The Way Back Down: My Mental Health Story

Two years ago I went to see a doctor for anxiety and depression. I was supposed to go back four weeks later but never did. By that point I’d quit my rubbish job and was moving away to study again. Therefore, I put the entire ‘episode’ down to my job. And, sure, it hadn’t helped. I felt hopeless there. As if I would never know happiness again (full dementor mode was activated). Moving away was my fresh start and surely those cold fingers of darkness wouldn’t find me again.

But that’s not how this works, is it?

I spent a few months feeling great, a longer high than I’d had in years, but my mood inevitably sank again. It always sinks following something trivial—something that’ll have me sinking even further into self-hatred because ‘normal’ people seem to deal with all this life stuff so much better than me. I went back up, as I always do, only to spend those up weeks dreading the way back down.

So, I saw a therapist. I didn’t tell anyone about it (not even my best friends and family…surprise!). Said therapist told me I have anxiety and low moods, advised I talk about it to people (oops), and power through. Which…I was already doing. See, I still do all the scary things, travelling alone and attending events where I don’t know anyone, I just have to fight through that wall of fear and try to quiet the thoughts in my head telling me I’m useless as I do them.

And I deal with it all alone. In fact, I spend my entire life alone—I travel alone, I work alone, I keep my thoughts to myself. The few times I’ve tried to confess what really goes on in my head I’ve been told to ‘get over it’. I’ve been called ‘over sensitive’ or ‘silly’. Thus, I stopped talking. I used to be called chatty, but now everyone says I’m quiet. I mumble a lot of what I say, to the point people get annoyed, because I’m convinced no-one wants to hear me. I type and delete about ten messages to every one I send. I don’t even tell people the good things because again I’m convinced no-one will care and that’ll ruin the small amount of joy I’ve managed to squeeze out of it.

Here’s how bad it is—if you’ve ever spoken to me I will have been thinking the entire time about how little you want to be speaking to me. Even friends I’ve known for years. I will have been telling myself how annoying I am, how pathetic, how stupid, that I’m a waste of space, and how none of my experiences are good enough to be talking about. Afterwards I’ll be thinking how I spoke too much, or too little, and how you probably hate me. And bloody hell it’s exhausting. Try having that looping around in your head every time you try to have a conversation. Jesus.

I don’t tell people any of this stuff so 99% of you won’t even know it’s happening. I have panic attacks in private, I keep myself to myself, and I am a damned expert at keeping tears away.

But isn’t there strength to feeling all that, to outright hating yourself, and still getting out of bed each morning? I deserve more than being told I’m oversensitive. We all do.

The thing is I have a lot to say, I have opinions coming out my ears, and so much fire inside me to air them I often feel as though I’ll explode. At the risk of sounding cliché I want to change the world. I want to help people. But I have no idea how.

*Insert something sarcastic here to break the tension…*

B.

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