I’m on the mend after 48 hours of being severely sick. I’m sitting here at home, with a cup of tea (sadly, with my stomach being so upset, I don’t think I’m ready for coffee just yet), trying to relax and feel a bit better. As long as food stays down I’ll be quite happy, though my stomach and I have definitely seen better days than these. I hate feeling sick.
I hate when my days have to stop because of whatever is going on in my body (or head). I hate when I am forced on having “grounded at home” days, and I cannot go to work, to the gym, or even just outside for a walk. Even trying to distract myself watching tv is almost impossible.
I said it previously that I’m a workaholic. Work has been, for a very long time, the only thing that made me feel great about myself. In my darkest days, working has been a life-saviour, and if my brain is still working and functioning, it is because work gave me lots of things to do, to think, to process, allowing myself a good break from whatever demon I was fighting. It still does it today, to an extent.
I used to dread the thought of the weekend. Whereas now Fridays are my “yeeeeeaaaah” days, back then they were a nightmare of epic proportions: what do I do now, alone with my mental illness?
You know what I never understood? How people can be very sympathetic with you, very understanding and caring, if you say something like “oh, I am so low right now, I have the flu and I’m feeling miserable”, but dare and say “my head is not right at the moment, I’m in a very bad moment and I can barely contemplate the thought of getting out of bed” and brace yourself for a barrage of very weird reactions.
No, fresh air won’t help me feel better. Maybe it would, but maybe I can’t bear the thought of going outside my house alone. Why don’t you offer to stay with me and play by ear to decide what to do together, if you really want to be helpful.
Yes, a nice bath and a cup of tea may be a good idea, but these are not antidepressant. If I’m on a panic, anxiety induced attack, I would be too scared to have one in case I die: I had to jump out of a lot of the loveliest, luxurious bath I made for myself because I felt slightly uneasy, I got scared of fainting inside and die for drowning in it…
Why don’t I go out and see some friends? Which friends? Maybe it shouldn’t be me asking friends out but the other way round? Have you ever thought that maybe, just maybe, I’m embarrassed at my condition and I don’t want anyone to see me like this? Or, worse, that I don’t want to see people who would only see me for the illness I bear and go “aaaahhh poor youuuu” because I already feel sorry for myself enough?
Fair enough, dealing with someone with mental illness is not easy. I understand full well that we can be extremely moody, even unpleasant at times. We can seem to be egoistical, to “think only about ourselves” and to not take into consideration other people’s feelings. I know because I’ve been dealing with my mum, suffering with extreme anxiety and depression for half of my life and believe me, at times I really hated her behaviour (I still do), even though I know is the illness talking and not her. Imagine the fun when the both of us have been suffering!
Please understand this: we are not mean, we are not insensitive, we are ill.
The worst thing I have been told is “come on, life is beautiful, just snap out of this bad mood and enjoy it!”. News flash: someone who is suffering from mental illness can’t just snap out of it: they are not “just a bit sad”; they are not “a bit tired” or going through “a bit of a rough moment”. If it was that easy to “just get over it”, rest assured that anyone would: no one suffering with mental illness, myself included, would rather keep suffering for the sake of playing the poor victim of a very cruel life. We would love to be able to just “have a very good night sleep”, wake up refreshed and leave our issues behind us, like they were part of a very bad nightmare.
I know that mental illness has been (and still is) a taboo that people don’t want to talk about. There is some awareness, but still a lot of misconceptions and ignorance around it. When I say that I managed to work full time, with a baby and a house to run even though I was depressed and suicidal, people look at me like I was an alien fallen from space. Not everyone who is suffering will stay locked inside their house, hiding under the blankets in their beds. Most of us manage to live a kind of normal life. I knew of colleagues who were very depressed and still, the routine of coming at work at 9am and leaving at 5pm gave them something to hold on, a reason to wake up every morning and fight for another day.
Mind you, some of us have to do it anyway, like it or not, if we want to pay bills and put food on our tables. To me, work has been a holiday from my thoughts. Even though I had to deal with panic attacks and constant anxiety, it was better than being at home and have only my thoughts to deal with.
When my nightmare finally arrived at some sort of an end, I became super workaholic, enthusiast, excited, you name it: I just wanted to savour every moment, to treasure every second. Even though it took other 3 years to be better, and therapy to guide me into a stable, clear, and positive self, this attitude at work (and life) didn’t stop. That is why, on days like this, where I’m forced to stay in bed and do almost nothing, I feel like an animal trapped in a cage. Of course, I’m happy that I’m just vomiting because of a stomach bug and not suicidal because my brain is in deep trouble, but still.
Oh well, my rant is over, let me rest a little bit more now, fingers crossed tomorrow I will feel better!