Today is June the nineteenth. It is cloudy, slightly humid and the vibrant green leaves are swaying with the slight wind, making my backdrop 'crisp' each time it comes. I have a list of tasks ready to be ticked off throughout the day, including spending some time in my office, where I will probably spend more time dreaming of various projects that I'm about to encounter, rather than filling out my month of accounts.
I am able to walk around the house today, but my symptoms are making themselves known more than yesterday, which means that my wheelchair is on standby should a collapse happen. I am wearing sunglasses to control my eyes sensitivity to my laptops light, as well as having the windows open to their limit along with a fan turning at its highest speed - I blame this on my temperature disfunction.
The day is panned out in stages of controlling my illnesses, with water, salt and sweet foods constantly on hand and lots of rest time to simply let exhaustion take me over and do what it wants to do to my body. Though today is another usual day in what I hope to call my recovery, it is remarkably significant also. You see, on this day two years ago, I walked into confronting my greatest known fear.
Just hours before I attended my eighth Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Session, which I weakly drove myself to. I sat on the familiar itchy red seat and discussed how I had advanced from my previous session. "Nothing" I replied to my week of anticipated goal-getting and achievements. "What's stopping you Charlotte?". "Myself, my mind - my fears". A pause lengthened before I broke down into despairing, harrowing tears.
The reason why I had ended up in such an intensive therapy was due to my mind becoming consumed by depression and anxiety, which were heightened by undergoing heart surgery a few years previously. I had suffered from sudden collapses throughout my school years due to an uncomfortably fast heart rhythm along with huge bouts of unexplained illness. I had had moments of coming close to my heart being shocked out of the unnaturally occurring rhythm in form of a defibrillator - and yet at the time I felt somewhat invincible in the knowledge that I was young and had my whole life ahead of me, despite ambulance call-outs being at the forefront of my mind.
Though a heart ultrasound concluded that the scar tissue had indeed healed as it should have post operation, my mind felt as though it hadn't reached a state of healing. I began to fear movements that would have previously triggered a heart episode, which made daily living near impossible. Not only did I fear becoming significantly unwell once more, but I feared, with every inch of my body - death. I would break down suddenly in despair at even the word, a word which had me traumatised and broken.
And yet a handful of months onwards I came closer than I would ever have expected to my fear. I collapsed upon coming home from my therapy session with an unsuspecting heart episode. I became paralysed within the blink of an eye and some of my most precious memories were taken from me. I was disbelieved by doctors and had entered my biggest battle upon not only my body becoming able once more - but for an explanation, a way out of the horror I was living in.
My days consequently were filled with total nothingness. A nothingness that was truly nothing other than my stomach raising ever so slightly to signify that my lungs and heart were still fighting. I would only just understand the concept of what time was, and would stare at my clock between breaks of looking blankly at the ceiling, as though the digits held every answer to the universe.
It was as though every ability that I had ever grown or fought to hold had dissolved. I was partially blind, unable to hear, smell, smile, sniff, cough, sneeze, go to the toilet without the help of a bed pan, talk a few words as well as lifting even a finger from my bedside. Amongst an array of horrifying symptoms which I could never articulate well enough to put into words, my soul felt like it was being torn into tiny pieces, and Charlotte was ready to say goodbye.
Upon an afternoon which saw me soak the bed due to being too weak to even be rolled onto a bedpan and an astonishingly unsupportive telephone appointment with my doctor, I gave in out of desperation to my illness. I knew that whatever I was suffering from would take me, as my heart felt like it was tearing in half as well as each and every organ slowing down like a breaking clock. I stopped fighting, trying, hoping and believing - and slipped into an absolute pit of rock bottom. I wanted to end my life, for everything to be over and there to be no more pain, disbelief and heartache - but I couldn't as I was so physically incapacitated.
I was consumed in death. I was looking at the clock and wondering how long my body would hold on for. Would I be able to say goodbye to everyone who's ever affected me in a positive way in my life? Could I speak as eloquently as I'd hope to if they were in fact my last words? Should I be thankful that I know that I am dying? I cried without tears due to my body being unable to produce them. I cried for my sisters, their future lives. My parents, their parents. My friends, their friends. My past, present and future self. My potential, my value and my damaged soul. I fell into a painful and nightmare-filled sleep. I awoke abruptly as though I wanted to say goodbye to myself, and promised myself that I would sleep into death.
Twenty-four months later I survived rock bottom. I survived it because I believed that it was the foundation to living once more. I know that I came very close to meeting my end, but I believe that from knowing that I could fight to dream again. And I can say confidently that you can survive rock bottom, you can climb your way back to normality, and you can start to piece together the fragments of your soul which were torn apart so horrifically in your darkest moments.
Today I live to know the secret to what I wish I had known before, that we cannot stop our fears from happening, but we can learn to live beyond our fears, to use them as our greatest catalyst and to fight each day for our fears fear - our dreams.
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