I have had depression and anxiety for a long time. My whole adult life I have been living with these illnesses with increasing ease. It isn’t necessarily that they have become less significant it’s more that I am better at understanding them.
I can predict a mood drop, I can anticipate a situation that will trigger me. I have been more stable in the last three years than at any other time I can remember.
Having a baby was a huge shock to the system and certainly got my anxiety into a less stable and manageable place, but I still survived it pretty well and learnt some new triggers and adapted quickly to the new ways my illnesses impact my life with an extra little person to think about.
I manage, is essentially what I am trying to say.
Which is why I thought that I would manage the move.
The Move has been planned for the past year, we have been expecting it, thinking about it, starting sentences with “when we have moved…” So, I thought I was preparing well for what I knew would be a very stressful time, full of triggers and potentially a crisis in my health.
I hate boxes. I need a safe space to retreat to. Our flat, that we have just left, was the safest home I have ever had. My parents were very close by, Mike was there – and no one understands my triggers like him! It was cosy and homely and safe.
Boxes stress me out. They get in the way of safety. They prevent homeliness and I need that for my sanity.
Then there is the new people that you have to meet in order to build community. They are scary and unknown.
Then there is being away from your community, the safe people who get the quirks and manifestations of the illness I live with.
Then there is having a young baby (who happens to be teething, in typically inconvenient timing) and needs so much love and attention you can’t really do anything else.
Then there is working out where everything should go, which is just a little more than my brain can handle.
Finally, there is the tiredness and irritability of having just moved that means short tempers and snippy arguments.
Essentially, all of this combined to put me in a state I had not anticipated or expected and one I haven’t experienced since Mike and I got together. For the first time since 2012 I seriously considered self harm. I chose the knife, but went to sit in a corner instead. I didn’t quite know what to do with myself. It is such a destructive way of thinking but so appealing when life just feels like it’s about to explode out of you with agonising force.
So, I sat in my corner and thought about why, and how and where and when. I realised it was a literal way of signalling to Mike that I wasn’t coping. That I couldn’t think or breathe or survive. So, I called him and he came and sat with me and we talked.
It scares me when my illnesses overwhelm me. When I am no longer ‘managing’ them as I would like. It is, however, a relief to know that I am safe enough to stop and talk to someone I know will support me, love me and hold me.
Not everyone has that person who is willing to learn and try to understand what, to them, seems so utterly irrational and foolish.
The stigma of mental health kills. It takes away people’s safety and hope. It makes a dark world pitch black and leads people away from safety towards the precipice.
This week, I am fragile and nervous. I am unsettled by the force of my illness overwhelming me. I am also safe though. And for that, I am immeasurably grateful. I hope that with more time, work and effort combined with asking people how they are doing, creating safe spaces and continuing to break down the walls that make us afraid to speak we will find that others are able to access the support I am so lucky to have.