The fragility of mental health is so finely balanced that it can take only a small thing to shift the balance and cause the scales to tilt one way or the other. It can take a feather to tip the scales downwards, but a 100 tonne weight is needed to pull them back up level again.
I’ve always tried to live my life as kind person, not just because that’s how I think we are supposed to act, but because that’s how I want to live my life. For me the greatest feeling is making someone laugh, or smile or just be happy. For all of the uncontrollable issues I have in my mind, I am able to control how I interact with others. I just wish I had control over my mind. I had a panic attack this afternoon, and am still going through it, and thought I would describe the feelings I’m experiencing, as it’s a lot harder to remember after the event.
- A sudden feeling that my heart is going to beat out of my chest.
- Feeling sick, nauseous and like my whole body is vibrating.
- A sense of doom and thinking that I have messed things up permanently, and that there is no hope on the horizon.
- A feeling of complete exhaustion and yet at the same time being completely on edge and alert.
- Tightness of breath and a feeling as though someone is clamped around my chest, suffocating me like a boa constrictor.
- Stomach cramps and a stabbing pain in the tummy.
- A complete sense of loneliness, but also a need to isolate myself totally. This can happen in a heartbeat: one minute feeling ok, and the next like my guts are being wrenched out.
- Social isolation and letting down others. I missed a gig tonight that I had been looking forward to for a while.
- A wish to go back in time and undo past wrongs.
It’s impossible to fully decribe what it’s like in a few bullet points. When in the midst of an attack of anxiety or depression you honestly feel like you are never going to get out of it or be ok again. Being rationale you know that isn’t the case, but when in the moment rationality is not a skill you possess.
I’ve had a complex relationship with people through my life. On the one hand I have always been shy, lacking in confidence, and tending to lead a fairly solitary life. On the other hand people are everything, and those that I care about are what help me get through the difficult times. I’ve always found it challenging to make and maintain lasting bonds and friendships (even at nursery school I apparently stuck to myself, and didn’t want to interact). Therefore, those people that I do befriend, especially later in life, become so important to me. And I recognise the precariousness of those friendships because I realise how important they are. I have always been someone who shies away from conflict or argument, as I hate the thought of upsetting people. While it’s not pleasant if someone upsets me, at least the only person affected is myself. But the thought of upsetting someone else is crushing. I think my illness may sometimes make me blind to how I act or behave, and while it doesn’t even cross my mind that I may have done something wrong, or crossed a boundary or been insensitive, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. If I have ever done that unwittingly to someone, it was not intentional, and would have caused me prolonged guilt and sadness when I thought this was the case. All I can say is sorry from the bottom of my heart. I’m not making an excuse, but it’s the part of my brain that I’m trying to fight that was responsible, not the part I am trying to save.
I find wisdom and meaning in music, and these words from Frank Turner pretty much sum up the difficulties of realities versus aspirations.
“But I don’t want to spend the whole of my life indoors
Laying low, waiting on the next storm
I don’t want to spend the whole of my life inside
I wanna step out, and face the sunshine”