So I’ve been asked a question!!
Describe your emotions where you were at your lowest, when you were offered support, when on the road to recovery and now.
Okay, so here goes trying to answer it!!
At my lowest:
- Hated everything about myself
- Anxious all the time, about anything and everything.
- Didn’t feel good enough for anyone
- Just wanted to be left alone
- I felt I constantly needed to be punished, which led to severe self harm
- Not worthy of being loved
- Not believed
- Like I was sinking in quicksand each and every day, getting lower and lower
- Heard voices in my head, constantly putting me down and making me feel even worse
Looking back over my blog posts back then, the way I saw life was very bleak. I didn’t see any future for myself and on a daily basis I battled with suicidal thoughts. I was convinced that everyone would be better off without me in their lives. Of course I never had the courage to go through with those thoughts, and never attempted anything. But I did self harm on a daily basis. I felt that it was the only way I could release the pain and anguish that tortured me. The voices were very negative, and at the time I believed everything that they said. That I was fat, ugly, unloved and very much alone. Despite having a lot of people that cared about me and constantly showed me support, I always felt like no one understood and that I was on my own with it all. It was an awful existence. To be honest that’s all I felt like I was doing, existing. I wasn’t living. I was an empty shell of my former self, and shut everyone and everything out. It was the only way I could cope with being alive every day.
When I was offered support:
- Struggled to grab the lifelines thrown my way
- Didn’t feel I deserved the support
- Didn’t want to admit there was anything wrong
I had become so used to the way I felt, to me it felt normal almost. So, when I started getting help from medical professionals, I was very reluctant to let them help me. I was really closed off and unresponsive. I didn’t want medication, I didn’t want to talk about anything and just wanted to be left alone in my little pit of misery.
Over time though I began to open up, and once I started on some medication I saw brief glimpses of light at the end of the tunnel. Of course, the medication wasn’t a quick fix, it takes time for things like that to start taking effect. So at first I was still reluctant to take them, as I wasn’t feeling any better for doing so. But, with a lot of encouragement from friends and family, I started to have a small amount of belief that they would help me, and carried on taking them. At the time though, this was before diagnosis and before any of the psychiatric help, so I’d still got a long road ahead of me.
I was referred for the CBT, and was very dubious as to what good it would do. I didn’t see how sitting in a group of other depressed people, was going to help me. I’m surprised I stuck to the full 12 week course to be honest. Some weeks were a lot harder than others, and I faced many demons on the way. There was many a time I wouldn’t partake in group discussions, I’d just sit there; there in body but not in mind. At the end of the course I was commended for my bravery and determination to see the course through, as not everyone who started it actually did. I received a lot of 1-1 support from one of the course leaders, and I think that’s really where my turning point began. I felt at ease talking to her and often spilled out all of my emotions to her.
Along with the CBT I began seeing my Pdoc (Psychiatrist). I never really built up a good relationship with her to be honest, We just didn’t seem to connect in any way whatsoever. But again, with a lot of encouragement I kept going to the appointments, and in hindsight I am glad that I did. She was the one who diagnosed me with Bipolar. That was a huge turning point for me. I finally had a reason for all the ways I was feeling, the crazy emotional rollercoaster, it all started to make sense. I did find it hard to accept the diagnosis at first; I guess I didn’t want to believe it really. I’d always thought it was just depression in varying degrees, and that the anti-depressants that I’d always taken would always work. But they stopped working, and it was because it wasn’t just a simple case of depression. They caused me to experience hypomania on a few occasions, and that too was kind of scary. I felt very vulnerable but oh so happy and like I could take on the world. I would spend uncontrollably, causing financial stress for my husband. I’d disregard my safety, doing things like walking across the road in front of oncoming cars. It wasn’t a nice place to be to be honest.
On the road to recovery:
- I finally had belief in myself
- Like I’d been thrown a lifeline and could actually hold on to it for the first time in a long time, and I wanted to
I can’t really list the way I felt when I began my road to recovery; it’s very hard to describe. I still felt cautious and anxious about it, due to the fact that the highs I experienced were always followed by severe lows. It made me very suspicious of my medication, and the voices were still very much there. I had to trial a lot of medications until I found one that suited me. That was the hardest part. I suffered severe side effects with one particular medication, and it made me feel so ill. It was like having the flu in the worst possible way. I felt sick, lethargic, had skin reactions and couldn’t sleep so matter how tired I was. It was awful. I think I was only on them for about 3 or 4 weeks, and when I saw my Pdoc and told her what I’d experienced she took me off them immediately. I felt somewhat relieved, but it took a further couple of weeks for the side effects to settle down, so I still had some tricky times to get through. Eventually, between my GP and the Pdoc, they found a combination of medication that suited me. There were of course side effects to start with, as with every medication, but they were far more tolerable than the last one. In time, they passed and I was able to take them without suffering too much. To this day, I do suffer from nausea and lethargy from them, but have learnt to live with it. For the sake of being stable in mood, I’m willing to keep taking them. I’m currently on a low does anti-psychotic, to prevent me from going high, and a high does anti-depressant, because my low moods were so severe. Between the 2 of them they keep me on a nice level that means I can function day to day quite well.
I finally saw light at the end of the tunnel, and I knew that I would get there one day, and I had the belief in myself to keep fighting. Every day was a stepping stone in the right direction, and with all the professional help and the support of my friends and family, I began to let the world in again. I started to be more like my old self, and my husband described it as ‘getting my wife back’, bless him. I hate to think how hard it must have been for him when I was at my worst. It must have been terrifying to see me so low and I really do appreciate him for sticking with me through all of it. He’s truly one in a million.
Right now, in this moment, I’m the happiest I’ve been through all of it. I’m very content with life and have some really amazingly supportive friends and family, who give life so much meaning. I’m happy to be alive, and so so thankful that I kept on fighting through all of the really crappy times. I look at my self harm scars sometimes, and ask myself why I did it. I never really find an answer, other than it was just the coping mechanism that worked best for me at the time. In a weird way too, I’m proud of them. They show a battle that I faced and ultimately won. I was stronger than that which tried to hurt me. Today marks 221 days self harm clean, and I’ve never been more proud of myself. Something that was so out of my control before, I’ve finally gotten a grip on and really do feel that it’s a part of my life that is well and truly over and done with. I don’t need to do it any more and the urges are a thing of the past for sure. Today is also the day that I celebrate this victory with a new tattoo! (Will post a photo later on, as getting it done at 6.30pm tonight).
It’s been an incredibly epic journey, spanning a good couple of years. My only wish is that I had started my blog sooner that I did. But, the last year was definitely the one to document, as it was truly when I hit rock bottom in August 2013. And what a year it has been since then. One very big emotional ride, and I’m living proof that there is life after mental illness. So, if you are reading this, and you are where I was back then, please don’t give up. Get the help you need and keep fighting for life. Mental illness doesn’t have to mean the end of things, it’s merely just a bump in the road, and with the right help and support, you too can beat it like I have. I’ll always have mental illness, but I’m learning every day how to control it and not let it get the better of me. Of course the medication helps a lot with that! But for me, Bipolar is what I have, not what I am. It’s a condition that is manageable, and I know that I can now. I’m familiar with my triggers, and can often feel when I’m going high or low and take action to prevent it getting too bad. I’ve done a lot of research about the condition too, and that has definitely helped me. Looking back over my many, many years with struggles with depression, I feel I have always had Bipolar, it’s just gone unnoticed. Always being brushed off as just depression, and pills thrown at me.
I’m grateful that I’ve found a GP that truly gets me and understands. If it wasn’t for him putting me on the right path for help, I honestly don’t know where I would be now. He really went above and beyond to help me, and I have made sure he knows how much I appreciate it. He has my anchor painting on his wall, and has told me that it has also helped others in my position, to see that there is hope for us all. For those of you unfamiliar with what that painting was, it was a picture of an anchor, with a feather twisting round it, and the words “I refuse to sink, instead I’ll learn to fly!”. And fly I have done. I found my wings, released the anchor that was weighing me down, embraced my recovery and learnt to fly.
In conclusion to all of this, I want you all to know that there is hope and you will find your wings too. Just never, ever, give up. You are stronger than you believe, and you can and will defeat mental illness. I have faith in you, even if you don’t in yourself. Even though I don’t know you, I believe in you. I’ve been where you are, and know how bad it can get. But, I also know how good it can be too, life is worth living. I’m glad that I went through hell to be honest, because it has made me so much stronger, and more determined to really embrace life. Every day I make count, no matter what I do. Even if it’s just a normal day, getting up, going to work, and coming home again; I make every moment count, and if I can help just 1 person with this blog, then I know my struggles weren’t in vain. Stay strong my lovelies, you can get to where I am now. Trust me.
Until next time folks… take care x