A Bad Day:
How it Will Get Better and Why it is Important to Reflect
There are some posts that are really scary to write/publish, even for someone who writes and talks about mental illness ALL THE TIME. This is one of those posts.
It's so important that people are as open about their bad days as they are about their good - it helps us feel better understood and less isolated.
I couldn't really do what I do, without being completely honest with you.
[the post contains some descriptions of suicidal thoughts, which may be triggering to some readers]
Yesterday was a really bad day.
And I mean really bad.
How do you judge whether a day is bad?
Mental illness is not a competition. One person's best day, could look similar from the outside to someone else's worst... We're not here to judge each other, but to support one another and make sure that nobody feels alone anymore.
Feeling bad can bring on feelings of guilt (because others might "have it worse"), shame or confusion. If all your days are bad, how do you know what a bad day looks like?
I judge whether or not I'm having a bad day, by comparing it to MY other days. I'd been having mostly good days (with a bad day about once a week, but yesterday was the worst day I've had in 2018 so far)
Yesterday was bad
I woke up with what felt like a brick in my head. It kept me weighed down and glued to the pillow.
At first I tried to focus on the good stuff, and build myself up to the day, but something kept me just glued there. My limbs felt like they were too heavy to move, my head was thick and I couldn't get past this darkness that was clouding my up my mind. I really felt pinned to my bed.
After a couple of hours of trying to fight it and still being unable to move, I started to lose my mental energy and the dark whispers got louder and louder.
The first thing I thought of was mum. It's incredibly frustrating to me when I think about her on a bad day, because it has been long enough since she died (9 years) that I can usually think back fondly and focus on the happy memories. When I get thrown back into thoughts of her on a bad day though, it feels like I'm right back in the raw grief of the months that came immediately after her death.
I started becoming frustrated at the fact that no matter how long I lived, or what I did, I'd still only ever have had 19 years on earth with her.
I cried for a while, which released just enough tension for me to roll onto my side and curl in the fetal position.
At this point, I started to become really worried about myself and wonder whether I was having an episode of C-PTSD or whether I was maybe experiencing a nervous breakdown. I have been really overworked emotionally recently with a lot of big life changes, so I wondered whether or not it was all catching up with me.
I'd like to stress that it's possible to think about suicide, without being suicidal. At no point yesterday was I actively contemplating attempting suicide, but I was totally withdrawn from the world and there were moments where I really couldn't see the point in being alive any more.
It took hours to build enough energy and enthusiasm up to go for a wee, which I had needed from the moment I woke up.
I found myself becoming increasingly angry with the world. I have had PLENTY of good days recently and done TONS of work on self care. I fight for Mental Health Awareness on a daily basis.
If there was more funding or more resources available in the mental health system, I would have already been helped by now. I could have been building from one of the milder days I'd had and, although there's no easy answer to mental illness, I could have been supported on my journey to recovery.
I was angry that I was alone and in my room and thinking about suicide, despite the fact that I'd spoken to plenty of medical professionals about how unwell I was over the last 18 months.
I wondered how many people had been lying in a similar position to me over the last few days and felt infuriated by the notion that some of them won't have made it through.
In the mental health system, which means that we REALLY need to start looking after ourselves and looking after each other as best as we can.
I'm not going to lie and say that there was some big turning point that changed the day into a good one. There wasn't... Human Contact made it survivable though.
- I contacted the Samaritans, to talk about how I was feeling. They signposted me to some other places that I could get help.
- I made the decision to open up to my support network about how I was feeling; first on Twitter and then IRL.
- I went for a walk with a good friend.
When I feel low, all I want to do is shut myself away from the world. There were points yesterday when I seriously considered deleting all my social media accounts and withdrawing from people. I had to fight SO HARD to force myself to reach out.
When I agreed to the walk, it was honestly the last thing I wanted to do. I wanted to cancel. I did cancel once, but when my friend reiterated the offer of a walk I reluctantly accepted.
What we want, isn't always the same as what we need. And, although I could have happily gone back to sleep without ever getting up in the first place, I knew a walk was going to be GOOD for me.
Some of you will know what a big deal it is to see a human and to go outside, when it's the last thing you want. You are the people who will know how hard I'm fighting and just why I'm so proud of myself today.
Today is a little better. It's not the most fabulous day that I have ever had, and there's still some sort of pebble in my head, but it isn't as shitty as yesterday. I don't feel like I'm on top of the world, but I don't feel like I'm in hell either.
I don't know what caused yesterday, if there even was an external cause, but I know that there are things that I can do to take care of myself and make sure that next time is that little bit better.
I'm not ashamed of being ill, I know that it isn't something I can help. I do wish that I could have just a few weeks a year, without feeling ANY symptoms though - just for a bit of a break.
If today is your yesterday
Always remember that you are not alone. 1 in 4 people will experience mental illness during their life time and, although not everyone talks about it openly, you can find communities of people who do online.
Know that this is temporary. I cannot emphasise this enough. No matter how bad you feel right now, it will pass. You'll get to a day that is easier eventually, and it will be so worth it when you do.
You can help. Your actions can make life a little easier for tomorrow, they can also make life harder. Remember that neglecting yourself can exacerbate your mental illness and lead to becoming really unwell. I'd really like to encourage you to read about mental health basics and how they can help you achieve little goals every single day.
Take it seriously. If you're experiencing suicidal thoughts, or you're having a day that is far worse than what you are usually used to, please please please don't try to pull through this alone. Talking to people can be scary. I know how hard it is, but it's also so important. You are surrounded by more people who care than you think, and there are support groups that you can turn to online. Remember that if you need to reach out, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123 (UK and ROI) and talk to them about how you are feeling.
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