These whispers become echoes
Heartbeats thunder abruptly
The compression on my chest
My rib cage spasms bluntly.
I am under attack!
These walls are closing in
My cage door now sealed
Inner terror to begin.
These thoughts they dance
Irritational to the core
Might I run away
How do I unlock this door?
The frost bite of my eyes
Pale face and red blush
Survival of this moment
On fire, she is to touch.
I howl for oxygen
Adrenaline vs gravity
He catches me before I crash
Safe in the benzos I find clarity.
They call this anxiety
But at the moment it is dread
I swear it felt so feel
Turns out it was all in my head.
” When you look in the mirror, who do you see? Is it a stranger or is it me?”
As I am replying back to my lovely comments and giving words of comfort to others I wonder why am I not kind to myself? I need a taste of my own medicine. I tell others that “it’s OK” and “don’t beat yourself up” and yet I am so unfair to myself! I am my biggest critic. Everyone tells me that I should love myself but I can’t. I have all of the confidence in the world but no self-esteem. I have self-worth but no love for who I am. When you’ve been constantly put down you start to believe it. I feel proud of myself for how far I’ve come but yet a failure. All I want to do is love and look after others. That is when I like myself the most- when I’m Nurse Amy.
Although I write about my own experience of mental illness online every day, it is something I rarely speak about with people in real life- especially people who are new to me. I am terrified that when I admit the words “I have a mental illness” a group of angry villagers is going to grab their pitch forks and chase me!
I recently met my new partner’s parents for the first time. I was anxious that they would judge me. But I took the plunge and opened up about my experience of mental illness and how it drives me to help others. I spoke openly about how blogging has changed my life and has helped me to do decide to start a psychology degree. Instead of them judging me they were kind and interested. They were impressed by my passion for helping others. I honestly was so frightened that they would think I’m a weirdo and not good enough- what I had been labeled before. Their reaction has encouraged me to be myself and open.
It is sad that something that is a big part of our lives is ingrained in us to be shameful. The only way that we can stop this “sin” of feeling is by talking more about mental health. My life quote is “those who mind don’t matter, those who matter don’t mind”.
I’ve just come off Quetiapine (Seroquel) and started on Aripiprazole (Abilify). Coming off Quetiapine was really tough and I am very proud of myself. I reduced my dosage slowly from 375mg to 25mg. It took a year to get down to a comfortable 175mg, which I stayed at for 6 months, and then reduced again over a month. The withdrawal was awful and my self-harm had escalated. I had been on it for four years. I put on three stonwhen I was on Quetiapine. It had come to a point where it was ruining my life and the bad symptoms didn’t outweigh the good. I had an unsatisfied hunger, sweated constantly, had bad dreams, and walked around off my face as a zombie. I was sleeping 12+ hours and had no life. The doctor started me on Aripiprazole as an alternative. Aripiprazole is for those who suffer bad side effects from Quetiapine and other antipsychotics. Perhaps it is too soon to have a reaction- but I am very sensitive to medication- and have seen a change in myself already. I have managed to keep the stone I lost off and have a lot more energy. My moods are more stable and I don’t feel groggy. I was tested badly yesterday and wanted to self-harm but I felt calm. I didn’t even take a Lorazepam! I’m really chuffed. The only bad symptom is insomnia. It is awful. I am sleeping about 4 hours at night. I feel exhausted when it comes to the afternoon and attempt to have a nap but fail miserably. I can’t seem to get the right balance on this medication! It is nice to have my life back, not sleeping as much means I can get things done! I will let you know how I get on after a month.
You say the world isn’t black and white
There are hints of grey
I do my best to understand
But I’ve always seen life this way.
I’m good at putting things in a box
I swear that I am cured!
I don’t need the medicine
The therapy is just a chore.
Then I come crashing down
It’s not simple as shedding a tear
I’m terrified I’ll be left alone
It’s the main thing I fear.
I do not have the filter
That you normal people have
I feel things more, things hurt more
Everything either good or bad.
I’m not moody,
I’m just a sensitive soul
I can cope in unhealthy ways
When my self-hatred takes its toll.
They name me “Borderline”
Does that mean I’m sat on the fence?
I wonder who I really am
But my soul is not that dense.
The book says it’s my personality
I’m selfish and broken
But I am a good person
Listen to the patient- doctors are outspoken.
It’s only now that I’ve grown up and seen the world through my own eyes, that I have learnt that each human being is unique. I used to hear two voices and they were my perception of the world. I was consumed in my own bubble: “Me vs World”. People outside of that bubble were evil. Now that I have broken through the blanket of mental illness and stopped pointing the finger I feel free. I wasn’t a nice person before. I was selfish. When I started nursing it introduced me to diversity. People of different religions and cultures that I judged before, I learnt were beautiful individuals. I loved hearing their stories of their home countries and travels. I remember one African nurse who called me “daughter” and took me under her wing. She was an experienced, kind, and feisty sister who treated her team like a family. She spoke for me when I didn’t have a voice. I also remember another nurse who was a Muslim from Afghanistan. She would keep food behind for staff and make sure we had all eaten.
I couldn’t go around judging my patients. I didn’t care what they looked like- I was there to help them get better and look after them. This non-judgemental approach is now engrained in my soul. It is hard because in society we judge others- we are afraid of what we don’t understand.
I was assaulted by an African man years ago- I thought they were all the same. Then an African man offered to pay for my prescription when I had no money. He was so warm and kind. That experience made me cry with gratitude so much. I wrote a post about it. It opened my eyes and made me realise that we are all different. We need to look after each other.
I always have mindfulness grilled into me from mental health care professionals. If you are stubborn, like me, you will know that when someone tells you to do something you don’t want to do it. I attempted to practice mindfulness before in group therapy and hated every minute of it. How could I stop to focus on my breathing whilst my mind was racing with a thousand thoughts?! Recently I have gone about mindfulness in my own way. This time I am in control and I can use it in the aspects of life I want. Having anxiety mixed in with depression means that even making myself lunch can be a chore that takes hours. I have been using mindfulness and breaking down how I make myself something to eat. I start by making myself a cup of tea and only focus on doing that. I just stand there and wait for the kettle to boil. It sounds silly; because when you are anxious you are in a rush all the time, but I focus on doing that one thing. I then go on and make myself a sandwich. I also find it helpful to make my bed whenever I wake up. If I make my bed nicely it stops me from feeling depressed and wanting to crawl back into it. If I have things I need to do, I try to make a list in my mind or write it down. I try to focus on doing one thing at a time. I have also found it helpful to put things away when I am finished with them so it is out of my mind. This could be something as simple as putting away my laptop when my emails are done- even if I need to get my laptop out again later. With anxiety, you are always rushing. I have told myself to relax and take my time when doing things. Even brushing my teeth is rushed, but I close my eyes and try to focus on the sensation of brushing and not focusing on having to floss next. I have found that by taking my time to do things it can take a little longer, but I am relaxed and doing things properly the first time round, so I don’t have to go back to them later. I get very stressed about the things I have to do, I forget how to look after myself. I have been forcing myself to eat and shower. I tell myself to stop, eat and everything can wait. If you have social anxiety like me, going outside can be stressful. I find food shopping terrifying. I have been practicing mindfulness when going outside. I make a list of what I need to buy and work my way around the shop one bit at a time. I also remind myself that I am safe and I can be home soon. I have found that not doing everything in chunks has helped. Coming home from shopping I don’t put my things away straight away. I force myself to sit down, relax, and come back to it later. I have found that by breaking things down it is helping my anxiety. I am yet to try and use mindfulness when I am having a panic attack- I don’t think I am ready yet. I’m coming off Seroquel (Quetiapine) and starting on Abilify (Aripiprazole) tomorrow to level out my Bipolar/ Borderline mood swings- I will let you know how I can get on. Take your time to do things you need to achieve today- you are doing well.
I have been very depressed lately and started thinking about the little things that make my life happy:
My little hamster looking up from her cage and always wondering where I am
Knowing the two most precious things in the world to me are safe and looking after each other (yes Daddy I mean you)
Hearing my mum’s accent getting more “Laaannndonnnn” as she gets older
Seeing my friend smile when she tells me about the amazing things she has achieved at work
When my darling Henry is relaxed and unleashes his school boy charm
My best friend Noel and his bluntness of life always makes me laugh
Having my fan on at night (I love the sound)
Talking to God
Being watched by foxes and deer
My washing machine
Checking my blog and receiving lovely, uplifting comments that keep me going
Hope for the future- I will never accept today is forever
Dettol antibacterial wipes
Vintage shopping and buying crap I don’t need
The strength I have within me which comes out of nowhere
Clean bed sheets and towels
Hearing the amazing things my baby brother has achieved
I have a big heart and always love hard
Rest little rabbit
Deep inside your hole
Escape your tears
Unburden your soul.
They are nasty, crafty
They’ve broken you down
Your world is collapsing
It is no longer round.
You must eat something rabbit-
A carrot or two
You don’t want to feed this body
When it doesn’t feel part of you.
You burn your bridges
Before they are built
For you know they will come crashing
From loathing and guilt
You’ve become a ghost
Pray you stay invisible
It’s exhausting using your tiny voice
A few moments invincible.
Rest little rabbit, it’s ok to escape
You will rise again soon
Lioness will take your shape.