Trigger warning: mention of suicide. 2015/16 was a rough time for me. Recurrent suicide attempts, dissociation, losing time, self harm, frequent binge drinking and bulimia. It was easily one of the worst points of my life in terms of my mental health, and it was…
Sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes your life does not go to plan, sometimes things don’t work out the way you want them to even if you tried hard to make sure they would. Sometimes really terrible, tragic things happen and you have to rebuild, and sometimes even the tiniest things can throw you.
If you have a mental health problem, even if you’re throwing yourself hard into recovery, sometimes you will be sad. Sometimes you will have relapse days. Sometimes, you might wind up in a crisis all of a sudden.
I have a habit of becoming convinced that I am a complete failure and worsening my own mental state if I find myself struggling in the slightest: if I can’t stay positive, if I can’t cope all of the time, if I can’t love my mind or my body, or if I spot myself using any hint of disordered behaviours again. I can wind up spiralling from “bad” into “full blown crisis” just simply because I’m being too hard on myself.
The reality is, though, that most of those feelings are really quite normal, or at least to be expected from time to time, and it is unrealistic to believe otherwise.
Life happens and even fully healthy people have struggles. Nobody can stay positive 24/7, 365 days a year and if you have an illness that affects your brain you are going to have normal struggles like everybody else, plus your emotions will be possibly amplified or processed differently because of said illness.
Now, I’m not about to say that we should let ourselves just spiral into oblivion when we are fully aware that things are getting worse again, of course not, but sometimes it can be very difficult and exhausting just to stay alive. What if we decided that it was healthier, sometimes, to just accept our present state, get help if necessary, and try again tomorrow? What if we decided that it wasn’t the worst thing, and that we didn’t have to hate ourselves for it or feel guilty in any way?
No matter how hard we wish it could be the case, mental illness does not just go away when you click your fingers. Even if you have been free from or successfully managing your symptoms for 6 months or 6 years, people struggle, and this is okay. You are okay.
Neither standard emotional responses nor serious mental decline make you a failure. It really is okay to be not okay sometimes, so don’t let anybody (including yourself) try to make you believe otherwise.
It’s December 2015. I’m lying in bed, alone, clutching my pink koala teddy. I’m wrapped up tight under my duvet. My body is freezing because I haven’t eaten, and truthfully I’ve lost count of the days since I last did.
My calendar still tells me it’s October, there’s a pile of washing stacked high above the basket that’s been there since God-knows-when, and my violin is sitting lonely in the corner of my room because I haven’t left my bed in days. I don’t actually think I’ve moved from this spot since they released me from hospital.
It seems like just yesterday I was arriving back in the UK from Australia, and I swear it was when I was tying up all my loose ends in my hometown and moving here, hoping I would escape everything. I thought that everything would be better when I got away but the reality is, I never got away at all.
I regret that I never got to know my classmates at the beginning of the year. I got very sick, very quickly. But in a way it’s good that I didn’t, because it meant most were never close and never had to watch me through this.
I regret that I haven’t really learnt much in the academic sense this year. Not only because I’m racking up a lot of debt for nothing, but because I’ve a good opportunity to change everything around and for many reasons just haven’t been able to. But I really do want to be my best, you know.
But actually, it’s not December anymore now. It’s almost June and I’ve made it through all of that. I’m getting better.
It’s not been easy but I’ve been trying my best. I’ve been in and out of hospital. I’ve taken steps forwards and steps backwards, and I’m better than I was. I no longer spontaneously try to kill myself, I nourish my body and take my medications to make sure that the remaining medical issues I have are not self-inflicted. I’m trying to keep on top of my appointments, my college work, and I’m really trying to make friends because being alone all the time is hard.
I still can’t eat in front of people, so I can’t come out to dinner with you. I still can’t bear people touching me, so I can’t hug you. I don’t like being in crowds of the opposite sex because it makes me panic, and I’m very likely to suddenly become an acute medical emergency which makes me difficult to hang out with, I know.
I do understand if you think I’m too crazy or too much of a nightmare to bother with, I really do. But, I would very much appreciate it if, maybe, just sometimes, you could stop to say hello.
Awful selfie, but thank you to @Snozone_UK Castleford for a fantastic lesson! Next stop: Olympics. (Ok, maybe not.) pic.twitter.com/EfxchMYCcn — Miss ASTRID 🐝 (@itsmissastrid) May 24, 2016 Words cannot even begin to describe how happy I am right now to have successfully completed my first…
This is not a post I wanted to be writing, but last week on Thursday something happened to me that has brought everything back. Something that has made me, I suppose, unpredictable and overly emotional for the last few days. Something that I need to write about (though not in too much detail) to get it off my chest, and hopefully inspire myself to keep moving forward.
At around 9.15pm I was walking down Briggate in Leeds, minding my own business, when a man started to come towards me. I was not in the mood to talk to anybody so I changed direction slightly to be on the other side of the bench that I was approaching, in order to be essentially walking in the middle of the road, but he doubled back on himself to approach me anyway. I saw his lips move but I had my earphones in, and when he spoke to me for just a moment I thought maybe he’d asked me for a lighter. That was not the case, though, and in my moment of hesitation he grabbed me and started dragging me across to his friend at the side of the street.
I was convinced that I was going to be raped again, if not kidnapped and murdered. It was pure luck that this time I did not freeze but instead I managed to shift my weight to nearly knock him over, and twist and run away, or else I’m not entirely sure how the situation would’ve panned out.
I’m trying my best to stay strong and positive and not let this affect me at all but it’s not easy and I’m not going to lie that it is. It feels like things like this always happen to me, and that I’m never going to be able to change it no matter what I do or where I move to. I feel like I don’t belong to myself, like I was only put on this planet to be some kind of object for people to use and abuse. I can’t sleep for my nightmares again and I don’t want to eat or do anything except drink a lot and stay close to a friend who isn’t even around right now.
I honestly just don’t know how I’m supposed to deal with this, but I’m trying my best. My whole life it’s like the world has constantly been against me. Nothing ever goes even remotely to plan and things always happen to me that should never happen to anybody. I’m never able to put 100% into anything because there’s something always happens to hold me back. But I don’t want this to set me back, not in any way. I still want to live, I still want to achieve, I still think that it maybe could be okay someday.
I’m lucky that I’ve been fairly busy since this incident, what with going to Hull to write for the Amy Johnson Festival, a Manic Street Preachers concert, seeing my family, my echocardiogram, a walk up on Skipton Moor and tomorrow will be my first snowboarding lesson. I’ve mostly had to stick myself together because other people have been relying on me to do things and by some miracle I’ve been kept from crisis thanks to this.
The truth is, though, I’m writing this to make extra sure that I keep myself accountable, so that I don’t do anything to myself, and so that I keep the fight in me. I’m not really okay and I’m struggling a ridiculous amount, but I promise you reading this that I will not give up right now, and I always keep my promises.
On Tuesday I walked 20km with no fainting, kept myself adequately fuelled, hydrated and fully enjoyed my time in the sun. This is a pretty big achievement when you consider that not so long ago, back when my health was so terrible that simply walking could be at times…