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.
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.
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."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 also had a thing about not flushing the toilet. I mean..I just..no. 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, no 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 www.reddit.com/r/tifu/ 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.
"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.
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.