“Better” has yet to come for me.
I still self-injure a lot. I bite a lot less than I used to, but I punch and box my head a lot more. I currently have scratches on my leg because my fiance called me while I was trying to figure out what was going on with the entertainment system in my bedroom (it was the power strip. The problem was fixed by buying and plugging in a new power strip). I have stim toys — a Tangle Jr. and a fidget spinner–and while they can help keep me calm when the stress is light, they don’t stop the meltdowns from melting.
Everyone who knows me comments that I’ve been more stressed lately.
I got in a car wreck in March, and now I’m very jumpy when I’m in a vehicle (I’m still able to drive, thankfully, but I have even more anxiety as both a driver and as a passenger than I already had).
I barely update this blog anymore. I used to think that this blog would be my ticket into advocacy–or at the very least, freelance writing–as a career.
I have a job. I generally like said job. I’m not allowed to say much about said job here due to Nondisclosure Agreements, but, basically, I test video games for a really big video game company (the one that does the life simulation series with a title that would go well on a pack of Slim Jims. I don’t test said life simulation series).
I’ve had meltdowns and shutdowns there, too, in generally quiet cubicles. It took me a month of working there before I no longer contemplated quitting every single day, and I still contemplate quitting a lot (though it doesn’t help that they assigned me to the night shift and I didn’t fight them on it. Much to my surprise, I can handle a night shift. But I don’t desire it, not one bit, and I’d NEVER do it again. I’m grateful that I now know that I CAN work a night shift if it is absolutely necessary, but if there is at all a choice, it isn’t a choice I’d ever make again. I’m not a night person. I’m just not).
I haven’t done any creative writing in months. Poetry and fiction used to be my passions, what I lived for, what I believed I was put into this universe to create as much of as possible.
I still want to die sometimes.
As in once every other day, at least, and some weeks, once a day or more.
I sometimes wonder what separates me from people who do go on to take their own lives. Why do I tie the scarf around my neck but let go before I lost too much breath? Why do I look through the pills in the medicine cabinet and then close the door back? Why is it that when I’m the only one at home, I notice that it’d be so easy to grab the pistol that my father keeps around the house, walk into the woods, and pull the trigger, but I always leave the gun untouched exactly where it is?
I don’t think that I’m a “stronger” person that those who do attempt or die by suicide. I don’t think that people who kill themselves are necessarily weak, and I don’t really perceive myself as “strong” by any stretch of the imagination.
I think what it is, though, what keeps my suicidal ideation, low self-esteem, and even lower energy and volition from progressing into full-blown Major Depressive Disorder is that I still have hope.
I don’t particularly like myself today.
But I somehow still believe that I have what it takes to become somebody that I will like.
I’m not nearly as productive as I’d like to be. I spend much more time on iFunny and Facebook than I do in WordPress or in Microsoft Drive.
But I can’t shake the feeling that those lexical gears are still turning, if at a glacial pace, somewhere inside of me, and that, one day, when I get “it” together (hell if I know what this “it” is, but I know unshakably that “it” exists), once the pain of not writing finally outstings the anxiety of not being “good enough” or the lethargy that binds me from putting a considerable amount of energy into any one thing, that the words will start flowing like liquid again and wash these blank pages anew.
My mental health is in shambles, and it only seems to be getting worse. I don’t know if I’ll be able to hold down this job for the whole length of the contract without getting fired for submitting too few issues due to the anxiety or without declaring that it’s not worth the stress and up and leaving.
But I somehow still believe that once I hit rock bottom completely, wherever that may be, that they’ll be sun shining over the canyon and that there’ll be a support network with outstretched hands and propped-up ladders ready to help me climb out.
Maybe that’s a large part of it, too; I have people in my life who refuse to see me as anything less than talented and capable and as someone who can and will make a real difference in the world.
I hope that all of you reading this have someone like this in your own lives.
If you don’t, I hope that this someone enters your life soon.
Because since there are people that I love deeply that refuse to give up on me, I refuse to give up on me.
I refuse to give up my dream as a writer. In fact, my parents made a comment day about “when I write my book”. I may never be one of those writers who work on their craft every day or even every month. But those gears are turning, and, one day, those stories will be told and those lines will ring out.
I refuse to give up my pursuit of happier and healthier. I will keep looking for the rainbows in the thunderstorms (and when those aren’t there, I’ll simply gasp in awe at the clouds and the thunder themselves because I actually really like thunderstorms and major weather events. Had I not been drawn to the humanities and the social sciences, I might have become a meteorologist instead). I will keep seeking out those moments of quiet and peace, of watching the wind blow across long strands of grass, of the songbirds and the crickets chirping in unison, of sneaking off to a bathroom or to an area of the building not attended to and taking a deep breath. I will continue to seek out that which brings me joy and distance myself from that which does not (within reason; I’m not going to dodge my taxes or anything like that).
I refuse to give up on being alive.
Life hurts, sometimes excruciatingly so. But there is a lot of beauty in it, too, and I refuse to let all that is bad overwhelm all that is good. Mostly, I refuse to let my death and all of the pain, the guilt, the regret, the agony that it would cause those dear to me be the bad that overwhelms the good in their lives.
I refuse to give up.
I may tread slowly, but I refuse to stop moving forward.
I may fall back, fall behind, fall down, but I refuse to believe that this rut that I’m in and that it feels like I’ve been seeping further into forever is where I will remain.
Am I naive for feeling this way, for still having hope when years of experience tell me otherwise, for knowing what I know about how easily autistic adults fall apart and knowing that there will only be more demands as I get older and as more is expected of me? Maybe.
But if being naive is what it takes for me to survive right, then call me a fool, but a grateful fool.
So here’s to you, Burnout, Suicidal Thoughts, Anxiety, Lethargy, and all of the things inside of me that hold me down:
You may win several battles a day, but you will NOT win this war.
There is love that is stronger than your darkness.
There is bravery stronger than all of the fear that you inspire in me.
There is a tomorrow that comes after your many, many, many todays.
I refuse to give up.
“I swear I’ll never give in. I refuse!” – Foo Fighters, The Best Of You
Here’s the obligatory reference to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255) and to the Chatline and similar international resources. Maybe you’ll find them helpful, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll find help in the form of the National Alliance on Mental Illness or To Write Love On Her Arms or one of many Facebook groups or online forums for people with your neurology or developmental condition or mental health condition or life circumstances or whatever.
Life is hard, like really, no kidding, soul-crushingly, terrifyingly hard, but life is also beautiful, and you are part of that beauty.
I refuse to give up, and I hope that you refuse to give up, too.