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The days aren’t as dark as they used to be. The misty fog that once covered everything I saw has mostly lifted. As I’m writing this I’ve nearly deleted it all 3 times up to this point. As though I’m going to jinx myself and tomorrow I’ll wake up and have to say “I told you so, you spoke too soon” to that part of my brain which is never still. That part of my brain has slowed down a little though, it’s no longer as constantly frantic, no longer questioning every move, every word, every breath. In fact sometimes I don’t ever think of it at all. Which is great. It’s like when you have an awful break up with someone and your friends tell you that one day you’ll realise you haven’t thought of them for 24 hours and you will smile because you know your life isn’t over. You know you can live without them. I can’t live without my mind. But I am learning to live alongside it. To not be so hard on myself when I am having a shit day. I do still have shit days. And every time I do I have thoughts of spiralling out of control and that this.is.it. That my mind’s been pushed too far this time, it’s exhausted, it’s had enough and it is just going to shut down now. Goodbye. But it doesn’t and I don’t and over time I’ve become pretty proud of that.

I don’t know how you feel or if you’re having a shit day. Maybe you’re reading this and thinking what the hell is she talking about because maybe you’ve never been so inside yourself that you can feel every tiniest sensation and every breath hurts. And no you’re not lucky that hasn’t happened to you. Luck is no part of it. Or maybe you’re reading this and you do understand. It’s about separating a bad day from a bad week, a bad month from a bad year. Maybe you think this is just the way you are now. That you’re going to have to always be someone you never imagined or ever wanted to be. Either that or give up completely. That’s what I thought. And somehow, and I’d love to give you some amazing explanation or solution as to how I did it, but realistically some days it was just breathing until it was over, or putting one foot in front of the other and hoping I didn’t die. Keep going. Even if you feel like you’re going to explode from the frustration and ALL THE FEELINGS.

Eventually, and it may be no quick process, a tiny bit of light comes back into focus, then a tiny bit more, then you go a day when you haven’t nearly burst into tears 10 times, then you laugh at something someone says, but actually laugh, none of that fake shit…..and on and on. It sounds so cliche but be really bloody kind to yourself. Don’t expect too much. It’s the hardest battle you’ll ever win.

~~~

Last night was the first time I’ve uploaded anything to do this blog in 6 months. I have still been writing; just haven’t felt it was anything I wanted to post for the world to see. Either that or I doubted the quality.

 

plath1

After reading Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

I have just finished the incredible Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig. I can’t remember the last time I was actually moved to tears by a book but that did it for me. It wasn’t his descriptions of how brutally awful depression and anxiety can be; although they definitely reminded me of some very dark days. It was the hope that resonated at the end of the book. The reflection of progress made. The list of things he now enjoys which he thought he never would again. I’ve never read a book and had to actually pause and reread the last sentence as many times because it sounds like the words have come straight from my mouth. It’s really hard when you’re in the midst of depression to see that there will ever be an end to it. That was one of the things I found so frustrating. Never knowing when it would end or get better or even if it ever would.

I held on and stayed strong for a few reasons. A major one was the love of my family and friends. I can’t imagine how it must feel for those who don’t have an amazing support system around them. I know how soul destroying depression can feel at times. Days in bed turn into weeks. The mental pain becomes physical. I remember laying on the floor of my apartment screaming into a pillow because I just needed in some way to try and release this demon from within. When I think about that now I can’t believe just how desperate I was to stop feeling broken. There was no point planning things. I wouldn’t enjoy them anyway. I could hardly string a sentence together never mind fake a smile.

Have you ever been so sad you can’t even cry? It feels like your brain has just turned to mush, you can’t do the simplest of tasks, the only minuscule hope is to just lay there and try to sleep. Sleep to forget how it feels to be awake.
But then day by day, week by week, you start doing little things. Tiny things really. You actually have an interest in watching something on TV or you eat your favourite food and can actually taste it.

I can’t really recall the time in between being really ill and starting to feel 5% alive again. I know time past, I did things, and saw people but I struggle to remember how I felt. I guess slowly every day a tiny bit of light seems to come back into your vision. You might find yourself walking through the park in the sun and smiling or thinking of a social event and laughing as you remember something that happened.

When I was at my worst someone telling me to just hold on and that things would improve probably wouldn’t have resonated with me. But it’s true. It’s a really sad fact that you have to get through to the other side of something to see that everything is survivable. You never know if tomorrow might be that day when you start to see the tiniest glimmer of hope. I guess I cried in some ways after finishing the book because I’m so glad I held on. So glad I am still here and I can still appreciate all the beautiful things in life. When you’re depressed life is grey, miserable, blurry; there is no colour or beauty to it. But once you get through that fog colours seem brighter, beautiful scenery seems almost too good to be true, and your favourite songs seem like they were written just for you.
These are a couple of my favourite passages from Reasons to Stay Alive which I really identified with.
 

serene

Wrote on 26/12/15 at 00:43

Last Christmas doesn’t seem real now I look back upon it. It seems like it all passed me by in a blur of fake smiles, false hope and really grey days. It’s hard to believe how different December 25th has been a year on. Grief is a process, that’s what everyone says, and I agree. They  also say there are certain steps you will follow but that’s not what I say.

Grief to me is like any sort of recovery. Whilst grieving the death of my Father I have also been recovering from my own mental health crisis. Somewhere in the back of my mind I always thought (hoped) that both the grief and my personal recovery would reach a point at which I could look back and reflect upon the progress made. But there was also days I couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. Days in which there didn’t seem much point continuing to fight a battle I was never going to win. I don’t want to say I have won. I haven’t. I don’t believe I ever completely will. But I’ve found myself at a point where I feel content.

I hadn’t felt content for years. Just the feeling of being able to relax, being able to actually think about the future without dread, being able to really laugh until you can’t breathe. To even laugh and not  think to myself “you’re a fake, you aren’t really laughing inside”. To smile and actually feel proud of my happiness. Life is far from perfect. I have so many areas I need to work on in the next year but I have determination to do so. I want to be the very best version of myself. I’m sick of feeling I have so much more to give and not being able to do anything about it.

I miss my Dad everyday. I think of him everyday. I expect I always will. But my life didn’t end when his did. For a while it seemed like it had but now I can feel momentum again. I know he is always with me. I don’t know in what presence or whether that even matters. There is something leading me where I’m supposed to go. And it feels good. I know how it feels now to be at my very lowest and I am going to do everything in my power to fight to never be in that place again. I am also going to appreciate the happiness I do have at the present time. All I ever wanted through all of the pain and struggling was to feel I was getting a part of myself back, to recognise I was still there underneath it all. Slowly it seems like I’m coming back to myself. That’s all I could have wished for.

 

01:38

Life goes on; it sounds too simplistic but that’s exactly what it does. The fact is the clock keeps spinning, the world keeps turning, people keep falling in love, people keep falling out of love, day turns into night and the sun sets. Even when you think the world is ending and you can’t go on, you still wake up alive. Maybe not alive and well but alive. As long as you’re still alive everything else can be worked on.

The Bigger Picture.

We have to ask the really huge questions about the hugest of things. About love, life, death and the universe. We have to ask these questions and have these discussions to go below the surface. I don’t want to spend my time on this planet discussing materialistic shit. We’re all guilty of spending too much time talking about the latest fashion trend or which celebrities are sleeping together. Aren’t those items put in place to distract us from the bigger picture? I have always struggled to understand how some people seem to sail through life without questioning anything. Perhaps  it makes their journey easier. How do we come to be born? What is life? How do we know we are alive? What is death? Where do my thoughts, feelings, and soul go when my heart stops beating? What else is out there? Are they looking for us? Are they questioning our existence? Or do they have their own distractions?

Setbacks are temporary.

That’s what you must remember.

This week that’s what I must remember. I returned to work after long term sickness due to my increasing anxiety & low mood. I lasted two shifts until once again I had to admit that, that day in particular, the anxiety was too much and I couldn’t jeopardise my progress by forcing myself to work through it.

Over the last week I have learnt something new. Something I haven’t considered to be true for a long time. People are lovely. At their very best people can astound and amaze you with their kindness and empathy. All around us in the media there are reports of people acting at their very worse; bombings, rapes, murders, but this week I saw love. Love from people I didn’t know even thought of me, love from people that know very little about me, love from people I thought would have forgotten about me long ago.

That love has kept me going during this latest setback. Knowing that I do have people to talk to about even the darkest thoughts means that they don’t need to be trapped inside my own mind. It means I can make them feel a tiny bit smaller by sharing them with someone else. It means that I can treat this illness like it was any other and not feel excluded from society. Sometimes all it takes is a few kind words.

Looking to the future is difficult at the moment. In fact, it’s always difficult for me but more so now. I have to remember I’ve been much lower than this before. I’m going about my daily business the best I possibly can and I’m writing through the storm. Tomorrow is my first detailed counselling session. In the past I have been guilty of feeling sceptical about treatment I have been offered, when you’re stuck inside your own mind it’s hard to feel someone who doesn’t know you will be able to help at all, but this time I’m positive. I have to find what works for me. Everything is worth giving a shot if it can make me feel a tiny bit more like the old me.

Mentally ill. (Extract from Dissertation 2014)

I didn’t expect it would ever be my life. I had visited the doctors about the panic attacks, the low mood and the anger directed at everyone. I thought that would be enough. Then it hit me, like the tram I’d just considering jumping in front of, in my head and in my heart. I could no longer deny these feelings of being unreal, or feelings of wanting to die. It wasn’t going away, it was getting worse and I couldn’t let myself end my life without trying to get some kind of help. I was alone in my apartment and the knife in the kitchen was occupying my every thought. I just wanted the pain to go away. I cried and cried in hope that the tears would wash it all out of me but there was no hope.

Everything was a dark grey, slowly becoming closer and closer to black. I wanted it to be all black, to sleep forever if I could, at peace away from this world I didn’t feel like I was living in anyway. I did the only thing I could apart from allowing the knife to become acquainted with my skin. I rang for help. An ambulance. At this point I didn’t care if they locked me up in a mental hospital, I’d almost convinced myself that was what I needed. I was taken to A&E where I had a psychiatric evaluation from a mental health doctor. I was experiencing a major depressive episode with elements of severe anxiety and disassociation. I was mentally ill and I wouldn’t be allowed to go home and be trusted to be on my own. A crisis team were going to come and visit me every day.

I was mentally ill? Me? I’d told myself I was just going through a rough patch and wouldn’t need professional help. Surely I couldn’t be ‘mental’ or ‘insane’. What if I had to be admitted? Strait jackets, padded cells, violent patients and images from horror movies flashed through my mind. I was terrified. I was thankful I had words to associate with what I was feeling and that I wasn’t the only person to ever experience it but how long would this go on? How could I ever go back to the ‘sane’ girl I used to be?

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