First birthday battles
It’s been a year since I wrote my first blog post!
One year on and I’m still fighting. Maybe not in the same way or for the same things but every day is a battle nonetheless. I think that is what makes mental illness so difficult, the fact that to recover, you have to fight your own thoughts and behaviours on a minute by minute basis. People talk about “my battle with [insert physical illness here]” but it’s just not the same. I’m not denying that physical problems can be chronic, life changing or life threatening, I have a chronic illness myself and know how difficult it can be to live with but the “fight” in these cases doesn’t take over your mind in such an all-encompassing way.
Take one day this week for example. I had an appointment that I needed to attend, which I both wanted and didn’t want to go to. I wanted to go because it is the only contact time I have with my recovery team each fortnight and I am really missing feeling supported at the moment. I didn’t want to go however because I knew that there was no way I was going to be able to express everything I wanted to and needed to in that hour. Then, when I don’t achieve that, I end up feeling unlistened to, unimportant and abandoned. So, fight one of the day is do I attend or not? Of course I do - I need some input - but then all the way there, all the way through the appointment and all day and night after it, I have to fight away the abandonment demons. But it’s not only a one level fight, there’s a meta- fight too. I battle the feelings of abandonment but then also the thoughts in my own head that tell me I shouldn’t be having the abandonment issues in the first place, the thoughts that tell me I am hopeless and useless and never going to recover because I can’t even cope with one simple appointment. I fight the thoughts that tell me I struggle because I can’t cope with being on my own, then the thoughts that tell me I will always be alone, then the thoughts that tell me I should hurt myself because these feelings are too intense and so overwhelming, then the thoughts that tell me I’m useless if I self-harm and it’s a backward step and if I start that again then I’m not trying hard enough, then the thoughts that tell me I’m a bad person for not just getting better... and so it goes on. But that is just one event of the day and even if we discount everything unrelated to the appointment that also happened that day, there was still the same arduous process created from the anxiety of my bus travel to and from it. ‘What if the bus is late or I miss it? I’ll miss the appointment... but I can’t miss it, it’s the only support I have. Why can’t I cope without support, I should be able to, I’m useless. What if I sit in the wrong place on the bus, the other passengers will know I’m useless too. They’re probably all laughing at me anyway...’ It is just interminable and quite honestly soul destroying.
So, I guess at the moment I am feeling a little battle weary. In addition to all the existential wars, I am continuing my fight for therapy as well as still waiting on the outcome of my battle to get my driving licence back. (It was revoked on medical grounds and I reapplied 3 months ago.) In fact, I am waiting for a lot of people to get back to me about a lot of things at the moment and whilst I wait the tension and agony just increases. I am not good at demonstrating patience!
Happy birthday Blog from the Borderline. Things have definitely changed in our journey so far and hopefully they will continue to do so, for the better, over the next year too.