This is not the post I thought I would be writing for World Mental Health Day 2018.
What I wanted to write was something positive, something uplifting, something that shows you can go through horrendous mental health patches and come through the other side and still be vaguely in one piece. But that is not what this piece is going to be about.
I have relapsed.
I don’t even know if that’s the right phrasing to use for what I’m experiencing right now, but I also don’t know what the right phrasing would be. Was I ever really in a good place? That’s the million dollar question. Over the months I’ve had ups and downs because I have a mental health condition that does make life harder for me than average Joe on the street - borderline personality disorder - but I was doing pretty good. Eating fairly normally, going out, interacting with people, believing I was generally a good person, not hurting myself.
All that changed in the past few days. I don’t know what changed. I don’t know how or why or the answers to any of those questions. I had such a good week last week. I went to three incredible shows, got to see some of my favourite people, and spent the weekend with my family in Devon. But Monday dawned with an emptiness that was all too familiar, and since then it’s been a battle to stay out of bed and continue living the life I’ve built for myself because I’m too scared to admit to most of the people I know that right now, I am not coping.
I can say it on instastories, I can tweet about it till the cows come home, I can text my friend Phill and admit the truth, but I can’t say it out loud.
I know I advocate for honest and candid conversations, and for battling the stigma and the shame that so often accompanies mental illness, but I’m afraid that right now, I’m not practicing what I preach. I’m not dealing with this current breakdown in any sort of healthy manner, bar not going out tonight because I don’t trust myself to take a journey on multiple trains and tubes alone without doing anything impulsive. I can sit hear and talk about how to look after yourself until I’m blue in the face but it would all be completely hypocritical, because I’m not doing any of those things and I want to be honest about that because it can be so hard seeing ‘inspirational’ mental health posts time and time again without seeing the other side. The side where you’re not doing well and you can’t look after yourself and your coping mechanisms are destructive because that’s reality.
I don’t trust my brain right now. After almost two years clean, I’ve started self-harming again, and I can feel it getting worse and worse. I once more have a first aid kit in place of a makeup kit. I’m not eating properly. I’m spending any time that isn’t at work in bed, mindlessly scrolling social media without really engaging with the world or paying attention to anything that is happening around me.
I can feel the dressing on my thigh like a beacon shining through my trousers, alerting everyone to the inner turmoil that has quickly become outer turmoil, even though I know that no-one can see, and no-one would know unless I told them. I know I’m not going to tell them. I don’t know how to open my mouth and admit that I’m not okay.
I am not okay.
And I don’t know why. I think that has a lot to do with not being able to tell people, because what would I even tell them? Yes, I’m suicidal and depressed, but I don’t know why. Would they even believe me without any obvious trigger? Because I have so much to be happy about right now, and that’s the worst part! I have good friends, I have the ability to go to drag shows and support some incredible people, I have a good job, I have a loving family. I should be happy. But when it comes to mental illness, there is no discrimination. There is no ‘should be’. You cannot compare your experiences to someone else and make that the basis of what your mood should be because anyone can feel low, and suicidal, and want to hurt themselves over and over and over again.
Yes, I should be happy.
Yet still my brain reiterates again and again: ‘you’re worthless, you don’t belong here, everyone finds you annoying, stay in your room and stop interacting with people, you’re too much, you’re too much’. Those sentiments and similar are on repeat all day, everyday. I don’t know how to make them stop or how to start being okay again. I don’t know how to ask people to tell me if I’m being annoying or if they hate me, because I know those questions are annoying and will make people hate me. I have a drs appointment tomorrow. I don’t know what I’m going to say or what is going to happen. Different medication? Talking therapy? More appointments?
There’s a lot I don’t know right now.
I don’t know when I’ll emerge from this pit I find myself in. I don’t know if on the other side is waiting a manic period, when I’ll inevitably hate myself even more for being even more annoying. I am exhausted of living like this, and I don’t know how it’s going to end.
World Mental Health Day 2018. I wish I had something inspirational to say here, but I vowed that if I was going to open up about my mental health, I would always be honest. And the honest truth is that you can be battling for years, and it still be a constant fight with days worse than you ever thought a day could be. I know now what I didn’t know then: I can get through this. There will be another side to this. I just don’t know how to get there.