When you live with mental illness some days are better than others. Days, weeks, or months may go by where I feel ok. I may not be killing it everyday but, things are going alright. I feel like I have a good handle on my life. Then right out of the blue one of the bad days sneaks up on me and I’m so not ok. Handling my life doesn’t even feel like an option. I am drowning in a toxic ocean polluted with my own self doubt and negative energies. The voices in my head are angry, judgmental waves that crest over me pulling and pushing until I am wrung out and I have no idea how I will ever survive.
Recently I lost a job I really loved when the company went out of business. I exist in a world where my emotional health is often in a state of flux. Routine and patterns have become vital tools for my daily survival; my daily maintenance. The routine creates a sense of normalcy and much needed control. When I lost my job my daily routine was shattered and the companionship I so enjoyed with my coworkers was wrenched away. My entire world changed in an instant! Uncertainty about my future, worries about my financial status, loneliness and a intense sense of loss overwhelmed me. I am depressed and anxiety crawls over and through me like a constant prickling energy. I can not seem to settle down, I feel electrified. Yet I am frozen unable to perform the simplest of tasks. My energy and motivation are nonexistent. My mind is muddled and foggy. It’s like slogging through thick mud to put two thought together. I feel lost and I am drowning.
So how do I get back to those better days when I am feeling so broken and uncertain? How do I stop myself from spiraling even further into darkness? To be honest I usually “wallow” in it for a few days. I guess that doesn’t sound healthy at all or productive but, sometimes I think I just need that break. Taking those moments to just sit on my butt, cry, wear PJs all day, play mindless games or binge watch a TV show can actually help me recharge. I give myself the permission to morn the loss. I let myself feel and try to let the sorrow and anxiety run their course. Sometimes I just need to get out of my own head for awhile. It’s risky though, when you let yourself be a giant blob on your couch eating ice cream. It’s hard to get back up again. I feel safe and comfortable. No no one can hurt me here in my cocoon of fantasy novels and sci-fi. But if I stay here merging with the couch, becoming empty, and refusing to engage with the world around me all I am doing is hurting myself and those who care about me.
Step two involves prying myself up from the couch and peeling off what are probably dirty clothes. I get in the shower and wash off both the dirt and hopefully some of the self doubt too. Getting off that couch to get cleaned up is so much work! I’m so comfortable and this is hard! “No! Nope, no way get up get clean! That’s an order!” I tell myself. When I am washed and in fresh clothing I really do feel at least a tiny bit better. But there is so much work ahead of me and that shower was exhausting. Back to the couch.
Ok, that doesn’t sound like much progress. What the hell is wrong with me why can’t I just get on with it and be happy and stuff. It is progress though so I give myself a cheer. Tomorrow I will do more, each day I will do more. I will push myself just a little bit harder as the days pass. I will find more strength and more energy slowly. I will force myself to do not only things that are needed, like cleaning my cats box, but things I usually enjoy, like making my daughter a dress. Why is this all so hard! I will make myself talk to people even thought all I want to do is hide. I am afraid. I am sure these people will see right through me. What if I make a fool of myself and fall apart in front of them. I resist the urge to hide and take more baby steps forward. Uhhh why is this so hard!
I’m not back to myself yet but I am getting there. I will continue to work and make the hard choices each day to get up and do things that remind me why I love my life. Even thought I still feel that anxiety prickling under my skin and all thought me. Even though I still want to hide. Even though I still feel so lost and overwhelmed. I make the choice everyday to try because this is not me. Anxiety and depression are not me! They hurt me and sometimes control me but they are not me! I can not and will not let them win!