Like most wars, it started with a girl. Sort of. It was the stressor in a thousand other different triggers that I had overlooked because my mind was too focused on positivity. That one drop that finally filled the brim.
It might seem shallow. Even I admitted that to myself when I was entrenched in another bout with my damaged psyche last night. “You’re fucking shallow” and “You’re God damned fucking shallow” become two of my spoken repeated mantras last night. But it wasn’t about a girl. Not precisely. It was about how my mind is now.
Last night’s battle, I’ve come to realize earlier when I was making sense of what happened and tending to my wounds, wasn’t one between me and the darkness. Not that time. It was a battle between the New Me versus the Old Me. The Old Me was pessimistic. Kept any chance of hope at bay. It was safer like that. The fatalist point of view was a weapon in the war. It was a strategy that I’ve mastered through years of untreated clinical depression. Three decades of strategies to combat what was inside of me – regret, disappointment, anger, love, hatred, joy, sadness – strategies I’ve perfected to a point and with one magic pill, every single strategy was deemed useless. The old strategies cannot apply with how my mind works now.
And last night’s revelation caused me to spiral down into a deepening madness that I am now frightful of.
This New Me is now hopeful. Optimistic to a fault. Last night’s stressor, as shallow as it may seem for those who don’t understand what it is to have a mental illness, was because I wrongly assumed that a girl I like shared the same feeling towards me. I was hopeful that she did. The Old Me never assumed such a thing. The Old Me always assumed that I am unlikeable. That the monster in me wasn’t worth anyone’s attention. And with three decades of that mindset, I felt safe. I was lonely, but I was safe. I was comfortable. Pessimism became my safety net.
Last night’s battle was a frightening one. I was my old self again. Laughing and crying at the same time. Crying because of the overwhelming emotions I was drowning in. Laughing because I felt so fucking pathetic. It got so bad that I was thinking of looking for my revolver that I had hid from me last year. I was imagining loading it up with one bullet, spinning the wheel, and playing Russian Roulette. And I smiled at the thought of it. I was repeatedly punching my head again. I was imagining all the ways I can exit this life. Carbon monoxide poisoning. Hanging myself. Slitting my throat. I smiled at each and every thought. For those split seconds of imaginations, I felt happiness.
And then I felt fear. I felt fear of actually going through with it. Fear of exiting this life, of thinking of all these things that I’ve fought against in the past few months since I started treatment. I was already on one Xanax at the time but it wasn’t helping. The battle was too intense and its effect was barely felt.
I left the Facebook support group I’m a part of. I appointed Admins on the Music Photographers Philippines Facebook group I created and left that group. I deactivated my Facebook and Twitter accounts. I don’t know why, but it made sense at the time. I messaged two of my closest friends for help. I was desperate. I was afraid of what I was going to do to myself. I needed someone there with me. Not for me, with me. I needed help in the battle between the voices in my head. One friend was about to hit the sack so he couldn’t go anymore. One said it was late already and he couldn’t go out anymore. Understandable, I suppose. They don’t know what it’s like to lose control of your mind, to lose your mind, so they thought it wasn’t of urgency.
That, I admit, is something that I have yet to fully accept. That in my intense battles with my demons, I can’t expect anyone to be there for me. I can’t assume, like I did last night, that my SOS messages would send them driving to help me out. Even with the SOS messages I sent, one of my repeated mantras last night was “no one’s coming for me. There’s no one coming for me.” But the New Me that was waging war with the Old Me was hopeful. I kept looking at the window hoping that they’d come.
I messaged another friend – one who’s been where I am – for help. I asked her to come over. She was going to, but she took a nap first because she was dead tired. She forgot to alarm her clock and never came. Completely understandable. She made an effort and that means the world to people like me. The second Xanax I took was already doing its magic so I was a bit calm already. My head was clearing up. The noise was silencing.
I’m not saying that the two others are bad people, or that they didn’t make an effort. I’m sure they’d have gone if they could. And I was aware that what I was asking from them was too much, and that I was a major inconvenience to them at the late a time. Understandable. As I said, they don’t know what it’s like to lose your mind. But I’ll be frank, it did hurt a bit. Maybe I did expect too much from them. Maybe I was being needy. It was late in the night, I’ll give them that, but unfortunately, my depression is 24/7. There is no fixed schedule for the war that rages on in my head. The intense battles follows no schedule.
They love me and care for me. I don’t doubt that. I’ll never doubt that. I just have to learn to accept that they can’t be there for me every single time the battles get too intense. I only fear that one of these days, the battles get too fucking intense that I’d finally lose. I also have to learn to face the demons alone. At this early in my recovery, however, that’s extremely difficult. I may be better than who I was, but my psyche is still too fragile. I’m still on the fine line between sanity and literal insanity. Everything’s brand new. I’m still figuring everything out.
In the aftermath of the battle, I came into several realizations. Lessons that would greatly assist me in the neverending war.
- Xanax is your friend – People won’t always be there for you, but my meds will. I’ve been too cautious on using Xanax in the war. I was afraid that I’d abuse it. Not that I have addictive tendencies, mind you. I’ve had experiences with illegal drugs and I was never addicted. My immediate concern was that I’d rely on it too much. I wanted to test myself, to see if I can fight even the minor battles without it. I wanted to learn how to deal with the minor episodes on my own. I only pulled it out of my arsenal on major episodes. But I’ve come to realize that it all starts with a minor episode. It’s a late realization, I’ll admit, seeing as for a depressive such as I, the minor episodes have a tendency to become an avalanche of anxiety and intense emotional distraught. One that would further lead to me to madness.
So it’s not about relying on it to combat the depression. It’s about using it as a weapon for the war. It’s a weapon that would clear my head so I can think much clearly and I can figure out how to claw myself out of the abyss.
- Complete madness is a better option than death – this might sound grim and all, but last night, I realized that death isn’t an option for me anymore. Suicide isn’t an option in my new life and in how my mind sees and feels things. Taking my own life has been replaced with that thin line between sanity and literal insanity finally breaking. That is precisely how I felt last night. That my mind was leading towards a complete decimation from the shitstorm. I felt like I was losing my mind. Or that I have lost it and I wouldn’t be able to pull myself back. I don’t want to die. I never did. Life gets too unbearable sometimes and not being here seemed like the better course of action.
Now there’s another one. Clinical insanity. That my psyche would finally be broken beyond repair. That my mind would be completely detached from life and I’d be, well, free. My body won’t be mine anymore. The pain wouldn’t be mine anymore. The universe will take back what it gave me.
Grim, I know, but eh. It’s better than death.
- My friends who don’t suffer from mental illnesses, even my closest friends, can only do so much – I can’t expect them to be there when in the dead of night when I’m in an intense battle. I can’t expect them to be there when I’ve got a barrel of a gun pointed to my head. The intense aspects of my darkness, of my depression, is mine to fight. My darkness isn’t theirs. To include them in my meltdowns would be unfair to them. To show them the deepest depths of my darkness would be tantamount to torturing them. They’d be emotionally and mentally scarred. I don’t want that for them.
They have their roles. They’re there to balance my sanity. They are there as the light in my darkness. They are there as inspirations, as people with properly functioning brains to aspire to become. That I could be one of them someday. Normal.
- I have changed, but the world hasn’t – I have changed. How I see the world has changed. But the world remains the same. The same disappointments will happen. The same events that caused me to be upset before will still happen. The same heartbreaks will happen.
I have to work on setting my expectations low. I have to stop assuming that the universe will keep sending me all these great things that it’s been sending my way. The universe isn’t that generous. I have to learn not to be too hopeful. This might sound counter-productive, but I have to learn how to balance my current optimism and my then pessimism. I have to learn how to merge my positivity and my three decade long negativity.
- With your intense battles, never ever be ashamed to share it with your support group – I’ve build a sort of network of fellow sufferers of mental health issues. Friendships that I’ve come to treasure as “we’re all we have in the dark.” I have no reason to be ashamed of slipping back into the abyss. These are people that would completely understand what I’m going through because they have been there. They are going through it. They’re waging their own wars so they know how to help you.
I have a couple that I can call when I need physical backup. Remember that, Self.
“With every battle scar comes a lesson,” as they say. Battle scars toughen you up. I may have won last night’s war, but I can’t be complacent. It will happen again. The depression is an inescapable part of me. It’s in my genes, so to speak. I have to strategize. And with everything that I painfully learned from last night, the strategies for surviving the assaults are starting to materialize.