Seeing my scars

*TW*

This post is me trying to make some sort of sense out of the sudden self-destruct mode that both my mind and body are bombarded with on occasion.

So it’s coming to the end of my family holiday, and although the weather has been pretty questionable for the south of France, considering we drove 8,000+ miles to get here…I have still developed quite a tan. My body is terrible in the heat, and although my skin isn’t particularly pale, I do burn incredibly easily, and thus even with factor 50 applied generously multiple times a day, I am still about ten shades darker than I was a fortnight ago.

ANYWAY. The point was: darker skin blah blah etc etc… Unfortunately, for some scientific reason, this means the sun was not only burning my face off, giving me heat exhaustion and generally getting in the way of life – it was also reminding me quite blatantly of the moments over the past year where I have been in a very bad and frightening place.

My scars from the past year are becoming increasingly visible. The ones on my arms are faint and easy to conceal but the matter of wearing a bikini means that those areas I never usually expose are on full display. I’d forgotten how many times I had inflicted pain on myself during 2015. Before this past year, I had only had one small incident many years ago, and I’d never thought much of it. This year, it’s been a lot more than that. The emotions have certainly cut a lot deeper.

Trying to keep this side of me hidden from my parents is quite a feat when to me the marks are so glaringly obvious. (Yes, you may recall as I mentioned in a previous post that I told my mother about my depression, but of course that does not mean we are actually discussing it or communicating properly – that’s going to take a lot longer – and she doesn’t know I inflict pain on myself, and I don’t think she’d accept that very easily either.) You wouldn’t notice the marks if you weren’t looking for them, I don’t think, but, as my usual paranoid self, I worry that someone will question me about them, and if they did I would go into shut-down mode not knowing how to respond – I get like that with talking sometimes, I just completely shut off, do not know how to formulate any words and force them out of my mouth into distinguishable sounds.

Seeing these scars has brought back a whole load of unwanted memories, reminding me of the constant ups and downs I’ve been feeling, fighting and fearing during 2015. It is not the marks themselves that I am bothered by – it’s just pain, that was there and now has passed. The issue is this: that what the marks represent – the pain that I could never express and I feel will never truly disappear – is translated into the physical world merely by a few lines on my body. What are a few scars in the big scheme of things? Nothing to take much notice of. It barely touches the surface of the intense dark periods, doesn’t show the panics and the frustration, the hurt and the anger, and all of that within myself, my mind circling round and round and never being able to escape that.

The vicious circle that is apparently ‘my mind’ (yay, lucky me…) is: the voice that fuelled my bulimia; the voice that fuels excessive drinking from time to time; the voice that tells me I deserve pain and punishment for existing and not appreciating it; the voice that causes my trichotillomania (I wrote a blog post a long time ago about this but it was lost and I couldn’t bring myself to begin to describe my strange affixation on my eyebrows down into coherent and logical words a second time); and the voice that will go to any measure to physically inflict this pain on me. Sometimes it’s that I feel so numb, sometimes it’s that I can’t decipher what is going on in my own brain, sometimes it’s that I want to create something, just DO anything: put my fingers in candle flames; bash my head on doors, walls, bash my hand on my head; strike myself with the end of a pen repeatedly in the same spot because I can’t do something; pick up whatever is conveniently lying around and use it for pain…the hair straighteners I didn’t realise had left scars – the marks faded at the time, but turns out it’s still there beneath the surface. It’s like my own body is an embodied metaphor physicalising the emotional version of myself.

 

So I’ve been on holiday, and there’s been some sun, and while I might be getting a pretty nice golden tan, it’s also the case that my scars from the past year are becoming increasingly visible. Yet the emotional scarring is the hardest to heal – if you can never see how it’s doing, check in on it, how are you supposed to know whether it’s gradually fading away, whether it’s just as obvious as before, or whether it’s just becoming more so?

Some days I feel like the turbulence of  my depression will never end. Most days in fact. Some days I get so sad at the fact I can have these brief fleeting happy moments and then my brain goes and ruins them by reminding me that I cannot cope with life, that I will never be good enough, that there is no point, and that the world would be a better place if I were not here. At least for now the thoughts are only harmful, and not suicidal. I’m hoping my medication will fend that off so the next few weeks aren’t too terrible.

Yet, every time I think things are improving, they take a turn for the worse. My boyfriend is convinced that I’m getting better, and I thought I was too, but it seems that was a short lived opinion of mine. Perhaps it is fair to say that I may have come out of the constant depressed state and instead entered into a continuously fluctuating one, but the feelings of self-loathing and the urge to self-destruct are just as strong as before, it not stronger. And the intensity at which I feel those is just too much to bear. The way those bursts of overwhelming sadness just hit me out of nowhere, full on. The way the urge to take my anger and frustration out is thrown at me, forcing me to get completely caught up in a destructive mentality. One that I can’t see for what it is when I am in those moments, one that I can only see subjectively as the only possible option at the time.

I’m pretty tired and it’s pretty late and I’m not sure if I’ve made any sense here. I’ll be back writing more soon I hope. But for now, that’s me done. I can’t really put down in words all of the things I’m feeling at the moment. I wouldn’t know where to start. But that’s just one thing that’s been on my mind recently.

E

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‘Holiday’

It’s not that I can and I don’t want to, it’s that I want to, and I can’t that is the most frustrating thing. Not a reference to anything specific, but rather the simple pleasures in life. I’m on holiday with my family in France, in a lovely house, in hot weather, with a pool – I can read (which I am grateful for), swim, play games, whatever I want. I have the deferred exam to take obviously, so there’s a little revision thrown in, but not too much since there’s only the one exam. Most days have been fine. That is until last night, when I experienced a major panic and rather a lot of distress. Nothing too concerning though.

Today was a lot worse. Everything had been going fine: I had swum; and read – I finished another book – I seem to get through an awful lot on holiday; felt relaxed, thrown a ball playing catch with my siblings; been splashing and messing around by the pool. I came in to do some work late in the day, got a whole topic done, had a short break, got the next one out. I just crashed. It wasn’t the work. It would certainly have been manageable had my head not decided to implode at that particular moment. In relation to the can and the want thing – I couldn’t concentrate, but I definitely wanted to. I knew I could go outside, but I felt no enjoyment at the prospect. I cried, shook, tried to calm down, got very angry with myself. Because there was no reason for me to feel like that. I am on track with my work. I am on holiday from ordinary life – a much needed break.

Yet, what most see as a ‘holiday’, I anticipate with dread, the suggestion of going away filling me with anxiety, travelling 850 miles in the car with four other family members all age 16+ is not exactly a relaxing experience. We got here ok, and it wasn’t too dreadful. The journey not being fun is fairly obvious and expected. The house is incredible, the best I’ve ever stayed in, with the best pool too. I do appreciate it, it’s just that when I get into those darkest moment, full fathom five into the deep seas of my brain, I lose all sense of the material, the present – and yet, simultaneously, I am existing entirely within the present. I can’t focus, I can’t breathe, I feel an immense sadness and I don’t understand why.

I may physically be on holiday, but what those around me sometimes don’t seem to realise is that I can never truly be having a break from every day life, because I take my head with me, and my head takes up a lot of intangible space in my life as it is. I cannot control not being able to relax. I am trying my absolute best. Which is why it is so frustrating when an intense episode hits when it has been going averagely recently – and by ‘averagely’, that means pretty good for me, considering the last seven years or so.

E