This week something happened, something that should have happened months ago but I was too stubborn to admit, to proud to give into. I walked into a GPs surgery and asked for help.
Winston Churchill called it ‘The Black Dog’. Stephen Fry likened it to having your own ‘Personal Weather’, there are lots of people in the public eye who have come out and said they are suffering or have suffered with Depression. So why does it still feel like such a dirty word, and why do we still suffer in silence for longer than is necessary.
After 14 months of trying every trick in the book, and thinking I was doing ok, thinking that I was doing quite a good job, it turns out, I actually wasn’t. I can’t put my finger on the day when I went from feeling marginally unhappy with my lot but still able to see a light at the end of the tunnel, to waking up everyday and feeling completely done.
Wondering how I could go about managing my exit from this world, causing the least amount of distress to the least number of people. Thinking about how I could best word a letter to my family to reassure them I had tried my best but could try no more. Then thinking about the practicalities, how I really should have a clear out of all my things in order to save my mum having to do it, because she wont need the hassle of sorting through all of my stuff when I am gone. These are not the thoughts of someone inebriated at midnight after drinking a bottle of vodka , these are the thoughts I have everyday as I reach to switch my alarm off at 6am in the morning.
Trying to figure out how I can just put an end to the no longer manageable circumstance that is my life, without it impacting and upsetting a lot of people who don’t deserve it. This is the question that has been whirring around in my head more times a day than I care to mention and for more weeks that I care to remember.
There I said it.
So there it is, it’s out there, The big taboo, The thing , The unmentionable, The unthinkable, The Elephant in the room.
I am all too well aware that revelation has probably made for uncomfortable reading for some already. There will be those who understand what its like to be in this place, those who don’t understand and those who don’t care to understand, and that’s fine.
I am also aware that this level of candour doesn’t suit everyone, I know for a fact it wont suit a few of my family members who already cringe at most of what I post on social media, so for this I can only apologise. I have friends who will probably think I am over sharing but won’t want to tell me, guys, relax, it’s for the greater good. Then last but not least there is my little set of super fans who lurk on here and think I don’t know they do, well they will have just pulled up a seat and grabbed the popcorn, they haven’t had this kind of insight into my life for weeks since I made my Instagram private!. Christmas has come early for those little darlings, so here you go, sit back, relax , this one’s on me.
In actual fact none of those opinions matter, they certainly don’t matter to me. I am not looking for sympathy, I am not looking for anything. The fact of it is , I have been trying to pretend I am happier than I am for months now, and this is where I have ended up at. There is no more denying, no more “If i can only get through one more month”, no more “I’ll try calling someone next week”. The day to start dealing with this problem for what it is which is a serious mental illness is here.
As I see it , I am one of the lucky ones, for whatever reason I am still here and able to write about my experience. I walked up to the line and didn’t cross it. I stopped and I accepted that I owe myself more than that, I owe my family more than that, and for a lot of people that day of reckoning, that lightbulb moment, sadly doesn’t come, and it becomes all much too late , much too soon.
What I hope by writing this is, if by putting myself out there, even if it helps just one other person to seek the help they need to not cross that line, to not cross the point of no return, then for me, its worth a few gasps from the invisible crowd.
The Whirlpool of Nothingness
The best way I can describe how I have been feeling in recent weeks is, its like I have checked out. My mind has gone, left the building. I all of a sudden don’t feel anymore, I don’t care anymore, I don’t care what happens to me , I don’t care whats going on around me, I’m not really listening when people are speaking to me. Its like I am just surrounded by white noise.
If you know me personally, you will know that I am not the most sociable of people at the best of times, it is just how I prefer it, but recently I have found it increasingly difficult to engage in the simplest of communication, even with people close to me. It is like I go to speak , but then I just don’t. I go to laugh, but then I just don’t. I don’t feel sad, it has gone beyond sadness, it’s just like a big black hole of nothingness. It is a feeling of numbness, feeling dead behind the eyes, but somehow your body is still showing up, your limbs are still moving.
I havent purposefully not been getting help, I haven’t really got a problem talking about my feelings. I didn’t make a conscious decision to ignore the signs. I guess because I haven’t gone from being happy to being sad, because I was already sad I just thought I was getting sadder, until one day I started to feel nothing. As I sit here now and look back on recent weeks I have been functioning in a trance like state, as soon as I get out of bed I am willing the day to be over so I can get back into bed. I outwardly sigh when I open my eyes on a morning and realise I have to go through the motions again, it’s the most exhausted I have ever felt in my life and ironically its the most inactive I have ever been.
Things that I used to take pleasure in , I no longer do , things that make me who I am, exercise being a major one. I have just stopped. I became to feel like I was doing everything and enjoying nothing, so then at some point I just decided I may as well do nothing, everything became pointless, a waste of time, and before you know it weeks have gone by and you have just been swirling around in a whirlpool of nothingness.
So its been two days now since I went to the doctors. I got myself into a situation on Monday where I just couldn’t keep holding on, I couldn’t keep pretending. I couldn’t hold it together, you could have offered me a million pounds on Monday as long as I could hold things together until the end of the day, and I would have not been able to do it. I was at the end of the road.
One of the excuses that I kept on telling myself was I wasn’t registered with a local doctor in the area yet, and I didn’t have time to do so blah blah. The reality is I walked into the GP asked for registration forms , registered and got an emergency appointment the following day. I have now started medication and have already spoken to a therapist.
The whole process took less than 48 hours. The first question I have been asked is do I feel better for going?. The honest answer is I feel less burdened, so yes I feel better. I feel like I have taken back some control. Do I feel like all my problems are solved? No. Have those dark thoughts left me? , No. Do I think I will give them the head space I have been giving them in recent weeks?, to that , as I sit here now I can honestly say, No I don’t. I don’t feel as desperate as I did. I feel a sense of validation that given what I have been through , my emotions and feelings are valid ones, that they are only natural.
It has been said to me now on more than one occasion in the last couple of days that because I was probably running off adrenaline, stress, shock in the initial months that followed the instances that turned my world upside down overnight , that I haven’t truly dealt with them, and that is why they are coming to the surface more and more in recent months, they are almost screaming to be dealt with.
The question to ask yourself is this, and this has also been put to me this week in different ways by different people. If I had broken my arm last September would I have spent the past year with a broken arm flopping around hoping for it to get better?. Well the answer is obviously no I would have gone to the hospital, So why did I not afford my mind the same courtesy?.
It is on that note I will sign off, as this has been a long post, or it feels like it has. I just really hope that if you are out there , reading this and any of this resonates with you. Please please please go and talk to someone. The first step is the hardest but it is the most important.
Lets keep fighting together.
Thanks for reading.
With love as always