Hiya loves. It’s been a while hasn’t it? The world’s gone to shit, we’re living in weird little bubbles of anxiety but safety. We’re fighting for things we should have been fighting for a long time ago, yet somewhere in the midst of it all, we’re all dealing with the same old stresses and strains and hopefully experiencing rays of joy and love too. We’re pretty spectacular beings really aren’t we?
Long time readers will know I have a colourful and varied past with my mental health. I was diagnosed with bipolar in my twenties after surviving troublesome teen years filled with sadness and turmoil. The 20s and 30s weren’t much better if I’m honest. There were long periods of darkness and self-destruction, post-natal depression, anxiety and pain. Fun right?
Back in December of last year, I could feel myself slipping into some not too pleasant feelings and habits. I was tearful, angry, sad and really didn’t think much of myself. So I contacted my GP and got a referral back to mental health services. Not much happened if I’m honest, I saw someone, they passed me to someone else and I had a face to face appointment just before lockdown kicked off.
It was in that appointment, my bipolar diagnosis was finally revoked officially. The last year or so, it had been questioned by a couple of MH professionals, but after that appointment I had it there in black and white.
It was a bit weird. For 14 years I’d had this label. This explanation. Then all of a sudden, I didn’t. But if I wasn’t bipolar, what was I? Why was I like this? I understood why they’d retracted it, because I certainly hadn’t had the highs, god knows I hadn’t. I’d been wallowing in this weird sense of detachment and depression for as long as I could remember. The world felt like it was behind a glass wall. It was all going on around me, but somehow I didn’t feel part of it. I watched, I laughed, I cried, but never really felt involved. And every so often, even from behind that wall, it all felt too much. Every piercing sound, bright light, nasal stinging smell overwhelmed my being. I would breakdown and retreat. Whatever job I was working, I would leave. I’d shut out my friends and family. My whole body would shut down and I’d cry, clawing at my skin, desperate for some peace from the noise in my head.
I’d read a lot about autism, and thought maybe that was it. My inability to function in ‘normal’ places, my social awkwardness, my sense of detachment, but it was a no-go. The practitioner told me I didn’t line my toys up as a kid or obsessively read books, so it couldn’t be that (that’s a whole other world of a blog post).
So here I was in a mental health wasteland. A nutter’s limbo if you will. That was until this morning.
At 11.30 today, I had a telephone appointment with mental health services. As always, I was dreading it. My last one a few weeks ago resulted in me sobbing down the phone to some poor woman for over an hour. I wasn’t sure I had the energy, but here we were.
We talked bipolar, we talked medication, we talked about my main issue. Depression and Anxiety. The doctor explained that although the bipolar diagnosis had been revoked, there was no definite diagnosis when it came to mental health, that it’s transient, and ever-changing. At the time back in my heavy-spending, thrill seeking 20s, bipolar might have fitted. But right now, it doesn’t and that he could only diagnose me as having recurrent depression.
It was at that moment I realised, I’ve been desperately searching for an explanation, a reassurance, a reason. When really the fact of the matter is, I suffer from depression and anxiety and most of the time, I actually manage it quite well. And no amount of diagnosis, emotional prodding and poking is going to change that. It is what it is. It doesn’t define me.
I am so much more…
I am an intelligent, funny, kind woman. I’m a supportive friend and partner, I run a successful business that has fed and clothed my baby for many years. I have showered that baby with the love and care she deserves. And I also live with a mental health condition. And that’s okay too.
We’re all living with our own stuff. And as humans we can be very, very hard on ourselves. I am the queen of self-deprecation. And that sucks, but if we can start to un-learn some of our cruelties we’d get on a lot better wouldn’t we?
It seems dismissive of me to say, “don’t worry, you’re ace, just get on with it!” I’m not, our struggles, our pains, our situations have profound effects on the lives we lead, but what I am saying, is cut yourself some slack. If you can, be kind to your self today. You’re doing an awesome job, I’m absolutely sure of it.