I have been unwell. I have tried desperately to deny its existence and to push it away, I have tried to do all the things I usually do to lift myself out of it but I am struggling and have reached the point once more of having to embrace it, bring it close and examine it. Look it in the eye and say ‘I will not let you crush me’.
Since New Year I have had waves of crippling anxiety, the sort that burrows deep into your bones, into the centre of your heart and convinces you that you are unworthy, unlovable. You are merely being tolerated by those around you but secretly they all know the unpalatable truth that you are a thoroughly bad egg. Social interaction has been torture, causing me to hide, trying to act normal whilst inside I am feeling a fear and panic causing my heart to race. I have been irritable, anxious, teary and unable to concentrate.
This time, just for added giggles, the anxiety has been tag teaming with bouts of depression, like Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy, a black cloud of doom sitting above my head in the morning. The cloud fogs my thinking and plans, nothing will work out or be enjoyable and that’s if I can manage to shift myself from my bed in the first place. Thankfully the blackness has been sporadic and brief when it appears but enough for me to know the anxiety is at its worst.
Last week I couldn’t face my weekend job in the Tool Shop. I arrived barely on time, having dragged myself from my bed in tears but after an hour and a half I had to leave, panic arising and fleeing the scene. I had to explain to my boss the next day that I was suffering from anxiety and depression, that I had suffered a panic attack on Friday night that had left me dazed and confused the next morning. The shame I felt was immense, but it was a relief to just be honest.
I feel like I have been trying to get to a place for so long, a place where I have been before, a place where I know I am in control and feel more happiness than present. This place exists, I have been there, spent many enjoyable days, weeks and months there, but somehow no matter whet I do to reach it all roads lead to Macclesfield* I have been battling with my eating and have put of a stone over the last six months, sugar free living is proving harder and harder to maintain and my exercise has stopped. I have tried to regain control and have begun walking again but I am so far not feeling the benefits. The frustration I feel is huge, the guilt that my parenting is substandard, the fear that I am pushing friends away and there starts the perpetual cycle of beating myself up and fueling the anxiety.
So here’s the thing.
I either continue doing all the things I am doing and getting nowhere fast, continue sitting in the Little Chef* on the outskirts of Macclesfield or I start taking a different route.
I have identified that my weekend job in the Tool Shop is not working out. Looking back it has been a brilliant introduction back into work after ten years away. A local job which has really helped the transition through the divorce. However now I am missing the children too much and my ex husband would like his weekends back too. I need to change the job to a permanent weekday one in order to achieve a better balance to my life, pay bills and give me longer term security. I have also found working in a hostile environment probably hasn’t helped my self esteem. So I am looking to change again and I think this realisation is the cause of my current unwellness. I have had to change and adapt so much in the past two years I am left resisting the process once more, I tried to bury my head in the sand and carry on whilst knowing deep down I had to take action. The hairdressing is going well but only when I am well enough to handle it, the stress I feel with strangers is again not helping with my self esteem, after a year of training I am not going to give up and will continue to build on the success I have so far achieved, I just need to re-imagine my plans a little.
I am missing art. I need top make art to live and be happy, I need to make.
So I am once more reminded I need to embrace…this is who I am. Its not going anywhere, I will not wake up one day and be someone who is free from anxiety and depression. These aspects of me are woven through my fabric, my brain is wired to cope this way. I can learn all the skills I like, the techniques to keep me from tablets and out of hospital but they won’t stop me from feeling as acutely as I do, with the intensity that I do. It is who I am.
Suck it up Watson, you can run you can hide but this is it. Live it and get through it to the other side where you know what awaits. You know, because you’ve been there, lived there, happily. I must have hope, courage and self love, I must not tell myself I am failing but I am in fact fighting with everything I have, a daily battle that is unseen to the outside world. There is a flaw in my chemistry and not in my personality, I am doing the best I can with what I have and I am enough.
*My apologies to Macclesfield and its residents, I am sure its lovely. I have only visited once and will never return as it was the location my brothers suicide inquest and holds deeply unpleasant memories. I merely choose it as a personal reference point to indicate a place I do not wish to be.
*I’m also not entirely sure there is a Little Chef on the outskirts but yet again I have used it as a motif.