Saturday, 9 June 2018

Overdrive

It's alot easier to write about how you're feeling when you are feeling so many things that it feels like you're about to burst.

It feels like this last 9 days I've been living in overdrive. Where every little activity has felt like it took so much energy and caused so much anxiety, that simply just laying in bed almost felt impossible.

I'm back to struggling to eat anything, I'm back to spending most of the day in bed and nearly backing out of plans because the thought of existing sends me into a panic that I struggle to calm myself from. Any little thing has set me off, especially in the last few days. Simply today texting some of my friends led me to start sobbing, and I don't really know why. Yesterday I barely managed to eat, I turned off my phone and hibernated away because everything about existing felt like it was too unbearable.

I've spent the last few days trying to pinpoint a reason that every little thing is leading to crippling anxiety, and I'm struggling to find anything. I'm struggling to find a reason for waking up every hour in the night panicking. I'm struggling to find a reason that I'm struggling to function like a slightly okay human being.

I'm falling back into bad habits, and even though I know it's making me feel worse, in my current headspace I can't think of any other way of coping. 

Everytime I start thinking everything is heading up, it seems to just plummet back down again. And whilst now it's easier to manage, everything feels at the point where it isn't getting any better, so why on earth would it? It can be so hard to remain optimistic when every time you feel like things are finally heading forward, you find yourself then going straight back.

I would be lying if I said I am not currently sat balling my eyes out whilst writing this. For no other reason that I just want to stop struggling, and I just want to be able to function again. I'm in a state of anxiety, misery and overwhelming emotions, and I don't really know what to do.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

The Box Of Pineapple and Something Slugs Do

"The box of pineapple arrived on Christmas Eve"

I find myself not being able to deal with anxiety. Everything is completely overwhelming, just laying in bed with the lights off is currently too much to deal with. I find myself not knowing what to do, there is only so much of letting something consume you that you can mentally manage. I find myself crying, not being able to stop the tears and not even knowing why they are happening.  The last 48 hours have been me, on hyperanxious all the time. I've had some of the worst panic attacks I've had in a long time and I just feel like I want to scream.

I just want to get things out. I just want to type. I just want to do anything I physically can to distract myself from the growing feeling in my chest that feels like it is about ready to explode. 


"We need more words like toothbrush"

I find myself pulling all the books I own off the shelf, opening them onto random pages to try and find the weirdest sentences I physically can. I write them up, I laugh abit then throw them in the pile. I spent half an hour at least doing this, and get a lovely little book pile. 

"You know what they say about playing with your sausage too much"

I find it strange that such random quotes can be embedded in books. I find it sort of comforting that a book about suicide and a psychiatric hosptial contains multiple innuendos about dicks. I find it comforting that a book about a girls probably drunk driving suicide can so happily talk about strippers. I find it comforting that books around such upsetting topics can also bring so much laughter too, just as the way that even though life can be painful and sad, that it can bring joy too. 

I find it interesting that these books, by different authors about different things can all contain such interesting sentences. How does someone even think about the collaboration of boxes of pineapples and Christmas Eve? How do you type your way to the need of words?

"It's not a question of poetry, but of facts!"

This activity was almost fitting to how I was feeling. When I get anxious, I'll say the most random shit that I can think of, and it will be amongst all the serious, the sad and the drama. I am the book, my expression of anxiety is often these quotes, and yes, this is the worst metaphor you may ever read.  


"There is not technically a rule against paying a stripper to dance in front of the school"

My days are often fuelled by anxiety. Anxiety will tell me what I can and can't do. I am almost living in fear that the idea of doing something is too scary that I won't bother to even leave the house. I am constantly telling myself I can't do something, so when it comes to doing it I have to cancel because the idea of it is too overwhelming.

I am a relatively extraverted person. I always have been more outgoing, louder, more over-the-top than alot of people I know. Where I can be shy, when I'm in my comfort zone there is almost no stopping me, I'll be happy, speaking with my body movements, absolutely in my element talking to people and doing things. In many ways, socialising and being loud are the things that energise me, whilst also being the things that cause panic and fear. It is becoming progressively harder to cope with the need to be social but the panic at doing so. 

I'm kinda just sat here letting everything I physically can out. I feel like I'm writing this more to tell myself these things and to help myself than I am, instead of trying to write a coherent piece of writing that might help someone else. But I need this, I need to get everything out and this is the place I love to do it. I can usually divert all that energy into something to find myself helpful, but right now I'm typing with very little clue as to what I'm doing. 

Sometimes anxiety just wins, today is another one of those days. 


"How can our sentient fucking lives revolve around something slugs can do?"


Monday, 14 May 2018

A Story || MHAW 2018.

The first step towards recovery for me was the first time I spoke about it.

I had spent my secondary school feeling so many emotions that I didn't understand. I was young, unknowing about emotions and I was hurting. But I was hurting in silence, hurting behind a perfectly constructed mask I had spent a few years building myself. Time went on and these feelings became worse. I started to realise these emotions were getting the better of me and I found myself in a repeated cycle of unhappiness and feeling lost.

My secondary school years just consisted of days where one moment I was okay, next moment I was at rock bottom. After feeling isolated from years of bullying, I eventually settled into a good friendship group, and then shitty people left me alone. I felt like I gained abit of control back in my life in that respect, it meant that I had something good in my life, which is what I really needed. But I kept feeling down, I kept worrying at every little thing. I'd tend to eat nothing or eat 6 meals a day, I'd constantly feel tired and sometimes everything felt too much.

I wanted to talk, but I didn't know where to go. I opened up to a few of my online friends, but they discounted anything I said to them, and I found myself in a situation where I felt surrounded by people who didn't believe what I was saying, and instead were making fun of me. There are only so many times you can hear someone tell you that you're just seeking attention when you were crying out for help. I wanted to talk to someone at school, but I couldn't bare to do so, after a separate story that changed me for the worst. I didn't feel comfortable opening up to them, because I knew how awfully and terrifyingly they dealt with similar situations. I was alone, and I had to accept that.

The next few years were very much the same. In my time at sixth form, I tried to talk to anyone about how I was feeling, but I was often too scared to or if I did, I just said I was feeling rough. At the end, I gave up completely. I put back on the mask and continued my studies, whilst continuing down into a spiral of unhappiness. At one point, I nearly went to my tutor to talk because I wanted to get these emotions out and I didn't know where else to turn. But instead of opening up, I carried on with unbearable emotions and hoped I would start a new chapter at university.

I struggled through my A2 levels, my mental health completely blocked me from doing anything, but I managed to scrape the results I needed to get me ABB and get me into my firm university choice.

I went to university, and this is where everything started to look up. I went to university off a really bad month, losing the two closest people in my life and I spent the few weeks before I went feeling really low and relatively suicidal. And I meant it then, I was struggling with everything and it felt like one thing after another was against me, and I felt like the only way of anything improving was simply to cease to exist. The week or two before I went to uni were the two weeks of my life where I was at my lowest, but thankfully I stayed alive and went to university.

I wanted a new start, and I found one. I really did. I stay in contact with my best friends from school, naturally, but I was lucky enough to find myself settled into a good bunch of friends. My mental health still fluctuated, I really struggled at points to get out of bed, to talk to anyone and to do anything. In some ways, the stresses of all the change at university and the whole meeting a brand new set of people made any feelings I had worse, but the awfulness of it was made easier through the people I was with and the fun I was having. I quit my part time job in December of my first year, which further alleviated any anxiety I was having (yes, work gave me alot of it) and I, for the first time in my life, felt happy, comfortable and accepted somewhere. I wasn't being picked on, I didn't feel alone or left out, I felt comfortable with the people around me and I enjoyed what I was doing.

For the first time, I opened up to someone and didn't get pushed away. Someone asked me if I was okay and for the first time in a few years, I said no. I finally had someone who believed me, someone who understood what I was saying and actually cared about it. It was almost like the entire weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders and instead was replaced with an infinite hug. When I finally had someone to talk to, someone who cared, my mental health started to slowly improve.

I had bad nights, I had some really bad nights but slowly and surely I had less bad nights, less bad days. Things that were thrown at me were easier to deal with, for the first time since everything had started, I saw a light at the end. It was a small, faint light, but I saw it.

This continued through my second year, to where I am now. I have had days where I felt like everything was too much, I still do. I had absolute rock bottom periods this year, where I nearly left everything behind and moments where I genuinely didn't wake up. But I have so many days where I am so happy that the bad days feel so little and unimportant. I look forward to waking up, I look forward to seeing what is in store. I am excited for my future, I am excited to see what each day brings. I know what to do if I'm not feeling as great as I can be, I understand my limits and I know that I have support and love from so many people.

I have so many amazing people in my life who care about me, and care about how I am instead of how I say I am.

I say all of this for a reason. I didn't think even 2 years ago that I would be alive, I genuinely didn't. Now I'm here, finishing my second year of university, with the best friends I could ask for, and my life genuinely looking to be on the up. None of this would have arguably happened, if I didn't make that first initial conversation.

If there is one thing mental health awareness week should be shouting, is that talking about mental health is the most important part in breaking any and all stigma. Talking it about it normalises it, and the more we normalise it the more people will feel okay about talking about how they're feeling. Talking about it makes other people comfortable about it. Talking it breaks down barriers, breaks down the idea that mental illness is just attention seeking and that mental health isn't real.

I've spent nearly 9 years of my life with mental health fluctuations in some ways, and only in the last 2 years have I felt like I can talk about it. The stigma is being broken slowly around mental health, but it still isn't enough.

Approximately 1/4 people will experience a mental health difficulty, with 1/6 experiencing a common mental health problem each week. This figure is nearly 1/3 for students.

Female suicide rates are at their highest and the highest rates for suicide in 2017 were males between 40-44, and in general terms, males are 3 times more likely to commit suicide.

Mental health awareness week is here to lower these. Whilst so much work is being done to emphasise that it is okay to talk about mental health, there is so much left to be done.

And awareness starts with you. It starts by opening a conversation, making sure you're friends, family, peers, colleagues etc are okay, and are genuinely okay. It's putting your arm round a friend and it's starting the conversation that could lead a person to be able to carry on. I can say that these types of conversation are a huge part of how I am typing this, how I had the strength in me to continue going. It's the message that reminds me in my worst moments that yes, people do care about me and would care if I wasn't here.

A conversation is why I am here. A conversation is why so many others are here. A conversation is all it takes to help someone in their road of recovery.

Because if anything is important this week, it is talking. Making sure people are aware that it is okay to not be okay, as long as they aren't giving up.

Friday, 11 May 2018

A Voice

It was almost like it had already been decided, somewhere in my mind, that I would not be able to deal with today. Like I had a predisposition to lack the ability to function today.

But I don't have the choice, I have to do something. I have to get up. I have to push this all away and hope that it doesn't impair my ability to exist like a normal human being.

Sometimes it is all too much. It's overwhelming sometimes to get out of bed, to even think about doing so. Breathing is hard, thinking is hard, crying is hard. It's so hard when things are hard because you start wondering if things will ever get easier again. You wonder when you can focus again, when you can sleep again, when you can get up again and it not take four hours.

Sometimes I don't have a voice. Sometimes I cannot do or say anything because everything is too much. Sometimes I just lay here, my mind in a whirlwind and my heart in overdrive. Sometimes breathing can panic me. Sometimes I don't know what to do or say when anxiety is at it's worst, but today isn't one of those days.

Today I can speak. Today I can type. Today I can say something to get the panic out there. Today I have a voice.

Today my anxiety has consumed me. Today it is too much. But it's okay, tomorrow will be a new day.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Burst

Sometimes it feels like everything is against me. It feels like I'm battling the world, but when I overcome a challenge, another bigger one puts itself at my feet.

My life right now is pretty great. Minus all the exam stress, I am surrounded by amazing people, I'm doing things I never thought I'd do, I'm doing my exams, I'm eating properly again, I'm doing so many things I love with people I love. But my anxiety is getting worse. Sometimes my feelings are getting worse.

There is absolutely no reason that I should feel like this. But I do. I wake up and it is so hard to get out of bed, because I feel too scared to face a world, but a world that I am feeling great in. It is absolutely emotionally draining to feel like this, to feel so lost and broken in a world where everything is great.

What will stop this feeling? If I'm struggling to get up in a world where I want to get out of bed and exist, then how will everything be if something turns everything around? Is it even possible to get to a stage where I am a person who's anxiety isn't taking away from their life?

It isn't even the big things. I'm fine public speaking, relatively okay with talking to strangers, I can go to parties, I can do things that I shouldn't be able to do. It's the small things, it's the constant worry about nothing for absolutely no reason. It feels like my body is in the fight-flight response 24/7, because I can even just be sat in the library and feel like everything is too much.

Right now I have alot of emotions and I don't know what to do with them. Alot of the time, I am good with managing them, but today isn't that day. Today is me leaving the library 2 hours before I have a meeting to have a lie down, today is me leaving a social event early because being there felt too much, today is me just wanting to constantly scream and cry and find someone that can tell me whats wrong with me.

Today isn't a good one, but tomorrow will come and tomorrow I will start again.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

A Hyperbolic Sad

I'm good at making people worry about me. I'm good at saying things that I kinda mean but don't really mean and I'm good at exaggerating the truth.

I don't really want to die. I don't really want to stop existing. I don't want to give up. But sometimes it's easier to say I'm giving up than actually opening up to anyone but it is arguably less scary to ask someone to kill me than it is to say that sometimes it is hard to get out of bed. It's arguably less scary to say that existing is too hard than it is to say that you relapsed or than it is to say that your brain is the scariest thing in your life right now.

I am doing better than I have been. That's an unavoidable fact, but it is also easier to pretend that things are still awful because at least that way people still understand that you have bad days and that you still have days you want to hide away from everyone. It's easier to pretend that you are close to giving up because people that way will still talk to you and 'check in on you'.

But it's an exaggeration.

I am struggling but I am okay.

I am sad but it's an okay sad, it's a normal sad, it's a bearable sad, it's a "yes, I can get out of bed today sad". It's a optimistic sad, a fake sad, a sad that isn't really sad but it's really easy to mistake it for sad. A sad that is actually happiness but being happy all the time is an alien feeling so there has to be some kind of sad.

I don't want to exist but really I want to exist, I do want to keep on going and I know I can keep going.

I know that sadness is temporary. I know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and suicide is a "permanent solution to a temporary problem", I've been told that for so many years that it feels like it has been engraved into my brain.

I know that the people around me would miss me if I did give up and I know that somewhere out there is a person I will spend the rest of my life with, that one day I will have children with them and I cannot do that if I give up now.

I know that it will all be okay. I know that I have fought this so many times before and that I have survived all of my bad days so far.

I've survived the last 10 years of bad days, so I survive at least 10 more.


Thursday, 19 April 2018

2 in 15

Grief is something that is hard to come to terms with.

Losing someone you love is easily the hardest thing that we as a species will have to deal with. The fact of having to come to terms with the thought that you will never see someone you love again because they are no longer with us, is something that is never going to be easy.

When I lost my uncle 17 months ago, I didn't know how to react. I didn't know how to feel. I didn't know what was okay to feel, whether feeling empty and feeling hopeless was a feeling that was okay to feel. My uncle was the first relative me and my brothers had lost. We didn't know what grief looked like or felt like. We didn't really understand what was happening or going to happen. I had never been to a funeral, I had never seen a coffin except for on TV. In some ways, I had a life that was sheltered by death, and by sheltered I mean I was fortunate enough to never have to see it.

17 months ago, it didn't feel real. It still doesn't, to this day, feel like I lost you, but Christmas is still hard and your birthdays are harder. I still haven't come to terms with you being gone.

But I was getting over the grieving stage. Things were getting easier. I wasn't spending my days thinking about you or my nights awake because sleeping meant thinking of you which made sleeping impossible. I thought I had almost saw a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of moving on from grief in general.

When I saw my brother calling me at 10am on a Friday, in the middle of a lecture, I knew something was wrong. Everything seemed okay that morning. I was going to call you after that lecture and wish you a happy birthday, but the phone call I had on that day was completely different to the one I thought I'd be making. I never expected that I'd be hearing that you had passed away, even when my brother was calling.

It was at that moment that the world stopped. I couldn't speak, I was almost running out of the building with everything stopped around me. I was so absolutely and utterly heartbroken that words were hard to mumble, messages were hard to text.

I got to my house at uni and was thrashing around my room, throwing my clothes around. I was throwing water over my face and hoping this was a dream again. Nothing felt real, I felt like I was completely shutting down. I couldn't have lost someone else I loved so soon after losing my uncle.

I rarely see my dad cry, the only time I think I've seen him cry was when my mum lost her brother. But I don't think he stopped crying since he found you. And I don't blame him either.

My nan raised my dad, an only child, as a single mother. She was his family, and even though my dad has us, he lost the person in his life that had unconditionally loved him since the day he was born, the woman who did everything she physically could to make sure he had the best life he could.

My nan also raised us, essentially. She retired a year after I was born, meaning she looked after us whilst my parents were at work, supporting us as a family. She took us to school, picked us up from school, made us dinner if we wanted, braided my hair into plaits, she came to most of our football matches, she never complained once.

She never complained that she opened her home up to the 5 of us (me, my brothers and my parents). She never complained about all the mess, the late nights from us screaming, the fact she was in her 60s basically raising 3 annoying bratty children. She did everything with a smile, she loved us unconditionally and it was so easy to tell that we were her entire world.

My nan was truly a hero.

Accepting that I will never see her again has been so hard to come to terms with. She lived a street over from us, I saw her nearly everyday and now suddenly I won't ever see her again. We had to clear out her house, we had to walk into an empty house that suddenly felt the opposite of a home and go through all the things that once were hers. We had to find all the artwork we drew for her as children, all the gifts, all the clothes, the paperwork, all the photos of her. We had to pick out flowers, pick out music, pick out words. Something that none of us were ready to do.

There is something about a second loss that makes everything feel harder than it should be. The first time is awful because you don't know what to feel, how to feel and you don't even believe death to be a real thing, in a really weird sense. But the second time, it feels real. You know how you felt last time, you know the hole and the emptiness that you will feel for a long time. You know the process, you know the tears that will come. You know you have to say goodbye and you know that no matter what you do, nothing will make anything okay. You expect sleepless nights, you expect the back and forth journeys, you expect everything and there is still nothing you can do to make it feel better.

In the space of 15 months, I lost two of my heroes, two of the best people I have ever known. Two of the people who I grew up with, and there is nothing in this world I wouldn't do to have one more second with them. In the space of 15 months, I wondered multiple times why life was so cruel, why people just had to suddenly pass away. I spent so many hours thinking about dropping out of university, because it suddenly hit me how I was spending so little time with the people I loved and how so much can change so quickly.

It was grief. It was lonely. It was heartache. It was pure sadness. It was pure worry. It was me suddenly doing awfully again after doing well for so long, with no way of making things better. It consumes you.

Grief itself is awful. Grief is unexpected and it is so hard to work your way through.

And whilst it never truly heals, it eventually starts to get easier.

I know it's been a while now, but I'm still not doing too great. I still have sleepless nights, I still wake up crying because of how much I miss you and I still don't know how to deal with your loss yet.

But I hope I'm doing you proud.