WARNING: This post is real. It talks about real things and real struggles and real pain. If you know that it’ll be too much for you, skip this post for now.
I first noticed it in high school. That empty nothing that made my chest feel hollowed out and my brain like a cavernous echo chamber. I remember thinking, “Huh. That’s weird. I don’t feel anything.”
There wasn’t sadness or loneliness or pain. Just nothing. Vast, empty, nothing.
It’s taking a drink of your coffee and discovering it’s ice cold even though you were sure it was piping hot a second ago. It’s the sun suddenly covered by a cloud on a blue sky day. It’s when there are less steps than you thought, and your foot comes to contact with the ground out of nowhere.
I remember thinking, “I don’t like this. This feels so hollow. It feels like my thoughts are too loud. It feels like every little thing that I should be feeling right now has just slipped off the edge of the earth leaving me just standing here.” I wanted to crawl under my covers and never come out. I wanted to die. I wanted to just walk and walk and walk until I fell off a mountain or a car hit me. I used to run until my lung screamed for me to stop and then I would run some more just because the pain felt like SOMETHING. And something was better than nothing.
Now I know what it was. The succubus that stole everything away was depression. Who knows why it started or what caused it. All I knew, was I wanted to claw my way out of my own skin. Then I discovered knives. Just a comment a friend made once, and it stuck. Scissors, knives, razors, paperclips, keys. Anything that made those sweet red lines. To me, they were the most beautiful things; delicate and red, pulsing and stinging. It was like finally getting a drink of water after being in the hot sun all day. Sweet relief.
It took me a very long time to finally break from those red lines. Seven years. It wasn’t healthy, and talking to friends and counselors made me understand that there are better ways to cope. Better ways to get through the sludge of my depression. I spent a lot of days with my sharp things locked up because I couldn’t trust myself. Luckily for me, there were people in my life that I could lean on, who were there to listen, or there to distract me. Those were good days.
Having Chesh in my life also changed something inside of me. I was less depressed, less alone, less empty. It was like I could be all of me and that was ok. Every once in a while it comes back, not nearly as strong as it used to, but it still hits me the same way. One minute I’m fine, laughing at a joke, and the next minute there’s nothing. I catch myself laughing and think, “why was I laughing again?” Suddenly my brain goes racing back in a panic to the one thing I know used to help. I have to fight to resist. I HAVE TO.
I learned a long time ago that no one can force me to feel better or to stop drawing those lines. I have to do that. I have to make the decision to say no, and find a better way. I have to force myself to tell Chesh, even though I don’t want to, and let him help me do something productive instead of detrimental. And I think in the end, that was the key for me. Drawing those red lines in my skin made me feel powerful over my Nothingness. It made me feel in control. But was I really? Making the choice to write or run or color or cook or ANYTHING other than draw lines, gave me a different kind of power. I was in control. Those lines were not in control of me, but I was the master of them.
There are people struggling all around the world. They’re in pain and hurting and alone. There are people who hate themselves and hate their life. They feel like screaming and running and drawing their own lines. I’ve talked to enough people to know that there is pain in everyone. It might not always be depression or self harm, but it might show itself in anxiety, eating disorders, and general loneliness.
People are afraid if they show their pain to someone else, they’ll be rejected and find themselves even more alone and secluded. So they take all their pain and they blow it into a balloon. They fill up that balloon whenever they feel alone. Whenever they hurt. Whenever they are angry. Whenever they are depressed. They think by putting all that into a balloon, then no one will have to worry about them. But eventually that balloon is filled to the brim with all of those negative emotions and suddenly… POP. And all that pain and sadness and fear comes flying out and lands on someone else. It comes out as yelling, violence, and bullying. It comes out as death. Everyone in the vicinity is effected, and the cycle continues. What would have happened if instead of filling up our balloons, we talked and opened up with each other? What would happen if we were able to deal with all of that negativity in a healthy way?
If you are in this position, then please get help. Do what I wish I could have done for myself. Talk about it. Not just to anyone, but to a licensed professional. Therapists go through massive amounts of training to be able to help you the best way they can. You cannot do it by yourself. I had to learn that the hard way. If you take anything away from my story, know this: You are not alone. You are never alone. There are people who want to help you, who care about you, and who want what’s best for you.
If you know someone who is going through depression or self harm (either thinking about it or already doing it) encourage them to get professional help. There is absolutely nothing wrong or shameful is asking for help. Remember that it’s hard to understand exactly what someone is going through, so be careful to never brush off their feelings, but instead try to understand them. It is not your job to fix them. The mind is a very delicate thing. It can make you think you’re all alone when you aren’t. Do your best to encourage and listen. Don’t talk or fix or straighten or glue, but just listen. Add a comforting touch. Let them know you are a safe place. And ask them if you can do anything. Ask them for permission to hug them. If they want to talk, let them talk. If they don’t want to talk, then don’t push them. Put on a movie, color, or go for a walk. Be a shoulder, but not a crutch.
If you need someone to talk to, and you don’t know who to reach out to, I can listen. I’m not a licensed professional, but I can do my best, and listen to your pain. If you want advice, I’ll give it. If you want a shoulder to cry on, I’ve got two shoulders for ya. You aren’t alone. You are never alone. I love you. I don’t even know you, but I love you. How cool is that? A stranger who doesn’t know your story, doesn’t know what you’ve been through, doesn’t know your pain or your screw-ups or your habits or your fears, yet can still love you so very much. And I’m not the only one.