“I just wanna throw my phone away/Find out who is really there for me…”
– Part Of Me, Katy Perry
When things get bad again there is nothing I’d rather be than normal.
I’d love to be able to look back at my day and see the good things in it, rather than be overwhelmed by the bad. I’d love to be able to go to bed without crying for at least 20 minutes beforehand. I’d love to be able to ignore a stupid pop-up on my laptop rather than let it send me into a major anxiety episode. I’d love to be able to muster the energy to turn my bedroom light out so I could sleep better. I’d love to be able to look forward to things rather than let even the nicest things fill me with dread.
But here’s the thing, I’m not normal. I don’t think anyone is. But when you suffer from mental illness it’s hard to do the day-to-day things (everyone knows that, it’s basically the first chapter in “How To Have Depression 101”). What people don’t necessarily tell you is, when you’re in the middle of an episode, you’ll hate yourself even more for failing at those so-called simple things.
When I’m low I find the following things easy:
- Staring at the ceiling until my vision blurs because I’ve forgotten to blink
- Over-thinking things to the point of taking any fun out of them
- Not eating enough
- Eating too much
- Not asking for help
- Convincing myself I shouldn’t ask for help because people are asleep/I shouldn’t ruin their happiness with my sadness
People are there to help, that’s an undisputable fact. But when you’re low – or, at least, when I’m low – I physically can’t tell those people how much I need them. My best friend could be fast asleep and if I tried to call them, I’d wake them up and they’d hate me…right?
I have physical tells when I’m down. I play with my hands a lot, pushing my left thumb into my right palm. I move my head a lot but keep my eyes in the same place. I scratch my shoulders or my neck.
I know all these things about myself. I know when I’m in a downward spiral. I know how to recognise these signs happening. I wrote the owner’s manual on “Rosa’s Mental Health”. But I don’t know how to stop it from happening. I notice one sign and I basically give up and just let it happen.
I went to an appointment at the local psychiatric hospital a few years ago and they told me I was too self-aware to need their help. They also told me I was “too well dressed to be depressed” which will definitely be the title of my autobiography if I ever write one. But the idea that if you know you’re in a downward spiral then you don’t need anyone’s help to pull you out of it is complete bullshit. Sorry to be blunt. I haven’t the faintest idea about how to pull myself out of things like this.
The typical response to me feeling like this is for people to ask me if I’m still taking my medication – a completely caring response which is often very welcome. But what happens when the answer to that question is “yes, I’ve taken them every day since the doctor gave me them”? My depression is pushing through everything I’m throwing at it and sometimes it can feel too hard to fight. So I let it weigh me down until I’m lying over my covers with my main bedroom light blaring at 3am because I can’t blink to clear my vision enough to move and turn it off.
Mental health is a messy and uncomfortable thing: for those experiencing it, this is a complete understatement.
If someone you know is acting differently to you’re used to and it’s worrying you – ask them if they’re doing okay. It could just make them feel a little better.
Until the next post,