My chest aches. This physiological response to anxiety and panic is now becoming more than I can endure and the pain is too much, both mentally and physically. I cannot put my finger on what I am panicking about in this particular instance, perhaps it is a culmination of everything that has happened because all I see when I close my eyes is a chaotic blur of all the separate destructive instances that have led to where I am now, but I can tell you how I feel. My throat has closed up, breathing is hard, my chest is being squeezed by a giant fist. My eyes are so full of tears I can barely see the screen, my heart feels like it is actually broken and my stomach feels punched. The space where my essence once was is now so scarred and ripped to pieces that there is no putting it back and the spark I once had is gone. I feel scared, isolated and way too damaged to fix in any way that can function. I am writing this to put off doing something else, something which I don’t feel needs writing out. But I don’t know what will happen when I stop.
I have no doubt that anybody reading this who has seen my laugh, who has seen my jokes and humour, seen me write uplifting things like live in the now or smile because it releases happy endorphins will no doubt think this so at odds with that person. Sometimes I wonder how many people who seem so truly happy also hide this depth of sadness and emotional mayhem. It is so easy, especially behind a screen, to hide the darkness and pretend to be a warrior, a survivor. Social media provides not just a platform on which to share our thoughts, but one on which to be the person that hides deep inside that we cannot seem to find anymore in real life. The person you have seen wasn’t a lie; it’s the person I used to be before all of this began, and the person I lose every time I look away from my screen. But today I don’t believe I can even maintain that side of me anymore because I think it is finally broken and lost beyond repair.
I tweeted this morning about my drastically shifting emotional states. I veer from a state of intense euphoria, laughing and dancing, to this dark depression several times a day now, and I cannot find a way to make it stop. It is just getting worse, and more exhausting. Among the replies were urges that I see a doctor. Some of you know this, some of you don’t, but I have spent about 15 years now under the supervision of the mental health authority. I have seen countless psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists… I have been through a decade of being misdiagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, years of taking drugs like Lithium, Carbamazepine, Quetiapine, Depakote, Trazodone, and more. Throughout the years on drugs my brain used itself as a punching bag, disappearing into frequent psychotic episodes and destructive behavioural patterns on and on until suicide became the only rational option available to me. After ten years, a psychiatrist assessed me for a long time before coming to the conclusion that these psychotic episodes were not symptoms at all but side effects of the drugs, which were the wrong drugs for me, because I did not have Bipolar Disorder at all but rather Borderline Personality Disorder and that this very reaction to drugs was further evidence of this error in diagnosis.
To this day I am unsure how that alone did not push me to quit. I lost a decade for nothing. I can remember looking out of the window at birds flying free in the sky and wanting to be one. The psychiatrist warned me that the withdrawal I was about to experience would be even more brutal than anything I had yet experienced but that they had to remove all the drugs immediately with no weaning off process for the sake of my safety. A part of me disappeared that day that has never come back, and now I don’t believe it ever will.
There is nothing more isolating than drug withdrawal. For six months the world made absolutely no sense, I rocked and pulled at my hair while screaming and crying and smacking my head in the hope of clarity but nothing made the scratching and clamp-like sensation inside my mind go away. Yes I had professional support. I often found myself sitting in A&E, again. I clung on because of the hope that on the other end of withdrawal the chaos would be over and I would have a chance at breathing, at stability. Yet here I am. That was four years ago. My psychiatrist ensures me that, despite there being no drugs I can take, the upshot of Borderline Personality Disorder is that, unlike Bipolar Disorder, the symptoms lessen with age, but I don’t think I will make it that far to find out. No, I don’t have those psychotic episodes anymore. But the emotional shifts sometimes on an hourly basis are becoming too brutal now. I cannot make sense of the world around me and no matter how much I try to focus on the now and stay positive and immerse myself in dance and sing and love… I just can’t do this anymore.
I am so lonely. Mental health issues create a very isolated place and I can’t remember the last time I was held or loved by someone. I admit my body and mind miss and crave it. The affection and the physical touch of someone who loves and cares about me for the person I am underneath all this madness and doesn’t leave me and blame me for it is so alien to me now. I won’t deny that when I first joined social media after three years of total emotional abandonment and retreat, I ran towards the first hints of being wanted in any way at all by people, I was so in need of love, something that now just adds to my current shame. In my desperation to be loved and wanted I have only let myself down further. I don’t even know who to say sorry to, them or me. Where was my self love? Where is it now, even though I stopped that behaviour a while ago, seeing it finally for what it was? I cannot be the only person who does this, and I try to forgive myself the way I would anyone else, but I can’t. Not today. I am too ashamed.
I don’t know what happens once I stop writing this and post it. Yes, I have been through therapy. Yes, I am under the supervision of the mental health authority. No, I cannot take any medication for this apart from the Valium that I am now horrifically addicted to. Yes, there are better days or hours, yes sometimes I feel like I can totally survive this and stay above the water. But not today. Today I feel like I have let myself down and my son down so much and failed so spectacularly as a human that everyone around me would simply be better off if I wasn’t here so I would be doing them all a service. I am an emotional train wreck, up one minute and crashing down the next, and have dragged people through this for long enough and felt this pain for long enough and my son deserves more stability than I am able to give him so at this point I feel like letting go while he is still young enough to flourish is my only option so that I might save him from this destruction. I don’t know how to live without hurting myself or others. I don’t know how to live. And I am unsure I want to anymore. But honestly I don’t know what happens next. I just want to fly away, like a bird. I have to go.