My Mental Health Journey

Secrets

I used to think when I was younger if I didn’t speak about something… Not that it was less true, exactly.. But almost like if I didn’t talk about it… I was going to say it wasn’t real, but even that isnt right..

Some people bottle their problems up and just expect them to “go away”. I have never had this mentality. I actually get annoyed by people who ignore their problems thinking if they do so that they will just go away. Sure, I bottle my shit up too. But not in the expectation that it will just magically disappear if I don’t look at it directly. I put it on the shelf to deal with at a later time (when I have time to deal with it properly, or when I am able to actually mentally process it, etc), or I hold it in to not hurt others, or because the consequences of acting on certain feelings just is not worth it, pure and simple.

But. I really don’t know how to word it lol. So I will just give an example I guess. About 10yrs ago (I’m guessing, and man has that time flown! And it doesn’t really matter exactly when it happened anyway) I got a call in the middle of the night, literally, from my social father (who at the time I believed was my father). My middle step sister had made accusations against him. That he had “taken advantage of her”. She wouldn’t elaborate as to what that meant exactly, but its not hard to imagine where it was aimed. This was in the first week of January. I knew something had happened, as Christmas had half of my family not talking to each other, and I was the only one in the room who didn’t know what was going on. And no-one would tell me. My stepsister had moved out with my older stepsister (they would have been like 16 and 19, roughly, I would have been 20), and I knew that, but again not why. Until like a week after Christmas, like 2 months after it had all happened, did they deem it worth telling me. But whatever. Excluding me is a fine art they have been practicing for most of my life.

But as much as I hated them for not telling me, I didn’t tell anyone but my mum. Even though 4hrs after I got off the phone to him (and I would have gotten like 2hrs sleep, after crying myself to sleep), I went away with my best friend for like 5 days. It was a 5hr drive to get to where we were going, and it was just the two of us. But I did not breath a single word of it to her. Or any of my other friends. Why? Honestly, part of me felt shame. I don’t know why. But I did. Another part of me was embarrassed. I was confused. And shocked. And honestly overwhelmed. But I felt like the least amount of people who knew, the less it was a thing. I knew it was real. I felt its realness. Everyday. But it was just less.

But then it was like one day I realised, whether I talked about it or not didn’t change the fact that it had happened. And people weren’t going to judge me for it. And even if they did, doesn’t really matter. Thats on them, not on me. So I talked to my best friends. And you know what happened? I felt better. For just letting it out. For someone else (other than my mum!) to know what was going on in my life.

And since then? Its not like I go around spouting my life story to everyone I meet, but “secrets” mean less to me. Not secrets that others share with me; if someone tells me something in confidence it stays that way. Other peoples business is just that; theirs to share with whomever they choose. But my own? I’m a lot more open now. Obviously, there is a time and a place for everything, and I’m not going to share intimate details with you if I don’t know you, or don’t feel comfortable with you, but you get the gist.

I have anxiety. Whether I talk about it or not, its there. I’m overweight and want to lose weight. Whether I talk about it or not, its true. I’m a sperm donor baby. Whether I talk about it or not, its a fact. You get my point. Not that I think the whole world cares about my “problems”. I could probably count on both hands the amount of people who legitimately do care. But I think thats part of what makes it so freeing; everyone has their own problems. They have their own struggles. They aren’t judging me. Or blaming me. Or thinking any less of me. Or spouting my “gossip” to everyone. We are all just getting through our day.

I recently discovered a song called “Secrets” by Mary Lambert. And honestly? It makes me laugh, it makes me happy, its my jam! Besides a line about her loving her butt lol I’m happy for her but don’t share her sentiments about myself haha. Listen to it if you can, its quite good. And some of the lyrics “They tell us from the time we’re young to hide the things that we don’t like about ourselves, inside ourselves. I know I’m not the only one who spent so long attempting to be someone else, well I’m over it” are just so, so true.

Advertisements
My Mental Health Journey

Is it just me?

So I recently changed dosage of my anxiety medication. I started out on the lower dosage when I first starting taking it, about 3years ago? About a year and a half ago I had the dosage upped as I was going through some struggles… I have had a change in environment and was working myself up to drop my dosage. No one (I assume here) wants to spend their life dependant on medication to get through their day. Myself included in this.

But when I went to the doctor about a month ago, I couldn’t get in with my normal doctor. So I had to see someone else. I told her I was thinking about doing another 3 months on the higher dosage and then dropping down. She suggested I just drop down now. And I was a little nervous, but at the same time, I want to drop down. I want to get off it. So I thought, “Why not? I can do this!”. And honestly, I am glad I did it. Its weird, but I almost feel better now than when I did taking the higher dosage? I don’t even know if thats a thing, that my dosage was too high and affecting me the opposite way its meant to do? (I will at this point also take a moment to say the dr advised me if I “crashed” that taking two tablets instead of one was equivalent to one of the higher dose, and that it was safe to do so and re-book and she would up the script again).

Now, don’t get me wrong, I do still have the occasional moment when I feel down. I feel sad. Or I feel mad. Or hopeless. But you know what? I think I need to re-learn that it is “normal” to have all of those feelings and emotions. Its literally human right? When you have a mental illness, its so easy to tell yourself that your anxiety is making you paranoid, and scared. And that your depression is making you feel worthless, and sad and alone, even angry. That its almost irrational that you are having these feelings, and that if you didn’t suffer from that mental illness you wouldn’t be mad/sad/angry/scared etc. Coz normal people don’t have that, right?

But thats not right, is it? Every single human being on the face of this earth has feelings. But thats what mental illness does; it tells you that things that are “normal” (sorry I hate that word, just completely lacking to find another word which fits), are wrong. You have to learn to accept your feelings. That it is ok to feel upset when something “bad” happens. That it is ok to feel anger when someone wrongs you. That its ok to feel weary, to feel joy, to feel competitive and strive for more. Like everything in life, moderation is important. And its all how you choose to respond and use your feelings. But it is normal to have feelings.

Today, I didn’t feel the best. I was feeling “low”. I just didn’t want to interact with other humans. I was tired. Everything felt like an effort. Everything was hard. People were annoying me. I wanted to shake it off, but I also just wasn’t feeling it. I pulled together and had a few good hours at work, but then when I left I just felt low again. Down. Just so bone deep exhausted I wanted to cry.

But everyone has bad days right? Everyone has those days that they just want to have a pyjama day away from the world? But this is where I do wonder, when other people have these days, do they know why? Has something specific and identifiable caused it? Coz I don’t always. Sometimes I just have days like today for seemingly no reason. At least none that I can identify. And today was just one of those days.

My Mental Health Journey

I’m Not That Girl Anymore… Or Am I?

So today is my “baby” sisters birthday. I put baby in parenthesis as she turned 19 today. Hardly a “baby”. But my day has been filled of memories of her since I met her when she was 3yrs old (she is my “stepsister” – being that her mother is married to my social father). So many memories in that 16yrs.

And not all of her. Some of me. When our relationship was at its closest. When we both lived under the same roof. When I was 14 -16yrs old. My step mum kicked me out just before Christmas the following Feb in which I was to turn 17, and insisted I live with her before the Christmas the following Feb I was to turn 15. She did potentially save me from potentially being raped,  but thats not what we are talking about right now. I was in pretty bad shape for probably the first 9 months in which I lived there with them. That I will never deny. But my baby sister became my rock. My reason for living. My everything. Yeah, it was distraction and diversion as I would put all of my focus and energy into everything about her for as many of the hours of the day as I possibly could. When she was at school was the hardest. I had dropped out of school, I couldn’t be there anymore. Because the rest of my day literally orbited around her; her breakfast, getting her ready for school, getting her to school, getting her from school, making sure she did her “homework”, reading with her, colouring with her, making sure she ate all her dinner, showering her and teaching her to shower herself etc you get the picture. If I slept 4hrs a day that was a good day. I couldn’t eat much, I couldn’t sleep, I didn’t want to do anything, I didn’t want to be anywhere. Most of all in my own head.

I would read when I couldn’t sleep because lying there not being able to sleep whilst one of my other sisters snored away peacefully on the other side of the room – I could literally feel my sanity slipping away with the hours I was not sleeping when I “should” have been. Sometimes she would wake up and “read” with me for 10mins before she would be snoring again lol.

I literally shut out all my friends. They were immature bitches anyway. But occasionally I wonder what would have been different in my life if I hadn’t have done it. Probably just more drunken nights with other people, rather than alone. But in all honesty, I couldn’t have stayed friends with them. They were so ignorant to everything. But hey. 15yr old girls; who can blame them right? We all mature at different stages and times in our lives, and lucky them for having a longer childhood than me. Right?

I hated myself. Hate is not even a strong enough word. Don’t get me wrong, I have never once been suicidal. I do not judge people who reach those lows. But it does amaze me in all my lows that I never once went there. I did self harm. In more ways than one.

Neither of my parents were really around much when I was growing up. My mother moved back in with her parents/my grandparents when I was three and we stayed with them until they moved interstate when I was 9. My mum was working fulltime, but all of my memories in that time, and in this house, she isnt in any of them. In fact, the one memory I do have of her in that time; my nan always dropped me off and picked me up from school. One day no-one showed up. There was a park next to the school, and a boy in my class lived next to the park. We decided to play in the park and wait for me to be picked up. Just as it was getting dark his mum wanted him to come inside, and he then told her no-one had come for me. Right then, my nan pulls up. She had just done the groceries, and taken them home. And found my mum home, but not with me. My mum had told my nan not to pick me up, that she wanted to pick me up to surprise me. And forgot all about me. Until my nan came home with the groceries and asked where I was.

I have this weird, obsession, is the only term I can think of. I cling to people. Normally women, normally older than me (even if only by a few years, but when I was a teenager it was like women old enough to be a parent, whether my own or a younger Childs), and I honestly cant help to wonder if thats why. Because I spent most of my childhood from the age of 9 alone. I would see my social father every fortnight (most of the time) and my mum was always at work (average 60hrs a week I think) and the rest of the time I wasn’t at school or work I was alone. Most of the time I didn’t mind it, actually came to prefer it, but surely in those developmental years its not healthy.

But I still do it. And I still drink sometimes when I have had a shitty day, because I have had a shitty day. I am still so good at beating myself down, and not that good at building myself back up again. I’m back on anti-depressants for anxiety. (Although I have a 8 month plan for that!).

As much as I would like to think I have outgrown all my issues, I don’t think I have. What if I never do?

My Mental Health Journey

My Heart Has Begun Racing Again

One of the worse physical symptoms of my anxiety that caused me to go on medication because I couldn’t handle it anymore was my heart would race. So fast.

Like it literally was going to beat so fast I was going to have a heart attack. Or my heart would escape out of my chest. I could feel my pulse throbbing through my entire body in my veins. Like my veins could explode from the force of the blood that my heart was rushing through them. I couldn’t breathe. Like, I could breathe, but I felt like I couldn’t breathe. And that would just make the anxiety worse. Because then my body would go into overdrive panic mode which would then make it even harder to breathe. And the vicious cycle begins. And when I am in public, or at work, its not really an ideal situation.

I would have this along with sweating palms, hot flushes, and the need to flight (over fight). Whether that was also caused by my racing heart, I don’t know. It then got so severe, and so re-occurant that I couldn’t handle it any longer.

And then when I started to take the medication the physical symptoms began to disappear. Which was amazing. But then I started to feel depressed. Like, literal depression was upon me. I don’t know if the physical symptoms were blocking the depression, or whether the medication was causing those feelings. My partner, and my therapist both think it is the former. I honestly don’t know. The former does seem more likely, but I cant disregard the latter altogether when antidepressants can increase the desire to commit suicide can I?

Not that I am suicidal. Argh, I digress. Lately, maybe the past fortnight or so, my heart has been racing again. But at seemingly random times. I could be driving along, singing along to music, and bam heart starts having palpitations, or I could be in the shower, or falling asleep, or watching tv, you get the idea. Or writing this post. It has just started.

I don’t know why it has started again. But I want it to stop. I need it to stop.

My Mental Health Journey

Only You Can Decide What Breaks You

I am going to start this post by referencing where this came from… It is in A Court of Wings And Ruin by Sarah J. Maas.

I read this today. The page that this quote was on anyway. And it just really… Spoke to me? Called out to me? Whatever you want to call it, I love it. So much so that I contemplating it as another tattoo.

I will be the first person to put my hand up and say I love quotes; inspirational, motivational, spiritual, friendship, you name it. I always have. So I have read plenty. Especially in line with this meaning.

But this speaks to me on a deeper level. A deeper level of personal, internal strength. A deeper level of perseverance. Of determination. Of self empowerment. Of not letting toxic people around you, drag you down to their level.

To me, it kinda remind me of the quote by Eleanor Roosevelt that says “No-one can make you feel inferior without your consent”; I first heard that quote I think maybe 12yrs ago? Or close to? And whilst I did come across it at a time I needed to hear things like that, it didn’t 100% do the job.

But this quote? Literally did touch my soul. Maybe because by the time I get to the stage that I need to hear things like this, its to late to hear Eleanors quote and really have it make a positive effect. But this? I feel like this quote could have the potential to pull me out of any nasty slump at any stage.

Why? Because without sounding like a whinger, I have had so many toxic people in my life. Especially in the past 10 years. And it has been so hard at times fighting through that. And I say without trying to sound like a whinger because I know that everyone has to deal with shitty people at some stages. I know that I am not the only person.

And it always strikes me how different things look when you are no longer on the “inside” and you are more looking from the outside in. When you are no longer in the thick of it, going through it, experiencing things first hand.

One thing that has always stuck with me when I have been having a hard time with other people that just seem so determined to bring you down with their poison is asking myself whether I really want them and their nastiness and negativity to win/bring me down/beat me. It started with my first job actually. Haha its silly, but there was marginal heavy lifting at times (anywhere up to 30kgs), which now doesn’t seem like heaps, but when you are 15 lol it was hard at times, especially the longer you were doing it and how tired you were etc but I would try to break it down in my head and say to myself “Are you really going to let a box beat you? A box!”; now obviously it wasn’t empty boxes I was lifting lol but the principle was there. And you know what? It worked. Not to say I wouldn’t still be exhausted at the end, but I made it to the end. Because I would not let material items “beat” me. And maybe thats a bad way of looking at things; being so competitive (?) or insecure that I couldn’t handle feeling like a failure. Even if no one else saw it that way. I did.

But this quote? Kinda reinforces this for me. “Only you can decide what breaks you”. Someone shitty telling you that you are inadequate? Its easy to let yourself get pulled down by the negative, but ask yourself “What do they know?”.

Because one thing that I find funny about people, and I guess just human nature and mentality in general, is that we find it so easy to be pulled down by negativity thrown at us by people around us, regardless how much we know them and the kind of person that they are. And yet, being encouraged and motivated by things others around us say? Not so much.

So you know what? Next time someone around you says something negative to/about you, try it. Try remembering this quote, and don’t let anyone pull you down to their level.

My Mental Health Journey

The Truth

I want to help people. I want to help myself. I want to change the world, for better. Cliché right? I want to be the person that everyone comes to, not necessarily because I know everything (no one can know everything), but because they have faith in me and my abilities, and feel comfortable and not scared or intimidated to come to me for help. I want them to know that I actively want to help them, that it honestly gives me joy to the centre of my being helping others, and seeing them grow, whatever and however it may be.

I want to make the world a better place. There are so many ugly things going on in the world every single day. And from where I am sitting, the cause? People, and the way they treat each other. I honestly feel like every problem in the world is caused by, and could be fixed by, the way that people treat each other. If people legitimately treated others the way that they wanted to be treated, stopped to consider what others may currently be going through, or thought how they could positively impact others’ lives, the world would be a more beautiful place. Sure, you have those whom are genuinely “bad” people who don’t care either way, but perhaps if they had been given a chance, had had positive influences and opportunities in their lives, how different would they be?

I want to make myself better. A better human being. A non-medicated, happy, healthy human being. Someone I can admire. Someone I can be proud of.

But the truth? The truth is I am hopeless. Right now I can’t even figure out how to help myself, let alone those around me, let alone the world at large!

Don’t get me wrong – I will continue to help others around me as they need it, and as they ask for it. I am one of those people who will be so exhausted and so worn down, but still put others before my own needs. Some people view this type of personality as a good thing, some view it as a bad thing, personally the jury is still out for me on this one. I get so much joy helping others, but sometimes I am still giving when I have nothing left and wear my self down.

The truth is, right now, I can feel myself spiralling. Down, down, down. I have felt like this before. On and off for honestly 12yrs. I will seem to be ok for a few years and then bam! Seemingly out of nowhere, things will either start piling up or I will just out of nowhere I will feel overwhelmed by nothing. The anxiety that starts as the random nasty thought, that then progresses to anxiety, and then tears on through to full blown paranoia….

And then the self harm starts. Or I start drinking. Or I take more pain killers than I should, more often than I should. I contemplate what would happen if I doubled up on my anxiety meds. Or I start pushing people away. Or I do the opposite, and become obsessed with becoming close friends with people who are currently just acquaintances… Or I go the other way again and start questioning the motives of everyone around me, do they mean what they are saying, why are they doing this, what are they saying to other people etc. Or a combination of multiple of these.

And whilst I recognise the whole way through that my behaviour and thoughts are completely erratic, irrational, crazy, harmful to myself and others, and completely unhelpful, I cannot stop it. I cannot stop myself. And then I drive myself even more crazy hiding my instability from others. Because I then have blind terror over what will happen if others realise how completely crazy I am. Its like when you drop something, or someone else drops something, and it feels like everything is going in slow motion, like an accident; you can see it happening, in minute detail, but you can’t do a single thing to stop it. Its like you are a paralysed spectator to your own life.

So then I feel like a complete hypocrite for wanting to help others. How can I help anyone else if I can’t even help myself?

 

My Mental Health Journey

When You Feel Like Your Life Is Spiraling Out Of Control, You Cling To Any Form Of “Control” You Can….

Sometimes you get overwhelmed. Sometimes it might be for an hour, or for a day, or for a week. Or it might be more long term. Months. Maybe even years, if you can hold out that long. I dont know that I could.

When you feel like your life is spiraling out of control, you cling to any form of “control” you can. Literally any; some of it might be almost “healthy” – you might get your nails done, or your hair done, you might change your wardrobe, you might start studying, start eating healthy and exercise, change your job, or get a new car, hell you might even move.

Coz having any form of control is better than having none right? No matter how small, or  insignificant it may seem. Getting that makeover, moving, buying new things, new diet and fitness routine, it makes you feel better. It makes you feel grounded. It makes you feel less worthless. Less useless. Stronger. More in control……. And less like others are dictating your existence in this world..

But then you have the “unhealthy” control attempts (situation dependent); you might get a tattoo and/or a piercing, you might start self-harming, you might irrationally cut people out of your life, you may start substance abuse (either in the form of drugs or alcohol, or both), you make take “health and fitness” too far and become anorexic or bulimic or exercise to the point you make yourself sick, you might start extreme sporting or doing dangerous physical activities. The list could literally go on forever.

This is another post that is being written over multiple sessions. Some posts are just so personal, so important, I feel like I need to get it perfect.

And I also don’t know how good a job I am doing of that right now…

Feeling like your life is spinning out of control is scary. Its so overwhelming that you sometimes feel like you can’t breath. You feel like you are getting crushed from the outside in. Or sometimes even from the inside out.

The logical part of your brain may even be able to rationalise that things will be ok. That you do have options. That things don’t last forever. That you do have support around you, and people who care about you and want to help you.

Unfortunately none of that helps the feeling of being so overwhelmed you feel like you are drowning.

And perhaps even worse than this? Is the “knowledge” that if one of your problems, possibly even two, was solved that you would feel…. Back in control? Like you caught enough of a breath in your lungs to push your body to the surface towards the sun? Like rather than tumbling head over tail down a steep cliff face you are putting one foot in front of the other and tackling that mountain to happiness, and winning?

But what do you do to get yourself out of this hole? Because sometimes you can sit back, and make a list of all of the rocks dragging you to the ocean floor. And from there you can try to work out what you can do to ease those burdens. And maybe you can only see the solution for one. Or maybe two. Or maybe even all of them if you can manage it. (And good for you if you can!!!). I guarantee though even if you can solve one problem you can feel worlds lighter. It may even surprise you, the thing that seemed the hardest might be the easiest, and vice versa.

If you can’t see an out though? If you can’t see through the forest for the trees what then? I seriously suggest reaching out. Talk to someone. Anyone. Friends, family, even a professional if you need to. It can be hard when you are in the middle of something to see perspective. And sometimes you honestly need external intervention to pull you out of your current funk into something happier and healthier.

I found myself in this overwhelming funk quite recently. Which obviously prompted this post. I was drowning. I didn’t know what to do. I felt like there must be solutions to every single one of my problems, but I couldn’t see a single one, and even the hint of one had me running so much faster and further away with the irrational thoughts that I would probably just make it worse.

So how did I get out of it? I am still one foot in one foot out of it at the moment. But I am one foot out of it. And that is what I am currently focusing on. I am almost out of it. And this time, I didn’t pull myself out. I have been pulled out. I have had external help, and I am being pulled into shore on a life raft.

You do feel empowered when you are able to pull yourself out of your funk. Or at least I know I do, every time I do manage to do it. I feel empowered, and strong, and invincible. But you know what else? When I need help I don’t feel the opposite of these things; I don’t feel weak, or helpless, or useless. Asking for, and accepting, help requires you to be strong. Admitting you need help is not a weakness, it is a strength.

Human beings are so diverse. And I don’t think thats an accident. People are good at different things. No-one is good at everything. Just as no-one is bad at everything. You may have times when you feel like you are good at nothing; but I promise you that isn’t true.