So many of us keep things quiet when we are going through things because it feels as though we will never be able to untangle the thoughts and ideas that rationalise and derationalise our daily lives. I, like many people have secrets. Quiet whispers told to a friend over coffee, drunken bold statements to strangers in bathrooms, breakdowns on pull-up beds with family members. I have held my fair share over the years. But there is a lot people don’t know about me. For this year in particular, it has been a secret that controlled my life in every single way.
All I wanted to do was blurt it out in conversation to anyone I was close to, but I couldn’t. Instead I stayed frozen and silent until the secrets began to have secrets of their own. Suddenly, I was aware that I was now lying to not only everyone around me, but to myself. Things were not fine, only progressively worse, and I was not fine. But still I went to work with a smile on my face and tried my best to make the best out of my life that I had settled for. Because acknowledging the truth was so much harder than making the positive changes to my life, because I no longer believed I deserved more.
And then I changed my mind.
Last year, I began to share those secrets with the people I am close with. I expected relief so I was surprised to notice I still felt the same emptiness as before. Oddly, I took that on as my own problem, that I was not doing enough to fix the issues in my life. So I chose to fight it instead, and I did so with everything I had, but I quickly realised that it wasn’t my battle to fight. Unfairly, I had been put into a position of responsibility to deal with the consequences of something that dictated everything in my life, that I as a person had no control over whatsoever because it wasn’t my secret and with that it was no longer my life either. I had lost the person I was in love with a long time ago, and I had only just noticed, and that was the hardest part.
I felt like a ghost in my own home. At least if I was at work or out with friends I could pretend. Find a part of myself for a few hours. But that was all i had, happiness and then just a real sense of nothing when i walked through the front door. It wasn’t always like this, but it had become so normal that I had no idea what a steady head felt like anymore.
And then within one week everything changed. Events played out like the ending to a drama series and I was hit with blows from every corner. The protective layer I had built up over the years started cracking. People I trusted let me down in ways I am still coming to terms with. My long-term relationship ended and promises to do right were left out in the cold with me, where I had already been for a very long time already.
Like many people suffering with their mental health. I hit a low so bad that I could no longer function. But in spirit of my normal attitude to chaos, I kept trying until i physically and mentally could no longer keep going.
Very quickly and without warning I started having sucicidal thoughts. In truth, It started off a year or so ago. But the thoughts were fleeting, nothing more than a millisecond of madness, so I passed it off as a ‘low moment’. Yet more recently these thoughts crept up on me at times when I thought I felt strong. I could be serving a customer but in my head I had started planning my funeral. I could of been walking home, but inside I was imagining people attending it. I could of been hanging my washing but I was mentally arranging where my cats would live now. I was writing notes in my head of goodbyes to people I loved. I have never been more scared of my own head until then.
I wanted to scream but I could only cry and look at the floor. I couldn’t look people in the eyes anymore, I couldn’t do anything without being reminded every second that I wasn’t enough for people who were supposed to love me, at least that is how I felt at the time.
I stopped sleeping, and then I stopped eating, I lost just over a stone in the space of 2-3 weeks. Partly due to lack of money to buy food and partly due to being unable to eat because I was severly depressed.
And all I could think about was the past. I went over and over all the things I could of done. I went through my faults and tried to pick which one caused the secrets that faced me. I felt stuck and I wanted to end it.
But I changed my mind.
I decided I wanted to tell someone how I was feeling. The only issue was how do you share something like that to the people you love, if all you feel is shame? How do you get past the fear of opening up about something that you cannot even rationalise in tounge?
You do so by saying the words out loud. By making them real, it is then that you start to rationalise what you are saying. Even if its a glimer of confusion, your head is sizzling with the potential to change course.
It was a typical Thursday morning, I was an hour or so into my shift at work, unable to focus, completely and utterly numb and panicky all at once. I was standing with a very good friend of mine when I broke and fell limp in her arms. I lost it, I just lost the ability to keep going. I had already suffered from so much, so many breakdowns, panic attacks, I could no longer function. The hardest part for me was not telling my friends and family that I was suicidal, but admitting to my work in a tiny office that I had to leave right now otherwise I was going to hurt myself. I needed to take action to stop this, so i cried myself all the way up to the doctors and was to seen to immediately.
I was a mess that day, my friend left work early to sit with me, as I took in my new reality. I talked some things through with her but my head hurt. I asked questions about the pills I had been given hours before. They weren’t the answer to my problems, but I knew that I needed any aid I could to get me back into a good mindset. My mother didn’t approve, but she understood that it was my last resort. I needed something to give me hope because my normal coping mechanisms were only making me worse.
My mum was so concerned for me, she pledged to phone me every day for weeks and that is exactly what she did. Everyone did what they could to be there for me and I cannot express how much my heart warms when I think of those who were there for me, that messaged me, that came to see me, that talked to me about nothing, and about how I was feeling. That normalised that it was normal how I was feeling.
I took a few days off work, and then reluctantly went back. As the weeks drew in and the side effects of the anti-depressents started to dissappear, I began to feel a higher level of low. I was still sad and lonely, but the dark thoughts were less so. I became hopeful that maybe I wouldn’t feel consumed by dread forever. And it was then that I started fighting for myself again.
To be able to write this down, means I am getting better. It is important for me to be able to rationalise that I am ill, through no fault of my own, and own up to having these thoughts. I am thinking clear for the first time in so long and it feels wonderful. And I hope someone I know, or even a stranger can read this and relate and understand that you are worthy of your own self.
I am getting stronger and feeling more myself as the days go by. It will get better, just talk about it, ask for help and allow yourself to take it, for we are only human.