Melt down

24 Oct

Edvard Munch’s The Scream

I think I knew it was going to happen when I wrote my last post. I could feel the build up reaching the overflow point. I’d been unable to have the conversation I need to have to help me process my state of mind. It was only a matter of time.
Yesterday I sat on the floor of my bathroom in tears, unable to face the world outside in spite of commitments. Ashamed, embarrassed and full of self-loathing.

The night before had begun on uncertainty. Joining work colleagues for a social evening but filled with anxiety about bridging the gap. Normally I try and keep my personal and professional lives separate. Feedback from a previous gig suggested this made me come across like I wasn’t a team player, words that have stuck and forced me out of my comfort zone. Even before I arrived I had been wandering the streets of Belfast aimless and trying to clear my head of the building stress. Walking I finally zoned out.

But being social when my depression is building into an episode is always risky. Especially when they don’t know your back story. Heck, I know I bored one of them silly running through some of the shit that’s been troubling me while we were standing in a club. Sorry.

Come 3am and I’m standing near the river Lagan. I’ve lost all sense of control and am posting histrionic messages on social media. “Nobody cares. I may as well not exist” and other lines of that ilk. I’m seriously considering self-harming to give some focus to the pain and frustration. Punishing myself for my own stupidity. I’m feeling so overwhelmingly low and lonely (in spite of two nights with friends) that this is all that makes sense.

It’s not unlike poor Sinéad O’Connor’s public outbursts. I look at those and think she needs help, she wants help. I look at mine and I see the same problem.

Worst of all I message people and pour out thoughts and feelings they don’t need to know, don’t want to know. I’m that creepy guy who can’t get the fucking message. And I know better. I didn’t even realise I’d done it until I was weeping on the bathroom floor.

I’ve always thought I was difficult to live with. I’m hard to love. This is why. It’s not just that I have mental health problems, it’s that I’m open about it. Why pretend otherwise? 

The malaise can strike, last for weeks or months. I’m up and down, kept functioning by manic activity. My ego is fragile and even the slightest knock back can send me spiraling. It pretty much takes someone with similar issues to understand it, but if you’ve got similar states of mind it can be incredibly testing. I’m good at trying to mask my depression. Until I crack. It’s little wonder I chose celibacy for three years. Only I get hurt that way. But being alone for ever isn’t going to be the solution either.

Today I wander around like a husk without drive or purpose. I’m calmer than yesterday but I’m definitely somewhere on the downward arc still. I’ve had time to think. I can see the signs, the triggers that have brought this on. It’s never just any one thing, but a cumulative effect. 

I realise that I’m scarred by various traumas over the years. They’ve left me vulnerable. I ignore them most of the time but when a trigger touches them the wounds remanifest themselves like ghosts. I live the experience again in echo. My brain makes connections between now and then and it’s hard to shake myself into the present.

The last few months I’ve spotted some of those triggers and thought I was ok because I talked about them, but the accumulation meant they weren’t clearing.

I was brought back into the terror of being abused, re-opening my therapy sessions as a result. I found myself in a relationship situation relearning how to function, relearning trust, affection and more. I’ve been challenging myself too though – my sense of self and identity, my limits, questioning my sexual self, my future. Questions have been asked which are leaving a mark and have me in a state of confusion.

Then there were other incidents. Things that happened that I can’t and won’t share. Things I said were OK, that I dealt with, but which I haven’t. History has repeated and I need to talk about it with the one person I can’t talk to just now. That’s been tough, switching from pouring out all your thoughts to suddenly not.

I’ve been eating to excess, drinking more than I’m comfortable with. I’m taken back to a dark place that needs to remain in my past. 

Even a visit to the cinema prompted memories. Reviewing The Girl on the Train for tv I felt the compulsion to point it out as a trigger film. And it was for me, sparking memories of the worst months of my life, the icing on the cake of this personal hell.

My therapist is away just at the moment I needed that outlet most. Sometimes fate conspires to exacerbate things.

Each moment triggered a memory. A pain. A wound. And I struggled to cope. Until I could no longer. 

Elvis once remarked how he often felt lonely in the middle of a crowd. An insight I identify with. I busy myself with creative projects, I try to fit in, but inside I’m screaming. Chronic isolation, a sense of not fitting in. A social anxiety I’ve never really admitted to. Being in the crowd this weekend kept me from my thoughts for a while, until it didn’t and I turned away into the night and my own despair and self-loathing. 

With any luck now I’ve hit this low I can rebuild. Within time I’ll be riding an upward curve. I have to. 

There are those that think I shouldn’t talk about these issues online, who say I am jeopardising professional work. But I function normally nearly all the time I’m working. It’s my private life that bears the brunt. So many people go through these issues and are shamed into silence, making the impact even worse. I want ownership of them. I shan’t be bullied into silence by my own being. 

I was wrong. I do have merit. I have friends that care for me. A life of value and worth living. And I will continue to do so.

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