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dear diary mental health

F*ck You, 2020. Or in other words, a life catch up from me to you.

Content Warning – Depression & Anxiety, Suicidal thoughts / ideation, Terminal illness of a pet.

I never wrote out a resolutions list for 2020 and honestly, I am glad I didn’t. I meant to, and in my head I have a good idea of the things the would have been on that list. But I didn’t actually write it… or at least, I don’t think I did; it could be hiding somewhere in my Bullet Journal, waiting to pop out from behind the proverbial bush and surprise me. As long as that doesn’t happen, I’m pleased as I don’t have a long list of things I have failed at doing.

Still… although the list does not exist, I still know what my hopes were for this year. And it wasn’t to be where I’m sat right now.

I don’t mean physically. Not sure if I need to make that clear, but just in case I did! I fully expected to be sat in the same house, in the same village, etc etc. But I didn’t expect to be 3 weeks into an absence from work. I didn’t expect my mental health to be the worst it has been for a couple of years now. I didn’t expect to be writing this with the knowledge that I am signed off work for the next 3 1/2 weeks at least. I didn’t expect to be more than 8 months into 2020, and to be feeling like an utter, abject failure.

If my nearest and dearest are reading this…I know that you would jump in and say something at this point, if this were something being talked about rather than written. You would say that I’m not a failure for the stress and anxiety of the last few months reaching breaking point. Especially with a world wide, unprecedented pandemic in the mix. And I know that you would be (that you are) right, and I love you so much for continuing to remind me.

Feelings so often don’t listen to reason and logic however, and I find myself lost between the voices of my emotional and logical brains. One telling me that I should be flexible and strong enough to navigate the changes that COVID-19 have brought to our lives without my mental health suffering; the other rationalising how as a person who lives with mental illness, I was already rolling with a -5 before ‘lockdown’ and ‘social distancing’ became common words/phrases in our day to day lexicon.

It’s not just been the pandemic either. Things in the personal lives of myself and those I live with (my husband and girlfriend) have all added to the pot of stress, causing it to reach boiling point and overflow.

Unworthy. Inadequate. Weak. Pathetic. A selection of words I have used against myself in the last few weeks. They hurt coming from yourself about yourself.

Guilt. Shame. Anger. Resentment. Despair.

I have pushed people away and sought comfort in solitude and distraction. At one stage a few weeks ago, I hadn’t washed in over a week – I just didn’t care, didn’t see the point. And then, I started to wish for escape. Escape from the stress of life. Escape from life itself.

I haven’t seriously tried to do anything. I started to think about pills, how many it would take to give me a quiet end to life. I reached out for them in front of my husband and he took them away (we have meds around the house for all our various ailments). This happened on a couple of occasions. Thinking back on it, I think I was crying out for help more than anything – that if faced with a true quiet moment in which to follow through, I wouldn’t actually do it.

Which leads me to my present. My medication has been changed and is under review with my GP. I am still low, very low, but I don’t want to end my life. Well okay, part of me does. The part of me that is struggling with finding ‘the point’ to anything anymore. The part that keeps reminding me that I’ve been on this merry-go-round before. My mental health takes a nose dive, I end up off work. The last twice, it has been for around 2 months. I start back at work with a slow phased return, eventually building back up to what I was doing pre-absense and for a while, all is good. But in the end, it happens again. I end up back here.

At the start of the year, I was engaged in psychotherapy provided by the NHS. It was due to end early March, then got extended to July, which I was over the moon about as I thought I needed more time with my therapist; that there was a lot of ground from the past still to cover / talk through. I feel like COVID-19 has almost ‘robbed’ me of that extra time. In reality, only one appointment was lost to the pandemic (it was due to be on the same day that Mr Johnson announced the UK lockdown, so it was straight up cancelled), however most of the sessions after this point ended up focusing hard on pandemic related things, since that was the *big thing* in mine and everyone’s lives). As the end got closer and closer, I knew that there was ground I hadn’t covered with my therapist, and the time was simply no longer there. The sessions ended, and my feelings around that added to the ever-filling pot of stress.

***

I have inserted a pause here, as everything prior to this point was written in August. I started writing this piece and then just stopped. It became too hard mentally to continue. It is now 9th September. Not much has changed – I am still absent from work; my current fit note runs out next week and I do not expect the doctor to give me the all clear when we review my anti-depressant dosage next Wednesday. Two weeks ago, my focus was simply on making sure I was washing and dressing – basic self care stuff. After a rocky time last week, I’m pretty much doing the same thing this week, along with working on my mobility – possible arthritis in my knee making it hard to walk and hurting my back on Friday are only contributing to my mental state.

Today especially is going to be hard – in a couple of hours Michael and I are taking our 17 year old cat Misty to the vet with the expectation of not bringing her home. She has cancer of the month and the growth under her tongue has been growing for a good while. We had hoped she may be with us the rest of this year, but things haven’t played out that way.

My Mirtazapine dose is currently at 30mg a day – I am expecting this to increase as I am still feeling very low, with emotional outbursts. Michael and Paul are in the firing line of these most of the time. Socially I’ve withdrawn in most ways – on Facebook I browse and comment on the occasional post but its maybe once, twice a day at most? I’m not posting anything of my own. Same goes for both Twitter and Instagram. My dear friend Sarah sent me a DM on Instagram when she saw I wasn’t doing so well and it took me weeks to open it and even now when the lines of communication are open, I’m having to leave it a while between each reply I send. I know she understands but it frustrates me that I can’t just do what I normally can do and write back instantly. That it all feels harder, that it takes more energy and strength to work up to.

How can it be that my head feels so full of things….and yet, come up so empty at the same time? This is how it so often feels and its a swathe of emotion and thought that I can get lost in. It’s like looking through a phone directory that’s thousands and thousands of pages long, but each and every page is blank, but you keep turning to the next page hoping it has the number you need on it.

***

Why am I writing this? This, this jumble of thoughts and feelings. One of my multitude of counsellors / therapists, Richard, always told me that art and writing were one of the ways we can help ourselves to heal from trauma. I am not sure if moaning to oneself on the internet is quite what Richard meant when he talked about writing as a form of self healing, but it’s the only form I really know. Unless you go looking for my –really bad- TMNT fanfiction. Please, don’t.

I want to blog. I always say to myself that I want to blog. Mental health, healing from trauma… this is something I know about because I fucking live with it. Obviously I can only talk about my own experiences and how I navigate them, but maybe writing about them might help. Maybe it will help me get back to work, help me be social and function as a person again. Maybe.

So here I am. Writing.

Think of Misty for me. She is lying in the sun right now, enjoying the heat. I am going to go and take some photographs of her now in case she doesn’t come home (which is most likely).

Categories
dear diary mental health

A Dublin Adventure

Today is the start of an adventure that has been in my diary for at least 2 years. As soon as Michael (one of my partners…the one I’m married too! Check out the About page for a diagram of my polycule) heard that there was a possibility that WorldCon could be held in Dublin, Ireland, this year, it was put onto the Calendar.

WorldCon is the World Science Fiction Convention. It takes place every year at a different location. Michael attended ‘LonCon 3’, which was the WorldCon in 2014 and absolutely loved it (making Megan and I a little green with envy at all the fun he was having, truth be told!).

Originally, Michael, Megan and I were going to attend together, driving across to Dublin by taking the ferry from Liverpool. However Megan’s anxiety ‘got the better of her’, and she decided last year that she knew it was a trip she wasn’t going to be able to make. It saddened her, but she still wanted Michael and I to forge ahead and make the trip. So our plan changed. We switched from car and ferry, to flying over to Dublin with Ryanair (chosen for price, not service I assure you!). Our plan to stay in a hotel room changed to a hostel, which then changed to student accommodation (which is leased out to tourists during the summer) after the hostel we had booked closed! So there’s been some stress along the way, but we are finally here and on our way.

Only…I’m finding it hard to be excited and it’s killing me inside. Over the last few weeks, my own anxiety has been on the rise and it has peaked over the last week or so. I like flying…in fact I love flying. I have flown solo plenty of times in my life, both for personal and work reasons. So why today, even with Michael with me (a person who has been part of my life for the best part of 18 years and I trust with my soul) is it bothering me so much? Why today, am I writing this to distract myself rather than enjoying this experience like I usually do?

It’s very frustrating, and something I really hope I overcome once we land. I want to enjoy this trip, I really do!

Once we are in Dublin, we have today and tomorrow for sight seeing, and then the convention starts on Thursday. I am looking forward to seeing a couple of familiar faces and although it makes the knot in my stomach tighten, I do want I to make some new friends if I can. There are so many awesome panels on my list of ‘want to attends’ that I need to whittle down, as I have lots of overlap! And I am looking forward to finding out what exactly Star Trek Yoga is….even Michael is going to join in!

The act of writing this out has helped me a little bit. It’s helping me to see that I am actually looking forward to doing things at the convention.

I am also looking forward to a trip to Bewley’s on Grafton Street…it’s a must visit, correct? 😉

Categories
create mental health

Dipping my toes back into this blogging thing…

It possibly won’t last, but I’m going to try and ease myself back into blogging nice and slowly, starting with a small selection of arts and jewellery from the last few months.

One thing that emerged from the counselling sessions I have just came to the end of is that to continue healing, the use of art and writing can be very exploratory of self (which as a naturally creative person, I don’t quite understand why I’ve never linked using art as a means to help myself work through the trauma of the past…maybe I’ve just been too hindered by the emotional turmoil the connect the dots?), and can supplement and support a continued environment of recovery and, for me, acceptance, of what the past has meant for the present. I will probably write more about this as I continue my reading ‘post counselling’, on ACE’s (Advere Childhood Events), the role they play in shaping the people we ultimately become, and how we can look to recover after the fact.

For now however, here are the aforementioned promised pretty things! 😀