Monday 4 December 2017

where have you been?

• LOVELY PHOTOS BY Lauren Jayne Hall

The savvy among you may have noticed I haven't been here very regularly since the summer. I've wanted to explain why for a long time, but the words weren't there yet. Every time I sat down to write, it'd be a struggle, and I'd delete whatever I had written.

I guess now is the time.

It's no secret that I've struggled with depression & anxiety - I've mentioned it here and on my Instagram countless times. Sometimes, I think that I'm ok, that I'm over it, that I'm more thick-skinned and can deal with things better.

But things happen.

• Zara top (old) • ASOS skirt • Olivia Burton watch •

Over the summer, a family member was unwell, and we were worried it was something serious due to medical history. I don't think I talked about it much at the time, as it seemed silly to be worried about something that might not even be something, y'know. But that's kind of what anxiety is about - more often than not - worrying about what might happen.

I find that once I'm anxious about one thing, everything else gets harder to deal with.

Some people around me were struggling with some serious and scary mental health issues, I wasn't earning enough money, things were grinding me down.

Everything was starting to feel like too much to deal with.

I felt like I had to fix everyone, and at the same time be the perfect version of myself, and I couldn't do it.

After a while it became too difficult, and something just switched off. For weeks, I was crying every morning when I woke up, and the rest of the time I just felt nothing, numb. I felt like I couldn't cope with anything, so I pushed everything away and built a wall around myself as some kind of protection.

Depression is a very lonely disorder. You feel like no one will understand, no one can help, and you don't want anyone to see you in that state. Despite trying to open up to my boyfriend & my friends, I still felt like I was completely alone in it.

Everything in my life was overwhelming and I couldn't do it. Not existing was an appealing thought. (To clarify - I didn't want to kill myself, I just didn't want to exist. I just wanted to be erased completely.)

Luckily, the people in my life are incredibly supportive and just wanted to see me get better. The overwhelming steps to get things back on track were broken down into manageable tasks with some help, and I started to tackle them. I went to the doctor, and she gave me the information to refer myself for CBT.

I was told I may have to wait 8 weeks, but due to my circumstances (flexible schedule, not minding having a therapist who was still technically training) I only had to wait 2 or 3 weeks. As with everything else in my life, I felt pretty negative about it. I didn't think it would be the right treatment for me, I didn't think it would work, I didn't want to go. But I was there, I was desperate, and I thought I might as well try it.

Despite finding CBT really useful numerous times in the past, I really resisted it for a while. I didn't put much effort in. I wanted to keep my safety blanket of worry tightly wrapped around me, despite being told again and again that worrying isn't actually beneficial.

Even though we KNOW that worrying doesn't stop anything bad from happening, we are convinced that it somehow protects us, and to let that go is really hard, and really scary.

A few weeks in, as if by some kind of magic, I started to feel better. I had one week where I felt on top of the world! It felt amazing when someone asked how I was, to say, "good, thanks!" and it not to be a complete lie. I started actually doing things, and getting things done.

I did some work! I saw people! I could make conversation! I didn't utterly loathe myself every minute of every day!

Today I'm having a bad day, after feeling pretty good and making progress for a couple of weeks. Having gone through it all before, I'm well aware that recovery is not a straight line, but it's still so frustrating.

I don't want to wake up with that creeping sense of dread. I don't want to cry and not know why. I don't want to try and make myself better by going to the gym, only to have to leave because I feel so anxious and awful. I don't want to be sitting here thinking I'm disgusting, useless, stupid, and that I'm going to lose everyone I love.

I feel like I should be able to function properly by now, but that's the thing - depression & anxiety doesn't have boundaries like time, or age, or class, or gender. It takes you when it takes you, sometimes without any "good" reason.

I've made a cup of tea and crawled back into bed, still warm from when I left it, and finished writing this.

So that's where I've been. That's where I'm at - slowly getting better, with a couple of setbacks along the way.

Trying to remind myself that is completely normal. Trying to implement what CBT teaches me. Trying to remember that I can feel good again, and if you're going through something similar, you can too.

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  1. Lovely and raw of you to share your story, your honesty. I know only too well how hard it is to handle. I struggled with a deep depression for many years, so hold on and fight - because as you have experienced, you will have good days again. Many of them at some point <3

    I hope you have a lovely Christmas! (and that all your family members you mentioned are doing alright too)


  2. Such an honest, moving post. I've been struggling a lot myself with anxiety this last few months but I think having children who depend on me has stopped me from checking out completely. I've gone back to hypnotherapy though which has really helped but like you there have been some days where I've had unexpected bad days and they really throw me.

  3. "recovery is not a straight line", Totally KNOW how frustrating this is. Even when you are trying so hard it can all just feel like you've gone back to square one. Sending so much love. Your honesty will help in your recovery so much... so you're doing ACE in that respect.
    (also, these photos are AMAZING)

  4. I can totally relate to all of this - especially gym-induced anxiety! It's a difficult thing, to accept that depression is something we might not necessarily grow out of, but something with highs and lows. xx

  5. A very eloquently written post, I suffer mildly myself and i know how bad that can be so I can only imagine how difficult it can get. Glad to hear CBT has been working, that feeling of not wanting to let go of the comforting thing holding you back is so true and something I need to work on myself. Thank you for sharing! Charlotte x

  6. Well done for writing this post! I’m sorry you’ve been struggling, don’t underestimate how great it is you’ve made steps to get better. I too have been on a course of CBT and I appreciate how hard it is to push yourself out of that dark cavern that is anxiety and depression. In CBT it can be so scary to accept what your taught, that worrying isn’t going to prevent bad things, when you know it’s true but you just can quite let go of worry or pushing yourself to do something you are convinced you can not do (no matter how smalll that may be) it can feel like wading through treacle or like your not making enough progress. Anyone who has to deal with anxiety everyday knows how brave and strong you are, don’t forget that. Thank you for writing this post, I alway wish more people should talk about their experiences with mental health issues to help get rid of the taboo, but actually putting yourself out there when you’re already feeling so vulnerable is terrifying and you’ve don’t all us silent sufferers a massive favour by sharing. Keep it up, you can do it!

  7. Always here for you, as you are for me x

  8. I'm so glad I've found your blog and read this post! I completely understand you! I've been struggling with anxiety, depression and PTSD all my life! Last year my mom past away and it was very difficult for me as I don't have a close relationship with my father, thus I felt like I've lost the only parent in my life! Then I decided to quit my job as it was a very toxic and unfriendly environment. Consequently, my anxiety and depression got worse. There were times like you, I couldn't stop crying, couldn't breathe, couldn't speak to anybody! A year went by before I decided to start a blog, which helped me a lot. Now, there are only a few days every month when I feel more anxious, but I can handle it. That's the thing with anxiety - it won't go away, we just need to learn to handle it better and live it! I'm so happy that you've found some peace!

    You go, girl!

    x Mariya

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