This is the blog post that I’ve been most eager to write since I decided to set up this blog. When creating this site for myself, I wanted to ensure that I could use this as a platform to promote being more open about mental health as I feel as though it is still a little ‘taboo’ to talk about. What better time to write this post than at midnight on a weekday whilst being in one of the worst states I’ve been in for a long while?
For as long as I can remember I’ve suffered with varying levels of mental health issues. I am officially diagnosed with severe generalised anxiety, chronic depression, OCD, complex phobia and borderline personality disorder. A long list for a 19 year old, right? I was diagnosed with all of this by the age of 13, which is absolutely terrifying to think about. A 13 year old, already suffering that much, with literally no hope for curing anything in the future.
Doctors, therapists, psychiatrists and counsellors have all told me the same thing – “it’s learnt behaviour”, “it’ll go over time”, “just do your breathing exercises and be fine”, “you’re just being stubborn”, “you don’t seem to even want to get better”. Yes, all of this advice has helped me these last few years and changed my life (not). In fact, my mental health has continued to deteriorate over the years, and I’ve slowly become somewhat of a recluse during bad spells of mental health.
The main trigger for my anxiety to really take a hold in my mind was during high school. I was so horrendously bullied that I attempted suicide more than once and carved my own arms up to feel the pain I felt I deserved. I was spat on, beaten, threatened. I was made to feel worthless. The three high schools I went to did nothing, and each new school I went to had some link to the previous one, so the bullying continued relentlessly. I was told to leave one school because it was easier to kick me out than deal with the bullies. I had groups of people watch my house and bang on the door when they knew I was the only one home. I had to be escorted on and off school property by a police officer straight to/from my mothers car. Eventually, we all realised that enough was enough and I left school. I have 2 English GCSE’s to my name and nothing else. It ruined me. It ruined potential future prospects and has crippled me even now, to the point where I’m constantly checking over my shoulder in case someone is watching me and I’m nervous to no end when I’m at home alone. I can’t even hold a job. I will always be fat and ugly, no matter what changes I make to my appearance. I will always be that person that feels like nobody wants to talk to them or be their friend, and is paranoid that if someone is their friend, they’re only being friendly because of an ulterior motive. It ruined me, and I don’t think there’s any coming back from it.
I want to quickly apologise if this blog post switches sub-topics a lot, my mind is currently going at 100mph and I’m refusing to edit this and typing as though I’m speaking to someone directly in front of me. I want this to be real. I don’t want to spend ages editing this, making sure it makes perfect sense. I want you to read what I am experiencing and how I am feeling and thinking right now.
Now, whilst my heart is pounding in my chest, whilst my stomach aches and cramps, whilst nausea rises in my throat, whilst I feel like I want to rip my soul out of my body to ease at least a small bit of the terror and fear that I feel for no reason that I can comprehrend.
Now, whilst my head feels heavy and fuzzy, whilst my brain feels like something is zapping it, whilst my tongue feels swollen in my own mouth because of some impending danger that I can’t quite place.
Now, whilst I hyperventilate, whilst I claw at my chest, Whilst I rip at my hair and dig my nails into my own skin to feel something other than anxiety.
God, I’m absolutely terrified to post this. What must you all think of the crazy girl outing her mental health issues for all to see? Why do I care what anyone thinks? It is okay to feel like this. It happens. People suffer less than me, worse than me, the same as me. People feel this way too sometimes, and that is okay. It’s okay. It’ll be okay. It has to be. It can’t last forever. It won’t.
The worst thing is that I don’t even know why I am so scared and anxious. Nothing has happened to make me feel this way. The phobic anxiety set in a few hours ago – perhaps I’m anxious because I’m unwell, or someone else around me is unwell. Should I avoid everyone just in case someone is unwell? Have I got some kind of sixth sense to illness, and is my body getting anxious a way of that sixth sense coming out? God, it’s ridiculous. Of course, none of this is the case. I’m fine, I have physical symptoms of anxiety and I know it. Everyone else feels fine – I’ve asked them all a hundred times. Emetephobia is awful. It’s killing me. Phobia of sickness. Not the common cough or cold, but actual vomiting. Even typing the word triggers me to no avail and makes me think I’m somehow jinxing myself by typing/thinking/saying/hearing/seeing it. It fuels my anxiety. ‘Is someone sick?’ is the first thing I ask when I hear my family talking out of earshot. Whenever someone says they feel sick, even if it’s an online person I don’t speak to from another country on Facebook, it triggers anxiety. When it’s someone I’m in physical contact with it sets me off for weeks. I don’t even think I can go into more detail than that right now, it makes me anxious to even talk about. It’s a ridiculous phobia and it rules my life and my OCD is a byproduct of that.
For years, I wouldn’t eat meat because I was terrified of food poisoning. I wash my hands 6 or 7 times in one go to make sure they’re properly clean. I won’t touch a knife, chopping board or surface that’s had raw meat on it until it has been used again at least once. I even bought myself my own plates, cups and mugs to make sure nothing had touched it. I read an article about how raw flour and rice makes people sick, so didn’t go near those either. I’m getting better though – I cook meat and eat it (albeit that I overcook it massively) now and again and I love eating rice (although I cook it until its a little mushy) and I bake a lot. Small steps, I suppose. Little victories. I remember being around 6, and being in class when a fellow student threw up in the hallway. Everyone ran out to go see and say “Ewwwww” at the mess on the floor. I curled up in the corner of the room and freaked out – I only recently realised that this was probably my first real anxiety attack.
I don’t really know why I’m still typing. I suppose it feels good, finally writing how I feel in my head down somewhere so that people can read it and know that they aren’t alone.
I take medication every day. The header image is what I take. A nice cocktail of pills before bed in an attempt to make myself happy and less anxious, only to sit up all night panicking anyway. Panicking or crying, although both is usually the case these days. 7 pills to try and make myself feel something that most ‘normal’ people feel without the need for these.
Why am I not normal? Why do I have to have these awful hidden illnesses that make me feel crazy?
Then again, what is normal? In my anxious, depressed brain, normal is the opposite of me. Someone who can go out daily without being terrified in case they get ill, someone who can cook and eat meat without panicking for days in fear of food poisoning, someone who doesn’t need drugs to make them feel a little better, someone that doesn’t have hands that constantly bleed from copious amounts of hand washing. Anyone that isn’t me.
I have awful habits when I’m freaking out – the most notable being what Charlie and I call the ‘flappy arms’, during which I flap my arms about and say “Oh God, I’m really panicking”. Next is the continious question “Do I feel warm, look pale or seem off?” or “I’m not ill, am I?” whilst forcing everyone around me to feel my forehead and look at me under various lighting in the house. I scratch my chest – more like claw at it. I give myself a blood rash under my skin from clawing so much. I’ve also given my hair a lot of issues from raking my hands through it and tugging it when I’m anxious. I have small scars from where I’ve dug my nails so hard into my skin that I bleed.
My mental health issues make me lazy. So lazy that I sometimes refuse to do anything except lay in bed and scroll aimlessly through my phone until it’s time to make Charlie his dinner, if I even bother to do that. I was never a lazy person before, I loved being productive and doing things, forcing myself to go out daily just to be busy because I hated doing nothing. Now I love doing nothing. It doesn’t put me at risk of being in a situation that could make me anxious and cause me to spiral down even further.
I’ve been writing this post for nearly an hour, and I know I should stop, but I don’t know how to end this. I wanted this to turn out to be motivational, but my anxiety doesn’t seem to want to let up tonight, so I guess I’ll have to end this in the best way I can.
Although it doesn’t seem like it, it does get better. It truly does. I’ve seen many people overcome it. Sometimes it takes a month, sometimes a year, sometimes 40 years, but it does eventually get better. I promise. I know I’ll get better eventually, and I know I won’t stop fighting until it does.
I’m going to write a ‘diary’ entry here whenever I have a flare up. I will also be talking about my mental health when I’m calm, so you can all see things from a different perspective in the same mind. I want everyone to know what it’s like to live with these illnesses. I want it to be okay to talk about, because it is okay. It’s okay to not be okay, because someday you will be okay.