Over the years I have become quite the master of hiding my struggles. I can stay up all night crying and cutting then go into work being the face of sunshine the next day. I can go out for dinner and be the life and soul of the party, but vomit in the bathroom in between courses. I can go on holiday and be the organiser and the leader and the one who is going to ensure the fun, but spend the whole time wishing I was at home in bed hiding from the world.
Every now and again though the carefully managed balance slips and I can’t control my depression/ED/anxiety enough to keep it hidden. It interferes with my public life and I can’t do anything about it. That happened today and I feel sick about it. It will probably seem really minor to most people but I have spent so long crafting a life where I look like I have my sh*t together that anything that jeopardises this petrifies me.
I was meant to visit a friend and her children today. It had been semi-planned for a while but the time hadn’t been confirmed. I texted in the morning to arrange a definite time but didn’t get a reply until 10 minutes before she was expecting to see me- except I needed to borrow a car and it takes 30 minutes to drive there. So I was already a bit panicky about being late as I knew the kids would be napping. But I said I would leave as soon as possible so I did. I then got to the motorway and it was barely moving. It took me 25 minutes to get the first exit after I joined and by that point I was uncontrollably crying for no real reason at all. I’ve just been really down the last while and I though that a trip home would help but it hadn’t and I’ve been kind of non stop crying for days now but mostly been able to pull it together by having a sob in the toilets or having a glass of wine (which is potentially coming a dangerous habit which deserves another post). I really wanted to get off at the first exit I came to but I talked myself into staying on, rolled down the windows and put the radio on and tried to talk myself into feeling calm. 15 mins later and having not moved an inch though I realised I was not going to be able to pull of a day of being sane. 10 minutes later I pulled off at the next exit and texted my friend to say I couldn’t make it. I was going to make up an excuse but I just though f**k it, why not be honest. So I told her I was in rough form and couldn’t handle the traffic and I know I’m a terrible friend but I hoped she understands. Her message in return was measured, I’m not sure how annoyed at me she is, but I really didn’t have any capacity to deal with it anyway. I pulled into a cul-de-sac and spent two hours crying over the fact that I was crying, then pulled myself together, went home, told my mum I had lovely time but needed a nap and then cried for another two hours in bed.
For the most part I can really hold things together and have got nearly as far in life as I wanted despite my mental health difficulties. But then days like today happen and I lose all sense of control and I wonder how I am ever going to live the rest of my life like this. I used to feel like this so much of the time, and I can understand again why I thought suicide was the only option. But then I got help and that along with medication helped and I thought things would be okay. But now I’m back feeling this desperate DESPITE the help and medication and now I am having to fight constant thoughts of ‘ you have no options left now’.
It’s probably right that I don’t have other options. But I do have the choice to hang on. So that’s all I need to do right now, is hang on. For the next few hours until I can sleep, and the morning when I wake still being me, and the next day after that and after that. I just need to hang on. Darkness is always worst before the dawn.
If you’re just hanging in there too for now- you’re not alone. It will be okay. We just have to trust in that.