Monday, December 26, 2005

Tippy: Healing the wounds of Self-Injury - a struggle

I would like to dedicate today’s post to a close friend of mine, who been journeying in like with what “scientists” quite quickly label as “Self Injury”. Though the labeling is sometime useful in trying to communicate among “experts”, it does little to ease the pain for those like Tippy challenge them selves. I would not want to talk much about DSM or related treatment or any thing scientific. Instead, I would like to see the world the way Tippy see’s it. The following journal was written by Tippy and is published with Tippy’s consent. Just as life, this entry is long and complicated. But, I urge you to read on. I want to use the next few entries to those of you, who like Tippy, are learning to cope. And, as i said before, todays entry is a glance into Tippy's world. Thank you Tippy, for the courage you show in coming forward :)
Darkness Under Siege.

My dad once asked me “why do you think we’re all made to live if we’re just going to die at the end of the day?” We were driving along the highway – it was almost one in the morning – and I was dead tired. I shrugged and turned to face the window. My thoughts were racing though – because I knew why. I knew damn well why. But I never told him. I couldn’t.

My whole life has been a lie. I’d grown up thinking I was “normal” – whatever that means... Okay, let’s rephrase that… I’d grown up thinking everything I was going through was what everyone else went through. You see, I was the poster child for allergies – seafood, temperature changes, sweat, salt, coloring, sugar – anything really, anything at all. I had no tolerance for medication in general – I’d break out in hives. I couldn’t swim in pools (chlorine caused major itching on my part) or in the sea (the waters salt content was above my tolerance level), which didn’t stop me almost drowning when I was seven.

Yeah, that’s right. I’d almost died. Sometimes I wish I’d let myself drown. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t let myself get smart – and get back to the edge… But wishful thinking’s just that… Wishing. Nothing more. Sometimes I wonder just how capable adults are at caring for other human brings – especially children. They say they know best – they say they’ve lived through it all. They say they wish they had listened to their parents instead of being arrogant little arses… but there they are – smoking, drinking… having too good a time to realize there’s a seven-year-old girl in the deep end of the pool – shouting, sinking… dying… Everyone thought my Uncle Felix had rescued me – pulled me outta the pool, hung on to me – carried me off. Of course, he didn’t stop everyone from telling him just how lucky it was for me that he’d been there. Yeah, right. I pulled myself out thank you. I walked back to my folks, thank you very much (who, by the way, didn’t realize I was gone, offering me fruits and pineapple tartlets with salad and cake until I burst out crying). So that’s the memory that sticks out most in my childhood. Me almost dying… and no one knowing…

Of course, every so often, my dad will give me a big hug expressing his giddy excitement with the fact that I’m still alive and kicking – despite all I’d gone through as a kid. Adults are supposed to be in-tuned individuals – but sometimes they can be so clueless. Doesn’t he see I don’t give a shit about whether or not I’m “alive and kicking”?!?! Obviously not, because otherwise there’d be no problem.

I was asked by a friend of mine to share my story – so it would help others gain insight into what it’s like living in a black hole – and how people can cope with such emptiness. Reading about someone else’s sorry-ass life has never helped me – obviously. Listening to sob stories, hearing about what “the poor dear” had gone through and how it helps to share and show a little compassion is all bullocks. If it were really that easy – we’d all be happy. And we’re not.

Back in the first grade, I was beaten relentlessly on the bus on the way home from school everyday by sixth and seventh graders I barely knew. I was a skinny, scared and lonely five-year-old who had managed to piss off some very big “big kids” to the extent of needing to be put in my place. I never found out what triggered the attacks. I never found out why I was such a nuisance… why I was hated. But I’d figured for the most part – that it must’ve been something I did… or something I was…

I wasn’t wrong.

By the second term of the first year, I was a social outcast. I was too hyperactive for the girls and too much trouble for the boys. I didn’t learn anything because I couldn’t stay still. I’d be running around – poking Ashleigh, kicking Ross… running off with Annabel’s lunch box while our teacher chased me across the room, knocking other kids aside – finally… finally grabbing me around the waist and tackling me to the floor. Wrestling me into a seat in the corner and waiting for the bell to ring…

I really didn’t care about what the other kids thought of me – mostly. It wasn’t until I was in the third grade that I realized girls sat around playing with plasticine – making cookies, cakes and the odd tart with clay that had eye-catching colors and shocking names like “outrageous orange”, “ravenous red”, “ballistic blue” and “yell-out yellow” . Even the boys couldn’t stand me. If they got in trouble – they’d get time out. If they got in trouble (and I was the one who’d caused it) – it was time out, no recess, sitting silently in a corner and constant reminders of what a “bad boy” he had been. It wasn’t a surprise that I basically kept to myself during my whole elementary school experience. It was either that or be eaten alive.

I was in the LSU (Learning Support Unit) throughout grade school. I was slow in everything, so I basically wasn’t mainstreamed. I hung out with my class for art, physical education and all that rubbish – but for all the real shit? – I was catered off to a special needs class. I don’t remember anything from being in those classes – except for doing stupid things like “If I had a magic finger I would…” sentence completions… Rather useless if you ask me… but *shrugs*… Growing up for me wasn’t pretty…

It comes at no surprise when I say I don’t remember much about growing up… and to be honest? I really don’t mind at all…

Let’s just shy away from my childhood miseries for a moment, and talk about the present. About why I’ve really become a lost case… And about why I’ve been given this opportunity to bitch about life.

Life to me… has no meaning. It has no spirit. It has no light. Life – is as dark as dark can go. It’s pitch black. It’s a hole… a deep hole of perceptual chirpiness that seems to gnaw away at the very essence that is you… It eats you and for the longest time… you don’t even realize it. You don’t realize the very thing for which you strive is the very thing which accentuates all thoughts of death and release. It makes no sense. And that scares the hell outta me.

Now, I’m not depressed, and I’m sure as hell not suicidal… (which, if you’re reading this, would seem a contradicting statement) but I just don’t see any point in going on… It’s a bit like this…

You’re on a cruise ship with all your mates, your folks, your family… everyone who has ever graced your presence. The doughnut guy down on fifth, the toilet cleaner who shot you “that look” for walking into the toilet right after it’d been cleaned… Everyone… every single soul… or shell – at least.
You’re not sure exactly where you’re headed – your folks tell you it’s a secret while you’re secretly thinking Hell – but eventually… eventually the ship careens off course and starts to take on water. So people start getting off – taking supplies: food, clothes – everything you’d ever need to survive. First the people you never knew leave… Then your friends… Then your family… And finally, your parents… until there are no more lifeboats; no more jackets… no more salvation… You crash directly into a small desert island and you’re stranded. Alone.

You have with you though – a gun, a bullet and a box of chocolates… The chocolates represents all the med’s you’ll ever have to take. Zyprexa, Lithium – and all that good stuff… They cure the symptoms – but not the disease. And you can go on taking it… It’s gonna keep you going – no doubt – but for how long? A day? A week? The little extra boost of energy a small square of Cadbury can’t make up for everything else you need. The real stuff… The good stuff… The gun represents hope… and the bullet? Your last hope… See, you know, that with enough determination and willpower, you’d be able to reach the fruit in the trees, you’d be able to slaughter the wild boars, the rabbits – whatever… But you can never muster up the strength to get up… So you think to yourself… Do you want to waste the last bullet on an animal that’ll only be able to sustain you for “so long” – or would you rather keep it for yourself…?

I’d like to think it was all made up – every single bit of my tortured memoir… But if it were – I’d be asleep… It’s three in the morning and I’m still pouring out my heart and soul – unable to get what I desperately need. Rest. Afraid that if I close my eyes – I’d wake up dead, and unable to continue writing. To share – to help…

Sometimes my life is just filled with moments of paranoia – “Oh shit, I’m flunking a subject – my life’s over” “Damn, I lost fifty quid – I’d gonna be homeless” – stupid little thoughts that manage to squeeze their way into my relatively large cerebrum… That manage to nestle themselves in between “get an education” and “make enough money to support your folks in old age” – making just plain living an unacceptable term and/or belief.

It’s no wonder I want to give up. Getting rid of thoughts that pollute your every dream – your every waking moment… Getting rid of anything that threatens your future… It’s human nature – but it’s as hard as hell… Self injury doesn’t work. Drugs don’t work. Drinking yourself silly works – but only for awhile… until you’re sober enough to realize the alcohol did nothing more than spike the thoughts and fuel their spirits. It’s like you’re trapped on one of those tea-cup rides at the seaside (summer) carnival… Your “cup-mates” are spinning the little wheel in the middle of the cup – making you feel ill with every little rotation – or movement for that matter. It really makes no sense at all as to why don’t won’t give in to your pleas to just sit back and enjoy the ride. But that’s what depression is isn’t? It’s a black hole that no one understands – it’s a concept that’s so utterly abstract – that it’s almost tangible to sane individuals. Almost…but not quite.

It’s almost four now… And I’m ready to drop. My clock says it’s four – when it really could still be three – but I just don’t know. I’m not going to bother about what time it is, because I’m just going to go… This is all I’m going to write for now. I have so much more to say – and if you can bear with me – I’ll have part two ready for viewing after the holidays – in late December or early January.

Christmas is a day away – and I hate to admit it – but I’m not looking forward to it. My birthday’s coming up in exactly one week – and I’m not looking forward to that either… It’s good to know depression does well in sucking the life outta everything – doesn’t it? One of life’s (ironic) miracles… *shakes head*

I bet it was all Pandora’s fault… Who asked her to open the bloody box anyway? Curiosity should’ve killed her really – instead of the cat (who I suppose, was really an innocent little thing… that did nothing… to stop her either… Damn it!)…. But, oh wait… it did didn’t it?

Alright, that’s it. I’m off to bed – sleep off this migraine… and hopefully this cloud. It’s a busy day tomorrow – so pray I don’t lose it.

This essay was given to me by Tippy. By reading it, i would hope that the reader is able to catch a glimpse of Tippy's world.


Steph said...

Read this twice and realised that there's so much more to learn and understand... thanks for sharing this to us...

Anonymous said...

When i read pieces of soul, spirit, glimpses into the life of others, im at a loss. My first instinct is to want to hug the person into protection, from the seeping constant darkness.

Then my psych -side kicks in, and i realize that the little cute-psych words, and the list of symptoms-to-diagnose, and what not mean so very little, for we are so far away from understanding something like this.

But that psych-side is soon overtaken, and above all there's just a human need to want to reach out to the other. Life is raw, and in so many forms. The overwhelming honesty and emotion in that entry knocks me back.

There's so much strength and bravery in that, I'm in awe of it.

Thank you for doing this.


astrorat said...

Dear Steph and K,

i have no words that come close to what i want to express to the two of you for the profound respect, love, and admiration you have towards others.