I think that's the most appropriate "phrase" I can think of for this blog post.
I'm signed off work again, which was sort of expected, sort of not. After coming back from my Mindfulness retreat, I felt on such a high, it was great. I had plenty of things to keep me busy, I'd gained skills I could use for the rest of my life, whether I was anxious or not. But then it also got me thinking - what next? Coming home from the Lake District was brilliant. I'd missed my fiancé, my family and friends, and of course the cats. But at the same time, I knew what my mind was capable of. Why can't it be like that more often? There's a glimmer of the 'Old Kim' back there somewhere, but how do I reach her and make her a part of my everyday life?
It got me thinking about my life in general. Where am I? My anxiety and depression have always held me back, at school, in college, in careers. I let it control every fibre of my being, and how I act in every single situation. My mind is constantly buzzing with something, it's never calm, or still, not even for a second and it's tiring me, it's physically draining me to always live like this, when I know there is better for me out there, when I know I can have a life that I want, rather than a life I feel I HAVE to have to suit my illness.
And so things went downhill again. After everything I try to campaign for, I still feel this sense of guilt, even though I'm always harping on about how you shouldn't feel guilty with any kind of illness, physical or mental. But I do - I started to blame myself, my future was only what I'd made of it, no one else. I'd dropped out of college, I'd chosen to become some sort of recluse who fears so much in life... right? Things got to the point where I couldn't sleep, despite being absolutely flippin' shattered. I was dreaming very bizarrely, and shouting in my sleep (my poor other half got quite the earful one morning!). Then other random things were happening, like I wasn't talking properly. I was hearing a question, but I couldn't absorb it, and I'd come out with an answer that to the people around me would laugh at, and fair enough, I was coming out with ridiculous stuff! And it was difficult to just brush off... It was like my brain wasn't connecting with my emotions and vice versa. I felt angry at myself, what was going on? What have I done wrong? Why can't I just be NORMAL?! I started fixating on incredibly negative things, sometimes they were thoughts, sometimes memories. Or certain songs. And I'd find it hard to switch off, like two people were having a little natter in my brain right up until I finally managed to sleep. It made me cry, quite a lot. Sometimes there would be no need for a trigger either, which made it difficult to try and look out for. My days started to turn into sofa sessions and that's when I knew that Big Black Cloud was coming for me.
I've always said to people that the depression that I feel (and this is just how I feel!) is almost physical. First I feel tired, so lethargic, and out of energy, despite not doing anything whatsoever. Then, my legs would start to feel heavy. Like someone had tied little tiny weights on to my ankles and I was having to use that little bit more energy to lift them, just to walk. My chest felt heavy, like it does when you're about to or are crying. But sometimes I wasn't crying, the weight was just there.
One day my head was so freakin' NOISY that I just couldn't handle it anymore. I just wanted everything to shut up and sit down. I only needed five minutes peace in my head - why could I not even have that? So that's when things started to change.
Having a conversation with a loved one can be hard, but it is necessary. I can't reiterate that enough. I understand that not all people are in the situation where they can talk to someone about how they're feeling, and I am incredibly lucky to have a fantastic support network now. My fiancé is supportive, a good listener, and has a lot of patience (he's just a bugger for leaving the washing up) and it was him I knew I had to speak to. Offloading was all I needed - I didn't expect answers, I just needed someone to listen and not to judge me. And that was what he did. He didn't have an answer he just let me ramble and gave me a cuddle after. Perfect.
It was then we both decided things needed to change. Life is what you make it (corny, but relevant) and I choose to use my illness for good. I can't let it take a grip. I'm too young, I'm (scared, but) ambitious. I have dreams and goals, and I have a family to look forward to someday. I've inquired about some psychology courses to hopefully start the ball rolling on my education again. I've started volunteering for Mind as a Resource Finder, and I love the work I do, even if it's just a little. My house is starting to become tidier as my energy grows, and I'll get there.
Sorry if this post seems a bit black and depressing, but I'm fed up with sugar coating. Depression is CRAP. Anxiety is CRAP. Mental illnesses when they control your life are CRAP and there's no two ways about it. We can choose to sit and suffer, or we choose to talk about mental health - we all have it. And one of the greatest things I've learnt recently is that it's okay to have a bad day. If you want to spend a day sitting on the sofa, crying to chick flicks, eating Ben and Jerry's and staying in your onesie, that's fine. Why shouldn't you? Give something back to yourself. I've started that process of taking time out - I'm recovering after all.
So remember - it will be okay. Sending hugs to anyone suffering with the Big Black Cloud right now. x
"Every time I close my eyes I can touch the colors around me
Suddenly I realise everything I thought was impossible is here
And my heart sings in a world so incredible
And everything burns much brighter"