Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Part two.

Hello again, Friend.

Well, I guess making this a regular thing didn't really happen. But I'm back for round two.
 Please, try to contain your excitement.

I should probably talk about how I got better.
I've chosen the word better for a reason. There is no way I could ever say that I am back to how I was before everything went wrong, but I wouldn't say that I'm not okay either. I am just so far from the person I was then, and also the person I was before. If anyone had told 18 year old me that in a few short years I'd be the person I am now, I'd have laughed in their face and swiftly proceeded to the pub to drink myself merry and laugh about it with my friends. But I suppose there's no way of knowing how things will be after something bad happens to you.

Anyway, more on that later. For now: Part two.

I think where I left off was after I'd been to the doctor and been prescribed the magic pills. They put me on a very low dose of an antidepressant, which is often used to treat anxiety. Honestly, before going on them, I was terrified. What about the side effects? What if they made me (heaven forbid) ill?
Eventually, it was the ex who convinced me to take them. I wanted to get better, for him. I didn't want to be the pathetic ex-girlfriend who cried all the time. It might have not been the best reason for doing it, but whatever. Doing it for myself wasn't getting me anywhere, so I can't feel to bad about my stupid reasons.

I have to say, they worked like magic. It was like suddenly all the noise in my head just switched off, and I could think clearly for the first time in months. That was one of the problems, see. I wasn't thinking clearly, I was thinking too much. I was having about 8000 thoughts a minute and they were all getting tangled up and knotted, blocking my sanity. When I could finally think clearly, I could begin to rationalise the physical symptoms away. I was no longer consumed by these crippling thoughts and a broken body.
It was the biggest relief. There are no words to describe how much better I began to feel.
Of course, it didn't all happen at once and it took time. But the journey had begun.

Getting back into life was hard. I struggled with people the most. I couldn't keep up, and in all honesty, I missed being alone.

But then I met someone who made everything easy again.
We met at a society at uni, he asked me for coffee and we talked. It was scary at first, he was so confident and sure of himself. I wanted to badly to impress him. I was still so nervous, and awkward.

But eventually he fixed me. He was spontaneous, which was good. He never gave me time to think or worry, we just did them. I was honest with him about everything, and he was there for me. He has this incredible ability to explain everything that I'm feeling and thinking in a rational way, even when I don't understand it myself. He could read anybody. He was like my own personal, horse-whisperer, but.. y'know, for people.

Anyway, with his help, I found I could do more and more - and things I never thought I could do again. We would drive for hours, go for walks, spend long days and nights outside - away from my usual "safe" places.
Sometimes I would still have bad days, but some times, I wouldn't even worry at all. And if I did, he would help me through it.
Sometimes, I think I owe it all to him. I owe my life to him.

Even now, two years later, I still have the occasional bad day. I would never say that I don't worry, because I do. A lot.
But in a way I think its a good thing. It makes me feel prepared. If anything bad happens, chances are I've already thought up an escape route.
The main thing is that I can handle the worry now. It doesn't break me anymore. Sure, I may not be the person I was before all this, and I still struggle with a lot of things.

However, if I think back to how I was and compare it to how I am now, I really don't think I'm doing too bad.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Why I'm here.

How do I start this?
Dear Diary
No, I never was good at keeping diaries. I always found it awkward writing to somebody who wasn't real. And I probably spent more time trying to find the perfect hiding place for it than actually writing in it. But looking back, it was probably something I really should have done. I think it would have helped. Though, in reality it probably would have been better to talk to a real person but talking about my feelings is not something I've ever really been a fan of.  But its never too late to start, I suppose. *Deep breath*
 I think I'll call you Friend.

Dear Friend,
I guess the reason I'm here is to talk about myself, really. About everything that happened, and everything I feel now. I guess you could say it all started about two years ago. That was when I fell apart. [It sounds like I'm going to tell you that something terrible and awful happened to me. It didn't. This is really more of the story of how I failed at handling life like a normal person. Sorry if that's not what you wanted].
I was eighteen. I was in my first year of university, and my boyfriend had just broken up with me. Looking back, in all honesty I have absolutely no idea what I was thinking in regards to him. He lies. He lies a lot. I don't know how I didn't see it then. Everything he told me was gospel, and I just swallowed it all without blinking. They weren't even serious lies, just more like he spoke without thinking or over-exaggerated. We all laugh about it now.
"Hahaha remember that time he told us he had martial arts training?" And then he broke his ankle because he didn't know how to land properly when he got drunk and jumped off that 2nd floor balcony...yeah.
"Remember that time he said he couldn't afford to buy you a Valentines day present but in reality he'd just spent £20 on weed?" "Hah..ha..ha?"
He was lazy. He wasted his money on stupid things, then moped and stressed about not being able to buy food, so I had to pay for everything. 
He also had a thing about not flushing the toilet. I mean..I shudder. Treasured memories <3

But he was nice. He cared about me, I don't doubt that. And I cared about him. So when he broke up with me I broke. I didn't know how to function anymore. He was my whole day. We'd talk all day, and spend all night together, every night.
What was I supposed to do with myself? I had to see him every single day, and attempt to hold it all in and keep it together in front of all our friends.

[Folks, don't date within your friendship group].

 So, I did what any sane, functioning eighteen year old would do. I cried. ALL.THE.TIME. Like, more than I ever thought possible. It just didn't end. I'm not even exaggerating. I cried every single fucking day from March until October.

I hated myself.
Ugh. That feeling, of just all-consuming worthlessness. I just didn't understand what I'd done wrong, or what was wrong with me, or why I couldn't fix it. It had to be my fault right? That I hadn't tried hard enough, or it was that thing that I probably shouldn't have said but I said anyway? Or there was someone else. The ex. Yeah, that was it. It wasn't simply that, like he said, he just wanted to be single. No way. Nuh uh, not possible.

Anyway. So there I was, a crumbling mess. And then it all got worse. I developed an Anxiety disorder. In May I had my first panic attack. It happened during an exam. I felt like I was on fire. I was shaking all over, I couldn't breathe. It lasted forty-five minutes. Then I ran away.
What was the cause, you ask?
Well. Here goes. I thought I was going to shit myself. Yes, that is the reason. That is where it all comes from. I have never told a single person that, ever.
Because it is HUMILIATING.
I mean, it was stupid. How likely is it that it'll actually happen? [Surprisingly, quite a lot. Just take a trip over to and you'll see].
Just go to the toilet, you say. No one will know, you say. No one will know? What if they hear? What if there's some one in there? What if it doesn't stop, and I have to keep running back to the toilet? What if they don't let me go? It is an exam after all. All those thoughts crashed into my mind at once, like bullets. I couldn't think of anything else. I couldn't remember a thing that I had revised. Even if I could have remembered anything, my hand was shaking so badly that anything I wrote was completely illegible.

So there I was, in my exam, with my stomach in knots, thinking "I need to go home, I need to get out of here" over and over and over and over. My hand vomited out a few paragraphs of gibberish, while I held back tears. I genuinely left sweat patches on my exam paper. Then, like I said, I ran away. And with that first breath of fresh air as I left the room, the panic stopped as soon as it started.
But something much worse had begun. It took over.

If you've never had to deal with anxiety or depression, you have literally no idea how it feels.
This. This was me. The word that springs to mind is Cycles. I panicked about doing something so much that I'd drive myself into a frenzy, making the panic worse. Then, the next time I'd try to do the same thing, I'd think "but remember what happened last time you tried that? That didn't end well, did it?" That, combined with the crippling depression I was suffering just made doing life impossible. Not just things, life.
"Yeah Brain, you're right. Let's not bother, better not to risk it. We'll try again next time". *hides*

At first, it started out that, just like that very first panic attack, I'd worry that I was going to shit myself.
I actually laugh about it now. It just sounds so stupid. Why worry about it? But that's the thing with anxiety. It is not rational. I was scared of everything.
  • Long journey? - Nope, no toilets. What if you shit yourself?
  • Cinema? - Dude, that film's like 2 hours long, that's a long time. What if you need the toilet?
  • Going out for drinks? - Dude, alcohol will fuck up your stomach. Can't risk that. Busy toilets too, someone might hear
  • Eating? - What if its not cooked? Spicy food might screw your stomach up. Food makes you poop, man, what are you thinking? You want to eat in public? But what if you need to go, and you can't get home in time? Idiot.
  • Staying at someone else's house? - You're going to use their toilet when they might hear you?
  • Important University lecture? - Dude, come on. Don't be stupid.
Like I said, everything.
I just want you to imagine, for a minute, how it feels to be to scared to eat.
Like, seriously. Stupid, right? But that was me. For months I lived off cereal, bread and apples. Sometimes, [if I had no plan for the next day] I could splash out and treat myself to pasta or beans on toast, because if I then made myself "ill" (my word for it), I could just hide in my room all day with my nice safe private bathroom.
I would buy all this food, and just not eat it. I remember this one time, where I'd taken some mince out of the freezer to defrost. I was going to do it, I was going to make a nice healthy bowl of spaghetti bolognese. And then I grabbed the cereal instead. And I sat in my room and cried while I ate it, because I was just so scared of eating it and making myself ill that I couldn't even bring myself to force down the food I so desperately needed.
I was so ill. I was tired, all the time. I would sleep from about 9pm until midday and probably still need a nap. I looked like death, my hair was falling out and there were black circles under my eyes the size of ikea bags. I was covered in bruises. The slightest impact would bruise my skin for weeks and leave me looking like leopard print.

Socialising was hard. I didn't have the energy. I couldn't make myself happy, and neither could my friends. I honestly don't know how they never noticed anything. I barely spoke. Most times I actually managed to drag myself out of bed to see them, I'd sit quietly and contribute when I had to until I'd stayed long enough for it to not be rude to leave.

The worst thing was how it affected my school work. I was petrified of going to my lectures. I came up with a system. If it was within 10 minutes walking distance, it was okay. If it was only an hour long, it was okay. If it was after 11am, it was okay. If not, I couldn't go to it. 
I had a lot of 9am lectures that term. 
I'd still do my coursework, of course. Essays are nice, I like writing. I wouldn't go to the library to get books out though. Bedroom to library: 15 minute walk. Not okay. Lots of people. Not okay. Quiet place, mixed gender toilets. Definitely not okay.

And then, when the term was over and summer began, it got worse again. I got a job. 
I was scared of my boss, I was scared of the customers, I was scared of messing up. The boss would be in an out throughout the day; whenever he came in my heart would pound, my hands would shake and I'd sweat like a bitch because my blood was burning. I'd make stupid mistakes, mess up orders. I'd drop glasses and give the wrong change. And all the while, my stomach would be in knots. 
It wreaked havoc with my oh-so-important routines. Dinner at home was always at 5.30. Work started at 6. Half an hour was not enough time to determine if I had made myself "ill" by eating. So I'd either eat earlier (a slice of bread or some plain pasta, nice and safe) or I'd skip dinner altogether. If I didn't eat, I couldn't be ill, right? So even though I was at home, and was being provided with nutritious meals every day, I still wasn't eating them. I didn't get better.
In a way though, the job was good for me. It got me out of the house, and I learnt that I could combat my anxiety if I needed to. Though I guess it wasn't exactly the best way. coughunderstatementcough

It was my mum who helped me realise that I couldn't keep living that way any longer. I remember seeing her face when she came to me when we were on holiday and I'd spent the day alone inside, to ask me if I was okay. .I lied to her and I knew she knew it. So a few weeks later, I told her everything. Mostly everything, anyway. So she took me to a doctor, and from there it got better. I have to say, getting medicated was the best thing I ever did. One little pill a day, and physical worry symptoms were gone. I felt free. I could finally begin to overcome the worry. If I didn't get the symptoms, it meant I could begin to do things again. I could live again.

My anxiety is not gone. But I am getting better every day.