Where, just where, has a whole year gone? A whole year to the day since I broke the silence, the stigma, about why I hadn’t been at work for 2 weeks in March 2015, and why I wasn’t at work then.
I had some overwhelmingly positive responses from so many people. I also had a handful of ignorant responses from people I once called friends; although really their ignorances had shown through long before. It’s still something I struggle to accept; I had these people at my wedding, I also suspect I spent far too much time with some of them at the wedding – my biggest, my only, regret.
It’s been a full year now since the fight against my own mental health left me so ill that I collapsed. One whole year. Seriously, where has that time gone?
Without a shadow of a doubt in my mind, I was forced out of my job, my career. I mark the collapse on the 2nd of October 2015 and eventual long period of being signed off as the final demise, but I guess Clarks had started to wear me down long before then; although I can’t pinpoint exactly when.
I wouldn’t go as far though, as to say Clarks started it. They just pulled the final trigger to tip me over the edge. This started a long, long time ago and has simply been building, hiding, shut down by the eager, vibrant social butterfly I once was for longer than I am probably even aware. Perhaps it was constructed within my DNA before I was even known about – who knows.
This anxiety, this depression, these suspected side effects/control methods of mine which include anorexia/orthorexia/compulsive exercise won’t ever leave me – I won’t ever be the Karen I once was. I won’t ever be able to always control this mental health illness either and on some days, weeks, months, maybe years even it will all creep out of the darkness it’s hiding in and hit me like a flash of lightening, a tsunami washing over me, crumbling me once more. Hell, there has even been occasions in the last few months that I have quietly managed to keep it to myself, where instead of going out for dinner/that BBQ/party/event I have simply, for no apparent reason, wanted to hide myself away from everything and everyone, cry, and shrink to nothingness.
I understand, at times, some of it. I understand the need to starve myself and literally run myself into the ground to be tiny – near invisible. To not look like the adult I now am. I understand that anxiety in relation to time passing too fast, and, despite having always wanted to “grow up”, marry and have children of our own; I never wanted to GROW up, and be an adult. Time, after all, is a villain and a thief [thankyou, Through The Looking Glass].
I still, however, struggle. Forming the words “depression” and “anorexia” and attempting to say them out loud are still an alien concept to me. They are still words I avoid saying out loud. They are still attached to stigma.
I have definitely digressed, again writing this over a few days, weeks even, as my “bit” towards 2016’s World Mental Health Day. I am, certainly, improved – better I suppose – both physically and mentally upon who I was this time last year, but I am still not there, I am still broken and I always will be. Never again will I be able to resume my old career, and work in a large company that doesn’t really care again; I will always remain thankful and grateful that I don’t have to put myself through that. But I am better. I judge others less, try to keep my “chimp” under control a little more (more to come on that later) – or at least understand it. I am not crying daily or having panic attacks every morning, noon and night. Generally, I sleep better. I have not collapsed – even from injections or bloods (& God knows I’ve been a pin cushion this last year!) since the New Year. I’d say the only thing I miss of the complete hell I was in is that I feel I wrote better, easier, in times of sheer distress. And seeing a therapist regularly is probably very good/supportive for me.
I like to remind everyone that no-ones life is the perfect it can appear to be on social media: and we all know I don’t hide that fact. I’m incredibly lucky and have a wonderful life – I’m still in Bali with my fab husband as I finish this, but I still have many difficult days – even whilst we’ve been here. I find myself at times describing myself using both past and present tenses, like a longing for who I was before all these breakdowns happened; “caught between two lives as though trying to piece myself back together” ~ I thought, at first, well over a year ago that I could bounce back. I hadn’t wanted to be signed off work for any longer than I was and I was eager to return; my GP not convinced and wanting to give me longer…in hindsight, he was right…. I still fight myself every waking moment of every day – sometimes even in my non-waking moments too, my mind toys with me! I often have no recollection of what has been reality and what has been a dream. There are still occasions I say something and then repeat myself minutes later having completely forgotten I’d said it. On holiday, I am reading books which I know I have read before; but I have absolutely zero recollection of what happens in them. I have huge chunks of my memory of my own life missing – and that can’t change, but things can help and contribute to making mental health illness easier, and I urge anyone to seek those out.