Lifestyle

Saturday 26 July 2014

I hate myself for not being able to cope better with life

QI DON'T know what to do. I'm a 19-year-old girl and my life has ended. I can no longer go on, and think every single second of the day about how much I want to die. I am so down that I can't eat, sleep, or do anything at all.

Every day I think how much I would love to kill myself. I really want to. The only reason I'm still here is because I don't want to hurt my mam. I stand in the kitchen and hold a knife and want so much to just stab myself in the heart. But something stops me every time.

I think I should explain why I feel so bad inside. My dad died earlier this year, and two months later my mam was diagnosed with cancer. She was already sick when my dad died, but we didn't yet know what was wrong.

I thought I was coping quite well until quite recently, when it all started to catch up with me. I cry every day and I can't cope any more. I have no one to talk to because they have enough to deal with without me bringing them down too. So I hold it all inside me and everyone thinks I'm fine. But I hate myself for not being able to cope better.

Last week I got so angry I punched a hole in my bedroom door. This is not like me at all. I went to the hospital, and while I was in the waiting room I don't know what came over me, but I ran outside and started punching a concrete wall as hard as I could about four or five times. My hand swelled up like a balloon and they thought I had broken it. Luckily I didn't.

I think this was a cry for help. I am so scared and I can't go on living like this. But I'm also scared that I will end up killing myself any day now. I don't really want to, but I feel so down, I don't really have a choice.

Any time I think things are getting better, I get another setback. Last night I was going to slice my wrists with a knife. I also think about hanging myself. I know this is not healthy and I am really scared.

Please don't think I'm crazy. I am just a normal 19-year-old girl and I am really, really trying so hard to cope with things. I try my hardest to be a good person and not let anyone know how upset I am. But there is only so much anyone can take before they snap.

I broke up with my boyfriend two weeks ago. We'd been together for over a year. He was so good to me and treated me like a princess and I loved him so much. He treated me so well and was always there for me. I want him back so much and hate myself for losing him. It was my fault he left. Maybe if I was a better girlfriend or prettier or funnier he would have stayed.

He threw a glass bottle at me one night and that's why I dumped him. I was really horrible to him and said I would never forgive him. He tried to win me back and I ignored him. But then I realised how much I miss him and wanted him back. I told him all that, but he said he doesn't want to know me any more. And now I think he's going out with another girl. I miss him so much.

Everything is going wrong for me at the moment and I really can't cope. Please don't tell me to see my GP. I went to him and he just gave me anti-depressants, which I don't think worked. I feel worse now than I ever have in my life. Please help.

AEVERYONE deserves their share of space in this life, the space to be happy, the space to be sad, or angry, or disappointed, or distressed or frightened. Yes, of course we have to have concern for others. And sometimes we have to hold back on whatever we're feeling ourselves, out of respect for the feelings of others. When a young woman has just lost her boyfriend, her best friend doesn't come flying through the door to enthuse about her own wedding plans. Good people are kind and tactful, mindful of others.

The point I'm making is that you have taken goodness too far. Out of the greatness of your big and loving heart, you have tried to act as though you didn't count, your feelings didn't matter. In an attempt to be a good daughter, you've hidden your own fears, distress and sadness.

For all the right reasons, you've made a wrong decision, namely to bottle up everything inside you and behave as though the family tragedies had no impact on you. Do you understand? You've wiped yourself out of existence - or tried to.

You are quite right. Your self-harming behaviour is a cry for help. You want to be noticed, you want attention, you want someone to listen to your feelings, you want someone to give you emotional support. But you can't ask for it. At least you can't ask for attention in the context of your family's problems. You can't ask for what you need and deserve and have a right to, namely someone who will listen to how you feel about your dad, your mam, and your fears for your own future. So you try to break your hand instead.

You're saying, "Look at me, I'm in pain." Except, of course, that people paying attention to your hand doesn't help you. You need them to pay attention to your head and heart.

The answer is difficult, but also really simple. You have to lose the notion that being good means being silent about your own distress. You are not a bystander in all this family heartache. You're not a stranger. You are intimately and immediately affected by it all. The people we're talking about here, your mam and dad, are just that, your mother and father. So of course your emotions are huge. This is your life. What's happening means the world to you. It is huge. So of course your emotions are huge too. And they deserve their space, they must be acknowledged, by you and by those around you.

You are also very angry. And you're angry because you are trapped. The trap you're in is called 'goodness', or rather a false definition of goodness. No, I'm not accusing you, or blaming you, or giving out. How could I? You didn't invent this all by yourself. Your idea of goodness is something you learned as a child, growing up. And it's being maintained by those around you. No, I'm not giving out about them either. The adults in your life are in serious distress too.

The problem is that in the process they're ignoring you, forgetting that this, too, has an impact on you. You know that, deep down. So you're not just angry at yourself for not being able to cope, you're angry at the family too. Except, of course, being a good girl you can't admit that, even to yourself.

Since we don't believe in victim-status around here, the answer lies with you. Or at least the first step does. Find a more appropriate way of getting the help and attention you need. Ring the Samaritans, they are in your local telephone book. They'll give you the chance to talk, no matter how jumbled up it all is, and in the process you'll learn how to express your sadness and fear.

You'll also learn to stop feeling guilty. And you'll allow yourself to feel that rage, rather than acting it out by harming yourself. Then, you'll be able to talk to your family, get recognition for your distress, be treated as a human being, rather than some kind of functioning machine which has no feelings.

I want to tell you something else, too. You're in a total panic, feeling total terror, at the moment. All these frantic thoughts about suicide are expressions of terror. What you're terrified of is your feelings. The reason you're terrified of them is because they are swamping you. And your feelings are swamping you because they are not being recognised, acknowledged, brought out in the open. And they are not being brought out in the open because you think you should keep them to yourself.

Panic happens when we have no proper strategy for dealing with our feelings. You literally feel as though you're going to explode. The terror is so great you just want it to end. Yet all you have to do is take the lid off, talk to someone about how you feel, express your rage and fear and despair. So I'm saying it again, talk to the Samaritans. Or seek out your favourite aunt, or uncle, or ex-teacher, or friend's mother, or someone.

The solution lies in your hands. There's no need to harm yourself. And there's certainly no need to kill yourself. You just have to take one small step, and talk.

I'm not going to go on too much about your boyfriend. He's not the problem. On the other hand, I do believe that breaking up with him was the straw that broke the camel's back, the issue which sent you into this free-fall. Because now you feel totally alone. So just let me say four things.

You were right to dump him, to take a serious stand. He threw a glass bottle at you. That act, and the anger surrounding it, was abuse, no matter what the circumstances. Don't let anyone ever abuse you.

Second, it took great courage to assert yourself. You're so needy at the moment, you could easily have put up with almost anything. So I think you are wonderful to have been so brave. It also shows that you are a sound girl, behind all that panic.

Third, you know that losing him had nothing to do with being pretty, or funny, or a better girlfriend. You lost him because you made a stand, which was right and proper, and he wasn't man enough to make proper amends, to take time and get his act together, to work on his bad behaviour, and in the meantime wait for you. He didn't show proper remorse. Which only proves how right you were to dump him.

Fourth, and finally, you are now romanticising him, painting him in an artificially good light, because you feel so low and lonely. Think about it. He threw a bottle at you. That's not the way you treat a princess. And two weeks later he's with another girl. Forget it. You took a correct stand.

All I'm asking is that you take the next correct stand and start talking about your feelings. You are good. Your feelings are legitimate. You deserve some emotional attention. You need to be listened to. Find somebody to talk to. Right now. Let me know how you get on. I think you are a great girl and I'd like to know how you're doing.

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