A common phrase when someone is struggling and vocalizes such is… you’re not alone. I have been guilty of doing this myself. In theory it’s true. In the collective whole of our universe odds are that there is at least one person going through what you are. So in that sense it is correct that we’re aren’t alone. When it comes to someone suffering in silence that doesn’t matter. What good is someone across the country going to do in giving me support that I need, want and deserve. They become empty words with no meaning. That’s why I myself need to stop using this phrase as it’s not helpful, nor is it empathic. I’m learning that you show people things by action. In this case, rather than say they aren’t alone make an effort so that they aren’t alone like they use to be.
The last year has been extremely difficult for me. Most of the time in that year was spent alone. I’m not over exaggerating this either. For the first part of it the isolation was a choice because of how severe the symptoms of my PTSD were. Even then I didn’t have people coming knocking on my door to see how I was doing. I was suffering in silence, like so many with mental illness do. I had no friends near me and I had become estranged from my family. If it weren’t for my therapy and case management appoints I wouldn’t have seen anyone, other than the residents where I live.
After my almost suicide attempt in January this year, I have started to want to venture out into the world but am limited due to winter and costs, and the lack of friends. I’m working on making new friends, that just takes time. Maybe a better thing to say is, you won’t be alone forever. Well even that is problematic I guess. I think the issue is that many feel the need to give solutions to the person in need. Most the time when I’m struggling I just want to know that someone is there to listen to me. I have suffered most of my life from depression. I have learned that no one can fix my problems, let alone my mental illness. I just don’t want to suffer in silence anymore. Most the time we aren’t able to say I need support. This what we really mean when we say we are alone. Sadly most aren’t able to decipher the code.
Sadly you don’t just create new relationships that are long lasting overnight. It takes time to just create one friendship, let alone a support system. Again most the time I don’t want to talk about my problems, I just don’t want to be alone. I want to forget about the darkness by laughing and having fun. Sitting on the couch and watching a movie. Going for a walk with someone you care about. Basic human connection is something that is missing in my life. I both crave and fear it. I call it the scared rabbit syndrome. Those who with mental illness are like rabbits. There is potential danger all around us. So we stay in our rabbit holes most of the time but occasionally we have to venture out for food. Sometimes we must flee our rabbit hole if danger is brought into our homes. Most don’t lose support systems overnight either. So many don’t understand mental illness. Heck most of us with mental illness don’t either most the time. Stigma leads to a big ole pile of nothing. So we are forced into isolation.
I have tried since 2006 to venture out of the rabbit hole but I get spooked easily and every time I fled to the safety of my rabbit hole. This has led to a life of being alone. I have moved from city to city, state to state trying to run from my past and problems. It has led me into a dire state. I have pushed away everyone out of the fear of losing them. It was safer to be alone than to have my heartbroken. At least that’s what I thought. After twenty years of doing this I realize how wrong I was but it’s too late. I can’t change what has happened. I can only try to rebuild my world. I’m starting all over and that’s tough enough, let alone with a mental illness.
The fact of the matter is this. I have no one I see regularly. I don’t get to do fun things. I have a few friends that I’m trying to cultivate but nothing consistent. I’m what I call, under the radar. I’m not in anyone’s circle currently. So usually I’m an afterthought. I’m not saying that people don’t care about me because they do. I’m just saying that I’m not close enough to people to be in contact with them regularly. I thought I had found a friend like that to only have been mistaken majorly. I’m desperate to be in other’s circle. I see close friends out together and it drives me mad. I’m like an eager puppy willing to do anything I can to be apart of their world.
I haven’t been close to anyone in a long while. My Mom was the closest person I was close to and she passed away in 2012. I have friends but they all live far away in Facebook land. I just would like to meet one person who was consistent in wanting to be my friend. I get tired of always being the one trying so hard. When will my day come when someone sees my value to the point that they want to be apart of my world and not just be a passing thought. Someone who wants to regularly see me and makes efforts to hang out with me or at the very least check up on me regularly, not just when I’m in crisis mode.
When I was close to killing myself earlier this year I had people step forward for support but a week after I returned home that all stopped. I was alone again with very little support. You don’t just get to the point where you want to die then all of sudden after a few weeks of intense therapy are cured of that need to die. It takes a long while to heal from something that intense.
When you have anxiety, depression and especially PTSD going out into the world can be very problematic. On good days I struggle to be around people I know. I have times when I can’t leave my apartment. The other day I convinced myself that it was safe to go to the grocery store. I had to fight hard to stay present on the city bus. Then the grocery store was a madhouse. It took a lot of energy to get through those few hours. Mental illness robs you of so much. Stability, relationships, life, energy, health, etc. Being poor makes my situation even more difficult. I’m limited to where I can go and being alone in the world is very scary. If you think being alone with someone is scary, think what it’s like to be out in public with a lot of people. Each person is a potential threat. When I’m in PTSD danger mode I look for safe places to hide. The past few days I have had this uncontrollable urge to hide underneath my computer desk. If that doesn’t give you an idea of the severity of my symptoms, then nothing will.
I guess my point is that my situation is complex and being alone is just a symptom of a much larger problem. I have started to venture out into the world. I have been going to my transgender support groups and went to a pool party a few weeks ago. What I struggle with most lately is the consistently of these connections. I will have a huge connection one day and a bunch of isolation the next. It causes me to crash and burn. This was especially true the weekend of the pool party. The day before was my first meeting of the support group that I started. It was the best weekend I have had in over fifteen years. By Sunday night I was already starting to spiral out of control. I was desperate to keep that connection and the further I slipped away the more out of control my mental health became.
Two weeks later I’m struggling big time. I’m having a hard time staying present. I’m desperate to fill this void. I was supposed to hang out with a friend early this week but I had a bad day and had to cancel. See how that works. I finally have a date with a friend and I have a PTSD day. Fuck!!!
I hate being alone but I often get overstimulated by constant connection, like I did that weekend. I float away so high that I start to have an out of body experience when I start to drift off. I guess it’s balance is what I lack currently. Until I make some close friends I will continue to be alone and that sucks because I need support now. I have been alone for most of the last ten years and now I’m awake. I can’t do it anymore. Which is why I’m fighting so hard to get past the fears and insecurities. Fear and abandonment keep me from happiness. I have been making a lot of progress. I had a friendship recently that ended, not by my choice. I really cared for this person but my problems was too much for this person. I finally thought I found that one person but it wasn’t the case. That rejection and abandonment would have sent me spiralling into the sun last year. This time it hurt like hell but I stayed grounded. So that feels good. Still sucks majorly.
I just want people to give me a chance and stick it out with me. I fear I have this ticking clock attached to my back. I guess that’s why I feel so desperate. I know all it takes is one break for me to be successful in ending my life. That’s why I panic every time I have a depressive/ptsd episode. I can quickly spiral out of control. I’m talking about seconds and I lose all sense of reality. I no longer have a bright light to keep me on this earth and that frightens me senseless. I have so much to live for and so much left to do. I have wasted so many years and I just want to be happy. Everything is a chore. Nothing comes easy. Even breathing is difficult. I don’t really want to die, I just want the suffering to end.
So I just hope I have enough time to wait for the support system I deserve and need. In life that is not a guarantee. So while I’m alone now and in the foreseen future I probably will be. I hope that is not always the case. So if you are reading this and someone says to you that they are alone. Rather than say the obvious, just be there for them. Take them out to dinner, ask them over. Be there for them without any solutions or conditions. Show them that they aren’t alone and be persistent. That’s the only way we will believe you when when someone says we aren’t alone, when someone has the facts to back that up.