WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY – MY THOUGHTS

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Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and as you can imagine, being an ex-suicidal person myself, I have a very special connection with the whole thing.

I cannot believe that, couple of years ago, I seriously contemplated to kill myself.
For three good years I thought every day, every single minute of my day “I want to end my life, I can’t go on like this”. It was just… just hell. My mental health was spiralling out of control, I had panic attacks every few minutes, my body ached, I couldn’t eat, sleep, breathe; I was living in a constant paranoia of having an anaphylactic shock, of ending up unconscious in the streets, or at home, leaving my baby alone to fend for himself. I was scared to have to endure another day, but at the same time, I was scared to go to sleep and have one of my nightmares where I’d be suffocating (and yes, I couldn’t breathe for real) in my sleep.
I couldn’t see a way out. My ex-husband, if anything, he made things even worse; doctors brushed me off or threatened me with social services; my family was too far, I had no friends I could talk to, it felt like the whole world was telling me “just fucking end it”. I saw no point in going on. What if I never snap back of this hell? What if it is only going to get worse? No matter how much I try to ask for help, I get treated like a lunatic, an exaggerating first time mum who should care for her son instead of thinking shit, nobody is willing to talk to me and see what the heck is wrong with me, what is the point of living through the next hours, let alone days, if this is what my life will be for the foreseeable future?

Oh, yes, I planned my end millions of times. In my head, I wrote millions of letters to my son to ask him to forgive me for being a bad mum, a weak mum, for not being there to see him becoming a wonderful boy, to not be with him for his milestones etc. But then…. Then his tiny little hand would grab my finger, his lovely, big, brown eyes would look at me full of love and… and I would put my plans on hold, and tell myself “I just can’t…. I can’t leave him”. I’d find the strength in me to endure another panic attack, another paranoid episode, another drop of my blood pressure because I couldn’t eat (or I’d trigger another panic attack)… and then back to square one.

Crawling out of that hell has been brutal. Brutal. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I still bear massive scars that I’m working on with my therapist. I’m still frightened that I might slip back into it. Every now and then, when my hormones go a bit crazy, and maybe I’m tired, or just not in a good day and I feel my head going a bit wild, I have an immediate anxiety attack and I can feel the red alarm in my brain shouting “oh my gosh I’m going mental again”. It takes me a bit to calm down, to reassure me that’s not the case, that it’s just a bad moment and that things will be ok.

It’s funny how people think that it is so easy to spot a person who’s suicidal or dealing with some issues. It couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, you can hear a lot of people saying, “oh my god I so want to die right now” (I do it all the time when my Personal Trainer decides that I’m in for a treat), maybe some people think about it when they are sad and dealing with a painful, embarrassing situation. However, I can assure you, the majority of people really serious about it will do their best at hiding it. It is a very dark, morbid, and disturbing thought, not something you feel like chatting with your friends about it. You become the best at pretending all is ok, even when inside you everything feels dead. It only takes one silly comment to make suicidal people freak out and feel “I shall never speak about it”. In addition, when your mind is blurred by your mental illness, you can’t think straight anyway: even if you have help around you, you cannot see it. You cannot reach it. You don’t want to reach it, because the monster in your head fills your brain with negative thoughts, like “they will make a fool of you if you say it”, “they’ll think it’s just a phase that you’ll grow out of it soon”, “they’ll brush it off making you feel dumb as shit”, “you are worth zero and so are your problems, so nobody would be interested anyway” etc.

You know, in those days, what I was truly desperate for? A simple hug. A genuine, heartfelt human interaction. A small act of kindness. Someone sitting next to me telling me “it is ok, I’m with you”. Someone holding my hand. Few words straight from the heart. Hope. I wanted hope. I wanted to know I was not alone, even if my mind was in this deep, negative fog that I couldn’t see it for myself. I didn’t want to “call a hotline”; I didn’t want to ask for help, I had no strength, willpower, mental energy to do it, and most importantly, I didn’t see the point of doing everything by myself only to be told stuff like “the waiting list is three months (yes, story of my life)”, all the fucking bloody time.

When I opened this blog, I sworn I’d be candid and honest about my issues. I am not famous or, you know, I don’t have any illusion to help saving people from their misery because they read my shit and think “there is hope out there”, but I felt it was important to just say it out loud “this is who I was, these are the scars I bear, I am not ashamed of them, I am not embarrassed, certainly I’m not happy about having them, but still, it is what it is and there is nothing wrong with saying it”. Maybe, just maybe, someone will indeed read this, and maybe, just maybe, he/she will feel less alone, and maybe who knows, maybe he/she will reach out to me, to someone, and say the most difficult, hard as an anvil word to say: “help”.

Believe me, even though there are certainly people more predisposed to suffer from mental health issues, it is nothing more than a Russian roulette: today you are sitting on your sofa, in your beautiful house, surrounded by your beautiful kids and family, and the next day shit happens and you find yourself in a very dark tunnel, with no apparent way out but to kill yourself. Don’t think you are better than this, that it will never happen to you, that you are living the life and you are too happy to care: you really can’t predict what life will throw at you. Maybe you are right, maybe you are not.

Be kind to people around you. Invest a tiny bit of your time to check on your friends. Talk to them. Make them feel like they can talk to you, and I mean TALK, to you, not just vomiting random words to fill the time. Do not assume that those who look strong and ok are truly strong, and most importantly ok. Sometimes a coffee and a chat can do wonders, or even just a smile. Maybe it won’t save anyone, but surely, even if it was the tiniest thing ever, you managed to drop a tiny positive thing in their darkness…. And sometimes, sometimes that tiny drop is all that someone needs to feel the strength to fight another day.

If you are reading this, and a dark cloud is currently creating havoc in your head, please, I beg you, listen to me. I know how you feel. I know how desperate your sitatuion may feel to you. I know you are probably feeling lonely, useless, better off six feet under. You may fell this way because life served you a series of shitty stuff to deal with, or because you screwed it up yourself and you know what? it doesn’t matter. Believe me, it doesn’t. Oh, and don’t feed on that crap that you see everywhere around you. No one’s life is perfect, not even those of the celebrities that tabloids and instagram tries to force down your throat. It is so easy to fake it on social media. Forget about everything: the whys, the whos, the whats. focus just on you. You, yes, YOU.
You are special. I know you don’t believe it, I know you are thinking “da fuck are you blurbing about bitch?”, but you are here, alive, right now. This is a miracle in itself. My grandad, who’s had a (not so) lovely “vacation” (as he used to tell us) in a Nazi camp, used to tell me “there is only one thing that there is no remedy yet: death. Everything else? there is a way to fix it if you want to”. There is a way to fix what is happening in you. It may not be easy, it may not be readily available, it may require a bit of work, but I promise you, it is there. Don’t surrender to the monster in your head: he knows shit nothing. Please, please reach out to someone. PLEASE. Please don’t think nobody will listen to you, please don’t think there is no hope. I promise you, there is, there fucking is. I know you don’t see it, I know. Believe in it. Whatever happened, even if you royally screwed it up big time, it doesn’t have to end like this. It doesn’t. Whatever you are going through, you are not alone, and you are not the only one. There is people out there like me, like you, who suffered or are still suffering and that will be more than welcome to listen to you should you wish to open up. Don’t give up on your future because of what happened in the past.

Please, please, I’m begging y ou, reach out.

if you are a UK resident, Samaritans will be there to help you: https://www.samaritans.org/

My heart is with you.

OH, YOU ARE MY BEST FRIEND

I have been thinking about writing the following entry for a while, but I have never found the words, or moment, to do it. I kind of avoided talking about my best friend so far because she is the most precious person I have in my life after my son, and even though it is not the first time I shout to the world what an incredible person she is and how much I love her, I kind of kept her away from my blog because… because she deserves so much, and when this thing started I was not in the right mental place to honour her.

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This is one of the craziest pictures of me and my best friend, my sister from another mother, my soul mate, my partner in crime, my beautiful friend Sara. Yes, I was dressed as a unicorn, for the record. Yes, it is not the best picture ever, we probably had one drink too many to care anyway when we took it.

We know each other since the dawn of time, but we became very close friends few years ago: my life was shit (I had recently told my ex husband that he was, well, an ex) and she wasn’t doing great either. We started talking, and then sharing our stories, and before we knew it, we were spending every second we were awake texting each other.

People dream about finding “the love of their lives” and make no mistake, I still long to be loved romantically, but what I have found in my friend goes beyond that: she has been there on my side through whatever storm I had to face, whether big or small; she listened to anything I had to say, without passing any judgement, with her arms open to accept whoever I was in that moment (including an inconsolable, depressed mess); she gave me comfort, strength, love, care; I never, ever once felt embarrassed of being truly myself with her, because she is too special, she has always loved me way more than what I loved myself and she never failed to remind me of that, even when I was too depressed to appreciate it. She has always been the only light in my dark, horrible tunnel, and  I know that whatever life will bring, she will be just one text away from holding my hand and helping me facing my next war.

She is more than my heart, more than my soul. She is an angel. When nobody remembered I existed, she was the only one who made sure I had the most amazing birthday present waiting for me at home. When I spent two weeks crying solid because my ex boyfriend dumped me, she knitted the softest, most precious scarf so that I could have wrapped myself in it and feel her hug. When I screamed at the world how ugly I felt, she painted the most beautiful portrait of me to remind me that whoever I see in the mirror is not what she sees. Honestly, I am the luckiest person in the world to be able to receive the honour of her friendship, and I always feel like I don’t do enough to celebrate her and to tell her what a gem she is.

Hey, it is not all tears and sadness though: when we are together and the mood is right, we barely breathe so much we are laughing. We are like two peas in a pod. We could spend endless days in pyjama on the sofa without even getting up to go to the toilet. I remember the first time she came to stay for a week at my place: before she arrived, we planned billions of activities. Oh we were supposed to do everything and anything, partying hard, drinking even harder, crazy life. Well, we barely left the house, and when we did it was because we had no other choice (like when we ran out of toilet rolls…).

We can talk very deep and serious things, and three sentences later go bonkers and tell each other the most hilarious jokes ever heard. We curse like sailors, we drink prosecco like it is sparkling water and we could potentially live on a diet based on Aperol Spritz and lasagna.

There is nothing I wouldn’t do for her.

My love for Sara is immense, and I’m grateful, honoured and blessed to have her in my life.

I love her so much, and to preserve our beautiful friendship, I recently felt the need to “push her away”, because I was becoming a horrible person and she didn’t deserve such an awful person like me on her side. I was in a very dark place, my head was full of disturbing thoughts. I was scared, I was badly scared I was slowly going back to my dark hell. She was living a truly magic moment and I was just not in the right mind: I got dumped by what I thought it was the love of my life (more like the leech of my life, but it took a while to see it), I was humiliated, used and abused; he managed to crush every single bit of me and I felt lost, helpless, useless, stupid…. at the same time, she was beginning a new relationship, and living exactly the opposite. I just wanted to die, because even though rationally I was absolutely thrilled for her (and I still am!), at that point in time, everything she was experiencing was exactly everything that it got ripped off from me. I had to take a break, I had to be alone this time, truly alone, to face my demons by myself, because letting her enjoy her moment was paramount and she didn’t need a negative, depressed and damaged person on her side. Also, I knew I could have hurt her down the line (not voluntarily, of course) because I was simply not remotely capable of thinking straight, and believe me, I would have rather killed myself than do anything to make her sad. Coming back to her when the dust settled and the dark, negative fog left my mind felt truly special. To quote Harry Potter (that she really loves), it was like when Ron came back to Harry and Hermione after he left, due to having his mind clouded by holding the horcrux for such a long time: he not only came back to save the lives of his friends, but also managed to destroy the horcrux with the sword of Godric Gryffindor. Ok, I didn’t save her life, but fuck yeah I destroyed my fucking horcrux for good (and boy, it felt so good being able to put “the end” once and for all to that chapter of my life).

So yes, my beautiful, gorgeous, incredible friend: I absolutely love you with every single atom of me. I damn the distance that keeps us so far from each other, but as the saying goes “true friends are never apart, maybe in distance but never in heart”. Never forget my special gift (the mighty lemon) is waiting for you, and it will be my absolute pleasure seeing it on you. You deserve everything and some more, and I will always be your friend forever.

Ooh you’re the best friend that I ever had
I’ve been with you such a long time
You’re my sunshine and I want you to know
That my feelings are true
I really love you
Oh you’re my best friend”

RECOVERY 101

Beware, this is going to be a potentially “what did you just say?” entry, so if you think you may end up being upset (which is not my intention anyway, for record), stop right now. I’ll try to measure words and expression as best as I can, but I know I’m about to state some very “potentially upsetting” things so you have been warned. If you keep reading, “do at your own peril”.

This is a rather distressing thought that has been going on my mind lately; by seeing how my blog is going, after having a look around WordPress, I feel the need to let this thought out of my head and into “the wild”, even though I know it has the potential to feed an unwanted shitstorm: is it me, or is there such a thing as a “depression fandom”?

Let me explain before one of you calls 999 and get me locked up either in jail or in a mental unit.

I’ve noticed that, out there, there are a plethora of sad, upsetting, and negative entries (not in the sense of “bad”, but more like “a story or a personal entry not conveying a positive message”); the vast majority of them receives an incredible amount of views, likes and comments. The ones where the message is more uplifting, positive (as in “I was suffering from this but with the help of that I’m now in a better place”) are kind of not that popular.

Maybe it is just my impression and it is all in my head (wouldn’t be the first time either).

Maybe it’s just me noticing more “negativity” because I’m in this new mode; after so much therapy and positive work, I see my mental illnesses getting further and further away from me whilst I ride in the sunset, and I would like to see (and bring) more messages of hopes to encourage and help people be on a more positive journey with me than to “drag them down” with my sorrow stories.
Hey, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that these stories shouldn’t be written, read, shared, liked, published, you name it: I firmly, strongly and undoubtedly believe that these stories have an incredible importance, both for those who write them (writing is a wonderful therapy, I for once use it to clear my mind) and for those who stumble upon them, read them and feel less alone in a world that rarely proves to be kind to them. So yes, if it is not clear enough, I want those stories out, if you have them in your heart please let them out. Don’t be ashamed of them: you may not know, but your stories maybe will inspire others! Someone, somewhere, right now, is looking for them.

What I’m scared of it that these stories will stop being an helpful anchor for someone desperate to know he/she is not alone with his/her mental issues, but an ugly chain of negativity and sadness, as in “the more I write about negative things, the more likes I’ll get, the more I’ll dig deep in my negativity to get more likes” which will basically end up upsetting the writer (because believe me, even if I try to make my issues sounds funny, it is not a pleasant experience to re-live them and put them black and white) and attract the wrong kind of audience: not the one who can relate, but mostly those who enjoy “laughing at someone’s misfortunes”, and those who could relate would end up thinking “oh my, there is not a single thing out there that makes me want to try and get better”.

ab6621389e98c6d924fa44bd9f58599fI know, I’m panicking over nothing probably. I just… I just would love to let people suffering know that there is hope. There is. I recently lost a very close relative (my mum’s sister) to mental illness, because she thought she had no hopes. Fucking hell, I thought I had no hopes, when I planned my own way to check out of this world. I was luckier: I didn’t completely lose the plot, a glimpse of me still begged me to fight, I grabbed that incredibly minuscule flame with all my strengths, and here I am three years later, sitting on my sofa, enjoying all the beauty that life can bring. I could have never, ever dreamed to be in these shoes just six months ago. Maybe next month I’ll be back at crying my eyes out every night, who knows.

Whatever the future will hold for me, I don’t care. I now feel the urge to shout the following to the world: don’t surrender, please. You may think you are useless, that your life of pain is not worth living and you know what? I thought exactly the same. I know how it feels to stare right into the void, with a heavy heart, your mind spinning and nothing, no one, zero reasons to live through another hour, let alone a day. You know what I also know? That you are worth more than what you think you are. That you pain, yes, that ugly, fucking monster in your head, doesn’t define who you are: it is part of you, but only a part. You are you: there is no ne like you, never was, never will be. Isn’t that something special in itself? I think it is, and mind you, I thought I was better off six feet under not long ago. Forget what people decided to label you with: weirdo, ugly, stupid, boring, annoying, mental…. Fuck them. They are them, you are you. You are what you decide you are. If you don’t want your mental health to define you, you have the inner power to make sure it won’t. Own your weirdness and fuck who doesn’t get it, because guess what? there is nothing to get about it! This is your offical permission to disobey: your mental illness, other people, yourself. Do you, and you only, because there is only you and you are enough.

Listen, I’m not “miss positive guru 2018” and I don’t give as single shit about becoming it either. If you really want to know, I’m single with not really much hopes to find someone (hey, single mum here, it’s not like I’m out and about living the life and meeting people), I am not wealthy, I have no friends close by outside my colleagues, so don’t think I’m one of those rich and famous sanctimonious coaches who blurbs about positivity and shit whilst doing “Ka-Ching!” on the side. I am an average Jo (ok maybe a Joanne!), I consider myself I survivor, and I still sail in this sea of shit, even though right now I seem to have reached a lovely, pacific, quiet little island of my own.

My heart breaks when I hear that someone decided this world was too heavy for his/her shoulders; when I hear, or read, people suffering saying they are alone, that no one gets them, that few friends stuck with them, that are getting bullied, isolated, dumped, you name it… I know how horrible it feels. I know. I have been at the receiving end of all these things, sometimes more than one at once. I just can’t stay here and watch it happening without trying to do something about it, without at least sending a positive message out there, a little light of a candle in the darkest of the nights.

I decided that if I am here, if I survived my journey, it can’t be just because “I got lucky”. There is a meaning to this, probably bigger that what I can see at the moment, but in the meantime, I decided that I will do my best to:
1 – share more positive things / messages;
2 – be more grateful;
3 – spread the love;
4 – reach out to everyone I can and say “I’m here if you need a shoulder to cry on”;
5 – to give hope, to inspire the will to find that fucking hope.

tumblr_m79hzkXhaK1ra41m8o1_500There is so much shit in this world already and I refuse to be part of it or contribute to make more of it. Please, please, I’m begging you, join me in this quest, let’s reach out to fellow sufferers, let’s stick with each other for good or worse, let’s appreciate us more. If you are a friend, an ex-sufferer, a relative, whatever, please be kind, support us, cheer for us. You may think that your words are just nothing, but for one of us may mean a reason to fight another day.

 

SICK SICK SICK

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Me at work in between sick moments. I looked like shit and I felt just as shit

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.

mentalThe 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!