So…apparently you need to hit rock bottom before you can bounce back up again.
The thing is I’ve always been afraid to do that – afraid I will stretch the elastic that is the fabrics of my life and there won’t be the bounce left to pull me back up again.
So I’ve always stopped myself from hitting the bottom, I’ve sure flirted with it in my lifetime but I’ve never actually met it. I’ve seen people who have. Not all of them have ended with a ‘happily ever after.’ Now this would get many people saying that there is no such thing as a ‘happily ever after’ or a ‘happy ending.’ To me that is just a depressing way to think – you have to have a little magic and a little make believe in your life.
‘Every day I tell myself a little harmless lie, the whole wide world is mine.’ – Blink182
Throw into the mix the upbringing of a traditional English family and you get that stiff upper lip thing about not admitting that things are sometimes just not ok. It’s seen as a flaw, but to me it seems more of a character flaw to not admit that sometimes things are not ok. We are not super human. We learn by our mistakes, we learn and grow from the bad times, we only know our own strength by the forces that knock us down. If life was ‘just peachy’ all the time – you wouldn’t be overly happy because that feeling would become the norm’. So, in a nutshell, not being ok all of the time is a good thing.
But what about when you find it’s not just some of the time? What about when you suddenly realise you can’t remember the last time you felt ‘great’? Or the last time you woke up feeling refreshed? What about when you realise that your thoughts are darker than any cave you’ve been in, darker than any highway at night or blacker than any night sky you’ve seen?
What about when you realise that despite all that you have learnt about yourself, you just don’t know what to do with the information that you have? My doctor told me that she has never known someone counsel themselves as well as I have and that when I find out what to do with all that I have learnt I am going to be a force of nature.
I like the thought of being a force of nature.
I think I just need to have someone show me the right path to choose to get there because it feels as though my shoe laces are tied and every turn I take I just end up tripping myself up.
I am not used to this. By nature I’ve always been the girl that will say it’s all ok and only take her mask off when alone in her room. I will fake it until I feel it for real. I always wake up full of excitement for the day ahead, each day a new challenge, a fresh start, full of possibility. I am the girl that is almost annoying in her quest to find the positive in something. A fixer upper. It’s new to me to not have that bounce in my step, not to have that happy flair running through me all day. I am not used to not knowing what to do.
The scary thing is – this is not something that happened over night. I realise now that it’s been the last 4 years, things have slowly been chipping away at me until I feel so raw that everything near me hurts.
So why am I writing this? Why am I showing you all my rawness? Well, it is cathartic for one. Should I post it? Who knows. The thing is – I am so tired of pretending things are ok. So bored of everyone doing that. I think it’s time we were all a bit more honest with ourselves and each other. It’s ok to be down sometimes. It’s ok to need help. I am supposed to be an adult but the truth is I still lose my way – I still have no idea what I am doing from one minute to the next. And that’s ok.
What’s not ok is that I have a fear of hitting the bottom but I have decided to let myself do that. Does that sound too controlled? Well it’s not. I feel I have no choice. For once I am free falling with no idea how to stop it. No idea how to put the brakes on. All I can do is brace myself for the inevitable impact and hope I take out as few things as possible. I want my landing to be gentle. I have my fears it won’t be. But I am hoping by being honest with myself and anyone who cares to read this that maybe I can lessen the impact of my fall. I won’t break; I will just bruise a little.
So what has happened in the last 4 years or so to trigger this downward spiral?
Many good things – believe me – many good things have happened. But the bad things are the ones that have obviously tripped me up.
I’ve had two people really close to me go through really bad depressions. That’s affected me and I’ve tried to help and I want to praise them both for how well they are doing.
My Granddad recently died. I miss him. What he went through towards the end sucked. This affected me.
My Father has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and his cancer is back – you better believe this has affected me.
I have been long term sick, ill for over 6 years – but I am getting there. I’ve documented before the tip of the iceberg of what I have been going through – you are right – this has affected me too –more than I realised. I am still trying to get my anaemia and energy levels sorted. I am exhausted all the time. I still have some tumours that are draining me of nutrients and cause discomfort. They mess with your hormones, so yes, like it or not these are affecting me.
A few months ago I was the victim of an assault. I am waiting for physio for torn tissues in my shoulder and neck, I am on medication for the head pains and there is the consciousness of the head injury – thankfully my hair is growing back, most don’t notice it but I do.
So yeah – there has been a lot to deal with in the last few years.
I don’t expect sympathy or anything for any of the above as it is called life, shit happens, just like things sparkle sometimes too.
So please don’t think it’s all been bad. I’ve seen a close friend get married to her perfect person, I’ve embarked on a counselling course, I’ve passed a writing course, I’ve written my first novel, I’ve won a competition for some writing that I did, I have had many wonderful moments with friends and loved ones, and I am alive, there are so many things to be grateful for. And I am.
The thing is I know that the road is getting darker – the light at the end of the tunnel is looking very dim right now and that is something I wanted to explore.
Tell me how you get yourself out of that moment? Tell me your tales of hitting the bottom and getting back up again. I am also reaching out to people to let them know we all struggle – no one is immune. I will update this as well as I am determined to get better and get to my happy old self again.
One thing that I know I have really struggled with is friends and doubting myself too much. At the height of my illness I quit a job to focus on getting better. I thought I was firmly on the road to recovery, got out all the job papers, went to an interview, got the job and thought the rest would be history.
I have a lovely group of friends that I am so grateful for – they are a wonderful mix of characters and they have really been there for me and I thank them a million times over for being them. I had another group of friends that I really thought would be friends for life. I got ill. I didn’t know what was wrong. At one point I was told by a doctor to prepare myself as they thought I had cancer. It was just before Christmas. I told one friend and kept it to myself. Thankfully it turned out not to be cancerous tumours. Phew. But I was still ill, too ill to leave the house on many occasions. I had an iron reading lower than a nurse had ever seen for someone still walking. But believe me I couldn’t do that easily. I had to rest after every 3 steps climbed. And my friends were asking me why I wasn’t going out clubbing? Why I wasn’t going to their events? I had no answer at the time other than I was exhausted, I was ill but I didn’t know what was going on. I felt that some people didn’t believe me and thought I was making excuses. I had an operation. I fucked it on the operating table but obviously came back round. I came out of hospital. My boyfriend was there for me. My family was there for me….some friends were there for me….but not all. I took it personally. I felt so let down.
I felt like I had been a really bad judge of character. I felt like I was a bad person for friends to abandon me in my neediest moment. It made me wary of my judgement of people. I found I was thinking I must be a bad person and how no one could like me. I never really admitted these feelings out loud, maybe if I had done so then many things could’ve been solved. Maybe I sound silly for saying all this but this is how it was. Sadly I’ve let it eat away at me. I am constantly worried of having nothing to say, of not being good enough, of being a bad person, even when I know I am not, I am scared of letting people get close. I’ve only just realised how bad that has become. I see pictures of my old friends out together and they look happy and I love them. But they hurt me. That’s the honest truth. And I stupidly let that get to me.
I quit the job I was in to focus on getting better. I found a job near to home, it was a lovely place and I thought I was finally getting back to being me. But the thing I didn’t take into account was that I was in an office on my own. So 5 years into this job I feel like I don’t really know my colleagues. This is new to me and it bothers me as I’ve always made friends in every job I’ve been in. I bounce off people so putting me on my own means I shut down. You miss the day to day banter and I’m quite a sensitive person (you may have noticed) so it means I used to miss out on all the invites to going out – so yeah I took it personally.
I kicked myself up the bum and decided to stop being stupid and to make sure I found out about things and went, not wait to be asked but do the asking. So I went out a few times with work and had a nice time. The attack happened. It left me with serious concussion and head pain, vision problems and a huge patch of hair was missing (thank god for my mom passing on the genetics to have huge hair). Over drinks at work we were all having an innocent joke when one person turned to me and said something really low. On the outside I laughed. Inside I was stunned. What a low blow. I spoke to a few people about it and they were floored, thought it was disgusting, nasty and way below the belt and that I would be best to steer clear of such people.
But how do I tackle this social phobia that has gripped me? How do I just accept that my ‘old friends’ and I were obviously just not meant to be, that we are all destined for other things, it’s nothing personal, why do I have to take it personally? Why do I not accept my current friends’ judgements of me as being a lovely, interesting, funny person? Why do I constantly have to fill my head with negative thoughts about myself and no doubt I am projecting my fears on to people. How do I just forget this person at work and not let their behaviour bother me? Do you ever stop doubting yourself? It’s so easy when you feel so low to just hide and not go out and just appear aloof but that’s not me and I don’t want it to be the person I become. How do you stop beating yourself up? How do you move on….wards and upwards when you feel like you are cornered by your phobias at every turn? I don’t want antidepressants – a counsellor won’t tell me anything I don’t already know – I know the causes – I just don’t know how to put them right.
If I find the answers I will share them with you all – because apparently Social Phobia is the third largest mental health issue in the world today.