Two Small Words

“I don’t want to live anymore”

“I don’t want to live like this anymore”

Do you notice a difference between those two statements? It may just be two words, but it’s a pretty huge difference. Not wanting to live at all and not wanting to live in the situation you are living in are worlds apart. Unfortunately, I was in a situation today that caused me to think about this difference. I encourage you to read to the end for some important questions to ask yourself if you are feeling like you want to self-harm. No, I am not a doctor, but I personally find these to be helpful questions, though I know how hard it is to ask yourself things in the moment.

Instead of writing a regular journal entry about my experience today, I decided to try an exercise I’ve read can be helpful for putting things in perspective: talking about my own life in the third person. I won’t bore you with my whole story, but I will share the most significant pieces as well as what I came to realize when I did this exercise.

“She started to feel very alone, and angry about the fact that she had to deal with this cycle, yet again, not knowing when it would end. What she did know, for certain, was that no one would understand what she was going through.”

The frustrating part, for me, is that the “like this” part of the equation may never change. It doesn’t just refer to the depression but to the endless cycles that Bipolar Disorder causes, which mean that any ups will eventually become downs—and how bad they are may or may not be affected by proper medication.   Because they are cycles they are, by nature, repetitive. So living “like this” doesn’t mean living with the depression; it means living with the fact that the depression comes (and goes) and comes again, and how unfair that feels.

“For some unexplained reason, she started to think that a reasonable solution—or inevitable conclusion?—to her problem would be to hurt herself. But why? It would not, in fact, solve anything. And this situation was not her fault.”

This one was eye-opening. In the moment, I didn’t think to ask “why,” but had I done so I might have realized that there was no good reason and I was, in fact, being kind of ridiculous. I have said some pretty hurtful things to and about myself, there’s no denying it, and even thought that I would be better off dead. But there has never been a time when I thought that I “deserved” to get hurt (or worse). Maybe I thought that other people would be better off without me, but not that it was something I personally deserved to have happen to me.

That is what’s so frightening about the urge to harm yourself: it is so powerful that you don’t even stop to ask “why?” Or if you do, you basically lie to yourself. You don’t realize that it is not a viable solution. And you don’t remember that none of this is your fault.

So after all that, how can I change my “like this”? My best answer, at the moment, is that in those moments of deep depression I can question myself objectively, which is sometimes called Reality Testing. I can ask myself questions like:

  • Why do I want to hurt myself/ Why do I think it will solve my problems?
  • What will it solve/ What can I do instead, right now?
  • Who can I call/ Who else will end up being hurt if I do this?
  • How do I avoid acting on this urge?
  • Where can I go to be safe?

And try to answer honestly, the way one of your friends might answer. Don’t let your mind trick you into thinking that you need to be anything less than loving, kind, and generous to yourself. And remember those two words: like this. Because this never lasts forever.

 

“She began to consider what she had thought about saying. I don’t want to live like this anymore. Not I don’t want to live anymore. What a difference two small words can make.”

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