Trigger warning: I mention some horrible mistakes I have made that you might have too, I mention guilt, I mention suicidal thoughts in a blunt manner and I also tell you that suicide is not the answer, which may be the last thing you want to hear right now if you are in a particularly bad way (I still suggest in this case that you force yourself to read this).
This is quite taboo. Though, I think the fact that I am writing about this should be more comforting than alarming. If I am in the position to be able to put this into words and I have a platform on which to do so, then I am in a better position than I could be, sitting alone, allowing unexamined and petrifying thoughts to stagnate in my mind.
I have suffered from suicidal thoughts and, more generally, intrusive thoughts. A bad thing will happen to me and the only way I can describe its effect is like opening a pen full of crazed chickens: a whole pack of horrible and unpleasant thoughts and assumptions start flapping around in my mind, knocking things over, spraying feathers everywhere and shitting on everything. I feel a tidal wave of anger and sadness rise in me, probably one of the most unpleasant emotion combinations. The best kind of anger is rooted in indignation and injustice, the worst kind of anger is rooted in sadness and loss.
I tend to look on the unpleasant side of life more than I do the pleasant side. It may seem externally as if this really isn’t the case, but anyone who has known me well will know that I am very easily convinced that things are just not worth putting effort into. I am easily jaded by life. I have made a habit of suspecting people (and being rather spiteful to them) over the littlest things and becoming demotivated after the littlest of setbacks. I love a good conspiracy theory: ‘This person doesn’t actually love me, they’re actually trying to ruin my life, so I am going to manipulate everything that they do henceforth in order to support this theory, which will then serve to convince me that it is objectively true because I have ‘concrete’ evidence, and I will successfully chase this person out of my life’. This has interfered in my close relationships quite a lot and, understandably, brought a lot of aggravation to those who primarily want to love and look after me.
I say this with an element of shame, as I am ashamed and disheartened by my tendency towards this behaviour. I do not like the limitations it has posed and continues to pose on my life. I don’t want to be, nor ever, ever imagined myself being, a bitter and lonely person. I always looked at myself as being vibrant, funny and compassionate. I feel betrayed and disgusted when I notice the incongruence between who I want to be and who I actually have been over the past couple of years.
This is where I am going to begin to be compassionate with myself. I am going to do the most compassionate thing a person can do, which is to try to understand something which is difficult to understand in another person. After all, if you do not understand something, you cannot forgive it.
If you believe you are not worthy of something, then you will always fulfil this prophecy. I have enacted this many times and in many ways, so I think I am qualified enough to say that there is some truth in it. My thoughts were gearing me towards failure and abandonment before my actions could even catch up. I underestimated the power of my thoughts, criminally. I was beating myself up in every single way I could in my mind, and then expecting myself to be able to go forth and love people. How was I supposed to resist the most pervasive and insidious form of bullying there is, the bullying we do of ourselves? This was an impossible demand. I could not make a positive difference in the way I treated others without making a positive difference in the way I treated myself. The way I treated both continued to be very lacking.
That being said, there was an element of choice in all of this, on my behalf. I was selfish. I had sold an image of myself that I desperately wanted to be true, that I was deeply intelligent, brooding, somewhat traumatised but ultimately strong, triumphant and hilarious. I wanted to be adored for all of these qualities I admired but did not actually notice in myself. I knew that this was not me. Not at all. This is not to say that I was worse or even better than this description (it is all subjective anyways). I just know that this was not me. I was lying, which I do have an unfortunate penchant for doing when it suits my agenda.
In the end, I had managed to get the person that I wanted in my life, into my life and loving me. Scrap what I just said then, the plan was a SUCCESS!!
Absolutely not. I began to resent them (and several other people who came into my life, too, in fact), because they loved someone else. I felt betrayed by them, that they were sharing such a key part in my life and my experiences and demanded so much of my trust, only because someone else had pulled them in. I was angry! But out of sadness, so it was the most destructive form of anger. It reinforced my earlier thought patterns (see, it’s all cyclical) that I was not good enough, that I was useless, that no one could ever love me for me and that everyone in my life was just as fake as I was. What I did fail to realise was that I was inflating my own ego, massively. I couldn’t keep up a convincing act for that long and for every moment. Not even the best actor could. The people in my life may have been ensnared by an image (as people often are at first), but they proceeded to gain admiration and fondness for who I genuinely was. They were actually being extremely kind for sticking around to see the figure underneath all the cloaks and learning to love this new, authentic creature. I didn’t need to be so angry and upset with them. I needed to be thankful for their time and effort.
I must mention suicidality and guilt now. It is all good and well me realising all this, and telling you about it, but it all seems too late. Maybe not for you, but for me. Maybe it feels too late for you, too. I have all sympathy with the hollow, aching feeling you might get as you notice the behaviours I have mentioned above in yourself, and kick yourself for not realising at the time how much havoc it was wreaking on your life. You may be in a terrible place right now, full of anger and hatred towards yourself. It is horrible when it feels there is no one else to blame apart from yourself. Let me assure you, I have chased lots of people away, probably for good, been an absolute asshole, publicly and privately, and continue to fall into the same old traps, despite me seeing the devastation they can cause, for momentary gratification and selfishness. It is a deeply entrenched defence mechanism that I can’t seem to shake, nor do I really want to: I am attached to the emotionally unstable, brooding, romantic figure I have concocted, despite the fact that she has never brought anything secure into my life.
All this considered, I have come to the conclusion that it would be too difficult and humbling for me to try and work through all this, and to accept that I may not actually be deserving of some people or, in fact, right for them. I have decided on several occasions it would be better if I kill myself. I have weighed up (in an extremely myopic way) the pros and cons of doing such a thing and often found that I am sympathetic with the side of exterminating myself.
This may seem so stupid and unnecessary to some. I am 18 years old, I have the world at my feet, I have people to fall in love with in the future, I have real-life devastation to weather, I am naive and inexperienced, I am hormonal, I have, I have, I am, I am.
There was a reason why I included ‘Dealing with your guilt’ in the title, above anything else I talk about. I cannot give you a generalised reason for why people do not cope, even when ostensibly it seems as if they have lots and lots going for them, but I can give you mine. This will not be the case for everyone, but it certainly is for me:
I have always, always, struggled with guilt as an emotion. I had a vile temper as a child and I would get into ruts of anger that were full of expanding blood vessels, hoarse shouting, choking tears and pushing my brother into various objects (sorry Bill). I could deal with all this. I had moments of immense sadness, too. I would mope about the house, about 8 years old (children really do suffer from bad mental health too, don’t be fooled), telling my mum that I ‘didn’t want to be here anymore’ and that I was going to find a way to climb onto the roof and throw myself off it. Genuinely a true story.
It is not always this dramatic or romantic. Sometimes suicidal thoughts come as you are sat on the toilet, hunched over, crust around your eyes and your hair tangled, feeling ultimately useless. You can’t even get up off the toilet you feel so useless, you would rather it sucked you in through its system of pipes and spat you out into some body of refuse somewhere.
I could deal with a lot of emotions as a child and even now, but guilt is always the one that catches me out. And guilt is what I feel a lot these days. It comes and goes in intensity but it is always there, a sponge in my stomach waiting to absorb and fill up and bloat me out until I am one big, sad, sopping ball of guilt. Guilt is the perfect emotion to trigger suicidal thoughts. Guilt means you did something wrong. Guilt means you need to avenge this wrong. Guilt means you need to be punished, that you need to suffer. Guilt in the right intensity can make you feel extremely violent towards yourself, in a way that deep blue sadness and bright red anger cannot do. It can be added on top of any emotion, too, you can even feel guilty ABOUT your emotions. Guilt intensifies everything. Guilt is blooming purple and it wants to bruise every untouched part of you it can.
But it doesn’t have to. Guilt is vile and evil in so many ways, by far the most horrible emotion. However, it is the simplest to combat. You begin to diminish it once you realise this:
We are humans, not machines. Our judgement is rarely ever objective and we often act according to deep desires and fears that are too painful and evasive to consciously confront. We developed our coping mechanisms at a much simpler time: childhood. Our fears and upsets would have been kept at bay by these mechanisms and they provided a real and necessary purpose at one time, even if they seem grotesque and horribly unfair now. You are not depraved, you are human! You are not vile, you are human! You are not ‘messed up’, you are human! If we had the ‘right’ option and the ‘wrong’ option in front of us at any given time, it is likely that we would choose the right path. It is not that simple.
It will never be that simple. Don’t reduce the complexity of your mind and everyone else’s mind down to wrong and right because you never will garner a realistic depiction of how things occurred. You react to your circumstances in the best way you were able to at the time. Right now, you have manifold tools and perspectives that you simply could not have had and did not have at the time. Hindsight is a wonderful thing because it is allowed by the mistake you made. If you didn’t make the mistake, you wouldn’t have the hindsight. Doing bad things does not make you a bad person, it means you did not have the tools to react well to a situation at the time. Doing good things meant something was within your capacity to deal with healthily and sensibly. BUT DO YOU KNOW WHAT?!?! I WILL EMBOLDEN THIS PART BECAUSE IT IS SO IMPORTANT: BECAUSE OF THE MESS YOU HAVE MADE AND THE SUFFERING THAT HAS RESULTED, YOU NOW HAVE THE TOOLS.
You are a better person simply because you have gone through this pain. You are a more sensitive person because you have gone through this pain. You cannot see it but there will be a point when you can and you will be so grateful your heart got broken because now you have so many more tools in your arsenal and so many more options you can take when that difficult situation arises again. It is not your fault that you developed the way you did, but now you have recognised your mistakes, you have the chance to affect your development from this point onwards. That is the beauty of growing up.
I love you.
Don’t die. Guilt is a circus mirror, it is deceptive and ridiculous.
Email me if you want, I’m always here !!!