I can’t believe it’s been a whole week since I last posted. Things all roll into one when you’re ill and in bed all week. It’s been a really bad week for me depression wise and chronic fatigue wise. The week started with me receiving a letter that said I was unsuccessful with me application for PIP benefit. I’ve been on PIP for two years since I had to quit working due to my depression and it’s something that I really value because I am too ill to work at the minute, I’ve tried and the money from the benefits gives me a little bit of independence and a lot of support to live my life. Reading through the decision letter was something that triggered my depression big time because it was such an unfair decision. I am still really angry and disappointed that I’ve been judged as I have. I’d had a face to face assessment with a person who was not medically trained at home, because my anxiety prevents me travelling into town. The assessor had stated that I seemed fine in person and did not seem anxious at all which is completely ridiculous! I don’t know how anyone can pretend to know what anxiety looks like if they don’t suffer with it, it’s different for everyone! I hadn’t slept for three nights before that assessment, I was sweating heavily and could only give one word answers because I was so nervous, I was continually pinching myself throughout because that’s how I handle stress, by hurting myself in some way. Maybe if I’d pulled a knife out and started cutting in front of the assessor she would have thought I was anxious then!
The letter went on to say that my medication appeared affective because I basically had not attempted suicide in the past two years. This outraged me and made me seriously doubt the future of my country. It is so easy for some people to get benefits, people who go on jobseekers who don’t look for work and live off the benefits nicely for the rest of their life. I cannot get benefits because they think my mental health is stable, because I haven’t tried to kill myself lately and it’s really hurtful. The whole assessment and decision letter was based on the physical side of illness, the mental side of illness was completely ignored and I can really relate to the issues many people suffering with mental health go through when trying to get financial help. Mental illness should be given the same rights as physical illness, it isn’t any less suffering because you can’t see it! I feel let down by my government and country, I feel betrayed and not cared for. I’ve been ignored and refused something that I should be eligible for, simply because mental illness isn’t recognised the same way physical illness is.
So my week started off badly and as a result, my depression was worse than it’s been in a long time. I felt useless, lost and so stressed about life. Tuesday the doctor rang and told me I’ve got a b12 deficiency so now I have to take tablets for that, which explains why my fatigue has been so much worse the past month. To top the week off, I caught a cold. It sounds so stupid, the common cold made me bed ridden for three days. My immune system has been so weak since my chronic fatigue came on, I catch bugs so easily and I just can’t fight them off. I caught the cold of my mum who got over it in two days and here I am, five days in and I’ve only just been able to get out of bed, and that’s only to lie on the sofa. It’s really hard getting bugs with chronic fatigue because on a normal day, I feel ill, achy, fatigued and brain fogged so adding a cold to that is just awful, it completely flawed me and I couldn’t fight it off. So Christmas is going to be an illness filled one this year as usual.
It’s been a terrible week and it’s hard to believe anything well get better right now, my depression is in its element and I’m devastated that I have to live like this. I’ve just got to hold on to the little things that make my life worth the fight, like my fiancé who loves me, my family who love and support me and the hope that one day, I won’t have to fight so hard just to live.
I remember learning about the fight or flight response in A Level Psychology, and I just understood it immediately. I wish I could say I’m a fighter but I’ve always leaned more towards flight. It’s something that I’ve really struggled with. As a teenager I lived just across from my high school and I remember having a particularly bad day and just running home. I did this at least four times in high school and got in so much trouble for it, My Mum used to always send me straight back to school but it wasn’t something I could control. I would be confronted with something that scared me and just run home without thinking, I couldn’t stop it and I didn’t understand it. I felt weird and weak because no one else ran home to their mum when they were having a bad day.
Whenever I was due to give a presentation in school, it made me freak out so much. I know most people don’t enjoy giving presentations in school but for me it was terrifying to the point that I would stick my fingers down my throat to make myself sick, just so I could get sent home. There were times I would have a group presentation and it would be with my friends and they depended on me to do my part, they didn’t particularly like doing presentations either. Instead of sticking with them and being strong, fighting my fear, I would have the day off school pretending to be ill.
If I go into a shop and it gets particularly busy, I can’t handle it and I literally do a runner out of the shop. I often just leave my fiancé standing there wondering what happened. When I go out somewhere and a stranger speaks to me I pretend not to hear them and keep walking or I freeze up and my fiancé has to answer for me.
At University I was in a lecture one day when the lecturer said the second part of the lesson would be in random groups, I was so scared I snuck out of the hall and went home. I did this in a lot of lectures and eventually stopped going to any at all because my anxiety was making me so scared and weak, it was horrible and I hated myself because I am a smart person and if I had got through University, I could have a good career and be doing something that matters.
It’s all examples where my body and mind have chosen to just run instead of face the issue and its so frustrating because I want to be the type of person that just faces my fears and goes in head first determined to get it done. But it’s something I can’t control, no matter what I do, if I get confronted by something which scares me, I flea without thinking, I do anything to get out of that situation. It’s why I don’t go out much, here in my flat, nothing can confront me and nothing can make me feel like I need to run away. No matter how many times I say to myself “You can do this, you’re strong” I can’t. It’s like an invisible barrier that stops me, it won’t let me carry on, it wont let me confront my fear and fight.
When the sun sets, most people are settling down for the night. Winding down after a hard day and looking forward to their bed. My brain works in the opposite way, as soon as it gets dark my anxiety wakes up and decides to wreak havoc. It’s like everything I’ve ever worried about is suddenly the most important thing in the world, my brain starts going over scenarios in my head and it’s like listening to a hundred radios all at once. My Fiancé dreads night time because I become so on edge and so stressed. I’ll be worrying about something in my head and he’ll just look at me and say “You’re doing it again”.
It doesn’t help when my depression then decides to put it’s opinions into the frame as well, it’s like spending time with two people I really don’t like but I have to put up with and there is no way to shut it up or turn it off.
I go to bed and lie in the darkness thinking about such bizarre things like how many ways I could potentially die that night, all those embarrassing moments and how I could have acted differently and saved myself the humiliation, how am I going to afford to keep living if I can’t work, does my Doctor secretly hate me, could the oven potentially light itself and set fire to the flat. Sometimes I wake up suddenly in the night because I remember I haven’t done my homework…..then realise I am 23 and left school six years ago!
I can laugh about it when I wake up but in the dark while everyone else is sleeping peacefully, it’s not funny and it’s painful because I don’t want to fall asleep worrying about every issue I could possibly have, I don’t want to feel on edge and scared. But no matter how much I try and tell my brain that it needs to stop and rest, it doesn’t.
Anxiety is awful, it brings out the worst, makes you see things that are abnormal, it makes you believe things that aren’t true and there is no way to rationalise, all you can do is suffer through it and hope that eventually your body will become so exhausted it forces your mind to shut up.