7 Months. 30 Weeks. 211 Days.

That’s how long I have bIts Been a Whileeen signed off from work with panic attacks and depression and I’ve just been signed off for an additional 4 weeks. Struggling to get out of bed, a sudden irrational fear of talking on the phone, panic attacks and tears galore, a hypersensitivity to sound and sudden movement: the flat buzzer, the wind against the windows, the noise and rush of traffic, even having the TV on has become troublesome with anything unexpected or loud being enough to send me into a world of panic. Every day is exhausting as I go back and forth between feeling numb and drifting into a faraway state of nothingness, to my heart racing as anxiety and panic attacks take over leaving me in a heap of hyperventilation and tears. All I want is to be able to go to sleep in the hope that once the sun rises it leaves all of the pain and the suffering behind. It never does.  One pill to try to make me feel better but takes weeks to kick in, one pill to try to calm me down which makes me feel drowsy but is not enough to get me to sleep, and one pill to help the insomnia (because despite being fatigued beyond belief my brain would like to torture me some more and refuses to let me sleep) but makes me feel sick in the morning.

::

These past months have felt like an eternity. Call a friend they say- unable to use the phone. Go for a walk they say- too scared to leave the house. Make yourself a cup of tea they say- buried too deep in a pit of despair to even get out of bed. Read a book they say- unable to focus on anything. Watch a movie they say- panic because something unexpected happens or aimlessly stare at the screen seeing but not watching, hearing but not listening. The list is endless.

::

Mental health is such a crippling illness. It took me weeks to even make it to the doctors because I couldn’t get myself out of bed. Months later and my appointments are still only made when C is able to go with me to console the tears and provide the pep talks and assurances on route. Things are improving, slowly, very slowly, in all honesty too slowly. Each day comes with its own obstacles and frustrations, its reasons for uncontrollable tears, its reasons for not moving from bed, its reasons for lashing out, its reasons for not saying a word, its reasons for panic, its reasons for wanting to give up, its reasons for being angry. Sometimes they are old reasons and sometimes they are new reasons- sometimes they are for no reason at all. PTSD, anxiety, depression, panic attacks; the statistics of just how many of us suffer from some form of mental illness in our lifetime is disheartening and those reading this will probably know someone with mental health struggles or have experienced some themselves.

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I was first diagnosed in 2011 and as a result had to leave studying to focus on my health. After years of being healthier and being able to get on with life it has been completely demoralising to find myself back in such a dark place. Panic attacks and anxiety were something I still had to deal with every now and again but it was more than manageable and I was in a good place. I know I am getting better or I wouldn’t be sitting here typing this, but it’s hard to see the progress when you feel like everything is falling apart and every synonym of the word despair pretty much sums you up. To say things are still difficult would be an understatement, but I guess all you can do is take it one day at a time.

“Life has moments that feel as if the sun has blackened to tar and the entire world turned to ice.  It feels as if Hades and his vile demons have risen from the depths of Tartarus solely for the purpose of banding to personally torture you, and that their genuine intent of mental, emotional, and spiritual anguish is tearing you to shreds.  Your heart weighs as heavily as leaden legs which you would drag yourself forward with if not for the quicksand that pulls you down inch by inch, paralyzing your will and threatening oblivion.  And all the while fire and brimstone pour from the sky, pelting only you.

Truly, that is what it feels like. But that feeling is a trial that won’t last forever.  Never give up.”

― Richelle E. Goodrich, Smile Anyway

4 comments

  1. Your words paint such a strong picture of what you are going through and that must have been difficult to express. I am really sorry you are going through all of that. It’s so important to talk as much and as often as you can about issues like this, and it’s a credit to your strength that you are.
    It can be the most disheartening time, to feel as though you have reverted back to the start of all of this, however please try and remember that you aren’t at the start and you never will be back there again – because every time you experience a dip, big or small, you will learn that bit more about yourself and the feelings you are having, and in turn keep learning more about how to help yourself manage them and deal with it.

    It might not always feel like it at the time, but you are strong, getting stronger and always will be.

    Stay strong, T

    Ben

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Timna,

    We barely know each other, in fact, we’ve only met three times, once at Blair Bowmans ‘Whisky Tube’ book launch, 2nd time at The Gin Awards at the end of last year and once at a gin stand at a Gin Fest in where you were working behind the gin stand at the Corn Exchange.

    Anyway…thank you for sharing your story, I’ve felt down in the past and except my parents and one friend (who could tell from the change in my behaviour), I have never actually told other people. It was a prolonged challenging time in my life and I never wanted to fully burden anyone with my thoughts, let alone my friends and therefore, I mostly suffered in silence. During that experience, often my better times were when I was asleep dreaming where all worries faded away and happy memories/fantasies were seemingly boundless but then I would wake-up and suddenly, reality would return like a flood that carried an emptiness and despair.

    For over 2 years now, I have since felt better and I just want to say that you are more brave than I am and that with you, beauty is not just skin deep. Maybe, if we cross paths again, I’ll say hello, maybe not but I’ll smile at you and realise that there are other people who I have met, have also suffered mental health issues.

    You may be able to identify me (via my email address haha) but I would prefer to remain anonymous.

    Roo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Roo,

      I’m sorry you’ve experienced your own hardships.
      Believe it or not my parents still don’t know- home is like an escapism where I apparently still have a job and all is well… I don’t think my parents would be able to cope if they found out so it’s my other half and my brother that have been, and continue to be my rock and my support.

      I am not braver than you are- never compare your struggles or “severity” of them with anyone ever. It is impossible to measure struggles and experiences against one another until you yourself have endured them and know how you felt in each experience.
      Each individual experiences incidents in their life differently, has a different tolerance and copes in their own way. Never compare yourself, ever.

      Whether you smile at me or not, I'll be sure to smile at you.

      Take Care,
      T x

      Like

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