Sunrise.

I know the exact moment the depression lifted. My mum came in to say good morning one day and sat on the end of my bed, and the light hit her face in just the most beautiful way and for the first time I saw the lines on her skin and the colour of her eyes. It was the weirdest feeling; it was as though someone had finally given me glasses I never knew I needed.

Every few days after that I’d just suddenly see something in such remarkable detail I’d never noticed before. The world had texture all of a sudden, and light seemed to be reacting with every surface to create a world more beautiful than I’d ever known. I looked in the mirror one day and my face had changed shape. My skin had pores and my eyes were lighter and for the first time in my life I realised I have really great cheekbones.

That was a over a month ago now, and since then whenever I look in the mirror I see something else I hadn’t noticed before. I have the most delightful little lines forming around my eyes when I smile now, and I pull faces in mirrors just to watch them and remember that I smile enough that it has imprinted on my skin.

I’ve shown signs of depression since I was seven years old. And one day seventeen years later, it vanished. Just like that.

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Training wheels.

I have a letter from a psychiatrist stating that I am mentally stable. I laughed when I opened it, then hurtled down the stairs, waved it at my mum, and burst into tears in the kitchen.

I also have a letter for the same psychiatrist confirming a formal diagnosis of OCD. I’d been chasing one of those for years. I really wanted to be firmly stamped with that label, with the notion that maybe if I knew for sure what it was then I could stop it. Turns out it’s just three words on a sheet of paper, folded haphazardly by an assistant, and promptly lost upon receipt. The diagnosis just meant they recommended a medication that left me so nauseated I didn’t sleep for three days.

So. I have an anticlimactic diagnosis (and a few bonus ones), but I am mentally stable, and I have been completely unmedicated for three months. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still an anxious mess, but I’m a functional anxious mess who goes to work every day, answers messages occasionally, and finds joy in little things.

I’m writing this today following a few days of shaking and nausea and the odd bit of crying. Someone at work was ill and a friend was ill and I accidentally read an entire book in the garden today and my brain’s trying to convince me that I have sun stroke. I still have a long way to go. But six months ago even, this would have broken me.

 

Upbeat titles are difficult.

The real world is treating me surprisingly well, I am pleased to say! I’m now working in a small office – there’s only four of us – on six hour days, correcting every spreadsheet they’ve ever made. Little steps. They’re lovely people and they like me lots!

I have told them that I have a history of silly-brain-itis (not actual inflammation of the silly brain, just a nice sounding phrase) but I have told them nothing more. I haven’t told them that I cannot ‘phones’, I have not asked them not to discuss illness, I have not told them I don’t like people. So for a little while I am actually playing the part of ‘well-adjusted, functional human’ quite well, even though I am a walking purple.

I am really, really enjoying dressing office-y. And startling people with the transition from mass of Kevlar and boots to dainty thing in a skirt and heels every morning. I did try taking the bus, but that turned out to be the most traumatic part of the day, so motorbike it is…while the weather stays co-operative anyway.

So yeah.
The real world is being nice.
Apart from last night’s spontaneous panic attack at three in the morning. Very odd sensation to wake up to, and not one I hope to repeat any time soon.

The room of requirement

As soon as I mentioned Trevor the Life Coach, he was hastily released from my service, never to be seen again.

Life’s weird like that; it throws you just exactly what you need at that precise moment in time, and then it’s served its purpose and you’re on your own again. But it’s okay. He helped a lot. He gave me a bit of confidence and that is precisely what I needed.

The next proverbial bone that the universe has thrown for/at me is a work experience placement. I start tomorrow, I get to dress all posh and office-y, and hopefully it will send me on the right path to find the next surprise in this ever-expanding treasure hunt that is life.

A life lived in fear is a life half lived.

I am constantly prepared for any outcome of any situation. My unreasonably high resting adrenaline level takes care of that for me – I can feel it flowing through every blood vessel, I can feel every cell in my body ready to jump into action. But my goodness would I like a rest some time.. It’s reached the point that I can’t even imagine what it is like to not have fear pulsating through my body anymore.

As I write this (again from the comfiest bed in the world) I am gripped firmly at the throat by a sense of impending doom; a feeling that something terrible is about to happen, without any trigger or any inkling as to what that event might be. There have been a lot of other contributors though – so far today I have thought that my grandparents were going to kill me, thought that my dog was about to step on a land mine and survive in horrific pain (that one keeps replaying just when I think I’ve forgotten it), thought that my mum had contracted a stomach virus, and most recently I have thought that someone is watching through the slightly open window behind me with some sort of weapon in their hand.¬†

All of the fears listed above are pretty standard thoughts to go through my head, and I experience them and many others like them almost constantly as I go about my daily life. There is not a single night that I don’t lie in bed and wait for the murderer to burst in cackling and illuminated by a convenient lightning flash, there is not a day I don’t believe that someone is about to be violently ill in front of me, and I am enormously suspicious of the actions and motives of every single person I encounter, without exception.

At night my brain comes alive more than ever, it assesses the world around me scrupulously and will not rest until all perceived danger is noted and processed. The little man in my head paces around muttering to himself and scribbling on a clipboard, occasionally notifying me of a new hypothetical scenario I should consider for a while. The hard day’s surviving comes to its conclusion and my mind and body dress their wounds, lecture each other on avoidance of injury, and prepare for tomorrow’s battle against themselves.

I disagree that a life lived in fear is a life half-lived. I live more than most, I live several days at once, several lives at once. It’s just most of them don’t exist.