I have been fighting with myself about if I was going to write this or not. If you are reading this that means I wrote it and shared it.
First, I want to say that I will be talking about a serious mental breakdown and self-harm. If you find either of those triggering, please stop reading this blog post. AND know that I am okay, and I will not be offended if you stop reading it.
Pandemic life…we have been living this way for over a year. 12+ months of social distancing, masks, isolation, stay at home orders, hand sanitizer and no hugging. As someone who lives with a severe anxiety disorder, it can take a lot to get me out of the house some days. When my anxiety is bad, I don’t want to leave my comfort zone, I want to stay in a safe cozy quiet space. COVID has set me back after all the work I have done when it comes to leaving the house. My anxiety has been thriving off staying at home and social distancing. My Mom has been battling breast cancer since September, so we have been taking extra precautions because of her compromised immune system.
I’ve learned to notice and acknowledge the signs of when things are getting bad mentally for myself. I’ve felt it building, slowly piling up over the past 2 months. Secretly, I’ve known what was coming, but pushing it off to the side. Telling myself I will deal with it tomorrow. Well guess what Hilary, things don’t work out like that.
Late one evening last week, I broke. Completely broke down. Sobbing uncontrollably for 2 hours. At first, I could hide it, and just sat in my room and cried. But then my anxiety took over, and I let it all out. I haven’t had an episode like this in years…probably since 2016. Sobbing, on my Mom’s lap, trying to breathe and talk while tears are pouring out. I honestly felt broken. And then these thoughts started coming into my mind…ideas to hurt myself. I felt so out of control I needed to do something that I could control. I haven’t had self-harm ideas since high school, which was about 11 years ago. I didn’t want to die, but I wanted to hurt. I wanted my mind to concentrate on something else, pain. I was tired of my anxiety taking over. I’ve had my far share of accidents and can be a little clumsy at times…falling down the stairs and bruising my tailbone twice (I rarely wear socks at home as we have hardwood floors OR I have those socks with the grippy things on the bottom). And there I sat wishing that would happen to me that night. I wished I would fall down the stairs to feel pain. I have a bad left ankle, sprained it too many times and now it doesn’t take much to roll over on it. And there I sat wishing I could just roll my ankle at that exact moment. They were scary thoughts, and I rarely have them. Everything was spiraling out of control that night. But I did something proactive, something safe, something good. I told my Mom about these thoughts…or I tried to. In between sobs and trying to catch my breath. She sat there and listened to me, she asked me if I was going to do any of those things, and I said no and I meant it. I didn’t want to hurt myself; it was more of a complete shock that these thoughts came in. She got me somewhat calmed down, made me a cup of tea, helped me get comfy in bed, and I put my headphones on and listened to music. My medication was finally starting to work, and my heart rate was returning to normal. She came into my room and checked on me every 30 – 45 minutes. Well, that night, after that episode I had, I didn’t sleep. I watched my ceiling fan spin, I read, I listen to music, I watched TV. My eye lids were so swollen and puffy, I had a cold washcloth on them throughout the night. I got a little over an hour of sleep before I was up having another anxiety attack. It took everything I had to get up and go to my Mom. My head was spinning, I couldn’t see because my eyelids were so swollen, and I was sobbing again. I needed to feel safe. I needed reassurance. My Mom got me back into my room and let me cry it out. I needed to get it all out of my system. I apologized for being this way, for having anxiety and depression and she held me and told me I am so much more than my diagnosis. Just like her fighting breast cancer, and not giving up. I needed to fight my anxiety and depression, and not give up. I asked her why people always leave me. I asked her why I feel so alone. At this point my eyes were almost swollen shut, I was so dehydrated and exhausted. It took a little while but once again I calmed down. I thankfully had no thoughts like the night before. My entire body ached, and my muscles were sore. The crying, shaking, and rocking that happens when I have an anxiety attack is enough to debilitate me for a couple days. I couldn’t remember the last time I had an attack THAT bad.
This attack happened Sunday night into Monday. And I didn’t feel like myself until Wednesday. It is kind of like a hangover, minus the alcohol part. It can take days, or even weeks to recover and that’s what people don’t realize. Anxiety can put my mind and body through hell, and I have to recover from that fight
As of late, more and more young people around my age are dying by suicide. And it simply breaks my heart. We need to talk about it more, we need to talk about mental health, mental illness and suicide. I am 28 years old, and I cannot begin to describe to you the stigmas, the hush hush, the keep it a secret that revolves around mental illness and mental health. I am doing what I can to break down those stigmas and to talk about it.
I guess what I am trying to say is that it is okay to struggle. It is okay to not feel like yourself. But don’t let yourself get stuck there. Find 1 reason to fight. Take it minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day when you need to. I am sharing this specific struggle with you because I know there are a lot of people struggling in silence. And if you want to be a good friend, please respond to someone if they tell you that they are struggling. Even if you don’t know what to say, tell them that. A response like that is better than no response at all. I went through that recently, allowed myself to be vulnerable only to have the person not respond.
Please know that I am safe, and doing much better.
Thank you for reading.