Some nights I wake up in cold sweats, my pillow soaked and my skin clammy. If I’m laying on my back there’ll be a small pool of sweat in the center of my chest. I’ve tried everything – medicated antiperspirants, sleeping with a fan on and the windows open, sleeping without a duvet. None of it works. I just wish I could leave this body and be done with it, no more flipping over the pillow half way through the night because the side I’m using is damp. No more showers in the middle of the night to wash away the sweat. But unfortunately that’s not likely to happen any time soon.
Sometimes it’s good to worry about things; it can help us come to terms with potential future events, plan for eventualities, find motivation, discover a way to avoid negative events or even consider different perspectives.
Sometimes it’s bad for us to worry; we sit paralysed by fear that we won’t be able to do what we want, we break down in tears because we can’t take the thought of what could be around the corner, we remain silent when there are things that need to be said because we are scared of what might come of them.
Worrying is neither an inherently good nor bad thing, it’s what we worry about that makes the difference. Someone close to me has recently been worrying a lot about something she cannot change the result of; this is the bad kind of worrying, she has no control and no way to reduce the perceived need to worry. She has panic attacks when she has to get out of her car because of it and can’t sleep at night because her mind is screaming at her in fear. This is not a healthy process, all it can achieve is suffering and fear. Once you realise that it becomes much easier to deal with issues in other ways or just stop worrying about them once you’ve reached a point where you can gain nothing from doing so.
I’ve spoken to her about this and my thoughts on the matter seem to have helped a lot, rather than just worrying she’s decided to get professional advice on how to deal with the thing she has been worried about. This is where worry becomes healthy, when it leads to taking steps towards fixing things or contingency plans.
I remember a time when I used to be full of passion, always motivated. A burning force that drove me to do everything I ever wanted or needed to do. A passion so strong that it felt like if I wasn’t working towards something I was choking, strangled by my own zeal.
But that’s the thing about choking, eventually you will inevitably stop fighting and embrace it. Even just for a short time, and when you’re choking you lose the strength to go back to breathing. The vehemence and desire to be something more was the first thing to die, without oxygen the fires of passion stopped burning and began to smoulder. No longer could it drive me forwards.
When you’re choking someone your muscles eventually fatigue and lose the power that let you grip their throat. Your hold on them wanes until you no longer put any pressure on them. Your hand just stays there; a distant reminder of what you once could do, and then it falls away. Never again to reach up and grab them.
That’s what happened to my passion. I let it burn too strong for too long until one day it had consumed me, leaving nothing but ash. Now when I think of things I want or need to do I don’t feel anything driving me to do them, I just leave them be out of habit. The fuel is there but the spark of life has gone, like a car with a full tank of gas but a dead battery and a faulty alternator. Sure, you can jump start it for a short burst of motion but that doesn’t fix the underlying issue. Nothing to keep that battery charged, no power to keep that spark alive. Completely useless without someone that has some energy to spare, and even then the moment it stops I’m back to square one but with a bit less fuel than before.
Ever feel like giving up?
Of course you do. Everyone does. But for the most part, you don’t do it; you resist the urge to give up and you take control of your inhibitions before you make a decision you know you’ll regret. That’s part of what being human is, you survive by planning for the future and focusing on achieving those plans.
But what if you don’t want to survive? What if you don’t want a future on this planet? Well, that’s when things get a little different.
When you don’t plan on surviving your decision as to whether you should give up on something is already made. You make all future decisions of that kind when you decide to give up on living. “I feel like giving up” becomes “I gave up”. “I’m going to persevere” becomes “what’s the point in trying?”. This goes on until everything you once cared about has failed or been abandoned. Not because you couldn’t do it, but because you didnt see the point. When you’ve failed or abandoned everything you wanted you don’t have anything to live for and at that point the things that had kept you going, that had kept you alive, are no longer worth the pain of existing.
That’s when you stop living for yourself and start living for others. For years I’ve been living because of the pain it would cause others if I were to kill myself, but when that’s the only reason you’re alive you are living on borrowed time. It can’t keep you going forever. At some point your moral conviction of not putting others through that pain will fail.
For me that failure happened three weeks ago, at this point I’m running damage control – finding a way to minimise the negative effects others will experience. So far I have been unsuccessful, in fact I may have worsened it.
So now one last question remains.
Do I give up?