Impending Appointment

I’ve spent a lot of time in bed the past few weeks. I feel completely embarrassed about admitting to that. It’s not like I haven’t got up at all, I wouldn’t if I could have dealt with it, but I’ve forced myself to get up for the evenings at least. On those days, I didn’t go out. I’d shower, put on a bit of make-up and then just sort of mope about, flitting from one side of my bedroom to the other. Part of it was mild heart-break I won’t lie, but the majority is my depression which has been rather constant since Christmas

Usually there’s a bit of a breather. I say breather, I mean usually there’s a week or two where I’m strangely up. I want to go out to neon-lit nightclubs and dance with strangers, get on trains to wherever, and run around like a child drunk on cherryade. I’ve had that a bit so far this year, but nothing like previous years. Still, I suppose it’s early. I’ve just been really down this year, steady, but down nonetheless

I had a meltdown on a night out this time last month, but I had had a lot to drink so my mental health can’t be totally to blame there. Apparently, I ran out of a club, sat on a window-sill and cried down the phone to my friend until her and her boyfriend had to get in an Uber and come to my rescue. I didn’t even know where I was, I gave them a vague indication and they had to work it out for themselves. I was looked after and pepped up by three strangers, but I barely remember that either. I just about remember scrambling through my front door at 7.30am, my face taut with dried tears, thinking the world had ended and I’d be lucky if anyone spoke to me ever again

That’s a symptom of my up-phase, putting myself into dangerous situations and not even remotely realising they’re dangerous. Back in late January, I thought it was completely fine to let a customer give me a lift home. I didn’t even know his name, I just knew he was a regular for fuel. When I next came into work, I told a colleague and he hit the roof, a reaction I was definitely not anticipating. I told another friend, thinking she’d agree with me that he’d over-reacted, but she reacted in the same way. Then it dawned on me, of course it’s ridiculous to get into a strangers car. I hadn’t even told anybody it was happening, he could’ve taken me far away and nobody would have ever known

Having said that though, once again I don’t know whether that’s because of my mental health issues, or because I just like to trust people. I can’t help thinking people are good, even though sometimes they’re not. I have this naïve notion in my head that everyone has a good heart and everyone has good intentions all the time, but that’s evidently not true

I have my GP appointment in just under a week. I remain petrified but I have not urged myself to cancel it yet, I know that I need it. This morning, I met up with a friend for breakfast. Said friend had some issues back in the day, and she was telling me what happened when she went through the system. It sort of helped, but at the same time I’m not sure what I’m even going to say yet, let alone what’s going to happen afterwards. For the rest of the week I need to try not to think about it, I need to forget about it until I get a pop-up on my phone the day before, and then I give myself permission to start panicking

Thanks for reading, Hils

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Seeking Help

I’ve never felt particularly comfortable talking about negative feelings or expressing negative emotions, and have a tendency to over-exaggerate happiness to cover up when I’m feeling down. Saying “I’m fine” when I’m definitely not fine is just much simpler than explaining why I’m not fine, and adding to that feeling the guilt of talking about myself as well as the anxious thought “well, now this person probably thinks I’m depressing and weird”

For a good number of years, I’ve preferred to bottle things up, at the cost of making myself even more mentally unwell to the point of some very dark episodes. There’s been a few times where I’ve found myself in the grips of one too many Malibu and lemonades, and have in my intoxicated state unburdened myself on friends, but even then I find it quite tough. It’s just not something that comes naturally to me, or many others. But at twenty-three years old I’m aware that I need to stop kidding myself. It’s been a long time and I’m now entering a stage in my life where I need to own up to the fact that I have mental health issues and I’m not able to control them by simply willing them away

About two or three years ago, I finally went to the doctors. I’d booked so many appointments through Patient Access and had ultimately cancelled them. I eventually booked one and forced myself to go, though I was absolutely terrified and didn’t even tell anyone I’d gone until afterwards. When I got into the room and saw the doctor sitting there I immediately burst into tears and felt so ashamed. But she let me cry, told me it was perfectly okay to cry. She asked me a few questions and told me she was going to recommend me for counselling, but nothing happened and I didn’t go back. I came to the realisation that she must’ve ascertained I wasn’t a priority, and that I should deal with it myself

Now I think it’s time for me to try again. I won’t split hairs, I’m the lowest I’ve been in a long time, I’m anxious all the time and I panic so frequently that it’s become noticeable to people around me. It’s not really an ideal way to be. Not only do I want to move out with a friend and get a new job in the next few months, I graduate this summer after five long years of studying. A lot is going to change this year and at this moment in time, I don’t know if I’m going to handle it very well at all

I’m nervous but I know that this is a step I need to take, and I’m planning to use this space to document what happens. In the meantime the primary support I have, other than friends, is Elefriends. Elefriends is an online community from mental health charity Mind that gives you the freedom to openly post statuses and reach out for support, anonymously if you wish to be so. I have found it very comforting and if you’ve read this and feel like you relate to any of it, I highly recommend joining up

Thanks for reading, Hils

Birthday Girl

Tomorrow evening, I turn twenty-three. This time last year, and in fact every year since I was about eighteen, I have been terrified of my birthday. The thought of being another year older with not much to show for it has always made me feel so pessimistic, the outcome of which was me making my friends pretend I was turning eighteen for the past few years. This year however, something unusual has happened. I’m turning twenty-three and I don’t mind. I’m still not in a great place mental health-wise, but I’m okay, and I’m not remotely scared of my birthday tomorrow

It’s safe to say that the first half of this year has been relatively negative, but I’d rather not dwell. It’s the past week alone that has well and truly been the pinnacle. A pretty atrocious week all-round really. A week in which, at the risk of sounding melodramatic, I have been lied to, pressured into feeling guilty, back-stabbed, and heartbroken. However, it’s all resulted in some valuable life lessons

Lesson one – I’m an understanding person, and I’ll always try my utmost best to attempt to understand how someone is feeling and thinking. If someone needs compassion or help, I’ll try my hardest. But I won’t let it slide if my understanding and tolerance is thrown back in my face. What seems to have happened is ultimately I’ve realised that I’m not a carpet, and I refuse to be walked over as such. I don’t like confrontation but I seem to have learnt that sometimes it’s necessary. I’m not saying that in the space of a week I’ve developed a backbone, but I feel like I’m on my way

Lesson two – I’ve got to open up more. I’ve known for years that I shouldn’t be keeping certain things to myself, but I didn’t realise quite how dangerous and damaging it could be. This week I have witnessed first-hand what keeping something to yourself can result in, and it’s not pretty. I also watched a documentary, All in the Mind by Tim Rhys-Evans, who suffered a mental breakdown a couple of years ago. I deeply connected with some of the things he was saying about how he felt at that time, and it really hit home how real it all is. It’s vital for us to unburden ourselves sometimes, and we don’t need to feel guilty about that

Lesson three – I no longer want to be eighteen. Things have changed in five years, being eighteen now is not the same as it was when I was eighteen

These past few days, I have been surrounded by the most important people in my life, my mum, my sister, my family, and my friends. I’ve made mental and social breakthroughs, and though I may not be anywhere near where I want to be in terms of happiness and health, I’m on the right track and for once I’m proud of myself

Thanks for reading, Hils

Weird

I saw a video the other day, I think it was on Facebook, a Buzzfeed video about the effects of stress. I think it’s common knowledge that stress can eventually lead to heart attacks and strokes, but having it voiced in video-form sort of drummed it into me and made me think about how stressed I am. I’m not stressed about general situations really, like work or studying. They can be stressful but I’m not consciously stressed about them, not at the moment. But just about everything else I suppose. My top three stress-inducers are my physical appearance, my behaviour/personality, and the aforementioned crush situation

I keep catching myself off-guard, feeling quite taken aback by my own behaviour. If I’m too loud then I mentally berate myself, if I’m too quiet I do the same. I’m embarrassed by the things I say, and keep finding myself questioning absolutely everything. I went out for dinner with friends the other night, and myself and one friend ended up in the supermarket I work in afterwards. Any time a fellow colleague spoke to me, I found myself turning to my friend and saying “was I weird then? Did I come across as weird?” This isn’t anything new, but for some reason it’s very heightened at the moment

It feels like my chest cavity is playing host to a really heavy bomb, and every-time I say or do something awkward, it gets that little bit closer to going off inside me and exploding me into a million tiny little pieces. I know I need to get the ball rolling, sort out a doctors appointment, but I’m scared of change. I’m frightened that I’ll change, which is odd because I don’t like myself at all, and I want to change everything

Thanks for reading, Hils

Like-Liking Someone

You know what I mean by like-liking someone. More than liking but definitely not ready to start casting the other L word about. Quite frankly, this is new territory for me. I’ve had crushes before. Lower school crushes on fellow sticky children, crushes on a charismatic teacher or two, silly crushes from afar, brief crushes on men I’ve met for mere minutes and shared clumsy drunken kisses with, if they can even be considered as such. Super deep, intense crushes however, not quite that common. Crushes that have made me, a generally emotionally inept human being, feel almost every emotion under the sun and have, to put it sickeningly, changed me to some extent, I can count on one hand. In fact, half a hand. Two, there have been two. The first was requited to some extent, the second remains to be seen and at present is playing havoc with my well-being

I’ve liked this person for a good few months. About two months ago it reached the stage where I suddenly realised that were this person to not like me back, I would probably be pretty upset. Now I’m essentially a bubbling cauldron ready to overflow if nothing happens soon and yet I can’t do anything about it because I’m too awkward and panicky

My self-worth is non-existent. It has been for a long time, long enough for me to try to believe that I should simply accept my fate as the viewer not the doer. I should just grace the earth with the hand I’ve been dealt. Here she is world, a somewhat funny if cumbersome adult-child with minimal personal drama because her low self-esteem renders her incapable of living life properly. She also possesses the emotional scale of a teaspoon, but hey she’s a good listener

I don’t know how to believe that someone might not think that about me. Sometimes someone will hand me a compliment and it makes me quietly happy, but then I feel awkward about it because my mind forces me to convince myself that it’s untrue. My mum will say “your hair looks lovely today,” and I’ll say “you have to say that. You’re my mum.” The upshot is, I don’t like myself, so how on earth can I expect someone to like me?

One friend who has been strenuously attempting to coax me into making some sort of move has said “the risk of rejection is worth it, even if it’s a bit awkward after, it’s just better than not knowing.” But I don’t think I can agree with that. I am a constantly awkward anxiety-riddled human being whose exhausting daily life is controlled by trying to relieve potential awkward situations, not create them willingly

I have been close to telling him. A few nights ago, I fell into a bit of a rabbit hole thoughts-wise and abruptly convinced myself that I had to tell him or I never would. The whole endeavour was short-lived because I panicked so considerably that I ended up literally running away from him

Like-liking someone when battling mental health problems is essentially the pits. It’s yet another thing to over-think and stress about, another something to add to the list of ever-expanding somethings to panic about. Only, it’s not just another something, it’s something deemed pretty momentous. I never pegged romantic situations and like-liking someone as momentous, but then again it’s not often I feel this intensely about a person. Suddenly, I find myself understanding songs I didn’t understand before, and actually wanting to watch rom-coms. The shame. It can only get better, or worse. I don’t seem to be as good at judging outcomes as I thought I was. A crystal ball would be handy right about now to be honest

Thanks for reading, Hils

Twenties

It’s true what they say, you spend all your time wishing you could be a bit older and then when you get there you wish you could be younger again

I don’t think I’d mind being in my twenties so much if it had panned out as I had imagined. When I was a teenager, I had this view of my twenties-self. Slim, pretty, put-together, knew what I was about and where I wanted to be. A real hot-shot. But my real twenties-self is just a worse version of my teenage-self. I’d like to say I’m a bit less awkward, I don’t use the word “awesome” anymore at least. But actually as a teenager I had an excuse for being awkward, now as a young adult there isn’t one. Except for mental health I suppose. That old chestnut

Mental health is one of those condemning subjects I try to avoid talking about. Again, what started out as “just teenage things” has slowly developed into uncontrollable mental health issues, which were definitely not predicted as attributes of my twenties-self. Essentially, it’s just shite

I don’t like to talk about my mental health, or in fact myself. I have virtually never talked mental health with my mum, and I rarely talk to friends about it. I’ve always struggled to open up, primarily because I have no idea how to word things, but secondly because I feel so guilty if I talk about myself too much. I’ve never understood people who can brazenly talk about themselves for long periods of time, apparently not worrying about being tedious

Regardless, I can’t do that. I feel like once I open up, that’s it, I can’t take it back. So I keep it to myself and it builds up until I blow my top like a volcano. Clearly not the right way of dealing with something but that’s how it is

Recently however, a friend said something to me that’s sort of been playing on my mind since she said it. She asked me if I’d seen the new Stephen Fry documentary about manic depression. I said I hadn’t, but I had. She told me that she’d noticed that sometimes I displayed milder versions of some of the behaviours that were shown. Part of me felt upset that she’d been able to recognise something that I thought I was hiding very well, but part of me felt pleased that finally someone had been able to notice that I wasn’t quite right

I’m not self-diagnosing myself with manic depression, I truly have no idea what’s going on in my brain, be it that or not. But it’s something and that’s no mistake

I’m twenty-two, nearly twenty-three. I’m perfectly aware that the longer I go without finding out what’s going on, and finding out how to get help, the worse it’s going to be. I have a small but good support system around me, and I have people willing to help, I just need to muster the courage to help myself

Thanks for reading, Hils