How do I articulate the daily struggle?
Posted Thursday 4 October 2012
Please be aware that this blog contains reference to suicidal feelings, which some people may find triggering, so please read carefully.
Life or death – that dialectic, that invisible choice, that unexplainable feeling. If you had asked me at 14 where do you want to be in 5 years, I would have said university – living the dream, and conforming to the path laid by society. If you had said to me at 19 where do you want to be in 5 years, the answer would have been very different - the answer would have been dead. Three years on and now the answer to that very question I do not know. It’s not the finer logistics: my career path, my geographic location, my relationship status that are questionable, to be honest they mean nothing, it’s the fact that to me life and death both exist, they’re both present and the dilemma is sadly still very real.
Have you ever lived each day with the question mark over whether you’ll see it through? Lived without feeling either pain or happiness? Lived with the belief that you do not exist?
Have you ever questioned the love of everyone around you? Needed someone so much that you ended up fearing them? Run so hard you stopped moving? It’s a mad world to describe, but it’s also a real one.
I don’t know if words could ever truly explain the life that is mine, and I don’t know if I really comprehend it either. After all, how do I begin to articulate the daily struggle when it doesn’t feel real to me, and even more so, how do I not trivialise it by meaningless words and analogies?
The thing is life is built of expectations and conformations; there is the norm and the expected, and similarly there is the abnormal and the unexpected. I built my life on visions and dreams, on ideals and mythology, which ultimately would be dashed. When building your life you don’t imagine illness or catastrophes, you don’t account for the inevitable set-backs that you will face and you don’t design for not being a part of society, and I think that’s what makes becoming ill - mentally ill - even harder.
I could talk over and over about my childhood, the laughter scattered with tears, the memories that are etched in my mind and the experiences that I hold with me today. I could describe the diagnostic criteria for borderline personality disorder, for eating disorder, for depression and intellectually relay the feelings that accompany them, but can I truthfully determine the reality, the emotional heartbreak that accompanies the world of mental illness, I am somewhat doubtful. You see, it’s not the feelings that make living my life so challenging, it’s the void, the unexplainable. It’s sitting feeling everything but nothing all at once. It’s about loving while hating, and it’s about wanting while pushing away. It’s the searching while wanting to remain hidden, the self-destruction while wanting to be safe and ultimately the longing for an end while really just wanting to find a beginning.
My life plan wasn’t to hurt everyone I love, it wasn’t to look around at the scattered debris of my ambitions, and it wasn’t to stand in a room full of people and feel nothing at all. I didn’t draw a picture of being lost in a jungle, riding a rollercoaster, or falling down mountains, and I certainly didn’t dream that by nineteen I would choose death, over friends, over family, over life.
I can search and search for both my end and my beginning, I can imagine and dream for the life I once built in my mind, and I can run and hide from the person I believe I am, but at some point I have to realise that I am attempting the impossible.
I can’t and neither do I want to explain the path my life has taken, truly describe the events that have happened in recent years, or begin to articulate the entirety of the feelings that I have experienced. It’s not something I want to contain or form into black and white, nor is it an image that I want to draw on a page, because, by attempting to do so I would be removing the real essence of my reality. After all my life will never just be an image, and my feelings will never just be words.
You can follow Annabelle on Twitter @Dancingflame90
It can be really hard to explain how you're feeling to others, especially if you're having suicidal feelings. Our booklet on how to cope with suicidal feelings provides more information, and there's some helpful tips on the Time to Change website.
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