My history of pain


My history of pain


your avatar   starr faithfull (26 year-old woman)

Hi. This is very hard for me to say, but I need your help. I'm suicidal. As a first step I submitted part of my story to Fine Kettle of Fish, not because I wanted anyone to reply, but because I wanted to see it written. I felt the fear of judgment more than the need to cry for help, but I know I have to reverse this.

I have had visions of my death since the 4th grade. Back then I fantasized I was suffering from an illness which kept me in a coma, and what I experienced was not real life, and that one day I'd die and be relieved. As I grew older my death fantasies "matured" from being about natural death beyond my control to being about suicide. The only reason I haven't done anything is I have no guts to do it. I'm not like that all the time. It lasts 1-2 months at a time, with "normal" intervals that lasts up to 6 months. In these intervals I range from content to insanely happy and loving life. But as time passes the intervals become shorter and the depression periods harder.

I tried to see if there's a pattern to what triggers it but I see none. I've never been abused; I've never had a traumatic experience. This only makes me feel guilty about my own suffering. I tell myself "how dare you be like that, that's the 'privilege' of people who have suffered". Nobody knows about this. In my group of friends I'm (ironically) the life of the party. Everyone always comes to me for advice and what I tell them always helps. I'm so attuned to what's going on around me, I know how people will feel before they feel it, I know how they'll act before they do anything. I've always known. This doesn't help; it's like a big weight that makes it hard to breath. The more I'm aware of human interaction around me the more empty, sad and lonely I feel.

At 16 I started fighting the depression through sex. Till I was 24 I had about 40 partners. I was a sucker for whoever said "You're pretty" or "I want you". My first was someone I didn't even like. I just wanted to see how it would feel like, like trying on a dress. I don't have any bad feelings for any of these people, I don't hold it against anyone, only myself. It was my doing nobody forced me. For about 2 years I abused cocaine too. It's funny when I realized how harmful it was I stopped cold turkey without professional help. Some people who knew called it "strength". Whatever. I don't want to be strong and I don't want to take care of people anymore.

Three years ago I stopped having sex completely. It's not that I don't want it - I do, but now I'm afraid to be in a relationship. I don't want people to want me because I turn them on, but they've never wanted me for anything else and I don't know how else to attract them. I want to be in a relationship. I want to be a mom. Career was never a problem for me I'm quite successful. But I'm so afraid to be alone. I don't know if those sexuality issues have anything to do with my depression, since it started much earlier in life.

In terms of lonely, there is one final clue in my background that I feel has been a catalyst. In my "wild" period I was away from home. I was in University in NYC. I live in a small country in the Mediterranean. In NYC I was able to make real friends for the first time because I was away from the restraining, closed, traditional society and I could be myself. But of course I had to return at some point and now my friends are scattered throughout the USA. True friendship transcends distance or time, but it's so hard... Still, I was lucky enough to be reunited with a close friend here, whom I adore, she's my best friend and we can relate. Ironically enough, she's leaving for her post-graduate studies in NYC. I can't tell her "please don't leave, because I'm suicidal". It's her dream to go and I'm proud for her success. But I don't know how I'll last through the next 2 years, let alone going through life in general. I just can't see it. I'm tired of oversleeping or being insomniac, of crying myself to sleep, of being tired all the time. At night when I want to scream it helps to bite my lip till blood comes out and to scratch my arms and legs. I fantasize about using knives, and the only reason I don't do it is I wouldn't be able to hide it. I live with my parents (it's the norm here, not like in the US). I want to find the strength to kill myself. I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I guess I have to be honest with you: I wish I was abused or something because then I'd have something to blame my suffering on.

Here are my questions: Why have I always felt like this? Why at such an early age? Is there a name for it? What do I do when I feel so bad? I have no money to go to a psychiatrist and forget about free counseling where I live. How can I find the strength to be with a man again? Forgive me if this is too lengthy, and I thank you in advance from the bottom of my heart.


    Thomas H. Schear,

On the face of it what you are describing is bipolar disorder. But this is not place to diagnose anything like that. I would urge you to see your physician for a thorough exam. You may have a physical health problem that is being masked by what appears to be mood swings. While you have become rather adept at compensating for your behavior and have learned some ways to manage it, you are not getting what you want out of life, you are not living up to your potential so long as you have this weight to carry around.

When you see your physician be straight with her. Tell her about your symptoms, get tests, and while seeing a psychiatrist may not be necessary, being on medication may be. The medication will depend on the diagnosis. Any medication you may have prescribed you need to take as prescribed and be alert to the warnings about taking other drugs (legal or illegal) and/or alcohol with it.

With any medication you will need to pursue counseling. Not necessarily any long term, analytical form of counseling. Rather, shop around and find a cognitive-behavioral therapist. I know you are concerned about cost, but how much as the disruption and depression cost you so far in your life. If left untreated you will find that this will only cost you more as time goes by. Additionally, it may get to the point that you may not have the resources to pay for help later if your condition worsens or gets out of control.

I suspect that some of these are not the answers you were looking for but you need to do the homework in your local area to find the resources to get better. Perhaps a local university has a counseling program that is looking for clients for their counselor wannabes. Perhaps there is a medical school that can see you at a reduced cost. But look for help. Having taken responsibility for this part of your life you will be in a better position to pursue a close, intimate relationship with your eyes open and your emotions on a more even keel.

Thomas H Schear

This question was answered by Thomas H Schear. Dr. Schear has over 20 years experience as a front line counselor, clinical supervisor, program director and college instructor. Currently he provides online and telephone counseling service as well as home-study and online course for the helping professional from his website.For more information visit:


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