I Want To Be Free…

Dear friend

The last few months have been a roller coaster, constantly turning and not stopping.

I watched my days turn into nights, nights back into days – a walking zombie, doing so much yet achieving so little.

All the time you asked how I was, I said I was fine. All the jokes I received from you I responded with a laughing emoji or just an ‘LOL’.

What you don’t know was that there were days that I could not even summon the strength to get out of the bed or even take a phone call. I had no energy or motivation to feel happy for myself or anyone for that matter even if they had shared good news.

I would drift in an out of sleep and hate myself for being so lazy. I took some time off work because I was struggling with day-to-day tasks and I thought a break would do me good.

I would wait until it was dark to go to the convenience store and by then it would be too late to cook so I would buy myself a packet of  chocolate digestive biscuits to have with a cup of tea before bed. But I wouldn’t have 2 or 4 or 6, I would gradually eat all the biscuits and wonder where they all went.

I would lie awake till the early hours of morning then I would sleep until lunchtime feeling guilty for my laziness, hating myself for not training and binge eating. I would be snappy and burst into tears for the most trivial things.

I would look at my reflection in the mirror and not recognise the person staring back at me. I would just feel so tired, not motivated to do anything at all.

I would lie in bed for hours watching the news but if you asked me what was happening around the world, I would not know. I was absent from my own existence most of the time.

Each night I would make a list of things to do the next day, but each morning I woke up, I struggled with the smallest of tasks.

I pushed myself to do a course that I wanted to do as I had free time. I almost did not make it to the exam as the anxiety kicked in and I had a million and one excuses in my head why it was probably a better idea to postpone to another day.

It was one of those exams centres where you get your results printed straight away. I got my results slip and just put in my handbag and left the exam centre. I got home, looked at the results slip .. ‘I had passed’.

There was no elation, no happiness, just relief that I would not have to do it again. I changed into my pyjamas, got into bed and forgot all about it for a few days.

One morning I woke up supercharged and felt like I could take on the world. I cleaned and decluttered the house and started sending out applications for new jobs.

My CV was received well. My phone was ringing with recruiters wanting to chat about roles they could offer but I just could not muster the strength to take the calls. I didn’t feel good enough for the roles, I just wanted to curl up and hide.

What if they interview me and they don’t like me? What if I don’t hear from them? And with the calls that I took, I would obsess about my responses, did I say the right thing, should I have said this instead of that?

I would then be back on that roller coaster again. I felt like I was constantly running but not reaching my destination, I was just getting more and more exhausted.

Images that show what it feels like to suffer from mental illness. Bringing the inside to the outside.

Days rolled into nights, nights turned into days and quickly into weeks and months. I lost track of time.

Social events became a chore. I made every excuse possible to not go anywhere and if I plucked up the courage to go, I would be late because of procrastinating, should I shouldn’t I? Will I look silly in this outfit? Will I be comfortable with the people around me? Things that never used to bother me were starting to bother me.

Driving became a challenge, stopping for petrol became a challenge, getting out of bed was nearly impossible. I just could not understand what was going on.

I totally lost the zest for life, didn’t have the energy to exercise or even leave the house. I was tired and aching but I could not understand what was going on. I was getting used to being confined to the bubble that I had created, I would imagine myself dead after a road accident while I was driving. If I was at a strain station, I would fantasise about standing at the edge of a platform while a fast train passed.

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It got to a point that my thinking was so irrational and I would get upset by the smallest things. I just could not stop it, I wished it would stop, I prayed it would stop but I just continued in my never-ending burnt out state.

I knew I couldn’t continue feeling that way and I made an appointment to see the doctor. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression after an hours consultation of describing how I felt.

I was given treatment options but none were forced on me. It was entirely up to me to make the decision which I made in a few days.

I will not lie and say it was easy, but knowing that what I was going through had a name, that I was not the only one going through it and that I could get better gave me a better outlook to life.

I am recovering, I know it will take a while to heal but I am getting better everyday.

I am taking things slowly, one day at a time in order to find stability and improve my well-being.

I do not feel like I am running to an unreachable destination.

I am not afraid of the future. I am facing my fears one by one. I still have bad days, but my good days are better.

I am sharing because I want to be free.

I want to be free to tell you that I really feel like ‘crap’ if you talk to me when I am having a bad day.

I am learning to say no when I feel like I have overcommitted myself.

I am learning that my strength and resilience is what will see me through.

I am learning to to love myself, put my needs first as I cannot help others if I am unwell.

I have decided that depression will not define me. I do not want to conform to a label.

I have control of my life and I will fight everyday to overcome this and encourage other people not to hide how they are feeling.

I know that I will be learning for a long time, but I am excited at a future where I can have control of my life and not hide behind a label.

Staying silent is not being strong. Speaking out is!


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