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Feeling

detailed description of self harm, depression, anxiety

The last couple of things I wrote about depression were accompanied by some extremely terrible (if well received) doodles. Thank you for your grace with regard to my lack of artistic talent. I’m not sure I can do many drawings for this. Partly because they’d be a bit graphic, but mostly because hands are damn hard to draw.

This blog/story/piece of writing, lacking any apparent structure or purpose, is about self-harm and the void it momentarily appears to fill.

(Note: please do not read this as necessarily speaking for my life or mental state, as it is now or at any defined point in the past - I’m not putting any kind of time frame on this. Just know that I am, at the time of writing, making use of another widely-used and trusted coping technique: some voids are best filled with cake.)

The first thing to say might be that, for the longest time, it did not cross my mind that I was self-harming. It was like those ‘I had no idea I was pregnant’ stories you read about in trashy magazines, where you silently yell ‘How the hell could you not know?’, internally smug that you would never be so stupid.

The second thing might be that I’m kind of scared that nobody will want to speak to me anymore. Not that people haven’t been great (and I mean really, really great) and understanding before, but this seems different.

If you’ve experienced depression, anxiety or any ‘mental’ illness, you’ll know that the experience can have an extreme physical dimension. But for others, self-harm may bring what was before simply a concept - something that existed in theory, in its own ‘mental’ dimension - crudely into the physical realm. It is much easier to be repelled, even repulsed, by a physical fact than an idea; now there is something ‘real’ to back away from.

 

Please don’t.

 

I have always been a coward. Even though I declare that Jesus has saved me and that He loves me, lives in me and makes me brave, the gulf between His heart and mine is wide and deep. Although I have His love, and He pursues me unerringly across the gulf, I turn my back and almost unthinkingly abuse my heaven-sent body, enslaved.

Even the way that I’ve hurt myself is cowardly. No sharp blade, no searing pain, no pooling blood.

No.

When the voices inside my head compete and become so loud that they are all drowned out and I have no emotion, only the ache that courses the length of my body and drags me to the floor, I search for a sense. I search for a feeling.

My hands are knives and I bring them up to my head and beneath my hair. When they come back down again, my fingers are streaked with blood and the soft sting of my violence reminds me that I am alive.

I search for a feeling.

A few weeks ago I wore a long necklace with a heavy pendant to work. Walking home is often when I find myself becoming empty, a kind of ‘walking void’, if you will. Something to do with a sudden lack of distractions and interactions, I guess. Anyway, I began walking home as usual, and the ache of the void arrived. It doesn’t seem to make much sense to be both feeling nothing and in pain from this nothingness, but perhaps that’s what makes it seem inescapable.

I search for a feeling.

As I search, I begin to walk faster. My necklace bobs against my torso, and as I speed up, it swings more violently against me. Thud, thud, thud. There is something sharp on my pendant. Oh, sweet feeling. There are small bruises on me when I get home.

 

 

It goes in cycles.

Sometimes it’s not there. Sometimes there’s brightness to the sky and an excitement in waking up. I dance around a lot on those days.

Otherwise, there are crying times and nothing times.

The first time I knew I was depressed, back in the second year of uni, it was because I realised I had cried every day for multiple months. Those stretches can go on for a while.

Now I find myself in a nothing patch.

Some moderately crappy things have happened over the last few months, and I cannot cry for them. There is only the pain of empty, and no satisfaction to be found in mourning.

Some things I know to be wonderful have also happened lately, but the joy cannot seem to penetrate my skin.

I want to cry for my dead dog, ill mother, boy who stole my heart across the sea. And I want to laugh as hard as I used to at your drunk dancing, friend.

I search for a feeling.

(Save me a beer, I’ll be there shortly.)


- Elise Morton

You can see more of Elise’s writing and comics on her blog.