Survivor’s Guilt

Daniel Mclaughlan
Aug 6 · 3 min read
Photo by herprettybravesoul on Unsplash

I thought that I would be feeling strong waves of emotion by now. You don’t go through something like I did and not feel affected, right? I wrote about attempting to take my own life in my last post. Yet I feel ‘okay’. I feel flat, sure, even a bit low and weepy most of the time, but I don’t feel like I’m sinking into despair. Nor do I feel euphoric. I’m still relieved to be here but I’m not exactly swelling with joy.

I don’t think I’m showing the signs of poor mental health like people would expect. I’m still functioning. I’m getting up in the morning and washing and dressing myself. I’m eating well and my sleeping is returning to normal. In the past week I’ve spent most of my time on Twitter, helping others and calling out all the shitty goings on in the world (Privileged male ‘gamers’, you suck)

I’m going to work (my choice), sharing my knowledge, and laughing over cups of coffee and cookies. I’m watching movies, reading and spending time with my lovely wife.

I know that outwardly it appears as if nothing at all has happened and I feel guilty about that. I feel like I owe it to the people who know what happened to show my pain. I must be in pain, I know that, but i’m not intentionally trying to mask anything. I’m just here.

I still don’t understand myself why I did what I did. It felt like the right thing to do at the time and in some ways it felt almost inevitable, but now I don’t recognise that person. I worry that I’m not ill enough. I can’t be as how can I be acting like I am? I’m trying to be delicate with the people around me but I don’t feel like I’m putting a brave face on it or trying to hide anything.

I know from past experience with the mental health services that if I don’t score highly enough I won’t qualify for therapy. I could easily see that happening again and that scares me because I feel I owe it to everyone to get help. If I get written off as ‘fine’ then where does that leave everyone who has had their world rocked by this whole incident?

I owe it to myself too. There are things I want to do – I want to finish my degree, I want to grow my career, I want to travel – but I don’t feel like I can do any of those things. I know that’s my own insecurities talking. I don’t want to say my mental illness because, again, do I really have an illness? I’m reading Beth McColl’s How To Come Alive Again. I found the opening sentence rather timely:

“You don’t have to be at rock bottom, barely alive and right on the edge of everything to deserve help and healing. You don’t have to prove to anyone that your illness or your stress or your unhappiness is real.”

I don’t want a diagnosis. It would help in as much as I’d have something to point at and say: look, that’s the reason I did this. But I don’t feel like that rings true. I don’t feel worthy of identifying with the struggles so many people are going through. I don’t feel ‘sick enough’ and I know how crazy that sounds.

I’m seeing a therapist next week. I can get six sessions through my insurance before I need to sort out something else. I don’t expect him to have all the answers, but I’m hoping that somewhere in this jelly of a brain I already have them.

I’m at least trying to tell myself I’m working on it.

Nature lover. Vegan. Mutant and proud. He/Him. Accessibility and Usability Consultant, studying MSc Human-Computer Interaction.

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