mental health//what i learnt in twenty-sixteen

Twenty-sixteen was a tricky year. In one hand it was really wonderful. On the other, it was the worst year for my mind. I spent the first few months of twenty-sixteen withdrawing from and then adjusting to new medication. I don't know if anyone has the same issues with medication as I do but here's the thing -- withdrawing from my medication was the hardest thing I have ever done. It physically hurt more than labour and I hope to never experience it again. After withdrawals comes getting used to the new medication which, for me, is two weeks of feeling like absolute shit and then another month or so of feeling completely numb inside, unable to feel anything {happy or sad} at all.

Throughout those first few months of twenty-sixteen I plastered a smile on my face and pretended everything was fine. I went out. Invited people to my home. Had people stay for dinner. Did everything I would normally do if I didn't have depression or anxiety. I think, looking back, most people would assume I was happy. They'd see me with a smile and laughing, out of bed, pretending everything was okay. Yet, they didn't see {or didn't care to see} that when I said I was going to the bathroom I was really hiding away as the worst parts of an anxiety or panic attack hit me. And then I'd return with red eyes from crying but a smile still firmly fixed on my face. I was lying to everyone.

And then lying became too much. Everything became too much. I had screaming panic attacks every single day. My Husband had to walk/drag me into my work because I couldn't leave the car from the sobbing. I was surrounded by people who knew I was sick, who knew about my mental health, and I just wanted them to ask me --  are you okay? And of course, with my head, I was entirely incapable of verbalising this to anyone. 

Twenty-sixteen taught me that people don't care enough to ask. If you don't look sick you are fine. That's it. And if you are sick you will ask for help, you will reach out, and if you don't nothing can be that bad.

I had a few people in my life who actively asked how I was going. Others knew to leave well enough alone and others pretended to care but, of course, could never really grasp the whole depression and anxiety thing and didn't care enough to try. 

After realising that everything was getting much worse I disappeared. I had friends and family who understood these parts of me. They didn't punish me for it. I had a few people {luckily less than a handful} who could not understand and made my mental health about them. More darkness followed. And then, finally, a few months after recovering from Swine Flu, after the depression from that disaster had lifted, I saw the light.

No, not everything is suddenly perfect. No, my marriage didn't suddenly heal itself. But... something. In the dying months of the year I became myself again. Or, as much as I could be. I got out of bed. I started walking the dogs more. Setbacks didn't take me weeks to recover from. I actually went out without my Husband or Bailey. I spent time with friends. I went to people's houses and didn't feel as though I was dying.


Still, there are things that have not returned. I am still not able to take B. to the park without having an anxiety attack. I still don't feel entirely comfortable having people {no matter how close} in my home. I still get blinding migraines after having to talk to people. I still collapse into sadness when I think of last year and what that loss meant for Bailey. I don't bake anymore. I rarely cook because the idea of having to keep an eye on more than one thing, to prepare a proper meal, leaves me dizzy and shaking. I still see black spots and stutter. I still hate leaving my home, my bed, my comforts. I still feel as though the world would be better off without me {and Bailey, especially, in particular}. I still have this one massive moment, hidden away inside, from last year that I've never told anyone...

But, you know what? Unlike last year, this time I am entirely optimistic that this year can only get better.

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