Ideation

This morning it finally hit me. As the electric toothbrush was buzzing inside my mouth, I looked my tired face in the mirror. It wasn’t really morning. It was past noon. My debilitating anxiety and depression has confined me to years of not being able to function properly because any attempt at tying myself down to a deadline incapacitates me with severe anxiety. It could be something as inconsequential as sleeping at a certain time and waking up at a certain time, or it could be vital things like doing a 9-5 job or going to university. After causing myself more harm for years by trying fight this handicap, I finally got the hang of it some 4 years ago. I accepted that I had a handicap, albeit invisible, and that I had to find a way to manage it. Acceptance, after years of denial.

So I’ve been making small strides, over the past couple of years, that saw me getting significantly better.
Once I faced my ugly truth, my inner beauty came out; I started writing, in earnest, I became brave, bold, adventurous, and stopped at nothing in trying to make the world a bit better by tackling uncomfortable subject matters in my writing.

But even so, there was so much that I wanted to do but couldn’t. Mental illness isn’t something you can get around by good ol’ willpower and positive thinking anymore than you can get around physical illness with good ol’ dieting and exercise. Just this past month, I went to Denmark over a short  weekend and when I returned home, I paid for that by spending the next 3-4 weeks bedridden with a complete mental shutdown and anxiety so severe that it was difficult to even move my body. That’s why I had been writing so much – I had to find a way to channel my energy, or else, if left intact, it could quickly turn into suicidal urges. It’s the horrible truth that very few of us – those riddled with these illnesses – speak of because people usually add insult to an already deep wound.

I’ve been taking tiny steps in trying to explore what it is that I *can* do, whilst trying to stabilize my mood by doing more of what makes me happy in the moment – even if it’s Coke drinking and staying up all night binge-watching shows lol. And I’ve been trying to understand the mechanism of the particular fear that blocked my attempts at going out in the world and do things like study, travel (more than I have), run my own business, etc. Which leads me back to the aha-moment in front of the mirror earlier:

I wanted complete freedom. That was the gnawing feeling of frustration that I’ve been chipping away at for years. I wanted complete inner freedom to go wherever my creative energy took me. That’s all I wanted. And to do that, I had to find a way to manage the scary feelings, the ones that punished my weekend getaways with flooding my system with insane amount of fight-or-flight responses. Because that’s what I was afraid of, that was what was holding me back.

And I remembered that had achieved something similar before – my daring vulnerability. I used to be afraid of what people would say, because I needed their approval so bad. The flipside of that meant that I would avoid anything that would piss them off. Once I let go of that, I had nothing left to fear. Yes, it was still unpleasant to get backlash and disapproval, because I’m a sensitive person and I don’t like confrontations. But it didn’t deter me anymore. I was free in that regard. I had full freedom of expression.

Every action can’t be undertaken unless the associated fear is faced and accepted – subconsciously or consciously;

You can’t swim if you fear drowning
You can’t love if you fear being hurt
You can’t seek if you fear not finding
You can’t ask if you fear rejection
You can’t be yourself if you fear disapproval
You can’t be resilient if you fear failure
You can’t be creative if you fear the unknown.

I spit out into the sink, and rinsed my mouth. My head felt cleaner, my heart felt lighter at this discovery. Hope is a currency I live on, and I recycle difficulties and road blocks to make it through another day. As I rinsed my toothbrush under the running tap water, I looked back at my reflection and though I was still tired, my lips curved in a faint smile. On any other person, it’d be undetectable. But on this face, it made all the difference in the world.

Shroud me in pain

I try to be normal. I try to keep up with the marathon of life and not let down the cheering crowd. But I’m broken and I can’t heal and keep up at the same time. Something’s gotto give. I carry on stealthily through sheer grit and focus, but as soon as I relax, I’m bombarded with everything I’m suppressing. Stuff that I don’t have answers for. Stuff that I can’t talk to others about. People say that I can talk to them whenever and that they’ll be there for me, but it’s mostly vapid talk designed to make them feel better about the guilt of my pain. So it’s easier to smile and juggle half a dozen projects to give off an air of hopefulness. But I always look forward to sleep. In the cover of my blanket, I can let down my guard and for some hours I don’t have to be at war in my head. In my dreams, there’s always a happy ending. But the happy ending heralds an angst-filled beginning; a new day. A new day with more unanswered questions and even more demands for implementing answers. Every single day is exhausting. I spend every waking hour thinking, researching,reading – basically running away from my daemons that call me to just give up.
Every time I hear about someone who committed suicide, I think; when will I finally cave in? It’s a scary prospect but it’s always at the forefront. Always. Like it’s a default option. So if I don’t keep afloat with goals and projects, I fear I’ll sink like Jake Dawson in Titanic.

I’m starting to think that maybe I jumped ship too early with the recovery. I took my first major milestones and ran with them. I forgot where I had come from. I forgot that I had suffered from severe depression, C-PTSD (chronic PTSD), anxiety, agoraphobia, you name it, for over a decade. A few months in summer made me forget about all of that and I tried to catch up with everything I was ‘supposed’ to do. I tried to erase my years of suffering by filling my days with activities to show how quickly I’ve bounced back.

And now. I’ve been suicidal since late October. I spent the entire month of December in bed. And I do mean the entire month, in bed. I’d only get up in the middle of the night to get me a sandwich to have enough energy to stay alive. I’d forcefully sleep throughout the day because I didn’t want to talk to people. I didn’t have the energy to fake that everything was alright.

Recovery is a lonely process and the very mind that urges you to just give up is your only companion.  I try very very very hard to not let sadness seep in. I try very hard not to think about what I’ve gone through, and this means that I don’t get to process my pain. It lies in waiting.

“I didn’t want to wake up. I was having a much better time asleep. And that’s really sad. It was almost like a reverse nightmare, like when you wake up from a nightmare you’re so relieved. I woke up into a nightmare.”
— Ned Vizzini (It’s Kind of a Funny Story)

A Heroine’s Journey

badassery

The title is a play on Joseph Campbell’s monomyth The Hero with a Thousand Faces. It’s been brilliantly depicted through an INFJs perspective here.

It’s very painful. I don’t know how to explain what’s happening other than through an analogy; it feels like I’m giving birth whilst having my skin ripped. Everything I’ve grown attached to and used as a crutch has been dissolved and I feel like I’m falling into a dark pit where annihilation awaits me. All my abandonment issues and repressed pain come out of the woodworks now that I have nothing to suppress them with,and it’s all too painful. Physically painful. In all my years in this heroine’s journey, I have never known a greater pain. And I think it’s because the very last part of my false self is dying. Ego death they call it. I feel nauseous, and a strong wish to just die. But then I realize I don’t really want to die, and that past suicidal thoughts and attempts have been desperate attempts at abandonment. I always jump ship before anyone can abandon me. Always. I have a knack for seeing when someone’s turning on me, growing sick of me. I sneak out like a thief in the night. They’ll never know what hit them.

In a way, that’s what I used to do to myself when it got overbearing. But I’m sensing a fundamental change; a separate identity from the one in pain has emerged, so the pain is compartmentalized. I can feel that what’s dying in me isn’t me. I don’t know how to explain it.

Now I know why most will never undergo this transformation. Why unconsciousness is so alluring. Why people prefer to be comatose.

Not only is everything I’ve grown accustomed to dissolving in the light of consciousness and maturity, but my true self is emerging.

Mothers, is this how giving birth feels like? Excruciating pain and being torn apart to give way to another life. I think I’ll opt for adoption.

It’s my fault. I have this morbid curiosity. I keep prying into my unconscious, when it nudges content my way either through dreams, intuition, or crossing paths with others.

If my soul was a person, it’d be covered in tattoos, be a chainsmoker, pierced all over, but a really kind person. LOL

I just turned 26 this month. I haven’t had time to pause and reflect on all the shit that my unconscious has thrown in my path. It’s like a videogame. I choose to go to the next level, and the next, and the next. I can’t stop. Like, in the past, I’d be lying on the floor, with blood in my mouth,and pills in my system and the first thing that crosses my mind is to analyze my suicide attempt. I.keep.attracting.lessons. No wonder I couldn’t hack school; I’m enrolled in an intensive crash course in life!

Simplicity is the most difficult thing in life. It involves searching,sifting,choosing,discarding. I feel that the more pain and metamorphosis I undergo, the more child-like I become. You’d expect that with everything’s that happened that I’d become more cautious and closed-off. Nope. I laugh at the silliest things, I’m very naive in that I can’t conjure the evils of others, I give and trust unconditionally, and I believe everything’s possible. But I’m also very fearless when it comes to standing up for what I believe in, in asserting my own truths. Maybe it’s my fearlessness that allows me to be child-like? Because I don’t have to watch my back?

 

The unconscious is not a demoniacal monster, but a natural entity which, as far as moral sense, aesthetic taste, and intellectual judgement go, is completely neutral. It only becomes dangerous when our conscious attitude to it is hopelessly wrong. To the degree that we repress it, its danger increases. But the moment the patient begins to assimilate contents that were previously unconscious, its danger diminishes. The dissociation of personality, the anxious division of the day-time and the night-time sides of the psyche, cease with progressive assimilation.

— C.G. Jung (The Essential Jung: Selected Writings)

But if we understand anything of the unconscious, we know that it cannot be swallowed. We also know that it is dangerous to suppress it, because the unconscious is life and this life turns against us if suppressed, as happens in neurosis. Conscious and unconscious do not make a whole when one of them is suppressed and injured by the other. If they must contend, at least let it be a fair fight with equal rights on both sides. Both are aspects of life. Consciousness should defend its reason and protect itself, and the chaotic life of the unconscious should be given the chance of having its way too – as much of it as we can stand. This means open conflict and open collaboration at once. That, evidently, is the way human life should be. It is the old game of hammer and anvil: between them the patient iron is forged into an indestructible whole, an ‘individual.’ This, roughly, is what I mean by the individuation process.

— C.G. Jung

Moon

I’ve discovered that I can’t convince someone to not fear my darkness when they haven’t embraced theirs. I’ll retreat to my shadows. You’ll have me when you cross over.

dark cloudss

Sleep baby sleep

If I wasn’t praying for Somalia,Iraq,Syria,Burma, the Ugyurs, Muslims in Central Africa, do I have a right to object to others lamenting their allies? Isn’t that… Hasad? Envy?

If I’m angry with the oppressive powers that started this global fire, why am I denying those who were killed or maimed or lost loved ones – many of whom are Muslims – why am I denying them my empathy?

Is it because I buried my empathy when Somalia,Iraq,Syria,Burma,- were burning, and now the smoldering embers are being dug up by people showing the solidarity and empathy I should have showed, but cowered away from? The world is on fire and I want to bury it so that I can go back to sleep.

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.” 

― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Alexithymia

 

healingg

Today I realized that I’m mentally disable.

When you are worried about having to seek medical attention in the event of a physical illness because you haven’t been out in 7 months;
When you contemplate how much pain you can tolerate in said hypothetical event, because your body dysmorphia overshadows everything else, and you’d rather die than someone see you. See the despicable you.
When you think about not moving out from a toxic home because of what the process of moving out entails.
When you can’t let yourself fall in love, you can’t let another get close enough until you fix yourself.

That’s disability, but it took me ten years to realize, to accept. So it took me ten years to get better. You can’t change what you deny. For the longest time, I’d berate myself for my shortcomings and limitations. I’d hate myself for them, hate that I can’t just go anywhere I want without mentally preparing a week in advance only to break down in a panic attack the very last minute. I did not accept mental illness as an explanation, I rejected it and I thought if I’m strong enough, determined enough, resilient enough, I’ll deal with it. I’ll soldier through.

I’ll deal with the severe depression, the PTSD, the panic attacks. I’ll clean up my mental wasteland and I’ll do it all on my own.

Because I didn’t understand myself, I couldn’t explain to others why I can’t go to school today, or why I’m changing my mind about going out when we’re at the door, or why I ignore phone calls. And because people didn’t know what else to do to snap me back to reality, they’d say

Just try
You can do it. You’re smart.
What’s the problem?
This has gone on for so long. What are you waiting for? Until you die?
If you don’t start somewhere, you’ll forever procrastinate.
You can read all the books you want, but that isn’t going to change anything. You have to take the first step to go outside!
You’re young! You’re highly intelligent! Why are you wasting your life this way?
Ama talo keen noqo ama talo raac
What the heck Mulki! This is getting old real quick
Na intaad acudubilleysatid oo Ilaahay baridid, Qur’aan isku akhriyoo danahaaga ku toos.

And because I failed myself, because I denied my reality, I internalized those invalidating and patronizing prompts and it only served to break me more.

I’ve come far. Since 2008, I’ve been in auto-therapy. In these past 7 years, all I’ve been focused on is how to feel better. Granted, I did take many wrong turns and dead ends, but that’s how I learnt. I’d think about a plausible explanation to a certain mindset or hinder, I’d research and observe, and try different methods until I’d get the one solution that felt congruent to my being. And then I’d move on to the next layer of trauma and pain.

Considering the fact that I’ve had to contend with trauma that started when I was 5 and went on for another 18 years without interruption, I’ve made phenomenal strides. So I’m confident that, one day, I will become fully able to do what I’m passionate about but I can’t do that if I keep denying my pain and invalidate my limitations like some people have done. I have to stand up for myself because no one else can.

I have to make peace with myself because  I can’t heal with this civil war raging within me.

Haunt me

My heart is a time capsule
Where I stuffed away all my unwanted,painful memories in my life
In a bid to forget, to make them go away
Turns out it wasn’t a time capsule

it was a bomb

and my heart is about to burst with pain.

 

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