Today, I got up at 5am to give myself plenty of time to get ready for work. I sat down with a cup of coffee and began doing my make up which most of the time is a therapeutic and soothing ritual. I was excited for the day ahead. I have missed my work colleagues, a stable routine, and the sense of productivity. I’m one of the lucky few that enjoy my job.
Minutes before I need to leave the house, my optimism vanishes and is replaced with anxiety. I freeze looking at the door and become completely overwhelmed. I give myself a pep talk in my own mind. “You’ve done this before. You can do it again.” But my mind does not have the sincerity to convince myself enough to take action. Motivation and hope has evaporated at this point and there is no faking it.
I submit myself to failure and the negative thoughts start pouring in.
You’re letting everybody down
You’re going to lose your job
You’re going to lose your family
You’re never going to be normal or accomplish anything
Then the isolation starts. Feeling like a burden, I hide myself away as much as I can, wishing there was a room somewhere I could lock myself in forever.
It escalates more and more. The train of thoughts paralyse me and I become weak. Drained. Exhausted. A way out seems inconceivable. I can’t imagine this is ever going to pass.
Getting better is a slow process, and I think I’m guilty of trying to rush through that and I put a lot of pressure on myself to please other people. The logical part of my brain knows that it’s not going to happen overnight but the mentally ill part of my brain goes into crisis mode when reminded of that. I set high standards for myself, and I think that is part of the problem. If I don’t feel like I’m doing amazing, then I tell myself I must be doing awful and I must be useless and this makes it even harder to function. I don’t allow myself to sit in that in between area where I’m doing not too bad.
“I wish I could write about how everything that happened has made me stronger. About how it’s all for the best and what I’ve lost in childhood, I’ve gained in strength. I probably could write about it if I tried, but I’d be insincere and lying to myself. It’s years and years on and yet at times I still feel like that 10 year old, hiding in a dark room wishing it would all stop.”
The above is a diary entry from a few months ago. I was reading back on things I’ve been writing the past few months. When I found this, it dawned on me that progress has been made since the day I wrote that. Now I may not be at a point where I can say that I am stronger person because of everything that happened and all those cliches we’ve all heard before. I can’t say that I’m back at work or that I’m coping well. I can’t say I’ve made any massive breakthrough in my mental health that is going to change my life.
However, I am definitely stronger today than the day I wrote that. If you told me a few months ago that I would be able to start a blog to express my feelings and I would have the will to try and create something positive out of the negative, I would have been terrified at the prospect. If you had even told me that I would get through Christmas and the holidays and manage to enjoy myself somewhat then I would have laughed. A few months ago, I was petrified of telling anybody what was going on apart from family members & close friends.
So here’s to the small victories. Of course, I wish this was like a cold or a flu and I’d wake up tomorrow feeling 100%. It’s hard to accept the reality of the situation and make peace with the fact it’s going to take time but in the mean time, I can make an effort to celebrate the small things. Today has been a bad day, but if today had been a few months ago, it would have been an okay day in comparison. Recovery is not a straight line, it’s full of ups and downs. Today is one of the downs, but at least today I’ve managed to string some sentences together and think clearly enough to reflect on progress which would have been inconceivable a few months ago. So if you are reading this and you are also having a bad day, then try and give yourself credit for the small things. If that doesn’t work, then look at pictures of puppies or Leonardo Dicaprio.