Summer never looked so dark.

There’s a weird sort of restlessness that accompanies despair. It’s always at my lowest that I feel I have the most energy, and I refer to those times as my dangerous moods because complete, inconsolable misery in conjunction with a sudden burst of energy lands me in a very dangerous frame of mind where just about anything is possible.

I have spent the past few weeks drifting in and out of despair. Little Miss Relapse is still in full force and I’m genuinely worried this time. I have surrendered the keys to my mechanical steed, I have not been offended when my mum locks the car doors when I’m inside, and I have an appointment with my doctor next week.

 

Really struggling at the moment.

Not broken, just bent.

I am little miss relapse. I am a flurry of bad decisions and strange dreams and unfriendly internal organs. I took a full time job, just for a month, and tomorrow I have to ask if I can leave early because it is making me ill to the extent that I am once more not allowed to operate machinery.

I feel naff. I feel sad. I feel heavy. When the courage arises I shall call my doctor and ask for more help, but that is for some reason proving a pretty difficult thing to do.

Any words/.gifs of encouragement would be greatly appreciated at the moment!

Nothing quite like the countryside…

I live in the middle of nowhere. There is a lot of wildlife of various types, most of which are lovely and fluffy and keep themselves to themselves, but then there are the ones that brutally murder things in the middle of the night right outside the window and inflict sleep deprivation on people who can barely function on a good day.

I have an enormous dislike for foxes – more specifically the noise they make – so when they decide to teach their young how to scream and torture things in close proximity to my bed, I don’t tend to get much sleep. It has been a few days screeching lessons now and my brain is exhausted. Night time is supposed to be my recovery time when I am not busy being a bundle of adrenaline, but the foxes have taken away my place of refuge and as a result I have spent a significant amount of the past few days shaking, crying and asking people to repeat what they just said several times with a glazed look in my eye.

I need some sleep now, please. I was in a dangerous mood riding home from work today and I do not wish to make a habit of that. I quite fancy surviving the week.

Something in the air.

I have an enormous dislike for the month of January. I can feel the germs in the air circling their prey (me) and can seem them crawling about on anything I try to eat, and therefore I spend pretty much the entire month unreservedly suspicious of everything I encounter. The two redeeming qualities about January this year are that I do not have to go and sit in a room full of coughing people for any length of time, and that the media have been oddly quiet about any winter illnesses going around.

I am very much an outsider at the moment, skirting around the edges of life without delving too deep so I can avoid interacting with people unless absolutely necessary, and therefore minimising my contact with whatever undesirable microorganisms someone might be harbouring. I don’t like entering buildings, that kind of goes without saying, but even outdoors there are places I either won’t go or that I will run past whilst holding my breath because I saw something suspicious once upon a time. Like a drain that overflowed once somewhere along a dog walking route, or an open bus shelter with a stain on the floor I can’t explain convincingly. This interference makes life in winter a bit complicated and a bit frustrating – not least for my poor boyfriend who I have hardly gone near for four days without sterilising myself afterwards – but that is the nature of the beast that is OCD.

But regardless of the fact I am refusing to touch people or eat things or leave the house or whatever else, I am still here, I have not ran away, and I am somehow staying reasonably calm, especially in relation to this time last year. Maybe the medication is working?

Aaand some things I’m grateful for today:
1. The sun came out to hopefully dry up some of the floods
2. Chocolate cake (yep, somehow still some left!)
3. Lovely messages from people far, far away

Selective honesty.

Honesty should be used wherever possible, but knowing where to withhold information is a skill that takes a while to master. People are pretty much all worriers, and worrying is not an enjoyable pass-time, so we often try to spare others worry by omitting details. We tell slightly different stories to different people. We avoid certain questions, and we change subjects. We don’t give the entire truth, and we don’t expect it from others. You’d probably be a bit annoyed if you asked someone what they had been up to that day and they started reeling off everything from waking up to the shower being a bit too hot to what they ate for breakfast. 

I withhold too much. I don’t often lie (mainly because I am completely terrible at it) but I do manipulate the truth and alter the bits people hear. I’m not ashamed of my brain, but I don’t shout about it. There are about 4 people out in the real world I talk to about my brain, and all but one are aware of this blog – the fourth is not as I am trying to spare them worry – and I like that. They get to know what’s up and they don’t have to keep asking how I am doing. I like it this way because I do not like to talk about brain things in person; once I start I don’t stop and it normally ends in tears, so I prefer not to start.

My carefully-worded honesty about how I am today is something along the lines of feeling like I’ve been on a boat for a few days. Longer version is that I feel cold, weak, fuzzy and unsteady, there’s a lot of nausea going on, and some other things I’m not going into with the whole world. The night was comprised of deep sleep and being wide awake in about equal proportions, and I haven’t been able to face food more than a bit of toast since about 2pm yesterday. Introduction of medication has beaten up my insides a bit and is currently holding me hostage, but it could have been a lot worse so I’m okay with that for now.

We are moving house tomorrow, I started these at a pretty bad time as now I am feeling a bit useless and am more a hindrance to the packing/organising movement. Not that I’d be any better without the pills as there’s quite a strong chance I’d be horizontal on the sofa staring into the white abyss of the ceiling with eyes glazed over, but being aware that I’m being a useless lump is I think somehow even less desirable.

Oh well, it’s bad timing but it’s all hopefully going to be worth it. It’s not like there’s a shortage of house-moves in my life, this is about to be the ninth in four years, so I will be able to make it up soon enough. 

And because I’ve neglected it for a few days, some happy things:
1. The ever-exciting tales of my grandma’s everyday life
2. Being on a hill!
3. Enormous fluffy blankets

Just.

I would like to start an imaginary petition to eradicate the word “just” from general vocabulary. This word is a major fuel of the stigma associated with mental health; by starting a sentence with “just”, you are telling someone that what you are asking them to do is the easiest thing in the world – you are telling them that they should be able to do it without a thought, and you are telling them that their illness isn’t a valid excuse. If a friend of yours had a broken leg and they were having trouble getting out of bed in the morning, you would give them all the time they needed and you would ask if there was anything you could do to help. You would not tell them to “just get up” or “just ignore the broken leg”, because you would be aware that it simply doesn’t work that way.

If however your friend was experiencing a prolonged bout of severe depression and was having trouble getting out of bed in the morning, you would probably be tempted to immediately resort to “just get out of bed”. You would probably be aware – at least on some level – that this is a pointless and completely unhelpful statement, yet that would be your first port of call before asking if there were anything you could do to making getting out of bed easier for them.

This doesn’t only apply to the friends and families of people with mental health complications though, “just” is a word very common to my own vocabulary and it interferes in all sorts of places it shouldn’t be. The word “just” belittles the challenges that I face every day, and this is very well illustrated in this post, and judging by the number of notes this has received in a day would suggest that I’m not the only one. The restrictions imposed upon us by mental health are just as real and just as frustrating as those that result from having a broken leg: you are unable to do things that people all around you are doing; your ability to carry out mundane household tasks like feeding yourself and showering is impaired; your ability to work may be impaired; your social life may be affected, and it is all due to something completely beyond your control and that is frustrating.

The major difference between having depression or other mental illness and having a broken leg is that response to difficulty getting out of bed in the morning. Just get up. Just get dressed. Just walk down the stairs. Just ignore it. The “just” attitude towards mental health is so deeply ingrained in our brains that we do not consider the possibility that adding “just” onto the beginning of a sentence does not actually make it any easier to perform that task, and although you probably do not mean to, by using these statements you are telling someone that their illness is their own fault and it is something they can snap out of whenever they please. Mental illness is still illness.

There are so many people who have addressed this very same point, but mental illness and physical illness are still treated so very differently.

Someone’s got it right though. Take a lesson from Piglet!

One small step for man

Today was a good day. It did contain lots of crying, it did contain lots of fear, and it did contain lots of gloominess, but it was a good day. I write this from the comfiest, warmest bed ever to grace the planet, situated in my old room at my mum’s house, in a different branch of ‘the middle of nowhere’ than usual.

My mum’s husband does not understand brains. Not even close. He cannot conceive the idea that someone’s brain can malfunction, and therefore has no clue how to deal with it. Following my post on crap superpowers, I entered the dangerous territory of not wishing to continue being alive. I cried so hard I nearly made myself sick (I was that depressed the fear of sick seemed to evaporate) and my partner made me call my mum to take me home for a few days. When my mum told her husband that she was picking me up, he simply said “she’s not very well, is she?”. This may not seem a lot to someone who doesn’t know him, but this is absolutely massive. This is like the moon landing. This is like the end of smallpox.

My mum lives with depression, too. Someone who lives with depression marrying someone who does not believe it is a real thing is a bit of a mad concept, he can tell there is something different about mum at certain times of year, but he has no understanding of it beyond “must take her to somewhere sunny or she will cry at me for three months”. Today he acknowledged it to be an illness. Today he acknowledged that I am trying really, really hard but I am ill. My brain is ill. And today I acknowledged that, too.

I am impatient with myself and I do not look after myself, but if I am going to shake this illness then I need to relax, rest, and be selfish for a little while. I need to start being nice to myself.

Today was a good day, because I was able to talk to other depressed people about how to live under a raincloud, and it gave me hope that soon I might find an umbrella.

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