What I Need

My depression has been rather severe lately. Very low energy, no motivation. Someone even worse than the Critic tearing me apart verbally and emotionally. Anxiety dreams. Insomnia. Disappearing into The Sims 3 for entire days.

Thoughts about harming myself take 2 forms. One is brought on by strong emotions; I want to release them by ripping into my own flesh. The other is looking at a sharp object and imagining what I could do to my arm with it, how that might feel. I need to feel something, and physical pain is so much simpler than the mess of thoughts and emotions that have been plaguing me constantly. Sometimes I use it to get the cloud to lift for a few seconds, so I can literally see more clearly. Thoughts about suicide stem from the idea that maybe that’s a way to make it all stop.

Then, on Saturday, I learned that my uncle had died. Mom has been supporting her best friend / sister; the dog and I have been feeling the strain. Today she stopped to talk to me on her way out to the wake. I was so hurt by the things she said that I could do nothing but curl up in fetal position on my bed, with Fox curled around me. The only thing that could “snap me out of it” was the sound of the dog attacking the door that kept him away from us. When I let him out I said, “You’re just doing to the door what I feel like doing to myself. It’s okay. You’re not alone. We’re here and we love you.” I held him in much the same way Fox had held me. It brought comfort.

On Saturday I had the opportunity to be honest about everything I’ve been experiencing, witnessed by 2 very loving and supportive people who Understand. One of them, the first one I opened up to, asked me, “What do you need?” A hug. My concerns and feelings and fears to be taken seriously. The opportunity to be genuine and accept my reality. To know I am safe; I will not be committed to a psychiatric hospital against my will.

They met my needs.

It was then that I first gave validity and words to a more troubling need. I need to drop 2 of my classes: the ones relevant to my career field of choice, that I need to complete my Master’s degree, that I’ve already waited 2 years to take.

One is the source of the dreaded Piano Midterm that I’m scheduled to take tomorrow. I’ve stopped thinking of myself as completely unprepared for it – either I’ll go and do something and accept the results, or I’ll go and we’ll talk and the instructor will agree that there’s not really much point to me taking it.

The other class would be fantastic, but the experiential component is literally hazardous to my health. I feel paralyzed by anxiety about doing it, I force myself to try, and then I tear myself to shreds with berating comments. Any mistakes I made, the uncertainty I felt, the things I did that were a repetition of what others had done, the ways in which I failed to use the instructor’s feedback, the things I said that I know aren’t helpful because others have said them to me or I’ve tried them on loved ones and they haven’t worked, even my appearance. Anything is fair game and all of it tears into me emotionally, until I want to tear (cut) into myself physically. If I were to act on the compulsion, I’m not sure when – or whether – I’d stop.

If I drop these 2 classes I’ll be left with 2 that I enjoy and that put a lot less pressure on me but that I don’t really need in an academic/professional sense. I need them in an emotional sense – for feelings of accomplishment and self-worth and opportunities for structured social interaction.

I’ll also have time – likely, another 2 years – to heal the giant festering wound that has consumed most of Me, and to do some of the activism and advocacy that I feel inclined toward. I’ll come out of it better able to enter my chosen career field – if they’ll still have me. My biggest fear is that my school will cast me out and at best I’ll have difficulty re-entering the program. And I’m not looking forward to my mother’s reaction. But if I can survive the hell my mind has become, I think I can survive her.