Possible triggers: suicide, violence, abuse.
One of the toughest responsibilities of a parent is to realize where their guidance falls short. But for that to be done successfully they need to be willing to be critical of themselves based on the feedback they receive from their children. I remember asking my father why I didn’t start playing the guitar at a younger age – I started playing at 17. His very defensive response was “We told you to do more stuff but you were always negative!”. Well, if a child does not want to do any more fun stuff at the age of 6 or 7 it means that the fun stuff is not fun at all. It is clear to me now, that at the time “doing stuff” meant “succeeding at doing stuff”, otherwise I would be punished. This idea obviously did not develop on its own, it was a result of the expectations from me right from the start. If as a parent you observe such negativity from a child, you are supposed to question yourself where this comes from.
When you observe extreme social anxiety when your child switches schools you are supposed to question where that comes from. And when the children become distant towards you, it’s probably your own fault. Unfortunately, I received a very one-dimensional treatment from my parents, the “be good at school” treatment. Growing up to become an unhappier and unhappier person went completely under the radar and the only thing that needed addressing was whether I was trying hard enough.
At 15 I demonstrated the first signs of avoiding human interaction, mainly because I wasn’t feeling confident about myself. My thoughts became much more negative, I started becoming very critical of society. I developed a tendency to negate everything positive. By the time I started university in 2006 I had turned from a social but shy child to a very withdrawn individual. I did not have a positive outlook on life and I didn’t even like myself – the way I was externally and internally. I felt completely unattractive and even my first kiss in 2008 was a one-time thing. At the same time I felt entirely incompetent in my curricular responsibilities. I did not attend university as I was suffering from anxiety attacks every time I left home. I could not travel for the same reason. Going out with my friends was not motivating anymore. I also started becoming more and more sleepy during the day and more energetic during the night to the point where my biological clock reversed completely. My only escape from reality was playing video games.
From 2006 to 2009 I spent the majority of my time at home. For my parents the primary concern was my poor performance at university though (I missed an entire year by pretending to pass the exams while I didn’t even take them), not the clear unhappiness in my life. I don’t remember more than a couple of conversations in this period about why I felt so bad, why I was so miserable. During that time the typical parent-child arguments at home started turning much more intense and I started showing the first signs of violence. I reached a point that I could not take the insults and verbal abuse anymore and I retaliated in a physical manner. I was stuck in a rut that I couldn’t get a out of in every aspect of life.
The summer of 2009 seemed like a turning point. I still don’t know the reason, but I completely ignored all the misery and loneliness in my life and I became a much more determined person. I was able to go to the university at the time – even for just one course – the only one I physically attended in full. I was doing well, I started having a social life and I was feeling quite normal. I had also become a heavy drinker but that did not last much longer.
Eventually at the start of 2010 I got into my first romantic relationship. Unfortunately, I was willing to accept anything to have that relationship as for me a relationship meant – and still means – going all the way. I tolerated verbal abuse, insults and a relationship that was supposedly open on the one-side as I was “the only one in love”. Up to that point I had almost no interaction with people who would say things just to trigger a reaction from their significant other. I hated it and I remember spending my nights crying alone, but initially I didn’t talk back. To be honest I didn’t talk much at all, I was way too self-conscious. I didn’t want to be abandoned, I idolized the other person way too much and I didn’t want to lose what I had and be alone once again. And then something snapped and from that point on I started returning the abuse with every little opportunity. Within 7 months into the relationship, the verbal and the occasional physical abuse from both side had become a constant. Within a year everything had become toxic, a love-hate relationship that was dragging both people down. I spent the next one year and a half not in-love and fully depressed but I could not put an end to it. The end came in summer 2012, but of course I could not let go, I wanted back in. Luckily that never happened. But my desperation to not be alone had become a constant driving factor for my future along with my lashing out towards everyone every time I felt diminished.
In October 2012 I moved to Geneva for a year and it took me just one day to realize that I didn’t want to be there, that I didn’t have to there that would make me happy. I could not stop feeling sad and alone. Eventually, I started avoiding everyone for six months and followed a home-work-home schedule. That was the first time I remember clearly wanting to put an end to it all. My pledge to myself at the time was that if things didn’t get better by the start of 2013 I would commit suicide on the 18th of January, 2013. I had done my research, everything was arranged in my mind and it was a thought that calmed me down. Things did not get better, but I even try it, thankfully.
In Geneva I embarked on wild spending sprees and made my entry to the online dating world – with a 0% success rate that made me feel even more pitiful. I started being meaner and meaner to the people close to me. My traveling anxiety transformed to something else that at the time I felt would handicap me for life – fear of aviation. Now I know that every time I freak out about getting into an airplane I’m fully depressed.
The summer of 2013 found me in much better mood and optimistic about my return to Greece. That all crashed down to pieces though as there was nothing left of my old life and I returned to my 2006-2009 self. Alone, avoiding the outside world and searching for happiness in the digital world.
In the summer of 2014 I moved out of my parents’ house as things were far too intense. From that point on loneliness was always there and my behavior reached new extremes out of desperation.
I have described the period from 2014 to 2018 in my previous post about psychotherapy and misdiagnosis. During that time summer was the worst part of my year. Comparing my life to what I was watching in the social media from people close to me made me feel that nothing was the way I wanted. Any attempt to make new friends was compromised by my own unbalanced and unpredictable emotional state. I also reached the point of paying for female company twice, something that was entirely against my principles up to that point. While I did this in seek of some kind of acceptance and confirmation it left wrecked and depressed both times. This is one of the things I never discussed with my psychiatrists until 2020. I never talked openly about it as I was way too ashamed of what it meant for me, at least in my eyes. I have now realized that people can be very understanding, even about this stuff and sharing this information has helped me get it out of my system and feel much better about myself.
Relationship-wise my decisions were still driven by my need to have someone in my life and impulsivity. Most of them resulted in the other person being traumatized by my extreme mood swings, my insults and my anger. Even cheating was easier than ending a long-distance relationship in which I was unhappy. The end of some of these relationships found me full of guilt and shame, thinking more and more about suicide as I could not stand the damage I had caused to the other person. At the same time I felt the need to jump on to the next relationship right the next day the relationship came to an end.
Getting a dog in the summer of 2017 definitely helped me overcome depressive periods. In hindsight it probably didn’t help my dog that much though. She had to cope with the same behavior people close to me did and she couldn’t do anything about it. The end of 2017 found me in a relationship that started the right way with a person I met in the real world. However, I was intense once again as we were entirely incompatible. I also made the mistake of stopping my medication after encouragement from the other person – *do not try this at home*. One month later I was alone and abandoned once again and my frantic search for someone started once again. However, it was the first time I was happy that a relationship was over and my social life improved heavily. My love life was a huge mess for a couple of months though and I started losing faith after 8 years of poor choices.
PS: Talking about suicide is hard. And while I think the talk needs to be had and we need to be much more open about it. My best advice towards anyone having these thoughts is to seek expert help. There is no other way around it.