I tried to make myself dead a couple weeks ago. However, that’s not really want I want to talk about.
For the past few months a peer has insisted on confronting me about “issues and concerns” she had about me. When I plainly stated my mental health was not in a solid enough place to take on this sort of conversation, her reply was, “Well, let’s give it a try and see where it goes.” I flatly declined to do so, repeating my mental health was my prioirity.
Similarly, at a STS peer support group this year, I had a peer member call me out on expressing my difficulties and challenges. He said, “I’m very uncomfortable, Steve. You’re supposed to be our rock. I don’t think you’re being appropriate.”
The spectre of this demand upon me loomed with everpresence. My ex-gf even pressured me, saying “If you don’t talk to her, you’re going to lose her. You’re strong enough.”
Of course I have strength. I am very proud of myself for my strength. And at this time in my recovery journey, all my strength is dedicated to my wellness. I’ve made this absolutely clear.
Something I’ve recognized over time is there is a misconception I have “my shit together” at all times and in all ways. Proudly, I do carry myself well and present well. I believe people’s misconception comes from the success I have “wearing the mask” to function in society, especially when feeling kind of rough. It’s a fair assumption considering.
Yet, it’s exhausting when already exhausted. What I find most draining and disheartening is not when a Muggle says something like “You should think happy thoughts” or “Have you tried not being depressed”, it’s when peers are imposing upon me prioritizing my mental health and feel an entitlement to encroach upon – or even violate – my explicit boundary of “self-care first.” It’s exhausting.
Fellow peers not listening to my plea of “NO MEANS NO” is a pressure that depletes me and breaks my heart. I take it very seriously and very personally.
Trying to precisely define my emotions borne of peers expecting more of me than I have the strength to muster brings up feelings of hurt, disappointment, anger, weariness, exhaustion, loneliness…
If really expressing myself honestly, my emotions are a great swell of betrayal and abandonment. Betrayed and abandoned is how I feel.
These are my emotions to own and I’m confident I’ll learn ways to successfully manage the resultant symptoms. Still, it sucks feeling this way.
It’s been full-on difficult the past two months. I pushed myself harder than healthy (a constant failing of mine), my med regimen of seven years is losing efficacy, I’m not managing the symptoms of CPTSD very successfully (thank you, Susan, Paula, and MHRAC for this Disneyland of turmoil), and the holidays are simply emotionally defeating since losing my Mom in 2011.
All said, I made a best effort at killing myself two weeks ago. First time in over seven years. I’m here typing this so apparently I suck at suicide.
It’s important to know I firmly stand that it’s bipolar that led me to the (foolish) decision to try to be dead. There are always contributing stressors reinforcing mu brain’s capacity to lie me. It’s my malfunctioning brain lying to me that’s at fault and nothing else.
One crucial element for me, moving onward, is building upon learning how to express myself explicitly when I’m in crisis and learning how to ask my support network for help before the crisis turns deadly… and hoping they’ll understand the severity when I ask. It’s tough to see my distress behind the mask and it’s my responsibilty to reach out make myself understood. Pride is deadly sin for a reason.
Even more crucial is being very clear “NO MEANS NO” and not taking “No, I won’t respect your boundary, I won’t respect your health, and I won’t respect you” for an answer.
My Dad is here to help keep me alive day to day while I work with Deb on new meds, while I confer with my new therapist exploring the wonder of how much CPTSD manifests itself during my daily existence, and while I draw upon DBT skills as strongly as possible.
As for STS peer support groups, although being called out as “uncomfortable” to the group (no member disagreed) was a tough nut to chew, it is fair and useful feedback. We’re no longer a small cog in the bigger DBSA machine. As the founder and proprietor of STS there are different expectations of me and it’s very kind and generous for the members to help me understand this. I’m honored we have a community of trust where members feel safe enough to express their needs to me.
And, to close off, I’m doing much better thanks in large part to friends who are there when I (finally) ask for help.