You’d think after suffering with varying types and degrees of depression for 15 years that I would know the illness inside and out. That I knew my triggers (I do), how to avoid them (for the most part) and how to get myself out from rock bottom (that still evades me) but as I sit here in bed typing this I’m struck by how quickly my emotions have turned against me in a matter of hours through no fault of my own.
It’s a Monday and despite a lovely weekend filled with friendships and sun, today life feels exceptionally painful.
Today I feel every difficult breath as though the black dog sits directly on my chest.
Today I feel hopeless. And scared. And a fraud.
Many people have told me over the years and, indeed over the last few months since launching this site, that I am an incredibly strong woman and when I look back at 2014 alone, in principle I would have to agree. But as I sit here confused, upset and in pain again, I wonder what the word ‘strong’ truly means for those of us who suffer. Does it mean trying to breathe when you no longer want to? Admitting that you need help and asking for it? Deciding to leave this world to be rid of pain?
Many would argue that it is continuing to live when you don’t want or feel able to but then I sit there and ponder the eternal question of a depressive; if we don’t want to continue living, why do we? They say in life that we shouldn’t live our lives for others but if we can’t live it for ourselves no matter how much we are loved, how are we expected to continue? It’s the ‘chicken and the egg’ of the mental health world.
They say that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem but after 15 years, there is nothing about this that feels temporary. In the sense of mental illness, I will be sick, on and off, for the rest of my life. Remind me how that’s temporary? We will get days, weeks or even months where life feels good (I’ve been the most content and happy I remember being since moving to Bondi) and we can continue to live with the daily ups and downs that the ‘sane society’ experience but many of us will always return to this. Always have a black cloud that lives within our heads ready to rain on our parade.
Last October, as I wrote, was one of the most difficult yet beautiful months I have experienced but since landing a good job at the beginning of November, I have been the happiest I remember being since Africa. As in, happy and content almost every single day. But I have been run by a background fear. As much as I adore Bondi, one of the biggest reasons I take a daily run along the coastal path or beach is because I don’t want to take any of it for granted for fear it will be snatched away from me again. Despite my gentle fears however, I have been in love with life recently. I have discovered new suburbs, places to eat, met up with friends and am in love with my home. I never thought the words ‘I love my life’ would ever leave my mouth and I’m both amazed and astounded that I made my dreams come true.
And yet, as I face life each day, I realise that my breakdown changed me in ways I’m still discovering and it leaves me with scars I don’t yet know how to heal. Before my breakdown, I didn’t have anxieties but my mind is becoming overrun by them. I crave stability, a direction and plans and I’m coming to the realisation that indefinite travel doesn’t suit me after all. That what I crave are extended adventure holidays being able to return to a base. I crave, above else, a family of my own, something else which I find elusive. I crave minimal stress so that my world can remain calm even if my mind can’t. Where once my mind were quiet with depression, it is now deafening with anxieties and a combination of the two is hard to ignore on days like today even if I felt okay when my head hit my pillow last night.
And this is why I understand why so many people struggle to contemplate how and why their loved ones suffer. Last night I went to bed tired but content. I woke up this morning and life felt difficult from the moment my eyes opened. I had an average night’s sleep, no nightmares and I wasn’t consciously worried so what changed? Truthfully I have no idea and that is what is so intently difficult about this illness particularly when I am someone who craves to have their curiosity quenched and questions answered.
So I wonder. Since my breakdown, is it safe for me to travel when my mind constantly flickers to the default setting of suicide? Is it safe for me to put myself under huge continual stress of the ‘unknown’ physically, financially, emotionally and mentally when I can’t seem to deal with it any longer? Is it really that safe for me to be so very far away from home and its comforts as much as leaving it makes me happy? I wish I knew but I don’t. Whilst I used to always think about the future and try and plan in a certain direction, I am so terrified of it currently that I am forced to live in the present but I’m a planner and so moving forward without one or any sense of direction is truly upsetting. However, thinking about the future stands me on the edge of a dark hole I don’t know if I’d return from so soon after last time. So I ignore the future as much as it pains me though the present currently offers no more positive emotions.
For reasons I don’t even know, today hurts.
I feel abandoned. Lonely. Unloved.
And yet I have family and friends that love me even if I don’t always speak to them. But I’m lonely.
I’m lonely because I don’t have a man to share my life with and I feel unloved because of it. Yes I have friends but there is a loneliness that comes from wanting a relationship and not being in one and I’m struggling with it however many times I hear platitudes of ‘it will happen when you least expect it’.
I’m struggling with all of it right now.
As much as I enjoy writing and I believe that this website could be successful with the right ‘leader’, I feel I’m failing it and, by extension, myself and you. I have received so many wonderful comments, emails and Facebook messages from you over the last few months that it reduces me to tears when I’m emotional and yet I feel I am letting everyone down by not knowing how to move forward with it.
I feel stuck. In every direction I look. And that makes life painful right now.
So I’m going to close my eyes, fall asleep and hope that tomorrow I find the strength to keep going.