How Silence Makes Me Feel (And Other Digressions)

This is a response to one of the questions in a book titled ‘Writing Prompts for the Creative Scribe’. 

How does silence make you feel? When you’re alone? When you’re with other people?

Silence makes me feel unsettled. When I’m alone, I often retreat to my old ways of negative thinking and I start having bad thoughts about my life, unless I have a distraction. A dog, a song, an activity, a creative idea. Sometimes that still isn’t enough and after a little while I begin to wonder why I still exist. What are my reasons for living? Even when I list what and who I have in my life, it still sometimes doesn’t feel real. Like I’ve been living a lie for the past 24 years.

Silence when I’m with others is a lot more bearable. It’s difficult to allow those negative thoughts to overcome me in someone’s presence, especially if that person means a lot to me. In other’s company, I can reflect on my surroundings a lot more. I can occupy myself with what they look like, what they’re doing, what they might be thinking. This unfortunately means I am also riddled with anxiety if I don’t know my company-keepers entirely well. I judge others without meaning to. I really wish I wasn’t the sort of person that judges, but I am. I also assume that strangers do the same for me, when they’re most likely not judging at all. I should stop assuming, but it feels so natural to me.

I need to realise that I’m never truly encapsulated by silence. There’s always something to focus on – a small detail of sound, an essence of noise, a droplet of unprovoked nature in the air.  I try to describe what I hear to attempt to rid the negative thoughts in my head. But how long can I distract myself for?

 

My Letter To Depression

Depression,

Why do you mask the amazing parts of my life and drive me to sit behind black cloud with no vision of getting past it? Why are you constantly there, cramping my style, and the only way I can find to fight against you is to speak out about it? But then, why is your sidekick Stigma always nearby to kick me in the face every time I feel like I’m getting somewhere? Please tell me, is this fair?

Why do you not let me enjoy things anymore, like band rehearsal? Why do you insist that the music is way too loud, when it is just as loud as it is every week? Why do you force me to sit in the corner, with pins and needles worming their way down my limbs, withdrawn from my bandmates for 2 complete hours? Please tell me, is this fair?

How do you propel me so deep into your despair that no amount of embraces from my partner can relieve my sobbing? Why do you refuse to give in, compelling me to push away my loved ones under constraint? How can you manipulate my brain enough so I ignore messages from people I care about, until they don’t care anymore? Where do I stand? Or do you just completely control me? Please tell me, is this fair?

And by the way, your friend Anxiety…Why do they make me feel nervous when there’s nothing to be nervous about? I’m sitting at home, quite comfy and content, but then my stomach churns and I feel impending doom all of a sudden. I feel like I’m in trouble and my life is over. Please tell me, is this fair?

No, you’re not killing me. But you are extracting the soul out of me. You’re ripping me apart and stripping my quality of life. Please tell me, is this fair? Because I really don’t think I deserve this.

From Sarah, the one who will continue to fight until the end.

My Experience With Suicidal Thoughts

*WARNING: Includes themes of suicide and negative thoughts.*

To me, the thought of no longer experiencing mental pain is in some ways quite pleasurable. I guess this is what people feel to some extent when they want to end their life. 

Some days I feel like I don’t want to die, but I also don’t want to live.

Well, most of the time I’m not really living, I’m just existing. Existing in a world of wrongs and rights, but where the wrongs are so overpowering that nothing seems worth it. I’m blanketed in that black fog once again, and no matter how bright my fog lights are, I just can’t seem to see clearly, let alone find the right path for my journey.

A few months back on an ordinary Thursday morning, I was sat in my car, too terrified to move in case I even thought about hurting myself. I sobbed and sobbed endlessly on my steering wheel, just wanting to be out of this situation, out of this mindset. Painfully wanting to be under my duvet at home, where everything seemed rosy. I’d have done so much to extract myself from that state, that place, that circumstance.

Looking back at it now, I kick myself for how silly it was to think like that, but I also feel guilty and ashamed.

Recently, however, I’ve seen these thoughts from a different side. Last month, I lost a friend to suicide. A kind, generous, warm-hearted person who loved fishing and carpentry and seemed to be full of life. I know deep down that he was in a lot of pain, but we helped each other through. The last time I saw him was the night before he died. Surrounded by people and music and cherished loved ones, we hardly spoke, but I felt a sense of acknowledgement in the air between us, like we understood how the other was feeling with words unspoken. I’m using all my conceivable energy right now to try to avoid writing “I just wish” or “what if”, but at the end of the day I am a human being after all, tapping keys on a computer with a hugely complicated brain and normally very negative ways of thinking inside my head. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I didn’t realise he was feeling that low. I didn’t realise, no-one realised, and that’s the problem. 

A few days after he passed, me and my partner got a tattoo of the hand stamp which was the door entry for the gig that last night we saw him. It’s a tiny anchor on our wrists that remind us to keep in contact with those who are struggling, ask them how they are, and take care of them if we can. I feel like I’ve never known anything so important in my life than this piece of information, hence why I got it permanently drawn on my body. A small, constant reminder to just be there. I’ll never know what or who it might help in the future, but just the fact that it might help is enough.

The funeral was the day I finally realised how many people loved and cared for him. The decision to take his life has left a family without a son, a brother, an uncle, a cousin, a nephew, a fiancé. As heartbreaking as this situation is right now, I really believe it will make me a much stronger, good-willed, clearer-thinking individual, and I am determined to let his spirit live out through everything I do.

Sarah x

tattoo-edited