23 August 2014

Writing about the Hard Stuff: Mental Illness Pt.2

Hello beautiful people!

You know when you have so much to say, so much to explain, that you have no fricking clue where to start? Yeah, that's happening right now.

It's funny, I have this ridiculous compulsion to splurge all the feels but there are so many of them I may as well just smash my head against the keyboard repeatedly. It's always the important topics that are the most impossible to write about. Typical. As a side note, I feel I should just say; Mum, if you're reading this there WILL be swearing! I have done a disclaimer so now you can't tell me off :).

I guess the best thing to do is to start from the beginning (such an inventive idea, I know) so I'll link my first post about Mental Illness right here. If you want to be able to follow along with my ramblings, it might be a good idea to check it out first. 

As I mentioned before, I've struggled with depression since I was 11 years old. It's been an on/off thing ever since. Some days can feel like the end of the world then I could go a week feeling almost optimistic. It's an exhausting way to live, never knowing if the next day you wake up, if you're happy to wake up at all. When I got to uni I lost any and all small ability I had to control it. I would spend days on end in bed, make up excuses to not go out and basically panic about everything. Like, literally, everything. I've always been a worrier but when I hit 18 I just went, for lack of a better word, a bit mental. Everything turned into a worst possible scenario in my head and I lost all desire to do anything. To my mind, people only tolerated me, I didn't really have friends, I was going to fail my degree before I started annnnnddddd I was never going to succeed in life. So, in my head, I was a verifiable mess, incapable of doing the simplest task without panicking and thinking 'OH SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIIITTTTTTT'. Outwardly, I like to think I was cool, calm and collected. And herein lies the problem. My absolute and utter determination to keep my game-face on, to pretend that I was like everyone else, left me suffering alone and scared and terrified to talk to anyone. And this is the great deception of depression, it doesn't just make you think the worst about yourself, it isolates you from everybody. You become convinced that nobody will understand, that you'll be rejected and then you'll really be left alone. 

I wanted to write this post for a couple of reasons. Recently I had been trying to finish off some assignments for university. All I had to do was write some essays, submit them and then BOOM, degree in hand. It all sounded so simple! Except nothing's simple when you; 1) hate your degree, 2) second guess/triple guess/quadruple guess everything you write/do/say and 3) when you have to partake in regular human society and work for a living. And when it came to concentrating and putting some words down, I just fell apart. My mind just turned to shit and was a squidgy mess (I apologise for that mental imagine) and I felt like everything was pointless. Yet at any point did I tell anyone? Say; "look lads, I can't do it, I'm falling apart"? OF COURSE NOT, DON'T BE SILLY! I pretended everything was super duper and then, 2 days before the essays were due in, I had the most almighty panic attack of my life (and I have had some gems). I literally thought I was going to die, and truth be told, in my moment of sheer desperation, I thought that mightn't be so bad. Which looks so awful written down, but it is what it is. I don't necessarily spend my days contemplating suicide, rather I just think about blinking out of existence. Just having everything...stop. 
My poor boyfriend, who is the kindest, sweetest and most supportive man I have ever known (along with my Dad), had to try and pull together a person he didn't even know was falling apart because I hid everything. The problem with thinking the worst about everything is that you anticipate the worst from everyone. Despite my family being nothing but the greatest bunch of people I could be genetically connected to, my mind tells me they'll be disappointed and ashamed of me if I don't do something. Deep down I know that's absolutely not true, and that, frankly, it's a little offensive to think so little of them. Yet when the dark thoughts come, that logic doesn't feature in. Depression has made me alarmingly self-centred, I am convinced that all events lead to me and something terrible I have done. 

The irony that I love writing, and want to do it for a career, yet physically cannot complete my English degree is not lost on me. It's some sort of cruel cosmic joke, is what it is!

The second reason was the suicide of Robin Williams. I don't think I've ever been hit so hard by the death of someone I didn't know. The thought that someone who brought so much laughter and joy to other people's lives, could be suffering so intensely in private was far, far too close to home for me. Not that I'm comparing myself to Robin Williams (although, I too could grow an impressive beard. If I tried.) but I understood the desire to hide away from the world and pretend like everything is okay. And this is, I guess, the crux of my ramblings. Why do I want to hide? Why should I hide? 

In modern society, there has to be an excuse for everything, but often with depression there is no reason, it just is. I have no reason to feel the way I do, nothing outstandingly horrific has happened to me, I have great friends, an awesome family and a fricking fantastic boyfriend (who would be even better if he picked up his socks) so what's my problem? And there isn't one, I have no explanation other than my brain, on occasion, hates me. Sure there are triggers and things happen that warrant my sadness, but a lot of the time it's just a lot of sitting around in a black cloud thinking "is this really my life?". The treatment of depression and suicide following the loss of Robin Williams did not help my own understanding of my condition. Generally what I got from newspapers/websites is that I should stop whining, grow the fuck up and stop being a selfish mare. The sensationalisation of his death absolutely disgusted me. If he had died from a battle with cancer he would've been mourned on the front page, yet because Depression is seen as some sort of made up illness he is called 'selfish' and accused of wasting his life and the horrific details are splashed all over. And this angered me to no extent. People with Depression don't choose to feel shitty, they aren't killing themselves for attention or to be selfish, there literally feels like there is no other choice. This is what needs to be highlighted, how can a person, in a society as oversharing as the one we live in, get to the point of not being able to talk about not wanting to exist anymore? Instead of making excuses for why someone feels depressed, as we see with the treatment of Robin Williams (he was broke, he was struggling with sobriety etc etc) perhaps just accept what it is and find a way to make someone feel loved, accepted and needed? Educate people on how to cope, how to recognise the signs, and most importantly, stop people feeling ashamed of having a mental illness. When news broke of Williams suicide my Facebook newsfeed was full of people encouraging others with depression to speak up and seek help, and like an absolute hypocrite, so was mine. But it's not as easy as that. Getting help, opening up to someone and just saying it is the most difficult thing, because for some reason, it's seen as some kind of weakness. And this is where change needs to come in. If I had known about my condition when I was 11, maybe I would have a better grasp on how to control it, how to live with it. Maybe I wouldn't feel ashamed of something that is totally beyond my understanding. And I wouldn't feel absolutely terrified about posting this. 

So, if you're reading this and you've been struggling, if you have had any dark thoughts about yourself, please know you are not alone. Even if you can't talk to someone you know (which, I know, is really bloody hard) you can always drop me a line one here. I won't pretend I have all the answers, or in fact, any at all, but I can at least support you. Or, we can support each other. Please remember, even when it seems impossible to, you are loved and you are important. I know it's something I need to try and remember. If you know someone with depression, just know that you being there and supporting them is so much more appreciated than you can ever know. 

Alright, that's a lot of heavy shit, and truth be told, I could go on. But here, have a picture of Tom Hiddleston to make it a little better. 

I hope you're all well, and if not, you can hit me up on any of my social media or on my email, which you can find in my 'Contact' section. Be happy, be healthy, be safe. If you need anymore information or advice you can check out the Mind website hereChat to you next time :).


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