On healing

October 1, 2010 at 5:49 am Leave a comment

I don’t heal easily. When things hurt, they tend to really hurt. It takes me a while to wrap my head around what’s happened and come up with a strategy to move on. Maybe I’m weak, or maybe I’m just sensitive. But I know that where others can pick themselves up, dust themselves off and keep on truckin’, I have to try extra hard. It’s like what I imagine dyslexia might feel like. No matter how hard you concentrate, no matter how many times you turn that page, it just doesn’t seem to get any easier. I’m an emotional dyslexic. And I’m not alone.

I’ve lost quite a few friends and acquaintances to suicide. Some were closer to me than others. But in each case, it hit me like a fist in the stomach. You walk down the street and see someone you think you recognize only to remember that no, it can’t be them – because they’re dead. Sometimes, I admit, I feel guilt. I feel guilt that I’m still here – that I was cowardly enough not to do it properly – while these other people, they succeeded. I’m a survivor. That saying: “The good die young”? It makes me think that I won’t die any time soon. I’m too wicked. As for them, they were good people, promising and full of potential. And they died. If anyone tells you it’s cowardly to kill yourself, they’re wrong. It takes guts to do it right. Guts and hopelessness.

For me the thing that drove me so close to the edge was the thought that maybe I wasn’t going to ever feel better. I mean, the pills, the talk therapy, the visualization exercises… all of it just didn’t create any lasting improvement. One day I might feel good but then the next I’d feel bad again. There was always that bad feeling to look forward to, the one constant in my life. I still have those days when I don’t want to climb out of bed, where even breathing feels like too much effort. The difference is that now I know that even if the bad days will come again, the good days will come too. It’s a question of emphasis. Do you choose to focus on the next bad funk or do you turn your attention to the next moment free of suffering. It, too, will come.

Meditation has helped me to reach equanimity where pills and talk therapy failed. Each day I take the time to simply sit with whatever it is that I’m feeling: pain, sadness, guilt, happiness, restlessness, anger. It doesn’t matter what it is. I don’t try and hold onto the feeling. Instead, I experience it, as if I’m an objective observer simply dropping in on someone else’s party. That space I create each day, that gap, is enough to loosen the grip of the fiercest negative thoughts. Meditation is my road less travelled; a pathway that guides me through the puddles and ponds of my unconscious mind. It’s where I go to heal myself.

For me, writing is a kind of meditation. I don’t know what I’m going to write about until I place my fingers on the keyboard and tap away. Often I’m just as surprised as my readers at what comes out. Writing is a way for me to rebuild my narrative, to reconstruct my identity and to break open the thick, thick walls that have kept me silent.

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Entry filed under: Mental Health. Tags: , , , , .

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