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Living in a world between normality and insanity


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A look into the past … Part 2

Please read the intro of part 1 to see the history here.

This piece of writing describes 1 of the many battles I have had in my head while struggling to overcome mental illness, addiction and self harm.

I post it with the hope that it will help people to understand what their loved ones might be going though or if you are the one struggling to remind you that you are not alone.

WARNING: Slightly graphic and may be triggering.

Vivid Images, written 29 June 2016

Spent lots of time up in my head today, both spacing out and thinking about what was said in my session and later with my sponsor. Wondering why I was craving so much last night, not just craving but the vivid images that filled my head. Feeling the blade press through the skin and watching the blood seep through the gap. Playing with it as it spirals and leaves tracks of red down my arm. Even now in the late afternoon the image is so real and tangible. I find myself leaving reality and fantasizing about it. Fantasy is all I have though, I can never go back down that road but oh how I want to right now. This morning I spoke of being disconnected, out of sorts.

I realize as I look through the day that yes, I could say disconnected which is a truth in a way, it is more dissociated than anything else. I sit in conversations and feel unreal as though everything is happening around me but not to me. I spend moments just staring off into the distance when I should be focusing on the conversations around me but I don’t feel a part of it. I don’t feel a part of anything at the moment. I think back to the images in my head and wonder why they remain more real than the life around me. Release stands out, pain stands out but denial stands out above everything. Avoidance of what might really be going on, fear of what I maybe don’t want to face. I can’t touch it though and through the day it feels like reality is slipping further and further away. I don’t feel negative and thoughts like being unworthy or not good enough nip at the edges of consciousness but haven’t seemed to have broken through yet.

I still feel generally satisfied with my life and where I am placed in it but I can’t seem to merge the emptiness with being satisfied and I am left confused. I do all the right things, work a solid program but still I am reaching for something and I can’t seem to grasp what it is. As I write this all I have eaten is a small cinnabon which is not nearly enough for the day. I realise that I have not been taking care of myself, not nurturing myself and if I’m honest I don’t care.

So at the end of the day I can no longer deny that I am not in a low space but where does it come from. I immediately want to blame a circumstance but off the top of my head, I tell myself that I am happy, that there is nothing wrong with my life. Is it true, I want it to be but I have just stepped out of financial security, leaving a job. Can this affect so much though? It sounds weird but I don’t want it to be my mood, that means looking at medication and puts me out of control but the more I think about all the symptoms the more I come to think that it might just be my mood.

Living with BiPolar sucks, being Borderline sucks even more. I call myself stupid because by now I should know healthy coping mechanisms yet still I slip into melancholy and dreams of slicing my arms up. The dreams have expanded now. I sit and have a smoke and hold the cigarette as close to my hand as I can without burning it. Playing with temptation but I can’t seem to stop myself. What if I go to far, what would happen if I let the cigarette touch the skin, kept it there until a blister forms? I can’t though, I would shatter so much, I can’t. Is it sad that the thing stopping me is not that it’s unhealthy but rather what others would say, what I would lose. It’s insane and once again I find myself not caring.

Writing this rambling is the first thing that I’ve connected to all day, the first thing I have felt involved in. I don’t want to stop in case I start to feel empty inside again, in case I slip off into the nothingness that has been hovering all day.

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A look into the past … part 1

Things have been really good for me for awhile now. My moods have stabilized and the emotions are no longer so raw. I don’t fear life anymore and live mindfully from one day to the next not letting obsessions take over.

For the first time in my life I am living, I am real and I feel like I have value but it wasn’t always like that. Recently I found some of my ramblings from 2 years ago that reminded me I have so much to be grateful for.

Here is the first one. I post in hope that someone else can connect with what was going through my head and not feel so alone. In hope that those reading will find hope as well, that if I can make it out on the other side then so can you.

Written June 2016 – not good enough

I close my eyes and I see swirls of grey, black and white spinning around in my vision. A visual representation of what is going on in my mind. The black represents the depression that seems to be sinking in. Bringing with it thoughts of failure and unworthiness. A voice screaming in my head “YOU ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH”. Against all rationality and knowledge that this is untrue, I still lean towards believing it. The grey for the confusion that seems to be swirling around my mind. Thoughts flying around interrupting each other and not letting anything make sense. Lastly white as the recovery I have built up in my life. The positive and sane reactions I need to survive.

It’s a mess though all blotted together like paint on paint in oil. I’ve been in denial for a while, avoidance more appropriate. “I’ve handed it over so it must be fine” and I realize the absolutes are back. The black and white thinking that flitters in and out of my life. All or nothing, it is or it isn’t. Who said that just because I’ve handed it over that it will be alright? But for me right now that’s how I’m thinking. I’m either fine or I’m not. Why can’t I be both? Don’t I fail and succeed like everyone else? In truth I am no different to any other person in the world yet I feel so alone in my head.

I sit here out in the open with a coffee to gather and sort out my thoughts. Heavy metal music playing in my ears because it calms me and right now I need to be calmed. My emotions are overwhelming me and I need to center myself. Realizing that the last month has affected me more than I have acknowledged or allowed. So honestly, I feel like a failure. Like I’m never going to get my shit together. Reality tells a different story though I struggle to see the truth. I am struggling to find any identity within myself that doesn’t have a title attached and I have no titles attached to me now. I move from day to day in a haze pretending that I’m okay when the truth is I’m not. But if I’m not then what am I? I try to tell myself that it’s okay to not be fine, to not be on top of the world but all my heads reminds me is that I have failed at yet another thing. Another disappointment on top of the many disappointments before. If I am dishonest I don’t have to acknowledge how deeply this hurts me. How sad and empty I feel inside.

“I will be okay” I tell myself. “I’ve worked hard to be okay” “please don’t take this away from me now” I plead with God. For naught though because God doesn’t work to this way. Is it okay to feel let down? To feel angry? I trust in God and believe in him, that he cares for and loves me but why does he let the negativity and bad thoughts return time after time? Why does he let the depression take over? What more must I do? I don’t know anymore so I plod on the best I can. Bit of a pity party right there though and I don’t like that so I lie to myself and stay positive. No matter how hard I try though I can’t deny that right now I am not fine, I am broken once again. If I was ever fixed in the first place.

I know I’ll leave my solitary spot here and go home to my amazing house mates, who when I share with them will tell me how beautiful I am and what an amazing person I am. How much they love me and how much I mean to them. And I know in my heart it’s true, that’s how they feel but I don’t feel the same. I’m sad, hurt, disappointed and through everything I still haven’t learnt not to listen to the voices in my head. I’ll smile though and tell them I love them too but go to bed empty inside because I feel so lost. How do I find myself? How did I lose myself to begin with? What am I? Who am I? Where do I look to? What do others see that I can’t and how do I learn to believe them instead of the voices from the past?


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The War

The deepest parts of my mind have come out to play. The segment that rarely get airtime raises its voice. The dangerous darkness begins to sing its song once again. But I am not the same person anymore and the Blackness cannot just engulf me without a war. The armies gather on either side. On the right is Recovery, tools I’ve gained armed with suggestions and good intentions, love and serenity. On the left is the Blackness, buried inside of me, wearing the known, the comfortable, spears of negative thoughts and beliefs of shame and unworthiness. The Blackness is putrid, rotten to the core. Old belief systems that are no longer true yet remain just as believable come back to the surface. I struggle to push them back and remind myself that I am loved, I am valued, I am cherished. I have won but the battle still remains. 

I have hope yet death intrigues me. I know reality yet believe the lies. I am torn between the darkness and recovery. On the one side I have everything to live for and on the other there is only suffering. But the darkness pulls, it lies but it comforts. It is known, it is safe. Lies, lies, lies but I believe even when everything and everyone screams otherwise. I fear that one day the darkness will overwhelm me, that I will give in to the nothingness and be surrounded, but not today. Today I fight with everything I have learnt. Today I let the light shine a little brighter. Today I live, even just for a moment longer. Today recovery has won. Tomorrow will be tomorrow and in that day I will fight another battle. In that day hopefully the war will not be lost. For now I relish in the victory that today has brought. I lay my head down and surrender to God that tomorrow another victory will be won and that one day the war will be over for good. 


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Fine but not fine?

maxresdefaultSpent lots of time up in my head today, both spacing out and thinking about what was said in my session and later with my sponsor. Wondering why I was craving so much last night, not just craving but the vivid images that filled my head. Feeling the blade press through the skin and watching the blood seep through the gap. Playing with it as it spirals and leaves tracks of red down my arm. Even now in the late afternoon the image is so real and tangible. I find myself leaving reality and fantasizing about it. Fantasy is all I have though, I can never go back down that road but oh how I want to right now.
This morning I spoke of being disconnected, out of sorts. I realize as I look through the day that yes, I could say disconnected which is a truth in a way, it is more dissociated than anything else. I sit in conversations and feel unreal as though everything is happening around me but not to me. I spend moments just staring off into the distance when I should be focusing on the conversations around me but I don’t feel a part of it. I don’t feel a part of anything at the moment. I think back to the images in my head and wonder why they remain more real than the life around me. Release stands out, pain stands out but denial stands out above everything. Avoidance of what might really be going on, fear of what I maybe don’t want to face. I can’t touch it though and through the day it feels like reality is slipping further and further away.
I don’t feel negative and thoughts like being unworthy or not good enough nip at the edges of consciousness but haven’t seemed to have broken through yet. I still feel generally satisfied with my life and where I am placed in it but I can’t seem to merge the emptiness with being satisfied and I am left confused. I do all the right things, work a solid program but still I am reaching for something and I can’t seem to grasp what it is. As I write this all I have eaten is a small cinnabon which is not nearly enough for the day. I realise that I have not been taking care of myself, not nurturing myself and if I’m honest I don’t care. So at the end of the day I can no longer deny that I am not in a low space but where does it come from.
I immediately want to blame a circumstance but off the top of my head, I tell myself that I am happy, that there is nothing wrong with my life. Is it true, I want it to be but I have just stepped out of financial security, leaving a job. Can this affect so much though? It sounds weird but I don’t want it to be my mood, that means looking at medication and puts me out of control but the more I think about all the symptoms the more I come to think that it might just be my mood. Living with BiPolar sucks, being Borderline sucks even more. I call myself stupid because by now I should know healthy coping mechanisms yet still I slip into melancholy and dreams of slicing my arms up.
The dreams have expanded now. I sit and have a smoke and hold the cigarette as close to my hand as I can without burning it. Playing with temptation but I can’t seem to stop myself. What if I go to far, what would happen if I let the cigarette touch the skin, kept it there until a blister forms? I can’t though, I would shatter so much, I can’t. Is it sad that the thing stopping me is not that it’s unhealthy but rather what others would say, what I would lose. It’s insane and once again I find myself not caring.
Writing this rambling is the first thing that I’ve connected to all day, the first thing I have felt involved in. I don’t want to stop in case I start to feel empty inside again, in case I slip off into the nothingness that has been hovering all day.


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Touch of the country

The rain runs down dust streaked windows as I sit in the bus, eyes closed, classic rock songs blaring through my headphones. I open my eyes briefly to watch the countryside pass as the bus slowly moves along.


My friend sits beside me head in a book. See we are connected enough to not even have to talk, companionship more than enough to keep us happy. We have just enjoyed a few days away. As I close my eyes again and drift into my conscious I reflect back on the past week. The laughs we had with each other, the trips down memory lane and the stories told I have never heard from my past.

Spending time with my grandparents is always a blessing. I don’t visit often, maybe twice a year but growing up they were one of the stable settings of love I had. I sit for a moment and draw on that love once again and feel warmth spread through my body.

While I am writing the bus takes a detour and my friend makes conversation with the people behind us and I think back to a different time when this was normal and people were happy to talk to strangers. This bus coming from the country, a place were you are greeted on the streets and every day waves to you with a smile on their face. It has been nice getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city. I have a silent laugh to myself as I remember sitting with our cups of coffee telling stories to one another across the generations.

I feel calm and content. Happy with my place in the world, a place my grandparents helped raise me to be in. Again the word blessed flits into my mind. Blessed to have friends that provide companionship, connection that is made with more than just words but actions and feelings. Blessed to have been raised by 3 sets of grandparents filling my childhood with memories of love. Blessed to have God on my side, to have stood by me as I’ve walked through each of my challenges in life. Blessed indeed, blessed to truly be alive.

My journey draws to a close now as the bus pulls onto the N1 highway, water streaming down the window next to me. Soon we will be in the city again and the quietness of the country will be overturned with noises from the city. That’s okay though because the contentedness stays with me. So thanks gran and gramps for that wonderful break and we’ll be back soon for another touch of the country.


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Alone or Lonely

companionship-fingers-197x300Sometimes I find myself sitting and wondering if I will ever find the right person for me. In the past nine years I have been single. For the first six of those I needed to be single to sort my own life out. I needed to learn to love myself so I could love others as well. It was tough and sometimes I wanted to give up but eventually I got used to being by myself. I got used to comforting myself and encouraging myself. I learnt to live with who I was and I learnt to love who I was.

But now, for the past three years I am ready to love someone again. Although I will have to learn to be unselfish with my time again, I want to have someone else around. Someone to cuddle and talk to, someone to be intimate with, someone who loves me despite myself. So where is this wondrous man that I am looking for? I don’t really know, but I do know that he is probably out there somewhere and I need to be patient. I also know that I need to get out there and meet people which is really hard for me. Meeting new people is scary but how else am I supposed to meet the person for me?

In all of this though I question my motives behind wanting a man in my life. Is it because I am lonely, scared of being alone or is it really about companionship. I have realised that I am not looking for someone because I need that person to define who I am or because I don’t feel worth enough by myself but simply because I was created to be in relationship. I look at my grandparents who are still very much in love and I want that when I am old, someone who I shared my life with. images

If you are single out there how do you feel? Do you long for someone, are you happy by yourself, does it not really matter to you. Let me know where you stand. Alone or Lonely? Proud to be single or longing for someone? Share your thoughts and opinions with me please. Do others feel the same as me or am I alone in this?


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The Ability of Choice

It was only a few days ago that Robin Williams passed away and much discussion has already been generated. The topic most discussed in my circles is the that of choice. Why would someone choose to commit suicide and or was is a choice at all. We’ve just had a lovely heated debate at college about the ability of choice (I am studying psychology). So I though I would write down my thoughts on the subject.

So do those who commit suicide choose to do so or is there really no choice in the matter. Let me start by saying that everything in life is a choice and I really do believe that we choose our actions. That said I also want to say that sometimes it feels like we don’t have a choice, that there is only one way. I know this sounds like I am contradicting myself but let me explain further.

If you are offered the choice between R1 or R1,000 with no consequences, most people would say there is no choice take the R1,000. I think it’s similar, while there is a choice it doesn’t feel like it and so we say there was no choice. Another example would be if you were driving along and in front of you was an offramp to the left and a cliff in front of you – is there really a choice?

In my experience with my own depression I rarely stopped to think about whether there was another option. Suicide often felt like the only choice there was. Now my friend at college says but that’s just avoidance and while I agree with her I do not think that in that moment anyone is aware enough to see the choice. So while there may be a choice it is shrouded in darkness.

Let’s say there was a choice, that someone chooses to commit suicide. What are their other choices? Continue to live life with no hope? Continue to feel the absolute pain? Continue to die a little each day. Are these really choices? Wouldn’t you choose to end it all if you life was filled with blackness, hurt, hopelessness?

When it feels like this is all life ever was, ever is and ever will be the choice to live gets taken away. I have been there and only through the love of God, my family and friends that I am still alive. It has taken years of hard work to raise the self-awareness that many who suffer with depression never get. I feel for every one of my compatriots out there who suffer with this illness. Love to you all.