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About illness, Mental health

It took me quite a long time to realise that most people don’t wake up every day thinking: “I want to die.”

I do. I have had depression and anxiety for so long, that thinking that is my normal. It doesn’t feel weird to me. It’s not unusual for me to walk down the street, and think about stepping out in front of a car. It’s not unusual for me to buy razor blades to keep in my bedside table, just in case.

I know that, for many people, this is probably hard to read. It’s hard to understand.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had good times. Most of the time, I cope. I don’t hurt myself. I live what’s considered a normal life.

But since I got sick, maintaining that has become harder and harder. I tried to stay positive, even though I felt like everything had been taken away from me. I felt like I was slowly wasting away, becoming less and less of a person. I stopped eating. I stopped sleeping. I stopped believing I would get better. But I pretended to everyone around me that I was fine.

Have you ever drunk instant coffee with soy milk? The milk and the coffee don’t bind, the milk stays separate in bubbles and if you hit the side of the mug, they spin and boil. That’s how I felt this week. Someone hit the side of my mug, and I just couldn’t keep it together any more. Everything in me separated.

Though I had told my doctor that I wasn’t sleeping and that I felt depressed, and he had put me on antidepressants, it took me walking into his office and saying “I want to die” to get some real help and recognition. I don’t blame him for this. I am extremely good at acting. My own family thought I was ok.

While I sat, silently crying, rocking back and forth, my doctor called the Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team (CATT) at the hospital. They have a record of me, not only my current illness, but also my previous self harm, so they responded well. A woman from the mental health community service, Nicola, called me that night. I had the option of being admitted, but I decided to stay home, because I knew they wouldn’t let me self harm, which is a vital coping mechanism for me.

Nicola came and got me the next morning, and took me in for an assessment. This lead to me being seen by a psychiatrist, which is good because I’ve never had one before. She talked to me about my history of abuse and depression, and my current state. She prescribed me quetiapine along with my antidepressants, to help my anxiety and get me to sleep. They allowed me to go home as long as I will see a psychologist, so I’m on a waiting list. It could take 3-4 weeks.

I took the quetiapine last night and promptly had a panic attack because I’m nearly always convinced that I’m having an allergic reaction to medication, but really it’s just my anxiety causing my throat to close over. It sent me to sleep but only for three hours. I woke up and thought “I want to die” like I usually do, and then I felt bad for thinking that. I stupidly hoped that, because I had finally reached out for help, I would feel immediately better. Of course, I don’t.

I feel lost. I feel like I’m in a black hole. I feel like the things that were holding me together, that made up my identity – my work, my plans, my social life – are all gone. I’ve lost everything because I’m too ill to cope with anything. I’m feeling very sick writing this, but I have to, because I can’t lose my writing too. It’s all I’ve got.

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About writehandedgirl

Sarah is a writer who is passionate about social justice, feminism, politics, and cats. She is a columnist and poet and currently lives in Nelson. You can follow Sarah on Twitter (@_writehanded_) or read more of her writing at writehanded.org

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