Back down the rabbit hole

Depression sucks. Like really sucks. And when you hit a low spot it can feel like the whole world is crashing in around you, flying unerringly towards the void that is opening up in your chest. I was pretty good for a while. Probably a little while too long. And as the old saying goes ‘what goes up must come down’. No, I don’t go through my okay periods constantly thinking ‘when is this going to end’ (not every time anyway), but I can’t help but always feel like there is some sort of inevitability whenever I do end up crashing head first down the rabbit hole. It reaches a point when you start to become aware of every tiny little thing, every little flux in thought and feeling, and you begin to wonder if this is the one that finally pushes you over that edge. Sometimes I describe it as a cartoon cliff, where you run out and you don’t realise you’re over that cliff until you look down, and it’s too late by then. Other times you can see it getting closer and you’re doing everything in your power to stop the impending edge but there’s always something that sidelines you and you almost willingly take that final step off the precipice. I don’t know which one is worse to be honest.

This time, it was the second one. This time I could almost feel it. Some people describe it a black cloud that hangs over you… well my black cloud has arms and it’s very good at tugging on my sleeves, my ankles, my hair – anything that it can grasp onto. I started my new job two weeks ago. I work in care, and the majority of my clients are elderly. My god was it an eye-opener. Training was three days of intense learning about policies, procedures and legislation, before 6 hours of shadowing. I also had to finish a care certificate in a week (think lots of online tests). This had stressed me out no end, I was exhausted, and I was honestly questioning whether this was for me. But I gritted my teeth and threw myself into the next bit, quietly ignoring the black tendrils appearing over the edge in my mind, and the void that was cracking in the middle of my breastbone. Next, I was thrown in the deep end a day later when I had my first call on my own; it went terribly. I came out of their house, walked straight to my car and burst into tears before I had barely closed the door. I sobbed and sobbed and gripped my arms around me in a way that I’ve always done so I don’t feel like I’m falling apart. The cracks spread a little further, and the edge crept a little closer. My old counsellors voice popped into my head saying ‘use your tools’, and before I knew it, I’d called up my boyfriend and I was blubbing down the phone to him. Thankfully he’s used to this and knew precisely what to say to help me calm down. I went home, stoically ignored my own mind and had thoroughly believed I had achieved this until my mum came home and I ended up having a panic attack. Now this should have been a huge clue to me, but I put it down to stress, cleared myself up and stealed myself for the next day. I told myself I’d get used to it, that I’d settle in, that it would be easier once I’d met people, but every morning it got harder and harder to get out of bed. But I still did it. I still tried to pretend that the idea of the world outside of my covers wasn’t equally causing feelings of both terror and apathy. I rubbed the semicolon tattoo on my wrist and forced myself up and out. I forced the smile on my face for all of my (mostly lovely) customers, and tried to pretend that the exhaustion was because I’d been standing most of the day and not because the cracks were making keeping together harder and harder each day. I scrambled for and swallowed my antidepressants like a person obsessed and again, I ignored the warning sign that I thought I would need them to get through the day. The edge got closer.

And then Tuesday happened. That was my final push. It was a big one too, and I willingly looked over that cliff and acknowledged its existence. I willingly held my breath and, mentally, fell Sherlock style into the darkness, whilst physically I broke down into another panic attack. What had happened you ask? The day had been a bad one anyway, I was set to have my last call around lunchtime, but the office rang me up to cover two calls in the evening. I made my way to the first, did what I needed to do, and started to make my way home for tea before my next outing. It was dark, the road home had many dips and winding bends and somewhat blind turns. I was going under the speed limit (even though I know the road quite well), I came round this corner up out of a dip and coming up on the left is turning. A car is speeding towards me (too fast…WAY too fast) before turning right across my lane down this road. This car missed me by a hairs width and I had to swerve onto the other side of the road to avoid a collision. I got home in a daze. I pulled up outside of my house and with shaking hands and tears in my throat, I called my office to tell them I wasn’t fit to make the next call. They found someone to cover me. That’s when I made the decision; the cracks exploded open and I folded inwards, giving in to the chaotic mess that had been threatening to overwhelm me in the last week. Now anyone is likely to go into shock following a near-collision experience, it’s terrifying, even though you’re not harmed it’s still incredibly scary. But this was something more. My mum found me on the stairs (after having crawled into the house) hyperventilating and imploding into a ball. The world had come crashing down.

All it takes is one push. Sometimes it’s a big one and sometimes a small one, but that’s all you need. I knew it had happened when the next morning I woke up and felt…nothing. I was completely empty. I hate that feeling, it’s like a hole in your chest that sucks all life and colour out of everything around you, pulls your ribs downwards, and makes you believe that there isn’t enough oxygen in each breath. Apart from that feeling, and the odd wave of irritability and pure hatred (mostly for myself), nothing much has changed. I get up. I do my job. I smile at the people I care for. I laugh. I still do everything that I need to do. And yet I just don’t care. None of it matters to me right now, and it feels like nothing ever will. It feels like I’ve never known good things, and it feels like joy will never be an option for me. The edge of the cliff is nowhere to be seen, but

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The semi-colon is used by authors when they could have finished a sentence, but decide instead to carry the sentence on. It’s a symbol of continuing even when you don’t necessarily want to. It’s a symbol of surviving. The heart is to remind me that there are people who love me.

this is because I’m too far over the other side and it’s too dark to even see it looking up. Like mentioned before, I have a semi-colon tattoo on my right wrist and an open heart on my left, and sometimes I find myself staring at them trying to remember the strength I put into them when I decided to have them done. I remind myself of the meaning; to decide to carry on when you could finish it, to survive, but my only replying thought to that is…why?. And right now, I don’t have an answer. I knew I had one when I got the tattoo, and I know that I have one when I look at my family and my boyfriend; that’s what I’m holding onto right now, that I have a reason to carry on. I’m holding onto the fact that somewhere deep down, I have a reason to get back to the top of that cliff.

I watched it coming and ignored it, even though subconsciously I was probably very aware of what was happening. I tried so hard to stem the progression but sometimes it seems like the world has other plans. Or maybe not the world…my mind. My mind has other plans. And sometimes, sometimes I’m a slave to the direction it decides to go. I’m floating through the motions of living and I feel like the only glimpse anyone gets into my true state is when I have some sort of crash. When it all comes flooding out, much like it is now. I’m writing to make sense of it, to let it have somewhere to go. I’ve run out of steam now and I don’t even know where else to go with this. I feel like I’ve rambled out into the ether with no real goal.

Be kind to everyone, and spread love. People need it more than we know.

Until next time, thank you.

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