Gnawing at the leash – by Keir Liddle
Running away from the past is a foolish endeavour when you’re tied to your history like a black dog tied to a fence post.
You circle the same ground over and over again. Snapping at the future but never escaping the length of the leash. Condemned to run over the same events, feelings and problems time and again. Holding you back, dragging you under and keeping the future just out of reach.
You think you should be able to just pull against the leash and snap it. That then you could run free. But no matter how hard you pull it snaps you back. Like a choke chain it robs you of the oxygen of hope.
So what do you do?
If you’re like me you take some analgesics that make you forget the leash sores around your neck. You start to smoke, start to drink. You do these to excess. They mask the pain temporarily and make you think the leash doesn’t exist. But it snaps you back ever more violently than before and it hurts even more.
So you try prescription drugs and medical intervention and miraculously the leash seems to vanish. But slowly as your body grows accustomed to their ministrations you realise that the leash hasn’t disappeared it’s just got that little bit longer.
It will snap back if you don’t do something with the slack you’ve been awarded.
So what do you do?
Me I’m trying a mix of self administered CBT and counselling now. I’m starting to take more physical exercise by running to address my body and confidence issues. It helps that I am addicted, in a sense, to endorphins. But that’s also been a curse in a way as it has encouraged and enabled my self harm over the years. Self harm that is most pernicious because my body means little to me. A collection of scars are not the horror to me that they seem to be to others. More worryingly fresh and healing scars look to me somewhat beautiful in their own twisted way. But I digress. Running may be more effort than taking a knife or a razor to my arm to superficially scar it but it’s certainly more socially acceptable and probably more healthy in the long run.
The CBT is an odd one. It’s self directed so depends upon my motivation to follow it thorough. I won’t lie it’s essentially beneficent brain washing. It’s very difficult for me to brain wash myself.
I don’t do it when I feel up, as what’s the point? I don’t need it then and exploring these issues, emotions and thought might only result in extinguishing the small light of hypo mania by making the leash tug harder and choking me with sadness.
But I can’t do it when I’m down. Because… Well shit… Because I can’t do anything when I’m down. The malignant sadness holds me down and smoothers me. It’s too much effort to fight to stay alive and just “exist” to be able to critically examine my thought spirals and get them under control.
But I persevere. As despite the rather negative paragraphs above it does help. It’s loosening off the grip of the leash, it’s an analgesic for the sores and scars and slowly but surely I can feel it loosen around my neck bit by bit.
It isn’t a magic bullet. But hell, neither are the drugs.
The most recent endeavour is counselling and after just one session it has me starting to gnaw at the leash. It’s hard going and it’s painful to remember and vocalise the events that have moulded and shaped me into the depressed mess you see before you.
But it seems to help and it carries the promise that with hard work and honesty I can either gnaw through that leash or pull that fence post from the ground and run free.