I guess the purpose of this is to apologise. As I said earlier last week, I have 18 drafts sitting listlessly in my Drafts folder but I just have no motivation. I have lost my creative voice and my depression and anxiety are (mostly) to blame. Getting out of bed in the morning to go to a job I thought I enjoyed has been difficult. Getting through the day without snapping at people has been proving hard. Going home to a house where the floorboards are being eaten by termites, but the landlords want nothing to do with it is tiring. Sitting at my laptop, trying to study something I know will potentially help me in the future seems futile. Looking at people I know I love but feeling numb and wondering why they bother with me is exhausting. It’s upsetting, and I know I need help.
So last week I finally called a help line and spoke for well over an hour and a half to a councillor. Last week I took 2.5 days off work, saw my doctor, and received a mental health plan and medication; Blessedly subsidised/paid for by Australias Bulk Billing health care scheme. I’ve called and booked an appointment with a local therapist and I’ve informed my supervisors that mentally and emotionally I’m struggling and not coping. I had to let them know I had reached the point where I could no longer function at a basic level and it was affecting my work as well as my personal life.
None of this was or is easy – mind you. It’s hard admitting when you need help. It’s hard telling people who look up to you or respect you or look to you as strong that you’re breaking apart at the seams. It feels like failure, and it feels like giving up. I personally have hated every minute I’ve not been at work. I feel useless, ineffective and like I’ve let my team down. I feel like I’ve become a burden on those around me and those at my work place (despite my coworkers being the ones telling me to take time and sort myself out).
I know they have a valid point and I often quote the phrase “You cannot pour from an empty cup”. I believe you have to look after yourself first before you can look after other people, but I spent so long fueling myself on nothing and still getting through. Now, for some reason, my coping mechanisms no longer work. I’m finding myself breaking apart and being unable to stitch myself together. It’s devastating. Logically I know I’m ok. I’ll get through this. But my logical brain can’t seem to stop my panicking, emotional brain from taking control – making stupid life choices, spiraling and hurting my future self with reckless abandon. So I’ve had to seek help. I need new coping mechanisms.
Reading use to be a great way for me to escape – now the characters problems feel too real for me to process as fantasy. Deep, mindfulness breathing use to work – now it just adds more space for deeper sobbing. Yoga use to work to stretch the tension out – now it acts as movements to self criticise and hate my body and previous injuries, giving me time to dwell on all my flaws. None of it is helpful any more, or at least, not in this situation, not this time. I’m hoping to get myself back in to a mentally stable enough space that these things – some of my favourite activities – can go back to being part of my self-care. Because I miss them. I miss reading for pleasure. I miss yoga and the quiet moments of meditation. I miss feeling like I have some semblance of my shit together.
Which brings me back to the phone conversation I had last week. The councillor I spoke to over the phone was patient. She was kind and wasn’t at all condescending (which I have had to deal with from other councillors, pyschs and therapists over the years). I believed her when she gave insightful compliments and comments and she made me feel safe talking to her. Which was odd. She was a stranger. But this stranger said something lovely.
She said I was allowed to acknowledge my hardships in life and be proud of the fact I am strong. I made it through those hardships and I am allowed to revel in the fact that I can do it again. I need to allow myself to believe that I am strong. Now, I’m not gonna lie; I really struggle with that. Part of me feels like that breeds complacency and possibly self righteousness in a lot of people. Like, it would give me license to be cocky and full of bravado. Honestly though, most of me has no idea how I would even accept the concept that I am strong.
Since last week and all it entailed, I have finally gotten some decent sleep. This has allowed me to write down some feelings and flesh them out a little. Sleep, alongside properly dosed medication and some much-needed alone time have allowed me to formulate a plan. I was finally able to write down steps – simple steps – required to get my mental health back on track. While I’m only 6ish days back in to feeling less-than-panicked, I was able to spend my weekend productively. I bulk meal prepped delicious food. I was able to do laundry. I was able to clean out space in my closet and donate clothes I never wear. I found a box of my favourite dresses I thought I had gotten rid of.
These very small things have accumulated to my mental health being slightly better. I’m hoping to plateau and land back at my safety zone of contentment sometime soon. I am back at the gym. I’m back in to the habit of early bed time, and I love the fact I am not spending unnecessary dollars on food because I made and froze about two weeks worth of lunches and dinners. It blows my mind how such a simple thing – a conversation – can help so much. The art of having a real conversation – where someone genuinely listens and devotes their attention and time to solely you is so important and often very much underestimated.
If you are struggling with anything in your life; feeling blue, depressed, anxious, or just undervalued and under appreciated, please call someone. There are so many helpful and FREE programs out there, around the world, dedicated to making sure you are ok. It’s a really hard conversation to have, I know it is. It’s really hard to dial the number and even harder to hit send. Sometimes the hardest part is to say “Please, help me.” but I swear to you, I promise you with all my heart, those three words are worth every bit of struggle to get the help you need.
Stay silly, my friends. Look out for each other and most importantly, look after yourself. xx