Waking Up Empty

If you’ve ever experienced depression or anxiety, you have probably experienced the emptiness that resounds in your chest the moment you wake up. I felt that this morning for the first time in a while.

I forgot how horrible it feels to be hollow once more. For many weeks I only woke up feeling sleepy, ready to go back to sleep instead of getting up at 5:30 or 6 in the morning. This morning I rose, began to stretch then the empty feeling began to settle into my chest.

I have today off so I should be looking forward to everything I get to do (and don’t have to do) today. I have some work for my side gig to do, I’m going shopping, hopefully going to the gym and best of all, I am getting a sauna and massage. My emptiness calls me to forget those positive activities, instead to focus on how depressed I feel.

This is a feeling I hoped wouldn’t touch me until the new year. I deeply hoped that the light inside me could continue to shine brightly. To light me up like a jack-o-lantern, but it seems that my candle was blown out.

I don’t want my depression to ruin the holidays for me. Not this year!

On Christmas 2016 I was remembering that I had been suicidal for 3 months instead of celebrating with my family. The desire to die was so strong even on my favorite holiday. This year, I don’t want that to be the case! I want to be happy spending time with my family, my boyfriend and his family.

This empty feeling may not go away for a while, that’s reality. I know myself and have learned so much through my long journey with mental illness. In time I will be better. In time I will have my energy back and be able to feel good again.

It’s all in time.

Curbing Self-Harm Urges

When you’re in one of those intense waves of depression, it can be difficult to think clearly. I’ve struggled with this countless times, there were times where I thought the only way to calm down or feel better was to self-harm.

For seven years I’ve been faced with the decision on whether to cut or not. I have chosen to act on that desire more times than I will ever admit. They are scars I never want to count. Turning this into a positive, I’ve said no many more times than I have said yes.

Coping mechanisms and rational thinking have helped me through this tough journey. Here are a few things that have helped me:

Rubber Bands and Hair Ties

One of the first coping mechanisms I learned about was snapping a hair tie or rubber band wherever I wanted to hurt myself. This really hurts depending on how hard you snap it. It has helped me and of course there are no scars left afterwards which is a plus.

Find a Distraction

Finding something to take your mind off of the urge to self-harm, anything positive or makes you feel better. My most often technique is to play a video on YouTube that I can really pay attention to. I will watch very intently to push the desire to hurt myself back down into my brain.

Sometimes I’ll combine this with knitting, covering up with fuzzy blankets and dabbing essential oil on my wrists to engage more of my senses. I’ve learned the more senses I can engage, the easier it is to distract myself from my own thoughts.

Leave

Wherever you’re at try and leave that place even for a couple minutes to clear your mind. Go to a different part of your house/apartment, go to Target (that place has healing powers), walk around your block or sit in your bathroom for a moment. A change of scenery can sometimes put me in a different state of mind.

Think of Someone You Love

This can be a sensitive topic for someone with mental illness because so often we are told by our depression that there is nobody who loves us. My brain has screamed that at me for so many years that it can be difficult not to believe it.

Let’s push the possibility that depression is right out of the picture; there is someone who deeply cares for you. Think about that person before you hurt yourself. If that person was in the room with you, what would they say? If you showed them the marks, how would they respond?

One of the things that has helped me not resort to self-injury is thinking about my boyfriend. I know he doesn’t want me to do that to myself, it has brought him to tears seeing what I have done. So I think of that moment, I think of him because my actions don’t only affect me, they affect him too.

Well that last part got intense for me. I’m going to write a couple more posts about self-harm that I hope can be encouraging/relatable for anyone reading. I’ve been ashamed to tell anyone that I’ve cut myself on and off for 7 years but right now I feel brave enough to share my experience with others.

Stay strong and I hope you’ll all be alright! –Megan