So I will be attempting Blogmas this year, despite missing the first few days! (I had this weekend off from work and I really needed the days of to recharge and get myself in a good head-space). Before Blogmas kicks off properly though, with the hauls and the make-up and the Christmas sprinkles, I want to talk to you guys about something a little more serious. This past week has been so hard for me as I’ve finally confronted my ‘Mental Health Issues’ head on. I’ve reached rock bottom – which is what you will see in this post, written last weekend. Tomorrow, I will post a blog post talking about the diagnosis I was given, and what that means for me and anyone who is part of my life. Finally, in two days time, I’m going to publish a post that I’ve written today, one week later, on what’s changed since I’ve been diagnosed and how I’m feeling (spoiler: really positive). I will be deleting these blog posts once I leave Cardiff and start looking for a new job/friends elsewhere as I know (sadly) most people wouldn’t give me the benefit of the doubt and would judge me on my label first. Rest assured, though, that I will continue to work towards ending the stigma on mental health and I’m in no way ashamed of my diagnosis. I’m still me and I’ve gotten this far on my own, haven’t I?
1 week ago:
The most recent episode of one of my favourite TV shows – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – dealt with the main character being given a mental health diagnosis. What the diagnosis was doesn’t matter, as it’s not relevant to what I want to talk about. Just before the diagnosis is revealed, the main character, Rebecca Bunch, breaks into a song entitled, aptly, ‘A Diagnosis‘. First and foremost, this show is a comedy and short comedic ditties appear throughout every episode. They deal with issues in a tongue-in-cheek way, like the episode where a group of teenage girls cheer up a heartbroken Rebecca by telling her to ‘wear 5 inch heels just for (herself)’ so that the guy she fancies will say ‘let’s make out’ as she’s ‘put (herself) first in a sexy way’.
‘A Diagnosis’ features lines such as :
“Doc, prescribe me my tribe, give me my throng,
Tell me that this whole time I’ve belonged,
With those other people who share my diagnosis”.
I don’t know why they resonate with me, but they do. Mental illness is still incredibly stigmatised – I think perhaps the only people who don’t judge a person for their diagnosis are other people who also have one. So I get where Rebecca is coming from here. A diagnosis enters you into a community and a sphere of acceptance.
The pithy message of ‘A Diagnosis’ though, is that this actually means very little. Finding out what ‘illness’ you have will not magically ‘fix’ you. I know this because I’m becoming increasingly sure that what I personally suffer from isn’t anxiety and depression, as I first thought. Yes, I have panic attacks and incredibly low moods, but the situation is actually a lot more nuanced than that (subtle nod to the CEG fans out there reading this.) I’ve always been able to go from 0-10 emotionally. People tell me that when I was a teenager, I would fly into sudden, un-explainable rages over trivial things like coffee, something which I have absolutely no recollection of, despite multiple people telling me so. I come across as incredibly blunt and rude to strangers/new acquaintances, without meaning to – I am physically incapable of sounding any other way. I feel emotions extremely intensely but am unable to express/verbalise them. On top of that, I have very intense paranoid feelings that people hate me/people can hear my thoughts/are looking at me funny. I also physically cannot be still. Even in my sleep, my legs will be cycling up and down the mattress When awake, I’ll be tapping foot or moving my hands or shaking my head – I also talk at the speed of light and can’t control the speed of my speech. I find my emotions can swing incredibly quickly, where I can be extremely happy and excited and then extremely low later that same day. All of these symptoms are still fully present whilst I’m taking a high dose of an SSRI anti-depressant. Add to this almost permanent anxiety and a feeling of being fully out of control at all times, and I don’t think this is just plain depression.
I just don’t know.
So I have an appointment for a full psychiatric assessment with a Consultant Psychiatrist this week and in the back of my head, I want a new diagnosis. Because there’s a tiny voice saying a diagnosis will save me, will show me that I can survive this.
“So put me in a bottle, slap a label on,
List out the side-effects, then worries be gone,
‘Cause finally I’ll know this,
My mother keeps telling me I need to go to therapy, but I’ve always been of the mindset that they can’t help me. Most medical professionals are horribly dismissive or condescending and I’ve come across quite a few infuriating counsellors in my time.
“Oh, the doctors I’ve met who didn’t get me!”
Also, it’s inherently against my personality to talk to strangers about feelings. Put it this way, when my first dog died, I told nobody until we got our new dog a few months later. When my grandfather died, I did not cry a single tear, despite being devastated. The latter occasion led to my parents calling me ‘cold’ and ‘callous’ over the dinner table multiple times, that I ‘didn’t have a heart’, that they were ashamed to call me their daughter as I did not care. This is how bad my communication issues are and how much I internalise emotion and thoughts. If I cannot shed a tear in front of my parents, how could I EVER talk about these things to a counsellor?
I’m starting to run out of options, and I’m starting to feel more out-of-control as each day goes on. I’m less and less sure that I’ll be able to save myself from my own mind in the future. I’ve spoken on this blog before about how mental health issues make you feel broken, and right now, I feel like I’m breaking apart. I was feeling confident two weeks ago, that I’d learnt how to separate my mental illness from myself, but now they’ve fused together again and I’m nothing but a squirming mass of confusion and panic at all times. You’d never know it to look at me though. Right now, sat at this table, I appear calm and focussed as I write. Instead, the room is spinning as I’m so anxious I feel like I’m made of white noise and my foot is darting wildly up and down under my chair. My hands are shaking and I feel almost like I’m in an out-of-body experience, like I’m watching the café around me as if it’s a TV show.
I started writing this post as the panic attack started because I couldn’t focus on anything else anyway.
It’s exhausting pulling yourself up off of a cliff-edge using only one hand.
I started being open about my mental health on Twitter and my blog in the hope it would help. I thought it had, but now I’m not so sure.
I’ll let you guys know how the appointment goes and I hope you’re well. My DM’s are always open to anybody who’s struggling with their mental health (@thepoppyraptor on Twitter) ❤