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.
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.
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?
I’ve been deliberating for some time now about making this blog public. It already is in the way that you just need to search my name followed by blog on Google and there I am 🙂 I mean whether to make it more accessible; to link to it from my social media accounts. I would love as many people as possible to read my writing. If it was about beauty products or fashion there would be no questioning. But it isn’t, it’s about my personal life, my own struggles with my mind. I imagine a lot of people would feel that these kinds of things should stay private, locked away and spoken about only in whispers between friends or therapists. I don’t agree. I believe the longer those thoughts go on, the longer the subjects I address in this blog are kept as dirty laundry then the longer the stigma attached with mental health disorders will go on and the more lives will be lost. Quite a lot of people in my life know that I suffer from anxiety and depression. Not that many know the extent to which it has affected my daily life.
Making this blog known to more people; including those people I have known for years, or work with, or have recently befriended is a huge decision. I do worry what people will think of me. I hope they realise that I am the same person even if I have experienced different thoughts to them. I’m not a danger to anyone, I’m not violent, I won’t burst into tears over one harsh comment, I do still laugh, I do still have fun, I don’t want to kill myself, I do want to get better. If the past couple of years has taught me anything it’s that I must try and always see a positive in every circumstance. I feel that if even one person can identify with something I’ve wrote then I’m doing the right thing sharing this with my world. I absolutely love this quote by Glenn Close which is so true to life in 2015; “It is an odd paradox that a society, which can now speak openly and unabashedly about topics that were once unspeakable, still remains largely silent when it comes to mental illness.”
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.
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?