answers. But it’s not true. I do have respect for life. Tremendous respect for life. To see people recover from suicide attempts or battles with cancer or loss of limbs or anything else is incredible. Reading stories about people in survivalist scenarios in which they escape with their lives by the skin of their teeth overwhelms me with awe. In fact, it overwhelms me so much that I cry, and I do often feel slight sadness or jealousy or longing or something, a longing I can’t quite name, to be that person. To be that person who wanted so badly to escape with their own life. To fight for their life. To live their life.
I am in a survivalist scenario, too. I am in a den of starving lions. I have lived all of my life in this den. I have fought, sometimes walked into their jaws, but have survived, all along I have survived. And I realize all my life, I have been fighting these lions because I have had someone or something to protect, too.
Just not my life.
I have done bad things in my life. I own up to those things readily. One thing I do not respect is hypocrisy. I have done bad things. I also however do think I am fiercely giving, to the point of self-sacrifice, when it comes to those I love, and I love profusely and actually quite liberally. I do not trust. But I do love. I love a lot.
If I could hate other people, I think those I have loved the most would be in danger of being resented. I stay to protect them. I stay to wipe up their tears and to hold them and to keep them safe and to motivate them and to calm them down. I fight for them. I fight the lions for them.
Let me tell you right now: It’s not enough.
I grew up picking everyone’s shattered pieces together up off the floor with my little hands and trying to glue them together with Elmer’s white glue, silently begging everyone to just please stop crying and help me up. And now I am so tired that even with controversially high doses of antidepressants, I can’t stay awake longer than seven hours a day, because I have never gotten enough rest.
I need a reason to live.
I need a reason for me to live.
I love this world. I love people. I love helping people and I love tending to people and I love healing people. I love making people feel better and guiding people and I love being a light, but my fire is going out. It’s being completely doused now, and I’m falling apart. I’m being completely dismantled. I’m no longer surviving.
I need to protect my life now.
But how do I teach myself to protect something that up until now has not seemed worth protecting?