“Sometimes I feel like I’m just waiting around to die. Like I’m not a full person and never will be. Relationships with the people around me are disintegrating because I’m shoving them off. I’m scared to go to sleep, but I know I need sleep, because if I don’t get enough my emotions are heightened the next day. I know that’s average for people but it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. I have trouble going to sleep because intrusive thoughts make me try to imagine what it would feel like to be run over by a train or eaten alive. I think monsters are going to jump on my bed and curl up beside me while I’m trying to sleep. I’m scared to close my eyes because it’s lonely and dark and filled with unwelcome sensations of my heart pounding and limbs tingling and my mind somehow drawing the conclusion that I’m going to die in my sleep. And then I can practically feel my organs shutting down. And then I don’t want to wake up. I don’t want to wake up because most of the time I’m not me; I’m not in my house; I’m not anyone I know. I have no feelings except extreme peace and complete ignorance for about 10 seconds because my mind is literally not there, and then I come to my senses and I remember who and where I am and a wall of anxiety hits. It’s so scary.”
This was part of a journal entry I wrote sometime in the fall or winter of 2017. Here’s one I wrote the day after.
“I’m happy. At least I think I am? Maybe I’m so anxious that I’m interpreting it as happy. I’m also super tired. Maybe that’s why I’m happy? Like the giddy stage of tired? But I’m also irritable. And occasionally I’ll feel anxious along with all of these. I slept fairly well last night. Around 7 hours. So there’s no reason for my emotions to overreact. I don’t know why this is happening. I feel like laughing and crying at the same time.”
These entries were my mind a good 80% of the time over the course of at least two(?) years. I have trouble remembering anything before then/my sense of time is super messed up so I can’t give an exact number. Times were extrordinarily dark, but I won’t be going into detail because it’s so personal and honestly plain scary. So just trust me. My anxiety rose to 100% over the summer of 2017. I was basically bedridden for two months because I couldn’t handle any extra stimuli. I ate ginger chews to curb nausea, crackers so I didn’t get sick from not being able to eat, and drank juice and water for hydration. Literally the bare minimum because I would gag when I had to smell or chew food. I couldn’t handle any of the five senses except touch. My mental health was taking over my life.
Even before then my grades were plunging along with my social life and personal views/goals. I couldn’t talk on the phone at all. I couldn’t go out to eat with my friends after church or with my parents for their birthdays. I couldn’t go to people’s houses or have them over. It was the lowest I had ever been. I. missed. so. much. And if you were to ask the old me, the one existing around 6 months ago, I would have been completely ashamed to tell you this story. It would have intensified feelings of weakness, hopelessness, and disgust in my already-overflowing cup of negative emotions. That thing seriously felt like what Niagara Falls looks like. Crazy stuff. I asked for professional help way after I should have (better late than never), which took serious guts, and didn’t receive it until many months after. That gave me this weird feeling of not trusting myself, which probably made matters worse. I felt silently pressured to try pushing through like it was nothing and continue “praying it away” and being silent in fear of freaking people out, sharing too much, and being told it wasn’t really a big deal. Now I’m almost one year into therapy, and while other factors provided relief along the way, I can say with confidence that I am not that same person. And it is empowering.
The human mind, aside from its wonderful abilities, is a persuasive little beast capable of forming destructive and simultaneously irresistible thought patterns. Fortunately, it is not invincible. I expected the state of my mental health to be irreversible. More often than not I felt escorted by empty hope and mocked by people who were getting on with their lives while I was stuck trying to deal with my past, present, and future in what seemed like a never-ending cycle. Actually, I still feel like that. I’m not completely over everything. It’s just that immense amounts of anxiety, depression, and all the other mood stuff that was happening no longer accompany me on the regular. I have actual hope. So far, this time in my life stands unbeatable in terms of bad situations, but it continues to teach me a lot about myself, the human body, and those around me. It opened my eyes to the importance of feeling emotions when they’re necessary–no matter how unwanted. It showed me what it looks like to take care of myself. It’s helped me connect with other people going through the same things. It revealed just how much fight every single person has in themselves, but also demonstrated that you absolutely cannot do everything alone. It instilled a fire in me that I’ve never felt before. I want to help people find life. I want to live. I want to conquer whatever comes my way because I don’t see my mind as a huge threat to my body and spirit. It’s a wonderful thing to feel free from yourself, friends. By no means is it impossible to reach a point that feels currently unobtainable, and that is a personal revelation I will declare until I’m old and grey and the only other things I have to offer are chocolate pies, knitted blankets, and a whole lotta love. Weakness is okay; giving up isn’t. Remember that.