I have come to realise that sometimes you have to completely fall apart before things can start to fall into place. I have started this post goodness knows how many times in the past few weeks. I’ve finally settled on doing a brief timeline set up with short points of 2015 & 2016 leading up to the breakdown in 2017 before going into my turnaround. This is the story of my most recent breakdown though it’s anything but fiction and far from a fairy tale. It’s as raw and honest as I was comfortable being and I hope it either helps you understand mental illness a little more or if you are suffering I hope you find comfort in my words and don’t feel so alone.
For the most part life was good me and King had been living together about 18 months we’d just got engaged and had started to talk about starting a family. We were really happy and I can not, even now, see where or why things started to change. At the end of the year I had a few panic attacks but they were too random and spaced out for me to really be too concerned.
I started to have frequent panic attacks over simple tasks and things as easy as trips to town. After few months of talking about trying for a baby me & King decided to start trying officially. I stopped going to counselling partly because I felt I was equipped enough to cope now but probably more because I was too nervous about having a panic attack in town. I started taking anti-anxiety meds in late January but I felt like they were making me a lot worse and so I came off them by the end of August – In this time I had put on just under 6 stone. For most of 2016 I was just plodded along, my mood was steadily declining but it didn’t seem to be drastic enough for me to notice or to raise any red flags. My first Niece was born at the end of October and even though I saw her most evenings, went round to help give her baths, feed her and put her to bed when I came home I felt empty – more than 10 months of trying and I had no baby of my own.
January to March was much the same as 2016 the only exception was I had started telling people very close to me that we had been trying for a year. I regretted it almost instantly in most cases as I started to hear “Just relax and it will happen” (please don’t say this to people struggling it’s one of the worst things we hear). The thing was that even though I was really sad it hadn’t happened it was the one area in my life I wasn’t necessarily stressed about so this grated on me even more! In April I started a period that would last from the 19th (of April) to 11th August. In May my Nana passed away and left me angry and resentful and completely broken, we weren’t particularly close but there was so much I wanted to say to her and I’d left it too late.
By June I was exhausted by grief from the loss of my Nana, a sadness unlike any I could describe that I had no child (but my sister in law was 3 months pregnant with her second) and constant pain from my period. My Dr was unwilling to hear about my pregnancy woes and wouldn’t send me for any tests as to why my period was showing no signs of stopping. I finally got an appointment with the other Dr at the practice and he too ignored our troubles with getting pregnant but he did send me for scans and blood tests etc regarding my period.
By the end of August I had all my results back and everything was clear, and they said there was no more they could do for me – like that was a suitable response! In all honesty though I had completely given up on myself and I accepted this. I went back a few more times between then and December about not being able to get pregnant but it was brushed off every time “No need to test your partner with your current issues we have every reason to believe it’s you.” He told me this on 3 separate occasions and every time was a blow I was already blaming myself enough without this weighing me down. My last visit was in the middle of December and I remember practically begging my dr to do anything to figure out what was wrong with my periods so that we could work out how to resolve it and then hopefully I could then fall pregnant; “I’m sorry dear but we’ve already done our tests, I don’t know what else I can possibly do to help you.” I asked if losing weight could be the problem as Id still not lost any of the 6 stone I’d gained in 2016; “No, bigger women than you get pregnant every day, you could do with losing a few stone but looking at your situation I don’t think it will improve your periods or your difficulty in trying to conceive.” – I just needed something he could give me to work on or change any glimmer of hope or just an answer as to why.
End of 2017:
I remember telling King how helpless I felt when our second niece was born at the end of November and I could not bring myself to meet her. He told me he’d do anything to help but I couldn’t think of a single thing to suggest. I was once so close to my sister in law and saw my first Niece almost everyday up until my Nana passed and I’d completely cut myself off not just from them but from everyone. I got up, I went to work, I got home, spent about 4 hours on the sofa then went to bed to start the cycle all over again the next day. I cared so little about myself that even the most basic tasks seemed like a chore. I am not proud of it but I was so low that most days I wouldn’t brush my hair, I wouldn’t brush my teeth unless I was going out somewhere, getting dressed was out of the question and I would shower/bath only once a week whereas my usual routine was at least every other day – what was the point would any of that stop my period troubles or help me conceive or stop me feeling so much emotional pain I couldn’t function?
Christmas / New Year 2017:
When I broke from work for Christmas it was the 22nd from the 22nd to the 28th I didn’t get dressed and I only went from the bed to my sofa I wore the same comfy pj’s and just felt completely sorry for myself. On the 27th King went back to work and I was left home alone, it took all my effort to get out of bed and that first day I only got up when I knew he was coming home on his breaks so it looked like I was okay. The next day was my rock bottom!
Breaking point: *Trigger warning if self harm or thoughts of self harm are a trigger for you please skip to the next section (look for the pink writing): I struggled again, it took me nearly 3 hours to get out of bed, I went downstairs for a cup of tea and as I stood waiting for the kettle to boil I stared at the knife block. Back in my teens I had self harmed for a long time cutting at my arms and legs regularly with anything I could find, at the time it was a way of feeling a pain I could explain instead a the pain going on inside that seemed too confusing to me. It wasn’t about wanting to die for me it was only about pain and a distraction from the darkness pulling me inwards. A few months after my dad passed away (Christmas eve 2005) I stopped, I was worried that one day I would cut somewhere that would kill me and I couldn’t do that to my family. For the first time since 2006 I was struck by the desire to feel any other pain than what was going on inside. I picked up a knife, I remember seeing my hand shaking but nothing else. I wasn’t even there and present in that moment there was just my hand a shaking knife and all the pain that had built up to this moment. Before I moved it towards my arm though I felt my cat brush up against my leg and made me jump out my skin bringing me right back to my kitchen. I threw the knife from my hand and ran back to bed as quickly as I could.
In a moment I realised exactly where I was, I recognised it straight away, this was my old friend, rock bottom! I went back to bed allowed myself to cry until I couldn’t cry anymore. I knew I needed to release it all to cleanse myself of it because things needed to change I could never go back there again! I cried for two days straight, King didn’t know what on earth to do he likes to be hands on and to physically do something to help and all I could tell him was that I needed to be left to just feel it all but that it would get better and I knew it was true because for me it couldn’t possibly get any worse. I was determined now, I’d been scared and shocked into taking a good look at myself but I saw so much wrong that I knew it would have to be a process. I started with my weight, I’d been scared since gaining it all so fast that it was going to affect my health because of my family history. I didn’t want to going on a fad diet and I didn’t want to join Slimming Word again I felt that all that would just help solidify an my unhealthy relationship with food so I told myself I would just change my attitude. Even if it took me longer than dieting I would simply change my mind about how I felt about healthy food or I’d ask myself if I was really hungry enough for 5 chocolate bars or whether one would suffice. I wasn’t depriving myself of anything and I wasn’t counting points or syns which in the past had me thinking of food every second of every day and ruling my life. It started to come off slowly and I was spurred on by my first positive changes.
I saw a picture as it came to new year (picture below) and this spurred me to try and put this new food attitude to the other areas in my life however this was obviously a bigger challenge for obvious reasons. I started with just playing cheery songs in a morning as an alarm and making lists in my mind of triumphs even if it was just that I’d brushed my hair. I’ve made some really positive changes and I’m working really hard towards keeping my head above the water, sometimes I stumble back a step or two but when I think of where I am now even with that step back I’m so proud of myself. I feel that time in my life is like my shadow, it is always with me even in my lighter times it always has been I believe it always will be lurking around. Sometimes I worry it is starting to take hold of me again but in those moments I try to see it as my best friend and try to work out what I can do to help them and that then shows me how I can help myself. In March I saw my mum for the first time in a long time and I was really drawn to the good place that she was in mentally. She introduced me to the works of a lady called Byron Katie and her “teachings” (called “The Work”) for me personally this has been the most helpful tool in my turn around and I really recommend that people struggling look her up even if she’s not for you it’s work a quick look. When I feel any negative emotion I use the 4 questions of “The Work” and the turnarounds and it makes me feel connected and at peace.
This year alone I have now lost 13 pounds, I have changed dr’s surgeries completely and in doing this my partner has been tested (it wasn’t good news it’s something we can work with now), I’ve undergone more tests and we have been referred to the hospital now. I have started rebuilding my relationship with my sister in law, my mum, my brothers and shown more patience, love and appreciation to King. When I am struck by a thought of what I don’t have I remember everything I do have and the tools I have given myself to go ahead and change what I don’t into a positive or an opportunity. People are commenting on how much my attitude has changed and I feel relationships in all areas of my life seem are blossoming so I remember that too when I stumble back.
Depression and anxiety have been a constant on and off battle for my whole life and I honestly don’t believe I will ever be free of them but I am determined to keep them as my shadow walking through life with me in the light rather than becoming an all consuming darkness. I want to start speaking out about the good and the bad to help others who don’t suffer understand and to reach out to those who do suffer to help them even if it’s just with a comment of comfort on twitter or just a reminder that they are strong and worth it because we are all enough!
Come and talk to me in the comments or on twitter (@KissedDaisy) I love hearing from you all.