Mental Health

They told me that 1 in 3 people will be diagnosed with a mental health problem. I nodded.

They told me that depression is a serious illness, and you can’t just ‘snap out of it’. I nodded.

They told me that the stigma of mental health needed to be broken. I nodded.

And then mental health started swallowing the people closest to me, and suddenly nodding wasn’t enough any more. This was real, and nobody ever taught us how to cope with that.

I think, I calculated when drunk last night, that there’s around 10 people who I’m not sure I could live with out. I think half of them have an issue with mental health. Eating disorders, self harm, depression, and other variations much more complicated than I’m ever able to understand. Some days, even for me, it can be a battle of fear to get up. Im terrified of a slip that will mean I lose them forever. I’m worried about them, and I think about them all, every single day.

And then, in ways much much less serious than my friends, demons started swallowing me, too. I’ve never admitted that to myself before. I’ve never accepted that in my own little way, I’m not normal. But it’s true, and I’m very lucky that right now, my life is going very well for me! This past 6 months or so has been awesome.

But mental health, especially when it concerns those who you really care about, is scary. I wish I’d written this post when I thought of it. Last night’s panic wouldn’t have happened if not for the alcohol, and 100 meters of darkness. Last night’s panic wouldn’t have happened if I’d had written this post last week when I first thought of it. Last week, when one of my very good friends took an overdose, and tried to commit suicide.

It’s scary. It’s absolutely crushingly scary, but I carried on with awkward laughter through my last week at university. And then I realised that I also had a million deadlines, and I wonder why I’ve had a headache for a week!

I’m lucky to be able to say that it wasn’t the end. My best friend told me, a long long time ago, that if it’s not okay, it’s not the end yet. Perhaps one day the end may come while it’s not okay, but for now, we have to live our lives with hope. I have to jump back onto the mountain that I fell off last week, stay as positive as I can, and bash out another set of exams, just like I did in January.

Sometimes you need to cry, and that’s okay. That’s human. Especially when it involves close friends and mental health. Life was never designed to be easy, but it’s a shame that school never made us better prepared for these situations, when they rolled off their facts to a classroom of nods.

Now, in my degree, when before lecturing on schizophrenia or depression, they give us those same basic facts that they told us in school, I don’t just nod. I breathe, I swallow, and I think, love and hope. It may just be facts for many of you, but it’s my reality, and I wouldn’t change my friends or family for the whole entire world.

The Beginning of the End

I guess that you could say that today is he beginning of adulthood. I’m absolutely terrified. Today, I lost my security blanket. Just thinking about it is bringing me close to tears. I’m afraid to admit, even to you people out there in cyberspace, that this afternoon I’ve waltzed around the house singing at the top of my lungs. Of course, I was singing to hold back the tears. Distraction, and something else to think about for once. When I cooked dinner, I nearly slipped. I sang louder. I was okay.

Perhaps it’s more than just today, and it is more of an acumulation of things that has made me so upset. I’ve been starting to ‘think’ for a few weeks, and the pulling away of my warm and fluffy blanket this morning has sent my brain into spiral mode, thinking and thinking and thinking.

It would be a lie to say that some of that is not happy thinking. I remember some things and I smile, like getting drunk with a teacher and how amazing my design teacher was when I did my GCSEs. Things like getting my grade seven flute and a design student of the year award are awesome. Equally though, I hate this time of year. Summer, when you’ve been in school for 14 years, is a time of endings. It’s a time of moving on, growing up, and as of last year, it’s a time of horrible memories. But I don’t want to talk about leavers. I should, but that’s irrelevant.

I’m not leaving this year though, I left school last year, and not much will change when I go back to university to start second year. But the staff members who provided security to me  in my last few years of school and especially this time last year are going. Although we may say we go back to school for flute lessons and DofE, we know that we go back for safety, in reality. We go back to see familiar faces and to ground ourselves in knowing that however stupid adults are, there’s some who care, and when we were in school, there was someone to look after us, and if we ever really needed it, they’d be there again. But those people are leaving or have gone. As of September, we will have no reason to go back to school. We are loosing our safety blanket, and our school era is well and truly ending.

I feel horrific. I don’t want to grow up. All my life adults have let me download, pressured me, never understood me, and placed unrealistic expectations on my shoulders. I don’t want to be an adult, and I am terrified of not having those few who do care to keep me safe. People don’t want out for you when you grow your, only those cloest friends, and theh may be hundreds of miles away. Adults go it alone, and thinking about school and growing up is hurting inside.

It’s the beginning of the end. The beginning of getting old and growing up. As a kid, I used to cry on my birthday for fear of getting old and dying. That fear has never felt as real as it does now.

I’m losing the adults who care, and I’m terrified of loosing my best friend. I’m worried about her, and I wish she knew how much I care about her. I’d never tell her this, but there’s times when I hug her and I squeeze extra tight in the hope she’ll realise just how much she means to me and that I’m always here to fight by her side. She wont know, ahe probably thinks I’m clingy. Sometimes it may be because I need her to hold me tighter and to make me feel safe, but often, I’m just trying to show how much I care. Words were never my forte.

I don’t want to grow up. It doesn’t work like it does in fairytales. It’s just not that simple, and I’m not ready to face the real world yet. And I’ll never ever be able to face it alone.

I hope that forever I can keep my best friend, and we can be young together. We can be the adults for each other, taking it in turns to be care giver and taker, like we have been so often when the adults in our lives have failed us. Sometimes, we’ve cried together, but we made it. I hope that the beginning of the end, and really being an adult won’t be too scary. I left school a year ago, I turned eighteen ages ago. I should be fine. But I’ve learnt thay life is never that simple. There’s always a mountain to climb. Now it feels like I’m leaving, and it’s like last year all over again.

I need to talk. I really really need to talk. I need to take time to think and accept. I need to understand everything, not just leaving school and these teachers leaving. There’s lots of things happening to and around me right now that I need to contemplate. 
I hope it’ll be fine. I hope she’ll be okay. I hope I have chosen the right path and am doing the right thing. I hope I can smile and have fun. And if I can continue to hope, it will be fine, because without hope, we are dead.

What I Want to Tell You

I want to remind you that I’m here for you, and I want to remind you that I care. I need you to know that I love you, and you mean so much to me, that I simply cannot find the words. You make me laugh and smile, you know when to mess around and wind me up, and when to stay quiet, hug me, or give me advice. It means more than anything in the world. This friendship is crazy, and there’s times when I’m not even sure how it happened.

I want to remind you that I trust you. I trust you with my life, and there’s been days that I would not have made it through without you. I know that if I ever needed you, you’d be there. It’s just a phone call or a plane ride. You’re never more than a day away.

I want you to know that you taught me to be confident, to believe in myself, and to start to learn to be positive. You’ve done more for me than many adults have. You’re wise beyond your years. You’re a listener. You care. You give the best advice.

Most of all, I want you to know that you can trust me, too. I want to remind you that you can tell me anything, and that I love you to the moon and back. Nothing will ever change you, because I have already defined who you are. I already know that you’re beautiful, funny, kind, and silly. I know you’re awesome, and nothing is ever ever going to change that.

I want you to know that you can call me, anytime. You can laugh, you can tell me funny stories, you can be drunk, you can be sober, you can be sleepy, happy, upset, or angry. I may not always be able to find the words, but I’m always here to listen to you. I want you to know that if you need it, I’m here to hold your hand. I’m here to fight by your side. I’m here to wipe away the tears. And when you don’t need it, I’m here to just be present while you’re angry, or to laugh with you when you’re happy, or to be excited with you when you graduate.

No matter how bad or good anything gets, or how far away I am, nothing changes that. You can always trust me, just like I trust you. I’ll wait until you’re ready, I’ll wait forever if I have to, but I’m here to be by your side. Always and forever.

So maybe you didn’t want me to know about therapy. Maybe you did and your hints were your own way of telling me without having to talk. Maybe I got it all wrong and you did want to talk. I don’t know. I’d like to know what is going on, I’d like you to trust me, because it breaks me every single day to know that you’re hurting. But I want what’s best for you, and perhaps telling me is too much. Just don’t forget that I’m here when you’re ready. Nothing will change that. You can’t change that. I’m ready to listen, and I’m ready to do whatever you need me to, or even the things that you don’t need me to.

I’m here to wipe away tears. I’m here to listen. I’m here to chat for hours on the phone, or even to sit in silence if it helps to know that I’m here. I’m here to eat ice cream and watch movies and play card games at 3am. I want you to know that I’m your friend. I want you to trust me, so please please try. I may not show it, but I think and worry about you every single day. Even now, you may claim that you’re okay, but nothing is ever just okay, and when you care for someone as much as I do you, the things you keep quiet are not forgotten. You don’t have to be okay, I’m your friend. I’m safe, like I know that you’re safe. I couldn’t live without you. I want you to know that. So don’t forget it.

Talk to me. I’ll wait as long as you need.

Things Happen

Life doesn’t always treat you kindly. In fact, often it can seem like life has it in for you. Life doesn’t want you, and you deserve nothing, because life is evil. Life can leave you broken, torn, and dying. Life can leave you suffocated by pain, and it can seem impossible to escape from the past.

It doesn’t matter though, because the world goes on, no matter if if is with, or without you. It’s taken me a very long time to realise that. You can stop, you can stress, and you can take your time away with tears and worry, but it doesn’t stop anyone else. They will leap ahead of you, and jump the gate. You will be left behind, drifting further and further away, until you are no more. And I wasn’t put on this earth to waste away. I have a bigger purpose than that. I have dreams I want to pursue, places that I want to go, and hopes to strive for.

That’s why love is important. Things happen, people die, children are born, people do wrong, people are hurtful, and people are hurt. But love keeps us grounded, and trust can keep us moving on, one step at a time. It allows us to keep up with the crowds, even if just for a while you have to be dragged along. It may take fifty years, but one day, you’ll realise the power of love and trust. You’ll realise that living in the past is only wasting the world, and you’ll realise that you must move on with your life. Things happen, and you don’t want to miss the happiness and laughter because you are trapped by the chains of pain.

But without love though, you will never be released from those chains. You may love those around you despite your pain, but it’s not until you can realise that someone loves you back, and loves you with every part of their soul, and maybe, just maybe, you deserve that love that you can trust them. Even then, trust can seem scary, but if you can leap over the gate and take that step, love will guide you. Soon, you’ll catch up with the others, you’ll be in sync with the world, and I’m told that it’s a much easier place to be.

And now, I’ve realised that love. I’ve allowed myself to trust. And I’m ready to start climbing the mountain. For now, we both struggle, and we drag each other in dribs and drabs, but if we can get stronger, we can help those around us. If we can achieve our hopes and dreams, we can save lives. You can be a doctor. I can cure cancer. She might save the starving child, and he may keep the heart of the baby kitten beating.

All we need to do is remember that things always happen. The world always turns, so let it happen, let the past be the past, and let’s strive for a better and happier future.

Restless

I’m often restless. When I’m stressed, I can’t sit still and work. I either want to curl up in bed and cry, or run as far away as is physically possible. When I’m waiting for someone to contact me, it’s worse. If I see that they’ve read my message and moved on I can get jumpy, and every theory under the sun will pass through my head. I’ll blame myself, and my bad mood will get progressively worse. And worse. And worse.

For the past week, I’ve been on the pill levest. No, it’s not helping. If anything, it has made the last week much, much worse. I’ve lost all motivation to do anything, and whilst he warned me it might make my mood worse, what he didn’t warn me was that I’d be lacking energy, enthusiasm, and drive. He didn’t tell me that I’d cry for seemingly no reason. And waiting? My lord, waiting is like an impossible task. I’m hoping things will improve once my body gets used to it, but for now, it’s hellish.

Right now, I’m waiting, and I’m frankly an emotional wreck. I’ve given up on work this afternoon, as I wait for my best friend to contact me and tell me she’s okay. Yet again, she ended up in A&E, but this time, I’m not entirely sure why. What I do know is that she’s going under general anaesthetic for a tendon reconstruction in her hand. I also know that it’s blown my emotions off the scale. It’s completely crazy! I’ve been under anaesthetic and I know it’s nothing to worry about really, but I’m curled up in bed, unable to lie still, staring at the ceiling, and waiting for her to explain what happened, and to tell me that she survived and she’s okay. Until then, I don’t think I’ll move. At this rate, I won’t even make it to my 5 o clock lecture.

I’m always restless, but this is crazy. The worst bit is, I know it’s crazy, but there’s nothing I can do to stop it.

So, I guess I must wait.

Please say it’s not too late.

I knew there was something wrong last night. I knew it wasn’t quite normal. I don’t know how I knew, but something in my head told me it wasn’t right, and so I couldn’t sleep. The silence was abnormal, especially when she’d said earlier on that she wanted to see something. I couldn’t understand, but I pacified myself, and I slept.

I don’t know what I dreamt about in my sleep last night, but I know that it wasn’t pleasant. I woke up this morning, my ponytail hanging out, my neck blotchy, my covers tangled and my pyjamas in a mess. Normally, I’m a delicate sleeper, who doesn’t move. My dad has described me as sleeping beauty. I was definitely dreaming last night.

I promised myself last night that I wouldn’t be the first to talk today. I swore that I wouldn’t send the first message, or the first snapchat. I knew she’d been out last night, but when I woke up today and saw that there was no reply to last nights messages, and no drunk snapchat story, I was sure it wasn’t right. Thinking that perhaps she’d just lost her phone, I sent her a facebook message. A few other signs led me to complete uncontrollable panic before she replied. She’s alive, at least. No, actually, I’ve got that wrong. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that she’s simply living.

It’s rather odd that I sensed there was something wrong, when she’s so far away. But perhaps I already knew, really. A few days ago, she told me that she might have to start opening her ‘open when’ letters soon. I questioned it then, asked her if she was coping, but she denied all cases of struggle. Of course she did, she always lies to me.

I’m heartbroken. I’ve told her that later, she is going to Skype me, and she has to eat before then. I thought I was a friend, I thought that I was somebody that she could trust, and talk to. I can’t give her s choice this time, I’m just going to have to show her ghat distance doesn’t change anything. Everything had been going so perfectly, and now she’s crashed so suddenly. It was always too good to be true. I’m so worried about her, because there’s nobody up there who knows, and who can care for her. Oh wait, there’s nobody at all who actually really believes it. It’s just me and her against the world.

I can’t fix everything, but I need her to talk to me. Now, the questions are spinning around my head, and I’m glad I don’t have any lectures today. There’s no way I could concentrate. How long have you not been eating properly for? What’s happened? Have you done anything stupid? Why didn’t you talk to me?

I’m here for you. I love you. It’s a shame that you can’t trust me to be by your side as much as I trust you, because right now, you’re falling from the sky, and I’m beginning to worry that it might be just a little too late for me to give you a parachute.

Just thinking is killing me. But this isn’t about me. This is because I care about you. Deny it all you like, but it won’t change anything. I care, and I want you to talk to me. I don’t want you to be alone.

I don’t want you to die.

Confession

I have a little confession that I need to make. Okay, I have quite a big confession, really. A few nights ago, I told my best friend that she would get sick, end up lying in a hospital bed, and die, and that there was nothing more that I could do to help her than watch her kill herself. When I now read that quote back to myself my heart flips and I’m overcome by a wave of sickness, because a few nights ago, I told a lie.

Of course, I didn’t just lie on a whim, and I didn’t lie to make her feel bad about herself, I lied for a few very particular reasons. I lied in her best interests, and now I’ve said it, I wouldn’t ever take it back.

I must tell you that I was angry and frustrated. After a good hour or so of reasoning with my friend, I felt like a nuisance, and I was helpless. Sometimes, it feels like I’m a rat, scurrying around. Getting in the way, causing problems, and generally being a pest. Nobody wants a rat around, because they’re dirty, unhygienic, and unwanted. I didn’t want to be that problem anymore, causing her extra stress and aggravation. Not only that, but I was getting angry at her for not listening, and at myself for not being good enough to make it better, and to make her listen. So, I was blunt. Blunt, and to the point, exhausted of any sensible suggestions.

Secondly, there is an element of truth to that quote. If she carries on like she is with her eating habits, they will only get worse. With nobody around to please, nobody to control her, and nobody to justify food at uni, she just won’t eat. Ever. I have no doubt at all about that, and it will result in her being in a hospital bed, forcefully tube fed and slowly dying, as the people around her wish that they’d done more while they could. The second part however, where I say there is nothing I could do except sit and watch her die, is harsh at best, and a lie at worst. I feel helpless, and I thought I’d done what was best, and it didn’t work. I’m out of ideas and ways to make things better for her, and so I have to sit here and watch it happen whilst the adults in the situation come to their senses. That doesn’t however, mean that I’m not there for her! I’m always here, it’s just that there is nothing more productive right now that I can think of to do to stop her dying. And that’s scary, very scary.

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Finally, I’ve watched it happen. Not only have I friends who have watched their own loved ones go through this, but I have been through it myself. A friend of mine has been battling with an eating disorder and other related mental health issues for a few years now, and last week was admitted to hospital on a more long term basis. I don’t know this friend anywhere near as well, but that doesn’t change it, or make it any better. Yes, it means that I am able to distance myself a little more when I’m not with her, but it doesn’t make it go away. It’s simple, I don’t want to see this happen to my best friend. Nobody deserves it. Nobody deserves to get to a place where they are so ill that a stint hospital is the only way to help them, because the people around them should have been supporting them long before that. I made the comment that I made because I don’t want to see my best friend like that, and I know that it may seem selfish, but it’s not. I don’t want to see that because she doesn’t deserve that. She deserves to go to uni, have the time of her life, and to become a doctor.

Of course, I can no longer go back and justify my statement. I cannot make it mean any less than what I said, because it is what I said. And whilst I know that it hit a nerve in my friend, and I hope that it will make her act in a sensible way, I hope that she can understand that I didn’t say it to be malicious. I said it because I care about her. It breaks my heart three times over to even think that one day, she could end up in that hospital bed. But I’m her best friend, and I will be by her side, no matter what.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

Guilt.

Guilt is an emotion that feels like a dagger through your heart.

Because you know what, I said something. I told people that she was struggling, I told people. I told the person who I knew she’d be happiest it’s me telling, and I asked her permission first. It hasn’t appeared to have worked out too badly thus far, but she was drunk. She was drunk and I shouldn’t have listened when she said it was okay to tell.

And now my best friend can’t look me in the eye when she tells me that it’s okay, and that she forgives me. Because she doesn’t know that yet! She doesn’t know exactly what’s going to happen, and how this will end. She’s not sure how she should feel about what I said, but when she sits next to me and can’t quite meet my eye, I know how I feel. Guilty. That dagger is back, and it stabs me again. I feel a little weaker.

But I needed to say it, the other half of my brain argues. It needed to be said, and that was the right person. She trusts that person, and that person is going to care for her. She listened to the advice that person gave, and that means that eventually, it will get better. But she never listened to mine, did she? And she’s still not happy that person was told, is she? She still doesn’t know what the repercussions will be, she doesn’t know how this will affect her life. And it’s my fault. The dagger strikes once more, this time twisting. The cut is deeper, more jagged.

She’s currently in limbo, undecided. I can see it. I know from the way she talks to me, the way she looks at me. Right now, she’s pretending that it’s okay, but that’s because she doesn’t want to hurt me. Deep down, she’s angry. She won’t tell me that, of course not, but she’s angry. She said that now it’s out, people can know the truth. But clearly, I don’t come into that category. She’s still lying to me when she tells me that this hasn’t and won’t affect our friendship. She’s deeper into that web than I think she even realises, and so the lies continue. ‘I’m okay, it’s okay, we’re okay.’ The dagger plunges deeper as I will every part of my body to focus on keeping the smile on my face.

I wasn’t here for the past few days, and I don’t know exactly what happened. She doesn’t want to relive it, she’s never going to tell me all of it, and I don’t expect her to. I just wish we could be honest about our emotions towards it, because in all honesty, a sugar coated friendship isn’t really a friendship at all. It’s just another dagger. This time, it’s sitting by the edge of my brain, and this time, it will only take one small slip to pass through, and that’ll kill me.

The anger will hurt me, but the lies will cause the death. Unfortunately, I don’t think I get a choice, but if I did, I’d always choose the first option. After all, pain is only temporary.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

Count on me.

‘I expect you to come and visit, and I can come and visit you’

A few weeks ago, I was worrying that she’s forget about me. Now I’m afraid that I’ll push her away before that.

It’s odd to wake up and feel like you can’t trust someone anymore. Half of you says that it’s stupid and you’ll push her away. She’s your best friend, and you need each other. The other half says that trust is dangerous, and you have to be more careful now than ever. The fight is exhausting.

I’m listening to Count On Me by Bruno Mars on repeat. ‘You’ll always have my shoulder when you cry. I’ll never let go, say goodbye.’ The irony is almost too much to cope with.

But don’t forget that ‘we find out what we’re made of when we are called to help our friends in need.’

We’ll get through this. Both of us. Together. Deep down, I know that I can count on you.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

Proud.

I heard online that yesterday was national best friend day. Of course, I don’t know the source of this statement, and although I did some research, I cannot find a conclusive statement. I’m inclined to believe that it’s not true, but I’m going to relish the opportunity anyway. This evening, instead of worrying, I’m happy. I’m smiling, I’m alive, and as I sat and watched the sun set, I decided that I think that it’s time I paid tribute to my best friend.

There is someone out there who I worry about every single day. Every waking moment I spent worrying, thinking about how I can make it better for her. I know that no matter how many times she’s made my problems better for me, I can’t solve this one for her. She’s always by my side, and she’s always there to provide a shoulder to cry on and a hand to hold. For that, I’m so grateful. Because that means more than any words ever can.

I can never even begin to understand what living with an eating disorder must be like, but today, she gave me hope. There are many times that I’m proud of her, for all manner of reasons. Proud isn’t a word that I aim to use too often, because I like it to be special. I relish the warm and fuzzy feeling I get when someone tells me that they’re proud of me, and I like it to be the same for those around me. Today however, I’m feeling really proud. It’s difficult to put into words what it is that has made the feel that way. I guess it has been building for a while now; I can’t name one particular event. Today was pretty special however. We shared ice cream at lunch time. For any other friends, probably a normal occurrence. For me, a shock. For us, something to smile about. Although it took some talking through, some fast decisions, and a hell of a lot of anxiety (she would never dream of admitting it, but I could nearly see the waves rolling off her), we did it. And I enjoyed it.

This evening, she was feeling really down. She’s eaten a lot more today than she has in a while, and in one of our little text chats, I feel like she let me see the side of her that I don’t very often get to see.

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That made me feel special. That, and she said today that she’d like a hug. Normally, it’s me asking for the hugs. When she’s fighting that food related battle in her head, I want nothing more than to hold her tight and tell her that it’ll all be okay. It means a lot to me that tonight, she said that she wanted that, too. Of course, none of this changes anything, but it made me smile. And you know what? I’m so proud of her that I’m getting that same warm happy feeling inside, too.

I don’t know what, but I feel like something has clicked today. I feel like I trust her more now, and that it’ll go on forever, this friendship. No, that doesn’t make sense. I’m not sure that I can put it into words. I just feel. I’m feeling better. I’m feeling a little more alive. I feel like whatever it is, it’s a good feeling, and a positive change. Not that it really is a change.

I know that the twenty first century is a very busy place, but this evening, I ask you to take some time out. I ask you to use that time to say thank you to your best friend, and to remind them that you’re always there for a hug for the odd time that they might need one too. And don’t forget to tell them yet again that you love them to the moon and back, three times over.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw