• Member Since 29th Jul, 2012
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This story is a sequel to Serotonin

Sunset Shimmer has a coping mechanism, and Twilight Sparkle wants to talk about it.

This is going to be a disaster.

Thanks to Scampy for being an excellent prereader and source of inspiration.

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 33 )

This is easily one of the best portrayals of the mentality behind self-harm I've ever seen. It really peels it back layer by layer ( <_< ) until we get to the foul truth at its heart. Awful, life-ruining addiction aside, the horrible reality is that sometimes it feels like the only option where she'll still be around to wake up on a hopefully better day.

There's a lot of symmetry in this story, which I love. You did a phenomenal job, and being only your second story I gotta say, the moment-to-moment quality of your writing is some of the best I've ever seen. It's super impressive. Almost like you're really good at it and should write even more :o

Usually "I'm sorry" manages to be one of the most unhelpful, insincere things that people say. Doubly so in the every day, where what's supposed to be a sincere expression of something being wrong is on par with hearing "thoughts and prayers" and about a dozen other platitudes I can think of. I think it's managed to become one of the things I hate hearing the most. Yet, when Twilight said it to Sunset here it managed to be meaningful and caring. As a reader, I could tell how much it meant to Sunset because sometimes there are people who can say that and it'll still be real.

...Wow. I was not expecting that first comment. And honestly it's one of my goals of both Noradrenaline and Serotonin: As disturbing and fundamentally "wrong" as it is, to show that there are genuine reasons behind it. I've seen interviews with people who've said that self-harm has saved their life, and in a horrible way I can understand why.

Interesting you mention symmetry. I guess aside from the occasional reference just to keep the themes consistent even after Twilight arrives, it kinda just fell together naturally. Thank you.

It's funny. Every time I thought of adding in that word, it always felt a bit sour for exactly that reason: All too rarely is it sincere, and even less often does it help. It's nice to hear that even if it didn't come across as being helpful (which honestly was my intention), that it was at least meaningful. Thanks for your comment.

I think that it was a good way of showing Twilight cared, even if she didn't know what to do. Sometimes that helps in itself.

This story hits hard, and that is definitely a compliment. There are so many reasons behind self-harm and some of the hardest ones to acknowledge are the legitimate ones. It’s such a damaging idea: that someone can, and should, just stop.

I think what you did here, both with Sunset’s mental processes and Twilight’s reaction to them, is exceptional. The way Twilight just lost her steam the moment she realised she couldn’t help was really poignant. The flow of their conversation from hopeful to analytical to soul-crushing acceptance really hit the right notes. Good work.

Honestly, "hits hard" is about the highest praise I can think of because that's exactly what I aimed for - thank you. As uncomfortable of a topic as it is, I think the legitimacy of self-harm and other unhealthy coping mechanisms is important to get across (being cynical for a moment, if only to counteract the swathe of media in which self-harm or suicide is used as a cheap way of adding drama).

And I gotta say, your last note absolutely nailed Twilight's realisation here - one of the aspects that I was worried might not come across in among a 6k word fic.

Ooooo gosh this story hurts. The entire thing was smoothly executed right doen that timestamp and aaaaaa! Both Sunset and Twi (and their struggle) felt so real!

(And im sure theres much more that ran thru my head but im bad at comments, so trust it's all really good)

Great work!

That is some decent work. It is unwelcmingly real and not exagurated.

The characters act as i would think they'd act in such a situation. Confused and Carful.

That's actually reassuring. I enjoy stories that are painful to read and revel in making other people feel uncomfortable uh I mean thanks for your comment it's good to hear that the conversation came across as grounded and, as you said, a struggle.

And credit to JackRipper for the great idea of utilising the timestamps of messages to enhance a narrative which I then shamelessly stole was inspired by.

“Intrusive thoughts that tell me I’m worthless. That I’m a failure, that bad things should happen to me because of all the bad things I’ve done in the past, all the bad things I’m going to do in the future. That I need this to… almost validate how awful I feel, because if I’m doing this to myself then obviously it’s for a reason, right? Intrusive thoughts telling me that… that I deserve it.”

So, basically guilt?

Blinks, too slowly to be autonomous.

What does that mean?

The same advice that I threw away the moment her back was turned.

Honestly, I wouldn’t even try and help her anymore if I was twilight.


So, basically guilt?

More than guilt, but self-criticism and self-loathing to the point of depression and anxiety.

What does that mean?

It's just a reference to Twilight's body language showing that she's uncertain.

Honestly, I wouldn’t even try and help her anymore if I was twilight.

And it's that kind of stigma, that kind of betrayal of trust, that can quickly send someone into a depressive spiral that they can't get out of.


Honestly, I wouldn’t even try and help her anymore if I was twilight.

That attitude right there is exactly why people grappling with mental illness have so much difficulty getting the help they need even when they actively seek it out—let alone when that illness is making it hard for them even to look for it. Congratulations, you are one of the people contributing to the problem. And yeah, I’m speaking from personal experience with the challenges involved.

How is that a betrayal of trust, if you do everything you can and it doesn’t work, what else is there to do?

First of all calm down. Second of all what else is there to do?

You can be there. You can support. You can help rather than demand. One of the messages I try to get across in these stories is that problems like these don't get fixed by a single conversation.

If someone's broken their leg, you don't throw them out of the wheelchair after two days. If someone's struggling with addiction, you don't give up the moment they relapse. And if someone's struggling through their inner demons, you don't invite them to confide in you, then abandon them at their most vulnerable.

But what I’m trying to say is that sunset doesn’t seem to want to stop. And twilight did everything she could.

First of all, no. Not when this dismissive attitude is a significant contributor to the world’s woes, and when the response to being called on it is to double down on the dismissiveness.

Second of all, just about anything but abandoning someone the moment telling them “hey, be happy” for some reason just doesn’t seem to work. Being supportive takes a wide variety of forms, most of them actually, well, difficult. TamiyaGuy’s list barely scratches the surface, but it’s a place to start. Another good place to start, in my opinion, is doing some research so one is acting from a position of knowledge, even a little, rather than a position of ignorance.

I’ve said my piece, and I won’t continue with this. Either the lesson will be accepted, or it will be stonewalled, and in either case further pursuit is pointless. Further deponent sayeth not.

Whatever you say.

Thank you for writing this story (and Serotonin). It hurts, and it connects.

Thanks for your comment. In a way, I kinda hate that it connects with people, I just hope it does respect to the topic of depression & self-harm.

The analogy of a broken leg is a useful one. Most people are at least aware of bone breaks, and the method of splinting them in emergencies. Effective long-term treatment of a broken leg, however -- correctly identifying the nature and scope of the problem, setting and imobilizing (e.g. cast over) the break, following up on the healing process, and rehabilitation once the limb can be used normally -- is in the purview and patience of very few trained individuals and caregivers. In all this there are direct parallels to mental health, with the difficulty compounded by being unable to, for example, x-ray a broken psyche.

Pete100, you have a valid perspective: that helping -- truly helping in a direct manner -- someone with depression or such is both very difficult and exhausting, and cannot be expected from most. Even Twilight is not that in this story; she is a friend, who is every bit as crucial as the professional help Sunset needs (and yet has thus far rejected!). However, refusing to be a friend because of a person's difficulty can be argued to be akin to refusing to associate with a "cripple" with their cast and crutches.

TamiyaGuy, thank you for writing this. Keep up the superb effort.

I think I get what your saying. Because she’s a friend she can’t give up no matter what? Also, how is that the same thing as refusing to associate with a cripple?

Twilight is a friend who chooses to remain as a friend. She could 'give up' on her friendship with Sunset, but she does not because that is her wish. Furthermore, she is aware that it is not her responsibility (or even within her capacity) to 'fix' Sunset, no matter how much she might wish to.

I did not say 'the same thing', I said 'can be argued to be akin to'; the comparison is imperfect, but not without purpose. Say you have a friend who broke their leg and is in a cast. You can't go on walks with them, for example. You can't heal their leg for them; you didn't put the cast on them or write the scrip for the crutches. You can't (within reason) stop them from putting weight on the cast leg if they so choose. It's inconvenient and difficult to interact with this friend in their temporary situation.

Similarly, interacting with a friend with a mental illness can be hard, even when not having a first sit-down as Twilight does in this story. Twilight cannot stop Sunset's cutting, nor the thoughts that drive it.

I, for example, struggle with social anxiety; just as going on a walk in a cast, being pulled into a gathering at a bar with my mind would not go well. (...ahh, 'normal' times with open bars and the like.)

The situation with Twlight and Sunset is much more subtle and frightening, so the comparison breaks down somewhat... as they interact moving on, Twilight will likely be hyper-aware of what Sunset hears and says, worrying that something she (Twilight) said or did tripped that horrible wire in Sunset's mind -- comparable, perhaps, to accidentally tripping over your friend's cast leg.

Coming back to the point: it is not Twilight's (nor your!) responsibility to heal a mentall-ill friend any more than to heal a broken leg. (If you are a physician, um... Oops? Imagine you are a non-physician for a moment.) That being the case, both physically- and mentally-ill people want and need people -- friends -- available to them.

And being such a friend can be difficult, for both sides.

Wow, you must have studied Psychology, because I think I understand what your saying.

Also, if twilight gave up on her friendship with sunset, not gonna lie I would be pissed. Because I’m not saying she should give up on her friendship at all if that’s what people are thinking.

Plus that bit about the bar was a little funny.

Wow, thank you so much for your comments, they said everything I could possibly hoped to have gotten across and more, and the way you took the analogy of a broken bone and ran with it in a way that's both descriptive and empathetic is absolutely fantastic. I genuinely enjoyed it as both a brilliant read and an interesting perspective on mental health and how it can affect both the person suffering and those who are supporting them.

And, of course, you make a very valid point in your first comment, about how rejecting professional help leaves a gap that often cannot be filled by a well-meaning friend, even though said friend is needed as a source of support. Personally, I deliberately didn't allude to Sunset either going through therapy or outright rejecting it (I felt that was a different story for a different time, plus I haven't had the best or indeed much experience with counselling myself), but the point stands on its own.

You know what, I want to apologise for being overly harsh in my reply to your first comment. To explain, mental health issues are so, so often misunderstood and unfairly judged - phrases like "just be happy" and "all you have to do is stop" are often said by people who simply don't care about these issues, but want to convince themselves that they're knowledgeable. From your first comment, I initially thought that you were one of those people. This is also why I didn't explain my answers in detail - lots of people simply don't want to listen to an uncomfortable truth that goes against their own opinions.

But the fact that you are willing to listen to an explanation and at least try to understand a different perspective is really good to see, and is quite a rare thing to find on the Internet. Genuinely, thank you.

I guess to combine both of your comments, in Noradrenaline I ultimately tried to write about how depression and self-harm are incredibly complicated topics, both to the person suffering from them and to anyone who tries to help. They're sensitive and difficult to discuss, they're very unique to each individual person, and deep-seated anxieties, traumas or psychological flaws cannot be "fixed" with a simple conversation (which, of course, makes them even more difficult to discuss since the person trying to help can feel like they're failing).

On top of this, I've seen so many stories, both in fanfiction and more mainstream media, that show a real disrespect to self-harm and suicide. Either considering it as a simple problem to be "solved" or, at worst, using it as a shallow attempt to add drama to a scene and spitting in the face of anyone who's experienced it.

I suppose that all I hoped to do was write about how complex and difficult self-harm can be to talk about, and hopefully get across that as uncomfortable as it might be, although other people might not understand, people do these things for a reason. It doesn't make it easy to talk about and it definitely doesn't make it okay, but it's the truth.

Oh, and I wanted to shamelessly project my weird-ass brain problems onto fictional characters. That too :).


you know what, I want to apologize for being overly harsh in my reply to your first comment.

It’s ok

From your first comment, I initially thought that you were one of those people.

I can understand the misunderstanding.

But the fact that you are willing to listen to an explanation and at least try to understand a different perspective is really good to see, and is quite a rare thing to find on the internet. Generally, thank you.

You are welcome, and thanks for the compliment. I myself have a therapist and we would sometimes spend our time analyzing and talking about the stories I read.

As for getting your message across, I’d say you did good of a job.

I wasn't expecting this story to be first-person perspective, given that Serotonin was third-person. The change was a good choice though, IMO. Really helped the reader get inside Sunset's head even more.

The evening that Twilight found out about my unfortunate habit, that the dynamic of our friendship became forever tainted as being between “the good one” and “the broken one”.

While I've never gone through what Sunset's gone through, I've gone through enough to know how this feels. I felt the fire coming off this line. Damn. Brilliant.

As Ice Star said in his comments, a lot of times, "I'm sorry" sounds insincere or forced. In a lot of contexts, it's basically a reflexive statement. However, the times it was used in this story (three, I believe) were all very effective. Both Sunny and Sci-Twi are trying their hardest, in their own ways, to both cope with the world and with each other, and the apologies are for the gaps in between.

The conversation here was almost like a tug of war... in a good way. Sunset trying not to be angry or upset, Sci-Twi trying to understand and offer more then cliches, and both of them conceding their positions at various points. Another honest look at the subject and the reality of it, rather than something that tries to simplify it one way or the other. Dark, but evocative, and real.

Have another fave, and a follow!

Hah! Honestly? I wasn't expecting this to be first-person either, it just sort of came together if it wasn't obvious enough that I was shamelessly projecting last time.

That dynamic between "helper" and "helped" is really interesting IMO. It almost presents this game of two otherwise similar people considering each other equals, yet somehow, subtly, not.

Both Sunny and Sci-Twi are trying their hardest, in their own ways, to both cope with the world and with each other, and the apologies are for the gaps in between.

That hits hard, actually. Brilliantly put.

"Tug of war" is a really interesting take on it, and I see what you mean - there's no shortage of conflict here, even though they each want to concede, to a point. Personally, I think it akin to a shared journey towards the other's point of view. Twilight starting out with the goal of getting Sunset to stop, but slowly coming to understand her state of mind and the fact that "just stopping" is almost a non-option. Conversely, Sunset's initial position of having far too much experience of that mindset, and having to ease her friend into it simply because Twilight has only just been introduced to this horrible little inner world that she's known for ages.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts, it's perspectives like these that make the effort totally worth it.

You know, this story puts to a light an interesting train of thought, that in so much as self harm is an addiction or a justification, or a 'cry for help'...you make clear, unintentionally or not, that there can also be a portion of spirituality to it. the very precise and ritualistic manner of action, used as an appeasement to an unseen entity for wrongs one has believed they have committed.

Sunsets actions feel almost like a blood letting for a sickened soul, and it doesn't in anyway justify the action, but I think it adds weight to the reluctance to stop...don't know if you've ever tried telling a devout to stop going to their place of worship, but I can tell ya...it will likely end up ending unfavorably for you, lol.

Anyway, amazing story, great insights, wonderous angst, and I can not wait to read more from you!

The sometimes ritualistic nature of self-harm is a great point to make, and ties back to the sense of control that harming can give someone. It extends to the method of self-harm as well - it's not uncommon for people to use a particular tool, or prepare in a certain way. Indeed, it's one of the techniques sometimes given to help someone stop self-harming: To go through "the ritual" right up until the point of injury.

And you're right - penance and the feeling of failure are massive contributors to self-harming tendencies. Personally, I might not quite go so far as to compare it to religion, since that can skirt dangerously close to romanticising the behaviour which isn't my intention, but you still raise a good point.

Thanks very much for reading, and for your thoughtful comment!

I just want to give version of Sunset a hug.

God, I have no words this time because I was worried feeling and, and-- aauuggghh You'll see my live reaction on the chat sagfdsgad Im trying to think of something more serious and sensitive to say, to stay with the tune of the story, but all I do is let out a shaky breath.
Goddamit, pal, u writes really well

I mean honestly, the fact that you're struggling for things to say makes me all the more happy to hear it! Hell, this was back when I barely even knew who Sunset Shimmer was, so for her interactions with Twi to feel alright (well, I hope they came across as alright at least) is a shot of validation if ever there was one. Seriously, thank you so much for the kind words.

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