If you suffer with a mental illness you know what its like to have to take some time off work. Recently, that happened to me. I hit the wall…hard and couldn’t carry on my day to day life no more. It was inevitable, for months I was a ticking time bomb, doing everything at 100mph just to avoid being in my own head. I NEVER took time for myself and I mean NEVER, relaxing was a thing of the past. I tried to watch films, tv and do the things “normal” people did to relax, but when you cant concentrate on something and miss most of whats going on it all gets pretty pointless. Anyway, usually anxiety is the domineering bitch, but I manage to keep her quiet with mindfulness techniques. Instead, meet depression, she’s the soul sucking bitch and this was the worst spell of depression I’d ever had; my busy day to day life came crashing down on me and I was forced to start from scratch, build myself back up. That’s the problem with having both anxiety and depression; they fight each other, all day, everyday. I’m exhausted in the day from depression, but I can’t shut my mind off because of my anxiety.
The first few days I slept, all day, everyday. Now I know this sounds AMAZING right? sleep all day, its like I’m a student again, I wish. By nature I’m not a lazy person, but I didn’t want to get up, I didn’t want to see anyone, I didn’t want to function. But it was what I needed after exhausting myself, I spent this time focusing on doing things i enjoyed.. baking, training and most importantly LEARNING TO SAY NO. I began to take myself away from situations that would heighten my anxiety. No I wasn’t secluding myself, I was simply doing what I actually wanted to do instead of exhausting myself trying to please everyone else.
Two weeks later after mostly days of sleeping, recharging my batteries and some tough love from family and friends, I’m ready to face the world again. Naturally, the first few days back at work was slow by my working standards but I couldn’t concentrate…standard. That was the easy part, the hardest was the meetings. Try to sit in a room and explain to people, what its like to have a mental illness. Yes they sympathise, but they’ll never understand. That’s not their fault, but unless you’ve been through it you have no idea what its like. Instead, I’m sat there feeling like I wish I had a bandage or cuts or scars to show because right now in that moment all I felt was the need to convince them that there is something wrong with me. Why should it have to be like that? Why are people scared of what they cant see? But that’s the stigma right? “don’t believe what you cant see?” I shouldn’t be made to feel like I’m lying, I shouldn’t feel the need to convince others that there’s something wrong with me. It gets to a point where my anxiety kicks into overdrive and I’m thinking is there even anything wrong with me?
No one with that condition should be put in a situation where they are made to feel like that.
The first thing I did after those meetings is write this. I don’t like talking about my condition to anyone, but I find writing really helps its a way of expressing my emotion, without being emotional. Most importantly, I do it because I think if I’m feeling that way, there must be so many other people who have experienced the same situation. I do it to help others understand, to help others not feel alone, because I know how it feels to read or see that someone out there is going through the same thing you are. I used to hide my mental illness, but now, as I know writing about it has helped others I don’t care anymore, because its no longer about me.
I’m the most fortunate person in the world to be blessed with my family and friends, my heart goes out to people who go through a mental illness alone. I’m a strong person, but I couldn’t do it, without them I wouldn’t be here.