Ugly useful things

This is a “Don’t try this at home”– kind of post. I’ll say it again: I don’t recommend any of the things below, the sole purpose of this post is to be authentic – and as mental illness isn’t always pretty, this post isn’t either.

Most days I am very aware that it is incredibly important to practice self-care and if I can’t do it for myself I sometimes do it to see my therapist smile. But then there are the other days. Those where I feel so dark and twisted and cynical that I just can’t bring myself to act responsibly. And that’s when things like the following happen:

Once upon a time when I was very, very desperate, I searched for “100 reasons not to cut” on the internet, just to see if there was anything convincing. I was in a dark place so nothing I found actually felt like it mattered: “Your family might worry.”, “The scars will look ugly!”, or “The wounds may not heal well.” simply left me as indifferent as I’d been before reading them. But then I stumbled upon a thought so self-destructive that I still find it fascinating: If you are as worthless as you think you don’t deserve the relief cutting would grant you. And that was that – it resonated perfectly with my non-existent self-esteem and it did indeed keep me from cutting for a while.

There were lots of days where the only reason I decided to stay in this world was defiance. Days where I didn’t want to keep living for myself or even my family – but just so that they didn’t win. They being all the people who made me feel like shit. As much as I hated them they seemed to keep me alive during some awful times.

There were occasions where I played sick games with myself like: For every hour so-and-so doesn’t call there will be a cut. If they call in time there will be no cuts today. Luckily I had some talkative friends at the time.

I used to wander around at night – not just at places with lights and people but rather in some dark and shady ones. Condemned houses. Railway tracks. Motorways. Factory sites. You see, I grew up in an industrial town. I loved the twisted beauty of those places. They gave me a sense of freedom. Their ugliness matched my inner gloom. And above all I somehow figured that if I could walk there unharmed it might mean that I deserved to live after all. Or that I was invisible. Invincible. The one who could walk places no one else wanted to see. I might even have hoped to find a kindred soul there. I didn’t.

Also I used to spend a lot of time with people who seemed even darker, more cynical, more broken than I felt. Not because I wanted to be understood or thought I could help but just because I wanted to pretend that I didn’t have real problems. It effectively kept me from wallowing in self-pity.

Now, none of these things are healthy. They are not productive or good or functional. But they are the twisted ways of coping we develop if we can’t do anything else. Self-harm is just a way of “coping”. Drinking is just a way of “coping”. I think that even healthy people sometimes use dysfunctional coping mechanisms so to some extent everyone can understand what I’m writing here. And I don’t want to judge myself because as sick and absurd as some of these things might seem – at the end of the day they’ve kept me alive so that I have the chance to learn more functional ways of coping now. You can read about those in a few days. Until then: Stay safe (unlike me ;))!



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