I’ve been to hospital 5 times in my life. One was because I had an awful stomach bug after Christmas, and being in the country, a lot of the GPs were off enjoying their holidays, and the hospital was the only option. Another was to get my wisdom teeth out. And I nearly missed an evening at the Moonlight Cinema (a Grease Sing-A-Long no less!) because I cut my finger open on broken glass. What a fool.
The other two times were very different. I felt like I was legitimately in the process of loosing myself, and I didn’t know what to do next. I think these were anxiety attacks, and they just totally consumed me. I’d had many of similar “freak outs” before, but these two were different. Yep I had the standard symptoms – a every thought running through my brain, I couldn’t sit still and my heart was racing – but this time, it felt like my mind and body were two separate things. I was numb, but feeling all of the feelings at the same time. And I was completely terrified – I was so, so scared of myself. The one thing I was meant to be able to rely on was desperately letting me down. I had such little control of my mind. All I wanted was for the enormous wave to stop, but I just couldn’t block it. I just wanted to block it.
I don’t think I have ever been more afraid. My own thoughts and feelings had driven me to such an extreme state of fear. Just think about that for a second. My greatest fear, at my most vulnerable and shattered, was myself. And I couldn’t get away from me. Well, I could have, but I hate even giving that option the slightest bit of brain space.
Everything felt really wrong. I don’t use the term lucky at all anymore really, but in this case I really am one of the lucky ones. I was taken to hospital. On of the occasion I was home alone, I was able to call somebody to come over and help me, and they drove me there. I had some remnants of clarity, which believe you me, in situations like those, is staggering. It still brings me to tears to think about how slippery that slope is once you’re off and running.
In hindsight, having learnt all that I have in the past couple of years about myself and the way my mind works, those hospital visits were bound to happen at the times they did. On each occasion, I was so tired. I was feeling entirely overwhelmed by everything that was going on around me. I hadn’t been getting enough sleep. And on top of all of these things, I was still trying to do it all – Uni, work, social gatherings, gym visits. What a fool indeed.
This whole “keeping up appearances” mentality is all my own doing. I’ve never felt external pressure to just swallow up my illness and get over it, nor have I felt embarrassed by my dealings with depression and anxiety. I just want to be the best I can be for the people I love and care about. I want them to know I am here for them whenever they need me, always.
It’s only recently I’ve figured out that in order for me to be there for others, I need to be there for me too. And that putting myself first is wholly, completely, totally and 100% OK.