April 15 - Shame

I am ashamed of who I am. Yes, no question about it. I am deeply ashamed that with a relatively good set of life circumstances, I spent the best part of four months wishing I was not alive. And really, I didn’t want to be alive. Something seemed to stop me putting the thought into action, although I did research gas regulators at one stage. I don’t even know what stopped me to be honest. Maybe I was too apathetic to even take action to kill myself.

See, I also know that a peaceful, painless death takes planning and preparation. And, depending on the method, some element of risk. So even though I am an expert on methods, that does make me a bit nervous. Maybe, despite not wanting to be alive, I just did not want to be dead enough to go through with it. All I know is that I ended up in some twilight world, living, but hating living.

I couldn’t talk about it. It sounds hypocritical, having stuff on the site that suggests people tell someone when they are feeling really low, but I couldn’t do it. My therapist knew. But I got to the stage where I even struggled to talk to her. Sessions became ever quieter – in one, I said nothing for over half the session. Fancy actually paying someone to sit in silence with you – looking back, it is almost laughable. Except I wasn’t laughing at the time. I wanted to run out my therapist’s room. I was thinking of just ending therapy….but I didn’t.

I went to work and functioned like a normal person. I’d go as far to say that I was working very well. Outside work, I was barely functioning. I felt so hopeless. Like I have done all these courses, had all this therapy, and I STILL feel like this? Yet I also had the words I wrote on this website in my mind – life has an ebb and flow; it IS always changing. It almost became a test of endurance – a gruelling 15 round boxing match. Can I make it to the end of the day, the end of the week, the end of the month. The end of the winter. Just long enough for things to change….I longed to sleep as much as possible – just to avoid the pain of living.

I got a coach to try and take some action. Played badminton again. Joined a choir. Went to some activity socials. I am not sure I can say I loved any of them, but they got me out and around people. Then the spring seemed in sight. I could get out and play softball and golf again. Out the blue I ended up on dates with three different women, and I didn’t feel so unattractive; so hopeless about being alone the rest of my life.

I started a men’s group with the help of a psychotherapist friend who facilitates it. Ten of us meet every fortnight to talk about men’s stuff. It is really good (I thoroughly recommend it). I feel at home in a place where I don’t have to be strong, and can share my stuff without fear of being judged. In fact, I can share it in a place knowing that others feel similar to me – I am not alone. It is a very supportive environment.

So the trees are starting to bud and I am still here. I wouldn’t say happy, but certainly not so miserable. I am dating a nice lady, although that freaks me out a little. It’s like on the one hand I really want a stable loving relationship, on the other, I want it with someone I am not with. Like if only I was with “that” woman, then things would be OK and I’d feel happy and content in a relationship. It is almost as stupid as thinking if I changed my car or my clothes I’d be happier. Even knowing that does not stop that deep seated desire to make whatever I have “not enough”.

Of course, not feeling “enough” about myself is bound to bring that in to other areas of my life. So it is a very internal struggle. Even recognising it, does not make it easy to change. But knowing it is difficult to change doesn’t stop me from trying either.

So what have I learnt this winter? That I can endure life even at its most terrible. Somehow, I found a way to hang on. And eventually, things did get better. That being OK with myself, and about my life, is a long, tough journey.