The Unexpected Hiatus

Hiatus

I’ve had a number of people comment over the last few weeks on Twitter, on Facebook and our other social media platforms that they’ve noticed I’ve been rather absent of late.  Unfortunately this isn’t due to technical problems, it’s not due to anything other than the fact that I’ve been on a break.  An unexpected hiatus, if you like.  There’s been a number of reasons for this, some of which I’ll go into, but before I do I wanted to apologise for not being around.  So…let’s look at why.

New Things, Old Things

I could go on about the same old story: struggling with depression, with anxiety, with BPD…but you all know how that one goes, so is there much point in me hashing that one out again?  Possibly not.  Still, I’ve been finding it harder to motivate myself lately.  Sometimes just getting out of bed has been an achievement!  Whether it’s the winter months drawing in or something else, I don’t really know what’s prompted this.  Nevertheless, it’s here and I’m finding it hard to get that motivation sorted.  

(At this point, let me say that any tips and suggestions are more than welcome!  Just don’t be offended if I say it doesn’t work for me, after all we’re all different!)

So that’s the old thing.  Well…old things.  Anyway, off with the old and onto the new.  I started psychotherapy recently!  It’s kinda funny because my therapist looks a lot like Jim Broadbent but that’s another story.  Still, this is what I’ve been doing the past few weeks, trying to sort everything out and attend my psychotherapy sessions with this guy (joking, not quite him!)

Now the psychotherapy itself has been a bust, unfortunately.  We did the whole “getting to know you” session and he said he would consult with a colleague and find out what options were best for me.  I was told by the hospital I was originally under that this was going to be the treatment for me, that it would give me the answers I needed, it would find out the cause of my conditions and so on.

They were wrong.

Psychotherapy…Not What I Expected

That kinda sums it up: it’s not what I expected.  I’ve been told that in order to get better, I have to go into a DBT group session.  Now, I don’t do well with group therapy.  It sends my anxiety through the roof and makes it even harder for me to get there, so it’s more or less impossible for me to do so.  Yet the therapist, after only one session, has decided that is the only option for me.  Something to do with my personality disorder.  Regardless of whether or not I can do it, I’ve been told this is the only way forwards.

It’s unfortunately something I can’t do.  Not to mention the waiting list is over a year!

So here I am, with no treatment prospects, no avenues for getting better, more or less at a dead end almost back to where I started.  I’m sure you can understand how that would be difficult.  Add on top of that that running this website, coming up with the content is hard work and so on, you can imagine where my struggles are coming from.

What should I do?  I’ll be honest: I don’t know.  It doesn’t look like I’m going to get treated.  I also don’t know how to find this motivation again.  That, unfortunately, has been the reason for my unexplained hiatus.

Truth be told, I’m struggling.  Really struggling.  So who knows what will happen next?

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Disclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

The Difference Between Thoughts and Plans

*Trigger Warning: this post talks about suicide, suicidal thoughts and suicidal plans.*

Thoughts…Plans…Suicide…

Whenever someone with depression or a mental illness that can prompt depression-like symptoms is in a counselling or therapy appointment, one of the most common questions asked by the therapist is: “have you made any plans to end your life?”  It’s a scary question and one that we don’t like to contemplate.  Whether we’ve had those thoughts or not, the notion that we might end our lives can be terrifying.

For friends and family members, it’s almost a taboo topic.  No one likes to hear that their loved one is having thoughts about their own death.  If you hear that someone close to you is considering ending their life, it might prompt you to reevaluate yourself, asking why you’re not enough to keep them here.

Regardless of who is talking about it – the therapist, the one suffering, the friend or the family member – suicide is never a pleasant topic.  That said, it is one that is integral to many mental health conditions and it’s important that we break down the stigmas attached.  So here, I’m going to tell you a few things about suicide that might help.

“Plans To End My Life”

For the majority of people, hearing someone talk about suicide immediately makes them think that person is planning to end their life.  Certainly, this might be a possibility and it seems to be the part of suicide that we hear the most about.  True, we hear about people who have committed suicide but whenever we hear about people who think of suicide, we hear about those who are making plans.

In many respects, it’s almost become something of a horror story.  Someone struggling with mental health mentions suicidal thoughts and next thing we know they’re being sectioned for their own safety.  OK, these things don’t quite go down like that, but it’s one of the impressions of suicide that I’ve heard.

But did you know that there is a difference between plans and thoughts?  It’s something that people forget but it’s a very important differentiation to note.

Suicidal Thoughts

Contrary to popular belief, suicidal thoughts are far more common than you might believe.  According to mind.org.uk anyone can have them, regardless of their background or situation in life.  Yet it might surprise you to know it’s not quite as concerning as it’s made out to be.

Many of us who struggle with suicidal thoughts don’t actually have any intention of following through on them.  We have thoughts about how we would do it, we have thoughts about what the world would be like if we did do it but they aren’t plans.  They are abstract thoughts.  Think of them as the fleeting thoughts, the ones that aren’t too important, but surface every now and again.  A lot of the time, they’re not very intense and we’re not likely to act on them.  They are more like musings than actual proper, seriously considered thoughts.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not making light of suicidal thoughts.  If someone is having them then it is vital they consult a medical professional to determine whether there is an underlying problem.  What I am saying is that we, as friends and family members, should not freak out if someone we love comes to us and tells us they are having suicidal thoughts.  The best thing to do is to be understanding, to be calm and empathetic.

Having suicidal thoughts does not mean that we will necessarily act on them but they must be taken seriously nonetheless!

What You Need To Know

As with all aspects of mental health, suicidal thoughts vary from person to person.  Some experience them strongly, some don’t.  For some, they last a long time, for others they are fleeting.  As for reasons, some people have clear ones why they would be thinking of it, others might not know.  It is a complicated thing.  The best things you can do are:

No one likes admitting to having suicidal thoughts and it can be scary for both sides.  Yet it can be part and parcel of having depression, bipolar, BPD and other mental illnesses.  A counsellor once told me this:

“Suicidal thoughts aren’t necessarily a bad thing.  It means your mind is looking for a way out of your current situation.  All we have to do is provide it with an alternative.”

So what do you say?  Shall we work together to find an alternative for the ones we love?

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Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Crossing the Borders

The Borders of Borderline

Borderline Personality Disorder doesn’t seem to get much coverage, does it?  It’s pushed over the borders of what’s talked about and what’s not, left in the dark.  Why?  Possibly because there are still a lot of things that people don’t really know about it.  It’s one of the reasons we did our Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Week back in August.  Well, this won’t be like all those times it’s not talked about because today I’m talking about the borders of Borderline Personality Disorder.

Saturday 03/11/2018

So, on Saturday I had quite a good day.  In the morning, I had a bit of a lazy day with Cheryl (the Little One was at her dad’s as it was his weekend with her) and we took advantage of that to relax a bit.  In the afternoon we went out to the shops to pick up a few things for the firework display at Cheryl’s mum’s that evening and then we went to pick up the kids (as their dad didn’t want to go to the fireworks with us) and we went off to Grandma’s for the bonfire and fireworks in the garden.

It was a lovely evening, with Cheryl and her sisters and their husbands, the kids, their cousins and, of course, Grandma.  Oh and the cat lurking somewhere about and the fish!  We ate hotdogs and soup and snacks, watched amazing fireworks from both Grandma’s garden and the garden a few doors down, as is the nature of fireworks.  Then the anxiety started up, the noise levels got a bit too much and I decided I needed to go home.  As if that wasn’t enough, I ended up with a bit of a squiffly stomach, which didn’t really help.  Anyway, we took the Little One back to her dad’s as it was late and she was getting tired, then I headed home and Cheryl went back to Grandma’s for that bit longer.

Truth be told, it was a lovely evening.  That night, however, things went pear-shaped.  Due to some mistake somewhere – with the chemist or the doctor or maybe I lost them – I didn’t have enough of my Quetiapine to see me through this week.  Normally I take them before bed and they help me sleep.  Well, I didn’t have them, so couldn’t take them.

And all hell broke loose.

Sunday 04/11/2018

I had two hours sleep.  For whatever reason, I couldn’t switch off.  I ended up binge watching Daredevil on Netflix, playing a little bit of a game on my tablet, tossing and turning, the works.  (There’s a blue-light filter on my tablet so it wasn’t that!)  It was only at around 5am that I was finally able to get some shut-eye.  Needless to say, it didn’t set me up for a great day the next day…

So Sunday…Sunday Sunday Sunday.  Depression, anxiety and Borderline Personality Disorder.  Lucky me, right?  Yeah, that’s what I thought.  On waking up at 7am-ish (don’t ask me why, I have no idea why) I was bright, I couldn’t sit still, I was bouncing ever so slightly on the bed (like the same way you’d jig your leg or be tapping your fingers, but I was sat on the bed at the time).  Then the mood crashed.  I lost all energy and motivation.  It was all I could do to get myself out of bed.

This was how my day went.  Up then down.  Up then down.  And again and again, over and over, mood cycling almost half-hourly.  It’s the part people don’t really talk about.  They talk about the lows of depression, the highs of anxiety…but what about the mood cycles?  Really, it was something like this:

You may have laughed at that and, if I’m honest, I smiled at it.  Yet how true is it?

The Reality of Crossing Those Borders

For those of us struggling with BPD, it’s a reality.  One minute we’re fine, the next we’re not.  The highs, the lows, the depths, the summits.  Crossing the borders between fine and not, between “happy” and “depressed” is so easy.  It’s sudden.  Unpredictable.

Horrible.

Do you know what makes it worse?  When you’re high and riding that feeling it can be quite euphoric.  I felt as though I could conquer the world; it was my oyster ready for the taking.  Nothing could stop me, anything I put my mind to could be achieved.  Then only moments later I was at the depths of despair, where everything was pointless, meaningless and I was hopeless.

Imagine that for a second if you can: going from that euphoric high to that crushing low.  If anything, it makes it so much worse because that drop is suddenly so much further.  Going from a reasonable day into a depressive spiral is one thing but going from that unlimited high down into that depth?  It really does make it so much worse.

So that was my Sunday.  How was yours?

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Left Behind – The Battle Behind the Choice

Simply Put: I Left

OK, so this latest post in my journey is difficult for me to write.  It talks about why I made the decision to leave behind a big part of my life.  A lot of people don’t know this, perhaps a lot of people don’t understand it, but here it is: the battle behind why I left my church.

Over the past nineteen months that Pushing Back the Shadows has been going, I’ve talked about my faith only a few times.  Not because I’m embarrassed about it – quite the opposite, really – I just don’t agree with using this mental health platform to push my religious beliefs onto anyone else.  If they happen to coincide with what I’m writing about, I’ll add them in, but only then.  It’s because of my faith that you’ve had posts such as The Mustard Seed – the fifth part of the Inside My Head series – and Why I’m a Christian But Have a Problem With Religion.  Now we come to this one.

To clarify, before you read what I have to say, this does not reflect everyone in that church.  Nor does it reflect my views on the church as a whole, the Salvation Army (as that’s the church involved), any kind of problem with other churches or other faiths and denominations.  It is what it is.

So what happened?

My Life In the Church

OK, let’s jump back to the beginning for a moment.  I’ll catch you up, don’t worry.  I was brought up in the church.  My parents are Salvation Army ministers and, as such, I’d go every Sunday, attend the Sunday School, you know how it goes.  I also became a member of the church, first as a Junior Soldier (the young people’s commitment) and, later on, a senior solider.  We also moved a lot, which was par for the course, and it led to many fantastic experiences such as living in Prague in the Czech Republic.  That’s definitely something I wouldn’t change for the world!

Don’t laugh…it was for an article and the photographer got me to pose! 🙂

Eventually, as these things happen, I was old enough to go to uni and my parents were moving onto their next posting.  Needless to say, I stayed behind, going to the local Salvation Army church.  That’s where our little journey begins.

Despite a few problems early on – being the pastor’s kid can present those kinds of challenges, as some people will dislike you simply because of who your parents are, others will think you know everything about the inner workings for the same reason and there are a few other reasons too – I settled into the part that I was to play.  A member of the brass band and the songsters (church choir, in a nutshell) as well as the worship team and youth team.  Later, I became deputy bandmaster for the brass band.  I took on the leadership of the worship team.  Also, I started leading my own groups in the Sunday School.

So what, you ask, went wrong?

My Mental Breakdown

Fast forward to around August 2016, when I had my breakdown with depression and anxiety.  I was under extreme pressure at work due to the number of calls I’d take working for the bank, how I was only a temporary worker and able to be let go at any given time (something that seemed held over our heads when it suited) and pressured into being at work and not being off sick.  We know how work turned out for me, but what about my church life?

I was under a lot of pressure there too.  Being a member of the different groups in the church was alright, I could cope with the responsibilities, but the leadership I was under became an issue.  Doing my best, then being told that I was doing things wrong but being given no guidance on how I was meant to do it…it led to problems.  Especially as my depression and anxiety started creeping up, I started to feel as though I couldn’t take a step without getting it wrong.  Quite rapidly – and rather shockingly – my church life, which had been a rock and a constant in my life for nearly a decade, was becoming very similar to that terrible workplace.

Having depression and anxiety is crippling and I’m unashamed to admit it got the better of me.  Exhausted, drained of almost all energy, I found that I was having to make choices.  Did I go to things like band practice, church, social gatherings or did I conserve my energy to get myself out the door for work, my only source of income and supporting myself?  I think we both know which I picked.  Unfortunately, not everyone saw it that way.  Apparently I was choosing to let my depression and anxiety beat me, choosing to let it keep me inside.  While that was right on a fundamental level, the truth was much more complicated than that.

One By One…

Aside from that one comment, at first everyone was supportive.  They tried to keep in touch, reminded me that I was missed, telling me that I was remembered in thoughts and prayers.  Then, as it became more apparent that my condition wasn’t improving at the pace they might have liked, they started to drop off the radar.  Encouraging messages and phone calls became fewer.  Visits that were barely in existence from the beginning also became fewer, bordering on the non-existent.

Add into this some of the people that I’d supported in that church, through difficult times, sometimes without getting anything in return, started disappearing off the radar as well…you can imagine how it must have felt.  All the while, the subtle voice of my Dark Passenger was whispering in my ear, telling me I didn’t matter.

After months of this – visits that never happened, messages that never came, people who were fair weather friends – I left.

The Battle Behind the Decision

I’ll be honest, people don’t understand this decision.  People tell me I didn’t give the church enough credit for what they did, that there were plenty of people trying to support me and that I ungratefully rejected it.  My take is that it was too little, too late.  Yes, there were those who were brilliant (and one who still is) but ultimately they let me down.  When they needed me, they were quick enough to come running.  When I needed them?  That was a different story.

The decision nearly tore me in two.  Part of me wanted to stay because of how long I’d been attending, how much I’d invested in it and the few people there who I still thought of as friend.  The other part…was still reeling from the hurt of what had happened.  Being abandoned in my time of need, being told I was choosing not to be there and being told I was rejecting offers of help…you can imagine.

Ultimately, I decided it was time to leave that part of my life behind me.  Trying to maintain it was only causing more hurt, the reminders of what had happened acting like mental scars.  For the sake of my mental health, for the sake of my recovery, I decided I had to leave the toxic part of my life behind me.

It was the only way.

What Came Next…

After making that decision, things have looked up.  I’ve joined a new church which is amazing.  There are two people in particular who are possibly the loveliest people that you could ever meet, who make sure they stay in touch and who are always on hand if you’ve got a problem.  It’s a beautiful little community of people and, more than that, it’s family.

I bear no ill will against the Salvation Army, for I still attend whenever I visit my parents and maintain a few friendships in the Army outside of that particular church.  As for the people of that church, I don’t hate them.  The only thing I feel, when I feel anything at all, is sadness.  Sadness that they didn’t realise what they were doing.  That even those who struggle with depression and anxiety and other mental illnesses didn’t know what to do to help me…or perhaps didn’t care enough to try.  Perhaps I’ll never know.

For the sake of my own mental health, though, I had to leave.

And that is the story of how I left my church.

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Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Episode 55 – Until That Moment

That One Moment In Time

No, this isn’t about Whitney Houston’s One Moment In Time, but there is definitely something to be learnt from that phrase.  We are a people that are quick to criticise, quick to judge and seldom provide the support that we should to those in need.  Let’s find out what we need to know!

Useful Links:
Aspects of Choice

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Become a Patron - Until That MomentDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Practical Tips for Mental Health

Being Practical

I don’t know about you, but I tend to forget things.  Ask Cheryl and she will tell you the same thing.  It can be hard to stay on top of things when struggling with mental health.  So, without further ado, here are some practical tips that I have to help you manage your day-to-day life!  With Christmas coming up, it could be very important!!

Useful Links:
A Very Mental Christmas
Practically Perfect

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Become a Patron - Practical Tips for Mental HealthDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Building Our Dreams Up

Dreams

Have you got a dream?  I don’t mean the sleepy kind but the dreams that are plans for your life.  Something that you want to achieve.  It might be a career goal, a desire for a particular house or car or other possession.  What is it?

Tara, writer of www.wegotreal.com, wrote out her list of 100 dreams to share with us.  Included in those were things like visiting South America or Europe or Asia; travel for a year with her family overseas; read 1-2 books a month; perform in a community theatre production and many more.  Perhaps some of these coincide with your own dreams.  Personally, I want a Lamborghini.  Preferably a Gallardo or a Huracán, but we shall see what happens, eh?

Building Dreams

So you might be thinking that dreams are a strange choice of topic for a mental health blog.  It certainly seemed quite strange for me, but there is logic to my madness.  It all started with a tweet.  As coincidence would have it, this tweet:

It’s good food for thought, isn’t it?  After all, how many people like this do we actually know?  If we’re being honest, we know quite a few, don’t we?  They spend a lot of time telling other people how to live their lives, what they should and shouldn’t be doing.  But are they actually living?

The stereotypical and most obvious example would be parents.  Some parents insist that their children follow a specific career or educational path.  They have to go to uni, they must train to be something majorly successful such as a doctor or a lawyer.  Anything else is substandard, not good enough.  Alternatively, they believe that their child should enter the family business.  It doesn’t matter whether or not the child wants to, that business has been in the family for years and the child should follow in their parents’ footsteps no matter what.

Does this sound familiar?

Living Our Lives

Now those examples I gave before are perhaps a minority case.  I don’t really know how many people actually tell their children what they should and shouldn’t do in terms of their dreams.  My parents were always good at letting me make my own mind up, decide for myself what I wanted to do.  Not everyone is like that, though.

How many people tell us how we should live our lives?  Be it simple things such as how we should manage our daily stresses or how we should raise our children, do our work, all sorts of things like that?  Worse, how many people try and crush our dreams, labelling them as insignificant, unobtainable or as just plain stupid?

A scarier question, though…is are we guilty of doing that?

That’s right, I asked if we – that includes me as well as you – are guilty of telling other people how to live their lives or belittling their dreams.  It’s not something we will want to admit to…but I can’t help but wonder whether or not we’ve done it.

In truth, though, I think we’re all a little guilty of getting so wrapped up in what we think we should do and what we think others should do that we don’t really live our lives.  We hold ourselves to the dreams and standards that others set for us and we don’t really do what we love.  It can be a daunting prospect, though, following those dreams.  But does that mean we shouldn’t do it?

Chasing the Dreams

So what do we do?  Instead of telling others how they should live their lives, holding them back from their dreams – whether that’s by trying to put them on a particular path or by saying things like “I don’t think that’s a good idea, how can you afford it?” etc – we should focus on our own dreams.

I’ll give you an example: this website.  When my mental health started to spiral and I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I felt a calling to start a mental health support website.  I knew that it was going to be difficult, as we have running costs and it takes time to create the content, but I felt it was something important to do.  As a result, I’m building my own business out of this, so that I can bring about the awareness that is needed for people struggling with mental health conditions while making a living at the same time.  After all, it’s what I love doing.  I love helping the people who come to us needing help, I love raising the awareness and changing the lives of people who know nothing or next to nothing about mental health.

But it comes with costs.

As a result, there are people out there who disapprove.  Some people believe I shouldn’t be trying to make money from this – even though it’s all through donations that people are willingly pledging.  I’m not making people pay me for what I do.  I give it away for free and accept donations and pledges of support from others.  Others believe I should be in a job that is more secure, that pays a flat or set rate.  The trouble with that is that it would stifle the website because I wouldn’t be able to put the work in that I do.

So what is the right way?

I firmly believe that this is what I am meant to be doing.  This is my calling, my dream, my one aim in life.  No matter what other people think, no matter what they say, it is my responsibility to chase my dream.  No one else can tell me what I should be doing with my life.  After all, it is my life and it is mine to live.

So chase those dreams!

Who knows where they will take you!

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Episode 54 – Worthy or Unworthy?

Are We Worthy?

It’s easy to belittle our worth and debate whether or not we are worthy of the good things that come our way.  We question our worth, we questions whether or not we deserve these things and I provide you with an answer to that today.  Why not join me?

Useful Links:
What You’re Worth

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Become a Patron - Worthy or Unworthy?Disclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

A Walk In Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves

It’s Autumn now and perhaps it’s time for us to step back, take a break and relax.  As I walked my little one to school this morning and then walked home again, I had the chance to reflect on this as I walked.  Do we stop and take a break?  Do we pause our busy lives?  Not always.  But we should!

Useful Links:
Successful Self-Care
Taking Time Out

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Become a Patron - A Walk In Autumn LeavesDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Don’t Tip the Scales

The Table Tip

It might seem like an odd title for a post, “Don’t Tip the Scales” but, as usual, there is logic to my madness (I know, I know…it’s scarce!)  Before I reveal that, though, I want you to think of the show Total Wipeout.  Do you remember that?  Based in Buenos Aires, Argentina and hosted by Richard Hammond, it was an obstacle course competition where contestants pitted themselves against each other to be crowned the Wipeout Champion.  They’d go through the qualifier, eliminating the out-of-shape or slowest of them.  Next came a second challenge designed to thin out the herd even more.  Then the last three would compete in the epic Wipeout Zone for the title of champion.

I loved it!

Seeing people fail…while it’s not necessarily a nice thing to enjoy, seeing people fall into the pools or muddy pits was actually really funny.  A bit like seeing those people take on Takeshi’s Castle or the American Ninja Warrior challenges.  There’s an odd kick that can be had out of seeing these people, so confident and full of that bravado, trying and failing to beat the course.

One part that I remember from Total Wipeout was the Tippy Table in the Dizzy Dummies run.  A large table that tipped steadily from side to side (at least as far as I remember it), making contestants slide into the pools at either side.  It’s that that I want you to picture.

The Total Wipeout Tippy Table

A Mental Health Tip

Just as the Tippy Table tipped contestants into the water, I find our mental health can tip us as well.  If you have depression and anxiety, as I do, then it’s possible for our mental health to tip like that Tippy Table.  Walking with depression and anxiety is like walking a knife’s edge because one false move or misstep and you’re over the edge.

What do I mean?  Well, I’d like to tell you a little story of something that I’ve experienced.  It’s one of the harder parts of walking with depression and anxiety.  I was sat in my old church in one of the services, participating as I normally would (I was in the brass band, the singing group and so on) and I suddenly felt my anxiety clawing at me.  Yes, I do actually mean clawing at me, because it felt like some ferocious beast trying to suffocate my heart.

I sat there as best I could, trying to fight the demon – yeah, I know, not very religious and holy to have a demon inside of me in church, but that’s how it felt at the time!  Unfortunately, all my best efforts failed and I ended up having to get up and remove myself from that situation.  I found a small, quiet room and barricaded myself in a little so that I could have a moment to attempt to recover.  Seemed like a good idea at the time, but it didn’t work.

In the end, I went home.  It was only a five minute walk, round the corner to the block of flats I lived in, but I thought the fresh air and the home environment would have done me some good.  Already, the anxiety was abating and my heart-rate was slowing back down to normal.  I bet you can’t guess what happened next…

Off the Knife-Edge

Imagine for a moment that you are walking on that balance bar.  Cheryl did one recently at Cattle Country when we went on holiday.  We’d stopped off to break up the journey and give the 4-year-old a little bit of respite from the car and Cheryl decided she was going to do the balance beam.  As her weight shifted, the beam went to turn one way so she compensated for it to right herself.  That compensation turned into overcompensation, however, and she fell off the other side instead.

Well, this is what happened to me.  In my attempts to push myself out of my anxiety attack, I pushed myself too far.  Instead of my mood and emotions rising and rising in the uncontrollable bouts of anxiety, they plummeted like a meteor crashing or a spaceship re-entering the atmosphere in free fall.

My mood crashed.

In a matter of half an hour, perhaps even less time, I went from being so anxious that I was bright red from additional blood flow, heart racing, unable to sit still and remain in the situation, to being at rock bottom.  I was feeling nothing.  It was as if I’d just completely severed any kind of emotional link in order to protect myself, much like an electrical device has a fuse to protect itself from too much electricity.

And so it was that I crashed.  Completely and utterly, back to “the cutting room floor”, so to speak.  Yes, I’m attempting to put a humorous spin on it, but that’s one way that I cope.  In pushing myself out of the anxiety attack, I’d sent myself head-first into a depressive spiral that sent me back to self-harm to cope.  It wasn’t something I’d have thought I’d go straight to, but it happened.

A Balancing Act

So, as you can see, having a mental illness is just like a balancing act.  You walk the knife’s edge, trying not to tip yourself one way or the other.  It’s a constant struggle between sink or swim, fight or flight, getting yourself where you need to be with the resources that you have.  If you wonder why someone with depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions is often tired…this is why.

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Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.