“It’s, like, there’s two parts of me. There’s one half that’s moved on, that grew up and does things; and then there’s this other me, that’s still the same person that I was three or five years ago. And that’s the part of me that’s worried. Because it knows what happens if I get this wrong.”
It’s been suggested that I return to weekly therapy sessions, for a year, at least. Maybe up to 18 months. That’s a long time. That is, like, way beyond the lifespan of this blog. Also, I said I would not commit to regular posts anymore, and I stick by that; so don’t expect an update on every single session. But I wanted to get the quote above in because it will hopefully go some way towards contextualising some of the below.
Not adding that to illustrate the pace, honestly, just the time. I don’t think it’s the earliest anyone’s ever done a Sunday long run, but it must be up there in the competitive regions. The competitive regions in this particular case involve prancing through Clapham’s Saturday night wildlife and trying to ignore the slurred cries of “Run Forest Run!” (and definitely did not involve, as I suggested via email to a probably exasperated Coach Tim earlier, ‘secretly fighting crime’).
About 10:30pm last night, about the time I was planning to get to sleep in order to wake up nice and early to go do my long run, I began getting some fairly strong urges to self-harm. That’s not terribly unusual over the last couple of weeks; but they usually haven’t persisted, so I usually haven’t had to give a shit. The problem was these did persist, for a couple of hours, and were keeping me from sleeping, which in turn was making me more frustrated, more angry, all the things I need to not be right now.
It got boiled down to three real choices. Number one: sit and have an internet binge all night and be useless like a steam-powered kettle the following day. Not really an option, because I had to spend today moving all my worldly possessions from my current house into a storage unit, in preparation to move them into a different flat later in the coming week.
Number two: go through systematically unpacking all the boxes of worldly goods, until I found where I’d hidden razors/kitchen knives/lighters or something else, and go to town rediscovering all the wondrous fragility of my own body. Aside from that being kinda grim, however, it wouldn’t just mean finding hurting implements; I’d have to locate my ‘party bag’, an actual gift bag (still complete with tag) that I’d filled over the years with bandages, antiseptics and the like for the day the great funk might roll around again. See, these are the reasons you want me on your side in any zombie/robot/other apocalypse: first aid skills, incredible cardio, enough of a grounding in fightin’ ways to not be completely useless but not confident in it enough to be recklessly headstrong, a strong sense of selflessness. I’d be your Glenn, you know. I’d take that baseball bat for you.
Digression aside, there was still door number three: pull on the running kit I’d left out to make it easy to find in the morning, lace up, and head out to finally validate a long-held hypothesis of mine – that running can be a suitable placebo for more traditional self-harming. I think, of those three, I made the responsible choice? Or at least the best one that I could have, in that situation. I wish that I felt more sure of myself.
When I mentioned about the self-harm thoughts on Twitter, y’know as the modern man does, I got some concerned responses. That’s cool, I get that. It’s scary shit that I’m all too good at glossing over in my quest to remain amusing. The intonation of surprise in some of the public and private responses came as a bit of a… surprise, though.
I’ve been trying my best, when people ask how I am at the moment, to not say ‘fine’ or something else intentionally funny, misleading, vague, or any of the above. I’ve been trying to live by my own credo that depression, anxiety mental health etc requires a lot more honesty to be taken seriously, as much as I secretly cringe every time I have to admit I’m not doing great because I think it sounds attention-seeking.
Trying to do this all the time is hard. Sometimes it’s hard because it’s a conversation I think needs to happen, but I don’t feel like I have the energy in that moment to have that conversation. Sometimes it’s hard because I’m in the saddle halfway up Box Hill and am trying really hard to pretend I’m not out of breath and breathing out my backside, and that is taking 100% of my effort and concentration in that moment. Sometimes I just get sick of my own voice saying the same things.
“Things are a bit shit at the moment, and I’ve accepted that they’re probably just going to be like that for a while.” This statement, or some derivative thereof, is one that always comes up. If you have asked me how I’m doing in the last month you will have heard a variation of it. To me – to half of me, the adult me that just does things, this is me managing expectations.
That statement is the half of me that desperately wants to be composed and in control, translating the thoughts and feelings of the half of me that is neither of those things and never, really, has been. Things being shit to me, means things like self-harming urges and musing on suicide. And honestly, honestly, that’s what I thought I was saying to people. But yeah, when you get those surprised responses, and you write it down and look at it, that’s definitely not what I was saying. Absolutely what I was thinking, sure, but not saying. Fuck me, honesty is a hard one to get right.
When I say things will be rough for a while – this is what I mean.
I do not mean things will be rough for the even-keeled me that deals with things. I mean things will be rough for the lower, baser half of me – and that’s okay. I have accepted that the lower, baser half of me is going to struggle, and is going to want some awful things to happen. I am aware that the even-keeled half is going to have to work overtime for the coming months while half my personality tries to pop up the whole. It’s not good, but neither does it warrant such endearing panic; it is simply going to occur, and be witnessed, and hopefully fuck right off into the night again at the end of this all.
I didn’t want this to be an attack on anyone, or anyone’s views, and I do not wish to come across as ungrateful; but there is a platform here to maybe clear up some confusion, and that’s what I wanted to do. Self-harm is not the world collapsed; just a little bit of it falling over. If it happens, it happens, and it won’t kill me. I will try and keeping swimming and cycling and running and doing the other good things that distract me. Also I will not trust random Spotify playlists to choose appropriate music anymore.
Anyway, job done, as you were. I’m in someone else’s flat (massive, massive thanks forever Welly/Tylor/Frankie) and I need to go figure out the bathroom and other exciting things so my body knows what to do when it has to act alone without the help of my brain in the pre-caffeine hours of painfully-early-am tomorrow. Northern line at rush hour, maybe that’s God’s idea of purgatory for Londoners. Forever stuck on the over-crowded platforms, shuffling slowly forward, never having quite enough space to squeeze yourself into some else’s armpit before the door shuts. The urban millennial’s Sisyphus.
Listening: A Perfect Circle – Disillusioned; best of the new APC, spawned the tragic Spotify radio playlist, hmm
Reading: The Guardian Long Read – Post Work: the radical idea of a world without jobs; the robots are real and they’re coming and seriously what the fuck are we all going to do with our time