I’m sitting here licking my lips, fingers tapping the desk, jiggling my feet up and down and staring at a blank document with the cursor blinking at me- ridiculing me. I really don’t know what to say apart from the fact that this isn’t one of my ‘usual’ posts… I suppose it’s more of an explanation as to why I keep promising to post more but nonetheless end up going AWOL.
I’m… not well.
I talk about life struggles and how God has helped me through so much and I talk the science of mental illness, casually alluding to the fact that yes, this does affect me personally…
But still, I have managed to beat around the bush and avoid mentioning that I’m really not well. When it comes to my actual (ugh I hate this word) *feelings* …I have major difficulty owning them, labelling them, expressing them and verbalising them. I joke about wishing that lobotomies were safe, effective and still common practice but what I’ve come to realise is that regardless of said factors, I would, if I had the chance, probably have all my emotional centres removed in the blink of and eye. I don’t care about the supposed evolutionary advantage- my reasoning: ‘we’re not running around in the wild with our lives constantly on the line anymore’. I don’t care about the whole human connection and affection thing either, it’s just SO MUCH EASIER to avoid this whole conundrum altogether if I just ignore the fact that *feelings* exist and get on with life.
However the trouble lies in the truth that I cannot ignore my way back to being ‘normal’ (whatever that entails). I’ve been hiding my true emotions and played the tough guy for as long as I can remember but suddenly everything seems to have got out of control. It must’ve been brewing for years but it was only over the last say 18 months that I noticed things were really heading south. I’ve been crippled by severe insomnia, daily exhaustion, panic attacks, irritable bowel syndrome and involuntary weight loss. Sh*t really hit the fan when my GP referred me to a psychiatrist. I knew immediately that I wouldn’t be able to afford the treatment. So I gave her permission (within incredibly strict boundaries) to speak to my Dad. Although my parents love me and support me in anything I do, their knowledge of my illness and the outlandish request from my doctor for me to see a flippin’ psychiatrist was unbearable for me. I never talk about what’s going on in my head to anyone- especially not to my parents… it’s just not something we talk about as a family. There’s now an enormous elephant in the room and I feel so judged and invalidated and misunderstood.
Seeing the psychiatrist terrifies me. It’s potentially my worst fear (and I have many, many fears). The times and dates of my appointments are one thing that I don’t have any trouble remembering because I’m just that anxious about the whole ordeal. As a student striving to work in the medical field and as a dental nurse, I know a thing or two about patient confidentiality but I still (irrationally) cannot trust my psychiatrist because I’m so so worried that he will accidentally tell my Dad that I’m really struggling, which would inevitably result in a ‘massive interrogation that I will never be able to escape’. I get so worked up days and yes, weeks, before my sessions that the impending doom is all that I can think about, I get so nauseous that I can hardly eat anything and I’m constantly running to the dunny with diarrhoea, losing strength and dignity by the kilo.
During the session, my chest tightens, all my muscles contract, my shoulders draw themselves toward my ears, I tremble under the tension and can barely manage a whisper. Most of my (minimal) communication is via a pre-prepared list of bullet points that I had jotted down in the 6-8 weeks between sessions. It’s terrifying!
I leave the session feeling relieved that it’s all over for another six weeks and slightly hopeful in the increased dosage prescribed for my medication but there still remains the lurking anguish that I’ve been referred to see a psychologist and need to make an appointment…
I have such an aversion to words and it’s so much easier to keep putting up a facade. But I know that it’s no way to live. Getting help and actually committing to it is to say the least, scary at the moment… but things always seem to look a lot worse before they start getting better. So I hope and desperately pray that someday soon I won’t be so afraid of words.
Featured image: my depiction of what it’s like to be a prisoner of your mind