I saw my psychiatrist today and wasn’t surprised to find my case is now under the ‘unwell’ tab and a case worker has been assigned to check in throughout the week between appointments, presumably to make sure I’m not hanging from the lampshade.
When I got showered and dressed this morning, I was sure I could pass for a ‘normal’ person, I looked smart, and my speech wasn’t slurred. I walked normally, and appeared by all intents and purposes a typical 35 year old woman (although I often pass younger than my age!). This is why I have struggled so much over the years, because on the surface, I can pass for all right. I have to physically break down, have snot pouring out of my nose, eyes puffy from unrelenting wails of crying and not be able to talk before people generally consider me unwell. It comes in part from pride, but also my parents have been clear about not showing weakness, the whole ‘stiff upper lip’ and martyring on. To that end, I have been guilty about ignoring the precursors to becoming unwell, or trying to defeat the symptoms. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been decreasing my attendance at university, not responding to messages, and avoiding going out. Then, my showering cuts down, dressing in clean ‘day’ clothes and finally the all consuming thoughts of self loathing and suicide. I had tried so hard to be the diligent independent woman, studying, working, evening courses, weekend courses. I was determined to show the world that nothing could bring me down. But the truth is, I’m still very much trying to learn to live alone again after years of being married and sharing space with another person. Thoughts, concerns, anecdotes, experiences, decisions, nothing has been made as an individual. Now I am thrust into a world where I live in a rental house again, I am responsible for the running of the bills, living my life without anyone in the background. I’ve certainly experienced the anger, denial, and I thought acceptance. But in fact I was working hard to bury my feelings (aside from lamenting in my blog) and showing the outside world how I had it sorted. Initially the migraine led to rest – which was clearly needed. Days of rest my body had craved for, but then the quick slide to depression. The unwillingness to start again, to find motivation, to care.
I realised my thoughts were becoming increasingly dark and I was isolating far too much. And the things I cared about, study, courses, friends – all deserted. So while I thought in the waiting room – the first time out in DAYS, I passed for normal, when I met my psychiatrist it was clear, I was far from normal.
It was hard to articulate sentences, my mind was thick and foggy. My memory was shocking, I’d forget what I was saying, or forget days. My energy was used up in that appointment, despite having slept right up until the time. The dr knew, and I knew, it was a low. I was back into a depressive state. We talked about medication going forwards and I’ve now had the Effexor put to its maximum, as well daily olanzapine. I declined the lithium on the basis I didn’t need or want the maintenance blood tests at the moment.
I felt weak, I felt pathetic, but I also felt grateful for being honest. To name it, to look for medications and ways to help myself. And when the dr told me that I needed to rest for at least the next 2-3 weeks, I felt committed to that. Although its been engrained in me that I should be up and cleaning and exercising and living a life ignoring the depression, I’ve done it in the past – and it hasn’t worked. I’m desperate to get better, and I’m desperate to do it right.
Naturally I’m bitterly disappointed. I really thought with regular medications, having a distraction and keeping busy I would never experience a low again. But its inevitable. I have a mental illness. I can have periods, wonderful long periods of ‘normal’ life. But separation isn’t normal and moving house is notoriously stressful. Add my mental health into the mix, and its a recipe for repercussions, even with all the best will in the world.
Of course, I completely understand anyone that would tell me to get over it. I look as I have already stated completely normal. But I’m tired, extremely tired, I’m anxious, very anxious. I literally feel people are looking at me and talking about me. I feel like a monster. I have flashbacks of the trauma, unexpected flashes that make me feel confused, my throat tightens, I can’t breathe and I feel afraid. I cry all the time, I can stare into space for hours and not realise. In fact, I have no idea what this blog entry says – I’ve just written it without thinking about it. I’ll have no memory of it later.
There have been some beautiful sunny days as Spring comes our way. I know because my iPhone tells me the weather. But to me, it is grey. To me, there is no desire to head out and walk in the sun. To me, my bedroom is my safe haven.
I WILL GET THROUGH THIS.