LABELS AND FABLES

I don’t have any New Years Resolutions WOO! I didn’t have any last year but I decided to write down nice things that happened throughout the year (which did last a few weeks at least) and keep them in a tin. I found them the other day and it made me happy, so resolving not to make new years’ resolutions was a great plan, evidently. The ‘Rememberlutions Jar’ is a lot better than creating unrealistic expectations for myself and will help me see the positives in my life. I think I blogged about this last year but who knows. I might try to be more consistent with my blog, but I say this every few months so we’ll see. I am settling into the new routine a bit now so everything is beginning to seem more manageable (other than my body clock, which likes to be all over the place gaaaaah). Hence why I’m writing here at midnight on the first day back at work after Christmas…whoops.

I have recently become OBSESSED with YouTube – vloggers, animators, the general community, theories on channels… it is brilliant. It is with the internet that I see my life represented: there are always two extremes. The internet has been my ‘rock’ when I have been alone. There are people I can relate to, there are outlets for people to share their views, it gives me a way of keeping in contact with people when I am unable to talk or communicate effectively with those physically in the vicinity. Some might say everyone does this and it’s antisocial but it really is a great support when one is prone to anxiety. There are stupid things, fun things, educational things, videos, articles, real people, characters, spaces for everyone. The other extreme, and the fear of vlogging I have, is of course the ‘haters’. I’m not going to dwell on that – it’s self explanatory and they don’t deserve my time.

We’ll see if I get anyway…new to the whole editing thing and need to scope out what I want the aim to be so starting up a kind of silly try-out channel (Pyjama Diaries is the link if you want to check it out) to play around with some ideas while I figure out where I want the main channel to go. I mean, obviously it’s location will be youtube but in terms of metaphorically ‘going’ somewhere, I’m unsure what tone to take. I would quite like to be educational and do societal commentary-esque stuff, but there’s so many brilliant ones out there already, I think I have some brainstorming to do. I could do a spider diagram…wow this evening just got even more exciting!

AND NOW… time for the actual post…

 

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Medication myths…leave my personal drug routine for me to worry about please and stop making everything worse for everyone around you suffering from a mental illness.

So, I have a chronic illness I left untreated for about seven years that has a pretty high death rate and debilitating consequences, and I’m catching it pretty late. In any ‘normal’ situation, the question you would ask would probably be isn’t there any kind of treatment, have you tried drugs, are there any therapies available.

If the response to a diagnosis of a physical illness was ‘are you sure’, ‘I doubt any drugs specifically designed to help you will work’, ‘you’re exaggerating’…well, it would be ridiculous. Just as it is ridiculous for anyone that doesn’t have a clue what’s going on in my mind and is not a trained medical professional to try and tell me that medication is dangerous, it won’t work, I don’t need it and it’s bad for me.

WAKE UP.

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“Adulting”

Hey all, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. Because I’ve had too much going on in my present physical life to be too deeply involved in my mental one too often… so that has been good. My depression is on the upside at the moment, but the anxiety is building again. Since I last posted, I’ve moved into a flat with my wonderful partner, and we’re both in full time jobs living in a lovely area, pretty close to a bunch of friends. The period before that involved couch/bed surfing between various friends’ houses in the area, job searching, application-filling, phone conversations, flat viewings etc etc blah blah, you get the picture.

It finally feels like my actual home. I have somewhere that I am home, and I am happy. For the first time. Ever, I suppose. When we first moved in, a month ago tomorrow in fact, we didn’t have any furniture and we were on a borrowed air bed that needed blowing up every night – and we didn’t have a pump. I felt pretty tired and stressed the whole time, but the novelty of having a place to call my own was amazing. We’ve since filled the flat with furniture, had some pretty busy weekends, ordering things, building things, buying things, and have spent rather a lot. But that’s the worst of it out of the way. For good. Because now we have furniture. And a home. And we’re earning. Our salaries are both quite meagre, but together it works out pretty decently. I realise this is probably really boring, but I’m just going to revel in the moment while the most interesting thing in my squiggly brain is setting up house. We even have a spreadsheet where we split the costs of food/utilities every week to keep it even. I find this way too exciting and I am aware of that.

While it might seem that life has been pretty mundane in the recent past, my brain is never completely stable, and the bursts of panic seem to be recurring more frequently. They don’t last as long, but they’re pretty unpredictable and I’m terrified of getting panicky at work. And I don’t want my illness to get in the way of my work. And it’s making me agitated and upset because I know I need to make an appointment to see my new doctor soon to get things moving now I’m staying down in this area, but I really don’t want to, and it’s a faff having to work out when to miss work – especially as I get two buses there and two buses back and work is half 8 to half 5 Monday to Friday… which makes the doctors pretty inconvenient – and I feel guilty about it.

Luckily, I have one of the most caring people in the universe by my side, and through all the stress of moving in together and getting started in our young adult lives, he’s been so supportive and kind. I don’t know how anyone puts up with me, but I know I wouldn’t be in the mental place I am now without his constant love and support, especially since leaving University and entering adult life. It’s made the transition so much easier having someone there going through the same thing but being so strong themselves that they’ve got time to make me stronger too.

I’m not really sure what this post is about, I just feel like so much has happened and I’ve forgotten to make any time for writing. Maybe now we’re settled it will start flowing a bit more naturally. I’m exhausted and up and down every day, but it’s not such a constant depression and the anxiety is usually fleeting, although it is always unexpected, but I’ve joined a gym, I’m eating regular meals, I’m in a Monday to Friday job where I have free weekends and evenings, and it feels like I am actually doing something with my life. Admittedly, I haven’t been to the gym this week, but I was ill (physically, for once) so I’ll excuse myself. I’ve got a membership which means I can go to whichever classes I want, so I’ve done some pilates and some bodypump. Pilates is great with a particular instructor, but her classes get booked so fast I don’t know when I’ll be able to make another! And bodypump is a weightlifting session I thought I’d try for a laugh that has actually made me feel amazing, just focusing in the moment, and literally feeling pumped, every Tuesday evening. I tried ‘bodybalance’ which was way too airyfairy to go again – it couldn’t decide whether it wanted to be ‘intense’ or ‘relaxing’ and rather than being balanced it felt like a weird mix of stuff that left me feeling a bit deflated. So I won’t be going to that one again. Bodycombat sounds pretty fun, so I’m going to give that one a go.

Anyway, the point is, I’m doing things purely for me and learning new things in the day and in the evening. My job is for a technology company, sitting on the support team, which means: writing test scripts; testing software that’s being developed by the developers on the team; dealing with requests from clients; converting and writing some HTML. It’s nothing I envisaged myself doing, and some bits of it are tedious, but I’m learning more and being given more responsibilities, and the days where I’m doing a few different things are great. I get made tea and coffee all day by a lovely lady in the office and my colleagues are super fun. Although the ‘air con wars’ are passively aggressively frustrating, the ‘OXO soup wars’ and the like are hilarious. Don’t ask. It’s so refreshing to be with new people, doing something new, living somewhere new – it basically feels like I’m giving myself a second chance at life, at least giving my brain a chance to be healthy. And I haven’t really looked at it that way. But I know I should, and I should make the most of this opportunity. Because I’ve been stuck inside my head for so long, and all the places I’ve been have those horrible associations, and yes, I’ll still have to deal with them, but now I’m on steady medication, it’s done as much as it can, and I need to get some therapy alongside that. Everything seems so much clearer than it did this time a year ago, and I’m in the right place to deal with it, physically and mentally in the world.

This has been a pretty rambly one, but I realise it’s helped sort my thoughts into some kind of order, although it may not appear that way to the reader, so my apologies on that front. To everyone struggling in the place I was in a year ago, and until very recently, and the place that likes to pay a visit every now and then, stay strong, you are amazing, keep fighting and remember ‘you is smart, you is kind, you is important’.

Peace out.

E x

Seeing my scars

*TW*

This post is me trying to make some sort of sense out of the sudden self-destruct mode that both my mind and body are bombarded with on occasion.

So it’s coming to the end of my family holiday, and although the weather has been pretty questionable for the south of France, considering we drove 8,000+ miles to get here…I have still developed quite a tan. My body is terrible in the heat, and although my skin isn’t particularly pale, I do burn incredibly easily, and thus even with factor 50 applied generously multiple times a day, I am still about ten shades darker than I was a fortnight ago.

ANYWAY. The point was: darker skin blah blah etc etc… Unfortunately, for some scientific reason, this means the sun was not only burning my face off, giving me heat exhaustion and generally getting in the way of life – it was also reminding me quite blatantly of the moments over the past year where I have been in a very bad and frightening place.

My scars from the past year are becoming increasingly visible. The ones on my arms are faint and easy to conceal but the matter of wearing a bikini means that those areas I never usually expose are on full display. I’d forgotten how many times I had inflicted pain on myself during 2015. Before this past year, I had only had one small incident many years ago, and I’d never thought much of it. This year, it’s been a lot more than that. The emotions have certainly cut a lot deeper.

Trying to keep this side of me hidden from my parents is quite a feat when to me the marks are so glaringly obvious. (Yes, you may recall as I mentioned in a previous post that I told my mother about my depression, but of course that does not mean we are actually discussing it or communicating properly – that’s going to take a lot longer – and she doesn’t know I inflict pain on myself, and I don’t think she’d accept that very easily either.) You wouldn’t notice the marks if you weren’t looking for them, I don’t think, but, as my usual paranoid self, I worry that someone will question me about them, and if they did I would go into shut-down mode not knowing how to respond – I get like that with talking sometimes, I just completely shut off, do not know how to formulate any words and force them out of my mouth into distinguishable sounds.

Seeing these scars has brought back a whole load of unwanted memories, reminding me of the constant ups and downs I’ve been feeling, fighting and fearing during 2015. It is not the marks themselves that I am bothered by – it’s just pain, that was there and now has passed. The issue is this: that what the marks represent – the pain that I could never express and I feel will never truly disappear – is translated into the physical world merely by a few lines on my body. What are a few scars in the big scheme of things? Nothing to take much notice of. It barely touches the surface of the intense dark periods, doesn’t show the panics and the frustration, the hurt and the anger, and all of that within myself, my mind circling round and round and never being able to escape that.

The vicious circle that is apparently ‘my mind’ (yay, lucky me…) is: the voice that fuelled my bulimia; the voice that fuels excessive drinking from time to time; the voice that tells me I deserve pain and punishment for existing and not appreciating it; the voice that causes my trichotillomania (I wrote a blog post a long time ago about this but it was lost and I couldn’t bring myself to begin to describe my strange affixation on my eyebrows down into coherent and logical words a second time); and the voice that will go to any measure to physically inflict this pain on me. Sometimes it’s that I feel so numb, sometimes it’s that I can’t decipher what is going on in my own brain, sometimes it’s that I want to create something, just DO anything: put my fingers in candle flames; bash my head on doors, walls, bash my hand on my head; strike myself with the end of a pen repeatedly in the same spot because I can’t do something; pick up whatever is conveniently lying around and use it for pain…the hair straighteners I didn’t realise had left scars – the marks faded at the time, but turns out it’s still there beneath the surface. It’s like my own body is an embodied metaphor physicalising the emotional version of myself.

 

So I’ve been on holiday, and there’s been some sun, and while I might be getting a pretty nice golden tan, it’s also the case that my scars from the past year are becoming increasingly visible. Yet the emotional scarring is the hardest to heal – if you can never see how it’s doing, check in on it, how are you supposed to know whether it’s gradually fading away, whether it’s just as obvious as before, or whether it’s just becoming more so?

Some days I feel like the turbulence of  my depression will never end. Most days in fact. Some days I get so sad at the fact I can have these brief fleeting happy moments and then my brain goes and ruins them by reminding me that I cannot cope with life, that I will never be good enough, that there is no point, and that the world would be a better place if I were not here. At least for now the thoughts are only harmful, and not suicidal. I’m hoping my medication will fend that off so the next few weeks aren’t too terrible.

Yet, every time I think things are improving, they take a turn for the worse. My boyfriend is convinced that I’m getting better, and I thought I was too, but it seems that was a short lived opinion of mine. Perhaps it is fair to say that I may have come out of the constant depressed state and instead entered into a continuously fluctuating one, but the feelings of self-loathing and the urge to self-destruct are just as strong as before, it not stronger. And the intensity at which I feel those is just too much to bear. The way those bursts of overwhelming sadness just hit me out of nowhere, full on. The way the urge to take my anger and frustration out is thrown at me, forcing me to get completely caught up in a destructive mentality. One that I can’t see for what it is when I am in those moments, one that I can only see subjectively as the only possible option at the time.

I’m pretty tired and it’s pretty late and I’m not sure if I’ve made any sense here. I’ll be back writing more soon I hope. But for now, that’s me done. I can’t really put down in words all of the things I’m feeling at the moment. I wouldn’t know where to start. But that’s just one thing that’s been on my mind recently.

E

‘Holiday’

It’s not that I can and I don’t want to, it’s that I want to, and I can’t that is the most frustrating thing. Not a reference to anything specific, but rather the simple pleasures in life. I’m on holiday with my family in France, in a lovely house, in hot weather, with a pool – I can read (which I am grateful for), swim, play games, whatever I want. I have the deferred exam to take obviously, so there’s a little revision thrown in, but not too much since there’s only the one exam. Most days have been fine. That is until last night, when I experienced a major panic and rather a lot of distress. Nothing too concerning though.

Today was a lot worse. Everything had been going fine: I had swum; and read – I finished another book – I seem to get through an awful lot on holiday; felt relaxed, thrown a ball playing catch with my siblings; been splashing and messing around by the pool. I came in to do some work late in the day, got a whole topic done, had a short break, got the next one out. I just crashed. It wasn’t the work. It would certainly have been manageable had my head not decided to implode at that particular moment. In relation to the can and the want thing – I couldn’t concentrate, but I definitely wanted to. I knew I could go outside, but I felt no enjoyment at the prospect. I cried, shook, tried to calm down, got very angry with myself. Because there was no reason for me to feel like that. I am on track with my work. I am on holiday from ordinary life – a much needed break.

Yet, what most see as a ‘holiday’, I anticipate with dread, the suggestion of going away filling me with anxiety, travelling 850 miles in the car with four other family members all age 16+ is not exactly a relaxing experience. We got here ok, and it wasn’t too dreadful. The journey not being fun is fairly obvious and expected. The house is incredible, the best I’ve ever stayed in, with the best pool too. I do appreciate it, it’s just that when I get into those darkest moment, full fathom five into the deep seas of my brain, I lose all sense of the material, the present – and yet, simultaneously, I am existing entirely within the present. I can’t focus, I can’t breathe, I feel an immense sadness and I don’t understand why.

I may physically be on holiday, but what those around me sometimes don’t seem to realise is that I can never truly be having a break from every day life, because I take my head with me, and my head takes up a lot of intangible space in my life as it is. I cannot control not being able to relax. I am trying my absolute best. Which is why it is so frustrating when an intense episode hits when it has been going averagely recently – and by ‘averagely’, that means pretty good for me, considering the last seven years or so.

E

Minor breakdown…(back in July)

Hey guys, meant to write a few days ago but haven’t really felt up to it recently. It’s been a pretty draining week. I spoke to my mum, which was really emotionally difficult – I’m glad I told her, and I guess it will help in the long term, but I have been dealing with this for so long and obviously all a mother wants is for her daughter to be happy and I think she thinks she can just fix it and is jumping into all this research on dealing with MH problems. And I do appreciate it, but it does feel like she’s undermining me slightly. I know she isn’t meaning to, and I know it’s difficult to relate to someone when you’ve not had those feelings, but it’s been a pretty hectic stressful week.

The reason I spoke to my mother (who told my dad, who so far has been ok – just hadn’t said much) was because I was pretty bad at the beginning of the last week, and ended up deferring an exam. This means I’ll have to take it in August, which just means dragging out my final exams for even longer, but I just didn’t feel capable of taking it. I’m in a smaller room, and I’ve got extra time, but I just got completely overwhelmed. I was unable to concentrate, feeling incredibly low and panicking a LOT. I was distracting myself by playing video games and trying to watch funny TV shows but nothing really helped. Anyway, after the stress of that, my mum came down to see me at the weekend – we had a fun day out, having lunch and shopping in town, and as of Saturday I have been ok-ish (although it’s still up and down, as always).

PARTAAAAY

So recently, I’ve been going a tad crazy. And no, I don’t throw that word around lightly, I am actually pretty confused and feel like my brain is deteriorating. I have been super hyper and pretty manic recently, I cannot focus on anything, I keep wanting to go out and do things. I went on music tour with a band I’m in to Dublin and it was incredible, I had an amazing time, busy all day and out every night, making music and having a wonderful time with over thirty friends. I got to know everyone much better and it was so good to get away from England for a bit, to escape the place my head feels trapped in. I can’t bear staying in one place, and hopefully I’m going to get to go travelling next year, but I’m super stressed about organising it and I just can’t deal at the moment with my final exams coming up, which I cannot concentrate to revise for. I submitted my last piece of coursework of my degree the other day, so that’s pretty terrifying, but my first exam is in less than a week and I just do not know what to do. I have been really chilled out recently, which has been good mentally, but isn’t so great for exam period. When I was doing exams at school, I used to work constantly every day, I wouldn’t see my friends, and there was that time in my life where I would exhaust myself mentally and physically by letting out all the stress forcefully. I know I shouldn’t do that, but I don’t know where to send the stress any more. If I worry too much, I’ll start shaking. I haven’t had a panic attack in a while, but in the last week they have seemed a lot more likely.

My housemate has been having a pretty tough time recently, and I just want her to be ok. Her boyfriend isn’t being very supportive of her MH problems and it’s the last thing she needs because she’s so amazing and so strong and she’s actually seeking help at the moment, which is great, and should be seen positively and encouraged. I worry about her a lot, she has been incredibly panicky, and I haven’t seen her get like this in over a year, so obviously I’m concerned. I’m just glad that she has me and I know she knows that, which is as much as I can do at the moment. I’m also glad I seem to be in a better state so I can look after her.

Yeah, so being in a better state = maybe not entirely healthy etc but not numb and upset and ill and unmotivated to do anything and everything the entire time. I’m on triple the original dose of meds I was given, so that’s 150mg of Sertraline daily. And I think I may have written about the side effects initially, which luckily are a distant memory now, because that really was awful. I am starting to think maybe they are taking some effect, but it’s really hard to tell. I think I am possibly bipolar, as my behaviour across the year as a whole seems to fluctuate a lot, although admittedly this happens within the days too, in a much more intense way than it used to. So it usually goes October/November pretty low, Christmas ok, February onwards really awful, April/May maybe ok and getting better, excellent at the beginning of summer, and then August it plummets…September is stable – ish. It helps to write that down. It’s so hard to understand or explain what you’re experiencing when you can’t even make sense of it yourself. There are so many ideas and thoughts going around my head the entire time and I need some way to let it out. Which is why I made this in the first place, although obviously there are really low points where I just don’t want to write, or I can’t do anything, or where I pretend that I’m ok or where I convince myself that the ‘bad’ side of my head is right. I haven’t believed the bad side of my head in a few weeks now, so that’s positive.

Last term, I was seen by someone at DAS (the Depression and Anxiety Service), who said she’d refer me for a proper assessment with the county MH team, but that was two months ago, and I was worried I hadn’t heard. I was discharged from DAS because I was ‘too high risk’ then didn’t hear anything, which kind of seems terribly unfair and awful if you ask my opinion. I am finally actually asking for help and everywhere I go they send me away, I just don’t feel good enough and don’t know how to cope with that on top of everything else. Luckily, my doctor Jo is amazing, she will see me as often as I need and within half an hour of seeing her and explaining about not hearing from the MH Assessment team I get a phone call telling me I can have an appointment next week. So that is really great. Again, they might refer me to other people etc etc, but hopefully they’ll pass me on to some more professional help, they have contact with psychiatrists etc and I would really like to know what is going on in my stupid head. I am really nervous, because explaining everything again is so tough and I’m worried I will panic. I am so so so much better at talking than I used to be. I used to not explain anything to anyone and just be angry at the world and shut myself off and cry and be unable to convey my emotions and avoid people, but now even opening up to a few people, some friends, some strangers on the internet, has helped me realise that it doesn’t always have to be like this (at least occasionally, anyway).

Since I’m always honest on here, I may as well get it off my chest that I’ve been thinking about my sexuality. I kissed A, and it didn’t feel wrong. It was a drunken thing with someone I had become close to on tour, and I shouldn’t have done that to T, but he has forgiven me, and I am so grateful. I think maybe I kissed A because I think I probably have feelings for girls too, and I don’t know, maybe it was a way of clarifying that. But I am so in love with T, who is incredible in so many ways, and I am so lucky to have him. I think it shouldn’t matter what gender you are, you can love who you like for being them, and no matter what my sexuality is, I don’t need to define that because I know that I love T more than I’ve ever loved anyone, and I do not want to lose that, ever.

E

I was getting so good at talking

Opening up to people is a massive step, and it’s something I thought I’d got pretty good at. Telling people you have depression is one thing, but actually trying to formulate how you feel in those darkest moments is pretty terrifying. The mental blocks are coming back, where I just clam up and don’t let anyone in. Because the more that people care, the more people I let in, the more it’s going to hurt if anything happens to me. And right now I’m really scared. It’s a difficult task trying to constantly distract yourself, from yourself. Watching TV doesn’t work because my brain is still going, doing my work doesn’t work because it all seems so pointless, drawing isn’t working because I’m getting angry at myself for being so imperfect, and I haven’t been able to write very well (I’m obviously writing anyway, because sometimes trying to type out how I’m feeling helps me understand how I’m feeling in the first place). You forget what it’s like to be back in the other side of your head when hasn’t even been a fortnight since you were last there. It’s so hard trying to explain it.

 

I’m back in a battle with myself again, not knowing how to get out of my head. Well, there are definitely ways to get out of my head, for example by getting literally off my face, or by taking too many pills. And when my head gets too much, I want to do both of the above but I know I can’t. At least I have that at the moment – knowing what I’m thinking is wrong. But it’s so hard, and I don’t know how to explain it. How do you explain to someone you love that yesterday you were trying to find out the most effective ways of getting out of here? I just want to throw things and break things and scream. But I have to suppress it all, or people will know I’m crazy, and I’m so used to hiding. In times like this, I hate that I ever let anyone get close, because everything always ends in hurt. At least if I was hurting I wouldn’t feel so numb, hitting my head just to feel something, trying to remind myself what ‘being alive’ means, because existence isn’t great. I don’t want to waste my life just ‘existing’ and it feels pointless staying alive when I’m not making the most of it.

 

I keep having flashback type moments to the way I used to feel and it’s scaring me. Remembering the person that I used to be and thinking that I might go back there scares me, thinking that whoever I am now isn’t really me, but just a cover for all the darkness in my mind. I have no idea how to communicate what goes on when my head’s going bad. And trying to understand why. Because when I’m fine, I can see there’s no reason for me to feel down. But when I’m not, everything is wrong. And I push the good things away. The other side of my brain is taking over and she doesn’t want to let anyone in, because she’s not worth their time, she’s only going to hurt them. And when it all gets too much, I don’t want people to be left behind. I should get out of  their lives before it’s too late.

 

When my mind gets like this, I just want to knock myself out because there are too many words going round and round, and even my music won’t drown them out, it just adds another voice. But silence makes the voices in my head louder and when I can’t focus on anything, there’s nowhere to escape. I thought maybe this year would be a positive one, but it’s only the seventh day, and it already seems stupid to have thought that. I feel so ungrateful and guilty for feeling the things that I do, the ones I can’t even try to explain, but that just makes it worse. How can someone who’s so ungrateful be allowed in this world?

 

I’ve had some rational worries recently, but they become irrelevant when my head does this. A friend sent me quite a bitter text yesterday for not meeting up with her during the holiday, saying that she’d changed her plans. I had already apologised, I didn’t know she’d changed her plans for me, we hadn’t confirmed anything, and I missed seeing my grandparents because my head was just too loud and I needed to keep myself away from people. But she has no idea about any of that, and I don’t know what to say. It would be nice if people didn’t just think about themselves sometimes. And maybe I’m being selfish too, I know that, but I’ve accepted lots of times when she’s rearranged our plans and I would never make her feel guilty because I understand that everyone has their own stuff going on and there’s probably a good reason, and it’s just one day.

 

I had a really bad dream last week. I have a lot of pretty scary dreams, but this one stuck. There were lots of parts to it, but the part I remember is the part where I’m a terrible mother. (In the dream, I’m pregnant, and then suddenly I have a lizard in my care- which is my ‘baby’ – and then it dies. Also, I wore mismatching shoes in the dream, which was quite distressing when I woke up.) Anyway, I woke up feeling really upset and guilty, and it just made think about how I don’t know if I’m going to ever have children. I love babies, and children, and all my friends call me ‘Mum’ because apparently I’m motherly towards everyone. But how could I let myself have a child when my brain gets like this? I might not be able to be there in the way a mother should, or I might give them my genes, and I’m pretty sure the depression has at least some kind of genetic origin. It’s something I used to worry about a lot, and I don’t want to worry about this now, while I’m twenty: it’s irrational and a long way off, and it’s bringing back a lot of the OCD paranoia that I used to have. And I just don’t understand why. Mostly in my dreams but sometimes while I’m awake. People die in my dreams: I dream that I have to speak at my close friends’ funerals; I dream that people are in car accidents; I dream that people are in comas; I dream that I’m pregnant and I miscarry; I dream that I try to hurt myself; I dream that I try to die. At least at the moment it’s mostly in sleep – at least I’m evidently sleeping – but it’s creeping back into my awake time, and I can’t move or speak or do anything when that horrible part of my brain is taking over.

 

I had another dream this week, about the future: I had graduated and started having a conversation with my boyfriend about the future, in which he assumed it was over now University has finished. And why would anyone possibly want to have a long-term future with me? I have no idea how things are going to be in half a year’s time, but I woke up panicking. I always tell my boyfriend my dreams, but I didn’t tell him what happened in that one, I just said we had an argument – there were lots of other scenes in that night’s Act and that was just the final one. I don’t know whether to bring up the future. I’m scared in case the dream was right, but if it is, then what is the point in getting even closer now and then being torn apart by circumstances again? I have no idea how I would handle that. It happened last year and it was horrible, but this relationship is so much more.

 

My anti-anxiety pills don’t seem to be calming me down. I just want to take a bunch of them and go to sleep for a really long time. But I have a deadline on Friday. And dealing with my head is a matter of pushing through it. And that’s bloody hard sometimes. I’ve been doing this for nearly seven years now. Every time it feels like it’s going to get better, this happens, again and again. I don’t know how much more I can take. I only end up hurting people. I don’t even know where either side of my head is at right now. I don’t even know if this makes any sense because it’s basically like two people are writing it at the same time.

 

I’m pretty confused and I just want to get out of here. I hope you’re all having better days.

E

Honesty

It’s so hard to express oneself truly just through words. I’ve kind of neglected writing here; it’s been about five months since I last wrote. 165 days since my first post, apparently, as I’m starting this. A lot has happened. From the things I said before, you might have thought of me as a happy young free thing. It’s really not like that. Well, sometimes it is. It’s pretty hard to explain how this brain works. But I’ve felt like there’s a lot I’ve needed to get out recently and I’m having a bit of a block with my work (I’m in the third year of a degree), so I thought if I let some of my thoughts out, maybe it will clear some space to focus on studying.

This is my life, this is how it goes, pretending to be ok, all the while struggling with the voices in my head. This is going to be a long post. It doesn’t matter if no one ever reads it; this is about me having somewhere to let out the raw and damaged version of me, a place to be honest. I started writing as a place to be positive and maybe bring some positivity into other people’s lives. It’s kind of ironic, since I rarely take my own advice, and reading back over the things I wrote before, and although they might seem like a few simple posts to the outsider, I’m amazed at my own strength. I have depression and anxiety, I’m a recovered bulimic (three years and counting) and I had some form of OCD around the time my bulimia was at its worst, so basically life is pretty up and down. I don’t feel like anything is constant. My head is all over the place all the time. So I thought by telling you I could make some sense of it to myself.

I’m home for Christmas. And no, it’s not a joyous time. I have to produce over 9,000 words of academic work in the next few weeks, but that doesn’t even matter. Instead, coming home is a stressful reminder of past battles and my lowest moments, surrounded by people that don’t understand me and don’t try if I do open up. I want to talk about my past. I need to. Because everything is so taboo, and it’s not fair. It isn’t my fault I have mental health problems, and it’s really hard to remember that. And even when I do remember, it still feels like the world would be a better place without me in it not appreciating all the good things that are there. I feel like such a hypocrite: I always encourage others to talk about their problems, and I stand by the fact that having a mental illness is not something to be ashamed of, just like having a physical illness is not one’s own fault, but I find it hard to admit to myself that I am ill – well, sometimes I do and then I start to make progress in treating myself, but then the other side of my brain gets the better of me and I decide I don’t deserve help and I should do this on my own, I should not be flawed, I have always been able to achieve things by fighting through alone, being anything other than perfect is not good enough when I let the B-side take over. I call it the B-side because the A-side is what everyone sees. Maybe people have B-sides that are pretty similar to what most people see, but the B-side of my brain is like a whole other record and you won’t know just how different it is unless you listen to me, to everything I have to say. In the end, I have an illness that has a pretty high death rate and it’s kind of terrifying when you look at it that way.

I’m going to start by talking about my eating disorder, because it’s something I so often ignore, push to a dark corner of my mind and hide from people, but I shouldn’t have to, and I think treating it like that makes it a lot worse when I start to feel as though I might relapse. I rarely tell people it’s still something that comes into my head. It’s not so much a feeling of wanting to make myself sick but a feeling of needing to release the stress building up inside me. I think what used to manifest itself as being sick now manifests itself in pure terror and anxiety attacks because I’m so scared of going back to that place that I’m not able to physically control my behaviour in those moments. Being able to type, let alone speak, the word ‘bulimia’ is pretty new for me, because it is so hard to trust people when you don’t know how they’ll react. It isn’t my fault society doesn’t understand that eating disorders are mental illnesses, beyond your control. The thing that’s so dangerous when you’re in that place is that it is as if you have control and suddenly everything in your life revolves around maintaining that control. I refused to accept that I had an eating disorder probably until after I’d recovered. I say I’ve recovered and I really hope I have, but sometimes the feelings do come back and I know that people have gone years and then slipped back into the nightmare cycle of getting to that awful mental place, being sick, and becoming further and further consumed by the mental abyss where nothing makes any sense. When it is your brain that is ill and is the thing in your mind telling you how to live your life, what else can you listen to? It’s not so bad now, but there are two voices in my head and they are always arguing and it’s absolutely terrifying when you can’t get out of that because it is literally a part of you. I said I’m scared of how people will react, and that’s not an irrational fear.

Talking openly has been a real battle for me and I have no idea why. You might not think it now, but it’s only really been in the last year or two that I’ve truly been honest about what’s been going on in my mind with those closest to me, and I’ve always found it so much easier to communicate by writing or typing things so I don’t have to actually open my mouth and look someone in the eye when I’m trying to explain how I feel. Maybe that seems detached, maybe it is detached, but it’s progress and I need to hold on to the idea that things will improve, things are improving, even when there are steps backwards, (because there will be), at least I can recognise that sometimes things get a little better and there are certain points in the year when I know I’ll be extra fragile and I should be prepared for that instead of pretending things will never get that bad again. So when I was fifteen, I told my mum I’d been making myself sick. No parent wants to hear those words and maybe if I hadn’t said them, things wouldn’t be so bad with my family now.

I think I’ve been depressed for a while, but my parents attributed this to puberty and therefore I just thought I was a terrible person, but I’ve come to realise that a lot of the feelings I had growing up were not just ordinary ‘symptoms of age’. I can distinguish between sadness for reasons and the way I feel when I’m truly depressed. Take the example of this summer: I was with someone who ended things quite abruptly and I was pretty cut up about it, and I was an emotional mess, but I wasn’t in a low place at that point, and it really made me see for myself how the feelings I experience aren’t always normal compared to say heartbreak, or upset. How was I supposed to realise this before? You only get the one experience of growing up so when people tell you you’re being ‘stroppy’ that’s how you view yourself and that certainly negatively impacts everything. It’s really hard when your parents don’t understand the nature of your illness, so much so that you won’t admit to them that this is something that directly impacts your everyday life. This is why we need a better mental health education. People of my generation are getting better at accepting that people have mental health difficulties, whether they have any idea of what this constitutes, but the important thing is for us to educate ourselves so we can be there for those that come after us too.

My parents’ attitude to mental illness makes me really upset. My great uncle killed himself and my parents are always saying how selfish he was. I will never believe that – I think it is tragic that he found himself in a place where he felt there was no escape from the overwhelming emotions and loneliness he must have been experiencing. Of course it impacted his family, and that is terribly sad for them, but it is not his fault, just as it is not one’s fault if they die from cancer. The more we talk about these things, the more can be done to treat these things. The less suicide is viewed as a selfish act, the more people will be willing to open up about their feelings and the more likely it is that these issues will be treated or at least acknowledged before one reaches crisis point. It makes it very hard for me to approach my family about the problems I’ve had and am currently experiencing when these are the kinds of responses I get from those who are supposed to love and care for me no matter what.

I feel like I’m pretending to be someone else when I’m at home, and that is damaging my relationship with my parents, especially with my mother. Earlier today (Friday now – I’m writing this when I feel in the mood so it may take a few days), my mother, brother and sister thought it would be funny to shut me in with them in my parents’ bedroom and that really made me freak out, because I get quite claustrophobic and the smallest things must trigger a fight or flight response within me. I don’t know why, and it’s not nice, but it’s there. And my mother finds this hilarious for some reason. The fact that I get panicky should not be something to make a mockery of, it’s something that you should approach me about and discuss calmly and not aggravate the situation when you can clearly see I’m in distress. I hate that I get distressed so easily but it’s just who I am and it’s meant I’m removing myself from a lot of situations at home where I know I would get distressed or negatively retaliate in the past.

My parents know I used to be bulimic, which has resulted in a lot of very degrading comments from my father, the lock being removed from the bathroom door (because taking away any privacy I might have is really going to help…) and a lot of attention being paid to what I’m eating, how much and how often – this was the opposite of what a recovering bulimic needed, but no one cared what I thought because I was being difficult, or selfish, or childish, or vain, or stupid. My mother often asking me if I had been making myself sick was not helpful at all, and it’s ok now I’m recovered, but it has been quite triggering at points in the past when I have been just about getting to some point of ok and have felt huge amounts of shame by being reminded so explicitly of something I’ve been resolving on my own. Because my parents were no help at all, the battle through mental illness is something I have to face on my own. And I say through rather than against because it is not something separate from me: I have finally accepted – just about – that I have and have had mental illnesses, and realising that is hopefully a step towards slowly dealing with how to cope with that fact.

I used to outright refuse that I had an eating disorder, which is just ridiculous, and it’s that other voice in my head that was winning for far too long that convinced me of that. My mother sent me to CAMHS at first, the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service – everyone I’ve spoken to that has made use of this service has had the same response I did. It was a humiliating experience, sitting opposite a supposed ‘Doctor’ on an uncomfortable sofa on the other side of the room with my mother seated next to me. It made me feel like I had done something wrong – and I know what I have done to my body is wrong but I was not made to feel like I was going to be ok, I was treated like an outsider and if anything, attending those sessions made everything worse. They weighed me. The fear of being weighed and seeing if I had put on weight was another stress to add to the millions of stresses (whether justified or not) that I felt anyway. And I had been weighed at the doctor’s surgery before I was referred to CAMHS (my mother had taken me and I couldn’t speak – it’s that mental block I get – so she talked to the doctor and I sat embarrassed and ashamed wishing I didn’t exist). The focus on the physical aspects of my eating disorder certainly did not help, people need to realise there is a lot more to it than meets the eye, literally. The fact that the doctor had to weigh me before she considered whether I was ‘deserving’ of some kind of supposedly ‘psychological’ help demonstrates the total lack of understanding surrounding mental health, even among the health professionals.

I saw a private counsellor for a while after CAMHS was such a failure. It didn’t do much different. I refused to speak to her. I remember sorting buttons, whatever the point of that was. I had to do a session with my mother there. I refused to speak again, and after that I didn’t see her again. She was kind and well-meaning, not like the woman at CAMHS, who at one point asked if I minded having seven psychology students observe me through two-way glass – I said yes because I’m the sort of person that can’t say no to things, but it was the most horrible experience and I was so embarrassed and ashamed when I met them afterwards. I think my mother thought carting me off to various professionals would make the problem go away, but if anything I felt further alienated from those who didn’t even try to understand me in the first place. I basically didn’t talk to my parents properly for about two years, and I still find it difficult now. Seeing so many different people and having to explain things over and over again is such a challenge, and the system makes it very difficult for people who already have trouble expressing their thoughts or admitting to one person that they might need help – it feels like you’re jumping through hoops to be heard and you aren’t cared about in the same way as a physically ill person would be.

The eating disorder is not itself the physical manifestations such as not eating, or being conscious of weight, those are the symptoms of something much harder to comprehend: it is about the way you think and the way you deal with situations – it is your brain not quite being ‘normal’. Take the brain of an anorexic person. I have a very close friend who was hospitalised last year and during her treatment they showed her that the structure of her brain was slightly different, I can’t remember the details but there was something that in most people’s brains connects the ‘I’m hungry’ part to the ‘registering that I need to eat’ part, and it was absent from her brain. If only more people were aware of this, maybe people would be less dismissive of those struggling with serious eating disorders.

I think the media does have a big role to play in negatively influencing body image in the minds of young people, particularly the focus on the idealised female body, and I could (and might) write an entire separate blog post on this issue. However, at least with the illness I had (I am finding it really hard to write the word having used it so many times already), it was really about me having absolute control over everything. I was certainly a perfectionist (I still am a perfectionist in some ways) and everything had to be a certain way. If I decided to do something, I had to do it or I would punish myself for not being good enough. I used to have to do everything possible and do it as well as I could: I ran competitively for the local team and school; I swam at a local club and captained the girls’ Sixth Form swimming team; I was taking piano grades and played for my school’s choir in rehearsals, and even took part in the choir for a while, which you’d never believe now; and I played a lot of clarinet, in the Concert Band, in the junior concert band helping out, in the Orchestra, in the Chamber Orchestra, in the Clarinet Ensemble; and yet somehow I was also working incredibly hard at school and getting good grades, getting involved in a bunch of charity and editing stuff, as well as helping out with some younger classes and getting my D of E Award. I have no idea how I did it and I’m proud of the achievements I have from that time but I feel like I’ve wasted my youth by being so unhappy in myself. (Yes, I’m still pretty young relatively, but now I’ve got to think about the whole job thing and face the real stresses of my finals in less than sixth months, and that is pretty terrifying).

I pushed myself so hard, and when I compare myself to the person I used to be, I feel so sad that I’ve lost so much of her. I was really good at my running, and I never thought that of myself at the time, and I was pretty good at Art too. I’m trying to get back intro drawing because I know I once did it so well and I don’t want to lose my creative side. I still have my music and I’m determined not to let that go. Finding all my old artwork made it really hit home that I’ve lost part of myself somewhere along the way. I gave up my Art after AS-level, because I was getting pretty stressed about getting into University and since I wanted to study Law (for reasons I cannot comprehend now), I focused more on the academic subjects. Yes, I somehow managed to get three A*s at A-level, which I’m proud of, but that was at the suffering of something I valued pretty highly, and I lost sight of the fact that things matter now too – it’s not always about trying to get to the next place. If you’re so unhappy in the present that you’re constantly reaching for something more, to get out of this place, then I don’t think you’re doing the present right. And I’ve only realised this in the last year. Everything takes time and I know I needed to realise this on my own but I hope that other people see this too, and I worry about my sister missing out on happiness now because she’s so focused on doing well in her GCSEs – I try to remind her to make sure she has time for her friends and she stays happy, but I don’t want to undermine her either, because everything is relative – it’s a pretty hard balancing act, and I appreciate that my parents go through this with all three of us. But I still disagree with their whole approach to how to raise us, especially as I’m now twenty and I barely feel any sense of freedom when I’m living back at home for the hoildays.

This section was supposed to be about my eating disorder – and it has been – as it was a pretty huge part of my life at secondary school. It’s pretty sad that I can’t remember a time when I was a child when I wasn’t so conscious of my brain having all these contradictory and overwhelming thoughts constantly – I know she existed, it’s just about finding her again. For example, right now, my brain is telling me ‘you had beer earlier’ and the other side is quiet today but it’s saying ‘take a sleeping pill anyway, who cares, it’s better to be away from all this, it’s so loud here, this is your only escape, it’s better when you don’t wake up’. I think writing is helping me make that voice a little quieter, and maybe the young carefree me wasn’t affected by any stresses in the way she is now because she was able to express her creativity without anyone questioning it. Society makes you feel you should act a certain way and certain things are expected of you. We all get lost and forget that everyone is different; we should all have different expectations for all the unique individuals in the world. We should not be fighting to be copies of one another: nothing would work if we were all the same and I’m slowly learning to express myself in my own way rather than be another statistic for an exam paper. My parents were never the kind of people who forced me into going to University. My mother went to Art College, which is what she wanted to do, and my father dropped out of a Biochemistry course his mother had wanted him to do after the first year and got odd jobs here and there until he started getting into cameras because he happened to get a decorating job helping out in a cameraman’s studio – it’s not like there was any pressure from them, and I’m glad my parents always encouraged us to pursue what we want. Which is what I thought I did. But it turns out I didn’t. Exams don’t mark your achievement; exams mark a tiny part of your achievement, that is, the academic, in any given subject that you happen to be examined on. There is so much more to life than that. And if the ‘achievements’ you gain don’t’ make you happy, why bother? We should be measured more by our differences than whether we can all get the highest grade on a paper. I’m getting a little sidetracked here – I think I might write a separate blog post about figuring out the future, when I’m feeling in a positive mood.

My family doesn’t know about my depression or anxiety (the latter of which is quite recent, but I’ll get to that later). My parents’ past response and general attitude, which I alluded to earlier, hasn’t exactly made it easy for me to talk to them. Last summer my granny went into hospital because of low sodium levels, which my mother was convinced was an effect of her antidepressants. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. But it was because of this that I discovered that my granny has depression – apparently it kicked in after her menopause, which is irrelevant to my point. Why should this have been a taboo subject? I personally think it’s important to know if a family member has a serious illness. I have a very good relationship with her, yet she has never mentioned this. But I suppose I haven’t mentioned mine either. I have been considering talking to her, but I feel like I would be betraying my mother by not telling her – my mother gets so easily upset if I want to spend time with my sister or I talk to her about private stuff and going to her mother rather than my own might upset her rather a lot, and I don’t want to be the cause of that. I just feel like it might help to have someone related who has similar problems to talk to or even just to let her to that I am there for her if she needs me anytime and that I will never judge her, because I love her unconditionally and I really care about her. My mother’s assumption and blame of the antidepressants on my granny’s illness last year shocked me quite a bit, because, although I have been affected by antidepressants’ side effects (which I will discuss later), she seemed to completely dismiss the fact that the antidepressants that may or may not have caused the issue are also used to treat a serious illness, and might have prevented us from losing my granny in the first place: I’d rather she had low sodium levels one summer that was treatable and we got her back than she hadn’t been given the antidepressants and she was no longer with us.

While I’m on the subject of family, I’m going to talk about my illness and my siblings. I feel like I couldn’t tell my brother or my sister because I’m the eldest. I’m supposed to be the strong one for them to look up to, I want to be a good example of an adult for my brother who is now eighteen, and I want to be there to support my little sister (who is now sixteen) as she grows into a young woman. But this has been scaring me recently. I get panicked if she spends a long time in the bathroom, because those with other bulimics in the family are more likely to suffer it themselves and I’m terrified of anyone, let alone anyone close to me, having to go through the experience I did. (Just on a side note here, the fact that I’m talking about it in the past tense is amazing. When I was in the middle of it, I always felt like this would be a part of me, three months would go by, five months would go by, and it would be back.) And I’ve been getting pretty sad about it (back to worrying about my sister now). I want her to able to talk to me about anything and I hope that she knows I’d be there to support her no matter what, so I should feel the same, and I do talk to her about a lot of other stuff. Ironically, it’s always her giving me advice on relationships rather than the other way round, and I tell her silly little secrets because ‘you tell me everything, don’t you’ is the kind of relationship we have. I feel so guilty for hiding something that is such a huge part of my life from her, but I just really don’t want it to be a part of her life too, ever. I don’t want it to be part of my brother’s life either, he’s always seemed very together, aside from the teenage angst stuff, but then again, you never really know what’s going on in someone’s head. This is true of everyone and it makes me really angry and upset how quickly people judge someone or jump to conclusions when they have no idea about another person’s life or what they might be going through. People everywhere need to have a little more consideration and respect for others in life.

Speaking of respect, it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. At home, I’m not treated with a lot of respect. If my parents don’t view me as a mature adult, how do they expect me to respond, especially when I am trying to be serious with them and they consistently revert to an incredibly immature state? Often I feel like I’m the parent and they’re the children. They’re always bickering, my father has no respect for my mother and everyone speaks in a horrible manner to each other. I don’t really want to talk about family stuff now, maybe another time. This post is about me. Because at the moment I need to focus on me. T is really helping with that, in more ways than he could ever realise, and I have so much respect and appreciation for him, and I don’t feel like I deserve it at all. It’s really difficult letting someone in when you’ve been hurt and when you know that the other side of your head could take over and start to push them away when you really don’t want it to – it’s just a protective mechanism, and it’s not fair, on either of us. I don’t want my messed up brain to get in the way of something that’s becoming pretty beautiful. I’m so scared, for so many reasons.

So recently I was on Sertraline 50mg for a month or so, but I didn’t go back to the doctor, because it’s pretty hard when you’re having a bad day and you feel incapacitated by the illness that you’re trying to treat. And it takes a lot of courage to ask for help in the first place, and I think people forget that. And to admit that you have a problem to anyone is absolutely terrifying, because you can’t unsay it and go back to the person you used to be pretending everything is ok and being super hyper all the time in public and then being a complete mess and crashing when you get home. The side effects when I started the Sertraline were so awful that I missed a deadline. I’ve never missed a deadline in my life, and it was a horrible feeling. I was physically incapable of moving or even texting to let people know where I was, I felt so dizzy and on the second day my eyes would barely open. I just didn’t feel like a person. It was like how I usually feel on the inside inside when I’m low was manifesting itself on the outside so that people could see it, and that terrified me. I know I need to keep up the medication to see if it really has an effect, and I’m scared because this happened last year too. I was on Citalopram 30mg just before Christmas, but my prescription ran out while I was home and I didn’t want to deal with the faff of being a guest patient at the surgery here or justifying to my parents why I was going to the doctor (yes, I might be twenty, but when I’m living at home, my mother must know where I am at all times, despite the fact that I spend three months away at University and I could be anywhere at any time of day or night and that is just fine). The same thing happened at Easter – my prescription ran out while I was at home for Easter, and every time this happens I convince myself that there’s nothing wrong with me, I’m stronger than this and I’m ok. But that isn’t how it works. I feel like that now, because relatively, my brain is pretty stable. My depression is not something I have to be ‘stronger’ than; it is something I have to cope with.

But then summer happens, and I remember I am not stronger than my depression. Maybe it’s because I spend so long at home, stuck in the place where things were worst when I was growing up, or maybe it’s a coincidence, but for the last two years, around August is when I usually get suicidal. Very few people know that. You wouldn’t guess it from the outside. In my family holiday photos I might be smiling on the outside, but I’m screaming on the inside. I’ve learned to hide my feelings pretty effectively, which is useful because I don’t want to let people in when I’m in that state, but also makes me feel incredibly lonely. Last year I nearly took myself to A & E because I just did not know what I’d do if I was left on my own. I put my ex-boyfriend through hell, and I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t been able to get out of my house and walk the few minutes to his, (sometimes breaking down halfway, which was pretty embarrassing), burst into tears and rock for hours on end without saying a word. No one understands how bad it can get until they see me at my worst, and barely anyone has witnessed that. This summer was really bad but last summer I was looking up effective ways to kill myself – I block out the fact that it has been that bad, but when I write it down, or when I’ve said it to the doctor, it feels so much more real and terrifying.

I’ve opened up to a few people in the last year and I want to take some time to talk about that. I got pretty close to a good friend, G, and I relied on him a lot between May and September, until he told me I was too much to handle and he couldn’t deal with it anymore – I completely understand and I feel so incredibly guilty for being so dependent on him during the holiday, but I will never forget how he was there for me, even when he had a bunch of his own stuff to deal with. The fact someone even made a little bit of time for me kept me going when I was reaching crisis point again. We’re still friends now, and we do check in with each other now and then, but we have quite similar problems and sometimes that can be hard when balancing your friendship. Also horrible that they know what you mean when you tell them how you feel though. It’s really nice too though, to have someone who understands a bit of what you’re going through, I will always remember the times he was there to listen and get me out of my head were some of my best memories from the past summer. I’m just sorry that I lost sight of the fact that he needed someone just as much as I did, and we could only be so much of that for each other.

I’ve got an amazing friend, B, who I don’t know how I survived without for the first year of University. She totally gets the depression and anxiety thing and we know exactly how to behave with each other, and I’m really lucky to have found such a special friendship. I went to stay with her for a few days in July, when I was having a ‘normal person low’, and just spending time with her being silly and forgetting about everything else was pretty wonderful. On my way back from B’s, I had a pretty wild weekend with H, and I remembered what it was like to live for those few days with those two very different, much loved people. B and I tell each other pretty much everything, definitely too much information everything, but it doesn’t matter, because we’re always there for each other, and she’s been such a great friend. I just hope she knows how much I really appreciate that. There’s another girl, R, who has had a pretty tough time over the last year, and we don’t talk loads, but I hope she knows I think about her a lot and hope that she finds the right people to talk to about everything that’s going on in her life. She listens when I need her, and we’ve had some pretty deep conversations. I don’t like to burden her with my problems because she’s pretty angry about a lot of things already and I don’t want to make her stressed, but together we complain about the mental health system and sigh at life in a matter of fact kind of way, and it’s nice to have someone that is open about their depression with everyone. I admire her a lot; she’s very brave for being so honest – but why should it be something to be scared of? She makes me think about that. I’ve only just started being honest with myself, and being honest with other people is terrifying.

Then there’s I-C. She’s a great laugh and we can be super silly together but she gets pretty panicky like I’ve started to and has had other similar problems in the past. I tell her a load of stuff as well. She interrupted her studies a year ago and that was pretty difficult for me. Last Christmas I had a major panic about life and whether to change degrees and I rang her up and she told me she was leaving and of course that’s so good for her, that she’s made that decision and she’s doing something about her situation but I felt so sad at losing her from my life. I saw her a few times over the next eight months, which was quite strange after seeing her at least weekly since I had started University, and every time it was wonderful and nothing had changed between us. She’s back now and it’s amazing. If anything, I appreciate her more for it. I still don’t see her enough, but that is the problem with the stresses of University life in itself, let alone battling with depression and anxiety on top of that.

When I’m at University, I’m not great at staying in contact with my friends from school. Everyone is off doing different things all the time, deadlines fall at different points in term, term dates are different and I manage to get the odd phone call in here or there. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have such great friends at University. There are two great girls who have been there for me throughout the whole of first and second year: S and H are absolute babes and I wish I could find a way to thank them properly for putting up with me, whether it’s breaking down or shutting myself away or having a laugh through all the stressful times. They deserve their own post, so won’t talk much about them for now.

I opened up to someone round about May time this year. JB became a pretty close friend pretty quickly and we confided in each other about some personal things. He had a girlfriend at the time and we gave each other advice on dealing with our exes now we had both moved on. I thought it was pretty innocent, and I became proper friends with B and JB on tour to Prague and I was feeling pretty happy around April time this year. S and H kept teasing me about JB but I didn’t think of it as anything more than platonic. Yes, we were very emotionally close very quickly, but I was just genuinely really glad to have made a new friend, someone who brought me ice cream when I was having a really low day and someone that I trusted. Looking back, I do trust him, I just felt slightly betrayed when I had let someone get so emotionally close when I felt so vulnerable. He had broken up with his girlfriend, we were both very drunk and he kissed me, the day after I’d told him I was seeing JH. I was in an emotional state, I can’t remember why, and pouring floods of tears and was completely taken aback that he wanted to kiss me. The point of telling you this is that I trusted someone, and it had always been something else to him. I suppose I should be flattered but I just felt upset, and we didn’t talk for months after that because he wanted something more and our friendship ended, or rather was radically altered, because I wanted to be with JH, who I never told a lot of stuff. I might write another post about JH. It was a fleeting but wonderful time in my life and I was incredibly happy, but it’s in the past now and I’m glad things with JB didn’t ruin that brief time we did have together.

There are lots of people in my life, I’m not going to go on about all of them, but someone who is particularly important in my life at the moment is T. I want to keep the greatness of what’s going on there to experience in reality and not write too much, because that’s all happening now and I want to do nothing more than to let that happen. I told him about my problems and it was the best response I’ve ever had. If you’re reading this, thank you so much for letting me pour everything out at once, not running a mile, and sticking by me when I’ve made things difficult this term. I’m sorry my head isn’t quite right, and I appreciate you more than I could ever express in words.

I’ve finished writing about people, and I want to briefly talk about my anxiety before signing off. So, this one’s pretty recent. I had my first panic attack a couple of years ago, but that was kind of out of the blue. It’s kind of difficult to deal with sudden attacks that come from within. Your immediate response when something attacks you is to fight back. But fighting back at yourself is either impossible or results in me getting hurt, which isn’t always the healthiest approach. I’ve seen the doctor and I’ve now got Clonazepam and Propranolol to take for those terrifying times. Luckily I had stopped by I-C’s house when I had my most frenzied hysterical panic this term. I think it was something to do with all the new drugs my body was suddenly having to process. Unfortunately, her housemates and a couple of others were about but I was so beyond caring when I was in that state and she helped a lot. I don’t know what damage I might have done if I’d been alone. The doctor suggested I think of things to do when I feel like I might be getting in a state so I guess writing is one of them. I need to be creative again. Writing is part of that. Drawing is another. I need space in order to do that. I want to get back into reading as well. I read about fifteen books in two weeks over summer, somewhere to escape to. Maybe I enjoyed life more when I was younger because I wasn’t stuck in my own head but exploring all these imaginary worlds – I never really liked toys, I liked the outdoors and I loved reading, and I was a happy child, I know that. I just hope one day I can be a happy adult too.

Sometimes I feel so lonely. Even when I’m in a crowded room. Even when the people I love are all around me. If I push people away, it’s because I don’t want to hurt them, not because I don’t care or I don’t love them. The more I care, the harder it is to let people in. The only reason I’m still here is because I know it will hurt people if I escape. I have a lot more I could say. I could probably write a book about all this. At the moment this is private, somewhere for me to let a lot of stuff out where you don’t know who I am, you don’t know where I come from and you don’t know how I appear to the outside world.

Everyone has a story. This is just a tiny hidden part of mine.

-E