Still Alive

I have been having a particularly horrible week. So much has gone wrong in the last seven days that I am tempted to just call this the worst week I’ve had, in memory. Family members are ill, I’ve got no money, and a friend who I thought would always have my back were actually just waiting for the right opportunity for the knife.

As someone with quite severe depression, this has all led to me having some pretty horrible thoughts about self harm and suicide. As you can probably guess, I haven’t killed myself and I think the largest factors towards my not having committed or attempted suicide boil down to a couple of things.

First and foremost, Chris. Even with my incredibly low self-esteem, I know beyond any doubt that if I killed myself, Chris would be devastated. He loves me and cares for me more than I ever thought anyone would. I stop and think about it sometimes and I’m blown away. I really can’t understand it but Chris is not the kind of guy who would ever or could ever fake these kinds of emotions. He’s not particularly open, emotionally, and I think that his love for me is the only extreme or intense emotion I’ve ever seen him display. How could I inflict something like me committing suicide on him? A fine way to repay all of his kindness and generosity.

How To Save A Life – The Frey – this video can speak to anyone who has lost someone and subsequently wished they could have done something to prevent it.

Leading neatly on from that is the fact that I could never do it to any of my friends or family, either. No parent should have to outlive their child, and no friend should ever be made to feel that they couldn’t intervene, that their friendship wasn’t enough to help convince a person to stay alive. It would be left to someone I love and care about to clear out my bedroom, too, and I can’t think of anything worse for someone who is grieving to have to do, especially with a bedroom as personal as mine. Every thing on every shelf is some outward display of a memory or an emotion or an aspect of my personality. I attach huge amounts of sentimentality to objects that have no real worth, and there will be someone out there who will understand something about each item. I still have a small heart made of tinfoil that Karl made me in the lower sixth. No worth to anyone but him and me, and while it might seem easy for someone to throw it away, what if you knew that it held some kind of memory, some little part of the person who used to own it, even if you don’t know what the memory is? I wouldn’t find it easy.

Thirdly, as much as there are things I hate about myself and my life, there are so many things that aren’t shit. I love music. I love reading. I love video games. I love spending whole evenings with people who I love, watching TV shows and talking. I love my friends, my family and my boyfriend more than anything. I love my cats and my dog. I love nature and all the amazing, breathtaking things she is capable of. I love ingenuity and capabilities of mankind (even if I don’t always approve of the uses they’re put to). I love the way it feels when Chris looks me in the eyes and tells me that he loves me, and the way his hands feel when he holds me.

What I think the most important factor is more of the how than the why. I’ve already expressed concern for whoever gets stuck with the horrible job of emptying my bedroom, but what about the person who would find the body? I can’t imagine much that would be more awful than finding someone like that. If I were to do it in my house, the most likely candidate for finding the body would be someone I care about whichever of my housemates was to find it. Worst case scenario would involve Chris finding me – he’s had to deal with that once in his life already, and if there is anyone who doesn’t deserve something horrible to happen to them, it’s Chris. He is kind, generous, shy, polite and would never do anyone any harm without severe provocation.

I could never do it in a way that impacts another person, either. I just think it so selfish, the people who commit suicide by throwing themselves under trains. I wonder if they’ve ever given a thought to just how really, seriously traumatic that would be for the train driver? I used to fantasize about jumping off the train bridge in Lancaster as a non-stop train sped through, but I just can’t bring myself to subject anyone to that, let alone a random stranger just trying to do their job. On top of that, imagine the chaos – it takes so little to disrupt train service, there would be many people inconvenienced just because of me.

Lastly, no matter how bad it feels when I am usurped by the oppressive certainty that everything is shit, I’m not worth anything to anyone, and nothing will ever be ok again, when I am lucid and rational and only mildly convinced of the world’s hostility to me, I hope.

I hope that one day I will be healthy and whole and happy again, that one day Chris and I will have a place of our own that I can fill with clutter and colourful rugs with blankets and throws over all the chairs and a welcoming front door. I can hope that in the future I’ll start each day with a smile and be the person I’ve promised myself I can be.

I hope that Sam will realise that in the classic “reason/season/lifetime” paradigm, he is supposed to be a lifetime friend. WE are supposed to be lifetime friends. I hope he’ll realise just how horrible this whole situation is, just how much we both lose from this. I hope he’ll realise that no-one will ever care about him like I do. Without him I have almost no doubt I wouldn’t have managed to make it through the last two years in Lancaster. I hope he’ll realise that the trust and loyalty he can get from a best friend is greater than that which he can expect from a girl to whom he is the other guy, the guy she’s cheating on her boyfriend with, the guy she kissed out of mild curiosity and swore blind she didn’t have any interest other than friendship.

I hope that someday I will actually be able to do what I want. I want people to like me. I want to do things that make their lives better and happier and richer, somehow. I want to be the woman who Chris deserves. I want to be the friend that my friends deserve.

I hope that one day, I can be my own person with no shadowy black dog lurking around every corner in my mind. I hope I’ll be free.


Dinner time

If you’ve read anything I’ve written (almost anything, anyway) then you’ll know I suffer from major clinical depression and anxiety disorder. I was first diagnosed a little while after I broke up with the man I thought was ‘the one’, but it’s something that’s been with me for years. I used to self harm when I was young but I wasn’t sure why, back then. I would pull my fingers back, or close them in doors or stamp on them until the pain was beyond tears. I thought I just wanted the attention, the reason to stay home from school for a day or two – but I didn’t think it was important to work out why. I’ve done a lot of thinking about it since.

Depression and anxiety both come with a troupe of physical symptoms for me. It’s not true for everyone, but I find them almost as debilitating as the mental aspects. I go through phases when it comes to sleep. I will go for months with barely managing four or five hours a night, shambling through the intervening days like a zombie. I try to do things as best as I can but it’s hard to read or play a game or go anywhere or even have a conversation when your eyelids are drooping, your neck can’t hold the weight of your head, and it takes ten seconds to make sense of every sentence, but no matter how sleepy you are, as soon as you lay down and close your eyes, the thoughts start picking at you, making actual restful sleep impossible. Then there are periods of time where I sleep for eight, nine, even ten hours every night, and nap during the day, and lay in bed for hours in a state of semi-conscious tiredness. This happens more often if I’m left to my own devices – people can wake you up and force you out of bed much more easily than they can make you sleep.

Alongside that, I get appetite problems, going days with barely eating anything then having days where I want to constantly eat. It brings a lot of weird thoughts up for me, does eating. Again, people can force me to eat quite easily, but forcing someone to stop eating is harder.

There are other things too. Headaches are pretty much a 50:50 chance from day-to-day, severe ones or migraines less than that but still more often than is fair. There’s also, for lack of a better word, dizziness. Imagine your mind exists on a radio frequency, or several frequencies. Then the dizziness comes and it’s like your head has been put between stations, your mind is filled with white noise, up and down are indistinguishable from one another, the ground is coming up to meet you even as you’re floating away from it.

Then my body stops doing crazy stuff for just a minute and I get a chance to see what’s going on inside my head. And I miss the sleep deprivation and the dizzy spells.

Once again it’s cyclic. Sometimes I will have phases of such intense emotion (usually sadness but sometimes guilt, fear, worthlessness, impending doom, or even anger) that it is all-consuming. There is no space left inside me to give proper thought to anything else, even the most mundane of decisions. I can do things, but no matter what I’m doing, I’m on the verge of breaking down and letting it all out. The strain of being so controlled sometimes swells up over the barriers, and I will cry, or hide, or sometimes I will cut myself, because it feels like maybe there aren’t enough other ways for all this stuff inside my head to get out, and it needs to be bled out.

There is the flip-side to that intensity, a complete opposite – which is what I live with most days.  A feeling of numbness and apathy. Almost laziness, but the feeling is coming from somewhere deeper and more vast than just the desire not to do anything. I want to do things, but my brain is caught up in loops and patterns of predefined thoughts and I just can’t break free of the circuits long enough to grab hold of something else. I want to cook for myself and my boyfriend, and wash up, and tidy the house and clean things, but it is as if some invisible, intangible force has me rooted to the spot, brimming over with so much passiveness and lethargy that I feel like a drone. I cannot make any decisions  in this state, because I simply care so little about all the outcomes that it becomes a vicious game of working out what others want me to decide.  (This applies even to decisions that only effect me, like what to do for an hour to beat the boredom that hounds me). In this state self harm becomes more of a test to see if I’ve lost all physical capacity as well as the mental ones.

There are a host of other, more minor things, like how irritable I am these days, or the nine days out of ten that having sex just seems like too much effort (no matter how good it feels, physically and emotionally, when we do it), the feeling that life is passing me by, that I am a disappointment to my boyfriend and my friends and family, the worry that I will dissolve into a heap of jelly if left alone for too long, or forced into too large a group for too long, and other things too.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that no, I don’t know if I want chips or pasta for dinner.

My Immortal

Last night, for no better reason than because we could, IdleMuse, Electric Sheep and I did a dramatic reading of the infamous Harry Potter fan-fiction ‘My Immortal.

For those of you who don’t know what My Immortal is, let me explain. Some time between 2006 and 2007, a girl named Tara Gilesbie wrote a story, centred around the works of JK Rowling.

The fandom of Harry Potter is a large one, and there are certain stories that reach a certain level of fame within a certain community. My Immortal is one of these stories. However, it didn’t reach fame in the Harry Potter Fan Fiction community. Instead, it came to the attention of ‘preps and flamers’ (better known as trolls).

These days, youtube is littered with dramatic readings of the story by various people. You can find it with spelling errors pronounced or corrected, with funny voices and accents, and done by people who can barely contain their laughter.

Ebony, the protagonist.

Tara Gilesbie is probably the Rebecca Black of the fan fiction world. She was young, and enthusiastic about what she was trying to do. Now, there is a a lot of speculation as to whether My Immortal is actually a ‘troll fic’, but I want to assume for the purposes of this post that it’s a real story written by a real person.

There are a few things that genuinely worry me about the story. Firstly, the quality of the writing, and I’m not talking story telling here. I mean simple things like spelling and grammar, and mistakes that a quick proof read would fix. I simply don’t understand how someone can make such mistakes.

Since it’s something I’ve never really had any trouble with, the idea that other people can’t remember the differences between ‘of’ and ‘off’ and other such word pairings (your and you’re, they’re and their, etc.) really makes me wonder about the quality of our education system. It’s been proven time and again that for a lot of people, the way that they get taught in schools is simply not effective, and yet nothing has been done to try and help these people learn in ways that are suitable to them. Tara Gilesbie is obviously one of these people who has been failed by contemporary education and needs an alternative way to learn the language she speaks. (Maybe if they had Gerard Way teaching…)

Another thing, and perhaps a more personal worry, about the story and the author, is the attitude towards self harm. More than once, the protagonist of the story states that she wants to sit around with her friends and cut her wrists (as a form of relaxation), and on multiple occasions, the author says that she will cut her wrists for every negative review she receives. She also blames late updates on having to go to the hospital for cut wrists more than once.

Is it just me, or is this attitude towards self harm a disgusting point of view to have? As a person who has experienced self harm for other reasons, the thought of sitting with friends and doing it as a social activity is one that is abhorrent to me. Self harm, to someone suffering from depression, is a way of relieving pain. Bear with me here, because it’s very difficult to articulate. For me, personally, the internal pain and intensity of feeling that accompanies a severe depressive episode is such that I feel like there is pain, self loathing, sadness, hopelessness, guilt, and something that I cannot locate the words for, are all bubbling up in my veins, searing and white hot fire that is seething and writhing inside with nowhere to go. Taking a sharp, gleaming knife and forging a place for the pain to leave my body seems, at times, the only solution.

So, to me, the culture of casual self harm because of how ‘cool’ it is and because it’s like a badge of honour amongst that particular friendship group, is sickening. I’ve seen people, mainly kids in their early teens, who consider themselves to be ‘gothic’ (and no, I don’t mean that they think they’re members of a Germanic tribe from ages past) but the world at large see them as ‘emo’, with cuts up and down their arms that look like they annoyed a cage full of feral cats. Thin scratches are their harm of choice, with short sleeves so best to show them off.

I wish I could fathom why people felt the need to do this kind of thing, why they think that it’s something so worth bragging about. If I could work out why, then maybe I could work out how to persuade them to stop.

All that aside, spending nearly five hours with some of my best friends reading out what is in fact possibly the worst piece of writing ever produced and laughing almost continuously, was a fantastic way to spend the evening, and I recommend it to anyone, as long as you think you can stomach the mutilation of the English language.


I’ve gone back to struggling. Every time I get into the getaway vehicle, the depression will throw out a stinger trap and stop me in my tracks. Get out of the car, go back to the lot and find a new vehicle.

I thought I was doing well recently, but it seems like I’ve just gotten better at fooling myself. Everything seems to be a short term solution. I’ve started work, as most of you know. I’m a kitchen bitch at Weatherspoons. They have me doing nine hour shifts on a regular basis. It’s very hard work because it requires you to be standing for the entire time. You also need to have hands of fireproofness in order to get up the speed and efficiency that the longer serving staff can manage. I feel useless most of the time, and I just want to quite. I don’t like the job. I’m terrified to quit though, since my friends enjoy going to that Weatherspoons quite a lot, so I’d miss out on a lot of social events because I’d not be able to show my face there. I know that if I quit, I’d be disappointing a lot of people too, people with faith in me, people who believe I can do it. I need the faith of these people.

The job is really exhausting me though, in a way I never thought it would. I leave work after each shift feeling useless and pathetic. I’m not sleeping well again, and whenever I eventually do get to sleep, it’s usually with tears on my face.

Usually, I love Darkside (not so much the music but the people and the atmosphere) but this weekend, after going to the effort of borrowing money off people to pay my entry price, I really didn’t have a good time at all. I felt self conscious about what I was wearing, dancing was wearing me out, and I was very claustrophobic. I usually love dancing, whether the dancefloor is jam-packed, or if I’m the only one on it, but being surrounded by so many moving bodies really made me feel…panicked, nauseous and afraid. I spent some time sitting at the back, sobbing into [info]theglaivemaster . I’m not coping with anything very well at the moment, and I just want to get back to normal, happy, stubborn Alice, who takes everything into her stride. I thought for a while that it would happen sometime soon, but apparently not – this ‘healing process’ seems to be taking a lot longer than I expected.

Another reason I can’t quit the job – I need the money. I need it to live. Going back to Wales and living at home isn’t something I’d cope with. I need to be near my friends and my doctor. I’m on the waiting list for CBT, but I don’t know how much longer I can wait. I’ve been feeling pretty disconnected from my family recently too, not having heard from home very much in quite a while.

All I want to do at the moment is hang out with Sam and Simon and play games and chat shit about nothing. I don’t want any responsibilities, I don’t want any stress. I just want to get better, and nothing feels like its getting me there, nothing feels like it’s helping. I want to be able to curl up at night and go to sleep easily, not to lay there convincing myself that there is something worth waking up for in the morning, because that is getting increasingly difficult.

Anyone who’s interested, next week I’m working Tuesday 12 – 9pm, Thursday 6am – 12, Friday 11 – 8pm, and Saturday 4 – 11pm. This means I will be missing both the LURPS meetings and the social :(.  I don’t know how many of those shifts I’ll get through. Doctors appointment on Tuesday, hopefully he’ll have some words of wisdom for me. (Hopefully those words won’t be ‘man up’)

At least the house isn’t constantly cold through at the moment. Though it’s unpleasant lately, since I’ve been too apathetic to do any tidying for a while so my room’s a shithole.

Also, my rats are vicious little bastards and Peter just bit me on the nose 😦

Day Two

Isn’t it amazing how much two tiny little white tablets can effect your life? It’s now my second day without the citalopram and I can already feel the difference between having them and not having them. Everything anyone says is suddenly a personal attack. An un-replied-to text message is an indication that that person no longer wants our friendship as part of his life. I feel overlooked, unwanted and so, so sad. I really feel like I’ve forgotten how a smile feels on my lips, I can’t remember teh sound of my own laughter.

And the worst part is that I know that this is going to be how it is for a while now. I don’t start the prozac until Friday, and it takes a while to get working. I don’t know how to cope with this. I’m on the verge of tears at all times. All I can think about is how useless and stupid I am and how all my friends would be better off without me. I’m losing all faith in the decisions I’ve made. Why am I coming back to study philosophy? Why am I not going to Amsterdam? Why am I not on campus at the moment? Why are my curtains closed? All these things and so many more on top that used to have clear cut, definate answers don’t any more, everything is full of whys and what ifs.

I’m losing faith in myself. Hopefully the new medication will bring it back, but I don’t want to have to rely on medicine to be happy. I don’t want this illness to control my life, but at the moment I don’t have the strength – all I can do is lay down and let it walk all over me.

Winning a battle, losing a war.

Depression is a very long term illness. It never occurred to me in November that in five months time I would still be in the same place as I started. I thought that a few weeks on the medication and I would be tip top again. I’d be back to being Alice, happy and cheerful and bouncy.
But still, some nights I can’t sleep, eat, think or move. I have so much pain inside, pain that I can do nothing about. It’s so hard to describe this kind of pain – if you don’t know how it feels then I can’t explain it to you. The only thing you can think of doing is turning the pain that is impossible to deal with into something you CAN deal with. In the case of most people, this involves self-harm. Physical pain is something you can deal with, something you can fix with painkillers or rest or whatever – the main thing is that you can do something about it in the short term.
Last night, I felt like I was going to suffocate from the weight of sadness, isolation and guilt weighing down on me. The pain was unbearable and all I wanted to do was cut my self; arms, legs, face, anything to distract my self from the pain.

But I didn’t.

I held up. I rode out the pain and came out of it OK. Shaken, crying, nauseous. But unscathed.

I am proud. One battle is a big step to winning the war.