I have been suffering from clinical depression for about a year now. It got so
bad that I had to give up college and, eventually, any kind of useful activity
- the doc has recently signed me off work and I've gone onto benefits. Yesterday,
I felt so shitty about myself that I actually took a knife and cut myself
several times just to see myself bleed - and it felt good, which I know is
fucked-up. I've told my parents and my partner about it, not wanting it to
become some kind of dirty little secret and not wanting to make a habit of it,
but understandably they didn't know how to help, and truth to tell, I don't
want to put that kind of pressure on them anyway - I just wanted to be honest
with everyone. I am in the hands of a cognitive behavioural therapist (who
doesn't yet know about the cutting), but it's very early days and as yet I
don't really have any day to day coping strategies for any of this. I'm
pregnant, so the doctor says I can't go on medication, but I just feel so
crappy all the time. Please help - I need some advice that doesn't just consist
of 'there, there, poppet' or 'pull yourself together'.
Thanks in advance,
Vicki, my problem in responding to you is that it's
difficult to provide any meaningful advice to people who are suffering from
mental illness such as depression - I’m not
a therapist – just a Heartless Bitch with years of experience being an intelligent adult woman on this planet. Some people
find my perspective helpful, but in your case I suspect there isn’t any way to
respond that will likely get through to you. You need professional help, but more importantly, you need to be HONEST with your professional help.
"Cutting" is a classic symptom of Borderline
Personality Disorder, and the one thing Borderlines AREN’T is HONEST.
Not with others, and especially not with themselves. Borderlines are passive manipulators to the core, specializing in creating drama in their own lives and the lives of others.
For example, if we look at your tale of the cutting we see
a complete, utter evasion of responsibility, while at the same time, a hugging
of deviant agency – “I do this thing, for pleasure”. You seem to say: “I know I am dysfunctional; now
react”. What the hell am I, or anyone
else in your life for that matter, supposed to do with that information? Telling your family and partner about it isn't about being "honest" - it's a way to set up yet another no-win situation for them. If
they criticize or express disgust, you’ll likely get off on the
shame-factor. If they do the
“there-there’ then they are patronizing.
If they ignore, then you get to claim abandonment.
You want advice? Fine. Consider an abortion (I know they are safe, and legal in
your country), and get back on your medication. You're a single
college dropout on disability for depression, with a fun new hobby of
self-mutilation. Or, did you have some plan caring for a child that we don't
know about? If you can't handle college courses, you can't handle a small
person demanding around the clock care.
After you've gotten honest with yourself, you need to be honest with your
therapist(s). After all, THEY are the ones armed with tons of "coping strategies", or at least they should be.
Don't continue to cut yourself as a way to feel control over your
life. I mean, sure, you can do that if you want to, but It's not going to work.
Your feelings of pain, helplessness and shame will return, your cutting will
escalate, making you even more hurt, vulnerable and damaged than before. You
need help figuring out other methods to gain REAL control over your life.
That's the only way I see out of this messy spiral for you.
Take REAL control over one aspect of your life (like, the being pregnant thing
--that didn't just "happen," did it? You were probably there at the
time), and then move on to something else. Make small decisions every day that are NOT
self-destructive. Hell, make a cup of tea. Anything. And feel good about it.
Then, move on to the next thing. This is exactly how the rest of us have to
make our way through life. And it is NOT easy. Some of us also need help. So
join the rest of humanity. You might find some comfort there.
But the bottom-line is:
life really isn't all that comfortable. Bullets must be bitten. What IS real is
the feeling of control you get by actually gaining traction over circumstances,
not just letting them swirl over you and letting danger escalate. You need to
get back on medication and then get to work on staying healthy. No parent is
perfect by any stretch, but adding parenthood to your plate at this time (when
you are self-destructive and unable to cope with work or school) certainly
isn't fair to a baby, and it could very well bury you and your child in
self-destructive behaviors for years.
But remember, whatever you
choose, it’s YOUR choice, and ultimately your responsibility to live with the