Tuesday, 11 October 2011

gosh.

I think this is quite an angry post - but it is an angry post from my heart. I fear today is even more personal than yesterday. I have never been so open. You may find some of the latter paragraphs disturbing. I understand if you choose not to read. Today is for me and that me is not an amazing person.

I'm not quite sure what to say. I think my post yesterday was far too positive and conveyed almost a false hope. I want there to be hope, I need there to be hope. Each day I feel like I am fighting a civil war with myself. There is one tiny part which knows I am more but I am overwhelmed by what I fear is my truth. The truth that I am not worthy to be wasting our precious oxygen. I fear I am doing a disservice to anyone who is suffering more than me. I fear I am making it so very worse for people who are genuinely ill. I fear I am a fraud.


I know that I quietly cried myself to sleep last night. 

They were not happy tears. They were the tears of knowing that so many of you share my pain. Pain seems like it should be the wrong word. I know I still catch myself thinking that I don't have a real disease. Such is the cleverness of mental illness. But it is the right word. The pain is sometimes numbness and the numbness is overwhelming and infects every part of your existence.

"The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." 
Thank you Mr Kint. Mental illness is the Devil.

They were tears that I have still so very far to go and I am already exhausted. I want this all to be over. As much as I want to be brave I know that if I had the choice to have never been born, for Bean to have never known me I would take it. To have never existed would make it all better. I know I have not touched many lives and that hurts me so very much. I want to be extraordinary. I wish there were no anna.*


Your response to my last post has been overwhelming.

Many of you have said I am brave. I am not. I am a coward.

I am a coward who sometimes cannot leave the house because my brain continues to tell me I am completely useless. I am completely useless. 

Such petty things upset me. I think that no-one will turn up to my little Ring Bash. I fear my new website will be a complete failure. I know I cannot emulate the success of my counterparts. I can't seem to foster the community I want and I know that is my fault because I obviously do not have the right turn of phrase or I am clearly uninspiring. I see people write awful words and they are lauded as heroes. How can I compete with that? I cannot be that person.**

Today, I realised that I failed to acknowledge a huge part of my problem.

I forgot to talk about my anxiety. I guess because I am only just accepting that I am an incredibly anxious person. How it still screams failure to me. How do I not have more control? Why am I not stronger? I have the innate ability to scupper any positive moments in my life.

Depression doesn't scare me anymore. My anxiety does so very much.

You only need to read through my words on trying to learn to drive to understand how physical the disease is. I have another lesson tomorrow and it is taking every fibre of my being not to cancel it. Since being behind the wheel I have cried whenever I have been in a car for an extended period of time. I shouted at Bean and made him feel awful for no reason. I am physically scared of the situation. I write these words in floods of tears. It is such a visceral reaction I wish I could explain.

Anxiety. It is a dreadful affliction. Another disease which is shrugged off by many a doctor as just a personality quirk or just a lack of motivation. I understand it is difficult to empathise with something in which you do not believe but perhaps it is time to give someone the benefit of the doubt. Physical signs or symptoms are so much easier to believe. I have those too. Not classical self harm but that does not make it any less powerful or noteworthy. Inflicting pain upon myself to avoid certain social interactions has been a pattern for many a year. I have carefully overdosed on my medication, not to hurt myself but to see if I could feel something. I have cut myself to find some semblance of control. To see blood dripping from my skin hoping it will rid me of my fog. I strategically planned my suicide to know that I had a way out. I have focused my anxiety to the point where I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I have ruined my body. I am hideous because I hate myself. I hate myself because I am hideous. Why does it matter so much to me what I look like? Why do I assume I can only be happy if I am beautiful? 
"What a strange illusion it is to suppose that beauty is goodness"
Tolstoy

I have begun to realise I have partly destroyed myself through assuming I knew what people thought. I have gone through childhood thinking my parents were not proud of me, thinking I was the second best, thinking I was useless. These may be still very true to me and their originators but that does not make them right. 

I wish I could SUCK IT UP (as so many people have literally told me in the past) but I can't. I need to be fixed. I need to remember this takes time. I have to remind myself how far I have come and not always focus upon the negative.

I'm not entirely sure what to say to you. To the wonderful 40 odd people who took time out of their day to write to me. I just wish I could explain how kind you all are. (Well I do know that the blogger system makes thanking you all annoyingly difficult and impersonal).

Thank you for your kind words yesterday. I will try to take them to heart. I am just very good at pushing away positive thoughts and I can dismiss any positive statement with a carefree ease. Please do not feel you have to offer any more today. I do sometimes think I am asking far too much of you. People who I am sure have far better things to do than listen to a stupid little girl witter on about her non-problems.

I am off the the Brain Man now. I hope he can help me make sense of all of this. I sure as hell can't.

*That is a hard thing to say out loud.
**There are other fears that I will never be a doctor or be the anna I want to be for Bean but that is another post.

16 comments:

  1. Every word in this post, I can relate too. I've suffered from depression since the age of 12 but only come to terms with it since I met Ben.
    He is the reason why I am still here today. Depression is something you just can't cure. It's always going to be with you, like a ticking time bomb. One day, something or some one will just let it off and then you are back to the beginning again.

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  2. *tears* a lot of the things you speak of rings true for me.... You are not alone Anna xxxx

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  3. Anna remember you are not alone!
    It might be a long journey and at times seem unbelievably impossible, but you will get there...with every step and honest word you are getting closer all the time! xxx

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  4. Darling Anna, I can promise you that you're not alone in how you are feeling.

    You were brave to write what you wrote yesterday and what you have written today. Even if you don't feel that way right now, I hope that at some point in the future you will look back and know it to be true.

    As Lottie says above you will get there. Unfortunately there's no magic, quick cure for depression as you know. It takes time and more energy and strength than anyone who has not suffered could ever imagine. You will think that you haven't got that strength and energy but you have. I promise it's in there. It just gets squashed and hidden by the illness. That's part of it's nasty trickery.

    Hold on to the positives of each day, no matter how tiny they may be. Write them in a book. Or somewhere. The act of writing them down means that the depression cannot take them away.

    Sending you lots of love, courage, hope and hugs. One step at a time Anna, you will get there and life will be more amazing than you can ever imagine. xxxxxx

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  5. You are definitely not alone in this, people who say to suck it up are idiots and used to drive me crazy, its impossible, its like telling someone who has cancer to just buck up and get over it, you can't.

    There will always be tough days and good days, hopefully more good than bad, and anything can get you back to that place again but to get there makes you a much stronger person

    xxx

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  6. Oh Anna you are a brave and beautiful and clever and witty and honest person. I know exactly what you mean because I fight those same battles - I am not good enough, smart enough, funny enough, pretty enough..... In the past year or so it is only my children that have kept me going - because I have to. I have to get up and take them to school, I have to pick them up and take them to wherever, I have to cook for them, wash their clothes, read with them. But it is easy to hide behind them and not do anything outside of their needs and that is where I am now (now I am crying too!)
    I mentioned yesterday about CBT and it has really helped me realise that believing that you know what people think or are saying about you is faulty thinking in your own head - how can we possibly know what someone else thinks about something? Believing that someone is smarter, stronger, wiser, just an all round better person is faulty thinking as well - we don't know what is going on in that person's head any more than they know what is in ours - so many of us display classic swan syndrome!
    You are brave - the hardest thing to do is admit that you have a problem, that you are hurting and you have done that in the most public way. You may believe that it is cowardly because you have done it from behind your blog, but the fact is you have done it and people have shown that you are not alone - there are people who care how you are feeling and many are feeling very similar things.
    I know what you mean about dismissing positive and dwelling on negative - I have had to work really hard to accept compliments and not feel the need to make some throw-away remark to trivialise them. How is it so easy to believe unfounded negatives and ignore positives that are standing right in front of you?
    It is so hard to stop comparing yourself to others and love who you are and what you are for just that - it is something that I am still trying to learn. No, you cannot be any of your counterparts, because they are them and you are you and clearly people love you for who and what you are.
    I personally would love to come to your ring bash and give you the biggest hug, but then I throw up my own barriers because I feel really inadequate in such situations, so I think "it will be too far away", "what about the children" "I can't afford to stay away for such an indulgence" and really it is all masking the truth that I don't believe anyone would want to talk to me or find me interesting or I would look rubbish or.......
    You don't have to suck it up - that is a pile of crap! But you do deserve to love and respect yourself, to celebrate who and what you are and to believe in yourself enough to realise that people DO want to read your stuff and DO NOT think that you are a stupid little girl.
    Hm, think that just turned into a mini-post :s
    Sending you a hug blog hug xxxxx

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  7. I've been there. Within that cycle of self hatred, anxiety and guilt where it feels like you're tearing yourself to pieces. It's horrible you feel something, then you hate yourself for feeling that.

    The only thing is I can say is keep going. You're fighting your depression and it's fighting back. Hard. Also give yourself permission to feel what you feel no judgement of yourself or internalised judgement of what you think others think of you. Keep going to the brain man, keep talking. You're not alone and you are worthy of oxygen and so much more. Maybe you can't hear that now but I hope that one day you will xxx

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  8. you keep fighting. You keep fighting even when you feel exhausted and simply wish someone else would take over for you. some things that I hope will give you food for thought, and maybe even a different perspective:
    1. Bravery/cowardice. It's not you who's being a coward. You have a very real illness. It's all about the way your brain chemistry is working. Body chemistry goes wrong all the time, in so many ways. People have too little iron, people have too much, people have too much blood sugar, people have too little, people react negatively to foods and smells and everything. All chemicals and reactions. Your brain chemistry is wonky. You don't get a rash, you don't get bloated or faint or anything. You get depression. That's the symptom, that's the result of that reaction. You don't see other people out there with other body chemical imbalances saying they're not brave and they are cowards, and yet yes, their body chemical imbalances *do* prevent them from eating or doing certain things. You are not a coward. Accept that. Bravery is when you can push through the reactions of those chemical imbalances (in this case, talking about what's wrong, talking about it publicly) and you do stuff anyway. You do it at a pace that fits and suits you best. You did that yesterday, you're doing it again today. That's not quitting, not giving in, that's doing anything, something, or even having a day off but returning to it when you're ready. A day off isn't a set back, it's just a day off. Even mountaineers stop en route to have a cup of tea and a rest break. It doesn't mean they're suddenly descending because they're not ascending.

    2. The point of medication is to help deal with that body chemical imbalance. Blogging is theraputic. Lots of things are and can be. For me, my therapy was photography. Keep looking for positive things you can do. I know it's hard, but if its reading lots of books (escapism), blogging, talking to friends, taking little walks exploring your neighbourhood, going to your doctor and requesting cognitive behaviour therapy sessions (I was on a waiting list, but totally worthwhile. It's like the meds are the petrol, but the CBT is the road map to get you going) keep doing it. Keep doing whatever feels right. BTW, this book is highly recommended for CBT and getting through the "thoughts". http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mind-Over-Mood-Change-Changing/dp/0898621283/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1318349115&sr=8-1

    3. Earlier I mentioned that feeling of wishing someone else was there to fight for you. One day, you'll realise there is. You'll realise you have a total army of friends and family, the good friends, the really good, proper ones, all around you. They'll be standing beside you, supporting you. I'd put money on betting (and expect to win) that they're already there. But when you realise it, my goodness. You'll feel like you're wrapped in the most powerful armour ever known.

    Love to you, sweetheart. We're on your side. xx

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  9. Lovely Anna. Your words make a great impression on me. I can't quite work out what that is, but I am humbled, informed, saddened, and a million other things in response to your openness. You have also made a great impression on me in real life. I enjoyed meeting you at the Bridesmaids screening back in March and again in Newcastle. I am glad to have come across you - albeit tangentially and admittedly superficially. I wish you strength lovely lady, for you and for your Bean.

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  10. Hi Anna,
    I don't know quite what to write other than i can relate to everything you have put in the last two posts. My depression started when i was 15 and it has been my unconventional friend since. My Self harm developed from self hate, which has gladly become self acceptance. My anxiety came from my dads accident and the thought of *losing time* with the world and my loved ones. It masqueraded itself on a trip of a lifetime and disguised its symptoms by thinking I had had a stroke... {insert 20 something girl slurring words/limping/ dead arm feeling picture here} 8yrs later I'm still on meds and still get the duvet days and feeling of not wanting to go outside. All I do know is that I take it day by day.

    So here's to talking openly, letting people in, sunshine, chocolate ice cream days, a good hug and a "I love you" from the ones you love. Because that to me and it differs for everyone, is how I will beat it.

    xxx

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  11. It's hard to know what to write without sounding wanky, but so many of us really do understand. The problems I mentioned yesterday are all about anxiety as I've been lucky never to have been affected by the black dog, but I have had full on panic attacks when faced with crossing the road or having lost my keys and other day to day trivialities which I've managed to control pretty well now thanks primarily to talking about it (first with a professional but now just with James or my mum).

    It really does sound as though you have a good understanding of your condition, not just as a Dr but as a patient, and that really is the key to things getting better and moving forward so please remember that although it's still shit and will probably be shit tomorrow one day it won't be.

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  12. Oh Anna... I wish I could find the right words here. Or indeed be honest enough to tell you in what way I understand. As someone who was once called brave by everyone I knew (at a time when I least felt it), I know it's a hard word to take. (I also spent a lot of time then smiling manically, because people wouldn't ask me if I was ok if they saw me smile. Lots of people do understand that not all smiles are the same.)

    But know that to other people you are brave – whether you feel it or not. You're really not alone, no matter how much it feels that way. Be careful with yourself, and try not to take too much of everyone's else pain/problems on – it can get hard to know where yours starts and someone else's begins. And remember to breathe.

    I'm not sure if any of that helps xx

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  13. Anna, you WILL get through this. I can see you putting up such a fight.

    I don't know if it will interest you but I just read a great book named Mr Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt. It has... an interesting perspective.

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  14. It has taken me all day to get to read this and I applaud your decision to be open and straightforward about mental health issues.

    I had extreme, and for a long time undiagnosed, post natal depression after the birth of my second child that saw me living a smaller and smaller existance until stepping out of the door in the morning was too much.

    As women there are so many pressures - both culturally and purely from having hormones - that mental 'good' health, whatever that may be, is never a permanent state in my experience. I feel that an expectation that there will be a state of nirvana for me where I always feel great is not only a nonsense it is also very limiting

    Having recently been under enormous strain in my personal life I found when the adrenalin, or whatever odd chemical that helps you meet previously incomprensible challenges, ebbs away I crashed to a point of near collapse.

    Only now I recognise it - because of someone like you who years ago gave me some literature that simply told me I was ill not mad.

    I was not prepared to battle and simply opted for a prescription after three months of struggling. This has worked and when I feel ready I'll tackle the issue more hollistically.

    I am happy to say I have experienced depression, anxiety, panic attacks to the point where I thought planes would crash on my house, eating out would make me ill and a certain shade of lipstick would make me sick. Elastic bands on the wrist, hypochondria - you name it.

    Having met you for a nano second and have not read all your posts I don't have any advice. I just wanted you to know that silence makes one worse. Speaking out, writing out is great for you and a huge service to others.

    Also please remember that all cool, funny, inspired genius-types that I love to bits are all mad as a box of frogs.

    Ok - so I may know one or two people that have been sectioned, 'Priory-ed' or imprisoned but very seriously because there is a lack of decent mental health provision and a tendancy therefore to self medicate with drugs or alcohol. Airing this issue, your issues, is brilliant if you feel able to.

    Anything that reduces the stigma and opens communication is hugely beneficial.


    Emma xxx
    Miss Bush Bridal

    Ps - invite me to your do - I like a party

    Pps - learning to drive is scary unless you are a knob like Jeremy Clarkson

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  15. Maaaan. I don't know what to say, except "maaaan." Thanks for sharing. You may not feel brave, but it's nice to know that we are not alone, and so... well. Maaaan.

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  16. I had tears pricking my eyes yesterday and I have more today (must stop reading at work!!)

    I really do applaud you and honour you, I don't think I ever could've been so honest about my own mental health issues.

    This too shall pass Anna, there will still be days when you feel shit, trust me, I know, I'm there right now. But there will be other days where you feel good. You are a lovely, sweet, honest person. I know it's hard to take that on board, I'm the same, someone in the loo's this morning said, "You look good!" and I thought, "Oh shut up, I look awful!" But it's true. You're such a good soul Anna. And I've never even met you (and I'm sure you think I'm your stalker or something!)

    I was seeing a counsellor woman and the only thing I've taken away from that shockingly expensive experience is the word 'Respect'.

    I hate myself. A lot. But what I try to think is to respect myself, and it might not work everytime and I tell myself to shut up with the psychobabble but honestly, sometimes, it does help. I'm not saying Suck it Up, coz I get sick of people telling me that too, but I just want to say, I know where you're at, I've been there, I'm still there, and yknow, thank you for sharing dude.

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So, I really love all the sweet and/or informative comments that you lovelies leave. Yet if you feel the need to be unnecessarily rude or offensive I will delete your comment and not feel bad about it. So just be constructive alright! Hugs to all you wondrous others.

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