Here's a feeling you thought you had forgotten. An unconvincing mechanism used to deflect the pain entering my bones again. A pain enough to shatter anyone's recovery process. Its like hands clasping onto your airways, your vision becomes blurred and you become so disconnected from your surrounding you will claw onto anything that is closest to you. Except you weren't aware at that very moment you were feeling so petrified by your open vulnerability you decide to push what you subconsciously think is the closest thing to you. Then when their eyes widen at the very scene of your car crash of emotions plunging into their own boundaries without any given notice and without any warning of your shift of character, they have no hesitation and regardless of how many times you drove to them on a Friday night, saw them ina white gown shovelling down medications that convince themselves that one day they are going to wake up and this consuming, dampening waves of emotions won't wash them out anymore, they still define you. They still heckle you. They rip you with their own judgments when you have seen their shift in character through their own mental illness journey. They still look down on you. They will still spit on you no matter how much you beg and plead with them not to give up on you. They will offer a slippery hand, one that you reach out to but when the grasp comes it is so far away even though you felt like you could hold it whenever you were fearful. When you were at your wits ends. When you fell down from could nine that you have been sailing on for seven months.
I think the biggest suffering of our kind is assuming you know how someone feels. I have been guilty of labelling people's emotions after they have vocalised them to the best of their own ability. That said more about me. My taxing deflection had caused a lot of pain to others because I wasn't willing to accept that I had to take a hard look in the mirror at myself. I wasn't willing to accept that I was always going to have to work extra hard if I wanted to lead a life that was worthwhile. One that wasn't soaked with blood red rags wrapped around my wrist because someone could only see my surfaced facade I kept up for too long. Where I would wash outdated pills down my dry throat with the hope that these sleeping tablets lived up to its name 'sleeping'. Sleeping in the past was a thing I wanted forever. I wanted to be set free of the emotions everyone beckoned me to feel normal. That in order to live my own life, I must keep everyone comfortable around me.
A girl I once was having sexual connections to fill my chronic emptiness inside of me early last year came to the hospital with me after a self-harming incident. Turns out I had quinsy which is a complicated and severe version of tonsilitis. I was fearful of having a needle pricked into the back of my throat and she gazed at me, tear-filled eyes when I squirmed at the doctor saying it was going to be uncomfortable. She looked at me and said Carissa you will be fine, you love going out of your comfort zone. And everyone always views not being comfortable with a 'bad' thing. Its one of the most vital tools that have got me to the point I was/still am with my recovery. My comfort zone was bloodbaths in the basin, constriction of my neck with a belt, dizzy, tired filled eyes where my anxiety use to sink me into my bed for days on end, where I would drain all my energy into fighting with my partners who were never going to love me or be kind to me, I wanted that because I hated myself so much. The self-loathing was so consuming that it was my comfort zone I was not ready to step foot out of. Not until I started dialectical behavioural therapy. She was another stepping stone that lead me to recovery.
You see the thing with recovery is I am still very prone to relapsing. People often don't check the facts with someone who is hurting, for their own reasons and for their lack of understanding and skills needed to be able to really empathise with someone. We are quick to judge people when they are needed to be nurtured the most. A lot of it can be approached with the body language, communication and skill set to reach their needs during a dangerous and distressing time of their life. To assume you really know how someone feels without checking the facts can cause further stigmatising behaviours towards someone who is trying their very best. Sure it hurts like hell to see someone crumble when it comes to mental health. It's scary, messy and confronting. However at the end of the day, if this person means something to you, like as much as you convince yourself they do, you would check the facts. You won't assume. You will LISTEN as they heavily pour their heart and soul to you when they feel like they are spiralling again. You would hope that you would treat them like they treat you on your lowest days. With the heart and compassion, they have always given you, no matter how fucked up they thought your reactions are.
It's like the time he left you. Like she left me. The pain is overbearing when you lay your cards on the table like that. When you think about how you weren't good enough, how they are happier with someone else. That they will actually love someone else because to yourself you seem so unloveable. When in reality, you can turn this pain around and become untouchable. Untouchable in the sense you won't be a force to be reckoned with. That you won't waste time wallowing on the surface because that's where people feel comfortable. Love is found when you become uncomfortable. That rooted growth that comes after you work. The hard work will make your knees stained with dirt when you fall to the ground, however, your arms become strong each time you pull yourself back up. When you care for yourself enough to keep growing even though the circuit in your brain became fuzzy, you felt like you were dying again. But you didn't die. You did everything you could to survive. And I think that is the thing that speaks volumes. I think that is the thing that will remind you why you are here, still trying to be the best version of yourself even though peoples judgements have dug holes into your chest and you watched your tears pour out. You watched yourself nearly drown.
A week of hurting myself due to my impaired brain does not wipe clean the seven months of recovery I have had. That does not wipe clean the carer role I happily had for my friends around me, even if they cannot be here for me. I am still learning how to balance my give and expecting a bit of taking when I cant rustle up the courage to pick myself back up off the floor. I am highly capable of doing that, however, I wasn't recently. And I didn't want anyone to fix it for me. I wanted someone to hoist me up, dust me off a bit and say I am here for you Carissa, what can I do to help you.
I got that in the end. Even though in my expectations it was going to be from you, and you, and the others that are in our circle. I got the cup of tea, the late night 2am chats, the best friend visiting me every day in the hospital, a connection through you that you don't get to undermine when he understood me more than you could. To dictate a manipulation when you suffer at the very hands of the same diagnosis. The chaos continued in my head, then a message made such as this one made the noise quiet:
"Hey Carissa, I know I haven’t seen you or spoken to you in a while. But I just wanted to say that I’m proud of you. Recovery isn’t perfect and recovery doesn’t always make sense. Thank you for sharing your story and thank you for letting me see your vulnerability - it gives me hope and it gives me the strength to keep going. I wish I had the courage to be so open with my mental health as you are - I wish I didn’t feel like I needed to hide my past conflicts and current struggles. Carissa, you are so powerful and so amazing. Thank you for existing. Thank you for being who you are. Thank you for surviving. Thank you for living the life you lead, because you make mine that much easier to grin and bare.
Keep going, I’m right there with you."
Then that is when everything came rushing back. The migraines are still there, but my wisdom outshining the hate we both threw at each other. I will always be there for you. And the other person that abandoned me. And the one who abandoned me before. If you really needed someone, I wouldn't leave you in the pain that you all left me in. And that says more about you than anything about me.
I will continue my recovery journey, and I will continue it with my head held high. I have acknowledged this time that I still need to seek that help when my life is in danger. I acknowledge that I still have to work through my fears of abandonment and core pain. I am angry and in pain, yes. But I don't blame you. I will only articulate to each and every person who hurts me how I feel so they can question themselves as much as you make me question my own self.
Recovery isnt black and white. Feelings come and go, and people handle fleeting emotionally intense periods of their own life to the best of their own abilities. No one is at fault, a conflict will happen when you care deeply about your core morals and values and change can happen. When you care deeply about the people around you that you try seek connections with, whether they end up being one-sided. Whether it be the way you anticipated or not, but it will happen. And it has happened for me, and I hope it happens for you, and you, and even you, the one who hurt me the most. And it has happened for me so I can continue to be the best version of myself for my own self. And I will never let anyone take that away from me.