Sunday, 23 April 2017

From you to you


This post will have references to anxiety, insomnia and depression - a trigger warning there if you need it.

This is one of those posts I've been wanting to write for a while but I haven't known quite how to approach it. I've been getting back into the world of snailmail, writing letters at least twice a week and sending them out like little boats onto the postal sea. There is one particular letter I've been thinking of writing for a while now - and it's one that won't need a stamp. It's one that won't even be seen by anyone else. It will be a letter from me to me.

Specifically, a letter written by the me of today to a potential me of the future. A potential me who may find herself struggling with mental health and feeling like she is approaching the bottom of the pit - or has got stuck there.

My second experience of anxiety and depression was far harder for me to deal with than my first. To have that kind of episode, lasting 4+ weeks, the once is okay. Everyone has bad moments. You can justify one fall. A second episode? Now that's a whole different ballgame. As I began descending that second time, about 18 months after the first, the phrase that kept revolving round and round in my head was this:
Once is a mistake. Twice is a habit.

I felt there would be no understanding for a second fall. I could be permitted to let my duties and responsibilities lapse once - no more though. More would mean something else entirely. More would mean I was failing those around me on a far greater level, and that it was something I couldn't guarantee wouldn't happen again in the future.

I don't want to go into to much depth about my episodes as even writing this is difficult, but as I approach the second year anniversary on my last episode I have felt myself wanting to write to that person I become when anxiety and depression rob me of sleep and all self-worth so that if it does happen again my voice is there, waiting, offering what comfort it can.

What would I say?

You are going to get through this. You have got through it twice before, you will get through it again.

Be patient. Be kind to yourself. Do not judge. Let go of the reins. It's fine to let someone else be in charge.

You are going to get through this.

Send no texts, steer clear of social media - the urge will be to contact your friends in a desperate search for answers, hoping that one of them will send you words that make the world fall back into place around you and restore order. That is not going to happen and it is a heavy and impossible burden to place on your friends and on yourself.

Seek no big answers. This is not the time for big questions. Focus on the small things. If you can focus on nothing else, just focus on your breath.

You will get through this.

Look for colour. Keep your hands busy. Give yourself things to do. If it gets so bad that you feel your whole body is going to shake itself to pieces and you are going to break inside this sleep-starved shell, take it one minute at a time. One. Minute. At. A. Time.

Breathe. Just Breathe.

And did I mention? You will get through this.

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