*I actually wrote this over a week ago but didn’t have the courage to post it. I read a very similar post written by a fellow fighter and it gave me the push to share my darkest moments.
I don’t really know what to call this post. I’ve dragged myself to the keyboard, following the worst 10 days I’ve had in such a long time. It seems sometimes as if I am on the brink of a breakthrough, when I step on an emotional landmine and pieces of my broken mind scatter themselves through the air.
Depression by AnnDeeF (Deviant Art)
I listened to a radio programme that covered anxiety yesterday. It only really scratched the surface, but listening to it made me realise again that I’m not alone in my struggle to overcome this sometimes debilitating condition. In the programme, the resident GP explained that anxiety is just as physical an illness as diabetes and asthma. I think sometimes we think mental illness is “all in the head” and to an extent it is but it is physically in the brain, it’s not in some invisible space where feelings float around.
And… just like diabetes and asthma, it needs treatment. For some the treatment is mindfulness or talk therapy, for others it’s medication and for most people, including me, it has to be a multi faceted approach. And, like diabetes and asthma, if you don’t inject yourself with insulin or take your inhaler, your condition will worsen and can even become life threatening.
Why am I going into all this? I think maybe to convince myself that this is real. No amount of telling myself to get a grip is going to make it go away! Ellice, you actually have an illness and you need help!
I feel so incredibly fed up with myself. I feel angry that I have to fight so hard just to feel normal. I feel guilty that my kids, husband and extended family have to put up with me and I feel ashamed that I’ve let it get so bad. I wish that there was a magic pill and it didn’t require such a massive amount of work to recover.
I know that’s an awful lot of self pity in one paragraph, but that is honestly how I feel right now and I can’t sit here and pretend I’m okay with it because I’m not. I’m tired! I’m tired of this battle.
I did realise something this week, mainly because a great friend of mine pointed it out. I am high functioning when it comes to my illness and I’ve always thought this was a good thing because I have kids who need looking after, school runs that need to be done etc. etc. etc! However, as my friend suggested, this can be a bad thing sometimes because I leave myself go for so long unchecked. I’m high functioning until it’s so bad, I can’t function at all.
I leave the passengers on my bus to all shout their conflicting and unhelpful opinions at me and shout over each other. The noise is unbearable and leaves me feeling exhausted every day and sometimes unable to sleep at night.
The worst thing of it all is that lately I have felt like I make life all about me and my illness, there is little room in my mind for anything else. It’s so very painful to write that and to read it back, but it’s there.
It’s also painful to acknowledge that I am once again having more bad days than good. How did that happen? I’ll tell you how, neglect and life happening! I no longer use the tools I learned from my therapist, the tools that I know help, but also things happen that knock me off my game. Does that make sense?
This is the scariest post I’ve ever written and I’ve come so close to deleting it and pretending it never happened. I think it would be selfish not to share it though, I can’t just share the progress. If I want to provide insight into what mental illness can be like to live with, I have to keep it real. Even if it comes under one of my biggest fears; not being able to control what people think of me.
Where now then? Well, I’ve taken the very brave step of getting myself on medication. This wasn’t a step I took unprompted, I hasten to add. I knelt in prayer one day last week. It was a desperate, pleading prayer. The only words I could bring myself to say to God were, “help me, please help me”. A few hours later I stumbled across this video and it hit me like a tonne of bricks.
I know this was an answer to my prayer.
Taking antidepressants is something I’ve fought with over the years. I took them for a month when I was first diagnosed a few years ago, and stopped because they were “making me feel numb”. That was a lie I convinced others and myself of because in all honesty I was ashamed to have to take them, I saw it as a weakness.
What’s changed my mind? My GP summed it up perfectly when he said, “it’s got the better of you now”. It really has had to get to this point for me to realise that there is nothing wrong with taking medication, as long as I don’t think that’s all I need to do. I have a long road ahead of me and that is so daunting at the moment. I keep asking the same question over and over again, why does it have to be so damn hard?